This session was a lot of fun. We only had 4 of the six players but that’s never stopped us before. The players encountered creatures they have never seen before – which is always interesting. Low level characters often meet things they shouldn’t know about, but the players often have knowledge their characters wouldn’t. The group is starting to think about skills they want to develop as they go up levels, and have realised that some things they meet may be more powerful than they they would normally expect to encounter. The gargoyle in this session is a good example of this – they only did damage to it because of some quick thinking by the players and utilising their items and abilities. The session had a good range of fighting, thinking and planning in it.
The party’s attention now turns to the main building with its corner towers. The lower floor looks quite solid, but little more than badly damaged walls seem to remain of the second story. They approach from the side, sighting arrow slits that face the open doorway into the structure. A barred window allows a glance into the dark and empty corner tower. Lanliss suggests going up the wall to the second level. The mule is tied to a boulder out of the way and a good throw by Bacon hooks a grapnel. He swings confidently up, and promptly has part of the wall break under his feet; he slips and falls. His second attempt is much better, and everyone else is aided to the top. This area is not wide and only eighty feet long. The afternoon sunshine shows some grass, broken walls, a few trees, piles of broken rock and a number of statues. The closest is a man in robes with his arms out slightly and around his neck hangs a red cord with what look like large silver dice. Lanliss carefully examines the statue and the floor around it, while Hardaz is concerned with how detailed the statue is. They concede that it seems to be safe, and not someone petrified. The statues are in different poses, of different stone, and in varied condition. Two are winged, most show damage and oddly, some have jewellery on or near them. They collect the silver dice necklace and claim a gold flagon. Lanliss gets nervous as they approach an elven statue with a jade headband. As a result, Hardaz backs away towards another “statue” that rasps “Leave them alone…” The gargoyle gores the dwarf. There is a panic as the group tries to reach positions to attack from and quickly realise that their weapons don’t even scratch the creatures stony hide. Seldrel coats his sword with an oil of Magic Weapon, which he passes to Hardaz. Winter casts Magic Fang on the monk and both dwarves move to strike – each getting a blow before the Gargoyle launches into the air. With only a limited time that their weapons will remain magical, the group elects to flee downstairs. Bacon watches as the Gargoyle lands high up on the side of the cliff above the building. They heal, then quickly make their way back up to loot the headband and pick up a few gems. Back in the tower, they explore the guard towers and entrance hall which shows signs of recent digging. Many of the chambers are small, with vacant doorways; all are empty and most have dust and cobwebs. Light cast on shields and stones illuminates the darkness and the further back into the building they go, the more they find the rooms are damaged and have suffered collapse. One hallway is not dusty, and shows signs of cleared cobwebs. It leads to a narrow flight of stairs down. They sight rats, the tracks of tiny vermin and more cobwebs. Three dire rats attack from rubble in one room, and Lanliss strikes down a spider the size of a dog in another. Its web-filled lair has the dry husk of a small humanoid that grants them with a few coins and a magical wand of Mage Armor.
Going back to get the mule, they realise that the sun is setting and decide to camp in one of the keep’s towers. Lanliss notes light in the gatehouse during the first watch, Bacon hears noise outside during the second, and there are yells, screams, then dirt and stones flung throw the windows. Everyone but the gnome wakes up. A few shapes fleeing toward the now dark gatehouse, and then southward are presumed to be goblins. Winter on the last watch of the night hears a wolf out in the courtyard. With cloud overhead and two new moons, she can see nothing outside and wakes Bacon, but even his darkvision can’t spot the creature. When all seems quiet again he goes back to sleep.
