It bears repeating, this was an un-bearable session. Okay, I'll stop...
So after an interlude brought on by the latest NorthEastern snowpalooza, we reconvened on Thursday night, which happened through a trick of the Gregorian calendar to also be my birthday. This happens to me frequently, for some reason, that I end up at a game table on the big ME day, and it rocks.
So anyway, when last we left the crew, we were sizing up the stone statue in the depths of Skull Mountain that came alive and roasted almost half the party by barfing up lava on us. This happened when Kashim touched it, so we avoided laying hands on the thing.
After a long interval of speculating and ruminating and trying to figure out if there were any secret exits to this skull decorated room, we threw up our hands and decided to cut our losses and leave. We'd gotten what we'd come for, which was info from the scrying pool, and we'd made a thorough map of the complex, which would serve us in good stead if we felt like dipping our toe back in to the piranha infested pool that was Skull Mountain. So off we went.
Our next objective, based on the info we'd gained, was to go to the ruined castle where we'd encountered Tevlar the Mighty, a powerful jerk of a mage, and ransack the place while he was off at this wizard convention thing we'd espied him at thru the scrying pool.
We had to do a little mental gymnastics for the lawful members of the group, i.e. myself and Kietel the Paladin, to be able to justify what was essentially burglary. Sure he was mean to us, but then again last time we met him we were intruding on his premises. Well, we figured counts against him A: His eager staff of evil bugbears didn't point to a spotless character and B: he sat there in full view of Skull Mountain and let the Obsidian Heart carry out their campaign of sacrifice and terror. So we decided to stick it to him. And if we managed to swipe a bunch of stuff on the way, so be it.
So we journeyed over hill and dale 'til we got to the Dead Hills, under the looming presence of the castle. As we camped, a stranger approached us, a burly, bearded, wall eyed gentleman of ill aspect who looked like he led a life of larceny. I'm not recalling his name with 100% accuracy. I wanna say his name was Markeva. (This was a new player to join our merry group. Sorry for the memory lapse, Mr. R, but it usually takes me a couple sessions to absorb a new character's name.)
After introductions were made, we broke camp and tromped up the hill to the castle. We decided to enter through the big hole in the wall made in the ancient battle where the castle fell.
As we entered, we were spotted by a bugbear, who ran for the inner bailey of the castle and ran inside. Markeva and Kashim, I think, had enough presence of mind to fire their bows at him, but didn't manage to stop him.
As we gave chase, we started getting peppered with bowfire from a row of arrow slits overlooking the courtyard on the second floor of the castle. Paul made us run through the fire if we wanted to get to the doors, and this was where the Deacon's recent equipment upgrades paid off. Now that I was wearing magical leather armor and a Ring of Protection, I was a lot lighter on my feet, and cleared the distance in one round. Kashim and Keitel with their heavier armor came next, with Frog huffing and puffing across the courtyard for three rounds. (Shoulda quit smokin' five packs a day Froggy my man.)
Winston Churchill once said "There's nothing more exhilerating than being shot at without result" and I think that was in play for the Deacon, 'cos once I crossed the courtyard I started kicking in doors ready to lay a smackdown with my Mojo Stick on anything that confronted me. That worked for two rooms, until I met a knot of five bugbears.
They're like Care Bears, except all they care about is splitting your face with a morning star.
Well, we set to fightin', and a tough fight it was, especially when it turned out one of 'em was a shaman, and tried to lay a whammy on us. He cast Hold Person, which mercifully most of us avoided, except for poor Keitel, who froze up solid. While Half Klint and Markeva dragged him off, the Deacon got pissed and decided turnabout was fair play, and Hold Personed the mangy, pantless bastard right on back, rooting him to the spot.
Our monstery foes fought on in spite of losing their higher up, and it took us some doin' to take 'em down. Generally, bugbears represent the deluxe in terms of simple dungeon thug types, being big and tough and hitting like a freight train loaded with bricks. Kashim gave 'em some good hits, as did the Deacon laying about with his Mojo Stick, while Half Klint returned and slipped around to do some solid backstabbing. Markeva finished off the shaman with a coup de grace, and soon we'd handled 'em. Then again, I had to pour a bit of my precious store of Cure Light Wounds spells on the lower level guys who were taken down pretty far, plus one to restore locomotion to our hapless paladin.
From there, we started to case the joint, checking out the various rooms in the castle, some of which we remembered from before our forcible eviction last time we were here. We managed to map out the first floor, then decided to move on upstairs, where we knew there were more bugbears lurking based on the lovely bowfire we'd weathered crossing the courtyard.
Well, we went up, and found a hall with a bunch of alcoves or chambers, and one of 'em had a bugbear in it with a bow, so we jumped him. I think he managed to wing one of us, but I'm not sure. We charged him and his buddies as they came out of their own alcoves, and soon the battle was joined. In retrospect, it probably would have been better to let them just shoot us, as it was a lot less damaging then when they hit us in hand to hand.
The brutes were soon joined by ANOTHER shaman, who cast hold person and managed to freeze up Kashim, which royally sucked. The thieves dragged him off to shelter in one of the alcoves as the rest of our battered fighters held the line. It was here we rather rued not having interns... I mean any henchmen to help diffuse the punishment we were taking.
The Deacon was forced to make a strategic decision to either stay at the front with a beleagured Keitel and fight or fall back and reanimate Kashim with a Cure Light Wounds spell from a stock of scrolls he was mercifully carrying. Finally, the wisdom of having our best fighter active and fighting over getting a few more magically charged whacks in with my boom stick held sway, and I fell back to the back nine while Frog and Keitel fought on, with some good results for Frog, who I guess was pissed at taking so many arrows as he lumbered across the courtyard.
As we fell back, another front opened up down a side hall with a bugbear with a bow and ANOTHER shaman. Crap! How many of these guys did they have? The first shaman cast a fear spell on Frog (I think.) sending him running back to join us. I think we managed to kill the initial group we ran into, and fell back to one of the rooms, with the other two bugbears plus who know how many else getting ready to come after us.
And it was here where we broke off the session.
So yeah, action packed, with a lot of whackin' and tomfoolery. A good birthday session.
Our big strategic flaw, of course, was assuming everything would be okay with the powerful wizard out of town. This, debatably, IS a good thing, 'cos we don't wanna also have to deal with someone who can casually chuck fireballs around and who's pissed at us for breaking into his summer home. The big thing we forgot, however (or several big things, big things with gorilla arms and pointy ears and heavy maces for smashing faces) was his housekeeping staff.
So yeah, we're in hot water. All good though. We'll git 'em. Somehow...
Thanks again to Paul and the rest of the 10d gamers for a rip snortin' session. It was a most enjoyable birthday activity!
P.S.: It can't be helped. My conception of Tevlar is starting to resemble this image very strongly.
The Holy Grail and D&D, like peanut butter and chocolate...