Week two rolled on around, and I have to admit I’d completely forgotten about it until about half an hour before it was due to start. Let’s chalk the flexibility of on-line collaboration as a win for the system right there, in that I was able to finish eating, watch some TV with Lady M and get everything hooked up well in time for the main event.
I hooked up the new web-cam (an HP Webcam HD 2300, if anyone’s interested), and ran a quick check through Skype that it was running okay and wasn’t clashing with the laptop’s integrated microphone – before logging on. I’ve not got round to subscribing to the service yet so I get a small delay in logging in for a couple of site-specific adverts, but that’s alright at this point. Probably once I’m back from honeymoon I’ll sling a few quid their way and see what else unlocks.
The Story so far: A fantastic land is riven by war with invading Orcish armies, and several magical artifacts are endangered because the temples in which they are kept have been overrun. These artifacts are the key to maintaining all sorts of magical balance in place, and so all manner of evils from other planes are now able to creep through the cracks in the world and murderise innocent people/cancel Christmas/make puppies look sad. Our intrepid heroes – all experienced adventurers – have been called together to make clandestine missions into the contested invasion zones to retrieve these objects of power to save the world.
Last week, the mighty heroes travelled to a town near the invasion forces only to find that a sneak landing had left the town besieged while an enemy army tried to gain access to the magically sealed temple. The mighty warriors took a tactical glance at the situation, said “bugger that” to making a show of force to break the siege, and instead smuggled the town’s survivors away under cover of night and some strategic breaking of heads. They then approached the hidden valley containing the temple, knowing that this was probably not going to be an easy fight…
The crack strike force (numbering about thirty odd people by the time we factored in hirelings, followers and assorted hangers-on) found the hidden valley. At some point we’re going to have to find a formal name for this bunch of hooligans as I’m running out of ways to say “the party”. Consisting of a circular vale with a thick forest in the middle, and a temple by a lake at the far end, the area contained a distressingly large number of humanoid troops. These were stationed around the woods, in particular watching the main route into the valley. This would have been inconvenient had the group not decided to climb the foothills instead to come at the valley from another direction. (yes, we’re one of THOSE groups). Scouting revealed that a particularly large giant with an unpleasant axe was busy pounding on a forcefield surrounding the temple entrance, accompanied by a number of troops.
The obvious decision therefore was to sprint from the cover of the hills to the edge of the forest and work our way through. You can probably imagine the fun to be had getting thirty odd characters to half-sneak, half-run across open terrain. It was very…Scooby Doo… Safely under cover though, the group was able to make its way across the valley, bypassing the troops, the more mystically and religiously aware among them realising that the forest was helping them, and was rather annoyed about the invaders.
An initial force of goblins and orcs was encountered on the far edge of the woods and swiftly dealt with. That was last week.
This week’s shenanigans carried on from there, mopping up a few last stragglers and then working out how to deal with the giant and his troops. The general alarm had not been raised, so the hope was to be able to sneak through and back out, leaving the so-far unencountered groups non the wiser. The battle had not gone unremarked by the giant however, so pretty soon he and his troops were heading in the adventurers’ direction.
The group decided to remain within the woods to take advantage of cover, so the faster moving monks and lighter warrior types moved to (hopefully) flanking positions while the more heavily armoured fighters and troops made it obvious where they were. The group’s wizard turned invisible and everyone crossed their fingers.
The tactic of letting the invaders approach worked to break up the units, so battle was joined by the mighty warriors while the priest of the group spent his time conducting a ritual (and coincidentally killing off captured goblins to tie up loose ends – something that caused a degree of discussion along the lines of “haven’t you got anything better to do? Like help with this battle?”). It was a masterclass in how to successfully run a battle without ever actually discussing coherent tactics.
The warriors pounded the main force of goblins. The skirmishing monks harried the flanks of the orcs who were commanding the goblins using signal whistles. The giant began throwing stones – and then the wizard appeared out of thin air and conjured a fireball that really put a crimp in the invaders’ day. While the rest of the party paused to check they still had all their limbs intact, the cleric finished his ersatz ritual and called out to the spirits of the wood to aid them in the battle – releasing the living trees/treants/Ents inhabiting the woods to – well, stomp to be honest – the invading army.
It all got a bit messy, but the upshot was that the mighty heroes were able to retrieve the magical object from its resting place, and retreat to civilisation to hand it back to its owners ahead of their next mission.
We didn’t really have any technical issues aside from occasional sound/feedback from someone’s setup – though one of our group had to suddenly log off because his wife “broke the kitchen” (her words, not his). No network issues seemed to rear their heads – possibly because we’re not really using macros or scripts. It’s really quite a rough and ready approach, but as we’re all pretty familiar with the system it works pretty well so far.
So there we are. Roll on week three!