Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Forge of Fury #2: Bloody Stirges!

Our heroes for The Forge of Fury include:
  • Raven Flare, female tiefling rogue 3 (assassin, urchin)
  • Kalitni, female human ranger 3 (beast master, hermit) with Daikitsu, wolf companion
  • Xuri, female blue dragonborn sorcerer 3 (wild magic, sage)
  • Sir Dain (NPC/guest-PC), male hill dwarf paladin 3 (oath of devotion, knight)
  • Erky Timbers (DM-run NPC), male forest gnome cleric 3 (life domain, acolyte)

(Warning: Spoilers for The Forge of Fury follow.) 

Last time, the heroes located the hill known as the Stone Tooth, where they believed the lost dwarven stronghold of Khundrukar was located. They found an entrance and fought their way inside, through a large force of orcs led by Great Ulfe, a ogre. After slaying all the forces mustered against their intrusion, they freed a couple of local villagers captured by the orcs, and holed up in an empty barracks room to rest and recover from their wounds. This room also had a secret passage that the orcs had not found, which made it a convenient place to cache treasure, as well as a way out that avoided crossing the rope bridge.

After their rest, the heroes led the rescued prisoners, Geradil and Courana, out of the dungeon to where Sir Dain's retainers were encamped, awaited their master's return. The paladin instructed his followers to take the two villagers home, while he and the other heroes stayed here to continue clearing out the dungeon.

The party returned to the barracks room, then slowly made their way back through the other orc chambers. Previously, they had heard growling behind a large ironbound door. Raven heard movement there still, so Dain opened the door. Inside were two dire wolves, who were hungry after being left alone for some time. The heroes slew the wolves, then searched the room, which reeked of wolf and ogre. They found two chests with coins, a potion, and a well-made rapier. They carried this treasure the short distance back to the barracks in order to count it and study the items: a potion of climbing and a +1 rapier. Raven gladly took the rapier to replace her nonmagical blade.

The PCs returned to the level's central chamber, where the orcs kept the loot from their raids: a stockpile of food, ale, building supplies, etc. None seemed worth the effort of moving at this time, so the heroes merely searched for passages they had not seen before. They found the orcs' crude kitchen, which proved to be at the bottom of the natural chimney they had discovered when searching the hilltop earlier. The rogue also found a secret door leading out of an apparent dead-end. Beyond this was a short passage to another secret door covered in Orcish writing and symbols--obviously a warning of some kind, but none of the party could read the language.

Beyond that door, they encountered three female orcs, one of which was the Eye of Gruumsh that they had been warned about by the prisoners. The priestess failed to command the dwarf paladin. Raven's blade, Xuri's twinned witch bolt, and Kalitni's arrows made short work of the orcs. [Kalitni used her Sharpshooter feat to do extra damage twice, which quickly dropped the Eye.] The party then collected the orcs' ears for collecting bounties, and looted the room.

The priestess's room also had a door to the north, which was locked, but the key was in the door. The rogue heard the faint, distant sounds of running water and a strange buzzing. The party opened the door, finding a long, high-ceiling chamber decorated with carvings of dwarves at their forges, and a deep natural rift in the center. As the heroes passed through the chamber, they learned the source of the buzzing, as four stirges flew up out of the rift to attack. The PCs quickly slew the flying pests, before any of them managed to hit their prey.

Near the far end of the room was an iron gate, beyond which was a blocked passage (which they had seen from the other side when searching the hoard cave). The long chamber ended in a door carved to resemble a glowering dwarf's face. A few severely scorched orc skeletons were scattered nearby, and Raven and Kalitni's examination of the wall revealed secret spouts that were certainly some kind of trap. Dain gave the rogue a boost up to those holes, and the tiefling used her thieves' tools to disarm the trap. The party then opened the door, finding a small room with little in it other than the mechanisms for the trap--which sprayed some kind of liquid from a reservoir--and a counterweight to close the door after someone entered. They noticed the latter in time to use a piton to wedge the door open. The ranger guessed that it would be possible to extract whatever was left of the trap's fluids, but the party decided to not take any risks with trying that at this time.

