The Let's Play Archive

Temple of Elemental Evil

by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 10: Meaty Bags of XP

“Go on, Hal, not all of them have heard your gaming stories yet.”

“Yeah, okay. This one is from my first year of college.

“So the setup is that I had to catch a midnight train, but I had no wheels to get me to the station. The rules lawyer for my group at the time had some, though, and offered to get me there.”

“’Rules’ lawyer?”

“Just what it sounds like. Someone who demands that every game session stick to the letter of the rules and will stop the session for 10-20 minutes while people argue about interpretations and finally look the damned thing up.”

“So sort of like you, Lewis?”

“Not really. Rules lawyers will defend the rules even against their own best interests. Me, I just like to see how I can exploit them to my advantage.”

He’s also why this Temple run is base material only and no Prestige Classes.

“Oh, like I couldn’t break the SRD over my knee if I wanted to. And I’ll need to; as little as the CR system matters sometimes, there are still going to be some real challenges ahead. The Temple of Elemental Evil was converted in favor of honesty to the source material, not in favor of balance.”

“Back to my story? So the trick is that this rules lawyer buddy of mine had his own D&D session going on that evening, and since I had nowhere to be until that midnight train (going anywheeeerrree), I figured I could sit in on his campaign, see how things went when he DM’ed. And now that you know why I was trapped there, I’ll continue.

“See, these guys played the weirdest game of D&D I have ever seen. They spent the whole session figuring out a scheme to use Teleport spells and high-level Crafting skills to game the economics system! They took mithral from one town and adamantium from another, smelted them together into some kind of alloy, then sold them in a third town at a profit! The whole session was spent figuring out the numbers for how to pull this off! I mean, to their credit, everyone looked like they were having fun, but that was the most boring RPG session I have ever been present for.

“But enough outta me. Bob, you ready yet?”

Yes, I’m ready. So you spent the night upstairs without any random encounters, and just now you’ve taken the secret staircase down to the second level. In the next room, you can see, hear, and smell an ogre smashing around in the next room. To the other side, you can see a staircase leading further down, which seems to indicate you could bypass the ogre entirely if you wish.

Pass up a sack of XP that big? Never! Have at thee!

…Nice damage, Suzie. Fortunately, ogres have much fewer hit points than giants, so this combat should go much faster.

…That makes it Meleny’s turn. Since she has access to 2nd level spells now, that means I can convert into Summon Nature’s Ally 2, and it looks like Small Elementals are on the list. Let’s see how we do with a little fire.

…8 damage.
That’s enough to take it down. Guess the Fire Elemental wasn’t too useful, then.
What’d we get?

A fairly huge pile of…let’s see…mostly copper pieces, really, along with another magic cloak.

Oh, and you hear some quiet moaning coming from the next room. Opening the door, you see a trio of poorly treated gnomes.
What about traps?
No traps, sorry, I just want to move this part along. The gnomes look out through the door and see the unmoving form of the ogre, then look at you with tired smiles. “I am Nybble. Thank you for rescuing me. I am eternally grateful.”
“Friend gnome, if I may ask, what has brought you to such dire straits?”
“Eh, you know, doing some adventuring with a couple buddies. The warrior agroed that ogre over there and it started beating us to a pulp. Totally out of our level range.”
You should try some lockdown spells next time. They’re really good in this system.
What are you doing?
Well, gnomes are supposed to be weird, right? Plus this was the only way I could think of to get William involved. Anyway, “Chanda, the cleric, had to go AFK for a while, and since we were playing Hardcore, I figured we should surrender to the ogre. Bad idea. We’ve been stuck here for days, totally not fun at all; we really should have rerolled when we had the chance. Thanks for getting us out, though. Here, have this ring. It’ll let other gnomes on this server know you’re alright by us.”
“Um, thank you for your generosity, friend Nybble. Is there any other knowledge of this dungeon you might share with us?”
“Oh, sure, there were some other people who came through wearing special cloaks. Apparently they set the AI of this region to ignore. Wish we had some when we arrived, but I guess we chose the wrong mission path for that.”
“Right, well, thanks for the information. I wish you luck on your endeavors.” I can’t believe you really went there, Bob.

