Sometimes a character will inadvertently become the target of a particular aspect/creature/ or situation in your adventures. Over the many years I've had at least 2 people become infatuated with squirrels (one of them becoming an advocate of the furry tailed beasts and another doing all he could to kill one - even if it meant falling off a mountain to slaughter one of them), I had another character fail every check against haunts no matter what, I even had one character try to lift and toss every cabinet he could find.
This current group has our hapless paladin Damian become the hated target of just about every invertebrate we've run across. Rot grubs, leeches, scraglings, giant slugs, and now carrion crawlers - if it oozes along in order to locomote itself and most likely exudes some sort of slimy residue - it's gone after our paladin. It's uncanny but the poor lad is just target numero uno.
Another thing I liked about this session is the fact that the group skipped past some 10 encounter areas that would have ground them down. A dozen or less scrags, a pair of alligators, a devious pit trap, three armed and armored ogre fighters, an ettin, and a sea hag. And they did it by taking the time to talk to the denizens instead of plying them with sword and spell. Good for them.
Of course that doesn't ALWAYS work, but in this case - they skipped along and did so with most of their skin and gear intact.
Write up follows:
Zoltan stayed back with the gigantic female troll, Coruth’tae stayed within yelling distance, and the rest of the group went back into the cavern to the roper and proceeded to chop it up into manageable 30 lb pieces, tossing them to Olthar and Soren who ferried them back and forth to the scragling pool. It was difficult work, taking the majority of 2 hours until completion.
Afterwards we spoke to the trolless and learned of what was in the area. There was a large cave with two other ways out of here: one to the North east led in a winding pattern through a nest of scrags. There were between 10 and 20 of them in 6 sizeable chambers and they bent knee to a witch hag named Lyggvilda. The trolless had little respect for the scrags and thought that if the party dispatched some of them it wouldn’t trouble her. The entire cave complex ended at single cave with a secret way that could be used to get into Lyggvilda’s hidden cave and eventually the back of her keep.
The other way was to travel southeast to Lyggvilda’s Keep itself. In the back of the keep was a corridor that would lead the party into a long corridor that sloped upward and eventually out of the scrag area. But Lyggvilda was identified as a witch and had some guards: some 10’ tall shaggy figured and an even taller one with two heads.
We thanked the trolless who went back to her own cave and the group discussed options going back and forth on what we could expect. Going to the scrags would allow us to approach the keep by surprise and get the drop on them – but there were a lot of scrags, and we learned that some of the caves had water in them. But a frontal assault on the keep was an option and we wouldn’t have our resources drained by constant scrag fighting. Besides, we should at least see the keep and make our decisions then.
The keep was set into the side of the cavern itself, the walls some 30’ tall and 30’ wide, at least 50’ long. A moat surrounded the keep, less than 10’ from the wall and about 10’ wide, filled with oily greenish water. A chimney was along the furthest wall, glowing softly and smoking faintly. The drawbridge was up. We discussed possibly opening it. Jumping across. Using a knock spell. Fighting in the keep. Fighting out of the keep. Going into the chimney.
Eventually it was Zoltan who suggested that maybe we DIDN’T have to fight. Why not call out to the inhabitants and see if we could buy our way through? Did we really WANT to fight some hag witch? We parleyed with an inhabitant and told him we wanted passage to the corridor beyond. Were we willing to pay? Sure we were!
The bridge lowered and an armored ogre with a double bitted axe stepped out and said passage was going to be 500 crowns. Hmm, we could afford it. Gwyn was talking to the ogre (as the only one who spoke ogrish) and taking Zoltan’s “ogre sex statue” went to show it to the guard. He said it was nice, but wasn’t worth enough. Zoltan added the bag of platinum coins he had snagged from the Roper’s gut and the ogres were pleased to let us pass.
The keep’s interior held another ogre as well as an ettin and in the bag was a shrouded and frightening appearing hag. Only her eyes were visible in the dark cowl and she wished us well as we opted not to stay and chat, moving on to the corridor as mentioned (and not the other doors that led further into the keep), only some passing shots as she recognized Damian as a paladin and we were through.
The corridor wandered loosely in a curving pattern from SE to S to SW to W, eventually rising a few degrees as we walked. We had been warned that there was a giant slug in the area and we watched carefully for sign, Soren and Olthar finding it after a half hour of travel. Detheron called to Frey to help him find animals, specifically slugs! And there, some 200 feet away was one.
We got ourselves ready, learning from our people that they could be large, 20’ or more, and they spit acid. Nice. Not knowing how far they were when it was to happen, Detheron was keeping tabs on the slug, it closed to 60’ from him and he tried to dominate it. He failed and the gastropod spit at 60’ away a globule of acid at Detheron – hitting him dead on. His enchanted armor hissed, his clothes shredded, he took some burns, and his staff of webs that he was holding shuddered and snapped, sending 6 web spells immediately into the area around the druid. Damian jumped forward but the webs caught Detheron, Soren and Zoltan cold. And it also blocked off the rest of the party.
