Saturday, November 12, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: G2 Into the Lair of the Frost Giant Jarl

Recap from 8/26/2011

Once the group had returned to the city of Medea’s Gate, we took a week off for a nice long rest and sold some of our treasure and exchanged the rest for more portable gems.  Then we saw to our provisions and more importantly, bought every healing potion we could find in town since we were going through them like water fighting against the giants.  Once we were ready, we boarded the airships again and returned to the snow capped mountains for a follow-up raid on the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl in order to complete our mission – to return the magical tome to its rightful owners in the Surgeon’s Guild.  When we arrived, the ranger led us to our ice cave hideout and base where we spent the night and prepared for our next raid.  The following morning, we left for the Rift of the Frost Giants once again.

Rather than risking another ambush on the ice ledges on either side of the entrance to the rift, we decided to use our knowledge of the place from our previous forays to our advantage.  Asclepius cast his fly spell on himself and he proceeded to ferry us one by one through the air over the rift floor to the ledge outside of the cave where we fought the Fire Giants previously.  We decided to go in from this ledge because it was a place that our opponents wouldn’t be expecting us to enter since it bypassed the primary entrances on either side.  Once we were all on the ledge we went in to the former den of the Fire Giants and found it to be completely empty – even the bodies of the three dead giants were gone.  Gone as well was the Wall of Stone that Teth-en-Aire had cast over the entrance to keep the Frost Giants out.  Apparently, the Frost Giants had been busy cleaning the place up during the week that we were gone.  At this point things were going as planned since we managed to gain entrance to the complex without raising the alarm.

We went into the hallway towards the guard cave where we had been ambushed previously and immediately started getting hit in the hallway again by boulders from the guard post.  Rather than hesitating or trying to take cover, Lucias, Taleth and Bellinorn charged the two Frost Giants in the room to put a stop to their dangerous missile throwing as quickly as possible.  These same giants, or others like them, had hurt us badly with thrown boulders from this location on a previous foray so we were determined to close with them as quickly as possible so they couldn’t do that again.  Once the fighters engaged them in melee with the rest of the group backing them up, they went down pretty quickly without raising the alarm.  The group continued past the guard room down the hallway to the passage that turned to the right and started sloping down. 

We descended the sloping passage cautiously to the second level for quite some time as it twisted and turned, and without a dwarf in the group, we had no idea where we were in relation to the rift and the other caves above relative to our current location.  The large cavern at the bottom was empty and eerily quiet.  This is the chamber we had visited once before while Lucias and Evelyn the assassin were invisible but there were two guards present at that time.  She had scouted it out a bit and there was a passage on the left blocked by a very large boulder that she had squirmed through into the cavern beyond.  There she felt the presence of and most definitely smelled what she was pretty sure was a large dragon in the cavern somewhere guarding its lair no doubt.  Because she was invisible she slipped back into the passage without alerting it to her presence.  So we knew what was behind the left hand passage and decided to leave it alone for now (let sleeping dragons lie says I).

On the walls of the cavern were several intricate bas relief carvings of hunting scenes and scenes of dragons fighting monsters of all sorts.  Also, the place was lit up with caged fire beetles set into sconces on the walls giving it an eery glow, but we were glad that it was illuminated for a change.  Evelyn had also explored further into this cavern on our previous visit and found a large group of ice toads in one of the caverns beyond the end of the large entry cavern.  We knew Ice Toads were dangerous foes since one had killed one of our henchmen on a previous trip through the Pass at Hell’s Peak near Herrari (see recap Day of the Ice Toad).  So rather than disturbing the Dragon or the Ice Toads we decided to search this cavern for secret doors to see if there was a hidden entrance that we had overlooked before.  On the right hand side of the cavern, one of the adventurers found another tunnel blocked by a large boulder similar to the one on the opposite side, except that this one was cleverly hidden to look like the natural wall of the cavern rather than an entrance to a passageway.

The strong fighters, including Teth-en-Aire the Elf with his Girdle of Giant Strength, shifted the boulder out of the way and we were immediately confronted by a pair of frost giant guards at the end of a narrow but long entry foyer cavern.  They were standing near a large bell (obviously an alarm) so we sprang into action to prevent them from sounding the alarm and alerting the complex to our presence.  Apparently, we had found the entrance to the Jarl’s underground lair!  The fighters rushed the one that was heading towards the alarm while the wizards and archers hit him with magic missiles and arrows.  Meanwhile, the rest of the group that was backing them up engaged the other guard.  After a fierce but brief melee, it was over and the giants were slain before they could sound the alarm.

At the opposite end of this space, the cavern narrowed down into a 20’ wide cavernous passage that we cautiously entered.  On the left was a passage leading into a room and on the right were three passages and the hallway kept going straight ahead past all of the side passages.  We turned into the left hand passage and came into a large cavern full of a large group of ogres that we managed to surprise!  There were around twenty of them and we let them have it with a fireball, a lightning bolt, several magic missiles, and some arrows while the fighters went in to mop up.  It was over pretty quickly but we made a lot more noise than we wanted to with the fireball and lightning bolt – it wasn’t really planned but more of a spontaneous attack and we weren’t really trying to stay quiet. 

As we turned our attention to searching the room for loot, four Frost Giant Guards showed up at each entrance (there were two entrances to the chamber that branched off of the entry corridor).  These giants started throwing rocks at us and we quickly turned our attention to them but were caught off guard by this counterattack.  When the fighters engaged the giants, it prevented the wizard and elves from being able to launch any more of the heavy firepower spells at them to take them out quickly and it quickly turned into a desperate struggle.

To make matters worse, two Ogre Magi appeared from being invisible behind the giants, one in each entry passage, and they both cast Cone of Cold spells on most of the group hurting us badly!  While we were reeling from this attack, we finally managed to take out a couple of the giants and the wizard and Elves killed the Ogre Magi on the right side with magic missiles and arrows before he could disappear again in the next round.  During the next round we managed to take down the last of the giants on the left side but the other Ogre Magi turned invisible and was nowhere to be seen.

Cyrcla cast Invisibility on herself and stepped out into the hallway to search for more invisible opponents – she still had a fireball left and was itching for some payback.  Meanwhile, we were badly hurt at this point and Kaira started casting curative spells on some of the wounded group members.  That’s when the other Ogre Magi turned visible again and threw a fireball at the group that was all gathered around the cleric!  Not only did she lose her spell but we got hurt even worse.  Unfortunately for the Ogre Magi though, we now knew where he was and the wizard and elves hit him with magic missiles and arrows and finally killed him.

Lucias went over to his body to search it because he appeared to be their leader but then two Drow flew into the room and cast Charm Person on Lucias twice!  He made one saving throw but failed the other and started heading towards the rest of the group to slay them at the command of the evil Drow wizards!  Fortunately, Teth-en-Aire had a Dispel Magic spell on a scroll and cast it on him negating the Charm Person spell which effectively ended the combat.  Cyrcla began casting a fireball at the dreaded flying Drow but they flew out of the room and down the hallway to the larger cavern outside to escape before we could target them and she stopped casting the spell before it went off.

