An eventful day or two at the Guild of the Green Crane. It seems that I had only heard less than a tenth of the story – a dragon! Last week, some of our number slew a dragon! A small one, true, but even so. Already the name of our guild is becoming spoken in the market place and – rather more importantly – in the halls of potential employers. Our efforts are bearing fruit – even the business of repairing the damage to our building, as we make begin to act as a body with other groups in the city. Not that this is without its bad side: we have, embarrassingly, been burgled.
As an aside – we simply must organise ourselves better. We argued an hour over the resurrection of our fallen comrade, finally voted with near unanimity to have him resurrected – a result never in doubt, by the way – and still afterward our discussion continued! Astonishing! We had concluded the matter with a resounding Yea, and yet the matter was not concluded! As one of our number put it: “the amount of fail in this room is making my head hurt”. I think the only real problem is that no one of us felt they had the authority to actually go get it done. We deserved to be robbed, when we can’t work out a simple matter such as who is holding the purse.
And is it true that the only reason we don’t bank at House Deneith like most sane people is that certain of our number think that a dragonmarked house that handles millions of gold every day will “cheat” us? Astonishing! Let us abandon this strongroom notion forthwith! We have already lost to theft far more than we will pay in fees to the bankers. If our capital becomes sufficient, we may even begin earning interest.
The efforts of those of us who escorted the silver flame emissary have also had interesting consequences. The church invited us to form a team of five to participate in some sort of competition, to be held – well – next day. Last-minute notice indeed. Our team was myself, the axeman from last week, a gnomish sorcerer, a paladin, and the dwarf. A mix of members whom they had met and members they had not. A good idea. Our team was a little short on unusual skills; but enough, we thought, for a gladatorial competition. We should have brought more than just one with skill at making ranged attacks, and this cost us dearly.
After talking far too late, we scrambled to make the lightning rail, but all’s well that ends well. We slept in our compartment, and in the morn were at the grounds. With scant preliminaries, we were hustled through the competitor’s gate and taken to the ready room for our first battle.
I should pause to explain the rules of the competition. There were to be four rounds, sudden-death elimination. Fights would be until the opponent was disabled, but enchantments laid on the grounds should keep anyone from actually dying. Certain other enchantments on the grounds would refresh our ability to [heck, what’s an in-game way to say “daily powers”?]. But the day would wear us down – the restoration would not recuperate us as would a good night’s sleep [ie: we don’t get healing surges back]. So husbanding our efforts was very much part of the competition. In retrospect – there was still a chance of death, and it’s very odd indeed that the Church of the Silver Flame would take that risk for a mere entertainment, albeit that steps had been taken to mitigate that risk as far as possible. There’s more going on here than meets the eye.
Our first battle was against a mixed group, whom we met briefly in the ready room. Some of us greeted them courteously, some were … less courteous, although a certain amount of “sledging” is usual at games. They numbered a pair of warforged, a dwarf and a gnome. Two fighters, a healer, and a caster. We were teleported in to a cave system, and we rushed forward to secure a choke-point that we could defend. The other team had much the same idea, and we met them at a narrow point. I think we made a tactical error in doing so. As I mentioned, our party was melee-heavy. Blocking a choke point makes sense when you have archers at the back, but we did not – save our gnomish sorcerer companion. The battle did not go particularly well. Of our four fighters, three were able to attack, and one was left looking for a gap. Our foes tossed something over our lines, which unfolded into some sort of construct. We attacked and destroyed it, which proved to be a mistake, as it exploded. Eventually we broke through the enemy line (of two fighters) and got in amongst their casters. We were victorious, but it was not really a conclusive victory.
