Monday, July 31, 2017

Exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil's Dungeon Level 2 (pt. 1)

As always, spoilers follow. Anyone who plans to play through The Temple of Elemental Evil module should not be reading through these blog posts!

The party has been exploring the ToEE's Dungeon Level 2 for about a month (real time) now. They first decided to enter Dungeon Level 2 via the spiral staircase found in the NW corner of the map:

The characters cautiously enter the Temple's dungeon level 2

The characters quickly found a complex of rooms in which were stationed many men, all garbed in black. They began fighting and pushing their way forward.

The Fighter leads the charge, followed closely by the Dwarf

As the party pushed deeper into the complex of rooms, more human guards confronted them

After these guards were defeated, one who had surrendered was offered freedom in exchange for relating all he knew. He told the characters that they were off-duty raiders, charged with keeping the Temple supplied with goods and captives. He also told the characters that their leader, a man named Feldrin, was quartered in a complex of rooms behind a secret door to the south. The guard could provide no additional details, stating that he and his comrades were not permitted into this area.

A captured guard tells the characters all he knows in exchange for his life

The players decided to press the attack, hoping that whomever was beyond the secret door might be caught off-guard. Unfortunately, those people had already been alerted to the PCs presence (the guard's sergeant had escaped) and so they were expecting an attack. All the same, the Fighter charged in and engaged in melee.

Again, the Fighter charges into the fray, immediately followed by the Dwarf

Unfortunately, the Fighter paid for his boldness by receiving a Critical Hit from one of the guards and the result nearly killed him in one shot:

The Fighter is nearly killed by one lucky blow

The Cleric, who happened to be next to the Fighter, casts a Cure Light Wounds spell on him. The Fighter also deployed his snowman Christmas gift, to take any further damage meant for him. See my last post for details on how this unique magic item was acquired.

The Fighter manages to avoid almost certain death

Although the Fighter is out of immediate danger, Feldrin (seen in the SW corner of the group pictured above) lands a solid blow on the Dwarf. Now he is in danger of dying. The Magic-User then decided to cast the spell Web at Feldrin in order to stop his assault. Unfortunately, it also meant webbing the Dwarf as well:

Feldrin is captured

Feldrin (and 2 of his surviving guards) are interrogated  by the characters. Feldrin offered to show the PCs a way to reach the 3rd dungeon level in exchange for his life. However, the Elf executed him on the spot instead. The Elf was then about to turn on the other two guards who had surrendered, but the rest of the PCs stopped him.

The Elf ends Feldrin's depredations once and for all

The characters decided to return to Hommlet, in order to rest and recover from their exertions. While the rest of the characters relaxed over dinner, the Elf (who is a priest of Pholtus) began haranguing the locals over their sinful ways and offered to show them the one true path to light and redemption. They responded by pelting him with animal bones and empty ale bottles:

The Hommlet locals do not take kindly to being called sinners and heathens by the priest of Pholtus

Next time will chronicle the character's return to the ToEE Dungeon Level 2!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil's Dungeon Level 1

I haven't posted any updates for my Roll20-based Temple of Elemental Evil campaign for quite some time. I'm just not a very good blogger, I guess... As usual, my excuse is that I am so busy prepping for and running games that I have no time left over to post about them. Lame excuse, I know.

However, the players have not been idle and a lot has happened since I last posted. Below are screenshots of the greatest highlights of their adventures on Dungeon Level 1.

Obviously, spoilers follow... If you ever plan to adventure in the Temple of Elemental Evil, then do the right thing and leave now! On the other hand, if you're already familiar with the module then you'll probably recognize most of the places and encounters depicted below.

While in Nulb the players met Otis, who eventually revealed to them his true identity and purpose for being there.

The PCs enter the Temple of Elemental Evil for the first time

After briefly exploring the Temple's ground level, the PCs found stairs leading down and took them

The PCs soon found the room containing the Harpies and the Ghouls, in the SE area of Level 1. The Harpies failed to charm anyone, but the Ghouls proved to be a bit more challenging. Here, the Dwarf has been paralyzed by them, while the Magic-User has cast a web spell.

The PCs explored the north end of the Harpy chamber and encountered more Ghouls. The Fighter took a Critical Hit and got one of the worst results possible on my house rule chart. He failed his saving throw, by the way.

