Last time on Calvin's Second D&D Campaign, the party reached a fortress on a distant island. And at the entrance, we encountered a delightful quartet of two Minotaurs, a flesh golem, and a wizard.
Given that most of the campaigns I've been involved in were being played by newcomers to the game, it won't surprise you to learn our parties generally sucked at any sort of cohesive strategy. We never really sat down and tried to figure out how our abilities could mesh and overlap in fights, which may have made things more of a trial than strictly necessary. Basically, everyone picks a target and starts attacking.
Something Power Attacked Will, doing enough damage he used the magic carpet to get a safe distance away. The monk killed the Minotaur, and with the benefit of those Acid arrows that came with his nifty quiver, Will melted one of the golems. Our wizard had some trouble with the opposing spell-slinger, taking a Fireball to the face and having her invisibility dispelled. Some Flame arrows dispatched the other Minotaur, and with seven foes closing in, the wizard tried flying away. A combo of Frost and Fire arrows brought him to the ground, and Taug dealt the finishing blow.
Inside the fortress, the walls are lined with mirrors. OK, interesting decorating choice, definitely not ominous. Cora can sense an imprisonment spell, but can't undo it. She continues down the hall and promptly steps into an abyss hidden by an illusion. Fortunately Nylis' griffin makes the save. Using the griffin and the carpet to get past it, we find one room with two chests, labeled 1 and 2, and another hallway, filled with more mirrors. Fearing a repeat of our last experience with chests, we ignore them and continue down the hall, to a door. Which opens on a room with more mirrors. This doppelganger's a freak. There are also a bunch of cages on the ceiling, full of people, including the missing cleric.
Obviously a trap, right? Taug removes one of the doors so we can't be sealed in, and he and Will both stay in the hall as everyone else steps inside. It doesn't help as reflections of each member of the party - including the osprey and the griffin - emerge from mirrors on the opposite wall. So it's on. Since we're each directly opposite of our reflections, that's who most of the initial attacks are directed at. Mirror Will scores one hit on me, the Mirror bard dodges a Fireball. Will scored three hits on his opposite, which was almost enough to kill him, but not quite. The next moment, Will finds his mind under control of the mirror bard, which compels him to go into the hall (this does take him away from the griffin that was about to try and eat him) and smash one of the mirrors. Out pops a flesh golem, which promptly attacks Will. This leaves his poor osprey stuck fighting a griffin.
Things start to turn as our griffin kills Mirror Will, and the team begins targeting the mirrors the reflections emerged from. In quick order the mirror versions of the griffin, monk, barbarian, and wizard vanish. Leah and Nylis, having no luck with ranged attacks, decide to Charge the flesh golem together, and the halfing thief gets hammered. Crulin and Oswald jump in, and Oswald nearly finishes the golem, but not before the monk gets badly crushed. The griffin destroys the mirror of the evil osprey, even as the reflection of Leah does a surprising amount of damage to Taug. Will's mind is his own by now, and he's back firing arrows everywhere, downing the golem. Cora smashes the last few mirrors to end the fight.
That done, all the prisoners are freed from their cages, and we use the flying carpet and the griffin to get them out of the fortress so they can go back home through the portal. Before venturing any further, we go back to open one of the chests. We find some healing potions and a lot of cash. One way or the other, we're covered for medical services. Hooray! Especially since Ordai decided to bail on us. I understand he might be traumatized, but his freaking sister is staying to help, you'd think he wouldn't abandon her. Still, 7 of us against one doppelganger, and it doesn't have the element of surprise (although after all the shouting a mirror-smashing, neither do we). We got this. Into the crypt!
Turns out the doppelganger has a couple of henchmen, both of them more powerful than any of us (we're about Level 7 at this point). Will once again hits with 3 of 4 arrows, which is just enough to piss off one of the goons, who Curses Will, neutralizing several of his attack bonuses. Cora tried a multi-target fire spell against Milo and Temperance, but it turned out to be a lot weaker than she expected. Taug, meanwhile, is finding little success with a bow. With the two lackeys as a shield, the doppelganger moves towards some of the corpses in the corner. Will scores another 25 points of damage, which gets Temperance mad enough to charge. Will's life flashes before his eyes, but Taug gets attacked instead, and loses at least three-quarters of his hit points. Crulin attempted to vault on top of a coffin, and only succeeded in crashing into a pedestal, leaving him open to an attack from Milo (though Milo hit himself with the other attack). The rest of the team is finding it extremely difficult to even hit any of these enemies, and the best damage dealers are about one more good attack each from being dead. Oh, and the doppelganger has succeeded in raising the dead. The odds are dimming.
