Discretion is the Better Part of Valor: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Eleventh Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

August 24, 2017

The following old-school heroes were taking matters into their own hands:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Yellow Yiminy (magic user)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter)
  • Nevuch the Gesticulate (cleric) and his henchman, Hortensius (hobgoblin)
  • Cominus (orc) and his henchman, Brother Serious (cleric)

This week, the Cobalt Cobras began by trying to negotiate with Fulkth and his bugbears in the Hall of Lenses, with the goal of getting past them in order to negotiate the labyrinth and find the Black Library, where Lachesis told them they could find the answers they are looking for.  The negotiation went poorly, and the player characters were seriously outnumbered, so they decided to back out and try a different angle.  Here’s what they managed to find:

A scintillating hall!  Battling with bugbears!  Casualties, and a retreat!  The party found their way to a room covered with rainbow-colored glyphs and paintings of magic-users.  Unfortunately they also caught the tail end of a bugbear patrol.  And worse, it was the same bugbears that the party had tangled with previously at the top of the stairwell, so there was no fast-talking.  Hot Pot dry-gulched one of the bugbears in the throat with aa crossbow shot, but then one of the bugbears cut Fast Fist Forbinn in half with his nasty chopper.  The party beat a hasty retreat.

Playing it cool and acting natural!  On their way back to the stairs, the party came across yet another bugbear patrol, but this one was mostly disinterested and indifferent.  So the Cobalt Cobras played it cool and then booked it back to Kobold Korners as soon as the bugbears were out of sight.

Resting, recharging, and re-supplying!  And some new companions!  Not that one, though!  Back in Kobold Korners, the party rested, ate, bought some supplies, and then started trying to replace fallen comrades.  Hot Pot hired a magic-user named Yellow Yiminy as her henchman.  The party was approached by a filthy gnoll looking for a group to adventure with, but the mange, the stench, the drool, the visible parasites and the crazy eyes were just too much for the Cobalt Cobras, no matter how big and capable the gnoll looked.  Instead, they took on an orc warrior named Cominus and his human cleric henchman, Brother Serious.

The elf with the black eyes!  While shopping for low-quality arrows and dented knives, the party had the ill luck to encounter, once again, the elf with pitch-black eyes.  He coolly let the party know that he knew that they had been through the Ouroboros Gate, and that his assassins were sure to end their lives as soon as they stepped out of the safety of Kobold Korners.  The Cobalt Cobras started talking fast, and they spilled the beans that Lachesis had hired them to find the information.  This gave the elf pause—he admitted that it was, in fact, Lachesis who had recently sold him the knowledge that the Cobalt Cobras had gone through the gate.  The elf told the party that, if they found out who bought the secret of the gate from Lachesis and brought the elf Lachesis’s head (in a bag, of course), he would consider showing them mercy, but for the moment he was not going to call off his assassins.  “Maybe we should just get new jerkins, guys” said Nevuch, after the encounter was over.

Poking around the dungeon!  A weird obelisk!  And a secret door!  Not confident that they had the numbers to go after Lachesis or Fulkth, the Cobalt Cobras headed back down to the third level of the dungeon to poke around in some unexplored areas.  After taking a quick nap in a room with a cantilevered floor and some bunkbeds, the party found a large hall with pillars and a large obelisk covered in runes, and holes that were blowing out a steady gust of fresh-smelling air.  Yellow Yiminy cast read magic and determined that the runes were connected to the Elemental Plane of Air.  The party thoroughly searched the room and found a secret door leading into an alcove with an alien symbol on the wall.  (Some of the players who had been in the game last year had a very bad feeling about this…)

The teleporter nexus!  The alien symbol was, of course, some kind of teleporter.  When the party touched it, they were transported to a round room made of some kind of smooth, glossy stone with a matching symbol and an iris doorway.  The player characters pulled a brass lever to open the door, and it led them into another room made of the same kind of stone, with five other, identical iris doorways and sixth door made of some kind of metal.  The Cobalt Cobras marked the iris door they had come through with chalk and opened one of the others.  It led to another teleporter, so the Cobalt Cobras gave it a spin.

Treasure!  Crystal statues!  And a retreat!  The teleporter transported the party to a small storeroom with a matching alien symbol on the wall (ostensibly the way back), a wooden door, and two locked boxes.  The room looked, felt and even smelled very different from anything in Stonehell they had encountered so far.  Jimmying the boxes open, the party found a substantial cache of gold coins and a set of scroll cases with magical scrolls.  The party headed out the wooden door and started exploring.  They found a few empty rooms, and then some kind of living quarters with four imposing crystal statues.  Not wanting to see if the statues would come alive or not, the party withdrew back to the teleporter nexus.

And that’s all they had time for.  On to the next session!

