The title of this summary was suggested before we even started, by Hjalmarr's player, based on the mishmash of plans they had discussed. It turned out to be a very accurate description.
Weather: Mildly warm, damp.
Alaric, human scout (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (280 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (381 points)
Jaspar, human swashbuckler (260 points)
Vryce, human knight (534 points)
We started out in Stericksburg. The group debated what to do, going through a lot of potential options before settling, finally, on two things:
- check out one of the ways down to the "next level" - the stairs, or one of holes - a pit and a sinkhole.
- otherwise check out Five Ooze Corner and clear it out and see what's behind it.
That settled, they found Vryce, who isn't otherwise interested in the other options (find the heads of the Saints of Felltower, deal with the orcs, try out the crystals, or any other of a half-dozen unfinished and unexplained elements of Felltower. He's down for delving deeper.
Vryce did find out about his cursed aura, however, and how to get rid of it. More about that another post.
They gathered some rumors, purchased spell stones and potions, and headed out of town.
At the slums they stopped and made lightstones, having forgotten until then. They climbed up the mountain to the castle at the top, and tried the trapdoor entrance. It zapped Hjalmarr (1 HP injury and 6 FP!) He needed to rest an hour to overcome that, but chose to rest part of that while they prepared to move into the dungeon.
They used the main entrance, sending in Vryce backed by Galen and Alaric, all with Dark Vision and Vryce Invisible. The arrow slits on the pillboxes were opened but abandoned. They made their way across - ferried by Vryce with his boots of Walk on Air.
From there they moved steadily down to the next level, to the giant staircase, and down.
Alaric asked the door on the middle landing to let him by. It didn't.
They found no traps, despite checking carefully, but they found dried blood drops (maybe a week old?) that increased in volume and frequency as they went down. It seemed like something either got wounded and lost more blood as it went down, or - most likely - something got hurt and bled less and less as it came up.
The bottom of the stairs had more blood, some smeared by the closed door.
They got ready and opened up the door. They found even more dried blood splattered all over, and signs something was dragged up to the door through it and then the drag marks ended.
They moved out and to the right, checking the flanks as they went, both scouts in the lead and using Dark Vision. They moved steadily through the level, in the close and "bad" air. Jasper nearly felt weak (but used Luck); Gwynneth did feel weak (-1 DX and HT.) It got worse soon, as they moved along through the corridors, and she was soon at -2 and -2.
Once the group made it to the pit, they took a look down. They could see cave floor below, but weren't sure how deep. They dropped a lightstone and estimated around 100' total depth - but mostly dropped it to assure Vryce he wouldn't be using Walk on Air into a No Mana Zone. With a 100' drop, if that's the same level the stairs took them too last session, then clearly the cave they were in was higher up than the rest, but it would match with the sinkhole they found earlier.
Vryce put Walk on Air on himself and walked down. He got part of the way down, spiraling his way down, and looked around as he did. He saw the cave opened out to the "rear" (facing the pit) but was he was near the wall facing towards the pit. To the upper left was a cave branch, and to the upper right as well. Behind was a big cave area. Maybe 100' or so way was a lump on the floor that was moving rhythmically. He stopped and took a long look [and rolled a 4 on Per] and realized it was a dragon. About the same size as the last one he fought, too.
He immediately came right back up and told the group, wanting to get that lightstone but not wanting to risk it.
They immediately hustled to the room with the trapped chest they'd looted a few sessions back, closed the door, set up Galen to guard, and got to plotting.
It came down to two things - go for the dragon right now, or go for it later. Hjalmarr wanted to go for it later. They had 90' of rope ladder, but he wanted to get scrolls or spellstones of Resist Fire (they couldn't be sure of the color, but they suspect it uses flame), numerous other magical enhancements (I wasn't paying attention to the list). Vryce was bemused that Hjalmarr wasn't constantly readily to fight dragons. Alaric was pretty harshly critical of Hjalmarr. "Doesn't the proverb say, fortune favors the prepared?" said Hjalmarr. After a lot of discussion, to the dismay of Alaric and Jasper, they decided not to go after the dragon. The inability to easily recover valuable bits off the corpse or carry away loot - or even to get to the dragon en masse while it was sleeping - didn't help persuade the reluctant. Hjalmarr is obsessed with slaying dragons, though, and he wanted to find another way down to reach it. The "natural staircase" was an option, but it would cancel their light sources.
