For this session, we lost the services of two players. One was on vacation and the other couldn't make it for some reason. We gained the services of a new player, John, who typically plays in my face-to-face group. He seemed to fit right in with everyone else, and particularly so with Bear. They both have characters with the surname "Jenkins." (a la "Leroy Jenkins" of Internet fame. Just Google it, if you haven't seen it before.)
Despite our discussion after last session about limiting the number of PCs per character, the loss of Gabriel's PCs, the wizard formerly known as Ian, in particular, must have daunted the players. They didn't want to leave anyone behind, so we had sixteen PCs for this session:
Doug Fleagle-1st level Warrior
Scooter Jenkins- 1st level Cleric
Sophia - 1st level Thief
Chuck Smidgeon - 1st level Warrior
Banvha - 1st level Halfling
Absalom - 1st level Elf
Aram - 1st level Cleric
Caifenn - 1st level Cleric
Clave - 1st level Warrior
Denny - thief
Jerkal - wizard
Xalto - cleric
Vane Barbute - 2nd level Warrior
Smolken, zealot of Ahriman - 1st level Cleric
Scrum Jenkins - 1st level Thief
Abel Ashencamp - 1st level Wizard
Question: Could Scrum Jenkins and Scooter Jenkins be related? Inquiring minds want to know!
Yeah, so these guys were fresh from combat with some god-awful monsters including degenerate serpent men and chaos serpent blobs, the the former of which can be pesky and the latter of which are some tough sons-of-bitches. Everyone was pretty much healed, but some of the clerics had increased their disapproval ranges and some of the wizards had lost spells. Ol' Sucker the egg-sucking hound was paralyzed. Magical healing did the trick and put him back in action.
I began by providing them with a reminder of their options. You can continue downward into the depths of the temple, or you can head back up to rest and/or check out those doors you ignored last session. They (of course) charged ahead, right into more peril. Peril, of course, was in good supply for this session.
Denny and Scrum (the thieves) crept ahead of the group to check out a corridor leading off from the room they started in. One of them managed to fumble at being sneaky. This draw unwanted attention from some creatures in the next room. A degenerate serpent man crept into sight, then another. They thought maybe it'd be a good idea to fall back into the other room so they wouldn't end up with another bottleneck situation in the narrow corridor. In fact, this time they came up with a Clever Plan: Instead of getting strung out in the corridor, they'd fall back into the room they came from and lay in wait until their enemies arrived, catching them in an envelopment from all sides. Then, of course, the Clever Plan fell apart.
A new and even more fiendish foe came on the scene, the True Serpent Man.
True Serpent ManRun True Serpent Men as intelligent creatures with knowledge of the terrain. If they feel the tide is turning against them, they will attempt to flee into the jungle to rest and recover, using Degenerate Serpent Men that might have survived to cover their escape. They also will wait for opportune times to attack (e.g. night time, from ambush, etc.).Init +3; Atk bite +4 melee (1d4 + poison DC 15 Fort to avoid paralysis) or as weapon +4 melee; AC 14; HD 1d10+2; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP Infravision 50 feet; Venomous Bite (paralytic); 1d3 Spells (roll d6 for each, ignoring repeated results): (1) Curse (2) Darkness (3) Ray of Enfeeblement (4) Scorching Ray; (5) Force Manipulation; (6) Binding; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +3; AL L.
I ended up running them as stupider than the description, but at that point we'd been in battle for about 2 hours it seemed like. Here's why.
One of the TSM cast Darkness in the corridor where the thieves and, by then, Vane had congregated. This cut them off from the rest of the party. So, everyone pretty much abandoned the Clever Plan and went with their usual strategy of running toward the enemy in a mob, and cutting them into little bits. This worked, mostly, but Ol' Sucker the egg-sucking hound got done like Ol' Yeller (i.e., put down like a rabid dawg, for you youngsters). Similarly, Vane got critted by one of the degenerate serpent men. It was ugly. He totally got aced by that pathetic creature. Luckily one of the clerics managed to resuscitate him before the clock ran down, so he will live to fight again, but with one less Stamina.
The true serpent men couldn't cast a spell to save their lives and the only real trouble lay in killing the chaos serpent blobs. Eventually, they managed to kill everything in sight, and entered the next room. There, they found an empty sarcophagus and some weird machinery. Vane played with some of the levers on one of the machines, but it didn't seem to do much (that he could tell) beyond changing the pitch of the humming coming from the equipment in the room. Denny investigated the sarcophagus and found that the interior showed evidence of claw marks--shallow, but gouged into the stone. He also located the chest in which Balas Forktongue had found the Serpent's Eyes, which now were upstairs in the Serpent God statue.
They also found two doors. The first door led to a partially collapsed room with some odd, roundish platforms with partly hollowed-out tops. These were roughly eight feet across. They also found some human corpses, and looted them of treasure. There wasn't much else in the room. The other door was a massive double door. Denny checked and found a trap. He disarmed it and pushed open the door, revealing a downward sloping corridor. At this point I made it clear that they had other options besides heading downward. Surprisingly they decided to head back up to the main part of the temple.
Once upstairs, Denny and Scrum decided it would be a good idea to steal the Serpent's Eyes from the giant, two-headed statue of the Serpent God. Denny (I think) tried to pry one of them out of the silvery metal socket in which it was fitted, using the ceremonial blade he found at the site of Balas Forktongue's ritual murder. This... was a mistake. He got a nasty shock and activated the statue. From the adventure as-written:
Giant, two-headed, cyclopean snake idol. Looks like twin cobra heads, but with only one large eye in each head. The eyes glow with a baleful red light. Any attempt to remove them... will result in activating the statue's defensive eye beam weapons.Stats for Serpent God StatueRange 80 feet; Init +3; Atk eye rays (Missile +3, dmg 1d6+5); AC 20; HD 2x 8d8 (36 hp each head); MV 0; Act 2d20; SV n/a; AL n/a.
Each head covers a 270 degree arc of the Main Temple. While they can be brought to bear on anything within those overlapping arcs, the base of the pedestal and the doors leading into the pedestal and down to Level 2 are not targetable.
Using a mirror, Scrum attempted to reflect the eye beams. He lost that hand and took damage. So, mirrors do not protect from these. John sent his characters toward the other set of doors, the ones they had not opened the first time they visited this room. Everyone else tried to run/hide.
One good thing came out of this, though. The statue fumbled a to-hit roll, and the result was damage to the weapon wielded. I determined that the socket Denny had pried at had overloaded, and, in a spray of sparks, the head shut down, the eye falling from the now-melted socket.
And that was where we left off.
An observation: This is still far, far too many PCs to manage. We really ought to do something about that.