When last we left our intrepid adventurers they were fleeing for their lives, running ankles over elbows from a screaming band of bloodthirsty orcs. At least 60 of them. Maybe 100. Maybe more. We didn't stop to count.
Ahh, so how did we get to that point? Thats the interesting part.
After recovering everything recoverable from the catacombs beneath the temple we discovered that something in the "magic" of the place got disrupted or turned off by the act of removing valuables from the catacombs. But we proceeded anyways, recovered the goods, and also bypassed the door defenses in the upstairs of the Temple to open the High Priest's quarters and office. Lots of dry boring reading to be had. The cool part is that we can close the doors to reactivate the defenses, bypass them at will, and so forth. Nice defensable hidey-hole with no windows and no way out other than the front door. In other words, a deathtrap. But a very defensable one.
We decided to distribute the enhanced goods recovered from the catacombs on the logic that an enchanted broadsword does us no good in a chest or in a pack, and a lot of good in the hands of a warrior who can and will use it for hacking and slashing. Only Matt could use the daggers effectively as thrown weapons (well, Steve could also but he got dibs on the enchanted plate mail), only Steve could wear the plate mail, and only Saraldawan has skill in the Mace. The Leather was human sized, both Sean and JoeD can wear/use it, and the armor greatly enhances their scouting skills. No-brainer distribution. The broadsword and shield gave us troubles, but we decided to err for the night on the side of 1) putting them in the hands of people who were present to use them, and 2) distributing combat power through the group instead of concentrating it into one lone combat monster character. Accordingly, the loot went the following ways:
Broadsword to JoeD (Several people could use this; perhaps better used elsewhere as JoeD is dominantly an archer)
Shield to Sean (Several people could use this; perhaps better used by Gene's Dwarf)
Mace to Saraldawan (any spellcaster could use for part of abilities, but as a Mace only he can use it)
Leather to JoeD (Halflings could also use if armor was resized)
Leather to Sean (Halflings could also use if armor was resized)
Plate Mail to Steve
Daggers to Matt (Steve could also use)
At this point we decided to do some exploration of the countryside and embarked on a three week expedition around the neighborhood. We took horses, mule, and pony. No oxen. They were left to graze in the town with the water building wide open and the gate barred with a Wall of Thorns.
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Three days clockwise around the lake to a river. A day and a half upriver to a ford, where I (Malasion) almost drowned, was "rescued" by Elise, then felt the need to "rescue" Elise myself, and now no longer drowning simply flew the two of us to safety. A little magic later, and my wet things were dried off nicely. Apparantly this whole episode was quite a fiasco for some folks, as almost everyone ended up soaked trying to "rescue" me when all I needed was a chance to get my head above water for long enough to fly out. Someone on a horse with a rope to toss me would have done a lot of good. From now on I fly instead of swim, give the choice. More points of Lofty Bridges next level.
Four more days downriver to the beach, and a couple days lounging on the beach before heading back inland. Back to the lack, again clockwise and another four days to the foothills. A long look south, a discussion about chasing orcs to the mountains, and then finishing the circuit back to home base to restock supplies from the cache in the Temple.
Thats when we ran into a spot of trouble. Seems that our old friends had returned for a dinner party in our absence, and us being poor hosts (and absent) they set up shop and helped themselves to our oxen for dinner, the pantry being otherwise bare. Aerial recon showed multiple campfires spread through the central city area but well away from the Temple itself, presumably safe.
Two plans were offered:
1. Stealth approach. Scale the city wall behind the Temple. Sneak onto the wooded grounds alongside the Temple. Stealth or invisibility to the front door, me to wizard the door unlocked, and someone(s) to go get locked inside for a spell. Move everything we want to recover to the front door, and then sneak everything out under their noses. Easier said than done, yes. Windows or a chimney would have made this an easier job. A little B&E on the Temple would certainly be facilitated by some major distraction elsewhere to keep the orcs occupied. Further recon of the town would be needed to get a headcount of the orcs before proceeding. Exit strategy of magic walls to slow/occupy orcs advancing up the Temple's main staircase to attack us. Minimal crew on the grounds, all of them either climbers (scout types) or fliers (me). Pitfalls: I'm not stealthy at all, and we'd be dividing our strength into a "diversion" crew and a "B&E" crew.
2. Beth walks up through the front gate and taunts the orcs into following her, and we setup an ambush around the corner to kill anyone who chases her. Rinse, repeat, kill them all then walk in the front door at our leisure.
We chose the second plan. Beth taunted 25 orcs into chasing her. By the time we'd taken them down and either killed them off or chased them off to the point that we could disentangle ourselves from melee and exfil from the area, reinforcements had arrived to the tune of an uncounted mass of 60-100 orcs. We fled for our lives with the orcs in close pursuit.
We pretty much failed to adequately plan our ambush, rules of engagement, and exit strategy. We should have waved off and ran away from the group chasing Beth in the first place. When she saw how big the mob was, she should have waved us down and not led them directly to us. But this wasn't talked about, so she just followed the only part of the plan we'd discussed. Then we stuck it out in melee for far too long, at least 2-3 rounds, when we could have fled and only had a handful of orcs close behind us instead of a huge mob of orcs close behind us.
We'll pick up next time right where we left off, according to Dave, just like a two-part cliffhanger on TV.