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

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