This site is an online accumulation of the Post Reports for my current ongoing D&D Campaign - for anyone who might be interested in reading them.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Meet 112, Adv 6, 4/16/16

The party came upon a section of the adventure that I had written in as a lark but is not needed for the adventure itself. It's got a bit more powerful enemies and issues with it, plus there is the possibility for some world changing effects if they follow it to the end.

My favorite part though are the enchanted boats - one's a barge, the other a sloop. Both obviously royal in line and design, well maintained and fancifully carved, the type of ship you could picture any well heeled noble to own.

And they both can kick ass. Right now they are still learning about them but if they can figure out how best to drive them, they have some wonderful things at their fingertips and under their boots.

Write up follows:

With the snowfall continuing we were unwilling to risk leaving now or soon and went over our food stores, which were pitiful. Two days, tops? There was talk about clearing out the former garden bed along the courtyard and planting the potatoes while Flimflam performed a plant growth spell on them. This would triple the potato portion of our rations after a couple of spells and should give us another two days at the end of all things.

But where do we go? Back to Varohlem and face the Baron? Lie to him about what we found or just bow to the agreement we made and give him half? What about if he tried to take it all? Could we risk taking the river all the way and not running into problems? None of us were boatmen and we’d have to either steal one or pay off someone else to take us, and the rivermen were all pretty tight and connected to the Baron.

What about skipping Varohelm and going overland? That would mean we’d have to risk the giant cats and the Reisenvald that wander the woods. There were also according to the locals the former orc enclave to the north near Stormbringer Peak and the other wizard’s former base. Do we go there? How does the Skychariot fit in? We’d need horses to run it properly but we didn’t have any and the people of Varohelm had ponies, oxen, and donkeys. Not going to help us much.

We mulled these over for almost an hour while the snow fell and then split up the party a bit with a number of the people slogging to the courtyard and clear off the snow to start tearing the old planting beds apart. Steiner, Geld, Tranis, Flimflam, Avidius, and Erd were going to head river to what we could see at the limit of visibility was some sort of lake and seemed to a small falls that fed the river here. Marcs was left in charge and the rest of the group was working hard to bring the gardens out in the open.

We trudged out of Castle Sterling, the bar dropping in place as we walked away. We stayed near the river but not too close where we might fall in or slip, the snow billowing against our faces, a trail forming in the foot deep plus drifts. It took us almost 25 minutes to walk to 1/3 of a mile across the snow covered swampy ground, the land sloping up as we went further uphill and towards the lake. We could see the river was blocked by an ancient dam of fitted stones. It was wide, 70’ or so, and the top had water running over the 8’+ width of the stones there. We could not tell how tall the dam was but we assumed it was over 30’ based upon the depth of the river here.

The space beyond the dam was blocked up, forming a lake roughly a quarter mile wide by a half mile long. Abutting the dam on the far shore was a squat house of formed stone, maybe 25’ square, and a couple of small windows looking out. We could risk getting there by crossing the top of the dam but the rushing water and freezing temperature made everyone uncomfortable with that idea.

On our side of the lake, another 2-300’ beyond the dam was a leaning boathouse. From here we could see the doors were still closed and the roof although sagging, still seemed sound. With little conversation, we headed to the boathouse to check it out. There were two doors to enter but were currently closed and choked with snow. So we used our shovels and then crowbars to pry the door open and finally peer inside.

The boathouse was roughly 100’ wide and 50’ deep, with most of it constructed so it was actually built over the lake. Over the years it had settled slightly and leaned into the lake. There were three docks inside and 2 boats tied up to them. One was a single masted sloop that would seat 6 or 7, and the other was a 3 ton travel barge, rear ruddered and looked like 8 rowers from below decks to power it. The group decided the check out the barge first. Getting on it was difficult since the pier was in poor shape and the landing ramp was down the end of the pier. Flimflam dared it and Avidius used Darkblade to port himself onto the deck of the barge. Together the two friends then dragged the landing ramp onboard and then thrust it over the back of the barge to the back of the boathouse.

Everyone now on board we looked around. The deck was gritty and dirty, but the ropes, anchors, and poles and gaffs were put away properly. There was a set of steps going down to the cargo hold and the center of the deck did lift away to drop cargo below this way. We went below, the ceiling was only 6’ and most of us had to duck. A set of hammocks and a simple galley was near the bow, and towards the back was the captain’s quarters. We looked in and noted it was pretty empty and sodden from over a decade of poor weather.

