in which these tales come to a close... for now.
H.G.: Welcome back, viewers, to the Arteeteetee'o'ee'ee, here at the House of Monte. And we're taking you right back to the action at the fire temple, where the cleanup crew are arming for bear. They're at the entrance to the temple itself, where the remaining fire temple forces are waiting for them. Duncan the teenage ninja sneaks up to the entrance while invisible, and takes a peek at what's inside... it's a humongous cavern, absolutely gigantic. In the middle is a great big pit of molten lava, some fifty feet across. Floating on top of the pit is a square rock platform... there's a number of people on the platform, a cleric and a mage of some sort, and four guards. Also in the cavern, between the lava pit and the entrance, there's six skeletons wreathed in flame.
Roy: Nothing! That's nothing! This crew is so stupid, they'll blow their way past this lot without breaking a sweat!
H.G.: Don't forget, Roy, that these temple clerics can summon bloody big elementals, like the one that had Jayse pushing up the daisies last time. Meet one of those, and it's brown trousers time all round. Here we go, the cleanup crew have decided on a plan. They're going to lay down a barrage of boom spells, then charge in and mop up anything left standing.
Roy: I like that plan. It's completely stupid, which means it'll probably work.
H.G.: They're breaking out the scrolls of invisibility, and Jayse casts fly on Duncan the ninja, who disappears... he also gives scrolls of dispel magic to the angry necromancer, and the sorceress with huge Charisma. I think he's making a big assumption here, Roy, we've seen no evidence that the sorceress can read. The joke casts bless on everybody... and they're going in! The sorceress with huge Charisma and the wizard cast lightning bolt and ice burst respectively on to the platform! Well, so much for those guards.
Roy: Life is hard if you're a 1HD mook facing 9th level spellcasters. What are these guys doing in an EL 10 fight, anyway? Who designed this bloody dungeon?
H.G.: And the teenage ninja suddenly appears in a flash, some 30 to 40 feet above the platform! Someone, probably Tessimon, must have had an invisibility purge going, and he's flown right into it. He's so shocked, he only just manages to remember to get an arrow off.
Roy: I'm told that it's a zone of revelation spell, H.G., and it's from the Manual of the Planes. She's buffed up too, is Tessimon. I've got to ask, what's this bloody business with monsters buffing up before a fight, AND using enhancements from the splatbooks? It's unheard of!
H.G.: Meanwhile, the flaming skeletons lumber up and block the entryway, and they slash at the spellcasters! What a good thing they've got mage armour and shield spells up, and are harder to hit than fighters in full plate. And now the cleric and sorcerer on the platform complete a ritual, and a BLOODY MASSIVE GREATER ELEMENTAL APPEARS! Yes, a 32-foot-tall greater fire elemental has just popped into being with a thunderous roar, and it's right on top of, or should I say, right underneath Duncan. This plan is going pear-shaped right from the start. The elemental HITS THE TEENAGE NINJA FOR 40 POINTS OF DAMAGE!
Roy: And those were pissweak damage rolls, too.
H.G.: You were right about the brown trousers thing, Roy. That elemental has lit a fire under Duncan's butt; we can smell the scorched brown stuff from here. He suddenly decides that discretion is the better part of valour, and beats a hasty retreat off to the side of the cavern. The flaming skeletons have completely blocked the entryway, and the others are finding it hard to get into the cave. Oh, except for the joke, who tumbles past them and moves to block the elemental, which is striding up to join the fight. Those magic mushrooms must not quite have worn off yet. She doesn't care that it could incinerate her with a couple of hits! She's not suffering from brown trousers, oh no, not her!
Roy: You're quite right, H.G. But the red haze has dropped over her eyes, the scent of blood is in her nostrils. The crowd loves these displays of stupidity, especially when it gets someone killed. The best kind of stupidity is flamboyant stupidity, and there's few things as flamboyantly stupid as going toe-to-toe with a fire elemental five times taller than you.
