I get to record a new achievement for this session. Never before have I Dm’ed for the vast number of players present – 11 total, but it might have been 12. Two more were added to the game: JW returned to the group after a long hiatus (he last played with us when we were 5th level – in our 3rd Edition game!) He brought with him his friend Carrie, who was big into dragons but had never played the game before. Welcome to the dungeon.
Aside: I have some recent experience playing with large groups. In the DnD Encounters program it was always hit or miss, and I often played with 7-8 as my average number of players. I have discovered a number of ways to keep the game fun and exciting while playing for large groups, and much of it depends on being able to perform as though for an audience. It is almost impossible to have everyone’s attention at once, but almost always will the dm of a large group have some ones attention. Therefore, it is important to be always talking, describing, or even doing funny faces or other body motions. And for the DM, the opposite is true, it is almost impossible to pay attention to everyone at once, so the best thing to do is to constantly flit, like a butterfly in a daisy field, from one person or group to the next. I describe this act as juggling. The one other important factor that must always be kept in mind, even to the extent of breaking the above mentioned, is that the game must go on. It must move forward as fast as possible without causing disruption andd without causing anyone to miss out on anything. That is the balance.
Now in tonights session, we spent 3 hours playing what in game time represented less than one minute. But it was one intense, epic moment, this battle in the Elven market garden. The party had just entered the chamber, snuck around the edges, and unleashed a surprise attack on the slumbering mushrooms. Meanwhile, activity was brewing above.It seems there was a bull man and a dragon lady wandering the wastes of Dark Sun. They had heard rumours of an old city, long buried under the sand, newly arisen. As they wandered deeper into the depths of the desolate desert wastelands they came across the city. In the midst of a wide ring of petrified forest it lay, a landscape of half buried temples and empty-eyed buildings. The largest standing building was the Sabratha Coliseum on the southern edge, and as the city came to life, the arena was its center. An encampment of wild adventurers, treasure hunters, and entrepeneurs had grown up outside the arena, and into he midst of this raucous frontier camp the two stumbled, worn out from their long journey. A wagon nearby was set up for cooking, and they purchased bowls of gruel and found a place to spread their mats. Dexter the brawling minotaur felt a rumbling in the sand beneath their mats, and the dragonborn sorceress Maya suddenly jumped up and exclaimed I sense magic! At that moment the sand opened up beneath their feet dropping them through a sand chute to land in a strange subterranean grotto filed with large mushrooms and the sound of clashing steel and blasting spells.
At just that moment,the champions of the white rose had unleashed an attack that blew up a gas bag. It jetted towards the roof of the chamber as it exploded, unleashing a wave of sand and a couple of unfortunate souls from above. The minotaur stood up and shook off the sands just as one of the gas bags floated past. The roots trailed along brushing the fine network of rots and vines that covered the floor and evan crawled up the walls to form a canopy over their heads. Needless to say, the minotaur didnt think twice before punching his fist through it, causing another explosion of acid globules. Behind him the sorceress unleashed a globe of electrified purple lightning that singed the mushroom man rising in anger before her.
On the other side of the room the halfling Kina suddenly grew to twice her size, shedding bits of plate armor like crawling out of her old skin and into her new: a human cleric named Ria. She tossed her healing into every corner of the room, but even such a radiant soul as her had trouble keeping up with the heals for 11.
The halfling sorceress Midgit finally caught up with the rest of the party with Sharia, and together they ran into the room, Sharia to the far end of the chamber to help secure their exit, while Midgit, with the courage of a halfling, tossed her spells into the nearest foes as she fought for a chance to loot one of the elven tombs. Hex took the left side of the chamber and after cleaning the area of gas bags, found himself face to face with a pair of the mushroom men. It took all his effort to beat them off until finally with a mighty hew, he stalk chopped the foul fungi. As the creture died, so did the roots around him, blackening and curling up the wall and overhead to unleash an avalanhe of sand which struck with enough force to knock Hex to his knees.
The chamber was covered in a layer of roots and vines, through which the myconids moved and could even transfer some of the damage from an injury. They used this tactic to send their globes of acid spores forward and unleash their explosive fury. Into the vines of the ceiling were woven the skeletons of elves. (You could tell they were elven skeletons by the pointed ears duh.) Suddenly, a whispered chuckling was heard, and one of the skeletons fell from the ceiling, with vines tied to its limbs and also tying a huge jagged-bladed great axe into its hands. The skeleton was no threat on its own, but somehow it was controlled by the vines and danced on the end of them like a wicked marionette, slashing at Kindroks back with the axe. Kindrok knocked it to the ground and another one droipped down the next moment, this one holding a vicious bladed spear which it stabbed into Midget even as she was reviving the swordlock Hex.
He was saved with team effort. In the middle of Felipe pouncing on the big plant in the center of the chamber, the feral druid tossed the halfing a healing fruit, and the sorceress fed it to Hex, reviving him. Felipe slashed at the mushroom boss and knocked him off the raised platform that was his throne and into the dust. The myconid lord retaliated with a cloud of spores that damaged everyone nearby, as it was surrounded, but it was beaten into a fibrous mash eventually. When the plan went down, another section of the roof collapsed under the blackening roots, knocking many prone and damaging them with the force. Sand continued to drain through the holes in the vegetable netting overhead.
The wizard Navara had played it safe so far, back near the entry, but as she bagan to move through the room, casting magic missile from her fingertips with each flick of her wrist, she was stabbed from behind by a third skeleton marionette. This one held rusty daggers and the wizard was injured, but had presence of mind to turn and blast the thing to holy hell before it got a second hit on her.
Many of the myconids had been slain by this point, and the ceiling was giving way across much of the chamber. The party realized that they would need to exit the chamber before long, and they guessed that when the last myconid was slain, the chamber would collapse. This caused difficult choices to be made, since they had discovered much treasure. Ecah of the tents held an elf skeletons. Most of them had a seated skeleton hunched over an overflowing bag of gold. Midget discovered by casting a lightning bolt at the skeleton, that if the skeleton or gold was disturbed, it would explode, destroying the gold and injuring anyone nearby. By grabbing the bag, they could hope to rescue half the gold, or with an acrobatics check, they could scoop out 3/4 of the gold, if they dared suffer the explosive bones. They did, every time, without fail. Here are the gold totals for those interested.
Ok, so I am looking at the notes, and I wrote the totals gathered, but not the names of who gathered them. I am going to guess here based on my memory of who had their hands up when I asked who got gold.
500 – Midgit maybe?
500 – Ria, the first to brave the flames
1500 – Kindrock or Navara
750 – Thokk
1500 – Felipe
Magic Ring – Maya
Magic Ring – Midgit
Black Skull – Hex
… but I could be wrong.
Back to the story. Midget and Maya discovered something different in the tombs they went into. Rather than bags of gold, they found skeletons laying on mats, and each of them had a magic ring on his finger. They blew up as well, and the two of them had to suffer even worse, by reaching their hand in to pluck out the ring from the blazing bones after the skeletons explosion. Finally, Ria found a tent unlike the others. It was an apothecary and contained all manner of jars and potions on a worktable. She determined one of them was rigged to explode, and managed to grab three bottles without setting off the trap.
Just s the fight was coming to a close, they discovered the cause of the traps and chuckling. A devious blue gremlin was capering around the back of the chamber. Nearly invisible and uncatchable, he scampered around stabbing people with his knives, then darting into invisibility. This worked until he got to the minotaur. Dexter grabbed him, and even iunvisible, the bull man was able to wrap his fingers around its neck, and he never let go until the gremlin was dead. And that happened right as the ceiling started to come down.