Week 9 – The One Where We Run Away

So once more unto the fray – and the dank and dismal tunnels beneath our target’s estate. With the smell of the deceased slime lord beastie firmly in our noses, we pressed on – aware that stopping now to regroup and relearn spells would be playing into the hands of the wizard. We had already spotted ample sign that the tunnels were periodically flooded, so based on how many traps we’d already encountered, it seemed wise to assume that the threat of this happening again couldn’t be shrugged away.

Finding a minotaur behind a secret door in the maze was entirely appropriate – although it withered noticeably under the blades of the fighters who simply outclassed it – and we were more perturbed by what we found as we continued deeper. The bodies of creatures of all shapes and sizes were liberally strewn through the next set of corridors. Dragons, serpents, orcs and less readily identifiable creatures could all be found in various stages of decay with many signs of physical and magical harm on them.

I’d like to say that we moved quietly and stealthily through, but that would be a lie – frankly there were too many of us dressed in heavy armour for that to happen.

We briefly caught sight of a gaunt armoured figure with a huge silver sword, but it quickly vanished and we came face to face with the true threat in this labyrinth – the trapped demigod of minotaurs, who was distinctly unhappy about being there, but rather happy to have new toys to play with.

My mage was immediately somewhat mortified to realise that the demigod was totally immune to magic. The paladin was immediately torn between tactical common sense and his geas to fight the creature. Everyone else was suddenly in need of a change of trousers from the mindnumbing terror that overtook them.

At this point the game evolved from the relatively simple dungeon crawl to one of cat and mouse, where we (barely) fought off the enraged demigod, and then tried to find another exit from the labyrinth between beatings. With psionics and physical attacks lashing on all quarters, it was something of a relief to find ourselves face to face with another party of evil characters who had also been drawn into the maze.

Now there’s something about facing off against other characters in-game rather than standard monsters that concentrates the minds of players. I think it’s mostly because we know just how devious and devastating player character abilities are, as well as how varied, and so they are seen as a more potentially devastating set of opponents. In addition, there are many more opportunities for synergy between skill sets and magical abilities that can totally blindside a group more used to facing a homogenous set of opponents in any given encounter.

In practical terms this lead to a moment’s confusion as we came face to face and realised that they were a dark reflection of our own team’s composition; a very brief attempt at communication to see if there was any chance of cooperation; and then an attempt to exterminate them with extreme prejudice.

It all got a bit messy, and in the background we could hear the amused laughter of the minotaur god. We ended our session victorious in this battle, but well aware that there was still a long haul and a lot of running to do.

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