So this was a fun session and pretty much the opposite of the last session. We had the players for the Barbarian Smjor and the half-elven Ranger/Druid Jezabel in town for the game. The player of the half-elven Sorcerer/Thief Greyleaf had to bow out at the last-minute, but that still means that we had myself plus eight players so it was a good-sized game. This is also about the size that I really enjoy and think works well even though I can enjoy smaller groups like last week’s as well.
We picked up shortly in time after the last game session, and the entire group gathered themselves up and set out on the road north to the Caves of Chaos – and it provided for me what I always tend to do with modules. In general, unless the module is something like the Tomb of Horrors, I always treat it like a living, breathing entity. So, in B2, with the Caves of Chaos, I have to wonder what all of the groups of monsters are doing when they aren’t sitting on their butts in their lairs? I had replaced the kobolds with human bandits, so I figured that at least some of them were out banditing! So the player character group was wandering up the road where the bandits (roughly twenty of them) were set up waiting for victims.
Let us be clear, a group of 12 adventures that looked loaded for bear, was not on their target list. They were planning on quietly keeping their heads down and letting the party past – but when you have a warrior-monk, a barbarian, four rangers, and a couple of friendly hawks and a raven familiar doing aerial recon it’s hard to hide.
One of the rangers (Taloth, one of the new ones) thought he saw a bandit twitch, and let fly with his own arrows, and within moments there was a less than withering crossfire from the bandits that barely bothered the party. One Sleep spell from Vesna the mage, plus the melee fighters cutting a swath through the bandits, and it was almost over before it was started. Half the bandits were dead, and the other half were sleeping – with one awake and surrendered survivor.
All of whom have the same tattoo or sigil on clothing of a three-eyed skull on them – as well as a remarkably uniform set of equipment and dress.
Not exactly standard bandits obviously.
There was a short bit of interrogation, where Smjor the Barbarian promised to not only not kill him, but let him free, if the bandit told him where he came from, the bandit spilled the beans about coming from the Caves of Chaos, explains about the multiple caves with other groups (mentioning goblins and more bandits) but says that they don’t exactly hang out together. Explains which cave was their lair – and is then let free (with hands still bound).
And then the discussion turns to just killing the other bandits (by all of the CN types) – which brings the Lawful Good Frater Nikolai roaring in and the group decides to just turn them loose naked to (hopefully) run back to town or something. The dead bandits are piled up and left behind while the party moves a bit further up the road to camp for the night.
And everything was fine that night until late, late at night when the reanimated, zombies created from the bodies of the dead bandits attacked. Nobody was lost, but the party was seriously freaked out by the mindless, slow-moving undead – particularly when they had no clue how they had been created. It didn’t help that Astrin (the NPC elf) has the ability to turn undead, but in the process is speaking in a hair-raising, blood-chilling unknown language that actually seems to scare the zombies…
And that was pretty much where we called it.