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.

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.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Meet 44, Adv 6, 10/11/08

There was more underground adventuring to be had. Many rooms and corridors were explored and the low level baddies were taken care of without thought. But this was the 1st full day of adventuring the party had done from dawn till this point and there was a noticeable dent in their overall spell ability.

And patience.

Any good role playing group will have the invariable personality conflict. Some of them are born of in game mechanics (dwarf/elf, paladin/thief, dumb fighter/weak mage) and others are born of "role" playing.

I like the latter versions better. Its invariably going to happen. I can't get a week at work without at least one of the 192 people who work there getting under my skin at some point. And all I do is see them for 8 hours a day (or much less!).

Imagine dealing with your co-workers after humping 1/3rd your body weight across your back, clad in ill fitting and roughly made clothing that may or may not have boiled leather plates and greaves strapped over them. Then add in that you are wandering underground with feeble light sources and the last thing you saw burst from the darkness and tried to eat your size 11 adventuring boots.

I would go on a limb and give most people a grand total of 50 minutes before someone rubs someone else the wrong way and spittle and handwaving ensues. I love this game. :)

Write up follows:

We picked up somewhere after lunchtime (although we hadn't stopped to eat) on what should be Earthmonth the 23rd, the 2nd day we've been in Dargan's Folly. We were getting hungry and the party wanted to make sure the centipede threat from the next chamber was fully taken care of. After having Detheron extinguish his Flaming Sphere, the rest of the party worked their way across the pottery/explosive rune chamber while Karis used his great strength to pull two of the closest doors off their hinges and span the still opened, and now greased top, pit trap.

While the group picked their way across carefully, Zoltan checked out the chamber. A layer of old webbing smoldered across the ceiling and hundreds of ashen bug carcasses littered the floor, only 3 or 4 dozen centipedes survived the inferno. There was a spinning wheel on the other side of the room. And a doorway to the right to leave.

Well, they weren't going to eat lunch in a room that stunk of dead cooked bugs so the group checked the place out as fast as possible. The cursory search for secret doors and whatnot followed, finding little if anything. Zoltan declared the door to the right safe and Karis went out it, tapping his way down the hall with his 10' pole in hand.

However there was some wondering on the spinning wheel. It was old but it still spun freely. Eventually it was moved and the area it sat on was tapped with weapon hilt until a hollow was discovered. Nice. The half-ogre was called back and using his dagger, he dug out the mortar and eventually pried the flag stone free. There was a hollow, some 2' deep. A wrapped bundle was down there. With Amal's crowbar in hand, Karis pulled out the strange bundle and stood up. It was fairly sizeable and was wrapped in old red linen with a frayed hemp twine wrapping.

A knife blade flashed and the bundle was opened to reveal a head. It was smaller than a man's and looked for all intents and purposes like either an oversized beetle or ant. It was shooken and inside the hollow chitin we heard something rattling around. Upending it and shaking it, a crude copper banded signet ring fell from the neck hole. It showed a stylized fist with a spike coming from the pinky and forefinger knuckle. The group conferred on it but no one could ever remember ever hearing of this symbol before.

The insect's head was placed on top of the 10' pole and Karis put the strange ring in his pouch. We went back to the hall on the right and it was checked over carefully. A side hall would lead the party back towards the trapped door with the slot over head, but we decided to press on to unknown places instead. The next chamber was a smithy or workshop. Most of the original base material in here was dwarven made, but there had been some attempts at expansion and that was all human handed.

Guessing that Dargan's people built on top of the original dwarven artisans works we checked out coal bins, cold long dead forges, old work tables and even the anvil. A 250 lb workman's anvil, it was rusted and obviously in disrepair, but was still stout and well made dwarven craftsmanship. The symbols to Moradin, dwarven lord of blacksmiths, were stamped on the anvil's feet. Finding nothing in here so far, they had Karis lift the anvil free of its seat and set on the ground. Still nothing.

We ate and talked and Detheron changed our fading torch for a lantern just before we were ready to move on. Leaving the smithy we followed corridors onward until we came to another chamber. It was dominated by a 7' stone statue of a bearded man with a spear, eye patch, and a pair of ravens on his shoulders. He was positioned in such a way that his gaze was looking down at an altar; candle holders, offering bowl, a brazier, and rotted prayer cloths still there.

