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Paranormalcy

My 21 Hour D&D Session

6 posts in this topic

Aug 31, 2004

"Tabletop" Role-Playing Games. Yes, some of my friends actually got the urge again and so we played, of all things on god's green earth, Dungeons and Dragons. It WAS the new 3.5 rules so we all decided to give it a go, plus the guy that was running it (I hate saying Dungeon Master) has like ten thousand old modules from old AD&D so it was hard to argue, though he bought the Stargate RPG but hasn't had time to put anything together for it (they don't DO modules for it) - it uses D20 rules anyway so plegh. I personally could run Call of Cthulhu if I had some modules or other material, and I would like to run Feng Shui, but they're rpg nazis and won't even try it. Now that I have tried the new D20 system, I can honestly say from EXPERIENCE that I STILL hate D&D and the d20 system sucks and is WAY too complicated.

The players were myself (31 years old), Dave (32) the DM, James (45) and James' two nephews Jake (14) and Cody (17).

Anyway, on with my story.

The group arrived at 6:30pm Saturday night and got started about 7:00pm. We all had to make characters, thats 4 of us. So about 11:00pm I think we managed to start playing...maybe. Even though it was 4 of us, still, I think thats way too long to make characters, especially for 3 experienced gamers (the other 2 were the nephews). But I digress, I'll express my hatred for TSR, D&D and D20 elsewhere.

Anyway, James made a female elven rogue. Jake and Cody made a female elven Cleric and a female elven Sorcerer (all sisters), I made a Dwarven Paladin and Dave DM'd. We decided I had nobly offered to journey with and look after the band of women to keep them out of harm's way, even though they were self-styled adventurers. Sure it was a cheap party cohesion clip but it worked.

We wandered around in a town we conveniently arrived in for a bit, hired a thief and a fighter to accompany us to a nearby town full of bad guys, and the next day promptly left an hour before we told them we were going, and went the OTHER way with a different NPC that we decided was offering a better deal. A wizard who wanted nothing but whatever scrolls we found. Being all first level characters and having a cleric who already had about the best cleric spells he could use, and a sorcerer who didn't use scrolls at all, we decided agreeing to this wizard's terms that he got all the scrolls from this wizard tower he was leading us to seemed like a no-brainer.

At the moathouse, we found it deserted and ruined and rotting. I waited til everyone else had cut down saplings and stripped them and tied them together with our pack straps to make a serviceable light bridge, then made them all shake their heads by charging and leaping onto the already open drawbridge (trying to span the 10' mote), but landed on the rotting wood and fell straight through to the bottom of the moat. Luckily there was only 5 feet of stagnant water in the moat and I was able to just climb forward and up into the moathouse door. Jumping seemed like a good idea at the time, what can I say?

Once inside, I began what became my traditional mantra of "check for unsafe construction, then for strange stonework, then detect evil". Basically it never worked but I got to train the DM to expect it. We entered a tower room where a giant spider dropped out of the ceiling and attempted to eat my face, while Cody, our mage, dragged silver coins out of the room one by one using the Mage Hand spell and presumed "man I got a lot of money". After his uncle let him in on the harsh reality of a "party loot", he was less inspired but contributed a little better to party endeavors. We dispatched the spider and I realized since I had the best armor and most Wounds, after the rogue checked doors for traps and picked locks, it was going to be mostly up to me to stand directly in the doorways and open them and take the brunt of whatever horrendous trap or monster happened to be on the other side, just so we could proceed through the game at as quick a pace as we could. This also marked the beginning of my "combat narcolepsy" episodes as I came to regard them, as our sorcerer would constantly cast sleep spells on enemies we were fighting, and since all elves are immune but dwarves are not, I was always making saving rolls against magic, from my OWN party, WHILE fighting monsters. This would be a recurring theme.

This worked most of the time until I decided I would take advantage of my size and dive through the door way and an Ogre's legs and let the rest of the party pepper him with arrows - well, he got a critical hit that took me immediately from 12 HP to -8. James argued and rule-book lawyered that the Ogre, whose weapon was a Glaive, couldn't POSSIBLY have struck me while rolling between his legs, because polearms can't be used in close range, to which the DM replied that if thats the case, it wouldn't possibly have been wielding a polearm and instead said it was a longsword, which required a new damage roll. Well, this time the damage would have killed me twice over so we reverted back to the old damage roll but the DM insisted the weapon was now a longsword, to which James snidely commented that after we kill the Ogre we wanted to look at this amazing shape-changing so-called Pole-Sword weapon. Heh.

