Smarter Than the Average Dog

The hydra appears from the marshy waters, there are pirates aplenty, and the crows flying around are mostly ignored for the sake of simplicity. We are in the heat of battle! Ann-See is desperate to disengage from the blacksmith and his two hounds to help against the vicious hydra that is gouging deep wounds in both Dexter and George. Even so, she doesn't intend to be followed, and hacks away at the dogs first, and the dogs bite back. Ann-See moves to get a better angle on one of the dogs, and away from the second dog. This second dog retaliates by moving back to an attacking position, and intentionally moves in such a way that it doesn't provoke an attack of opportunity whilst getting in to a flanking position, creating a chorus of 'Hey! They're not that smart!' from all the players.

'They're trained war dogs', retorts the DM, apparently explaining everything.

Dexter isn't convinced, though. 'Trained enough to move so that they won't provoke an attacks of opportunity and know how to flank opponents. They are clearly smarter than us, displaying a keeness of strategy that escapes most intelligent fighters. I'm going make Int my dump stat on my warriors. It's going to be at least animal intelligence, so I should be able to perform any advanced combat strategy!'

Even after this biting satire, which suggested Dexter took a level of bard when no one was looking, the dog took its flanking attack on Ann-See. Nevertheless, Ann-See despatched the dogs and left the blacksmith to his own devices as she sped around the main building to help the rest of the party.

Meanwhile, I was actually being useful in combat, albeit mostly accidentally. I acrobatically launched myself through a window from the roof and engaged the pirate woman who looked like she had reserve points, and thus was useful to the plot, although she decided, correctly, that fighting me was beneath her, and set more hounds on me before retreating further back in to the building. That wasn't a problem, as I was needed outside again anyway. I threw myself back out through the same window I entered and applied some medical attention to Dexter, who had been badly bitten by the hydra, the hydra who now seemed to be ambling around aimlessly and a looking as confused as a hydra can looked confused.

After helping Dexter, I moved to another window on the building to see what I could see through it. Lo and behold, the pirate woman was standing right next to it, attempting to get out. She tried to push me out of the way, but my feet must have sunk in to the marsh to their ankles, as I stayed firmly in place. Frustrated that I had blocked her exit, and apparently her path to controlling the hydra again, she turned and headed back to find yet another exit. I jumped through the window in pursuit, followed quickly by Ann-See, but we were faced instead by some more pirate minions.

By the time we had killed off the pirates inside the building, keeping safely away from the hydra outside, the pirate woman and blacksmith were nowhere to be seen. I clambered up on to the roof via another window, and saw that they were back on their own pirate ship that we had stolen previously, and were setting sail. With marshly land and water to cover before we could even get back on the ship, and a hydra that could move freely through that ground shadowing the ship and being controlled by the woman now on the ship, we considered that we stood less chance of recapturing it and getting back in to battle with the escaping pirates than Dexter had of spontaneously gaining tremorsense overnight. The few remaining pirates escaped.

Despite this set-back, we had an empty pirate camp. A bit of searching found some traps that made me glad I had rested enough to transfer my reserve points across, and beyond the traps was plentiful information to uncover and prove the identity of the ringleaders of the pirates and their involvement in piracy in the waters of Malador. Recovering these papers successfully completed a significant portion of our mission, even if we didn't bring the pirate ship back to port with us.

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