November 24th, 2013
Weather: Cold, windy.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (294 points)
Brug, orc warrior (?? points, NPC)
Galen Longtread, human scout (327 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (383 points)
Father Hans, human cleric (130 points, NPC)
Shieldbearer Jon, human guard (62 points, NPC)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (310 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (313 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (297 points)
We opened in the city of Stericksburg, as usual. The PCs gathered rumors, including a few choice ones:
- there is a room that'll take you down deeper without you knowing it. You enter, but when you leave you are down deeper.
- some crazy dwarf with a crowbar has been talking about moving into the dungeon.
- you need a blue ribbon to enter one special area.
- the dungeon has been continuously occupied for centuries, but not by the same groups. Even when Baron Sterick ruled the dungeon his men only ruled part of it.
- there are monsters that disguise themselves as floors, doors, and chests in the dungeon.
- lots of hobgoblin raids to the west, so able bodies are finding easy employment as guards.
- a level or two down is an experimental lab for wizards.
They'd also paid a sage to research the big reflectors they saw last session. He couldn't find much but found some - they are some kind of magical focus. If they are all arranged in the correct pattern, they should focus and amplify magical power. The focus point would need to be out of the room - somewhere beyond the double doors out of that chamber. Are they valuable? Effectively priceless, but also not really valuable outside of an array. They decided they must destroy one in order to defeat the wizard that is down there.
I ruled Red Raggi was available without needing roll because he didn't have a lot of ready cash after the last trip, and it had been a month. He's greedy, he won't work as a guard for a pittance when real loot can be pried out of the hands of dead monsters.
Dryst's player had to work (amusingly, we still played at his house) but I allowed the players to have him make them some light stones and also help identify magic treasure afterward. I also ruled that Father Hans borrowed Dryst's map-making gear. Seems fair.
So they headed out to the dungeon.
They climbed up the mountain top into howling cold winds, and went right into the orc-held upper works. They paid their pre-agreed toll, got their warrior/guide, and headed into the dungeon.
This time they headed right, into an area they'd mapped long before, but had lost when the party was dunked in the water. It took a large number of tries (under the watchful eyes of the orcs) to get open the metal handle-less door that closed it off.
They went through an echo room and checked around a few areas, including a large mosaic'd corridor, located the spot where they'd fought the Choke brothers, and where they fought the trolls and slorn in a big battle.
They went back to what used to be the troll's room. This time they found it was occupied by three acid spiders - 7' legged hunting spiders. The acid spiders attacked quickly and fearlessly, but even with their height advantage (and ability to duck through the doorway and walk over the front rank of PCs) they died very quickly. Tall fighters, long weapons, and a well-placed scout meant they got shot and cut to pieces in short order. They were a serious threat of harm but didn't inflict any.
Looting the room found a bunch of animal husks - giant rats, a deer, something else unidentifiable - and a human in leather armor. It turned out to have an ornate throwing axe, some silver, and two vials of oil (turned out to be Thieves' Oil, and they sold it).
They also checked another room - the former slorn lair - and found three slugbeasts. They spotted them far enough off, so they backed up and Galen just shot them to death. Even with Homogenous, he just shoots too often, too hard, and backed up too fast for them to reach him, and they stopped coming quickly.
After this they headed into new territory, finding another intersection and another door. That opened with relative ease. Vryce went through and his light stone went out. He stepped back and it stayed out - No Mana Zone, dispelling his temporary light. He swapped it out for a chemical glow vial, and Galen lit a torch and handed it to Shieldbearer Jon to carry.
Vryce headed back into the corridor - it was wide, mosaic-covered, and depicted hooded six-fingered folks doing inexplicable things. It extended left, had a door across, and had giant double doors to the right. Chuck demanded he go far enough to see if it linked up with his map details, It did, but it also had illusionary floor sections covered spiked pits. Vryce - vision obscured by his greathelm - didn't notice and fell right in. Lucky for him his armor (and the number of spiked spreading out his impact) saved him from harm. He got off ("Unimpaled himself") and with Galen's help climbed out.
They heaped up their lightstones and covered them with a sack, and then moved on. They forced the door, which showed them a similar corridor ahead, and the double doors, which revealed what was clearly a massive library. The door was carved with librarians doing the usual things - scribing, filing, listing fines, etc., and the inside of the room was barren but had old marks where shelves had been and later been burned to ash. They searched the big room, finding another set of doors out, and a secret floor trapdoor that would have been hard to find except for Galen's keen eyes (Per 19, IIRC, for vision, and Night Vision 6) and a little ash that had filled a gap that shouldn't be there. They lifted the stone and went down.
