Friday, February 16, 2018

Idalium Game 83: Fire in the Hole

Session date: October 9, 2017
Game date: Saturday, January 10, 210

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 6, hp 37, xp 35212/70000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16989/20000   
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5819/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 5071/8000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5642/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2604/3000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 405/4000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 707/2500

The Palace of the Goblin King seemed to be a tough nut to crack for the moment, so the adventurers decided to deal first with the pompous Goblin Prince. I think they were annoyed by the attack last session from the Prince's archers. Remembering their success against the orcs in the same location, the party spent 400 gold darics to buy two barrels of oil (about the size of a beer keg each). They also had their cart repaired for another 20 gp. The guards at the Rusty Lantern's trapdoor grumbled as they lowered the heavy barrels and awkward cart down into the dungeon. The adventurers grumbled as they maneuvered them down the stairs of the abandoned shop that acts as the entrance to the ruined city of Ancient Idalium. They then got the barrels loaded onto the cart and proceeded towards the street of temples, to access the shaft they had excavated down to the second level.

In the street of temples, they were confronted by a cold wind that seemed to arise from nowhere, and a chilling terror grasped their hearts. Even the magical light of Simon's sword seemed to wane and flicker. A ghostly form floated out of the darkness, a figure draped in ancient frayed robes and wearing a tarnished coronet on its hooded head. Most of the adventurers found themselves rooted to the spot in fear and could do nothing but watch as the terrifying figure floated towards them. It took a long look at the barrels of oil on their cart, and seemed to shake its head disapprovingly, before floating past them and into the narrow tunnel they had just emerged from. The cold fear released its grasp on their hearts, they found they could move again, and the light from Simon's sword grew steady and bright again.

Unnerved by their second encounter with the Wraith Lord (in the same place, even!), they resumed hauling their cargo into the temple that contained the shaft down to the second level. Caryatid's Wizard Lock spell held the door secure as ever, and everything was as they had left it within. Brother Chase descended the rope ladder first with a lit lantern, in order to guide the barrels down and receive them at the bottom. The barrels were carefully lowered down, and this time there were no mishaps with leaks. The adventurers made ready to attack the goblins, and then wheeled the barrels out into the corridor which led to the apartment complex that the Goblin Prince had taken over.

There were four goblins guarding the entrance, but they barely had time to scream out an alarm before Debbi's Sleep spell rendered them all unconscious. Four more goblins came running up the stairs in reinforcement, two with swords drawn and two with bows. Caryatid began casting her own Sleep spell, but the goblins won initiative and the archers took careful aim at Caryatid while the other two slammed into melee with Gulleck and Simon. One of the archers missed Caryatid entirely, and the other rolled a 1. This led to an interesting result. On a critical miss with ranged weapons, I require a new attack against a random target in the path of fire. This turned out to be Debbi, and a rerolled attack roll hit her and did a full 6 points of damage!

That would have been the end for Debbi, at 0 hit points, but from the start we've used a house rule (borrowed from Michael Curtis and "Beedo", among others) that lets characters heal 1d4-1 hit points after each combat, when they've had a chance to catch their breath, bind wounds, and have a drink of water. This stems from the idea that some portion of hit points represents fatigue, luck, and general "will to fight". Now, this was the first time it's interacted with the "dead at 0 hp" rule, but I thought, sure, why not allow the roll? There's still a chance that she won't heal any damage, and of course, someone could be damaged below -2 hp, making it impossible to heal back to a positive number. I like this new application of the house rule, because I always felt there ought to be some option between alive and well and stone cold dead, but I don't like the way characters pop up and down with no ill effects in newer editions like 4e. This way, there's a chance you might survive a hit that only just "kills" you, but you won't know until the end of combat.

Anyway, Caryatid finished casting her spell and put the second group of four goblins to sleep. Debbi lay on the ground, ostensibly dead, but I allowed the roll, and she got back one hit point! Debbi was alive, but barely so. Just then, three more goblin archers came running up from the other entrance to the goblin lair around the corner. They stopped some distance back from the party and fired arrows, which clattered against stone and armor. The adventurers retreated back to the room from which they had come, pushing the cart before them and dragging Debbi along with them, pulling shut the wizard locked door after them as arrows flew past them.

Brother Chase murmured healing prayers over Debbi's vicious wound and she was miraculously healed completely of her grievous injury. The group caught their breath and then emerged again into the hall with the cart of barrels. The goblins had left, and all that remained were the eight sleeping bodies at the entrance to the stairs that led down into their lair. Gulleck prepared a fuse with a flaming rag, the barrel was unstopped, and Gulleck and Meat carefully moved the barrel to the top of the stairs. Looking down, they saw a half dozen goblins marching up the stairs. The two in front were carrying a stout timber as a battering ram. A smile curled Gulleck's lips and the flaming barrel was shoved down the stairs. Goblins were knocked down like tenpins, and then the barrel exploded at the bottom of the stairs, setting the goblins on fire and splashing flaming oil everywhere.

Angry shouts in the guttural goblin language and the sound of running footsteps came from below, as the adventurers worked quickly to ready the next barrel. While Gulleck worked at the barrel, Simon and Meat were battling goblins at the top of the stairs. Simon the hobbit was fighting like an action movie hero. He kicked a goblin in the chest, sending it tumbling head over heels down the stairs, where it cracked its skull on the stone floor at the bottom. Then he drew an arrow and fired it straight into the neck of another goblin that was trying to ascend the stairs.

Gulleck got a rag stuffed into the barrel and lit, but before she and Meat could roll it down the stairs, two goblins had reached it and began attacking the barrel with their swords, trying to break the cask and prevent it from exploding like a bomb. After being hacked with swords several time, the barrel lost its integrity and split apart. Flaming oil cascaded down the stairs. Gulleck and Simon were splashed with oil and burned, but the goblins, being directly beneath the barrel, were drenched in flaming oil and died screaming.

Before any more goblins could reinforce the stairs, the adventurers moved quickly but carefully down the oil-slicked stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, they could see the courtyard, brightly lit by braziers. At least a dozen more goblins were here, with swords and bows drawn. A large wooden platform had been constructed in the center of the room, and on it sat an ornate wooden throne. The Goblin Prince stood in front of his throne, jumping in apoplectic rage and stomping his feet. Around him on the platform stood several hobgoblins and bugbears.

"Kill them! Kill them all!" roared the Goblin Prince. All of the goblins on the ground of the courtyard ran towards the party.

