March 25th, 2018
Weather: Moderately cold, clear and sunny.
Aldwyn, human knight (254 points)
Hamilcar Barca, human wizard (255 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (351 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (379 points)
Red Raggi Ragnarsson, human berserker (?? points)
The group gathered in Stericksburg, gathering rumors and stocking up on potions, scrolls, gems of healing, and other assorted gear. They decided to head into the dungeon and down to the "apartment complex," also known as the bottom level of the giant staircase. For some reason, this took a long time to get done - we were in slow-motion when it came to game prep today.
They proceeded to the dungeon, Mo smacking the statue of Sterick in the face, Hamilcar spitting on it, possibly others doing so as well. It'll crack soon.
They climbed the walls of the castle and went down through the trapdoor in the fallen tower. They went straight to the second level, directly to the stairs down, and opened up the door and headed in and down. They made it to the bottom. Once again, they tried to figure out what's setting off the "click" they keep hearing. Mo probed ahead with a 10' pole with a lightstone suspended from it. Same thing - click, clunk of a door closing, nothing else. They're still unable to determine what's doing this.
From there they made a right and started moving towards the "colored door" area where they fought the golden swordsmen. On the way, though, they heard a scrape-scrape, scrape-scrape from ahead. They backed up and got ready. It turned out to be a big black pudding. It rushed them and attacked. Hamilcar tried to Fireball it but it was unharmed and flashed silvery when it was hit. Raggi, Mo, and Hjalmarr got around it and began to hack it up as it smashed into them. It took Mo down and shuffled on top of him. They eventually managed to hack it to death after inflicting many hundreds of points of basic damage to it. Puddings are tough.
They moved on and found the area they wished to explore. They started check the doors. They tried to open a blue one that wasn't locked but was stuck. They skipped that one and moved on. They searched a couple of other rooms, and re-found the room they'd looted when they defeated the golden swordsmen. They also found one with a yellow door. Mo tried to force it but it he felt a sharp pain and had to pull away. Hamilcar stepped up and casted Dispel Magic on the door - which then disappeared!
In its place were three one-yard pools of yellowish slime! The slime began to ooze towards the PCs - at Move 0.05. They backed off and Hamilcar put down a hex of Create Fire and backed it with Fast Fire. Mo threw down alchemist's fire. The slime just steadily moved through, impervious to fire - as usual. The PCs basically backed off, with Mo trying to lure the slime to chase him. The slimes just followed the closest group and then the largest group. Mo ran into the now-open room and Hjalmarr leaped over the slime and came to help. With the others backed off at a yard every 20 seconds to avoid the slime, they searched the room. All it held was a chain leading into a hole in the ceiling. Mo grabbed it by the end, backed off toward the door, and pulled. Whiiiiiffffftttt! Darts flew out into him and Hjalmarr - aimed at the doorway, not the chain-puller. The darts were armor-piercing and flaked with now-dry poison but were deflected or dodged.
The others explored another room full of cots. Nothing other than those were found.
The PCs lured the slime off a bit, and then quickly ran to a new area. The found a big door ("barn door sized") that wasn't locked and could be swung either direction. Mo briefly considered using Tracking but decided not the waste time, what with the slimes in slow but steady pursuit. They forced the door and moved in.
Inside was a farm-y smell, and two iron statues of gigantic bulls! They weren't statues, however, but huge metal-covered bulls. They rushed the PCs, who waited in the short hall that lead into the large room. Each of them moved up close and breathed a strange gas - which turned Raggi to stone and nearly petrified Mo! Hjalmarr was turned to stone a moment later, after slashing and wounding one of the bulls. Mo side-shuffled and smashed one of the bulls on the skull with a massive morningstar shot - and it bounced off harmlessly. A moment later it breathed again and he was stone. The bull tipped over his statue (revenge!) and moved on. Ike was furiously casting Stone to Flesh but it takes 5 seconds.
Aldwyn moved up and stuck one of the stone bulls - as they're called - and cut it badly, driving it Berserk! But moments later he was stone, too, as the other bull breathed on him.
The berserk bull charged toward Ike and Hamilcar, who tossed a Fireball only to have it explode harmlessly on the heavily-armored bull. He managed to cast another, larger Fireball - a 6d - but was gored by a stone bull and mortally wounded. He dropped the fireball harmlessly and fell unconscious, impaled on one of the horns and stuck on it.
The other stone bull rushed Ike, and knocked him over and trampled him just as he finished casting Stone to Flesh on Hjalmarr. He made with Will roll and his spell roll, and Hjalmarr was un-petrified. He was stunned, and it took a few seconds to become unstunned.
