TI2.27: Survive 5, Splatter 6!

Characters for this session

Fennec, L2 wizard

Cauleigh, L3 warrior

Jotunn, L5 warrior

Crompton, L2 rogue

Our four heroes are awaiting Righteous Filbard, his five veteran bearers, four tough warriors drawn evenly from across the heavy hitters and Lefties, the two senior wizards, and Gnat.

With them in the earlier rooms of level 5 are the survivors plus Damper, Sprain and Soup. Sprain is very low on CON, so are the Dwarves. Damper and Soup and the survivors are better off – in double figures.

They are not wholly aware of their surroundings, nor of how long Righteous Filbard may take to arrive.

Crompton is caller

“Thanks for the save back there,” Mizva growls to Cauleigh. “I was down but for you!”

“No problem,” Cauleigh replies. It looks as though Mother Hobb is doing a good job keeping Mizva off the bottle. The survivors tank walks over to Crompton and pats his shoulder.

“Hey, you did great out there. Nice calling.”

“Yes, just doing my job.”

“Good spotting on those zombies and the terrain. Really good.”

“Yeah, you did good!” Burnley and Whitey agree. And so Crompton becomes key decision-maker for the defence. [Also takes a permanent +1 to CHR]

From the darkness, danger stalks

The eleven left to solidify the foothold are in good spirits, especially when they find that given time, Mother Hobb can cover most of the healing needed. With blankets rigged up for the latrines, and closed doors double-checked, it’s time to think about inspecting other areas.

These can be broken down to three. First, there’s the immediate surroundings. Second, there’s the side-cavern to the great wet zombie cavern. Third, there’s all the unknown beyond the twin arches the rails (or channels) lead through.

As they discuss how much light might be needed Jotunn [IQ using hunting] senses movement.

Zombies attack, but the experience of the warriors tells: they are held at the arches and easily dealt with. Beyond away in the dark, Fennec glimpses a pair of yellow eyes.

They next check the rooms they already know of, ensuring nothing evil has crept in. Then warned by Jotunn once again, they rush to defend the arches. Beyond them, two mine-carts are being pushed forward!

Mizva the survivors’ tank backs the rogues up with his lantern shield, and Damper stands ready to his flank. Fennec hurries over to the latter:

“Can you boost me? I need to see inside the carts!”

From the vantage of a tall human Fennec can see that the cart immediately to his fore carries two Morlocks. He’d imagined gunpowder. But he does spot those eyes again and lets drive with a L2 TTYF!

The Morlocks are easily dealt with by the bright light. There are but three. One is killed in the cart, two attempt to retreat and Cauleigh and Jotunn leap around the cart and into them. Each cart has been pushed by a zombie, and those are dealt with as well.

So far so good, though Fennec is tapped out of mana once again!

The wrong kind of drop! Desperate recovery of items!

Deciding not to split the party further, they hunker down to stand guard until Crompton feels the time is right to start probing further. There’s a last room on this “north” side of the arches that has two doors leading “south” beyond. An enemy might use that room to flank them.

In the nick of time! For the eyes of evil  – which they are beginning to think must be the vampiress – are spotted there. As light splashes into the room a bulky shape, perhaps half the size of an ogre, with sharp fangs, can be glimpsed.

Fennec is caught in mid-room without his support! He makes an extra burst of speed and out, but leaves his staff behind!

Cauleigh dashes in! Fennec’s staff is too important! Whammm! A painful cascade of orange bathes him and he falls nose down, apparently dead.

But Cauleigh has presence of mind to throw up his magical shield as he dashes, and most of the damage is absorbed by it. [leaving him with a CON of 1 as his CON had not been at full at that point] He is awake but stunned.

“Oh fine, I suppose I can’t abandon my meat-shield,” Fennec grumbles and ducks in. Then glass shatters between him and escape, as something small is flung, and orange mist pools out and begins forming… something.

A weird bipedal dragon-like thing forms from the vapour and a vicious fight develops around the doorway.

Meanwhile Cauleigh rolls over to find a face grinning down at his. He whips his shield up, determined not to be hypnotised! Then rolls to the door and under the dragon-warrior.

Fennec’s GlueYou does not work on the summoned creature! But, once the other warriors cut down its ability to move and breathe fire, Crompton shoots it with the enchanted arquebus, and Cauleigh chops up at it from below with his bladed shield, it slowly dissolves again.

Fearing yet more arcane blasts they use rope to hook Cauleigh’s other gear and bring it back to him.

Another assault, weirder than the last

The next assault comes from the arches again where strange collections of bone creatures advance. They have only one thing in common: they all bear a weapon of some sort!

For this, the twin tanks Mizva and Damper excel, blocking the arches then pounding the bone creatures back to shards. Jotunn and Cauleigh use their athletic abilities to leap in around the flanks.

But behind the bone golems the bulking evil lurks – something weirdly feminine about it – and this time Jotunn is hammered by the TTYF. It fades back before Fennec can do more than hit it once with his own TTYF.

