God, what a meat-grinder! The adventure as written was tough, but we are a group of very experienced players, so the DM bumped it up a notch. There was enough XP in the dungeon to get us from 6th to 7th all by itself. I burned through a lot of consumables, as did Morgan (I’m speaking as me, so Morgan is himself in this blockquote :)).
Tripping is über in pathfinder. Then again … maybe that’s accurate. Once you are down, life gets tricky. Andrew (aka Jope, His Lordship) made a full round attack with haste – trip (fail), trip (succeeed), ordinary hit. Large troll tries to stand up – aao/trip. Large troll tries to stand up again – aao/trip.
On the other hand – even while prone you can still do full round attacks with reach. So, ok, take the AC penalty and just lay about with those big arms of yours. If that troll had just ignored being on the floor, the fight might have gone differently.
I’d make a couple of rule changes:
* AAOs are an immediate action. They consume your next swift action.
* Combat Reflexes allows you to make multiple AAOs all as part of the one swift action.
* Being prone reduces your reach to half, rounded down. A prone human does not threaten adjacent squares. A prone big-ass troll does.
* While prone, you can only attack with small or natural weapons (as per being grappled). No swinging about halberds or using martial forms when prone. Unless you have the “mat fighting” feat.
Sundering, also, is über. All that work and money into a flaming halberd, and now His Lordship owns a stick. Well – two sticks.
Before I begin, I must unsay some of my words about Larien. During an attack on our town while we were absent, he conducted himself entirely as a Verdant ought. By all accounts, he fought with ferocity and intelligence [it’s elvish – an idiomatic encomium], and won respect for himself and our house.
But more of that later.
After the fight in the guardroom, we ventured further into the complex. We decided to “blitz” (a dwarvish word for lightning) in order not to lose our short-duration magic. The next room contained an interesting sight – a troll that had been neatly bisected with a nearby axe, and which was regenerating into two new trolls. We fought it/them, and another one and it’s trollhound. But there was nothing much more in that area.
Back the way we came, a crude earthen tunnel lead down. I scouted forward and saw two more trolls in a large chamber. Big ones. I called for backup and disabled one of them with a Hypontic Pattern (I realised later that stealth was almost useless – the trolls have an excellent sense of smell). We engaged. One of us (Rainor, probably) noticed an odd troll-shaped rock in a chamber off to the left. Morgana hexed it with her “sleep” power.
The thing is – trolls take a long time to kill, even if things are going well. From beyond the large chamber we were in appeared another two big trolls, wearing some sort of chieftainly outfit. One of them had two heads. At this, our chances began to look bad. we began to stage a retreat. One of the two new trolls launched a fireball at as (from a necklace) and suddenly things were looking really grim. [Necklace of Fireballs with an 8d6 bead. Ow.]
I think by this stage one of the two original trolls was dead, and the chief cooked the other, but that troll-shaped-rock turned out to be a rock troll and followed our retreat up the corridor. Unlike regular trolls, it was mostly immune to fire. We blocked the corridor as well as we could with Grease – not much, but all we had. Luckilly, the chief and his two-headed offsider elected not to follow us.
[The rock troll and the ettin troll were thrown in by Dave to spice things up a little. If he’d thrown them at us regardless, we would have had some character fatalities.]
All we could do was have His Lordship drop the thing, then I used my Acid Splash cantrip until it stopped regenerating.
Then there was a lull – a bit of a stand-off. I think the two remaining trolls did not wish to fight in the dwarf chambers at the top of the earthen tunnel, as it was a trifle cramped for them. We healed and restored our enchantments (at the cost of several hundred worth of scrolls). We decided to press the attack, as we would only have to return and who knows what they might prepare for us when we did?
