Archive for April, 2011

Deeper Dungeon Delving

Not all halflings look like Frodo... but this one does

Boris’ shadow scouted ahead, to find the source of the shrieking, though for reasons unknown to the party he didn’t resurface.  The medusa and cleric decided to head back to retrieve the dwarf without the centaur or minotaur noticing, but before the remaining party could get much further then their halfling friend turned up, apparently bored of waiting on the surface with the dwarf.  Believing they had a big enough group to face any further challenges, the group consisting of the minotaur, centaur, halfling and Steve continued down to the next level, where the screams had come from earlier.  Luckily the steps widened for the minotaur, and the party found themselves in a huge cavern with giant pillars supporting the ceiling, as well as the lack of one of the walls being extremely noticeable as it revealed the fiery glow of the interior of the volcano.  Letting the monkeys go first (Steve and the halfling), the minotaur and centaur stayed back in case of trouble.
Sneaking slowly, the first thing the halfling noticed was a hidden door built into the wall which he made a mental note of for later.  It didn’t take long before he discovered the stairs to the next level as well, and on the other side of the room he could see lots of rubble from the roof caving in, as well as what appeared to be a sleeping creature in the corner.  Telling Steve about his discoveries, the monkey attempted to communicate to him that he should investigate further but to no avail.  With the halfling looking at the monkey’s gesturing with a blank stare, a burst of magic nearby revealed the familiar figure of Zartok the Magnificent.  Checking his surroundings before announcing himself, he discovered he was in a cavern inside a volcano, and got himself involved in the monkeys conversation.  Understanding Steve perfectly, Zartok the Magnificent was told to send the halfling further to investigate, which he did willingly.  Steve climbed up a pillar for safety, and Zartok the Magnificent came up with the idea of casting Light on one of the centaur’s arrows, and shooting it in the floor near the creature to get a better view.  The plan worked, and it was now clear that the creature was an aberration, appearing to be a pair of wings attached to five heads on tentacles.  The light caused the creature to stir slightly, so the party moved into a position to be ready for battle.  Sure enough, the creature unfurled and started levitating, letting out a blood curdling scream that paralysed the halfling and Steve with fear.  It then advanced to the others, who were starting to get a little distracted by the scent of the organic waste they found themselves near.  All were also aware that after the scream, there was a noise coming from the volcano- a high pitch squeaking and some fluttering.   Luckily the halfling was now out of sight of the creature as it passed behind a pillar, and so he moved to a better vantage position- i.e the exit- as the minotaur charged in, overtaken by Zartok the Magnificent’s Lightning Bolt as the centaur ran to flank it, and with a skilful shot managed to sever one of it’s heads.  Much to the minotaur’s horror, however, the wounds were already starting to heal and it appeared the stump of it’s head was starting to split in two as it regenerated- so the minotaur quickly cauterised the tentacle to stop it’s head regrowing.  Meanwhile, the fluttering and crackling noise of fire was getting closer as what first appeared to be a huge creature of fire was quickly revealed to be a flock of smaller fire creatures.  Leaving the raging minotaur to carve up the shrieking five-headed terror (yes that is their actual name), the centaur turned her attention to the flock as Zartok the Magnificent cast an Ice Storm on them, which seemed to serve its purpose as the flock left as quickly as they had come.  Nearing death, the terror let out another shriek, enough to paralyse Zartok the Magnificent and Steve still further, but it was too little too late as the minotaur dealt the killing blow, breaking the fear-stricken characters free of their enchantment.  Cautious to stop the creature from healing itself, the minotaur made sure to chop up its body as finely as possible and throw it into the heart of the volcano, piece by piece.
As the battle had raged, the halfling who originally intended to retreat to the next level instead let his curiosity get the better of him, investigating the hidden door.  The door opened freely, and didn’t appear to be trapped, and inside was a tiny alcove which contained a metallic chest, covered in runes.  The halfling had encountered magical traps before, and dealt with these swiftly- rubbing some dirt against the runes to make them fade, and he opened the chest easily to find nothing but a tiny ring in the corner of it- too small for his own fingers, despite his already small size.  Luckily as he was analysing it then it expanded to fit his finger, and as he put it on he noticed there was an empty socket on it that looked like it should contain a gemstone of some sort.
