This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Meet 100, Adv 9, 5/15/10

This was it - the big meeting. I knew there was going to be a dragon in it, but how/what/whee was going to depend on the party and how they all got it to work.

DMing a dragon is difficult because (I like the 2nd edition versions of them) honestly, if you misjudge the party's ability it will result in a TPK. AC's well over 20, breath weapon capable of taking out every henchman/hireling, even a frontal assault is three hits and attacks on all sides include leg kicks, tail sweeps, and wing buffets so conceivably a grounded dragon will get Bit/claw/claw/wing/wing/kick/kick/tail - with the wing's hitting up to 2 flankers and the tails sweeping up to 3 back attackers. And then there is the fear aura, the breath weapon, and the magic use.

Sometimes a good idea is to sting the beast and run for your lives - which I sort of expected the party to do (There was a memorable scene where the lone fighter was hacking at the dragon's legs and the party's priest is holding up his meager belt pouch of 10 crowns and begging for the dragon to not judge the rest of the party on the action of the fighter) - but they didn't. They stayed and had a great plan and hacked the beast and to my chagrin - killed it (but not before I had taken out one PC, and 2 NPC's in the process).

At the end of the meet the party had a chance to run into the BBB (big bad boss), Vanir - who was in an "unattackable" position and the group had to sit there and put up with his presence.

Overall, a great meeting.

Write up follows:

We piled what tables we could drag in front of the temple doors, eventually also dragging the cart in place, Arnog and Haydin twisting it around so it was pressed against both portals. Norris had helped Soren to his feet, guiding the ranger back to the courtyard, a potion of extra healing going a long way to getting most of his wounds set and somewhat healed. Coruth’tae called forth a shield spell on himself. Brother Beren went into the 1st guard house and with Nelia and Kazak’s help, began trying to raise the first portcullis.

The first of the lizardmen began trying to bash the door down, but the two upended tables and the cart were preventing them from achieving it. They shoved and hissed and bashed, but to no avail. Then we heard rhythmic chanting from within and the tingle of magic filling the air. Norris whistled up a charm and cast silence on a coin, tossing it to Arnog to throw through the door. The fighter climbed onto the cart and tried to time a toss within, getting the silence coin inside the corridor. The bashing stopped and he clambered off, bracing his back along with Haydin’s on the cart. Meanwhile Beren, Nelia, and Kazak had raised the portcullis and were running over to the other guard post, working on getting that one raised next.

At that moment there was the twang of crossbow fire and Coruth’tae shouted in pain and fell to the ground, his back pierced from above. We looked and saw the same lizardman sentry that had pegged us before had crossed the top of the complex and was now taking pot shots at the party from above. Soren took aim and fired back and the lizardman hissed in aggravation and slid back from the wall.

It was at that moment that the doors to the temple area shuddered and shook and Arnog and Haydin glanced at one another. Then there was a cacophonous booming sound and the doors exploded outward, cracking one of the tables and the other one acting like a lever to hurl the cart and Haydin aside like a rag doll. Arnog picked himself up and beheld perhaps the most powerful and muscle bound lizardman ever seen before. Holding a marble stand to a statue like a battering ram, it hurled the massive stone at the fighter and caused him to rock back, nursing his shield arm and blinking in surprise at the new foe’s power. Arrayed behind were a 5 count of lizardmen, two with spears, and three wielding swords.

Coruth’tae, nursing his own pain, grit his teeth and sounded off a fear spell rocketing it down the corridor, turning two of the lizardmen away – one of them the muscled one! Arnog ran into the breach and hacked and slashed at the remaining sword wielder. Haydin climbed to his feet and shook off his pain. Soren fired arrows with the lizardmen up top who was forced to duck to avoid taking further damage. The first of the three sword using lizardmen recited a spell and Arnog was suddenly held in place. Another one called forth a spiritual hammer and let fly at Gwyn while a third cast a blindness spell at Coruth’tae. Norris sang a spell and in a flash of smoke and fire summoned – a kobold. He directed the ankle biter to charge into the breach and assaulted the first one attacking Arnog.

