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.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Meet 84, Adv 8, 12/5/09

Plans are what most party's come up with, and then discard or change, or alter - often to the frustration and amusement of the fine gentleman on the opposite side of the screen.

Things that this group has learned how to do:
Fire is good
Setting everything on fire is better.
If at all possible, act crazier than the craziest sonofabitch you can find.
Monsters are not always XP on the hoof - some are companions, meat shields, and even friends.
Treasure isn't always found by scouring rooms methodically.

Tis was a fast and ridiculous way to get the party's ass out of the dungeon and it was not my plan (they effectively skated past 60-70 encounter rooms on two levels!!) but as I have learned, my plans don't mean squat.

I am so looking forward to seeing what they do after this.

Write up follows:

Norris refused to treat his charmed and friendly hobgoblin with respect, and the hobgoblin returned the favor to the rest of the group, treating them all like trash. We talked about directions and which way to go and eventually the hobgoblin (who the group had taken to calling “Bob”) led the way.

The next chamber had half a dozen nets hanging from the ceiling, 15’ wide, 20 tall, bunched up on the floor. Plenty of room to maneuver around. Two doors out of here and Bob told us that through the right was a short hall, a time gate (door with a big clock on it), eventually a hall with ant statues, and then the ogres and drow the hobgoblins were trading with. We checked on the right door and sure enough, were a short hall with two doors, one with a 7’ clock set at 4:49. The group played with the clock but nothing was obvious on how to open it.

Instead of opening the other door though the group wanted to check on the opposite door in the net room. A look showed a dark hall running north and south. A further investigation revealed about 30’ north was a skeletal figure outside a door, grasping a silver key. Should the party investigate this way? Go back? Look around? What about the key and that room?

Eventually the party looked into the room. Fairly large with a chest on the other side. Bob was voted to go in and check out the chest. Key in hand he went closer and closer and when he touched the chest the door slammed closed and we heard a faint moaning. Group backed away and after 2 minutes a slot opened in the ceiling and a skeletal hobgoblin fell out, landing outside the door, silver key in its grasp.

Ok. Leave the door alone, got it.

We opted to go back and follow Bob’s original directions. The room opposite the time gate was big and covered in blood. Fresh blood. It coated the walls, floors, and ceiling. A half dozen boxes were in the south east corner festooned with markings of Hel upon it. A half dozen foot prints showed in the bloody floor. The group went across the chamber with care and only Olthar stayed behind, to make a short offering to the Hel marked boxes before leaving.

From here it was a long dark corridor with broken looking floor and numerous insectoid statues along the south wall. Olthar went scouting and reported back that it was a long trek, with no break in sight. We joined him for some distance until he got to a turn and the group got the feeling that we were circling in some fashion back to the large hall where Bob had been stripped of his skin and killed.

The passage south was short, a door on the right, ending at a left hand turn. Olthar went scouting but returned feeling that there was something on the wall, like a latent trap of sorts. Magical sight revealed it to be a glyph, one of alarming, which meant that there was a wizard down here – and we didn’t want to cross the barrier.

We dickered about for a bit until Zoltan in an uncharacteristic manner said screw this, crossed the barrier, and burst the door open shouting, “How the hell do I get outta this place?” Yelling at and surprising 11 ogres.

There was some fast talking (and a REALLY lucky reaction roll) but it was eventually decided that the ogres wouldn’t tell the “queen” (wizardress) about the party and would gladly escort them to the next level and give them directions on how to get out of here (big room with a pond, eastern corridor all the way, make a left, follow it out past the Trogs and Ant-men and you are up at the gnomish surface). We traded some coins for some arrows and eventually made our way out of the level.

On the next floor we discovered a scrag in a 3x3x3 cage, arms and legs hacked off. The troll was still alive and begged for freedom. There was a moment where the party thought about it and then Norris hit the troll with a charm spell – and it held. He was freed, water was poured on him, and his legs and arms regrew. Identified himself as Gruglin and said he had been sold to the Trogs as renewable food by the Sea witch Lyggvilda. He’ll make his way back at some point but right now he was happy to be with the party and to take his anger out on the Trogs that would carve him up for food and leave him piteously there until they needed more troll flesh to devour.

We wanted to take advantage of no one knowing we were here and the group hashed out some fast ideas. We gathered close and Detheron hit us with a Fairy Fire spell, Coruth’tae fired off an Audible Glamor, and the group began running to the east shouting yelling and making as much of a noise as possible.

We hit a room with a pool which Gruglin dived in and came up the other side, fully healed and hollering. The party followed and our clamoring and noise startled what locals we came across. A few troglodytes were seen running away, shouting out in alarm at our approach as we raced down a long hall. At the end we shifted left and ran northward, some trogs running ahead of us in the darkness, others going right.

As we made distance between us Coruth’tae dropped his glamor spell and shot off a fireball down the right hall, the flames concussing through the air, trogs screaming. A few tried to stand before the party but Arnog, Gwyn, and Gruglin ran them over without issue.

Eventually it opened up to a larger room where a 5 count of 7’tall ant men with two shields and two swords each were standing and waiting for us. Arrows flew, swords hacked, and we tried to overrun the ant men. One of them pointed at Arnog and told the fighter to “Die” and he did, collapsing without life! Gruglin mowed one down. Gwyn engaged another. The tiger charged forward and between it all the ant men hacked at the “down” Arnog trying to kill him. The battle raged across the room but the ant-men were outmatched and even though we were damaged, we took them out (Arnog stood up after a minute, the spell’s effect fading).

We heard MANY of the dungeon’s inhabitants following behind us and getting closer. The group opted to run out to the south, Coruth’tae Olthar and Soren staying back to try and slow down the pursuers with spell and fire if need be.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meet 83, Adv 8, 11/14/09

Did you ever want to change the scenery of the adventure but found you couldn't due to the constraints you placed upon yourself?

When I first rethought about this group and putting adventures together, I had envisioned smaller pieces, say 8-10 meetings tops, and then move on. And for the most part I had done that - until Dargan's Folly.

I fell victim to my own past here, and that was to over plan a big piece. I like big dungeons, huge and sprawling - but for a group it's a pain in the ass. And after a while, I as the DM want to get out of the dungeon. So here I was, stuck on a place I wanted to be free of, and needing to get the group's ass up two levels.

If I was smarter, I would have trashed the 3rd level entirely and had the group come out at the stairs. I thought about it after I had them already up, and felt the need to play it through. From now on, going back to my preferred style - fast and loose.

Write up follows:

The smells of burned hobgoblins and something large and lizardlike were wafting closer as part of the group went down the corridor. A large room to the right had some sibilant hissing within and to the left ahead was the sign of dead hobgoblin children. A barricade of piled stones and metal barred an easy passage and from past there we could hear other hobgoblins moving about.

Soren, Gwyn, and Arnog finished off the hobgoblins in the chamber, the ranger limping along but gathering up what arrows he could. As for the hall, the area past the barricade revealed a ballista being set up and a well armored hobgoblin with a spyglass watching the group. It was then that the large room to the right was dropped open and a 7 headed hydra stormed to the doorway and began biting the party members closest to it! Other hobgoblins with spears were aiding and the party prepared themselves for the fight.

Gwyn was summoned to the front and he readied his scimitar with some wyvern poison while the other members attacked heads and tried pot shots beyond. Arrows hit some of us and then it was with some skill that the hydra was struck and slain. Other hobgoblins emerged with carnivorous apes on chains and still others hit us with halberds while the hobgoblin leader was reading spell scrolls to fire magic at the party.

Detheron slammed the contingent with a flaming sphere spell and Coruth’tae hit them with a lightning bolt. The fight was brought closer to the enemy and Soren discovered a secret door illusionary between the two rooms (obvious now which way the retreating hobgoblins had been moving too). With the battle turning and some of the Hobgoblins trying to douse the flaming sphere spell morale was fading and some of the enemy ran through a secret door (also illusioned). A sleep spell dropped Gwyn and one of the hobgobs. Zoltan and Olthar snuck into some of the now abandoned chambers the enemy had fled from (the hydra’s room and the chief’s room) and it was only a bit longer to mop up what was left and over.

We spent some time tending wounds and gathering what we could find (lots of food stuffs and a sizeable amount of treasures). Detheron and Coruth’tae had some VERY heated words about spell use and the party being burned and whatnot. An uneasy peace settled after some time and the group opted not to stay any longer than they had to.

From here we looked over the nearby areas and wanted to move on, heading in the direction the hobgobs had gone. Soren looked at the floor (the room was preternaturally dark and spooky) and informed us that the humanoids had avoided a 10’ carved circle in the floor on their way to the stairs. Hmmm, just like in the toad room. A simple spell was cast near it and the circle became flared in light and a 12’ horned and winged deamon appeared.

It offered to sell us wares (for a sizeable price) and even to train us (those that needed to go up) again for a sizeable price. The group was discussing the possibility of doing it when Zoltan said he would have no trafficking with a deamonic and that turned the party against taking the chance. He said he would hope to meet us again and disappeared.

The group then continued on, the stairs spiraling up 3 times to the next level, Olthar informing us that there were some hobgoblins up there and they were most likely waiting for us. We changed positions on the stairs with Arnog and Gwyn taking point and proceeded up. A single table was here with the remains of a card game and a small pile of spilled coins.

Then hobgoblins came out and threw flaming oil at us. Shields deflected some of it but we were hit in the crossfire and some of it hit Gwyn on the side. We had a blind lucky shot and caught one of the thrown oils! Norris used his bardic skill and charmed one of the hobgoblins to fight for us and we stormed the enemy making short work of them.

We took some rest and learned from the one hobgob we had befriended that there were some drow around here that the hobgob’s had traded with on and off over the last number of months but hadn’t seen for some weeks now. There were also some ogres nearby but they were considered to be untrustworthy and dangerous (always on the lookout for something/someone new to eat).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meet 82, Adv 8, 11/7/09

There is a sweet spot for mages/sorcerors where they have a number of utility spells that make them a boon to most parties. They can mend broken gear, polish armor, write spell scrolls, the ever handy sleep and magic missile never fail, and even the big hauls needing tenser's floating disk and the useful knock make the mage a much liked party member.

And then some schmuck gives them Fireball and the entire balance goes out the window.

