The Let's Play Archive

Temple of Elemental Evil

by Bobbin Threadbare

Part 11: Right in the Face

“Let me tell you the one about how I helped ruin this one guy’s Epic Fight.

“Now, to be fair, he brought it on himself. It was his first time as DM, and he asked several experienced players—including me, at this point—to build 15th level characters for him.”

“Hoo boy.”

“Yep. Me and the friend who invited me decided to go easy on him by only using half-broken builds, y’know, stuff that’s mostly overspecialized. He built some kind of mauler Druid if I’m remembering right; I built myself a fast-talking gnome.

“The point of the build was basically to buff bluff into the stratosphere. Skill Focus, Persuasive, all that good stuff. I think I even found a Desert Gnome variant for an extra +2 racial bonus, but the centerpiece of the build was a Bard spell called Glibness. Glibness adds something ridiculous like +30 to Bluff checks. The downside is it doesn’t work for combat stuff like distractions or feints, but hell, who needs it? With Glibness cast, I think my modifier was in the mid-60’s or so. Probably higher. At this point, I could have murdered the bailiff at my own high treason tribunal and talked my way into a medal instead of a noose.

“So the setup for this session is that there are a ton of orcs camped just over the horizon and our characters have been hired by someone or other to figure out just what they’re up to. Bad place for a bluff master, right? Nah, you’re just not thinking with gnomes. I figured we could use some info, so I spun my Hat of Disguise, changed my appearance to a high-ranking (if short) orc shaman, then walked straight into the camp, found the most important-looking tent, and brazenly demanded to be let inside.

“To say the least, the DM was not expecting this.

“The guards are fooled by the disguise and I get in without much trouble, but then the DM tells me there’s a succubus in the tent and she instantly sees through my illusion. If you think that’d stop me, though, you’d be wrong. ‘Alas and alack, ‘tis true my form is indeed that of a gnome. When I was but a youth, I stumbled across a cursed belt which changed my appearance to that which you see before you. Unaware of my true nature, my former comrades drove me away with vile oaths and rocks, forcing me despairingly into the wilderness. There, as fate would have it, I stumbled across a tribe of orcs who were deceived into allowing me to join them, and without a home to return to, I ruefully accepted. Since then, thanks to my surpassing intelligence and grasp of magic, I have ascended to the magical leadership of said tribe, and I have come to accept my new lot in life without regret. So if you would kindly tell me what the plan is now?’

“His response: ‘There’s no way she’s going to buy that.’ My response: ‘Well, go figure, that gives her a +20 to her Sense Motive check against me. I rolled an 84. How’d you do?’

“I still remember the way he slumped his head when he rolled. Ah, priceless moments.

“Anyway, the DM fed me some BS about how the leaders in the tent didn’t know what was going on and would be instructed later or something like that. I let it go, though. I knew I had backed him into a corner, and there wouldn’t be a point in pressing further.

“I mostly sat out for the Epic Battle itself. I threw a couple buff spells, I think, but the other players were the ones just shredding apart the poor DM’s armies. The idea was that we were trying to stop a circle of cultists from summoning their demonic master at the moment of a lunar eclipse. I guess the DM really, really wanted us to fight that demon, because that was the fastest damn eclipse I ever saw. I’m pretty sure he intended to move the counter once every round, but when he saw how fast we were wiping out the cultists, he started erasing whole chunks of the bastard for every single turn.

“I forget if the session ended just after the DM gave up and brought in the demon or whether it stuck around long enough to get its face smashed in. Either way, I think we taught that DM an important lesson that night: low experience Dungeon Masters should stick with low experience player characters.”

“That or you taught him to never DM again.”

“So it’s win-win. Bob, you ready yet?”

Yeah, I’m set. So last time, you guys explored pretty much all of the Moathouse, except for one particular passage at the south end of the bottommost level. Branching to the southeast is a rough-hewn hallway which appears to lead outside. However, when you open the door to the northeast, a man stationed looks surprised at your appearance:

“’Ang on a minute, there! What’re you doin’ ‘ere?!”
Why are you looking at me?
“Yoo’re in front, ain’t ya? Oi ask the questions ‘ere, trespasser! Gimmie one good reason Oi ain’t gonna sound the alarm!”
Well, I’d probably fucking kill him in one round if he did.
You’ve been raising Intimidate when you level up, right? I’d say that statement qualifies, so roll it.
Only because I’ve got, like, nothing else to spend skill points on. *Roll*
Ouch, yeah, that’ll do. “Ah, well, Oi was joost on moi way out anyway. Good luck with the master.”
Well, that was easy.

