Monday, November 4, 2013

Wilds - Divided We Fall

The last few turns of my Wilds play-by-email Labyrinth Lord game have involved a rather convoluted series of split-party actions (always a good thing in the dungeon -- not!). One of the nice things about PBEM games is that you can deal with split up scenes fairly well. Typically I mail out a global turn to our main mailing list, with occasional side notes to individuals as needed. When the party splits up, the main turn gets boiled down to a summary of time and locale, and each sub-group gets a tailored message. In this case, some of the sub-groups were one character.

When I write stuff like this, I find it easiest to write all the viewpoints in parallel so I can maintain a common timeline. In a longer duration split this becomes less feasible under some circumstances. Sometimes you have to put characters "on hold" when paths recross. In this case things came together after just a couple turns. What follows is the interleaved turns with the individual POVs indicated. There's some overlap as the group moves and changes composition.

When we left the party, they'd just been attacked by reptilian creatures who used javelins and two-handed axes in battle. At Durego's direction, several party members had retreated, er... advanced to the rear, to either flank or establish a better position to fight from.

Round Five [foe initiative] Main group at the front

The two trogs in front press the attack with their axes, hoping to make room for their ally to advance and join the fray. The creature attacking Raúguey misses, but Mordikarr is struck by an other full-out blow. The wild man falls! [10 Damage, max damage twice? Inconceivable!] This opens space on the front, which the creatures will be able to take advantage of next round. If only there were someone available to fill the gap!

Dagmarten drops his sling, grabs his staff, leaps the pit, and engages Mordikarr's foe.

Locky fires another sling-stone at Raúguey's wounded foe, but misses, his aim off to avoid hitting Dagmarten. "Curses!" he cries, then blinks in surprise as the secret door east of the pit opens and Durego sticks his head out. "Durego! Do something! Mordikarr is down!" he calls.

At the front, Ingvild, Raúguey, and the newly arrived Dagmarten attack the two foes in front of them. Ingvild manages to score a strong slashing blow against Raúguey's foe! [6 Damage]

Round Five [?? initiative] Maro, Durego, Rawon, Ohwatoo

Maro flings the door wide, and runs through, Durego following at a more measured pace. Rawon checks the tracks outside the door, realizes the whole place is scuffed and marked, and decides trying to cover trail is futile. He gestures to Ohwatoo, who steps inside the door and stops at the side of the narrow corridor. "I'll watch here. Go!" says the mage. Rawon goes, taking another nip from his flask as he does. Ohwatoo pushes the door nearly closed and presses an eye to the crack remaining. "Please don't chase us. Please don't chase us," he mutters to himself.

Meanwhile, Maro has followed the passage north, Durego west. Both reach the end, both open the secret doors. Durego peers out just as Dagmarten leaps the pit and rushes into the fray. [only Durego saw this last line]

Round Five [?? initiative] Maro

Maro swings the door open and sees a stretch of corridor running E-W. "Hurry Rawon!" he calls over his shoulder as he runs into the corridor, turns west, and... finds himself walking on air! Only his elven reflexes save him from a nasty fall! He tries to hang from the edge he managed to snag, but his fingers slip, and he falls into the depths! [4 Damage]

Round Five [?? initiative] Maro

Rawon reaches the intersection of the secret tunnel just in time to see Maro disappear out the narrow door and turn west. He trots up the hall, bow ready, his sharp elven hearing catches a muffled *thud* followed by a cry of pain from Maro! He runs out the door, ready to fire, so he's completely unprepared for the lack of floor in the hall! He falls hard, but lands on something that gives a bit [2 Damage]. "Get off me!" cries Maro.

"Sorry," mutters Rawon, blinking as his eyes adjust to the darkness. He helps his companion to his feet.

"Well that's not good," says Maro, looking up at the illusionary floor, 20 feet overhead.

[Round Six] Foe initiative, Front group plus Durego

Durego begins casting a spell!

Dagmarten's arrival plugs the gap left by Mordikarr's fall, but it also opens the cleric to attack. The two front rank creatures, the third still unable to close, both swing, one at Dagmarten, the other turning its attention to Ingvild. Both blows strike home. [3 and 9 damage to Ingvild, Dagmarten]. Dagmarten collapses, bleeding!

"Dag!" cries Ingvild, as Locky's sling-stone whizzes past his head and strikes the creature that just felled the cleric, whack dead! [3 Damage].

Durego's spell goes off, aimed at the only creatures visible from the narrow secret door. Raúguey's foe and the unengaged creature freeze in place. Ingvild guts the nearest foe, Raúguey leaps past the falling creature and decapitates the third.

[Round Six] Ohwatoo

Ohwatoo listens to the sounds of combat in the distance, which grow louder as Durego opens the secret door, or so the mage hopes, the bends in the corridor prevent sight. There's a cry, Ingvild? and then it gets quiet. Too quiet.

[Round Six] Maro, Rawon

"Well that went well," mutters Maro, eyeing the sheer walls. "Get out the grappling hook and let's get out of here."

"I thought you had the grappling hook."

"I... I had the grappling hook. We left it with the supplies, and then got it before we came through the Spire. I guess I never repacked it." He looks up, "Maybe one of the others has it?"

"Get some rope. We can try to tie it to the pole and get that caught in the doorway."

As the two elves work they listen as the sounds of battle fade, then stop, punctuated by a cry from Ingvild.

[Round Seven] party initiative, Front group

With the foes down, Ingvild kneels next to his brother, pulls a golden vial from his pouch, and pours a measured dose down the pale and still cleric's throat. The effect is immediate. Dagmarten coughs, then blinks and sits up. [7 healed].

