Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The potions are one rainbow-colored syrup in an oversized (three-times as big) vial and a vial of cloudy liquid with blue flecks.
I'm mentioning this here so I don't forget to remind you guys to decide who has what the next time we meet, and to serve as an advisement. In the future, any magic item not listed on a PC's sheet will be considered lost to pickpockets, dungeon vermin, or have fallen out of a pouch when no one was paying attention. Please be careful with your magic; it is scarce.
As the adventurers spread out to cover them, Thud, Baragkus, and Anwar clambered up the high steps to discover a series of three 5’ tall stone posts, a pair of braziers filled with a pink, gravel-like substance, and a 10’ diameter iris hatch of the blue-white metal they’ve seen in other parts of the Black Gut. Anwar decided to light the braziers and each began to produce a heavy pink-white smoke that rolled out of the braziers’ dishes. The smoke collected in the center of the platform, settling to rest in the slightly concave surface that housed the iris hatch. Interesting.
Some poking and prodding of the stone posts determined that they could be depressed into the platform’s surface in the order of right to left. The first post caused a loud CHUNK to be heard from beneath the metal iris. The second opened the iris slightly, leaving a 6’’ diameter hole in the center. Anwar carefully climbed out upon the hatch and tried to peer down into the shadowy interior, but his torch was insufficient to determine what lay beneath it. His ears caught the sound of an unsettling slithering and clacking, however.
Returning back to the safety of the platform, Anwar, Thud, and Baragkus called for the rest of the party to join them atop the structure. There, the adventurers fanned out to cover the opening, as it was expected that the last post would open the hatch fully—and it did. Peering over the edge of the now completely dilated metal door, the party saw a 20’ deep shaft. At the bottom lay numerous bones…and four creatures that shared the characteristics of the beasts carved on the exterior of the platform. Tomb Herd!
Three seemed to be incapacitated or slumbering, their inert bodies wreathed by the thick pink-white smoke. A fourth was groggily clawing its way up the side of the shaft, looking determined to escape its captivity. The party’s archers unleashed a volley of arrows at the beast, injuring it and jarring it fully awake. It continued to climb, its featureless face somehow promising violence, but another volley of arrows inflicted more wounds, and it was barely alive as it clambered over the edge of the shaft and stood up to face the party’s fighting men.
These valiant warriors unleashed the flurry of blows and axe, hammer, and sword fell hard upon the creature. As they smote its black-bronze carapace, a thick yellow blood erupted from its wounds and splattered on Morg and Thud. The fighters grimaced as the vitae burned their flesh and armor, but continued their blows. Mars Markus moved quickly to sluice the acidic blood from his compatriots, and the Tomb Herd finally fell under their onslaught. It collapsed to the floor, the weight of its long tail dragging it back into the pit’s maw where it fell in a heap below.
The party discovered that they could close the hatch and spent some time healing the fighters’ wounds and debating their next course of action. The argument to continue their attack on the other, seemingly slumbering Tomb Herd won the day, and the hatch was reopened. A vial of oil was poured on the nearest critter and a torch dropped in after it. The subsequent blaze woke the creature and it writhed in pain at the bottom of the shaft before one of Lyrax’s arrows brought it down. Again, the hatch was sealed and the party debated moving on while their luck held. However, lessons learned in the battle with the fungal dead were quickly forgotten, and the band pressed its luck by opening the hatch a third time.
As they did, they looked down in horror to see that one of the Tomb Herd was now awake and crouched in preparation to launch itself from the pit. As it did so, missiles flew but missed and the fighting men prepared to meet the creature head on. The Tomb Herd’s jump took it up to the top of the shaft, but not out of it, and its clawed hands grasped the edge of the pit. Its barbed tailed lashed out at Morg, but he ducked the strike. The fighting men again swung their weapons but were unable to pry the creature loose. Anwar, sensing disaster, moved to push the post that would seal the creature inside the pit.
