Sunday, March 2, 2014

D&D Session 33: And Two More Shall Take Its Place

(Continued from Session 32)

The party, with its full contingent of spiders, weapons, and comrades, set off from Lucky Village toward the Tyrant's Pass, with vague notions of leaping from the cliff with their goods in order to shave off more time from their journey.

Along the way they pass through another human city, in which Sonny, their elf companion whom they've bribed into coming along, happily pays for their lodgings and meals.

That night, the party reveals their knowledge of Robert and Zelda's plot to extort money from him. Sonny is amused by the thought, and thanks the party for letting him know, since it seemed like the plan may well have worked. Rather than punishing the pair for a crime they've not yet committed, though, Sonny opts to keep quiet about his knowledge and simply foil their plans by not falling for Zelda's seductions.

A couple of days later, the party arrived at the cliff overlooking Tyrant's Pass. It soon became clear that the Feather Fall plan wouldn't work, mostly due to the spiders and their heavy loads. The timid creatures were unable to lower themselves down a cliff as large as this one, even if they weren't bearing hundreds of pounds of weaponry, so they needed handlers to take them down the treacherous staircase leading down into the murky swamp below.

Luckily, the party managed to get down without incident, despite the heavy rot of the staircase. The swamp was filled with alligators, snakes, and other creatures, but they all seemed content to let the party pass unmolested.

Eventually the path disappeared completely beneath a small, shallow lake. Tyriron yelled for their friend Helvetica, but her could not answer, being a hundred miles away or so. However, the noise attracted the attention of a creature in the lake: a dragon-like head emerged from the placid waters and stared at the loud halfling for a while before slipping back under the water.

Finally seeing the opportunity to get rid of Robert (and because he seemed pretty gung-ho about it), the party sent their resident Awful Human Being to test out the lake first. The lake seemed to only be a foot deep or so along the path, so Robert was having an easy time of it until, about half way across, the dragon-like head popped out again. The axe-wielding warrior stopped at that point and verified if they wanted him to keep going.

At that point, other party members walked out, one at a time, to where Robert was. Each time, a new head emerged from around the same place as the first, until finally there were four heads watching various party members.

Having gotten a better idea of what they were up against, the party allowed Robert to continue across on his own. Then, naturally, an 8-headed hydra emerged from the water and attacked Robert. The hapless warrior was beaten and bloody before anybody could blink, though he managed to withdraw before he got completely ripped to pieces. Soon, heads were rolling as magic, arrows, and swords targeted the beast's various business ends. Though Akito's icy sword and Buck's pyromancy seemed to be doing permanent damage, many of the wounds were healing as fast as they were inflicted. Worse, when a heads was chopped off or otherwise killed, eventually two heads would burst from the stump.

After receiving some healing from Buck (the unlikeliest of sources), Robert threw himself back into the fray and got right up into the hydra's business. Through brute strength and luck, he turned the tide of the battle the landed the finishing blow. Although he seemed to be in a somewhat sour mood, having watched his plan fall apart as Sonny refused to take Zelda's bait, playing a critical role in the defeat of the hydra seemed to bring his mood right back to insufferable levels.

And so the party continued to work their way out of the swamp until, finally, they set up camp and ended the session.


As a side note, I should point out that this is the third hydra I've ever used as a DM, and this is the closest it ever came to almost being dangerous. Granted, I was using Sunder incorrectly in this battle, which is what's usually required to sever a hydra's head, but I don't think it would have made a huge difference. Regardless, the hydra died due, in large part, to a critical hit from an NPC's greataxe, in addition to a few other solid hits from that same NPC. So, really, it wasn't as huge nor hard-won of a victory for the party as it should have been.

The previous hydra, back in the later-half of the Grania campaign, faced off against a party that was simply overmatched for that thing. That one, too, was defeated by an NPC: a single Meteor Swarm from the mage Priscilla eradicated the poor creature before it probably even realized it was in battle.

The first hydra was at basically the very beginning of my first campaign ever, an enemy that would probably have wiped the party out in a straight fight. Unfortunately for it, though, the beast was asleep, and a rogue was able to sneak in a coup de grace it without so much as an initiative roll.

So, in my experience so far, hydras make for very anticlimactic battles. However, I'm still pretty sure that's an issue with the way I've used them, and not a statement about the monster itself. They're just pretty tricky to use, is all.

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