As you may recall, 2 weeks ago our game was right in the middle of some pretty epic stuff; we had fought our way past the exterior guards of Rumpelstiltskin’s childhood home that was now inhabited by one (at least) of his sisters plus who knows what else lay within alongside her/them.
We solved the riddle of how to open the gate, as door doesn’t impress as much as the word gate does, into the inner sanctum where we could see one of the witch-hags plus a horde of minotaurs, one massive minotaur and one really massive wolf whom you might say was big and bad.
Way in the back hovering above what can be described as an abyss was one of Rumple’s sisters in all her horrible glory watching and waiting in anticipation for the spectacle we were about to participate in, hopefully ending in our demise.
Let me step back here a bit and describe what the place looked like since it was not like any other sort of basement I have ever been in. When we went through the gate, the chamber beyond opened up into some sort of extra-planar space. Once we cleared the entrance there was a 15ft. deep ledge that ran left and right about 50ft. in either direction. The only place to go was a 20ft. wide path that led forward away from us for about 50 or 60ft and then forked left and right at 45 degree angles for another 50 or 60ft before straightening back out to the original forward path ending at 2 huge raised diases.
There was also a kind of cloud like thing about 15ft. in diameter floating above the path leading forward before the path split left and right. It was kind of opalescent and every now and again we could see an image of someone. Not sure who but faces of beings were definitely able to be made out. Finally, just beyond, maybe 10 or 15 feet, where the path split left and right was a floating sphere about 10ft. in diameter. This we could not make any images out on or in it. It just sat there…hanging…waiting.
Alongside but floating in space level with our stretch of safe ground about 5ft. away from the solid path we were on were 2 10x10ft squares with unusual glyphs on them. One on either side of the path. We had no idea what these were for. 15ft. in front of the 10x10ft. squares the path was flanked on either side by pools of lava that overflowed into the void below.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled battle…almost! One more step backwards here for a moment to give the setup before all hell breaks loose.
Tommy, Mr. Pink, Alar, our elven ranger, was unable to join us, however we were in luck as Jennifer revisited her character for a few hours helping us in this time of need. Jennifer was playing another ranger (I believe) but hers was of a different flavor and had a bear for an animal companion. This helped tremendously because with our archer not here our offense was greatly diminished and this brought it back up close to where we were before sans Alar.
Out of the gate Rogar was up first in the round and opened with some nasty offensive volley of death from above dealing lightning damage. Lots of it. I forget sometimes how much damage he actually does. His “+” bonus is something like 35! Rogar is all beat-stick when it comes to a fight. He is versatile, agile, lethal and flies. On average he hits for about twice as much damage as I do. That is a good thing for us since I am a healer-sort-of-and he is a striker, which means he is supposed to make things dead. I am there to buff the party a little bit and help keep us in the fight with healing.
After Rogar unleashed holy hell, the minotaurs closed ranks and prepared to lay the hammer down on us next round. Afterwards, I, Vythrik – right-hand of Kord and all around good guy met the enemy head-on in a clash on the path going diagonal-left. I was able to hit and held the line waiting for reinforcements to arrive from our side so we could focus-fire and remove some of the heavies before they had an opportunity to fight back. I am all about gang-up warfare. For our side only. 😉
Next up for team US (we haven’t picked a name yet) was Addrik, our oh-so-mobile human monk. He managed to close the distance quite easily to the minotaurs on the path leading to the right and engage them with a nasty melee onslaught that managed to hit either three or all four of the cloven ones. That is what I call maximizing his damage potential!
I believe Alvo was up next. After staying behind briefly to help defend the squishy Rogar, headed forward into the fray. Alvo plays a critical part in our well-being. As the defender he is able to mark opponents – make it so they attack him or include him in an attack or suffer a -2 penalty. Allies adjacent to Alvo also get a +2 to either just AC or all their defenses (NaDS). You wouldn’t believe how many hits that are turned into misses by just a point or two of defense. Alvo also has several other powers that he employs as immediate interrupts that at the right moment can turn a hit into a miss. Plus some healing abilities makes Alvo an essential part of our party.
Jennifer’s character, who shall be known as Freya for the purpose of this gaming update, also charged forward to close the gap on the minotaurs that would eventually move past Vythrik and Addrik. She immediately shape-changed into a beast and charged into horns and hooves with teeth and claws. Something to know about Freya and the way she fights is that when in beast-form she effectively changes her range from melee 1 to melee 2. What this means is that she doesn’t have to be adjacent to her opponent but rather 1 square away. This allows her bear to get up close and personal to whomever she is attacking with her right behind. This in effect makes her a more difficult opponent to hit with 1200 lbs. of snarling attitude between her and them.
Back to the top of the order saw the giant minotaur, giant wolf of the hag/witch moving to engage us. This was a good thing for us as the eight minotaurs we were fighting were tough and proving hard to dispatch with just a few hits. This was going to take some teamwork and focusing of our powers to bring down a few of the enemy or we were in very real danger of being overrun and eliminated before we got started.
Rogar was up to the task and once again was able to deliver pure devastation from our back ranks in relative security from reprisal from the enemy beef-on-the-hoof….for a while.
In short order we were starting to actually get ahead of the onslaught and started to feel pretty good about ourselves, like that ever gets to happen, when the giant Minotaur started to slowly join the fray. He was in back on the dais which wasn’t a problem. Nor was the distance, what was an issue was that there was only 10 feet of walkway for him to squeeze his bulk on to get at us. Going to either side and he would fall off into the void of nothingness below.
