Friday, November 30, 2012

Westmist Session #26 - Snakes and Treasures

With Kern and Riley now recovered from their demises, the party turned their attention to hunting down the treasure of the Cult of Yg.  Asking around town and temple, they didn’t learn much more about the Cult or the “Breeding Pits of Yg” mentioned in the book. They did locate a pair of good ole boy giant toad hunters, Seth and Jongo, who knew where to find the hidden fane. They agreed to lead the party there for a suitable fee.  So Kern (with henchmen Norm and Cal, and Sweet Jenny the mule), Erijay (with dog Foxy), Riley, and Darnoth headed out to grub for treasure once more.

After an uneventful trip downriver in Kern’s folding boat, and a short march overland, Seth and Jongo dumped the party on a low hill and pointed them towards the small mist shrouded valley below. “Ya’ll find what you’re looking for down there. We ain’t going no further”. And at that they headed back to their own boat and left the party thankful that Riley had thought to mark their trail on the way in. So into the valley they descended, soon coming to a worn path of hexagonal snake inscribed tiles, which ended at a squat structure of cyclopean blocks with a pair of massive stone doors. The lintel over the door, supported by two columns carved as giant snakes, was inscribed “for he who slithers”. Carved on each door was a coiled snake. It would seem this was the right place.

Opening the massive portals, the party passed into the nave, stopping briefly to examine an old fountain before pressing forward through the pews and into the crossing. Here they found a cobra statue with mouth open wide. When Darnorth looked inside, he spied to gilt of gold. Suspecting a trap, Riley’s solution was to bash off the head of the statue to access to treasure inside. A good idea, as the mouth was found to be spring loaded and razor sharp when examined by Kern. Once the party had scooped up the gold and platinum coins, they entered the nave and found a well, behind which stood an altar. Beyond in the semidarkness could be seen a statue.  From the well came reptilian odors of rot and decay, as well as a cacophony of hissing. By probing with rope and poles, the party found the well was at least 50’ deep and was wet at the bottom. On the altar was a silver cloth, embroidered with coiled snakes. Carved on front of the altar was a triptych of three different snake creatures. These were a great snake like creature with catfish-like tentacles around its face; another snake with the head of a man, and the third a humanoid with the head of a cobra and tentacles or snakes tails in place of the lower body. Moving deeper into the nave, they found a massive 20’ tall statue of the man-serpent seen on the altar. Darnorth, using his boots of levitation, floated up to examine the statue and discovered two dark gems for eyes. Pausing briefly to consider the wisdom of removing them, greed soon overcame caution and he plucked them from the statues head with no apparent ill effect.

Having examined the fane from north to south, the party next moved east to examine one of the transepts. Here in the unnatural cold and darkness, they found a stone alter, on which sat a small statue of the great snake creature. This creature was crushing bodies in its coils and others hung from its maw. Checking the west transept, a similar alter was found, this one with a statue of the snake-humanoid. In front stood a stone stand and bowl, filled with a viscous black liquid. Erijay cautiously prodded this with her 10’ pole, at which point the liquid rose from the bowl and lashed out at the elf with a pseudopod-like limb. The rest of the party rushed in with weapons swinging to help the elf, only to find their blows did nothing more then split the creature into smaller versions that continued to attack. Kern and his henchmen started running back and forth to pull more flasks off Sweet Jenny, which were then rushed them forward to the front line to hurl at the creatures. These were eventually defeated by this judicious use of oil and torches. 

After briefly checking around the altar for secret doors and compartments, the party opened a door passed earlier in the nave and found a set of stairs heading down. The odor of rot, decay and reptile was getting stronger here. Exploring the first few rooms, they found robes woven in a snake scale pattern similar to that found on the prayer mats in Stonehell. In the same rooms were some boxes of sickly looking green incense, oddly shaped musical horns, and a shelf of decaying books detailing the rituals of the Cult of Yg.  In one book, Erijay found reference to an item called the Cobra Codex. This tome gave the wielder power over serpents, and it seemed to be located somewhere in the old temples of Yg in Stonehell. Likewise, Darnorth recovered a small ebony tablet, inscribed in red with a series of short prayers of epitaphs to Yg.   

