Friday, February 11, 2022

Holgard Campaign Session 5 - In the Underland Ghetto


Session 5 (6/06/21)

The other characters (Milton North, Merlon, Maethedir, Sixtus Sunwalker & Betanochin Wormington) are not returning from last sessions quest until tomorrow, Day 73 (7/06/21), so everyone is playing new characters. Evil ones! This session was wrong on so many levels. Absolute contrast to the previous games. This report is a fever dream, and words fail to do it justice (not that it deserves any).

The roster for this week (everyone had ridiculous stats)

Bale Tyrannus - Male - Half-Orc - Fighter 1 - Chaotic Evil - (Bale = mud in orcish, Tyrannus is the first knight he killed at age 11) - Absolutely yolked half orc fighter (11 HP and exceptional strength!) with scars all over. Balding head, pig nose, ugly as, but a giant. His mothers village was raided by orcs and he was the result of a forced pairing. The orcs came again a few years later, and his father (the warchief) saw him kill a full orc and realised he was orc enough to go with them. Bale's mother didn't want this, so she was killed and Bale learned that love was dangerous. 16 years old. Has a morning star, pretty rough - home job.

Rudolph von Schliefen - Male - Human - Assassin - Lawful Evil - A north-eastener who took up a family orcish slave trade in his faraway homeland of Grimold. Lost his riches and father in an orcish uproar, fled to Argond and is seeking to recuperate his losses. Not affiliated with Underland Assassin's Guild. Brought his son, the 3 intelligence Wujak, a half orc he sired himself. Slick backed hair and a whispy black moustache.

Domnal Brosnachain - Male - Gnome - Illusionist - Neutral Evil - Feeble 3' Gnome with loose fitting clothes. Weasly face, oily black hair, moustche and goaty. Exiled from gnomish village for torturing woodland animals as a child with his illusory magics. Gollum-like.

Wujak the Gentle - Male - Half-Orc - Fighter 1 - Chaotic Evil - Son/slave of Rudolph. Wears only a loin cloth, dark green skin, one lonesome dread going down his spine. 14 years old and 6'5". Wields a two handed sword.

Hurigash the Horrid - Female - Half-Orc - Fighter 1 - Chaotic Evil - Also known as 'What the (blank)', this is an extremely ugly result of a forced orc-human pairing. Square head, right arm clearly longer than left, pig nose, full body disgusting and uncared for mess of brown hair. 14 years old.

Blackhand - Female - Halfling - Thief 1 - Chaotic Evil - Little halfling thief with dark hair and clothes.

This is so wrong.

The players start in The Shank in the Sage, a derelict and raunchy tavern full of filth, disease-ridden trollops, and shady folk. It's located in the ghetto of Underland, more of a reservation that is in total chaos, nobody really knows how it can exist in the city which is normally quite respectable. The players look around and see some of the local Ghettolians - a domineering and imposing man, stocky, but medium height, with a shaggy black hair, dark grey blazer, and collars up, sitting alone with his back to the wall, drinking expensive wine from a fine goblet. There is also a salvador-dali lookalike with strong french accent and cloak of cockroach wings selling clothes for cockroaches to a guy, and an orcish woman covered in filthy but colourful clothes painting a canvas with what appears to be a pallet of faeces, mud, and other fluids.

Hurigash comes up behind the cockroach dude and tries to take his money - surprise is rolled, and it seems she has the advantage, but he notices! Immediately he stabs her with a swiftly brought out dagger, then the two square off - Hurigash steps back and throws her dagger, it misses and he throws his! Square in the eyes, and Hurigash drops, the first death in 5 sessions within 10 minutes of starting. This man goes 'And that is why you do not mess with Alatola Bonazi! I spit, I fart! In your general direction!" (strong french accent).

Blackhand loots the body while Bale approaches the imposing man. He asks him what he's doing with that expensive wine, and the man goes into a monologue about fluids, what comes out of men, orcs, lizards. I think it got sexual too but anyway, somehow a job offer comes up, but Bale feels like working for this guy is beneath him, wants to take what is his by force. This leads to blows - Bale swings his morning star into this guys head. His flesh peels away and scales are revealed - he stands up, growing in height and peeling off his human guise, an 8' tall lizard man, looking alpha as, how Cell in DBZ does, but a lizard, and proclaims he is the lizard king.

