Toughest Foe – Neselandra, aka the b!tch
Most Tactically-useful Magic Item – Bobill’s Cloak of Arachnidia
Temporary Death – Allynfred the Dwarf
Best Invisible Opponent – Ildriss
The party explored a couple rooms down narrow side passages in the Tomb, one where Exex identified a false bronze door trapped to flatten people, another with a giant scorpion and secret, one-way door to a diamond-shaped chamber that was probably part of the rotating wall in the main passage. Unable to proceed further, the characters started to move into the south crypts when the sound of battle outside the complex caught their attention. Hiding in shadows, Exex and Paddy snuck separately to different exits and saw, in the desert sands near the south entrance, Dervishes beset by enemies. Everyone ran to the south entrance porch and proceeded to help the outnumbered nomads.
Rebamac and Exex turn Invisible as the rest of the party assess and prepare for battle. Invisible magic-users sneak up, Exex casts Sleep at the human contingent of fighters and black-robed-and-cowled figures; Bobill uses his Cloak of Arachnidia to Web the majority of the ghouls and ghasts. The rest of the party move across the 150’ distance as this occurs, taking fire from archers and javelineers before these enemies succumb to the Sleep spell.
Enemy spellcasters then hit back with Magic Missiles and a Sleep spell of their own as the rest of the adventurers engage, with Paddy falling asleep and Allynfred still on his way in his dwarven plate mail. At this point Rebamac lets blast with the Wand of Fireballs on the human contingent, which includes a 9’ high batlike/gargoyle-like creature between the arrayed forces. Chees, Rebamac and Garath take on the black-robed figures, Chees creating a Dust Devil that prevents spell casting from some of the enemy – though it also obscures Rebamac’s and Garath’s vision. Darmok uses his sword’s Dispel Magic power to reawaken Paddy, who commands his boar figurine to life. Exex fires her Wand of Paralyzation across the field at a blackrobe in the rear, but the ray fizzles away as it reaches its target.
This black-robed figure disappears, and a new enemy becomes apparent, a misty beast with three red-glowing “eyes” and wispy tentacles, which can disappear and reappear in different places with amazing speed (the party actually thought it was an illusion). At the same time, those ghasts and ghouls not trapped in the web turn on Bobill, Exex, Allynfred, Darmok and Paddy, and Bobill’s Ring of the Ram marks it’s first use battering away an undead pair about to snack on him. One of three surviving dervishes, all of which are caught in the Web, falls victim to a ghast.
Chees has to refocus her attention from her Dust Devil to the undead, Turning them and causing them all to flee. The great bat-beast is now attacking the northern group – Darmok, Allynfred, Paddy, and Bobill – as Garath and Rebamac attempt to finish off the blackrobes while at the same time fending off the invisble, misty attacker. Exex employs her Wand of Paralyzation against one and moves across the battlefield to dispatch two Sleep-affected humans. Another dervish is pulled free and rushes to fight the batbeast, and falls by its claws.
Some vocalizations are heard from the air nearby and suddenly Bobill, Allynfred, Darmok, Paddy and his boar find themselves surrounded by black tentacles writhing from the sand; Allynfred is entangled and cannot fight, taking damage from the constricting member, while the others break free but take damage in the process. Ghouls and ghasts are still trapped in the Web or have fled, effectively removing all the undead from the battle; opposing humans have all been killed or incapacitated save an invisible one, leaving the bat-beast and the aerial monster still fighting, when the disembodied voice is heard again and the black-robed figure appears floating about twenty feet above ground as a forked Lightning Bolt streaks from its hands into Allynfred, Darmok, Paddy and the boar. Allynfred and the boar die.
Garath hurls a spear at the floating figure, but it stops a foot or two away from its target and falls to the ground; Exex then nocks one of her magic arrows, and her elven aim is true and it finds its mark. The figure’s concentration broken, its Levitation spell ends and it descends rapidly to the sand, where Bobill’s Ring of the Ram batters it backward, Rebamac wails on it, and Darmok Springs over to finish it off. As Garath’s mighty two-handed sword seems to have no effect on the aerial monster, he trades places with Darmok to confront the batbeast alongside Paddy, who is one hit away from death; Garath gets between the two, yelling at the halfling to throw him his blade. Paddy tosses the Short Sword of Quickness to the barbarian, who strikes the creature deep enough to fell it. Darmok, Exex and Chees vanquish the aerial creature, though Exex’s +1 Longsword seems not to hurt the horror.
The combat, after closing, took six rounds. Allynfred is dead at -3 hp, and three other characters, including Paddy, are one hit away from death themselves. Two dervishes, still alive (including the Iaseda they’ve encountered before) are pulled from the web before setting fire to it and its undead prisoners. Some healing is done, uncharred bodies are searched, and little reward is recovered for their efforts. They discover the previously-floating blackrobe to be a female human, presumably “the Mistress”, and find hidden in her belt’s secret pouches a Sheet of Smallness containing a spellbook and a miniature, ankh-shaped key. She wears the same symbol that the drow who carried The Book of Eibon and some of the humanoid leaders had.
a recurring symbol
The two surviving dervishes head back to their hideout while the party returns to the wagon to lick their wounds.
This was one hellacious battle, taking two-and-a-half hours of real time even though all the action, from porch to finish, lasted seven rounds. Triangulation and area-effect spells at the beginning went a long way towards levelling the battlefield to give the party a chance at success. It would have turned out a lot worse had the low-level troops not been dispatched right away.