2020-05-22

DF Whiterock Session 95: A Deeper Duergar Guard Post


Date:

2020-05-15


Weather:


Cool, session entirely underground


Player Characters:


Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 428 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 488 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 488 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 482 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High Elf Wizard, 493 points



Significant NPCs:


Rolf, possessed human cultist
Duergar craftsmen
Duergar guards



The PCs resumed their quest in the duergar fortress of Narborg, still looking for the Thane of Narborg.  Seépravir had possessed Rolf, a member of the Cult of the Forgotten Word, who had been searching Castle Whiterock for the fabled library of the Order of the Dawning Sun.  Rolf and his colleagues had been searching the Thane's much smaller library for information, when rudely interrupted by the PCs killing all of them but Rolf. 

After realizing that a Bless on Rolf would not affect spellcasting, Seépravir un-Entombed her body, had Elias Bless it, and then re-Entombed it.  Meanwhile, Zaber searched the library and found a few books in Common that the cultists had unshelved: one about pirates, one about dread artefacts, one about battles, and one about illicit guilds.  He started flipping through the pirate book and found it was just an adventure story, but the map in the back had been torn out.

While Zaber was reading, Garreth noticed one of the fungi in the room to the north had gone mobile, and was moving down the hall.  He didn't recognize it, so he threw a sai at it, stapling it to the floor.  Another round of asking Rolf questions ensued, but he didn't know anything about fungus, just the cult's mission.  Zaber went back into the fungus farm to search again, but didn't find anything particularly useful.  Seépravir, looking through Rolf's eyes, also checked out the fungus, but only recognized about half the varieties.

Going back to the library, Polly started pulling on books and shelves, trying to find secret doors.  This failed.  She did find a two-book series in dwarvish about how axes are superior to maces, including lots of pictures.  Giving up on the library, Zaber led the group south, back to the room with the note on the door that had triggered his Danger Sense.  Polly shot the note, which accomplished nothing.  Seépravir cast Wizard Eye, and everyone (eventually) took cover.  The eye flew over, and Seépravir read the note through it.  The note then exploded, destroying the wizard eye, but the explosion wasn't big enough to hurt anyone else.  The glimpse of the Explosive Dwarven Runes that Seépravir had gotten said something like "Stay the female drow out!", an idiom that nobody really recognized.

Zaber picked the lock on the door, revealing a small storeroom with lots of random weird junk on shelves.  Animal parts, monster parts, various powders, etc.  There was another locked door, which Zaber picked, which led to a second storeroom, full of similar oddities.  There was another door, with another note on it.  They repeated the drill with Wizard Eye and hiding around the corner.  This time, the note was in Explosive Elvish Script and said  "Bort, I've told you to stay out of my stuff.  This is your last" and that was as much as Seépravir would read before it exploded and destroyed the eye.

Zaber picked another lock, which led to a third storeroom, with more random weird junk, but some of it valuable-looking this time.  He grabbed 7 colors of powdered gems, and a tiny platinum sword.  There was also a glass jar of what appeared to be green slime.  They discussed using it as a one-time weapon.  Then Seépravir cast Seek Magic to see if there was anything of interest left on this level, and detected some magic about 50 yards to the south-southwest.

The group headed that way.  Zaber found a room with desks and papers, and started reading books of castle records.  They were very boring, but did reveal that all the women and children had been moved to another fortress, a few months ago.  Continuing to explore, they found a couple of storerooms featuring several casks of what turned out to be rye beer.  Then Zaber unlocked another door, and found four duergar staring back at him.

The duergar asked Rolf who the elves were, as they readied their axes.  Not in the mood to make up excuses, Polly said that they were the duergar's imminent deaths, as Seépravir said "prisoners" in Rolf's voice.  These duergar didn't fall for that, especially since the "prisoners" were armed and not tied up, and a fight started.  The duergar all enlarged themselves.  Polly tried putting three arrows in one, but he blocked one, his comrade blocked one, and he dodged the last.  Garreth fast-drew a sai and threw it at the same one, but he dodged.  This caused some fist bumps and a demand for the "surface scum" to surrender.  Garreth laughed, so the duergar in charge said "fine, kill all but the cultist, who we will take to the Thane."

Seépravir Great Hasted herself.  Zaber flew up invisibly and eye-stabbed a duergar, who acquired the One Eye disadvantage, followed immediately by the No Life disadvantage.  The duergar had left a hole in their flank, which Polly flew through, then started shooting arrows at the unshielded side of the surviving duergar.  They managed to dodge the first two, but the third one hit a duergar in the skull and stunned him.  Garreth rapidly struck with his katana, but his attacks were blocked and parried.  Elias unleashed two attacks with his flail, missing once, and clobbering a duergar with the other for enough damage to slow him but not stun him.

At that point Seépravir cast Mass Daze, affecting all three surviving duergar, and the fun was over.  The group decided they didn't need any prisoners, and killed the three defenseless duergar.  There were also a bunch of monster heads on the wall.  A search of the room's furniture found no treasure, just some cobwebs and clothing and a sausage.  Zaber found a secret door, leading to a room containing weapons and armor, none of it magic.  Garreth shoved the bodies into the secret room and closed the door.

