FalsKrag Session 37 – Vermin and a bloody mist

The group has now explored almost the entire northern edge of the cavern, maybe a fifth of the total cavern and ruins. The previous encounter with the vampire in the dungeon didn’t go very well and I found it extremely amusing when Seldrel’s player decided the small direction-changing mist moving towards them was a vampire and warned everyone accordingly. Everyone else’s reactions were also fun – Hardaz’ player was confident with his ghost-touch axe, Merxif has seen how effective his moon-bolt gloves are against undead and Bacon (who is usually the last to retreat) quickly got out of the way. The first round of combat wasn’t good for Hardaz, and Seldrel’s Knowledge check only gave him the name and very basic information. By the time Merxif noted that it was actually alive and not undead, it didn’t really matter. I missed with a second attack, and a typical mist isn’t going to stand up to lots of hits without continually healing itself by feeding. It could have been nastier if they hadn’t seen it coming.

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(25th Ready’reat) Seldrel and Winter have noted that the lights in the cavern ceiling had been getting slightly brighter and are now dimming. Seldrel thinks they match the daylight cycle above-ground.

A mostly intact building with a second storey is investigated. There are tracks of humanoids outside and Lanliss hears movement within. The building appears to have been a temple, and two snakes attack the group as they explore. A defaced altar has some script that Seldrel recognises as Tlaman (used by the Yuan-ti) but not enough remains to translate. Upstairs a number of spiders attack them. After clearing out their webs some coins are recovered. A step-pyramid flanked by huge snake statues can be seen in a walled area south. Movement of humanoids is also seen to the west. Heading out of the building they are ambushed by bugbears and morlocks.

Moving further west, the ruins explored have more bugbears and morlocks. A few short combats result, and one group of attackers includes a bugbear cleric. The group retrieve some worthwhile equipment and scout the buildings for treasure – mostly coins and scrolls. The group is almost out of spells and elect to retreat. The cavern lights have darkened but still provide a dim light. Returning across the marsh, both Bacon and Winter have an odd feeling that quickly passes. There is no sign of anything else nearby in the marsh and they reach the stairs out safely. They head up to rest at the crafting halls.

26th Winter is able to cut some of the rough gems found and improves their value a little. The party returns to the cavern and into the marsh. As they head towards the closer ruins, a mist is sighted, drifting from the north. Seldrel suspects a vampire following them. It changes direction towards them when they pick-up their pace, then suddenly flies across the uneven ground, attacking Hardaz and draining his blood. The slightly pinkish mist flushes red and Seldrel decides that it is a vampiric mist – a strange creature that drains blood from living creatures to strengthen itself. Bacon retreats to the ruin, Merxif fires a moon bolt thinking it is undead. His spell barely weakens it, and his goggles show the creature as living. Summer claws at the creature once but cannot harm it. Thankfully, Winter’s magical arrows have a much greater effect and it suddenly bursts in a rain of blood.

Into the north-western section of the ruins they encounter larger numbers of morlocks and bugbears. A cleric and tougher warriors accompany the two waves that emerge from rebuilt homes within the mostly ruined shells of older structures. They are defeated after a long and tough fight.

 

FalsKrag Session 36 – Ruin Dwellers

We played a standard session but had five separate combats, with only one of those really being quick. (In addition to exploration and some strategic planning.) I felt that the players got more done this session than is usual. The fight with the ghoul-stirges and ghouls got a bit nasty, but Merxif’s player has got some quite useful equipment now (in addition to channelling positive energy) and can be very nasty against undead when he gets in the right position.

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(25th Ready’reat): Stronger and fully healed they return to the cavern. Crossing the marsh to the ruins they are attacked by a mass of vegetation. The shambling mound is quite tough, grabbing hold of Hardaz and battering him. Once killed they have to cut the creature off of him. Into the ruins, they elect to go after the shadow – this time prepared with Hardaz’ axe, and other magic. (Mage armour on Seldrel, displacement on Hardaz and Merxif wears his magical moon-bolt gloves.) The shadow comes out to attack Hardaz but misses a number of strikes. Hardz though hits, while Merxif and Seldrel use searing light spells. Merxif fires a bolt from his gloves, disabling the undead for long enough that the rest of them can destroy it. There is only one room in here that they had not been able to reach – it turns out to be another tomb for Gregern Falshandren. Seldrel notes that the date on it is similar to the others encountered. There is some minor treasure and a magical helmet with mind shielding, but Seldrel notes with disappointment that it is cursed. He cannot determine how, but no-one is game to wear it.