Moving on, the party explored a few monastic cells before entering a room that showed frescos of strange half man – half snake creatures wrapping bodies in linens, and then carrying them through a door. Looking around the room, they realized the door pictured in the frescos was on the opposite wall, bared shut on their side by a massive wooden beam. With great boldness, Kern had his henchmen lift the bar out of the brackets, and the door was opened. Inside, the smell of decay was mixed with that of spice. Along all the walls were small fired clay plaques, carved with an ouroboros. They did not have long to look, however, as two of the plaques were pushed to the floor and a pair of frightful mummies emerged to attack the party.  In the fight than ensued, the party dealt quickly with the undead, but both Erijay and Riley felt the chilling touch of the creatures from beyond the grave. Riley in fact found himself with some horrid rotting disease which resisted all his clerical skill at healing. None the less, he bravely chose to push on with the exploration. First order was to search the rest of the niches, but no undead or treasures were uncovered. After next examining some sort of ruined lounge, the party found themselves in front of a pair of massive locked bronze doors covered in verdigris. Listening carefully, Kern could hear hissing on the other side.  Hoping to avoid further poisonings, Erijay suggested a course of flaming oil under the door, a plan quickly endorsed and put into action. Once the flames had died down and doors cooled, Kern tried his luck at the lock. Alas, it was beyond his skill, and instead Erijay used here newly learned knock spell to open the portal.

On the other side, the short (and now fire blackened) corridor ended in a portcullis. Beyond could be seen a large cavern. Most of the cavern was filled with a pool of water, with a rocky islet in the middle. All of it was covered in snakes, hundreds of them, including at least two giant marsh snakes. Overhead could be seen the opening of the well in the nave. Not keen on crossing through the slithering masses before the, they party first tried a combination of an unholy symbol of Yg, prayers and incense to control the serpents. When this proved futile, Darnorth instead used his boots to levitate to the top of the cavern. Pulling himself along the roof, the dwarf found several side caverns.  These contained more snakes, and one had an odd statue of a rat. One side exit, the largest, was unusual in that the filth and debris found everywhere else appeared to be missing from here. The dwarf entered here carefully, slowly proceeding deeper until forced to pass through a relatively narrow opening. On the other side, he was confronted by a creature that looked like the great statue in the nave above; a huge serpent with the head of a man, sitting on a mound of bone, filt and glittering treasure. The creature uncoiled and rose up so its unblinking gaze met that of the dwarf. Darnorth, shaking off a powerful urge to stay, turned and fled back to meet the rest of the group as fast as his arms could drag him. But not before the abomination took a bite out of the dwarfs behind.

Nervous about confronting all these scaly foes at this point, the party elected to return to Westmist to rest, refit and plan. And to have the rot on Riley’s arm looked after.  After quickly dealing with a wandering band of lizardfolk, they unfolded the boat and embarked to head back to town. There, Riley had the mummy’s curse removed at the temple while everyone else started to prepare for their return to the Breeding Pits of Yg.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Westmist Session #25 - What the Heck Was That All About?

While Riley lay in bed recovering, Kern and Erijay decided to delve once more into Stonehell to try their luck. This time they were joined by the burly fighter Edward, and Kern also picked up a pair of henchmen fighters, Cal and Norm. And, of course, Foxy the dog and Sweet Jenny the mule were there to round out the party. After some debate, they chose to revisit the areas west of the hobgoblin and lizardfolk lairs, where they first entered the second level of Stonehell so long ago.

