DF Whiterock Session 75: The Gricks




Cold (session entirely underground)

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 382 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 451 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 448 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 439 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 454 points

Significant NPCs:

Minia, Human Monster Hunter
4 Gricks

We resumed with the party still in the duergar prison, not wanting to give the duergar a chance to improve their defenses.  Seépravir realized she had a hard time maintaining so many spells while Possessing Minia's body (and losing the IQ and Magery bonuses from being a High Elf), and decided to go back to her own body and Entomb Minia.  Then she made some marks on the walls to make sure she could find Minia again if she needed her.

Zaber and Polly went back to exploring the prison.  Polly asked Zaber to unlock a door to the north, so he did, but then realized they'd already been that way, and unlocked the door to the south.  After heading south, they found another large room with two statues of duergar with beards made of tentacles, and two horizontal ship's wheels mounted to turn winches.  Elias recognized the statue as Sodoutym, the Dark Foe, a god of evil dwarves.  Zaber searched the statues but didn't find anything interesting.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic and found that the nearest magic was a level down.

Polly noticed some large cracks in the floor, separating a rectangular area from the rest of the room.  Zaber looked around the cracks for a trap, but didn't find a trigger for one, though it appeared that maybe that section of floor could move.  Polly turned one of the wheels, which took a lot of force to move.  As she did, the rectangular section of floor moved down a little bit.  Zaber suggested checking the other doors before messing with the wheels any more.

Zaber unlocked another door to the south, and he and Polly went through, finding a storeroom, with a crate and a lot of shelves full of mining gear.  The crate had some dwarven runes on the side, which read "This End Up" in upside-down Undercommon.  Zaber asked Polly to help flip the crate over, and then they grabbed a claw hammer off a shelf and un-nailed the lid of the crate to open it.  Inside was a block and tackle, with a sheet of assembly instructions in Dwarvish.

They moved to the next room, which was full of short bunks and small foot lockers.  Zaber started going through the lockers but only found a book he couldn't read, a bit of stale cheese, and a bunch of dwarf-sized clothes.  Seépravir cast Gift of Letters and revealed that the book was A Guide to Monster Handling, a primer on pushing various creatures around while Enlarged.  Zaber moved on to the next room, and found another storeroom full of mining supplies.  This one also had a create, which was full of greasy heavy-duty chain.

There was one more locked room, with a stouter door and tougher lock, but Zaber managed to pick this one too, after a few minutes.  Inside were several racks full of weapons and armor: knives, javelins, crossbows, maces, mail shirts, etc.  All with the crown-of-bones-and-fangs-under-a-mountain logo that they had seen on the duergar equipment.

At that point, all the doors in the immediate area had been explored.  Polly thought a bit, then asked if they had ever explored west from the tiger room.  After some more thinking, she was pretty sure they had not.  So, the group went back to the tiger room, and found there was indeed a portcullis to the west that they had not opened yet.  There were also a couple of doors in that area that Zaber couldn't remember whether he'd explored yet.  So he peeked between the bars, and through the peepholes of doors that had them, to see if there was any immediate danger.  Not seeing any, he picked the lock to a door to the east, behind which was an empty cell.  Then he picked a door to the south, behind which was a room with several levers.  Southeast was a long passage, with several portcullises blocking it.

Zaber remembered that he played with these levers before, possibly opening the prisoners' cell and then dropping the portcullis on one of their heads.  He asked Polly to watch the portcullises while he played with the levers again.  Two of the levers lifted the the first two portcullises up.  But no combination of playing with levers that he could find would lift the third one.  Behind the third portcullis, Polly spotted two monsters with tentacles and beaks.  Zaber said they should get backup before proceeding, and Polly reluctantly agreed.

Zaber was worried the tentacle monsters might be able to manipulate the levers, so he went into the lever room and closed the door, to keep them away from it.  (Unless they could also open doors?)  One of the tentacled monsters saw the intruders, and walked up to the portcullis and stuck a tentacle through, but they were out of grabbing range.  This was enough for Polly to start loosing arrows.  The creatures bled purple when arrows hit them.  Polly put 4 arrows into one, with the final one being a critical hit right down its beak, which caused it to die in a purple geyser of gore.  The other one fled south, away from the portcullis.  Polly tried squeezing through the bars, but they were too close together.  She then tried flattening against the bars to see if she could see the creature, but she could not, even with See Invisible.

Zaber went back to the room with the levers, which also had two large wheels, and tried turning a wheel, but he wasn't quite strong enough to budge it.  Meanwhile Garreth used Power Blow to increase his strength, then ripped the portcullis off its mounts and threw it on the floor.  Polly, not having shot anything in seconds, immediately ran into the room and looked for targets, but couldn't find any.  Zaber got his crossbow out, Garreth drew his katana, and Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  

Polly, not having any visible targets, decided to just shoot an arrow south along the wall, hoping to hit a hidden creature.  This worked, as a creature that had blended into the wall was spooked by the arrow and dodged, revealing itself.  Polly then loosed a couple more arrows at it, and it failed to dodge them, and left another purple puddle as it died.  Polly wandered south to recover any unbroken arrows, but failed to consider that there might have been more than two of them.  The third hidden grick, on the ceiling, smacked her in the back of the head with a tentacle.  Sadly for the monster, its damage roll was not as good as its tactics, and the attack bounced of Polly's head.  (She wasn't even wearing a helmet, but had Bracers of Force and an Amulet of Tough Skin, plus the protection of her skull.)  Zaber, who happened to be facing that way, noticed the hidden grick as it moved to attack Polly, and warned the others.

Polly shot an arrow at the grick, which dropped off the ceiling to dodge it, and smacked into the floor.  She then put two arrows into it on the ground, one critically, doing a lot of damage and stunning it.  Zaber passed on shooting a crossbow bolt at it, leaving it for Garreth and Polly to finish off.  Seépravir cast Slow on the stunned grick, adding insult to injury and costing it a chance to unstun next turn.  That turn would be its last, as Polly filled it with arrows and figured out where a grick's vitals are.

However, there was still one more, right above Seépravir, which smacked her in the head with a tentacle.  It was hard enough to leave a mark, but the wizard made her stun roll.  Polly shot several arrows at it, knocking it out and causing it to fall off the ceiling.  Seépravir sidestepped the falling grick.  Zaber started closely examining the ceiling for Even More Of Them, but didn't spot any more.  At this point nobody trusted their vision, so Seépravir cast Sense Danger and didn't sense any more.  Polly didn't think that was quite certain enough, so started pulling free arrows out of her Cornucopia quiver and methodically shooting the walls.  Eventually the unconscious grick made a noise, and then Polly made it stop.

There was another portcullis on the far side of the room, which Garreth utterly splintered with a Power Blow followed by a critical success on his Forced Entry attempt.   Meanwhile, Zaber went back to trying, and failing, to budge the wheel.  Seépravir cast See Secrets on Zaber, but he didn't see any secrets.  Seépravir examined the dead gricks for any valuable organs, but didn't find anything interesting under all the purple blood.

Polly walked over to the wheel to help Zaber, and together they budged it.  This caused a rectangular section of the floor to move downward a bit, before Polly and Zaber fatigued.  Garreth came over to help, and Zaber decided that with Polly and Garreth on the job, he could stop pushing.  Elias tried using the power of prayer to move the wheel, to no direct obvious effect, but then Garreth used Power Blow and the wheel moved easily, so maybe the prayer indirectly helped.  The platform moved down about 10 feet, to the next level, and we stopped there.

GM's Comments:

Because of some Technical Difficulties, I didn't have the next level's map completely done yet, so when the PCs reached the next level, we had to stop for the evening, after only about half a normal session.  This is the first time that the PCs managed to get ahead of me, and I'll try to avoid letting that happen again.

The gricks' camouflage abilities are not technically Invisibility, so I didn't let See Invisible automatically spot them.  Zaber surprisingly lost of couple of contests of Vision vs. Stealth to see them, before they got their sneak attacks in on Polly and Seépravir.  However, like many smaller monsters, their damage was too weak for one turn of surprise to accomplish much.  Maybe more monsters need backstab damage multipliers?

Next time, we'll see where the lift goes...


