“Ok, you prepare to attack with your sword and…. let’s stop there for the night.”

Last night marks the first time that I have ever ended a weekly game during a battle. Not hardly ideal but time had been creeping up on us and before we realized it 10:30pm rolled around and players started turning into pumpkins. The bard and one of the rogues were the first to abandon the game, followed by the druid who was gradually slipping into a coma due to lack of sleep. But it had been a rousing game and well worth the quality time of seven people enjoying each other’s company.

The story to this point is that the players are doing what they can to help out a rather sinister woman named Malindra who needs something retrieved from beneath the ruins of a castle. What precisely the something is has yet to be firmly established but it represents a great deal of wealth to the woman. This has caused no end of speculation as to what they are after, but the players have pretty well solved that riddle without even realizing it. And the only reason they are helping get the trove back to the sinister woman is because the players were the ones that (inadvertently) destroyed the castle in the first place. Oh, and they had killed Malindra’s sister in the process, so to avoid any vengeful tactics the players opted to “do a night hag a favor, yo” and with any luck at all allow the creepy dame to leave this particular plane of existence once and for all.

In the course of all of this there is a hint of the Diosian Lodge’s bony, death-stricken fingers prodding about in the chaos. The Viceroy has made a deal with malindra to open up a portal in exchange for some of the buried wealth beneath the castle, a portal to allow Malindra to flee this place with the bulk of her coveted “whatever-the-hell-it-is.” Not only is it likely that the Viceroy himself is floating about (literally floating, a green and yellow orb about the size of a basketball) watching the players try and sort out how to retrieve the loot for Malindra, but there was two incidents last night of there being another curious onlooker in the form of the man in the tall hat. This delightful specter has a habit of turning up at the most inopportune times and while their motives are as murky as chocolate buttermilk it is clear that they are up to no good. Oh, and did I mention the three harpies circling the ruined castle, cackling in the unnatural darkness of a land blighted by pure naughtiness? Because that’s happening, too.

The druid went ahead of the group to try and find out what the dickens they are even looking for. She is able to transform into animals now, having rocketed through the levels of her character by virtue of being the groups only dedicated spellcaster. By flying to the ruins as a bird, and then transforming into a mouse to work her way through the rubble, she was able (during several hours worth of time sped through in game) to locate what seems to be the beginning of a dungeon complex simply filled with a dread sense of doom. A good dungeon always has a dread sense of doom. Yankee Candle actually makes a scented candle for the very purpose. The druid was smart enough to not explore on her own, and made her way back to the ruined city above to try and help the other players as they fought a small legion of undead hobgoblins.

The ranger, paladin, and a couple of warrior-like NPC characters were busily slaughtering the undead hobgoblins while the two thieves and the bard investigated the fellow in the tall hat. They managed to drive him off, and then turned their attention to helping the warrior types in the brawling. And this is where we stopped. Damn near gave myself whiplash coming to such a sudden halt. We still have 400 or more of these undead hobgoblins to kill!

I can’t wait to see what happens next…