A dozen goblins? Fireball! A troll? Fireball!! The door is locked? Fireball!! Too much treasure to carry? Fireball!! A mage with a fireball is about as bad as an archer that keeps shooting into melee - with poisoned arrows!

Our group has come to this point where the Fireball has now become a mainstay - it is impressive outdoors - but underground in small rooms and narrow confines - that 33,000 cubic feet adds up REAL fast. Take a standard 10x10x10 square - that's 1,000 cubic feet - so in your dungeon a fireball takes up THIRTY-THREE of those spaces. And no matter how much you try to space it out, you can count on Paddy Mc'Firefingers to hurl one at least once a night.

I can't wait for the first Wall of Fire.

Write up follows:

The group shot missile weapons at a distance from the slug, using the fact that it was squeezing through the doorway as a chance for some free shots as well as getting into position. Soren picked off the carrion crawlers, with Zoltan whipping sling bullets as well. Detheron stood his ground, calling on Frey to help him somehow reach the gigantic gastropod. Arrows sang and the group moved closed and crawlers were taken out and then Detheron was spat upon by the acidic spittle and he howled as the group ran forward and plied sword, axe, and knife into the slug’s hide.

As it was suffering Detheron was able to reach its simplistic mind and it was wailing in pain. It wanted the pain to stop and the druid was ordering the group to stop attacking the slug – but no one took the druid seriously. The slug was already dead it was just so massive and simple it hadn’t known it was actually dead yet. Once slain the party noticed that it had something inside and the party pushed and hacked and out of the slug’s innards was a half elf! He claimed he had been involved on the wrong end of a spell duel in Darkwaters and got zapped here – where the slug promptly ate him and then the party cut him Free. Identifying himself as Norris we welcomed him (with piles of concern – including the fact that he had a set of bagpipes with him!) discussed how damned tired we were. It was time to rest.

Since the big slug was blocking the door and there was no way to be attacked from behind, the party decided to rest here. We kept up double watch and the three elves took the majority of the watch for us. We awoke the next day and a round of clean spells went off and the party broke its fast before then hacking a path through the putrefying slug and into the hall beyond.

Detheron called to Frey and learned there was a single “hound” Northwest and some 11 amphibians north east. OK – the hellhounds had their butts kicked – it was voted on possibly going in their direction and taking the lone hound out. We opened the door; it was clear beyond, the hall showing some wear as if a cave-in happened in the past. Soren and Olthar scouted ahead and discovered a side hall to the right (to ice toads), two doors on the right, and what might have been a temple of some sort on the left – large wide open space very dark and smelling faintly of sulfur. Ok – Olthar sent Soren back to get the group and once the ranger was out of sight, the wood elf entered the temple himself and alone. Whoo hoo!! 

He walked alone in the dark until his infravision picked up the obvious hellhound some 60’ away staring at him. The two of them stood still just looking at each other, the hound growling softly. Meanwhile the rest of the group moved forward, some of the party checking out doors, Coruth’tae watching the “toad” hallway, and Norris daring to look at the collapsed hall but not wanting to go any further into it. Soren was wondering where Olthar was and the thief was backing slowly out of the room, the hell hound striding closer. Detheron shot a flare spell at the ceiling illuminating the room and the canine shot a 20’ blast of fire at the wood elf who jumped wildly out of the way and ran forward with “Silverwind” leading the attack.

The fight was one sided until Norris took out his recorder (being threatened with having his bag pipes shoved down his throat if he pulled them out and played them down here in the dungeon) and playing “Hot Cross Buns” tried to sooth the Hellhound by fascinating it. And lo and behold – the bard’s skill actually WORKED!! The party watched with shock and awe as the hellhound stood there and watched Norris. Olthar walked behind the hound and with a sword held high, backstabbed the stunned and fascinated hellhound – killing it.

We checked out the room and discovered there was a doorway on the far end of the temple that was badly fire scarred and seemingly shoved into the jamb – requiring a bit of strength to open it. Once it was opened it was some sort of nave. Natural niches with small fetishes and offerings of old silver abounded around a central fountain of a woman with hands high and bluish water coursing down her body. A sealed sarcophagus was to the fountain’s left some of the gems on its surface having been plundered but much was still remaining. A plaque on the fountain read:

“Spirits blessing take and give the building blocks of who we are. They can allow us to breathe without drowning or become bloated within. The light of love in the palm of the hand or the touch to sour even the most stalwart of tastes. Aquinas loves all no matter the result but the blessings of the waterspirits are singular in nature. Singular always.”

Detheron assured us the water was safe to drink and the group was debating on drinking from the enchanted fountain. Olthar went first, taking a deep draught – and he was blessed with swelling thews! Increased Strength! The party then partook one after another except for Detheron and Zoltan. Both Norris and Soren swelled up with sudden weight, the bard perhaps 20 lbs but the slight and wiry wood elven ranger suffered a 40 lb weight gain, making him quite portly! Nothing seemed to happen to Coruth’tae or Arnog but perhaps it was one of the effects we couldn’t see happen.

Some of the silver on the shelves was taken off and pursed, the coffin was impossible to open but there were no locks we could see. Locked from the inside? Eeech. It wasn’t until Coruth’tae tried to take a vial of the enchanted water and the room darkened and it seemed the coffin began to shake. He dumped it back into the fountain and the party ran from the room, slamming it closed.

From here we went north from the temple and followed some corridors for a bit until we came to a 30x30 room with 1’ wide columns running from floor to ceiling. Each one was numbered. There was as single carving on the wall that read “Primality”. The numbers were looked over and the group decided they would try to pick the patch through the columns. Touching the column marked as “2” first resulted in the pillar glowing. We hit only the prime numbered columns and the group made it through without further concern.

From here there was a long corridor that went beyond our torch range. The first door on the left opened to what was a trophy room at some point in the past. A number of VERY lifelike statues abounded, most of them hobgoblins, elves, and dwarves. The centerpiece was a demonic looking elven woman being stabbed by a hobgoblin – both of them snarling at each other. No one touched anything. Smart!

From there it was two doors visible and more corridor. Olthar went to the first door and as Soren went to the 2nd he was shocked and surprised by two hobgobs in netting above his head in the shadows clad in black, and shooting blow guns at him. He dropped to the ground and passed out, down to -3. Norris activated his levitating boots and took the fight to the hobgobs and the party tried to attack as the monsters dropped a pair of Thunderglasses on the floor deafening the bard, the unconscious ranger, and the thief.

The hobgobs released the netting and came to the ground and Arnog and Gwyn went to the front ready to do battle. In the room beyond them was the sound of running feet and it was thrown wide and almost 30 well armed and armored foes were there! Plying halberds, Morningstars, and bows – they peppered the fighter and the dwarf mercilessly and the two warriors gave the fight back. Olthar chanced to look in the other room and saw that it was all fire scarred and there was the outline of a man on the west wall, and the north wall was badly damaged and it looked like there was some sort of crawlspace or room beyond the collapsing ceiling. He shut the door.

It was at this point that one would expect our mage to send forth a Fireball – and Coruth’tae didn’t let us down! He hurled it into the room with a mighty road and the hobgobs inside were hit and set ablaze – and then the small room was unable to keep the 33,000 cubic feet of fire contained and it smashed into the hall and drove both directions slamming into everyone – doing terrible damage. Most of the hobgoblins were killed but the party was now pretty hurt.

Arnog and Gwyn were giving the grey elf a serious stink eye as they waded into the remaining 9 hobgoblins and sought to take them down as fast as possible. Zoltan ran down the hall for some reason and the party suspected that from all the sounds we were hearing – there were still a bunch of hobgoblins to contend with. And we ended it here – starting round 4 of battle.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Meet 81, Adv 8, 10/24/09

I like traps. What DM doesn't? I like pit traps especially. Ages ago I had the pleasure of having a number of my characters dies in Pit Traps. Since then I was hooked. I have had just about every iteration of pit traps and mechanical death filled dungeons possible (Funhouse Dungeon of Henewai?) but as my role playing matured I left the pit traps behind. Much to my unknowing dismay.

The party stumbled into the trapped area that was behind two sets of impossible to pick locked doors needing specific keys - and through the hallway with a score of zombies and a handful of ghouls and ghasts hiding within. The big pay off seemed to be two pieces of specific looking silver jewelry - under a 4 ton statue of a squat toad. And there were 6 rope wrapped pegs with a cryptic clue to decipher. And under the place where they would stand to pull the pegs was a pit trap with spikes and green slime. Damn, the only thing missing was a lever.

Adventurers are adventurers because they DO stupid things like this and take the risks - so they can get the big treasure. Otherwise they would just be inn keepers and blacksmiths and be content with their handful of silver a day.

But with risks do come the spectre of death and that befell the group this meeting. We lost our paladin for which I was sorry to see it happen. The guy playing him is new to our group, only being there for 6-8 meetings; and he is young, just over 20; and he does not have much old school D&D experience, playing mostly 3.5 and 4.0. But I LIKED the way he was playing his paladin and noted that he did make the right effort and was a boon to the table and the party. Yes he died, but he died with flair (getting smashed under 8,000 lbs of falling frog shaped stonework is flair-y!!) and I know that whatever he rolls up next (supposedly thinking about a fighter/bard) works just as well.

Write up follows:

After some time the sound of the hellhounds and ice toads doing battle grew fainter and eventually ended as the two parties separated. Detheron used his still open connection with Frey to verify the two parties had moved away, confident that neither side was the apparent victor.

As for where to go, it was a tossup with Damian championing going into the dark and gloomy evil feeling corridor and Detheron wanting to NOT go into the corridor! But it was put to discussion and Zoltan and Gwyn were the voices of support to the paladin and the group opted to use the mirrored short swords to open the side door.

A recheck with Baldur guiding him was enough to set Damian’s mind at rest that the corridor was as we viewed it before, and aura of evil coming from within. The group hesitated on entering but Olthar was voted/volunteered to enter. He tossed some bone fragments at the closest overbearing 20’ tall statues, hitting each but nothing special occurring. He entered, infravision illuminating the way. The corridor was cool and even. He didn’t like the alcoves to either side (there were 8 of them, 4 on each side, each with a huge giant statue), with the rotting velvet looking curtain hanging before them. Cautiously he entered behind one, stepping around the giant statue.