Moving north, Lanliss and Winter note movement within a building. They enter carefully, and sight a small group of stirges. As they begin melee, they realise the creatures are undead, and the noise of the fight attracts some ghouls. Lanliss is paralysed when a stirge attaches itself to him and begins to drain his blood. Hardaz and Summer are also paralysed, but from ghoul attacks. Merxif again uses moon bolt on 2 stirges, and channel energy against the undead. Hardaz takes considerable damage before the active members of the party can defeat all their opponents.

Further west, most of the buildings are little more than broken walls and piles of rubble. Some repair has taken place, and they soon learn why. They encounter a few morlocks and bugbears. The fight attracts more bugbears and spreads through a fair section of the ruins. Some of the latter bugbears are stronger, leaders and more advanced warriors. Prayer, haste, fireball, and acid breath are used against them. It looks like small groups of both humanoids are living in this part of the buildings – the morlocks in burrows under the rubble and the bugbears in reconstructed rooms and shelters.

FalsKrag Session 35 – Temple of the four Elements

I’m catching up with these session summaries at last! I’ve also spent time making combat maps for areas the group may move into soon, and trying to complete some that may be needed at a later time. Cavern exploration is time consuming, but there has been plenty to be discovered. This session had me give out a bunch of small pages (A6) with a heap of notes about the inner planes, planar gates, conduits and elemental essences. As with some of my past handouts, there’s quite a bit of information, and the group doesn’t know how much is accurate, or of any importance to them. They have previously found what they believe is a closed (but open-able) planar gate, but at the time didn’t know where it led to.

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(16th Ready’reat): The party continues looking through the buildings closest to the trog hill, making their way towards the west. They find stairs into a lower set of chambers in one building. One has four pillars with elemental runes. They are attacked by a few Bugbears and Morlocks, who are defeated with ease. The group uses a combination of mundane and magical means to introduce the corresponding element to each pillar (dirt on the earth runed pillar, create water on the water), lowering a ramp into what seems to be an arcane temple to the four elements. Three small lightning elementals defend an altar with silver statuettes of each element. A humanoid skeleton lies in a hall. It appears to have died from wounds and has a silver amulet. Small rooms hold old furniture, books and scrolls that have not survived time and moisture. A few useful pages concerning the elements and planes are recovered.

Another part of the ruins has a broken stone trapdoor and stairs into a dusty area with recent rat corpses and old humanoid skeletons. A greater shadow attacks them while they look around – draining Strength from Seldrel, Winter and Bacon before they all retreat. The shadow doesn’t follow them out. Winter restores much of Seldrel’s strength and all retreat out of the cavern. Merxif heals them and they decide to return to Falsridge.

17th: Hardaz leaves his axe with Kevelli to enchant with Ghost Touch. The group sells a few items, restock consumables and train. [7th Level]

18th: Return to the Crafting Halls. Seldrel begins work on an enchanted quiver for Winter.

19 – 24th: While Seldrel crafts, the others read over the materials they have recovered and occasionally scout out of the Hold to supplement their provisions with fresh meat. Seldrel makes two magical Blood Vessels – one each for Lanliss and himself. These will protect against the draining of certain undead and necromantic magiks. Hardaz returns to Falsridge with a few of the others to reclaim his axe. The group has not bothered to activate statues in the Hall of the Gods. Merxif has started taking a greater interest in religion (outside that if his own) and the groups knowledge about the Flanaess deities is growing. They have a growing list of spells that they believe can be used to activate statues based on the deities areas of concern and Lanliss’ carpentry skill is improving. He can craft wooden disks showing a deities symbol. There have been no wands gained recently, and while the blessings gained from each statue appear to be somewhat more powerful and longer lasting, they only effect someone of the same race or similar alignment. They hope that a change of statues will reward them with wands once again.

FalsKrag Session 34 – Mushrooms are people too!

