A break down of the major happenings in the eighth 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)
At the Keep - Mismatched Badasses & Foul Weather Edit
- 0’08” Scroll Counter: In 10 days time Yorick the Curate will have completed transcribing the Hold Person spell to a scroll for our prayerful provocateurs.
- 0’26” Wretched weather delays the party, and they choose to shelter overnight at The Keep. As the howling winds and dolorous sleet bewail the landscape, sharp, Elven-ears make out the distant sounds of rage-filled drumming, and the funereal cries of Orc tribes lamenting their dead and praying to their dark gods. The next morning brings clear weather and our heroes depart The Keep, but the mood remains forlorn; even Carlos’ characteristic smirk seems to have lost its lustre.
Morning on the Road - Kurt Russell in "Escape From Adventurer Nook" Edit
- 0’28”-0’33” After a day’s trudge along the muddy road, the party stop to rest at Campfire Hill. As dawn breaks our discordant daredevils gather up their belongings and prepare for the journey ahead. Hawthorne goes to put her boot on, but a sudden loud hiss startles her and she throws the boot aside just in time to avoid being bitten by the large Snake that had taken shelter inside it. The Cobra rears up to strike and Hawthorne leaps out of the way, her crossbow firing wide. From an unspecified patch of darkness, The Shadow arrow permanently affixes the unsuspecting Cobra to the ground.
- 0’28” Depending on the circumstances, a small venomous creature attacking a PC it has surprised might be able to make its attack against the character’s unarmoured AC of 9. Eg. Snake in boot. (DM Ruling)
- 0’34” Swift application of an antivenom kit will allow a PC to re-roll a failed saving throw vs. Poison. (DM Ruling)
- 0’35” A full hour later, The Shadow stops the party on the road, to deliver his delayed-blast bon mot: “The only hooded terror around here is The Shadow.”
At The Caves of Chaos- Resting Elf-face Edit
- 0’36” As our heroes return to the base of the ravine, they see that the bodies of the slain Orcs remain where they were killed. But something has changed in the eeriness of The Caves, and the low howling of the cold wind instills a vague disquiet into the hearts of our listless lootseekers.
- 0’38” Thistle Turnipsworth and the party climb the now familiar route up (towards entrance “B”), approaching from the East, where the ascent is less taxing.
- 0’40” With his bow drawn, The Shadow silently scouts ahead to investigate the bodies at the cave entrance.
- 0’41” Howling wind grants a 25% circumstantial bonus to Move Silently attempts. (DM Ruling)
- 0’42” As The Shadow approaches, he notices a group of large tough looking humanoids loitering in the gloom of the cavern entrance. With his reconnaissance completed, The Shadow silently backs away to warn his colleagues. After a brief discussion on the effectiveness of elaborate traps, Qruzoix volunteers to go and speak to the strangers, while The Shadow climbs up to a vantage point further up the ravine’s Northern wall.
- 0’51”-0’57” Once Qruzoix nears the cave mouth, five armed and armoured Orc warriors emerge from the cave, their shields crudely emblazoned with painted boars’ heads. Karsh, the scarred Orc leader belligerently challenges Qruzoix, halting him in his path. Unfazed, the wizard expertly de-escalates the confrontation with Karsh, casually emphasising his points using the secret Hand-Slang of Chaos. By parlaying with the badass-eyepatch wearing Orc leader, Qruzoix learns that the Orcs that inhabited these caves were of the Gutspear and Shattered Skull Clans (caves “B” and “C” respectively); and that Karsh and his band are not their kin, being forest Orcs of the Irontusk Clan. Hearing that they may have enemies in common, the Orc leader invites Qruzoix and his clandestine clique to come inside and discuss matters further.
- 0’58” Hearing Qruzoix’ news, Hawthorne scowls at the prospect of any non-violent dialogue with Orcs, but Chunk Flunkins, as usual, is more optimistic, imagining the potential for new drinking companions and imported Orc mead.
