Thursday, February 22, 2018

5 Player Group: The Dark Shrine of Ruin Part 1: Throttlers and a Troll

"Wait, what's that one doing?"
"Sneaking ahead."
"Why?""Because he doesn't know the throttlers are there."
"Wow. He's gonna get cheesed.""Cheesed, Kovath?"
"Cheesed. It's like creamed, but it takes longer and you come out in chunks."
"...yep, he's gonna get cheesed." (Hat tip to Sir Terry Pratchett)

 We started a new dungeon called the Dark Shrine of Ruin.  I'll post the map and settings to generate it after my players clear it.  The log for these two sessions is found here.

Relevant Characters:
  • 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.  Played by Kevin
  • 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.

After a little wandering down the hallway, the delvers ran into a door which Teetonka picked the lock on and carefully opened.  nine screaming villagers started running towards the party and past a troll standing in the middle of the room.

Teetonka elected to use the backstab rules, (Exploits 57), with the rest of the party providing a distraction.  He managed to open with a solid hit to the Troll's neck, doing enough damage to somewhat irritate the thing.  The Troll spun on poor Teeto and sliced him up good with its claws.  The backstab ended up being a tactically interesting decision because the "villagers" were actually Throttlers.  The interesting thing about that is that the Throttlers couldn't resist the unprotected back of the thief and one of them snagged him from behind after his successful backstab.  Without that backstab, the throttlers would likely have all gotten behind the party before revealing their true nature.

Over the turns that followed, Teeto did two things: first, he pulled a bottle of alchemist fire out of his pocket.  Second, he suffered some grievous injury between the troll slashing at him and the throttler choking him out.  Once Teeto passed out from pain, the monsters let him go and turned to other party members.

The other throttlers and the players met in the middle of the open space and had a bit of a brawl.  Thenngar just ran in (having higher move than all the others) with his maul slamming into skulls and limbs, knocking one throttler out, ruining another's arm, pulling a fair amount of attention to himself.  He managed to kill a throttler, cripple an arm on another and knock out the troll by himself.

Gharza looked at the battlefield, and decided now would be a great time to try out a couple of new fire spells she picked up in town after the last dungeon.  She yelled for Thenngar to run, then executed a 5 yard smoke spell (with a lane for retreat cut out), covering 4 throtters and herself in the smoke, then stepped back to keep from having to breathe any of it.  The next turn, she cast a cinder cloud spell over the same area leaving the throttlers choking, burning for 4 hp per turn (2 DR becomes 1 DR due to large area injury and 5 damage per turn) and dying without any idea which way was out.  I just called the throttlers inside dead to save time.

Stonemaul opened with a blistering 12 point sunbolt he'd charged before the fight started, but the shot went wide and Stonemaul settled in to do some work with his mace on the southern front. Fiona joined Stonemaul on that flank and proceeded to stab and slash at the throttlers that approached them. 

Not long after the smoke was established, the same throttler who had choked Teetonka into unconsciousness managed a grapple against Thenngar and started working to choke him to death.  Turns out choking through a large barbarian's rigid throat armor one handed isn't a great plan.  Even with the wounding multiplier, it was usually 1-3 damage per turn. Thenngar managed to break free once and then was re-grappled.

It took Fiona and Stonemaul several turns to finish off their opponents and move over to aid Thenngar (who was being choked by the throttler).  Fiona stabbed that last throttler in the eye.  From there Gharza just laid a 1 point flamejet on the troll until recovery was impossible.

Scavenging the room yielded  only about $273 worth of stuff for each player, which makes it difficult to go home without a net loss.  The generator wasn't generous today but it was only supposed to be a worthy fight and the only reason it went as badly as it did was an initial deception that cost Teetonka something like 30 HP.  The party decided to bravely soldier on despite their severely wounded thief. 


  1. This is an example of why I struggle with the Backstab rules as written sometimes. Basically, combat time starts with a bunch of "villagers" fleeing past a troll in the middle of a big, basically empty room. Then with a Stealth-10 roll (-5 if you count the room as "shadowy") the thief moves roughly 20 hexes into the room instantly, behind the lead monster.

    I'd honestly have just said, "No, that doesn't work" and moved on. But as written, you played it correctly. Still, what exactly happened there? The villagers paused while the thief snuck up for 20 seconds at Move 1 and got behind a high-Per creature who is obviously part of a planned attack against the oncoming PCs? It just boggles the mind.

    I've allowed Backstabbing in a fluid combat situation or when location is basically unknown . . . but not if the circumstances just don't seem to allow for it otherwise. Again, though, I know that's not how it's written.

    1. I'm willing to ignore issues with verisimilitude regarding backstabbing because I think the thief needs all the help it can get. That said in this particular situation it did not help the thief.

    2. I also dislike the Backstab rules, though more because it often lands the squishy Thief right in the middle of a huge brawl. I prefer the Disappearing rule from Action 2, which seems both more realistic and tactically flexible.