Small Men and Steampunk Monkeys: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Tenth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

August 17, 2017

The following hard-assed dungeon gangsters were down in the depths and getting medieval:

  • Pralum the Coffiner (cleric) and his hefty henchman, Brother Bulbous (cleric)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief)
  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief)

This week, the Cobalt Cobras started out staring down the group of strange little men placing extremely precise rows of stones for no obvious reason.  The player characters tried to speak to them in all of the languages they know, but the small men just stared blankly and kept on with their unintelligible task.  So, the party decided to return the favor and just ignore the little weirdos, and press on down the hallway, following Lachesis’s instructions for how to get to the Black Library, where they hoped to find the tome that could tell them about the artifacts they looted from the Blue Tomb.  Here’s the trouble they caused along the way:

A broken mosaic!  A hidden treasure!  A trap avoided!  The party followed the line of stones into a room with an elaborate mosaic on the floor.  The mosaic was in pretty bad shape, but it looked like it was originally a map of the continent, crisscrossed with some kind of ley lines.  Too many pieces were missing to tell for sure, but it looked like a large number of the lines converged on the location of Stonehell dungeon.  Also in the room was a lectern—the player characters searched it and found a ring of invisibility on an elaborate silver chain.  While the party was deciding which passageway to explore next, a kobold work detail came into the room, picking up the stones that the small men had laid down.  The Cobalt Cobras chatted with the kobolds for a bit, and the kobolds were kind enough to let the party know that one of the passageways from this room was an illusion, and was in fact a short alcove with a pit trap.  After some climbing around to confirm the kobolds’ warning, the party proceeded down the other passageway (from which the kobolds, and apparently the small men, had come).

A tight squeeze!  Steampunk baboons!  A fighting retreat and an inferno of flame and smoke!  After picking through a room with a large planter (and planting a few of the gemstone seeds they found in the Hothouse, but not after thoroughly searching the planter for buried treasure), the party squeezed through a long, narrow hallway.  After hearing noise through a door, the party decided to investigate.  They found a storeroom full of agitated baboons (live, not skeletal), each with large parts of their bodies replaced with mechanical parts and with metal armor plates bolted on.  The baboons screamed and acted territorial, so the player characters moved further down the hallway, assumed a fighting formation, and threw a baker’s dozen flasks of flaming oil to create a barrier of flame.  The steampunk baboons were definitely deterred, but the player characters realized that they had also cut themselves off from the way they came (at least until the fires burned out).  With very little choice in the matter, they pressed on.

Arcane formulae!  Gargoyles!  Conchobar is ripped in half!  And the baboons come back!  Worried about the steampunk baboons behind them, the Cobalt Cobras hastily headed around the next corner (Lachesis had said to head right) and came to an octagonal room with strange arcane formulae inlaid into the floor (specifically, the Pythagorean theorem) and four pillars, each topped with a stone gargoyle.  The party headed around the edge of the room, trying to avoid the ominous  a2+b2=c2 in the center of the room, but, of course that put them in easy reach of the gargoyles, who sprang to life in the least surprising surprise ever.  The Cobalt Cobras fought valiantly, but the gargoyles had caught them spread out around the room so our heroes were at an extreme disadvantage.  Conchobar met a grisly end, ripped in half by a gargoyle.  After defeating the gargoyles, Fast Fist Forbinn barely had a moment to grieve (mostly because now he would have to pay out the funeral and death benefit to Conchobar’s family) before the steampunk baboons came howling into the room.  The Cobalt Cobras re-grouped, laid down a carpet of flaming oil again, and pressed on.

White robes and steel mesh gloves!  And loose change in the cushions!  After the gargoyle room, the party was thrown off by some unanticipated twists and turns in the dungeon hallway and was not sure where to go next, so they poked their heads in a few random rooms.  In one room, they found a set of wardrobes (no passages to other worlds—Hot Pot definitely checked them all) containing white robes and rusty steel mesh gloves (why?).  Fast Fist and Brother Bulbous took some of the gloves, because you never know.  The party then turned around and headed another direction, where they found a sumptuous salon filled with divans and chairs and bookshelves filled with crumbling texts.  The player characters thoroughly checked the cushions for loose change and found a few gold pieces.  (Awesome, because free treasure and XP!)

The small men’s dormitory!  Nails in the wall!  A satchel full of gold!  A wooden bowling set!  The party went around another corner, hoping to find the Hall of Lenses, but instead found a common room with a passage leading off to a set of dormitory rooms  The common room was furnished with small, dusty furniture, a set of mugs, and a strange device that looked like a weird old espresso machine with brass gears.  The first of three dormitories had a recently-slain body of one of the small men, and an array of nails pounded into the wall in some sort of precise geometric pattern.  The second room had a satchel stuffed with gold and a bunch of the small men’s clothes.  The third room had a little wooden bowling set, which the player characters looted.  Their investigation of the dormitories complete, the party decided to head back to the robing room (with the wardrobes, where they had gotten the steel mesh gloves), and try one of the other doors in that room.

A screaming door!  The hall of lenses!  Bugbears!  And Fulkth!  Whoever that is!  The door, upon being opened, immediately began screaming.  The through the screaming door was a large hall containing big lenses mounted on poles set in the ground (the Hall of Lenses!  Probably!), as well as a half-dozen hulking bugbears and a magic-user with a skullcap and an oily goatee.  One of the bugbears sauntered over to the Cobalt Cobras, looked them over, and gruffly said, “Oh.  It’s you guys.”

What will happen next?  On to the next session!

Bullying the Bugbears: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Ninth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on August 16, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

August 10, 2017

The following freebooters were whooping ass and taking names:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Nevuch the Gesticulate (cleric) and his henchman, Hortensius (hobgoblin)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)

Here’s what happened:

A battle against iron statues!  Failed plans galore!  And fire, of course!  This week’s adventure began at the top of the stairs, facing a trio of animated iron statues.  The statues could not be talked to or reasoned with, so the player characters came up with an elaborate plan to have “Hot Pot” Sullivan climb around the balcony from the other direction with a rope, wrap it around all three of the statues, and come back down the stairs, after which all of the party would pull with their might, sending the statues 200 feet down the central shaft of the staircase to their destruction.  The whole plan went off without a hitch, except that the statues were way too heavy, and simply did not budge.  The player characters withdrew partway down the stairs, lobbing flasks of flaming oil, several of which missed and landed on the stairway below, effectively cutting off the safe exit.  However, the player characters soon realized that the statues would not come down the stairs, so they shot various missiles at them until they died (deactivated?).