The battle had finished by now, and as the minotaur was dessicating the corpse, Zartok the Magnificent was detecting any magic amongst the organic waste which he realised that although it was mostly faeces, it also contained ancient kitchen waste and was apparently from the hole above that led to the kitchens and mess on the previous level.  The centaur, meanwhile, had noticed the halfling had gone missing and, having easily spotted the hidden door, she went to it to try and catch him in the act of looting secretly from the party.  Sure enough, he was still in there, but it was far too cramped for her to see what he was doing.  Letting him out, she confronted him over what he found, and he freely admitted he had found a ring, which he let the wizard identify.  The wizard’s eyes lit up with recognition, and informed the halfling that it was a ring of spell storing, demonstrating by imbuing it with three magic missiles, which caused blue swirls to appear in the place of the gemstone.  He gave it back to the halfling, saying that the halfling could now use these magic missiles whenever he liked but once they’re gone they’re gone.  The party thought that once the spells are used, it may be best in the hands of the cleric when she returned, but until then the halfling could wear it, and so the group continued on to the next level, Zartok the Magnificent teleporting away once more, perhaps for the best as he had used up his daily allotment of powerful spells.
The next level contained another large room, this one better constructed and full of graves- better kept than the ones on the surface, each with inscribed plaques implying these were noble’s graves, and again one of the walls was open to the volcano- this time with a bridge starting to enter it.  Once again, the two monkeys went on ahead- Steve keeping close to the walls and the halfling navigating carefully around the graves, taking a seemingly erratic path to avoid traps (in truth he was just using his gut instinct).  Every step the minotaur and centaur were expecting a trap to go off, and were rather amused by the halflings display, and sure enough when the halfling reached about two thirds of the way across, three graves started to open, with what appeared to be zombies emerging.  Deciding this wasn’t worth their time, the minotaur and centaur ran to the bridge, but stopped short when they saw the stone bridge became wood a little further on, and the fire bats were starting to swoop in again.  Deciding not to risk burning their only way across, the minotaur decided these zombies would be an easy win so concentrated on them as the centaur attempted to pick off the bats before they posed any problems.  The first zombie lunged for the halfling, but failed miserably, breaking what was left of his leg in the attempt.  The halfling defended himself as the other zombies shambled closer, but seemingly transforming befor ethe halflings eyes, the creature seemed to be speeding up, a large worm crawling around its face and suddenly all three of the undead were moving at twice the speed of zombies.  It still wasn’t enough to touch the halfling, so he ran as far from the creature as possible, as the minotaur starting dealing with the other two.  Whilst dealing a lot of damage, it wasn’t enough to fell them, and after a couple of lucky hits one of the undead’s worms leapt from it to the minotaur, wrapping itself around his shoulder.  The minotaur ignored it for now, concentrating on the larger creatures still trying to slam him whilst also batting off the fire bats that were starting to head towards him, the centaur and Steve still helping pick them off where possible.  The halfling was still undergoing his battle with one of the undead creatures, and sure enough this one’s worm transferred itself to the halfling, attaching itself to his side, and both the halfling’s and the minotaur’s worms started burrowing into their skin, slowly climbing to their heads.  The minotaur finally managed to fell the creatures, and called Steve over to remove this worm that was now climbing his neck as he carried on hitting the bats.  It didn’t take long for the bats to decide they were beat, and started retreating into the volcano once more, leaving the halfling to slash wildly at the zombie as the centaur killed it with a single shot.  The halfling quickly used his dagger to remove the worm, throwing it into the volcano, and Steve did the same for the minotaur’s worm, the minotaur luckily able to grab hold of it inside his face before it could burrow to his brain.

