DF Whiterock Session 81: The Other Bleak Theater Guard Room




Unseasonably warm, session entirely underground

Player Characters:

Elias, Wood Elf Cleric, 396 points
Garreth, Half-Orc Fighter, 460 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 460 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 454 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 465 points

Significant NPCs:

8 Duergar warriors
2 Drow clerics
Rust monster
Logan, Wolverine
Polar bear

We resumed with the PCs just having opened a door into a guard post, featuring a bunch of duergar, a drow, and some kind of large buglike monster that had just been let out of a wooden cage and was now charging at them.  Polly immediately shot the bug in the skull, doing enough damage to slow it.  She followed up with a second shot, which knocked it out, before it even got to demonstrate its attacks.  Her third arrow was aimed at the drow, but was blocked.  Zaber drew his knife and All-Out Defended.  Some duergar waited for the PCs while others moved into position.  Garreth stepped forward and used Kiai on one, stunning him.  The drow cast a spell on the monster, which started moving again.

Elias charged forward, and Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  Polly put some more arrows into the monster's brain, which killed it.  She then tried shooting the stunned duergar in the eye, but he managed to block the arrow despite the stun penalty.  Zaber invisibly reached the drow, who never heard him coming, and front-stabbed her in the eye, knocking her out.  One of the duergar tried to slam Polly, but she dodged.  Another one used a melee net to trap Elias, who failed to dodge it.

Garreth tried rapid striking the duergar who just netted Elias with his katana, but his cuts were blocked and dodged.  Elias, with no sharp net-cutting weapon in hand, decided to just burst through the net with brute strength.  This is difficult for most (quick contest of your ST vs. the net's 14), but Elias is very strong, and the net was Hulked into a useless pile of string.  Seépravir tried Death Vision on a duergar, which failed, then she followed up with Rapier Wit and stunned him.  Polly shot the duergar who just failed to slam her in the back, stunning him.  She then flew around another duergar and shot him in the back too, resulting in another stun.  Zaber, with See Invisible, saw some more enlarged invisible duergar coming down the stairs to join the fight.  He shouted a warning as he flew back to cover.  Hearing that, Polly yelled in Elven that a Grease spell on the stairs would be funny.  Garreth used Rapier Wit to insult another duergar's beard, causing stun due to low self-esteem.  He then took a couple of strikes at his shield arm.  The first one was blocked, but the second connected and crippled the arm, ensuring that that duergar's blocking career was over.

Elias, now free of what was left of the net, tried smashing a duergar twice with his flail, but one attack was blocked and the other was parried.  (Even with the penalty for a flail; these duergar were pretty skilled.)  Seépravir followed Polly's advice and cast Grease on the stairs.  This resulted in loud noises, as some huge invisible duergar fell down the stairs and hit the wall, each other, etc.  One of them said "stupid elf greased the stairs" in Dwarven, and another optimistically responded "I'll kill her Cap'n."

Polly shot another duergar in the back of the head, knocking him out.  She loosed more arrows at the pile of prone duergar at the bottom of the steps, but they were blocked and dodged.  Zaber put his Invisibility ring on.  One of the prone duergar tried chopping Polly with his axe, but she dodged.  Garreth tried slashing a duergar, but he parried.  Elias moved up.  Seépravir stopped maintaining some less essential spells and cast Mass Daze at the pigpile, dazing 3 out of 4 duergar.  Polly put more arrows into duergar heads, stunning one and then knocking him out with a critical hit.  (She used an arrow with Continual Light to try to spotlight an invisible target for Elias, who lacked See Invisible.  But the light turned invisible when it hit him.)

The non-dazed duergar tried rapid striking Polly, but she dodged both axe blows.  A drow upstairs cast Dispel Magic on the area featuring the dazed duergar, trying to remove the Grease (which was actually already gone but she didn't know that) and un-daze them.  More duergar came down the stairs.  Garreth Rapier Witted and then chopped the duergar near Polly, crippling his shield arm.  Elias attacked one of the just-undazed duergar with his flail, doing serious damage.  He also bumped into another duergar who was still invisible.  Seépravir Great Hasted Elias and Zaber (with the one on Zaber a critical success that gave him triple speed instead of the usual double), and Rapier Witted another duergar into stun.  Polly shot another couple of duergar in the skull, knocking one out and killing the other.  Zaber flew up the stairs to catch up to the retreating drow caster (which was easy with Flight and Great Haste), and then fatally eye-stabbed her.

One of the duergar near Elias was still invisible, and smashed him in the face with an axe.  He failed his Hearing-2 roll to hear the incoming axe, and took 24 cutting to the face.  Fortunately for him, he had a very stout helmet, which soaked much of the damage.  He needed to use his Luck to reroll a bad stun roll, then was mostly fine.  Garreth retaliated by chopping that now-visible duergar's head mostly off.  Elias tried attacking the last duergar standing, who defended.  Polly followed up with 3 arrows, all of which were dodged.  Zaber flew back down the stairs and stabbed him the face for a critical hit and a knockout, and that was all the guards in the guard post.

With time to study the bodies, the PCs noticed that all the guards' armor and weapons were very hard wood rather than metal.  Clearly their strategy revolved around their pet rust monster that Polly had knocked out before it managed to rust anyone's gear.  Polly found a broken lever (part of Garreth's war on levers) and touched it to the monster's antenna, and it rusted.  Polly and Seépravir then used some of the wooden axes to attempt to dissect the rust monster and recover any valuable bits.  When they were done, Seépravir cast Seek Magic and found that there was some magic nearby to the east.  meanwhile Garreth tried Chi Medicine on Elias, but it didn't help.  The wineskin of healing potions worked better.  Zaber was really sleepy after the double-strength Great Haste wore off, so Seépravir gave him a Lend Energy spell.  

When everyone was done resting, the group went east, in the direction that Seépravir suspected had magic.  The door there had a knocker.  Zaber tried listening at the door, and a trap that he had missed (because I rolled a 17) went off.  This caused a loud alarm in the guard room to the west, and also zapped Zaber with a curse.  He made his resistance roll, so it only gave him -2 to IQ and made him slightly insane.  He started yelling at the door, then telling it to open.  Polly helpfully hit the door with a pickaxe, but this didn't make it open.  Zaber eventually gave up on conversation and picked the lock, right before Polly got serious about chopping it down.

Behind the trapped door was a nice apartment, containing a nice statue of a female elf, and a dining table with some fancy snifters, which still smelled like brandy.  Garreth ripped the door off its hinges, as part of his continued campaign of dungeon vandalism.  Everyone was quite suspicious of the statue.  Garreth wanted to take it, but it weighed about a ton, too much for the Bag of Holding, so they left it for now.  Seépravir's ring started saying rude things about people too gross to clean out their glasses, and offered to Create Water to clean them out.

There was another door.  Zaber lectured it, then picked the lock.  On the other side was a bedroom.  It contained an unmade bed and some dirty women's clothing.  Garreth searched the chairs in the outer room, and found a scroll under a cushion.  He took it to Seépravir, who read it and found that it was a treasure map to "The Great Palace of Zahadran, Lost To Time And The Sands", signed by an Urgus Spellsmith.  Meanwhile Zaber started looking for a teddy bear.  Failing to find one, he freed Logan the Wolverine from his magic bag to help.

Zaber's behavior was erratic enough that the others finally focused on fixing it.  Seépravir tried Dispel Magic, which didn't help.  Garreth tried chi medicine, which also failed.  Elias tried Remove Curse, and that seemed to bring him back to his usual level of intelligence and sanity.  Seépravir tried Analyze Magic on the statue, which told her that it probably had very strong undetectable magic, probably masked.  This caused more discussion of taking the statue home, but it was just too heavy, so the group thought maybe they'd get some stone giants to help, after they cleared out the duergar.

