Normally I plan out an adventure way in advance to the party actually hitting it, but in this case, I only mapped out Murderer's Hole and filled in the 7 rooms that were applicable. I had stumbled across something recently about letting the random dungeon generator fill in the missing rooms and decided that I would do this.
So for most of what the party found on this meeting, I DM'ed literally seconds prior to actually describing it and wove it into the total game as a hole.
Have to say, it worked out great! ;)
Write up follows:
The Captain of the guard agreed that he would offer us 4 of his trusted veterans to help out in examining Murderer’s Hole, save Arnog, and bring whatever warlocks would be found there (according to Jarl Trader’s information) to justice. Their names were Hagni (fairly large, red haired, muscular), Bor (a bit shorter and wide, darker complexion), Ve (thin and wiry, blond and tall), and Grid (non-descript brown haired and very plain looking). They met the party and understood that for this exercise they would still be representatives of Broken Hill’s law enforcement community but also answerable to the party and their guidance.
We followed the Eider road northward until it came to the end of the town proper and then took the overgrown and unused path southward to the Eastern Crack. We came to the edge of the drop off and navigated the old steps downward to the platformed area that led to Murderer’s Hole.
The original elevator mechanism and winches had been removed some time ago, leaving only the rusting stays and pitons in place. On one of them (the western most metallic stud) was a triple knotted length of hemp rope going down into the gloomy darkness of the 15’ wide shaft. We jiggled the rope and noted it was well tied but also somewhat new, especially since Murderer’s Hole had been unused as a mine for about 2 years. On asking the guards if they knew how far down the hole went, the best they could say was a couple of hundred feet – none of them really knew.
Norris activated his Boots of Levitation with a solid stomp and with one hand on the rope for guidance, began going down, checking out the area as he did so with the aid of Gwyn’s lantern. It was about 60’ down to the 1st landing, a platform of wood and stone on the eastern side of the shaft with a fairly wide (8’) corridor that went on into the darkness as far as the lantern’s light was able to shine. Our bard continued downward, coming upon a small supply niche on the western side about 30’ further along – 9’ deep and about the same in width. It was filled with old picks, shovels, iron crossbeams, small casks of what might have been oil, and a few lanterns and other mining gear.
He went lower, the sun above 120’ over his head appearing as a circle of light and nothing else, arriving at a 2nd level on the eastern side and the same as the 1st level, going in a deep as his light could shine. It was here that a couple of stones were dislodged from the wall and fell into the darkness below – and then Norris heard the shrill cry of bats and the flutter of leathery wings from down there. Feeling uncomfortable being this far down and with some bats below and not sure how long his levitating boots would last (as he hadn’t had the opportunity to try and exhaust the magic) he grabbed the rope and began willing himself up the shaft and out of the hole back to the sunlight and his friends.
We listened to what Norris had to say and decided that the shaft did go below the 2nd level and we should go carefully down, checking it out methodically and intelligently. Gwyn and Soren felt that the ropes would hold 3 of us easily, but a 4th might not be a good idea so we opted to go down in 3’s – with Norris levitating down by himself. It was on our 1st attempt down the rope that we learned that some of the party – and some of the guards, were not good climbers. Brother Beren and Ve were in danger of slipping, only blind luck and aching hands kept them from falling into the gloom. Even Soren slipped up at one point, ripping his palms open as his feet slipped out from underneath him.
Norris had to spike the rope across the length of the shaft, the heavy length stretching across the darkness, in order for the party to set foot on the 1st level platform. But we made it down and then broke ourselves down into 2 wide in order to better explore the cavern. Soren took a look around and he felt that although the stone was difficult to gather prints off of, he was unsure if anyone had been down here on this level for many weeks. We opted to check it out anyway – eyes peeled and weapons ready.
The corridor ran straight for 15-20 paces, sloping slightly, before there was a side passage opened up, telltale bits of brass still glinting on the walls along with crystalline gypsum growing in the cracks and crevices. The side passage opened into a smallish chamber, testament to the miners following the vein of precious metal in here and harvesting what they could. However the place was empty and we moved on back to the main corridor.
