Being unable to organize a Thanksgiving Eve Encounters session last Wednesday left us out of sync with the relentless public play program. (Luckily X-mas doesnt fall on a Wednesday this year.) Our group is made up of professionals and school children and everyone in between so it is important to be sensitive to the time demands of these busy, intrepid role players and keep our sessions as close as possible to the two hours from 6 to 8 pm each week. This means that no make-up session is possible, and no doubling up, either, since it would be impossible (for our group) to get through 2 battles in 2 hours. Not wanting to completely lose the week 10 encounter, this week we managed to get through both encounters in our 2 hours. Of course, it took some major modifications…
Tonights group was made up of the returning player characters Kwyn, Glaurung, Faverell, Merrick, and Pol Pot. Last session ended with the tragic death of Merrick, who was eulogized by describing how the spear-hands of the stone construct pierced the halflings heart and slew him. The player pointed out that the blade pierced his ankle. A halflings heart is not too far from his feet. Benwicks face appeared between the double entry doors. “Pssst!” He got their attention and had them haul the halfling over. Being “still fresh and warm” Benwick was able to breathe life back into Merrick with a lesser revival ritual. Prior to the casting, Benwick felt through Merricks pockets for the 100 gp ruby he knew Merrick had, for component costs as he explained. The poor halfling was a little woozy, and unsteady, all d20 rolls were at a -1 for the session.
The party took a moment to inspect the dungeon, and peeking through into the next room, they were able to determine that they might be able to stealthily sneak past any traps or hazards that might be lying in wait for them. The room was large and had stone walkways along the left and right hand walls. Dark shadowy forms could be seen up there, and the middle of the room was taken up by a large square pool of icy water. The party attempted to quietly cross the room through the center, rather than risk the balconies. They also knew there would be a key in here somewhere to open the next set of doors. All but the knight in clanging armor made it quietly to the center of the room, where Glaurung continued to amaze the others with his rope use skills. He tied the halfling around the waist and tossed him in. (Halflings are notoriously bad swimmers.) Merrick saw the glittering key at the bottom of the pool, grabbed it, and gave a pull on the rope for the dwarf to haul in his catch.
All was working swimmingly until they attempted to make it stealthily across the second half of the room. The other set of double doors was on the balcony level, so they had to climb a 10 ft ledge and here is where the quiet sneaking really broke down. Everyone, even the rogue failed the stealth check, and they could hear the grinding of metal on stone coming from the darkness along one of the balconies. They unlocked the set of double doors and entered the next room, which was lit by softly glowing blue runes carved into the floor and the 4 massive columns that held up the chamber. Directly in front of the doors was a charnel pit filled with old moldy bones. Another smaller pit was at the far end of the room between two large sarcophagi.
After some worrisome trap checking, the party moved into the center of the chamber, the wizard out front to examine the sarcophagi. As Faverell got close, a chill wind blew and the form of a dwarven specter rose out of the coffin. The dwarf spoke of betrayal, bloodshed, and murder most foul. As he spoke, or bellowed rather, ghostly blood started draining down from wounds appearing in the ghost of Greyson, the dawrven bandit lord whose treasure they had come to reclaim. At the same time, the bones in the pits started to move and clatter together into phantasmagorical humanoid shaped masses of bones. Broken femurs and other long bones made up the cruel claws of these skeletal monstrosities.
Merrick, still shaken from his closer-than-near-death experience, wasted no time but launched himself at the ghost, with his usual tactic of leaping on his back. He soon fell to the ground when Greyson disappeared and re-appeared in the midst of the party to send out an explosion of bone shards, damaging everyone, but Faverell the most. The 6 bone horrors then crawled out of their pits to attack the party and Feverell went down under their claw barrage. Merrick, prone, still managed to slash at one as it ran past, chopping off a few toes.
Pol Pot was next to go, and he took out the horror in front of him and strode forward to heal the wizard of some of his wounds. Kwin was surrounded but he slew one and turned to face the other, while Glaurung charged into the fray, striking Greyson a mighty blow. As the specter became bloodied, he howled and 4 more witherlings appeared near him. A grinding sound could be heard coming from the room they recently crept through, and a large sentient, wheeled crossbow nosed its way between the double doors and launched two rapid-fire javelins. One at Kwyn, one at Pol Pot. The cleric went down. He had a dream that he was standing in the darkness, with a light in the distance. Then he noticed a light in the distance another direction, and another and another.
Kwyn and Merrick went after the arbalester, Merrick leaping on top of it, while Kwyn took a close look at it. He noticed that while it was a large, formidable opponent, due to the years of disuse, it was showing some rust and weakness. By making a perception check, he was able to land a better blow than otherwise. Two such blows and one from Merrick finally reduced the arbalester to a pile of rubble.
Faverell destroyed one more before he was knocked out by the slashing claws. He had a dream that he was surrounded by light, but he could see darkness in the distance. He started to move toward it, but noticed the space was already occupied. Glaurung was in trouble, Pol Pot was down and the dwarf was surrounded by enemies. Then Glaurung got hit by the last javelin cast by the arbalester, and he too fell to the ground, unconscious. Suddenly, with only two conscious party members, versus four remaining enemies, they were in serious trouble. Kwyn and Merrick each took out a skeletal minion, and suffered the attacks by the remainder. Then miraculously Pol Pot opened his eyes, stood up, and slew one of the remaining enemies, before casting his healing on the dwarf.
Glaurung was in the middle of a dream about fighting and killing a crazed dwarven bandit with a terrible brogue accent before he was pulled out of it by Pol pots healing word. He leapt up and hacked the head off the last remaining skeletal horror, thus ending the combat with the heroes victorious. It was a close call, and at one point, 3 of the 5 were bleeding out on the cold stone floor, it could have easily tipped the other way.