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, June 24, 2009

Meet 69, Adv 8, 6/13/09

One of the issues about splitting the groups is the habit of Meta-gaming - importing knowledge into one character group that they couldn't have because they weren't part of the other group.

There was a long pause by the halfling thief when he realized that the mound of statues he was looking at was the same mound of statues his alter ego had passed 6-7 hours earlier in game time - going the other way. The 2nd group has no idea that he 1st group is down here - nor do they know that that said group is on the way down to the 3rd level. So it was with some gritting of teeth that the halfling led the 2nd party towards the collapsed stairs.

Now, the stairs were destroyed, but I assumed that one of the parties would attempt to get out no matter what (and truth be told, there was a set of armor in the Dwarven area that had the ability to impart flight - which could have had someone ferrying people from bottom to top - the party never found it). The glyphs were decided on afterwards in response to the "battle" the dark dwarves and gnolls were having with Adventuring group "one", but were avoidable should the party get creative and interesting (which they did).

It's going to be give and take for a bit on Detheron, Gwyn, Arnog, and Dargis to see what happens on the way "out". And I am interested in seeing how they handle this wrinkle.

Write up follows:

Karis, Coruth’tae, Spax, and Thad discussed what was the next direction to take, with the half-ogre and the elven illusionist discussing at length the possibility of going back to the goblin area and trying to get into the “Lyreth warded” area with the smooth wall – convinced that it would have some sort of treasure room behind it. The thought was that if we were going to go down to the city below, we would need some sort of coin to help us barter our way through and along.

However both Spax and Thad wanted to only get out of here and get to the surface to give Roxarn and company a good thumping. Plus they had not had a good encounter with the goblins before and there was all the possibility that the greenskins would not be nice. So we opted to work our way down before waiting too much longer.

We left Sakath’s throne room and walked our way unmolested across the ancient dwarven halls until we arrived at long last by the far west area of the city. It was here that the ceiling sloped down and the floor became uneven. There was a mounding of statues here, almost 30 of them. They were 20 feet tall and some had been brought here on their bases, others off. They were tangled amongst one another with no reason or rhyme. What were they doing here? How did they get here and why? No explanation was forthcoming so we pressed on.

Beyond the statues the hallway “T”ed – the left most fork showing MUCH greater amount of traffic. We traveled that way, the cavern much rougher hewn than the dwarven tunnels and chambers we had been in before. In a short time we heard the sound of gnoll voices up ahead, quite a few of them. As we had the phosphorous fungus above to light our way we saw the widened area at the same time that the gnolls guarding it saw us.

There were a half dozen 5’ tall walls erected across the sides of the corridor that would funnel whoever was coming through the area down the center of the cavern. A dozen gnolls were guarding the area, clad in leather breastplates with rough hewn chain sleeves. There was something on the ceiling 25’ above, massive, but in the gloom it was nothing more than a large shape.

Some parlaying occurred with the gnolls ordering us surface dwellers to go home. Spax, the only one with the ability to speak gnoll, spoke for the party, trying to barter for passage. One of the gnolls was very mouthy and insisted on 100 crowns a piece to pass. Obviously extortion, Spax offered that same amount to not kill them all. Thad stepped further back and drew his bow while the mouthy gnoll came around the wall and said something about “skewering your damned mouth closed”, his ranseur flickering in the dull light.

A 3 count of gnolls yipped and barked and ran off while others started to clamber over the wall and run forward. A few of them sent missile weapons flying and Spax was struck. Karis tried to step in front of the charging gnoll but it snuck past and stabbed the mage in the shoulder. Spax then cursed out a flame spell and a 15’ fan of fires coursed all over the gnoll’s face and chest, setting him fully ablaze as he howled; the mage walking calmly after him with the fire still coursing out of his hands.

Eventually when the fire guttered out, the other gnolls were stunned and not wanting to risk angering the mage or his friends said that it was a misunderstanding and of course the party can pass. Spax gave a retort that all he wanted to do was walk by and the gnolls gave passage (after they disabled the giant hammer trap on the ceiling).

Beyond here we took care, knowing that 3 of the gnolls had run on ahead. There was a sloping to the corridor ahead of us and a depression that was slick beneath our feet, small hillocks of stone sticking out of the inch of oil coating the ground.

And there in front of us were 3 gigantic 9’ tall spiders. Mounted on top of them were three Duergar armed with crossbows. And standing just behind them were the 3 gnolls, pointing at the party and nodding their head. The groups looked at one another and then one of the dwarves said, “They look close enough to Vanir’s description. Take them down.”

At that instant Karis charged forward across the oily pool, Thad ran backwards, and both Spax and Coruth’tae readied spells in an effort to strike the dwarves first. But the Duergar brought their crossbows to bear and when they fired them, there was a thick sparking as the bolts left the weapons and the quarrels were aflame. Coruth’tae abandoned his spell and ran for one of the small hillocks of stone while Spax ignored the rushing missiles and ground out the final words of a Fireball. It streaked away towards the dwarves and then burst – and the flaming missiles, they hit the oil.

