Date: June 24th, 2018
Weather: Very warm, partly cloudy.
Alaric, human scout (262 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (250 points)
Hayden the Unnamed, human knight (277 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (341 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Jasper, human swashbuckler (250 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)
We started in town, gathering rumors and buying potions. All went pretty smoothly and very quickly, all things considered. Brother Ike tried to make holy Continual Light stones, but the Good God was clearly not happy with Mr. Hjalmarr, and punished him by taking the spell away from Ike for a while (he rolled an 18.) Gwynneth stepped up and made some.
The group headed right off to Felltower Castle, passing the headless statue of Sterick unmolested - none of the usual vandals were with the group, and Hjalmarr no longer even shakes his axe at the statue.
They climbed the castle easily enough, with Gwynneth lowering a rope after using Levitate. They climbed down the trapdoor entrance, and worked their way to the bottom of the giant staircase with no difficulty.
From there, they headed right for the giant orichalcum doors they'd previously discovered, since Jasper insisted the key they'd just found must be for those doors he'd heard them discuss.
They made it there pretty easily, and didn't hear a click or anything of the sort. No traps on the stairs, either. They did hear some distant scraping noises, but disregarded them. They found one of the black hemispheres they'd shattered was now fully intact. So the scouts shot it apart from a distance. After that, they made it to the big doors.
The doors are maybe 18' tall and 9'+ wide each, made of orichalcum, and covered with pictographs of birds, animals, fish, and weird symbols and squiggles connecting them all. Someone had painted a white triangle across the midpoint of the doors around arm level for a normal person. Hayden identified the pictographs as being from a lost civilization in the western deserts near Sham.
They began to search them for a keyhole. None was obvious. Hjlamarr took the key and touched it to the doors.
"That's not how keys work" pointed out Vryce helpfully, as the doors failed to open at the touch.
Alaric began to search the doors for a keyhole, inside the various symbols and so on. Naturally they started with the ones inside the triangle but there was nothing noticed there. As they waited, though, they began to hear a drag-stomp, drag-stomp muffled by doors. They immediately hightailed it out of there.
They headed to the trapped corridor. They found the traps they'd so frequently faced had been dismantled and removed, all except for the pressure plate. They avoided that and headed straight ahead. They soon found the corridor ended in caves, and head that drag-stomp, drag-stomp. Uh-oh, it was merely the "back way' to the Lord of Spite's caves. They retreated back and went around to the baffled hallway and toward the gnome's room. They found that the doorway nearest to the gnome's door was trapped with a tripwire leading to a covered tube around head level. "A tube of rot grubs!" suggested Galen, which upset Hjalmarr a lot. That set Hayden off talking about his buddy Quenton's rot grub launching blowpipe, which didn't make Hjalmarr any happier.
They continued on past Phase Snake Junction and past it, despite Jasper's urging that they go to the golems. He said, "I just want to hit something!"
From there they briefly checked on the "prison" and saw it was still there. They moved on. "That area is dead to us" said Hjalmarr, or something to that effect.
From there they found a new corridor they hadn't taken, and headed that way. They found a T intersection and heard scraping and hissing from the left, and smelled a musky odor. Maybe snakes or lizards? They formed up and headed that way, since anything in that direction was clearly stirring.
They moved down the hallway with the heaviest fighters in the lead, and Jasper impatiently moving up in the rear. They came to the corner of a room with a pair of pillars (a gate?) and two hissing eight-legged lizards.
They shot their death gazes at Hjalmarr and Hayden, who both resisted and took some injury (2 and 5, respectively, if I recall correctly.) The PCs charged. They couldn't reach either on the first move, and Vryce and Hjalmarr took death gazes and again resisted, taking some injury but not the drop straight to near-death that basilisks are infamous for. Galen shot two arrows at one's eyes, missing one and hitting with the other, but the nearsighted basilisk managed to see the arrow in time and dodged! Alaric moved up and shot the same one twice and injured it badly. Jaspar ran up, just short of the basilisks. But even as they death-gazed the PCs, Hjalmarr closed in and chopped the wounded basilisk in the neck twice, with each blow being serious enough to probably kill it. It dropped, dead. Vryce sliced in the other apart with two serious blows (one did 32 damage, and his poorer one in the low 20s) and it died. Jasper was inconsolable, he didn't get to hit anything. The group tried to tell him that they couldn't spare even a split second, as the basilisks could kill them far too easily.
