Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Eighth Session

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 11, 2016

The party found their way to Kobold Korners, the dungeon’s Mos Eisley-esque neutral ground, trading post and cantina, and, after checking their weapons at the guard post, spent the evening exploring and interacting with the settlement’s weird patrons.

A market!  And a soothsayer!  The player characters first entered Kobold Korners’s widely-famed market, where they were assaulted by smells, very few of which were appealing.  The snake-seller (live or fried!) was particularly interesting.  The market’s patrons ran the gamut of horrid humanoids, but also included members of the brigand gang the party has tangled with in past sessions, and hooded cultists of some kind.  The first market stall was a soothsayer’s tent, to the party went straight in and consulted with the kobold soothsayer, who gave revelations of strictly dubious authenticity from a glass ball.  (Not crystal.  Glass.)

Gentlemen ghouls!  And an invitation to dinner!  Next, the player characters ran into an extremely polite and bespoke pair of ghouls with monocles, waistcoats and top-hats.  The ghouls were enamored by the player characters, and invited (nay, insisted) the party to come visit them at their stronghold several levels below, where the ghouls promised an evening of engaging discussion, witty repartee, literature, music, poetry, and fine dining.  With the player characters as the main course, of course.  The player characters politely declined the generous offer, but the ghouls pressed the matter, assuring the player characters that it would be an evening they would remember for the rest of their lives.  Such as it were.

A brew tent!  And a sobbing dwarf!  After poking around a junk merchant’s stall (where the player characters bought, inter alia, some map cases stuffed with random scraps of parchment, one of which may very well be a magical scroll), the party made their way to the brew tent.  The tent’s offerings were impressive—nearly every combination of fermented urine and dead animal that you can imagine.  Interestingly, a dwarf sat at one of the benches, crying tears into his beer.  The player characters approached him, and he proceeded to tell them his tale of woe: he once drank a gray mushroom ale of Stonehell dungeon provenance, and it was the greatest brew he had ever tasted.  The kind of brew that dwarven clans go to war over for generations.  He is certain that a colony of dwarves—kin to him, no less—was established deep in the dungeon long ago and developed the recipe for this ale of legend, and he is equally sure that if he could only find the colony and this recipe, that it would mean eternal glory for his clan and probably a wild fortune.  The party took note, and the sad dwarf kept drinking and crying.

A kobold warehouse!  With very exciting unfilled work orders!  On the hunt for sulfur (having already found saltpeter and interested in making some kind of explosive, I guess in case a Gorn shows up), the party left the market and wandered into the kobolds’ busy goods warehouse.  They didn’t find any sulfur, but they did spy a slate board with unfilled orders on the wall, and they noted that there is a demand for manticore spikes.

The Rat Kebab Café!  And a wee Manticore!  Next, after another brief encounter with the gentlemen ghouls, the party wound their way to the Rat Kebab Café, the Korners’ favorite haute cuisine eatery.  The rat kebabs made the player characters retch, but they did sit down with a small manticore (sitting at the table just like a little man!) who was messily devouring kebabs, and they inquired about the manticore’s spikes.  This was probably dangerous and stupid, but the manticore was not in a fighting mood, so it told the party that it would part with some spikes in exchange for a live halfling to eat.  The party was surprisingly amenable to this frankly reprehensible proposition, but as they haven’t actually encountered any halflings in Stonehell, nothing may come of it.

The cantina!  And a sullen ghoul!  The player characters headed into a dim cantina bustling with drunk, raucous monsters (and better drinks then the kobolds’ brew tent).  The party met a sullen ghoul, lurking in the corner (like Strider at the Prancing Pony, but undead and a cannibal, and also not smoking).  For all the angry attitude it was copping, the ghoul was actually fairly willing to tell its story: it had once been the apprentice of a magic-user who was investigating the lines between life, death and undeath.  The ghoul claims that its undead nature was a result of a magical experiment not its fault at all (i.e., not from, say, succumbing to the lure of human flesh, per usual), and reported that its master apparently discovered a cure for undeath.  After the ghoul and its master parted ways, the magic user established a laboratory and stronghold in Stonehell.  In fact, the ghoul believes that this hidden sanctum is near Kobold Korners, but he just can’t find it, but the ghoul is willing to join any party that will help him look for it, and even forego its share of the treasure—all the ghoul wants is the cure for undeath.

SURELY YOU’LL NEVER FIND A MORE WRETCHED HIVE OF SCUM AND VILLAINY THAN KOBOLD KORNERS.

On to the next session!

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