The Happy Muggers

Taking the Catapult
Procuring our Distraction

The gnoll had spotted them. His snout sniffed the wind and glanced over, saw movement behind the shrubs, yelled out and ran toward them. Leeloo was first out the gate to meet him, and instead she met two arrows and soon found herself teleporting back and nursing wounds she cursed herself for being dumb enough to obtain, “Always let the goliath establish the battle line.”

The goliath in question was doing just that. Surrounded by gnolls– a tiny confused archer, a commander howling orders, and a blood-soaked zealot– he was hurting badly. Tortolla surveyed the scene shook his head, “We need our strength for the fight ahead!” He pulled a tiny blue glow out of his pocket, and Aegis erupted forth to help, healing Leeloo and Tarque in turn.

D’cafnaet’d was running around the side, flanking the gnolls and catching them by surprise. He stumbled once, twice, and met his mark. Montiago was standing where he liked– safely at the rear of the fray– and lobbing arcane energies across the field. A solid hit on the zealot sent him down, but shadows crept into his dying form and propped him up again. His body lurched over to Tortolla and tore at his arm before the body caved in on itself, rotting from within.

Montiago took an arrow from the tiny archer, and threw a bolt of energy back that ensured the archer would do no more harm. Tarque was slugging it out with the commander as Leeloo and Montiago chased the last archer as he tried to escape. Montiago’s grasping shadows allowed Leeloo to teleport next to him, draw her sword, and put some blood on the blade.

But before he died the archer had sabotaged the catapult; the torsion rope was cut neatly in the middle. The planned attack on the stables was impossible.

“We are uphill of the target,” D’cafnaet’d said, pulling out the blocks keeping the catapult in place, “And we have a means of going downhill with great speed.”

“You want us to ride that thing?” Montiago said.

“A better idea:” Tortolla proposed, “Set it hurtling toward the tent, and we shall follow along behind the mayhem.” Tarque walked over and began to size the device up, shoved it a bit to see how mobile it was.

Leeloo shook her head, “Why don’t we merely use it as a distraction there,” she pointed at the west side of the tent, “While we make our entrance there,” she pointed at the west side.

“Aye,” Tortolla said, “There is an idea.” Everyone agreed.

Tarque was shifting the huge frame, aiming it as well he could. He gave it a shove and it slowly tumbled over the edge of the hill, then quickly began gathering speed. They started down the hill along a slightly different direction, running to keep pace.

“But it really should be afire,” Montiago said. And with a flick of his wrist, it was.

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The Dangers of an Untested Technique
Next time I should practice.

From D’cafnaet’d’s Memoirs

There’s been this move that’s been floating around in my head. It will work. The idea is to strike high and hard, but at the same time tangle the legs and feet. Done correctly, the target stumbles some distance and falls. Applied correctly, the target falls with quite a lot of force. Timed correctly, the target flies into a comrade or two and takes them to the floor with him. It was my first chance to try it, and I did none of these things right.

I hadn’t counted on the strength required to pull off such a feet. One attempt, mid combat, and that was it. Exhaustion. Even in a miss it’s unbelievable. So much so that I fumbled my follow up attack. My arms so sapped of strength that I nearly dropped my dagger. For the duration of this battle I’ll not be able to attempt it again. More’s the pity. I was thinking how much fun it would be to see Tusk and a few of his lackeys struggling to stand up, while I’m standing on top of them, my acidic dagger cutting deep. That thought alone makes me wonder why some spend so much time fantasizing about the opposite sex.

True confession time. This whole experience gives me renewed respect for Tarque. I try one strength based maneuver and it nearly takes me out of the fight. Our lumbering behemoth plants himself squarely in the middle of the pack of dogs and beats on them. I spend considerable energy trying to avoid getting hit. Pain, damage, and injury doesn’t seem to bother him all that much. Tarque: A truly unique combination of muscle, kindness, and crazy.

