Part 4: I'm Sorry, SamUpdate 2: I'm Sorry, Sam
Picking back up with our entrance to Throtl, things don't start out on a positive note.
"Disgusting swine! We shall stay and make certain that someone gets hurt!"
"Admittedly, there are rather a few more of you than I thought there would be.
"That's okay, it appears to be nap time."
"That's got most of the hobgoblins
"And that should take care of their human allies."
"That's an awful lot of blood I don't think I've ever seen this much in one place."
"C'mon, Boo, let's keep moving."
"I dunno where Caramon is either, but he's sure not here."
"What a decidedly odd fellow."
"Who did Caramon bring out here with him, anyway? That guy didn't really seem like a fighter, but the battle signs seem to indicate otherwise."
"I think we've got bigger problems right now, Sam."
This is as good a time as any to talk random encounters. Most of them are considerably less dangerous than the set piece battles, and each dungeon has a set of random encounters. If you run into all of them without leaving the dungeon, you can pretty much explore at your leisure. As of right now we don't have the resources to do this, but it's worth keeping in mind. A single sleep spell takes care of 5 of these guys, and the last one doesn't last much longer.
Unfortunately, between this and the first battle at the entrance we've about reached our current limit. You can rest in dungeons, but in many cases this is likely to result in you being attacked. The safest course at this point is to retreat back to the outpost, where Gable is our first character to gain a level. Thieves level faster than just about anybody else, presumably as some sort of compensation for how badly they suck in other ways.
Returning and exploring a bit more...
"I think I've seen smaller dogs."
"One has to wonder just how long this place has been abandoned."
There are a LOT of rats, but as they're less than 1 HD creatures our fighters can attack a number of adjacent rats equal to their level. That helps speed things up considerably. Now, for the skeletons...
"The power of whiskey compels you!"
"I can't believe that worked."
"You have a very strange relationship with your goddess.
"What plan was that, exactly?"
"The one where we're going to oh, you almost got me there!"
"Clever enough not to fall for that, but not clever enough to avoid standing in a giant group and making this easy for me."
"The tragedy of it overwhelms me."
Scattered throughout the dungeon are a number of locked doors, which you have the option of either bashing or picking. Neither method is really advantageous over the other, but it might make a difference if we didn't have a bunch of modified supermen.
"A coffin storage room? Who the hell does that?"
"Least they're not full I think."
*I'm not sure if this is a safe room, but I've never been attacked while resting here. Having a place to rest makes this dungeon a lot more tolerable.
There's a few encounters scattered throughout that are effectively trivial, and don't really contribute in any way or drain party resources measurably.
Given that individual rats have about a 5-10% chance of hitting our characters, they're not threatening even in huge numbers. Zombies are hardly more dangerous, although they can pack more of a punch. I should mention that skeletons take half damage from edged weapons, but zombies take full damage.
While we're puttering around, I should probably mention the area view. You can actually get a grid type map in some areas, which can be very helpful when navigating. One problem, however, is that you really can't tell the difference between a blank space between two rooms and a small room that's between two other rooms. And as for why we're in the southwest corner when our last hint was to go north well, I thought it was a shortcut.
"Something seems just a bit different here "
"Nope, just your standard case of someone grabbing all the best stuff. Rip, I think this might be yours.
"But I don't have enough whiskey to compel them."
"I think I've got this."
"And I don't require whiskey to compel the undead."
"We might have to make a trip back to town for supplies."
This is actually our first set of magical loot. Enchanted gear gets an asterisk next to it when you use detect magic. The chain mail goes to Rip, since he's got the worst AC of our "front line" guys, while Sam gets the shield because he needs a bit of a boost as well. The scrolls are of neutralize poison, which can be fairly handy. There's also about 300 steel, which is handy since it costs 100 steel to identify items.
You'll be seeing this screen a good deal, since the game doesn't differentiate between vendor trash and actual treasure. Eventually you get to recognize standard treasure loads and can tell at a glance what might be worth checking.
Killing the cleric also gets us a confirmed safe place to rest. I usually forget about this one.
