Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Unusual D&D Session

Saturday saw our party of 6 long-time adventurers once again in the unknown. The main story arc has been going on almost since the start of the campaign 3 years ago. Sometimes it feels like we are no closer to solving it now than we were then. Our situation involves a group of local cities and towns, werewolves taking over various positions of power, a strange cult planting operatives and consecrating temples, and a lot of people dying.

Our treasure finder1 was contacted by a local treasure finder guild. They had been aware of suspicious activity in the area for some time, but were unwilling to take action. When they saw us investigating, they told us of an ancient ruins in the woods where people would meet. They secretly guided us to it.

It turned out to be an old Elven temple that had long ago crumbled. Beneath the mound of collapsed columns, however, there was quite an extensive dungeon. The initial set of chambers yielded a gate trap and a couple dozen skeletal guards, some of which were wrapped with muscular tissue. Killing them--which was exceedingly difficult--only seemed to pass their powers on to the neighboring beast. In other words, we had to kill the easy ones first. The party's overall offensive capabilities were enhanced by the use of several sorcerer Fireballs and clerical Turns.

Raising the bars let us into 3 ancient and desecrated temple chambers. Behind one altar, we discovered a hidden stone panel which revealed a long-descending stairway. Having exhausted ourselves in the previous battle, we decided to make for the surface and setup camp.

Now, as usually happens in D&D, the bad guys get surprise, and the bad guys are in the dark shooting at the party in the light. In this case, the tables were turned! Our fire-less camp set into the trees on the edge of the clearing kept us hidden from the 20-odd men spotted by our watch. They were mingling around the mound talking. Some were obviously of the magical sort, and others were obviously guarding them. One in particular was being guarded more carefully. They wielded the barbed blades often accompanying the enemy we have encountered.

We whispered our plans as we carefully put ourselves into attack position. We decided initially not to use anything that would give away our location, so I refrained from magic, and set my crossbow. Three, two, one. Arrows flew from the darkness impaling the supposed leader. One! Two! Three! Four! Five! He was one tough spellcaster, if that's what he was. I dubbed him: Boromir. Six! Down he went.

The soldiers started fanning out. Our Ranger used a Wand of Entangle. This kept about half of the men, including all of the robes ones, in place for now. Another round of arrows dropped several more guards, but now they knew which direction we were in. I switched to Magic Missiles. The Cleric cast Enchanted Weapon. The Dwarf switched to his axe and charged.

About 30 seconds later, the entire group lay dead, the party stunned with success. And then it happened. The words you do not utter in the presence of the DM. Someone asked, "Did anyone take any damage?" The DM happens to be my brother. He noted the passive-aggressive taunt with a smirk, but he is not one to change anything in his campaign to make it more difficult because of something like this. Still, the karma was in place...

In the morning, we ventured back to the hidden door and continued down. We found ourselves in a medium-sized room with a statue in each corner. Bow-wielding guards appeared behind the two farther corners and began shooting. We quickly split up. Then some kind of spellcaster appeared (out of thin air!) along with a large animated stone creature.

The two guards proved easy to kill, the magician much more difficult, and the stone beast impossible! It seemed unaffected by arrows, axes, magical weapons, magical spells of fire and cold. In short, we had no way to even hurt the thing. I began to retreat from the room after seeing how much damage it was doing with a single blow. The rest of the party, having a renewed sense of invulnerability from the previous evening's fun decided to stay and have it out.

It was touch and go for a long time. We had two characters near death only to be revived by potions or our Cleric's ranged healing spells (he has a ring). By the time they decided they must retreat, one character was dead, and the party was split between two hallways by the stone beast's long reach (Attacks of Opportunity are very poorly designed in D&D).

The Paladin sacrificed himself so that we could get the dead body out. The beast chased him. His best option was to duck into a room through a door too small for the beast to follow. Unfortunately, this room contained more spellcasters. The Paladin slammed the door shut and quickly summed his warhorse. His only chance now was to gallop past the emerging men and the beast, and pray to survive all the attacks. His horse collapsed from the first hit, and the Paladin from the second.

The session closed as we were dragging the fallen Dwarf up the stairs.

1 We have a Paladin in the party.


At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Linnaeus said...

"Sometimes it feels like we are no closer to solving it now than we were then."

One of the things that originally hooked me on Martin Ralya's Treasure Tables blog was his post Lead With the Cool Stuff. It nicely circumvents this syndrome.

And don't get me started on Attacks of Opportunity. They are a blight on the otherwise fine (if not for everyone) design of D&D 3.x

At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Universal Head said...

Ahhh, memories of the old AD&D days. Always a good bash. Later we moved onto Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which is far less combat-oriented. I'll never forget the surprise on the face of one of my players when a bar-room brawl left him with a broken hip!

At 3:05 PM, Blogger ekted said...

Linnaeus: We've actually done lots of cool stuff. There's plenty of episodic content to the campaign. The larger story arc just carries us from place to place. My complaint was just from my own point of view as I am a "big picture" kind of person: iNtj.



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