Unfortunately, the magic-user moved too slowly and the Tomb Herd launched itself out of the pit before the hatch closed shut. As it just cleared the closing hatch, the end of its tail was sliced off by the iris and it let out an unearthly shriek. It forced itself against the rudimentary shield wall the warriors formed at the pit’s edge, its tail lashing about, sending burning acid blood splattering everywhere (thanks for the idea, Pete!) but not enough to inflict great harm on the adventurers. Again, the fighting men confronted the beast as a solid wall, ducking and blocking its claws and secondary mouth as it snapped at them. But again, a Tomb Herd fell slain.
Choosing to press their luck one last time, the adventurers doused the strange corpse in oil and set it alight before pushing the post that would open the iris. As the hatch expanded, they saw the last Tomb Herd had awoken and was preparing to leap from the shaft…until the flaming corpse of its brethren landed atop it, scorching its hide and knocking it off balance. Missiles rained down upon it and Anwar prepared to slam the iris shut, hoping to recapture lighting in the bottle and bisect the creature as it closed. The beast leapt, sorely wounded, but it easily dodged the closing iris portal. Battle was forged anew and again the party prevailed (This last encounter is the first part of the video).
Their foes finally defeated, Mars Markus dispensed healing to those who had been injured in the melee, while the rest of the band examined the now reopened shaft. Baragkus prepared a rope, but the miasma of acid-scorched bones, lingering smoke, and burned Tomb Herd corpses deterred anyone from climbing down into the pit. No treasure could be seen from above, so it was decided that the party should press on. Leaving the room now referred to as the sacrificial chamber via the room’s other door, the party came upon a second four-way intersection. A chamber opened off to their left and a half-closed sliding door of the now ubiquitous blue-white metal stood to their right.
“When all else is uncertain, head left” being the party motto, they entered the chamber to discover a dilapidated barracks. Rusting iron frames which once held sleeping pallets and the greasy ashen remains of seven humanoid figures was all the room contained. Something seemed to have the power to render entire creatures down to ash. What and where is it? Although no answers were forthcoming, the party was able to confirm that the chamber was indeed connected to the first four-way intersection they had passed, but decided to return back to the half-closed door.
There, Baragkus overheard the sounds of snarling and the ripping of flesh, but could make out nothing in the gloom beyond the door. He attempted to shut the portal, being one to always explore his options, and discovered that it could indeed be closed, albeit with a great deal of noise. With the door now sealed—and the inhabitant(s) of the room now alerted—the party prepared for battle and reopened the door.
From out of the darkness loped a hairless, six-limbed monstrosity the size of a coyote. It’s seemingly sightless eyes took in the party’s presence and it snarled at Baragkus’ attempt to win its favor with softly spoken words. Then, with its jaws gaping wide, it lunged at the party. So fearsome was its aspect that Baragkus turned tail and ran back towards the barracks, leaving the rest of the party (who had all made the saves vs. death to avoid the fear effect) to face off against the hairless beast—hairless and apparently armorless as well, for it fell after a very brief skirmish.
After collecting Baragkus and fortifying Morg’s flagging spirits with bandages and wine, the party set in to exploring the room behind the sliding metal door. Mysterious rusted racks lined the walls, their original purpose unidentifiable. Perhaps they held armor or some other large objects in the dim past? The room smelled particularly foul, with “moldy undergarments” being the closest descriptor. In the northeast corner lay the partially devoured corpse of a Low Man and beside it lay a nest of greasy wool-like material. Amongst the bones and insect parts (some of which were quite large but no one chose to question that…heh heh heh), the party turned up three garnets of decent size. This was good enough for the party, so they left the chamber behind, eschewing the need to search for secret compartments or doors.
Heading further northward at the intersection, the adventurers discovered another just down the hall. To the left, the hallway angled off into darkness and a sealed sliding door stood on the right-hand wall. In the gloom ahead, the corridor ended in an open doorway with small heaps of rubble on the floor before it. Judging the rubble to be worth investigating, the party left the door alone for the moment, with Malbane the Green shuddering for some reason he passed it by.
