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Chapter 0: The Weeping Dragon
It began raining this morning, lightly at first, almost a relief from the slight heat, but it soon became a heavy downpour which has lasted all day. Even traveling parallel to the road under the canopy of trees offers scant protection from the weather. The moss on those trees tells you the road is taking you north-west, but direction is an afterthought at the moment, the search for shelter is foremost in your mind.
You have been on this road for what seems an eternity, placing one foot in front of the other in an almost mindless motion. It is a struggle to remember the details of yesterday's journey, let alone the events of last week. This newest group you find yourself in numbered over twenty some days back, as you glance around at the other five souls that escaped that bloodbath, you count yourself fortunate to have escaped the horde that crossed your path.
Night has fallen, the pale light of dusk almost fled, and yet you can see something bright in the sky far ahead. The road you are following emerges abruptly from the forest, immediately splitting in two. A partially overgrown signpost points right to 'Sandpoint'. Someone must have loved this town once, what remains of the faded lettering on the sign is written in a flowing and friendly style, almost as if inviting you to enter. At last, possible shelter.
Staying to the scant cover of the darkening forest, you can see a bridge far off down the left hand fork in the road, away from Sandpoint, and to the right you can see the outskirts of the town itself. There you can see the source of the light seen earlier, a bright and flickering orange light seems to be coming from the middle of the town. Of more immediate note are the two human-shaped figures stood motionless by the bridge leading in to the town itself.
Map - Welcome to Sandpoint
Party is the orange dot, humanoids are the red dots
Due to the events of the last few days, the forced march away from the horde and the poor resting conditions on the road, all members of the party are currently fatigued
-5 from the perception DCs if you have low-light vision
Fatigued after the long trek, Azmerai leans on his halberd and looks ahead at the town. He drops his box as silent as possible and looks ahead.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (5) + 5 = 10
Wary he grips his halberd in a ready stance and looks at his comrades to discern their next move.
Survival: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
Sniffing the air he doesn´t notice anything special and spits a big glob of ooze at the roots of a tree.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14 +2 if undead I have Darkvision, will that help?
Survival: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12 +2 vs. undead, +1 to track, +3 to track undead. Situational modifiers, bah.
Shomari hesitates at the edge of the trees. He readies an arrow but doesn't yet draw his bow.
It was crazy to join such a large group. That only attracts their attention. Maybe if the group had some place to defend the numbers would be a plus. But not out on the open road. Just more mouths to feed and more movement to attract attention.
Lilith's wet cloak caught on her leg almost tripping her into the mud again. This brought her thoughts back to the present. In her fatigued state her mind seemed to wander, which was dangerous. Where was she? looking around she noted her surroundings and her condition. She was hungry, wet, and cold. There were 5 others stumbling forward with her. Only 5? Its was nearly dark and with the setting sun it was growing colder. Shelter was critical. They could die in this wet cold as easily as to the attacks of the undead.
They were in the woods under dripping branches of trees. She let her vision take in more of the area. The road was there, and a signpost. And further the walls of some city. And the light of a fire? If they could make it to the fire maybe they could at least dry out and get warm. And maybe others would be there too. But would the fire draw the undead as well as the living?
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (9) + 7 = 16
Had to run to a meeting before I was completely finished with my post.
Seeing the creatures at the bridge her keen elven eyes allow her to pick out enough detail to know that they are undead and she quietly shares this with the group. That bridge seems to be guarded by undead. Could this town be some sort of undead stronghold? I have not seen the mindless undead guard anything these past 6 months.
Knowledge Nature: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Knowledge Local: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (19) + 6 = 25
And that inviting glow? Something big is on fire. Likely an entire building, maybe buildings. Sand point was a wooden town after all. But with the rain it is unlikely its an accident. That would mean someone set that fire...
Azmerai looks at Lilith and strokes his chin. He clearly defers to her bigger brain. Must be connected to the pointy ears. "We attack, maybe silently. Could help us attack in town. Maybe trick, so that other gnashers think town is in gnasher hand. Maybe worth lookie lookie? Could have people alive in town. Could have stuff we can use."
