Saturday, January 25, 2014

Westmist Session #64 - To the Mines!

Next morning, the Jarl's housecarls roused the party to prepare them for their foray into the old troll mines. When the Jarl and pair of Virlya joined them, Kern posed a few questions to the troll leader. Specifically looking for more information on the layout of the mines (was there a map?) and where the mysterious stele was located. Unfortunately Jarl Sveg could tell them little, as the discovery of the stele and summoning of the malign spirit occurred many years ago, and he could not recall details of the mine. Besides, undoubted many areas had become unstable and collapsed over the years so any map would likely be useless. He could tell them at least that the stele was discovered at the far western end of the mine. Kern also talked the Jarl out of a pair of the troll's sheep, to use as food on the hoof and/or bait when battling in the mines.

That done, the Jarl and his housecarls lead the party to the only mine entrance still unblocked (stopping at the infravision statue to get all the humans some night sight on the way). The entrance was right next to the elevator the party had been using, so they has to pass through the minotaur lair to get there. Which they were able to do without incident thanks to the two Vrilya who accompanied the Jarl. Once in the mine tunnels, the Jarl took his leave of the party and returned to his halls. The party, forming a marching order and hefting weapons, headed out. After just a few steps, the walls around them started to fade away. The next thing everyone knew, they were waking up in a large mined out chamber. Most notably, all their equipment and supplies were gone, and they were dressed just in old rags and equip with mining tools and lanterns. They were also not alone.  A half dozen skeletons, equip much like themselves, approached. The party prepared to do battle, and Riley began to call on the power of Habuu to drive away the undead fiends. Only to realize he had no holy symbol with which to channel the wrath of his god. And was unable to see in the dark anyway, as his infravision lens were likewise gone. So all raised shovels and picks and dealt with them the old fashioned way; smashing them. But these skeletons were tougher than normal, with bones encrusted in mineral deposits. One of the skeletons killed a sheep, and Darnorth vaulted over the other wooly creature to aid his embattled comrades. Lacking their usual armor and weapons, the skeletons hurt the party badly before the last one fell.
After first aid and healing, the party looked around the room. A well stood in one corner, and everyone went to look, hoping their equipment might be in there. Alas it contained only scummy water. Erijay examined the skeletons, and noticed one was encrusted in minerals shot through with flecks of gold. She took one of the broken femurs to use as a backup weapon. But nothing else of use or interest was found, so the party prepared to head west, still hoping  to find the stele and deal with it. Having first dealt with a band of (thankfully) regular skeletons that wandered into the room, they passed out into the mine tunnels. These were all roughly dug and propped up with timbers. As the Jarl warned, they were also quite unstable, and the sounds of creaking wood and small rockfalls echoed around them. Following the winding tunnels, they entered another mine chamber. Darnorth saw immediately that the load here was not mined out, and veins of gold still snaked through the walls. For once though, the dwarf was uninterested in the shiny metal. He instead led the party out of the room down a slating corridor. And next thing everyone knew, they were back in the well room, with no idea of how they got there or how much time had passed.

So back down the tunnels they marched, heading west out of the gold-chamber this time. They immediately entered another open area, this one occupied by another group of skeletons. These undead were picking up rocks and placing them in a trio of mining carts, a task they stopped at once when the party appeared. Several picked up tools and prepared to attack, while the rest of the skeletons grabbed a mine cart and rolled it down the slope towards the intruders.  The cart slammed into Darnorth, throwing him to the ground. Rather than risk a knock down fight in their under-equip state, Bjorn cast a web spell to trap the ore carts and as many of the undead as possible. The rest were taken down by mining tools and thrown rocks.