Anyway, I was knocked through the thing's legs into his room but the other players killed it and restored me. So much for trying to do something cinematic and cool, back to hack and slash. I hate D20. In the Ogre's room was a door HEAVILY barred from OUR side, which we reasoned must have something BADASS mean in it if the OGRE barred the door - we vowed to not open it until we were much higher level. Turns out after we finished the module that was the larder and we let 6 people starve to death. Hindsight sucks.

So it went like this for hours and hours, and we would occasionally barricade ourselves in an empty room and camp and regain spells and health, and sometimes go back to town and resupply and sell things until finally we got 600 xp and broke for food about 1:30am. We got back and Dave just flat out GAVE us 400 more xp because "you're going to need to be Level 2 to finish the rest of this". Ominous? We knocked on the door of our friend the wizard, who didn't answer for three days. Talking the innkeep into opening the door up to our most deloved dear friend (yeah right), we found him on the bed, dead, with his own dagger buried in his chest, poison on the blade. Ruling out suicide (he was so very happy as we got closer to finding the scrolls he was wanting), we still couldn't (and can't) figure out how someone got into his room, took his dagger while he was asleep, poisoned it, and killed him, and left the room, locking it behind them. Oh well. We shrugged, talked the inkeep into letting us have all the wizard's stuff, and burned his body outside and went back to the caves, a few coins and gems and a wardrobe richer.

Ah, Green Slime how the old-school module writers loved thee. One dropped right by me, and from running a game for friends years back in school, I remembered that it dropped from the ceiling and landed on people's heads and began secreting acid that would eventually turn them into a slime - then the DM asks if anyone is looking up. Bad, bad situation. Always remember to immediately put your shield over your head. James, playing along, said he did and PLOP, green slime over the head. We spread oil on the floor and set it alight, killing one slime and then grabbed James' character and held him head first into the fire, doing him half damage each time but finally killing the slime but leaving his female elf bald and blackened and in a rather snippy mood for the supposedly carefree spirit he was supposed to be playing.

We came across groups of bandits, a giant tick, some orcs I think, a couple of other random things that we dispatched, and began to find storerooms of food and such, so we knew we were getting close. All the while we rested now and then to heal and regain spells and my combat narcolepsy episodes continued, though I always managed to save and stay awake. We found a room full of zombies that quite honestly were about to hand us our asses for the last time as we were all at low single digit hit points and the zombies just kept pouring into the room - the wizard we were questing with suddenly pulled out scrolls and zombies started bursting into sparks and being slammed into the ceiling. Oddly, we had detected magic on the party about 5 minutes before and no magic items were detected, so the DM obviously (and uncharacteristically) fudged in some rare items to save our bacon. The Cleric's Turn Undead ability failed all 4 times he used it, which was disheartening.

On our next foray deeper into the caves, we came across 9 gnolls who were close to our match, and in fact, one by one, felled all three of my companions (after I had yet another episode of combat narcolepsy), as they themselves felled gnolls, until when James dropped, it was down to one on one, me versus the remaining gnoll. Having a 17 armor class, I was fairly certain I could best the gnoll, and was right, though he did take a chunk out of me before he did so. I was lucky enough to find, among the loot the gnolls had, three healing potions, which I suspect the DM fudged again, since I had already used my Lay On Hands ability and so no one was going to heal if I wasn't able to get our cleric back to positive Hit Points (thank goodness I had managed to stop everyone's bleeding). I dragged three people, ten feet each time, about four corridors back to where we had holed up the day before, until we were all recovered again, and the clock on the wall told me it was 4:30am.

We found a tunnel leading out into bright blessed sunlight aboveground, miles from the moathouse, but giving us encouragement that we knew where escape was if it was necessary.

More bandits - combat narcolepsy hit me hard this time in the form of a roll of 3 on a D20 save against magic, as my eyes went from seeing the face of a grizzled miscreant, to the cold stone floor, to the back of my eyelids and blessed darkness. Next I knew I was being dragged to my feet and helped down the hall to our next encounter, stepping over piles of corpses of bandits who did not know with whom they had messed.

We opened a door that immediately smelled like a combination garbage pit and charnel house, with tattered rags and gnawed on bones littering the floor. We all looked at each other, looked at the corner ahead of us, and shook our heads and backed out, captioning this area "Antarctica - the place where no one with any sense goes, where you know you can't survive, where you know there's nothing useful, where there is only death", and stayed far away from it. We had only fought zombies so far and had had a lot of trouble - this was bound to be more powerful undead and it just wasn't going to be a priority unless we had no choice.

