June 8th, 2014
Weather: Hot, breezely, clear.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (255 points)
Mark Strawngmussel, human laborer (62 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (347 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (347 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (408 points)
Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (unknown point total, NPC)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
We started as usual in Stericksburg, with what seems to be the core regulars right now - Galen, Dryst, Vryce, and Bern. They organized their gear, stocked up on potions, and ordered some gear for next time (spellstones, mostly, but also noteably Galen splurged on a powered Iron Arm bracelet for himself for something like $22K.)
They gathered rumors, including some odd ones. There was a run of crazy old guys this week. Bern met one guy in a bar told him his uncle (just prior to dying from an infected monster bite), told him there was a special place hidden in Felltower and he'd carved an arrow on the floor pointing to it. Vryce met a crazy old guy who told him he'd bought his false teeth with a gemstone pulled outta the wall of Felltower in a tunnel full of gems sticking outta the walls. Then on the way home a man ran up to him and said "Be Ye Going To Felltower? Beware the Aruda!" and then collapsed - but didn't recall any of it when awakened.
They also heard a barge carrying liquor was pirated off the river, and the merchants blame the orcs. Raggi told the group they should heist it back and sell it for a nice profit - he's a raider at heart. They also heard that some rooms in the dungeon have doors that connect far-apart rooms together. Galen groaned, "As if our maps aren't bad enough."
Once they'd gathered all they could, they headed out, with a laborer in tow carrying Bern's stuff.
The orcs hadn't fortified the castle any further. They were clearly done. They let the PCs in after they paid the toll, briefly trapping them between portcullis and wagon before letting them through. This time, they said the main entrance was off limits, and ushered the PCs down the well using orc-owned ropes. They'd cleaned it out after having previously blocked it. They had also put a parapet of sorts around most of it, with only a small gap to climb down through.
The PCs went down, and quickly down to the next level below that. They found the carven arrow on the floor they'd assiduously avoided in the past, and a careful search found a cleverly hidden secret door. But they couldn't find a trigger for it. A hunch to check a nearby alcove, though, paid off - there was a notch in the wall with a depressed stone "button" in it. That - pressed by a Created Servant, opened the the door.
Behind it was a bare room, 10 x 10, with a red six-fingered hand on the wall. They looked for other features, but found nothing, so they closed it back up and left. They heard stirges ahead so they raced deeper into the dungeon and down a bend.
They headed up the old "fire-men" corridor but when they reached the corridor's end they found a big yellow ooze or slime waiting for them. It rushed at them - hunting slimes can be fast - and they counterattacked. Dryst created a wooden sword for Vryce at his request, and Galen shot arrows into it. His arrows plunged deep into it but with no apparent harm, and quickly disintegrated. Vryce's blows did nothing, nor did Raggi's axe. It slammed into Vryce and held on by trying to envelope him. Meanwhile Bern gizmo'd up a vial-tipped crossbow bolt full of a base mix and shot it into the ooze. It went in and shattered, carving out a section.
At this point Gort said, "We fought yellow slimes back in my Shining Force days. Cold and zapping them worked." So Dryst started in on lightning, as Vryce backed off and Raggi got slammed and held and partly engulfed. Then Bern hit it with a "dry ice" bomb and froze a section; Galen then shattered that section into fragments ("Slimesicles - very refreshing in summertime," said Dryst.) Dryst zapped it with lightning twice, both times also zapping Raggi, who went berserk (but he was also stunned from the lightning, and kept blowing his recovery rolls.) Vryce grappled Raggi and pulled him partly free of the grip of the slime (hurrah for CP-based grappled.)
In the end the second jolt of lightning did it and "killed" it, and Raggi managed to control his rage.
After that, some meandering around found them unable to get to the next set of stairs down thanks to a fresh barricade of rubble blocking a hallway. So they circumvented that by clambering over a shaped passage through a hobgoblin-set barricade of stone. Once through, they checked a side room (nothing in it, just some marks of previous inhabitants), and headed down the stairs.
They decided to check out the statue on the landing. It detected as magical, but had no signs of movability or use. Dryst sat down and did Analyze Magic on it - and found it had a False Aura on it to detect as magic. Nice. So Vryce pushed it over, which broke its head off. The resulting noise attracted attention - they heard a horn echo, and booted feet rushing around - probably orcs above them.
They checked under the base of the statue and found it had been turned - how long ago, no one could say, but it didn't always face the way it did. But it was otherwise just a statue.
They headed down to the lower level. They briefly checked the "deathtouch" secret door but saw no easy way to open it, fuddled around with some iron hooks hammered into the first room's wall, and then headed to the roper's cave.
It was filled with bats (more than before), and there were dead rats and bats on the floor. The ropers were gone, no sign of what happened - and no drag marks, either.
