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Well, I pick up this account of our intrepid troupe as they near the end of the adventure “The Lightless Depths”.  The 6th adventure in the savage tides adventure path, everyone is now 11th level.  Also, I am sad to say, the last of my original players finished year 12 last year (2012).  So now the entire party is made up of players who only know the Savage Tides adventure path via this blog, and the occasional rambling anecdote by me.  Which when I come to think of it are kinda the same thing…  To those players who started this story, and So many other stories, with me my thanks, you are missed.  Your madcap exploits will live on in the memories of those of us who remember.  Your Triumphs and Epic Fails will live on in SGC mythology.  You know who you are. 🙂

Over the last few weeks a large influx of new players has seen the party line up change dramatically   Slightly too many, but that’s cool I’m used to it and everyone seems to be having fun.  Briefly, after almost a week of game time, travelling through the underdark of the Isle of Dread. During their travels they faced many dangers, including diseased fanatical Troglodytes, townships guarded by Umberhulks, Elder black puddings, giant insect thingies.  Finally come to a huge subterranean city that looks like a huge coral reef that has been deprived of water for centuries.

The cavern is lit be 3 pillars of purple flame that sickens anyone who approaches.  While marching through the alien cityscape through a miasma you would have trouble carving with a +3 Holy Avenger, the party is surprised by a couple of puddles that suddenly animate and start whomping our heroes like a willow…made of not quite right water…okay bad analogy, but I couldn’t resist the alliteration. 😛  Harok, a Half Orc fighter wielding a Goliath Maul [Anvil on a Stick] sets about making a splash, but gets as good as he gives, finishing the battle on only 3 HP.  One of the animated puddles (constructs of some kind) creates a Wall of Ice, cutting Harok and a couple of others off from the rest of the abnormally large party.  The Favoured Soul, Smitty uses Stone Shape to carve a passage around the Ice Wall through a building.  The rest of the party slowly make their way through the passage.  Soon the tide turns and the puddles are overwhelmed.

The City, as mentioned is weird and icky. As our heroes travel the length of it they are startled by howls and screams, turns out this is the buildings themselves giving vent to their agony.  A purple worm is found pinned by a building that is apparently eating it. and the Whole group is buried in an avalanche of rotting flesh as a building collapses on them.  A group of Korpru and their Troglodyte slaves are destroyed when the Wizard, who managed to teleported out of the gunk, surprised them with a Fireball.

More of this in coming weeks.

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Stick a fork in it Farshore is finally done! 

Jax flies out and using a clever combination of invisibility, dimension hop, and shatter manages to disable the ballista and long-boat winches on a  couple of the pirates’ ships as they approach.

Honeydew instructs his Zombie Elasmosaurus, picked up while repairing the Sea Wyvern, to smash one of the ships to toothpick sized splinters.  Which it does, while half of the crew fire volley after volley of crossbow bolts into its rotting hide, as the other half of the crew evacuate via the remaining longboats. 

The rest of the party awaits the pirates on the docks.  Make short work of the first couple of longboat loads, but are soon overwhelmed.  The party retreats in poor form to the barricade to help the defenders for a while.  All goes well untill Fireballs start to fall from a Yuanti Sorcerer aboard one of the attacking ships.  Frostia decides to fly out there and do something about it.  So, invisible, and protected from fire, The party’s sorcerer proceeds to wreak havoc among the enemy with lightning bolts, killing one of the Yuanti’s henchmen, a few crew members left to man the ballista, badly wounding everyone else.  The enemy sorcerer, responds first with a fire ball which, of course, does negligible damage then with a Lightning bolt of his own, as his henchmen plug a couple of arrows into Frostia.  On 1 Hp she heals up a bit a heads back for reinforcements.  The arcane archer agrees to go back with Frostia and make short work of those attackers left on that ship. 

 Vathus Vanderboran releases his Vrocks, who drop behind the defenders’ lines and attempt to summon some extra Vrocks as reinforcements, the attempt fails so they shrug and rip into the rear of the defenders.  Our heroes move to engage this new threat, but quickly learn that most of their weapons are useless.  However, both the Paladin and the Rogue have holy weapons, and the Paladin starts to dish out some righteous pain.  