The concussive blast immolated the gnolls, burning them badly and slaying one outright – the others broke ranks and fled screaming. The dwarves were protected from most of the blast by their mounts, who suffered horribly. But the oil ignited and Coruth’tae scrambled onto a hillock, choking in the fires and Spax was howling as he flapped the oil soaked and burned trailing end of his robes all over the place trying to get clear of the flames.

Thad fired but the arrows went wildly, not striking anything. Karis stood his ground as one of the Duergar and spiders charged at him, weapon flashing. The melee was short and brutal and he was bit but the terrible arachnid. Spax tried to jump clear of the flames but failed and landed face first in the burning oil, the fire choking in his lungs as he rolled free and slumped into semi-consciousness. Coruth’tae tried to jump from burning hillock to burning hillock but was forced to go slowly, the illusionist getting hurt in the process. Thad fired arrow after arrow, eventually killing one of the spiders and then finishing up one of the dwarves.

One of the dark dwarves hit Karis with an enfeeblement spell and then he was plastered with a Vampiric Touch, the half-ogre growing weaker. But he was already beyond normal human and his great sword took down the last of the dwarves and Thad’s bolts wiped out the last spider. Coruth’tae used his Declarig wand of healing on Spax and himself a few times and when the oil fire burned out we crossed the hot stones and healed up Karis a bit too.

We looked over the dark dwarves and their area. They seemed to have some knowledge of us and eventually we came across a letter penned almost 7 months or so ago by Vanir, describing the party and advising someone called Kashtir to take us down. We readied our selves, gathered our belongings and made our way towards the wide corridor that sloped downward into the depths of the earth and the 3rd level referred to as Byfortvile.

Meanwhile Detheron, Gwyn, Arnog, and Dargis made their way out of the gloom of the Spiderhaunt caves and back into the main portion of Dargan’s Folley after passing a pile of 20’ tall dwarven statues that had been knocked over and mounded near the back of a sloping corridor. The place seemed quiet, unlike the last time either pair had been through here. There was talk about going through the goblin portion of the caves but it was thought it would bring us too close to Shengdu the gnollish wizard-smith and the 4 adventurers just wanted to get out.

Instead it was thought we would look over at the Chasm and see if we could fight our way across the guards positioned there. It wasn’t until we got close that we learned there were NO gnolls keeping guard. None. Where were they? What happened? We cautiously picked our way over the bridge and made our way across the grand hall until we came to the shattered stairs.

A battle had taken place here. Two Duergar, half a dozen humans, a dozen gnolls, 4 shocker lizards, and the stairs out destroyed. We looked them over and it was a pitched fight – but most likely some of the humans had won as there was fortified area in the rubble. Where they went we did not know. Arnog and Dargis denied that any of the fallen humans were friends of theirs, which meant that if they were adventurers, most likely the Red Clouds had sent them in as well. Both pairs wanted to confront Roxarn and the only way that was going to happen was to get out.

Dargis was given the ability to climb like a spider from Detheron and the wiry halfling, with the entire party’s length of rope (90’) and a grappling hook prepared, started shimmying his way up the wall. The spell was only going to last 6 minutes so he had to move fast. He made it to the top – the opening 15’ by 10’ in the ceiling, broken stairs leading on into the darkness.

He was going to just fling the grapple through the hole and settle it on the steps when he threw it through though a 4 count of wards fired off and he pulled his hand free just before getting burned! Glyphs! 4 of them – each set at the corners of the hole. Sliding down the rope he rejoined the group and we discussed options.

The glyphs didn’t mind the rope poking through, but did fire when someone went through. And they were electric in nature. Gwyn opted to go first, drinking his Tempestskin potion and climbing the rope. At the top he steeled himself and pulled himself through the opening – all 4 glyphs firing into the dwarf. His armor deflected some of the energy but the potion coursing through him took care of the rest. He was safe.

Arnog opted to go next, the young fighter getting a resistance spell from Detheron. He climbed the rope until he got to the top and then gritting his teeth pulled himself past the opening. The glyphs went off again and he was protected – but the rope had been burned TWICE before and the hemp fibers parted and the brave Arnog fell. Gwyn tried to grab for him but he was too slow and he watched the blond haired man fall into the darkness.

From below they heard the scream getting louder and Arnog crashed down the 90’ to the shattered stone on the ground where the brave young man was dashed into unconsciousness, his body hurt and bones bruised and broken – but miraculously alive!

Detheron asked Dargis if he cared about his friend and the halfling was unsure what that meant. It was only when the druid mentioned that the thief had a rather cavalier attitude about all his other slain friends down here, wanting to pick through them and their belongings time and again. The halfling smiled, said he liked Arnog, but did cut his money belt and slipped it into his own pouch.

Detheron was silent as he left the battered Arnog there and spider climbed himself, but not before casting a resistance on himself and on the halfling – then he went up the wall with the rope in tow where Gwyn was waiting nervously above, unaware of what happened below. They used a bit of chain to space out between the bottom of the grapple and the top of the rope – allowing the glyphs to fire their energy directly into the chain instead.