[I use TTYF here because it ties in with shatterzone Uruks using it. Curse You would have been a better fit. And there’s something very scary about being cursed and that stat not coming back.]

Gnat says: we’ll be ready soon, and would you like this wand to take the fun out of it all?

As they rest wearily, Soup confesses he has a wand that generates an illusion, but takes concentration. So they set torches and he rests by a doorway, watching his illusory warrior patrolling.

Resting and watching. Being healed. The hours tick by.

Then something blurs out of the dark near the entrance, kicks the illusion in the head – passing straight through – and bounces off the nearest wall.

“Hi Gnat, what took you?”

“Funny,” Gnat returns in an unfunny tone. She joins them in their camp.

“I’ve been detailed off to let you know how things are going. It should take about three more hours. How’s things going with… whatever?”

“We’re holding things off… the vampiress has had one go at us already… we saw off zombies and bone things…” all these and more are pressed in on the diminutive heavy hitter.

“So you’re held up… well I do have a gadget.”

So saying Gnat hands over a wand that detects enemies. It has charges, she seldom uses it, because, not so much fun.

Crompton deputes Burnley, the nippiest rogue on his feet, as scout. He uses the wand like it’s free magic. Using it, the teams move quickly through the remainder of level 5:

  • One of the doors leading “south” encloses a set of luckless kobolds, slaves to work in the mines. The two sides have the Dwarven tongue in common. They feed Crompton some useful information about the side-passage off the great wet, including that there are more of their work gang there. Crompton frees them.
  • The other door leads via Morlock living quarters – where a current Morlock pay-chest and a long-forgotten Morlock pay-chest are found – back to the main mine passage. Opposite that, the last processing chamber lies long abandoned. The end of the main passage is visible from there, one tunnel leading away from it.
  • That tunnel definitely slopes down!
  • The side passage off the great wet is duly checked by a sub-party of rogues. They free the kobolds there.

Let the assault commence!

By the time the rogues head back out, Righteous Filbard’s bearers are wading the great wet, with the wizards and warriors standing guard.

And so it’s time to make some final decisions and speeches, and tackle level 6!

I’ve invited strategies off the players over the past four sessions and had very little back. Based on them choosing to guard Filbard’s bearers and the success of teaming up with the survivors, I decide Two and Bless have gone with a “strong diversion” tactic.

“We and the Lefties will head down the main passage. Our job is to make a lot of noise and draw the defence. We’ll be in touch for the hour my spell lasts. Your job is to guard Filbard and get him to the shrine and make sure he purges it.

“And can I make the point, this is the time when you all – please – I beg you – stop conserving gadgets and use them. And don’t forget your holy water!”

Gnat yoinks her Oh Dread wand back from Burnley, lifts her hand crossbow with the holy water vial bolt in salute, and smirks confidently. The survivors glance around at each other and nod to Crompton. They’ll stick with the Dwarves.

 

Skeletal guardians guard the forgotten wing

On level 6, all is as it was left, except that Crompton, who has placed himself in the lead and using a Cateyes, can pick up traces of small feet where Spriggans wandered in, found it boring, and left again. There are two doors right, one left, and one on the far end of this large chamber. The one on the left has elaborate decor around it, though, so does the far door. Cauleigh has confidently pronounced them to be of “religious significance.”

Crompton waves Burnley, who is now using a detect-traps wand, forward. Yes, the far door is trapped.

“Can you undo a trap?”

“Sure. Knock-knock.”

Crompton leaps even further back as the door shifts a little and there is a faint hiss as displaced air seeps through. After a nervous ten minutes the door is eased open…

A skeletal being, the size of a wolf, bounds out – followed by two more!

Aside from these creatures needing magical weapons to harm them, they are not difficult to defeat. Especially once Mizva joins them from his rearguard position. The passage they guarded leads to a similar door, and it is similarly unlocked. At this point, Fennec breaks in with narrative:

“The others are fighting creatures… big hag… wolf thing… Oh – one of the Lefties just tried to kill himself – they’re piling on him”

In response, Crompton pushes on ahead faster.

The chamber beyond is strange, to say the least. Its roof is supported by a massive but ornate pillar, with strange runes boldly carved on it. A small thin pillar stands nearby each of the four faces. The floor is swept clean and an elaborate design, possibly mosaic, covers a wide stretch of floor left of the pillars from where they have entered.

The only other possible exit ends in a broad dead-end, facing the design. But Crompton feels along that wall and finds eye-holes and a lever to unlatch a panel. Standing on his pack, he can see the other two parties finishing up from their combat, checking surroundings. He begins making creepy noises [not true but trying to say ‘hi guys how’s it going’ through concealed eye-holes counts as being creepy] then decides just to open the panel. But then:

 

Trouble ahead! Dwarves to the flank!

