The group had run into rust monsters before, nasty buggers to be sure but something they had always fought from a distance. I don't think they ever saw any rust monster closer than 15' before. So when I rolled another double set of wandering monsters right after the owlbears ripped the hired thief to shreds I was surprised to see it was rust monsters.
And they hit the party almost head on taking the fight into three of the metal wearing warriors - one of them throwing away his shield and running away to avoid being hit. It was comical that creatures that don't do any damage could have the party so fixated on running away.
They also hit the number 2 boss of the 1st 7 levels (where they were anticipating ending the foray into Double Dagger Dungeon) - Costeval the Fat. He was not particularly dangerous - 9th level priest with 2 7th level orcish warriors at his beck and call. What he did have though was 4 potential globes that would cast spells from his pool for him. So he was pissing through spells VERY fast, but it was still a shock for the party as it was like facing 5 spell casting priests in a single round. With multiple sanctuary, bless, heals, protections, and commands hitting the group they were reeling. Eventually the number of spells did come to an end and Costeval went down, but not before I had killed one of the party and dropped another one to -8.
Write up follows:
We paid our porters, henchmen, hirelings, ate our breakfast, studied, and prayed in expectation for the next day’s activities. Once ready to face the challenges ahead, we started by looking about the chamber we were in. There were 4 doors, and of the 4, two had been “blocked” yesterday by what was apparently illusionary falling debris. We looked at the other two “unblocked” doors and spent some time checking them over. One was locked and the other was trapped…and of the two “blocked” doors, 1 was trapped.
What to do…We decided on opening the untrapped locked door. Cadassial worked his magic and the lock was sprung and then Norris gave the door a heave-ho – revealing a small room 10x10, with 4 shelves along the back wall. The top two had a moldering burlap sack on each, 3rd one down had a beaten up wooden chest/crate with a hasp lock obviously torn off, and the bottom shelf and floor had old casks and barrels which might have at one time held foodstuffs.
We were uncomfortable with the set up and Norris threw an axe at the box, but it hit flat side and spun back, whacking the bard in the neck. We knocked the two bags on the top shelves a bit, spilling out silver coins and the box was taken to the floor and opened, revealing about 40 compartments, some broken glass, and 4 “healing” potions. Party couldn’t understand why anyone would leave 4 potions sitting around, but took with care.
We then went to try out the northernmost door, which had 3 magic missiles fly out and slam into Norris. There was nothing behind it. So we went to the southern door and Norris and Cadassial went to disarm the trap there, a pressure plate under the door. But something got screwed up and the thief leapt away in time – the bard did not and was slammed down under 600 lbs of collapsing stone. Norris was getting wroth and angry at all these traps. And of course, behind the door was nothing.
There was one door left and we KNEW it was trapped. Cadassial and Norris disarmed it successfully – revealing another narrow hollow and nothing else. Crap.
We went back to the hall and regrouped, deciding this time to go back to where the mage was and proceed past to where the orange beams were on the ground. On the way…another white robed mage was there, not the same as last time. He was smirking and motioned the group closer, asking them if they wanted to see a magic trick. This time we said no, and he grinned at the disrobing Guyus and disappeared.
Grumbling we marched on and was going to have Cadassial pick his way past the orange beams of light on the floor but decided instead to have Jerold block the hall with his tower shield and then Cadassial break the beam and keep it broken – 3 bolts went off and then no more. We crowded down the hall and came to the next one – doing the same thing again.
From here the corridor “T”’ed and we had a choice, north went to MORE halls with beams of lights and south looped back around and went eventually to a long hall stretching north. Once again, our hired thief was sent northward to the next beam and when he tested the trap, three more bolts flew out – but from the BACK way. Oooh, that would have been a nasty surprise. The passage went on a tiny bit more, turned around again to a fourth damned beam in the hall. Ok, enough was enough.
We called Cadassial back and decided that we would go the other way, this way was too trapped and asking for a problem. We lined up and proceeded down the hall at a steady pace until we arrived at long last at a door. There was some scratching on the western wall that gave another listing of colors not to use. We noted it and then moved on to the end of the hall.
A double set of doors were here, a pair of turning handles set in the middle. Norris opted to once again step forward and do his duty. He grabbed each handle firmly and before he went to turn them, he noticed that his hands were stuck. Some sort of glue had come out and affixed his hands to the door. With a number of twisting wiggles and very nimble fingers, he pulled his hands free from his gloves and we looked at the door again.
This time he grabbed his gloves and twisted – and the doors were ripped from his grasp. The area in front of the doors was a deep pit dimly lit and spiked below…and then from the ceiling a faint rain of acid fell right over the pit. Pretty much, whoever was holding onto the handle would have been screwed. The room was lit from the ceiling with chunks of crystals glowing and there was a faint humming music coming from the walls.
We peered in and there was another door on the same wall, 40 odd feet away. To get across we would have to jump to bridge the pit. We used Malak’s tower shield catty-corner and four or five of us entered the room.
And promptly fell asleep.
Norris used his countersong ability and awoke the sleepers, walking slowly into the room to provide a bubble of safety. Once we were all in, Cadassial checked out the next door, noting it was not locked or trapped. Out thief opened it – and was promptly mauled by a huge owlbear. The thief dropped and a second one pushed his way in, assaulting the shieldbearers. Once the surprise was over we pressed forward taking the 2 monsters out slowly but with little extra fuss.