So once again, we managed to stir up a Hornet’s nest and got badly hurt in the process by the denizens of the complex.  The odd thing was we were coming up against creatures that you wouldn’t expect to be in the lair of a Frost Giant leader.  It was obvious that something bigger was afoot in this place, especially with the appearance of the legendary and mysterious Drow that supposedly didn’t exist.  Later on, the GM told us (speaking as our NPC ally Teth-en-Aire the Elf) that Drow didn't really exist and that the two were most likely also Ogre Magi who used their polymorph self spell like ability to change themselves into Drow in order to scare us.  So maybe they weren’t Drow after all (or were they?).  We did manage to find some treasure and a Necklace of Fireballs on the Ogre Magi leader so it wasn’t a total loss but once again, we were pretty badly chewed up from the combat.  We decided on the next foray to hit them from an unexpected direction again to keep them off guard in order to avoid slipping into a predictable pattern.  So our next raid of the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl started off with a brainstorming session to figure out how to go about doing that.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: G2 A Narrow Escape and a Precipitous Ambush

Recap from 8/12/2011

The session started off with the group in a bit of a bind.  During the previous session, after the Frost Giants in the guardroom threw rocks at the frontline fighters from the hallway and beat them up so bad, we inadvertently blundered into the Fire Giant’s lair and were almost wiped out.  Fortunately, our Elven friend Teth-en-Aire acted quickly and pretty much saved the group from a TPK (total party kill) when he cast Wall of Stone off of a scroll to seal off the Frost Giants in the hallway so we only had to contend with the three Fire Giants.  They were tough but we eventually overcame them and found ourselves trapped in their lair with only one way out of the room which was off of the ledge and into the rift beyond.  We sorted through their belongings and gathered up their loot and then contemplated our escape.

Fortunately, Asclepius had memorized the Fly spell so he decided to reconnoiter our possible routes of escape.  First, he cast Invisibility on himself and then Fly and flew over to the ledge on the opposite side of the rift and explored the caves and tunnels over there for a bit.  He found them to be occupied by many Frost Giants and some Ice Toads.  After he reported this back to the group, we decided that that was probably not such a great way to escape, since we were so beat up and out of offensive spells and healing that we really didn’t want to have to fight anything else on the way out.  He also flew over the area where we had encountered the Winter Wolves to see if we could scale down to the rift floor and escape back up onto the lower ice ledge that led upwards, but they were still there guarding the access point.  So after he flew back we discussed it for a bit and decided that the best course of action would be to have the elf ferry over the others on his back while flying to the ledge we had travelled across before on the way in.  Soon enough, the whole group was safely on the other ledge past the barracks and we travelled back through that area and out of the rift to our hideout without any further encounters or problems.

Once we were all healed up and ready for action the next day we returned to the entrance to the rift and went down the right hand path as we had done on the previous two forays.  When we went past the caves where we had previously fought the Yetis and the Snow Leopards, one of the front line fighters set off some kind of a tripwire and we knew we were about to have company.  Appearing from the direction of the opposite end of the cliff in the direction of the barracks were four frost giants who began throwing rocks at us.  We were still bound together with rope at this point to traverse the slippery ice cliffs, and the front line fighters started getting pounded with boulders so we ducked into the cave were we had previously fought the snow leopards.  This afforded some cover from the barrage and we untied ourselves from the rope, but Taleth the ranger quickly realized it wouldn’t be a great place to stay for too long because all the giants would have to do would be to move one of the large boulders they used as doors for their hallways into the entry tunnel and seal us into the cave!

So, knowing we couldn’t stay there and that we needed to find a way to fight back, Lucias, Taleth and Bellinorn made a mighty yell and sallied forth from the cave to attack the giants on the ledge.  Despite the icy conditions, they found that as long as they didn’t run and hugged the icy wall on the right that they had little danger of slipping off of the ledge and into the chasm below.  Unfortunately, as they moved forward slowly and tenuously, the giants resumed their barrage and fell back as we approached and the fighters started getting beat up pretty badly from the missiles.  What this did do however, was allow the arcane spellcasters and others a chance to get out on the ledge and fire back at our attackers with spells and arrows.  So Teth-en-Aire, Cyrcla, Asclepius and Ferris started throwing lightning bolts, fireballs and magic missiles at the giants while the others fired arrows onto the other end of the ledge at the giants which pretty much took out the first group of four giants there.  They were quickly replaced by six more coming from the direction of the barracks after the alarm had been sounded, and they resumed the barrage and kept falling back before the fighters could close with them.

The fighters were almost dead at this point but the spellcasters and archers resumed their barrage and whittled our opponents down to two giants left standing when Kaira the cleric hit them with a nasty little surprise.  Kaira quaffed a potion of Polymorph Self and transformed herself into a small white dragon and Ferris the wizard cast his Enlarge spell on her as well and she suddenly swelled to the size of a large white dragon!  The giant beast quickly flew to the location of the last of the giants and fell on them rending them with her dragon maw and two claw attacks essentially finishing off the last of the ambushers!  Unfortunately, the fighters were hurt badly and we were pretty close to being out of healing and offensive spells again, but with the aid of our newfound dragon friend, we moved forward with the attack to press our advantage.

We went down the hallway off of the ledge past the wall of stone we had previously cast outside of the fire giant lair and towards the guardroom where we had been bombarded from so badly before by the four frost giants there.  Having learned our lesson about just sitting there and getting shelled, Lucias, Taleth and Bellinorn let out a battle cry and charged down the hallway right towards the guardroom with the white dragon leading the way!  We encountered two Frost Giants there who sounded the alarm but quickly fell under our onslaught.  We knew pressing on was probably a mistake since the alarm had been sounded and they were aware of our presence, but we wanted to do a little bit of scouting ahead to see if we could find the Jarl’s lair so we could recover the book we were sent to retrieve.  So the arcane casters cast invisibility on Lucias and Evelyn the assassin and the two scouted ahead and found a tunnel which turned sharply to the right and descended downwards!  So it appeared that we had found the way to the Jarl’s lair after three very difficult forays into the glacial rift of the frost giants!

The two cautiously followed the tunnel trying to be as quiet as possible with the assassin leading the way and moving silently.  When they got to the end of the hallway it opened up into a large chasm that was lit with cages containing fire beetles.  Standing on either side of the chasm were two frost giant guards – presumably, the other two from the guard room who had fallen back to defend their leader’s lair and sound the alarm to the rest of the complex.  So rather than stir up yet another hornet’s nest, we turned around and made our way back up the hallway to give the others the news.  Once they returned to the rest of the group, the group decided to fall back to our ice cave hideout to rest and recoup and decide what to do the next day.