So the group threw a lightstone off the cliff, and seeing it was safe (enough), they used Silence and an iron spike to drop a knotted rope down. At the bottom they found a rough and probably natural tunnel that lead slightly up and then down to an intersection. At the intersection, however, they were suddenly swarmed by stirges!
Not as in a few, but as in 3 or 4 dozen. They swamped the group and made protecting your buddy impossible. In the chaos, Mark was impaled by two bloodsuckers, Gort by one, Galen by two on his face, and Raggi by three. Bern got one on his face, too. Lucky for them all, no one was hit in the eye. Vryce made short work of them, killing two a second with his sword. Bern tried to grab his off his face, but then Galen shot that one dead and let Bern just pull it out (painfully.) Galen shot down a few before his face-grabbing stirges made that impossible. His response was to shoot them off his face. He made the impossible shot, loading his bow, reversing it, and foot-dragging it back and releasing to shoot upwards through the stirges, killing both. He'd earn MVP for that because no one did anything more amazing than that.
Dryst whipped up a Windstorm and drove the remaining stirges away, while they killed and removed the stirges from Raggi and Marc and Gort. They hurried ahead into the unknown rather than back off and face going through the stirges again. They'd killed 20 (Galen nailed at least six) but there were at least that many more.
Beyond was a larger cavern . . . and in it was a twelve legged wyrm (they decided it was behir) which reared up and advanced on them. As they got ready to attack, it spoke in Common and asked to parlay with their leader. Bern started talking, announcing they were sort of an anarchic collective, so it decided Bern was the leader and spoke to him. Long story short, it claimed to be famous for its knowledge of the area, and it would answer questions in return for food (eying Marc, now unconscious.) They offered stirges, instead - and made a deal for four questions for six stirges, after sending Galen back armed with a gizmo'd up anti-stirge stinkbomb and an alchemist's fire.
The wyrm told them there were four apes with treasure past its lair, and also a way out of the dungeons . . . and a dragon. They made a deal - in return for one dead ape as food, it would give them passage back past it's lair. It agreed - and this would be important later.
They headed to another intersection, and Dryst send a Wizard Eye with Dark Vision on it to scout. He found a long carven, and oddly symmetrical square intersection room, and a pillared room with treasure in it. They decided that was the dragon's lair and whisked the eye back. Then they pulled down a dead end corridor, covered a section up a bit from the end with an Illusion of a dead end, and quietly rested and ate. Then they headed down a tunnel away from the "dragon" and through a different oddly symmetrical square intersection room. Galen noticed a feeling of old magic (despite no Magery) and Dryst felt it clearly. Like some great magic had occurred in the past in the room.
They also heard - Galen also heard - a nearly subsonic hum coming from the left tunnel. So they went that way.
They went around a J-hook tunnel into an oval-shaped cave. In it they saw:
- two ways out.
- a pile of treasure near one of the ways out.
and when a servant checked the treasure to see if it was real, it said it saw "stone people" down the corridor with the treasure headed in front and near the far wall. Even as that happened, they all felt a numbing hum hit them - and only Vryce and Bern shrugged it off. They were a bit lethagic and sluggish and demotivated (-2 DX, IQ, Will).
They decided it was a medusa or something, especially when they heard some a-rhythmic hissing come from the other way out.
They headed over to the treasure and saw the stone men - actually people, posed in very odd poses (almost dance like), positioned under stalactites, covered with a shell of stone. They felt like something had posed them there to calcify.
They started to scoop up treasure to get some cash and skedaddle. But instead from the far exit a group of lizard men rushed in! They soon found the lizard men exuded a nasty stench, and dubbed them troglodytes after the AD&D critters. They immediately engaged. Vryce whipped out an alchemist's fire and threw it at the entrance, splashing too with flaming goo and creating a burning hurdle. They all ran through it, but in the ensuing melee, many of them fell because the minor burns they'd suffered charging through coupled with the damage they suffered later put them just over the threshold to falling. Nice.
What followed was the usual confused melee. The "troglodytes" massed around the PCs, trying to nauseate them with their stench. The PCs fought back, leaving only Gort to guard the rear. Raggi charged. Dryst Great Hasted himself and then Vryce. Galen shot "trogs" with his bow, frustrated greatly by their shields and good blocking skills. But it went badly from there. Four more "trogs" attacked from behind, and a berserker "trog" with a greatsword engaged Vryce. Raggi chopped one down and intimidated another that was coming for him into backing off. And then a cloak-fiend of some kind (we all called it a cloaker) hoved into vue from down the treasure-choked exit. It let out a hum and Raggi was instantly paralyzed. Uh-oh.
