Tonight was the climax of the Millhouse Saga. Rushing to the porch of the white house, the adventurers found flames all around, the guardsman they'd posted there beating out his burning clothing (miraculously, he survived), and the Orange Goblin and a hooded figure high-tailing it out of the compound - the Goblin weighed down by a medium-sized chest he was toting on his crooked back.
The party at first decided to let them go, but after extinguishing the flames and fending off the ivy tendrils that still danced to the arrhythmic grinding of the millstones, decided to give chase. Doing a foot chase betwen two parties of equal speed is a tough job. I ended up rolling DEX checks for the fastest runner, the NPC woodsman Burnsteen, being helmed by the player of the militant who got KO'd and ear-gouged by the Orange Goblin, and giving him an extra d6 roll against his wilderness skill - each passed check meant a 10 foot gain. Meanwhile the other two were rolling DEX as well. After some six rounds of this I also started rolling STR checks for stamina. It was fun, especially when the hooded figure turned around to cast Gust of Wind and Force Shield spells to try to confound pursuit, but it was all ultimately preordained as the law of large numbers caught up to the villains.
(If anyone has a better or more conclusive chase procedure than the one I winged up please let me know!)
bone meal plot. The Goblin, who'd dropped the chest a long time ago, turned to fight as well. After a short combat with better party rolling than the previous two debacles, it was all over for the bad guys. A search of the sorcerer revealed some jewelry, a dagger of virtuous steel, and a fearsome black book. The dropped chest was looted of coins, and it was back to the millhouse to try and stop the grinding stones.
The door to the millstone room was open, and a horrific sight within - the rotating stones engraved with silver-chased runes of ominous portent, and smeared with a foul-smelling slurry of blood, bone fragments and chunks. Fortunately, Grumpka the dwarf did extremely well figuring out the mechanism, and a well-placed spear shut down the grinding. A hole in the wooden floor revealed a cellar with something amorphous, neither plant nor animal, covered with tentacles, mouths and eyes; it scuttled away from the torchlight and nobody seemed up for descending. In the next room over was a pillar-like statue of a dense and unfamiliar black wood carved with sinister braids and half-tortured, half-laughing faces, next to a strangely hypnotic rug. Searching the other buildings revealed various mundane treasures, and a rotten top floor that sent Grumpka plunging to land among (luckily, not on) the wounded in the room below.
It was then decided to stop messing around, and gather kindling for a torching of the accursed millhouse, pyre also for the bodies of sorcerer and goblins. In trying to appropriate a barrel for fire control, Grumpka (like everyone else, down to a last few HP) and the captain of the guard came face to, um, eye with a barrel beast courtesy of my Varlets & Vermin selection. Fortunately, the thing was quickly enough put down and the house burned down to blackened timbers in hours. With a mighty crash the demonic millstones fell into the cellar - but ominously, the pillar still stood, unharmed by the fire.
This was the first really successful session, with nobody KO'd, foes defeated, and a decent if not spectacular haul of treasure. Party members are at about 500 xp - we'll have to see if I stick to 2000 as a level-up figure or show some mercy. They could really use the insurance of another hit die ... but good things don't come easy!
Also, props to my wife for surprising me with a custom Roles, Rules & Rolls DM screen for my upcoming birthday! Photos soon.