A break down of the major happenings in the tenth episode of the Keep on the Borderlands play-through, with timestamps.
Character Recap Edit
Dave’s PCs: The Shadow (Thief), Rolph the Younger - (Cleric)
Hilary’s PCs: Thistle Turnipsworth (Halfling), Cloud (Fighter)
John’s PCs: Hawthorne (Elf), Chunk Flunkins (Dwarf)
Deep in the Forest - Werepuma, Pumawere & the Love that dare not speak its name Edit
- 0’19” Thinking back to his misspent youth, Po-Shawn enviously remembers tales of powerful sorcerers and witches able to assume the forms of great beasts, and declares with absolute certainty that the Mountain Lion snarling at our ham-handed hunters is, in fact, the wizard they have journeyed through the forest to meet. With his red robes billowing behind him as he strides over to the fallen tree, Po-Shawn confidently addresses the Puma, “We have travelled far to find you.”
- 0’22” Po-Shawn hears a snickering from the nearby underbrush, and turns to see a wizened, unkempt old man, hiding in a bush, and barely containing his amusement at the sight of a proud stranger conversing with a Mountain Lion. At that precise moment, the Puma pounces on Po-Shawn.
- 0’24” PC DEATH: With a beatific expression still on his face, Po-Shawn is rent apart by the Puma. (Andrew’s PC)
At the Hermitage - “I don’t remember, I’m a baby!” Edit
- 0’24” Chuckling, and petting his Mountain Lion absently, The Hermit invites the party to join him. “She’s going to be at it a while, might as well come down here.”
- 0’29” Ever boisterous, Chunk Flunkins greets the hirsute wild-man. The Hermit, lonely and addled after many years of solitude finds the notion of other people inconceivable, and convinced that he is continuing an imaginary conversation with figments of his own imagination, agrees to identify the spiked skull-headed mace our dime-store doppelgangers have brought him to examine.
- 0’32” Grasping the gruesome looking implement, The Hermit launches into a fevered tirade against the sneaky Koboloid dog-faced lizards ‘everywhere’, demolishing a nearby sapling in the process. Exhausted, and with his ire spent, he stops, calmly announcing “I could use a drink. Would we like to go inside?”
- 0’33”-0’39” Thistle Turnipsworth takes her cue, answering in the affirmative and proffering her wineskin. Momentarily struck by horrific memories of his childhood, The Hermit strains to scoop the fully-grown Halfling up and cradle her in his arms, “What a delightful little babe I was, and oh look, the plated armour my mother gave me. And yes! I remember, I loved wine as a child,” he reminisces before taking himself inside. Our scurvy scrappers for the most part, follow him, with only Nymeth and moon-eyed Hawthorne staying outside to keep watch.
- 0’39”-0’49” Once inside, The Hermit pours himself a goblet-full of dark liquor. Chunk Flunkins, Thistle Turnipsworth, and The Shadow continue to bamboozle the man and endure a rambling pluralogue and solipsistic Cotardian reminiscences, to learn that the skull-headed mace is likely just that, a non-magical mace of Orcish design, and that the recluse is not a Wizard, but a Thief exiled from The Keep on the Borderlands after being caught trying to steal The Castellan’s coin purse. Furthermore, they learn that the man’s crime, had it been successful, would have served as part of an initiation requirement for joining the black-robed Chaos Cult whose membership subsequently left the Keep to take up residence somewhere in the nearby hills.
- 0’50” Eying The Hermit’s (gleaming silver, set with blue opal) magic ring covetously, Cloud tries to convince the recluse that it might be their time to wear the ring for a while, as they “haven’t been feeling well of late.” In response, The Hermit draws himself up to his full height, staring at Cloud with wild eyes, he says “That’s the way of the wild, you see. Cut off the things that are dying, separate the weak from the herd” and unsheathes a long dirk from his belt.
- 0’52” Aghast, The Hermit looks down to see the point of The Shadow’s sword burst through his chest, and swings his own knife around wildly, desperate to kill his betrayers.
