Friday, June 29, 2012

Westmist / Stonehell Session #7

Descending into the dungeon once more, our band again met with misfortune before penetrating too far toward their objective of exploring the southern part of the dungeon. Twice they were intercepted by giant crab spiders. The first encounter saw Erijay fall, but thankfully she eluded the hand of death and recovered after several weeks’ rest back in Westmist. The second encounter saw both Chanee and Warrick fall to the wicked venom of the arachnids, but alas, they were unable to cheat death and did not rise again.

After returning the bodies to town, Erijay, Turrick, and Rylee (a newly minted cleric of Habuu from the Temple of the Three Virtues), accompanied by a trio of war dogs, returned to Stonehell and successfully ran the spider gauntlet. Heading south and east, they were intercepted by a band of kobold and bugbear guards, who would not let them pass into the “Kobold Korners Marketplace” beyond until they forfeited their weapons. After much discussion, they decided to take their chances, and the band found themselves unarmed in an open bazaar of kobold merchants and craftsmen in the middle of the dungeon. Of note was the variety of creatures (gnolls, humans, bugbears) who rubbed shoulders with one another with no sign of conflict. Choosing to pass on the rat kebobs and foul ale, Rylee did have his fortune told by an old kobold soothsayer. From the old scaly one, they also learned that most of this section of the dungeon was occupied by the kobolds and little else. A little more window shopping, and a search of the junk merchants stall for the “Fickle Beaker”, then the adventurers chose to recover their weapons and see what was to be discovered to the west. 

They almost immediately ran into a band of orcs digging a new tunnel towards the old orc lair. More surprising, they were guarded by a handful of tall, grey skinned humanoids in fine armor, advancing in a tight military formation. Battle quickly ensured with these orcs and hobgoblins, who were quickly reinforced by more warriors. Although one of the war dogs fell to the deadly polearms of the hobgoblins, the tried and true combination of melee and magic felled the rest.  Looting the bodies and exploring the surrounding rooms gave a few coins but no clues as to the creature’s motives. 

Choosing to explore further unmapped areas, the band first headed back to the kobold area. Having been warned by the guards to not enter certain areas, Turrick satisfied his curiosity by poking around the kobold’s midden pit. Heading west again, a series of new rooms were explored including a throne room, burnt out temple and a few storerooms. Turrick stirred up a nest of giant centipedes in the throne room, and then proceeded to tempt fate by sitting on the throne (to no ill effect). In the temple, a band of berserkers and their fetid larder were encountered, and the crazed men added to the body count in the room.

Returning to town, the three settled down to planning their next expedition to the night haunted halls.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Westmist / Stonehell Session #6

Suitably rested and re-equip after a few days in Westmist, Ranthor the Dwarf, Erijay the Elf, Turrick the Halfling, and Warrick the Cleric, accompanied by Rothus the man-at-arms , once more entered the depths of Stonehell in search of the ‘red ooze’ requested by Sythini the Alchemist.  Based on intelligence previously received from the kobolds, they decided to head south into the largely unexplored area of the dungeon occupied by the “Open Sore” orc tribe. However, disaster soon struck, as they were caught in an orcish ambush before pressing too far into the dungeon. A rain of arrows, followed by a furious melee saw the dwarf Ranthor fall to the blows of the orcs and the others badly mauled. After slaying and beheading the orcs, the band retreated back to town to mourn their fallen comrade (whose body they forgot to recover) and heal up before heading back for vengeance and profit. While in town, they were able to recruit a lady magic user by the name Chanee to join the party.

Entering the dungeon again, the band had an uneventful journey to the area of the Open Sore lair. Exploring the first room, they encountered and eliminated an orcish guardpost. This seemed to have raised alarms, for while searching the room, they were quickly attacked by another band of orcs. Another furious melee ensued, which this time cost the man-at arms Rothus his life. Warily, the band began to advance deeper into the lair, only to encounter yet another band of orcs rushing to confront them. In a flurry of missile fire and hand to hand combat, Warrick fell, but had his wounds quickly bound such that he survived, weak but alive.  At this point, Erijay cast her characteristic orc-eliminating sleep spell to keep from being overwhelmed. Now short two men and spells, they wisely choose to return to Westmist to nurse Warrick back to health and hire more men at arms.

