Monday, February 9, 2015

Idalium Game 11: A Fistful of Centipedes (Reprise)

Session date: Monday, February 2, 2015
Game date: Saturday, February 2, 208 to Sunday, February 3, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 14, xp 2387/4000
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 2214/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 1, hp 3, xp 1118/2200

Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 845/1500
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1077/2500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 1077/4000

A winter storm left a couple of players housebound, so we were down to three this session. In addition, Wilhelm failed a morale check between sessions, and took a couple of weeks off. Tyrriel recruited an eager new retainer from the thieves' guild: a red-haired vixen named Velvet.

Before venturing into the dungeon, Tod went looking for a bootmaker to convert his lovely giant lizards into a pair of orange-spotted blue boots. On the ritzier side of town, he found a cordwainer named Elsbeth Finley, a no-nonsense lady who took detailed measurements of his feet and told him it would take about a month to cure the leather and construct the boots. She charged him 1,000 silver shekels for the pair of boots, taking half now and half due on receipt. Tyrriel hoped to have a cloak made from whatever was left over afterwards.

Then back again to the Rusty Lantern tavern, where the party heard rumors regarding goblins. There is said to be a goblin market on the second level, where monsters and others respect a truce and exchange goods and information. And another rumor told of the goblin palace: "It's like being lost in a nightmare. The map doesn't make any sense!" "So, just like our usual maps then," quipped Tod.

Descending once again into the ancient city of Idalium, the group made a beeline back to the temple where they had slain the giant lizards. All seemed quiet and empty in the cave-like temple. The stone basin full of (apparently) blood stood silent. They looked again at the frescoes on the wall above the basin, depicting scenes of diseased people being healed (or perhaps healthy people being cursed with disease?), below the moon amid a constellation of stars. Tyrriel recognized the constellation as the sign of the bull.

Tyrriel wanted another sample of the blood from the basin, and she reached in with an empty flask she had bought in town. Suddenly, boiling up from the blood came many gigantic centipedes, clinging to her hand and biting with their fanged mandibles! (Dungeon restocking tables FTW!) The rest of the party rushed forward to crush the horrid little vermin, while Tyrriel frantically shook the centipedes off her hand and then collapsed next to the basin, retching and heaving as the centipedes' venom began to affect her body.

Velvet demonstrated amazing loyalty to her brand new employer by dropping to the ground next to Tyrriel and attempting to suck the venom out of the bite wounds on Tyrriel's hand and wrist. My attitude as DM is to be generous about this kind of thing, at least for poisons that aren't immediately lethal, but to always make it involve a trade-off of some sort. So Tyrriel received an extra saving throw to shake off the effects of the poison, but Velvet, by exposing herself to the venom, now needed to make a saving throw vs. poison as well, albeit with a +4 bonus since it was not injected directly. Luckily, for Tyrriel and Velvet, they both made their saves, and Tyrriel slowly began to recover her composure.

Meanwhile, the party hacked the centipedes apart, but not before Twiffle was bit as well. Gulleck apparently didn't have nearly as much concern for his retainer as Velvet had for her employer, and watched dispassionately as the elf began to gag and retch, staggering against a wall and clutching his stomach in pain. The remaining centipedes fled into crevices in the walls, and the party slowly helped Twiffle back the way they had came, leaving the dungeon, and helping Twiffle to bed.

Twiffle didn't seem to be getting any worse, but in his current condition he was clearly too weak to adventure. Ralph, the owner of the Rusty Lantern and a retired adventurer, told them that giant centipedes did have a nasty bite that could lay someone out for a week or two, but he had never known it to be fatal. So Gulleck found a strapping young lad named Rutger (with exceptional ability scores and a maximum hit point roll) and all concern for Twiffle was quickly set aside. Their new retainer in tow, the party returned to the avenue of temples yet again to pick up where they had left off.

A bit to the south of the temple with the basin, they party found a temple entrance with images of healing and medicine decorating the facade. Inside, they saw a sort of waiting room, with benches and chairs and a desk, but also three ugly little creatures. Somewhat taller than the knockers, they had pallid gray flesh and eyes that dimly glowed red. They all looked somewhat different: one vaguely dog-like, one rat-like, one cat-like, but all were ugly and malevolent in aspect. They wore shabby, stained, and tattered clothes and wielded rusted and pitted short swords.

"Hello," ventured Gulleck and the response was negative indeed. "A filthy dwarf!" one of the creatures spat in the goblin language, and the three creatures lunged at the party in the doorway. Tod and Brother Jibber swiftly brought the goblins down and they party collected a few handfuls of electrum half-darics from the creatures.

A note about the immediate reaction: the Basic rules state that goblins will attack dwarves on sight, and I followed that element of their description, but I think I am going to modify this, since it denies any possibility of parlay and roleplaying as long as Gulleck is with the party. Especially given the rumors of a goblin market, I don't want to eliminate these avenues of play. I think what I will do from now on is give a -2 penalty to all reaction checks made if a dwarf is with the party, making it more likely that Gulleck's presence will incite hostility among goblins but not to the point of always precluding any other result but combat.

Beyond the waiting room, the group found a hallway lined with doorways draped in tattered blue curtains. Behind the curtains were small rooms, containing one or two cots and little else. In one room they found a small party of gnomes hiding in a corner, who were relieved to see friendly faces. They said they were being stalked by the goblins and had hidden in here, hoping to avoid a battle. In another room, the party quickly turned away from a giant shrew, remembering all too well the fate of Brother Mookie in their earliest explorations of this ruined city. Fortunately, the shrew seemed content to stay where it was, and did not react aggressively towards them. In yet another room, they found a beautifully carved wooden box containing a single crystal vial of liquid, sealed with wax over a cork stopper. Pleased with their find, they packed this away for later use.

At the end of the hall, they found a room containing a marble font on a pedestal. In the basin was perhaps half a cup of liquid. They sopped the liquid up with one of the armbands they had taken from Cretch's gang many weeks ago, and squeezed into another of Tyrriel's empty flasks. No one was brave enough to drink it yet.

Tyrriel examined her map and noticed that this room was not as wide as the width of the hallway plus the rooms with the cots and spent some time scrutinizing the western wall of the room. Her attention to detail paid off, and she found a cleverly-hidden door, and pulled it open revealing a supply closet filled with robes, holy symbols, three crystal vials similar to the one they had found in the box, and an ancient booklet of prayers. These were written in Ancient Idalian, but Brother Jibber could sense the divine power that they were imbued with, and believed that if Tyrriel could provide a translation and assistance with the pronunciation of the ancient tongue, he could make use of the miraculous power held within the scrolls. There were three prayers in the booklet, one that spoke of purifying food and drink, one to cure diseases, and one neutralize the effects of even the worst poisons.

Excited by their discovery of several useful magical items (although yet again rather lacking in cold hard cash), the party returned to the surface world to celebrate another successful delve below.

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