- 1’01” Our estimable explorers decide to follow the Orcs into the cave. Inside, they see the corpses of those slain in our heroes’ last encounter pulled aside to clear a path into the tunnel, but that there are also signs of a more recent, more vicious battle. As they enter the main banqueting chamber (marked “9”), the party also see young, unarmoured Orcs, too young to be warriors, lying dead, their sack-cloth clothed bodies punctured by cruel, black-feathered arrows.
- 1’04” Seeing the food around the chamber, The Shadow considers the possibility of using the venom he’d extracted from the dead cobra, as a poison. (In this case, the raw poison will remain effective for 3 days.)
- 1’04” A single dose of poison may be extracted from a venomous snake without chance of failure. The resulting poison will remain effective for 1d6 days. (DM Ruling)
After First Break - Everyone knows Bugbears are afeared of Dwarves Edit
- 1’15”-1’23” Qruzoix leads the conversation with Karsh and the Irontusks, while Hawthorne glares on silently from Rolph the Younger’s side. Doubting the party’s capability Orc leader demands Qruzoix prove his power, to which The Detector retorts that if they wish to see magic, first they must bring him something magical. Wasting no time, Karsh presents his ancestral spear, which he claims is “enchanted from wood from the felled black tree of deepest, deepest forest”. The wizard, nervous that he may cause an affront (his Detect Magic spell will only cause magic items to glow) tries to ascertain whether the spear was enchanted by an actual magic-user. Karsh starts to lose patience, and angrily emphasises his artifact’s historic importance. Seeing the Orcs becoming rowdy, Qruzoix swallows, and casts his only spell. After what seems an eternity of quiet anticipation, the spear indeed begins to glow with a reddish light, and the mood breaks into celebration. Karsh holds his ancestral spear aloft and the Orcs echo their war-cry “Iron-tusk! Iron-tusk! Iron-tusk!”
- 1’25”-1’29” Seizing the moment, Qruzoix proposes to join forces to with the Irontusks, suggesting they work together to raid the Bugbears whose black-fletched arrows finished off the cave Orc clans. The promise of violence and reclaiming stolen Orcish loot delights Karsh who, impressed by the magic, shakes hands with the wizard and invites our gallant gang to sit and talk more.
- 1’29” Impressing a monster or NPC with wizardry may grant a +2 to a reaction roll. (DM Ruling)
- 1’31”-1’34” Our swaggersome skirmishers learn that Karsh and his pack are outriders for the Irontusk Clan, and serve their totem, The Great Blind Boar. Four or five nights past, the High Shaman of the clan chose Karsh and his band to come and parlay with Gurj the Great and Ashra Blood Devil, but when they arrived both of the Orc Leaders were laid out, slain. Karsh now intends to stay here long enough to loot the area and take trophies, before returning to the forest.
- 1’35”-1’40” Karsh also tells Qruzoix of a rumour: “High up in the hills something strange, something powerful is lurking. If you want power that’s where I would go.” The wizard smiles, with a power hungry glint in his eye, and convinces the Orcs that they’ll split up to better assault the Bugbears, but for the moment they should search the Gutspear and Shattered Skull caves for any loot the Bugbears missed.
- 1’41”-1’45” Leaving the Orcs to search elsewhere, our plucksome pillagers head down the hallway to the East. Passing by the rear of the cunningly disguised sentry post (marked ‘g’) they reach a small guardroom, (room “8”) where well-used weapon racks now lie empty. Searching the room thoroughly, the party find nothing of value, and so they double back and press on to the North.
- 1’46” Once they ascend the slope, our heroes reach a junction in the tunnel. To the right stands a sturdy padlocked door, (to room “11”) that looks as though it has been battered at hastily, and unsuccessfully.
- 1’47” The Shadow wastes no time violently wrestling open the padlock, using the various tools from his thieves’ kit.