First stop was a room full of hooting higher baboons. Seeing nothing of interested in the filth and feces , they left  the primates to fight over whatever meal they had before them. Moving on, Kern triggered a spear trap as they approached a four way intersection, which luckily both he and Erijay were able to dodge. At the intersection, Kern scouted ahead and observed a light to the west. Going that way, the party first passed below a dry well from the upper level, which proved to be the location Turrick had been lowered down many moons ago. After cutting down the suspended tarp and collecting the handful of coppers on it, the party moved forward and entered a room where a dozen men and women, dressed in ragged clothes and equip with a mad selection of cast off armor and weapons, awaited them. These were not at all acting normally, talking to themselves and imaginary others, staring in a catatonic state and other odd behaviors. Kern was able to convince them to let the party pass in return for a handful of copper pieces, and the party moved down a corridor running north. Here they found a room with frescos of sunlit fields and pastoral scenes painted on the walls, with a small sack sitting in the dust in one corner. After much poking around, Kern eventually recovered the bag only to find it contained nothing but a selection of fingers. Disgusted, he dropped it all to the floor, but Edward thought to check the fingers again and at least recovered a nice gold ring for their trouble. At this point Cal, who had been watching their backs, called out that a small girl was standing in the corridor, just at the edge of his torchlight. They tried talking to her, and when Erijay came to investigate, she identified the girl as the one Turrick had scarred away on the upper level so long ago. The girl still would not speak, only shake or nod her head, and when they tried to approach her, ran away again. 

Rather than chase her back towards the other creepy people, the party moved on to new areas. Encountering more strange sights along the way (the return and departure again of the little girl, an overturned hobby horse, a room with an intricate labyrinth painted on the floor, a basket weaving room, and some sort of a therapy circle), they met their first big challenge when a pack of blood thirsty ghouls trapped them in the end of a corridor. With the party unable to deploy properly in the tight quarters, Erijay and Edward hard to face the full pack. Erijay was able to stand up against them with little to fear thanks  to her elven immunity, but Edward was soon hit and paralyzed.  While Kern and henchmen tried to fight back with a barrage of oil, Erijay decided to use her ward from undead scroll to hold the foul creatures back, and then cast a web to entangle all but one. The web and ghouls were then burned, which convinced the last ghoul to go looking for easier prey.

Pressing on, the party found a room with a pair of pools and a boiler for heating water. In one pool was found the parboiled remains of an elf dressed in armor and adventuring gear. Cautiously, Erijay stuck one finger in the murky water, which immediately boiled up to scald her.  Still determined to reach the body, she teamed up with the burly Edward to lever the body out using a pair of 10 foot poles. Searching the body uncovered some silver coins and a wand (which was later found to be a wand of magic detection). Leaving the pools behind, they next stopped at a door, on the other side of which Kern could here sounds of faint movement some overhead. Suspecting spiders, they decided to pour oil under the door and then light it on fire. After listening to the screams of some roasting creature, they waited for the door to cool and Kern then Edward opened the door while Kern cautiously peered in. He was not cautious enough, however, as a very charred giant black widow spider scuttled across the ceiling and dropped on the surprised merchant. Kern unfortunately felt the sting of the spiders poison, and he fell to the floor, joining the list of party members felled to venomous vermin. After the rest of the party finished off the spider, there was some debate about going back to Westmist right away to have the merchant raised. However, the party decided to push on ahead in the hopes of finding enough treasure to make the already deadly trip worthwhile (and maybe find enough to pay the temple bills). Cal and Norm readily agreed that their master would approve, although they were probably more worried about getting paid than anything else. The party was at least able to recover some gems from the charred remains of the spider’s lair.

Loading Kern’s body onto the loyal Sweet Jenny V, they explored some additional rooms and battled series of giant beetles. Additional creepy finds included the gnawed corpse of a gnoll hanging in a gibbet, odd paranoid inscriptions, several pointless traps (a gas bag behind a door, a magical flash of light) and a room cloaked in absolute silence and darkness. In one room they recovered the long dead body of a cleric of the mighty Habuu, which joined that of Kern on the mules back for the journey back to town. In addition to disturbing a crazed keg party, the party also broke into an alchemical laboratory of some sort. Here, they gathered a pile of glass bottles containing a range of liquids, oozes, dusts and herbs to haul back to town for Synthini to sort through to find the ‘good stuff’.  And back to town they now headed. First stop was Afflain the Fence to cash in their gems, and then it was off to the Temple of the Three Virtues. Here they were able to meet with the ugly Lanthan the Under Virtue, who was happy to see that the inquisitive Riley was absent , and that the party had returned the body of one of the temple’s fallen brothers from the depths of Stonehell. This was enough to get them in to see Liphanes of the Highest Virtue, and have Kern raised in return for a smaller than usual donation. With Kern deposited in bed to recover alongside Riley, the rest of the party used Erijay’s new wand to check the recovered treasure for magic. One of the bottles recovered was magical, and with help from Synthini they determined they now owned a potion of extra healing.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Westmist Session #24 - Why Does it Always Have to be Snakes?

