|2nd Expedition in Red|
Based on a map by Dyson Logos
After the battle in March, the party decided rather than going back into the tombs they had discovered, instead they would try their hands at a nearby wizard tower they had heard of. The elvish wizard/thief having hired one of the men at arms he had led in battle and a local guide having been rented, they proceeded to The Gibbering Tower, where they completely failed to die; although the elvish wizard /thief did spend a night in a tree after failing to save vs Fear.
Finding out some clues about the afore mentioned tombs perhaps being the burying place of another magus; the dwarf convinced the party that they should return in hopes of his obtaining a Black Blade.
Before they departed Smalplotz, they spied a dusty figure trudging up the road from Hovelhof, with a scythe over their shoulder. A young peasant from the Border Princes, now a candidate paladin for the Order of the Fiery Heart, had been sent out on a quest to kill a manticore (how convenient). [We added a new/old player to our regular group. New that he hasn't gamed with us before. Old, that he gamed with me almost thirty years ago and his college RPG group included players who had played with Dave Arneson's group.]
Having given much thought to the issue of how a party on foot can track an airborne predator, I had prepared NPCs with visions and cryptic clues. Even going so far as to find a rhyming resource webpage for some close at hand divinations. Of course they rolled the manticore for their very first random encounter, as it was flying dawn patrol. It came in and started noshing on the sentries, but they at least managed to wake the camp. I say at least because they weren't doing any damage. After a brief discussion where I laid down the law that it doesn't matter if how many people are helping you get your armor on, when you're doing it in a crowded lean-to it takes twice the book time, the party got into gear, rolled out and took the manticore down before it could finish off the sentry or escape. All that rhythmic prep work gone to waste - I'm sure somebody will say it's poetic justice.
They healed up and pushed on to the tomb, where they noticed that the body of Rumpus, the NPC killed in the bugbear drive by at the end of their first trip, was gone and so were the markings they had placed around the trap they weren't able to disable. Deciding to deal with the bugbears first, they headed down the stairs and out the back of the tomb. They easily found the passage dug out of the back into the caverns. They also noticed a lack of any rubble or large pieces of debris from the digging. I think they were getting jumpy about encountering any of the slimes or jellies that normally clean dungeons.
Staying to the right in the caverns, they found the shaft back up with a rope hanging out of it. Despite the rope breaking after the third character to fail their climb check, they managed to get up to the next level. There they turned right into a large hall and started checking the doors. This brought the elven thief to the front finally, where he immediately noticed he'd picked the lock before. They were back at the door to the rock thrower's hall. Even better at this point they hadn't been discovered. Of course, as soon as they started buffing, the monsters heard and sent off for reinforcements.
A couple of rocks sailed out of the darkness and through the opened door without hurting anyone. They entered to find a hill giant and two goblins doing shoot and scoot across the great hall as they advanced, not making a stand until they reached the far door. Zolda's player figured out where all the rubble from the mining had gone. He attacked one goblin while the paladin and the wizard/thief attacked the other goblin, none other than the chieftain in the silk shirt. The fighter (unwisely) decided to engage the hill giant alone in melee, while the dwarven magus cast Flaming Sphere. The hill giant surprisingly made his save, and stuck it's great club into the flames to get a little extra fire damage going. . A couple of good whacks later the fighter was out of combat, while the giant drank a potion. The chieftain being dead by now, the paladin (also unwisely) moved into unsupported melee with the giant, just as the first of the bugbears entered in. It was nip and tuck for the party, the paladin went sailing when the hill giant scored a critical, but the magus? managed to put the giant down with a final burst of magic missiles. The eleven wizard/thief evened the odds with a well placed color spray, enabling the party to whittle down the ten meatshield bugbears in front of the bugbear leader and the goblin messenger who had fetched them. The magus ended up going into combat with the leader, who whacked him for a critical with a long sword. The magus was concerned and surprised when he felt how happy it made the sword to hit him. The elven bard managed to get the paladin back on his feet and the last few bugbears, led by their boss, tried to cut and run. That didn't last. The magus, thinking that the bugbear might have been using his destined Black Blade, pursued and killed the boss and the goblin in the next room. Sadly, the sword, being +1/+2 vs Magic Users and not a Black Blade, rejected him. Although he did find the boss had a strange triangular shield that weighed practically nothing. Even odder that shield wasn't magical and no one could identify the metal. [Spoiler - it's a duralloy hull patch from the Starship Warden]
The party decided barricade the entrances and rest; usually this is a recipe for disaster, but in this case they've cleaned out the organized monsters and just need to clean up the loot, kill the odd monster left (if they can) and solve a riddle that hasn't been asked yet. A fun night.