July 14, 2013
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Dryst, halfling wizard (276 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (300 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (346 points)
Lucky Pete, one-handed human guard (not many points, NPC)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (251 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (292 points)
Father Hans, human cleric (?? points, NPC)
We had three players this session - but lucky for them Red Raggi Ragnarsson was around, but unluckily Father Hans the Healer was not. They're considering tracking Hans down and putting him on retainer so he's always available. I told them if they pay monthly or weekly, the guy is just there. If they pay a day rate, they have to re-find him each time. Hiring for spot work is like that.
There were also three volunteer hirelings this time - Lucky Pete, a one-handed swordsman; Borgnar the Bold, tough barbarian; and Zeke Spearman, a mercenary spearman. Volunteers? Yep. Word of the increasing success and routinely good hauls (and steady bonuses to hirelings) has attracted some volunteers. Hirelings who just showed up, offered their services, and asked only for a bonus if they made a good impression. Naturally, the kind of guys who'll offer their services free of charge for a potentially fatal mission aren't exactly the highest quality. But despite that, the group decided that one-handed "Lucky Pete" was a good pickup and brought him along. Dryst magically made him a shield to carry on his off-, er, arm, since he had no hand.
They gathered some rumors, hearing a mixed bag of rumors of gnomes gone bad (aka hell gnomes), the efficacy of salt versus zombies, and other semi-useful stuff. They also heard someone a year or so back went up to the dungeon with what he claimed was a legendary dragon-slaying sword . . . and didn't come back.
Otherwise it was pretty routine - pay upkeep, gather the group, buy some potions, and head up to the dungeon. They brought the bridge, even though the goal was the go in through the tower or well.
An abortive try at the tower cost them a Created Servant, thanks to that black fire. So they went in through the well, and right down to level two.
The goal was, kill the fire-men. Last them they tried this, it was pretty disastrous. They got mown down by fireballs at range. This time, they were ready - at long last Dryst had learned all the prereqs for Resist Fire, and learned the spell.
Long story short, they worked their way down towards the big long hallway (it's about 100 yards or so) where the fire-men stood watch at the end. Before they advanced on them, though, some Tracking told them something might be in residence the old chimera lair. They headed in, and immediately their lead Created Servant was devoured by a hunting slime. One of two huge ones (SM+4). They attacked. The first slime slammed Vryce as he was putting away his good sword, while Dryst tried to create a wooden sword for him (to avoid any acidic residue). It glommed on to him to but he easily broke free of its stickiness before it could engulf him. Raggi attacked, and Galen started to pump it full of arrows. In seconds they reduced it to many multiples of its HP and it oozed apart as the next one came. They just attacked it with more arrows and axe and sword blows. It didn't last. Hunting slimes do better in ambush than in a straight fight against high-offense adventurers. This was a good example of making sure to clear your six.
Then it was time to Resist Fire on everyone, and then sprint up the hallway. From almost 100 yards out, they just started to run up at the lowest move of the group (4 yards/second, which was Dryst with Haste in a tie with Vryce.) The goal was to get there before Dryst needed to maintain the spell on Raggi, which is expensive due to his size. Galen started to fire arrows on the move - and hit pretty easily, even jogging at a 100 yards, thanks to a good bow and Bow 22 or so. The fire-men started to throw fireballs back, and equally, made a few hits - but Resist Fire made the party immune. The arrows started to tell, too, doing damage before the fire-men could roast them. So they took cover out of LOS of the party.
Then the group arrived, and melee started. The fire-men (okay, Flame Lords from DFM1*) did their best to punch and kick, but without their fireballs having an effect or their damaging auras, none of their best attacks helped. They repeated grappled Raggi but he wouldn't burn, and just kept pushing them off. Still, the fire-men took an incredible amount of killing - multiple turns of very heavy shots from Raggi and Vryce while Galen pumped them full of arrows. Finally, they were down. The group rested very briefly before pushing ahead to the next room, where four more fire-men waited. Their leader had gambled on the PCs thinking they'd won and dropping their spells, but it didn't happen, and they were massacred as well despite doing some minor damage to Raggi and Lucky Pete. Lucky Pete did fumble his sword and have to draw his knife ("Lucky for me I brought my knife!") but no one was seriously hurt.
In the room they found a pedestal with a small iron box on it inscribed with a rune denoting cold. Dryst used Wild Talent to cast Resist Cold on himself and used Lockmaster on the box. It blasted a 3-yard radius 5d cold attack. Galen was just on the fringe and dove for cover, taking some minor damage. Dryst was immune, and suffered another blast with no effect as he finally got the box open.
Inside was a (bronze? brass?) statue, about 12" long, of a carp. Its scales were gold coins of some strange origin, and its eyes were rubies. Score! It didn't show as magical, though. They packed it up in a backpack, and then gave the strongbox to a servant to carry.
