October 26th, 2014
Weather: Cool, sunny.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Al Murik, dwarven cleric (252 points)
Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (250 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (373 points)
Father Keef, human initiate (125 points, NPC)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (444 points)
Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (unknown point total, NPC)
Still in town:
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Mark Strawngmussel, human laborer (62 points, NPC)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
We started as usual, in Stericksburg. Asher's eye was still blind from the stirge strike, but Restoration left him halfway to healed. He wore an eyepatch and suffered some penalties to hit but otherwise was good to go.
The group gathered rumors - not many, because generally they get a lot from "I heard this at the bar I live in" Vryce, but he critically failure Carousing. I ruled he received zero rumors (not even the free one for being in town), but remembers that he heard some really awesome ones if he could just find that bar napkin he wrote it down on . . .
Otherwise, they heard a few - Gort heard that the six-fingered vampires speak elvish, Raggi heard there is a witch-queen to the East and her witches want something out of Felltower, Dryst heards that patch of weird magic are in the dungeon, and Al Murik heard that the priests who sealed off Felltower back in the day let themselves die out to preserve the secrets of their order. Finally, some merchants from Cashamash were offering money for some horns of a gem-eyed demon statue, but no one felt like track them down.
Amusingly, they've been trucking around a 5-pound silver crown they found, minus its gems, in the dragon hoard. So they gave it to Al Murik to use as a power item (it's worth roughly $5K). I insisted that, to use it, he had to wear it. So he did, on top of his helmet. It was a 17-point power item - bootstrapping is key if you have new guys and a dangerous level to explore. Asher has a fine flaming broadsword for the same reason.
The group did some gearing up and headed out, taking along Gort, the only person to show up besides the regulars plus Raggi.
They went in via the dragon cave, and found a lot of evidence of orc traffic in the area. Despite this, they found no orcs, and headed in.
The group explored, trying to link up parts of their map, and find the big double doors. They thought about raiding the "evil temple" they briefly encountered a little while back, but eventually got focused on the big double doors. They found a pair of doors and tried to open them.
They opened with ease - even a servant was able to get them open.
Beyond the doors was a 40' corridor, narrowing from 20' wide at the entrance to 10' wide at a black-painted wooden door studded with silver and with a silver pull-ring and silver hinges. The corridor was lit by a soft red glow from the ceiling but otherwise was unadorned and undecorated.
A servant was dispatched to touch the door, but the instant it touched it, it disappeared. Dispelled, it seemed - confirmed by a quick Identify Spell. Vryce pitched a slingstone at it and it clunked into the door, but nothing happened. They tried to close the big iron doors, but they couldn't get them to move. So using 4 of 5 of Gort's iron spikes (driven in under Silence) to spike one open. Then they decided to let Vryce try the inner door. He grabbed the door handle and pulled. It opened easily, but very slowly. As it did, the big doors started to close, pinging off all four spikes as they inexorably closed.
As soon as the big doors closed, there was a golden flash and the group found themselves (some stunned, some disoriented) in a 30' x 30' x 30' room with four exits. They realized they'd been teleported. They spent some time figuring out which room they were in, and marked it as a fifth unique "cube room."
They did some exploring, and I think at this point while resting they were discovered by a couple of phase serpents. They were quickly dispatched, but only after they poisoned Raggi and did a little damage.
Some more exploration brought them back to the double doors. They tried them again, went in again, and then tried the inner door - this time spacing the group out more, and trying to look inside the inner door with a Wizard Eye. All that got them was teleported again, to the same place, and a look at whiteness inside (not a white room, just whiteness, like staring into a lightbulb.)
The group did some more exploring, and find another set of double doors, and tried them. Same reason - easy to get in, but the inner door opened as the outer doors closed and - zap - they were elsewhere.
They found themselves in another 30 x 30 x 30 room. They weren't sure where they were, so they started to stand around and argue about the map. At that point, something attacked. A big (SM+2) but man-sized being of earth and stone permeated out of the wall and attacked. Lucky for them, Asher was paying attention and got between it and the group. He fended it off with his shield even as Al put Shield on him, and then Vryce got to work chopping it up. It went down after only a few (albeit extremely high damage) shots. They moved on from there, after locating themselves near the demon-ape room and gargoyles and stirges.
