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

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