The fighters advanced while Brother Beren tried to dispel the magic surrounding Arnog – failing to do so. Nelia stayed hidden in the guard house, poisoning a javelin and waiting for the right time. Kazak ran out to help Brother Beren, the half orc taking his job seriously. Coruth’tae struggled to his feet and Norris was going to run to help Haydin and Gwyn against the four lizardmen when he felt a breath of “something” at his back. His initial thought was “Basilisk!!” and he slammed the door to the complex and cloister closed just as something tried to step through. A crowbar jammed under the frame in an attempt to block it. Soren watched the sentry lizardmen above work his way further toward the front, the odd arrow forcing it to stay low. His quiver was getting empty. Coruth’tae passed him a handful of arrows from his own quiver and went to see what Norris was talking about. The sentry lizardman had reached his goal and blew a horn up there – alerting any and all in the area of our presence. Damn it! We were running out of time.

When the door behind him opened and there stood…Zoltan. What the?!?! Zoltan smiled at Norris, winked, and then throw a vial at the bard. The crystal shattered on his skin and he was afflicted with painful blisters as the potion of Elvenbane sluiced across his body. Racking in pain, he shouted out his fury and ran in. Zoltan then hit him with a vial of acid, which the bard was able to wipe partially on the wall as he grappled with the gypsy. The two of them went back and forth, arms wrapped about one another, trying to beat each other to death. To Coruth’tae’s eyes though it looked like Norris was fighting himself. NO – it wasn’t an illusion – doppelganger!!

Between Gwyn and Haydin (and the kobold!!), they had taken down one of the priests and the last spear wielding lizardman, but the last two priests were trading damage with the group as well as healing spells with one another. Brother Beren was attempting to get closer to help when the two priests each clapped their hands together and a wave of black energy flew up – and SIX of the formerly dead lizardmen shuddered, rolled over, and rose up as zombies! Kazak was pulled down and lizardmen strength beat the half orc to unconsciousness. Two more wandered into the guard post and assaulted Nelia, the 16 year old thief shouting and gurgling, unable to drive the undead beasts away. They turned to assault Soren next who had taken careful aim and shot the lizardman sentry on the wall in the head at long last!

Brother Beren shouted out to Tyr and his power burst against the zombies – dropping four of them to shadows and dust. Arnog was still held. Coruth’tae went into the hall but Norris and his double were unidentifiable as different. Finally Norris pulled his head back and head butted the double – and since he was helmed and the doppelganger wasn’t – it was metal on flesh and the shape shifter was stunned. Hand axes came out and he chopped them hard into the running flesh and form of his double. Coruth’tae checked Norris to be Norris (with a dagger hilt to the head to verify it was really a helm and therefore really Norris) and then went back out to offer what aid he could.

The fight was running away from the lizardmen and the call on the horn to aid still hadn’t materialized yet. One of the remaining spell casters hissed out some words and summoned a monster – causing a gelatinous cube to appear! The translucent horror burst into being around Gwyn, Haydin and the doughty kobold – the paralytic ooze making the latter two freeze up and cease moving. Our dwarven fighter grit his teeth under the pressure and acidic slime, hacked his way forward with his scimitar, and tore his way OUT of the gelatinous cube, pouring his anger and fury on the priests.

The fear spell that had affected the two other lizardmen was beginning to wane and it was at that moment that Arnog was showing signs of breaking the holding enchantment on himself. And then there was the crashing of trees and splintering of woods and the prodigious bulk of a green scaled, 72’ foot long drooling angry dragon landed at the gate of the complex. The great beast curled its front claws over the top of the barbican, its serpentine neck pushed its head low as it shouted out, “I’ve been called!! Who are you and why do you assault the lizard men?!?!”

Most of the group sidled towards the side door out of the courtyard and towards the cloister – not wanting to chance running through the portcullises and under the dragon itself. It began to inhale deeply when Coruth’tae came forward and tried to speak with the tremendous beast. There was some talk of humility and an attempt to kiss up to the dragon. It contemplated the words and then offered the party the chance to live and leave if they would, “Give up all their treasure, every coin, every gem, now!!”


