This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Meet 50, Adv 6, 12/13/08

Sometimes the only way to get past an area is to fight. That is it. Yes it is railroading, but if the party WANTS to pursue a certain direction - then that means they have to stay on the rails. The Mausoleum was supposed to be one of those places - a fight, and against undead.

Now I don't go back and rework an area because things have changed in the party. Such as - the party's only undead turning priest temporarily missing the use of his priestly powers because he pissed off his god - ie, Karis. So they were going into a fight with what would have been 50 Skeletons without anyway to turn or dispel them (not counting the 2 burning bones or the wraith). Ok, not too much of a problem for 5th-6th level party.

The room would also lock and remain locked for 5 rounds, after which time the doors could be opened. Not my fault the party never rechecked the door after round 3.

There was an escape path through here - but when it was made by the long ago dwarves, it was made for THEM and their height - not my fault that the party has a half-ogre, a grizzly bear, and an orcish fighter with them - all too large to fit down and out of that area.

And lastly, it is not my fault that one of the party members unleashed a Blessed Bolt (which always do 40 points of damage (half if save), 5' path, and are always 100' long) in a room too small to contain it. Which meant it hit the wall at some point and swung back - hitting the party.

It might not be my fault, but it sure made for an interesting night of adventuring!

Write up follows:

Karis gave the sarcophagus a hard shove…and the lid slid over with the heavy grating of stone on stone. Foul dust and vapors arose, and he waited a moment for it to clear, revealing at long last a dried and desiccated dwarven body. Moldering robes were draped over its form, and a chain hauberk rusting away was worn over that. On its breast on a chain of silvered gold, was a jeweled symbol to Thor.

A strange "thrum" seemed to run through the room and the party looked about, worried. Nothing happened. Do they take the amulet? Would the dead arise? What was the "thrum"? Much conversation followed, and the party was concerned on many issues.

It was decided that Zoltan would at least go into the area behind some of the interred bodies and get the crossbow bolts and other gear the dwarves had hidden there in the past. It would involve him crawling through one of the niches and over a dead body interred there to get to the hidey hole – which he did gingerly. The remains were disturbed – but nothing untoward happened. He grabbed the 4 bolts (one was a blessed bolt to Thor, one was heavily runed, and the other two were lightly runed), as well as the poor condition windlass cranked crossbow from there, and passed it back. He looked around – the hidey area was 5'x8'x5' and there was a narrow sloping curving corridor maybe 20 inches wide that ran off from here and to the north. He noted it and then rejoined the party, his "haste" potion still in effect.

A few plans were hatched and discarded, but eventually the party decided that they would have Coruth'tae and Detheron open the door, Zoltan would snatch the amulet off the dead dwarf's neck (I believe the terms – “not being gentle about it” – was bandied about), and Karis, Gwyn, and Amal would race out of the room and engage the gnolls most likely on the other side hopefully with some element of surprise.

With the clock ticking and time passing, the party nodded to themselves and the doors were yanked open.

And as had been laughed about earlier, our plans usually only last about 3 seconds.

The "thrum" in the room grew very strong and the two doors slammed closed. Zoltan grabbed the amulet and with his ensorcelled speed burning through his limbs, pulled the holy symbol free scant inches ahead of the slamming closed sarcophagus cover. Prize in hand, he leapt off the dais and joined the party as Karis was trying to force the doors opened. And then over a dozen dwarven bodies rolled off their niches and stood before walking lock-step and lurchingly towards the group.

Zoltan swung his cloak about his form and winked out –trying to "port" out of the room to open the door from the other side, while Karis was having serious difficulty and was unable to pull the door open. Those skeletons closest to Smokey and Fodder were assaulted, but the animals were not having much luck in taking the fleshless foes down. Gwyn had taken the windlass crossbow and bolts from Zoltan earlier but slung it across his back and drew his new battleaxe "Blaze". Credit to its name, both bits bust into fire and the dwarf attacked the undead – taking it down swiftly.

Amal drew his cudgel and raced over, swinging his own weapon as he beat another lumbering skeleton to death. The group was feeling pretty good about it even as the undead strode across the chamber towards them. And then another fourteen or so dead dwarves rose to their feet and joined the others already approaching the group. Also, the coffin of Iodin began to give forth a greenish hue that seeped out from the bottom of the stone box.

Zoltan appeared – but not outside as he suspected – instead still within the chamber! Apparently the "thrumming" or whatever was warding the place was preventing him from portalling out. There were a few undead near him so he lay about him with his weighted chain clobbering the skeletons on the head while attempting to get back to the group. Karis bent his back to the door, failing to make any more headway against it even though the portal shook in its frame. Detheron called on Frey to grant Karis a charm of Strength hoping that would help in the matter. Amal beat his cudgel against a few more skeletons but not wanting to get cut off, broke away (getting whacked once for his efforts) and ran to help Karis on the door. Gwyn held his own, plying about him with the magical battleaxe, taking down the skeletons that were surrounding him. Coruth'tae used his shadow wand and tore one of the skeletons to shreds.

But more of the walking undead drew close and hammers, axes, and swords fell – and the party's fighters began taking wounds. Lots of wounds.

As the party was fighting, the green glow on the coffin grew brighter – and then a reddish glow began to come from the next two coffins in the dais. With the press of undead now too great for us to ignore, Karis whirled back about and drew the mace Kysoth's Bludgeon, attempting to clear a path to Gwyn who was now surrounded by dwarven skeletons. And another 14 skeletons rolled off their biers and added to the fray.

It was becoming impossible to maneuver about the room and the group was doing what they could to stay together. Smokey and Fodder were warding the left flank, Amal and Gwyn on the right, Karis was on the center with Zoltan and in the middle with spells and wands flashing were Coruth'tae and Detheron. Gwyn was getting beaten pretty badly and opted to switch out of his battle axe and to his scimitar and shield in order to better defend himself. The glowing sarcophagi were getting brighter and the group was having a hard time avoiding being hit.

Zoltan took a look at the situation and (as had been assumed) was going to try and open the door from the outside – but not by portalling out the way we came in (which failed), but by going back to the hidey hole behind the niche and chancing the passage there. He swung the cloak about himself and disappeared.

More skeletons were dispatched but the party was still surrounded and in dire straits. Detheron withdrew the scroll of Mass Cure Moderate Wounds he had found and intoned it off – giving everyone in the party a quick burst of much needed hit points. Gwyn was getting hit less (thanks to his shield), but his scimitar although wonderful against fleshy creatures, was ill-equipped to hurt and harm the skeletons and he had to work twice as hard to take down the undead. Karis continued to lay about him but the horde of undead was unrelenting in its press.

And then another 10 skeleton rolled off the niches and the party groaned in weariness. The two "red glowing" sarcophagi fired the light into two of the skeletons closest to the dais and those two burst into flames. They also moved with surety and skill, not with the same lurching motion the other skeletons were displaying. Zoltan appeared right by the hidey hole and dove through, avoiding the skeleton that was there by a hand's breadth. The single dwarven skeleton dropped to its hands and knees and followed.

With the count of undead reaching 50 now (not accounting for the dozen or more so we had already killed), we redoubled our efforts, keeping a weather eye on the two pacing flaming skeletons who were walking not towards the group, but for the green glowing sarcophagus. Gwyn decided to accept more hits and went back to his battleaxe, Blaze flaring to life once more. We struck and fired and swung and bashed and did all we could to take down as many of the undead as fast as possible, but there were too many and they didn't stop.

Zoltan hit the hidey-room, turned left, and threw himself into the narrow cleft, sliding down and racing away in order to make distance from the pursuing skeleton but to also see if he could make it to the main hall and open the door.

The two flaming skeletons raised their weapons and brought them down on the green coffin – and a burst of light flowed out and the room grew cold as a wraith-like apparition in flowing black and wielding a weapon of negative energy emerged and scanned the chamber as if searching for something. Not seeing what it wanted, it instead focused itself on Karis and assaulted the half-ogre templar. Karis dodged and evaded, the spectral touch of the creature never fully landing on him but its presence causing his armor and mace to become rimed with frost.

The party was very afraid – skeletons they could do their best to weather against, but a wraith was a different matter. In his pack, Karis had a vial of holy water but would be unable to get it out. Coruth'tae dug around his backpack during the fight until his hands closed about the precious vial and he drew it free with a cheer. We battered skeletons to dust and tried to turn the tide of the fight as best as possible.

Opening the stopper, the elven illusionist tossed the holy water over Karis' head at the wraith – but there was a green blast of light and the wraith had moved! Transposed places with a skeleton fighter 15' away! The holy water rained on the skeleton but the wraith was unharmed – and the heat sucking creature moved now closer to Gwyn, attacking the dwarven fighter. Things were getting desperate.

And Gwyn decided enough was enough. Dropping back a few feet he took a few short hits from hammers and axes, drew his battered crossbow, slapped a Blessed Bolt of Odin within and fired it at point blank range at the wraith. The rising crescendo of building power swarmed down the dwarf's arm, into the crossbow and a blast of black tinged sonic energy like the shrill squeal of a thousand ravens tore the weapon apart and ripped into and through the undead terror. It crushed another 5 skeletons that were in the area, bones exploding to dust and shards.

The wave of energy hit the wall of the mausoleum and then rebounded back towards the party! Gwyn was unable to dodge out of the way and neither was Detheron, both the dwarf and the druid slain by the sonic blast. Karis was able to avoid some of it as the bolt ran dry but he was now badly wounded. The dwarf was very dead, his body battered and crushed, the druid was gurgling on his own blood and hit the ground with a hollow thud and crack. Smokey and Fodder went wild, the two animals going berserk at the "death" of their master and friend. And the two flaming skeletons stepped right up to Karis. The party's situation had just gone from difficult to poor.

The walls shook around Zoltan and the sonic boom was deafening in the confined space. He ran on, emerging over the side of the chasm, 40' down from the "lip". There was once a metal ladder here, but it had long ago rusted away, leaving only stubs sticking out of the wall. Feeling the last dregs of the "haste" potion working its way out of his blood stream, he withdrew a vial of holy water and ran back down the narrow corridor to throw it at the approaching undead skeleton, causing it to break apart.

The party hovered around their fallen members, Karis slamming the full force of his attacks at one of the flaming skeletons, getting burned just from being in the vicinity of the monster. The creature responded as best as possible, its hammer battering at the half-ogre's chest. Then Coruth'tae's shadow wand spat out and a blast of magic tore the burning undead to pieces. Smokey and Fodder tore into as many of the massed undead around the fallen Detheron as possible, bones and fur and blood flying.

Zoltan went back to the chasm and noting the many handholds, decided to scale the wall parallel to the bottom, but back to the other side, the original side we had come from, as there were many many many excited gnoll voices in the hall on this side.

Amal shouldered another skeleton down, beating the creature's head and chest to splinters before engaging the next one. The orcish fighter was wearying, Smokey was taking punishing damage, and Karis was wrestling with the other flaming skeleton, his mighty form dripping sweat and blood. The elven illusionist upended one of his own potions of healing into Detheron (who was at -6) and brought him back up just to the right side of the number zero. The druid gasped and tried to rise, fumbling to even roll over.

And then a dwarven hammer wielding skeleton slipped past Fodder and bashed the druid about the face and neck – killing him again!

