Smoke from the burning caravan is clearly visible from the edge of the marsh, and the screams and war-cries are, alas, equally clear. Nessime, Gutz, Peter and The Warforged are crouching in the reeds, for what pitiful cover they provide.
“Any sign of the others?” Nessime asks, peering about anxiously; but there is none, and only shaken heads in response from her comrades.
“We need to keep moving,” Gutz says. “There’s too many of them to fight.”
“And they’re horse archers,” Peter agrees. “If they catch us in the open, we’re dead. We need to protect the Handkerchief, and pray Hulian protects our friends.”
“We need to go deeper into the marsh,” Gutz advises. “The Warforged leaves a trail a blind man could follow.” (The ground is soft, and The Warforged weighs over 400 lbs, before one factors in the enormous leather sack full of items looted from the fallen he drags behind him everywhere.)
“We could follow that trail up to the town on the hill,” Peter suggests.
“Oh look,” says Nessime. “That horse archer has a nice face if you ignore the scars, I’m sure if we just talk to him we can sort all this out.” She starts walking towards him, waving the Holy Handkerchief, but Peter drags her back into the marsh before any damage can be done.
Thus it is that the heroes enter Nal Sagath on the evening of the Carnival. Asking nicely gives them the town’s backstory, and their unusual garments are taken purely as Carnival costumes – although they are questioned many times on what The Warforged is dressed as. Gutz acquires a number of Carnival snacks and a small coin pouch while the townsfolk are distracted.
They clean up at the Inn of Toros and join the crowd in the town square, either unconcerned at the fate of their companions or confident in their abilities to survive unaided.
Dalla, the Carnival Queen, is kidnapped, and after completely missing all the clues, they manage to find the entrance to the tunnels below Nal Sagath. While The Warforged retrieves his sack, Gutz attempts to bargain with Dalla’s father, largely because he knows exactly how much a pretty girl will fetch in the Syranthian slave markets, and wants to know if her father can make him a better offer. (Wisely, he refrains from revealing Plan B.)
And in they go. None of them has Tracking, so there is a lot of beating around the bush – or in this case, tunnels – getting lost in mazes, being attacked by rats, discovering the inscriptions in the Hall of Columns, Gutz falling down the inhabitants’ latrine and being pulled out again, the obligatory rolling boulder crushing three of the party (thankfully not Peter, who uses his Healing power to snatch Nessime from the jaws of death). As in all our previous campaigns, Nessime’s player now holds the record for most amount of damaged survived.
The main diversion was discovering a crypt. Gutz managed to translate the carvings; admittedly he didn’t tell anyone what they said, but the fact that he ran off and cowered under his cloak in a corner should have been some sort of clue, I feel. The Warforged, partly because he is suspicious and partly because that’s just how he rolls, chopped off the mummy’s head and limbs before it woke up, which slowed it down quite a bit but made later attempts at diplomacy futile. After a scuffle, they manage to stuff all the bits into the sarcophagus, set fire to them, and slam the lid closed.
While all this is going on, a townsman attempts to sneak up on the party, and finds himself out-snuck by both Gutz and The Warforged. He manages to persuade them to let him join the party, and is outfitted with items from The Warforged’s capacious sack.
At length the band of heroes enters the Big Bad’s lair, and engages him and his minions in fierce combat. Missile fire exterminates the minions and incapacitates the Big Bad, the environmental hazard very nearly eats Peter, but our heroes triumph and recover the girl.
Once they realised that what they have taken for the trail of a giant slug is in fact the mark left by The Warforged’s sack, it is easy for them to retrace their steps.
Gutz, battered, bruised, and smelling strongly of latrine contents, finally manages to open his prize purse – to find two copper pieces. His cry of “Worst! Day! Evaaaaar!” echoes around the town square.
- The whole session took about 4 hours with a party of four. If I’d been using Beasts & Barbarians as written, at least one of them would have died, but then they would have started as Seasoned PCs not Novices.
- Normally, I don’t use the rules for chases, co-operative or dramatic tasks; I had to stop a couple of times and look them up, but I will definitely use them more in future – B&B has shown me a number of cool things you can do with them. Chases worked better than dramatic tasks, but maybe that’s my lack of familiarity.
- The mapless random dungeon generator was a hit, as everyone liked the speed and lack of record-keeping. However, as Peter’s player pointed out, you know you’re going to get through the maze eventually if you just keep at it, so adventures that rely on solving a maze won’t work well with this system.
- A couple of the players figured out that they had moved into another setting, but they didn’t mind.
A thoroughly good time was had by all. Next time, they will cross the border into Kyros. Time for a quick look at Citadel of the Winged God, I’ll either run that or a converted One-Sheet.