Castles & Crusades Diary: Barrowmaze, Session 69

Summary:

The showdown with the Barrowmaze Gargloyles, a bottomless pit, treasure, and artifact.

PC’s:
Llewelyn, Elf Cleric 6/Wizard 5 of Sehanine Moonbow
Gorgat, Half-Orc Barbarian 5 of Haephestus
Edward, Human Bard 2 of St. Cecilia
Rosaline, Half Elf (Elfin Heritage) Druid 6 of The Daghda
Zen, Human Monk 5 of St. Agathos
Balthazar, Elf (Mongrelman) Wizard 6 of Arcanus
Wright Dawnbreaker, Human Paladin 1 of St. Luther

NPC:
Inaros, Human Cleric of Osiris
Dhekeon “the Disgraced,” fallen skeletal paladin of St. Justus (seeking redemption)

Gargoyle art from Dungeons & Dragons 5E Monster Manual

Preliminary statement:
Before I get to this diary, I should explain why there is such a delay from the previous blog post. The reason is that not long after our previous game session I had a great fall and broke my right arm. The result of that break meant that I spent several days in hospital with my arm in a splint and then eventually had surgery. I then spent the following week dealing with the post operation pain and the adjustment resulting from the surgery. Since I’m right-handed, I have been spending a substantial amount of time adjusting to using my left hand, which doesn’t work well for typing, mouse use, and, well, pretty much everything! (when I fell I landed hard on my arms and knees, so they are all bruised as well). When you include the pain medication I was taking, everything was a bit of a haze for awhile and required adjustment. For this diary entry I am voicing it into Word using their Dictate function and then copying and pasting it into WordPress when I am finished. I must say this is an interesting way of doing things and will take some adjusting (although I suspect once I finally figure out how to do this I’ll be able to use my right arm again!).

Game Diary:
When we left off last time the group had arrived at two double doors where they knew the gargoyle throne room was located. The group prepared to enter knowing that there was going to be the gargoyle leader Zygstral and a good number of gargoyles under his command. The battle was going to be furious! Just as the players were about to prep their spellcaster’s spells they heard a noise behind them. There was a door behind them facing north, and the door began to open. Looking inside they saw several humans, a dwarf and a hobbit beaten up, bruised, bloodied, and in loincloths and nothing else. It was clear they had been taken by the gargoyles, shackled up, kept mostly unfed and beat up for at least a week. They were malnourished and in bad shape. Yet they had somehow managed to break free of their shackles and while the two humans, dwarf and hobbit were wrestling with their gargoyle captor, the bearded and older male – clearly a wizard – had opened the door, saw the adventurers, and asked for their help. The players jumped into action swarming into the room and rather effortlessly killed the lone gargoyle. The wizard said his name was Wendyl and was most gracious to the characters. He promised to help the group if they could heal him and his companions up. Rosaline gave them all goodberries, this gave them the nourishment that they needed from the last week and some marginal hit points. The clerics then stepped in and healed most of them up to where they needed to be. By this point this group of adventurers went to the back of their room, picked up their belongings (which included weapons, armor, and a spelt component pouch for the wizard), and then looked at the adventures and said “let’s finish these gargoyles off!”

The Army of the Light, entering this adventure with nine members and two NPC’s, now acquired five more in support, making them more confident. Although they were also a bit cautious for Wendyl reached inside his component pouch, pulled out and rubbed a piece of charcoal in anticipation for something, and the wizards in the Army of the Light knew that Wendyl was prepping himself to cast fireball! With this new expanded Army of the Light, they opened the double doors.