Finally I opened a door and three well armored bandit types stood there looking dazed, caught with their pants down, as it were (we managed to get the rare element of Surprise). I charged in and felled one, while the cleric's trusty bow took out the next, and the sorcerer dropped the third with a sleep spell - smooth as butter. We went on in but heard numerous heavy footsteps and crazy howls and battle cries coming around the corner.

Cautiously, we all backed up and spread oil all over the floor, while our rogue instead draped himself in the Cloak of Elvenkind (which gave him a whopping Hide base of 17, plus his 9 skill ranks - he was impossible to spot), and hid under a body as the next 3 bandits ran full tilt at us (not seeing him). As the brave warriors approached us, the cleric handed me the torch, which I nonchalantly dropped five feet in front of me, igniting the oil, which engulfed the surprised new arrivals in flames. Far in the back, we saw another bandit stick his head around the corner and gasp, horrified at our ruthless efficiency, and duck back out of sight.

Our rogue got up from the body under which he was hiding, and checked out what was going on around the corner. There was a bandit standing there, who looked up and saw the rogue looking at him, and, startled beyond belief that someone was standing right next to him, less than five feet away, turned a barrel of oil over and dropped the torch he was holding, in an act of pure desperation. Our rogue chuckled and chucked a flask of oil at the bandit's feet - the flask shattered and flame covered the bandit, the oil he had dumped over, and the barrel. Our rogue then dove onto the body of a still-sleeping bandit (the one the sorcerer had knocked out with his spell) and, with an exceptionally slick stone floor, "surfed" him all the way back to the rest of us, letting him take the damage from the flaming oil, before leaping to safety. We shut the door and went back up the outside corridor for a day or so, screams echoing down the hall as we departed.

We returned to the bandit corridor the next day fully healed and supplied, and looked at the still smouldering tar and stinking corpses. Realizing we couldn't just slog down the sticky corridor, and the rogue certainly couldn't sneak well, we scoured the previous areas of the dungeon for planks, loose stones and even barrels of dried meat and made a makeshift walkway across the tar, even taking doors off their hinges and arranging corpses like stepping stones, until we passed the tar-covered area of the corridor. The corridor lead about fifty feet back and ended in impenetrable blackness but also, from our judgment, a dead end room only twenty feet further back. We deduced there was a cleric that had cast Darkness and what remained of the bandit army was holed up behind the pitch black area, backs to the wall. Trusting his luck, our rogue had us tie a rope to him, which I, being the heaviest, tied to myself to anchor him - tugs on the rope meant we were to haul him out. He then infantry crawled into the darkness, crossbow drawn.

Although I felt no tugs, hearing "FIRE!" and arrows being loosed cause us to drag the rogue back out hastily. He reported a dozen archers posted at the back of the room, with a bandit leader watching for intruders. While we talked over hurling flaming flasks of oil into the darkness to just end the standoff easily, the enemy obviously realized that was exactly something we WOULD do, and called for Parlay. Cursing, the rogue admitted we had a Paladin in our group, when they asked - the bandits offered surrender . They wanted MY unconditional word that no harm would befall them if they dropped their weapons and armor and left the dungeon, leaving the jewelry they had amassed. Our party talked it over and agreed and over 15 defeated and frightened bandits filed out of the darkness and disappeared down the hallway, with the leader wordlessly handing us a large box full of sparkling jewelry.

We mentally high-fived each other and found out we basically just cleared out the entire dungeon and now owned it. Antarctica contined 4 ghouls and some treasure, which we're going to get after wiping out the undead, and one more room lead to a pool with a large monster in it, which we're probably just going to leave there. 4:30PM and the DM sat back in his chair and sighed and got out the DM guide to award experience and tell us there were also 2 Warhorses in the dungeon - ROCK!

Finally he looked up at us, frowned and said "Everybody gets 5,999 experience points". This was a LOT more than the 600 we got the first time. He said that was all we were able to absorb - we had played so much nonstop without enough break in between to level up that he basically wasn't able to give us around 15,000 experience points we earned - we just slaughtered the monsters and went on, wasting the XP. Heh. Oh well - when we start back, we're gonna be asskickers with our own dungeon!

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Wow. That seemed like fun. Post more D&D experinces here. I like ur dwarf.

