April 28th, 2013
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Dryst, halfling wizard (257 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (251 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (294 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (346 points)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (292 points)
We started out in town, with folks gathering rumors and doing some shopping, mostly for magical nicknacks and potions (always in too-small of a supply). They heard some interesting rumors, too - a bit about zombie rot, a disease you can get from corpses that turns you into a zombie, some cone-hatted guys asking about travelers (yeah, old news now), and the disbelief from a guy about their last encounter. He scoffed at them meeting a big blue ogre and two boars - yeah, right, you met the Lord of Spite, pull the other one, he mocked. Hmm . . . Lord of Spite? they thought. Interesting. But they didn't feel like they needed to expend any resources on that right now.
In the meantime, we resolved Galen's downtime plans - he'd decided to find some places to watch the top of Felltower and scout, from a position of maximum safety, to see who comes and goes. He saw a lot:
- two groups came up from town. One a group of 5, the next nearly 15 guys, including some from the first group. The first group noodled around in the above-ground ruins but avoided the castle. The next searched the castle for a bit - Galen didn't see them leave so he wasn't sure they all returned.
- orcs. A group of 20 orcs and an ogre, fairly well armed (leather, some mail, swords, bows, axes, spears, etc.) and decorated with tribal fetishes and having at least one witch doctor or shaman type with them, showed up a few times. They would come at night, seach around, and lay low during the day. They concentrated mostly on the burned ruins, but occasionally looked into the castle ruins too. No sign of them going into the dungeons. Over two weeks they came three times, staying a few days each time, and clearly were looking for something although they didn't seem to get the idea of a concentrated search pattern.
- the orcs are coming in from the north/northwest, from the valleys and lesser peaks north and northwest of Felltower. That matches a lot of rumors they'd heard.
After this, it was time to plan the expedition ahead in earnest.
We gathered pretty early, but the players decided the goal of the day was to a) un-petrify and loot the statues of their cultist ambushers once and for all, and b) deal with the druagr. How to do b) is short in the telling, but very long in the playing - over two hours of real time spent in discussion, planning, consulting of books, hiring of sages and discussing his answers, etc.
They eventually came up with a plan involving flammable oil (the sage said, like many corporeal undead, they are vulnerable to fire), alchemist's fire (to ignite it), and magically creating earth and turning it into a stone wall complete with arrowslits behind which they could stage their attack. Also, they knew the druagr need to rest 8 hours a day in their tomb, so they decided to try waking them up, keeping them up with harassing arrow fire, and then going after them after 16 hours elapsed and they were dormant. They also had some ideas about trying to seal the sacrophogi, destroy the sarcophogi, light the druagr on fire one at a time, and more.
So at long last they headed out, plans in mind. The crossed the (murky and polluted) Silver River via Stone Bridge, saw the statueof Sterick at Sterick's Landing, and went out of the growing slums (people moving in displacing the poorer folks within the walls) and up the mountain. At the top of the mountain, they set up camp and then sent their scouts to try to spot any orcs in ambush - nope. None were in residence.
Next they headed into the dungeon, not bothering with any other entrance except the one in the well, that they'd bashed open and later visitors had exposed inside the dungeon by spiking open its secret entrances. It was full of damp leaves, dirt, etc. but otherwise unchanged. No sound of gonging, though, so someone found a way to stop it.
They dropped down and headed toward the odd-shaped room with the trapdoor on the floor. They got as far as the secret doors but couldn't budge the first one open. Some investigation revealed it had been magically shaped shut. They decided to go around another way. So they started down a "new" corridor. They found a previously undiscovered room (or at least one they'd never bothered to check). All that was inside were a dozen piles of moldering old clothes. Their usual magical servants kicked the piles, then dug through them. All they got out of it were a lot of insect bites. They left the room and circled around back to it trying to make their map line up - eventually, they did.
They checked the room again, this time moving the clothes (the servants, again) and tapping the far wall. No, nothing.
More exploration of nearby areas revealed something that, to my great amusement, they'd missed over and over - the well entrance dropped them onto level 1 right next to the stairs down to level 2. They'd been going the long way down to level 2, basically, and the long way back because they wouldn't come up to level one "so far" from their way out. Some exploration showed them how close they are to level 2. They weren't done trying to fill their map in with connections to previously explored areas, though. They found the old "goblin barracks" room they'd encountered long before. This time the door was wedged tightly shut with a heavy wooden wedge from outside. Dryst magically whipped up a mallet for Vryce who bashed it aside in a couple of heavy swipes. They opened the door and sent in the servant with a lightstone, and then Vryce and Raggi went in. They saw some spearheads and arrowheads on the floor, but nothing else. Just as soon as I started to say "suddenly . . ." Dryst said "check the ceiling!" He did, but too late - a jelly-like grey blob dropped on each of Vryce and the servant. The servant dropping, smoking and hissing and whimpering, while the leather straps on Vryce's bag and sword sheath started to smoke from the grey ooze-like thing that dropped on him. Chuck Morris dashed some water on it but nothing happened. So Vryce reached up and grabbed it to try to pull it off. He did, strangely - it was fairly "solid" but oozy - sort of jellyfish-like. Then it started to ooze up his arm and corrode his glove. He backed out of the room, they closed the door, and someone (Christoph? Chuck Morris?) dumped a container of flammable oil on Vryce's arm and the ooze together. Galen struck up a spark quickly with his flint and steel and lit it up. Woosh! The ooze started to burn, and so did Vryce. Once the ooze came off, Vryce smacked out and rolled out the fire. He took a mild burn but nothing else. Galen determined they were some variation of a reek - an oozy creature that eats anything organic, and spawns new reeks from what they kill and dissolve.
