August 3rd, 2013
Weather: Rainy, Cool (@ 70 degrees)
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (251 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (288 points)
Father Hans, human cleric (130 points, NPC)
Shieldman Zed, human guard (??, NPC)
Galen Longtread, human scout (311 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)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (297 points)
We started in Stericksburg, as usual. After the fiasco last time, no volunteers came forward - in fact, attempts to recruit new NPC hirelings were at a temporary -3 because of the extensive deaths and heavy injuries! As will be seen later, this was probably for the better - this was a dangerous expedition even for the well-prepared. Raggi was around, though, and so was Father Hans and one of the shieldbearers they used last time.
The group paid their upkeep, gathered rumors, and so on. They also all kicked in 500 sp each (2000 total) to hire a sage to do research on the Lord of Spite, that blue ogre that kicked their asses back in session 23. Coincidentally, they rolled up a rumor about the Lord of Spite being an ogre-lord or demon-lord that hates everything. Also, one about orcs being created by the gods as pure evil. That didn't stop Galen from learning Orcish, making him the solid linguist of the group (he speaks and reads Common, and speaks Elven and Orcish, and a bit of Goblin, too.)
They purchased potions and gear and headed up to the dungeons.
Once again they found a lot of traffic out of the ruins, and a clear path showing where they walls had been taken down to provide an easy passage. They decided the orcs are fortifying the dungeon, based on this scanty evidence.
They headed down the well entrance, which bothered Vryce - he's not fond of using the same entrance because it makes them predictable. But nothing else looked better - the bugbear hole meant crawling, the front gate meant possible sniping, the tower trapdoor was locked from below, and that left the well. So they went that way.
They made it safely down, and quickly headed down to level 2 via their usual path. Nothing molested them, although they heard more rock-thumping in the distance. They decided it was probably more rock-men and moved on.
They made it all the way to the first statue room, and Vryce said, let's go downstairs. Instead of trying to solve the statue puzzle and fight orcs, he needs more serious loot and that means down deeper. So they went down the stairs, and found the only room they'd explore for the entire session.
At the bottom was a long, dust-covered room, 30' wide and maybe three times that long, with an exit out the opposite side and four archways spaced evenly on either side. Also, two statues of BIG men with two-handed flails on either side, standing on pedestals. They decided they were clearly stone golems, and got ready to attack them. Raggi and Chuck took one, Vryce the other. Chuck did a Power Blow and smashed his hard, followed instantly by Raggi. The golems jumped off their pedestals to the attack as Vryce hit his.
And just like that, they were in a melee. Two more golems came running from the far end of the room, and also attacked. Raggi immediately ate a flail hit to the torso, took 20 damage past his armor (they did 4d+8 crushing) and blew his consciousness roll. He was knocked back, and cleanly unconscious. Father Hans rushed forward to heal him. Normally this would be a waste, since he was unconscious from injury and could be out for 15 minutes or so - but Raggi has Recovery, so that's only 15 seconds for him. Meanwhile Dryst threw a lightning bolt, but critically failed and hit himself - he bounced it off the wall and ZAP! hit himself. And, naturally, rolled the most damage he's ever done with that spell, seriously wounding himself. Things looked bad.
The four golems fought hard, but not cleverly, with their flails. One tried a few times to clip Chuck Morris but his acrobatic dodges saved him. But then he took a shot to the left leg and it was crippled (broken, as it turned out). He rolled away as a Great Hasted Dryst ran up and used his staff and Shocking Touch to try to attract the golem's attention to himself. Meanwhile Vryce kept fighting two other golems, having trashed one with some help from the cutting-head arrows of Galen. Chuck got himself standing with a ludicrous Acrobatics roll, and Vryce worked to back the golem up to him - Chuck hit its leg repeatedly from behind but barely bothered it (crippling a leg on a high-HP golem is tough; you need to exceed HP/2 with one shot). In the end, though, just steady pounding from a now Great Hasted and Shielded Vryce, constant intervention from Dryst (Great Hasted and Shielded), and steady arrow fire from Galen and hits from Chuck did them in, and all four golems were down. Just as Raggi woke up (about 1 second after the fight ended.)
The PCs looked around as the group rested and healed, and splinted up Chuck's leg. They saw the corridor out the opposite of the way they came in was lined with painted black open-mouthed faces every 10', and that under the dust were scorch marks, black stains, and blast marks. Uh, yeah, seen that before.
The archways led to 8' tall, 30' tunnels with burial plates in the walls. 60 per tunnel, 8 tunnels. Each tunnel ended in a well-painted purple six-fingered hand symbol. So, they figured, these guys must be buried with loot like the previous ones! They cracked open a niche.
Inside was an entire skeleton, disassembled but all there, along with two silver coins (the eye coins) and a small gold "passage coin" worth 10 sp (about half of a usual gold coin). But as they skull hit the floor and they grabbed the coins, some of the dust in the main room was swirling up, and two red "eyes" formed within it . . .
Combat began again, since some of them were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Swirling clouds of funereal dust, with red eye-like orbs, coalesced and swirled in one them. They cloud blinded, as well as momentarily formed a solid "fist" to punch with before letting it swirl away. Galen started shooting out the eyes, and Vryce stabbing them, but they soon realized it was merely a special effect and not a real vulnerability - they'd wink out and then form new ones, without any loss of efficacy in their attacks. In short order there were eight of them attacking the party. They did little damage most of the time, but they dodged attacks with relative ease and threatened blindness and defeat by attrition. At this point Chuck Morris was temporarily blinded.