DF Whiterock Session 74: Prison Break




Cold (session entirely underground)

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 378 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 448 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 445 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 436 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 452 points

Significant NPCs:

Minia, Human Monster Hunter
3 Duergar Stagehands
Razor Boar
5 Human Prisoners
2 Dwarf Prisoners

We resumed in mid-battle, with the PCs fighting the female human archer with black goggles and 3 duergar.  Elias and Seépravir, both around the corner from the enemies, moved toward the fight.  Garreth charged forward.  The archer fired an arrow at each of Garreth's eyes, and another at his face, but he dodged all of them.  All three duergar aimed their crossbows at Garreth.  Zaber flew into the room.  Polly fired a glowing bodkin at one duergar's vitals, knocking him unconscious and turning him into a light source.  She then fired two more bodkins at another duergar, who dodged one and then was killed by the second.

Garreth stepped forward and threw a sai at a duergar, who took a major wound but was not stunned.  He then fast-drew a flash pellet (I ruled Fast-Draw Potion could be used for this at a penalty) and threw it in front of the archer, closing his eyes as he threw.  Everyone within 10 yards of the flash, except Garreth, made their resistance roll, but still ended up at -3 to DX for 10 seconds.  The archer retaliated by loosing three more arrows at Garreth's face, but he dodged all of them.  The conscious duergar also shot his crossbow bolt at Garreth's face, but he dodged that too.

Zaber flew forward, still invisible.  Polly put two arrows into the last duergar, killing him.  She then tried shooting the archer in the arm, but was dodged.  Garreth, Great Hasted for an extra turn, went for an All-Out Attack on the archer's arm first, but was dodged.  He then made his self-control roll against Bloodlust, and told her that if she surrendered, he wouldn't kill her.  Seépravir tried Death Vision, but failed with the range penalty.

Seeing that she had 5 enemies, including one with Missile Shield and one with Great Haste, and no allies left, the archer surrendered and put down her bow, which Polly immediately picked up to see if it was worth taking.  She dropped her falchion as well.  Zaber asked what the statues did, and the archer said they were just statues of some evil duergar god.  Zaber flew over to one and shook its hand, which revealed a steel key hidden in the statue's fist, which he took.  He then flew over to the other statue, but it had no keys.  Polly made sure all the duergar were dead.

Seépravir cast Possession on the prisoner.  This gave her access to her memories.  Her name was Minia, and she worked for the duergar as a monster and animal finder, hunter, and handler.  This level was mostly just caged prisoners (human, dwarf, animal, and monster), and was pretty safe unless a guard patrol came up from a lower level.  The goggles granted Dark Vision, so Seépravir-inside-Minia grabbed the Staff of the Beetle (which also gave Dark Vision) from her own slumped body, then took off the goggles and handed them to Polly.  Minia gave a full inventory of her remaining equipment: really heavy (too strong for Polly to draw!) composite bow, fine dwarven large falchion, heavy leather armor with Fortify on it, and a quiver of various arrows.

After a few minutes more interrogating Minia, Seépravir tied her own hands, asked Garreth to keep an eye on Minia, went back to her own body, and cast Hold Breath on herself.  Then she went back to Minia's body, and Garreth shoved the unconscious Seépravir into the Bag of Holding.

The group headed south toward the sound of a huge boar with long sharp tusks trying to smash its way through a portcullis.  When it saw them (through two portcullises) it tried smashing twice as hard.  Polly started threading arrows between two sets of bars, into the boar.  That made it even madder, and it went nuts, and succeeded in breaking out of its cage, and started bashing the portcullis right next to the party.  While Polly kept filling it with arrows, Garreth started stabbing it between the bars.  Eventually, he managed to stab it in the eye and knocked it out.  Polly kept putting arrows into the boar for a while, until she was sure it was dead.  Zaber picked the lock then lifted the portcullis, and Polly started skinning and de-fanging the boar.  For good measure, Zaber ran around a bit and picked a few more locks.

Exploring to the east, Zaber saw a cell with a stalagmite in the middle.  That looked suspicious, so Polly put an arrow into it, with no obvious effect.  Seépravir cast Sense Danger and thought there was something dangerous nearby.  Zaber opened the door.  Polly covered the stalagmite with her bow, as Zaber observed it closely.  He thought he noticed it move slightly, as if alive and breathing.  As Zaber pointed that out, the roper gave up on hiding and fired a strand at Garreth, who dodged.  Zaber, right behind Garreth, was also attacked, and also dodged.  Seépravir, inside Minia's body, fired Minia's bow, putting an arrow into the ceiling.  Polly reacted to the attack by filling the roper with more arrows, slowing it.  One of the arrows was a critical hit, and one of its sad attempts to dodge was a critical failure, so the roper fell over.  While it was down, the roper shot another tendril at Garreth, but he parried it.  Polly fired three more arrows into the slowed, prone, not dodging very well roper, and killed it.  Zaber searched the body for loot, but found none.  (Prisoners rarely have loot.)

Exploring to the west, Polly and Zaber found a room with several levers.  Zaber couldn't resist playing with some of the levers.  Pulling one of them, he heard a crash to the southeast.  Pushing another, he heard a portcullis winching up.  Eventually, he got tired of playing with the levers, and the group went down a cell block passage to the southeast.  At the end of the hall was a cell full of human and dwarf prisoners, with an unconscious human trapped under the portcullis, and the others trying to lift it off him.  The PCs rushed over to help, and once Polly and Garreth both put their backs into it, they managed to lift it up.  There were five humans and two dwarves, apparently prisoners of the duergar.  Elias healed the one who Zaber had accidentally dropped a portcullis on, while Garreth tried to hire them to help carry loot back to Cillamar.  They led their prisoners back to the guard room full of dead duergar, and let the dwarves put on some duergar armor for protection, and had everyone who wanted grab a duergar weapon.  They also gave the prisoners some food.

Not wanting to head back to town yet, they decided to take the prisoners up to the river level and leave them in the care of Vulgaris and the stone giants.  On the way there, they walked past a boarded-up cell, and Polly and Zaber wanted to check it out, but was asked to wait until after the prisoners were safe before starting any fights.  Zaber pulled off a couple of boards anyway, and saw some extremely ugly undead creature inside, and felt that looking at it let it attack him at a distance.  Polly shot an arrow in there, but then Garreth and Seépravir yelled to come and help bring the prisoners upstairs.  Polly and Zaber agreed, but Polly said that if the undead escaped it would be their fault.  Zaber boarded the cell back up, with his eyes closed.

The group walked their prisoners through the Immense Cavern.  At one point they saw a dire tiger in the distance, but it did not approach their large group.  When they reached the north end of the river level, Garreth ferried half the prisoners in a skiff, then came back and got the other half.  When they reached Vulgaris, there was a bit of discussion about leaving them there for a little while, then the PCs headed back up.  One of the giants clearly recognized Minia and was a bit afraid of her.  Once they got Vulgaris to agree to babysit the prisoners for a bit, the PCs headed back down to the duergar level.  With Flight, the trip back down was much faster than the trip up.

Everyone went back to the boarded-up cell.  Garreth started removing boards, with his eyes closed.  Polly kept her eyes open and started shooting arrows into the cell.  She resisted the attacks from looking at the undead creature.  She kept shooting and it kept attacking her at a distance.  Eventually, the undead decided it was losing this battle, and hid around a corner.  (Foolishly, the duergar made a cell with a hiding place in it.)  Zaber started picking the lock.  Seépravir decided to skip that step and cast Blink Other on Garreth to put him on the other side of the bars.  With his eyes still closed, Garreth advanced around the corner at the undead creature.  It attacked him with its fists, while he attacked back with his katana, using his Blind Fighting ability.  Zaber readied his crossbow, in case he got a clear shot.  But before the bodak came back into Polly's or Zaber's line of sight, Garreth managed to kill it with his katana.

We stopped there, with the party still inside the duergar cell block, not wanting to go back to town.

GM's Comments:

The Possession spell is a huge pain and I recommend never letting any PC take it.

Monsters in prison cells are not very hard opponents.  So this session wasn't very exciting.

Pulling levers at random sometimes has negative consequences.  However, pulling levers at random is almost mandatory if you take the Curiosity disadvantage, which is a fun one.


DF Whiterock Session 73: The Zoo Room and the Goggled Archer




Cold (session entirely underground)

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 374 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 445 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 442 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 433 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 449 points

Significant NPCs:

3 Duergar Warriors
Duergar Wizard
2 Young White Dragons
2 Rhinoceroses
2 Dire Tigers
2 Owlbears
3 More Duergar Warriors
Human Archer

We resumed after the PCs defeated all the duergar in the guard room.  All were dead, except one, who was Possessed by Seépravir.  The others resumed interrogating the prisoner, who retained his duergar memories but was completely compliant since Seépravir was in control.