The open doorway once housed a sliding blue-white metal door, but something had reduced that impervious metal to liquid slag, which had run and hardened on the corridor’s floor. Welded fast the stonework, the party was unable to gain a sample of it, something they’ve been eager to do, without chipping away at the stone itself and making an unholy racket.
The chamber beyond held a sunken floor which was surrounding and bisected by a 5’ high, 5’ wide walkway. Strange brass cartouches hung from the wall, the same three series of characters repeated over and over again. The writing was unidentifiable, but several of the characters resembled those discovered on the sand-scoured masonry out in the desert above. The sunken area of the room held several hexagonal fonts or basins, three of which still retains the hemispheres of smoked glass that had once covered them all, and a thin pink mist that curled around their stone bases. Two ramps ran down into the depressed areas and another sliding door exited the room to the north.
Despite their efforts, the party was unable to pry the cartouches off of the walls, and Morg’s investigations of the basins revealed that each held a strange coral-like material arranged in a bowl fashion. Whatever these things once held, it was long gone. Samples were taken of the material and it proved to be some kind of petrified organic vegetable or fungal material rather than proper coral. The party exited through the northern door, eyes peered and weapons held tight.
A long, dark passageway extended past the door, but the glimpse of a faint purple illumination peeked from around a bend in the hallway ahead. Edging forward, the party could discern three human voices speaking the common trade tongue. They seemed to be engaged in gambling and bemoaning the lack of apples to eat. Judging from their words, they had been down here for some length of time.
Anwar, ever the diplomat, was chosen to enter the room while the rest of the band waited around the corner, ready to jump in to rescue the sorcerer if things went amiss. With his hands empty and a big smile on his face, Anwar tried to get himself in on a game of Giant’s Knuckles, but the three ragged looking fighters seemed less than pleased to see him down in the dungeon. They let him know in no uncertain terms that “The Masters” didn’t want outsiders poking around in the Black Gut. When he was unable to provide the password to go along with his attempt to convince the trio he was supposed to be here, things headed pear-shaped real quick. With one last insult, Anwar fled around the corner, leading the three guards into the party’s trap.
In the subsequent melee, the warriors proved to be less than formidable in battle but unnaturally unwilling to surrender. A certain glazed look upon their determined faces suggested that they might not have been in complete possession of their free will. Despite the party’s desire to take one alive, the guards’ determination to battle resulted in all three being slain.
The party tossed the room and found that there were six bedrolls inside, meaning that another three of these yahoos were out there in the dungeon somewhere. They also discovered a leather scroll tube that held three sheets of paper covered in some form of cipher, but no treasure was to be found. Perhaps if they had checked the pile of firewood I kept mentioning…
With no other exits suggesting themselves, the band returned to the closed metal door back at the intersection and entered into the room beyond it. More of those purposeless iron racks lined the walls, but these had mounds of the same greasy wool-like material at their bases. However, the most interesting feature was the stone platform and console that stood at the far end of the chamber. The party edged into the room, but as they got within ten feet of the console, a low humming noise began to fill the air. When they closed to 5 feet away, a green glow started to emanate from the console and a snap of electricity leaped across its unseen surface. There was much apprehension about approaching closer, but Malbane, still kicking himself for bypassing the Temple of the Goat’s mysterious fruit and its CON increasing properties, stepped boldly forward.
Again, as he closed within 10 feet, a droning hum arose from the console, and at five feet, the green glow and the crackle of electricity returned. As he stepped to within two feet of the mysterious stone object, his hair began to stand on end and the scent of ozone hung heavy in the air. Unimpressed by these developments, he stepped upon the platform…and completed the circuit that sent a blast of electricity through his skinny frame. Three dice of damage, a failed saving throw, and two hit points at the best of times, resulted in the sorcerer—the longest surviving PC currently in the game—becoming a charred corpse that collapsed onto the ground.
