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.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Meet 4, Adv 1, 12/10/16

The party was exploring the cave, trying to find any sign of Fingelt and his miners while the rest of the party was picking their way to freedom. The K'Morat will eventually get in, but it's at a certain time and until then, the group has carte blanche to explore. Except for the bats there is precisely ONE monster in the cave (and I don't consider the bats "monsters" - and encounter that only wants to get away and be left alone) but that monster is also a clue as to what happened and who made it happen. Which will lead the party (if they get out) to the next adventure.

Write up follows:

The party explored the first side shaft on the main level, noting that Fingelt’s people followed the natural vein of iron for some distance. There was a place where the vein widened to a node and we discovered a dented bucket and a small shovel with a broken handle but little else. There were some stains on the floor, enough to lead us to believe they might have been blood, covering a drippy line probably 3’ or so in length – but nothing else.

From here we went to the 2nd side shaft and meandered about as the vein split in two directions. Giving the time to exploring both we found no one again however there was one mining pick discovered that had part of the head stained dark with dried blood and the handle itself was twisted off; the wood splintered and warped. There were some dark thick hairs twisted in the head that Einar suspected were animalistic sort of in nature. Maybe.

It was about 9:30 now and we were getting exhausted. A second listen near the entrance told us the K’Morat kobolds were still celebrating and had not begun to search the collapsed mine. We opted to head back to the bottom floor and rest, heading out in the morning to search the 2nd and 3rd levels after a good night’s rest and the chance to restudy spells.

We slept as well as could be in the gloom of the cave, the party members mining were closer to the outside and making good headway. Suspicion was we’d be through late this afternoon or maybe early evening. So after breaking out fast we headed back to the elevator and spent 15 or so minutes pulling the lift back up to level 2.

There was a metal walkway attached to a pivot that we snagged with the lift hook and swung over to prevent us from the need to jump the 2-3’ gap. A simple rack was here with a couple of leather cloaks and a water gourd that looks like it was smashed at some point. We crossed over and followed the tracks and cave further along; noting that Fingelt’s map showed there was a deposit of Phosphor somewhere on this level. According to the more learned members of the group, Phosphor although used in fire and fiery displays is not going to combust if the lantern was nearby, neither does it give of a flammable gas so we should be ok.

The main shaft led along to two smaller side mined shafts. Before heading to the northern one, we did hear squeaks and trills from further down the corridor which the druid assured us were bats; not an uncommon occurrence. Bolstered by this, we explored the northern shaft cautiously. The ground had a smattering of gravel upon it, making footing dangerous but not unpassable. The passage though ended eventually with no sign of Fingelt’s people so we returned to the main corridor to explore the next shaft.

The south shaft had a 2” drop about four feet into the corridor and it sloped down at almost 10^. Why would they leave a curb like that there? To make matters more confusing, there was a wheelbarrow dumped on its side just past the curb, facing the main shaft. Spilled stones and little more were there. After making absolutely sure there was no issue, we moved down the shaft and followed the corridor and vein of stone until it eventually split in two directions.

The first corridor ended normal at a grey veiny deposit of iron ore so we went back and followed the 2nd corridor but as we were progressing the two dwarves started to get confused and slowed down. Also, the lantern seemed to be shining brighter. It became more labored to breathe and we all backpedaled, turning to race away from the area. As we crawled up the slope both Dizzy and Merica slumped over and started hacking and coughing, choking up gobs of phlegm and vomit for a few minutes until our lungs cleared and we were able to move without problem again.

Deciding that there was a pocket of slow gas in that shaft we opted to stay out of it for now and head further to the end of the 2nd level where the bat noises were. There was a natural pocket at the end of the tracks, almost 12” tall in the center with a few small stalactites hanging down. Gypsum and crusty yellow quartz were collecting on the walls and the floor had a scattering of brown raisin-like deposits littering it. The sounds of bats were louder and we could see there was a natural fissure in the rock along the south-east wall of the chamber where a wavering yellow-blue light glowing from it.

