July 9th, 2017
Weather: Warm and clear.
Alaric, human scout (255 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (304 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (148 points)
Melchior the Malevolent, human wizard (roughly 125 points)
Melchior's Zombie, former Crazy Champion.
Quenton Gale, human druid (300 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
We started in Felltower with a short crew - only three players could make it. They made do with what they had, though, luckily finding Raggi and spending some money on drinks and a crier to find skilled companions. They managed to find Melchior the Malevolent, one of the two they were looking for (the other being Orcish Bob.) The Meeposian brothers were nowhere to be found. They gathered a few rumors - Raggi had heard from a cleric that the good book says you can only really kill a demon lord in Hell, so he said, "Let's kill the Lord of Spite there!"
They stocked up on rope, some healing potions and alchemist's fire, finally got a spy horn (so they listen at doors with less of a penalty), and readied their bridge. Then they headed out, meeting Gale on the edge of town. They'd settled on going down the "orc hole."
They moved up to the castle and did the usual rope trick of getting in - grapnel and climbing a knotted rope, then hauling up the bridge, then lowering the bridge, then climbing down from inside one of the towers. From there they made it down, set up the bridge, and crossed and headed through the noisy room and worked their way down to the next level. They stopped often and mapped and re-mapped, trying to consolidate a few inaccurate maps into one more accurate one. Nothing bothered them - that section of the dungeon is largely deserted at this point. They found the doors they'd spiked open were either closed or hanging open but not spiked - the spikes were gone.
They continued down, heading toward the orc hole. They wanted to visit the altar, since Alaric has never touched it, but there were blockages on the only routes they knew.
Eventually they made it past the statue room and toward the orc hole. As they approached, they tossed lightstones ahead and retrieved them, finally getting one near the hole in the floor they call the "orc hole" and the corner.
There the PCs were rushed - not by orcs, but by goblins - almost two dozen of them. Deeper voices egged them on from behind. The PCs waded into them - Hjalmarr cutting down two, Alaric shooting down one or two, and Raggi rushing up before Gale put down a Pollen Cloud choking off the hallway. The goblins came on, but coughing and sneezing. They got packed in from behind as goblins in front suddenly met Raggi charging them, decapitating goblins as he moved in, ignoring the pollen cloud. They started clumping up, too closely packed to effectively fight.
Meanwhile from behind the goblins came an ogre with an owlbear on a chain and three orcs. They ignore the pollen - and in a moment it winked out, Dispeled or Purify Air'd. Alaric shot the owlbear in the eye, and Raggi stepped up and cut its throat open with his axe. It fell. The ogre smacked Raggi, wounding him and he went berserk. Hjalmarr cut down more goblins. Melchior hit a goblin with a fireball and lit his clothes on fire. Alaric shot the ogre in the eye, stunning him. Raggi chopped him as well and dropped him.
Hjalmarr jumped up on the wing/arm of the owlbear and faced two orcs, cutting one down and then a second later cutting down the other.
In the end all but two of the goblins (who climbed down the orc hole) and the others died - 19 goblins, 3 orcs, an ogre and an owlbear. Raggi calmed down after cutting down a few more goblins. Alaric got set on fire by an errant Fireball from Melchior.
The PCs moved away, knowing there was a spellcaster nearby and wanting to clear their rear before they moved into the "orc hole." The "orc hole" is roughly 45 degrees or steeper (in spots), and needs to be climbed down. Instead of moving quickly, they took their time - checking maps, fixing maps, systematically listening at doors, opening them up, fixing the maps, comparing map to map. Time moved on steadily - over the next 45 minutes or so they PCs cleared out a few rooms, finding evidence of orc sleeping areas in recent use but nothing else.
As they reached near the end of the row of alternating doors, they got ambushed. Alaric was listening at a door with his spy horn. Hjalmarr was covering him in case something came out. The others were spaced a yard or so apart with Raggi facing the rear.
An Ice Dagger shot out of the darkness down the hallway at an angle and hit Alaric, wounding him badly. He rolled a 17 on his stunning check and fell unconscious immediately. At the same moment four orcs attacked (amusingly, as I said "a lot happens at once" the PCs reacted with all of their movement ideas, who is taking out a potion, who is looking where, etc. I ignored them and resolved the rest.) From the ceiling dropped four black-and-dark-green garbed orcs. Gale heard the one land behind him and spun around in time to defend from two icepick-gripped long knife attacks. He managed both, barely. Meanwhile one orc landed behind Melchior and hatcheted him in the head and knifed him in the vitals - combined this put him nearly to -5xHP, and the poison on the blades did the rest. He died right away. Another landed behind Ike and stabbed him twice, and put him prone but not out, but making death checks. The last landed behind Hjalmarr and cut and stabbed him, wounding him badly and poisoning him as well.