A battle against cowardly bugbears!  Weird, glowing glyphs on the walls!  And a decision to turn back!  A pack of bugbears showed up within moments of the iron statue fight, ostensibly drawn by the sounds of ruckus.  Unlike the statues, the bugbears were willing to talk, but like the statues, the bugbears weren’t willing to yield.  They told the Cobalt Cobras in no uncertain terms that this area of the dungeon was not for them, and they had best beat it back down the stairs.  The Cobalt Cobras did not like that, so they attacked.  After the lead bugbear was felled by a withering hail of arrows, sling stones, polearms and Hot Pot’s blade in the ribs, the rest of the pack beat a retreat.  The party pressed on and came to a room decorated with strange, flickering glyphs from some unknown writing system.  After a few minutes’ discussion, the player characters decided to head back to Lachesis, the medusa information broker, to try to trade their hard-won information (how to get through the Ouroboros Gate, for whose of you who have not been following along) for the information they really want (where can they find out about the Blue Relics?).

Mission accomplished!  At least, the first step of the mission.  The party headed back through the Ouroboros Gate, through the snake temple, past signs of something huge and slimy moving through, back through Kobold Korners and down to Lachesis’s lair.  For once, instead of just barging in, the Cobalt Cobras decided to knock on the medusa’s door.  They met with Lachesis, told her how to get through the Ouroboros Gate, and, as promised, she told them what she knew about the blue relics:

Through the double door in the room with the pillars, straight ahead as far as they can go and then to the right, the party will find a Hall of Lenses.  Past the Hall of Lenses is a Labyrinth.  Through the Labyrinth is an abandoned stronghold containing the Black Library.  In the Black Library is a volume detailing the rise of the Blue Lich and the secrets of his crown, amulet, sword and scepter.

The party immediately set out to find what they might!

Through the double doors!  More bugbears!  And Fulkth, whoever that is!  The double doors in the pillared room (near where the Cobalt Cobras excavated the tunnel to the Hothouse) were locked, but Lachesis had told the party the password.  Beyond the doors and past a crossroads, the Cobalt Cobras found a series of storerooms.  The first contained another pack of bugbears who acted shifty and nervous and asked if Fulkth (whoever that is) had sent the player characters.  The party tried to play along in the hope of getting some advantage, but it was almost immediately apparent that they didn’t know what they were talking about.  Nevertheless, the bugbears offered the party a purse of gold to keep mum about where the bugbears are hiding and to say nothing to Fulkth, whoever that is.  Of course the Cobalt Cobras agreed, took the money and moved on.

More storerooms!  More fungus shaped like a man!  Weird tiny writing!  And gold!  The party continued to explore the storerooms on their way to the Hall of Lenses.  Most were empty, but a few had interesting contents.  One room had a patch of pallid, glowing fungus in the shape of a humanoid’s body (that’s the third one, for those of you who are keeping count).  Another room had tiny writing near the floor, that read as follows:

It appears that this potion of diminution is permanent. I hear the rats coming for me. This is where I, Drathri Math’s Son, make my final stand!

Did Drathri die?  Did he escape and live?  Is a tiny man still scurrying around the dungeon?  Will we ever find out?  To be honest, the Cobalt Cobras forgot about it completely because, in the same room, under a displaced tile, they found a huge sack of gold coins, which they summarily looted.

A campsite!  And strange, small men doing weird things!  Eventually the party came to a room that had obviously been used many times as a campsite, possibly by past adventurers, or maybe bugbears.  But they didn’t have much time to investigate, because they heard a clicking sound from the passageway ahead, and into the room came a group of small, pale, silent men dressed in loose clothing placing rocks at precise intervals in two tracks.  Why would they do that?  Does it have any relation to the weirdly regular piles of stones from before?  Who are these odd little fellows?

Stay tuned!  On to the next session!

Snakes, Secrets and Splitting the Party: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Eighth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on August 9, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

August 3, 2017

The following desperadoes were poking around where they probably shouldn’t:

  • Veronica of Ghotir (magic-user)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Unknown Zorick (magic-user)
  • Hugin of the Hundred Hates (dwarf) and his henchman, Billiam Wurroughs (thief)
  • Reimuda Neither Old nor Young (magic-user) and her henchman, John Bones (skeleton)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)

This week the Cobalt Cobras started their adventure in battle with the skeletal baboons.  Baboons can’t talk, and neither can skeletons (well, other than John Bones), so there was no parlaying out of this one.  The fight was short and vicious, and Billiam Wurroughs was torn to pieces but the baboons’ raggedy claws (Billiam, we hardly knew ye).  Soon the fight was over and the baboons had the worst of it, so the party went onward.

The terrible bargain finally made!  And Hates #1 and #2!  The party returned through the Hothouse to the spellspiders’ lair with the bound and unconscious hobgoblin captive.  (Hugin of the Hundred Hates loudly and basically incomprehensibly proclaimed that moss and webs are two of this Hates.  1/100 and 2/100.  We started keeping track.)  The spellspiders provided the party with a scroll of comprehend languages, as promised, and took their dinner gladly.