And then Arnog had control of his limbs, spun towards the dragon, shouted out a valorous cry, and threw his armor class to the wind to hack at the mighty beast’s lower legs. His sword struck scales and bounced off. He hacked and slashed and tore and twisted but the dragon’s hide was too thick. Brother Beren tried to offer the dragon the 10 crowns he had, begging for forgiveness, but the lizard was furious and assaulted Arnog, battering the fighter about and his mighty teeth and jaws ripping through his platemail and crushing his muscled body within.

Gwyn heard the two lizardmen coming back from down the long hall, the fear spell gone. The gelatinous cube was right behind him, but it was a summoned creature. So he redoubled his efforts and between his hydraspear and “Elfsplitter” he was able to take down the last lizardman and the cube disappeared with a “pop!”

The dragon was wroth and angry and Gwyn and Soren quickly traded some gear and then the ranger took aim and timing the beast’s inhale for a use of its breath weapon let fly our potion of Feign Death. Perfect shot. The potion bottle whistled against the dragon’s teeth, burst open, and broken glass and eldritch potion shot into the dragon’s mouth and down its throat.

And then it passed out.

According to Coruth’tae, the dragon would most likely wake up in about a minute – but that gave us ONE solid minute to flee…or attack. And attack we did!

Arnog hit the dragon twice, then his ring of rapidity flared to life and he hit the dragon TWICE more! Arrows were shot and swords were slung. The crackling burning flare of a lightning bolt arced from the grey elf’s Staff of Power – the final charge now used, and tore across the dragon’s supine form. Brother Beren withdrew his scroll of Mass Cure Moderate Wounds and standing as close as he could with the party cured most of the wounds on everyone – even surprising us all by waking up Kazak (who was bleeding to death and unconscious – but not dead!) from under the dead lizardmen.

The two lizardmen had finally run back down the hall – but on seeing almost everyone dead, and the one that had been very strong was now normal as the 3 strength spells it was ensorcelled under had worn off, they decided that attacking the party was a bad idea and ran off again back the way they came. Gwyn grabbed the paralyzed Haydin and hoisted him on his shoulders.

The dragon stirred and it threw off the effects of the involuntary potion with a roar. We struck at it hard and fast, Arnog using the last effect of his ring of rapidity again – hitting the dragon another 4 times. It pummeled the fighter with its claws and smacked the group about a bit, but its eyes fastened on Coruth’tae and his lightning wielding power and it’s head snapped down and it BIT the grey elf! Half of the illusionist went into the dragon’s mouth, his legs kicking. Then it threw its head up and snapped its jaws forward and swallowed Coruth’tae, crunching down and killing our mage and friend with bone splintering finality.

And in doing so it ground the Staff of Power in its mouth to wood pulp and released a single retributive strike.

Blowing its head apart in a 25’ ball of white hot burning fire.

The group was stunned. Coruth’tae was killed, gone – but had somehow also killed the dragon in his final moments. We had only minutes (maybe less) before the horde of remaining lizardmen arrived from the alarm call (as well as the dragon’s roaring and the party’s fight with it). We scooped up the odd claw and tooth to prove what we had done, grabbed Nelia’s body to bring back to Rigil Blackshadow, bid our bowed heads and farewell to Coruth’tae, and then ran out of the complex and into the swamp perhaps three minutes (barely) ahead of anyone coming to investigate the call.

We ran on beyond endurance through the cloying swamp and eventually the borders until we came at long last to Eider. The guards let us in and we made our way to Baronet Wodenlach’s manor to clear up the last of the bounty and inform the nobleman of what had happened.

It was on arrival when we came, filthy, saddened, tired, hungry, worn out, and was presented before Baronet Wodenlach in his study, that we saw that he had a guest. A man in his 40’s, brown hair long and going to grey in places, handsome and keen eyed, and smiling. And the Baronet looked at us and clapped his hand on the stranger’s shoulder and welcomed us back and introduced us to his new friend and visitor, Vanir.


It took GREAT restraint on both Gwyn and Soren to not draw weapons and attack the slaver-mage. Wodenlach seemed odd and off, taking most of Vanir’s suggestions to heart and not exactly being himself. It was Vanir’s interest in Coruth’tae and his whereabouts that most interested the mage who grew cross at learning the grey elf was not here and had died in the swamp. The group was then dismissed and we went into the hall to talk.