Bale regrets his decision.

What ensues is Bale's morning star bouncing off the King's scales, while deftly dodging two deadly trident strikes. Wujak tried to sneak up to the table and take the Lizard King's drink, but he just got annhilated by the otherwordly trident and died! Bale backs off, and says he'll take the job. The Lizard King accepts this - the interview was a success. The other living characters overhear this and come over, offering their services, and the King breaks into a monologue, saying he needs them to go to the sewers and break open the grate into the Rotfen Mire to the north, and that there are reasons he cannot do it himself.

During all this, NOBODY in the tavern bats an eyelid.

The party leaves, entering the filthy and derelict ghetto atmosphere. Prior to this, Bale stole the black cloak from a goth incel with black eyeliner, and the two handed sword next to Wujak's corpse. He couldn't afford one at creation, and needed a disguise. As they leave the ghetto gates, the one of the guards, a haggard old veteran, demands where they are going, and tells them to get back in their pen. Bale threatens the man by mentioning his wife, and he almost backs down, but his sidekick Jimmy shows some fear, saying they should let them go. Sarge is fired up now. He squares up and spits at Bale, telling the pigs to get back in or he will make them. Bale won't back down - they eye each other off. The sarge goes "To the mudpit then?" both agree, and they go off back to the Shank in the Sage - but Jimmy is running off to get backup! Rudolph and Domnal are not having it. They try to shank and throw darts, but he deftly dodges and is screaming down the city streets! Sarge sees what happened, and pulls out his 'beat-stick' and shield. Bale swings for his head, but the tough old veteran blocks it. Blackhand sneaks up and backstabs him, but he holds in, now facing two opponents. Domnal castes Phantsmal Force on Jimmy, who is just in range of its AoE, and causes axes to hail upon him. He doesn't know it's an illusion and cops an axe in the back, but keeps going, screaming in pain and crying. This round was simultaneous initiative and as I frantically consulted weapon speeds, lengths, missile fire rates, the end result was Rudolph charging but to no avail, the sarge killing the halfling in one hit, and Bale decapitating the Sargeant shortly after. I messed up with the halfling and by mistake went back on a previous statement I just made about withdrawing from combat, with 2 other guys around him, but anyway!

Bale loots his gold pouch, and the party shoots back to the tavern, trying to hide - guards are coming down the street! The Lizard King is nowhere, and Domnal runs up to Alatola Bonazi, who is annoyed at having to flee, and begs him to hide him, offering 50GP. Without skipping a beat, Alatola scoops up the gnome and throws him over his shoulder, "Of course my little friend! Give me the money, let us go!" before swaggering out, climbing over things, crawling under stuff, throwing the gnome into a tunnel and crawling after him, before long they end up underground. Domnal has no idea where he is. Alatola blindfolds him and they continue, and start to hear chittering, mandible scraping, cicada type noises. Alatola comes to a stop and starts making similar noises, and a conversation almost ensues, and a huge grating is heard like a door opening. Eventually the gnome has to get knocked out "out of necessity" and he awakes later...

Meanwhile, Bale throws his cloak and two handed sword back at Wujak's body, one of the arms of which was partially eaten by the Lizard King. Rudolph and Bale both leave the tavern and try to hide, guardsmen are scouting the premises. Rudolph finds a tall gangly urchin in an ally and kills him, taking his ragged clothes for disguise, and cutting his moustache. Then he hides in some rubble and is mistaken for a corpse, left alone.

Bale gets caught by some guards, but doesn't give them any trouble and is brought to the Ghetto Plaza, where all the Ghettolians are rounded up and on their knees, there's about 40 guards surrounding them. Some patrols find a freshly killed body of an urchin, and Jimmy is saying they aren't all there, that "a gnome and strange moustached man are missing. The half orc and hobbit somehow died". Another search goes out. Rudolph overhears some guards talking about how 'this filth' should be put down, and that their taxes ought to fund something else. One of the guards speaks against this, and an argument breaks out, but amounts to nothing. Later, that same supremacist guard, with an accomplice, finds Rudolph! He begins speaking in the North-Eastern tongue, pretending to be frail, and a grim glimmer shines in the guards' eyes. "He's one of them Norvener's. We can fetch good coin for 'im, let's tie 'im up and leave 'im 'ere." This resuls in the first use of the grappling rules as Rudolph tries to flee, hoping for some more just guards so he can at least be guaranteed a trial. One of them waist clinches him, and the other gets an arm lock. Somehow, Rudolph's chad build and 18 strength see him put put the arm-lock guard in a finger lock, busting his fingers and knocking him out through pain, and then elbowing the waist-clincher in the head, before securing an armlock and dislocating his shoulder. Now two guards are passed out in agony, and Rudolph hides on a tall roof, pulling rubbish over him and waiting out the storm.

