I love milestones – they are a great way to gauge success. Tonight we hit a new milestone in the Basement Games with three tables playing Encounters. We’ve run two tables since the beginning of last season, but the past several weeks have brought in enough players that our two tables were regularly seeing 6-7 apiece. Many of these players are kids, who outnumber the adults about 2 to 1. My good friend, and now co-DM Leah (of Ria the cleric fame) agreed to DM table 3 as she really wants to get some dungeon mastering experience. Of course, a part of me realizes that by letting her into the secret cabal of dungeon masters means that I am creating the weapon of my own destruction, but needs must be met. Im sure we will meet in a snowy Japanese garden one night and fight to the death for the right to be the supreme dungeon master, but until then I am content teaching her the ropes, and what better way to Dm than a table full of wild monkey children? She DMed 3-4 of the lunatics and nobody cried, so I am calling it a success. The real success will be if she comes back next week.
But forget about all that, it was not MY game of D&D they were playing, and that is what we are here to reminisce. I will let leah describe her own game if she chooses (over at Gamer Grrrl) while I go on a bit about our game. Playing at my table were most of the usual suspects, some with new characters. Ash was replaced by Thorn the shifter runepriest. The invoker Kaleth was back, as was the mighty paladin Torrin. Included this week was my youngest daughter Audrey who played Gale the hunter (using the elf race to depict her half-fennic fox.)
Encounter 2 of “Evards Dark Legacy” begins as the characters catch their breathes following the battle with the inns gargoyls come to life. The paladin checked on the inn keep Harald, who came to with a few slaps on the cheek. They found his wife Tilda in the kitchen, then began a search of upstairs. The three dwarves would not answer their door at first, but finally opened up and the heroes found the dwarves barricaded in, refusing to leave until they returned to the natural world. Moving down the hall, they came to the locked, unoccupied room of the mysterious scholar Nathair and his halfling servant. The room was unslept in, but their personal goods were still in place, and their steeds still stood in the stables. Their disappearance was a mystery.
Finally the rune priest went out into the dark night. The sky was a deep purple and their were swiles of sickly yellowish green light around the stars, until thick heaving clouds moved in and turned the night black as pitch. Ther was a palpable sense of dread, and a chill crept into the bones. The few lights burning throughout town seemed forlorn and tiny, giving out much less illumination than normal. The runepriest saw a lantern coming down the street. The hunter Gale used her eagle eyes to learn they were humanoids, and Torrin the paladin could just make out the clink and clank of battle armour. Soon the town guard Grimbol came down the street leading a few guardsmen. They explained that one of their soldiers at the north gate was stabbed by a halfling running like his life depended on it, and that the town armory was in the hands of some monster preventing the guards from arming themselves.
The paladin Torrin asked about the wounded soldier, and Grimbold gave him a friendly look and said he was stabbed, but at the apothecary, and looked to recover. He then asked if the heroes would be willing to check on one of the leads, either the occupied armory, or chasing after the halfling. The party, after much discussion chose the armory. (It turns out all three tables chose the armory.) So the party heads through town toward the armoury.
They can see it in the distance, but have to cross a bridge over a canal to get there. The invoker, feeling the power of the gods flowing through her veins charges forwards across the bridge and to one corner of the small stone building. She can see the door is ajar and a dead guard lies in the doorway, his body covered in hundreds of tiny red marks. As she steps closer, she sees the wooden shutters of the windows bulging and rattling, and hundreds of tiny spiders of all shapes and sizes come scuttling through the cracks towards her. They climb, leap, and rappel out of the armory and begin to cover her, each of them trying to bite at her skin. She shrieks (the player that is) and tries to stomp them as they approach, but some are so big that they cant be stomped.
Gale is next and she moves to the middle of the bridge and fires an arrow at the swarm of spiders. She knows she cant do much damage but any little bit helps. After she looses the arrow, a dark shape leaps from the top of the armory and flies towards the poor invoker. Another spider with huge back jumping legs attacks her on the way down, stabbing into her with its poison-dripping fangs. The invoker is poisoned, wounded, surrounded and cut off. She is also about to faint from the descriptions of the hairy scuttling arachnids surrounding and biting into her. (the player that is.) I have to use a trick I use with my wife, where-in I tell her that they are really not spiders, they are lizards! Black, hairy eight-legged tail-less lizards with fat dripping fangs, multitudinous eyes, and strange patterns on its back, like a yellow hourglass, or a red diamond.
The deathjumper was not done, and after attacking the invoker, it made a prodigious leap to land just behind the hunter on the bridge, thuse dividing the party in half. Gale was not amused, and the final two heroes, Torrin the paladin and Thorn the runepriest, moved up to the deathjumper and attacked. On her turn, the invoker dropped unconscious from the poison. Gale stabbed at the deathjump spider then moved forward to help the invoker.
Little did Gale realize there were more enemies waiting for the moment to spring. Shadows detached themselves from the darkness near the canal’s edge, and slid across the ground to meld with the heroes own shadows. This caused necrotic damage to anyone unlucky enough to be so stricken – Gale and Torrin. All looked lost as the the battle on the bridge continued with the deathjumper while the ladies fought in the armoury yard. (I really hated the mechanics of the minion shadows who I ruled once they melded with an opponent they merely did ongoing 4 necrotic until thy were killed or shaken off. Last weeks shadows were much better, if also much tougher. These were a confusing, but deadly nuisance.)
Then a miracle happened. Kaleth the invoker rolled a natural 20 on her death save, so she shook off the nightmare dreams of scuttling venomous lizards, and leapt up, healed, and blasted the swarm almost to death. Merely 4 spiders remained of the swarm of hundreds, and Gale put one arrow through all four tiny spiders on her turn. The battle turned, the death jumper died, and they finally shook off and slew the shadows.