We checked the chamber cautiously, the group being deferential to the statue of Odin. Karis found a small library with a 4 count of books on it. When he opened one of them however there was nothing there but old soggy pulped pages. And then he noticed a pinch pain in the side of his hand. He looked. And it was rot grub time again.

Damn it. He pulled off his glove and using his dagger, tried to cut ahead of the grub that was burrowing under his flesh. The maggot avoided it and kept going. So he twisted his hand and pressed his wrist against the hot glass of the lantern – scalding himself and killing the grub. The rest of the books were avoided. Amal plunked a handful of coppers in the offering bowl and some of the other party members decided to do the same.

A secret door was found and inside was another old and long emptied dwarven bolt hole. Calling this place done we went to leave but both Coruth'tae and Zoltan were standing by the statue (and altar) not wanting to be the 1st to leave. Some accusations were given about not stealing from the gods. Zoltan left in disgust but as he walked out he heard the grey elf drop a sizeable handful of coins INTO the offering bowl.

But amidst the altercation between the two, Detheron had decided to come back in like a raving lunatic; accosting Coruth'tae about what is best, and trust, and if it's to do with the gods, then it's HIS job to make decisions. Harsh words were bandied about by both people and even Karis had to come back and raise his voice but Zoltan came to Coruth'tae's defense and said that the druid was being unfair and unkind and if the grey elf wanted to honor the gods on his own, then let him do it.

Tempers a bit flared we moved on until our corridor eventually led back to the entrance hall. Hooray! What now? It was still early (our guess 2-3 o clock) and we looked at the map Coruth'tae had been making. We could go BACK to the one place in the centipede area we had not gone to…or we could go towards the map room and check that area out. Discussion followed and we opted to go and finish up the centipedes.

With map in hand we went much faster back to the last corridor where with our Flaming Sphere at the ready and battle tactics solid, we opened the door and set the last insect hive ablaze. It burned a few minutes until the final multi-legged horrors was done in. Extinguishing it, we looked about the chamber. Obviously burned now, there were 3 cages in here. Looking like rounded topped parrot cages and made of wide iron mesh webbing, they each had a door that took up 2/3rd of the front facing. We pondered them for a while but had no idea what they were for. The room was declared clear and we went back to the main entrance hall again.

We decided to go back to the "map" room area and press on from there. The corridor was long and we followed it cautiously. There was a side corridor to the right that went down a short flight of stairs or the group could go on. However it was while going on that the party noticed a change. The floor was covered with a thicker layer of vermin droppings than in other places they had traveled and the stink of rats was much stronger. Plus even a cursory listening revealed the squeal and squeak of many many of them beyond the portal at the end of this corridor.

The party was getting a bit low on spells and the thought of tackling a nest as large as what it seemed down here without the benefit of Flaming Sphere (or even Zoltan's Sleep) was considered folly. So we backed away and went to the stairs going down where the corridor split in twain and went off into the darkness. Now it was Zoltan who was uncomfortable, saying that leaving a nest as large as it sounds like at our backs while we go down here might mean we could get cut off. The decision was made to go to this area tomorrow and to instead go through the two secret doors near the map room and to the area over there.

While most of the group went in that way, Gwyn was getting peevish. He wanted to keep exploring this area and figured he would just go look a little further ahead on his own. Detheron waited for the dwarf (with Smokey and Fodder) at the top of the stairs while the others followed Karis to the Map Room and worked the doors opened.

Muscling open the next door, Gwyn found another smithy chamber, however this one had not been touched by Dargan's people and was still the same way the dwarves had left it a century and a half earlier. It seemed to be colder in here for some unknown reason. He looked around, peering into the coal bed where he saw not only long abandoned coal, but also what seemed to be a petrified log about as thick around as his bicep.

For reasons only known to firebugs everywhere, the dwarf then lit a torch and tossed it in the coal bin at the log. The "log" hissed and swelled in size, part of it splitting and pushing out of the bin, wrapping around the torch and extinguishing it, crawling across the floor and thickening, and (you guessed it), crawling around the dwarf himself. And where it touched him, it was cold and chilly and sucked his warmth from him in rapid frost making gulps.

