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August 14th, 2005

And the Walls Come Tumbling Down [gaming]

Once again, my players went after the primary plot point with laser-like precision. Sent on another "rescue the merchant's daughter" mission, they found the evil cult's hideout during last week's "grab a quick session while we can." So tonight they found out that the cult was working up some kind of a ceremony (aren't they always?) and instead of poking around the varied and fascinating temple areas, they just kept listening at every door until they heard some room with a lot of people in it, finessed their way in, and let fly with the slings and arrows.

Well, interrupting a major ceremony in an evil temple is always bad, and for some reason tends to cause the temple to come crashing down. True to "That was a load-bearing villain!" form, about 4/5 of the way through the battle the ground below the temple began shaking ... a few rounds later, massive chunks-o-masonry started falling from the ceiling, squooshing NPCs where they stood and pounding away at PCs as they attempted to extricate themselves from the situation and flee. (They still haven't discovered why the temple started to collapse specifically ... it was just an extremely localized earthquake as far as they could tell.)

All very well and good, and certainly exciting ... but again, they bypassed half of the scenario. All those unopened doors in the temple that will never be explored now ... the treasury they didn't loot ... the library full of interesting long-term plot clues they didn't delve into ... the disgusting torture-chamber-guard they didn't, well, get disgusted by... Alas!

Still, I gotta give them credit, it was a tough fight they went running into, and given how badly the dice were treating them, they managed to pull it off without any fudging on my part. jamesbarrett's wizard got hit right at the beginning by a confusion spell that more or less took her out of the fight ... and given that she's their Big Gun in terms of massive, group-killing damage, this was quite a blow to their capability.

There was a particularly fun moment worth noting: In a room near the entrance, after descending a corridor filled with trap after trap, they came upon a room with magic statues and a glowing archway -- obviously bad news, right? Right! So the party spent a good ten minutes poking around the room, waiting for a monster to jump out and say "Boo!" or whatever, but nothing happened. One of the pillars of the arch had a small handle on it, so finally camstone's ranger Jaer tied a rope to the handle and they all fled to the far corridor. Crouching bravely out in the hall, Jaer yanked on the rope -- and ferociously opened a closet! This left the group giggling for several minutes. The good news is, the closet contained robes they needed to pass through the archway without being disintegrated by a magical trap, so it was hardly a wasted effort.

The other big laugh of the evening came when pholph, scouting ahead down another corridor, made a listen check to determine if there was anything around the corner, only to be rewarded with a voice saying, "Crap, I got it all over me!" Apparently, having been expecting to hear the snarling of a monster or something, this rather pedestrian exclamation smacked him square between the eyes, leaving him blinking in a decidedly "WTF?" manner. Turns out it was a cultist, upset because she'd spilled wine all over herself. Just because you're evil, doesn't mean you can't be a clutz!

Anyway, it was a fun evening, if a way-long one. What I expected was that this evening they'd explore more of the temple, and then at the next session we'd have the big dust-up in the ceremonial chamber. But once they got it in their heads to Crash Ceremony or Bust, the game pretty much had to go until they were back out again.

-The Gneech

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