Then Orin spoke the mystical words of Sleep, and a majority of the goblins fell to the ground. And  Meat drew his shortbow, took careful aim at the Goblin Prince, and fired an arrow. A hit! Gulleck's player chose to roll the Big Green d30 for damage. Twenty-nine points!

Meat's arrow slammed into the Goblin Prince's rotund belly. He looked down at the arrow in shock and confusion and then back up at the adventurers. He shook his fist weakly.

"My dad is going to be so p***ed at you!" And then he fell over, the arrow sticking absurdly upward.

"They have killed the Prince!" shouted one of the hobgoblins. "Avenge him! Destroy them!" The hobgoblins and bugbears all jumped down from the platform to assault the adventurers. Goblins converged on Meat, and goblin archers stationed on the balconies all combined their fire at him. Arrows rained down upon him and clattered off his armor, as he ran back to the stairway for cover.

Then Caryatid drew forth her Wand of Wonder and waved it with a flourish at the main grouping of goblins. And the random result she rolled was Fireball. Rather fittingly, because that had been the very first magic to come from this wand, and this would prove to be its last charge. The wand glowed red hot in Caryatid's hand, and then flung itself out of her grip, arcing and tumbling across the courtyard towards the goblins, and then it exploded with an almighty roar, filling the room with light and heat.

We left it there on a cliffhanger, as it was getting late and we had to break for the night!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Idalium Game 82: Wanted Dead or Alive

Session date: October 2, 2017
Game date: Saturday, January 3, 210

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 6, hp 37, xp 35164/70000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16929/20000   
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5756/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 5011/8000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5612/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2572/3000
Kevon, Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 218/2000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 675/2500

Another half-hearted attempt this session at harassing the Goblin King's palace. But first, it having been about a month between sessions, Caryatid finally took the time and money to do something she'd been threatening me with for quite some time: research a spell to give wings to Marcel, her pet capuchin monkey. We discussed it at length, and given that Polymorph Other, as a 4th level spell, allows the permanent transformation of a creature into anything, I decided it was appropriate to make this very limitd and specific spell 2nd level. And so, Caryatid spent 2,000 gold darics and took four weeks to research this new spell. A new spell needs a fancy name, and she dubbed it "Caryatid's Transferency Wings". I don't really know what "transferency" means, but I guess that just adds to the esoteric mystique. And thus, the ritual was performed, and Marcel, screeching in shock and discomfort, sprouted a large pair of feathery wings from his back. So now we're got a flying monkey and a demon ferret in this game. Great!

Speaking of the demon ferret, Adrien promptly informed me that she was feeding Norman the demon ferret, and also having a tailor make a sinister little Dracula cape for him. Fine, whatever the players want if it gets rid of their gold!

Adrien also spent 1,000 gold darics to fund her 1st level retainer's own spell research, and Debbi was successful in learning the Sleep spell. What a great boss!

Down into the dungeon they went. In the street of temples, they encountered some giant gecko lizards, but Gulleck and Simon made quick work of them using their animal control rings. It's pretty hard to challenge them with animals these days, especially since the animals are usually too dumb to realize why their own kind are attacking them and end up fighting each other. Inside the temple of hedonism, a dozen giant rats assaulted the adventurers. Gulleck and Simon whipped out the animal control rings again. Norman the "fetcher" strained against his leash, and Adrien let him run loose. He hurled himself into the crowd of rats, his frothing jaws snapping shut on a rat's neck, savagely worrying it back and forth and tearing open its lifeless body. The rest of the rats scurried away in terror at this abomination.

Downstairs, after the group passed through the basement of the temple of hedonism, they saw a poster newly pasted to the wall of the corridor. It depicted the adventurers themselves, albeit drawn fairly crudely. Bold text read in Common: "WANTED dead or alive for unlawful and humorless acts against the Goblin King. Reward offered for their capture or execution." Gulleck carefully scraped the poster off the wall, rolled it up, and tucked it in her backpack for a souvenir.

Then they made their way to the western entrance to the Goblin King's palace. Last time there had been bugbears guarding outside of the door, so they wanted to investigate cautiously this time. Gulleck and Caryatid slipped on their invisibility rings, and everything grew murky and muffled to them, except that they could see each other quite clearly. They quietly crept around the bend in the cavern passage that led to the palace gates to see a brazier burning near the palace doors, providing light to the area. They cautiously entered and looked back around them, only to find two bugbears lurking in the shadows at the entrance of the passage, probably waiting to ambush the rest of the party.

Caryatid began casting the Sleep spell, which turned her visible again, but luckily she won initiative and the bugbears succumbed to sleep before they could react to her sudden appearance.

The rest of the party showed up, and as usually happens in situations like this, they dithered and debated over what to do. Were they really going to go into the palace and try to fight and kill the Goblin King? How would they find their way through the confusing Escheresque maze of hallways?

Well, it was not to be. The guards inside the palace must have heard them arguing, because the palace doors were slammed open and three bugbears and three hobgoblins came storming out with swords drawn. Debbi, eager to try out her new Sleep spell, used the Big Green d30 to determine how many hit dice were affected, and of course they all went down in a heap. At this point, the adventurers decided against invading the goblin palace, and Caryatid pulled the double doors shut and cast Wizard Lock on them. And then they left the way they came.

On their way back to the temple of hedonism, they had to pass through the hall that leads to the Goblin Prince's lair, and well illuminated as they were by Simon's glowing sword, it was perhaps no surprise that a volley of arrows came flying down the hallway towards them. One of them tore through Simon's tunic and grazed a part of his arm that wasn't covered in armor. Enraged, the small hobbit decided to charge down the hallway towards the source of the arrows. Three consecutive volleys of arrows flew past him and ricocheted off his armor, and then his sword light fell upon a half dozen grinning goblins with short bows. He wiped the grins off their faces as his sword plunged viciously into the chest of the lead archer. The rest of the party was following close behind, and Caryatid killed another goblin archer with a Magic Missile spell. Brother Chase crushed the skull of yet another with his mace, and the remaining archers fled down the stairs into their lair in terror.

There was no time left to take the fight to the Goblin Prince, but it was getting pretty clear that the goblins were going to be a source of mutual annoyance. Something would have to be done!

