Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Return to the Ruins of Adventure - Session 27: Temple of the Reptile God
After camping for the night our heroes proceed to the ancient temple of the reptile god. With the skilled barbarian leading the way they soon discover a pile of collapsed stone atop a hill that rises out of the swamp. Observing from a distance reveals no activity so they close in and discover amid the ruins a clearly maintained stone stairway leading down into darkness. Intent on their goal the group descends, Kordan in front, then Uthal, then Mikal, then Althea, with Jovanni bringing up the rear.
Emergining into a torchlit room at the bottom of the stairs the group sees lizardman guards doing exercises or possibly rituals. Due to the complete lack of stealth on the way down some of the temple guardians are already alerted to them and rush to engage. Caught on the stairs the party does not have a lot of room to fight until Kordan shield bashes some of them away from the landing, allowing Uthal to charge into the room. As soon as Jovanni gets a head around the corner he unleashes his usual storm of vicious mockery and cutting words as the wizard and warlock light up the room with various flaming magical bursts of death. These guards fight a little differently from the lizardmen of the swamp, swinging greatswords and following that up with a vicious poisonous bite - clearly they are the chosen ones. Unfortunately this does not save them as they are rapidly hacked and blasted down, the final two protecting the only other passage leading out of the room.
Barely pausing for breath the companions rip down the tapestry hanging in the doorway and see a large, oddly shaped rooom beyond, Notable features of the room include two glowing columns, two glowing snakes, and two even larger snakes, non-glowing. As ther serpents stir, the party readies for action.
Leery of the wet, magically glowing room, Kordan decides to try a new tactic called "stand in the doorway". With Uthal able to strike from behind him with his longspear, this seems like a viable plan, and sure enough the two larger snakes move up to engage. Unfortunately the two glowing snakes begin to spit fiery blasts from across the room, negating the effectiveness of this manuver to a degree.
Things are gong fairly well until one of the large serpents grabs the Fighter and wraps around him. Uthal, Jovanni, and Mikal redouble their efforts and slay the two big constrictors while Althea (who hates snakes) concentrates on blasting the flame serpents from afar. After the two big ones drop and one of the flamers has been blasted apart, Uthal rushes in and slays the last fiery snake up close.
As they recover, Kordan notices that while there is standing water in the room one there is one section that looks different, where the water seems to flow strangely. Testing the floor with spears they determine that it is a much deeper pool or well, difficult to see as there is water everywhere. Giving it a wide berth they move towards the opposite end of the chamber where there is another damp tapestry hanging in a doorway.
This was another good session where progress was made and the encounters were fun. The travel and recon at the beginning felt much like some of our older games from 2E AD&D where we seemed to spend a lot of time in swamps. I think they are one of the creepier environments to play in and I was glad I had a chance to work this in.
The first encounter, even beefed up to a level 8, was not terribly challenging for the party as I had a terrible time hitting anything, even with double-digit bonuses to hit. It lasted all of four rounds. Hey, minions die quick.
The second encounter was a little more interesting as the Kordan;s player, reasoning that snakes were primarily melee opponents and not liking the water-covered floor (traps, hidden monsters - he's been playing since 1E so he's seen a lot) decided that it was better to stand in the doorway and fight and it did work but the fire-breathing snakes were an unexpected wrinkle. Giant constrictor snakes are fun too with 4E's grab rules (much less hassle than 3E). In the end the fight only lasted 5 rounds but it was a good little scrap.
The atmosphere I was going for in the temple itself was wet, ruined, ancient stonework corrupted to use by an evil, poisonous cult, old and dangerous. I tried to emphasize certain aspects of it as tt's all building up to the final encounter which I thought would be a lot of fun (and it was - next post) and while this little setup was very linear, hey, that's how a small underground temple would be IMO.
This whole setup is one of the things I like about prebuilt enocunters such as Dungeon Delve - the original delve caught my eye as being cool so I put it on the list of things to use if possible. The leveling and the chosen adventure worked out very nicely, so all I did was enhance the descriptions a llittle bit, reskin some of the monsters, and swap out the main attraction to something I liked better. I think it will end up being one of the more memorable little pieces of the campaign and I'm pretty happy with it.