The Irregulars had followed the more experienced dragonborn Shamash into the empire the month before, seeking answers as to why the non-human settlements on the border were being left to fend for themselves instead of being defended by the human legions.
Not being humans themselves, the group had to find a way to get to the Imperial City. Zara had one such opportunity – the illegal underground fight circuit of The Crunch. The party has heard that the only real way into the legitimate coliseums (including the Grand Coliseum in the Imperial City) is to make a name in the illegal fights.
Upon arriving in the city of Caudium, Shamash left the party to fend for themselves as he went to find more information. For the last few weeks, the party has been fighting in individual and team matches against other rising stars. But tonight – where we picked up the action – the party had fought its way into the semi-finals against another team of four!
The ‘ring,’ as it were, was a basement underneath a building in the warehouse district. The floor above had a hole cut in it so spectators could watch the action below, and the action started right off!
We had the team detailed above, and their first opponent (an EL+0 encounter) consisted of an Elf Dune Strider with a pet Guard Drake, a Duergar Guard, a Wilden Hunter, and a Hejkin Chanter. Zara won first initiative, and got a critical javelin throw against the hunter right off the bat, which got her quite the approval of the crowd. Unfortunately, her party members didn’t get the signal and she was quickly surrounded by enemies and brought low into bloody (a charge crit from the Dune Strider for 20+ damage didn’t help there). The Dune Strider, with his bonus to charge and his double attack power did most of the damage in this fight. The Wilden Hunter could have done much more damage if he rolled higher than 2-3 on most of his attack rolls, but he did get a surprising round off against the Minotaur after his shift ability went off (+5 to next damage roll), then managed to hide (another +5 to damage), then hit the minotaur with a 10 on damage for a BIG hit against the beast.
All went as planned as the party quickly mopped up the opposing team in a bloodless match (even sparing the rage drake from death), then the Irregulars met with Gralannon during their short rest before the final match. He explained the next fight might be a little different, but to go ahead and go a little easy on the leader of the next group – don’t hurt him too bad, you see?
The half-orc enforcer (Gralannon’s right hand man) Crukas Bloodlet got the crowd into a frenzy with his announcement that the next fight would be TO THE DEATH (“Does Gralannon not give you what you demand? Does Gralannon not deliver?”). The party was a little surprised to hear that, and even more surprised to see their opponents.
The Champions of the ring consisted of a gang of bugbears and orcs, an EL+2 encounter designed to be a bit more challenging than the last. This one consisted of a bugbear thug as the ‘leader,’ with a bugbear strangler as the big threat (and he was!). To round out their crew, they had two Hobgoblin sentries (minions) a Hobgoblin Warmonger (who was AMAZING this fight), and an Advanced Hobgoblin Warcaster (who did some good damage as well).
Once again Zara got to go first, and she lodged another javelin in same as last time. And just the same as last time, she was charged by three of the enemy – the strangler and both minions. They managed some good damage on her, but Akra came up next and with her poison breath killed both minions but missed the strangler. The bard stayed in the back just about the entire fight, but with his Virtue of Cunning and ranged attacks did an amazing job of staying relevant. Asteron had some amazing tactical set ups, but couldn’t manage to roll higher than a 5 or a 6 most of the night. His player has never rolled a crit this entire campaign, and we’re already at level four – sorry man! His luck took a turn when he started to let the bard roll for any attacks he granted him, and some heavy damage got put on the Thug and the Strangler that way.
Things went downhill fast after the players did the one thing Gralannon told them not to do – they killed the Thug. The others came at them after that – the warcaster was able to recharge his shock staff just about every round and consistently landed 15-20 damage each time, plus dazing until the end of his next turn. The Warmonger (before the death of the thug) got off about the perfect Battlecry – all three front line fighters were shoulder to shoulder against the thug and the strangler, so each party member attacked another, which ended up almost bloodying the minotaur, and the thug and strangler each got a shot in plus some THP. From there it became a long, drawn out fight of party members falling. The bard brought Zara back twice with his Majestic Word, then ran around the battlefield administering healing potions as each front line fighter fell again and again. The couldn’t keep up with constant 15-20 from the warcaster, 10-15 from the strangler (who couldn’t get combat advantage for the life of him, but was kept alive at 1hp for about three rounds), and 14-17 from the warmonger.
Eventually the strangler was killed by the bard, right after he started choking out Zara, then Akra cornered the warcaster who failed on all of his recharges that round, so that was it for him, and the warmonger was cornered and killed soon after, but not before using nearly all the party’s healing resources. I believe the final count was 6 healing potions, 3 second winds, and 2 majestic words used.
Players – feel free to post your own impressions or character notes below the line!