There was much talk about rushing in and taking the mage out now, but the Baronet was our friend and there were 6 of his guards in there. And it was thought to be stupid – there would be a time and a place. And what if Wodenlach WAS under a spell? Would we have to strike him as well? Norris suggested we go see Blackshadow, inform the thief master of what had happened, return Nelia’s body, and tell him of our concern over treachery concerning Vanir.

The half-elf took Soren, Haydin, and Gwyn with him, while Brother Beren, Kazak, and Arnog went to the Sunken Boardwalk to relax and wait. The row boat ride across was short and Norris was able to bring his two friends with him. Haydin spoke of his time and accorded himself well and there was some lamenting over Nelia’s passing. Blackshadow reminded us that we were going after lizardman bounty – not dragon slaying – Damn it, Nelia’s a 16 year old girl! We apologized and told him of how things had not gone the way we expected and he seemed to accept it.

Norris then spoke of Vanir and Wodenlach’s strange behavior. Possibly a charm. Rigil doubted it, as Wodenlach was pretty strong willed normally PLUS he had a amulet to prevent such charms on him (the group could not remember seeing it). Could be a potion or maybe some sort of poison. He didn’t want the group ANYWHERE near Wodenlach or Vanir and suggested that Norris go back and get his three friends and bring them here as his guests for a single night.

Norris went and on finding his companions he brought them back via the same rowboat when the man’s eyes glazed over and he suddenly lifted his oar and went to strike the group. Arnog caught the flailing oar with one arm, brained the boatman hard across the temple, and tossed his unconscious form overboard and into the bay. Brother Beren was horrified and wanted to know WHY and Arnog explained that there was no excuse. If it was a spell it wasn’t going to end just then, and if it was a hired killer, he deserved to go swimming with the fishes. It was then that Brother Beren began to suspect that our young fighter was not either Lawful or Good. Chuckle.

We made it to the island (with less skill but we made it there) and Rigil welcomed us all. He offered us rooms to sleep in and told us that he had dispatched two of his best to spy on Wodenlach and Vanir and would learn a bit more of what’s going on. We were safe from prying eyes as no scrying could get through the wards on the island so we could sleep without worry (in a keep filled with thieves, assassins, thief-mages, sellswords, bounty hunters, and poisoners – hahahah) and decide what our next step would be in the morning.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Meet 99, Adv 9, 5/1/10

I like small encounters as a DM - short combats, one shot traps, the odd riddle, brief explorations - they keep the game going and moving forward.

However, every so often, it's nice to pull out a "set piece" and let the complexities and d20's fly. I never had it planned that the party would go toe to toe with the Lizardmen guarding the front gate - a main assault would result in a TPK unless the d20's were in the group's favor. But my assumption was always from the outside coming in - allowing the Lizardmen to be prepared and ready for the group. Tactics worked out, covering missile fire, spell use - the works.

The situation was turned on its head for this meeting as the party was able to sneak up on the Lizardmen and do the likewise back to them - they had at one point 7 preparatory spells in place (not counting just about everyone invisible), covering fire, and a really good plan of action. So what was expected to be a brick wall that the group would bash head against and then retreat was almost a rout for the Lizardmen as the party took them to task.

Which sets up VERY nicely my plan for the 100th meeting - not exactly where I expected it to be but easy enough for me to adjust the plans - and it works out better for everyone.

Write up follows:

We left the room filled with gore, blood, and dead slavers, and followed Kazak Goretusk – the half-orcish ex-slaver who was now working with us, out into the hall, down a hall with some old symbols and motifs to Sif, and to the quietest and most ruined portion of the complex – the former dormitory.

According to Kazak, this room, although is poor repair and suffering from weak walls and ceiling along the northern wall, was where the Goretusk clan had rested and slept when not on duty or needed by the Greenscales. It was in poor condition but dry. Brother Beren called on Tyr to help establish a camp and a horde of strange winds and powers swept the area, set up blankets, started a fire, set our own packs down and readied bedrolls, and even prepared a simple stew from some food stuff that Norris had with him.

