Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Aldelle Group – Session 28 – Part 1: Storming the Gatehouse

This session happened Saturday, May 21, 2011. This was a special "all day" session done at the request of Luna's player, who wanted to give it a try. For me, this was old hat as all day Saturday sessions is how I gamed up until last year, when I joined a weekday night group. The session was enjoyed by all and we got a lot done. The new player was not able to make the session due to a schedule conflict, so we just had her character fade into the background. Due to length, this adventure log is broken into two parts. Part 2 will appear tomorrow (Friday).

This campaign used the Dyson’s Delve dungeon pages on A Character for Every Game as a starting point, but has now moved on to new material from the DM-in-training. I heartily recommend Dyson's Delve as a beginning adventure.

Adventuring Group:
Tre-ba Bel a sheer (female elf alchemist)
Frankie Hu, Master of the Distracting Fist (male dwarf monk)
Luna (female elf sorcerer)
Wednesday (female elf rogue)
Harkaitz of the Red Soul (male human cleric of Ra)

Midnight, April 21, Year of the Earth Rabbit
Praise Ra, His light gives us strength.

We are all bone tired. Hiking two hours down a spiral ramp is tiring. Hiking back up took much longer, especially after the stress and strain of several combats and our half-day march just to get to the barrow. It is a good thing the Red Shirts are here to stand watch or we would likely wake up prisoners of the drow.

After we defeated the drider, we explored the guard rooms the archers occupied. Frankie and Tre-ba investigated the one on the right, Wednesday and Luna the one on the left. They found the dead archers and masterwork longbows on a weapons rack and small barrels of arrows. Each room had a single exit in the back. Rather than split our forces, we decided to explore further through the right chamber. But first we set up escape lines in the windows, using the weapons racks braced across the windows as anchors. This provided multiple routes of retreat without having to jump or fall 30 feet down from the windows.

Once we were all up in the guard room and ready, Wednesday opened the door. On the other side was a room with a four-foot wall, behind which were three drow archers, bows drawn. They fired on us (only hitting Wednesday once) and a fight started. Their arrows were coated in the drow knock-out poison, a fact I verified early in the combat. Fortunately, I awoke shortly to find my compatriots had carried the day, but Wednesday was seriously injured. As she was the only one, I used the healing wand on her, healing most of her wounds.

I nearly told Wednesday to not bother checking the door, but then I remembered that the drow trapped their own barracks and had her check. Good thing, too - the door out of this room had a poisoned dart trap on it, which Wednesday found and disarmed.

Having had enough of opening doors, Wednesday stepped back after clearing the door so someone else could have a turn as "first target". Aziz stepped up immediately. He opened the door, but just as he was about to step in, he caught sight of a drow archer waiting in ambush in the near left corner. Using handsigns, he indicated this to Ferahal and requested Ferahal shoot first. Ferahal stepped up to the door, concentrated, and fired straight through the door. Immediately after passing the door jamb, the arrow made a left-hand turn and flew out of sight. We heard the arrow hit the archer and then the archer's body hit the floor, dead. Arcane archers are quite impressive.

The room the archer was waiting in seemed to be a mess hall. There was a door across the room (that we later determined led to a small room backing the other guard room) and a set of double doors that we thought led to a back room or hallway. While Wednesday was checking the double doors for traps, Frankie entered the mess hall and started dragging the dead archer into the corner room so we could strip it of gear and stash the body with the others. While Frankie was dragging the body, the double door were suddenly kicked open by two more drow guards (narrowly missing Wednesday), who apparently heard the noise Frankie was making dragging the body. They quickly died under a hail of attacks and we closed the double doors to avoid notice. Again, good thing, too.

After striping the bodies of gear, we checked the single door out of the mess hall and Aziz verified it was a room backing the other guard room and was empty of drow. We then turned to the double doors and sent Wednesday and Frankie to go scout as neither of them need light to see. What we though was a back hallway was in fact a balcony on the back of the gatehouse with a clear view across the immense cavern behind it to the drow city! If we had used the sunrod to light the way, we would have been sending a beacon to warn the entire drow city that the gatehouse was under attack.

Reporting back, Frankie and Wednesday reported this and that there were stairs down at either end of the balcony. Both stairs led down to doors on the second floor of the gatehouse. After some discussion, we worked out a way to get down the stairs without using any light. We lined up, holding the belt of the person in front of us. Wednesday led the way, with Frankie at the corner of the building, assisting us around the corner on the stairs. Once the front of the group reached the door, a candle was lit (the light blocked from the city by the stairs) so the elves could see and we pushed through the door to the gatehouse's second floor.