The party had one more room to check before exploring the stairs that descended into the rift. That room proved to be another bunk room, so after they searched it thoroughly, they returned to the rift room and followed the stairs down into the fissure.

The tunnel narrowed as it sloped steeply downward some distance, but the floor had numerous cut into the rock. The passage branched after a while, with a shallow rivulet of water crossing the main tunnel and following the side passage downward. The flowing water covered most of the side path's floor, so the party crossed it and continued down the drier way. This soon opened into a large natural cave with a high ceiling. The path followed the north wall of the room down to the floor below, where a slightly larger stream (perhaps the same one?) crossed the space. As the heroes descended this stairway, they drew the attention of more stirges. This time, the little monsters had better luck, with two attaching to Dain and one to Kalitni, draining their blood. The paladin and ranger each killed a stirge, and Xuri poison sprayed the last one. They descended to the bottom of the stairs, and Erky uttered a prayer of healing to restore his friends.

The group then searched the chamber, finding little of note except three exits to the east. The northernmost of these was the source of the stream, and after some exploration up that wet passage, it proved to be the same stream they had crossed above. About halfway up that tunnel was a small side cave, where the party found a half dozen sleeping stirges. Before the monsters could wake fully and attack, Xuri obliterated them with a thunderwave. (This spell is extremely noisy, but she deemed it worth the risk to eliminate this threat.) Inside the cave was the dessicated corpse of a dwarf, who they guessed must have belonged to one of the past expeditions to seek Khundrukar. The body bore a pouch with some coins, but nothing else of worth. Their curiosity satisfied, the party returned to the room below. However, Kalitni slipped and fell hard going down the steep and slick tunnel, and required some first aid.

The heroes next turned to the nearest of other two eastern exits, and came to another large natural chamber. Two reptilian humanoids lurked here, but the party noticed them despite their camouflaged colored. One attacked Dain, sorely wounding the paladin with both claws and its bite, while the other opened a wooden gate on the far side of the room. Raven dashed around the nearest reptile-person, and delivered a deadly sneak attack. However, this left the tiefling closest to the gate when a brown bear charged out and attacked. It mauled her, but then Kalitni cast animal friendship and worked to calm the beast. The other scaly humanoid ducked into a nearby tunnel, and Raven pursued, but was unable to find it again. Only Kalitni noticed when the chameleon-like reptile scurried down a different exit, to the south, a moment later. Meanwhile, Erky examined the dead one and claimed that it must be a troglodyte--it certainly smelled foul enough to be one. [The troglodyte was killed so quickly that none of the party had to make a save for being adjacent to it at the start of their turn.]

Dain noticed a slight draft from the north, and informed the others that the tunnel on that side must lead outside. Once the bear was pacified, Kalitini persuaded it to take that path to freedom, which it gratefully did. There was no sign of any other danger coming their way, so the party took a short rest to tend their wounds before proceeding.


Here are some close-up photos of the minis from this session:

Dire wolves [LOTR wargs]

Front: Eye of Gruumsh [Castle troll head, Wicked Witch body, LOTR Uruk-Hai shield];
Rear: orc minions [L: Star Wars Gamorrean Guard, R: Castle troll]

Troglodytes [L: Minifigures Lizard Suit Guy; R: Star Wars Bossk head,
Castle forester body] and brown bear [Arctic polar bear]

Tales from the Yawning Portal: Past Columns

The Sunless Citadel

#1: Down into the Ground
#2: Lost Dragon
#3: Through the Dragon Door
#4: Goblin Boss Battle
#5: Through Pallid Gardens
Campaign Update
#6: Belak, at Last

The Forge of Fury

#1: Orc Gruel

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