February 11th, 2018
Weather: Cool, hard and steady rain.
Dave the Crippler, human knight (262 points)
Hamilcar Barca, human wizard (250 points)
Hayden the Unnamed, human knight (265 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (336 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (143 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (363 points)
Raggi Ragnarsson, human barbarian (?? points)
Rolan Liadon, wood elf scout (255 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)
The group gathered in Stericksburg. The original plan was to fight the orcs, but based on the mix of available characters, they quickly shifted to "get Raggi and let's go kill gnolls." So they also got Vryce, who has no interest in the orcs and a lot of interest in delving deeper. They gathered some rumors and Mo bankrolled potions for the less-wealthy delvers. They grabbed their bridge and headed out. Ike provided holy lightstones, and Rolan created magical ones for everyone as well.
They passed the statue of Sterick - Hamilcar spit on it, Hjalmarr shook his axe at it, and Mo smashed it in the face with his morningstar. The others passed it without action or comment.
They slogged up the sodden track up the mountain in the rain. They reached the castle and Rolan spotted watchers who quickly ducked away. He didn't have time to identify them but they figured it must be the orcs. At 150 yards in the rain and gray, it was too hard to be sure. They ended up moving up to the walls with Rolan as cover, and discussed pursuit, but too slow - the watchers were long gone.
So was the hole they dug, shaped shut. They had to climb the walls again. This will persist until they re-open the gate or really take out a section of wall (and the hostile Earth wizards.) They climbed the walls after Vryce used his magic books to Walk on Air up to stand guard. Rolan climbed next but slipped and fell into the mud. Covered with climbing mud, he was able to easily reach the top. The others climbed or were hoisted up. The bridge was left behind in the rain as they wanted to try the tower entrance. They found that unlocked and went in.
Inside was especially damp and wet and dank - possibly leakage from above? It's been raining steadily for a couple of days.
They made their way down to the second level, encountering nothing except rats scattering away and the sounds of dripping water and scuttling things.
They avoided the stirges and made their way to the spider-filled corridors. The way they wanted to go was choked with webs. Hamilcar tried going about 5-6 yards away, guarded by Mo and Hayden, and throwing 1d Fireballs at it. That eventually provoked a big spider to rush him. Mo critically hit it for maximum damage and smacked it into the wall, stone dead. The burning wasn't working, though, just making holes. So Hamilcar put Flaming Armor on Vryce and he marched forward, lighting webs on fire with his touch. Many "small" (fist-sized) spiders fled, some crisped and burned. They found the spiders had webbed up to near the giant staircase door, but not all the way to it. They decided even spiders don't want to go down there.
They opened the door and went in and waited for it to close. Then they climbed down the stairs.
When they reached the bottom, they moved to the intersection room ahead and glanced in at the gate. Still looked "dead." They head the door close and click they each time they come here. They still don't know the source.
They headed in that direction, though, and cautiously forced the door open. They headed down the hallway, with Mo looking down at the floor, Vryce looking up, and Rolan scanning from the middle of the group. Mo discovered a twine tripline near one of the supporting archways that characterize this level's corridors. He saw it lead ahead, so he gently kept the tension on it and tied it off and cut the twine that crossed the hallway. They then moved with Rolan ahead.
He spotted another tripline, leading to a concealed box (hidden behind a lintle) seemingly glued to the ceiling, set to open if the line was pulled. He cut the line and they moved past it, but scraped a chalk mark into the damp wall a few yards ahead so they'd know where it was - the plan being the last person to pull the line and set the trap off to discourage pursuit.
They found the T-intersection that leads towards the gnolls to the left, something else ahead (but they're heard the Lord of Spite in that direction.) Noises alerted them to the gnolls being in place to the left.
Also to the left, someone had installed a series of 4' mortared stone walls alternating left and right, with a roughly foot-wide channel down the middle. The PCs couldn't march ahead three abrast, but had to go single file or two abreast a little tightly. They went single file, with Vryce and Rolan up front. They got to another T-intersection.
When they got there, they heard more noises - low coughing growls, leather and metal noises, scraping claws, muffled footsteps from not-boots but not-soft feet. They started to retreat. But it was too late!
From all three directions - first ahead, and then from the back and side - came the enemy. Gnolls, hell hyenas, ogres, and fire slorn. Rolan exchanged arrows with a gnoll archer, but just didn't have any oomph on his arrows - he wounded it twice, with difficult shots through traffic, but didn't wound him too badly. He dodged the arrow the gnoll fired at him, but it passed him, Hjalmarr dodged (and later realized he should have blocked), and it hit Hamilcar. He was wounded badly.
As the knights moved up, a gnoll spellcaster put down a 3-yard, max-damage Spark Cloud among and on the PCs. They broke in two directions - the Vryce, Hayden, and Hjalmarr towards the gnolls and ogres and the caster, the others toward the back - where more gnolls and ogres and slorn were coming!
