Our heroes began at the top of a 20' ft staircase down. As they readied themselves knowing that their presence was alerted to the entire complex Bugbears appear from around the corners at the bottom of the staircase. Two Bugbears position at the bottom of the stairs with spears set for a change. Two additional Bugbears throw spears overhead and up at the party. Our party returns fire! Then the Fighter/Mage (Jeremy) breaks and charges. The Dwarven Fighter/Cleric (Gerry) follows. The Bugbears miss with their spears and the melee begins!
Swords meet Bugbear flesh, and Bugbears land hits in return. One Bugbear critically fails (1 on d20) and breaks his arm against the wall. One Bugbear falls from a decisive hit. More Bugbears fill in and the melee continues. Mages are casting what spells they have remaining, arrows rain down from the top of the stairs, spears are thrown back, and eventually the Bugbears fall to our heroes. But, at a cost of all but one sleep spell that remains. As our hero the Elven Thief/Mage (Tom) hold on to his last sleep spell, the party moves down the stairs and search the Bugbears.
The party splits to look in the room to the right, and as others stand at the intersecting hallways, the Human Fighter (Julian) peers out a new cave entrance. Instantly 10 female Bugbears rush the party from the East to avenge their fallen! Julian is trapped outside and alone. The three in the room are quickly surrounded, and the few at the intersection are engaged in melee. The Elven Fighter/Thief (Danielle) sets her spear to take the charge and runs the first Bugbear through! Our hero Tom who held on to one sleep spell, against party outcries from the previous battle, casts and all the Bugbears in the room and hallway drop! Our heroes battle further and their numbers quickly take control and the Bugbears seemingly last stand is countered. But wait, Bugbear young can fight too! Three young charge and two fall quickly. The third decides it is best to run and scampers down the cliff wall. Our party is wounded, without spells, and uncertain of what lies down the remaining hallways seek shelter in the chieftain's chamber for the night.
Rested, healed, and ready for more, our heroes explore the Bugbear tunnels further. They locate a common room and then down the stairs into a supply area with hallways and rooms filled with crates, food stuffs, water, etc. Jeremy finds a set of keys and two hallways. The party goes to the left and down. They see a huge iron bound door with a bar and it is locked. Obviously meant to keep something in. They open the door and find a room full of Gnolls, Hobgoblins, a Bugbear, and large Human chained and enslaved. Unsure of what to do, the party speaks to the human. He promises to aid them in battle if they free him. Jeremy does so quickly. Not only does he release the human, he quickly casts charm person and has just created a significant ally. The party members show concerned. Julian talks with the Bugbear and he too promises to aid the party if freed. The party is now split and a war of words (good roll playing!) begins between characters. Julian frees the Bugbear. The Elven Cleric (Ian), the Elven Thief/Mage (Steven) and Julian strongly discuss the ramifications of this act.
With attention on only their conversation, the Bugbear, moves away from these three and toward the door. The whole time the Hobgoblins and Gnolls are yelling in their languages to be freed as well. Julian wants to free them all. The Gnolls start to be unlocked and Ian decides it is best to close the door and leave them all in the room... Including Julian! The Bugbear sees this and grabs the door. With a strength equal to 17 he stops the Clerics progress. Steven, who is standing next to the Bugbear casts sleep on the room and is quickly grabbed (Critically d20) by the throat as the Bugbear defends his rescuer. Ian's dog cowers as it fails a reaction check. Ian casts hold person on the Bugbear. Failing his saving throw, Steven still in the now frozen grasp of the Bugbear falls over with the Bugbear. What a scene!!! While this was going on the Gnolls were released and make their way out of the area. Reaction check after reaction check makes the interactions seem all too real. Words are exchanged, and safe passage is eventually found as the Gnolls exit the tunnels.
Now Steven has freed himself from the grasp of the Bugbear. Held, not sleeping Steven begins to whack the Bugbear and can only do so much damage before the effects of the spell wear off. At this point Julian and the Bugbear team up and the party put their differences aside as the Bugbear appears to be a trusting ally.
The party finds another room filled with Orcs, Kobolds, Humans, and Elf, a Dwarf, and all are requiring rescue. One of the humans is a returning hero (Scott). He is a 1st level Ranger, and the newest member of our party! After a quick search they locate his belonging recently taken as he was captured only three days before by the Bugbears. What to do with all these people our heroes have rescued? Well, as good heroes do, our party prepares to return them safely to the Keep. But, how are they going to make it back to the Keep safely in the winter? Quick thinking and some good luck, they locate all the blankets, clothing, supplies possible and prepare for the week long trek back to the Keep.
Making it safely through the tunnels and out to the forest, the party begins the trip back. Once in the forest, the Bugbear takes leave and thanks Julian for his kindness. The first night a small pack of wolves causes minor injury to the party. However, it is clear that the hulking fighter they have rescued is a 4ht level fighter with exceptional strength and solid constitution. But, something is odd. He seems to have a berserker-type rage that sets in during battle. was he swinging at the Elven Fighter./Thief (Danielle) when they fought the wolves? The remainder of the evening is uneventful. In the morning, out party makes it out of the forest and back on the road to the Keep.
Note: A special thanks to Liz, who only wanted to observe and after volunteering to assist with the play of Tom's character the Elven Thief/Mage, who held on to the final sleep spell, she has decided to create her own character and join us for the continuing adventure on Thursday evenings! As it stand right now, we should have (9) nine adventuring heroes after returning to the Keep.
This is where we will begin... Hope to see you all next Thursday!