Polonius had been walking for days before he found this group. He had long since washed down the last of his meagre rations with rain water collected in one of his potion flasks.
He looked out into the darkening night and sighed deeply. These past months had been a seemingly endless struggle of fear and desperation and he had thought long and hard before approaching the group. He had seen a lot on the road, they all had of course. But the Moaners were the worst.
Something had happened to them, something he didn't fully understand. But in their animated state all they wanted to do was feed. He had seen the behaviour before but never in sentient creatures - only at the bottom of a flask and a strong magnifying glass.
The Hungry behaved like a plague - a virus - with a single imperative to propagate itself. In his efforts to save his beloved Amelia he had studied illness of all kinds. Yes he could set a bone and stitch a wound - that was easy - but understanding how a virus behaved and how to stop it, was simply beyond him. And that's why she had died. because he failed.
His tortured mind is brought crashing back to the present by Lilith's warning.
Perception: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Knowledge nature: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (17) + 7 = 24
Undead yes. But guarding? I'm not sure - perhaps. They are chained to the bridge but maybe it's as a warning, or maybe they even keep the Moaners out somehow - I mean I can't see a barricade. Either way, that fire is big and could threaten the whole town.
He checks his gear and finds it sadly lacking.
I don't know if we have much choice but to enter anyway. There might still be supplies inside and I don't think any of us are doing so well at the moment.
Peering harder into the rain and straining to see the restraints that Polonius mentions Lilith adds You have good eyes my little friend. If they are chained then we slay them from a distance. Sounds too easy… But yes, we have to go in.
With her 25 knowledge local would Lilith know of the other ways into town?
Polonius looks up at the hefty half-orc with a raised eyebrow. He then casts his glance to the halfling, lurking in the shadows beside the road, keeping a sharp eye out.
This world is made for the half-orc and hobgoblin. It's a cruel place made only easier by the strength of one's arm. And mine are pretty thin!
I've had to burn down a few Moaners to get here. But I certainly can't do it quietly. he smiles, thinking about his bombs and once more remarking how easy it was to turn a medical concoction into an instrument of death - with the proper knowledge and application of a few house-hold items of course. There was a certain irony to that and again, somehow perfect for this New World.
Perhaps that's a task best carried out by our new halfling friend. Turrey, isn't it? he asks.
Lenneth had been stumbling along silently with the other five survivors, putting one foot in front of the other in an almost mechanical fashion. She had survived yet another brush with death but for the first time, she wasn't sure if she should feel thankful for it or not. She was getting tired, tired of running, tired of having to scrimp and scrounge for food to eat and places to sleep, tired of living in constant fear. Lenneth suddenly felt Indigo stir in her backpack, most likely readjusting himself to try and get more comfortable. It was always much easier to carry him in the backpack when they were attempting to cover a lot of ground, not to mention he hated being wet, just like any normal cat. Feeling him pressing against her back through the fabric, it was almost as if he could sense her troubled thoughts and was attempting to comfort her.
That's right, she thought. I have to keep going for Indigo. Who would take care of him if I died?
The words of the others suddenly jolt her out of her own thoughts and back to reality. She stops and peers around at her surroundings, squinting her eyes in the growing darkness.
Have to stay focused, have to stay alert. That's how they get you, they catch you navel gazing like I was doing just now. Idiot!
Perception: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 1 = 20
Kn. Nature: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
Perhaps it was the sudden reality check and the all-too familiar surge of fear that sharpened her senses, for she was able to pick out the same sight that the others were seeing despite her poor human vision.
"Maybe they're there to act as an alarm, if anyone or anything living approaches," she says, speaking for the first time. "But it doesn't really matter, does it? We need to rest or we won't make it much farther."
Azmerai arranges his chest close to a tree. He looks at the others:" Arrows no good against gnashers. Need go in and cave head in with steel!" He ponders for a moment. Then he nods to Polonius."Fire also good! Or magic!"
Turrey had tried to stay in Magnamar for months, but in the end food was too scarce and zombies too plentiful. It was scary to leave behind the places he knew, but staying would've been a death sentence.
