H1: Keep Your Shadowfell
And so we continue with…
The Excavation Site
Jimmy looks around the corner again, the chamber ahead – illuminated by torch light – is strange indeed. The large chamber, sixty or more feet square, has been excavated- the floor dug away- mostly, leaving odd islands of stone- connected by long planks of wood. A ramp of packed earth seems to lead down to the lower level, which is mostly obscured from Jimmy’s view, the angles are all wrong.
Sounds of digging come from the lower level, or at least some-things are scrabbling around down there, again Jimmy can’t be certain.
What he is certain of is the goblins- there are three of them; on the closest island- maybe twenty five to thirty feet away from the halfling is a warrior or guard of some sort- armed with a nasty looking spear, and wearing metal armour. The other two goblins are on the island furthest away- the pair seem to be in discussion, or else one of them seems to be issuing orders.
The one being ordered about appears to be another sharpshooter, a crossbow wielding specialist- a menace. The goblin giving the orders looks pretty frightening, the same strange runes on the creature’s face, and its wearing robes- a spell-caster no doubt, Jimmy thinks.
The halfling waits a while longer, it seems the discussion is over on the far island, the sharpshooter hands something over to the goblin caster, the volume goes up- the caster seems displeased.
Jimmy shrugs, sneaks back to tell his friends.
Jimmy spies Goblins.
A minute or two later and Jimmy is already back in situ, at his corner, peering in to the room- the goblins are in the same places as previous.
Behind Jimmy the four other adventurers creep forward, trying to get as close as the can to the corner, around which, Jimmy peers.
Jimmy holds his breath.
Freeze-frame, Jimmy turns to see- Gokan, Sigur and Hal are all starring at Tonka, the dragonborn’s shield continues to rock back and forth on the floor- where he dropped it.
“Sorry.” Tonka mouths.
Jimmy turns back, the sounds of digging continue, at the far side of the room the two goblins are still in discussion. The goblin guard however is staring in his direction; the halfling draws back, for a moment, and then looks again. The goblin is already across the wooden plank and on to the ledge on which Jimmy and his fellow adventurers await.
The goblin comes on, maybe fifteen feet from the corner now.
“Oh… fiddlesticks!” Jimmy hisses, and steps out and flings his vicious dagger- high, wide and handsome, a terrible shot. The goblin guard screams.
And everything goes bad.
The uninjured goblin guard scurries forward a little further, and thrusts out its spear, low- at Jimmy’s feet, the creature is clearly adept with the weapon. Jimmy dodges and hops from foot to foot, trying to avoid the creature’s stabs, it gets frantic quickly- the guard is determined.
Finally the goblin sweeps young Jimmy’s feet away with a sideward manoeuvre, the halfling sprawls, having landed hard, but almost instantly bounds back on to his feet and takes a step back.
Jimmy’s magical dagger, having reappeared in his hand, spins out again, and again the halfling misses.
“Dammit!” Jimmy screeches.
Sigur steps forward a little, mutters, a thunderclap bursts above the creature’s head sending down a shower of soil and stone- none of which seem to have any effect on the stalwart goblin.
“Dirty Goblin bastard!” Sigur adds, frustrated.
Luckily Gokan is at hand, the half-orc swings around the corner- howling and screaming, his axes dance and smash in to the goblin’s breast- shattering its armour, both axes wedged in to the creature’s chest.
Gokan levers the goblin to its knees, and then at lightning speed rips free his battleaxe and swings again, decapitating the guard. The half-orc kicks the remains of the goblin off the ledge and down in to the excavated section. The creature crashes down, out of sight.
Gokan hits with a Howling Strike, combined with his Furious Assault and Takedown Strike- the Goblin Guard is smashed for 26 hit points damage, and is bloodied and on his knees. A second Howling Strike finishes it off.
Jimmy looks relieved, but only for a second, staggering up the hard-packed dirt ramp is a foul wretch.
“Demon!” Tonka yells, and points with his sword.
The demon is not that impressive; standing only four or so feet tall the grinning, horned humanoid-shaped elemental is surrounded by a cloud of buzzing angry flies. The creature’s great clawed shovel-like hands, ideal for digging, drag along the ground, seemingly too big for its body.
