When I designed the 2nd level of Dargan's Folley, it was in two obvious parts: a lightly patrolled side with all the goodies and wandering monsters and level 3-6 junk I like to put in there (who doesn't like owlbears?) - and a more militarized side with gnolls and goblins.
Gnolls to me are really decent monsters because they are generally lightly armored, tall and strong, and given the right makeup can be a cake walk or a tough nut. They don't have the collosal hit points of ogres and aren't as much of push overs as hobgoblins (which I rarely use - too many 1-3 HD monsters I always felt).
But I digress - knowing that some adventuring parties will spend WEEKS going over an area and glomming every stray copper common they run across behind stoves and under seats, the first part of this level was pretty well described. But it was mostly just stuff. Normal stuff. Things that were left behind a century and a half ago by departing dwarves, pawed over by wandering beasties, looted by goblins, then Dargan's people 50 years ago, and then the Phantom Blades (Vanir's adventuring group - BBG) 10 years ago, and then maybe 4 years ago again by the now transplanted gnolls.
There was not going to be much there. And any group would have to work to find it, what little was there, except for the troves (small) I hid behind runelocked doors.
So this was the 2nd time the party went to crawl around the "shops" and look about for little treasures. And I was able to spring an Otyugh on them (Fabambus aka Amityville Mike from Pole and Rope http://poleandrope.blogspot.com/ specially loved monster) as well as some cave fishers and a cat and mouse game with a Slithering Tracker until they realized that this was a bad idea and they should just find the runelocked doors instead.
And for that, I am very happy. Now for the parts of the adventure to hit them that I have been holding in abbeyance for the last 5 months or so. XP's will be rocketing up their character sheets real soon and real fast - or they'll be running away again. :) (cue Benny Hill's Yakkity Sax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spz8_rpE0e0)
Write up follows:
There was talk about what to do next, where to go, and what places did we see the “D” runes in. It was eventually decided that we would go to the “sleeping wall” and try to work past the Lyreth ward there. So Karis used the runekey, opened the door…
And roughly a half dozen goblins who live in the area watched a doorway open that had never been breached before and our party walk out. They clamored around and their gravely voices attracted other goblins to come and see. How did we open it? Fabambus, speaking their language, flat out lied and told them it was already opened and they were here looking around for Sakath. Some of the goblins entered the Heimdall temple but when Karis walked out taking the runekey, the door reappeared and sealed a 4 count of the 30 or so goblins in the area inside.
Get it open! We couldn’t (lied). What are we going to do? Some of the goblins said they were going to get Shegdu the smith and others suggested to go to Sakath. The party thought quick and abandoning the idea of working their way into the Lyreth warded area for now, they said that Sakath was this way (towards the back of the area and back through the sloping corridor) and that the group should go tell him what happened.
About half a dozen goblins came with the group as they left the goblin area of Wodenvarelse behind and trudged up the sloping corridor, past the owlbear den, and into the street. And then Fabambus slapped a Sleep spell out and the goblins, except for 1, fell asleep. Flarg took down the lone goblin and then started hacking up the slumbering ones and the group debated what to do next.
It was voted on leaving the goblin and gnoll areas alone for some time and wander the “city” portion in an effort to find whatever runelocked doors were there and open them. We remembered that the guard post in the Grand Hall (where what had been deemed the salt shaker was) was Runelocked and there was a runelocked door in the back of it, as well as another guard post near there.
The smaller rune door opened, but only into the back alleys of the streets. But the other guard room opened up to show no salt shaker, but a glass container with another of those spellstones within, red, glowing, and shot through with black lines.
We then went down some of the streets we hadn’t been on before, looking for other runelocked areas. One of the places was very filthy and there was fresh garbage strewn all about it, a midden. The group wanted to avoid it and with good reason, except Fabambus and then Flarg both inexorably wanted to GO to the midden! Karis tried to stop them near the edge of the garbage pit. However the gnome and the bugbear looked at each other as if hearing something only they could sense, and chucked the half ogre into the pit!
