The West Marches

Deep into the Gilded Fields

Or, How We Find Out Rubble Rock Hill Is Occupied

Our Party:
Caden O’Connor – a wee leprechaun schooled in the magical arts.
David von Drascul – a fearsome ogre of above average intelligence who wields longsword and shield
Kressk Burgak – likewise, a strong yet cunning ogre wielding a longsword
Ujinn – a warrior priest of Heralhir who dual wields blades with deadly grace
Riffin Underwood – A staff swinging ruffian who has a way with words
Arlyn Coral – A deft Halfling archer skilled with many types of arrows

Our Adventure:
After many nights passed in safety in the city of -, Ujinn, Warrior-Priest of Heralhir, freshly recovered from his slow-healing wounds, once more called upon any able to accompany him to Rubble Rock Hill, nestled deep within the Gilded Plains. Among the previous volunteers, only Tyrranus Hammershield, fellow Warrior-Priest of Heralhir, could not return, but the roster was bolstered by both Riffin Underwood, staff-wielding fast-talker, and Arlyn Coral, Halfling archer and new to the West Marches.

After replenishing their supplies, Caden O’Connor, Leprechaun Wizard, made a public offer to supply a magical Bless-ing upon any with the means to repay him – $400 or a favor to be named later. With O’Connor himself, Ujinn, and David von Drascul, Ogre Extraordinare, all under the protection of the fey, the group took to the field.

The Gilded Plains seemed as tranquil as during the last, brief trip, passing patches of wildflowers, large bushes, and occasional copses of trees during our journey over gently rolling, grassy hills. As the day progressed into night, we could not help but contrast our uneventful journey with our previous venture, which ended so abruptly soon after its inception.

In the evening, it was decided to camp in a grove of trees, without light. Light conversation was had, especially between the two ogres, Von Drascul and Kressk, who passed the evening discussing sagely matters. Watches were set and executed, and our repose passed quietly – with one exception. During Arlyn’s and Kressk’s combined watch, a low sound reverberated over the plains, seeming to emanate from the direction of Rubble Rock Hill itself. It resembled a low wind suddenly strengthening, or perhaps a large breath being exhaled, or even the echo of some violent event. Whatever the case, it repeated for only a minute or two before again lapsing into silence. In the morning, the party conferred, and remembered hearing rumors of just such an event occurring. But it was one thing to hear such tales, and quite another to experience the reality.

Thanks to our dedicated march yesterday, we found ourselves only a few hours away from our destination. Confidently, and filled with a new resolve to find the origin of the sound and the rumors, we pressed on. Unfortunately, our uneventful journey of yesterday was not to be repeated.

Just an hour or so after recommencing our hike, we passed through another patch of large bushes, seemingly identical to the countless instances of vegetation already behind us. Our assumption was proven to be false as, without warning, two large vines whipped out of a bush and attempted to slam Von Drascul! Luckily, it miscalculated against the size of its opponent and stumbled past him. However, its initial salvo wasn’t complete, as a mass of nimbler vines snaked out and attempted to wrap around his torso. Von Drascul’s shield blocked much of the attack, but consequently was entangled. The suddenness of the attack meant the party did not have enough time to react; indeed, Riffin, Arlyn, and Krassk did not even initially notice.

Considering Von Drascul temporarily detained, the plant creature turned its attention to Riffin, striking him twice for heavy damage and subsequently binding him with its smaller vines. This, at last, was sufficient for Riffin and the rest of the party to notice the danger. Von Drascul drew his sword, and Ujinn called out a prayer to Heralhir for greater Might. O’Connor retreated slightly and cast Shield to boost his defenses.

Attempting to entangle as many opponents as it could, the animate bush attacked Kressk, inflicting light damage through the ogre’s armor. Kressk nimbly dodged the binding attack, stepped forward, and readied his sword to strike. Arlyn seemed strangely unresponsive to the party’s plight. Von Drascul began hacking at the vines surrounding his shield, cutting a good number away. Ujinn stepped up and swung at the creature, which dodged away, surprisingly nimble for its size. Kressk advanced and readied his sword to strike. O’Connor backed up another step and began channeling a Fireball spell, having learned it in the interim between outings.