For his own benefit, he did not scream so Detheron some 100' feet away didn't know anything was amiss. The dwarf ripped the brown mold from his chest with his bare hands, tearing it apart but also turning his skin blue as it branched out even further in an exponential effort to find more warmth. By now Karis was getting pissed that the party had split up and leaving Zoltan and Coruth'tae at the secret door area, he took Amal the orc back with him to see what the hold up was.

Gwyn was freezing and hit points were fading quickly. His axe came free and he hacked at the mold, cutting it apart as he stumbled out of the midst of it, the hissing long growths crawling down the hall after him. Detheron and Karis eventually came to see the frost rimed dwarf staggering towards them and a crawling slowly growing mold like mass behind him. They left, taking him back to the steps where he was healed up and admonished not to go off on his own again.

Meanwhile the gypsy and the grey elf were having some words about trust and privacy and it seemed that the two of them would need an opportunity to talk outside the dungeon and come to terms with one another. The party was once again a single unit and from here they trekked off again, Detheron and Karis advising the party that healing spells were becoming sparse again and we should be careful.

The corridor "T"ed here and the group went south where Zoltan checked out a doorway with care. Declaring it safe, we went in. It was an old dwarven barracks, originally set up for 10 of them. Stone platforms for pallets, stone sided foot lockers, shelves, hooks, even some stands were in here. We checked it out carefully, opening what we could and moving and prodding things where able. Although the barracks was disappointingly empty, we did stumble across a secret bolt hole along the north wall.

This one was also filled with heirloom quality dwarven weaponry and armor in quantities of 3 and 4 and festooned with symbology to Thor and Odin. Another 2 bags of caltrops were here, a 2nd climbing harness with 100' of rope ladder, and Zoltan discovered two vials of magical oil labeled "Brittlerock". While the rest of the group bucket brigaded the armor and weapons back to the entrance hall, the gypsy thief tested out a drop of it on the stone cover of one of the boxes. It turned the stone a porous looking grey that he was able to shatter easily with his hammer. Nice.

From here we went out the door to the right and traveled down another small flight of stairs where it came to what seemed to be another chapel similar to the one of Odin we had been at earlier. However, this one showed Thor, the Nordic deity was knocked a bit off his pedestal and part of the base had been beaten and damaged, causing the god of thunder to lean drunkenly against the wall. The statue's face was defiled by soot and smudges and the altar had been stripped bare and also treated poorly. Small black hand prints covered many of the places in here. Talk of either goblins or kobolds abounded.

The party wanted to fix it up. They went back to the barracks and got all the stone tops to the boxes and brought them in here. Meanwhile, Gwyn had cleared the base as best as possible of rubble and seated his 7' iron pole under the statue itself. Then between all the stronger members of the party, they lifted the statue of Thor until it was level again and Detheron shoved the tops underneath until it was propped up once more. The face was cleaned with a dousing of water and the tail end of someone's cloak and the altar was reset at Thor's feet. Amal was persuaded to pour a bit of his beer on the altar for Thor and then we pressed on (but not until Zoltan picked the orc's pocket and took his skin of beer and left the entire thing there as an offering).

From here was some more corridors until we came to our first place that looked lived in. The webbing had been cleared away and some pillows made of course hair like fibers and stuffed with scraps of fur and soft fungus were piled in here. A few pails of crudely beaten iron were tossed in a pile near another door out here, this one leading south.

We were a bit nervous. Detheron used his staff to fumble with the pillows, eventually daring to lift one up and upend it. They were simple as described. The pails were empty. A use of Lavender's ring was applied and the druid asked Fodder to use his senses to tell him what he smelled. A litany of things as expected was in here but the last two: dirty meat and something lizard caused the party to mull it over. Through some questions and answers, the something lizard was very similar to the kobold women we had saved and were living with us back in Orihalcus only dirtier.

Again – kobolds and goblins.

Were they close? Far? Near? Coming back? Would they notice we had been in here? The pillows were restuffed and Karis used a Know Time spell to find out it was 4:03 on Earthmonth the 23rd, 174 of the 30th age. The group was stunned – you mean you could have done that at any time?!?!? Chuckle.

