I was unable to run our biweekly Punjar game last week due to a pretty bad case of food poisoning, although I suppose I got what I asked for, ordering tacos at 2am at the local 24 hour hole-in-the-wall. We also got off to a late start, by about 2 hours, due to a really long and engaging discussion about 4th Edition, mechanics and game theory in relation to previous editions of D&D. It really is exciting to see people so enthusiastic about and interested in 4th Edition. Antioch and I were recently discussing how so many new people are stepping up to the plate and getting behind the screen, and how everything really is more "accessible and elegant".
When we last left off the party entered the bandit lair in the abandoned iron mines and had taken out a group of orc guards and forced the last remaining orc of the group to surrender. Jester and Bart used their "persuasiveness" to learn that these orcs had taken up residence in the mines when the ore dried up and the humans left. The group of bandits entered the mines and offered them easy work and decent pay as guards in exchange for use of the mines, and they learned that the bandit leader was called Haledon. He also traded, in exchange for his life, the info that the bandits have been hired by some human witch to exhume bodies for her. The party let the orc go, and as soon as he walked over to a table to gather his things he began pulling on a rope hanging from the wall. The next thing the orc knew he had a kukri buried in his face.
The party then proceeded down a long uphill corridor that contained a mine cart track, obviously an area for transporting ore. Even though the group failed perception checks, most of the group rolled higher than the mine cart trap on initiative, moving out of the way as the flaming mine cart laden with spears and axe blades came rolling down the track. Amanda's character was able to dodge the mine cart, however the cart exploded into flames as it rolled off the end of the track and hit the wall and she took some heavy fire damage. After this the party engaged an elite ranger and an elite rogue (the ones who had set the mine cart trap) and seemed to have a pretty easy time with this encounter mostly due to the bard and tempest fighter taking out the rogue pretty quick.
After this the party proceeded on and basically plowed through 2 different rooms that served as barracks that were full of bandits. These encounters were a lot of fun and took up much of the session. Before I go on I should note that Amanda begged me to let her change her doppelganger sorcerer for a deva druid, which was fine by me. I can totally picture a deva druid living out in the Great Black Swamp which surrounds Punjar. Anyways in these encounters the druid was able to do some decent damage to the weaker bandits with her Flame Seed attack as the bard and tempest fighter ganged up on the bigger guys. Amongst all this Bart the minotaur was wailing on any bandit brave enough to step up to the front lines. After looting all of the bodies and ransacking the rooms, including a couple of other empty rooms and stumbling upon a small - ok huge - treasure stash the group moved on.
Honestly, I think the only real complaint I or Antioch have about the Dungeon Crawl Classics so far is the treasure parcels. Back when I ran Forges of the Mountain King I handed the module over to Antioch and let him just totally redesign all of the the treasure in the module to sync with the treasure parcel list in the DMG. While this has been my favorite DCC so far the treasure handed out to the party seems more than a little too generous. One parcel to note, in the Cleric's Chamber in the bandit lair, the party can stumble upon 55 platinum pieces after a DC 25 thievery check. I have decided not to fix it this time and just see how much money the party ends up with at the end of this adventure, and check it to their level to see if it's unbalanced.
Moving on, the party stumbled upon said Ceric's Chamber and explored it a little, and spied a man holding a flaming longsword watching them from the hall a bit ahead of them. When they spotted him he immediately turned around and entered another room, slamming a door behind him.
I think it was Bart who kicked the door in, finding Haledon, the finely dressed bandit leader, sitting at his desk, watching them and looking a bit defeated. Talibah the tiefling bard stepped up and Antioch rolled pretty high on his Diplomacy check.
They were able to find out more about the "witch" who had hired the bandits to exume bodies for her in Punjar's vast graveyard, but that even he had not seen her, only communicating through her raven familiar. He knew that she was living in the old abandoned windmill, but has been too afraid to approach it. They learned that she was raising the bodies as undead minions and stashing them in various places around Punjar and that she was planning to attack someone within Punjar very soon. One of the main places she was stashing the undead was in some family tomb inside Punjar's graveyard ward known as the City of the Dead. The party wondered if it was the same tomb they have been hired to investigate by the Dev'shirs.
Haledon tried to reason with them that he was just trying to make a living the same way they were and that their paths just happen to cross. There was no reason to fight as the party had taken out most of the band he had spent so much time and resources building. That didn't really work too well with Jester and Bart however. Also, as a way to scale down on the raining of treasure I role played Haledon into guilt-tripping the party from taking his +2 flaming longsword, stating that it was a family heirloom and that they could even have the clothes on his back if they would only leave him his sword. It worked. ;)
Knowing that they would be facing a lot of undead the group agreed that the next place to go was back into Punjar and see if they might be able to hire a cleric or paladin to take along with them to the tomb. We lost Adrian for this and the rest of the adventure who was playing Bart due to personal reasons, so Josh and Antioch have been taking turns playing Bart. I'm still deciding if the best course of action is take take Bart out, replacing him with a cleric of the same level, or have the party hire a 1st level cleric NPC. We shall see.
I am considering making the search for the cleric as maybe an urban skill challenge, though Antioch's bard has a high Streetwise score. Suggestions are welcome.