Baragkus edged around the platform, carefully keeping his distance, to get a look at the far side of the console. There, he saw numerous small crystals embedded into the console’s face, some of which glowed green, but most of which were smoky brown in color, like those of a blown fuse. A large central crystal oscillated with illumination and its placement seemed to indict it as the culprit that killed Malbane. After the fighter returned to the rest of the party, they were able to lasso Malbane’s charred form and it was decided that a return to the surface was in order…
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Movement: 90’ (30’)
Armor Class: 4
Hit Dice: 3
Attacks: 3 or 1 (claw/claw/bite or tail sting)
Damage: 1d3/1d3/1d6 or 1d6+2 and paralysis
Hoard Class: None
The creatures known as the Tomb Herd hail from some grim, undiscovered place, and little is known of them besides their gruesome reproductive method. Although there seem to be several types of these creatures, the ones called Broodmares are (unfortunately) the most common. These creatures reproduce by laying eggs in fresh corpses and are usually encountered near tombs and mausoleums. When fresh corpses are hard to come by, the Broodmares hunt down living creatures, paralyze them with their sting, and then drag the incapacitated body back to their lair. Once safely tucked away, the Broodmares slay the host-to-be and fill its chest cavity with eggs.
Like a certain close resemblance, the Broodmares possess a highly acidic form of blood. Whenever an edged or piercing physical attack causing damage to a Broodmare, there is a chance that splash damage is inflicted upon those nearby as the acidic vitae sprays from the wound. Anyone within 5’ of a Tomb Herd Broodmare that takes damage must roll above the number of hit points sustained on a d20 or take 1d6 per 6 points of damage inflicted by the attack (round down) up to a maximum of 3d6. Armor and weapons must make a saving throw or be destroyed (metal: 7, leather: 10, cloth: 12, stone: 3). Floors and other surroundings must save as well against the acid damage. Broodmares takes half or no damage from electricity and cold. They are immune to mind-altering effects.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Fruit of the Maggu Mani:A mass of alien biological matter occupies the area in front of the statue, and small patches of the stone altar atop which this material grows can be glimpsed. This strange live resembles gooey yellow-purple polyps the size of cantaloupes. They grow in clusters like grapes and are covered with a slick, sticky film. This material is a plat native to Nihil and was brought down by the Overpriest to serve his nutritional needs. The strange fruit can be either profoundly stimulating to the human body—or a deadly poison. Anyone eating one of the polyps must save vs. poison. If failed, he perishes horribly. If the save is made, however, he gains 1 point of CON permanently. There are enough fruits here for ten (10) such meals. They rot quickly after being plucked (within 4 hours).
Milk of the Maggu Mani:This grey fluid is the milk of Ishnigarrab him/herself and produces strange effects on living tissue. Anyone who samples this liquid must make a save vs. poison. If successful, the drinker immediately gains the benefits of a full day’s food and heals 1d3 points of damage. If the save is failed, they undergo a spontaneous transformation. Roll on the table below:
1d4 sightless eyes grow on the drinker’s hands
A second mouth sprouts from the drinker’s throat. This mouth can only make whimpers and horrid smacking sounds.
Hair follicles secrete urine regularly
Drinker’s mouth fills with puss-containing blisters and boils. Drinker can breathe through nose but cannot eat or drink.
Wormlike tendrils sprout from the drinkers nostrils.
Drinker’s body absorbs a random body part – 1: left arm; 2: right arm; 3: left leg; 4: right leg; 5: sex organs (male) or breasts (female); 6: head (this is fatal).
Roll each time the liquid is drunk, rerolling on duplicated results. If the character is afflicted by all six effects and continues to consume the liquid, each additional failed save results in the PC losing 1d4 points from a random ability score. Any score reduced to 0, the character is reduced to a viscous puddle of proto matter and is slain.
Once a save is failed, the drinker develops a craving for the liquid and will continue to sample it unless prevented by physical restraint. Once the character has drank the liquid a number of times equal to 20 minus his CON, his cravings are permanently satiated—provided he survives the process.
