Wow, this adventure arc in our Vaults of Ur campaign went on for nine sessions, since the first week of last December when the party became stranded in the caves beneath the Hive. It took the lives of my alternate PC Fantasmo Argento (a masked Luchadore), the NPC Ralex, FLAILSNAILS favorite the Venerable Carolus (Very Elder Karl), the last of Thidrek's chickens, and several red shirt hirelings of FLAILSNAILS adventurers from across the Veil. The promising young mage Yargrob Elderbob also went missing during the affair, and the party was unceremoniously stripped of most of their gear along the way, resulting in the loss of much treasure and a few prized possessions.
Anyway, the session recap. Justin of course is the DM. Jeremy was playing Noctis the Orc (on the verge of Level 4 but without a FLAILSNAILS game to pick up that last necessary XP, but he did alright anyway). Alexei was playing Maya Culpar the Elf, now 3rd level and in possession of many spells but no magic items. I was of course playing Thidrek the Sleestak. Dean and Rick couldn't join us due to a commitment to play one last session of Dean's 4E game with a player that's leaving the group, so Udumbara the Pacifist Cleric and the Scented Shade of Venerable Carolus were not available to join us. Luckily, a pair of NPC half-orc thief chicks joined us. Being part of Bolt's crew (they're not quite Spiked Circle, but they're not friends either), Thidrek was predisposed to dislike them, and only referred to them as Orcess and Orcette. Noctis, being an orc, was predisposed to like them and hit on them all the time.
Bolt gave us maps and suggested three ways to infiltrate the Sky Hunter temple. Overland was patrolled by Sky Hunters. The ghoul warrens were of course the home of the ghoul undercity dwellers. The river was also a way in, but the last group to go there never returned, so they assumed something nasty was there. We ended up choosing the ghoul warrens.
We nearly made it through without discovery, and did manage to get through without engaging them in combat (paralysis is nasty, especially with no cleric to cure it). We got through the secret door just in time, and Maya used a Hold Portal spell to make sure we weren't followed.
Inside, we were assaulted by the Sky Hunters' guards, which were pasty gollum-like things with arms and legs twisted and bending in the wrong directions. Sneaky bastards liked dropping down from the ceilings on us. We entered the main hall, and found a giant energy ball with swirling shadowy shapes inside, suspended in mid air by beams of light shot from four statues. While tussling with more of the gangly guardians, a troop of Sky Hunter legionnaires and a sorcerer emerged and engaged us. Due to an untimely natural 1 from Thidrek and natural 20 from the gangly thing, Thidrek ended up down with the baddies and paralyzed by the sorcerer's energy whip. They demanded the party surrender. Maya cast web, saving Thidrek's life. Maya, Noctis and the orc chicks managed to kill the enemies on their side of the web, while the sorcerer and one guard retreated.
Freed, Thidrek slew the remaining gangly thing and Sky Hunter guard. Then he and Noctis went to get the Orb we were sent to bring back while Maya and the NPCs took on the sorcerer and guard. A rough battle took place with the guard, who managed to wound all three of the adventuring ladies, but they managed to bring him and the sorcerer down, and free an Orc Magi. Thidrek and Noctis used a Land of the Lost style crystal matrix table to shut down the giant magic sphere and free the shadow elementals that were inside who apparently run the black water pool portal system.
We retreated through the river, since the ghouls were alerted to us and we didn't want to face more Sky Hunter patrols in our weakened state. Down the shaft, there were strange shadowy things but they went past the party and up the shaft after Sky Hunters, we assume. We found a skeleton (with phat lootz!) and got on our boat, distracting giant crabs with one of the Sky Hunter corpses and made our escape.
We rendezvous with Bolt, who takes us to the portal and we gave him the Orb, then took Karl and Ralex's bodies back to Fort Low - only to find out that the bastard stole Karl's psionic Stone Fist.
So things are complete, but there are now lots of things we could do again sandbox style. Justin says we're entering Vaults of Ur 2.0. Dean's not sure what to do about Venerable Carolus. His character was changed by the ordeal. We don't want to lose his character, but Dean's not sure he wants to keep playing him. We'll see what happens. He may end up retiring Karl. Or we may go on a quest to get him (or make him) a new, better hand.
In the meantime, Thidrek plans to keep busy with some research, some plotting, and maybe the formation of a Brute Squad to help clean out the ruins.