Back underground, Domnal wakes up, and his predator-vision is going off - heat signatures EVERYWHERE around him, massive ones, little ones. The room is just chittering, antennae touching him. Alatola speaks "They know you are awake my friend..." and eventually Alatola says there is a way out, but it is going to be very dangerous, painful, uncomfortable, and violating - if he even moves or makes a sound, it could mean his demise. Domnal is forced to strip down to nothing, all his belongings left behind, but he will not leave the spellbook, and so his 3' naked frame clasps it while huge mandibles wrap around and pierce his skin, and a thick grime coats his body, entering his ears, eyes, nose, and other orifices. He drifts off into a psychedelic nightmare and wakes up on the surface of Underland, near a sewer entrance in the middle of the city, with only his spellbook, his life, and a thick layer of grime on him.

At the encampment, the Guard-Captain arrives, and is disgusted by the guards treatment of the Ghettolians. He says all the inhabitants are welcome to the royal bathhouse and then may return home. After an exchange with the extremely guarded Bale, who the guards admit didn't cause any trouble, he lets him go freely.

That night, The Shank in the Sage had free swill for the inhabitants. The Lizard King came, monologuing as usual about the entertainment he witnessed 'from below', of human scrambling and turmoil. Later, Alatola Bonazi came in, complaining about the heat being after a man with strange moustache, and that he had not fostered a great reputation for such accusation. Scared for his life, Rudolph huddles behind Bale and sleeps beside him in the mudit out back. The half orc artist is snoring with her canvas half in the mud. During the night, two feral humanoid creatures come snarling in looking for a meal, and they are keen on Rudolph, the man, since the sleep-pile of half orc kids is too disgusting. Bale tells them that isn't happening, and they will have an easy meal in one of the shacks outside. They back off, and later screaming and rending of flesh is heard as these things feast further away. Rudolph did not sleep a wink, and in the morning, the two were awoken with the innkeeper throwing fresh slop, faeces, etc. into the pit to moisten it up, saying he had clients later and needed them out. Bale is stoked.

Domnal spent the night sleeping on the streets, with some rags he scrounged up. Some drunkards came by and joked with him, feeling sympathy and offering some shelter, but he was sketchy as and looked weird in the torchlight, so they decided to leave him and agreed to 'pretend that never happened'.

The next day, Sixtus Sunwalker, Maethedir, Milton North, Merlon, and Betanochin Wormington returned to Underland, after their quest for Barbanikos...

This session reminded me of Jack Vance's Cugel stories. Utterly depraved characters doing whatever they can to rise up, but it all backfires and they come off the same or worse off, with nothing to show for their deeds.

Bale got XP from the night time mud pit encounter - Rudolph got NONE of this because he was a coward ready to flee.
Bale - 366XP
Rudolph 41XP
Domnal 11XP

Character Role & Alignment Performance Ratings
So 3 characters died and the players just went and did other stuff. NOTHING got done this session. Everyone was so evil and messed up.

Bale - (E)xcellent. Never backed away from a challenge, his pride dominated. He acted within his own interests, adhering to the motto "The weak should fear the strong".

Rudolph - Beyond (E)xcellent. He was so utterly depraved, selfish, and cowardly. If someone could be exploited for his own gain or safety, he did so without hesitation. Just brilliantly played.

Domnal (E)xcellent. An extremely disgusting creature, only seeking to cause harm to other things. Neutral Evil really is evil for the sake of it, and Domnal did that excellently. He used his 1 spell of the day creatively, with his cruel methods in mind.

Hurigash the Horrible - Killed by a dagger between the eyes by Alatola Bonazi
Wujak the Gentle - Killed by the Lizard King's trident
Blackhand - Smacked down by an old veteran's morning star

No comments:

Post a Comment