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19 January 2002 - Saturday

Amazon Quintet of Justice, episode II: "After the Bandits! We Must Rescue... CONRAD?!?!?"

Our Heroines' dwarven contact (and employer for the last job) decided he wanted to go to the university in the capital to some research. Reasoning that leaving town wouldn't make Hrogarth less of a target for the Forces of Evil1, the Amazon Quintet offered to escort him there. (They wanted to check into the lich situation anyway.)

There had been increases in prices and mutterings about bandits in the lowlands, so the trip was conducted with due caution, but nothing happened while the road meandered through several small villages of the same sort as Quietdale2.

Then, just a couple of days from the first real city, Tigris, while camping between towns3, Evil struck! A little while after dark, three bandits covered by a silence spell pounced on Solara, who had wandered off to skulk in the woods. At those odds, she started getting beat up pretty bad, but Amaryllis noticed the bushes rustling, checked to see that the only male for miles around (Hrogarth) was still asleep by the fire, and raised the alarm.

Three more bandits then leapt out at Amaryllis and stuck her with swords, ruining her clothes!

These guys were darn tough for bandits, but once the Amazon Quintet regrouped so they weren't being picked off individually at bad odds, they triumphed fairly quickly. It's unclear whether Hrogarth helped overall by flailing at the bandits with his satchel of books and breaking the sanctuary spell Fresa put on him, but the bludgeoning he did let us take one of the bandits alive without having to waste expensive potions on him. In fact, only one bandit didn't survive to get a fair trial.

Interrogation didn't go all that well, despite one of the bandits being turned over to Amaryllis and Solara so he could emit terrified shrieks from behind the bushes while Sophia discoursed sadly on how she just couldn't keep them from using up prisoners. They did admit to having friends who would be mad at them if they sold out4, but that was about it. So they got tied up, guarded carefully, and in the morning marched to Tigris to be handed over to lawful authority (along with all the recaptured loot from the camp Solara and Alyssa found by backtracking them).

This made the AQoJ local heroes, since no one else locally had been able to do anything about the bandits. The guard couldn't track them down, Q caravans got either ignored or crushed with overwhelming and well-informed force, merchants were losing valuable goods at a distressing rate, it was bad all around. Since Sophia lives solely to fix bad situations, action had to be taken! Fortunately, Hrogarth had been sucked into the local extension of the Great University, so the Quintet had some free time.

(One other adventuring party had tried to clean out the bandits but had last been seen heading off to raise money to ransom one of their number who'd been captured, said prisoner being described as a dark-haired, dreamy-eyed youth named Con-something. Amaryllis and Solara quickly agreed with Sophia that the bandits needed dealing with.)

As celebrities, the Quintet couldn't just announce they were saddling up to go clear out the bandits; the informers in the watch and the merchant's guild would have the word out in less than no time. So, after getting one of Amaryllis's sorcerous acquaintances to shapeshift to imitate one or another of them at scattered times and places within the city5, they snuck out of town and set off on the trail of the bandits.

They couldn't find any useful tracks from the camp of the bandits who attacked them, but Alyssa called a hawk to do some scouting and it reported finding two areas that didn't have much in the way of rabbits and deer. One of them also had owlbears, but the other didn't, so the Quintet pegged it as a likely bandit hideout and headed for it.

Of course the owlbears attacked along the way, but they were dispatched fairly quickly, and their lair located. The four appallingly cute cubs were determined to be not innately evil, so they were caged up with a good supply of food and water and left to be picked up on the way back.

The bandit camp was pretty much where expected, and not unlike what had been expected (rude wooden buildings, tents, a cave), but had one fairly sturdy building that contained about a dozen young, attractive humans. Since the adventurer guy was the only one who had been known to have been taken prisoner, this was an unexpected complication.

Plans were laid, modified, discarded, and revived, but finally it was agreed that kidnapping and interrogating the lone sentry was the first step to any plan. Alyssa laid a false owlbear trail to throw off suspicion while Solara and Sophia, covered by the silence wand, mugged the sentry. This would have failed miserably and brought the whole camp down on them had not the prisoners seen them and made enough commotion to cover the sentry's yells until they could finally blackjack him into submission.

There was no pursuit, so Amaryllis and Fresa didn't get to ambush anyone at the end of the owlbear trail, but that was within the parameters of the protoplan. The sentry, being not entirely Evil, succumbed to moral suasion and bribery and described the bandit's MO and the inside of the cave and so forth, but didn't know what the prisoners were for.

Our Heroines flailed around in the set of all possible plans for a while longer before deciding that the corridor that led off from the inhabited parts of the cave must lead to a secret escape route for the bandit leader. Thus, they planned to cover the entire exterior part of the camp with an entangle spell, use a flaming sphere to burn a path to the cave, and then collapse the entrance as soon as they got in to prevent being pincered. After cleaning out the higher-ups in the cave, they would go out the back door and come around the hill to clean up the riff-raff. Since the taking of hostages was a concern, Amaryllis would send an air elemental into the building where they were kept to mug any inside guard, and then she would fly up invisibly and pass the prisoners the Quintet's spare weapons.

The plan was actually dead well before contact with the enemy, but its hair and claws kept growing so it had the appearance of viability until the Amaryllis got to the prison shack and the air elemental said, "No armed guys in here, boss". And there was a funny oily smell...

Alyssa entangled the camp, but one of the guards by the cave escaped the plants long enough to shoot a fire arrow into the prison shack, which went up like a wooden building soaked in lamp oil. Sophia and her horse6 ran around to help deal with that and ended up fighting off the two bandits who were waiting to ambush anyone who tried to rescue the prisoners (there were still a few inside, tied up), leaving Amaryllis and the elemental free to work on prying a board out of the hut7. Meanwhile, the rest of the team fought their way along the path, through those of the bandits who had managed to break free of the entangle long enough to get in their way.