Garreth remembered he had something important to do.  He threw several of the bodies from the guard room into the Bleak Theater arena floor and then yelled "Are you not entertained?"  There was no response.  Afterward, the group resumed exploring the level.  They found a room, empty except for a few unpopped popcorn kernels.  They found another empty room, this one with some scorch marks on a wall.  They found another empty room, this one appearing to be a vacant unfurnished apartment.  They found a portcullis with a lever in front of it.  Pulling the lever caused the portcullis to go up.  But they decided not to go that way (because Zaber said it was further away from the arena and wanted to explore the closer things first), and continued west around the arena concourse instead.

Continuing to the southwest of the arena, Zaber unlocked and opened another door, and found another apartment, with a huge white bear inside.  The bear looked hungry and charged.  But we were out of time and stopped there.

GM's Comments:

The two-level guard room featuring a rust monster, a bunch of duergar, and a couple of drow was a long fight, but the enemies were no match for the PCs.  Great Haste is good.  So is Mass Daze.  So is Rapier Wit.

The insanity trap was a lot of fun, but fortunately Elias had Remove Curse.  Without it, they would have had to either deal with Crazy Zaber for longer, or go back to town.


DF Whiterock Session 80: The Bleak Arena Nosebleed Seats




Unseasonably warm, session entirely underground

Player Characters:

Elias, Wood Elf Cleric, 392 points
Garreth, Half-Orc Fighter, 458 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 458 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 452 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 463 points

Significant NPCs:

2 Ettins
7 Duergar warriors

After once again defeating the duergar in their guard room, and not finding the hobgoblin vampire anywhere, the PCs again started searching the top level of the Bleak Theater.  They didn't find anything new, or any other occupants.  Zaber and Polly played with levers for a while, raising and lowering portcullises, while Garreth smashed things in an attempt to make the arena unprofitable for the duergar.

Eventually they decided to go downstairs.  They found a workshop, full of tools and building supplies.  After stealing some tools, they continued, until Zaber heard some noise behind a door.  After some discussion, he unlocked and opened the door, and there were two ettins and a bunch of invisible duergar on the other side.  Only Zaber had See Invisible, so he yelled a warning to the others.

Polly shot an ettin in the eye and knocked it unconscious, and then for variety shot the other ettin in the eye and knocked it out too.  She then fired a third arrow hopefully, but it didn't hit anything invisible.  An enlarged duergar appeared and swung his axe at Polly, but she used her Luck to avert a critical hit, then made her Hearing-2 roll to be allowed to defend at -4, then successfully sprung away with an acrobatic, retreating dodge.  He followed up with a second swing, but by then he was visible and easier to dodge.  Garreth drew his katana and then deceptively rapid struck the duergar, causing enough damage to slow him.  Elias charged to get behind the duergar and spun around to face his exposed rear.  Seépravir gave Polly a See Invisible.  Polly saw several more invisible duergar, but didn't have clear shots at any of them, so she shot the visible one in the eye.  This somehow failed to kill him (just missed -5 * HP for instant death), but knocked him out.

Unfortunately for Elias, when he turned his back to surround the visible duergar, he exposed his back to two more invisible duergar.  He was defenseless, but Garreth was facing them, and got a chance to Sacrificial Parry for him.  He did that, four times, as the two duergar each took a Rapid Strike at Elias.  A third invisible duergar went for Seépravir, and Garreth parried the first strike at her too, but then failed to stop the second.  (He actually rolled an 18, but used Luck to turn it into a non-critical failure.)  Seépravir used Phase to momentarily be Somewhere Else when the axe flew through her position.  Yet another duergar went for Seépravir, missing with his first strike, but placing the second one accurately enough that she had to dodge it.  The final duergar in the main clump went after Garreth's face, and Garreth rolled a 17, so he fell down trying to dodge.  This left a large mark, but didn't stun Garreth.  He smacked Garreth in the face a second time for good measure, this time stunning him, but the total damage was not enough to inflict a death check.

Elias tried to flail two of the duergar.  Both parried.  Then Seépravir dropped a Mass Daze on the 4 remaining duergar in the immediate area.  3 failed to resist.  She used Rapier Wit to stun the one that was still moving.  There was another one farther back, trying to run around behind the PCs to flank them, but Polly shot him in the leg and knocked him over and stunned him and made him drop his axe.  That ended the competitive portion of the combat.  While Garreth chugged healing potions, Elias and Polly started finishing off dazed and stunned and unconscious enemies.  Seépravir Entombed one, for some nefarious purpose.  
When searching the bodies, Zaber found a key and a magic crystal.  At that point the group started running around, flipping levers, hearing portcullises go up and down, and smashing levers.  Eventually they found a door onto the main arena floor, with a slot for the crystal.  Zaber inserted the crystal, and then the arena's force defenses went down.  This allowed flying up to the two concourse levels above the arena floor.

Before flying up, the group circled around the arena to the south and east, opening more doors.  They found a few more storerooms full of unexciting stuff, and one armory full of weapons.  They took some weapons and put them in their Bag of Holding.

Doubling back to the arena, they searched for secrets, didn't find any, and flew up to the lower concourse level.  They opened a door, leading to an empty room.  They opened another door, leading to an empty apartment.  They approached another door, and heard a chittering sound behind it.  Everyone formed up, ready to fight.  Zaber unlocked and opened it, and inside were some duergar, some drow, and some bug-like creature, charging at them.

We stopped there for the night.  We'll resume with that combat, next time.

GM's Comments:

Maybe, due to having two heads, ettins should be harder to knock out with a head blow than most creatures.  Maybe you should have to knock out both heads.  I didn't think of this when giving them GURPS stats, though, so it's not how they work, at least not yet...

Lots of exploration time this session.  Much of it re-exploring already trodden ground, so not that exciting.  But the PCs finally figured out how to get past the force fields in the arena to the concourse levels.


DF Whiterock 2019 Year In Review

Assuming the numbers in the session recaps are correct, we played 79-32+1 = 48 sessions of DF Whiterock in 2019.  So almost every week.

Most RPG campaigns don't make it this many sessions, so I'm really happy we're still going.  My advice for people who don't want their campaigns to die is: keep playing on as regular a schedule as possible.  If some people can't make it, play without them.  (This requires either running each other's characters, finding a safe way to pick up and drop off PCs between sessions, or just not caring too much about continuity.)  Because once you start cancelling every time real life affects someone, you keep cancelling, and pretty soon you don't have a campaign.

I'm also happy to have written a recap for every session, even though it's a lot of work.  It gives the players a way to catch up on what they've done without reading the full Roll20 logs, and hopefully it exposes a few other RPG players to the possibilities of GURPS and Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

After a bit of player turnover and one PC death in 2018, we had the same group of 5 PCs for all of 2019: Elias, Garreth, Ibizaber (who we mostly call Zaber), Polly, and Seépravir.  They started 2019 at 247 - 310 points, and ended 2019 at 392 - 463 points.  I mostly award points for attendance, so the variation mostly just reflects how long each PC has been in the game and how many sessions their player has made.  But, as point totals climbed, I started slowing down awards at various point thresholds, which makes it a bit easier for the lower-powered characters to catch the higher-powered ones.  (And, I hope, keeps the higher-powered ones from getting so powerful that I can't challenge them at all.)

At the start of the year, the PCs were on the Underground River Level, featuring Derro and an Aboleth and various river creatures.  At the end of the year, they were in the Bleak Theater (which is still in progress), a gladiatorial arena run by duergar.  In between was the massive Immense Cavern, taking up 12 Roll20 maps, and featuring a diverse array of creatures like stirges, trolls, a huge turtle, a gelatinous cube, purple worms and the drunk adolescent stone giants who ride them, and a nasty groaning spirit.  Also, they went through a gate to the Far Garden, a forest demiplane, where the good guys were centaurs and fey, and the bad guys were goblins led by a half-fire-giant half-bugbear kung fu master.

