Escape from the dungeon.
Sometimes its a general walk out, other times its a run for your lives, and once in a while, its a pitched fight. And that's what the party fell to.
They left a level and a half of enemies at their back in their quest to the 7th level - and in their "passing", the enemy was given the heads up of the party, some of their strengths, and told what to look for and how to arrange it to be the most difficult to take the group down.
4 sites were originally figured: the first was foiled as the guards did not notice the group and were surprised and overrun (orcsish archers), the 2nd was even as the kobolds knew of the group and the group knew of the kobolds (the owlbear and giant frogs and green slime were enchancements), it was the 3rd site: 28 orcs with liuetenants, defensible positions, ballistas, crossbows, and a demonic cat that the party had an issue with.
I knew it was going to be difficult for the group and was hoping to lure a single person or two away - in this case I ended up bagging the party leader, the elven ranger. And through a series of bad negotiations and poor reaction checks, I ended up killing.
I don't like doing that to players but it did happen and the group chucked it into high gear and raced on for the exit.
Write up follows:
We queued up and returned to our long walk across the perimeter of the 5th level in our trek out of Double Dagger Dungeon. We refilled Agma’s lantern with our dwindling stock of oils and pressed on. At the end of the hall we came to a door that would lead up back to the main “choice” room and the party stopped, giving the portal a good listen. And we heard voices, kobold, on the other side.
Hmmm, they were originally on the 3rd level, and now they were here. Were they ready for us? Warned somehow? We don’t know what went on during the 2-3 hours that Stenthian Manbreaker the Minotaur and his troupe had marched about. It was very possible that the kobolds were set in place assuming we tried to leave.
Some of our fighters were brought near the front and we readied weapons and spells and then charged in on the assault. There were 9 or so kobolds in here armed with javelins and atlatls, 2 giant frogs, and in the halls beyond were 3 sets of 3 kobolds armed with spinning slings. And not too far away were other kobolds and the fecundic odor of an owlbear. One of the kobolds was fairly well armored and had his arms behind his back. Rahyk targeted that one and him and Guyus charged in.
A few stones were shot to no real effect and the battle was joined. Swords hit and kobolds fell. The leader absorbed most of Rahyk’s attack and then retaliated, his hands actually black and red demonic looking claws that seemed to hit a lot harder than expected. Norris charged in, flanking the leader. Frog’s tongue hit Rahyk who loped it off. Digger hit the nearest frog, Pisser charging to the right to tackle 3 of the kobolds. Arrows were shot and the room became crowded as we filled the empty spaces. Hammerhand and the other 3 pseudo-undead were told NOT to attack in the fight and to just wait.
Most stones were shot and Norris was knocked down. A few kobolds in the back did not toss stones, but instead fired green slime filled vials. One hit Beren’s shield, one hit the side wall, one hit King. The owlbear tore into the carnivorous ape and Kong was assaulted by javelin sporting kobolds. Detheron shoved Heimdall’s Bulwark into his ape’s side, bringing King back up and staving off the green slime assault briefly.
Beren was trying to shake off the shield and drag Norris back when he was knocked down, the bard barely missing getting slime on him. Some frantic tugging released his arm from the shield and he kicked it away. Pisser tore one of the kobolds to shreds and hit the next one. One of the frogs was dead, the other badly hurt. More javelins and stones flew. Guyus hit three of the kobolds at once, taking two of them down and driving the 3rd one back. Rahyk was having some difficulty with the leader who was soaking up damage heavily. Gwyn swapped to his hydraspear and joined the fight against the leader.
With a groan the leader went down but his demonic hands disengaged from his forearms and continued their assault, causing Soren, Gwyn, and Rahyk to jump about and try to end the fight. The kobolds were fading in groups of one and two and a few started to run away, Pisser giving chase to one of them. Detheron kept pumping charges into King who finally was getting the better of the owlbear who was ALSO suffering from the green slime.
One of the hands was “slain” and it exploded, hurting everyone around it which also killed the other hand, which also exploded and killed everyone around that. At this point the last of the kobolds was taken down the owlbear was killed and we backed away, dragging our hurt and wounded into the side room where the green slime was set ablaze and we stayed behind the closed door and took care of our many wounds. King was cleaned of the slime and we took stock.
Once satisfied we pocketed what coin we could find, reloaded on stones and bullets and javelins, and went off towards the stairs to the 4th level.
Carefully we walked around, noting a few changes. The main door was forced open and the hinges were beaten, preventing the door from closing again. Also as we walked around we could not find Gustuv where we had hidden him. The big half ogre and his great sword, Ragnarok, was missing. Lovely. We came to the end of the level and saw the other main door had been treated the same: forced open and hinges beaten.
It was as we were getting ready to get out of the 4th and go to the 3rd that we talked. We had bypassed the entire level 3 and most of the 2nd level before – leaving untold number of orcs and kobolds there. The same creatures that most likely know of us and our possible return. Soren volunteered to go up the stairs to the 3rd level and listen. He placed his ear against the door and the door opened and a bag was tossed over his head, cinched tight, and truncheons were hit on his skull – knocking him out.
