December 9th, 2012
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Borriz, dwarven knight (290 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (262 points)
Krug, hobgoblin adventurer (?? points)
Lurg, hobgoblin hireling (?? points)
Derg, hobgoblin hireling (?? points)
Zerg, hobgoblin hireling (?? points)
Ferg, hobgoblin hireling (?? points)
Drog, hobgoblin hireling (?? points)
6 Female hobgoblin camp followers (?? points)
Inquisitor Marco, human cleric (about 280 points)
Kullockh, human scout (250 points)
Nakar, human wizard (about 295 points)
Vryce, human knight (about 315 points)
Jon Hillman, human guard - a shieldbearer (62 points, NPC)
Al Shieldbearer, human guard - a shieldbearer (62 points, NPC)
Moe Redshirt, human guard - a crossbowman (62 points, NPC)
Grey McCape, human guard - a crossbowman (62 points, NPC)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Still in town:
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (283 points)
We picked up where we left off last time, with the party in mid-air over some subterranean body of water.
The party hit the water hard. Most of the PCs and nearly all of the NPCs failed their Body Sense rolls, and hit the water still disoriented from the sudden teleport. That meant they couldn't even try to take a breath or hit the water well. A couple of the party made the roll, but didn't have the swimming chops to enter the water properly and inhaled water when they did. The only one to make both was Galen Longtread, whose Absolute Direction helped him resist disorientation and whose swimming let him hit the water properly.
Others did really badly - disorientated and heavily weighted down with plate armor, Inquisitor Marco sucked in water and sank immediately. His flailing attempts to swim ended badly (a critical failure) and he sucked down a lot of water and went down to the bottom 30' below. Nakar equally flailed around for a few seconds before failing badly and starting to sink and drown (critical failure, again) - but worse, he was invisible, and he couldn't cancel the spell to let rescuers see him and it wouldn't run out on its own until 1 minute after he passed out. He sank. The various hirelings did badly, failing rolls and having too much heavy gear. The hobgoblin hirelings did worse - they'd loaded themselves down with every possible weapon and bit of armor they could carry, and mostly sank quickly.
The only bright spots were Borriz, who found this swimming stuff wasn't so hard*, Red Raggi, who quickly made a Swimming roll (but lost his axe), and Vryce, who also made a nearly miraculous Swimming roll and managed to keep himself on the surface while in plate and mail - it helps that he's obscenely strong (ST 17). Kullockh briefly had trouble but then started to swim.
Vryce yelled out orders to the swimmers - Galen and Kulloch to try to find Nakar, and Raggi to get Inquisitor Marco. It was in vain, though - Nakar was invisible, and while Raggi did spot Marco he was already 30' down and on the bottom, not moving. He couldn't swim down, rescue him, and then swim back up.
Meanwhile, the water's inhabitants came to visit. Razor fish! 3-4' long barracuda looking fish with silvery scales and long fangs. They slashed into the PCs. Their defenses nearly nil in the water, the PCs and NPCs alike got torn up. As the blood roiled out, it attracted the gigantic shark that also lives here.** It swept up and bit into Drog the hobgoblin, who was flailing around. He was dragged right under. More fish nipped in for a bite and then away, randomly attacking swimmers and drowners alike. Kullockh got bit, badly - his right leg was crippled from a nasty bite. Galen moved towards him but got bit too, and then Kullockh started to get hit more and more. His right arm was then crippled, and then his torso was bit badly. Galen got slashed up.
What to do, where to go?
Galen spotted a pillar to the right of the trashing group, and dock-like stone quays with archways in the walls to either side about 30' away, and a bigger dock like area near a stone balcony 60' away. As the fish swarmed in, and Vryce realized even the swimmers might not make it, they decided to swim for the dock 30' "ahead" of them. A mere 10 seconds of hard swimming. Not all of them made it.
In fact, only Galen (horribly torn up by razor fish, and his right foot crippled by a bite), Vryce (hurt despite his heavy armor), Borriz (ditto), and Raggi (bitten very badly) managed to get to the "dock." They turned and watched the bloody waters were 19 of their companions were being finished off by the fish. Some of the now-frenzied fish leap and snapped at the dock's edge, and Galen told them razor fish could get around a little on the shore, so they kept away from the edges. Above was a vaulted roof with hundreds of bats, but nothing flying to attack them.
They quickly parceled out Raggi's and Vryce's healing potions and drank them down, trying to keep folks conscious and able to fight.
