DF Whiterock Session 53: Mother Stirge and the Stalactite




None; session entirely underground.

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 310 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 381 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 376 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 364 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 398 points

Significant NPCs:

Many stirges
Many stirge swarms
Stirge Brood Mother
3 Big Spiders
2 Humongous Spiders
2 Warriors with Crossbows
Azzik, Gargoyle Archer

We started in the stirge lair, off of the Immense Cavern, where the PCs had just defeated several groups of stirges.  Their Great Hastes had just expired making the recipients quite fatigued, and Seépravir had just cast Create Fire.  With two unexplored passages ahead, Seépravir used Shape Fire to move the fire up to block one of them, and then started casting Lend Energy to help people recover FP.

Eventually, Zaber saw some stirges come around the unblocked corner to the southeast.  Polly loosed arrows at them.  Zaber and Garreth waited for a target to come within range.  A swarm of stirges came at Elias, and Garreth reduced their numbers with his katana.  Another swarm got Polly, doing a bit of cutting damage.  Another went after Zaber, who chopped them up a bit with his knife, took a minor wound, then chopped them up some more, eliminating one swarm.  Meanwhile, Seépravir moved the fire onto the stirges to inflict a bit of damage.

A couple of larger (SM-1) stirges moved up behind the swarms of little ones.  Elias smashed one twice with his Flaming flail, it critically failed its first dodge and failed its second, and the combination of crushing and fire and anti-evil damage eradicated it.  Two remaining swarms got Garreth, reducing him to below 0 HP, but he stayed conscious.  Another one did solid damage to Zaber, slowing him.  Garreth managed to finish the first one off.

The last 3 larger stirges attacked Zaber, Garreth, and Elias, all going for deceptive face grapples.  Zaber parried.  Garreth managed to critically parry, causing the strix to lose balance and take -2 to defenses, but needed to use Luck.  Elias blocked, then wrecked a strix with his flail.  Zaber all-out defended.  Polly carefully lined up a shot so that if one strix dodged another might get hit, and managed to hit one, killing it and knocking its body into the fire.  Garreth hit the last one and inflicted multiple death checks, but it survived for a second, until Elias finished it off.

Another battle against stirges was won, but both Garreth and Zaber were badly hurt.  Elias cast a couple of Stop Bleedings and Major Healings and they got better.  Foolishly, the remaining stirges out of line of sight gave them time to do this.

The party pressed forward again, behind a wall of fire, and eventually reached a large cavern containing several more stirge swarms and one huge (SM+2) strix, the Brood Mother.  (Think Jabba the Hutt, but much dumber, and cannibalistic, and with the flight ability of a chicken.)  Polly shot through the fire, missed one swarm, but hit the one behind it.  Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  All the PCs moved up and waited behind the fire for a bit, but then Polly mentioned that it didn't do much damage (1d-3, with armor protecting), and ran right through it.

The brood mother flew (kind of) at Polly and attacked with her huge proboscis, but missed because it was a Move and Attack and she rolled a 10.  Garreth charged through the fire and went for a Drunken Fighting (+2 to DX) heavily deceptive All-Out Attack (Double) with Rapid Strike on the brood mother, for three total attacks.  She failed to dodge the first with the deceptive attack penalty, and was hurt badly enough to slow her to half move and dodge, causing her to have little chance to dodge the others.  The total damage was a stun and three death checks, which she passed.

A couple of the swarms took revenge on Garreth, pecking at his face, but they rolled poor damage.  Polly shot the stunned Brood Mother in the eye, which finished her.  At that point all the PCs counter-swarmed the two remaining stirge swarms, with a little help from fire damage, and finished them off.

Looting commenced.  Seépravir cast Seek Magic and detected something magical in a refuse heap in the north end of the room.  Zaber checked it out, and found a white metal bastard sword with some Elvish writing on the blade.  His broken Elvish was enough to see that it read "Damarel," probably a name.  He tried saying it, to no effect.  Garreth came running up excitedly and took the sword, then started swinging it around and declared it a high quality weapon, though there was no time to figure out exactly what the magic did.

Seépravir cast Seek Magic again and found more magic in another pile of junk.  Zaber dug through that one too, and found a small metal shield, with the partial bony remains of an arm still through the straps.  There was a picture of a spider painted on the shield, which Elias identified as evil and in need of painting over.  A third Seek Magic didn't find anything else in the immediate vicinity, so Zaber resorted to manual searching, and found an axe, which Seépravir (who isn't much of a warrior but knows a bit about everything) thought was decent quality and probably worth something.

After a bit of healing and resting, a discussion ensued on whether it was worth using Shape Earth to try to close up the cave and keep any remaining stirges in, or whether they should just leave.  Eventually they just left, after Seépravir re-cast some Flight spells that she had allowed to expire.

