Down and Out in Fort Dawnsend: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Fourth Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 28, 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 22, 2017

The following adventurers were up to the task this week:

  • Opill the Undersage (magic-user) and his henchman, Rodrigo (thief)
  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)

The adventure began once again in the Reptile House, in the aftermath of a failed attempt to properly activate the Ouroboros Gate.  The party wanted to head back to Kobold Korners and Fort Dawnsend, but also wanted to poke around a bit first, just in case they found something cool.  Here’s that happened:

An iron spike in the ceiling!  And an old wardrobe with treasure!  The party found a ruined bedchamber full of smashed furniture, and, weirdly, an iron spike stuck into the ceiling.  The player characters furtively fiddled around with the iron spike but couldn’t figure out how to get it down.  Thepp the Squinter took a close look at the broken wardrobe: no passageways to Narnia or anywhere else, but a hidden compartment full of gold!  Huzzah!

A ruined chapel!  With weirdly regular stone piles!  Why?  The party then investigated a ruined chapel full or strangely regular piles of stoned, at perfectly measured intervals.  Not sure what the deal was there, but disturbing the piles didn’t do anything.  File that one away for later.

Out of the dungeon to Fort Dawnsend!  The party managed to get back out of Stonehell and up into the box canyon, where they investigated some of the ruins before finally camping and heading back to Fort Dawnsend, ever vigilant for the yellow-and-black-clad brigand gang that plagues adventures heading back from Stonehell.

Encounters with other adventurers!  Everyone gets jealous!  And the party gets a name!  And matching jerkins!  Back in Stonehell, the party headed straight to the Lion’s Head Tavern, the usual adventurer’s haunt, where they enjoyed the lamb stew with displacer beast.  At a nearby table sat another group of adventurers, calling themselves the Order of the Brazen Toad.  They had awesome matching tabards and a cool standard with a toad on a pole, and the player characters were insanely jealous.  Plus, the Order was dismissive and snobby.  So the party decided they needed a name and uniforms.  Thus, on that day, was born the Cobalt Cobras.  The party decided on matching blue leather jerkins with embroidered cobras on the left breast.

Getting custom-made jerkins is hard!  Especially when there are accusations of witchcraft!  The Cobalt Cobras immediately set out to get their matching jerkins made, but it turned out it would take a whole week, so they decided to just hang around town.  The first few days were uneventful (the party passed on a terrible investment opportunity), but on the fourth day, Reader Stedda was accused of witchcraft.  He narrowly escaped town by hopping over the wall while the angry crowd pelted him with rotten eggs and rotten vegetables, and he spent the rest of the week sleeping in the woods outside of town.

A debt collector!  And a quarg hunt!  While kicking around town waiting for the jerkins, “Hot Pot” Sullivan ran into an aggressive debt collector, who claimed that Hot Pot owed 100 gold plus interest on an old debt.  Hot Pot says the debt was her ex-husband’s (the one that left her with a heavily scarred face—heaven help him if he ever crosses paths with her again), but she paid up to avoid an entanglement with the Fort’s garrison and a stint in debtor’s prison.  A few days later, Hot Pot was invited by some locals on a “quarg hunt,” so she spent all night in the woods with the traditional quarg hunting regalia—a net, a bell on a long pole, and a bag of garlic.  By dawn, she realized that they were having her on.

Back to the dungeon!  And an unfortunate encounter with the black-eyed elf!  The week passed, the party picked up their custom-made blue jerkins (enough for everyone!), and the Cobalt Cobras headed back to Stonehell.  Back in Kobold Korners, in their way through the market, the party bumped into a white-haired elf with pitch black eyes and an ornate brass bracelet on his right arm.  The player characters asked the elf about the Ouroboros Gate, and even showed him the tome they pilfered with the snake devouring itself on the cover.  The elf’s reaction was singularly hostile; in accented common, he demanded that the party give him the book and leave Stonehell forever, and, when the player characters refused, the elf made himself absolutely clear: “Consider yourselves dead.”

On to the next session!