Meanwhile Arnog awoke and the tired fighter (who was lightly healed by Detheron before the druid had ascended before) waited with his friend until the rope came back down. Dargis went first and Arnog last and at the top of the hole the halfling “returned” the fighter’s pouch (which garnered some more snide comments from the dwarf about the reliability and trustworthiness of Halflings).

The group made their way tiredly up the stairs until they arrived at the top, and from there they went on to the entrance room of the Stronghold level. At the top of the stairs they went to the great door and tried to open it – but the metal wheel refused to budge. They each took turns but it seemed locked or stuck.

Detheron said he could open it but as his spells were all exhausted and the party was likewise, we opted to rest back in one of the barracks rooms and try our luck on the morrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Meet 68, Adv 8, 6/6/09

I know I mentioned earlier that I write up the dungeons/adventures some time before the group gets to it. So sometimes there are things that appear to be easy, and other things that appear hard - and some things that make no sense.

But I always paint my adventures with broad strokes so that should I need to adjust/add/change anything in the details I can do so without worry or concern. And that is what I did here.

When written I did not plan on the groups to be split up. I did not plan on alternative characters. I did not plan on they being in two places in the same level but also a good 7 hours apart from one another. So when one group was wandering OUT of the Spiderhaunt caverns - after losing 3 of their friends within as had been tossed out - it made sense they would find the same 3 "friends" left behind. Which is where the fallen cleric and Gustav the paladin came from.

It was a nice interlude and a fun bit of role playing and I would like to say I had it all planned but I was DMing on the spot and in reaction to the party's interests and their actions.

The same went for taking Sakath down and ending his reign. There was something planned for a showdown with the ruined gnoll lord and the party at some point in the future in Byfortvile on Level 3 - but I like as a DM to be very fluid and have my players make up the game and what transpires instead of me having a list of encounters that occur one after the other.

As for the end game surprise of finding some evidence that Zoltan was not entirely dead - that thread and their interests in bringing him back is up to the players to pursue - not me!

Write up follows:

Detheron and Gwyn watched over their two new companions in the dark and gloomy interior of what had been dubbed the Spiderhaunt caves. The two friends talked about what had happened and where they had to go next. It was thought that Karis and Coruth’tae must be down here as well but obviously they “dropped” out of the Teleportal earlier so might not even be in the Folley and could be outside. The two friends were going to wait for Dargis and Arnog to awaken and then strike off back towards the entrance of Wodenvarelse and eventually the surface.

The lantern was filled with oil and Detheron kept it hooded and low so as not to attract the attention of any other spiders into the area we were hiding in. The hours passed and then after some time the two new companions awoke. The party went through their food stuffs and Dargis and Gwyn did not hit it off – the halfling asking the dwarf for some food (he had, just wanted to take Gwyn’s). Eventually it was discussed on options. Since Detheron and Gwyn had no idea where they were it was decided that we would use the inexact memories of Dargis and Arnog to lead us out.

Lanterns were refilled, weapons readied, and with some trepidation we began walking. The caves were fairly wide, some seven or eight feet, and stretched over 12’ tall in places. But they were heavy with stalactites and stalagmites, as well as layer and layer of old and new webbings. Eventually the corridor came to a sloping T and Dargis the halfling deduced that he and Arnog had come from the right – and in that direction we travelled.

As time went on the halfling recognized a bend in the cavern up ahead, the same place where a large spider had chased the group and Arnog had wounded before they were able to escape. He crept forward slowly and peered around; sure enough just at the limit of his infravision range he could make out the 7 legged figure of the 6’ tall spider. He motioned Gwyn forward and the dwarf took careful aim, letting his first bolt fly, following it up with a rapid second one – and the spider was dispatched as simply as that.

We scavenged the bolts and went on our way, Dargis and Arnog chatting a bit about their friends and what had happened. During the fight with Shengdu, the gnollish wizard they had lost one of their members and during the flight had lost another – so it was 5 of them that had come to this cave system and only the two of them were left – the other 3 having fallen during the days they had been in the environs.

As they travelled they came to an area where the cavern split and Dargis informed the group they had to go right. In fact it was here that they had lost their friend the cleric who ran down the wrong corridor and was trapped in a cul-de-sac – a 9’ behemoth spider killing him there. We approached the place as it had been described and sure enough saw the corpse covered in 3 or 4 layers of webbing as well as some 50 or so smaller spiders some the size of a fist. It was deduced that he had some healing scrolls on him and the party wanted to get them without risking an assault from the smaller spiders.

Eventually Detheron (opting NOT to set them all ablaze with a helpful bit of advice from Gwyn to use a Flaming Sphere) settled on summoning an insect swarm – concentrating on spiders as his default critter. And it happened, spiders came from everywhere at his beck and call, growing ever larger and larger until he had thousands of them, a living carpet stretching six long strides ahead of him. The swarm summoning also encompassed the spiders that were over the fallen cleric and Dargis went and checked his fallen friend’s belongings. He pocketed the money pouch and food sack but the backpack with torches, clothes, oil, and two healing scrolls (cure light and cure critical) were shared and eventually the group went on.