They looked south into room before them, it was 30 feet wide and 60 feet long. Within, they saw Zygstral on the far southern end hovering above a throne. To his left and right were two gargoyle spellcasters, in front of the two spellcasters two 4 armed gargoyles, and in front of them a wall of eight normal gargoyles. Llewelyn immediately cast obscuring mist. This gave the group a place to go in and out of and not get targeted by spellcasters or ranged attacks. This has been a tactic the group has used before, and they have become comfortable with it. With this tactical choice setup, the warriors entered the mist and prepared themselves. Dhekeon and was the first to charge forward, summoning his undead fear aura which he has only used once before (as far as the group is aware), the effect of his fear put the eight gargoyles up front into a pattern of shaking cowardice rendering them ineffective in combat. With the normal gargoyles now largely out of action the lower-level members of the group could go and take care of them one by one with greater confidence, meanwhile the higher-level characters came in and the spellcaster started launching acid arrows and magic missiles from their hands. They soon discovered however that Zygstral had some form of protective globe around him which absorbed all the magic. Belthazar knew something had to be done and cast dispel magic on the sphere, it worked! The globe was dispelled! Dhekeon and at this point went forth in the combat to fight a forearm gargoyle but it tore off one of his arms with just one arm he managed to get it into a grapple keeping it at Bay quite a feat from the undead fallen paladin seeking redemption. One of the spell casting gargoyles now cast I haste spell on Zygstral troll he rose into the air his wings beating more quickly and his arms moving about with greater speed. The group knew that a normal gargoyle was going to do at least four attacks around with haste he was now going to get eight attacks in a round he shot down to Roulf an with eight attacks he only managed to get two attacks in successfully, I was very disappointed, although Roulf felt a great sense of relief! By this point Wendell and his group had emerged from the fog, he looked up above the fog to the 40-foot-high ceiling above and there saw Xxaxik and his four gargoyles (which had originally recruited the army of the light to assist in destroying his Zygstral so he could take command). But Wendell never agreed to this arrangement, he simply wanted all the gargoyles dead. It was at this point he handled his charcoal, voiced his wizardly chants, and launched a fireball directly towards the ceiling. All of Xxaxik’s gargoyle minions fell to the ground a pile of stone debris (along with parts of the ceiling). Xxaxik barely survived and managed some brief attacks but within a round he was also destroyed. Wendyl’s two human warriors, the dwarven warrior, and his Hobbit rogue, all went in and took care of the eight frightened gargoyle soldiers.

This battle was going much more successfully than I had ever envisioned! The high-level warriors and spellcasters could now focus exclusively on Zygstral, the two spellcasters, and the two four armed gargoyles (one of which was in a grapple with Dhekeon). The gargoyles remaining were now clearly outnumbered and outclassed. One of the gargoyle spellcasters cast haste on herself, but Balthazar was again ready with another dispel magic and soon she went down in battle.

Now it was time to seek out the treasure, for Xxaxik had made it clear there was treasure to be found. They found a secret door which led to a 10-foot passage to a dead end, but observant people discovered there was another secret door and they open that. Inside they found a room, roughly 40 by 20 feet, in the north corner they saw a chest, silver coffers a German crusted chalice and ivory statuettes. The first rank of the army of the light stepped into the room to collect the treasure which they so deservedly acquired. As they stepped forward the ground quaked and they had to make dexterity saving throws. All succeeded except for rosaline the druid, she like the ground beneath her, collapsed into a pit. One quick witted wizard cast feather fall on her descent slowed. Ralph threw a rope to her which she was able to grab. The group could now see the floor continuing to collapse into darkness, never hitting the bottom – it was a bottomless pit!

Once Roseline had been pulled back into the corridor the group saw they had a 5-foot ledge from their secret door a large empty space of nearly 20 by 40 foot and the treasure on a small strip oh ground now merely a shelf with a pit that went Into Darkness with no bottom. Llewelyn put on his slippers a spider climbing and climbed the walls of the room to the ledge where the treasure was on the other side, he had detect magic cast allowing him to assess the different items. Choosing carefully, he one by one took statuettes and coffers and a box back to the group. When he got to the final chest, however, it attacked him space- space it was a mimic! We rolled initiative between me and Llewelyn he managed to cast levitate on the map mimic, he was now prepared, if he had to, to push it into the open pit and then someone could cast dispel magic and it would fall forever. However, from the other side other group members fired their ranged weapons and the mimic was dispatched quite quickly. Again, I was surprised by the profound survivability of this group.

In the end when all was counted, they had thousands of gold pieces of new treasure coins and gems and jewelry. Kira who had the gauntlets of Palantas now had acquired their Rerebrace of Palantas. Another person acquired a powerful battle axe that Zygstral had possessed. And there were two very unique spellbooks, one of which had a displacer beast hide as its cover allowing it to change its appearance in a chameleon like fashion. So many amazing things happened in this adventure! With a bottomless pit, more than two dozen gargoyles with four to 8 attacks per round, spell casting gargoyles that could launch lightning bolts, this was a battle where I expected there to be at least a few casualties within the group, and yet this group plowed through this due to great creative and tactical thinking which led them to great success. A lot of experience points will be coming to these adventurers. Once I can return to using my arm and can write things down, we can resume gaming. For most of their exploration within the Barrowmaze they have explored many isolated areas, but they might have noticed they are now entering more clearly defined areas, with greater and more profound challenges. If this gargoyle section is any indication, however, this group could potentially plow through the new areas and rack up the experience points and magic items they need to make themselves even more invincible! Or will the dungeon get the better of them?