“Mow-mow-mow.” The wretch sounds, making chewing like noises, it rushes on and flails wildly at Gokan- the half-orc is momentarily outmatched, he has to give ground, desperately parrying the squat brute’s threshing blows.
Jimmy gawps, backs in to the wall, trying to get away from this new and terrible adversary, THUKKA, a crossbow bolt thunks in to the stone, inches above the halfling’s head, and ricochets away.
Jimmy scans the chamber, the sharpshooter has moved to a closer island, the other goblin – the caster – scurries after the artillery expert, drawing forth a nasty looking carved knife and a wand en route; Jimmy’s worst fears are confirmed- another caster.
The cursespewer steadies itself a second, and then gabbles strange broken words, only the last of which is audible-
A billowing black fog bursts around the demon; Sigur and Gokan begin to choke and cough, flailing wildly in the poisonous gas.
Taking ongoing 5 Poison damage from the Goblin Cursespewer’s Goblin Doom power.
A second dretch stomps up the ramp and rushes forward, this time at Jimmy- the halfling is no match for the creature, its great claws tear through his leather armour and in to his flesh.
For a brief second Tonka’s shimmering shield appears and fends off a blow or two, but the respite is short-lived, Jimmy sags, and staggers.
Jimmy is bloodied.
Hal and Tonka are unable to act, the pair are bottle-necked in the corridor leading to the chamber proper, the dretches have effectively formed a fleshy demonic barrier.
“Kill one of them!” Tonka shouts, alas Sigur, Gokan and Jimmy seem somewhat preoccupied.
“Let us in!” The dragonborn demands.
But the three are not listening- they’re fighting for their lives.
Hal and Tonka make ready to rush forward in to action should the opportunity arise.
Sigur chokes, this shouldn’t be happening, the dwarf thinks- he trundles backwards, elbows out, shoving Tonka and Hal out of the way.
The dwarf mutters, mumbles and grumbles- his favourite ghostly hands are invoked, both dretches are rapped or else slapped, the demons burn with radiant hurt. Sigur nods to himself, satisfied with his skills, the dwarf repeats the trick- conjuring another pair of ghostly hands, and to the same effect.
Although battered and burnt the demonic brutes hold the line- they don’t back down, or give an inch.
“Step aside Jimmy, step aside little one…” Tonka shouts over the hullabaloo, the halfling obliges- trying desperately to cover his mouth with his off-hand, there’s poison in the air.
Hal steps in to the gap, swings his greatsword, backhand, forehand carving in to the demonic wall- both creatures are sliced, they bleed some foul green smoking viscous fluid, which pools and begins to burn through the tiled floor.
Both dretches simultaneously descend in to some mindless scrabbling fury, their attacks come on apace- the pair flail wildly at the adventurers’ front line, although only Hal is scratched and clawed.
The Dretches Sickening Miasma (Aura 1) delivers one hit point damage to PCs making a move or standard action, cumulative if the PC is in the aura of both Demons. Some of the guys are taking 4 HP damage/round (Move & Standard) as well as the ongoing 5 Poison- not good.
Hal is desperate to clear the way; he cuts again with his greatsword, cleaving his blade from one creature in to the other. More smoking green gunk spews from the demons’ wounds, and yet the pair fight on, although both are staggered, and seemingly less accurate with their attacks.
Jimmy skitters and dodges and stabs at the nearest demon’s side, and yet more smoking gloop spills out, the halfling tries again; the dretch suddenly staggers and lurches back a little, causing Jimmy to miss his attack, but breaking the demonic barrier.
The Demon wall is broken.
Gokan, still choking, coughing and spluttering, begins to whirl- he gathers speed and then smashes in to the demons; the effect is beautiful and frightening. The half-orc’s blades whirl, and slash, and whirl, and cut, and whirl, and slice- it’s like some terrible hypnotic dance.
At some point critical mass is reached within the demons, as Gokan’s axes continue to bite – one, then the other, explodes. A shower of fizzing, frothing, stinking, smouldering green goo bursts out and over the adventurers- the smell is… even Sigur wretches, eyes watering, the dwarf screams his fury.
When reduced to 0 hit points the Dretches explode with Vile Death, a Close Burst 1 zone- doing 5 Poison damage to any creature in it.
A vast greenish cloud engulfs the ledge, engulfs the adventurers- the goblin sharpshooter and the cursespewer scuttle closer, to the next island along- trying to see in to the choking poisonous mist.