(I'll keep the summary brief, here. What followed was a roughly 5-hour fight with 8 delvers vs. 58 opponents.)
The fight in front turned into Vryce handling a hallway full of three slorn, three ogres, and a couple of gnolls. The gnolls went down quickly, but the ogres and slorn just wouldn't die so easily. The slorn kept closing to close combat, their breath lit Vryce on fire, and he was standing on corpses - so he was brought down to mere "normal starting knight" levels. That kept the fight there even, if not tense.
The knights slowly chopped up the gnolls, and Hjalmarr cut one's shield apart with Shieldslayer. Hayden put two javelins into the fray and then managed to enter it directly, cutting down a foe before dropping his sword. He drew his backup falchion, the golden swordsman one, and ended up in the back ranks again. Meanwhile a door at the end of the hallway burst open, and what eventually turned out to be 21 heavily muscled norkers moved in. One of them didn't look wholly, or rightly, norker, and had a greatsword and an axe. The norkers managed to press the PCs for a little while, especially after the gnoll spellcaster put down another 1-hex Spark Cloud on top of Hjalmarr. He quickly moved out, and ended up fighting one-on-three versus norkers for much of the fight, blocking arrows from the gnoll archer.
Meanwhile, in the back, Hamilcar put down Smoke onto the oncoming enemy. That obscured their vision and set many of them coughing (and one, choking). They cut down gnolls as they emerged from the smoke, but also had problems dealing with enemies still fully in the smoke (-4, cap of 9). The gnolls came backed with three fire slorn and two ogres. One of the ogres stepped up and Raggi hit it in the neck, but rolled close to minimum damage. It was hurt - but it could have been killed. It smashed Raggi in the arm, crippling his arm despite his enchanted mail shirt. He hit back with his axe one-handed in his off hand and wounded the ogre, but the next blow he took crippled his leg and he fell, and went berserk. Dave meanwhile killed a gnoll and a slorn, as Mo kept smashing slorn in the skull after he smashed a gnoll's head apart. The back line started to break down, with Raggi down and Mo and Dave up forward a little. An ogre and a gnoll broke through. The gnoll eventually went down wounded after Raggi drew his knife and rolled to it and started to shiv it in the vitals - and then Dave the Crippler hit it and broke its leg - and Hamilcar set its face on fire with a Fireball. The ogre moved forward and fought, too, but it eventually had its head smashed in by repeated strikes.
One of the slorn, though, breathed fire and missed everyone except Rolan. He was hit in the hand, and took just enough to cripple it! He ended up with a flaming hand, a bow dangling on a lanyard, and a lasting crippling injury! He spent the rest of the fight trying to stay out of the way and get his bow over his back.
The fight in the rear left Raggi crippled and unconscious, but no one else badly wounded aside from Hamilcar and Rolan's hand. Multiple gnolls, a hell hyena, two ogres, and three slorn were killed.
Back in the front, the fighting continued. Hjalmarr eventually had a clear channel to the sword-armed norker, who swung at him. He defended and the norker backed off. He drew a throwing axe as did the norker with the sword. They threw at each other. Hjalmarr blocked his, but the norker did not block Hjalmarr's. Wounded, he fell back. That seemed to weaken the norkers, who let him pass through the door and they began a fighting retreat. It cost them several more norkers on the way out. The gnoll archer, meanhwile, was cornered and dropped his bow and drew a morningstar.
The gnoll swung his morningstar and hit Hjalmarr with a critical, and I rolled max damage - 16 crushing. I rolled location and it was . . . Skull. Hjalmarr has DR 16 on his skull. He took the hit and was uninjured. The gnoll died shortly after. Meanwhile, Vryce finally finished off the slorn and ogres after a long slog of a fight - most of which he spent willfully standing in the one-hex Spark Cloud because it was the best tactical position to protect Hayden and Hjalmarr's flank.
Once the norkers started to retreat, heckled by Rolan, the gnoll spellcaster got angry. But Vryce had closed in at this point and stabbed him. It used Iron Arm to defend, backed up and cast Lightning. A second later, Vryce closed in and stabbed him twice more. It dropped, got zapped by its own spell, and lay mortally wounded. Hayden moved in to keep an eye on him. Vryce slammed the door open - and by this time, all he saw were two fleeing norkers, the last ones out. Hamilcar put a 4d Explosive Fireball into them, wounding both but killing (or stopping) neither. They fled.