All this took much longer than it should have, but eventually Amaryllis killed the bandits at the hut, Sophia and her horse broke down the wall of the prison so the hostages could escape, and the rest arrived at the cave entrance. Things may or may not have been helped overall by the cloud of obscuring mist Alyssa conjured to cover the battlefield.

At the cave entrance, one of the mid-rank bandits tried to get Fresa to back off by showing a cute teenage boy and a knife, and demonstrating he wasn't afraid to use them, but she put the bandit to flight with a command, patched the kid up, and sent him off to join the other escapees. There was also an embarrassing moment when Alyssa's jump potion sent her flying over Fresa's head and into her own entangle, but the fog covered that up nicely, and she was able to conjure a flame blade and get free to join the fight.

Inside the cave was a rat bastard with a bastard sword, three of his goons, and a bunch of hostages. The bandits were shouting something about "Sacrifice them now!" "No, the stars are wrong!", so Sophia engaged the leader in open combat while Solara ran around behind and removed his kidneys. Amaryllis shot the bow out of the hand of the goon pointing it at a hostage, and he fled down the corridor. She and Solara followed him, as did Sophia shortly, and Alyssa and Fresa after they cleaned up the other goons and sent the prisoners out with the others.

It's a good thing things didn't go as planned, because the corridor did not lead to a secret escape route! It led to a small room with a pool of evil liquid and a big scary snake-woman-thing with a big scary sword. The bandit fled babbling behind his "Mistress" and battle was joined!

As usual, Solara worked her way around behind the foe (offing the goon in the process) while Sophia engaged from the front and Amaryllis flung rabid elementals and arcane missiles from afar. Alyssa and Fresa joined the battle line, so there was someone to take up slack when Sophia had to fall back. Fortunately, the snake-monster was completely unable to actually bite anyone, so we didn't find out how nasty its venom was, and although it was resistant to magic, some spells did get through. Holy water also got tossed into the pool, which made it hiss angrily but didn't seem to kill it.

Badly mangled, the snake-monster tried to dive into the pool, but body-slamming the fire elemental burned it enough that it slumped, unconscious, across the rim of the pool... which began sucking it in!

Sure that nothing good could come of this, the Quintet (plus elementals) dragged the corpse back out, with some difficulty, and shoved it into a corner far away from the pool. Amaryllis tried to use shocking grasp on the pool, even though it reached up to grab for her8, which resulted in her taking the maximum shocking grasp damage, but not in her being sucked into hell to be the pool's sex toy for the rest of eternity.

Leaving the pool to be fixed later, Our Heroines collected the treasure, freed prisoners (including a handsome, dark-haired, dreamy-eyed git named Conrad), and captured bandits, and went back to the city (stopping to collect the owlbear cubs along the way).

1: Well, someone didn't want him to get the Ancient Dwarven Research Materials!

2: For some reason, bandits don't find robbing poor hicks as rewarding as robbing rich city folk.

3: An ancient dwarf plus a rickety cart doesn't make for speedy travel.

4: Duh. Like the Quintet would have believed that a band of random muggers was carrying around eighteen potions and two wands.

5: But only doing disreputable things when disguised as Solara.

6: Or possibly, "the horse and Sophia".

7: Because the door was a) on fire, and b) entangled.

8: Why yes, she does hang out with Solara a lot. Why do you ask?

* * *

By this time it was midnight, so we broke there and fled homeward zoom zoom.

AQoJ Episode 2! by Silkie (Sun Jan 20 23:31:49 2002)

Eek! Don't leave me in suspense! What happens next? :)

Yay! Quintet!! by liralen (Mon Jan 21 09:22:10 2002)

How very cool! Yay! I wanna know what happens next! Goooo... Trip!

Writeup done! by Trip (Mon Jan 21 12:40:02 2002)

Pending corrections from other players or GM, of course.

Five Fingers of Justice serve up a knuckle sandwich to Evil! by Carl (Mon Jan 21 19:57:57 2002)

Excellent writeup nicely portrays the tension and excitement of what sounds like a most excellent game!

Will the Owlbears become mascots? Will Conrad?

Whonk! by Trip (Mon Jan 21 20:12:11 2002)

That's because Silkie is a most excellent GM! Do not listen if she tries to tell you otherwise!

Conrad was not sufficiently more cute than he was obnoxious, so we sent him back to his family and got money which we can use to better seek Connor. The owlbears will probably be sold to druids, which might get us less money but will make sure they aren't abused.

Unless Solara keeps one, I guess.

Ooooo Cute! by Carl (Tue Jan 22 17:42:26 2002)

Innocent Baby Owlbear; Small Beast (Cute); CR 1; HD 1d10+1; hp 6; Init +3 (Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 17 (+1 size, +3 Dex, +3 natural); Atk 2 claws -1 melee (1d3-1), bite -6 melee (1d4-1); Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft. SA Improved grab; SQ Scent; AL N; SV Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +1; Str 9, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 5, Wis 12, Cha 10. Skills: Listen +6, Spot +6

Sadly they're beasts instead of animals so Druid Animal Friendship wouldn't work on them (nor Awaken), but perhaps Silkie has a soft heart and would stretch the point.

Of course, it'll only lead to trouble when they grow up and eat Sophia's horse.

Owlbear Errata by Carl (Fri Apr 5 02:52:06 2002)

Sadly, the Monster Manual Errata changed all Beasts to be Int 2, so the owlbear cubs are a lot dumber than I listed them as.

Draw your own conclusions about Conrad.

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