The 2nd side chamber was on the left this time and there was a steep slope upward, at the bottom of the slope was a small scattering of fist sized stones and a left boot. On checking out the boot, Bron was almost bit by a centipede within and the insect was crushed. Otherwise there was nothing else untoward there. A quick look up the slope revealed a plain chamber also mined out, however the back was somewhat smooth and the ceiling did slope up almost 11’ in height. We pondered the wheres and whys of it but decided that it was not important and went back to the main corridor to look onward.
At this point only Soren and Norris went onward, no need for the rest of the party to follow down the dangerously dark and uneven caverns. It was at the 3rd chamber on the right where they came across 2 long dead skeletonized bodies lying amidst the dust that the realized that they were following a dead track. They backtrailed to the party (and the light!) and we decided that the deeper we went, the less sign we had of anyone else coming in this far into the caves. Let’s try the next platform down.
So as a party we went to the main chimney/shaft and we slithered down the thick ropes in groups of 3 until we arrived at the 2nd level down, some 120’ below the surface.
Norris and Bron took the front with the party spaced tightly behind. It was some 25 paces or so to an area where the corridor had two side corridors as well as continued onward, the one on the left having some smell like rodents in it, and the one on the right we heard a scurrying noise. A quick look to the left showed a dead chamber with a ceiling barely topping 7’ in height and little else. We felt there was nothing here except for possibly vermin but according to Soren, the ranger was able to tell that “people” had been up and down the main corridor in the recent week or less.
Bron took out his bear trap, arranged it down the right corridor, and placed a bit of dried meat on the trigger. Feeling that it would deter whatever critter was down there, we went onward with caution. The main corridor wove into a gentle 2 as the former miners had followed what veins of ore were here, eventually splitting into two passages; the one on the right continuing on and the one on the left opening into some sort of mined out chamber.
The chamber was roughly 20’ x 25’ with a ceiling just under 8’ in height. And in the middle of the room was a pile of sticks numbering just over 30ish and mounded in some haphazard order. The group stood outside the chamber, looking at the sticks, and frowned before saying, “Yeah, don’t want to go in there, don’t care what it is.” Feeling it was trap of some sort the party wanted to keep on going when they heard a definitive SNAP from behind them. Ahh – Bron’s bear trap caught something!
The monk ran back (snagging a lantern while doing so as we now had Brother Beren’s lantern and Gwyn’s lit) and was delighted to see the trap had caught a 60# giant rat, almost dissecting the creature from the force of the huge jaws. He pried it opened, pulled it towards the left corridor (where we had original thought there was some other vermin hiding down) and used a bit of the giant rat as bait, leaving the remainder of the carcass down the right passage and then came back telling the party of what we had learned.
The group walked on, the main corridor “Y”ing here, and we went right this time. It turned 90 degrees more and down the short corridor before it turned to the left we saw a dark black furred wolf just standing there. Umm, weird. Soren went to step forward and used his wand of Speaking to Animals to communicate with it.
It was very calm and to the ranger, spoke very well. It called itself Tisig and said it had been left here by a former master. It wanted to go with Soren and would agree to be his friend. Yeah, just too damn easy. Soren was relating this to the group and we were very uncomfortable and at this point Bron was trying to divine what the wolf’s feelings were (contentment, but also like it knew something nasty and secretive) while Norris was going to use his wand of Detecting Magic. Bor meanwhile was walking up to the wolf to pet it.
It was at that time that all hell broke loose as the wolf seemed to talk into Norris’ mind begging him not to wave the wand and that he could partner up with him. The bard yelled out, “It’s evil! Kill it!” and the wolf snarled in a decidedly humanized manner. Its form shifted until it appeared to be a 3 1/2” tall horned grayish red skinned demonic figure. The group sprung into action, Bor swinging at the wolf/demon and missing while weapons were readied and holy water was hurled – hitting the beast with a plume of angry red smoke!
Norris took out his net to throw it and the demonic figure went invisible! Trusting to luck he gave a mighty toss, just clearing Bor, and the net fanned out and ensnared the flying hellspawn! Well done! He yanked the bottom rope and bagged the net, attempting to bring it to bay, Bron helping him out. It was then that the demon gave a hissing abyssal bark of power and a blast of fear aura snarled out, striking Norris, Bron, Bor, Gwyn, and Soren.
