Druid's original player is back! With her comes someone to (occasionally) take over Paladin and several new applicants to the group. The room we play in can only accommodate an absolute maximum of 7 people, which is good since I've had trouble in the past keeping parties of more than 6 people cohesive.
Average party level is 9th now but new applicants will be starting at 7th for a while. Druid's player decided to create a new Druid instead of taking over a spare character or raising her old one from the dead (a lot has happened since my last post). The new party Rogue (who used to play Sorceress and took over for Druid until she died) was also playing a Favoured Soul who was the party healer. Not wanting to play 2 characters any more, Rogue had the Favoured Soul charge into combat with a wandering Beholder (which I'd inserted just for flavour and planned to steer the party away from) 2 eye rays later and the Favoured Soul was dead, all of her magic items were lost (which annoyed Bard) and as it turned out, this adventure had a lot of Knowledge (arcana) checks in it which only Favoured Soul could make with a decent modifier.
Druid volunteered to scavenge what equipment she could rather than purchasing a full inventory so we could get on with the game without her holding us up. Her magic and tiger animal companion more than made up for the lack of items though, the tiger especially helping out when the party ran into a fire giant. (5 attacks on a charge plus a free grapple check, which it passed, essentially immobilizing the giant so it could be hit in melee by the rest of the party without fear of his greatsword which in the first melee round alone did 76 damage to Paladin).
I'm looking forward to meeting these new applicants to the group, even so late in the campaign. Everyone is getting really excited about the 'No race/alignment restriction campaign' I'm designing which has been shortened by the group to 'evil campaign' (which just goes to show what kind of people I'm dealing with). I hope it lives up to everyone's expectations.
Signing off again, probably for another long while :(