Zoltan was tired, the haste no longer in effect, his body worn and older and weary. He worked his way with labored breathing up the side of the chasm and rolled into the dark corner, watching the dim gnoll shapes on the other side and their yells and frantic calls. The name "Sakath" was said often and goblin voices were mixed in with the deeper gnoll sounds.

Before Coruth'tae used another healing potion to bring Detheron back from the dead once more, the illusionist remembered the cruelty that the druid treated him with when he first came to the party – so he lifted his foot up high and brought his hard soled boots down once on Detheron's face – busting his nose. And then he used a healing potion to heal him and wake him up. Amal, Smokey, Fodder, and Karis assaulted the shrinking pile of skeletons with a sense of optimism as they took down one after the other.

And then Smokey, the mighty bear, slumped over from the beating he had been taking and the two closest dwarven skeletons tore into the great ursine and killed it; his chest falling weakly and his 450 lb form striking the floor (-8). Amal jumped over Gwyn's unconscious form and took up the flanking position from Karis, allowing the half-ogre to get closer to the other side where Smokey had fallen.

Coruth'tae withdrew his last potion of healing and deciding swiftly, poured it down Smokey's lolling mouth, stemming the blood loss and stabilizing the druid's companion. The total hit points were dripping lower and lower into the teens or less for those still standing, the elf himself taking a couple of strikes from the last handful of skeletons.

Fodder's skull was whacked with an axe and the warwolf hit the stones with a wail and a howl, knocked unconscious (-1). But with the last of their strength, Karis and Amal each assaulted the last two skeletons and then the battle was done. It was a mess. Over 50 skeletons were scattered about the mausoleum, Gwyn was dead, Zoltan missing, Detheron barely breathing and unable to stand without aid, Smokey and Fodder knocked out and barely alive, Amal, Coruth'tae and Karis all bleeding and terribly wounded. But it was over, and a victory of sorts.

Detheron used Heimdall's Bulwark to stop most of the terrible wounds the party was suffering, but he was too weak to trust reading the scroll of "raise dead" that we had been carrying so Gwyn would have to wait. We decided that we would NOT be attempting to open the door and would just hole up here and hope the gnolls wouldn't enter (if the door could even BE opened! Lol) and that Zoltan would show up. We didn't know if he was alive, dead, missing, or what. We knew he tried to portal out twice with his cloak, and we suspect he used the secret area behind the niche but in the heat of the battle, no one really knew for sure.

As for Zoltan, he watched the area for some time. He heard the gnolls become deferential to another one who came, identified as Sakath. He could not see them, but their voices were plain. He heard some yelling, and Thor’s name uttered a few times, and then the rattling of chains and the finality sounds of clicking locks. Then some shaman raised its voice in supplication and the gnolls eventually relaxed and were going back to their normal activity – which meant patrolling.

The gypsy turned around and staying in the corner, worked his way back up the great hall, and when he got to the first turn off, he took it until his wandering and weary feet brought him back to the Temple of Odin the party had been in some time earlier. There had been talk that if the crap hit the fan, they should use this area as a meet up spot. He spiked the door closed and took stock of himself and his situation.

But most importantly, he took out the jeweled symbol to Thor that the party had worked real hard to get. This symbol was supposedly the only thing that would allow anyone to get past the 11' tall golden glowing hammer in what was called the "thane room" in order to get the runekey. The same runekey that would open every "D" rune locked doors in Wodenvarelse – of which one of them was going to be the treasure vault.

He waited – almost 30 minutes, before tucking the symbol into his pouch, tightened his boot laces, and walked out of the temple to test his chances and try to get the Runekey on his own.

As for the rest of the group, they stayed in the Mausoleum. They used what potions they had, what magics were available, and they waited. Gwyn was brought back to life but the dwarf was weaker for the experience. The party took stock of their position and noted grimly at what lay ahead of them. Knowing that Smokey and Detheron would be unable to travel or fight effectively for the next 2 days. And that would mean a drain on their already weak oil supplies, foods, and most importantly – time. Where was Zoltan? What would they do? What happens next?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Meet 49, Adv 6, 11/29/08

Some DM's really pride themselves on stumping the party - some esoteric clues that only a cryptologist can decipher. They lord their superiority over their players with a deadly trap or and impossible puzzle.

The group ran into a snag - due to an unfortunate missing of a certain room across the Grand Hall, they were unaware that there were two Mausoleums flanking the area across the bridge - the north one housing Odin, and the south one housing Thor.

My rule is simple - 45 minutes. Tops. If the group can't find the clue or figure out the problem - I'm not going to force them to beat their head against the wall. I'll start handing out clues. Unless they either get it, or its obvious they aren't.

Nothing ruins a game faster than NOT being able to proceed due to some bit of lore that only the guy behind the screen is privy too, and giggling as the other 6 people around the table aren't having any fun.

So I was happy to reveal the missing clue that there was another tomb - and they took it from there. Including the plan involving potions of fire resistance, haste, screaming, and oil.

I was tempted to use the potion miscibility table - but that would have just been me being petty. :)

Write up follows:

Karis made some attempt to open a conduit to his god but Tyr was not responding to his pleas. The party was wondering what to do and how to help, but the half-ogre asked to be left alone. The rest of the group nodded and then moved on; Karis was going through the effort of gathering up all the broken and loose stonework he could find.

We decided to search out the local shops, hoping to find anything of interest or value. The first place we came to was once a swordmakers, but had been severely looted and ransacked. So we moved on to the next shop which was a weaponmakers – but it too had been picked clean over the ravages of time.

There was an axesmith’s next, with a “runelocked” door – and thought was given to opening it, but it was decided to wait for Karis as it might have something dangerous within. So we crossed the street to the only other shop with a standard marking it: the arbalests.

The place wasn’t nearly as beaten up as the other shops and the party took their time really giving the place a once over when their careful poking about disturbed a large spider. The arachnid pounced on Fodder and sunk its fangs into the war-wolf’s neck – injecting the druid’s pet with the spider’s venom. There were attempts to sweep it away or strike it, but they were not effective, until Gwyn grabbed the spider and held it – getting bit himself! While he was being attacked, Smokey came up and with a single swipe – obliterated the spider.

Detheron administered was elixirs he had to kill the poison in both the wolf and the dwarf and the rest of the party learned that there was nothing of value in the shop.

Meanwhile, while Karis was ruminating about his deeds and loss of Tyr’s blessing in his life, he was working up a sweat and thinking about his god, praying. And then he felt his consciousness elsewhere. He was in a large Heorot, the smell of peat fires and ale very strong. Warriors of all ages and of all types were gathered about the center cleared area where Karis found himself standing with a 7’ tall oddly nice looking human to his one side and a 13’ impression of the one-handed god of justice Tyr on the other.

He pled his case and Tyr listened and the other warriors and gods listened on – and Loki (the other person in the amphitheatre) was defending Karis’ actions against the goblins but Karis was not going to be tricked and stayed loyal to Tyr. Tyr told Karis that he would have to prove himself penitent for 24 hours and then he’d get his powers back. Loki told him that when Tyr was done with him, to look him up and he’d have a place for him.

Then Karis felt himself back where he was before and finished up his cairning of the goblins and praying over them. Then he walked down the hall to the party and both groups filled in the others with what they had learned so far.

Decision was made to go check out the rune locked doorway at the Axesmith as Detheron had one more stone affecting spell – and could widen one of the windows BARELY large enough for a lithe human to get through. Like Zoltan.

Our resident thief entered the shop – untouched for a century and a half. It was thick with dust but there were over 2 dozen samples of pristine dwarven axe-craftsmanship in displays all over the store. And directly over the archway was the shop’s masterpiece. This one axe that stood out. Hanging over the arch to the back portion of the shop, it is double bitted, about 4’ in length and the handle is wrapped in a strange pebbled leather as a grip. The metal is shimmering steel with wavering veins of red and orange flaring across both bits like flowing water. There is a carved dragon’s head between the bits and the shaft of the battle axe is hexagonal and turned clockwise. A number of Dwarven runes spell out the weapon’s name “Blaze” across the mirror like surface of each bit.

Zoltan wanted to give the place a once over – and like any good thief – looked for the cash box. It was still there, and he carefully pulled it out, trying to see if it would come. It did so – but in doing so, he triggered the trap and a poison dart shot out – hitting him in the wrist and he passed out.

The party waited but all they saw was Zoltan go down to get something and then nothing else. Eventually Detheron as the next smallest was voted to go in and see what had happened. He slithered through the window and Karis gave him a shove – knocking the druid forcefully through until he fell free and slammed his head into the counter. Detheron cursed the half ogre and made his way to Zoltan. He was unconscious and would need to be treated for the poison. Another precious elixir was administered and although the venom was taken from the wound, the thief was still unconscious.

So Detheron made to take the battle axe off the wall – and triggered a warding glyph – shocking himself for a sizeable amount of lightning damage and causing him to back away. After healing himself, he decided it was best to take what we could and leave. Meanwhile Gwyn was opting to enter next and with Karis’ help and more shoving, the dwarf was pressed through the window. Detheron was passing masterwork dwarven axes through to the party members as well as the metal cash box and eventually Zoltan’s unconscious body.

Gwyn was holding Karis’ lightning nullification rod and steeled himself for the pain – reaching up quick and knocking the “Blaze” battleaxe free. He got a nasty shock but caught the axe and stepped free.

With treasures in tow, we went back to the Temple of Odin and sealed the doors with spikes. Looking over our gathered goods. Karis forced the cash box opened showing us a small pile of golden coins as well as some 200 thin disks of mithril silver. Holy Crud!! The party knew this was a kingly sum and we rejoiced at our good fortune. Zoltan was awakened and the party ate and drank and got comfortable – eventually going to sleep for the night.

We awoke the next day, our 5th day underground by our reckoning, (Karis still hadn’t gotten back his powers yet) and talked about what was to happen. We wanted to get over the Chasm and into the Mausoleum doors on the north side of the hall over there to see about getting a holy symbol from a dead priest within. With the symbol, we could calm the hammer in the Thane room and then get the Runekey – the same runekey we would be able to use to open all the doors – one of which would and should be the treasure vault.

But the bridges and chasm were guarded by at least a 10 count of gnolls mounted on shocker lizards and we needed a plan to get over there. The gnolls had better vision than any of us in the dark, and if we used a light source, we would stand out like sore thumbs.

As usual with this group – fire came up. And it was a good plan. The party took all the burnable materials from both the temples of Odin and Thor: mattresses, bodies – everything. They piled it up in the Great Hall past the 3rd street and Gwyn used his fire building skills to soak it properly with oil (4 full flasks) – and then we lit it and made and WHOLE lot of noise.

We waited in the dark for only a little while before the gnolls came to investigate. Once they were there we ran in the dark hand in hand down the Great Hall, to the Chasm, crossed the bridge, and went to the closed door to the mausoleum with Odin symbols on it. Zoltan picked the lock and the party entered – the gypsy staying behind to sling the chains back through the door and making it appear it was still sealed before cloak-portalling in.

They entered a large mausoleum. The ceiling was domed 30’ over their head, the center of the room dominated by a 30’ diameter dais 3 tiers high, sporting 7 stone sarcophagi in a star pattern. Symbols to Odin abound on the coffins, their beauty and detail still visible over a century and half after they were first carved.

