Freeing the Slaves
We played this game on May 24th. I know I’m late with this post; I hope I will be faster next time. :-) The plot was largely player-generated; the players wanted to free the slaves from the silver mine, and they took the initiative.
- Ambre Mangefer, dwarven fighter and jeweler.
- Elerossë Friedman, half-elven warlock and puppeteer.
- Koyaa Nisqatsi, human paladin and petty noble from faraway Sembia.
All just reached level 4.
The PCs arrived in Daggerford with Derval, their prisoner from last time. Their plan was to get an audience with the Duke right then, but even though Koyaa’s status was enough to get them to the castle chamberlain, they would not get to the Duke before the next day (even though Koyaa tried hard, he failed his Charisma check quite badly).
So they left their prisonner with the watch and went to spend the day in town. Ambre went around the dwarven neighbourhood carousing and showing off her shiny magical axe. Koyaa bought himself a nice overpriced armor. As for Elerossë, he stayed at the castle and had a bit of a chat (yeah, you bet) with the miller’s young daughter.
He was still chatting with her, more or less, in a haystack when a ducal messenger found him. Two other messengers gathered the other two PCs from whatever they were doing in town. The Duke had finally heard the PCs had returned; he had the prisonner brought to the castle dungeon and the PCs summoned immediately.
Elerossë seized the opportunity to present his plan to the Duke. The idea was to pose as a slaver himself, and pretend his master wanted to get a couple of slaves back (they were supposed to be the son and daughter of the imaginary master). In return for these two slaves, he would give the goblins 8 or 10 more, on the house.
The plan involved tricking the goblins into letting as many slaves as possible out of the mine, in order to have a look at them and recognize the two he wanted. His own slaves would then free themselves from their chains, take up arms and cut down the goblins.
What was needed and the PCs could not readily provide was manpower. The “slaver” would be brought to the mine by Derval, along with a small escort (say 4 men-at-arms), and around 10 more soldiers were needed to pose as slaves.
The Duke was hesitant at first, and the court wizard Gwydion looked like he didn’t trust the PCs at all. Finally, Elerossë’s well-built and well-explained plan and Lady Bronwyn’s favourable opinion of them made the scales shift, and the Duke agreed to give them a few men and some equipment, and let them go with Derval the next morning.
So, the next day, the PCs met “their” squad of soldiers, drawn from the levy the Duke had gathered at the gates of Daggerford. The squad consisted of Keler, its chief; Sijal, a priest of Helm, a couple of veterans and eight junior soldiers. They had a cart with a horse, and more than enough swords and bows for everybody.
Derval went along without too much fuss; he looked like he would play along, and he actually offered helpful advice based on what he knew about the goblins.
The PCs and their escort planned to spend a whole day travelling, and to avoid the villages around the mine in case the goblins had spies there. They would arrive near the mine in the morning, so they would force the goblins to negociate in daylight where they would be at a disadvantage.
Setting the stage
Elerossë would be disguised by an illusion, and his escort would consist of Koyaa, Keler, Sijal and a veteran. The others (including Ambre) would pose as slaves; they would wear dummy chains and have swords and bows hidden in the cart. Elerossë tried to disguise Koyaa, so that the goblins would not recognise him.
The party set up their camp above the valley opposite the mine, making themselves obvious so the inhabitants of the mine could not help but notice them. They also spent some time hiding weapons here and there in the camp to avoid having to queue to get them from the cart.
The dwellers of the mine quickly noticed them and sent a small force to investigate: a few goblin bowmen (bowgoblins?) and hobgoblin footmen and an ogre led by a hobgoblin horseman. Negotiation ensued, with the leader returning to the mine to get further instructions, leaving its underlings behind.
The PCs were really uneasy and the ogre looked like it was just waiting for an excuse to attack them, but the hobgoblin finally returned. The party agreed to follow the humanoids closer to the mine. No way to get their weapons back, but they still had largely enough in the cart.
The hobgoblin led the party to the stream in the valley. The PCs refused to go any further, not wanting to leave the cart behind. There was a moment of tension as it looked like the hobgoblin would order its underlings to attack; finally, Elerossë managed to cast a Suggestion and have it go back to the mine and bring the goblin Derval had already met.
A few moments later, the hobgoblin returned with the goblin shaman the PCs had briefly met, a few goblin guards and 20 or 25 slaves who could match the description of the people Elerossë pretended he was looking for. Now was the time to put the plan to the test.
Elerossë crossed the stream to have a look at the slaves along with Koyaa and Keler; the other stayed where they were close to the cart. After a few moments, Elerossë gave the order to attack, using a code the party had agreed upon beforehand.
The hobgoblins were too few and too far away from one another to act effectively. The PCs and their allies, on the other hand, got lucky; Elerossë used the scroll of Hunger of Hadar he had found last time and got rid of most of the new batch of goblins with that single shot.
While the “slaves” in the party got rid of their chains and got weapons from the cart, the goblin shaman escaped from the spell area and tried to cast Witch Bolt at Elerossë but missed by a large margin; he didn’t survive long enough to cast another spell.
Koyaa engaged in a duel against the hobgoblin leader while Keler attacked one of the other hobs; both would win their duels, even though it would take some time. Meanwhile, Sijal cast Bless on Ambre and another soldier who both attacked the ogre, while most of the other soldiers took up bows or crossbows and began shooting at the goblins.
The battle went well, with a few injured on the PCs side but no fatalities, thanks to Sijal. After the ogre and leaders went down, the remaining goblins broke; a few got away but most were killed by Elerossë and the archers. Also, Derval was missing; nobody saw where he went in the confusion, but nobody really bother to look for him, as getting away from here as soon as possible looked like a good idea.
The party managed to bring the former slaves back to Daggerford, most of them walking as well as they could, the weakest in the cart. The only event during the trip back was an attack by an owlbear, which the PCs managed to defeat.
We didn’t really play the arrival at Daggerford as we were running out of time; suffice it to say the PCs are now in good standing with the Duke, and they may have opportunities to learn more of the events inside the mine from the liberated slaves.
Hunger of Hadar. Wow. This looks like it would have been more effective inside than on open ground, but even there it was damned impressive. Bless is quite nice too, especially in addition to Ambre’s magic axe.
Apart from this, I had to make a ruling about vocal spell components: when Elerossë cast Suggestion on the hobgoblin, he tried to disguise the incantation as a cough or muttering or whatever. I ruled he could do it with a successful Performance check. I remembered he deserved inspiration in extremis when he rolled a natural 1; his second die was better and he actually succeeded. Yeah, I know that’s not how advantage and inspiration work; however having the whole plan fail because of a single unlucky die roll before the slaves were actually out would probably have been less fun for everyone. Any thoughts on this?