Meeting the Medusa: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – First 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.

June 1, 2017

The following members of the expedition were present and expediting:

  • Throgmorton Le Strange (kobold) and his henchman, Couch (kobold)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Opill the Undersage (magic-user) and his henchman, Rodrigo (thief)
  • Nevuch the Gesticulate (cleric) and his henchman, Hortensius (hobgoblin)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)

This summer’s campaign began with a recap of what has happened in the passing year:

The annihilation of the Werewolf Pope’s army!  After the conflagration at St. Nenno’s Abbey, the forces of St. Nenno’s, led by Pope Borian Wolfric II (also presumed to be a lycanthrope), invaded Stonehell through the Efah-Soom, a teleporter nexus built by the grim, science fiction dark elves deep in the dungeon known as the Vrilya (who TPK’d the party last year).  The invasion was enthusiastic and fervent, but the forces of St. Nenno’s were  by the Vrilya, and the site of St. Nenno’s Abbey was disintegrated, leaving a glass crater in its place.  Now, the ragged survivors of the forces of St. Nenno’s are seen sometimes in the dungeon, looking haggard and grim.

The invasion of the Blue Lich!  Earlier in the spring, the party of player characters went on a side-mission to investigate the Blue Tombs, a mysterious burial site located on the second level of Stonehell.  Giant toads were fought.  An elf was skewered.  The player characters found the grand tomb itself, opened the sarcophagus, and quickly stole a blue amulet, a blue scepter and a blue sword off of the body laying inside (they weren’t quick enough to also grab the blue crown).  The body woke up, of course, enraged and floating in the air, and opened a portal to who knows where, out of which an army of armored skeletons came marching out.  The party skedaddled with the stuff they stole.  Since then, the armored skeletons have been taking over the Asylum (a portion of level two that was once a sanitarium for Stonehell’s less mentally healthy inmates, but later fell to become a kingdom of madmen).  Folks are asking questions, and Rythik, the king of the madmen, has not been heard from.

The hobgoblins are restless!  The hobgoblin military force that occupies a portion of the second level of Stonehell has become more aggressive as of late, even attacking Kobold Korners a few times.  The kobolds have reacted by building barricades and becoming much more careful about their security (read: pathologically paranoid).

A new power in the depths?  Rumor tells of a group of white-clad cultists with bronze masks making appearances on the lower levels of the dungeon.  They are said to serve an inscrutable goddess of riddles and death.  What do they want?  Where did they come from?

So this week’s adventure began with the party at the Festering Itch, the neutral-ground cantina in Kobold Korners, wondering what to do with the mysterious treasures they plundered from the Blue Tombs, and making friends with Throgmorton Le Strange, the lone survivor from last year’s conflagration at St. Nenno’s Abbey and keeper of last year’s dungeon map.  After making inquiries, the party determined that the most likely source of information about the blue artifacts would be Lachesis, a medusa information-broker who lives on the third level of Stonehell with her enslaved human mage and two ogre bodyguards.  She is known to frequent Kobold Korners, but has not been seen in weeks.  Accordingly, the players decided to head to her lair.  Here’s what happened on the way:

A furious dwarf!  The party was approached by an imposing dwarf with a blunderbuss who announced himself as Zodar the Elder.  He said that his brother, Wodar the Elder, had gone missing in Stonehell dungeon looking for the recipe to Stonehell’s gray mushroom ale, a legendary brew that a colony of their dwarven ancestors had invented deep in the dungeon long ago.  Zodar claimed to have it on good authority that Wodar had spoken to a group of adventurers about this, and they didn’t help him, so Wodar went it alone and never came back.  Accordingly, Zodar has entered this unknown (to him) party of adventures into his Book of Grudges and sworn his everlasting vengeance against whoever they happen to be.  The party assured him it was not them (which is technically true since everyone had been playing different characters when that happened last summer).  Zodar remained suspicious, but informed the party that they could earn his everlasting esteem by finding Wodar and/or the gray mushroom ale.  Then, Zodar went to bother another party of adventurers who were also hanging around the cantina.

Paranoid bureaucracy!  As a hobgoblin, Hortensius’s presence in the party proved to be a bit of a poser when the player characters wanted to cross the barricade to get to the stairs down to level two.  They struck a bargain with the kobold watch-captain, who issued Hortensius a very detailed and officious pass.

A room full of statues!  And something terrible on the ceiling!  After a brief encounter with a hobgoblin picket on level two of the dungeon, the party headed down to level three, where they followed the directions they had been given to the medusa’s lair.  When they came to the huge gallery of stone statues of adventurers, they were pretty sure they had come to the right spot.  While trying to figure out what to do next, they were attacked by a bloated, segmented worm with long tentacles around its mouth, crawling on the ceiling.  The player characters killed it almost immediately, and pressed on.

The medusa’s lair!  The party bypassed a door covered in poisonous spikes (courtesy of Reader Stedda’s shepherd’s crook) and made their way into Lachesis’s reception-hall, where they met her enslaved magic user, a short, balding man named Skelmis.  Although he situation as tense, Lachesis eventually agreed to meet with the party from behind a screen.  She told them that, although she did not personally know the details about the blue artifacts, she did know where the information could be found, and she would tell the player characters for a mere 10,000 gold pieces.  Obviously the player characters did not have that kind of cash, so, in the alternative, she offered to trade her knowledge for more information: the secret password to pass through the Ouroboros Gate.  Although the name “Ouroboros Gate” didn’t ring any bells to the player characters, an ouroboros is a symbol of a snake devouring itself, and, last year, the party had explored a part of level two of the dungeon that was decorated in a snake motif, so they thought they might at least know where to start looking.

A refugee!  A kidnap victim!  And callous disregard for the suffering of others!  On their way back to Kobold Korners, the party ran into a survivor from St. Nenno’s, a cleric named Brother Azrael.  He told the party that his companion, Brother Bastian, had been taken prisoner by the hobgoblins.  He told the party that he has a plan to rescue Brother Bastian, but he needs help, so he asked the party to help him by attacking the hobgoblin redoubt from the other direction as a coordinated distraction.  The party thought this sounded like a terrible idea, so they left Brother Azrael and trooped up the stairs to Kobold Korners, bribing their way past the hobgoblin sentries with ichor steaks they cut from the horrible worm and using their pass to get Hortensius past the highly suspicious kobold watch-captain.

And that’s where the adventure ended for the night!

On to the next session!

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