Peaceful rest!  Careful research!  A secret discovered, maybe!  The party made their way back to the supernaturally peaceful nature shrine and spent some time holed up there, so Unknown Zorick could copy comprehend languages into his spellbook, cast it, and read the Ouroboros Book.  The book, written in parseltongue (of course), chronicled the construction of the Temple of Yg by a cult of snake-men, including the creation of the Ouroboros Gate (which we knew, because we could see the pictures).  The text of the book itself did not say how to open the gate, but scribbled in the margins was the phrase “Father Yg, I seek succor.”  The player characters decided to give that a shot.

Through the gate!  Without any light sources!  The Cobalt Cobras headed back through Kobold Korners and the Reptile House without major incident, and reassembled in the room housing the Ouroboros Gate (still heavily charred from their previous misadventures there—I guess the kobolds hadn’t gotten around to cleaning it up yet).  There, the party divested themselves of all sticks (on account of what happened to “Hot Pot” Sullivan last time she tried to go through: her torches and crossbow bolts all transformed into poisonous vipers), fiddled with the gate for a bit, and eventually got it to open by hitting the switch, speaking the pass-phrase, and stepping through.  This means, of course, that they left all of their significant light sources (other than Knar’s magical sword, which glows) on the other side.  They found themselves in a room covered with snake-themes frescoes, with the phrase, “Father Yg, I seek succor,” carved into the wall.  They also discovered the back-end of a secret door, opened it, and continued to explore, using only the dim light from Knar’s sword.

A trap!  Snakes!  Hate #3!  And the party split!  Through the secret door, the party found a weird serpent sanctuary, dominated by a massive snake idol with a hinged jaw.  While Knar and Cod Cully stepped out the main entrance to make sure the area was safe, Fast Fist Forbinn climbed up and opened the jaw, pulling out a large codex bound in snakeskin (of course).  This triggered a trap: a huge stone slab slid down across the doorway to the room, separating Knar (and his sword) and Cod from the rest of the party and therefore plunging the snake shrine into total pitch darkness.  Fast Fist fell down, bruising himself.  Hugin, a dwarf with infravision, could still see, and what he saw was oodles of snakes pouring out of the idol’s mouth.  He swore in Dwarven and declared snakes to be one of his Hates (3/100).

Back through the gate!  More snake stuff!  The party re-united!  Hugin quickly shepherded the blinded party members back through the Ouroboros Gate, with aggressive snakes hot on their heels.  Party members took a few bites, but fortunately nobody succumbed to poison.  Once the snake shrine was clear of adventurers, the slab re-opened.  Meanwhile, Knar and Cod poked around the area, finding a room filled with huge snake skeletons and a massive worship hall dedicated to Yg, the father of serpents.  When the slab opened, they hurried back, found the shrine unaccountably empty of adventurers and snakes, and went back through the gate to re-join the party on the other side.

The Cobra Codex!  A decision is made!  Back through the gate, like idiots!  Unknown Zorick took a few minutes to peruse the codex they had found in the idol’s mouth.  Entitled the Cobra Codex, it was a snakeskin volume adorned with gemstones and filled with cleric spells (none of which could be cast because no clerics were present).  They stashed the book in Unknown Zorick’s backpack and briefly deliberated whether to just head back to Lachesis the medusa with their information (i.e., how to pass through the Ouroboros Gate, in return for which Lachesis promised to tell the party where they could find out about the relics they plundered from the Blue Tombs back in the spring).  But instead, after hearing about what Knar and Cod Cully found while exploring, the party decided to go back through the Ouroboros Gate, leave the snake idol alone this time, and see what else they could find.

Storerooms!  Snake hymns!  Fungus!  Through the doors and up the spiral stairs!  The party explored the rooms around the snake shrine and the worship hall, finding mostly storerooms for liturgical gear (incense, parseltongue pew bibles, snake hymnals, reptilian vestments, that sort of thing) and abandoned priests’ cells.  They also found a patch of fungus growing strangely in the shape of a humanoid body (the second time they have found such a thing…).  Next, they went into the worship hall, a large space with a dais flanked by snake-legged braziers with raged snakeskin tapestries on the walls.  A set of double doors was barred from this side, so the Cobalt Cobras opened it and went through, eventually finding themselves at the foot of a huge spiral staircase.

Up the staircase…to adventure!  And probably death!  The party headed up the staircase, making sure to keep an eye out for false steps, grooves concealing trick blades, and that sort of thing.  200 feet up the stairs, and fairly winded the party came to balcony with three massive iron statues that, of course, immediately sprang to life and began moving toward the player characters.

Will they survive?  On to the nest session!

Death by Houseplant: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Seventh Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on August 3, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

July 20, 2017

The following murderhobos were present and murderhoboin’ around:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Unknown Zorick (magic-user)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Brother Criam from Qualer (cleric) and his henchman, Burt Slime (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)

This week the Cobalt Cobras began where they left off last time, trapped in a web and facing down a cluster of spellspiders.  But, as it turns out, the answer was to just try talking to them.

A terrible price, a macabre bargain, and a careful withdrawal!  The spellspiders were more willing to parley than the party had initially thought, so the Cobalt Cobras were at least able to stave off immediate and certain death.  Instead, they just had to give up Unknown Zorick’s spellbook—an insanely steep price for a magic user, but better than being the spiders’ snacks.  Also, you may recall that Unknown Zorick had a battered spellbook he had taken off of the body burned in the rubble.  So he crossed his fingers and hoped the new book had better stuff in it.  Also, the spellspiders fessed up to having a copy of the comprehend languages spell, and said they’d be willing to trade it for a warm body.

