The PCs are level 4 now, and they came to the table with new higher ability scores and fitted out with new feats. I seem to remember level 4 being a blah level in previous editions, and now it was definitely improved by the ability increases, which helped many characters get an extra + here or there. And the level 4 feat is often the first time a character can branch out from the “must haves” of the beginning levels, and by 4th are beginning to really become unique in their own ways. It was interesting to see the choices our party made in the feat selections.
One of the more interesting feat choices was made by the Seeker, who multi-classed into Spirit Talker, and gained the Shaman’s Spirit Companion. This elf, Poppy, is from a small elven community steeped in fey magic, and she wants Poppy to be as mystical and magical as possible. Between her new spirit companion and her magic items, which include a Cape of the Mountebank and Hedge Wizard gloves, she is now wielding some wicked whimsy. Another good choice of feats was for the druid, who between pouncing into the middle of melee and then wanting to blow the place up with flame seed, she needs some protection from Opportunity attacks, which she received through a feat that gives her +4 to AC versus opportunity attacks. Now she can leap into combat and toss her flame seeds with the best of them. Like Johnny Appleseed she is Felipe Flame-seed: tearing it up and burning it down. The other PCs took feats that enhanced their current abilities in various ways. For a moment, Thokk the half-orc barbarian considered taking Battlemind multi-class, which provokes a hilarious image of the brute pausing in the middle of his crimson carnage to put a finger to his brow and unleash a mental blast. Thankfully, he chose a combat feat instead.
So the characters were pimped up and ready to go. However, there was one catch. Technically they should not have been able to level at all, since they were in the middle of an encounter, but I didn’t want to pause them game to level after the encounter, nor did I want to make them wait a whole week before finally attaining 4th level. Last week they were ambushed by the Shadow Panther Lady as this encounter was starting, just as the skeletal trap was sprung. However, as the Shadowfell descended over the scene, the skeletal legion encounter was stopped, as time was affected, and the Panther Lady unleashed her attack. Defeated, the shadowfell departed, restoring the party to the beginning of the encounter with the Skeletons at last, bloodied and winded with no time for a rest between combats. So it was ruled that they could level up, but they would still be down any HPs and powers that they had expended in the last encounter, which was most dailies. They did, however, all get an action point out of the deal, and the combat wasnt too brutal. Ok maybe it was.
The party were cowering at the far end of the hallway when the encounter began so long ago, but there was much movement during the battle of the Shadow Panther Lady, so that when the veil was lifted and they stood once again with the skeletal legion, their placement was changed to reflect any movement during the previous encounter. This placed most of the PCs at the far end of the chamber, except for the druid and the seeker who were caught amongst the many minions. The battle was made up of 8 skeletal minions, with 8 more appearing each round from the sarcophagi, 2 skeletal warriors, and at the end of the hall in front of the double doors to Keegan’s chamber, an enormous bonecrusher skeleton wielding a great club made from the thigh-bone of an even greater skeleton. A total of 24 minions eventually joined the combat before the trap was circumvented, making the encounter worth 1200 exp, a level 6 encounter. For a group of 4 PCs (the genasi barbarian was on a hot date) of 4th level with a 3rd level companion character; also the 4th encounter since an extended rest, this seemed about right. The battle was tense, but not agonizing. A few PCs were bloodied, and needed to have some emergency first aid, but no one dropped.
And so the fight began, ad the bones started flying fast. The druid was taking out minions as fast as they came, while Poppy and Tara concentrated on the Skeletal warriors and Thokk, never quailing from engaging the biggest foe on the field, stepped up to the bonecrusher. By round 3, Felipe, Tara and Thokk were in need of healing, and Stella Luna rushed forward to provide it. Felipe was holding off the minions, and even had an incredible ability that did auto-damage when he was hit by a melee attack. This resulted in many minions rushing forward only to explode against him. Luckily, they got their 4 points of damage in before being destroyed, so Felipe was steadily going down in HPs. Actually so many skeletons missed against Felipe, my dice we behaving very badly.
One of the skeletal warriors found an opening and charged Poppy, but rolling a natural 1, fell prone at her feet. (I should write an article on our groups evolving usage of critcal hits (natural 20s) and penalty rolls or critical fumbles (nat. 1s) Anyhow, it was soon her turn to retaliate, and she wanted to nail his skull to the ground with an arrow. This led to all kinds of controversy as we sussed out the prone rules, the opportunity rules, and the shifting rules. Finally it boiled down to Poppy accepting the opportunity attack from the prone skeleton he swept his longsword at her ankles, then she nailed his head to the floor.
By round 4, Tara, Stella, and Poppy were all behind one of the alters to Bahamut while Thokk held off the bonecrusher, and Felipe could be heard laughing maniacally behind a curtain of flames and bursting bones. Then Stella Luna was able to read the prayer on the alter due to a great religion check, even though she (nor anyone else in the party) knew draconic. The 10 sarcophagi had been described as having a green, necrotic glow surrounding the armored corpse within, and a new skeletal warrior stepped out of that corpse at the end of their turn. Once the prayer was read, the glow faded and no more minions emerged. The crisis had past, and the reaving was soon done. The dusty, empty chamber of a few moments before was now hip deep in the shards of broken bone fragments.
They immediately collapsed into exhaustion an began a short rest. In the middle of that rest, they heard a commotion from the hallways through which they had passed earlier. Thokk wet to investigate and saw a large number of hobgoblins pass by, heading upwards and outwards. The PCs remained unnoticed.
When they awoke, they entered into Sir Keegans chamber. Each PC had a coffee in one hand, and their weapon in the other. The scent of a bacon and egg breakfast wafted through the dank burial chamber, and a refreshed party met with Keegan and parleyed for a bit. So began a skill challenge to convince Sir Keegan that they were not tomb robbers and that they were sincere in wanting to close the rift. he was convinced of their sincerity, and called on the barbarian to show him an example of his battle-prowess. Impressed by a high athletics check (and the final skill check of the challenge) Sir Keegan bestowed his longsword, Aecris, upon the half orc, hilt first. When Thokk grabbed it, somewhat underwhelmed at the puniness of the blade, he was surprised to see it transform into a great axe. Then Sir Keegan told his story, and answered a few questions, though he had no idea who was in the dungeon, having just awoken. When asked where the shadow rift lay, he replied at the deepest level of the dungeon.
They vowed to do all they could and proceeded to delve deeper into the dungeon. The guardroom at the base of the stairs leading into the 2nd level was abandoned. Using dungeoneering the party was able to navigate quickly to the room with the titan statue in it. The door slammed shut, trapping Thokk and Tara on the inside of the room as the titan groaned into animation and it was 10 o’clock, another session ended, this one on a real cliff-hanger.