Friday, July 5, 2024

Building Bhakashal – Session Report


My Wednesday group has stopped for the year. In our previous session the lads had an encounter check with 5 min left, they opted to roll and find out what it was rather than waiting the week and rolling first thing next session. We rolled an encounter with bandits. I grabbed a sample bandit crew from the 1st Edition AD&D Rogues Gallery to check for the makeup of the group.

It was a very large group, 123 NPCs, organized into 7 units of varying sizes, most of whom were mounted. Since the party was far from Bhakashal, the bandits rode horses. Since it was at night, the bandits had a few torches but were generally hard to see. I rolled for encounter distance, and they were 300’ apart, behind a section of forest. We rolled for surprise, neither side was surprised. When that happens, it means that the two groups notice each other about the same time. I told the party they saw some torchlight flickering through the trees, and the bandits heard the sound of the caravan moving. The caravan travels dark wherever possible, but with almost 90 giant lizards they make some noise while moving. Craight the Swift (the caravan master) sent out a guard to investigate, there was a clash of steel and the guard returned.

He had been attacked and slayed his attacker, when he turned to leave he saw another figure in the distance turning around too. Craight acted instantly, I rolled to see what he would do (I typically come up with 3-4 options and roll between them). In this case, he asked the party warlock to stay with the caravan, then sent it off away from the bandits, he called over 10 guards and a guard captain (all mounted on giant lizards) to stay with him, all the other guards went with the caravan.

He ordered the caravan seer (priest) and caravan warlock to stay their ground with him. The caravan Seer , Hurna Gamelin cast a prayer spell on the party in anticipation of the battle. The party Warlock, Mahl Unoss the Puissant, took out his Wand of Conjuration and summoned two wyverns (randomly determined), which he immediately dispatched towards the force in the distant trees. Craight asked the rest of the party to stay with him.

The party crossed the mountains with Craight, fought with him, gambled with him, talked maps with him, were saved by him, they said yes. I played Craight as plain talking, practical and ruthless in defending his caravan.

The bandit leader, Waymar the Lion, is a disgraced former Lord of a nearby kingdom (they are miles from Bhakashal at this point), he works as a bandit to attack the holdings of the other Lords who discovered his dishonorable works and brought him to account. Waymar is no fool, he reacts just as fast, I roll to see what he does, and the result is sending out three units to the party’s location, and another two out to flank the caravan, anticipating that it might flee rather than stand its ground.

The remaining units stay with Waymar.

His caravan Seer, Pyringa the Coal, activates Fire Shield, enshrouding her body in holy flames. Their caravan warlock, Garmondgol the Reed, travels with Unit 7, commanded by Ygami Ayse, 6th level  Kutya mercenary henchman of Garmondgol’s. Garmondgol casts Charm Plants on a section of trees immediately beside their main group, they will now work to tangle anything that comes through.

The Unit 1 and Unit 4 bandits take off to cut off the caravan if it chooses to flee (which it did!). They travel without magical protection.

Units 2 and 3 from the bandits appear in the clearing, far apart, the unit 2 lancers spread out and charge directly, the unit 3 bandits attack the flank and pull their horses up in a line to fire crossbows. The unit 5 bandits are going around the long way to approach from directly behind the party and hopefully achieve surprise.

The party responded. When you are being fired at and charged, you get to fire back if you desire. Several party members shot bows and took out mounted 4 bandit crossbowmen, the caravan guards shot crossbows and took out a few more.

The other side shot crossbows and took out a few caravan guards and did minor damage to a few PCs. The party Thaumaturge (thief/magic-user) asked which of the Unit 3 bandits was shouting orders, he then used Magic Missile to target the leader, any attack that reduces you below ½ your HP while mounted dismounts you, the leader shook as the missiles lit him up, and fell to the ground. Magic missiles on the battlefield are very cool, they weave through the chaos to unerringly find their target.

Badass.

The party Seer cast Cacophony of Lies on 5 of the charging lancers, all failed their saves, and the spell took effect. They stopped their charge and began to argue with each other, increasing in intensity, soon abandoning the charge entirely. They scream accusations and abuse at each other, unable to act.

