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Subject: Tale of Two Parties - Chapter 1 (Light spoilers ahead) rss

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J Mathews
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Renton
Washington
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[Disclaimer/Note: I am writing this mostly as a way to see if the experiences of two groups playing in the same game world can create a cogent narrative. I am also hoping that this can be an effective way to communicate to the two groups what happened with the other group.

By "light spoilers" I mean that I am mostly concerned about exploring the characters and the story of how the session played out and less about the gameplay or scenario specifics. I will take narrative license where needed (because I don't want to track stuff during play) and will be trying not to be redundant with the story in the scenario book. Also, I won't be explicit or comprehensive in mentioning specifics of cards or real life. So in this scenario, the Orchid having a Battle Goal of Layabout or the fact that one of our group couldn't make it and we aren't sure what his character will be yet is left to the reader to infer. So while there are spoilers, they won't necessarily be explicit and you probably don't want to rely on my narrative to plan how you will approach a dungeon. Thanks for reading!]


Chapter 1
“Gaius Stoneheart,” said the mass of muscle sitting at the table in front of her, by way of introduction.

“I thought there was going to be two of you,” Lenka said in a suspicious tone to the hulking Inox. Surprises were never a good thing, particularly in places like the Sleeping Lion. Her Savvas companion grunted agreement. The Inox shifted irritably, “He said he wasn’t feeling good and he would meet us later.” This was an unpleasant development. It had taken the Orchid the better part of a week to hunt down what she hoped would be reliable help and this was not the start she had hoped for.

As she sat measuring her next words, a Valrath lady approached the table with a proposition for them to retrieve some stolen goods. The Inox looked across the table and then back at the Valrath and agreed, asking only for basic information. Not wanting to make a scene, Lenka held back and once again marveled at the impetuous way that the other races continually tried to find ways to make their already short lives even shorter. When the Valrath woman was gone, she coolly appraised the Brute and asked, “What was that about? Is your life worth so little that you are willing to spill it for a stranger on such little notice?” The Inox grunted, “Money is money and we’re a bit low at the moment. And if you had resources, you wouldn’t have come looking for us. We can get to know each other and get some loot while we’re at it. Then we can come back and talk more about what help you need. I assume you’re good in a fight if you survived in Gloomhaven long enough to talk with us.”

“I can handle myself. And the Cragheart here is scary when he’s angry.”

“Where’d you get it? And does it even talk?” The Brute nodded at the silent boulder sitting by the Orchid.

“His name is Ana-Ishi and I didn’t get him, he found me. And yes, he does talk but only when there’s something worth saying or someone worth saying it to.” Lenka was perturbed that she had let herself get irritated but she didn’t seem to have any better option than to help get those papers before being able to move on to things of greater importance to her. She still didn’t trust the Inox, but his words rang true about getting to know each other and about her current level of funds. She needed their help and she wanted to see if their reputation as the best swords to hire when one had no money was correct. The absence of the partner was troubling though. While the Inox had been easy to find, little was said or rumored about his partner and that unknown was at the forefront of her mind as they made to leave the inn. “This could be an ambush,” she thought. But if she had anything to lose, she would have been more worried. As it stood, only general caution was warranted

Finding the location to the hideout was the easy part but the Inox spent some time leaving messages for his absent partner in a few places on their way out of the city while ignoring the Vermiling and other scum scrabbling for a living in the dregs of Gloomhaven. Luckily the target was close and the night was clear. More than a hideout, the entrance looked like a hovel with a rotting sign marking the Black Barrow as a place with a name far more impressive than the place it represented. The Bandits hadn’t even bothered to leave any sentries to keep watch, speaking to either confidence or sloth. Hoping for the latter, Lenka motioned for the group to advance quietly. Pausing outside, the Inox unslung his sword, sniffing the air and quivering in anticipation of the upcoming battle. As always, the Savvas showed no discernable emotion but Lenka knew better than to be near him when the arrows started flying. There was too much instability around him when fighting but that chaos did help her efforts as a Spellweaver. It was a good relationship, just one better enjoyed at a distance in a fight.

In the dingy entryway of the Barrow, the mangy Guards lounged at ease. That changed quickly as soon as they saw the Inox bearing down on them. The Brute plowed into them and soon found himself facing off against three of them. The others briefly saw the Savvas and then nothing but dust as a swirling vortex of dirt engulfed them. When their vision cleared, they wished it hadn’t. The rock man had moved impossibly quickly and was much closer and far more terrifying than it had been from afar.

Cloaked, Lenka flicked magical attacks at the engaged opponents without directly engaging. She was impressed at the Brute’s ability to shrug off damage while dealing greater than he got. A bellow of pain from her left told her that Ana-Ishi had been wounded and she turned to help her companion. A few more bolts and the skirmish was over. The Bandits were down and bleeding.
---
Quickly Gaius rushed into the next room skidded to a stop, counting the numbers he saw in front of him. Glancing behind him, he realized that neither the Orchid witch nor that living statue was behind him. The Savvas was stumbling around trying to get his bearings. And the witch was focused in intense concentration. He didn’t like magic. Never seemed as reliable as his own blade. But it was handy in a fight, which is what he had on his hands now. His opponents didn’t seem as eager as his foes in the prior room to engage. They all took defensive positions and waited for him to rush them. Focused on him as they were, they never saw the Savvas charge into the room nor anticipated the betrayal of the ground beneath their feet that suddenly exploded. Never one to waste an opportunity, Gaius sprang into action and chopped down the Guard in front of him. Behind him he felt the rush of heat as magical flame rushed past his head to impact on the Archers in front of him, crumpling them.

As the Inox caught his breath, the room fell unearthly quiet. But that was short-lived as with a bellow, the Savvas bounded into the next room with surprising agility for one of his size. “Goddess, he can be terrifying,” a voice behind him said. The witch had come up behind him and with her drifted a creature of pure magic. More enraged bellows, followed by the crunching of bones echoed from the other room. “Maybe we should go see if there is anything left,” she suggested archly. Unnerved by the summon beside her, Gaius didn’t wait for another invitation and, bypassing the pits on the floor, advanced into the room to an unnerving spectacle. The Cragheart was leaping over a pile of musty bones and rushing towards a pile of documents on a table in the corner while shrugging off the ineffective arrows from some Archers huddled in the back of the room. Shuddering when he realized that the bones had no flesh on them and were still twitching, the Brute advanced on the Archers and cut them down.

With no more Bandits in sight, the Orchid moved towards the Savvas and they rummaged through the papers on the table. “Did you find it?” Gaius asked, approaching the table. “No,” rumbled the Savvas, shocking Gaius that the hulking rock finally said something he could understand. “This looks like Bandit plans to loot some ruins out east and not the stolen scrolls,” Lenka said in disgust. Just then noises from outside the room interrupted them and announced an unexpected arrival…
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Jim Parkin
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Stow
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Push Cubes. Blow Stuff Up.
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MIND. BLOWN.
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Keep it coming!
 
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Matt Mason
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Tulsa
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A great read. Please keep sharing your adventures.
 
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Thorkwin T.
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"A Tale of Gloom and Haven", great literature! Thank you Mr. Mathews, now I'm eagerly awaiting the first deep fantasy novel in the Gloomhaven universe!
 
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