They asked where the wizard went.  (He didn't know.)  Where would the wizard probably go?  (Probably to the Senior Wizard or the Head Usher, down a couple of levels.)  What was behind the door to the west.  (Stairs down to the other arena levels.)  What was behind the other doors.  (Cells with prisoners and monsters.)  Who were the prisoners?  (Useless humans and surface sub-dwarves.)  What fate would await him for failure?  (He'd either be killed or spared, not sure.)  How does duergar enlargement work?  (It's a natural ability that takes a few seconds to activate, lasts about an hour, can be used once a day, and feels awesome.)  Were there traps ahead?  (Not on this level, maybe near The Impressario's quarters.)  Are The Impressario and the Head Usher duergar?  (Yes.)  Where is the best seat in the arena?  (The Impressario's box.)  How do we get there?  (Go down one level, using the stairs or an elevator, then you can't miss it.)  Do we need tickets?  (Normally yes, but since they are On Alert they'd probably just kill you.)

After questioning ceased, Seépravir started tying "herself" (the duergar) up, (Garreth decided to help), then went back to her own body, then cast Entombment on the duergar prisoner, to save him for later.  While she was resting up from all that spellcasting, Zaber heard noise through the door to the south.  Listening at the door, he heard yelling in Undercommon, which he didn't speak, and also what sounded like a huge howling cat.  Garreth, who did speak Undercommon, stepped up to try to translate.  It appeared two duergar were arguing about where to place a crate that was blocking the way.

Seépravir cast a couple See Invisible spells, and a couple of Invisibility spells, and then Zaber picked the lock on the south door and pushed it open.  Behind the door was a room, lit by a couple of lanterns, containing three duergar, and several very large crates.  Each crate contained a pair of animals or monsters: white dragons, rhinos, huge tigers, and owlbears.  The duergar were arguing amongst themselves, not paying much attention, and the PCs achieved surprise.

Zaber flew into the room, invisibly.  Polly shot an arrow at a duergar.  Somehow he blocked it, despite being surprised.  The second arrow hit him in the skull and knocked him unconscious.  She fired her third arrow at another duergar, but it was blocked.  Garreth ran up and fast-drew his katana.  Elias charged forward.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  The surviving duergar, monsters, and animals rolled to recover from surprise.

Zaber flew further into the room and fast-drew his knife.  Once he got around the crate full of rhinos, he spotted (via See Invisible) an invisible duergar wizard in the southwest corner of the room.  Polly shot a stunned duergar again, in the vitals and then the skull, and did serious damage but failed to knock him out.  Garreth flew forward into the room, and spotted another duergar in the eastern part of the room who had been out of sight behind a crate.  Elias also moved forward, and noticed one of the rhinos trying to break out of their crate.  Seépravir also moved forward, and, like Zaber, noticed the invisible duergar wizard, then moved back to safety.  At this point most of the duergar, animals, and monsters had recovered from surprise, and some were trying to break out of their crates.

Zaber decided to invisibly front-stab the duergar wizard next to him in the eye.  The wizard failed to hear him, and got no defense.  The damage was enough to cripple the eye and knock the duergar unconscious, as Zaber appeared.  Polly flew forward and shot a badly wounded duergar in the skull.  The first arrow was blocked (despite stun), but the second was not dodged, and was fatal.  She shot her third arrow at the Enlarged duergar, who blocked it.  Garreth waited for the big duergar.  Elias advanced toward melee range.  Seépravir used Rapier Wit to stun the large duergar, delaying his attempt to open the tiger create with his crowbar.  The large duergar recovered from stun, and the tigers, white dragons, owlbears, and rhino all succeeded in breaking open their crates.

Zaber put his Ring of Invisibility on, then "stepped" straight up.  Polly loosed three arrows at the large duergar, but he blocked the first and dodged the other two.  Garreth's wait expired unused, and he moved into position.  Elias moved.  Seépravir cast Mass Daze on the white dragons, and both failed to resist, so the most dangerous opponents were out of the fight.  The dire tigers picked random victims from among the prey scattered around the room.  The first decided to pounce on Polly, but she dodged.  The other went for Garreth, and rolled a critical hit, but he used Luck to make it reroll, turning it into a regular hit, which he dodged.  Both owlbears moved north.  One rhino backed into the corner, while the other rhino charged Elias, who dodged the slam.

Zaber "stepped" down and tried to stab an owlbear in the eye.  The owlbear rolled very well on its hearing roll and got a chance to defend, but failed to dodge.  The knife went into its birdbrain and knocked it unconscious.  The other owlbear saw Zaber appear, and got angry.  Polly shot that owlbear in the back of the head, killing it before it could get its revenge on Zaber.  She then finished off the unconscious owlbear, and the unconscious duergar wizard, not wanting to injure the cute cuddly natural animals.  (Owlbears are clearly unnatural wizard experiments who deserve no pity.)  Garreth used Rapid Strike to take two swings at a rhino, and did a large amount of damage, stunning it.  Elias smacked a duergar with his flail, doing enough damage to slow him and penalize his dodge.

Seépravir decided to try to save the tigers, by using Create Fire (which needed Luck to succeed) to make a bunch of magical fire, then Shape Fire to form it into a ring, which she could move in future turns to make a wall around the tigers.    The female dire tiger decided to pounce on the duergar, who managed to block the attack.  The male tiger pounced on Elias, who decided not to defend.  It inflicted maximum damage to his torso, which was not enough to penetrate his heavy armor, and also knocked him down and grappled him.  A rhino charged Garreth's back, doing enough impaling damage with her horn to penetrate his armor, but not by much.  The other rhino recovered from stun.

Zaber all-out defended (dodge) and moved into rhino-grabbing position.  Polly moved to where she had a side shot at a rhino's eye (rhino eyes are on the side of their heads; I checked a photo of a rhino to be sure), and then regretfully shot its eye out, fatally.  She put her second arrow into the other rhino's eye, rolled a maximum damage crit, and killed that one too.  She tried putting her third arrow into the dire tiger grappling Elias, but it dodged, and the arrow missed Elias and the other tiger.  Garreth used rapid strike to put two katana cuts into that tiger, wounding it badly.  Elias tried breaking free of the tiger's grapple, but failed.  Seépravir started moving the fire to encircle the tigers.  The somehow-still-alive duergar moved slowly toward the dragons.  Both tigers tried to bite Elias's head off, but his very stout helmet protected him.

Zaber flew over to stab the duergar in the face, rolled poorly, used Luck, and then had his attack blocked.  Polly shot the duergar, ignoring the nearby Dazed white dragons that she really didn't want to hit yet.  The first arrow stunned him, and the next arrow killed him.

Garreth took two swings at the male dire tiger, missing with the first and killing the tiger with the second.  This released Elias to move freely.  Seépravir manipulated the flames to maneuver the surviving tiger north out of the room, then through the guard room and up the stairs toward the Immense Cavern, where she could happily feed on giant lizards.  The only remaining foes were the Dazed white dragons.  Polly took careful aim and put an arrow into one dragon's eye, knocking it unconscious.  Garreth used Power Blow to raise his ST, then chopped the other dragon in the skull, killing it, while Polly killed the unconscious dragon.

With all opponents in the room vanquished, Zaber started searching the room.  A quick glance saw the duergars' weapons and armor, some 10' poles, the lanterns, and a crowbar.  There were also a couple of backpacks, and several potentially valuable animal and monster corpses.  Seépravir immediately noticed that one of the backpacks was magic.  Elias cast Major Healing on Garreth, while Polly started skinning dragons with Survival skill, and Seépravir started cutting deep into the dragons with Surgery, looking for valuable organs.  (She initially rolled an 18, a definite "oops you destroyed that!" critical failure, but her Luck had just returned a couple of minutes earlier, so she got to retry.)  After finishing the dragons, they decided to also retrieve a couple of rhino horns, the skin of the male dire tiger (they had successfully let the female escape), and both owlbear pelts.  This meant a lot of skinning for Polly, and she also had one critical failure, also fixed using Luck.

After resting and looting was done, Zaber checked for exits, and saw three more doors (east, east, and south) and a portcullis to the southwest.  He looked through the portcullis and saw a long hallway.  The door to the south had a little peep-hole door in it, and saw a large room beyond, with a couple of big wheels with handles, like the wheel on a ship except horizontal.  The southern of the two eastern doors also had a peep-hole door, and beyond was a small empty room, like a cell or closet.  The northern of the eastern doors had some noise behind it, clanging and banging and snorting.  Everyone lined up behind it, then Zaber put on his Invisibility ring, picked the lock, and opened it up.  There were no immediate targets visible, just a big hallway with more doors north and south, and a portcullis to the east.

