This was one of those weeks where life intruded on just about everybody. As a result there were only three of us. This is when the strict use of time actually becomes extremely useful. During the campaign, I've insisted that the party be back in Headwaters at the end of every session and that for every two days that go by in real time, one day goes by in game time (giving us a week in game time between sessions). This house rule payed off this weekend, because it allowed the three of us to play with little effort. We merely came up with legitimate reasons why the other party members could not adventure and went about enjoying the rest of the evening.
Thus, Hamlin and Dn. Swibish decided to continue following up on the trade route rumors by attaching themselves to a caravan going to the city. They hoped to attract any raiders disturbing the trade and then follow them back into their lair. After some negotiations, they were set to begin their journey four days hence. They took advantage of the hiatus to go hunting in the Giant Insect Jungle. Due to judicious use of flaming oil and a dearth of good rolls on my part (nothing above an 8, including several 1s) our two stalwart adventurers managed to kill off an ankheg and loot its lair. They came away with a pile of semi-melted copper and silver which served as a nest for several intact eggs. They used the booty to order another set of chitin armor, several potions from the alchemist in trade for the eggs and managed to convince a local smith to smelt the huge hunk of silver and copper into coins.
Alidor informed the party that he had found a way to replace Grak's amputated forearm. He would require three things: a hunk of metal (the harder and more valuable the better), a smith who could forge the metal to his rigorous specifications and the bottle of silver liquid the party lost when they decided to take on the dragon. It was decided that silver from the ankheg lair would be used for this project, but the rest would have to wait until more members of the party were available.
Once the caravan headed out, the party set a trap for any raiders every night. They lit a fire and then set up a cold camp some 50 yards away in a blind. Thus, when the attack did come, they were able to ambush the raiders and take down what they assumed to be their leader very quickly with concentrated attacks. The rest failed their morale and ran. The "leader" turned out to be a 7' tall ape-like creature with claws and fangs.
The party then tracked the raiders back to an ancient Ziggurat covered in vegetation. They then proceeded to make raids themselves. I find it very interesting that this party has done very well at taking advantage of tactical situations and mechanics. They concentrate their attacks so as to take down larger opponents quickly, they use charges whenever possible and liberally shatter shields to avoid damage. To be honest, the reason for this is primarily because they've learned that if they don't, I will — they know how deadly an encounter can become if they get tactically lazy.
Although they did successfully defeat quite a few foes, including several humanoids and another ape, they did not explore all of the ziggurat and ran into a very large four-armed ape-like creature which was too much for the small party to handle. Our session time ran out and everybody headed back toward Headwater, including the merchant (who has turned out to be quite the coward).
During their travels, the party noticed a buildup of orcs at the ruined monastery. I'll be interested to see what the party chooses to do next session. Some of my vague background plots are beginning to move and I'm interested to see if the party picks any of them up.
9 hours ago