Six intrepid gamers met with DM Don at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday, August 6 to continue their efforts to get past the keep full of undead orcs:
Martin, returning with Varris, a sun elf wizard.
Jon, playing Thorin, a dwarf cleric
Matt, with Deegan, a human monk
Shawn, running Maculate, a warlock of uncertain but elven origin (okay, we pretty much know out of character that he’s a renegade Drow, but in character nobody knows that)
James, returning with Aevay, a dragonborn rogue
Robert, playing Anima, a dragonborn fighter,
and your chronicler, Andy, with two characters:
Thandiina, a human fighter
Varanus, a lizard man cleric
Previously the group had explored the basement of one of the ruined buildings at the dwarf village outside the keep and obtained a number of masterwork weapons (+1 to hit but not to damage, and not magical in nature for purposes of hitting things that can only be hit by magical weapons) as well as a number of silver pieces. They had also explored some tunnels at a lower level until they seemed unstable and had splashed a stone into water just out of view. Today the group took stock of their situation and decided that a situation this dire demands the classic move: the party split.
While Aevay and Anima assisted Thorin in turning some of the silver previously obtained into heads for arrows and crossbow bolts, Deegan, Thandiina, Varanus, and Varris took a load of wood from the ruined buildings intending to shore up the fragile tunnel leading to the water, while Maculate stayed above guarding the rope and prepared to pull it up if need be.
As it turned out the wood was unnecessary. The tunnel remained fragile but did not appear in imminent danger of collapse. The water was found to be a “puddle” which appeared to be about twenty feet across, covering the floor of the tunnel from wall to wall. Water dripped continuously from the ceiling, but the puddle did not appear to be growing. Being a lizard man (and thus a powerful swimmer), Varanus entered the puddle, finding it to be quite deep, perhaps another twenty feet, with a current drawing water into a fissure at the bottom; this is what was causing the puddle’s size to be stable. He assisted the rest of the truncated group across the puddle. Beyond the puddle the tunnel trended back upward until it ended in a ladder leading upward. Atop the ladder was a trap door. While Deegan cracked it open Varris sent his familiar through to explore.
Above the trap door the familiar discovered a basement similar to the one below the ruined dwarf inn, with foodstuffs gone bad and wine gone worse. There was also a sound coming from the outside, a sound which seemed to be evil chanting. Apart from the rotten supplies the basement was empty, so Varris, Thandiina, Varanus, and Deegan entered it, while Varris sent the familiar outside to discover the source of the evil chanting. Above this basement the familiar discovered a ruined building, also similar to the ruined inn at the old dwarf village. Past the ruins of the building was what appeared to be a large statue from which the chanting was emanating, along with a number of undead milling about. The group determined that this situation called for the rest of the group, and so Varanus volunteered to fetch them, as the puddle would present no hazard to him, and he might be able to assist the others across. In the meantime, Thandiina, Varris, and Deegan would attempt to rest, although the chanting was so horrific that only Varris was able to do so.
Varanus arrived back at the village after the craftsmen had completed about half of their planned work, and persuaded them to abandon it and come immediately. As they were departing, Anima observed the dwarf statue/stone golem move to take a position near the portal. Aevay ran inside the temple to ask the amber-encased dwarf about this, and was told that he had seen there was a possibility that he could get through the portal after all these centuries and do something about the undead in the keep. The group took that statement under advisement.
As the reinforcements were crossing the puddle Thorin (dwarves not being known for their swimming abilities) ran into trouble and was being sucked toward the fissure at the bottom. Varanus dived to save him but became tangled up with his spear’s lanyard and struggled to get the cleric’s head back above the water, but was eventually successful, and Thorin made it through with no more than a scare.
Once the group was back together they carefully exited the building and attempted to sneak as close to the statue as they could. A more extensive look at the statue indicated that it appeared to have been a dwarf but was being transformed into a statue of an orc, and it also appeared to be glowing from flames inside. The group couldn’t tell what would happen when the chanting stopped, or when the transformation was complete, but it couldn’t be good. It was time to attack.
The group’s tactics have improved over time and previous mistakes. Thandiina (a trained professional meat shield) drew the silver dagger and charged the statue, while Varris and Varanus both launched Flaming Spheres to attack the undead. Aevay shot at the skeletons from cover, while Deegan charged an armored undead orc which was coming up to assist the golem. Thorin and Varanus took position to assist in healing.
The battle raged for quite some time. Eventually Maculate pointed out that several characters were focusing on the golem, and the group should attack the skeletons (which were peppering the party with arrows) and take them out more quickly. Deegan, Anima, Maculate, and Aevay proceeded to do so, while Varris and Varanus continued to use their Flaming Spheres against the armored undead orc (which fell soon after) and Thandiina kept the golem engaged. Once most of the skeletons had been destroyed, Maculate charged past the golem into the tower behind it, slamming the door shut behind him.
The golem, badly wounded by this time, turned to pursue and knocked down one of the doors — right before a bolt from Thorin’s crossbow finished it off. Maculate, in the meantime, had seemingly leaped from the frying pan into the fire, as he was assaulted by some eight skeletons. The remainder of the party raced to help, with Aevay casting a Silent Image to block the view of the skeletons remaining above.
Those inside the tower were mopped up relatively quickly once the remainder of the party arrived, although the skeletons were reinforced by additional ones entering via a stairwell. At this point the party locked the doors as best they could and paused to take stock of the situation. Somewhere in here lies an exit. Finding it may be challenging.