After some discussion, we decided that our best course of action was to head back to the airship drop zone and signal them to pick us up so we could fall back to Medea’s Gate to rest, resupply and purchase more healing potions which we were now out of.  It had been three days since we arrived and the Surgeons said they would send a ship for us every three days until we had been picked up.  We had enough food to continue our assault but at this point, we were so beat up after the last three forays that it would have taken several days of healing just to heal up the group’s fighters to be ready to go back in again, and we were out of healing potions.  So we decided that the best course of action would be to head back to the city to recover and come back for another assault once we were ready.  We had enough information now that we had a pretty good idea of where the Jarl’s lair was located and about some of the other dangers and defenses of the place.  We also surmised that if we gave it a rest for a little bit, that they would probably let their guard down somewhat and it might be easier to go in again undetected this time, at least initially anyway.  So we loaded up the treasure onto the airships, including the massive mammoth tusks from the Yeti’s lair,  and returned to Medea’s Gate the next day.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: G2 The Frost Giant Barracks and an Exciting Cliffhanger

Recap from 7/29/2011

After resting up for the night, we set out the next day for the glacial rift of the Frost Giants.  Once again, we went in on the right cliffside up against the icy mountain and roped ourselves together to keep from falling over the edge into the rift floor far below.  We decided to skirt the sloping path down to the rift floor and continued along the main icy path until we came to more ice caves cut into the right side of the cliff.  We untied the ropes and decided to send the assassin in to scout ahead of the group.  One of the elves cast invisibility on Evelyn and Lucias lent her his magical dagger for light (magical daggers shed less light than magical swords and are better for sneaking around) and she went into the cave moving as silently as possible to look for any signs of trouble.  We waited at the entrance for some time until she came running out yelling that she was being pursued by lots of Frost Giants!  We found out later that she encountered a few frost giants, some of which were sleeping and then decided to keep going instead of turning back to warn us and found even more giants.  In Labyrinth Lord and B/X D&D high level monsters have a very small chance of spotting invisible opponents (like 5% per giant) but the more opponents you try to sneak through, the larger the chance of one of them eventually spotting the invisible character, and apparently, one of them got lucky and noticed her.

So the jig was up and multiple Frost Giants started coming at us up the hallways.  There was one large group of giants coming at us through the right hand passage and a couple on the left hand branch that eventually turned into another large group!  Apparently we had stirred up a hornets nest and inadvertently alerted the entire Frost Giant barracks and things were about to get very interesting.  While Lucias and Taleth fought to hold off the ones in the front, the arcane spellcasters in the back (three Elves and a Magic User) started throwing fireballs and lightning bolts on the large groups of giants coming out of both corridors behind the ones that were in the front battling the fighters.  To top that off, our cleric Kaira pulled out a scroll of Flame Strike and cast it on the group on the right and quite a few of them died or were badly burned by the magical attacks.  The burned giants kept coming and the fighters in front were cutting them down as fast as they came while the spellcasters kept up the fusillade of fireballs and started throwing magic missiles when their heavier firepower was exhausted. 

After an epic struggle, we eventually managed to cut down fourteen Frost Giants in that melee and only suffered relatively light casualties.  Kaira healed up the wounded fighters and we decided to search the barracks for loot.  We entered several caverns and found very little until we entered a large cavern with a crystal clear pool of water babbling in the corner.  One of the players spotted something shiny at the bottom and then we were attacked by a lone Frost Giant that we cut down without too much trouble.  We searched the pool and retrieved 200 low value shining gems worth 10 G.P. each.  After having searched the Barracks of the Frost Giants, we returned to the ledge and roped up to continue exploring the complex.  We were mostly out of offensive spells and had little healing left at this point but decided to press on anyway.

We continued down the icy ledge and had another close call with one of the characters slipping over who had to be hoisted back up with the rope.  The last cave on the ledge led to another tunnel into the icy mountainside.  The tunnel eventually branched and one branch led to a cavern with some runes written on the floor.  Taleth the Ranger knew how to speak giant and told us that it was a warning to the giants of some unknown danger and that they should avoid the place.  That was good enough for us and we went the other way.  We continued down the tunnel and quickly found ourselves confronted with another pair of frost giant guards that were throwing rocks at us from the cavern ahead.  Lucias, the Ranger and his hireling fighter Bellinorn the Sun Elf charged them and engaged them in melee while the spellcasters in the back cast what few magic missiles they had left on them, or fired missile weapons.  The two giants were quickly dispatched but we were starting to get pretty beat up at this point.

We continued down the hallway past this guard post and once again came under attack from a fusillade of boulders and both Lucias and Taleth were hurt badly this time.  The giants were so far away that they could see us with their infravision well enough to hurl stones but we couldn’t see them.  They shouted an alarm and charged down the hall towards us.  Since we were in bad shape at this point we decided to turn into a left hand branch of the tunnel to take cover from the barrage of boulders – this turned out to be a huge mistake!  Suddenly, we were confronted by three fire giants that attacked us from the left hand tunnel while the four giants on the right were charging at us up the other hallway! 

This quickly turned into a desperate situation as our two front line fighters were so badly beat up as to be useless in melee and we were under attack from two sides.  Teth-en-Aire, our Elven NPC ally, saved the day when he pulled out a scroll of Wall of Stone and cast the spell to seal off the right hand passage so that we would only have to fight one group of giants at a time.  Cyrcla the Elf cast invisibility on Lucias who only had a few hit points left at this point and he fell back to the newly created wall of stone to quaff a potion of Extra Healing.  Taleth also fell back to heal as best as he could while the rest of the group fought off the three very tough Fire Giants in a desperate struggle for survival.  They eventually killed them but only after several of the other characters were similarly beaten down including our other fighter Bellinorn and Teth-en-Aire who ended up fighting off the giants with the help of the others.

Once the fight was over, we realized that we were trapped in the cavern by our own wall of stone!  Since the Frost Giants to our rear had gone past the “Y” intersection into the passage we had just come from, Teth-en-Aire had to cast the spell on the entry to the Fire Giant cavern and effectively sealed us in.  After quaffing healing potions and using the last remaining healing that we had available, we explored our new accommodations.  The cavern held several large braziers that burned with fiery coals to keep the fire giants nice and warm and we also found a considerable sum of gold (9,000 g.p.) and a bear figurine with topaz eyes as well which appeared to be worth a great deal of gold.  We also found a thick and long rope in one of the giant’s bags.

As we searched the cavern further we realized that there was an exit but that it led out onto another icy ledge with no apparent way off of it except down or through the air.  We could see the ledge we had just come from not too far away to our left, but it was several hundred feet away and the rift floor appeared to be further down below than it was towards the entrance (in other words the rift floor was at a lower elevation here).  We also spotted other ledges on the opposite side of the rift as well that we hadn’t noticed before, that presumably led to other ice caverns on the opposite side of the rift.

In retrospect, we made several mistakes this session – the assassin pressed on into the barracks rather than falling back which ended up stirring up the hornets nest but the end result of that fight wasn’t so bad (we killed some 15 frost giants there and found some loot).  The real mistake was pressing on when we were mostly out of healing and arcane spells.  When we were assailed with the rocks, our third mistake was to turn into the Fire Giant’s lair rather than just falling back – that nearly wiped out the entire party.  The amazing thing was that we found a decent amount of loot and killed some seventeen Frost Giants and three fire giants and somehow managed to survive the session without anyone being killed.  All in all, it was a very exciting session as well due to the element of uncertainty and desperation.

