When I started playing there were no use of miniatures in the game so for more years than I can count, the thought of getting them and using them just was not an option for me. It wasn't until I had gotten very sick at the age of 15 and was bed ridden for almost a week near my birthday that my mother had made some calls for me to various hobby shops and found one that sold miniatures as well as paints should I need them (she had gotten the idea from watching a session or two of our games with a new group of friends I had - one of which had brought over his case of painted miniatures).
In this multitude of unpainted leaden figures I had acquired a minotaur and it was this damned beast that had colored my impressions of the manbeast for many many years afterwards. It was thin, not quite emaciated, and had a battle axe held high in one hand, wearing some sort of ringmail armor and it was roaring. I had the "thin minotaur" in my head after that for a good decade or more until I had to come to the realization that the minotaur was most likely not only a bit smaller, but definitely a lot beefier and muscular. More bullish and bulllike.
I like minotaurs and don't get to use them too much which is a good thing. They don't speak common (why would talk the same language of that which you eat?) instead using a polygot of ogrish and orcish and some of their own tongue. They are brutal, deadly, hyperstrong, and I always play them as having a flat 100 hit points and the inability to die at 0 (instead "raging" until they hit -10).
And the party hit a group of 3 of them, one of which was a sorcerer who had a necromantic druid's head dangling from his left horn.
And to top it off, we had Pat Benetar's greatest hits playing in the background in homage to the mangled joke of Benetar/Minotaur.
Write up follows:
We checked out the top of both sets of stairs that went down to Stenthian Manbreaker, the minotaur and his minions, noting that both sets were seemingly the same – about 20’ of steps before the both turned back and out of sight. According to our two monkey minions, the steps went down to a big room, very long, and there was a wire across the floor after the last step that if you hit it, it would fire a sharp stick at you and make a big noise. Alright, crossbow warning trap. We also learned that the two rooms did connect in the back through a short hall. Also, the rooms were set up in such a way that they would echo the front to the back of the room and vice versa.
We did listen and could hear some voices, but they were too distorted to make out anything being said. What to do? We eventually decided on the need for more information. Using Soren’s wand, Detheron talked to King and asked the Carnivorous ape to go down into the Minotaur chamber, look around, and come back. The idea was that the Minotaurs would not know that King was not on their side anymore and should pay the ape no mind. King agreed and did so, returning only after a few minutes with some news.
The left side did indeed have Stenthian Manbreaker in it; the spell using Minotaur was in the back of the room talking to an armored orc in front of the portal. He had a severed head tied onto his left horn and dangling down which King let us know was the remains of someone who could talk to Frey. Hmmmm, druid’s head? Maybe reminiscent of the same thing that Costeval the Fat had going. There was another orc in there but he was a bit closer and seemed bored. As for the other Minotaurs, they were not there but King did hear them in the next chamber and there was still maybe 3 or 4 orcs unaccounted for.
It was time to put together a plan and we had to do it quick or risk being caught out here. Potions were handed about and spells were readied. Rahyk drank Norris’ potion of Stone Giant Strength, Guyus was hit with a strength spell, sanctuary and virtue was placed on Beren, a Bless spell was put into place and finally a silence spell was set on one of Soren’s arrows. We were ready.
Double timing down the stairs with Soren and Gwyn in the lead we made it to the base without being seen or heard and then Gwyn notched a Blessed bolt of Sutur into his crossbow, brought it up to the ready, a cyclone of super heated air flowed around behind him (silenced of course!) and then fired. Like the finger of god, the line of fire scoured across the chamber, destroying furniture and upsetting a huge pile of bones that was near the back end, before plowing into Stenthian and burning the Minotaur horribly. The flame line did not rebound though as expected, instead it passed into the portal and then disappeared on the other side!! Soren acted next, shooting his silenced arrow into Stenthian, followed by two more for good measure. Quiet now, the Minotaur and the druid’s head were unable to cast spells!
