DnD 3.5 - Northern Reaches sandbox game

31 - Descent to the Big Door

The party searched the guards to find a key with a purple gem. Belramos verified that the key radiated Necromancy magic.

The party proceeded past the guards and the hall came to a T-intersection. The guards’ living quarters were to the north. A search revealed a locked chest and, eventually, the key that opened the chest. There were a couple of bags of coins, a few ‘better’ quality furs, and a fine pair of boots that were obviously too small for any giant to wear. The party found nothing else of value and proceeded south.

There was a large, 20-foot wide, clockwise spiral set of stairs leading down. The steps were obviously made to for giants as each step descended about a foot and a half. After descending around 900 feet, the party discovered a large closed door. The party noted that the key that they found on the giant would likely fit this door, and that no one had gone through the door in a long time.

The party still had not recovered from the fight with the giants and needed to rest. Since the party had the key to the door and the dead giants were obviously not going to be using it, the party decided to recuperate at the bottom of the stairs before trying to open the door.

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30 - Quite a Fomorianidable Confrontation
Aggressive Negotiations with Formidable Fomorian Giants

This was probably the party’s most dangerous encounter yet. The party was heading north from the “Bat Hall” that was lined with statues. Two Fomorian Giant guards challenged the party to provide a password in order to proceed. The party had no idea what the password was and diplomatic discussions with the Giants were not yielding favorable results. Aggressive negotiations ensued.

Brell surprised the big Giant by shooting it with a crossbow bolt. The Giant reacted by making a wild swing at Ka and hit. Brell, Threll, Ryder, Dez, and Ka focused on attacking the big Giant. Belramos cast Bless.

Amazones maneuvered to attack the smaller of the two giants in order to try to prevent it from running. This turned out to be a mistake. She missed with her Stunning Fist attack, but both of the giant’s attacks hit her, knocking her down to -7 hit points.

The party managed to defeat the big Giant in the second melee round. The smaller Giant’s morale held and it attacked. (Maybe it was feeling bold because it felled Amazones so quickly.) The little Giant promptly scored a critical hit against Dez for 35 points of damage knocked her down to -3 hit points.

Brell, Threll, Ryder, and Ka continued to vigorously engage. The little Giant realized that it might not win the fight and started to back off. Belramos was able to get to Amazones and cure her just as she arrived to -9 hit points. Great save Belramos! Ryder got in the last hit that took the second giant down.

The party was victorious! Belramos and Brell were smart enough, cautious enough, or lucky enough to not get hit. Threll was hit only once, Ka and Ryder were hit twice each, Amazones and Dez were knocked unconscious and subsequently revived by Belramos.

Whew! That was close.

[Stay tuned for the next exciting adventure when the party discovers how much loot the Giants had….]

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28 Gem Cave
Hallucination Cavern

(Xorns?)

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27a - The Party So Far
Summary of Party (Alphabetical) and Monsters Encountered

The Party-(Maethylburg Marauders or BBRAKTD! for short)

Amazones is a human monk from the far West, who plans to avenge her family when the time is right. She uses a sling for ranged attacks. However, her most common attack is to use flurry of blows, which allows her to strike twice as fast as a normal fighter. Due to her Ki ability, each of Amazones’s unarmed attacks allows her to strike even creatures that can only be hit by magic weapons and each attack does as much damage as a long sword. She knows acrobatics and has a very keen sense of hearing. Amazones has an adamantine reinforced long staff and a continual light lantern.

Belramos is a half-elven cleric who focuses primarily on healing. He deliberately sacrificed some of his fighting ability when he became a Prestigious Caster in order to make his healing spells more powerful. He uses a crossbow for ranged attacks and a mace in melee combat, but his healing spells are what contribute the most to the party’s success. Belramos has an Amulet of Magic Missile Absorption and an adamatine mace. He also has a lantern of continual light, a scroll of invisibility to undead, a scroll of invisibility to animals, and a magic gem.

Brell is an elven warmage who has innate spell casting ability. He focuses on dealing damage at a distance. Brell has significant knowledge of the arcane, engineering, and spellcraft. Usually, he will shoot his heavy crossbow when a fight breaks out and then cast damage dealing spells like magic missiles, orbs of fire, and burning hands spells until everything is dead. The party relies heavily on Brell’s damage dealing spells. Recently, the party identified a Wand of Empowerment that can increase the damage that Brell’s spells deal. Brell has an adamantine heavy crossbow and a Ring of Spell Absorption set to absorb damage from Magic Missiles. He has a scroll of Tongues, a scroll of Shatter, a book of items (not further identified), and a cloak made of Hellhound fur.

