The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Fifth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 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 14, 2016

The party continued to explore Hell’s Antechamber, but picked up some useful information about other places to go in the dungeon, so they set off in search of the kobold settlement.  Mostly because there’s a bar there.  To get information, of course.  Here’s what happened on the way:

Kobold work crews!  With information!  The party had several encounters with kobold work crews re-setting sprung traps in the dungeon (which answers the question of “how come the traps in Stonehell are always armed”).  None of them were overly friendly, but most were content to be left alone and to give a good word of advice.  Most importantly, they let the player characters know the following: (i) directly beneath Hell’s Antechamber is a level that was once a sanitarium for Stonehell’s more mentally unstable prisoners, but that long ago the inmates took over the madhouse, and, consequently, it’s not a safe area, (ii) to the south of Hell’s Antechamber, there’s a war going on between a tribe of orcs and a tribe of goblins, and the orcs are winning, (iii) beyond the doors carved with dancing skeletons is a series of crypts full of the restless dead and (iv) far southeast of Hell’s Antechamber is a trade hub and neutral ground for dungeon denizens known as Kobold Korners where the party might be able to deal in treasure and merchandise and find out more about the deeper levels of the dungeon.  Also there’s a tavern.  Also the kobolds are very concerned about the dragon.  The player characters, less so.

See!  The sprung pit trap was re-set!  On their way to find Kobold Korners, the party went past the pit trap that Giel Kerash (played by Oliver) fell into weeks ago.  It has since been re-set.  Now the party has a pretty good clue who does that.

Dwarven archaeologists!  The party encountered a group of dwarves studying an architectural marvel, led by the “famed” dwarven archaeologist Snorri Broadshoulders.  Snorri tried to hire the player characters as bodyguards, but it was evident that his planned pace through the dungeon was going to be more… leisurely than the party really wants, so they passed on the generous offer.

A trash heap!  With rats!  The party found what looks like an orc dumping ground.  Probably connected to the orc tribe that the kobolds told about.  There was an awful lot of rodentlike chittering in the room though, so the party decided it was not going to be worth getting filthy and catching something nasty.  Had Thergus the Poacher (played by Sean) been along, he certainly would have dived in headfirst.

An electricity trap!  And a fight with orcs!  After navigating a concerningly high number of crossroads all right next to each other (dare I say a labyrinth?), the party found an oblong room covered in weird frescoes with two armored statues at either end pointing at each other and an intense smell of ozone.  Suspecting a trap, Ruphus the Merciful (played by Jon) tossed a dagger into the room.  An arc of electricity leapt between the two statues, frying the dagger.  It was also loud, and attracted an extremely unfriendly orc patrol!  The orcs and the party shot arrows at each other across the trapped room. Electric arcs were everywhere.  Some were wounded.  One orc was killed.  Neither group was willing to move through the room though to engage the other group at close range, so eventually the players withdrew, conscious that they had now, just possibly, alerted the whole orc tribe.

Yet another crossroads!  And graffiti!  On high alert, moving south out of Hell’s Antechamber into the Contested Corridors, the party came across orcish graffiti marking the territory as belonging to the Open Sore Tribe.  Who are the Open Sore Tribe?

Kicking in the door and slaughtering orcs!  The player characters then came up to a closed door and heard orc voices on the other side, so they kicked in the door and quickly dispatched the orc outpost, sending them howling to meet their orcish maker.  Unfortunately, this caught the attention of another orc patrol, who rounded the corner, gnashing their teeth with weapons at the ready!

On to the next session!

The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Fourth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 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.

June 30, 2016

The party started out by realizing that it was actually pretty late at night, so they went back to the Wheel of Fortune room to hole up and sleep.  The night passed uneventfully, but the player characters were a little unclear about how long they actually slept (what with it being pitch black and 100 feet underground.  Once they got up, re-lit their torches and gave the Wheel of Fortune another couple of spins, they got back to exploring Hell’s Antechamber, the entry zone of Stonehell dungeon proper.  Here are some of the things they encountered:

A crumbling chamber full of niter and giant centipedes!:  The party explored a room full of cracks and niter.  They gathered up some of the niter, mostly in case they get transported to Cestus III and have to fight the Gorn captain at some point.  Just in case.  Out of the cracks crawled a mass of giant centipedes, but the player characters quickly dispatched them.

A Devil Lizard!  (Statue):  In the next room, the party found a strange statue of a large bipedal lizard with four arms and a nose horn holding a bowl overflowing with gold pieces.  The statue was surrounded by stone fragments on floor.  When the player characters disturbed it, the room started to shake and rumble, and dust and debris fell from the ceiling.  Nervous about somehow triggering a falling rock trap, the party moved on.

Water!:  After that, the party found a cistern full of perfectly potable water.  Worth noting for future emergencies, but not exactly high adventure.

