Friday 21 January 2022

Session 5: Back from a break


Welcome to session 5. Wasn't sure we were going to ever make it as real life got in the way, as it is wont to do.

This session was played on 06/Jan/2022 and the PCs adventured for 1 day.

Three players available; Clyde Foot the Dubiously Strong (Half-Elf Fighter Level 2) and Dorf, just Dorf (Human fighter Level 2), Kevin the 53rd (Dwarf Thief Level 2)

Recap

Having survived an attempted dungeon assassination by Wererats, the party had levelled up in town, with Kevin achieving the distinction of increasing his HP by 300% (from 2 to 8). During the long period of downtime the three had taken up an offer to be trained in 'roof running' by the suspiciously knowledgeable trainer at the Mercenary Guild Garius (Fighter/Thief? level?). The last few weeks saw them learning to leap from building to building in the ramshackle thieves' quarter, among other locations.

Rumours

  • Crown Prince Orion has fallen gravely ill, and this is why troops have been returning to the homeland in unprecedented numbers, in order to bolster the succession claims of his three brothers, and two sisters.
  • A caravan of merchants has failed to arrive at Tregard after leaving Briar Village two weeks ago.

Events

The NPC, Burghast (Mage level 2), has succumbed to the power of the cursed amulet and died during the week. Even in death the amulet could not be removed, although it stopped glowing sickly green, and he was entombed with it under the Church of St Istra by Father Thomias. His companions, Thigru (NPC Fighter level 2), Glasses (NPC Mage level 2), and Danha (NPC Fighter level 2), have left the village of Briar, with Glasses returning to the Tower of Wizardry since his gap year had so abruptly ended, and the two fighters staying at the Mercenary Guild for now. Arlina (NPC Cleric level ?) still seems to be stable in her coma, but her sister Arlia has become frantic and wants to return to the dungeon asap to destroy the 'Source of Evil' present there that they believe is somehow powering the amulets.


Session Report


Map entries translated by Glasses

With the unusual situation of being in possession of a fully annotated map of the labyrinth beneath the ruins of Briar Mansion, the party could see that there was little left that they had not already explored. This seemed to engender a desire to try new hunting grounds, which I'm also looking forward too, but the pleading of Arlia (NPC Cleric level 1) was enough to convince them to go back down there and cleanse the source of the evil.

However, this would not prove so easy after they traversed the now familiar streets of the Old and East quarters of Castleport and arrived back at the village of Briar. 

Arlia explained that she had chosen to try to go back down the spiral staircase leading to the dungeon herself, which, given her skittish nature, impressed on the party how desperate she was, however, her attempt to do so was blocked. Corporal Minuta of the Royal Army and ten heavy infantry mercenaries had been deployed there with orders to prevent access to the stairwell leading down into the labyrinth, for ‘Public Safety’ reasons, notably the death of Burghast and Arlina’s illness. What to do?

Because of their location at the top of the hill on a cloudless winter's day, there was no way the guards could be avoided if the party wanted to reach the stairwell; but, was there another way? Immediately Dorf checked the map and saw mention of a chimney, it correlated with their memory of one goblin escaping up a chimney in an earlier session. If a goblin could go up that way, maybe they could go down.

They still had to mollify Corporal Minuta, Clyde gave him the excuse that they were searching for a lost sheep, which, given the plethora of mundane tasks Clyde had been doing to improve his reputation with the local priest, the soldier found plausible.

Extrapolating from the map they were soon able to locate what looked like a simple series of bricks laid out in a rectangle, but which upon examination proved to be a shaft leading down into darkness. Thanks to the layout of the rough hill upon which the soldiers stood, the party could only been seen from the waist up at this location, so one by one they ducked down and examined the chimney, before sending the dwarf down first. They decided to leave Clyde's henchman, Garion, on the hill to continue their ruse of looking for a sheep. Spontaneous sheep impressions erupted from the party and then, lead by Kevin, they climbed down. There was a brief problem when Kevin rolled a 100 on his climbing check and got caught up on a hook, but after that mishap they were soon down in the room that had been the goblin head quarters, which was now silent as a grave.

