We’re below the naos of a ruined, rock-cut temple which lies on a volcanic islet in the middle of a crater lake, in the middle of a hitherto lost island. The tunnels and chambers below the top layer seem more extensive than we guessed, and are flooded to around 5′. We located undead in one direction, but while trying to secure our backs before venturing that way, have fallen foul of a much deeper chamber. Brother Abram Gaunt the cleric of Tempus, who insisted on wearing his armor, sank to the bottom; and Red the Elf ranger, wearing reinforced hide armor, is rapidly sinking after him while trying to pass our ring of water walking to him. We others – 1/2-Jack the Halfling rogue, Banjo Carrick the Elf mage, and Martel Guerra the paladin of Tyr – are grouped around the doorway, using our makeshift raft for support. And now, Giant Crabs have attacked!
Battle Layout: A swollen door at the end of an arched tunnel has been levered open. It lets into a very large, squarish chamber, which appears to be flooded at the same 5’ level. But as Gaunt moves in, he discovers that he has descended steps and in his surprise, falls into deep water. As he is fully armored he sinks to the bottom. Red, taking the ring of water walking that Martel hands him, plunges after Gaunt but he too sinks! As this occurs, giant crabs attack!
This creates a surprise round, where Gaunt and Red cannot act but all other participants can.
Surprise round: Crabs swim to attack Gaunt as he hits the silty bottom of the flooded chamber and grapple him with mighty claws [10 dropping to 6 as he has armor] while more crabs grapple Red fiercely [13 including a crit]. Carrick, who is perched on the top step so has his arms and head free of the water, throws a RoF on one of Red’s crabs, but misses. ½-Jack dives agilely off the raft, into dagger-thrust of the nearest crab (one of Red’s attackers) and slams the dagger home! The crab loosens its pincer-hold, stone dead! ½-Jack [cunning action] nips up out of the water and onto the crab’s carapace. Martel, the thinking man’s paladin, realizes that Gaunt and Red can’t see in the murk and he too dives in, calling on Tyr to empower his sword [Sacred Blade] – it glows with a fierce light that penetrates about 10’ around.
Gaunt and Red hold their remaining breath [Gaunt is in worse trouble than Red as he was completely surprised by the drop, whereas Red specifically tried to help him.]
Round 1: Gaunt’s chainmail armor is enough to ward off the crab claws but he is still held. A crab grabs ½-Jack [2 damage] while the last one squeezes Red  then as the ranger breaks free [Str:Str test] rips the hide off him [crit]. Red does manage to see Gaunt in the glow of Martel’s blade and passes the ring to him.
Carrick, who is now somewhat exposed to the crabs as he leans over the combat, throws another RoF and this time does manage to chill ½-Jack’s crab a little. The Halfling wriggles free, and leaps to the next crab’s shell, evading the claws as he does so. Martel, swimming as defensively as he can, lays healing hands on Red [5 back] and guides him back up. Gaunt, donning the ring, rises swiftly towards the surface even with crabs latched on like crustaceous anchors! The cleric uses his considerable strength to burst free [advantage from the ring] and his head breaks surface and he gasps for much-needed air!
Round 2: Only one crab is dead and three attack Red and Martel, missing. The other two – one still with ½-Jack riding it – grab Gaunt, inflicting a little more damage . Red swims in retreat up the steps and his head also clears the surface. Carrick RoF’s one of Gaunt’s tormentors and this time the icy ray hurts severely . ½-Jack plunges his dagger deep into the chinks in his cab’s carapace. Martel swims out of harm’s way, doing a defensive side-stroke while trying to protect Red. Gaunt Sacred Flames the Frosted crab but it fails to turn into a barbecue snack!