This time, the plant creature focused its attention on Ujinn, but its assault was skillfully deflected by Ujinn’s sword. The tentacular mass was also . It was finally time for the party to go on the offensive, but the speed of this creature was not to be underestimated. Riffin was constricted by the vines wrapping him, falling unconscious. Arlyn took action at last to draw a fire arrow. Von Drascul, through raw might, tore his shield free from the entangling vines. Kressk swung, but the creature avoided the blow. Ujinn, as well, had his blow sidestepped. But then, O’Connor, with not-quite-Ridiculous luck, threw his fireball directly into the mass of vegetation, instantly setting it aflame.

The creature seemed not to react to the flame in O’Connor’s hand, but setting it alight certainly drew a reaction. Its entire form shuddered violently as it immediately untangled itself from Riffin’s unconscious body and sent its vines lashing out at everyone within reach: Kressk, Ujinn, and Von Drascul. Through defensive skill and the attacker’s desperation, only Von Drascul was injured for a medium amount. It then moved away as far as it could. Arlyn drew his bow back. Von Drascul moved forward and swung, but it again dodged away from the blow. Kressk made his own swing, hitting the buly beast at last for a minor amount of damage. Ujinn took a defensive stance. O’Connor, rethinking the targetted-spell strategy faced with the sheer dexterity of the beast, began channeling an Explosive Fireball spell.

Again, the mass of vines lashed out at everyone nearby, barely reaching Ujinn with its longest vines. Only Kressk was hit, with a heavy blow to the torso. Arlyn began aiming his shot, while Riffin remained immobile on the ground. Von Drascul and Ujinn both took defensive stances, content with letting their opponent run away and burn. Kressk, feeling no pain, charges ahead and makes another attack, treating the party to another display of brilliant agility from the shambling mound. O’Connor looses his weaker-damaging area-of-effect, scorching it again.

Kressk, being the only target for the bush thing’s panic, takes two heavy blows, but avoids the subsequent grapple. It then retreats away again. Arlyn continues aiming, seemingly singleminded in doing so. Riffin, Ujinn, and Von Drascul declare no additional agressive action. Kressk, feeling pain, drops back from chasing the creature. O’Connor prepares to channel an Explosive Fireball if it begins approaching again.

The party watches the thing for several seconds as it retreats a good distance away from the group. After achieving what it considered a safe distance, it attempted to pile dirt on itself in a desperate attempt to extinguish the flame. This also continues for a few seconds until, with a final shudder, it grew still. Ujinn immediately plopped to the ground and declared his intent to rest. Von Drascul took a ball of bandages from his pack and approached Riffin’ body to give him (and his backpack) a thorough once-over followed by some First Aid. Ujinn reacted incredibly rudely to the perfectly innocent action of Von Drascul checking over Riffin’s inventory for damage, and stood there supervising for the duration. Von Drascul and O’Connor approached the mass of vines, with the intent of destroying it if still animate, and of checking it for possible alchemical reagents. It did not seem to be of use to Alchemy, but some facts about the thing’s physiology were discovered, thanks to Von Drascul’s use of Riffin’s hatchet for some casual vivisection. Namely, the nature of the thing was entirely vines, with simply a slightly thicker stalk at the greatest junction of appendages. Perhaps it ran entirely off instinct?

Then, the bush’s nest was investigated. It had build up a small mound of dirt and hollowed out the middle to rest its bulk against, and was apparently using two mostly-decomposed corpses as nutrients. They seemed not to be human, but were certainly humanoid, having thick skulls and carrying two blades, the likes of which none of the group had never seen. The shape resembled a longsword, but additionally had a flat spike at the tip, which might be used in a piercing manner similar to a pick. The hilts of the blades had decomposed or fallen off, but they were still spoils of war. In addition, one of the bodies had a set of fine chainmail with a strange symbol, which again was unknown to the party: [a triangle with a slash through it]. After a casual inspection of the dirt of the nest, and after packing these goods away, the party moved to a more open area of the plains to rest and to wait for Riffin to awaken.