Dizzy opted to go an explore, the dwarven cleric/thief sneaking his way along the main chamber until he arrived at the wide fissure, peering in he was able to see well over 100 bats in the area, each of them about the size of a small squirrel. One was much larger, almost 20” in height but was the same species as the others. His presence did disturb them, but not enough to cause them to take flight. So he backed out and told the group of his findings.

This led to Avulstein and Einar to discuss the merits of bats as druidic companions as well as necromantic minions. While the discussed the possibility of actually catching a bat or two, the necromancer was gathering up a vial full of bat guano before conceding that the druid can get the larger bat if he could charm it, while he would settle for a number of the smaller ones. Throughout it all, Dizzy let us know that he had a way to bottle up the bats from crossing a barrier blessed by Sif that he could create to repel  vermin (which includes bats!).

With a plan in place Dizzy cast his spell which caught a few of the bats in its range, making them squeal loudly as they tried to escape. This excited the rest of the bats who also then started to take flight but were bottled up in the narrow fissure thanks to the spell. The ones that did make it out though were hit by Connal’s quarterstaff and one of them was also snagged by an open cloak used as a net by the necromancer who smothered the shrilling mammal by hugging it tight to his chest under the cloak.

And then the big one took flight, passed through the barrier and was winging towards the party when Einar called out to Frey to charm this flying animal…and it worked! The giant bat alighted near the druid and the two of them proceeded to communicate their mutual assurance to one another.

Meanwhile the rest of the bats were worrying themselves sick and some of them had fallen to the floor of the cave where Avulstein swept them up (after making sure they were dead) and placed them in his backpack (18-20 of them!). He them prepared his own spells and recited the arcanic words until…two of the smaller once dead bats fluttered and came back to unlife! Animated a dead small animal. His minions in place we assumed we were done here and left the area, heading back to the elevator and making our way down to the 3rd level, arriving a bit after 9 AM.

There was another pivot metal walkway that we snagged over and crossed. A pile of dross stone with some yellowy slivers mixed in were here in a pile. We started to look it over and stopped…the sliver and chunks of yellowy material were bone. And they had splintered and gnaw marks all over them.

We took out our 2nd hurricane lantern and lit it, then drew weapons and started walking down the corridor looking carefully. About 20 paces in we came upon a section of the cart tracks that was fairly messed up; the ties were askew and the rails were out or square. There was a side corridor going north to a larger area but we were uncomfortable. The group stopped and Larry hid the lantern so that the dwarves could use their infravision for a peak.

The corridor was fine, no hear sources – but the south wall across from the opening on the north wall and just past the messed up tracks had the telltale glow of body heat coming from it in fits and cracks, broken up from the stone. What was it? The stone? Too hot? No, body heat temperature and it was close. Something on the other side of the wall? Most likely.

The lantern was brought forward and we shone it on the wall, and both dwarves let us know that the wall was a concealed opening covered with stacked stones and given a thin coat of water and grit/gravel/sand to disguise it.

And then we heard something on the other side of the wall move away with a heavy slow ponderous dragging gait.

We all backed up and discussed what we saw. Further checks with our infravision showed the heat source had faded and then left. So we broke out picks and assaulted the wall while a number of us had weapons out and ready. It came down in small chunks until we had an opening a few square feet large that we could look through.

There was a natural cave through here, with more piled stones at the far side, beyond that the corridor “Y”ed but we couldn’t see beyond that or what the figure might be. The smell though, was earthy, foul, and made us gag.

Assured the figure was elsewhere we all made sure weapons and shields were out and pressed on, heading towards the end of the corridor. The mine cart was here but it was the space beyond that caused the party’s heart to grow cold. The area was festooned with torn body parts and bits of viscera from at least 10 different beings. Shredded guts and clothing, tossed tools and boots, it looked like a mad dog shook its food all over the place. But this was most likely Fingelt’s people.

A 5’x5’x8’ crate with air holes was here, the side of it burst open as if something inside broke free. The reek of a charnel house was terrible and after getting ourselves under control we went to the bottle of licorice tonic water we had found from the camp and smeared it under all our noses to mute and mask the terrible smell.