We opted to leave now and count ourselves lucky. Back to the entrance hall we went and the party worked on getting the many items we had stacked there out one at a time. The grey elf started to cook and Detheron applied his healing kit to everyone that needed it. We chatted with Goloriana a bit and eventually the party bedded down for the night.

We ended it here. Yes we could have pressed on but the party felt that the dangerously low levels we had remaining of good healing and the serious lack of decent magic at our fingertips that had been making this area of the dungeon "easy" so far was reason enough to turn back and get a good night's rest.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Meet 43, Adv 6, 9/27/08

The party had gone back into the Folley on what would be their 2nd day of exploring. This was still more clearing of the "vermin" level and learning some of the architecture of the place.

Everyone does dungeons differently. Some people love them, others hate them. Some try to make an ecological progression with every possible niche filled and others like to old school with poisonous traps, owlbears, otyughs, and dragons all living next to each other behind closed doors.

I take a middle road. The upper levels are the "food" sources and more natural of the levels, but as the dungeon goes deeper, it get more dangerous and in some places less logical. And let's be honest, nothing gets the blood flowing and the d20's clattering than when the party opens an iron bound doorway to see a six-count of burned mastiff looking creatures with fire dripping from their dewlaps and two duergar clad in black scale mail and sporting crossbows.

One of the things that did happen here though was I had somewhere gotten the word "scorpion" in my head about halfway through the meeting - and everywhere I was trying to describe centipedes - I mistakenly said scorpion. It got so bad that even the party was doing the same and by the end of the night, we called them scorpapedes and split the difference.

Write up follows:

Continuing where we last left off, it was Earthmonth the 22nd, sometime between 5 and 6 PM and we had just helped Karis out of an ancient dwarven pit trap. There was much talk about finding our way out of the Stronghold level (1st level) and back to the entrance hall – and eventually to the surface for some food, study, and sleep.

We followed the corridor towards the kitchen (as shown on our map and Zoltan's quick scouting) where we gave the place a once over. Collapsed ruined oven, many signs of rats, a few of the smaller vermin fleeing at our prods and pokes about the spoiled kitchen. We found some coinage (smooth faced) buried in the oven, in the ruins of an old pouch, but little else. Weary now and wanting a chance to rest up and heal properly, we left the kitchen southward and returned to the entrance hall. From there it was a jaunt up the stairs and we were finally out and free; once again on the surface.

Goloriana told us we would have a safe and well rested evening should we want to sleep and not post watch. We quickly cataloged the small treasures we had found and then went over the list of things we had learned at this time. There was some talking about spells at our disposal and eventually the group finished their dinner and went to sleep.

We awoke early the next day on the 23rd, broke our fast, prayed, and about 8 AM we went back down the steps to Dargan's Folly. While reviewing where we had been and gone in the entrance hall and noticed that we had finished up 2 of the 6 doors. Hoping to minimize the winding area of the Stronghold and to stay only with what we have seen, we went to the doorway that Detheron had opened on his own yesterday and we began exploring.

It was slow going until we arrived at our first door. A stout shoulder to the planking and we were looking in on what was once an audience chamber of some sort. A warped and old desk, some benches, and a singular simplistic 4 layer map in faded colors painted on one wall were all that was in here. The group looked around, Coruth'tae going through the trouble to copy the map AND decipher the ancient dwarven runes (using the "key" Gwyn and Zoltan had put together almost 3 months earlier).

Karis and Detheron (and Zoltan) checked out the desk which was dominated by 3 large front drawers. Karis used his sturdy dagger to pry the drawers open, the first two revealing dust and filth. The 3rd one though had a nasty surprise of small grub like worms that were disturbed from the jostling and landed on the druid and the half ogre. And began to immediately burrow through leather, cloth, and flesh. The rest of the group gave ground and Karis and Detheron ran into the hall and started to strip off their armor while the grubs crawled into the flesh and started burrowing deeper.

Zoltan snagged a torch and started to burn the druid where the worms could be seen under his skin, hurting the priest but also killing the grubs. Gwyn mimicked Zoltan and once Karis had removed his chainmail was doing the same to him. The threat over (and the two of them lightly wounded) we redonned our gear and joined the group back in the map room. According to Coruth'tae’s reading of the map and the deciphered runes, there were four layers: Stronghold, Wodenvarelse (Warren), Byfortvile (Undercity), and Catacombs (Underdark). Alright. Got it.