Raúguey takes a few paces down the W corridor, in case more foes arrive. He hears a distant cry, meaningless sounds to his ears, and swiftly retreating footsteps. With no immediate threat visible he steels himself against the stench, kneels next to the nearest corpse, and cuts free the crude leather pouch it wears.

Locky leaps the pit and moves forward with his sling ready. He peers around the corner, sees what Raúguey is doing, and says, "Do you think that's wise?"

The big guy shrugs, so Locky follows his lead, cutting free a second pouch.

Meanwhile, Durego looks back down the hall but sees no one behind him. He probes the floor in front of the secret door, finds the edges of the pit, and steps out into the main hall once again.

[Round Six] Maro, Rawon

Maro and Rawon take turns throwing the pole and rope contraption at the doorway, trying to get it jammed in the opening. Rawon succeeds on his first throw, and whispers, "I'm lighter, I'll try it first. Stand back." He starts to climb the rope, and gets oh so close to the rim of the pit before the pole slides free of the door, dumping him unceremoniously on the floor!

[Round Six] Ohwatoo

Near the stairs, Ohwatoo strains to hear what is happening up front. There are no sounds of combat, but he does here a strange clattering sound and faint murmurs or whispers echoing down the secret tunnel.

[Locky, Raúguey, Mordikarr, Durego, Ohwatoo]

With Locky watching the west hall, The grumbling, irate Raúguey searches the third body, and then grabs a light stone and checks out the pit (with a glare in Durego's direction). Meanwhile Dagmarten prays over the unconscious Mordikarr, as Suren nuzzles his face. Ingvild moves north, pausing at the door to listen, then peering around the corner. Durego steps carefully around the pit's edge, and moves to assist Dagmarten, using his last cure spell as well. [Mordikarr healed for 6 total, now conscious]

With a light source, Raúguey can see the pit is about 20 feet deep, with sheer stone walls. He sticks his head through the floor illusion a few times, "Floor goes up, floor goes down. Floor goes up, floor goes down." Then springs to his feet and joins the nervous Locky watching the west passage, which has fallen silent.

Suddenly you hear Ohwatoo calling from the secret door in a hoarse whisper, "Guys? Is that you?"

"It's safe, come on out," says Locky. "Mind the pit."

Ingvild returns from his reconnoiter. "All quiet behind the door. The passage turns east and I think I see another secret door hanging open about 30 feet down, but no sign of Maro or Rawon. I did hear something though, a clattering sound, and a flash of motion, something small and quick."

Ohwatoo joins the group, "I just traversed the passage. The north door was open, but I didn't see the elves. I closed the door by the stairs. Where do you think they went?"

"Captured maybe?" asks Durego. "I got a bad feeling about this."

"Well we need to find them, and stop standing around in the hall. Whatever it was that ran away might be getting help!" says Locky.

"Let's get back into the secret tunnel. At least we can hide there," suggests Durego.

Mordikarr finally gets to his feet, "Lizard things smell *bad*. We should go away from here."

Rawon, Maro

Rawon and Maro continue to toss the roped-up pole up and out of the pit, but it's pretty darn hard to get a six-foot pole twenty feet up, through a door you can't see, and then twist it sideways in the doorway above. "This is frustrating," mutters Maro after the fourth or fifth throw.

"I agree," says Rawon, snipping a bit of brandy. He offers the flask to Maro. "It's too high to jump and reach the edge though, and I don't have any magical jumping boots. You're the smart one, any ideas?"

Back to global this turn, since the meetup happens fairly quickly

"Hurry up with that kettle Mordikarr. We need to find the others." The halfling glares at Durego, "How could you lose two elves?"

"I told you we should have fallen back," grumbles Durego. "We'd all be safe if everyone had listened."

"Enough!" hisses Ingvild. "You want to bring the rest of those creatures down on us? Let's get moving!" The thief takes position at the north corner, waiting for Locky and Durego to lead the way. At the rear of the group, Mordikarr, Raúguey, and Dagmarten share a dose of broth, then Mordikarr stows the kettle, ignoring Durego's outstretched hand. [2, 1, 1 healing respectively].

Durego finally takes position with Locky, and the group heads north and east. They move forward veeery slooowly, making as little noise as possible, with Mordikarr keeping a sharp eye out to the rear. Locky holds up a warning sword/hand, and as the group comes to a stop those in front notice a glint of metal, followed by the faint *ting-chink* of metal on stone. "What was that?" whispers Durego nervously, clutching his mace.

In the sudden quiet there's faint noise of something moving, and the creak of metal armor, then a faint voice says, "Durego?"

"Rawon?" Locky takes a few steps forward.

"Watch out!" calls Maro, "we found another pit!"

Acting swiftly, Ingvild pulls a hank of rope out of his pack, and tosses it forward, holding on to one end. The loops uncoil and then disappear into the floor, "Raúguey, give me a hand." Together the two men hold the rope while the elves climb out of the hole, sheepish expression on their faces.

"Finally, all back together," says Ohwatoo. "Now let's get out of here."

The new pit fills the hall and makes getting to the secret door nigh impossible. Reinforced by the two elves, who are both a bit battered from their fall, the group reverses course and ducks back into the secret passage, pulling the door closed behind them. Locky runs up the north branch and closes that secret door as well.

"At least we're hidden if the creatures don't know about this tunnel," mutters Durego.

"We don't have any guarantee of that," says Maro. "What's the plan? Rawon and I are both a bit battered, can we use the kettle?"

Dagmarten shakes his head. "Already used. Those of us that were actually fighting were more than a bit battered. Now we're sorely wounded, out of spells, and there may be more of those things out there. I wouldn't count on staying hidden for long if they return in force."

Rawon takes a sip from his flask, and then gets a curious look on his face. "What *is* that smell?"

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