They decided to try the chained giant double doors. [I believed there was discussion about they leading to the dragon, or another dragon, but I'm not sure why. I don't always listen.] They headed there.
After some examination, they decided they didn't have an easy way to open the doors. The chains had links as thick as a strong man's arm, and two chains ran through four staples (two in the doors, two in the walls) without locks or obvious weak points. All were Magic Resistance -10. They decided to move on.
Next up was Five Ooze Corner.
They passed through the room with the gunk on the floor. They used Create Earth to cover it, but an 18 on that caused the gunk to spread out 30' or so in each hallway instead. They re-tried and got it covered enough to walk on.
They'd learned their lesson from the last ooze fight . . . sort of. They opened with everyone ready to fight, and a 12d Explosive Fireball that did 45 damage to the Ooze Pond. It wasn't nearly enough, even though it damaged it badly. It responded by breaking off oozes, one per second, for the next six seconds. Those rushed the PCs at Move 8. The PCs held their ground, and Vryce crushed a Resist Acid spellstone. They sliced into the ooze as it rushed them, and Gwynneth threw another Explosive Fireball. She hit but it dodged, and the fireball explosed between the first two slimes harmlessly.
The slimes kept coming, and came along the walls, floor, and ceiling, and closed with and partly overran the PCs. Soon Gwynneth was down - she dove prone to dodge a stinging swat but was hit in the face anyway and hurt badly. She wasn't out, but was hurt. Not so badly that she risked losing an eye, but enough to keep her worried. Hjalmarr was hit several times and his armor corroded. Jasper lost his staff hitting one twice only to have his weapon disintegrate into half of a staff. Arrows and strikes hurt the oozes but didn't do that much.
They managed to slay one with an Explosive Fireball, but then another one was split into two with blows. Meanwhile, they could see that in a matter of a handful of seconds the ooze pond had fully healed!
Gwynneth put up a wall of earth with Create Earth and then turned it to stone a moment later with Earth to Stone. That cut off the pond and two oozes.
They started to move back, and another ooze was split in two. Alaric was hurt by one of them that lashed him in the skull, but he managed to stay up.
At this point, they ran. Almost none of them could escape the oozes. Alaric took off, confident he only had to outrun his "friends," not the oozes. Soon after the rest of the party followed. Vryce basically ordered Jasper to run, and he did so reluctantly. Gwynneth managed to cast Flight and took off after the group.
Vryce and Hjalmarr fought a rear guard. Then Vryce moved off to shield Jasper, leaving only Hjalmarr, who was slowest and needed to be last man out.
Almost 20 seconds after the fight began the PCs were in full flight. Most of them mostly remembered how to get out. Gwynneth lost track and had to stop and get out her map, but then saw Alaric and Jasper run by and followed them.
Hjalmarr dumped his pouch of rations, spilling salted cod and pickled herring all over the floor. The oozes went for it, and he turned and fled.
They managed to make it back to the stairs. Exhausted, they dragged themselves up to the middle landing and rested a short time, and the longer at the top.
They decided to make a go at the alter, hoping for a lucky conversion of silver into gold. They moved their behind the scouting of Galen, eventually reaching a rubble-choked corridor. They moved up to the next room, and there was a barricade off to the side. Figuring it was unsafe to dig with a barricade nearby the orcs could shoot through, they backed off to the first corridor and started to clear it.
They cleared a few yards before Gwynneth critically failed Shape Earth again and accidentally turned the rubble into a solid stone plug . . . worked, effectively, and too expensive to shape. As they backed off, though, Galen and Alaric took arrow fire. Galen spotted them and dodged one but another hit him in the chest. It bounced off of his enchanted mail. Alaric took one into his chest and fell, stunned. Galen reacted by putting two arrows into two arrows slits in a clearly moved barricade. They orcs had moved up, silently - Wall of Silence perhaps? He saw two orcs disappear, and kept up two shots per second for a few seconds as he marched forward. He didn't bother to tell anyone what he saw, but they saw Alaric fall. Hjalmarr charged, backed by Jasper, as Vryce casually moved to guard their flank.
Hjalmarr rushed the barricade and slammed it down. As he smashed through he took arrows, three of which hit and wounded him. Jasper came around his flank. He turned and rushed the next barricade.
As he did, Galen ran up and around the corner and shot, twice, loosing again through 8" loopholes, on the run, at a target he couldn't see until a split second before he loosed. He hit with both, hearing yells of pain. The orcs yelled, and Galen understood them to say, "It's him!" and "Get him!" (Galen speak Common, Elven, Orcish, and a bit of Goblin.) Flattered, he ducked back as they launched arrows at him and ignored the immediate threat of Jasper and Hjalmarr. He ducked around the corner, and then leaned back and wounded two more orcs.