Craight the Swift charges out towards the remaining lancers as they charge, at the last moment he springs into the air using his magical boots and comes down on one of the lancers, splitting his head open with his sword.

The party illusionist was casting a Spectral Force when one of the crossbow bolts, shot from the Unit 3 leader, struck him in the arm, disrupting his spell.

The remaining lancers arrive in the next round, and the crossbowmen drop their bows and charge from their flank with broadswords or battle axes in hand.

Then the remaining 10 lancers and leader arrive. There are 9 party members in the group, 10 guards, the caravan seer and the caravan warlock. The way things were set up, the lancers attacked the party and the caravan warlock. The lancers are 0-levels, so most of them missed, but 3 hit, doing minor damage to the PCs.

Mahl Unoss now casts his first spell (the initial action was with his wand), Stinking Cloud, it commences away from the party and envelops most of the charging bandits. They all fail their saves, LOL, and are down for 4 rounds.

The caravan guards, under the cool eye of Seer Hurna Gamelin, priest of Eddea, target the charging bandits not caught by the cloud with crossbow bolts, between the 10 of them they slay them all.

The party engages in melee with the mounted lancers after the charge, who have switched to broadswords. Since they all got their charge attack, the party Mercenary (fighter), Spartan (monk), Seer (priest) and Slayer (Ranger/assassin) get to respond.

The Spartan uses his magical glaive and slays a lancer handily. The Seer uses his magical Beak and Claw, a short sword dagger combination, if the sword hits, the dagger automatically hits. He has used this a number of times, and he consistently misses with the beak and hits with the claw. This time it worked, and he hit twice, slaying a lancer.

The Slayer used a longsword and gets one attack per round against 0-level lancers (I hold over this rule for my table, in Bhakashal it disappears and is replaced by a crit system that gives high level fighters extra attacks), so he butchers 4 of them with 5 successful hits. This leaves 4 lancers for the Mercenary to deal with.

At this point the Unit 5 bandits are coming around and will attempt to surprise the party, the bandits in the Stinking Cloud are neutralized for 4 rounds, the bandits hit by the Cacophony of Lies are still unable to act, shouting and arguing with each other for another 5 rounds.

While all this fighting has been going on, the two Wyverns have been attacking the main group of bandits. As there are no player characters in the area, I take 5 at the table and roll the results of the encounter. I roll first for surprise, which was successful for the wyverns (the bandits were not expecting an aerial assault). The beasts dive, shrieking, and randomly target two bandits, and two of them are snatched in their beaks, flown into the sky, torn in half and fall to the ground below.

I figure that counts for a morale check, not all of the bandits are seasoned veterans, but all units make the check. As the wyverns dive again, the units separate, forcing them to choose targets. A die roll determines that they both focus on Unit 6 again. This time there is missile fire from 18 bandits, 7 of them hit, doing damage, but not enough to take either Wyvern out of the sky.

The two leaders of unit 6 throw nets at the creatures, trying to foul their talons, one misses but one hits, and the wyvern screeches in anger, veering off. The other whips it’s tail around as it passes, skewering one of the leaders, who fails his poison save and dies on the spot. The leader of Unit 7 hurls a spear at one of the Wyverns as it passes and scores a crit, blinding it, and it crashes into the trees.

The wyvern with tangled talons circles, this gives the soldiers time to shoot, but they roll terribly and it manages to strike again, this time not bothering with talons and using the tail, it skewers the other unit 6 leader who dies instantly.

This triggers another morale check, and unit 6 breaks up and flees. Unit 7 crossbowmen manage to do enough damage that the second wyvern crashes into the ground, and dies.

I now switch to the party Warlock who has fled with the caravan. Borun the Majestic, an 8th level Bhakashal Warlock, along with 40 guards, are being pursued by Units 1 and 4, who are trying to cut them off. The guards split between front and back of the caravan, and Borun chose to ride at the back, assuming that they were fast enough and reacted soon enough to get ahead of their pursuers.

Movement is treated deterministically, so plotted trajectories using the routes available on the map, measured distances, and determined that the caravan would indeed make it past the pursuing group, that would be approximately 100’ behind them when they emerged.