Used to look like this…

          

Now looks like this…

 

After the Vrocks have been dealt with, Lavinia’s brother, Vanthus, turns up and tries to convince Lavinia to surrender, when she refuses he uses a spell like ability  Dominate, which Lavinia laughs off. A bit miffed he then uses Mass Suggestion to challenge members of the party to drop weapons and armour and fight him man to man.  Two of out heroes succumb to this mental attack and begin to disarm!

Cleric, honeydew, casts Airwalk to get closer to the flying enemy.  Vanderboran tries one last time Suggest to, the arcane archer that a group of beleaguered defenders need help.  The archer resists once more and continues to fire.  Vanthus flies in closer and attacks with Fear spell effect.  No effect.  Outraged The fiendish captain prepares to attack with melee weapons.

Fortunately at this point the cleric casts Dismissal.  Vanderboran, who is now a half-demon, presumably through some dark ritual, fails to resist the divine magic and is cast into one of the Lower Hells.  His new home plane!  Hah!  So instead of being a Half-Demon on the material plane he is a Half-Human on the demonic plane.  He is in for a Very bad time!  Plus I get to play with a reoccurring villain! 🙂

A little anticlimactic, completely legit however.  This adventure took Much longer than it should have.  Mainly because we kept trying to play the final invasion scene with a kind of squad system….  This did not work out well at all!  Sorry guys, thought it might be cool, but live and learn 0_0.

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A second Gargoyle attack, this time led by the chieftain, wearing the crown of the gargoyles.  The Crown bestows DR/5 adamantine on the wearer and the Chief has level in Barbarian.  These capabilities added to his inherent Gargoyle features make him a pretty tough customer.  The Warblade engages the chieftain while the two remaining Gargoyles rip into the rest of the party.  One of them tries to barge Ural off the cliff, but doesn’t quite manage it.  Minsc is more than a match for the crowned Gargoyle and once he takes  it down, the Warblade is free to help dispatch the remaining enemies, the skirmish is soon over.

The group of survivors reach a small mountain pass early the next afternoon,  a few miles beyond the pass a huge section of the ancient highway is just gone, the victim of time and erosion.  The group head inland, and spend the night in the narrow pass.  Emerging late the following morning to face the Fogmire Jungle.  As the name suggests the jungle is very foggy… and wet, with visibility down to about 60 ft.  The creatures and plants of this jungle are twisted and deformed. 

As dusk approaches the travellers discover some ruins.  Not liking the  idea of spending the night here they decide to fortify the camp as much as they can before dark.  With a decent Knowledge Architecture from the Druid, and some considerable brawn from Warblade and Monk, they do a respectable job.  Turns out the effort was worth it.

The camp is crowded but the low walls are easily defended, large bonfires burn about 15-20 feet out from the walls to illuminate anyone approaching,  unfortunately when the enemy does come no-one sees them…   The first hint of an attack is a slight shifting of the loose gravel beside Lightfist as if something large had landed right beside him (on the inside of the wall), nothing is visible though.  Jax a twinblade fighter doesn’t hear gravel,  but something worse…a hastely silenced Giggle, as if a four-year old girl, who just happened to be Seven Foot Tall, weigh 300 lbs, and have teeth much to large for her mouth, had slapped a paw over her face to stifle a titter.  The smell of rank, wet fur wafts through the camp.   An instant later all hell breaks loose, two bipedal beauties appear in the parties midst, each is around seven ft tall with huge claws and teeth.   They resemble overgrown feral orangutans, however they wear clothing and jewellry and their bloodshot eyes hold a malevolent intelligence.  The horse takes one look at these creatures  and bolts into the dark foggy night, taking with it the fishing net that had been draped around one side of the camp.

The one beside Lightfist rips into him taking him down to half Hp, the other begins shredding the fighter.  At this point a third beastie appears atop the low wall directly beside Minsc, who also takes a face full of claws and teeth.  Minsc replies by hacking into the thing atop the low wall with two attacks, he uses Warblade maneuvers, almost pulls off a crit. and his damage  rolls are very high, however due to Damage Reductions and Resistances, Minsc does much less damage than anticipated.  The Beast that appeared near Lightfist makes a successful grab at Ural and the pair of them flicker in and out reality, as Ural resists being teleported out of the camp.  The creature’s abduction attemp has failed and she looks startled and peeved then decides to give herself some room to try again.  picking Ural up by his head, claws digging into his face, She dashes off into the jungle with him.  Lightfist is too badly hurt to attempt an immediate rescue and waits for the Druid to heal him a bit.  Jax slices into the creature next to him causing some minor wounds.  Charia channels a Shocking Grasp spell through his pole-arm, unfortunately this doesn’t even scorch the enemy’s matted orange fur. 