The PCs quickly tried to get into better position. Gale kept All-Out Defending and retreating towards Ike. Ike healed himself with his staff and tried to play dead (pretty poorly.) Gale yelled to Raggi who spun and chopped at the hatchet-armed orc who parried him. Melchior's zombie attacked the nearest orc.
In a short but confused fight Raggi cut down one orc and then wounded another, who Gale knocked out with a hit to the head. Another two were cut down by Hjalmarr, despite some hits in return and bouncing some Ice Daggers off his mail. But then the dead ones - clearly dead, heads nearly off - started to stand back up. Gale yelled for Raggi to decapitate the orcs. He started on the nearest downed one. The two that stood back up were quickly cut down by Hjalmarr. The Raggi swept off the heads of the others. After this brief fight (8 seconds, I think), the Ice Dagger spells stopped. The PCs looked up and saw spikes in the walls near the ceiling, to give the orcs a place to hold themselves. No one looking up didn't help here.
They heard noises and tossed a light stone down by the orc hole to keep it lit, and saw many of the bodies were gone.
The PCs healed up quickly, looted the bodies (some weapons, no poison or cash but lots of skull imagery and skull tattoos) and continued clearing the hallway, clearing rooms. They found a few empty rooms and space for an ogre to sleep (not recently used).
Eventually they found a room with a scorched floor and writing in orcish on the wall. Hjalmarr copied it down, and while doing so he noticed a crack in the wall was probably a removable piece. He opened it (with his crowbar) and saw a bar. He fished that out with his crowbar. They opened it outside the room and checked - six buttons, a big stone seal of a tree (a druidic seal, Gale said, but he's not sure who), three agates, and an electrum ring. Nothing magical.
They moved around and found a "new" room, but it turned out to have a swinging spiked log trap that Hjalmarr took right in the vitals. He was pulled off of it and healed, but there was nothing in the room.
They found the battlefield had been cleaned up a bit - the orcs dragged off bodies, it seemed. So they dragged off the owlbear to the side and Gale skinned it (taking about 30 minutes) as they stood guard.
At this point, they decided to move on home, killing orcs as they went. They weren't sure if they had enough to clear the orc hole, with Melchior dead and the orcs on alert and a wizard that would be behind them. Concerned they could be sealed off and finished, they headed home.
They moved to the statue room but had to chop the door down - someone had piled headless goblin bodies behind it and forcing it jammed one's arm under the door. They cut the door apart and moved along.
They took some harassing fire from a crossbow team and two archers but no damage.
Eventually they reached the surface, and scouted ahead with Alaric. He heard orcs in one pillbox, so he snuck up and then coughed. When they opened he shot into the tiny slit and hit an orc in the face. Then the next one, and then the next one after that in the chest. Three down. Gale moved up and cast Pollen Cloud inside.
After that they checked the next pillbox but no one was home. They crossed the bridge and pulled it in and headed home.
Amusingly, Hjalmarr fell 30' from the wall on a terrible climbing attempt out. Once again, the PCs cursed their decision to break the portcullis raising mechanism with the portcullis down and locked.
They headed home, with Melchior's corpse in tow for Final Rest. They sold off the ring, buttons, and gems and the orc weaponry (except for two skull-pommeled long knives) and made a reasonable profit on the trip.
XP was 4 for everyone for loot, 0 for exploration (nothing new, although it was new to some of the players), 1 xp for Hjalmarr for his player's excellent mapping.
Once again an expedition against the orcs failed to penetrate the "orc hole." Pretty much this is what happens:
- the PCs march down, dealing with any nearby orcs.
- the PCs realize they don't know bow to get back out of the orc hole, so they want to secure their rear and move away to clear out any other nearby orcs.
- the PCs decide they can't risk going down that hole with what they have and with orcs on the alert, and back off.
Not a criticism, just a factual assessment of the attempts. They'll stare down that hole and think, okay, that's steep and we don't know where it'll come out and we can't go down with a wizard behind us.
The goblin shock troops were fun for me. Goblins have Cowardice, but can be dangerous. It's hard to be effective against vastly superior foes willing to use firepower and lay down magical effects on top of it. Out of 21 goblins who engaged the PCs, 19 of them were slain, with Raggi decapitating about half of those. But the orcs only cared that they took a shot that cost them little.
Raggi's tactics are always amusing to my players. It's really simple - attack the nearest foe with the most lethal attack at hand that doesn't leave him totally helpless, unless he's berserk, in which case, ignore the second part. Not a lot of thought in it. It's generally more effective than trying to chess-move your way across the battlefield managing arcs of facing and which foe you most needs to be hit this turn. Kill what's in front of you and then move to the closest. Repeat.
(For more pictures, see this post.