It has been. . .a long time since we played our main campaign. We left off having just discovered what was up with this place, and having for the first time a clear goal. Follow the blue lights to the bad guy and kill him. Get rewarded with stuff.
We started this session with:
Therryk, Dragonborn Paladin played by me
Ana, Half Elf Cleric played by Chelsea
Halma, Human Rogue played by Jesse
Lucan, Elf Fighter played by Colin, who also DMed.
A short time into the game Gennal, the Elven Ranger played by Mackenzy joined us.
The blue light led us deeper into the complex. As we travel it gets hotter and more humid. We see signs of steam power everywhere, and are caught off guard by a damaged pipe blasting steam at us. Clattering and scurrying just out of the range of our vision seems to follow us, though Ana catches a glimpse of a cat sized bug as it scurries from view. The lights lead us to a very large and heavy door that we can't budge. Attempting to use the lever near the doorway is useless, and Halma believes that it is because the steam required to power the mechanism is not being directed here. The cold pipes in the reason seem to confirm this, and we backtrack to where we think we can switch it over.
Our backtrack leads us to a large room:
The L-shaped structures to the sides were pipes rising from the floor, following the outlined L shape, and returning to the floor. The shaded pieces were debris, and the other end of the room was an elevated platform. The X's were spots where a large pendulum swung, alternating back and forth between the two spots. The lines on the front of the platforms represented two control wheels. We spotted two man-sized robots and Halma had a chance to catch them off guard with a dagger (Critical!) before we started combat:
- The mechanized creations were in the process of hammering at the pipes with their axe-arms, but stopped to try hammering on us with them.
- Once we begin fighting a swarm of insects emerge from the debris and scuttle towards us.
- Two large bugs join the fray. Halma spins and tosses his dagger in a blinding barrage, his dagger magically appearing in his hand for an instant only to fly back towards another bug. Half of them fall dead.
- Ana calls upon the power of her god and a radiant pulse pulverizes her enemies and bolsters her allies. Only the largest two bugs remain standing.
- Lucan stabs at the nearest one in a devastating series of blows, breaking it's guard and tearing it's carapace, leaving a squishy mess on the floor (Two Criticals!)
- One of the axe men rushes to the platform and turns the crank on the right all the way, immediately exceeding the allowable pressure on the pipe on that side causing it to explode in a mess of steam and shrapnel. Ana, Lucan, and Halma are caught in the blast but continue fighting through their wounds.
- The robot grabs the pendulum with his non-axe arm and swings across to the other side, preparing to do the same thing if we get to near that pipe.
- Halma sprints forward, leaping on top of the pile of junk and sliding down, slipping his dagger into a beetle with a flourish at the end.
- Lucan charges up the stairs, throwing his trident an instant before the axe man can turn the wheel. The trident knocks him off of the edge, stalling the threat for now.
- Halma tosses his dagger as the beetle moves away from him, it buries itself in a soft spot, only to appear an instant later in his hand.
- Therryk hits for seemingly the first time, cutting down the final enemy and ending the immediate threat.
After examining the machines in this room, Halma and Ana adjust the position of the remaining control wheel and we are able to go back and open the door. We meet our old friend Gennal, it seems he has been meditating and searching for a loyal beast companion in the forest around Fallcrest. Having found one, he immediately followed the trail of rumors and tracked us down with his Ranger's skill here in the dungeon. We were grateful for his help in the coming battles.
The blue light leads us deeper into the bowels of this place, and the atmosphere gets steamier and warmer still. It disappears at the entrance of an odd room, and we see it continuing on the far side:
The two fearless defenders get to right. . .*there*, and two enormous crocodiles lunge from the water and attack. The room is an artificial swamp, with difficult to determine boundaries, and standing water in the middle with an island. Shrubberies dot the room. A thin mist pervades, and the door on the opposite wall appears to stand in the middle of a swampy wilderness, and only by touching the wall can we determine that it is really there. Immediately after the crocodiles attack, the battlefield changes:
- Three mastiff sized lizards slink from the underbrush and spit acidic goo at Gennal. It bloodies him before he gets to act.
- Lucan and Therryk each go toe to toe with a crocodile, Therryk calls upon his divine connection to close some of Gennal's wounds, though the divine attack doesn't even faze the crocodile.
- Halma slinks around the edge of the battlefield, looking for a chance to dart in.
- Ana holds her holy symbol aloft and a divine glow washes over her nearby teammates. Her holy symbol holds the glow for the rest of the battle, increasing her ability to heal her allies.
- The creatures seem disheartened, and their attacks do little as we begin to push back.
- Ana hits a crocodile with a divine attack, distracting it from Halma darting from the brush to slip a dagger under it's leg. A gout of blood spurts from the wound and the crocodile goes belly up.
- The remaining crocodile gets its jaws on Lucan's leg and pulls with a twist. Lucan cries out in pain. (Critical!)
