[Note: I had to miss the session scheduled for 5/28, along with Jeff (who plays Tor, the dwarf cleric), leaving the group with no clerics at that time. Our characters were assumed to have been distracted trying to figure out a way to build a boat from giant mushrooms.]
Playing in this session were:
Don, the DM
Martin, playing Varris, a sun elf wizard
Shawn C., playing Maculate, a warlock of uncertain race (joining us for the first time)
Shawn, playing Errs, a bard of uncertain race somehow connected to elves
James, playing Aevay, a dragonborn rogue
Jeff, playing Tor Black, dwarf cleric of the Domain of War
Vincent, playing Ellar, dwarf paladin
And Andy, your chronicler, playing two characters:
Thandiina, a human fighter
Varanus, a lizard man cleric of the Light Domain
As Thandiina, Varanus, and Tor were beginning to realize that their attempts to build a boat appeared to be doomed to failure, they heard a splash and saw a humanoid form crawling from the river. It appeared to be an individual wearing a large cloak and cowl. When Varanus offered to help him up he refused, and he did not appear to be wounded. The individual was quite reticent about his origin and reasons for being here. (This was Maculate, the warlock who was joining the party.) However, the quartet heard sounds of fighting coming from a trail which led inland, and with Maculate joining them, immediately ran to investigate.
(They also realized that their erstwhile companions seemed to be gone; this could be ominous.)
By the time they arrived at the scene of the battle it was over. Ellar and Varris reported that orcs had taken Aevay, Errs, and Anima (played by Robert, who was absent this session) prisoner by orcs who had appeared out of nowhere and taken them away. Concerned with what might happen to their companions, the group set out in pursuit.
After a short pursuit the group came within site of a palisade which formed a semicircle against the river. They searched for doors or gates, but there were none. Tor discovered signs that the orcs had entered and exited by means of climbing ropes from the top of the palisade. Varris had his familiar (a raven) perform a brief aerial reconnaissance and discovered that there were no ramparts at the top of the palisade, and that the center of the compound was dominated by a gigantic kettle over a large fire. The three prisoners were tied to stakes facing the kettles, having had all their equipment and even their clothing removed. A number of orcs milled about the compound, which had barracks-like huts arranged along the wall.
While the party debated the best approach to take, the raven observed one of the orcs tie a tourniquet around one of Errs’ legs and cut it off completely, throwing it into the kettle! When she learned of it, Thandiina reached the limit of her patience. She had Maculate cast spider climb on her, took a rope, and ran up the side of the palisade. Fastening the rope securely to the top of the palisade she then proceeded to run down. The rest of the party followed.
What followed was an example of no plan surviving contact with the enemy. Thandiina’s plan had been for her to emerge from behind the hut (having come down between the palisade and one of the huts) and attract the orcs’ attention as much as possible and get them coming after her, giving the other characters an opportunity to flank the orcs and possibly race across to free the prisoners, who were only barely conscious. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. One of Thandiina’s problems was that she had no missile weapons, so after shouting insults at the orcs and watching them form into a rough skirmish line, she had little alternative (particularly with them throwing poisoned javelins at her) than to charge them and try to engage their leader. And as Varanus moved around the other side of the hut he was attacked by a disembodied spear. As Ellar began firing arrows at the orcs Varris attempted to hit one with a chill touch and unfortunately failed. Tor cast a spiritual weapon and unfortunately missed as well, as did Thandiina. There was also a distant rumbling sound.
(Almost the entire party was rolling dice abominably at this point, and the orcs were not.)
The next round both Thandiina and Tor fell to multiple attacks. Varanus, trying to reach them, managed to trap two of the orcs beside a flaming sphere but was taken down shortly thereafter. Maculate ended up engaged against a pair or orcs, took one down when it hit him with a warlock power (hellish rebuke). He then intimidated the leader (who happened to be an orog as we found out later) into backing away and scratching a “line of death” in the dirt in front of him. Unfortunately, in the next round the orog charged him and took him down as well. In the meantime, the raven had begun furiously pecking at the ropes binding Errs to the pole. And the rumbling sound grew closer.
Varris and Ellar concluded that it was time for the better part of valor and withdrew to the wall, scaling it rapidly. Four orcs followed them. Varris knocked three off the wall as soon as they got to the top with a well timed thunder strike. At this point the rumbling had become very loud, and Varris saw the source: a gigantic cylindrical creature with tentacles at the head end, and it was coming directly toward the fort! When the surviving orcs saw it they immediately turned to flee.