We then had Kazak draw us out the complex and learned of what was around. South of the slaver room was the cloister which then led to the cloister garden – open to the sky and home to somewhere between 2 and 8 harpies. They were foul and cruel, and their singing enchanted many who wandered in there who awoke 3 days later scratched, sore, and suffering from various crab lices and painful groinal aches and diseases. Past the harpies was a longer hall that joined the cloister to the main courtyard and temple proper – occasionally a single lizardman guard would roam those halls.

As for the courtyard, we could count on besides the open air, 4-12 lizardmen, two smaller guard rooms often manned by one or two or the scaled humanoids, and to the south a set of doors leading to the temples and the north open if sometimes barred by portcullises and eventually the swamp. To date we had not tackled anything more than 6 lizardmen at a single time, and that was not a foregone conclusion for our successes. This would be a pitched fight and we would need to be prepared beforehand.

During the dinner and night we discussed many plans and the entire group was lively in the working of the options. It was decided on a few objectives.
1) Remove the harpies from the area.
2) Split the party into two units – with distance fighters situated up top and firing into the courtyard.
3) Attack the courtyard hard and fast.

Brother Beren hit Coruth’tae with a Nap spell, giving the grey elf an hour of sleep but making it feel like 8. After that our illusionist spent the rest of the night on watch and studying multiple Invisibility spells, hitting the party members one at a time until everyone was invisible. At some point he heard some noises through the south wall, scrabbling and bodies moving, but he stayed silent and the noises (from the room with the dead slavers) fell quiet after half an hour.

We awoke disoriented but well rested (and invisible!) and we broke our fast, studied our spells, readied our weapons and clad our armor. We went over the plan again, tweaking it in a few places until everyone knew their place. And then we set off.

Soren led us back into the hall, past the slaver chamber, and to the cloister. Narrow windows showed through to the garden, many flowers and plants and some half dozen stout trees reaching upward. Norris readied a silence spell on a single arrow which Soren kept in his belt and then the ranger opened the door and took careful aim at a single harpy. He shot – she fell from the tree and dropped to the ground and arrow sticking from her. The other harpies took flight, calling to their sister but we could not hear them! Their charms were not working. One of them tried hurling her own feces at us and Soren concentrated his next three shots on her, plugging her in the breast, thigh, and ass.

As for the other party members, they began walking across the garden, checking out the other door and the hall beyond, Gwyn taking the chance and happy to note that no lizardman was there waiting. Soren finished off the dying harpy and Coruth’tae, using Norris’ boots, levitated to the top of the wall 30’ up on the west side, trailing a grapple and rope, and set it there. He removed the boots and dropped them down, Norris putting them back on, while Nelia and Soren went to the top of the wall and looked around.

The space between the courtyard and the cloister garden was 15’ wide and they crawled n their belly over and looked down. The courtyard was sizeable, 40’ square, two guard posts along the north wall. The inner portcullis was up, the outer one was down. A few tables were here as well as a large cart but no draft animals. The group counted about 10 lizardmen visible. The doors to the temple were closed.

Also – on the far end of the complex, 180’ or so to the north west, also on the top wall like the 3 part members, was a lone lizardman sentry with a crossbow, and on the southwest corner was another one situated the same. They were looking out at the swamp and not paying attention to the party or anywhere else. Soren checked the silence arrow and knew it was only going to last 10 minutes tops.

We got ourselves into position: Haydin, Arnog, Gwyn, Norris, Brother Beren, and then Kazak. Blesses were cast, Strength was enchanted, Prayer to Tyr was enacted. Norris whispered a Message spell telling Soren above that it was time. The ranger took aim, noting which lizardmen had crossbows, which lizardmen had crests (and were presumably stronger) and called his shot at one of the three crossbow wielding humanoid – right in the weapon! Great shot – he split the firing trough and ruined the weapon! Nelia hurled her poisoned javelins and Coruth’tae scorched the courtyard with a bolt of lightning, dropping two of the lizardmen.

