Content of the article: "The Barbarian’s Solo Adventure"
This is a continuation of Barbarians, Princesses and Artificers, Oh My!
So, chatting with Princess's player after the first game, I start getting the impression that she's not happy, so I ask her about it. It's not my GMing, but the actual way the story's being presented that she's having problems with. Overall she said it's a great idea, but the concept of every single bastard son being shoved into the Underdark with none of the women ever learning about it made her go "Umm … okay?"
So we tossed a few ideas back and forth, and I decided to retcon it slightly so that only one faction sent the male noble illegitimate children down as tributes … but that faction also runs the armed forces, so everyone sends their unwanted offspring to that faction anyway.
Yeah, I know, Game of Thrones, the Night's Watch, same old, same old. It's a useful concept.
Except with this lot, they patrol the underground and some just don't come back up.
Anyway, she was totally happy with that idea. She's still got a job of work in front of her, to socially reorganise an entire nation to understand what's been going on (and the fact that the drow actually do a lot of the scut work behind the scenes, kind of like a country-sized version of the house elves from Harry Potter, only a lot meaner and nastier) but it's actually doable, instead of every male head of a faction simply shrugging and saying, "We know. So what?"
So, crisis averted. Whew.
However, we still had the problem with the elven guard contingent. The Princess had talked over the problem with her guards and her new companions before going to bed, and the Barbarian had said he'd stay downstairs awhile. He left a note saying what he was going to do, and if he wasn't back by morning to head out without him. He goes out, and I have him making Perception checks.
Now, I've known Barbarian for awhile, and I know his play style. He's perfectly okay with doing the sacrifice play if he has to. I don't want it to come to this, so I took precautions.
Pretty soon, he spots some of the elven guards following him. He also spots other guards, and starts following them. Basically, they're all sneaking about the town, pretending that they haven't spotted each other. His idea is to try to cut some out from the pack and deal with them before hitting the main mass.
Except it doesn't work out that way. He follows a couple to a warehouse, and after they go inside, he peeks through a crack in the door. Inside are most of the elven guard contingent, and their captain is arguing with none other than one of Princess' bodyguards. He'd sneaked out after everyone went to bed, wanting to have a try at talking the others 'guardsman to guardsman' and getting them to walk away and not mention her presence here. It wasn't going well. (The captain of the other guard contingent was Warrior 4/Aristocrat 2, and he was a prat).
So Barbarian walks in, bold as brass. The Princess' bodyguard sees him and tries to tell him to flee, but at that moment the elves who have been following him enter and bar the door. He's not getting out without a fight.
A little more talking ensues, but it's basically a given that combat will take place. It's not looking good for our (Barbarian/Elemental Kin) 4 plus (Warrior 4) vs 12 (Warrior 4) plus 1 (Warrior 4/Aristocrat 2).
At one point, Barbarian hears the sound of breaking wood at the far end of the warehouse, but nobody else seems to.
The fight begins.
Four of the elves stand off (archers, each with Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot) while the other eight warriors (each with a teamwork flanking feat giving them +4 to hit instead of +2) surround Barbarian and the elf bodyguard. Barbarian kills one more or less with his first hit, but there's still enough to surround him. He gets hacked on pretty good, losing over 20 HP in one round (doesn't help that he's Raging, dropping his AC to 13). The elf bodyguard is looking a lot worse, not having the sheer bulk of HP that Barbarian does. The archers … aren't doing so well. They only need 7 or better to hit Barbarian, and 9 or better to hit the elf bodyguard, but they can't roll over a 5.
And then one of the archers takes two crossbow bolts in the back.
This gets everyone's attention.
Someone's shooting out of the deep darkness that is the other end of the warehouse. They're using heavy crossbow(s), and they're not missing (+7 to hit overall).
The captain pulls warriors away from the groups that are hacking on Barbarian (another one's gone down in the meantime) and the bodyguard, to go and investigate.
The wounded archer takes another hit, and goes down for the count. The next unwounded archer takes a bolt. Barbarian takes a couple more hits, but he's slashing them down as fast as he can swing his greatsword (using a Hero Point to emulate Cleave at one point, to great effect).
The captain orders his men to take torches forward and illuminate the dark. This works as well as you'd expect. After they go down and the archers start dropping again, the captain makes a run for the barred door. He almost makes it before the crossbowman nails him to it with a couple of beautiful crit rolls.
After that, the Barbarian cleans up the rest, except that he's unable to save the bodyguard from going down for the count.
The stranger comes forward from the shadows. Turns out it's a half-elf who's sort of aware of the situation in the Dominions, given that his illegitimate (elf) half-brother disappeared years ago, and nobody can give him a straight answer as to where or why. So he's after answers, anywhere he can get them.
The character is a level 5 professional bounty hunter, built very much in the vein of a fantasy version of Clint Eastwood. Class is Gunslinger 5 (yes, a level higher than the rest of the party, but he's only going to be there for the rest of the story arc, then go off on his own business) with the Bolt-Ace archetype. (He has Quick-Draw, Point-Blank Shot, Rapid Shot and Extra Grit, just for information's sake).
The amusing aspect is that the Barbarian caught a glimpse of him in his travels, wearing the flat-brimmed hat and the poncho (I was careful to describe it as 'robes') and he still called the character before the fight ever happened.
So anyway, the upshot (so to speak):
Barbarian has made it back, with the aid of Darien No-Name (yes, he's the half-elf with no (family) name). He's on 4 HP, but Princess can literally cook up healing meals.
Caerwyn (the bodyguard) is dead.
There are a bunch of dead elves in a warehouse.
And there's an unshaven half-elf bounty hunter with a repeating crossbow who would like some goddamn answers.
The next game's gonna be fun.
- Barbarians, Princesses and Artificers, Oh My! Part 2
- An Art Heist Scouting Try Gone Awry…
- Terrible Balance in Captain Mode Now
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