TI1.13: Beneath the swamp ruin!

 

The characters for this session:

Fennec, Level 2 wizard (no specialty)

Cauleigh, Level 2 warrior (background: literate townsman)

Jotunn, Level 5 warrior (background: hunter; talent: tracker)

Crompton, Level 2 rogue (background: Runebearer; talent: roguery)

Glossary of spell short-hands:

KK: knock-knock, for opening locks

OGA: oh go away, forces weaker foes to flee or stronger foes to go for the caster

OTIS: Oh there it is, for detecting invisible stuff

PP: protective pentagram, impervious barrier around caster

TTYF: take that you fiend, inflicts caster’s IQ x level cast

WoW: will o’ wisp, 1 candlepower cold light, directable

Zap: zappathingum [or zapparmor] tripling effect

 

Aftermath of the battle for Jake’s town

The justifiers of Jake’s town assess wounds and take counsel among themselves as to striking while the iron is hot, warmish or cold.

Crompton is in low health, Fennec is lightly wounded and Cauleigh and Jotunn have suffered mere nicks. It’s decided then. Some scouting to see if the Lizardman are rallying.

A couple of hours later sees Jotunn, with bow, and Cauleigh, with arbalest, scaling the nearest ridgeback. The Lizardmen split up and regathered but as they travel with wounded, and have toted dead humans on makeshift stretchers, Jotunn has been equal to them. Now, the westering sun lights the swampland below and they glimpse the wake of a group travelling directly to where the ruined temple must lie.

Meanwhile Fennec supervises rebuilding work and Crompton rests (and cleans and puts an edge on his knives) and makes unhelpful suggestions about working a bit harder. And a stranger is sighted!

“Is it a Lizardman?” – Crompton

“Aiehh, could be!!!” – panicked lookout

 

News from the south

But it’s not. Jotunn and Cauleigh arrive back to find Jake’s town is hosting an emissary from Sir Cully. Bergamot, weather-beaten and a stranger to regular bathing, tells them he is a mounted scout or ‘pricker’ for Sir Cully.

Aside from checking on them and having something north to do with Evrard, he passes on a message.

“Seems a couple of Elves might have headed into the swamp, so if you see trace of them their people would like to know” – Bergamot

“Bet I know which Elves? One a spell-slinger?” – Fennec

“Aren’t they all?” – Bergamot

“And the other good at tricky fighting?” – Fennec

“Carries a fancy knife, is what I know” – Bergamot

“I sincerely pray they die horribly and painfully” – Fennec

“Yer, well if you find their corpses there’s important people as would like ‘em returned” – Bergamot

 

The Dwarves pay an earring and travel by punt

Having taken further counsel, the four head off to their friendly fisherfolk headman, Pedrocollo. They pay him a shiny earring (unvalued) from the Ravenwood loot and secure guides and a punt for the water route to the temple.

It’s dawn and swamp mist lies at gunwale level as their guides bid them farewell and Jotunn directs Crompton and Fennec to pole towards where the temple must lie. He and Cauleigh are fully armoured, despite the peril should their punt tip. Silence is the watchword!

With a squamous croaking four flaccid flying creatures swoop! Jotunn manages a near-miss with his bow and the creature is kept at bay but the other three have a flying bloodsucking rat at their neck! Cauleigh bashes himself as he deals with his, and Fennec loses some blood, before they are dealt with. [Players are beginning to realize how hard targeting can be]

Suffering no further incident, they reach a wooded and ivied knoll where ruined columns mark the temple. A huge statue stands in still water beyond. Jotunn ties the punt up securely and they clamber up.

 

They plunge urgently into action!

With due caution the four scout around. There is something for all to find: Jotunn spots a dormant croc; Cauleigh spots an ivy-concealed entrance; Fennec determines that the temple is builded of impermeable stone and may extend far below water level; and Crompton finds a lever concealed with drifted leaves and dirt. [Excellent SRs all round, everyone contributes!]

Still as silently as possible, they assign tasks around. Jotunn baits the croc and as it rushes them, it is dispatched. Then Cauleigh investigates the entrance. Ivy conceals a steep flight of steps down, and faint sounds can be heard: so this is indeed a Lizardman lair!

Once he is sure everyone is ready and not before, Crompton operates the lever. The barking growl of surprised Lizardmen is music to Cauleigh’s ears and he plunges in – and barrel-rolls helplessly down at least 30’ of stone steps, landing on a pair of Lizardmen.

That would be the end of his career, but luckily Cauleigh has loyal comrades! Fennec activates a WoW and by its faint light Crompton dashes down and crash-barges one Lizardman. Jotunn and Cauleigh deal with the other, then all three slay the one Crompton has distracted. Two Lizardmen bounties!

 

Down to the depths: they enter epic battle!

A series of mostly-safe chambers and steps leads to a bending tunnel and a broad galley. The Lizardman hold the galley and can pitch javelins at any Dwarf cold enough to show themselves. By a stroke of misfortune, a javelin finds a chink in Jotunn’s armour and he is sore hurt. Then a pair of Lizardmen attack from behind!

Using stunts and swift thinking they deal with this most urgent threat then charge the galley. It’s at this time that Crompton discovers that his throw-blades are powerfully enchanted! [Each is a Zap weapon.] Crompton slides under the surprised Lizardmen and backstabs them as Jotunn Cauleigh and Fennec deal with their front. Two remain and with an OGA and some good footwork they are felled as well. Eight Lizardmen bounties!