A few notes that we did catch before entering to examine the area – the number of bodies might have been ten, but the amount left if swept together would barely cover one to say nothing of two people. There was also a torn bit from a green tabard that was too ornamental and clean to have part of the mining camp’s clothing. We were going to go check it out but always be aware there was something big down here. Something with us. And it killed all these miners.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meet 3, Adv 1, 12/3/16

Sometimes there is a big fight planned and xp is doled aside for it. However, if the party comes up with a reason or way to avoid the fight and get past to their objective - should the DM deny them their xp? I don't agree with that, if the group is smart or savvy enough, they deserve the xp for their efforts.

A long time ago I dispensed with xp for gold at the 1 x 1 ratio and introduced:
Xp for kills
Xp for exploring
Xp for deeds
Xp for treasure
and Discretionary Xp.

Kills are straight out of the 1st or 2nd edition MM/DMG. Exploring, 25 xp per area. Deeds are typically 15, 25, 40, or 75 and are tally marked during the game, given out to a particular player/character when they do something notable. Treasure is roughly 1:10 xp:gold, meaning there is a bene for getting the treasure but it's not so unbalancing. And finally Discretionary Xp I typically give out at the end of an adventure and is based on my own gut - ranging as low as 150 to as much as 1,000 - but only for higher level adventures.

What I do though, and as came up this meeting, the party avoided a fight with a horde of kobolds by laying out the field of battle, planning for it, arranging enough situations to slow them down and hobble them, and delaying the fight long enough for the party to escape the area. So they got the Xp and didn't have to murderhobo anyone.

Write up follows:

With the fires running wild on the outside of the palisade, we discussed an end game strategy since there was no way for us to put them all out on our side. The K’Morat had destroyed the aqueduct so the water in the cistern (over 1800 gallons) was fine for now but was only going to go down especially since we were tossing buckets on the walls at the tune of 5-8 gallons every minute through the small cracks in the palisade fence.

The K’Morat were going to eventually get in, and we needed to prepare for this eventuality on the off chance Korsdottr and the rest of the guards and teamsters didn’t have the hole wide enough for us to get into the mine.

With about 30 minutes or so until twilight and about that same amount of time remaining according to the voices calling out in the mine, we took a hard look at Fingelt’s camp and came up with a number of plans to help slow down the K’Morat as well as channel them throughout the camp so we could limit where they approach us and when.

We had the teamsters along with whatever ropes we had, leather traces, and sledgehammers start their efforts on the mess hall. With Darius’ insight the two men had the donkey’s pull at the building while they systematically assaulted the support beams with sledges in order to have it collapse into and towards the stables. Most of the northern wall fell as expected, taking the roof with it, making the entire building lean dangerously over but block off one pathway towards the cave itself.

Getting some of the sheathing from the collapsed lavatory and one of the buckets of nails and hammer, Larry (situated on the guard tower) kept the odd eye out on the K’Morat but drove over 40 of those nails through the sheathing scrap in a random pattern making a 3’x5’ single heavy caltrop. It was then tossed down to the floor where it was dragged to the space between the stables and the ore house and liberally sprinkled and disguised with cast of gravel and dirt from the slag pile.

Using some 2”x6” we nailed the main stable’s doors closed on the west side by the track spur, meaning if any K’Morat entered the stables from the obvious east side looking to cut through, they would be stymied by the held door. To add more injury to insult, we then liberally covered the space just inside the shadowy interior of the east door with twisted nails we had hammered into crude caltrops.

The teamsters then worked on pulling down the smithy away from the short palisade no the north side of the cave entrance to make any attempt to clamber over the fence that much harder.

The area in front of the main entrance to the caves was covered in rubble, broken wood scraps, and the 4 off hay bales that had still been inside the stables. The hay was scattered about and the area was hit with oil in preparation of being lit later.

Driving spikes into the ground, Negan set up as many obstacles as he could in front of the 3’x5’ nail studded plank of wood by the stables with lengths of rails stacked and leaning in order to slow the K’Morat up.

Once the smithy was down the same was done with the supply house. Then the one wagon was crudely hitched to the donkeys and dragged into the space between the leaning mess hall and the foreman’s house. The wheels were then smashed and the space on the west side was covered with more caltrops.

