Before we get to the action, let’s review the cast of characters:
- Boojum— a pixie wizard (played by Steve)
- Blake— a razorclaw shifter barbarian (played by Andy)
- Dagon— a watersoul genasi artificer (played by Robert)
- Gaultis— a goliath warden (played by Chad)
- Silas— an eladrin vampire (played by Drew)
“Is it hot in here, or is it just me?”
After reaching the Grey Hills, information gleaned from the local population about the recent disturbances led the party to investigate a refinery operated by the Stonehammer Clan of dwarves. When our heroes approached the entrance to the refinery, an overpowering stench of sulfur assaulted their nostrils. Other than the icky stench of sulfur, everything seemed normal as steam and smoke billowed from chimneys and the faint sound of hammers on anvils echoed from within the refinery.
Just inside the entrance, in the only room at ground level, the PCs found themselves battling Stonehammer dwarves corrupted by the chaos power of the fire crystal. A flickering halo of red flame outlined each dwarf.
- 2 Duergar Guards (Level 4 Soldier)
- 2 Duergar Scouts (Level 4 Lurker)
I tweaked the monsters’ damage stats so that each time one of them hit with a warhammer, crossbow, or beard quills, the target took 2 ongoing fire damage and a -2 penalty to attack rolls in addition to the regular weapon damage.
As the battle in this room was winding down, one of the scouts up on the rickety wooden balcony fled through a secret door disguised as a ventilation shaft.
DM Tip: We use these Goody Ouchless Mini Gentle Elastics as markers to show if PCs or monsters are bloodied, marked, or subject to some other type of an ongoing condition (slowed, dazed, ongoing damage, etc). The elastics are available in most stores that have hair styling accessories (I got mine at Walmart). To get them, of course, you’ll either have to send your wife into “the girlie section” or just man up and plunge in there yourself.
What Goes Up…
After clearing the refinery’s entrance hall of bad guys, our heroes decided not to check out the inviting tunnel from which a pale orange light poured, along with the rhythmic pounding of hammers on anvils. Instead, they chose to investigate what lay beyond the secret door up on the balcony.
Silas and Blake stealthed forward and saw that beyond a short tunnel was a large chamber. Across the way were another short tunnel and a doorway. After a pitiful Perception check, Silas threw a dagger into the room to see if anything happened. Nope, nothing. So as Blake went back to bring the others forward, Silas went traipsing into the room to retrieve his dagger. Whereupon, the vampire promptly fell into a hidden pit trap. Oops.
Once Boojum arrived on the scene he sprinkled Silas with pixie dust so that the vampire could soar up and out of the pit. Unfortunately, after Silas came soaring up and out of the pit, when he landed he triggered another hidden pit trap. Oops. What goes up, must come down, I guess. Hee hee.
Oh, and did I mention that even as this one-vampire comedy routine was unfolding in the center of the chamber, the secret door slammed shut behind the party and molten lava began to flow out of three holes that suddenly popped open on each wall. Uh oh. The molten lava would advance a bit farther into the chamber each round and any PC that ended his turn in it would take 5 fire damage. Each round, two Fire Elemental Sparks (Level 5 Minion) would also emerge from the holes. Meanwhile, there was a hidden panel over by the far door that the party would first have to find, then spend some time fiddling around with the mechanism inside (three successful Thievery checks) to unlock the door and shut off the lava flow.
This encounter went right down to the wire, with our heroes just barely managing to fend off the sparks and get the door open before the lava flow reached them.
If the Furnaces Are Rocking, Don’t Come Knocking
After escaping the chamber with the lava flow, our heroes descended deeper into the refinery. As they made their way down a hallway, they were met with a sudden wall of hot air and ash. The hallway opened up into a giant metalworking facility where two giant iron furnaces were spouting fire and shaking violently. The metal walls of the furnaces were screeching as they strained to hold together. Even as the PCs watched, a geyser of fire erupted from inside one of the furnaces, throwing flaming slag and magma in every direction.
Several corrupted dwarves surrounded the furnaces, working on warped and melted weapons. An imp flew around nearby, floating casually while looking bored. From a river of lava near the back of the room, what seemed to be a head of molten rock rose above the lava for a second, glaring about with fiery eyes before falling back into the surging river of magma.
- Duergar Guard (Level 4 Soldier)
- 3 Duergar Miners (Level 5 Minion)
- Imp (Level 3 Lurker)
- Magma Hurler (Level 4 Artillery)
By the time we started this encounter, closing time at Total Escape Games was drawing ever nearer, so I kind of sped this battle along by using really bad tactics for the bad guys and also adding a few extra points of damage whenever the PCs hit a monster. We managed to finish up before they turned the lights out on us, and Dagon even had time to find a defensive staff among the detritus of the battle’s aftermath.
Tune in next week as our heroes delve deeper into the refinery as they search for the fire chaos crystal.