Thinking outside the box.
The party was faced with 2 situations that were presented in a particular fashion and they opted not to go for the linear approach. First it was the "buzzsaw" of a guardroom that is on alert for them and they figured out a workaround with an ancillary trap to throw the "defenders" off their game.
Then it was a straight out fight where a magic weilding assailant was in his stronghold and at the ready for the party, able to neutralize most of them (and eventually capture them and use them for experiments - bwha ha ha) but they used the description of the room to their benefit and forced the use of an old stand by - the potion miscability table.
I was so proud. :)
Write up follows:
The door opened and we looked carefully about. Our steady light revealed a corridor running north to the limit of our vision and little else. Various debris littered the floor in places and there was the acrid stink of vermin. We marched out and made our way northward, Cadassial and Norris leading the way.
At the end of the corridor there was a turn to the left which seemed to eventually lead to a large open aired room and to the right was a single iron bound stone door with a pair of key holes in it. We looked at our single sided brass keys and Cadassial felt they would fit. The party discussed going to the left and checking out the chamber, remembering what the K’Sisithak kobolds had said about the orcs had used that place as a sleeping chamber and some pet giant rats.
Although we didn’t like to leave things at our back, a fight against giant rats was opted not to be pressing enough and we turned our attention back to the door. Our hired thief checked it out and was satisfied that the door was not trapped. So he and Norris used a key each and opened it, revealing a long corridor running south.
We walked down carefully until we arrived at two set of stairs running down about 50’, each one separated by a 2’ wide stretch of stone. There seemed to be no difference to either one of them and when push came to shove, we went down the right hand stairs. At the bottom both Norris and Cadassial checked the door over, finding nothing. But they were concerned and had Gustav come down to open it. The half ogre gave the door a swift kick and…revealed more stairs going down. Chuckle, so much for that.
It was while the thief and bard were halfway down the next flight that Cadassial stopped Norris. He mentioned that they had kicked a bunch of stones just now, stones placed on the steps. The same stones also gave away their presence on the last level and they had gotten their ass kicked from orcs and kobolds. He felt there might be others down there as well. The two of them came back upstairs and told the party they were uncomfortable and wanted to go to the other steps.
On checking them over, no stones or rocks. The bottom door was unlocked but Cadassial said that the door had no give as if it was pressed hard from the other side. The group suspected a spring trap and they rigged up a rope/cord to the handle and went up the steps until Gustav could pull it open safely away – and it burst open with a wet slap and water rushed out, sweeping up the stairs and sloshing back down until it settled at about 7-8’ in height. Ok, trapped water room and we opted not to go that way.
That led us back once more to WHO and WHAT might be at the bottom of the other stairs and how to be ready for it. A frontal assault was discarded as we needed some surprise on our end and that’s when Brother Beren spoke up. He talked to us about the magic chalk he had and that if we could draw a hole from the other set of steps, just at the bottom of the water mark, the magic would create a hole and allow the water to race into the right most steps, sluice down the flight, and slam into the bottom door and surprise whoever was down there.
It was at this point that we realized that Galf our porter was already an artist of some skill and we gave his the chalk, promise of a bonus, and had him go to the place in question and draw a hole in the wall. As he was finishing up he was whisked back up the steps and with a whumphing crunch, the wall parted and thousands and tens of thousands of water slammed into the tunnel and down the stairs. It hit the door and splintered it open and we heard cries of surprise below.
With weapons drawn we raced down and hit the chamber hard. Brigands with crossbows were knocked ass over teakettle about the room, still a standing run of a foot or two of water on the floor (it seemingly racing “through” a wall on the north east corner). Gustav hit the lead ones like a freight train and in the space of a few moments had two down and was plowing through a third. Thodrek and Gwyn were next and then Norris joined them as well. Brigands already down were kept down and others still clutching weapons were hit first. Norris hurled his net and caught two, drowning one under the water. It was Soren and his blast from his Frostbursting bow that cause and interesting turn as he struck a bandit – and then the surrounding water turned to ice trapping two others including the bandit leader!
Crossbows flashed and swords flew and we poured down the steps with a desire to end the combat swiftly. A few of the brigands made to run but Gwyn took down one of the escapees while our hirelings assaulted the last. In no time the battle was ended and we captured one of the brigands for questioning. It was the leader and he was mostly incoherent during all of this, over 15 of his friends slain instantly. He was unable to answer questions and spent a goodly amount of time crying and hysterical.
