Vermin, undead and two puzzles. The first was worked out pretty quickly – rope through hooks and loops. The second is more complicated. While there was a lot of good discussion and testing of theories, they don’t yet have a solution. Traps in my game are mostly detected/evaded by dice rolls (character skill), but if players don’t pay attention to something already mentioned by me or another player (like spider webs between the difficult terrain) or walk straight into a trapped area without looking around first, then too bad. I like puzzles in my RPG’s that the players have to think about, not just rely on a dice roll to work things out. I may allow a skill check to get a hint, or more detail, but some things can’t be solved by making a roll or casting a spell.
I’ve been having fun with rumours in town recently too. Some aren’t related to the mega-dungeon, but directly to things the players have been doing. A new rumour this session was about elves bringing valuable statues out of the dungeon and taking them to another town to sell. One of the players commented about not remembering the statues. I replied “You were one of them!” (It was a year ago in real-life: Medusa in session 40)
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1st Needfest. Everyone packs up and leaves the mountain. It’s both very cold and wet outside, and they head back to Fals’ford. The rain gets worse after they reach town. Shopping, training and celebration of mid-winter proceeds. [8th Level] Kevelli will stay in town all week, as he has some responsibilities during the festival. Seldrel, Brolith and Merxif trawl a few taverns looking for a halfling they can convince to donate some blood. (There is a rumour in town that an evil halfling pretending to be a priest is offering to heal people but really marking potential targets for sacrifice.) Buying drinks for people eventually gets them a suitably inebriated participant.
2nd: The party heads back to the hold and straight to the Hall of the Gods. They activate the statue of Cryollalee, obtaining a energy protection wand but no blessing for anyone. They return to the cavern and slowly make their way west then south through the ruins. They listen and look into buildings to see if anything has taken over from the morlocks and bugbears that previously used many of the buildings. There are no traces of bodies of anything they killed in the past. Reaching the blocks they had last been exploring, they find no cultist corpses. Lanliss can tell that rooms the cultists had been using have been searched since they left. Anything useful that the group didn’t take is gone. Some rooms they hadn’t entered have been used to grow fungi, moss and vegetables. Other chambers have been sleeping quarters and these too have been searched by someone else. Winter has reported odd noises and sighted movement in the badly damaged building immediately south. Lanliss vanishes to scout and reports the closest chambers empty. One has a grey lichen growing along one wall and Seldrel enters to study it. He determines that the plant is actually ‘Gloom Orb’, and the black growths it produces are beneficial. While he gathers these, he notes an uneven floor and three holes carved in the ceiling. Lanliss returns to examine the floor and ceiling. He finds metal rings in the ceiling holes, a floor that isn’t very thick (suspecting a pit or room below) and two holes in the floor corners with hooks. Lanliss and Seldrel gather rope, which they thread through the rings and anchor to the hooks. Lanliss believes they need to “lift” the hooks to make the floor panel open, but Seldrel isn’t able to exert enough force and Hardaz takes his place.
Bacon enters one of the empty rooms with other exits, and finds some humanoid corpses. All have large chest wounds, and some scraps of brown robes. Merxif confirms that they are indeed dead, and suspects that these are cultists that the giant mosquito creatures have emerged from. They appear to have died a week ago at least. Some normal rats flee Bacon as he looks around the other rooms.
Hardaz and Lanliss’ effort cause a section of the floor to flip into a vertical position revealing a thirty foot deep spiked pit with a rusty ladder and two coffers filled with copper pieces. A search also finds a secret compartment holding a large leather bag that is empty, but magical. Seldrel is convinced they have a bag of holding, and they hope that it isn’t cursed to consume anything they place within. They test it out with the copper coins.