- 1’47” Thieves’ tools are required to pick Open Locks, and so offer no bonus to the roll. But craftsmanship matters: a primitive or simple lock grants the thief a 30% circumstantial bonus on attempts to open it. (DM Ruling)
- 1’49”-2’02” Our scrappy scavengers search the now unlocked storeroom. Amongst the sacks, barrels, and heaps of supplies, they discover: three stout shields, a rack of seventeen human-made spears, two finely crafted battle axes and three sealed crates. Acting with surprising professionalism Po-Shawn marks out a chalk-circle on the stone floor, directing the others to place anything of value within its boundary. Cloud, looking closely at the crates, recognises that most of them bear the ‘sunrise-over-water’ mark of a well known trading company.
- 2’02” Spending time inventorying the supplies, the party conclude that this room contains enough dried meat, grain and beer to keep a dozen people alive for at least several weeks. Inside one of the crates, packed in straw, Cloud uncovers a fine crossbow and quiver of 60 bolts which they take, leaving their lesser quality weapon on top of Po-Shawn’s pile.
- 2’06” Leaving the storeroom behind them, our fetching questors proceed along the passage to the West, until they reach a door (to “12”) which hangs off a single hinge, obviously broken through from the other side.
- 2’09” Beyond the staved in door, our heroes discover a lavishly appointed room, dominated by a huge heavily adorned throne. All the walls of this room are draped with tapestries, mostly religious in nature but defaced by Orcish decoration. One banner, draped upon the throne, is made of tanned human skin, and is emblazoned with the Gutspear emblem, a crude painting of a human impaled upon a spear. Acting in his capacity as Orc ambassador, Qruzoix rolls up the vile banner and stows it in his pack, while Rolph the Younger, angered by the blasphemous wall hangings, prepares to rip them down.
After Second Break - Orceology 101 Edit
- 2’22” His paranoid mind racing at all the potentially fatal contraptions that could be hidden behind them, The Shadow keeps his bow aimed as Rolph the Younger cautiously removes the tapestries from the walls. Behind the hanging on the Western wall, Rolph discovers a crudely carved grot-hole. Inside it, they find stashed a skull-headed spiked mace, a large steel shield , and a small iron chest.
- 2’29” While our heroes take some time to rest, Rolph the Younger examines the tapestries for clues of their provenance. On one of the drapes he recognises a common pattern, originating from a nearby chapel within a few weeks journey of The Keep on The Borderlands.
- 2’32” Po-Shawn gently pulls loose a wooden beam from the room’s Southern wall. Realising that it has some kind of contraption attached behind it, he cautions the others. They take note of it, but first choose to further examine their pillaged loot.
- 2’34” Rolph the Younger notes that the steel shield is of the Order of Law, but with its markings worn away it’s difficult to tell exact origin. It is a magic shield +1, (subtracts 2 points from the bearer’s AC) and is not cursed.
- 2’36” The Shadow tries open the small, locked iron chest; but its mechanism is beyond his capabilities. Chunk Flunkins suggests he smash it open, but realising that using force may damage whatever is held inside, he reconsiders.
- 2’44” Disappointed at the shortage of forthcoming financial gratification, Chunk Flunkins pulls the narrow beam down like a lever. With a click, a large portion of the South wall hinges open, revealing a room behind (marked “13”).
- 2’46”-2’51” In this secret chamber, our incorrigible investigators see a small table and two chairs placed facing each other. The walls behind each chair are draped with larger, finely detailed banners, made of multiple human hides stitched together. Tattooed into the skin-banner on the Western wall is the emblem of the Shattered Skull Clan: a hammer breaking open human skull. On the opposite wall is the now familiar symbol of the Gutspear Clan. Qruzoix takes down both banners, rolling them up into a bundle. Seeing a large wooden chest resting on the floor, The Shadow immediately sets to tinkering with its lock, while Cloud examines what appears to be a rusted iron bucket full of a foul, stinking fluid sitting in one corner of the room.