The Ouroboros Gate: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Third Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 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 15, 2017

The following adventurers were up to the task this week:

  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Knar the Broken (fighter) and his henchman, Cod Cully (fighter)

The adventure picked up in the Reptile House, in the aftermath of the hobgoblin ambush.  The player characters scouted the room a bit and found that it overlooked some sort of arena or pit where giant flies were feasting on the remains of a huge beast.  Nobody thought that would be a fun way to go, so they headed on towards (hopefully) the Ouroboros Gate.  Here’s what they found along the way:

More lizardmen!  And a deal is struck!  The party entered a large feast and assembly hall, dominated by a statue of a huge cobra.  In the hall was yet another patrol of lizardmen.  They were on edge but not directly hostile once the player characters established that they were not planning on desecrating the lizardmen’s sanctum.  Ultimately, the party traded their hobgoblin captive to the lizardmen for more information about the Ouroboros Gate (and another warning about the elf with the black eyes), and they all tried really hard not to think about the hobgoblin’s fate (spoiler: the lizardmen were definitely going to eat him).  As the party moved on towards the room containing the gate, they ominously stepped over a huge shed snakeskin…

The Ouroboros Gate!  And a big snake!  And more snakes!  Seriously, snakes everywhere!  Finally, the party turned right and entered a chamber furnished as a bedroom, containing a huge stone carving of a snake devouring itself: probably the Ouroboros Gate!  As the player characters crossed the room, they heard the tell-tale rattle of a rattlesnake under the bed.  They peeked under the bed from a distance and confirmed their fears: this was not merely a rattlesnake, but a huge rattlesnake, coiled and angry and under the bed.  The party unloaded missile weapons and flaming oil pots on the thing until it died, and fortunately took no casualties.  Reader Stedda decided to rig up a device to extract venom from the snake (he ain’t smart but he’s clever).  Turning to the Gate, the player characters tried various things to make it work; eventually, Thepp the Squinter pressed the statue’s eye, causing a flickering green field of light to spring into existence .  “Hot Pot” Sullivan, feeling brave and immortal, tried walking through.  Unfortunately, not only was she not transported anywhere, but all of her torches and crossbow quarrels suddenly turned into live snakes, biting her something fierce.  She survived, but barely.  Frustrated, the party searched the rest of the room, finding a box of gold coins, a key on a lanyard, and a hammered gold leaf bookmark.

Spiders!  Books!  More fire!  Heading back the way they came, the party stopped to check out a nearby room with an open door.  It was an old scriptorium draped in spider webs, with the upper third of the room completely willed with webbing.  The player characters tossed in a lit vial of flaming oil and shut the door.  While the flames scoured the room, the party heard the unholy screeches of giant spiders roasting inside and trying to get out.  Once the flames subsided, the party went into the room to find the bodies of three giant black widow spiders, a desiccated body used as the spiders’ storage unit (full of treasure!), and a few intact books, written in some ancient and inscrutable language, but one of them was inscribed with the ouroboros image on the cover.

At that point, having had enough fun and not really sure what to do with the Ouroboros Gate next, the party headed back out of the Reptile House, strongly considering taking a trip out of the dungeon to Fort Dawnsend to recuperate and regroup.

On to the next session!


Rummaging through the Reptile House: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 2 – Second Session

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 14, 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 8, 2017

The following adventurers were up to the task this week:

  • Opill the Undersage (magic-user) and his henchman, Rodrigo (thief)
  • Fast Fist Forbinn (fighter) and his henchman, Conchobar (fighter)
  • Reader Stedda (cleric) and his henchman, Bootblack (thief)
  • Thepp the Squinter (thief) and his henchman, Big Ol’ Roy (fighter)
  • “Hot Pot” Sullivan (halfling thief) and her henchman, Bob Agamemnon (fighter)
  • Eshto Mastodon (fighter) with no henchman

This week’s adventure began with a side-quest by Opill the Undersage and Fast Fist Forbinn, since nobody else showed up on time.

An Acolyte of Chaos with terrible taste!  And a courier job!  Opill and Fast Fist made it back to the Festering Itch before everyone else, so while they were kicking back and relaxing, they were approached by a human priest wearing robes that looked like they were designed by Ed Hardy.  He identified himself as Buzz, the Acolyte of Chaos, and said he was looking for some hardy boys to make a delivery into the undead-infested Quiet Halls, immediately to the north of Kobold Korners.  Buzz said that he and his co-religionists had been trying to make contact with a hermit named Malfreces Nul who lives in a crypt.  So far, Nul has rebuffed the acolytes’ advances, so the acolytes want to give Nul a gift, which Buzz showed to the player characters: a chaotic grimoire, bound in black leather with gold filigree.  Buzz promised to compensate the player characters well for their efforts, and gave them some general directions, but most importantly he warned them to not open the book.  Opill and Fast Fist agreed, and headed out.

The kobold warehouse!  And more very exciting unfilled work orders!  The trip to the Quiet Halls went through the kobolds’ busy goods warehouse, where Opill and Fast Fist noted the board with unfilled orders.  Most interesting were orders for five shrunken heads and a lich’s coccyx.