Bad lettuce!  Bad berries!  The party then tangled with one of the aggressive heads of lettuce from before: a carnivorous plant monster with tentacle roots.  As a result of trying to grab some of the plant’s luscious, golden berries, Reader Stedda found himself dangling in the air and nearly eaten.  The party ultimately triumphed (that’s the most Marxist-sounding phrase ever to be entered into the annals of Stonehell), found a cool set of thorny bark armor, and went on their way.  Also, the berries turned out to be an emetic, which Reader Stedda found out the hard way.

Fern ambush!  Mushroom men!  Phosphorescence!  Ululations! A pitched battle!  And… death!  After a brief and cordial encounter with a cluster of passing spellspiders, the Cobalt Cobras hung a right down a wide hallway.  Ahead of them they saw a strange phosphorescence and heard an eerie ululating sound.  The party came to a room where weird mushroom people were digging in piles of mulch, and that’s when the ferns attacked.  Giant, razor-sharp ferns had been stalking the Cobalt Cobras, and they began slashing away at the player characters with their sword-like fronds.  The battle pulled in the mushroom men (who didn’t seem friendly), and everything seemed basically under control until a dozen more angry, grunting mushroom men came running down the hall (from the room with the glow and the ululation).  Totally surrounded, the Cobalt Cobras gave the fight their all, but they began to take casualties: Big Ol’ Roy was brutally slain, and Bob Agamemnon was skewered by a mushroom man’s spear.  The Cobalt Cobras fought their way out and ran for their lives, throwing flaming oil to cover their retreat.

Splitting the party!  Disappointment!  And death by ambulatory houseplant!  Fleeing the conflagration, half of the party took Bob Agamemnon’s body with them in the hopes that the spellspiders would accept it (they didn’t).  The other half headed to the peaceful shrine with the other bodies to set up a base and a place to sleep, but ran into another cluster of the hostile ferns on the way.  Both halves of the party re-united to fight the plants, and they were victorious, but at a cost: Burt Slime was hacked to ribbons by the ferns’ sword-like fronds.

A terrible smell unleashed!  And resting in peace!  In both senses!  Back at the peaceful shrine, the player characters were reminded that it had no door, so they went and stole the door from the room with the huge rotten fish, unleashing an incredibly putrid smell throughout the Hothouse.  It was worth it, though—after an uninterrupted memorial service, the party buried Big Ol’ Roy, Bob Agamemnon and Burt Slime in the rubble of a collapsed wall and then barricaded themselves in the shrine and slept a peaceful night, disturbed only by nervous thoughts of their contractual obligations to the henchmen’s families.

A new battle standard!  And desperate measures!  In the morning, Thepp the Squinter took Big Ol’ Roy’s torn blue jerkin ant affixed it to the blue spear that Big Ol’ Roy carried, and, with a tear in his eye for the fallen,  held it aloft as the Cobalt Cobras’ new standard.  Unknown Zorick checked out the looted spellbook and found that in fact, his gamble had paid off—it had considerably better spells than the one he had sacrificed to the spellspiders.  Still no comprehend languages, though.  And the spiders were apparently serious about wanting a live victim in trade.  After an extended debate on the merits and morality of assisted suicide, someone remembered that the hobgoblins on level two post sentries, so the party hustled up to where they last encountered a hobgoblin picket.  Sure enough, there were two of them.  Unknown Zorick cast a sleep spell, putting them deeply out, and they snatched one of them and bound and gagged him.  “Hey, you know, I think we might actually be the bad guys” said Fast Fist Forbinn.

Skeletal baboons!  The party wrestled with the moral dilemma as they drug their captive down to the Hothouse, but they were stopped in their tracks by a clutch of skeletal baboons, baring their teeth in a territorial display (well, they’re skeletal, so they can’t not bare their teeth, but they sure didn’t look friendly).

And that’s where we left things!  On to the next session!

A Greenhouse Nightmare: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Sixth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on July 20, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

July 13, 2017 (no game on July 6)

The following irascible scoundrels were present and up to no good:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Unknown Zorick (magic-user)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)
  • Ured Last-Born (fighter)

This week the Cobalt Cobras continued to explore the Hothouse, a warm, humid and strangely lit area of Stonehell dungeon overgrown with moss and vines. After gathering their wits in the eerily peaceful chapel and taking note of the frescoes on the walls depicting men of the cloth planting a subterranean Eden, the party went back to the excavated tunnel to search the body of the magic user they had previously passed over.  Most of his gear was in bad shape (what with having been buried under tons of rock for a considerable time), but they were able to save his spellbook and a pouch full of strange seeds that looked almost like glittering gemstones.  After a discussion about what those could possibly be, the party set forth, and here’s what they found:

A council chamber!  With a dead fish!  In a dusty council chamber with a large table surrounded by preposterously high-backed chairs, the party found the skeleton of a four-foot fish, with head intact, as if it had been recently eaten, but not that recently: it smelled just absolutely terrible.

A mysterious machine!  The party then came to a room dominated by a large, rattling machine made up of sputtering valves, pipes, huge tanks, tubes and pressure dials.  A webwork of pipes radiated out from the machine along the ceiling of every hall in the Hothouse.