- 0’52” Drawing a long sword in confined quarters is a DEX check, no bonus by default. (DM Ruling)
- 0’56” Cloud delivers their riposte, cutting short The Hermit’s mortal coil. “That’s right, you have to separate the weak from the herd.”
- 0’57” Outside the hovel, hearing her master’s dying cry of pain, the Puma growls, and crouches down, ready to leap at Nymeth and Hawthorne.
- 0’59” Nymeth nods stoically and fires his bow at the blur of tawny fur hurtling towards him, but the arrow goes wide.
- 1’00” PC DEATH: Hawthorne has her reverie broken by the Puma’s claws, and she dies as she lived, staring at Nymeth. (John’s PC)
- 1’02” “Outside, now! The cat.” shouts Nymeth, uncharacteristically flustered. “Liquorice!” curses Thistle Turnipsworth, as she rushes to join the combat.
- 1’02”-1’14” Cloud swiftly loots the dead man’s possessions, stashing both the dirk (equivalent to a Dagger +1) and the ring. (Ring of Protection, improves Saving Throws and AC by 1.)
- 1’18” Chunk Flunkins puts another crossbow bolt into the Puma’s back, killing it before it can tear Nymeth and Rolph the Younger apart.
After first break - “You sound like my grandma.” Edit
- 1’26”-1’28” Our proud protagonists thoroughly search through the crude furs and leaves of The Hermit’s home, but turn up little of value, barring a small wooden chest. The Shadow attempts to pick its lock, but the mechanism defies him. (+20% for a simple lock)
- 1’33” Thistle Turnipsworth gets to work skinning the carcass of the Mountain Lion. Its hide is worth 20 GP.
- 1’33” Skinning an animal requires a DEX check, the degree of success or failure reflecting the sale price of the hide. (DM Ruling)
- 1’37”-1’43” Not-Lost Lenore and our estimable explorers start their long journey South, back towards The Keep on The Borderlands. After two days of hard travel through heavy undergrowth, they leave the Forest, and settle down to camp for the night in the sparsely wooded rough hills just to the North of of the Keep. That night, while Chunk Flunkins is on watch, he spots a strange reflection just outside the edge of the firelight. Confident that the reflection wasn’t there a moment ago, Chunk stifles his characteristic bellow of laughter, and immediately wakes Nymeth, who’s on his feet with bow in hand in a heartbeat. Nymeth motions for silence, as his acute Elven ears detect the almost imperceptible sound of rapid, padding footsteps approaching from three directions. “We’re surrounded”, he whispers as the rest of the party prepare to defend themselves.
- 1’44” Feeling a little nervous, Thistle Turnipsworth calls out into the darkness, but gets no response.
- 1’46” The Shadow hides his apprehension with busywork, hastily scattering handfuls of caltrops around the camp’s perimeter. Meanwhile Nymeth calmly prepares and fires a flaming arrow into the distance. As it flies, the arrow’s dim glow momentarily illuminates a pale-blue and orange mottled Giant Lizard crouched atop a boulder to the North East. There is a hungry hissing sound, as the two other Geckos rush the camp, their bulbous eyes reflective in the firelight.
- 1’51” PC DEATH: Cloud barely has time to raise their sword, before the teeth of a Giant Lizard crush down on their sword arm, severing it completely. (Hilary’s PC)
- 1’53” Nymeth once again hums the eerie Elven lullaby, and all three Geckos collapse on to the ground, Sleeping soundly. Our gallant gang make quick work of avenging Cloud’s death, eagerly slaughtering the slumbering Lizards.
- 2’02” In the aftermath of the attack, Thistle Turnipsworth and The Shadow skin all three of the Giant Lizards. While they’re engaged in the butchery, Not-Lost Lenore comments that judging from the animals sizes, they appear to be a mother and her young. She explains that this makes it likely there is a nest nearby, where our listless lootseekers might scavenge from amongst bodies and bones any inedible treasures carried by the Geckos’ prey. Tired and fearful of encountering any more nocturnal predators, the party decide to rest until sun-up, and track the Geckos’ footprints to their lair in the morning.