The title for this session came from a comment made by Merxif’s player after the “combat” with the violet fungi. It was very amusing as the player hates fungi/mushrooms. The session almost had Seldrel die for the second time. I don’t want PC’s to die just as the result of bad dice rolls. If they make bad decisions, that’s on them. PC’s who are dying can be healed/stabilised in a round will not die, regardless of rules on Con and negative hps. The dragon was meant to surprise and shake up the group, which it certainly did. They have been dealing well with things for a while, and it was a good reminder that some things under the mountain can’t be dealt with immediately.

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(15th Ready’reat): Heading east through caves and tunnels in the hill the group find a wide hall with many pools of odd smelling bubbling liquid. A large mushroom with fronds is at the end of the hall. Seldrel fears it is a violet fungi (encountered before) and the group begin making ranged attacks. Winter gets a very solid arrow shot that knocks it over. They approach carefully and realise that it is dead, and appears to have been dead and dried up for a long time. A faint breeze blowing along the exit tunnel made the fronds move. Further east they start to hear voices in the distance.

A cave leads out of the hill, and through an open gate, they hear many trogs chanting what sounds like “Atess”. Perhaps a score of stand around a stone platform with columns trogs at the edge of the lake. Lanliss and Bacon move to the gate and look around. A large black dragon dives out of the sky, biting Lanliss severely. Hardaz charges the dragon, but his axe rebounds from its scales. Seldrel casts Lightning at the dragon but the bolt fizzles. The dragon’s second attack on Lanliss drops the elf unconscious and near death. Merxif heals Lanliss, saving him from death. The dragon notices the gnome’s dragon orb and tells Merxif that she will tear him to pieces. Merxif uses the orb to suggest that the dragon teach the trogs to respect her by attacking them. The dragon is unhappy, but leaps over the palisade heading for the gathered trogs.

All retreat into the hill as the trogs begin to yell in surprise. Merxif heals those who are wounded. There is much noise outside, which soon becomes mostly the dragon bellowing curses at Merxif. The group quickly makes its way to the north gate and Seldrel makes everyone invisible and they run for the stairs in the cliff. They make their way to the black gate near the crafting halls and use it to reach the Hall of the Gods. Lanliss and Seldrel trade knowledge of dragons. The one encountered was female and likely a adult by its size. They deem it much too powerful for their group, especially when unprepared.

Merxif, Lanliss and Bacon head into Falsford to sell off some of the equipment they don’t require. Lanliss purchases a new sap, Merxif a wand of Cure Light Wounds and a magic haversack. (Hiding the dragon orb in an extra-dimensional space should mean it can’t be detected by magical or extraordinary means.) Lanliss asks Kevelli to arrange for a Ring of Invisibility to be created for him. He leaves payment, and Kevelli states will send messages to Falsridge, and Mitrik if necessary.

16th: The three return to the Fals’Krag and the crafting halls where Seldrel is enchanting Lanliss’ other sap. Late in the afternoon they all head down again to the great cavern. They begin to head south across the marsh keeping watch for the dragon. Lanliss and Seldrel hallucinate – Lanliss thinking he is being attacked by a giant leech and Seldrel believes he is melting. Both are grappled and pulled down into the marsh as two large reptilian shapes fly northward across the lake, briefly diverting in their direction. Once the dragons move away, the group head quickly into the northern edge of the ruins, and the two elves calm down. Most of the buildings here are very old, and badly damaged. What remains, shows occasional marks of small vermin and humanoids. There are obvious signs of searching, but none recent. The group explore and are attacked by a group of morlocks. The party have learned to deal with the crowding tactics used by the pale humanoids..

FalsKrag Session 33 – Troglodyte Hill

Not a long session of actual gaming. Boris’ player joined us after a long absence, so we had a lot of non-game catch up before we got into what was happening in-game. There was discussion about party resources, about the buildings they could see, and what direction to head. The trog hill was mostly a string of short combats – at the gate, just inside the hill, and then a few as they moved into the tunnels and encountered trogs coming from other parts of the caves to where they were.

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(15th Ready’reat) While getting a good look around from the air, Lanliss and Seldrel are attacked by three Gargoyles. The gargoyles dive at them inflicting minor wounds. The pair flee back to the rest of the group, being gored regularly by the Gargoyles keeping pace.

