Going Postal: The Spider Swarm!

[This session happened on April the 30th, 2016, a Saturday. This was because I would be traveling out of state on May Day. With a few late arrivals and some technical issues as others got used to doing teleconferencing through Roll20, Toby, JB, Ralph, Mike, Ian and Demo were in attendance.

What’s transcribed here is mostly 7 game rounds–roughly equal to about a minute of hard fighting. The session was more than five hours long, most of it taken up with the combat. There was additional character actions before and after the battle so this represented about hour of campaign time.]

A section of the map of Udra, showing where Nightfang is located.The day after resurrecting Betty Davis, the Troubleshooters, expecting further disjunction attacks from the spellgaunt coloney in Nightfang Spire, made a few adjustments to their magical gear. Hinkwe in particular bought some magical tricks to use on the spellgaunts. Stirge was irritated that his planned trip to Grandma Grumpsalot was being delayed once again and considered buying Maceo the Pipes of the Sewers as joke gift, even though it wasn’t the gnomish bard’s birthday.

Even with their RPA priority the equipment took a day to arrange so, on the third day back in Waylon, they consumed the Heroes Feast and teleported back to the catacombs to continue their press to find Gulthias. The teleportation deposited them outside the door the lead into what they suspected was the heart of the spellgaunt colony.

An illustration of a spellgaunt. Copyright Brain Despain, Wizards of the CoastMaceo, Bussell and Frickalind activated their invisibility spells and rings. Frickalind scryed for undead and found nothing she also invoked the divine favor of Crondussa. Bussell cast flight on himself and scryed for secret doors only to find nothing. Stirge drank a potion of protection from evil. Hinkwe activated his boots of flight, cast bear’s endurance on himself and magically augmented his low light vision. Maceo caste haste on the whole squad and many other defensive magics were cast besides. Hinkwe listened at the door and heard nothing but noticed that the door was barred on the other side.

“Of course it’s a trap.” he muttered. With the chime of opening he opened the door, nocked three arrows and drew his string back, ready to shoot anything that jumped out at him. As the revealed room’s ceiling allowed for it, once past the doorway, he floated in about ten feet above the floor

A screenshot of the room Hinkwe opened and where the spell gaunts attacked him.It was a trap. Four spiders sprang out from their hiding places on the ceiling, dispelling their invisibility to attack the elf ranger! But Hinkwe was ready and quicker. He shouted the word of arrow-mind, magic which gave the power to use his missiles in close quarters and to avoid opportunity melee strikes. He fired his first group of three arrows into the spider to his Northwest. The volly struck brutally; the spider’s ichor splashed widely. With unnatural speed, thanks to Maceo’s hasting and his own training, Hinkwe drew and fired one, two, three and four more arrows after that. All of them sank home but the spider was tough and did not fall.

The two spiders to his South fired their magic webs at Hinkwe but the elf dodged them easily. The two spiders to his East and West raked and tore at him with their claws and mandibles. One of the spiders stumbled clumsily in its attack but the other struck the elf with vicious precision and Hinkwe was seriously wounded. The spiders moved in closer to surround him.

Illustration of the brutal effects of chained lightning.The elf’s shouts and arrow strikes roused the rest of the squad from their surprise and they all rushed to attack the spiders. There was a loud clap of thunder as Frickland cast a bolt of lightning through all four spiders around the elf, badly charring the spider to Hinkwe’s East but, all the spiders were burned and blasted to varying degrees.

Maceo started an inspiring song of courage and took cover to the East of the door outside of the room where Hinkwe was. Driven by the song of courage and his arrow mind, Hinkwe dispatched the badly charred spider and then dashed over the corpse, eastwards, towards the center of the room.

As the spiders were concealed from his present position, Lingerhol stepped foward to a mark where he could shoot freely through the door at one of the three remaining spellgaunts, which he did, wounding the creature lightly.

An illustration showing the cave in that Bussell caused. Bussell used the spell of polymorph any object to transmute the surrounding rock in the ceiling above and the floor directly below the spiders to mud. There was a huge rumbling clatter as seven or eight tonnes of mud, gravel, sand and debris gave way to come down on the spellgaunts. They were all crushed grievously and buried in and under a huge pile of muck, rubble and sand. Despite the huge displacement of rock, the crypt walls held and didn’t cave in any further.

The three spiders were very badly wounded by this attack but their strength and toughness was such that they could struggle free of the rocks and mud to spray webbing at both Stirge and Lingerhol, entangling them both. Somewhere inside Stirge a tiny flame began to grow.

Betty stepped forward to fire her bow at the foremost spider wounding  but not killing it.