Detheron at first had the spiders walking on the floor ahead of them but Dargis who was leading was a bit creeped out, so instead the druid had the swarm split, run up both walls, and then cover the ceiling and pushing them as far ahead as he could. It was surreal to be walking behind this crawling ceiling carpet that kept raining little spiders out of the boiling mass only to recrawl up the walls and rejoin the mass but we moved onward.

Eventually the keen eared halfling heard the tell tale scritch sound of the Giant Spiders up ahead – the same 9’ tall nasty ones that had plagued them since they entered here. The poison was paralytic and the beasts were very powerful so it was decided that Gwyn would have to stand toe to toe with Arnog to keep the spiders off Detheron and Dargis. The dwarf moaned but did agree. A bolt was loaded and fired and the two giant spiders ran at the group.

At that moment Detheron had his insect swarm drop from the ceiling and cover the two giant versions, biting and attacking them. One of them was very maddened and couldn’t make its way forward it was so distracted, the other plowed along and was brought up short some 10’ from the party as it suffered under the hundreds of smaller spiders assaulting it. The druid had the swarm move back slightly and Gwyn and Arnog attacked – but the dwarf was hit and bit! And the poison filled his veins and he found himself slowing down as his muscles locked – paralyzed!

Arnog went into high gear and plied his blade heavily upon the spider’s carapace, taking a number of smaller bites on his own for his efforts. Even Dargis let sling stones fly and Detheron struggled to keep the swarm under control. The first big spider collapsed as Arnog threw his efforts wildly into the attack and sheared off two of its limbs before plunging his sword fully into the hairy beast’s face and killed it.

The second spider went down with the same acumen and the battle was won. Needing to cast a spell, the druid sent the spider swarm as far away from them as possible, back the way they had come, letting the enchantment fade of its own recognizance. Detheron neutralized the poison in Gwyn’s blood and the dwarf bemoaned that’s why he doesn’t front line fight. We laughed together and after tending to wounds and gear set onward.

Another split cavern had us lead to the right following Dargis’ guidance and we moved on, eyes peeled for any other 8-legged threats. The cave was growing more rank and there was a widened area ahead which made the halfling and young fighter both nod together and mutter, “Oh yeah.”

The wide area was a “Y” intersection and in the center was a pit some 25’ deep, oval shaped and maybe 15’ wide. The party’s 2nd in command, a paladin Gustav, had been leading the group through here almost 3 days ago and fell into the pit as they were being chased by a number of the 9’ tall giant spiders. They had also lost their ranger who was paralyzed trying to get Gustav out of the pit; the poor soul was trussed up and dragged down the right fork here which was the source of the heavy spidery smell. Both Dargis and Arnog and the Cleric Kazaz (who they had already seen a few hours ago and divested him of his healing scrolls) had ran out of fear and shame, the haunting calls of their paladinal friend Gustav echoing behind them from the depths of the pit as gigantic spiders filled the clearing.

Dargis crawled forward and looked in, seeing the banded mail figure of their friend very dead at the pit’s bottom. We looked down, it was obvious he had been fed from as the flesh, what little we could see, was desiccated and thin. But the halfling had his gaze on Gustav’s heirloom longblade, a silvered 40” blade of ensorcelled metal that had supposedly been in Gustav’s family for 4 generations. It was decided he would chance going down there and getting it.

Gwyn tied his rope to the halfling and bracing himself slowly lowered the thief into the 25’ deep pit. As he got a bit over half way down the still armor clad for of Gustav sprang to life and leapt for the dangling halfling, missing him by inches! Gustav had been reduced to a slavering ghoul, leaping and jumping to grab his former friends and companions. As Dargis was pulled free the rest of the group looked down, wondering what they could do to take out the ghoul 25’ beneath their feet and not get hurt doing so.

During the brief discussion while Detheron was throwing rocks at the former paladin, Gustav grabbed his shield from the ground and flung it upward like a discus – catching the druid full in the throat and making it impossible for him to even talk as he staggered back coughing and choking.

Arnog was opting to go down and do combat with the thing, tying the free end of the rope Dargis had let go to his own midsection, drawing his broadsword free. Meanwhile the halfling went around the other side of the pit and kept the ghoul’s attention firmly fixed on himself with thrown rocks. Gwyn braced himself and with a flying lead, the young fighter jumped into the pit, throwing his weight behind his shield and sword and slamming full force into the unsuspecting ghoul.

Gustav was smashed to the ground, the impact would have killed a lesser being, but the undead was filled with otherworldly strength and fought the brave Arnog off of him. The battle ensued with Arnog taking a few scratches during the fight – enough to fill his limbs with the cold paralytic touch of the ghoul’s pestilence. The two fighters went back and forth – and then the click-clack sound of spiders coming down the hall from the area we called “spider central” was heard.

Gwyn cut himself free from Arnog’s life line and drew his scimitar, racing to head off the two spiders as they burst into the central cavern. His blows were short and brutal and he dodged the bites and stabs the spiders tossed his way with relative ease. Meanwhile Dargis grabbed Arnog’s sliding life line and the young fighter finished the ghoul off with a decapitating sweep of his own blade. As all the fights came to an end we salvaged what we could from Gustav (including his silvered heirloom sword) and set off – opting NOT to go and find out what had happened to the last member of the other adventuring crew – just wanting to be free of the Spiderhaunt caves.