Having vanquished the hobgoblins, the party’s next goal was to finish exploring the area around the lizardfolk lair. Erijay, Darnorth and Riley (accompanied by Erijays’ new dog, Foxy), entered Stonehell through the main entrance, and after dealing with a trio of crab spiders, found themselves back at the bottom of the spiral stairs. Heading north, they encountered an octagonal room, this one with a large four-headed cobra statue on a pillar in the centre. After a quick check of the doorway for traps, they examined the statue more closely, finding two 6 inch deep holes in the pillar just below the cobra. Placing several different objects in the holes to see what would happen proved unsuccessful. While caught up in examining the statue, the party was surprised by a pack of bright yellow and red giant frogs, which largely ignored the party and hopped through on their way elsewhere.

 Leaving the pillar and statue, the party headed out themselves (in the opposite direction). They explored a pair of rooms, fought some giant carnivorous flies, and liberated a pair of gems from a hobgoblin corpse. The next room encountered was an unusual storeroom, with a selection of tools such as rakes and brushes on 15’ poles and a portable winch and pulley system. Puzzling over the meaning of these items, the party continued east and was surprised to find a set of stairs going up. Thinking they were head back to the crypts, the party headed up cautiously, but  the stairs climbed only about 20 feet before opening into another room. This room, once opulently furnished with fine plush couches and divans (now ruined), and with statue-filled niches in the walls, was occupied by a band of heyna-headed humanoids pulling a sledge loaded with junk. While they stood with swords ready and growled at the party, the gnolls let them pass unmolested out the doorway in the opposite wall. 

Here, the party descended another set of stairs and ended up in a large room set with stone tables carved in the shape of great serpents. Also in the room was a band of lizardfolk, who moved to attack the party. Erijay tried a sleep spell on the scaly ones, but that dropped just one foe. The rest had to be taken care of the old fashioned way, with mace and sword and fangs.   While the fight was going on, another brightly coloured giant frog wandered into the fray, but stopped to feast on a fallen lizardfolk rather than get involved in the fight. After finishing the lizardfolk, they explored the eastern extension of the room, where they found a raised dais with another large cobra statue and a floor covered in prayers mats woven with a snake scale pattern. Also found was the freshly shed skin of a huge serpent, lying in the hallway that exited the room to the east.

Choosing to avoid the passage with the snake skin, the party headed south to connect up with the lizardfolk caves explored on previous expeditions. They then looped back to the west, fighting more carnivorous flies, and again attracting a single giant frog which stopped to eat the fallen insects. Leaving the frog to feast, another room was found which appeared to be an old barracks with sleeping mats on the floor.  Below one mat, Erijay discovered a hole containing a large sack. Pulling it out and opening it, the party found a pile of silver coins, a potion bottle and a curious wooden box. Riley carefully opened the box, to find inside a pair of crystal lenses sitting in the velvet lined interior.  Intrigued, they decided to head back to the four headed cobra statute to see if the lenses were related to it. First they explored a little further, encountering a blood spattered room familiar to Erijay from her earlier fall down a pit in the crypts.  Just beyond this, they encountered a room with the skeletal remains of some huge unidentifiable creature, and fought another swarm of carnivorous flies. After defeating the buzzing horrors, they picked through the skeletal remains and some decomposing corpses of hobgoblins, kobolds and men, to recover a bejeweled orb and necklace, a well as an earring and chain. They also noticed a raised balcony at the north end of the room, which according to their map was likely an extension of the room with the gnolls.