Round 3: Although two crabs are severely hurt, there are still five kicking and nipping. Gaunt’s crab crushes him further [8-2 AmrMstr = 6 damage] but the other on Red misses. Two crabs swim after the tasty naked paladin but miss; but the general retreat has exposed Carrick whose tender lower regions are snacked on painfully [13 damage incl crit, and grappled]. But his agony is short-lived: Red is now able to use his spear properly and runs it straight through the crab [15 damage] killing it outright. Carrick once again RoF’s Gaunt’s crab but achieves little [min damage]. ½-Jack at last kills his second crab and vaults over to Gaunt’s much-damaged crab. Gaunt fails to deal with it while behind him, Martel finishes withdrawing to a point where he can bob up and down. He drops his defensive stance.
Round 4: Suddenly adventurers outnumber crabs by 5:3. The crabs all continue attacking successfully: Gaunt’s continues to crush him  while Martel is grabbed  and Carrick once again yodels in pain [a mere 3]. Red repeats his kebab-thrust and once again skewers Carrick’s crab [crit max=19 with spear held 2-handed]. Carrick now gets the message loud and clear and pulls back, hurling a parting RoF at Martel’s crab. ½-Jack slams his dagger through his new platform – Gaunt’s old crush – and it is a death strike [crit 13]! The Halfling dives off, and clambers clumsily onto the last one: and falls off! Martel, unable to wield his sword effectively, misses. Gaunt, finally free of crabs, turns and smites [guided strike] the last crab  then [war-priest] again and it is dead!
Real treasure at last!
Much searching later, ½-Jack finds steps up out of the deep chamber to a side-tunnel. Just mid-way up those steps, where a tall adventurer might set foot, a giant clam stands, and inside it, the Halfling’s greedy eyes glimpse a large pearl!
We pry the shell open and ½-Jack whips the pearl out. As big as his fat little fist, it is a black pearl – easily the most valuable thing we have found so far!
Before we retreat we ascertain that the side-tunnel is on the same level as the entrance tunnel. We swim the raft across and tow it along the side-tunnel, finding that it turns right, and to a door. But it’s time to retreat to the great hall and its side-dorms, to get a fire lit, and rest up.
Carrick and Gaunt re-shuffle spells to cope with undead; and Gaunt (and Red) have peeled off their sodden armor: agreeing that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
It’s now time to make that anticipated foray into the stench of undead!
The tunnel where Martel sensed undead is interrupted by a steep flight of steps up then down. We port the raft up; Martel calls Tyr’s Blessing, and Carrick armors himself with Mage Armor. Martel also elects to lead off so takes the ring of water walking. He and Gaunt push forward into the rank, throat-closing stench of the water below the steps, and are immediately attacked!
Round 1: Not hindered by their sloppy, rotten-muscled state, undead rise and attack with claw and tooth! Martel is bitten and clawed but shrugs off the poison of the bite [SV DC12 OK]. Gaunt avoids the claws, raises his shield (on which Tempus’ symbol is painted) and thunders “BEGONE!!” Two are dissolved by this rebuke [cleric L4 Turn destroys anything below 20hp]. Martel cleaves his sword down through his attacker [smite, 18] and steps forward some paces, eager for the hunt. Carrick casts dancing lights down the passage: a couple of swirling movements can be seen closing in on Martel. Red pushes the raft (and ½-Jack as passenger) down into the water.
Round 2: Two more ghoulish remnants attack Martel: his shield stops some of their attacks but his hide is scored again [SV OK twice]. Gaunt hurls Sacred Flame but misses. Martel smites again but this time the ghoul is not slain outright. Carrick finishes it off with a Ray of Frost. ½-Jack fires his crossbow at the other ghoul, [sneak attack works, 11 damage] severely injuring the thing. Red seizes his spear and thrusts it past Gaunt, but misses.
Round 3: The ghoul misses completely, and Gaunt finishes it off [war-priest].
Coral and corruption
The door at the end of the tunnel proves too solidly-stuck for our heroes to budge, but after a rest back on the raft they try again and Martel pries it open. Water rushes from the tunnel into the chamber beyond, carrying Red with it! But he surfaces spluttering and coughing and as the water settles to its new level we find that we are now in only 4’ of water. Stinking, foul water with bits of ghoul in it. Don’t worry Red: I heard somewhere that Elves are immune to disease.