There was some discussion about which way to go. Obvious targets such as the clearly marked secret doors were at the top of the list, but, in the end, they decided to check out the room marked 'Traitor' on the map. They made it to the room in question and forced open the stuck door without drawing the attention of any monsters ( a theme for the day, I must have rolled 15 times for random encounters and nothing happened). Inside they found a body, a human male who had been dead for a few months, and appeared to have been in the room for a long time before that, scrawling meaningless symbols on the walls and floors. After a thorough search the party found some decipherable writing with a single phrase repeated over and over, "I never wanted to be a were-rat" sometimes the 'I' was instead 'Marcus'. It seemed that, what ever had happened here, the party had missed it, but they did not miss the chance to loot a small gold statue and a stack of coins hidden under some refuse in a corner.

Now it was time to check out an area they had not yet explored. At the end of the corridor the gelatinous cube from session 4 had lived in, they searched and found an odd indentation in the wall, pushing it caused the whole wall to open, revealing a new room. The room was unlike anything they had seen thus far, an oval shape and looking like a natural cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites that blocked their view of much of the interior. They cautiously advanced and saw something that glittered in the centre of the room. 

This all seemed too suspiciously trap like for Clyde, I used to love to drop stuff on parties back in the day, and some old memory of this must have been haunting Clyde's player.

The party called forth their remaining henchman, Flevion, and I thought they were going to order him to take all the risk, but instead they got him to go in far enough to have a clear view of the ceiling. His job was to watch for any attack from above with Arlia while the three PCs crept forward.

Soon the PCs could see in the centre of the room four tattered leather sacks, obviously bulging with coin, and a single bottle of swirling blue liquid between them. Traps were searched for, but it was only when the more sturdy Clyde swapped out with Kevin and grasped the bottle that they heard Flevion yell, "Watch out!" This somewhat non-specific warning was still enough for Clyde to dive out of the way as the first of four Piercers plunged down towards him. 

I love this picture

This was a bit difficult to adjudicate, as the Monster Manual describes Piercers as having a 95% chance of achieving surprise, but the party had deployed in such a way as to negate this, in my view, so I rolled for surprise as normal. What would piercers do with multiple segments of surprise anyway? A series of really low attack rolls followed and the party was unscathed for the moment. The piercers flipped themselves over onto their feet and glared at the party as they scuttled back towards the walls in an attempt to get back up there and drop again. 

Piercers are quite slow, but I gave them a bit of leeway here in lieu of the surprise business. Three were cut down by the party but the last, and biggest, managed to get above Clyde again and this time thwacked him for 11 hp. The party managed to gingerly dispatch this one without injuring Clyde, and the enterprising Kevin collected some samples for presumed sale to Myzarn (NPC Alchemist) later.

Now with time on their hands the party leisurely transferred the coins into their own sacks and in doing so found they had 6000 electrum pieces marked with elven writing from antiquity. They explored the rest of the cavern before returning to the last room left in the complex (and presumed location of the 'Source of Evil' they were searching for).

"No rats returned from here," the map was marked at this location. The party guessed that the Were-rat assassins had used the plentiful giant rat population down here to scout out the place, and none had returned from scouting this room. The door was apparently not trapped, Kevin asked what it smelled like, which in fact was considerably fresher than the rest of the dungeon so far, and opened it easily, to reveal a large room, 70 feet by 30 feet, constructed of stone in a similar manner to the other parts of the labyrinth, with the exception that the far wall was made with bricks and mortar. In the centre of the far wall was a shut wooden chest.

The party stepped inside and, looking about, found the remains of over a dozen rats lining the wall the door in which they had just entered.

Certain that some form of trap was in play, the party tied a rope around Flevion and he carefully moved forward into the room. This turned out to be nearly the perfect precaution, as Flevion reached the halfway point between the doorway and the chest, the latter suddenly sprang open and tornado strength wind threw the party back, but, since they were all roped to Flevion, and he made his strength check, even the weaker members of the party were able to hold on and not be thrown against the back wall like all the unfortunate rats before them.

