Part 16: The Casualties of War Never seen her look at you like that. Did something happen?
Oh, its just the solo campaign. I thought I was being obvious enough: her employer was really creepy, he had a creepy assistant, a creepy collection, a really fucking creepy house, and he wanted her to find a creepy artifact that caused a small zombie apocalypse. I figured shed collect the artifact anyway and give it to either the Neutral faction or the Lawful faction, both of which Id shown were involved in containing the artifact the first time. After that, the villain would assault whoevers stronghold and steal the item, and then wed move on to the final confrontation. Instead, she handed the artifact right to the villain, and then she got mad when he turned out to be a shapeshifting demon and took her eye to power the artifact.
Damn. Did you give her a chance to fight back?
Well, no, but the campaign isnt about fair fights. Shes regularly outmatched and still manages to win through stealth and sneak attacks, but in this case she just walked up to him to give him the artifact. I suppose it didnt help that we ended the session just afterward, since she insisted on going immediately, plus Ill have to figure out some kind of deus ex machina to get her out of there. I just hope the rest get here soon, because its been awkward between us all day
Much like the last group of gnolls, these bugbears seem uninterested by you, probably because the robes make them think youre part of the Earth Temple.
Kill them all.
We dont have to, though.
Or we could use the robes to get into a good position, and then before they know whats coming, *bam*!
Kill them all.
With the natural surroundings, rough walls, and genuflecting priests, you feel certain this must be the Earth Altar itself.
We should get rid of them all.
Not so hasty, this time. If we start a fight here, its entirely possible someone will get the entire Earth Temple on our asses, and then we wont be able to sneak up on any of the other troops on this floor.
Hey, that reminds me. Where the hell are all the other Elemental Temples? Its just been Earth, Earth, Earth since we got here.
Earth Temple is the biggest of the four, so theyve managed to push the other three Temples out of the first floor. The others are still below us.
What proceeds is a series of rather one-sided combats, most of which I start by placing the PCs next to the enemy, then using Garrett to attack one and hopefully get in a Sneak Attack or two. There were rooms of bugbears
And humans, too.
Unfortunately, the humans were adjacent to a room full of gnolls and an ogre chief.
Unfortunate for the gnolls, that is.
Josephus then knocked the ogre chief out of the fight with a single Tashas before the bastard could do more than run towards the party. That guy has a higher CR (11) and more hit points than the hill giant from way back when, just so youre aware.
I suppose it has been a while since you got rid of the chicken. So what Animal Companion should she get now?
How come you keep getting to decide what she uses? Im her husband, technically.
Because Im the loudest and no one bothered to disagree with me.
Well, I want to pick this time, and I say we pick a panda bear.
(Where did you find a stat block for pandas?)
(Its mostly just a reskinned black bear.)
There were a few more fights, but this stirge rush would prove to have lasting consequences. You remember how I said last time that they deal Constitution damage? That means fewer max hit points for every time you get hit.
I mean, Im down to 19 hit points at most, plus William and Paul got bitten, too. I think we should probably leave and rest until we recover our Constitution.
Still, were fully healed for the most part, plus we still have a few hit points left. I think we could handle one more combat.
Sorry, guys, but youve basically stuck your foot in a hornets nest this time. Youve found the main barracks for the Earth Temple, and the combat leader is instantly able to recognize you as false acolytes.
Goddamn, and me without any Fireballs. Its almost like someone said we didnt need any rest, or that we shouldnt go back and make some wands.
You still havent cast Haste, right? We can still pull this off if we act intelligently. Paul, start with Inspire Courage. William, dont forget to Rage.
My turn? Ill cast Sound Burst on the largest concentration. That should slow them down some.
Well I mean, it was only natural that the enemy commander attacked you, since you just moved and hit him for 16 damage, plus the other frontliners were busy with the bugbears on the other side. And Lewis was the one who said you should keep going with only 19 hit points.
I am so, so sorry about this.
No, Blackleaf, dont hang yourself!
God. Okay, Im not Chick Track upset about this, its just that after this and the solo campaign, Im feeling pretty frustrated right now.
