The party split up.
How many DM's love that? It's a great way to identify which characters are powerhouses and which are not. Wizards and archers kick royal ass at a distance, clerics and fighters rule up front, thieves bards and monks do the whole solo adventuring with finesse and panache.
It's when the archetypes find themselves in situations that are outside their comfort zone. Such as recently.
But they got to shoot some blessed bolts of Sutur. And fireballs do wonders. But not everything can be solved with a fireball.
And not every group should be split up either.
Write up follows:
(To identify which split party was doing what, look for the indentation)
Gruglin led the way out of the south end of the chamber, Arnog and Gwyn right behind, then Detheron, his Tiger, Norris, and Zoltan. Staying behind was Olthar, Soren, and Coruth’tae. They watched the dark northern hall while Olthat grabbed a short bow and a 10 count of arrows. Spells were gone over and strings checked.
* The other group turned down corner after corner, weaving away from the 3 elves and hoping to stumble across the entrance soon.
The sound of the charging Troglodytes grew louder, testament that the force had reached the dim corner and were running towards the party. Soren and Olthar began shooting into the hall, arrows flashing into the darkness. Cries of angered troglodytes grew loud.
* The group turned a last corner and ran westward. Norris charged closed to the front to aid Gruglin but there were 3 of the 7’ tall antmen ahead of us in a smooth chamber, ready and each armed with a pair of bows. They fired. Arrows hit the party and Norris and Gruglin were lightly wounded. The scrag grew wroth and charged ahead furious while the bard twanged out an angry version of Fear – startling one of the antmen.
The Trogs were closer now, just getting to the visible light when Soren nocked a Blessed bolt of Sutur and the rising crescendo of sulfurous winds and strange ash billowed about him and then was launched down the hall like a stream of fire from the fire lord himself. It decimated the Troglodytes, slaying over 20 of them instantly. Only a 4 count survived the inferno. But there were still more – and an angry female leonine voice.
* Gruglin tore one of the antmen’s arms off. Arnog ran forward to aid, Norris drew closer and whipped one of them about the arm, holding him in place. And then Gwyn threw his hydra spear and blasted one of the remaining antmen to death. With a final frenzy the last one was taken down and the group made to run onward.
Coruth’tae drew out his fireball scroll and got ready to read it as more trogs entered the northern hall and charged closer. The leonine voice was also chanting a spell and the grey elf knew it was Lightning bolt. It was a race to see who would complete the enchantment first but the female did a split instant earlier and a shaft of electric energy slammed Coruth’tae backwards into the wall, burned the mage, and then slammed back through him again – killing him. Soren and Olthar grabbed the mage and dragged him just out of the room as the female roared for the Trogs to charge.
* We ran southward and the corridor split into 3 – the group opting to run straight ahead as it seemed the ground sloped upwards. They heard the tell-tale sounds of the Blessed Bolt as it had gone off and weren’t hoping to stick around. A quick look left and right showed short corridors and then some chambers in each, but they didn’t want to stop and look. Onward!
A hastily applied potion to Coruth’tae had the grey elf back in the positive hit points and then the two wood elves lifted him up under his arm pits and ran as best they could, knowing that the pursuing trogs were seemingly faster.
* We ran harder up the slope until we came at long last to a ceiling door, and beyond it was the gleam of light and the sound of gnomes! Gruglin banged on the door but it didn’t open and Norris shouted in gnomish to open up and let us out! The gnomes above began unlatching and unchaining the portal.
The three elves ran past 3 turns and then into a chamber with a dead antman in it – but from the echo the Trogs and their leonine sounding leader had reached the room they were standing in a short while ago and running onward – less than 50’ away!
* The portal opened and the group staggered out. A 15 count of armored and armed gnomes were here in some large fenced enclosure bordering the underground sea. On seeing Gruglin they made to dispatch the scrag but Gwyn and Norris shouted to stop and that they were friends. The gnomes decided quickly and after a short back and forth, they could hear the trogs down the deep hole below and behind.
