The characters for this session:
Fennec, L3 wizard, carrying a couple of weird potions (brains! eyes!)
Cauleigh, L3 warrior, with the wooden block of light-beam and locket with fire-breathing pills
Jotunn, L5 warrior, toting the Soulcube
Crompton, L3 rogue, with the locket with see-in-complete-darkness paste
ably assisted by the Herbal Teas:
Sage, L3 wizard – wears 3pts armour under his robe
Trefoil, L2 warrior – 20 base points armour, reach weapon
Heartsease, L2 warrior – 12 base points armour, long reach weapon
Wolfie, L2 wulfan – armour?
From hot pursuit to cold return, and back
At first inclined to push their luck and press forward, Cauleigh sets out across the guard-room at the hostile end of the water-pit. Then he pauses. “We haven’t checked that door left,” he mutters.
“And we could have missed at least a few Morlocks in the tunnels” Crompton points out.
“And there could easily be a secret or one-way door we haven’t mapped,” Fennec adds.
Jotunn is reluctant. In his mind’s eye he runs back over the scene: he pulls the door open, torchlight reveals womenfolk among the enemy… womenfolk. Definitely human women. And the mission they’ve just agreed on is rescue, right? But, he sticks with the current plan.
A fruitless search back on their tracks commences, and a brief foray back to base camp to tend the ponies takes more time. But the Herbals are still keen and loot remains to be looted so down they go again, back to where they last ended the pursuit.
There is at least one door they have not been through and that black Dwarves have used, but I fear to get bogged down in endless mapping, and like Jotunn I heard that the plan is to rescue the women, so just move them on here.
A cunning trap delays Crompton
Cauleigh feels his way along the wall, creeps forward out of the torchlight. Some minutes later he reappears: his thumb goes up. [L5 DEX to move quietly, and he’s not as heavily equipped as he could be]
Crompton checks the door north out of the guard-room cautiously. Then stiffens! Forty minutes later he signals the all-clear. The others need never know that the ‘trap’ was a cobweb. [rolls a fail on IQ]
Detected! And with a roar the black Dwarves attack!
The passage stretches north. A quick flick of the light beam tells them there’s a 4-way intersection ahead.
However as the party moves quietly up both wizards sense they have been detected in some way. Perhaps as simple as a ‘Ding‘ placed around the intersection. Fennec taps Cauleigh on the shoulder. The warrior glances back and sees not only Fennec looking worried, but Sage looking antsy as well.
The light beam picks out a door not far right, and fairly open passage both other ways. But now, a roar fills the air, and black Dwarves beat their shields and shout:
Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat! Meat!
Gaah! Giant lizard above the rear!
Cauleigh’s light beam reaches out north again and finds a squad rushing them. The broad-shouldered leader wields a two-hander sword.
Sage Lock-Tights the door they came from while Fennec Lock-Tights the door right. The Herbals’ warriors take their stand behind Jotunn and Cauleigh while Crompton stands behind them.
Fennec throws Glue-You at the leader and Sage, O-There-It-iS on the general area. Crompton uses Bic Flic to light his arquebus and shoots at the oncoming ranks. [Does not nominate, so the effect simply counts into melee]
As the front ranks are focusing on the onrushing foe they fail to spot a huge lizard walking upside down above their heads – until there’s a scream from behind them!
Cauleigh forces the ranks to break up a little and the first two black Dwarves, unsupported by their fellows, are butchered with scant harm to the defenders.
Now they notice the lizard and attempt to fend off its attacks to prevent their rear four from behind killed outright!
[Play slows down significantly as each of the back four makes a LK SR which provides me with how much damage they are allowed to defer. For example a L4 allows all of the 32 to be pushed onto a fellow defender. Neither Sage nor Wolfie makes great rolls and are left on low single digit CON. I forget to include Sage’s mighty 3-point armour!]
A desperate struggle
“We’re bugging out! Hidey-Hole!” Sage cries, throws a Hidey-Hole as first choice of not-being-killed, and then finds the door is still Lock-Tighted!
Jotunn swings his arquebus off his back, lights it off his torch, drops everything not a gunne, and shoots the lizard. Heartsease uses the excellent reach of her Demilune to good effect. “Be ready to fend it off the others!” Jotunn warns her. He is ready to brace against the lizard himself. But it does not fall! But, its attack is less effective and those below are better armoured – no-one falls.
“Back me up Trefoil!” Cauleigh yells, occupying the leader as best he can and attempting to isolate him. Crompton calls tempus fugit and agilely weaves through to join him. [He decides not to rely on enhanced speed so has double combat effect now] Over the shoulders of the Dwarves, Trefoil wields his footman’s spear to good effect as well. The living stamp on the fallen as they struggle beard to beard.