At the point, Ordai returns. This doesn't signal an immediate reversal of fortune, as Nylis hits herself, but Sage is able to wound Milo, and Leah kills Temperance. Will deals 54 points of damage to Milo, and Crulin destroys one of the undead, although he's now in the doppelganger's crosshairs. And it's started a spell to revive Temperance. After that, it starts teleporting around, making us chase it, stalling for time. Vera is at least able to heal the monk up a little, but Temperance revives. Cora drops an Ice Storm hammer on her, and Will adds a couple of arrows, but it isn't enough. This time Will is the one Temperance smacks the hell out of, and he barely survives it. But with her focus on the Ranger, she doesn't see the monk coming, and Crulin makes her second stint on this plane a brief one.
At that point, two threads of action take place. One is that Leah and Vera work together to get the relic out of the cage the doppelganger is keeping it in. That whole thing I described last time, about the bag and wishing ring and the overly complicated way we got the relic from the thieves? Yeah, that actually happened here. I should have read ahead more in my notes. While the two of them were busy with that, the rest of us were trying to deal with the doppelganger. Which took a long time, because we were having a hard time landing enough hits. Its defense was just too high. I scored 1 out of 4 hits once, and expected to be killed the next round. Instead, the doppelganger settled for blinding me. So I summoned a hippogriff. I don't think it scored a single hit, but what the hell, you have the chance to summon a griffin based on a hippopotamus, why wouldn't you? The team did eventually kill the doppelganger, Crulin dealing the finishing blow. We were Big Damn Heroes.
Then we looted the corpses.
We were named champions, and given the chance to enchant the hell out of everything. I don't know what that means exactly, whether we gained the skill, or could show up on the door of someone who does that and demand service, or what. I just wrote, 'can enchant the hell out of everything.' I just wanted to learn to make explosive arrows, go full Hawkeye with this thing.
So that was the second campaign. You can tell it was run by someone new to being DM, and that most of the players had no clue what they were doing. A lot of us spent a lot of time deciding what skills to put points into, like Sneak, or Heal, Intimidate, whatever, but a lot of that never came up. I'm pretty sure our thief wanted a few more opportunities to do some sneaking and stealing.
I suspect we were meant to investigate that swamp we heard about, and to level us up a bit before the end. It felt like, especially in the final battle, we weren't strong enough for it. We went from crushing pitiful bandits and kobolds, to hanging on for dear life against Minotaurs and flesh golems. The DM clearly recognized Will was the one doing the most damage, but the enemies passed up opportunities to deal fatal damage, opting to cast curses or blind him instead. I'm not complaining; there wasn't anyone in our party who knew Resurrect (unless the bard knew it, or maybe Ordai), so death would have been the end of it for me. But playing it, you could tell she was pulling her punches. Which was at least a nice change of pace from that first campaign, where everyone died constantly.
Those last few battles took forever, because we'd all try and attack the doppelganger, but its defense was so high compared to our attack values that we might only score a couple of hits total. With it having 120 or so hit points, it was death by a thousand paper cuts.
Still, our DM rolled with our peculiar approaches pretty well. We tended to over discuss our options, but she outwardly kept any impatience under wraps. Even if she didn't always seem to understand what the hell I was doing, she didn't get irritated with my playing Will as at least slightly off-kilter. Of course, she was the one who threw in an hippie elf orgy, so she established off-kilter as the baseline. And the party was pretty into it. A lot of the time we were just screwing around (and not just in terms of what went on at the hippie elf party.) Deciding to just open all three chests, deciding Nylis was too busy eating cupcakes to dive for cover, discussing try to hide a wolf in the Bag of Holding for surprise wolf attacks. Everything was on the table, and people seemed to respond positively to that.