Jason recaps the events from The Black Lodge Tale 2, Chapter 4: The C-Team.
So much for this being a non-combat adventure, huh?
I guess technically Steve said we shouldn’t get into it with the city guard, but that didn’t rule out meeting someone nasty in our travels. At first, I was assuming it might be something creepy-crawly down in the sewers, but I suppose one of our extractions being complicated by the customer being kidnapped also works.
But backing up a little: yeah, we split the party, which is something you’re Never Supposed To Do. Now, the main reason (as Steve mentioned in the intro) is that combat encounters are balanced for a full party and if you only have part of your group, you’re probably going to get your butts handed to you. Going in, I wasn’t so worried about that BECAUSE Steve had been presenting this as a mostly non-combat mission. More importantly, when it comes right down to it, we kinda had to. At the first split (leaving John and Seth behind), we needed those rafts to be built so SOMEONE had to stay behind to build them. As far as the second split (me breaking off from the dwarves), if we waited for Themolin all day, we’d run out of time on Option 1 and basically be committing to taking the family out through the gates. I’d rather have us choose our own course of action than having it dictated to us.
Personally I was more worried about splitting the party as a fairness issue. Splitting the party for 5 or 10 minutes is one thing. But splitting the party for an hour or longer? That can be kind of a drag for the people who aren’t in the spotlight. It’s nice that both John and Seth seemed to enjoy the action from afar and said they were cool with it, but still… it’s kind of a drag to give up your whole evening and NOT play. Doubly so in this online environment – in an in-person game, you’re still at least “at the table”; with this setup, you’re sitting in a room with a headset on, listening to other people do all the fun stuff.
Nothing to be done about it though. Party split, let’s go.
On the Themolin side, it’s mostly a matter of navigating bureaucracy, followed by overcoming Themolin’s natural cowardice. (For now.) But the Dwarf “Brothers” finally get in to see him, go to work on him, and finally get him over the hump. He says he’ll meet us later at a warehouse. I thought Chris was maybe a little too obvious with the “LOOK AT THIS VERY IMPORTANT NOTE THAT YOU’D BETTER NOT READ” but whatever… a) I wasn’t there and b) Lawful Good characters aren’t supposed to be great at deception.
Meanwhile, I take on making contact with the teacher and her family at the school. I go in assuming it’s a fairly easy encounter – it’s a pretty easy cover story to just say you heard about the school and wanted to register for classes or something — and for the most part it is. Here the big problem is the revelation that the two kids can’t keep their mouths shut – it’s hard to imagine these two going out the front gates, so it starts to feel like the family has to go on the boat. (I also don’t see scenarios where we split the family up; they’re probably a package deal.) I do like the nickname “Prunelord”, though.
The other big problem… I don’t know if it’s a problem or an opportunity, but it’s LITERALLY “big”… is that we pick up a giant as part of our extended entourage. I have to admit my first instinct was to tell him he was on his own. If the boat’s got limited space, he probably wouldn’t fit well or might cost us multiple normal-sized passenger slots, and it also doesn’t seem likely we’d get him out the front gate very easily. But then the analysis kicked in. It sounds like he has some useful skills that could help us. Swimming could come in very useful if the plan with the rafts doesn’t work. Stealth might play as well, though I still don’t think his stealth is good enough to waltz onto the dock without some sort of distraction. The other issue was quite simply that I didn’t want to make a unilateral decision for the group. So I kicked it down the road and told him to come along. We’ll sort it out later, though there’s still a 10% chance we tell him we can’t help him.
And OK… to metagame a little, this seems like one of those alternate/secondary objectives where you get extra fame and reputation if you can get the giant out too. But I’m saying that after the fact. Not part of my analysis at the time.
So I meet back up with the dwarves and we head to the meetup with Themolin. The good news is Wild Shape actually turns out to be useful for once, as I’m able to turn into a cat and recon the warehouse and sniff out the ambush that’s waiting for us. Pest Form is pretty much useless for combat, but for infiltrations, being able to turn into a completely innocuous creature you’d see wandering around the back alleys of a city… can’t be beat.
The bad news is that the plan we come up with to turn the tables doesn’t quite go off as planned. “Set a fire to distract them, sneak out the door and meet back up and take them out separately!” Ummm… about that. First, the door I planned to use to make my escape is locked, and I don’t have thieving skills or tools. So I’m basically stuck in the bottom corner of the warehouse with the bad guys between me and the dwarves. Second, I didn’t anticipate the bad guys had a caster, and my beautiful fire distraction lasts all of one round. WHOOP-DE-DOO! So now I have to hide amongst the goods (aided by a hero point) and wait for Thorgrim and Thorodin to wade in and start the combat that was always going to happen.
The fight itself actually goes well – I think part of it was luck, part of it was Steve getting fancy with the caster, and part of it was maybe us knuckling down and taking it seriously. I think knowing that we were operating short-handed made us take it more seriously and we didn’t try to get fancy. As I’m sitting here after the fact, I am wondering if Steve might have adjusted the encounter to account for splitting the party, but you’d have to ask him that. But the net effect is that Thorodin takes a bit of a beating, but we survive and rescue Themolin. We have now officially made contact with all of our customers.
So we hand-wave travel time and get back to the inn. Theoretically, it was 2 hours to get back and we went to the warehouse an hour before curfew, but we’ll let it slide. We’re back at the inn. Raft building continues (going better than the previous attempts), and we have to actually start finalizing the plans for who’s going with which batch. For the moment, it looks like we’re going to go with the family (wouldn’t want to split them up and kids can’t keep their mouths shut) and the accountant (highly visible target) on the boat. It’s not finalized, but that’s how we’re leaning. We still don’t have a plan for the giant, but the general consensus seems to be that we’re going to try to help him. The plan to disguise him as a statue seems… well… a little silly, but I don’t have anything better at the moment.
Also, we learn that the accountant and the guard may be somewhat connected – the guard mentioned in Garrla’s journal MAY be the source of the bookkeeping error Themolin found, as he might have sold the Prunelord… err… Runelord a forged painting. It’s TBD whether it was intentional or not, but I’m not sure it matters. Either he’s corrupt or he’s incompetent, but either way, it’s a lever we might be able to exploit now that we understand it better.
So that’s where we’ll leave it for next time. The plans are all starting to come together, and when we return, we’ll finally get our first batch of people out of this crazy town. As long as our rafts hold up and nothing unforeseen happens. While you’re waiting, feel free to drop by our Discord channel and let us know what you think of the show. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.