Soren turned first, running Brother Beren down and trampling the priest. Then Gwyn kicked the priest as well and knocked down Ve before shoving his way into the hall. Bron and Norris followed, the poor priest and guardsman getting kicked and shoved and stepped on at every opportunity. Meanwhile Bor ran the other way into the darkness of the demonic figure’s cave, eventually running full tilt into the unyielding wall and knocking himself out. Brother Beren used his magic missile wand and two of the eldritch bolts slammed home into the demon figures chest, slaying it!
It took another minute or two for the party to overcome their fear (Gwyn having to tackle Soren at one point to get the ranger to stop running) and regroup. We checked out Bor (he was fine after a few minutes) and took stock of the chamber we were in. The demonic figure (some sort of Quasit according to Beren and Norris) is usually summoned as part of a familiar ritual for a decent level mage, and yes, it is usually evil. The chamber had some soiled and older robes and magical paraphernalia in it as well as some spent looking scrolls.
It was when they were checked for magic and two of them registered that the party took the time to check them out. The scrolls were written in invisible ink! Bron and Norris spent some time heating up the paper near the lantern, burning it slightly but allowing the ink to become visible. Then Norris spent some time reading magic and let us know the spells were Ice Storm and Wall of Ice – two fairly decent 4th level spells – and both penned by a wizard of 8th level experience. Our bard took them for now and after we made sure the rest of the chamber was empty we moved on.
We knew there had been traffic down here in the recent days, but so far we had seen nothing except for the quasit and some giant rat earlier. As we came to the end of the corridor there were two final chambers – the one on the left was rough looking, 3 fairly large pottery jars covered were in the middle and there were 4 humanoid shaped clusters of mushrooms growing about the room. Soren told us they were corpse fungus, mushrooms that often grow on decaying flesh underground. We looked the room over and decided that whatever was in the pottery jars most likely killed the last group of 4 in here – so we weren’t going to screw with it.
During all this Bron had decided to go back and get his bear trap so he borrowed Beren’s lantern once more and walked back towards the entrance where he was surprised to see things had changed.
The meat of the giant rat was now gone (as well as the rest of the body) and in its place on the bear trap was a single platinum bar. Bron was looking at it, walking around it, trying to get an idea what the hell was going on. The teeth of the bear trap had some sort of faintly greenish residue on it and the cautious monk assumed it was a poison of some sort. He dislodged the platinum piece and triggered the trap, letting the teeth clack shut. He was about to pick up the 6’ chain/rope when he had a sneaky suspicion and doused it with his water skin. The water that ran off had a greenish tint as well. Great, bastard poisoned the rope as well.
Someone else was down here and they were screwing with us.
Using his blanket he wrapped it around the wet rope/chain and held the trap off the ground as he worked his way back to the party. Explaining what he had seen and found we were all of the mind that we were getting close to whatever was down here and most likely had Arnog. Meanwhile the party had checked out the last chamber on the right and it was fairly low ceilinged except for the back right hand corner where it had been squared off and on the floor were about 9 planks of wood all next to one another.
The wood was a cover and it was nailed together, blocking a 5’ wide hole that went straight down, a faint breeze blowing up, and it smelled very faintly of stew. Gwyn volunteered to go down first and a length of rope was tied around the dwarf, the free end being held by Grid, Ve, and Bor. It was when the dwarf placed one foot over the hole with the intention of going down that unseen forces grabbed him and pulled him down the hole at a moderate and steady pace!
Bron reached out and grabbed the dwarf’s hand but he too was pulled into the hole and Norris who tried to stop them also reached out but he was pulled into the hole! Then the three guardsmen were dragged forward and one by one went into the hole, leaving Beren, Hagni, and Soren. Seeing that the party was now dropping at a steady pace of roughly 1’ per second and that they were in no immediate danger of falling, we deduced that this was by design and most likely going to lead us to the mages below. So Hagni went in, followed by Beren, and lastly Soren – as the party dropped into the darkness to confront whatever was below.