Friday, November 14, 2014

The Amazons: Session 2 (GM's notes)

The continuation of our story from last time. As an added bonus, in case any of my players haven't noticed, we got a shout-out on Rejected Princesses yesterday.

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“Princess, your corpse is bleeding all over My Boyfriend…” Worthy of Armor complained.

“Blame it on the Handsome Prince, Kewth.” Princess replied. “Just give Mfara a bath, and don’t think of it as blood, think of it as liquid silver!”

Worthy of Armor groaned and nudged the horse to trot a bit faster. “Fine!” she said exasperatedly, “Let’s just get the head delivered and get on with the next part of this job.”

“So while we’re on the subject of getting paid,” Battle Cry interjected, “how much are we going to cut the new girl in for?”

“One sixth, of course,” said Worthy. “And that is a question more properly taken up with Don’t Fail and Elanna when we get back.”

“Hey!” Princess blurted. “The new girl has already been paid for her services. Why are we even discussing giving her a cut of our bounty?”

“Because the Squire did not pay her what we promised he’d pay her. We were the ones that tricked her into charging an army of hobgoblins, which she somehow survived, didn’t flee from, and managed to help us bag Lord Noriss here. Despite all that, she seems inclined to stick around, so,” Worthy of Armor’s voice became suddenly very stern, “She will get a full share.”

The others sighed and rode on.
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It was near dawn when they reached the gates of Civilzed Phlan, and the line of merchants and laborers waiting to get into the city gates was already quite long. Battle Cry stood up on the rump of Princess’s horse, ‘Better than Yours’, and shouted in her orator’s voice, “Make way for the slayers of the Bandit Lord Noriss the Grey!”

While it did nothing to part the crowd, which was always a bit cantankerous this early in the morning, it did attract a huge crowd of gawkers pushing in around the horses to get a look at the infamous corpse. Battle Cry just shrugged at the accusatory looks from her two companions. An hour later they were through the gates, with surprisingly little interference from the guards.

Word of their cargo spread ahead of them, and the three ladies continued to attract a large crowd as they rode through the crowded streets.

“It won’t take long for word of Noriss’s death to reach the vultures this way,” Princess lamented. “After we drop him off, we’re going to have to hurry if we don’t want someone to jump our claim to his loot…”

“It’s a good thing we sent Hot Flanks, Don’t Fail, and the new girl ahead to the well then, isn’t it.” Battle Cry quipped. “Don’t worry Princess, we’ve got it covered.”

They stopped in front of The Bitter Blade, the second-nicest inn in town and Battle Cry ran inside to announce them to the nobles living on the upper floors. “I have a special delivery for her ladyship, Bivant-Mondaviak,” she said to the innkeep. The man waved her up the stairs and she banged, not-too-gently, on the door of the young Councilwoman.

A servant opened the door, “Can I help you.”

“We’ve got a special gift for you lady outside.”

“What could possibly…”

“Just wake her up and ask her to look out the window, okay?!” Battle Cry turned and practically danced down the stairs.

A few minutes later, a shuttered second-story window opened and the young noblewoman and her husband looked down into the street, at the bloody corpse of the half-orc bandit draped over the back of the fine warhorse, and the crowd of excited citizens crowding around it. Councilman Mondaviak’s curse was audible even over the crowd, and the two of them were down on the street in moments, a pair of guardsmen behind them.

“You’ve done it then?” Elissa Bivant asked the three ladies.

“This is him, fresh from the field, dead as a doornail, bled, trussed, and ready to hang-up wherever you like,” Battle Cry grinned as she spoke.

The Councilman gritted his teeth and looked less than pleased. “You’ve done Phlan a great service in bringing this man to justice,” he said, his voice much calmer than his face.

Elissa mearly smiled and handed Worthy of Armor a silk purse. “Payment in full.” She motioned and the guards took the body down from the horse. “We shall see the bandit’s head mounted on the walls as a warning to others who might prey on our fair citizens.” There was a small cheer from the gathered and growing crowd.