Riffin awakened with little memory of the fight, but was too injured to continue immediately. Ujinn, calling on his holy magic, healed the majority of Riffin and his own wounds. Although both ogres were injured, with Kressk practically unconscious from his wounds, Ujinn decided against channeling his energies towards healing either. After waiting an additional forty minutes for both spellcasters to regain their energies, the party continued on towards Rubble Rock Hill, resolving to go more slowly to avoid any possible bush creatures.

At last! After another four hours of travel, their destination was in sight, nary a mile away. But, cresting a low hill, the party sighted another creature on the next hill, just 200 yards away. Riffin was able to see the most detail, but could only describe a humanoid on a strange-looking, short-legged mount. The party slowed their pace again to approach, but the rider seemed to just be waiting them to move, and rode off towards the Hill itself. More detail about the hill could now be seen, with an incline running up to a cliff which seemed to split the path into left and right. Several ruins of stone buildings, perhaps describing an ancient keep now crumbled, were visible, with crimson flags showing the unidentified symbol flying from several locales. The rider went on the left path, and the party continued on – for a few minutes, at least.

Marching out slowly from the direction of the keep came five riders and seven soldiers on foot. The party immediately stopped to discuss tactics, and it was decided to wait for the opposing party’s approach near to a single large bush, of the type commonly found across the plains. O’Connor would be hidden under the bush for the possible tactical advantage if discussion goes sour, and the party could retreat around the bush if there was enemy ranged support. Holding position also allowed everyone to recover their Fatigue from marching and fighting.

As the group from the keep approached to within talking distance, it became clear that the strange-looking mounts were trained wargs, and the humanoids were orcs; a unfortunate combination for our unmounted, non-orcish speaking party. The group consisted of four warg riders wielding lances and longswords, one warg banner-carrier wearing a longsword, six footsoldiers, and the leader in an impressive great helm/full helm/half helm/open-face helm/transparent glass helm, with face plate.

The leader opened negotiations in his own tongue, and Riffin, supremely confident in his negotiating skills, stepped up to the challenge. Asked to speak in the common tongue, the leader took off his helm/opened his face plate/projected his face to the outside of his helm/summoned the visage of his dead ancestors to speak for him, expressed his disdain for the common tongue and the city gleaming in the distance, and eloquently explained his suspicions that our group heralded a future invasion of their orcish lands, which they hold in the name of [floppooll]. Riffin responded by affirming we are not scouts for a forthcoming army, we haven’t heard of [flasodaoson] but we’re sure he’s great, and we instead wanted to open trading routes between the sovereign state of Orcland and the varied mercantile force of Timeral. Riffin was sure that Timeral has something the orcs desired, perhaps weapons?

As it turned out, the orcs did want weapons – our weapons. If we gave them every weapon we had, they would let us escape. Two of the warg riders began circling around our flank as Riffin vehemently protested these unneccessarily violent actions. The orcish leader acknowledged Riffin’s rebuttal, but claimed that they were arguing from the position of power, and the party should really feel themselves lucky to avoid the full wrath of [shoopdawhoop]. Riffin had had about enough.

Many adjectives were thrown about, rather angrily. Some of them hit the orc leader in and around the face, and a few were able to burrow through his thick skull and bounce about near his pea-sized brain, preventing him from taking any actions other than staring vacantly in the general direction of the mere human who dared stress his admittedly poor grasp of the english language so. Recognizing that, in scant seconds, things were going to get hairier than the orc leader’s poor mother, the other members of the party began taking their own, less derogatory, actions. Arlyn, Ujinn, Von Drascul, and Kressk all drew their respective weapons, with Kressk opting for a crossbow first, and O’Connor turned his back to the enemy and began channeling a mostly-stealthy Explosive Fireball.