[I think someone died, but it was Saturday and I forget, now]
After being treated by the Silver Flame healers, we were ready to go and back in the waiting room. The next group were swarthy and dressed in the manner of the desert-dwellers of the south. These were even more closed-mouthed than the last group, answering neither our courtesies or our insults. The teleport took us to a building – a mocked up taproom. It seems we were to engage in a bar-fight. This group made use of stealth and misdirection, leaping out of windows, hiding under tables and striking from cover, using illusions. The battle was one of attrition – I think we had each lost two from our team when they yielded. They had simply run out of healing. In truth, we were ragged also. We won because their will broke – which is an important lesson in itself.
Our third battle was to be against a group of woodsmen, numbering at least two archers. A real worry. In our brief discussion we concurred that our only tactic was to rush them before they could fill us each with deadly missiles. We were teleported to another cave and in the chamber beyond: a wonder! A wood had sprung up, and in its center a great tree reaching to the ceiling. This wood was clearly magical, and the tactics of the other team became all too plain: for it is the nature of such magics that they hinder your foes and not your allies. The bowmen were at a great advantage. We all scooted across to hide behind a column in the cave when – disaster! Our gnome sorcerer had not quite moved himself out of view with respect to the very edge of the wood. The bowmen, having no other target, all sent a volley at him and felled him immediately. Our comrade was doen and – more importantly – we had no way to make ranged attacks at all.
[we all owe the player (sory about names, I honestly am dreadful) sympathy – he had to sit there for an hour and a half while we played this out]
There was nothing left for it. We advanced, saw the archers within the wood, and battle commenced.
[apologies to the DM, here – I added my passive perception to the roll instead of my perception bonus. By rights, we should have stumbled around that wood attempting to find the archers, and we would have been creamed.]
We began to attack. Someone laid an enchantment on me – a great whirlwind. Should I move, all of my allies would be knocked to the ground. “Don’t move!” called my allies, and so I did not. I just stood there, calling encouragment as best I could. (I simply must purchase a bow at next opportunity). In retrospect, not moving was bad tactics. Being prone is no difficulty at all when you are facing archers, and with me immobile and our sorcerer out of the fight, we were reduced to three against five. Bad odds.
The fight was rough going. The very wood itself conspired to trip us and block our sight. Then one of us began to count – one, two, three, four foes … but what of the teams of five? “The tree! The tree is their fifth party member!” And so it was. We attacked the tree itself and it changed and stood revealed as a warden of the wood, a powerful foe. It took time to reduce him, while all along the archers were picking us off. Finally we agreed that I should move – the knock-down be damned, and so I did, and entered the fight. Another target for the archers, if nothing else, while better warriors than I continued the battle.
We defeated the warden, and I think one other, but another of us fell, and another became unable to fight – I forget the details. I alone was left on my feet, facing three foes – two of them archers. It was my unhappy duty to offer surrender on behalf of our team. And so we were out of the competition.
Watching the final battle from the comfort of the stands, I reconciled myself to our loss. After all – these teams train all year, and devise tactics specifically for these fights. We were a group of five hastily thrown together and made it to the semi-finals. In all, not a bad showing. If I have learned anything besides “don’t fight on your enemy’s preferred turf”, it is that curative potions are a very, very worthwhile investment; that making a foe unable to fight is as good as killing him; and that it’s best to fight with a weapon that you know how to use.
And it seems the Church of the Silver Flame agreed. After having recovered the body of Sir Garran, they had decided on a reward for our guild. But first we were to be put to the test. Why, I do not know – I will not speculate about their internal politics. In any case, as third prize at competition we received a bronze cup which even now graces our hall, and bronze medals each for a memento. But for the recovery of Sir Garran, we were gifted with a wondrous item! A banner which, when held aloft in combat, magically – well, to be frank does something or other. I confess that as I write this I do not know. But no matter! The banner perhaps should be held in common, as many of us won it.
As to our immediate future: perhaps we should get on and make some money – foresight and long-term thinking is all very well, but fame is not a worthwhile thing in itself: point of winning renown for our guild it is to win better commissions and so to make a living. For now, if it’s caravan guarding, cleaning out monster lairs for a fee, or plain mercenary work: so be it.
Until I write again, I am,