Guest Blog by Max Bryans
Our Cast of Players:
- Aaron (Dave Marasco): Human Priest, level 10.
- Albrecht (Alan Bates): Human Priest, level 10.
- Artan (Dave Marasco): Dwarf Warrior/Thief, level 6/9.
- Edward Nevar (Ricky Paginton): Human Paladin, level 10.
- Elfire (Max Bryans): Human Warrior, level 10.
- Kaji (Ian Andrews): Human Wizard, level 9.
- Patroclus (Jason Paginton): Human Warrior, level 10.
- Pioden (Craig Baynham-Evans): Elf Warrior/Wizard/Thief, level 4/8/8.
- Rashid (Max Bryans): Human Thief, level 10.
- Nogri: Human Warrior, level 2.
- Tal: Human Warrior, level 2.
- Uthilian: Elf Warrior, level 2.
- Vermox: Human Warrior, level 2.
Total XPs awarded from the previous session: 255,880
The watching Ogres pause, then clearly decide that enough is enough. Six of them (half their number) step forward toward their nearest pillar and with a plucking sound disappear and re-materialise next to Artan and Edward.
They swamp the pair and manage to connect with a flurry of massive blows from their huge, knobbly clubs. They tower over the pair of fighters and any uneducated onlooker would swear there was only one possible outcome. Elfire tries to move to assist Artan, but knows he does not have the time or legs to directly intervene, so he takes the opportunity to snatch a shot with the ogre sized crossbow he pillaged from the ogre priestess in the ‘living room’.
The unwieldy weapon spits out its massive bolt and sends it down the centre of the room towards one of the waiting ogres but midway the bolt disappears and vanishes from sight. There is then a loud ‘crump’ as it materialises further down the room and slams into a side wall. It seems the teleport effect in this room affects missiles too.
Whilst Elfire does this, Artan and Edward rally themselves and press a counter attack. They are hindered by the massive shields of the goat-ogres, but also assisted by their respective sizes and the blessings of the gods, after all, it’s easier to hit creatures this size! And they use these advantages to good effect. Artan cuts two of his three assailants down to size, and Edward beheads one of the three on him, but this offers only a little respite.
In the corridor things have not been static. Some of the rest of the party move to assist their colleagues. Rashid moves to the entrance of the room (doing his best to remain unseen), Patroclus moves in to support Artan, and Pioden does something very, very brave. Realising his missile weapon will be rendered useless by this chamber, he draws Elfire’s old and trusty Zweihander and, with a battle cry, charges in to try and support the beset Edward. But the pillars have a different idea for Pioden. With a ‘boing’, he is plucked from existence and re-deposited on the other side of the room by the third rank of pillars. As he re-materialises, he becomes distinctly aware that he is very much on his own.
Killing three of the half dozen ogres around them offers Artan and Edward a little respite, but only a little. Their opponents seem to be incredibly intelligent and, unlike their normally brutish brethren, adapt tactics to match the evolving battle scape. With a concerted push they press their size advantage over the pair. Despite their best efforts the two warriors are sorely beset. It is only though sacrificing their shields and desperate dodges do they survive, but enough blows land to make it clear their position is untenable. Edward especially is left barely conscious.
But respite comes from a surprising direction. The remaining ogres on the back wall have a choice. They could move to finish the two plate clad warriors in the corner, or turn upon Pioden who has (as if like manna from heaven) appeared not 20 feet from them. With grim resolve, and the well known hatred between ogres and elves, they decide upon the latter. Three of them step forward and teleport to surround the unlucky elf. With a battery of savage blows they smash and bash him repeatedly. Within seconds he is transformed from a nimble, lithe cyclone of destruction to a bloodied punch drunk boxer on his last legs.
Elfire sees this travesty unfolding and realises he is needed. Dropping his crossbow he changes direction and veers away from Artan and towards the besieged Pioden. There may be no love lost between the pair, but the battlefield is no time to play favourites. He makes it past the first run of pillars, but as he passes the second and it looks like he will make it, he is teleported back towards the first pillar by the entrance to the chamber.
There are now only four ogres who are not fighting and, having carefully weighted up their options, they decide it is time to act. They step forward and teleport to engage. A pair join the three assaulting Pioden and deliver some crushing blows, including one which he only just dodges that would surely have taken his head clean off. The last pair land next to Elfire and catch him off balance after his own jump. They press this advantage and it’s only his reflexes and armour which save him, but he is forced onto the defensive.
“Enough of this,” thinks Kaji as he leafs through the Book of (almost) All Spells. “Ah… CONFUSION… that might help. Or not,” he muses as he rips a page from the book. With a gesture and some concentration the magic flows from the page, through Kaji and into the chamber.
To recap for the reader, the occupants (characters and ogres alike) in the room already have much to worry about, such as mortal danger, the incessant outer dimensional whispers of despair in their heads and the small matter of the impending end of the world. But as Kaji casts the spell, all such matters briefly leave their minds and suddenly, just for a second, the chamber falls silent as they stop everything and forget where and who they are. For that second, you could hear a pin drop. Then, for most, reality comes crashing back suddenly. But for two of the ogres next to Pioden, Pioden himself and Patroclus, reality does not return. With glazed expressions they stop what they are doing, and either stand stock still in confusion or decide they have something else better to do. Patroclus is SURE he has misplaced a fishing hook and seems desperate to find it in his pockets, an ogre seems to decide now is the time to eat a mouse he has been saving, and the battered Pioden, ignoring everything, bends over and starts to polish his boots!