A thorough search of the room uncovered a section of the back corner of this room that looked like the wall could be opened. However no pressure plate was found and no amount of pushing opened the way. It was when Gwyn withdrew his pick ax that the grey elf offered his services and magicked open the locked secret door with a “knock” spell. We heard a bar slide free and this time the door opened and pivoted. Ok. We were in.

It was a 10x10 room with ANOTHER locked bar on the other side. Looking through it showed another hallway (which we noted linked BACK to the main entrance hall!). That was it? Seemed odd. Zoltan and Gwyn looked around the small room for a bit and found a section of the floor (5x6) that would swing down like a covered pit. Couldn't get it open though. Having a bright idea, they shut BOTH secret doors and replaced the 7' metal bars on each – which released the pins holding the pit trapped closed! Good job!

They went down a very dusty (lets call it a century plus of undisturbed dust) rough hall maybe 4' wide and 6-7' tall. It ran straight into the dark. They walked on about 20-30 paces where they saw two dead dwarves on the ground. Clad in chain, sporting shields, helms, and hammers. Go closer? Go away? Gwyn was torn – the dwarven fighter inching closer and closer – but Zoltan decided it for him by turning around and just walking back. Gwyn followed and the two of them laughed nervously about it.

They rejoined the group and talked about what they've seen and the party wanted to check it out. A number of spikes were applied to keep the door open AND the pit opened (and Gwyn took the 25#, 7' metal bar for himself – chuckle) and we followed Karis down – the half ogre taking up MOST of the hall with his own bulk. In fact, the tunnels were not made for someone his size and Karis was having to pick his way carefully and crouch along.

They went on to the bodies and Karis was going to loot them when one of the dwarves (note – skeletal dead dwarf) grabbed his wrist TIGHT and held on, bashing him across the helmed head with his hammer. Great. The other dwarf rose to his feet too. And then from down the hall another dwarf got up and began walking. Karis was yelling for the party to back up and help him. Gwyn threw a vial of holy water against the skeleton and the blessed water melted most of the ribs off. It still hung on and Karis, taking more scratches and blows, used one of his own vials also and was able to finally disengage himself.

The other two came on and the half ogre presented his symbol to Tyr bravely and shouted out that the undead should turn back! And a beam of bluish white came out but the skeletons were unfazed. That was it – the group retreated up the stairs and waited with weapons ready – but the skeletal dwarves stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Ooooookkkkkkkk. Now what?

Group WANTED to go down the hidden corridor so Zoltan went to the front and using his sling hurled stone after stone after stone down at the waiting skeletons who stood there and let the thief knock pieces off of them until they fell over. The way clear, Zoltan went on and the group looted the dead dwarven defenders – with Detheron and Coruth'tae wanting to collect some of the bones in a bag and pound them to dust (it's on the alchemist "needs" list).

The gypsy thief had made it to the other end of the long corridor where there was a set of stairs that went UP. A locked bar blocked the trap door into the next room and he pulled it free and looked above. It was a long abandoned barracks of some sort. He was poking around a few minutes while the group trundled finally after him and emerged from the secret tunnel. There were three ways out of here. We opted to go north (after Coruth'tae verified that one of them lead BACK to the entrance hall) from here and eventually came next (after some corridors) to what was once a kennel.

There were 5 very corroded and rusted cages here and 5 skeletal canines with lengths of long ago useless chain mixed in. Our guess was the dogs that were once here died from abandonment some 50 years ago. There was a corridor north and we pressed on.

The group did notice a marked difference in this area. There were still rats scurrying about, but they were few and far between – the majority of what we had been seeing was centipedes. Small ones as long as a finger and many more of them milling about in and out of the torch light.

We followed the halls till it ended at a ‘T’ with a door at the junction. Zoltan did his duty and discovered that there was only a small hollow under the door like a closet and upon serious searching, a 15' cleverly hidden slot in the ceiling above that crossed in front of the door. Trapped. Leave it alone.

