September 30th, 2012
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Vryce, human knight (305 points)
Borriz, dwarven knight (290 points)
Nakar, human wizard (about 295 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (253 points)
Kullockh, human scout (250 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Reserve (players couldn't make it)
Inquisitor Marco, human cleric (about 280 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (283 points)
The group did the usual - sold off loot from last time, they gathered some rumors (about alternate entrances, existence of a possible 5th level, and foreign wizards looking for a "source of magic" in the dungeons), and bought up the healing potions in town. Galen also stocked up on Monster Drool to poison his arrows.
They also checked out the shield they'd found, surreptitiously. They found out it belonged to a guard in the hire of a Lord Venick. Vryce went to his townhouse - like the other nobles, it was surrounded by a wall, and there was a tower with no first floor entrances for retreating into during riots. He explained how they'd found the shield up in the dungeons in a lizards' room, and handed it over. The chamberlain, Jonal, told them he'd get back to him.
In a couple days, he did. A messenger summoned them - politely - to Lord Venick's. Nakar, Vryce, and Borriz all went. They were introduced to the Lord Venick, a thin, splotchy-skinned brown haired youngish man with a droopy mustache. He said his ancestor was, unfortunately, "caught up" in the rebellion of Lord Sterick, self-styled Baron Felltower. His men were searching for a crypt off the 2nd level where his ancestor, and the rest of Lord Sterick's bodyguards ("caught up" indeed). He offered 30 gold pieces (3000 silver) if they could find and return his ancestor's body to him for proper burial, along with any grave goods. His tomb (and the ancestor's goods) should be marked with the three red slashes of Lord Venick's family over the axe/sword/tower motif of Lord Sterick (and now, Stericksburg). The PCs agreed to do so if they could.
After many jokes about how they'd surely find the guy with "the other 50 wights he was buried with" they figured they might be able to get rewards from other families if they found crypts lost to living relatives.
Finally, Nakar read the book they'd found last session. It was a big book, but only a few pages were filled, in Common. It was the logbook of adventurers who'd raided the dungeon. The last entry was "We stashed what we found in the rubble under the ruined tower up here on the surface. Now we're going back for the rest."
They decided to bring Red Raggi, and headed up to the dungeons.
Once on the top of the mountain, they camped out and recovered their hastily stashed ladder from last time. Then they used Seek Earth to find the nearest source of silver while standing near the ruined towers. Nakar rolled a crit and they found it easily, in the rubble in the center of the most intact of the remaining towers. The second (and third) floors of the tower had fallen to the ground floor. Galen and Kullockh climbed up to keep an eye out, while Raggi, Vryce, and Borriz moved broken bits of rock and dug (Raggi brought a shovel just for this). They found a strongbox, opened it up, and found a lot of stuff - including 20 pounds of copper coins, 5 pounds of silver coins, a wizard's hat (turned out to magically stay clean at all times), 11 small magical spears (turned out to be one-shot throwing spears), a magical light shield, some valuable climbing gear, and some green tea and carmine in sealed pouches. Oh, and a pair of six-fingered gloves (otherwise normal). Nothing spectacular, but valuable enough to keep. They took everything but the copper into the dungeon with them.
They joked that these guys didn't die, they just went back and found so much more treasure they couldn't carry the book out with them.
They did their usual scout routine on the entrance, and headed in and put down their ladder bridge. They crossed and were dismayed to find someone had come before - the right portcullis was spiked all the way up. The door past it was equally spiked open. They briefly discussed trying to follow the path of spiked doors and "tracks" but decided they didn't want to actually find any adventurers if they were still there.
Instead they headed towards the second level stair they'd found two weeks ago. They took the same path through the secret door as last time, but this time encounter a big slime/ooze monster, nearly 20' across, eating the rotted rat corpses. Galen closed the door, and they got ready to bust in an attack it . . . but it had "seen" Galen and moved up to smash against the secret door. So Nakar dropped some spells and used Create Fire to set the area past the door on fire. After a minute they opened the (warm) secret door, and the ooze had fled, and there was nothing but burned rats. They moved on.