Beyond the archway was another area of "dock," for a total area of 10' x 20'. Also, more water. Under the water they could see two lines of cages or cells, badly deteriorated, with a wide (15" wide) stone top slick with algae, running out from the dock, about 3' below the top of the dock and 2' or more below the surface of the water. The room had a vaulted roof like the one outside, and was pretty wide.
Then Raggi saw movement. He and Borriz took positions flanking Vryce, Galen still to hurt to help. Out from the water crawled seven fishmen - scaled humanoids with black eyes, green-glossy scales, black claws, and harnesses for gear as "clothing." They had shield of woven seaweed-like material and spears of bone and bronze. One was unarmed, but big, and another was an obvious priest. Vryce shouted "Parley!" but they didn't, with a spear attack on Raggi (now armed with a long knife!) and a harpoon thrown at Borriz. They defended and went to work. It was brutally quick. Raggi sliced up one fishman with his knife, Vryce stepped in and knocked one down and then immediately feint-and-attacked the unarmed one, thinking he must be real trouble. He hit him and did max damage, dropping him (but not finishing him). Borriz chucked his hatchet into the priest and knocked him down and back into the water. A quick bit of fighting after that killed the rest - the unarmed one was finished, along with three others, while one wounded one managed to roll into the water to escape.
They looted the fishmen of some gold lip rings and the unarmed one of matching gold bracelets. They hatched a plan to leave. Deciding they could walk on the submerged cage rails, but it would be too risky, they decided to swim for the bigger quay they'd seen. Before that, they tried to fish for floating gear from their friends. They asked if there was a chance Nakar's potions floated up. Sure, 1 in 6. One! Okay, how many of his six? Roll. Six! So I ruled his potion bag floated up, along with his gem of healing. They snagged it with a loop made from the harpoon's cord and used it to heal enough to swim.
They pushed the fishmen bodies in on the opposite side of the dock from them. They cut them up a bit more first to ensure their green blood spilled into the water. They eased into the water and started to swim. Ironically, Galen sucked water and needed Raggi to rescue him (which he did), and then they swam to the dock. They made it.
Some exploration found there was a ramp off the dock, which they followed to the balcony - kind of a "scenic outlook" over the body of water. They took the only hallway out, which had a mirror mounted to ensure you could see around the corner. They went that way and found a room, and ran into three nearly-naked pale skinned humans with spears and one with a trident. Vryce called "Parley" but they ran at the party. So Galen shot one down (he'd done his best to dry his bowstring and some arrows, but still shot with a -2, no problem for a Heroic Archer). Vryce killed another, and Raggi slammed one. The arrow-wounded one got shot in the back as he tried to flee.
They questioned the man. He spoke oddly accepted common, but was willing to talk. He told them how to get out, that lizardmen and newtmen were above (they raid each other), that he'd take them to "the Boss" across the water they'd swam out of. Also, when they asked about the surface he told them it was a myth, and then hung his head and said "Woe is me! I am captured by crazy people!"
One they got what they could out of him, they decided to get rid of him. Raggi killed him. They took some human hair braided rope with a crude padded grapnel off the arrow-slain one. In the next room was a 20' x 20' gap in the ceiling. The rope was just long enough. So they tossed it up and climbed up. Vryce took an arrow from a newtman who fled with his companion. The rest of the group cautiously followed.
They searched for a way out - the opposite was the newtmen came was a dead end, stinking of lizards. The other way had an intersection and a door, but they followed the wet footprints of the newtmen instead to the right. There they found a heavy ironbound door but couldn't bust it down, and a long passageway (in excess of 200') to a secret door. They took that and went out, finding another door they couldn't open and a hallway.
The went down the hallway, checking doors, and then found real trouble at the end - the hallway opened up to the left into a hallway. In it were seven lizardmen, four big slorn, backed by a dozen newtmen with bows and spears led by another lizard men. The newtmen were behind a portcullis, so they could shoot into the fray with impunity. Borriz argued for attack (he had been run by Honus's player up to around now, but then that guy had to leave and Nakar's player took over, which might explain this). But Vryce said, keep backing up. They did - the lizardmen refused to follow and give up their defensive position.
So the group fled back into the secret door, down the long corridor, and went the other way. They briefly entered a big room that turned out to be a newtman barracks. A fight in the wet, slimy room resulted in no injuries (poor rolling, weak damage, and heavy armor) but killed twenty newtmen and consumed most of Galen's remaining broadheads.
The searched a hallways full of rooms - in the end, 9 of them. Most of the 20 x 20 rooms had six furs/hides nailed to the wall for no clear purpose but little else. They did find some interesting stuff:
- one had a painting of the mountain with a different, lower castle on it. When they watched, it suddenly shifted into a burning castle. Then, ruins. Then, the new castle. Then, that burning, then, the ruins as they've seen them. Then back to the beginning, around again.