A bow was snatched off the ground and the leonine female, a 9’ tall centaur like creature with a lion’s body and upper torso and head of a woman, shot off a three count of magic missiles that scored the three elves deep and hard. Tired and weak, Coruth’tae used one of his precious charges from the Staff of Power and hurled a fireball BACK at the trogs and leonine female – past them, and into the hall behind in an effort to displace the concussive blast and NOT hurt the group. The fireball expanded, raced over the multitude of enemies, and then ran a the elves who tried to outrun the fire – and failed, getting burned for their efforts. Including setting the grey elf on fire and killing Coruth’tae again.
* The gnomes in military aplomb grabbed heavy crossbows and handfuls of bolts with larger heads that they filled with oil. Then they got in position in front of the opening and pointed down – 1 row of four firing prone, 1 row of 4 firing kneeling, and 1 row of 4 firing standing. Two gnomes stood to either side of the opening concentrating and fingers spread as if casting a spell. Gwyn asked and once given the go ahead, snagged a crossbow himself and joined the gnomes. Zoltan lit a sling stone with a light spell and hurled it down the long hall sloping into the floor as a lure for the still fleeing companions down there.
The three elves sobbing and exhausted, all of them suffering from painful wounds, shone the healing rod on Coruth’tae, bringing him AGAIN to the north side of 0 hp, and then staggered together and ran onward. At the 3 way split, they ran north towards the light stone. The trogs and the leonine pursuer rejoined the chase, fury and snarling evident in their cries.
They turned the corner and ran, the trogs now only 40’ behind and closing. Breath whistled out of their lungs and their legs ached. The gap of light with gnomes crowding around was close but the trogs were getting closer – 35’, 30’, 25’.
The three elves hit the surface and were whisked to the side. And instant later the two gnomes on the sides of the cavern opening enacted their burning hands spell and sheets of fire consumed the air before them. The 12 gnome crossbow wielders and Gwyn shot their oil filled bolts through the fire wall, down the sloping corridor, and into the pursuing horde.
The heavy bolts knocked most of the enemy down, including the leonine wizardress. Everyone hit was also splattered with oil and a rolling wave of fire stopped the trog pursuers in their tracks. The gnomes were winching back their crossbows for a 2nd volley, mechanically loading the next round of bolts. Some of the party also shot their own arrows and sling stones down the slope. Another round of 13 crossbow bolts hit the trogs and leonine female – reversing the charge as they tried to flee and slaying the centaur creature. The gnomes then shut the portal, rebarred it and locked it tight.
We exchanged greetings, explained who Gruglin was, asked for succor and rest (granted 2 days), and were told that King Yikzarch had spoken well of us and that the gnomes expected to find us 3 days ago on ship. We caught them up to what had happened as we healed our hurts and eventually learned of what was next before us.
The way out is across the fields through some cavern in what the gnomes called the Iron Crags. It’s about 1-2 miles away. Some large lizards live there (hence the palisade around the gnomish encampment) and the gnomes have a way to get us across swiftly, but it often attracts a large 50’ tall bull lizard that takes the gnomish conveyance as a challenge to its territory. There are also some flying lizards but they shouldn’t be a problem. Not taking the conveyance would not attract the big lizard but it COULD attract it – and there are plenty of smaller vicious ones that make travel a bit of a pain. The gnomes don’t have any powerful mages (equivalent of 1st or 2nd level max) in their town so haven’t been able to deal with the bull lizard any better than lots of crossbow bolts and moving fast.
Beyond here it’s about a week travel to a series of three caves that a dragon used to live in but was slain some 50 years or so ago, caving in part of some town (the group identified this as Dragonhole, a city in the Barony of Dilabria just north of the group’s home). However, there were two offspring dragons that have survived down here during that time and although are too big to get out of the caves to the surface anymore and too weak to claw their way free – they do measure some 30’-40’ long not counting another 30’ of tail. The gnomes would bring us near the dragons but getting past the beasts would be our problem.
After we had healed up and rested, we opted to take the gnomes up on their offer to train us and the next two weeks were spent honing our skills, pouring over what tomes they had, and learning from their own people and what skilled people they could bring to us.