But for now it was back to the Rusty Lantern with no treasure, and just a handful of experience points (60 per PC) for the various monsters they fought. Some delves are more successful than others!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Idalium Game 81: Adventurers Calling

Session date: Monday, August 28, 2017
Game date: Saturday, November 29, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 6, hp 37, xp 35132/70000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16889/20000   
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5714/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 4971/8000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5592/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2551/3000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 385/4000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 654/2500

Somewhat embarrassed by their utter failure last session to actually bring the fight to the Goblin King, the players decided to make another, more proactive attempt to assault the goblin palace. If nothing else, they figured they could whittle them down by attrition. Adrien's player immediately told me that she fed Norman, as she was convinced I had something devilish in mind for the moment she forgets. (She's probably right!)

As they were gearing up to enter the dungeon, a random dice roll revealed that Rugger's Raiders were ahead of them, putting their helmets on and preparing to descend as well. Gulleck pleaded with Rugger not to aid the goblins in their horrible schemes, and basically not to be a completely amoral mercenary, but Rugger told her to mind her own business. Caryatid tried to reason with the one member of Rugger's party that didn't seem like a horrible person, a pale and sickly waif of an elf named Moonpetal. But Moonpetal seemed to completely smitten with the magic-user Silvana, and wouldn't hear a word against her.

"Oh no, Miss Silvana would never do anything wrong! If she says it's the right thing to do then that's enough for me! She's my very best friend in all the world!"

Rugger and his gang went below, laughing nastily, and the Infestation Managers got geared up and followed soon after. They made their way down to the second level, and eventually to the gates of the goblin palace. This time two tall lanky bugbears were stationed outside the double doors, rather than in the guardroom on the other side of the doors. This was a little unexpected, and the players wondered how the goblins were able to dispel Caryatid's wizard lock. The bugbears seemed like they weren't in the mood for any nonsense, so the party retreated, and decided to go around to the northern entrance to the palace and try their luck there. This involved crossing a flimsy rope bridge over a chasm. Gulleck, flush with a new personality, decided to forgo the cautious approach of her previous self, and simply loop a short piece of rope around her belt and one of the ropes of the bridge and then run across. And she didn't even fall, though the bridge swayed alarmingly. The rest of the party went over more cautiously, although Simon used his levitation boots to float and then simply pulled himself across with the ropes.

Farther along the caverns on the other side of the bridge, the party came to a strange cave that glowed with a surreal blue phosphorescence. There was a musky animal smell here. Caryatid decided to investigate by slipping on her invisibility ring and she moved cautiously into the cave. She moved past stalagmites and over uneven humps on the cave floor, and then she spotted half a dozen rock baboons, large and savage beasts gnawing on bones that looked unsettlingly humanoid. She decided to try to handle them herself, and cast the Sleep spell, but unfortunately only two collapsed in slumber. The others looked around angrily, and Caryatid, now visible, ran screaming back towards the rest of the party, pursued by the remaining four baboons. Luckily, Orin began to cast his Sleep spell when he heard Caryatid's screams and managed to put the rest of the baboons to sleep as they arrived. Gulleck put her axe to swift use on the slumbering baboons (this part of her personality had not changed), and then the party moved on to find the entrance to the goblin palace.

This entrance was guarded by two bugbears as well. The bugbears were suspicious and not in the mood for bantering with the adventurers, nor were they willing to let the party into the palace. Eventually, Caryatid tried to cast her other sleep spell on the bugbears, but lost the initiative roll and then lost the Sleep spell as one of the bugbears roughly cuffed her in the face, knocking her back several steps. Gulleck said, "Fine, so that's how you want it?" and hit the other bugbear with her axe. Her player chose to roll the Big Green d30 for damage, but ended up rolling a 3! Simon tried to attack as well, but the bugbear grabbed him around the throat and lifted him right off his feet into the air.

Caryatid recovered her composure and fired a Magic Missile spell at the bugbear fighting with Gulleck, and Debbi threw a dagger in an attempt to be helpful, and the bugbear eventually fell under this barrage. Simon, meanwhile, took his free hand and jabbed his thumb hard into one of the bugbear's baleful yellow eyes and gouged. The bugbear howled in pain, failed a morale check, dropped Simon roughly to the ground and stumbled through the doors into the goblin palace, one hand clapped over his eye.

Caryatid spitefully cast Wizard Lock on these doors as well, and the adventurers called it a day and returned to the Rusty Lantern. This assault on the palace of the Goblin King continues to be a bit wishy-washy.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Idalium Game 80: "That Was Your Whole Plan, Huh?"

Session date: Monday, August 14, 2017
Game date: Saturday, November 15, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 6, hp 37, xp 35126/70000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16881/20000   
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5706/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 4963/8000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5588/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2547/3000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 381/4000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 650/2500

So our intrepid adventurers gathered together and pooled all their money to see if they could afford to get Gulleck's "condition" reversed, as she seemed to be permanently stuck at the height of six inches. Her stalwart henchman Meat had to carry her around in a shoebox! They ended up going to the Great Cathedral to plead their case with Father Merrimoon, who happily informed them that for a low, low donation of 7,500 silver shekels, Gulleck could be cured of this curse.

"Isn't there a discount rate or something?" grumbled Caryatid.

"That is the discount rate," replied Father Merrimoon. "The Church has not forgotten the great service you provided to us in retrieving the Holy Lantern, and we have committed to making our services available to you at half the usual suggested donation."

They grumbled about it some more, but paid up, and Father Merrimoon led Meat with Gulleck in the shoebox into a small, peaceful room with a curtained cot. Meat placed the box on the cot, and he and Father Merrimoon left the room, the latter telling Gulleck to wait quietly and that Elder Engelbert would be with him shortly. Gulleck waited nervously, looking up at the ceiling visible from the open top of the box. Soon, the door opened, and a very elderly priest loomed into Gulleck's view. His hair was white and bushy, and his eyes were screwed up myopically. He peered down into the box at Gulleck.

"My my my, what's happened to you, young lady?"

"Just a bit of bad luck," chirped Gulleck.

"I imagine so! Well, we'll have you right-wise in no time. Just try to relax and let's get started."

Elder Engelbert dabbed ointments on Gulleck with an enormous (relatively so) brush, and sprinkled her with holy water, which pelted down and chilled her to the bone. Then he began murmuring prayers over her, the intensity rising and falling. At times he grew so quiet Gulleck was worried he had nodded off, but then his quavering voice would boom out, jolting her.

And then rather abruptly he finished.

"There you are. I'll ask your friends to come in and retrieve you. May the all-pervading light be with you, daughter."

