February 1st, 2015
Weather: Cold, cloudy, but with a snowstorm threatening.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Al Murik, dwarven cleric (270 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (391 points)
Vryce, human knight (468 points)
Still in town:
Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (250 points)
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
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)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
We started, as always, in Stericksburg. We only had a trio of players, and they decided they'd be better off chancing the "water entrance" - the stream that feeds underground from the mountain into the Silver River - instead of raiding the orcs overland. With that in mind, they checked to see what potions were available. There were only 6 water breathing potions available, so they decided not to bring any NPCs at all - even Raggi! Raggi's Roughnecks are growing up and leaving the nest.
They gathered rumors - including Reverend Al, who went drinking all week with Vryce. Lots of rumors, including one about the source of all mana for the area being buried under Felltower (Dryst: "That's mine."), a giant monster sleeping beneath Felltower ("That's mine, too"), one about how dragon's blood can power spells, and a few others. Then they set out.
In the downtime, Al improved his swimming (must have been cold practice), and Dryst learned to swim ("Under protest.") and picked up the spell Breathe Water. That all taken care off, they crossed the river, went through the slums avoiding folks begging for jus' a few silvers to get bread and milk before the snow hits, and then went downstream. They found the spot and sent in a Wizard Eye to scout once it was ruled that it could "swim" at 1/5 its flying speed. Why not. We ruled out casting Swim on it after realizing that allows a huge swath of spells to modify the Wizard Eye for game-changing effects.
In any case, the eye was sent after Dryst put Dark Vision on.
They worried, legitimately, about razor fish, armored sharks, murky water after seeing the waste-choked Silver River (I joked, "the water is remarkably clear - it's only -8 to vision rolls!"), and the existence of all sorts of subterranean aquatic life. Also about dead-ends and distance.
The eye plowed slowly through the water, thanks to the steady current coming from the subterranean feeder. The water was clear - it's pure at its source - and only some carp eyed the eye and didn't molest it. It went up about 50 yards of fully subterranean tunnel that ranged from 3-5' wide/tall (the shape varied) before there was an air layer above. Dryst surfaced the eye. He found a tunnel, and his eye scouted up the tunnel for about a quarter-mile of slowly rising uneven, slick stone. It came to a crevice that split the tunnel, just short of a wider opening. They decided it was worth checking the stream further, so the eye was brought back and plunged into the stream again. A short distance further up the tunnel choked down to about 7-8' accross but only a foot or so high. The scouting was abandoned as it wasn't something they could adventure up.
The party was magicked up with Breathe Water spells and plunged into the frigid stream (Note to self: I forgot to inflict the FP costs for cold water.) They swam up against the current, and that netted out to about two minutes or so of swimming, guided only by Dryst and his Dark Vision. They swam against the current but made solid progress and reached the air-filled tunnel. There they rested, while Dryst created servants and light stones.
They got dried off-ish and headed in, marching about a quarter mile slowly up the climbing tunnel, carefully picking their way up the slick stones and uneven floor. It was tiring and slow, but they didn't rush and made it safely. The crevice was crossed with Walk on Air (and Vryce doing a jump, and missing by 1' but the spell made that safe.)
Past it, the group found a large round cavern opened up, with a 20' steep-sided pit in the middle surrounded by a 7-9' wide ledge that crawled around both sides. It looked natural but treacherous as the floor was still slick and uneven. They heard scraping and slithering noises. Vryce took a lightstone and hucked it into the pit. It bounced and came to a rest against a tube-shaped segmented purple-ish something that started moving. In moments it covered the stone, and then moments later exposed it, showing a long black spike for a tail. A purple worm!
The group started into action, readying for the worm as it reared up and rushed them. Al threw his axe but it dodged, and Dyrst Great Hasted and Vryce and Al put Shield on him. The worm mistakenly targeted a servant and wasted a second destroying it. Vryce went to work and attacked. It turned on him, but began Dodging the worm's bites and chopping it for at least a hundred points of basic damage over a few seconds. It went berserk, and charged. Instead of using its distance it came in close, and bit and slammed Vryce over and over. He dodged the bites, once forced to use Luck to avert a 4, but couldn't stop the slams from putting him down. Even so, in relatively short order he was able to regain his feet, and keep attacking the worm until it suddenly dropped. The whole group moved in, to deal finishing blows. Bad move - the worm began to thrash crazily, sending them all flying but without serious hurts. When it stopped, they decided to sit down right there and rest.
Sometimes, when the ref says, "you want to sit down right where you had a noisy battle with a giant monster and rest?" the answer is, "Just kidding, we meant we want to retreat a few hundred yards, put a crevice between us, and not come back out until we're sure any threat has died down."
Within 5 minutes, their rest was interrupted - two more purple worms irrupted from the stony pit floor and charged the group.
We rolled initiative, and pretty much anything but a 1 would win initiative for the group. Vryce's player rolled a one.
These worms fought a little more cagily, since they didn't take the bait of created servents and get whacked into a frenzy. They reared up and snapped in and bit then pulled back. Before Dryst or Al could buff him up, Vryce was bit by one of the worms, critically. He had to use Luck to avert that. Not long after the other worm bit him and he failed to Dodge. It dealt a solid bite, but luck for Vryce, it inflicted just a few damage shy of enough CP to achieve an automatic swallow. It picked him up and reared back, and began to shake Vryce back and forth. The other worm plowed right through the ledge and destroyed a section of it on its way to attack.