Economic exploitation by the kobold with the tall hat!  Opill and Fast Fist met their first obstacle: the locked gate leading out of Kobold Korners.  They were unable to pick the lock, so they had to “rent” a key from the kobold’s watch captain (the one with the tallest hat) for 10 gp.

A slobbering, flopping monstrosity!  In the Quiet Halls and on their way to Malfreces Nul’s crypt, Opill and Fast Fist came face to face with some horrible, wet, flopping thing in the hallway ahead of them…

But then the rest of the players showed up and the player playing Opill had to go to bed (because he is eleven years old), so we put that side quest on hold and joined the rest of the party back in the cantina, trying to figure out how to proceed with the task that Lachesis the Medusa had set them to (i.e., find out how to pass through the Ouroboros Gate).  They decided to head into the Reptile House, the area of Stonehell below the Quiet Halls, and noted the unfilled orders in the warehouse.  The kobold with the tall hat was unavailable, but fortunately, Hot Put Sullivan was a better lockpick than Rodrigo and was able to pick the locked gate.

A scything blade trap to the face!  On the stairs down to the Reptile House, Reader Stedda noticed a large groove in the wall.  He decided to investigate closely, and triggered a scything blade trap.  Ouch!  He was injured seriously but not killed, and so he wasted his cure light wounds spell dealing with his own foolishness.  Reader Stedda claims he was the smartest man in his home village.  One shudders to think of the kind of brain trust that place is.

Glowing mushrooms in an ominous figure!  And a rare moment of wisdom!  Down in the Reptile House the player characters were assaulted by a marshy smell and the smell of lizards, and right at the landing, they found a patch of glowing mushrooms I the shape of a humanoid body.  They decided to not to eat them.

Totem poles with shrunken heads!  After finding a metal spike in the ground with a frayed rope attached to it and afraid of what that might signal, the party wound its way into some sort of tribal ceremonial room, decked with totem poles decorated with feathers and shrunken heads.  Fast Fist meticulously gathered five of them.  Order filled!

Gross eggs!  And parley with the lizardmen!  In an adjacent room, the party found a clutch of leathery eggs, recently broken and oozing something onto the flagstones.  At nearly the same time, a band of lizardmen approached the party, cautiously with spears out.  Hot Put Sullivan was able to parley with them in the neutral tongue.  The lizardmen were mostly concerned that the player characters not defile their sanctuary (which they apparently had not done yet), so they were willing to give some information, most important of which was that they knew the location of what they called the Serpent-That-Devours-Itself, which the player characters sure hope is the Ouroboros Gate and not some terrible monster.  The lizardmen also warned the party about a pale elf with jet black eyes who has been seen coming and going from the room with the Serpent-That-Devours-Itself.

Carnivorous flies!  And treasure (finally)!  On their way to the Serpent-That-Devours-Itself, the party made short work of a pair of carnivorous flies feasting on the corpse of a hobgoblin (probably from the hobgoblin army that is occupying part of the same level of the dungeon), and looted a couple of nice-looking gems from the body.

Hobgoblin ambush!  And a captive!  Continuing on their way, the party was ambushed by a group of hobgoblins shooting crossbows from a perch at the top of a staircase.  The party was pinned down for awhile, until Fast Fist Forbinn used a ring of invisibility and elven boots to scout the hobgoblins’ position.  As there were only three hobgoblins, the party decided to rush them (armored guys first, of course).  The player characters put two of the hobgoblins to the sword and the third one surrendered.

On to the next session!


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

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 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 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!

Henchmen, Men-at-arms and Torchbearers, Oh My!

Posted in Dungeons & Dragons with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2017 by Kullervo

One of the things I love about old-school D&D is the expectation of tons of retainers.  To me, it adds another level of fun and personality to the game, and an interesting layer of resource management (it also mitigates a lot of the game balance and niche protection problems of newer D&D editions).  However, I have found that most of the older D&D editions and their simulacra don’t have very fleshed-out or consistent rules for this.  So here’s how I run retainers in my games, because I have found that it works and is fun.

I always assume that all NPCs have 10s in each stat unless there is a very good reason for it to be otherwise. This is just to keep me sane as the DM, because then all that matters is their weapons, armor, class and level, and I don’t have to also think about other modifiers for anything.