The Ghasts behind the secret door to the west of the Harpy room make their appearance. Both the Thief and the Cleric were paralyzed and carried off, but the Fighter and the Magic-User saved the day and retrieved them.

Here, the PCs have encountered the Earth Temple forces that are quartered in the NE part of Dungeon Level 1, and their leader has just thrown his Javelin of Lighting. The Cleric made his saving throw vs Lightning, but the Dwarf did not. So, I required that every item he was carrying make a saving throw as well. He lost a lot of equipment that day...

The PCs discover the Ghoul-infested rooms in the SW area of Dungeon Level 1. There was a lot of fighting and it was very chaotic. The end result was that both the Fighter and the Dwarf were paralyzed by the Ghouls and then carried off by them into the darkness. Here, you can see the Fighter being taken away (the Dwarf is already gone). The Elf tries to save the Fighter but cannot do it. Meanwhile, the Magic-User defends the paralyzed Thief from another Ghoul's attacks.

Here, the PCs have hired some extra help to make up for the loss of the Fighter and the Dwarf, while they attempt to discover their fate. They soon found the Earth Temple guard quarters in the NW section of Dungeon Level 1. Things quickly got out of hand and here the Magic-User is down. The Thief had fallen into the pit trap and almost drowned, but he was rescued by a hired NPC. The NPC paid for his heroics with his life, his body is hidden under the pile of dead Earth Temple guards next to the pit. The PCs put up a brave fight but eventually had to retreat from the Temple again, and their two hirelings were both dead.

After their disastrous attempt to find their friends as shown above, the PCs went back to Nulb and convinced Otis to help them try again. Otis agreed to go with them for this one time only, but said he could never do so again or else risk blowing his cover. He insisted that they meet at the Temple after dark, when he could slip away from Nulb unseen, and that they must be out so he could return to Nulb before dawn.

Meanwhile, as the DM, I had decided that the Earth Temple Priest was planning to sacrifice the captured Fighter and Dwarf (along with one of the Orc prisoners and the NPC gnome Wonillon). His goal was to summon another Earth Elemental, to make up for his loses caused by the PC's previous forays. To accomplish that, the Priest gathered all his remaining forces to defend the Earth Temple while he performed the ceremony at exactly midnight. It was at this point that the PCs and Otis arrived.

Here, the battle to stop the Earth Temple Priest's ceremony is already well underway. The party Thief has rushed to the central pyramid to try and free his friends, who are chained to the central column. Wonillon is already dead, sacrificed by the Earth Priest. The priest has now fled to the far side of the pyramid to avoid missile fire from the PCs, while his minions attack the intruders. You might wonder where did the Snowman come from? It's a magic item I awarded last December, when I ran a Christmas-themed side adventure for my players. The snowman has been deployed here by the Cleric, and it absorbs any damage meant for him until it runs out of hit points, and then it disappears forever.

Here, the Earth Elementals have returned to the pyramid, to prevent the escape of sacrifices meant for them. The Thief was hit by an Elemental at the central pyramid and sent flying half-way across the Temple, and was also killed by the blow. However, the Cleric and Halfling are now there too, to try and help free their friends. Meanwhile, the Earth Temple Priest has used his magic items to flee the area and leave his minions to their fate.

Although not depicted here, the Halfling was also killed by the Elementals and his body sent flying across the room from the force of the blow. However, the Cleric managed to rescue the prisoners by smashing the locks on their chains with his mace. At last, he too had to make a run for it. He had no choice but to run between 2 Earth Elementals in order to make his escape. But doing so would provoke free attacks from both. Everyone assumed this was a suicide run, since the Elementals needed only something like an "8" or better to hit the Cleric, and a single blow from either would probably kill him. However, as can be seen in the screen shot above, I rolled only a "5" for both attacks. And with that, against all odds, the Cleric got away from the Earth Elementals and re-joined the rest of the party in the hall outside the Earth Temple.

A little more mopping up was done, but this battle essentially concluded the clearing out of Dungeon Level 1 of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The end result was two hired NPCs killed, and 2 PCs killed. One PC was resurrected after taking his body to Verbobonc and giving the Church of St. Cuthbert there a very generous donation. However, the owning player of the other dead PC decided to let him go and so he was buried in the St. Cuthbert churchyard in Hommlet. Also, the party's Fighter remains horribly scarred (see above) and the Earth Temple's head priest escaped altogether, taking with him the choicest bits of his personal wealth.

Next stop: Dungeon Level 2!