Session Report: 2/21/2015
Descent: Labyrinth of Ruin Campaign
Interlude: Fortune and Glory— Encounter 1
“‘A Prisoner Shall Lead the Way,’” Avric read the glowing script carved into the rock entrance. “That mean anything to anyone?”
Murmurs and grumbles were the only answer for a few moments, then Syndrael spoke in her authoritative, lofty elven lilt:
“Nay. Nothing about that in Hulldyr’s maps or notes,” the normally taciturn dwarf muttered as he fumbled among the cloth scraps found among his dead leader’s possessions.
“Only one way to find out then— in we go,” Jain led the way into the cavern. “I’m just glad there are don’t seem to be any of those spiders that spit poison in your eyes nearby.” Her voice echoed back to the others as they followed her into the darkness.
A door greeted them a short way into the corridor. The grumbling ogrish voices from beyond were loud enough to be heard.
“We may have other problems, though,” Avric contributed. “Of the big, two-headed giant type.”
“Two-headed ogres,” Syndrael corrected. “They’re called Ettin.”
Widow Tarha remained in the rear, silent as usual. As the group approached the door, a skittering noise emerged from the entrance behind them.
“Well, I have some good news and some bad news,” said Raythen as he made his way past his comrades to open the door. “Good news is, there aren’t any of those giant poison-spitting spiders around.”
“And the bad news,” asked Avric.
“Well, how do ye all feel about giant lava-spewing beetles?” The dwarf’s wry smile was suddenly illuminated by a fiery mass that emerged from the entrance and flew toward the party.
“Scatter! Everyone in! And close that door behind you!” the Widow Tarha broke her silence with a bark that the rest of them couldn’t help but obey.
The quest began as these usually seem to, with the heroes in a seemingly very difficult situation. With an endless spawn point behind us, two Ettins to get through to where we could only presume M had placed our objective, and all of us poisoned due to a bad travel encounter on our way, we were ready for an uphill battle. We decided upon our usual tactic of sending Raythen to scout for treasure, also using him as a dedicated door opener/closer when needed. The first two Ettins weren’t too bad of a challenge, as they were forced by the corridor into single-file, and we only had to face one at a time, but the double-grey defense die was a tough challenge. Jain was repeatedly stymied in her shots against them, and it was quite a different obstacle than the usual swarms of weak enemies we had faced prior. Tarha was kept from effectively using her trusty Blast ability to its best effects, and M turned the table on us nicely with her choice of the Lava Beetles, as we now had to choose every turn whether to stay together to make best use of Avric’s abilities and concentrate our fire, or to spread out in order to avoid the lava blasts.
We found ourselves in a split-party situation mid-game, with Tarha having revealed the red objective/lava beetle spawn point just after the spider den. Jain followed up, leaving Avric and Syndrael to act as rearguards for their hopefully hasty escape once the prisoner had been found. The green objective token was where we suspected, as far as possible from the exit, so Jain used her fast movement to run to Tarha and grab the prisoner from her, making her way back towards the group.
We regrouped near the spider lair to find ourselves with enemies on many fronts due to the revealed spawn points and alarm. We were all being battered. Avric used his healing abilities several times to help us, and Syndrael tossed Jain a Stamina and Health potion, as well, which she used quickly and to great effect. Alas, Jain still proved too tempting and easy a target, and she found herself defeated nonetheless.
Aided by the others, she staggered onward, and the group formed a moving wall, with Avric and Syndrael in front, Tarha and Jain in the rear, hoping to punch through the opposing wall of lava beetles and ettins that now clogged the next choke-point. We had closed the door behind us, as well, hoping to delay the impending swarm of lava beetles from that section of the dungeon. Jain’s yew bow continued to prove ineffective, and the OL was able to use the ranged and blast effects of the beetles to great affect against her unarmored person. She found herself defeated once more even after the corridor was cleared. Another ettin appeared, as M smartly used a minion lava beetle to keep the alarm active. We thought we finally had a clear path to the exit, but M made another smart play by forgoing attacks against us and camping the master ettin on the exit tile, even as the lava beetles behind us blew threw their doors and began spewing their fire at us from afar.
Finally, we were able to defeat the ettin and carry our now-wounded prisoner out the exit. Syndrael stopped for a parting shot at the nearby beetle, hoping to give it something to think about, but she missed completely and was forced to turn tail and run to give us a hard-fought and somewhat pyrrhic victory.
I did wonder a bit as to why M didn’t try to just throw Jain or any of the other characters back with the Ettin, but I can’t complain, as I do think we were all anxious to end the scenario. I’m also still pondering how things would be playing out if she concentrated fire on Tarha to try to take the SunStone. Soon that may not be an issue, as it may be discarded in the next encounter. Also, I need to remember that the OL role is tough, with lots of moving pieces to keep track of. It’s probably like our decisions on whether to search for treasure or concentrate on the objective at hand. There are always many things you’d like to accomplish, but you need to prioritize and play situationally.
This encounter took much longer than I expected, as I had originally hoped to get through both encounters of the Interlude in one night. Still, it was quite an enjoyable struggle. M reveled in finally being able to use Blast against us, and I’m sure she was happy that Tarha was essentially neutralized for this encounter. In retrospect, I wish Jain had taken the Sunstone from Tarha along with the prisoner, as that may have helped her chip away at some of the enemies she had faced, or at least gain a few extra fatigue points along the way. (With her “swap damage for fatigue,” that may have made the difference between her being defeated at least once.” It was impressive to see the kill-counts for both Avric and Syndrael shoot up this time, and I think Jain’s ineffectiveness was pretty good ammunition for my case to buy her a new weapon and some armour as soon as possible.
Hopefully we can finish this quest soon, as I’m sure we’re all anxious to see how our weakened party fares against the next challenge… and whether or not the prisoner was worth the effort. We did well with the treasure-seeking this round, as that has been a crucial part of our overall strategy, but the 100gp quest reward will still be well-needed, particularly in light of Jain’s lackluster performance and the impending “leveling up” of the monsters in Act II.
I’m really digging how this seems to be a turning point in the adventure, both in the fluff AND in the balance of the game. The group dynamic is much different with four hero-players, and it’s fun to see Steve the Blonde’s master strategist mentality balanced out by the “Let’s just Leroy Jenkins this bitch!” attitude that Jon can sometimes have. I think all players contributed to the overall strategy and enjoyment of the game, and this was definitely one of the better sessions. Even Jon is started to get into the game now, and for Rick to make the trek even with the impending bad weather, I think it’s safe to say that this is becoming a favourite with most of the group at this point.
I do wish I had more of the figures painted at this point for the upcoming scenarios, but with Space Hulk to finish and a new baby on the way, I don’t think that will happen for some time.
“Synd, let’s go!!! We’re getting out of there!” Avric called back from the cavern exit.
The elf’s eyes blazed with vengeance as she held her position on the steps and took one last swing at the fiery insect before her. Her blow merely glanced off the creatures chitinous exoskeleton. She thought she heard it hiss as it’s tail illuminated with more fiery death.
“Right! Coming!” she yelled back as she turned and fled to the stairwell to join her comrades. She arrived at the landing the group was resting at. After barricading the door behind them, she turned to see the rest of the bloodied and battered party catching a breath. Jain stood over the newly-rescued old woman and spoke.
“I sure hope this blind bitch was worth it.”