June 8th, 2013
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Dryst, halfling wizard (259 points)
John McShieldly, human shieldbearer (62 point NPC)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (251 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (346 points)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (296 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (292 points)
Unfortunately, the players of Borriz, Honus, Christoph, and Galen couldn't make it. Neither could our new recruit (who'll start someday, hopefully.) So we were pretty short today - lucky for the group, they easily made the 12 or less roll to see if Raggi was there. He'd had a profitable trip last time, so he was celebrating.
The group gathered some rumors - one about how it's bad luck to kill a wizard (but good luck to capture one), and how this really nice gnome came to town to buy supplies (food, poison, caltrops, tripwires, needles, etc.) and bought a few rounds for the folks (reminding them of their trap-laying gnome "friend"). They also heard that there is a place in the dungeon where down is up and up is down, and that some monsters just form out of the darkness - snap - just like that.
They got their supplies and got down to business. Vryce got his fine sword enchanted, finally, laying out 5K to get it to Puissance +1, which is what is necessary to kill some creatures they've encountered. This would prove to be a life-saving enchantment this session. Dryst put out the coin to keep himself upkept in Dwarven rations, with also saved his life. They got Raggi, Chuck Morris, and a John McShieldy (same guy from last time) and headed up the mountain.
They went in via the bugbear tunnels from last time, crawling in through them on all fours once more. This time nothing molested them. They emerged into the dungeon proper and headed to a hallway they didn't check last time. It turned out to lead to an odd L-shaped room they'd visited long, long ago. It had some copper coins on the floor - they tried to grab them via a servant but he died when he touched them. They left them alone after that.
Next they burst into a room loaded with gargoyles, with a 25' arched ceiling. The gargoyles attacked, even as Chuck Morris asked to speak to their leader. They cawed and attacked. What resulted was a long brawl, in real terms and in game terms. It took at least an hour and a half to resolve the fight because of all fighters crammed into a small space and the tactics of the gargoyles (who tried and succeeded in drawing the group out, thanks to Raggi's impetuousness.)
But last time the gargoyles inflicted a lot of harm with no real casualties, since they couldn't be slain by the party members. Not this time - although there were more gargoyles (11 altogether, including their Ravenous fanged leader) the party had two fighters with magical weapons. That was enough to deliver actually killing blows. The gargoyles gave as well as they could but their claws, fangs, horns, and tails couldn't deliver real harm to any of the front line fighters. Chuck Morris got dumped on his butt after critically failing an acrobatic dodge, but quickly regained his feet to fight. They only occasionally managed a dive-bomb slam or a weapon hit. Dryst tried lightning but only mildly injured one, shocked himself with his own lightning in what was one of many critical spell failures this session, and then resorted to Great Haste on Vryce. Chuck Morris managed to get in a few really nice shots (he does 2d+8 cutting) but with a non-magic weapon he was really forced into an assistance slugging role.
Finally after a long fight half of the gargoyles went down, and the rest fled. Raggi slumped unconscious (he'd been badly wounded by a few weapon blows from armed gargoyles) and Vryce used his haste to drop his sword (it's lanyarded to his off-hand), ready a sling, then load it and drill the gargoyle leader as he fled the room, thanks to Luck and a good re-roll. He did just enough damage to put him down. Then he finished him with the sword. The others had flown off too fast for pursuit - "This ends the gargoyle menace" they proclaimed. Also, they talked about find the others next time and forcing them to serve them somehow (perhaps with bribes of gemstones.)
The searched the room and the nearby gargoyle "temple" as they call it (a room with a scratched-up statue torso on the floor), and rested. Meanwhile, they broke up the "dead" gargoyles to find their legendary diamond hearts. What legend is that? No idea, but they were sure. Instead they found fist-sized rocks - geodes, they (correctly) surmised. They collected them as loot, finding nothing else of value.
Next, they found the room led off through a short hallway to low rise stairs down and through a longer hallway. They took the stairs.
They found themselves in a strange colummned room a few feet below the surrounding rooms. It had four rows of columns, a mist-shrouded ceiling (Chuck Morris shimmied up one for a closer look), and walls of grey, purple, red, and black-shot stone. They slowly walked through it, and as they passed the fourth and final row of columns, their lead magical servant let out a shriek, huddled on the floor, and disappeared. They send Chuck Morris forward to investigate - he took a step, and a point of damage as he was hit with a psychic shriek, and stepped back.
But they saw an altar and two archways to either side and a bit in from of the altar. On the altar were some dull-black candelabras in a lightning-bolt pattern and a chalice. All were decorated with pieces of black opal, obsidian, and jet. They decided they wanted them.
