Saturday, March 28, 2015

Idalium Game 17: Bring Out Your Dead!

Session date: Monday, March 16, 2015
Game date: Saturday, March 16, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 14, xp 3085/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 2476/4400
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 3508/5000

Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1146/1500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 1213/4000
Ylil, Thief 2, hp 5, xp 1229/2400

This evening's session was cut a bit short by TRAGEDY. As I've been expecting since the PCs starting leveling up, it seems the players had started to get a bit cocky and take certain weaker monsters for granted. That was to be their undoing tonight.

This particular morning found the Infestation Managers, aka the Proper Authorities, gathered around their usual table at the Rusty Lantern tavern plotting their goals for the day's expedition. They were keen to push further into the second level of the dungeon and explore some new areas. Paying the usual fee of one gold daric apiece, they descended through the trapdoor in the tavern cellar, down the well-worn ladder that leads to the upstairs storage room of a long abandoned shop in the buried city of Ancient Idalium.

They took their usual path through the back alleys of the ruined city, and when they got to the robing room that leads to the now-familiar temple with the basin of blood, they were startled to see a large group of people coming in at the same time from the temple. These people were dressed in black robes over plate mail, and were wearing vaguely unsettling medallions around their necks. There was a tense stand-off, and it looked like things might come to blows at first, but once the party established that they weren't actually any sort of "proper authorities", the mood lightened. The leader of the group of black-robed people was a stern-looking woman who introduced herself as Ms. Frost. She was carrying an ornate black shield and a rather incongruous broomstick. Her group was just leaving, she said, and the two groups agreed to pass in peace. Her group left through the closet to the north, in which a ladder leads up to another exit from the dungeon.

They quickly went through the basin temple, across the grand avenue, and into the temple of hedonism. In the vestibule they surprised a pair of diminutive gnomes, one of whom was lugging a sack of coins like a miniature Santa Claus. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the gnomes informed the party that someone had destroyed the crystal statue that guards the stairs down to the second level.

The adventurers passed through the temple of hedonism into the inner hallway and saw that the statue had indeed been smashed to tiny shards and fragments of glass. "How come we never even thought of trying that?"

They noted that the door to the north still had "RATS" written in chalk, with "DEAD" carved above it by Gulleck's axe last week. And then for some reason they decided to go back in that room to see if they missed something.

In the room they saw over a dozen knockers. The deformed, withered gnome-like creatures were in the midst of shoving week-old giant rat corpses into rough burlap sacks. When Tod finally shouldered open the stubborn door after many tries, the knockers screamed in anger and rushed forward with jagged knives drawn.

Tod and Gulleck set themselves firmly in the doorway and met the onslaught. Sword and battleaxe swept down and knockers fell like wheat before a scythe, but the horde kept pushing forward, jabbing with their tiny knives. Gulleck's arms were slashed repeatedly as the knockers seemed to focus their rage upon him. He felt himself grow faint with shock, and stumbled to one knee, but then Brother Jibber bravely pulled him back and stepped into the front line himself and took up the battle, while Gulleck shook his head to clear it.

Tod and Brother Jibber held the line and brought more knockers down, and Twiffle and Ylil looked for openings in the melee with their bow and sling, but the wretches kept fighting, clambering over the bodies of their slain kin to press the attack. And then Brother Jibber was overcome! Several knockers stabbed him in the thigh and torso, and even as the light went out of his eyes he was struck again by a knife thrown across the room by another knocker. His body collapsed upon a pile of knocker corpses.

Tod dropped his sword and grabbed two knockers by the heads and bashed their heads together, while Twiffle attempted to hold the line where Brother Jibber had fallen. The knockers in the back ranks, having thrown their only knives, chattered briefly to each other, and then grabbed decomposing giant rat corpses by their tails, swung them around as in a shot put, and let loose. Twiffle was hit full on in the face by one of the rats. His head snapped backwards, and there was a terrible cracking sound. He let out a brief grunt, and then fell atop Brother Jibber's rapidly cooling body.

Furious, Tod and the others finished off the last of the knockers and then took stock of the situation. Two of their comrades were dead, killed by monsters they had thought to pose little threat.