Just wait. The next room you come to is absolutely packed with bandits and raiders, all of whom are wearing much better armor and equipment than the bandits upstairs. One of them, who looks more important than the rest, looks at you as you enter: “What are you doing back here?!
“Looking for the new master, obviously.”
“You shouldn’t be here.” The man turns and shouts at a nearby door. “We have company, Lareth! Now surrender at once or die!”
Hmm, good question, surrender or die, surrender or die. What do you think, guys? I thought so. It’s clobberin’ time.

Let me just say for the record that there’s going to be quite a bit to clobber. Like around twice the number of party members. Suzie, looks like you won initiative.
I’m really glad I took Improved Initiative. The attack deals 12 damage with Sneak Attack.
Right, so a whole bunch of the enemy goes next…most of them move to surround you, Suzie…take 3 damage…William, you’re up next.
Who’s the important guy who yelled at us?
The Lieutenant? He’s in range, yeah.
Don’t forget to Rage first.
Oh, right. Raah.

Ouch. Lewis?

Looks like I can get six of them with a Sound Burst.
Alright, I’ll roll Fortitude saves while you roll damage…oh, damn, looks like they were all Stunned.
What does that one do again? I always get Stunned confused with Dazed and Nauseous.
“Stunned” means they cannot act (in this case, for only 1 round) and they take a -2 to Armor Class, as well as losing their Dex bonus.
Does that mean I can Sneak Attack them?
I don’t think so.

Meleny’s turn next, I think I’ll have her summon an Earth Elemental. Maybe this one will be more helpful than the Fire one earlier.

…You hear a man shouting from the next room in an arrogant tone of voice.
That’ll be the boss-man, I’m guessing. Get ready, folks.
“You guess?” I thought you read through the module.
Well, yes, once, but that was a few months ago now. Plus I only really skimmed it. I wasn’t trying to cheat, after all, merely…making sure we would be prepared for all the challenges in store. I’ve probably forgotten everything but the major highlights at this point. But I think it was your turn now, Suzie.

A man emerges from the interior room who you can only describe as “magnificent.” The way he strides shows that he’s aware everyone in the room is currently looking at him, and his platinum-blond hair has all the signs of being perfectly groomed.
Hey, William?
Go murder Pretty Boy over there.
On it.

Oh god, he’s talking now. Take your turn faster, William!

…Holy shit.
That’s how you add those, right?
Yeah, yeah, it’s just…the guy only has 49 hit points. Um…Lareth surrenders.
What, seriously?
Well, he’s kind of a coward, he doesn’t like pain, and he can’t tell you about what’s going on if you just up and kill him in two rounds. C’mon, guys, play along, at least for now.
“Who are you, that these brigands call you Master?”
“I am Lareth. Some say the Beautiful, but not in this undignified state to which you have subjected me! Now what is the reason for this most unkind intrusion?”
“We heard there were some bandits attacking the local yokels, so we figured, ‘Hey, let’s have a look.’”
“Do you mean to surrender to us?”
“Indeed, if you let me live, I can offer you the chance of a lifetime. A place where you can find wealth beyond your wildest dreams and experience the stuff of legend. I can show you the Temple—the Temple of Elemental Evil! I can guide you to an unguarded passage inside.”
You sound like you’re reading that off the back of the box.
I’m looking at his dialogue section, I swear.
So what do you say, guys? Let Pretty Boy lead us to the reason we’re here so he can (fail to) backstab us at the doorstep?
I’m fairly sure there’s more than one way there. After all, we might have killed Lareth without even hearing a word from him.
“Sounds like that’s not good enough, Pretty Boy. You got anything else for us?”
“Fine! Take my golden chain—it is worth more than your pathetic life tenfold! Take it and begone!”
“Hmm…nah. Strip.”
“Strip, Pretty Boy. Heh, heh, heh.”
Goddamn that’s creepy.
The guy’s gotta be covered in magic items, right? I want ‘em.
He’s not going to let you have them. You’ll have to kill him first.
Works for me.

Lareth cries out to Lolth for protection, and she responds by summoning in several large spiders. Everyone reroll initiative.
Isn’t she the Drow goddess or whatever? Why’s a pretty white guy worshipping her?
She’s not exclusively a Dark Elf goddess, at least not in Grayhawk. Remember, she is the god of spiders foremost.
Paul, looks like you start us off.
Miss…miss. Damn.

Jesus! That kills him! You knocked him through every level of dying and killed him!
Two swings, two hits. Aw yeah.

…It’s a target-rich environment!
Dude, you’ll hit me, too!
Guess you’ll just have to take one for the team.

And I get hit with the most damage and get knocked down to dying. Thanks, Hal.
Oh, quit whining, I’ll be over there in a sec.

…And with 25 damage, Josephus gets the kill and ends the combat.