After Lockmastering some re-locked doors, they reached the ogre's room. It was closed and locked (again, Lockmaster opened it), but not barred or guarded. They moved in carefully, and found some (but not all) of the signs of their fight. No corpses, no weapons, and no ogres (and only a few broken bits of armor and bloodstains). They carefully moved down the stairs.
Most of the way down the long stairs was a stair scattered with dry, broken bones. Clearly, for noise. Invisible Galen, able to see in the dark thanks to Nakar's Dark Vision spell, stepped over them and spotted some apes crouched in the corners, waiting. He retreated up and the group decided a frontal assault was the best solution. They ranked up and headed down, Borriz to their left, Vryce to their right, and Raggi right up the middle. Nakar trailed with the two scouts. They reached the bottom of the stairs and eight dire apes charged them - the same apes as last time, which they'd accidentally left off their "we make sure the following are dead" list during their hasty retreat last trip. The apes didn't do much better, a couple eating arrows and the rest getting chopped up by Raggi, disemboweled by Vryce, or their heads bashed into shards by Borriz. One managed to strike Raggi after another grabbed him, but they died a second after that. But an ape shaman was there was well, waving a multi-colored obsidian sword and accompanied by a blue-limmed, semi-translucent ape. The "ghost ape" charged, while the shaman took an arrow and dropped, unconscious.
The ghost ape proceeded to give the group a lot of trouble. Nothing they had bothered it - missile spells, a flaming sword, Dispel Magic, and even stabbing with their magical spears. Galen fetched the obsidian sword and handed it to Vryce (who got pummeled over and over, but who was so armored he could mostly ignore the ape's all-too-corporeal punches). He swung . . . nothing. Finally Galen went back around to the shaman, and took off his bone necklace. Anything? No, Nakar could see it wasn't magical. So then Galen tried to icepick the ape in the eye with his knife . . . and missed. (He rolled an 18, and not only missed but stabbed the ground and dropped his knife. Embarrassing enough, but against an unconscious ape . . . ) Galen picked his knife back up, though, and then slashed the shaman's throat, just hard enough to kill him. The ghost ape immediately disappeared.
This time they made sure of the apes, with arrows to the eyes or cutting throats open or bashing their heads in.
They searched the room and found two doors. One turned out to lead to a big room the ape shaman cleared lived in. The other to a corridor. They followed that, passed a chamber with an arrow scratched into the floor pointing out the far way (everyone specifically didn't touch it), and took the first door off of it they found up another corridor.
A chamber far up the long hallway had a hemisphere of black crystal on the ceiling. Taking no chances, they shot at it with arrows. First shot did nothing, but then Kullockh shot a crack into it with a powerful bow shot. Another shot broke off more of it, shearing off a good third of the crystal and send cracks through the rest. Glass pieces were scattered across the floor. They eventually crossed this room with much care (including a rope around Galen, and then around Borriz, in case they set off a trap).
After this room there was a T. Here they found a door to a cold room, but shut it as the odd chill came out. "No more ghosts, thanks." They moved off the other direction after using Seek Earth and locating some silver very close to the upper left as they faced the cold room door. So they moved left. They found some single doors on the left wall and a double door on the right. Listening heard nothing, and no light came from within. It was dark inside. They opened that up (it was locked, but a crowbar fixed that), and found . . . luxury.
Inside was a huge room - around 40' wide and at least twice that long, with an arched ceiling. The fall wall had a small door but was also almost half roaring fireplace fronted by rugs and plush chairs. The walls were lined floor to ceiling with bookcases full of books and sliding ladders. There was a table with burning silver candelabras. Sofas sat near the bookcases.