The source of the noise was behind two portcullises to the east: a huge boar, trying to break out of captivity.  Polly wasn't sure if it was natural or a monster.  Zaber asked which door he should open, and Garreth expressed a preference for the closest door to the north, trying to explore in a way that left as little unexplored territory behind them as possible.  Zaber went down a passage to the east, then followed as it turned north, and entered another large room containing a couple of statues of duergar with many tentacles for beards, and a couple more ship wheels mounted horizontally.  Also, thanks to See Invisible, 3 huge invisible duergar with crossbows, and an invisible human woman with black goggles and a bow.

Apparently the woman could see invisible as well, as she started peppering Zaber with arrows.  He failed to dodge the first, then used his Luck to reroll and dodged all three arrows, then moved back out of the room to get out of her line of sight.  A couple of seconds later, Polly decided to make a strafing run.  She ran into the room, fired an arrow, and rolled a critical hit.  Sadly for Polly, the woman had Luck and used it to turn Polly's crit into a regular hit, which she dodged.  She then dodged Polly's other arrows.  The three duergar with crossbows had all been waiting for a target to appear, and they all tried shooting Polly.  One managed to plink her solidly with a bodkin bolt, but she dodged the other two, and got back out of sight.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself, and Garreth prepared a sai to throw if any enemies came into sight.

It looked like a possible standoff, with nobody wanting to expose themself to the other archer, but then Polly looked at Seépravir and asked "Missile Shield?"  Seépravir cast Missile Shield on Polly and Great Haste on Garreth.  Polly went around the corner again, and the archer, who had been waiting for a target, immediately fired at her.  This automatically missed, and the archer fired again, and on the second miss she cursed and said something about Missile Shield.  Polly fired three arrows back, all of which were dodged.  Garreth charged forward toward the woman and the duergar.

We stopped there, in mid-battle.

GM's Comments:

I thought the fight against the duergar monster herders and random monsters freeing themselves from the cages and attacking random targets was hilarious, and possibly dangerous for the PCs since the white dragons were kind of tough.  But the PCs achieved surprise, and then dropped a Mass Daze on the dragons, and then it was not that hard a fight.  Both Elias and Garreth soaked up pretty big hits from large animals with their excessive DR.  Large animals have a lot of ST, but foolishly tend to use thrust rather than swing damage, wasting it.

The archer fight looked interesting until Missile Shield swung the advantage to the PCs.  We'll see how it ends next time.


DF Whiterock Session 72: Invading the Duergar




Cold, snowing

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 370 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 442 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 439 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 430 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 446 points

Significant NPCs:

Chauntessa, Innkeeper and Historian
Vulgaris, Minyad Druid
2 Young Stone Giant Helpers
Alrux, Dwarf Armorer
Quintus, Wizard and Alchemist
8 Duergar Warriors
Duergar Wizard

We started back in Cillamar.  Zaber somehow found the magical thieves' mail he'd been looking for for months.  He then tried impressing barmaids with it, but they were more impressed by his tips.  Garreth went back to Alrux and added some more features to his greatsword on order, and put down a larger deposit.  Seépravir went to the Hall of Worms to do some research on the crown-of-knucklebones-and-fangs symbol found on the duergar weapons and armor, and found that it was the personal sigil of a duergar noble called the Thane of Norborg.  Elias cast another Bless on Polly. 

Zaber heard that stone giants had been seen in the area.  Garreth heard that Quintus's apprentice Lyssa had left his employ, and he was not happy about it.  Seépravir used Seeker to check on Lord Flitwick, who was in a house somewhere far to the south and much warmer.  He also checked on Ashryn, who was in class, listening to a lecture about Invisibility spells, looking bored.  Garreth talked to Quintus to see if he could enchant weapons, but found that he could barely make healing potions right now, without his assistant.

Everyone put on their winter clothing, except Seépravir who put on her Warmth spell.  Seépravir cast Flight on the whole group, and they flew back to Castle Whiterock, encountering no trouble on the way.  They flew down the elevator shaft to the underground river level to check in on Vulgaris.  She was working on her fungus, while her current two stone giant assistants were loudly debating mushroom ale versus mushroom lager, and how females would not talk to you if you drank the wrong kind.  Garreth asked Vulgaris if it would be possible to trick a giant worm into digging a tunnel into the duergar fortifications.  She was skeptical that this could work.  One of the giants mentioned that some duergar had been asking questions about the party, but their leader Lowrek had said he'd never heard of them.  Vulgaris asked the group if they'd mind running some mushroom wine to Cillamar for her on their way back to town.

They group flew over the underground river, avoiding treacherous boating.  After emerging in the Immense Cavern, they headed southwest toward the duergar.  On the way, they spotted that the pack of lizards had grown larger and were ranging farther west than before.  They ignored the lizards and kept flying, until they reached the trapped room.  There, Elias cast Resist Fire on Zaber to protect him from the fire trap.  Zaber still cautiously checked the door for traps, and found that one had been reset.  He disabled it (though this required Luck because he initally rolled an 18), and his Danger Sense went off.  He then cautiously opened the heavy door.  Seépravir tried throwing a Dispel Magic into the room to disable any magical traps, but this had no obvious effect.  Polly tied a rope around Zaber's waist to pull him out of the room if anything bad happened.  Then she loosed an arrow at a big rock in the room, Just In Case, but this didn't do anything.

Zaber slowly moved into the room, until he heard a click, and the door started closing behind him while lightning started sparking everywhere.  Simultaneously, he jumped/dove/flew at the door, while Polly started yanking hard on the rope to drag him out.  He took 17 points of electrical damage from the lightning (that Resist Fire didn't protect from!), but avoided being stunned.  However, this was enough damage to slow him and cut his dodge in half.  The next turn, he wasn't quite fast enough to get out the door before the lightning hit him again, but Polly pulled hard enough to make up for it, and he was out of the trapped room.  Elias gave him a Major Healing, and Elias took a sip from the wineskin of many healing potions, and he was almost back to normal.

There was some discussion of going somewhere that Elias could learn Resist Lightning, but that seemed too time-consuming, so instead they decided to tunnel around the trapped room again.  Garreth suggested digging in a different place that the duergar wouldn't expect.  That would be a longer path, possibly difficult to dig by hand, so Seépravir used Shape Earth.  Garreth suggested that she dig down into the room west of the duergar guard room, but when she tried going down, she hit some kind of no-mana zone, and her spell failed.  So, she dug back near the same tunnel as before, but going north around the trapped room instead of south.  One she got close enough to find worked stone, they switched to manual digging, with Polly pickaxing her way through, after Seépravir cast Silence.

After reaching the duergar tunnel, Seépravir cast Invisibility on everyone, and an additional No-Smell on Zaber.  Zaber flew down the stairs to the duergar guard room and peeked around the corner.  He initially spotted five duergar, but then advanced farther into the room and spotted three more, for a total of eight.  Three of them were Enlarged.  One of them whispered to another, in Dwarf, which Zaber happened to understand.  He said "stay still, wait for it Ralf!"  Zaber inferred from this that at least one of the duerger could See Invisible, and flew back to the group, where he informed them of what he'd seen and heard, in Elvish.  (Unfortunately Garreth didn't understand Elvish.)

Seépravir prepared a Concussion spell, and told the others to leave one duergar alive.  Zaber flew back down the hall, made an obscene gesture at the duergar, and flew back up.  He then poured some monster drool poison on his knife.  Garreth tried singing an offensive song in Undercommon, but rolled a 17 -- apparently all the easily taunted duergar were dead by now.  An Enlarged duergar peeked around the corner, and Polly fired a Continual Light bodkin at his vitals.  But the arrow bounced off and came right back at her, a Reverse Missile.   Polly acrobatically dodged her own missile, and it missed Garreth standing behind her.  Garreth lobbed the returning pearly spear at the same duergar, and it came back too, but he dodged it.  It then hung in the air waiting for him to grab it.

Elias charged forward in front of Zaber.  Seépravir flew forward a bit then lobbed the Concussion into what she hoped was the middle of the room full of duergar.  She was accurate enough to catch a bunch of them in the stunning radius, though two of them rolled 3s on their resistance rolls, showing they just didn't care about loud noises.  Several duergar charged up the stairs toward the PCs, holding their shields up.