Off in the jungle Lightfist hears Ural give a grunt of pain and then nothing more.   The large beastie atop the wall leaps onto Charia, who’s armour holds surprisingly well, so that only one claw attack hurts him.  Then, using him as a springboard the creature leaps over the wall on the other side of the camp and drops out of sight.  Minsc, Lightfist and Percy give chase, only to see the thing disappear in a flash of purple light and foul-smelling smoke.  The remaining creature, realizing she has been abandoned by her companions, disengages and disappears in a similar fashion.  The Demonic beasties are gone but so is Ural.

Note:  These demons have  fast and mobile combat tactics.  The thrive on charges and a formidable Pounce attack (works like a Spring or Ride by attack).  Confining the camp within fairly solid stone walls and a netted area forced these creatures to restrict their movements and attacks.  Things could have been a lot worse guys, well done. 🙂

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This will be a long update spanning a couple of gaming sessions.

Israphel uses his fascinate ability incapacitating two Terror Birds.  Sneaky manages to stay hidden and gets in a second sneak attack, doing a good bit of damage.  This gets him noticed however and so stomped into the dirt for his trouble.  Broken and bleeding out, Sneaky is on 3 HP. Malcivar draws his scimitar and, using blade of blood, does some serious damage to the same huge bird.

Dancia Cures Sneaky and drags him to 3 Hp.   The Giant pugilist makes a double movement , passing between two of the Birds, smacking each of them on the back of the head on his way through, bringing them out of their fascinated state.  It finishes the round looming over the druid, who maintains his cool and continues his casting, dense black clouds gather to him crackling with energy. Lightfist tumbles through the giant’s legs and using his Spring Attack feat to punch his opponent in the Vulnerables on his way through.  Unfortunately he’s off the mark, and the giant is spared for the moment.  Percy the Druid begins casting Call Lightning. 

Picture this guy with his fists on fire...It was never going to end well...

The Terror Birds rip into the adventurers’ ranks, dividing each of their 3 attacks among the nearest opponents, Monk, Cleric, Ranger & Bard, shredding armour and flesh with axe like beaks and talons like butchers knives. Sneaky moves carefully down the slope and fires his longbow.  Lightfist holds his action until the Cleric can hit him with a cure spell, in the mean time Percy finishes his Call lightning spell with aplomb in the face of the muscle-bound menace, hammering the worst hurt of the TBs with a bolt of energy.  Then taking a glancing Attack of Opportunity on the chin, from the massive blazing fists, and the 21 hp that came with it, Percy wisely moves 30 ft away from the action. 

Malcivar hits the giant with a great spell for this kind of  opponent, Ray of Enfeeblement.  Dropping the dangerous creature’s primary stat, strength, from 29 down to 25, so attack and damage are dropped by two each.   Dancia delivers another effective spell, Blindness.  Now all attacks from this deadly enemy have a 50/50 chance of missing  outright!  One of the TBs finally goes down under the concerted efforts of Malcivar, Sneaky, Israphel & Percy’s Lightning.

Following week…

Nugai shows up this week and Artix the Paladin is played by Malcivar’s player.  Israphel’s player has moved to a new game.  So overall some much-needed muscle added to the brawl. 