Waiting near the tunnel and stairs, the rest of the group have looked at their surrounds. The ground is rocky in places, with wet marshy areas between. They can see damaged buildings in the distance and realise there are lights on the ceiling of the cavern. Winter notes something approaching. Many thin, dirty, humanoids rise out of the marsh and attack. Merxif identifies them as undead. A melee begins, with one or two struck down before Merxif readies one of his crystal skulls and blasts most of them into dust. The last couple are quickly slain, as Seldrel and Lanliss fly into view. Merxif moves to heal the two once they land, and everyone else engages the gargoyles. Combat on the ground is easier for everyone and the gargoyles are soon killed.

A path through the marsh has been observed heading east towards a palisaded hill at the edge of the lake. As they approach, they sight humanoids that strike a gong on the hill, and others moving behind the stone and timber wall. At a northern gate, they smell the reptilian humanoids on the other side, who tell them to go away. Boris breaks down the gate and the group fight their way into the hill. Only Hardaz is weakened by the troglodyte stench. As they move further into tunnels and caves under the hill, they begin to face more ordinary trogs (fighting with tooth and claw) and a few tougher opponents wearing armour and using weapons. After defeating a giant lizard, a strong trog druid and a tough warrior trog, there is no more resistance. They have not penetrated far into the hill, but have fought just over a score of its inhabitants. There has been a minor pit trap, and wide tunnels and small caves that appear to be guard or meeting rooms.

FalsKrag Session 32 – Orcs, Crafting and the ruined city.

The last session for 2019 and all our regular players back together. A good session with tough fights and exploration into new areas. At the very end of the session I presented a laminated colour A3 map of the cavern. I’ve been holding this for months waiting for them to reach this point. The map is a modified version of the ‘rift valley’ from I1 – Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1981). I had a huge cavern with a lake and ruins planned right from the beginning of my writing up the dungeon, and when I picked bugbears and snake men for one dungeon level I was reminded of this early AD&D module. It’s saved me from having to draw my own map! I’m actually using a lot of what I1 presents for the area with modifications and expansion.

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(5th Ready’reat) The group stops to plan and prepare. Flying is cast on everyone, and Bull Strength for most of the group. While they don’t expect to surprise the orcs, they also don’t want to just walk in with their light giving away their approach or making them easy targets. Bacon is given a daylight pellet and finally invisibility is cast on everyone as their lights are hidden or extinguished. Both dwarves lead the group along the tunnel and to the edge of stairs just before the cavern opens up. Bacon moves to the edge and notes movement/figures on the side gallery. He flies forward and drops the daylight pellet. Lanliss glides across the chamber to a northern door, followed most of the way by Seldrel, who casts web across most of the gallery where almost a dozen orcs have bows at the ready. He draws unsuccessful arrow fire as a result, and one of the orcs casts a web spell in return. Now the entire centre of the hall is covered with webs, with a invisible Lanliss separated from everyone else. The rest of the group flies in but keeps some distance, choosing advantageous positions while most of the orcs are entangled. Merxif uses one of his crystal skulls to cast chain lightning across the gallery, incapacitating nearly all the archers. Then a secret door south of the gallery opens revealing another dozen orcs, some of whom more out and shoot arrows. Lanliss flies up to the northern end of the gallery and engages un-entangled foes. Seldrel dispels the web around himself and dismisses that on the gallery as Bacon and Summer fight their way across to Lanliss. Hardaz takes on the orcs on the ground and Winter returns fire at them. An orc priest casts a spell at Seldrel that causes him occasional chest pain and the elf responds with a lightning bolt. Both Lanliss and Hardaz are hard pressed for a while – they seem to have gotten the tougher of the orcs to fight. Lanliss drops from a heavy blow, but Merxif is able to fly over to keep him stable. Bacon clears the gallery so that Lanliss can be further healed., then the two of them move down stairs to the east, while the rest of the party pushes east from the other end of the cave. The last few orcs are supported by an ogre, but the group fights hard now. Merxif heals as needed and they begin to flank their opponents. A few orcs had retreated and now can’t be located.