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Clearing the Town
Deep Behind Enemy Lines

The door shuddered as the orc plowed into it, but Tarque’s massive frame kept it in place. As the others caught their breath, D’cafnaet’d opened a window, gauged distance, and took a running leap up onto the roof next door.

“Always moving too fast,” Tarque said. He ran for the wall opposite the door and plowed through it, letting the orc come in after him. He managed to slash Montiago in the seconds before he hit the floor. And then everyone was outside.

From his height D’cafnaet’d could see the fray taking shape: there were seven orcs guarding this outpost– six now that the one had rushed in, and five if that one didn’t survive that fall off a roof he just took– and everyone was converging on that now-open doorway. Tortolla and Aegis made a bottleneck just outside, but one of the orcs– a pummeller– smashed the ground and shook the bottleneck lose. It shook D’cafnaet’d’s perch loose, too; the building collapsed as D’cafnaet’d leapt forward to knock a few orcish heads together.

Tarque threw a tree root through one of the archer’s necks just as Leeloo found the other archer, limping slightly but still okay after his fall. She loosed Eldritch Blasts at him as she pressed in and caught a few arrows, keeping him away from the main fray where he could hit too many of her allies. After she took the third arrow she was glad to see Montiago flinging arcane magicks the same direction she was, and she teleported away to get closer to Tortolla’s healing.

Tortolla’s bottleneck was just reforming when Leeloo arrived. D’cafnaet’d dropped the pummeller as Tortolla dropped a reaver, and just after she found the warm healing she was needing Leeloo dropped the last archer. Montiago ran back to the group just in time to see D’cafnaet’d tumble around and kill the final orc.

A quick glance around confirmed they had a moment’s respite, but no more. “The orcs press in from all sides; if we delay we will be overcome. I suggest we loop northward,” he pointed, “into the edge of the forest. We can find our way out again closer to Tusk’s tent.”

The party disappeared into the brush, but a patrol was right behind them. Leeloo was struggling with bandages and managed to leave a trail of blood spots behind, but the patrol proved too inept to find them.

An hour later they were looking out on the empty field between them and Tusk’s tent. Four patrols circled a small group of structures including a stables and a catapult, which was lobbing stones into the battle that was beginning at the city walls. The dark of night was an asset, but the faintest glimmer of sunshine was evident on the horizon. Time was growing short.

“We need a distraction,” Tarque said.

“I could run about naked,” D’cafnaet’d offered.

“I’d rather we use their catapult on their stables,” Tortolla replied. “Can everyone cross that distance?” They could; Tortolla and Tarque used their knowledge of nature to hide in the grasses; Montiago and Leeloo shrouded themselves in illusion and darkness, and D’cafnaet’d called upon his experience getting into places where he shouldn’t be. And in no time at all they were at the catapult, sizing up a group of Gnolls.