To create a new spell, the player describes in detail the kind of spell he wants to create, and the effect it has. The referee will then decide if the spell can be created, and if so what the spell level will be. The character must be capable of casting spells of the spell level the potential new spell will be, otherwise the player must wait until the character attains a high enough level to research and cast the spell. If the character can create the spell, it will take one week and 1,000 gp per spell level.
Scrolls can be created for spells the caster already “knows” (i.e. have in their spell or prayer book) at the cost of 100 gp and 1 week’s work for each spell of the first level, 200 gold pieces and 2 weeks for a second level spell, etc.
No attempt to create a magic item, spell or other effect happens without some chance of failure. There is a minimum probability of 15% that any such endeavor fails, and this percentage can be raised depending on the circumstances. The player will roll for failure only after the character has spent the money and time on the project, and these are lost regardless of the result. When rolling to determine failure, a high roll (85-00) indicates failure.
One last little quirk: the time required to create scrolls or research spells is in REAL time, not game time. Thus, if your magic-user decides at the end of the game session that he wishes to scribe a 1st level scroll, he will be out of play the following week as he scribbles away. He will return to the game at the session after that with scroll in hand. I realize that this may cause the amount of game time required to research a spell or scribe a scroll to vary wildly, but that’s magic for you.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Play resumed with the party discoursing on their post-Temple of the Goat expedition options, and it was clear from the beginning that the much hinted at Black Gut would be the next site to explore and loot. Both Fanta and Domdull had briefly visited those ebony catacombs and could guide the party to the site. However, it would take a laden party of explorers just over two days travel on foot to reach the place. With this in mind, the party decided that a large portion of their recently-acquired treasure would be spent on riding horses and associated equestrian accoutrements. Eight hundred gold jitais later, the party was now a mounted band.
Due to various obligations, instruction, and a case of the briefly incapacitating “camel flu,” Bannath, Syl, and Kyrinn would be left back in Rhuun while the rest of the party headed off to the Black Gut. The services of the two mule-skinners, Ahm and Yazil, were again required and the grizzled pack masters readily agreed to watch the party’s mules and horses for the princely sum of five smerduks a day. Despite the off-and-on presence of Bannath, Syl, and Kyrinn in town, Mars Markus grew uneasy about leaving a portion of the party’s recently plundered loot behind in their rented home. The cleric visited the temple of Mog with the intent of speaking with the Spider Mother to see if she could recommend some devout worshippers who were both skilled in the art of warcraft and could be trusted to keep an eye on the party’s abode. Two former infantry men were spoken of highly and the duo are now employed for the next month as caretakers and guardians of the party’s leased abode.
With final details attended to, the party, consisting of Anwar, Baragkus, Domdull, Fanta, Habdazar, Lyrax, Malbane the Green, and Mars Markus, plus two recently hired fighting men, Morg Kelden and the onomatopoetically named Thud, struck out on the Lizard’s Tongue trade route headed east-southeast.
Their trip along the broad, paved road was uneventful and they soon found themselves at head of a well-used trail which headed south into the desert. Nearby, they could make out a large boulder which the desert winds had eroded away, giving it a crude resemblance to a four-fingered hand pointing towards the resting place of the Black Gut. Venturing into the shifting sands of the Desert of Demons proper, the party left the Lizard’s Tongue behind them, their eyes constantly casting about for signs of danger. They detected nothing but rocky waste, blowing sand, and low hillocks.