Back at the four headed cobra, they tried to fit the lenses in the holes, but they proved much too small to sit properly. Backtracking again, they decided to risk the hallway with the giant snake skin, finding two rooms. The first appeared to be the remains of a library or scriptorium, filled with webs. Cautiously, they looked up to see three giant black widow spiders crawling through the webs. Determined to explore the room, the party attacked, and this time Erijays’ sleep spell was successful in eliminating the crawly opposition. Clearing webs out of the way, they discovered most of the books had been destroyed by damp and mildew. One was relatively intact, and described the rituals and history of the cult of the Children of Yg, Father of Serpents. This section of the dungeon (as well as another on a lower level) formed a major centre in the cult, a cult that dated from times primordial and focused on the breeding and worship of great serpents and other abominations for the glory of Yg. The book also described how, when it became apparent the forces of law were about to invade the dungeon to wipe out the cult, their treasures were relocated to another location known as the Breeding Pits of Yg in the Marsh of Whispering Mists.  

Packing away the book for future reference, the party searched the next room, which appeared to have once been an expensively appointed private chamber. Of primary interest in this room was a large stone ring near the south wall, in the shape of a serpent with its tail clenched in its mouth. After cautiously examining this ouroboros, Riley placed the recently discovered lenses in his eyes to see if they revealed anything. While showing nothing different about the gate, he did find he now had the power of infravison, while Darnorth and Erijay noted his eyes had taken on a sinister, snake-like appearance.  Stymied, Darnorth pressed the serpents’ eye, which caused a shimmering green light to appear briefly within the gate before disappearing. While pondering this, Darnorth noted his back pack starting to move around, and a half dozen snakes burst out and tried to sink their fangs into the dwarf. He was able to drop the pack before they could connect, and the party proceeded to slay more serpents. But alas, not before the brave Riley was bitten and succumbed to the poison. That brought an end to the exploration, as Erijay and Darnorth gathered up their fallen comrade and headed back to town to get help in bringing the cleric back from the dead. Incidentally, Darnoth noted he was now missing 6 torches when he repacked his backpack. 

Back in Westmist, Erijay and Darnorth first visited Aflain the Fence to cash in their newly acquired jewels to raise cash to raise Riley. Then off to the Temple of the Three Virtues to first meet with the grotesquely ugly Lanthan the Undervirtue. He arranged an audience with the Highest Virtue, and the fallen Riley was brought back from the dead in return for a modest donation to the faith. While they were there, the party took the time to question Lanthan about the cult of Yg, and he gladly and chattily confirmed and expanded on much of the information found in the book. Riley then asked about Malfreces, at which point the Undervirtues’ mood changed dramatically and he brushed off the question. When Riley asked again, Lanthan brusquely informed the cleric the matter was not open for discussion and terminated the interview. All of which left Riley which much to consider while he recovered from the effects of his trip to the great beyond.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Westmist Session #23 - Lions and Hobgoblins and Fire, Oh My!

After taking just one day to rest and recover, the party (Kern, Erijay, Darnorth, Riley and Sweet Jenny IV) headed back to Stonehell , determined to finish off the hobgoblins once and for all. Using their new secret tunnel, they cautiously moved through the caverns, reaching the finished stonework of the dungeon without incident. Stepping into the corridor, however, they were immediately peppered with arrows from the darkened room to the west. Kern, heavily hit in the exchange, starting firing back as the other three charged in to face 6 hobgoblins. These fell quickly, but in the process Kern heard the sound of feet running away to the north, and it was obvious their presence back in the dungeon would now be known.

Again with caution, they moved north along the corridor to the hobgoblin commanders room. Bursting inside once more they noticed the bodies were missing, as was the ultimate goal of their search, the strongbox with the remaining treasure.  With a grumble, the party went back out the door and continued north. Stopping at the next guardroom, Erijay used her mirror to confirm the area was empty, a tactic she repeated on the west corridor out of the guardroom. There she could see, at the limits of her infravision, a lighted room with signs of movement. Cautiously they began to advance down the corridor, but Darnorth and Kern noticed the floor was slippery. Pulling back, they confirmed it was oil, just as a torch flew down the hallway and ignited the just vacated hallway. As black smoke billowed around them, it was decided heading north to find another way around this bottleneck was the best choice. Coming to the tiled room, the party was just crossing when the two crystal balls lit up and starting shooting beams of multicolored light around. Everyone was hit, taking damage from the electrical shock.  Dropping low, Kern searched the floor and noticed the outer edge looked slightly different from the rest. Cautiously, the party passed around the edge of the room without further incident. 