As the long day fades toward night, Turrey's wet calloused feet have been dragging more and more on the muddy road. He chuckles to himself at the thought that he had made common cause on the road with a hobgoblin and a half-orc. Interesting times, indeed! Could you have ever convinced me a year back that I'd be *reassured* by the presence of those brutes? It's funny how the rules have changed.
Turrey's musings are cut short as he spots the zombies -- and once again feels the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. Only two for now, that's not terrible, he tells himself. And these *interesting* allies make the odds better...if their clanging and clomping doesn't attract more.
Hearing Lilith and Polonius' conversation, he replies, "Yes, Turrey Butterhill..." He seems lost in thought for a moment, thinking with pride about how (for a short, golden while) he was 'Brother Butterhill, Acolyte of Desna'. But there's nothing but a silent hole now where my connection to the Tender of Dreams had been, so 'Turrey' it is.
"I agree that they don't seem to be guarding Sandpoint...but Polonius, how confident are you that they can't come this way either? It looks to me like something's preventing them from crossing the bridge. I suspect a few of us should creep closer to learn more."
To Polonius and Shomari, "I suspect the three of us are the quietest of the bunch. Shall we circle around, through those woods? If they're truly chained we'll hoot twice, to signal to start shooting them. If it seems they're only prevented from getting *in* to Sandpoint, we'll hoot twice. At that point any Azmerai and anyone else who's willing can advance, and we'll come in from their flank. Sound reasonable?" As reasonable as *anything* is in this messed up, upside down world, anyway?
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Survival: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (15) + 6 = 21
Lilith interrupts before the group heads off to intercept the undead at the bridge. You know, she says quietly. I've studied this city, It used to have at least two bridges. There should be at least one more bridge into town. I think north of here.
Turrey looks at the zombies, then down at his aching legs, and then back at the zombies again. Shrugging his shoulders, he says, "I reckon I could go either way. I'm so very tired I'm tempted to just take these two on. I think we should be able to, working together."
Come on. Polo says. If it's to be done best it is to be done quickly. Azmerai, if you head forward with Len and Lil supporting. Turrey, Shomari and I will creep up to attack from the right. Let's get out of this rain...
Assuming people agree to this plan, the sneaky group will be only about 15ft from the main group but under cover of trees and close to 30ft to get a better look.
take 10 on stealth: 10 + 11 = 21
Stealth if I can't take ten: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18
Your stealthy approach appears to be working, the zombies are oblivious to your presence it seems, they remain fixated on the flickering light above the town.
As you sneak closer you get a better view of the area around the bridge.
Shomari your favored enemy bonus applies here
Now you are closer, you can see the zombies each have a rope tied around one ankle. The rope is tied to a wooden pole that has been driven in to the ground near the bridge.
The zombies are practically stationary and unaware of you. If you initiate combat then for the first round their to hit DC would be 5 and they would be flat-footed
Shomari favored enemy bonus applies
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
Survival: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Azmerai would pick up his chest, tie it to his back and remember...
His father and the belt. Because he didn´t find enough. Because his father had been spit upon. Because his father loved the power he felt when beating his son. Azmerai would charge and declare Rage in the first round.
Attack Roll: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (5) + 7 = 12
Damage(Slashing): 1d10 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
Not that it makes a difference to your attack this time, but bear in mind no charging (or running) when fatigued, and you have minus 2 to str and dex. Also, horrible for a barbarian, you can't rage either... Changing Azmerai's actions to move plus standard, he still hits, just with a little less force (11 I believe).
I'll process all actions once everyone has posted.
Sorry cheffe first time I play a barb and we rarely have barbs anyway in our group. Actually 4 less damage (2handed adds 1.5 Strength bonus. But STr+2=Str+3(2handed)+3PA+4DR=10. So just 10 Damage
Ok, cool. In that case I will use my Produce Flame spell-like ability.
Polo draws upon his natural reserves of arcane magic and produces a small globe of flame in the palm of his hand. Then, in a habit he has picked up over the years, closes one eye to aim and hurls the ball of flame at one of the zombies.
Produce Flame, PBS, Touch attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
Damage: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
If Azmerai killed the zombie he attacked I will target the other one, if not I will try to finish it off (and therefore incur -4 penalty to hit for firing into melee)
Lilith nods, seeming in agreement but then moves up with the stealthy bunch anyway. She is not trained in stealth but is not rushed so takes 10 for a 12.
