Into Dragon's Den, Part 4

After holding up the game for about half an hour trying to redraw a map I thought I'd lost, the players re-checked the door for traps, and feeling that it was no longer going to disintegrate anyone else, kicked it in. In my last campaign, the players actually complained that there weren't any traps--in an ancient, undead-ridden castle, no less--so this time I indulged their paranoia since I could rationally explain there existence (also, it would likely be awhile before I could use them in such abundance again).

In the map I drew the "dungeon" is divided into two halves, with each half basically having two ways to go about it. One is trapped, while the other is clean. For the trapped path, the doors are locked, suggesting importance, with traps setup to trigger once it is opened, or when someone steps on the area just outside (pressure plates). The idea is that no reasonable organization would employ mechanical traps in an area that sees regular traffic. I tried dropping hints, such as that the doors appeared to be rusted, or that the dust, mold, and/or excrement around the door didn't appear disturbed.

Despite this, they pressed on through a heavily fire-trapped-and-locked hallway, until they kicked in a door to find a scarred orc getting ready to take a cleaver to Moxie. Although I've never seen an episode of Doctor Who, Beth got it right in that it was a teleporter and not a disintegration ray. The trap, when triggered, teleports the individual into a chamber where the target is restrained by a magic circle. Moxie tried to talk her way out by pretending to be a "new guy", but the orc wasn't having any of it. Besides, he needed some blood for a ritual on there wasn't any on tap.

When the rest of the gang arrived, he tried in vain to draw one of them into a Khyber dragonshard, summoning some legion devils for support. Heien locked down the devils, while Lwaxana weakened the circle enough for Moxie to attack the orc when he got pushed too close. An imp stung Heien and fled invisibly to warn others when he got damaged. It was an easy battle as I'd banked on someone getting temporarily trapped in the dragonshard or knocking someone else into the magic circle, but thats how the 20-sider rolls.

They tried having Moxie trick more of the thieves, but the imp had already spilled the beans. They tried to go pretend to go along with her story, and while she saw through the ruse, the imp had snuck on on her and stung her, too. The rest of the party sprung into action, feathering the thieves with arrows while Heien and Moxie killed the imp before it could get away (again). Another pretty easy fight, but I didn't want them to peter out of healing before they got to the end, as I liked the idea of them plowing through a thieves guild without having to stop for a nap.

After looting some beds, they came across a pair of warforged. While most of the party took them on, Lwaxana ran the other way to open a door, adding a trio of minions and a skilled duelist into the mix. Who was also Moxie's sister. This was a problem. I might not have mentioned this before, but Moxie was looking for her sister, whom she believed had fallen in with Dragon and his crew. The basic story behind Liz's character is that she got into the dragonshard smuggling trade so that she could get close to Dragon and determine this for herself.

This means that she [Moxie's sister] is a changling, a race that hinges on the ability to create perfect alternate identities. So, I tried to describe her fighting technique as "very similar to Moxie's", what with the graceful flourishes, feints, and two-weapon style, but no one really caught on. I didn't want to make anyone roll Insight, as once you call for it the players immediately become more paranoid or interested in something than they have any right to be. Kinda like when you ask for a Perception check and everyone fails.

Long story short, they killed her, she turned into a changling, and Liz realized what was going on. After some accusations that I did that to avoid developing the character hook later, or that I'd allegedly forgotten about it, I reminded the players that such a thing as Raise Dead exists in D&D. Since, you know, forever. All they have to do is find a halfling House of Healing and shell out the 500 or so gp (I might up it to 1,000 due to supply and demand, but certainly not out of irritation, so siree. :-P).

With that out of the way, the found a room with tables and gemcutting kits and an attached vault filled with chests and crates. They went after the crates, triggering an explosive trap that also blew up the crates. Which were filled with rocks. When they got around to checking the crates, they say that those were filled with Eberron dragonshards.

The last stop was Dragon's throne room. Yes, this guy had a throne room, along with an attractive half-elf...well, let's call her a "mediator". To the party, Dragon appeared as a big-ass green dragon lounging upon a gem-encrusted throne made of gold. The entire hall glittered with opulent splendor. So, I'm hoping none of the players were surprised when they discovered it was a grand illusion. Dragon was a brain in a jar, while the half-elf was a dolgaunt, with more dolgaunt minions lurking behind illusionary walls.

The battle opened with Dragon dominating Heien and tossing Hawkeye into a dolgaunt infested room. Moxie chucked daggers to no avail, and Lwaxana had a bitch of a time hitting him with any Will spells since, surprise surprise, his Will was his highest Defense. With the ranged guy surrounded, the defender dominated, and the two support characters being directly confronted, they pulled out the big guns dailies. Since none of them had even used daily powers, Dragon lasted a round or two before the head-based puns started rolling.

Next session, it's off into the Shadow Marches to deal with the orcs, ideally after pawning their shit, doing some research, and gearing up.

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