Saturday, December 17, 2016

Session 18: Halloween Hobgoblins

Having taken out a ghost and several parties of hobgoblins and humans, Galathil and Flint were low on spells but confident the curtain wall of the fortress was safe for now. While Flint rested and Lynnya watched, Galathil was dispatched to find help from the more martial members of the party. She managed to give Dyn-bach and Volodemir good enough directions back to the fortress, before disappearing on some elven family business.

Lynnya signalled to Dyn-bach and Volodemir and lowered a rope for them to join with Flint on the top of the curtain wall. From here, they could see that the fortress had a large portcullis, seemingly allowing for space to crawl under, but there was a large muddy patch in front of it. Above the portcullis, two guardhouses were apparently occupied by groups of hobgoblins, and along the top of the fortress, two more groups, consisting of 2 hobgoblins and an unidentified humanoid shape patrolled. Not wanting to risk being discovered, Flint cast silence on a spot on the curtain wall that allowed the party to descend undetected to the ground by the corner of the fortress.

They decided to sneak their way over to the portcullis. Wary of getting stuck in the mud, Flint decided to sound the bottom before hopping in. Doing so, he struck something hard, and partially averted the surprise of an ankheg attack. He cracked at it with his warhammer while the rest of the party waited for it to emerge. When it popped out, it spat acid on everyone, was hit a few times, then started biting and clawing, and was taken down by force. Suspecting the combat had alerted the guards above, the party tried to scramble under the portcullis. Just as Volodemir was passing below, burning liquid came splashing down from above in the guardhouse murder-holes. Running across the small courtyard for the cover of an archway, the party was fairly riddled with arrows from the groups of archers in the gatehouses. Figuring that surprise was out of the question at this point anyway, Volodemir cast an ear-ringing shatter spell on one of the arrow-slits killing a couple of hobgoblins and leaving more slightly more exposed.

Eying up the developing situation and their pin-cushioned bodies, the party decided to push further in to the keep. Flint healed everyone and they moved through a large room with a fountain and some lovely shrubs to find a very stubborn locked door. With time of the essence, Dyn-bach slammed into the door with his body 3 times before it finally gave way. Closing the ruined door behind them the party was faced with a choice of two directions to proceed.

Heading to the left, they proceeded down a corridor to a large door. Listening at the door for danger, and hearing none, Flint opened the door. A huge silent bear lunged out from behind the door, but his quick reflexes prevented this from happening. However, at the same time, Volodemir disappeared. Volodemir had fallen into a hidden pit that covered itself back up. After some investigation, Flint found the seam from the pit's cover, and working together, Dyn-bach and Flint were able to lift the cover enough to let him crawl back out.

Examining the room they had found, they discovered the mechanism by which the bear had been rigged to fall, and they re-set the trap to slow down any guards who might have been following. The room presented them with two exits, one to the north and one to the south. To the south, they saw light beneath the doorway and decided to proceed. They saw a hallway lined with torches, and a large floor to ceiling mirror 20 feet down on the right. In the distance, mummies started shambling closer. A few pot shots at them seemed to be deflected off something in midair, so Flint examined the mirror to the right while they were still fairly distant. He spotted it was a secret door, and asked Volodemir to open it.

This foiled the plans of the 6 hobgoblins and their captain waiting to ambush them, but also opened them up to a flanking attack. The mummies turned out to be more hobgoblins in crude disguises approaching from around a corner reflected by another mirror. The ensuing battle was fairly difficult, between the highly armored nature of the foes, the ability of their captain to inspire them, and their pack tactics. After some sleeps and a shatter, there was room to attack the leader, and Lynnya damaged him and Flint took no chances and unloaded his wand of magic missiles on him, taking him out. Dyn-bach cast a shield of faith on himself and Flint blessed his companions. At one point, he channeled divinity to preserve the lives of his companions who were close to death. Eventually, all 10 hobgoblins were taken out. Around the same time, the sound of a bear falling on someone was heard from behind, so there was no time to hang around. The party had to keep moving....

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Session 17: Of things that are not medusae

Having agreed to the demand of the Crom-priest, but lacking companions, as Dyn-Bach chickened out (preferring to room near petrifying chickens), Volodemir sought some help for investigating Sculpter's Dale. He found two willing souls -- Biggly, a wizard, and Dench, a barbarian. They said they'd help him, in return for a fair share of the treasure.

The Dale itself was difficult to find -- if orcish children had indeed been playing here, Volodemir was at a loss to explain how they had arrived there in the first place. A single valley had some narrow passages, but these opened up into a plush meadow, studded with statues of various sizes. The statues nearest the entrance were classically inclined, but those further in showed people in differing states of terror. Exploring the dale further, Dench found a depression, in which was a defile leading up and around the obvious entrance to whatever lay beyond.