While this was going on Einar, Avulstein, and the two teamsters had not let up on the soaking and water throwing, managing to put out some of the fires but the distant ones on the north side of the gate and the bigger one by the lumber yard were out of control. The palisade was burning here, the ropes long gone; the lengths of wood leaning all about, and the flames were spreading.

According to Larry the K’Morat were now over 80 and were wheeling two battering rams around the side of the road and building up steam as they charged the encampment. One was the Conestoga wagon we were unable to save, loaded down with lengths of wood lashed to the front and being pushed by 15 or so of the running kobolds. The other was smaller but more nimble, driven by a half dozen of the K’Morat as they ran towards the walls as well.

It was time. We all ran back to the cave where the stones were shifting as Korsdottr was just about ready to help us in. The one teamster who was terrified almost pushed his way in first but was chastised that we get the food and supplies in first and then we get in. The K’Morat were running but were not here yet. It was tense, but he agreed and the first of the food stuffs were brought in and passed back one at a time to the waiting party members inside the cave. Larry stayed near the corner by the stables and waited.

And then the smaller battering ram hit first. It plowed into the fire weakened wall north of the gate and the K’Morat pulled their ram out of the hole while others were kicking and shoving the broken burning timbers out of the way. Knowing they were coming in. Larry ran back to us and we tossed a torch on the prepared hay – setting it ablaze and blocking the entrance to the cave palisade.

Meanwhile one by one, bags were pushed back into the cave and we heard more crashes in the front as the K’Morat hit the main gate (it didn’t open) and other places on the wall, making the holes larger. A few started to straggle in where they hit the closest buildings (dry goods, lavatory) in search of whatever. A few tore into the donkeys here (sparing the ponies) and then we heard yells from the stables as they stumbled on the caltrops placed there.

Meanwhile the last of the bags was passed in and the teamsters started crawling through the opening while Korsdottr was now on our side kicking the stones aside to make it large enough for Einar and Negar to get through eventually. Something hit the stables western door from the inside but it held nailed closed. And still more K’Morat were running around.

The first bunch had charged and picked their way through the mess Negan had set up by the stables when they hit the concealed board and nails and the first batch fell over in agony. The party was still crawling into the cave one at a time, with only about half of us still outside. We stayed low and tried to keep ourselves hidden. A few stones were sling but no one noticed where it came from and then while they were dragging the board of nails away and some 20 or so K’Morat were in the area, Negan called to Odin and summoned a Giant Rat in the midst of the kobolds.

It was pandemonium as they were bit and attacked the rodent, and others were coming over the broken wagon by the Foreman’s house and they too fell on caltrops and were cursing in their tongue. Down to just Negan and Larry, the half-elf motioned the fighter-cleric to go in next while he stayed low and watched the milling kobolds with slitted eyes. Negan crawled in, the area tight and more rocks fell around him but he made it through and just about the time the K’Morat had arrived at the burning mess and smaller palisade fence Larry dove into the hole and to the safety of the interior.

Meanwhile, Korsdottr, aided by the crew she had with her, moved three tight wooden boxes back into the tunnel they had cleared out. Then she had them give her a bucket of water which she tossed into the first box, was dumping another bucket in the next box when the first one near the front of the mine went off with an explosion and started another cave in, and then the third box was filled and we all backed away as the next two boxes exploded and sealed off the tunnel again from the K’Morat warriors.

All joined up again, there were the 12 guardsmen, and 5 teamsters, one of them Korsdottr. We moved away from the entrance area to where some tools and a mine cart had been established, some barrels of water and a couple hurricane lanterns lit and caught everyone up on what had been going on.

It was after 7ish and we talked with Korsdottr (who was a miner before she became a teamster) about how to get out. Right now, the K’Morat were most likely tearing the mine camp apart and enjoying a feast of donkey while sorting through the goods they had. Eventually they were going to figure out we weren’t there and they would turn their attention to the pile of rock in front of and choking the cave. We were ok now, but not in the long term. We were going to need another way out.

According to the map we took from Fingelt, they 4th shaft down returned back to the east and was abandoned as it was too close to the stream bed down there and eventually floods. If there were tools and time, we could try digging out that way and making it to the outside and away from the K’Morat before they notice.