An illustration of a berserk, flaming half-orc former pirate!At first Stirge used the Axe of Compassion to vigorously saw away at the webbing he was covered in. This failed to work so, in growing frustration and desperation, Stirge dumped a flask of oil on himself and set it alight, hoping to burn the web away. The berserk’s rage was upon him. “IF YOU WANNA LIVE, GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!” he bellowed.

Frickalind couldn’t help herself and began to giggle uncontrollably at Stirge’s semi-psychotic meltdown. But, stifling this, she then dropped a flame strike down on three of the spiders burning them severely.

Maceo followed this with a cacophonic burst, killing one of the spiders. Hinkwe cut down one more with a salvo from his bow and Lingerhol’s volley finished off the last one.

Screenshot of Bussell and Hinkwe surrounded by SpellgauntsBussell flew invisibly into the room using divination to find secret doors but he found none. His arcane sight revealed a source of moderately strong magic in an alcove in the Southwest of the room. But he didn’t have time to investigate as more spellgaunts sprang from their invisible hiding places to surround him and Hinkwe.

One of the spiders attempted to snatch Hinkwe’s bow away from him but failed. It did not fail to rake him with its two claws though. Two spiders attempted destroy his magic cloak with their bites but failed. And the last spider on Hinkwe attempted to destroy his bow, not bothering to snatch it away but this failed. Regardless, the spiders claw attacks had chipped away much of the elf ranger’s vitality. If this kept up he wouldn’t much last longer! “They’re like locusts! They just keep coming!” he shouted angrily.

Even though Bussell was invisible the spiders could sense the magic gear he was wearing. They hungered for its energy! As Bussell was flying, both the spiders bit at his boots but Bussell’s will was sufficient to resist the destructive attack. Bussell was not so lucky as the claws raked him, wounding him moderately. Betty ran into the room where Bussell and Hinkwe were surrounded and fired an arrow into the crotch between two of the forearms of a spider. This crippled the strength of the limbs on side of the creature’s body.

Stirge was thinking of executing a maneuver like what's depicted in this image.

In this case it was half-elves instead of halflings but, you get the idea.

Since Lingerhol foolishly continued to stand next to the burning, berserk former pirate, despite the shouted warning to not do so, Stirge picked him up, ran into the room with him and then threw him at the nearest spider! Lingerhol, as an improvised missile, was as badly bruised and contused as the spider!

Frickalind dashed into the room, took a position in the southwest corner, near Bussell’s pile of muck and rubble, and smote three spiders with a flame strike, scalding all three. A screenshot from the movie Alien, where Ellen Ripley incinerates Captain Dallas.Maceo, feeling a pang of guilt for laughing at Stirge’s use of Lingerhol as a missile, began a song of Lingerhol’s heroics. The magic of the song infused the half-elf ranger with confidence, talent and skill.

Hinkwe, who’d been airborne since the battle started, fired a salvo of four at the spellgaunt directly to his east, killing the spider instantly. His remaining arrows wounded the spider to his  northeast. He then lit atop on the dead spider’s body, preventing the spiders from surrounding Bussell and himself. Having recovered from his rough treatment, Lingerhol dashed to the southwest but, not before the spider to his east stretched out to bite his bow. This destroyed its magic. Lingerhol spat out a curse and fired an arrow at the spellgaunt who destroyed his bow wounding it lightly.

Invisible and airborne, the halfling sorcerer, Bussell Hedgerow flew towards his pile of muck and rubble. He easily dodged as the weakened spellgaunt to his west attempted to snap its mandibles at his magic boots. Bussell wheeled about and, with loud bang and rush of air, disintegrated the spellgaunt just northwest of Hinkwe!

An illustration of Betty Davis, right hand of Maceo Eh Xous!A spider slashed at Betty with its claws and mandibles wounding her severely. Another came at Lingerhol wounding him badly as well. Two spellgaunts lunged at Hinkwe drawing serious wounds. The master bowman would not be able to stand another attack like that!

Gritting her teeth in pain, and keenly aware that she was barely five feet from a berserk half-orc, Betty stepped to one side and unleashed a fullisade of arrows at the spider directly to her east. This wounded the creature she’d crippled earlier but she did not slay it.

Illustration of Stirge Barnaclesucker. Copyright Milo BarasordaThe only trauma Sir Stirge Barnaclesucker had experienced in this battle was his own self-immolation and his comrades, knowing better than to stand in his way, cleared a path for him. As his fire sputtered out, he strode up and, with two brutal swings of the Axe of Compassion, slew the spellgaunt he thrown Lingerhol into seconds earlier.

Frickalind, knowing that Hinkwe was badly hurt, called on Crondussa to heal most of the elf’s wounds. Maceo expanded his tune about Lingerhol to include Hinkwe and Betty. They all were magically infused with the confidence, durability and competence they’d need to continue the fight.