They resumed exploring.  Zaber heard a deep voice behind another door.  Everyone formed up for battle, then Zaber opened the door, finding a room with a shallow pool in the center of the floor, and a bunch of niches containing tiny helmets on the walls, some intact, some badly damaged.  Each helmet had a name inscribed on it in dwarven runes, and the voice was reading a list of dwarven-sounding names.

At that point, the group decided to follow a passage east that they hadn't explored yet.  It led to a large room, with some large vats, and stairs down on the far side.  Before they could explore much, a duergar head popped into view at the top of a stairway on the other side of the room.  The duergar immediately ran back down the stairs, yelling.  Polly got one shot off before the duergar left her line of sight, but the duergar blocked it.

Polly decided to give chase at high speed.  Everyone else paused a couple of seconds to check out the room.  One of the vats was atop a fire, and probably contained boiling oil or pitch.  There were several tiny trap doors in the floor.  Zaber opened one, and it turned out to be a murder hole over a cavern below.  That was enough information, and everyone flew after Polly.

Polly flew down the stairs, firing a Cornucopia arrow as she flew to look for No Mana Zones.  The arrow made it all the way to the wall without disappearing.  When Polly reached the bottom of the stairs, she saw four duergar with crossbows, waiting to shoot her.  She tried acrobatically dodging the first bolt, critically failed her Acrobatics roll, but made her dodge anyway, accidentally pulling off the fabled "fall down the stairs dodge" taught by some Drunken Masters.  The second duergar missed her.  The third and fourth shot accurately, but she dodged both bolts.  They yelled something in Dwarvish that Polly didn't understand, while she fired three arrows and killed two duergar.

Polly saw a bunch more duergar to the west, some charging at her, others readying a ballista.  She also saw Garreth appear at the top of the stairs.  Polly looked for targets without shields and found three: the ballista loader and the two surviving duergar who'd just fired crossbows at her.  She fired three arrows, of which one was dodged, one stunned a duergar, and the third knocked a duergar unconscious.  Garreth flew down the stairs while All-Out Dodging and fast-drawing his katana.  Polly noticed a second ballista being wheeled up behind the first.  One of the charging duergar tried a Move and Attack on Polly with his axe, but Garreth, who had just arrived, parried it for her.  Elias and Zaber and Rolf reached the top of the stairs

Polly fired a cutting arrow at a ballista string, but missed it.  She tried again, and hit the string but failed to snap it.  Giving up on that idea, she shot the stunned duergar in the eye, knocking him out.  Garreth used Rapier Wit on the brave duergar who'd charged, stunning him, then hit him twice with his katana, slowing him.

The front ballista launched a huge spear at Polly, with Garreth, Zaber, and Elias lined up behind her.  It was a great tactical achievement for the duergar: 4 chances to kill an invading PC with one mighty shot:

Lining up like this when facing a ballista is Not Recommended Tactics
The shot was on target to hit Polly.  Garreth asked if it looked safe to parry, but the ballista bolt looked heavy enough to break weapons that attempted that.  He held his parry, not wanting to lose his katana, and let Polly dodge for herself.  Polly dodged it.  The ballista spear missed Garreth, but was on target for Zaber, who also dodged it.  It was also right on target for Elias, who considered blocking it, but didn't want to risk his shield, and dodged instead, successfully.  The ballista spear then punched a large hole in the wall behind the PCs.  Meanwhile, the second ballista crew had their weapon set up and was aiming it.

Polly fired at the ballista loader with no shield, but his buddy blocked for him.  She tried again, and managed to knock one of them out.  She then shot another duergar in the skull and knocked him out too.  Garreth went for two neck chops on the wounded and stunned brave little duergar in front of him.  The first one re-stunned him, and the second was fatal.  Rolf yelled advice at Polly: "Look out for the other ballista!"

Just then, the second ballista rolled a critical hit on Polly.  She used Luck to force a reroll, then acrobatically dodged the regular hit.  Zaber silently and invisibly flew up to a duergar and stabbed him in the eye, knocking him out.  Polly quite visibly flew up behind some duergar and shot them in the back of the head, knocking two out.  Elias shield rushed the last duergar still standing, winning the slam contest 10 to 1, knocking him prone and bouncing him off a wall.  Rolf yelled advice: "Maybe save one for questioning."  Garreth made his Bloodlust check, but Polly failed hers, and decided all the duergar needed to die.  Zaber walked up to the duergar that Elias had just knocked down, and stabbed him in the eye.  He failed to parry, and was knocked out.

With the fight over, Polly ran around filling the survivors with arrows.  Nobody tried to stop her, so there was no prisoners to question this time.  We stopped there for the evening, with another duergar guard post defeated.


GM's Comments:


The Possession spell needs so many rulings.  Today's ruling: if you cast Bless on a Possessed person, you only get the Bless bonus on physical rolls (since those go with the body), not on mental rolls (since those follow the mind).  And the converse: if you Bless the spellcaster but not the Possessed body, rolls against the Possessed body's stats and skills don't get the bonus.  If you want to get the bonus for everything, Bless both.  If your god lets you...

Lining up 4 out of 5 PCs with a ballista shot was the high point of the session for me, but of course they all dodged it.  Didn't even make them use Luck or Bless.  The second ballista did slightly better, forcing Polly to burn her Luck.

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