Keep on the Borderlands Session #7: Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers Style!

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was scrapping my plans to use the E6 house rules with D&D 3.5 for my current campaign. At that time, we switched everyone’s characters over to Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea characters. A side effect of this was scrapping demi-humans, which everyone was fine with. We played our first session after the conversion this weekend, and it was great.

Back at the Keep on the Borderlands, traitors were hung for their involvement with a cult of elemental evil. Our party returned to the keep with a bandit captive, and the body of their fallen comrade, Enmetius. The bandit confirmed that their group had been working with the priest who had until recently been residing within the keep, and that this priest had established a shrine to his foul gods within the caves of chaos. Furthermore, it was revealed that the cult was actively recruiting brigands and monsters to it’s cause, and their aim was to weaken and overthrow the stalwart defenders of this borderland keep. The castellan, Lord Trayven, commissioned the party to find Jovan and root out these cultists before their plans could reach fruition.

And so the party re-outfitted, and the ranger who guided them to the bandit hideout, Viiridi  (the replacement for Enemetius) agreed to join the group. Furthermore, the mercenary Kelmore, whom the party had recently rescued from a hobgoblin lair, swore his sword to the service of Tollman “Butters” and the group at large (hooray, a henchman!).

Back at the Caves of Chaos, the party decided to continue their clockwise exploration of the caves. Those of you following along at home will note that this brought our adventurers to cave J, which of course is chock full of gnolls. Although these were the toughest creatures the party had faced to date, they made short work of the hyena men (and women, and those poor, non-combatant, hyena man babies). The party took out the first couple of waves of guards without too much trouble as they pressed deeper into the caves, which quickly led to a showdown with the bulk of the gnoll tribe in their main living quarters. While trying to press their way into said chamber, the party was attacked from behind by the gnoll chieftain and his concubines, which should have went way worse for the party than it did. But, lucky for them, I couldn’t find my favorite d20, which is the only explanation for why the gnoll chieftain failed to land a single blow during the entire combat. While the gnoll leader was making this miserable display of ineffectiveness, Tim the Conjurer was able to put the female gnolls to sleep with a well placed sleep spell, while the party’s front line slowly won a war of attrition with the male gnolls. However, before the tide turned against the outclassed gnolls, Kelmore the hireling learned what having -6 hit points feels like. The other highlight of the battle was Tollman’s back stab attack against the gnoll chieftain. Tollman quaffed a potion of invisibility, maneuvered himself around behind the chieftain, and struck with all the might he could muster. All the might Tollman could muster, in this instance, worked out to be two hit points worth of damage, after doubling. This would have been the perfect time for the gnoll chieftain to punish our foolish thief for such a bold endeavor, but we’ve already discussed what a miserable disappointment the gnoll chieftain turned out to be.

That’s where we stopped things for the evening. Having dealt with all the gnolls the party were wounded but still in pretty good shape, except for poor Kelmore. Their plan appears to be investigating the chamber of the gnoll chieftain and in all likelihood camping in the gnoll caves, not wanting to waste valuable time travelling back to the keep to heal up. The rules switch earned the enthusiastic approval of everyone at the table, including myself. In a previous post I mentioned that I thought descending armor class was silly, but I have to admit that it felt good to be sitting at the table and rolling to hit armor class five again. Everything about the game just felt right. We just finished playing a couple of hours ago and I already can’t wait till our next session.

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