The mattress was a mess and the papers had all turned to pulp. There was a flop-desk near the aft but the blotter that once sat on it was now gone. Scratched into the wood were the numbers “4763” which we noted. There was a foot locker that was still sealed and inside was the barge captain formal dress: shirt, pants, hat, and boots. The bottom of the footlocker was not level with the ground and some digging and prying had us lift it and reveal a handful of gold and silver coins as well as a number of fancy stones. Nice.

As for the captain’s belongings, Steiner and Avidius got into a good natured back and forth on who owns it with the priest claiming the medallioned tri-corner hat as his own and refused to take it off. All that was left was to check out the bilge and for that we made our way to the front of the cargo deck and lifted the bilge hatch. It was dark down there, and the odor wasn’t that bad. A quick light was used and we saw the bilge area was about 18” tall above water and minimal decking which was a single length of wood that ran the length of the keel into the darkness of the ship. The water was dark and we guessed perhaps a foot or so deep. No one wanted to touch it.

Flimflam volunteered to crawl the length of the bilge and make sure nothing was down there so he made his way within, and on hands and knees, crawled along the boards towards the back of the ship. It was while he was almost there that he noted a box on the decking against the back of the barge by the rudder shield. It was a foot and a half by a foot by 8 inches, had no obvious lid or seams, and was held in place by 4 silver chains that connected each corner to the hull of the barge. WTF?

Avidius? Can you come down here and check this out? The thief good naturedly grumbled his way into the smelly barge and crawled to the druid. Swapping places they took a look at it and he was sure it wasn’t trapped but didn’t see how to open it. When he said “Open up” though, the top of the box lifted away with a faint hum and we looked inside. There was an elongated dried heart that the chains of the box ran through and were buried in the flesh – pulling it taut. Flimflam asked to see any magic and the box/heart glowed, along with the chains, and faintly the base of the barge. Crap – the barge was magical. Flimflam was convinced the heart was from some sort of giant avian, a Roc maybe?

The two of them ran from the bilge and we followed them as they went to the top deck and back to the rudder where they looked through the fanciful carvings on everything and there it was, right in the middle of the rudder handle, a spread winged bird taking up a lot of the surface. We wanted to try the barge out.

So two of us went down the cargo deck where they each grabbed an oar and prepared themselves. Steiner, still wearing the captain’s hat, took his place at the helm. Tranis worked the pulleys overhead until the ropes went taut and the boathouse doors leading the lake slowly opened. The last two brought the landing ramp aboard and then used the guide poles to push us off the pier and out into the water.

The barge was difficult to maneuver, plus we only had 1/4th of the oars manned, and the rudder did turn but it was slow and with almost no forward momentum, Steiner couldn’t get much out of it. We then looked for levers, switches – none. So that left Steiner calling out and willing and trying things. It was “up” that triggered something. The barge shuddered under our feet and then majestically rose out of the water until only the keel and the rudder were left on the lake. The oars still were able to function and the entire 3 ton travel barge was hovering 2’ out of the water.

Now when we maneuvered the barge it went much better, the massive vessel skipping along as very little of it was actually in the water! We were able to get it up to a fast walking speed and the turns were sharp and easy as the barge listed over. We also were able to coast a bit but when Steiner took his hands off the rudder the barge crumped back down to the lake surface. Testing a bit more he was able to get us to come down smoother if he said “down”.

So now we wanted to test out the single masted sloop, so we drove the barge back to the boathouse, turned it around, and back paddled it into place. Once there we tied it back up and pulley shut the doors. Steiner left the captain’s hat back in the captain’s quarters and we made our way off the barge and onto the sloop.

It was smaller, still very well made, and in decent condition. We climbed aboard and looked around. The sail was wrapped against the boom and tied in place; the rudder was at the back of the boat and had a single seat there. There was seating for 6 others and the bilge hatch was near the rudder but was smaller, perhaps 2’ square tops.

We looked around and found a space under the helmsman’s seat that had another box with 6 silver chains and a chunk of lumpy grey metal banded to the transom. We looked in the box and found the chains went through it until they were lodged in an elongated and stretched heart – this one some sort of feline (according to our druid).