Plan one was to create a rope and grapnel, and Chuck Morris would throw it and hook the goodies. Lots of throws later, they decided this was taking too long and not working.
So they simply had Chuck Morris shuck down to minimal gear, and run to the alter and back. His base move is 9 (27 feet per second . . . ) so he ran there, grabbed, and back, taking 5 damage in the process. He did that twice.
Then Chuck checked the ceiling - hmm, no mist. Okay, that's bad, they decided, but in for a penny, in for a pound.
Then Dryst announced he could just use Apportation to hook the chalice with the grapnel. Thought of it a bit late, basically. So they did that, and got the chalice.
They loaded them up and headed out - only to find the two exits blocked by the mist. They sent a magical servant forward, but it got close to the mist, fell choking, and disappeared after croaking out "Not again" in a resigned tone.
They checked for other exits and Chuck Morris found a little peephole above eye level. He pried it open with a dagger and saw a little spy cubby, with a secret door on the other side. He decided to pull the wall down through brute strength and the power of his chi. He spend a while doing so, but only succeeded in inflicting some minor damage. Then Vryce stepped in and started to pound it with his crowbar. But then the mists interceded. The mist broke up into four roughly man-sized pillars of sickly smoke. Two stayed in blocking positions and two zipped in quickly and began to poison and choke everyone nearby. Dryst stepped back and wracked his brains (even as he choked) to figure out what they were.
He knew - toxifiers, poisonous clouds of demonic smoke. Vulnerable to magical weapons and wind, but barely so thanks to their diffuse natures. Raggi and Vryce attacked with their magic weapons (Vrce at first with his undead slaying sword, not realizing at first they were demons, not ghosts).
This fight was a desperate slog, too - and for a while it looked like a TPK. The group was scattered, necessarily so, which was very lucky. It helped keep them from being surrounded and pasted with poisonous gas. Even so, Raggi was failing roll after roll and choking, barely able to get in his swings (many of which were dodged). Vryce alternatively choked, swiped with his sword, or chugged down healing potions. Chuck Morris limped along, low on FP from his Power Blow/Breaking Blow escape attempts, and suffered badly. John McShiedly, collapsed, near death. And Dryst's lightning did little to impress the demons. Now what?
Dryst busted out his Wild Talent (Spells only) and used Windstorm to create a whirlwind around himself. Despite his poison damage and nausea, he managed to get it off - mostly because of making a few resistance rolls by the margin his Dwarven rations-granted Resistance to Poison gave him! It couldn't harm the demons, but they couldn't penetrate it nor could their gas get through. He moved, slowly but steadily, to envelope McShiedly and Chuck Morris even as Vryce fought on and Raggi went down, poisoned and near death*.
Dryst decided that, attack spell or not, Purify Air was the way to go. On the fly I decided he was right, and let his spells work as a resisted spell (vs. HT) doing 1d damage. He managed to injure the demons quite a few times this way although one critical failure stunned him, and another created a field of poison gas that almost hurt Vryce and healed the demons.
It was a close fight, with Dryst and Chuck Morris crammed into the windstorm's eye, Raggi covered by the storm, and Vryce fighting around the outside as Dryst used Purify Air to try to hurt the toxifiers.
In the end all four demons fell and faded away, thanks to a steady pounding by a Great Hasted Vryce, who totally abandoned defense (AOA, all the time) to just rain Deceptive Attacks down on the toxifiers until they went down. They turned out the be very difficult to injure but not especially hardy, and not nimble enough to get away from steeply deceptive attacks.
Once they all went down, they rested in the room, and tried to heal up the injured. It took a lot of healing potions to get Raggi back up (he was at -38 from his starting 20 HP), and Chuck Morris back to healthy (he was negative), and Vryce used plenty in his fight. But as they nursed folks back, Vryce went to work bashing down the wall to the spy cubby. They got it sufficiently crumbled to get a servant in.
But they quickly found nothing but a moldering chair, and a locked secret door with a red six-fingered hand painted on it. Touching it blasted a servant with black energy and killed him. So did pulling on the handle. So they decided to leave it be.
They headed out the other way out of the temple after determining the painful and damaging scream still warded the altar.
They found a connecting room, with a secret door that they couldn't puzzle out - there was no obvious way to open it, not clear place to put a crowbar, and no triggers for it at all. Hmm. So they moved on.
The found a nearby, wet-floored room with four doors. One was trashed and clearly had been damaged and then shaped shut, but the shaped stone was missing and the walls showed signs of something man-sized digging out. (Dryst correctly discerned this was birthing gargoyles, from a shaped stone wall.)