Oh what the heck, let’s get the gold:  On their way back through the devil lizard room, one of the players (played by Chris) decided to just go ahead and chance it, so he ran up the statue, scooped the gold into a bag, and ran.  The ceiling collapsed, raining rocks everywhere, but Chris was lucky (skilled?) and made it out safe, sound, and a little bit richer.

On to the next session!

The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Third Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 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.

June 23, 2016

After taking some time to secure the green slime and giant rat situations that were left over from the previous week, the player characters continued to explore Hell’s Antechamber, the entry zone of Stonehell dungeon proper.  Here are some of the things they encountered:

A Fountain shaped like a fish!  That spews poison!  The player characters found an old stone fountain with a fish-shaped spout.  A suspicious green residue around the fish’s mouth tipped the thieves in the party that it might be poisoned somehow.  After fiddling with the fountain from a distance, the player characters triggered the trap, but were far enough away that nobody was the worse for wear.

Caves!  And a dragon?  More exploration revealed a series of caves.  “Red Rum” Ratch (played by Seth) scouted ahead and found what may or may not have been a “dragon’s lair,” inhabited by a large, stupid-looking lizard that was almost certainly not a dragon.  Although the pile of coins in the lair was tempting, Red Rum was beckoned back to the party by…

Kobolds!  With poop!  Scaly, dog-like, sycophantic toady humanoids!  A group of kobolds armed with absurdly jury-rigged weapons was encountered, lugging an immense bucket of bat guano that they had harvested.  The kobolds seemed more interested in the player characters’ safety from the “dragon” than anything else, and the player characters largely ignored the opportunity to press the kobolds for more information about Stonehell.

Cobras in the garbage!  Red Rum disturbed a trio of spitting cobras in a room full of refuse.  Combat ensued, and the players made short work of the deadly serpents.

Sooty silhouettes!  In the next room, the party found man-shaped sooty silhouettes on the walls, with strange inscriptions that the player characters were not able to decipher.  Unable to make sense of it, the party moved on.

An ancient battlefield!  AND A GHOST!  The party found its way into a chamber full of bones, rusted weapons and moldering armor, signs of a battle fought long ago.  While the player characters searched the room, an eerie, hollow-eyes figure appeared in the center of the room and stared menacingly at them.  This spooked some of the player characters, who found themselves fleeing uncontrollably.  When the party came back to the room, the figure was gone.

A yellow-and-black brigand!  The party came around a corner and surprised one of the bandits in yellow and black from the last two sessions.  Wasting no time, Thergus the Poacher (played by Sean) loosed an arrow into the bandit’s throat.  Now, I’m not going to say that was a straight-up murder, but it was basically a straight-up murder.

Stone doors carved with a danse macabre!  The night ended with the party standing in front of two great stone doors, decorated with a relief carving of dancing skeletons.  What lies beyond these doors?  (Spoiler: the party never finds out.)

On to the next session!

The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Second Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 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.

June 16, 2016

The player characters descended into Stonehell proper.  The great spiral staircase went down a hundred feet and opened up into a large room with many exits, so the players began generally exploring the area around the entry-room.  here are some of the interesting things they found:

A pit trap!  Giel Kerash (played by Oliver) ended up face-down and nearly dead from a bad fall into a pit trap.  The party lucked out though—there was nothing nasty at the bottom, and the fall didn’t attract any unwanted attention.  The party set up two stakes and a rope to get across the pit in the future (or to allow someone else to get across it…).

A room that pronounces doom!  And orcs!  The party wandered into a room where a booming voice as if from nowhere pronounced their doom and laughed maniacally.  It was odd and disturbing, but apparently it is triggered anytime anyone enters.  While the party was trying to open a portcullis, a group of orcs showed up.  The party scrambled through the portcullis and let it close, and then endured a tense stand-off with the orcs in the dark until the orcs gave up and wandered away.

A Wheel of Fortune!  The party discovered a huge stone wheel marked with happy and sad faces.  Spinning the wheel and landing on a happy face resulted in magical boons, but the wheel could only be spun twice before it locked up.

Banditos!  A group of the black-and-yellow-clad brigands from the box canyon the previous week showed up and attempted to extort money from the player characters.  The players bluffed themselves out of the situation (it helped that the brigands were outnumbered).  The brigands were also notably poor at math.  And, as they left, they warned the party to “look out for the dragon.”

A slime fountain!  And giant rats!  In an abandoned kitchen, the party found an old sink pump that, when pumped, filled the basin with living green slime.  The slime moves very slowly though, so the party just decided to walk away from it, virtually ensuring that it will come back to bite them later.  Similarly, the party avoided confrontation with a huge pack of giant rats.