Karis was not amused and was asking for help and the two friends were unsure WHY they had done that. But a tentacle came out of the garbage and looked at Karis through large purplish eyes and then something IN the muck began nibbling on his foot. Rope was tossed in and the party tried to pull him free but there was not a concentrated effort and the party was rather unfocused and Karis was now being eaten under the trash.
Just then Fodder was attacked by a large spider that had snuck out in the confusion from another shop and pressed fangs and poison into the wolfkin. Detheron was torn and Smokey ran to help out his friend. A giant 20’ boa was summoned and it landed on two of the spider that were approaching, 2 more still unmolested.
Karis drew sword and began hacking into the garbage and the upper half of an Otyugh emerged, the half ogre’s lacerated leg and foot dangling inside its toothy maw. Asgirda leapt into the garbage and tried hacking the Otyugh’s thick hide with her picks. It slammed its tentacles around. Bow fire was sent and Fabambus accidentally shot Karis in the leg!
Flarg jumped into the mess to help and the Otyugh was badly outmatched and tried to burrow deep down but Karis was furious and didn’t relent until the filthy creature was slain.
Meanwhile the last of the spiders was dispatched and Fodder was poisoned and in bad shape. Detheron was trying to heal his wolfkin and Karis was demanding his own healing, his leg barely held on and no feeling from his mid calf down. Then he took the jar on unguent and dumped 2/3rd of it over his torn up leg and the stress of it was so great the half ogre passed out.
The party tried to save the unguent but most of it had been spilt. And Karis’ leg was missing muscle, sinew, and tendon from the calf down – he was lame. They took out the precious Potion of Regeneration and poured it down his throat. His leg reknit properly and old scars and wounds faded away. He awoke but there was not much happiness as this little fiasco cost them an irreplaceable Potion of Regen and some 30 doses of healing unguent.
We wandered the area and felt at a loss, unsure if this was a good idea and perhaps we were doing something wrong. As we were going from shop to shop, Fabambus’ keen ears heard something following us, slithering. We could see nothing. What was it? We waited and looked and eventually the idea was hatched that if it was invisible, a downburst of rain would reveal it. Detheron called on a precipitation spell and we saw something, oilslick like and maybe 4’ oval and gliding away from the water.
The group shot over it but his nothing until someone thought to shoot the SLICK itself – and that resulted in hitting the creature which was the slick! Fabambus told us it was a slithering tracker and was some sort of semi-intelligent ooze that would follow us and try to kill us in our sleep. We had to kill it now! More shots were sent but it was fast and as it was dodging into a shop, Detheron hit it with a Faerie Fire Spell – allowing us to see it for the next hour.
We charged in and saw it going out the back door, the arrows still in it sliding out. Karis and Coruth’tae were on it’s back, pulling the door open, and saw it cutting left and then seemed to get VERY flat and moved slowly. Karis realized it was under a gelatinous cube and had the grey and him get back into the shop and shut the door swiftly.
They ran into the street and went up another alley, hoping to cut it off but they didn’t see it in the alley anymore. The party wanted to make sure it was dead and the opted to quickly check out the nearest 4 shops as the creature couldn’t have gotten too far. The 1st 3 shops were a bust but the 4th shop that was opened, Karis was hit by two cave fishers, their long muscular tongues pulling the mighty half ogre into the shop.
He pulled out his dagger and began hacking at one of the tongues, cutting it free. Some missile fire happened, and then Fabambus sent a stinking cloud into the shop and the two cave fishers were squirming and gasping in nauseous pain. Coruth’tae noticed a telltale glow coming from the front of the shop as the slithering tracker ran under the front door and tried to get away. He dodged into the street and using his wand of shadows, began spell blasting the ooze. It charged him trying to get him, but the mage’s armor spell deflected even a casual touch and a last spell blast tore it to shreds and the Slithering Tracker was finished.