The remaining Tb’s slash and peck at the beleaguered heroes tearing into Dancia, Malcivar and Nugai, leaving Nugai with 10 HP.  Lightfist, with speed and agility that belies his bulk, leaps in to deliver a heavy blow that damages the huge pugilist for the first time, once again retreating to avoid the wild blows of the of his blind opponent.  Percy drops a lightning bolt on the giant, hurting some more.  Malcivar plunges two more arrows into one of the remaining Terror Birds wounding it badly, and Artix leaps to engage the giant but fails to penetrate its solid armour.  Dancia delivers a touch attack to a TB, successfully Cursing it with -4 to all of it’s attacks and saves.  She then uses her Combat Expertise to amp. up her Armour Class.  The Giant makes a devastating attack into the space recently vacated by Lightfist, the whooshing roar of his flaming Tekko fills the air followed by a frustrated grunt from the giant.  He then moves cautiously towards the sounds of combat coming from behind him, specifically towards the sound of chanting coming from one of those pesky spell casters, Nugai…

Nugai bravely, and as it turns out foolishly, maintains his position slamming a Sonic Lance into the badly wounded TB sending feathers flying.  Sneaky decides the longbow isn’t any fun and pulls his trusty rapier.  Using the dust and confusion of the battle delivers a further attack to the TB who has been badly carved up by this time and looking groggy and confused from loss of blood…and possibly limbs.  Despite the drubbing our adventurers have recieved up till now there is a definite feeling that the battle has swung in their favour and that victory is inevitable.

The Cursed TB takes some wild swings at Dancia, however due to her enhanced AC and the TB’s negatives to attack, it only manages to scrape the Cleric with a talon.  The other TB, under no such restraints cleaves into Artix and Malcivar.  Percy directs his last Lightning Bolt onto the Giant then casts Shillelagh on his club in preparation for melee combat.  The Monk uses his Spring Attack to dart in and kick the giant once more.  Malcivar abandons his bow and draws his Scimitar, once again calling upon his Blade of Blood spell to deliver a serious wound to the badly munted TB leaving it with just a couple of HP.

The blind giant reaches out towards the sound of Nugai’s chanting, and attempts a trip attack on the hapless Warmage.  Despite the 50/50 miss chance due to blindness he gets a firm hold on Nugai’s head and sweeps his feet from under him, slamming him into the ground with stunning force.  I allow the player to make the next miss chance roll, as the huge flaming fist draws back to pound the prone Warmage.  Alas the Giant does not miss.  The last thing Nugai sees is a flaming fist that takes up his whole field of vision. A blinding, burning impact…then nothing.  Nugai who only had 10 Hp, is bludgeoned for 21 HP damage by the enormous punch, and so joins the swollen ranks of adventurers who have met violent, bloody and abrupt endings playing DnD.  R.I.P. Nugai!

However that isn’t all!  Sneaky, who as you might recall,  has only 3 Hp left, makes the last mistake of his long adventuring career.  (This is Sneaky’s second incarnation over the last 4 years).  Instead of nipping off quietly and chugging a couple of Cure potions he decides to plunge into the middle of the fray!  He tumbles gracefully through the gap between the two remaining Terror Birds, to take up a flanking position with Malcivar.  Using his Sneak attack one last time he rips his rapier into TB leaving it barely conscious.  However, in its death throes the bird lashes out randomly at those surrounding it taking Sneaky in the chest with its axe-like beak and inflicting 14 Hp damage… And so Sneaky joins his comrade Nugai on his trip to the otherworld…as the rest of his comrades continue to battle to its bitter end… then loot his corpse.  As Sneaky would have wanted it. 😉

R.I.P Nugai and Sneaky

At this point, somewhat belatedly, Artix really hits his stride, cutting the Giant pugilist time and again with huge strikes from his Vicious Great-Sword.  Malcivar lays about him with his scimitar, finally taking down the second TB, and ripping into the last TB.  Lightfist abandons his earlier tactics and joins the Paladin,taking up a flanking position and pounding on the giant.  Artix delivers the fatal blow to the huge opponent, and the rest of the group beat the snot out of the remaining Terror Bird.  The enemy is dead, but at great cost.

Sorry guys that’s the way the trail rations crumble.  I have not killed many characters in a long DMing career, spanning 25 years or more.  But sometimes the right (or wrong) combination of rolls added to players’ suicidal stupidity, results in character deaths, and no amount of fudging the rolls behind the screen can save you 🙂

 

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Crossing the relatively open grasslands the companions get about half way across when they come across a young Diplodocus being hunted by a large group of  Terror Birds.  At Ural’s urging of the heroes decide to aid the dinosaur and attack the birds hoping to distract them.  This works too well and the TBs break off their hunt and come after the party.  The fight is short and messy, and the group continues on towards the mountains. 

