Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Slave Pits (09/26/2010)

After a week off the entire Sunday night gang was back, and with Murkelmor defeated the discussion quickly moved to what to do about the slaves imprisoned in the room directly to the west of Murkelmor's chamber. The already released slaves had told the party where were "devils" in the room with the slaves, but since the slaves couldn't tell an Orc from an Ogre there was some concern within the party as to who or what really might be in the room with the slaves.

Murkelmor had attempted to escape through a secret door located behind the fireplace on the western wall, so the party decided to send most of the party through the door in the hallway outside while Krstic and Akta, the two party members with some level of fire resistance, would creep through the fire place and enter the room from the the small hallway there. A five minute respite complete, the party took their respective places and prepared to storm the room.

The six party members in the hallway were startled when an unarmed Duergar suddenly opened the door in front of them. A voice from within the room bade the party welcome, and made an offer - with Murkelmor defeated they would gladly leave and the adventurers could have the slaves and the Horned Hold. From the open door the party could see two Duergar Guards, two Orcs carrying what appeared to be round balls of some type, two unarmored red humanoid things with tails and sharp looking spines up and down their back, and a Duergar Theurge that was doing the talking. There were also three pits in the room as the slaves had described, and while from their vantage point they could see there were indeed slaves in two of these pits, there wasn't much more that could be seen.

Eldred initially stopped to consider the offer. It would allow the party to free the slaves, which was Eldred's concern, and to be able to do it without further conflict might be worthwhile. It was about this time that Krstic burst through the other door. Unaware of the offer that had been put forth Krstic ran right past the second Duergar Guard in an attempt to get to the theurge. The unexpected movement prompted an opportunity attack from the guard when Krstic ran past, and all of a sudden the combat was on.

Krstic got in his lick against the theurge, but was greeted with a hail of spines shot from the Spined Devils that stood near the theurge. The two devils then flew to the backside of the two pits in the back of the room. The remainder of the party roared into the room past the unequipped guard at the door and all were soon engaged. Bogar remained in the door to fight the guard, Akta faced the second duergar that had been standing near the secret door where he and Krstic came through, Jenneth, Eldred, and Miave used their long range attacks to soften up who they could, while Renny and Oester slipped in to see what mischief they could cause.

One of the Orc's approached Renny and threw one of his black balls at him, the ball exploding into a ball of flame on the ground beside him. The party could now see several more of the flaming pitch bombs on his belt, as well as that of the other orc who had lobbed his grenade at Krstic. Renny quickly responded with a quick sword thrust and killed the first orc.

DM Note: I hadn't used any kind of minion characters for awhile and it was quite apparent from their reactions that the party had forgotten all about the possibility of their inclusion. Any time the DM could catch the party completely by surprise like this made it a good evening for the DM.

The theurge was at its best, using its Brimstone Hail to injure and knock prone a large number of the party, plus it was able to blind Krstic and others with a well placed Vile Fumes. The two Spined Devils threw their spines rather ineffectively but were able to use their fly ability to move in and out of danger. But once the two guards went down and then the second orc the party was able to focus their firepower on the remaining combatants and the battle was soon over. As the party looked around they saw:

2 Orc Pyromaniacs, each wearing leather armor, wielding a war pick, and each with three unexploded flaming pitch bombs

2 Duergar Guards, each wearing chain mail and wielding a war hammer

2 Spined Devils

1 Duergar Theurge, wearing robes and wielding a war hammer

A quick scan of the room revealed no secrets, magic or GP, but keys were found and the prisoners were soon released. The group included all but two of the missing Riverdown captives that party had been looking for, but also included three prospectors that had been recently picked up by the duergar and a single goblin named Gru. Gru the Goblin had been part of the Bloodreavers and had worn out his welcome to the point where they had sold him to the duergar just to be rid of him.

The newly freed captives informed the party that the other two Riverdown captives had been sold the the gnolls, the Blackfang Gang to be exact, and just two days previous they had been taken away to the gnoll hideout in the Well of Demons. They were certainly happy to be freed, but really knew nothing else of the Horned Hold. The slaves made it clear they just wanted to go home, but were adamant that they were not equipped or able to navigate the passage of the labyrinth without an escort.

With a large section of the hold yet to navigate, the party decided to temporarily stash the slaves across the chasm in the Great Hall and to ensure they had access to the food stocks kept there. The party took a quick rest, and Oester went ahead through the door on the north wall to see what lay ahead. A hallway led to a small set of steps and then to another door. Unlocked, Oester continued his investigation, seeing a large darkened area of alcoves straight ahead and a hallway leading to the right. The hallway led to a door that was locked, and once Oester picked the lock he found that this door was also jammed shut.

The rest of the party had caught up by now, so with a sturdy push Krstic burst through the door. The room was quiet and nothing attacked, but the smell of death was prominent in the nostrils of the party members. The room had not been maintained and in many places portions of the the ceiling had  crashed to the floor, leaving several large piles of rubble. In the middle of the room was a set of steps that led up a small dais which contained a partially destroyed statue of a Minotaur.

Expecting the worst, the party crept into the room. Nothing happened right away, but once Renny took one step to close to one of the piles of rubble a Wight suddenly appeared, along with six other Wights around the room, and we will pick up from here next week.

Score Card: With the completion of this encounter the party had accumulated an additional 875 GP, 578 SP, and 900 GP in gems. A pair of Dwarven Greaves had previously been claimed by Bogar, but the +2 Flaming Maul still had not been claimed. Krstic claimed the the +2 Amulet of Health and passed his +1 Amulet of Health to Bogar. With the 170 XP earned during this encounter the party had accumulated 6820 XP (7500 needed to reach Level 6). Including this encounter Renny was sitting at 3840 XP (3750 needed to reach Level 4).

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