In retrospect, the 2nd level of Dargan's Folley was too big, too sizeable. There was too much options for the party to wander about and I could have made it more focused and streamlined. I wanted to give them the opportunity to explore withour any rails and that was definitely the case. They uncovered things I never expected them too and did it with some ingenious methods. But it was a sprawling area that didn't lend itself to true old school exploration.
I was pleased though that they had a chance to face off against Shengdu. The wizard/smith was a favorite of mine and I wanted the party the chance to cross swords with him. They had come up with a way of getting the goblins with Shengdu out of the fight and for that the struggle against the gnoll's started off in their favor.
As of this point they were going down to Byfortevile which is also a sprawling area but there are rails attached to this level and the party will have many opportunities to have a city adventure in a dungeon atmosphere - and then there will be some old school spelunking which I know will make the group sit up and put on their "A" game.
They had been a bit scattered for some time, but I have noticed them gelling more and more as a group and feel confident that some good well rounded party fun was coming up ahead.
Write up follows:
The party of Detheron, Gwyn, Arnog, and Dargis caught some much needed sleep in the Temple to Odin, getting back Detheron’s spells after some prayer to Frey and them some light healing being dispensed. We discussed our options. We would have to go down to the next level, but only had some vague idea of where it was – and without further knowledge of what was down there, we were concerned that there would be days of wandering around to find another way out.
Then there was the smooth rocked wall in the northern portion of Wodenvarelse, festooned with the markings of the Lycos Suns above it. A Lyreth ward protected it but its effects were faint and muted. Should we go there? There was talk of a city below our feet, and some coin would go a long way to helping the party pay for whatever guides they would need.
But if we did go after the treasure (assuming there was some), the goblins were in the area – and there was still Shengdu, the gnollish wizard/smith that was up there. It was he and his cronies that beat Arnog and Dargis’ group the first time – although they had been caught unawares. Treasure first – or take out the gnolls? The group was thinking about the gnolls and we decided we should check it out before making a decision either way. So we readied our lanterns, checked our weapons, and opened the temple – walking out into the halls and started to walk north.
Right into a patrol of 4 armed and armored gnolls leading a 6 count of feral and sorry looking goblins.
Parley went back and forth until it was decided that this was getting us nowhere. Detheron yelled to the goblins that any who fought for us against the gnolls would be freed! And then the battle ensued. Some of the gnolls assaulted the goblins first, while a few of them tried to make it to the group. Bolts flew and swords were plied but it was a foregone conclusion that the gnolls were out classed and within a few minutes they were defeated (with two of the goblins dead for their efforts). Arnog took out three of the gnolls single handedly and sniped to Gwyn, “Sometime to do the job right you need to use a sword, not a bow!” Chuckle. The remaining 4 goblins snagged what clothes and armor they could from the gnolls, equipping themselves better and crowding around the party in an effort to have them continue “liberating the others still under the cruel yoke of Shengdu”.
Through some answer time we learned a bit of what had happened. Sakath had been slain by some giant with a two handed sword and a host of fire mages (it sounded like Karis – but NOT Coruth’tae). Most of the Slavertongue clan then lost heart and moved to the city below called Byfortevile. Only Shengdu remained and some two dozen of his supporters. The goblins have been pretty much starved and forced to work in the mines. A few goblins have turned coat and support Shengdu and for that they are much better fed and taken care of.
We rethought our plan and decided that we would go after Shengdu and do it swiftly – getting the drop on him before he noticed the patrol that was out did not come back. Following the goblins we made our way across Third Street, into the Grand Concourse, across the Chasm, and along the north wall to the Northern road – leading to the goblin area, the Hammer room, and the smithy.
Dargis went ahead, scouting, the halfling returning to tell us that 3 greenskins in brigandine armor and armed with lengths of chain with a flail ball on the end were guarding one of the main side roads down Northern Road – and that the sounds of hammering and smith work were very loud there. As for sneaking up, the place was lit with phosphorous fungus and it would be difficult for the party to get close enough for a rush.
We talked about plans and Gwyn made the call that he would get as close as possible and using his long bow – try to take out the goblins one at a time – hopefully fast enough before they could get an alarm off. Dargis opted to go with him, ready to use his sling should Gwyn miss. The rest of the group waited at the end of Northern road at the Grand Concourse and stayed quiet in the dim dim otherworldly light.