Seldrel grumbles about his interrupted sleep, but luckily he hadn’t cast his main spells the day before. They head downstairs finding stone block walls, a few cobwebs overhead, but not the dust of unused chambers. A large room shows signs that furniture was once attached to the floor and walls in rows. They find a small pot full of green crystals. No one recognises them, and without alchemy skills, they pack it away unidentified. Six small square rooms all exit the main passage, with one still blocked by a magical iron door. Lanliss can’t unlock it, but as he explores the passage, he finds that someone has used magic to make a hole into the now empty vault through the wall of the adjacent room. He also realises that the end wall of the passage pivots and the passage extends into a small room. Two bricked up doorways are on either side of a brick wall with a narrow gap at the top and a roughly five foot square hole blocked by a metal plate. There is a loud chime as they approach, and then high-pitched voices yelling. After a while a creature calls out that “Dis is da toll.” The metal plate slides aside revealing a 5’ wide, twenty foot long iron pipe. “You pay an we let you in da pipe. Pay one siliver each, two for da dwarves and gnome – drop in hole in pipe. Den we open other gate.” The group decides to pay the 9 silver pieces requested, and tie up the mule here, which won’t fit in the pipe. Through holes in the brick walls and the pipe they get glimpses of small blue skinned humanoids.
The pipe opened into a larger room with four exits, and as upstairs, no doors. Rubble was scattered around the room and a stirge flew out of a hole in one wall. It dived at Bacon who avoided it, and it was killed before it could try to attach itself to anyone else. There were tapping sounds from the south and the group headed that way – finding two adjacent rooms. One had a set of carved panels showing different creatures along one wall, the other had two giant ants sorting through rocks and debris. The ants were creating the noise as they lifted and dropped rocks. A third ant was observed to enter from another passage, pick up an object and head down the passage with it. Seldrel looked at the creature panels and they group debated attacking the ants. Once most of them had moved in behind the ants, the ants stopped sorting debris and combat commenced. The two original ants died quickly, while the third ant returned, attacked and was wounded. It fled back down the passage. Lanliss followed, stopping at side room with a larger soldier ant. Winter moved in to join him and was stung, but not poisoned. By the time it is killed, there is no sign of the other ant. A third chamber has objects sorted into piles – stones, old food, clothing scraps, silver coins and some gems. Merxif crawled into a narrow tunnel that led out from the room but after a considerable distance it started to divide and he quickly returned.
They all return to the room with the panels, and Lanliss locates a secret door next to the panels, but cannot open it. He does learn that the panels can be depressed and they spending considerable time working out what each of the creatures displayed are. They are arranged in alphabetical order – Bat, Chimera, Fire elemental, Gnoll, Minotaur, Pegasus, Rust monster(?), Satyr, Wolf. They try pressing a few combinations to no avail, while Seldrel looks over the notes they retrieved on Fals Hold. He suggests pressing F and S, and the door slides open. Behind is a small chamber with a magically lit lantern, two chairs and a small desk – all old and well carved. They find a few trinkets of minor value, five bottles of whiskey, and then stuck at the back of a drawer – a signet ring (with an ornate FS) and a loose parchment sheet. The writing on it mentions fighting goblins in the Kron Hills, and the tunnels under the Krag. They check that they can open and close the secret door and decide to take the chairs and desk with them when they leave. They also pry the lantern off the wall.
Heading north, they pass some rooms empty but for bits of rubble, sight stairs down ahead, and an odd swirling grey mist. The mist floats towards Lanliss, who retreats. It drifts out into the passage where the group is now lined up and it engulfs Merxif. He feels slightly weakened. It then strikes at Bacon who collapses to the floor. Seldrel blasts the mist with a Burning Hands spell, hardly doing any damage. Merxif forces his way forward and out of the mist. Weapon blows seem to sweep through it, having no effect. Merxif casts Magic Weapon on Lanliss’ sword. Lanliss swings at the mist, cutting it to shreds, which dissipate. Puzzled by what they have just fought, they are thankful to have found a way to defeat it. Bacon turns out to be asleep, and is easily woken, though he too feels weakened. Back where the mist was first seen lies the corpse of a small blue skinned humanoid. No-one knows what it is, but they are reminded of the creatures glimpsed at the toll-gate.
The next two chambers appear empty except for broken rock. As Lanliss enters the second, two long arms reach out, trying to grab him around the throat. The rest of the group moves up to assist. The choker is soon killed. The hole it had made above the doorway also contains coins, gems, jewellery, a scroll and a potion. The last two rooms near the stairs contain a 3-legged stool, and three Fire beetles eating moss. The beetles are quickly despatched and their glowing glands detached to use as light sources. The group discusses continuing onward, or leaving for Falsford. Both Bacon and Merxif feel their strength return.