Riffin graciously allowed his verbal sparring partner to recover from Riffin’s unadulterated stream of consciousness, which unfortunately allowed him to issue a simple command that even his fellow orcs could understand: “Bring me his head.” Riffin’s second bout of auditory diarrhea spilled forth, unfortunately flying just over the leader’s left shoulder and spattering harmlessly somewhere nearby the banner-carrier worg’s snout. Von Drascul prepared a thrust against the two flanking warg riders, who were significantly closer than the other orcs. Krassk prepared his crossbow to fire. Ujinn made a move towards O’Connor’s cover. Arlyn drew one of her many magical arrows. O’Connor finished channelling literally all his body’s energy into his fireball.

The orcish footsoldiers began a very slow advance towards the party, as the aura of confidence they exuded seemed to blind them to the bright, shining light of heroism emanating from their opponents. At the same time, the two warg riders that had been watching, openmouthed, the storm of abuse their leader was currently weathering, turned and kicked their doggos into incredible hihg speed and began charging towards the party. The two flanking warg riders reached the party and were subsequently stabbed at. Recoiling from the audacity at their targets actually fighting back, they retaliated in kind by subverting the party’s expectations of taking massive lance damage and instead simply causing a nice breeze by bringing their warg mounts to a gentle stop adjacent to the group. Or, at least, that was their plan, which was in turn subverted by Von Drascul’s massive stop-thrust to one warg’s randomly-selected hind leg, tearing it whole from its host and giving it the freedom to decompose and become worm food that it’s always wanted to have. Simultaneously, the sound of rapid-fire syllables rained in a staccato beat down on the bare head of the orc leader, but his full helm, mysteriously missing for a moment, quickly materialized around his head, preventing him from any more than incidental distraction. Riffin then actually obeyed the action economy, nominally attempting to strike the warg nearby, but instead smiting the supposedly orc-owned below it in a demonstration of the disdain he felt for the so-called [flargopop]. Krassk also attempted to show his disdain, but accidentally missed the ground with his crossbow bolt and stuck it into the closest warg rider instead. Von Drascul moved to protect Riffin from the oncoming footsoldiers and prepared a stop thrust, since it worked so well the first time. Ujinn received a high-strength Armor spell from his deity. O’Connor turned around with the largest Explosive Fireball that this world has ever seen on-screen and threw it at the closer of the two charging warg riders. He was pretty lucky, and the resulting explosion massively damaged the warg and set it alight, and instantly rendered the orc rider unconscious. It also affected the second orc rider and warg for a much lesser amount of damage, and a few nearby footsoldiers were barely singed.

{Editor’s Note: I’m really tired, as you might be able to tell. The rest of the fight will be more condensed; you may rewrite it if you wish and if you remember more than I did (probable).}

The leader once again recovers from the shock of having both his mother and his children verbally defiled in the same breath. Several of the footsoldiers engaged the party in melee, with the others close behind. Von Drascul’s thrust damages the shield of one moving towards Riffin, but the other succeeded in attacking Riffin from behind, the coward. Riffin immediately dropped unconscious. O’Connor will spend the next few seconds channeling Great Haste onto Ujinn. Ujinn begins defending against the second of the charging warg and its rider. The warg’s raw bulk forces Ujinn prone, but he deals a decent blow to it in exchange. Krassk will spend many seconds in melee with the second of the flanking warg riders, eventually driving them away through sheer brutality. He takes a few minor hits during his brawl, forcing him to battle unconsciousness the entire time, but he does it, the beautiful bastard. Arlyn begins drawing and firing arrows of different types as fast as she can. Von Drascul does some work, turning away from Riffin’s body to hack the front leg off the warg fighting Ujinn.