So we went to pole the sloop out of the dock after opening the bay doors and realized that with the slow sinking of the boat house over the years, the mast did not clear the lintel anymore. We thought of different ways to drop the sloop 4-6 inches to get it to clear but it was Steiner, hand on the tiller who said “down” and the front of the boat literally dove down and water started to flow over the gunwales. “Up! Up! Up!” and the boat righted itself. We heard water racing into the bilge and the deck eventually cleared with water.

Ok, trying it again, Steiner held the rudder tight and willed the sloop “down” again until the mast cleared the lintel, then we poled ourselves out of the house and he relaxed it and though up and we returned to normal. It took us almost 15 minutes to learn to raise and lower the single sail but once we did, it became a breeze.

We then put the boat through its paces and tried out a bunch of scenarios. It was fast, like a horse cantering sort of fast. Also, it could jump; 7’ up and with a full sail, 60’ across. The jumps and drops played havoc on the passengers and we were jostled a bunch. The situation got more interesting when Steiner mused back on the down thing, wondering why it would do that? So tentatively said down…and the sloop nosed over and dived.

Water washed in front of us, up and up and up until we were below the water in a bubble of air. The deck around the mast was now glowing in a white circle that as we watched, a sliver appeared along the 12 o clock position and then slowly, slowly crawled to the right. We could stick our hands out the side of the boat and touch the water with no negative impacts. And we kept up the decent speed under the water.

We sailed about a bit before resurfacing and then feeling confident, decided that we were going to dock it over on the opposite shore near the dam house. So we got closer and closer and then the sail was dropped but the sloop nosed up and actually rode up on the land at least 7’! What the hell? We raised sail again and Steiner was able to drive the sloop on the land until it nosed back into the water. The boat goes on land. Very nice.

We drove it back around, pulled up to the dock and once more docked it partially on land. From there we disembarked and tied the boat up at a cypress tree that was close to the water and then turned as one to enter the dam house.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Meet 111, Adv 6, 4/2/16

The big drive for this adventure was to go and get the magic weapons that had been commissioned by the former Tower Master (Cornelius) 13 years ago. The group now has them and spent some time playing with them in order to see what they might do. Most of them have been identified at this time to some degree and the party seems pleased with their haul.

They also came upon a broken cart called a Sky Chariot. It was here and was supposed to be worked on by Erazmus but hadn't gotten around to it before him and Ceril had their falling out and combat. What was great was watching the party in real time go around the table and brainstorm the various ways to fix the cart and to do so with the tools and skills available at the table and in the Castle. I don't like "one roll and the problem is gone" bull and prefer the older 1st/2nd edition way of talking out the problems and solutions so this was pretty wonderful to see the group do.

I hope they appreciate the potential greatness that the Sky Chariot could mean for them as I know for a fact that down the path, I have some situations coming up that this item would come in very handy.

Write up follows:

We carefully took the weapons out of the vault area and then in turn manhandled the chariot the same way. The chariot had the right wheel missing 3 spokes and 6 of them were split. Plus, the axle (3” diameter hollow pipe) had a split on the right side about 2 and a half feet long.

Once in the dining room we each spent some time practicing with the weapons and getting a feel for them. Three of them were sort of brutish, and three of them had a finesse to them. But we spent the time testing them out and doling them about the party. Firstly was the broadsword “Hew” which not only gave forth a white glow while wielded, but the glow could intensify as needed by the wielder. Steiner took this one.

The other broadsword, “Darkblade” was claimed by Avidius who not only felt the watery dark steel was preternaturally sharp, but on some practice cuts was able to dimension door himself up to 40’ away 3 times a day with the eldritch weapon. The spear, “Defender of Sparta” was adorned with markings of Zeus, Ares, and Athena and Erd put the weapon through its practices. He did note though that when he began practicing with the weapon defensively, that the spear leapt in place to deflect what few blows were aimed his way.

Geld was given the boar spear, “Garrund’s Breaker” and it was only after a few strong thrusts that Marcus’ henchman found out the spear played havoc on shields with punishing blows. Speaking of “Havoc”, it was the name of the battle hammer and Flimflam put the meteoric iron headed maul through its paces. It gave forth a green glow and even though it was heavy headed, the gnomish druid was able to handle it with ease showing proficiency with it that he normally didn’t have.

Lastly was “Night’s Father”, the short bow, which Tranis was given. He couldn’t seem to get anything from it but the group realized with its name that it might only work after sunset (it was about noon now) so we shelved it for later.