Haydin burst out the door and at the range of 7’ hurled a poisoned throwing axe at one of the lizardmen’s chest and knocked the foe back. Arnog tore across the still electrified ground and hacked wildly at one of the enemy, cleaving it almost in half and causing them to scream in terror. Gwyn stepped around the corner and fired his heavy crossbow at another of the missile wielding foes, knocking the lizardman down from the impact of the 250lb pull gnomish made weapon. Norris’ sword led the way as the bard took to the fight, calling on his own magic and summoning a zombie to help attack the panicking throng. Brother Beren drew closer, making sure his own conduit to Tyr was still close enough to encompass everyone, Kazak standing at the priest’s side.

Arrows fell like rain into the fight and 4 of the lizardmen were down, two more badly wounded. The inner portcullises dropped and we laughed because now the foes were trapped in the courtyard with us! Swords rose and fell and more poison was plied. The crackle of spells filled the air and the screams of the lizardmen spurred the party on to even greater efforts. Norris skewered an enemy on his long blade. Haydin wrestled bodily with one of the scaled beasts. Even Kazak plied blade at those reeling from the efforts of Gwyn, Arnog, and Haydin; the half orc acting as “cleanup” for those hurt but not dead.

One of the lizardmen saw what was coming and ran for the temple, ripping the door open amidst clattering arrows, and got inside yelling in his own sibilant language. Fuck – company would be coming. From the guardhouse other lizardmen emerged and tried to turn the tide of the fight but it was already too far gone against them. Gwyn’s scimitar cut deep and often, Haydin and Norris tore their swords against any foe foolish enough to remain standing. Arnog was shot not once, but twice from a closed guard booth, making the already terrifying fighter truly angry.

He lowered his shoulder and charged the guard post, trampling the last lizardman in front of him, his ensorcelled blade tearing the howling monster from thigh to chest. His shield upraised he slammed into the heavy door and the timber lock broke free and then the furious Arnog was in the small chamber with his anger, his weapon, and the foolish lizardman that had shot him twice.

The silence spell had ended at this point and the other enchantments around the party were beginning to wear out as well. A few lizardmen still stood and we massed upon them in an effort to end the struggle immediately. Up top, the three party members drew the attention of one of the lizardmen sentries who took up his crossbow and loaded a deliberate bolt into it. Soren tried to shoot the lizardman but it was a long shot and the enemy fired. And just before the streaking quarrel hit the party it sparked to fire, runes peeled down its shaft, and it hit Soren, Nelia, and Coruth’tae as a concussive ball of fire.

We watched in horror from below as fire and screams tore across the roof above, our friends up there yelling in pain. Coruth’tae and Nelia dragged the rope up from the cloister side of the wall, reset the grapple on the courtyard side of the wall, and started climbing down. When the lizardman sentry took aim and shot a second time. Soren had nowhere to go so he braced for another fireball but it didn’t materialize – instead he was struck by the speeding quarrel. It knocked him down and he fell over and backwards – and into space – dropping 30’ down to the cloister garden below where he felt something in his chest snap and his leg and hip jar terribly and then he knew no more – reduced to -4 hit points.

Coruth’tae and Nelia made it to the ground while Norris pumped his legs and arms, his own personal safety not mattering, racing across the corridors as fast as he could until he slid to a stop at Soren’s unconscious body. He called upon his flagging spells and was able to whistle up enough of a healing to stop Soren’s progress towards death and stabilize him at a mere 5 hit points. He awoke with a start but was in terrible pain (-4 on everything for the next almost 2 days), draping his arm across Norris’ shoulder and allowing the bard to drag him back to the courtyard and the rest of the party.

As for us, we knew that the lizardman guard that had made it to the temple was getting reinforcements – priestly lizardman ones. We gathered together and Gwyn, Arnog, Kazak, and Haydin were piling the tables in front of the door and then dragging the cart closer to hopefully slow down whoever and whatever would be coming out. There was no time to cut tails or loot bodies – we had to prepare steel and spell for the racing foes we heard through the portal – foes that were hissing for our blood.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Meet 98, Adv 9, 4/24/10

With henchmen, the party numbers 8 - the weakest member is a 16 year old hireling 4th level 98 lb human thief - with enough poison to drop a charging rhino. Twice. Per hour. So when they stumble into a trap (incidentally, not all of them are mechanical in nature) I as the DM watch with some trepidation. Is it too much? Too little? Will I have a TPK?