Digger and Pisser charged into the room assaulting the closest orc who seemed surprised at all of this, the suddenness of our assault enough to allow everyone else to get to the base of the stairs. The tripwire was tripped and the group started their assault on the chamber. A few orcs burst from the nearby corridor, firing at the party. Some of us took cover where able to and the first orc was already badly bleeding from the party’s attack. Detheron released both the albino apes to attack but had them avoid a headlong charge meanwhile Brother Beren dove behind the pile of skulls and bones as a makeshift cover.
Two orcs came from around the narrow corridor setting themselves up to take shots at the party. Our two shield bearers made it their business to form ranks and block the top of the stairs, weapons at the ready. Between Rahyk and Guyus and their enhanced strength, the 1st orc was hacked to bits. Stenthian grabbed one of the orcs closest to him and hurled the squealing figure into the portal. There was a flash; it turned from blue/green to red, and then a slightly burned 9’ tall strangely dressed purplish skinned ogre stormed out with a 4 count of stones flaring around his head. Stenthian ran towards the connecting corridor and disappeared from sight, taking the silence area with him.
The ogremage took a single look at the group and extended its hand firing a bolt of lightning at the party! It scoured into 5 of us raising sparks and filing the air with the stink of ozone. And then we heard a crash and coming out of the side corridor was another 1100 lbs or angry Minotaur. It lowered its horns and charged, mowing down the two apes and coming up short only after being hit by Rahyk and Guyus.
The fight was getting desperate and at this point Soren ordered Pisser to assault the ogremage. King, Kong, and Digger had all been pretty grievously wounded and started to charge forward and assault any enemy that was in sight or range. Our two fighters bent then superhuman strength against the closest Minotaur bearing the manbeast lower and lower with their blows. Gwyn made it his business to storm forward toward the ogremage, the dwarven fighter the least affected by the lightning attack. Agma and Soren kept up a steady hail of sling stones and arrows. From the top of the stairs we heard Jerold and Malak call out that someone was coming and most likely coming soon. Aghmar ran up the stairs to help, the mage coating the steps with a layer of magical grease.
The ogremage was having a frustrating time with Pisser digging at his ankles and then to his dismay, Rahyk threw his armor class to the wind and ran across the battlefield to slam his enchanted blade repeatedly at the ogremage’s side. King eventually joined the fight and Gwyn was there a moment later. Guyus was slamming out at one of the other orcs and now we were able to hear noises and chanting from the other room as the silence was either delayed or stopped or cancelled.
From the top of the stairs we heard the pounding feet of the 3rd Minotaur as he started coming down at the party but then slipped on the magical grease and tumbled to his ass, hitting the wall with a titanic “thwoom!”. And then Norris tossed his lit torch over the shieldbearers’ head and set the Minotaur and the grease he was lying in on fire.
The animals were biting and snarling and chewing and assaulting while our trio of Guyus, Rahyk, and Gwyn kept up the main battery of blows and battering, killing the last two orcs and eventually dropping the ogremage down. We raced into the next room where we beheld Stenthian (not as wounded as he was earlier), a closer bow wielding orc, and one further away with some fetishes on him. The battle was joined with sword and steel. Detheron and Soren began to move up slowly while Agma ran back up the stairs with Thodrek to help finish off the floundering Minotaur up there.
The further orc caused all the nearby torched to explode which burned a small part of the assaulting party, but it was the druid’s head dangling from Stenthian Manbreaker that caused a Flaming Sphere to appear and roll across the gathered party and animal companions, causing a further whittling of hit points. The Minotaur was dishing out what damage he could but was still surrounded by 5 or 6 of the group. The minotaur (affectionately referred to as “Pat” – as in Pat Minotaur) at the top of the stairs was badly faring and the other orc that had snuck up with him decided that the fight was going poorly and fled deeper into level seven instead.
Finally a deadly blow was struck against Stenthian – but the Minotaur refused to die!! The flaming Sphere hit the party again and magic missiles began to whistle about, hitting the group terribly. The spell casting orc was still working against us but it was the severed druid’s head that called up the latest terror for the group. We half expected a Flame Strike – but instead it was a choking, cloying, terrifying cloud of stinging, biting and burrowing insects.