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Clearing the Town
Deep behind enemy lines
  • In the town where Tusk is hiding
    • holed up in a building on the outskirts
    • orcs outside the door
      • 2 archers
      • 2 savagers
      • 2 reavers
      • 1 pummeller
    • D’cafnaet’d jumps out through a window and onto the roof next door
    • Tarque plows through the back wall of the building
      • “the building made it’s save”
    • an Orc bursts through the door and hits Montiago Dillermo
    • Aegis appears and hits the Orc who entered, who dies
    • Montiago Dillermo runs out and misses the Orc near Tarque
    • Leeloo runs out and misses the Orc near Tarque
    • the orcs advance toward us
      • one of the archers leaps from roof to roof and falls on his face
      • another archer hits Tarque and Tortolla and the remaining savager, who dies and hits Tarque
    • D’cafnaet’d shoots an archer from his perch on the roof
    • Tortolla Haunting Spirits the reaver by the tree
    • Montiago Dillermo Phantom Bolts the archer
    • Leeloo Witchfires the archer
    • the reaver by the tree misses Tortolla
    • the pummeller takes an opportunity hit from Tarque, then hits the ground to hit Tortolla and Tarque and miss Montiago Dillermo
    • and archer misses Montiago Dillermo and hits Tortolla
    • D’cafnaet’d backstabs the reaver by the tree, then burns an action point to Dazing Strike the pummeller
    • Tarque Thorn Strikes the archer with a critically hit, who dies
    • Tortolla uses his second wind
    • Montiago Dillermo Scorching Bursts the reaver by the tree
    • Leeloo Eldritch Rains the reaver by the tree (who is bloodied) and the pummeller, then runs up and pins the last archer
    • the other reaver Bull Rushes into Montiago Dillermo, who fades away
    • the pummeller hits D’cafnaet’d and knocks him prone
    • the archer steps back and shoots Leeloo
    • D’cafnaet’d stabs the pummeller
    • Tarque unleashes the boiling cloud, hitting the pummeller and the reaver by the tree
    • Tortolla heals Montiago Dillermo and himself, then spring Renewal Strikes the pummeller, who is bloodied, then burns an action point to call the thunder bear’s warding
    • Montiago Dillermo mirror mazes the pummeller, and uses his orb of deception to hit the reaver by the tree
    • Leeloo Eldritch Blasts the archer, then moves up next to him again
    • the reaver by the tree, mirror mazed and marked, critically hits Tarque
    • the other reaver misses Tortolla
    • the pummeller misses D’cafnaet’d
    • the archer shoots Leeloo again
    • D’cafnaet’d dark fires the pummeller, then hits him with a sly flourish and he dies
    • Tortolla uses Haunting Spirits on the reaver by the tree, who dies. Leeloo misty steps back from the archer
    • Montiago Dillermo Phantom Bolts the archer
    • Leeloo Eldritch Blasts the reaver
    • the reaver hits Tortolla, then rushes to hit Leeloo, who Caiphon’s Leaps and is then hit in the back with an arrow from the archer
    • Tarque Thorn Strikes the reaver
    • D’cafnaet’d backstabs the reaver
    • Montiago Dillermo Phantom Bolts the reaver
    • Leeloo Eldritch Blasts the archer, who dies. She misty steps away as he shoots, so he misses
    • the reaver shifts away from the flank he’s in
    • Montiago Dillermo hits the reaver
    • D’cafnaet’d Tumbles around to flank and then hit the reaver, who dies and misses D’cafnaet’d
    • 100 Gold gem
    • 80 Gold
    • 2 more potions of healing (now everyone has 1 left)
  • There are more orcs close by; head toward tusk’s tent
    • Tortolla rolls to find sneakier routes
    • we head into the edge of a forest so we can sneak up toward the tent
    • the battle has begun; the orcs are heading to the main gate
    • some orcs are starting to head out from tusk’s tent toward the front lines
    • we lose some orcs in the woods
      • Leeloo rolls a 1 to hide
      • the orcs roll a 1 to follow
  • We emerge near tusk’s tent
    • 1000 ft of empty between us and the tent
    • patrols and supply piles all around
    • a catapult and a stables in the back
    • no distractions available; we need to go to the catapult to get to one
    • 5-6 gnolls guarding the direct way in to the catapult; an ogre and 6 small gray hunchbacks (Gith) guarding the stable way
    • vote says the gnolls get killed first
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Misplaced Trust
Thank gods I can see in the dark.

From D’cafnaet’d’s Memoirs

It happens when you start to like your party. Like maybe you’ve all reached an understanding of how each other operates. This snake named Trust starts to creep in, it circumvents your defenses, poisons your judgment. And that’s when you end up in a barrel.

Seriously. I’ve saved the life of everyone in the party. I’ll admit that they’ve saved mine as well… but that’s not the point. The point is I’m not exactly dragging the party down. I’d say that a good part of success of the party depends on me. That’s not the kind of person that you want to stuff in a barrel. Yet thanks to a sleep spell from Montiago Dillermo there I was.