The dwarf and halfling moved silently, staying in the shadows against the wall, creeping up to 45’ from the closest goblin. Feeling they had gone far enough, Gwyn took aim on the furthest one (65’) and fired – burying an arrow in the goblins chest and killing it. As it fell he shot at the next closest, winging the goblin but that was all. As he was grumbling and loading up a last arrow, Dargis let an enchanted sling stone fly and it cracked the 2nd goblin in the skill – slaying it with a loud THWOCK! The third one was drawing a breath to shout out an alarm when Gwyn took a hail Mary shot and bulls eye – killed the third goblin guard dead!
The group was impressed (Gwyn sniping to Arnog, “See – sometimes a sword is NOT the best tool.” Chuckle.) and we fell upon the dead goblins swiftly – our group of 4 taking what equipment they could from the dead brethren and upgrading themselves once more. Dargis snuck ahead, down the sloping corridor and spied in, getting a lay of the forge room and multiple anvils before sneaking back and scratching out a quick diagram in the dust.
6 gnolls, all unarmored wearing forge aprons – none of them identifiable as Shengdu. 15 goblins, all in weak and poor condition clad in homespun shifts and using small tools and tongs. The gnolls looked more robust and deep of chest than any of the others we had ever faced before.
We discussed swiftly a plan of action in which Arnog would charge in and break left – the 4 goblins following him, taking down the closest gnoll there. Gwyn would follow and doing as best as possible, either crossbow or arrow down the gnolls on the right. Dargis would lend support where able to and Detheron would be looking for whichever one was Shengdu and take him out. Before entering, Detheron cast: Protection from Fire on Arnog and again on himself (giving both of them 72 points of fire protection!) and then we charged in.
Arnog and his goblin supporters slammed into the 1st gnoll with surprise and fury – tearing the hyena man’s flesh open in half a dozen places and causing him to howl and wail. Meanwhile Gwyn sidled around the corner and shot one gnoll down and then a second, causing both of them to yelp in pain. Arnog was shouting that all the goblins would be free if they either helped us or they did nothing. Detheron called on Frey and a flaming scimitar burst from his hand. Dargis danced in and took up position near the main forge with the enchanted shovel, dug out a titanic amount of burning coals, and hurled them at one of the gnolls – setting the hyena man on fire.
After this the battle grew more frantic as the gnolls were no longer startled and the goblins (not counting our 4) all dropped to the ground and cowered. Wielding forge hammers they strode forward bashing and snarling. Gwyn was surrounded by two, trading to scimitar without delay while Dargis was forced back, the nimble halfling barely able to draw sword and dagger in time to fend off the gnoll’s angered blows. Arnog dispatched the wounded gnoll and the 4 goblin warriors with us charged one of the untouched ones. But it was the last gnoll who glanced at Detheron and pointed at the druid – causing the flaming scimitar to burst into fire and course all over our friend of Frey. Shengdu!
Dargis was taking some nasty blows and Gwyn was carving the two gnolls back – his superior skill out classing their brawler tactics with ease. Arnog accosted Shengdu but the gnollish wizard smith was much stronger than our cocky fighter expected and the gnoll lifted Arnog up off the ground and CHARGED with him into the forge bed! Shengdu was laughing while he did it and unbeknownst to him, Arnog was protected by Detheron’s spell – the protection beginning to wither away from the blast of the fiery forge. One of the goblin warriors was brained by the far gnoll but the other three redoubled their efforts.
Detheron ran to Dargis’ aid, his flaming scimitar scoring fire along the gnoll’s unprotected side while the thief stabbed as fast and as often as he could. Gwyn took down one of the gnolls and turned his attention to the other. Shengdu called upon his skills once more and caused the forge to radiate a blast of fire – eating more of Arnog’s protection away and causing all those near the forge bed to jump away burned. Arnog was fighting from a prone position under the gnoll wizard and couldn’t get a solid blow against him – his situation becoming desperate.
