FalsKrag Session 20 – Vampire / The Great Stair

The first usage of a black gate, some unexpected undead and the group now wants to know where the vampire keeps his coffin. Yet one more thing on the list of stuff not known. Merxif’s player has wanted to use that skull for a while – twice before he was ready, but other actions taken before his turn made it not worthwhile. Another unusual secret door. I’ve ruled that knock spells don’t open secret doors with complex mechanisms – some doors require a specific task to open. The arena combat was fun. I’d expected that one or two people might enter and trigger the event, rather than the whole group at once. The initial summoned creatures were no threat, but the air elemental in whirlwind form rolled over the whole group in one round and picked up most of them (auto damage each round, and penalties on their attacks).

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7th Patchwall: Each of the five passages is cautiously examined. Most end in false doors, each trapped in a different way. An old skeleton in a pit yields some treasure – most notably a bag of holding with an assortment of gear and a stuffed parrot that provides considerable amusement. The central passage appears to end with an open pit, but both the pit and far wall are an illusion, behind which is a “black” gate showing a still image of the Fals Hold courtyard – one that shows everything in good condition, not ruined and abandoned. Hardaz walks through; the others wait but hear no noise. They see nothing different in the image – no dwarf appears. Merxif walks through tied to a rope and Bacon plays out the length. He is unable to pull the rope back, but it remains tight as he presumes the gnome continues forward. Everyone else follows. All have emerged in the courtyard of the Hold at the position seen in the image. It appears to be early morning as all is in deep shadow, but sunlight can be seen on the hills to the south and west. The courtyard is full of ruin and long grass and they surmise that they have not travelled in time.

Movement within the main building proves to be some well armoured skeletons. A voice calls out from further in – someone trapped by the undead. When they enter the hall and attack, a human emerges and flanks a skeleton. Merxif draws his blue skull and casts Undeath to death. Three of the skeletons are reduced to dust, and the human screams – becoming a cloud of mist that retreats through the building.

The group suspects he was a vampire and gives chase. There is a faint disturbance in the dust on the floor, and Bacon locates a secret door in the northern wall of the old kitchen. Opening it, he and Lanliss hear noise from the guard tower nearby. The group hurry out and find four ghouls, two of which are digging at the pile of rubble. The ghouls are killed without anyone being wounded. Lanliss thinks they should check the towers regularly when they come to the keep, since this is about the third time they have found a ghoul or more than one in this tower. The dwarves start shifting rubble and soon reveal a large stone trapdoor. Once they can open it, there is a ladder going down and then stairs. A secret door opens onto the level where many undead where encountered before. The mist form is now long gone and the group return to the ground floor building. Another search of the kitchen finds the skeleton of a goblin under rubble, along with a magical ring of resistance. The gear of the skeleton warriors is mostly masterwork and happily looted.

The group proceed down to the Hall of the Gods where they activate the statue of Baravar (Merxif’s patron, Gnomish deity of Trickery and Illusion), gaining a wand of Sanctuary. They continue back to the caves where they were earlier, aiming to fill in the holes on their map starting to the east. There is some minor magical items retrieved from the nests of the birds. Close-by caves have normal size vermin, mostly rats and spiders, though a giant scorpion attacks Lanliss.

Further to the west, a long tunnel has a large smooth block of stone engraved “NEWS” with many cut and scratched messages in different languages. They determine that there is a hollow behind the block and think that it can slide upwards, but can’t find any way to make it move. A cave with fallen rock hides some silver coins. While they start moving rocks to uncover the coins they are attacked by invisible enlarged grey dwarves and a priest. The rocks and rubble on the floor make the combat more challenging as the group has difficulty moving to support each other. The dwarves have an assortment of useful gear, though a lot of it isn’t worth selling. The next cave has two tall hooded statues. There is nothing remarkable about them, but a silver chalice and pouch of magical black soot is found hidden away in a gap behind one statue. A little more exploration shows they have now linked all the passages on their map. They are disappointed that there appears to be no other access to the space behind the western secret door, which could be fairly large.