We made a resolution to learn from our mistakes if we could only figure out a way out of our current predicament.  We knew the Frost Giants would be back and if they could manage to break through the wall and attack us in the Fire Giant cave we could be finished, so we had to find a way out through the rift or onto one of the other ledges before they could do that.  We ended the session there as a true cliffhanger as we contemplated our options and began to plan our escape…


Monday, September 12, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl

Recap from 7/22/2011 (Part 2 of 2)

Taleth the Ranger led our adventuring party towards the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl through the deep snows of the Pillars of Defiance mountain range at the southern end of the Anvil.  It was easy for him to locate the way to the rift due to the many frost giant tracks left on the trail in the snow by the giants and other creatures moving to and from it with regularity.  When we arrived at the entrance it was really just a break in the snow capped peaks with a path leading to the left and a path leading to the right and a steep drop off down to the floor of the rift far below straight ahead which was obscured by wind driven snowy mists.  So we debated which way to go and went with the conventional wisdom that when confronted with such choices in a maze like labyrinth, that right is right and left is wrong.  So we went down the right hand path which was really just an icy ledge up against the sheer mountain and glacier wall on the right with the steep drop off to the rift floor on the left.  Since it was so slippery, we took the added precaution of roping ourselves together in the hopes that if someone fell over the edge that we could catch them and pull them back to the ledge with the ropes.

As we went further along the path, we eventually came to a cave mouth on the right and decided to explore it.  We untied the ropes and entered the cave and were surprised by a band of six Yetis!  A fierce melee ensued and several of our number were paralyzed with fear from the giant white ape like creatures including Lucias.  As we started cutting them down, another one attacked us from behind that was bigger than the rest and was wielding a glowing white sword.  After a brief but intense battle we eventually overcame all seven yetis and searched their lair.  In addition to the obviously magical sword, we found eleven huge ivory mammoth tusks hidden away in their cave which were worth a great deal of gold.  We pressed on and retied ourselves together to brave the icy ledge once again and again found another ice cave on the right face of the glacier and mountain. 

We entered this cave and found that it was filled with an icy mist mixed with steam that issued forth from a thermal fissure somewhere deep below the ground making it very hard to see.  It also made the floor very treacherous and slippery and we all had to fight to maintain our balance to keep from slipping and dropping our weapons and shields.  Unfortunately, Kaira slipped onto the icy floor and dropped her magical spear which tumbled across the slippery surface and into an icy chasm never to be seen again.  We decided to leave this room before we lost anything else and went back out onto the icy ledge where we roped up again and gave the newly found magical sword to Kaira to replace her lost weapon.  As we continued our march along the treacherous ledge, one of the adventurers slipped on the icy surface and nearly tumbled over the ledge to their death on the rift floor far below.  Fortunately, the rope saved that character’s life and he was quickly hoisted back up to the ledge by the rest of the group.

We continued along the ledge and noticed that there was what appeared to be a path/ledge leading down to the rift floor on our left in addition to the ledge that continued on straight ahead.  There was also another ice cave on our right that we decided to investigate.  As we entered the cave we were surprised by a pair of snow leopards that attacked us from their perch on a ledge above the room.  A quick but fierce melee ensued and the ice cats were quickly dispatched.  After this encounter, we decided to try the path to the left that led to the rift floor in the hopes of finding the entrance to the Frost Giant Jarl’s lair so we could retrieve the tome for the Surgeons of Hecate.  We went down the winding trail and eventually ended up on the rift floor below.  On the rift floor, vision was obscured and limited to 30’ due to the high winds and snow drifts that prevailed there on the snow and ice covered valley floor.

As we started forward we ran into what looked like a pack of seven white wolves.  We moved to engage them and then they breathed frost on us!  This caught us completely off guard since we thought they were just normal wolves.  They turned out to be Winter Wolves and hurt us badly since all seven of them had an icy breath weapon and most of the characters failed their saving throws.  During the second round of combat they breathed on us again and several of the lower level characters were nearly killed so we were forced to withdraw back up the icy ledge.  We threw some of our rations down to distract them as we made our getaway.  Had we realized how dangerous they were, we would have hit them with ranged attacks including fireballs but as it was, we were lucky to escape that encounter without any fatalities.  We eventually made it back to the safety of our ice cave hideout far away from the rift to rest and heal up our wounded comrades.  So we rested up and prepared for our next foray on the following day into the glacial rift.  The odd thing was, on our first outing, we didn’t encounter a single Frost Giant.  This was about to change however...


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl Prologue and Background

Recap from 7/22/2011 Averlorn Session (Part 1 of 2)

After our second foray into the Halls of the Blind we took some time off for the winter for a much needed rest.  After we split up the loot from the foray, each of the group members went back to their city or town of origin to ride out the winter before the anvil was completely snowed in.  Beorn the Bahkshanni dwarf returned to the deep Dwarven halls hidden away in the mountains of the anvil.  Gradwin, Evelyn, Asclepius, Cyrcla, Taleth and Kaira returned to the city of Medea’s Gate where they were originally from while Teth-en-Aire and Lucias returned to the city of Ptoleph on the northern edge of the Anvil to winter over.  It was here that Lucias was granted lands and a title having finally attained named level (9th level fighter).

Lucias was granted the title of Baron by the Duke of Ptoleph.  Previously, he had been granted the title of the Marquis of Stormcall Ridge in the Gorgon’s Trench for taking part in the events that ended up saving the region from being overrun by a horde of undead zombies (see previous recap The Midnight Opal of Shadar from the Barrow Mound of Gravemoor module by Expeditious Retreat Press).  The land was not worth very much except for the occasional turnip farm so he hadn’t spent much time there afterwards as a result.  Besides, it was so far away in a remote backwater of the trench that it was hardly worth the trip. 

The land that the duke granted him was north of the great city of Ptoleph off of the main trade road in the hills near the giant statue of Hephaestus that marks the northern boundary of the Anvil.  The main population center of the Barony of Dunweilding is located in the last village near the King's Road (the main north-south trade road) before one reaches the lands of the elves to the north.  This hilly region is close to the Fossmoor Grove to the northwest and the Whisperwood Hollow to the northeast which are the forests of the elves wherein reside the three great castes of elven society - the Star Elves, the Sun Elves, and the Moon Elves of Averlorn.  The village is known as Cool Rock Springs and is a very small town sporting only one tavern.  The previous lord of this region was deceased and the Duke granted the Barony to Lucias so that he could represent his interests there and act as the protector of the region which is also the northern border of the Duke's domain.  About four miles away from the road further into the hills is the site of the ancient Iron Age hill fort of Dunweilding that is still used from time to time for the local defense due to its strategic placement on the hill top.  It was also placed there to protect the nearby mines and is ringed on three sides by limestone cliffs making it very hard to assault since there is only one logical approach for an attacker.  The mine is an ancient Gnomish copper mine and it is not known if it is played out or not so it may yet contain additional mineral wealth.  Lucias was also granted a Manor House in the city of Ptoleph as is the custom of the region to take care of his affairs while representing the Duke in the city in the House of Lords.