Burning away the web that now blocked their progress west, they headed out again and once more broke into a mined out chamber. This one contained a small alter carved out of stone. Riley, wracking his brain to remember his clerical training, identified it as a shrine to Lughrin, the old god of miners. And behind it hung a silver warhammer, which the cleric recalled was the holy symbol of the mining god. Darnorth snatched the weapon from it's hook, while Kern examined the altar for traps. He found no traps, but did notice what appeared to be a hollow or hole under the stone. Gurruk bent down and started digging it out, and uncovered a trove containing flasks of holy water, 3 potions of extra healing, and a clerical scroll (bless, resist cold x3, continual light, striking x2). This fortunate find was shared among the group, and then Darnorth and hammer led them once more to the west.
And right into trouble. Breaking into the chamber, the party encounter a large space occupied by dozens of the undead. Knowing better than to provoke a fight, they tried to retreat. But the evil creatures had seen them, and a group of the mineral encrusted skeletons turned to pursue. Kern and Darnorth bravely blocked to passage to allow the rest of the party to escape and look for a way to get around the undead filled room. On the way, Gurruk staked their last sheep at the far of the tunnel where the dwarf and merchant were fighting, then whistled to the pair to retreat. Which they did, passing the sheep and following the rest of the p[arty down a northward running tunnel. Thankfully, their pursuers were distracted by the easily reached living flesh, and the party escaped to the sounds of a bleating sheep being rendered to bits by the skeletons.!/image/159634990.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_476/159634990.jpg
Fleeing, they ran into a trio of zombie like undead. Like the mineral skeletons, these proved tougher to deal with than originally thought. One hit Darnorth with a swing of it's shovel, and a cold chill crept through the dwarf, who was slowed for the next while. But they were able to defeat the three, and head further to the northeast. They entered another chamber, this one showing signs of an old battle. To the west a strange purple glow was seen, so Kern crept down that way to have a look. There, a huge chamber was lit by a massive blast furnace that glowed with an odd purple flame. Outlined by the flame was a reptilian creature, 15 feet tall and with four arms and a horn on it's nose. And out of the room came a voice with a sound beyond space and time: "I hear you, but do not see you. Who are you?" That raised the hair on the back of Kern's neck, so he scuttled back to the party, who were getting ready to leave by the northern exit.
Before they could move though, a strange knocking was heard in the walls. Listening carefully, Darnorth suddenly recognized it as a form of miner's code, used to communicate underground. The knocking told them "danger north, go south and follow instructions". Not sure if they should trust the message, but equally unsure if they could afford not to trust it at this point, they obeyed. They were led south and then back north, past the room in which they first awoke. Passing through another couple of chambers without incident, they now found themselves in one with signs of an old cave-in. And waiting  for them there was a ghostly spirit. The figure was dressed in miners gear and introduced himself as Mass Rapert. He had been one of the trolls human slaves, captured when the occupants of the Stonehell prison broke into the troll mines those many years before. He was in the mine when the stele was discovered, and saw the destruction caused by the evil spirit. He died in the chaotic infighting caused by  the twisted malevolent presence of the beast, but neither became undead nor was able to move on to the afterlife until the spirit is destroyed. He offered to help the party however he could. Asked first about all their stuff, Maas told them they were no longer in the same time and place as their gear. The presence of the spirit had ripped the mines free of Stonehell into a temporal distortion. All their worldly goods were back in their own reality, back in the dungeon. He told them to escape back to their own place and time, they had to use the blessed hammer of Lughrin to smash the stele that houses the evil spirits essence, and then slay the thing. Otherwise, it would be invulnerable to physical destruction. The hammer however, would only work in the hands of a righteous soul. Peering into each set of eyes, Maas finally settled on Erijay, saying "here is the righteous soul who may wield the hammer". So Darnorth dutifully listened to the ghost, and handed his treasure to the elf. Asking now about other weapons, Maas told them the old mine guardroom was located just to the north, and they could find some weapons and armor there. But they would have to fight more undead to get there ...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Westmist Session #63 - In the Halls of the Mountain Trolls