"Time to go see if that pool will work twice."

It took a while to figure out how to carry the bodies of Brother Jibber and Twiffle, both of whom were wearing heavy plate armor. Caryatid and Ylil could carry Twiffle between the two of them, but Gulleck and Tod were too weighed down already to carry Brother Jibber in his armor. In the end, they stripped Jibber down to his bloodied underwear, hiding his equipment in the shredded rags that made up the rats' nest. And then they carefully carried the corpses downstairs, only to find that the entrance to the inner sanctum was barred from the inside.

I have a random table to determine whether the temple of hedonism is in use on any given visit and if so, what is happening. Well, when the adventurers got to the bottom of the stairs, they could hear the thump of hand drums, the plucking of a harp, and the piping of flutes, and beneath the intense music they could also hear rhythmic moans and grunts of quite a few people. Yes, I managed to roll the very unexpected 2% chance that a full-blown orgy was in session at the temple of hedonism. "We now commence the Eyes Wide Shut portion of this game."

Gulleck pounded on the door - "Let us in, it's an emergency!" - and the music and moans came to a quick halt. "Uh... who is it?" came a nervous, flustered voice. "Just let us in, we don't judge you, we just need to get through your room."

"Um... we're really kind of in the middle of something right now. Could you come back later?"
"Open the damn door!" shouted Gulleck and started to pound on it. Barred from within, it didn't seem like he had much chance of bashing it open, but he figured it would be annoying enough to change their minds. And he was right!

"Okay, okay, we'll let you through, just go quickly." The bar was slid back and the door opened. The room was lit with multiple braziers, and the sweet smell of scented incense hung in the air. About a dozen young, fresh-faced women and men were staring at the adventurers from beneath sheets and duvets, clearly naked otherwise. A few blushing faces peered from around the curtains that partitioned off the "boudoirs" adjacent to the room.

"Excuse me, coming through, pardon me, we're not looking..." said Gulleck as they carried the limp bodies of Jibber and Twiffle through the temple. They passed awkwardly through the group of hedonists, unbarred the western door, and exited the temple, moving as quickly as they could to the pool that had brought Twiffle back to life the week before.

Once again they entered the slightly warm and humid room that contained the five foot wide pool of slippery, slightly cloudy liquid. Gulleck and Tod carefully lowered Brother Jibber's body into the water, and then they waited anxiously. Long seconds passed, and then, just as before, there was a frantic splashing in the liquid, followed by Jibber's arms lunging up for the walls of the pool and then pulling himself up, gasping for breath. A look of radiant peace and wellness was on his face, and as he pulled himself out of the pool and to the side of the room he seemed lost in thought.

Next they stripped Twiffle out of his armor and then lowered him into the pool. He sunk out of sight, and they waited, and waited, and waited. And nothing happened.

"Uh... so do we just leave him in there?" asked Tod. "That'll be a hell of a surprise for the next person to try it out."

"Oh," grumbled Gulleck reluctantly, "I guess someone's gotta go in after him." Gulleck pulled his armor off, and they tied a rope to his ankle.

"How long can you hold your breath?"
"Uh... a while, I guess?"
"Okay, we'll wait that long and then pull you out. What do you want the 'quick, pull me out now' signal to be?"
"...One long continuous pull?"

So Gulleck gritted his teeth and eased himself into the pool and then held his breath and dove under, groping in the dark for Twiffle's body. He found Twiffle's motionless form and lifted it off the bottom of the pool and out, and then pulled himself out as well. Despite the somber occasion, Gulleck felt more refreshed and wholesome than he could remember feeling in his entire life. The cuts on his arms where the knockers had slashed him had completely vanished, and even his lavender hair had been restored to its proper color! In game terms, Gulleck's constitution score has permanently been increased by one.

Taking up once again the body of Twiffle, they made their way back to the temple of hedonism. The door was opened for them, and they passed through a group of now-clothed youngsters who all looked rather frustrated and grumpy, though their eyes opened with surprise at the sight of Jibber, now restored to life and walking in his soggy undershirt.

"Uh, next time you come down here, if you hear us having a party, could you maybe go away and come back later? You guys totally killed the mood."