They found themselves in a room with three exits and an alcove. They chose one and headed that way, then hit a T and went right, and then found a room. Galen heard some breathing - clearly six humanoids - and deduced something had heard them coming and was waiting to attack by surprise. So they burst through the door.
Beyond the door was a barricade, and beyond it were six hobgoblins. They fired crossbows and Waited with ready weapons. The crossbows slammed into Vryce (he was Dodging like crap all session) but didn't wound him despite their armor-piercing heads. Galen started mowing them down and Vryce and Chuck cut down the others. It was all over quickly, and then Galen "made sure" of the dead with point blank arrow shots to the eyes, because he's a bastard and has a Cornucopia quiver of freebies.
They saw some stairs down that the hobgoblins were protecting. So, naturally, they backed off to try to fill in their map. After some discussion, mostly between Vryce ("Let's go down. Let's go down. I say we go down.") and Chuck ("No, let's fill in the map.") and then they headed down. Chuck's player realized he'd gone into "fill in the map" mode and shook it off.
They headed down. They found a landing with another set of stairs down a bit off the right heading behind them, and a 20 x 20 room with a statue to their left. That was of a six-fingered being like the other ones they'd found, but with arms down at its sides and not built to rotate. They checked it, found nothing of note, and headed down.
When they saw the stairs, Galen noticed they had oil on them. The flammable kind - carefully spread out to make the stairs a bit slick and a deathtrap. They backed up, got ready, and lit it with the torch. Fwoosh. It lit up, there were brief sounds of dismay (but not pain) below. They waited until it burned down and then rushed down the stairs. Vryce and the orc were in front, Chuck and Raggi behind, and Galen behind them.
At the bottom was a 30 x 30 room with doors in each wall. In the center was a squadron of hobgoblins in formation. Goblin slaves off the sides, females in front with spear and shield and males with longer spears behind, well-armed bodyguards and the chief and a priest behind them. Well, it looked like a priest - a bit tall for a hobgoblin, clad in loose black clothing, with a shield and a mace and a silvery glove on his right hand. In front of all of them was a belt of poisoned caltrops a yard deep.
The hobgoblins were ready and attacked - three crossbows fired (dinging off of Vryce mostly), the goblins threw Oozing doom grenades into Vryce and the orc's hexes, splatterin them with evil ooze. The chief flung a 5-pint jug at them. Without hestitation Vryce let go of his sword with his left hand (it's lanyarded in to his right), and caught the jug. He asked if he could, so I said yes, if you make your unarmed parry by enough ("Like 5" I said, remembering correctly) and he rolled a 6, needing an 11.
On the player's go Vryce immediately threw it back, lobbing it into the middle of the group to split them up. Smash - 5 pints of alchemist's fire lit up. That brightly lit the room, splattered some hobgoblins with fire (they were scorched, but mostly dodged aside), and effectively demolished their formation. Then the PCs attacked. The hobgoblins fought well but the PCs could reach them past their barrier of caltrops, and started to cut them down. The priest, though, swapped his mace to his shield hand and started to blast out bolts of lightning at the PCs! He zapped Galen a couple times, wounding him terribly and stunning him badly. Father Hans healed him twice, but it mostly served to keep Galen out of the fight. The orc managed to melee the priest, but went down in the exchange without hurting him. The priest also parried or dodge most arrows with ease, and his armor largely repelled another one. The chief managed to close with Chuck, who immediately used Kiai to stun him and a Rapid Strike to kill him (all hail Extra Attack).
The hobgoblins had summoned reinforcements, though - and from two of the doors burst in pairs of siege beasts! Big (SM+2) guys with massive meat-tenderizer hammers bolted to their hands. They attacked, but because of the fire burning had to fight basically in pairs (although that still ended up with two on Vryce). They took an enormous pounding and kept coming - sword blow after sword blow from Vryce, who immediately realize they had reasonable defenses and went for Deceptive Attack -5 (!) instead of his usual trademark move. He missed a lot but they couldn't avoid him when he hit. Chuck tried stabbing (worthless) and cutting (better). When Galen finally got unstunned, he blinded one with two eye shots just after it smashed Raggi for 25 damage (which - ahem - merely took him to low, not negative, HP and knocked him back all of one yard) but it kept coming. One landed a critical hit on Vryce, but Luck averted it.