Visibility immediately dropped to about 15’ as we tried to block and avoid the stinging terrors. The plague was so large that it filled up both room and went up the stairs as well. This many terrors caused all of our animal companions to run away in terror, followed also by Galf and Thodrek – the 6 of them running as far as they could to the only place they knew was safe – that was back across all the pits. Rahyk and Guyus hacked at the druid’s head and it was split in twain. We tried to find some safe haven from the bugs but it was almost impossible. Aghmar dropped a stinking cloud around the party still at the top of the stairs, the vapors more than enough to drive the bugs back for a short time. Detheron had a vermin barrier erected around himself and one by one, moved towards the other party members and gathered them up around him.
Eventually the apes, wolverine, war dog and our dwarven footman and porter calmed down and returned to the group while Detheron walked slowly about the chamber and we gathered up bits of obvious treasure before hiding behind the door near the pits. We were shot, exhausted, and very bad off. Little was left in our “tanks” so to speak and what little precious healing we had left was doled out as well as a handful of potions. But the feeling was that the battle went very well and we had a good plan.
It took over an hour and a half for the insect plague to dissipate and then we could gather around what we found and see what was available for us. Through a number of detection spells we found a decent sized box with a seal on it that was magical, the ioun stones that were around the ogremage, and a large cache of coins. The ioun stones were given out (one helped dexterity, charisma, protection, and one absorbed all spells up to 4th level for a time!). Norris opted to open the sealed box and when he did there was an inrushing of wind around him and the box seemed to glow from within – the light very bright and then dimming out to nothing. Odd, what was it? Inside was only ash.
It was right after that that he realized that ALL of his magic had been sucked away. Everything he owned was no longer magic – just normal and inert. Damn it!!!
We went over our options. At some point another conversation was had with King and Kong, the two carnivorous apes filling in a bit more information for us. The area beyond the Minotaurs was a tiled floor, have to step on the yellow tiles or crossbow bolts shoot you. Past there was either a spinning corridor that could set you on fire or some sleeping chamber with a tall ceiling where a two headed figure was known to stay. Past that guy was a room with golden globes on the ceiling – and according to what we had learned from the oracle before we had left on this mission, was where the Sun Sphere was.
Weary but determined to press on so close to our goal, we drew up into marching order, bounced some equipment around, and readied our weapons and equipment. We snuck out of the door beyond the pits and there were still insects around, but very few of them and they were not acting as a cohesive group anymore. We walked on past the two sets of stairs and stopped at the next room. Fairly large, there was a table on the far end with a small pile of gems and jewelry, the left side had 6 heavy crossbows with rapid fire boxes affixed to them, the right side had an opening near here and out, the floor was a random cascade of green, blue, red, and yellow tiles. We did note that most of the yellow tiles were NOT near the crossbows.
Gwyn REALLY wanted a rapid fire box and some thought was given on how to get it. For now though we wanted to check out the way out of the room. We tested a yellow tile with Gwyn’s 7’ pole and…nothing happened. When we tested a blue tile though we were surprised to see ALL the crossbows aim at the area around the tile we touched and SIX bolts fly out and hit the far wall. Ok, not so good. We did get a bit ballsy and tried out all the tiles, until after 6 steps on other tiles, the crossbows were dry firing.
For a moment we felt it was all peaches and cream for us when we heard some heavy stepping in the hall beyond and we got ourselves ready, surprised to see a crude 10’ tall stone and steel form of a humanoid stomp into the room with a large crate in its arms. It walked up to each crossbow, reloaded it, and after doing all 6 it turned and stomped out and back down the hall. It ignored the group entirely. A golem of some sort. We decided NOT to refire all the tiles again and instead one by one crossed to the exit (ignoring the gems that we now felt might be fake) and into the hall.
It was not too long, maybe 50’ total, and at the end turned to the left. However at that juncture there was a depression in the outside corner and standing there with its box in both arms, was the crude stone and steel golem like figure…just motionless. That’s where we ended it roughly 3:30/4:00 as far as our characters were concerned.