I also divide retainers into the following three categories:

Henchmen: Henchmen are like sidekicks. They can be any character class. They have names (often funny ones) and personalities.  They come completely unequipped, depending on the PC to outfit them (I think I got this from 1e), which means that the PC has to provide, at a minimum, workable weapons and armor and a basic adventurer’s kit. They don’t work for a per diem rate, but they take a 1/2 share of treasure and get a 1/2 share of xp. They are willing to enter into combat and even fight on the front lines, but if the PC orders them into dangerous situations that the PC will not himself go into (i.e., uses the henchman as a 10′ pole), the henchman will have to make a morale check. And I always warn players of this beforehand and remind them of it often. If a henchman dies, the PC has to pay 50gp/level to the henchman’s family/hometown/clan or have a hard time attracting future retainers of any kind. If a PC dies, we usually promote his henchman into the player’s new PC.

Men-at-arms: Men-at-arms are mercenaries. They are usually level 1 fighters, and they come fully equipped and usually in a unit (e.g., 5 archers with scale mail, shortbows and handaxes) with a leader, and only the leader counts against the hiring PC’s retainer limit. They work for a per diem rate, typically in the realm of 1-5 gp per day each (I use the Mercenaries Table from p. 133 from the Rules Cyclopedia, but it’s per day instead of per month for mercenaries who will go into the dungeon). They will fight, even on the front lines, but won’t carry stuff or otherwise engage in “adventuring” (they certainly won’t test out dangerous areas, sketchy looking bridges, etc.). They’ll just flat-out refuse. They don’t gain levels or experience or take a share of treasure (if you want higher level men at arms, you have to hire elite soldiers at a substantially higher pay rate). If any of them die, the PC has to pay 50gp to the mercenary’s family/hometown/clan or all of the rest of the band will quit and the PC will have a harder time attracting future retainers of any kind.

Torchbearers: Torchbearers are 1-HD humans who serve as porters, etc. They work for a low per diem rate of something like 1 sp per day. They won’t fight or engage in adventuring beyond basically following the PCs around holding things. If any of them die, the PC has to pay 50sp to the torchbearer’s family/hometown/clan or the PC will have a harder time attracting future retainers of any kind. They don’t gain levels or experience or take a share of treasure.

LIGHTING THE WEREWOLF POPE ON FIRE: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Eleventh 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.

September 1, 2016

Back to the Quiet Halls!  But only for a few minutes, because snake men are downstairs!  After the previous week’s slaughter, the party (consisting of a mix of new player characters and old player characters who hadn’t been present the previous week) decided to keep exploring the Quiet Halls, hoping to find that big gem.  So they headed off in a different direction from the teleport glyph and found a spiral stairway down to the Reptile House, a region of Stonehell known to have once been the territory of a terrible cult of snake men.

Glory Holes!  After wending their way through a few corridors and chambers with ruined reptilian statuary, the party found an octagonal room with an unusual stone pedestal, topped with a statue of a four-headed cobra, rearing to strike in every direction.  On each side of the pedestal was a hole of disturbing size and elevation.  (“I thought this was a God-fearing house!” exclaimed one player.)  Eventually, someone stuck an iron spike (an actual iron spike; that’s not a bold euphemism) into one of the holes, which freed the statue to be able to  turn.  Pretty sure this was a trap, most of the party left the room and the thief wrangled a rope around one of the cobra heads and got out of the way to pull the statue around.  Unsurprisingly, this caused each of the cobra heads to spray green, poisonous gas into the room.  Also unsurprisingly, the player characters decided that this was not worth messing with.

The teleportation hub!  It was the last session of the summer, so the party decided, screw it, they were going to go back to the teleport glyph hub from the previous session (you know, the one that led to the total party kill)to see what they would find, for better or worse.  The party spent some time exploring the different teleport glyphs, mostly a matter of popping somewhere, taking a quick look-see, and popping back, and always worried that the Vrilya were going to find them and wipe them out again.  But then, one of the glyphs led completely out of the dungeon…

…to the stables?  Indeed!  The sixth teleportation glyph actually les to a little-used storage cellar underneath the stables of St. Nenno’s Abbey, miles away from Stonehell dungeon and the home base of an order of clerics in the service of Pope Borian Wolfric I, a regional pope whose lycanthropy is a well-known secret.  The party, appearing as if from nowhere, was quickly taken into a kind of “friendly” custody, and brought to a cell (the kind that monks pray in, not the kind prisoners are left to rot in… although it turns out it was able to serve either purpose admirably) to await questioning.

