Actual Date: Sunday, May 3rd, 2020
Game Date: Monday April 20th, 2020
Weather: Cool and cloudy near Felltower, sweltering and rainy in the Lost City of D'Abo
Aldwyn Hale, human knight (297 points)
Varmus the Hanged, human apprentice wizard (145 points)
"Mild Bruce" McTavish, Jr., human barbarian (267 points)
Crogar, human barbarian (294 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (431 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human necromancer (374 points)
2 Skeletons (~35 points)
Hayden the Ebon Page, human knight (307 points)
Ulf Sigurdson, human cleric (306 points)
Wyatt Sorrell, human swashbuckler (293 points)
We picked up mid-combat from last time. To briefly recap - the PCs were in a melee with invisible and visible snakemen, flesh-eating apes lurking in 10 x 10' rooms, and facing on the other side of a narrow-barred gate, a naga with Reverse Missiles up and three two-headed snakes each protected by Missile Shield. Heyden fell under the spell of a snakeman's Suggestion power, and had turned to the side of the snakemen - but still retained enough of his old disadvantages to only want to subdue his delver compatriots.
The PCs had split their fighters in two groups, aiming to cut down the apes in the side rooms while Galen and Ulf took care of the snakemen. Wyatt, Crogar, and Galen went to the east side, Mild Bruce and Aldwyn still fought on the west. As the PCs fought the apes, a pair of invisible snakemen slipped behind Crogar and Wyatt as they massacred the apes on the east side. Aldwyn badly wounded one ape, decapitated the other, and then finished the wounded one as it attacked him. The ones on the east tried to maul Wyatt and Crogar but got stabbed repeatedly in the eyes by Wyatt and chopped by Crogar and went down.
Meanwhile the snakemen snuck up on Varmus and Crogar. Varmus was grappled and bitten; Crogar was stabbed. So was Ulf, who had a snakeman move right up to his face and stab him while Invisible. Their smallswords poisoned the victims.
Varmus cast Create Fire on 2 area centered on himself, driving back the snakeman that bit him. The skeletons rushed over to attack the snakeman.
Meanwhile Ulf paralyzed a nearby snakeman.
The gate opened, and the naga and the two-headed snakes moved in. Ulf quickly paralyzed one of them with his Wand of Holding.
Galen at this point stopped firing his bow as a snakeman moved up and tried to stab him with his smallsword. He drew his shortsword and hacked at the snakeman, driving him back. Wyatt and Crogar moved up to attack the two-headed snakes. Wyatt tried killing one snake by stabbing it twice in each eye on one head; that worked, but the other end kept fighting. They finished off the snake, and then Wyatt killed another one with four eye stabs.
Around this time, more snakemen moved in. One in the back threw a 6d Concussion spell near Wyatt, Crogar, and Galen. Galen dove for cover, as did Wyatt, but they took some series damage. Several PCs were stunned. Galen wasn't, and he rolled up and moved toward the snakeman. He dropped his sword and shot the spell-throwing snakeman twice. Surprisingly, he didn't have Missile Shield up, and went down horribly wounded, possibly dead. Possibly isn't enough, so Galen too another turn and put two more arrows into where its vitals should be (if it was a human.) It was certainly dead after that.
Varmus kept fighting with his snakeman, who critically missed and fell, and the skeletons piled on. Varmus, prone, cast Itch on him, successfully.
Meanwhile Heyden shouldered past the skeletons, and ran past the fallen snakeman. (Ulf's player at this point seemed like he was looking for an excuse to use his Wand of Holding on Heyden. I said that was okay, but I'd enforce "My fellow delver did something not quite like I'd hope he'd do, so I'll paralyze him" as a general approach. I'm not sure how, but there we are.) He ran through the fire and moved near Ulf . . . and then turned on him and hit him in the head with the flat of his sword. Ulf was able to defend.
Then Ulf used his wand and paralyzed Heyden. (He may have sparred with Aldwyn a bit first, I'm not sure.)
The naga kept in the back, trying her gaze occasionally, but no one really came close. Mostly she concentrated on spells (she spent some time dropping spells on dead snakes, and casting others.) She mocked the PCs, and when Wyatt killed the snakes she said, "Can you take my eyes?" Several PCs moved to engage her - Crogar and Wyatt and Aldwyn. She quickly charmed Crogar.
Mild Bruce and Wyatt both drew and crushed Strengthen Will +4 spellstones.
Two more 6d Concussion spells rolled in just as Crogar turned on his compatriots and attacked Wyatt, trying to crit-fish. He wasn't able to land a blow but kept Wyatt busy. Aldwyn joined in and pressured Crogar. The skeletons rushed in and piled on Crogar as Mild Bruce fought him. He mostly ignored the skeletons, as he hacked up Mild Bruce, who enraged cut him back and then crippled his own arm with a critical miss. Eventually the group managed to stun him.
Wyatt, meanwhile, faced the Naga and resisted another charm, and dodged a Lightning Stare. He chased her back to the south side of the open gate (at least he saw it as chasing; this was very deliberate by the naga to split the group.) He stabbed her on one eye and blinded it.
