Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 3 - Session 1

In the last session our heroes defeated a skeletal mage in his lair, thus sealing an alliance with the woodsinger elves to help them in the rebellion of the Barony of Harkenwold against the evil Iron Circle mercenaries. This session was a change of pace, as it was a pure roleplaying session with no fight at all, in preparation of the Battle of Albridge.

Having received news that the Iron Circle was preparing to march on Albridge, the group and their new-found elven allies went there too. Last time the heroes left Albridge they were ambushed by very well-informed Iron Circle mercenaries, suggesting that there was a spy or traitor somewhere in the village. So at first the players hid the elves in forest and only took the elven leader to the village.

A war council of all the leaders of the rebellion was going on in Albridge, and the council named the warlord of the group as general for the battle. Most of the village of Albridge is just north of a bridge, with the enemy stronghold in Harken being to the south. Thus battle plans were drawn to use the bridge to the fullest advantage of the rebellion. The rebels want to soundly beat the Iron Circle, to then be able to drive them from the Barony, thus inflicting maximum casualties was as important as protecting the village proper. The players planned a deliberately weak defense south of the bridge, with orders to retreat early, hoping to draw the enemy over the bridge and then cutting them off.

After the players had agreed on the general plan, I ran the battle preparations as a skill challenge. That is I asked the players individually what they would do to contribute to the battle preparations, role-playing each action, and then doing an appropriate (and generally easy) skill-check to determine success. The preparations included getting the elves out from hiding and into the village, and erecting barricades on both sides of the bridge. Nobody thought of looking further for the traitor, thinking that the barricades on the bridge would prevent anyone from slipping out. Although carrier pigeons being kept by the innkeeper were mentioned when discussing how scouts could send messages to the players, the significance of those pigeons wasn't realized until one player saw one of them flying south and was unable to stop it due to lack of appropriate ranged weapons or spells.

So finally the players got concerned about their battle plans having been revealed to the enemy, but disputed what they should do about it. All evidence they collected pointed towards the innkeeper being the traitor, which immediately caused them to suspect that this wasn't true. That's what you get when you play with experienced roleplayers, they never believe in the obvious solution. :) So the rogue went to the inn and started to interrogate the innkeeper, but failing critically in his intimidation roll. The innkeeper appeared to be a regular pigeon fancier, talking excitedly about his hobby, and offering to show his pigeons to the rogue. Once on the roof with the pigeons, the innkeeper opened all cages and sounded a bell which made them all fly away. The rogue, realizing that the innkeeper *was* the traitor and had just duped him, reacted by killing the traitor. So the battle plans were in the hands of the enemy, the pigeons that could have been used to send false messages were gone, and the only person who could have told them about how the messaging worked was dead. Not exactly the optimal outcome.

At first the players stuck to their plan, but waiting all day on the next day they didn't see an army marching up from the south. So they started to get worried about the other bridges over the river, and started placing scouts. On the day after, just after noon, one of those scouts came running back: The enemy had crossed the river at the bridge to the west, and was just one hour away from Albridge now. The Battle of Albridge was soon to begin, and not like the players had planned it. Perfect cliffhanger moment to stop playing, the Battle of Albridge will be the next session.

Darn it Tobold, I want to know what happens next!
Great post! Love reading about what's up in your campaign, interested to see what happens next.
Of all your posts I find your D&D sessions the best. :) Certainly sounds like a great cliff-hanger.

Also it looks like the Iron Circle walked/are walking right into where the players wanted them to be, just not using the bridge.

After all, it can be a chokepoint both ways. ^_^
Very entertaining!
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