They briefly debated trying to capture a reek to throw at the druagr, but they gave up when they realize the plan wasn't as-yet workable.
They went back to the stairs down to level 2 and down. They wound their way to the illusionary-wall covered smoke-filled stairway room, sent in a servant ("I see only smoke") and then went in. Dryst cleared the smoke with a spell and they rested . . . but the smoke steadily came back, forcing them to go ahead or back. They advanced into the druagr area.
(All of the above took some hours, but nothing wandering up to die on their swords)
What they did next boiled down to this:
- build their wall - a few feet thick, with two arrowslits, floor to ceiling, and about 18" clearance on either side to allow their normal-sized folks (including Vryce) to just squeeze by.
- send in a servant. This woke up the druagr, and they assembled in ranks. The PCs waited until they dispersed.
- send in a servant, this time with a flask of oil. The druagr got up and formed ranks.
(All of the above took hours, including rest times)
- Have Vryce squeeze ahead of the barrier, facing the Druagr. He launched a flask of oil at one of the druagr and hit, breaking it on its shield as it blocked. And they instantly charged!
They charged right past what the PCs had thought might be their limit of movement. Nope. They got in and attacked Vryce. He desperately backed up and squeezed alongside the barrier as Galen and Christoph shot at the druagr. They mostly blocked, but a few arrows stuck into them with no really obvious effect - they're all head to toe in mail, but some damage clearly got through. The ones after Vryce, though, got a few easy shots on him with Committed Attack and hacked him - both random, both hit the leg. Both crippled it, trapping a stunned and now crippled Vryce in the 18" between the wall and the safe side of the barrier. He kept getting hacked, as Chuck Morris moved up and pulled him to safety.
Druagr moved to block the arrow slits with their oversized shields, but Galen was having none of that. He stepped up on the rim of his side of the arrow slit and shot over the shield into the pot helm of the druagr doing it. He hit once but it pinged off the helm. Christoph shot the hand of a druagr trying to reach his big sword around the barrier on the other side, doing no damage but convincing it to pull it back. The group fell back, and Dryst lit the whole place up with Create Fire, filling the whole front half of the room.
The druagr broke off immediately, fleeing through the fire to the safety of the far end of the room. A few backed up, covering the rest, and then ran after they were far enough into the flames to be covered by smoke.
The PCs waited. The fire burned down (they couldn't keep it up), the druagr took up positions, and they watched each other. They realized that:
- some druagr formed a line, but some went back to sleep!
- other druagr had crept around the edges of the funnel-like entranceway, out of the line of site of folks in the arrow slits, and tried to stab around the barrier to nail Galen and Christoph. It didn't work, but it backed off the PCs.
This is more or less where it ended up. They fed a nearly dead Vryce potions until he got back up (his cripple was temporary). Then a side trip out of the druagr area to the dust-filled corridors of the burial urns (they couldn't rest there, too dusty), then a rest in a nearby empty room nearly within firing range of the fire-men (safe from wandering monsters) to regain fatigue and eat. After that, another check on the druagr (back in their tombs, mostly, but a servant sent in was killed from ambush).
The group headed back to the second-floor entrance to the "tween levels" area, with the gonging trapdoor. Uh-oh, someone magically sealed it shut. So they went all the way around to the other end. It was closed, and Vryce determined it was weighted down somehow, because it wouldn't move. So 10 minutes or so and a lot of Chuck Morris punching later, and the trap door "plug" broke and fell down . . . revealing that someone filled the tunnel above with solid rock. Grr, they said, this Earth mage is annoying and better at this than us.
They decided to make one last try for cash - they'd expended a lot of stuff, for nothing so far. Seek Earth on gold revealed some 200-250' away and down, to their right. They decided this was in the dusty burial urn place and went there. Another Seek Earth revealed the nearest gold was straight down some 70'. They boggled at the mismatched results, realized they couldn't find anything (it was getting late), and headed to the surface.
It was night, so they headed out carefully. They heard an animal sound cut off suddenly, and went to investigate. Galen spotted a child-sized, maybe a bit bigger, figure bolting away from some ruins and then dropping out of site. They split up - non-scouts in the middle, scouts to either flank, and went to investigate.
They found a strangled deer, of all things, just dead. And a lot of three-toed, clawed, smaller-than-man-sized footprints. They tracked them by moonlight and magical light to the poison ivy covered entrance they'd found before. After that, they headed back to town.
(I forgot to say in the session, they'd need to camp outside - gates are locked at night, no exceptions. But it's safe enough. The growing slums are dangerous, but even crazy-desperate folks stay away from the likes of the party if they can.)
- zero treasure today. Zilch. Too much time on planning, and then trying to execute, a plan to get the one druagr they've been offered a reward to recover. Well, whose remains and grave goods they need to recover.
In any case, the druagr ate up at least 80% of the session time, at least. By the time it came to seeking treasure, there wasn't time to really pursue it.
- the players asked me to include ration replacement in their upkeep to simplify matters, so I'm going to figure it out and add it in.
- they're still relying on IQ 9, Per 9 Create Servant spell entities as their scouts. This is okay for springing traps, but it does mean they're getting no real advanced warning of, well, anything. And possibly missing things the doltist and despressive servants just won't notice. But it does mean door traps don't work on them.
- the players are convinced, perhaps rightly, that they can't take 33 elite druagr bodyguards in a straight fight. So they're scheming to find a clever way to take them one at a time, just snatch the one they want, destroy their sarcophagi, keep them awake until they go dormant, etc. They don't want to deal with it as a straight fight, which is fine, but isn't really working. At least it hasn't yet.
All in all, a fun session, even if it wasn't a productive one for the PCs. Better luck to them next time!
And special thanks to Emily aka Bruno for making me some druagr cardboard heroes.