Gulleck didn't feel any bigger, but over the next few hours she grew as steadily as she had shrunk and by the end of the day she was back to her full height and all was well again in the party, albeit they were all a bit lighter in the pockets.

Two weeks later the party regrouped at the Rusty Lantern. They were in the mood to harass the goblins some more, and the proposal was made to go to the palace of the Goblin King and lock them in with Caryatid's Wizard Lock spell. What a gas that would be! I don't know, I try to remind them that the aim of the game is to find treasure, but sometimes these players are more interested in just narking off the bad guys and laughing about it afterwards.

So down into the dungeon they went, heading for the stairs down to the second level in the Temple of Hedonism, which turned out to be very busy: there was a full-fledged orgy going on in the basement! (The "2% orgy room" lived up to its name as I rolled within that 2% for the second time in the campaign.) The adventurers knocked and were invited in, but said they were simply passing through, and walked carefully through the room, averting their eyes and dodging furniture and sweaty bodies as they made their way to the north door.

Once past the temple, the party moved quickly into the caves to the east and eventually came to the grand double doors that were the entrance to the Goblin King's palace. Barely suppressing her glee, Caryatid spoke the words of Wizard Lock and sealed the palace doors shut. None would be able to open them except her. Then they huddled and conferred in hushed tones about what to do next, and it seemed that a plan formed to enter the palace and take down the Goblin King. After what he had done to the urchins (Gulleck still felt guilty that they had never rescued the missing urchins from the goblins), it was clear that whatever peace they had once had with the goblins was at an end. The Goblin King would die today!

So they went in through the big doors, and four tall lanky bugbears goggled down at them, standing guard before the interior door.

"What business do you have with His Royal Majesty, the King of Goblins?"

"Uh... we'd like an audience with him."

"And who are you?"

"We're called Rugger's Raiders!" announced Gulleck, cleverly implicating the rival adventuring party, if things went south.

Then the bugbears checked a big guestbook near the doors and turned back to the group.

"His Majesty is expecting you. Please leave all of your weapons here. They will be returned to you on your departure."

Well, this was somewhat unexpected. The party members whispered urgently to each other, and somehow decided to leave their weapons with the bugbears. So much for the big plan!

"Walk this way," hooted one of the bugbears, and led the party into the interior of the Goblin Palace. It was as confusing as the last time they had been here. Corridors led past strange furniture at intervals: a giant stuffed bird, a tall glass tank full of strange and unusual fish, a mahogany writing desk. The bugbears took them on a bizarre circuitous route, and the party had no hope of even remembering the twists and turns, let alone mapping it. Finally, they arrived at an ornate pair of doors. One of the bugbears opened the doors, stepped inside, and announced, "Rugger's Raiders, to seek an audience with His Majesty the Goblin King!"

The party was ushered into a large throne room. Hobgoblins and goblins clustered near a rococo throne, upon which sat the Goblin King himself, clad in a bejeweled doublet, tight leather breeches, fishnet hose, and high leather boots. The party was brought forward to stand before the King.

"Well, well, well! Rugger's Raiders! How fare you all? It's good to see you again, 'Rugger'." He winked at Gulleck. "You've changed a bit since the last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, though. I like it, it's a good look for you."

It was all very awkward. Obviously, they hadn't quite thought this through. The Goblin King seemed more amused by their attempted deception than anything, though.

"My son is quite annoyed with you, I must say. He says you were very rude to him, and then you led his people to the house of that green witch, who fireballed them to death. Although frankly, I find that quite a lark! But don't tell my son I said so." Another wink.

"You know, it's a shame you're not Rugger and his group. I was hoping to see him and hear his response to my proposal."

"Er... what proposal?" asked Gulleck.

"Oh, I'd be happy to make the same proposal to you. My heart goes out to those poor, lost children living on their own in the dungeon. It must be so difficult for them. I was hoping Rugger's group would help bring the children to me, so I can provide them with a home here, and feed them well. It just breaks my heart seeing children scrounging in the dungeon for scraps."

Everyone's face went pale. They knew what intentions the goblins had for the children. But without weapons, what could they do?

"Um... do you have a bathroom here?" asked Caryatid nervously. She was hoping to take the opportunity to explore the palace a little, to gain information for a future assault.

"As a matter a fact we do," replied the Goblin King. "Do you need to use it? I can have one of my subjects escort you."

And so Gulleck, Caryatid, Adrien, and Debbi went off to use the ladies' room, escorted by a bugbear, who led them out of the throne room and around the corner to a nondescript door.

"Here is the latrine. I will wait here for you," hooted the bugbear solemnly.

The latrine was a fairly large room. A few steps led up to a raised wooden platform, on which there was a bench with holes cut in it. The platform was open on one side and a small wheelbarrow sat next to it, caked in dried filth. A terrible sinking feeling began to grow in the adventurers' stomachs.

"Are you done yet?" came the eerie hooting voice of the bugbear from the other side of the door.

"Uh, not quite. Just a minute!" called Adrien.

There was another small door on the other side of the room, and they walked over and opened it. On the other side, they saw a large room that contained an underground garden. Beautiful fruit trees and bushes grew here in crooked rows. Even in the absence of sunlight, gorgeous peaches and apples hung from the branches. Several goblins were gardening here. One was pruning branches, and another was shoveling... something out of another wheelbarrow onto the garden beds.

"Oh no..." murmured Gulleck. "Oh no no no no..."

"Hey!" snapped one of the goblins, looking up from his gardening work. "You're not supposed to be in here!"

"Sorry," Caryatid said, "We just took a wrong turn!"

They went back into the latrine, and then back out into the hall.

"You took a very long time," scolded the bugbear, and led them back to the throne room, where the rest of their party had been making awkward and nervous small talk with the Goblin King.

"Ah, the lovely ladies are back!" cried the King. "How was your journey to the restroom? Was it everything you expected?"

"Everything and more," said Gulleck through a forced grin. "Well, I think we should be off, it was very nice visiting with you..."

"Oh, but you're forgetting something," smiled the Goblin King. "Surely you came to pay tribute to me. No one enters my palace without bringing me tribute."

"Well, we'd love to, but we really don't have any valuables to offer..." began Caryatid, but the Goblin King cut her off.

"That belt you are wearing," he snapped. "That would do nicely. Yes, I should like that belt very much." The twinkle had gone from his eyes now, and his lips were thin.

The jeweled belt Caryatid wore over her robes was a keepsake from one of the first treasures the group had won.

