There has been lots of talk to death about the merits of the thief class vs. not having the thief class and ODD and little brown books and Arneson and Gygax and Moldvay and Mentzer and blah blah blah. Long and short of it, people like to play thieves. Robin Hood, Grey Mouser, Gord, even Conan for a time (although as had been mentioned, "he's to big to be a thief") - they all have an allure to people to play. Some people are really good at thieves and other just suck at at.
So in true big assed dungeon fashion, there has to be some sort of theif-centric trap filled level. And this was the level here. Of course the group could have bypassed the entire thing if they had searched for secret doors in the 1st room which had a short cut to the last room of the level but they did not. So they had room after room of traps and trap like items to contend with.
And it was here also that I put in something that I believe came from either Bard's Tale or Wizard's Crown game from my youth. You walk into a room and there is a wizard there and he asks if you want to see a magic trick. Say no and he disappears. Say yes and he fireballs your party, steals your stuff, and disappears. Yeah, did that to the group here. And the look the player who ran the paladin gave me would have KILLED me under normal circumstances right on the spot!
Write up follows:
Cadassial and Norris checked the stairs carefully: no levers, rocks placed there for signaling below, or pressure plates. They descended far enough to tell that there was a chamber at the bottom, not too small, with 2 doors in it on the opposite end. There was also some sort of current blowing towards us, steady and constant. Satisfied in their investigation they returned to the group and we regrouped for marching order with Thodrek, Gwyn, Rahyk, and Guyus in the front for any potential problems to come.
Once closer and with a steadier light source, party noted that the room had 5 skeletal bodies here in old and ruined/rusty equipment. They in were no discernable placing on the ground. Across the chamber were two doors, and in the middle was a single key with ruby chips on it. The party immediately suspected trap.
We checked out the chamber carefully, both Norris and Cadassial verifying that the breeze was coming from the right door. Neither door was locked and the left one was tight as if pressed against the other side. We decided that the left one would not be the likely choice and figured the right had a spear trap or some such against it. Guyus opted to open it and the party retreated across the room and on the stairs. He counted to three and threw the door open, hunched across the side of it. It wasn’t a spear; it was a cloud of caustic gas.
Guyus took a full face of it and Rahyk, Cadassial, and Norris took a lesser blast. The poison would have slain Guyus BUT he was recently hit with a protection from poison spell otherwise we’d have had a dead paladin. The other 3 were ill and coughing. Detheron and Beren spent some time working on the 3 of them, hoping that their ministrations would prevent any further poisoning later on (including some delay poisoning as well!)
As for behind the open door there was only a simple 10’x10’ room with a series of pulleys attached to a bladder and bellows to administer the poison. We disabled it for future use and then went to the 2nd door. Rayhk and Guyus went to open the chamber and as soon as they opened the door, it tore from his grasp and flew into the room. The breeze stopped and then swiftly became a sucking breeze INTO the next chamber! The two fighters slipped and fell, grabbing onto the floor to keep from sliding into what seemed to be a 10’ wide black maw.
The bones on the floor clattered against them and both Gywn and Beren had their heavy crossbow and large shield yanked away. It hit the two fighters and then flew over head and down into the maw. Guyus could see the south wall of the next room became opaque and then transparent, revealing a corridor beyond…that was NOT affected by the wind. Meanwhile the party was driving spikes into the steps and Beren was taking out the rope ladder.
The ladder was unrolled into the wind and once it was near the two fighters they proceeded to grab on and with everyone struggling, they were pulled out of the room and away from the wind, back towards the stairs. As this was going on the wind was dying down. We beheld the chasm was closing, a set of jagged doors sliding across the top...and then it shut and the wind stopped.
We stood up and took stock of ourselves, watching the next room…and the door closing slowly. Norris wanted to go and hold it open but couldn’t get there in time and then it clicked closed. A moment passed and felt the breeze coming back out from under the door, making us fearful that the trap had reset.
Plans were made on how to get past and we decided on opening the door again and waiting it out. Spikes were driven and safety lines established. Gwyn’s 7’ metal pole was hitched against the wall and we readied ourselves and the door was opened again. Wind blew and then sucked and the gaping maw slammed open and we waited again. After 4 minutes like before the cover slid over and the wind died and stopped. Spikes were driven under the door and with the door open it did not reset the trap.
We went to the field at the south end of the chamber and saw that it did stop air movement but not people. It was a 10’ wide hall running east and we lined up and went down. We travelled slowly, almost 40 paces or more before it ended at a door. On the north wall scratched into the rock were the words, “Tree’s Leaves, Sky High, Pitch Ditch, You Through.” We puzzled it over but decided we didn’t know what it meant. The door was opened and it showed a VERY large chamber, over 80’ long and 40’ wide. A pair of paths were on the ground, one blue, one green, running zig zaggingly to the other side.
A magic mouth opened up and said, something about a room full of gaping pits and two paths and one is good and one is bad. Hmm…Neither one looked any different than the other and we were a little gun shy after the last chamber. Talk was made and eventually it was decided that Detheron would use his spell to detect pits and traps…and walked along the room, looking with his enhanced sight. Immediately he noticed the green path had a pit right in the middle of it and the blue path seemed to skirt the covered holes. Thodrek went with the druid as he walked to the other side safely, yelling back that we should take the blue path.
