Apologies if this is the wrong place to post. I'm running my first 100% SCS playthrough, with an ideologically-diverse party (6 different alignments--currently at 5, but will switch Imoen out for Alora when possible). The Better Calls for Help feature led to an epic fight against the entire bandit camp (which I failed to take screenshots of during, unfortunately).
Maerian, immensely strong but kind of dumb half-orc Bhaalspawn fighter/cleric
Imoen, her lithe and witty childhood friend
Khalid, thrust into the role of the grownup in the room, for which he is entirely unsuited
Branwen, bloody-minded amazon
Edwin, Maerian's advisor on all things arcane and grand strategy besides, as all others are too foolish, lackwitted, or simply crazy
Xzar, the simply crazy one
Part I: Flight From The Camp
Branwen picked the last few sticky strands of magical web from her face. Pulling a stained cloth from her belt, she wiped Ashideena's still-sparking head, then her ankheg-shell armor, clean from the hobgoblin brains bespattering them. "Is anyone hurt?" she called out.
"Y-y-yes, if you please," Khalid replied from the corner of the tent. "S-several of the c-cold arrows struck me."
Branwen strode over to the fighter, pausing to look with disgust at Xzar, who was busy cutting a grisly souvenir from each of the corpses he was looting, and placed her hand on Khalid's frostbitten arm. As she chanted, her hand glowed and the wounds subsided.
Meanwhile, Imoen lay sprawled back across Tazok's erstwhile seat on the raised dais, leafing through the scrolls she'd found in the chest. "Man, these guys really don't like each other," she said to Maerian, passing over the one she'd been reading. "What's this one? I can't even read--"
Edwin snatched the new scroll from her hand. "That's because it's a spell, you fool! Do you want to blow this tent to kingdom come, or turn us all into frogs?" He looked around at the other five adventurers, muttering "Although the latter might be a distinct improvement."
"I heard that," Imoen replied. "Anyway, speaking of blowing the tent up, we should be going before the other bandits get suspicious. We made a fair bit of noise in here."
Maerian heaved herself to her feet. "Let's move, then. Taurg--The Black Talon leader was just outside when we came in."
Indeed, as the motley group of adventurers filed out, they found a dozen bows nocked and pointed at them. Taurgosz Khosann stood at the foot of the stairs, brandishing his warhammer and backed by a phalanx of Black Talon elites and a rabble of bandits. "I think we're cooked," Imoen whispered to Maerian. "There are a couple more behind us too."
"Nonsense," whispered Edwin, as the Black Talon's leader shouted an accurate description of the group. "Watch this." Muttering a few words, Edwin flung what looked like a handful of shining dust at the gathered bandits, then elbowed Maerian in the heavily-muscled shoulder. "Go, now!"
The dust seemed magically drawn to the bandits' eyes, though Taurgosz shook it off his beard with a mighty toss of his head, and raised his hammer to block the descending blow from Maerian's mace. The bandits who could still see moved to cut the adventurers off from the open ground to their left.
A moment later, however, a ball of webbing soared from Xzar's open hand, exploding around the remaining bandits. Khalid, Branwen, Imoen, and the two wizards followed at a run, making for the woods behind the great tent. With one final swing, which clanged harmlessly off the Tenhammer's breastplate, Maerian beat a retreat as well.
Ahead of the group, two bandits stood to block the path. They were no Black Talons, however--a slash from Varscona sent the first sprawling, while Ashideena hammered the other into the bushes. The adventurers hurdled them, fleeing deeper into the woods, and didn't stop until they had made a wide circuit around the camp and returned to Peldvale.
Part II: Rest
The group sat around the campfire that night by the lake. Tents pitched on the high ground, they had refreshed themselves with a swim upon arrival, and Imoen had taken the short walk south to invite one of the Lake Poets to join them. Now, regaled with songs purporting to tell of their own adventures in the Nashkel mines, and of others' adventures in Durlag's Tower and the Firewine ruins, they discussed plans for revenge on the remaining bandits.