Well, gnomes aren’t supposed to make sense, now are they? So which way do you guys go next?

Northwest of the ogre’s room, you find yourselves at the base of the normal staircase to this floor.

So we could’ve skipped the ogre entirely, then?

Well, the ogre and a fairly large pile of zombies.
Not that big for long, I think.

With the Strength bonus, looks like 28 damage.
Jesus, William. That takes it down in one hit.
If you think that’s impressive, just wait for my turn.

Roll ‘em. Hmm, and with Greater Turning, that makes it…three of the zombies collapse instantly as you brandish your holy symbol. Next up is…Green Slime.

Wait, WHAT?! Green Slime!? You’re attacking us with Green Slime without even a hint of warning?!
Relax, it’s a…special kind of Green Slime, made just for this module. It’s really more of a weak Gray Ooze or Ochre Jelly than a dungeon hazard.
Should I even ask what Green Slime is?
It’s normally a non-mobile substance that devours flesh and metal on contact, and that means Constitution damage. It’s a lot less nasty than it was in 1st or 2nd edition, but it’s still a pretty mean hazard to throw at the party. Along with the Rust Monster, it’s also a pretty useful way to rid adventurers of those pesky overpowered weapons and armor they sometimes accrue.
And like I said, these Green Slime monsters are nothing like the dungeon hazard, so you won’t need to worry. Besides, it missed.

Sounds like it’s time to break out the ol’ Burning Hands.
Wait, but isn’t Garrett in the line of fire, there? How come he isn’t considered a target?
He’s actually got full cover behind the wall corner there. See?
Oh, wow, he does.
See? I told you guys this was a great app.

Ha ha! Greater Turning racks up another four kills!
Hang on, I thought that was a once per day deal.

…And with Josephus’ last strike, that’s all she wrote.

Any loot?

Sadly, neither zombies nor slimes are inclined to carry valuables. However, you do notice a secret ladder hidden in one of the nearby pillars. Do you wish to climb down?

Might as well.

Once at the bottom, you find yourselves ambushed by a pack of ghouls.

The party then proceeds to murder the lot of them without a single paralysis or ghoul fever between them. Moving on…

…After a final bout of twitching, the Giant Crayfish slumps to the ground and starts sliding into the water. Beyond it, you spy a scroll lying on the far side of the pool.

Ooh, ooh! Quick, Paul, identify it for me!
I mark off a 0th level spell.

The spell is Knock.

Come to papa!

Roll your Spellcraft…oh, sorry Hal, that’s not enough. Better luck next level.

Goddamn it. That’s a stupid restriction, anyway.

Still, the rules for magic scrolls are draconian because magic is so powerful. You’ll get it eventually, Hal.

I rolled a—
Hang on, Suzie. The gnolls actually want to talk.
What, really? “Um, why would you wish to speak with us?”
“I offerrrr you a deal. We wish to leave this place. Give us gold and we will leave you be.”
“Again, though, why?”
“We have lost a parrrrt of the pack to the Masterrrr’s ill-planned rrrraids, and we rrrrecieve less loot than the rrrrabid bugbearrrrs. Give us 100 gold and we will leave. Give us 200, and we will take you to the Masterrrr!”
100 or 200 gold to do what we plan on doing anyways, huh? And, ah, how much experience would we be getting if we let the gnolls go?
Well, hmm, I suppose I couldn’t give you much, since you’d be paying them off instead of defeating them in any real manner.
“Ha ha ha ha, nice try guys, but we’re here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and it sure doesn’t look like you got any bubblegum.”
“So you choose death instead?”
“Well, your death, technically, but yeah.” Start up your dice, ladies and gentlemen.

