In this week's session, the boys continued exploring the uppermost level of the dungeon. Secondborn is enjoying his role as the character who scouts ahead, so he led them down a cross-corridor. This gave way to a staircase that led down to a door, which was locked. This gave him his very first experience at picking locks (which I don't think I handled according to the rules, in that I let him try several times - I *really* need to re-read the Player's Handbook and the Dungeonmaster's Guide in detail). Firstborn stood behind him and wondered if he would be able to break the door down if Secondborn couldn't unlock it. (Yes, he probably could have. He may be the strongest Elf you'll ever meet.)
The room at the bottom of the stairs is taller than the rest of this level (that's probably why it's sunken) and brightly lit: there's a big square of sunlight in the center. Looking up, the boys note a large square hole in the ceiling that leads up to the surface. The also notice that the ceiling around the hole, which is very dark by contrast, seems to be moving. Beautiful Wife throws some light up there, and they realize that they're looking at a pair of very large bats clinging to the ceiling.
There's some quick discussion. (Secondborn really wants to return to adventuring outside, but there's no way up to that exit unless you're a bat. Firstborn is all in favor of just backing away and closing the door behind them, which they eventually do.) The retrace their steps, then explore up the corridor to another room. This one seems empty, with a pool of water on the far side. A brief moment of panic ensues as Secondborn's Ranger/Thief steps quietly inside: large (and extremely dusty) mirrors on either end of the room give the impression of vague, shadowy figures moving on either side of him. They're quick enough to figure out what's going on, and take a quick look at the pool of water. It's a round pool, maybe ten feet across, fed on one side by a stream of water that comes out of a hole in the wall. On the other end, a small stream leaves the pool, goes about three feet, and disappears through a hole in the floor. The water seems to be clean. The group leaves without trying the water or investigating the mirrors, and discovered that they've now covered all of this level of the dungeon.
That being the case, they return to the ramp and begin their descent. Last time they came this way, they reached the bottom of the ramp undiscovered, and explored the northern passage and the spider-infested temple beyond (where they were ambushed by goblins and a hobgoblin). This time, they discover that there's a large, skeletal owlbear just standing there at the bottom of the ramp.
Firstborn, in a fit of "Let's just see" attempts to walk down the bottom of the ramp and out the nearest door (the northern one, as it happens). Unfortunately, as soon as he steps off the ramp, the owlbear turns and lumber toward him, bony feet clicking on the stone. Firstborn retreats back up the ramp; the owlbear follows to the bottom of the ramp but stops there.
Secondborn takes a shot at the skeleton with his bow, but barely nicks a rib-bone. (Skeletal creatures have damage resistance in this game, to reflect the fact they don't have any flesh and blood for weapons to connect with. Most standard attacks go right between the bones, with little or no damage.) Secondborn then decided to leap off the side of the ramp and head to the opposite side of the room, hoping to get past the skeleton that way. He leaps, lands, tumbles, and comes up safely, looking pretty badass in the process. The owlbear, however, just turns and starts towards him, and Secondborn draws his longsword.
At this point we roll for initiative. The sequence turns out to be: Firstborn, Secondborn, Owlbear, Mommy.
Firstborn takes a quick look through his spell list, but he's only a second-level druid; he doesn't have a lot to attack with. Instead, he rages. Stepping up behind the Owlbear, he smacks it with his greatsword. It staggers. Secondborn attacks also, and while he doesn't inflict anywhere near the same kind of damage, he does injure the thing. The Owlbear then swipes at him, but it misses cleanly. Mommy, meanwhile, is still up on the ramp -- which gives her a clean line of fire. She uses her face-melting spell, and sears the heck out of the skeletal monster.
Firstborn attacks again, and it's over. The owlbear skeleton collapses into a pile of scattered bones. The boys, for reasons best understood by themselves, collect a couple of the bones. (Secondborn says he wants to use it to make a bone-handled sword. Firstborn says he's keeping one as an emergency backup club, in case someone steals his greatsword.)
I call a halt at that point, because they've killed something and because I really need to stop and figure out where all this is leading.
NOTE TO SELF: You really need to figure out where all this is leading. Also, you need to read up on all the little details in the combat system. And calculate how much money the group got for selling off their loot. Also, check EXP values and see how close they all are to leveling up.
NARRATOR VOICE: Tragically, he would not manage to do any of that before the next game.