We for the first time had our Wednesday night game at Good Games in Lanyon. No more negotiating with various people’s spouses, and it helps support the gaming community, which is a trifle threadbare just a the moment.
We are playing a coupe of games – swapping in Phil’s game when David is not available or waants a break. Dave’s campaign is set in Rome – we are a band of privateers (with appropriate letters of marque), battling the hated Carthaginians (he’s a bit of a student of military history, I gather). We have reached level 4 and have managed to antagonize half the Carthaginian navy, as well as a green dragon and a vampire, who have met each other in the course of hunting us down and elected to join forces. The dragon is annoyed that we stole his font – but we had to, or the bard would have gotten is soul stolen – and the vampire is annoyed that we broke into his tomb and looted it. Or something – it was a while ago, but some people just hold grudges, like, forever. The Carthaginian navy is piqued about us killing sundry people, sinking ships, and burning one of their ships in harbour – although we never specifically admitted to it. We just fronted up – in private mind you – at the local roman tax office looking to convert a mass of half-melted carthaginian gold coins into currency.
How the word got out, I’ll never know.
Anyway. Currently, we are doing jobs for some mad inventor whose name escapes me, testing out his battle bots. (of course, IRL the mad inventor is our DM, who is experimenting with the 4th ed rules). He sent us to some island where he had put some constructs in as tomb guards. Our job – should we choose to accept it – was to defeat them.
At the word “tomb”, my character lit up. I should explain:
I’m running a watersoul genasi swordmage. There are a couple watersoul genasi in the party – since the campaign is naval, a couple of characters who can breathe underwater seemed a good idea. (that’s how we got the gold off the ship burned in harbour before all those damn treasure-hunters). Osama Hashish (for that is his name) is from the east, exiled from his native land for some reason or other – probably racism. In any case, the character lacked any particular dramatic motivation or direction. But he’s lawful good, and the Carthaginians are into necromancy (apparently), so joining up with the Romans to fight them seemed a reasonable backstory.
Anyway. This swordmage has picked up a sword named “Ghoulbane” and bonded to it. Now, Ghoulbane is a sword of unknown (and probably yet-to-be-determined) powers. It is at least +1, bane undead, and glows in the presence of undead. With Ghoulbane, Osama has found a purpose in life, and that purpose is whacking undead. It’s likely that Ghoulbane is an intelligent sword, but there’s no conflict or will battles at this point as Osama and it are in accord. I intend to take the character onto Umbriri at paragon level, the in-game justification being that Ghoulbane itself shall teach Osama the lost secrets of the undead.
So, at the word “tomb” I and my character were strongly in favour of the fight-the-constructs-then-loot-the-tomb option. Eric and Chris (one playing a rogue, one who usually does) were also for the dungeon crawl, and hey – if the Carthaginians want us, they can find us. Our in-game party leader is Decimus Maximus, a roman officer who probably wants the party to get back to belting Carthaginians.
We went to the island, avoided a rather nasty squall, found and opened the tomb door, and found the chamber that the constructs were programmed to guard.
It turned out that these battle bots were not especially effective. A problem with our game is that we have six players, so the only way to challenge the party is either a lot of enemies, or a single powerful one. The problem with this is that a lot of enemies is complicated to run, and a single powerful one is very difficult to get right with respect to relative power.
(Actually: this is why they introduced “minions” – you don’t have to keep track of their hp so it’s much simpler to run a bunch of them. A few battle bots with a bunch of minions might have been the go. Or, the bots could have been transformers! When bloodied, they split up into half a dozen minions that work together to flank. Maybe even tiny ones so you can fit multiple ones in a square – if there are rules for that. This mad inventor might want to consider a swarm of fine constructs. Anyway.)
So we dealt with the bots and then the rogue searched the chamber. Found a secret door. Opened it. Saw the sarcophagus. Ghoulbane went bezerk once the door was unsealed – glowing, flashing, probably vibrating as well. The room looked trapped, so we threw in one of the deactivated constructs to see what would happen to it (you know the old adventurer’s trapfinder: goblin-on-a-stick). That was enough to wake up the mummy, or whatever it was.
Decimus is a Kalashtar (or something?) and has a racial ability to communicate telepathically with anything that has a language. That makes these situations a lot easier. There was a bit of discussion. Although Osama and Ghoulbane were very keen to attack, Osama is lawful-good and had been ordered not to. So it was the ranger who broke first: putting a couple of crossbow bolts into it. The mummy rasped “You shall pay!” in ancient egyptian, but we all kind of got the idea, so stacks on.
No-one could hit the damn thing. Someone rolled a 20, but that was about it. The mummy petrified or paralysed the bard, and everyone decided to get the hell out. Osama, however, had used his water power to get right in there next to the mummy and could not use it again. He had also used his action point. One hit from this thing – and it was definitely going to hit – would probably kill him. So, he decided …
Some time ago, the DM gave us a bit of a joke item. A grenade – an alchemical flask of oil which when when ignited does 8d6 fire damage in a considerable radius. The problem being that there’s pretty much no way to set it off safely.
Osama had one. But it would very probably kill him.
He threw the flask at the thing’s wooden sargophagus – the ranger (? Chris’s character) – yelling “noooo!” as he was in range of the blast, then used “Flame Whirlwind” – engulfing the mummy and the sargophagus in a burst of magical flame, igniting the oil. (I wish that I had thought to use “Fear No Elements” prior, but I didn’t have a spare action anyway). The flame whirlwind did nothing to the mummy. The grenade, however, exploded leaving Osama with – count ’em – two hp. The mummy retreated to its sarcophagus, opening some sort of portal. Osama attempted to follow, committed to whacking this thing with “Greenflame Blade” until one of them was truly dead – but he could not step through the portal.
And, that was it. Some healing from Decimus and we were all good to go. Packed up the remains of the constructs to return them to the inventor, and back to town. He has promised us a (low-level) magic item each, which should be good. As for Osama and Ghoulbane, I think they can count this as a suitably heroic victory. The undead was not killed, perhaps, but banished – and that’s pretty good. Ghoulbane is Osama’s magic implement (as well as being a sword) so it took part in the act of igniting the oil. And importantly for plot and character development reasons, we actually beat something undead. Swordmages are defenders and often don’t actually deal a killing blow, I think Ghoulbane probably insists on actually being stuck in something necrotic every now and then. But with this victory, all is sweet for a while.