The walls have niches in them, 5 high and encircling the entire room, about half of them sporting dwarven skeletal remains. There was a feeling of peace in here, a sense of rest and well being.

The group was on edge – and decided to take a LONG time checking the room out. Zoltan tapped out a large area of the floor before getting to the dais – where he looked the place over with long and loving care. There were 7 dwarven priests in repose, all patriarchs to Odin, all long dead. They were identified as follows with name, date of death, and honorific:

Huroon Granitelip 134, 23rd Age Beloved of Odin
Mansheer Ironforge 129, 24th Age Seer of Visions
Tharis Ironforge 141, 25th Age Master Axesmith
Duodis Ironforge 163, 26th Age Sunderer of Chains
Baliyn Feybane 182, 27th Age Murderer of Hundreds
Feridon Ironforge 231, 28th Age Minister of Peace
Pator Deepdelve 282, 29th Age Giantbane

And then it was – now what? According to the paperwork clue we had found – we were looking for someone who stayed behind to seal up the city and summon the hammer. According to the paperwork that we had from Dargan’s Folley – we had surmised the dwarves abandoned Wodenvarelse between 150 and 160 years ago. And the current year is 174 of the 30th age. And an age is 300 years.

There were no markings on the sarcophagi that showed a symbol and the party was VERY loathe to open them and poke around. But when they did the math – they were looking for someone who was dead about year 15-25 of the 30th age – and no one in this chamber showed it.

Zoltan was looking around for any secret area or whatever – and in front of Pator’s tomb, discovered a hollow where skilled dwarves had made a hidey space. With Amal’s help, the two of them lifted the block free and uncovered some long empty skins and sacks, an old crossbow, and a thin leather quiver with 6 bolts within. A detect magic followed and 4 of the bolts showed some magic – but two of them showed tremendous magic. The party looked those two bolts over and were REALLY pleased to discover that they were Blessed bolts! Blessed bolts of Odin!

As happy as they were – they were stumped. Where was the symbol? Should they start opening tombs?

It was after some serious reading of the hints and clues and putting their heads together (and a friendly prod from the DM) there was a note in the poem that talked about the symbol being one of Thor – and this was a Mausoleum to Odin. There HAD to be one for Thor! And with the Dwarven penchant for symmetry in the design of the city – there was another doorway similar to this one across the grand hall.

But it was some 200’ away – in the dark – and the gnolls had come back. And we would have to fight our way through them. It would be difficult and most likely suicide.

So heads were put together and the group came up with a REAL ingenious plan! And yes – it involved fire!

Zoltan would drink the potion of Efreetiskin, cover himself in oil, give his equipment to the party to hold, and then drink the potion of Haste. Then he would set himself ablaze and with the wolf’s head helm on and a REAL noticeable target, would run out of the room as fast as he could and scream and weave and yell and run as fast as he could down back across the bridge and through the Great Hall, leading as many of the gnolls as he could with him.

With him acting as a diversion, the rest of us would run across the hall to the other door, open it, sneak inside, and shut it hopefully before anyone would notice we were there.

It was bold, crazy, foolish, and genius!!

And let me say, it went off as they expected. The shocker lizards could not keep up with the racing Zoltan and he led the mounted and running gnolls on a merry chase – only getting struck once by an errant bolt. Meanwhile the rest of the group charged across with only two gnolls barring the way. Gwyn shield slammed one of them, his new shield he took from the inner sanctum of the temple of Thor gave a loud SPAKOW and smacked the gnoll off his feet. Karis ran into the other who held on as tight as he could – until Amal tore him free from the half ogre and beat him about the neck with his cudgel.

Coruth’tae fired off a focused knock spell and the lock on the Thorian Mausoleum slipped free and the group ran in, shutting the door behind them. We caught our breath while Zoltan ran until his fire extinguished and then he cut left and doubled back – leaving the gnolls searching the darkness for him- his boosted speed and haste taking him swiftly back to the bridge where he crossed it and rejoined the group. We shut the door and congratulated ourselves for a good plan that worked out great.

The room was set up like the other one, except with Thorian symbols and there were only 5 sarcophagi in the center. Karis went up and read off the names as:

Curon Fireforge 162, 25th Age Opened the Way
Thundin Hammerhand 203, 26th Age Scourge of the Elves
Kanthar Trollslayer 241, 27th Age Master of the Written Word
Ulin Rockhome 274, 28th Age Dragonsbane
Iodin Ironheart 23, 30th Age Father and Friend

And there it was – Iodin’s coffin was the RIGHT priest and the RIGHT year. Karis laid his hand on the cover and shoved it to the side…and the game stopped here for the night.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Addon, Adv 6, Odin Clue

The party uncovered a clue written in dwarven runes in the Temple to Odin - which the druid and mage then spent some time deciphering.

It was some sort of poem and from what the party understood - talked about the 11' tall golden hammer in the Thaneroom that guarded the Runekey.

Discovered Poem follows:

Hammers fall and forges thrum
Our tireless work is gladly done
Anvils sing to every clan
Our hearts rejoice to join the band

Every father, sister, brother,
Cousin, nephew, niece and mother
Holds true the bond without complain
To Hearth, Family, Clan, and Thane.

The final doors we seal behind
Until the Norns decide that we in time
Shall return to our ancestral halls
And live once more within these walls.

Barriers bound with Dethek runes
Shall keep hallowed the untouched rooms.
The Thane himself shall seal the portals
Warded strong by the immortals.

A guard upon the key to door
Manifested gift and will of Thor
Only the symbol that gave it power
Can sooth the hammer in this hour.

The final act of Father’s will
He lay in repose with symbol still.
On his breast there simply be
The single lock to get the key.

Not Odin’s will not Heimdall’s fury
Can change this edict or slow or hurry
The last locks that we leave behind
For our unborn kith and kine.

Prelate Garthan Hammerhand
Priest of Odin

Meet 48, Adv 6, 11/15/08

Mages have to study. Sorcerers need 8 hours of sleep. But priests and paladins with their huge spell lists and seemingly incredible repository of skills at their bailiwick seem to have it pretty easy with only an hour of prayer effectively needed each day.

Until they turn away from their god's teachings.

I have played the game where players go on and on about how they don't want to have to pick a god. What's wrong with agnosticism or just not believing in it? Well, in the fantasy world, the god's DO exist - and their miracles are seen often. From simple globes of light and the curing of wounds to purifying food that has been spoiled or identifying poisons or blessings or creating water. The indisputable proof that the god's do exist and affect the mortal realm is not up for interpretation.

But this means that priests and paladins and druids need to pay special attention to their deity's ideals for if they stray from it - they will be punished.

As our friendly templar Karis discovered at the end of this session. We'll have to see how this wrinkle affects the party from this point out.

Write up follows:

We returned to the main area of the Temple of Thor and broke for lunch; the druid and priest dispensing healing as needed after our fight with the vortex creature guarding the inner sanctum. The party discussed options and plans and settled on what had been decided earlier – making their way to the end of the side road here and see if through any of the alley ways that there was passage to the other side of the chasm.

There was another doorway in the temple – this one seemingly would lead to the alleyway beyond. Upon looking it over it was discovered that it was wedged from our side with 3 stone wedges. Each of them there for decades and stuck tight. Karis used his crowbar and began banging and working the wedges out one at a time. It was making quite a bit of noise, so Zoltan, wearing the wolf’s head cap, wandered out into the main road and picked his way quietly to the alley, peering down it.

And clustered at the end of the alley near the same door they were hoping to enter, two large and hulking owlbears were investigating the noises. Crud.

The gypsy whistled off a quick spell and sent a silent Message to Karis – telling him that there were two owlbears here and to be warned. Just as the last wedge was pulled free. Weapons were readied and Zoltan decided to make things a little easy for the party. Waving his arms and opening his Continual Light locket, he shouted down the alley and one of the owlbears roared out “HRROOO-HAA!” and came loping down the alley towards him. Zoltan turned and ran out of the alley mouth and back towards the temple doors.

Karis tore the door open and stepped into the alley – sword leading the way and engaged the rear owlbear, causing it to stop its charge and turn and engage the templar. Gwyn readied his crossbow and attempted to follow, but the tight confines of the alley made any further aid useless. Detheron and his animal companions made to run to the Temple entrance to help Zoltan who could be heard outside the temple running back with an owlbear charging behind.

Amal, realizing he would not be able to help, hoisted one of the stout stone pews and holding it in front of him like a battering ram, raced towards the other “stuck” door of the temple and smashed it open; the orcish warrior spilling into the street amongst broken stone and the cracked portal. Zoltan ran faster, the owlbear rapidly on his behind. At the end of the street just shy of the door he attempted to run up the wall and “flip” over the owlbear from behind for a backstab – but misjudged and slid to the ground, bounding up at the last moment and tried to meet the beast head on.

Karis struggled in the confined space to drive the other owlbear back, but the hallway was restricting his fighting style. Gwyn dropped to one knee and the dwarf fired up and through the knight’s legs, crossbow bolt hitting the ursine monster and staggering it. Coruth’tae stayed, hoping for an opportunity to add his strengths to the fight.

Amal pulled out his hand axe and hurled it end over end, but it missed the owlbear and slapped into Zoltan, knocking the thief back and hurting him. The orc apologized and instead drew a 2nd one and ran into the fight traditionally. Fodder and Smokey joined in the struggle with Zoltan and the two druid’s companions took some of the blows off Zoltan (who was doing poorly at this time) and helped to right the struggle against the owlbear. Smokey had been struck hard in the nose and stunned, the owlbear stepping on the bear’s right arm, pinning it to the ground as it met Amal’s charge with beak and claw.

Karis and Gwyn continued to beat at the 1st owlbear, a two count of deep wounds causing it to turn and run. And then they heard a THIRD owlbear charging closer from the dim reaches of the alley! Karis said, “This one’s yours!” to the dwarf and ran at full speed with no care of defense after the fleeing owlbear he had wounded so badly.

Detheron finally arrived on the scene with Amal, Zoltan, and the two animals, his boar spear stabbing repeatedly at the beast. Between the 5 of them, the owlbear staggered and slumped over dead, Fodder performing the coup-de-grace by tearing the bellowing monster’s throat out.

Gwyn stepped back and tried to ready a crossbow bolt but Coruth’tae touched the door frame and caused an illusion of the wall to appear – “closing off” the alley and buying the dwarf some time. Enough time to step back a few spaces, listen intently, and trust to his instincts before firing through the illusionary wall. And criticalling the owlbear behind! The monster screeched in pain as the bolt tore into it and the dwarf swapped to his shield and scimitar.

Karis charged out of the alley intent on getting the badly wounded owlbear – but ran full head long into a NEW one coming down the main road to investigate the battle noises! He slammed his sword at it but the blow was not effective, and then the beast plied claw and beak on the half-ogre, seriously hurting him as it tore through armor and mail.

The party tried to run to Karis’ aid, Zoltan going slower and then stopping, his wounds too painful for him to chase after and help. Between everyone’s effort the beast the templar was fighting was beaten down and slain, and then the half ogre ran down to help the dwarf who was putting the last blows against the badly hurt monster and the battle was done.

Most of the party was pretty hurt and we had now faced 4 of the owlbears. In ones they aren’t so bad, but in pairs right after one another it taxed the group’s ability even though we had won. And there was going to be no rest (enough for sleep) for at least 5 hours – so holing up might be an option but we would be wasting valuable dungeoneering time. Detheron had an idea. Taking out Heimdall’s Bulwark, he placed the staff on the ground, had the party gather around him, and exerted his will to have the staff enact ‘Last Stance’.

