Last session ended right outside Fort Sungard.

This week the party deliberated (briefly) on whether to try and go over the wall and through thirty skeletal archers, or look for a secret passage somewhere on the mountaintop. Luckily, the secret door responded to Good creatures.

The basic idea was to send the henchmen in to secure the surface of the fort — the party’s reasoning being, that if the henchmen couldn’t handle thirty skeletons themselves, they weren’t worth keeping. I know, right?

So the party went through the secret passage — about three hundred feet or so — and was confronted with a pair of identical stone levers set into the wall.

While the party deliberated, Darnek pulled both levers.

I gave him inspiration for playing to his compulsive gambler’s flaw.

A door opened in the stone and the party piled into the fort’s cistern. Water covered the floor, columns supporting the ceiling, the whole shebang. The group was apprehensive about the room, not knowing what to expect.

Akordia decided to inspect the walls, see what she could see. Turned out the room was bigger than they expected — there were ghouls literally lined up along each wall — the approaching paladin sent them into a frenzy.

Things went about as well as you could expect for a party of five against two dozen ghouls. Actually, I’ll let you do the math their and see what you come up with on your own before I give you the answer. Got it? Okay.

First things first, our two new characters (Fighter, Paladin) were only 2nd level. Our veteran characters (Cleric, Druid, Ranger) were 7th level. The Cleric tried initially, and failed to turn the roomful of ghouls. It looked really bad.

The Paladin nearly got munched. Hit by multiple ghoul attacks and paralyzed. The Druid, who had shifted into a polar bear, was a very big target and got mobbed by at least eight ghouls. He was paralyzed and forced to de-shift.

Despite failing to turn the mob, the Cleric did pretty well for himself.

Our Fighter is a polearm master, and actually managed to do keep the ghouls out of reach right up until the point the Druid de-popped and the ghouls swarmed past him. Then he was paralyzed and nearly munched.

The Ranger rained arrows down on the ghouls. I think on each of the Rangers’ turns, she bagged 2-3 ghouls minimum. Nice having favored enemy (undead).

Both the Paladin and Fighter has near-death experiences. They were reduced to 0 hit points at least once each, and it was only the Cleric’s uber healing that kept them on their feet. Well, that and the paralysis.

The party rallied in the third round when the Cleric successfully turned the remaining ghouls. Mind you, the group had killed at least eight of the mob by that point. Most of them were notches in the Ranger’s bow.

Characters recovered, and the Ranger took down at least five more before the stragglers fled the room. Out of the original twenty-four, the Ranger killed about thirteen, the rest of the party bagged seven, and four fled the room.

It was a close fight. Without both the Cleric and Ranger in top-form, it probably would have gone a lot worse. Like, “hey, the whole party is ghoul-chow” worse.

The party took a break and grudgingly decided not to pursue the fleeing ghouls. Not knowing anything about the dungeon, they might have charged right into a “stormtrooper ambush.” That would have been bad.

After that, the party was more methodical in their exploration of the dungeon.

“Right first” I think was the rule. A passage brought them to a door, where the Paladin heard a rustling noise. Investigating the passage beyond, they found another door but no source of the rustling.

Continuing on, they found a pantry full of rotten food. Fun.

Beyond that, they found a mess hall. It was messy. Probably some blood stains on the tables. In the passage beyond, they found a kitchen. When the Paladin inspected the oven vent, he was attacked by the oven door.

Spooky and comical. But ultimately harmless.

The party found a door that connected back to the passage out of the cistern. They had to go around at least once before they figured it out. Admittedly, I had forgotten to mention the location of one of seven doors in a large room, which contributed to the mix-up. I’m still getting used to describing rooms. It’s hard!

Anyway, the rest in part two!