Sunday, May 23, 2010

LL at Paul's: Hamburger Helpers

Tally ho, my peeps. It's time yet again for the weekly run down on the Labyrinth Lord game.

So when last we left our hearty band we were lurking in a stairwell waiting for hobgoblins to come marching down the hall, so that we might present them with an ambuscade. Waiting around is pretty much a bad idea in a hostile, monster infested dungeon, as we learned when we were jumped by a bunch of lizard men last week.

Still, we decided to stick it out, but re-organized ourselves somewhat. We positioned our archers, namely Klint, Gentleman Jack Getz, and Melchior down the west hallway in the hobgoblin detachment's camp, put Kashim and Yøgund in the south branch with lanterns hooded and swords drawn, and positioned The Deacon, Elef the Halfling wizard and his ensorcelled servant Gneal the Gnoll to the north. Our quarry would be approaching from the east, crossing a plank set across a small, bottomless chasm. We posted our Charmed hobgoblin ally Sergeant Grumpus at the chasm to lead our victims into position, and prepared a nasty little trap by sawing most of the way thru the plank.

There were a couple tactical problems with our plan. The big one was hobgoblins can see in the dark, and we can't, and we were keeping our light sources hidden to not tip them off. We were counting on Grumpus to lead them to the crossroads where we'd unhood our lights and get a good shot at them. The other big problem was we didn't know exactly when the hobs were coming and in what numbers.

Eventually, we heard the tromp of feet and the harsh voices of the hobgoblins, marching down the hall toward us with the sound of our enspelled alley urging them on. These hobgoblins are a pretty rum bunch, all told. Very organized and efficient, they don't mess around. They approached our position in a phalanx formation, with polearms deployed to sweep the hall ahead of them.

This is when things started going kinda pear shaped for us. Somehow the bastards had made it across the plank without it snapping. (I guess this was lucky dice rolling on Paul's account.) They weren't surprised when they entered the crossroads, and were ready to respond with force, which they did. The first one to get it was Gneal the Gnoll, polearmed in the gut and down for the count. ("GNO! GNOT GNEAL!!!") Our archers didn't have a really good view, even when Kashim opened his lantern, and so their shots fell short or missed, and they were putting up a really stiff resistance to our fighters. We managed to take down the front rank with a lot of effort, and took a few nasty wounds in the process.

The back ranks retreated back down the tunnel shouting for reinforcements, so we decided to bug out, fighting the middle ranks to secure OUR retreat. With a heavy heart, the Deacon used the gnoll shaman's mojo stick to put Gneal out of his misery, since we weren't gonna spend healing magic on an ensorcelled evil beast, and the rest of us regathered and beat feet across the chasm in the north tunnel which led to the stinky keg room and out. As we fled, we were gratified to hear the distant sound of a board snapping and a hoot of hobgoblinish alarm.

We scampered up the ladder and barred the door in the column of the mountain shrine and settled in to rest up, totally tapped of all but a healing scroll with two spells. We were in pretty bad shape, so we decided to just rest the rest of the day and get a full night's sleep.

It was round about the second watch, and it was Melchior and The Deacon's turn to sit awake when...


Yeah, gotta love those wandering monsters, Paul.

So this huge, angry mass of bear gristle, claws, and feathers wedged itself between the pillars of the shrine and came in looking for a midnight snack.

Now, I'm gonna digress here for a second and state my opinion of the owlbear. A lot of internet gaming wags like to claim that they're goofy, or ridiculous, or a combination of two cuddly animals.

To this, I say bearfeathers! A bear is pretty much one of the worst things that can happen to you in the real world, so anything with that in it's makeup is something to be reckoned with. As for an owl, well, look at these claws.

And also note the beak.

I think too many graphic designers and tchotchke artists have stylized the owl into a cutsey poo little aerial garden gnome, and that's what colors people's opinions of owls. The wise old owl, blah blah. The owl is wise, people, because he knows where the bodies are buried...

As for me, I grew up in the country, and have seen what an owl can do to rodents, or chickens, and the primeval, dinosaurian/avian gusto with which they do it. If you're a field mouse, an owl is silent death from above and a sad footnote in the mouse actuarial tables as an owl pellet. Now make that big enough to do the same to a human...

Add to all this the fact that due to their unnatural nature, the beasts are purported to be crazy insane, tree snapping, twist the head off of a full grown moose angry at all times, and a truly alarming picture is painted.

Nothin' cute or ridiculous about an owl bear. Sorry kids.

