Archive for August, 2017

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!