- Gennal and his wolf companion have moved in on the lizards, making it tough for them to spew their poison.
- Lucan lashes out with his trident, attempting to shove the crocodile from his leg and managing to skewer it's tiny brain.
- The mop up action with the lizard revealed that our careful jumping over the water was warranted. Gennal stumbled into the water and was burned again by more acid.
We pick up the trail of the blue light on the other side of the room and follow it down. It terminates at the doorway of a large room. The center of the room is dominated by a large cage, with a platform elevated above the rest of the room. Pipes crisscross the room, and we can hear gears and other machinery below us and around us. On the platform inside the cage at the center of the room is a thick pipe that loops out of the ground. We can feel the energy leaking from the pipe as well as see it. Black necrotic power is washing over a mechanical man standing next to the pipe. He is wearing skins and furs of animals, the first such robot that we have seen do so. We learn that the pipe is part of the vast mechanism that manages the "entropy" of the dying human creators. This pipe carries away the negative energy that would corrupt the souls of the bodies kept in suspension, and allows them to fulfil their purpose. The robot tells us that the machine is alive, and that repairing the rift will not be allowed. We also learn that this robot considers himself one with this machine. Diplomacy and Intimidation exhausted, battle begins when a large black tangle of dark energy appears in front of us:
- Halma rushes to try and lock down the robot.
- Therryk feels that he can sacrifice some of his vital force shut down the leak, and does so while attacking the black tangle.
- Ana retreats from the melee and concentrates on using her divine connection to seal the leak.
- Lucan furiously stabs at the blob with his trident, and scores several solid hits on it (Critical!). As a result the Blob splits into two equal sized black tangles of energy.
- The robot in skins hits Halma with eldrich energy, but he manages to shrug it off for now.
- Halma strikes back by attempting to drive him through the cage and over the edge, but the cage is too strong.
- Therryk shouts words of inspiration to Ana, and she retreats before the advance of the second blob, healing herself.
- The robot teleports away from Halma and conjures a stinging black darkness over the cluster of party members in the doorway. Ongoing necrotic damage from the blob's attacks and damage from the dark cloud knock Therryk down and unconscious.
- Gennal attacks and hits the original blog hard (Critical!)
- The robot follows it up with a solid smack from his hammer that shoves Halma back a step, and then places a curse on him discouraging Halma from moving closer.
- Therryk slips closer to death, and would have died, but the robot's spell dissipated allowing Ana to call upon her god for healing.
- Lucan stabs at a blob, doing serious damage but it still looks as dangerous as ever (Critical!).
- Ana raises her holy symbol, and two bolts of radiant light shoot from her hand and destroy the blobs.
- The robot rushes down the stairs, and is stopped at the bottom by a battered Therryk and Lucan blocking the way. Therryk slashes at him, and hits, providing the distraction for Halma to fly in. Halma runs towards the stairs, takes two steps on the wall, tumbles in the air and buries his dagger in the furs. A furious shriek is his reward.
- Ana uses her rapidly diminishing healing ability to bolster Lucan, and is rewarded by the robot teleporting right to her.
- With the resources of the whole party bearing down on him he doesn't last long. Lucan shoves him around with his trident, Gennal pumps arrows into him, but he is finally brought down by a cleverly placed dagger belonging to Halma.
Our guiding light turns beige, and we are able to follow it back and claim our reward! Magic items are doled out, and our mission is complete...
I noticed I am moving towards more linear style and it is taking longer to write these. Of course, they are getting longer, too. I am not sure I like the linear retelling of the combat. We will see. I haven't been doing it long enough to settle into a style. Also. . .I am hating these cell phone camera pics. I might start using my camera, even though I will be mocked mercilessly by my wife. That is her job. I only posted the ones I have to show how we are using the condition markers. They come in most useful when determining which defender marked who, and who has been cursed or quarried.
The final battle was tough. Very tough. Therryk has 11 surges and 40 HP. He was at -15 (5 from dying), with 2 failed death saves when Chelsea healed him up. After the fight I counted up and realized that Therryk was out. 11 surges used. Lucan stayed in single digits much of the last half of the fight. The two blobs made it functionally impossible for someone to get up to help Halma flank. He did what he could by himself, but was out of options pretty much when Chelsea dropped the two blobs. I was seriously thinking that Gennal would have to make it out to tell our friends and family how we died, since he was closest to the door. And an Elf. During the fight we had a skill challenge option that we could take as a free action on our turn. We could sacrifice a healing surge, or try and use a religion or arcana roll to gain a success. I contributed 2 surges, and exhausted that option, but the only person really capable of making the required DC was Ana. And she rolled a couple stinkers. As it was, we killed our opponents before we completed the challenge and Colin sort of hand waved it finished. In fact, as we were past quitting time he hand waved the entire wrap up, handed out magic items (woo hoo, finally!), and we called it done. Next week, my turn...