A few days were spent in Westmist while Bjorn rewrote some lost spells in his spell book. Erijay took the time to inquire about the lightning glove she has taken from the Vrilya. Asking the usual suspects, she found herself back buying expensive brandy for Bazzrel. The voluble wizard wasn't of much help, saying that the Vrilya were a nigh semi-mythical race of which little was known.  What little had been seen of their magic showed it to be different from the magics of the surface world. Following up on this comment, Erijay cast detect magic on the glove, and it glowed with an odd light. Much the same as happened when they had testing Kern's jumpsuit. What was the connection between the two?
Meanwhile, Kern was back at the house when Riker announced that an officer from the King's Blue Company was at the door, demanding to speak with the head of the household. Kern complied, and the officer informed the master merchant that he was appropriating the house for billeting troops of the company. Thinking that that was going to put a crimp on their lives, Kern negotiated a deal with the officer. Rather than put the troops up in their own home, Kern offered to pay (no,no not a bribe) to house the men elsewhere. After some persuasion, the officer agreed and walked away with a 300gp 'housing allowenece".

With Bjorn's studies complete, the full party gathered (less Booh who was to large to fit in the narrow tunnels) and prepared to depart for Stonehell, aiming to recover Duncal from the mountain trolls. As they headed out of town, they heard rumors that the rival adventuring band who was now working with the March Baron had pledged 2000gp towards paying off the debt to the King. A act of philanthropy that had everyone in town singing their praises. It was enough to make everyone glad to be headed back into the depths and darkness again. And back they went, passing through the upper levels with little trouble, finding themselves back on the 4th level in the many pillared room. Following the map from the last delves, the party formed up (Kern scouting invisibly ahead) and headed towards the elevator down. And were stopped at once by the dropped portcullis, which stymied the attempts of the party brutes to open. Riley on the other hand lifted it with ease, and everyone passed through, heading for the room of mists. But were stopped short when a quartet of ogres emerged from that room. Darnorth tried to talk their way past the brutes, as the party was uninterested in risking a fight at this point. But the ogres were in a foul mood, tired of these surface interlopers passing through their territory. The four raised their clubs and charged, but three were felled quickly by a combination of lighting bolt from Darnorth's ring and swinging swords from everyone else. Seeing how quickly his comrades bit the dust, the fourth ogre surrendered. And the party accepted that surrender. Which was good, because at this point Gurruk heard a snuffling sound , and turned to see a huge cave bear emerge from the passage behind them. Thinking they could distract the bear, the party tried lifting one of the dead ogres and tossing it to the bear. Unfortunately, the brute was too big and Darnorth collapsed under the weight of the corpse. However, the bear wasn't too aggressive, but stood on it's hind legs and started to sniff and growl and swing it's head around. Pulling the dwarf out from under the corpse, and dragging their ogre captive with them, the party slowly retreated through the mist room.  To everyones relief, the bear stopped to feast on the dead ogres.
Moving now into the large cave with the elevator, the party questioned the ogre. He told them his tribe lived in this part of the caves, ruled by one called 'Clacker". It was Clacker who was upset that the party was passing though his caves. To the west were the caves of the bezerkers. Asked about the trolls, the ogre said the trolls sometimes hired the ogres as guards and grunts. They party also learned that the trolls were great lovers of gold, and it was a gold mine they had dug in the depths of the mountain, mainly using gnome and human slaves. But some years ago, the slaves had dug too deep and released an evil spirit in the mines. To keep it in, the trolls had collapsed the entrances into the mine, and had been trying to figure out a way to regain their past glory and wealth ever since.