It was in the darkness that something struck it, three times with bone snapping impacts. He turned and ran, yelling that he was under assault. Damian stepped in with his sledgehammer drawn and ran behind the statue yelling out his god’s name. Gwyn tossed a flask of oil through the other side of the alcove and Arnog brought the lantern near so we could see what was there. Very dead and rotting zombie dwarves.

The group entered the corridor (except for Soren, Zoltan, and Coruth’tae who stayed in the 20’ square outer chamber) and readied weapons as Gwyn lit torch and threw it at the oil soaked wall, setting one zombie on fire and showing two others shuffling out to attack. Damian smashed into the closest and did battle with the undead while the dwarf set his enchanted shield firmly against his arm and raced into the alcove to shield rush another shambling undead. There was a crumbling pop and the damn thing was consumed from the shield’s power.

But more of them came out, behind every statue, every alcove; zombies came out and shuffled in our direction. Detheron drew his boar spear and slammed it into a close one, sinking it in deep and holding it from advancing. Olthar switched from dagger to short sword and plied blade against another one. Soren put away his bow and drew out a torch, using it as a club as he helped Detheron take out the closest and Arnog aided Olthar. The zombies raised their arms up and brought them down, hitting the group but no real damage was done, only some bruises and scrapes. The zombies continued to advance crowding around Olthar and getting closer.

Gwyn continued to beat the closest he could reach with Damian whacking another one, the two fighters tearing deeply into the undead. The dwarf dropped his and Damian changed over to his great sword with Sif’s Tears coating it. Zoltan entered and taking stock of the combat climbed the nearest giant statue until he was around the edifice’s chest level. Detheron watched the approaching zombies, counting over 15 of them, and shook his head, dropping the boar spear and relying on Soren to take the undead down. He called to Frey and summoned a Flaming Sphere and sent it rolling down in a straight line hitting 4 of the closing zombies. Three were set ablaze, the 4th stepped OUT of the way! This 4th one looked at Detheron with hate filled eyes and snarled.

Two of the zombies approaching suddenly raced forward and ran right at Detheron hitting him with filthy claws and biting at him. Ghouls! Damn it! The druid was struck and his limbs froze in place as he was paralyzed. Damian came charging out behind and smiting evil clove one of the ghouls in twain while the paralyzed Detheron still used his connection to his Flaming Sphere to bring it back towards him, burning 2 more zombies. The “commanding” undead leapt up onto of a local statue and took view of the fight while Olthar was almost surrounded by pummeling Zombies.

Hoping to leap his way free, the agile wood elf threw himself sideways but slipped and was knocked on the head and back, driven to the ground while one of the zombies grappled with him, twisting his back like a pretzel. He began yelling for help. Zoltan drew his water skin and yelled to Coruth’tae, NOW!, squirting the ghouls and zombies below surrounding Detheron. The elven mage changed the water to Firewater and Arnog smashed the lantern into the wandering undead, setting them all ablaze. Whoosh!

More Zombies tried to close. Soren was beating one to death with his torch and Gwyn ran into the fight, sidestepping the flaming sphere to shield rush another one. Arnog ran to help Olthar who was wounded and bleeding badly. The number of zombies was beginning to thin. The last ghoul went down in fire and swords. Coruth’tae sighted on the last “commanding” undead and sent a fireball screeching towards him. It leapt down at the last moment and took only a partial blast of fire, but three more zombies were blown away.

Zoltan climbed down and Gwyn charged the commander who we discovered was actually a ghast! Dangerous. The party surged forward and Damian called on to turn undead and a number of them reversed their direction and shambled away. Our gypsy released Detheron from his paralysis and the druid sent his flaming sphere ripping into the retreating zombies as the group finished off the ghast. Battle over.

We doled out healing and took stock of the area. No other enemies were here and we figured we were safe for a short time. The statues all were 20’ tall and all of them but one had their eyes removed, gemstones – red in color. Olthar, healed a bit now, wanted to climb up and take a look but the party wanted him to wait. There was a door on the other end of the corridor and it had the same sort of locks we had to use the swords to get past. Hmm.

Some experimentation was required and we figured out that we could use ONE of the swords to open the door, allowing us to use the 2nd sword to open this next set of doors. Olthar meanwhile used crowbar and hammer and gouged the gem stones free, netting two rubies for his efforts. Nice!

We looked in the next room. Large, some 60’ across, 50’ tall ceiling, rounded corners, alcove on the far side. A raised dais was in the middle with metal loops set in all 8 cardinal directions, a silver jeweled circlet and scepter sitting on it. Suspended above was a 4-ton stone statue 20’ diameter of a squatting frog, chains along the edges and going up to a knot of ropes into a hole in the ceiling. On the left side of the room a hole in the ceiling and 6 ropes taut coming out and down, wrapped around wooden posts sticking out of the wall just over a bronze plaque with something written on it. Trap room. Oh boy.

The group did NOT want to walk under the frog statue and expected doing so would result in massive death. Damian volunteered to enter and looked around. He went to the plaque and read it:

“Amphian the Behemoth watches his treasures too. If you hoped you won a free bit of treasure than go forth and pull the fifth rope free. But don’t call out in misery if you end up getting deep sixed”

The group mulled it over. Pulling the 5th rope (the dowels were numbered) was decided to be wrong. But they looked it over and deduced: “won”, “too”, “forth”, “fifth”, and “sixth” were there – and “3” was absent. 3rd rope SHOULD be safe. Could they do an Indiana Jones thing and try to sweep the scepter and crown off? Maybe use the rope of entangling and lasso it? Opted to instead use the clues as figured out and follow the plan.

Damian went back in and carefully pulled the third wooden post free – and the rope slithered out of the ceiling! 25’ of slack appeared, very nice. Now what? Gwyn suggested tying the rope to the metal loops on the dais and it seemed the rope could reach 5 of the loops. Which one? The frog was facing south, the direction of the plaque. That was thought about, but discarded and instead it was guessed to tie it on the one closest to the doorway out. Stepping under the groaning and creaking suspended frog our paladin carefully inserted the rope through the loop, pulled it slowly until the slack was taut, and then tied the first knot.

And the frog dropped from 20’ above and smashed the young holy warrior to Baldur. Killing him. A spray of blood burst from underneath and we heard Damian shout but it was too late as 4 tons of statue ground him to pulp and smashed the silver jeweled scepter and crown to splinters.

Son of a bitch!!!

Someone in the group commented, “Yeah. Didn’t see THAT coming,” getting some nervous chuckles out of us, but not dispelling the suddenly somber mood. Olthar walked around the room while the group thought about what went wrong, and how to lift the frog again. The back alcove area was about 20’ square with an 8’ circle scratched deeply in the smooth stone floor, almost half an inch deep. He told the rest of the party about it and the party thought about what it meant.

There was though about moving or cutting one of the ropes to see if it raised the frog and Olthar cut one free. Opening a pit 15’ square right under his feet. The wood elf dropped and only through blind luck managed to snag an out thrust shaft of metal, dangling over a 30’ deep pit with 6’ spikes at the bottom and greenish slime surrounding the spikes like a small pool. Damn it.

He was fumbling in his backpack for his rope but could only reach his underwear (which Gwyn said was good because he probably needed it about now). Detheron used his cut rope of entangling and tried to drop and end to grab onto Olthar – but the entangling rope instead wrapped around the wood elf’s hand, wrist, forearm, AND the metal bar. Detheron was standing over the pit, rope pointing down, connecting to the wrapped Olthar who was now tied to the metal bar.

And it was then that Zoltan heard the sounds of Hellhounds approaching from far down the corridor. Oh yeah, it can get better. Because at that moment the pit trap snapped shut, cutting Detheron’s rope and dropping the length down the pit where it added to the huge knot around Olthar’s arm and the metal shaft; the wood elf yelling for help under the stone slab.

Detheron ran to Zoltan and using one of his remaining spells cast a quench down the hall at the Hellhounds who were VERY unexpecting it and to a total, 5 of them died instantly. Whoo hoo! Arnog was sent down to get one of the hellhound corpses and with Zoltan’s advice, through it at the closed pit, hoping to open it. It didn’t work. Hmmm. Soren offered to cut one of the ropes with his arrow. He took aim and shot – bull’s-eye! The next rope cut and the pit opened, hellhound dropping into the spikes and green slime below and began to dissolve.

Detheron cast Spider Climb on himself and using knife and axe, Olthar and him cut the wood elf free while Gwyn spiked the pit trap open. We pulled Olthar free and more healing was dispensed all around. We needed to rest, and soon. Some of the group wanted to rest in here but there was some discussion against it as there was no apparent way to lock ourselves in without the mirrored swords. Detheron said he could meld the stone if need be to get us out and we wanted him to test it.

He was shut in and the sword was removed from the other side of the door. When he tried to cast a spell to soften the stone it sort of failed and sparks ran away from him across the floor towards the alcove with the scribed circle. Weird. We let him out and thought that something about the room changed while the door was shut. We then thought about staying in the hall with the giant statues where the zombies were. We spent some time dragging zombies and hell hounds into the green slime pit, dumping them in and watching the level rise slowly as their mass was added to the slime below.

Gwyn thought the giant statues would still come to life at some point (kept saying “when”, not “if”) and wanted to try to knock one down. It took most of the party to help shove and push and pry and lean but the statue leaned over and then fell down with a mighty crash. It was a statue, nothing more. There was nothing under it either.

However the raucous noise sounded long throughout the complex and the group stopped to listen and spotted the giant slug we had snuck past before coming our way, a small gathering of carrion crawlers milling about its base as it entered the huge corridor we were in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Meet 80, Adv 8, 10/17/09

Sometimes a character will inadvertently become the target of a particular aspect/creature/ or situation in your adventures. Over the many years I've had at least 2 people become infatuated with squirrels (one of them becoming an advocate of the furry tailed beasts and another doing all he could to kill one - even if it meant falling off a mountain to slaughter one of them), I had another character fail every check against haunts no matter what, I even had one character try to lift and toss every cabinet he could find.

This current group has our hapless paladin Damian become the hated target of just about every invertebrate we've run across. Rot grubs, leeches, scraglings, giant slugs, and now carrion crawlers - if it oozes along in order to locomote itself and most likely exudes some sort of slimy residue - it's gone after our paladin. It's uncanny but the poor lad is just target numero uno.

