Characters for this session:
Fennec, level 3 wizard
Cauleigh, level 4 warrior
Jotunn, level 6 warrior
ably assisted by:
Crompton, level 3 rogue, as NPC this session
Mizva, level 4 human warrior
Whitey, level 4 half-elf rogue
We kick off catching Jotunn up with his membership in the warriors guild (yes) his payment for the magical folding-fan vambrace to be refitted (300gp) and general day to day living expenses (437gp). There’s also a flash-back to when he confirmed the order of a good cuirass with magical protection.
In order to cover that cost Jotunn trades Crompton for his elf-tree cuirass, and trades that in for 4000gp. Crompton now owns a 16-point cuirass rather than an 8-point breastplate. But it is a simpler look, and it’s not green. For his part, Fennec sells the very costly gem Tadiko traded to him.
Final preliminaries: spells and smithies
Fennec briefs Jotunn on his research alongside Ernysi and how she seems to be able to get Neghed to behave civilly. He explains the offer of the Tower Shield of Zolman, and offers the thought that Mizva might be able to carry it. Finally Fennec and Cauleigh explain that we can’t bring Ernysi because Neghed would need to be there.
Cauleigh revisits Mettastos’ Arms and Armour as well. Eric Nordigar sells him on a breastplate that seems to do everything he needs; and he also asks after a coif, that can act as reserve soak and have Little Feets. Bravely he orders that as well, even though he has no funds in reserve – and in fact will be selling gear off to pay for the breastplate, unless the descent is rewarding. Eric has him sign a creditors docket, making Mettastos the secured creditor against Cauleigh’s estate – should the worst happen!
Fennec finds that his new spell, Blasting Power, has “set” quickly and buys Omni-Eye. Magister Max Oberhelm teaches him that himself, explaining that the guild uses a more powerful form of teaching charm.
Proceedings of the Committee for the Descent
It’s one week prior to Riverdeath, as the locals call the festival, and the smell of roast nuts enlivens the streets. Elections are the week after the festival, and it seems that only the Sheriff is sure of his post. When asked about lending a hand with the descent, priestess Bowdyn of the river temple apologises – she is very busy preparing for the ceremonies and will not be available for any other effort.
That self-same day, the Restorers file into the same hall in the Mercers guild compound. A number of people from various walks of life are gathered there. Aside from a number of guild valets and observers there are some five prospective delvers; the press is there; Sheriff von Diemar is there; one or two from each select guild are there; and two elves are there. Crompton waves to the elves and heads over there.
Taking his two comrades aside again, Cauleigh explains that with the reward at 30,000, and split evenly, they really need to limit the team to six or seven, tops. What he doesn’t say is that Eric Nordigar has offered to knock 1000gp off the cost of the armour, if he can make sure Guido Nordigar does not join the descent.
By that time the gathering is increased by heavy trundlers of special equipment; Neghed, who sneer-smirks but sits quietly in a corner picking his teeth; and Ernysi, who unsuccessfully tries to screen Neghed off from the Restorers. Fennec reminds Jotunn of the offer of the shield, and they accept it from Ernysi.
With the crowd beginning to spit nutshells around and getting thirsty, the Sheriff calls the gathering to order and offers an introductory speech in which he explains the reward deal (even shares of 30,000, each person to choose potions and philtres, and the cost of those to be deducted from the respective share); and explains the Restorers will have the say on who makes the descent.
Cauleigh, having expected all this since his interview with the Sheriff, has his response speech ready. He thanks the Sheriff, confirms that the Restorers will be making the expedition – there is a round of applause at this point – and prepares the gathering for disappointment concerning the selection: with so many fine choices the overall team’s needs come first. And mentions they already have a fifth adventurer in mind.
At this point, a messenger is dispatched to fetch Mizva, and as they wait, Cauleigh Jotunn and Fennec meet:
Guido Nordigar (warrior): Short young close-cropped dwarf, proud of house Nordigar.
Rduk (warrior): Mature male Hobgoblin, unkempt and very strong-looking.
Terful (rogue): Dandyish young Hobb.
K-fab (rogue): Very short unwashed older man with curly brown hair and long moustache.
Tueplio (wizard): Very short young man with below-collar red hair and trim red moustache.
Tueplio is carrying a rounded-crowned hat with a light fitting, in which unpleasant fae-pixie Triliton is embedded. One of the other wizards explains that by bringing Triliton, senior wizard Daisy Brightwater may be able to trace what happens to them.
The auld acquaintances arrive
It is not just Mizva, but Whitey, and with the Restorers permission, Mother Hobb, who now join the committee proceedings. Whitey explains he’s there to make sure Mizva gets there and Mother Hobb explains she’s just there to make sure “her lads” don’t do anything stupid.