The guardian weapon peeled off a crack of thunder while a prismatic shower of lights sprung up around the group in a 10’ circle making a rainbow ward and a final rumble seethed through the area and healed everyone in the party 20 hit points. Very nice! Yeah it uses multiple charges but it seemed effective.

Until we realized that the “show” just attracted every monster, creature, and beastie in the nearby vicinity. The tongue of a cave fisher shot out of the darkness rebounding off the rainbow ward, a half dozen dog sized spiders skittered towards us, and the “HRROO- HAA” noise of 2, no 3, no FOUR owlbears coming to investigate made the group shake their head and verbally rebuke the druid. We could not get out of the shielded area and the enemy couldn’t get to us. The wards last between 2 and 5 minutes before failing.

And then we would be swarmed.

So Detheron called on Frey and dropped a billowing cloud of fog over the party and the nearby area – blocking our view of the approaching beasts and their view of us. We heard some fighting out there as owlbears and cave fishers and large spiders began tearing into each other. And a few minutes later, hidden by the fog, the rainbow ward dropped and we ran into the Temple of Thor again – piling pews against the entrance and waiting for the sounds of the fighting to end outside.

We stayed inside quiet for almost 15 minutes before checking out the main road again. It was empty. Just spider bodies and some blood smears. The group still wanted to look at the back of this road as well as the alleys – there was hope for finding another way across. So we carefully picked our way from building to building (the first was some sort of dwarven glassblowers, but long ago smashed and destroyed.). We waited and watched, hoping to be ready for any sign of trouble.

The stink of owlbear was getting real strong and the last two places on the left side had been the most demolished of all the shops we had seen so far. We peered in and saw long dead bodies (cave fishers, gigantic bugs, goblinoids) and the wall between the two shops had been compromised, movement heard from the other place. Zoltan crept up to a shattered window and peered in, seeing at least 5 adult owl bears (one of them a female), maybe more, and 4 juvenile ones in some sort of ransacked and piled up den or nest.

Then he picked his way silently down the alley until he got close enough to the end to verify that, yes, there was a corridor that went in the direction of the rest of the Warrens on the other side of the chasm - before returning to the group and they moved back to discuss our options.

The decision to go past the owlbears and hope we could all sneak was discarded as we would most likely not be able to do it as a party. And fighting a lot of owlbears in the narrow alley would be difficult and eventually suicide. Possibly fighting the owlbears here in their own nest, with young nearby, would also be uncommonly foolish and risk the party being wiped out. We dickered over this for a bit until Zoltan postulated that the dwarves seemed to have built this place symmetrically – so if there was a “back way” in on this side – then there might be a “back way in” on the OTHER side of them complex! We had to this point in time, only looked over the North streets of the Warrens and none of the South ones.

Karis made a snap decision for the group and we were going to leave this area and the dangers of the owlbears and head towards the south halls to check them out instead. It was a bit of a shock for the group, but we figured it was a good call and we left the hall, crossed the Great Hall, and found our way to the third side hall on the other end.

It was designed the same as the others we had seen with old and long unused gates that could have closed once upon a time. There was a door on the corner edge of the hall and beyond it a fountain with some sort of red tinged water (Detheron investigated it, telling us it was full of minerals but safe to drink), and then beyond that shops and homes and alleys on both sides with the crystal veins overhead reflecting our lantern light all the way down.

We listened to the 1st door and Zoltan heard some staccato “clacking” sounds within. Popping it open, he saw it was a large and one time metal storage area with huge bins and shelves from floor to ceiling. A door was in the back of the dark warehouse, and there were easily a half dozen rust monsters in here and they were turning towards the noise the party was making…He shut the door.

The group wanted to go and see what was beyond the door in there and Karis and Gwyn began taking off their armor to go and do it – when the party realized – rust monsters do not “clack”. At all. There was something ELSE in there. And we hadn’t seen it. Hmmm…You know what? Taking off our armor to go into the rust monster room with the unknown baddie might not be a good idea!

We wanted to go further in and check out the place, it seemed to be a quiet section of the complex – but the first thing they wanted to know was if the “back door” corridor was here as well to get past the Chasm. Zoltan was volunteered (lucky gypsy!) to go down the alleyway and look. So he replaced the wolf’s head cap and walked along quietly. Staying in the alleyway, he walked about until he was able to make out that yes, there was an extended corridor here as well that went behind the complex and beyond.

Satisfied he turned and began to walk back when he felt something tugging on him. He pulled forward and slid his arms out of backpack and turned. His pack was hanging there in mid air, sort of shimmering like it was covered in something like glass or water. And the leather was dissolving away.

Crud – Gelatinous cube.

Figuring it was a lost cause, Zoltan returned to the party and informed them of the hungry alley sweeper that sucked down his pack as well as the corridor that kept going to the other side of the complex.

The party then wanted to check out the shops and see if there was anything of interest. Many shops but on a few standards were still hanging: Axesmith (runelocked doorway), Shieldsmith, Arbalests, and Temple to Odin. Nice. The party entered the temple. It was laid out similar to the Temple of Thor, except this one had felt the ravages of goblin or kobold searches and most everything in here had been taken and removed or spoiled. There was a runelocked door in the back of the place. The group decided to search the place completely.

Gwyn discovered some ancient dwarven papers hidden in the bottom of the pulpit which he gave to the druid and mage to decipher.

It was when Zoltan climbed the 20’ statue of Odin and spent considerable time fiddling with the All Father’s eye patch that he was able to lift the patch and reveal a hollow behind. In which was a 3” diameter red and black faintly glowing gem-like sphere. He brought it down and although it did glow the equivalent light of a candle, there was nothing else about it. The group guessed that it was roughly the same size or a tiny bit smaller than the opening in the 8’ tall iron and copper finned thing they had seen in the guard room. Would it fit in there? What would it do?

With still some time to kill the party wanted to have Detheron use his magic to bypass the runelocked door in the back of this place which most likely lead to the inner sanctum here. So the druid softened the stone wall and Amal, Karis, and Gwyn worked their shovels/picks/crowbars until a hole had been smashed through the stone wall.

They watched as a wind swept through: righting up objects and blowing away dust and lighting candles and chandeliers. And then in the back wall two stone panels slid up, revealing 3’x5’ openings in which oversized black stone raven statues were sitting – staring out into the room. What to do? The consensus was that if we took anything from here, the two statues would come to life and attack.

Then Zoltan remembered that he had picked up two vials of Brittlerock oil on the layer upstairs. Carefully he walked in, Gwyn and Karis standing with him, and poured the contents of the two vials on the statues – the stone becoming discolored and porous looking. Then he stood back and the two fighters readied weapons to swing – and the two stone ravens flew out to attack.

Talons tore through armor with ease and ripped flesh below. Gwyn swung and hit – and the raven statue exploded into rubble! Karis missed and the statue winged over his shoulder and assaulted him there. The party ran forward to help, Karis taking a surprising amount of damage – but the half ogre was able to sight his swing and the 2nd raven was struck and destroyed! Well done!

A quick detect magic followed and the party sorted out what they found. Some jewelry and items of interest like that. The pillow on the bed was magical – which was strange and the party had fun whacking each other with it (it DID hit with a loud “Pfft!” and really rock a head back – but what was it for?), as was a strange bone like spear that had the word “Hydra” upon it and pictographs of dragons and wyrms. There was a scroll of Mass Cure Moderate Wounds discovered amidst the desk too. And finally a ram’s horn with agate and feather fetishes that read “Clarion’s Call” upon it. When Gwyn had it it felt like nothing, but in Karis’ hand it felt warm.

We pocketed our gear and wandered out, hoping to hit a few more places before holing up for rest for the night somewhere safe. Upon going to the Shieldsmith’s though, the party heard goblin and kobold voices inside faint and laughing. Karis wanted to race in and exterminate them. A few of the party members went behind the shop to try and seal off the back door but the floating remains of a pack and the belongings once inside of it near there told them the gelatinous cube was still in the area and if the gobos went that way – they would have a problem.

So we gathered up and followed Karis in slowly. In the back of the place were a dozen or so of the goblins and kobolds, wearing simple homespun and eating a small collection of mice. They were not surprised at the party, in fact they called out to Karis in their language as if asking him something.

The templar wasted no time, running one of the goblins through and then whirling around and cleaving another one – slaying it outright. They humanoids stood up and began protesting and shouting and Karis was feeling a bit strange, but he swung again – killing a third one before it felt like something burst behind his eyes and he fell over knocked out.

To the rest of the group – as his sword clove the 3rd goblin, a spectral image of a buxom Viking woman with a horned helm appeared behind the knight and placed her hand inside his head – pulling something away before rising up and through the ceiling like mist.

The goblins and kobolds began running and the party let them go – watching them shout and clamor and run down the main road and back to the great Hall and gone. The party spent a few minutes waking up Karis (even smacking him with the magic pillow!) and when he woke up he felt different, like there was a haze over his heart or something. As he got to his feet, his holy symbol slipped from his neck – the mark of Tyr, god of war and justice, was cut in twain. His first words were, “I guess my god abandoned me.” Which earned him a terrible headache.

So he tried to say it again, and felt more pain – until it occurred to him that it wasn’t Tyr that turned from Karis – it was Karis that turned from and angered Tyr.

With the new wrinkle in the party’s makeup and wondering what we must do now, the game came to an end with about an hour or two of oil left in the lantern and the group getting weary.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Addon, Adv 6, Cyric 2

I had a second set of notes that didn't make it to the Dargan Folly books stowed down here in the Temple of Thor. This level is 104 different planned encounter areas and obviously many more rooms and locations (they just are window dressing) so I had to admit I was pretty damned pleased that the group actually went to the Temple of Thor and opened it - without knowing what was inside or that these notes (to help them) were in here.

Notes follow:

We’ve spent the better part of three weeks working back and forth over these Warrens and so far the consensus between the majority of us is that this is beyond any of us.

I know Sir Dargan is inordinately proud and considers himself the sole architect of all that we’ve looked at and encountered and built, but the truth is that there have been some very talented people working down here as well as at Caer Dargan above who have made this happen.

And none of us, not a single one, could hold a candle to the skill and acumen the ancient dwarves had performed in this their city.

We’ve encountered ancient bakeries, where the ovens can still grow warm. Smiths and metal shops with cast off leavings and discarded dross that is either denser steel than anything our own metallurgists can forge or containing such detail and attention it would put the best etchers in Cymbarton to shame.

The majority of the buildings on the eastern side of the Warrens are shops and places of business – a mercantile locale. A number of the doors do not open, and are marked with a large bas relief of a set of triangles facing each other. Bragthar informs us that it is a dwarven rune for “D”.

Whatever it is, doors that bear these symbols bar our way, much to Sir Dargan’s ire. We’ve looked for a runekey to match this symbology in order to open the doorways (since all our attempts up to and including hexcraft and wizardry have met with naught) but to date have been unlucky.

With Odin’s blessing we hope to find a key soon.

Unless the departing dwarves took the runekey with them.

Cyric Mulholland
Plantmonth 11th, 126 of the 30th Age

The strangest creature I’ve ever seen just ate the chain leggings off Sir Belvidus’ body – and left the surprised man at arms completely unscathed!

