To the north, they can hear the excited babble of goblin voices beyond the door. Every few seconds, a pained scream sets the adventurers’ nerves on edge. Two figures detach themselves from the group and creep down the dimly lit hall toward the door. Stopping before the door, one figure reaches out and oh-so-carefully tries to turn the handle. Locked. The two figures creep back down the dimly lit hall and rejoin the group.
“It’s locked. One of you rogues see if you can unlock it.”
“We don’t have any rogues in the party.”
“What?!? I thought we had two rogues at the start of the adventure!”
Greth suddenly finds something interesting on the ceiling and refuses to meet anyone’s eye. Sulader suddenly finds something just as interesting on the handle of his war pick and also refuses to meet anyone’s eye.
“We did. Their players switched characters, though, so now we’re exploring a dungeon without a rogue in the party.”
“Well, that’s just great.”
“Let’s just have the minotaur break down the door.”
“My name is Harold.”
“Yeah! Okay, everybody position yourselves behind the minotaur. He’s gonna bust down the door, so ready an action if you want to.”
“My name is Harold. Look, if we’re just going to bust down the door anyway, why don’t we try knocking on it first? Maybe someone will actually open it.”
Six sets of eyes swivel toward the minotaur… uh, I mean, toward Harold. You can see them trying to come to grips with this radical suggestion. Knock… on… the… door. Brilliant!
* * * * *
For our third session of Keep on the Shadowfell, there was once again some minor reshuffling of PCs. Sardalf (razorclaw shifter rogue) was replaced by a paladin named Sulader. So the adventuring party’s current roster is as follows…
- Caliban (deva avenger)
- Greth (gitzerai hunter/seeker hybrid)
- Harold (minotaur great weapon fighter)
- Korlon (half-elf warlock)
- Sulader (goliath paladin of the Raven Queen)
- Tarionsus (tiefling warlord)
- Tosdar Strudil (dwarf battle cleric)
After trekking up a winding road from Winterhaven and arriving at the ancient keep, the heroes saw that someone had clearly tampered with the ruins. In the center of the debris, stone blocks and timbers had been gathered off to one side. Someone had cleared a path through the rubble and pulled aside the wreckage to reveal a stone staircase.
Caliban and Greth led the party down the stairs leading into the dungeon. The flicker of torchlight spilled from a room at the bottom of the stairs. Moving a bit farther down the stairs, the avenger and ranger/seeker saw two short, gangly humanoids in the room. One was a run-of-the-mill goblin warrior, but the other goblin had what looked for all the world like a harpoon. Ahoy there, matey! The harpoon was attached to a spool of wire or rope that lay next to the goblin picador’s feet.
Since Greth and Caliban sneakily snuck down the stairs without being noticed, they started off combat with a surprise round (which occurs if any creatures are caught completely off guard at the start of a battle). Caliban charged the warrior, and Greth used twin strike on the picador. Twin Strike is pretty handy. It allows you two attacks and targets either one or two creatures. Like I said, pretty handy.
As far as I can tell from my notes, Caliban was the only PC to be hit with a harpoon during this encounter. He was also the only character to go down (just unconscious and dying, not dead-dead) during the fight. And he also went down (would’ve been dead-dead but for the grace of the DM) in the session’s second encounter. When he's conscious, the avenger has a pretty nifty encounter power called Oath of Enmity. When Caliban uses it to make a melee attack against a target and the target is the only enemy adjacent to him, he makes two attack rolls and can use either result. The effect lasts until the end of the encounter or until the target drops to 0 hit points, at which point he regains the use of the power. Like I said, pretty nifty.
Caliban took the harpoon in Round #1, which was also when Sulader lumbered onto the scene for the first time and promptly fell into a pit trap where a rat swarm attacked him. By the time the goliath managed to extricate himself from the trap, he was bloodied. The swarm followed him up and out of the pit. The rats then spent a few rounds tormenting Korlon. By the end of the fight, Greth, Korlon, Harold, Sulader, Tar, and Tosdar were all engaged with the freaking rat swarm. Greth got in the last hit, at which point a lone rat still managed to evade the heroes and scuttle back down into the pit. Geez.
Before that happened, there were still goblins that needed slaying. I must say, though, that none of them were as tough as that freaking rat swarm. One interesting moment was provided by a wounded goblin sniper who backed up against a door in the room to the south and yelled, “Don’t come closer or I’ll open the door!” Okay, buddy, calm down. Written in goblin on the door were the words, “BAD! DEAD!” The sniper ended up opening the “BAD! DEAD!” door and sprinting down some stairs. We let him go and used a dead picador’s harpoon to secure the door while we moved on.
After the scene found at the top of the post, when we realized that being a rogue-less adventuring party had its drawbacks, Sulader went up and knocked on the door while Harold prepared to charge whatever opened it. At the sound of the knock, someone yelled, “Not now! We’re working over Splug!” The paladin knocked again while Korlon called out in goblin, “Intruders! Help!”
And the door opened.
And one very surprised goblin found a goliath and a minotaur all up in his grill, as the kids say nowadays. The ill-fated goblin doorkeeper screamed like a little girl and then went down like a sack of potatoes as Sulader and Harold moved into the torture chamber. They saw a goblin tied up on a table that was covered with implements of torture. The goblin squealed happily, “Yes, yes! You’ve come to rescue Splug! You are Splug’s heroes!”
The adventurers were more concerned with a seriously ripped hobgoblin wearing a black executioner’s hood who started to move around the table toward them. From behind another table in the room, goblin after goblin started popping out until we thought that the table must be like one of those clown cars at the circus. (You know, when an implausibly large number of clowns emerge from a comically small car, to humorous effect. Okay, it’s not as funny when you have to explain it.) One of the goblins who popped out from behind the clown car table was a hexer. It would turn out to be quite aggravating. Its Stinging Hex attack caused Tar no end of problems.
Except for Caliban being cut down, this actually wasn’t a very tough fight… just a long one. At least Splug was cheering us on the entire time. I was disappointed when Tosdar used an attack called Wrathful Thunder and missed with it. I think any attack with such a cool name should automatically hit. “I smite thee with Wrathful Thunder, foul creature!”
So anyway, when the fight was finally over, we questioned Splug and found out a lot of interesting stuff from him. Most of which we were pretty sure was crap, but we thought he might be useful later on and so we didn’t kill him. In fact, we took Splug with us as we exited the dungeon. After the two encounters, some of us were banged up enough that we decided an extended rest was in order. As we were setting up camp for the night, a small bird flew around our heads, twittering urgently, and then settled on a tree branch. We noticed it had a note attached to its leg. The note was from Valthrun and read: “It is worse than I suspected. You should take the heart to Sunderpeak Temple and let the Sentinels of Bahamut dispose of it.” Back in Winterhaven, we had seen the temple on Valthrun’s map and knew that it was farther up in the Cairngorm Peaks, but on the same road as the keep. Before assigning watches and turning in for the night, we decided we’d head for Sunderpeak Temple in the morning, so that we could turn the shadow dragon heart over to the Sentinels and not have to worry about carrying it back into the keep.