The dormitories!  Filled with plant monsters!  And a chamber pot!  The Cobalt Cobras then found a cluster of overgrown dormitories or cells, each one furnished in spartan fashion and most of which were inhabited by some terrible plant monster or another.  The party fought an aggressive head of lettuce, three vicious patches of moss (one of which landed on “Hot Pot” Sullivan’s head), and a cluster of giant ticks (which nearly sucked the life out of Big Ol’ Roy, who is now not feeling very good).  Most importantly, the party found a chamber pot they could use, because the female members of the party had too much dignity to just relieve themselves in the corners of the dungeon like some people.

Splitting the party!  And wizard spiders!  At some point, Knar the Broken decided the Cobalt Cobras were moving too slowly, so he set off with his henchman to investigate an area of the hothouse that was covered in webbing.  Big surprise, it turned out to be the home of a pair of giant spiders.  But not just any spiders—these giant spiders could speak and cast spells.  And when the rest of the party tried to intervene, they had to first fact down a colossal, slobbering spider from their nightmares.  Literally from their nightmares, as it turned out, because it was just an illusion.  Eventually the party beat the spiders further back into their holes and got Knar and Cod Cully out.

A tight spot!  After some deliberation, the party decided to go explore the spiders’ lair.  However, this might have turned out to be a mistake, because, once they all got into the first webbed room, they found themselves surrounded by a whole lot more of the spell-slinging arachnids, menacing them spiderly with their little spider hands and their eight beady spider eyes.

How will the Cobalt Cobras get out of this mess? On to the next session!

Digging into Adventure: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Fifth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

June 29, 2017

The following veritable army of Cobalt Cobras descended into Stonehell for gold and glory:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Fat Jack Blackfort (thief) and his henchman, Nibbles Neuberger (fighter)
  • Brother Criam from Qualer (cleric) and his henchman, Burt Slime (fighter)
  • Leaper Dray (thief)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • Opill the Undersage (magic-user) and his henchman, Rodrigo (thief)
  • Veronica of Ghotir (magic-user)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)

The adventure began in Kobold Korners, after our heroes, the Cobalt Cobras, encountered the menacing black-eyed elf.  After some lengthy discussion, they decided to go ahead and try the medusa Lachesis again.  The plan was to offer her the book with the ouroboros on the cover (that they found in the spider room, two sessions ago).  The party could not read the book, but they hoped Lachesis would be able to and that it would tell her how to pass through the Ouroboros Gate.  Lachesis was unfortunately not there when the player characters went knocking, so they decided to do some exploring.  Here’s what they found:

A grand foyer!  With treasure!  After mucking around an empty room that had old spider webs on the ceiling (and by “mucking about” I mean, of course, “they lit it on fire”), and where Reader Stedda pocketed an old wineskin with some delicious liquor in it, the party found their way to a large pillared foyer with stairs down and a double door that the party could not budge.  Brother Criam from Qualer searched the pillars and found a hefty treasure cache filled with gold coins and jewelry.

Heavy manual labor!  And monsters!  And a dead body!  The party then came to a collapsed tunnel, which they decided to excavate.  The project took roughly two hours, during which time the party had an encounter with a curious giant tarantula (which Knar the Broken annihilated in one magnificent shot) and an aggressive gelatinous cube (which engulfed Fat Jack Blackfort, who nearly died before the other player characters killed it).  They also dug the body of an adventurer out of the rubble, but then they forgot to search it, so who knows what they passed up.  Probably they’ll never know because some other enterprising adventurer will get to the body first and loot it.  Live and learn, Cobalt Cobras, live and learn!

The greenhouse effect?  And an unusually relaxing chapel!  Past the collapsed hallway, the temperature and humidity increased substantially, and walls and floor were completely covered in lichen, mold and leafy vegetation, and some sort of ambient green light filled the passageways.  The party discovered a ruined, overgrown chapel dedicated to Ky, a nature goddess, with a nearly oppressive aura of peace and contentment.  It was a nice place to rest after clearing all of that rubble.

What else will the Cobalt Cobras find in this strange, leafy dungeon greenhouse?  On to the next session!

Down and Out in Fort Dawnsend: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Fourth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

June 22, 2017

The following adventurers were up to the task this week:

  • Opill the Undersage (magic-user) and his henchman, Rodrigo (thief)
  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)

The adventure began once again in the Reptile House, in the aftermath of a failed attempt to properly activate the Ouroboros Gate.  The party wanted to head back to Kobold Korners and Fort Dawnsend, but also wanted to poke around a bit first, just in case they found something cool.  Here’s that happened:

An iron spike in the ceiling!  And an old wardrobe with treasure!  The party found a ruined bedchamber full of smashed furniture, and, weirdly, an iron spike stuck into the ceiling.  The player characters furtively fiddled around with the iron spike but couldn’t figure out how to get it down.  Thepp the Squinter took a close look at the broken wardrobe: no passageways to Narnia or anywhere else, but a hidden compartment full of gold!  Huzzah!

A ruined chapel!  With weirdly regular stone piles!  Why?  The party then investigated a ruined chapel full or strangely regular piles of stoned, at perfectly measured intervals.  Not sure what the deal was there, but disturbing the piles didn’t do anything.  File that one away for later.

Out of the dungeon to Fort Dawnsend!  The party managed to get back out of Stonehell and up into the box canyon, where they investigated some of the ruins before finally camping and heading back to Fort Dawnsend, ever vigilant for the yellow-and-black-clad brigand gang that plagues adventures heading back from Stonehell.

