When A Dad Goes Bad

A 7 Hour Gaming Session Of AD&D

2nd Edition (Spikehelm Campaign World)

The Back Story: (aka the idea that became the setup for this game)
DM Notes: All players may not be able to make every game. In fact, I have many players that have differing schedules. As a result, our group winds up having many different game and player combinations. As a DM you'll need to be flexible enough to be able to add or remove PCs in some credible way when their players don't show up for a few game nights -- I normally wait for at least a few missed nights before removing a PC. I usually "gently NPC" missing players’ PCs if it's only a night.
I'm bringing two players back into a game that had continued on without them.  Their PCs are now months behind the rest of the group, so we'll be running them independent of the others.
Originally, this game had 6 players in it, but it was constantly being held up because some of the players couldn't make it to the game nights.  In the end I had 2 players that wanted to continue on with their PCs, so I used a magical mishap to teleport them away from the group.  Now the players of Ritter and Rading want to continue on from this same aborted game, so I extended the mishap to have them teleported away as well, but to a different location.  You've got to love how easy it is to do this kind of thing in a fantasy game!
Ritter's player had created a few pages of background and a personal quest that he needed to fulfill.  Rading's player also started to create a background for his PC, but it's currently all in his head, so he told me about it.
From the sounds of both their histories, they might be related -- the stories not the PCs -- so I after talking to the players we decided to explore this and see where it lead.  Thus the setup for this game.  It's nice when your players help to setup the back story.
The Adventurers: (aka the Player Characters)
Name Class Level Gender Race Brief Description
Ritter von Gerechtigkeit Paladin (Lathander) 4 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Rading Bard 3 Male Southern Durnite (Human) N/A
Cindus N/A N/A Male Wolfen NPC
Session Start: Saturday - 4:00 pm
Location: Southern Durnite
Game Date: The 7th day, in the month of Thawing, in the year of the Gold Hunter, in the 6th Age, 941 Years After Great Crossing.
Moon Phase: Last Quarter
It was late and the group had just stopped to make camp.  Daniel, a self proclaimed Battle-Mage, had just leaned down to start the fire when he vanished in a swirl of golden sparks.  Before anyone could do anything the swirls started to consume anything else that moved, first a pair of horses, then the other two members of their party and their horses and the pack horse.  Ritter and Rading were the farthest away from the fire, but as the golden sparks moved towards their horses Rading leaped to pull them away.  The sparks had already started to crawl along the rear of the horses, so Ritter moved in to pull Rading away.  None of them made it.
With a splash into icy water Ritter, Rading and the Horses appeared in the middle of a Spring, snow-melt river.  The only problem: Ritter was in full chainmail and laden with heavy weapons, so he sank like a rock. Rading was a bit better off, but he still was dragged down.  They struggled to the surface to find that they were in 5 feet of snowy runoff, with the horses heading into deeper water which aimed them at the far shore.  They were blue lipped and just barely able to keep above the water.  This forced them to head to the opposite shore and away from the horses and all their gear, but with herculean effort they made it.  Once out of the water, Ritter got Rading to cut him out of his armour so they could go after the horses and gear.  Precious minutes burned away while they stripped down, but they hit the water and even though neither knew how to swim very well they pushed out into the river and paddled after the horses.
Ritter was the first to get close to them, by sheer raw strength.  He was also the first to get pulled under their hooves.  After being trampled, he managed to get out the other side and even started to swim back towards the horses, but that's when Rading went under them and right into Ritter.  Ritter, seeing how badly off Rading was, grabbed him and swam to shore.  As soon as Ritter could use his Lathander-granted powers to heal him, Rading threw up a lungful of water and started coughing and spluttering.  With his friend in no immediate danger, he ran down the shore and called after the horses.
Luckily they responded and came trotting over.  Ritter looked around; he needed to quickly get things done.  First he located shelter -- a small copse of trees on this side of the river.  Next he had to go and retrieve his armour and their weapons -- it wouldn't do to be unarmed on the plains of Southern Durnite.  He stripped his horse of gear and rode it back across the river, grabbed their discarded gear and quickly headed back.
