They were Weights & Measures agents for the Imperial Government, roles not particularly high on the scale of bureaucracy, though certainly high enough to command respect. Exams had to be passed in order to reach such positions of rank, and with the responsibility came the rights to inspect, to bear arms, to act on behalf of the Emperor in that particular portfolio. They were passing through Parangaricutiro on the way from somewhere to somewhere else.
Simon played the Magic User, Greg the Fighter and Pep the Thief (but later the Cleric when the three of them decided that clerical skills would be helpful). ROAD&D (Revised Original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) rules were used, and I actually used them, more or less. When there were attacks I rolled the d20 and made my friends roll as well. There were listen and spot checks; knowledge and awareness checks. Spell casting I ran a little fast and loose, but at all times I took A, G and P at their word. If they said they cast a spell then the spell was cast, even if they did not really mean to or were just thinking out loud.
This is the abbreviated record of the session.
1) The characters learned as much as they could in the village following the invitation by Baron Yenorra to enjoy his hospitality at his stronghold.
2) The stronghold was in the building of an old church which was the last standing structure in a lava field that consumed the surrounding city a few generations ago. The entire region was devastated by this event, reducing it from a prosperous province to a back-water. The lighthouse on the coast had been abandoned and occupied by a wrathful spirit. A few years ago Yenorra, along with a few followers, had come south from the wastelands and had set himself up as the new Governor of the region. He was now seeking official recognition in this role – something that the characters could not actually give, but their presence added to developing a position of legitimacy.
3) As night fell they followed a boy carrying a lantern along the road that meandered its way through the lava fields. To either side, the party were shadowed by creatures that Simon’s owl familiar described as man-wolves. When asked, the guide advised the party that they were safe if they stayed on the road. Pep promptly decided to break away from the main party, but wisely stayed on the path.
4) Using an invisibility spell, Pep entered the stronghold and saw the Baron. He was an impressive man in full armour, waiting impatiently for the party to arrive. Just as Baron Yenorra turned away, the invisibility spell expired and Pep popped into sight. “Yo, dude. What’s hanging?” he said (or words to that effect). In a flash, Yenorra performed a beautiful turning fast-draw, rolling a natural 20. The sword stopped on Pep’s character’s forehead, drawing blood but not reaching the bone. (Only a natural 20 saved him from being slaughtered then and there.) After a moment of repressed fury, Yenorra turned his back and stormed away.
5) Over dinner, which was held in a open courtyard surrounded by an artificial stream and decorated with hanging paper lanterns, the characters observed that the baron was a severe man who had perfect manners. While his associates seemed ordinary enough, he did not become drunk. His questions and answers were always perfectly composed.
6) Following dinner the baron invited the characters to a tall tower to enjoy the view. Here they saw the blasted landscape and the lights of the village. The baron pointed out the direction of the abandoned lighthouse and expressed his intention to get it working again. Then, at the close of the meeting he mentioned that he collected antiquities and that an old suit of armour was stored in that lighthouse. Alas, a banshie haunted that structure and his men were unable to enter. If the characters could recover the armour he would be eternally grateful. Quick knowledge checks found that no one had heard of any noteworthy armour of this description.
7) During the night, the characters overheard an argument between two servants. One wanted to impart some information. the other was too scared of the baron’s displeasure.
8 ) During the course of the next day the characters snooped and found their way to the cellar. There they discovered a statue that showed a saintly character slaughtering and skinning a demonic creature that bore an uncanny resemblance to Baron Yenorra. Astounded by this, Simon’s character investigated further and found a second statue that showed almost the same scene, but in this case the saint resembled the Baron. Amidst this confusion Pep’s character decided to summon the dead from one of the sarcophagi. The shade appeared, and while the characters discussed what they should ask, the venerable ghost complained about being disturbed and then, without having learned anything because they were too busy talking amongst themselves, the characters saw the ghost fade away. Suddenly, the Baron appeared at the top of the steps. He was again furious – apparently that magic had been cast in his house. But how did he know? It was clear that they characters had to leave.
9) At the lighthouse the next day they found that it was inhabited by a mouthy banshee. She abused the characters in jive and refused to cooperate with their questioning. Eventually they pieced together a story about defeating and skinning a demon and how she was now cursed to protect the skin. If it were recovered then the demon’s power would return in full strength.
10) After defeating the banshee (why so much violence?), the characters headed at top speed into the lava fields to find an open crevice into which the skin could be hurled and destroyed. The man-wolves homed in and Simon’s mage fire-balled them, stripping away their disguises to reveal that they were low-ranked demons. As Yenorra the demon and his troops encircled the party and prepared to destroy them, the thief (NPC) carried away the skin and threw it into a lava pit. As the skin shriveled and burnt, the demon was finally cast out from this plane, along with his minions.