Part 3: Kingdom of Burning
So apparently swamp dragons are threatened by extinction and someone sent the party a very polite note asking them to kindly back the fuck off or else.
Well okay, it wasn't that polite.
Instead, they've decided to go exploring. Here's a nice waterfall, and I'm sure you're all very surprised to hear that there's a cave behind it! It's not as if that has ever been used before, right?
We need to put a barrier between us and the snakes! And it's easier said than done because these suckers can fly entirely unassisted.
Fortunately, they're also pretty fragile and you should have enough space to dodge around, so this isn't a problem.
The toads only show up once the snakes are all dead. This means you have even more space to move, so they shouldn't get to land a hit. I think they can poison you, though, so be careful.
Beetles, and lots of them! These aren't really anything special, just don't get surrounded.
The game auto-maps dungeons for you, which is nice.
My map calls this a "secret door". I call it an obvious hole with a bunch of vines in it.
This, I call a goddamn nuisance. Bane of adventurers everywhere, the gelatinous cube's attacks can cause some kind of paralysis and turn you into a smurf.
I kill the cube pretty quickly, and a quick rest in the recently vacated room fixes any problems we might have had.
Carrion crawlers can also paralyze you, but look at all that room around it. Look at it! Who's going to take a hit from that? Not us.
Here's this guy from the side, too. Because I care.
Owlbears! Goddamn owlbears.
Naturally, there's a wikipedia article.
wiki, on owlbears posted:
Gary Gygax created the owlbear, which was inspired by a plastic toy made in Hong Kong, and introduced the creature to the game in the 1975 Greyhawk supplement; the creature has since appeared in every subsequent edition of the game, including the game's first edition, second edition, third edition, and fourth edition. Owlbears, or similar beasts, also appear in several other fantasy role-playing games.
Side view. Owlbears, man. Fucking owlbears.
Nevertheless, it's a pretty powerful creature, but having cleared out the rest of the cave, there's enough room to move and they don't get to land a hit.
Here's an exit, and-
-a man-made corridor! Curious.
There are several rooms in this corridor, the first of which has zombies. Here's Thyra trying to turn undead. It does nothing.
We smash them into a pulp instead. That works.
The next room has a ton of scorpions in it and oh shit we are fucked.
They get a lot of attacks, can poison you since they're goddamn scorpions, and hit hard. We enter this room "sideways", so they get a free shot at our flank, and thus have access to the entire party. Even after turning to face them (which means Thor takes most of the damage), they output so damn much damage, it's really hard to win this without dying at our current levels.
That is, unless we fry them with lightning.
Oh, and here's the fun thing about the lightning bolt spell: it bounces.
If dealing 20 points of damage wasn't enough, the scorpions get a second dose of lightning up the arse when the bolt comes back from the wall behind them.
Needless to say, this means the party must get out of the way extremely quickly. Once that's done, though, it's easy enough mopping up.
There is also a proper secret door here, leading in to the room with the red dot, which is where we're currently at.
It's full of ghouls, yet another monster that can cause paralysis.
Thor knows exactly how fucked he is.
What's worse, there are more rooms nearby, and they're full of critters.
Worse still, they're trolls, which are strong as hell and not fun to fight at all.
Somehow we manage to beat them down without Thor's help and use their room to rest up. Close call!
...and the dungeon isn't over yet. Gargoyles aren't as dangerous as trolls but there's a lot of them in this room...
...and they're neighbours with even more trolls! We know when we're outgunned; Thor's party makes a break for it and heads for the nearby exit.
We emerge on a plateau overlooking the valley.
Exploring it reveals nothing of interest, but there is another waterfall down there. Maybe it holds another secret...
Poo. All those monsters and not a decent piece of loot anywhere. That was a waste of time.
And the other waterfall we found? Not a damn thing behind it.
Oh, FINE. We'll go west. Even though our casters are still being big babies about it.
(Oh, and Thyra picked up a hammer in town. Why? Because she can.)
Tigers: not so tough when they can't see shit.
...that looks hot.
It is hot!
Hot like burning!
But here's a thing.
o/~ don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me
...okay, I'll stop that.
Unfortunately, the spell doesn't last that long. You could potentially make it through this place alive with two clerics, but it would be painful.
For now, we'll just sit around for a bit and enjoy the rockin' soundtrack before moving on.
This fucker snuck up on me because he's camouflaged. It's rather a pain; he's not bad enough to require a Darkness spell, but he's hard to hit and gets three attacks per round. I prefer just to avoid these when I can.
Here's a cliff like any other. However, it actually holds...
With a fire giant in it.
And a colony of hellhounds.
These are late game encounters, and if we met them in the top-down view, they would murder us horribly.
That would also be true if we stood and fought them honourably, but that is exactly the wrong way to play this kind of game. We cheese this fight to hell and back (familiar territory for the hounds) and Thyra gains another level, becoming our first fifth-level character.
There's a nice reward waiting inside - if only we had something to spend it on.
The 1504 bucks (why the 4?) are at the 1.
This guy is between us and the 2. He's big, strong, tough and mean, and it's a good thing we have room to move or he might claw Thor's face off.
That's nothing compared to what this guy is going to do, though.
A red dragon is a fucking fearsome creature, far above anything we've seen so far. Black dragons are pussycats compared to reds. Even newly hatched, these things are several times stronger than your typical adventurer.
This guy? Dies to a fifth-level party without landing a hit.
The dragon's hoard is full of shinies and we even gain experience for picking it up, pushing Merlin up to level 5. He can now learn third-level spells! ...and he still doesn't have any. Merlin is sad.
We pick up a lot of great loot, including a +2 sword, +1 bow and a +1 plate mail. Thor nabs all three becuse he's the fighter and does fighty things.
Questor manages to snag a +2 shield for himself, and gets Thor's old +2 mail, which is a nice upgrade.
Thyra and Merlin just stand there seething with envy. Don't worry, guys; you'll get yours some day, too.
And the other exit to the cave?
Please stand by...