It was almost 2 hours of slow walking later before we emerged from the caves at long last and looked out at the wide hall that led elsewhere into Dargan’s Folley.

Meanwhile the other group with Karis, Coruth’tae, Spax, and Thad (the mage and archer that had hooked up with the half ogre and grey elf) was going to leave the chamber with the “outsider” in the former dwarven examination room when the discussion turned to vengeance. It seems that both sides had wanted to take their blades to Sakath and his gnolls and with the severe lack of forces the onetime gnollish chieftain had at his talons it was decided that now would be better than later to ply sword and spell against the gnoll.

We worked our way back into the Grand Hall and travelling east, took the main side road south – the almost 300’ length leading to Sakath’s throne room. There were the two side roads on each side and the group made their way to the first one, hoping to sneak down the back alleys and get to the two guard gnolls outside Sakath’s. But there were two gnolls walking patrol here and sneaking past them was not going to be easy.

Spax summoned a wall of fog to obscure their activities from the guards further down the corridor, the dense vapors also muting what sounds they would make a bit. Karis hid just inside the wispy barrier his great sword at the ready. Thad and Coruth’tae pulled out their bows and stayed behind the corner while Spax called to the two walking gnoll guards in their own language to come here and give them a hand.

The gnolls bought the ruse and wandered back and when they were about 20’ shy of the main road, magic missiles and arrows peppered them without mercy. One of the gnolls went down fast and the other was badly wounded but Karis’ brutal assault finished him off swiftly. We waited and listened – our attack had gone unnoticed. Taking what loot we could from the gnolls we ran into the alleyways and picked our way southward to Sakath’s.

Coruth’tae used him illusions to make Spax appear gnollish and the mage went into the hall to chat with the two guard gnolls – getting some information before coming back to the party. Sakath WAS in his throne room and there were over a dozen other gnolls in there with him. The group wanted to bust in there with full surprise but we needed to take the guards out swiftly. So the elf moved his glamour and made Karis appear to be the same gnoll Spax just was. The half ogre went into the hall, walked right up to the guards who thought he was back and friendly, and then jammed his sword into one of them with complete surprise – the party taking down the second one.

We readied our spells and skills and it was decided that Spax would fireball Sakath, with Coruth’tae following suit. Thad was to shoot the gnoll leader if he still lived and Karis would run into the chamber and finish the job should need be. The half-ogre called on Tyr to bless the party and both Spax and Coruth’tae cast Shield on themselves just in case. Thad drank his potion of Keen-eye and readied his bow. And then the door was torn open and we took in the chamber with a single roving eye.

100’ tall. Two metal chandeliers 50’ over head. A raised walkway encircling the chamber. Guards everywhere. Sakath surrounded by 4 of his finest. At the base of the raised dais was the feral priestly gnoll of Fenris still sporting Zoltan’s cloak and arguing with the gnoll leader. Everyone looked up with shocked expressions at the doors opened. Before anyone could do anything Thad pulled one of his magical arrows free and shot the Fenrir Priest. The missile flew unerringly and slammed the burly gnoll square in the chest – a critical shot resulting in immediate death! One arrow and the mighty gnoll was slain! And then Spax shouted out “In Vas Flam Grav Por!” and sent a streaking Fireball to race at Sakath’s feet, Coruth’tae arcing his Staff of Power forward and releasing one of his own precious charges – a second Fireball racing after the first.

The concussive blast of the first roaring fire was blown further out by the second one and the fiery wind scoured across the chamber immolating most of the nearby gnolls instantly. Sakath ducked behind his throne at the last moment, dragging one of his guards on top of him to absorb most of the blast. A few other gnolls were lucky to fall behind walls and stairs but over 10 of the filthy creatures died in the immediate blast.

Karis threw his armor class to the wind and charged across the length of the room, Sakath burned and angered, pulling his scepter mace free and met the knight in combat. Sword met bludgeon and the two fighters tore into one another with a crazed abandon. Other guards leapt out to try and save Sakath, scoring blows against Karis’ side but the mighty half ogre ignored them.

Only a four count of guards were left as Karis killed Sakath and Thad shot unerringly from the doorway. Spax smiled and said, “Well, my job is done. Whistle if you need any more help” and then walked to the side and drew out a pipe – lighting it and offering one to a shocked Coruth’tae. The mage took aim and let one his lightning bolts streak out, taking a couple more gnolls down before smiling and joining Spax for a smoke. Thad tossed a couple of comments at his friend but pulled his own sword free and assaulted the last gnoll racing for the door.

Karis struggled against the last two, their ranseurs picking a few wounds on his mighty form but nothing to cause any real harm. Thad was holding his own as well. The two mages kept some depreciating comments up, offering to stand up and help should it need be for the mighty “front line fighters” but Thad jokingly told them to sit down and rest themselves. The fight wound down and the last of the gnolls was slain. Combat done – Sakath and his closest guards were killed.