- 2’54” Lifting up the rust bucket using a 10 ft pole, Cloud discovers two small leather pouches hidden in a recess beneath it. Cloud goes to retrieve the pouches, in the process disturbing two Giant Centipedes that crawl onto the fighter and try to bite them.
- 3’00” Cloud manages to brush the Centipedes off their body and onto the floor.
- 3’00” Simple opposed contests, such as brushing arthropods off a PC’s armour, are made by rolling 1d6 and adding any bonuses or penalties from the relevant stat. Whoever rolls higher is successful. (DM Ruling)
- 3’02” Reacting like seasoned adventurers, Hawthorne and Rolph the Younger smash the Centipedes into the stone floor with gusto.
- 3’03” Cloud cautiously collects their compensation from the leather pouches, finding two gems (worth 50 GP each), 40 SP and 20 GP.
- 3’04” The Shadow exhales, and the latch on the large wooden chest springs open. Inside, wrapped in oilcloth, he finds a finely made (but disappointingly non-magical) shortbow, a quiver of 20 arrows, 2 broadswords and 2 daggers.
After Third Break - Shrewd Edit
- 3’17” Our persistent potholers decide to press on, advancing through the obvious secret door in the Western wall of the parley room. As soon as they open the door, they can hear the echo of Orcish conversation coming from the West. Unfortunately for Hawthorne, the tunnel’s acoustics make it impossible to discern what’s being said. The dim, flickering light from their torch reveals a stout iron banded door set into the North wall some 40 feet distant, beyond which that the passage continues for another 40 feet, before turning South.
- 3’19” Skulking ahead quietly, The Shadow creeps up to listen at the door. The booming Orcish echoing down the tunnel, prevents him from determining if any monsters await behind the sturdy door, but The Shadow does notice that although this door is locked, some attempt has been made to pry it open recently.
- 3’19” A large amount of background noise, such as an echoey Orcish conversation, grants a 30% circumstantial bonus to Move Silently attempts. (DM Ruling)
- 3’23” As Chunk Flunkins and Hawthorne rely on their infravision to scout up to the turning, The Shadow gets to work opening the locked door. Peering around the corner, the demihumans see daylight coming in from the cave entrance ahead, (marked “C”) which illuminates an Orc-free intersection (between caves “14” & “15”). Hawthorne determines that the argument she can hear is coming from further to the West (“14”).
- 3’28-3’32” With the locked door defeated, the party form up and push their way into the Northern chamber (marked “g”). Here, our valiant vagabonds find themselves in an antechamber that serves as a trophy room (similar to “12”). On floor lies the body of an Orc guard, three black-feathered arrows protruding from his body. Clutched in his hand are the fragments of a broken ram’s horn. Exploring carefully, our half-hearted heroes creep beyond the dead guard to find a throne room, decorated in the style of the Shattered Skull Clan.
- 3’34”-3’37” Thistle Turnipsworth, searching behind the bloodstained throne, finds amidst the barrels of cooking wine, a single heavy cask of an exceptional vintage, worth at least 50 GP. Cloud takes the time to rummage through the two chests of drawers, discovering a smallish sack tied with a beautiful red silk rope. Inside the sack are 50 PP, and the rope itself is obviously magical, it unknots at the slightest tug. Cloud also unearths a small copper bowl set turquoise, which they estimate to be likely worth 50 GP.
- 3’40” Heading out of the throne room, the hubbub of Orcish argument has been replaced with the sound of conflict, so once again Chunk Flunkins & Hawthorne scout ahead. Peering into the chamber to the South East (room “14”), the demihumans witness a pitched battle in full swing. Karsh and his Orcs have been backed into the room and are engaged with fighting a drove of pale, mastiff-sized Shrews.
- 3’43” Urged forward by Hawthorne, our pugnacious protagonists rush to join the fray.
- 3’51” The Shadow creeps ahead and slays a giant Shrew, punctuating its life with a bolt from his crossbow.