So, on Thursday, in a make up session for the previous Sunday that got canceled because someone had a party he just had to go to in honor of what would have been his grandparents 75th Anniversary that allowed him to reconnect with family he hadn’t seen in over half a decade, we played DnD!
When we last left our heroes they had just reached a cliff face and were taking a short rest before heading off to find and kill a horde of gnolls. Suddenly and inexplicably, and yet in perfect attunement with his character, Dragon Man purloined the magic riddle ball that Ulfgar had stolen earlier in the day, and decided he wanted nothing more than to sit there and play with it. (Out of Game: Harper didn’t show.)
The rest of the party decided to just get on with it, and started exploring the forest after resting in the underside of the cliffs.
Coming to a log across a river with alligators in it, the party sent across the Bard with a rope, which allowed Nory, Becky, and Ulfgar to across over easily as Henk held the other end taught. Then Henk attempted to cross without benefit of the rope, but fell in! But as that rope was tied about him, the party was able to pull him back onto the log, and Henk climbed the rest of the way to safety. The alligators didn’t get him!
They found, shortly thereafter, a temple, but less of a temple than a fancy fortified fortress, with towers at each of the four corners, and gnolls pacing along the front on guard. Cautious that there might be reinforcements waiting within should these exterior gnolls come under attack, the party opted to attempt a more discrete entrance, and sent the Thoroughly Useless Bard off to investigate. The Bard found a sewage grating. He returned with the party, who collectively managed to pry the grating loose and begin traveling up the drain. Coming into an open sewer beneath a system of latrines, the party discovered the corpse, not of a gnoll, but of a small goblin! Confused as to his presence, Ulfgar turned the body over, finding it partially digested. However, due to the overwhelming stench of the place, he failed to notice the enormous carnivorous slug directly above him, and was immediately attacked.
After the party did away with the slug, they found an ancient dwarven pendant made of diamonds and gold. Unfortunately, the latrines were too thin for most of the party to fit through, so they had to turn back the way they had come.
The grate being a bust for entrance, the party decided to get on with it and attack the front entrance. Utilizing a pincer attack, with Ulfgar and Nory standing at angles to either side to prevent escape and the melee fighters rushing into combat, the party made short work of the guards, and were happy to see the arrival of zero reinforcements. Stupid gnolls.
The party found the giant front doors of the temple unguarded, and entered. Fighting off some hyenas in the front room and on the first floor of the tower located to their left, they made their way to the second (and last) floor of the tower, and took a short rest to recuperate. While resting, Henk found an ok longsword remaining in what used to be the room’s armory.
Heading back down, a little refreshed, they entered the tower on the right. There, they found a human statue defaced with a gnoll head, the distant sound of laughter, and some writing along the bottom. When Ulfgar tried reading it, it turned out to be mystic ruins! And Henk and Useless Bard fell to the ground laughing! Leaving only Ulfgar (on his last spells), Nory (not exactly rolling the best), and Becky the Wonder Girl (a 0-level character) on their feet!
A trio of gnolls scampered down the stairs and, finding Henk collapsed at the foot of them, followed gnoll nature and immediately started attacking him while he was down. (Good Tanking, Hank. Good Tanking.) That left Ulfgar and Nory free to hurl spells at the gnolls until Useless Bard and Henk could get to their feet.
By the end of the fight, while the gnolls lay headless upon the ground, (the sacks the party carried for gnoll heads were neigh fit for bursting), most of the party’s spells were cast and, as it was late, the party opted to bed down in the second floor of the tower they had taken a short rest in.
But it was not to be! During Nory’s shift, a horde of gnolls burst in and started attacking the party! Including the lightning firer from the night before! Revealed, not to be Becky the Wonder Girl’s father, but a gnoll in dark vision goggles innately capable of great speed!
The fight was not going well. Quickly, Becky was dying on the floor, and Nory was on his last legs. But, once the the melee gnolls had been taken care of, Ulfgar was able to get off his last two Scorching Rays on the Archer, allowing Henk the Severely Depleted Tank and the Useless Bard to finish him off with the aid of the Useless Bard’s invisibility spells. While they finished him off, Nory did his Nory thing and coaxed Becky back from the edge with sweet nothings of the Unfathomable Terrors Waiting on the Edge of Madness, and Becky returned to the land of the living perky and quick.