Another thing I liked about this session is the fact that the group skipped past some 10 encounter areas that would have ground them down. A dozen or less scrags, a pair of alligators, a devious pit trap, three armed and armored ogre fighters, an ettin, and a sea hag. And they did it by taking the time to talk to the denizens instead of plying them with sword and spell. Good for them.

Of course that doesn't ALWAYS work, but in this case - they skipped along and did so with most of their skin and gear intact.

Write up follows:

Zoltan stayed back with the gigantic female troll, Coruth’tae stayed within yelling distance, and the rest of the group went back into the cavern to the roper and proceeded to chop it up into manageable 30 lb pieces, tossing them to Olthar and Soren who ferried them back and forth to the scragling pool. It was difficult work, taking the majority of 2 hours until completion.

Afterwards we spoke to the trolless and learned of what was in the area. There was a large cave with two other ways out of here: one to the North east led in a winding pattern through a nest of scrags. There were between 10 and 20 of them in 6 sizeable chambers and they bent knee to a witch hag named Lyggvilda. The trolless had little respect for the scrags and thought that if the party dispatched some of them it wouldn’t trouble her. The entire cave complex ended at single cave with a secret way that could be used to get into Lyggvilda’s hidden cave and eventually the back of her keep.

The other way was to travel southeast to Lyggvilda’s Keep itself. In the back of the keep was a corridor that would lead the party into a long corridor that sloped upward and eventually out of the scrag area. But Lyggvilda was identified as a witch and had some guards: some 10’ tall shaggy figured and an even taller one with two heads.

We thanked the trolless who went back to her own cave and the group discussed options going back and forth on what we could expect. Going to the scrags would allow us to approach the keep by surprise and get the drop on them – but there were a lot of scrags, and we learned that some of the caves had water in them. But a frontal assault on the keep was an option and we wouldn’t have our resources drained by constant scrag fighting. Besides, we should at least see the keep and make our decisions then.

The keep was set into the side of the cavern itself, the walls some 30’ tall and 30’ wide, at least 50’ long. A moat surrounded the keep, less than 10’ from the wall and about 10’ wide, filled with oily greenish water. A chimney was along the furthest wall, glowing softly and smoking faintly. The drawbridge was up. We discussed possibly opening it. Jumping across. Using a knock spell. Fighting in the keep. Fighting out of the keep. Going into the chimney.

Eventually it was Zoltan who suggested that maybe we DIDN’T have to fight. Why not call out to the inhabitants and see if we could buy our way through? Did we really WANT to fight some hag witch? We parleyed with an inhabitant and told him we wanted passage to the corridor beyond. Were we willing to pay? Sure we were!

The bridge lowered and an armored ogre with a double bitted axe stepped out and said passage was going to be 500 crowns. Hmm, we could afford it. Gwyn was talking to the ogre (as the only one who spoke ogrish) and taking Zoltan’s “ogre sex statue” went to show it to the guard. He said it was nice, but wasn’t worth enough. Zoltan added the bag of platinum coins he had snagged from the Roper’s gut and the ogres were pleased to let us pass.

The keep’s interior held another ogre as well as an ettin and in the bag was a shrouded and frightening appearing hag. Only her eyes were visible in the dark cowl and she wished us well as we opted not to stay and chat, moving on to the corridor as mentioned (and not the other doors that led further into the keep), only some passing shots as she recognized Damian as a paladin and we were through.

The corridor wandered loosely in a curving pattern from SE to S to SW to W, eventually rising a few degrees as we walked. We had been warned that there was a giant slug in the area and we watched carefully for sign, Soren and Olthar finding it after a half hour of travel. Detheron called to Frey to help him find animals, specifically slugs! And there, some 200 feet away was one.

We got ourselves ready, learning from our people that they could be large, 20’ or more, and they spit acid. Nice. Not knowing how far they were when it was to happen, Detheron was keeping tabs on the slug, it closed to 60’ from him and he tried to dominate it. He failed and the gastropod spit at 60’ away a globule of acid at Detheron – hitting him dead on. His enchanted armor hissed, his clothes shredded, he took some burns, and his staff of webs that he was holding shuddered and snapped, sending 6 web spells immediately into the area around the druid. Damian jumped forward but the webs caught Detheron, Soren and Zoltan cold. And it also blocked off the rest of the party.

From the slug and Damian.

Damian went to pull Detheron out but the webs were tough and the rest of the party tried to help Zoltan and Soren. Coruth’tae shot a Hail Mary lightning bolt down the hall and it scored against the giant slug before returning back to us and then ending before striking the party. The slug spit at Damian, hitting his in the back and melting his backpack and dropping some of his belongings. Damn it, including his potions.

Furious now he drew his sledge hammer and charged the slug bashing into it with all his fury and anger again and again. But none of his blows did anything permanent to the slug and the party was shouting at him to use slashing weapons! Detheron pulled himself forward a bit but was pulled up short after only a few feet. We hacked out Zoltan and eventually Soren while the slug bit and dribbled acid on the paladin. As the druid finally pulled himself out and yelled “Clear!” Gwyn set fire to the webs and we backed away as the fire ate the strands with terrible ease.

After that the group went to charge at the slug but Detheron tried to dominate the huge gastropod again – succeeding this time! He was controlling the slug and could feel what it was feeling – including Damian hitting it! The battle was put on hold and we snuck past the slug as Detheron had it run against the left wall and we moved on into the darkness putting the slug behind us until the spell was over.

After some time we came to an area where the walls took on a finished look. 20’ wide with feeble torches set in the walls every 8 paces. There were niches on both sides with bases and bottoms of old statues there. The group stopped to rest while Damian and Olthar went to check one of them out. There were old cracks running behind them almost a foot wide and some 3’ tall. Taking the lantern the paladin bent down to check one out and the wood elf with him heard a slapping sound.

Then 3 others.

Damian wasn’t moving and Olthar was asking him what was up. He tried to pull him away from the hole and in doing so revealed a carrion crawler had hit the paladin and paralyzed him. Damn. Another was coming out and one was inching forward from the other side. Soren shot the closest one and even Coruth’tae did while Gwyn and Arnog pulled the paladin back to “safer” part of the corridor. Detheron began using his herbal lore to come up with an anti-toxin to the effect but it would take 10 minutes. Olthar was also saved although the thief was only hit lightly by the tentacles. Detheron had his tiger tear the wounded crawler to bits and then the group dragged the carcass back until we were out of the view and range of any potential crawlers.

Damian was able to move at long last and decided that after rot grubs, leeches, scrags, slugs, and now carrion crawlers that he was very skittish about any sort of mucus worm/slug creatures from now on. The druid went to work on the crawler and extracted 5 doses of the paralytic toxin from the gland in its body which both Soren and Olthar took.

We guessed that we needed to run across the hall as the crawlers didn’t come out quickly or in force. So we did so, moving single file. We counted the niches, five of them, eventually ending at a double set of doors. Behind us a pair of crawlers had come out of the 1st niches and Zoltan started winging sling bullets at them, hitting them and scaring them back into the holes. But more kept coming and the group had to decide now what to do. We opened the door and beheld a 20’x20’ room with two other double doors, one with a large brass relief on it with two shaft slots at 10 and 2, the other set of doors showing lots of tracks and filth as if heavy use. We piled in and shut the door behind us on the crawlers and took stock of the situation.

The closed and locked door had shown no traffic while the other showed what seemed to be a multitude of tracks, some of them canine-like. As for the brass relief, the slots were flattened oval shaped. Zoltan nodded and took out the mirrored short swords, sliding them into each hole where they each gave what seemed to be a blast of light. And then the door gave a sigh and was openable.

The hall beyond was wide with a 30’ vaulted ceiling. Deep niches with 20’ tall wind-blown looking giant statues lined both sides of the hall as far as out lantern revealed. There was the scent of rotted meat in there. Damian tried to detect evil and got a number of vibes from the chamber. The group wanted the door closed and Damian wanted to go in and clear it. There was a bit of a stand off and it seemed that some of the party didn’t understand Damian’s conviction and how important this was for the young paladin but he was placated (for now) with the knowledge that were going to look down the other corridor 1st and get a feel for what was in that way.

A short look showed a corridor with two side branches, soot and cracks ran along the walls in places as if some sort of fire or magic took place in here. We shut the door and after some discussing had Coruth’tae use his illusion to make it seem like a number of “people” were on the other side whistling. It attracted some sort of barking canines as well as something else and there was suddenly a melee going on the other side of the door. It was loud and filled with barks and blasts of flame and odd croaking and we chanced to look down the hall to see half a dozen hell hounds fighting what seemed to be almost a dozen pale bluish 10’ frogs dribbling ice and frost.

We shut the door and talked about our options while the fight on the other side wound down.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Meet 79, Adv 8, 10/10/09

Ah yes, the age old issue of shooting into battle. I used to play it where a fumble would automatically strike a friend but changed my ruling as I developed the fumble charts (from Dragon magazine) and rolled into 3rd edition. Simple enough - if you shoot into battle and MISS by more than 4, I have you roll again to hit a friendly. Don't have to worry about that if you have Precise Shot.

Our group has had some rather funny instances of shooting into melee and in this regard it was no different. However it WAS at our party gypsy who only just came back from the dead. And it was from our resident dwarf who would rather be a 2nd line archer fighter as opposed to front line battle swinging hero. So he is all geared up for fighting in the front - but never wants to! And he's shot party members before.

What's funny to me is that I know he will shoot party members again. :)

Write up follows:

We talked about our options and decided the water logged cavern was not a good idea, neither was the one with the Troll sounds in it – that left the center one. It was wide, 10 to 15’ in many places, the ceiling as tall if not taller. Loose rock was on the floor and some cracks ran across the ceiling in places but Gwyn assured us it was safe.

Olthar and Soren went first just outside of light range and scouted as we followed behind. It was a short time later when it forked to the left and right – the left side possibly opening into a larger cave. We discussed options and the group moved closer. Eventually Olthar was checking the right side and Coruth’tae the left. At that point a giant cave tick made a prodigious 45’ leap and barreled into the grey elf, burrowing its head into his gut and sucking his blood.

The group tried to knock the tick free but its carapace was thick. Torches were lit and Gwyn tried to burn the thing’s head but it was sucking Coruth’tae and the elven wizard was growing weaker. Eventually it was burned and set ablaze and hit and struck and it jumped free back into the cavern on the left. There was a brief moment when it was debated about tossing a Fireball in there but the group decided against it.

