The party discussed courses of action and the consensus was to question Friar Tanin (who Morax has been sent to kill…don’t tell anyone!) and his two assistants (half-orcs in full plate with maces and scars suggesting they’d had their tongues cut out). They surprised us with the suggestion that they’d help us clear out the Caves of Chaos, if we could only find the entrance. So the party set out to find the caves — we’d have to do that eventually anyway, right?
In the woods, we wandered a bit until we came across some kobold scouts, which the elf surprised (he’s been scouting ahead). After a quick fight the kobolds were all killed and the elf was unconscious, but my PC healed him and we carried on.
We followed the kobold’s tracks, thanks to our ranger, and eventually stumbled onto a huge hollowed out tree with a hermit living in it. The party was invited in, but only the ranger, elf, and magic-user actually went in; leaving the paladin and half-orc outside and suspicious, looking for a trap. (The dwarf’s player couldn’t make it this time.) Just as we notice claw marks on the tree, the hermit unleashed his pet panther or leopard or whatever on the party, who fought desperately in the close quarters. The elf went down. Again.
The party managed to kill the hermit and the ranger used his psionics to put the cat into a coma (did I mention this bastard has an 18 Str, 18 Con, and stats high enough to qualify both for rangerhood and psionics!?!). We found a magic ring and dagger and a potion. Morax took the dagger and the magic-user held on to the other items, identifying the potion as Invisibility by its taste.
We rested up it the hermit’s hovel and then proceeded again, eventually walking into an ambush: six kobolds with light crossbows, firing from cover. They got surprise and since the DM is trying out BtB everything, thier bolts did TRIPLE damage during the surprise segments, felling the ranger almost immediately. The kobolds then won initiative and proceeded to knock out the paladin and magic-user.
So Morax and the elf beat a hasty retreat, not even stopping to try to rescue
the magic items and treasure fallen PCs! (Actually it was already quite close to quitting time and by the time we got out of crossbow range, the kobolds had already dragged off the unconscious party members, probably to put their heads on pikes).
So, three new PCs — another ranger and magic-user, although the paladin player (either due to low roles or choice) made a fighter. Once more unto the breach…
The DM kind of wavered about whether the kobolds take captives, so there might be a search and rescue operation in the future. The psionic ranger Ubermensch is worth saving!