Reminder: 1/2-Jack the Halfling Rogue, Brother Abram Gaunt the cleric of Tempus, Banjo Carrick the Elf mage, Martel Guerra the paladin of Tyr and Red the Elf ranger are all now Level 4 and are exploring a distant island. They have reached the fabled lost/ruined/buried temple/city, located on an isle in a volcanic lake’s crater atop a plateau. They have just won a large-scale battle against the headhunting renegades that infest the ruined temple.
The great cavern no longer rings to the urgent cry of battle, but it does echo with the eager chatter of adventurers looting bodies.
After a brief flurry of interest in the red-tipped spear the renegade champion had been using, Martel calls a halt, and asks the spellcasters if they are fit to carry on. Both indicate they are.
“There’s a strong argument for us to press on,” Martel explains. “Tyr’s Favor and Blessing are still with us, and the alternative is to fall back to the jetty and guard our canoes.”
[In plain game-speak, Martel still has about 8 minutes to go on the two spells.]
He tosses Red the spear, suggesting that a Light spell be placed on it so that Red can keep his place at the fore as we walk towards the escape tunnel the Priestess had run down.
“And don’t forget Red: in combat you can drop behind the front rank and keep using the spear,” he adds. Red shrugs: he’s far more comfortable with twin scimitars or longbow.
[The GM has finally decided on Red’s L4 advance and chooses the Archery Master Feat. It allows Red normal chance to hit, out to the maximum range of a bow, and a second shot albeit with a -5 penalty to both attempts.]
The “escape tunnel” proves no such thing. The tunnel turns right, then some way down, descends to a right block wall. After checking for pressure plates and secret doors, we find no reason for the priestess to have chosen this as her exit.
Shaking the place down
We use the pry bar to begin dismantling the blocks, but beyond them are more blocks. It will clearly take some time. ½-Jack rolls corpses and tosses the chief’s room. Then having collared five gems he walks down and across and back up to the opposite rooms, searching what he guesses are barracks. He finds a number of paste-filled ground-obsidian bowls, the paste probably poison and the bowls probably of some value.
[Neither Gaunt nor Martel would use poison so it will be flushed away in the lake.]
½-Jack’s return marks the point at which we’ve holed through. In a few more wrenches of the bar and a few thumps of Martel’s Warhammer, it’s large enough for the Halfling to get through. With a torch held aloft, he wends round a couple of sharp bends in the stone-flagged tunnel, then realizes some of the flags may be unsound. Creeping lightly on, he peers left, finds another turn left, and that one leads to a door!
The sanctuary of something tentacular
Reporting back, the rogue describes the issues and Martel has us gather furs and framing timbers from the various rooms. These are carried through and spread over the unsafe stones, allowing our weight to be spread more evenly as we cross one at a time. Ropes are fastened at either end of the section as well. The dodgy flags are crossed and we assemble at the door.
Using the prybar again, Martel forces it open. Our eyes are drawn to an altar or some such blocky fixture on which rests a stone coffer with hinged doors and some inlaid bowls. Barely pausing to acknowledge ½-Jack’s comment that the bowls are valuable, Martel steps across and knocks the coffer off! Its doors fly open and a gold-and-coral statuette bounces out. It’s got tentacles, and gill-flanges, and is rather bulbous. Other than that we know nothing about it.
[Wis saves all round – only ½-Jack and Red make their saves.]
½-Jack packs the statuette back scoldingly and Red investigates the door he only now notices on the opposite side of the chamber. ½-Jack listens, opens it, and finds another tunnel beyond. It looks like a sharp turn left and possibly descending. But the tunnel is blocked well and truly by rocks that must have fallen at some much earlier date.
The renegades again
Shaking ourselves into sensible order we retrace our path to the main cavern. As Red steps out, flung spears hurtle down at him – he’s saved from all but a scratch by Martel’s defensive instinct as the paladin throws up his shield to ward a spear off.
Battle layout: half a dozen renegades have returned and have the high ground on the ledges not far from the tunnel mouth. The characters have plenty of cover in the tunnel. The main cavern is some 70’ across and the ledges can only be accessed at the far side.
Round 1: Renegades again wound Red with a flung spear. ½-Jack sprints [cunning action] right across the cavern. Carrick steps to tunnel mouth, RoFs the nearest exposed renegade and kills him! It’s the start of a stellar run for RoF damage for the Elf mage. Red sprints across the cavern – his extra pace carries him right across to ½-Jack’s side. Martel pulls back, readying his crossbow. Gaunt steps past the paladin, Sacred Flames another renegade. And steps back to ¾ cover.
Round 2: The renegades are now in a lousy position, hurling spears at heavily armored foes in ¾ cover. They fail to adapt and hit nothing. ½-Jack and Red swing up crossbow and longbow respectively as Carrick misses his next RoF, then the two missilemen wound two renegades with well-aimed shots. Martel misses and Gaunt flames another. Because the renegades rotate their own shots the damage on them is shared out.