Polly plinked a few arrows at a different duergar, but he blocked one with his shield and dodged the others.  Garreth grabbed the spear and used it to Great Haste himself.  Elias moved forward into the Enlarged duergar's face.  Seépravir stopped maintaining a bunch of non-essential spells, then used her Wand of Smoke to fill the whole guardroom with Smoke, to flush out all the duergar.  The big duergar in front somehow saw Elias despite his Invisibility, and made a hugely deceptive attack with his huge axe, but missed.  As he missed, he yelled out warnings in Undercommon about where two invisible elves were standing.  Meanwhile, two invisible duergar came around the corner, and Zaber (with See Invisible) saw them and yelled out warnings to his friends.

Zaber flew up around the ceiling.  Polly shot at another duergar, who blocked and dodged arrows.  Garreth made several attacks on the lead Enlarged duergar's arm, but was parried and dodged.  Elias activated his Heroic Might, using Luck to reroll a bad result, and gaining 6 points of ST.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  The big duergar in front tried axing Elias again, and missed again.  Several more duergar continued closing, up the stairs.  One of them, still invisible, cast a large Flame Jet, which only Zaber could see.

Polly continued loosing arrows, and was finally rewarded with a hit to the vitals of a duergar, who was stunned.  Another one dropped and dodged, and a third arrow bounced off an invisible shield.  Garreth, nervous about Invisible foes who might be waiting for him to do something stupid, attacked more cautiously than usual, and failed to connect.  Elias tried smacking the large duergar in the side with his flail, but was blocked.

Seépravir then cast Mass Daze over an area containing a lot of duergar, leaving holes for hexes containing her friends.  She used Luck to reroll her casting roll (though still only got a 10), and then was lucky enough to see all the duergar except two fail to resist, and just stand there staring into space.  She then added insult to injury by using Rapier Wit to stun one of the two duergar that had resisted.  She pointed out the one that was only stunned and said to take him down first.  Zaber, with See Invisible, noticed that the invisible duergar wizard with the Flame Jet had managed to resist and was still active.

Polly flew around behind the stunned duergar and shot him in the back of the head, fatally.  She then shot a Dazed duergar in the brain and inflicted massive, but not quite fatal, trauma, and knocked him unconscious.  Zaber flew over near the wizard and taunted him, while all-out defending.  Garreth smashed a Dazed duergar in the skull and ended him, taking him to -5 * HP in one hit.  He then repeated the trick on another duergar but rolled slightly worse damage, so he actually got to roll death checks, but rolled a 16 on one and died.

Elias flailed at a hex, hoping it contained an invisible target, but it did not.  Seépravir flew along the ceiling and then dropped another Concussion into the room, hoping to stun any invisible targets remaining.  She then started casting Possession on a dazed duergar.  The duergar wizard near Zaber decided to burn him with the Flame Jet, but Zaber dodged.  The wizard then cast another spell, and disappeared, in a way that even Zaber could no longer see him.

At that point Polly started firing arrows in the general direction of the last known location of the wizard, but missed  Zaber tried tackling where he had been, but tackled air.  Garreth waited, hoping the target would appear.  Seépravir dropped the Smoke, hoping that would reveal the wizard, but he wasn't to be seen.  Giving up on the wizard, Zaber started stabbing Invisible dazed duergar that had not yet been mopped up.  Garreth, unable to see them, followed Zaber's general lead, and managed to finish one.  Elias and Garreth ganged up on the other one.

They never did find the wizard, who probably got away, somehow.  Exactly how, they weren't sure, though one theory was some kind of teleportation magic, which Seépravir wanted to steal.  Seépravir finished her Possession spell on the one they left alive, yielding a perfectly compliant prisoner to question.

The group started stripping dead duergar of weapons and armor for resale, and asking random questions of Seépravir-inside-the-duergar.  Zaber wanted to know where the beer was, and the duergar said it was mostly a couple of levels down, in the quarters.  Garreth wanted to know how many duergar there were, and was told a few dozen in the Bleak Arena, hundreds in Narborg.  Zaber also asked how many duergar were nearby, and was told a few dozen.  Seépravir tried to recall the layout of this level, and remembered it was mostly cages for prisoners and animals and monsters, with a bunch of portcullises.  Garreth wanted to know who was in charge, and found that The Impressario ran the arena, and Thane Hroland Vejik was in charge of Narborg.

Polly wanted to know how to disable the trap, and was told the current password was "Elves must be eradicated and bows should be illegal" (in Undercommon).  Seépravir also gave the previous password she could recall ("All hail Thane Hrolad Vejik, and may his beard grow long" in Undercommon), in case the duergar reused passwords.    Garreth asked about prisoners, and was told the current ones suck, just a wimpy elf bard and some common slaves, no good opponents.  Polly asked about kittens, and was told some big tigers were brought in recently.

Zaber asked about The Impressario, and was told he was a powerful duergar, very tricky, and good at face-stabbing and running the arena, and highly trusted by the Thane.  He then asked about the best arena fights and was told that last year's fight with 3 dragons versus 10 elves was excellent.  Zaber asked if he liked drow, and was told not really.  He asked if the dragons were still around, and said that some new little ones were allegedly just brought in.  He asked if the duergar had ever fought in the arena himself, and was told that guards don't fight there.

At that point the players were out of questions, so we stopped for the week, with the party still in the dungeon.  (They didn't want to go back to town and give the duergar a chance to reset their defenses.)

GM's Comments:

The duergar fought pretty well, until they got Mass Dazed, and then it was all over.  Mass spells from wizards with very high skill are tough.

The PCs (and players) have no idea how the duergar wizard escaped.  Maybe they'll find out later; maybe not.


DF Whiterock Session 71: Annoying the Duergar




Cold, sunny

Player Characters:

Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 439 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 436 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 427 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 443 points

Significant NPCs:

Hugin, Human Mercenary
Chauntessa, Innkeeper and Historian
Vulgaris, Minyad Druid
Alrux, Dwarf Armorer
About 10 duergar warriors
Duergar wizard

The group returned to Cillamar after their unexpectedly long trip to the Far Garden.  Elias got dragged straight to church for questioning.  The others met Hugin at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake.  Hugin had watched the portal for them for about 3 months, before Vulgaris made him take some time off and delegate to the stone giants.  The goblin that they had sent back with a note had come through a few weeks ago, and died in a fight with a giant.  They settled with $20000 as a reasonable price for Hugin's time watching the portal for a good chunk of the past year, and supervising the stone giants.  Hugin took his cash and headed right for Alrux to get a new greatsword made.

Chauntessa had put their valuables in a storage closet, and was ready to have them unpacked and their rooms in the Inn made ready.  She was curious about whether the group had found any interesting books on the other side of the gate, but, sadly, they had not.  The king had visited Cillamar while they were gone, but had not come to the Inn or met Chauntessa.  Zaber asked her if Lord Flitwick had been around, but Chauntessa said he had not, and his house had been seized by the city and was for sale.

Garreth went to see Alrux and order a new sword.  Hugin was already there, trying to commission a huge greatsword, and Alrux was trying to talk him down to a slightly shorter model that would fit him better.  Garreth expressed an interest in having a balanced silvered greatsword made using the orichalcum they'd found.  He ordered his sword, placed a deposit, and began waiting for Alrux to get the tools he needed to work the very hard metal.

Zaber went looking into Flitwick's seized town house in the Noble Quarter, and found that it was for sale for $20000, including all contents, with no proof of nobility required.   Seépravir then tried to get a better deal on the house, and got quoted the same price, but with a free cleaning and a year's property tax waiver.  Neither of them bought the house.

Seépravir wrote up the story of their trip to the Far Garden, and rolled a 3 on Writing for a critical success, generating a smash hit that sold dozens of copies and earned her $2000.  She found that Remy, a local mapmaker, was already selling copies of her book without giving her a cut, but decided not to inflict magical revenge.

Tiring of town, she cast Flight and Invisibility on everyone, and Warmth on herself (November is cold in Cillamar) and the group flew back to Castle Whiterock.  On the way, she also tested the Boots of Levitation to see if they would be useful.  Once they reached the castle, the group went down to the Immense Cavern, where Polly wanted to check the drow stalactite to see if any had returned.  It was spookily empty, apparently undiscovered by others.  Garreth opined that it might make a nice place to live in the dungeon.

The group flew back down, and then continued south and west, toward the trapped room leading to the duergar area.  Zaber spotted a trap trigger on the door, exactly where one had been before.  He disabled it.  But Garreth pointed out that there had also been a proximity trap in the middle of the room, which would be difficult to disable from outside.  After some discussion, they decided to tunnel around the room, rather than go through it.  Garreth pulled a pickaxe out of the Bag of Holding, and he and Polly took turns digging.  After a couple of minutes, Seépravir remembered to cast Silence so the noise wouldn't summon too many monsters.

