Afternoon turned to dusk on another Wednesday, and the dungeon beneath Game Cafe began to stir with life once again. There were five giant green tables lined up like sarcophagi in an ancient tomb. Decorations of fantastic nature covered the walls. Soon the tramp of many feet brought crowds to gather about those tables and the air became thick with the riotous battles taking place. So began week five of Undermountain, another packed house, with five dm’s, and another packed house.
Down by two characters, the doughty dragonborne and divine deva, who decided to stay in the spiral staircase for awhile “We’ve got your back!” (We hope that Roy and Dana can make a quick return to the game!) the party must face the challenges of the inner chambers of Halaster’s Lost Apprentice with merely six adventurers. There was the drow assasin Vishnu, the halfling sorceress Midge, the genasi swordmage Hax (alot), the human (-sh) ardent KantASH!, half-elf barttlemind Tordak the Bold, and human thug …uhhh Eddie. Oh yes, Stilgar desert-walker. These brave lads and lasses, trapped from escaping by a tunnel collapse, chose to press on!
And so they entered the chambers of the apprentice, and discovered its magical nature. A magic mouth spoke in some strange voice warning them of danger, and the party began snooping and poking about with many skill checks, and had soon picked the area clean of anything of value. which led to the assassin peeking through the slightly ajar door into the bedchamber. Soon the party had lined up in marching order and the swordmage kicked the door open. This led to the… how to describe it, the macabre scene taking place on the torn up bed in one corner of the room. The official description reads thusly:
AS you enter, cold seeps across your skin as you see two shadowy forms on the bed: one a lithe female composed of blue mist, lying beneath a formless creature of black smoke. At first, they appear to be romantically embracing, but then it becomes clear that the female ghost is struggling to escape while the other seems to be drawing her essence into itself – feeding on her.
Aside – I had trouble reading this aloud. Was I describing what I thought I was describing? Is this ghost-f@&#king?? Is this non-consensual ghost-f%$#king??? For some reason, the true meanaing of that text eluded me until I actually began to read it aloud. Naturally I was trying to paint a visual image, as I always do when describing a scene or location, and as I read on, my improvisational moves and voices and descriptive additions became more and more erratic. Then, as the paragraph ended, and we were told of it actually NOT being what we though it was (ghost-f***king) but that the black ghost was sucking the life force out of the blue ghost. It was imagery that helped resolve the scene, and someone Dave or Jenna perhaps, mentioned that the essence was being sucked out like the Dementors in Harry Potter. Ah yes, that is exactly what was happening, just a little “romantic embrace” while soul-sucking. We need a Patronus here.
This event provoked the battlemind to charge forward in outrage to the bedside as a free action before rolling initiative. As he approached he saw the black thing hiss and retreat out of the chamber, leaving marks in blood on the wall behind. The blue ghost(ess) collapsed into the tattered mattress and soon faded away.
Then – rats, rats, rats everywhere! And a homunculus! Small rats medium rats and giant rats, and a clay scout homunculus. And they came in waves, oh how they came in swarms and hordes from all sides. Squeaking and squealing and hungry and bearing their dagger-fangs The large size of the party drew even more giant rats until they were nearly surrounded by these ferocious rodents of unusual size. Their staggered initiative, and the fact that they began in concealed locations (including openings in walls) meant that during the first round of combat more rats and more rats and more rats (and a homunculus!) kept appearing until that tiny chamber was nearly full. Tordak was surrounded. They boiled out of the walls and under the bed and he was bloodied quickly, striving to defend himself. But he never gave up, and though he was knocked unconscious, he was soon back on his feet and by battle’s end took an incredible 45 points of damage. He received his moment of greatness badge, and I hope to give out one a week for the best move of the night until all PCs have had one. This is the second or third one so far.
The party had a difficult fight ahead of them, as they had no area affect or burst attacks. They had to cut them down one by one. The sorceress, out of harms way in the hallway, unleashed a barrage of lightning bolts that steadily depleted the rat population. The ardent Kantash strode forward and struck rats with his pole-axe right and left. He clove a path of rat pelts to the fallen battlemind, and inspired the warrior to rise again, healed. Then he went on to cleave more pelts, and heal more too. The rogue Stilgar soon found combat advantage and struck against a dire rat but he was too close to the rat swarm and took much damage from their swarming attacks.
The humunculus remained hidden until the start of round 2, when he unleashed a flank attack against the assassin, then flew up into the corner of the room. It turned out to be a bad move, as on the assassin’s turn he roasted him single-handedly, even while dazed, by spending an action point to hit him with two big attacks. The clay scout fell crumbling down to the ground, destroyed by the sweeping shadowblade of Vishnu. A flurry of attacks took place as the PCs tried to focus on the two sturdy dire rats while avoiding the rat swarm. The dire rats soon fell, blasted apart by lightning bolts, by Stilgar’s bludgeoning sneak-attack, and the mad attacks of the Ardent.
Minions had been steadily dropping by one or two each round until only one stood, my indomitable R-2 unit I stole from my son’s Star Wars mini. (He tells me it is actually an r$ droid).What can I say, he brings me luck, and sometimes nothing else will do, but most of the time its just that I need something small. This lil bugger of a minion was incredibly tough: he had been targeted every round of battle, and was the last enemy standing – only to be finally slain while making a kamikaze rush past the party.
Another battle won. Dead rats lay everywhere, in fact the floor was slick with the matted blood and fur of the hundreds of verminous corpses piling up in the room. (Thanks to the tweeter we have at the table, we try to incorporate the official tweets of Wizards during the event.) In better circumstances a rat-tossing contest might occur, or even a rat-bag fight (much like a pillow-fight, except fought with the bloated corpses of rats of all sizes great and small) but at least now the party knew they wouldn’t starve. Could one warm a cup of rat-stew over those blue-flaming candles, one wonders…
Anyhow, the night was won, the rooms were searched, the corpses looted (makes nice under-garments) and the treasures were gathered up. Healing surges were surged, using the “5-minute rest encounter” trick of getting the 1d6 healer bonus. I just had them add 3, and we were done.
It was another fantastic night, with a fantastic group of players, a fantastic venue, and and a fantastic D&D Experience. Can’t wait until next week.