Dez is a halfling rogue who joined the party a little later. She is the party scout. Her ability to find traps, move silently, and do sneak attacks have helped the party on many occasions. Dez has masterwork thieves’ tools, a +1 ring of protection, a continual light lantern, a bag of holding, and a +2 Long Tooth (Rapier).

Ka is a half orc barbarian who is trying to learn about his human side. He wields a greataxe with both hands. Ka can go into a rage twice a day which temporarily increases his strength. Ka struck the killing blow against several ogres with his dwarven Greataxe. He now wields an adamantine Greataxe.

Ryder is a stout female dwarven fighter. She has chopped many a monster with her Dwarven Spearaxe. Her knowledge of stonework and mining has helped the party on several occasions, but mostly she is the main tank for the party. She wears magic black dwarven plate mail that gets more powerful as she gains more experience. She has an adamantine Dwarven Spearaxe.

Threll is an elven archer. He made several magic arrows from magic arrowheads that were found in Castle Caldwell and he has been working on crafting a composite long bow for quite some time. Threll has an adamantine broadblade short sword.

What follows is information about Monsters the party has encountered so far:

Wolves – The party hunted some wild wolves in the woods north of Maethylburg. The wolves were boldly hunting near farms on the outskirts of town and posed a threat. While wolves are known for hunting in packs, this grouped seemed to be more organized. The party surprised two wolves and quickly dispatched them. The party, suspecting that there were more, pretended to be careless and unaware. Wolves attack from the south and their ‘leader’ tried to sneak attack from the east. Amazones spotted this dire wolf. The party killed all of the wolves except for one, that got away. The pelts were sold in town for a small profit. The party never found the wolves’ lair, so they may reappear sometime.

Spiders, Large – When the party started to clear out Castle Caldwell the first monsters that they fought were large (possibly giant) spiders. The party boldly engaged the beasts. Ryder was bitten several times and suffered from weakness due to their poison. The spiders’ webs contained a magic potion that apparently belonged to a previous victim.

Rats, Giant – The party found giant rats and rat tunnels in several locations in the castle. These giant rats always appeared in groups and their bite can cause disease. Ka recovered from a diseased bite while under the ministrations of Belramos who fortunately was able to aid Ka without the use of magic. The main rat lair was in a natural, underground cavern. The rats were noisy, and the party was alerted to their presence from a distance. The final battle with the rats was quite intense. The pack of rats that numbered more than two dozen was being controlled by a single Wererat. Using flaming oil against the rats was quite effective. The rats fought until more than half their number was slain. Brell’s magic and one of Threll’s magic arrows killed the wererat.

Stirges – One of the most dangerous encounters for the party was from a group of stirges. Initially, the party thought that the stirges were giant bats when seen from a distance. The stirges viciously swarmed the party which was almost overwhelmed. Once a stirge gets its beak into flesh it continues to suck blood, like a giant mosquito until killed. It is possible that a stirge might drink its fill and fly away on its own accord, but the party did not wait long enough to find out and killed them all.

Centipedes – The party happened upon a group of giant centipedes whose bite had a similar weakening effect on Ryder as the spider bites did. The centipedes were quickly dispatched.

Wererat-(Lychanthrope/Shapechanger) – The party discovered what appeared to be the lair of the rats in the secret basement of Castle Caldwell. There were about two dozen rats being controlled by a Wererat. The party used fire to help keep the rats at bay, until they managed to kill enough of the rats to break their morale. The party discovered a magic broach on the Wererat that turned about to be an Amulet of Magic Missile Absorption, which Belramos now wears.

Ogres – The party encountered ogres on multiple occasions, but the party never encountered any ogres by themselves. Ogres are not very bright and usually fight with heavy clubs that even stout fighters should avoid. Ka scored several killing blows with his Greataxe. Small weapons, such as daggers and short swords, probably would be less likely to deal significant damage. Inexperienced adventurers should go out of their way (a long way out of their way) to avoid confronting ogres. The ogres did not have much treasure. All of the ogres that the party encountered were working for Zerraptus.

Bears – The party encountered large bears, both singly and in pairs, in the woods to the north of Maethylburg while looking for Zerraptus’s hideout. The bears fought ferociously. The people of Maethyburg valued bear hide and bear meat and paid the party in gold.

