Before heading downstairs, the party decided to check out the crypt to see if maybe that was where the portal to the Shadowfell was. Instead, they found undead. Lots and lots of undead. Endlessly regenerating undead, in fact. Weak undead, though, so they managed to kill them all and press on long enough for them to find the altar where a short prayer to Bahamut read off the wall in Draconic stopped the spawning.
Through the door was the crypt of the Lord of the Keep whose betrayal had led to the keep's fall, so long ago. The party talked him down from fighting them, and promised to close the rift -- so he let them have his magic sword, Arinar, in the hopes that with it they could redeem his spirit...
GM: "It's just a +1 sword, though."
Tom: "*laughs* Here it was all cool, a magic item with a name! And you go and ruin it by telling us that."
GM: "You guys are a bit behind on treasure, I'll upgrade it a bit."
Which kind of missed the point. But who can turn down a free treasure upgrade?
The only person who'd really been hurt by the crypt's undead was Aliera (the Warlock's new name now that he was female, since Ed could never remember that Sam was a girl, and everyone was too lazy to pick out a new mini for one of them) who'd been full on healing surges, so they pressed on to the third level.
Where they got their butts kicked by hobgoblins.
It started out inauspiciously -- bottled up on the stairs, with Sam and Shanarea forming the front line with Vexx and Bore trapped behind them. But they managed to break through, and even toss one of the hobgoblins into the well in the middle of the room, although it climbed out on the next round. 30 foot climb out of a slippery well? One round, if you make your check! Apparently.
The hobgoblins were nasty in other ways, too -- their opportunity attacks slowed people, so when Bore tried to circle around behind to flank with Vexx, and got hit, he didn't manage it that round. Their AC was really high -- higher than anyone in the party except Bore, and even higher if they stood next to each other. They did a *ton* of damage, too, in addition to the slow -- 2d6+5 with a one-handed flail?
Me: "Wait... a little goblin does 2d6+5 with a one-handed flail? What the hell?"
GM: "HOBgoblin. They're not little."
Me: "Oh. I thought hobgoblins were just like goblins, only orange instead of green. Still, how do you get 2d6 from a one-handed weapon?"
GM: "They're monsters, they don't follow the same rules."
Me: "Well, sure, but it's poor monster design when their abilities out and out break them. Unless they're supposed to be using Steel Serpent Strike at will or something."
Anyway, there were some minions in the fight too, that ran to the back to let out a giant spider, which Shanarea solo'd without any trouble. The minions and the spider both.
They didn't get far before running into even more hobgoblins, though -- and this time, their tactics were even worse. Sam decided to charge straight at the enemies to use his pbaoe blast, and even his shield, Vexx's healing and using a power to pull him back behind the lines, and Bore running up behind him and marking the one he was actually in melee with only *barely* kept him conscious through the return volley. This left Bore locked in melee with a bunch of the nasty 22 AC hobgoblins that he couldn't hit, even with action-point-boosted skills. He did do a chunk of damage to the hobgoblin warcaster, though, who'd also been the one to take the most damage from Ed's kamikaze charge, so it only got the one aoe blast off (thank god).
Then... the whole party abandoned Bore while they spread their fire around at random on every target except the ones he was fighting. Luckily, he had half a dozen daily abilities to heal and protect himself, so he managed to stay conscious until they finished plinking at the wimpy archer and the minions and got around to helping him out.
Tom: "Wow, that was a really hard encounter. We're wiped out."
GM: "That was a level 3 encounter. It should have been easy, but they focused their fire and you guys didn't."
Regardless, they *were* wiped out -- Bore was out of Daily defenses (he still had his daily attack), Sam was out of healing surges... the party thought that they'd probably be able to rest safely in the temple of Bahamut on the level above, instead of going all the way back to town... not that that mattered that much, the enemy would still be able to fortify their defenses again while they rested.
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Tom hates 4e because his ranger 'doesn't have many options'. I'm not sure how he figures a 3rd level ranger would have more options in 3rd edition, though.
Josh wants to switch to a rogue instead of his warlock because he always misses... and probably because the warlord is really focused on moving party members around, which really doesn't matter much without a rogue in the party.
And I... still don't have a verdict on 4e because we've only been playing once a frickin' month. ARGH.