Suddenly bursting from the sickening cloud, screaming all the way, comes Gokan- the half-orc rushes forward to the edge of the ledge- a flimsy looking wooden plank bridges the gap to the next island, on which the two goblins stand.
The half-orc leaps, and expertly lands on the island- avoiding the flimsy plank altogether, he slashes and bashes madly with his blades. The goblin cursespewer is cut once, twice- and staggers back, almost over the side, it looks nearly beaten, certainly broken and battered.
Gokan with a natural ‘20’ on his Athletics check.
Gokan shakes, growls and howls some more- glad to be out of the poison cloud- the half-orc sucks in lungfuls of fresh, or at least fresher, air.
Gokan leaves a trail of destruction (again).
“Bahamut preserve!” Tonka nods at Jimmy, the halfling’s hurts fade, the dragonborn lifts high his longsword, and screams.
“For the platinum dragon!”
Then charges forward to the edge of the ledge and out on to the flimsy plank- which bows and strains, and…
“I bring you… Vengeance!”
Tonka leaps the last ten or so feet on to the island, as the plank shatters and tumbles down in to the excavated area. For all his effort Tonka’s attack is way off the mark, and yet the dragonborn isn’t done, he lurches forward- sword and shield together- smashing in to the goblin cursespewer, which has nowhere to go, except over the side.
The goblin lands with a sickening thud, neck broken.
“For Bahamut!” Tonka reaffirms.
Tonka, the destroyer.
The last goblin standing shuffles back a way, or rather as far away as it can get, back to the furthest island. The sharpshooter sets itself, and then opens fire at its nearest enemy. The bolt slams in to Tonka’s shield, lodges there- the dragonborn grins and rages- pointing with its longsword at the goblin.
“I come for you.”
Back in the poisonous mist Sigur harrumphs and mumbles- “bloody Bahamut this, Bahamut that…”, clearly unimpressed.
Sigur stumbles out of the poisonous mist; the grumbling dwarf seems to have suffered little harm, his race’s inbuilt immunities keeping him safe. Yet another ghostly hand flutters forth and attempts to slap the goblin sharpshooter, illuminated in the torch light over the far side of the chamber.
The goblin alas is much too quick.
Sigur grumpily mumbles as Jimmy and Hal follow the dwarf out of the poisonous haze. Jimmy tries with his dagger, even though he’s at an incredible distance, it worked against the wyrmpriest in the stone circle, the halfling remembers.
His blade clatters well short, and soon after reappears back in his hand.
Hal is much too far away, the metal man thinks for a moment, and then shouts over at the sharpshooter, in an oddly piping voice- “I would advise you to lay down your weapons, any further actions which could be interpreted as manifestations of violence will be met with force, this could have dire consequences for you.”
“Wha…” The goblin manages, and then Gokan smashes in to it, the half-orc’s battleaxe removes the lower six inches of the goblin’s arm and hand- the one that was formerly clutching its crossbow.
The creature screams “Surrender…” and stares at its newly acquired bloody stump.
“You were warned.” Hal adds.
Gokan comes in handy.
Even Sigur grins.
Moments later the dwarf calls over to Gokan, “bring him over- it’s question time.” Then sits down on the edge of the ledge, looking down in to the excavated depths; he swings his stumpy little legs and whistles a happy tune.
Encounter #6 Synopsis, PC XP & DM’s thoughts.
Encounter #6 In to the Shadow Keep, starring-
Total 625 XP for a Level 2 Encounter.
*Converted/Adapted Town Guard- I think.
Again just a change of personnel really, I think the addition of the Demon Dretches also upped the ante with atmosphere- first level PCs battling Demons seems suitably heroic to me.
125 XP each for a total of 949 XP in total (PCs Level 1).
One more encounter and they’ll have enough XP for level 2.
I got lucky bottle-necking the PCs in the corridor; it just fell right in the initiative order, reducing Hal and Tonka to bystanders for a round of the action.
Gokan however is proving to be a terror, there’s almost nowhere on the map that the half-orc can’t get to, particularly if it involves an Athletics checks en route.
It also suited my purpose to have the goblin surrender again, it also just makes sense to get the fight finished sooner rather than have it drag on.