Hellhound – Zerraptus may have had a pet hellhound. Brell now wears the hound’s hide as a cloak, thanks to Tomlin’s assistance. The party ambushed one of Zerraptus’s patrols in the woods near the Caves of Chaos. There were a couple of ogres, a magic user, and a hellhound. The party’s surprise attack managed to kill the magic user before he could even cast a single spell. The hellhound which was more than likely Zerraptus’s personal pet or familiar tried to flee by dashing through some burning oil. Hellhounds are at least resistant to fire or perhaps even impervious to fire. Brell killed the fleeing quadruped with a magic missile spell before it could get away.

Giant – The party encountered one giant in their adventures so far. It appeared to be a liaison to Zerraptus. It makes one wonder if Zerraptus was planning to make an alliance with giants. There was no time to question this monster. The party was able surprise the giant in a dead end room in the Caves of Chaos. The giant was quick and, despite being outnumbered by ten-to-one, did quite a bit of damage to several different members of the party before being defeated. The key to the party’s victory appeared to be speed and overwhelming numbers. When one fighter got injured, another fighter moved forward to take his place. It would have been unlikely for any fighter to have survived two consecutive blows from the giant.
Note: Dwarves are particularly adept at fighting giants.

Shriekers – These large mushroom looking noisemakers were in a crevice next to Zerraptus’s quarters. He probably used them as guards because they started making tremendous amounts of noise as soon as the party came near them. Fortunately, the party had already defeated all of the monsters in the area or these creatures would have attracted every monster that was nearby. It was easy for the party to kill the Shriekers, and the silence was much appreciated. Zerraptus probably knew a way to keep the Shriekers from being alarmed.

Berserk Clay Golem – There was a solitary berserk clay golem in one of the tunnels east of New Dwarf City that seemed to have been abandoned by its owner a long time ago. It was extremely quick and tough. It cast a spell that enhanced its speed. The wounds that it inflicted were highly resistant to healing. Belramos spent two days casting healing spells on Ka and Ryder because only about half of his spells worked. The wounds would have healed by natural means, but it probably would have taken about two months. Dez acquired her +2 Long Tooth in the clay golem’s cave.

Wombats – Wombats are giant (about the size of a pony) winged cave dwelling beasts that resemble normal bats in that they appeared to use sonar navigation. However, these wombats would frequently emit a sonic attack that could paralyze humanoids. Plugging your ears with cotton or wax can help decrease the effect, but almost every member of the party (except Amazones and maybe Belramos) suffered from this audio attack. The wombats appeared to have no other special defenses.

Cave Worms – The party encountered at least two cave worms in the tunnels near the Wombats. Amazones heard what sounded like reptile skin moving across rock. There were numerous holes, about 6 to 12 inches in diameter, in the walls as well as on the floor and ceiling where the cave worms were nesting. The party used fire against one of them, while another attacked Brell from the other direction. It missed. The party was able to vacate the area without getting injured thanks to Ryder’s armor. It would have taken a while for the party to lure the cave worms out of their holes. Since the cave worms appeared to stay in their nesting area, the party decided to move on without spending any more time waiting to see if and when the cave worms would attack.

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27 - We Don't Need No Stinking Cave Worms
Down Stream

The party continued exploring the area across the bridge after spending the night resting and recovering spells.

The party came to cave that had 6- to 12-inch diameter holes in the walls as well as on the floor and ceiling. Amazones’s ears had picked up what sounded like reptilian skin moving over stone. Dez very stealthily snuck toward the alcove at the west end of the room and saw a humanoid head, before she retreated to rejoin the party. Dez and Threll threw a couple of flasks of flaming oil into the alcove and something, probably a cave worm, slithered away in the holes while at the same time Brell was attack by another cave worm from the east. The cave worm missed. Ryder posted herself as a guard as the party exited the room. The cave worm attacked again, but Ryder’s armor protected her, yet again, and Ryder landed a non-fatal blow with her spearaxe against the monster. The party decided to leave these cave worms alone.

The party went back across the bridge to the slow moving water and did an experiment. They chopped up a torch and dropped the chips in the slow moving water and waited, which eventually confirmed that the slow moving water to the south was connected to the fast moving water running under the bridge in the north.

Threll was tied off to the end of 250 feet of rope. He explored down stream, following the slow moving water. He made it to where the tunnel turned north, and he could see a small lake that was the source of the fast moving water that flowed toward the west under the bridge. There was boat on the beach to the east close to where the slow moving water emptied into the lake. And there was another beach to the north-northwest side of the lake. Threll returned to report what he had seen to the rest of party. Brell and Threll went down stream together, retrieved the boat, and returned back upstream. Since Dez and Ryder are less than 5 feet tall, they got in the boat with everyone else’s armor and backpacks.

The party with Ka, Belramos, Brell, Amazones, and Threll in the water surrounding the boat headed downstream toward the lake.

