October 12th, 2014
Weather: Cool, clear.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (250 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (372 points)
Father Keef, human initiate (125 points, NPC)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (444 points)
Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (unknown point total, NPC)
Still in town:
Al Murik, dwarven cleric (250 points)
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Mark Strawngmussel, human laborer (62 points, NPC)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
Demetrios, Antonios, and Leonatios of Meepos, human spearman (unknown point totals, NPC)
We started as usual, in Stericksburg. Money had been raised for Dryst's Resurrection spell - $6K each from Galen and Vryce, and $3K in assorted cash Dryst had. It succeeded, and Dryst was alive and had two weeks to recover and did so. I could have enforced a longer recovery, but that's no fun - he could heal 9 HP in a week or so.
The group gathered rumors, including some really interesting ones. They heard that the northern barbarians have sent emissaries to the orcs, and might be allying against Stericksburg (don't forget the kingdom is at war in the south, so it's not strong enough to repel a big invasion.) Others included one that all magic swords - all of them - are cursed. Gort patted his non-magical sword and said, "That's why I carry this baby." Two about Sterick - one that he collected the heads of his foes, and one from an old vet that said he saw Sterick walking around plain as day under Felltower - he's alive down there! Another mentioned a special key to a staircase that goes down hundreds of feet, another that dwarves can learn to smell gold with special training, and that some magical creatures can only be hurt by certain weapons.
Also, those cone-hatted cultists put a bounty on orcs from Felltower, if you can prove the ones you kill are out of Felltower. Or so rumor says.
They found out the symbols on the doors suggest one of the Inquisitor orders (there are a few) may have been behind the door designs. They also cast Ancient History on the silver crown from the dragon's hoard and found it once held red gems, and was used to crown a man and later crown a statue designed to accept a crown (not Sterick, at least not the one in town.) No spells of any kind found anything out about the metal bracelet they found last time.
They got some potions and other miscellaneous magical doodads, found Raggi, and headed out. Gort was ready and waiting for them - but no one else. A near TPK and a big cost for the last delve scared off potential volunteers.
They headed out out the northern gate, across the Old Stone Bridge over the Silver River, past Sterick's Landing and the statue of Sterick with his arms upraised, and up the mountain. They turned off to the dragon's cave mouth.
Once there, they headed in carefully, spotting some signs of camping in the cavern and more signs of orcs (graffiti, food scraps, scratches and scrapes of stones) obvious even to guys without Tracking.
They moved into the cavern system and started to check the side passages. They found they dead baby dragons they'd left were gone, leaving only acid burn marks from their blood. Some broken egg shells as well.
Most of the session was spent connecting up the map, and marking the cube rooms. They eventually marked four of them, so there are at least that many of them. There was a lot of looping around and doubling back and double-checking. Naturally, some of this meant useless and profitless encounters with critters, but generally everyone agreed it was something they wanted done and was worth the effort. They the whole time with See Secrets up, to make sure nothing deliberately hidden stayed that way.
One of the first things they ran into was the screaming fungus they'd found on a previous trip - and their light set them all keening loud and long. They fled from there to a nearby room and (despite the painful keening) waited there while Dryst filled in his map. They moved out and right into an acid spider, which picked off the lead servant before it was killed outright by a pair of sword slashes by Vryce. They watched for more while Dryst cut out its acid sacks (wisely putting Resist Acid on a precaution.) They got 11 doses worth.
From there they moved checking the tunnels and caves, and decided they needed to start marking the cube rooms (so-called, they are 30' x 30' x 30' and feel faintly of old magic.) Worried they'd have their marks removed, they a) came up with a symbol system (pictures of dinosaurs, because one player uses dice decorated with dinos) and b) marked them in chalk on the ceiling (Dryst levitated up.) I have to say this is smart.
They shortly found themselves in the crushroom room and found a dozen miniatures (10" tall) crushrooms growing. They hacked and stomped them and moved on.
Next they passed the "killer floor" room and found a colorful room with a low ceiling (20', mostly they're at 25-30') and a series of columns in rows. The walls were (natural) strata of many different colors, mostly yellows, reds, blues, and purples. There was another way out, but they decided to investigate further. A servant walked to the other end, but found nothing. So they used Shape Earth to rip a cubic yard hole in the left wall near the entrance they came in, but found the strata colors were just that - natural colors. Yet another mystery for successive generations of adventurers. (Why the hole? It must be a tunnel. No one would rip a cubic yard out of the wall for nothing!)
They decided to check further, and move in, in formation. As they passed the first columns, Dryst spotted some tentacled critters just as they moved on them (they were the color of the stone around them, and crammed into unseen cracks near the ceiling.) They recognized them as Tentacle Worms, but quickly dubbed them Cave Squid (later, Short-Armed Cave Squid). Four attacked. Dryst narrowly avoided one, while another grabbed the helpless Vryce from behind for 10 CP(his Greathelm made it a cinch.) Two more moved in on them. They were four-tentacled beaked worms with hooks claws on their bodies and tails. Vryce tried to smack the one on his back with a Wild Swing but missed, while Asher waded in and slashed it with his flaming broadsword on a tentacle. Raggi ran up and chopped the one bothering Dryst down in a single blow. Vryce tried to fight off another coming at him but failed. The one on his back bit him but couldn't chew through his armor. Asher sliced the one on Vryce badly, and then Raggi killed it and another one. Vryce killed the last one in two big swipes.