"Oh, this old thing? Oh no, you wouldn't want this... I think maybe we could..."

The Goblin King made a quick shake of his head, and with astonishing speed two bugbears swept up behind the adventurers. Caryatid was locked in a chokehold and Simon was lifted high into the air by a bugbear's tight grip on his neck. The others looked back and forth in panic, but they were outnumbered and unarmed.

"Fine, take it," gasped Caryatid, and the bugbear loosened his grasp on her neck. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, I was just momentarily taken aback that you would want this trinket." She removed the belt and grudgingly handed it over to the Goblin King.

The smile returned to the face of the Goblin King.

"No hard feelings! Go in peace, and consider my offer. I do so wish to give those children a good home."

The group were led back out through the twisty maze of passages, eventually passing the stuffed bird again.

Simon thought he was on to something. "So it's something to do with the bird, guys!"

"Would you like to make an appointment for a return visit?" asked the bugbear at the entrance. Caryatid scribbled in an appointment for "Any Saturday" for "Debbi and Company".

They left, and the wizard locked doors closed behind them. Just as they were leaving, who should they see coming out of the cave passage but Rugger the dwarf and his Raiders! (Actual random encounter roll!)

"What are you doing here?" accused Gulleck.

"How's it your business? We're here to discuss a business proposal with the Goblin King, that's all."

"About the urchins?" exclaimed Gulleck, shocked. "Don't you know, they turn the kids into goblins?!"

"Uh, I dunno anything about that. I'm just trying to find a profitable gig where I can. He said he'd pay us to escort the kids here, and that's all we're doin'. We ain't responsible beyond that. Now get outta our way, we've got an appointment."

Gulleck and his friends stared aghast as Rugger tried the big doors and found them immovable.

"Hey, open up! It's Rugger's Raiders! We have an appointment!"

"Go away!" hooted a bugbear. "You've already had your audience. Now leave!"

"What're you talking about, ya big galoot? We just got here! Now open up!"

The door shuddered but did not open, and then the bugbear cried, "What have you done to this door? Stop your nonsense at once!"

The adventurers decided this was an excellent time to leave.

When they returned to the Temple of Hedonism they found that most of the hedonists had cleared out. A handful remained, lounging on the beds drinking wine and smoking pipeweed.

"Hey folks, you missed out on one great party. You should join us next time. At least, some of you anyway," said a hedonist with a wink at Brother Chase.

"Is there a regular schedule?"

"Not really, you gotta be part of the club. You should come see Leo at the Stuffed Duck and ask about getting initiated."

Feeling more awkward than ever, the adventurers said their goodbyes and made a hasty escape to the surface realm.

Idalium Game 79: Not Fade Away

Session date: Monday, July 31, 2017
Game date: Saturday, November 1, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 6, hp 37, xp 35000/70000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16723/20000  
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5546/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 4805/8000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5571/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2529/3000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 364/4000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 632/2500

Well, a fair bit had changed for the Infestation Managers in our last session. Gulleck was back alive and still a dwarf, but now a woman. She was feeble and clumsy compared to her former self, but sturdier, wise, and always charming. Adrien now had a giant pet ferret, mangy and hopping with fleas and foaming at the mouth. She named him Norman and bought a custom leather harness to attach the leash to. Before I could even remind her, she informed me that she was "feeding" Norman (cutting her palm and letting him lap up her blood). Looks like Adrien will have a perpetually bandaged hand from now on.

The goose that they had retrieved from Green Caryatid's apartment and was now living at the surviving Caryatid's apartment (for fear of Norman getting too interested) laid an large egg of pure gold! They sold this to one of the discreet jewelers in the neighborhood around the Rusty Lantern tavern and received 500 gold darics for it. These coins (and the associated experience points) were split evenly among the four PCs, rather than including the retainers in the share.

At the Rusty Lantern, the animated wooden face hacked out of a door and hung above the bar greeted Gulleck with confusion and amazement at the change. It was difficult for him to wrap his head around this new Gulleck (you see what I did there?). They descended into the cellar and got themselves suited up to venture into the dungeon. In the downtime between sessions, Gulleck had commissioned an armorer to make some adjustments to her plate armor for a better fit. Her battle axe still thrummed with the same magical power as ever, but alas, it only enhanced her fighting prowess to the level of an ordinary, mediocre fighter.

Down the excavated shaft to the second level they went, and then to the Temple of Fate for a spin on the Wheel of Fortune. Adrien was enthusiastic about the idea of hazing her own new "henchman", and Norman was reluctantly strapped to the great wheel using bits of rope to lengthen the straps. It wasn't entirely clear what blessing or curse the wheel bestowed upon him, although he did do a surprisingly nimble backflip when released from his bonds.

Then Gulleck decided that she might as well try out the wheel, since it was technically her first time in the dungeon. Round and round she spun, everything a blur except for the dispassionate gaze of the solemn goddess of Fate painted on the ceiling. The wheel spun down to a stop, and Gulleck was helped off the wheel, feeling oddly disoriented but unsure yet what effect it had had on her.

They all decided to head to the Goblin Market. I'm not sure why, because they knew it was nowhere near the full moon, when the market convenes. I think they just wanted to prank the goblins by messing around with the grandfather clock that marks time at the end of the market hall. As they made their way there, Gulleck began to feel very odd, and the others noted that she seemed to be about a foot shorter than they remembered! They passed through an old kitchen area with many cupboards and drawers. Simon used his ability to smell gold (acquired from the wheel of fortune some time ago) to sniff out a cast iron cauldron that had several sacks of gold and silver coins stuffed inside it. The cauldron itself had the words "Dinner is Served" written across it in Ancient Idalian, and when this was spoken aloud, from the bottom of the empty cauldron a thick, steaming hot gruel bubbled up. It looked quite disgusting and smelled bland, but Gulleck, nervous about her diminishing stature, decided to try a taste in hopes of curing whatever it was that afflicted her. She found that it completely satiated her hunger, but was so tasteless and disgusting of texture that she was cranky for the rest of the day.

They explored some areas of the caves that hadn't been mapped yet, and encountered a group of goblins that let them pass without trouble, and a half dozen angry rock baboons, from whom they beat a hasty retreat. By this point Gulleck had slowly shrunk down to about two feet tall, and had to be carried by Meat in order to keep up with the party. Eventually, they arrived at the Goblin Market. All was empty and still, apart from the loud ticking of the grandfather clock by the far wall. Caryatid, a wicked smirk twisting her lips, drew forth her wand of random magic and pointed it at the clock. A horrible green gas boiled forth from the tip of the wand and engulfed the far end of the market hall in a hazy cloud. Even from where they stood at the other end of the room, they could smell the horrible, nauseating stink of the gas.