At 30' range to the closest zombie she uses her Disrupt Undead spell, likely targeting the same one Polo hits.
Range Touch: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 211d6 ⇒ 3
Creeping closer, Turrey is too focused on his immediate foes to notice either the tracks or the sounds behind them.
A dagger in each hand, his heart races as he pads up behind the moaners as quietly as he's able. With the element of surprise he manages to get two quick slashes with his daggers. The first, spills some fetid intestines partly out of the moaner's belly while the second shaves a slice off its leg.
If he's able to get 10' away from them before the start of the first round, he'll take a 5' step to close and then do a full attack. If that's not possible, ignore the second hit.
I didn't include a flanking bonus this round but he'll try to come in from an angle such that next round he can flank with either Azmerai or Shomari.
Survival: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Perception: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (5) + 7 = 12
Hit (left): 1d20 ⇒ 20 (0 BAB +1 size -1 str (due to fatigue))
Hit (confirm crit): 1d20 ⇒ 18
Damage: 2d3 - 2 + 1d8 ⇒ (3, 1) - 2 + (3) = 5 (-1 str (due to fatigue) + 1d8 sneak attack)
Hit (right): 1d20 ⇒ 10
Damage: 1d3 - 1 + 1d8 ⇒ (1) - 1 + (2) = 2
Well, that's one of the least impressive crits I've ever had in my life...and possibly the first time a crit has led me to double a negative "bonus". Ahhhh, fatigue!
-1 fatigue, +1BAB, +2 str, +2 favored enemy attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
+2 favored enemy, -1 fatigue, +2 str damage: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Shomari sees that the creatures are chained, and jogs up, slashing at one with his sibat.
Trembling slightly, Lenneth had followed what she thought was the plan - moving up to support the large half-orc who called himself Azmerai, paired with Lilith. However, at about the time that Azmerai charged forward to attack the nearest zombe, she noticed that she was suddenly by herself, with Lilith having opted to move with the other half of the group instead.
"Son of a-," she hissed as she brought up her sling and took aim at one of the zombies.
Roll to Target: 1d2 ⇒ 2
Attack: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 1 = 11
Damage: 1d4 - 1 ⇒ (4) - 1 = 3
Edited to correct for the Fatigued condition; thanks to Turrey for reminding me! Also, the random roll is to determine which zombie she aimed at since she's not inclined to be picky at the moment. Long story short, attacking Zombie #2 with a sling attack.
Lenneth, did you factor in fatigue when you rolled? If not, I think you still hit but did 3 damage.
As a side note, it's DM Fiendish's call but I'm a fan of players adding notes to explain their rolls, especially early in a campaign or with a new attack (as Shomari and I did, and Azmerai did after the fact). I think it makes it a bit easier on the DM, and (speaking personally) it helps me to catch my own slip-ups in my posts when I miss accounting for some condition.
Corrected my combat post, thanks Turrey!
Azmerai steps in and hacks a chunk out of the first zombie, it barely has time to turn around before the orb of flame from Polonius engulfs it, lighting it on fire. The smell of burning, rotten flesh washes over you. Amazingly it takes a lurching step towards Azmerai and raises its arms to swing, when suddenly there is a crackle as Lilith's spell drives into its chest, causing positive energy to pulse outwards and evidently destroying something internal, as the zombie crashes in to the mud, still burning and lending a macabre red cast to the surroundings.
Turrey dashes in against the other zombie, with two quick cuts. Attracting its attention long enough for Shomari to arrive and make his own attack. It raises its fist, groaning and baring blackened teeth as it stoops in to grab Turrey. Fortunately Lenneth's slingshot arrives just in time, making a crunching noise as it smashes against the back of its head. It keels over, barely missing Turrey as it falls.
There is a silent pause, broken only by the crackling body still afire next to you. Suddenly three more zombies appear ar the edge of the woods where you were just hiding. They see you immediately and move to attack. It's difficult to make out with the now dwindling flames, but there might be more movement behind these three.