Meanwhile Zoltan had stayed behind and the experienced thief’s instincts paid off as he heard a scrag picking its way closer from the main cave they had just come from. Thinking quickly he shouted back in Giantish some encouraging words and threats and the Troll stopped, replied in kind that it would back away, and did so!

We nursed Coruth’tae back to standing and decided that we would move on, hoping to find a place to rest as we were growing exhausted. Opting to leave the tick and its room behind we went right, deeper into the darkness. The corridor looked worse and worse, with many areas of ruptured ceiling and debris laden floor. Gwyn was growing a bit concerned and advised us to be even more careful. We picked our way across the weaker parts with caution, Detheron opting to use Coruth’tae’s wire puzzle to turn himself 2 dimensional and be carried forward.

From here we returned to the two wood elves walking ahead to scout and the group following. Eventually they came to an area with a number of stalagmites and then what seemed to be a cleft in the stone, 7’ tall, 4’ wide, with a scattering of silver coins in front of it. Hmm. They returned to the group and let us know what was in place. Zoltan followed them and didn’t like the look of the place. He took a loose stone from the floor and threw it and it seemed to hit a silver coin – but did nothing to the coin! Odd. Further tests did the same.

Coruth’tae was called forward and the illusionist eventually agreed with our experienced spelunker. When it was time to hit a stalagmite instead, the thrown rock bounced off one of them that seemed to unfold to 10’ tall, 5’ wide at the base, with 6 long tentacles hanging off its side. Damn! A Roper!! It hurled two of its tentacles forward, not at the group, but just over their head into the ceiling – causing it to cave down.

Damn it! Zoltan, Coruth’tae, and Damian all ran forward, Olthar and Arnog got buried under the stone, and Gwyn, Soren, Detheron and the tiger all ran backward to avoid the falling stone. The roper snagged Zoltan and its tentacles immediately drained a bit strength from the gypsy. However as it began to pull him forward, the thief hurled himself at the Roper and nailed it with a surprise hit with his bleeding knife and his short sword!

Olthar held his breath, badly hurt but still alive. Arnog was frantic, trying to pull himself forward but rocks kept whacking him in the head. Damian tried to hack the tentacle holding Zoltan to no avail and the Roper actually tried to shove the gypsy into its maw, biting and tearing into the thief who was fighting to keep himself free. Meanwhile Detheron held his Heimdall’s Bulwark over the top of the now 6’ tall pile of fallen rocks and called for a ward – the rainbow shield appearing to hold further rocks from falling onto the pile!

The tiger ran ahead and attacked the Roper. Gwyn and Soren both took to the hill and began firing crossbows and arrows at the Roper who grabbed Coruth’tae and drained some of his strength, biting at him, his back teeth circumventing his shield spell (which only affects his front). The tiger eventually bit its way through Zoltan’s tentacle and the Roper was growing weaker, but managed to bite Zoltan hard, tearing the thief’s right ear off! And then to add insult to injury, Gwyn accidentally shot the gypsy with a crossbow bolt during the tightly pressed melee. It was growing more difficult in the corridor to fight and get a blow against the Roper. Arnog managed to pull himself free and then bent down and dug Olthar out as well.

Damian tried to gag the Roper with his own tower shield and body! Blows were raining hard and furious and then the Roper gave a gasp and shudder and Coruth’tae’s shadow wand ripped the last of life from the subterranean horror and it was done. The group was then divided – stay here or get to the other side of the pile – Detheron was announcing the ward was going to fall. Half the group stayed with Zoltan who was digging in the Roper’s gut for his ear (also finding out the Roper’s CAN’T digest platinum – it was at the beast’s belly ;) ) and the other half ran away and the ward fell and more rocks rained down.

The illusion of the silver coins and oval opening had faded with the Roper’s demise. Gwyn, Damian, Detheron, Coruth’tae and the tiger were on one side of the now 30’ long, 10’ wide, 9’ tall pile, while Arnog, Zoltan, Soren, and Olthar were on the other with the dead Roper.

And then the giant tick leapt out of the darkness and hit Gwyn in the back. Damn it! Plus, from the steady diet of scrag blood, the tick had developed the ability to regenerate. Just lovely! The dwarf was knocked down and with only half the party able to help the combat was looking grim. Gwyn tried to stab the tick but the angle was bad. Damian hit it with his sword but the blows were resounding as the dwarf began losing blood. Torches were plied as well as oil and the dwarf and the tick were ablaze in short order.

Gwyn was struck by Damian’s sword at least once and it was with herculean efforts that the tick was eventually slain (with a big thanks from Coruth’tae’s well timed shadow wand again). The group sluiced over the mound of rocks and we decided that the dead end corridor with the huge imposing pile of stones in front of it was as good a place as any to rest for the night.

Watches were doled out and the group went off to slumber. Shortly after everyone went to sleep during Damian’s watch, Zoltan stood up, drew his knife, and began cutting the dwarf’s crossbow and bow strings. The paladin tried to rouse the group but only Detheron woke up who took in the scene, heard Zoltan’s complaint that he was not going to be shot in the back ever again by the careless dwarf, and subtly agreed, telling Damian they’ll take care of it in the morning.

During the night we were approached by a pair of Crab Spiders but they were dispatched easily. A scrag came to investigate but Coruth’tae used Zoltan’s trick of talking Giant and convinced the troll to move on. Eventually the group woke up – tired and drawn out, but better for the sleep. Zoltan and Gwyn were feverish and pale – sick from the deep we were in. Detheron offered to cure both of their diseases but Zoltan told him not to worry about him, to heal the dwarf instead.

It was then that Gwyn saw his weapons and wanted to know what happened. Zoltan flat out admitted it and the two of them had some words, the dwarf shrugging and saying, “When it comes time that you would want me to “take a shot” and I can’t – it’ll be your fault.” We broke our fast and decided to go back to the main cavern and see if there was another option at our disposal.

We climbed over the pile and walked in the darkness, eventually getting to the tick room. No more giant types were in there, just hundreds of smaller types ranging from normal to the size of someone’s thumb. We opted not to risk it and continued on to the main cavern where we heard the sound of a scrag wandering in the water.

Damn it. Zoltan tried talking to it in Giant and the scrag replied, decidedly female, that it could smell us. Double crap – it was the big female. We parlayed with her a bit and she was wroth that we had damaged the scraglings – which we eventually learned were the lamprey looking things in the oily pool. She wanted repayment of it by sending forth the one that did it – we lied and said that the Roper had killed that one.

She was mollified a bit by it but wanted us to still feed the scragling pool. Bring us the Roper and dump it in. If we did that, she would consider us square and let us on our way unmolested (by her at least – if other scrags wanted to take a shot at us, that was their problem and most likely stupidity). IF we did kill any mature scrags, that was ok – just do NOT harm the young anymore. Seems the scrags were taken in by something called Lyggvilda and the larger female scrag had no respect for it or the easily led scrags.

The group was sent back down the corridor to get the half ton Roper and somehow drag it over the pile of rocks of if that failed, chop it up and drag the pieces. And that’s where we left it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meet 78, Adv 8, 10/3/09

We have a large group around the table now, larger than I've had for some time (most of my groups have been 4-5): when everyone is there I have 8 people - not counting my daughter who comes around with plastic food, my girlfriend who sits behind my screen with me now and again and wonders what the hell is going on, and various player's significant others who show up from time and again.

One of my fears about larger groups is the game dragging down slower and slower - but I am very pleased with the people who've come to join us. All 3 of them are engaging, willing to jump right in, trying to work WITH the group instead of AGAINST it, and lastly funny.

And frankly funny is one of the most important things. We get together around a table because there is a social aspect that is missing from EQ2 or WOW or the like even with the best Ventirllo servers. And when good natured people get together in a state of camaraderie at some point the jokes and funnies will flow.

And that was my last meeting. It's been a while since I've laughed behind the DM's screen that long and that hard (the last time was when this current group had a penchant for whipping out the 500# gorilla and throwing it in the main bad guy NPC's face) but this has been the case at the recent game. I'm still thinking about it:

(Laugh number 1) Paladin, shining straight and true, maybe a flowing cape and a sword, wraps his face with the tail of his cloak and runs into a filthy fly and maggot choked cleft in a cave rife with rotting fish heads, decaying meat and whatnot and on the fourth step gets overcome from the stench and slams onto his face in the slurry of run off and passes out. And no one wants to risk going in there to get him.

(Laugh number 2) Paladin has come out, admonished to be safer, and the group uses ropes to get the "treasure" on the dead guy out of the back of the cleft. Rest of group runs away from the paladin and dead guy and paladin reaches down to take treasure - gets hit with rot grubs. Jumping around with a knife and yelling, "Shit! Fuck! Shit! Help!" as he is stabbing himself in the wrist, forearm and bicep in a mad effort to kill the wriggling worms burrowing under his skin. And then he steps in the shallow pool and a pair of 2' long lampreys attack to his ankle and shin and he's still dancing around yelling and stabbing himself and with sucking leech like worms flapping about his foot as he is jumping and hollering.

I know you have to be there sometimes to get the full image, but really - it's 3 Stooges like material.

Write up follows:

The broken bits of the Drooling Queen and her passengers fell through a chasm in the sewer’s floor, a whirlpool that ran through rock, mud, and gravelly stone until we slipped and fell a short distance into even more water. The pattering of falling rock and water rained on top of us in the darkness until the hole above us was choked off and plugged from above. Zoltan whistled up a quick light spell and in the glow of the eldritch light we all rejoined one another. The water was about 4 and a half deep and flowed very sluggishly in one direction, a wall visible in one direction the other wall and ceiling out of our vision. A few large pieces of the fungus boat were here, many smaller ones still abounding. Gwyn, the shortest in the group, snagged one of the bigger pieces for himself and Damian offered to drag it behind him with some rope. Arnog held Detheron’s lantern aloft after the druid had it lit and we talked about our options.

Going back was not a choice. The area we were in was perhaps 30’ wide and the roof was maybe 30’ over our heads. We talked for a bit and looked through our belongings, dismayed to find that most of us with scrolls, paper, or journals had our items soaked and in some cases ruined. We opted to go “upstream” and walked that way.