In addition to the main levels, they explored several sublevels this year.  Off the Underground River, they found a Hidden Fane of Justicia, with only one monster (a mohrg) but a lot of backstory and a holy artifact.  At the end of the Far Garden they found a gate to the Unicorn Glade of Farewell.  The Immense Cavern contained three distinct sublevels: the Black Pyramid containing a huge clay golem and mummies and low mana zones, the hidden Inverted Tower full of drow and their spider pets, and the hidden pond of a gnome named Penduncle who somehow owned a magic submarine.  Finally, while they're not done with the Bleak Theater yet, they found two sublevels off of it: the tomb of a heroic human warrior named Koborth, and then, behind it, the tomb of a less-heroic halfling thief named Nimboltin Softstep.

So, you can say they only explored three levels this year, and part of a fourth, which seems pretty slow.  On the other hand, this group believes in fully clearing levels.  Garreth and Polly both have Bloodlust and Polly is especially offended at the idea that any hostile monster is left alive, Elias really hates undead and wants to eradicate them all with similar fury, Zaber has high levels of Perception and rarely misses much, and Seépravir has the spells (See Secrets, Seek Earth, Seek Magic) to find all the treasure.  So when they clear a level, they tend to really clear it.

Because Castle Whiterock is so huge, I tend to leave cleared levels cleared rather than restocking them, just to give opportunities for more exploration and less repetition.  But the front guard room of the Bleak Theater, and the trapped room before it, have been an exception.  Every time the PCs have cleared them and gone home, the duergar have posted new guards and reset the trap.  This has annoyed the PCs into staying in the dungeon between sessions more often, rather than going back to town every time.  And also caused some discussion of creating a base inside the dungeon.

Despite their mostly bloodthirsty nature, the PCs have befriended some NPCs inside the dungeon.  They freed an invisible air elemental named Aeraelith from an organ where it had been imprisoned by a drow.  They spared Vulgaris the Minyad on the river level, and she has become fairly friendly, sometimes using the PCs to carry her mushroom beer to Cillamar for trade.  The hard-partying purple-worm-riding young stone giants of the Immense Cavern have been bribed with lots of beer, by both the PCs and Vulgaris.  The PCs also have friendly relations with the ettin Gar and Nar, but quite friendly enough to keep Zaber from stealing their magic ring.  They managed to visit Penduncle the gnome without hostilities, and even gave back some of his treasure that they had accidentally looted.  They returned a greatsword with permanent Affect Spirits named Damarel to an angel that had been turned into a kobold.  And they are currently mostly friendly with the ghost of Korboth's squire Elweiss, though Garreth really doesn't want to return Elweiss's magic spear.

On the backstory front, Seépravir learned some mysterious history about Lady Chauntessa and the Order of the Sundered Scale, a group of paladins who were tasked to kill the great red dragon Benthosruthsa.  Lord Flitwick, the group's enemy since they feel he reneged on a deal to paint pictures of the dungeon for them, has fled the country for warmer lands, and Seépravir bought his vacant townhouse.  Finally, the ghost of Elweiss has started spewing backstory about Koborth, but his memory is somewhat fuzzy and he needs his spear back...

The group has also found a couple of very interesting items.  The Ring of Water Breathing that was gifted long ago to the group by the nixie Nemoura Shimmerscale for saving her from a giant crab turned out (after they accidentally activated more powers) to be an intelligent ring named Aquil'iya.  And a silver rapier that they found in the Black Pyramid turned out to be an intelligent sword named Charithmysis, The Bard Blade, which is sadly so full of itself that it doesn't think any of the PCs are worthy of wielding it.  Fortunately for the haughty rapier, the PCs love magic items too much to destroy it for being a horrible snob.

Finally, besides Lord Flitwick, there is one other recurring villain who has been met multiple times: Gora-Khan the hobgoblin vampire, who has an annoying habit of assuming gaseous form and escaping.  There a couple of duergar leaders who have been mentioned but not yet encountered: The Impressario, who directs the Bleak Theater, and his ruler the Thane Hrolad Vejik of Narborg.  Finally, the group suspects that the ancient red dragon Benthosruthsa, who destroyed the town of Cillamar 320 years ago, might still be down there...

I think we finish this campaign sometime in 2020.  So, here's to one more good year.


DF Whiterock Session 79: Attacking the Bleak Theater Guard Room, Again




Unseasonably warm, overcast

Player Characters:

Garreth, Half-Orc Fighter, 456 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 456 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 450 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 461 points

Significant NPCs:

Chauntessa, Innkeeper and Historian
Alrux, Dwarf Armorer
Vulgaris, Minyad Druid and Mushroom Farmer
2 Stone Giant Brewery Helpers
Ettin Zombie
6 Duergar Warriors
Gora-Khan, Hobgoblin Vampire
5 Bat Swarms

After finding a large haul of silver coins from Nimboltin Softstep's tomb, the PCs returned to Cillamar.  There, the family of Toos, a woman they rescued from the duergar, rewarded them with baked goods.  Brandis, the bard they rescued, was hanging out at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake and sometimes busking outside.  All five of them got invitations to Lady Chauntessa's New Year's party.

Seépravir decided to buy Lord Flitwick's vacant town house, which had been seized by the town.  The house's contents were included, so she also became the owner of several of Flitwick's paintings (including the one of the cloud giant tower inside Castle Whiterock that started their feud) and some of his clothing.  She tried making a copy of that one using the Copy spell (which failed because that spell only copies text), then gave the original to Chauntessa.  Now that she owned a house in the Noble Quarter, she researched whether titles of nobility could be purchased.  The Kingdom of Morrain was not quite so corrupt as to allow that, however.

Garreth went to Alrux to see if his sword was done yet (it was not), and to place another order for a face mask.  Since he was flush with cash, he paid off the remainder of the sword without waiting for delivery.  Polly ordered a silver coating for her rapier, but since Alrux was already working on Garreth's sword, it had to wait.  Zaber found a fine rapier for sale at Bao's Blades and purchased it for Vulgaris.  Zaber also bought ten barrels of good beer for the stone giants.

Elias got stuck in church.  The rest of the group flew to Castle Whiterock, then headed to Vulgaris's mushroom farm, where Zaber gave her the rapier and gave the giants the beer.  There was a new giant they hadn't met before working for Vulgaris, named Thkirk.

Thkirk had been working for the duergar until he left, based on their general cruelty and poor working conditions.  Garreth asked him questions about the duergar.  He then asked Vulgaris if she knew of any enchanters who needed work.  She didn't, but Thkirk volunteered that the duergar Thane had an enchanter prisoner.

The group continued to the Immense Cavern.  They flew up to the drow stalactite, which was still unoccupied.  They considered stashing some loot there, as it was a pretty good hiding place, but then decided not to.  They then continued to the southwest corner of the cavern, and Zaber and Polly took the passage toward the Bleak Theater.  Listening to a door, they heard heavy footsteps and conversation from the trapped room.  After some discussion, they kicked the door open, and inside was an ettin zombie, with the trap arcing lightning to the zombie, but the zombie apparently unaffected by it.

The ettin zombie charged, as Polly filled it with arrows.  First she crippled one hand, and it dropped one club.  Then she crippled the other hand, and it dropped its other club.  Then she crippled a foot, and it kept coming, slower, with a limp.  Then it got within range of Garreth's katana, and he chopped a leg off.  As the ettin came out the door, the lightning trap stopped zapping it.  Garreth slashed its neck, and the zombie went down for good.

With no Resist Lightning and the trap too far away to disable, the group decided to tunnel around the trapped room again.  Seépravir needed about 40 Shape Earth spells to dig an east-west passage south of the trapped room to intersect the existing north-south passage from the other side of the trapped room to the duergar guard room.  When they broke through the other side, there were no enemies waiting.  Seépravir cast See Invisible on Zaber to check for invisible duergar, and Polly fired a bunch of arrows down the passage, just in case.