A terrifying crossroads!  And maybe a dragon?  Through a pair of archways shaped like a monster’s toothy maw, the players came to a four-way tunnel intersection, with a sign pointing to the left that reads “THIS WAY TO THE DRAGON.”

And that’s where the players left things.  What will happen next?  Will the green slime drop on someone’s head?  Will the brigands bring back reinforcements?  What about the orcs?  What about the rats?  What about the dragon?  Will blood be spilled?  Will treasure be found?

On to the next session!

The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Introduction and First Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on April 18, 2017 by Kullervo

So, last summer I ran a weekly game of basic D&D (mostly using Labyrinth Lord but with some Rules Cyclopedia stuff thrown in as needed or desired) using the amazing Stonehell dungeon by Michael Curtis.  The game was a roaring success–it ran weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but we kept it casual.  Nobody was obligated to come every week, plenty of people only came once, a decent number of people came every time.  (I dealt with inconsistent player attendance by just blinking non-present players’ characters out of existence and not worrying about it too much.)

As the game went on, I started sending out e-mails to the player list, describing what happened the previous week, to remind people who played, to catch up people who missed, and to entice people who hadn’t made it yet.  So it morphed into a kind of weekly game report, although more mirthful than meticulous.  Today, while ramping up for this summer’s return to Stonehell, I took all of the e-mails, edited them and compiled them into one record.  And I thought I’d put it online for anyone who is interested.  So, without further ado, I give you… THE ANNALS OF STONEHELL!  (All installments are indexed here.)

June 9, 2016

Stonehell Dungeon was a prison, originally created as a terrible experiment by the Grand Vizier of a now-fallen empire.  The Vizier selected inmates from the empire’s worst dungeons and prisons, shepherded them into a cave at the end of a box canyon on the western fringes of the empire, and commanded them to carve out their own prison out of the rock.  The Vizier watched his experiment remotely, and periodically introduced new “variables,” in the form of monsters and humanoid tribes.  Eventually the prisoners dug so deep that the guards stopped even patrolling.

When the empire fell, a force came to “liberate” Stonehell.  But hardly anyone was willing to come out, and those who did told fantastic stories of gangs of prisoners mining into gold and gemstone deposits and setting themselves up as fabulously wealthy subterranean kingdoms.  Wilder stories said that the prisoners had dug too deep and broken into other underground cave complexes housing weird and ancient things.  There were persistent rumors of magical wealth, including a 50-pound shard of ruby seen in the depths of the dungeon that is said to teleport from place to place.

In the century since the empire fell, the dungeon has attracted both tribes of monsters and bands of adventurers seeking wealth.  It has become such a popular place to seek one’s fortune that the nearest settlement, Fort Dawnsend, has grown an entire economy around adventurers delving into Stonehell.

The players arrived at Fort Dawnsend and gathered supplies and hired henchmen for a trip into the depths.  They cautiously approached the box canyon where the entrance to Stonehell is, spending the better part of a day exploring it (and finding some gold and treasure in the process).  There was an unfortunate incident with a rabid raccoon and a brush with a spitting cobra, but none of the player characters were injured.  Finally, the players engaged in a tense standoff with a band of robbers who frequent the canyon to pick off adventurers going back and forth.

The night ended with the players finally entering the main gate to Stonehell, and we left them at the top of a broad spiral staircase descending into the unknown depths…

On to the next session!

Tiny Savage Thouls

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2015 by Kullervo

AC: 7
HD: 1**
Move: 120′ (40′)
Attacks: 2 claws
Damage: 1d3/1d3
No. Appearing: 4d6 (hundreds)
Save as: F1
Morale: 8
Treasure Type: C
Intelligence: 4
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 16

A claw attack by a tiny savage thoul will paralyze (as a ghoul) if it does at least three damage. If a tiny savage thoul is killed by any means, it may save vs. death ray to immediately spring to life with 1 hp.

I suppose you could also have them throw rocks.

Someone on Dragonsfoot asked for suggestions of monsters to swarm a party of level 5-6 characters. This is what I came up with.

Escape from the Lizardmen’s Grotto

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2015 by Kullervo

This weekend my brother an adventure involving an escape from the clutches of a bloodthirsty lizardman tribe.  The PCs begin in wooden cages in the center area, destined for sacrifice.

He asked for one exit route through the lizardman area, but with the potential for rescuing other captives, and a second exit through flooded caves.  I added one, possibly two more exits.
After talking through the (finished) map, we also came up with a jade mine (the entrance would be in one of the cliff faces in the central grotto.  It has a bloated giant lizardman overseer, a cockatrice accidentally stalking the tunnels, and a secret plan for the miners to dig an escape tunnel.
Escape from the Lizardmen's Grotto
Obviously it’s hand-drawn and hand-written.
Also, here’s a random encounter chart:
Random Encounters in the Grotto