Date: November 27th, 2016
Weather: Clear, moderately cold.
Dryst, halfling wizard (440 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (308 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (304 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (148 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (316 points)
Naida River, wood wlf thief (250 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (300 points)
Vryce, human knight (493 points)
The group gathered in Felltower, this time with the addition of Naida River but without Dave. Dave had been summoned by his friends Mario and Yoshi to Dinosaur Island at the last second. The group gathered a few rumors and headed out.
The group set up a base camp out of sight of the castle. They then sent up Gale, Dryst, and Has', all with Invisibility and Body of Air to scout out the "bugbear cave." The entrance is a slit in a burned-out foundation's wall, in the "cellar" - and thus out of direct line of sight of the castle. But it's also a collapsing foundation so it's not good concealment, and the tunnel itself requires crawling. Not only that, but scouting revealed it had collapsed in several places. Deliberate collapse or just age - it's been years since it was maintained, and bugbears move around after a while and don't build tunnels to last.
The solution to this was:
- scout it out.
- bring up everyone Invisibly.
- put up a Simple Illusion of things just as they are
- Have the spellcasters dig with Shape Earth.
That's what they did. It took almost 90 minutes of casting, resting, moving dirt by hand (which clogged up the foundation area). The others guarded the rear and watched, Naida from a nearby ruin and the others from the foundation. Mo briefly spotted what could be an orc patrolling the walls, but it wasn't repeated.
Eventually they reached a short stone tunnel that connected to a secret door into the real tunnels of Felltower. That turned out to be blocked by 30-35' of solid rubble, mostly rock and earth, but also some junk (a door, some bones, etc.) Dryst used Wild Talent to learn Earth to Air and got to work. Most of the group had to back out to the surface.
Some time after that, they'd created a hole. The top bits of rubble collapsed down to make a U-shape of rubble but it was crossable. They did so and were into the dungeon.
Using their older maps, they found a secret door to a back tunnel and eventually to an old armoury - long neglected, and with the best stuff long taken. After some map consulting they figured out how to get to the stairs down by a "back way" and did so, passing through one of the room complexes where they'd once fought some orcs while under truce and tossed their corpses into a refuse pit. They passed through a door and located a secret door they had on their map but couldn't reliably open. Some inspection by Gale and manipulation by Naida and it was opened and then closed again and its method noted on the map.
From there, they reached the second level and moved close to the "orc hole." They forced open a door (with Silence once they realized it was barred) and went through. Almost immediately they ran into some orcs - it would turn out to be 13 in total. Arrows flew out of the darkness and started to cause some damage - they used armor-piercers dipped in poison. The PCs moved up and into the fray:
The orcs stayed pretty tightly packed but around a corner, allowing their archers to fire occasionally into the fray and their spearman to stab from behind. Hjalmarr opened the fray in his typical fashion - throwing an axe and then dropping his best melee axe on a critical miss. He'd finish the fight with Inquisitor Marco's Mace. Naida popped one with an arrow and wounded him.
Otherwise, it was a mismatch. Vryce was forced to kill one at a time thanks to the orcs keeping pressure on him (with a Rapid Strike Feint-swing to skull combo), and Mo missed a few easy shots thanks to some bad luck, and of course Has' dropped a 3d Explosive Lightning on the orcs and front rank fighters alike, but otherwise, it didn't end well for the orcs. One leader-type tried to run once the fight started to really turn, yelling for help, but he didn't make it - Dryst knocked him flat with a Stone Missile and then Mo ran him down and brained him.
Vryce, meanwhile, hucked a lightstone towards the orc archers, and rolled a 4. It went almost all the way down the hallway and surprised the orcs. Naida shot one (but rolled poorly, and it was bounced by his armor) and Dryst threw a Stone Missile but it was dodged. Vryce got his sling out. The orcs had enough and with a final volley ducked into the "orc hole."
They brained all of the fallen and Gale quick-looted them, grabbing swords and handy purses. (This started an argument about purses being inside armor or outside. Dryst argued they go outside, Vryce arguing you don't need your money to be quickly accessible so you stash it inside. I guess I know who keeps their purse where.)
They started to advance down the hallway towards the "orc hole" but then fell to discussions about doors. Half of the group wanted to ignore the doors and advance on the orcs, arguing any orcs inside would have come out to fight. The other half wanted to bash them open to check their six. The second group won out, basically by starting to do that thing. Meanwhile the light stone went out - probably Dispel Magic, they surmised.
The first down was locked, though, with a padlock from the hallway side. There was a makeshift bar for the door with orc-made brackets. Naida picked the lock and took it as loot. Mo kicked the door open . . . and THUD! A cord-triggered siege crossbow shot him in the chest (I rolled a 4 to hit, he didn't have a chance). He took 22 injury after his natural DR, and then badly failed a poison resistance roll for 8 injury more. He stepped back.
The room had damp-ish straw, some scat, and the crossbow. No one wanted to risk more traps. As this went on, Ike moved over and started working on Mo, healing some of his wounds. But they'd forgotten to set up to defend themselves and the orcs at the "orc hole" had come back. Ike took an arrow. They quickly put Missile Shield on him as the orcs beat feet again.