The fanned out an looked around. Nakar and Vryce to the right, Borriz and Kullockh to the left. Nakar found treatise after treatise on magic. Kullockh books on culture and languages. They were stunned . . . until Borriz grabbed a book ("any book with cool symbols on the spine") and his hand went through. Damn, illusion. Everything they checked was illusionary. When Borriz realized the fire was too (no heat), he decided to jump in! Hahah! Bam, wall. There wasn't even a fireplace.
They couldn't figure it. Vryce checked the walls by feel to ensure there were walls. And they opened the small door in the back and found 3' of floor ending in a 6-7' deep pit full of old, dry refuse. A privy.
They thought a) this was all a fake, but why? and b) "their" silver was to their right, but they couldn't get there from here. So they left and went back the way they came.
The headed past the cold room into a big hallway that smelled of sulfur, which ended with a pit (they'd look later and find a dead rat in it, nothing special). A side passage smelled more of sulfur, so invisible Galen checked it out. Oops. It was the lair of an angry chimera, which must have seen them and came out running. Galen turned and ran, but the chimera literally crashed through him and ran him down. It made it just out of its side passage and attacked. It bashed Raggi a few times with its horns and lit his clothes on fire (narrowly missing Borriz and Vryce), and the group jumped it. Vryce sliced it up, Raggi criticalled and cut down through its back into its side, Borriz whiffed on a few shots (it dodged), and Galen put arrows into it. A final arrow through its lion head and a few more sword strokes put it down for good.
After this, it was getting late real-world, so the PCs retreated up to the surface. They got almost all the way back, but it turned out 5 hobgoblins were guarding the "pillboxes." They used invisible Galen to get the drop on the three in one pillbox and kill them, but not before they yelled out "Bree Yark!" and Galen called them Losers in Goblinese. They make Galen and Kullock invisible again, and they went to the other "pillbox." They set up nose-to-nose with the ambushing hobgoblins, and shot them in the face with arrows. They then covered the trap doors while everyone beat feet across the bridge. They removed the bridge and headed up.
The gathered their remaining stashed treasure, and headed back to town.
All in all, a profitable trip, mostly due to their surface find. The only loot from underground this trip was the obsidian sword of the ape shaman, but even that was worth enough to make it profitable trip. They also have a quest with a promised reward, and made a successful foray into the 2nd level.
Forgot these earlier, but here they are.
- It's fun to watch my players discover things they'd bypassed accidentally or deliberately sessions back. That loot has been sitting in the tower since, I don't know, the first day I wrote up the dungeon. They discovered it now through magic, sure, but they didn't know to try there until they found that book.
- No one seems to mind sped-up combat. Mostly because it doesn't skew fights against them. If it made them lose (or suffer damage they'd otherwise not suffer) they'd probably, legitimately, complain about the change.
- Borriz keeps wondering how the hell apes get into a dungeon up north. Or are even in a dungeon, carnivorous apes or not. There actually is a (possibly silly) reason, it's not just because I have all of these ape minis and like using apes. Well, that's probably why I made up the reason, but in-game, there is an explanation.
- No one has any idea how to fight ghosts. The solution won't be "spend points on Hidden Lore (Spirit Lore) and keep asking Peter" or "find just the right spell to beat them." It's a little more (and less) complicated than that.
- I was amused at the reactions in the illusion room. I was mildly surprised that they specifically asked if light came out from the room, and then didn't see the giant, blazing fire as a dead giveaway something was off. It would have been clearly seen, had it been blazing for real. Part of how illusions of splendor work - you get so distracted by the details you miss the strange incongruities of them.
- The city money meter keeps going up, but I'm beginning to wonder about the buying capacity of even a big town. Should the more the PCs sell also increase the "value" of the city? They're spreading around some magical items, rare spices, nice gems, and asking to convert small coins (copper) into larger denominations (gold and silver). It keeps the pot stirring, for sure, and they sell at less than 1/2 of the theoretical market value. That leaves a lot of room for profit by the merchants when they re-sell it down the road (literally or figuratively).