After the battle, the open graves were searched where amongst the usual pile of coins were two scrolls and some gloves.  The halfling identified the scrolls, one being a scroll of Cure Serious Wounds (identified by the large green cross on it), and the other being a scroll of Wind Walk.  The halfling was instantly relieved, deciding to use the healing scroll immediately, but perhaps he was a little too hasty as something wasn’t going quite right- in fact, rather than healing him as intended, he instead somehow managed to transfer the glowing green cross from the scroll and onto his head, giving him an eerie green glow- a little too eerie for the minotaur, who became convinced the worm must have burrowed to the halfling’s brain, and so killed him on the spot.  After some digging through his pockets, and reclaiming the ring, the centaur knowing there’s not much that can be done for the halfling, the body was disposed of in the volcano, and the pair (and Steve, who was luckily looking the other way when the halfling was killed) continued.
The stone bridge was easy enough to cross, but for whatever reason the creators of the dungeon decided it would be a good idea to have a flimsy wooden bridge crossing the main part of the volcano.  Wishing they had the cleric with them, with her scroll of Tenser’s Floating Disc, the group reluctantly continued- Steve running across easily, taking minimal damage from the intense heat, and followed by the centaur.  The centaur decided to take things relatively slowly, deciding against the force that would be exerted if she jumped, and whilst it worked for about twenty feet she found a particularly weak part and got her leg stuck when her hoof went through it.  She pulled herself free, and hurried over to the other side, still sweating from the heat.  Finally, it was the minotaur’s turn.  Seeing that the centaur broke through the bridge by walking down the middle, the minotaur instead decided to waddle across, supporting himself by bracing his legs on either side.  This seemed to work for a short time, until the bridge gave under his enormous weight and left him hanging on the side.  Luckily he managed to pull himself up onto the bridge again, and this time he could use his magic rope to attach to the other side, swinging him to safety (though singing his fur slightly from the heat).  Finally, they reached the other side, finding a mysterious metallic corridor, with faint glowing runes lining the sides.
The minotaur went first this time- crawling on his belly, getting burnt from the heated metal, but avoiding the possibly trapped runes, then followed the centaur- walking calmly though cautiously down the corridor, apparently not triggering the runes at all.  They then reached a curious door, which opened easily but the room behind seemed to shift as they watched.  A wardrobe appeared in one corner, and a pile of humanoid bones in another.  In the centre of the room was a small fire pit, with a tiny ember in the bottom.  Three doors led away from the room- one shut but unbolted, one strong and stuck, and the other strong but open.  The centaur and minotaur decided to take turns opening doors, so first inspecting the unbolted door, the centaur felt a needle prick into her hand as she touched the handle, feeling poison entering her body but easily shrugged off, and on the other side were what appeared to be ant people- Formians.  They hadn’t appeared to notice her, so the door was shut and the next door investigated.  The minotaur attempted to trick the centaur by re-opening the wardrobe, but the centaur wouldn’t fall for it, so the next proper door was opened.  Behind this one lay a spirit naga, who again didn’t notice them.  The minotaur immediately shut this door, not intending on reopening it due to his fear of snakes, and so the final door was tested- it didn’t budge, and when the minotaur rammed it it swung open, revealing a solid metal room with an inscription on the wall and a tall stone man who was looking at them.  Apparently the door was stuck because he was stood behind it, and before he could say anything the minotaur shut the door in his face.  After a small discussion, the door to the metal room was opened by the stonechild who explained that he wasn’t one of the monsters, and had been trapped in this strange complex for some time- several months in fact- and had no recollection of how he arrived there.  The minotaur and centaur decided he couldn’t be one of the monsters, as he wasn’t attacking and could leave his room, so he was invited to stay with the party for a while.  Being the only literate member of the group (Steve not wanting to show his sentience to a stranger), the centaur investigated the writing on the wall which read as follows:
‘When mortals beat nature’s wrath, the way forward will be clear.  Any other obstacles are but an illusion.’
Interestingly, the words shifted as she read, seemingly able to be read in all languages understood by the reader.  After speculating on the meaning of the riddle for a while, the group were reminded of the fire pit.  Thinking of ‘natures wrath’ it was decided this must have something to do with it, so they investigated and found that the small ember was coming from a bag at the bottom of the pit.  The stonechild carefully picked up the bag, taking care not to burn himself, and it was decided they should check the other rooms.  The minotaur went to open the door to the formians, but was warned by the centaur- the minotaur continued regardless, and instead of formians it was instead a group of troglodytes.  Curious, they checked the room with the naga which now contained a fiendish cleric, which the centaur shot at to test if it was an illusion.  The arrow hit him, and he was visibly wounded by it, but was just wandering the room looking for the source.  The centaur did a final test, stepping into the room and the fiend charged at her- so she left immediately and the fiend stopped in his tracks.  Leaving the rooms alone, and becoming ever more perplexed about this area, they considered they should check the other rooms that led from the metal room and see what they found.  Leaving Steve in the metal room, they first checked the room between the fiend and the metal room, and found it to be empty apart from a hole in the wall where there was a draft.  Keeping this door open, as there were no monsters, they checked the room attached to that one, finding a large group of driders and monstrous spiders but no other features.  Leaving this room alone, they checked the room opposite the one with the hole, finding a displacer beast and a brick wall.  Finally, they checked the room opposite the fire and as they predicted, there was a fountain- guarded by a Behir, a huge serpentine draconic beast.