Meanwhile, Galen shot down one of the snakemen wizards down. Wyatt rushed the next one and put it down, and it dropped its spell and it went off, stunning Crogar. Aldwyn moved up against the naga, but it quickly charmed him. He had Hide Thoughts-9, and Will 10, and that didn't help at all. Aldwyn turned on his friends as well.
Wyatt stubbed the naga again, blinding her. She mocked him as she was immortal. He scoffed.
As Wyatt ran back, and as Crogar was stunned and then paralyzed by Ulf, the gate closed. Aldwyn was on the naga's side.
She called him over and told he he'd failed her, and to not resist him. He lowered his weapons as she wrapped him up and bit him on the face, inflicting a small bite and a frightening amount of toxic damage from an instant venom. Then she squeezed him (for an unresisting foe I used only HT, not HT or ST.)
Meanwhile the PCs mopped up the last opposition on their side. Galen walked up to a paralyzed snakeman and shot him twice point blank in the eye.
The naga taunted them. Wyatt ran over to the east room and saw a lever. He threw it, and heard a clunk.
Wyatt ran clear across to the other side, and tried that one. It wouldn't move. It didn't budge an inch.
They sent Varmus over to the other one, and they tried it at the same time, coordinated by Gerry. Nope.
They put the other one up, and tried swapping directions. Nope.
The naga kept mocking them, and grew bored and squeezed Aldwyn again, pushing him towards death checks. She dropped him when Varmus created fire around Aldwyn, and left him suffocating in Gerry's Stench spell. The naga dropped him and moved back. Ulf put Sunlight on her to no effect. Gerry left Aldwyn there until he passed out, and then cancelled the spell.
The combat slowed at this point. Gerry took some time to think about spirits and said that nagas wanted worship, slaves, and treasure. They were said to be immortal until killed with very powerful magic or holy powers - basically, Wish or direct divine intervention (!).
They tried to brainstorm ways to get the naga to open the gates. Wyatt suggested to Galen that he take out his gems and show them, and say if she wants them she'll have to come get them - trying to play on her greed. Galen said, "See them how?" - Wyatt had blinded her. Rattling them around? (Wyatt said, "A lady would know the sound of gemstones.") Meanwhile, the naga kept casually squeezing Aldwyn here or there and taunting them that they could stand and watch their friend die. Wyatt answered back, of course, so she bit Aldwyn in the face and poisoned him more. Word games weren't going to impress her, clearly. Mild Bruce called to her and asked if she didn't want a "real" champion. She laughed.
They kept talking about the bars. Mild Bruce tried to lift them, and then tried to pry one up and one down. They didn't budge.
They were stuck, though, on how to open the gates. Mild Bruce tried the lever - no, wouldn't budge. Maybe it would take ape-strength? No, probably not, several of the PCs are stronger than flesh-eating apes.
Gerry cast a Wizard Eye past the gates and sent it scouting. There wasn't a lever or trigger they could see. Wyatt scanned for a pressure plate where the naga "stood" when the gate opened. They couldn't figure out how she opened it, and why there would be a way to open it on the "outside." They were sure their must be a lever on the inside, where the naga was.
The naga dragged Aldwyn off to her treasure pile. She bit him again, and gave him a squeeze . . . and he rolled a 17 on his death check. Despite Hard to Kill he was mortally wounded.
As they brainstormed, time passed. They'd forgotten about the paralyzed, charmed delvers. (To be fair, I think some players never got the message that we dropped out of combat time. I'm not sure I was explicit about it, but they took about 10+ minutes of discussion about what to do, combinations to try, zipped themselves around on the map, discussed how long things would go, etc. - I always drop out of combat time the moment it goes from "FIGHT!" to "Well, what's next?" Also, they started doing some non-combat-timed actions.)
The paralysis on Heyden wore out. So he moved up, carefully, to Ulf, as literally everyone else was crammed down at the gate or the levers. Ulf took a knee to ask the Good God for guidance on how to open the gate / kill the naga . . . just as Heyden rushed up with a Move and Attack. He missed, as Ulf tried to get away. A second later, as Ulf yelled for help, Heyden struck again . . . and wounded Ulf badly. They tried to incapacitate Heyden. He took another swing, and killed Ulf outright, putting him right to -5xHP. Galen, now "out for blood," put two arrows into Heyden. He blocked one, and the other went right into his vitals. Heyden passed out a moment later. Galen almost finished him off, but made a self-control roll against Bloodlust.
They realized Crogar was next, and quickly tied him up with lots of rope.
After a while Gerry cancelled some spells and put Dark Vision on and explored south, eventually finding a way "out" to the jungle.
Eventually Varmus (played by Aldwyn's player) decided to cast Mage Sight on someone (I forget who) and had them check things out. The bars weren't magical. The "stuck" lever had a temporary spell on it.
They sent over Gerry to use Dispel Magic. He cancelled most of his ongoing spells and cast it. He beat the naga's spell(s) by a wide margin. They pulled on both levers and they end down . . . and the gates parted. The PCs rushed in.