Up to fungi caves, and through to the great staircase. Going up a hundred feet brings them to a small room with a stone table, and an archway of purple flame marked “Trial of Fire”. Bacon runs through, being badly burnt and looks around a little bit then yells back to the group what he could see. On the wall is a circular depression divided into four parts. He drinks a potion of healing and rests while the group discuss how or if they should proceed. Eventually they realise that they have means to provide fire resistance. Merxif uses a wand on Lanliss who passes through the wall of fire without harm. Together Lanliss and Bacon look at each of the four chambers. The first is a set of short passages with jets of flame shooting out from the walls. They determine a pattern to the jets and Lanliss works out a safe position to run to and observe the next part of the puzzle. He soon makes his way through safely and recovers a curved section of white glass that would fit into the circular hole at the fire arch. The second hall is low, has a smooth metal floor and many blocks of stone that stick out of the floor and ceiling. They realise that the floor heats and cools in a regular pattern, and when it reaches its coolest, Lanliss moves quickly through the hall, using acrobatics to rolls and pivot around the obstacles to the other end. He claims a yellow curved glass pieces and returns.

The third hall has a floor covered in flickering blue flames, throughout which raised stepping-stones protrude. He carefully jumps from stone to stone, taking his time and at the end finds an orange piece of curved glass. The last chamber has another wall of flame. On one side a stone ramp leads up and over the high point of the flame, and on the other side a water filled tunnel looks to go under the flames. Lanliss notes that the water is warm, not hot and strips down. He swims through emerging beyond the wall of flame and takes the fourth glass piece – red. Returning, he dries off in the heat of the flame wall and then he an Bacon place all the pieces into the wall hole. The initial flame barrier vanishes. Both Lanliss and Bacon feel quite cool, and Seldrel determines that they both have a powerful fire resistance spell active. The others enter, and they see that the fire effects in all the halls have ceased.

Further up the stairs there is a hall engraved with images of warriors fighting in an arena. A large room with four warrior statues is surrounded by a balcony. A magical summoning symbol is engraved on the floor. The group enters together and a bell rings. A voice announces that the challenge will begin with the second bell. Merxif casts prayer, Seldrel blur on himself and Merxif. They position themselves and small fire elemental appears. It is killed quickly, but replaced by a giant wasp, then a wolverine, then a large air elemental. Only the air elemental is a challenge – forming a whirlwind it glides about the room battering everyone and picking up Lanliss, Hardaz, Winter and Merxif. A combination of magic and melee eventually defeat it. A bell rings, and everyone is fully healed.

Ral Partha – Dwarves

I would have completed two dwarves last weekend, except that when I set them up to take pictures today I noticed that I still hadn’t painted the eyes on one. Now they might be finished… While browsing the web to get some more detail on each figure, I saw the first guy painted with tusks/horns on his helmet. I like the look of that (instead of just spikes) and I’ll repaint my figure this afternoon, then take them outside for a varnish.

Both figures are by Tom Meier, and produced by Ral Partha in the late 1980’s. Metal figures. 01-323/03-025 Dwarf Fighter and 03-046 Dwarf Champion.

They were pretty easy to paint, and I’ve kept everything fairly simple. The champion did have a sword point sticking out of his left fist originally. This figure has seen a lot of use previously for MERP and D&D, and the tip broke off long ago. I’ve often thought about finding or making a replacement bit, but there’s a fair chance that any glued on replacement would also get broken.


The only complaint I have with these is the axe the fighter holds. I have quite a number of dwarves with axes like this. The axe has a large blade and the haft/handle is short. I feel this should have a much longer handle for balance, whether used one or two-handed.

It’s Snotlings, but not as you know it…

I’ve completed this group of 14 snotlings from Warhammer Quest (GW) in pretty much two days, which could be a record (for me) for painting that many figures in a short time. While the weather has been a cold mess recently, I got enough sunshine Friday morning to spray them white and let them dry outside, and again this morning to give them two coats of clear acrylic.


I chose these for two reasons. Firstly, I’ve been writing a section of my mega-dungeon that has a group of gremlins – rather small humanoids. I have a good batch of painted GW goblins, but no small humanoids (apart from my distinctive kobolds) for general purpose use. These are just the right size for generic small humanoids, and there’s a lot of them. Second, while they have some nice detail, each is simply holding a club and wearing a loincloth. I expected them to be pretty easy and quick to paint, and they were!