“If only we had more firepower,” Imoen said. “I have that necklace we got in Nashkel, but can’t you guys throw fire too?”
Xzar looked glum, and Edwin retorted “That is advanced level magic. Not even a wizard as brilliant as I can know every spell. But no need, we have enough tools at our disposal to turn the rest of them into experiments for our friend here. Listen to my plan…”
Some forty minutes later, the group did have to admit that Edwin’s plan had a strong chance of success. The spellcasters retired to their tents to study and pray for the spells they needed for the next day’s battle, while Imoen and Khalid remained by the dying embers of the fire.
“Do you ever worry,” asked Imoen, “about how much Maerian listens to those two?” She gestured to the wizards’ tents.
“I-it d-does concern me,” Khalid admitted. “T-they are n-not exactly in the mold of Gorion, m-m-morally speaking. And the number of his fellows Edwin has slain without a second thought…”
“Well, one of them was that loudmouthed Drow sorceror,” Imoen replied. “I just hope she keeps listening to us too, and doesn’t let Xzar dissect that man-chicken before we can try to turn him back.” Inside Imoen’s tent, Melicamp clucked softly in agreement.
Part III: The Return
The next day, the group packed their camp up bright and early, and set off through the forest for the bandits’ camp. After long hours trudging through the woods, it was almost a relief to see the top of Tazok’s tent rising above the nearby trees. Edwin raised his hand to halt the group, and whispered to Imoen. “Go turn yourself invisible in the shadows or whatever you do, and tell us if any of their patrols are lurking here.”
Imoen shrugged off the wizard’s tone and slipped into the woods. She was back in a minute, raising four hooked fingers in the air. Edwin and Xzar nodded, but Maerian looked confused.
“Four Black Talons,” Imoen clarified.
“Excellent,” Edwin said. “They are dispersed throughout the woods. Probably hunted for us all last night and today. Let’s get this group. Branwen, you and Xzar forward.” With a magic word, he seemed to split in four, each copy pointing toward the bandits in the woods.
The priestess of Tempus and the necromancer crept through the woods. As quietly as they each could, they called upon their respective magic. Too late did the bandits hear them and turn to face the bushes, as the magical webbing sprouted around them. The two who dodged the webs found their limbs stiffening of their own accord. “Now!” Edwin called, and the other four adventurers began to rain arrows and sling bullets on the helpless bandits.
But as soon as the first missiles clanged off the trapped men’s armor, it became clear that it was the adventurers who had walked into a trap. From the bushes behind the clearing came a hail of answering arrow fire, including the steaming cold bolts of the Black Talons. “Confound it!” shouted Edwin, along with a stream of magic words, and sent a flurry of his blinding dust in the direction of the arrows.
“L-let m-me settle them,” Khalid said, drawing Varscona and rushing toward the target of Edwin’s dust. As he drew nearer, however, he saw Ardenor Crush approaching at the head of a squad of four Chill hobgoblins, past the blinded bandits.
“Got you alone, have I?” the hobgoblin leader growled. And indeed he had, for in the other direction Taurgosz Khosann had emerged from the woods and was striding to face Maerian, while the bandits behind him opened fire on the two wizards. Xzar’s magical shield deflected several arrows, and two of Edwin’s copies vanished. “Forget the trapped ones, go!” Edwin shouted, and let fly a magic missile at the Tenhammer.
“H-help!” Khalid called back to the group, as the hobgoblins spread out to surround him, then rushed him as one. As Varscona clanged off Ardenor Crush’s shield, he heard the mad necromancer’s howling voice, and beat a hasty retreat. Just in time, as another wave of sticky web ensnared the hobgoblins, followed by a sling stone that took one of them straight in the chest. Khalid set aside his shield, drew his longbow, and began firing into the squirming web-covered figures.
