The PCs raided the orcs last session, but weren't satisfied with the damage they inflicted. They decided to pile on.
Date: Sunday, June 9th, 2019
Weather: Hot, clear, sunny.
Aldwyn, human knight (274 points)
Bruce "the Mild" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (267 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (254 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (250 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (409 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (332 points)
5 Skeletons (~25 points)
Skull Spirit (?? points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (261 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
The group gathered in town, planning to raid the orcs a second time. They looked around for Orcish Bob (and anyone else) but found no one. They decided to look for Raggi and luckily found him. They gathered rumors, hearing that the big sphere that destroyed their Wizard Eye was a Bronze Beholder (like a bronze spider!), that the cone-hatted cultists have been seen in Arras, the big city to the west, and that a plague of trolls has been threatening the Cold Fens and the nearby town of Swampsedge. Wyatt got his foot stomped hard during a bar brawl (18 on Carousing), and decided that bar wasn't the best place to go drinking. Raggi disagreed - the "Brawl and Brew" is one of his favorite places!
Ulf started to plan a complex plan, but it depended on having a scroll of No Smell. So Ulf went shopping but couldn't find one - in fact, thanks to a terrible roll, no one in town makes those. Oh well, they'll need to learn it themselves or special order it from out of town. That killed that plan.
So they just set out with fairly mundane gear and off to the dungeon. The plan was, as usual, to go through the "dragon cave" to bypass the orc-held pillboxes at the front entrance and the locked spiral staircase door. All of the other entrances known have been blocked off.
When they reached the dragon cave, though, they found it wasn't abandoned anymore. It smelled of smoke, and there was a pile of discarded bones, skin, and other bits off to one side. Galen sneaked up and found it included a number of deer and a medium-sized owlbear (based on the beak and feathers.) He checked for tracks and found that a giant-sized humanoid - with big, wide feet - and between 12-18 dire wolves had been around.
Mild Bruce said it was clearly a hill giant and a pack of dire wolves. So they sent Galen ahead to scout as they moved up. Galen moved into the cave, Invisible and with Dark Vision. He went into the cave and found it empty of occupants but with clear signs of a pack of dire wolves and a giant. He found a big club leaning against a wall near a cookfire from the night before, chewed up bones (and dire wolf scat) in the corners, and a pile of mixed-sized roundish boulders. It stank of urine and wet dog. He searched a bag near the fire and found some wool cloak with half a wheel of hard cheese wrapped in it (he took that), an axe-head turned scraper, some gold and silver coins, some loose caltrops, and some other knickknacks. He took the valuables and the cheese and left.
They group came back in and quickly moved into the cave. They debated destroying - or stealing - the club to disarm the giant but realized it wouldn't do that. They followed their usual path deeper into the dungeon and eventually up to the second level. There, Galen found the room at the top of the stairs was guarded by two orcs near the door, on semi-alert, but at the top of the stairs was a greased area with one pack of caltrops scattered over three hexes, just enough to possibly catch the unwary. He hopped over the grease and shot both orcs dead, turning visible in the process.
The PCs moved up and looted the bodies, which Gerry proceeded to Zombie. Galen checked the hallways and saw orc barricades on either end, near the next turn-off. He heard the sounds of stealthy movement. After a few minutes - spellcasting and looting - the group advanced. Galen, Bruce, and Wyatt went left to cover them, the remainder of the group went right. They stormed the barricades and found nothing. The orcs had pulled back.
So the group moved to the right and explored a room (it had been used for stores, but was now empty.) They then headed to the "pillboxes." Galen and Wyatt covered the left one, while Crogar and Aldwyn climbed up to the right one. Crogar pushed open the trap door and took two arrows, one to the face and one the arm. He shrugged them off (Barbarian DR and Shirtless Savage DR) and managed to resist the poison, as well. He climbed up as the orcs dropped their bows and readied weapons. He moved into melee with them. Aldwyn climbed up
after and engaged the orcs as well. Crogar swung a powerful blow but went for a random location and lopped off an orc's arm and forced them back as Aldwyn climbed up. In short order they carved up the orcs.
They looted them but didn't Zombie them. They headed toward the orc hole, with Galen scouting.
Near the treasure vault statue room they found another barricade, and past it was a big pool of oil with a trail of oil leading away. Galen jumped that and was shot at by two orc archers and two orcs tossed Molotvian Cocktails at him. They all missed as he dove aside, shooting down one of the archers as he did so, but the cocktails ignited a good section of the room and lit the pool of oil on fire.