We went left at the ‘T’ and came to a chamber. There were some 2 dozen rat skeletons on the floor in here scattered about and long dead, their flesh stripped away and some webbing covering the bones. What happened here? Party followed Zoltan's lead and worked their way through here cautiously but nothing came out and "got" us. Beyond there was another chamber that reeked of dampness. The ceiling was cracked heavily and according to the dwarf and the half-ogre, was in danger of coming down should the party screw around.

We rested up a bit and took stock of our map, talking about what we've seen and the slow pacing so far. There were two ways out of here, the left way leading back to the "barracks" we came in the hidden through, the right – somewhere else. Detheron called to Frey to help him locate any animals nearby – specifically centipedes – and beyond the "right" door some way beyond, he got a number of hits. In the hundreds.

We carefully opened the door and the corridor went straight ahead OR turned to the right and a short set of stairs went down. Straining our ears, from that direction we heard something – like a bag full of pebbles slowly grinding against itself. Karis went on and we followed (some of us), a bad feeling starting to creep up through the party.

Beyond the base of the stairs the corridor turned to the left and from there we deduced the centipedes were. It was some sort of ancient training room and it was dominated in the back HALF of the chamber with a sprawling mound of garbage and earth that had LOTS of centipedes running in and out of. There was a rat (one of the giant 15# ones) dead about 5' from the pile that had numerous grubs and insects crawling on it. There was ALSO a door out of the room on the wall opposite the mound of potentially hundreds of centipedes.

It was here that party unity had its once every three meetings breakdowns. For almost 15 minutes there was discussion back and forth of going on. Killing the centipedes. Going back. Leaving them alone. Setting it on fire. Oil. Flaming Spheres. And every other possible permutation of them. It was SORT of decided to leave it alone AND leave the room, instead have Karis come back and lets look at the other corridor that ran the other direction.

As the half ogre was coming back, he did chance upon noticing that there was a section of the wall that had a pressure plate before it and was probably a secret room. Feeling peevish after bickering with the group he stopped and started to fumble the portal open. As the group turned back to wait for him and berate him for his actions, they noticed centipedes – LOTS of centipedes coming towards him. Sonova crap.

Momentarily happy at finding a long missed dwarven armory Karis did manage to turn around in time and erect a HASTY barrier to repel vermin. It slammed into place just in time to stop the common centipedes, but the larger and giant sized ones (some 20 plus count of them) crawled right through and washed over the half ogre biting him all over.

Flasks of oil were hurled AT the wall past Karis and at an angle into the mass of centipedes. Karis dropped his torch into the oil and sent most of the swarm ablaze while Gwyn raced down the steps and plied scimitar against the many vermin – cutting Karis as well as the bugs. A 5 count moved onto the dwarf and he too was struggling to sweep them free.

Coruth'tae watched dispassionately and said simply to Detheron "Burn him." What? Drop a Flaming Sphere RIGHT on the ogre. He'll live. The bugs will die. Covered in bites and unable to get enough of the centipedes off of him, Karis yelled "Do it! Burn me!" And Detheron's benediction to Frey followed along with the appearance of a 6' flaming ball right on the half-ogre.

He was fire scarred and the centipedes were toasted. His backpack caught fire and he tried to take it off in time and throw it free but some of the gear inside was damaged or burned (including some clerical scrolls and a few potions). Meanwhile Amal and Smokey beat enough of the centipedes off of Gwyn and in a few minutes the battle was over and the flaming sphere was moved into the training room to scour it clean. Karis was healed (somewhat) and he rigged up a rucksack out of bags and rope, transferring most of his gear about. We were going through torches we felt a bit fast and Detheron started using "light" spells instead on the end of the expired torches. Gwyn was impressed until he was told the light was steady and would not set things soaked in oil on fire which made the dwarf's expression sour instantly and him to mutter, "Well, then that spell sucks then." Truer words never spoken by the fire-bug dwarf.

Many of the items in the hidden area were some 2 centuries old and dwarven made – but still in fair condition. Adorned with symbology to Thor and Odin, we found axes, hammers, spears, breastplates, and shields. There were also a couple of 5# bags of caltrops and a climbing ladder with a pair of grappling hooks affixed at one end and rolled up (most likely 70' or more in length – we didn't roll it out). There was talk of leaving the gear HERE in the hidey hole- or bringing it to the entrance room and leaving it there for us to take back up top eventually. Group was split but Karis' voice held sway and we left the gear in the entrance hall.

