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 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.

No comments: