“There’s No Rule Against Poisoning Minotaurs!”
By Dwip August 7, 2011, 5:22 am Comments (3) RSS Feed for this post

So, there comes a point in the life of every adventuring party wherein the DM realizes that perhaps the difficulty under which the players have been laboring has not, as the case may be, been particularly difficult enough. Similarly, there comes a point in the life of every dungeon crawl wherein the DM must ask themselves “Wouldn’t these legions of goblins team up to fight the party all at once instead of being strung out room by room?”

What follows is the tragic intersection of these two questions.

Our party remains:

Aukan, a 7+ foot tall goliath barbarian;
Davoren, human farmer priest/wizard of Helm the Watcher;
Gar Rotte, human thief;
Lord X, human paladin of Helm on a religious mission to protect Davoren;
Oscar the Magnicifent, halfling wizard, follower of Talos the Stormlord, and legend in his own mind;
Sancho, elven bard currently following Lord X and taking note of his crazy and somewhat unwise actions.

With NPC accompaniment by:

Yvette Tanislove, cousin of Lady Gilda and unwitting concubine of Lord X;
Gorbin Stalworth, former slaver guard captain and now unwitting prisoner of the party;
Glory, Lord X’s warhorse and 3 other assorted warhorses;
Cujo, Oscar’s riding dog;
Aukan’s 3 goats.

When last we left the party, they were camped in a cave leading into what was presumed to be the Underdark, resting and healing after several battles with hobgoblins above. Freshly healed in the morning, they set out, horses and all, only to make it about 350 yards before running into a large cave filled with slaves, hobgoblins, and a party of drow merchants. The encounter goes roughly like this:

Aukan: *lifts up Gorbin by the manacles* We have your captain! Negotiate or die!
Hobgoblins: *cowering*
Drow: the who with the what now?
Slaves: *look straight ahead, unblinking*
Lord X: Hello! We wish to negotiate!
Hobgoblins: *looking at Aukan and cowering*
Drow: what is this we don’t even
Slaves: *look straight ahead, unblinking*
Lord X: *trots horse closer to the drow* No, really! We want to find Lady Gilda Tanislove! We just want to look through your slaves!
Drow: Man, this is too messed up. *they attack*

Yes, Lord X is very much riding his horse through all these tunnels and rooms, and should be pictured as such.

The actual fight isn’t much account – drow are good combatants, but not after being acidballed by Oscar and ridden down by Lord X and Aukan. Oscar does get hit with a poisoned javelin, fails the DC 11 save, takes 6 Constitution damage, and feels none too healthy this whole time. Gorbin also does his best to escape while manacled, but is thwarted when Oscar picks up the hundred foot rope tied to the manacles, ties it to his dog, and drags Gorbin on back. One drow does escape, but one luckless cowering hobgoblin survives and is taken prisoner by the party, wherein the following occurs:

Lord X: Slaves! We have come to free you!
Slaves: *look straight ahead, unblinking*
Lord X: *undaunted, turns to the hobgoblin* Hobgoblin! You wish to join our side, yes?
Aukan: *looms menacingly*
Hobgoblin: *look confused* (doesn’t speak Common)
Lord X: *starts pantomiming*
Hobgoblin: *looks really confused*
Aukan: You, hobgoblin. Guard the slaves. (in Goblin)
Hobgoblin: …ok…

Discussion occurs to the effect of “What are we supposed to do with these 30 odd slaves, anyway?” “Let’s just stick them in back with the goats.”

At this point, the marching order is something like:

Aukan, leading Gorbin
Lord X, mounted
Yvette Tanislove
Oscar, mounted on dog
Davoren, leading horse
Sancho, leading horse
Gar Rotte, leading horse
Aukan’s 3 goats
30-something slaves
Hobgoblin prisoner

The tunnel is 10 feet wide at this point.

“Is this an adventuring party, or the circus?”

The drow having fled down the larger of two exit tunnels from the cave, they ask Gorbin the proper path, and he leads them down the smaller of two tunnels, past a portcullis, through which they can hear assorted yipping, barking, and howling. Gorbin delays a short while, at which point the party begins singing random songs to “boost his morale.”

(No, really.)

While all this is going on, from a masonry hall down the way a bit burst two bugbears wielding halberds, who begin running away from the party, to little apparent concern on their part.

Eventually Aukan decides that perhaps he ought to check this out, and moves by himself down the tunnel, only to spot a phalanx of bugbears at the other end. He yells and charges, running headlong into the set polearms and taking non-trivial amounts of damage for his efforts. He also illuminates a fairly large open area filled with about 20 goblins with bows and morningstars.

Fighting occurs.

Lord X runs up and begins attacking, and Sancho drops a Grease spell on top of the bugbears. Gar attempts to leap up on top of the horses and run on top of them, which fails dramatically and dumps him on his face (he also tried this horse running trick in the drow fight, to the same results). Oscar provides spell support, and the party begins whittling down these rather tougher than usual goblins (they were all 4th-level warriors, not 1st-level). Somewhat hampered by the grease, Lord X and Aukan plow forward through the horde, rounding the corner at the end of the tunnel…

…and revealing about 15 more goblins and 3 werewolves. Aukan comes close to being overrun and slain, but Lord X obliviously plows through the goblins, laying about him left right and center (23 AC will take you far). The rest of the party begins moving up…

…and a web spell drops over top of Lord X, Aukan, Oscar, and Sancho, trapping none of them but hampering their movement severely. Nevertheless, they continue plowing through goblins, when suddenly Sancho takes two thrusts from a sword, drops unconcious, and reveals a female elf standing over him (Markessa, if you know your A2. This is taking place in the open area around area 27).

Oscar, moving forward to protect Sancho, manages to both wound the elf and trip her prone via the dog, wherein she is relatively quickly slain. He then goes on to take a poisoned drow javelin and poison a werewolf, who is dropped shortly thereafter.

Some amount of grinding later, the party is triumphant if heavily wounded, and retreats to a nearby room, which appears to be a mess hall. Jamming the 30 foot long oak tables against the doors, they manage to somehow crowd themselves, Yvette, the dog, 4 horses, 3 goats, and 30 docile slaves inside the room. At some point during the fighting, the hobgoblin prisoner took off, while Gorbin attempted to flee down a side passage (the one the bugbears came out of), entered a sumptuous bedroom, and got stabbed in the face by an insane elf woman who then stood over the body wailing and screaming until Aukan cut her down.

“Wait, there’s two of them?”

At this point, the party attempts to rest and camp, while the DM ponders. Sure, the rest of the dungeon IS overcomable working room by room, but would they REALLY let them do that? Probably not.

*THUD* *CRACK* *a large spike appears through the northern door to the room*

In general alarm, people begin donning armor, gathering weapons, and waking up while others attempt to get the slaves out of the way, who are mostly just standing around in front of the doors like particularly unintelligent sheep (which they pretty much are).

*THUDCRACK* *part of the door breaks off, revealing a minotaur with a huge morningstar*

Lord X: I take one of Oscar’s poisoned drow javelins and attempt to stab the minotaur.
DM: Aren’t you a paladin?
Lord X: There’s no rule against poisoning minotaurs!
DM: …

Minotaurs make their DC 11 fort saves with ease, however, and then proceed to smash the door down, spraying Sancho and Lord X with splinters, cleave their way through the table, and then fall to massed fire from the party.

“Well, that was bad.”

*goblins begin pouring in*

Ten goblins begin attempting to force their way in the north door, while at the south door yet more goblins begin breaking down the door. Sancho stabilized the situation relatively early by casting another Grease spell, while Aukan decides to hurry the goblins along by busting down the south door himself, whereupon Oscar casts a Wall of Smoke, obscuring the exit. Two goblins fight and die to Aukan and the dog, while the rest flee.

Meanwhile, the northern goblins resort to bows against Lord X after Davoren lights several of them on fire by lighting up the Grease with a Burning Hands. This tactic is mostly unsuccessful on the goblins’ part, since Lord X is, quite literally, a tank. A stalemate of sorts occurs until the Grease and the Wall of Smoke run out.

Lord X: *bangs his head on the door, but rides out into the hall to face the goblins*
Several bugbears and an elf male in full plate: *charge*
Aukan: *charges through the southern room to the hall*
Southern goblins with halberds and banded mail: *thoroughly stab Aukan in the face and other moderately unpleasant places*

“Triplets!? How many of these look-alike elves are there?”

While Lord X more or less single-handedly holds off the entire northern front with a well-timed Color Spray by Davoren and some dueling by Gar, the southern front is much more touch and go: despite some initial winning by Aukan, eight goblins with polearms is a lot, and he goes down, at -21 hit points after his rage ends.

At this point, Oscar, who had been reduced to throwing non-magical darts at people, has his dog run up and provide cover for Aukan while he shoves healing potions down his throat, putting him at precisely 0 hit points. The dog lasts all of a round, whereupon Oscar dumps a healing potion into it and drops a globe of darkness into the hallway. This gives enough cover for the dog to drag Aukan to safety and for Oscar to get out of the line of fire.

Meanwhile, Lord X cleans up with a little help from his friends, then takes down the few remaining goblins from the southern band and causes another 15 odd normal goblins to run in abject terror, ending the fight.

At the end of the day, the party fought some 50 goblins (all 4th level warriors), 8 bugbears, an advanced minotaur, the elf fighter, and the elf mage, not to mention 3 werewolves, in two very lengthy combats, which I revealed to them as being essentially every single monster in all of the dungeon half of A2. At various points, two PCs came very close to death (Aukan twice), along with the dog.

Yeah, we’re still in A2. 75% circumvention circumvented. But not for too much longer, and they got a shortsword of speed out of the deal, so everybody’s happy.

Dungeons and Dragons Comments (3) Trackback URL for this post RSS Feed for this post
Comments on “There’s No Rule Against Poisoning Minotaurs!”
avatar Comment by Gormican #1
August 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm

So much of X’s dialogue is missing here it saddens me, but lets be honest about what has happened here. Clearly Helm in his wisdom chose to send one of his mightiest warriors to aid the party.

Glory the Warhorse

The Horse really is far mightier than any other member of the party and definitely X’s intellectual superior.

avatar Comment by Gordzilla #2
August 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm

You forgot that Aukan now owes a life debt to the dog. Oscar is still a flamboyantly dressed untrustworthy Downlander.

avatar Pingback by The Ravings of Demented Rabbits » On Fifteen Foot Wide Tunnels #3
September 4, 2011 at 3:55 am

[…] Previously on Highlander, the party killed somewhere between “many” and “a whole lot” of goblins, bugbears, advanced minotaurs, psychotic deranged elven women, and the odd other assorted beastie. With a bodycount that high, you can’t really be expected to keep track, can you? […]

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