"Ha! That'll go over well at the market!" Caryatid crowed, hoping the stinking cloud of gas would remain there permanently. (I had to go back to the original AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide to see what it says about the duration of a Stinking Cloud from the Wand of Wonder, and in the end ruled that it had the same duration as the spell, cast by a high-level magic-user. Alas, by the time the Goblin Market reconvened, the cloud would have dissipated.)

Pleased with their prank against the goblins, the adventures returned to the surface. By the time they got home, Gulleck appeared to have stabilized at all of six inches tall. She was relieved that she was not going to fade away entirely, but it looked like they would have to spend at least part of the next session figuring out how to restore her to normal!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Idalium Game 78: "Oh, Brilliant!"

Session date: Monday, July 10, 2017
Game date: Sunday, October 12, 209

PCs:
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16543/20000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5391/8000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5357/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 4625/8000

Retainers:
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2434/3000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 274/4000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 537/2500

It had been a month in real time since our last gaming session, and in our last exciting episode, Gulleck had touched a magical statue, mistakenly assuming that the warning against touching it twice only applied to touched from the same person, and was struck dead. I relaxed our usual rule of having as much time between sessions pass in the campaign world as in real time, and we picked up where we left off, the very next day in the campaign world.

Gulleck's body had been stealthily moved by wheelbarrow to his apartment and stiffly laid in his bed. The players discussed their options. There was the possibility of going to the Great Cathedral and having him raised from the dead again, but 1) it wasn't clear that they could afford it, and 2) it had been such a rigmarole last time having to go on a quest across the wilderness for the Church. As far as anyone knew, only the Great Church had clerics powerful enough to raise someone from death, so none of the lesser chapels and obscure cults dotted throughout the city would be able to help. There was always the option of rolling up a new PC, or converting Meat to a PC, but Gulleck's player did like his character and preferred to keep playing as Gulleck if possible.

So, the players remembered that deep in the caverns to the east of the second dungeon level there was an eternal flame that, by heating the peculiar stone of the cave it burned within, produced a magical elixir of life. Roughly a year ago, the adventurers had retrieved a sample of this elixir for the dying Lord Dinsdale, and when he sipped it he was transformed, rejuvenated into a completely new man. And so, they made preparations to return to the caverns in search of this elixir for Gulleck (hoping it would work on a dead man just as well as a dying one). Gulleck's player made Meat his temporary PC for the day (and so Meat received full experience at the end rather than the usual half).

They descended into the ruins of Ancient Idalium and then stood in the town square not far from the entrance, puzzling over the scrawled annotations on their maps. "Floam? Potty? I can't read any of this!" Eventually they pieced their many fragmented pages together and made their way down to the second level. They encountered a quartet of venomous cobras on the way, but their animal control rings made swift work of them. The goblin guards outside the Goblin Prince's lair were hostile and aggressive and would not let the adventurers pass, so rather than risking a fight with the entire retinue of the Goblin Prince, the party took a longer way to the caverns.

While in the caves, they decided to explore a few areas that their maps indicated they had not previously investigated. A narrow cave tunnel led to a round chamber where strange pinpoints of light sparkled on the ceiling like stars. Simon thought he could see what looked like human bodies on the ceiling just at the edge of the light from his sword, though how they stayed up there was a mystery. The adventurers cautiously stepped into the chamber for a better look. Suddenly, the stars started to spiral and swirl disorientingly and everyone's stomach flipped as something very odd happened. Everyone felt a strange tugging from above, almost as if the ceiling was in fact the ground. Those in metal armor felt their shoulders pressing into their armor, but it seemed that the weight of the armor was sufficient to keep them anchored to the ground. But Debbi and Caryatid found themselves floating off the ground, slowly at first but with increasing acceleration.

Meat lunged out and grabbed Debbi around the waist, holding her back from the force that was lifting her away. Orin tried to grab Caryatid but fumbled a dexterity check, and Caryatid sailed upwards, smashing into the ceiling some thirty feet above in a very uncomfortable way. She found that the force that had pulled her to the ceiling was much stronger here, and it was all she could do to inch herself along the ceiling, while she hung thirty feet above the ground and her companions below. She struggled to pull herself over to the nearby bodies. They were in poor shape and mostly skeletal, but they had clearly been adventurers. One wore a still intact suit of leather armor and the two others wore ragged remnants of wizards' robes. They all wore tattered and rotten backpacks and Caryatid used her dagger to cut the backpacks free of the bodies while down below Simon and Orin tried to work out a way to get Caryatid off the ceiling, while Meat and Adrien held Debbi in place.

While they were dealing with this situation, I rolled a random encounter, and eight giant centipedes swarmed into the room. Well, it seemed only logical that the next that happened was the eight centipedes flying up to the ceiling and going splat! A bit of comic relief.

Simon discovered that a coil of rope thrown into the air was lofted up towards the ceiling, and so he moved further into the chamber to send the rope up to Caryatid. She awkwardly looped it through the backpacks and tied it around her waist and Simon and Orin pulled hard against the magical force and eventually hauled Caryatid back to terra firma. They quickly retreated from the chamber and their queasy stomachs immediately returned to normal. The backpacks turned out to contain mostly mundane adventuring gear, but also a bit of treasure: some gold, a jeweled belt, a crystal vial containing a sparkling potion, and a very well made silken rope, thinner and more supple than an ordinary hemp rope. All this was packed away and they proceeded through the caves.

As they passed through the caverns, they saw flickering lights and heard a rumbling hubbub that told them the Goblin Market was in session! Caryatid expressed her opinion that the Goblin Market was all just worthless junk, but Adrien had never seen it and was interested in it, so they grudgingly left their weapons with the hulking bugbear guards and entered the brightly lit hall, with its crooked checkerboard tiles and oddly angled columns. The market was lively, full of all sorts of dungeon residents. Mixed among the goblins and hobgoblins both buying and selling they noted two of the dungeon urchins, some scruffy men who looked like bandits, a gaggle of fresh-faced acolytes from the Temple of Hedonism, several gnomes and their horrible counterparts the knockers, and most alarmingly, the bent and withered form of the Queen of Nightmares, who perused the wares with a cruel thin-lipped sneer while her bugbear slaves stood motionless next to her sedan chair.

