Sunday, September 11, 2016

Idalium Game 51: The Return of Krong

Session date: Monday, May 2, 2016
Game date: Tuesday, October 22, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 9180/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 10813/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 403/2000
Krong, Dwarf 3, hp 20, xp 4500/8800

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3021/4000

Our friend and former DM was visiting from overseas again, and we invited him to drop in for a game. I still had his character sheet from the last time he was in town, so again he played Krong, an alarmingly unstable dwarf cultist of some obscure fire god, as unlikely as it might be to encounter him again many hundreds of miles from where they last parted ways. I quickly bumped Krong up to third level to account for his "offscreen" adventuring exploits, and we were ready to play. Of course, most of our game time was spent chatting and catching up, so this session was much shorter than usual.

When we left off, the adventurers were caught in an awkward standoff. They had arrived in a small alpine village in search of assistance, only to find that the four surviving wererats monks had got there before them, and had conned the villagers into believing that they had been unjustly attacked by the party!

"It is them, headman!" hissed one of the monks. "These are the vagabonds I told you about! We welcomed them in to our monastery, gave them food and shelter, and they repaid us by slaughtering our entire brotherhood! Attack them! Attack them at once!!"

"Now, wait just a damn minute," grumbled Gulleck. "They attacked us! We came to their monastery on a quest for a holy relic, and they tried to murder us for no reason. You see that body on the horse? Ask them how he got that way!"

"Headman, these are pillaging vagrants. Whose words will you believe, those of we monks who have helped this village for centuries, or some unknown ruffians?"

"It is true," said the headman tentatively, "that the monastery of Sri Santo Pelasong has been a friend to this village for as long as anyone can remember. And you are strangers here..."

"What was that name? I don't recall hearing that before. I thought you were the Brotherhood of Saint Rathmus!"

The bickering was interrupted by the sound of a tavern door slamming open, and a stout and ruddy-faced dwarf emerged, clutching a beer stein in each hand. "What's all this noise?" he shouted, and then his face turned to surprise as his eyes fell on Gulleck.

"You!" he shouted in disbelief, pointing.
"You!" shouted Gulleck in return.
"How the hell are you!?" Krong exclaimed, pounding the Gulleck on the back.

There was a confused exchange of greetings and explanations, and the headman looked disorientedly from one to the other. The monks looked disturbed as well, displeased that they had lost the momentum of the conversation.

"Headman, were you not going to throw these vagrants out of the village?"

But the party turned with increased confidence on the monks. "There's an easy way to answer this, headman. Let's just wait until nightfall and then we can all have this conversation. I think everything will be clear then." (The monks grew pale at this suggestion.)

At this point someone realized that they actually had one of the original monks with the party, the acolyte Khrisong whom they had rescued from the catacombs under the monastery. It turned out that Khrisong was known to the headman, and when he vouched for the party, the ratman monks snapped, "We will not have our good name smeared in this fashion. Headman, we will talk with you again tomorrow. In the meantime, we will be in our cottage!" And they stomped off to a small cottage tucked away in the yard behind the headman's house. The headman had given them shelter in his guesthouse when they arrived battered and hungry the night before, but now, with Khrisong telling the story of his imprisonment, he was deeply disturbed and anxious. He agreed to join the adventurers in confronting the monks at nightfall.

As night fell and the moon shone down on the forest, the party, along with the headman and a couple of his guards, gathered near the cottage. Krong had equipped himself with a bandolier from which hung several oil flasks stuffed with oily rags. (I generally don't allow convenient "Molotov cocktails" in my game, but I make an exception for Krong.)

Gulleck pounded on the door. "Open up, we want to talk!"
"Go away," hissed a now-familiar squeaky voice. "We are indisposed. We will settle this in the morning."
"All right. I tried. Open it up, Meat."

Meat slammed his shoulder into the locked door repeatedly, until the latch splintered away from the jamb and the door burst open. With a hiss of rage, a man-sized rat sank its teeth deep into Meat's arm (just barely failing to do enough damage to inflict lycanthropy on him!). Meat struggled with the rat monk in the doorway, and then Krong threw a flaming flask of oil at point blank range into the ratman's chest, and he and the other one in the doorway went up in flames, screeching in pain and anger.

Meanwhile, the other two ratmen had sneaked out a window, and were rather foolishly attempting to flank the attackers instead of just high-tailing it out of the village. They too found themselves engulfed in Krong's fiery wrath, and things ended quite ignominiously for the brethen of St. Rathmus.

The party having cleared the misunderstanding with the villagers, they procured rooms for the night, and Krong returned to his libations, joined by Gulleck. He would vanish the next day, departing the party's adventure as suddenly and coincidentally as he had joined it.

It's a funny thing about monsters. Sometimes the chance events of an initial encounter, the random die rolls and tactical happenstances, can define the character of a group of villains. The wererat monks of St. Rathmus started off with the potential to be sinister and malevolent enemies, but a few fumbled attacks and botched ambushes led them to quickly take on a personality of selfish and arrogant incompetents whose threats significantly outstripped their ability to make good on them. It got to the point where the players were rolling their eyes and laughing at the bombastic threats of the rat monks. On the other hand, perhaps it's not so inappropriate after all for shifty, cowardly creatures like wererats.

The adventurers are still quite concerned about the letter they found in the monastery, implying that there is another group of St. Rathmus cultists in the dungeons below Idalium, but with the power to change freely between human and rat form, regardless of the time of day. But for now, they spent some time in the mountain village resupplying for their journey home, and seeking to commission a sturdy casket to transport the remains of poor Brother Guntur.

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