"Crabs are a man's best friend"
"I thought you were dead"
"You lose it here, you're in a world of poop"
"Getting the monkeys off our backs"
Anyway, as always, Vaults of Ur games are run by Justin, and we were down to the minimum core crew of Dean as Very Elder Karl, Jeremy as Ripper the Werebear Orc, and myself as Thidrek the Sleestak. With only three PCs, we decided to hire some extra help. Karl hired a falconer (animal trainer) and two bowmen (and I forgot all their names). Thidrek bought four more attack beasts - a war beetle, mini-tyrannosaurus, battle crab and war flamingo) and a potion of speed. Ripper bought two more mini-T-Rexes and a potion of giant strength. Mongoose Lissken, the NPC we rescued, bought himself some better armor and weapons. Elder Karl also commissioned the creation of a stone bow, a crossbow that fires sling stones, so he could have a d6 ranged weapon instead of a d4 one.
|I should add these to Flying Swordsmen|
Jeremy was a bit late because of his work, so Dean and I roleplayed a short trip back to The Hive. We went down to the tunnels beneath, checked in with Zizzik and Forager, and then gathered some of the healing waters from the hidden spring we had discovered there. We gathered two waterskins each (including two for Mongoose).
When Jeremy finally joined us, our quest to finally slay the apes at the behest of the Great Bear cult finally resumed. If you have been reading these play reports all along, you may remember that Ripper was killed, and we went on a dream quest to escort his soul back to his body. We didn't have enough cash for the Raise Dead spell, so we were given a quest by the High Yogi of the Great Bear to kill these carnivorous apes that a heretical Bear Cultist had created. We got side-tracked and ended up captured by the harpies and their vulture-men, so the past many adventures have revolved around us trying to deal with the ape/vulture situation. Last time we finished off (so we think) the harpies and their chicken-men, so the vulture men are leaderless. Now it was time to finish off the apes.
We headed south through the ruins, and used the falcon and Karl's speak with animals spell to get a bit of reconnaissance done. There was a high hill, forested, with the ruins of a manor house on it. In a dream sending, the Great Bear had shown Karl that silver apes were the leaders that needed to be destroyed, and they were somewhere in that manor. At the base of the hill, a shrewdness* of apes attacked. We sent our attack beasts charging in, and we sat back and fired missiles at the apes (Thidrek drinking his potion immediately to be able to get more shots off each round). Our beasts did a fair amount of damage, but only the beetle survived the melee. None of the apes survived, though.
We headed up the hill, and found the manor house ruins, and outbuildings, and a very large tree atop the hill. We saw some apes, and in an attempt to lure them out, Thidrek got pelted with stones, but they didn't come out. We headed towards one of the buildings, and then both the white apes and silver-back apes attacked. There were six silver-backs and seven white apes. Ripper took his potion then. We made a tactical retreat into one of the buildings, but our beetle and one of the archers were slain before we made it into cover. With Karl's bless spell, cures and magic stone fist, Thidrek attacking twice per round and Ripper doing double damage on his hits, we were able to just barely hold our own.
Our first position was inside a two-story building. Our falconer and archer went upstairs and the archer fired down on the white apes while Ripper and Karl held the doorway, with Thidrek and Mongoose firing past the two for a round, then having to deal with the silver-backs, who flanked around to another door. I'm glad Thidrek now has a magic sword! This was a very tense battle. Ripper was battered but resisted the urge to go were-bear. Thidrek lost one shield due to a fumble roll, and another due to silver-back. Elder Karl dropped to negative hit points but Mongoose used Hive healing water to get him back on his feet. He also loaned Thidrek his spare shield. Everyone ended up in single digits by the time the white apes and the silver-back in the other door were destroyed.
Group Initiative rolls were tense, just the way Zak describes them. Hit rolls were tense. Monster hit rolls were even more tense! Man, this was a touch and go battle. And it still wasn't over.
Given a breather by the remaining silver-backs, we retreated up the stairs to where our retainers were. Ripper healed up a bit, Thidrek tried to repair his shield, and we waited for the apes. We heard them banging around on the walls below, so Ripper used his giant strength to bash some of the wall blocks down on them. A few missiles fired from the hole he made managed to slay one more silver ape.
Then the remaining two dropped in from the ceiling, knocking out both the archer and Mongoose with rubble. We began to fight, and then the floor fell through due to the load and the additional structural damage we'd inflicted on the building. Poor Mongoose and red shirt archer, they didn't survive the fall. The rest of us did, and took down the apes. And as the last ape fell, Ripper felt the spirit of the Great Bear leaving him. Elder Karl had the feeling that his church-imposed quest was at an end.
|Mongoose Lissken, R.I.P.|
But the adventure wasn't over. We still weren't sure if there were any more apes or not. We were also curious if there was any loot to be gained in the manor. So we did what murder-hobos are wont to do, and went further exploring. In the manor house, the main entrance hall had caved in, and the apes had used the pit as a dung-heap. Discussion of what to do followed. Karl insisted there must be a poop-monster in the dung-heap. Ripper, still at reduced agility due to a vulture-man inflicted crit, was leery of balancing acts to get around the pit, but also didn't want to get his armor dirty. Thidrek decided to do what he always does, and used his grappling hook to scale to the roof and look around.
Despite Thidrek finding that we could go across the roof and down to avoid the shit pit, Karl decided to wade through it. Ripper decided to tip-toe around the broken edge of the room (and despite his lowered Dex, managed it well). And just as Karl feared, there was an outyugh in the ape shit. Just as Ripper opened a door and a crossbow bolt flew past him, the outyugh attacked. Karl went down (again), and Ripper, after taking a crossbow bolt in the back and finding a Fort Low guardsman with broken legs was firing at us, jumped into the pit to save Karl. Thidrek, still high on speed, kept firing with his crossbow. Ripper made short work of the outyugh due to giant strength, and he hauled Karl out of the pit. Thidrek helped the guardsman out.
Ripper, already covered in shit, went back to search the pit while Thidrek washed out and tended Karl's wounds. Ripper found some jewelry and a magic scroll, and a few loose coins (we didn't bother to count to see if there were exactly 2000 coppers in the ape shit, but to be honest it wouldn't have bothered me if that was the number).
Lacking all of our hirelings and pets, and with our cleric down but our quest completed and some loot in hand, we headed back to Fort Low. Along the way, we found out more about Thidrek - his chemical dependencies like bug powder and potions are a way to deal with the existential dread of sleestak existence; about Fort Low society - orcs may be genetically engineered super-soldiers, but they're still discriminated against by the humans; and about life as an old school adventurer - it's short and hopefully sweet, but mostly full of blood and shit.
*apparently the group name for apes can be this or troop, but a shrewdness of apes sounds cooler to me.