These have only been used as Snotlings when I was playing Warhammer Quest regularly. Now, with a standard (not-green) flesh colour, they will stand in for any small humanoid, be it gremlin, mite, or darkfolk. They are 3 feet high by D&D’s scale. I picked three colours to paint the loin cloths, so I can always use a specific colour to represent a particular group, or just throw them all in together. I also clipped off a few club spikes for a tiny bit of variety.

I’m very happy having some more painting done, especially something that will see use. Now I can go back to trying to ignore at the 12 undercoated figures on the side of my painting desk like I have for past months.


FalsKrag Session 19 – Puzzles and Monsters

Lots of exploring, checking for traps and some entertaining events and conversation. Two areas in this session required thought and planning to work through, most of which required the players to think in addition to making relevant skill rolls. I enjoy puzzles that can’t simply be solved with a dice roll, and a lot of the information that can be obtained in the adventure (whether written text in different languages, pictures, statues, or rumours) gives hints to some of the puzzles or areas. The group now have a large collection of handouts, maps and notes from our gaming.

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6th Patchwall: The group hopes that the branching tunnels will reconnect and so head north. A tunnel leading west then joins up with where they were before. Returning east, a rounded cave has four identical statues of an armoured dwarf with glowing eyes, holding a warhammer. Each is engraved in dwarven – “Honour to Khaban”. Lanliss notes the hammer pommel can be depressed and Bacon observes a variation of one hammer decoration. He walks around pressing each, starting with the different one. Each statue calls out (in dwarven) “the might of Khaban endures”. Hardaz wants to push all at the same time, so four of the group each choose a statue – the resulting roar of voices deafens Lanliss, Seldrel and Summer for minutes. Bacon notes the eyes of his statue glow slightly dimmer than the others, and puts his fingers in the eye holes. The statue pivots revealing a gem and a magical beetle amulet. A gray ooze is attracted by the noise and attacks Lanliss and Bacon. Most are hesitant to attack with their weapons – fearing corrosion – but Winter shoots it and Bacon pummels without fear. He takes minor acid damage, but kills the ooze.

The next caves have puddles, an occasional feather and marks in the dirt. As they enter another cave, their light dims, and two squid like creatures drop from the ceiling, striking at Bacon and Lanliss. They try to grapple but fail and are soon defeated. Merxif is attacked by a small dirty bird with six legs emerging from a side tunnel. After killing it, a search of the cave reveals some silver coins. Continuing west then south, they pass a quiet cave with many holes high in the walls. Further on, the cave start getting larger, and a bad smell can be scented. One cave seems full of rubbish – mud, cloth, decaying vegetation, and some dead rats and beetles – all decorated with bones. A laugh rings out, and a voice calls to them “Visitors, welcome… I haven’t seen anyone for a while.” A tentacle of some sort with eyes sticks out of some of the rubbish, and when the group enter and respond the creature attached hauls itself up out of the muck. The huge body has three tentacles and a wide toothed maw. It introduces itself as Rotharm. Seldrel identifies it as an Otyugh, a potentially dangerous beast that eats anything. Rotharm is proud of the smell of the cave, and collects bones. He offers to trade a scroll case for food, so the group head back to retrieve the corpses of bird, bear and dragon. On their return, more of the six-legged birds attack. They take those corpses as well. Roth is happy and hands over the scroll case… he also tells them that Galin lives in the cave to the south and she also collects gems and shiny stones. The group begin talking about Xorn and what they look like and have an interest in – Roth agrees with them that Galin must be a Xorn. (Three legs, three eyes, solid, likes gems) It turns out she is also a Otyugh, who is happy to trade coins for gems. Lanliss tries to steal some of the gems in the box she offers while removing pouches of coins, but she notices his action and gets quite annoyed. They are asked to leave.

Heading west, they enter a large cave and note a waving thread hanging in the cave. It sticks to Lanliss and starts to pull him into the air. He breaks the thread and lands smoothly on the ground. Seldrel casts Fly on Bacon and Hardaz – they fly up to attack the insectoid on a ledge high above. A second is spotted on another ledge. Lanliss breaks any thread it tries “fishing” with, while Winter shoots at it. Both are killed and some treasure recovered amid the bones and debris on the floor. They head north and find some dead bats, some live bats (that shriek and bump into the group before flying away from their lights) and a spiral staircase going down. On the walls are holy symbols for three good Oeridean deities – Heironeous (Justice, honour, war & valour), Delleb (Reason, intellect & study) and Pholtus (Light, order, sun & moons). Some of the party feel uneasy, and Merxif states the chamber is holy and radiates good. Lanliss heads down the stairs and finds a large room with three altars and carved text that he can’t read. He brings everyone down. Lanliss and Bacon search the room. Seldrel translates the text. It mentions a fiend, Ormarr that came to FalsKrag and was imprisoned, and that patience, talent, might, devotion and knowledge will be required to release and defeat it. Each altar is dedicated to one of the deities and text on the wall describes some of their philosophy.