- another had a berserk acid slorn in it, which scorched Vryce with its acid mist before Borriz smashed its head in.
- another had weird sticky patches on the floor. No one went in.
- another was dusty (instead of wet and damp) and had a big wheel grindstone in it. No one wanted to try it.
- The last room was a long-deserted torture chamber, with rusting old stuff. Borriz (read: Nakar's player) insisted the iron maidenhad to be a secret door. So he pried open the rusted iron maiden. No door. But inside were 48 spikes, silver in color. Checking, they were really silver, at 8 ounces each! They pried off all 48 of them, giving them 24 pounds of silver (at 250 sp aka $ per pound).
They moved back and kept moving into new territory. They moved quickly here. They found another long corridor that eventually T-ed out into a spiral staircase up to the left, and another heavy ironbound door to the right. Beyond the door they heard the hissing/breathing/barking noises of the lizardmen, in some kind of spooky rhythm. They took the stairs, avoid a noisemaker line.
At the top they found a lot - three connected rooms, all empty, except the middle one had a 12" black six-fingered handprint in the middle. No one touched it or went near it. Eventually after some twisting around, the spotted flicking flame in the distance down a corridor, and a door the opposite way. The door was damp and water had leaked under it. They decided the door was a bad idea, and the flickering were the "fire men" Krug warned them about last time. They backtracked and tried a new direction.
They found a strange altar in one area - it was solid stone, of one piece, carved out of the floor. Carved as if, Borriz said, they'd carved the room out around this altar. Next to it was scrawled, in Common, "BEWARE! Touch only once!" in whitewash paint. So Vryce touched it - and his injuries were healed. Borriz touched it, too - same thing! Galen tried it, and gained Danger Sense (for one day). Raggi touched it and his knife glowed briefly.
Shortly after this they found a hexagonal room with a statue of a six-fingered man. It was point down an open corridor (their approach), and there were signed it could swivel in place. Danger Sense told Galen not to touch it, or the one of the doors out of the room. Another door, behind it, was of iron - covered with small scratches and tiny dents as if people had tried to pry it open or smash it down. The third door was locked and just resisted their attempts to pry it open.
So, touch the statue = danger. Touch one specific door = danger. So they tried the door anyway. The statue swiveled, blasted Vryce with black fire (no defenses), and knocked him out cold with fatigue-draining nastiness. The statue swiveled back. They had to stay in the room for nearly an hour to let Vryce recover enough to be able to fight.
They explored a bit after this, but luckily the other way turned out to be toward the hobgoblin's fortress area. They climbed over a barricaded section, and then into the hobgoblin's area. From here, Galen's Absolute Direction led them home. Well, back to the trap door to level one, and out via the stairs to the fallen tower they'd dug out.
From there, the four survivors of the expedition - out of seven PCs who entered, and twenty-three total PCs and NPCs - headed to town.
* Borriz, well Vryce's player rolling for Borriz, rolled a 4 on his Swimming default. We use a house rule called "You're a natural" - if you roll a 3 or 4 on your first default of a skill, you may immediately spend one point to learn the skill (and point debt is okay if necessary). This represents natural skill you just didn't know you had before.
** Yes, a subterranean freshwater shark. Suck it, reality.
Notes & Such
We didn't have a full house today. Nakar's player had to go into work for most of the session. Borriz's player couldn't make it. Inq. Marco's player came later (and just goofed on the PCs while working on a new PC). And Honus's player guest starred for half the session.
I put that shark and those fish in that waterway a long time ago. I expected, well, they might annoy people trying to swim around and look for treasure or who get knocked off a boat in a fight. And they explain some of the actions of folks around them. Instead, they wiped out 19 party members. Crazy.
I'm bummed Krug didn't survive. I was amused by the idea of a hobgoblin squad of hirelings, but they didn't swim well.
I rolled randomly for fish attacks; basically each person had a chance to get attacked by fish, and the worse the roll the more fish. I re-rolled each turn and added on for bleeding. This doomed the non-swimmers badly and bad luck caught Kullockh.
The guys had to start with no loot, and the ones who made it up have made the biggest one-trip haul that I can remember.
Oddly, two of the guys who had ready-made new PCs printed out and ready to go, Vryce's player and Galen's player, didn't need them and still won't.
Inq. Marco's player is saying his next guy with be a Martial Artist with Gigantism and a horse cutter named Chuck Morris. I already approved the concept and name. No clue on Nakar's replacement yet, or Kullockh's.