H.G.: It's death-or-glory time, and self-preservation is going right out the door, here at the House of Monte. Well, except for the teenage ninja, who's sniping at Tessimon from about a mile away. The d*ckhead and the b*tch join forces to bull rush the flaming skeletons, and they push them out of the entryway. Jayse the wizard casts a spell at the cleric, but it fizzles! Tessimon not only has a zone of revelation spell going, but she's got spell resistance as well. The joke lands a solid hit on the greater fire elemental, for 26 points of damage! But now it's the elemental's turn, and it POUNDS THE JOKE INTO THE GROUND!
Roy: Yes, the joke has gone flat. Nobody's laughing anymore. As you said, H.G., it's death-or-glory time, and it could well be the former option for Padma.
H.G.: Wait, it's the turn of Brat, the necromancer on angry pills. He's angry all right, he's really angry at what's going on! He's got the dispel magic scroll that Jayse gave him, and he's angry enough to cast it RIGHT AT THE ELEMENTAL! And what do you know, he rolls a NATURAL 20 ON THE DISPEL CHECK! That's enough to send the elemental SCREAMING BACK TO ITS HOME PLANE!
Roy: I have to say, that was utterly brilliant, the equivalent of a try-saving tackle from the fullback. I wonder if Brat's ever given thought to playing rugby league?
H.G.: And not only that, as an encore he's angry enough to send a vampiric touch spell right at the sorcerer on the platform! The sorcerer botches his save, and freezes up solid! Tessimon doesn't like this turn of events at all, and she casts a hold person spell back, at Galadhriel. And the sorceress with huge Charisma also botches her save, and freezes up too!
Roy: We should mention, H.G., that Brat used a spectral hand to cast that vampiric touch at the sorcerer. Because vampiric touch is, as it says, a touch spell, and the sorcerer was located some distance away, on the platform. I'm saying this just to emphasise how H.G. and I are committed to bringing you nothing but the unvarnished truth.
H.G.: That's right. As Roy says, you can trust us, we wouldn't lie to you. And now Galadhriel's in trouble; she's held, right next to a flaming skeleton. It goes to town on her, doing 15 points of damage. That means she needs a 25 on her Fort save to survive the coup de grace attempt, which by my calculations, means at least a 19 on a d20. That's really tough... here comes the roll... it's an 18!
Roy: Oh, so close, and yet so far. You have to say, though, that... hang on, what's going on?
H.G.: She's NOT DEAD! Apparently, it's "CLOSE ENOUGH!" WELL, I NEVER!
Roy: GET THE DM OFF! THE DM IS BLIND!
H.G.: It's bedlam here at the House of Monte. That's the most outrageous refereeing decision I've ever seen in my life! There's no bloody way that was close enough! Everyone saw that die roll!
Roy: You're absolutely right, H.G. The rules are crystal clear: if you're the subject of a coup de grace attempt, you have to make a Fortitude save with a DC of 10 + the damage dealt, or be killed instantly. And 15 points of damage equates to a Fort save DC of 25. That's two-five, twenty-five -- you know, FIFTEEN plus TEN, or TWENTY plus FIVE, for some arithmetically-challenged DMs, not naming any names, of course! Not 24! And that means she needed a 19, not an 18! I don't care how much time Galadhriel's been around or how much everyone likes her, you can't start playing favourites now. I mean, what about NPCs' rights? Don't monsters and other adversaries count for this sort of treatment? Faceless horrors are people too, you know! As soon as DMs start thinking that player characters' lives somehow matter in a campaign, that'll be the end of D&D as we know it!
H.G.: I'm starting to have serious doubts about where this DM's priorities lie, Roy. Anyway, Jayse casts another ice burst, and shreds the sorcerer to bits. The fighters start hacking back at the flaming skeletons... and the joke must still be juiced up something horrid, because she leaps over the lava pit, right on to the platform! She charges at Tessimon, and now I know she's still juiced up something horrid, because she trips over her own feet and just barely avoids falling into the lava!
Roy: Tessimon's taking the platform up into the air, even as she's fighting the joke. She's disgusted at what just went on; she's not going to hang around!
H.G.: And now Padma's mushroom juice must have finally worn off, because she's just realised she's down to 12 hit points, and she's fighting a high-level cleric all by herself. She digs out a potion of cure moderate wounds, and sculls it down. What a pisspot. But what's this? It's the teenage ninja SWOOPING IN TO THE RESCUE! He SNEAK ATTACKS TESSIMON RIGHT WHERE IT HURTS, for 30 POINTS OF DAMAGE!
