Death Crypt of the Ultralich: The Library

I didn’t write much up from the previous session, as it was mostly finalizing the exploration of the (more or less empty) 1st floor and a brief foray toward the northern sub-dungeon. That night, they almost got TPKed by a Spider Mage with a sleep scroll, but it rolled low, so the Fighter hireling was still standing while it made a run for it. They fought a handful of spiders in the gallery that led towards the library. It was a near run, but no one died–with a few characters hurt, they decided to return to town. This was good for them, since if they camped in the side room, the other Mage Spiders would’ve had them trapped and killed them all.

Last Friday’s session was an absolutely spectacular cluster-fuck worthy of note in the annals of B/X D&D.

The group essentially tried to clear out the library of Mage Spiders in one go. The library has an openish floor-plan, with two parallel halls of reading rooms running on either side of the upper and lower stacks, which meant a cascading large-scale encounter in the upper stacks. They ended up killing 20+ giant spiders and spiderlings*, a black widow, a tarantella, 3 Mage Spiders, and a Spider Archmage.

Keep in mind, too, that this party is made up entirely of Thieves, except for the hirelings, who were a fighter and a halfling.

At one point, after 2/3s of the spiderlings and both the Tarantella and the Black Widow had been killed, the Mage Spiders tried to surrender. “Stop! We’ve been minding our own business in this library for centuries! We only attacked you because you invaded our home!”

One of the PCs used this opportunity to backstab and murder the Mage Spider trying to surrender. This is about the time that the Spider Archmage has shown up to figure out what the hell is going on.

The party had been pretty torn up after the battle when the Spider Archmage showed up. Because they killed the last Mage Spider, talking’s off the table, so the Spider Archmage casts Magic Missile and hits the halfling-hireling for nearly 20 damage–the party’s best tank gets misted; gibs of halfling coat the remaining 3 PCs and one hireling. Unfortunately for the Spider Archmage, that was his ace damage spell. The players’ action economy gets the better of him, and he’s not able to get another spell off.

The surviving PCs clear out the library and find one of the alternate exits from the dungeon–a branch from which leads to the lair of an Owlbear.

The existence of the Owlbear had foreshadowed; the mage spiders would’ve hired them to drive it off if they’d made peace with them, and the PCs would’ve been paid double to deal with it, since Crazy Jim had promised 1000 gold for Owlbear meat.

The thieves listened down the tunnel; they hear a gentle hooting/cooing snore. They try to sneak up on the sleeping Owlbear, but they rolled lousy on their move silently checks. The first thief, who was going to try to throw burning oil on the sleeping Owlbear, found himself face-to-face with critter. They tie initiative–the Owlbear is set on fire just as it bats the thief across its lair, killing him with one hit.

When we roll for regular initiative, the Owlbear wins; another thief is crushed in a bear hug by a burning Owlbear. The last PC thief manages to get behind it and kill it while it’s tearing into his buddy.

After all of that, the party is down to one thief and one NPC fighter hireling who rolled lousy the entire fight. The last thief murders the NPC to claim all the treasure and 7200 XP from session for himself.

*My only note for spiderlings was that they were the same as Crab Spiders, except they used webs, were smaller, and had a paralysis bite rather than an instant death bite.

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