Whenever it happens, no matter the group, it always freaks the group out. Mindless undead, snapping teeth, rotting bodies - they can take - but put a voice to that and it raises the "what the fuck is that" level to those that face it.
I have had ghouls talk and spectres merely moan. Whatever the situation, it always manages to drive the party to distraction.
Write up follows:
The group had discussed leaving getting to a split decision on pressing on “one more room” and cutting now, with a few more votes landing on staying and see what else we could find. So we spent more time binding cuts and applying splints, while Flimflam redispensed healing berries to those who needed it. Eventually we were prepared and new lights were lit before we set off once more.
We decided not to take the southern corridor that led to some cramped passage with the sounds of zombies behind it, instead going north and east. The ground was sloped here, perhaps 15 degrees, and went beyond the limit of our lights, although Zeta informed us that according to his infravision, there was nothing “living” down there to concern us. So he went first, picking his way with care, but his spear rang off the wall and he clattered noisily…which drew the attention of a trio of deathdogs from somewhere further along the corridor.
Our scout beat a hasty retreat ahead of the multi-headed canines, just in time for Pecheri to blow two of them up with a pair of detonation arrows…wounding the third terribly in the process. A short volley finished it off and we considered ourselves lucky to have avoided a possibly deadly situation.
Once more Zeta went down the hall until his torchlight revealed…3 humanoid figures hunched over the death dogs and eating the carcasses raw. And one of them said, in discernible Common, “Douse the light.”
Our scout kept them talking and focused on the dead deathdogs, imitating that he was a necromancer’s apprentice to someone they supplied as Karstimis. After stuffing their face they shouldered one of the carcasses and allowed Zeta to retreat while they pressed on back the way they came.
The party waited and discussed…talking undead? Pawn suggested possibly they might be wights? Holy crap…seriously? The long and short of it…based upon what they had said, they might be heading back to the necromancer, which we assumed was the dwarf. And should follow them. Right…follow them.
So we picked our way back down the slope (bloody stains, no undead or deathdogs) and took the turn to the left, following it a bit further until we arrived at a large chamber. There was a set of stairs going up on the right wall, and along the north, 9’ above the ground, was a corridor heading in that direction. No ladder was visible. There were small natural alcove where candles had once burned (although 2 were still there), giving some minor light. Dog shit and old bones abounded.
We looked and noted that there were bloody drips and stains heading towards the corridor 9’ above the ground, leading us to understand the undead had gone that direction. We wanted to follow, but not risk any problems. We checked the base of the floor under the passage and noted fallen rock there. Lots of it. None larger than 25#. But there were enough pieces there to identify that whatever it was was at one point in time a statue of a pony. Broken now, but at one time, life sized.
Zeta opted to climb and check it out, inching his way up the wall until he arrived at the top. More blood stains here, a corridor heading straight and sloping upward before turning to the left. That and lots of horizontal scratches on the walls between 2 and 4 feet in height.
No one trusted it.
So we positioned ourselves along the base and room, weapons out and watching with care. Zeta went along, testing the ground until he arrived at the slop and went up a few feet. The corridor continued along at 30 degree angles and then turned to the left – not a 90 degree turn, but a curve to the corridor. Right. Fucking trap. He was out of here.
It was when he turned around though that there was s button on the ground, right in the center of the corridor. It wasn’t there before, but it was not. 6” diameter, iron looking, shiny, sticking up 3” tops. Right. Not going to touch the damned thing.
And then Auri who was at the base of the passage with Quintus, saw a button there as well. Quintus wanted to touch it – I mean they made it, and it’s a button, it must be touched! No one would let him. And Zeta’s button seemed to glow red when he tried to step around it, making him even more concerned.
But it was Caeteccius who saw another button, this one at the base of the steps on the eastern wall, and not knowing about the other two, said, “That’s peculiar,” and touched it.
Zeta heard something groan up the passage and he turned the run back to the deathdog room (stomping on the button along the way) as there was an unholy racket suddenly sounding behind him. Auri and Quintus’ button suddenly glowed red and they did NOT push it. BUT they saw Zeta JUMP out of the passage, getting hit from behind and then rolled over by a 9’ wide, 4’ diameter, pointed ended cylinder that crashed with a terrible racket and then rolled to a stop at the other side.