With prospects already pricing out gear, Cauleigh brings his initial remarks to an informal conclusion. Crompton explains who the elves are – senator Renee Finaire, and Chani of the helfters and of the Park roster – and suggests that if they do get geared up, it may be worth re-approaching Borer of the rogues guild.
The Restorers confer: Cauleigh’s idea, which he sells the others, is to tank up by bringing both Rduk and Mizva. As they nod in agreement he makes a second speech: courteously dismissing all five save for Rduk. He frames Guido’s dismissal in terms of rallying support for a second party, should the worst occur.
With a new lease of life the young Tueplio waves over Renee Finaire, who explains that Janorra of the Glade and the elves that watch over her have come up with magical acorns to help the descent. When planted in some dirt, they will grow to break up the flow of mana that must be powering the undead floor from somewhere below. Tueplio hands them over and Jotunn tucks them away.
However! The prospects have already had a pick over the special gear, and Cauleigh’s preference Rduk has his eye on the most expensive item, dust of the radiant sun at 4000gp. When Cauleigh attempts to negotiate around this, the hobgoblin exactitude plays against the offer [I roll a fail] and Rduk is out too.
Mizva and Whitey can both accept a party of six, so Crompton’s idea of making a new approach to Borer falls through. The Committee for the Descent approves the party, the press hasten to get the copy passed in, and Mother Hobb takes a few orders for magical goodies, as the six now finalise the special gear:
Fennec: Dust of the radiant sun 4000gp, Skeletal dust 400gp, Oil of blessings x 6 600gp;
[Cauleigh guarantees 1000 out of his own funds so that Fennec has some money coming]
Cauleigh: Acid bomb 400, Yellow essence 300, Zamos hydro-creator x 2 200gp;
Jotunn: Dust of desiccation 400, Zamos hydro-creator x 3 300, Oil of blessings x 3 300gp;
Mizva: Green essence 500, Zamos hydro-creator x 3 300gp;
Whitey: Firebomb 400, Blue essence 200gp;
Crompton: Dust of widows 1000, Potion of verity 400gp.
Sheriff von Diemar approves the deal on the Committee’s behalf, noting that the city powers have first refusal on treasures brought up. Fennec stirs uneasily but decides not to break the deal at this point.
The dwarves spend a little more AP. Cauleigh raises WIZ to 19, Fennec raises CON to 27 and IQ to 35. Jotunn moves WIZ to 16.
The descent commences!
It is that very night when the six file down the stairwell below the Mausoleum of Barons, along the catacombs, and through the gap down into the rune-carved chamber. Daisy Brightwater is there already. The chamber’s eerie runes are masked off with what looks like crude clay swatches, and there’s a very obvious new stone slab blocking part of the wall. The entrances down to the chamber of the three horrid statues are still open. Daisy welcomes them:
“So, welcome! Y’all’re here – get set now!”
Daisy now warns them that while the wizards guild were hoping to help, Lady Bree found a defence mirror not far down, with an intelligence looking out of it!
Crompton, who for the initial descent will be minding baggage, organises firearms and heavy gear that will need to stay back. Whitey and Mizva make a contrast – as the half-elf joked, he has so many bits and pieces he’s running out of thongs to tie them to – Mizva has merely his arms and armour, his big magical lantern shield, and the couple of items off the gear table. Jotunn and Mizva discuss the shields, and Jotunn decides to try to keep using the Tower Shield.
The other two take a look at the statue chamber, where, Daisy explains, she couldn’t get the statues to move around for her. The summoning bowls require blood to make “something” work… the dwarves decide not to find out what that might be.
Returning back up, they find the other four now set. Daisy steps to the new stone block:
“Y’all better be ready – I aim ta do this but once tonight…”
And with a gesture, the stone block parts in the middle, revealing the entrance to the descent!
Party order: Jotunn and Mizva up front with shields where possible, but otherwise Cauleigh probing forward; then Fennec and Cauleigh (if available) in positions where they can snipe past the shields; then Whitey also ready to snipe; then (possibly a long way back) Crompton guarding the rope tie-off point and baggage.
They agree about light and noise management. It’s not going to be possible to move silently but longarms will be left with Crompton so that no-one fires one. Cauleigh does keep his two pistols in their scabbards. Fennec will manage the torch-cube.
At this early stage, no-one applies oils or the like. An initial probe, is what they hope.
The first cavern glitters with mineral and offers a large pothole down, and a steel tether-point. A subterranean wind quietly breathes, down in the dark. Fennec uses OTIS just to make really sure that’s all there is.