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Sounds like a great time, but you got a bad signature. LITERALLY!

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Dungeoncrawls for Dummies, By Dummies - brought to you by D&D

===

Well we played D&D again, this time taking about two hours to help a new player, James2, who played with myself and Rob in Warhammer, roll up a dwarven barbarian. He's not terribly learned in role-playing etiquette (or patience or strategy) as can be seen, and is a couple of years older than I.

Note: This adventure (as well as the first) is part of the Temple of Elemental Evil so may contain spoilers

So there we were, the three elven sisters and the dwarven paladin, taking inventory of the dungeon we had recently captured. On one of my forays into daylight to make sure no more groups of bandits were around, a vaguely familiar figure could be seen waddling directly toward us. Finally he approached and I couldn't believe it. Noe, an old acquaintance from my own dwarven hometown - a wild-eyed, unpredictable barbarian with more nervous ticks than strands of hair (which was only three - they were long but he still only had three). He told us he had been lead to us by the barbarian gods of adventure - yeesh, thanks a lot, gods. After some discussion, we agreed he could stay a while and we'd see how things worked out, though from my own experience with him in the past, it was lucky he hadn't gotten himself killed yet.

So we packed up our tons of booty we had forced the bandit army to leave, over 50 spears, suits of armor, swords, shields (we kept about 10 of each weapon and armor so we could outfit a small militia if need be) - it was quite a haul and both warhorses even complained a bit under the immense weight, as we made our way to the nearby trading post and its unscrupulous proprieter, who owned a number of other buildings in the town of Hommlet. He gave us about 1/2 to 1/3 of what everything was worth but charged double or more for anything we bought, but we had little choice, as there were no other towns or merchants in the area (ie, this module). We decided to go to Nulb, since everyone in Hommlet was terrified of it and no one would even talk about it. The merchant had some pack horses, which we figured we could use to carry any more treasure we got and would be more cost efficient to leave tied up outside a dungeon, if bandits or a monster came along, rather than losing warhorses, so we bought two pack horses, at 60 gold each, got 20 minutes outside of town, and they stopped, refusing to move.

We went next to the Temple of Tyr (which had no available healing potions) to have a priest there identify a shield that we had found, which we knew was magic. 200 gold poorer, it was written down as "Shield +1". I was instructed to mark the entirety of this temple's inhabitants down, right under the trading post owner, as people that we would be back to kill mercilessly when we were of a sufficient level. We were kidding... probably.

The only person with Ride and Animal Handling, our dwarven barbarian colleague, was, unfortunately, near insane and had total disregard for his own manners and hygiene and had a -2 CHA modifier, and so failed his Animal Handling roll. His solution of course was to go around behind the horses and kick on in the butt, since thats the standard practice... One successful DM hit roll later for 4 points of damage from a horse's kick and the barbarian again tried Animal Handling and finally succeeded - it went this way for about 8 hours until we got to the ruined and crumbling town of Nulb, which my dwarven paladin detected evil in - I was almost knocked over with the sheer aura of malevolence in what seemed like every single person, from the beggers to the merchants. There were no obvious guards, officials or any obvious authority structure. Not a good sign.

We finally decided to go to the tavern and our sorceress actually managed to get some info about the Temple of Elemental Evil, which turned out to only be about an hour to the northwest. We rented rooms and the elven rogue and the dwarven barbarian and the elven cleric went to check out the horses in Nulb's stables and I am thankful I was not involved in what happened next.

"So," the barbarian said as he leaned close to the weaponsmith/stablemaster, "What you're going to do is hand over three of your horses to us quietly and no tricks... or you're going down." The rogue, who had been instructed to hide in the back of the stables and "get ready", stared, open-mouthed, as she realized what was about to take place. A few deft glints of steel later, the barbarian warrior was pierced and slashed and awash in blood, but made one attempt, his last earthly act, to strike the 10th level retired ranger/smith/stablemaster, and missed. "Graaaaaghhhh...." the barbarian trailed off weakly and hit the ground with a very final thump, as the rogue shook her head and slipped quietly away, followed by the cleric who backed away, stunned, and finally turned and ran back to the hostel. The smith sighed, stripped the barbarian of his chainmail and greatax and hung them up on the wall as a warning to other thieves, and simply rolled the body off into a ditch inside the stables and covered it in hay, and returned to his work indifferently.

