Every now and then, especially in long campaigns, there comes a meeting when paperwork simply needs to be done. With the massive haul from last session now burning a hole in the PCs’ pouches, we spent the first half of this session re-equipping, cashing in jewelry, arranging for letters of credit, and scheduling training for the party. Finally, with two hours left in our scheduled session, we got down to dungeoneering.
After attending to business, the party headed to the keep to report the success of their mission to Say’skel the Mottled. The magic-wielding seneschal was pleased to learn that the hobgoblin menace of Stonehell had been eradicated (although the question of whether reinforcements are on their way remains unanswered for the moment) and awarded each of the party the agreed upon 100 gold marks.
The magic-user produced an almanac from his library and was quickly able to convert the date listed in the captured missives to that of the common calendar. The 18th day of Bile and Horn, the date of the meeting with the human traitor, “J”, and the hobgoblin warlord, corresponds to the 25th day of The Bloom, which was only five days away. If the party wanted to arrive at the Citadel of Iron Might and Furious Devotion in time to strike down the hobgoblin command and capture the traitor, a boat ride was in order. Luckily, the Mottled Mage had the resources to arrange such a journey and informed the group that their ship would be leaving in two days.
With some time to kill (and a generous offer from yours truly to reduce training times if they were brave enough to risk their lives one last time before leveling), the party decided to take a day trip back to Stonehell and see if they could expand their map of the place. After Krunk’s suggestion to ransack the Quiet Halls was outvoted, the party decided to travel to the third level of the massive delve, leaving the berserker to sulk in the rear ranks of the party—he wasn’t willing to risk his life on point if he didn’t get his way.
The party reached the dungeon without incident, although the angry chittering of rats was heard when they paused to hide their ladder in their usual disused room. Looking to test their steel against more challenging foes, the party ignored the rodents and headed towards the one staircase they knew reached deeper into the dungeon. This would put them back in the halls so firmly held by the kobolds and their hired goons.
But the dungeon had a small surprise for them. The party has become pretty blasé about their route to and from the lower levels, expecting it to remain the same outside of the occasional wandering monster. Imagine their surprise when they discovered that the portcullis chamber through which they so often pass now showed the signs of others busy at work in the dungeon.
In the middle of the room, an iron spike had been driven into the floor and a 5’ length of rope attached to it. The line ran toward the south exit, a passage which was known to contain a covered pit. The rope looked as if it had been cut, but there were no other signs of violence or activity. Is there some other group at large in the dungeon, one whom the Society has not yet met, or is this the work of the denizens of Stonehell?
Putting this conundrum behind them, the party moved towards the stairs again, their eyes and ears straining for danger—and sure enough, they found it. As they approached the guard room by the stairs, they discovered that the bugbears had been replaced by a hulking brute with a massive club in his enormous fist. An ogre!
“Hi! What’cho want?” it inquired.
“Get ready to die,” said Krunk from the safety of the rear ranks. The ogre scowled and charged.
Before it could close upon the characters, Mars Markus produced his holy symbol and the creature found itself bound in the celestial web of Mog, held fast where it stood. With the threat now neutralized, Krunk decided it was safe to attack the brute and strode into the room…only to discover the ogre had pet!
From out of the gloomy corner of the room came a long, sticky tongue that wrapped itself around the berserker and began dragging Krunk to the waiting mouth of a giant toad. The rest of the party, unaware of the lurking danger, charged towards the ogre and began to hack away at its unmoving mass.
Back in the corner, Krunk tried to step away from the warty amphibian, straining against the pull of its adhesive tongue so that he might better employ the pole-arm he bore. With immense effort, he resisted the pull of the tongue, but was much displeased to learn that he had only succeeded in pulling the toad towards him.
Meanwhile, the rest of the band had dispatched the poor defenseless ogre who had only wanted to make some new friends.
As the rest of the party rushed to the barbarian’s aid, the ogre’s pet toad was unable to breach the berserker’s armor and, after a few more moments of battle, Krunk brought down the head of his Bohemian Ear Spoon onto the creature to dispatch it. The party stood triumphant in the shadowy dungeon room. When a quick search of the ogre’s body turned up nothing of value, they pressed on toward the lower levels.
Nothing stood baring their passage on the second level, so it was an easy enough matter to descend the second set of steps to reach the third and completely unexplored level. After some debate over whether the party had indeed discovered the third level and not the fourth (thanks to a small error by the referee), the band began to explore the area in earnest.
The stairs had terminated in a 50’ square chamber with exits in the north, east, and south walls. A pool of dirty, dank water stood in the center of the room. At the middle of the pool, situated atop a low platform, was a 10’ cube that stood on one corner. Ignoring this piece of window dressing, the party scouted each exit. To the north, the corridor opened into a small chamber, one that seemed to bear several statues. To the east, the corridor turned both north and south after a small distance. To the south, the passage abruptly headed west.
Choosing the southern route, the party quickly came across a high-ceilinged room whose upper reaches were shrouded in old webbing. Ancient debris lay scattered across the floor, but the room was otherwise empty. After several tests seemed to indicate that the ceiling webs were empty of arachnid occupants, Mock and Hoover were sent ahead with a 10’ pole to explore the room and the passage which exited through the far wall. Their probing found no traps or treasure and the corridor beyond ran to the extent of their infravision before seeming to open into a larger space. Regrouping, the party pushed on.
At the corridor’s end, they found a roughly wedge-shaped room that bore numerous pillars, a staircase leading deeper into the dungeon, and a pair of imposing looking double-doors. Hoover’s eyes were able to detect the signs of regular traffic to and from these stairs, leaving the party to suspect they had found a major traffic thoroughfare between dungeon levels. Mock placed an ear carefully against the door but detected nothing. Not willing to try the door or risk the stairs (and possibly the fourth level), the party gave the room a quick going over before returning back to the entrance room of the current level.
Returning there, the party now headed east to discover that the southern turn in the passage ended in a door, while the northern bend lead to an oval room that contained another of those strange obelisks covered in arcane writing. As with the one they had found on the second level, the air here was much fresher and the floor was bare of any dust or dirt. Careful searching found nothing of interest so the band returned to the door they had passed.
Passing through the valve, the party discovered a 30’ square room, one completely bare of decoration or contents. Suspicious, Mock cautiously probed the floor with his pole, edging his way around the walls. Suddenly, his pole depressed a loose stone and the party watched in amazement as an entire 20’ square section of floor flipped over to reveal a trio of bunks, a table and chairs, and an empty fire pit all affixed to the underside of the room’s floor. Whether the purpose of these inviting, yet secret furnishings was provide comfort or danger was unknown, so the party gave them a wide berth…for now.
Since we had run out of time for the session, and an absent player would be returning the following week, the party decided to beat feet back to Blackpool and allow those party members who had acquired the needed experience to rise in level to train. Next week will either see another quick trip back to the dungeon before they head upriver to battle the hobgoblins in their own home or witness the party heading directly to the docks to set sail. Let me know what’s more likely so that I can put my limited prep time to its best use.