Zaber scouted ahead, and found a tripwire.  He disabled it.  As he approached the stairs, he saw a mirror on the ceiling, and an invisible duergar at the bottom of the stairs watching the hallway using two mirrors as a periscope.  Zaber reported back, and Seépravir cast See Invisible on Polly as well.  Zaber tried taunting the duergar into charging up the stairs to his death, but he resisted.

As the group reached the top of the stairs, they heard conversation below, in Undercommon.  The duergar were talking about Zaber and Polly, and waiting for someone named Gora.  Then Zaber heard a door open and close and lock.  Apparently Gora had arrived.  Seépravir cast Magic Resistance on Polly, just in case the vampire tried any more charms.  Then, swarms of bats started coming up the stairs.

Garreth used Elweiss's spear to Great Haste himself.  Seépravir used Create Fire to make a ring around herself, to try to scare bats away.  Everyone waited for the bats to get in range.  When they did, there was much rapid striking and many bats died.  Polly was too armored for the swarms to hurt her.  Zaber took a tiny bit of damage.  And then invisible, enlarged duergar came around the corner and started charging up the stairs.  Polly tried three rapier strikes at the one in front, but he managed to parry, block, and parry them.  Garreth critically failed his Blind Fighting and was sure an invisible duergar was southwest of him, though there wasn't really.  Garreth tried Rapier Wit on the hex, to no avail.  Garreth then tried targeting another duergar, that was actually there, and chopped his shield arm off.  Zaber kept thinning bat swarms.  

Meanwhile Seépravir remarked on how the mass of duergar was a nice target for Mass Daze.  She stopped maintaining a few non-essential spells, then cast See Invisible, then cast Mass Daze on all the duergar she could see.  She rolled pretty well, and only one of the six duergar resisted.

At that point, the fight became not very interesting.  The one duergar that wasn't dazed got stunned with Rapier Wit, then stabbed a lot and killed.  Then all the bat swarms were finished off.  Then two of the five Dazed duergar were Entombed for whatever nefarious future use Seépravir had, while the other three were executed.  Gora-Khan the vampire was nowhere to be seen; he apparently decided to leave after the duergar failed.  There was some quick searching for him, to no avail.  

We stopped at that point due to time.  The group chose to pause in the guard room rather than returning to town and letting the duergar reinforce the guard room again.

GM's Comments:

We spent more time in town than usual, because it had been so long since the last visit.  The battle against the duergar in the guard room wasn't so interesting this time, because Seépravir rolled well on Mass Daze and the duergar failed to resist.  Gora-Khan lived to fight another day, though.

Next time we'll find out what other preparations the duergar made in the week between assaults on the Bleak Theater.


DF Whiterock Session 78: All the Money




Cold (session entirely underground)

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 388 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 454 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 447 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 459 points

Significant NPCs:

Garreth, Half-Orc Fighter
2 Huge Invisible Animated Scales

We started in mid-combat, after 2 huge invisible scales, one with fire in one of its pans, charged at Zaber.  (Polly had entered the west door of the scales' room, with the others just behind her, while Zaber had circled around and entered the east door, which apparently the scales didn't like.  The scales were invisible, but both Polly and Zaber had See Invisible.)

Zaber backed away from the approaching scales, not wanting to be weighed.  Polly fired three arrows at one of them.  Two were dodged, but one left a small mark.  Garreth drew his katana and All-Out Defended, guarding Seépravir, while trying to sense the invisible enemies.  Elias charged toward the general direction of the fight.  Both scales continued approaching Zaber.

Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  Zaber flew back out the east door and slammed the door behind himself.  Polly fired three more arrows at the same scale, this time achieving three solid hits, one of them a critical hit right in the chain.  Garreth continued all-out defending, while asking Polly what she was shooting at.  She responded "Dire scales!  South one has flames!"  Elias asked if the plan was just to charge in, because he was all for that.  Polly said that sounded good, so he continued charging toward the pile of arrows.  (The scales were still invisible.)

With Elias out of the room and the door closed, the scales reversed direction and charged back west, toward Polly and the charging Elias.  Seépravir asked who wanted buffs, then gave Polly and Garreth each a Great Haste.  Zaber, hearing the scales moving away loudly, cracked the door back open to peek.

Polly tried to draw the scales to herself, while firing three more arrows at a scale, and hitting three more times.  Garreth continued defending, while trying to use his blind fighting ability to find the scales.  One of the scales charged Polly with the intent of trampling her.  Elias considered blocking for her, but realized the huge scale would probably break his shield.  Polly retreated and dodged, as the scale became visible.  The second scale also approached, but wasn't quite close enough to attack.

Seépravir cast See Invisible on Garreth, just as the still-invisible scale, which had eaten several arrows, fell over.  Zaber came back into the room, now that the scales weren't near his door.  Polly fast-drew her rapier and started chopping at the pan-chains of the scale that was still standing.  Garreth continued all-out defending, to Seépravir's aggrevation since she had used a Great Haste on him.  Elias smashed the visible and still-standing scale twice with his flail, hitting both times, with one of the hits a double-damage critical that knocked it back and appeared to end its animation.

With both scales apparently defeated, Polly started cutting their chains off with her rapier to make sure they were really dead.  A few seconds later, the invisible one appeared, and the fire on the flaming one went out.  Zaber and Polly started asking questions, like why they only cared about the east door, and why there were scales without a puzzle, while Seépravir rested.  Zaber started trying to use the scales to weigh something, in case that was a puzzle.  There was a bunch of rubble in the room to the south, so he dragged some of that in, until he realized he was doing work.  Then he asked Garreth, who was much stronger and less lazy, to carry rubble for him, and also tip one of the knocked-over scales back upright.  (The other, which Elias had critically smashed with his flail, was too broken to stand up, without major repairs.)  Zaber played with the scales for a few more minutes, then searched the alcoves they came out of, then gave up on the room and put his Invisibility ring back on.

Zaber went back out the east door, then touched the door on the other side of the hallway.  No illusions of halflings appeared, so he tried opening it, but it was locked.  He picked the lock, then opened it.  On the other side of the door was a large room that looked like a natural cavern, with stalagmites and pillars, some of which had marks carved on them.  Zaber investigated the marks, and found that they were about 3' off the floor, which he and Polly thought meant they were probably made by a halfling.

Polly looked closely at another stalagmite -- and then it turned into another Polly, and attacked her!  This totally unexpected event surprised both Zaber and Polly.  (Their friends were still outside the room.)  Fake-Polly attacked Polly with her rapier, and Polly couldn't retreat because of stun, but she successfully Acrobatically Dodged anyway.  Fake-Polly attacked again, and Polly failed to dodge this time, and took a serious enough cut that Polly's Bless spell decided to avert it, and went away.  Fake-Polly attacked a third time (just like real Polly), hit again, and put 19 points of cutting damage into Polly, which failed to stun her.

Zaber and Polly both recovered from mental stun, as their friends outside the room heard the sounds of fighting and started approaching to help, but then Fake-Polly got another turn.  She landed three very deceptive rapier strikes on Polly, but Polly fast-drew her own rapier, then retreated and parried all of them.  Zaber all-out defended, as he wasn't sure which Polly was which and didn't want to attack his friend.  Polly had no such confusion, and so attacked her doppleganger three times (with defensive attacks as she was wounded), but all were dodged or parried.  Garreth, outside the room, started flying toward the battle.  Elias waited until after Seépravir cast Great Haste on him before following.

As the real Polly had stepped back away from her, the fake Polly said "Let me try this bow" then quick-readied her bow and fired two arrows at Polly.  One was a critical hit, so Polly used her Luck to force a reroll into a regular hit.  Badly wounded Polly was at half Dodge, so these hit, and inflicted major wounds and a death check, but Polly stayed up.  She then fired a third arrow at Zaber, which he dodged.  Now Zaber knew which Polly was the enemy, so he tried Slamming her, but she dodged.