Questioned by the Reeve!  And then the werewolf pope himself!  The pope’s reeve came and tried to wrench the player characters’ story from them, but the player characters sensed a hidden agenda and kept their mouths shut.  A secret backdoor entrance to multiple locations in the dungeon could be of immense tactical value.  Eventually Pope Wolfric himself came to try to force the player characters to talk.  Of course, players being players…

THEY LIT THE WEREWOLF POPE ON FIRE!  AND THEN THEY ALL DIED!  Seeing where the situation was headed, and given that it was the last session of the summer, the party decided to go all in, and laid into Pope Wolfric with an alpha strike—bringing every possible weapon, resource and magical spell to bear directly on him, and the room, as possible.  And for first level characters, that means mostly vial after vial of flaming oil.  You heard that right, they doused the werewolf pope and his abbey in like a thousand Molotov cocktails, until he died.  It was a conflagration of apocalyptic proportions.  The death toll was incredible.  Wolfric’s men didn’t stand idly by, either, and as they burned to death in the greasy flames, they took all of the player characters out with them.  All, that is, except one: a kobold, played by Chris, who squeezed through the tiny window and scampered back to the stables, the teleport glyph, and the (relative) safety of Stonehell…

Zombie Assault and an Ancient Evil: The Annals of Stonehell Dungeon – Season 1 – Tenth 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.

August 25, 2016

Zombies!  Barricades!  Death!  If you’ll remember, the party ended the week before shut in the nameless wizard’s inner sanctum with zombies pounding on the door. The player characters quickly threw together a plan: they threw down tables and furniture to make a barricade to fight behind, and tied a rope across the room as an obstacle for the mindless flesh-eating undead.  Everyone got behind the barricade and readied their weapons, and one player character (I don’t even remember his name, but he was played by Jon) threw open the door and ran for the barricade.  Didn’t make it though.  Zombies got ‘im.  As it turned out, he made the perfect distraction for the zombies, as they clustered around him, gobbling him up, the player characters on the other side of the barricade were able to unleash a withering hail of missile fire to soften up the zombies substantially, and then finished the restless dead off with polearms and other reach weapons.

Orcs again!  And lies!  On their way out of the wizards’ chambers, the player characters ran into yet another orc raiding party.  Fortunately, they spoke a common language, so the player characters were able to tell outrageous lies to the orcs, who were in fact looking for the player characters to get revenge, but didn’t realize it.  The player characters said they killed this “other party” and named off the locations of all their own dead comrades as proof of where they’d left the bodies.  The orcs bought it, and the party skedaddled back to Kobold Korners.  On their way, they poked into a few more rooms and found, in a trophy room, a mounted set of manticore spikes.

A Medusa!  Commerce!  And rumor about mysterious gem!  Back in Kobold Korners, the party briefly ran into Lacheisis, a Medusa known throughout Stonehell as an information broker, together with her two hulking ogre bodyguards.  Moving on, the party made their way to the trade warehouse where they sold the manticore spikes for a pittance and learned about a mysterious gem in the crypts directly to the north of Kobold Korners.  Hoping that it might be the fabled 40-lb ruby of Stonehell, the party recruited a kobold guide named Gretsch and set off into the Quiet Halls.

Even more zombies!  And a teleport glyph!  After traversing a strange stone bridge over a river of stagnant filth, the party started poking into sealed crypts, hoping to find, man I don’t really know what they were hoping to find.  But they found hordes of zombies.  Displaying the better part of valor, the player characters fled into a secret door they had found and ran into a glyph carved into the wall in the hopes that it was some kind of teleporter and not some kind of disintegrator.  The bet paid off, but they found themselves far deeper in the dungeon than they had anticipated.

Strange corridors carved with faces!  And ancient evil elves!  The party emerged into some sort of hub, with six little alcoves, each with a glyph like the one the party had just come through.  The ceilings were higher than before and the floors were more like some kind of poured concrete.  But the walls were carved with faces of all kinds of beings, some known, and some unknown.  The party set out to look around, and found itself face to face with a group of some kind of grim, science fiction dark elves, calling themselves the Vrilya.

“We’re gonna have to take the orc.”  The Vrilya demanded tribute, and immediately started picking over the player characters’ equipment lists, taking anything that looked interesting.  Certain they were outclassed, the player characters were prepared to submit to all kinds of indignity, even allowing the Vrilya to take Jon’s orc henchman (the orc was pretty pissed), but then the Vrilya crossed the line, demanding Rotam the Rotten’s bag of saltpeter.  Why this was the line, man, I do not know.  But it was.  The player characters turned on the Vrilya and were all cut down in their tracks in shockingly short order.  And that was that.  The fabled Total Party Kill.

On to the next session!