There is something heroic about stnading fights with tons of stuff going on at once. Don't get me wrong, watching Conan hew through hordes of faceless twits of watching Aragon slice orcs by the hundred is pleasing, but a struggle against a "rock-like" foe and battering back and forth, with arrows, and swords, and spells flying - to me that is iconic D&D.
The party was faced with this in a hall where they were against even numbers of melee/missile fighters who could see in the dark, decent armor, 25 hit points a person, and had the benefit of hundreds of quarrels and over 30 doses of "knock-out" poison.
However we had some very judicious delay poison, neutralize poison, a couple of over 20 AC crazed fighters, burning spheres, and crazed dwarves shooting into the battle.
It was still close for almost 3 of the group.
Write up follows:
Workmonth the 14th, 10:30ish AM, and the group was discussing out find of the magic scroll and the potion of prefect mind. We settled on keeping the potion for now and then talked about what our next potential destination should be. We wanted to go to the 6th level but to this point had not found any stairs. There were two potential doors: one to the right of where the grey ooze that reeked of some sort of syrup and the door looked partially broken down. The other was past where we found the giant lizards and Detheron had said were “rats” or vermin in the number exceeding 400, almost a dozen of them “giant” sized. Both places we assumed were large enough to house a set of stairs going down.
Since the “syrupy” place was closer, we went there first. The smell was cloyingly sweet and it took us no time to arrive at the door. Norris shouldered the portal further open and peered into the chamber. Very large, almost 30’ square. The floor was covered in a fairly thick layer of yellowish mold that mounded up to 3’ in height in the center in an oblong looking shape. The bard just turned around and came back; telling us what he saw and that there was NO WAY he was going back in there.
Rahyk and Detheron went next and verified Norris’ observation. We decided that there was no other stairs in there, nor were there any doors and risking messing with the mold was not a good idea. We marked it off our list and went back to the main chamber to think.
It was here that we reread the plaque again and Rahyk had some inspiration that there might be something behind it. The group tried to dissuade him but it was crowbar time before the copper plate was ripped away and revealed…nothing. The plaque no longer had any writing on it and Soren was moderately frustrated at the heavy handed Rahyk and his decisions. The group then went on to the Animal area and rechecked the “rat” door. Sure enough, there were still hundreds of them in there.
Eventually a plan was settled on where we would use Detheron as a central point and he would have a barrier up on him that would repel vermin. Norris, Cadassial, Rahyk, and Guyus would go with him; the bard and thief to check out for doors, stairs and traps and the two fighters to keep the group safe. The rest of the party stayed down the hall and waited.
The door was opened and showed an “L” shaped chamber, the narrow part of the “L” hidden by a leather curtain. Almost 4 dozen rats were scurrying across the floor and those that came with 10’ of Detheron were repelled back. We glanced past the curtain and saw a massive rat’s nest, at least 8 of the big rats in there looking at us menacingly. There were some furnishings in the main room but all in bad repair. A ratty (no pun) chest was in the nearest corner. We went closer and Cadassial picked the lock, opening it. And inside was a 2’ tall gold and silver humanoid looking rat statue of some figure looking up beseechingly. It was while we were looking at the statue that the rats were becoming VERY excited, some of them testing Detheron’s barrier.
Norris picked up the statue and it began to smoke in his hands…so he dropped it.
And when it hit the ground a wave of power flowed out, killed every normal rat in the room, and transformed the 8 giant rats into lycanthropes: wererats. Rahyk and Guyus plugged up the corridor with their armored forms and laid into the scrabbling beasts. A few of them scratched and bit and the paladin and fighter, drawing blood and making the party concerned for what would happen after the fact. A couple of the ratmen leaped high and tried to get over the front line but the two fighters with their fury and Guyus’ enchanted blade against shapechangers it was almost not worth the effort.
At one point one of them jumped clear over Rahyk and turned to assault Detheron but was dispatched before it could do more than just grab the druid. With a few more blows the battle came to an end and the last were-rat was laid low. Healing was applied and Rahyk who was scratched and bit twice was looked over very carefully, Guyus covering the bases and willing a “cure disease” on the fighter, was diagnosed not infected and the party sighed in relief.
The statue was looked over and it was not magical. We wrapped it up and took it with us. But now we didn’t know what to do or where to go. We opted to go back to the main chamber and relook at our options since we did miss something.
There were 2 stairs down that we found, both of them ended at dead ends and traps. We KNOW people came through this level (as evidenced by the ogres we had seen and the dead gnomes in the snake room). But we did not know what to do or what we missed. Aghmar was willing to cast a “Detect Secret Door” spell but it would only last about 4 minutes so we could not check out the entire level. We all figured the Humanoid side would be the best choice so the spell was cast here and the wizard looked around…and along the south wall a 7’ tall, 4’ wide doorway was outlined.