The water deepened slowly and the roof came lower. One by one the party was forced to hold onto Gwyn’s floating piece of the boat until it was obvious we couldn’t go much further. Detheron stripped down and handing his equipment and clothes to Arnog concentrated and transformed himself into a large 50# snapping turtle. Then getting his bearings swam further upstream. It wasn’t much longer before the water was fully under the stone ceiling and deepened to 10’ or so deep. He had gone for a little bit but there was no way the party was going to make it this far – so he turned back and swam for the group, informing them of what he had seen.

With a lack of other choices we went downstream, finding out shortly that the roof was dropping in height and the water was deepening this way as well. We did catch up to other pieces of floating fungus and the group all grabbed pieces of them to float on. We kicked and floated our way along until the pathway had narrowed to 15’ and it sounded like it was getting to an open area up ahead. At this point we strung ourselves together into a single line with Zoltan and Gwyn at opposite ends (strong swimmers) with Arnog, Damian, and Coruth’tae in the middle, the grey elf having cast Tenser’s Floating Disk on which both Olthar and Soren sat upon with eyes peeled and bow ready. Detheron and his tiger swam behind and we moved on.

The stream opened into some smallish underground lake, our voices and noises echoing in the gloom. Zoltan tried hard and listened for the distant sound of shore, guessing it was ahead of us and to our right. Detheron called on Frey and asked to locate animals – feeling lots of small blind cave fish – but also two 15’ long slowly undulating eels some distance away. Soren readied an arrow while it was hit with a light spell and shot in the direction that Zoltan guessed was land – the illuminated bolt soaring over the water and indeed passing over a sizeable outcropping of stone.

We began swimming in that direction, one of the eels coming towards us. Detheron hit it with a Hold Animal spell and we kicked onward eventually reaching the isle. It wasn’t large – a collection of stone maybe 25’ diameter, with the remains of what seemed to be a log raft on it, a single body half lying in the water decayed to just bones, rusty ringmail, and a split backpack. We checked over the island the body – human, dead at least 2 years, most of his gear useless. Some spikes, empty potion bottles, boots were in good shape as was the scimitar (tarnished silver hilt with the word “Silverwind” on the blade), belt buckle was enchanted as well. We took off our wet clothes a bit while Damian and Gwyn made a small fire. Zoltan spent some time working on the remains of the raft in order to put it in some semblance of order again.

Our dead guy had a water soaked journal of which there was not much still legible except for the last page. We read it and figured that this was either a hireling or a member of Djohrgahd’s former adventuring group lost and forgotten a decade ago. Once ready we left the isle and used the raft, swimming to the east (we now knew that as per Detheron’s spells) towards the “beach”.

It was crusted with dead fish and some crusted algae, reeking but harmless. Once on the shore we pulled the boat up and looked around – our feeble light giving no indication to the great size of the cave – only our echoing voices and footsteps. We suspected there was something out there but couldn’t see it. Zoltan suggested, “Just blow your whistle Gwyn, and let whatever is out there know we are here”. It was definitely bold and the dwarf did so – the shrill silver sound echoing through the cave.

And they came. Three, then a fourth, dark creatures came and Damian was telling us where they were – the baddies staying just outside visible range. They were cool, the same temperate as the surrounding cave so infravision was useless as Gwyn found out standing just outside the light range bow in hand. He was attacked and staggered back holding his chest and yelling warning.

10’ tall, rubbery green and black skin, floppy almost boneless features, needle-like teeth, two of them assaulted us immediately, Zoltan losing his sling in the dark and Gwyn seeing his hydra spear although badly wounding one – the creature all 750 lbs ran PAST him into the water and then healed the wounds almost immediately. Water trolls, scrags. Capable of healing almost instantly if made wet. And we were fighting them on the edge of an underground lake.

Zoltan was bull rushed and driven into the water, the gypsy trying to break free and get around. Arrows and swords flew but the wounds were healed very quickly. Coruth’tae used a Hypnotism spell to convince one of the scrags to “take a swim” – and it did so – swimming further into the water! The rest of us fought a defensive retreat away from the shore line and into the cave proper.

A third one, bigger, over half a ton, decidedly female and a glint of genius in her beady black eyes watched the group from the limit of our light range, hands on haunches. Olthar tried to speak to her, but she either didn’t understand the wood elf or deigned to not answer. A fourth one came out, approaching us with a large bag in one hand. The one from the water emerged healed now and ran at us, running over caltrops while doing so, allowing us to get a good series of blows against it. It grew weaker and eventually fell but not before wounding a good number of the group.

The female scrag laughed at us and turned back walking into the water and away. We tried to skewer the scrag with the bag and the druid got lucky piercing it – it was filled with water. It grew wroth at that and hit the druid a few times hard, biting him deeply. We plied our efforts and in short order the 2nd scrag was dispatched. Gwyn doused the two of them with oil and set them ablaze while the group looked around more.

Just north of us was a depression in the stone floor filled with some oily skuzzy looking water. Damian went to stick his hand in and was immediately beset with lamprey like leeches attaching to his glove. He peeled off the garment and it fell back in the pool. Ok – don’t touch the pool. Beyond the pool to the north was the cave wall and some sort of depression. We looked it over and both Zoltan and Olthar fanned out to the extreme right and left to listen for any other scrags (or anything else).

Along the north wall just past the pool was a natural depression in the rock the scrags was using as a larder/pantry. An efflusivant mass of rotting fish, decaying flesh, moldy algae and slurry-like vegetation was stacked across the floor and on low stone shelves. The reek was like nothing ever scented before. But Damian thought he saw something in the back of the larder and opted to run in. Detheron thought it wasn’t a good idea but the headstrong paladin covered his face with his cloak and held his breath and ran in.

In four steps he collapsed to his knees, vomiting his guts out, overcome by the reek and stench and knocked out. The group stood outside the depression, none of them daring to chance the horrendous stink. Eventually it was decided on Gwyn using his grappling hook and a few tosses got it around the heavily armored paladin. It took two of them to pull him out over the slurry like oily floor only once he was free did they note that in their yanking had actually sunk the grapple into his shoulder near his neck. Detheron had to pull it free after soaking the paladin with all his water to wash off the filth and it wasn’t until he was mostly finished in patching up his shoulder that Damian regained consciousness.

He told us that before he passed out, in the back of the depression, was a drow with what seemed to be two long silvered swords in his waist. Zoltan took a look and sure enough, the keen eyed gypsy backed up Damian’s claim. Detheron wanted nothing to do with it and suggested we just move on, but the greed of the group took over and they wanted the silvered swords. But no was going to go back in (although Damian offered to – getting shot down).

We settled on a plan where we used Arnog’s 20’ length of entangling rope attached to regular rope and had the entire thing tossed in where it roped around the dead drow. Damian offered to pull the body out and the rest of the group all moved FAR away to not be near while this went on. The paladin pulled slowly, muscle and flesh sloughing off the bloated corpse, but it did come free. He then reached down and grabbed the swords – and got nailed with rot grubs.

The hateful creatures dug through his glove and burrowed into his flesh, two of them making their way in. He took out his knife and stabbed himself in the wrist trying to kill them while he was dancing around and yelling for help. He got lucky while wounding himself and did manage to kill one of them, but the other had come up to his bicep and he was having a difficult time hitting it. In his mad gyrations he accidentally stomped in the oily puddle – and got two of the lamprey like leech creatures on his feet, flopping about wildly as he was cursing and yelling and shouting.

Arnog grabbed for the leeches and pulled them free while Detheron used quick thinking and was able to cut the other rot grub away before it got too close to Damian’s chest. We healed up with what LITTLE was left, the group strung out and tired (it’s been a long day since seeing Jarul and then killing Yasmina, stealing a boat, sailing and pedaling, sinking dwarves, dropping down here, more water adventures, scrags, and finally this) and debated where we were going to try and hole up next.

According to Zoltan and Olthar, along the northern wall there were three potential caves - one was water logged and most likely where the bigger female scrag had gone, one was dry, and a third was wide but had some sort of troll sounds faintly coming down it. There might be other places but we have no idea how big this cavern is and maybe more exploring at this point when we are so light on resources isn't a good idea.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Meet 77, Adv 8, 9/26/09

Sometimes it's nice to change things up and introduce a new way of running chases/combat/adventuring to the group - as I had done this meeting. Wanted a boat chase across the sea with 3 distant dwarven vessels harrying the party as they made a made dash and run for the opposite shore.

And my players took to this very well, and then immediately took apart what "framework" I had around the encounter and looked for loopholes and exploits - and I couldn't have been happier. I WANT my players to feel challenged and to think outside the box. I don't have an adversarial relationship with my players (it's been over a decade and a half since I was a "killer DM") and the goal is for everyone to have fun at the table.

Fizzstone was there for bursts of speed and to triple the range of the harpoon - simple enough, it gets wet it spews air concentratedly for a full minute - the more you use, the bigger the explosion of compressed air. My players thought well and found ways to use the chase to their advantage: Turning the harpoon gun around (instead of a 180 degree arc), sleet storm spells over enemy open footlockers, lightning bolts (turning to ball lightning) under the water, using a Run spell to negate the exhaustion rolls on 2 of the characters, the dried fungus was VERY flammable, using their own bows, hell - even a FLAMING sphere in the middle of the other boats!

So what happened was they dominated the underground sea and took out all 3 enemy boats, and then neutralized the flying mage (who had sent the group running for their life 1 adventure earlier) and had done terrible damage to the 4th and final boat. However, the same benefits they had gotten by closing with the enemy vessels and using their large gamut of spells and skills also was used against them in this manner: flaming arrows and a devastating Charm Person spell on a fighter type - not known for their Will saves.

So this brings them to what I call the 4th level of Dargan's Folly, the Catacombs. A truly fun old-school dungeon crawl that will gear up the party, test their characters as players - not as skill checks, get some xp and levels under their belt, and answer some questions that have come up before they leave the underground at long last and return to the sunlit world and the "normal" thread of the adventure.

Write up follows:

We went in force to talk to Grix, checking over our supplies and equipment one last time. Damian was loathe to speak to the goblin Burghermeister, but once convinced it was our only choice, relented. On the way there was a large gathering of goblins gathered around a thirty count of acolytes performing some ablation to Odin, the All-Father, near the statue of the same god. The party could have gone through the crowd but feeling that it was not a smart idea were planning out other ways to get where they needed to. Cutting through back alleys was dropped and eventually it was decided to skirt the crowd and stay north near the Spider Paddocks.

