This story takes place roughly two days after the previous episode, wherein the Glass Breakers had agreed to help a pair of dwarves that had arrived in Phandalin the day before, looking for help dealing with a band of orcs that had driven them out of the cave they were exploring up to that point. There was also a pair of rock gnomes from Gnomengarde that were also looking for help in dealing with the case of their fellow recluses going missing every so often, though that’s not part of this specific story.
As the party ventured further into the cave, Rare (tiefling cleric) quickly learned that it was, in actuality, a ruined dwarven settlement and that further inside stood a temple dedicated to Abbathor, the dwarven god of greed. The main hall of the temple was mostly empty when the party made their way inside, though there were four separate doors left open. Having shifted into his “dumb persona” in the earlier encounters they had gotten into outside, Jameson (rock gnome barbarian/ranger) hastily dashed inside one of the open doors, prompting some of the others to attempt to call him back with little success.
As the gnome ventured further inside, he could make out the silhouette of another orc and loudly yelled out to his companions, “Orc! I see an orc!” Naturally, the orc that was only a few feet in front of him turned to Jameson’s direction, revealing that this orc had company; one of them was an orc that didn’t look as well-equipped but otherwise looked similar to the one the gnome had caught sight of, while the other appeared to have a glowing green eye – an Eye of Gruumsh orc. And so, with the orcs immediately showing hostility at the sight of the intruding gnome, everyone rolled for initiative.
Now, Jameson had taken a bit of a beating from the earlier encounters, one of which involved a Claw of Luthic orc commanding two cave bears. In addition, by this point, he had used up all of his rages, so he wouldn’t be able to tank as much damage in a fight until he took a long rest.
This would quickly prove to be problematic as both the Eye of Gruumsh orc and the more well-armed orc – whom by this point the party knows is an orc war chief – had a feature that made damage dealt from weapon attacks made by them rather scary at the party’s relatively-low level – Gruumsh’s Fury. For anyone asking, this feature allowed them to roll an additional d8 to the damage roll of a weapon attack that manages to make its mark. On top of that, the orc war chief was able to attack twice in one turn and wielded a greataxe, meaning potentially even bigger damage from him.
For the first half of the encounter, none of the party members that had gone to help Jameson were able to even scratch the war chief due to some poor luck with their dice rolls. However, one badass moment that did occur was when the Eye of Gruumsh orc attempted to cast Command on Jameson and force him to grovel while the latter was in his dumb persona.
Now, the player and I had agreed that Jameson’s dumb persona would have a 7 in his Wisdom score in exchange for a capped Dexterity score of 20. As the Command spell was cast, Jameson rolled for his Wisdom save against it. He ended up rolling a total of 11, which was just enough to pass the saving throw. With as much fury and determination as he could muster, the gnome loudly bellowed to the Eye of Gruumsh orc, “Like hell I will!”
However, the situation continued to grow dire as the orc war chief continued pouring on the pressure on Jameson, who was very close to the red in terms of HP. Thankfully, by that point, he had reverted back to his normal persona and finally had enough sense to back off.
The fight continued to go on four a couple of more rounds, during which the party was starting to whittle down both the orc war chief and the Eye of Gruumsh orc, the former of which was flanked on all sides by Riku (human samurai), Nigel (human battle master), Rare (tiefling cleric), and Ghesh (dragonborn warlock). Rare even managed to land a critical hit with her mace – the only one I recall the orc war chief ever taking throughout that fight – at one point.
Meanwhile, Arthur was doing everything he could to support his allies through bardic inspiration, casting Vicious Mockery on the orcs, or making ranged attacks with his light crossbow while Jameson had been whittled down to 3 HP and forced into a prone position by another Command spell from the Eye of Gruumsh orc, which he unfortunately failed to resist with a total of 5 on his Wisdom saving throw.
Just about at the tail end of the fight, Ghesh and Riku were knocked unconscious, the former being done in by a spear thrust from the Eye of Gruumsh orc while the latter was wounded by the war chief’s greataxe. Thankfully, the warlock’s patron – who shall remain unnamed for the time being – seemed to have plans for him as Ghesh ended up rolling a Natural 20 on his death save, instantly bringing him back up to 1 HP and allowing him to act immediately. Meanwhile, Riku was healed back up to 13 HP thanks to a Healing Word spell from Arthur.
By this point, the war chief was severely wounded and could barely stand. Riku’s turn soon came up once more and he rolled for his attack against the war chief with his newly-acquired ōdachi – which was mechanically a normal greatsword. He ended up rolling a 19 on his attack, which was enough to land that strike. Dealing a total of 13 slashing damage, Riku gripped his blade as tightly as he could and swung it down towards the orc war chief, striking him at his shoulder and cleanly slicing him in half!
Meanwhile, the Eye of Gruumsh orc wasn’t looking too hot either after taking a total of 14 slashing damage from Jameson’s whip, which currently had the clawed hands of the Claw of Luthic orc the party had killed earlier tied around its tip. Not long after, Rare then cast Sacred Flame on the remaining orc. Failing his Dexterity save with a roll of 10 against her spell save DC of 13 and taking a total of 6 radiant damage, the Eye of Gruumsh orc is then burnt to a crisp by a radiant burst of flame-like light, though his body had otherwise remained intact – at least, intact enough for Jameson to try and pluck the eye that used to glow out of his eye socket and easily doing so with a Natural 20 on his Survival check to do so – something Ghesh will be sure to take note of due to his creed as a priest of a certain deity with dominion over death.
Having spent a lot of their resources clearing the cave of the orcs that had driven out Dazlyn and Norbus, who were visibly eager to return to their spelunking in the cave – something that did arouse suspicion from some of the Glass Breakers, and a brief exploration of the rest of the temple from Jameson, Arthur, and Ghesh, the Glass Breakers then elected to take a short rest inside the cave since there were no immediate threats that they could find remaining inside.
Of course, with the looming threats of a roaming white dragon, the possible presence of a Gulthias tree somewhere nearby, whatever is causing the disappearance of the recluses of Gnomengarde, and the remainder of the Black Spider’s forces, the Glass Breakers certainly have a lot left on their plate to clean up…