Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ambush (10/10/2010)

Everyone one was in attendance tonight and was intrigued by the offer the two tieflings had made to them last week. They represented themselves as agents of the Mages of Sauron and said they were fronting for an anonymous Mage that was undercover with the evil behind the duergar's plans. The Mage wanted the party to help against this evil, and to back up his claim the tieflings carried one of the Mage of Sauron amulets and they also said that they had one of the huge Bronze Warders with them to ensure everyone's safety. The unknown mage was hiding in a cave near the great hall. Could these tieflings be trusted? After all, what could go wrong?

Rendil Halfmoon thought going to visit the secretive Mage was a great idea, but Rendil's level of support seemed to involve anything that didn't actually involve him. Orontor, the party's contact within the Mages of Sauron, said he didn't know anything specific about this, but he was certainly pleased that the higher ups in the Mages were finally going after the evil that likely included Paldemar. After some further discussion the party decided to go to the cave with the tieflings and visit the as-of-yet unknown mage.

The cave was north of the great hall, maybe a thirty minute walk. The tieflings led the party up one of the main walkways until they eventually turned up a small hallway that led into a small cave. From this hallway the party could see a huge boulder sat near the entrance of the cave and they could also see that a ledged area seemed to surround the inside wall of the cave. The two tieflings walked directly into the dark of the cave, one moving straight ahead and the other one announcing "We're here. We brought them with us." as he moved around the boulder and out of sight.

Jenneth set off a magical light in the middle area of the cave and the party moved in behind it. Akta and Jenneth scrambled up onto the ledge near the entrance while the rest of the party moved past the huge boulder and into the cave. Behind the boulder stood, as promised, a Bronze Warder, standing there unmoving and silent. The party was also able to see a third tiefling standing on a ledge across from the cave entrance.

The party was still very cautious. There was no sign of any Mage of Sauron, although the Bronze Warder was there as promised. As the party moved further into the cave someone dressed as a Mage of Sauron stepped out from behind a boulder near the back of the room and said "They're all here? Good. Kill them all." The tieflings and the mage quickly rained their ranged attacks at the party and the battle began.

The mage drew the attention of Jenneth and Krstic while the rest of the party responded to the attacks by the three tieflings. The party took several hits and soon found that ongoing damage could be a nuisance, and it was Bogar who first found out that the tieflings had the ability to teleport after being hit and the three tieflings soon all found themselves up on the ledge around the cave and out of range of the hand held weapons of the party.

As the fighting started the one non-combatant turned out to be the Bronze Warder. Instead the warder started to push the boulder he was standing next to, slowly at first, and then with a second major push managed to lodge the boulder directly into the mouth of the cave entrance, effectively locking everyone in. The warder took a few blows from the party, but he seemed to simply shrug off the damage as insignificant.

With the escape route blocked the warder started his combat by wading into groups of party members and send them flying and then taking huge sweeping swings with its great axe. He moved slowly and steadily across the room to provide assistance to the mage, leaving a trail of carnage in his wake. The party had done a lot of damage to the mage rather quickly though and the mage soon fell, but the warder and the tieflings continued to fight on.

DM Note: With the existence of the cave ledge the DM decided that he would arbitrarily use a Bull Rush the first chance he could. This was an attack that I don't think we've ever attempted so this seemed like a good chance to roll it out. The perfect opportunity soon availed itself when Oester scrambled up to the ledge and one of the tieflings had an excellent chance to push Oester back off the ledge and on to the cave floor below. So of course the DM rolled poorly and the attack was easily turned away by Oester. Oh well.

The tieflings used their teleport ability to repeatedly escape from immediate danger, but they were soon overwhelmed. Oester in particular took extra effort in ensuring his chosen opponent was quite dead. The warder took many, many blows until the huge pile of metal crashed to the floor. With a sense of quiet returning to the room, and after a few more turns, Oester finally made the two necessary saving throws to stave off the ongoing affects of two different damage spells, although he required the healing effects of several party members to stay conscious.

A further inspection of the mage soon revealed a human wearing priestly vestments underneath his Mage of Sauron disguise. Orontor had described Paldemar to you and this certainly wasn't him. The party then found an amulet with an odd looking symbol on it around the neck of the dead priest. Eldred and Jenneth were able to identify the (non-magical) amulet as carrying the symbol of Orcus, something that came as a surprise to the party. The magical amulet the tiefling had shown you was recovered, but no other magic or secrets were found. As the party looked around they saw:

3 Tiefling Heretics, each wearing robes and wielding a dagger

1 Orcus Underpriest, wearing robes and wielding a mace

1 Bronze Warder, wielding a huge great axe

The party did accumulate a collective 30 GP from among the tieflings and the priest. Each member of the party earned 200 XP for the encounter.

As the party further inspected the bodies for clues three small tubes were found on the priest, each containing a tightly rolled sheet of parchment. The first scroll read:

I don't care how you do it, but deal with these adventurers. Take one of the Bronze Warders if you must. If they remain in the labyrinth they could disrupt my plans. Once you've dealt with them deliver their bodies to our gnoll friends along with the enclosed scroll.

The second scroll read:

To Maldrick Scarmaker, Exalted Chieftain of the Blackfangs and Chosen of Yeenoghu, Paldemar offers you the corpses of these champions as a gift of ongoing friendship that our arrangement might continue to be mutually beneficial. May you savor their blood. Your friend and ally, Paldemar.

The third scroll contained a hand-drawn map of the labyrinth, with the Well of Demons identified and circled with the word "Gnolls" written next to it.

The party took this opportunity to take a short rest and to review what they had learned. Paldemar was apparently real, was aware of the party's actions and was concerned about their prowess, hence the ambush in the cave. Paldemar had likely provided the Bronze Warder and the Amulet to control it to the tieflings and the priest. And exactly how did a Priest of Orcus play into this? The next step in this mystery certainly lay in the Well of Demons and the party now had a map of where the Well was located plus they had Renny, who knew - more or less anyway - where the Well of Demons was as well.

But what exactly was the Well of Demons? The party was going to have to head back through the Seven Pillared Hall so maybe their contacts there might know something. Several party members began to dig out around the entrance so the adventurers could exit the cave past the boulder that blocked the cave mouth. Krstic and Akta removed the priest's head (just to be safe you know) and Akta gave each if the tieflings bodies one final inspection before leaving. The party decided to take the the great axe of the Bronze Warder back to the hall as evidence should the real Mages of Sauron have any questions.

Score Card: With the completion of this encounter the party had accumulated an additional 1005 GP, 578 SP, and 1400 GP in gems. With the 200 XP earned during this encounter the party had accumulated 7335 XP (7500 needed to reach Level 6). Including this encounter Renny was sitting at 4355 XP (5500 needed to reach Level 5).

Game Night - We will be back at RnJ's next week and Roger will bring snacks.

Reminder: The original party members will likely level up (Level 6) in the next week or two. You will get to add a utility power, so it might be a good time to review your choices. There was an spat of e-mail last week requesting a clarification on how stances work, so someone was obviously looking ahead.

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