The group flew back to the fungus forest, under the huge stalactite.  The plan was for Zaber (Invisible, via ring) and Polly (visible) to scout the behir's lair for treasure.  Seépravir decided to turn herself Invisible and tag along.  Garreth and Elias stayed at ground level, with Garreth meditating.  Zaber started checking out the shelf where the behir had been spotted, but then Polly got too close to the big stalactite, and a crossbow bolt flew out, aimed at her back!  Fortunately, she was lucky and it missed.  At that point the scouts stopped checking out the behir lair and focused on whoever was shooting at them from inside the huge stalactite.  Zaber saw there was a large portcullis on the previously-unseen southeast face of the stalactite.

Polly started shooting into the stalactite, using free arrows from her Cornucopia quiver.  Someone in there was yelling "Azzik!" and then some other words in Undercommon.  (Seépravir spoke enough Undercommon to recognize that Azzik needed to wake up and shoot the surface-dwelling archer outside.)  As Polly moved closer she could see inside, where there were two humans with crossbows using the portcullis for cover.  She shot one of them, and then both of them got out of her line of sight.

Azzik, who turned out to be a gargoyle with a composite bow, eventually did that, popping out from behind a the edge of the portcullis.  I ruled this was an Old West-style contest of Fast-Draw (arrow).  Polly won the contest, with a critical success, so I ruled she got her whole turn (two shots) before Azzik got to shoot back.  Her first shot was a critical hit.  Her second shot was also accurate, but the gargoyle dodged it, and returned fire.  Polly critically succeeded on her Acrobatics roll, succeeded on her Dodge, and then Azzik rolled a 17 to miss his second shot, and then stepped back out of line of sight.

Zaber, still Invisible, flew up to the portcullis to see what was inside.  He saw the gargoyle archer and two crossbowmen off to the left, away from where Polly could shoot them.  He also saw some huge spiders walking around.  Finally, he saw a large lever to the right of the portcullis, out of reach.  He immediately squeezed between the bars (this required an Escape-6 roll, which he made by a lot) and then flew over to hit the lever, causing the portcullis to start rising.

Garreth and Elias were still on the ground far below, so Polly fired an arrow with Continual Light into their vicinity to get their attention.  Garreth was too busy meditating to notice, but Elias saw it, grabbed Garreth, and both started flying up to help out.

Polly moved up into Azzik's line of sight, and he fired two arrows at her.  She dodged both, though the first needed Luck.  Both crossbow guys fired at her too, but both missed.  Polly shot at Azzik, first lining up so that he had both a crossbowman and a spider behind him as secondary targets.  The gargoyle dodged, but the arrow achieved a lucky critical hit on the crossbowman.  (Not his day.)

The humongous (horse-sized) spiders were smart enough to go check out the vicinity of the lever that had moved all by itself and caused the portcullis to raise.  One took a wild swing at Invisible Zaber, but missed.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Polly.  Polly fired at the gargoyle's hand, he dodged, but then she hit the crossbowman behind him (again!) and achieved an accidental kill.  Then Polly shot his hand again, he failed to dodge, and he had a crippled hand, rendering him incapable of using a bow.

Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  Zaber flew back away from the humongous spiders, pulled a coin out of his pouch, and threw it to the back of the room to distract them.  It worked, and they started chasing the coin.  Polly loosed several more arrows at Azzik, one hit, and he critically failed his stun check and fell unconscious.

The remaining crossbow guy fired at Polly, predictably missing, just as Garreth arrived.  Seépravir cast Death Vision on the crossbow guy, stunning him with a vision of a half-orc chopping him to bits.  Garreth flew up and unleashed an All-Out Attack (Double) plus Rapid Strike for three attacks, inflicting enough damage on the stunned guard to kill him without needing to roll the death checks.  

At that point all that was left was the spiders.  Zaber flew back outside the portcullis and tried to trick the humongous spiders into following him off the edge and falling, but they weren't quite that dumb.  Polly shot a spider and rolled yet another critical hit, stunning it and preventing it from attacking the defenseless (well, except for the armor and lots of HP) Garreth.  She then shot another little spider and achieved another critical hit.

There were two spiders left, but they couldn't reach the PCs as fast as Polly could fill them with arrows, and they died.  We stopped there, with the PCs remaining in the stalactite to press on with the possible benefit of surprise, rather than going back to town.

GM's Comments:

Polly got three hits in this session where she lined up multiple targets, the one in front was missed or managed to dodge, but then the one behind got hit.  The odds of this happening on any given shot are never great (hitting the wrong target is never more likely than 9 or less on 3d6), but if you fire enough arrows and are careful to line up multiple targets whenever possible, sometimes it will work out.

The Polly vs. Azzik archery war should have been interesting, but Polly rolled crazy well (something like 5 critical successes in a short period) and Azzik rolled horribly, so it ended with him unconscious with a crippled hand without ever achieving a hit.  The crossbowmen were pretty useless -- lots of time spent reloading, then lots of missing.

We'll see what's in the stalactite next time.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of having an inverted tower like that stalactite!


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