They searched the room, which thanks to a mispronunciation by Hjalmarr, is now called the Basilika. They found two unhatched basilisk eggs, and one with a split in it. Ike, meanwhile, was tasked with cutting out the valuable eyes. He managed to remove 3 of the 4, and they packed them in a cut up sack in the bottom of an empty quiver. The unhatched eggs they wrapped in Alaric's owlbear pelt cloak and put it in Vryce's backpack. They debated about what to do with the other. Hatch it? Keep it? Destroy it? Leave it alone? Hjalmarr really wanted to keep it. Someone argued it would bond with them when it was born, and they'd have a basilisk. Wiser heads prevailed and Hjalmarr reluctantly sliced it in half, finding after that he'd killed a nearly-hatched infant basilisk.
From there they examined the columns but whatever gate was there, was dead.
They found another nearby corridor and moved down it. Along the walls, increasing in numbers as they headed down it, were sigils, runes, and symbols of all kinds. Gwynneth said they weren't hazardous. By the end of the corridor, the walls and ceiling were covered with them. They clearly denoted strong magical power and affinity with water. Gwynneth detected the area was strong aspected pro-Water college spells and against Fire college spells.
Ahead of them was a "landing" in a water-filled cave. The land was just damp/wet cave floor that trailed off into water. The water was cobalt blue. They decided this was clearly "the water gate" since they'd found the air gate. They backed off without much exploration or examination.
The area they were in had no other ways out, so they moved on.
They eventually found themselves in an area they thought looked familiar on their map. So they spent about 20-30 minutes neatening up the map. Luckily for them nothing turned up to try and eat them.
They moved into some nearby caves, certain it was near the sinkhole they'd found a while back.
They took a tunnel they'd avoided before, and down a slippery slope to a damp room where they heard water dripping. In it was a small pool and a larger pool. Again, they decided to back off as they had nothing like Breath Water to explore with. But Jasper wanted to find out how deep the pools were. So he rushed in and dipped his staff into the smaller pool. It went all the way down without touching bottom! He moved to the next one and stuck in his staff. As his hands reached the water, a watery hand reached out and touched him! He felt momentarily paralyzed but snapped out of it in an instant. He stood, swept his staff up out of the water and around and hit the hand - he swung three times but the first splashed the watery hand into droplets. A moment later three beautiful watery forms rose from the pool - water nymphs!
The party turned to run, and Hjalmarr yelled at Jasper to run. He backed off so he could keep hitting the nymphs. One tried to reach him and he parried aside the hand and splashed it away. One of them, however, cast a spell on him. He resisted, thanks to Luck, despite his average Will. He started to run. Hjalmarr had been close behind. As Jasper ran she tried again, and he resisted. The nymphs turned on Hjalmarr in a moment, and cast on him. Hjalmarr resisted, thanks to Luck. A second later, though, he failed, and was charmed! He began to head toward the nymphs. Jasper dropped his staff and grabbed at Hjlamarr, and put 6 CP on him - his maximum. Hjlamarr tried to tear away from his grip and march away, but despite the odds (ST 13 vs. ST 18) Jasper handily kept him from moving! He did so again a second later, all the while resisting another Charm. Vryce grabbed Hjalmarr for another 10 CP, and he also resisted a Charm, barely (despite his Will 16.) With both holding Hjalmarr, they dragged him away.
As this was happening, Galen ran up and took two shots through the crowd at the main nymph. He hit her once, to no real effect . . . but missed the other because he slammed an arrow into Gwynneth, who was partially blocking his aim. Oops. He rolled maximum damage and Gwynneth dropped, barely making a death check. He sighed, stopped and grabbed her, and dragged him away.
They made it to safety and then Gwynneth snuck up closer and used Apportation to retrieve Jasper's staff from where he dropped it to grab Hjalmarr.
