I like to occasionally use the non-normal canon of monsters at least once an adventure, something off the wall or outside the norm. I've always had a fondness for Bugbears - the bristly haired damned sly and wily burly lords of the goblin race. Smarter than the average ogre and close to their strength, a deadly enemy to encounter.
And even though I had one in here, I instead speak of the Intellect Devourer. A misunderstood creature - a giant brain with clawed feet that used psionics to suck your brain dry. I run a psionic light (read - almost non-existent) campaign and instead had to take the beasty and give it a tweak - so instead - it sucks spells and intelligence. Besides clawing the shit out of you. 4' tall, weighing in at 150 lbs, and capable of blasting your spells away or devouring your intelligence - I have 2 or 3 of them running around Candlewick.
And the party only just barely encountered one.
Write up follows:
The party decided to use the key ring to mark the doors we have already been in, giving the doors and the keys similar marks with a chisel found. We realized after marking a few doors though that we were making a god-awful amount of noise and we had a wandering group of goblins come by, wondering what we were doing. It was seemingly common knowledge that we were the Doglords and friendly with the Funtarig and the Duuk Garthik clan so even though the greenskins were here and armed, they were predisposed towards being friendly and filled us in on where Tindorig the Trader was (down the hall towards the kitchen). That area was generally neutral territory and even the Two-Horn lizardmen and the Duuk Garthik goblins do not engage in meaningless combat or rivalry there.
We waited for the gobs to move on and then checked out the last two offices here, The Castellan and the Reeve. The Castellan’s office had nothing for us (although we did note that there was at one point a key box with 14 distinctive slots for Candlewick’s keys) and we then went on to the Reeve’s. The door was stuck hard and the group wanted to listen to the door before opening it. It was here that we heard faintly a “whooshing” noise and then Flimflam staggered back from the door a bit stunned. It seemed that he had “lost” two of his spells for the day. Then we heard another crash – inside the Spymaster’s office (adjoining the Reeve’s).
The door to the Spymaster’s was now locked and we talked about what to happen next. There was one of the books we had gotten from the Mage’s office (as well as the two cages that had the same name) that identified something called the Arcanocere and flipping through it quickly, we did spot a few hand drawn pictures showing a 3-4’ tall brain-like creature with 4 massive clawed legs to propel it around. As Fergus said, he would be happy never to see it.
We opted eventually to go into the Reeve’s office (since it sounded like the Arcanocere (maybe?) was no longer here but in the Spymaster’s office) where we saw it was pretty ruined. There were two points of difference: a woven basket of reeds filled with almost 2 dozen fresh eggs was on the desk, and along the north wall was a red felt gnome’s cap. We looked over the books (trading documents for roughly 25 years during Candlewick’s standing) and decided we did NOT trust the eggs. At all. Where did they come from? There were no chickens? And why here in a strange room with a stuck door and had once had a 4’ tall walking brain monster in it?
The party used a coat rack we picked up in the Castellan’s Office and brought the eggs and basket down to the Mage’s Office, opened the secret door, and placed them in here sealing it up behind us.
Flimflam took the hat.
It was 20 to 4 now and the party wanted to talk to Tindorig the Trader so we travelled down to the Kitchen’s hall. Here were 3 goblins and 2 lizardmen waiting. The gobs offered to let us cut ahead of the lizardmen (who were just staring at us, saying nothing) and we opted not to, not wanting to piss off the lizardmen. The gobs were ushered into the dining hall (according to our map) by a paid or really skuzzy Halflings and we waited.
It was while we waited that a 5’ tall, strange amphibian humanoid (Bullywug) hopped down the hall to us with a crude sack on its back. It spoke to us, identifying itself as Murgo, and was dismayed to find even more new comers stuck here in Candlewick. It seemed there were only a handful of the frog-men left and they had been reduced in territory to a smaller place on the 2nd floor. We had a good conversation with Murgo who did trade with Marcus some sort of potato-like soaked item (supposed delicacy). When the Bullywug went in to talk to Tindorig and the lizardmen came out, they were surprised to see us let the bullywug in ahead of us.
It was commented that the lizardmen and the Bullywug were on peaceful terms and our being courteous to the frogman meant something to the lizardmen. We waited until our turn and were let in next for trade. Two very skuzzy Halflings were here, Jether and Loink. Loink was…special. Slack jawed, staring into space, not right in the head. Apparently he was hit a few times in the past by the Arcanocere and it made him a bit of a vegetable – but unpredictably dangerous as well.
At this point we meet Tindorig – and he’s a bugbear. Some 7’, 350 lbs, goblinoid but huge and covered in bristly bearlike wiry hair from ears to toes. Chased goblin thieves on flying balloon here 8 years ago. Jether and Loink have been his slaves for a long time. He fills in some of the mystery to the party for a trade of some items, answering questions for a bit. The Crimson Sanctuary is some sort of ritual to Hestia, something the long ago spymaster and mage were doing when they were some of the last to stay behind. There is an altar somewhere that would need to be carefully removed in the same order it was built, and if done, the Sanctuary would be dropped.
Tindorig does not know exactly where it is except that it is NOT in a common traveled area. After a few weeks of him being here he had to take a neutral stance as Sisspak, The Two-Horn Tribe, and the Duuk Garthik factions were approaching combat (which even for his knowledge of expertise, would have meant his death). He does sell the party a key to bedchamber on the 2nd floor as well a bucket of black paint – making sure that they understand his neutrality in this and all things.
It’s about 5 now and we go to the door at the end of the hall here and try keys until we find one to open it, revealing a noisy and duty corridor that goes under the thick walls of the keep itself. Just inside and to the right is a set of dense portcullis and to the left the passage (4’ wide) travels in the gloom. We light torches and a group of 9 goblins show up to trade and meet with us, saying that Funtarig wants a conversation with us.
We take the gobs with us into the corridor (tight!) and travel along, shutting the door behind us, and one of the gob’s point out that there is a secret door here that leads back to goblin area! He takes us through and we find ourselves INSIDE a secret set of passages between the rooms on the west side of the keep.
We meet with Funtarig who suggests a siege on the Two-Horn’s in the AM and he will supply 12 of his best warriors for this attempt. We beg off and say we want to scout and will talk to him tomorrow and maybe have another plan of action. From here we take the secret passages again back to the throne room and then out there down the great hall, to the grand foyer, and then outside to the courtyard.
Wary of stirges, we hide out in the farrier while the horses are tended to and then decide to check the well in the fading light. We make a crude torch, put it in the well bucket, and lower the chain down into the shaft. The well goes down 25’ to the water line, and below that maybe 10’ or more. The water that comes up seems fine to drink and the group moves on.
From here it’s to the priest’s chambers where we clear out much of the broken furnishings, lock and brace the concealed door to the chapel, and paint the thick leaded glass windows with the black paint we traded from Tindorig to keep our own light out. Some caltrops are placed outside both sets of doors and we eat some cold rations. As the time passes 7:30 Marcus copies a spell into his book and Flimflam dispenses goodberries before casting the spell again in anticipation for tomorrow.