Round 3: More of the same spear-hurling: there’s now quite a stack of useless lumber at the tunnel mouth. Carrick and Red drop two renegades: one ledge is now cleared. Martel wounds another on the opposite ledge, and Gaunt misses.
Round 4: The remaining three renegades run (or limp) for the exit but are brought down by fire from the two plugging the exit and the three following up.
Concerned lest the renegades had sabotaged our canoes, we hasten back out, but all is well. It seems these newcomers simply added their own canoes to the jetty without realizing that our canoes were not friendly.
We paddle back to Mantru and take a full night’s rest.
Paddlin’ there and back again, plus a hearty climb
At Mantru Martel again seeks out Loomat and we ask about the idol. He declares it evil. Martel and Gaunt take it out to a sturdy rock and smash it, so that only the beaten gold is left to sell.
The next day we retrieve our ropes from the weakened area and test the dodgy floor (by throwing bodies, boulders at it) until it gives way. There’s a flooded chamber down there. ½-Jack plumbs the depth and concludes that it’s wadable by the three tall ones, but not by he nor Martel.
Having searched the temple façade and rocks around it we conclude there’s no easy way up onto the island from there, so paddle left and right briefly, with no further luck. A concerted circumnavigation discerns a steep landing on the entire opposite or Eastern end of the isle. We lift the canoes up to safety, armor up and explore the scattered ruins atop the isle. The renegades and their children prove to have already left. We conclude this more from the lack of evidence than any explicit tracking Red might bring to bear. We are beginning to think that Red is to tracking as Martel is to net-throwing.
We paddle due east to the lakeside – ½-Jack’s compass is again in use. Given that they lack such a thing, and the confusing mist, the renegades could have landed anywhere. We try left (north) first and this proves lucky – Gaunt spots canoe drag-marks, and then a sunken canoe. They have probably headed for the lip of the crater from that point. We drag our canoes up and push for the lip: there are still hours of daylight left.
Up at the lip, Red and Carrick scan the countryside. Is that a smudge of movement on the horizon? ½-Jack unlimbers his telescope and examines what proves to be a fissure or ravine over in the east. He catches sight of a giant!
The fissure is some seven miles distant so on balance, we vote to concentrate on the isle. We seem to have no chance of catching up with the renegades and “liberating” their children. So it’s back to the canoes and back to Mantru. Ironically on the way down we do cross the path the renegades took the previous day. Taking a fresh line of sight from the lip there still suggests that they may have made for the distant ravine.
The following day at Mantru is occupied in assembling materials for a shallow dive expedition.
Paddlin’ the deeps
The next day, bright and early, we transport the materiel across, lug it up inside the temple and through to the gaping hole in the flags, and begin tossing it down and reassembling it. It’s essentially a small raft constructed of split palm logs, lashed together with vines, with extra flotation from gourds, which Martel asserts can also provide extra air for submerged tunnel navigation.
The depth in this modest size chamber is around 5’ which is plenty deep enough to bother anyone trying to walk in it, and murky enough to bother anyone with nerves. ½-Jack and Martel hang off or sit on the raft and the other three slowly forge forward to an arched tunnel, dragging and pushing the raft. Lights are plentiful, though the lit spear-tip is most useful since Red can use it as a probe. Even so, the three standing take a few painful knocks and gashes from submerged obstacles, probably including the rocks we used to break the floor above. Having decided that he won’t drown unless he steps into an unseen hole, Gaunt laboriously re-dons his armor. A decision he may come to regret!
The tunnel beyond is relatively short and looks unpleasantly like a punishment cell block. Three doors per side have that solid, barred, functional look about them. Beyond, it turns out to a T-junction. To confirm that these are cells, Martel asks Gaunt to pry one open and it is indeed so. Nothing evil lurches out of the cell: it’s just a pitiful empty space with the remnants of shackles set in the wall.
We try left on the T, which zigs and then extends a long way, then ascends in steps. But the steps are brief and descend again and beyond those Martel senses undead. He brightens at the prospect of righteous cleansing, but decides to check the back-trail first.
Right on the T, the raft pushes a short way through the murky water to a door. Gaunt rips it open with the pry bar. Beyond lies a big chamber – so big that even Carrick’s dancing lights seem near lost in it. And there’s obviously something living in it – a disembodied rat’s head floats by in the disturbed dark water.
Gaunt leads the way and immediately drops out of sight – there’s a hole or he simply missed the edge of a ledge or steps. Red tries to help – Martel passing him the ring of water walking – but he too misses the step and begins sinking! And amidst the ruckus of merry splashing and drowning, giant crabs attack!