Dargis’ gnoll finally was slain and Detheron ran into the forge to help (trusting his own Protection from Fire), his scimitar leading the way. He struck Shengdu but the gnoll wizard had some sort of fire shield up and the druid was hurt for his efforts! Meanwhile Arnog and Detheron had their protections slowly whittled away as the massive heat from the forge kept eating at them. Our 3 count of goblins were keeping the far gnoll busy, their picks and hammers slowly beating against their foe’s flesh. Gwyn forced the one gnoll he was fighting back but while using his forge hammer – smashed it against the dwarf’s arm with critical force – bruising him down to his bone! (critical hit weapon arm, -4 on all to hits for the next 1d6 hours). Gwyn doggedly fought on.
Shengdu cast Flare at Detheron, blinding the druid while Arnog forced the gnoll wizard up and off him, sword hacking wildly about as he tried to slain the laughing beast. Gwyn slammed the length of his curved sword into the gnoll’s chest and tore it our sideways, killing him at long last. He picked up his crossbow and cradling it against his chest, loaded up a bolt – waiting for an opportunity to fire into the forge and not hit his companions (he was shouting at them to get the hell out of the forge.)
Dargis took up position nearer the door, just in case, and it was much needed as Shengdu took some punishing blows from Arnog as tried to run. Gwyn fired at the gnoll, crossbow bolt sticking out of his shoulder. He stumbled but cleared the forge bed and tried to run across the floor. Dargis intercepted him and with a leap and stab – buried both his weapons into Shengdu’s chin and took the gnoll down at long last.
The last gnoll was slain and we took stock of ourselves. The goblins were cheering us as liberators and the 15 in here (plus our original 3) stripped the gnolls of their weapons and aprons, dressing themselves in the same finery. A key was found on Shengdu’s neck which we took, and we talked with the goblins – telling them they had a right to live free and to take the rest of the gnolls down.
There was a storeroom across the way where we followed some of the goblins into. It was filled with finished iron wares – testament to the works the gnolls had been doing. Almost 6000 iron bars 2’ long, half a thousand axes, a thousand morning stars, a thousand bucklers, half a thousand breast and back plates. Enough gear to outfit an army. The goblins came in here in ones and twos and grabbed helms and bucklers and weapons and went off to assault other gnolls where they found them; dragging their slain former masters into the forge room where they were desecrated and dumped on the flames.
In the back of the store room was Shengdu’s private area which had some notes on what had been made, a sizeable amount of coin, his spell book (almost a dozen fire oriented spells), and some 46 tourmalines of green and blue hue which Gwyn informed us were worth maybe 30 to 40 crowns a piece! Nice haul.
From here we wanted to look at the smooth faced wall the Lycos Suns had marked and figured that we go in, get what treasures we could, and leave the rest for the goblins. At the area we had Dargis use the enchanted shovel to hack a hole in the wall and we tossed a lit torch in to look around. It was not occupied but large. Almost 30 chests were in here, most of them empty, but the ones that were still here had some 6000 in crowns and 6000 in nobles. There were some rugs and tapestries and some busts and statues.
But in the middle of the room was a silver stand, 3’ tall with some slots along the side and covered in some neatly blocked off dwarven script. It was a crystal ball stand, but no crystal ball was here. It radiated some magic for which we were very thankful. The two slots according to the writing, held two books that had some foul sorcery demonic in nature but could be used to defeat enemies should the need arise and those who used it were true and not easily tainted.
The 2 books were the Necordius Fenrir Codex. And the Thakulis Convergence Grimoire. We had heard a few times before of the Nec Fen Codex – it was something to do with Sir Dargan Cooperson 50 years ago, and something to do with the Phantom Blades/Lycos Suns, and something to do with the glass globes and why we had been captured in the first place. And both books were no longer here.
We took what gold we could and left the silver for the goblins. Our packs bulging and our hearts light, we bid our farewell to the goblins and set out towards what had been described to us as the way down. The back of the Grand Concourse where we had originally run from the Spiderhaunt caverns, there was a left fork that we followed, coming up some battle scene and a note from Coruth’tae, telling us that him and Karis were here along with some people they had found down here and were heading towards Byfortevile below – and that we should meet up soon. So we shouldered our packs and headed down into the cavernous darkness and adventure below.