After waiting two weeks for Warrick to recover, the band hired three new men at arms (Buris, Dermore, and Corgos) and made yet another foray into the darkness.   Reaching the orc lair again, they now found all the rooms eerily empty, showing signs of having recently been hastily vacated. With nothing obvious to keep them there, the adventurers choose to continue the search for the ooze, this time heading south. Entering a hexagonal chamber decorated with woodland scenes, they encountered a young girl sitting on the floor, her head down and long hair covering her face. Turrick approached and attempted to engage her in conversation. The girl did not speak, write or otherwise communicate except to shake her head. Then suddenly, before Turrick could react, she jumped up and ran to the south.  Hastily, the band headed in pursuit, which was interrupted when Dermore triggered a pit trap and fell to his death.  Stopping only momentarily to ensure Dermore was beyond help, they pressed forward into two successive octagonal chambers, one with a mountain motif and the other with a pastoral theme. Here they halted, found no sign of the girl who had easily outdistanced them, but likewise no sign of where she had gone. All exits from the room were blocked by heavy iron portcullis. While searching the room for another exit, sounds of fighting were heard beyond the east portcullis, which gradually died off as they looked for some mechanism to open it. Finally, Erijay relied on brute elven strength to open the gate, which was then barred open with iron spikes. Beyond was a large room, occupied by a number of mauled kobold bodies. Further east was another room with signs of heavy traffic and smells of cooking. 

Rather than go too far off track, the band backtracked to the mountain-themed octagonal room and once again Erijay opened the eastern portcullis. Finding more rooms, they encountered a band of goblins, the first such creatures meet in Stonehell.  Choosing diplomacy over force this time, Erijay engaged them in conversation. While wary at first, the goblins quickly realized Erijay was the great “Elf Witch” who had been instrumental in eliminating their hated orcish foes! The goblins and orcs had been in a turf war in this part of the dungeon, and the band of adventurers had more or less eliminated to orcs, letting the goblins come out on top in the contest.  The few remaining orcs had vacated the area some days before. On Channee’s request and in gratitude, the goblins  led them to the cave with the red ooze. 

Turrick, Chanee and Erijay began to collect the valuable fluid, while Warrick and the remaining men-at-arms stood watch over the cave entrances. The collection process was quite slow, and minutes dragged to hours as they worked. The band was thrice interrupted, once by a harmless flock of bats, and once by a band of bezerkers who were easily dispatched but with the loss of one more man-at-arms, this time Corgos.  The third encounter was most dire of all, as a flock of stirges attacked and the creatures were able to latch on and start to drink the blood of almost everyone. The situation was grim and a total party kill likely, but Erijay had luckily been unharmed in the attack, and used her sleep scroll to save the day. Contemptuous of the danger and determined to finish their task, the band filled all their collection vials and headed out of the dungeon as quickly as possible. They made it as far as the spiral staircase leading to the surface, only to have their way blocked again by bezerkers. A quick fight ensured, and the bezerkers slain, but not before the final man-at-arms Buris fell to their clubs. 

Back in town, the band sold the collected ooze to Sythini for the princely sum of 1200gp. Finally flush with cash, most upgraded amour, weapons and supplies in anticipation of another expedition into Stonehell.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Westmist / Stonehell Session #5

After a few days rest, Turrick and Ranthor returned to explore Stonehell once more, this time without the elf Erijay who was too deep in study of arcane lore to be disturbed at this time. Warrick, however, choose to again join the band. Ranthor, meanwhile, put some of his recently plundered gold to use by hiring a pair of men at arms, Ulog and Rothus. Thus fully assembled, the group trekked to the dungeon entrance and headed below.

First stop was the pair of carved stone doors noted during their last visit. They were locked, and several attempts by Turrick and Ranthor to break them down proved unsuccessful. The group then headed  to the west to search beyond the room in which they fought the centipedes and orcs last time. To nobody's surprise, the orc's bodies were no longer  to be seen. Turning left, they first encountered a room with the statue of a large bipedal lizard with 4 arms and a horn on his snout. In front sat a large bowl holding hundreds of silver coins.  Sensing a trap, Ranthor carefully scouted around the statute. Turrick instead choose to boldly begin scooping the coins into a sack. This brought on a loud rumble and part of the roof caved in on the unfortunate halfling, who none the less emerged, battered and dusty, but several hundred silver pieces richer.

Leaving the lizard statue behind, they quickly checked out a room with a small cistern, and then headed back through the centipede room and along the long corridor that lead in the opposite direction.  Finding a small storeroom, they rifled around for a bit and uncovered a usable 10' ladder and a hammer with spikes. While the other searched, Ulog (who had been left on guard at the door) whispered a warning that footsteps were approaching. The band quietly prepared an ambush in the room. Crossbows were at the ready, and only a timely call of "Warrick, my brother in Habuu!" saved the newcomers from the bolts. They proved to be another band exploring the dungeon, lead by a pair of clerics from the Temple in town, who had been spurred to explore by the tales told by Warrick.  Comparing notes, our band learned that the area to the far east was a vast collection of crypts with more than a few undead.

