We have been lucky to be able to play a couple of weeks in a row. This was another really good session – lots of fun (at least for me) with the reverse gravity trap, a rather tough combat and a lot of thinking by the players. They have again found something they can’t pass (yet) and located their second black gate. While they didn’t actually try using it, they believe they understand the function now. More player handouts. I wrote these up a long time ago and it was fun to remind myself what was in them. It was good to see one of the players referring to them when they were trying to work out things with the statues.
Boris remains in Falsford, hoping to find someone who remembers him, and recover lost memories. The group arrives at FalsHold mid-morning and as they approach Lanliss notices movement on the wall between the gatehouse and south-west tower. They skirt around to the south of the hold and climb up into the tower. There are signs that goblins have been dwelling in the tower overnight. A number of bags and boxes appear to have been abandoned in a hurry. Some coins, gems and mundane equipment is found when the tower is searched and tracks of goblins and some bigger humanoids are located. The gatehouse has similar signs – tracks, a still burning fire and tent fabric hung up to dry. Lanliss suspects that some hobgoblins may have joined the goblins. They make a check of all the other towers, but sight no goblins. Three ghouls are destroyed in the north-east tower. They head down to the toll gate, finding the corpse of a recently dead goblin. Vermin appear to have cleared the bodies around the pipe, leaving bones and bloodstains. There are no unusual sounds and the party heads downstairs and across to the chamber with the hole in the floor.
The last door in that room is reinforced and difficult to open. It proves to have a spring trap that Lanliss disarms, only to find the room behind empty of all but dust. Past where the shadows were encountered is a room with a large animated skeleton and a chest. Hardaz charges in to attack and falls up, hitting the ceiling. Lanliss follows, landing safely on the his feet on the ceiling. They attack the skeleton and are then both dumped to the floor. The skeleton is quickly destroyed. Experimentation determines that the centre of the room has a reverse gravity field that activates and deactivates randomly, only effecting living creatures. The chest is empty of all but a single copper piece and a note saying “beat you to the good stuff”. Narrow passageways lead past false doors and rejoin, guarded by a murk. The incorporeal purple humanoid figure drains wisdom from Bacon. The dwarf (with the aid of a magic fang spell) aids Lanliss in defeating it. They heal and find stairs descending.
The next level is brightly lit and as Lanliss leads the way into a long wide hall, he overlooks a trap. For the next minute or so he gives off a foul stench that hinders his actions and those close to him. The hall has multiple passages leading off from it, and wider stairs going down guarded by two skeletons. These are quickly destroyed but two better armed and armoured skeletons are sighted close to the west. As the group moves to engage they also sight four zombies. The zombies are dealt with effectively as the main warriors in the group carefully swap weapons suited to fighting their opponents, but the skeletons are much more difficult opponents. A goblin chained to the wall, frantically strikes a metal shield with a hammer. Doors further to the west are flung open and a skeletal humanoid figure emerges with another two armoured skeletons and complains about the noise interrupting his research. He send his guards forward and fires a set of magical missiles at Merxif, seriously wounding the gnome. Lanliss tumbles around the skeletons to engage the leader, and Hardaz pushes forward to flank. Hardaz resists a fear spell but is still shaken for a moment. The creature rants about killing some of them and using others for experiments. Bacon and Winter bludgeon the skeletons, Merxif channels positive energy, and Hardaz and Lanliss continue to press the undead leader. Seldrel uses grease on the floor to topple skeletons, and then his wand of magic missile. The fight is long, with pretty much everyone wounded. After all are healed they search the two chambers.
Hardaz attempts to get information from the goblin, who seems rather unbalanced. It argues that the dwarf should kill him or release him, so Hardaz strikes him down. Seldrel and Lanliss note the western wall is engraved, scratched and scrawled with short phrases in many languages – they seem to be prayers or requests to many different gods. The zombies had been chipping at a stone column with metal bars. The chamber the leader came from holds a desk with lots of notes, a spell book and a black obsidian door. It looks exactly like the one in the shrine to Iuz. Seldrel happily claims the spell book, and Lanliss and Merxif sort through the notes. Most mention tests the creature was trying on the black gate, trying to activate it, and also references to deities, their symbols and favoured weapons. Another skeleton guards a group of three cells, but not for long. The first cell holds goblins, all three of which immediately try to run past the party to escape. Only one actually makes it. Winter moves out to the hall to try and get a shot at the goblin, but it is too quick. Another cell has a small dwarf-like humanoid in one corner and a eyeless humanoid chained to a wall. Lanliss tries to calm the growling humanoid saying he will release it, but as soon as one hand is free of the manacles it claws at him. He kills it, and the group try to communicate with the quiet prisoner, who resembles a dwarf in shape, though smaller and wrapped almost entirely in dark rags. The humanoid speaks a language none of the group understand, though it does seem to respond to Lanliss speaking common. It is offered a dagger, which it happily accepts and it they allow it to leave. The last cell has two hobgoblins. Lanliss speaks goblin, and they learn that the leader they killed was a Deathlock, named Imsha. The hobgoblins were caught when they were exploring “from above” and used to keep the goblins and other slaves in line. They seem pleased that the Deathlock is dead. Lanliss doesn’t trust them and the sight of Winter readying a bow through the barred window confirms the hobgoblins distrust of the elves. They attack when Hardaz and Lanliss enter the cell, but weakened and without weapons they are knocked out and then killed.
Twelve more rooms are off the main hall, and each contains a ten foot high statue of one of the Flanae deities. Most are human, though statues of both Moradin and Corellon are quickly recognised by the party. All are of well carved, painted, and with one exception bright and magical. The statue of Boccob, greater god of magic is pale gray and lacks the vibrancy (and magic aura) of the others. The final room at the end of the hall has a great arch carved with the words “The Hall of the Gods”. Within a great polished granite block states “Prove your knowledge and show your skill, With a touch of the blood, our hands you’ll fill; Direct the magic and choose the right sign, Recognised, named, our gift will be thine.” Some of the deathlock’s notes seem to make sense, particularly in regard to Boccob. The party believes if they can activate a statue they will receive something. Returning to the statue of Corellon, Seldrel names the deity and places a longsword in its open hand. The sword becomes part of the statue and “Corellon” appears engraved on the front of the plinth. Lanliss makes a crescent moon from a silver piece and places it on the plinth, while Seldrel casts expeditious retreat (based on one of the god’s domains being celerity) and drips some blood on the plinth. The statue fades to a gray colour and a wand appears on the plinth. All three elves in the group are blessed by a prayer spell. Seldrel identifies the wand as one of blur. While Seldrel recognises many of the human deities, he doesn’t recall all their powers and domains. Merxif records a detailed description of each of the statues and they decide they will spent time in Falsford researching who each statue represents and what they might need to do to activate them.
Two secret doors are found in this area. One has a circular depression that Lanliss thinks needs something pressed into it. Oddly, Merxif sees the depression as a triangle shape. The second door is opened easily and a dusty, long unused tunnel leads to a pile of stones. The dwarves realise that the stones have been placed to suggest the ceiling has collapsed. They spend a few hours moving the stones to make the passage passable, and continue. After perhaps two hundred feet there is a an rusted and locked iron door. Lanliss fails to picks the lock. The wide stairs down lead into what seems to be a large series of caves. The party decides to return to Falsford. As they exit the keep, the gargoyle dives down and attacks. It calls them thieves and wounds Hardaz. This time, with magical weapons they are able to inflict serious wounds, and Winter shoots it down as it tries to fly away.