Cast of Characters:
Bud, a level 3 dwarven cleric
Marthanes the Summoner, (level 4 Mage)
Tancrede, a level 3 cleric of Typhon (henchman)
Wulfengard,a level 4 dwarf fighter
Drev, a level 4 bard
Bart, a level 4 fighter
Mumford, a level 2 fighter
Malthena, a level 1 thief (henchman)
Akmed, a mook
Collothus, the Thulian (mage 1)
We ended last game in the dungeon. The players had met and engaged the Eld, and once the Eld made hostile gestures to seize Marthanes, battle was declared.
I may have mentioned before - laying out the battle map, and giving the players chits and tiles to represent players and monsters, is a sure fire way to signal a battle is difficult and requires tactical care. The battle against the Eld was in a large circular room, 60 or 80 feet across; the Eld were on a raised platform occupying the center of the room, guarding the portal, while the bugbear muscle (6 bugbears) was along the perimeter.
What was awesome about this setup was that the 6 Eld, all spell casters, stood back while the bugbears charged into combat; the players sent up their own fighters, while their casters and archers fell back as well, to shoot at the Eld. This formation would end up dominating the evening, taking two and a half hours to complete as a table top battle. It was intricate, tactical, and quite a lot of fun, bringing a bit of war game tactics to our table. The sides were like two offensive lines crashing into each other, to borrow a term from American football, with various 'quarterbacks' behind the lines lobbing passes. (Go Broncos).
In the case of the Eld, those passes getting lobbed over the bugbears were Sleep spells, Burning Hands, Choking Grip, and Charms. Winning initiative was key, because any time an archer tagged an Eld early, it spoiled a spell attempt. Meanwhile, Marthanes summoned his Hero and a squad of berserkers to reinforce the player's front line. Drev (the Squindian bard) and Malthena were the primary archers - although Malthena and Collothus were frequently getting knocked asleep by magic and required wake ups.
It was a fun and intense battle. Wulfengard, the Dwarf fighter, was one of the player MVP's, climbing the platform and taking the fight directly to the Eld. But the actual turning point was when Mumford quaffed the speed potion and chopped a hole through the line by taking out a bugbear, and then used his super speed to bum rush the Eld leader. He got out his mace and clubbed the Eld leader senseless.
No one died on the player's side, though Akmed was choked unconscious by Choking Grip, and Collothus spent most of the night asleep. The Eld had unusual weapons and armor, including a laser pistol. Bards in ACKS can do 'arcane dabbling' to learn how to use items, so Drev was able to learn how to use the pistol. Now he has a turban, a scimitar, and a laser pistol tucked into his sash. I'm not exaggerating when I say he becomes even more awesome after finding a bona fide 'flying carpet' in the near future.
Luckily, the actual portal to Aeron was closed. The players trussed their Eld prisoner and decided to make their way out of the dungeon. There was an interesting debate between returning with the Eld to Volmar, their new allies, or trying to smuggle the Eld into Muntburg where he could be interrogated at their leisure. They chose Muntburg.
We ended this one once the players got out of the dungeon, giving them some time in between games to figure out how they would smuggle an angry Eld prisoner past the guards and over to their house…