They sat on Hjalmarr and tried to figure out how to help him. No one knew Remove Curse or Dispel Magic. No one had an Alchemical Antidote, and it wasn't clear it would help (it wouldn't have.) So they tried slapping some sense into Hjalmarr. Hayden took off Hjalmarr's helmet as Hjalmarr said the nymphs were friendly, and had treasure and "other things" they wanted to share with him. Hayden slapped him. "I'll pull it to 1d" said his player. 6. BAM. Hard enough that it would have been a major wound on a normal person. It didn't work. He balled up a fist to "help" further. Ike used Command to Sleep, but that didn't work as it's an impossible command.
In the end, though, they decided to choke him out so they could put an unresisted Healing Slumber on him, and did so. They tied him up in any case, and made a litter out of a cloak - no one ever explained whose cloak - and two staves. Hayden and Jasper carried him.
They went and rested for a bit, but still Hjalmarr was still charmed. So Hayden choked him out against and they repeated the process. Down effectively three fighters, they had to be careful. No Dispel Magic meant they couldn't solve this problem in the dungeon, unless the charm timed out on its own. It became clear it would not.
They explored after this, finding a few more areas:
- the sinkhole.
- a set of windy, possibly natural stairs down a short distance. At the end of that was a cave, and there was a natural-seeming pair of columns embedded in the upper-right wall with a shimmering between them. Another gate! "Earth gate," they decided.
- they found the narrow passage that had frustrated them in the past, and Jasper suggested Shape Earth to widen it. They did so.
Beyond that, they found a nook with a skull in it, with a dagger rammed into the crown. They backed up a bit, carefully looking it over. Detect Magic revealed the dagger was not magical. So what was up here? Should they take it for Gerry to question?
Jasper strode forward and grabbed the skull.
And set off the deadfall rockfall trap. Stones crashed down on him. He blew his Per roll, and took 26 damage - he used Luck to re-roll that, and got it down to 22, half to his torso and half to his skull. Thanks to some solid skull DR (6) he wasn't killed outright, but was forced to make a death check. He passed that, but failed the KO roll. He dropped under a pile of rocks. They dug him out, and were relieved to find him still alive. Ike went to work. His skull - like the one he'd tried to retrieve - was broken. But a series of healing spells, First Aid, and a touch from the Staff of Healing brought Jasper back to full. But as they rested and healed, a sharp and acrid - yet faint - odor was detected. Several of the PCs took some FP loss from their long-term pile. They felt uneasy.
They moved back and headed back the way they came. They eventually decided on a shortcut, gambling that their map was right and they were close to the exit. They were, and found their way to the octagonal room by the other door. From there they headed to the stairs. They spent about 20 minutes debating going to explore elsewhere, but then decided on just heading home. They did so, stopped at the secret room with the red hand so Gwynneth could touch it.
They made it back safely to town, and got 580 sp for the two eggs and three eyes. They divided it up amongst everyone but Vryce.
Spending XP by email actually sped things up a lot. We'll keep doing that.
We had an interesting test of an aspect of Douglas Cole's grappling rules for his new Kickstarter. I'd made my own set of simplified grappling rules off of Doug's Technical Grappling, in collaboration with Doug. But we tried his mostly straight-up and sent along our comments. We really liked one aspect of the rules, and liked the concept behind one of them but the execution left us with questions I sent along to Doug. Hopefully it'll help make our game and his supplement better for having tried them.
I love my version of the basilisk, shown off in DFM3, and I love what it became after Sean Punch weighed in on it and then Christopher Rice suggested upgunning it. They are scary, and even against high-HT PCs it's only a matter of time. The PCs did well to make it a race and stamp on Jasper's player's desire to get some blows in. One extra turn would have been extra damage, and who knows, maybe a PC without Luck would have blown a roll or two and died outright. You can't risk that.
MVP for the session was Hayden. Jasper's player furiously lobbied for himself for all of the truly amazing rolls he made. But he made them all after doing things that stirred up trouble that derailed the ability of the group to explore, so eventually they decided that cancelled out. Hayden's amusing 6 injury slap to Hjlamarr and then choking him out twice so he couldn't resist Healing Slumber was pretty funny, and that got him MVP. Everyone got 1 xp for exploration, and either 2 xp for loot or 0 (Vryce only.)
Fun session, but it was kind of sad that a lasting charm power derailed it. But they did choose to go into the dungeon without any ability to counter hostile spells of the sort. They probably won't do that again. For want of Dispel Magic, much exploration and risk-taking had to be severely curtailed.