The Characters for this session:
Fennec, L2 Wizard
Cauleigh, L3 Warrior (Townsman)
Jotunn, L5 Warrior (Apprentice Hunter; Tracking)
Crompton, L2 Rogue (Roguery, Rune-bearer)
Important NPCs in this session:
QMGLC Saundra: As Quartermaster-General, Countess the lady Saundra is the final authority on who is allowed what inside Fingold. She has approved spell tuition for Fennec and Crompton and this session approves magic item appraisal.
The Fingold archmagi: A Dwarf of significant age, he works out of the citadel and on a daily basis contests with the fire-mage.
The demon in glasses, birth-name Two. Level 4 human wizard, equipped with staff, punch-dagger, and a range of items and spells. Demon in glasses is the leader and tactician for the heavy hitters adventuring group. He has agreed to help the Dwarves take down half the zombies, using a Slush-Yuck spell in Level 3 of Fingold’s shatterzone dungeon.
Gnat, birth-name Rue. Level 4 human rogue, equipped with a hand-crossbow and twin short swords, and a range of items and gear. She’s along as demon in glasses’ bodyguard.
Burnley, Whitey, Mizva and Mother Hobb: Collectively known as the survivors adventuring group. Up until very recently they were doing rear-echelon duty in the Guild, except for Mizva who was trying to pour himself into a bottle. They have returned to front-line work, though Mother Hobb’s job is still mostly ale-wife/healer. Burnley and Whitey are half-Elf rogues, Mizva is a human warrior, and Mother Hobb is a Hobb rogue with potion specialty.
This session is unusual in that it is pretty much all dungeon, apart from dungeon prep. I’ve decided to cover it as played, but without descriptions for light, smell and sound. Assume feeble light comes from Fennec’s Will-o-Wisp, the general smell is dank stone and earth, and far-off dripping, and nearer scuttling of small creatures, can be heard. In terms of physical feel, the level is mostly stone, reasonably level though somewhat tilted. Doors have been rebuilt in situ by the current inhabitants. They are very sturdy and require a strong kick.
The initial half-hour is spent on prep and strategizing with me playing the demon in glasses. The detail of Slush-Yuck dimension is critical, as is how to deal with zombies not caught by it. The plan is to throw down a 4′ wide 5′ deep trench.
Final preparations are made
Examining demon in glasses’ sketch of known areas of Level 3, and the area he indicates is his favored zone for casting the spell, the Fingold furbishers decide they will bring bill-hooks, two, zombies the tipping in for. [Zombies are clumsy and the plan is to make it a DEX:DEX contest] Crompton will stick with his ancestor-axe, since heads still need to be whicked off and Gnat can’t be expected to do all of that. Fennec’s job will be artillery support back with demon in glasses, who in turn will be guarded by Gnat. They’ll be tackling the northern tunnels, trying to work around to the known muddy cavern.
As a final measure they ask the survivors for missile support for the first stretch, because the monsters typically guard the first stretch up on a missile platform. Whitey and Burnley agree, though Mizva (with a scowl for Crompton, who lost his dear dead comrade’s staff) wants to go further and offers to go in with them. They turn him down, since he’s not a good fit for their plan.
The tantric dungeon I
Sure enough there is a missile-using guard, out at medium range. And it’s about the toughest missile-user the Level could have: an Ogre with a ballista-size crossbow! Fennec (optimistically) announces that a wizard has entered by slamming a TTYF into it, while Cauleigh and Jotunn fire their pieces, Crompton harmlessly fires his light crossbow, and Burnley and Whitey loose arrows (Whitey is a good archer, it turns out; Burnley not so much).
Much more of the same follows and eventually the Ogre (who has missed everything) topples and the ground shakes at the impact.
Pausing merely to loot the coin-pouch they push on up a right-hand, left-curving tunnel. Ahead, a suspicious choke-point and odd smell allows a little strategizing. Cauleigh and Jotunn hook their bills around the arched choke-point, not quite tripping a pair of snake-men guards.
Using Fennec’s favorite OGA tactic the lead Dwarves deal with one snake-man but the second, retreating back into his guard chamber, is incredibly hard to kill. He wields a poison spear and both Fennec and Crompton end up poisoned. The poison is disabling Hellfire Juice! Gnat has a remedy… but it’s Fennec’s old friend, a hallucinogen, so Fennec and Crompton are led babbling happily back to safety and the mission re-sets.
They rest up, and are fit to fight zombies again at the usual hour.
The tantric dungeon II
This time, the guards are hobgoblins with bows, but are much more easily dealt with. The Dwarves head confidently to the first choke-point, expecting snake-men. They are not disappointed! Cauleigh and Jotunn carefully spread caltrops then Fennec lures the guards with a tossed coin. As he cracks off an OGA and retreats the second snake-man hurls a javelin accurately, it penetrates Fennec’s backpack and right through Fennec!