The reek of arachnids was heavy and redolent but the group stayed outside the press of greenskins and made their way to Goblin Row. At the manor house they entered and went right to Grix’s office. A pair of goblins stood guard and one of them was willing to announce the party for 10 crowns. Asking the other one, he just did so, which had the two goblins fighting; even more so once a golden coin was tossed to the friendlier of the two.

Grix was willing to talk and told us most of what we had learned from Jarul. The name of the vessel was the Drooling Queen and that Yikzarch didn’t want Kashtir to send anymore of his Duergar over here. The group needed to leave and leave soon. We found out the name of the contact across the sea at the northern tip of the Outsider’s island, and the name of the contact at the gnomish encampment beyond there.

Our mission was to take the boat, maneuver our way across the sea, dock at the Duergar village (or park in the open sewer grate if the dock looked unsafe), stay for a few hours and then get smuggled across the larger part of the sea to the Gnomish area. Grix admitted he had told Yasmina about us before but that he was warning the party now – she was gunning for them – coming to his office 3 times in the last same number of hours.

Kashtir sent a patrol of 20 Duergar over here about 5 hours ago; and 2 hours ago, another patrol of 20 heavily armed and magi types came. They were patrolling Byfortvile looking to find what they could of the party. The feeling was that more patrols would come and it would be a matter of time before they would find the party, someone would turn the party over, or Yikzarch would dispatch his own goblin forces to fight the Duergar. That was what the acolytes of Odin were doing; praying to the All-Father for guidance and strength in what they felt was going to be the upcoming battle.

We left Grix’s office and once out at the street discussed quickly our plans. We were going to make it to the 2nd dock where the boat was holed up. Zoltan was made invisible by Coruth’tae, and the gypsy thief took the two wood elves with him, walking point some 60, 70 feet ahead of the rest of the group, relying on his bardic skill to whisper a warning back should it be needed.

We stayed down Goblin Row to the Aquifer and then went near the Ironbeard Stalagmite. It was Soren’s keen eyes that picked up the drow sitting on the stairs some 50’ up the spire’s side. At that moment the rest of the group couldn’t see him, and the drow didn’t know the elves were part of the party. Zoltan, invisible, kept his hands on the elves’ shoulders and told them to keep going, cutting near the vermin farm. He whistled a quick message spell and whispered back to Detheron what he had seen and the stay back and wait.

The other group heard Detheron’s relayance and they stopped near the corner of the Raging Horn for more instructions. But it was Soren who once again spotted the next threat – Yasmina herself in red leather standing in the shadows near the side of the Vermin Farm. Zoltan pushed the elves ahead and once they rounded the corner, the invisible thief snuck up behind the drow, both his blades drawn and poisoned – and stabbed her twice. She succumbed to the sleep poison but it was a quick slash across the throat the finished her off.

He tried to prop her up against the fence and hid behind her, looking to see if the drow on the Stalagmite noticed anything – he didn’t. Meanwhile Gwyn had loaded up his own crossbow with a quarrel, liberally dosed with Wyvern venom. With a touch from Damian and Detheron, each of the holy men calling on their gods to guide the dwarf’s aim, he stepped four paces up, took aim, and shot the drow male off his perch. He fell down the stalagmite, rolling to a stop at the bottom with a crunch and the group swarmed forward quickly.

They picked him up and walked quickly towards where the other three had been – the two elves and Zoltan already dragging Yasmina into a cul-de-sac and were stripping the drowess of her belongings. The two groups rejoined and stripping the bodies of all valuables left them in the dark alley in a lover’s embrace and went quickly down the street toward the docks.

Beyond a boat builders a pair of Ogres were watching the party but said nothing, instead flinging rats at a far wall and dragging the rodents back with cord tied around the vermin’s tail. The group went to the docks where 4 boats were tied up – identifying the Drooling Queen quickly. The boats were made of some sort of huge fungus coated with a clear resin and then affixed with brass plates along the sides and bottom. A set of 4 pedals were situated to power the two screws sticking out the back, a rudder in position for someone in the rear two seats to drive.

Over the screw shafts were brass chambers with a wheel lock. There was a box on the bottom of the boat with a latched top, within was about 30#’s of some sort of pumice looking off white stone. There was also a harpoon gun on the front of the boat with another one of those strange chambers and wheel locks in it. A thin barrel with 10 harpoons was there and two coils of 250’ cabled rope. The other boats seemed similarly outfitted (along with a 4 count of metal pails presumably for bailing should need be), and Detheron who had some boat experience in his youth announced that the vessels were sea worthy. Each boat could handle 10 easily and we loaded on carefully looking the situation over.

Some of the rock was taken and tossed in the water where it hissed and smoked and popped. Gwyn told us it was Fizzstone and was normally used in deep mines for quick oxygen where deep miners would drip water on the rock to supply fresh breathable air. The group then deduced the stone was used to add a burst of speed and power to the screws as well as power the harpoon gun.

It was at that moment that Zoltan noticed a 4 count of Duergar were talking to the two ogres – who were pointing to the docks we were still at. Time to go! We cut the ropes and Damian, Arnog, Detheron, and Gwyn began pedaling. We left the docks and the dwarves ran down yelling for us to come back. Arrows and spells met them and we pedaled away while an alarm was shouted out and Duergar in the distance ran towards the docks.

A couple pounds of the Fizzstone were added to the screw chambers and then closed – and the water seeping in through the shaft chamber hit the stone and a burst of steady speed hit the vessel as it lurched forward and reared a bit out of the water- putting distance between us and the dock and a boatload of pursuing dwarves. Zoltan turned the harpoon gun around and loaded up one, readying the chamber with a bit of Fizzstone. Our 4 pedalers were doing great and the gap between us and the dwarves was widening.

A few harpoons were shot back and forth but Zoltan got a good blow on the other ship as Detheron readied a spell, calling on Frey to let loose a Sleet Storm. The driving cold rain tore over the Duergar boat – hit the Fizzstone locker, and blew the center of the boat sky high. Duergar went flying and the other ship sunk beneath the waves. The party cheered.

As they pedaled on Coruth’tae read off a run spell from his pages and hit both Gwyn and Detheron with it – making the two of them able to pedal onward without growing weary! Good job! Another boat had loaded up and was giving chase and it seemed a 3rd was getting ready to shove off. The space between us was widening now to some 500’ feet and harpoon shots were flying wide. One of them did get lucky and blasted through the side of our vessel and hit Damian. The paladin tore the spear out and handed it up toward Zoltan while Gwyn used his bedroll to plug up the hole in the side of the fungus boat. Olthar began bailing as a little water seeped in.

Detheron readied another Sleet Storm while Zoltan took careful aim and blasted the enemy’s Fizzstone locker! Again cold rain drove down and the blast hit the dwarves – but not enough to sink the other boat.

Arnog and Damian were growing very tired, the constant pedaling wearying them down. They began to miss the beat of the pedals and the party’s boat, over half way now to the island, was not going forward as fast as before. And then the other boat had something happen and a spell was cast – as they Dimension Doored forward some 300 feet – VERY close to the party! Damn!

Zoltan took aim and harpooned the enemy Duergar mage on the other boat while Soren and Olthar shot other unarmored Duergar, assuming them to be mages as well. Missile fire and spell work took the other ship apart and it was in no time before it sunk beneath the waves, ablaze and floundering with the terrified Duergar yelling for help.

At this point the group WANTED to go after the other fungus boat. Using an illusion of the ship having a wall behind it (ridiculous of course, but it WAS supposed to be) they actually turned around and closed the distance to the other ship. Zoltan had turned the harpoon gun back to normal and the group stayed behind the illusion which made it seem like they were much further away. As the distance grew smaller and smaller it wasn’t until it was under 60’ and then the party let loose. Lightning bolts tore through the ship’s bottom, harpoons ripped the side off, crossbows and arrows peppered yelling dwarves – but it was Detheron’s Flaming Sphere that ate the center of the ship and set the dwarves ablaze. It broke apart and sunk and Soren shot a couple of still swimming dwarves – leaving one alive to “continue the legend”.

Turning back around we went on our way unbothered toward the Duergar encampment, the distance closing. At roughly 3-400’ from the docks we noticed a flying Duergar wizard coming closer, at the same time rounding the far end of the island’s hook was another fungus boat, loaded with 10 furiously pedaling and angry looking dark dwarves.

We used what Fizzstone we had and powered the boat forward at the same time that Zoltan took aim with the harpoon gun, landing and incredible shot – ON the flying dwarf! The flying dwarf turned away and was struggling to get back to land while the rest of the group poured it on. Detheron changed his direction and angled not for the docks anymore, but the 15’ wide sewer opening we could see like a culvert under the city.

Harpoon was shot at the boat, ripping into the side of it and opening a fresh rent. Olthar and Soren took to bailing while Zoltan turned the harpoon gun around and readied another bolt. We were getting close and Coruth’tae let fly a lightning bolt under the other dwarven boat, lifting the vessel up but not sinking it. Two of the dwarves fired flaming arrows at our boat and Zoltan harpooned theirs. Their harpoon just missed ours and we pedaled hard when one of the other dwarves cast Charm Person on Arnog – and had the party’s fighter kick in the side of our boat!

Gwyn struggled to knock Arnog out, the fighter knocking large holes in the side of the fungus boat, water rushing in. Detheron tried to Flaming Sphere the other vessel but the dwarves were able to constantly bail the fire and in the subsequent mess, we just missed the side of the culvert, the stone wall tearing sheets of brass off our boat, the fungus growing sodden and soft. The boat shuddered and we slipped forward into some sort of crack in the culvert and the Drooling Queen broke apart and we were sucked down the whirlpool; cold dark water splashing against our faces as we slipped under.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Meet 76, Adv 8, 9/19/09

I like demons, and unfortunately never get much opportunity to use them in my games. At some point it becomes a one-upmanship and the flavor of the campaign gets a bit skewed. However, from way back 2 years ago, I had sketched out the rough plot of the campaign and KNEW that demons would make some appearance in the game. (ie: the author of the 2 grimoires: Necordius and Thakulis).

I was going to make sure that the limits would be put in place and not get a horde of Demons coming up and in to take over the world in a growing swell of the damned. This campaign was Slaver/Mage oriented - and the appearance of the damned would only add to the story, not become it.

