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lightnng
Memunite
(10/12/03 8:01 am)
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How to deal with the Howler in two easy steps
Been a while since I posted... but I wanted to share the result of our last two sessions, as the party took on the main entrance. It required a two-phase assault.

Phase I
In which they discover the power of beads and tactics

So they get to the main entrance, and send the rogue over the check things out. She's a sneaky type, they make her invisible, the guards are lax, and nobody notices her coming in and surveying the place a bit. She checks out the rooms overlooking the entrance, and decides to go back and report that it looks like "there isnt much more than some gnolls and human guards, should be no problem at all". She does manage to make one of the guards suspicious by trying to mess with one of the warning bells (while invisible).

Anyway, the party decides to charge, think it will be a short order to get rid of those guards. They make it, as a group, just past the entrance doors, to where the north-south and east-west corridors meet... where they stay for the length of combat.

I was using the event chain described in the BoB, which means they still thought it was gonna be easy for the first couple of rounds... then Terrenygit started sending his bolstered zombies in, the double doors ahead open to show the two ballistae and Mereclar mounting the "really big dog", and they started reconsidering.

So somebody, in a fit of brilliancy prompted by panic, pulls out his bead of force, which they have been cherishing for a while, and tosses it northwards to try and blast some zombies (they are still clustered around the area where the corridor goes east to Terrenygit's office and the zombies room). He doesn't think about the force effect, but he does aim it squarely in the middle of the north-south corridor...

Which results in their first major tactical achievement. Two zombies die, but the rest are now all either within the force sphere - which is just large enough to block the entire passageway - or right behind it - including Terrenygit, who is enraged beyond belief but can do nothing but look on as the combat unfolds through the shimmer of the force field.

Just as this happens, Mereclar charges in on the Howler. The sonic blast deafens a couple of characters, but they don't seem impressed with the "big dog"'s abilities until the first volley of needles pricks the cleric solidly, killing him immediately. They are getting down on HP and spells, but retreat at this point is impossible, as they are practically surrounded by those silly gnolls and guards... although the wizard does manage to send off a fireball into the ballistae room, killing off most guards and incinerating one ballista.

A couple of ballista rounds later, they have managed to clear their way back to the entrance for the most part, except that the rogue is still inside, as well as the fallen cleric and unconscious sorcerer, and mereclar on top of his pet is grinning at them as he blocks the entry way...

which is when the rogue remembers that she, too, has a bead of force. Out it goes. The explosion hurts, but Mereclar's face turns real angry as he realizes he is now trapped. She dumps a healing potion in the sorcerer's throat, they pick up the cleric's still warm body and sneak out past him in the narrow 5' wide area they left outside the force field.

Phase II
Where scared makes perfect

Well. They regourp, kinda. The ranger, who has taken one level of cleric at some point, decides to trust Mielikki and opens up the raise dead scroll they purchased in Verbobonc for emergencies. 55% chance of success, and he makes it. They have the Cleric back. And a better appreciation for the forces in the main entrance.

A debate rages over, but eventually they decide to rest for a day and go again, to minimize the chance of repopulating the guard forces, in which they feel they have made a real dent (and they are right). This time, however, the actually decide to buff up. It was a piece of beauty - mage armor all around, invisibility galore (finally getting rid of most charges on the stupid wand :D ), bulls' strength, protection from evil, the works. First time they ever do this, Im very proud.

Terrenygit spent the night animating dead, especially wormspike who comes back as a large zombie. However, with the tank now coming in as he should with an AC of 24 and the fury of his 20 STR (bull's STR) and his greataxe, it ends up being an easier fight, even though the guards are on alert. The Howler still manages to scare them, but I roll very poorly this time and he only releases one quill each for five consecutive attacks, mostly at the rogue who sneers at him.

Terrenygit, being the smart one, figures out the battle is going badly and gives them the slip early, going north into the earth temple. Mereclar is pulled off the Howler, proned, and killed in an almost off-hand manner. The do end up using most of their spells again, mostly on buffing up but also on overkill, but in the end, even the doggie succumbs.

