Well, we finally got another game session in, which is good. My every other week game has turned into more of a once a month game, but at least we’re still playing.
In our last session, the poor priest of St. Cuthbert fell from the walls of the keep, and foul play was suspected and then pretty much confirmed. The party failed to take any action against the somewhat suspicious priest of Kord who had been staying at the keep, which kind of surprised me, and so without too much adieu he and his lackeys just up and left. This turned out to be very suspicious, so the castellan, Lord Trevyn, tasked the party with tracking down the wayward priest. A local trapper by the name of Gundrik volunteered to serve as a tracker for the party when they were ready to begin their search.
However, it would be a couple of days before they were ready, since the party was still pretty banged up after their last foray into the Caves of Chaos. So when the party set out in search of the priest, he already had a two-day head start on them. Still, Gundrik was able to find the trail of the priest and his two lackeys quite easily. Their tracks veered off the beaten path not far from the keep, crossing the river and climbing into the forested hills that rose up to the South of the keep. Other tracks were soon found, and the party adopted a strategy whereby Gundrik and Tollman Butters, the halfling thief, would scout ahead of the rest of the party.
This proved fruitful, for the stealthy halfling and the tracker were able to sneak up on a bandit sentry and catch him unawares. A couple of well placed arrows assured that they would be able to approach the bandit camp in secrecy. They surveyed the camp before going back and filling the others in on the details. The party decided on a two-pronged attack, for some reason thinking it was best for the ranger, the thief, and the cleric to take up a position on one flank while the fighter, barbarian, and sorcerer attacked from another.
Combat started with the ranger and halfling firing some arrows into the camp, taking down an unlucky bandit before he knew what hit him. Then, with a mighty roar, Enmetius the barbarian flew into a rage and charged into the camp, with Garwin the Dwarf and Tim the Conjurer hot on his heels. Things went alright for the party at first, the element of surprise giving them an advantage among the disorganized bandits. However, once the bandit leader and his lieutenant joined the fray, and the other bandits got organized, some problems with the party’s chosen course of attack started to become apparent.
One setback was that Tim the Conjurer found himself in a poor position to make use of Color Spray, which had served the party quite well against large masses of foes in the Caves of Chaos. Meanwhile, Enmetius’ charge had left him deep behind enemy lines, while the flank that was being held by the ranger, the thief, and the cleric found itself hard pressed by bandits. Garwin was a one man bulwark, with the bandits finding it nearly impossible to get past his armor and shield. Enmetius put up a valiant fight, but was ultimately overwhelmed by half a dozen bandits before being unceremoniously dispatched by the bandit captain. Tim managed to get off a Color Spray, and Brother Jaeric kept his flank in the fight by exhausting his healing spells.
Slowly, the tide started to turn in favor of the party, due in no small part to Garwin’s stubborn refusal to be hit combined with an effective application of Cleave. Enmetius had managed to wound the bandit captain grievously and in his weakened state he was no match for Garwin. However, despite Jaeric’s heal spells, Tollman Butters was knocked unconscious and everyone else was badly wounded before the fight was over. A prayer was said for the brave Enmetius, and it was decided that arrangements would be made to send his body back to the lands of his people.
The priest the party had been in search of had evidently departed the bandit camp before they had arrived, and it was difficult to tell where his tracks may have led a midst all the other tracks at the bandit camp. The party was able to secure horses for themselves as well as the few possessions of the bandits before returning to the keep with heavy hearts.
Although a character died, this was still a really good session. I think the players (who are all new to the game) learned a lot from the bandit encounter, and afterwards we discussed some different tactics that might have worked out better for the party. The player who had been playing Enmetius created a ranger, and I will hand-wavily insert this character in to the place of Gundrik, the NPC ranger that was acting as the party’s guide. We’ll come up with some good reasons for him to stay on with the party, and this should provide for a relatively seamless integration into the group. I’m really looking forward to the next session, and I hope we don’t have to wait another month to play again.