“Thank you, your ladyship.” Worthy of Armor bowed from her saddle. “If that is sufficient, we have another matter of importance to attend to…”

“Yes of course. Do hurry with your chores.” The noblewoman waved them off, and the three Amazons did not stick around to listen to the obviously heated discussion that started between the lady and her husband in their wake.
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The ladies rode out of the clean, walled city through the Parkside Gate and left the two horses with Ernst the Liverer, with orders to have them thoroughly washed and brushed, before proceeding on through the Slums and then to the ruined sections of the old city. Given the events of the previous night, the streets were unsurprisingly free of the usual ‘inhuman vermin’ (as some of the locals tended to refer to goblins, orcs, kobolds, and the like).

They picked their way carefully through muddy streets strewn with trash, past the no-mans land of poor human hovels, and on into the crumbling cobble-stone streets littered with rubble that marked the territory of those same ‘inhuman vermin’. Most of those creatures were not particularly inclined to come out during the day anyways, so they reached the plaza around the old well unhindered.

Worthy of Armor, Princess, and Battle Cry stopped in front of the well, where Don’t Fail, Hot Flanks, and the new girl waited, casually leaning against the old, stone well-head. Princess marched up to the new girl and extended a stiff hand. “We decided you can stay,” she said plainly. “Of course, we’ll have to figure out what to call you.”

“My name is Elanna Nimitz.” With her long, wavy, blonde hair, massive two-handed sword, and tight-fitting chain armor, the new girl looked every inch the traditional northern warrior-woman.

“Booooooring,” Battle Cry said. “How about we call you ‘Strikes with Brute Force’?”

“Sheathes a Big Sword,” Hot Flanks suggested.

“‘Charges in Heedless’ might be appropriate,” Don’t Fail quipped, showing a rare smile.

“Stands her Ground,” said Worthy of Armor.

“I vote for Hot Flanks’ idea,” said Princess.

“You can call me ‘Had About Enough of This,’” said Elanna.

“SOLD!” shouted Battle Cry. “Now that that’s out of the way, who’s climbing down first? Would you like to do the honors Had Enough?”

“I’ll lead,” said Hot Flanks, lighting a torch and swinging her legs over the edge of the well. “I’ve already been down a few times. There are rungs built into the side of the well and a secret door just above the water line. No signs of any significant traps on this side.” She scurried down the latter followed by the others one-by-one.

Hot Flanks shoved on a section of wall, opening it and stepped into a large, and quite dry, catacomb. Numerous old burial niches and side passages honeycombed the walls, while the floor of the large chamber was littered with pitched tents, bedrolls, and burned-out cookfires—enough for a small army.

“Good thing we killed them first,” Princess said, looking at the side passages, “looting this place could take a while.”

They lit several more torches, and split up in twos—Princess and Battle Cry heading to the left, Hot Flanks and Worthy of Armor searching the passages on the right, and Don’t Fail and Had Enough searching through the encampment.

Worthy and Hot Flanks were the first to encounter something of interest. After a few twists and turns of a side passage, Worthy spotted a pair of lizardmen and four very large monitor lizards standing guard over a barred wooden door. Their torches gave them away and the lizardmen let the lizards off their chains. Hot Flanks pulled out her guisarme and spat on the blade to activate a magical rune carved there and set it to receive the lizards’ charge.

The first lizard, predictably, impaled itself on the fluke of Hot Flanks’ polearm. The second, third, and fourth found themselves bunched up in the corridor, unable to get around their impaled friend and the wild swinging of Worthy’s sword. Hot Flanks sent a telepathic cry for assistance to Don’t Fail, and continued to hold the lizard pinioned on her weapon between herself and its companions.

Worthy of Armor, meanwhile, let out a mighty battle cry and leapt at the lizards, hacking at them with surprising strength. Her first blow took the head clean off the second lizard, and her backswing nearly gutted the next. The fourth managed to bite her before it to fell under the onslaught of her wickedly-sharp blade.

