So, with this inauspicious start, the "Fabulous Five" trekked off toward Dwimmermount. Here's the party's roster:
- Y'draneal -- elven cartographer and thief 4
- Ivor the Doorman -- fighter 4
- Hurtis -- fighter 2
- Sergei -- Fighter 1
- 2 Dwimmerling dwarves (NPCs working off their debt)
Steered by Y'draneal's prized maps, the group hastened through The Path of Mavors and down to level 2 without any encounters or entanglements (even the toll-taking, sentient rats were conspicuously absent). Advancing along the western end of explored territory, the adventurers entered first one broad, columned hall (devoted to the four elements), then another.
In this second hall they discovered columns clad in rare metals. Hurtis made an effort to pry some of this material free with Sergei's crowbar, but the work was slow, and in the end they decided to mark their map for the future and move onward.
In the long hallway beyond, the group soon learned that the noise they had made hadn't gone unnoticed. A northern door was jerked partially opened and two flasks of oil were hurled their way, followed by a lit torch!
The torch throw went long, however, and while a pair of great Dwimmer-goblins fired crossbows from behind the partial cover of the door, another torch was kindled.
The adventurers weren't particularly coordinated in their response, some retreated while others advanced, or just stood their ground, but the big goblins continued to suffer from poor luck on their torch throws. Finally, Hurtis led a charge and he, Sergei, and Ivor were successful in forcing the door, slaying a goblin, and wounding two others. The creatures' morale broke and they withdrew hastily and in good order, while Y'draneal kept up a steady stream of arrows, risking shots into melee to hasten the retreat.
Pursuing the great goblins through a room of strange, fluid-filled tanks, Hurtis and Sergei kept up the chase. They succeeded in running the goblins down, overtaking them when they hesitated just outside a door. In the face of spears and arrows, the Dwimmer-goblins dared to open the portal, only to reveal a dreadful, undead guardian!
The horrid deadite sprang forward, draining the life from the first goblin at a mere touch.
"Oh no ..."
"Last time we fought one of these guys I lost like 12 hit points permanently."
"If I lost 12 hit points I'd be at -1."
"I'd be at like -3."
As the group back-peddled, Ivor switched from his greatsword to spear and shield to improve his armor class.
"You can only hurt them with spells or magic."
"But we don't have that!"
"The only thing I've got are my purple arrows."
"Well, at least I have a clear shot now."
"Yeah, you did your job, man."
|(c) Wayne Reynolds 2000|
At last, a third azoth-arrow punched into the vile wight, banishing the deadly spirit and leaving a mere battered, mummified husk behind. Sergei's player succeeded on three straight death saves, with the result that he was found not to be dead, but only stunned (reduced to 1 hp), the arrow having glanced off of his shoulder blade.
The group dared to explore one room further, but in the end they came away with but a double handful of coins taken from the vanquished goblins for all their pains.
This was a solid, little session. It showed me how my players are growing more dungeon-savvy and cemented for me my approach toward "energy draining" undead. Having hits deal permanent damage brings the fear, but doesn't require the bookkeeping of reducing a character's level mid-encounter (xp, spells, hit modifiers, saving throws, etc.).
And though it isn't my core system of choice, I'm also really on board with a few elements of 5th edition D&D ... namely ...
- death checks -- these are just great (the player of a downed character gets something to do)
- advantage / disadvantage (saves time and page-flipping)
- occasional feats / special abilities for fighters are solid and add to the player's options without making things cumbersome (fighting style, bonus attack, second wind, etc.)
I can see a couple of these elements making their way into my own set of D&D "house rules" should I ever try to codify them.