The doors led to a hallway that ran the front length of the gatehouse. Halfway down, there was a side passage. We quickly and quietly entered the hallway and closed the door behind us so Aziz could uncover the sunrod again. Wednesday scouted ahead and discovered the side passage had two doors, one on each side of the hall. Unfortunately, as she turned to report this, she accidentally dragged her sword sheath across the stone wall, alerting the drow waiting in the rooms on either side. She heard them hushing each other and silently returned to us to report. I sent everyone but Aziz and myself to go take positions (they can actually move silently when needed, unlike Aziz and I who tend to clomp along in our armor) and then Aziz and I noisily stomped up to the intersection, hoping the drow would pour out into our ambush.

This did not happen.

After waiting a bit, Aziz and I noisily stomped up, talking out loud how we were going to bust down the left door first while pantomiming that the group should be ready to attack the right door.

Still nothing.

Somewhat frustrated that the drow were not walking into our trap, I decided to precipitate action by casting produce flame. I then put one flaming hand on the door to set it on fire and the other on the doorknob to heat it up to flesh burning temperatures. Once the door started burning, I could hear the drow on the other side try and open the door, burning one of their hands. Then they started hacking at the hinges to get the door to fall. When the door fell, I was standing there grinning at them, my hands on fire. They fired two arrows into me, then Luna sent a fireball over my shoulder into the room, where it exploded. I did not fear the fireball as I knew Ra would protect me. Unfortunately, Luna's fireball put that to the test as I took the full brunt of the blast [I blew the reflex save and was knocked down to 4 hit points despite my 10 points of fire resistance]. After that, I calmly stepped aside to let the rest attack the drow while I healed myself. It took a great deal of willpower to not cry out in pain, but I did it and spooked the drow as a result.

While we engaged the first room of drow guards, the second room attempted to step out and flank us, but we were ready and bottled them up in their room. Frankie pressed in with his glaive and kept their archers busy while Wednesday fought their swordsmen. Wednesday fell due to poison on their blades, but I neutralized the poison and Aziz kept them occupied until Wednesday could get back on her feet. A couple more fireballs from Luna and some fire bombs from Tre-ba cleared the first room and we switched to hand-to-hand combat to clear the second room. At the end of the fight we were all marked by the combat and I used much of my healing gifts to bring everyone back to full health.

While the others were gathering drow gear and valuables, I took the time to contemplate leaving some graffiti. I eventually settled on "Super Rat 1 – Ambush 0" in goblin script. Frankie supplemented this with "Need a clue? Ask a goblin" in undercommon glyphs.

We then repeated our earlier process to descend to the first floor, finding two rooms separated by the great entrance passage of the gatehouse. Luckily, both rooms were empty as we were nearly tapped out. I had planned on burning the gate doors on our way out, but they turned out to be made of stone.

So we made our way back up to the third floor and left through the guardroom windows (retrieving our ropes) and started hiking back up the spiral ramp. At the halfway point, we reached a giant boulder trap we had bypassed on the way down. I had Frankie trigger it once the rest of the group was past it and we sent the boulder careening down the ramp towards the gatehouse. I wonder what happened when it got there?

*End of Part 1*

[The rest to follow tomorrow.]


  1. Brilliant! I love this. I suspect that when they go back down, there will be a more prepared welcome for them. Or, there might be some Drow boiling up the ramp to do a counter-attack.

    I can't wait to read the rest!! I'm loving Harkaitz's experience trying to set off the trap - hilarious! That must have been a heck of a fireball, though!

  2. Oh, quick question - who is "Ferahal"?

  3. @Monk: Ferahal is the elven watch-captain we resued from the drow a few sessions back. As he is an NPC, we haven't seen his character sheet, so the only thing we know for certain is that he has arcane archer levels. He and Tre-ba have a thing going on (as detailed in her write-ups - I'll post the link when I have it), but Harkaitz does not write about the personal lives of other people, even when they make noise at night.

    The fireball was near maximum damage and I did not realize how close Harkaitz was to zero until I tallied the hash marks after the fireball. I had planned on having Harkaitz cast burning hands or throw flame from the produce fire spell, but with only 4 hit points...

  4. Aha! That's right. My mind went chasing after Cactus Flower for some reason, and I knew that wasn't right.

    Looking forward to Tre-ba's view!!

    If the fireball spell had been a bit less powerful, it would have been an awesome move for Harkaitz - greet the Drow with flaming hands, then have their room explode with fire, the fireball roiling harmlessly over him as he unleashes his own flames in their faces!

    Getting crispyfied by the fireball ruins the effect a little bit. :-)

    At least the Drow got cooked pretty well.