So, we had some excitement…
First, we started out the New Year by gaming on Sunday, January 1st. It was rather nice because while my son, MR, was off visiting his mother (this was the down-side and we all missed him) we did have SS and CW up from Indiana because they were staying with us and visiting for the weekend. This itself caused some problems because SS wanted to get in a bit of solo adventuring in with Smjor – just taking him out to hunt or something.
Normally, I wouldn’t let someone play “out of sequence” that way, but SS does live in another state and Smjor was just standing around last session, so if the worst occurred and he died, there wasn’t any continuity problem…
You can see what is coming can’t you?
So, Smjor had gotten bored sitting around and drinking at Seraph Keep and decided to just go out and hunt and maybe bring down a deer. The plan was that he would get up before dawn, walk out about four hours, sit for awhile, and then walk back in the same day. Of course, he saw a deer on the very first roll and blew the surprise roll – so what he really saw was the ass-end of a deer as it bounded away from him.
For anyone who has gone deer hunting this should be a familiar memory… I even joked that he knew this meant that would be the last deer he saw that day and he should just head back in now…
But he continued, without finding anything of interest and finally found a spot to hunker down – at which point I rolled the encounter that killed him – a Goblin Scouting Party. It ended up being sixteen goblins, led by a hobgoblin, and the simple fact is that if he had had even one more person with him he would have lived. The biggest problem is that goblins, while stupid, are cunning and if there is one thing they know how to do it’s small unit tactics that involve hunting… They needed 20’s to Hit (so that means that if they hit, it also really hurt because of the double damage rule) and they were using thier normal poison (make a save or take an additional 8HP of damage over the next two rounds).
Smjor only blew one save, but he was hit four times, even after running, engaging the small groups that got too close, but one of the goblins was promoted to hobgoblin and is on the short list for Redcap after “Two-20ing” him (an instant kill) – it was actually insult on top of injury because he would have died anyways given the rest of the damage he’d taken with the other arrows that same round.
So SS ended up rolling up stats for the bard that had technically joined the group last session. Valdamir Gwion is is name, and this prompted a pretty major re-write of the Bard as I tried to make sense of of my old version, which was based on a couple of different articles from the Dragon and dropped the sheer craziness of the PH version. To replace it with other craziness I suppose, but this one actually parallels the Druid in many, many ways and makes a great deal more sense to me.
So, we then return to the Caves of Chaos – and most especially the Maze of Twisty Passages, All Alike.
After wandering around a fair amount, the rogues all decide to bite the bullet and risk having Gryphon teleport out with all of them. It works (he makes his save and doesn’t teleport into a rock or something) and they end up, safe and sound, back at the spot where the “main party” had been waiting.
Of course, the main party wasn’t there because they had only shortly before responded to the screams of agony and terror that came when the Rangers were investigating one of the cave mouths (Section ?) and Arvid was charged by an Owlbear. As has noted before before, bears are about as nasty as you can get when it comes to natural creatures, and owlbears are no different. It should be noted, that Arvid was the same ranger that had problems with the bears in that session as well. The short version is that the owlbear charged out, with with the claw/bite, and rolled well enough for the hug/trample and fumbled with one claw – interpreted as the owlbear falling on top of Arvid. The rangers had all managed to hit it but not kill it, and the the second round, initiatives were rolled, and the owlbear basically bit the head off of Arvid (he was down to something like -27 or something) befor Taloth could nail it with one last arrow and bring it down.
So, this weekend saw the end of two characters – both of whom had been 3rd level and were certainly effective characters. Hell Smjor was a massive tank and pretty much cut his way through anything he ran up against – but enough missile fire will know most anyone down, and owlbears? 16HP of damage per round average if they hit with everything, 25HP if they roll well enough to hug/trample as well (the max is 24HP and 40HP per round) – without any critical strikes!
So, we would think that this was enough for New Years Day right? Nope, that was only the first couple of hours of play. They still had to get through the night, have a ceremony for Arvid, and figure out what to do next. The first nasty encounter of the night was a pack of wolves, the party actually did real well – while one of the horses broke it’s tether and fled to a horrible death, the party stayed put, built up the fire, and just made a point of doing their best to calm the rest of the horses.
Then, only an hour or so later, I rollled perhaps the scariest thing that I can.
A Fire Drake, and solid adult one.
Imagine a standard AD&D 1E red dragon, drop the wings, drop the speech and magic use, double the attacks if it doesn’t breathe, let it breath as many times as it likes but for no more total damage than triple it’s HP, give it a tail lash, maybe a kick as well and a bonus to hit and damage equal to it’s age category, give it 1HP regeneration each round until dead for each age cateegory, and you have a fire drake (do similar things for the other evil dragons and you have my “drakes”). It sneaks up to just outside short range of bows, but inside range of it’s breath weapon, and I call for surprise rolls.
For the record, this is -1 AC, 12HD, 60HP Fire Drake.
Of all things, Illya the Warrior-Monk and Gryphon the dwark manage to get surprise on it, and everyone else (save Gregor, who was surprised) is not surprised at all (the drake didn’t realize that everyone was just hunkered down waiting for the wolves to come back and weren’t really sleeping). Illya charges in, and manages to hit with an Interrupt Technique – this disrupts the next attack of the target (*cough* the breath weapon attack it was planning *cough*), and manages on the third attempt to land a “Sticking Hand” Technique (+2 to Hit and -2 to AC for Illya). Gryphon breaks the bowstring on his crossbow (a fumble). So, no damage on the drake yet, but the drake is totally disrupted.
In the following round, Taloth runs up on the drake in movement to get within point blank range, the party scatters to avoid the breath weapon, Gryphon teleports behind it hoping that it’s close enough to a swamp drake that he can backstab it (it isn’t), and Jezebel nails it with a Faerie Fire so it is +4 to be Hit. Everybody makes thier save vs. the Fear aura. Illya nails it hard with an open hand attack, the dragon nails him with a single claw in return and misses Taloth with a bite, and misses Gryphon with the tail lash (this drake was obviously very, very disrupted, but rather than say than say that because it’s breath weapon was disrupted for this round that it gets no attacks I just gave it one set of claw/claw/bite) – Taloth hits it with two arrows (point blank range for double damage), Gryphon hits it with a fighting knife – and this creature is close to dead – it has taken 59 HP of damage out of 60HP in one round.
The next round it just runs away, Gryphon misses his opportunity attack, Illya just lets it run away and doesn’t choose to cling to it with his Sticking Touch Technique which I declare to be his free action, Jezebel misses with her arrows from long range, and Taloth…
Hits the drake (now with a whole 7HP after regeneration) with one arrow at medium range and brings it down.
And that is pretty much where we left it – what a start to the new year!