Searching rooms Erijay had  scouted previously in gaseous form, they found the area eerily quiet and seemingly abandoned. In the hobgoblin larder, they also found a curious brass cage holding a white crystalline stone that radiated constant cold. This they wrapped in some old cloth carried by Riley and loaded onto Sweet Jenny.  Moving through the old arena, they first checked the massive looted earlier, only to find it now empty but for a handful of silver coins. Pushing on through the second door out of the area, they encountered a nest of pit vipers, likely those disturbed in Darnorth and Erijay’s earlier expedition. And the encounter went no better this time than last. Charging into their midst, Darnorth was bitten and dropped straight to the floor, foaming at the mouth and twitching. After a few mounts he ceased moving and lay stone dead. He was soon joined there by Sweet Jenny who likewise fell to the snakes’ venom.  That proved enough for the party, and they grabbed the prone dwarf and fled the room, wisely heading back to Westmist to see what could be done for their fallen comrade. Riley was able to pull some strings and get them an audience with the corpulent Liphanes of the Highest Virtues, who for a modest donation to the church raised the unfortunate dwarf form the dead.

While Darnorth recovered from his death, the others spent the time planning for their next expedition, and around them the military preparations continued. In particular, they learned the Baron’s forces had intercepted the hobgoblin reinforcements heading for Stonehell and routed them. Meanwhile, Erijay obtained some poison from Synthini, as well as a dozen dead rats. These she stuffed with poison, planning to feed them to the snakes in revenge. For his part, Riley prayed to the great Habuu for the power to control the vile serpents. And Kern went shopping for Sweet Jenny V.

After a few weeks, the party returned via the caverns again. This time, Erijay used her mirror to look around the corner into the dungeon, seeing two hobgoblins standing guard where the archers had been before. Kern took a stone and threw it down the north corridor, which attracted the guard’s attention. One cautiously moved down the corridor to investigate, and as he passed the party’s hiding spot, Darnoth grabbed him and pulled him into the room while the rest of the party proceeded to pummel him to death. Seeing his comrade disappear, the remaining guard took off running north. Kern followed in pursuit. Firing blindly into the darkened corridor, he heard the satisfying sound of bolt meeting flesh, followed by a strangled cry and the sound a body hitting the floor.

Now thinking they could surprise the hobgoblins, the party moved forward to the old guardroom. First confirming there was no oil or other trap, they advanced down the western corridor, enduring more missile fire before breaking into a room crowded with hobgoblins and two mountain lions. These didn’t stand long, as Erijay dropped all the hobgoblins and one lion with a sleep spell, while everyone else then proceeded to beat up the remaining cat. Before having a change to look around, they party heard marching footsteps to the west. Opting for tack over weapons this time, Erijay tried to reason with the advancing hobgoblins, who responded with derision. Riley’s in turn responded by chucking two hobgoblin heads towards them, wrapped flaming oil and cloth. After a chorus of cursing, the hobgoblins returned the favor by rolling a leaking barrel of oil into the party's midst. Kern, Erijay and Darnorth were able to stop the barrel and roll it back, but not before the hobgoblins lit the oil and singed the three adventurers a little. Diplomacy over, these hobgoblin were dealt with much like the last; a sleep spell took care of most, while the huge leader fell to the weapons of the party .

A check of the area uncovered several barracks (some in use, some not), in one of which they found the missing strongbox with the remaining treasure and a potion bottle. Riley also claimed a hobgoblin war banner. Two defensive potions were found. One was a series of rooms designed to funnel attackers through a narrow passage past murder holes, with access controlled by a massive iron turnstile. The second was a narrow bridge over a spike filled pit.  This second one had a curious contraption, consisting of a bottle held in a pivoting metal frame. Combing the rest of the complex, they found the infirmary and mountain lion cages empty, and then were back in front of the room of vipers. Opening the door, Erijay tossed in the poisoned rats. Waiting 10 minutes, they cautiously opened the door again to find all the snakes dead on the floor. Riley proceeded to dismember them, just to make sure they were completely dead, and the party recovered the strange cold stone from the rotting corpse of Sweet Jenny IV.  