What followed was a few scrambling seconds before Dryst decided on the toxifier-killer - a Windstorm. He started to whirl one up, and then used Wild Talent on Air Jet and let one have it with a 4d blast. He did serious damage to it, and that seemed to bother them - four of them pounced on him just as his windstorm kicked up to full speed! They blinded him, pounded him unconscious, and then found themselves stuck with Dryst in the eye of the storm.
In a typical "Vryce the Hero" move, Vryce charged into the storm. He dropped his sword (it's on a lanyard), grabbed Dryst, and pulled him out of the eye of the storm and into the windy part that repelled the creatures. Then Chuck moved into the storm and started to All-Out Attack into the eye where four of these things were intermixed (All-Out Attack Double, plus Rapid Strike, when you have Extra Attack, is potentially 4 hits a second). Meanwhile, the other four attacked the rest of the group. Raggi got nailed a few times, Father Hans got blinded and knocked out, and Galen got bothered. Vryce yelled for everyone to get into the storm (Leadership helps a lot sometimes), and then physically pushed out to grab Father Hans and drag him into the storm. Meanwhile Raggi finally dropped from injury just inside the storm.
Once in the storm, they kept attacking the ones at the center, ignored the ones outside (now temporarily harmless), and dragged the wounded together. Windstorm forces a ST roll to stay standing, but even Galen is pretty beefy (ST 13) and Chuck Morris has Immovable Stance, making them pretty stable in there. Once the wounded were basically piled up, and hit with an Awaken spell stone by Galen. It worked brilliantly, and woke them all up. All the while they were trying to kill the ones inside with sheer amount of hits. This eventually worked - the four-jump-Dyrst move ended up making them fish in a barrel and unable to effectively Dodge and Retreat and so they got hit, often several at the same time because of being over-packed.
Once those four dissipated, they went to work on the rest. Dryst took some time to examine them and realized they were Ash Spirits (DF6), and undead, not demons. Vryce headed out to attract the other four - and Dryst went to trap them with a Windstorm. Unfortunately Raggi couldn't be restrained and he charged out and distracted two. So two more got caught in a new Windstorm (and eventually slain by Chuck Morris and Vryce, who was Great Hasted by this point and had swapped his magic sword for his undead slayer). Raggi fought outside, as did Chuck, while Galen moved out and started shooting. Vryce's sword wasn't a panacea but it clearly hurt them more than his other weapon. But eventually, some bad luck told - Galen shot into Raggi's melee with one and hit Raggi in his unarmored arm, and knocked him to -21 HP (he's got 20). Death check. HT 12, Hard to Kill 2.
Dice drop - 6, 5, 3. A fourteen. Not dead, just looks dead! Raggi was down.
The last of the ash spirits was eventually dispelled, leaving the party exhausted, battered, and worried. So they quickly got to healing (Father Hans on duty, once he drank some healing potions belonging to his boss, Dryst) and looting.
Meanwhile Dryst went and Magelocked the door leading to this area, while Galen checked the corridor ahead. It ended barely in their range of vision with a pair of big metal doors painted with an axe-and-sword crossed over a tower motif. Baron Sterick's symbol. Hmm.
So they looted the 480 niches, smashing each one and taking the coins within. Serious grave robbery here, but they were sealed off in a dangerous and hard to reach area so nothing bothered them. They took 480 of those gold coins and 960 silver.
They finished and got ready to go - dropped the Magelock, etc., and sent a servant down the face-lined corridor. Nothing happened. They ordered it to try and open the door - nothing. Couldn't do it, not blasted by traps. Suspicious that it needed real life to set it off, they called the servant back and headed home.
So PCs at 300+ points need at least twice their upkeep, etc. to justify full XP for a profitable trip. The idea was to avoid rewarding people for farming the upper levels for minor loot. It sure worked.
Amusingly, the fights last week all cried out for a Scout to finish them quickly ("Those would be two hit fights - I hit them, they hit the floor.") This one, like the one two sessions ago, featured high-DR high-HP mobile rocks. Heh.
That would have been a much more dangerous fight had the golems and ash spirits been attacking at the same time. But the PCs made a smart decision to assume they were golems and attack right away; the ash spirits weren't triggered by the golems fighting but by molesting the niches. Had they left the golems alone and molested the niches, well, it could have been uglier.
As it was we spent 7 hours of an 8 hour session in one room in the dungeon. Still, two nasty fights they barely won, split into two fights because of their actions. They took home solid loot (with the flails from the golems, they netted 1200 each for the five-way split of Galen, Raggi, Dryst, Vryce, and Chuck) and realized there are some very dangerous spots in the dungeon. I can't say it wasn't fun, although sometimes I wish they had another way to fight diffuse creatures besides "hit them twice for every HP they have!" as a tactic. They're getting closer with Air Jet, though. So, despite almost no exploration, they took a risk on a deeper path and fought potentially TPK-level danger. 5 points, MVP to Dryst.
And that's it for weekly playing, as my schedule has changed and I'm back to be busy again. Next session will come in 4 weeks, maybe sooner, but it was a fun run while it lasted!