In this second room there were basically two ways out - one looking like it headed to a new area, one towards a possible map meetup. They went to the next area, which turned out to be a small room with a koi pond. No other way out, and no secret bottom (they checked with a servant standing in the pool, and with a 10' pole). Just six carp in a pond, all of whom avoided being poked with the stick and seemed annoyed/frightened by the servant. They futzed around, but neither the carp nor the pond were clearly magical, although how they lived was beyond anyone's explanation.
The headed back and then into a "new" area (actually, not new, just forgotten). They found a series of rooms, the middle of which had a big but not huge black six-fingered handprint painted on the floor. So they sent a servant in to touch it. It did, and seconds later the entire floor disappeared, and the servant fell down in a cylindrical chamber below. They got a brief glimpse of some ooze-like thing and a glint of coins, before the light stone went out and the servant disappeared! Then the floor reappeared.
Just then, they heard hissing coming up from behind. They ran back to set up an ambush but instead met up with two man-sized blue snakes with flickering tongues and venomous fangs. They attacked, but remarkably many of their attacks simply passed through the snakes without hurting them. Others landed just find, though, and they just managed to ward them off and kill them before anyone got bitten. They cut off their heads and left them, lacking the skill to milk them of venom.
They were extremely careful after this, avoiding going more than 3' closer to the handprint. After all, a NMZ and a critter was below them in a trap. Later Dryst would set it off while walking on air, just to see, but no one risked falling.
While Dryst searched a nearby room for secret doors, the others stood guard in the next room out. They noticed someone carefully trying to wedge the "north" door shut. So Vryce kicked it open - and surprised two newtmen. They croaked out alarms but Vryce killed one and Galen shot the other down. They called Dryst back, and then advanced.
They found a spiral staircase down, but it was narrow and slick and had noisemakers on it, and all three of the back three of the party failed DX rolls and slipped and fell down it. Vryce had to run forward into waiting newtmen and lizard men, who attacked him. They fought really well, but low damage rolls caused their poisoned arrows to ping off Vryce's armor and their excellent defensive position and aggressive attacks didn't do much. Eventually Vryce polished off three of the lizard men, with Galen shooting one down and wounding another, and shooting down the newtmen.
They group tried to force a door the lizard men clearly guarded, but to no avail (Extra-heavy ironbound) - even Raggi's axe couldn't make a real dent in it. So they headed off to the side down a passage.
Basically from here they found a series of rooms they'd found before, without quite realizing until they found a destroyed iron maiden. They'd come this way while fleeing the water level they'd been teleported to nine sessions ago.
They checked those rooms, found a room with a 20' wide 30' deep pit down (and shot down its newtmen guards, and scouted it with a servant using Walk on Air.) They also found a room with 20 newtmen in it, and just like nine sessions ago, Vryce ran in and chopped them up. Raggi did too, but fell ("Damn it! Again!"), although he got to his knees and from there killed a few with Cleaving Strike. Dryst cast Gift of Tongues and tried to convince the newtmen to surrender, but they wouldn't. And Pete charged in and was shot down and poisoned. They'd end up carrying him home.
They captured one newtman (Raggi kicked it and stunned in, instead of killing it with his axe), but it only said "You not master! Die! Die Die Die!" until Raggi snapped its neck.
After this the group gathered up their loot (fish, some swords, a spotted owlbear hide in one room, and the cinders from the fire-men) and headed home. Clearing their six meant nothing of any threat waited for them.
* I mentioned this and Dryst's player said "The hobgoblins called them fire-men, and that's what we're calling them." Good enough.
Yeah, free henchmen. That'll be a post all by itself.
Lucky Pete and his repeated claims of "this is my lucky day" or "Lucky I have my knife!" etc. was really more amusing than I'd hoped. And as hapless as he was, he wasn't detrimental.
Scouting with servants is interesting, but hey, IQ 9 and Per 9. They miss a lot even if they make good trap triggers.
Most fights are pretty much "we're fine" and then suddenly "we won" or "oh shit." The snakes fight was like that - it was short, but everyone was nervous and couldn't figure what made it work. Heh. They called them "phase serpents" and "ghost serpents." Maybe, maybe not.
The fish went for 50,000 sp - that's $50K. They were strongly tempted to let Dryst keep it as a power item (that's north of 40 power!) but it was their main loot, and if he kept it everyone else would have taken a pretty meager hoard. In the end, they netted out over $13K each, although they still haven't figured out some puzzles:
- what's with the koi pond?
- why do lizard men nail hides to walls?
- where are they getting deer hides from anyway? ("they trade with the deer for them" and "they raise subterranean domestic deer" were right up there.)
- was that the third level? Or did that pit go to the third level? The spiral stairs were too steep but too shallow to be a full level beneath level 2, or maybe they weren't - they dropped maybe 18' give or take.
Lots of stuff to explore - next week, if I get enough people (in other words, one more than just Dryst, since we play at his house.)
Oh, and MVP was Dryst. He's been building his spell selection up for Resist Fire specifically to nail the Flame Lords (okay, fire-men) and it paid off in spades.