Back to Westmist, they met with the March Baron to inform him that the hobgoblin threat from Stonehell was no more, and thereby received his thanks. They also headed to see Synthini, who identified their potion as a potion of heroism, and the strange crystal a cool stone. They likewise stopped to see Slate in the hopes he could use the cool stone to fashion some kind of weapon. But his demands for research funds and uncertain chance of success put a damper on those plans.  Instead they went on a celebratory bender, during which Erijay ended up in an altercation with the baronial guard. She found herself sobering up in one of the March Barons’ oubliettes, stripped of all her possessions and facing a 5000gp fine. Taking advantage of their current position in Lord Merdwyns’ good books, Darnorth was able to convince him to release the unfortunate elf.  This the March Baron did, dropping the fine to 1000gp. However, he did insist on retaining the Axe of Durgan the Bold, which he had coveted ever since Erijay recovered it from the dungeon. And he also made it smugly clear that the party now owed him a huge favor and had better not shirk from that obligation when he came looking for their help.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Westmist Session #22 - Into the Hobgoblin Lair

Westmist was getting busy, as peasant levies were starting to muster, and bands of mercenaries and royal troops were arriving from the east , all preparing for battle against the hobgoblins. Prices were rising, and the March Baron had issued a decree banning the private employment of men-at-arms for the duration of the emergency. He also invoked the March Tax, locking the gates while his men combed the town to collect a head tax on every soul to help pay the costs of the war.

With the full team (less Turrick) assembled again, plans turned to finally dealing with the hobgoblins in Stonehell.  Confirming the previous deal with Slate, the dwarven engineer, to collapse the hobgoblins secret tunnel entrance and dig a new secret entrance for the party, they next headed to see the March Baron once more to ask for help. Lord Merdwyn was reluctant to lend further assistance, having already lost a number of his men while in the party’s employ. Darnorth, however, managed to convince him that they just needed guards to protect Slate and his work crew; they wouldn’t be used as dungeon fodder. Having agreed to pay the costs associated if any men were lost, the Baron turned over command of a band of 10 mercenaries to the party.

Leading an entourage of mercenaries and dwarven miners, the party made their way to the box canyon with the back entrance to the hobgoblin lair. Kern first scouted the cave entrance on the canyon wall, and once assured that the coast was clear, the miners and mercenaries climbed up and started their work. The party, meanwhile, prepared to enter the dark to scout the area inside for Slate and ensure there would be no trouble. Passing through the narrow 5’ entrance, their exploration got off on a bad foot when Riley hit a trip wire, setting off a loud gong, and obviously alerting anyone in the caves. Cautiously, they explored the first stalagmite and stalactite studded cave, then passed through another narrowing before entering the next chamber. As they emerged into the space, a rain of arrows from the right surprised them, several of which hit hard and deep. Turning, they observed a low log barricade, behind which a half dozen hobgoblins crouched, crossbows in hand. Preparing to do battle, the party first suffered another fusillade of arrows, which dropped Riley to the floor at the edge of death. Now enraged, Darnorth floated up with his pick  boots of levitation, and Kern gave him a hard push, propelling him towards the barricade. The dwarf, joined by Erijay on foot, flew over the logs and dropped right in the middle of the hobgoblins, slaying one with his sword while a second fell to the elf’s axe.  This was all too much for the remaining hobgoblins, who broke and tried to flee, but were cut down by Darnorth, Erijay and the now arriving Kern.

Carrying the fallen cleric, the party stopped the work on the tunnel and headed back to Westmist. There, they were able to convince the visiting August Virtue, Balinor of the Three Virtues (in town to preach a crusade against the hobgoblins) to resurrect the brave Riley so he could continue the church’s work and stomp some more hobgoblins. All, of course, for a moderate donation to the faith.