She wasn't really expecting it either

Deciding they needed to get to these other elements, they fought the Behir- the minotaur charged in, planning to jump down its throat, being supported by the stonechild who used his mighty hammer to make the ground shake, but they were doing decidedly little damage to the creature.  The Behir in return tried to constrict the minotaur, but they were at a stalemate.  Steve and the centaur offered ranged support, knowing they were invisible to the creature, the comfort of which was apparently enough to give the centaur time to take a perfect shot- waiting for just the right moment where she had a clear line of sight for the beast’s head.  Taking her shot, the arrow sung as it glided through the air, greatly accelerated by the psychokinetic bow from which it was fired, and it struck with such force in the middle of the creatures forehead that it came out the other side, spilling brains all over the floor.  As soon as the creature fell, it evaporated into thin air, letting the party approach the fountain.  First they tried putting the bag of fire in the water, causing it to shake violently and the water started steaming.  On closer inspection, the water was indeed being produced from a similar bag, which was taken by the minotaur.  Checking the unguarded hole in the wall yielded another bag, producing a light breeze, taken by the centaur.  Finally, they had to beat the Displacer Beast- an easy task thanks to the stonechild’s Blind Fight ability, and the minotaur’s raw strength.  As with the Behir, the beast evaporated as soon as it fell, leaving Steve to claim the last bag.  Unfortunately, there was a brick wall in the way- which the minotaur punched his way through, finding a bag at the bottom of the wall.
Returning to the metal room, the group decided ‘nature’s wrath’ must be a storm- a combination of all elements.  The minotaur started by throwing his bag of water in the corner of the room, where a puddle started to form.  Next the centaur threw her bag of air into the puddle, causing the water to spout up as a small watery tornado.  The stonechild contributed his bag of fire, causing the spout to crackle with electricity, and so Steve added his bag of earth to the mix- causing all of the elements to wrap around themselves, the bags circling each other in the air, creating a vaguely humanoid shape made of crackling electricity and dark clouds- a Storm Elemental.  The minotaur and stonechild retreated to the water room, and Steve and the centaur to the earth room.  Knowing there was no way forward but to fight, the minotaur charged in…

And that’s all till next week.