So we pocketed the 10#+ of Fizzstone still here (normally used to make air but if submerged in water, has a tendency to explode wildly) and the lanterns, left the mine cart and followed the tracks west to the end – where there was a 14’ diameter lift here that went down a vertical shaft.  Once all aboard we released the locking brakes and allowed the tension beams to guide the lift down into the gloom. It took almost 6 minutes to drop the 150+ feet to the bottom and once there we carefully stepped off into the foot plus of water festooned with floating blobs of fungi.

From the stains on the wall, it looks like the water had been deeper (3+ feet) but was now receded. We followed the main shaft till we arrived at an open node. A flat forge was here with some coal and wood bins. A number of mining hot spikes, sledges, picks, and more lanterns were here. We then followed the shaft to the east until we arrived where Fingelt had marked he was no longer digging east.

The stone here was shot through with numerous cracks and nature fissures. The best judgement was it was 18’ to the outside. Our first impression was this was not an option but Korsdottr disagreed. It would require work, maybe 40 hours’ worth unless we could get the flat forge lit. Then what would be best is the mining stakes (metal pointed poles we saw in the other area) would be heated up and driven into the wall. Then cold water is tossed into the space and the rock is easier to pick and crumble away. If done right we could cut the mining time in half or so.

So, what we decided was that Korsdotter and the teamsters would work down here and perhaps half the guards could help – this would free up 6 of the guards to go and explore the mines and try to find any sign of Fingelt and his people, or what happened to them, as well as be aware if and when the K’Morat get through the rubble earlier than expected. This left 11 people working down here: 2 to dig, 2 to work the forge, 1-2 on rubble and area policing – the other 5 or 6 would then swap on every 2 hours or so.

After a quick meal (we managed to snag over 40 days of potential food – giving the group of 17 of us 2 and a half days of food) we split up 6 of us to go explore – pretty much the entire group that had been outside with a few notable exceptions especially since we were going to be exploring the mines: Negan the half-ogre volunteered to stay back and lend his strength to the digging freeing up Merica the dwarven fighter/wizard to come with us; and Darius the fighter after being pummeled twice by falling crap was feeling unwell for spelunking but was willing to help with the forge work which allowed Dizzy the dwarven priest to join the exploring group.

So Avulstein, Conall, Dizzy, Einar, Larry and Merica (2 humans, 2 dwarves, 1 half-elf, and 1 half-orc) set off – starting with the two open shafts we hadn’t looked down on the 4th level.

The south one was fairly wide and open and eventually came to a 3 way split, but the two dwarves were unhappy with the lack of support beams above and suggested that unless we were very careful, we shouldn’t waste our time with such a dangerous area. Or as Merica voiced, “Fucking built like shit. Let’s go.” Can’t argue with dwarven knowhow. ;)

We then went to the northern shaft where it sloped upward slightly until the water was no longer on the floor. The stains on the wall showed it had one point been higher, but now was not. The walls had signs of bauxite interspersed with the iron ore, but outside of some signs of mining, the shafts and its side shafts had nothing for us.

So we then went to the lift and discussed what to do next. After talking about it, it was decided we would start back on the 1st level and check out the subsequent ones until we were too exhausted to keep looking and/or we found something. The trip up was longer than the trip down, taking us almost 25 minutes to pull the lift back to the top level but once there we locked it in place and stepped off, heading back to the mine cart and the entrance.

We listened carefully, not hearing any of the K’Morat digging in the rubble but maybe some filtered sounds of celebration. Good so far. As for the mine cart, it was about 1/3rd full with slag and ore. We pulled the two tilting pins and pushed the cart over where some of the contents spilled out. We dug around and found an iron cap on the top. There was a single large dent in the forehead section, followed by a 2” sharp scratch running straight down to the brow ridge. Not an obvious weapon but something really hit the helm hard. It was too filthy to tell if there were any blood stains on the interior, but we were on our guard anyway.

Larry was looking longingly at the mine cart and mentioned in passing that he’s really to see it go over the edge of the main shaft and drop to the base of the mine at some point.

It was almost 9 PM and we were going to check out the two side shafts here on the first level at least before deciding to rest for a bit or go down to the 2nd level to explore.