The party came to the opposite door and it was checked (silent, unlocked, no traps) and we looked through. Long corridor, beyond our light range. We walked carefully down for some time until it turned a bit and we saw a new writing scratched on the left wall, “White to Green and then to Red is not the order to not be dead.” Hmm, we noted it but noticed that the other one didn’t seem to help either yet.
The next room loomed up and it was a doozy. Well over 30’ square, with an opening on the other side, the walls, floor, and ceiling were covered with blast marks. Half a dozen bodies were in a semicircle around a pedestal in the center of the room, their flesh blasted from their bones and said bones burned brown from some intense fire. On the pedestal was a pair of golden skeletal claws and then holding a glowing orange faceted gem stone almost a foot tall.
Yeah…no one wanted to touch it. Norris was voted to go across the chamber and he did so with exaggerated care, 10’ pole tapping along, avoiding the bodies and the glowing gem in the middle of the burned area. Once safely across he turned around and went to head back when three ogres came up behind and asked, “EH! Wot chu dewin’?”
Norris talked fast and glib about how he was on the way to Costeval the Fat and dropped a few other names from above and the ogres seemed to believe him. They led his back across the chamber, advising his to not touch the gem as it “Goes big boom” and then they beheld the entire party…no one had a weapon out (thank Odin!). They said, “Wow, lotsa you guyz gowin down, eh?” Yep, that’s us..nothing special and nothing to see here. The ogres waved farewell and went on and we collectively sighed in relief.
We made our way across the chamber and although we entertained the idea of taking a potentially exploding gem, we decided not be obviously stupid and left the treasure behind…for now. (as one member said, we can always try and take it afterwards.) We followed the corridors for some time until we had a choice: head south to a largish looking chamber or continue on and head north to a decent sized room with some sort of blue light in it. The group didn’t want to leave anything behind so the decision was made to head north…but we would check out the big room on the south.
Norris and Guyus went carefully first, looking around the place with a careful eye. It was once some sort of magical lab and sleeping chamber and there was another exit on the opposite side. Standing there all by himself and quite comfortable and relaxed was a human male of his mid-40’s and wearing traditional wizard garb; hat, cloak, robe, shoes, staff – all in white. HE motioned us over and said, “Hello” in a cheery voice. Come closer, he added. With care and trepidation the two men walked a step or two up but did not come any closer than 15’ feet.
The wizard then asked, “Do you want to see a magic trick?” Guyus and Norris turned to each other and said, “Sure.” The mage then smiled and shot a small powerful fireball at the two of them. Norris was still under a protection form Fire spell from Detheron earlier so suffered no ill effects (it seemed) but Guyus took a face full of flame. The paladin snarled and dragged out his sword to assault the mage who was fading out of sight. He hit him twice which angered the mage who then reached out and touched Guyus before disappearing.
And when it was done, ALL of Guyus’ gear had disappeared: everything. Clothes, armor, weapons, all of it. The mage was entirely gone and the group could not find him. And then Norris noticed that his money pouch was empty. ALL of his coin and gems were gone. Damned mage!!
As a party we started to give up belongings and weapons and armor for Guyus, cladding our paladin and outfitting him. Meanwhile we looked over the chamber and noted that it was as we figured before but was also at one time used by the Maker (potionmaker from the 2nd level). We found one of his note books and Detheron took it to be deciphered at a later date.
There was a corridor beyond here and we checked it out, it turned around and showed a 50 foot corridor that turned again, with a red beam of light about halfway down, around 2’ off the ground. Yeah…trap. Cadassial borrowed Detheron’s staff and threw it at the light – and then 3 crossbow bolts shot out at 6’, 4’, and 2’ in height.
Our thief went past the beam (stepping over it carefully) and went down the hall – seeing the same thing on the NEXT hall. He carefully stepped over it and the corridor “T”’ed here, going north and south. He checked them both out (North went to another red beam area, and South down to some long corridor) and then returned.
It was 6:30 PM here and we were getting exhausted. We decided to go back to the blue glowing room and see if there was a place to rest beyond it. The blue room was lit by two columns of light 2’ wide and in the middle floating about 4’ off the ground was a broadsword. Hmmm…not a good idea to touch them. We went onward and left the lights and swords behind.
Eventually we came a long corridor, a single door on the left about halfway down and another door at the end of it. We went to the 1st door and checked it out, hearing dogs beyond. Dog, that we could do. We readied ourselves and then burst in, weapons at the ready. There were 10 of them and we shot stones and arrows swiftly. Each dog that died (and it was tough to take them down) turned to dust with a mournful yelp. A number of fumbles affected the group but at one point we did have Guyus surrounded by 6 of the dogs. And the paladin jumped dodged, leapt, twisted, blocked, and avoided almost 21 consecutive attacks!!
It wasn’t much beyond until the last dog was destroyed and then we heard a roaring above and the ceiling started to cave in! The party ran for the door and once outside we watched rubble spatter about the room. It was safe at long last and we came back in. There were 4 other doors in here, but 2 of them were blocked by rubble. It was very late and we decided to rest here. Rubble was piled in front of the other 2 doors and part of it was blocked in front of the door we came in from.
Once safe we ate, dispensed what little healing we had left, and went to sleep. During the watch about 1 AM Malak woke us up and we beheld the room was NO LONGER covered in rubble, all of it was gone, and the ceiling was undamaged again. What the hell? Magic? Illusion? Do we stay or leave? We decided to stay. Some spikes were driven under the doors and we went back to bed, trying to get our 8 hours of uninterrupted rest.