After that we went back to the corridor we didn't take it. Chuckle.

It meandered a bit and went down a set of stairs to…another door. However this was unlike anything we've seen normally. Thick, banded in rusted iron, and locked. Zoltan took out his thieves tools and in a few minutes broke the lock free and we were able to enter. A ten count of cages on both sides of the room – within the broken bars and confines were dwarven skeletons long dead.

Did our boys disturb them? Damn straight they did! And the dwarves got up, all 10 of them, and began shuffling after the party who retreated fast back to and up the stairs. 10 skeletons is a bit different than 3 – and they didn't stop at the door this time. Karis called on Tyr again and this time the god of justice heard him and a beam of holy light drove 5 of the lead skelly's back into the cell room. Leaving 5. Amal and Gwyn took point and started whacking them with cudgel and war hammer. Then Karis moved in and they took out the last of the standing 5.

Wanting to check out the room – Karis went first, his presented symbol pushing the skeletons to the back wall and holding them there. The group swiftly looked over the trash in here and found nothing. We backed out and the door was closed and we left it at that.

We looked over the map and wanted to go towards the training room and the portal beyond it. Good choice! It took a few minutes to get there and once we did, walked onward carefully and looked about. More centipedes abounded but nothing right at us. There was a cross corridor to the right and another set of stairs going down or we could have continued straight eventually leading to what Detheron felt was another centipede nest (It was here that the poor DM was mistakenly and continuously referring to the insects we were encountering as scorpions – which had the group confused many a time and then making the same mistake themselves – and eventually we morphed the creatures into a dreaded scorp-apede: which I am sure appeared in some version of the Field Folio as some point).

Following Zoltan down the steps we looked upon a room with more webbing on the ceiling, dust on the floor – and the majority of the room covered in flattened piles of pottery with some sort of dwarven-like runes on them. Our bardic-thief opted to avoid the pottery and picked his way along the edge of the room until he arrived at the opposite and doorway over there. On looking in it was a 30' long corridor with a door at the other end. I believe the expression uttered at this point was, "Damn it. You know this corridor is trapped."

Karis followed the thief, picking the same way across the pottery field at the edge of the room, and the two of them walked ahead slowly carefully looking about. About halfway down, Zoltan's keen eye picked up a break in the floor from one wall to the other. What was it? Couldn't tell for sure. Karis and the trusty 10' pole came to the front and tapped along and pressed hard and he sprung a pit trap, 10' wide, 5' long, and 30' deep. Niiiiice. Zoltan broke out hammer and spike and spiked the wall so that when/if the pit closed, it wouldn't close all the way.

Once done, he leapt over the 5' gap, went to the other door, and got down on hands and knees. Shining his amulet under the chewed holes he looked into a large chamber swarming with centipedes. And they noticed the big beam of light coming from under the door. And they began swarming in his direction. Whoo hoo! The gypsy ran back, jumped over the pit, and took out some of the grease he had, slathering it on the surface of the pit cover (which was now canted at 50 degree angle and stuck open from the spike). The centipedes were massing up and some of the larger ones were menacing from the other side. Karis suggested Detheron come up and Flaming Sphere them all. The druid agreed and said "Be right there" and ran into the pottery field room with smiles and a bounce to his step.

And that's when he set off the first explosive runes that he stomped on. It burst underneath him and sent the druid flying forward. Where he landed on more pottery. Also explosive runes. And he was tossed upward again. And then a third time with more concussive blasts.

When he finally stopped the party was laughing hard, Zoltan was whistling the tune of the 1812 Overture, and Detheron had blown his cold weather boots into tatters and right off his feet as well as earning 17 total points of damage. Smoking, burned, aching, hurt, and wounded, he fixed the worst of his damage and then took out his frustrations on the scorp-apedes with a Flaming Sphere before taking out his moccasins (the only footwear he has left) and putting them on.

We ended it here with Amal, Coruth'tae, and Gwyn tossing whatever small bits of junk they had in their packs into the room and trying to upset the pottery shards and making them explode. We don't know the time but we are getting pretty hungry for lunch and want to look over the maps Coruth'tae's been writing.