A brisk January heralds a new year, but it was heating up in the Basement Games for tonights encounter, the epic boss fight that ends chapter three. With only one more chapter of four encounters left to go, tonight we pass the 3/4 mark. It was a full house, with a total of 8 players. Besides the usual suspects, including Faverel, Quinn, Merrick, Berrian, Glaurung, Pol Pot, and Lucan, we also had a first time player, and she chose to play a cleric, Korzona the storm priestess, from Red box game day.
There was very little preamble with tonights game. Having 8 players, I knew that time would be an issue, so rather than giving them the freedom to putter around and eventually creep, one by one, down the ladder, I merely described how the party climbed down the rope ladder into the great hole in the ground, and came to a great subterranean cavern lit by softly glowing crystals. They were on a landing about 15 feet above an underground watercourse. A stream twisted, turned, split and recombined on the floor of the cavern, and Merrick the river halfling wasted no time, but clamping his short sword between his teeth, he cannon balled right off the landing and into the water. With an excellent athletics roll, Merrick did a triple somersault before splashing sown with such gusto that the dwarf, fifteen feet away, got drenched. The party meandered around on the ledge, while the halfling paddled around, waiting for some excitement.
He didn’t have long to wait, as he saw a large dark shape rising towards the surface. Only a pair of eyes and a snout broke the surface. Favarel the wizard was first to react, and he fired a silvery magic missile at the face, and so combat began. Even as the missile streaked towards its target, the halfling too was streaking through the water like a minnow to come up on the dragons back. He stabbed into its neck with his short sword, provoking a cry of pain and outrage from the dragon, whose attention was divided between the wizard and the halfling.
The large black dragon swiped a claw across his back, dislodging the halfling who clung to him, and knocking him into the water. The dragon then erupted out of the water in a great leap, suffering one more poke of Merricks sword, then she spread her wings and clumsily glided to land on the platform. She was now pleased to see the entire party arrayed before her like a buffet on a dessert tray. Her feast lacked only one ingredient, a tangy spice, and she rectified this deficiency right away. A huge plume of acidic gas bellowed froth from her slavering jaws, coating everyone in acidic goo.
There were five clusters of green crystals naturally growing around the room, and the dragons breath coated the nearest one. It seemed to absorb the acid, and began humming, quietly at first, but it rose in pitch until suddenly, from the other crystals in the room gaseaous forms took shape. There were four of them, as small as the halfling, they were misty versions of the dragon itself.
Berrian was next to go, and though he was coated in acid and bloody from the open wounds, he stood his ground and staring into the dragons eyes, he cast sleep on her. The dragon was young, and unwise in the ways of mankinds magic, and her eyes began to droop and her jaws sunk a little closer to the ground.
The newest member of the party Korzona was the next to react, and with a yell she raised her mighty maul and charged the dragons face, but she didn’t quite make it. Slipping on the acid that coated everything she fell onto her backside and slid right between the dragons paws. The dragon glanced down and muttered “this shouldn’t be too difficult.” Korzona made up for it though, as she found her footing and before long pounded the dragons flank with great gusto. Dripping with sticky acid that she could not get rid of, her battle was one of being slowly dissolved.
The third wizard in the party, Lucan, cast a spell that rained down fire upon the dragon, but it seemed to fizzle and did a minimum of damage, so changing tactics, he slid down the slope to engage one of the mist-forms on the eastern, drier side of the room. While down there, he spotted a small wooden chest bound in brass. Noticing the chest was small enough he could probably lift it, he cast a side-long glance at the dragon, but she just shrugged and muttered “Its my travelling trove.”
Quinn charged and tore into the dragon with his weapon, and Glaurung was right behind him, charging and tearing. Finally Pol Pot the cleric had a chance to react, and he strode forward to pound the dragon. He wove his sun magic into the attack and gave everyone temporary vitality, and aided their attempts to scrape off the debilitating acid.
After Pol Pot, the four misty dragon echoes each floated toward their closest foes and unleashed a misty acid blast. Merrick, Faverel, Pol Pot, and Lucan were all attacked. Faverel reacted by hitting and destroying two of the mist echoes with magic missile before moving behind some cover. Merrick, who sensed treasure had been found, ran as fast as his flapping feet would take him from one side of the chamber, right past the dragon, and down to the other side of the chamber to the chest. Cracking his fingers, he prepared to open it, not even checking for traps. He quickly tumbled the lock and was happy to discover a mound of gold inside as well as two magic clerical holy symbols. One was in the shape of a hammer and sickle, while the other one was in the shape of a dolphin rising from a cresting wave.
The dragon wnet into a frenzy of clawing, biting attacks and the party was beginning to suffer. They continued to beat on the dragon until Glaurung jumped on top of it, and sent his battle axe slashing down into her. The axe bit deep, and as the dragon let out a bellow of pain, green acidic blood burst forth in a gusher that drenched everyone in yet more aicdic goodness. At the same time, another wave of roiling, boiling acid breath rolled over everyone still crowding around the dragon. Heroes started to drop. Berrian was the first, then Pol Pot. It was up to Korzona to save them, and she worked a minor miracle of healing herself and the two unconscious allies on her turn, and Pol pot returned the favor on his.
Soon Quinn and Glaurung were knocked out by the acid, and the dwarf slid unceremoniously to the ground. It was Pol pots turn to heal, healing himself and the two doughty warriors. Merrick lost interest in the treasure chest, and dashed forward to take Glaurungs place on the dragons back, but rather than stabbing into the great beast, he threw a rope around its neck and attempted to choke it. He was much too weak and the dragon ignored the Halflings feeble attempts. Faverel sent another magic missile flashing out to destroy the last remaining misty acid echo.
Now Quinn stood up and threw his javelin. It flew directly between the dragons sharp teeth and down its gullet. They could see the dragon stagger and stumble, nearly exhausted by the battle. Glaurung was ready to end the fight, but Pol Pot raised a hand to delay the dwarf, and strode forward. Catching the dragons attention, he spoke of the virtues of living a peaceful life, free from want or worry. Pol Pot described a future where all men, AND dragons, were treated equally with respect, and that wealth would come from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
The dragon stood in silence for a moment, then opened her great jaws, and reared her head back… and she spat out the javelin lodged in her gullet. “You are wise, and I will take your advice. From this day forth I shall walk the eart…” at this point a sharp tug from the halfling managed to cut off her windpipe for a second. “Ahem, walk the EARTH, free from the want or desire for personal wealth.” So saying she slinked up the ladder, casting one backward glance to mention that her brother was with Benwick and an army of Lizardmen preparing to march on the keep.