After starting a fire and putting on a kettle of tea to warm them, they went about hanging and checking over their stuff for any water damage.  Radings' instruments had survived unscathed -- thanks to their expensive waterproof cases.  Ritter had to spend several hours repairing the straps and ties on his armour, but the pannzar (or arming coat) was soaked and would need at least 2 to 3 days to dry out properly.  Otherwise, his gear was sound.  The only thing that was ruined was their dry rations -- they were soaked.  That meant that they would be without food in a few days as the rations were already spoiling.
They cooked up everything they could to preserve it, and waited for 2 days in the copse for the pannzar to dry out as much as possible -- wearing wet armour in the icy chill of spring could be fatal.
Since they didn't know where they were, they headed downstream hoping to find somewhere to resupply and get warm.  Hours passed before they came to the end of the spring runoff -- it opened up into a wide and shallow flood plain going miles in all directions.  They decided to head East so they wouldn't have to cross the water.
More hours passed as they rode over open rolling plains and before they saw a large ruin sitting on a hill in the distance.  With nothing else in sight, they headed for it -- at the worst they would be able to see the surrounding area for tens of miles the next morning.
As they entered the ruins, the giant oak tree that thrust itself out of the centre and covered most of it becalmed the wind and all went quiet as they passed under its boughs -- creepy, but understandable.  As they moved through the ruins looking for a way to enter one of two remaining towers, they found old skeletons of dead humans and humanoids, each one had a spear struck through it -- some pinned to the ground and others hanging from the stone walls.  This caused them some alarm, but they searched the immediate area and couldn't find anything more out of the ordinary.  There was even a good sized copse of trees growing down the lea of the hill starting from the ruins all the way down to the bottom.  Small prairie animals and bugs were everywhere and the horses were at ease, so they decided it should be safe.  Ritter took the first watch.
He was walking around the small fire that they had started in the main building's fire pit one second and the next he was waking up on the ground, stripped and hog tied.  Rading was in a similar state, but still unconscious.  Then a grating voice started talking, just behind him where he could not see who it was.  They talked about many things but the voice confronted Ritter on his past and demanded to know just one thing or it would leave them to die.  Ritter bartered with it and got it to show itself to him before he would tell it what it wanted to know -- that way he could use his divine powers to tell if it was evil or not.
What he saw was something out of a nightmare.  It was a wolf made halfway into a man and it was huge -- well over 8 feet tall and at least 400 pounds of muscles and sinew -- with teeth the size of knives and claws the size of daggers.  But as he scrutinised it he could detect no evil from it, and with everything that they had talked about, Ritter now understood why it had done what it had done to them.  Had he seen it while armed and armoured, he most likely would have attacked it, thinking it was a monster.
No sooner had they finished talking than Ritter found himself waking up again, facedown where he had been walking before all this had started.  He would have thought it a dream, but he was still stripped and so was Rading.  There was also a large wooden bowl full of berries and nuts.  It was almost dawn, so Ritter grabbed his clothes and made sure that Rading was awake.  He explained where he was going and headed for the northern tower, as it was the tallest and most intact -- it would be a fitting place to greet the morning and give praise to Lathander, "The Morning Lord."
Ritter made it through the hatchway in the roof and found that the area was covered in arcane runes and glyphs that reminded him of what he'd seen on his lost companion, the Battle-Mage.  He would have looked around more, but the sunrise was approaching and he still needed to prepare.  It was a glorious sunrise and Ritter welcomed the warmth of his god into him.
The moment passed and Ritter stood with time to investigate... or not... As he stood, he saw a band of Orc Raiders heading for the ruins.  As fast as he could he descended and caught Rading's attention.
They quickly got the horses saddled and loaded up, then turned to getting Ritter's armour on.  They were able to get ready for fight or flight before the Orcs entered the ruins.  Ritter took position at the edge of the wall -- in a well hidden spot -- waiting for the first one to come around the corner while Rading took the horses deeper into the forest.