[Stay tuned for the next exciting episode…]

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26 - (Not Too Much) Trouble Getting Over Water
And the Last of the Wombats, Unless There Are More...

Amazones tried to scale the wall to get to the hole where the Wombat flew out. Amazones slipped, so Ryder climbed up and secured a rope so that the rest of the party could easily climb up. The party took the rope with them.

Thanks to several lucky dice rolls from Mom, the party discovered quite a bit of treasure in the room at the top of the ledge. It had 7 silver, 36 gold, and 57 platinum pieces as well as 4 gems and 4 pieces of jewelry.

The party came to a tunnel with flowing water that was about 5 feet deep. The party tied Threll off with a piece of rope and sent him upstream and across the water to the tunnel on the other side. Using spikes at each end, the party secured the rope, and everyone crossed one by one, except Dez who crossed with Ka. The party left this rope in place as they continued to explore.

They crossed a natural stone bridge with water flowing under it at about twice the speed of the previous water. The party followed noise that sounded like more Wombats and found three more of these creatures in a room that appeared to be basically a dead end. Brell finished off one of the three with a Scorching Ray. Dez was aggressive with her Longtooth and was able to fight when Ryder and Ka were stunned.

Since Brell had used many of his spells, and Belramos had used a significant number of his healing spells as well, the party decided to rest.

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25 - What Does the Wombat Say?
Squeaka Squeaka Squa-TRHUNG!

The next cavern the party found by following the sound of water. The roof was about 40’ high and had half a dozen Wombats. Amazones peaked in the room and managed to not get the bats’ attention. She noticed a hole about 35 feet up on the wall across from the party. Confrontation seemed to be a forgone conclusion, so Ryder and Ka entered the room ready to fight backed up by Brell and Threll. The Wombats THRUNGed (let out a sonic attack) and immediately stunned Ka, Brell, and Threll. The party managed to dispatch two of the Wombats before retreating back down the hallway. While the party used cloth to pug their ears, Threll shot a few arrows at the Wombats that were bold enough to pass by the entrance of the tunnel. The party advanced again. Ryder got stunned, and Ka got stunned again. After much fighting, it became obvious that the party had the upper hand. Ka scored his first successful hit with his new axe. Brell killed one of the Wombats with Magic Missile spell. Ryder killed another when she got an attack of opportunity against a fleeing Wombat. The last Wombat got away by flying through the hole overhead.

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24 - Throd, the Gate Keeper

The party, having recovered from their wounds, decided to explore beyond the rubble in the tunnel that heads north from the long tunnel that runs east from New Dwarf City. Due to Amazones hearing humanoid noises emanating from the other side of the rubble that blocked the tunnel, the party decided to proceed slowly. Brell and Threll kept their weapons ready to provide cover fire in case hostilities were to break out. While Ka and Amazones were the primary rubble movers, Ryder supervised to make sure that they were not going to cause a cave in. As soon as enough rubble was out of the way, Dez proceeded through first.

The large cavern behind the rubble had eight humanoids and multiple entrances: the south, the direction the party came which was mostly blocked by rubble; the west, the direction the party decided to head; to the north by north east; the east by northeast; the east by southeast; and south by southeast which had rubble piled in front of it.

The humanoids behind the rubble appeared to be a type of Neanderthal race. They had long, stringy hair, muscular bodies, and were armed with primitive weapons such as rocks, clubs, and crude axes. They appeared to be standing guard. Initially, I thought that they were standing guard against a dwarven incursion, since the dwarves at the guard post said that the dwarves had non-lethal altercations with the humanoids, and the dwarves had even installed a portcullis to block the tunnel if needed. However, the rubble piled in front of the cave to south by southeast of this cavern makes me think that the Neanderthatls might have bigger concerns from things coming from that direction. The fact that they let us buy safe passage for some simple rations makes me think that they were more surprised by our presence than intimidated or scared.

Communication was a problem. The tallest among the Neanderthals was Throd. Dez ended up giving them some food, which they accepted at first with hesitation. After eating a couple of the rations, the Neanderthals apparently wanted more. They asked for twice as much from Ryder. Altogether the party handed over ten days of rations in order to pass safely. The Neanderthals started stacking up rubble again in front of the south entrance before the party even made it down the hall toward the west.

The party began to explore using an old maze solving technique of following the left wall. (Threll is still working on the sketch maps.) The first room that the party explored held some bones of a humanoid and what was probably an elephant or a Mastodon. The mold on the bones made the party leery about investigating more closely, and the party left without further investigation.

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