The Paladin and Dwarven Defenders charge in first, not-Surprising the Duergar who had a suspicion that something was lurking in the hallway. Lester and Kartug are close behind.
From the darkness, several Duergar Fighters and Rogues charge the Dwarves. There must be a spellcaster in range, and a powerful one, for a Blade Barrier springs into existence just outside the Tavern door, effectively barring Jaques, Wobberts, and Genive from following their allies into the room. It does not come into existence such that anyone need make a Reflex Save. Jaques casts Haste on the allied group inside the Tavern, which includes Lester and Kartug Igmutin.
Genive is the courageous sort, and thinks nothing of diving headlong through the Blade Barrier, making her Reflex save and emerging on the other side completely unscathed thanks to her Evasion ability. Not to be outdone in the field of derring-do, the Dread Pirate Wobberts also leaps through the Blade Barrier, arriving unhurt thanks to a good Save and a Ring of Evasion.
What comes next is an orgy of destruction, a bloodbath, a failure of strategy, a stroke of beneficial luck, and above all perhaps a warning about the mixed virtue and folly of charging into battle without full foreknowledge of one’s opponents. It is also an object lesson in the wisdom of placing spells where they will help, and not hinder, the Party.
Based in this Tavern area is indeed the command group for the Duergar. There are eight Rogues; twelve Fighters; and three Clerics of a level higher than any Hero of the Party. And their Commander, a Duergar Fighter about one and a half times anyone’s level of experience. This against five Heroes and eight Dwarfs.
The fight is illuminated by a few torches, the Dread Pirate Wobbert’s flaming rapier, and the Lantern Archon that Lester Summons to park at the ceiling and shed light. Sheltered by darkness outside the limits of the light, the Clerics are safe for quite a while, as too are the Commander and his bodyguards.
Fighters and Rogues advance first, meeting and engaging the Paladin and seven Dwarven Defenders in close melee. Lester’s Lantern Archon has a maddening effect on four Duergar; until they are killed later in the fight, these Deep Dwarfs will remain inflamed with an all-consuming desire to kill the glowing Archon hovering safely near the ceiling, well out of reach.
The Clerics, one close and two others hurrying within range, will prove the most damaging in this fight, both in short- and long-term effects. Among the many spells they cast specifically against the Party, and peripherally against the Dwarves, are such devastating Divine incantations as Blood to Water, Flame Strike, another Blood to Water, Sound Lance, Slay Living, Poison, Destruction, and True Seeing. The latter upon themselves, to defeat that which remains of Genive and Lester’s Invisibility.
Two of the Clerics are successful in casting Bestow Greater Curse. Kartug Igmutin fails his Will save; until lifted by a Wish or Miracle spell, he has been cursed with inaction – when in combat, on his action the half-Orc has only a 25% chance to act normally, otherwise he stands idle and does nothing. He is not Stunned or flat-footed, nor does he suffer penalty to AC or is denied any Saves or made prone to sneak attack or coup de grace. It is simply that when his opportunity comes to act, Kartug is only likely to do something one-quarter of the time.
The other unlucky recipient of Bestow Greater Curse, is Genive. The Spymaster failed her Will save, and suffers what for her is probably the best of a lot of terrible options to be Cursed with. She suffers a –6 penalty to both Charisma and Strength; again, a condition only to be lifted by a Wish or a Miracle.
Lester cranks out the Summons; the Lantern Archon was the first, to be followed by a small Fire Elemental that will light up the area and run mildly amok until it is caught in an Acid-converted Fireball spell from Jaques, and destroyed. Lester also Summons a trio of Dire Wolves which, while effective at first, fall to the onslaught of the Duergar Fighters.
Jaques, casting from the hallway outside the Tavern, begins the fight on a positive note, casting spells that hurt the middle ranks of the Duergar. A Chain Lightning spell converted to Acid is notable, so too is the Fireball converted to Acid. In fact the Acid Wizard is having a good go of things, until a second Blade Barrier springs up where he is standing, and Jaques finds himself hurt and in a passageway half-filled with a deadly force effect…