D&D4e–6th and 7th Sessions

Okay I’ve been incredibly lazy with my recaps of the our game.  Our next game is coming up tomorrow and I haven’t even written up the previous two sessions!  I’m going to keep the story on this one pretty short (it was mostly dungeon crawl anyway) and focus more on rules.

Our story starts with the party in the Seven Pillared Hall of Thunderspire Mountain.  They are searching for clues on the map that Esteru possesses.  Eventually, over the course of a week they finally find a Dwarfen explorer who is nice enough to explain how the ruins of Saruun Khel are marked.  Each Minotaur neighbourhood has a particular sigil and the various corridors are marked with those sigils to indicate which direction to go.

Armed with this knowledge the party geared up and headed into the ruins.  With the new instructions they were able to easily find the particular ruins they were searching for.  Unfortunately, as Esteru and Terios informed them, they would have to navigate their way through a defensive maze (which wasn’t pictured on the map) before entering the city.

I ran the maze as a skill challenge.  I pegged it as level 5 with 6 successes needed before 3 failures.  Dungeoneering was the main skill but Isabella’s player also tried to use Arcana to divine a way through.  I made that a Hard test.  She was also keeping a map for which I gave +2 on all checks.

The group unfortunately got 4 successes and 3 failures.  After the first failure they came to a room with a giant frieze of a Minotaur’s head.  They could see that the bottom jaw could move so they approached to investigate.  As they moved into the middle of the room big stone slabs descended to block off the only two exits.  A panel opposite the frieze opened to reveal a maze with a lever that could be moved through it.  The jaw of the Minotaur also opened and water started rushing out of it.

I physically handed Isabella’s player a maze and timed him trying to trace a path through the maze (with backtracking) to represent his character trying to solve the puzzle.  The stopwatch app on my tablet said that it took 42 seconds (7 rounds) to solve.  The water was going to completely fill the room by turn 4.  So they abandoned the puzzle and tried to brute force their way out.  Thankfully Terios and Baern were able to do so and everyone escaped having only lost a few healing surges.

After their second failure they came to a section of maze that appeared to have been tunnelled through.  Baern’s player started accusing people of cheating and a good laugh was had until Kruthik began swarming out of the side tunnels and attacked.  These were a level 5 encounter and proved to be pretty tough.  I toned down the big Kruthik’s attacks somewhat but still sapped the party of a few healing surges.  If I’d used his full attacks I think 2 of the characters might have gone down but they still would have prevailed.

For the final failure they came to a long corridor at the end of which they could see an exit into the Minotaur city.  However, as they started down it they noticed a false ceiling right in front of a false floor.  They correctly ascertained that the first was another stone slab that would seal the corridor and the other was a pit trap.  Baern also noticed, with his Dwarfen eye, that the corridor was ever so slightly slanted down towards them.  Finally, they also saw a faint rut in the middle of the corridor and some wear along the sides and roof as well.  Their guess was a giant boulder trap.

They used pitons to jam the slab shut then Harkness jumped across the pit.  As he started up the corridor he saw that there was a giant portion of the floor that was actually a pressure trap.  Not seeing a way around it (it was really big!) he stepped on it and got ready to bolt.  However, all that happened was a stone slab at the far end came down (and a crunching sound from the slab at the near end) and four runes lit up on the far slab briefly.  As he got to the far end he found four pressure plates on the floor with the same runes as on the slab.  He also found that the roof above the runes had a trap door in it and that the stones around the runes were discoloured as if from blood.

The runes were a Mastermind puzzle that needed to be solved.  Using his Perception and Thievery Harkness was able to narrow down that one rune was used more than the others and one seemed to hardly be used.  He made his first attempt but was unsuccessful (he got the 1st and 4th correct but had2 and 3 out of order).  It came down to rolling initiative to see if he’d be squished or escape – luckily he won initiative and was able to leap across the pit before the giant bolder crushed him.  As the party heard all sorts of grinding and machine noises Isabella’s character was able to point out the correct solution and the party arrived in the Minotaur city.

Since I didn’t want to map out the whole darn city I used two of The Angry DM’s systems – Project Slaughterhouse and the Abstract Dungeon.  The city was currently contested between three factions – Minotaur raiders, Goblins, and Myconids.  The main cavern in which they emerged was contested between all three.  The party was fairly banged up so they wanted to find a safe place to rest.

For rest I differentiate between various states.  There’s a place to rest, defensible place to rest and safe place to rest.  In the first two they still have chances of wandering monsters while in that last they don’t.  So the party wandered the main cavern looking for a safe place to sleep.  I was making each roll on the abstract dungeon chart take 1 hour and since they were trying to sneak around and avoid enemies and made it 2 hours.  They were eventually able to find a safe place as well as corridors that lead to the Temple District (Minotaurs), the Labourer’s quarters (Myconids), and the Artisan’s Quarters (Goblins).

When they woke up they tried to find a way past some Minotaurs that were guarding the corridor to the Temple District.  Seeing that they wore the mark of Baphomet Terios outright refused to work with the demon worshippers.  This left guile or brute force.  At first the party tried to fake a goblin attack to draw the Minotaurs out but the Minotaurs weren’t fooled by their feeble Bluff attempts (Isabella’s player forgot he’d taken the feat to use Arcana instead of Bluff – oops!).  Next they tried to harass them with magic missiles and crossbow bolts to lure the Minotaurs into an ambush.  Unfortunately the Minotaurs were too disciplined (really too afraid of getting mobbed by goblins!) to emerge.  So they abandoned that plan.

They then tried the Artisan’s Quarters figuring that Goblins would be much easier encounters than the Minotaurs.  Luckily the Goblins are really slack and weren’t guarding the entrance to their portion of the city nor the corridors leading to the river so the party was able to sneak through without any problems.  The session ended with them spelunking down 65’ to the river in order to rifle through the bodies of some adventurers that had fallen down there.

All in all I am happy with how things have progressed so far.  I wasn’t too happy with the Abstract dungeon method on account of not once rolling a wandering encounter.  It could just be small sample size or it could be a problem with only having 1 such outcome on the chart for each area.  Regardless I will be trying to D&D Next exploration system tomorrow and will see how that goes.  It’s looking really good so far.

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