June 22nd, 2014
Weather: Warm, clear.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (260 points)
Mark Strawngmussel, human laborer (62 points, NPC)
Dryst, halfling wizard (348 points)
Father Keef, human initiate (125 points, NPC)
Brad McBearer, human shieldbearer (62 points, NPC)
Galen Longtread, human scout (360 points)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (430 points)
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)
Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (unknown point total, NPC)
We started in town, with the adventurers picking up some gear.
Dryst was there initially, but as his player had work, he was out for much of the session and then popped in suddenly. So he was able to gather henchmen, deal with in-town details, etc., something you usually forsake by showing up late.
Galen spent two weeks scouting. He backtracked the orcs from their old, overland route. And he also examined the mountain for a way in around the level they'd been at last time, testing the 12-legged wyrm's word about there being a way out. In reverse order, he found the way out. There is a 50' wide, 20-25' high cave mouth partly obscured and overgrown on the west side of the mountain. It smelled of sulfer and flame - so, yes, it could be a dragon's cave. It was at the right level that if it dipped a little it would reach the depth they were at.
The orcs, on the other hand, have set themselves up in a steep gulch or valley north of the mountain, futher up the V that ends tipped with Felltower. They had caves on the sides, a village of sorts, and so on, concealed from casual view until you got close (although their smoke, etc. was visible.) Galen counted at least a dozen little caves used for dwellings, around 500-600 orcs, and spotted a well-guarded cave to the south. More orcs entered there than left there. So he figured it was the way into Felltower. Seeing slaves sent in but not out, and occasional stone chunks dragged out, made him even more sure of that.
Bern meanwhile sought out maps, but only turned up a reference to the rising river levels turning the Silver River from a forked river (partly fed from under Felltower) to a single river. That coincided, however, with Vryce having pondered the rumor mill (translation - the player re-read all of the rumors). He recalled a rumor of a) blind fish being caught down by the southeast part of the river and b) a man dressed as a southern pirate turning up dead in the river. Since there is no obvious way in, they realized there must be a submerged entrance. They scoured the markets and found there were 7 water breathing potions for sale (lucky roll), but decided against using them to find a new way in.
They also decided against the "dragon cave," although Raggi vociferously argued for it. In the end they headed up, paid the orcs, and took the well entrance. At this point, it was only Raggi, Vryce, Bern, and Galen, plus Marc Strawngmussel.
Down the well, and then down to level 2. They they snuck past some stirges, and Bern rolled a 3 on his first-ever default of Stealth. Long-standing house rules meant he could spend a point to learn the skill, and he did on the spot. A natural sneak! Yet another reason not to trust gnomes.
They wound their way toward the labyrinth they'd been hung up on after killing the wizard, running when they heard the whoosh-clunk of a door and then the stomp-clunk, stomp-clunk of the Lord of Spite. They closed doors behind them and moved quickly, and it seemed to lose interest.
They reached a stone-carved altar seemingly dug out of the rock around it. Everyone except Bern had touched it before, so they had him touch it. He felt a glow of good health (+2 HT rolls) and really sharp, even for him (Attractive +1). He wanted another go. But they pointed out graffiti saying, "WARNING: Touch only once!" That was too much for his curiosity, especially when Raggi pointed out they never did that because, duh, sign on the wall. He touched it.
He felt a warping feeling (and, despite Luck) everyone seemed taller. His eye stalks felt fine, though, and his pseudopods flailed with their normal vibrancy. Oh, crap . . . turned out, he was turned into a cute (Attractive +1) but small (SM-1) slugbeast. His gear fell to the floor.
With no way to fix this, and no way to communicate except his poor Gesture skill, he ended up largely unable to artifice much. But he came along, since slugbeasts move pretty quickly, leaving a sticky slime trail behind him.
They ran into two orc guards, who waved them off from the orc-held areas. No more free transit there, it seems. So they moved back, and chose instead to head down to what we're calling level 3.
Once down there, they investigated the "deathtouch secret door." This time, they decided the trigger must be elsewhere. It was - on the opposite wall. They triggered that, and the door recessed into the floor with a quiet slide. They went in, and found a 30' corridor ending in a odd octagon. In the center was a 3" crystal ball in a 4-armed stand, two metal tables meshed into the floor on either side, and two stone benches, facing the ball.
They messed with the ball a little, but couldn't make it do anything, even after Galen deposited 5 sp on the right table. Vryce tried to grab the ball and take it, but it wouldn't budge, despite it clearly not being attached.
