So, after some initial gathering up of treasure from the giant trap-door spider, the party rests and heals for the night. The druid makes good use of his skills and makes a magical shelter around the campfire.
At one point during the night, a giant tree spider is observed making a patrol. When the path is followed the next morning, a discovery is made.
in the heart of the forest, the party discovers a wooded depression, roughly 250 feet in diameter, with a gentle bowl-shaped slope and swampy marsh at the very bottom. A large amount of tree spiders are present in the area (between 30 and 50). As the party approaches, they notice lots of wisps of webs in the trees in the area, and a loud chittering sound (or clittering, as the barbarian Crag Hack insists). As the party prepares to investigate stealthily, Nergal lobs his last bead from his necklace of fireballs into the spiders ahead. The obvious result occurs.
As the party battles with the crowd of spiders ranging from large dog sized to horse-sized, Nergal slips past the fray and rushes downhill to the center of the depression. There, near the water, is a colossal spider, obviously a queen of some sort. The queen is covered in black and orange hairs, like a tarantula, and is guarding a great pile of eggs. The queen seems to be directing the other spiders to do her bidding.
Nergal is attacked by the queen, and has many poison-covered spines flung at him, most of which hit. As he stands paralyzed, he sees the party surrounded and subdued by the giant spiders. They are quickly enveloped by webs. Then his own sight is obscured by webs as well. All goes black.
The party awakens at night time, being rescued by a mysterious elf. Everyone is amazed to see that the elf has single-handedly killed all of the spiders. Once a hasty retreat has been made back to the safety of the road, the stranger introduces himself.
“I am Tharros. I was on my way to Carrion Hill to the east. I saw your party following the trail of the spider north away from the path, and thought I might follow you to lend a hand if needed. It seems it was.”
(Tharros is Tim’s new alternate character. I’ll let him speak for Tharros from now on)
While no closer to your goal of arriving at Carrion Hill, you have the makings for a free ale at any inn or tavern where this story gets told. Congratulations on your valiant efforts, you are all ready to ascend to the ranks of 5th level! This is truly where characters really gain signature powers and abilities, coming into their own and wielding much more power than before. At this point, all XP will be tracked individually, with those showing initiative and courage gaining experience faster than their comrades.