A bad night for critical hits.
Sometimes the dice are very much against the party and in this night we had a number of critical hits that rocked the group. Similar to the prior meeting where a double critical knocked Gustav down to "dead", this time I had a series of criticals and fumbles that had the party pinned between ogres and trogs and ogres - and then the dwarf (our 2nd main line fighter) was brained and thrown back for "eating".
Also had some heroics which in my mind trumps "dice" any day of the week.
Write up follows:
We dragged the giant bear into the major alcove area and then went back and did the same with Gustav. Brother Beren and Malak went about bandaging up wounds where able to and Norris aided in some light healing of his own. The hirelings were disturbed over Gustav’s death and there was some talk about leaving and taking the half-ogre’s body out. That plan was quickly squashed as we would have to go back up through Fongar and the orcs, what K’Sisithak kobolds might be in the area, and then also Gandlarg and his orcs on the 2nd level. Thodrek was rather loud that he felt it was wrong to just “leave our companion here in the dirt and under the dungeon and press on. If one of us dies, is that what we have to look forward to as well?”
It took some convincing on Soren’s part to let the group know that we would not be leaving Gustav here and all efforts would be made on taking him out of here on our exit. But we had a mission and that was to get the Sun Sphere on the 7th level and that we would have to make that our priority.
At this point we turned our attention to the bear. Bringing its head was thought to be a good intimidating tactic later on so we used Gustav’s notched greatsword, Ragnarok, (which was fitting) to cleave the beast’s head free – and then did the same with the hands and feet. After that we spent some time skinning the bear and then flensing the layer of fat and meat from the underside of the great skin. While this was going on Norris was taking slabs of bear steak off the animal’s hide and was salting it and cooking goblets of it.
It was just after 12 though (some over 2 plus hours after slaying the bear) that Jerold thought he heard something. He glanced down the hall and spotted two 9’6” lumbering slope jawed ogres wandering this way. He ran back, informed us of what was coming and we were sort of stunned. The air smelled of cooking meat, there was a decapitated bear that was being carved up for food, and we obviously did NOT belong. Time for some lies and glib tongues. J
The ogres came around and wanted to know what we were doing here. They were going to see Fongar to find out, “where the morons were and if the bear had killed them yet.” The group said they were from the bandit group and on their way to Costeval the Fat and they saw the dead bear and dead half-ogre – ergo the half-ogre was the moron and the two of them killed each other. The ogres looked over dead Gustav and said he wasn’t an ogre. Then they looked at his stuff and one of them (the 2 ogres identified themselves as Gyrx and Falan) took Gustav’s war ax, “Pig Splitter”.
They were going to talk to Fongar about “the morons” and the fact that the bear apparently killed them and then was killed by them. Costeval sent them up. Where was Costeval? Somewhere on either 5 or 6. Good the party replied, they wanted to go talk to him. The ogres took some of the bear meat to munch on on the way and then waved at us and got ready to go. During the conversations we did learn that the ogres knew how to get past the bear by dropping a platinum piece in the big bowl by the entrance. If they did so the bear would leave them alone, if they did not, the bear would attack and eat them. Ahhhh, that’s what the bowl was for.
We bid Gyrx and Falan goodbye and once they were out of sight we quickly struck our camp. The fire was doused, bear meat wrapped up and placed in packs. Weapons sheathed, armor donned, torches lit. We dragged Gustav OUT of the alcove and carried him to an area of the bear’s maze off the beaten path and draped the bear’s skin over him. Then knowing that we did not have much time before the ogres would speak with Fongar and learn that we were the morons in question we decided to try to find our way to the 5th level.
It took Soren only a few moments to follow the orge’s trail through the thick brush and we walked through the maze, the ogre’s path eventually intersecting and then joining with the fallen ursine’s. We ended up in a largish antechamber with an alcove place, the walls colored from floor to ceiling in pale ivy vines wrapped about themselves and very thick. A sister stone bowl about the same size as the other one we saw was here, two platinum bars sitting in the bottom of it. We pocketed the metal and then spread out and tried to look for a door or some sort of exit, tearing the vines away from the wall.
In the process of doing so we trigged a simple pit trap, 7’ square and perhaps 9’ deep. It was empty. We also noted that on pulling the vines free, within moments they began to grow and twine about, filling in whatever areas we might have yanked and ripped apart. We did discover a concealed door and opened it, looking in the next chamber.