After many, many hours of digging, Polly broke through, to the north-south tunnel on the other side of the trapped room.  North was a big steel door, presumably back to the trapped room.  South was a pitch black passage leading to stairs down.  After some Dark Vision spells, Zaber scouted ahead.

Peeking down the stairs, he spotted a duergar standing guard, talking to someone he couldn't see in Undercommon.  (Garreth, a bit farther back, who understands Undercommon, also heard the conversation, which was about how real dwarves use minced shitake mushrooms in their gruel, and anyone who doesn't like them is part elf.)  Zaber flew a bit further down the stairs, and saw that the room contained a bunch more duergar guards (at least nine total), and a couple of double doors.  And he heard some growling behind one of the doors.

Zaber flew back to talk to the others.  Seépravir made a Concussion missile, just in case.  Polly flew down the stairs to see what was going on, and then one of the duergar appeared to spot her, despite Invisibility.  He dove away out of her line of sight, and then two of the other duergar started growing, using their Enlarge power.  She flew away up the stairs, and then north toward the others.

The group stopped by the end of their tunnel, and waited for pursuers.  None came.  Garreth decided to entice some, by loudly singing in Undercommon about how dwarves are dumb and have short legs.  He rolled well enough on his default Songwriting skill to make some reasonably coherent insults, and pretty soon 3 huge duergar approached.

When they got within range, Seépravir threw her Concussion.  She rolled a critical failure, but used Luck to reroll and got it close enough to the middle duergar to catch all three in the Concussion's stun radius.  Duergar are pretty tough, though, and only one was stunned.  Polly then started shooting bodkin arrows with Continual Light on them.  The duergar in front blocked the first and dodged the other two.  Zaber readied his crossbow.

As the duergar charged at the now-visible Polly and Seépravir, Polly launched another volley of arrows.  This time, she rolled a critical hit and got maximum damage to the lead duergar's vitals, which did enough for a death check, which he rolled a 16 on.  Her next arrow hit the stunned duergar in the vitals, knocking him unconscious.  The survivor yelled something about the elf archer while backing away.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Polly.

At that point, we had a one-on-one battle.  The duergar backed away while holding his shield up, All-Out Defending, and yelling warnings to his companions, while Polly advanced quickly and fired lots of arrows.  He blocked or dodged the first seven, but number eight drilled him in the vitals and stunned him.  Once he was stunned, his defenses got worst, and he eventually took a couple more arrows and fell down dead.  The other guards didn't come running out of the room.

Garreth dragged the dead dwarves back for looting, then decided to try his taunting song again.  The odds of it working were not good, since the three that had charged into battle before had died for it, and the remaining duergar were the smarter more level-headed ones that had resisted the taunting song before.  But, oops, an 18 on the resistance roll meant there was one more buffoon after all.  He made a heroic solo charge to stop the insults to his clan, and he died to a hail of arrows.

At that point we had an impasse: the remaining duergar guards were too smart to come running out, and the PCs didn't feel like charging in without Elias and without a Bless on Polly.  So, they looted the four dead duergar and went back to Cillamar.

GM's Comments:

We had more town time than usual, after the extended trip away.  The actual dungeon foray was pretty brief: taunt a few duergar guards away from their post and kill them with Concussion and arrows.

I was surprised to see manual digging rather than Shape Earth.  Maybe nobody thought of it; maybe they assumed the walls were enchanted against it.  Regardless, the digging worked; it was just slow and tiring.


DF Whiterock Session 70: Destroying the Gates




Warm, sunny

Player Characters:

Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 436 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 433 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 424 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 440 points

Significant NPCs:

Soras, Centaur Leader
Grisby, Faerie Dragon
Stagheart Tearny, Human Druid
Centaur Warriors
Crazy Half-Elven Druid
Shambling Mound
8 Goblin Warriors
2 Goblin Wizards
Huge Beetle
Vulgaris, Minyad Druid
Hugin, Human Mercenary

The PCs woke up early, the day after defeating Trag.  The plan was for them to clear the Crazy Druid off his bridge to clear the way for the centaur forces, then find and destroy the Gate to the Scourgelands, while the centaurs attacked the main part of the goblin army.  A goblin prisoner had told Soras that the gate was in a fissure in the rock, which was covered on top to hide it.

Elias stayed behind to heal the centaurs.  Grisby came out of the pavillion with his dog Arrel carrying Garreth's katana, which had had its Penetrating Weapon enchantment renewed.  Polly asked Stagheart to say a prayer.

Seépravir cast Flight and Invisibility on the whole group.  They flew east.  At one point they spotted a squat of goblins below, but decided to bypass them and continue to the bridge.  As they approached the bridge, they saw the crazy druid standing on it.  Garreth suggested letting Polly handle him.  Polly decided to fly within 5 yards and then start loosing arrows.  The first arrow hit him in the skull and knocked him unconscious.  Polly fired a few more arrows at his head to make sure he was dead.  While doing so, she noticed a large clump of plant life crawling toward her, not very quickly.  She grabbed the druid's corpse and flew back to the vicinity of her allies.  The pile of vegetation followed her across the bridge, apparently angry.

Zaber stripped the body, and threw the druid's underwear at the plant creature as it approached.  He missed.  Polly fired three arrows at the plant; it dodged one but the others hit, and slowed it down.  Seépravir Great Hasted Polly, who put another arrow in the pile of vegetation, which stopped moving.  Garreth carefully sliced up the plant creature, finishing it off, while looking for treasure inside.  Polly recovered some of her arrows, while Zaber looked for tracks.  Polly looked under the bridge, and didn't see anything, but she did notice that the bridge was a bit slimy and slippery.  So she wrote a note "Bridge is Slippy" on the ground in Elven, to warn the approaching centaurs.

As they rested after fighting, the group heard the sound of approaching hooves from the west.  A small group of centaurs had arrived.  They asked if the bridge was clear and safe, and Polly told them that there were no trolls, but it was slippery.  The centaur scouts said that the rest of the centaurs were a bit behind them, and continued across the bridge.

Seépravir made Polly and Garreth Invisible again, and the group flew east across the river.  They reached the burned-out palace formerly used by Trag, and continued east.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic and found a strong source of magic about 2 miles to the southeast.  As they continued toward the magic, they saw fewer trees, and a lot of burn damage.  Eventually they found a box canyon, but not the gate.  Seépravir cast See Secrets on Zaber, who then noticed a small hole in the ground.  He looked for a second hole, but didn't find another one.  He suggested starting a fire and killing whoever was under there with smoke inhalation, but that plan did not prevail.  It looked dark down there, so Seépravir cast Dark Vision on the others (she had the Staff of the Beetle that gave her Dark Vision when held).

Polly stuck her head in the hole, and thought she saw something huge moving around in the distance.  She got a little closer, and it appeared to be a huge beetle, standing guard in front of a gate.  There were also a bunch of goblins arrayed roughly in a semicircle around the beetle.  As they watched, they saw one of the guards go away to the south, come back with a waterskin, then bring some water to each of the other goblins.  After nothing more exciting happened, Polly and Zaber each flew into position to ambush some goblins.  Garreth activated the pearly spear's Great Haste ability.  

Zaber snuck up behind a goblin that he suspected was a wizard, but somehow the goblin detected him and spun around.  (The goblin rolled a 4 on his hearing roll, a critical success.)  Zaber tried backstabbing the goblin anyway, but it retreated and dodged and yelled a warning to the others.  Polly shot a goblin in the skull, stunning it.  Then shot it again, knocking it out.  Then shot another goblin in the vitals, who rolled a 17 on his Dodge, falling down, then missed his stun check by enough to be knocked out.  

Garreth fast-drew his katana and flew up to a goblin who didn't hear him coming, and did an All-Out Attack (Double).  The first attack knocked the goblin out, so he didn't need the second one.  For his second maneuver, he flew up to another goblin.  Seépravir yelled tactical advice to Polly: "shoot them in the back."  The giant beetle saw Polly, ran up to her, tried to bite her, missed, and tried to trample her.  She acrobatically dodged.  A goblin tried stabbing Garreth in the side with a scimitar, but he parried.  A stunned goblin recovered, as the rest of the goblins advanced toward the intruders.