Garreth finally flew into the room, saw two of Polly, didn't know which was which, and asked Seépravir to tell him.  Seépravir and Elias also flew into the room.  Not-Polly fired some arrows at Elias, which told them all which one was which.  He blocked one and dodged the others.  Zaber tried another slam, but fake-Polly dodged again.  Elias tried to shield rush the one that had fired arrows at him, missed, then tried flailing her, but she used her Luck to reroll her dodge and avoid the hit.

With all of Polly's friends joining the fight, Fake-Polly felt surrounded, and decided to turn into a small (SM-3) black bird and fly away.  Zaber tried slamming it, but the raven dodged, and told Zaber to eat its shorts.  Polly shot three arrows at the raven, and one was a solid hit, but the raven was tough enough to keep flying.  Seépravir tried Rapier Wit on the raven 9-yard range, not expecting much, but rolled a 3 for a maximum critical success.  The raven thought her joke was so funny it forgot how to fly straight and bounced off the ground, stunned.

Elias flew up and did an all-out attack (double) on the stunned raven, achieving a solid hit with knockback, which caused the raven to slam into Zaber (who chose not to dodge) then bounce off Zaber and land at his feet.  The raven recovered from stun, then Zaber tried grabbing it, but it dodged.

Polly loosed an arrow at the bird, which dodged, then had a chance to hit Zaber, who also dodged.  He asked Zaber if he was okay with this, and he was, so she kept trying, but didn't manage to hit anyone.  Garreth ran up and tried rapid striking at the bird, which retreated out of Zaber's hex and dodged, and then he missed his second attack.

Zaber, not fearing the raven, went for another all-out attack (double) and used Luck to avert a critical failure, and got a critical hit instead.  This achieved knockback and bounced the raven off the cavern wall for more damage, then back into his second flail strike, which got knockback again, and also stunned the raven.  The raven changed form again, into a large oozing blob.  The blob failed to unstun on its turn.

Zaber stabbed the blob with his knife, causing mauve liquid to leak out.  Polly stayed conscious, then stabbed it three times, the final one fatally.  As the phasm died, a Polly torso appeared, then a raven head, but finally its corpse stabilized into its natural form, dead blob on a puddle of mauve pus.

After a bit of rest, Seépravir cast See Secrets on Zaber.  Polly, barely holding on to consciousness, asked Elias for another Bless spell before she even asked for healing.  With a full power item, he was able to give her Bless +2, and she then grabbed the wineskin of healing potions and drank four doses.  Elias suggested burning the phasm, so Seépravir cast Create Fire on its corpse.

Polly, suspicious that more rocks might conceal more shapeshifting horrors, got the pickaxe out of the Bag of Holding and smashed various rocks for a while.  She didn't find any more enemies.  There was a locked door on the west wall.  Zaber picked the lock then opened it.  It led to a north-south passage leading nowhere, with another double door on the far wall.  The passage to nowhere was suspicious so Polly attacked the doors, leaving small dents from bodkin arrows.  Zaber opened the doors.

Beyond was a round room, containing a pretty marble slab on the floor with a poem inscribed in it.  On the far side of the room were two tables, one with three iron containers (box, pyramid, globe), the other with several small knickknacks (wood, iron bar, golden disc, shard of glass, purple fabric, rock).  There was also a lever on the wall.  And there was a secret door, which Zaber easily spotted thanks to See Secrets.  There was also a trap on the secret door, which he disabled.

The poem on the floor was:

“Key, Lock, and Chain
Each I Hid in Vain
It Would Be Such Delight
If You Would Make Things Right
Three Containers I Did Devise
To Hold Anew Each Glassy Prize
With Each Should Go A Token Right
That Once Held My Prize So Tight
Return Them To Their Proper Home
Then Pull Yon Lever, ‘Neath The Dome
Do This Thing, Nothing More
To Open Wide My Treasure’s Door”

It appears the PCs had found a really annoying puzzle.  Presumably the right items had to be placed in the right containers, and then the lever pulled.  Polly put the gold disc in the box then pulled the lever, and nothing happened.  (Zaber thought the trap was supposed to go off there, but he had disabled it, so nothing happened.)  Polly then figured it was probably one item per container, so loaded up another try, to no avail.

Seépravir came into the room and said that she was tired and didn't feel like thinking about the puzzle, but with six items and three containers she could write down every single possible combination for them, and then go back in the hall while they tried them.  She suggested that only one person stay in the room, in case there were more traps.  About ten minutes later, she handed over a piece of parchment with lots of combinations of items and containers written on it, then went down to the end of the hallway to rest and wait to see if anyone needed rescuing.

Polly and Zaber and Elias weren't done thinking about the puzzle yet, and tried a few more combinations, to no avail.  Garreth pulled out the pickaxe and suggested just bashing through the secret door.  Polly said to wait a minute, and first smashed the door to the room, so it couldn't lock them in.  Then she tried prying up the marble slab on the floor, but it was too heavy.  Garreth charged up Power Blow then lifted the marble slab.  Underneath was a small coffin.  Inside were some small bones, but no treasure or clues.  Zaber marked the location of the secret door for Garreth, while Polly put the coffin back.

Garreth started smashing down the secret door.  He broke the pickaxe, and brought the pieces down the hall so Seépravir could cast Repair, then resumed smashing.  Eventually he got the door all the way open, and a horrible wail came out of the room behind the secret door.  Everyone except Seépravir (who was smart enough to be out of range) had to roll against HT-3.  Elias failed, and his Bless was blown off, saving his life in the process.  Everyone else made it.

The small secret room was piled high with silver coins.  Thousands of silver coins.  Zaber started scooping them into the Bag of Holding.  Among the coins were some magic boots and a non-magical silver morningstar, which were also thrown into the bag.  Polly got a shovel for more efficient coin-moving.  With all the coins finally gathered up, and Elias's Bless gone and his power item empty, the group decided to finally head back to Cillamar.  They had finished looting Nimboltin's tomb, though maybe not exactly the way he would have wanted them to.

GM's Comments:

Rules question of the day: can you fast-draw (to parry) at the end of a Do Nothing turn forced by mental stun?  I allowed it, but stated that if the fast-draw failed, that was an automatic failed parry on the first defense.  (As well as the next turn's action spent readying.)

When the phasm assumed raven form and dodged his slam, Zaber's player predicted that the raven would tell him to eat its shorts, before I could even finish typing it.  I guess The Simpsons is still big in the Kingdom of Morrain.

The players failed to solve the puzzle at the end (it was a remember-previous-things-from-the-level puzzle, not a logic puzzle, so when they didn't get it immediately I figured they had no chance), but the pickaxe eventually worked, at the cost of triggering the very nasty second trap, which was inside the secret room so not able to be disabled from outside.  At that point everyone had an active Bless though, so it wasn't as dangerous as it could have been.

The scales were not really much of a threat.  They were strong, but not very fast, so Polly could pretty much just pound them with arrows from a distance until they fell over.  Which is mostly what happened, though Elias landed the killing blow on one of them with a great critical hit.

The phasm was an extremely nasty opponent, in Polly form.  However, Polly survived its initial volley of attacks when she was surprised, and then made a death check and all her stun and consciousness checks for the whole battle.  The moral of the story is to have high HT.  Once they surrounded the phasm and it switched to raven form to retreat, it wasn't nearly as much of a threat.  (It could have gone back to Polly form, but by then it was too busy getting stunned.  All the PCs having Flight made the raven's quick escape ability much less effective, as they were almost as fast as it.)

In hindsight, the phasm probably would have been more effective if it stayed in Polly form and only attacked Polly, so the others couldn't be sure which Polly was which.  But it wasn't a super-genius, so I didn't play it with full GM knowledge, only with the programmed tactics from the adventure, which weren't optimal.

Now that they have a huge pile of silver, I suspect the next week will be consumed with PCs dreaming of things to buy, then failing to find those things because Cillamar is a small town and there are no magic item shops.  We'll see what happens when they go back into the dungeon.