It was sizeable and sported some simple mining equipment as well as a couple of bags filled with ivy seeds. Soren took about 10 lbs of the seeds while Norris and Cadassial went to the single door out of here – a door with a key hole and an iron key hanging there. It was not trapped and seemed to lead to the 5th level. We experimented with the ivy and it did not grow on the floor, but did grow in the dirt on the main 4th level floor – very swiftly. As for the pit, we dumped some of the ivy seeds in there and watched as the ivy began to grow.
From here we talked about bringing the bear’s head and now changed our mind about taking it along. So we tossed the bear’s head in the pit and watched as it was covered over by growing ivy. As for going to the next level, we opened the door and then held it in place while one of us ran back to the dirt and buried the key, covering it and then dropping more ivy seeds on it. Satisfied now we made our way to the stairs, set up our marching order, and then proceeded down.
It was a short walk to the bottom where we noted the corridor turned back 180 degrees and headed east. We glanced down the corridor as far as the light would shine, noting it was at least a score of paces and kept going. A search of the landing showed only that the western wall was dimpled and scarred repeatedly between 2 and 4 feet in height. Our thoughts meandered as to what and why and one of us suggested that it was reminiscent of the area on the 2nd level where there was a trap of hurling stones against a wall.
This had Cadassial look about carefully and our hired thief discovered a trip wire near the ground. It was anchored on one side and turned along a eye hook before going off down the hall. Step over the wire…or attempt to disarm it? We opted to have him disarm it and it wasn’t much of an effort for Cadassial to earn his pay on this, his 4th found trap/trick/alarm. From here we lined up and walked down carefully – eventually finding 3 crossbows set up, each of them loaded with a single bolt that Gwyn aka Steele told us was poisoned with something. We took the bolts and then pressed on to the next chamber.
Some 15 paces square, 3 doors out. A Copper plaque was along one wall and the language was shifting and hard to read. A short read magic spell revealed it to be: “West humanoids, North other, East beats, Three Four.” We listened to the three doors and north and west were quiet (although west stunk slightly and north had a dank odor to it) while east has some hissing growl in it.
We talked about our options and decided to go to the west door. This was also because we had remembered the two ogres commented they had spoken with Costeval the Fat and since ogres are humanoids – that was most likely. The door was stuck slightly and we pulled it ajar. It had a tendency to close on its own so a spike was plied to keep it ajar. Norris went down the corridor, learning that it was getting fouler the further he went. It paced almost 20 steps and then turned back around again at least the same distance before turning north. That bad odor was stronger the further he went.
The party talked and decided that we would press on. We made sure that Gwyn and Thodrek were in the front while the rest of us fanned out behind in the confines of the corridor. As we crept forward we THOUGHT we heard a shift of something ahead where the corridor turned but could not be sure as it did not repeat itself. The stink grew foul and just when it was the most cloying a rasping cry sounded out and long limbed reptilian creatures boiled out and fell on the party with claws, teeth, and harpoons.
Most of the blows were turned aside by Gwyn and Thodrek the two dwarves beating the monsters back. It was two rows of them, the back rows stabbing with harpoons, the closer ones using claw and teeth. Arrows flashed out and some oil was tossed as well. As soon as able to, Gwyn unlimbered his firestaff and broiled 4 of the beasts. Two survived the flames and ran back into the room the rest were still coming out of.
The problem was that during the fight the monsters were exuding a terrific stench that affected the closest party members, making them ill and weakening them with its strength stealing miasma. A couple of the more experienced party members identified them as troglodytes and Jerold was told to go back to the door we came in from (where the 3 choices were) and spike it closed so we did not get surprised. The shield bearer headed back, the din of battle echoing loudly but on reaching the door with spike and hammer he was dismayed to find the 2 ogres we had run into before, Gyrx and Falan, coming this direction with frowns and growls.
“Hey!” they shouted. “You guys is the morons!” Gyrx took Gustav’s PigSplitter war ax off and Falan held out his iron shod club with a meaty hand, the shouts and cries of battle very loud and strong. Jerold backpedaled to the party, toeing the line with Malak, and called out to the group that ‘Company was coming!’. Party was surrounded with two ogres at our read and at least a dozen trogs at our front.
During the battle we had to shift the middle of the party many times, Brother Beren making his way to towards Gwyn and Thodrek to keep the 2 dwarves fully healed. Arrows fired and swords flashed. But during the fight Soren’s Frostburst bow snagged and the enchanted string snapped! He was pissed and our ranger took out his 2nd bow, filling the air with arrows. Aghmar shot his wand of bats at Falan, 15 of the winged animals slamming into the ogre and then fluttering around his head, disturbing his ability to swing effectively.
