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.