Important Notes:
Ring of Spell Storing retrieved, with 3 charges of magic missile
Ed’s character died, replaced by a Stonechild barbarian/dwarfbonded
First ‘critical’ critical hit (double natural 20.  A third was also rolled, but wasn’t confirmed)

Netheril: Dungeon in the Sky

As previously mentioned, the cleric and medusa stayed back in Sigil for a while, picking up vital supplies for dungeoneering, mostly in the form of cure wands and a couple of scrolls- notably a scroll of Tenser’s Floating Disc, which the cleric was assured would be extremely handy.  Once supplies were bought, the pair hurried on to the Netherese city, through the same portal as before, and no longer had they set foot there then the minotaur charged towards them, a rancid growth on his shoulder.  The cleric quickly removed the Mummy Rot, and they went to find the others that were investigating graves.

there would have been a mug, but the manufacturers realised their mistake.

The centaur found an interesting arrow, a painting of a royal wedding, a mysterious metallic shard, and a lot of silver.  After some debate, all of the contents of the mummies graves was poured into the centre, and with it being far too much to count on the spot, it was put into a couple of bags of holding for sorting out later.  The cleric noticed a couple of wands amongst the debris, one of which was unidentifiable but the other was clearly a wand of magic missile, and in the hopes more magical items would be found nearby she used Detect Magic.  Aside from the items already picked up, there was a strong emanation from the grave that the snake statue appeared to be looking at, so the medusa promptly wild shaped into a badger form and set to work digging at the grave- though it didn’t take long to hurt herself by digging too hard and hit solid metal steps that appeared to lead into a tunnel complex, evidently the dungeon they were to explore- though before they descended the minotaur and medusa decided to check out some of the other graves, unfortunately all of which were empty save for their decomposed inhabitants.
Advancing into the dungeon, the first noticeable feature was the darkness- not a problem for the majority of the party, but the cleric only had low-light vision, so had to use her lantern and pick up a few torches for use when her oil ran out.  The dungeon itself seemed relatively normal for something constructed by an ancient civilisation- simple earth supported by wood, with wooden floorboards covered in a loose layer of dirt.  At the first corner lay some old barrels, inspected by the ever-cautious party but found to contain nothing other than the faint stench of ancient alcohol.  More worryingly was a skeleton that lay in the next corner, sat against a door- on inspection it was harmless, though curiously it carried a razor.  As a couple of party members checked the door, others went on ahead to scout the rest of the area- finding a large pile of coins and a couple of banners, that on closer inspection appeared to be breathing.  The medusa could see that there was some sort of creature under there, though had no idea what, and when it remained unresponsive to her words of comfort, the minotaur instead decided to drag it out through force- provoking the creature’s attack in the process.  Taking care to stay under the cover of its hoard, the creature revealed it’s abominable form- a spherical body with six tentacles, three of which ending in its vicious heads and the other three clasping unusual weapons- specifically a battleaxe, warhammer, and kukri; and whilst it managed to constrict one of its tentacles around the minotaur it unfortunately managed to hit itself with its own hammer, releasing its hold making it an easy kill.  Once again, the hoard was shovelled into a bag of holding, and before getting split up further the group checked out the previous door, finding a further two doors and a treasure chest.  Much to the medusa’s annoyance, the chest merely contained a copius amount of acid which she received in the face.  After the shadow formerly known as Boris investigated the closed rooms, he discovered a few zombie orcs, a remnant of the ancient civilisation’s slaves.  After being provoked by Boris the zombies attempted to break free of their room but to no avail- instead the minotaur broke into their room, cutting them down in no time and swiping the key laying on the table in their room, and then proceeding to search the room more thoroughly, leaving the rest of the party to destroy the zombies in the other room.  Sure enough it proved easy to dispatch them, for all except the increasingly unlucky medusa who managed to shoot the ceiling above her, triggering the corrosive magical effect on the arrow and raining acid over herself.
