Wednesday, June 27, 2012

SESSION IX, PART II - A Daring Rescue!

When we left the adventurers they were facing down a huge room full of starving desperate hobos while prodding a group of naked criminal sellswords in front of them. 

Pulp book Cover - Ace Books
Grimgrim – Fighting priest of the fierce God of Dooms, Monstcrom! (M) Cleric 2

Lemon Jackson – A wizard with strange yellow eyes, a Magnum tucked in his loincloth and numerous mystic tattoos. (M) Magic User 2
Huxley McTeeth (Hux) – A gaucho with a past, and scars to prove it. (M) Fighter 1

“Eyestabs” Nell – A scarily fashionable woman armed with many poison hat pins (F) Assassin 2

Drusilla – Eleven lass of surpassing beauty, disturbingly unpleasant affect and taste for human babies. (F) Elf 1

 The crowd of Denethix's ragged cast-offs grows thicker in front of the party every moment while the cacophony of shouts and curses louder and louder - until Huxley pushes one of the naked captives into the mob and Nell flings the armor and equipment taken from the door guards up over the crowd, who immediately begin scrambling for it.  The naked guardsmen are cuffed and slapped, but the crowd seems reluctant to attack them more viciously, until one of them drops to his knees in supplication and a roaring mob pours over the defenseless men kicking and clubbing them. (Yes - this made the players feel like cruel thugs - they may be nicer to prisoners in the future.)

The party pushes through quickly heading towards the back of the chamber, not pausing to investigate and of the shabby figures, mysterious piles of trash or low smokey fires that fill the enormous space.  Dashing into the doorway at the very back of the room the adventurers find themselves in a long unlit hallway filled with dirt and grime.  Doors line the hall and a narrow passage opens on the right.  The group stops and Lemon lights his bulls-eye lantern.  Moving cautiously forward, the adventurers test a door on the left and find that it is unlocked.  Opening it part way a thin streak of light leaks out, and they hear voices from within.  Huxley steps through ready for battle, but is greeted by a shout of "Whoa soldier, no need for a fight here."  Huxley looks around and realizes he has stumbled into some kind of makeshift bar.  A plank rests on top of several beer kegs and a odd assortment of broken and scuffed furniture stand in front of it.  The man addressing Huxley is huge, pale and bald, but smiling with a mouth of prosthetic teeth, or possibly tooth implants taken from an assortment of non-human species.  Sensing Huxley's confusion he says "Welcome to Ruby's bar - pull up a stool, we've got beer and brandy, put away your weapons though."  Huxley does what the man says and pulls up a rickety stool as far from the three other patrons (all tough scarred men in scale or leather armor, festooned with cheap weaponry) and the rest of the party piles in as Huxley orders a brandy.  As soon as he begins to sip the brandy Huxley realizes something is very off about it.  He manages to keep his stomach from erupting, but does not take another drink.  Seeing Huxley's discomfort, the rest of the party orders beer, and Grimgrim has a similarly unpleasant experience with the stuff, though he also avoids getting sick.  No other party members drink though Gurgur the Moktar happily gulps his beer.

Ruby, the bartender makes casual conversation and lets the party know that even if they're fancy folk he doesn't discriminate as long as their copper is good.  Lemon smiles and offers to buy the other patrons a round if they can help him find his way to a "business meeting" supposedly held in the building (Dang that player is crafty).  The patrons grunt, but soon enough Lemon and Nell's jokes have them talking.  Before leaving the party learns that some "real hard gangsters" rule the upper floors running some kind of drug operation, and there's a gambling den downstairs that has posh patrons sometimes.  The men at the bar are small time ruffians and don't want any trouble, so suggests that the party come back at night and not harass the fortified guard-post at the end of the hall.  Nell buys a third round for the three thugs, and the party tips Ruby a gold piece for running such a nice (informative) bar before they leave.

Fortified guard post you say?  Sounds like something to set on fire the adventurer's mind automatically thinks - it's almost Pavlovian.  As stealthy as possible the party creeps to 10' of the end of the hall douses their lantern and sends Nell creeping forward, flint striker in one hand and a pair of Molotov cocktails strapped together in the other.  Nell tries to hide in the shadows as she approaches a widening of the passage, where stained wall paper creeps down the walls in soggy rolls.  She spots a spiral iron stairway at the far end of the room and a newly reinforced door with an arrow slit in it on the right. Slits have also been hacked into the walls on the side of the door and there is light trickling through them.  Trying to use the shadows for concealment Nell creeps forward.  She’s about 10’ from the door when a barrage of crossbow bolts from the slits around the door shatter on her magical mesh armor and rip the silk covering of her steel boned corset.  Nell also learns the literal truth of the old cliché that “Fashion is Pain” as a bolt slips past the outer layer of her royal copper dress and tears into her thigh.  Momentarily stunned and bleeding profusely Nell shouts and the rest of the party rushes forward.  Nell takes a flying hop to shelter against the wall, out of the reach of the arrow slits and lights her oil bomb.  The residents of the guard post curse, and Nell can hear the cranking of crossbows through the arrow slit.