Grateful for the information, the party decided to let the ogre go as long as he didn't tell Clacker about them ("Ugg agrees. Say cave bear ate friends!"). That done, Kern sized up the elevator control panel and set the switches in the right order to de-energize the cage and set it moving. Back on the fifth level, the party sized up their map once again and figured they would look for a connecting route to the troll halls that didn't involve passing through the minotaur guardroom. The first branch led into a large chamber with the ruined remains of wooden furniture and mining implements. The exit to the west was blocked by fallen rubble. When Darnorth examined it, he noted that it looked like the tunnel was deliberately collapsed, not a random accidental cave-in. Erijay began poking around looking for a secret exit, but instead found a round stone plug in the floor,  about 2 feet in diameter. She and Darnorth grabbed some old miners picks from the rubble and (after Kern and checked it for traps) pried the plug up. Underneath was a shallow hole, and it it lay a pile of gold nuggets. Which were quickly scooped up (after a paranoid Kern again checked for traps) and distributed to the party. Rylee refused to take any, figuring that if they tried negotiating with the trolls, the creatures might not like the idea of the party pilfering their gold. If Rylee was empty handed, he could offer to be searched to cover the party's collective behinds.
After digesting this bit of wisdom, the party realized there was no obvious way to bypass the minotaurs. In the hopes of sneaking past them, Rylee cast silence on a coin and gave it to Kern. Who then sneaked ahead to see what the minotaurs were up to. He found them clustered around the hook-hung bodies, tearing one to pieces and having a little feast. Figuring this was a good a time to sneak by as any, Kern waved the rest of the party forward. Under the cloak of the silence spell, they slipped around the corner into the room, and headed for the closest exit. One of the minotaurs smelled manflesh though, and the whole pack turned to face the party, snorting and steaming. They didn't advance though, so the party slowly backed out of the room and into the tunnel for which they'd been heading. Now past that obstacle, Kern once more took the lead, finding another mined out chamber. This one was largely empty, but for a boulder carved in the shape of a man in one alcove. The figure was crude, but dressed as a miner and carrying a pick and hammer. It was solid, except for the mouth which was a slot. Kern shone his continual light coin in the slot, and he saw it curved down into the boulders belly. Darnorth, out of curiosity,  dropped a coin in the mouth. He noted momentarily a burst of better vision, so Rylee tried it next. The cleric of Habuu immediately gained the ability to see in the dark. So the other humans (Kern, Bjorn and Gurruk) all dropped a coin in, and the party now proceeded without light sources.

Passing several dead end passages, Kern stopped at the next chamber to listen. Hearing nothing, he once more turned to beckon the party forward. And nearly put his foot down on a red jelly-like thing on the floor. Backing away, Kern retreated to the rest of the party while the jelly followed. Shooting at it with a crossbow bolt, Kern scored a hit. Which broke the thing into 5 smaller pudding which lashed out with pseudpods at the party. Who responded with a cycle of oil and torches until the things were dried husks on the floor. Stepping over them, the party continued on and Kern soon saw ahead a huge cavern. 20' high and stretching beyond the limits of his vision, from it emerged a strange sound; the sound of sheep and goats bleating.  The merchant slipped forward invisibility and silently (using the coin still). Further on he found a pen with sheep and goats, a set of double stone doors 15' tall, and a huge rusting rock crusher. And next to the rock crusher, two ogre like creature. Taller than ogres though, they wore crude metal and leather armor over thick, knotted skin. Each sported a pigs tail and carried a two handed sword. Kern now moved back towards the party to confer. Figuring these must be the mountain trolls, the party decided to slip forward and watch further before deciding what to do. Just then, anther odd creature burst out of the double doors. It looked much like the other two, but sported three heads! Two of the heads seemed to be in some sort of crazy argument (based on what Darnorth heard using his helm) while the third  called out to the other creatures, telling them to 'go join the feast'. With grunts of 'thanks Onkel Harold', the two left though the double doors. At which point, Onkel Harold went over the the sheep and goats in the pen, picked one up and started eating it alive.
Figuring talking rather than fighting might be worth it this time, Darnorth stepped forward with a rakish smile, hopping the brute spoke Common. As in insurance policy however, Bjorn stayed back in the shadows preparing the ritual to summon an elemental with his censor, while Erijay began casting an arcane lock from her spellbook to bar the double doors and prevent any reinforcements arriving. Onkel Harold did speak rough Common, and Darnorth opened negations.  After a while, the three headed troll suddenly turned to go back through the double doors saying 'he had to talk to someone'.

