'I presume none of your characters has flown a glider before?'
Only the head of the dragon is all that remains after some weird immortality pact went a bit awry. I wasn't really paying attention. I should have been, because something to do with the One Hundred was keeping the magical onyx mountain upright, and now that we've slaughtered them all it is becoming unstable.
The mountain shakes and rocks, sharp splinters falling from the ceiling, growing bigger and bigger until chunks start dropping. We have to get out and to ground level, preferably taking the dragon's head with us. We fashion a crude stretcher out of some tapestries and sling the head between us.
Before we can get out of the main entrance, a massive shudder causes the cave mouth to collapse, seemingly isolating us. All is not lost, as the dragon tells us there is another way out. 'We must use the glider.'
Glider? Damn, I'm getting unpleasant flashbacks to Cave Dwellers.
Ulagor points, 'we must go this way'.
'The dragon's head points? How is he pointing?'
'With his tongue. It's big and long. You know how when you lose your arms and legs...'
'...the rest of your body compensates? It's like that.'
Despite the obvious absurdity, we take the dragon in the direction he 'points', wondering how good a glider could possibly be constructed when we had trouble making a stretcher. But it's not just one glider, there are two. Or there were two. 'Odd', says Ulagor, 'the second glider is missing.'
'Ooh, can we have him say "this is an outrage!"?'
'Yes, tell us about the crunch, Ulagor.'
Salvador leaps in to action!
But Thrak is enlarged and in the doorway, completely blocking access to the enemies just outside.
Salvador has a ranged weapon, but he has also just applied magic oil to his melee weapon, and it seems a waste to ignore it.
He could go outside to try to flank the enemies, but that would be really quite risky.
Hmm, what to do, what to do.
'Ah, you've decided to turn your miniature around, in a game where there's no facing. It's this level of strategy that we miss when you're absent.'
'I'm going to rub magic oil on my weapon.'
'You're greasing up your shaft?'
'No, just the tip.'
Skeletons pile through the door of the farmhouse we're staying in. That's fine, we have two clerics on hand. Aggar, our own cleric, a cleric of the Sun Domain, has turning undead as a specialty. Torrent, the NPC cleric in our charge, waits for Aggar to destroy the skeletons before bothering to try herself.
It's good that Torrent delays, as Aggar is a bit rusty about turning undead. He holds aloft his holy symbol, utters some incantation, and nothing happens. Our back-up cleric tries. Much better! Not only are all the skeletons turned, they are destroyed by the holy power emanating from Torrent.
As the skeletons are turned to dust, Torrent gives a victory cry. 'Fucking get in!'
Not only is Torrent excellent at turning undead, but Bert has picked up on her mannerisms seamlessly.
'Does someone want to play Torrent?'
Our NPC cleric is becoming something of a burden for the GM to run, given that we are starting a fight against a dozen other NPCs, and the GM is pretty much asking what we want her to do most of the time anyway. We may as well take direct control, and let our GM concentrate on trying to kill us all.
All we need to do is get a character sheet printed out, as giving us the campaign book seems a bit dodgy. The GM goes to the host's desktop computer and tries to find the right website. The connection seems a bit slow, so our host prods it a bit, or just looks perplexed for a moment.
The character sheet is loaded. Send a copy to the printer. Get the character sheet. 'Who wants to play her?' A bit of murmuring has Bert volunteer, and the character sheet is finally handed over. 'Right, Torrent, what are you going to do?'
'This is captain...' Oh dear, the GM doesn't know the name of an NPC off the top of his head and needs time to find the reference in the adventure. This can only feed in to our tendency to rename all NPCs to something we actually have a chance of remembering.
'Sausage?! Sausage?! If the other fellow is Commander Aardvark I'm storming out.'
Captain Sausage, as he is now known for what is probably only a cameo appearance anyway, bears the brunt of our attack, blows raining down on him in the first round of combat. 'He's badly wounded, but still standing.'
'I'm sure he'll be gone interfrastically.'
'You pass the final hurdle, and approach the dragon's cave. Sulphur hangs heavy in the air, the sounds of breeding... uh, breathing...'
'The sound of breeding is not what you want to hear when entering a dragon's lair.'
'Let's send Duncan in first, wearing a fake tail and a bow in his hair. "Buggered by a dragon" would be a novel ailment to put on his character sheet for being absent.'
Travelling south, the day draws on. We could enter the Fire Forest of TPK, as we have spells that will let us endure the heat, but perhaps it would be better to spend the first night outside of the forest and save some of the magic. Thankfully, a farmhouse is located a short distance north of the forest, making it a good place to rest.
A woman meets us outside the farm, and invites us in after some pleasantries. We are introduced to her father, whose name is familiar to most of us. He is a spellcaster, notorious for supposedly dominating his wayward brother in to better behaviour in years gone by, prompting accusations that he was also dominating others citizens unrelated to him. Right or wrong, the rumours spread and the man was exiled from the city. For some reason, this pleases Thrak, who mutters something under his breath about this looking like another 200 gold pieces for him. A jab to the ribs shuts him up, but it may not be enough.
After the ambush a few hours ago, we carried on down the road and stumbled in to the ambushers' camp. In the now-abandoned camp, we found some personal effects, and some scrips which showed the ambushers to be slavers. I wanted to burn the scrips, because surely we'd have no use for them and wouldn't want them to be available to anyone else. No, said Thrak, we ought to take them so that we have a suitable disguise should we be stopped on the road. I acquiesced, and we held on to the scrips. The scrips signed on behalf of the Ragesian authorities, promising the bearer 100 gold pieces for every spellcaster handed over.
I think we need to watch our barbarian closely.
We survive the ambush, even though, or because, the party was split. Searching the bodies, one of the leaders looks like he has some pretty shiny equipment, certainly better than what the scouts were wearing. A chain shirt, a nice-looking weapon, a cloak that's apparently worth mentioning, all which prompts the call of 'detect magic!'
'Yep, they are magical, as are...'
'Hold on, did our dwarf barbarian just cast 'detect magic'?'
'Uh, it was a more of a suggestion?'