While he was walking towards us we could see that he had the six-sides star literally carved into his flesh, horns, hooves pretty much wherever there was a space, the star had been carved. At seeing this spectacle we started to notice that all of the smaller minotaurs had similar markings but only just one on their foreheads. Odd.
At seeing how things were going to start going to go for us once the massive minotaur joined, Addrick used his latest and most devastating power. Not in terms of raw damage it could do but because on a hit OR miss he is able to banish a creature to another plain for a period of time. If he hits the creature and when it comes back from its unscheduled journey, it is dazed (gets one action). On a miss the creature blinks out and then once it saves returns and gets to act as normal. This allowed us to breath for a moment and start focusing on the smaller minotaurs (like there is s such a thing).
At seeing the massive minotaur blink out the wolf, some may call big and bad, decided to join the fray since things were going bad for its side.
As our DM did not have the intended giant wolf figure like he had planned he had to use one of the smaller figures that our host had on hand. For all future references made to the B.B.W or giant wolf, please think of this picture.
B.B.W. (Big Bad Wolf) had a couple of nasty powers that were pretty terrible; one affected the area around him in a 5 square burst that caused icy terrain to appear making it difficult to walk over effectively cancelling and shifting (move 1 square) that we may want to do while in that area. He also had a power called what big eyes you have that I believe shot a beam (for lack of a better word) from its eyes. This he used on characters that were generally well out of melee. He also had a power, and I may be making this part up, called what big teeth you have that gave a bite attack that if was successful allowed him another attack that allowed him to swallow whole its victim. I had already experienced this with his smaller cousin when were level 1 or 2 almost two years ago and I wasn’t looking forward to getting swallowed again.
As the battle raged on, we were slowly starting to turn the tide with the bovines and found out something interesting, kind of neeto and terrifying all at once; when you get knocked off the walkway – you get transported to one of the 2 10x10ft floating platforms that had the funny glyphs on them. The interesting and neeto part was that ow we knew what the glyphs on the platforms were for, what the platforms themselves were for and now we knew we couldn’t just get bulldozed off the platform into the nothingness below. The terrifying part was that now the 1st and 2nd minotaurs that had just failed to save against being knocked off the walkway were now behind the party near to where our offensive squishy Rogar was dealing obscene amounts of damage from relative safety.
It was now the minotaurs turn to act and the two in the back that had just appeared on the platforms decided to take advantage of the squishy situation and deal with one of our most capable offensive weapons – Rogar. As they moved in and started to deliver punishing blows of their own to Rogar, Alvo, not having fully committed to storming forward – and thankfully so – was easily able to make it back to help Rogar. Addrick was knocked down or prone and started taking bad damage. I was knocked off the edge but was okay with it because I ended up on one of the platforms also and could now help Alvo deal with the 2 minotaurs that were attacking Rogar in short order.
At this point all chaos breaks loose, there are no defensive lines anywhere for either side and it is largely every being for itself in a grueling fight to the death free-for-all. Everyone was unleashing their most lethal offensive weapons at the opposing enemy. Some of them were falling and some of us were falling. The difference is that we were able to heal our companions and get them back into the fight whereas our enemies weren’t. We were making headway.
After dealing with the two minotaurs that had Rogar pinned down, Alvo and I were able to rejoin the fight Mano-a-mano. We were joined by Freya and her not so gentle bear. We will call him Ben for now. The battle had been raging pretty heavily where the path diverged and now the B.B.W. had managed to place himself in between Addrick and the rest of the party. It was at this point the massive minotaur managed to make his saving throw (throwing off effects that are on you) and reappeared ready for a fight.
During the this portion of the fight, the last 2 remaining minotaurs and Ben got knocked off the pathway and ALL ended up on the same floating platform. What fun. I was knocked down but not off the path. Alvo was knocked off the path and also headed back to the other platform not containing That especially was bad news for us because Alvo would need to take the next turn or 2 to make his way back to the fight.
All was not lost however as Addrick had another nifty power, Recall Ally, that allowed him to teleport and ally next to him. This was really great because now we had Addrick and Alvo on one side of the B.B.W. and me in front of it and Freya on the other side opposite Addrick and Alvo. A couple of rounds of devastation from us resulted in me getting bit and ready to be swallowed but the B.B.W. was never quite able to swallow me before he was brought down. The massive minotaur proved to be short work after the rest of the small minotaurs and the B.B.W. I don’t think we actually killed him. I think we saw a part of him fly into the opalescent cloud.
After we defeated all the minotaurs and the Big Bad Wolf, the hag/witch made a horrible wailing sound. At this point the sphere that was just hanging and waiting came to life and we saw the faces of the other 2 witches as they screamed horrible abuses at us. Once they had finished threatening us the hag that was with us flew straight into the sphere where it exploded into nothingness. I am sure that is not the last we have heard of them.
With the explosion of the sphere, a spinning wheel appeared. Another riddle had arrived for us to solve and make this portion of our game complete. Something to keep in mind, the letters on the wheel actually represent symbols that we have deciphered.
When all the dust had settled, Rumpelstiltskin appeared out of nowhere again (kind of like “Dungeon Master” from the 80’s cartoon show Dungeons and Dragons) to thank us from clearing out him childhood home
Here are some images that didn’t make it into the editorial. I am sure that I just used that word wrong…so sue me.