Archibald the Malevolent (deceased?)
Last night's session, while not as much of a landmark as landmark as session 11, was immensely enjoyable. Barley Brownbeard's player was absent and therefore the party consisted of...
Ffraid -- the quiet cleric of the Old Gods
Roger Le Douche -- Uptight Paladin and scion of the Le Douche family
Pillsen -- egotistical and cowardly magic user
Slimey -- brother to the deceased Slick and thief extraordinaire
I was, for the first time in a long while, able to observe the rule of one game week paces for each real week that passes between forays. During that week, Pillsen used his last bit of coin to party like it's 999, but unfortunately he was unable to pay his debts and landed in a cell in the reeve's manor. Unfortunately for Pillsen, a number of mercenaries from Lichgate have taken over the town in order to weed out the pagans who have been causing the recent disturbances in the region (read: the party). They refused to release him until a ransom of 6,000 gold coins was payed to Eckhard, the new governor of the village. Since none of the party members could afford such a hefty fine, they decided to pursue other methods of freeing their companion.
Ffraid sought out a few hirelings to bolster their numbers, and she took on a simpleton named Fred as a linkboy and a magician named Archibald the Malevolent. This immediately concerned Roger Le Douche who went about getting references from the townsfolk for this nefarious character. He discovered that Archibald was also known as the baby basher and the guard boiler, which concerned the paladin even further. He decided to rally the guard to capture this fiend.
In the meantime, Slimey was planning with Archibald to both rescue Pillsen and to make it appear as though Eckhard and the captain of the guard were more than close friends (thus compromising the two men in the eyes of the Church). Ffraid, for her part, ended up with Roger when it became clear that Archibald was nothing but trouble.
Unfortunately for Slimey, Roger was able to uncover his plan and foil it before Pillsen could be freed. Archibald received an arrow in the throat for his trouble. For his help, Eckhard released Pillsen into Roger's company on the condition he pay his fine with any gold pieces he finds in the dungeon. Roger managed to negotiate the fine down to 300 gold pieces, since it was quite obvious that 6,000 was far more than the crime warranted. Roger now worries that Eckhard may be corrupt. Slimey was not taken into custody, as Roger believed he would be a good influence on the thief if they were allowed to adventure together.
The party then set out for the abbey, noting that the alien weeds that grow in the surrounding bog were gaining new life, despite the fact that it was only the end of January. They decided to investigate a number of passages Slick had explored on his own before meeting his untimely end. There they found a tomb containing a number of sword brothers. Roger said a prayer over their bodies, but when he did so a horrible moan echoed from further down the chamber. They soon found that the tomb was guarded by a sentient undead creature who called himself simply "The Guardian of the Tomb."
Luckily for the party, they were separated from the Guardian by a large pit trap that Slick had triggered during that earlier expedition. Roger asked why, if the creature was here to guard sacred relics, why even the most basic of prayers injured it. The creature responded to Roger's question by noting that Roger knew little of the Sword Brothers if he thought their possessions were sacred. This confused Roger's player, and I clarified by saying the Sword Brothers had descended into devil worship before the destruction of the Abbey. I wish I hadn't done this as I could have let it come through as they explored the structure, but what's done is done.
While talking with the Guardian, the party discovered that a number of bandits had gathered nearby and were spying on them. The party asked what they were doing and the bandit leader said "We're robbin' you!" Roger kindly asked if they would wait until the party had dealt with the Guardian, and seeing the wisdom in that the bandits kindly left the party to their business (reaction rolls are odd things).
At this point, Roger stated that he was doing a better job of guarding the tomb than the Guardian himself. This prompted the Guardian to say "why don't you come over here and say that." "Well why don't you come over here?" Roger responded. At that point Slimey began relieving the tombs of their contents which caused the Guardian to teleport to their side of the pit and initiate combat. The combat was short and fierce, but Ffraid was able to sever his head with her as yet unnamed magical sword. Fred had fled into the pit, and it was quite difficult to coax him out without scarring him, but after some convincing he rejoined the party.
Roger then discovered that Slimey had tied his feet together using twine, which greatly irritated the paladin, but Slimey assured him he had done this before combat was initiated. If he felt that they were in danger he never would have done such a thing.
The party found that the tomb ended in a dead end; however a comment the Guardian had made caused the party to search for secret doors. They found one which lead to a passage that either traveled above other passages they had been exploring or revealed inadequacies in their current map or both. Upon coming to the end of the passage they found it connected to the alchemist lab they had discovered earlier, and they decided to go and investigate a passage they had left alone on their previous expeditions. Slimey also took this time to use some of the decaying goblin corpses to torment Fred, much to Ffraid's chagrin.
While preparing to go down that passage, a number of deer-headed Orcs erupted from a neighboring hallway, but they did not seem immediately hostile. We left the session with the party in intense negotiations (Roger and Slimey could both speak the orc's vile tongue), and we will pick it up there next time.
This was the first session that saw the use of miniatures on a large scale, and the players seemed to enjoy it. Slimey's player owns literally thousands of minis (every one WotC produced before 4e came out and even a few from after). It may have slowed things down a tad, but I think the players liked it and so we will continue to use them. It'll be an excuse for me to paint some, and that's always a good thing.
I've also fallen back into my groove as far as being a hammy DM goes, and I did quite a bit more voices than I have in previous sessions.
EDIT: I'm not sure how many more times the players are going to use the carousing table, as they've seemed disappointed with it both times it's been employed.