During this time, Lucias heard that the nearest neighbor to the Dunweilding Barony is a Marquis to the south.  Lucias and Teth-en-Aire were staying at the Emporium in Ptoleph while all of the official business of the granting of the Barony was taking place.  The proprietor of the establishment, one Argus Norviadras, told Lucias to keep an eye on his neighbor to the south.  It was being taken care of by a Marquis who was the brother of a Knight who was usually away on quests and military missions for the Duke.  He told me the Marquis has a black heart and is in fact a petty villain who was using his title for personal gain at the expense of others but that his brother the Knight was actually fair and just when he was around.  He went on to say that their father was the Baron of the region but that he is now dead.  He explained further that should the Knight come to an untimely demise, the younger brother would undoubtedly become a greedy and avaricious neighbor. 

So during the official ceremony held by the Duke of Ptoleph Lucias was granted his official baronial title.  He was to be thereafter known as Lord Lucius Artorius Petreius the Baron of Dunweilding north of Ptoleph in the service of the Duke of Ptoleph, and the Marquis of Stormcall Ridge in Spirythol.  The last bit of official business to attend to was to name his younger brother as the Marquis of Dunweilding to manage the affairs of the region in the event of his absence.  This was a happy day for the Petreius family who had moved to Ptoleph when Lucias was a youngster to get away from the rat race that is known as the city of Grand Oryx.  His father was particularly proud as he was just a simple merchant who had built up his business from nothing in the City of Grand Oryx to rise above the squalor.  Once his business was established and prosperous he eventually relocated to the city of Ptoleph after he had made a name for himself as a successful and wealthy merchant.  Seeing his son named as a Lord was more than he could have hoped for from one of his offspring.

So after all of the official business had been taken care of and he had been given a tour of his new lands at the end of the winter in early spring, it was apparent that in order to earn enough money to build a keep, as was now his right, he would need to continue adventuring for the foreseeable future.  Once the group was rejoined afterwards in the city of Medea’s Gate, we went to see Marut of the Surgeons Guild to inquire about the debt they wanted us to settle with them.  When we fought the three Chimeras outside of the Shrine of Zingalis during the previous adventuring season, our NPC ally Teth-en-Aire the Elf had been slain (see recap Of Baked Ham, Horned Devils and Chimeras).  We all contributed gold to having him raised from the dead by the Surgeons of Hecate but such services were not merely financial transactions for them since they usually only cast them on members of their own order.  In addition to financial compensation, they required a debt be repaid which usually entailed some kind of quest or errand of the adventuring kind to be completed by the recipient(s) of the powerful magic.

So when we went to see Marut to settle up this debt, he told us they still had not found the book that they lost previously and required our assistance to recover it.  More than a year ago the surgeons had contacted us about possibly hiring us to attempt to recover a very powerful and dangerous tome that had been lost when an airship went down on the way to the city of Harbor Reach on the eastern coast.  The ship is believed to have been downed near the village of Chapoi across the Forger’s Runnel River in the Anvil.  The Ancient Tome has beaten brass covers and is 16” x 12” x 6” thick and was stored in a chest with a latch.  To the west of Chapoi, a two days hike, the Wild Moon tribe of goblins holds sway and may have had something to do with the downing of the ship.  They ended up sending someone else out to try and locate the book but it was never recovered.  We ended up turning down their offer of employment at the time in order to explore the Tower of Zingalis instead and the other group never managed to locate the tome.  This was before the Ranger Taleth Flavius joined the group and we were ill suited to attempt an overland adventure of this type at the time.  We would have had a hard time just trying not to get lost, much less trying to locate a lost book in the wilderness.

So through divination spells or perhaps even with the assistance of the Oracles, the surgeons managed to locate the tome and it had been moved a great distance from the original wreckage of the dragon ship which was later found near Chapoi.  The information they had discovered revealed that the book was to be found in the treasure trove of a great Frost Giant leader located high in the snowy peaks of the Pillars of Defiance – the great mountain range far to the southwest of Medea’s Gate which marked the southwest boundary of the Anvil of the Gods.  He also told us that we were forbidden to even open up the great tome as it could be dangerous to us.  Marut arranged for the group to receive a number of healing potions and we purchased enough provisions for two weeks and winter clothing so that we could survive the extreme temperatures of the snowy peaks.  We were then flown via dragonship to a site near the glacial rift and dropped off at the drop zone where we were lowered down to the snowy ground below.  We were told that the ships would return to pick us up every three days and were given the means and method to signal them at the site when we were ready to be retrieved from the barren snowy peaks one hour after sunrise on the pre-designated day of retrieval.

So, with our quest at hand we trudged our way through the snow to find the rift of the frost giants.  The ranger managed to find an ice cave nearby which we would use as a base for our forays against the frost giants.   The cave was highly defensible, particularly against giants because it had a small entrance and was hard to locate from the outside.  From the ice cave it was another 3-4 hour hike using snow shoes through deep snows to the glacial rift itself hidden within the valley of the glacier.  So after resting up from our first hike from the drop zone and establishing our base camp, we set off to explore Dungeon Module G2 the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Swords and Wizardry White Box City Campaign: The Entrance to Hollowheim

RECAP from 8/19/2011 S&W Session

We played Swords and Wizardry White Box last night at Scadgrad's house since we were missing too many key players to continue in G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl in our usual Friday night Labyrinth Lord Game. It was the same campaign I played in a few times at Gen Con in the Devil's Breakfast Table neighborhood (a really rough part of town) as the Weaselly Ferrets gang with a slightly different cast of characters. The events take place in a large city setting that is heavily influenced by Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing's default setting (flint lock firearms, chaos enemies, Skaven, Beast Men etc.).  It was a blast like before at Gen Con and below are the hilarious and gruesome results.

A contingent from the Weaselly Ferrets Gang consisting of Franzen Conner the Cleric, Vortigern the Wizard, and his henchman Snit the halfling (amongst others), descended into the depths of the Sikorsky Delve (SPOILER ALERT - this is actually Dyson's Delve modified for the setting) and retrieved a huge sum of loot which was distributed afterwards to those present and a generous cut was given to the two bosses in the interest of full disclosure. 10% was given to Big Slick, our Ogre boss, and 10% was given to the Big Boss Oranishi (also an Ogre) so that they wouldn't think we were holding out on them (which could have gotten us concrete galoshes). We also discovered what we think is the entrance to Hollowheim which was a set of stairs leading down from the Arch Wizard Sikorsky's abandoned lab which is where a good portion of the loot was found. Following is a brief recap of events:

The group descended through the abandoned tenement and into the sewers without a hitch after evicting a few homeless vagabonds from the tenement while en-route. When we descended into the first level, we encountered a large group of Skaven accompanied by two Storm Vermin which we quickly overcame. We descended the stairs to the next level below. The halflings were scouting ahead of the group (we had another one now) and when they got to the intersection where we had previously fought the fire beetles, they were attacked by four of the tough chitinous critters. The halflings tried to flee back to the group but were caught in the hallway by the beetles and a fierce melee ensued. The beetles were dispatched and then we searched their lair (the room with all of the junk in it) and found a locked coffer with 2000 g.p.!