The chariot was going to need some work. It also had a dweomer to it, and with the carvings of Poseidon and Apollo adorning it, we wanted to make sure it would survive the trip so we started to look at what we could do to repair it. Some mending spells on the split spokes would help, but we were still 3 shy and the axle was going to need to be patched as well, and a mend spell would not suffice.

Taulib, Corane, and a few others started work on carving some new spindles from the remains of the chairs in the dining room while the party broke for lunch. From there we discussed every possible iteration on the chariot and how to fix it from a new axle to fill to carve to repair to whatever.

We took the busted wheel off (luckily between our henchmen and hirelings we had a number of carpenters, wheelwrights, and teamsters at our disposal) and took a better look at the broken axle. The axle was 3” in diameter, with the inner hole being a bit under 1”, meaning the wall of the axle was ½” thick and 7’ long. The decision was made to fill it.

We had tons of pewter dishes, bowls, and mugs in the dining room so the party took three of the largest cast iron cook pots, lit a hot fire in the stove, and loaded the pots on the stove with the pewter within so it would melt over time. We then went out in the snow (it was snowing, and quite a bit!) and pried up a few cobbles from the courtyard. From there we dug down until we hit a clay mixture and brought in buckets of the clay which we packed around the split to keep the eventual molten pewter from coming out.

We then dragged the axle and the one wheel still attached to the center stair, stood it vertical, and then built a number of wooden braces against it so it wouldn’t shift. We didn’t have a funnel so we took a double handled cooking pot and had Marcus pound the crap out of the bottom and then auger it until he managed to make a reverse dimple and a hole. Taking the pot up to the landing we made a platform at the bend in the stairs, attached the two chains to the pot to hold it in place and positioned the hole right over the hole in the axle. Perfect.

With everyone ready and the place cleared, we had three people bring the pots of molten pewter in one at a time and climb the stairs to the funnel held in place. Just before they started pouring, Steiner called out to Apollo and cast Heat Metal on the axle, raising the temperature of the iron pole and allowing the molten pewter to maintain its properties and make it all the way to the bottom of the pipe.

It worked wonderfully. We needed two pots of molten pewter to fill the axle and then let it sit and cool after it was completed. Instead of mending, Flimflam cast woodshape on the axles that were broken and fixed them that way, while the three others that had been carved were reset in the wheel. It was about 5:30 at this time and we all decided to let everything sit for a while and retreat out of the castle back to the tower with our wood and rest there tonight.

While the majority of the group got dinner going and warmed up, Tranis and Flimflam returned to Castle Sterling to hunt the lone cat still wandering the halls and test out the ranger’s magic bow. With the sun now down and the evening deepening, Tranis was able to feel the bow come to life. While holding it it gave him superior infravision and when they tracked the cat to the servant’s hall and laundry room, the arrows flew fasters, straighter, and truer. Plus, we killed the cat.

They took its body back to the tower and the party ate (not the cat) and then rested. We slept the night and awoke the next day to see over a foot of snow on the ground and MORE falling today. The temperature was in the low teens and might hit mid 20’s today tops.

Today the party wanted to test out the chariot so we dug a path from the doors, maneuvered it outside, and then hitched it up to our two mules. Steiner was on board as a priest of Apollo and Flimflam was as well as a druid to help inspire the donkeys to run. We had a few hirelings help to drive it as we puttered our way back and forth across the courtyard.

The mules did their best but were not inspired to really “run” so to speak. What they did though was move quick enough that everyone noticed little bits of flame and fire dance up from the sides and spokes of the chariot only to disappear again a moment later. We had to get faster.

So we cleared out a larger area of the courtyard coaxed the donkeys to the end, turned them around, and then everyone did all they could to cajole, coax, plead, and drive the donkeys to their top speed.

And it worked. They trudged and the cart made these chuffing noises and the fires grew more consistent and then there was a solid “WHOOSH” sound and the cart burst into flames. The flames rolled across the wheels and also seemed to spark out from under the donkey’s hooves. And the skychariot lived up to its name and arced upwards at a 30 degree angle and took to the sky, fire roiling about it.

This of course terrified the donkeys who slowed down and the cart chuffed loudly and from 8’ off the ground angled back down and crashed to the snow covered cobbled the two donkeys frightened and kicking their braces, and the right wheel made a snapping sound and two more spokes on that side busted (but the axle held!) and the fires extinguished.