These were the thoughts going through my head as I stood atop the roof, surrounded by orcs. I contemplated sitting the battle out… letting them know how important to the group that I am. A few slices from an orcish ax should drive the point home. The enemies’ weapons were certainly finding their marks. With pain visible on the faces of most of the Muggers, I was carefully choosing my moment to jump into the fray. Then the battle found me. My perch toppled unexpectedly. This would probably be a serious problem for most people, but for me it was an opportunity; an opening into the battle. As the building toppled beneath me, I simple rode it down into the fray. With an easy tumble I landed at the feet of a particularly ugly orc, who was none-to-pleased to see me. He was even less pleased to feel the acidic burn of my dagger buried to the hilt in his leg. Sensing a presence behind me, I yanked my dagger out of the orc’s leg and swung it upward, the butt finding the chin of another orc. Almost instantly his eyes glazed over, and it was obvious that he was struggling to hold onto consciousness.

My getting the attention of one orc, and dazing another was all the Muggers needed to turn the tide of the battle. A couple orcs died at my hand, and I softened up a few more, sealing their fates at the hands of my “friends.”

All this, my trusted companions, should serve as a reminder: I’m far more valuable outside of the barrel than in. If we are to continue to get along, we need to have a good, long talk.

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Seeking Tusk

Modra was tough; he knew that his fate was already sealed, and he didn’t see any upside in playing along. But Leeloo and Tarque managed to convince him that his days, while numbered, could have varying degrees of pain.

The first thing he let slip was the name of Tusk, the Orcish commander outside Overlook’s walls. Soon after that the time and location of the next weapons drop was offered. Very soon after that the little dark one was unconscious.

They needed supplies to pull off the ruse they had in mind, but none were forthcoming at Modra’s warehouse, so a trade was made: Sarshan got the crook and the Happy Muggers got the wagon they needed, along with a handy little device for signaling the city when the deed was done. Now it was a simple matter of telling the generals that the signal meant to attack. To avoid D’cafnaet’d embarrassing them again, a well-placed sleep spell was engaged.

“What’s in the barrel?” The guard at the City Hall asked Tarque.

“Drow.”

A wagon full of barrels, and each barrel full of ale-soaked cotton. Traps for the meeting place were set up the day before by Tortolla and Tarque, and set off the day before by a wandering orcish patrol.

Three days after the interrogation and it was time for the drop. Eight orcs were at the appointed location, and Vog was the one who stepped forward to ask who was in charge.

“I am,” Leeloo offered.

“A little girl?” Vog sneered.

“Indeed,” she said, standing. “And since you didn’t complete the last drop, we will be delivering this one straight to the camp.”

This idea went over like a belch in temple. “How will we know that you will not betray us? The last courier was found dead.”

“Our man gave him the map; your man ended up dead. Who failed here?” The orcs, not wanting to admit a mistake, stubbornly stood their ground. “Look, I am glad that this time there are eight of you; it makes it less likely that you will fall on your own swords like the last courier. But we will be taking the wagon; I do not care how many of your men die, but my men I care a great deal about.”

Seeing that he was not going to win this argument, Vog guided them forward. And he was relieved when he saw Terk manning the first guardhouse.

“What are you doing, bringing these filthy creatures into our camp?” Terk chided Vog. Vog smiled, “They insisted on coming themselves.” This was perfect; he could withstand a little berating–it was par for the course, really–and then blame everyone else if things went wrong. Vog watched with glee as Terk went through the conversation he had just had.

Leeloo kept her cool, “Your army needs these supplies; do you want to be the one who reports that you sent them away?” Now it was Terk’s turn to let someone else take the blame. He sent them over to the outer camp, where the Fire-elk clan had just set up after joining the horde so late in the game. They could deal with these annoying outsiders.