In this case - it was a slaughter. For the enemy.

At 24 to 8 - which equates to 3 to 1 odds, the party was even surprised and assaulted first, and within 2 minutes they turned the tide of battle and took prisoner the lone survivor. And then turned the lone survivor into a henchman of their own.

And now with 9 in their stable - wanted to tackle the biggest knot of lizardmen and take names.

I can tell you - planning will be their key and saving grace in the next major encounter.

Write up follows:

The battle with the lizardmen continued strong. Nelia and Haydin, our two newest hirelings, accorded themselves well with javelin and sword, wading into the fight where able to and adding their own skills to the rest of the group’s. Arnog stayed by Soren, defending the ranger from any further unexpected blows. Gwyn took aim and shot his 250 lb pull heavy gnomish made crossbow at one of the lizardman shaman and blasted the enemy off his feet, knocking him to the ground. Norris drew his long sword and helped hack down one of the closer halberd wielding enemies. Coruth’tae fired off a color spray spell, hurled sanding turning into a stunning wind that knocked three off the scaled humanoids down.

From there the battle turned swiftly and the party put down foe after foe. Brother Beren hurled a spiritual hammer skyward and had it slam down during the fight. One of the lizardmen tried to run, shoving his way back into the complex in an effort to escape but Arnog hoisted his enchanted sword over his head and hurled it with all his might – the blade spinning until it plowed into the fleeing lizardman and knocked him over. More than enough time for the maddened fighter to tackle it and finish the job close up.

We took tails and dragged the lizardmen into the stables, shutting the door and taking stock of the situation. No one seemed to have heard us and we were seemingly lucky so far. Some healing was given out and eventually Soren was able to move again. We lined up and as a party, we reentered the complex ready for anything.

The room past the stables that once housed the giant sundew was empty, as was the numerous foes we had dropped some 3-4 days ago. It was decided that we should carefully go past where the lizardmen and basilisks once were and check out the stonecutter’s shed. It was empty and we reapplied the locking bar. No one wanted to enter the graveyard/cemetery.

We returned to the intersection and went back to the room where Olthar had been turned to stone. A cautious listening and a quick look through the hole in the door showed that it was not in use and no one was there. We followed the hall until it turned to the right, a breeze blowing towards us and making our torches flutter. There was a short corridor with a door on the left wall and then a set of stairs going down into the darkness. We listened at the door and it was also silent, a quick look revealing nothing except old ruin and an empty chamber perhaps 20’ square.

This brought us to the steps downward. We knew there were still basilisks not too far from here and we went down with severe caution. It was 20’ down, the area was rough and unfinished, barely 5’ in width, 7-8’ in height. The smell of old meat and earth was strong. The corridor went to the right and the left, the group opting to go right.

The subterranean corridor went some 30 paces or so until it opened to a natural chamber, 6 other possible exits were visible, 3 of which were no larger than 3’ off the ground. A half dozen 6’ tall insectoid men (similar in shape and body as the ones we had seen in the depths of Dargan’s Folley) were here working on leather and bits of netting, a small number of very large ants skittering about the chamber. We immediately backed away and moved as quietly as we could – not wanting to get into any fight with these denizens.

Once back at the base of the stairs, we decided to go left. It was some 50 paces or so of narrow corridors and nervous glances (with another 1 or 2 of those smaller 3’ tall tunnels crossing the main thoroughfare as we trod onward) until we came to another chamber. This was not large, maybe 10 paces oval, another passage on the far side leading onward into the gloom. There were 4 pits in here – each one 3’ around and 3’ deep – currently empty. Along the northern wall was a metal ladder affixed on the wall going upward to what seemed to be a trap door in the ceiling.

We walked past the pits and Gwyn climbed, looking cautiously up at the top as he lifted the stout wooden portal. It was a narrow room and long, filled with over a dozen humans clad in ragged cloaks and chained to the walls. At least 3 orcs were in here, wearing leather and sporting whips and swords. Slavers.

The group wanted to get out of this area with the antmen, not wanting to engage them in combat if we could help it. And going up top here and taking out the slavers seemed the right thing to do. It meant we would have even more people to watch after but just knowing slavers were here was not something we wanted to just brush over and skip past. We would have to take the orcs by surprise and do it fast and quietly.