They searched for treasure but found nothing - just these critters, and nothing on them was valuable. They hacked them up a bit just to make sure they were really dead.
From there, some wandering brought them to the "ape demon room" from the other direction. There they ran into two big blue serpents. They recognized them (somewhat tentatively) as the phase serpents they fought once before. They waited as the snakes advanced. But their swings passed right through the serpents. One bit Vryce on the foot but couldn't get through his sollerets. Dryst put Affect Spirits on Vryce's sword just as Raggi got lucky and creamed one with a critical hit and killed it in a single blow. Vryce went for his and cut it apart, putting it well below -5xHP with two blows.
They moved on, connecting up rooms on their map. The soon found one with a sinkhole in it, flapping noises, and scattered (but mis-placed) boulders. Out of the sinkhole boiled two dozen stirges and attacked. Without Galen to shoot them down with casual ease, they got swarmed. They flapped all around the group. Dryst put Armor on himself as Asher went down with an unlucky defense that failed to stop a strix from shoving its spiky beak into his left eye. He went down unconscious, badly failing his stun roll. Raggi luckily fended off the ones on him, but one got a beak into Father Keef's face and started to feed. Dryst had enough. First, he put Armor on Keef and then rolled a 4 on Resist Fire. I gave him a 1d6 hex radius Mass Resist Fire, and he got a 5, enough to cover everyone. Then he lit the whole area on fire with Create Fire. The feeding stirges let go and flew off, as did all the others - except one strix cut in two by Raggi and another by Vryce.
They couldn't wake up Asher but healed him. His eye (thanks to a blown roll) was a long-term crippling injury, so they need to get him back to town for healing. So Raggi hoisted him up on his shoulder, gear and all.
With that, it was getting towards the end of the session time. So the PCs decided to bag it and head home - but not before attacking the boulders. Suspecting they might be rock mites or rock trolls or something of that sort, they shot one with a sling bullet. Clunk. Nothing. Probably not animate.
The PCs headed back (mostly) by the route they came before, seeing nothing new excepts some rats getting after the acid spider corpse. They wound their way back, left the dungeon, and headed to town.
Overall, this was a fun session, but short. I got there by 2, everyone else between 2:30 and 3, and we finished by 7 pm. So if it seems short, it was.
- I had Dryst's player roll his own Resurrection spell against a 15, since it would have been done immediately upon return to town last session. It was reasonable to assume that they'd dealt with access to the money ahead of time since they talk about "What to do if someone dies" all the time. He rolled a 14, but just before his brother showed up we casually turned one die to make it a 16, and then showed it to him. Couldn't resist. Maybe in true old school fashion, cumulative Resurrection spells should take a penalty . . . and I have some ideas for a Reincarnation spell I need to play around with.
- I gave Raggi a 9 or less to show up. Secretly, I gave him a 13+ to decide to head back to his tribe for 1d+1 months. So there was a chance he'd show, a chance he'd miss the delve, and a chance he'd be gone for at least two months. Dryst's player rolled and got a 7 or 8, and there he was. Since Raggi had what he'd consider a good trip (lots of killing, and he killed a lot!) he'll be back to his usual next time. But I figured him getting pasted has really bothered him, and he's no deep thinker. One more solid delve and he'll shrug it off. One more really bad one and he'll maybe give up on this whole thing.
- Asher was officially perma-loaned the fine flaming broadsword they found in the wight's sarcophagus in the Caves of Chaos back in session 8 and Vryce carried around or kept ever since.
- Why do some things attack servants, others don't? It depends. Intelligent beings decide to or not. Others attack sources of light, others sources of vibration, others sources of heat, others by smell. Those that hit the first two tend to attack servants thinking they are food. The latter two mean ignoring a servant, which has little heat and certainly no living-being like smell. (Although, who knows, maybe they smell like apples, like Ray Liotta.)
- I used four Grick minis I picked up like 15-16 years ago on sale, painted grey with ivory beaks and claws, and never did get to use. The stats are based on a mix between the mini's characteristics and some stuff I figured they'd need to do to not suck as DF encounters. Some of that might actually be what real Grick do.
- It's been so, so long since an eye shot to a PC and a shot that wasn't so high-damage that death immediately followed that I had to look up the rules for major wounds to the eye. -10 to your roll, FWIW. I knew it was like -5 or so, and that missing by 5+ meant you dropped, but it had been a while. Too many PCs with Luck and/or ridiculously heavy skull armor.
But still, this is why stirges are scary. Unarmored and alone, you're doomed. Armored, you'd generally okay . . . except they have a reasonable chance to get the eyeslits and they can and will go for them.
- I need to bust out the Tactical Mass Combat rules and get ready, because they are talking more and more about a direct assault on the orc's valley base some miles north of the dungeons.
No profit, and a fair amount of cost, but they feel like they got things done and no one suffered to do them. Except for Asher, and Al Murik should be able to fix that. There is money in the dungeon, but not necessarily easy to get to from where they are entering. Getting some freedom of movement back in the dungeons might help a lot, because there is awesome stuff in there, but so much of their trips now is spent navigating around profitless obstacles. We'll see how they handle that challenge.