Wednesday, May 23, 2018

5 Player Group: The Dark Shrine of Ruin Part 2: Giant Apes

 “But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind...”
“What’s that Zarlzazz ?”
“Oh just a poem about the inevitability of consequences.”
“What’s it got to do with the dungeon?”
"The injured Half-Ogre just stuck his head into the room full of giant apes."
Poem fragment from  Rudyard Kipling The Gods of the Copybook Headings

 We started a new dungeon called the Dark Shrine of Ruin.  I've gotten way behind on posting recaps so I'm recruiting players with points as a bribe to do it.  This one is written by Colarmel  The log for these two sessions is found here.

 The Party:
  • Fiona Firedrake: a Human Knight with a shield and a longsword with a focus on defense.  Played by Kalzazz
  • Gharza Brokentooh: a Half-Orc Wizard with a focus on body control spells, who recently took up a few new fire spells.  Created by Kevin; half-played by Colarmel this fight, explaining some of the poor wizarding decisions.
  • Stonemaul Ironbeard: A Dwarf Cleric with a good overall mix of healing and support spells, a mace and a shield.  Played by Starslayer 
  • Teetonka: a Half-Ogre thief with a battle axe and a shield.  Played by Bruno
  • Thenngar Chainbreaker: a Human Barbarian with a big shiny maul.  Played by Colarmel.

We licked our wounds and soldiered on despite a still-wounded thief. As is occasionally the case with a random dungeon generator, we spent some time exploring a tunnel that ran in a circle and affected nothing. Then we tried the next door: it was trapped with a spring-loaded needle, Teetonka spotted it, and disarmed it with a bit of candle-wax. The door was unlocked, and swung open easily giving us a good view of the occupants. Unfortunately, we were less stealthy than we should have been, and the occupants (6 Giant Apes) saw us seeing them. We ran away to a defensible location: fortunately this was before we adopted our current assumption that doors to a monster’s room were plenty big enough for the monster, and the apes normally impressive speed was wasted trying to squeeze through a tiny door.

The initial rounds went fine, Gharza casted Shield to boost the knight’s defense, Stonemaul prepped a big (9d!) sunbolt, and some crossbows were fired. Unfortunately our ‘defensible position had two access points, and the apes immediately split up, indicating an intention to utilize architecture against us. The two entrances were a problem that could have been fixed if we’d just backed up a bit further, or used some field control on Gharza (Whose player I remind the reader, was absent) to plug the hole. Instead we divided our force. Fiona covered the western door while Thenngar covered the south door, intent on ensuring that the gorillas regretted taking the backroad. The first few rounds of melee went pretty well too: Fiona was parrying unarmed attacks for free damage, and everything was great. Until Fiona rolled 18 on a parry. Looking at the logs it seems we forgot to factor in the crit-fail of that, but the consequences were disastrous enough: Fiona was grappled, and the ape began to squeeze her. Thenngar couldn’t reach the fighting until the apes had a few shots at our squishy insides, thankfully none of them successful. Colarmel wasted some Gharza turns with fireballs before realizing she could limit the combat effectiveness of the apes with smoke. Which she did making the apes compromised as they attempted to gain entry to the non-smoke filled area where all of us were. Fiona tried desperately to escape the ape, and got squeezed like toothpaste. Teetonka successfully set an ape on fire with alchemist’s fire, and Stonemaul blasted an ape with impressive force with that sunbolt he’d prepped earlier, and attempted without success to free Fiona with a Command. While Thenngar’s ability to parry was less impressive than Fiona’s, his damage was enough to start breaking some arms. And he a few of the apes in their vulnerable skulls due to Ape posture. Fortunately the difficulty of getting into our hallway with giant ape bodies prevented the apes from trampling us and continued to give us a fighting chance. Gharza closed off the south hall with still more smoke, and everything was beginning to go our way (Other than Fiona). It was at this moment that an earth Elemental appeared at the back of the formation.
At some point the ape that had grabbed Fiona put her down, presumably reasoning that a limp adventurer didn’t need to be squeezed into paste as much as the live adventurers. The fight with the apes at this point resolved to : Ape attempts to grab Thenngar, gets hit; Thenngar breaks an ape hand or foot, lather, rinse, repeat. The Apes successfully grabbed Thenngar twice: but in both cases, Thenngar was saved by a Command spell from Stonemaul.

The stone elemental on the other hand, was in a tactically advantageous position, and might have done some real damage. It advanced on Stonemaul and he attempted to turn spirits: it wasn’t good enough, and the thing kept coming. Things could have gotten bleak after he except that a command critical success resolved into “Charm” and meant that the earth elemental turned into our henchman. It was dispatched to go retrieve Fiona. Instead: it got grabbed by the last of the combat effective apes (There were at this point, two standing, and one was running away with two broken hands). Thenngar ran up and struck it mightily upon the skull, and the fight was ended.

For my part as GM, I have mixed feelings about how we used this monster. I don't think it should show up in places where players have good access to choke points and they should have to fear overrun much more. As a result, between this outing and the two player one, Giant Apes will be used differently henceforth, and their CER will be adjusted for dungeon generation the next time I do major changes to the monster list. I've also begun assuming the doors to a room are large enough for the monsters to get there. One day the generator may be able to logically figure out how the monster could get into this room and make a large enough hallway.

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