The snakemen are both slain (again, with great difficulty) and before toting Fennec back, the exit to the guard-room is checked. It’s a larger chamber and seems to be a nest of snake-men!
Thanks to his backpack [and a LK SR] Fennec is not quite dead. While he recuperates the others keep the usual appointment with zombies.
The tantric dungeon III
Discouraged by the thought of an entire nest of lethal snake-men the expedition tackles the southern passage, initially along what was once an important service tunnel below temple street.
Although they resist the lure of the first trapped room they find, they encounter a patrol of Dark Elves and devil-dogs out in the main passage. It’s the first time Gnat gets into the action, chasing down a fleeing Dark Elf. She obviously uses something that doubles her speed. For the Dwarves, it’s a close fight but taps Fennec’s mana out, and given he’s announced their presence with a spectacular L2 TTYF, they pull back to safety.
And another zombie fight.
Spells and seercraft
The good news waiting for them is that the archmagi has lined up spell training and an ID parade for the magic items.
Fennec and Crompton both learn Vorpal Blade.
There are a number of items collected over the road trip. The most intriguing is the fiery-looking liquid in the spherical bottle: three doses of dragon breath! Yes, we can use that against snake-men! The fancy elf dagger (or hunting knife) that was found along with the Elf corpses has a once-a-day Whammy on it. The poison scimitar taken off Fishface the boss Goblin is perma-poison, probably dragon venom. The snake-men spears are also perma-poison but daylight removes the effect permanently.
The tantric dungeon IV
Equipped with a cask of flammable oil, the Dwarves once more press into the northern passage. The survivors chip in as before, the missile platform is cleared, then using combinations of OGA and gunnes the snake-men guard-post is cleared. Without giving the nest time to ready javelins the Dwarves hurl their cask and breath fire onto the oil!
Once the fire has died down and all snake-men are thoroughly dead, they examine the one exit, another choke-point archway. The evil eyes of a Dark Elf are glimpsed: it’s in a guard-niche further up the tunnel, ready to shoot and scoot. Fennec rolls out his trusty OGA and the Dwarves come off winners in the melee.
The tunnel, which is too curved to be useful for dropping zombies into a Slush-Yuck, leads to a larger cavern of broken stone flags and rock. One of the four possible exits off it turns out to be a guard niche and its resident, a huge gargoyle, attacks while Jotunn is somewhat isolated.
Jotunn saves his life by pressing into the corner of wall and floor and shielding himself, but is unconscious as the gargoyle tries to get down the passage and into the other Dwarves. It’s a tough fight, because it can only be hurt by magic. Crompton loves his new spell! Vorpal on his ancestor axe does a lot of damage!
This is the first time demon in glasses takes part in any action, hoisting two glowing spheres, one of which does damage each round.
The Dwarves cleave enough space for Gnat to escape past the gargoyle and get above it, and between them and the attack sphere, they kill it.
Jotunn is dragged back for healing, and the others attend the usual zombie battle.
Jotunn’s armour is completely wrecked so another day lapses, and another zombie battle, before the next expedition.
The tantric dungeon V
The removal of the snake-men has had a lasting effect. Only scavengers are encountered, scuttling away from the expedition. They get all the way to the cavern without incident. A Dark Elf shoots and scoots, leaving them uncertain whether to pursue or check a side-tunnel for safety’s sake. The side-tunnel isn’t on the sketch map, so they explore that.
Sadly it leads merely to the temptation to open a heavy door preventing an alarmingly poisonous giant spider from wandering the dungeon! Fennec decides to burn webbing and is bitten. He collapses, taking another of Gnat’s doses to prevent death.
And as he is led happily babbling to the exit the session ends.
Using L4 NPCs can feel a bit intimidating for a lower level party (average level 3). The guys seemed happy to take on the active role, not trying to lean on the NPC pair at all. Two could-be-dead characters! I’ve actually concatenated attempts 5 and 6 into one (there was a giant constrictor snake in the final guard niche, they survived and pulled out). I felt they lacked maybe one tank for most set-pieces – if two Dwarves are stunting, that leaves only one to protect Fennec – so they may accept Mizva’s offer next session. Stay tuned!
Cateyes: see in limited light
Fire at will/Healthy glow: these are separate spells but demon in glasses deploys them together. FaW throws magical fire blasts, HG counter-fires on incoming missiles.
Little Feets: doubles SPD, allows 2 actions per combat round
Oh-go-away: drives weaker monster away, if monster is stronger it attacks caster for 1 combat round
Omni-Eye: the basis for all item assessment
Poor Baby: heals 1 CON per 2 WIZ
Teacher: the teaching spell
Vorpal Blade: doubles base weapon dice rolled for 1 combat round
Whammy: as VB but triple base dice
Will-o-wisp: small light
Dyson’s dungeons (2014 compendium) provide the maps and Wizardawn provides the encounters, rated “challenging”. I did not tweak them much, just checked them over and removed anything that a minor demon could not boss.