In retrospect, the biggest saving grace they had were the two beads of force. Blocking off Terrenygit early, and then Mereclar and the Howler in order to escape and regroup, was what allowed them to make it through. I am of course delighted with the fact that they have finally understood the concept behind buffing up... because dammit, Marlgran and Vranthis are waiting! :evil

Caedrel
Malakite
(10/12/03 10:06 pm)
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Hehe
I dunno how "easy" the first step was... but the second was certainly effective! :)

I also suspect the buffing up isn't going to help with Marlgran, though - after all, the worst part of THAT encounter isn't his damage potential, but his friend "Rusty"... :)

grimbold
Memunite
(10/12/03 10:58 pm)
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Howler
I´m just curious as my players have just defeated the main gate troops as well:

Which version of the howler did you use?

Infiniti2000
Cherub
(10/13/03 7:08 am)
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ezSupporter
Re: Howler
I used the fully advanced errata version (3.0), but my group was mostly 7th level and there were 6 PCs. I still managed to take down two PCs to -9 HP (really) and even an NPC (Xaod) to -9 after getting hit by the exploding zombie trick. We switched to 3.5 and Snearak animated the howler as a skeleton (fully advanced). It was REAL nasty and killed a PC (all 8th level by then). I figured that the quills would still exist on the skeletal howler.

My group is currently almost all 9th level (close to 10th) and they are aligned with the fire temple now (after killing Tessimon and half the FT) and on their way to attack the Water Temple with Virith, two fire mephits, and two salamanders. I figure it to be a major battle, as the WT is aware of the approach of yon enemy. In fact, there was a little tussle on the Fire Bridge due to an admittedly rash action by Rau (the group was NOT in company of D'Gran, of course <g>). 3 warriors and Rau were killed, not before Rau made a critical on the invisible fighter. Tippesh cast see invisible on D'Gran and the blue demon was about to lay the smack down before the wizard made a successful diplomacy and bluff check, and the party continued minus a minor magic item for 'toll'.

Helderik
Memunite
(10/13/03 8:44 am)
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Re: Howler
My group is entering the CRM for the first time next session. I'm quite worried about the encounter because 4 of them are just 5th level. The other one is still 4th level. They also lack a cleric and a full wizard. I've been giving them clues about the difficulty of the encounter so I hope they will at least scout the area invisible first. Especially the howler seems very powerful to me.

Is my fear justified or is the encounter not as difficult as I am thinking? What would happen with characters if Mereclar would be able to capture one or some of the PC's? Also, would Mereclar follow any fleeing PC's on his mount?

Any advice?

www.student.tue.nl/H/e.j.a.manders/

Infiniti2000
Cherub
(10/13/03 10:24 am)
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ezSupporter
Re: Howler
Your fear is justified. The recommendation is to use the howler stats as Monte presented. If you are using 3.5, then use only the 9HD howler I worked up, not the 12HD one.

If Mereclar manages to capture a PC, he would ask him questions of course, and then sell the PC to either the Earth Temple (unless Terrenygit can arrange to 'take' the PC) or to Claaginred and have the PC ready to fight in the arena. Personally, I vote for an arena fight as it has the best potential for RP and for saving the PC.

I doubt Mereclar would follow the PC's out of the gate, thinking it is a trap. He might send a couple of gnolls to harry the PC's, though.

lightnng
Memunite
(10/13/03 12:37 pm)
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Re: Howler
I used the Monte Howler. It was more than enough for a party of 5th levels.

ZansForCans 
Cherub
(10/13/03 2:10 pm)
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Re: Howler
I used the 9HD version in 3.0 (the largest Large version). It gave the party their first death, although the Rog/Ftr that died took two rounds of full attacks. He didn't retreat for some reason after the first one dealt him a ton damage. This on top of the fact that my party's tactics were incredible up until this point. They barely had to fight more than one group of baddies here at a time until the main room opened up well into their incursion.

My group was all 5th level except for Tymerian (played as a PC just for this session) and the party cleric, who were 6th. I doubt this version would wipe out a party unless they take on the whole main gate together at once for some reason. But it certainly is deadly toe-to-toe with some individual characters.


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LostSoul
Memunite
(10/18/03 1:30 pm)
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howler
It should help to remember that the Huge Howler (the errata'd version, or Monte's in the book) is the same size as an elephant.

When you tell PCs that a demonic beast covered with razor-sharp needles the length of spears, howling like the winds of hell itself, comes at them with an ogre on its back, well... they should get the hint.

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