We were poking around near the fountain when a curious cross between an oversized beetle, a skulking wolf, and some sort of drunken bard’s wild nightmare trundled up and tried to push its way to what we thought was the fountain to take a drink.

However, as we moved aside, it suddenly shifted direction and whipped a pair of its antenna forward to slap against Sir Belvidus’ armor, and so help me Sif the damned chain links turned to rust and clattered away like spilt nails. And the strange creature proceeded to slurp up the rusted metal with noisy gusto.

We drove it away in time but not before losing four spear heads, two shields, and the business end of Quint Ungar’s prod-bar to the creatures’ touch.

Couple that with the other oversized monsters and strange beasties we’ve seen glaring at us from beyond the torch light and I can tell you, I have no interest in being stuck down here alone for any length of time.

Cyric Mulholland
Plantmonth 29th, 126 of the 30th Age

Sir Dargan Cooperson is furious. And I for one can’t blame him.

While a number of tusked orcs assaulted the walls of Caer Dargan above, perhaps a sixty count of the hulking brutes, at what I learned later to be the same time, an assault of lanky goblins attacked the artisans and engineers down here in the Warrens from across the bridge!

They ranged in number anywhere from twenty-five to eighty, depending on the frightened report of whatever man or woman was that much closer to the “battle-line” and their frantic remembrances. Armed with either simple weaponry, curved swords, or sharpened teeth and gore slathered talons (this last was from Dulgar who suffered a number of cuts to his face and neck and has been blubbering about the attack non-stop for almost 4 hours now), they came into the torch light and tried to break past our men and make their way towards the head of the great hall.

Sir Dargan is convinced that they were going to link up with the orcs above and most likely force the great gates open. He has been calling for an expulsion of the traitor who was working with the orcs and goblins and demands to see them swing from the barbican by nightfall.

Goblins…they are not a friend of orcs and the two races do not get along. Plus, how would they even communicate with one another if one is far over ground and approaching from the north and west – and the other has been in the lightless deep for some time and could not make it to the surface anyway?

When trying to present these facts to Sir Dargan I was sure that my words were falling on deaf ears. He has been too occupied with his books and his grasp on the current situation sometimes is lightly held if at all.

Cyric Mulholland
Birthmonth 15th, 126 of the 30th Age

Korvalis Ungar happens to speak a little goblin tongue, where the pipeweed chewing miscreant learned the guttural tongue, I’m not asking.

However, we’ve been using his little known skill to help us question a number of the rotten buggers we’ve found wandering around what we’ve come to call the Temple to Thor (I mean it’s a distinctly bearded fellow with a hammer and a lightning bolt – who in Hel is it supposed to be?). There is a door in the back covered in one of the “D” runes and we asked (or at least had Korvalis ask for us) the snaggle toothed backstabber if he’s seen the same marking either over the bridge on what we’ve called the goblin side of the Warren…OR a device with that symbol on it.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but the green skinned goblin waxed long and wildly about it. Apparently there is some sort of throne room (Korvalis called it a Thane room, but I think he’s mispronouncing it) on the other side of the Warrens. And in this room there is this symbol in reverse on a hexagonal stone plate.

And it’s guarded by a 11’ tall golden hammer.

Supposedly, this hammer whirls around and smashes anyone who tries to get the rune thingie. Its become a sort of “last chance for redemption” challenge amongst the goblin tribe and their subalterns to send convicted members into the room to get the disk. The assumption is if you can get the stone, you’re not guilty and can come back to the clan.

I don’t know what Sir Dargan thinks of all this, but I’ll be dipped in molasses and rolled on a fireant hill if he thinks I’m going to chance taking the disk.

Cyric Mulholland
Birthmonth 24th, 126 of the 30th Age

We are supposed to mount a force to go to the Undercity, the layer below the Warrens where Sir Dargan has his vault.

There are goblins down here, and we’ve tangled with them often enough these last weeks to make me hate the vile sight of them. They invade and infect every spare crack and crevice like roaches, scurrying back and forth in the darkness with their greasy hands clutching knives and clubs and spears, waiting, waiting.

The chant a lot. Never knew that about goblins, but they are big on chanting. Rhythmic and pounding, their raspy voices grow deep and loud and its enough to set your teeth on edge. And then they stop and you wonder, are they attacking?

Sir Dargan says that his books tell him that there are great magics below, magics powerful enough to turn the tide of the battle and drive every orc and ogre away like leaves in a summer squall.

Somewhere below our feet is something that could help us. And all we have to do is go and get it. When I asked Sir Dargan why the dwarves would leave such a potent force behind when they left, he replied that the ancient dwarves couldn’t take such magic with them. But they were able to lock it away and contain it for such a time when it would be needed once again.

In the city below. The Undercity. I…I don’t believe it. But I won’t let my lord and friend down.

If he’s willing to go even further under the earth, than so will I.

We will find this place, and claim this magic, and bring it to the surface to set right the wrongs that befall the people of Marronia.

Cyric Mulholland
Heatmonth 3rd, 126 of the 30th Age

Meet 47, Adv 6, 11/1/08

Not everything even the most prepared party of adventurer's will face can be met head on. And we are not just talking about hiding in the shadows to strike at it as it passes. Sometimes the best way to achieve the goal is not the most direct way.

The party finally had the opportunity to see this - Zoltan getting the layout of the Chasm and the bridges that cross it - the dangers, and the guards there. If the group had more bodies at their disposal maybe they could swarm the bridges. But then again, maybe not.

A good dungeon crawl will have a number of side quests and not so linear plot points to achieve what is needed - but it should also have areas where sometimes a hammer is not needed to solve the problems.

Write up follows:

We holed ourselves up back in the dwarven barracks that we had bypassed the runelocked door of in the Great Hall of Wodenvarelse, the 2nd level of the area known as Dargan’s Folly. The illusionist made the appearance of the wall being unbroken from the outside, Karis opened his bear trap and placed it inside the opening, and then the party stacked about 9 of the stone pallets that were in the room in front of that – walling us in, but giving us a place to be safe.

After that the group talked to the 3 goblin thugs we had captured and had trussed up. One of them spoke dwarvish, another spoke ogre, and the last didn't speak anything but goblin. We asked many questions and tried to get a feel for what's down here. There is a leader, Sakath Slobbertongue. He is across something called the chasm, and then make a left on the Grand Concourse till you get to the throne room. There are about 30 guards there.

Little more was learned from them and Amal was asked to dispatch the goblins (the orc doing so happily) and we spoke about what we had learned and what was to come up next. The group did not want to slog room to room and try to find the treasure vault (assuming we even could) – but the thought around the group ran strong that it is probably further in on this level. We were going to rest and then the next day – try to map out and get a feel for the dimensions and size of the Great Hall. After that, we would figure out where to go and how to get there.

Healing kits were applied and the party did their best to sleep. Amal and Gwyn both opted to take half sleeps as they were the least wounded and didn't want to leave Coruth'tae up by himself (the grey elf only requiring 4 hours of "rest" a night.). Little came by us that we noticed and the next "morning" (we have no idea what day or time it is exactly) we awoke and readied spells and prayers.

We left the barracks (after dismantling our barrier) and began walking. We went slow, pacing ourselves and allowing Coruth'tae and Zoltan to map out and ask questions of what it was we were seeing. A total of three roads jutted off from the Great Hall to the right, the area between the 2nd and 3rd having another runelocked door like we had broken our way into yesterday. Beyond that the hall continued for some distance, a couple hundred feet – and as it went, the earth was sloping downward at a gentle 5-10 degrees. It felt natural, not like the cavern was settling.

But as we had been walking on we heard voices in the gloom ahead and they were calling out. We continued on and then we heard something being "fired" and a spear launched itself into our circle of light. The lantern was doused and we froze – those with infravision and darksight trying to pierce the darkness shroud ahead (and failing – visibility for them limited to roughly 60'). More strange sounds, like something wetish padding through the stone floor. Also odd "zzzzzt" sounds and small trails of sparks.

We gathered together and waited and listened – the padding sound getting higher and higher – and then another spear was thrown into our midst. Zoltan shot off a dancing lights spell and sent the "torches" up to where the noise was – and revealed a 20' long thick bellied lizard holding onto the column with sticky "fingers", and a saddle on its back with a burly dog-like wiry furred humanoid perched there – an oversized looking crossbow pointing at the group.

The lizard leapt off and spread its leg, flaps of skin causing it to soar as it dove at the party. Karis ran forward and tried to hack it out of the sky, the dog like man fell from the saddle. Fodder and Smokey tore into the wounded lizard and the dog man attempted to flee. Sling bullets were hurled and Gwyn got a shock from the lizard but with some effort, the two foes were slain.

And then a bunch more were approaching us and the group decided it was time to run. Zoltan and Gwyn were struck and knocked down, Smokey pinned a few times. Amal grabbed the gypsy, Karis the dwarf and the party threw defenses to the wind and ran as fast as possible to get out of the area and ran back up the slope towards the "streets". A bag of caltrops hit the ground behind us. Panting and grunting we ran away and heard the sound of the pursuers slowing down as they came to the dead we left there and hitting the spikes we scattered in our wake.

Down the side road, spears were removed and we readied weapons and waited. And waited – nothing came, the pursuers had turned back. Whew….now what? The group was convinced we had to cross into that area – but the creatures (we guessed at gnolls) were too strong and numerous. The party agreed to let Zoltan go ahead, invisible from Coruth'tae's spells, and have him "map" out the area. They would wait here as long as possible.

Slipping the wolf's-head cap over his head to expand his hearing and give him some infravision, Zoltan stalked ahead silently. He eventually arrived where the party had been turned back and kept going – until he was able to see a chasm ahead. It was a good 50' wide and crossed the entire width of the Great Hall. Two bridges of arched stone, 40' wide, arced gently over the chasm to the other end. A latticework of metal struts and catwalks were under it. A pair of stern looking dwarven statues flanked each side of each bridge. The depth of the chasm was immeasurable as it went to his vision range and kept going.

A lizard mounted gnoll was patrolling on one bridge and on the other side were many others – almost 10. Zoltan went to the 2nd bridge and picked his way from metal bar to bar until he crossed to the other side. Then he trusted to his invisibility and skill at moving silently and slid past the unknowing gnolls (a couple of the lizards looked at him, but did nothing else) until he was at the "southern" wall. From here he went on, eventually coming to a wide 40' street with a 50' vaulted ceiling festooned with natural crystal growths. It went on and the sound of gnolls were very strong (this seemed to be the Grand Concourse mentioned earlier).

Taking advantage of not being noticed yet, he went on, further exploring the other side of the Great Hall past the chasm. There were no other side roads on the left, and eventually the wall began to curve around to the north – a double set of doors bearing the runelock upon them. At the end of the Hall – the floor dropped and the dressed stone became cruder and rougher. The corridor was perhaps 50' wide here, the ceiling topping out at 40'. There were up to 30 tall statues piled at the end, all of them 10'/20' tall taciturn looking dwarvish beings. It was obvious that they had been brought here at some point; their bottoms had been dragged or removed from whatever bases they once sat upon. Beyond the statuary, the hall split right and left.

