The last session for 2019 and all our regular players back together. A good session with tough fights and exploration into new areas. At the very end of the session I presented a laminated colour A3 map of the cavern. I’ve been holding this for months waiting for them to reach this point. The map is a modified version of the ‘rift valley’ from I1 – Dwellers of the Forbidden City (1981). I had a huge cavern with a lake and ruins planned right from the beginning of my writing up the dungeon, and when I picked bugbears and snake men for one dungeon level I was reminded of this early AD&D module. It’s saved me from having to draw my own map! I’m actually using a lot of what I1 presents for the area with modifications and expansion.
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(5th Ready’reat) The group stops to plan and prepare. Flying is cast on everyone, and Bull Strength for most of the group. While they don’t expect to surprise the orcs, they also don’t want to just walk in with their light giving away their approach or making them easy targets. Bacon is given a daylight pellet and finally invisibility is cast on everyone as their lights are hidden or extinguished. Both dwarves lead the group along the tunnel and to the edge of stairs just before the cavern opens up. Bacon moves to the edge and notes movement/figures on the side gallery. He flies forward and drops the daylight pellet. Lanliss glides across the chamber to a northern door, followed most of the way by Seldrel, who casts web across most of the gallery where almost a dozen orcs have bows at the ready. He draws unsuccessful arrow fire as a result, and one of the orcs casts a web spell in return. Now the entire centre of the hall is covered with webs, with a invisible Lanliss separated from everyone else. The rest of the group flies in but keeps some distance, choosing advantageous positions while most of the orcs are entangled. Merxif uses one of his crystal skulls to cast chain lightning across the gallery, incapacitating nearly all the archers. Then a secret door south of the gallery opens revealing another dozen orcs, some of whom more out and shoot arrows. Lanliss flies up to the northern end of the gallery and engages un-entangled foes. Seldrel dispels the web around himself and dismisses that on the gallery as Bacon and Summer fight their way across to Lanliss. Hardaz takes on the orcs on the ground and Winter returns fire at them. An orc priest casts a spell at Seldrel that causes him occasional chest pain and the elf responds with a lightning bolt. Both Lanliss and Hardaz are hard pressed for a while – they seem to have gotten the tougher of the orcs to fight. Lanliss drops from a heavy blow, but Merxif is able to fly over to keep him stable. Bacon clears the gallery so that Lanliss can be further healed., then the two of them move down stairs to the east, while the rest of the party pushes east from the other end of the cave. The last few orcs are supported by an ogre, but the group fights hard now. Merxif heals as needed and they begin to flank their opponents. A few orcs had retreated and now can’t be located.
After a quick loot of anything Seldrel notes is magical, they press forward doing quick room searches for the remaining orcs. They pass through a training room, some sleeping quarters and finally a mess hall and kitchen. Some smaller rooms appear to be quarters for the priests and leaders, but there is no opposition. Bacon finds a secret door that links the hall near the secret door with one of the more distant rooms, and they believe this is how the orcs they had earlier sighted withdrew. Some short stairs and a pit trap lead into a long eastern tunnel. They keep two people on watch and drag the bodies of those killed into the main cave and take some of the better equipment from the corpses. Lanliss doesn’t want to leave anything valuable behind when they move out of these chambers. Heading east, they travel hundreds of feet along before the dark tunnel begins to lighten. The tunnel opens into a wide long cave with daylight visible at the end and the sound of harsh voices.
They rush in to confront two ogres, a priest, a dozen warriors and one better equipped orc giving them directions. As the party spreads out to engage, Hardaz claims his blessing; his warhammer bursts into flame. Seldrel throws a fireball into the main group of orcs, wounding many of them. The battle is tough, but the party fight together well. It is soon over and they heal and loot the bodies. The cave looks out over the eastern side of Fals’Krag. There is no movement to be seen. Merxif is suddenly aware of a presence. He and Seldrel decide he has detected a dragon in the area, but he can’t determine direction or distance. They recall a dragon is believed to live in the eastern part of this mountain range. They head west back down the tunnel and make a more thorough check of all the rooms for treasure and saleable equipment. They return to the crafting halls to rest.
6-11th: Seldrel crafts a magical robe for Bacon. Lanliss, Merxif and Bacon head into Falsford to sell much of their loot and ask questions about the Hold and its lords. Merxif is aware of a presence while travelling, but the feeling vanishes much of the time in town. Merxif offers health advice and healing in town, and is able to collect some blood samples they plan to use in the Hall of the gods. Lanliss purchases weapons for the current statues and speaks with some priests about the deities represented.
12-14th: Boots of striding crafted for Hardaz. Lanliss carves representations of the deities holy symbols.
15th: Hall of the gods – Zilchus, an Oeridean diety of power, money and business is activated, with Bacon gaining an unknown blessing. Seldrel has consulted his maps. There is only one area they have not fully explored, assuming no missed secret doors. They make their way down to the stone of Jarkettes, where they find that rooms they didn’t explore before have been opened and looted. Lanliss asks the stone about finding Gregern’s tomb and is told that the false tombs will help find the true. They find a secret door in the main hall and fight more bugbears. Behind the secret door is a passage finely carved showing dwarven warriors. The passage is trapped and guarded by a construct. The final chamber is the tomb of ‘Khaban’ – an old dwarven corpse buried in fine plate armour with a warhammer. The group realise they have seen statues to Khaban on another level. They decide not to loot his tomb and exit.
The base of the hall emerges into a enormous cavern. The area around them is rocky marsh. Just to their north, a sheet stone wall rises about forty feet, extending as far as they can see to the west. Merxif becomes aware of another presence. Seldrel thinks the base of the great stair should be close to the east and he and Lanliss fly up to look around. The huge cavern (up to eighty feet high) extends east, west and south almost as far as they can see. To the east is a lake. To the south and west are many mostly ruined buildings and they note lights glowing dimly on the cavern roof and amid some of the buildings. Winter had mentioned sighting this through Summers eyes many weeks earlier, but now they can all see it for themselves.