Vryce quickly put down the berserker leader, first hurting him and then putting his eyes out (and his brain out) with two quick stabs after fending off a blow from the moaning, clearly magical, greatsword of the berserker. But he only got one shot at the cloaker shortly after and it easily avoided his swings before it pulled back and the trogs mobbed him again. The cloaker hummed again, setting a wave of panic into Galen - Gort and Vryce, both mostly fearless, ignored it, as did strong-willed Dryst. But then it sent a hum into Galen and paralyzed him. They were down to two fighters, as Bern was knocked out by a "trog."
Gort tried to hold off the rear attackers but a critical hit put him down. Marc went down to a clubbing strike to his back. And Dryst - heavily magically shielded and armored - succumbed to the nausea and began retching. Anyone else would have been helpless, but he'd layered so much magical protection on himself (and covered himself in so much heavy armor) that he was still largely immune to most attacks.
Basically Vryce fought on alone. The cloaker seemed to realize he was shielded from him - the players realized it was due to the magic headband of silvery material they'd taken from the crazy boss. It backed off, not trying to engage, although it came out once more and tried to paralyze him. It zapped him and lucky for Vryce, rolled poorly - Vryce rolled a 15 vs. his 17, making it only by 2. Lucky for them, or the fight would have been over. Vryce started to get nauseous from the "trogs," so he drew a Resist Poison spellstone and used it on himself, which I ruled neutralized the effects of the poison in him, too. He fought on, without the penalties form the stench.
Meanwhile poor Dryst was knocked around by three "trogs," who cornered him and pounded on him. They only hurt him a little, but knockback kept him down (and retching kept him useless, even under Great Haste.)
The fight went on - the cloaker retreated, Vryce kept killing (and had to kill a "trog" who dropped his weapon and shield to try and retrieve the champion's sword.) He wanted to retrieve that sword himself, but he didn't get the chance.
The fight finally wrapped up as Vryce dropped the last of the "trogs" - even the three who abandoned kicking around Dryst and engaged him - even as his Great Haste dropped away. With the trogs down, he snapped up the magic sword and they waited. The cloaker didn't come out. Dryst bid his Wizard Eye to go check on it, and found he could see three cloakers in the shadow-shrouded depths of the treasure-choked corridor.
They waited to see if their friends would recover. They did, so they quickly fed potions to the few wounded (most had been taken out by paralysis), scooped up the treasure, and headed out. They dragged the lead "trog" to offer as food to the wyrm.
They made it back, looking little worse for wear - Gort was a little wounded, and Marc unconscious, but he had been when they met the wyrm the first time. They offered the "trog" but the wyrm recoiled and said it wouldn't eat it, and that they needed to trade food for passage. They didn't want to fight it, so they offered two apes next time. The wyrm said reasonably, "But you don't have an ape now." So Vryce said, if you let us pass to the surface we'll come back with a PIG.
"A live pig?" it asked.
Sure, they replied. They even bargained to bring one pig for this trip, and a second live pig for next time, and it agreed they could pass out now and back past it next time if they brought two pigs.
After that, they headed to the surface. The orcs, somewhat reluctantly, let them up. They headed back to town.
The dead rats and bats on the floor sparked a whole tangent on how this was the "neutral zone" between the rat level and the bat level, and the ropers had been the arbiters of rat-bad disputes. Now it was a warzone between the species. Heh.
We used the group climbing rules from DF16 for the climb down. Simple, easy, reasonable results.
Galen shooting the stirges off his face while grappled by them and losing blood? I said it was -10, plus whatever other penalties, plus -4 for shooting into a melee. He still had like a 15 or so and made both shots easily.
They got a nice haul - a few thousand silver each from the gold, silver, copper, gems, and coins they found. They also found a magical beaker than can pour out one major healing potion a day for up to 15 days, in a difficult to break beaker. They found some incense that can be ignited to create a Stench cloud. They also scored a magic shortsword (claimed by Galen), a wand of electricity, and a suit (well, torso, arms, legs) of scale armor sized for a dwarf that was Lighten 50% and Fortify +3. Bern and Dryst voted to sell it, but Vryce and Raggi said to give it to Gort. So they did. They also had that magic, moaning sword. That turned out to be nicely magical, but also gave the bearer Bloodlust and Berserk and once swung in combat it couldn't be let go of until it killed. Lucky for Vryce, he hadn't swung it.
They found a buyer for it for 5,000. Not bad for a cursed sword of berserking.
Overall, a good session. And I got to bust out my cloak fiend mini I'd painted so long ago I can't even remember when I did it. Probably well over 10 years ago. They ran smack into a set-piece I'd put together - the cloaker and the "trogs." It had the impact I expected, but it was also a much, much closer run fight than anyone would have hoped. I had fun though.
They also spent a good deal of time trying to figure out a way out - an idea we'd discussed before. Between sessions, Galen will scout for traffic going in to the dungeon from other places (including back-tracking the orcs.) They also will hire sages, and there was at least some talk about buying maps and asking sages about other ways in and out.
Note to self: check pig prices for DF.