No further items of interest were found, and so the party continued on, soon coming across what was evidently a temple with a large metallic snake on the wall above the altar.  The altar itself seemed to be in pretty good condition, even so far as the candles looking unused- something the medusa sought to remedy, lighting them and, in doing so, awaking the bronze serpent.  Crackling with intense electrical magic, the snake snapped at the medusa and turned its attention to the minotaur that raged at it, the minotaur still feeling a little uneasy around snake-like creatures.  The snake was dealing considerable damage, though the minotaur shrugged it off and although it may have been wise to retreat, seeing that the snake was firmly attached to the wall, but the barbarian was raging and therefore couldn’t be persuaded otherwise, eventually destroying the creature.
Quickly healing up, the party continued deeper, the next room being what appeared to be a large mess hall.  The tables still had remains of crockery and cutlery on them, with ancient mould growing all over, though of particular interest was a set of six dice, possibly weighted to the number five, and a secret door that the centaur discovered, leading to the next level of the dungeon.
The tunnels continued their theme of earthen walls and wooden supports, though the layout was starting to curl around the centre of the volcano.  The path that lay before them was a curved corridor, with several doors leading off it- three ten-foot wide ones and two five-foot wide ones.  Naturally, the first door was checked, leading into a much smaller corridor with a door at the end.  Boris went first, everything seeming alright, though as soon as the centaur advanced she immediately fell down a seventy-foot deep pit.  This caused problems, as the horse shape isn’t designed for climbing, and even if it was the ropes the group had were only fifty feet long.  The medusa asked to be lowered into the pit, which the minotaur interpreted as ‘pushed’ into the pit, creating further problems, and so Steve the monkey returned to the surface to find the dwarf or halfling that had been left behind to retrieve some more rope.  Meanwhile, the medusa came up with the plan to rip up some of the floorboards and lower them down to create several steps to climb up to reach the rope, and after some convincing that it would be quite safe, the minotaur agreed to lend the use of his animated rope that he picked up on a whim back in Sigil.  Eventually the fallen members were recovered, much to Steve’s annoyance as he returned with the rope, and the party wisely decided to rest for the night in the corridor.
The night passed uneventfully, apart from a muffled unnatural scream from the floor below, and the other corridors were tried.  Finding their way to the end of these smaller corridors was yet another corridor, connecting each of them and with more doors attached.  Once more, Boris went in to check, passing through the walls with ease.  The first room he found was completely lined with weapons, with a highly unusual metallic statue in the centre of the room, standing motionless.  The next was the highly uninteresting latrines, followed by another small mess room with a pit to one side- presumably a rubbish chute.  Next room was the kitchen, with a very warm looking stove and another connection to the rubbish chute, and the final room was a sleeping quarters, lined with bunks and a small shrine to one end.  Instantly seeing the potential for selling the weapons in the armoury, the medusa investigated, taking a small mace from one of the racks but keeping a careful eye on the statue.  Slowly moving to the door, after six seconds the statue came to life, it becoming evident that it was a Shadesteel Golem- a construct from the plane of Shadow- which immediately attacked.

I don't think I'll find a pic of a shadesteel golem that looks cooler than this

Luckily the medusa escaped screaming, and the golem refused to follow though the centaur and minotaur were ready in case it did leave the confines of its room.  It seemed quiet, so the other rooms were investigated though little of interest was found, leading them to investigate what the medusa theorised to be a training room once more.  The medusa demonstrated her findings by entering the room for a split second, causing the golem to attempt an attack once more, and then threw the mace inside, at which point the golem was no longer interested in the medusa.  The duo of the minotaur and centaur decided to have a bit more fun, letting the medusa take part in a fairer training duel with the golem after finding a weapon she could happily wield, but it quickly became evident she was no match for it, dropping her weapon before she could get too injured.  Deciding to leave the room alone, the group decided they would continue to the next level- which we shall leave for another time.

Next story update will be in a couple of weeks as I am on holiday, though I will attempt that promised tourists guide to Sigil if I have internet access.

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