The defile led into an unworked cavern, where several spider lay in wait for the adventurers, but they were quickly dispatched. Moving up, they found a rectangular room with a large gargoyle head opposite a door with scorch marks surrounding it. Dench and Biggly went to investigate the head, and set off a trap! The head blow out a gout of flame, hitting Biggly in the face, though Dench and Volodemir were able to avoid the brunt of it. They examined the trap after that, and found it would require a refill of fuel before it could activate again. Behind the scorched door they found a squad of mercenaries, who surrendered after half of them were killed in the first round. Volodemir let them live if they left. Going deeper in, they finally found the lair of the master of this dale. The wizard let loose with a spell that unleashed a foul mist, but it did not prevent Dench from burying his weapon in the mage's skull. In the magic-user's study, they found sculpting tools, a half-finished sculpture of a maiden screaming in terror, and a diary detailing his attempts to craft a spell that would turn living flesh to stone. Once they returned to Crom's temple, the priest was able to heal both the lazy Dyn-Bach and Volodemir from their curse. Some time remained until Volodemir was to meet Galathil and Flint at the Slaver's stronghold, and so they decided to explore rumors of a wizard's tower 12 miles north of Darkshelf.

The tower was tall, topped with a large sphere and surrounded by iron spires. Lightning struck with some frequency. The party went up to the door, where Dench grabbed one of the handles to open it. The handle turned into a snake and bit him! Fortunately, he shook off the poison, after which Volodemir suggested knocking. Upon using the knocker, the door swung open. The first floor was largely empty. Biggly found a trap door leading to a basement, The first room was filled with mysterious crates, marked by labels reading "The spine of a soldier who sold butterflies." The next room appeared to be a workshop of some sort. It contained several corpses, mirrors to the north, and a door to the south. To the south was a line of cells, and as the party moved to investigate, several apparitions attacked, but were swiftly dispersed by Volodemir's cloud of blades. Investigating the cells, there was little remaining in them other than corpses. One corpse, strangely preserved, seemed innocuous until something leaped out of it into Biggly's mouth! It had no visible effect, so the party shrugged and moved back into the workshop. There, they examined the elevator for a long time trying to figure out how it worked, until they turned the dial to reflect which floor they were on. Once they did, a shimmering disc appeared.

They initially took the disc to the top floor, which was dominated by a large telescope. Dench noticed the levers, and he went to pull on them while Volodemir and Biggly were distracted. He managed to destroy the telescope by extending it while the roof was still closed. Biggly was upset, but Volodemir calmed him down, and they went down into the lowest level. They found a treasure trove, but were blocked by several force fields. After convincing Dench not to smash the levers, they began to experiment. For a long time they were plagued by shocks whenever the fourth lever was up; eventually, the put it down, and that led them to eventually access the treasure. After all the tricks, they decided to quit while they were ahead, and went back to Darkshelf.

The night after returning, they celebrated. Two days later, Biggly was dead. Dench found the body, and when he looked to figure out how his friend had died, something leaped out of Biggly's mouth into Dench's. Dench died two days later. Volodemir burned the body, keeping his mouth closed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Session 16: An Interlude in D Minor

After the party returned to the surface, they parted ways. Galathil and Flint went to the east to scout out further leads. Volodemir and Dyn-Bach, on the other hand, decided to spend some more time in Darkshelf to try and get in good with some of the extra factions. A priest of Fayon, also part-time barber, named Irenicus told them that there were some issues with a graveyard just outside of town. It appeared some graves had been disturbed. Dyn-Bach decided it was a good quest for a paladin to take, and so the two of them headed out to investigate.

When they reached the graveyard, it was nightfall. They were immediately attacked by skeletons, which were quickly dispatched. The graves yielded no clues, but there were two crypts on the grounds. One was empty, but the other contained a passage leading to an underground complex. Following the passageway left led quickly to a priest apparently performing some ritual before a minotaur skeleton. The priest caused a miasma to arise in the room, but despite that, was quickly killed.

On the body of the priest was a note indicating a secret room where the priest stored his treasure. Eager for enrichment, they went to where the note showed, and found the room as indicated. Inside the room was a sarcophagus. But upon opening the coffin, they found what awaited them was a curse! A cloud of black smoke billowed out of the coffin, leaving them with coughing fits. Despite the coughing, they continued to explore, finding three more zombie infested rooms and clearing them out.

They returned to Irenicus, who thanked them, but told them he lacked the power to cure their illness. Disppointed, they turned to the priests of Crom, who was more than happy to help for a price. They had mentioned a vale earlier, with mysteriously life-like statues. Perhaps the two could investigate that, and in return, the priests would cure their illness? So Dyn-Bach and Volodemir turned to investigate.