There were in fact three fast and furious melees, all of which would've benefited from the use of miniatures, so they will be added next time. I would like to point out that this particular box included one gigantic troll, which I now feel obliged to include in the dungeon. Though not soon, since they still have an ogrish wight and five more orcish wights to deal with, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
As the title indicates, it was a bit of a slaughterhouse this time out. We had a new player, my old friend Trevor, with whom I haven't gamed in FAR too long. He added a rather resourceful magic user named Narpet to the party. Paul also returned, making a successful roll on the Table of Despair to pull his cleric Torren (Praise Sol Invictus!) from the current limbo of The Ruined Monastery, only to send him, naked and bereft, into the wightish hell Under Xylarthen's Tower. They were rounded out by regulars T.J. (Arp, then Punka), coffee (Sneerglaw, then Melvin), and Larry (Nimfitz).
Which gets me to the title of this post: We had no fewer than FOUR character deaths this time---two PCs and two hirelings. A record so far! A couple of hasty player decisions were compounded by numerous 17s and 18s rolled on my part.
- Upon reentering the dungeon, the group decided to head right back to the room where they'd previously defeated the ogre. They were fairly convinced that an unexplored doorway led to a treasure room. I'm not sure why, but they were. Opening a door somewhat less than cautiously alerted four new hobgoblin guards who were apparently inspired by the gods of war. Arp brought one down with a thrown handaxe, but then almost immediately Dolph, one of Arp's hirelings, got speared to death, followed shortly thereafter by Sneerglaw. Never let it be said that a balrog goes softly into the dark night: I gave him a chance for a "death immolation", which he succeeded at, and burned his slayer to ash. After a bit more rough-and-tumble, the rest of the hobgoblins followed. The treasure room turned out to be a stairway leading down, down, down.
- Narpet, upon viewing Sneerglaw's blackened skeleton (his flesh had also turned to ash, in the way of all true balrogs...), decided to take his skull since, "it might come in useful!"
- A corridor was passed from which a faint moaning could be heard.
- Upon entering a previously unexplored diamond-shaped room with a door in each point of the diamond, they stumbled upon the eerie tableaux of three pale figures, with their backs to the party,apparently just staring at the door on the far wall. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be three orcs with torn-up clothing who looked a lot like wights...OH CRAP!
- Since the wights were completely ignoring them, Melvin (coffee's new character) decided to try to hack off one of their heads. Thus was it also discovered that magic weapons were needed... Still, the orcish undead remained unmoved until anyone came within 10' of the door at which they were staring.
- A decision was made to set the wights on fire. Otto was directed to douse them in oil and light them. He (morale check) agreed, and was immediately grabbed by a howling, flaming wight and sucked dry of all his life force. A desperate battle ensued, wherein the party remembered they had some vials of holy water, which they used to good effect. Unfortunately Arp was also sucked dry of his single level, though Torren did get to prove his worth to Sol Invictus by saving the life of one of Nimfitz's hirelings. In the end, a band of five first level characters, along with a few hirelings, managed to kill three wights, with no magic or silver weapons, and only suffered two fatalities. Not too shabby!
- Upon leaving the dungeon with their two wight-slain comrades in order to ensure their quiet rest and stock up on silver daggers, Narpet found the local sorceress, named Jezebel. He successfully traded her Sneerglaw's skull for a (randomly rolled) scroll of Protection from Evil, definitely useful in this current dungeon. Thus did Sneerglaw prove himself a true companion, even from beyond the grave...
- Upon once again venturing into the depths, the party came near the moaning corridor again, only this time managed to hear conversation and footsteps. Dousing their lights and hiding in the dark, two armored figures marched out with six zombies in tow, muttering cryptically about how "these are the ones he wanted" and "we need to get back down right away." Followed by the brave Narpet, they went into the diamond room, through the southerly door, apparently another stairway leading down, down, down...
- They also discovered another large, chained coffin, much like the first which had released the ogrish wight. Amazingly, they decided to mess with it, albeit creatively. Thankfully, it was empty of all but wightish dust and a bit of treasure. Nimfitz, who wanted no part of the proceedings, staked out the nearby hallway and was able to alert the party to an approaching band of four berserkers. He and Narpet each charmed one, who then slew the other two. Thus did the Shieldbiter Brothers join our intrepid group for the foreseeable future...
Coffee and I had a discussion about why exactly we keep having such good sessions. He then went on to blog eloquently about it here, under the title "Ruminations". You should all go read it.
I'm leaving for Arizona tomorrow to burn myself several shades browner, carcinomas be damned. I'm not sure what sort of IntraWeb access I'll have, so if anyone leaves comments, I'll respond as soon as I can.