DF Whiterock Session 77: Vampire, Ghost, and Halfling




Cold (session entirely underground)

Player Characters:

Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 454 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 452 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 444 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 457 points

Significant NPCs:

Elias, Wood Elf Cleric
Gora-Khun, Hobgoblin Vampire
5 Bat Swarms
Ghost of Elweiss, Human Warrior
Programmed Illusion of Nimboltin Softstep, Halfling Thief
Metal Hands of Frisking
Ethereal Filcher
2 Huge Invisible Animated Scales

We began in mid-battle against a hobgoblin vampire that had just tried, and failed, to surprise Zaber.  The vampire spotted Zaber, despite Invisibility, and commanded him to kill the elf behind him.  Zaber resisted the command, while Polly scoffed at his ability to hurt her.  Zaber tried grappling the vampire's legs, but missed.  Polly loosed an arrow at the vampire -- and he turned into gas, avoiding it.  She followed up with a couple more arrows, just in case the vampire was invisible rather than actually immune to arrow fire, but they both hit the wall.  Polly then yelled to Seépravir that she would like a Resist Magic spell to avoid getting charmed, and Seépravir yelled back that range matters and to move closer if she wanted spells.  Elias charged in the general direction of the battle.  Seépravir dropped some non-essential spells and cast Resist Magic on Garreth, who was next to her.   
A voice from somewhere said "ha ha ha come my pretties" and then a *lot* of bats appeared.  Zaber flew up to ceiling level, which wasn't that high.  Polly started shooting bats.  Garreth stepped up and waited for something to come within katana range.  Elias charged a bat swarm and started smashing bats with his Flaming flail and shield, while yelling for the vampire to show himself.

A bunch of bats swarmed Elias, but failed to get through his heavy armor.  Fewer bats swarmed Zaber, and failed to get through his much lighter armor.  The vampire reappeared, and gazed into Elias's eyes, and Elias resisted and told it to get bent.  Polly shot some arrows at the vampire.  He went gaseous again, but not quite fast enough, and one of her arrows hurt his arm.  Garreth continued waiting and guarding Seépravir, who yelled tactical advice to Polly.

Some of the bats decided Seépravir looked tasty, and flew over to bite her.  Garreth chopped some of them up, but some got close, so Seépravir used Blink to put some distance between herself and them, then failed her Body Sense roll and staggered.  (Swarm attacks normally automatically hit if the swarm is in your hex, but since Blink lets you get multiple hexes away, I allowed using it to escape.)  The vampire got tired of people resisting his charms, and switched to trying to chop Polly with his greatsword.  He missed twice, and she acrobatically dodged the other attack.

Zaber all-out defended.  Polly fast-drew her rapier, and started making extremely deceptive attacks on the vampire.  He dodged one, one missed, and one hit solidly but didn't seem to hurt him much.  Garreth thinned the nearby bat swarms.  Elias charged the vampire and tried flailing it twice with a rapid strike, but he retreated and went gaseous.

Seépravir recovered from stun, just in time for another bat swarm to attack her.  She Blinked away again, and failed her Body Sense roll again, and was stunned again.  (Note: actually a failed Body Sense roll only costs you one turn; it's not a full stun where you have to roll to recover, unless you critically fail.  So she didn't actually need to roll to recover there.)    More bats continued swarming Elias, which continued to be futile since he had too much armor for the bats.  Zaber decided to join in the fun of killing bat swarms, using his knife.

A bat swarm went for Seépravir for the third time, and she Blinked away for a third time, and failed Body Sense for a third time.  The vampire appeared near (but not directly behind) Polly, and tried multiple deceptive attacks.  One was a critical hit, until Polly used Luck to make him reroll it.  She managed to dodge everything, which impressed the vampire to the point where he said she could have won second place in the arena.  Polly attacked back three times, but the vampire parried or dodged all of them.  Polly yelled for Elias to shield rush, but he didn't hear her in time, and just went for a move-and-attack with his flail instead, and missed.

The vampire, with three opponents near him and his bat swarms destroyed, said "A bit crowded; I'll kill you guys later" and went gaseous again, and this time he didn't come back.  Seépravir went looking for an arrow with vampire blood on it that she could use to track him with Seeker.  Meanwhile Garreth started singing offensive-to-vampires songs to try to taunt him back, to no avail.  Seépravir needed a short rest after casting all those spells, then put another See Secrets on Zaber, then the group continued moving down the tunnel.  Polly suggested that they clump together in a Tactical Huddle formation to keep the vampire from appearing and backstabbing someone, so they moved as a tight blob with people watching multiple directions, rather than their usual 2-scouts-and-3-followers formation.

There was a lot of graffiti on the walls, mostly in Undercommon and Dwarven, about Koborth and how he sucked.  The passage ended in a metal door, with some writing on it in Celestial.  Seépravir actually knew some Celestial, and it said "Tomb of Koborth, General of the Free Lands, Leader of the Company of the Black Osprey: Swordsman, Husband, Friend."  Polly pointed out another plaque that they hadn't read, so they went back to read that one.  It was in Undercommon, which nobody could read, so Elias tried Gift of Letters, which failed.  Then Seépravir tried Gift of Letters, and succeeded, and it read "The accomplices of the Villain Koborth had Hidden here Devices Most Unworthy to Deter the Strong Spirit of the Duergar. The Traps were Removed at Loss of only Inconsequential Life."

When they were done reading things, Zaber tried the door, and it was locked.  So he picked the lock, then opened the door.  Behind the door was a hexagonal room, with 3 pillars and 1 knocked-over pillar, and a sarcophagus with a glass lid, and 4 doors on the north and south walls, and some steps to the west leading up to a statue and another sarcophagus.  And there was a lot more to read: plaques on the glass-topped coffin and next to all the doors.  Polly thought the statue must be a golem and needed shooting, and put an arrow into it, to no effect.  Meanwhile, Zaber thought he saw motion inside the glass-lidded coffin.

As Zaber approached, he saw that the thing in the coffin looked like a human male, except translucent, and it was mouthing words at him that he couldn't hear.  The plaque, in Dwarf, said "This unholy guardian slave slew several brave duergar as it sought vengeance for the rightful seizure of this tomb. The jutice of the Thane decrees it shall watch as its protectorate is visited with inpunity by Guests of the Duergar."  Zaber used his Lip Reading skill to figure out that the translucent coffin-dweller was mouthing "let me out" and "break the glass."

Polly waved Elias over, to see if he had any clerical insight.  Elias's insight was "whoa, that looks like a ghost."  Garreth asked Elias to cast Affect Spirits on his sword in case it was hostile.  Garreth then smashed the glass lid, and freed the ghost.  The ghost emerged, and thanked him.  Polly asked if he was Koborth, but the ghost explained he was Koborth's friend, and was guarding his tomb, but couldn't remember his name.  Seépravir, who had figured out who the ghost was (Koborth's squire Elweiss), whispered "Hide your spear" to Garreth, but not quietly enough, and the ghost said "Hey you have my spear!"  His memory was a bit hazy, but he knew there were 4 important items in the room, which had been taken by the duergar, and they needed to be returned.  The spear was one, one was a skullcap of an orc leader, one was a cursed blade, and one was a contract signed by the Black Osprey.  He said to look at the statues in the alcoves.

Zaber read all the plaques by the alcoves.  Each said something about one of the four items.  Garreth was pretty sure they had the orcish skullcap, and he knew they had the spear (though he didn't want to return it), which left the blade and the contract.  Polly asked about the hobgoblin vampire.  The ghost remembered that his name was Gora-Khun and that he was a jerk who liked taunting him through the glass.  He also said something about Koborth's greatsword, which got Garreth's attention, but Elweiss didn't remember a lot of details about anything.  He thought maybe recovering the 4 items might help with his memory.