We looked over the chamber, there was little that survived the two fireballs and the lightning bolt. Karis grabbed Sakath’s scepter as a trophy but it what was discovered on the Fenrir priest’s person that made the party take notice. There was a leaded glass ball – soot covered and dinged a bit from the combat – but inside was the small and ghostly vision of Zoltan – trapped and slowly beating on the walls of the sphere, his features in some sort of agony.

Was he alive? What was this? The two mages deduced that his soul must be in here – captured by some rites or ritual unknown to them. If he was in the sphere – what did it mean? And how did the Fenrir gnoll get it? Coruth’tae took the sphere and said that if Zoltan was in there – he must be set free – either to move on to Valhalla or if possible – to be resurrected.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet 67, Adv 8, 5/23/09

You can't please everyone. That's just the truth of it.

One of the players at the table, also happens to be the party leader, had chimed in at the end of the last meeting that he was "done" with Dargan's and we should just leave it up and go elsewhere. The other members were not as inclined but as they didn't want to rankle the player's feathers they were willing to be led elsewhere.

This was fine by me because plans had already been put in place to get the party back into Dargan's one more time. One of the members had a unique and definitive necklace which was joined to another one sympathetically - and that creature was in constant communication with Vanir - the BBEG mage who mopped the floor with the party once before. So teleporting them in to the cave once again was always on my list - I just whickered it forward a bit.

What was new to the group was that I was going to split them up - but do it in a way where they would not have to sit out and watch the other players play - I was going to give them alternative characters to play. Other adventurers that the Red Clouds had duped into going into Dargan's for them and mapping it out.

Long term goal? There are some stories I think the party would really enjoy being a part of and the opportunity to do it while playing something other than what they traditionally have played would be a chance for some of the players to exercise their creative talents. This is going to be an interesting time down here and the party will fiond themselves part of a "traditional old school" dungeon crawl very soon if I have anything to do with it. :)

Write up follows:

The party spent about 3 days in Cymbarton selling what wares we could and turning our hard earned treasures into coin. It was then that we discussed what was to happen next? Back to Dargan’s? Home? Someplace else? There was a split on the feelings about going back and Karis was rather against it, saying that we had done well and we should go someplace else.

Detheron had a different opinion and wanted to go to Principia to confront Vanir once and for all – getting the unicorn head and resolving his geas. We talked about the matter for a time and settled on going to Principia at long last. As for our treasures, there was no way we were going to cart it all around and it was going to be time to put is somewhere.

Dumethian of the Adventurer’s Guild was willing to vault it for us for a 10% fee which rankled the half-ogre but as the rest of the party told him, no one would be screwing with it and it was a good idea to park it here. During all this Detheron kept feeling fuzzy in the head like something was just outside his vision, bothering him to some level – but he couldn’t see it or place it.

So we each made our way up to the guildmaster and left him large sums of our cash, returning to the common room and our hearty lunch of stew, peppers, and bread once the task was completed. As we continued to discuss the issues at hand and our upcoming journey, Detheron’s sensation of being bothered grew and it even started to affect the other members at the table.

And then a latent alarm spell on the guild hall began sounding off. Some sort of mounting power was gathering about the room and the party fanned out concerned with what was going on. A well placed detect magic spell identified some sort of gathering field around the party – centering on Detheron! The group thought fast and with weapons drawn opted to run TO the druid who was being lifted aloft on some unseen wind.

Dumethian ran out of the guild office with a wand of dispelling and as the power of whatever spell reached a crescendo around us, he fired it into the miasmic cloud as the party teleported away and out of the common room. The dispelling rocked the teleport spell we were in and we tried to link up but the party fell apart into Karis and Coruth’tae together dropping a bit early out of the portal and then Detheron and Gwyn being pulled further along.

As for the half-ogre and the mage, they hit the ground from a 5’ drop and rolled to a stop – underground and at the base of what was once the stair out of Wodenvarelse in Dargan’s Folley! There were half a dozen dead gnolls in the area, a five count of slain human adventurers, and some sort of pitched battle going on around them.

From the ruined pile of collapsed stone came a cry of, “Get the hell down!” and arrows began flying out, scoring definitive hits against the gnolls mounted on shocker lizards some 30’ off the ground on the dwarven columns. Another voice began shouting out arcanic words and a streak of growing fire raced away towards the charging hyena men. Thinking fast, Coruth’tae whipped his Staff of Power forward and added his own Fireball to the mix – the two of them concussing under the gnoll mass together and parboiling all but two of the charging ground forces.

The party joined forces with the two humans in taking the last of the gnolls down and then there was stock taken of the area. The rubble was apparently once the stairs OUT of Wodenvarelse – now shattered and broken! As for the humans, they were part of a mercenary party hired from Dilabria by the Red Clouds to “investigate this cave system and then report their findings upon getting out”. A 7 count were hired but only these two had survived: Spax a mage and Thad an archer. Upon attempting to escape from the gnolls they were assaulted by the mass of them and the dark dwarf with them turned part of the stairs to mud. This in turn ripped the rest of them down.