Fennec, aware he’s in a Hidey-Hole, struggles to focus on a useful attack spell. Then lizard-drool slops down the back of his neck! [He fails on IQ to pick what the front is doing and fails on CHR to focus on casting LF on Jotunn] Sage removes his Lock-Tight and he and Wolfie exit out of reach. Sage heals Wolfie so that the Wulfan can either get back in or flee carrying the Gnome.
An Elven pistolier threatens, and an enemy spellcaster is at work
Cauleigh weighs up the odds. He can now work out numbers in front of him. The leader and two of the half-dozen lesser black Dwarves are wounded, and Crompton is still moving with enhanced speed. Then, a new enemy changes the balance of play! He sees the flash of fire in a flash-pan from far down the passage as an unnaturally tall Elf levels a pistol at him. BAM! For a split second Cauleigh stares right down the barrel – then he swings up his magical buckler and the shot ricochets off, throwing him back. [While Cauleigh is uninjured there’s a shock effect from the bullet strike, lowering his own effectiveness]
Crompton feels the combat speed up to normal time as his tempus fugit effect is countered with GY. The black Dwarves surge forward! The front three are sore-beset! [Armour takes the full damage]
Lizard down! Now the fight can be taken to the enemy!
Fennec finally gets his Little Feets onto Jotunn.
Wolfie leaps high and Fennec uses his staff. They add their efforts to those of Heartsease and Jotunn. The lizard barely harms them. [A few points of spite shared round]
Cauleigh, Crompton and Trefoil are fighting the leader and other black Dwarves including wounded. Two wounded fall.
Behind them there’s a “watch out below!” – and whitish-blue flash as a TTYF from Sage takes the lizard’s life. Fennec dives away past Sage clear of the danger and Heartsease Wolfie and Jotunn manage to avoid being squashed. The corpse completely fills the passage near the door – luckily not preventing it being shut.
With their overhead foe out of the way they can join Cauleigh and Crompton. Jotunn drops Temerity and scoops his other pair of melee weapons up! Wolfie bounds forward! Fennec peers forward and realizes what Cauleigh is going to do, and waits ready for a spell.
Cauleigh kicks for the win, Fennec makes a late play for the bonus
Cauleigh – instead of sweeping – leaps and delivers a massive snap-kick to a black Dwarf’s face and lands with momentum as the Dwarf drops limply behind him. Over his shoulder there’s a huge crimson flash and WHAMM and the black Dwarf leader disintegrates. Small iron plates from the armour and the sword itself clatter to the stone floor.
Heartsease and Trefoil bound forward, following Cauleigh. Jotunn races in too at high speed. But the front line of the black Dwarves has re-formed and the fight is stiff. The rush forward stops on a wall of buckler and blade.
Looking to unpick the defence with an Oh-Go-Away Fennec clambers atop the lizard corpse. Out behind him Sage heals himself. Cauleigh feints and sweeps and breaks the rank up a little. The Oh-Go-Away delivers a pair of black Dwarves onto the polearms: the Herbals are ready and as the black Dwarves are impaled Jotunn and Cauleigh kill them. Wolfie leaps over his comrades and joins Jotunn in the pursuit of the final pair: they too are felled.
Scavenging the two-hander (finely crafted but not magical) and almost 30gp from the eight bodies, the delvers retreat safely to their base camp.
Base camp and a welcome chance to recuperate
The remainder of the day is spent quietly as the three spellcasters finish learning new spells swapped around, exercise ponies, and rig up more comforts. Cauleigh chances upon Sage who is in the ‘junk room’ working on polishing tin plates to help throw light. He points out a curious long cross-piece iron tube the Dwarves noticed before. Now they have more leisure to explore it’s not long before Cauleigh fits the long iron tube into the matching socket just inside the outer doors. It operates the doors and guardian heads! Now, the Dwarves can keep the servitor apes quiet and feral apes out.
[AP is spent. Fennec’s SPD leaps up, Jotunn and Cauleigh inch closer to the next level. Crompton and Fennec each manage learning a spell off two different teachers. ]
At an impasse in the bypass
Well-rested, re-armed and ready for trouble, the eight return to Level Two. But noise discipline is nowhere near as good as the last foray. Perhaps the thought that they may be magically detected makes them casual.
They reopen the door to the passage north and find that strewn bodies and equipment are all gone. Even the giant lizard has been butchered up and taken away, barring a few unwieldy bones and chunks of sloppy goo. Fennec lobs a Detect Magic to the intersection. Sure enough it’s a Ding setup or similar.