The group abandoned the plan to deal with the doors and moved to the "orc hole." There they took arrow fire from two directions - and a Wizard Eye left near the intersection behind them by Dryst showed two orcs with bows. They took arrows, heard a door slam - and repeat. They chased after some orcs shooting from their right - towards their approach last session. They reached the door but then decided to move back. Dryst used Magelock on the door and they moved back. As they passed the "orc hole" they dropped a Pollen Cloud and a Stench spell on it to discourage orcs from coming up. As they passed the siege crossbow Mo tossed an Alchemist's Fire on it since the lantern oil he had (swiped from the armoury above) wasn't assured to do the job thoroughly and the straw was damp. The "orc hole" is in the damp part of the dungeon.
After this, they moved back up to the first level. They basically moved along the corridors trying to draw out the orcs. They took arrows and the occasional heavy crossbow bolt at intersections, which Hjalmarr took on his shield. They gave chase at a quick walk (based on Move 3, maximum speed for the slowest guys) but couldn't catch up. They eventually put up a Force Wall on one side and charged back at some orcs that shot arrows into their backs, but again, they couldn't catch them.
They laid out 5 hexes of caltrops to block a door and then moved around level 1, eventually coming out by the gargoyles. The whole time they tried to walk into clear ambush spots and attract attention, hoping to draw the orcs into a heads-up brawl. But all they got for their trouble was arrows.
The gargoyles were surprised. Vryce stepped forward, and with his default Intimidation (an 11 by default, thanks to Will 16) he said, "Clear out, we're going after the orcs." That was all the cowardly gargoyles needed to hear. Four of them flew off.
From there the PCs burst into the entrance way from the inner side. The pillbox nearest was closed up, so they advanced and opened the metal door and reached a locked portcullis. Vryce and Mo put their backs into it and ripped it out of the ground, despite its locking mechanism - which snapped and gave way. As Mo stood there with all 1500+ pounds of portullis overhead, he took three all at once, all armor-piercers tipped with poison. He was hurt but not down. Vryce ran out with Walk on Air and across the pit, and chased down and killed two of eight orcs he spotted. The others scattered like waterbugs and he was not willing to chase them on his own.
After that, it was anti-climactic. The PCs broke the other portcullis (but couldn't budge it, it's pretty much stuck now), dumped the orc's pit bridge into the pit (they'd later burn it), and explored the castle. The orcs had fled or moved into the dungeon below, they couldn't tell. Their tracker wasn't skilled enough to discern the prints from right now from the heavy daily traffic, either.
The wrecked keep turned out mostly empty, as did some side buildings. A recently-abandoned fire was still burning, and some ale (Mo's favorite - cheap and plentiful, aka Orc Blue Ribbon) and jerky from what he hoped was small deer was handy. He ate some and drank some and scattered the rest and smashed the casks. They burned everything they found - arrows, capes, blankets, food, the tarps the orcs use to keep rain out of the long-burned out keep, etc.
They explored the gatehouse and intact towers, too, finding some very old bones, maned rat bones, a room that had once had four people (probably) fireballed into Hiroshima shadows, and so on. Nothing of value.
So they trashed that, too - they burned the wagon the orcs use as a rolling inner gate. They snapped the chain for the portcullis and ripped off the 100 pound main handled wheel used to crank it and took it as scrap.
They wanted to trash the shutters on the pillboxes but it wasn't practical - they're recessed, small, magic-resistant treated, probably fire-resistance treated, etc. Poking one into flinders with a spear would have been the best they could do, and it would take more time than they had.
Satisfied they'd trashed the orc's area as best they could since they wouldn't come to grips with them, and because it was late in and out of game, they headed home.
Loot was sparse but not bad - enough for a profit for everyone once Vryce and Dryst took zero shares.
The first fight with the orcs took longer than I'd hoped. Again, you put down a battle map and it keeps things clear, but it does mean people spend more time on "I move here, here, and then here, and if I face this way is this arc a flank?" Pretty much, once you want to have Retreat, take advantage of facing and spacing, use your two-hex reach, and have precise knowledge of your hexes it takes longer. On the flip side, having a map speeds that up - mapless abstract is faster than mapped tactical, but mapless tactical is really slow. Like playing chess without a board but not everyone knows where all the pieces are at any given moment.
So Hasdrubel threw an Explosive Lightning spell that, of course, also hit his friends. He said, "I try to keep you guys only on the outer edges of the blast." One of the other guys said, "Thanks!" I said, he just told you that he tries to only shock you a little and you said thanks? Mo's player calls this "Shockholm Syndrome."
I joked the big metal wheel sold for 30 sp to the tavern called the Sign of the Big Metal Wheel, which had lost its wheel mysteriously a while back. It had disappeared about when the orcs fixed the front gate, and this one looks just like the old one! The Sign of the Big Metal Wheel is probably canonical, now.
Not a lot of loot, but enough - the thresholds for guys 349 and under are low, and aren't much higher at 350-399. Still, that's not much of a way to get rich, even with expendables use being pretty low.