Some quick checking showed them a way back into the high-ceiling room where they fought the gargoyles, a way into the otyugh pit (where Chuck Morris was almost lured with mental images of how surely there was some treasure in it . . . but he was pulled back by the vets), and the way to the entrance room.
Basically from here they cleaned up their map a bit, and then headed out across the pit guarding the entrance. All was quiet, although the pit was 3/4 full of bound bundles of sticks and there were a few unbundled sticks on the far end. They figure someone was trying to fill the pit but got interrupted. Once they were sure there was nothing amiss about the bundles (not covered in oil, not a trap) they crossed. They lit the pit up as best they could to make it harder to cross again, and headed home.
Once back in town, they spent a day trying to sell their loot - no takers! So they waited for Black Jans's tower to appear. Once it did, they headed in. This time the servants were three gem-eyed beardless dwarves (who called themselves "the Kio" just as his other servants had, and who addressed even first-comers by name.) There was, oddly, also a set of stairs down in the tower as well. They offered up what they had, and one dwarf stayed, one went up, and one went down. They all gathered and announced that Master Jans, Archmage of the First Rank ("I'm only an Archmage of the Fifth Rank" announced Dryst) would buy their goods.
Long story short, they got 90 Gold Sovereigns (a large gold coin sized as the gold eagle), or $9000, for their items . . . but they were cursed for taking them. They could, of course, return them back to the altar, or just to the "nearest religious establishment" for de-cursing. They did that, instead, for a net of 5000 sp for the group. Black Jans was uninterested in the gargoyle geode hearts but they managed to sell the lot for 2500 sp.
It ended up as a profitable trip, even with the cost of expended potions and power items.
* He failed a death check, but he's got Hard to Kill and it was enough to keep him alive and (mostly) ignored by the toxifiers. Not always, since they sometimes chose to lurk near him to cut off escape, inadvertently damaging him further.
- Annoyingly, I hadn't noticed since day one that I have two room 8s on the map of level 1. Fixed that. But that took some time, because I tried using Open Office and it crashed whenever I tried to save stuff. Thanks guys, really helpful. I'll install my older version of Word instead. I'd had Starter on there but it crashed out and died, and I wasn't terribly impressed with it. So I tried Open Office and I'm less impressed with it. Lucky for me, I have a multi-license pack for an older version of Word I like a lot and the installation CDs. Crash on me when I try to save in the middle of a session? Uninstall!
- Amusingly, I told my players about the ongoing AOA/AOD uselessness thread on the SJG forums. They scoffed at their uselessness, and true to form, they used both often in the fights tonight. AOA got a hell of a lot of use in the toxifier fight, because there was nothing to defend against - it was a race of killing power vs. killing power. AOD did, too, until they realized they wasn't anything to defend against. The shieldbearer used it to cement his protection of Dryst, and also to block for a fallen Chuck Morris before he got back to his feet.
- this was a first encounter for my players vs. toxifiers, although they met their spiritual relatives in a chaos-tainted castle in my previous campaign.
- Lots of fun quotes today, beginning to end. My favorite is probably "I'm a wizard, I should be useless in a No Mana Zone. I approve of role stereotypes and enforce them." from Dryst's player.
- Purify Air isn't an attack spell, but it was appropriate and made sense as a Toxifier killer. So it worked. Windstorm, I decided, merely drove them back to a lesser or greater degree depending on how badly they failed a ST check. I gave the toxifiers a weakness so they'd take 1d when they couldn't resist.
- I loved the idea of gargoyle hearts being valuable, so I went right with that. 1d x 100 each in value.
- Raggi couldn't buy a HT roll tonight. Still didn't die. He's a tough bastard.
- Know who else is a tough bastard? Vryce has HT 14, and that's why he didn't die tonight.
- I love that Dryst calls one of the gargoyles his "son" and wants to recruit them.
- Toxifiers have a 2-hex radius attack. I wasn't sure if that was their hex plus the surrounding ones, or their hex plus the 2 surrounding them. I went with the latter, because DF is supposed to be tough.
- My players referred to the temple area as a sub-level. That's interesting. What is a sub-level, anyway? To me, it implies a separate map, and a level that's effectively contained "within" another level (all access points are to and from it), but which needs a new sheet of map paper to deal with. They figure it's an area not deep enough to be considered a new level. Who is right? I'm not sure it matters, but it's interesting. Neither definition makes the other objectively wrong, and I can see why it makes sense to call the temple area a sub-level even if I hadn't.
- I'm glad they finally connected back up to the front door again. Not a lot of exploration tonight, or a lot of fights. But two big tense and fun ones, and some critical understanding of where they are in relation to where they've been.