Continued from Session 4 here
Aha - high elf sorcerer
Darrien - human cleric of Pelor
Erevan - high elf rogue
Rajabu - dwarf fighter
The heroes and their ghoul/thoul allies entered a large chamber dominated by a slimy pit. Orcs approached them from the ledge around the pit, and five ravenous ghouls snarled from the bottom. The heroes sensed a subtle shift of mood from their undead companions. Glustinok the ghast was reinforcing his influence over the thouls by continuing to speak to them in orcish, the only language that they apparently understood, and was becoming more distant from the heroes.
I told the players that the ghouls and thouls were no longer theirs to command, but were falling back into the DM's hands. The "wargame" exercise was over.
At the same time, Darrien (the cleric of Pelor) was feeling an increased distance from his deity. He surmised that the tacit cooperation with the undead was the cause of this gulf.
Indeed. And, mechanically, I told Darrien's player that his spell rolls would suffer disadvantage during this session as a result of this.
And so it was that the group confronted six advancing orc warriors, three coming at them from either side of the pit below. At this point, from the darkness at the other side of the chamber, they heard a confident woman's voice proclaim: "Warriors of Anvilar, I am here! Get me out of this place!"
A very good Wisdom check last session and the PCs recognized this as Lady Alba, a noblewoman from Anvilar. Rajabu told the party about this woman's suspected proclivity with carnal consortations with orcs, so here presence here was quite suspect.
Darrien bravely(?) stepped forward toward the mouth of the pit, extending his holy symbol which was radiating a holy glow, to illuminate more of the chamber. From his other hand sprang a brilliant shaft of concentrated light, directed toward one of the approaching creatures. He began to feel Pelor's absence more acutely as the beam strayed far off the mark, and glanced off a hideous bas relief of a demon face on the chamber's wall.
Disadvantage does suck!
The first unit of orc defenders closed on him quickly, and the one in the front rank grabbed Darrien by the shoulders and brutally shoved him toward the ledge of the ghoul pit.
The newest D&D Next playtest package contains rules for a few more specific combat related actions, like pushing an opponent, grabbing, and breaking free from a grab. These are implemented as simple Ability Contests, which is what I had been doing all along anyway. The push, for example, is a Strength Contest versus either Dexterity or Strength (defender chooses). Darrien had a higher Dexterity than Strength, so he naturally chose this Ability to try and avoid the orc's shove, but the dice were not with him.
Darrien attempted to squirm out of the orc's grasp, but he instead felt the iron fingers of the creature mercilessly sink into the flesh of his arms, and felt himself propelled toward the gaping pit, powerless to stop it. He slid down the slimy pit wall and fell on his face in the mud below, and the five hungry ghouls that had been kept there immediately pounced. In a matter of seconds Darrien's cries ended, as the ravenous, unholy creatures tore through his armor and began ripping the cleric to shreds.
Since the last session, WotC has included ghoul stats in the D&D Next Bestiary. The Next Ghouls have about double the hit points as what I had given them. While I had the claw/claw/bite, and the effect of their paralysis very close, their attacks now did a bit more damage than I had statted previously. With Darrien's figure slumped against the wall, it looked like four of the ghouls could get attacks in, at advantage since he was prone. I started tracking his negative hit points on the battle map with tick marks, but after the fourth or fifth hit, it was academic. The cleric was sailing into the next life. I think that will make the players think twice next time before sauntering up to the edge of a pit.
It was time to hand Darrien's player the dice to start rolling up a new PC. Actually, this worked out well overall. Originally, Darrien's player had taken the character over from another player who had to leave the game after the first session, so he did not have a high level of investment in the cleric. But, his new character would be a different story, and I would soon learn that his investment level in his new cleric of Zagyg would be quite high!
Session 5 continued here