The barbarian's player leaned back in satisfaction and said, "FINALLY! Some action! God, I thought we were NEVER going to do anything! I can go get the pizza now." We all shook our heads, absolutely at a loss for words, after he left. I admit, it does take a long time for this group to do anything, especially considering this is a dungeon crawl, and Warhammer did go a lot quicker, but to me, this "must have action NOW" mindset was just baffling. The DM shoulders a lot of blame for the excessively drawn out adherence to the module and requiring the players to check out EVERY 10 foot section, instead of lumping an area together and basically giving us one or two particular events or encounters and cutting to the chase, which would improve both time and activity - the original James bears some responsibility, as he is overly analytical, rulebook lawyers the DM out of some actions, or will spend time negotiating with the rest of us on a course of action, or will choose one and act disheartened if we don't agree, or alternately, will in a sort-of-mock deafeatist way, complain that he is always outvoted if someone else makes a decision - we all have our share of blame, of course.

We went back to our dungeon, left the worthless pack horses there (deciding we could eat them if need be, at least they'd serve a purpose) and got a warhorse to use as our loot wagon, presuming we survived the temple. We went back and camped on the outskirts of Nulb and when we woke up in the morning (even though we took watches - I still don't understand how this happened), a scroll had been left in the middle of the camp, with a truly BAD pseudo-mystical poetic riddle on it - a LONG one too. Eugh. What nefarious and powerful entity would creep up on a sleeping band of good warriors and do something so insidious as to leave bad poetry in their midst - truly, evil was already afoot! So something about boxes and a key and a gold orb, yeah yeah ok, on to the temple.

We went over the temple grounds; lots and lots of weeds and a few dead birds. We opened the door to an outlying tower... I took 9 arrows and crossbow bolts to the chest - thank Moridin for plate mail. at least 25 archers, infantrymen and commanders were gathered all around the inside of the tower. Hmmm. In a not altogether unexpected response by now, the rogue started digging out flasks of oil. This time though, she cleverly threw them at the ceiling, while the rest of us threw them at the floor, and our sorcerer used Burning Hands to set the ceiling aflame, which dropped down and did the same to the floor, while I took about 4 more shots to the chest, even feeling a couple this time. Moments later, the entire room was engulfed in flame and the screams of the burning soldiers told us it would only be a short time before we could pursue the handful that disappeared into a back room.

There were two rooms, both with iron-bound chests in them, and one of the rooms had a trap door which the remaining commanders obviously escaped into. Here is where the next insane episode happened - I swear this night was just under the influence of a full moon or something.

Foxglove, the rogue, went all over the first chest, looking for traps, picking the lock on the chest and instructed everyone to back out of the room, in case something happened. For some unknown reason, her sister, the sorceress, refused, and insisted she stand right next to her when she opened the chest - I guess she didn't trust her. Fox remedied this by using surprise and knocking her sister out the door and locking it behind her, which of course made the sorceress livid, as she just KNEW the rogue was in there stealing everything that wasn't nailed down. The rogue came out whistling and when asked what was in the chest, said "oh, a few gold pieces, nothing really".

This was James trying to get his nephew to realize they were playing sisters and shouldn't be so untrusting, even if one is a rogue, and that role-playing is supposed to be a team effort. This happened again with the next room and the cleric (the other nephew) sided with his brother and were both upset when I was taken into the room with the rogue and we locked the door, leaving the other two outside. The rogue STILL gave me all the treasure out of both chests to put into our treasury, since I was keeping track of it, and we will split it between all the members, just like always, regardless of how paranoid the sorceress is.

Anyway, the two youngins decided they'd just head off on their own if we "are gonna be stupid" and used a rope to tie our door to a torch bracket on the wall outside, locking us in. About 20 minutes later, they start pounding on the stone wall from the other side and yelling, but our characters can't hear any of it, so we check the door again and still can't get it open without breaking it, so we decide to camp and rest and shoot the breeze, yelling back "Heeelp, we can't get out! Someone has locked us in this room!" Meanwhile, dozens of giant rats pour into the hallway (wandering monster rolls each hour), forcing the sorceress and the cleric to barricade themselves in the other room. Hours and hours later, the sorceress has opened the door a few times and used Burning Hands to fry about 30 rats and sleep some more, some got in and the two kids had to fight them and the cleric is now almost out of healing spells. Finally the rogue and I decide we're ready to leave the room, and cut small holes in the door to see outside and fire arrows through the holes at the rats, eventually killing all the ones milling around. The rogue also sees the rope and cuts it easily, which frees us. The injured, exhausted sorceress and cleric come dragging out of their door around the corner and find us leaning against the wall, knee deep in dead rats, without a scratch on us. Turns out, it was all just zany sibling antics and hijinx, says the sorceress to her sister rogue. "I trust you, of course. I apologize for doing what I did and not trusting you, I trust you from now on. I just want you to apologize for knocking me out of the room."