The rest of us heard nothing. It was after 5 minutes that we took a look – no Soren. We gathered together and drew out a quick map of what we had seen of the level and carefully we opened the door. To our left we had the stairs going right up to the 2nd level and beyond this turn off we saw the main guard room, now empty of most furnishings except for a few dumped over stools and a smattering of cards and dice. Two long tables had been set up sideways, blocking the 2 exits from the room. Behind one was a ballista and behind the other was a crossbow wielding orc.
It was possible to avoid the orcs and sneak up the stairs – but no Soren was seen. Some parlaying commenced. The orcs seemed to know who we were and wanted us to leave. We had taken out Costeval the Fat and Stenthian, so they had our leader in return. We were told to go and never return. We wanted proof they had Soren so a few moments passed and his boot was flung into the room – with the elven ranger’s foot falling out of it. Someone did comment that it could have been anyone’s foot but was quickly sushed.
There was a mix of getting ready and getting out of here, with the party spreading out for a frontal assault. Detheron commented that the ballista was the biggest threat and was going to target both tables/corner of the room with a Flame Strike. More comments were tossed and the orcs wanted us to leave. We were stalling for time and Soren’s hand was flung out next. Fuck. Another joke went on with that we were helping Soren escape one piece at a time. It did not go over well.
Finally at the end of things, hoping we could still parlay, the unseen orcish speaker grew wroth and there was a sudden scream followed by a thunk – and Soren’s head was thrown towards us. Detheron stepped into the area, accepting that he might get hit, took aim at the corner of the room and called down a flame strike spell – which went off JUST before the lone crossbow bolt hit the druid in the chest.
Hitting him with a Magic Killer bolt. Which turned off all of the druid’s active spells – including his connecting to Frey…and his connection to his three animals. The three druid touched animals that now believed he was dead. The 3 animals that berserked in the hall and tore into the party. King beat Brother Beren from behind, the albino ape rending the cleric horribly and then tearing his left arm off at the elbow and beating his to death with it. Blam – Brother Beren down to -7 and missing his left arm.
Kong assaulted the group and Peter the spider jumped on Digger and tried to poison the wolverine. Detheron was struggling back against the wall, howling in pain and trying to keep the bolt from jiggling in his chest. The flame strike destroyed the ballista and the 2 orcs in the area, the sound of divine flames and fury ripping across the chamber. The party was too spread out and disorganized for this and a number of the group yelled for the undead dwarf Hammerhand, to help.
The dwarf took off his great axe and laid into Kong, knocking the ape off of Guyus and then cleaving its skull open. With a backhanded swing he dispatched the giant spider from Digger and scrambled forward. Meanwhile King caught sight of Detheron and stopped its attack, VERY puzzled as to what was going on. Detheron was hissing at the group NOT to attack his ape, and with a crazed pull, tore the magic killing arrow from his gut and tossed it away. His connection with King was reestablished immediately, but his spells were all still gone for now (although he could sense Frey was still with him).
Guyus opted to stand ground and act as rearguard, Gwyn, Jerold, and Malak standing with the paladin. Rahyk and Norris took point and proceeded to lead the party out towards the entrance. Hammerhand picked up the fallen cleric who had been given a quick stabilizing healing, and we ran on while the orcs were gathering their strength to attack.
At the top of the stairs Rahyk lead the way with Norris’ help, picking our way through corridors back towards where the Six Pints of Blood bandits had once roosted (along with the Maker). A few orcs saw us and fired bolts our way. The call to Guyus to “get his ass up here” and hold these new orcs at bay was yelled back and the party snaked their way towards the end of level 2. The room where the orcs were we heard a trundling and a cask of oil was rolled towards us – breaking open and spilling oil across a spreading expanse of the dungeon floor.
At the end of the hall there was a shimmering screen in front of the room and Rahyk did not want to pass through it. Norris said that it was the left over illusion from before and stepped through first to show it was harmless – but the bard was wrong and his body broke the death ward and the half-elf was dropped to 0 hit points and killed. Rahyk roared for “someone’s who’s been here to help us out of this damned place! To come up here and guide him!” and Agma came forward. Norris was too heavy to carry for her and she led Rahyk towards the stair to level 1.
We followed the fighter and the Halfling with jogging steps as they made the stairs, eventually Detheron helped Norris with a quick healing potion, and we made the top of the dungeon level. Rahyk was directed left and we stopped at a door. We knew we had to go left through the door and then it was a jump to the steps and out. A last ditch of low level orcs tried to bar our way but the party hit them like a hammer against anvil and we made our way to the surface and out of Double Dagger Dungeon.
We stopped briefly to check on Norris (stable) and Brother Beren (stump bound and breathing but unconscious). Our dwindling supply of potions was drunk and we talked about what to do. It was 7:40 at night, dark, raining, and we were in troll infested mountains at least 2-3 days from any civilization. The group was inspired to head to Fulgore Keep which we knew was only about 2 or so hours from here.
So we walked through the dark, relying on our damp map, the faint trails on the ground, and the flashes of lightning to guide us to the keep and keep us clear of the trolls that haunted the Dusty Mountains.