Once we calmed the animals down and unhitched them, we dragged the chariot back inside Castle Sterling and basked in our good fortune but were now unsure how to get it to work for us since the donkeys don’t seem to run fast enough and were terrified enough to drop from the sky.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Meet 110, Adv 6, 3/26/16

There are some monsters as a DM I never get to play with for obvious reasons - the beholder is one of them. When I wrote this up long ago, there was a beholder in the dungeon. In the intervening decades I've moved it around a bit but wanted to make sure it stayed there.

But I don't like the idea of insta-kill and the group is only about 4/5th level. So I nerfed it a bit - took out the Ray of Death and the Disintegrate eye. I also changed the Charm to Sleep, and then changed the Flesh to Stone to Immolation (1d8 damage - 3 rounds). Then I let it fly.

And the damned mage took permanent hit point and constitution damage to empower the ring of power he had to shrink the damned thing down. Even then I said with the anti-magic eye (even though it wasn't looking at the mage) it was a 1/3 chance to save. And the dice showed it failed and the beholder was killed in two shots.

Now, the party had spent a week agonizing over this cliff-hanger fight with a beholder and had tactics up the whazoo - so when it was over in two hits, they were sort of stunned and giddy.

So after the total fight was done, I said lets redo it - but this time without the ring working.

And even with the nerfing, it was pretty much a TPK. The Beholder and the Cat Statues tore the group apart and the way they were positioned around the room, I was able to use every eye pretty much every round (when fighting a beholder is limited on the number of eyes he/she can bear down in a given direction). So we had two people survive - the thief played possum and stabilized at 0 hp until the fight was over where he then scavenged healing and then went to the mage and had the ring of power turn him to 1/24th of his size - from which he then ran to the door of the mage's tower an slipped underneath. And the druid after getting telekinesised into the ceiling and walls and beaten to death wild shaped into a mouse after playing possum and at battle end grabbed the ring of power from the floor in his mouth and followed the thief into the tower.

The other 18 people, animals, and hirelings? All killed - some of them terribly.

With an unnerfed Beholder I have no idea how a 9th level party even has a chance.

Write up follows:

Avidius felt himself pulled forward, escaping the notice of the closest growling cat, his preternatural sword skipping him across the floor in order to strike the beholder before anyone had a chance to get caught in the flailing rays starting to scintillate in the aberration’s many eyes. However, before he could strike, Marcus had an internal battle of wills and an accord with the Ring of Power he was wearing and pointed the copper band in the monster’s direction.

His body was cannibalized as it empowered the arcanic energies of the artifact, his life essence siphoning away as it fueled the titanic energies of the ring and send a blast of yellow and white fire to bathe the beholder. It surrounded the beast, the magic fading and rippling away as it passed before its central eye. However, the ring’s power and Marcus’ sacrifice could not be so easily brushed aside. The encasing bolt of magic crept inexorably around the monster, pushing the anti-magic aura further inward until the circle was complete and the monster was engulfed. There was a large “Whooshing” sound followed by a scream and the beholder collapsed inward on itself until it was reduced to roughly 2 ½ inches in diameter and floating very slowly as it struggled to escape.

Avidius, seeing a much smaller target now, skittered to a slide and swung his sword up, slamming into the now 1/24th size beholder. The cut went deep, spinning the aberration wildly as it tried to right itself. One of its eyes sent forth a blinding blast which hit Avidius but it was much smaller and weaker – succeeding in blinding the thief but not permanently. And then Tranis took aim from across the room and let fly.

And the shaft blew through the beholder, skewering it like an apple, before hitting the wall on the opposite side of the chamber and coming to a stop.

Beholder dead.

Three stone cats left to fight.

One of them was instantly shut down by a blast from Marcus’ dispel rod and the last two did their efforts to take the party down but they were unable to do anything more than wound a few of us before they were broken and smashed to pieces.

The fight over we examined the dead beholder and noted that its anti-magic gaze was still working and seemed to have a limit around 3 inches or so. In order to keep the beholder’s special skill available for us, we carefully pulled the arrow free from its body and then cast gentle repose on it – preventing it from decaying for the next 5 days until we get a chance to stuff it or preserve it permanently.