The party let him go, and prepared for the worst. After awhile, heavy footsteps were heard on the other side of the double doors. Erijay quickly moved forward to hold them open so whoever it was didn't take offense at being trapped by her arcane lock. Out of the doors strode a multitude of mountain trolls, led by a huge one in a golden crown. Next to him stood another oddity, an old troll hag, holding her head under here arm rather than on her shoulders! The huge troll announced himself as King Sveg, and asked what the party wanted. Darnorth again spoke up, and offered to re-open the trolls gold mine by killing the evil spirit that inhabited the old workings. In return, the party wished only one particular slave of the trolls. Looking at the troll king's entourage, they spied the weedy Duncal, and pointed him out. Puzzled as to why they would want such a weak specimen, the King none the less (after consulting two Vrilya who were now seen in the mass of trolls) agreed to the bargain. King Sveg warned that it would not be an easy task. First, once in the mines, the party would not be able to leave until the demon spirit had been banished. Second, the spirit was immune to many spell (including those of Gammlemmor Olga, the troll hag with the head under her arm). Third, it also regenerated when hurt, ever faster than the rubbery skinned relatives of the mountain trolls.
Undeterred, the party sealed the bargain. Rylee quietly dispelled Erijay's arcane lock, and King Sveg invited the adventurers to attend his feast now underway, and then to rest in his halls before heading to the cursed mines. To this everyone agreed, and they were led into the depths of the troll's halls to a huge banquet hall set with food and drink. And after feasting, they settled in for an nights rest before starting new in the morning.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Westmist Session #62 - Booh's Back (and so is the King)

As the voices came closer, the party decided to face the approaching bandits head on. Except for Kern who slipped on his ring and Bjorn who cast invisibility and stepped back from the group a bit. Darnorth added a haste spell from his ring as well. Just in case you see. While Gurruk kept trying to convince Booh that they were his real friends (which the giant protested between bites of horseflesh) the others waited. In a few minutes the bandits were close enough to see the party, and they halted and called out  a challenge; “Who’s there? What do you want?”.  Darnorth was once more elected as spokesperson, all the more since half the bandits appeared to be dwarves (the others were goblins). He tried to convince them the party ment no harm, but were old friends of Booh who had come back to get him. The lead dwarf snarled at this, insisting the giant (who continued to munch on horse) was with them now and the party could bugger off. Back and forth went the argument. As things got heated , the dwarf bandit sent some goblins back towards the camp to get reinforcements. He also put down his foot, and demanded Booh came back to camp. The giant looked a little perplexed at first, but finally turned to join the bandits. With plan A failed, plan B came into effect. Bjorn cast web to keep the giant of uncertain loyalties out of the way, while Erijay cast sleep on the bandits.  Pausing only to slit the throats of the sleeping bandits, the hasted party then descended on the bandit camp at high speed, while Booh struggled in a rage to break out of the web.

Blazing into the camp, Erijay dropped another web on the golden haired Lutrol, while a sleep spell from Bjorn dropped a few of the bandits. As Lutrol struggled to escape, he transformed into a massive wolf, the golden armor dropping from his body. The wolf began to tear the web apart, so Bjorn dropped a second one on him for good measure. Erijay then used her lightning glove, and Darnorth a lightning bolt from his ring, to drop two ranks of bandits, who had opened up on the party with missile fire. The bandits started to waver, and one group of orcs slipped away behind the biggest hut in the camp. Meanwhile, Kern had gotten behind Lutrol, and in a surprise attack, drove his sword through the beast, which died in a howl of rage and pain.