The group walked over to the statue, which both Elweiss and its plaque confirmed was Koborth.  Zaber asked if they should free Koborth, but Elweiss said he thought the duergar already took him somewhere else.  Polly and Zaber opened a couple of coffins.  Elweiss's contained bones.  Koborth's was empty except for a greatsword's scabbard, which apparently used to be jeweled but the gems had been removed.  The scabbard had an inscription, which Seépravir read as "Koborth, remember that only you or I can draw forth Scalemar. Though it should really be you. -- Pelltar."  She also noticed the scabbard was magical.  Polly checked to see if any gems they had fit the scabbard, but didn't find a match.

Zaber, with See Secrets, noticed a secret door behind Koborth's sarcophagus.  He opened it, and found a small room with a checkerboard floor and a ceramic bowl full of coins in the middle of it.  When he stepped in, a halfling appeared and gave a speech.  He said he was Nimboltin Softstep, of the Company of the Black Osprey, and this was his tomb.  And he asked that they take the bowl of coins, and leave the rest of his much greater fortune alone.  After a bit, they realized the halfling was actually a programmed illusion.  Zaber ignored the bowl of coins, and Garreth was about to pick it up, but Zaber asked him not to.  There was another door on the far wall, so Zaber opened it and went through.

The next room had 4 more exits: 3 with gold trim around the door, and 1 plain.  Then another illusion of the same halfling appeared.  He said that if someone was going to steal his wealth, it should be a highly skilled skulker with varied talents and flexible morals.  He then pointed at 3 doors, and said that behind each was a test.  If the test was passed, it would yield a key that would allow walking through walls.  If not, you have to use the other door, and fight.

Zaber touched a door, and the illusion appeared again, and said that behind the room was a mannequin wearing a vest, and that the vest contained a key, and that it was necessary to take the key and sneak it out of the room, past some metal hands that would search.  And that if you used magic, you lost.  There was much discussion about what counted as magic and whether they had to remove all existing spells.  Eventually, they decided not to add or remove any spells.  Zaber snuck in, pickpocketed the dummy, hid the key (which was actually a hollow metal tube), let some metal hands frisk him and fail to find the key, and escaped the room.  (He didn't like his first Holdout roll when the hands frisked him, so he used Luck to get a better one, which turned out to be good enough.)  

Zaber continued to the second door.  This time the halfling illusion said that it was a test of appraising items.  There was a gold idol behind glass, a bucket, a bunch of iron coins, and a lever.  You had to figure out how much the idol was worth, put that many coins in the bucket (as if they were copper not iron), and pull the lever.  Zaber and Seépravir agreed that Seépravir was better at appraising things, so she decided to do this one.  She looked at the idol for a while and decided that it was a fake, worth about $10, and the rubies in its eyes were pretty glass, worth about $25 each.  She dropped 60 iron coins in the bucket and pulled the lever.  The glass plate moved, and a glass chain remained, which she grabbed.

The third door contained a test of forgery.  There was a will, claiming to be the will of Pelltar, giving Nimboltin all of Pelltar's money.  There was a desk with writing implements.  The task was to copy the will, changing the beneficiary, then give the forged will to a three-armed statue for judgement.  Nobody actually had any Forgery skill, so Seépravir, with her high defaults thanks to high IQ, decided to try it.  She gave the fake will to the statue, then tried Fast-Talking the statue, and rolled a critical failure.  The statue put the will in its mouth and started chewing.  So, two quests done, one quest failed.

Polly was happy to go with Plan B, fighting.  Zaber listened to the fourth door, heard nothing, and let Polly open it.  Behind the door was a large room containing a lot of rubble, but no obvious enemies.  Polly fired an arrow at some rubble, and a few more at the walls, but this didn't uncover anything.  While the group advanced suspiciously into the room, Seépravir felt something trying to steal the magic ring off her finger.  She flew up and screamed.  The ring also screamed.  See Invisible didn't spot the thief, and neither did Garreth's blind fighting.

A few seconds later, Garreth felt a bit lighter.  Zaber moved to the far side of the room, where there was a locked door.  As he started picking it, Garreth felt something to his side, and spun to see a large, bizarre-looking creature, trying to bite him.  (Luckily for Garreth, Seépravir was right behind him, so the creature failed to setup a proper backstab from completely out of his line of sight.)  He dodged the bite, and then the creature faded out, undetectable to See Invisible.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself so she could cast other spells faster, while Zaber kept picking the lock, and everyone else waited for the thing to reappear so they could attack it.

While they were waiting, Garreth realized what was missing: his quick-release backpack, containing a Bag of Holding, containing a whole lot of stuff.  This made him angry.  Seépravir cast Ethereal Body on Garreth to let him chase the thing back to the Ethereal plane, though without his equipment.  When he phased out, he saw the creature, which was circling around the party slowly, staring carefully, seeing what to steal next or whom to backstab.

Garreth slammed it, and scored a critical hit, knocking the ethereal filcher prone and causing a major wound and stunning the creature.  The filcher failed to unstun on its turn, so Garreth was free to All-Out Attack (Double), and turned one of the attacks into a rapid strike, for a total of 3 kicks at the prone filcher.  The combined damage knocked the filcher unconscious.  Garreth took his backpack back, then kicked it to death.  Zaber finished picking the lock.  A minute later, the Ethereal Body spell expired, and Garreth reappeared.  He then put his armor, which had fallen off when he turned ethereal, back on.

Zaber opened the door, which led to a passage, with a bucket hanging from a hook, and another door on the other side.  Polly touched the door, but nothing happened.  Zaber carefully checked around the hook, and found a pressure plate on the floor under the bucket.  He tried disabling it, and tripped something, which caused the wall on the east side of the passage to glow purple and translucent.  Zaber stepped into and through the purple wall.  Polly tried following, and hit her face on it, but gracefully enough to suffer no damage.  Garreth tried hitting whatever pressure plate Zaber had found, but failed to find it.

Zaber, separated from the group, put on his Ring of Invisibility.  Meanwhile, Polly opened the door and went into a large room.  It contained a couple of huge scales in alcoves to the north and south sides.  One of the scales had flames coming out of one side.  Zaber went north down a passage, then opened a door to his west, and it led into the same room where Polly was.  The scales weren't happy to see Zaber there, though, and moved to attack him.

We ran out of time there, and stopped until next week.

GM's Comments:

The hobgoblin vampire seemed pretty tough, but failed to charm anybody or scratch Polly with his greatsword.  He did manage to escape using his Gaseous Form ability.  The bat swarms didn't really do any damage, since everyone except Seépravir has pretty good armor, and Seépravir has Blink to escape them.

The PCs spent a lot of time interacting with the ghost of Elweiss.  Lots of backstory, but Elweiss seems to not be remembering very well.  Garreth doesn't want to give the spear back, since it gives him Great Haste.  So, we'll see what happens.

The three tests of a thief were somewhat amusing.  Zaber passed the Pickpocket and Holdout test, Seépravir passed the Merchant test, and then Seépravir failed the Forgery test.  (In fairness, she's not even a thief.)  Two out of three meant fighting, which Polly didn't mind.

The Ethereal Filcher seemed pretty nasty, and chasing it back to its own plane for a solo fight seemed pretty gutsy, but Garreth rolled great and it rolled horribly, and the death spiral began.

We'll find out next time why there are giant animated scales and what they do.


DF Whiterock Session 76: The Grimlocks




Cold (session entirely underground)

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 384 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 452 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 450 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 441 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 455 points

Significant NPCs:

6 Grimlock Warriors
Grimlock Adept
Hobgoblin Vampire

We continued in the dungeon, on the duergar level, right after the PCs had figured out how to spin a large wheel to lower an elevator.  Zaber invisibly rode the lift down a few feet until he saw it opened into a large room, about 80' square and 35' tall.  At floor level, there were several double portcullises, leading to large alcoves.  At higher levels, there were viewing stands around three sides of the room, with some kind of hard-to-see barrier separating the stands from the arena floor.  And there were some large crystals in the ceiling.