All the while the priest kept blasting with his gloved hand. Raggi took a weak blast and then the priest stopped doing that, trying to fight with his mace and back away.
In the end the siege beasts all went down, with gaping wounds. The priest went down as well, after Raggi hit him a few times in the neck with his axe.
They looted the room after some quick checks - the room ahead was interesting, as it had an exit, a cave-like tunnel, and a gong. They didn't mess with it.
The loot was pretty good - some coins from the hobgoblins and the chief, some broadswords (always worth carrying and selling), a magic halberd, the priest's gear and his ornate scale armor . . .
But what really got them was the priest. He wasn't a hobgoblin. He has golden skin, elven features but fangs like an orc, pointy lobeless ears . . . and six-fingered hands. He also had some gaping wounds, and appeared dead, but wasn't bleeding. No blood at all. Chuck browbeat Father Hans into a) healing their orc (he rolled a 3, and claimed the orc was clearly a faithful being!) and b) bandaging the "priest." Hans refused to try to heal him, and no one pressed that. But Chuck decided to hand it over to the orcs for possible later interrogation if it was, in fact, alive.
They also questioned the goblins, but learned nothing of real value except that there was a "poison room" one direction, "danger" the other, and extreme danger past the gong room.
At this point the group was still okay, but we'd really had no flow (my fault, largely) so it was very late. so they retreated up to the upper works and dealt with the orcs.
The deal with the orcs was, keep this guy prisoner and we'll come back next time and retrieve him. The orcs were startled by the six-fingered guy, and immediately wanted to buy him. Some negotiations took place (a few hours of back-and-forth, as the orcs on the surface relayed messages below) and they ended up agreeing to pay 1500 sp for the being, to sacrifice to their god. They called them something like "Banes" or "Evils" or something that means "really, really bad" in orc. They said they drink blood, too.
The PCs also sold them the four goblin slaves, and gave them all the weapons they'd towed up from the depths minus a few swords and the better quality stuff. Better armed orcs, they figure, is the way to go.
Vryce also took a thumb from the "priest" for later Seekering. As soon as they headed back to town he said "Oh, we should have taken the hand. That would have been smart. But we're not smart." Oh well.
Back in town they sold off gear, got the glove checked (it's non-magical, no longer glittering silver, and of some odd metal), spent money to get the armor ID'd (it's special ornate scale that gives more DR the more Magery you have), and sold off the priest's oddly balanced and shaped mace (it was non-magical, just unusual). They made a solid profit (well over 1000 sp each) even if not a big one.
- When Chuck's player decided he'd map and sat in Dryst's player's seat, he suddenly found himself arguing to go in directions that were not leading off the paper edge, not going down stairs because that would mean needing new paper, etc. He suddenly realized what was happening and reversed himself. We decided it was the chair.
- many of these hobgoblins, including the chief, had survived multiple fights with the PCs, including one a long time back. The chief had killed at least one henchmen, too. But their luck ran out, despite improved stats and better gear!
- they have a Balanced Dwarven Dueling Halbered (Accuracy +1, Puissance +1) to use or sell. Chuck would need to expand his Weapon Master to use it to full capacity (he's Weapon Master Light Horse Cutter right now), or they'd need to find someone else to lend it to. Tough call, because it's valuable ($11,080 x 40% = $4432 or $1108 each) but it's also a pretty good weapon for someone with the skill to use it.
- they are holding on to the scale and the glove until Dryst's player gets back, at least.
- they are still probably debating if selling the possibly dead thing was a good idea. Maybe not, but it was cash they could really use, and Chuck claimed "We know where to go look for more of them." Still, taking bodies of strange creatures put my head in this weird XCom place. Best loot is a new monster's corpse . . .
- I had higher hopes for the Acid Spiders and Siege Beasts, but hey, they did pretty well considering they were fighting a party where a weak attack comes 3x per turn and does 2d+12. Two-handed weapons also helped make weapon breakage a non-issue.
- I personally hope this is the sign of more expeditions to deeper areas. We'll see.
- I also noticed that if we play every 2 weeks, bullshitting is minimized. If not, a LOT creeps in, because we're all catching up after 4-6 weeks of not seeing each other. It's still fun, but I prefer a better pace to the game. I blame myself because I can put the brakes on it on my end and shut it down, but I didn't.
Really fun session. Lots of things coming together!