I remember little of the final fight. I sent my dancing lights down the tunnel – perhaps a foolish gesture, but I meant it as a signal that the fight was back on. The two trolls were there and we joined combat. Jope swung his fiery halberd, which the two-headed one broke. He continued on with his fists and spiked gauntlet. Rainor shot, Morgana and I used our spells (Flaming Sphere mainly). Eventually we downed one, and then the other, and then with fire and conjured acid we destroyed them.
(Tragically, however, we were not able to do so before Minion – His Lordship’s brave shield-bearer – fell in battle. Although we never spoke despite spending the last two or so years adventuring together, I almost feel like I knew him. Actually, no – he was pretty colourless. But brave. Definitely brave. And dead, now. But there you go. It’s not such a tragedy for humans, because they don’t live all that long anyway.)
We rested for a moment, and then we proceeded to thoroughly loot the entire complex. Honestly, I forget what we turned up. The point is, we have broken the hol of the trolls on the south. Without their chief, they will no longer attack in organised parties. In all likelihood, for the next few years they will mainly spend their time attacking one another, until each individual has a more usual territory.
Regrettably, this bit of storytelling didn’t happen all that well on the night. Dave was keen to deliver the cutscene before the christmas break, but it was nearly midnight and the non-nightowls among us were keen just to get out and go home to bed. It’s bad for the DM when your players bustle about while you are trying to deliver plot; but some people *cough* Andrew *cough* simply don’t function after the clock strikes 23 and that’s the way it is. Meh. Christmas.
We returned to find Fort Tuskwater in chaos! Our town (city?) had been attacked! Larien met us first and gave us the news: an owlbear, twelve foot high at the shoulder, had torn up buildings, killed dozens of townsfolk – rampaged through the town, basically. We have only had the most preliminary of reports. Our cousin was at the fore in the group of archers that pursued it to the edge of town and drove it off.
We are going to have to track it, and slay it.
Level 7! A feat, and my first level of Arcane Trickster. I have taken a Pathfinder trait that gives me +2 CL if I multiclass, so I have the spell list of a 4th-level wizard but am CL 6. No third-level spells, yet, but with a good Int and being a specialist caster, I have enough slots that I am not burning scrolls all the time.
Speaking of which – I have taken to using actual little post-it notes for my scrolls. Much easier to organise than scribbling and crossing-out in pencil.
Oh – and I also get two new spells without having to pay for them. Yay! Acid Arrow is better than Scorching Ray now that I am CL 6 – 6d6 acid over 3 rounds, plus sneak attack. Apart from that … 2nd level spells are pretty much tapped out. I could complete the suite of stat buffs (only Str, Dex, and Int).
In other news: I think I’ve managed to find my own personal way with magic. Nothing that anyone back home would approve of, I think, but I have gotten good with Mage Hand – achieving very fine control.
I intend to study Giantish – I’m pretty sure that some of the inscriptions we’ve been seeing are giantish.
I think I’ll hit the workshop when we have some time and try my hand at creating wands. Some spells I just use over and over, and a wand is far cheaper and more convenient than a stack of scrolls. A wand of Mage Armour will cost me about 325 gold – the equivalent in scrolls twice as much. A wand of Scorching Ray 2250 – that’s about 3750 in scrolls.
Morgana is keen for a wand of Scorching Ray (which she cannot cast) … but frankly I’ve seen her shoot and I don’t think it’s all that good an idea: you have to aim that particular spell. Magic missile will be more the go, but it will cost about 375, 1125, or 1875 depending on how many missiles she wants. Or there’s the New Lore: Hydraulic Push, Flame Breath.
Alternatively, I could do her a wand of Enlarge Person and free her from having to keep it memorised for His Lordship. A wand of Bull’s Strength will cost more, but Rainor gets the benefit from it too via his mighty longbow. Choices, choices.
Regardless: it all costs, and we are short of fluid funds. His Lordship feels that its time we redirected some of the public moneys into personal kit – although to be fair we are amply kitted out in most respects. He’s been putting funds into monuments to himself so as to reduce some of the unrest when we do. We’ll see how that goes down.