 

The battle tips against the Dwarves: Crompton falls!

Buoyed by success they push on, find the galley turns then widens, with two exits. Here, Lizardmen have a chance to attack on two fronts and do so. One dies immediately as the Arquebus bellows! Crompton makes a bold stunt only to have it go horribly wrong, takes a huge hit, and lies dying.

Fennec and Jotunn have perforce to retreat a little until Cauleigh manages to buy some time, then they fight their way back through three Lizardmen and Fennec gets his 2nd-last potion dose down Crompton’s gullet. [An excellent SR on DEX allows this safely]

They pull back, and it’s time for Fennec to try that Poor Baby he learnt. It doesn’t “take” the first time but if he gets enough tries it will. Crompton regains his feet and all four pull back to the first descent.

 

With guts and greed they resume the assault!

Once Crompton is back to the same meagre health as the rest of them they push back in. By that time they have been attacked by hostile thorns that seem to grow from the roof. The Lizardmen boss is a mage, that’s clear.

Reaching the galley once more they find it ‘walled off’ with more thorns. These they patiently burn away, though not before Fennec loses his pack to the writhing vines.

Once again in the broad chamber beyond, the Lizardmen make a concerted attack but this time the Dwarves’s luck holds and they throw them back and follow up another steep flight down.

Twelve Lizardmen bounties!

 

The boss is a Naga!

Plunging down those steps, the Dwarves find themselves fighting across a four-way path, surrounding a pit where rises the bony form of an enchanted Naga! Jotunn and Fennec try a shot each but the creature has locked down inside a PP.

Dispatching the Lizardmen (by this time they are fighting wounded opponents and each has a magical knife) they push past the pit and rest up in a recovery area – after callously butchering the pair of helpless Lizardmen there.

Counting twenty or so bounties, they prep for the boss. Jotunn uses Lizardmen wire to rig a sturdy noose over the entrance.

Just in time!

The Naga surges in to close with them but is tangled enough in the snare that they kill it quickly without further damage.

Having butchered the last four Lizardmen they are free to loot at leisure.

 

Remains of folk

We must draw a veil over exactly what they find as they search each chamber… no wait! We never do that!

The foul stench of rotting meat alerts them to the corpse of the adventurer the fisherfolk mentioned, back when they got the map. His pack, containing many coins, is soon located.

A rank smell of different odour surrounds the bloody bones of a flensed Elf, manacled to a wall. A bent mirror standing opposite suggests he was forced to watch himself being tortured.

A crystal flask, picked up nearby, may have belonged to him.

Within two rooms of that, they find where the other Elf struggled on wounded gravely until his equipment broke or ran out; and where a brave Hobb died scrabbling about with knife and knucks. Not far from the Elf, they find a fancy fighting knife, swathed in Elven runes. And they pinch the Hobb’s ring too.

Rousting about for something to tip the remains into they find two barrels and a chest, and punt the remains out, along with choice bits and the silver and gold coin.

 

Celebrations and farewells

No trace of armour is found, but cautiously dealing with a web-shrouded weapon rack, they do disinter a fine silk sheet, still good, though dirty.

Other treasure is found aplenty – much of it copper coin. As Bergamot would have told them had he remembered, it is not just one tax official that has gone missing over the years. They pick the silver and gold out as they rest up periodically.

A Detect Magic thrown over the pile later picks out the knife and a spherical glass bottle with rust-red liquid. A brooch and such like are also found.

The punt is returned to the fisherfolk with thanks, and a joyous party ensues. The good folk of Jake’s town are just as grateful though in a quieter fashion, as becomes people who have worked extremely hard for their success.

Sir Cully Lucas returns from campaign and Barad-dur the tax bringer pays out the full bounty. It’s time to bid farewell to Jake’s town and the lands of V’laskas as Sir Cully escorts them north and west. But they won’t be going empty-handed!

“Hitch a cart to your pony and pack the barrels of pickled Elf aboard. You can take them as far as Fingold or even Sarnas that way” urges Cully. “You’ll be helping with diplomacy so it’s going to help you in turn.”

 

That’s the session more or less. It was really fun, and I got a good balance of danger. The well-seeded magic throw knives were decisive, they were shared out once Crompton was down and ensured all remaining Lizardmen could be beaten easily. Perhaps I was a little soft with the Naga – they were supposed to remember the holy water they were all armed with, and didn’t, and nor did I, but I will GM-hand-wave that in future and tell them they used it all.

There was a lot of gold and silver. Retrospectively I agreed they could make a job of carting thousands of coppers out and donating them to the locals. Maybe Jake’s town will become a boom town!

All told there was plenty of AP to boost stats with, especially after a generous end-of-season ’rounding up’ from a kindly GM. Everyone has somewhat adequate SPD and there are some good DEX and LK out there too.

And that’s it for the season!

Props

As mentioned the basic set piece comes from OP3, Peat’s Bog (op cit). The pix of temple and statue with the PDF edition are great by the way, very evocative. The temple layout is out of Dodecahedron 2015 (op cit) again, this time it is Beneath Crovet’s Tower. The contents are out of &Magazine’s (op cit) Area Builder again, making ‘Naga’ 100% encounter and with a light rewrite to line some contents up with what people on the outside might say about it.

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