Lilith, fatigued as she is, tries to shoot a zombie before retreating towards the bridge.
Range Touch: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 111d6 ⇒ 5
Everyone get across the bridge. It's s choke point, they won't be able to surround us. If there's too many, I'll burn the bridge! Polonius shouts, trying to make himself heard above the rain and moaning.
He makes his way hastily across the bridge, keeping an eye out for any Moaners on this side.
Lenneth needs no further encouragement and quickly crosses the bridge, trying desperately to keep an eye out in the growing darkness.
Azmerai stands guard at the bridge, offers his hand in support and waits till everyone else has crossed the bridge. Thankful for his halberd he uses it to catch a bit of breath. Then he thinks of something and uses his halberd haft to rearange the gnashers corpses so that it makes it a bit more difficult for the gnashers to reach them. He tries to discern if there are just 3 or even more.
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
I won't enforce it, but feel free to use the preview function to see how your actions turnout, so you can add to or adjust your action descriptions :)
The bolt of energy cast by Lilith strikes the lead zombie in the face, but the mass of scar tissue and exposed bone in its jaw seem to dissipate the energy without effect.
The gnashers, six in total, finish emerging from the forest. In their haste to get at you, the first falls over the burned corpse Azmerai moved to block the end of the bridge, which results in them jostling each other to try and get past and instead becoming tangled up. You have bought some time, but not much.
There are two large buildings to your right, several small ones to your left and a couple of streets to run down. Night has fallen properly now, and without a local light source you are unable to view any signs on the buildings. Visibility, due to darkness and the continuing heavy rain, is very poor.
The fire appears to be deeper towards the centre of town judging from the light you can still see above the buildings.
You have maybe three rounds before the Z's start their pursuit of you again, what do you do or where do you go?!
Azmerai looks at his exhausted companions and just says"Fight or flee? Maybe one house closer to fire made safe hole? Wanted oil for fire to keep warm, but maybe gooder here. Maybe help burn bridge!" And nods to his chest on the back.
As the first of the zombies stumble on the bodies, Polo grabs one of his flasks of liquid, pours in a tiny pinch of powder and hurls it at the zombie in the middle of the pack.
Bomb, touch attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (10) + 4 = 142 dex, 1 size, 1 throw anything, 1 pbs -1 fatigue
Damage: 1d6 + 3 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 3 + 1 = 10 3 intelligence, 1 pbs
Adjacent zombies take 4 damage with a Dc 14 reflex save for half
He waits anxiously to see if the bridge catches alight
Shomari falls back slowly across the bridge, weary from the past days' struggle. He scans the area behind them, looking for a safe place to fight from. Picking the closest of the small buildings, he goes quietly to the door, pushing it open and looking inside.
stealth: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Did Lilith miss? Or is that creature immune to her positive energy attack? Wizards want to know. :)
Lilith double moves across the bridge and into the town. She pauses long enough for her second move to cast her dancing lights, creating a single torchlight effect that she can direct around, moving it as a free action up to 100' to illuminate signs and dark allies as they move.
Thankful for some light to see by in the darkness, Lenneth takes aim with her sling and fires another bullet, hoping that she can do some damage while they figure out what to do from here.
Attack: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Damage: 1d4 - 1 ⇒ (1) - 1 = 0
Looks like Lenneth's aim is true, but being fatigued took the oomph out of the hit.
Turrey scampers toward the buildings as quickly as he can. Seeing Shomari checking one door, he decides to check another.
"I'll see if this one's open -- and if it seems like a reasonable place to hide or defend ourselves."
Suddenly very aware that he, Lenneth and Azmerai are facing a bridge full of zombies and at best a ghost town behind them (at worst a zombie infested hell-hole), Polonius shouts up at the human woman;
Lenneth, we can't get separated from them, come on! he then turns to the huge half-orc;
Azmerai, if the rain doesn't wash it out the fire should hold them. We have to move into the town and find shelter, somewhere we can defend better than here. I don't think your halberd is finished for the night!
Hoping against hope that his bomb will catch and the resulting fire would destroy the rest of the following zombies, or at least slow them down, he scampers after Shomari and Turrey.