It was decided that Arnog, Haydin, and Soren would go first, followed by Gwyn, Brother Beren and then the rest of the group. We readied ourselves and then took to the metal steps. We opened the trap door, a few of the closer slaves surprised to see us. Mouthing quietly to them we stepped up, drew weapons, and by the time Soren was up and in place Arnog tackled the first orc with his sword hacking down. The porcine humanoid whirled at the last instant, his own blade rising up, and the clang of steel on steel was on as we surprised the foes.

Soren loaded up a stonebiter arrow and shot across the entire length of the room, critically hitting the orcish leader, an almost 7’ tall brute with a Romanesque helmet and whip. The shaft whistled as it dug into the commander’s chest and knocked him back against the wall.

The priest, illusionist, and dwarf came up next, weapons ready. Arnog and Haydin were surprised that the lead orc was still not down, while the second one was smiling cruelly. Coruth’tae shot at the lead orc, HITTING the same stone biter shaft inside the commander’s chest! The orc fell back and as he was slumping over, Soren shot him a third time – the next shot hitting him in the same area. Gurgling and panting he was dragging himself down past a small alcove when all hell broke loose.

The “slaves” all stood up, dragged short swords out from underneath themselves, and the manacles and chains that were around their wrist fell away as they were never on. In a single roar the “slaves” fell on the party and hacked and chopped at the group who were surprised at this turn of events. The slaves were actually half-orcs, now obvious as by the size of them and their features twisted in the flickering lamp light without the aid of concealing hood and cowls disguising them. They hit and hacked and chopped and snarled and tried to bury the party under their assaulting punishment.

It was here that Arnog’s skill came to the forefront. With his sword held high he spun and slashed and ducked and parried and dealt blow after blow after blow at the throng about him, the skilled fighter dropping SIX of the half-orc slaves in just under a minute. Haydin followed suit, the brawler taking down another in a fury of blows one after the other. Arrows filled the hall and the half orcs who had thought they had the party dead to rights were shocked to see it was not the case. Coruth’tae called forth a powerful illusion and made it appear as if a chain lightning crawled across the chamber – “slaying” another half dozen of the half-orcs.

The last armor clad orc tried to intervene but Arnog shoved past him while Nelia hurled a poison tipped javelin at it and Haydin, Norris, and Gwyn surrounded the slaver and took it down with a multitude of blows. Arnog rounded the corner and the sounds of fighting were short and fierce, the orcish leader’s head actually bouncing into the main room without the body. The last half orc dropped his sword, sat down heavily, and put his own hands in the manacles, locking them up and said, “I surrender. Who in THRYM’S name are you people and where did you come from?!?!?”

We spoke to the last half orc at some length and learned many things. His name was Kazak and was once a member of the Goretusk clan, a group of orcs living north of here. His clan had been beaten some half dozen years ago by some lizardman tribe and they had been all carted off and traded time and again until they arrived with the Greenscales. Once here they acted as liaisons between the various slavers and the lizardmen – earning their freedom and making a sort of home for themselves here.

The temple complex was home to not only the lizardmen above, but also the antmen below – and something else. Kazak had never seen it, and whatever it was, it sort of “ruled” the lizardman tribes – uniting them in a way that had not been seen before and giving them ideas and plans not normal for the lizardmen. As for the sheer number of ghouls, the complex was once holy ground to Sif, but had been decayed and corrupted – and now whoever dies here there is a chance that their corpse arises as a ghoul at some point later. Whatever it is that “rules” here – also seems to have something to do with the ghouls and the corruption.

We asked Kazak where the best place to find more lizardmen was and he was very forthcoming, giving us a layout of the upper area and the temple ground itself where a number of lizardmen could be found. He owes no allegiance to the complex and with the knowledge that the group can discard him at will, he was willing to offer his services and sword arm to us if we could get him out of the swamp and to a friendly place (he does have some ability at ciphering and knows his numbers). We accepted his offer and Kazak clad himself in some of the orcish leather, the help, and gripped his sword with confident and expectant fingers.