Around mid-afternoon our excellent explorers notice ruins amongst the dense jungle foliage.  Spot checks be Sneaky and Malcivar reveal quick scuttling movements amongst the crumbling buildings.  Everything is covered in spider webs of all shapes and sizes.  At the centre of the ruins stands a bone and web throne encounter the Araneae spider queen, ruler of these ruins , Ural and Malcivar speak to her in Sylvan and interpret as the bard spins great and heroic tales of the outside world.  The Queen listens avidly and in gratitude gives them directions to a tunnel through the mountain range and a warning about the TB nests near the entrance.

Coming to the foot of the mountains Sneaky and Malcivar scout out the TB nests, three huge broody Terror Birds tend their nests, and don’t notice Sneaky and Malcivar until a high-pitched whistle alerts them.  The three TBs run up the side of the gully where their nests are hidden and make for the rest of the party standing 40 -50 feet back from the edge.  Malcivar and Sneaky take advantage of the bird’s inattention and ambush one of them, inflicting over 50 HP damage!  The large predator stumbles to a halt and turns her malevolent gaze on the source of her pain.  These Terror Birds are much larger than those encountered so far,  standing around 5 ft taller, their HP and the damage they are capable of are also proportionately greater.  At the end of the combat round a Hill Giant stands up from behind a rise across the gully and hurls a head-sized rock at Sneaky, catching him a glancing blow and dealing 11 HP.  After his surprise appearance the giant moves into cover using a stand of scrubby undergrowth in the bottom of the  gully.

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Two week update.

Week One.

After the first harrowing night, our fearless heroes decide the faster they find a way out of the Sargasso the better.  Baring any better ideas it is decided to follow the journal’s advice and search out the Dark Heart of this unnatural land.  Despite the fact that this vast mat of seaweed is floating and therefore constantly changing relative position to the sun, Malcivar manages to stick to a fairly straight line straight into the centre mass of the Sargasso thanks to an awesome survival roll.  After a little more than half a day’s travel they find the original victim of this malicious organism, a ship called the Thunderer, which has been mired in the Sargasso for more than half a century.  This vessel is better preserved than the others, however it is still vine choked and rotting.  Skeletons and equipment are clearly discernible among the weed. 

As the party duck into the hold Sneaky and Malcivar spot a vast horde of ZTs converging slowly on the ship… Adding a bit of urgency to the expedition. 

Moving quickly through the rotting hulk, the party finds a massive hole 15 ft x 15 ft in the hold of the Thunderer. Three ZTs drag themselves free of the weed covered walls and attack savagely from many points, drawing attention from the gaping hole that drops 100 ft straight down into the Sargasso.  Confident now in dealing with these Vine Horrors the party makes short work of them and only one enemy is left standing as we wind up play for the session.

Week Two.

Feeling her children being slaughtered at such close range is more than the Dark Mother of the Sargasso can stand. She bursts from the Maw, slashing and biting as she rises.  Lightfist is caught by a claw, the second claw misses, but her huge teeth close around Sneaky with a sickening crunch, munching him down to 7 Hp with a Critical Hit.     

“She is a huge, foul-smelling sack of vegetation that is wreathed in screaming humanoid forms struggling to free themselves. A vast distended belly bathed in foul green mucus hangs from the vaguely humanoid form. Infantile cries echo from the hideous passengers that pull themselves from their mother. Twenty feet tall, the grotesque hybrid of woman and plant is a nightmare of mucoid arms and clustered eyes. It was a deviant thing of rot, a bulk that rises to a head of eyes and barbed, thorny teeth”   Usually found in jungles and swamps, this rare subspecies of Mother of All, is aquatic, old and vast.

Insert Assorted Mum Cliches Here...

The First round of combat goes badly for Mummy dearest.  Malcivar takes damage from an attack of opportunity while peppering her with arrows, doing serious damage despite her DR to weapon not made of cold iron.   Artix lashes out with his trusty great sword using Power attack and Smite Evil as well as His Sword’s vicious ability.  The Smite Evil is wasted, since Mum is not evil.  Despite this and the DR/5,  she Still takes over 70 Hp damage and is down to about 1/3 Hp!  In Half a Combat Round! 😡   Things are looking very grim.  Big Momma is shocked and enraged, no-one has hurt her like this for decades, and none have ever survived after offering such disrespect.

