After leading the slaves out of the fortress, the party was able to rest the night in the caves, which remained secret from the duergar patrols. In the morning, they decided that they needed to assault the duergar again -- they hadn't defeated the leader, they didn't know where the rest of the slaves had been taken, and most importantly, they hadn't gotten much treasure.
So they told the slaves to wait in the caves for them to come back, but if they didn't come back by the time they got hungry, to build a new life for themselves inside the hidden cavern, feeding and clothing themselves from the native firebats. Or else to give up and try to make it out of the maze on their own, although that was rather a forlorn hope.
The duergar hadn't found the secret passage, but they had figured out that it came through the kitchen, and had placed five orcs in the kitchen to guard it. The party boiled out of the pantry, forming a line of melee... wait, no, melee and wizard -- Samuel rushed to the front line to fire off his close blast and burst, but between Bore and Morgan's marks and his shield spell, he was able to survive the rather questionable tactic.
The last orc, who'd been hanging back plinking ineffectually with a crossbow, tried to run when only two orcs were left -- his buddy also tried to run, but didn't make it, dying to Bore's attack of opportunity. The party ran headlong after the fleeing orc, and thanks to a Knight's Move Vexx used on Bore, the dwarf managed to catch up to the fleeing orc and cut him down before he could reach the next door. Behind the door, Shanarea heard movement -- they'd been just in time!
So they rested a little, then decided to use a pincer movement to catch the enemies in that room by surprise. It didn't really work very well -- the enemies this time were primarily ranged, and almost managed to bottle the party up behind both doors, but Morgan was quick enough to get through before they could react, and Bore had his Tide of Iron. Once the whole party was in the room with them, they didn't have much of a chance -- if they'd taken on the party while they were still tired from fighting the orcs, maybe.
Then it was back over the bridge. The door Bore had broken down had actually been broken down, so instead the duergar had a makeshift barricade made out of a table. Bore charged across the bridge at a run to engage the enemies in melee before they could get many shots in, which might have been a tactical error -- running full out left him vulnerable to several sneak attacks by the enemies manning the barricade, who were all scouts. He did get out of range of the thaumaturge's AoEs, at least, although Shanarea managed to use a disrupting strike *somehow* to negate the attack on the only person hit by it.
Vexx and Morgan joined Bore at the barricade while Shanarea and Samuel supported them with ranged attacks, but the thaumaturge had to die. Bore used a tide of iron to push one of the scouts back from the barricade, clambered over [with an athletics check], ignoring their AoOs, and closed with the pesky wizard, using an action point to swing his axe around and hit (or at least mark) all the duergar. As a result, the orcs who'd been waiting for someone to cross the barricade flanked him and... missed. His original plan had been to use the shield of protection to save himself after hopefully surviving the round, but he wasn't badly enough hurt to need to use that tactic, since (almost) all the enemies missed him.
Vexx joined him, and together they cornered and executed the thaumaturge, shrugging off his attempt to blind them with poison, while Morgan manned the barricade to keep the enemies from making it onto the bridge to menace Shanarea or Samuel. Eventually, it was down to the two orcs, with Vexx and Bore blocking the door they'd have to use to get reinforcements. So the orcs didn't even try to retreat, and were eventually ground down.
They rested again, then moved on towards the central chamber, which they'd been told was the lair of the deurgar leader, a dark paladin. There were no surprises this time, on either side -- they kicked open his door, and he was waiting for them. He even *thought* he was ready.
Most of the party opened up with their dailies, shooting or charging or teleporting into the room so that they could unload on him right off the bat, although Vexx and Bore were stopped by his front line, not wanting to draw AoOs right off. The boss was bloodied by the end of the second round -- although this wasn't a pushover fight by any means. Morgan was also pummeled to within an inch of his life by the paladin's first set of attacks with his fiery maul, and the rest of the party was knocked to the ground by yet another thaumaturge's fiery hail.
Morgan used transposing lunge to shove the boss into the fireplace he'd been trying to push Morgan into, then backed off to heal while Vexx took his place. The maul attacks didn't do much to Vexx, who was highly resistant to fire... well, they didn't do *as* much, but Vexx had already gotten hit by the other duergar, and was also very badly hurt. Luckily, the boss noticed 'resistant to fire' and switched targets to Shanarea, who was nearly killed, but not quite taken down, and used her 'yield ground' to retreat past the general melee to a vantage point from which she could fire at the very, very annoying (elite!) thaumaturge in back, who was using her AoEs to blind and daze and slow the party.
It was Morgan who finally took down the thaumaturge, staggering towards her, dazed and slowed, unable to make his saves, as she retreated from him into a corner, at which point he was able to charge (2 squares, since he was still slowed) and finish her off with a critical. He made a very good implacable zombie horde!
Meanwhile, Bore's steady grinding away at the melee duergar (he used his new stance, Rain of Steel, to do 1d10+3 damage to anyone who started the turn adjacent to him) along with Vexx's attacks slowly whittled down the boss, until Samuel finished him off with a critical magic missile. That left two magic expanding duergar to fight, but they didn't really have an answer to getting automatically hit every round either.
Loot! Including a +2 flaming maul... not that anyone wanted to use a maul, but it was a tasty enchantment to transfer to someone's axe.
...no sign of any clue telling where the rest of the slaves were!
last session | next session
Tom spent most of the session working on a new character, which looks like it's going to be a dragonborn sorceror.
I think I'll stick with Bore for this group, assuming we keep playing 4e -- everyone except Tom seemed to enjoy it this time, at least. Bore is a very appropriate name, at least for how he played today -- charge fowards, forcing your way through the enemy lines, then spin around wildly until you've ground them all to powder. }:) Rain of steel looks like it's really going to help with that.
As you might be able to guess from all the combats, this session went a little long, so I headed over to Jurann's place afterwards, and we played 'Killer Bunnies and the Race to Jupiter', which is sort of like Killer Bunnies' version of Spacefarers of Catan -- more complicated than the original game, less luck based, and not as good. It went on for-fucking-ever! The last carrot got the ship that retrieved it blown up FOUR TIMES over the course of like an hour and a half and a dozen rounds... and turned out to not even be the stupid magic carrot. I really hate the Killer Bunnies victory method.