The Devil's Handmaiden (cont.)
The party struggles into town, bleeding, sick, and poisoned. Nonetheless they know their duty and charge into battle. Well, first they scout around the house a lot and break in through a second floor window - turns out the Ranger rolls great dice when it's not combat related. None of it matters, though, since the action is all in the basement.
They charge down the stairs. The Barbarian wipes out a fistful of guards, leaking hit points like a sieve; the rest of the party is following his lead and forming a decent battle line. Finally, they've learned some tactics... but the wrong ones. Pro tip: always, always, always take out the spell caster first. The party discovers the power of area-effect spells when they eat a Flaming Hands spell. For max damage. And no one saves.
Now most of the party is inches from death and in no shape for combat. The Ranger grabs the unconscious Barbarian and they all retreat up the stairs. There's some last minute healing from the Bard, getting everyone at least back to functional and enchanting a sword. The guards decide to interrupt the chanting and counter-charge up the stairs but get creamed in a tight corridor face to face with the Barbarian and Ranger.
The party counter-counter-charges downstairs again. They play hot potato with the only sword capable of hurting the imp as one by one their front-line combatants fall, and eventually the Ranger brings the demon down.
Lord Grayson promptly surrenders. A fair number of the party votes for summary execution, but he talks them into delivering him to justice in the city.
Another pro tip: never let the sorcerer get a word in edge-wise. They have a high CHA stat for a reason.
The dead guards yield up some decent chainmail armor and shields. The party also loots the house, stealing the silver and cracking open a safe with a few pounds of gold. Only the lack of a wagon stops them from hauling off the furniture. On the way out, the Druid somehow convinces the rest of them to burn down the mansion, in case the sorcerer gets let off by the law and wants to return to his demon-summoning ways, I guess? I don't know, but mad props to the Druid for striking a blow against conspicuous consumption.
An uneventful trip to the city ensues. They deliver their prisoner to the castle and find an inn to rest in, still suffering from disease and poison. In the morning they meet Count Kird, paladin and Minister of War. He has a not unfavorable impression; after all, they've done for a fair number of monsters on their own initiative with relatively little damage to the realm. He cures their various ailments and pays them the tael value of the sorcerer as a reward. Sadly, as the more cynical ones had feared, the sorcerer will be facing a court trial rather than an immediate execution. This is going to come back to haunt them, and they all know it.
Kird wants to keep these guys on-side, since adventurers are always an asset to the realm, and having them on the border is a double-plus. He offers them the sorcerer's house as a base of operations. A few sheepish mumbles later, they confess the place was rendered collateral damage. Kird is not overly put off, but he does remark on how the house was essentially worth the price of a first-rank.
After only a day in the big city, perusing the markets and walking the streets, the party is eager to get away. Partly because they are village kids, but also because their Cleric is a heretic, their caster is a Wizard (instead of the nationally approved practice of fire sorcery), and their Barbarian is a loaded crossbow with a hair trigger. And also because the city is expensive.
They return to the village, where the innkeeper offers them a free room for as long as they like. After all, these kids just saved everybody... well, most everybody from a horrific death and the enslavement of their souls to a demon. They could have been a little quicker on the whole interrupt-the-demon-summoning ritual and reduced the body count, but nobody is impolite enough to mention it.
(And thus concludes The Devil's Handmaiden, a free adventure available on DriveThruRPG).
Now they are free to investigate the mysterious cave. Their first challenge is a rickety old ladder and a Cleric in armor with no Climb skill. He makes it down, but not without taking some of the ladder with him.
They follow a dark, damp, low tunnel under the lake and into a barrow. While investigating the decaying skeletons laid out on the biers, one sits up and bites the Druid in the face. A brief combat ensues with several animated but legless skeletons. The Barbarian very quickly figures out what Damage Reduction 5/Blunt means, and switches from sword work to shield-bashing.
This was a great moment where the rules really worked to drive a creative solution - and by our youngest player.
After this, they actually sit down and rest while two of them go back to town for more supplies. Rope and torches, mostly, but also a few spare hammers. How... heroic.
After three more rooms of increasingly functional skeletons and traps, they are low on health and spells, and decide to call a retreat. Wisely, they bring the Cleric up the ladder last; it does not survive the attempt (and he almost doesn't - at first level you can still die from a simple fall). The Ranger was prepared with a rope, so they winch their metal-clad mate out of the hole and troop back to the inn. Just another hard day of dungeon delving - such is the life of an adventurer.