This week we had our full set of players, plus one-half. Jeremy's nine year old daughter, Riley, was with us, and will be for the next few weeks. Jeremy and I talked about having her play a full on character in the session, but settled on having her play a critter that was aligned with the party. This let her roll dice in fights, and run up and bite bad guys, and such fun stuff. It was good.
The party is now 5th level. After last week's tough session, I went ahead and bumped them to level 5. They were a little shy of the xp for it, but they more than deserved a reward, and so the xp fairy sprinkled them with enough dust to put them right at 5.
We picked up where we'd left off. They'd killed the bad guys in the bone room, and now they made their plans about which direction to go next. They were all pretty low on resources, having few healing surges left. To my surprise, their dungeon delving instincts were strong, and they decided to go into the chanting room first, as opposed to skipping it and going for the room deeper in the temple.
The threw the doors open and kicked it off. Inside was a lecture room, with a podium and benches, as well as a priest and a dozen and a half acolytes. The acolyte minions were all bunched up, and so they were able to very quickly thin that number down to manageable proportions, while throwing damage at the priest. They made fairly short work of the fight, and then turned their attention back toward the doorway leading deeper into the temple.
They navigated a hallway, bypassed a trap, and then entered into what apparently was the Altar room for the temple. It was a large room with heavy metal grates on the floors near the walls, some large orcish statues bearing heavy bladed axes, an altar, a black robed human, an orcish high priest, and two orc guardsmen. Needless to say, combat was joined. As the party rushed in, being VERY concerned about the 4 large metal orc statues in the room, it quickly became apparent that they were not damaged by the party's attacks. Futhermore, they turned out to be mechanical, when our dragonborn fighter ran past one, it creaked and swiveled and the axe whirled through the air, leaving its mark on the fighter. They hit hard, and the characters adapted to avoid moving into range of the statue's axes. They rushed the dais where the orcs and black robed human awaited. The two orc guardsmen tied up the first few characters, trying to keep them from getting to their bosses. Illgiliant chucked some mighty spells into the room at the bad guys. The orc high priest responded in kind, using a crushing spell against Illgiliant. I rolled a 20, and suddenly our wizard was just a few hit points away from a nap. It was a great fight. The black-robed human used lightning, and pushed people away from him, sometimes into the range of the axe wielding statues, sometimes over that metal grate, through which skeletal hands would reach up and try to hold them and tear at them. The high priest used a skeleton-topped staff to rain damage down on those near him, as well as those closing in. The party fought well, using tactics and calling on all of their powers to bring down their foes, and in the end they were successful.
They looted the dead bad guys, and set about trying to blow up the temple, using the barrels of powder that they'd found before, combined with an accelerant that they found here in the altar room. They also found a letter which stated that they had infiltrated assassins into the Fort on the Red Water to kill its lord commander, hoping to clear the way for a large force of orcs that hoped to raid their communities. Apparently this was an advance strike, as they were assembling a larger army to bring war to the human lands. The party resolved to make their way to the Fort with all haste.
They traveled for a day, until they reached the Fort. They could see, looking down upon the fort and the village near it, that a finger of blue smoke rose from the fort, and that a long line of commoners snaked from the village to the fort. The blue smoke, they knew, was a warning signal. They rode to the fort and gained entry, seeking to speak with its commander, a man named Brightblade. They found him on the walls, overseeing preparations being made for the orcs that they knew were coming. As the party approached and introduced themselves, and began to explain that they believed that Lord Brightblade was in danger, they noticed that many of the nearby soldiers had scarred faces.... [this was the big 'tell', the black cloaked, evil humans back at the temple in the woods all had scarred faces.]
We left off here, and will resume next week, to see how this goes.
I found it very interesting to play with a nine year old at the table. I try to be descriptive, but we've all been playing D&D/rpgs for years, and so its easy to fall into the trap of "Ok, you hit it. 12 damage. Next." With a kid at the table though, I made sure to describe the action, describing how bad guys ducked and dived out of the way, how armor deflected swords, or how she - playing a wolf - was able to run up and grab the bad guys leg in her mouth, and shake her head around. It was fun, and I wish that I had the determination to be a very descriptive DM all of the time.