Session date: Monday, December 8, 2014
Game date: Saturday, December 8, 207
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 1190/2000
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 1146/4000
Quazzle, Magic-user 1, hp 1, xp 1126/2500
Caryatid, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1084/2500
Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 554/1500
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 542/2500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 542/4000
Wilson, Thief 1, hp 1, xp 208/1200
All things do come to an end, and when you are a magic-user with only one hit point, you are basically just waiting for your number to come up. After five sessions of unexpected survival, Lady Luck finally turned a jaundiced eye upon Quazzle, proving his father's irritating expectations correct. Ah well, it's a chance to try out a new character type! The nice thing about D&D is that life goes on, even when it doesn't!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The Infestation Managers regrouped on a sunny but crisp December morning at the Rusty Lantern tavern, making plans to invade the lair of the knockers and recover the stolen gold belonging to the gnomes. Vito wasn't available, so the party numbered eight in total today.
Descending into the tavern cellar and paying the toll of a gold daric per person, the group climbed down the cellar trapdoor once more into the buried city of Ancient Idalium. They quickly retraced their steps from last week through the city and the narrow, twisting mine galleries until they arrived again near the house of the gnomes. Wanting to avoid the giant bees that had attacked Tod the week before, they explored a mine gallery to the north, where they found abandoned mining equipment near an exposed vein of silver ore. The silver was oddly discolored, with a strange blue-green tinge to it. Tyrriel decided to spend a few minutes attempting to chisel some silver out of the ore, a fateful choice indeed. Her hands and wrists started to burn and itch where dust from the ore had touched exposed skin.
The party retraced their path through the mine again, and took a new route to the east. They emerged from the mine in a natural cavern area, where the floor was rough and damp, and the walls were uneven. Tyrriel's infravision detected half a dozen small figures in the cavern, and as they entered the chamber, the figures were revealed to be knockers, their wizened and shriveled features again seeming like a mockery of the plump and jolly gnomes. One turned towards the group and hissed, "This is our mine. Leave us alone." "Uh, can we leave by going past you?" someone tried. "No. Leave the way you came," the knocker retorted.
Tod decided that these creepy things just basically needed killing, and drew his big two-handed sword from where it was strapped to his back. The awful creatures dropped into a battle stance, wielding their tiny axes, and charged Tod and Brother Jibber. Stones from the slings of Tyrriel and Wilhelm smashed into the heads of several of the knockers, sending them senselessly to the ground. Tod's sword cleaved through another. The creatures scrabbled at Tod and Jibber with their axes, but could not penetrate their plate mail. Soon, only one knocker remained, and it ran into the darkness to the north.
The group paused a moment to discuss their options for pursuit, but rather than run at full speed after the creature, they chose to carefully follow. They came to a fork in the cavern passage, and not knowing which way the creature had gone, chose the right-hand passage. This turned a corner and opened out into a large cave, dotted with stalagmites and stalactites, and a small stream of water trickling through the cavern. The party could see another passage leaving from the east end of the cave, and they decided to carefully move along the wall towards that passage.
That was when their luck turned against them. The surviving knocker had run back to its lair to raise the alarm, and the knockers had set an ambush against them. I gave the party a 4 in 6 chance of being surprised by the hidden knockers, and unfortunately the dice deemed that they were indeed surprised.
Suddenly, the group was peppered by small, jagged knives, thrown at them by a half dozen knockers that stepped out from their hiding places behind the stalagmites. Because the party was all spread out along the wall, I randomly diced to decide who was targeted by the barrage. Tod took several attacks, and was wounded by one that managed to hit an unarmored part of his body. Quazzle was missed by one knife, but sadly, the dice decided that another was thrown at him, and this time a roll of 19 indicated a definite hit. A rusty knife sank into Quazzle's chest and he collapsed in the trickling stream under his feet.
Tyrriel and Wilhelm both recited the words of the Sleep spell, and before the knockers could repeat the barrage, they were overcome with slumber, the half dozen knife-throwers and also a larger knocker who was watching from farther back and who worn a coronet of sorts of twisted metal. With him were two strong-looking knockers wielding swords, but all fell to the potent magical spell. The party wasted no time in slaying all of the foul creatures in their sleep.