Ujinn kneels, from prone. He parries and dodges backwards from attacks from the warg and rider. Von Drascul turns his attention to the two footsoldiers engaging him. In Krassk’s fight, a mistimed attack on the warg’s part stuns the beast for a moment, leaving the rider with “literally nothing to do other than stab Riffin in the vitals.” The orc leader begins approaching, slowly.

O’Connor finishes his Great Haste on Ujinn, drawing power from his Chaos Gem. Ujinn casts Might, using his helmet as his power source. Ujinn attacks the warg and rider, scoring minor hits. The rider attacking Ujinn sees an opportunity to attack Von Drascul’s rear with one (out of two) successful called shots to the skull. Unfortunately, he underestimated Von Drascul’s helmet, and no damage pierced through. Von Drascul expresses his feelings about the situation by delicately removing the rider’s weapon arm. Krassk finishes his melee and turns to support Ujinn. The footsoldiers see their chance to finish off an ogre and attack Von Drascul’s torso for what would have been a devastating blow – but the blessing of the fey chose to activate at this time, reducing it to merely a manageable wound. Rest in peace, Timothy A. Sparrow, for your sacrifice will be remembered, and your debts are considered paid. Arlyn lands a devastating arrow to a soldiers entire groin; the entire battlefield collectively winces in sympathy. The leader continues approaching, slowly.

O’Connor casts a minor Shield spell on Ujinn. The warg in front of Ujinn, having had quite enough of this insubordinate, quickling human, decides to have a nap on top of him. Krassk attacks the warg, ignoring its feeble attempt to parry, and scores a long wound down its flank. Von Drascul turns his full and terrible attention to the footsoldiers, intending to give them a list of his grievances. However, the numbers and odds are against him, and he, Krassk, and Arlyn are forced into a slow retreat in the face of five footsoldiers. The leader finishes approaching and stares down at the body at his feet – Riffin.

Riffin is removed from the fight, quite slowly, over four seconds of having his head cut off with a knife. Damn orcs.
Ujinn is pinned under the bulk of a fully-grown, horse-sized warg, unable to move or be moved, unable to be injured or deal injury, taking half as long to do nothing twice as fast. Damn DMs.
O’Connor removes himself from the fight, dancing and dodging lithely against enemies only he can see. Damn alcoholics.

Von Drascul, Krassk, and Arlyn fight a retreating battle as they get farther and farther away from their allies, who so desperately need their help. They are forced to watch as Riffin’s head is brutally severed from its body, never to banter again. Their effort at revenge seems futile, the orcish leader effortlessly batting away a thrown dagger.

And then…

As if fate smiled on them, as if the universe decreed such an end, as if Heralhir himself was watching this fight and said, “Let it be…”

A single arrow, flying true from the bow of Arlyn Coral, pierced the left breast of the orc, sprouting suddenly from a fresh patch of crimson. He regarded it dumbfoundedly for just a brief moment before collapsing unceremoniously to the ground.

The effect on the battlefield was abrupt and almost anticlimactic. The morale of the orcs, strong just a moment ago, crumbled immediately. Those still surviving turned to flee, and most were cut down in just a few seconds. The banner-carrier,untouched by the combat, two heavily injured wargs and their riders, and a single footsoldier were all that escaped death at the hands of the ogres.

As O’Connor was brought to his senses, Ujinn was recovered, and Riffin was mourned, and as we quickly began to strip the orcs of whatever we could, we began to hear drums and horns from the direction of the fort…

Combat protocols:
Vine creature had crazy high dodge, 2d6+3 ish damage on vine hit, entangling attack was built as binding attack, with damage to the vine directly reducing the str score; Driden hit for 10 and it became str 12,so they have initial str 22. Move 4ish overland

orc footsoldiers had shield 11ish, parry 8, dodge 8, move 4, riders had weapon skill 18 (maybe only mounted?), HT 13+, worg have move 8, could only dodge (11ish?)

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keataren AliastheUnknown

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