Roy: That's another brilliant move by the cleanup crew, I've got to say. Duncan noticed that the joke gave him a flanking opportunity, and he moved to take advantage of it. Maybe he should also give thought to playing rugby league.
H.G.: But Tessimon isn't dead yet, and now she's noticed that Duncan's right on the edge of the platform... she's going to bull rush him off the edge! And with a buffed-up Strength of 19, she easily succeeds. He gets knocked off the platform, and it rises up into the ceiling! Yes, it's gone THROUGH a hole in the ceiling, which we can now see was covered by an illusion. It's just Padma and Tessimon now. Tessimon's in trouble; she's severely injured. She pulls out her rod of viscid globs and strikes Padma with it!
Roy: By the way, H.G., that rod used to be a wand, and it first made its appearance 20-odd years ago, in the module "The Hall of the Fire Giant King". This module was, of course, written by our esteemed tongue-meister, Gary Gygax. I've got nothing but admiration for Gary's way of coming up with hard, tentacular things that spit sticky stuff at you. It's a singular gift.
H.G.: And Padma has managed to evade the worst effects of the viscid globs. That was Tessimon's last chance; I think we all know how this battle is going to end, and it's not going to be good for the priestess of the fire temple. Tessimon has that "I may be about to die, but f*ck you anyway" look in her eye. It's a look that will be familiar to thousands of veterans of dungeon crawls over the last twenty-seven years. The world goes into slow-motion as Padma steps in, easily dodging under Tessimon's guard, and brings her sword up, into the belly of her adversary, and out the other side. The light goes out in Tessimon's eyes, and she collapses to the floor. And the curtain comes down for the priestess of the fire temple!
Roy: Yes, a dramatic climax to the battle in the fire temple, H.G. But it's not quite over yet; Padma's still stuck on the platform, which is wedged in a hole in the ceiling.
H.G. You're right, Roy, and there's a chamber up here as well, with what looks like some valuable treasure. But now she's got to get out of this place, and she's examining the platform closely, looking for some sort of marking, or carvings maybe, runes of some kind that will show how to command this platform to move.
Roy: You know, it's probably something as simple as thinking "up" to move up, and "down" to move down.
H.G.: And you know what, Roy, you're absolutely right.
Roy: What a bloody joke!
H.G.: Padma brings the platform back down, with the body of Tessimon at her feet. And while they were fighting up there, the rest of the cleanup crew have cleaned up the remaining monsters in the cave. Jayse has cast a dispel magic on Galadhriel, removing the paralysis. Duff and Kondara have wiped up the flaming skeletons, and Duncan is killing off some fiendish dire bats that were summoned sometime during the fight. You know, "the fiendish dire bats" would be a great name for a rock band. I can't remember when they appeared, it must have been during the business with Galadhriel being "close enough" on her Fort save. Your thoughts, Roy?
Roy: Yes, thank you, H.G. It was a great climactic battle, full of drama and excitement, against some very strong opposition. I can't really add anything, H.G., I thought your call of the play captured it all -- the drama, the tension, the blood and guts....
H.G.: The fact that the ref was blind....
Roy: Um, yes, that too. That was a bit embarrassing, but let's face it, the fact is that every DM has an off day. I'm sure the cleanup crew won't make anything of this momentary lapse. And I'm sure they know that the next time they venture into this dungeon, the monsters will be just as tough, if not tougher, than they were this time. Because this dungeon still isn't finished, you know. They've wrecked all the temples of the elements, but there's still the Inner Fane, and the Outer Fane left. Who knows what horrible monsters and villains lurk on that island in the middle of the lake? And what's going to happen to the hapless sods who met the shade of Th****dun the elder god, in his abandoned temple? There's all sorts of things still left to clear up, trash to take out. And the cleanup crew is the mob to do the job.
H.G.: Yes, you're quite right, Roy. But for the time being, that's it from us. I'm H.G. Nelson, and he's Rampaging Roy Slaven, and we're signing off, from the House of Monte. Hope you enjoyed the show! Thank you!
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