It attacked Dryst and Al. Dryst tried to run interference, and it mostly worked until he put Blur on and Al became the prime target over the blurry little speck that is Dryst. But with a Shield spell, he was able to keep the worm from getting a solid hit on him and mostly got knocked around by the impact on his magical protection. Dryst put a flash of Alchemist's Fire into the worm and lit it up, which infuriated it. Dryst started in on Great Haste and then Walk on Air and heading to Vryce.
Vryce, in the meantime, used his Wrestling skill to fend off the worm's attempts to improve its bite and swallow him. This wasn't easy with 26 CP on him, but even so, he managed to get a few sword blows on the worm and start to reduce its hold. Yes, this is ridiculous, but Vryce is ST 20, Weapon Master, has a fine balanced highly magical sword, and Two-Handed Sword-27. The worm tried re-biting but failed a lot, fended off some attacks with its strength and grip, and stabbed Vryce with its poison stinger (to no avail, as Vryce has great vigor.) Eventually, he cut the worm up enough to get it to drop him. Just then, Dryst moved up and joined the fray, Great Hasting Vryce. It didn't help much - as he lay prone Vryce was re-bit and picked up, this time for 28 CP (yet again, a whisker from automatic swallowing). But the worm didn't managed to do much more. It kept him off the ground and stung him, but Vryce wasn't heavily wounded. Vryce kept striking at it once hasted, and the more than doubling of his potential attacks told - and AOA (Determined) to land a few terrific blows helped. He managed to cut his way out of the grip of the worm again and it dropped him. On the fall down he cut it again, then landed and got to one knee. Dryst used Shocking Touch for 6d and luckily stunned the worm.
In the meantime, the "dead" one from the first fight started to raise its head and twitch. Uh-oh.
The stunned worm recovered almost immediately, but the pause was enough to let Vryce get up and get in five solid blows, wounding it horribly. In a few seconds, it was down. Vryce and Dryst rushed the tail of the one attacking Al, who in the meantime had lost his pick and ended up having to punch the worm (it didn't hurt it). Vryce sliced it to shreds with Gram while Dryst put a lightning blast into it from his Wand of Electricity.
Once it was down, they gave it room to death-throe and it did, and then they went to town on the first worm again.
Once it was hacked up badly, Vryce did the same to the other two. They then set one on fire using four flasks of oil and the others got a two-minute Create Fire treatment as the group waited back by the crevice.
The air got smokey and thin, but it held up.
As they rested, they hear soft footfalls and muffled, guttural, deep bass voices. They didn't last, though.
Once they'd rested a good bit (enough to be mostly recovered) and healed their injuries, they investigated.
The worms seemed really dead. The tunnels they'd chewed up had collapsed in on themselves.
There were some "worm castings" that Dryst insisted they search. Vryce agreed, but only with Earth Vision. He saw nothing useful within, but instead found that there was a seem of minerals - maybe gemstones - near one tunnel. Dryst was called on to shape it out, and they recovered what Al said looked like emeralds.
This done, they rested a little more and started to investigate the caverns.
They ended up winding their way around a long tunnel, which was getting less wet and slick but still was bad footing and difficult to traverse.
About another hour or so was spent winding around tunnels and mapping, finding a lot of nothing. But they did find a lot of passages to explore later, a big "sinkhole" that dropped maybe 70-80' down to a cave below, and a large cave with a ceiling-lurking kite-like monster. "A ceiling trapper" is what I think they dubbed it. It crushed a servant sent in to scout, but fled upward when Vryce tried to cut it. He followed it up, keeping to the side, and sliced it after Dryst lured it off the ceiling with a Lightning spell. It fled further and they weren't able to see it again even after they walked around scanning the floor and ceiling with See Secrets and Keep Eyes. They found no loot and made their way back to the corridors.
Once there, they mapped a little more and called it a day (bad weather was coming in real life, and it was almost ending time anyway.)
It took a while in game, but they made their way back, swam to the surface, and headed to town.
The only loot were the raw chunks of uncut emeralds, but they turned out to fetch 5000 sp. Not bad - enough for full XP for all but nearly-500 point Vryce, and enough to pay some of the potion costs (and they ended up not using even one of them.) All in all, a good trip - but a hard way in to a dangerous area of the dungeon, well below where they have been before.
What level was this? I don't reveal my numbering.
Vryce's player said that when the worm grabbed him, he thought it was over for Vryce. But, he thought, that's okay. He wouldn't have done anything differently, it was just rolling poorly on initiative and that kind of thing happens. He survived through a lot of good rolling by him, terrible damage rolling by me for the worms, and the sheer difficulty to kill him built into the character after a few years and more than 50 sessions of play.
The worm's poison was HT-4, which we joked was "Ah, the standard penalty." Venoms in my game after often trivial, but just as often very potent with lethal effects. "Roll HT-5 or make a new guy!"
At the end of the session, Vryce had enough points to buy off -10 of his -15 of sold-back Speed. He's now down to -40 points in disadvantages and up to Speed 7 and Move 8. That's a +1 Dodge and +1 to his Light Encumbrance move.
Not a lot happened beside the long purple worm fight, but it was scary stuff. If Vryce wasn't such a monster, and if I hadn't been rolling utterly awful damage (very few strikes even reached average damage - I even rolled 10 damage on 4d+2 twice) it would have been a potential TPK. Average bite damage for the worms could have swallowed any of them whole and only Luck averted a few Vryce-ending criticals.
Fun stuff. I was wondering how the worms would do. They did okay.