Ellar then proceeded to leap down and rush toward Errs, whose bonds had just been released by the raven, finally. He used lay on hands to heal Errs, who was then able to use his own healing ability to heal Tor, who healed Thandiina and Varanus, who healed Maculate. Errs then pulled Aevay from her stake and began running toward one of the huts.
By now the carrion crawler (because that’s what it was) crashed through the palisade, apparently moving toward the kettle. Ellar had tried to get a Parthian shot on the orog but wasn’t able to kill it right away, and it leaped — plate armor and all — into the torrential river. The other surviving orc warrior managed to get over the palisade, and the caster, who had been in front of one of the other huts, disappeared back inside; the party later found out that she had apparently exited via an escape tunnel.
In the meantime, the group had a gigantic foe to deal with. Thandiina, Varanus, and Maculate tried to move to a greater distance away from it (even Thandiina wasn’t crazy enough to charge this thing. Some comments to the effect of “about bloody time” may have been made.) Errs threw the still unconscious Aevay against the wall of one of the huts and started attempting to prepare spells. Varris, who had not come down from the top of the palisade, remained there, prepared to jump either way; yes, he was literally sitting on the fence. And that’s when Tor had a truly clever idea.
The group had observed that this particular carrion crawler was missing an eye. Tor proceeded to cast a create water spell inside its other eye. [Note: There was some discussion and debate regarding whether this was even possible, but ultimately Don ruled that it was, this time at least, but not necessarily to expect it to be possible again.] The spell caused the creature’s remaining eye to explode in all directions, severely wounding it, not to mention blinding it, at which point Ellar was able to finish it off. Yes, the two dwarves slew the carrion crawler unassisted.
By now the group was quite battered, so a long rest was in order. A search of the dead orcs’ bodies and their huts yielded loot on the paltry side: a few coins, some javelins (Thandiina picked up 10 of those just to have some missile weapons) and some odd unguents and chemicals from the orc shaman’s hut. Errs and Tor spent a good deal of time working on a prosthesis for the missing leg. (As a side note, Errs had been able to move around earlier because he was flying.) Nothing came upon the group while they were resting. Varris sent his familiar to do some more scouting, and the raven reported that the opposite side of the river had apparently well cultivated fields with several roads going through them. The group determined, after discussing and even voting on whether to attempt to retrace their steps and report to their patron on the orcs, to push forward, and to see what the fields represented.
They then proceeded to spend about two days constructing a raft, having Errs fly a rope across the river, and pulling themselves across via the rope. Everyone made it, although the raft almost sank. They then set out down the roads through the fields, until they came to what appeared to be an almost completely ruined village in the middle of the fields. The village contained a number of buildings which appeared to be so ruined as to be dangerous, but there was a stone building that appeared to be a temple, which was intact. Before the temple stood a statue of a dwarf at rest. Before the statue were two pillars with a sheet of utter darkness between them. This was also ominous.
When the group approached the temple they discovered that only certain individuals were allowed to enter; curiously, neither of the dwarves were among them. Errs, Aevay, and Varanus entered. Inside, they found the bodies of dead dwarves, and lying on a bier at one end of the temple, what appeared to be a dwarf encased in amber. Errs of course immediately went to touch the amber. He was shocked when the dwarf inside began to communicate with him telepathically. Varanus and Aevay immediately joined the conversation.
The dwarf in stasis informed the trio that he had been the last defender of this village when it was overwhelmed by orcs, and that the sheet of blackness was a gate beyond which the orc invaders were. The gate (for that’s what it was) can be traversed each way according to the dwarf. Over the course of the discussion Errs gave offense a number of times, and the dwarf told him to stop talking or else the stone golem would take action. Errs provoked him again, and the statue outside began moving! Errs quickly backed down, and the statue became quiescent once more. Finally, the dwarf allowed the party to take whatever they could use from the bodies of his companions; a search revealed several silver weapons. Aevay immediately laid claim to a silvered longsword, and the other weapons were parceled out. Errs did not get one.
But he wanted one. So he attempted successfully to filch the longsword from Aevay. Since her recovery, Aevay had been experiencing moments of intense rage toward Errs, and once she discovered the theft she yielded to it and attacked him, dealing a massive (seemingly magically enhanced) amount of damage and slaying him instantly. Then Varris cast a flaming sphere and destroyed his body. No more worrying about the prosthesis! At this time, with the group preparing to go past the gate, the session was ended.
[As a note, it appears the rage Aevay was feeling was coming in part from the group’s patron. Shawn wasn’t extremely upset over the character; his observation was that he had started to get tired of having to be “chaotic stupid” all the time, and is going to create a character for the next time that is neither stupid nor flighty. At least the growing feud between Errs and Aevay has been resolved.]