Anyway, the Deacon and Melchoir sprang to defend our sleeping comrades, with the Deacon whaling away with the mojo stick and Melchoir drawing his sword and raising his shield. Our brave henchman apparently managed to get a wicked hit in on the beast, enraging it to the point that it grabbed him in an owl hug and proceeded to crumple him up like remedial origami. (See! This is what I'm talking about!) The Deacon hauls off and lets the beast have it with a mighty wack of the mojo stick, finally felling the monster.

The next step was unfurling the scroll of healing spells the Deacon had on his person and giving it to Melchoir with both barrels, as bits of him looked ready to fall off due to a lack of connective tissue and internal structure. The two cure light wounds got him back on his feet, another near brush with his nemesis, nature...

The next morning we were back to having spells recharged, so I did a round of healing and reviving on the rest of the party, so that we were approaching fighting trim once more. I think we decided to camp out another day to heal up some more, so it was on the second day we girded our loins and salleyed forth (or down, in this case.)

When we got down into the dungeon again, we saw that the hobgoblins had been busy. We found our plank across the north passage chasm, and when we checked it we saw that it had been similarly sawed through to make a trap. Clever bastards... So we went back to the keg room and pulled a fresh plank out of one of the kegs, and took the doctored board and put it across the east chasm on the very off chance it'd get some unaware dungeon monster, hopefully a hobgoblin.

From there, we decided to make our way up the stairs and do some more exploring of the complex. We found a hall going east and west at the top of the stairs and checked it out. There was a small alcove with a shrine to the sun god who the big shrine upstairs was devoted to, and to the south we found a complex of rooms that seemed to betoken a barracks of some kind. There was a bunk room, a room full of tables, a combat practice room with dummy swords and shields, and another bunk room.

In the first bunk room, we were menaced by a couple of ghouls, but the Deacon's silver stringed mandolin turned 'em around and put them to flight, or they would have fled if the fighters hadn't chopped 'em down like corpse eating firewood.

As we entered the final bunk room, a nasty stench assailed our nostrils, and a band of seven slimy, scaly, crested lizardoids leapt out of the darkness at us. Troglodytes! We drew our swords and charged forward to the attack.

At this point, I will give my opinion on troglodytes, although not in the extended rant fashion of my opinion about owlbears. Long story short:


Seriously. We WISHED they had slingshots...

Troglodytes are MEAN MOTORSCOOTERS. You got the overpowering stench that causes nausea and combat penalties, you got two HD, and you got, worst of all, Claw/Claw/Bite. The last bit is the worst. Three attacks in a round is a LOT of attacks, even if individually they don't do a lot of damage. So yeah, we stepped into a freakin' meatgrinder.

I think only Yøgund, with his incredible 1 AC, and the Deacon, not being a front liner, made it out with more than 5 hp. Sergeant Grumpus fell victim to their gnashing claws and slashing teeth, and, much more tragically, our favorite henchman Melchoir's luck finally ran out, bit in the gut and thru the neck. Kashim got his arm bit thru to the bone and pulled out of it's socket. I think another party member took a nasty crit to the nethers as well, but I'm not recalling. I put it down to PTSD.

Anyway, we finally managed to put the slimy hellbeasts down, and gathered up our wounded and dead and scampered for safety. Another morning ruined...

At the top of the ladder in the mountain shrine we took stock. We considered seeing about bringing Melchoir back with the aid of Almox the druid, but sadly we would have needed A: A huge, expensive jewel and B: to get him back in a very short timespan. (I guess I misunderstood last week when they told me they raised young Amos. I thought it was the magic healing pool, not a bog standard Raise Dead spell.) Well, we were short on expensive rocks, and we were deep in the mountains having sent our horses back with Garund, our groom.

So, with deep regret, we buried brave, faithful, pitifully unlucky Melchoir on the mountainside with his armor, wolf pelt cloak, and cherished sword. We split up his equipment, and the Deacon took charge of his remaining money, with an eye towards seeing it get to whatever next of kin he might have. I've still got a bag full of coins from Strang that I need to bequeath as well. I'll have to make some inquiries when we get back to Restenford.

And thus it was with a funeral and much knitting of wounds that we ended this session. We were down to core party members, having lost our entire second string. How would our team fare as we move into the next quarter? Tune in next week to find out. I know I will.

Thanks again to Paul, for all of his lovely wandering monsters, and thanks to the 10d gamers for another awesome session.

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