After second break - Violation of Pet Ownership Ordinances Edit
- 2’18” Not-Lost Lenore leads the party, as they follow the adult Gecko’s tracks through the brush for several hours, until finally they come to a rocky crevasse. From their vantage point high above, Lenore points out the Geckos’ lair deep in the crevasse, now empty barring the large whitish Gecko eggs and a pile of discarded Goblinoid corpses.
- 2’21” Nymeth, The Shadow and Not-Lost Lenore, keep watch while the other party members climb down the rocky walls to investigate the lair. Searching the nest thoroughly Thistle Turnipsworth turns up only two unhatched Gecko eggs, finding nothing of saleable value among the chewed Goblin remains. Thistle prepares one of the fragile eggs for carrying, using her magic rope, before she and our other potent potholers clamber up to rejoin the rest at the top of the fissure.
At the Keep - Starting equipment: Cheese Dip Edit
- 2’24” With no further delays befalling them, our adventive adventurers make good time, and return once more to the local bastion of civilisation, better known as: The Keep upon the Borderlands.
- 2’27” Chunk Flunkins decides to stay at The Keep a while, to enjoy its relative safety (or, at least, ascertain the quality of its drinking establishments).
- 2’30”-2’40” Outside The Travellers Inn, our heroes lead astray a shifty-eyed mendicant priest called Glasap Icli, and befriend the great Liftomancer Bluebigail, once famed throughout the land; but now very much down on her luck and forced to resort to adventuring.
NEW Characters Edit
Andrew’s PC:Liftomancer Bluebigail (Magic-User)
Hilary’s PC:Glasap Icli (Cleric)
- 2’45” The Shadow, completely ignoring Smirking Carlos’ critical leer, visits The Blacksmith, to get help opening both of the treasure chests whose mechanisms had proven irksome; but even with the metalworker’s assistance, both strongboxes refuse to disgorge, to him, their secrets.
- 2’45” Paying The Blacksmith 20 GP to aid them, allows a thief an additional chance (per level) of opening a locked chest. (DM Ruling)
- 2’48” Spending a little time carousing in the tavern, our crestfallen crew discover that word has spread about their retainers’ mortality rate, and no amount of money can convince any of the poor-spirited mercenaries present to join up for their next excursion.
- 2’57” Our heroes time in the tavern is not all ill-spent however, as between them they collect several curious pieces of gossip from other patrons perhaps a little deeper in their cups than they. The party learn that: “All of the entrances to The Caves of Chaos are trapped with deadly traps”, “there is an area of The Caves in which it is easy to become lost, which is stalked by an eater-of-men”, and “the lower Caves are full of hordes of tiny dog men.” Always in favour of avoiding needless incarceration, The Shadow puts a hand on Rolph the Younger’s trembling shoulder, and suggests that it might be time to leave. (Rumour table results 6, 7 & 13 respectively)
Back on the Road - New Quest: Find a Dragon Edit
- 3’00”-3’04” On the first day’s travel, as our wayward wanderers march along the now familiar route towards Campfire Hill, Nymeth hears a rodent-like snuffing and scraping sounds coming from the nearby underbrush to the North. The Shadow and Nymeth discuss preparing an ambush; but world-weary Glasap Icli impudently chides them until they abandon such foolish notions, and agree to press on to reach their regular camp-site before darkness falls.
- 3’05” The next day, as our gallant gang approach the Caves of Chaos, they hear a sound that sends shivers down their spines, the pained cries of a Human being suffering torture.
- 3’07” With nary a whisper, The Shadow traipses into the undergrowth to scout ahead. As he approaches from the South, he sees a group of six cloaked figures gathered in a circle around a great wooden wheel, upon which, bound to an inverted star, lies a naked man, pierced with many knives. The six Cvltists stand chanting before a dark altar decorated with sheep guts, and thick black tallow candles. Just as The Shadow is about to retreat, one of the Cvltists looks up, and noticing our rowdy rogue draws a curved ritual dagger: “An outsider! We cannot let him interrupt the ritual!”