To avoid bother from the stirges, Dryst used Create Fire to put flames into their sinkhole, and then Create Earth and Earth to Stone to seal it, at least for 24 hours.
More traveling and mapping and looping around, and they decided to go up. The only gold a previous Seek Earth turned up was up and to the right, which meant upstairs, and the only supernatural beings they detected was pointing mostly to the whatever is beyond those double doors.
So they worked their way up to the long narrow stairs, sending a Wizard Eye ahead. Once it got to the top, Dryst saw that two orcs were waiting, and clearly alert thanks to the sounds of the party. They spotted the wizard eye, too. Dryst pulled it back and put Walk on Air on Vryce. He moved up the stairs, much faster now that he was walking on air and not on slick, uneven stairs. The orcs moved to the top, calling an alert and throwing oil down the stairs. They lit it, and flames engulfed the stairs. Vryce moved through, after Dryst put Resist Fire on him, and attacked the orcs. He killed both in single blows, and thanks to Resist Fire the group was able to just crawl up through the oil and to the higher level. From there, they moved up towards the level above.
Meanwhile, the usual alert horns were going on. But unlike before, they didn't stop. They heard a lot of loud horns, bangs, and gongs, going on over and over again.
They moved up the stairs, and found that at the top of the stairs the orcs had strewn the room with junk, loose stones, wooden "caltrops" coated with poison, and bent bits of old weapons. An orc waited beyond the room, and when it saw the Wizard Eye it started to taunt and wave as if to say "Come on." So they sent Vryce up and the orc fled and turned left.
They advanced cautiously - Vryce took point and moved into a T-shaped hallway. The eye was sent around the left corner. The rest of the group used a shield and some time to clear a path through the bad footing and poisoned doodads.
They found the orcs were trying to smoke them out - Dryst saw the orcs tossing torches onto prepared kindling to get a fire going, and then the smoke moving towards the group with unnatural speed. He responded by moving up to the corner and using a Force Dome to seal it off. They group moved to the right, exploring what was a familiar battleground when they were clearing the hobgoblins out of it.
The gongs and horns continued, making it impossible to communicate unless you yelled and/or were at close range. Despite that, the PCs moved up, and took a left after some arrows came out of a side corridor and missed a Missile Shielded Vryce. The group kept moving to the corner, and took fire from front and back. The decided this was a mistake and started to turn.
Just then, the horns and gongs started to cut off. They heard a loud BANG of a door being bashed down, and a cut-off scream of an orc. They heard booted feet . . . and then . . . stomp-clomp, stomp-clomp, stomp-clomp and the rattle of heavy hooves on stone. The Lord of Spite and his cloven-hooved buddies. Dryst had called it earlier, that maybe the orcs were trying to get him riled up and get him after the PCs.
They turned and moved back - only to find the orcs had sealed up the hallway with a wall of stone! They immediately got to work. Dryst shaped a 6' tall, 3' wide, 2 yard deep hole in the 6' thick wall. The orcs were waiting, and shot arrows down the pipe and threw in alchemist's fire.
Vryce just charged, head down, right through the fire and arrows and tiny tunnel and slammed into an orc on the far side. He bounced back and then engaged them. There were a lot of them. He quickly spotted a "shaman" and charged after him, but even at full tilt he could only get close to the guy before he was cut off by a troll and a half-ogre with a big shield and a bigger mace. Orcs piled in from both sides.
Raggi went up the tunnel, catching fire as he did, and then getting attacked while stuck in the tunnel. He shoved through and knocked down the orc blocking him and then started attacking. Dryst put Great Haste on him.
What followed was a brutal close-in fight. Vryce was quickly surrounded but put his back to a wall and started cutting down orcs. Raggi jumped into a mass and used Great Cleave plus his Trademark Move (a mildy Deceptive swing to the neck) to decapitate or neck-slice orcs. Asher pushed through next, after Dryst extinguished the flames magically. Following Asher can Al Murik. An orc bottled them up as Raggi went down with a crippled leg from an orc's strike. Despite the leg, Raggi rolled over and lopped the arm off the orc that hit his leg. Al cast Major Healing to get the now-berserk able to stand back up. He also rolled a timely 3 on a Command spell on an orc holding the narrow gap to "Fall down!" and he did; Asher stabbed him in the back and then stepped on top of the surprised orc. Raggi took out more orcs even as he scrambled to his feet.