Meanwhile, Taurgosz and the bandits were undeterred by Edwin’s magic missiles, and advanced steadily on Maerian. Ignoring several arrows, she stood her ground, pointing at the bandits and calling for divine aid. Just in time, it arrived, as Taurgosz’s companions found themselves frozen in place. The Tenhammer grinned. “So be it—your mace against my hammer.” His first blow rocked Maerian back, but the half-orc kept her footing and struck back.
Branwen was still in the woods, and her sling stones and Imoen’s arrows had brought down two of the trapped Black Talons, as well as one of another squad of Chill that had rushed unheeding into the webs. But now the webs were parting as the magic faded, and six of the surviving bandits raised their bows and aimed at the pair of adventurers. She shouted back to Edwin for help.
Edwin was focused on the battle between Maerian and Taurgosz, but heard Branwen’s call. Turning to face the formerly-webbed bandits, he hurled a magical imprecation loud enough for all to hear. Hearing it, three of the bandits paled and began to flee for the safety of the woods behind them.
“That evens the odds enough,” shouted Branwen, and leapt forward to engage the remaining bandits. As her hammer struck the first down, however, disaster struck. Xzar, trying to be helpful, had turned and sent another ball of webbing into the clearing, which pinned Branwen along with 3 of the 5 remaining bandits. The last two, grinning, approached the helpless cleric. “Kick her in the head ‘til she’s dead,” laughed one, as they dealt her punishing blows with their broadswords. In a moment, though, the webs swallowed them up too. Imoen kept up her rate of arrow fire, trying to kill the bandits before others worked free and laid Branwen low.
Khalid was also facing long odds—immobilized as he was, Ardenor Crush was still well-armored, and Khalid’s arrows had struck more web than flesh. Now a couple of the hobgoblins had worked free, and Khalid needed to draw his sword again and engage them, which gave time for still more hobgoblins to arrive from the camp. At last, one of their poisoned arrows found its way through his armor, and he fell back, reaching desperately into the potion case in his pack for an antidote. But the hobgoblins were free, and now arrows rained upon the adventurers. Xzar, about to cast another web, fell back in pain, pierced by one through the thigh.
On the adventurers’ right, Taurgosz Khosann had the advantage over Maerian, who finally had to step back and quaff a healing potion. But he was wearing her down, and she could not hope to survive without help. As the Black Talon leader raised his hammer to smash the potion from her lips, however, Edwin turned and fired bolts of magical force, which arrested his progress just for the crucial moment. Maerian took up her mace with renewed vigor and struck him such a blow that the magic of the mace overcame him, and he seized up, stunned. Another set of magical missiles and a well-aimed hit from the half-orc, and it was Khosann who fell insensible to the dirt. With the bandits still frozen in place, Maerian hurried to Khalid’s aid.
Again a misunderstanding almost cost the adventurers, as Imoen also was trying to help, this time with a fireball from her necklace. As Maerian fell upon the hobgoblins, laying about with her mace, the world exploded in fire around them all. Ardenor’s followers fell screaming, and the hobgoblin leader himself was badly hurt, but the ring on Maerian’s finger seemed to swallow most of the fire that surrounded her, and she escaped with minor burns. At that, Ardenor turned and fled, only to finally be cut down by Khalid’s bow.
The rest of the battle was a slaughter, as the remaining bandits were either trapped in Xzar’s webs or frozen by Maerian’s magic, and killed with ease. At last the exhausted adventurers fell back to the edge of the forest, too wary even to loot the bodies until they had healed, maneuvered around, and ensured that no further ambushes remained.
“Your plan, it had some flaws,” Xzar groused to Edwin. “I do not believe you meant for us to fight them all at once. In fact, quite the opposite.”
“We won, didn’t we?” Edwin shot back. “And none of us died, though we had no artillery save our thief’s bauble.”
Imoen put her hand on Edwin’s shoulder. “Good on you if you save the day.”
Branwen nodded. “I am proud to stand among such fierce warriors.”
Khalid looked around at the now-peaceful woods. “Now that the bandits are gone, I am much more at ease in the forest.”