The next morning, they were awoken by an alarm bell and shouts from the dwarves on overnight watch. The bugbears had returned in force. Half-a-dozen were assaulting the compounds walls and in the distance, two wyverns approached.
The officers of Boccob’s Barge donned their armor and joined the battle just as the wyvern with their riders arrived. Sumner noticed the wyverns carried cauldron or pots of some sort.
Straxius fired a hold monster at one of the wyverns, paralyzing it. It fell from the sky. The pot shattered, splashing it and its rider with the black pudding it carried.
They were not so lucky with the second wyvern, and it managed to drop its pot behind the wall, between the palisades and the building. The pudding oozed out and attacked the nearest dwarves fending off the bugbears scaling the wall.
From the central courtyard, Veya, Zinniana, and Dalshar fired arrows at the wyvern. The rest of the group divided their attacks between the bugbears, the black pudding, and the wyvern. They brought the wyvern down as it descended to engage Veya. By the time they killed the pudding, it had taken out three of the dwarves. The rest of the bugbears were easy to defeat by comparison.
Unfortunately, the pudding that devoured the wyvern and its rider outside the walls wasn’t quite finished, but was persuaded by judicious use of fire to seek prey in a different direction.
They retired inside to take stock of their wounds and decide their next move. Dalshar paid them the bounty she was offering for the second bulette on the island for helping defender her home. Outside, the earth shook and a terrible voice shouted: DALSHAR, YOUR TIME HAS COME!
She explained that old-timer spelljammers like herself often made powerful enemies, especially when they also explored the outer plains.
A glabrezu kicked down the gate as Sumner and Straxius quickly came up with a plan. Sumner was made invisible and used fly to exit out the back. Unfortunately, the glabrezu saw him and attempted to dispel his magic. Straxius saved Sumner with a quick counter-spell. The dwarves, Kagark, and Veya engaged the demon in melee as the rest used missile weapons.
The demon attempted to confuse its attackers with a spell. Veya turned and attacked the dwarves. Meanwhile, the beast took a pummeling from the rest of the group.
Veya shook off the confusion before causing too much damage and Zinniana brought the demon down with an arrow to the face.
Once again taking stock of their wounds, Dalshar indicated her desire to march on the bugbears fort. Straxius and the rest of the officers of Boccob’s Barge decided they needed to be on their way. They inquired if there was anyone Dalshar knew who could help Straxius expand his arcane repertoire and she referred him to an acquaintance. She knew a wizard, who was last known to be in the Free City of Greyhawk, Ulfda the Mighty. He could help them, and also she wanted to know if they could pick up a load of steel for her?
They prepared to once again make way, a little stronger and a little wiser for their adventures.
So, this time, I made a concentrated effort to challenge them. Of course, the bugbear attack in the morning was planned since last session (we just didn’t get to it). I knew I’d been light on the challenge of fights previously; I was taking stock of their abilities and getting a feel for what they were capable of. Experience taught me that going by pure Party Level vs. CR tended to be really conservative due to the random nature of die rolls, and I was right. While the first fight took a lot of the PCs’ resources, none of them were actually injured by the time they defeated all the bugbears, wyverns, and puddings. Have NPC dwarves as damage sponges helped with that, I suppose. So too, went the fight with the glabrezu. Though they had leveled, they didn’t have a chance to get their new spells. Still, they defeated it with only the NPC Kagark (and some dwarves taking damage). They actually killed the glabrezu faster than I expected.