Gnat calls enemy ahead and the heavy hitters shake out again, Lefties supporting them. Crompton giggles – Lardo and Sprain are trying to use those huge polearms the zombie-shepherds were waving round, and they look out way of balance. [STR burns quickly using too-heavy weapons, but if an enemy is put down in one round it’s worth it]

Cauleigh calls from the rear:

“If they’ve got trouble we need to get through the other flank! Come on!”

Shrine of the fallen falls to the righteous

The party order reverses as they all run back to the big forgotten chamber and move to the “main” door, the one with the most ornate decor around.

Heaving it open they behold a mighty shrine to the dead! On the opposite side, but left of their door, a strange corrupt idol looms over misty, green-glowing lichen walls, where the dead seem to reach out from ledges. And on the floor, so many dead, some undead perhaps, but all awaiting the call to battle.

Across the shrine they go, shielding Filbard. The chamber opens out even wider, and lower, leftward. Fennec catches a glimpse of something that way, quickly vanishing.

On their right, they see a mighty Ogre, or Ogre-corpse, wielding a hefty axe like a willow switch, and beside it a slighter figure but still bulky with muscle, though unpleasantly feminine as well. [This is the Ogre from the first assault into Level 3, and the second and final Night Hag]

These two final defenders last until they are overrun by the heavy hitters and Lefties warriors.

Moving left, the Dwarves see that the further chamber is blocked at its far end by masses of tumbled stonework and boulders. But this broad chamber, which is lower than the shrine, is part-filled with mist.

There is a pause as Filbard begins purging the idol and temple. The other groups spread out. Two and Bless throw three Dispels between them, cutting a path through the mist. But there’s no secret door, the rubble is really rubble.

“I’m getting a faint reading – straight ahead,” reports Gnat.

After an hour, Filbard’s task is complete. Fennec can feel a sense of mana powering down. The shrine is filled with dead, but they are really dead. The mist, too, begins dispersing.

Silly vampire! We can detect you! Now fall!

Cross-checking on the first reading confirms the danger really is beyond the rubble. A passage leads out of the lower chamber and through a few abandoned rooms to the vampire’s lair. All that bars their way is an immense pile of bones at a doorway, and this is dispelled then pounded to shards before it can activate. Just in case.

Bereft of allies and mana stripped down to her own supply the vampiress makes her stand.

Crompton notices Lardo stepping behind Two, and warns the party quickly enough – the warrior is bundled to one side and the vampire approached.

Gnat shoots her with the holy water, and at least two rogues fling theirs as well.

And the vampire is overrun and dies.

I wondered if  Cauleigh and Jotunn would stunt in and be tricked – she had a gadget – but they choose straight combat as it turns out. Good choice.

One more door… again… and disaster

The vampire’s lair is decked with all manner of curiosities, but perhaps disappointed that there are no piles of gold, Cauleigh proposes a short extra search. Fennec and Crompton agree…

The third room they try seems empty… then a strange shark-like form rises out of the stone floor, draws itself up on limbs and attacks!

Cauleigh is smashed away into the opposite wall, Fennec is spun off his feet by Cauleigh’s hurtling form, and Crompton’s gunne misfires. The land-shark chows down on them… but the GM is soft and lets them go with damaged armour as they flee.

It’s a bittersweet discovery – the two doors off the first chamber they even came on in Level 6 are both treasuries.

A salute to the re-founders of Fingold

It is the next day, perhaps, if time has been measured after healing and sleep are dealt with. The Dwarves, cleaned up and in what remains of their best, are in the citadel council chamber. They wear each a new gold token at their neck, denoting their status in the Guild. Duchess Melissa, QMGLC Saundra and the arch-mage stand.

“A toast! To the four Dwarves who changed our fortune! We now have peace on our east, a gold mine with which to buy mercenaries, and a future!”

“Truly, the god Ikmal guided our footsteps!” Cauleigh responds, not to be outdone. The arch-mage smiles behind his snowy beard. Saundra purses her lips but nods: The gold and silver looted is pouring into her coffers as equipment is replaced and spells purchased. Melissa smiles radiantly and raises her goblet again:

“To you four, the re-founders of Fingold!”

We have one more session for this season, since I want the Dwarves to feel they are definitely moving upriver once more. Fennec’s plan, at this stage, is to head for Hathlisveit, then dip south of the river to follow up his treasure map. Stay tuned!

Props

Dyson’s Dodecahedron 2014 provided me with Levels 3 to 6, though altered slightly to enable connections between. &Magazine’s generators provided room descriptions, monsters and loot, and needed relatively little alteration, just a few tweaks so it fitted together with mining and an ancient temple.

I also downloaded some dungeon themed noises from DriveThruStuff.com. I think that’s the first time I have used ‘sound effects’ and it certainly works as a signal that attention might need to be paid! A ‘clanging noises in the distance’ kind of track really enhanced the final Morlock attack.

Also, me! I crafted 2D versions of Levels 5 and 6 using black craft paper stuck to wargame boards or mats. Parts that players could not see were covered with throws or more paper. I think overall, it helped with the levels of paranoia. It did make set-up logistics an issue though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s