Zaber looked around and saw some sawdust on the floor and some blood on one of the walls, flew up to check out the crystals, but some kind of barrier prevented him from reaching them.  He then flew back up to the level above to tell the others what he'd seen.  Garreth was worried that if they all went down there, they might be trapped.  While they were discussing what to do next, Zaber heard some yelling down below, probably a duergar.  Seépravir cast Soul Rider on Zaber so she could watch through his eyes as he explored.

Zaber stuck his head back down, and saw one of the portcullises crashes down, then go back up, as some yelling continued.  Seépravir, with Gift of Tongues active, was able to decipher that the yelling was in Giant, and was about which lever controlled which gate.  She was also able to see that the crystals on the ceiling were magic, as were the invisible barriers surrounding the arena.  He flew around a bit, but didn't find anything else interesting, then came back up and suggested they try another lift.

The group ran around upstairs for a while, until Polly found another room with a lift and a pair of wheels to lower it.  Garreth used Power Blow to turn the wheel, and accidentally ripped it off its axle.  He then walked over to the other wheel and slightly more gently spun it, lowering the lift enough for Zaber to fly through.  He found it was another entrance to the same large arena.  That didn't find anything interesting, so he went back upstairs and the group ran around some more until they found the third lift.  The third lift also led to the same arena, so they appeared out of good ideas, until Polly reminded everyone that there were also stairs, near the guardroom at the entrance to the level.

After finding the guard room, Polly tried opening the door, but it was locked.  Zaber picked the lock, and then everyone went down the long stairway.  It was quite dark, so Seépravir cast Dark Vision on those that didn't have it.  At the bottom of the stairs was a long hallway, with a double doors at the end, a couple of sets of stairs up to the east, and two signs.  The closer sign, in Undercommon, talked about the things going on in the Bleak Theater: Auction of Chattel (Human and Hill Dwarf), Razor Boar Exhibition (with unsold chattel), Penal Court of Thane Vejik (executions to follow), and Open Tryouts for Tower Tournament.

Before they made it to the far end of the hallway, Zaber heard the sound of conversation to the south, in a language he didn't speak.  He snuck a peek at the second sign: it read "Forbidden" in several languages.  Garreth tried opening the door, but it was locked.  Zaber picked the lock, then opened the door.  As he did so, he heard the south of someone bashing down another door, a bit to the southwest.  He flew forward to see what was happening, and spotted several humanoids with axes, shields, and no eyes.

His invisibility didn't seem to help much against creatures with no eyes.  One sensed him and asked, in Common, if he could kill the surfacer weakling.  The probable leader gave some kind of answer in another language, and then the whole group of grimlocks charged.  Zaber flew back, not wanting to get swarmed, and drew his knife.  Polly shot a group of arrows, and managed to hit one of the grimlocks in the skull for a knockout.  Garreth flew forward and drew his katana.

One of the grimlocks got within axe range of Polly, but she rolled a critical success on her acrobatic dodge, forcing the axe to turn in his hand.  Elias closed.  Seépravir flew into range and then tried Rapier Wit in undercommon.  Apparently the grimlock she picked spoke it well enough, as he was stunned.  Zaber flew around some more, and Polly launched some more arrows into a dense crowd, but somehow none of the grimlocks got hurt this time.

Garreth used Rapid Strike to double attack the lead grimlock, badly wounding him but not managing a stun.  The injured grimlock tried cutting Polly's head off twice, but Garreth parried both blows for her.  Another grimlock swung his axe up at Zaber overhead, but Zaber barrel rolled away.  The final grimlock cast Dispel Magic on Zaber, trying to take out Flight and cause a crash.  Seépravir tried a Ward to protect against this, but it failed.  The dispel took away Zaber's Dark Vision, though fortunately he could still see using the light from Elias's flaming flail (and his Night Vision meant that a little bit of light was enough).  All the rest of the spells on Zaber (Flight, Bless, See Secrets, See Invisible, Keen Vision) resisted dispelling.

Elias stepped up and tried a rapid strike against the grimlock that Garreth had already injured, landing one solid hit but not knocking him out.  Seépravir dropped a Smoke spell over the grimlocks in the back, then used Rapier Wit to stun another one.  Zaber tried stabbing a grimlock in the hand, but was parried.  Polly decided to switch from bow to rapier for deceptive attacks, and knocked two grimlocks out with skull hits.

Garreth tried rapid striking another grimlock, but his first blow was parried and his second missed.  One of them tried to chop Polly's head off, but missed.  The one under Zaber went for two heavily deceptive attacks at his torso, and missed both.  The spellcaster started casting some spell.  Elias went for two flail hits on a grimlock again, and rolled a critical hit, but failed to knock him out.

Seépravir used Rapier Wit again, in Common this time, and it worked again, stunning another grimlock.  She then used Death Vision on another grimlock, stunning him as well.  Zaber dove down and grabbed the spellcaster by the foot.  He chose not to defend, not wanting to lose his spell in progress, but had to make a Will-3 check for being grappled, and failed it, losing his spell anyway.

Polly smashed two more grimlocks in the skull, both fatally.  The remaining grimlocks near Zaber tried chopping him, but he dodged.  Seépravir dismissed her Smoke to make it easier to find the survivors.  Zaber tackled the grimlock caster, then Polly smashed him in the skull while he was down, but failed to knock him out.  Garreth followed up with a couple of katana slashes and killed him.

The last surviving grimlock was brave enough to All-Out Attack Zaber, rather than running away.  Zaber managed to dodge both attacks, and then Elias stepped up and killed the grimlock with his flail.  Garreth started looting bodies, and found the spellcaster had a holy symbol featuring a skull with a dagger through its eye, very metal.  Also some gems.  And his axe head was bone, not standard duergar-issue metal like the others.

Zaber noticed a door to the west had been bashed.  Behind it was a hallway, which bend then led to a very strong, locked metal door with a plaque next to it.  The plaque read "Tomb of human warrior Koborth, discovered and annexed by Thane Feigr Venik, 2887" in two languages.  Zaber picked the lock (which was difficult) but didn't open the door.  Instead, he doubled back and started opening other doors in the hallway.  There were three duergar bunkrooms, full of beds and unlocked footlockers containing nothing of value.

The next door was locked, and Zaber couldn't pick it.  Garreth used Power Blow and Forced Entry and one of the grimlocks' axes, and managed to remove a hinge from the door, before the axe broke.  He got another axe and removed another hinge, breaking a second axe in the process.  Seépravir cast Repair to fix both axes, while Garreth ripped the de-hinged door off.  Inside was a room with a table and a nicer bed.  The table had a book (in Dwarven), a jeweled letter opener, and writing implements.  Under the bed was a large box full of dwarf clothing, and a small locked chest.  Zaber picked the lock, and found the chest contained a bunch of coins, a paper labeled "Razor Boar pool" with two columns "tastes great" and "tastes bad" and a bunch of names under them, and ten crossbow bolts, which were greenish and very heavy.  Seépravir guessed they might be meteoric iron, and tried Apportation on them, which failed.

Zaber went back to the door to Koborth's tomb, and managed to open it.  It led to a 5' wide, 6' tall cramped passage.  There was much graffiti on the walls, mostly in Dwarvish, most of it insulting to Koborth.  As Zaber came around a corner into a large passage, his Danger Sense went off, and he noticed an undead hobgoblin with a greatsword, up near the ceiling, preparing to ambush him.

We didn't have enough time left in the session for another fight, so we stopped there.

GM's Comments:

Lots of cautious exploration this session.  The group didn't want to go into the arena, for fear they might be trapped there, so after Zaber scouted it out, they went another way.  The grimlocks were fairly hardy, but failed to dent the PCs.

The hobgoblin vampire failed to surprise Zaber.  We'll find out what else he manages to do, next week.

DF Whiterock Session 81: The Other Bleak Theater Guard Room

Date: 2019-01-10 Weather: Unseasonably warm, session entirely underground Player Characters: Elias , Wood E...