With the stubby end of a torch to mark it, Aghmar walked onward finding no other portals. As for this one, there was no obvious way to open it, do Detheron called on Frey to turn the stone from granite to dense clay. Then it was pick and shovel time and we were through – revealing a narrow corridor 5’ wide travelling east. Bingo.
We lined up and walked on with care, going almost 60 paces before the corridor widened and turned north. Cadassial and Norris checked for traps the entire way, over 110 paces until the corridor stopped and turned left or west. Norris glanced around the corner and we heard “fffftttph” and a bolt struck the bard, knocking him down and he passed out. He was dragged back and Detheron looked him over: crossbow bolt and he was poisoned with something called bloodfever: knocks you out for 10 minutes and then you are wracked with sickness and aching pains for almost half a week.
How was he struck? Was it the fact he had a torch and was an obvious target? Rahyk decided to acid test this and stepped in the hall…and was struck in the chest and knocked on his ass and poisoned. We dragged him back and Detheron proceeded to fix him up as well. Now what? Once Norris and Rayhk were vertical we knew we had to get down the hall…but it was against something we did not know nor how many.
We had Jerold and Malak bring their tower shields up, Cadassial giving up the magnetic light stone and it placed on the front of one of the shields. A delay poison was cast on Guyus and between the Neutralize as well on Rahyk and Norris, they would not be affected by this toxin for some time. With the two fighters up front with tower shields and Norris behind not daring to look up, and the three of them walking half speed they hoped that in time they would just get to the enemy and take them down.
The stepped out and began their slow trek and immediately the missiles were fired. Clattered off tower shields a few snuck passed and hit the two fighters who did grunt, but did not drop or fall asleep. After a half dozen shots we heard plainly, “Holy shit” from the enemy position. Another round volleyed, slowly, not finding any weaknesses or gaps. We proceeded onward and still could not see the enemy. Two more bolts were shot to no avail and no one came closer but we did hear movement. A light was thrown down there, torch wobbling in the air: showing a four count of half orcs in scalemail and sporting well made crossbows, with more behind and more past them.
More missiles were shot and we hunkered low and then there were the back 4 orcs firing. They shot heavier bolts and they arced towards us…and the 4 bolts opened up into webs that rained upon us and held us in place. We beheld two more half orcs with pikes come down the hall in order to stick us while we were unable to move. And the three party members began yelling for Detheron to “Light us up! LIGHT US!!”
Detheron called to Frey and a ball of fire blossomed into being right on top of the party and then rolled toward the enemy. The two half orcs screamed and dropped their pikes while on fire and Rahyk, Guyus, and Norris shrugged off the burning webs and drew weapons ready to fight. It was Soren who took a careful hail mary shot over the party and through the fire…to plug one of the half orcs!
Guyus and Rahyk charged forward, bringing the fight to the enemy before they could sight them down for another volley. Many of the half orcs made to run, some of them still shooting and backing up. Detheron kept them retreating with his flaming sphere, clearing the way for Rahyk and Guyus to press on.
Then a pair of issues hit the group hard. First Gywn tried to shoot over the party and failed, drilling Norris from behind and knocking the bard down with only a single hit point. Brother Beren ran forward to help. And while Guyus and Rahyk were assaulting and cleaving and great cleaving the half-orcs still before us, Guyus was hit hard and knocked out. Rahyk was bleeding badly and more and more of the half orcs went around the corner to escape the fighter, leaving just two who were threatened by the burning fire. Brother Beren managed to help Norris to his feet and healed him quickly, not pulling out the bolt as the bard was too close to death to risk it. Aghmar shot off a shield spell from his wand, hitting Norris just in time.
Because bursting out from a secret door we did not notice, the original 4 half-orcs that first escaped around the corner emerged and fired: two at Rahyk, 1 at Norris, and 1 at Brother Beren. And Brother Beren was hit, failed his save, and slumped to the ground from the bloodfever poison.
The battle was growing desperate now as the group charged madly forward to help their friends and the Rahyk quickly sucked down an extra-healing potion. Norris tossed net, dropping two of them and beat one of them to death. Blows fell and arrows were shot and it was with almost no strength left that the last of the half-orcs was slain and the battle was done.
Norris administered an anti-toxin potion to Berne who awoke slowly. Guyus was next and then LOTS of healing was given out. We then went and checked out the many fallen half orcs, all their gear, and where they were hiding out in. We refilled most of our quivers with crossbow bolts and found 10 various healing and extrahealing poitons, as well as three more partially filled vials of the bloodfever poison. Some coin was taken and we rested up and ate and drank before deciding at 2:30 to press on before our good luck ended and someone noticed us here.
We followed the corridor until it ended at a door with a key hole and a quick insert of the emerald chipped key we found turned the lock and we beheld the stairs down at long last to level 6.