Meanwhile both Bacon and Merxif feel a moment of lethargy, and are attacked by one of the ‘giant mosquitoes’ emerging from the darkness. Bacon strikes it, but in return it stings him and attaches itself. He bursts into action, battering it against the wall and door frame it came through. He succeeds in knocking it unconscious, and is able to detach it. With Merxif using his Deathwatch goggles, Bacon continues to batter the aberration until it is definitely deceased. Bits of bone and body pieces, as well as some more rats are in the back of the rooms. The end of the block is more damaged than solid, and there are many cobwebs. Lanliss warns of both fresh webs and piles of rubble as he sights a few giant spiders amid the collapse. Bacon picks his way carefully in alongside Lanliss to attack a spider. Both Merxif and Winter move to avoid rubble underfoot and find themselves entangled by webs. Hardaz and Seldrel take the long way around the building as more spiders emerge to attack. Bad footing and broken walls make the fight more complicated that usual, but it is soon over with no-one poisoned. Winter breaks free of the webs and assists Merxif out. They clear and burn webs, gathering coins and a golden plate amid the remains of the spiders prey.
The back of the building comes close to the cavern wall and they move along until they find another entrance. A large hall with divisions resembles a barn or animal enclosure. Lanliss moves quickly through a few rooms and calls out what he sees for others to check on – animal skeletons in the stalls, a humanoid skeleton in chainmail, and a tiled room. Seldrel detects magic amid the stalls. Hardaz going for a closer look finds himself surrounded by the ghosts of five large hounds and their angry trainer. He shrugs off most of their chilling attacks, and is quickly backed up by the rest of the party. Once defeated they quickly check for valuables – claiming two magical fire arrows and the chainmail from the trainers skeleton. Some coins are dug up from another stall, and Lanliss has found a locked trapdoor under floor tiles in another room. Lanliss picks the lock, and finds a box with more copper coins. Winter is attacked by a hazy purple figure similar to a shadow. She backs up, doing little damage with her arrows. Hardaz with his ghost-touch axe is again the best to take down the incorporeal undead. Seldrel thinks it was a murk, a shadow-like thing that effects your mind rather than feeding on your strength. They take some time for healing and treasure appraisal, then move on to the unexplored portion of the building. There are some faint noises ahead, and Lanliss sees an animated skeleton and two thin humanoids in adjoining rooms. The group splits in two as they enter and engage, what quickly turns out to be four skeletons, two ghouls and two ghasts. Merxif uses one of his crystal skulls to obliterate the majority of the undead. No-one is paralysed, nor appears to have been infected by disease, and one ghast wears a magical necklace. They are back to the cultist’s shrine now and head north towards the shouting that has been heard on an earlier day.
A small building is little more than a dusty, rubble filled shell. It is searched but doesn’t appear to be worth completely digging out. Noise from the adjacent building is more promising. The structure is less damaged, and holds nearly a dozen ghouls which keep everyone busy as the undead exit from multiple holes in the building walls. Ignoring many rotting limbs, bones, broken weapons and bits of armor, the group gather some silver coins and two gems. A rusty iron-plated door bars entry to the last part of the building. Lanliss takes time to pick the lock, only to find its rusted into place and isn’t opening with the usual encouragement. They have to bring out their portable ram and break it down. Beyond are two rooms filled with very old furniture – chairs, desks, stands, tables, cupboards and chests. Some break as they are examined and opened, due to damage from rot, mould, insects and age. A few pieces of jade inlay, some ivory handles, and a set of silver wind chimes are kept.
Bacon is suspicious about one section of floor. After cleaning the dust away he finds the seams around a large block of stone. He and Lanliss feel that it should move. A metal plate in the centre slides open revealing a hole with metal rings and brass discs. Seldrel detects abjuration, divination and shadow-illusion magic. Bacon and Lanliss look at it from a mechanical perspective and believe it’s a lock with the central portion missing. There is discussion as to what the illusion aspect does and closer examination suggests that what they see is accurate. Seldrel tries to dispel the magic on the mechanism and succeeds; nothing changes. The group thoroughly search the rooms, but find nothing else to give them any ideas of how to open the stone panel or door.