 With Riley back among the living, the expedition departed again the next morning to start once more on the cave. When Darnorth glanced inside this time, he was greeted by yet more arrows. The dwarf grabbed Riley’s human sized shield and led a charge into the cave, where the 4 hobgoblin archers were slain before they had any chance to fight back. While Slate and crew started work for the second time, the parry ranged deeperinto the caves. They found the previous hobgoblin defenses deserted, and after exploring a few other caverns and following a small stream, they found themselves back in the worked stone halls of Stonehell. Heading west, they immediately encountered a barracks occupied by two large hobgoblin guards, who again were slain so quickly they had no chance to raise the alarm. Now heading north along a long corridor, they found several doors. At one, the keen eared Kern heard hobgoblin voices.  Now abandoning all caution, Darnoth kicked the door open. On the other side they found three huge hobgoblins clustered around a document covered table. One was dressed in fine ceremonial armour, a plumbed helmet and rich red cape; obviously a hobgoblin of some importance. Again the party fell on the creatures, and while these proved to be much tougher opponents, they too soon lay motionless on the floor. But not before the leader was able to call out the alarm. Riley stood watch at the door  while Darnorth severed the commanders head, plumbed helmet and all. Kern and Erijay ransacked the room, taking papers, a potion, and discovering a great locked chest. Using a key from the dead hobgoblin commander, Kern opened it to find a glittering pile of gold and jewelry. Although sorely tempted to load up on treasure, the party choose to take just the easily portable jewelry and a few coins for now so they would not be slowed down on their continuing raid on the hobgoblin fortress.

Relocking the chest, they continued north along the corridor, discovering an abandoned guard post. Just as they were about to head east again, another rain of arrows hit them from that direction and they saw yet another large squad of hobgoblins in battle formation ready to block their way.  Darnorth, yelling “Look at your leader now!” flung the dead hobgoblin commanders’ head into their midst. This unnerved the usually iron disciplined hobgoblins, who hesitated just long enough for Erijay to drop them all with a sleep spell. After slitting throats and collecting the head, they party decided it was about time to head back, as Slate should be just about ready to blow the cave entrance.  Stopping to first try forcing a locked door bypassed earlier, they were against surprised by a hobgoblin band, this time with a trained mountain lion. There ensued the longest battle of the raid as it took forever for the party to drop just a handful of hobgoblins and one cat.  By now the day was late, and they hurried back out of the cave (after first loading up on gold from the treasure chest in the commander room) and had Slate blow the entrance. Which to everyone relief actually worked!)

Rather than go back to town, they decided to stay on site so Slate and his crew could finish off the secret tunnel over the next two days. The first day nearly ended that job, as a huge warband of 50 or more orcs was observed advancing up the valley towards them. Kern first climbed up the rock face over the cave, then used rope to start helping everyone up in the inaccessible location, while Darnorth tried to charm the orcs into leaving them alone.  That proved unsuccessful, so Erijay tired her charm on the orc leader. That was likewise unsuccessful, and instead enraged the warband , who then proceeded to  attack. As the dwarf miners hid in the rocks, Erijay again dropped many of the attackers with a sleep spell, while the rest of the party and the mercenaries returned the orcs’ missile fire. Much of the party’s fire was aimed at the orc leader, who was slain almost immediately. This was enough for the warband, obviously looking for easier prey, and so they gathered their fallen and sleeping comrades and fled the valley. 

 The remainder of the day and night were uneventful, but around noon the next day there was a other close call when a high flying wyvern spotted the activity on the mountainside and swooped low to investigate. As the monster started to circle in closer, Darnorth started shouted a string of dwarven profanity at the monster. This apparently spooked it enough to likewise send it elsewhere looking for prey. 

With the secret entrance now finished, all head back again to Westmist. There, the mercenaries and dwarves were released from service, and everyone else headed to visit Synthini to see what magical treasure they may have found. The helm, which Darnorth had kept after leaving the hobgoblins commanders head behind, proved to be a helm of comprehend language.  The potion found by Erijay was a potion of giant strength.  And then began the planning for the next raid into the dungeon to recover the rest of that treasure.