One (admittedly harder than usual) cleanup later
Ha, ha, talk about insult to injury. So everyone gained a level?
Well, you didnt, but Meleny finally crawled up to 6th level.
Third level spells, at last! Im taking Haste as one of my spells, Hal, so you can do something else with that spell slot.
And meanwhile Ive got access to 4th level spells. Hello, there, Divine Power, nice to finally meet you. Whats that? Hit points, +6 Strength, and a higher attack bonus? Why, thank you very much! And Holy Smite, so glad you could make it! Taking the Good Domain is now officially paying off.
What did you get, William?
A point of damage reduction, good against anything. Woo.
Lucky for you, most of our enemies cant dish out over 40 damage per swing, so it may be worth something.
Can we get back to town and raise me, please?
Goddamn, thats one hell of a discount. The component cost alone for a Raise Dead spell is normally 5000 gold pieces.
Now lets head back to the Temple and find the Earth Temple master. I feel like getting some revenge.
Hold on, according to my notes, theres a chest we never managed to open which the blacksmith showed us. Weve all gained a couple levels since we were in Hommlet last; do you want Garrett to give it another try?
Oh, might as well.
Whats this, did you finally get that blasted thing open? Excellent! Now, this item here is what my client was asking for, but you can have this horn.
Add it to the list of things that need identifying. And then lets get them all identified, since were here.
Well, its not so much throw as fire a Lightning Bolt.
I think Ill hang on to these, in that case.
And whats the horn do?
Well, I suppose at least one of those is pretty useful.
And now, back to the Fireball spewing.
Wizard levels were had,
And Wonnilons rediscovered!
Ive still got his equipment. Here, Wonnilon, I have found your stuff!
Great, thanks! Oh, wait, whats this? You guys holding out on me? What about the crossbow and the Control Plants scroll?
The what? Guys, did you take something out of his backpack? Suzie?
I dont steal from clients.
I believe the useful items in your gear were divided by your captors.
Well, youd do me a big favor if you found my crossbow. I got some special mods for that thing, and itd suck to try and spawn a new one. I also paid out of the nose for that Control Plants scroll, so itll be bitchin if you could get that for me.
What would you need with a Control Plants spell?
This Temple is dedicated to the Demon Princess of Fungus, duh. Theres more fungus and ooze and shit the further down you go. Its an 8th level spell, too, so itll be pretty hard to resist.
Question: the fuck does Elemental Evil have to do with fungus?
It never really made sense, although you could get away with that sort of thing more in 1st edition. Like the fish people trapped underground nowhere near the ocean.
The Kuo-Toa? I had forgotten all about them. Hmm
Oh, right. Well, assuming you guys arent holding out on me, let me know if you find my other stuff. Thanks again for what you brought!
And then, ghouls. Sure looks like a lot, but they didnt do too much to the party, even though Alistors Greater Turning only knocked out two each time.
My names Hardboot, and Im always up for some work. Lets start by working my hardboot up your ass.
Been saving that one for a while?
Im thinking of making it a trademark phrase.
I cast Holy Smite on the room.
You remember that over half the party is Neutral, right?
Oh, theyll be fine. Besides, the Blindness effect only works on Evil characters.
Hmm. Oh, I know, Ill try to Fascinate one of the bugbears so he doesnt attack!
(I thought that only worked outside of combat.)
The bugbear is attempting to escape, but that means he has to run past everyone, so roll attacks of opportunity.
Hit, and 12 damage!
That does him in. Congratulations, guys, youve destroyed the Earth Temple.
Along with his magic equipment, you find Romags key, which opens a chest with a sizeable amount of gold in it, as well as some scrolls and his diary.
Not right now, its getting late. We should do wrap up next time.
Hold on, theres one thing left to do to destroy the Earth Temple.
We cant forget the altar itself! Plus the worshippers should probably be killed.
An Earth Elemental intervenes when you try to murder the acolytes.
Two hits later
Well, I guess thats the last of it. Like Lewis said, though, it is pretty late, so Ill do some of the basic stuff ahead of next week, and hopefully we wont take forever getting started.
One temple down, three to go.
One floor down, three and a half to go.
And a half?
Youll understand when we get there.