After the newcomers had left, the band decided to try the locked doors again. Calling on the power of his god (and using  a good crowbar), Warrick this time broke the lock and pushed the door open. On the other side was a short corridor with doors every ten feet. Checking the first door uncovered a burial crypt with tiers of bodies wrapped in grave clothes. Feeling brave,  Ranthor kept checking doors until his luck ran out. Opening a door, several of the corpses came to life and attacked.  A flurry of crossbow bolts from Ranthor and Ulog, and Warrick channeling the power of Habuu to turn the vile zombies, and in short order the dead fell dead again. In other rooms,  skeletons and then a ghoul were dealt with in the same manner, with assistance from Turrick and his spears,  and a small amount of treasure recovered (a potion vial and a gold armband). A particular surprise was the performance of Ulog, who proved a deadly shot with the crossbow and accounted for a large proportion of the kills. However, the last room checked contained a much larger group of skeletons, and the band choose to not stand toe to toe with them. While Warrick used the power of Habuu to hold the skeletons back, the rest used their newly acquired hammer and spikes to wedge the door shut and bar the skeletons back in this tomb.

Speaking of Turrick, while Ranthor and the others had started exploring the crypts, he had headed straight for the door at the end of the hall. Opening it, he uncovered a room with an alter made of human bones on which sat a huge grinning stone skull. Even the impetuous halfling knew better than to disturb this, and hearing his fellow explorers locked in combat, he wisely turned and left the room after only a rudimentary examination.

Finished with the crypts, the band backtracked past the storage room again, following a long straight corridor. As they stared to wonder where they were headed, disaster struck. The floor gave way below Ulog, and the man-at-arms plunged to his death below. The party briefly grieved for their lost comrade, and then Turrick was quickly lowered on a rope to recover Ulog's deadly crossbow to see how it worked in the hands of Rothus.

Finally reaching the end of the corridor, the group encountered a room carved with large human heads with gaping mouths around the walls. Ranthor, once more cautious, dropped to the floor and crawled over to one mouth to make sure it was not a trap. Finding nothing but carved stone, he stood and motioned the rest into the room. They then noted a pool of muddy water and a corridor to the south. The water proved shallow, and following the corridor the band found themselves back in the "Dragons Den" which they had explored on their last trip. However, no one recalled this corridor being here before.  Encountering a band of kobolds in the room , they questioned the creatures about the corridor. The kobolds could say only that strange things can happen in Stonehell, that corridors and rooms sometimes appear and disappear for no reason.

Still puzzled, they retraced their steps and continued exploring, entering another room with stone faces. Boldly striding in this time, Ranthor stepped on a pressure plate in the floor, which released a hail of darts from the carved mouths. Ranthor luckily escaped injury, so the group moved on and found themselves back in  an area of the dungeon already explored, near the corpse room. Deciding to visit that room, it was again noted a new corridor had appear, this time connecting the corpse room  with the room holding the talking stone head. Turrick and Ranthor, having heard Erijay's story of the talking head, but having never seen it, entered and proceeded converse with the strange cranium. Once again, three questions were asked and answered. Turrick first asked the head why it spoke, and it replied it had been enchanted by "The Plated Mage". Ranthor then took over questioning, and in answer to his inquiries was told the potion he had found was poison and the Fickle Beaker was nowhere to be found in Stonehell. At that, the head settled back into silence.

The day now getting late, the band recovered Ulog's body and headed back to Westmist. First leaving the man-at-arms remains with his grieving fiancĂ©,  Ranthor then visited Sythini the Alchemist to have her identify his potion, which proved to be a Potion of Mammal Control.  Turrick meanwhile cashed in the armband and updated his kit, then got rid of some excess gear he couldn't sell by giving a backpack and miners pick to a beggar.

One last item of note. While relaxing at the inn after their expedition, Ranthor and Turrick heard stories from the town watchmen about boats slipping under the bridge over the Valen River at night. These boats have not been responding to the hailing of the guards, all of which seemed very strange to the men on watch.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New House Rule - Parrying

I meant to add this house rule right at the start, but forgot all about it. But here it is now; a little extra protection for you if you're stuck in combat and really need to stop those blows from hitting
Parrying: When in melee, a character may choose to parry their opponent’s blows instead of attacking. This gives a -2 bonus to AC for that round 
I promise, no more house rules for awhile.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Westmist/Stonehell Session #4

Before heading back to Stonehell, a number of events unfolded in town for the band of adventurers. First, Turrick was summoned by Sythini the Alchemist. She proposed a business deal with the halfling, in which she would pay good gold for couple of items from the dungeon, namely a strange red ooze and an item called the “Fickle Beaker”. Still hard up for cash, Turrick quickly agreed to do his best.  