After a quick loot of anything Seldrel notes is magical, they press forward doing quick room searches for the remaining orcs. They pass through a training room, some sleeping quarters and finally a mess hall and kitchen. Some smaller rooms appear to be quarters for the priests and leaders, but there is no opposition. Bacon finds a secret door that links the hall near the secret door with one of the more distant rooms, and they believe this is how the orcs they had earlier sighted withdrew. Some short stairs and a pit trap lead into a long eastern tunnel. They keep two people on watch and drag the bodies of those killed into the main cave and take some of the better equipment from the corpses. Lanliss doesn’t want to leave anything valuable behind when they move out of these chambers. Heading east, they travel hundreds of feet along before the dark tunnel begins to lighten. The tunnel opens into a wide long cave with daylight visible at the end and the sound of harsh voices.

They rush in to confront two ogres, a priest, a dozen warriors and one better equipped orc giving them directions. As the party spreads out to engage, Hardaz claims his blessing; his warhammer bursts into flame. Seldrel throws a fireball into the main group of orcs, wounding many of them. The battle is tough, but the party fight together well. It is soon over and they heal and loot the bodies. The cave looks out over the eastern side of Fals’Krag. There is no movement to be seen. Merxif is suddenly aware of a presence. He and Seldrel decide he has detected a dragon in the area, but he can’t determine direction or distance. They recall a dragon is believed to live in the eastern part of this mountain range. They head west back down the tunnel and make a more thorough check of all the rooms for treasure and saleable equipment. They return to the crafting halls to rest.

6-11th: Seldrel crafts a magical robe for Bacon. Lanliss, Merxif and Bacon head into Falsford to sell much of their loot and ask questions about the Hold and its lords. Merxif is aware of a presence while travelling, but the feeling vanishes much of the time in town. Merxif offers health advice and healing in town, and is able to collect some blood samples they plan to use in the Hall of the gods. Lanliss purchases weapons for the current statues and speaks with some priests about the deities represented.

12-14th: Boots of striding crafted for Hardaz. Lanliss carves representations of the deities holy symbols.

15th: Hall of the gods – Zilchus, an Oeridean diety of power, money and business is activated, with Bacon gaining an unknown blessing. Seldrel has consulted his maps. There is only one area they have not fully explored, assuming no missed secret doors. They make their way down to the stone of Jarkettes, where they find that rooms they didn’t explore before have been opened and looted. Lanliss asks the stone about finding Gregern’s tomb and is told that the false tombs will help find the true. They find a secret door in the main hall and fight more bugbears. Behind the secret door is a passage finely carved showing dwarven warriors. The passage is trapped and guarded by a construct. The final chamber is the tomb of ‘Khaban’ – an old dwarven corpse buried in fine plate armour with a warhammer. The group realise they have seen statues to Khaban on another level. They decide not to loot his tomb and exit.

The base of the hall emerges into a enormous cavern. The area around them is rocky marsh. Just to their north, a sheet stone wall rises about forty feet, extending as far as they can see to the west. Merxif becomes aware of another presence. Seldrel thinks the base of the great stair should be close to the east and he and Lanliss fly up to look around. The huge cavern (up to eighty feet high) extends east, west and south almost as far as they can see. To the east is a lake. To the south and west are many mostly ruined buildings and they note lights glowing dimly on the cavern roof and amid some of the buildings. Winter had mentioned sighting this through Summers eyes many weeks earlier, but now they can all see it for themselves.

FalsKrag Session 31 – Fumbling the Orcs

A really great day and gaming session! Being just before Christmas, my wife and I prepared lunch and dinner , while the guys brought dessert and snacks. The group has wanted to go back after the orcs for some time. Having gone up 3 levels since their first fight here, they are in a much better situation to fight large numbers of organised opponents. Since the majority of the group require light to see, they almost never surprise anything. (A dwarf fighter with -1 Stealth close behind the rogue and monk doesn’t help either!) Invisibility and flight at least did get them across the cave and barricade quickly.

I’ve mentioned using fumble and critical cards before. This was one of our more amusing sessions with the cards. I think I got two confirmed critical against the party over the session, and I recall at least two against me. They were all forgettable… but not the fumbles! The two main fights with the orcs (over about 18 rounds) included so many fumbles we were keeping count of who hadn’t had one yet. In the end, every player rolled a ‘1’ in combat, and only the Monk was able to counter that with a held crit card and turn it into a miss. Two broken weapon cards allowed a save which the players made. None of these had any serious impact on the game for either side, except for the spell fumble which probably turned out better for the players than a critical! Here’s the fumble cards in the order they played out (if I’ve matched them up correctly):

Broken Blade – Lanliss nearly destroys his sap.

