Spike's Journal

Being the ramblings of Revan "Spike" Alleyspawn, about his misadventures in what he believes to be the World's Largest Dungeon.

Coldeven 6: Priorities (Day 4)

It's been a few hours since it happened, but today we almost bought it. We'd become engaged in a sort of running battle with some large black dog-like creatures, which I've since learned are called shadow mastiffs. They set up this terrible howling which chilled me (and others) to the bone.

We'd killed several, and I knew it was stupid, the creatures weren't that tough, but every time I heard that noise I felt this terrible compulsion to run. At least I wasn't alone in that. It's a wonder that none of use were picked off as we ran in every direction at our best speed, but somehow we managed. Asilky seemed the most immune, and held the line against the beasts until we could regroup. In the end though, it turned out that our very succeptability to the creature's howling was what would save us.

You see, the mastiffs also have this ability to fade into the shadows, becoming effectively invisible. We observed it once in an early encounter, but I struck out at the area where the thing had disappeared, and I still hit and killed it, so the ability didn't really fill us all with concern. Definitely a case of underthinking the situation, I'd say.

"Hey, didn't these things have some sort of ability to fade into the shadows?"

You see, we found a room with four of the beasts, they howled, and several of us went tearing off in unnatural fear. Asilky, thinking quickly, shut the door. The things, though clearly more intelligent than normal dogs, didn't have hands, after all. When the rest of us had overcome our terror and returned, we yanked open the door, only to find the room empty, the beasts having left through the other door. Something about the situation bugged me, but I couldn't figure out what it was.

We cautiously moved into the room, and B.B. headed over to check out the far door, while Eaora and others chatted about a mysterious apparatus in the corner with many gears which had apparently been stopped when someone jammed a corspe into the mechanism. It was at this point that I realized what was troubling me, and spoke up: "Hey," I asked, "didn't these things have some sort of ability to fade into the shadows?"

The nine shadow mastiffs hiding around the edges of the room leapt upon us in that instant, and a chaotic fight began that I was pretty sure was going to be my last. Eaora went down almost right away, and it looked like several of us, including Lo-Kag and K., were going to be joining her quickly. I was swinging my chain wildly in all directions trying to keep them off me, and managed to back into a corner, but I wasn't hurting them fast enough, and it seemed clear that if my friends all went down, I would be joining them shortly thereafter.

Lo-Kag has said something a few times about having an evil eye. I didn't know what to think of that before, but today I finally got to see him use it. Badly wounded, and bleeding from many bites and claw marks, he paused in the middle of melee to fix his strange-colored eye on one of the creatures. Exactly how it worked, I can't tell you, but the mastiff jerked as if struck, and made a whining noise like a dog that had been kicked by its master. It didn't take it out of the combat, but it certainly seemed to slow it down a good deal.

"It's either an ally, or we're all dead. Assume it's an ally."

None of us knew whether Eaora was still alive, of course, but several of us were keeping an eye on her, and noticed an armored hand reach in through the door, grab her leg, and drag her out of the room. Despite the still-swirling melee, many of my friends started trying to go to her aid, but I shouted out, "Guys, it's either an ally, or we're all dead! Assume it's an ally!" Which I figure is a succinct a distillation of Matrim's Guide to Victory as I've managed in some time.

Matrim's Guide to Victory: Know your Priorities.
I've mentioned Matrim, the only paladin I could ever stand, before. One time, I was asking him what the typical paladin's secret was. As a rule, they arent't particularly bright or imaginative, they're too weighted down with moral baggage to make really down-and-dirty fighters, and they're always biting off more than they can chew. Yet they still seem uncannily effective. Matrim smiled, and explained that paladins were very good at prioritization. I must've showed my doubt, because he explained further.

Once, he was exploring an underground excavation with some companions, when a door slammed shut and the room they were in began to fill with water. All of them began working on the door, but couldn't get it open. Suddenly, they were attacked by a giant tentacled aquatic creature that had come in with the water. Matrim began to fight it, but it was more powerful than he was, and it became clear that he couldn't defeat it without assistance. His companions began to leave the door alone to help him with the creature, but he yelled "Get back to the door! I'm sure I can hold off this creature long enough for us to drown!"

Paladins, he explained, have a strict code, that lets them know, almost intuitively, how to balance concerns like that against each other. He said he didn't have to even think about whether it was worth him risking his life to give his companions time to get the door open, it was obvious that it was. As a result, they
did manage to get it open, and all of them survived. Now, I'm not crazy enough to think my priorities are anything like those of a paladin, 'cause they're not, but I've been in enough scraps to know that Matrim was certainly right about the importance of quick, correct prioritization.

It did turn out to be an ally, of course, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this down now. A beautiful, if a bit unearthly and heavily armored, woman named Sper entered the room and began to lash at the mastiffs with lightning bolts. They got fed up with that pretty quickly, and fled the scene.

It turns out that Sper had seen B.B. while she was running panicked through the corridors due to the mastiff's fearsome howling, and wondered enough about her to investigate. So, ironically, if the creatures hadn't frightened us so badly, they probably would have beaten us handily.

I've got to eat something. I'll write more about Sper (and her associates) when I can. They've told us a lot, little of it good.

Blogger Glenn writes...

My accounting:
    Enemies Defeated: 10 (48 total)
    Traps Encountered: 0 (5 total)
    Wealth Acquired: 450 gp (54,896gp total)
    Food Remaining: 10 days.
Interesting Acquisitions:
    Curative Potion (150 gp)
    Finely-crafted Halberd (300 gp)

Anonymous Anonymous writes...

This is so entertaining - you are an excellent writer. Can't wait for the continuing story.

Blogger cklarock writes...

Love the journal. I liked it so much, I signed up here just to tell you I like it. How's that for a lotta like?

I just started running the WLD, and have been prowling around looking at various blogs; this is the only one so far that I've been coming back to. Clever + wit + D&D makes me happy. Keep it up, and whatever you do, when you get to the . . . < spoiler content removed > . . . the whole room!


Blogger Glenn writes...

Thanks for the positive feedback guys.


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