As the party rounds the corner, another flight of bolts stab out at them using the lantern as a target.  The heavy armor of Grimgrim, Huxley and Drusilla deflect all the defenders' bolts despite their accuracy.  Nell’s firebomb makes it through the arrow slit and there is a flash as it bursts on the floor followed by screams. The rest of the adventurers charge forward across the dusty floor, but only two bolts meet them this time. One shooter is lucky, and a bolt finds its way between armor plates a into Huxley’s arm. It’s not a serious wound, and barely slows the fighter as he smashes shield first into the door with an enormous crack.  Hux is thrown back and disoriented, though the door appears damaged.

With a shout Grimgrim hurls another oil flask against the wall in front of the arrow slit farthest from the party.  With flames raging outside and inside the guard-post no bolts come to meet the party.  Nell drives her saber through the slit on the door, and someone within yelps, while Drusilla, Gurgur, and Grimgrim smash at the hinges with the butts of their weapons.  A kick from Huxley staves the door in and he follows after finding a scene of confusion within.  A Moktar and small man face him with drawn swords while a woman has stepped back from the arrow slit firebombed by Grimgrim, still holding a loaded crossbow.  A seared corpse of another guard rests contorted in agony where he was caught by Nell’s oil bomb.

The two guards charge Huxley, though it is unclear if they are trying to escape or attack.  Huxley’s armor absorbs their wild blows and the point blank crossbow bolt from the third guard (plate-mail is impressive stuff against low HD enemies). His riposte finds its way into the small man’s neck and drops him gurgling onto the floor.  The rest of the adventurers push into the room, and the remaining guards seem to panic.   The Moktar roars and charges Greymol – who smashes him in the face with his mace.  Greymol's enemy expires from a stab to the spine by Gurgur while the other guard attempts to fence with Nell.  The guard is no match for Nell’s strength, armor and speed, and is quickly kneeling on the floor missing three fingers from her sword hand.  The adventurers quickly bind thier own and the surviving guard's wounds, and begin looting while Nell questions the captured guard. Gurgur takes the Moktar guard's studded leather armor because it looks a lot more 'professional' than his own re-purposed warehouse gear, as well as one of the guard's longswords, of higher quality than his own scimitar.   Crossbows go to Hux, Gurgur and Drusilla and bolts are distributed from a crate in the corner.  Otherwise the party finds some small amount of coins, a tiny gem and a fancy hat that Hux gives to Greymol, who likes such things. In searching the body of the small man Huxley killed, Nell discovers 3 bolts that have been coated with a thick black gunk that she recognizes as a weak poison derived from chemical wastes.

The captured guard, Rumples, is barely able to stand and willing enough to talk in exchange for her life.  She draws a crude map of the second floor showing the drug den, a meeting room and the guard's lounge.  She also tells the party that the towers above are home to the Peacock Syndicate Boss, but that she's never been up there and he doesn't have guards.  The guards upstairs aren't just hired muscle like Rumples, but gangsters who are better armed,  dedicated to the syndicate, and tougher.  The gangsters are also most likely to be sleeping or lounging about at this morning hour, and some don't even live at the Brewery.  She knows nothing about any kidnapping victims or babies, but does say that several wealthy youth frequent the den upstairs.  The party tells Rumples not to try to follow them, but to leave because they are going to kill her employers.

The spiral stairs are made of rusted iron, worked with mushroom and grain motifs, but seem sound enough.  A steel plate with a simple hasp blocks movement downward, and the stairs wind upward for at least two more levels. The party tries to climb the stairs as quietly as possible, but manages to make a fair amount of noise despite their efforts.  Still they find no heavily armed gangsters awaiting them atop, only a dusty room with a display case containing a faded diorama of peacocks, a few end tables with vases and dried flowers and opulent water-stained wall paper.   The adventurers send Nell to check the door going West and leading to the gangster lair and drug den according to Rumples. Nell finds a simple door with a broken lock, but looking through the gap left by sagging hinges notices a bulky figure at the end of the hall.