When they paused to break for a meal, however, Fanta’s sharp pupiless eyes caught sight of sharp angles which stood out amongst the dun-colored sand. Some hundred yards east of where the party ate, a pile of fallen masonry broke the surface of the sand. These wind-scoured stones seems to have once been a wall or foundation to a long-vanished structure and the party moved closer to investigate. Carefully skirting the pile, they found no signs of danger, but a few eroded sigils were inscribed on the side of one of the blocks. Stepping closer, they were able to make our three sigils or letters inscribed in the stone. In faded chalk beneath them were letters or phonetic transcriptions in the Common tongue. The spell-casters grew excited at this discovery, as sorcerers are wont to do when archaic signs are uncovered, and they made plans to transcribe these images for later study…and promptly realized that not one of them had any ink or other method of legibly reproducing the signs. Some very humorous mnemonics were suggested (“O.K., the pony tail is ‘A’, the egg is ‘G’ and the two rivers by the hill is ‘H,’ we got that?” “I was just going to remember it as “aaaagggghhhhh.”) until the idea of carving the symbols into the shaft of one of their many torches was hit upon. Lyrax, the deftest of hand, was chosen to inscribe the sigils into the wood and did so with excellent results. Now the party must remember not to inadvertently light that torch…
Heading south again, the party nervously passed through a gap in the hills which closely resembled the ravine where a certain astromech droid was once ambushed by robe-clad vermin, but emerged without incident. As they left the defile, they did spot a Debouin well amongst the rocks and confirmed that it held clean, potable water beneath its capstone. Knowing the fatal penalty for destroying or contaminating a well in the desert, the party wisely made a note of its location and continued on. The low hills before them were quickly reached and there, in a mile-wide depression ringed by the rocky hillocks, sat a large outcrop of stone that unknown hands had shaped into an odd skull-like form. Descending into the vale, the party hobbled their mounts and prepared to delve into the Black Gut. Yazil and Ahm were a little nervous about being left in the middle of the desert all alone—after all, at the last place they had a stout wall between them and any hungry beasts on the prowl. Fanta stepped forward and delivered a rousing inspiration speech (rolling a “2” on the reaction table) and the two men’s fears were quickly laid to rest. Unfortunately, this conundrum roused doubts in Anwar about leaving two hired men to watch over more than 800 jitais of livestock by themselves. The sorcerer and Thud decided to remain to both guard the muleskinners and keep a close eye on them.
The rest of the band stepped into the gloom of the skull and found a sharply angled flight of stairs descending into the earth. Lighting torches and lanterns, they ventured down. After 70 or more feet and several corkscrew turns of the stairs, they detected a lavender glow coming from below. Continuing, they soon stepped into a small angular chamber that held a shallow reflecting pool and an artistic statue comprised of interlocking spheres, triangles, and rectangles. In the center of the pool burned a brazier, but the flames that flickered in its bowl were of purple hue. A puzzling fire indeed. Hurried examinations turned up nothing, but corridors to both the north and east were present, with another dim lavender light coming from the northern passage. It was in the direction that the party ventured.
A short flight of steps was discovered, and the party rose to a small landing followed by another short rise of stairs. As Baragkus and Morg cleared the second set of steps, a crossbow twanged from ahead of them and loud guttural shouts were raised. Silhouetted by the purple light, the fighters saw two humanoid figures taking cover at the entrance to a large chamber. Raising their weapons and voices in battle cries, Baragkus and Morg charged ahead…
And discovered that the two guards they had engaged were just a small portion of the ten Low Men who had made the chamber their camp.
Things looked bad for the brash adventurers, but they quickly brought down the two they faced. Lyrax, drawing back his longbow, stepped forward and aimed through the gap that Baragkus and Morg had carved. He then unleashed a flurry of arrows at the primitive Low Men, cutting down three before his fourth arrow failed to find his target! The gods of war smiled upon the archer that day and an eruption of cheers ran through the party.
Their number cut in half during the first few seconds of battle was not enough to stem the Low Men’s desire to fight and the two sides closed swiftly. Luckily for the party, most of the creatures had been eating when they were so rudely interrupted by uninvited guests and at least two of the beasts were forced to fight with gnarly claws and a haunch of meat in lieu of bronze and flint weapons. Nevertheless, those claws were almost enough to slay Morg as one of the Low Men wrapped his hands around the fighter’s throat. Mars Markus was encountering other difficulties on the other side of the chamber. As he rushed forward to spear an opponent, his feet stumbled over a pile of greasy sleeping furs and the spider cleric tumbled face first into the purple campfire upon which the Low Men had been cooking their meal! This was our second fumble of the campaign and, due to their infrequency, proves that the fumble system I’m using is much more preferable to myself than the standard “natural 1” method used by so many other games.