Punt – Hardaz throws his dwarven axe 10′ behind him.

Tiring Attack – Summer is fatigued

Eat Dirt – An Orc falls prone

Parry! Dodge! Spin! Thrust! – An Orc is dazed 1 round.

No Way – An Orc hits but for minimum damage.

Tied Up – An Orc is entangled in his gear.

Unexpected Blast – Seldrel’s spell affects all targets in 30’ except himself.

Pointy end goes there – An Orc takes minor CON damage.

Broken – Winter nearly breaks her bow.

Wait! What? – Merxif is confused one round.

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(4th Ready’reat) Searching the caves links up all the passages with no sign of the cloaker. They return to the large cavern and head for the northern end. A cluster of winged shapes is gathered at the door, and another group flies swiftly over the group heading south. Seldrel detects magic, and believes the cloaker is using mirror image again. He dispels the magic with his wand leaving the space before the door completely empty. He then suspects the creature has used a different illusion at the door, while it fled south. There it no sign of it, so while some keep watch Lanliss and Bacon climb up to the door, and Hardaz flies up. Lanliss and Hardaz have to smash the rusted door open, and the unfinished chamber within contains rubble, bones and many corroded tools. A ghostly hound attacks them. Like the previous ghosts, it is destroyed before causing any real harm. One set of bones is that of an animal wearing a collar, and Bacon observations that the ghost hound had the same collar. They locate no treasure.

Heading out of the burial caves, there is no sign of the cloaker. Having climbed back into the earlier set of caves, they hear some muffled voices and are attacked by a group of living orcs. They wear gear similar to those encountered before. The combat is short and Merxif’s healing is required. The group head up to the Hall of the Gods to rest.

5th: The group chooses to activate the statue of Flandal Steelskin (Gnomish deity of mining and smithing) mostly because they have a gnome and a spare warhammer. Merxif, Lanliss and Hardaz (the latter have mining skills) all gain a blessing for the day; at a chosen time their mace or hammer will burst into flame for a short time. The party head back down stairs to the halls near the cave complex. They head east and enter the northern tunnel that leads to the orc complex. The cleft in the mountain is still mostly full of rubble and smoothed rock, with possible signs of recent use. Everyone has much less trouble with the sections that require climbing than the last time they came here, which they realise was about seven weeks ago.

The cave with barricades looks much as before. Seldrel makes Lanliss invisible, and he creeps up hearing sound at the back of the caves. Merxif uses a wand to strengthen many of the group and Seldrel grants them flight and invisibility. Then they rush the barricade and most land to attack the eight orcs waiting. Merxif stays atop the barricade and casts prayer. They hear more orcs in adjacent rooms and Seldrel casts haste. While not a complete surprise, they are well placed to cut down most of the warriors quickly. Bacon pushes east, with Lanliss and Hardaz close behind. Many of the orcs seem of similar strength as those fought here the first time, but they soon encounter clerics and shamans (they presume) using magic against them.

Most of the group is magically webbed and silenced – preventing communication, and casting by Seldrel. The dwarves break free of the web through Hardaz using alchemists fire, and Merxif (unaffected by the silence) is soon able to grab Seldrel’s wand and dispels the webbing. Steadily they engage the second group of orcs and fight their way out of the silence. Merxif channels energy to heal his friends, and one of the orc clerics does the reverse to harm them. Winter fires arrows at the clerics, and Seldrel tries to cast searing light at one of them. He miscasts the spell in the chaos around him; beams of burning light shoot in all directions! Remarkably, the beams miss all of the party except for Merxif and damage nearly all of the orcs. The combat is over very soon after this. The group loots any high quality gear and anything magical and quickly scouts the eastern rooms. There are no more orcs found there, so they head north. Shortly afterwards Lanliss is ambushed by three orcs, and a few rooms later they encounter a slightly larger group. Thankfully, there are no more casters. They have now reached the secret door and enter the hidden tunnel leading into the second part of the orc area.