The PCs either jumped the oil (most) or ran through it (zombies, skeletons, Aldwyn). Galen shot down two more of the orcs. The last one just charged, yelling a battlecry, unwilling to die shot in the back. Galen shot him down in the front.
They looted them and moved forward to the "orc hole" and checked the side passage - nothing. So they began to climb down, Galen in the lead.
The orcs tried a two-pronged attack. Galen ran into an orc with a spear, backed by another, around a corner. Despite bad footing, a bad angle, and trying use a composite bow in tight quarters vs. a waiting foe, Galen killed the orcs. He killed both of them one at a time - shooting one in the arm and leg as he came around a corner, knocking him out from his wounds. Moments, later, as the last of the humans entered the pit, six orcs who'd concealed themselves in rooms near the orc hole tried to rush the skeletons. Gerry dropped down Darkness on the skeletons, who held off the orcs - one wounded an orc, and one particular skeleton crippled an orc's hand, knocked down and stunned another, and wounded a third. The -4 for attacking into the dark hexes confounded the orcs. Meanwhile the zombie orcs and Raggi climbed up. Raggi backed off until Gerry told him the darkness wouldn't affect him once in it, so he ran in and attacked the orcs. He quickly finished off all except the broken-hand orc who had limped away. Raggi laughed at him and went back down into the orc hole.
At the bottom of the hole, the PCs found the same room as last time. This time, though, the orcs had hung a heavy fishing net over the cave mouth exiting the room. So now a climb would reach a net, and cutting it would be a laborious process of sawing and slicing.
At the foot of the cliff were 9 dead orcs and 2 dead goblins, naked and rotting. So they decided that simply had to Mass Zombie them. They used Levitation to put Galen up where he could see. There were three orcs waiting back near the exit from the "balcony" - two with bows nocked but not held ready, one with a mace and shield in front.
They spent a few minutes on Mass Zombie and got the dead to rise. But as Aldwyn tried to arm them with captured orc weaponry, rot grubs burst out of one and four got into him, slithering between his gloves and arm armor! He yelled and dropped the weapons and Ulf leaped into action with Cleansing. That expelled the grubs in the nick of time (I'd rolled a 4 for the number of seconds before they did more injury). They stomped grubs and backed off from the dead. Gerry told them to arm themselves and they did.
(Amusingly, that's all they ever were used for, although they had big plans to send them at the orcs to inflict the rot grubs on their enemies.)
They used Levitation to get Ulf up the cliff to the edge and Silence so he could hammer in spikes without the orcs hearing (they said "alerting" them, but they were clearly alert). They'd had Galen tied one rope to both with a line between them.
They sent the orc zombies climbing up to cut the net with their axe and scimitar. As they did, though, the orc archers shot at their hands. The sawing wasn't going well, either, as the net was strong, the weapons not especially sharp, and one-handed cutting of a net not an ideal way to cut it down. Galen shot at the orcs at this point, dropping his Invisibility. He missed - they all had Missile Shield! They send shafts back at him, but missed because of his Missile Shield. They crit-fished each other a few times to no avail.*
Aldwyn and Mild Bruce climbed up, as did Wyatt, trying to get to the net. They cut at it as the orcs shot arrows at them which they mostly Dodged. Wyatt yelled to have the zombies climb up and hang from the net as he climbed up. The zombies did so, and pulled it partly down and made it easier to cut. Aldwyn and Mild Bruce forced their way through the netting and attacked the orcs, followed by Wyatt and then Crogar. They fought a sharp melee with some injuries on both sides until Wyatt closed in and killed two of the orcs after someone else killed the third; somewhere in here Mild Bruce broke his greatsword (!) and borrowed one of Wyatt's longswords, and Aldwyn took an axe to the face after a rash advance. But it didn't last long for the three orcs. Wyatt moved up into the larger cave and then backed off when he saw a couple dozen orcs.
The PCs tried to stop and reorganize but the orcs pressed forward as they did so. So they counter-advanced and a melee ensued. First it was tight - Raggi in the middle, Mild Bruce and Aldwyn on the flanks. They planned to advanced into a "bulge" to get five fighters vs. five orcs. Raggi had a "better idea," which was to continuously All-Out Attack (Great Cleave) on the advance (he has a Rules Exemption to allow that). He generally decapitated or incapacitated two orcs per turn this way, and forced himself into the advance mass of more than two dozen orc warriors.