A nearby random encounter presents the reason that the neutralize poison scrolls are so handy. You'll occasionally get centipedes which, while they only rarely hit, do have a chance of poisoning your characters. Poison reduces characters to 0 hp until they get a neutralize poison spell cast on them. For the curious, this is about the point where I realized I would have to go straight north.
There's a few bullshit areas with inescapable damage. This is fairly minor, but if I'd actually let the game roll for my HP...
"I shmell a rat and some hobgoblins."
"Your story would be a lot more convincing if we hadn't already run into somebody from Caramon's party who was gibbering with insanity and claimed that something had happened to their group."
"And if you weren't somehow wandering around in a dangerous abandoned city all by yourself without having come to any harm."
"You really thought we'd fall for that? Your mother must have drank while she was pregnant when she wasn't too busy whoring herself out to minotaur sailors."
" my, I do believe he's actually foaming at the mouth. If I don't paralyze him, he might do harm to himself."
The fighter is actually level 7, making him a substantial threat. Luckily, hold person doesn't have level limits and fighters have lousy saving throws against magic spells. His armor is definitely worth grabbing, since we won't have access to plate mail for a bit. Moving on
"You son of a bitch! Those arrows hurt!"
"Rip, get your hands off of his her Gable, is this a man or a woman?"
"Can't breath "
"I'm not sure I'd care to find out, but we just let Rip choke it to death."
a few seconds later...
"Okay, you can come with us. I'd certainly appreciate the company. Now, is there anything we should know about the route ahead?"
"Don't worry! I've got this!"
"You were saying?"
"Not.. one.. word."
"Another knight, huh? Do you know Sir Karl?"
"That's way more information than I expected.. or even wanted "
"Still, kudos to you on being openminded."
"Scrolls? Out of the way!"
"OLD scrolls? I wanna look at the ones that won't drive me insane from reading them. On second thought, let me look at those too."
There's one white magic user scroll and one red magic user scroll in the room. The white scroll is worth about 250 steel (since none of our characters can use it), while the red scroll goes to Ishmael since he'll be able to use it faster.
"I think we might want to keep him around to handle the traps."
"Pfft what kind of knight are you, anyway?"
"One who's still alive after years of fighting hobgoblins and other underhanded creatures. Evil has no incentive to play fair."
"See, this is what happens if you go around disarming every trap you see."
"I think that's a risk we can accept."
"All I see is a pile of steel and gems waiting to happen."
As we continue to explore...
"Okay, I definitely didn't expect that."
"A trap door in the ceiling? In this day and age?"
"It'sh raining men!"
"And now it's raining blood."
"A "dark" elf...?"
"Oh uh, sorry. No offense, I meant dark as in evil, not dark as in, y'know, dark."
"Some taken. One of my ancestors was Ergothian, if you must know."
"That's wonderful, but do you think you all could let me down now?"
"I'll take that as an end to that awkward silence, even if it does include screaming."
"Hey Sam? I'm sorry I thought you were an elven woman instead of an elven man."
"Shut up, Boo."
"Wait, didn't you say bronze dragon eggs a second ago?"
"What part of 'I had a head injury' did you miss? Brass, bronze they were shiny, okay?"
"We must get back to Sir Karl as well. Caramon will need our help. Please, do as he asks."
"Well, don't let us stop you "
"The key will make the doors into the temple glow. The doors are located in the two corridors that border the northeast quadrant of the city."
"You know way too much about this place."
"Well, we'll be leaving now."
"Could either of you two do something like this?"
"Not even close she must be an incredibly powerful sorceress."
"Maybe we can ask Sir Karl about her we're almost out of supplies, so we'll have to follow them back.
You get 3,000 bonus experience points per character for rescuing Caramon, which is enough to push most of our characters up a level. It's important to get levels when you can, because this edition is a bit of a bastard. If you have enough experience to go up two levels, you end up with 1 less experience than you'd need for the second level. All the rest of your experience vanishes into thin air. In my last play through of these games I lost more than 1 million experience that way once. At any rate, Ishmael gets a new spell level and gets to choose a new spell. I do not go with Strength. Stinking Cloud is far better.
Next time we'll finish up Throtl. For now, this is what our characters look like at the halfway point of the first dungeon. And after that first dungeon, I'll actually have some freedom to let you all choose where I'm going next.