The few orc bandits still standing, seeing the futility of continuing the fight, threw down their weapons and begged for mercy. But before they could be dealt with, a loud eagles cry arose from behind the large shelter, and a massive griffin rose into the sky. It dove at Kern, but the swift merchant dodged the creature’s claws and beak.  As it started to swoop away, the rest of the still hasted party arrived to help Kern, and the flying beast was beaten out of the sky before it could get away. At this point, Booh arrived in the circle of firelight, his rage soon turning to confusion and despair as he saw all his ‘new’ friends dead on the ground. Gurruk went to mollify the giant, while Kern questioned the captive orcs. He learned they were mercenaries from the Goblin Marches, hired by Lutrol to go a banditing with him and the goblins and dwarves. Lutrol was a bit full of himself, saying he was some sort of knight who happened to get infected with lycanthropy. But he was just another directionless bandit in the eyes of the orcs. Questioned about treasure, the orcs told them it would be in the large (Lutrol’s) shelter.

Letting the orcs go, Kern and Darnorth headed for Lutrol's hut. Erijay checked out the other huts, finding nothing but filth and junk. Riley examined Lutrol’s armor, which appeared to be steel embossed with bronze. On the chest was a sunburst symbol. Lutorl’s hut was simply but cleanly furnished, with furs on the walls and a huge bed in the center. Kern sliced open the mattress and once the featherssettled, he saw a trap door hidden in the bed frame below. Opening it up, he found the werewolf’s treasure; a pile of coins (silver and copper), gems and rich objects (candlesticks, jewelry, goblet, etc). As he started to scoop it all out, there was suddenly a ‘click’ sound from the bottom of the secret chamber. A half dozen darts flew out of a hatch at the bottom and whizzed past Kern’s head.

Looting complete, everyone met around the fire. Gurruk had convinced Booh that his best bet was to join with the party. The giant would stay out in the wilderness with Gurruk (no way he’d be allowed in Westmist!) and share in the party’s fortunes. That agreed, the party bedded down for the night, and at first light, started the journey back to town. Which almost ended the next night when a surprise attack by a band of bugbears caught most of the party sleeping. Good luck, good spell casting and good archery managed to save them.

Approaching Westmist on the evening of the second day, they were surprised to see the river crowded with vessels, each flying the royal banner of Kellowai. Sending Booh and Gurruk on their way, the party made their way to the town gates to enter as always. But were stopped by a band of guards they’d never seen before, wearing blue livery with the royal crest. For the first time in forever, the party was forced to pay gate taxes (100gp!). Asked why, the sergeant told them only that things were ‘going to be different in Westmist for awhile’. Back the house they headed, and questioned Riker. Their majordomo could offered little, saying only that the ships had arrived that morning, the the town had been flooded with royal troops ever since. An announcement was planned for the town square tomorrow.

So the next day, off to the square everyone headed, finding a crowd already gathered. Standing on a platform at one end of the square was a man in a gaudy outfit of blue, silver and purple. He announced himself as Sir Percival of Ashlan, Kingdom Herald of Arms. Next to him stood a women in blue, the commander of the King’s Blue Company who occupied the town. Sir Percival announced that given the March Barons deception in using the king’s gold to capture himself an independent realm, his Royal Majesty, King Berthold II, King of Kellowai, Duke of Mirvor, etc etc etc, hereby invoked the right of ‘Imperium Soldatus Terminus’. An ancient privilege of the Imperial throne (of which the King was a partial inherent as King of Kellowai), the right allowed the king to take over administration of the border marches if the march lord could or would not perform his duty. Since the king had paid to defend Westmist, the March Barony of Westmist would be administered directly by the crown until the debt incurred by that defense had been paid (100,000gp). All revenues would go directly to the crown, and all special rights and privileges granted under the March Baron were revoked for the duration.  For starters, a Kings Head tax was collected by the royal troops from everyone in the square.

With slightly lighter purses then, the party headed to see Afflain. They cashed in their treasure, except for the armor which the Pashnadi merchant refused to take (“You want to get me killed trying to fence that armor! Those Knights of the Golden Rays are crazy!”). He also filled them in with more detail on the scheme to intercept Gilmeshi the merchant on his return from delivering slaves to Zoloren. From whom Afflain had not yet heard, in response to the party’s offer to sell the anti-aging statue from Stonehell.