Seven, count them, seven bold gamers joined me at the Reaper Game Store on 8/9 to participate in the planned assault on the pirate base located on the southern coast of Nabor. Dallas returned, to play Anallia (Elf RGR/CLC) and Barlyn (Dwarf CLC); Steven also returned, to play Alexander (Half-elf FTR/Acrobat) and Cain (Human M-U). Don came to play Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF), and Joe returned to play Polcathir (Elf-Orc RGR). In addition we had three newcomers: Ray playing Vorrk (Human monk); Edwin playing Nate (Human RGR), and Derek playing Gerhardt (Human PAL). With the added reinforcements of the Raworwind’s Marine detachment, led by First Mate Lamitha (Human THF) there should be enough firepower to defeat any base of pirates handily, right?
[DM note: This presents a difficult situation, in that there were three 1st level characters, one 2nd level, one 4th level, and four 6th level……the challenge level differs considerably for these.]
The group began by gathering aboard the Razorwind, the repairs to her having just been completed by the end of our last adventure. They proceeded to sail east from Jamsin, looking for landmarks that would remind Barton or Polcathir of the location where they had found the base. Unfortunately, neither of them was able to determine where it was. Fortunately, near the time they were prepared to turn back, Vorrk spotted an apparent shimmer of the cliffs that came down to the ocean and pointed it out to the rest. They believed they had found the base, but they weren’t the only ones.
Coming toward them from the east was another ship. Not wanting that ship to arrive at the base to give warning, the Razorwind attempted to pursue it, manning the oars with its crewmen. As they closed in they could see that it was a pirate vessel, that also had its crew on the oars. Now it was a question of which ship’s oarsmen would tire first; if the pirates tired first they would drop into close range for trebuchets, but if they did not they could get away clean. As it turned out, both crews ran out of endurance at the same time. It didn’t appear as though the chase would end anywhere near the base, but the heroes had one weapon in reserve: themselves. With several powerful fighters, rangers, and clerics manning the oars they were able to close the range and fire a trebuchet. And miss. The pirates returned fire. And missed. Then the Razorwind fired again. A shot that Anallia had primed with a Glyph of Warding and which Cain Enlarged as it was fired. And it hit. It didn’t hit the deck as it was being aimed…..it hit the hull. Which put a hole in the hull a small dragon could have flown through. Which caused the pirate ship to heel over and begin sinking immediately.
[Yes, they one-shotted a ship, via a combination of luck — had the shot missed both spells would have been wasted — and skill.]
Barton went over to the rapidly sinking ship to search for clues and/or survivors, while the rest of the group fished the survivors (all orcs) out of the ocean. He found one survivor in the hull, some of the cargo that was aboard, and a box in the captain’s cabin. The ship’s log contained in the box revealed that the pirates had taken several merchants and were on their way to unload the cargo. Interrogation of the prisoners revealed that the captain had been standing on the deck by their aft trebuchet — directly in the line of fire — when the killing shot came in. The secret of the Razorwind’s approach appeared to have been preserved.
Now the party came up with their plan to deal with the base itself. It would begin by scouting. Having had the Razorwind anchor off the coast to the east of the base, the party disembarked and sent Alex, with both Invisibility and Fly cast upon him, to reconnoiter. He observed five guard posts at the top of the cliffs, each separated from the others by roughly 600 feet. He then proceeded to swoop down to the bottom of the cliffs where the sea level entrance to the base was located; it was an opening in the face of the cliffs. He entered, and was immediately inside a crowded guard post. Staying invisible and silent, he determined that the room was a fairly small chamber with three doors on the walls in addition to the opening from the outside. He whispered in Orcish into the ears of a couple of guards and got some dissension sowed into their ranks, which allowed him to discover that one of the doors led to a storage area, and the other to stairs up. Having decided he was probably limited on the amount of time he could continue to fly, Alex managed to exit the base and return to the team, whereupon they planned the actual assault.
They began the assault itself later that same night with a three-pronged attack on the guard posts at the top of the cliffs. At the westernmost post, Gerhardt annihilated an orc with one mighty blow of his trident, while Polcathir shouted to the remaining guards that one of their other posts was under attack. Anallia put the Wyvern Watch on that one, and only one of the seven orcs there was left standing. Taking roughly three minutes, the group consisting of Gerhardt, Anallia, Polcathir, and Barton killed all but one of the guards, who fled toward the central guard post.
At the eastern end matters were much simpler. Cain put Sleep on one post with no survivors, while Barlyn put Wyvern Watch on the other with one survivor, and Alex, Vorrk, and Nate finished that one off handily. That left only the central post, which was under attack from the marines. Although it took the marines some time to take out all the orcs, and one of them died in the doing of it, the rest of the party arrived and finished them off. Barlyn used one of the scrolls of Raise Dead to save the dead marine, and the group went on to the next part of their plan.
Only the two outermost guard posts had actual entrances into the base, essentially ladders up chimneys in the cliff. Each chimney got an amphora of oil dumped into it, and the oil was set alight. After this, large boulders were put on top of the exits. Now, so far as was known, the only exit the pirates had was the sea level one. The group had enough rope to make four rappelling lines to go down the outside of the cliff face, so they grouped into three groups of two and one group of three and began to rappel. Ironically, the only one to experience difficulty was the acrobat, Alex, who after catching himself once after a slip ended up having dropped his line entirely, and having to climb down the cliff face. As he was unarmored, he began putting his armor back on with assistance from Vorrk, while the rest took care of the orcs that had come out to investigate the sounds they had heard. The group then began to move into the base itself. They discovered storerooms and then slave quarters with approximately 40 slaves of various races; Nate escorted the slaves out and signaled the Razorwind to move in and pick them up. He arrived back to the group as they were finishing off a melee in the crowded conditions of an orc barracks one level up. Having slain more orcs, the band went up the next flight of stairs and came upon a T intersection; moving in single file to the west they happened upon an elf-orc who hurled Magic Missiles at them and fled. Gerhardt was severely injured, and the group moved him back to the help of Barlyn, while Anallia pursued. However, in the meantime, an elf-orc warrior came charging from the other direction, and engaged Alex. With help from Nate’s arrow fire, Alex was able to defeat this opponent, but it took quite some time. In the interim, Anallia found herself struck by lightning when she rounded the corner on her foe, and caught in both the forward strike and the ricochet, she was in real danger. She reacted to real danger as usual, and charged.
While all this was going on, Alex continued his long fight with the other elf-orc. Nate put several arrows into him as well, but also inadvertently put an arrow into Alex! Only a bit later, the elf-orc fell. While Anallia was engaged with the spell caster, Cain eventually came nonchalantly around the corner, put his Wand of Missiles over his head, and put the finishing touches on the mage.
At this point the time had grown late and the game had to be interrupted. The group still has an unknown amount of the base to explore, with an unknown amount of enemies, and they have only found crates full of trade goods so far. And what of the fires they started? Have the orcs extinguished them, or is the entire base about to go up into flames? And how is the illusion of the cliff walls generated? Answers will have to be discovered on the return to the Pirate Base of Nabor…..
XP for this part of the adventure is 430 per character; none of the “story goals” have been completed yet, and there are still a lot of bad guys to deal with.