So the group met one, and got a slimy feel from him (er..the slimy man!) and then there was some Manes (I think of them as demonic kobolds) who never fight in groups of 6 or 10, but in hordes of 60, 100, or 150, and finally this meeting their first encounter with a Vrock. The weakest of the "Type" demons, I played him true to his skills and abilities and he was VERY cunning - but not "intelligent" - and he gave the party a large and painful time. There was no real TPK threat - but he was dynamic (teleport every round, attempt to gate in another Vrock every round, globe of darkness every round, see invisible (didn't come up), telekinesis 200# every round, AND 5 attacks every round!) and really tested the party's ability.

I am sorry to see the group Byforteville soon but know they want to move on to other places. And other places are waiting for them in the dark shadows under the stone of the earth.

Write up follows:

Both Arnog and Damian came to the front, weapons at the ready, and they opened the door. It was a sizeable chamber, cold and chilly, done up in themes of yellow and grey. A heavy chair of some sort of lumpy stone was near the shadow clad bulk of a stone slab with a partially eviscerated goblin bound on top of it. A moment passed and then a 9’ tall vulture like humanoid stood from behind the slab and squawked at the party. At that the shadows before us took on form and we were assaulted.

The fighters did battle with the shades while Damian tried to charge the vulture demon. Gwyn shot at it but his blow was ineffective. The paladin’s blade fell with the fury of Baldur and smote the foe, tearing through his flesh and drawing black ichorous blood. There was some jockeying in the hall as the group tried to race past the shadows, most of their weapons failing to strike the beasts. Then from the OPPOSITE side of the room, bow fire sung out and the vulture was struck from there!

Zoltan used Gwyn’s crossbow while the dwarf had his own bowstring snap. Arnog tore through the closest shadow, his blade tearing it to shreds. Meanwhile Damian was yanked into the room from the demon’s telekinetic pull and a globe of darkness fell on him. Then the demon portaled into the heart of the group and tore into Coruth’tae, his ensorcelled protection wavering but still holding.

The mystery bowman was trying to jump in to help but his cover (a pair of tower shields) were yanked telekinetically in front of him and sent careening through the air to slam into Damian. Zoltan switched to his silver sickle, Detheron pulled out his enchanted pillow and began beating shadows – actually killing one (the pillow IS ostensibly +5)! The air around the demon wavered as it tried to gate in another one, to no avail.

Damian emerged from the ball of darkness and coated his blade with the vial of Sif’s Tears ready to do battle but a telekinetic pull had his blade torn from his grasp and thrown across the room! The mystery bowman, running towards the group, was yelling for help as a shadow tried to tear into him. Arnog intervened; getting hit himself but badly wounding the shade. The bowman picked up the blade.

The party struck at the demon as well as they could but their blows were turned aside by its thick hide and otherworldly flesh. It pointed at the chair and the heavy furniture slammed into Olthar, pinning the young thief under its considerable weight. The demon portalled away this time into the room and hit the group near Detheron again. Gwyn switched to Elfsplitter while Detheron was able to hit another shadow, shredding it apart.

A globe of darkness fell on Damian again as the demon portalled back into the hall, slamming the chair BACK on Olthar who just managed to shove it off of himself. And the air behind it shimmered and another Vrock appeared in a blast of brimstone and fire. Fuck.

The group redoubled their efforts and took to setting themselves up tactically against walls and in pairs, eventually taking down the 1st one and wounding the 2nd. Arnog tried to grapple with the Vrock but it portalled WITH the fighter and tore into his armor and flesh – but the group was ready and Zoltan, Coruth’tae, Damian, and Gwyn fell on the vulture demon before it could portal one last time and slayed it at long last.

We tended to our wounded and came into the chamber, shutting the trapped door behind us. The mystery bowman was named Soren and was a slave that Olthar had freed about 2 months ago and had been running with him around the 3 baronies until a portal had pulled everyone (it seemed) down here. He fell into a city with Duergar who took him in and helped outfit him. They were working against Kashtir and could use an elf of his bow skills. He kept his ears and eyes open for any sign of Olthar, eventually hearing of it. Purchasing a scrap of a map from one of King Yikzarch’s supporters, he came to this place hoping to find his friend and savior but was turned aside by the deep pool under Bruhndi and was going out to find another way through when the shadows attacked him and drained him to unconsciousness. He awoke to the sounds of battle and joined the party forthwith.

Olthar spoke of Soren and the two of them corroborated each other’s stories. We looked over the chamber and looked at his map, also relying on Zoltan’s remembrance of the Sifian angel’s warning of what was ahead. Supposedly an altar to Orcus was in the next room and we were going to go onward when Zoltan wanted to look around. He discovered a hollow under the slab and the party shoved the stone aside. Inside was a gold plated goblin skull fashioned like a drinking horn, a golden 12” statue of a coy succubus, a book clad in elven skin and a small sack that when opened had almost 300 platinum bars. Platinum. Holy smokes! Some of the party members took a vial or two of the Vrock’s blood (just in case) and we readied ourselves to move on.

The book was evil (according to Damian) and he took hold of it (even though Coruth’tae REALLY wanted to look at it) and Zoltan snagged the bag of money and the mug. We moved on and saw the next room as described by Soren. There was a VERY evil looking altar complete with bowl of rotting maggot covered pits of crud, candles, braziers, oil, goblet of blood, and above it a larger than life-sized depiction of Orcus with huge curling ram’s horns that stuck over the altar. It looked down and had an opened mouth.

Yes, it was evil. No one was allowed to screw with it or touch it (even though Damian pulled out the sledge and was ready to start whacking). There was something about burning tongue, horns and Sifian sword. Hmm. We did note that according to Damian the altar was evil, but the statue head above it was not part of the altar. The mouth was looked at – was hollow and emptyish. The party was expecting it to fire off flames and no one wanted to step in front on it.

Eventually Zoltan decided to climb the wall NEXT to it and climb ONTOP of the statue head, both of his feet on the bald head, his hands braced on the ceiling. He stepped on one horn, it went down 9 inches and then back up. Nothing. He did the other, same thing. Suggestions came out rapid fire. He tried both and nothing happened- but he DID feel something click in the wall against his back! Ah ha! There was something back there...but how?

Then the group went back (at Soren’s suggestion) to pouring something in the statue’s mouth. A flask of oil was used (Gwyn wanted to take the oil from the altar but decided against it) and then set alight. After it was burning Zoltan then hit both horns – click – and the entire 10’ section of wall slid out to the right, pivoting to reveal a 10’ square room. There was a pair of sickly green glowing circles and pentagrams, a bronze broadsword in the center. Both Detheron and Coruth’tae told us they were warding circles – and from the runes were protection from LAW and GOOD.

The group thought about this until Gwyn took out his grapple, sprinkled it with demon’s blood, and dropped it through the circle and over the sword. Then Damian took the rope and pulled the sword free. He took it and Gwyn took his grapple back. As the oil guttered out in the statue’s mouth the wall slid closed and Zoltan jumped down.

We were faced with two ways out, Soren came from the left. The warning said the right was wrong and had walking dead and shouldn’t go there. Ok – we didn’t! Going left we walked some 30’ or so to the door out on the left hand side (Soren verified it), but there was a simple chain and lock on it (which was NOT there before!). Using the key Soren had Zoltan opened the door and then he FELT/HEARD something scrabbling at the wall in the back of the hall. Damn it – the Manes were coming.

We ran into the room, 20’ square, while Damian slammed the door closed and spiked it. There was building equipment down here and in the back, 11’ overhead was a hole that led out to the surface, a metal mining ladder attached to the wall inside. The group reacted fast, half of them using sawhorses and lumber to make a platform and then one on top of it. Zoltan scrambled up and using Gwyn’s grapple and rope, hooked it on the bottom rung and then climbed up and out of the room up the chimney.

Something slammed into the door from outside and we heard clamoring for our souls. Soren was next and the ranger made it his way out. Detheron cast reduce animal on his tiger as Olthar went next. The door was forced open slightly and Coruth’tae shot a lightning bolt down the hall, vaporizing the hording manes. Damian and Gwyn spiked the door again as Detheron was hoisted up and with tiger on shoulders was next out of the room. Arnog helped Gwyn up there and the dwarf was next as the Manes were once more in the hall. There was rock dust falling from the walls and the grey elf went next, scrabbling for safety.

Damian told Arnog to go and the fighter clapped hands on the paladin’s shoulder and climbed up next. The door was shoved in and demonic hands and arms were reaching through. Damian hacked at the limbs with Bruhndi’s sword, the strange blade compelling him briefly to stay and kill more demons. It was his friends calling him and his own will that had him resheathing the sword and making his way out, pulling up the rope and grapple and kicking the stacked sawhorses over.

We made it to the streets and shut the storm drain, sliding both of the pin locks into the grate and thanking our stars for getting out alive. At this time we brought Zoltan up to speed on where we were and what was going on, the highlights of Byfortvile and how we came to be here. We reidentified our goals which were to get with Grix/Yikzarch and arrange to get the way to Dragonhole, make it to the surface, Take out Vanir, take out the rejelling Lycos Suns, Get to Principia and find the unicorn’s head (Detheron’s geas), take down Djohrgahd.

We went to the Raging Horn and rested, awakening later to feeling better and stronger and our equipment cleaned thanks to Coruth’tae’s skills. From here we went to see the Splitskulls and Jarul first since we were very close to them. Our visit went well and Jarul told us that our names have come to Kashtir – and the Duergar Thane might be reacting to them soon. The time to leave the goblin city was coming up. A ship was going to be at the closer western dock that would be “available for the next 12 hours” – this was our chance to get away. We had to take the ship across the Underground Sea westward to the northern tip of the Outsider’s isle where a “slum” was situated – a home to Duergar NOT loyal to Kashtir. From there they would smuggle us across the water again to a gnomish settlement where we would meet someone who would guide us out.

We need the name from Grix/Yikzarch to make this happen and it was next on our list. Before going Jarul was offering to sell us some of the contraband stuff he had – at 2 to 5 times normal price. Zoltan took advantage of it, unfortunately finding some of his ORIGINAL gear up for sale! He had to buy his own stuff again which was a bit disconcerting, but the entire group grabbed food, oil, equipment and we paid for it (most from the diamonds that Zoltan had found on the dead drow he had “stripped” of belongings). And that’s where we ended the meeting, on our way to see Grix and hopefully get out of Byfortvile.