Having spent several sessions in Castle Naerytar, I was hot to get going. Tan Meng shouldered the responsibility for dinner, but miscalculated the ability of his crockpot to overcome the specific heat of spaghetti sauce. Rather than wait for dinner to be ready, eat dinner, and *then* start, I pushed for us to get going.
Himo and Garr whined and whinged about the clearing of the table, the firing up of the data projector, and the return to Castle Naerytar. Their reluctance to engage persisted as Terredon, Valeriya, Raynard and Tan Meng pushed forward into the caverns below the castle. The hunt was on for Pharblex Spattergoo.
Within seconds, our heroes slammed into Spattergoo’s elite guard and bullywug corpses crashed in ruin to the floor. Donuts! Without a preparatory feed, the donuts were consumed with even more than the usual revelatory gusto. Excepting Himo, who likes his sweets after dinner, we destroyed the glazed gobs of doughy sacrament.
Back to the carnage: Soon, the fight raged through the front ranks of bullywugs and Spattergoo himself appeared from the far passage and threw in a ceramic jar filled with some sort of hallucinogenic gas. Terredon was the first to fall victim. Convinced of his need to immerse himself in the cooling waters of the great underground pool they passed earlier, Terredon began to run for it. Soon, he was followed by Valeriya, Tan Meng, and Brokk. From moment to moment, they were either convinced everyone around them was a grotesque bullywug trying to kill them, or that they themselves could only find solace in the cooling waters of the lake as their skin became unbearably dry and that they were in fact safer underwater.
Brokk connected with a javelin on Pharblex and the squealing/chanting toad-master ran from the chamber in a swirl of wedding gown and costume jewelry.
Another gas bomb and Brokk fell victim to the confusion. He ran for the water. Raynard’s eldritch fire blasted into Pharblex as Himo and Garr closed with him. Himo arrived first and hammered with fist and foot, breaking and bloodying the bullywug king. More eldritch fire and soon, the hammer of Garr hit home, pounding the skull of Pharblex out of shape with a fish-head-like bubbly wheeze. Pharblex Spattergoo fell.
Those running for the water ran afoul of Valeriya’s precautions. She had previously dropped some caltrops and ball bearings in the passage leading to the underground lake. As Terredon, Tan Meng, Brokk, and others succumbed to the hallucinogenic gas, these handily slowed many from immersion in the pool. Those extra rounds were precious but still, Terredon immersed himself in the cooling waters of the lake. He held his breath and finally felt safe. More menacingly, croaks of interest and splashes of approach echoed through from the darkness.
As all advanced toward the pool, Tan Meng attacked Valeriya, perceiving her to be a horrific frog-fish warrior. Luckily, smashing things with his mace isn’t Tan Meng’s strong suit. Running down the hall toward the pool, and alternately attacking one another, the Confused continued to flee farther from Himo, Garr, and Raynard, and further into danger.
Finally Raynard began to sense that Terredon and the others may actually be in trouble and began to run to their aid. Himo and Garr did not. They took time to loot the corpse of Spattergoo and look about his lair. Precious rounds passed collecting costume jewelry and shiny baubles.
Terredon had 8 hit points left as giant frogs approached to scent him in the waters. The others struggled and fought with one another and hungry giant frogs at the shoreline. Rounds ticked by. Raynard ran to assist. Finally Garr and Himo began to come down the passage.
Alas, by the time Himo arrived and extracted Terredon from the mouth of a giant frog, Terredon had no pulse. He died. The rest of the giant frogs were put down. The group retreated, somewhat solemnly, to Spattergoo’s sanctum for a short rest.
This event precipitated a heated exchange of meta-game conversation that ranged far and wide. Why do we gather? What do we take seriously and how seriously do we engage with the game? Standards of communication, role-play, expectations, etc. It was a spilling of blood. Like the barbershops of old. We bled to release the ague. I blame it all on Tan Meng and his failure to feed the hungry faithful.
But, seriously, the outcome was unspoken. This is an activity we all cherish. This time, this gathering is valuable to all. Tempers cooled. After the bleeding, we set forward again with renewed purpose with unspoken commitment to success. Success here, in this gathering of would be heroes, matters.
In the chests of treasure; three scrolls. One was Raise Dead. Tan Meng worked the miracle. Terredon was called back from far Havens. Everyone rested.
Other treasures were tallied and distributed. “Oh, did anyone gather Frulam Mondath’s halberd back in the tower?” Of course! We’re talented, seasoned adventurers.
A small wooden box contained two small bottles and a large piece of chalk. Garr tasted one to find it contained a powerful magical adhesive. The cutting of his face open again caused laughter all around. A large aged glass jar contained murky reddish brown liquid. Mousey was interested, Raynard acquired. Rarnard spent some private time with the jar. After some insight, Raynard decided to keep hold of the jar with some apparent relish.
Our heroes set out to clean out the caverns. A room full of zillions of centipedes nearly caused significant harm, but was cleansed by Raynard’s Hunger of Hadar. A few giant frogs were squelched, a couple of stray bullywugs slain.
Are the caverns clean? Has every corner been searched? Is it safe?
The group decided so and ran for the surface. Outside, they discovered Snapjaw and comrades have returned to Castle Naerytar. Garr gave Snapjaw the head of Pharblex. The lizardmen shrieked and reveled with joy. They picked up Garr and carried the dwarf in a parade of exultation. All were cheered and thanked for this great deed. A pair of lizardmen shaman set to preparations for a great ceremony. Snapjaw politely informed the party that soon, Voaraghamanthar, the great black drake of The Mere, would be thanked and hopefully summoned in great ceremony. Soon.
Our heroes set to explore a bit more of the Castle prior to departure. As they ascended the small NE tower, tearing tentacles ripped into Garr and Brokk. An Otyugh sought the dwarf for a meal. I was certain the creature would chew on the little armored tank – but he’s strong. And worse for the beast, Garr has many fearsome friends. Two rounds of their wrath and the trash eating terror was slain.
And we called it a night. All were tired.
It has been two weeks. What shall you do? Scour the tower? Seek the spoils of the Gargoyles? Pass the flagon and wait for the dragon? Maybe run for the gate before it is too late?
I’m going to be a bit tardy following two very long weeks at work. Make your plans, sharpen your blades, and get ready. We’re go to launch as soon as I arrive.