We went back out into the hall and instead of heading back to where the other group had fought the Skaven, slave rats and Storm Vermin, we went the other way instead (down the left hand hallway). We opened a door in that area and were attacked by an old Skaven Sorcerer! He zapped a couple of the front line guys with some kind of lightning spell and we pounced on him and killed him. He had some loot and a +1 suit of halfling sized leather armor that went to Snit. We also fought a large group of giant rats which were quickly overcome and went through a temple which had been re-dedicated to a Skaven god. There were bodies impaled on pikes all over the place. We went back into the hallway and it led to steps down! We went down to the third level and ended up in a catacomb with niches every so often that held old mouldering and dessicated bodies. We searched them methodically and found a large sum of loot in one and lesser sums in several others (we searched about eight of them) and also found a secret door in one of the catacomb burial niches. While searching a few of the last niches, we were attacked by four ghouls. Since we had three clerics in the group, they had no problem turning the ghouls and we decided to head into the secret door before they returned.

The secret door turned out to lead into a tunnel that went on for about a half of a mile. At the end we found the Arch Wizard Sikorsky's lab! There was all kinds of equipment all over the place and two tables. One table had what looked like some kind of watermelon like pod thing on it and the other had a similar pod that had been opened and was empty. Then we were attacked by a spider like crab critter that was hiding under the table that looked like the thing in the first Alien movie! (This was actually a Xenomorph Face Hugger from Digital Orc's Blog) As it attacked, the other pod opened up and another one attacked Snit too! As the first one attacked, its victim tried to disengage from melee but it was way too fast for him and scurried after him along the ground like a crab on crack - there was no escaping these nasty little tick like parasites!  We were horrified at the prospect of what would be birthed from our stomachs should they attach to our faces so we did our best to defeat them as quickly as possible.  We killed them fairly quickly (in one round really) but they sprayed us with acid as they died and a couple of our weapons got damaged and were useless (they required repairs) and snit and the other fighter henchman got burned badly as well.

Then we searched the room and found 4,000 g.p. and a nice stash of gems including five that were worth 500 g.p. each! That was a major jackpot. We also found stairs leading down through the door on the other side of the room which we presume is the long hidden entrance to Hollowheim! Hollowheim is the massive and ancient dungeon below the city, that was previously only accessible from several other gang's turf. If our assumption is correct, it can now be accessed from Weaselly Ferret turf for the first time! In the interest of full disclosure, we told both bosses about our discovery but nobody else outside of the gang.

Afterwards, we threw a big block party for our little four block area to try and win over some local support with our new found wealth. The next day as we were recovering from our revelries, we were summoned to Big Slick's office where he promptly told us that Goldfag was a problem and should be dealt with at our earliest convenience (meaning immediately). Goldfag was the Ogre mercenary who originally told us where the entrance to the Sikorsky Delve was, and that it probably contained an entrance to Hollowheim. Obviously, the bosses thought this was a problem now and decided that he needed to be permanently silenced lest others discover our new found secret. We consulted our information sources and found out where he was likely to be found and where he was last seen.  We then went out into another portion of our big boss's territory that was outside of the Weaselly Ferret's turf and beyond our four block area of control to look for him. We found him arguing with a street merchant over the price and quality of goods he had eaten and was refusing to pay for. One of our hirelings decided to talk to them in an attempt to try and mediate the dispute while the others maintained a low profile elsewhere on the block.

The fighter hireling and our other wizard offered to buy him a drink and he gladly accepted so they headed off to a tavern. We quietly slipped in, two at a time to avoid his notice but he was obviously suspicious of the offer. While he was greedily gulping down his ale and ordering food to try and make the most out of his benefactor's offer, one of our compatriots just outright clocked a nearby bystander and started a huge brawl. Most of the women and others that didn't want to get involved fled out the door, but a good twelve or so tavern goers, along with our group of 9 thugs got into a robust tavern brawl complete with breaking chairs and mugs over each other's heads and general fisticuffs - it was a downright donnybrook! One of the tavern wenches went outside and blew a whistle to summon the city guard as well.

In two rounds, we slowly managed to coerce the brawl into Goldfag's direction while he was still eating and drinking at his table and then we let him have it! Two of our group fired their flint locks at him but both missed (and one accidentally killed our fighter henchman that had started up the conversation with him), the two wizards fired magic missiles at him and Snit threw a dagger at him as well wounding him badly. He struck back hard though and walluped one of our number before we finally jumped him with daggers and rapiers and dispatched him. Meanwhile, the bartender had pulled out an blunderbuss to keep people from trying to rob him in the brawl and once we started attacking the fat ogre, he let us have it and killed the other halfing hireling with his gun (not Snit, the other one). With our foe dead and two of our henchman also lying on the floor in pools of blood and obviously no longer with us, we beat a hasty retreat back to our turf before the city guard showed up. The GM told us aftewards that the bartender was actually a 5th level fighter and not one we wanted to tangle with so much.  And that's where we ended the session...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

GEN CON Indy 2011 Wrap Up...

Well, I went to Gen Con in Indy a couple of weeks ago and had a blast.  Its only the second time I've ever gone and made the trip from Richmond with Scadgrad, our GM from our regular gaming group.  We met up with one of the guys in our online Averlorn game and a few of their friends in Indy.  I went to Gen Con once before in Milwaukee back in the mid nineties while I was freelancing for ICE and had a blast then too.  During that time, I played in a bunch of RPG events, acted as an assistant GM for ICE for a few of their Rolemaster RPG events and manned the ICE booth several times to help them out which was really cool and added a lot to the experience.  

I have to say that Gen Con 2011 was very crowded but there was lots of stuff to do, things to see, things to buy and games to be played.  I signed up kind of late so missed out on most of the good game events but did manage to get into a few good seminars.  One seminar was put on by the guys from Xtreme Dungeon Mastery and it was hilarious - I haven't read their book yet but Tony tells me it is quite good.  It was all about throwing out the rule book when necessary, and doing what you have to do to have fun in the game which is, after all, the whole point of playing any game.

We also went to the PDF Publishing Seminar put on by Wolfgang Baur, Steve Russell from Rite Publishing and I think the third guy was from Super Genius Games but I didn't write his name down.  Tony and I went to this seminar because we have been contemplating doing some self published PDFs for a while now (he's an artist and graphic designer and a very good and creative GM and I'm a published game artist, architect and amateur writer) and wanted to get a bit of info on how to go about it and what's involved.  What amazed me from the seminar is that there are people out there (like Steve Russell among others) who actually publish PDF RPG products for a living.  They have actually turned this pursuit into a viable business and a full time job!  I never even thought that was possible but it is an interesting revelation.  They talked about all kinds of aspects of PDF publishing like frequency of publication (weekly, monthly or whatever), turning your PDFs into actual printed works through print on demand verses larger publishing runs, business aspects such as legal protection of your personal assets by setting up an LLC, accounting issues (don't overlook this important aspect of the business), price points for the sale of your product, marketing, subscription models, and distribution platforms such as Drive Thru RPG and the IPR (for Indy games) among others.  All in all it was a very insightful, informative, and well done presentation.