Encounters with other adventurers!  Everyone gets jealous!  And the party gets a name!  And matching jerkins!  Back in Stonehell, the party headed straight to the Lion’s Head Tavern, the usual adventurer’s haunt, where they enjoyed the lamb stew with displacer beast.  At a nearby table sat another group of adventurers, calling themselves the Order of the Brazen Toad.  They had awesome matching tabards and a cool standard with a toad on a pole, and the player characters were insanely jealous.  Plus, the Order was dismissive and snobby.  So the party decided they needed a name and uniforms.  Thus, on that day, was born the Cobalt Cobras.  The party decided on matching blue leather jerkins with embroidered cobras on the left breast.

Getting custom-made jerkins is hard!  Especially when there are accusations of witchcraft!  The Cobalt Cobras immediately set out to get their matching jerkins made, but it turned out it would take a whole week, so they decided to just hang around town.  The first few days were uneventful (the party passed on a terrible investment opportunity), but on the fourth day, Reader Stedda was accused of witchcraft.  He narrowly escaped town by hopping over the wall while the angry crowd pelted him with rotten eggs and rotten vegetables, and he spent the rest of the week sleeping in the woods outside of town.

A debt collector!  And a quarg hunt!  While kicking around town waiting for the jerkins, “Hot Pot” Sullivan ran into an aggressive debt collector, who claimed that Hot Pot owed 100 gold plus interest on an old debt.  Hot Pot says the debt was her ex-husband’s (the one that left her with a heavily scarred face—heaven help him if he ever crosses paths with her again), but she paid up to avoid an entanglement with the Fort’s garrison and a stint in debtor’s prison.  A few days later, Hot Pot was invited by some locals on a “quarg hunt,” so she spent all night in the woods with the traditional quarg hunting regalia—a net, a bell on a long pole, and a bag of garlic.  By dawn, she realized that they were having her on.

Back to the dungeon!  And an unfortunate encounter with the black-eyed elf!  The week passed, the party picked up their custom-made blue jerkins (enough for everyone!), and the Cobalt Cobras headed back to Stonehell.  Back in Kobold Korners, in their way through the market, the party bumped into a white-haired elf with pitch black eyes and an ornate brass bracelet on his right arm.  The player characters asked the elf about the Ouroboros Gate, and even showed him the tome they pilfered with the snake devouring itself on the cover.  The elf’s reaction was singularly hostile; in accented common, he demanded that the party give him the book and leave Stonehell forever, and, when the player characters refused, the elf made himself absolutely clear: “Consider yourselves dead.”

On to the next session!


The Ouroboros Gate: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Third Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

June 15, 2017

The following adventurers were up to the task this week:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)

The adventure picked up in the Reptile House, in the aftermath of the hobgoblin ambush.  The player characters scouted the room a bit and found that it overlooked some sort of arena or pit where giant flies were feasting on the remains of a huge beast.  Nobody thought that would be a fun way to go, so they headed on towards (hopefully) the Ouroboros Gate.  Here’s what they found along the way:

More lizardmen!  And a deal is struck!  The party entered a large feast and assembly hall, dominated by a statue of a huge cobra.  In the hall was yet another patrol of lizardmen.  They were on edge but not directly hostile once the player characters established that they were not planning on desecrating the lizardmen’s sanctum.  Ultimately, the party traded their hobgoblin captive to the lizardmen for more information about the Ouroboros Gate (and another warning about the elf with the black eyes), and they all tried really hard not to think about the hobgoblin’s fate (spoiler: the lizardmen were definitely going to eat him).  As the party moved on towards the room containing the gate, they ominously stepped over a huge shed snakeskin…

The Ouroboros Gate!  And a big snake!  And more snakes!  Seriously, snakes everywhere!  Finally, the party turned right and entered a chamber furnished as a bedroom, containing a huge stone carving of a snake devouring itself: probably the Ouroboros Gate!  As the player characters crossed the room, they heard the tell-tale rattle of a rattlesnake under the bed.  They peeked under the bed from a distance and confirmed their fears: this was not merely a rattlesnake, but a huge rattlesnake, coiled and angry and under the bed.  The party unloaded missile weapons and flaming oil pots on the thing until it died, and fortunately took no casualties.  Reader Stedda decided to rig up a device to extract venom from the snake (he ain’t smart but he’s clever).  Turning to the Gate, the player characters tried various things to make it work; eventually, Thepp the Squinter pressed the statue’s eye, causing a flickering green field of light to spring into existence .  “Hot Pot” Sullivan, feeling brave and immortal, tried walking through.  Unfortunately, not only was she not transported anywhere, but all of her torches and crossbow quarrels suddenly turned into live snakes, biting her something fierce.  She survived, but barely.  Frustrated, the party searched the rest of the room, finding a box of gold coins, a key on a lanyard, and a hammered gold leaf bookmark.

Spiders!  Books!  More fire!  Heading back the way they came, the party stopped to check out a nearby room with an open door.  It was an old scriptorium draped in spider webs, with the upper third of the room completely willed with webbing.  The player characters tossed in a lit vial of flaming oil and shut the door.  While the flames scoured the room, the party heard the unholy screeches of giant spiders roasting inside and trying to get out.  Once the flames subsided, the party went into the room to find the bodies of three giant black widow spiders, a desiccated body used as the spiders’ storage unit (full of treasure!), and a few intact books, written in some ancient and inscrutable language, but one of them was inscribed with the ouroboros image on the cover.