The group reconvened and decided that this was dangerous and foolish. We should not be going shop to shop as we were risking death and worse. Fabambus said the dwarves had a love of symmetry and there might be two guard room on the other side of the Grand Hall and we should go there to look for “D” runes. So we crossed the Grand Concourse and sure enough, there were 2 guard posts there – but neither one was “D” runed. Hmm.
Since we had not looked down any of the southern streets except for the 3rd one, we looked on the 1st one for any runelocked doors, our stomachs growling and bodies growing weary. About half way down we found a shop that had been rune locked and a quick administration of the Runekey had us enter the former shop and work area of Wodenvarelse’s Master Engineer.
There were detailed drawings on yellowing parchment curling on the walls, tools, knives, weights, measures, styluses, and logs and books. Karis closed the door with the Runekey and the party decided that this was good a place as any to hole up, eat, and rest. They looked over the drawings and a few applications of a mending cantrip had them in better repair to take off the walls. Dwarven designs beyond anything anyone had ever seen before of tools and machinery. One of them was of a series of bridges and the group realized that it was the same bridges that cross the chasm down here.
After studying them, there was discovered a way to collapse the mighty spans – turning the statues at the front of each so they face each other would have the bridges fall. Good to know! We also looked over the other things in here and took a large pile of tomes, a 15 book set on engineering written in dwarvish and in good repair.
After sleeping and waking up feeling MUCH better, we prayed, studied, and readied ourselves for the next day, hoping to go and visit other shops down here with runekeys and eventually going back to the gnoll side to look around there. We left the engineer’s office and picked our way through the alleys to the next street. But we heard sounds. Gnoll voices. Lots of them. Walking about.
We doused the lantern and the party grew silent, waiting. The gnolls (maybe a dozen or more, along with the reek of their shocker lizards) were seemingly patrolling – something they had not done during any of our visits down here so far – at least on this side of the chasm. They were looking up the 2nd street, went to the Grand Concourse, and then down the 1st street – the one we had just vacated. They stopped at what we assumed was the engineer’s office and we heard casual knocking and noises – but then they stopped and moved on.
We listened and the patrol moved back to the Grand Concourse and eventually grew fainter…until there were lots of excited shouting and gnollish voices. What did they find? What was across the Concourse? Did we leave something there? At that point we remembered that Detheron had stone shaped the wall open at one of the Rune-locked areas, the one with the 10’ tall metal “thing” with the copper looking fan on top. From the excited gnoll voices, it was obvious they had discovered it. We couldn’t speak the language but we heard Sakath’s name a few times and the patrol was sending bodies back to the bridge and assumingly getting more.
We deduced that some of the goblins had alerted the gnolls to what had happened concerning the runelocked door and who we were and some patrol was sent out to check other runelocked doors to see if they were opened. And the gnolls had indeed found it. And now the gnolls were coming to investigate and even Sakath was being called.
The party thought on what to do and how to go about it, as the number of gnolls arriving in the dark hall was getting more numerous and excited. And then the group said, “Say, the throne room must be empty. Let’s go check it out! The gnolls are mustering over here – it should be much easier for us to walk around.” There were lots of thumbs up on this and the group, area lit by Coruth’tae’s Light spell, ran off through back alleys and side roads until they came to the sloping corridor and stopped just short of the gnoll area.
Fabambus used an Invisibility spell, already under the effects of arun spell, and then fired off a Locate Object spell – and ran down the large road looking for Runekeys. Chuckle. The speedy gnome found one. Two. Three. And then he was at the end of the road, Sakath’s throne room on the left, a few bored gnolls standing there. He waited and saw only a couple of gnolls belting on leather and brigandine and running towards the main road. He smiled and came back to the group, revealing all he learned.
The party was psyched and wanted to go to Sakath’s Throne room as this would be the best opportunity to do so and avoid as much of a combat as possible. We ended it here, the group entering the street and heading towards the Throne Room.