Monday, 14 September 2009

Tricky situations: earning souls back and being captured

The last game session in our Labyrinth Lord campaign was a pretty tricky one to DM - or at least I thought it would be - as it involved the capture of the characters. I thought it would be tricky because no one likes to lose their freedom, nor their gear, nor to surrender to an enemy... especially if they believe they can beat that enemy. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here.

The party cleared out the spider city and brought the head of the queen back to Rendclaw, the Demonic Regent of the Darkened Hells who had previously claimed their souls as his own unless they performed this task for him. The downside to freeing ancient evils is that sometimes, they take things from you and make demands! On giving Rendclaw the queen's head, he relinquished their souls and gave the party a warning; that there was one down here in the Deep Dark that was amassing an army that threatened their surface world, one known as the Ghoul King. After that, in a thunderclap the Regent was gone.

The party took to their raft once more to attempt to sail out the cave lake and perhaps escape their cast underground place. Luck was not with them, however, for near a vast supporting column a trireme sailed towards their little amateur crystalline boat and they were hailed, being ordered to surrender their vessel. This is where the tricky part was. I had spent some time before hand wondering how this would go and thinking of alternate scenarios for how the party might react. Whoever was shouting at them from the deck of the larger vessel was ordering them to surrender to him.

They did not surrender. Because of this, their boat was shattered into pieces on meeting the trireme's battering ram at high speed. Nets were cast overboard from the trireme and the characters were hauled up out of the cold waters, and onto the main deck. Suddenly they were face to face with a literal skeleton crew, and again being told to surrender.

A brief amount of parlaying ensued, during which the party discovered that they were going to be taken to the ghoul king as slaves and then ritually sacrificed to become part of his army. Needless to say, the characters did not like this plan and did not surrender even when the captain of the boat said to them that there were fifty skeletons on the ship ready to fight them.

A fight did indeed ensue. Now the outcome of this was by no means certain. It *is* possible that the party could have overcome fifty skeletons... but pretty soon the party mage was out of mirrored images and running into major problems. He surrendered. A blade was put to his throat by one of the skeletons, forcing the rest of the party to also surrender. Their gear was taken from them, except for jewelry.

The warship headed sailed back to the large column, which became obvious as they approached that it was actually a tower. On a dock, a sort of exchange was seen, where skeletons handed over women to snakemen who in turn handed over men to them. The women were loaded onto another trireme which pulled away. Once their own ship was docked, the characters were frog marched off the ship while manacled together and thrown into a prison cell. Their equipment was taken somewhere else, further up the tower.

At this point, I was quite relieved. Probably the trickiest encounter in a number of sessions had gone off without many complaints at all. Now all the party had to do was escape and get their stuff back... which they managed to do by overpowering the ghoul guard when he entered their cell to paralyse them and soon after they found their sacks of gear. They freed the other slaves, some of whom are now fighting by their sides against the undead.

Overall I think we all had some good fun and the whole thing hopefully created a memorable experience. It's not everyday you get captured by a skeleton crew ;-)

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