At that point, having had enough fun and not really sure what to do with the Ouroboros Gate next, the party headed back out of the Reptile House, strongly considering taking a trip out of the dungeon to Fort Dawnsend to recuperate and regroup.

On to the next session!


Rummaging through the Reptile House: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Second Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 14, 2017 by Kullervo

The Annals of Stonehell are the weekly record of the semi-seasonal game of D&D that I run using the brilliant Michael Curtis’s Stonehell dungeon.  (Go and buy it now; it’s worth every dang penny.)  All installments are indexed here.

June 8, 2017

The following adventurers were up to the task this week:

  • Opill the Undersage (magic-user) and his henchman, Rodrigo (thief)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Eshto Mastodon (fighter) with no henchman

This week’s adventure began with a side-quest by Opill the Undersage and Fast Fist Forbinn, since nobody else showed up on time.

An Acolyte of Chaos with terrible taste!  And a courier job!  Opill and Fast Fist made it back to the Festering Itch before everyone else, so while they were kicking back and relaxing, they were approached by a human priest wearing robes that looked like they were designed by Ed Hardy.  He identified himself as Buzz, the Acolyte of Chaos, and said he was looking for some hardy boys to make a delivery into the undead-infested Quiet Halls, immediately to the north of Kobold Korners.  Buzz said that he and his co-religionists had been trying to make contact with a hermit named Malfreces Nul who lives in a crypt.  So far, Nul has rebuffed the acolytes’ advances, so the acolytes want to give Nul a gift, which Buzz showed to the player characters: a chaotic grimoire, bound in black leather with gold filigree.  Buzz promised to compensate the player characters well for their efforts, and gave them some general directions, but most importantly he warned them to not open the book.  Opill and Fast Fist agreed, and headed out.

The kobold warehouse!  And more very exciting unfilled work orders!  The trip to the Quiet Halls went through the kobolds’ busy goods warehouse, where Opill and Fast Fist noted the board with unfilled orders.  Most interesting were orders for five shrunken heads and a lich’s coccyx.

Economic exploitation by the kobold with the tall hat!  Opill and Fast Fist met their first obstacle: the locked gate leading out of Kobold Korners.  They were unable to pick the lock, so they had to “rent” a key from the kobold’s watch captain (the one with the tallest hat) for 10 gp.

A slobbering, flopping monstrosity!  In the Quiet Halls and on their way to Malfreces Nul’s crypt, Opill and Fast Fist came face to face with some horrible, wet, flopping thing in the hallway ahead of them…

But then the rest of the players showed up and the player playing Opill had to go to bed (because he is eleven years old), so we put that side quest on hold and joined the rest of the party back in the cantina, trying to figure out how to proceed with the task that Lachesis the Medusa had set them to (i.e., find out how to pass through the Ouroboros Gate).  They decided to head into the Reptile House, the area of Stonehell below the Quiet Halls, and noted the unfilled orders in the warehouse.  The kobold with the tall hat was unavailable, but fortunately, Hot Put Sullivan was a better lockpick than Rodrigo and was able to pick the locked gate.

A scything blade trap to the face!  On the stairs down to the Reptile House, Reader Stedda noticed a large groove in the wall.  He decided to investigate closely, and triggered a scything blade trap.  Ouch!  He was injured seriously but not killed, and so he wasted his cure light wounds spell dealing with his own foolishness.  Reader Stedda claims he was the smartest man in his home village.  One shudders to think of the kind of brain trust that place is.

Glowing mushrooms in an ominous figure!  And a rare moment of wisdom!  Down in the Reptile House the player characters were assaulted by a marshy smell and the smell of lizards, and right at the landing, they found a patch of glowing mushrooms I the shape of a humanoid body.  They decided to not to eat them.

Totem poles with shrunken heads!  After finding a metal spike in the ground with a frayed rope attached to it and afraid of what that might signal, the party wound its way into some sort of tribal ceremonial room, decked with totem poles decorated with feathers and shrunken heads.  Fast Fist meticulously gathered five of them.  Order filled!

Gross eggs!  And parley with the lizardmen!  In an adjacent room, the party found a clutch of leathery eggs, recently broken and oozing something onto the flagstones.  At nearly the same time, a band of lizardmen approached the party, cautiously with spears out.  Hot Put Sullivan was able to parley with them in the neutral tongue.  The lizardmen were mostly concerned that the player characters not defile their sanctuary (which they apparently had not done yet), so they were willing to give some information, most important of which was that they knew the location of what they called the Serpent-That-Devours-Itself, which the player characters sure hope is the Ouroboros Gate and not some terrible monster.  The lizardmen also warned the party about a pale elf with jet black eyes who has been seen coming and going from the room with the Serpent-That-Devours-Itself.

Carnivorous flies!  And treasure (finally)!  On their way to the Serpent-That-Devours-Itself, the party made short work of a pair of carnivorous flies feasting on the corpse of a hobgoblin (probably from the hobgoblin army that is occupying part of the same level of the dungeon), and looted a couple of nice-looking gems from the body.

Hobgoblin ambush!  And a captive!  Continuing on their way, the party was ambushed by a group of hobgoblins shooting crossbows from a perch at the top of a staircase.  The party was pinned down for awhile, until Fast Fist Forbinn used a ring of invisibility and elven boots to scout the hobgoblins’ position.  As there were only three hobgoblins, the party decided to rush them (armored guys first, of course).  The player characters put two of the hobgoblins to the sword and the third one surrendered.

On to the next session!