Despite these setbacks, the remaining Low Men were quickly dispatched, leaving the adventurers free to strip their corpses and the chamber of any wealth. Unfortunately for the party, there was nothing to be found on the bodies but shiny rocks, odd scraps of metal (“cave man cash”) and spoiled oats, wheat, and water in casks and crates. The one thing that drew their interest was the purple campfire and what colored it, but as far as they could tell, it was nothing but a crude blaze kindled to cook meat and illuminate the diners. They extinguished the blaze before they left, however, and thereby avoided the encounter with Smoky the Bear that I had planned. And no, I won’t reveal if I’m joking or not.
Returning to the entrance chamber, they ventured to the east where a crossroads offered many choices. Down the eastern corridor, two doors awaited them: an iron-bound door of wood to the south and a stout solid iron portal at the far end of the passage. As the southern door was closest, it was that one which they entered.
The room beyond was of the same ubiquitous ebony stone, but some unknown hand had painted red tiger stripes across the chamber’s walls and covered the floor in a thin layer of black gravel. A corridor exited the room directly across from the doorway and two thin brass strips were affixed to either side of the passage. Suspecting a trap, the party carefully shifted the gravel as they crossed the chamber but nothing untoward occurred.
Reaching the far passage, they were able to make out the words inscribed on the brass plates: “Pride goes before the fall, but the penitent man is well received.” Judging this to be a clue as to how to proceed safely down the corridor, the adventurers dropped down on their hands and knees and began to painfully crawl across the gravel-strewn floor. Making their way down the passage, they discovered that it abruptly ended in a semi-circular terminus, one occupied by a grim idol set atop a stone platform. The idol depicted a hulking gorilla-like body with a rotting head, gaping mouth, and single baleful eye. As they were prone upon the floor, Baragkus detected a small stone button located beneath the idol’s raised foot. However, the fighter was loathe to press it. Morg was less hesitant and volunteered to prod the device to see what would occur. This resulted in the rest of the party fleeing the chamber and taking cover in the hallway outside, leaving the fighting man alone in the passage.
With a muttered prayer, the button was pushed and a soft click was heard. Looking up, Morg noticed that the semi-circular wall behind the statue had shifted slightly to reveal an open area behind it. Testing the idol’s platform carefully, he discovered that the entire end of the corridor turned on a pivot to grant access to a hidden chamber. Peering in cautiously, he could make out a ruined poster bed, decrepit wardrobe, upholstered chairs spilling stuffing onto the floor, and rickety tables. The far wall also bore a greasy ash silhouette of a humanoid form. Another exit left the room through the eastern wall.
After the rest of the party emerged from safety at Morg’s summoning, they carefully inspected the room. Most of its contents were in poor condition, but Mars Markus discovered an offering jug made of iron and fashioned in the shape of the gorilla idol’s head beneath the collapsing bedstead. Inside were few hundred smerduks and copper groats.
The room now thoroughly search—or so they believed—the party propped the secret door open with a somewhat sturdy ottoman before venturing down the eastern passage. The corridor ended in another bound door, this one sealed with a stout lock. Their attempts at lockpicking unsuccessful, the adventurers returned to the decaying bedchambers in search of a key. There they stripped the room down to brass tacks before discovering an iron key with a ragged black ribbon tied to it lost amongst the sleeping furs of the bed. This key did indeed open the locked door and the party passed beyond it.
A long narrow chamber confronted them and the smell of smoke was heavy in the still air. Dual rows of five pillars made of a blue-white metal ran the length of the room, which ended in another half circle wall. A low platform, some 10’ in diameter and decorated by an indistinct design, stood at the far end of the room. However, as the party approached this platform for a better look, a ball of thick grey smoke appeared near the ceiling in the center of the chamber. It swirled angrily and began to grow. It would appear that the adventurers had stumbled upon the Smoke Monster’s vacation home and now had to pay the price!