The amount of sighs and "erghs" and hysterical laughter that the rest of us emitted during this last session was more than I think I've ever heard in a session lasting only a few hours, but the sorceress player would keep saying he trusted his uncle, the rogue, then would insist she reveal all the items she had on her, and apologize. Then would say it was dropped. Then would bring it up again and becry "everyone is always against me". Any one pity party like that is usually enough to end the game for the rest of us usually, but for some reason I guess WE were affected by whatever weird influence was in play that night, as we all persevered and continued play, even with the other players yelling and getting upset.

We finally fought a few rats and such but it was well into the early hours of the morning, about 1AM, and really had accomplished little to no progress. Still, it was SOME progress, which was more than we had had, sadly. We got back to our dungeon, the moathouse, and found our worthless pack animals dead, not of disease, just poor health and age apparently. The two warhorses were fine, thankfully. The trading post owner is quickly climbing to the top of the charts on our "to be dealt with later" list.

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Dungeoncrawls for Dummies, By Dummies - brought to you by D&D

===

Back at the temple, we attempted to enter the front doors and found that some of us (who failed our saves vs magic) could not enter them, though they did not radiate evil. Obviously, a crusading army of good, had, at an earlier time, laid waste to the temple and tried to cleanse the evil from it, as we found more runes and protected doors which some of us were unable to enter, warding people away from the temple. We resourcefully entered a side door and explored the temple itself, which was huge and blashphemous, with blood basins, crystal knives and ugly disease colored columns and such. We discovered the main altar at the far end of the temple, a throne sitting on alternative polished flagstones of red, green, brown and white, which corrosponded to a few intact robes we had found earlier in other rooms in the temple. After what seemed like 4 hours of trying on robes and standing on different colored stones around the throne, we decided the robes had nothing to do with the stones, to which the DM laughed and replied, "Yep, that's right. Not a thing. I just wanted to see how long you all would do that." Stupid DM. You'd think HE would want the game to go a little quicker too.

Next, outside, we went down a set of stairs in what we referred to as the "Lemon Building", an outlying building on the temple grounds that the DM drew on the map in what he claimed was a square shape but which was quite obviously a perfect lemon. It lead down into a cellar with a couple of chests with some vaguely valuable items and coinage, and contained a 3 foot passage into another lower level. The bald rogue, ever the brave soul, shimmied down the passage, since she was the lightest, with me anchoring her with a silk rope. A scream later and I yanked her backward up and out of the hole as over a dozen giant rats poured into our room. A short time later, rats littering the floor, the sorceress volunteered to enter the hole. Scream, yank, rats, kill. We did this about 4 times, having dispatched, according to the DM, 48 rats, until the passage and wherever it went was apparently empty. Bravely, the rogue shimmied down the hole one more time and gave us the all clear. Yet ANOTHER chest containing a gem or two and some coins, as well as a few barrels of water and wine were all that could be found in this room. No secret doors, no other exits.

I looked at the map the DM had started, and realized it was to take up the entire piece of graph paper, and we had so far explored about 1/8 of it. It was at this point that I again wondered aloud "who the HELL would spend this kind of time building dungeons like this?! And how can anything else survive down here with all the other things running around? And why were there 50 rats in a 20x20 room that had nothing but scraps of cloth and barrels of wine?

Another room in and it was FULL of ghouls and the more intelligent undead, ghasts. Our cleric stepped up and turned a number of undead, yet more filed in from a back room, as the turned undead filed out. We fought our way into the room, the cleric turning every so often, until finally we had chased the remaining undead into a third room, just as the turning began to wear off. We waded in and laid waste to the aberrations, some of us taking serious damage, but finally vanquishing them. In this room we also found a number of people chained up, all having signs of having been bruised and injured. Happily, most of them were former men-at-arms, plus a sailor, who had hit on the wrong barmaid back in Nulb, and been taken here and given to ghouls by a powerful person - the others were people taken from rural areas near Nulb and some merchants and the like. A little negotiation and the men-at-arms and sailor agreed to become our retinue back at the moathouse.

