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.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Addon, Adv 6, Odin Clue

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

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

Discovered Poem follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prelate Garthan Hammerhand
Priest of Odin

Meet 48, Adv 6, 11/15/08

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

Until they turn away from their god's teachings.

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

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

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

Write up follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we would be swarmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crud – Gelatinous cube.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Addon, Adv 6, Cyric 2

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

Notes follow:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unless the departing dwarves took the runekey with them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet 47, Adv 6, 11/1/08

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

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

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

Write up follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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