Zoltan continued about, curving now up the northern wall and heading back towards the chasm – passing an opened doorway with some sort of soiled records chamber and a half dozen gnolls sitting around a smoldering fire and stoned looking. Then there was a mirror of the Grand Concourse, the sound of industry, clanging hammers, and many goblin and kobold voices. Just shy of the chasm was another doorway – this one not runelocked but a length of chain running through the double handles and a stout lock fastened. A note read something about tomb doors needing to remain closed on orders of Kashtir Bristlestone. And then the missive was signed by a Sakath Slobbertongue (the same name the goblin we had captured had said ran the place).

Zoltan snuck back to the southern bridge, picked his way underneath, and went back to the party. The entire exploration took an hour. We talked long on what he had found and the party came to the conclusion that a straight out fight would most likely be dangerous for us – even deadly. The gnolls were not like goblins or kobolds and were most likely doughty fighters. Plus, mounted as they were on the huge lizards and the advantage of superior vision – it was a recipe for slaughter.

So we thought about what we had learned on the floor above – and realized that the dwarves had designed the Stronghold in such a way that they (if they knew where to go) could pick their way through many of the chambers and wind up on the back end of an assaulting force. The same might prove true down here. That meant besides the alleyways, they could find some sort of corridor or chamber or passage that would lead the group from this area of the warrens to the other side and bypass the chasm and the gnolls there.

We opted to go down the 3rd avenue (where we were already holed up) and gave the street a long once over. Many buildings on both sides as we had noticed already – but on the left side there were a couple of doors that looked like they had been stuck fast in the frames – requiring either spell or strength to open them. Not wanting to alert any baddies down here, Detheron spell shaped the edges of the stone doors so we could push them in without noise – and we entered.

It was a rather large temple to Thor. And it looked like it had been unspoiled for a long time. Three rows of pews, a locked cabinet, altar, prayer area, lectern, podium, screens, dried font, tall statue of Thor. There were three other doors also in here – one that led back to the main street- one that we assumed led to the alleyway, and a third that was in the back of the place and sported a runelock on it.

We looked around. Found candles, some clerical prayer paraphernalia, various accoutrements. The cabinet was forced open and we uncovered some priestly belongings, 4 holy symbols to Thor (2 silver, 1 gold, 1 platinum), and a 7 count of copper and silver bells each one corresponding to a single ascending note. The group took them all. Detheron found a series of papers that were penned by Cyric Mulholland! More notes that never made it into the Dargan Folly books! He began reading.

We were talking about getting through the back wall with another use of Detheron's soften stone spell to see what was there. Was it a passage to the other side of the Chasm? Detheron's reading revealed that according to Dargan's people – there is a room with an 11' tall glowing golden hammer that also has something that was called the "runekey" in it. Any goblin who attempted (or any creature supposedly) to enter the chamber was assaulted by the soaring hammer and battered to a bloody paste. Alright then – the hammer is in some sort of either Throne Room or Thane Room. The group was feeling good – that was a clue needed to uncover some of this place.

Detheron used his spell to soften the stone wall and Karis, Gwyn, and Amal beat at the wall until we had knocked a hole next to the runelocked door. It was assumed to be the High Priest of Thor's inner sanctum. The chandelier lit and a wind swept about the room, dusting things off and opening the roll-top desk. Upon entering though, a bolt of lightning cracked out of the ceiling and struck the party – not much, but enough to cause them to leap back. Ok…room is warded. How do they get in?

Zoltan took one of the holy symbols (the silver one), put it on, gave a quick prayer to Thor asking him if it is ok, and then entered – safely! Karis, Gwyn, and Detheron each put on symbols too while the rest of the group waited outside. There was much to look at and much to see. A call to detect magic was prayed for and the party noted many items of interest glowing. Nice.

When Karis swept everything off the desk and tried to walk out of the room to hand it to Coruth'tae, a vortex of energy swarmed up, slamming into the half ogre hard, and shoved him back. Some of the party left what they had picked up and tried to walk out of the room (unmolested) and Karis fought his way back to the desk and dumped everything on it, hoping to calm the strange invisible vortex creature. It didn't work.

Coruth'tae fired off a bolt of energy from his wand and it went through the creature – slamming into Karis! Spell resistance! Damn it. The half ogre, unable to escape the room, drew Kysoth's Bludgeon and assaulted the creature – hurting it! Amal took Zoltan's amulet to Thor and entered with Elkstone drawn, and Gwyn reentered with Elfsplitter whistling overhead. Even Detheron came back in – plying healing to the wounded half ogre and trying to keep him vertical.

Sling stones and more wand use was hurled from outside and the party bent blade and bludgeon without letting up – the creature taking all their hits and hitting them back. It was touch and go with some great and daring healing by Detheron. Karis attempted to wade into the invisible windy vortex creature, mace slamming about. The creature lifted him straight up and hurled him at the ceiling. The half ogre twisted in the air and hung upside down, feet on the ceiling, twenty feet in the air. A massive concentration assaulted the fading vortex and then it disappeared with a final bursting blast. The group healed their wounds and we cleaned out the priest's chambers – taking everything with us to the main temple.

Besides obvious treasures, they found a matched pair of sapphire rings of which one of them was magical, a rod of healing (10' range) with 36 lit rune charges on it, a scroll of Raise Dead, various pages for scrolls and quills and inks, a comb that made someone's hair become clean and well groomed, and a shield with a pair of lightning bolt symbols on it.

After dividing up the treasures we talked about what to do next and where to go – and the game ended here for this night.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Meet 46, Adv 6, 10/25/08

There was a time in my life when I didn't like wandering monsters. I looked at them as an interruption of the adventure's flow and it seemed silly to have strange baddies walking about, looking for tasty adventurers to eat.

Happily I've canned that. An adventure is not a scripted play and too many DM's run them like that. I MUCH prefer loose and fast (for almost a 2 year stint, I had actually run a campaign with no prewritten material - winging it every night - it was one of the better times I've had DMing), but I also have a life now that isn't just exclusively gaming - so I make my job easier by writing things down in advance. A pacing for the adventure.

But just because I planned for something doesn't mean that either A) The party is going to go there or encounter that hing, or B) That when it comes time for that thing to happen that I am going to do it! And wandering monsters make an already dangerous experience in my opinion fun.

So this meeting had a number of wandering monsters - some of them truly wandering about, others were from rooms with baddies in it that decided they wanted to "roam about" and stretch their legs.

Overall, I liked it! I think the group enjoyed it too.

Write up follows:

The group at this point decided that there was a lot of area to cover – and wanted to split up into two parties. One party would search the upstairs portions of the warrens (the homes) and the other would search the shops on the ground level. The access to the upstairs of each place was a dwarven sized set of steps that went up along the buildings faces about 12' to the landing and homes above. Each set of steps was only 2' wide – and there were no handrails.

Karis, Zoltan, and Amal went upstairs – while Detheron (and his animals), Gwyn, and Coruth'tae handled the lower level. Happy (sort of) with the way we divided up the group, the party went back into and over the 1st place we had visited: with the countertops, rusted cages, and many hundreds of rodent bones. The exploration of the upstairs revealed it to be dwarven height (Karis was tightly packed in) with a couple of rooms and some long abandoned amenities. Meanwhile the downstairs shop was turning up little if anything.

While looking out a bedroom window facing the street, Zoltan happened to see a strange large glistening and translucent cube like shape passing in front of the building. The ground behind it was scoured clean. He called for Karis and Amal and they watched the strange thing ooze its way forward slowly, turn down the next alley, and head that way. They went to the side window and watched as it squeezed itself thin and took up a large part of the narrow alley – passing in front of the window and leaving a cleaning smear behind it in its wake.

The group got back together and the passing gelatinous cube was discussed and more talk of NOT going down the dark alley was said. Detheron's lantern was almost empty and he filled it halfway with a flask of oil, going on the assumption that when it gutters out, we are going to rest for the "night". It was also talked about that searching the entire Warrens like this, not knowing what we are looking for and going through home after shop after everything would take too long – and we only have 6 days.

It was discussed at length and then the party decided we were going to walk down the street and stop only at any place that looked interesting. And at that time we would go in and investigate. Yes we would most likely miss a lot of things, but we needed to find the treasure room/vault (assuming it's even identified as such). After going back home we could/would then broker for more time and come here to clean/clear out the place at our leisure.

We followed the main road, noting locations as we passed them. At one of the shops, there was a thick oily and lumpy residue coating the entrance area and doorjambs, with smaller flecks of it scattered everywhere both in and out. It seemed to be a shoemakers. The group decided they didn't want to mess with it and walked passed, voices raised. Their noises carried and they then heard something moving inside the place. The group froze.

Zoltan went back a few steps and stopped. Coming out of the door was a tremendous beetle. It had long antenna covered in fine cilia and as it "sensed" about, it waved them, making a "zzzzz-ing" sound and causing the two of them to generate sparks. The beetle moved about a few minutes and then went back inside. Alrighty then….that was weird.

We looked at other places until we arrived at the end of the block. The shop here was a wheelwright and from what the group could see, the interior was surprisingly clean. Hmm – that gelatinous thing was down here at some point. The hall ended, and there was a larger accumulation of junk on the back corner and area, testament that the cube doesn't come down and around to this area.

We wanted to get out of this road and back to the main hall, so we crossed the street and followed the wall there – noting old lamp areas where dwarven lighting would have been maintained – now long cold and dark.

At the Great Hall we proceeded onward passed the barracks till we came to the "next" street. There was the same area in the front where the place could be closed and defended but heavily rusted and unusable. This had the same set up as the last road – except there were homes and shops on both sides of the street – and it stretched off into the darkness. There were odd echoes here and there like one would hear from living things. Lovely.

There was much discussion of proceeding onward here and the group noted that the 1st building was much larger in dimensions than the others on the right side. So readying their weapons and gear, they proceeded closer. It was a millers, but the great millstone was long gone. However there were LOTS of thick spider webs all over the place – not in layers so to speak, but in the dimensions of the webbing itself.

As they were backing off, their light source flaring about them, gigantic figures dropped from the ceiling and skittered towards them. The group ran back to the street and readied weapons. 5 large spiders about 3' tall and 2 giant ones closer to 7' tall emerged and gave chase. The battle ensued. Swords were plied, scimitars whistled, wands were sparked and fired.

The spider's sunk their fangs into soft flesh where able to, trying to get around such armored foes like Karis to get to easier prey beyond. Detheron called on Frey for aid and a black bear materialized adding its own efforts to driving the spiders back. Gwyn had been knocked down but the feisty dwarf battled back to his feet and when the opportunity finally came, Karis was able to fully ply the efforts and skills of his great sword against the arachnids, cleaving limbs and legs with wild abandon.

As the battle was wrapping up, our struggle had attracted the attention of a few rust monsters from further in the dark – they were staying just at the edge of visible light range and Coruth'tae thought he would scare them off with a bolt from his shadow wand. It struck one and the beetle like creature ran back squealing and whistling long and loud. The other party members were dragging giant spiders OUT of the street, anticipating bringing them to the barracks and hacking them up for the eyes (which were on the alchemist's list). Zoltan thought it was a waste of time.

And then the rust monsters were coming back – this time a 10 count of them and they looked angry. The party dropped most of the spiders except for the 2 gigantic ones and they ran from the street, through the narrow defendable portion, and stopped just at the Great Hall.

Where they were confronted by 24 roving goblins.

Sonova crap.

Some attempt to speak was made and the goblins spoke Ogre (or at least a couple of them did) and there was a limited attempt at parley but when it came time to drop weapons and come with them peacefully to see someone called Sakath Slobbertongue the group did what they do best – open the floor up for stabbity stab stab stabs.

The goblins charged forward in a wave, only Zoltan able to act first (I believe the line uttered at this time when it was discovered that the initiative order was going to be: Zoltan the thief, Every stinking goblin, then the other members of the party was, "Way to go at sucking, gang!") and he did so by swirling his cloak about himself and disappearing for a quick portalling jump.

Greenskins choked the hall and they slammed pick and club into the party. Gwyn took the brunt of it, the dwarf getting pelted and battered by the yowling goblins. Karis stood at his left and Amal surged forward to plug up more of the hall – eventually Smokey lumbering in to add his weight and mass against the crazed goblins. The 4 of them blocked the rest of the party from the goblins rampage, stopping them with locked shields and furious blows.

Coruth'tae pointed to the ceiling and shouted "OH MY GOD!", causing an illusion of the dwarven ceiling to come crashing down – slamming 4 of the goblins to the ground under illusionary rubble. Three of them believed the glamour so much they "died" from their wounds (fell unconscious) while one of them nursed its head like it was stunned. Zoltan appeared in the shadows now well passed where the goblins were and drawing his dagger and short sword, stalked through the shadows to the first two goblins he could see and “H'wacha'ed” ( )them both from behind. (this being an ancient gypsy word the equivalent of being stabbed by 200 exploding arrows – trust me, you have to be there to appreciate it.)

His blade had gone so deep into one of them, that the goblin was stuck on the sword. Thinking fast, he hid behind the goblin and held it up by the sword in its back, causing the creature to flop about like it was still alive as he inched forward. Most of the other greenskins were roaring to get at the party so didn't notice anything amiss by a strangely acting one at the back of the pack – so the gypsy was getting poised for another backstab.

Detheron shot out healing and the fighters cleared away what goblins they could, but the others ran closer without fear, cutting and stabbing. More back stabbing followed and the party was getting some wounds on themselves as well as on the many goblins arranged against them.

Coruth'tae was about to fire off his shadow wand again when he noticed walking BOLDLY and brazenly past him was a one of the damned rust monsters! It had dared to follow the group (along with another one) and was "stalking" after Karis – the half-ogre templar wearing a large quantity of chainmail. Yummy, tasty, delicious metallic chainmail.

He slapped a bolt into the beetle-like creature and the group was warned. Smokey took one of them out after some clawing and biting and Detheron and Coruth'tae beat the second one into submission.

It was a furious fight (the druid getting the business end of a pick in the side of his head) but by the time the goblins were thinking about running, it was already too late and the party ran over the last 4 of them without issue.

There was talk about harvesting ears and eyes and hearts from the goblins as it is on the alchemist's list, but it infuriated Amal. The orcish warrior explained that the list called for goblin OR ORC eyes, ears, and heart. And he was insulted. Would the party carve him up for a handful of silver? What if there was an alchemist list that needed human fingers? Would the party happily sit back and let Amal carve up a fellow human or elf for fingers to get an 8 count of silver nobles?

Some of the group got it, others just agreed to placate the orcish fighter. Zoltan volunteered to go back and check to make sure the barracks was still open and unfilled when he chanced upon an owl bear who was wandering the area, attracted by the many sounds of fighting the group had been making.

He crept closer and closer and then ran – striking the ursine menace with surprise and skill in the back, seriously hurting the beast. He went toe to toe with it for a few passes of sword and dagger against claw and beak but the beast was strong and dangerous and the fight was beginning to turn against the gypsy. Karis had heard the struggle and charged over to help, adding his great sword to the fight and within a couple dozen frantic seconds, the owl bear was down.

We limped our way to the barracks, covered in gore and blood and filth. Our oil lamp is still gurgling a bit so it is not "late" as we anticipated it would be, but the party is feeling spent and there was talk of resting up here. The group plied dagger to the spiders and harvested a few eyes that were still useable, and the owl bear turned up another precious quill feather for Coruth'tae to use.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Meet 45, Adv 6, 10/18/08

What D&D aficionado has not seen the Fellowship of the Rings and admired the dwarven halls? I am no exception to the rule. Dwarves, clerics, half orcs and paladins have always had a special place in my heart and when I get the chance to do them a solid - I make sure that I do.

Wodenvarelse was going to be MUCH different than the vermin fest of the 1st level. That level had a few low impact yet cunning traps, some secret hidey-holes, and a number of typical 1st level verminoid type encounters. The rooms were almost all a simple 30x30 and the place was set up sort of like a cloverleaf - allowing any dwarven defenders who had to ward the area from hostile invaders to be anywhere else in the complex as long as they knew how to get there and often times able to wind up on the enemy's back side.

Wodenvarelse was different. The great hall is unmappable. That's the truth of it. It is too big and there is a regularity of the landmarkings, what few there are, and unless the party brings a thousand candles and a thousand lanterns and a thousand torches - they would not be able to light the Hall. These leaves LOTS of room for baddies of all types to walk in the darkness. And the baddies that live down here can see in the dark. The party can't.

The side halls are no less dangerous even though the dimensions are a BIT smaller. Long abandoned shops with who knows what living in them, back alleys too narrow to fight in, dangerous stairs leading up to dark homes. It's a deadly field for any party not on their game. Or attempting to walk it alone.

And somewhere down here in the dark - there is supposed to be a fortune in unstamped silver and gold coins. And they have 6 days to find it.

Write up follows:

We picked up the game as of the next morning, bright and early (even if a bit cool), Earthmonth the 24th. This was our 3rd day out and we knew we had the entirety of this day and 6 more before we had to turn around and head on our way back to Orihalcus.

After waking up, we broke our fast with some hardtack, biscuits, and what fruit we had that was still doing well while our two priests (Karis and Detheron) went off to pray and Coruth'tae cracked his book to study. Things were going well until Detheron found himself the victim of a few errant bees who made it their business to buzz constantly around his head and interrupt his prayers. After about halfway through his prayers he interrupted himself, moved somewhere else and started again.

The party made what simple repairs they could to their weapons and armor while they waited but about 45 minutes into his prayers, Detheron was once more assaulted by annoying flying bees. They buzzed him continuously, not letting up until he was forced to interrupt himself again and move elsewhere furious. We watched with arched brows but said nothing. So it wasn't until 9:15 before Detheron was done with his prayers and we were able to get our butt in gear. We had a late start but felt ready. A quick look in our supplies and we refilled on torches and oil and then headed off into the dungeon entrance once again.

We discussed where to go to next and decided to go back to where we had left off which was by the statue of Thor and the room with the pillows as we were hoping to find some of the goblins or kobolds down here and get what info we needed and could out of them. We moved on to the barrack's room (with the hidey hole) and noticed that we had to open the door to get in. Odd. Did we close the door behind us? No we didn't. What about the secret door – didn't we leave that open? Yeah – but now it was closed. Karis wandered to the secret door with intentions on opening it when it was pushed open from the other side and half a dozen poisoned javelins were tossed through at him.

Most of them rebounded off his armor but one of them traced a fiery line across his neck. There were 3 kobolds and 3 goblins within, armed with atlatl's and now having thrown their short spears were using the throwing sticks as clubs as they raced out and tried to run Karis down. The half ogre stood his ground and began hewing into the front rank kobolds, taking two of them down while Gwyn ran over with his scimitar out to take on the third.

Amal turned back the way we came as he heard goblins charging down the hallway there with slings whistling overhead. At that point the door that would lead to the Thor room was opened and three more goblins armed with slings hurled what seemed to be vinegar (it wasn't – just smelled like it) soaked fungus balls at the other members of the party. They broke on the floor soaking everyone's feet and leggings while a puddle of the acrid stink seeped across the rock beneath us.

The remaining goblins in the secret chamber then hurled themselves at Karis, biting and scratching and tearing as best they could, shoving and twisting until the half ogre lost his footing and was born down to the ground with a thud; the 3 goblins bashing him as hard as possible. Fodder ran over to help.

Amal hurled himself at the door and managed to slam it closed an instant before the sling hurling goblins let their vinegary soaked fungus hit – the door taking the brunt. Then as the orc warrior was setting himself in, the goblins tried to pry the door open from the other side, forcing Amal to shout for help and keep his back braced against the thundering knocks.

Coruth'tae tried to step out of the puddle but as soon as he left the puddle and the rising vapors, his clothing began to smolder and then caught fire. Quickly he danced back and the flames died down again. Seeing what happened, Zoltan skipped out but cast a Clean cantrip on his clothes and managed to avoid catching flame. Karis, ignoring the hits, pushed himself back to his feet and the goblins spilled from him, one of them being torn by Fodder. Gwyn ran around the secret door and came at one of the greenskins from the back - his scimitar acting more like a cleaver as he hacked into the howling goblin.

Meanwhile the three who had slung the mess at us were loading up more of that fungus. Coruth'tae threw a handful of sand at them and one of the goblins well asleep, the other two were only dazed. Detheron pointed at them and shouted for Smokey to take them down. The bear lumbered forward, his fur eventually smoldering and then catching flame. Maddened, the ursine roared and stormed towards them but an ill rolled fumble caused him to slip, dash his head against the floor, fall into the goblins and all 4 of them rolled down the steps to the base.

Amal was struggling to keep the door closed and had his feet braced while he struggled to get an iron spike free and pound it into the ground. Detheron chanced to run out of the puddle and he too caught fire, the flames causing him some pain as he tried to see if Smokey was still alive (he was, but was unconscious and on fire – 2 of the goblins hitting the bear with crude picks). Between Karis, Gwyn, and Fodder, the last of the goblins from the secret area were taken down.

Detheron ran down the steps near his bear and called out to Frey to Quench the fires – the flames dying completely and the bear rising to his feet and ripping the last two goblins to shreds. Coruth'tae used his entire skin of water to wash enough of the strange vinegar like fluid from his clothes. Detheron did the same to Smokey and Karis helped clean up the druid. Meanwhile the goblins that were beating down the door suddenly stopped and the place was quiet.

We waited and Zoltan looked under the door, seeing nothing down the hall. Eventually Karis opened it and the hall was empty – the goblins gone. What now? Well, the party decided we should proceed carefully, expecting to run into the 3 goblins who escaped as well as any others who might be on this level.

The next chamber was the statue of Thor that we had repaired, and we were pleased to see the statue was still fine but the altar that we had replaced was demolished again. Damn. We moved onward.

The next chamber we arrived at was where we had seen the 5 pillows and the pile of pails. Pillows were missing and there were a few pails gone as well. Hmmm. None of the kobolds or goblins we saw had pails. The door south of here was checked and a quick use of Speak with Animals to Fodder let us know that the smell of "bad meat and strange lizard" was not too far from here. Goblins and kobolds.

Karis led the way and we checked out the hall passed the door. It went south for a dozen paces and then "T"ed to the left and right. The left went down a short flight of stairs to a closed door, the right went almost two dozen paces to another doorway. Zoltan was nominated to go once more and check it out. He approached the door carefully, frowning as he did so. Did he hear something behind it? Ducking low he looked under the chewed out bases of the doors and shone his light inside.

Lots and lots of ankles and feet.