After the fight, the PCs heard the norkers (probably) making a fair amount of noise up the hallway. They mostly closed the door, stationed guards at the various intersections. A couple of the more bloodthirsty types finished the wounded - cut throats from Rolan and the gnoll spellcaster had his eye ground into his skull by Hamilcar's staff butt. Mo searched the bodies quickly, and Rolan tried to enlist Ike to help him make an axe-handle brace for his hand, bind his bow to his hand, and let him still shoot. It just wasn't practical given the time (minutes, just after an exhausting fight.) The gnolls had some coins, as did the ogres, and the spellcaster had a silver ring and a standard (if cool bone) wizard's staff. Their weapons ranged from sub-par to okay.
They didn't have time or resources to quickly pursue. Instead, they set Rolan trying to figure out where the enemy came from. They found a corridor with many branches. They searched the first two rooms and found one was clearly the ogre room - door opened too forcefully too often, five big fur pile beds, and a chest that was "locked" by ramming a piece of metal into the latch to jam it. They pried that open and found it held silver, plus some gold. They "locked" it and Mo carried it.
They also found the gnoll's room, and tossed that. Nothing special was found, and the bedding included enough for all so they decided the spellcaster didn't have his own digs.
They quickly healed up Raggi (was was up, thanks to Recovery) and got out of there. They didn't hear the Lord of Spite, but they did hear the norkers reorganizing.
So they cleared out. They headed back, walked or climbed or lowered people down, picked up their bridge, and headed home. Back in town, they divided their loot. The chest turned out to have 7000 sp, 300 gp, and a silver necklace with rubies worth 7200 sp. The mound of weapons got a junky rate (20%) in town, sold on Rolan's behalf, and netted less than that single silver ring on the gnoll spellcaster. They handed Vryce 4000 sp and divided the rest up evenly among the others, and gave Hamilcar the necklace as a Power Item.
I forgot to make Dave and Mo make post-delve HT rolls. They searched the filthy, bug-ridden ogre and gnoll bedding. We need to see if they picked up (and need to cure) any nasty infections from bug bites and/or fleas. I'll make it next time, retroactively.
- this is what the PCs call the 4th level. Vryce was MVP because he carried the weight for the group. He's overpowered for the area, really, but almost half of the others are badly underpowered for it. So that evened out to a tough but winnable fight. Good tactics and careful choices kept everyone safe. Injury was low, even given high-ST foes and a dangerous armor-reducing attack spell against them.
- technically, 1 damage of fire will clear a hex of webs (per Monsters), but a 1d Fireball is just a dinky little attack spell. I just let it punch holes through but not clear it. Webs will burn away, but they aren't going to burst into flames and clear the whole hex. An Explosive Fireball would do it, but Flaming Armor worked even better. So would have Flaming Weapon.
- Not many people like to stand in damage or choking, or in vision-obscure areas. That Spark Cloud divided the fight in half. The enemy couldn't make that work because the PCs were too powerful, but it put all of the "utility" characters (scout, acolyte, and wizard) on one side of the fight and the other side was purely knights (Vryce, Hjalmarr, Hayden.) That could have been an issue.
- DFRPG armor makes a huge difference in protectiveness. Vryce has something like 15 DR on his least-armored locations. Folks still used old suits built under the old rules tend to have weak hand and feet armor, but the new rules allow for full protection of everything to a very high degree. Fodder - even strong fodder like these brute norkers and the gnolls - aren't really a big threat. Although Vryce chose to defend against their attacks, he was probably immune to all but the strongest attacks. Maybe those, too.
- speaking of armor, Hjalmarr is now wearing Vryce's old armor, including his greathelm. This is new for him, and I'd forgotten he was doing so. So a number of times he was attacked from the flank and defended at -2. But with the helmet, his flank hexes count as back. He should have had a much more restricted field of vision in general, and been hit a number of additional times. His armor might have stopped the shots, but some of them were fire and would have lit him ablaze.
- Hjalmarr took Slayer Training (Axe Swing/Neck) and Weapon Bond to Shieldslayer. This has made a huge difference - instead of inflicting heavy wounds on the gnolls and norkers and hoping they'd blow HT rolls to stay conscious, he was pushing them right past -HP and into death checks. Many failed, and many were decapitated.
- Really bad luck for Rolan - just enough damage to cripple his hand, and a blown crippling roll meant he couldn't hold his bow. Even if he'd had Mifter Teef he couldn't have done much of anything.
- the group defaulted back to "have the Scout in the middle, not the front" and got lucky with a Per-based Traps roll by Mo. He's got Per 12, so he rolls against a 7, and I rolled a 5 - exactly what he needed to spot the Per-2 twine tripwire. That bought them some time before the surrounding waves attacked them, although not much as they delayed for a long time near the gnolls.
- Fun quote from today? "You have the Brain disadvantage" probably won the day.
- XP was 5 all around (4 loot, 1 exploration), except for Vryce. He took home 4 (2 loot for 20% of his loot threshold, 1 exploration, 1 MVP).
I'll try to get pictures up tomorrow. Many were taken.
(Editing later - pictures are up!