It was when Gustav went to open the eastern door that things turned poorly quickly. A pair of ballistas were set up here along the back wall and TWO bolts streaked across the chamber, the lead one hitting the half ogre and knocking him on his ass. There were another half dozen or so brigands in here all at the ready but both of our sides were a bit surprised. It was at this time that Aghmar, our mage, stepped forward and filled the other chamber with a billowing mass of foul vapors – choking just about everyone inside as well as dropping visibility to a mere 3’.
A few of us who had decent breaths and a willingness to kick ass (one of them being the enraged Gustav) held our noses and charged in to try and take down the enemies as swiftly as possible. Gustav made it his business to throw his AC to the wind and make it to the back of the chamber – taking out the ballista crews with a barreling charge. A few others were hit deadly and side on while slings and arrows were shot from the door. In a short period of time the battle was done and Aghmar willed the stinking cloud away.
We sorted through what treasures we could find and out half ogre was making it his business to disassemble one of the ballistas to take it with us. We then proceeded to question the few survivors and one of them was most forthcoming. His name was Canian and he answered our questions honestly. He drew out a short map and explained that the original dungeon complex was the purview of some mage from a century ago. Each door needs 2 keys to open and even if a key is lost or destroyed or removed from the dungeon, new ones will magically appear on the level in question. Not every person needs a key though and most times if there is the need to go between levels they do bang on the doors and shout to those below/above to open. Also, sometimes the doors will open and close randomly so it does allow for some drift between levels for the denizens.
There are 2 keys to get to the next level and one of them is with the orcish leader named Gandlarg located north of here and the other is with the bandit lieutenant named Blachau. There was a room with some giant frogs and orcs nearby and the last room in this area was the domain of a bandit (barely) named “The Maker”. He had been some wizard/alchemist of some skill that wanted to be left alone and do his work (which was sort of against the law in some places) – so the local bandits welcomed him to the fold and he was given this area beyond a door in here as his own domain.
He does have animals with him and the occasional bandit – door opens once a week and food, supplies, and what not are given in and then the door is closed for the same period of time. Next time the Maker is to come out is tomorrow.
We thanked Canian and escorted him to the top level and wished him well. He was going to Fulgore Keep to rest for a bit and then get some other job elsewhere. Feeling good about ourselves we then went back and forth on what to do. Do we go after the Serrated Teeth orcs? Do we go from a position of strength and violence or of parlay and communication? How about the Maker? Go after him or not?
We decided to go after the Maker. The door was locked but Aghmar could open it magically in an hour if we gave him time to study. During that time we worked out a plan and came up with who would go first and how we would take out the mage and up to 4 war dogs and maybe 3-6 bandits.
It was time. A number of prep spells were cast and then Aghmar cast his knock spell and the party entered. It was a narrow hall that opened to the left to a much larger chamber. A pair of rune covered columns spanned the 25’ space followed by a oversized alchemist’s lab a large series of tables and beds and chairs and then a huge shelf of potions, some 40 in number. A few bandits were standing about as guards and arrows began peppering the limply standing guards. One of the war dogs was ensorcelled by a beastmaster potion and Gustav came charging in and tore around the corner.
Coming with a few paces of the column, getting a nasty burn, and then knocked out.
Sling stones and arrows flew and we noticed that as we entered the room, our preparation spells failed one after the other. Magic missiles shot at the Maker stopped a foot from him, absorbed by his shield spell. Other bandits were getting swords out and ready to attack. Brother Beren ran to wake up Gustav, got burned from coming to close to the column and was knocked out. Damn it.
Also, the guard we had shot with arrows was not going down; just standing there like a pin cushion and reloading his crossbow. Double Damn. This was not going well and we were cramping up in the hall when the Maker shot a web spell at us and snagged three members of the party together.
It was at this point that the party made a “great leap” in tactics, and a honking huge war hammer was hurled across the chamber TOWARDS the Maker – who was fully expecting his shield spell to deflect it. However, it was not aimed at him – but at the shelf of potions right behind him. Potions that shattered together and mixed uncontrollably…and then created a small cloud of greenish gas and exploded – killing the Maker!
The other bandits begged for their life and they ran towards the group. We used their efforts to help us gather up what riches we could find and considered our unorthodox solution in handling the Maker one of our better ideas as of late. It was now Workmonth the 12th at 5:45 PM and we were going through the last 2 living bandits and 4 war dogs here and trying to make sense over what was to happen next.