Not taking any chances, Habdazar unleashed a magical bolt at the beast which caused the smoky presence to howl in pain or frustration. The column of smoke screamed down upon the party, slamming into Morg and Baragkus, inflicting moderate injuries upon the fighting duo. Their blades seemed to have no effect on the eerie thing and, as the smoke slalomed through the chamber’s columns to line up another attack, the party fled the room, locking the door behind them.
Returning to the bedchambers, a quick debate ensued about what to do next. They heard no more noise from the pillared chamber after the door was shut and noted that the smoke beast did not appear until after they began moving towards the platform in the southern end of the room. The desire to make another attempt to reach that platform was strong, and the point that Habdazar’s magic attack had seemed to damage the creature was brought up. Fanta announced that he too had such a bolt memorized and was prepared to launch it against the creature—from behind the protection of Domdull’s shield, of course. Malbane, on the other hand, had other ideas and began scouring the ashen silhouette from the chamber’s wall with the intent to burn it. He surmised that the creature and the mark were somehow interconnected.
It was decided that one last attempt should be made against the smoky guardian and a portion of the band prepared to reenter the room. Mars Markus carefully stepped into the room and demonstrated that the creature had not only vanished but that, so long as the party remained at the northern end of the room, it would not reappear. The party reorganized themselves for maximum defense and then edged their way towards the platform. No sooner had they begun, the roiling smoky ball reappeared near the ceiling and began to swell.
Fanta pointed at the sphere and blasted it with his magical dart, but although it too seemed to injure the creature, the guardian continued to materialize and the adventurers fled immediately after, once again sealing the portal in their wake. Malbane had meanwhile succeeded in burning the ashen residue of the silhouette, but this seemed to have no effect on the smoke monster.
These events were sufficient to induce the party to move along to other unexplored areas and, after they “remove[d]the ottoman and reset the monkey,” they gathered at the iron door they had noticed earlier with the intent to breach it. The metal portal exhibited a keyhole beneath the handle and much effort was made peering through the hole, trying the recently-discovered key, and inserting slim blades into the lock before the adventurers realized that no one had determined if the door was actually secured. With red faces, the door handle was turned and it opened easily.
A high-ceilinged room awaited behind the door, its sole decoration being a three stepped platform of glossy black stone which rose 20’ above the floor. Three stone plinths stood atop the platform and a pair of iron braziers flanked these protrusions. The surface of the platform was inscribed with blocky pictograms that depicted humanoid forms with elongated heads, writing tails, and claws. Malbane immediately recognized the forms as being stylized representations of the Tomb Herd although they lacked wings. Another door exited the room at the northern end of the same wall through which the entered. Uneasily, the party stepped into the room…
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Played by: Jud
STR: 15 (+1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 7 (-1 missile, +1 AC, -1 initiative)
INT: 8 (partial literacy)
WIS: 6 (-1 to save vs. magic)
CHA: 7 (+1 to reaction, 3 retainers, 6 loyalty)
Hit Points: 8
Armor Class: 5 (6)
Special Traits/Abilities: None
Weapons: War hammer
Armor: Rusty chain mail
Magic Items: None
Objects of questionable value:
Experience: 595 (+5%)
Last Update: 7/04/10
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Played by: Dave
STR: 13 (+1 to hit, damage, open doors)
DEX: 13 (+1 missile, -1 AC, +1 initiative)
CON: 7 (-1 hp)
CHA: 4 (+1 to reaction, 2 retainers, 5 loyalty)
Hit Points: 5
Armor Class: 2 (3)
Special Traits/Abilities: I Know Something (Existance and rough location of the Broken Kingdom)
Weapons: Battle Axe, longbow
Armor: Banded mail & Shield
Magic Items: None
Objects of questionable value:
Experience: 1768 (+5%)
Last Update: 7/28/10