Also, skeletons are apparently natural creatures. Who knew? Unless they're elemental or shadow (we've fought both before). This matters only for the purposes of the Life Drinker paragon path which Beware uses, which gets silly little bonuses depending on which kind of life he drinks.
The session started where the last one left off, with the party trying to sneak through a 'clean' area and being attacked by a swarm of roaches, that formed into a humanoid shape wielding meat cleavers! The room was very cramped, and the roaches pretty much ignored melee and ranged attacks anyway, so Arial apologized repeatedly before blasting the party with her AOEs. Well, okay, she mostly managed to position them decently, actually.
The roaches fought back with an aura of biting insects, by latching onto people that attacked them and engulfing them, by swarming over anyone that tried to heal themselves, and by disintegrating and reforming elsewhere, after biting everyone along the way. Still, they weren't that dangerous -- all the damage they did was in little tiny packets, mostly spread out between everyone instead of focusing on one person.
[Tom: "Okay, I've used all their powers at least once, to basically no effect, and you've bloodied them. Two more rounds and they're going to just spontaneously die because it's going to get boring."
Me: "We used up all our AoEs though, so we can barely hurt it. It'll take like ten more rounds to kill it at *least* and in that time it might actually hurt someone..."
Tom: "At this point you're chopping wood!"
It wasn't really an argument, since I kind of agreed with the sentiment. The sentiment being '4e solos have too many fucking hit points'. In this case, more than a thousand, and since it was a swarm almost everything did half damage.]
Eventually they chased it into the pantry and dispersed the swarm by beating on it with pointy things and blunt things and little yellow pieces of lightning. Unfortunately, there was no way to continue on past the pantry -- it was a dead end. They'd have to face the Scary Door.
The Scary Door being the one braced closed with multiple pieces of wood embedded in slots somehow chipped in the nigh-invulnerable stone floor. What could be behind the door that was so scary that someone who could actually harm the structure of Stonekeep would run away from it?
The answer? Skeletons. An army of skeletons. 12 little minion skeletons that exploded if you hit them too hard, 6 much tougher melee skeletons, and 12 still non-minion skeleton archers that could stun on a critical hit. Yowch! They weren't individually too tough, but my god that's a lot of incoming attacks...
Unfortunately for the skeletons, Varnix had transformed into the minotaur of fiery death. After some vaguely effective attacks by the monk, the sorceror, and the warlock, he filled the entire room -- and it was NOT a small room -- with a rain of holy fire that did fire and radiant damage and gave everything in the room radiant vulnerability. Every turn. Then he cast some extra radiant attacks to kill things really fast and give them even more vulnerability because his vulnerability-granting power stated that it increased the targets' vulnerability if they were already vulnerable.
So, when the big bad guy came waltzing out to kick the party's ass -- he was a tough elite leader who could cast a huge blast of unholy fire (still only about 1/4th the size of Varnix's firestorm) raising all his minions from the dead, every other turn or so -- he wasn't nearly as scary or effective as he would have been without the constant rain of radiant and radiant-vulnerability-granting fire that re-killed everything he raised and did a good job helping along his own demise.
Let's put this in perspective. One turn, Varnix did about 80 damage to each enemy within a close burst three of him just with the auto-hit aftereffects of his powers. He hit 11 enemies with that. That's 880 damage, which I'm pretty sure is more damage than the rest of the party, including the three strikers, did during the entire combat, total.
Although Asm spent the entire fight stunned, since all the archers were shooting at her and one managed to crit her and she never made her save.
After the fight, the newly-transformed Varnix realized that he'd forgotten to turn on his 'boon', a slotless item that cost 380 gold, that should have given him an extra 8 damage every time anything he did damaged anyone vulnerable to radiant... as its tertiary effect thrown on as a little extra to go with its primary and secondary powers.
Most of the obscenity of this was thanks to Fire Storm, which is a daily, since it supplied the constant ubiquitous enemy-only auto-hit damage that kept everything vulnerable -- against the roaches he hadn't done much because he had to hit two turns in a row to get the benefit of the enemy being vulnerable -- but MY GOD. OTOH, at lower levels we were already raping enemies by using tiny auto-damage fields and having Celeste pull them into the field and hold them there. It just wasn't as *fast*. And we needed to have a controller pull them into the field and hold them there, instead of just filling the whole room with fire.
So, um, all the skeletons melted under a wave of holy fire -- except for some dress-wearing apparent noncombatants that stayed inside a room hidden under the archers' platform and never came out to fight -- and the party looted the dancing longsword that the big leadery skeleton had briefly set attacking Heyyou.
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