Session 3 continued from here
Aha - high elf sorcerer
Darrien - human cleric of Pelor
Erevan - high elf rogue
Rajabu - dwarf fighter
Aha, Darrien, and Rajabu woke up in a cold cell carved out of the unforgiving stone, a set of earthen steps leading up to a stout wooden door the only feature in their prison cell. All of their gear and armor was gone. With them were three other unfortunates, a young girl, an emaciated looking wretch with long braided hair, and a very short, old dwarf.
The PCs were here on a mission from the Anvilar town militia, to bring back captives that the orcs had taken during a recent raid, or bring back there remains if found. So I rolled a d6 to determine how many living captives would be in the cell with the PCs when they awoke. To quickly determine their composition, I used the DMMuse tavern generator, which spits out "tables" of patrons with race, age, and brief notes on their personalities. It turns out the girl was a horse trainer and the dwarf a restaurant owner in town. For the other prisoner, I decided to change things up a little. He wasn't brought here from the recent raid, rather, he was a slave that had toiled for the orcs for some time, brought from the frontier up north. He had been broken down physically, and the orcs dumped him here since he was of little further use as a slave. My thinking was that the PCs could gain some info about what was going on with the orc mobilization up north by talking to him. Turns out they eventually did much more than talk to him, but I'll save that for later!
The wounded and aching heroes licked their wounds and learned what they could from the other captives. Before nightfall, their orc captors provided "dinner", some scraps and bones with a little meat left on them, and dirty but palatable water in leather skins. Rajabu had the clever idea to try and fashion the bones into some kind of improvised shank.
I like it when players come up with imaginative uses for mundane items in the game, and I had no problem with providing them some "improvised weapons" as a result of this epiphany.
A few hours after dinner, a band of armed and armored orcs, about eight of them, opened the cell door and pointed to Rajabu, demanding that he come with them.
Here I rolled randomly to see which captive the orcs would call for first. By the way, I always make all rolls in front of the players, unless it's something that I really need to keep secret. This adds to the feeling that I'm running a fair game. The orcs' plan was they would take one captive out each night, and exchange that captive for a ghoul, in the landing between levels. This was the agreement that the invading orcs imposed on the ghouls. The orc shaman needed the ghouls in order to produce thouls. These orcs were tasked with building up a thoul army for an eventual invasion force.
Rajabu met the creatures near the doorway of the cell, and promptly tried to knock the battle axe out of the lead orc's hands.
I ruled that he had to make a successful to-hit roll, and then gave the orc a Dexterity saving throw to keep hold of the weapon. Rajabu succeeded and the orc failed, so the battle axe fell to the floor with a clunk.
Rajabu dove for the battle axe. Apparently that improvised bone shank wasn't good enough for him! The two orcs in the front rank did likewise.
This called for a Dexterity contest between Rajabu and the orc. Since there was another orc helping, I gave the orc advantage on the roll. Rajabu got lucky.
The dwarf surfaced, gripping the axe for dear life, wresting himself away from the grasping claws of the orcs. A furious melee began in the cell, as Aha and Darrien joined the battle, the sorcerer with her magic, and Darrien wielding a crude piece of bone that had been sharpened on the wall of the cell.
The PCs managed to do much better than I thought they would, being unarmed and all. A few orcs went down, but then my cold dice rolling began to improve, and then the sorcerer got bit by her own spell!
Aha was grasping at orcs, discharging crackling bursts of electrical power that shocked and burned the creatures. But, in the heat of the battle, the whims of magic twisted her intent. Rather than harm an orc with her spell, the magical power became absorbed into the beast, who promptly turned and grabbed at her, shocking her with a tremendous bolt of electricity, causing her to slump to the ground.
I've been playing with a house rule of at-will spell fumbles, and Aha's player had rolled a 1. She decided to take a chance on the spell failure table, and rolled a 10. We now had an orc with at-will Shocking Grasp!
This was the tipping point for the orcs, and the better armed and armored monsters beat the heroes down with the handles of their battle axes.
I decided to go with non-lethal damage for the battles in the prison cell. After all, the orcs wanted to turn the captives over to the ghouls alive. The D&D Next non-lethal damage rules let me work this into the fiction pretty painlessly.
Aha and Darrien woke the next morning, their bodies aching and heads pounding. The short, old dwarf shook his head disapprovingly. Their friend Rajabu was not among them.
Session 3 continued here