From the slug and Damian.
Damian went to pull Detheron out but the webs were tough and the rest of the party tried to help Zoltan and Soren. Coruth’tae shot a Hail Mary lightning bolt down the hall and it scored against the giant slug before returning back to us and then ending before striking the party. The slug spit at Damian, hitting his in the back and melting his backpack and dropping some of his belongings. Damn it, including his potions.
Furious now he drew his sledge hammer and charged the slug bashing into it with all his fury and anger again and again. But none of his blows did anything permanent to the slug and the party was shouting at him to use slashing weapons! Detheron pulled himself forward a bit but was pulled up short after only a few feet. We hacked out Zoltan and eventually Soren while the slug bit and dribbled acid on the paladin. As the druid finally pulled himself out and yelled “Clear!” Gwyn set fire to the webs and we backed away as the fire ate the strands with terrible ease.
After that the group went to charge at the slug but Detheron tried to dominate the huge gastropod again – succeeding this time! He was controlling the slug and could feel what it was feeling – including Damian hitting it! The battle was put on hold and we snuck past the slug as Detheron had it run against the left wall and we moved on into the darkness putting the slug behind us until the spell was over.
After some time we came to an area where the walls took on a finished look. 20’ wide with feeble torches set in the walls every 8 paces. There were niches on both sides with bases and bottoms of old statues there. The group stopped to rest while Damian and Olthar went to check one of them out. There were old cracks running behind them almost a foot wide and some 3’ tall. Taking the lantern the paladin bent down to check one out and the wood elf with him heard a slapping sound.
Then 3 others.
Damian wasn’t moving and Olthar was asking him what was up. He tried to pull him away from the hole and in doing so revealed a carrion crawler had hit the paladin and paralyzed him. Damn. Another was coming out and one was inching forward from the other side. Soren shot the closest one and even Coruth’tae did while Gwyn and Arnog pulled the paladin back to “safer” part of the corridor. Detheron began using his herbal lore to come up with an anti-toxin to the effect but it would take 10 minutes. Olthar was also saved although the thief was only hit lightly by the tentacles. Detheron had his tiger tear the wounded crawler to bits and then the group dragged the carcass back until we were out of the view and range of any potential crawlers.
Damian was able to move at long last and decided that after rot grubs, leeches, scrags, slugs, and now carrion crawlers that he was very skittish about any sort of mucus worm/slug creatures from now on. The druid went to work on the crawler and extracted 5 doses of the paralytic toxin from the gland in its body which both Soren and Olthar took.
We guessed that we needed to run across the hall as the crawlers didn’t come out quickly or in force. So we did so, moving single file. We counted the niches, five of them, eventually ending at a double set of doors. Behind us a pair of crawlers had come out of the 1st niches and Zoltan started winging sling bullets at them, hitting them and scaring them back into the holes. But more kept coming and the group had to decide now what to do. We opened the door and beheld a 20’x20’ room with two other double doors, one with a large brass relief on it with two shaft slots at 10 and 2, the other set of doors showing lots of tracks and filth as if heavy use. We piled in and shut the door behind us on the crawlers and took stock of the situation.
The closed and locked door had shown no traffic while the other showed what seemed to be a multitude of tracks, some of them canine-like. As for the brass relief, the slots were flattened oval shaped. Zoltan nodded and took out the mirrored short swords, sliding them into each hole where they each gave what seemed to be a blast of light. And then the door gave a sigh and was openable.
The hall beyond was wide with a 30’ vaulted ceiling. Deep niches with 20’ tall wind-blown looking giant statues lined both sides of the hall as far as out lantern revealed. There was the scent of rotted meat in there. Damian tried to detect evil and got a number of vibes from the chamber. The group wanted the door closed and Damian wanted to go in and clear it. There was a bit of a stand off and it seemed that some of the party didn’t understand Damian’s conviction and how important this was for the young paladin but he was placated (for now) with the knowledge that were going to look down the other corridor 1st and get a feel for what was in that way.
A short look showed a corridor with two side branches, soot and cracks ran along the walls in places as if some sort of fire or magic took place in here. We shut the door and after some discussing had Coruth’tae use his illusion to make it seem like a number of “people” were on the other side whistling. It attracted some sort of barking canines as well as something else and there was suddenly a melee going on the other side of the door. It was loud and filled with barks and blasts of flame and odd croaking and we chanced to look down the hall to see half a dozen hell hounds fighting what seemed to be almost a dozen pale bluish 10’ frogs dribbling ice and frost.
We shut the door and talked about our options while the fight on the other side wound down.