The modest-size chamber we have found may once have been a shrine. A small bare stone altar is set opposite. The only other things of note are a bone-handled mace hanging from a peg in one wall, near the altar; and stone benches set near the altar.
Testing [i.e. trying to smash] the mace, Martel decides it is probably magical, so with due caution it is wrapped and stored on the raft. We search the altar, finding nothing at first, until Carrick’s long, stick-like arms reach down near floor level and find a secret compartment.
Inside are many gold coins, and two coral versions of the coral and gold statuette we smashed earlier. They are duly smashed, but only after Martel puts it to a group vote: ½-Jack is reluctant to let go anything of value.
[Martel’s player asks the GM for a persuasion test, because 1/2-Jack’s player has previous used a Deceit test on Martel. What goes around comes around, and it’s important for a GM to be consistent about PVP tactics. Gaunt’s player throws in a Help move and they win convincingly.]
We shift all this loot back up top, and take the chance to dry off a little on the furs there. A short rest ensues. [Martel takes 2d10 HD back.]
Is that a light at the end of the tunnel? Or eyes?
It’s now time to search the flooded tunnel beyond the “crab pool” as we term the deep chamber. We maneuver the raft down, with Carrick leading. His dancing lights illuminate the tunnel enough to show that the “door” at the end is an open archway: but as well, rough holes along each wall are revealed, each large enough for a man to squeeze through. Martel calls a halt to think about what that might mean. He’s for pulling back, but we others are for pressing on. So as a compromise he calls for the furs to be lugged down from upstairs, so as to block any traps or critters. But Carrick, who is right next to the holes, investigates by sending a Light spell up one: and giant rats sploosh out of the tunnels and to the attack!
Round 1: Carrick uses Thunderwave on a tunnel but only one rat dies: they are large and tough! Martel misses his thrust with sword, but Gaunt does not: he kills a second. ½-Jack paddles back to the raft and readies the crossbow. Red delays ready with spear, then as rats surge out near Carrick, he kebabs one, to accompanying rat-on-a-stick jokes from the four who ventured through the Underdark. Three down! Then the rats surge around us and Gaunt is bitten badly [crit, 8] and even Carrick’s magical shields are penetrated.
Round 2: Carrick, maddened by losing on the 1:200 chance the rats had of getting him, sprays arcane bolts around [MML2] killing three. Martel manages to kill the rat he is left facing. Gaunt forces his way through the water next to Carrick and kills the remaining rat on that flank, while ½-Jack shoots the last one dead.
The rat tunnels, being so large, are easily checked by ½-Jack. They pong, but not as badly as the ghoul area. They unite in a rough and odiferous chamber where the Halfling’s search turns up three potion bottles and a part-gnawed scroll.
The light at the end of the tunnel is you, burning to death
We move on, to the archway. The flooded chamber beyond is again of reasonable size, and a door is set opposite. Red probes forward with the spear, and finds a trap by the simple expedient of setting it off.
As fine-misted flammable oil sprays the room, we duck below the water, or try to!
[DX SV: DC10 for ½ and DC15 for nil: ½-Jack OK, Martel OK, Red ½, Carrick ½, Gaunt full]
Trapped below water, the flames licking above, at first we are in danger of becoming disoriented and being trapped there! But the paladin’s sword glows, and we are guided back out to safety.
Martel lays hands on Gaunt to cure the worst of his burns [5 back]. Once the flames have died, we push the raft – its flammable load all consumed or ruined – across to the door.
This place leaks like a sieve
It is stubborn, but Martel levers it open with the pry bar. We are all swept through it and jammed up against a portcullis! The water is rushing down, through the portcullis and down a flight of steps! And there’s a lot of water: everything from the steps blocking the ghoul area, back around to where we are, appears to be intent on draining to normal floor level.
It remains to be seen if the steps leading down will be too flooded for us to explore. Assuming we get off the portcullis and get it open!