More ZTs turn up to pound the characters, keeping their efforts uncoordinated and them pinning them down.  The children thrashing about on Mum’s sides miss with most of their attacks, their slender tendrils whipping ineffectually through empty space.  Lightfist slips up to the edge of the maw delivering sledgehammer punches and kicks to the stinking torso of the creature.  Minsc has a very good go at grappling the monstrous plant, but doesn’t quite manage to get a good grip on the Huge Slimy Plant Creature, surprise, surprise…  Sneaky jabs with his rapier, whittling away at her dwindling Hp. Nugai, badly hurt by ZTs gulps down Cure Mod. Wounds potion and is restored to 13 Hp.  The Dark Mother lashes out desperately and with horrible effect.  Minsc’s and Lightfist’s Hp are brought down to dangerous levels.  Nugai however, who had just healed himself up to 13 Hp, finds himself being munched on like a puppy’s chew toy, taking 22 Hp damage!  This takes him to death’s door at -9 Hp, he has 1 combat round to either stabilize or be treated with a healing spell.  Dancia is on the other side of the room with the huge angry plant Mum between herself and Nugai.  Not good 🙂 

Most of our heroes have been beaten and chomped down to low Hp.  So when Malcivar slams three more arrows into the thrashing mass, quickly followed up by a deadly slash by Artix, sending the stinking mass of slime, weed, claws and teeth collapses back into the maw, there is a cheer and a palpable sense of relief.  This is short-lived,  as tremors pass through the ship, and water rushes to fill the maw.  The organism that held the Sargasso together for more than 60 years is dead, and now this dark unnatural land is coming apart.

Minsc pours a healing potion down Nugai’s throat, he Artix and Dancia help him on deck and start constructing a rickety raft from the sodden timber of the Thunderer.  Enough to hold equipment and armour and cling to for a rest while treading water.  Lightfist and Sneaky make a swift check of the rest of the hold and find a stash of treasure scattered across the floor from chests long fallen apart.  As well as a tower shield and a scroll case containing three arcane spells.  All is gathered up and tipped into Dancia’s portable hole. 

Within 20 minutes the ship has sunk beneath the waves, as have all other ships within sight.  The party has a fairly easy time treading water until the sea wyvern turns up and pulls them from the ocean, there are 2 Cloaks of the Manta ray in the party and plenty of wreckage to cling to. 

This adventure nears its conclusion.  The Isle of Dread draws near, and all will be well once they team up with Lavinia and the crew of the Blur Nixie at Farshore… Right? 😉

Come on!  Where would be the fun in that?

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The final wave of ZTs for the night arrives silently, and stay on the edge of the fog just in sight.  Only four Zombie Triffids this time, they each stop and summon an assassin vine close to the ship.  One each for fore and  aft as well as port and starboard. 

As the battle starts the heroes fight to keep the Vines at bay while trying to make the occasional attack on the ZTs on the edge of the mist.  They soon realize the futility of this tactic when the ZTs just summon more Vines as an old one is destroyed. 

The Warblade is the first to understand what is needed, leaping off the ship and making his way at a stumbling run in full plate over the rough and soggy terrain, toward the ZT stationed at the aft of the Sea Wyvern.  He makes it to the enemy by the end of his round but before he can take his next action the ZT summons another Vine to attack and grapple him, despite having a huge bonus to grapple Minsc is belted and tied up for a round.  The others in the team follows his example, especially the ranged specialists.  Leaving Artix to hold off the bulk of the vines, Nugai and Malcivar pour fire on the ZTs.  Lightning bolts and arrows finding their mark time and again.

Lightfist also makes the leap onto the Sargasso moving to within  15 ft of a ZT before letting loose with his sling.  A large one of course, doing 11 pt damage with a lead ball the size of a small cannonball.  Minsc escapes from the vine and starts turning it to splinters,  Artix, sneaky Dancia and Israphale do a good job keeping the Vines at bay.  Lightfist & Minsc, backed up by Nugai and Malcivar take down the ZTs.  Because of our limited gaming time, I decide to speed things up by having the vines retreat as the Zts that summoned them are eliminated so that things get progressively easier as they take out each ZT.

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