The adventurers walked from table to table as goblins loudly offered weapons, equipment, and food of all sorts. They finally came to the table where a smirking hobgoblin was selling all sorts of special items: relics of forgotten saints and/or heretics; a collection of fairy wings, pinned to cards and labeled; fried elf ears; an assortment of tools of completely inscrutable purpose; etc. Then, in a fenced enclosure next to the table, Adrien found something she liked: a mangy, flea-infested, malodorous giant ferret. The hobgoblin called it a "fetcher" and said it was specially trained in catching small animals like rats and fetching small items. It seemed to perhaps be slightly demonic, as its eyes were filled with reckless violence and foam frothed continually at its mouth. But Adrien was quite taken with it and wanted to buy it. The hobgoblin told her that it would only serve one master at a time, and needed to be bonded to its owner.

"What do you mean, bonded?" asked Adrien.

"Give me your hand," smiled the hobgoblin. She did so and before she could react he had slashed her palm with a small concealed knife. He roughly pulled her hand down in front of the horrible ferret, and it greedily shoved its frothing mouth into her palm, lapping hungrily at the blood welling up from the wound. Everyone in the party went pale and aghast, except Adrien who chirped, "I'm okay with it!"

"It must be fed in this way at least weekly, in order to maintain the bond between it and its mistress," instructed the hobgoblin with a sinister smile. He gave her a nasty leather leash that buckled to a collar around the beast's neck.

And with their dreadful new "pet" in tow, the party retrieved their weapons and left the Goblin Market, heading towards the cave that held the eternal flame. They passed a group of goblins who took one look at the ferret and nearly collapsed with laughter. "She bought a fetcher! She bought a fetcher!" They continued on through the caves, and found the steep climb that led to the flame. Simon clambered up the wall with some help from Meat, and then stooped to get through a very low crawl that emerged into a weirdly glistening grotto. Bits of reflective minerals sparkled in the light of the eternal flame, which flickered in a niche in the wall at the rear of the cave. Behind the flame, the sticky elixir wept from the stone of the niche and collected in a small hollow below it. Simon scooped as much of the honey-like elixir as he could into a flask, and then returned to the others.

They retraced their steps, and stopped briefly in the Goblin Market so Orin could buy a crossbow. It looked really rickety and liable to break, but it was cheap! The market was considerably less busy now, but a new seller was set up at a table: a woman dressed in black robes and a black mourning veil of dense lace that completely obscured her features. Before her on the table she had many flasks and vials and she offered them potions of all sorts for sale. Everything was much too expensive for their tastes, however, so they left her without buying anything, and made their way back out of the dungeon to the surface.

Later that day, the adventures regrouped at Gulleck's apartment, where his body lay in peaceful repose.

"Okay, cross your fingers," said Caryatid. "Here goes nothing!"

They slowly poured the syrupy elixir into Gulleck's pale parted lips. At first nothing happened, and then everyone shielded their eyes at a bright light that seemed to burst forth from Gulleck's body. A roaring sound like a waterfall filled everyone's ears and grew in intensity until it became painful. The light burned brighter and brighter, and Gulleck's calm features seemed to dissolve into it. And then the light and sound reached a crescendo and suddenly were gone. And where Gulleck had laid on his bed was someone else entirely...

I treat the elixir of life as a Reincarnation spell, except that it physically regenerates the body into a completely new person, with a potentially radically altered personality. I used the table of classes from the Expert rulebook to determine the PC's new class (or even a monster!), and created my own tables for determining new physical characteristics. So, I let Gulleck's player roll to determine his new character. He rolled for his new class, and... a dwarf! A dwarf with black hair, swarthy skin, middle-aged, and... a lady dwarf!

Now normally the Reincarnation spell doesn't allow you to exceed your previous level, but since this was not a spell but a magical elixir not quite as readily available as a spell, I allowed Gulleck's player to roll 1d6 for his character's new level, and he rolled a 6! So Gulleck now has 37 hit points, and we rerolled all the ability scores as well. Strength of 5, Dexterity of 6. Not a very effective dwarf! The +2 bonus from the magical axe is now negated by the -2 strength penalty. Gulleck will now receive a -20% penalty to experience points, but it's not like she's going to make it to 7th level anytime in the near future! Other stats were Intelligence 7, Wisdom 13, Constitution 13, and Charisma 15. Quite a character of extremes!

Wide eyes surrounded the unfamiliar dwarf lying on the bed, who gazed around as if seeing the room for the first time.

"Well, hiya, folks!" she said, in an unfamiliar accent.

So explanations were exchanged, and Caryatid tried out some new names for her old friend.

"Gulleckina?"

"Gulleck will do fine, darlin'."

"Gulleckessa?"

"Nope, just Gulleck, sugar."

Just another day in Idalium!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Idalium Game 77: I Don't Live Today

Session date: Monday, June 12, 2017
Game date: Saturday, October 11, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 14552/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 16345/20000   
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 3, hp 11, xp 5149/8000
Adrien, Fighter 3, hp 9, xp 4427/8000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 5193/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 2, hp 11, xp 2330/3000
Orin, Elf 1, hp 4, xp 175/4000
Debbi, Magic-user 1, hp 6, xp 433/2500

Well, after an abortive attempt last session to finish up exploring the previously bee-infested apartment complex, we regrouped a few weeks later to take enough stab at it. The adventurers made their way down to the second level of the dungeon and this time successfully entered the courtyard of the apartment complex. The giant beehive still hung from the ceiling of the courtyard as it had done a month ago, and the ground below it was littered with the dessicated husks of giant bees, some looking quite the worse for the wear.

Ignoring the hive for the moment, the group climbed the stairs to the balcony that surrounded the courtyard and resumed their exploration of the apartments that led off of it. They came to a couple of doors that were suspiciously ajar. Peering into one, within the dimness of the apartment they saw what looked like another giant bee! It came buzzing at them, but Gulleck deftly slipped on his animal control ring and made it repeatedly sting the door. On closer inspection, however, it turned out not to be a giant bee, but some sort of giant fly with striped markings that resembled a bee. Of course, this meant Gulleck was making it pound its abdomen pointlessly into the door, but that was as effective a way of killing it as any.

