3.5e Torment

Gamer Bling’s gaming group has been, shall we say, irregular of late, which does not mean they need Pepto Bismol, although that might in places help out. It does mean that since one of us got a job as a restaurant manager and another got a job that requires getting up at 3 a.m. that arranging a game night has been hard. This was only worsened during the holiday season.

The last time we played was in early September. Yes, that long ago. And we were at that time stuck for the second consecutive session in a horrid trap. So come a week or so ago, we got to play again, which meant a third installment of suffering in this dungeon of dooooom!

Let us review the party: The meat sponge fighter with his two-handed sword of close combat; the druid of self-impalement and voluntary drowning (see this review); the warforged artificer of dysfunctional personality; and the warforged archer/rogue of nonexistent personality. There was also one other PC being played by Yours Truly, who, being apparently a masochist, chose ONCE AGAIN to play an arcane spellcaster.

On the other side: one creature. Gamer Bling does not jest. Three sessions to get one creature. Well, two and a half sessions.

See, we were in a dungeon, and the exit had been magically sealed behind us. Due to some actual role-playing, the wizard did not have his spellbook, nor did the archer have his bow. That left, for the sum total of ranged attackage: the memorized spells of Yours Truly. Good thing Gamer Bling chose to hold some spells unassigned, in reserve to be memorized as the need arose. Yum. Good choice, that. Sort of like leaving your money at home so you won’t lose it in a robbery, then finding yourself in the worst part of town with no way to pay the taxi fare. Which is a closer allegory than Gamer Bling originally thought.

We found one thing standing between us and a presumed exit to the dungeon. (As an aside, Gamer Bling notes that we could have been wrong and spent three sessions killing a single creature only to find that we were still permanently trapped below ground. But that would have been really mean. Three sessions on one creature was only partially mean.)

Why is this creature such a problem? Because we’re talking about an outsider with damage reduction, regeneration, flight, invisibility at will, and hanging out in a vault with a 25-foot-high ceiling. Ooh, we hit the beast? It goes invisible and flies near the ceiling until it’s whole again.

It was going to take some serious thinking to figure out how to wound this beast, let alone defeat it.

Did Gamer Bling mention it had a poisoned throwing dagger of returning, so it didn’t even have to leave the ceiling to attack? Did Gamer Bling mention our archer had left his bow at home?

Session 1 involved us cleaning out the dungeon and fighting our first disastrous battle against the evil thing. We broke for the evening and regrouped. Session 2 involved lot of trying to beat it and lots of failing. Gamer Bling’s wizard fired off all his spells, one by one, to no effect, because the thing had a seriously high AC, and we were only third level against an invisible regenerating flying ranged-attacking regenerating poisonous beast with a high ceiling underground. Gleek would have been jealous.

At one point, Gamer Bling managed to wrangle the tides of battle in our favor. He had one trick left: benign transposition, a spell that instantly switches the locations of two willing subjects. Gamer Bling managed to get the creature to attack him in a small side room. Not terribly bright, considering how long most of Gamer Bling’s arcane PCs last, but hey, necessity is the mother of desperation.

The creature took the bait, and Gamer Bling jaunted ten feet to block the doorway (alternate wizard class feature), then cast benign transposition. Successfully, one must note, having rolled a concentration check when the beast made its attack of opportunity. Gamer Bling swapped places with the up-to-that-point-useless, melee-only, can’t-hit-a-flying-thing-without-rocket-boots fighter.

Whose player made the mistake of being noticeably surprised by Gamer Bling’s actions. See, our DM is a hard-core DM, and Gamer Bling wasn’t going to leak his plan publicly, lest the DM prevent the beast from falling into the trap.

Since the player looked surprised, the DM ruled that he only got a partial attack, not a full one. Lame, we agree.

And the fighter whiffed. But that was okay, because he still blocked the door, hulking shifter that he is. Makes a better wall than door, and a better door than warrior.

Why does Gamer Bling say this? Because the beast used its inherent fear attack (oh, so sorry, did Gamer Bling neglect to mention that, too?), the player boffed the roll and feral shifter became fearful splitter.

Thus ended the sum total of Gamer Bling’s arcane goodness for the day (other than a caltrops spell that served no useful purpose). Gamer Bling says “day” because yes, this whole event took more than one day, requiring roughly week’s worth of game time, and thank goodness we had the druicidal maniac to make food and water, or we would all have perished of thirst.

In session 3, the druicide hotline realized that he had a grappling hook, and started using it to try to snare the beast and bring it down. Not a bad idea. Up until the point when he decided that it might work better if he flung a magical mithral chainmail hauberk at her instead. While she was fluttering over a gateway to another dimension. And he muffed his attack roll (duh), because a chainmail hauberk is more or less the definition of an improvised ranged grappling weapon (Gamer Bling leaves it as an exercise for the reader to dteermine if there are any actual ranged grappling weapons that one can take proficiency in), and the beast was involved in melee combat with us giving him an additional -4 to hit. And then he totally fumbled his “Hope it doesn’t fall through the gateway into another dimension” roll. And thus we never did find out exactly how magical it was. And our self-sealing bucket o’ blood was left to make do without improving his armor class yet again. Which is okay, because if out fighter weren’t lying on the floor coughing up blood, we might not recognize him.

Pulling our hair as we read through our notes of three months ago, we discovered we had a scroll with a single see invisibility spell. So we placed it on our fighter. Because it’s always smart to place such a spell on a guy who can reach out and touch someone, as long as that someone is within melee range, and not, say, comfortably hovering 25 feet off the floor. Duh. Gamer Bling felt kinda dumb. Not quite dumb enough to throw relics into The Pit, but pretty dumb. Especially when the beast cast shatter and blew away the fighter’s one and only weapon. At which point he discovered what it felt like to have no spellbook.

In the end, we did manage to destroy it, although it took a lot of doing and figuring out what the creature’s one and only weakness was, which was that it went berserk when you fiddled with the dimension gate. It was a denouement had that funky smell of gamemaster fiat or poor adventure plotting, and Gamer Bling suspects the latter. Because our DM is not one for fiat like that. Gamer Bling knows this because of how little information we got from studying the runes around the portal, even with pretty good rolls.

Gamer Bling can see it now…

Writer storms into the editor’s office. “Hey, I want the climactic NPC to be a invisible regenerating flying ranged-attacking regenerating poisonous fear-inspiring magic-using beast in a high-ceilinged underground chamber!”

Wiping spittle spray from his face, the editor asks, “Um, how can the PCs win?”

“It’ll get really stupid if they mess with the magic relic that’s too powerful for them to control!”

The editor begins scratching his nose. “Fine by me.”

All of this brings Gamer Bling to what will inevitably be the subject of several of the next blogs: 3.5e vs. 4th Edition.

Yes, he knows his opinion is behind the times. But better late than never. And better Gamer Bling than pretty much anyone else.

In the meantime, no reviews this week, as the Gamer Bling Official Companion decided that today would be a good day to swap all the computers around and switch over to wireless.

But stuff is in the works.

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~ by Gamer Bling on 21 January 2009.

One Response to “3.5e Torment”

  1. Hey, that sounds like Rise of the Runelords! 🙂

    My players (all level 1) complained a lot about a particular outsider… But I must confess I must have missed that the dagger was poisoned.

    My party managed to leave the room and wedge the door shut. As the outsider has no teleport capability, that worked well enough.

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