They dragged Zeta out of the way (down to a single hit point) and then heard heavy noises on the stairs. Coming down was a crude approximation of a 5’ tall figure with reversed hooks for hands hanging out of its arms. The statue was of solid stone and trundled along the path the stone had crushed, dragging the hooks on the floor as if it would be picking up anything. Then it went to Auri’s button and pressed it with his head. And then faded away.
Ok, now what the fuck? We suspected it went to the dwarf which was going to make someone wonder where it came from and why it was triggered. Also, what about the wights? Other deathdogs? Now what the hell? We suspected that the statue came from the stairs and NOT from the passage above us. So when it was done and had to come back here again, it would take the stairs. So if we take the stairs we could be on our way to the necro/dwarf.
We looked. At the top of the steps was another dwarven looking hook handed statues. We checked it out, steps went up, crossed 20’ or so of ground, and then went down again on the other side. Simple. Two more dwarven statues up there on that side. Ok. Went to check further and the top step clicked when it was stepped on. Fuck. Brought up broken rock to mimic Zeta’s weight and pulled him off, step rose again. But nothing happened. We spent 20 minutes discussing it and decided to take the stone step apart.
It was a bit heavy, so we flipped it up and onto the landing in order to see what mechanism was under the step in the first place. Spring loaded pressure sensitive pistons and a 4 setting rotating place marker. Ok, but WHAT does it do? We spent 15 minutes trying to figure it out, but didn’t know what it all meant. So we decided to shelve it for now, allowing Zeta to pick his way across the 20’ expanse to the other side. So there went our scout, stepped one foot over the edge of the landing…triggered a pit…a fell 20’ to the bottom.
Hurt badly, he twisted his back and lay there for a few seconds…and 4 spears thrust out of the walls at the 3’ height and skewered the air where he would have been if he was standing. Holy crap! And then the cover closed.
The group spent no time in getting together a plan to bring Zeta free. A light spell was placed on a rock, two spikes were readied, and finally a chunk of the removed stair itself was lifted up – and when the trap was triggered, they filled it with light and then disabled the trap mechanism by jamming it open. Rope was tossed down to Zeta who was hoisted up and more goodberries were eaten…and then the party backed away as the trap mechanism was smoking and giving forth little bits of flame. We waited at the bottom of the stairs until the damage seemed to stop (Zeta was healed) and then crept up to check the area out again.
The pit was 9’ wide by 8’ long, taking up just under half the surface of the 20’ corridor. Quintus was sure there would be another pit on the other half of the corridor and no one disagreed with our sorcerer. But how could we cross now?
That’s when the party decided to go back to the wagons where the Matriarch/Patriarch once were and using their tools, disassemble enough of the wagon’s base planking to create a bridge of sorts to cross the open pit and the assumed next one. Before we did anything though, we distrusted the one remaining dwarven statue on this side, so the party used some poles and crowbars…and tilted it over until it fell 20’ to smash at the base below.
From there it was easy to span the first pit, where the group then did the same with the second (after verifying it did exist…and breaking it). Which led us to discuss how to avoid pit traps in the future. We needed some sort of weight heavy enough to trigger it, but nothing that would get any of us hurt.
What resulted was taking off one of the solid wagon wheels from the wagons (80# plus), string rope through the axle hole, make a sling of rope longer than the radius of the wheel, and use Zeta’s pole as a guide holding it upright over the wheel while the party trundles it forward. Finally a light spell was centered on the wheel and we were ready.
We crossed the bridge, went down the next stairs, but our noises had attracted a 6 count of skeletons who came up to assault the party. And Pawn turned them! Which was a surprise because some of the party members were convinced that Pawn was conning the group and really had no clerical powers at all. 5 of the skeletons ran back down the corridor and to the left and the remaining one was finished off with a four count of attacks. From here we decided to use our “wheel plan” and go follow the skeletons in the direction they had run off to and either kill them, or if not, hopefully find the necromancer/Hades priest there.