Upon the Archer Gnoll they found a magic bow that fired electricity and a pair of goggles of dark vision. The Bard took the goggles; the Tank took the bow.
Now, with Nory a hop away from joining Becky down and out, and Becky not ever being too far from the edge herself, and Henk having been thoroughly a Tank throughout the now many encounters, the party was looking pretty rough, and Ulfgar, lawful good as he is, suggested a tactical retreat to the woods, as one more attempted long rest getting interrupted may well have meant curtains for some of the party. The Useless Bard argued for further investigation, and so cast invisibility on himself, and went off to scout the rest of the castle.
On his travel, the Useless Bard discovered a library, a room full of bats, a pathway into dungeons, and a pair of magical white gloves that suddenly all but doubled his strength. Returning to the party with the confidence of a Bajah Blast addict, the Bard related the contents of his search (forgetting to mention the sweet gloves) and proclaimed that the party should once again attempt to rest here for the night, as there were no gnolls left above ground.
Ulfgar, being that kind of cautious bred by innumerable generations of nobility, the kind that keeps the commerce flowing and your friends living, suggested they once again make way for the woods, as they had no idea what calamities might await them in the dungeons below, or what could come from out of them while they rested.
Ulgar and the suddenly impertinent peasant Bard argued about this, then argued some more, while Nory and Henk, I don’t know, stared at the walls and drooled or something. They argued so long, that the gnolls that were sleeping in the part of the temple that the hopped up yet STILL THOROUGHLY USELESS BARD HAD FAILED TO SEARCH woke up and headed off into the woods. This lead to even more arguing between the obviously right whycantyouallseethat dwarf and the no-good-pinheaded-whywontyoulistentoreason Bard, until the gnolls actually returned, the worse for wear and covered in scorch marks. (‘Uh oh’, thought Nory, who was the first to put together what this meant.)
The gnolls were holding court in the courtyard below, so, the party, who couldn’t actually deal with much hand to hand combat now, opted to rain spells and lighting bow blasts down on them from above, with the Bard guarding the way up with Henk’s new longsword.
Due to the element of surprise and the benefits of ranged attacks from above, plus the Bard’s new found ability to kick ass in melee, the Party bested the worse-for-wear gnolls without taking on any casualties. It was here that Nory pointed out that the gnolls had probably encountered Dragon Man, and, well, they had returned. So.
As he was really the only party member still standing, the party sent the Bard off to find Dragon Man while they nursed their wounds. Traveling back to the log they originally traversed, the Bard found Dragon Man in bad shape, but was able to stabilize his condition, proving himself to finally be, a Useful Bard.
Returning to the party, they, finally confident that there weren’t, in fact, more gnolls waiting in the wings, went up to the tower and bedded down for the night.
In the morning, fully refreshed, the party did some more exploring. They played a huge organ located on the second floor of the entrance side, which revealed some Sweet Loot. This organ playing failed to produce further monsters, so they party headed down into the dungeon.
First, they found the latrines. Then, a hallway from rooms. Mostly, these were empty, but in one they found a cache of healing spells, which they gave to the Bard for the time being, and some gold. In the final room, they found a path to a lower level of dungeon, and a defaced alter to good gods. (Also, there was a dusty desk with a non-dusty spot matching the pendant found clutched in the hand of the half-eaten goblin. So that’s where he got that from!)
Here, Becky read from her father’s monster manual, that hyenas are often turned into gnolls by a master gnoll spellcaster, and the menace of the gnolls can really only be ended by killing this original magician. Taking this into consideration, Ulfgar asked Becky to watch the entrance way, and come warn them if further gnoll reinforcements came. But really, he had a feeling now that maybe her dad was not coming home, and he didn’t want to bring the Widow Lynch home two corpses. Plus, Becky was pretty useless in a fight.
Down they went, into the second layer of Dungeon. And there they found a forking path, passing along the sides of a solitary tomb. And before the tomb stood a statue, and it was not defaced. The Bard, who had only so recently stopped being useless, counseled fear, for whatever kept the gnolls from defacing this statues would surely be a danger to them. At this, three spirits emerged as smoke from crevices of the statue, and stood guard at the tomb.