The next room has a convincing illusion of Heironeous sitting in one of three large stone chairs. It greets Lanliss, and then Bacon as they enter, saying they can pay their respects, rest then move on; they are not sufficient. Once a third person enters the greeting is different – stating that good hearted, skilled people are required to defeat the demon beast of the Rift, a great wyrm. Lanliss locates a secret door but can’t open it. The group decide to rest here for the night, healing and eating. After some time, Heironeous stands and walks around the chamber. Later he does this again. An hour into their rest, he makes a third walk, but pauses to touch the wall before returning to his seat. The group immediately examine the wall at that point and find a slight depression. Lanliss pushes it and the secret door opens.

As Lanliss walks along the slim passage a shadowy figure rises out of the ground ahead and says “go back”. He feels there is a trap here and Seldrel recognises the figure as an illusion which he dispels. Lanliss disarms the magic trap. They all reach a small room with a large iron-plated door with multiple locks and a pit trap. Lanliss is able to overcome all the hazards and open the door. The next large room has two large iron wheels with handles and chains leading from the wheels to holes high in the wall. Lanliss realises that a large stone slab forms a door of sorts and the chains will pull the slab up. The group organises themselves three to a wheel and eventually manage to pull the chains in at the same time to raise the slab. A lever on the other side locks the slab in position. The next circular chamber is brightly lit by magic. A altar (inscribed “Sanctify, make holy this altar”) to Pholtus is in the centre of the room and Merxif notes an aura of good in the room. He casts bless on the altar making it glow for a few minutes. Bacon prays at the altar. Seldrel feels the magic is divine, and Winter identifies the existence of a Hallow spell on the altar. She and Merxif decide they need to cast a hallow spell themselves to open the next door. Comments are made regarding the fact that the party wizard knows more about religion, and the hunter more about divine magic, than does their priest. They retreat to the original shrine and Bacon prays at the altar to Heironeous and receives a blessing. The others choose a altar to give their respects and also receive a blessing. It wears off as they rest for the night.

7th Patchwall: Before leaving, each prays and receives a new blessing. From the cave fishers lair, they take the corpses to Rotharm, who rewards them with a bag of silver coins he has found. Back west they find an odd haze floating high in one cave, and Lanliss loses his voice. A little further is a large cave with hinged tomb lids lining the floor and a plaque of verse. Each of the tomb lids radiates magic, and most are trapped. Lanliss carefully disarms all the traps, and Bacon helps him open each tomb. All but one are shallow and empty hollows. One has a ladder down a shaft. Below is a door, then a pressure plate that seems to do nothing and a deep crevasse with a door in the cliff on the opposite wall. Lanliss flies over to check the door and eventually forces it open. There is nothing behind but the cliff wall. He tries to fly down to the base of the crevasse, but can’t reach it. Bacon thinks of climbing down, and realises the crevasse is an illusion. A second chamber is directly under the first and the crevasse is little more than a spiked pit, with a corpse, which he loots. Bacon and Lanliss set up a rope, lowering or flying everyone down to the second room and passing through the door. A narrow hall surrounds a large room with a plain block of stone. Lanliss finds a hole in the block, even though he can’t see one and manipulates a lever. The block slides back, revealing another shaft and ladder. They descend into a larger room with circular pools of water, fed by a pipe and draining down a shaft in the centre. There are sun, moon and star markings and Bacon works out that the rings surrounding the pools can be turned to block the water flow and leave the central shaft clear. Partway down is a grill and a door. Lanliss climbs down and opens the door and they all move through, while the rings above start to revolve back into their original position.

The new level has many maze-like narrow passages and odd phrases or words – “Where”, “Who”, “Why”, “Not here”. After a thorough search of all the passages, Lanliss finds a trapdoor right where they entered. This has another ladder down to a fifth level with five passages leading off.