Echo Wood: The Dungeon level with slightly fewer goblins in it.

Full boat this week, although it seemed like it took us a while to get going. We were also slowed down by players having to wait for the sneakier members to act first. This comes up every once in a while and is an Initiative management problem.
 
I reviewed the Initiative rules and found that the way we’ve been doing Initiative ties is wrong; we’ve been using Dex when it is just supposed to be a roll-off. Dex makes sense, but roll-off might be faster since some people can’t keep their character sheet in front of them for some unknown fucking reason. Thinking about it, anyone who is paying enough attention to notice that their character has tied someone else for initiative can just call it and they choose whether they go before their tied peer. HOUSE RULED.
 
Another thing that will help is writing the initiative order where everyone can see it. That way you know when your time is coming and can plan accordingly, rather than wait until it is your turn to decide what to do or find out what is going on.
 
There are two Special Initiative Actions: Delay and Ready.
 
Ready is a Standard Action that lets you ready either a Standard/Move/Free or Swift action. You can still take a Move action or a 5′ as part of readying and I’m not sure we’ve been doing that properly, but if you didn’t do either, you can include a 5′ adjust in the readied action, which is pretty great. You must specify a trigger to which the Readied Action will be a response. Once the Readied Action is triggered, whenever in the round it happened is your new Initiative. If the Readied Action interrupts another person’s action, that’s fine, but you go just before that person from then on.
 
The other action is Delay, which is probably handy in the “bunch of impatient dudes in a tunnel” scenario. You can voluntarily drop your initiative result either to a lower result of your choosing, or just wait and see and establish a new lower initiative order as it comes up. This is perfect for waiting until just after the guy in the tunnel ahead of you has moved on. You can also clean delay right out of the round, to establish yourself at the head of the initiative order by delaying the action until then, although when you do that, you lose your normal turn that round. So basically, with a short amount of time and conversation, the party can establish the Initiative order it wants.
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So, back to the Accursed Halls, this time, with Mart, Tarkus and Cyrus arriving as reinforcements just before they forged ahead into unfriendly territory. 
 

They stood in the misty room, having wrecked the magical trap and shaken off its nightmarish effects, listening for any sound from the rough-hewn sandstone passageway ahead. Since the chatter of goblins had been curtly silenced by an authoritative goblin voice, there was no further sound. Him and Verne moved forward quickly, but as stealthily as they could manage, while everyone else advanced cautiously up the tunnel. They could see the flickering lights of small fires ahead and it smelled like someone was burning garbage up there. Bam downed a Mutagen potion.
 
Weird.

Weird.

 
Him arrived in the chamber, a large almost cave-like mined out area, supported with rough pillars that had been left in place. He used his Tiefling ability to cast Darkness, but it was barely up when it was suddenly dispelled – a shrill goblin voice barely audible behind one of the pillars. As the others poured into the room, unwilling to all get caught in the passage way, they rounded the pillars, finding goblins ready and waiting for them. Cyrus loosed an arrow off while Mart smashed one goblin with a single blow. The dirty little murder-muppets struck out as the adventurers passed near their hiding-places and the rushed out. Verne slipped aside as one tried to stab him, but Him was caught off guard as an unexpected dogslicer of surprising sharpness caught his hand at the wrist and struck it from his arm.
 
Indirectly, that's terrible news for Him's sister.

Indirectly, that’s terrible news for Him’s sister.

 
 
Him ducked, picking up his dropped sword in his left hand and slew the bastard that had removed his right hand, which he then retrieved and stuck in a pocket. Beth had been waiting in the passageway and now she moved up and clobbered a goblin to death too, before curing Him, so at least he wasn’t fountaining blood all over the place with his stump. Bam, all mutagened up, was proving hard to hit bt he had found an opponent who wasn’t fighting with a dogslicer. The little female goblin who had stepped out from behind a pillar cast Burning Hands on those she could hit, scorching a few of the party. She followed up by belching a gout of flame. This was almost too much for Bam, who stood reeling, but somehow found the will to stay up and had enough presence of mind to take a healing potion. Meanwhile Mart and Cyrus had fetched the spellcaster a few telling blows, each of which would have slain a normal goblin twice over. But Tarkus arrived on the scene to back them up, delivering a disfiguring blow to the creature’s face, before teeing her up for an enormous strike that killed her.
 
murgmo
 
Healing was dished out as the started to search the cave – MAKING THIS THE FIRST ROOM IN THE DUNGEON THEY’VE SEARCHED. They haven’t looked at any other dungeon feature closely unless it was a dead body or a door or a trap that was killing them. Until then the strategy appears to have been “Run to the next room! Kill! Repeat!” which is, it should be said, a good strategy for making sure your enemies never have time to prepare. In amongst the piles of mangy furs and shabby crates stuffed full of salvage, they found a chest. Verne got to work on opening it and successfully cracking the lock, they found a decent quantity of coins, a potion of Cure Light Wounds and a well-made arrow wrapped in a stained red ribbon. The arrow turned out to be an Arrow of Sleep, so I think Cyrus, who took a while to dial in his bow in the last fight, ended up with it. While the chest was being looted, the rest of the party checked out the goblins, especially the spellcaster. On her, they found a Masterwork Horsechopper, a pouch containing five green peridots, another potion of CLW and a Masterwork Chain Shirt that had been enchanted to expand/shrink to fit whoever was holding it. I think Him ended up with the Chain Shirt, but I’m not sure if anyone took the nice Horsechopper.
 
Perfectly good horsechopper.

Perfectly good horsechopper.

 
The sole other exit from this room was a spiralling unfinished tunnel heading steeply upwards into the sandstone. Him and Verne again took sneaky point and they discovered a large, multi-leveled room that appeared to have been a broad stair way, curving around a square pool at the bottom of the room. At the top of the flights of stairs, they found another  goblins playing dice against a pillar, with a little heap of spoils around the pillar, evidently the stakes of this game in which they were engrossed. Their view of anyone coming up the stairs was pretty good, but attacked from the rear, the goblins had no chance. Him, still fighting left-handed, killed two of them; while Mart, Tarkus and Verne closed around the goblins after Bam had lobbed a bomb in amongst them (the goblins, not his companions, although it was kind of a close thing). The fight was brief and very one sided. When it was done, the party helped themselves to the pile of wagered items, finding a bunch of coins, a Potion of Restoration – which Him used to reattach his hand and a pair of nice, but non-magical silver earrings.
 
They made their way to the bottom of the flights of stairs, and investigated the murky but evidently empty pool at the bottom of the stairs. The room must have been quite magnificent at one point, but now there wasn’t much to commend it. By the pool, another archway led to a short angled passageway, that led into darkness.
 
Shattered exterior door- Khazne
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