Some healing was dispensed and then the party had the chance to look in the cylinder vault at what the beholder had been guarding. There were 2 broad swords, a boar spear, a regular spear, a short bow, a stout battle hammer, and a 2 wheeled-low walled chariot that showed some damage.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Meet 109, Adv 6, 3/19/16

The party has not stumbled on real treasure for a long time so when they were exploring Castle Sterling and came to the Vault and pulled back and the Treasury and pulled back, the inner DM was yelling at them "You're so close!" 

After resting though they did the further exploration and did indeed find not only the soft treasure of the wine bottles but the hard treasure of the coins in the coffers. Good for them! Now they just need a way to transport 8 stone coffers out of the swampy castle and 22 days of hard travel back to Shakun and home!

Write up follows:

We decided to give the castle a once over and opted to start with the downstairs and the entrance room we had first come in. It was a parlor and the torches we had lit the day before had burned out. But the room showed a set of double stairs on the north wall that headed up to the 2nd floor (and most likely the spider filled room we had recently been in). There were many other doors in here and we assumed that some led to the halls and others deeper in the castle. Whatever the case, we took stock of our situation and opted to eat lunch for now and maybe hand out some healing.

A trip out to the donkeys in the tower showed they were still ok but the temperature was dropping. We refilled their feed bags and made sure they had water before getting food stuffs off the packs and bringing them back to the castle for us to eat. Some lesser restorations were also doled out and it took much of the drain off our party. Good berries were also eaten and we all felt much better. It was after 3 when we wrapped up lunch and wanted to explore some more. The door from the parlor on the right hand side, north wall was the best choice to hit next. It revealed a kitchen in some decent condition. There was a pantry as well (empty) and a set of double doors went from here to the spacious dining room – three tables and seating for 40. From here we wanted to explore the hallways and settled on the eastern halls first.

It was long, the length of the castle, with a few side corridors that we explored with care first. It was dark and Avidius, Tranis, and Viridia gave the areas a once over. The walls down one of the side narrow corridors led to an alcove area with a collapsed couch, the walls were moldy and the air smelled foul. We decided to give it a wide berth and retreated to the main hall. From here we walked north and made a right down the further corridor.

Some investigation showed it came to another area with smaller halls and rooms, from the site and spaces we passed through, we suspected these might be the guards’ chambers and corridors. The party wanted to find the Castellan’s office; this was not the right direction. The Castellan should be near the front of the castle, near the entrance, and we were already pretty deep in the castle’s interior.

The group made their way back to the hall, and then from there, Steiner deduced that one of the doors would lead to the kitchen again – and it did. From here we proceeded to the dining room and then out the dining room doors to the western great hall. The castle was built symmetrical so we followed the northern hall to the side corridor and found ourselves once again in an area of smaller rooms and chambers. Seemed to be the servants’ quarters. From here we ventured south and ended up near the bathroom with the mice that we had slept in. Private bathroom? Maybe. Who would merit one? The Castellan.

So we went to the door next to the bathroom, opened it with care, and found the Castellan’s private chambers. The clothes closet had a few items in it, a roll up desk, bed, chest of drawers. But it was all older, worn, water logged in places. We took our time exploring and checking everything out. The ring of keys we had found in the northwest tower did come from here (the Castellan’s keys were missing) and the log books showed many visitors coming in and out. Wizard Lord Erazmus featured prominently in many of the dealings and the local lord was never mentioned except in passing and typically in lower case. The only other thing of note was Lord Ceril Stormbringer of Stormbringer Tower had some dealings with Wizard Lord Erazmus and the two of them had a number of meetings and heated exchanges – typically about something regarding a cart of chariot of some sort that Erazmus was to either repair or return to Ceril.

We took a torch from the hall here and adding it to out light sources, went back to the central parlor and decided to try and find our way to the wizard’s tower via way of the doors north of the dining room and kitchen.

There was a hall here and stairs going both UP and DOWN, as well as a few doors down a narrow burned hall. Observations showed some sort of fire had occurred here and blasted some of the doors off their hinges. There were scriptoriums and from what we could tell, someone was most likely vaporized in one of them. The northern most door seemed to have held.

It was 4:30 or so and we decided to not explore further, but to get back to the tower we had stayed in earlier and rest for the night, getting a better trip tomorrow when we were well rested and in good repair. We cobbled together a few troughs and cast a couple of create water spells. Skins refilled we cleaned up and lit a fire in the stoves, ate dinner, and eventually fell asleep.