But as soon as they were safely away from the guardhouse, Tortolla flicked the reins high to spook the horses. At once they were racing away from Vog, whose eyes were filled with the realization that he was once again going to face the blame. Leeloo, D’cafnaet’d, and Tarque watched as the wagon lurched forward and mysteriously caught fire as Montiago waved his hands about. As the flames lept to a nearby tent Vog began to understand that he had been taken in, and as soon as the thought crossed his mind Roots of Stone brought him crashing to the ground.

Montiago reached out with a hand of arcane force to unpin the horses from the wagon, but a rut in the road threw a barrel into his head, and instead he found himself on the ground watching the smoking contraption rattle away from him. Tortolla spun his spear around and knocked the pin free before leaping away, but one horse whirled too close and was caught in the flames. A quiet prayer of thanks escaped the old man’s lips as he stood up again. As the rest gathered around him, he planted Sarshan’s signal into the ground and lit it. A huge ball of blinding light erupted out of the end and soared up into the sky, perfectly illuminating the five figures standing underneath it.

They ran. They ran directly for Tusk’s tent, dispatching orcs as they went. Eldritch Rain and bull rushes brought them down; Phantom Bolts and Haunting Spirits plowed through the guards. As the reached the inner complex of buildings they ducked inside a barn and blasted those who followed.

They all took a deep breath and prepared for the fight ahead.

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Through the Camp
In which spies are met, traps are set, and a camp is set ablaze.
  • Intimidating Modra
    • contract is with Tusk, the orcish leader
      • he is unknown to us, even after a 30 history roll
      • but we have heard of an Orc organizing in the west
    • next meeting is in three days
      • wagon though the tunnel to the east road
    • supplying any weapons he could get
    • weapons came from inside the city
    • he: “people will be looking for me soon”
    • us: “let’s find your wagon”
    • routes out:
      • to the east tunnel out
      • to the west tunnel out
      • to an alley escape
      • to a warehouse
      • to the Happy Beggar
    • we deck him and Tarque carries him
  • Extended Rest in the Happy Beggar
    • hung a sign: “Out of Blood Sausages; back tomorrow”
  • To the warehouse
    • take the tunnels
    • no wagons, no barrels there
    • send a message to Sarshan
      • reply: “meet me at the Broken Mug”
    • Modra goes into a barrel and Tarque carries it
    • we are watched as we approach
    • Sarshan is happy when we turn over Modra
    • he wonders how we expect to escape after killing Tusk
      • we really have no idea
      • coordinate with the dwarf generals
      • he provides a flashbang
    • we tell the generals “when you see this flash, attack”
      • talk to Stonefist to find who to talk to
      • D’cafnaet’d goes in the barrel to avoid embarrassing us
      • guard: “what’s in the barrel?”
      • Tarque: “drow.”
      • Stonefist will relay the message
  • Set up traps at the drop point the day before
  • At the drop, impersonating Modra’s goons
    • eight orcs
    • Leeloo: “you didn’t get the last drop; we need to deliver this straight to the camp”
    • Leeloo: “we ran into traps; this area isn’t secure”
    • them: “what is our guarantee that you will not betray us like last time?”
    • Leeloo: “I am glad to see that you brought eight men this time so that you don’t fall on your own sword like your last courier.”
    • them: “I will take the wagon”
    • Leeloo: “we will take the wagon. I do not care how many of your men die botching these drops; my men I care a great deal about”
  • A guard at the next gate gives us trouble
    • Leeloo: “Your army needs these supplies; do you want to be the one who reports that you sent these supplies away?”
    • them: “Very well”
  • They send us the wrong way; Tortolla “loses control” of the wagon as a distraction
  • Run up to the inner area
  • Run to the fortified area around Tusk’s tent
    • it’s a small town that they’ve repurposed
    • orcs see us!
    • we duck into a building
    • when they enter we shoot them
    • an arrow hits Tortolla (1 damage) Tarque attempts to take the hit but misses
  • Ready for battle
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Confronting Modra

Leeloo complained a bit about the sewers. “Why don’t people hide out in the glens, in the vales? Why doesn’t anyone have their secret lair in a nice airy building?”