Meantime, Erijay studied her recently acquired tome and discovered it to be the spell book of a long lost wizard, thereby gaining a number of new enchantments for her own spell book. She also found herself summoned before the March Baron, Lord Merdwyn of Breven, who expressed great interest in her recently acquired axe. It was in fact the axe of the last March Baron, Durgan the Bold, who was lost some years before searching the depths of Stonehell. After first ensuring the elf maid was in no way making claim to his title, the March Baron offered a princely sum of 2000gp for the weapon, which Erijay politely declined before being summarily evicted from the Baron’s presence. A visit to Sythini revealed that the axe was in fact a weapon of some enchantment, which made the elf even more inclined to keep it than before. 

 Lastly, Turrick and Erijay were joined by a pair of new companions. Ranthor the Dwarf was looking for companionship in his search for treasures in the dungeon. Warrick the Wrathful, on the other hand, was a new acolyte at the Temple of the Three Virtues, sent in belated response to Gudrins’ request for clerical support in their explorations. Gudrin himself, being too deep in his mugs to journey forth again, remained in Westmist while the others set forth once again to try their luck in the depths.

After initially revisiting some rooms looking for the “red ooze”, the quartet choose to head west through a portcullis to look for the caverns in which the ooze was said to lie. Their first stop found them in front of a great wheel marked with alternating happy and sad faces. Both Turrick and Warrick choose to try their luck and took turns spinning the wheel. Turrick gained a sense of great luck and invulnerability for a time, while Warrick ended up feeling healthier than ever. Ranthor and Erijay choose not to temp the fates. Leaving the wheel behind, the band surprised a huge gecko, which was quickly dispatched before landing a blow on any of the party. 

After examining a dry fountain with a fish motif, the band stumbled into an area of natural caverns. Hoping that they found the source of the “red ooze”, they headed into a cave of phosphorescent moss, followed by a smaller cave with a dry well in the centre. Air whistled up from below, and Turrick was tied to a rope and lowered down to find himself on a lower level of the dungeon, and standing on a tarp suspended under the well opening.  Gathering up the few coins on the tarp, Turrick was then hoisted back to report to the rest of his companions. Opting to continue their searches on this level for the time being, they soon encountered a cave full of bats and a group of kobolds gathering bat guano. Making friendly conversation, the quartet learned a few key things. First, the red ooze was to be found further south near the Open Sore orc tribe and Wolf Rider goblin tribe. Second, they learned Erijay had acquired a reputation as an orc slayer among the inhabitants of the dungeon. Third, ‘Da Dragon’ was nowhere to be seen today.

Thus emboldened, the band pushed on into another cave full of bones and filth. Searching revealed a pool of muddy water on the north side, as well as a finely crafted circlet (claimed by Ranthor) and a small quantity of copper coins. And no dragon.

Having completed their exploration of the caves, the group moved further west to check out a room with giant centipedes noted earlier.  Just as they started to engage the vile insects, a band of orcs entered the room from the other side. Spying Erijay, and with a shout of “there’s the she elf!”, they moved to attack. Fortunately, Erijay was once again able to take out the orc warband (and the centipedes) with a well timed sleep spell, which once more led to a course of throat slitting and looting.

While still in good shape, the quartet elected to head back to town to rest and refit, and spend some of the treasure they had recovered in the dungeon. Warrick was paid off and returned to the Temple, while the others rented rooms at the Golden Drake to await the chance for another foray into the dungeon.      

Monday, June 4, 2012

New House Rule - Deaths Door at 0HP

Deaths Door at 0HP:   When someone falls to 0hp or less, they get to make a save vs poison/death. Fail the save and you die. Make the save, and you live one more round. Continue making a save each round until you fail one and go to meet your makers, or until someone takes time to stabilize you (1d3 rounds to bind wounds, 1 round to cast Cure Light Wounds or force a Potion of Healing down your throat, etc). After that you’ll make it, but need to recover as if you've just been brought back by a Raise Dead spell (1HP, 50% of movement and suffers from chronic weakness for 2 weeks; no spell casting, combat, or any other strenuous activity).

Adventuring at 1st level can be pretty deadly; this is just one more tweak to help make survival slightly easier.