Healed and empowered, Hinkwe shot a group of three arrows at the spellgaunt to his north slaying it. He then shot another four arrows at the spider to his south wounding it badly. Lingerhol, even though he felt magically empowered by Maceo’s music, felt the wise choice was to withdraw from Stirge’s whims and melee with the spiders. He retreated to a safe corner in the northwest, near the rubble Bussell made.

Since it worked so well seconds ago, Bussell decided to disintegrate another spellgaunt. But despite having much of its chiton blown into vapor and having holes over its body, the spider withstood the spell! It was very badly wounded; it would be a cinch to kill the creature with a sword swing or a few arrows.

A screenshot of the crypt battle after Frickalind summoned her two fire elementals. It seemed like the agents of the Royal Postal Authority were making progress in defeating these creatures or, that would have been the case, if two more didn’t spring from their magical invisibility to attack! Hinkwe was bit by two spiders, wounding him seriously. Betty was also bitten but only wounded lightly. Stirge easily dodged a spellgaunt trying to bite him. Frickalind was not so lucky and was wounded lightly by a bite.

After Betty withdrew from melee, Stirge found himself in the middle of what was sometimes called “a target rich environment.” Surrounded by spellgaunts, Stirge wound up his the Axe of Compassion. Four of his five vicious axe swings threw bug guts everywhere but the easternmost spider, who was not wounded when it sprang for its invisibility seconds ago, was still standing!

Luckily her wound was a small one, so Frickalind was able to grit her teeth and focus on a ritual to summon two fire elementals to battle the spellgaunts. There were bursts of fire as the elementals set many of the spiders alight. Concealed beyond the crypt’s northern doorway, Maceo started a dirge. The music drained the spider’s brawn and agility.

An illustration of Hinkwe unleashing three chances at death!Hinkwe fired three arrows into a badly wounded spellgaunt and killed it. Still in flight, the elf ranger then flew to take cover in the alcove to the southeast. Lingerhol fired 5 arrows into the spider fifteen feet to his east, wounding the creature moderately. Bussell continued with his disintegrating. He cast the spell on the least wounded spellgaunt he could see. The spell vaporized much of the chiton of the spider, wounding it very seriously.

One spellgaunt attempted to leap out of the fire elemental’s reach. It planned to aid its three comrades to surround Stirge but, it misjudged the height and distance needed and fell short, colliding roughly with the spider to Stirge’s northeast. The other spider retreated from the fire elemental. The remaining three, around Stirge, raked and bit viciously but the half-orc easily dodged all attacks.

Betty stepped from cover in the northern doorway, planted her feet in the muck and took a wounding shot at one of the spellgaunts surrounding Stirge. Stirge took two mighty swings with the Axe of Compassion, killing the spider to his northeast instantly. His second swing carried through the divided body of the first spider only to glance of the hard chiton of the spider to his direct south. Stirge drew his axe back twice again but only struck with one light blow.

A screenshot of the spellgaunt battle just before it's conclusion.Although several of the spiders fell, Frickalind had lost patience with the slow progress of the battle so far. She summoned three more fire elementals to hasten things along. The elementals set the remaining four spiders ablaze!

Maceo briefly though to sing of Stirge’s magnificence in combat but, frankly, a berserk half-orc scared him. Tactically it made more sense to help Hinkwe. So, as Maceo’s dirge made the spellgaunts steadily more weak and clumsy the gnome changed the music again adding lyrics to speak of Hinkwe’s prowess in archery.

Empowered by Maceo’s music, Hinkwe fired four arrows in the spider to Stirges south, killing the spider immediately. With his remaining arrows he killed a second spellgaunt. Not wanting to be outdone, Lingerhol stepped from concealment by the northern doorway and decided to direct all his arrows into the least injured spider, wounding it seriously.

Bussell seeing only two spiders still standing, elected to use scorching ray spell. This incinerated both of them. Fearing an orcish fit of pique, Bussell immediately blurted out an apology to Stirge.

The battle was over.

The Queen’s Agents carefully searched the crypt:

  • In various jars, chests and urns 3600 houses were found
  • 7 pieces of alexandrite were found, appraised by Maceo to be worth 20 houses each
  • A scroll, first spotted by Bussell’s arcane sight, of Meld into Stone was found

Otherwise the Troubleshooters were wounded, down on spells, with some of their important magical equipment destroyed. Hinkwe thought for a moment of recruiting some other agents to find and end Gulthias. It was the general feeling that a retreat to Waylon was best.

But Frickalind thought a parting shot was in order. The Chime of Opening was used on the double door to the east of the crypt. Frickalind commanded her five elementals to go as far as they could, wreck as much as they could and kill all who crossed their path. This they did.

The Troubleshooters then teleported back to the Queen’s City.An illustration of the African city of Longo, which I'm using here for Waylon.

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