How’s about a little fire, scarecrow?
Wait, why can he cast that spell again? When did we rest last?
Just after we killed the Giant Crayfish, remember? It’s not that big a deal.
Ah, right. Lemmie just erase a few markers before I go…

…And just like that, the leader is down.
Quit kill-stealing, Paul.
He was down to one hit point! Did you want him to take another turn?
No, I just want to be the biggest, baddest motherfucker on this team.
Look, just because I’m a dual-wielding Bard doesn’t mean I expect to be the best frontliner! All I want—
He’s joking, Paul.
Yeah, dude. I don’t give a flying fuck how good Big McLargeHuge is.

Well, that’s good, because all the attacking gnolls have knocked you down to Disabled.
Still, with Diehard, all that means is you’ll be taking partial actions for the next 10 turns or so, minus any further hits. I suppose I should heal you just in case they keep dogpiling, though. Hold still.

…23 damage.

That was the last of them. Do you guys realize you just killed 9 gnolls at once, several of whom had class levels?

And only two characters took a beating! Now what’s the loot? C’mon, you can’t tell me these guys weren’t carrying something!

Well, it’s mostly just money, but…

…Passing that, you find yourselves at the bottom of a familiar staircase. It would seem that after taking the secret passage, you have mainly just circled around to where you began.

At least that means there should be a quicker way out.

In this chamber, you see a number of bugbears. These don’t bother to parlay, instead raising their weapons immediately. Roll initiative, everyone…Alright, Suzie, you’re first. Don’t forget your Favored Enemy (Goblinoids) applies to Bugbears.

Holy shit. I actually hit something with this stupid crossbow. I think that’s the first time, too.

One uninteresting curbstomp battle later…

Actually, it’s not over yet. The bugbears in the next room have heard the commotion, and they are now coming to investigate.

Good thing I was waiting for that to happen. 24 damage to the first guy who walks through the door.

The next one actually tries to run past you, so Paul and William, you get Attacks of Opportunity.
Which way is he heading?
It looks like he’s trying to run straight for the mage.
Hey now, that’s harassment, and I don’t have to take it.

Sounds like I should move to protect Hal. I ready an action in case anyone gets past the others.

…The Barbarian Bugbear takes advantage of everyone having used their AoO’s and drinks a healing potion.
Shit! Get him before he can use any more!
Why are you getting so excited over that?
Because if we kill them before they can use any more, they become OUR health potions!
He has a point. William, don’t slack off now.

…What was that, 33 damage between the two of us for trying to drink a health potion? I don’t think he even had that many to start with. Stupid, stupid bugbears.
They’re a little more worried about self-preservation than some of the other monsters, but yeah, I suppose I should have made him take a step back towards Meleny rather than face you two.

That was the last one. Everybody gets a level. I think we’ve got enough time left to do that tonight.

Ah, the fabled 4th level. So what’s everyone getting for their stat increase? I’m boosting my Strength from 17 to 18.
Constitution, 17 to 18.
Dexterity, 17 to 18.

Are you still going with Archery for your weapon form?

Actually, with all the flanking going on, I thought I’d go with two-weapon combat instead. You know, hon, I was looking at the early Ranger abilities, and I think I might stick with Rogue levels from now on since we’re only going to level 10 or so. Can I do that?
Only because you’re Human. Otherwise, you’d have to keep your levels fairly even or else face an experience penalty. That’s just one reason why Human is everyone’s favorite for min/maxing. Hal, how are you doing?

I took a couple more buff spells, plus I decided on Constitution, 15 to 16. I’m getting kind of tired of getting wiped out anytime someone breathes on me.
Trust me, it could be a lot worse. You could be an Elf. Paul? You seem to be taking a while.

I was trying to see if Heroism conflicts with Inspire Courage (it does). In the end, I went with Cure Moderate Wounds and Glitterdust.
That is a totally gay spell, dude. Just saying.
Right, I almost forgot. Bob, what do we find on all the bugbear bodies?

Ah, potions to spare. Well, glad we killed them all so quickly, then.

Yeah, I’m not really sure you were supposed to get so many of them. Oh well. See you guys next week.

Wait a second, what about that Knock scroll? I roll Spellcraft again!

Oh, didn't make it.