Spax and Thad were competent and were obviously long lived friends as evidenced by their easy camaraderie. They had no idea about adventuring party or charter or this place being under the Sundered Chain’s rites – they were each offered 75 crowns now, 75 upon completion, and 50% of whatever they might find while down here. They were to get to the next level up and there would be a teleportal opened in the room with Thor’s statue to get them out but it would only open once after 24 hours – and that time had passed. Karis and Coruth’tae opted to join up with these two who were stuck down here – especially after they let it known that they can get out through the city below called Byfortvile – there were three other exits from the cavern and one of them would lead back to the surface!

But as it was now they needed a place to hole up and stop fighting gnolls, and restudy spells – especially Coruth’tae who was not “combat ready”. Karis led us to the 1st street and the Engineer’s area as it was rune locked and should not be a problem – impressing Spax and Thad in producing the rune key. We entered, sealed the door, and studied for the next 2-3 hours.

Meanwhile, Detheron and Gwyn were carried a bit further in the portal and were deposited in a very dark cave with spider webs and a horrid reek – two figures in the small space a halfling and a young blond haired fighter – both of them surprised to see the druid and dwarf drop from nothing above – but both ready to face a three count of giant 7’ spiders and a large leering humanoid ettercap with a silver chain just like the one Detheron had around its neck!

The combat ensued and Gwyn fired crossbows swiftly while Detheron bolstered the fighter’s strength with spells. The halfling ran forward and hid in the shadows, staying still and quiet while the fighter slammed into the lead spiders with a controlled and skillful assault of sword and shield. The spiders were falling fast and the Ettercap was struck next, the monstrous creature gibbering as it attempted to grapple with the party. Detheron slammed it with a Neutralize Poison spell which took care of its virulent toxins and then the halfling burst from hiding and struck the creature unknowing from the side with dagger and short sword – finishing the beast swiftly.

Introductions were made, the halfling was Dargis and the young fighter was Arnog. They had been hired 5 days ago from the Red Clouds while in Ironshire to the south to come and investigate this cave – each being paid 75 crowns now and 75 upon completion. But they had been harried by gnolls and worse and during the struggle the party found themselves in these caves they had taken to calling the Spiderhaunts – the other 4 members of their party falling from exhaustion and poison over the majority of the week. Only Dargis and Arnog were left and they were very tired – getting maybe 3 hours sleep over the last 36. They had missed out on the portal to get out as it had most likely come over 4 days ago. All they wanted to do was rest and then work their way to the stairs and get free.

Detheron and Gwyn offered to keep watch while the two tired acquaintances got some sleep, knowing that they would all make their way out together and find out what happened to Karis and Coruth’tae.

As for the other two and their new friends Spax and Thad, spells were restudied and the group was ready to try their hand at getting to the level down. Supposedly the other two had learned of where they had to go but were loathe to cross the Chasm as it was guarded. Karis informed them of the way behind and the new group decided it was perfect – everyone hoping to get there without issue and meet up with Detheron and Gwyn.

We led Spax and Thad through the back alleys and to the sloping corridor where we picked our way along – noting that the place was VERY quiet and seemingly abandoned. According to the two new friends, the gnolls were not very plentiful and there seemed to be a lack of non-combatants. Karis felt that Sakath had been losing some members of his clan and they were most likely abandoning the area, heading for the “safety” of the next level, Byfortvile. We made our way across the area unmolested and at the main concourse we spied a pair of guards still outside Sakath’s chamber. Skipping up one full street we kept to the shadows and moved quickly and quietly across the floor until we made it to the Great Hall.

From here we hugged the wall and traveled west until the hall was curving northward – and we came upon another Runelocked door! There was a brief discussion on the matter and we decided to check it out. It was some sort of examination chamber dominated by a glass and brass circular container frosted and pitted with age.

We spread out and learned that the dwarves had learned about the original inhabitants of the city below, an abyssal race in decline called Outsiders – 12’ tall, cyclopean, lizard like with vestigial wings and long tails. Their presence was few and scattered even when the dwarves stumbled upon them and since then they have declined even further. Supposedly possessing some power of magic and shadows we were happy for the knowledge. Inside the container was one of the creatures – captured by the dwarves of Wodenvarelse almost 2 centuries ago. A lever was sticking outside the device and the party re-established their NO LEVER pulling rule – which we know bothered the ghost of Zoltan to no end.

After learning what we could we closed the door behind us and returned to the Great Hall to make our way further to the back and eventually the passage down.

And that’s where the game ended.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meet 66, Adv 8, 5/9/09

Want to apologize for the long delay in posting this one - been a screwed up May!

So the party was falling for the most base of all allures - the unfinished plundering of the treasure room. The chatter around the table had always been that they were never rich and when they amassed and scrimped maybe a thousand crowns to their name they were feeling well off. Now here it was they had hauled out tens of thousands of crowns of merchandise and coins and they were STILL feeling poor even though some of their sheets were showing in excess of five or six thousand gold pieces per at their disposal.

And that's just what I wanted. Sure. Go back down. Try again. The gnolls were not "ready" for them but their continued presence down in the Folley had NOT gone unnoticed and Sakath, the gnoll leader, although a coward, was not stupid. It didn't take much to deduce where the party was heading each time and some steps were put in place to be ready for the group's presence.