I rolled for surprise, the bandits failed, which means when they burst out on to the trail the caravan was on, Borun was aware they were coming. My job as the ref is to interpret the rolls, in this case I decided that the bandits, in trying to cut off the caravan, had to move through the forest, and made quite the ruckus doing so, which allowed the PC to know they were coming and react before they could. Riding full bore through the forest and exploding out on to the trail would be disorienting as well.

ME - “You hear crashing through the woods behind you, getting closer by the moment”

Borun - “I call to Glose, Makel and Khog, ‘circle’! I call to the other guards “flank, crossbows!”

“Circle” means that the guards will surround the warlock, protecting him while he casts spells. Borun lost some gold to these three guards in cards over the last few days of travel, they are eager to keep him alive! They are all mounted, like Borun, on giant lizards. “Flank, crossbows” means that the other guards in the unit will flank Borun and shoot crossbows until melee or flight is necessary.

Borun takes out a scroll, unfurling it and beginning to read. The symbols dance on the papyrus, there is a shimmering in the air, then Borun’s eyes roll back, and he points, slashing his finger across the air in front of him, then around 80’ back, a searing circular wall of fire appears, cutting across the trail.

Seconds later, the charging bandits explode from the forest, surprised, and ride through the curved wall of fire. Unit was was in the lead, riding in two rows of 5, as they have nets and were going to net the party for Unit 4 to finish off. Because of the placement, and surprise, the radius of the wall (30’), it caught all of the first wave of 5, the second wave rolled saves for half to avoid. 

The wall does 2-12 + 8, so it incinerated the first 5 bandits, and almost killed all their horses, the second wave had a few successful saves, but the damage was enough to kill them too.  The only survivors were the two 3rd level unit leaders, they made it through the wall but were now in the middle of a circular wall of fire.

The next wave of riders saw the flames and heard the screaming before emerging and called a stop.

They ride around and emerge into the road, at this point the crossbowmen from the caravan were in position and fire, 13 shots, med range penalties but they did respectably, taking out 4 of the next unit.

Now, Unit 4 saw unit 1 incinerated, its leaders captured, so a morale roll was in order. They passed though, so I had one of the Unit 4 leaders fire them up with screams for revenge. Now, they had the choice to either return fire or charge. Tactically, returning fire was probably smarter, but they were pissed off, so I rolled to see what they would do, and they took out swords and axes and charged.

The guards fired crossbows again, this time 13 shots took down 3 more bandits. 13 left, but 2 of these are 5th level leaders, and they were pissed.

Borun easily identified the leaders from their shouted commands and targeted one with Polymorph Other.

“Borun takes out a small caterpillar cocoon from his belt pouch, he whispers the words “czoam, kallam noss beka”, five times over, moving the cocoon to a different point in the air with each iteration, finally, he holds the cocoon in between his cupped hands, blows on them, and opens them again. The cocoon is gone, but a green and yellow smoke curls out and shoots in the direction of Nogoth the Fist, the primary leader of Unit 4, the smoke enters his mouth, and as he screams his body thrashes so violently it falls from his horse, then his limbs begin to distort and twist, and with amazing rapidity his form is changed from that of an adult Emberi (human) to that of a small wild boar.

The bandits stared in horror. That required another morale check, and this one failed. The remaining bandits peeled off and headed back to their leader. The two leaders caught in the wall of fire were starting to choke on the smoke, they both rolled saves to avoid asphyxiation.

So now Unit 6 and the remainder of Unit 4 have fled, Unit 7 is with the bandit leader, priest and warlock, Unit 1 is destroyed, it’s leaders almost dead. Units 2 and 3 have sustained losses, and there are lancers still under the effect of Cacophony of Lies, as well as a chunk of the other mounted unit in a Stinking Cloud spell.

At this point, the party Slayer, who is a Garudin (bird folk) flies up into the air and over towards the bandit leader. He surveys from the air and sees the carnage that Borun has wrought, the fleeing bandits from both the leader’s position and the caravan’s, as well as the unit approaching from the rear of the party.