As the spell resolves, Rashid and Aaron enter the fray. The former tries to remain unseen, but is given away by the ‘pop’ of him being teleported to the far corner of the room, just behind one of the ogres besetting Pioden. Of all the places he would like to be, this is certainly not on Rashid’s list! Aaron is similarly stymied by the teleporting actions of the room. As he reaches out to try and heal Artan, he is transported to atop an ogre’s body next to Edward. The interference delays his casting.
There are now three distinct melees happening simultaneously in this forsaken chamber. Any semblance of strategy and tactics from the party is a distant memory. The ogres, however, seem to be operating like a well oiled, fighting machine.
The two ogres on Elfire press their advantage as the giant man tries to regain some form of initiative, but he is flat footed and by the time he has readied the Obsidian Greatsword his amour is battered from numerous blows and he is close to death. But Elfire is a wily opponent. He feigns a stumble to the floor to draw his opponents in then, with the last of his strength, rises and, jumping forward, commences an unstoppable sequence of swings with the Greatsword. Elfire’s mastery of the weapon is apparent and, with each blow delivering a vicious bolt of lightning, he soon cleaves through shields, armour and bone. In seconds, he has turned the fight around and stands, battered and barely alive, over his fallen foes.
The tide of battle is likewise turning in Artan and Edward’s favour. One of the ogres on them fumbles his shield and impedes both himself and his neighbour, a most fortuitous turn of events which is just in time, as it allows Artan and Edward to press home further desperate attacks and kill all but one of the remaining ogres around them. The odds are now two to one in their favour, just as well since the two warriors are now shield-less, dented and battered close to unconsciousness.
This leaves the third melee, which is most certainly not going in favour of our heroes. Of the five ogres surrounding Pioden, two are confused and useless, one is distracted by the appearance of Rashid and sets to him, and the remaining pair fall upon the hapless elf (who is trying to clean his boots!) and strike him unconscious and bleeding to the ground. It is clearly desperate, but the promise of reprieve comes from a most unlikely quarter. Completely by chance, and with a ‘pop’, the two clerics, Albrecht the Chosen and Aaron the Holy, materialise over Pioden’s body and next to Rashid respectively They had been trying to assist and, for once, the seemingly random nature of this chamber’s teleporting pillars works to their advantage. With quick prayers of thanks the two set to work and, as Albrecht stabilises Pioden’s broken form, Aaron heals some of Rashid’s wounds. The scared but brave little thief is not finished yet, he knows he has to buy Albrecht and Pioden more time. Ignoring the ogres whose attention he has, he jumps onto the back of the one looming with bloodied club over Pioden’s body. As he jumps he activates his flaming dagger and strikes straight into the kidneys of the unsuspecting ogre. He delivers a grievous wound, but this is no back-alley brawl and ogres are made of sterner stuff than city guards. With contemptuous ease, the ogre turns from Pioden, reaches behind himself and grabs Rashid by the head. With a flick he throws the thief onto the floor. The impact shatters Rashid’s legs, but he does not feel it, for the swing has broken his neck and killed him outright. His body comes to rest like a broken rag doll on the floor.
Kaji sees Rashid’s fall and curses to himself, but he does not have time to mourn. Gathering his concentration he dispels the confusion effect on Patroclus. As the spell dissipates, Patroclus in turn removes his hand from his pocket (the search for the fishing hook can resume later) and jumps to a defensive posture as he surveys the scene.
He sees Artan throwing his hammer at the last ogre next to the at-death’s-door Edward, but the teleporting pillars snatch the hammer from mid-air and it materialises behind the thrower. With the instinctive unconsciousness of the master, Artan’s hand snatches up and seizes it mid-flight. Without a second thought he throws again. Once more the hammer is snatched from reality, this time to reappear and drop to the floor on the other side of the chamber. With it now being too far from its owner, it lies there inert.
On the other side of the chamber, Elfire does not have time to congratulate himself. He finishes his opponents at the same time as the other ogres are knocking Pioden to the floor. One of them decides to confront the more pressing threat and leaves Pioden, Albrecht, Aaron and Rashid to the not so tender ministrations of his comrades. He starts a swing and steps towards the closest pillar. As he ‘pops’ up to Elfire with an explosion of displaced air he finishes his swing and catches the warrior square on the back of the head. With a crash the big man falls to the ground.
The battle field has changed beyond all recognition in the space of a few short minutes. In one corner is a battered and bloodied Artan and Edward, flanked by a recently awakened Patroclus. In the door way is a concerned looking Kaji. In another corner is an ogre standing astride Elfire’s fallen form, his club raised to deliver a coup de grace. And most desperate sight of all is the scrum in the far corner. Albrecht is standing defensively over Pioden’s barely breathing body. Aaron is likewise standing over Rashid’s twisted corpse. Around them are four ogres. Two are confused (and clearly not going to be much of a threat), but the last two are very much aware.
And with their fiendishly intelligent cunning, they choose their next targets and step forward.
To be continued…