It was at this point that Ulfgar remembered that gnolls are pretty rude dudes, and he was, in fact, a pretty good guy, with the blood of Gold Dragons coursing through his veins.
He walked up to the spirits and said, what’s up?
The spirits explained that they were in fact super good guy guardian spirits. Ulfgar explained that he was Ulfgar Orebreaker, of the Orebreaker Clan (perhaps you’ve heard of us), and was, in fact, also a super good guy, and was with his buddies here to Defeat Evil and Chew Bubble Gum, but they were all out of bubble gum, so maybe these awesome guardian spirits would like to show them where the bad guys were?
The Good Guy Guardian Spirits appreciated that Respectful Paraphrase In Honor of Rowdy Roddy Piper (RIP), and took the party straight to the evil Bad Guy Gnoll’s layer.
That’s right. Ulfgar is so high class that guardian spirits give him the guided tour.
The entrance to the Gnoll Boss’ layer was a hole in the wall, and it was cold inside. In fact, it was ice-cold. The Newly Buff Bard and Henk the Tank went down first, but slipped and fell on top of each other in the path that forked to the left, colliding in a pile of icicles. Ulfgar, being a proper fire-loving, gold-dragon-descended dwarf, used his hand axe to help in grappling down the right-side corridor, while other two climbed back up and hurled themselves down that corridor, with Nory skating right behind them.
They glided into a giant chamber covered in ice. An Icy Gnoll Lord wielding a Magical Icicle Wand stood before them, with the ancient ranger Stephen Lynch held captive. As the first of their party entered, The Gnoll Lord cast the seemingly ancient ranger in a giant block of ice, as if to save him for a sacrifice to his dark god, then turned to face our heroes.
The party made some attacks that the Gnoll Lord seemed to merely shrug off. Then, right as Ulfgar entered, being all careful and cautious, this Ice Maven unleashed a Cone of Coldness. Despite being in the back, Ulfgar took the worst of it. (Perhaps because of his fiery nature? Perhaps because he was the only to fail his saving throw?) The Party continued attacking the Gnoll Lord, until Ulfgar, finding a clearing, cast Scorching Ray upon the Snowbeast. Despite only two of the three bolts finding their mark, the Gnoll seemed to be disproportionately affected by the spell. Realizing the danger posed by the short sorcerer, the Gnoll Lord focused his next attack Ulfgar, and it hit.
Ulfgar, for the first time in the adventure, was not looking so hot. One more attack like that last one might well be the end of him. ‘Oh, Bard who is not useless, I could surely use some inspiration right now,’ he called. And the Bard, after making his own attack, granted such inspiration!
And with the aid of that inspiration, Ulfgar’s next Scorching Ray was the Scorching Ray to End All Scorching Rays, and the Icy Gnoll Lord fell in a blaze of fire. [Out of Game: I made all three attacks thanks to the inspiration D6 boosting my third attack above the threshold, allowing me to deal 25 damage, which doubled due to the Gnolls weakness to fire to 50 DAMAGE. All told I did 70 damage over two rounds of combat, which is probably the high point of my entire life at this point.]
After that is was pretty much a cleanup operation. Ulfgar used Burning Hands to melt the ice block Steven the Ancient Ranger was stuck in, and he was reunited with his daughter (who really wanted to keep his lightning bow). The Loot consisted of the icicle wand, a magical instrument with five bonus spells a day (no really, Eric rolled for that somehow), and a whole bunch of gold.
The Party left with the reunited Lynches, their new Magical Items, (well, the Bard’s new magical items, since he wanted to keep all of them), and nineteen Gnoll heads. They picked up the recovering Dragon Man, made it back to their pack animals, traversed the desert, returned to the city and were rewarded for those Gnoll head to the tune of 1900 gold.
But how will the party split that loot? Will they let Dragon Man have any of it? Will the Bard keep all the magic items because the other party members who could make use of them prefer to stare at walls and drool? Tune in tomorrow, for a fun-filled extra-roleplaying edition of Dungeons and Dragons! 5th Edition, nerds!