The weight of the bookshelf pinned the pirates underneath. Captain Partinosus wondered what kind of books the old man had that could be so heavy. The large, rock-like creature bent down and snatched Partinosus’ hat from his head.
“It seems you have not learned your lesson,” Lo-Kag said. He adjusted his new prize as he spoke.
“That’s not it,” Partinosus replied, “we just thought ye’d be gone by now.” The captain looked around at his crew. Stormbreaker, Half-foot, and Grathen were all under the same heavy bookshelf with him. Four other crewmen stood near the door to the manor with their weapons ready.
“Look,” Partinosus said, “We’re not keen on fightin’ ye again. How about we just keep to ourselves, hm? You and yer mateys can take whatever yer lookin fer…” he nodded toward the now-open hidden door to the basement vault, “and we’ll pilfer a few pieces fer ourselves up here.”
Lo-Kag eyed the pirates warily. Rapha interjected with his own thoughts.
“We can’t just let them go. They’re hardened criminals. They pillage and murder!” Rapha said. Lo-Kag unsheathed his sword.
“When was the last time you murdered someone, captain?” demanded Lo-Kag. He pointed his longsword at the prone Dragonborn. Captain Partinosus furrowed his brow in thought.
“Eh… yesterday, me thinks,” he said.
Lo-Kag needed no further convincing. He thrust his sword through the Dragonborn’s neck. Blood poured out of the wound as the once-feared pirate slumped to the floor.
“Captain!” yelled the pirates. Captain Partinosus’ crew began to squirm their way out from under the bookshelf as the other pirates near the door loosed crossbow bolts at the group.
Since the players beat the pirates last time, I wanted to make sure the pirates remembered their loss and tried to avoid combat. But avoid it, they did not. Captain Partinosus’ swift execution at Lo-Kag’s hands was a bit unexpected, but it was so damn funny at the time that I didn’t dare stop it.
It probably saved them anyway. They were in for a tough fight…
“Damn to the hells whatever god thought up Halflings,” said Rapha. Corrim Half-foot ducked, dodged, and weaved away from Rapha’s arrows. Rapha retreated down a narrow aisle between a bookshelf and the manor’s wall, rounding the corner as he reached the end.
“Ye won’t get away from me!” called the Halfling. Corrim sprinted after his prey. As he dashed down the aisle, Rapha reappeared from around the corner with his bow drawn and ready. It was a trap.
Rapha loosed a pair of arrows in quick succession. The Halfling’s eyes widened. He managed to squirm around the first arrow, but there was no room to avoid the second. It pierced straight through his throat. Corrim Half-foot collapsed in a pool of his own blood.
Elsewhere, Alycstair was busy warding off his own attackers. He extended his hands outward and a vortex of flames spiraled outward from his body. The fire burned everything around him, setting furniture and Toren Grathen’s long blonde hair ablaze.
“No! Not my fabulous hair!” shrieked Toren. He grabbed at it in a panic, badly singeing his arms.
As the flames subsided however, a crossbow bolt flew through the air and pierced Alycstair’s shoulder. Alycstair could see another pirate preparing his own shot. Thinking quickly, Alycstair used a quick burst of magical frost to put out the flames covering a nearby table, dived under it, and shrouded the area around him in a dark magical field.
“What in Procan’s name be that?” said one of the pirates.
“It doesn’t matter! Just shoot it!” answered the other.
It’s always a satisfying feeling whenever players do something creative. Alycstair’s magic coupled with his use of cover gave ranged attacks a huge penalty. Looking up the rules, however, I noticed that I still neglected something. I forgot about the requirement to choose a square to attack when the target is obscured or invisible. This ultimately had some major ramifications…
Rapha dove into the dark, swirling orb to join his comrade. Crossbow bolts whistled through the air and stuck into the table.
“Nice work,” Rapha said. Alycstair began to answer, but a crossbow bolt interrupted him. The metal shaft had impaled him through the stomach. Blood poured from the wound as he faded from consciousness.
“No!” yelled Rapha. He returned fire, piercing one of the pirates through his neck. Rapha grabbed Alycstair’s prone form.
“I’ve got you,” He said. He pulled furiously at Alycstairs body, but it was much heavier than he expected…and scalier. As the dark shroud faded, Alycstair’s transformation was revealed.
His skin tone was now a dark blue color, and where his legs had been was now a long serpent-like body. Rapha let go in shock.
“What in the name of the gods…” said Rapha.
A lucky crossbow bolt revealed Alycstair’s secret
that may not have come out if I had remembered the rules I’M SORRY to the party. His true form is revealed whenever he loses consciousness (or whenever he chooses).
When the character was created, we (Tyler and I) had to come up with some balancing mechanics. When Alycstair is disguised, he receives penalties to physical abilities and modifiers and cannot access his racial powers. We also decided on the conscious requirement as a way of forcing the revelation eventually.
As the battle raged on, the PC’s were pushed to their limits…
Azai unleashed punch after telekinetic punch at Vladimus, but they didn’t seem to phase the stout dwarf.
“Me last hangover hurt more than that!” he proclaimed.
The dwarf charged towards Azai with his heavy shield in front of him. He crashed into Azai, pinning him against the wall, and followed up his tackle with a bone shattering blow from his warhammer.
Azai coughed up blood, but his eyes glowed. Using his powers, he pulled a chandelier from the ceiling and used it to push Vladimus away.
“I need help!” cried Azai.
“I’m busy!” replied Lo-Kag.
LoKag was too preoccupied warding off attacks from both Toren and another pirate. He blocked a few strikes with his shield and sword, but some got through, ripping off hardened bark when they hit Lo-Kag’s enchanted armor…and chunks of flesh when Lo-Kag was not as fortunate.
Rapha, seeing the predicament, nocked two arrows onto his bow. He pointed the bow at Lo-Kag, breathed out slowly, and loosed the arrows. The two arrows curved away from Lo-Kag and struck his two opponents. The pirate collapsed clutching his throat while Toren collapsed clutching his singed hair.
Without missing a beat, Lo-Kag sheathed his sword and stepped on top of the fallen bookshelf. Like a boulder launched from a catapult. Lo-Kag leapt at Vladimus, crashing into the dwarf and knocking him to the ground.
Wanting to push the PC’s as far as I could, I matched up the combatants more logically this time. Corrim’s mobility allowed him to close the gap with Rapha easily. Toren’s high damage made him a big threat, even for Lo-Kag. And Vladimus’ high fortitude defense made him a difficult target for Azai.
Luck, however, played a fairly large role in the pirates’ deadliness. Most of their dice rolls were high, resulting in relatively few missed attacks and high damage. Alycstair was within an inch of death before Azai, with only 7 hp himself, succeeded in stabilizing him
With the battle concluded, the players retrieved their first Tablet of Fate from the basement vault and headed back into the pirate town. Tink showed them to her supplier of all things alchemical, and they stocked up on some much needed health potions.
But with no ship nor crew, the day growing dark, and the party in bad shape, they decided to rest at an inn. Plans were made to continue the search for the other Tablets and head further east to Mount Thay.
Got any D&D war stories of your own? Is the lack of sub-headings jarring? Let us know in the comments below!