After seeing a ledge under the pothole’s overhang, they elect Cauleigh to rope and swing to that first. Jotunn hitches a doubled rope at the tie-off, so that he can easily recover it. Crompton shifts the baggage into the glittering chamber.
Cauleigh makes the landing successfully, and resists a cobweb-like whisper from the portrait-sized steel mirror fused to the chamber wall. Smoky shapes seem to stir in it – but he resists looking at those, too.
With Fennec shining the torch beam directly down from above him, Cauleigh picks out slick crude steps below this ledge. But lying over the abyss, he also notices guano on the steps and a colony of bat-like creatures immediately under his ledge!
He draws Regdar, who sings of ice-blade, ice-grave, bones in the snow, as the FP ice effect sweeps the demon-bats away. Four survive and fly up to attack: Fennec uses his shiny new spell:
Demon-bat-cinders float down and away, the rope survives [charred a little – Jotunn makes a L3 LK check for it] and Cauleigh waits for some time for his vision to return.
“I can’t think why I didn’t pick this spell up earlier!” Fennec chortles.
Cauleigh clutches firmly on the rope and navigates the steps below, as far as he can. Opposite, affixed to an overhang, is a thick bronze chain, hanging down to another firm ledge. He explores.
Below the lip of this ledge is the abyss. Another heavy bronze chain depends under his ledge, allowing an agile adventurer to slide around under the ledge and clamber down. And – reminding him of a similar descent in Fingold – there seems to be broad natural crevices in the abyss walls.
With this advice, Fennec ropes down, ignores the mirror, and using another BP, burns the steps off enough that they will be adequate going. The stench of burnt demon-bat-guano fills the air.
The adventurers rope down to the secure ledge below the mirror, each managing to avoid engaging the mirror or slipping on the steps. The gear, and Crompton, are all accounted for.
Fennec trusts to Jotunn’s strength and sense of duty, and leans over the abyss. The chain he’s poised above lets down to a flat ledge, with steeply shelving roof. The gaps opposite, in separate directions, are easily big enough to be crawl-ways. Just to make sure, he floats a WoW around. The 4-candlepower glimmer reveals that they are probably tunnels. The simplest way to reach them – aside from flying – is to swing off the bronze chain. Jotunn hitches the doubled rope end onto the chain.
Cauleigh is tied onto the other end of the doubled rope and assured he’s in no danger as he swivels over the abyss and starts down the chain! With a twist and tuck, he lands into the tunnel-mouth Fennec has picked out as broadest.
Stalactites crowd over his head, but the floor is reasonably level. By the time he loses all light, Cauleigh is reasonably sure there is worked stone ahead!
Those initially joining Cauleigh in the tunnel are just Fennec and Jotunn. With Cauleigh bracing his end of the rope, the traverse is made safely.
At the end of a cautious walk forward, Cauleigh finds an end to the worked stone tunnel, and a circular stair going steeply down. He smells more moisture than has been evident so far.
With a prospective new stage, it’s time to bring Crompton down and Mizva and Whitey into the tunnel. The latter make it OK but as Crompton begins the first chain descent he misses his hold and with a wail, bounces past the tunnel and down!
Crompton picks himself up, checking for lost gear and broken bones, finding he has landed upon another ledge – then screams as weird pseudopods extend out of the dark recesses and begin enveloping him!
“Shit! We have to go get him!”
“Whitey – get down there!”
– and so saying Whitey activates a sabre and dives out, spinning round the chain and landing safely. With a hoarse bellow – “Oh this is going to be gooood…” – Mizva launches himself out next, landing heavily opposite and above the horror:
“Let’s fuckin’ do this! Light ‘er up!”
– and his lantern shield shines bright. Jotunn is next, landing next to Mizva. Fennec lies flat and Cauleigh slides out his mace of stunting – mentally thanking his lucky stars he noticed the soft seating on the head and took it to Chani at the helfters with a day to spare – and clambers round Fennec to throw himself out, perform an elaborate maypole-swing around the chain and down, landing near Whitey. Fennec readies himself to follow up, and the session ends.
Woohoo! We finally get to the season finale! Much prep was involved but it’s beginning to feel worth the effort.
Props: The finale is a grand mashup of three adventures, a mini-adventure, and a Wizardawn map, edited to connect certain elements. Rather than using a blank, useful-looking map and populating it from Wizardawn generators, for this one I’ve taken a Wizardawn map, and populated it from elements picked out of the adventures.
Aside from the Bishop’s Secret, which sets the whole concept up, I am using:
The Hyqueous Vaults, Dettmann, Fullerton et al;
The Lurker Beneath Red Larch, MT Black;
Echoes from Fomalhaut issue #01, Lux et al, EMDT; and
a certain DCC mini-adventure I will name once the descent concludes, for better or worse…