Further in, we found a hallway with jail cells on both sides. Three of the six rooms were occupied by three bedraggled figures each huddled in groups, and made no motion when we yelled at them and tried to get their attention, so we decided to leave them there until we had made sure the immediate area was safe. The last room contained a bound and gagged gnome, who struggled and yelled behind his gag as he saw us look in the door. I instructed the rogue to unlock the door and I strode in, ready for a trap, but there was none. We talked to the gnome a moment to make sure he was not obviously a miscreant or some such, but he replied he was an adventurer out for loot. I asked him, "You actually went into the dungeons beneath the temple of evil, by yourself?!". He looked at me and said, "Well, obviously I wasn't as good as I thought I was, but yeah." We freed him and gave him a shortsword we had picked up earlier and at some point, after hearing his tales of previous adventures, we realized he would make a terrific addition to our party, so he was cut in for a share of the coins we found, but not any items, unless we gave them to him.

We went on and the gnome, whose name was something like Willowillam, which was too hard to remember so we called him Steve, identified the torture chamber, and told us the torturer and his bugbear assistant was in there. With little ceremony, the rogue picked the lock, raised her crossbow and planted a bolt in the torturer's back, after which the surprised and wounded torturer turned as I charged in and opened up his chest with my longsword. As he collapsed, his bugbear assistant was getting his wits about him but took a crossbow bolt and an arrow from the sorceress and cleric in the doorway, and then was dropped by the gnome, who obviously had a score to settle. No questions asked, no quarter, we just wiped these two out, with no compunction. My Paladin truly felt alive at that point, having done in two malevolent beings undoubtedly responsible for great amounts of suffering. Checking out the room, we found an exhausted and injured man on the rack, whom we healed, and two women who had not yet been tortured, as well as two manacled orcs. We freed the man on the rack (another man at arms) and the women and gave them clothing and food and water (which the gnome and other men-at-arms involved themselves in, since we had forgotten to do that), and then myself and the cleric healed everyone. The rest of the party debated what to do with the manacled orcs, who of course promised to be the best and most loyal members of the party. I flatly refused to allow the orcs to go with us and said there were only two things that would happen before we left this chamber - we would kill the orcs outright or we would leave them manacled here, to die - there was no compromise and no exception. Wanting cannond fodder and living shields, the other party members tried to sway me but my honor and hatred for evil was a stone wall and we continued on, leaving the orcs growling pitifully from their eventual tomb.

As we emerged from the dungeons, a crossbow bolt screamed out of the darkness and plunged into one of the women's chest, killing her instantly - the assassin was obviously aiming for any of us but she was unlucky enough to take the hit. We all dived back behind the ruins of the temple as our rogue scanned the area, but found nothing. Finally we resumed our trek, more wary.

Knowing we needed to get these people back to their families, we left the temple. Back at Hommlet, I and the sorceress decided we'd accompany the two women back to their rural homes outside of town while everyone else took the others back to town. A few miles out, *THUNK!!!* A poison crossbow bolt took me to half my hitpoints in one shot, a critical hit, though luckily my sturdy dwarven constitution saved against the full effects of the poison. We dove off to the sides of the road and the sorceress managed to spot where the attacker, 50 yards off, was firing from, and retured bowfire and finally I was able to do the same, but even with a high roll, missed. Knowing we couldn't run or stay here forever, I did the only thing I could and charged the position at full speed, which, with plate armor, was a lousy 40 feet per round. The sorceress, surprisingly did the same, in a desperation effort and we saw the assassin far off, whose entire form was shadowy and hard to see, drop something, then pick it back up and almost become invisible. We could tell, however, that he was running away from us, his position having been made. We took this opportunity to grab the two women, one being dead, and run back to town. We now find out that overnight, literally, Hommlet, which we had been told had only a few buildings, was a bustling metropolist filled with merchants, jewellers, crafters, smiths, artisans and more - the DM had apparently missed an entire section in the module describing Hommlet. We all groaned but were thankful it was now a more fleshed out town.

In Hommlet, the sorceress and I recovered from our ordeal, with the cleric healing me. In the morning, complimentary breakfast was delivered to our room, as was usual for this nice inn, and all but the sorceress and the gnome ate, then went downstairs. About an hour later, I and everyone else was outside trying to puke up whatever poison the food had been laced with, the save roll being astronomically high, meaning the poison was lethally potent. Happily, the rest of our party got us to the temple of Tyr, who managed to purify the poison in our systems, and we of course heaped money on them and I gave them a suitable Paladin pledge to perform a service for them for their kindness. We searched low and high for how this happened and it turns out a new deliveryboy had delivered something to the kitchen that morning. We tracked down the real deliveryboy who said someone gave him 5 gold to let him do the delivery - we circulated the description around town later and only the trading post owner knew it offhand. I promised the deliveryboy 5 gold for any useful information he would hear in the future, and we'll see how that goes.