Turning back he started to run to the party when the door opened and kobolds and goblins armed with picks and clubs boiled out, a dozen of each. Most of the party was caught surprised at this but Amal and Gwyn shone through and ran as fast as they could to interpose themselves between Zoltan and the horde. Axes and scimitars swung and the front line fight was joined.

Zoltan sang a song of sleep and fired off a Sleep spell into the midst of the gnashing monsters – and dropped 9 of them! The remaining ones looked about in surprise and their morale broke – but instead of retreating, they instead ran AT the party! Mowing down the dwarf, orc and gypsy, they pushed past the party and ran for the stairs, shouldering open the door at the base in their haste.

Coruth'tae shot off a quick illusion, trying to block the monsters’ headlong rush with the appearance of a soldier: armed and armored like a typical fighter from Cymbarton would be. The illusion worked and the fighter swung his spear in an attempt to stop the goblins and kobolds, but the monstrous humanoids instead flowed around it, dodging as best they could. Karis tried to give chase, managing to chop down two of the slowest stragglers, but the bulk of the bad guys got away.

The 3 members who had been knocked down in the hall went after the sleeping goblins and kobolds, whacking them in the skull and "counting coup". Zoltan gave the chamber a once over, seeing nothing of interest. There was another door that went off in here, further into the complex. A few pails were in here, squirming mice and rats squeaking within. Nice. The goblins were up here harvesting.

Meanwhile Detheron joined Karis in the room the goblins had run through. It was another holy area to Thor, similar to the other one. A double door was on the north wall and through it was a wide corridor and a large 20' wide set of stairs that went down into the darkness. There was also a stylized wolf's head molded into the rock with an arrow pointing that same way. Nice. Another marking from Vanir and Djohrgahd's adventuring group the Phantom Blades. This was the entrance to level 2.

Karis asked Detheron to get the rest of the party and we all joined up, talking about what to do next. It was decided that we should leave the upper level and venture downward to what the books referred to as the Warrens. We readied our gear, checked our lantern, and started walking down.

The stairs were a bit disconcerting as the rise was more in line for dwarven feet than human, and the middle section of the steps was rounded, according to Gwyn and Karis to make the dragging of heavy loads easier up and down the steps. Zoltan took point, walking a good 25' ahead of the group. A short distance down he encountered a lever sticking 3' out of the right wall. It was in the "upright" position.

The group looked about, up, down, left, right, everywhere to see if there was something the lever might move. There was a thin patina of rust indicating it hadn't been used recently. Much conversation followed and Zoltan was VERY interested in pulling the lever. It took some convincing on the party's part to keep him from doing it and with a heavy heart and sad eyes, he agreed to not touch the lever.

However, another 80 odd feet down the stairs we encountered a SECOND lever. Dun dun DUNNN. Did we enter a strange looping teleport where keep seeing the same lever? No, it was a different one. Zoltan was itching now to pull it and talk about rolling boulders and the stairs turning into a slide or even just smashing stones pounding up and down like a hammer were tossed out as reasons not to pull it. Detheron decided that we enact an official Lever Pulling Policy. And that was simply: no pulling levers. This coming from the guy who collects magical coat stands and stabs pictures of ghostly cats. Chuckle.

We set onward, this time going another 150' down the stairs and we saw a third lever! This one was on the left wall, but it was the same as the others had been mentioned. Zoltan was admonished as soon as it came into the light and we moved on. After this it was walking . Lots of walking .The stairs went deeper and deeper. We traveled just under a quarter of a mile and according to the dwarf we were over 800' below the surface of the earth. The sound of our footsteps were echoing strangely ahead and we were warned that there was a large opening very soon.

And there was.

The steps emerge from the stone abruptly, stretching downward to the distant floor of a cavernous chamber the likes of which you have not only never seen, but never knew could possibly exist. Patches of dim green fungus grows in fits and starts on the ceiling, floor, walls, and columns of the awe inspiring dwarven hall. The dimensions of the place are beyond the light of your torches and lanterns. Terrific columns of hand carved stone fifteen feet in diameter run from the distant floor to the mighty vaulted roof, the fluted surface further enhanced and decorated with wide runes and pictograms not only near the base, but up the length of the sides as well.

There is a forgotten majesty to this place; the width of the hall unseeable, the length of it unimaginable. The stairs continue down to the floor uninhibited, the numerous echoes of your own footsteps as well as the strange sounds of the dwarven hall rebounding off the distant walls to announce your presence.

The perennial majesty and grandeur of the empty stone causeway takes your breath away; makes you ponder not only what has come before you, but your own mortality. For over a century and a half, this testament to the industry and engineering skill of the long departed dwarven people had been without their footfall, their presence, their life. But you can feel them, feel the lasting impression they left behind. For centuries upon centuries they must have worked the stone this far under the surface of the earth. Their hammers and chisels and tools plied at the rock in a way that only they knew, they felt, that there was something like this magnificent edifice to be uncovered with their work.

They carved this wonderful home out from the living rock and for a time, they were at one and peace with the earth that they loved so much.

The columns stretch up into the blackness above, spaced a long spear cast apart from one another. Smaller corridors like roadways seem to be situated on the left and right of this magnificent hall, but even the brightest light you have held aloft fails to penetrate that far into the gloom to verify this fact.

The floor, the worn stone of the floor that held the trod of thousands…hundreds of thousands…tens of millions of walking feet over the millennia, is surprisingly dust free. In fact, there are signs here and there that even your untrained eyes can see that there has been traffic down here. Discarded foods not fully rotted, bits of cloth and scraps of metal and stone. Something is down here in these dark tunnels. Something has made this place its home.

One of the things the party noted was that they were the ONLY white/yellow light source visible in the entire area. It set them on edge and we made sure that we bunched up. Zoltan took point and we set off from the stairs in between one set of columns and then another – this one having an arch of stone 40' above the ground and 60' across with the dwarven runes spelling out: Wodenvarelse. Gwyn and Coruth'tae deciphered it to mean roughly: Chamber of Odin. The name of the dwarven city.

At this point, Zoltan was uncomfortable and wanted us to find a wall – something to better judge the size of the place. He made a left turn and we walked along until the wall of the chamber showed itself. From here, we backtracked slowly in the direction of the stairs until the curving wall met the base rock of the sheer wall making up the stair bed. Excellent.

It took some time but we walked across the same placing on the other side and did our best guess. The width of the hall was about 200' wide and the columns were 60 or more feet across from one another. If anyone was to walk more than 20 paces from the group they could conceivably be hopelessly lost without the light to guide them back.

We noted a deepening to the blackness on the right, a sign of one of the side roads. We followed Zoltan in that direction but he saw that to the left of the opening, just in the darkness, was a decorated double doorway. We conferred quickly and went for the portal instead. It was 15' tall, arched, and had a singular strange reversed bas-relief of a dwarven "D" rune (looked like two triangles point to point). Karis went through the books swiftly and found it was mentioned – something about a Runekey. And while he was looking, he also found a passage that spoke where the "levers" on the stairs would drop portcullises from the ceiling to stop invaders. Zoltan felt cheated since he could have pulled them.

Coruth'tae went to the door and fired off a knock spell which hit the rune marking, flared, and shot back at the mage's head with enough force to knock him on his ass and burn a small "D" rune into his forehead. Ok, got it – don't open the door with magic.

Detheron went to the side of the doorway and checked it out carefully. He laid his hand against it and called on Frey to soften the stone. The quality of the ancient dwarven rock in a 10' square was weakened to that of a thick and tightly packed clay. Amal, Gwyn, and Karis used shovels and picks to hack through the wall while the party kept watch (and the wandering monster dice kept rolling in the party's favor). We breached the wall and then entered.

It was huge room, 60' across and 40' deep, set up like a large "T". Some sort of barracks for up to 25 dwarves. Empty racks for weapons and armor, a door on the other side of the chamber (also with the "D" rune). There was an 8' tall, 3' cylinder of black knobby iron with what seemed to be a fan of curved copper fins making a dome along the top. And finally the wall facing the great dwarven hall was actually transparent on this side – allowing anyone in the room to look out there.

The party spent time looking around. The dwarves took whatever was in here long ago. The runelocked doors didn't open from this side. And the metal cylinder. What was it? There was hole on the side of it, 4" x 4", 6" deep – with a depressed cup like space at the back. Something would go there. But what? It seemed solid and it took every person in the party to even make it rock slightly. Karis hoisted the mage up and he looked over the copper fins. They were thin and sharp, and there were 60 or so of them all curving back on each other and coiled within the dome like extension on the top.

While checking it out, the elf remembered that the hall had some detritus in it – and some of it was small metal pieces; maybe some of it was the same material as the cylinder? He went just outside the doorway and was picking around the floor, looking for anything.

It was at that point that the party inside the room, looking through the one-way wall, saw a 650 lb shaggy and feathered 9' owlbear stalking closer and closer to the unsuspecting Coruth'tae. Swords were drawn and the party ran out, attracting the owlbear's attention and closing for battle. Crossbows hummed and the mage made an illusion of himself swelling up to look like Karis – confusing the ursine monster.

The real Karis though had been hit earlier in the day by the goblins and one of the hits had been an administered dose of poison – that flared into his system now that he was fighting and filled with adrenaline. He clove into the owlbear hard and then he grew weak and fell over unconscious.

The monster was taken down afterwards with Amal making the lion's share of the killing strokes. And then as it died, Zoltan cloak portalled in (a moment too late) and sighing, gave the dead owlbear a quick stab with his knife just to get it dirty. Chuckle.

Karis was dragged back into the room (with Amal cursing at how useless the half-ogre's been) and Detheron used some antitoxin to coax the knight back to wakefulness. He was still weak and we had to wait some time for his strength to come back. Meanwhile Coruth'tae took his time going over the owlbear's pelt and selected two of the largest and undamaged feathers from the ruff of its neck to use as quills for spell scribing. Good thinking mage!

We decided there was little more to be learned in the dwarven barracks and couldn't get the cylinder thing to activate. So at this point we went back to the great hall and took it to the side hall we had seen earlier, entering it with care. The ceiling dropped to about 25' in height and there were ancient and long unused and rusted bars and barriers that the former dwarves could have used to seal off these areas. At this time though they were too far gone and unusable.

Passed here the chamber widened to 60' and rose to a vaulted roof about the same. Crystalline structures covered the ceiling , reflecting their lantern as well as the purple phosphorous fungus in little tiny flashes of light. The right side seemed to be clear but the left had what could only be described as homes or shops carved into the rock itself. Doors and windows dotted the walls, and narrow 2' stairs went up to wide doors overhead where living areas and residences most likely were. Alleyways were situated between the shops – the narrow confines 3' wide and 12' tall. It looked dark and dangerous. Karis was particularly wary of them.

We looked into the 1st place and found old counters and hundreds of rat skeletons and rusted rotted small cages. Zoltan was taking his time checking it out when Karis for some strange reason decided to move on to the 2nd shop – it appeared to be a dwarven Candlemakers – without waiting for the rest of the party. He was yelled at to come back and that we should not be splitting up.

We were uncomfortable because we had no idea what was down here and from the little we had seen we suspected it would take us weeks to map out the place – and we only had 6 days. The lantern is starting to gurgle, making us feel we've been underground for a good 5 hours. Spells are still good, but the party feels unprepared and nervous.