The fight was an odd one.  First almost half of the Orcs dropped unconscious to the ground, which greatly increased their chances of survival.  When Ritter saw that the ones that were still awake were starting to kick the downed ones, he charged out.  That initial charge killed 4 of them and brought him between the woken and unconscious ones, but at a cost; he was pierced by 3 metal bolts.  He used his healing powers to repair some of the damage.  His position also showed that there were not one but two groups and that the second one was going around the oak tree to get behind him and wake up the others.  That was a big problem!  Luckily he was not alone.
Rading came around the corner and saw the other group and ran at them.  Unknowingly he stopped them at the perfect place -- a bottleneck between the oak and the stone wall.  He held it for a few traded blows, but then his inexperience in fighting -- he was a bard after all -- started to show.  His light fencing blade was not meant to stop the much heavier blades of the Orcs and in the tight space he was knocked back and down.
As the Orc moved in to kill Rading, a powerfully thrown spear hit it in the chest and hurled it to the ground.  Then another one flew out of the trees and took the Orc two back in the throat -- pinning that one to the wall and blocking the escape of the middle one.  A final spear flew over Ritter's head, slamming into an Orcish shield and providing him with an easy opening.
Even though only a few seconds had passed, Rading was able to recover and go back to holding the bottleneck.
The creature -- a Wolfen -- that Ritter had talked to the night before, stalked out of the woods and began to methodically slaughter any Orc that got in its way, including the prone ones.  It waded in beside Ritter, allowing him to break through and attack their archers.  So intent was he on killing them, that his first strike cut one in half and carried him down the hill in a long slide that for some reason he found hilarious.  He was still laughing at the bottom when he heard a fierce howl of pain.
Two Orcs had hidden high in the oak tree and as soon as the Wolfen turned his back on them, they jumped him and one was able to stick a poisoned dagger into his back.  The Wolfen, in all his fury, decapitated both his assassins with one blow, but he could already feel the poison firing its way through his veins -- within moments he was down and dying.
Rading could do nothing but continue to hold his bottleneck, but he could see a few Orcs break off and head back around -- once they got behind him he'd be dead, but to flee now would also mean death.  He renewed his attack, trying to finish off the two remaining Orcs.
Ritter came charging back up the hill and met the Orcs coming around the oak tree -- he hacked through them in his need to get to the Wolfen.  His total lack of concern towards them broke the moral of the remaining Orcs, who fled rather than face his blade.
Rading had finished his fight as well.
It seemed like only moments had passed, but all was quiet except for the whimpering of the Wolfen in its death throes.
Ritter had used all his healing gift repairing some of the damage he had taken from the crossbows; he had nothing left to help this creature.  All he could remember was their talk last night, so he prayed to Lathander for aid to save him.
As he prayed, the sun crested the ruins, broke through the bower of the oak and bathed the scene in its golden radiance. Ritter, his hand still on the creature, felt a fire start on his back and spread through him as if he were the one poisoned.  It was a horrific thing, to feel yourself die, but Ritter held on and through clenched teeth growled out the remainder of the prayer he had started -- Lathander gave him the strength to survive it.  When he looked down the knife wound was closing and there was a bubbled pink froth stuck to the fur.
Cindus was the creature’s name and his race was Wolfen and he stated that there was now a blood debt between himself and Ritter.
The adrenaline had worked its way out of their systems and hunger and thirst set in.  The humans settled in starting up a fire to cook up their rations; the Wolfen grabbed up 2 dead Orcs and walked off.  From the fire they could hear the cracking of bones and the rip of flesh.  Minutes later Cindus came back and picked up another Orc and retreated to the forest again -- more crunching and tearing ensued before he returned to stay.
In the end, Ritter and Rading told Cindus what they were planning to do.  Cindus listened to their story -- and as it sounded to him that the natural balance was being threatened -- he told them that he would join them.  He did warn that he would most likely draw trouble in the more inhabited areas.
They both agreed that they were willing to risk it if he was.
-- To Be Continued --
Session End: Saturday - 11:00 pm