Mushrooms and Blood Suckers

Wednesday night I ran D&D again with the party delving deeper into this cave they found at the back of the abandoned Dragon Cult camp. After the successful battle of the previous session the party tried to take a long rest in the barracks of the guards they had just dispatched. I knew this was their plan from the previous session and didn’t think it a brilliant idea. Resting in a dungeon shouldn’t be anyway but where a contingent of had fled through a secret passage (which the party had found) and circling around behind them maybe should have clued them into the rest of the dungeon being aware of their presence.

There had to be an interruption, there was no way that the enemies in the bottom of the dungeon would ignore this insurgence and so I rolled for random encounters in the night, percentile below 30% (why I have no idea, I could have just rolled a d10 below 3), only one came up. I rolled for a group off of the dungeon’s random encounter chart, didn’t like it to bolstered it up with some additional units. Since the players were expecting an ambush I slipped in that if the melee characters dealt with threats in the night the spell casters would be able to get their 8 hours.

The fire breathing elf rouge took up first watch, after covering the hole to the secret passage with an upturned table and weighty objects, he took to keeping watch down the 5ft corridor leading to the barracks and in the latter part of his shift I described how he heard foot falls and bark like voices coming towards them, followed by a sharp yelp and thud. Nothing, just waited. I described how there were more anxious conversation between the voices and the scraping and clatter of armours, they had just left the 15 or so dead bodies in full view of the cave. Still nothing. So I described as hurried footfalls echoed out away from him.

Shortly afterwards I described asked for a perception check and described how he heard more stealthy footfalls of people, but with a stifled yelp and the same thud, followed by a hushed human voice in a language he didn’t understand. He woke the fighter and the two of them lay in wait in the tunnel. The group who had “sneaked” up on the party sent the kobolds down the tunnel first which resulted in them getting quickly dispatched, then the dragonclaw sent the guard down to support the last kobold, although in the 5ft corridor they were basically just lining up to die. The dragonclaw seeing his commrades die thought better of the situation and made to retreat to inform his superiors, the party sensibly made chase and took him out before he could get away.

The rest of the night was uneventful and after they had rested they investigated the secret tunnel properly. The rogue stealthed down the ladder, and sneaked along the tunnel coming up to wooden wall blocking the entrance to another chamber with points of light streaming through it. I described how ocassionally voices were coming through from the other side in a language he didn’t understand but rather than check through the holes in the wood he booked it back up the ladder, pulled the ladder up and replaced an upturned table they had blocked the hole with during the night.

The party decided to travel back into the main course of the cavern and descended into the Mushroom Farm chamber. The rouge went first, as would be sensible, followed 10ft behind by the fighter and then the death domain cleric, and that’s when the trap triggered. Random odd/even dice rolls but this worked out quite well. I described how the cleric fell onto his ass as the the stairs snapped into a smooth slope and he slide rapidly towards the (naked by the way) fighter, I called for a dexterity save which the fighter made and so he just managed to jump out of the way as the cleric slid right into the middle of 4 Violet Fungus.

The fighter, rouge and cleric did some decent damage on the fungus close up whilst the rest of the party mainly attacked at range from the upper level. The rogue worked out that they could just circle around the fungus and avoid them entirely and he made his way around there preparing to use his breath weapon. In the mean time though the rest of the party took out most of the fungus and only one was left when it got back around to his turn. The cleric and fighter made their way across to behind the rouge and with his breath weapon he burnt the last violet fungus and the surrounding mushrooms, but not quite enough to kill it (although it is now on fire).

At this point the three players were all staying out of the range of the violet fungus which was a little annoying but they had basically completed the encounter, at least that was until the fighter (the 3.5 DM) said “Don’t Violet Fungus have a 5ft movement”. Turns out, they do, so towards the rouge it went, just into attack range for the rouge. Although even with that the last fungus was not long for the world. The rogue wanted to taste some of it, so I made him roll a CON check, he rolled well but I wasn’t going to give him some terrible disease from it. I said it tasted like horrible burnt-ness and the rest of the party were able to make their way down and through the mushrooms without issue.

The next chamber was pretty innocuous, a few too many dead bats scattered across the floor. The rouge went through first and was able to see the couple of winged kobolds pulling a large lizard along with them and retreat back to set a trap. He also saw the colony of bats nesting on the ceiling. He prepared for another bout of fire breath planning to disturb the bats whilst the druid readied an entangle spell to hold the creatures down. Both went off successfully sending the bat colony panicing further into the cavern away from the fire but one kobold was out of range of the entangle and the guard drake with them was able to overcome the strength save DC to break free.

The entangled kobold was dispatched quickly whilst the other flew up and over the fighter to drop a rock on the fighters head. In the inter-meaning couple of rounds as the players chunked away at the guard drake’s HP and with the flames cleared the disturbed bats started making their way out of the cave past the players. I should have made the players and monsters run under some obscured vision rules but I didn’t think about it at the time.

Now though, the real combat of this chamber could take place. In the swarm of bats flying about them were 8 stirges, it should have been 10 but I only had 8 minis. I rolled for stirge attacks on every player, I didn’t bother with AC, I decided that the PCs would be unable to tell they were being attacked and it was more the randomness of the stirge’s actions to take into account. I rolled a d20 for each player I deemed to be in the effected area looking for above a 16 and only the Life cleric was afflicted. The rouge used his action to pull the stirge off of the cleric, I ran with grapple rules that the stirge was grappled by the rouge but not the other way around. The next round the stirge made it’s strength save and was able to disappear into the swarm of bats and another set of random rolls on the whole party this time, several good rolls this time meant the life cleric, rouge and druid were all afflicted with stirges.

The rest of the party were mostly focused on chipping away at the guard drake and remaining kobold. They were making good progress and to be fair the stirges are not really that large a threat. The rouge made a good call and cast Sleep centred on himself. The stirges only have 2HP (1d4) and so the sleep spell would take loads of them out however they were also fighting in a large swarm of bats. He rolled his dice and rolled pretty well, given the bats I halved the roll and he took out 7 of the stirges. This meant all the stirges latched into people fell asleep and stopped drawing blood and a few more fell out of the air along with a crap load of bats. In the next round the players finally took out the guard drake and were able to go around and coup de grace all the stirges without taking any further damage.

And that’s where we left if for the night, looking back I need to look more into the rules for cover and obscured vision. Also having the guards and kobolds attack down the 5ft wide corridor was not very strategic, I wouldn’t expect the kobolds to be particularly strategic, especially when being thrown into it by cult members. I’m not sure what else I could really do without throwing the entire dungeon at them but given that the group that went through to flank them last session didn’t return, and now the guards sent to investigate also didn’t come back I think some larger scale ambushes may be in order, I’ll probably take what would be room by room encounters and regroup them into more strategic areas, aware of and waiting for the players.