We had a pretty short session tonight, starting around eight o' clock instead of our usual six. Thus, we played til almost eleven and got through a healthy three encounters, mostly because of a new guy who wanted to learn the ropes as it were. We let him try out Kegan, dwarf paladin extraordinaire, because we felt that it would be terrible for the narrative to have a brand new character just jump in out of nowhere.
The first encounter involved four eladrin frostblades. Gray lured them into the crystal chamber, which caused them to divide their forces trying to access the room from two different entrances. This worked out well, initially, but their teleport ability let them bypass Kegan and take the fight directly to Grynn and Maev. The fight went really bad for Josh, who kept making terrible rolls. They managed to take them down and investigate the room they were guarding. It contained a single sarcophagus, but the room itself had more interesting features: while Gray was inside, he could feel wind blowing, leaves rustling, and ghostly animals would appear and wander about a bit before disappearing into the walls again. All of this would stop when he exited the room.
The only bit of loot was a +2 longbow interred with the sarcophagus, trapped with toxic fungus.
I honest to god cannot remember the second encounter. Oh well, it probably sucked compared to the last one, which I will share with you now.
The last encounter really threw them for a loop. It took place in what I just referred to as the "wailing pit" in my notes. It is a two-part chamber, with the first part containing sarcophagi that have simple runes etched over them which the party failed to translate (or copy down later for future reference). The other feature was a great obsidian door that looked a lot like the Gates of Hell, but with eladrin instead of humans and bound in chains of brass.
Grynn was unable to find a convenient method of opening it (no locks and a botched Thievery check), so Kegan set upon it with his blade. He made a lot of failed checks, so in the end he managed to hew away the chains but it cost him a healing surge and weakened him for part of the oncoming conflict. This involved a pair of ghostly binders drifting out of the opened sarcophagi and hellishly twisted skeletons clambering out of the dark pit. The players could hear the skeletons begging for death amidst the chilling screams of the damned coming from within the room. They couldnt make out many features, since it seemed to consume light and made it impossible to perceive detail.
Pillars provided cover, while the sarcophagi counted as difficult terrain but granted a +1 to melee attacks if you stood on them. The chamber with the wailing pit weakened living creatures, and everything inside got concealment. Though the encounter started with the party outside, the eladrin soulbinders had a recharging fear effect that could push creatures, which they would use to try and scare them into the chamber if they could. Unfortunately, this never occured. The best I could do was get Maev huddled in a corner, frantically trying to find an illusionary wall so that she could escape before the corrupted skeletons tore off her skin and cast her into the pit.
The way I ran the skeletons is that they were crawling and limping towards the characters on twisted, corrupted frames. They would grab them, impaling and cutting party members with jagged spurs of bone as they shook them and begged for release. I wanted to make it seem like they werent intentionally hurting the characters. They were minions that granted combat advantage since they were trying to die, so because of this I had them deal more damage than usual, with an unusual side effect on Grynn.
This was actually the highlight of this encounter: poor, poor Grynn. He got hit by a couple of the corrupted skeletons, which caused him to start growing bone spurs out of his skin and entering a frenzy. It was a lot of fun to describe him lunging at party members that drew to close and tackling the floating masks of the eladrin spiritbinders. On one turn, he grabbed a mask and started hammering it on the ground, and then burning an action point to turn on Kegan when he tried to step in and finish off the spiritbinder. Basically, for most of the encounter Grynn was completely bat-shit crazy, attacking anything that got to close. When he got bloodied, he injected himself with all of his healing infusions and kept pushing on.
Eventually, he got hammered even further since the party was trying to fight around him, and started growing chitinous tentacles out of his back. Once the party got the last spiritbinder cornered, Maev knocked out Grynn by using vines and yanking him into a pillar. The tentacles then tore themselves out of Grynn's back and tried to escape, but Gray chased after it and destroyed the mass. After a Heal check to stabilize Grynn, the party learned a fun fact: Grynn has some metal spikes imbedded in his spine. He has never known about them, and the party suspects that they appeared after the skeletons "infected" him, but they aren't sure.
Kegan doesnt want to try and remove them, as he isnt sure if he can do it safely. Grynn still has bony spikes on his body, and Gray wants to get someone to use a Remove Disease/Curse ritual on his asap, just in case his condition can worsen. So, even though Josh is normally against doing dungeon runs, he wants to get back to Dorsen and get Grynn detoxed before anything else.
Anyway, thats it for tonight. Next week they'll actually have some time to explore Dorsen and interact with the folk. I'm going to have to plan the reactions when they see an actual, full-blooded elf and a potential way to reveal Grynn's demonic infection given that almost no-one in Dorsen actually likes Grynn.