Immortal words of the NPC dwarf, who at this point evidently hates pretty much anything which attacks him – namely bears and ogres. Immortal words he has invariably stated before planting a crossbow bolt in some creature’s brainpan…
So, we had gaming the past Sunday, kind of odd since we were down three players (my son, and the husband-wife pairing) and at the same time we had an absolutely monster-sized combat.
As noted before, this was a “by the book” random wilderness encounter of fifteen ogres, This meaning that there was one additional leader, if it had been sixteen ogres rolled there would have been three additional ogres, two leaders and a chief, so thank goodness for small favors.
It did not, amazingly enough, result in a TPK. In fact there were no permanent character deaths. The Monk and the Paladin-Candidate both died in the second to last round as the stood over the cleric who spent the entire four rounds of combat waking up. The female elf NPC who cut an absolute swath of crimson-hued destruction through the ogres finally met up with the odds and was clobbered into negatives, and the NPC mage was saved by his Armour spell while the PC mage took a spear to the guts and wisely played dead (but lay there with 2HP). Other characters took a couple of bits of damage, but the ranger and the gnome slept through most of the combat as well (randomly rolled, but lucky, given that those players were gone for the weekend at GenCon). There was just enough healing left, plus a timely potion of healing that one of the NPC’s pulled out (nope, already was written down, so wasn’t fudging things there) that all three of the characters who went down could be brought back into positive HP before their time ran out (again, people dropped late enough that the cleric was able to heal them within the time limits after he woke up – though it was close for the proto-paladin).
The last four ogres ended up running off after finally blowing a morale check (these were some pretty dedicated ogres – I might have to incorporate that into the game a bit), bruised and battered by the effects of two different Thunderwave spells (as written up by Beyond the Black Gate), something I’d given the NPC mage as lark so he could have something flashy but not very damaging – this may very well have saved the party because it sent ogres flying backwards and prone a couple of times and that may have made all the difference in keeping the party from being overwhelmed.
Another key piece was the Thief who planted two daggers into the chest of one of the most heavily armed ogres, each with a separate natural 20, and ended up distracting it from the female elf who was busy getting her own natural 20 on the leader, after a good slice on its thigh with her off-hand weapon – her luck finally reversed at the end when she was natural twentied in turn and went down for the count. The NPC dwarf happens to have one of the best psionic disciplines in the game if you are a thief (Invisibility) so his effectiveness was amazingly better than normal because he was pretty able to backstab the ogres while running around in melee combat – and managed to roll well with his crossbow on one standing over him when he woke up, and then get the natural twenty on another (plus backstab, so x4 damage) – that ended up dropping two when he would normally have been little more than a meat shield or a distraction.
Oh, and the dragonet (aka pseudo-dragon) familiar of the NPC mage gets a tin of sardines all her own for managing to poison an ogre all by herself.
All in all, the group had a combination of amazing luck, and things really could have gone wrong at any time. I spent some time with my spouse doing an AAR, and we both agreed that I’d played the ogres well (and they made some amazing morale checks, really) but not too well given their “Low” Int.
What the combat really displayed is that when you don’t successfully ambush, all you have done is give people a chance to either fire on you as you come in, or engage you on their terms rather than your own. That’s what happened to the ogres, who attack from multiple sides (the best I had guessed their tactics would allow, and it may have been a tactical error in this case…) but then managed to get hung up a character-or-two here and they never “met in the middle” like the plan was supposed to work out. In fact the one person who rolled surprise was the female elf and all that resulted in was her ability to get a spell on her sword off (a buff). The monk, who can hit like a pile-driver, mostly spent the combat being a target and only connected once – but with the proto-paliden ended up tying up four ogres for most of the combat.
People played really, really well – the tension was high, and I think everyone is going to be remembering this combat as not one where “we got lucky and wiped out those ogres” but as “we got lucky and survived with losing anyone”.