By the time Don’t Fail and Had Enough reached them, the four lizards were dead on the floor and the two ladies were in a standoff against the two lizardmen, who seemed disinclined to engage. They made several attempts to parley with the lizardmen, who seemed to not know the Common tongue, before Hot Flanks finally tried the language of the snake-like Yuan-ti, which they understood. The four heavily armed girls let the lizardmen know, in no uncertain terms that if they did not leave the catacombs immediately they would end up like their dead and dismembered pets.

The lizardmen were quick to acquiesce, abandoning their posts and carefully retreating past the women when they offered an exit. Had Enough followed the lizardmen until she confirmed that they left through the well and took up watch over the entrance to make sure they did not return with friends.

Once they were gone, Don’t Fail, Worthy, and Hot Flanks lifted the bar on the door and looked inside. There they found a very old woman of uncertain heritage—a half-orc or some other such unfortunate crossbreed—seated in an old rocking chair. The room was comfortably, if somewhat shabbily furnished, and a cup of tea sat on a small table next to the chair. Hot Flanks speculated as to whether they had found Noriss the Grey’s mother.

At once the old woman spoke, “An evil spirit from an unholy pool guides your enemies. It hides behind a fair countenance. Be not deceived.” Then promptly slumped in her chair. A quick examination revealed that she was dead, possibly the results of the tea judging by the smell. Don’t Fail uttered a number of curses against suicidal old women and cryptic messages, then asked Hot Flanks to assist her in tossing the room.

Worthy of Armor laid the old woman’s body out on a rug and said a few words over her, insisting that even crazy, cryptic old orc women deserved some level of respect in death. The others turned up little of value in the room, until Worthy laid the body on the rug, which resulted in a hollow thump from underneath. After Worthy had said her words, Hot Flanks slid the rug, old woman and all, out of the way to reveal a wooden trap door in the floor, beneath which they found a pair of fine gold bracelets, a suit of well-made banded mail, and an ornately carved cherry-wood staff.
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Meanwhile, on the far side of the catacomb complex, Princess and Battle Cry, having bypassed several pit traps, a fusillade of darts, a rain of caltops and metal shards, a couple of spring loaded spears, and a tripwire attached to gods-know-what, found themselves staring at a ghostly-pale, barely corporeal wyvern.

“Clearly we are going the right way,” Princess remarked.

“Yes, but where are the scything blades, log jams, or giant boulders?”

“That,” pointing to the wyvern, “is some kind of spell, right?”

“Yeah, looks like a Wyvern Watch. I’ve cast those before…”

“Cool. Can you dispel it?”

“Nope. Though they are usually only good for one shot. Feel like getting paralyzed for a bit?”

Princess looked at Battle Cry as if she were daft. “How long does the spell last?”

“Not more than a day usually…”

“Well I don’t want to stand around all day just waiting for it to go away.” Princess sighed, “Can you heal me?”

A moment later the ghostly wyvern was gone and Princess was standing, very, very still, in the middle of the corridor, one hand raised in Battle Cry’s direction, with the middle finger extended upwards. Once Princess could move again, the two of them continued on up the corridor, passing one more pit (with SPIKES!) but finding no more traps or hazards, until it opened into a large room piled with treasure—coins, gems, jewelry, china, silverware, brass and silver candelabras, gold urns, artworks, and even a large, mahogany table.

“Do we have to share?” Princess asked.

Battle Cry’s response was to roll her eyes and tap her temple as she telepathically broadcast their findings to Hot Flanks. The other four ladies arrived about twenty minutes later—having been somewhat slowed by the pits and other traps, despite Battle Cry’s mental guidance—and began sorting the loot and shoving into bags for transport. All of it—except for a couple of gems and choice pieces of jewelry that Princess managed to pocket before the other got there—was carefully cataloged by Don’t Fail and Worthy of Armor, ensuring that they took only their 20% of the coins and gems, leaving the rest and all the other non-magical goods to be returned to the people of Phlan.