Zaber flew up and put on his Ring of Invisibility.  Polly tried shooting past the huge beetle at a goblin (softer target), but rolled a critical miss, which she averted with Luck.  After the reroll, the goblin took an arrow to the back and was stunned.  She shot him twice more, but somehow didn't kill him or knock him out, despite a lot of damage.  Garreth flew down at a goblin and deceptively attacked it, but it rolled a 5 and managed to parry.  He went for two more attacks on it with a rapid strike.  It dodged the first, but failed to dodge the second, and was slowed.  Seépravir yelled tactical advice to Zaber.

The giant beetle attacked Polly again, rolling a critical hit on a trample, but poor damage, only 15 points of crushing.  It then tried to bite her, but she retreated and dodged.  A previously injured goblin passed out.  The three goblin warriors near Zaber, who just saw him disappear, attacked the air a lot with spears, but failed to find him, while Zaber flew away from them to above the beetle, and landed on its back.  (There wasn't much room between the beetle and the ceiling but he fit, in prone flying position.)

Polly shot a badly wounded goblin, doing enough damage to take it to -5 * HP and just kill it with no more dice rolls needed.  She then tried shooting the huge beetle, which somehow dodged.  The arrow  missed a goblin behind the beetle.  She shot the beetle again, which dodged again, but this time the arrow "accidentally" hit a goblin, and crippled his leg.  Garreth flew up to the beetle and chopped it deceptively twice, hitting once and being dodged once.  Seépravir gave more tactical advice to Zaber.

The beetle decided it didn't like Zaber on its back, and jumped up, trying to slam him against the ceiling.  It rolled a 3 for a critical hit, so Zaber used Luck to make it reroll, then managed to dodge and retreat out of the way, as the 3 goblins to the south continued running around looking for him.  Zaber flew away from the beetle a bit and All-Out Defended.  Polly decided to switch to her rapier, fast-drew it, and stabbed the beetle 3 times, causing some purple stuff to ooze out.  Garreth also slashed the beetle 3 times, causing enough damage to slow it, though it was still fighting.

The big bug went after Garreth, first trampling him (acrobatically dodged), then biting him (dodged), then stabbing him with its horn (dodged critically).  The critical defense caused the beetle to stub its horn into the ground, taking some damage.  Meanwhile, the goblins that had been hunting for Zaber decided to go after visible enemies.  One threw a javelin at Garreth, who failed to Parry Missile Weapons and took a direct hit to his armor, which bounced right off.  The goblin with a crippled leg also threw a javelin at Garreth, also hit, and also failed to penetrate his armor.

Polly went around the beetle's side and landed 3 more hits and a death check, which the beetle passed.  Garreth also landed 3 hits, causing some orange goo to come out, and more importantly causing a second death check, which the beetle also passed.  Seépravir moved closer.  The beetle did not pass out, and decided to trample/bite/stab Polly.  It rolled another critical hit on the trample, causing her to drop her weapon, and also inflicting 23 crushing damage.  After her armor absorbed a lot of it, this was not enough to trigger her Bless, but it was enough to slow her.  The bite also hit, but rolled terrible damage, only 10 points crushing.  Polly rolled a 17 on her stun check, resulting in a knockout, which caused her Bless to retroactively decide that this attack was worth averting, and the beetle missed.  The beetle's last attack, a horn impale, also rolled a critical hit, for double shock penalty due to extreme pain.  But damage was lousy again, only 12 points impaling, and Polly survived and wasn't even stunned.  

Zaber grappled a goblin from behind, using him as a goblin shield.  Polly stayed conscious, then tried shooting an arrow at a goblin but failed due to the shock penalty.  Garreth landed 3 more cuts on the beetle as Seépravir shouted tactical advice.  The beetle stayed up after the attacks, while leaking purple and orange ichor profusely, but then when its turn came, it failed its consciousness check and fell down, not landing on anyone.  The few surviving goblins were not thrilled with the beetle's defeat.  Two of them ran through the gate and escaped to wherever was on the other side.  Another one tried for the gate, but Polly shot it before it got there.  The one that Zaber was grappling tried to surrender, but Garreth refused to accept its surrender and killed it, then threw the wineskin of healing potions to the severely wounded Polly.  She drank a few doses.

Meanwhile, Garreth sized up the gate.  He used autohypnosis, then power blow, then kicked the keystone rock.  This caused the other rocks to fall; Garreth managed to get out of the way.  He kept the keystone, wanting to hide it somewhere so the gate could not be reassembled.  Zaber starting stripping goblins of their slightly valuable mail, while Garreth removed a huge mandible from the beetle.  Garreth flew out of the hole, looking for more goblins, and found that the centaurs had won the battle.

Soras asked that each of his squad leaders be given one stone from the gate, to bury in a separate secret place, so that it could not be reassembled.  He then asked the PCs to go back through the other gate, and then destroy it similarly from the other side, to prevent future invasions of the Far Garden.  He handed Zaber a bracelet, and said to use it if they needed to see him again.

After a bit of rest, the group flew back to the other gate and flew through it.  When they came out the other side, in Vulgaris's mushroom farm under Castle Whiterock, they saw a stone giant, carrying a barrel, who yelled "Intruders!" in Common, and called Vulgaris.  She said that she was surprised they were still alive, after being gone so long.  Apparently their trip into the Far Garden had taken about a year in Cillamar time.  She said that Hugin was back in town, but came back periodically to check.  

Garreth announced that he was done with faerie gates, and that they needed to destroy this one now.  Vulgaris agreed that she wanted it gone.  Vulgaris asked them to carry a barrel of mushroom beer back to Chauntessa for her.  Both Garreth and Zaber said they'd be happy to do so, though Garreth was highly suspicious that Zaber would do none of the carrying after they were out of the beautiful minyad's sight.  On the way out, they grabbed a few gate stones to destroy and scatter outside.

GM's Comments:

The battle against the crazy druid on the bridge was totally anticlimactic, basically a one-shot assassination.  That's what happens when you get total surprise on someone without a lot of DR or HP and with a vulnerable brain hit location.  His pet shambling mound lasted a little longer, but wasn't fast enough to chase anyone down and couldn't fly, so really had no chance to hurt anyone.

The giant beetle, on the other hand, stayed up a while and potentially did massive damage.  It rolled quite well to hit Polly, but not so great on the damage side, and was too dumb to go for her less-armored body parts.  Even so, it managed to knock her Bless off and get her to -10 HP.  Sadly for the bad guys, the beetle's goblin allies were pretty useless.  Trag should have had some tougher bugbears help guard the gate.

Next time, we'll find out what's happened in the past year while the PCs were off in forest-land.


DF Whiterock Session 69: Trag and His Mom




Warm, sunny

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 366 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 433 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 430 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 421 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 437 points

Significant NPCs:

Soras, Centaur Leader
Grisby, Faerie Dragon
Mortra, Fire Giantess
5 Bugbear Officers
Trag, Bugbear/Giant Martial Artist

We started again right after the PCs defeated a goblin burning crew.  They looted the bodies of the goblins and bugbears that weren't completely obliterated by the fire wagon's explosion.  One of the bugbears was unconscious but still breathing.  There was some discussion as to whether to fix that, but the consensus seemed to be that they wanted to interrogate a prisoner, and once they let him live to answer questions, they couldn't just kill him.  After the digression into the Laws of War, Seépravir decided to short-circuit the whole interrogation process by casting Possession on the bugbear, knocking him out and giving her access to all his memories.  She then said "just ask me questions."

The group learned that Trag lived in a mostly-burned-down house to the east, that he lived with his mom (who was a really old fire giantess), and that he also had a bunch of bugbears around.  Also that he knows kung fu.  They asked if he kept any wizards at his house, and possessed prisoner said that he didn't like wizards in his house and mostly sent them out to kill people and burn stuff.  Garreth asked what would happen if they killed Trag, but the prisoner could not answer that question as the premise was impossible.  Then the spell expired.

Garreth left a scimitar on the ground, hoping the bugbear would try to kill him with it, but the prisoner passed out instead.  After some more discussion of what to do with the bugbear and the annoying druid on the bridge, they decided to just collect the loot (putting much of it into the magic backpack that they'd received as a reward) and continue toward Trag, leaving the unconscious bugbear behind.

After some rest and some healing, the group continued following the trail south and east.  Eventually, Zaber spotted a large building in the distance, with the top floor missing, and a red glow coming from the back side.  Seépravir cast Invisibility on Polly and Zaber, and they scouted ahead.  They found the red glow was coming from the back side of the house, which was as hot as an oven.  It was hard to see anything inside through the small cracks in the walls.  Flying back around the side of the house, Zaber found a window, and on the other side of the window was a bugbear standing guard.  The other side of the house had a similar window, with another bugbear standing guard.