- 3’07” Light undergrowth, and background noise, such as the sound of a man being tortured, provide a 20% bonus to a thief’s chances to both Hide in Shadows, and Move Silently. (DM Ruling)
- 3’09” The Shadow, envisioning impending capture, shouts a warning to his comrades, and fires a Parthian shot as he retreats. His arrow flies true, but fails to draw blood from its target, indicating that under their dark robes these Cvltists are heavily armoured.
After third break - A Gristle-y altar Edit
- 3’18”-3’24” Fleet of foot, The Shadow easily outpaces his encumbered pursuers, and runs back to join his colleagues, and advises them on the details of his encounter with the Cvltists. As the party frantically discuss how best to deal with the problem, the sounds of torture, and pleas for leniency intensify.
- 3’26”-3’30” Our other chancy champions rush to position themselves for ranged combat with their foes. But seeing the Cvltists draw crossbows and aim them in her direction, Thistle Turnipsworth’s self-preservation instinct takes over; she vanishes into the cover of a nearby thicket, as a bolt whistles past her.
- 3’31” After surviving the opening volley of inbound crossbow bolts, The Shadow remembers discretion to be the better part of valour, turns tail and flees. He is joined in his escape moments later by Liftomancer Bluebigail, Glasap Icli and the rest of the party.
- 3’33” As the lesser Cvultists mutter and look disappointedly in the direction of our heroes flight, the High Acolyte asserts lasciviously, “wait a moment, what’s this?”, and turns his head, causing the grim sockets of his skull-shaped mask to glare directly at the spot where Thistle Turnipsworth is hiding in the underbrush.
- 3’34” Frozen in panic, Thistle Turnipsworth instinctively does what Halflings in tight spots have done since time immemorial: she slips the magic ring onto her finger. Sadly, she doesn’t disappear. Instead the High Acolyte goes to grab her. But emboldened by the ring she slips his grasp, and pops out of the bushes. “We missed one!” comes the cry from the other Acolytes, as they raise their crossbows.
- 3’35” Grabbing an opponent in combat is an opposed STR vs DEX check, whoever succeeds with the greater margin wins. (DM Ruling)
- 3’36” Thistle Turnipsworth runs away at full speed, four crossbow bolts fly past her, but the fifth grazes her neck. Terrified, and bleeding our half-sized hero staggers into the darkness of the goblin cave (marked ‘D’), to make good her escape.
- 3’38”-3’42” Back on the road, having reached a place of relative safety some time later, The Shadow looks at his companions, and realises Thistle Turnipsworth isn’t amongst them. There is some debate over whether Thistle still lives, how to best avoid being slain by Cvltists, the quantity of treasure actually remaining within The Caves of Chaos, and whether perhaps it isn’t time to return to civilisation, retire from adventuring completely, and realise their life-long dreams of owning their own bar. Before anyone has time to hang up their armour however, brave Rolph the Younger declares that the group better wait until the Cvultists are done with their ritual, before proceeding to determine Thistle’s fate, and Nymeth agrees, suggesting that everyone for the moment take shelter in the woods. So with the plan settled, our plucksome pillagers take refuge in amongst the trees, and settle down to wait on the loamy forest floor.
- 3’42” Eventually, emboldened by the surety of his comrades, The Shadow decides to crawl, low to the ground through the forest ‘till he can find a vantage point, from which to spy upon the Cvultists.
- 3’43” The Shadow watches late into the night, as the ritual continues.The Cvltists skin their prisoner alive and light their dark altar on fire; but sure enough many hours later, ritual is done, and the flames gutter out. As the other Cvultists move to leave, The High Acolyte throws his arms aloft, and addressing the Caves in a thunderous voice, he says “Let this be a reminder to all of you who is the true master of these Caves. All hail the gods of Chaos!” And in answer, echoing from each of the caves come shouts of rage and excitement.
- 3’45” The Shadow, hearing this thinks back to his sheltered, noble born childhood, and starts to question the merit of his chosen allegiance.