The PCs followed, killing as they could. Crogar announced he was going kill "two of them." He ended up needing to kill a few more than that.
The fight was a straight-up melee. Raggi got hit and hurt many times - his lack of defenses and moderate armor didn't help sufficiently. But out of what turned out to be 30 orcs, he killed probably half of them, perhaps more. Galen shot down several, the other fighters killed a few apiece - especially when they stopped piling multiple attacks on one foe even when said attack was a fatal one (a neck slash, an eye stab.)
Back the orcs was a wizard and a subchief. Galen shot at them but, no, Missile Shield. So as the wizard was casting a spell Ulf zapped him with his Wand of Holding and paralyzed him. A moment later, Galen rolled a 4 and shot right through the subchief's Missile Shield and killed the orc. This was as the last of the orcs was cut down.
(It being late in the real world and) the party being exhausted, they set up to guard as Gerry cast Mass Zombie on all of the orcs still with heads on. They rose, and helped carry the gear of the slain to the surface.
They returned to the surface via the trapdoor exit to avoid the giant, who presumably is going to be unhappy about being robbed. They sold the orc mail (for only 20%, it's junky) and weapons (getting a mere 10% for non-sword weapons) - there is a bit of a glut on the market, and the orcs keep their weapons well and their armor poorly. But even so, axes and spears just aren't in that much demand.
* I allow 3 or 4 to penetrate Missile Shield, per a very old Roleplayer Q&A answer. It's not canonical but it's fun, as you can see later on this session.
In a rare "no, not that" move, I veto'ed Mild Bruce living partway up the mountain when he camps out between sessions. That makes for a little too much chance to a) claim free knowledge ("I live there, what did I see or hear?") and b) kills off too many potential avenues for new adventures - raids on the slums, strange noises and sightings, disappearing hunters, etc. because Mild Bruce should just be there as it happens.
Amusingly, to me anyway, Aldwyn purchased Hard to Kill 1 and Hard to Subdue 1. I suggested he just get HT 10, but he had 6 points and said "I don't have 10 points." I suggested he wait, but nope. He earned 4 points this time. Guys buying Hard to Kill and Hard to Subdue andFit was one of the reasons I wrote the patching and "over patching" series. In my opinion you end up with a lot of "special case" rolls, a lot of questions ("Does my ____ apply here?"), and less overall benefit for similar cost. But my players almost all disagree with me here.
Although the orcs fought back hard, they didn't have their A team to oppose the players and it showed. Few injuries, except for Raggi getting carved up a bit, and lots of casualties. The PCs, for their part, pressed the attack. Even so it was a slow press - a stop to make Zombies, heal, drain FP, regain FP, loot, etc. and even Mass Zombie for several minutes. The orcs were as ready as they could be. I found it odd that they were really concerned about "alerting" the orcs long after the orcs launched multiple attacks on them, and clearly had observed earlier attacks and pulled back. They didn't alert the main force by horns, but the orcs they encountered were all ready for them. Add on the fact that the final battle started around 6 pm, because of the very slow movement up to that point, and they couldn't exploit their attack further. Too bad, because they killed 51 orcs (2 guards, 2 pillbox occupants, four ambushers, five more ambushers, three orcs in the tunnel, three guards, thirty orc warriors, a subchief, and a wizard), which even given a few hundred orcs is a very serious loss. Another hard push - had they had the time for it - could have been decisive. But in any case they gave the orcs a drubbing. Mostly losses in personnel they can afford (schlubby orc warriors) but still losses.
I'm pretty ruthless in play - Aldwyn took an axe when I rolled a hit, he tried to Dodge because he had done committed attack, and was hit. I rolled damage. Someone pointed out, hey, you could have parried with your other sword. Yes, he could have, and he would have made the parry. I said, "You already Dodged." Sorry, the game moves on. We can't retcon turns and decisions based on "I would have" or we'll never finish.
XP was 4 xp each for loot - they each took home just shy of 1000, and coughed up extra to Galen to hit his 1000 threshold - and 0 for exploration. They voted Ulf MVP for the paralyzing shot on the orc wizard. Raggi and Galen were in contention but they didn't want to "waste" the point on Raggi (how times have changed) and Galen lost out to Ulf.
Also, kudos to our host's neighbors, who pretty much started staining their deck when we started playing and worked straight through until we pretty much finished up 9 hours later. That's work ethic.