It was when the stairs were compromised on the way out by a weak version of a Horn of Blasting that the DM in me was clapping for joy and grinning ear to ear because it was going to make my job on the going forward that much easier.

But that's not until the next write-up

Write up follows:

The following morning we went back into the depths of Dargan’s Folley, both of our new hirelings along for the trip. We had made this trip many times and within a short period of time we found ourselves back once again in the dungeon depths. There were no gnolls near the guard room this time and we picked our way carefully along the darkness until we came to the side roads. A trip through the alleys had us dodging a few gnoll patrols but it was easy for us to make our way to the city itself.

Coruth’tae provided us some cover with illusions as needed but what was surprising to us this time was the pair of guards in the hall. Not directly in front of the treasure vault but some 15 paces past it, they were in a state of semi-readiness and unless they were neutralized there was going to be no way for us to get past them. That meant that we would have to sneak us as close as possible and take them down.

The grey elf made an illusion of the hall in front of Karis and followed behind a few paces from the half ogre and our two hired swords. The remaining members of the group kept pace beyond and after a few minutes we were close enough to engage the gnolls – our subterfuge taking them both by surprise. Swords were plied and a brief cry was uttered, attracting two more gnolls who were coming up BEHIND the party. The battle was short, brutal, and bloody – but there was little doubt in our skill and it was over swiftly.

We opened the vault door with the runekey and dragged the fallen bodies in with us, not being able to do anything about the bloodstains on the floor.

Once inside we strung together what rugs, carpets, tapestries and busts we could, spreading out the wares amongst the group and readying ourselves for what we assumed to be a fast run back to the surface. Karis was loud that this would be our last trip in and we have done what we could, gathering the riches and we should be content with our haul. Coruth’tae used an ESP to “listen” through the doorway and encountered a 6 count of gnolls, 5 bothered and upset and one very animalistic and angry.

They were about the exit area and it was going to be a running fight for us to take them down and quickly. The door was opened and the party charged out, spells and weapons hacking and tearing through the gnolls. The “angry” one was the same priestly one that Coruth’tae had seen with Tasolde in the cell block – wearing Zoltan’s long missing portaling cloak. He fired spells at the party and the group returned in kind, the half ogre roaring for everyone to get out of here and now.

We charged down the hall and the priest used the cloak to portal away – his whereabouts unseen for now. The lumbering group charged for the exit and sloping corridor out of the gnolls portion of Wodenvarelse, a pair of gnolls blocking our way. There was no stopping as he hit them, a few giving chase now from down the main corridor. The “locked” door was thrown wide and rabid hyenas and feral gnolls armed with flail like bars hit the group on the flank but Bellomeade and Geezer tackled the new threat and blunted the monster’s effect.

Damage was beginning to pile up and the group wasted no time in carving an exit for themselves, one by one the party slithering up the sloping corridor to the other side of the dwarven city, gnolls howling behind us and giving chase. In the narrow confines their numbers were blunted and the closest ones were taken down without pause.

Up top on 3rd street we took stock of ourselves and fast healing was handed out – Detheron advising us to make as much haste as possible for down the distant corridor was heard echoing barks and cries of giggling gnolls. We shouldered our treasures and ran on past alleyways and roads, trusting to the dim lights Coruth’tae held aloft to guide us only a half dozen jogging paces ahead.

There were still pursuing gnolls but we had outdistanced many of them and after arriving at 1st street we made a break for the stairs out in the grand concourse – and there we learned that the Slavertongue gnolls were waiting for us. An 8 count of them were situated on the steps and had their heavy crossbows at the ready. The volley was swift and punishing, with Karis, Geezer, Bellomeade and Gwyn taking the brunt of the impact. Shields clanged and armor clattered as the shafts flew off and against the group.

We barely paused, intent on closing the distance as fast as possible. Arrows were fired in return and the party charged onward, taking more blows from the gnolls. We had to detour and take refuge behind the stately columns, hoping to avoid any more debilitating crossbow bolts. Spells were sent and Karis withdrew his Raven’s Horn and blew a loud blast.

The walls shook, the floor quaked, the sound was deafening. Cracks shot up through the columns, across the stairs, and rubble fell as the 90’ tall expanse of steps had the bottom 4 courses turned to gravel and the entire steps groaned as they settled lower. A few of the gnolls were battered by the fallen rock and trapped by the collapsing steps. The column some of the group was using as cover began to sway and torn from the vaulted ceiling above, sliding backwards.

The party charged the demoralized gnolls and the hyena-men broke, running and yipping and giggling in fear. We scrambled up the scree of ruined stonework and took to the steps without pause and the majestic column behind us collapsed to the group with a gong-like thunderous crash and tore tons of stone from the ceiling above. Our last view as we ascended was the gnolls scattering and shouting and rocks dropping from the roof like rain.

We emerged after two hours from the Folley covered in rock dust and filthy, but alive and with our riches in tow. We loaded the wagon and bid farewell to Goloriana eventually making good time to Ponyboro and Cymbarton beyond. We paid Geezer and Bello their share of the treasure, earning a very positive relationship with the guild, and spent the next 3 days pawning our found treasures and wares with the local shops.