The next day, Icemonth the 2nd, was cold and bitter – and the snow that had been flaking that night before was now increasing in intensity and falling at a constant regular rate. It was already a few inches deep and from what Tranis could tell us, was going to last for many hours to come.

We returned to Castle Sterling and made our way back to the northern hall and the scriptoriums. Another torch taken from the sconces helped flesh out our supply and we made some noise about where to go next. We checked upstairs, finding a sitting room and library but nothing of value to us. So we went back to the main floor, and then downstairs. The burning from the long ago blast had made it to the cellar room and broke many of the barrels and boxes down here (seemed to have been supplies at one point).

There were two other doors out of here so we checked out the first one. It had held from the impact long ago, was stout, banded in iron, and in good repair. We opened it with the Castellan’s keys and went down a short corridor to another door, this one also stout and well made but locked with a length of chain and an excellent lock. Another search of keys showed one that would open it and we cracked the door – revealing a wine cellar with over 60 bottles of wine still here.

Many of them were 20+ to 50 years of age, and most of them were still sealed and in good repair. The vintners were not known to any of us but we suspected to the right personages the wines would be valuable. We left the room, and went back to the main store room and tried the other door. The set up similar to the first, another short hall and a locked door with a chain. We noticed the locks were keyed alike so we were pleased and expected to take the locks (and chains) with us when we left.

On opening the door, Avidius informed us that the floor and transom were floating faintly and should NOT be stepped on. With the door opened though we saw 8 stone coffers with metal tops, each one locked and stacked next to one another. We took Avidius’ advice to heart and looked around for a lever of some sort to disable the floor. There was something, a metal receiving spot on the wall where a lever might have been at one point. We used Horace’s iron truncheon as a makeshift lever and moved the port down, fixing the floor in place and making it safe for us to enter.

The coffers were unlocked and revealed: treasure. Hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of copper commons and silver nobles. There was also a large quantity of gold and most importantly – platinum bars which would be a HUGE boon for Baron Taugis should we manage to get them back. We locked the coffers back up and then relocked the rooms with the chains and locks after moving the wine bottles to the treasury.

Bolstered now and feeling good we went back upstairs to the main central door past the scriptorium and gave it a once over. There was a marking on the door with a circle and pentagram within. So Marcus stood before it, announced himself, and then placed his hand on the door – opening it to a large chamber with 6 cat statues on the walls (5’ tall, heavy stone), a door on the other side of the chamber, and a 10’ diameter cylinder of white and grey streaked metal running from floor to ceiling.

We all entered and got our bearings. The other door most likely (according to Steiner) led to the tower and we didn’t know how to open the cylinder (although we did knock on it and try to move it to no avail.). We closed the door and then the room seemed to shift. The walls pulled away and the ceiling rose and the cylinder enlarged until we were now in a 60’ x 70’ chamber, the cylinder was now 20’ in diameter, and there were 4 large 15’ wide, 6’ tall display cases with a number of bits of art of some sort adorning them.

We still couldn’t open the cylinder and now assumed we were in the vault. We did not e that if we leaned on the cases they pivoted along the center and “clicked” to a stop in two places – along the east/west axis and when either end was pointed at the cylinder. Further investigated warranted and we noted that the edges of the cases had a number written in elven ranging on all four walls, both sides, from one to eight.

We tried many ways of turning them, assuming the numbers were a combination of some sort but after 20 minutes of turning shelves we didn’t stumble on the correct method to open whatever tumbler locks the numbers represented.

Until by accident we had reset one of the cases and turned it to “1” pointed at the cylinder – and there was a hum and vibration! On to something! We looked the others over and discounted our former efforts and failures before picking the case with the “2” on it and turned that to face the cylinder – and another hum! We then did the same with “3” and “4” and the cylinder began to rise faster and faster.

A large battered chariot of some sort was seen at first as the wall rose but then a magic mouth appeared and Erazmus’ voice echoed out, “Go the Hell, Ceril! And you’re not getting your cart back! I knew you’d try to rob me – we have this as a surprise!”

And then the wall went up the rest of the way very fast and we were looking at a 5’ diameter chitinous covered large central eye, eight smaller eyes on stalks, levitating and floating monstrosity that roared at us as we stood stunned. And to add insult to injury, three of the stone cats on the wall turned and sprung to life, attacking the party!