The trogs’ reek was still draining strength from the party: Gwyn, Norris, Thodrek, and Digger taking the worst of it. Even weakening they continued to deliver terrible damage. Aghmar gave up his haste potion to Gwyn and the dwarf was suddenly ablaze with movement and speed. Another two trogs were set ablaze and they also ran from the fight back into the room they came from. Norris lost his blade in the fight after getting a harpoon in the chest and the party was making a number of tired and fumbling blunders one after the other. The two ogres were bleeding badly and began roaring and howling, their calls echoing throughout the complex. Another trog fell and the last of them broke and ran back into the room while the group finished off the two troubling ogres with a flurry of cuts and a rain of missile fire.
And then we heard footsteps coming. Lots of them. Gwyn glanced past the pile of 7 dead trogs (4 of them still burning from ignited oil) and down the hall and saw ogres coming. Two..no three..no..shit, guys, lots of ogres coming. Gwyn was able to understand their language and from what it sounded like, these ogres were responding to Gyrx’s call and wanted to know where the damned trogs were. And then the lead ogre grew close enough and cried out, “Dwarves!” on seeing Thodrek and Gwyn and the other FIVE behind him laughed as they ran closer with eager steps.
Aghmar was able to get close enough to hit Thodrek with his shielding wand and then it was battle time again. The ogres were trying to grab the dwarves and one of them got a grip on Gwyn but his teammates held on tight and the ogre got a punishing crack in his shin for his efforts. In the tight corridor with all the jostling back and forth Soren was hit from behind and his second bow was knocked from his grasp! Damn it! It pulled out his final bow, a battered one he had held onto for some time, strung it swiftly, and fired into the crowd. One of the ogres went down and another was badly hurt. Norris whistled out a fear spell and one of the behemoths ran away with a terrible curse and wail. With two dwarves sporting terrific armor classes standing toe to toe in the tight corridor, bottlenecking the ogres with the rest of the party adding missile support where able to it looked like that we could hold the grounds indefinitely.
And then it happened. Tymora, goddess of luck, apparently had an urgent summoning to attend a horse race in Argosility because a couple of fumbles resulted in Gwyn getting hit from behind, weapons being dropped, and Gwyn losing his footing and getting his helmet slammed by the ogre in front of him and knocking the dwarf out. With a hooting call it snagged Gwyn by the foot and flipped him backwards to another ogre who picked up the dwarf and started running back down the hall, calling out something that only those who spoke ogrish could identify as, “Dwarven Dinner!”
We could not break the jam of bodies blocking us. Digger turned and fired his musk at one of the ogres, making him sick. Brother Beren called out to Tyr and cast sanctuary on himself. At that point he attempted to walk past the battle and the ogres nearest him – could not bring themselves to strike the radiant holyman! Well done.
However the two trogs in the next room with harpoons had no such compunction and one of them was able to overcome the effects of the sanctuary to hurl his harpoon at Brother Beren – striking him and sinking the barbed shaft ALL the way in! Ouch.
One of the ogres blocking the party went down and Thodrek and Norris threw all they had at the remaining ogre who was sadly unharmed and more than ready for them. The two trogs made to run at Brother Beren but only one of them actually had the will to do so (again – sanctuary!). Meanwhile Brother Beren was tearing the barbed spear from his shoulder and bleeding for his efforts.
At this point Gwyn awoke with a glubbering splash – finding himself tossed in a boiling pot, most of his gear torn off. One ogre was trying to hold the dwarf down in the cauldron with a length of wood and another one was in the corner terrified and afraid. Feeling in the burning water for any weapons and finding only a simple hand axe, Gwyn tore it from his belt and leapt out of the cauldron, attacking the ogre with his hasted enhanced assaults. The ogre was shocked and having a difficult time blocking the dwarf’s blows, growing weaker and weaker.
Brother Beren made his way finally past the trog and charged into the darkness towards where Gwyn was taken. The rest of the party hacked and stabbed and plied everything they had at the last ogre eventually knocking him down.
Gwyn finished off the ogre that had tossed him in the pot and Brother Beren came in to rescue him, but instead found Gwyn soaking wet, 2nd degree burns on his body, a bloody axe in his hand, hacked up monster in front of him and a terrified one in the corner. A quick heal had Gwyn feeling a bit better and then it was time to assault the last ogre. The rest of the party finished off the two trogs in the hall and we heard Gwyn and Beren as they wrapped up their attack on the last ogre.