Joseph Browning at The OSR Booth
We also went on our daily tours of the convention floor and auction hall and visited all kinds of booths in search of  new or used game products, dice, and gaming accessories or to find out about all of the cool new games being published or produced which was a lot of fun.  I spent a lot of time at the OSR booth and checked out a bunch of new games and products from a number of established publishers and some newer ones as well.  I also had the opportunity to meet Joseph Browning of Expeditious Retreat Press.  We played through one of his modules in our Averlorn Campaign - you can read the recaps here: The Barrow Mound of Gravemoor.  Several of the guys bought new board games and we tried them out in the hotel room or the public areas of the hotel.  We also had a chance to play Swords and Wizardry White Box a few times and I have to say, I was impressed with it.  It was a lot of fun and seriously simple to play rules wise.  I was a bit skeptical about playing a 0E system at first but once you get over that and realize how easy it is, it really makes the game play fast, so we managed to get a lot done in only a few sessions.  Plus character creation is a breeze - we had new characters up and running in about 15-20 minutes.

I also spent some time networking and scouting out game companies in an effort to find some cartography work and met some really cool people in the RPG business.  I even ran into a few old friends from back in the ICE days.  All in all it was a lot of fun and I would really like to go again in the future if possible. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

ICE Merp Layouts from the Palantir Quest and Minas Tirith Modules

The first ICE MERP 2nd Edition modules that I did artwork for starting in March of 1994 were the Palantir Quest adventure module and the city module for Minas Tirith.  I was just developing my drawing style at this point and the CAD drawings weren't as nice as the first hand drawn ones so I'm posting the hand drawings here now for this blog post.  I may post some of the CAD drawings from this module at a later date along with some of the other hand drawn illustrations that aren't shown here.  The coolest one of the bunch has to be the town of Larach Duhnnan map that I drew by hand for the Palantir Quest.  I remember spending a lot of time on this one and it shows (there's a lot of ink on the page).

The Town of Larach Duhnnan Map from ICE's MERP 2nd Edition module for the Palantir Quest

The next illustration is also from the Palantir Quest and depicts an architectural floor plan of the ruins of the Royal Library at Annuminas.  The ruined portions are represented by the dash-dot line hatch and the intact portions are represented as solid walls by the black poche (the solid black fill).  Again, there is no text on these pre-press layouts as it was added later for the area/room keys, the graphic scale, the north arrow and the legend which is typical of most of these scans.

Palantir Quest ruins of the Royal Library at Annuminas

The final drawing I'm posting here from the Palantir Quest is the Smuggler's Cave and Lake Town hideaway where some important clues for completing the quest are located.  Note the larger scale waterfront lake town location map at the top and the close up view of the Ruins and Smuggler's Cave below.

Palantir Quest Lake Town Smuggler's Cave and ruins with water front site plan

All of these layouts were drawn using ink on vellum which was my usual medium for the hand drawn illustrations that I did back then.  The next illustrations were done for the MERP Minas Tirith Module.  I did quite a few more city dwellings and other structures for that module but these were the two nicest ones of the bunch.

Minas Tirith Walled Manor House

The final layout in this series is an upscale dwelling with a pool on the first floor and elaborate rooftop gardens above the second floor accessed from the spiral staircase.  I did a number of other simpler dwellings for this module but none quite as elaborate or interesting as these two.

Minas Tirith upscale dwelling

Copyright notice:  All original artwork on this page is displayed for self promotion purposes only and is copyrighted by the original artist, Daniel Cruger.  This artwork may be downloaded and used for personal use only and may not be reproduced for commercial purposes in any way without the express written consent of the owner.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: Return to the Halls of the Blind - Part Two

Recap from 7/15/2011

This is part two of a two part recap and picks up where part one left off.  The stealthy scouting party on the left with the ranger and assassin leading the way had just opened up the door into the fountain hall of Athena within the Halls of the Blind, and managed to surprise a large group of twelve of the goat like demonic Beast Men and six Minotaurs and things were about to get very interesting.  Some of the Beast Men and Minotaurs were actually blindfolded and we presumed that they were indeed blind but that their other senses were heightened to make up for it (they had blind fighting abilities).  We were convinced that there was something in this place that made some of them blind but had yet to ascertain what that was. 

So Evelyn the human assassin waded into the room and headed towards the right to attempt to carve a path to the other group and link up with them.  She successfully assassinated one of the blind goat men on the way and it blinked out of the prime material plane and was transported back to its plane of origin.  Since some of the Beast Men were already blind and she was carrying the dagger with the silence spell cast on it, she automatically succeeded in her stalk and hide roll and had no problem dispatching one of the blind ones with her bow as she waded into the fray.  Taleth also waded into the Fray and headed off to the left to try and draw some of the creatures away from the rest of the party.  Meanwhile, since Ferris couldn’t cast any spells because of the silence spell, he headed back the way they had come to inform the other invisible group at the main entrance that they should move into the fountain room and start the attack from that side as well.  Kalaneikos and Kaira waded into the room after Evelyn and formed a line with their backs to the door while Teth-en-Aire headed deeper into the room surrounded by foes and hacked away with his sword Cold Cleaver.  As he did so, he bellowed “I’m heading for the fountain” as he eyed the magical waters thirstily, even though it was still beyond his reach due to the beastly occupants spread out throughout the room.

Meanwhile, Ferris reached the silent and invisible group of adventurers waiting for the signal and motioned for them to start their attack.  Gradwin dropped his coin of Silence so that he and the others could cast spells and the unseen group slipped in and attacked the unsuspecting creatures from the main entrance side as their attention was directed to the threat to their left.  As they entered the room and attacked, this group became visible (the Invisibility 10’ Radius spell was dispelled) and they formed a line with Cyrcla on the right next to the wall with Lucias to her left and Bellinorn to the left of him as they faced off against their opponents and started hacking away with their swords.  The spellcasters in the rear began to lend their magical assistance to the fray as well and hurled magic missiles and fired arrows into the opposing throng.  Gradwin cast the cleric spell Sticks to Snakes on a handful of sticks he had picked up outside and cast them amongst the hapless creatures and they sprang to life and began to crawl towards our foes and bit some of them with their poisonous fangs.

Meanwhile, Taleth quickly found himself in a fine pickle as about four or so Beast Men and one or two Minotaurs quickly surrounded the ranger and he found himself being attacked from three sides at once.  Quickly seeing the predicament he was in, he withdrew from his attackers around the corner into an alcove and fought with his back to the wall so that he couldn’t be flanked by his foes.  He was still outnumbered three to one and was sorely pressed despite his impressive armored protection.  Back at the door, Teth-en-Aire managed to cast a lightning bolt across the room through the group of monsters that was stacked up against us several layers deep and killed and badly burned a number of them as the acrid smell of burnt ozone filled the dank dungeon air.  Evelyn threw her silenced dagger across the room so that the spellcasters in the first group could cast spells and it landed on the floor next to a door across the room from the fountain.  Kaira was not in a spellcasting mood though as her and Kalaneikos were pressed from all sides by the throng but they held their position and fought on with their spears.