The party quickly arrives on a plan, with most of the adventurers crouching in the stairwell, Huxley and Gurgur ready to spring out, Nell pushes the door open slightly and it creaks alarmingly.  She then waits crouched in the shadows of the peacock case.  In several minutes a burly man in splint armor, lacquered a rich purple, wearing a helmet with a peacock crest peers through the door.  As he steps through to glance around Nell drives the point of her captured falchion into the back of his skull from below the lip of his helmet.  The guard has no chance to make a sound as Nell pulls him back and lowers him gently to the floor. With the rest of the band in tow Nell makes her way slowly down the hall and finds a door on the South side, mid-way along the passage.  Listening to the door the party hears the sound of low voices and decides that this is the gangster lair.  Rather than risk a fight with a gang of hard-men Grimgrim and Gurgur wait by the door with a set of spikes ready to brace it shut.

The rest of the party proceeds to the end of the hall finding a thick purple curtain, heavily embroidered with silver thread.  When the curtain is pushed aside the sounds of sitar, guqin and tambour can suddenly be heard from beyond the curtain.  The adventurers pour into a large room, the loft space above the Den of Thieves that they initially entered through.  The loft has been decked out with more purple curtains (which seem to magically block sound) and gauzy hangings.  Pillows cover the floor and the central area is a sunken stage surrounded by a low lounge area of shabby chaises stretching off into darkness lit only by glowing colorful globe lanterns and scented candles.  All in all, it's a functional if tacky mildly opulent drug den.

A skinny man with a monocle stands on the stage dressed in a tuxedo with a lavender spotted cravat and glowing crystal wand in one hand.  He is conducting a trio of languid, blindfolded and unhealthy looking female musicians sitting on pillows and wearing flimsy saloon costumes.  Above the trio a scintillating mist of colors and vague shapes swirls and a rapt audience of various types gaze, seemingly stupefied.

The tuxedo clad man turns slowly, takes in the party and yelps when he realizes that a band of bloodied, armed and armored hoodlums has invaded his performance.  The mist abruptly dissipates and the adventurers start forward.  The entertainer's eyes widen and he hisses to the musicians "Run lovelies, get the Capo and all the men."  Hux and Greymol continue forward and the entertainer raises his hands sending out a blast of wild psychedelic colors that dazzle and shock them.  Both are caught in the burst and slump drooling to the ground, they minds having been blown.  Nell takes a shot at the fleeing entertainer but misses while Lemon shouts down the hall for Grimgrim to hammer in the spikes.  The tuxedoed illusionist makes his escape while Drusilla attempts to rouse the two stunned party members to no avail.  Nell dashes up to the stupefied audience and shouts "Ms. Piddles?, Ms. Piddles we are here to rescue you!"  Nell receives no answer but the dazed audience members are beginning to stir.  Grimgrim and Gurgur arrive, though their door spiking has not gone unnoticed.  Someone begins hammering on the door down the hall, as the party frantically looks for the Exalted Brother's mistress and baby.  No babies are in evidence, but Drusilla's keen eyes spot a figure in half-armor trying to drag a disoriented woman towards behind some couches.

The awake party members, except Gurgur, who stands guard over his dazzled brother, charge the armored figure, as he turns with a barbed short sword, his snarling visage reveals him to be a Northern Elf.  Spitting a chant between his fangs that causes Nell, Lemon, and Gurgur drop into a slumber as a burst of purple butterflies washes over them with a tinkle of tiny bells.  Drusilla (being an elf) is unaffected, as is Grimgrim who rejects the idea of slumber inducing butterflies as totally un-metal and makes his save. The still standing party members slam into the elf, with Drusilla's polearm ripping across his unarmored legs and Grimgrim's flail finishing him.

The hammering on the door down the hall grows louder as Grimgrim wakes Nell with a kick.  Two guards pour into the loft, from behind the stage curtain, but can't move forward as the drugged patron are trying to escape all the violence through any available door.  Drusilla rouses the dazed woman behind the couch, who is indeed Ms. Piddles the "7th Mistress" that the party was sent to find.  As Grimgrim succeeds in waking Gurgur and Lemon a sharp shattering noise is heard from the hall followed by hammering footsteps.  Nell uses the confusion to put a poisoned crossbow bolt into one of the guards that just appeared and he drops to the ground pawing his throat as the poison and bleeding finish him. The second guard stumbles forward.

Looking into the hall Nell fires another bolt into a mass of armored men and elves rapidly approaching to no effect.  She manages to dart away before return fire in the form of a crossbow bolt and flung ax can reach her.  The rest of the party drags thier still befuddled comrades up towards edge of the loft, where Drusilla is trying a rope to one of the pillars. The remaining guard charges her, but is met by a Grimgrim and stopped.  Gurgur hacks the guard in the shoulder with his sword, but it fails to drop him.