From there they headed to the "temple" - yet another place they'd been before. They messed around with the altar. This time (as Dryst showed up), they buffed up Raggi and Vryce with strength potions, Vryce with Might, and threw in the other muscle guys. They all got behind the altar and pushed. Lightning and black fire played across them, but despite the damage they kept on and pushed the altar enough to reveal a 6 x 9 x 20 deep opening below. They rested an hour, and then climbed down, leaving a servant to hold on to the rope and piton (since they were created via Create Object spells). They found a 30' room with an identical way out in the ceiling on the other side. So they sent up Galen to scout. He saw a purplish glow - maybe purplish smoke - and a mirror of the altar room from the other side. Except this one had an altar at the end with a bowl full of gems, a knife, an 8-pointed iron symbol, and brass candle holders. The walls were black shot with veins of purple, and the floor alternated tiles of black and black-and-purple. He reported back, and he (and Bern McSlimey) watched the altar as Dryst created some stone to anchor a rope up. One servant stepped on a black tile and black fire burned him up. The next stepped on purple and moved s-l-o-w-l-y. They chose that instead. Vryce and then Raggi climbed up, standing on the purple-veined tiles. As that happened, everyone except Dryst had their light stones go out. Then, out of the purple mist and darkness ran six figures. They were six-fingered, vaguely man (or ape) shaped beings of darkenss. Demons From Beyond the Stars, for those playing at home, slightly tweaked. They touched several of the PCs with their hands and inflicted a cold chill of unlife on them. Galen shot two point blank - one dodged, the other did not, and it suffered some clear injury. Vryce and Raggi tried to react, but they were slowed and could not (one level of Decreased Time Rate). Then, the lights all went out - the whole place went pitch black, impervious to Infravision (the slugbeast) and Night Vision (slugbeast, Galen). The demons attacked again, inflict a lot of damage. Raggi (barely) resisted going berserk. Vryce called the retreat as Dryst was savagely drained, and then fell 20" unconcious and barely holding on to life. Vryce jumped down the hole, as did Raggi, guided only by their closeness to the hole. Galen ran down, still under Walk on Air.
A hollow voice told them, "Flee, or be destroyed."
At the bottom, the PCs ran. They fled all the way back to the first temple area, and Galen dropped the magically created rope to dispel it, even as something was holding on at the bottom.
They fled all the way to a nearby room, and there set up a perimeter and did first aid, etc., and drank potions and such.
Dispirited by their failure, they headed back to the crystal ball room.
There, Bern McSlimey tried the ball, touching it with his pseudopods. He had a brief, whirling vision of the surface castle, but (with an 18 on Gesture) utterly failed to convey his vision to the other PCs. Dryst used Sense Danger, but nothing seemed dangerous. Only, if the ball was misused, would it be dangerous. So he used his Wild Talent to try Crystalomancy and looked for a new entrance to the dungeons. He saw a watery cave leading to a dry tunnel. So, he confirmed what they suspected earlier - there is a way in, if they can swim underwater a ways.
That done, they decided to check out the green zombie room again. They made it down, but could neither force the door nor unlock it (it's got a meteoric lock, and an iron door.) So they gave up and went back to the first level. On the way they investigated a mysterious pit and found their only loot - a large knife disguised as a scroll case, a gold eagle ($100 coin), and a 4 carat turquoise.
There, they Mage Locked themselves in the pool room and started to systematically use Analyze Magic to check the pools. Since this means a 1 hour casting time and 40 minutes rest, times 13 pools, skipping a few that didn't register as magic, this took almost 17 hours. The pools included:
- one of dry ice.
- one of eternal flaming liquid, with no discernible source.
- one of icy water
- one that, when drunk, healed.
- one that contained alcohol of the greatest taste and purity, but, sadly, it transported badly.
- one full of gold coins (turned out to be an illusion, that faded later - actually they were bronze slugs)
- one that put the drinker to sleep, and had prophetic dreams (Vryce drank, and dreamed of treasure in the flooded prison)
- one containing a gallon (about 115 pounds!) of mercury. They used it to cast Seeker on the 6-fingered guy they sold to the orcs, using his thumb. They got a vision of an orc cave, and Galen's pretty sure which one - one off the gulch full of orcs.
- one that contained an elixir of Mage Sight.
- one full of a pink slime, that Dryst later killed with lightning.
- one with a brass key of unknown usage, with Dryst apportated out.
Once they investigated the pools, they finally gave up and headed home, short on rations and sleep. The orcs let them up, and when they argued the toll should be 150 next time, they scoffed at the PCs.
They headed home, each with 150 sp in their pockets, short of a profitable journey by rather a lot.
The title comes with apologies to Ben Kingsley, who can probably kick my ass. And to Hot Chocolate, too.
Can slugbeasts talk? The template lacks Mute, but they're IQ 2 with Wild Animal, which includes Cannot Speak. So, no. Poor Bern failed every single Gesture roll, though.
30 HP is crazy. Vryce was healing 9 HP from first aid! 9 HP puts Dryst negative. Geez. It's super-normal.
Almost no combat this session, as they PCs realized they were going to die in the dark vs. the DFBTS and ran as fast as they could as soon as the combat started.
They almost took the mercury, since it was worth something like $15K. That would have been a very solid profit. But they realized the mercury, in place, is magically useful. So, profit now or power later? Dryst said he'd stand by the group's decision, and then groaned when Vryce and Galen voted to leave it.
Quote of the session? Vryce wondered if he should push the altar himself, or if multiple people should be involved. Dyrst quipped, "Multiple people. We want everyone to get hurt on this one."
A close second was when Vryce argued Bern could lure the pink slime out of its pool with Sex Appeal. Basically, every Bugs Bunny cartoon ever - Bugs (or some dynamite) in a dress, and bang, love.
Bern needs to come up with $1000 for Remove Curse to stop being a slugbeast. Ah, boy, was that a "what happens if you touch the altar twice" table entry I'd never though would come up.
4 xp base today, 5 xp for Bern for being a slugbeast. Vryce barely made enough to avoid a -2, actually. They'd deserved less except they relentlessly kept pushing to learn more, and left a treasure behind because they feel it's worth more as power. I figured, yeah, that's enough to justify base -1 for poor loot and nothing else.
And yes, the orcs are getting to be a real problem. But now they know there are hundreds of them. So now what? Maybe swim into the dungeons - no telling what level that comes out in to . . .