“The people who live in the Dark hate the Light,” Tarque said.

It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. This sewer had obviously been cleaned as preparation for its new use; the muck and grime that usually accompanies dark wet underground places was banished by the uniform torches along the walls, the random detritus swept away from the ground and carried off to who-knows-where. But no amount of cleaning would ever rid these corridors of the smell.

It got worse as they went, and they soon emerged into a room that stank of dry bones whose dryness was earned by long neglect. The pile of bones was huge, but no one paid it much attention. They were too busy looking at the three Chitine on the ceiling and the two figures standing on the other side of the pile.

“Congratulations,” the shorter one– a Dark One– said. “You’ve gotten past all my other defenses, so you’ve obviously figured out that I’ve been supplying the Orcs outside the city walls. As they have no intention of honoring our agreement when the city falls, I have no intention of being inside the city to learn of their treachery. I’d like to offer you an opportunity to join me in my escape; we could make quite a lot of money together.”

Montiago stole a glance at D’cafnaet’d. “New experiences,” thought the gnome. “New money,” thought the drow.

“Where were you planning on going?” Leeloo asked.

“I had my sights set for Astrazalian, actually.” Now it was Leeloo’s turn to think twice; her father was headed to Astrazalian the last time she saw him.

But she knew there were more pressing matters at hand, “We offer a counter proposal: we shall hire you to guard the inside of a jail cell.”

Modra shook his head, “I think that I would rather recruit you unwillingly into my zombie guard.”

In a moment everything sprang to action. Aegis swirled into existence and his shell hardened the party. Bolts and blasts flew out around the room, and Tarque barreled forth toward the two cloaked figures. The taller of them caught Tarque’s eye with an orb and Tarque’s will to fight was swept away; he wandered off into the corner.

One Chitine fell to Montiago; another to D’cafnaet’d. Tarque came to his senses and rushed back to the fray as Tortolla’s vengeful spirit friends broke the cloaked shaman’s mind. Leeloo, then Montiago got poisoned. Leeloo pulled reality and tore a Chitine scout apart. Modra danced about the chaos, slicing with rapier and dagger. Tortolla haunted the last scout to an early grave.

Modra nearly killed Tarque, but Tortolla saved his friend with a well-timed push and had Aegis step in between and stop the killing blow. Modra tried to make a run for it, but Tarque called roots from the ground to hinder him and Montiago shocked him back into the room. Shock after shock, and finally Modra lay on the ground unconscious.

The easy part was finding the turncoat. The hard part began now, when they had to usurp his roll and double-cross the Orcs. The city depended on it.

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Modra
The PCs stop Modra from skipping town
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When life gives you shadows...
Tortolla's Reflections

…Seek shelter behind a door.

I’ve had my fair share of scuffles in my life. I haven’t exactly lived in the most peaceful of territories. Sure things have quieted down since the Red Hand was defeated. But there’s always been sources of contention. Incidents of violence away from the lights of cities and villages.

The Happy Muggers have definitely been through their tight spots too. The battle in Rivenroar or the great White Wyrm ambushing us on the road. Every time we scrape by on the skin of our teeth and somehow we make it out alive. Sometime D’caef scrapes by a little closer than the rest of us.

However, this last fight was different. We were rotating slowly around a large fighting pit. Leeloo managed to get the attention of a large brute calling forth shadows to rain down on us. I know that the girl is used to channeling powers greater than herself, but this may be the first time something of such power has been thrown back at her.

But thankfully, we executed a great plan! Monty took the lead, charging valiantly across the chamber. Leeloo quickly followed suit, ducking behind the wall at the far end of the room. A brilliant plan, but they forgot one crucial element.

My years of experience has taught me one important lesson. When life gives you crazy shadowbolts… seek shelter behind a door.

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