He calls out to the bandit leader.

“Your bandits broke and are fleeing, we have slain dozens, is it worth so much death?”

Waymar, the bandit leader, had a decision to make. He had lost one unit entirely, most of two others, including his precious lancers, and he had done some damage to the caravan (about 10 guards dead so far), but it was clear that this was going to be a tough fight, with heavy losses. One of his personal henchmen blew on a horn three times, signalling for all units to return. One of the fleeing units came back, another kept going, deciding they had enough!

He decided to parley.

I rolled to see what Craight would do.  As soon as the party Slayer started talking Craight decided he would not trust Waymar to stick to his guns if he did agree to parley, especially once his troops regrouped, so he told Mahl Unoss to use his Wand again, and the Warlock took it out, tracing a pattern in the air with its glowing end, speaking the command words just low enough that no one nearby would hear.

I rolled to see what he got this time, and it was 3 manticores, they shrieked, then landed and surrounded Mahl Unoss. The bandit leader, flanked by his remaining units, emerged from the woods, the Unit that was sent to attack the party from behind was now gone and back with Waymar.

The two groups faced each other.

The leader from Unit 5 shouted to Waymar, “Nogoth the Fist is transformed, he squeals as a young, wild boar now, let us slay them all!”

Waymar barked a response, “SILENCE”, and turned to the party and Craight, pointing at the figure beside him, sheathed in bright blue flames.

“You place me in a bind strangers, my priestess, Pyringa the Coal, who burns bright beside me even now, burns for your blood, she is a priestess of Iospha, god of the pyre, you used your debased magic fire to burn our warriors, your continued existence is an affront to her god.”

He then pointed to a Togmu (frog-folk) figure who was sitting atop a strange mount, it appeared to be a stag, its tail being rather lion-like, and its legs ending in cloven hooves. Its head is that of a huge badger, but instead of teeth it has sharp, jagged bony ridges. It’s fur was mottled and grotesque.

Dressed in only a cloak and harness, the Togmu had a scimitar, several scroll tubes and a pair of drums all within easy reach.

Garmondgol the Reed is my warlock, you have slain many of his friends today, and he begs me to command him to summon a powerful creature to crush your men like insects.”

 

Craight spoke up now, hand gripping his sword like a vise.

 

“My warlock, Mahl Unoss the Puissant, has summoned three beasts to his side, they will impale dozens of your warriors from afar and tear the heads off the others when close. While they do that, he will use his magics to slay dozens more.”

 “My priestess, Hurna Gamelin, protects our warriors from your weapons with blessings from Eddea, they will endure”

 Then the party warlock spoke up, Craight had advised against this, as he was directly responsible for many horrible deaths, so he was ready for anything.

 “I, Borunn the Majestic, Warlock of House Quannar, will, in a gesture of good faith, break my transformation of your Nogoth the Fist, returning him to you intact.”

 There was some conversation on the other side, then Waymar turned to Pyringa the Coal, whose flames were still flickering, and she then doused the flames, and sat down, casting gem inlaid bones in the dirt and reading them. Pyringa cast an Augury spell.

 It advised that they should disengage and leave. I then made an encounter reaction roll, since Waymar’s personality was “calculating” and he was fairly intelligent, I gave a bonus to the roll, I also added bonuses for Borun’s offer and the Augury result, and deductions for the havoc the party wrought on the bandits.

 The reality was that with several spellcasters on both sides, there would be much more death coming. He rolled positively enough that he agreed to call a stop.

 “We leave now, I need my troops too much right now to lose them foolishly over revenge. But know this, if any of you should pass this way again, we will slaughter you without mercy or hesitation.”

The boys considered bantering with the guy but decided against it.

The two groups carefully separated, with the party Slayer staying in the air for a while as they separated, ensuring the bandits were not in pursuit.

In a few game weeks I will roll to see if Pyringa the Coal will leave the caravan at their next stop and take some bandits with her to exact revenge on the party. But they don’t know that.

That's the stuff.

 

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Building Bhakashal – Session Report My Wednesday group has stopped for the year. In our previous session the lads had an encounter check w...