The naga was waiting, and she healed up in the 20+ minutes that had gone by while the PCs figured out how to get through the gate.
Wyatt rushed up. But his Hide Thoughts had ended a while after Ulf died. The naga took him over with ease. He slashed at Bruce's legs, wounding him.
What followed was a running battle. They charged in after the naga. Galen shot at the naga and found she'd shifted to Missile Shield. not Reverse Missiles, which was lucky for him - his Missile Shield was off. Wyatt moved in on Bruce but Galen shot him in the leg and crippled him. Galen drew his sword and rushed in to cut it, but fumbled it and dropped it, and so swapped back to his bow. The naga moved around, and tried to bite and cast Lightning Stare fairly often. The skeletons fought Wyatt and eventually beat him into unconciousness.
The naga ended up snaking back and forth through the grate, splitting the group again, and dropped the gate (with Manipulate, obvious to at least a few players.) That put Valmus and Gerry on one side, Galen and the skeletons and Bruce on the other side.
They ran around a lot, with the naga keeping ahead as best it could, as Bruce slowly accumulated damage on it thanks to Great Haste and feint-and-attack. Galen had just kept crit-fishing, hoping to get through Missile Shield on a 3-4 (thanks to our long-time house rule.) But he gave up grabbed his sword just as Bruce closed in. Finally Bruce got frustrated and used two AOAs in a row. The naga grappled him and then bit him twice, poisoning him and then squeezing him. He tried to break free, and just managed . . . and passed out.
It was down to Galen and the naga. Gerry kept up Great Haste on him as best as possible, and the skeletons crowded it. The naga was very badly injured at this point, and its bites, Lightning Stare spells, and Phase spells kept it going but Galen defended when it mattered.
Galen hit the naga a couple more times - and it faded away into a ghostly form, and then to nothing. She said, "You've destroyed this form. I am immortal. I will return for my revenge."
They checked on Aldwyn, who was mortally wounded. He checked his HT . . . and rolled an 18:
That's where we ended it. I handwaved the trip back and we handled that by email.
We ended right after the fight, as soon as we determined Aldwyn's fate. We handled the loot, etc. by email, and I'll add that later or in another post.
I'm sure when I write these that my players and the readers would love a blow-by-blow of the whole combat. That's really hard for me to keep straight, because as the GM I'm constantly juggling the entire combat. It's hard for me to untangle it all and explain it from the beginning. Plus, the combats are messy and long. I don't have the patience required to go back and lay it all down. I just keep in mind the summaries are first and foremost a record of who adventured and what bits happened in that session . . . not what happened second by second. If I get the bits down we'll need to remember for later ("What was that guy's name?" "Where did we get those Braces of Shock? Did we sell them?" etc.) then I'm satisfied. Even so, these take multiple hours. Ugh.
The naga's "charm" is pretty powerful. It's quite lasting (at least days on a failure) and very strong - you get Fanaticism (Naga). I told people specifically this was strong enough to override their other disadvantages in a conflict. I also pointed out that they were on the naga's side in every way possible, and could and should act without specific orders. If anyone got a little cute, I would overrule them. So they generally played pretty viciously. Crogar's player asked his dad the best way to kill a high-defense Swashbuckler, for example. Wyatt chose poorly on trying to hamstring Mild Bruce - his damage, and the rules we're using (non-accumulating crippling) meant that he was totally unable to do it. Stabs to the vitals would have been better.
"Look at her feet" worked well against the naga, because although all attacks are Wild Swings (-5, skill cap 9, etc.) unless you target the feet and legs, she's vermiform so "body" was effectively available, too. Attacking her without that, and without Hide Thoughts, nearly caused a TPK or at least a complete defeat. The enemies made mistakes, too. They really should have opened up with their concussion spells before sneaking up and attacking, to better disrupt the PCs. But hey, the enemy doesn't always do things right. In this case it was just me jumping the gun on the close-in assault. Still, the PCs generally handled their end better . . . they just made the near-fatal flaw of sending normal-Will delvers up against a foe that charms.
Sometimes something is so obvious from the GM's side of the screen, but not from the other side. The players just couldn't figure out the level-based doors, or how they made sense. Why were their levers on their side of the gate but not the other side? How could the naga get in and out if it wasn't for a lever on the other side? It's only later, after the mid-fight-pause Wizard Eye exploration that revealed a way out that someone suggested that they were on the inside, not the outside, of the barrier. Yes, exactly. The snakemen and naga had chosen to fortify the area backward, possibly because of the PCs and their all-too-obvious mission target, but yes . . . this is a gate preventing entry and the PCs were inside. They also struggled a bit with how the gate was closed so easily. That's easy - a mechanism to allow pulling one lever to close the door, but two to open it. Why that way? Always make it easier to slam the gate closed than open it up.
Heyden's player is considering having Heyden retire from play after Vrycing Ulf. We'll see if that holds up post-Resurrection.
MVP was Galen for obvious reasons.