Previously, the players had followed a secretive wagon train outside of town. The wagons vanished into a forest, which proved to be harboring some orcs. Within the forest was a large building, a Temple to Orcus. They players fought some guards outside, expending a great deal of energy on stealth and silencing the guards before the alarm could be raised.
This week, we entered the temple.
I won't break it down blow-by-blow, but the party moved carefully and quietly through the first chamber, and as they came into the second, they encountered some humans. This was a little bit funny to me, because they players pretty much attacked them right away. I'm not saying that they made the wrong decision here, because they didn't, it was just amusing to see that they didn't really even pause before charging in for blood. The party was already low on resources, so this was probably the last fight that they'd try before trying to find a place to hole up and rest. The noise of the fight however attracted some bad guys from an adjacent area, who came to see what the fuss was, and jumped into the fight. Some of my players grumbled, fearing that I'd set them up for a TPK, but I know the capabilities of the party pretty well. They fought a rather tough fight, and near the end, they saw that there was a lever in the hallway just off of the room that they were in. It seemed as though one of the bad guys might go for the lever right before they killed him. As I said, they were very low on resources, and were now in need of rest ASAP. They were concerned about maintaining the element of surprise, and so they quickly discussed hiding the dead bad guys in a nearby pit trap, resting, and charging back in. As they planned to do this, one of the players said, "I pull the lever."
It was a poor decision, and I told the player that it was. The rest of the players were also upset, as this seemed like a rather shitty thing to do. Some other time I'll do a post about in-game consequences, and the problems that arise when players have different degrees of concern about those consequences.
It turned out not to be a lever that dropped cute puppies into the hall, and instead slammed down iron portcullises, blocking all exits from the room that most of the players were in, and leaving the one lever-tugging player trapped in a hallway by himself, while a gong sounded from deeper inside the temple. Tugging the lever again was completely ineffective, and the thief immediately set out trying to unblock the doors. The portcullises were not only heavy, but also locked in place. The thief disabled the the one that blocked their avenue of escape. The player trapped in the hall (not a thief) wanted to try to get free. With the portcullis locked, he had to try his hand a thievery against the locking mechanism. His prospects began to look dim. Then one of the doorways into the room began to rattle, and the thief rushed to block it. He wanted to use Thievery for this, but I made him use Dungeoneering - this was not a lockpicking scenario, it was a "block the door and portcullis so that the orcs can't get into here" scenario. He was successful. Meanwhile, the character trapped in the hall was still having no luck in getting out of the hall. It was only a matter of time before the hall started filling up with armed guardsmen. The mechanism was tough for the thief to reach, but I was generous, and he rolled well, and they finally managed to free the trapped character. The party split, and hid out in the woods. After resting, they headed back toward the temple where they observed a bunch of guards on the front entrance, and a not-quite-finished wall on the side, that was blocked with boards and had a couple of sentries at it. As they considered how to get back into the temple, there was a stir at the front. A human and an orc addressed forty odd soldiers, and told them that the infiltration of the temple meant that they'd have to speed up their plans, and that they were to go off and leave a skeleton crew at the temple, joining up with the others for the second phase of their operation. The forty marched off, and the players broke into the temple again.
They searched through a few rooms, finding the mutilated bodies of the men who'd driven the wagons here a day or two previous, a letter apparently from the Lathiens addressed to someone at this temple, and bloodstains leading from the dead men into another room. They followed the blood trail and soon found themselves in a kitchen. On a huge cutting table lay some pieces of one of the men, and nearby was a huge orc in a bloody leather apron, stirring a huge stew. He lifted a massive cleaver and the fight was joined. The orc threw one of the players into the fireplace, unfortunately for the orc, it was one of our tieflings, who was not as bothered by the fire as others might have been. They made a huge mess of a kitchen, but killed the orc.
And deeper they go into the temple.