We hired 20 laborers and resupplied, so we could start fixing up the moathouse and dungeons to have a sturdy, stable base of operations out of which we could operate. We were told this would likely eliminate the chance that our moathouse would remain fairly unknown, if everyone in town is talking about the band of adventurers who were fixing up a giant moathouse in the woods, and we simply welcomed the idea, since we could use more workers. We decided to brick up "Antarctica" because we had checked it out again and found that the ghouls had disappeared and there was a gaping open tunnel that lead off into thousands of unmappable warrens. Not good.

Back in town, we visited the trading post owner, whose name was on an assassin list we had found, and spooked him so badly that he closed up shop. We took up watch outside his building and saw a rider, presumably from Nulb, deliver a note under the door of the post, and ride back out. My Paladin ability told me the rider was evil, but we don't know what the note said yet. Probably a threat because of his crappy prices - made me want to slip my own note under the door.

On our way back to the moathouse, we noticed we were being followed. The rogue hung back while we went on, drawing our pursuer, who was apparently not very stealthy. The rogue leaped out of her hiding place and swung at the thief whom we had almost hired at the beginning of the game, but he dodged and ran away, outdistancing even the elven rogue, who shrugged and took him down from a distance with a bow, since he didn't want to do it the easy way. We took the presumed thief, bleeding and injured, back to the moathouse, blindfolded, and interrogated him. He was just following us around looking for gold. While true, I detected a tinge of evil and so didn't like him. After much debate and interrogation, it was decided he would be our new point man in the dungeons. While he attempted to talk us into giving him shares and an equal shake, I bluntly told him he and I would be tied together and he would do what we said or I myself would rid the world of one more evil soul. If he wasn't interested in this generous offer, I'd cut out the dungeon trek and end his time now. Wisely, he agreed that adventuring would be fun. While that sounds like an interesting little side note, this episode of him following us and us finally leaving the moathouse after deciding what to do with him took over 6 hours. You can see how the game drags here and there.

Back in the catacombs beneath the temple of elemental evil, I tried out my new yo-yo, and slung the thief forward and around corners and into rooms, and pulled him back. Sadly, he always came back safe, so I cuffed him on the back of the head every now and then just to keep things in perspective for him. Finally we had him check for traps on a door, and when he gave us the all clear, told him to open it, which he apparently was unable to. I decided we'd stand him directly in front of the door as bait and I'd fling the door open and we'd all use bowfire on whatever was in there. Well, we did this but the room was empty, but we could hear noises coming from another door in that room. We overturned tables for cover and prepared to rain arrows into the other room. I had the thief open the door and jump aside. Unfortunately, the DM's vicious hatred of our earlier reliance on oil now came back (as we knew it would, since he told us he would break us of using oil), as a roomfull of gnolls readied flaming oil. I was able to act quickly enough to shut the door, but the next round, someone on their side opened it and in came the flaming oil, coating most of the party and the tables. Myself, the gnome and the thief were the only ones out of range - the cleric began casting Create Water and dropped a downpour of 8 gallons of water to douse everyone - clever.

James at this point alternated between rules lawyering and subtly warning the DM that the gnolls were going to easily win this fight, as he lost 24 points of his 28 hit points from the initial splash, and there were at least a dozen gnolls in the other room. To all of our surprise, the thief leapt into the room, unarmed, and pounced on a gnoll, followed by the gnome who zipped past me. Not about to be outdone, and also sensing this was perhaps the DM's urging of the only way we'd stand a chance, my Paladin also charged into the fray, laying about him with his longsword, felling gnolls with each hit. James' rogue tumbled into the room with an incredible 27 armor class, and all the way through the room to the back where a surprised hobgoblin commander was trying to keep his troops together. A brief melee, puncuated with a few opportune arrows and spells from the sorceress and cleric, and we had devastated the roomfull of gnolls, and began looting their corpses and gathering up what weapons and armor they had in this room, and headed back to the moathouse, which we really need to name. Thus ends our story for this update.

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You really thought the D20 system was too complicated...i tried to play a few 2E games but i never got into the Game until 3E which i picked up on a whime and learned over a week how to play.

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