Zaber and Polly snuck back to the others, and they decided to also make Garreth Invisible, and cast Mage-Stealth as well, and have the three ambush the bugbears through the windows.  Garreth went to the north window, and Polly and Zaber to the south one.  Eventually Polly got tired of waiting, and shot an arrow through the window into the bugbear's skull.  (The shot was hard enough to break through the window, so I had Polly make a second attack roll to see how much the window deflected the arrow, and she rolled a 3.  So, not at all.)  Polly followed up with a second shot into the bugbear's brain, and it fell down unconscious.

Garreth responded to the noise of the screaming bugbear by smashing through his window (silently due to Mage-Stealth), then making an Escape roll to slide through the broken window quickly, then All-Out Attacking the nearby bugbear from behind, with two katana slices to the back of the neck.  This did massive damage, but somehow the bugbear survived, and yelled a warning.

Zaber flew in through the window that Polly had broken, and easily made his Escape roll to avoid getting caught on any broken glass.  Inside, he saw a huge red-haired black-skinned fire giantess, and a few more bugbears.  Seépravir and Elias had stayed well back from the house, but both heard the commotion and started flying toward the fight.

The bugbear that Garreth had backstabbed made his consciousness check, yelled a warning to his comrades, then spun around and hit Garreth in the face with his axe.  A second bugbear sentry with a flail ran up to Garreth and took a swing, but missed.  The giantess was also near Garreth, and took a swing at him with a huge warhammer.  About this time, Garreth regretted All-Out Attacking.  She hit, Garreth used Luck, she hit anyway after rerolling, and the damage would have been 23 points impaling.  At that point, Garreth's Bless decided to save him, and she missed, but the Bless was gone.

Polly flew in the window, avoided getting stuck, and looked for targets to shoot.  She loosed 3 arrows at a bugbear with a flail and bucker.  He blocked the first, dodged the second, and ate the third in the vitals, dying.  Garreth All-Out Defended and stepped back.  Zaber, still Invisible, watched the doorway to the east for the expected arrival of Trag.  Two bugbears charged at Garreth.  He dodged a flail, but took an axe to the face.  The giantess followed that up with her huge warhammer, which Garreth parried, at the cost of a broken katana.  (Signature Gear meant he could get it fixed later, but he'd be without it for the rest of the session.)

Polly kept flying around the room, shooting at enemies who were focused on Garreth.  First she plugged a bugbear in the skull, then tried shooting around the giantess at another bugbear, but missed, and accidentally hit the giantess instead.  Then she shot the other bugbear in the skull and knocked him out.  Garreth flew out the window to get away from the warhammer, and met up with the approaching Seépravir and Elias.  The giantess yelled some orders at the last surviving bugbear, who dutifully charged Polly, but missed.  Polly flew away while loosing bodkin arrows, first fatally plugging the bugbear in the skull, then failing to hit the giantess, who dodged.

Elias flew in through the window that Garreth had just retreated through, but failed his Escape roll and was slowed a bit.  The giantess started running east, right near Zaber, who chose to stay Invisible rather than going for the backstab.  Polly shot her in the eye, and she fell down, dead.  Fortunately for Zaber, she didn't land on him.

With no visible opponents remaining, the PCs regrouped.  Garreth took two swigs from the wineskin of healing potions.  Zaber looked for pieces of katana that Garreth had missed and brought them to Seépravir, who used a Repair spell to fix it.  (Though this didn't fix the Penetrating Weapon spell that it used to have.)  Polly scouted east, and found a very hot room full of rubble, with two windows on the east wall.  Garreth opened the house's front door and invited Seépravir in.  Elias, with Resist Fire active, went running through a doorway to the east, and found a courtyard with a pool of lava, and a huge bugbear / small fire giant sitting in it, wearing a black cloth belt that was somehow not on fire..  It was Trag, and he announced "You killed my mother prepare to die!" and then threw a bead at Elias.  He blocked it with his shield, but the Bead of Force's area attack took effect anyway.  Fortunately for Elias, the bead rolled horrible damage, not enough to penetrate his heavy armor.  But it trapped him within a sphere of force!  

Polly flew into Trag's lair through a different doorway, and took damage from the heat.  She shot three arrows at Trag.  The first was deflected by the waves of heat, and he dodged the others.  Garreth used the pearly spear to Great Haste himself.  Elias was unable to push forward through the force sphere, but was able to make a ST roll to squeeze out of it backwards.  Trag fast-drew another Bead of Force and threw it at Polly, who critically succeeded on her dodge and avoided being trapped.  Zaber, still Invisible, was also in the area of effect, but also dodged.  But the force sphere blocked that doorway.  Polly shot 3 more arrows at Trag, who dodged one and parried the other two with his bare hands.

With both doorways blocked, Garreth looked for another way in.  There were a couple of windows, but the wall itself looked kind of rickety, so Garreth decided to just bull his way through.  He made his ST check by 4, enough to shake the wall, but not quite knock it over.  Zaber flew around behind Trag, and took some fire damage.  Trag threw his last Bead of Force at Polly, who dodged it.  Polly responded by shooting Trag in the skull.  He failed to parry, but used Luck to reroll, then parried her second arrow with his other hand and dodged her third arrow.

Garreth made a second attempt to knock down the wall, and this time it came tumbling down, and made a bridge partway over the lava.  He then threw the pearly spear at Trag, but missed.  Zaber realized that he'd probably die of fire damage before he could land a backstab in Trag's eye, and flew away from the lava.  Elias, with Resist Fire protecting him, charged forward over the lava.  Trag went for a triple karate kick on Garreth, who managed to dodge all three.

Polly ate some more fire damage, then launched another salvo of arrows at Trag.  He failed to parry one, then failed to dodge another one, and took enough damage to be slowed by his wounds.  Garreth charged in and went for multiple blows on Trag, who parried them all, but left himself open to Elias.  Elias charged in from behind, and went for an All-Out Attack (Strong) to Trag's skull.  He missed, used his Luck to reroll, hit, and inflicted two death checks and a nasty stun roll.  Trag made the death checks, but failed the stun roll by enough to be knocked unconscious.

Elias dragged Trag out of the lava, and then gathered other visible loot, as the others retreated from the fire damage.  Garreth decapitated Trag.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic, and found a couple of potions on the fire giantess, in addition to Trag's magic belt and magic bag that Elias had already grabbed.  Elias cast some Stop Bleeding and Major Healing on the burn victims, while Seépravir cast Seek Earth looking for gold and platinum, and found none.

The group headed back to Dawn-on-Stream, and presented Trag's head to Loras.  Soras announced that with Trag gone, it was time to defeat the leaderless goblins and bugbears, and their gate guardian, and then destroy their gate so no more could come through into the Far Garden.  Garreth asked about the gate guardian, and Soras said that he'd heard it was a giant bug.  Garreth asked if anyone could fix the broken enchantment on his katana, and Grisby said he could do it, though it would take all night.

Polly asked about the druid on the bridge, but Soras and Grisby had never heard of it.  They indicated that if he was blocking the bridge, he'd need to be removed before the centaurs could cross, unless Seépravir could cast Flight on all of them.  Soras asked that the PCs be ready to attack at dawn.

GM's Comments:

The double ambush through windows on opposite sides of the house worked well, except only 3/5 of the PCs participated (because of the limits of how many spells Seépravir could keep up), and Garreth made a mistake by All-Out Attacking into not-fully-explored territory and almost died.  However, once he survived, attacking from both sides meant that Polly had back shots on the enemies who were focused on Garreth, which ruined their day.

Beads of Force are quite powerful in D&D 3.5.  I depowered them a bit when converting them to GURPS, to prevent a PC hit by one from being completely out of the fight.  (I allowed a penalized ST roll to force one's way through the weakest side of the sphere instead.)  This let Elias back into the fight against Trag, which he eventually finished, by back-attacking Trag while he was busy with Polly and Garreth.

Outnumbering and surrounding most boss monsters is still quite effective.  Trag was smart enough to control the environment by hanging out in a lava pool, but too dumb to have allies actually in the same room with him, so he died.

Next time, we'll probably see the conclusion of the Far Garden arc.

DF Whiterock Session 75: The Gricks

Date: 2019-11-29 Weather: Cold (session entirely underground) Player Characters: Elias  (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 382 po...