10th February 2019 Session 10 took place on a Sunday, the first Sunday so far.
Because we played on a Sunday, we played for a bit longer than usual.
The characters for this session were: Shamos Berta Tiny Tracey Alton Cracksmasher (forcibly recruited) Tarkus (forcibly recruited) Pel (forcibly recruited)
As always, the session began at the gates of the legendary Castle Torrog in the Edion mountain range. The party could see a tiny speck of a structure close to the foothills below. They descended to a crossroad at the edge of the foothills. Just beyond the crossroads, the party spied the ruined old tower with a goblin lookout on the roof.
10 sessions in and the players definitely have learned to ignore the tower.
Maybe I'll have to find a way to entice them back into it!
The party decided to leave the old tower well alone and followed the southern road. They continue south past the Serpent Shrine they cleared out previous until they encounter another crossroads.
The way west leads close to the forest and they way east into the foothill. The party decided to go west.
The way west leads to an old abandoned village. It serves as a small base for the goblins. Infact, the reinforcements for the ruined tower come from here!
This goblin band stationed here is about 40-strong, however 10 of them will be up at the tower at any one time normally.
A way along the track on the outskirts of some ruins, they were suddenly attacked by a band of goblins.
As the players headed west, a random encounter roll was triggered. The party encountered a band of goblins.
Because it was close to the goblin camp, I decided that it would be a patrol from the camp.
The party managed to defeat the goblins without too much trouble and decided to progress onwards. They realised that they are on the edge of some old ruined village and something might be in the village.
Wisely, the party sent forward someone quiet (Pel) to reconnoiter and Pel discovered that there was a goblin settlement in these ruins. Pel spotted 10 or so goblins relaxing around a campfire close to what might have been village square in times past.
Wisely indeed, otherwise they probably would have just blundered into the village. That probably would have been bad
I think I gave them a little prompting here, but at the same time they were canny enough to pick up on it.
After some discussion, the party decided to attempt the stealthy approach and incredibly, it worked - for the most part anyway. Everyone managed to make successful stealth rolls - except Tarkus.
Poor old Tarkus.
So with Tarkus distracting the goblins, the rest of the party managed to have round of surprise attacks. This proved most useful as in the following round, more goblins burst out of the dilapidated buildings and run to attack.
A little bit of forethought and stregising can go a long way. Had the party just blundered in here, it would probably alerted the goblins a lot earlier who would have massed into one group of 20.
Instead, the party managed to thin the numbers before the 2nd wave of goblins came on to the scene. Making the situation much easier to manage.
Among this 2nd wave of goblins is the 'Goblin-Boss' who is their captain and as you can imagine bigger and badder than the average goblin. The fight continues, the goblin-boss has a special ability that allows him to throw minions in front of damaging attacks. This forces Shamos to use up his most powerful attacks. Eventually the party are victorious - even though there are a couple of shaky moments.
A nice little skill to have - provided you've got the minions to sacrifice.
After this the party explored the ruins and found an old village half swallowed by the great forest. They discovered a couple of hidden caches of money and some rotted old documentation.
After this they left old ruins behind and returned to the crossroad. The party the decided to head east. The eastern trail led them up and into the Edion foothills with the mountain range looming beyond.
The trail wound its way up to some abandoned old buildings and past that, a quarry. The party peered down noticed that the quarry was populated with giant spiders. They watched a little longer and noticed that along the northern face of the quarry was a large amount of webbing and a large crack (also covered in webbing). They also noticed that the webbing contained various items, too far away and too thickly covered in webbing to identify.
Curious... and so tempting. Will the party take the bait.
So the decision was made to advance into the quarry. Unsurprisingly, upon the party entering the territory of the giant spiders, caused them to attack.
Of course they'll take the bait. What D&D party worth it's weight wouldn't?
Luckily for the party, the giant spiders were mostly on the far side of the quarry and the party managed to thin their numbers considerably before they closed. Apart from webbing up a party member a couple of times, the giant spiders were quite ineffective.
The giant spiders were indeed a bit crap.
Partially this was due to me getting poor rolls.
But also I positioned them on the other side of the quarry, some 400' feet away. If the spiders err sprint? Scuttle fast? If the spiders move quickly, they cover 80' a round. It takes the furthest spiders 5 rounds to reach the party, which for them is pretty bad.
I'm not sure how I'll approach this next, I'm sure they'll be coming back (see below).
I could put the spiders closer?
I could add more spiders?
I could put the spiders closer and add more spiders?
Option 3 seems good!
Once the quarry was cleared of giant spiders, the party searched the webbing. They found coins and a handful unusual objects. After this the party deliberated going through the giant crack. They theorised that the webbing would continue on the other side of the crack and would alert any other giant spiders of their presence.
They theorised correctly. On the other side of the crack, the webbing does continue and there is a cave network to explore and some interesting things to find.
Additionally, deepest in the cave network is a 'boss' 'spider-mother' that constantly produces offspring (more about this below).
One of the features of a west marches setting are the 'difficulty pikes' where a location will be much tougher than the surrounding locale. This boss will be a difficulty spike.
Difficulty spikes come in 2 flavours. Very obviously dangerous encounters that are easily spotted and avoided. Hidden dangerous encounters that are very tricky to reach. The rewards for overcoming such an encounter should be great.
I've not prepared the boss encounter yet, but I plan for it to be the 2nd kind.
In the end, the party decided to return to Castle Torrog with their current haul.
It seems to me that the party had expended quite a bit of resources in defeating the spiders so easily.
Staying and taking a rest in the quarry is a risky proposition - even though they might not realise it yet. The quarry has a very high encounter rate because of the spider-mother. It also has a high respawn rate. By the time the party returns, the quarry will be occupied by giant spiders again.
Hopefully, this will provide the party with a quandry to ponder.
Clearing the quarry of giant spiders only to come back another time may prove futile, the quarry can quickly repopulate, putting the back back to thee start when they return. Even resting poses a risk.
Clearing out the quarry and then the cave is the most efficient method to use. But it will involve a prolonged encounter and much more discipline in managing resources. We'll just have to see how it goes.