Back on the right side at the main entry, the main force was starting to make some headway through the mob due to the exertions the three strong sword arms of Cyrcla, Lucias and Bellinorn and with the magical support and archery of Asclepius, Ferris and Gradwin behind them.  Gradwin continued to direct his little poisonous snake swarm into the midst of our enemies and their poisonous fangs began to take a toll on them.  Evelyn had managed to cut down a few more victims and met up with Bellinorn who likewise had hacked his way to her to link up the two groups even though the group at the door was still not quite fully in contact with the group on the right side yet.  Teth-en-Aire finally managed to hack his way past the giant statue of Athena to the fountain and jumped in screaming “come in after me you dogs!” while swinging his sword Cold Cleaver wildly in the air.  We knew that the water of the fountain was somehow poisonous to the evil inhabitants of the place since a couple of them had been turned to stone previously when they had tried to drink from it, and their stone statue like forms still remained standing next to the pool in the midst of all of the fighting.  It was a smart move on his part as they would be reluctant to enter the enchanted waters of the fountain and it wasn’t likely to harm him since he was of a lawful nature.

There were still more than half of the original number of occupants fighting in the room but the Minotaur bodies were starting to pile up and the Beast Men that were cut down merely vanished when they died and returned to their plane of origin in Hades or Tarterus.  Taleth the Ranger was still holding his own with his back to the wall but was starting to get pretty beat up and the two characters at the door were still desperately trying to hold back the mob which surrounded them on all sides.  Eventually, the group on the right felled more foes and began to swing their way towards the others at the door and towards Teth-en-Aire at the Fountain.  The tide of the battle was finally turning in our favor as it ebbed and flowed like the churning waves of a tidal sea of steel and bloody carnage.

Evelyn, Bellinorn and Gradwin finally managed to link up with Kaira and Kalaneikos at the door.  The rest of the group on the right including all of the other arcane spellcasters made their way to the fountain as the remaining Beast Men and Minotaurs either fell back or were cut down where they fought.  Lucias hacked his way past the group at the door and around the corner to link up with Taleth and helped him to dispatch the three remaining creatures that still had him hemmed in around the corner.  One of the Beast Men who saw that their plight was desperate at this point ran away from the group and went into a room on the left of the fountain through a door and promptly closed it behind him.  Another one ran into a room opposite the main entrance to the right of the fountain on the far wall.  Meanwhile, Ferris cast Summon Monster I on the door on the left in the hopes of ambushing the Beast Man and any reinforcements he brought with him through the door.  We knew the evil Maenad was here somewhere but didn’t know which door she would emerge from.

With most of the arcane spellcasters now either standing at or in the fountain (Teth-en-Aire, Asclepius, Ferris and Cyrcla), Cyrcla took the opportunity to cast Mirror Image on herself as a precaution against reinforcements and suddenly there were five Cyrclas standing there.  As if on cue, the door on the right far wall opened up and five demonic looking bestial creatures with acidic spittle frothing from their cruel fang filled mouths came out of the room and three surrounded Cyrcla on three sides.  The other two Acid Beasts headed towards Gradwin, Kaira and Kalaneikos near the door.

At about the same time, the door on the left opposite the fountain opened up and the Maenad emerged with a few Beast Men escorts and started singing her horrible song of enchantment.  The song was the spell like equivalent of Confusion but we got lucky and everyone but Asclepius and Gradwin made their savings throws to ward off its affects.  The group was also fortunate that Gradwin turned to face the two Acid Beasts to fight them rather than turning on the group and engaged them in melee as they belched forth noxious and corrosive acid all over him wounding him horribly and burning most of his belongings including his armor and sword as it smoked and sizzled along with bits of his flesh. 

Gradwin did manage to do one thing for the Maenad though while under her spell – he directed his swarm of poisonous vipers into the fountain where Asclepius, Teth-en-Aire and Ferris were now standing.  Asclepius just stood in the fountain gibbering like a madman while the snakes swarmed all around his legs and the other two, startled at this development, jumped out of the fountain just as fast as their happy feet could take them (they did the snake dance LOL).  Meanwhile, Cyrcla who had been facing the three Acid Beasts single handedly, withdrew to safety on the far side of the room after they eliminated three of her four mirror images and Ferris managed to cast web on them which kept them from attacking Asclepius in the fountain or any of the others at least for the time being.

The group was also fortunate that the two strongest fighters in the room were around the corner where Lucias had just helped Taleth to eliminate the last of his attackers and so they were spared the affects of the Confusion spell.  The two quickly sprang into action along with Bellinorn and Kalaneikos to attack the Beast Men who protected their master the Maenad.  It didn’t take long for the four fighters to cut down the escorts and finally, the big bad boss monster Maenad.  The rest of the group directed their fire on the five Acid Beasts and quickly dispatched them with a combination of arrows, magic missiles and sword strokes to finally end the massive swirling melee.  In all the group managed to defeat some twenty or more Beast Mean (including some blind ones), six Minotaurs, five Acid Beasts and a Maenad in a brief but savage melee that lasted no more than fifteen minutes or so of game time (but 2 ½ hours of action packed melee in real time).  We were fortunate to have taken no serious casualties as well – once the Maenad was dispatched Asclepius came to his senses and jumped out of the snake filled pool and Gradwin likewise came to his senses and stopped concentrating on his Sticks to Snakes spell as well.

The three elves, the wizard and the cleric wizard all turned their attention to the fountain at this point.  Before we entered the Halls of the Blind, Kaira had cast a Divination spell on the place to ask her god Athena for information about the Temple of Athena and Hall of the Fountain of the Confessors.  Athena had replied with a booming voice in her mind “Our Temple has been infested by Minotaurs and their hellish cousins the Beast Men.  Beware the Maenad, she is a powerful spell caster and is a creature that is native to the plane of Faerie.  Only those who are of a good nature should drink from the fountain.”  So with this warning in mind, Teth-en-Aire read the inscription on the scroll held by the giant statue of Athena that stood before the fountain.

The inscription instructed the reader to recite the Litany written on the scroll in Promethean (the language of the Angels) before drinking from the water that flowed out of the horn held by the Dryad statue that was the source of the water that poured into the fountain.  So Teth-en-Aire read the Litany and drank from the fountain and his Intelligence was increased by one.  He was followed by Asclepius, and Cyrcla and they were likewise rewarded.  Ferris was reluctant to drink from the fountain since he was of a neutral alignment but threw caution to the wind and read the litany and drank the flowing water from the magical fountain as well.  As the pure, cool and cleansing water washed through him, his body and spirit were purified and he was swept with the lawful will of Athena – he did not receive the benefit of a raised intelligence but instead, his alignment was changed from Neutral to Lawful and all of the dark and shadowy fears, motivations, inhibitions and thoughts that had resided in his mind were swept cleanly away as if by a refreshing spring breeze.  Kaira also read the litany and drank from the fountain as well and was rewarded by her god Athena for helping to free the place of the vile infestation with an increase to her Wisdom score.

So the group searched the Maenad’s room and found a rather large hoard of gems and jewelry.  It was obvious that she was quite fond of fine jewelry due to the large number of precious jeweled items that were found there.  We also found a few potions as well along with an enchanted longsword which was given to Gradwin to replace the one that he had been carrying that was destroyed by the acid.  We opened up the door to the Acid Beast room but quickly closed it when we discerned that it was full of the corrosive acid and was dangerous to both our well being and to our equipment and magic items.  So with our immediate quest at an end, we fell back to the safety of Slagford for a well deserved rest and revelry for our successful second foray into the Halls of the Blind.