The wind blew out their torches but not before the caught a glimpse of the the chests contents. Within was a number of silver objects, circlets, arrows, a dagger, but standing out from among them was a green glowing heart shaped stone. It pulsed evilly and with the torches extinguished this was now the only light available.

The party quickly surmised that they would need to overcome the force of the wind and reach the chest somehow. To handle them pushing against the wind I used an obscure rule for ability checks from an early Dragon magazine. It proved interesting, the weaker Kevin held his own against Clyde, but it was too fiddly and time consuming after the first check. After some false starts, the party put their faith in Clyde's strength and his plan to use a holy water vial.

As he crossed the half way point the incredible wind became even more ferocious and, incredibly, its force was now enough to launch bricks out from the far wall at the party, which they all managed to evade by throwing themselves to the ground. This was just as well, as the bricks hit the far wall with enough force to put holes in it. They examined the gaps where the bricks had been, but it was pitch black back there, it could be anything from a Hollywood style wind machine to a rift leading to the elemental plane of air, for all they could tell.

Clyde's strength and agility eventually allowed him to cross the room, but, in resisting the force of the wind, while at the same time trying to get the flask of holy water as close as possible so he could pour it onto the green heart shaped gem without it getting blown away, his hand brushed against the inside of the chest. As soon as it did so the wind expired with a loud, almost human shriek, which then subsided and slowly faded into silence. This all had no effect on the gem, almost as if the magic of the room was something altogether different in nature to it. Clyde then upended the flask and dowsed the gem in holy water as Arlia ran up and cast bless on it from beside him. As she completed the spell the light abruptly went out of the gem, it crumbled into dust and disintegrated, leaving not a trace.

This was immediately followed by a sort of psychic shock wave which left the party with a strong impression that the they had come to the notice of some powerful, evil being, yet it seemed they had won the victory this day. 

Some combination of the forces at play had undermined the structural integrity of the place, and their relief was replaced with concern as large chunks of the ceiling began collapsing around them. They briefly considered retracing their steps and going back up the chimney, but quickly decided this would be even more dangerous. They ran through the dim corridors relying those with infravision, dragging their treasure with them and avoiding falling masonry, heading for the main exit. As they raced back through the entrance room with its two rows of pillars, they could see that the large toad statue had collapsed and its magic fire was extinguished.

All that was left was to explain to Corporal Minuta when they got to the top of the stairs. "No sheep down there!" They said as one. 

We called it a night there.

When the party returned to St Istra's church, they found Arlina already recovered and sitting up. She will likely face an interrogation from them next session (or in downtime).

New adventures await! If anyone reading this would like to play and can do so in Australian (UTC+11) time, or you'd like to be a Patron, let me know.

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Treasure and Experience Total XP 1770

Monsters: 4 Piercers 360xp, cleansed 'Source of Evil' 500xp

Treasure 6000 old Argonesti Electrum Pieces*, Potion of etherealness, gold statue worth 150gp, 80gp, 6 silver bracelets worth 50 gp each, 10 Silver Arrows 10gp each, 1 silver dagger 20 gp, Two silver signet rings 'R' & 'W' worth 100gp each, 3 silver ingots worth 20gp each

* need to find a way to sell these in order to reap the XP.

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Session PCs

Clyde Foot (10% XP Bonus) Half Elven Fighter Level 2 487 XP Gained. Total 2812

Dorf (10% XP Bonus) Human Fighter Level 2 XP  487 Gained. Total 2880

Kevin the 53rd (10% XP Bonus) Dwarf Thief Level 2 487 XP  Gained. Total 2298

Supporting Characters

Arlia Human NPC (10% XP Bonus)  Cleric level 1  243 XP Gained. Total 705

Garion Human Henchman (10% XP Bonus)  Fighter level 1  0 XP Gained. Total 357

Flevion Human Henchman (10% XP Bonus)  Fighter level 1 243  XP Gained. Total 600

Campaign Grave Yard


The Unnamed Henchman, Fighter level 1 DECEASED. Killed by spider poison in session 3.

Waxxion Human Henchman, Fighter level 1 DECEASED. Had his throat torn out by a Wererat Assassin in session 4.


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