Hjalmarr hit the barricade and put it down on two wounded orcs and run up it, along with Jasper. Two orcs fled pell-mell away from them. Galen shot them both in the back, in the vitals, and killed them both outright. Orc voiced in the distance suddenly muffled a bit.
Jasper slew the two arrow-wounded orcs stuck under the flimsy barricades (how flimsy? 3 for $8.88 at Orc-Mart flimsy.) Hjalmarr took a position near the next room. As Jasper bashed skulls, Galen ran by (he's at No Encumbrance and Move 10.) They saw a stone wall - clearly the orcish Dirt Mage had put up a wall and converted it to stone.
They looted the orc bodies of their bows and axes and cash and headed back out, giving up on the altar until next time.
They made their way to the trap door. Hjalmarr opened it . . . and the latch had been rigged with a primitive striker and coated with flammables. It blasted him in the face for 5 burning damage. His remaining eyebrows were gone, and he was annoyed. He patted out him burning clothes and they headed home.
They managed to get a modicum of loot for the three newbies (Alaric, Gwynneth, Jasper) but otherwise lost out badly.
Having Hjalmarr's player as our Combat Coordinator worked well, although it broke down as he got a little tired and distracted (see?). I'll post separately about this.
Hjalmarr has Obsession (Kill dragons). Should he have been compelled to attack it right away? He felt no. Alaric felt yes. I stayed neutral on this. Hjalmarr is a naturally cautious type - and being slain and brought back multiple times hasn't made him any more bold. He intends to come back, but wanted to spend the rest of the session doing other things and coming back. Vryce was a bit bemused, since he had everything he'd want to go fight a dragon on him - the idea that you'd need to go back to town for spell stones and scrolls and whatnot to fight it, not just pull from your ready stores, is alien to him.
We do need to make a Hjalmarr the Cautious Viking book of proverbs, though. "Look both ways before you cross the sea." "One does not just hop in a longship and go raiding." (One does, apparently, if one is fighting unprepared fellow humans, otherwise, no.) "Fortune favors the prepared." And so on.
So this was try #2 at the Ooze Pool at Five Ooze Corner. It was a better try, but not enough. Even a 12d fireball doing 45 damage is only enough to force a single death check on a 22 HP creature, and that's less than the ooze pool had. With the ooze that was slain, but the two that were split, they ended up killing one of 6 oozes and splitting two others into 4, for a net +3 oozes. The ooze pool is stronger than before they attacked it.
Three things saved the party - 1) Gwynneth's player didn't realized that "half Move and Dodge" is also tied to injury. She should have been at Move 5, not Move 10, and 2) I forgot to check corrosion's effect on the Skull. Alaric should have taken 8 injury, not 2, which would have changed his situation. Oh well, I guess this one just grazed him somehow. My mistake. 3) was a lucky roll when Hjalmarr dropped his pickled herring and salted cod - I gave it a 9 or less to distract 1+ oozes and rolled an 8. Then I rolled a 5, meaning all of the nearby oozes went for it.
Scouts are fun, and Galen is especially fun. He took on those orcs behind the barricade at a -18 or so to hit - a bit more than 20 yards range, pop-up shooting on the move (so no Acc), -6 to shoot through the narrow slits, etc. He missed twice - one critical failure (a 17) caused him to drop his bow, and one miss that hit the barricade. The rest went through the slits. Many of them were wasted shots through empty slits, but if orcs had tried to take shots they'd have eaten arrows. Out of six orcs he killed four and wounded two badly.
Galen is why the orcs stopped using hit-and-run harassing fire a while back, and his absence is why they tried again. They were not pleased that he was back. More than anyone, including Vryce, he's got to have a rep with the orcs. He's wrecked them whenever they've gotten within line of sight of him.
Everyone got 1 xp for new exploration even though only Vryce went. Seems like the way to do it. 2xp to the three weakest for enough loot for 20% of their threshold. MVP was Gwynneth because they felt she was very useful and needed the point. Jasper's player, as always, voted for himself, but he's like 10, that's probably to be expected. Galen was out of the running because routine shots at -18 are what we does, he's a skill 27 Heroic Archer with a powerful magical bow . . . that is routine for him.
Fun enough session, but still not enough kill for oozes.