Okay, Third Round Recap.
Our third round started with a descent down a very long, square staircase with an open shaft in the middle. The sort of staircase that just screams "DEFENESTRATION". There were unsafe, crumbling areas in the stairs that our druid's passive perception spotted -- by this point, I'm pretty sure that any team that didn't have the druid's high passive perception has been weeded out, anyway, but it was key to surviving the descent.
A bit further down the stairs we spotted a scrying sensor a bit below our position. We stopped and used a Halluincatory Item ritual to create a model of the staircase around the sensor -- something that would box up the sensor, and make the sensor think it was still looking at the stairwell. That seemed to work well enough for us to get by the sensor without alerting anything below us.
A little further down we encountered a couple of odd, demonic firefly swarms. These guys were not too bad to fight, but they had a slide 1 attack that could easily have dumped an unwary party member off the edge of the staircase down to the bottom of the shaft. We quickly learned to keep ourselves to the outside wall.
As that fight got underway, we heard a door below open, and some running feet coming up the stairs. It took several rounds for those running feet to materialize -- two undead opponents, one was one of the mummies that were starting to feel like roaches(every one you see means there are a thousand behind the walls) and some melee-type deathknight dude. So, we did the sensible thing -- we dropped the death knight down the shaft and nuked the mummy. By the time the deathknight dude climbed the stairs for the second time, the mummy was dead and we were very ready for him.
This combat was the first of several in which the fighter got really, really frustrated and bored. Our ranged attacks, sweet controlled magic and use of the terrain allowed us to take out a lot of our opponents with a minimum of melee contact. In a few cases, later on, the ranges were so long the Bard (my guy) actually had to take the shrink wrap off his bow because none of his powers had long enough range to contribute.
Anyway, we went down to the bottom of the stairs, found the dent the death knight dude left in the floor when we dropped him, and a door. Passed through that door into a 1-space wide passage that lead around to a large, open cavern, with a muddy hot spring in the middle, a big contraption like a sort of propeller thing standing up in the middle, with platforms that were moving slowly around in a circle, providing a sort of ferry across the muddy muck.
Once again with the high passive perception we spotted a magical creature -- i'll be damned if I remember the guy's name, it was important to the story and everything. He wasn't a sphinx, but that's the way I was thinking of him. He was clutching a stalagtite in the ceiling with a crazy look in his eye, clearly his mind was bent. We tried talking to him, but got nowhere. So we busted out ritual #2, remove affliction. The ritual removed the madness and grief that was making him nuts, and he spoke to us. We got some good information out of him, knew what to expect as we headed for the final room, then got him to help us by ferrying us across the mud so we could avoid having to trust the small platforms of the propeller thing.
Of course, it wasn't going to be that easy. A pair of fire archon things jumped up out of the mud as soon as we go started. Our druid hammered them with stacked frost powers and his staff of winter effect -- once they were immobilized, they dropped out of the air back into the mud -- and we managed to keep them from getting close enough to attack very often while we took them apart. Again, bored fighter, bored healer. But that's the way we like it.
An interesting note . . . at this point in the session, the Druid noticed that most of us were sitting on action points. The gut reaction at that point was to spend them ASAP, even if it seemed wasteful, because the scoring system we had seen from last year's tournament deducted points for unspent action points. BUT we held off -- especially those of us who would be taking part in the ritual to read the scroll in the final room. Those action points came in handy.
Oh, yeah, and there was one last mummy on the far side of the big mud pit chamber. I think we knocked him around pretty quickly, too.
Anyway, after that we moved through some more tunnels to the final room. We raced in, paid healing surges to enter the center of the room where we would need to read the ritual stanzas backwards, and started reading. With action points, we managed to get all but one stanza read before the room's defenders started to react. Within another round we had the ritual completely reversed, and we were mangling the tentacles and minions that were being summoned up.
We beat the tentacles and thought we had the room handled, when time ran out. Afterwards, Adrian told us that there was another fight after that one. I know that we got just barely further along than other groups did, so no one has seen that next fight yet. So, if it's a year from now and you're reading this to get the jump on this adventure when your home DM runs it, you're on your own for this last fight.
And, since you're clearly a cheater, I hope your DM kills you.
No more reading spoilers.
Overall . . . we had a blast, and Adrian is a rock star DM. He brings stuff to life incredibly well -- especially managing to do it in a way that didn't slow the game down. I think I'd wait in line to play anything he was dming, even if it were Barbie Playhouse D20.
We were feeling pretty good when we walked out of that session. I'm totally shocked that all three teams were so close together in time -- I'm not surprised that the three of us managed to handle the encounters leading up to the end well -- after all, we wouldn't be in the final round if hazards like crumbling stairs and a deep deep shaft would have caught us off guard. But the idea that we were literally all within minutes of each other after four hours of play blows my mind. Like, if I had taken one more potty break we might have ended up in 3rd place.
Gratz to everyone involved, all the contestants and DMs and Goodman Games. It was awesome.