That was a good fight, guys. It got fairly close for a couple of us, but we pulled it off.
Now for the looting!

The rest of the brigands have pretty basic stuff, but on Lareth, you find 9 platinum, a light mace, a gold ring, a silver necklace, the golden necklace he promised you, a magic breastplate, a magic ring, a jade ring, gilded boots, an emerald, and a Club of Striking.

A what?

Oh, crap. Forget I said that. Pretend it’s unidentified for now. It’s not in the base books, anyway, I’ll tell you what it does later.

Searching his private room, you also note his dresser drawers.

So Search, Disable Device, and Open Lock.

Don’t worry, Lareth didn’t trap his drawers.

Inside, you find four unidentified scrolls and Lareth’s journal.

Give it here.

Let’s see…did he really divide his journal into chapters? …He says that he’s a priest of Lolth, even though the Temple is really dedicated to Zuggtmoy. His idea was to step in and assume leadership somehow, mostly by conquering Hommlet, because that apparently matters in the big scheme. We also have the location of a village called Nulb now. I seem to recall that someone there can point us in the right direction.
Sweet, let’s go.

Oh, right, I almost forgot to mention, there are a couple extra spiders waiting outside the hallway now.

Hot damn, critical hit with the motherfucking crossbow!

Looks like I murdered the second one in a single hit, myself.
Conveniently, that gives Meleny just enough XP to reach level 4. Luckily I prepared the stuff ahead of time, so this will only take a moment.

Right here we can see Meleny’s stats after the Circle of Eight finished with her. It turns out to be a pretty good spread for a 30-point-buy Druid, and with the stat increase, her Wisdom is now 18.

Is that everything? Then let’s get out of here.

Wait, why are those guys here?
“I see you’ve found the Moathouse. My friend and I have been searching for you. You have something that belongs to us.”
Uh oh. But I thought I wasn’t seen when I was stealing the barbarian’s equipment?
“It is true, I did not see who robbed my companion, but when your dwarven cleric started wearing his armor through town, I couldn’t help but draw certain conclusions. We were already tasked with stopping you from finding the Temple, but I can assure you it is quite personal now.”
“Hang on, buddy. Why can’t we just talk about this?”
Zert’s here, too? He didn’t find out about my theft, did he?
“Wait a minute, that was you? I had to borrow money from Turuko because I couldn’t pay off my inn stay without selling my armor! You know what, forget talking. Let’s just kill them.”

Suzie, you’re going first again. What’s your action?

We’re all tired, wounded, and out of spells from the last battle. I think it’s time to run away.

Fine, you’re back just inside the escape tunnel. Now what?

Time for some sleep.

But they’re still just outside the door. What’s to stop them from killing you while you sleep?

We’d set a watch, naturally. Plus, if they try to come in, they lose the advantage of numbers. None of them are spellcasters, so they know they’ll have to get close enough for William to maul them, and I have enough spells and scrolls left to keep him going indefinitely. They’ll wait.

Fine, you get your rest and recover your spells.

Now we turn on all the buffs and go have a talk with the nice folks outside.

Turuko closes the distance to your characters. Meleny’s next…I think she’ll cast Entangle so you hopefully don’t get overwhelmed right away. William?

No more Turuko.

I’m gonna cast Magic Missile.
Alright, but you know all those archers who didn’t fire? They readied their action to attack spellcasters.

Well, shit.

On the plus side, that means I can cast Bane without having to worry about that.

Two for two.
Wow. I shouldn’t have even bothered softening him up first.

…I think I’m going to start summoning bears instead of elementals. Bears are much better damage soaks, and that’s all these Summon spells seem good for right now.

…And with critical damage, that makes it…37 damage.
Jesus, that’s gotta be a record.
Three turns taken, three adventurers dead. Not dying, even, but dead. I feel like I’m running out of expletives.

…Paul, go.

Still a pretty gay spell, but you can’t argue with results like that. By the way, Suzie, Sneak Attack damage applies to Blinded enemies, so go to it.

…But at this point, the only ones left are the ones Paul blinded, and we’re the ones who can’t move forward. Can you get rid of the Entangle spell early?

Yeah, alright. William, you’re next.

…And in a single charge, you’ve killed the only enemy left who poses a real threat.
Can we just wrap it up now?
No, Blinded enemies can still potentially hit, if only half of the time.

…That was the last one. Well done, guys. They didn’t even stand a chance.

What’s the loot?

Nothing you haven’t seen before. I’ll make up a list for you next time. It’s getting pretty late.

Good job, everyone. Excellent practice for the Temple itself.
So how big is the temple, anyway?
Imagine 8 Moathouses stacked together, and with far less wasted space.