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.

FalsKrag Session 30 – Orc Burial Caves

A fairly ordinary session that probably had a bit more talking and eating than role-playing compared to normal, mostly due to a slightly later start than usual, and one of our usual players being away. The combat with the cloaker went better for me as GM that I’d expected it too. Frequently I introduce something that I expect to be a challenge and the group comes up with a brilliant strategy, makes lots of high dice rolls, I roll badly, or all of the above – resulting in a sudden defeat of my creature(s). That didn’t happen. I’d done some planning for how to use the creature effectively, and some bad dice rolls neutralised nearly half the group just before the cloaker attacked. Seldrel standing on his own was too great an opportunity not to try and envelope him, and while Winter then rolled a critical on her first arrow shot causing 35 damage, that damage was split between the cloaker and Seldrel. Thankfully (for both Seldrel and the cloaker), her other two shots that round both missed. I then chose to have the lightly wounded creature retreat before they could surround it and start melee.

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(4th Ready’reat) Lanliss, Bacon and Hardaz move forward to engage the skeletons. Winter notes some zombies moving up behind them and begins to shoot at those. As the zombies move closer it can be seen that they have plants growing on and through them. The group begins to feel an uneasiness, some report it as a odd sound, others a feeling. The opposing forces are defeated and the zombies are much like the rats seen earlier. The group finds another flowered vine that fires spores at them. They destroy it and wonder if the plant spores in the air are what makes them feel agitated. As they start to move north to look at the other end of the cavern, Summer, Winter and then Merxif all become unresponsive. Seldrel cannot detect any magical influence and Seldrel and Hardaz pull them forward while Bacon and Lanliss search for another plant. They observe a tunnel heading west from the north of the cavern and one heading east from high up on a large ledge. The northern end of the cavern has another ledge and Bacon sights a door there.

As the pair start climbing up a dark winged shape swoops out of the darkness at Lanliss. He dodges its attack and the bat-like creature flies up to the top of one of the rock columns. It seems to project something at Bacon and Lanliss that leaves the elf nauseous and almost helpless. Hardaz hurries north, leaving Seldrel for a moment alone in the cavern. The creature seems to duplicate itself (Seldrel suspects it of using a form of mirror image) and dives down, wrapping itself around him. Winter and Merxif shake off their lethargy and Winter shoots at the creature. Her first arrow is a deeply penetrating shot that she is very happy with until she realises from muffled screams that she has also harmed Seldrel. Her next few shots miss. The grappled wizard manages to trigger the wand he is holding and dispels the creatures images. The others are all closing in when the creature releases its prey and flies away swiftly. It heads out the wide tunnel the group entered from. Seldrel thinks the creature is a cloaker, an intelligent bat-like aberration. Seldrel levitates and scans the cavern for magic, while other search at ground level. He sees a hole in the ceiling in which he finds a silver necklace, carved animal figures, shiny sling bullets and a magical cap, The group check the western tunnel which leads to a chamber full of corroded weapons and armour. A careful search does net them a good set of red chain-mail, a magical runed scimitar (one of the five blades) and a casket full of copper coins. They decide to leave the northern door, heading out to search other passages after the cloaker.

Most of the caves they find are damaged, and either have materials for cremation and burial, or contain niches with bones or urns with ashes. One cave has two animated skeletons, where they are also attacked by two small undead created from bones, rubble and hair. In another cave they sight a ghostly indistinct shape that drifts across the chamber. Noises lead them to a long hall with stone slabs blocking alcoves. As they begin opening these, they find one is trapped with a swinging spiked ball. Three orc ghosts emerge and attack the tomb robbers, but are easily destroyed.