The mass of guards is almost in the room and there are at least nine of them, including the largest plate-mail clad elf anyone in the party has ever seen hollering from the rear.   Nell fires a last poison bolt and it ends up in the leading elven gangsters' eyes (a critical hit - Nell is kind of a murder machine tonight) instantly pickling his brains with poison. 

A dagger thrown inexpertly bangs pommel first between Nell's eyes as the charging gangsters struggle to get past their newly dead comrade.  Nell will have a nasty bruise, and retreats towards the rest of the party.  The lone guard cuts Grimgrim, but is dropped by Lemon's last sleep spell, and the wounded party struggles back towards Drusilla's rope.  Drusilla flings back the curtains to reveal the horrid carnival of drunken despondence going on below, and the shouts raising from the smokey darkness give her pause before lowering Ms. Piddles.  With half the party befuddled and the rest wounded, Lemon lights an oil flask and prepares to douse the guards now pouring in from the hall. An elf amongst the guards sends a dark purple flash of magic scuttling across the floor and Grimgrim must call on Monstcrom to stay conscious as the magic begins to dissolve his flesh feet first. The party retreats with Drusilla shouting "ALMS!" and flinging an open bag of coin (mostly captured from the guards below) into the crowd.  As a mad scramble for the falling silver begins among the destitute mass below as Drusilla lowers the babbling mistress.  The rest of the guards charge as Lemon flings his fire bomb, coating the elf that just cursed Grimgrim and another guard in flaming oil.  A third gangster stops to try to help them beat out the flames, but the rest charge the retreating party.  The gangsters are met by Nell, Gurgur and Grimgrim, and as the party exchanges blows Grimgrim takes a nasty cut from the large elf's Scimitar and is forced to retreat.  Drusilla rushes forward with scimitar and shield in hand, while Grimgrim 'gently' drops Huxley 14' to the floor below, careful to avoid dropping the heavily armored fighter onto anyone.  The fall fails to rouse him from his mind shattered stupor (color spray - it's super sleep!) and Hux lies on the floor drooling but obviously alive.

The fight is not going well for the party, as Nell takes another wound, and stumbles back.  Gurgur is also cut, but Drusilla manages to cast sleep and four guards slump woozily in the pink mist she's generated.  Still four guards remain including their roaring leader.  Grimgrim quickly repels down the rope, followed by Nell.  Drusilla and Gurgur fall back fighting as defensively as possible. Lemon pulls out his pistol and fires 2 shots striking a guard flanking Drusilla with both heavy slugs, and while neither is lethal, the large man staggers back.  The three adventurers in the loft are about to be overwhelmed, and those on the ground are wary of attack by the desperate hobos - who are now watching the melee upstairs and shouting encouragement and abuse at both sides.  Gurgur, bleeding from several cuts grabs his unconscious brother and leaps from the loft, landing with cat like grace but still spraining an ankle.  Nell descends, Lemon fires again and misses once, but also puts a third and fatal slug into the guard he previously wounded.  Drusilla is exhausted, but her reflexes, fine armor and defensive style have managed to prevent serious injury.  Lemon climbs down the rope and Drusilla is forced to jump, cutting the rope as she goes.  Drusilla's  leg breaks badly in the fall, but Grimgrim rushes forward and provides a magical healing that restores her to full health.

With the party dragging their injured toward the exit the gangsters push to the edge of the loft shouting revenge.  In the background someone demands a rope with no answers forthcoming.  As the party leaves the large elf rolls a fat violet ball of crackling energy between his hands and it drifts at high speed towards Lemon, burning him severely.  Luckily the other gangsters are too enraged to do much more than shout and the party is lost in the gloom before they can pull hand axes or other throwing weapons.

Dragging their stupefied comrades and a hollow eyed disheveled MS. Piddles the adventurers, armor dented, and covered in sweat and gore are studiously ignored by passing laborers.  They are able to make their way back to the apartment without incident  and on the way Greymol and Huxley come to their senses.  Ms. Piddles appears completely addled and the party resorts to tying her to a chair while they send out for brandy and sandwiches.


  1. Crazy adventure--in the best possible way. :)

    1. It went really well I thought - The party embraced the infiltration aspect, and went in mission oriented, instead of getting bogged down in exploration. The next trip(s) into the Old Brewery were less focused. The final battle was pretty exciting as well - I didn't expect such a daring escape plan, but I think it's a testament to architecturally sound/mapped adventure locations - especially in urban adventures where the players are more familiar with the basics of the environment.