“Do you want to do the honours Sage or will I?”
“You think I have Dis-Spell?”
“That’s another for you to learn. Stand by…”
There’s a pause, long enough for Detect Magic re-cast, then the Ding effect is found to still be there. Fennec exclaims in disappointment.
Poor noise discipline brings the very thing they seek to avoid
Uncertain now, they pull back to think and check Cauleigh’s sketch-map. Just to be safe Fennec Lock-Tights the door. Cauleigh creeps east to listen, while Jotunn continues the discussion (at normal volume) about choices. He wanders over to join Cauleigh, then the two head back to the north door. They load and prime their firearms. Wolfie joins them. The others stand in a defensive circle, exposed to fire from the east.
“Keep noise discipline,” Fennec reminds everyone sternly (and loudly).
Wolfie listens hard.
“Coming” says Wolfie, and Sage drops a Hidey-Hole over the central group.
[No-one tells Sage that torches etc will still mark their presence. The Gnome and Fennec have lit torches and Crompton’s slowmatch is burning.]
War on two fronts!
Expecting a group to burst through the door two at a time, the two warriors flank it. Crompton makes an estimation of range of the Hidey-Hole and moves to cover the pitch-black passage east. He knows there’s a left turn north down there. Regardless of Hidey-Hole, he makes a target with slow-match burning and two lit torches right behind him.
Sage (politely reminded) throws massa-mana up and Fennec gains a mana buffer. [LK SR for Fennec as this makes him a possible target as well]
The glow of a Healthy Glow orb illuminates a floating giant snake, the upper part of which is a mature wizard, staff in hand. He has just floated around the left turn north of the east passage.
BOOM!! Crompton is ready and tries the shot. It’s good: the Healthy Glow shoots the bullet down.
Dis-Spell! Fennec de-buffs – or hopes he does. The wizard-snake pulls back around the corner.
Suddenly things and delvers go south
The north door opens: Cauleigh snap-shoots:
BAMM! And a cry of pain, and – instead of lashing Crompton – a sheet of ice sticks the door open. Crompton is slightly injured.
Jotunn shoulder-barges the door [L5 STR] and Cauleigh leaps through, finding himself toe-to-toe with another broad-shouldered black Dwarf, with another two-hander sword, this one clearly a frostbrand. The freezing death of the sword does smart but Cauleigh drives him back, and leaps back out. He and Jotunn set backs-to-wall and ready for the supposed charge through of the enemy.
Crompton has a breathing space but chooses not to get to cover as he reloads. And the pistolier-Elf nips round the corner: BAM! Crompton is down. [Crompton makes L4 LK to avoid the direct shot] And nips back.
[It’s such a classic dark elf tactic I have to say, no, unnaturally tall but not a dark elf]
Fennec ceases trying to get a bead through the door and flings his torch forward. Now only Sage’s torch is marking the invisible delvers.
There’s a pregnant pause at the north door. Neither Dwarf feels like sticking their head around…
And the floating wizard-snake floats back round the corner. The Glow marks him well:
Take That You Fiend!
A huge blast echoes around the entire level: a massive crimson arc lances from Fennec’s staff to the enemy – and stops short. He’s near out, and the enemy wizard just floated and watched. Uh-oh.
[LK SR from Fennec and the two much taller targets, Heartsease and Trefoil. Neatly backlit by Sage.]
BAM! The sharp cough of a pistol sounds again and Trefoil is out.
Snatching gear and dragging bodies the Dwarves and Herbals retreat!
And as they detect a pulse in both Crompton (1 CON) and Trefoil (pistol ball in shoulder but on positive CON) the session ends.
I knew this would be combat heavy but wasn’t quite prepared for the very long extra time needed to manage the Lizard-Black Dwarf fork-attack. Bit disappointing. dT&T combat can occasionally get just as involved as any other system.
Some decisions that shaped this session are:
“Spell up” strategy: Over the intervening days between sessions 19 and 20 the Fennec and Crompton players decide that their strategic need to learn spells, so as to maximise both career and chances of winning here, is at least as important as a tactical quick push on carrying injuries. Long breaks are favoured.
“Random preparedness:” I decide during my prep time that the ‘floating snake wizard’ will have convinced the Black Dwarves to use a little-used ‘bypass’ to outflank the Dwarves, on the d10 roll of a 1, and that he will directly intervene on a 10. So I got both. I’m comfortable with that since I don’t believe in BBEGs that just sit writing their secret evil diary while minions are torched around them. I’m looking at you Baur Pett et al.