Meanwhile, the berserk stone bull attacked the nearest target - the other stone bull! They began to gore each other, with Hamilcar still stuck between them. This eventually drove the second bull berserk. Poor Ike was stuck in a corner, under the rear hooves of one of the bulls, getting trampled almost every second. Somehow, the damage rolls were low and we was able to stay alive on conscious. Hjalmarr turned, dropped Shieldslayer, drew another axe and hurled it, wounding one of the bulls. He snapped up Shieldslayer and began to advance. Then he stepped close and with two swift chops decapitated one of the bulls. The other tried to gore him but failed (actually I rolled - on a 1-2 breath, 3-6 gore. I rolled a 3. The players were surprised, as they believed that Berserk meant they couldn't use their breath weapon. Well, why not?)
Hjalmarr hacked the remaining bull to death.
They painfully turned everyone back to flesh, using the bulls as shields against the slimes - who moved in and started feasting (slowly) on the bulls. Hjalmarr cut one open looking for loot but didn't find any. Ike was able to heal everyone and restore the petrified but it took a lot of HP and thus healing potions and gems to restore him.
They crossed the slime-covered bulls by way of the stone feeding trough as a bridge. They moved further into unknown areas and found a couple of rooms, and then some caves. Eventually they realized they'd linked up the map.
Low on gear and time, they decided to check the blue door again then go home.
They used their Transparency potion on the door and saw some bedding and bones. So they forced the door open, finally, and went in. They found some furs linked together with metal staples, filled with cloth, and bones with split ends and tear marks ("Like a cat" said Aldwyn, who clearly owns some cats). They searched the bedding but didn't find anything.
They decided to check the blue rune they'd found a while back beyond the black door.
Hamilcar went in and checked . . . and disappeared, the rope they'd tied to him to haul him back empty on the floor.
Aldwyn and Hjalmarr debated following him. Mo made an impassioned argument not to (Actually, the player made it, but I counted it as in-game - it's better that way.) He pointed out the many traps, and how some of them were death traps. Eventually he won the day and they headed home. On the way, though, they took crossbow fire when they were close to the stairs. Hjalmarr took a bolt to the chest, was wounded and poisoned (as always.) They fled upstairs.
They decided to check the room the stone book teleported people to. They worked their way there, hearing voices and footsteps but avoiding any contact. The room was empty.
They headed home to drink to Hamilcar's memory.
Meanwhile, Hamilcar appeared in a cave smelling of ozone and sulfur. He was in some caves. He began to systematically wander around, and realized he was in the caverns were Sterick had been imprisoned (as described by his cousin, Ahenobarbus.) Hamilcar wandered for a couple of hours, repeated getting lost and turned around on himself and going in circles. He encountered rats, bats, and other ignorables, but also the gargoyles! They flew down to attack. He fled, yelling, "I'm a wizard, I'll explode you!" They hesitated just long enough for him to get away. He avoided them by hearing the rest of the time.
Several dead ends later, he found a pair of big double doors! He turned back. Then he found another, but a swarm of giant slice beetles rushed him. He put down Smoke to confuse them and fled.
He evaded them, and then realized he could go through the big doors. So he did. They opened easily, and the interior silver door was open. He found the floating casket for Sterick, and a bunch of sticks and cloth and whatnot in the bottom of the sphere, like something was making a nest.
He jumped down, climbed up the far side, and began to move into new territory.
He stumbled into the screaming fungus, and fled the other way - and a slime reached out for him! He needed a 10 to dodge - and a failure would flat-out kill him. He rolled a 10 on the nose.
He ran and then began to explore. From here, he made every decision correctly and unerringly found his way out. He turned and tossed a Fireball back into the caves in celebration.
He headed to town, and found the guys sitting around with Mo telling tales of Hamilcar's heroic demise. Many laughs were eventually had, presumably.
The players wanted to know why the monsters were called "Stone Bulls" if they're made out of metal. Why not "Metal Bulls" or "Iron Bulls"? Because they turn you to stone. Fire Slorn aren't made of fire, rust monsters aren't made of rust, and so on. Yeah, stone golems are made of stone, and flaming skulls are in fact flaming skulls. But I chose the "what it does" naming convention instead of "what it's made of" naming convention.
So this session could have ended 90 minutes earlier had the other PCs just decided to teleport, too. They would have had the maps, the firepower to deal with any wandering encounters, etc. As a GM, that was kind of annoying, since I was short on sleep for the weekend and hoping to catch up (I didn't.) I can understand why it happened the way it did, though.
The teleporter would have been both funnier and more unfortunate had it been encountered earlier. It's one of the teleporters the PCs heard about from the church. They're designed to stock the caverns around Sterick's tomb with monsters. Anything teleported in was bound to stay within the confines of the caverns and thus guard Sterick's tomb. With Sterick slain, the curse was lifted so Hamilcar wasn't stuck.
MVP was Hamilcar for his miraculous escape. He lost 1 HT permanently from being mortally wounded, so maybe that'll help a little.
XP was 1 each for new exploration (but less than 10+ new areas). It would have been -1 xp each for the guys with Sense of Duty, but they did make a concerted effort to check the place they thought he'd end up.