Once they were dispatched we were in the hall and looking to harvest some of their choicer feathers for scroll writing when it occurred to us that our noises had attracted some more wander monsters. From the southern corridor came three heavily carapaced beetle like creatures with whiplike antennae and from the east hall came a half dozen ravenous ghouls!
The rust monsters hit the party’s front line fighters hard, dissolving platemail, ring mail, weapons, and even Rahyk threw his shield and dragged both Norris and Soren in front of him in his mad dash to back away. Thodrek’s entire suit of full plate turned into brownish slag in a single turn. And then the ghouls hit, but to our amazement, they did not work with the rust monsters, turning some of their hatred and paralytic touch on to the rust monsters as well as the party.
When finally able to Brother Beren called to Tyr and blasted three of the ghouls away to dust while the rest of the group changed over to wooden weapons and the like to combat the rust monsters. It was very difficult going but eventually the last rust monster was slain and thanks to Guyus’ protection from evil, the ghouls were held back long enough for the party to finish them off.
Cleaning up more wounds we then spent some time swapping armor between everybody as best as possible, some of our non combatants reducing to padded or leather armor that we had snagged off the half orcs long before. Finally ready we looked at our three potential choices of where to go. North opened to a square room with 8 statues of iron cobras about 6” tall spaced evenly about the room along the wall, East eventually went to a big chamber with over 200 dead bodies stacked in some places 4 or five high, and south went to a long corridor 20’ wide running south with a strange circular flagstone every 10’ in the middle of the hall.
No one wanted to go to the cobra room and the room with the dead bodies was also passed as an option, that left south. Detheron was letting us know that he believed that there was some sort of deadfall type trap in there (remnant of his prior spell) but could not be sure and suggested care. So we had Soren look around the area to see where the monsters had walked and we noted that they had stayed to the left.
Cadassial went first carefully and came back shortly, saying that the walls were set up to swing across should anyone walk down the middle of the hall. We lined up and started our walk. As we progressed down the long hall, over 70’, we came to a set of swinging double doors behind which we could smell something cooking as well as a low humming. Daring to take a look, Norris crept forward and peered between the slats.
The chamber was largish, with the back portion devoted to some kitchen area and stove, a rather corpulent almost 7’ tall orc was standing there wearing stained leathers, a collar around his neck with a four count of chains and globes dangling. Most likely the Costeval the Fat personage we had heard about. There were also a pair of militant looking orcs in there, sporting broadswords and wearing scalemail.
Upon noting Norris, Costeval stopped humming and suggested that Norris, “Come on in.” And our bard did. He asked if we had seen any rust monsters as he wanted to use them for cooking in the stew he was making. Norris lied and said he hadn’t seen any, so the fat orc suggested he tilt his head back and Norris did so for some reason – allowing Costeval to slit his throat in a single cut and drop the half elf to the floor.
The party made to charge in and the two orcs immediately got to the ready. The globes around Costeval started to glow with strange light and weird chanting was heard. Odd light swarmed around Costeval and the group started to charge in. Guyus wanted to attack the fat orc – and couldn’t! His assault was blunted. The same thing with Rahyk! Norris was on the ground bleeding and Costeval was commanding the party member to “die!” clerical commands rocketing around the chamber.
Arrows were shot and our crazed fighter got close enough to assault one of the two orcs guards – getting a VERY lucky critical and lopping the greenskin’s head from his shoulders. Fire was shot at Costeval and the orc responded with protecting himself from such fires. The globes around his neck were firing off clerical spells as well, healing the orcs and bolstering him and the other with him with various protections and blesses.
Detheron snagged one of his precious greater mistletoes and called on Frey for a dispel magic, centering it in the room – And he was very successful, killing all of the protections Costeval and his globes had instilled including the debilitating sanctuary spell. Which meant Rahyk and Guyus were slamming swords against the fat orcs’ side.
One of the globes shot a hold person spell freezing part of the party and another one turned the stone under Thodrek’s feet to clay and then encasing the dwarf’s feet in solid rock again. Brother Beren was trying to save Norris and sling bullets and arrows were tearing through the chamber. Costeval and his globes were still dropping healing spells and the like but they were growing weaker in power. Aghmar greased the area under Costeval and the fat orc fell to his ass.
The 2nd orc was growing weaker and Thodrek was beating the stones around his feet with his hammers in an effort to save himself. Costeval’s globes grew bright one more time and a flame strike spell scoured the area slamming into 4 of the party members in the corner entrance of the chamber – one of them being Brother Beren. The same cleric carrying a pony-keg filled with oil – the equivalence of 20 flasks worth. He went up like a candle and died, dropping Norris back into the negatives. The party was hemorrhaging hit points very swiftly now and Costeval’s globes continued to heal the corpulent orc.
It was with a concentrated assault of swords and steel and another 6 count of arrows before Costeval teetered over and died with a final blast of cursing. We took the time to put out what fires were in the room, extricate Thodrek from the rocky ground, check over Norris and try to heal him (using the fake healing potions at first but opting to not continue when it seemed to only make the dying bard even worse off), and stem the worst of the bleeding and beating the party had taken so far.
We did have a scroll of raise dead but were missing the pile of diamonds to power it. It was only after we had looked over Costeval’s chamber that we discovered the orc had a thin box with two potions of regeneration, 4 decent sized diamonds and 4 decent sized rubies. Detheron and Guyus used their skills to decipher the scroll we had gotten of Raise Dead and two of the diamonds and breathed new life back into Brother Beren.