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.