While this was happening, though, three more of the enormous flies came leaping from an adjacent apartment door. Meat was savagely bit by the filthy mandibles of one fly for 7 points of damage! Gulleck and Simon made effective use of the animal control rings to do their usual trick of letting the animals battle it out amongst themselves. The flies were quickly dispatched, and Brother Chase laid his hands on Meat's wound and murmured words of prayer, and Meat was happily cured of all the damage he had taken.

The adventurers carefully looked into the room the flies had come out of. They could see two bodies on the floor that appeared to be the remains of two unlucky adventurers. One corpse wore plate armor, the other torn and rotten leather armor, and each wore a backpack. One of the packs had split open and the glint of gold coins spilling out could be seen. Gulleck cautiously investigated the gruesome scene, and reached for the backpack. Suddenly, the corpse heaved and shuddered, and from beneath the decomposing flesh erupted four enormous maggots, each about a foot long. Gulleck stepped back in shock, but the maggots hissed and then reared back and sprang into the air towards him! Gulleck was bit in the arm by one of the filthy things, which caused him far more disgust and repulsion than actual damage.

"Aaaagh, this is disgusting! Get it off me! Get it off!"

The maggots were swiftly swatted down and killed by sword and boot, and then just for fun, I guess, Simon used his magical ring to take control of one of them.

"I make it sing and dance." Yes, just like the "Hello Ma Baby" frog, or more apropos in this case, the alien from Spaceballs.

"No..." groaned Gulleck's player. "This is so wrong. I want the stretchy things back!" Apparently, we had outdone ourselves in the disturbing imagery contest.

In the backpack, they found 86 gold pieces, and three gems worth about 1,200 gp together, so this was a nice little jackpot to make up for all the disgusting creatures. Leaving this room, the group explored further along the balcony, and found an apartment room empty apart from a bizarre stone statue. It was about six feet tall, and was a strange winged dog- or perhaps lion-like creature with insane googly eyes. On the wall next to it, there was chalk writing in what looked like a child's handwriting: "Don't touch this twice!"

Caryatid got the idea to leave her own note for some reason, and dug in her pack for chalk and then wrote "Orcs rule, goblins drool!" The adventurers debated whether to touch the statue. Some argued that the note implied that it was safe to touch once, but nobody really wanted to volunteer to be the test subject. "Where's that spare finger?" quipped Simon, making a reference to the skeletal finger that the group once acquired in order to unlock a door that would only open to the touch of the dead. This was actually before Simon's player's time with the campaign, which strikes me as hilarious that the finger bone has become such a recurring in-joke among the players. Finally, Simon's retainer Orin was impressed upon to touch the status. He did so and their was a sudden flash of light and he reported that he felt much stronger and better skilled at combat.

Back in the courtyard, the players debated how to get the hive down. They had heard a rumor (perhaps it was from Professor Zinn the sage) that the honey of giant bees possessed healing powers. They discussed plans to get the hive down for quite some time, and eventually settled on the idea of hacking the hive away from the ceiling. Which meant someone had to get up there first. Simon was the smallest and lightest, so he tied the end of a rope to an axe and threw the axe at the hive. It embedded itself in the wax of the hive, but when Simon swung from the balcony and put his weight on the rope, intending to climb up to the hive, the axe pulled out and Simon tumbled to the stone floor below, bruised and aching.

At this point Caryatid asked, "Hey, don't you have flying boots?" Hands slapped foreheads as the players remembered that Simon was indeed wearing a pair of levitating boots that they had found a few sessions earlier. He concentrated on using the power of the boots, and they lifted him into the air with ease. He floated to the ceiling and pushed himself along it to get to where the hive was attached to the ceiling with wax. Then he hacked away at the wax, and after ten minutes or so he weakened it enough that the entire hive crashed to the floor some 12' below, smashing apart into large chunks of honeycomb. The adventurers quickly busies themselves squeezing the honey from the comb into various empty flasks, and managed to collect a couple of pints before they reached a point of diminishing returns and left off.

Tired and sticky and smelling of dungeon honey (no one is quite sure where these bees found flowers, so it's unclear what dungeon honey would smell like), the adventurers decided to pay a visit to the urchins to check on their welfare and ask about the warning on the statue. They opened the now familiar secret door that led to the secret back passages of the dungeon, and knocked on the door of the urchins' hideout. They were warmly greeted by the entire gang, which was reunited now that Green Caryatid's enchantment had evaporated from the faction of urchins that had sided with her. The urchins did tell them that some of their number claimed to have once seen Caryatid's hulking bodyguard, "Mister Beefcake", walking through the dungeon corridors several weeks ago. The strangest thing was that he was accompanied by a number of walking skeletons that seemed to be following him. The party didn't quite know what to make of this information. The giant patchwork man had seemed quite dead when they last left him (though it was true that his body had disappeared the next time they returned to that place).

The adventurers asked about the mysterious statue in the apartment.

"Oh yeah," said one of the urchins, "Be careful with that. Jamie touched it twice. The first time he felt super strong and lucky, and so he touched it again to see what else would happen."

"What did happen?" asked Caryatid.

"He went blind!"

"Permanently?"

"No, it only lasted a few days. But be careful! Bad stuff can happen. Jamie got greedy."

So, the adventurers took their leave of the urchins, and they probably should have just gone home at this point. But Gulleck was curious.

"The kid touched it twice in a row. So it's probably fine if someone else touches it."

So Gulleck led them back to the apartment courtyard, up the stairs onto the balcony, and into the apartment where the strange lion dog statue lurked in the back of the room. He strode up to it, looked it in the eyes, and reached out a finger.

"Poke!"

"Roll a d6," I said. "Oh. Oh... Give me a save vs spells, please."

Now Gulleck was a level 4 dwarf and has the best saving throws of anyone in the party (which is why he was fairly nonchalant about this). He only needed a 10, but wouldn't you know it, he rolled a 6.

There was a clap of thunder, and Gulleck rocked backwards on his heels and fell flat on his back, stone cold dead.

His friends tried everything. They smeared the honey from the beehive in his mouth. They scrounged up some of the pasty grease leftover from the Holy Lantern from a year ago and stuffed that into his mouth as well. They even dragged his body to the pool of resurrection. They knew it only worked once and there was no point immersing him in it, but they scooped up some of the slippery fluid from the pool and poured it into his mouth, just in case that would help. Nothing had any effect except to cause further indignity to the body of the once noble dwarf.

With heavy hearts, the adventurers carried the body of their friend back to the surface. Even the guards at the top of the trapdoor were somber and subdued as they hauled Gulleck's limp corpse up with the block and tackle.

What a silly way to die!