Quazzle's player chose to roll up a new PC (I don't think he was keen on taking over Twiffle as a PC, seeing as Twiffle also has only one hit point). He decided on a fighter, but when he rolled the d8 for hit points he rolled a one! Generally, I would encourage players to just take in stride what the dice give them, but Quazzle's player had already had his share of 1 HP wonders, so I allowed him to discard the scores and roll up a new PC. This time a dwarf, but also with one hit point! All right, I said, one more try. So that unlucky die was set aside, and now he has a dwarf with three hit points.
A passage from the northeast led through the rock and eventually emerged on a ledge overlooking a chasm, a shaft in the rock that led downwards farther than their lantern light would reveal. Another ledge, too far to jump, was visible to their left, and about twenty feet up, they could see a large number of strange bird-like creatures roosting. Some of the stirges took notice of the party, and began to circle the top of the shaft. The group decided to beat a hasty retreat for now.
Back in the knockers' cavern, they explored the passage to the east that they had originally been heading towards. Crude wooden signs stood outside it, painted with a skull and crossbones. Tod cautiously led the way, probing with a long wooden pole. His cautious was well merited, for they came upon a collapsed floor in the middle of the passage, and at the bottom of the 10' deep pit they found a dwarf in chain mail, calling for help. He was standing on a small portion of ground in the pit that wasn't covered in a strange green slime. The bodies of a human fighter and another dwarf were immersed in the slime and were slowly dissolving into it. The surviving dwarf was hauled out of the pit, and he introduced himself as Gulleck Stonefoot, a new adventurer whose inaugural delve had been less than successful. (As the DM, I can never resist amusing myself with things like this, where the fighter and dwarf that Gulleck's player rolled up and discarded were explained as casualties of his original party.)
In the room behind the pit, they found an enormous pile of gold nuggets, perhaps a thousand coin-sized pieces, and a separate pile perhaps twice as large of copper coins. A fair amount of time was spent figuring out how to load up all of the gold and bring it back to the gnomes. Brother Jibber filled a sack with the copper coins as well. Eventually, they schlepped all of the gold back to the gnomes' little hideyhole, where the gnome leader, Tom Pipkin, expressed his condolences for the death of Quazzle. The gold nuggets were not the coins that the gnomes had lost; those ought to be stamped with the image of the gnome king. The party borrowed some sacks and a mining cart from the gnomes to help retrieve the rest of the copper coins. Tyrriel had been getting increasingly weak and feverish over time (a save vs. poison every hour, with failure meaning the loss of a point of constitution). The gnomes were saddened to hear she had touched tainted ore. They had encountered this before, and told her that usually people recovered from it, but some of their people had died. Either the illness would pass within the day, or she would die. She stayed with the gnomes while the rest of the party went back to retrieve the copper coins.
The copper did have the image of a gnome king on it, which perplexed Tom Pipkin, until Tyrriel mentioned that they had found some gold that turned out to be copper when it was brought into daylight. In the end, Tom agreed to keep the copper and send Pluck Fimple with the party back up to the Rusty Lantern with a small pouch of the copper coins, to see if they were revealed as gold in the light of the surface world. They quickly made their way back out of the dungeon, and indeed, the copper coins did show themselves to be gold. Pluck gave them a crystal vial containing a potion he said would temporarily transform the drinker into mist, and a scrap of parchment with a fragmentary map and some words in Ancient Idalian that described where a hidden cache of money could be found.
Sadly, all of the gold nuggets they hauled out of the dungeon also turned out to be copper again, and for all of their troubles, the total financial take from this delve was less than twenty shekels apiece, perhaps enough for a decent dinner out. On the bright side, Tyrriel managed to just barely squeak through the illness from the contaminated ore, dropping to 0 constitution (comatose but alive) before the toxin ran its course through her system. The life of a dungeoneer is a fraught one!