Vryce kept steadily picking off orcs, but with his back to the wall he had no where to go. The troll moved into close combat and grappled him. Lucky for him, he was able to put off an Attack to Break Free and roll a max-CP effect roll and rip free of the troll's grasp.
As this happened, the hallway ahead was also sealed with a wall of earth, trapping a bunch of orcs on the side with the PCs. The trapped orcs fought on. The half-ogre took a heavy swing at Vryce but rolled an 18 and broke his big mace/club. Vryce knocked him down.
The other PCs kept moving through the gap, into a hallway choked with orc corpses. It took a while, even as The Lord of Spite stomped down the hallway towards them. They wanted to fight him, but not with their backs against a wall and with orcs ready to swoop in and attack if they win at great cost, or to finish them if they lose and the Lord of Spite left them (like last time.) Al Murik and Asher did some damage to one orc before Raggi hacked it to death, then moved across a carpet of bodies to watch the now-quiet right side of the fight.
Once they got through, Dryst sealed the hole back up. It'll only last 24 hours, but that was plenty.
The last of the orcs was killed - they fought on bravely but hopelessly. Raggi and Vryce put down the troll and the last of the orcs, and Raggi's berserker rage subsided. Vryce quickly took out two flasks of oil (the Molotovian Cocktail kind, not the lamp kind) and spilled them on the troll. Asher lit it up with his flaming sword and the troll charred up (it was already well on the way to -10xHP thanks to Raggi whacking it after Vryce carved it into pieces.) As this happened, the Lord of Spite reached the wall and started banging on it with his stone axe and/or club.
The PCs did a quick look - easily spotted purses, easily taken jewelry or whatever, and easily-grabbed bows and scimitars. They also put finishing whacks in on many of the orcs. But they were worried by reinforcements, the Lord of Spite bashing the wall down, and more, so they didn't do a thorough job of any of it. Still, getting some loot, some ensured deaths, and left the orcs less weaponry to pass on to other orcs.
They rapidly fled to the lower levels, and worked their way out and then back to Stericksburg.
The pictures of the fight are courtesy of andi jones, who also did the death markers, flame counters, and walls. We didn't have the heart to tell him they needed to be two hexes since he'd already made so many by the time we realized he was doing them.
Sean Punch's "Wizardry Refined" helped a lot - we needed to know if Dryst could use Weather Dome. He can't, so we needed the alternate prereqs list, too, for Force Dome.
Vryce's player was a little annoyed he couldn't parry the troll stepping into close combat and grappling him. We usually allow a non-C parry to do so on the initial turn of step in. But I figure you need room to do it, and room to back up - and he was literally against a wall to ensure he couldn't be flanked, so the troll stepped inside his long reach and then grappled. So, basically, too bad, it's a tactic that needs room.
Raggi was pleased and he's back to "normal." He was able to get himself coated with blood from head to toe hacking orcs up like crazy. One reason Cleaving Strike is so useful to Raggi is that he's purchased a rules exemption to let him take a Step and use the strike, not just use it from a standing start. So that lets him really get away with some extra killing - it makes it a significantly more flexible ability.
This session was profitable, although not nearly enough for 444 point Vryce. We used a scaled system for it, to discourage bottom feeding. Still, it goes to show that looting orcs of their gear isn't a bad way to turn a profit.
Vryce finally earned enough points, and as we closed out the session he upgraded Weapon Master (Greatsword) to Weapon Master (all two-handed swords) to cover Gram. As I understand it, the plan is to shatter his undead slaying sword, recover its magical tassels, and then put them on Gram to make it an undead-slaying dragon-slaying sword. Maybe. The other option is to put it on his "regular" magical greatsword to enhance that. We'll see what he chooses.
Finally, MVP was Al Murik, whose Major Healing spell was timely and helped Raggi get back up and keep moving.
Not a bad way at all to spend the 50th session of our DF game. It all started with a one-shot of the playtest draft of DFA1 . . .