They returned to the surface without further event, and Twiffle's body was delivered to his mentor. No one felt like returning to the dungeon for the hour or so we had left in our game session, so we ended early. Twiffle (and Brother Jibber's) names have been entered into the Memorial Roll, a solemn reminder of the risks of underestimating even knockers.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Player Journals from Session 16

Gulleck's eighth journal
Been a while since I wrote anything down. Ain't been in the mood since we found a bunch of Little Cousins dead. Damned big rodent slaughtered the little fellas. Pluck Thimple made it out at least, and we got the bodies back. Poor little guys.

Anyway. Got down below the buried city, and it's all even crazier. There's a little den of hedonism down there. Looks like somebody's been using it, too. Ain't seen em yet, though. Met some hobgoblins. Sleazy fellas, but friendly enough I suppose. Not sure I wanna meet their king.

There's a room that's all magical dark, and a magic spinning wheel thingy that gives good and bad stuff. Have to be crazy to take that kinda risk. Or a human kid, I suppose. Met some of those, too. Crazy urchins probably gonna get eaten by an orc. Cause they're down there too.

Distracted one while the other folks went off with another. Guess the fountain water down here makes ya real friendly. Maybe too friendly. They tell me ol pointy ears got killed and brought back to life. Pretty sure they're messing with me, though.

Journal of Tod P. Quasit, Jr.
It is with a heavy heart that I must report the untimely death of our good friend Twiffle.  But wait. Wait. He's not dead. A magic fountain brought him back to life. You should have seen the look on Jibber's face. "What manner of devilry is this? This can't be the real. Twiffle returned to life? No. It is a demon spawn, let loose upon the innocent world to bring about the end of days!" Or so Jibber says. He was going on and on about it after several flagons of distilled wine at The Thumping Pipes on Wednesday. Even his new fancy magic snake staff did nothing to appease his existential crisis.  "Did you see the look in his eyes?  Did you? It's not him! It's not him!" and then he slumped his head down on the table and began to snore.  

There is no question in my mind that I was witness to a miracle or some very dark magic indeed. I must admit the thought of carrying on with Twiffle as if nothing has happened concerns me.

But what else happened last Monday? Not much. We killed some rats and found the snake staff. That was good. I got more drugs. That was good.  We met some hobgoblins. They invited us to visit their king. Maybe.

We found a bag of coins "hidden" behind a statue, but then did the right thing and gave it back to the idiots who had just hidden it. There was much grumbling about doing the right thing by several members of The Proper Authorities. Not me. I will sleep better at night. 

We met a group of urchins living down in the Under Under City. They seemed to be surviving somehow so we let them be. 

We translated the words above the Fountain of Love.  It said, "Come Believer, submerge yourself in the sacred water of life and be born again." We met some orcs. There were two of them guarding something at the end of a hallway. You know what I've come to learn about orcs? They are awful awful people. We used some of the Love Fountain syrup (telling them it was wine) to turn them into strangely friendly creepy awful awful people.  One of the really really really to a liking to Gulleck, so we let him hang out because he wouldn't leave his post. Someone hatched a plan to get the other one into the fountain to see what would happen. This did not go well. In fact, the orc killed Twiffle before we killed it. That's when we figured we had nothing to lose and dunked the dead Twiffle into the fountain. And he was resurrected. Into what we know not.

Idalium Game 16: Crowded House

Session date: Monday, March 9, 2015
Game date: Saturday, March 9, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 14, xp 3027/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 2428/4400
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 2693/4000
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 3455/5000

Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1120/1500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 1188/4000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1077/2500

Some sessions are weirder than other sessions. Between my dungeon restocking and the wandering monster checks, the dungeon was chock full tonight.

When the party regrouped at the Rusty Lantern tavern, they found the room occupied by Rugger's Raiders, another adventuring party that they had met once or twice before. The Raiders seemed to have lost a member, and the remaining ones looked grim and solemn. Gulleck raised a toast to fallen comrades, and Rugger gave a curt nod of acknowledgement to his fellow dwarf.

Beyond the table of unhappy delvers, the tavern was buzzing with talk of the semi-annual magic auction that would be held in about a fortnight. Twice a year, on the spring and fall equinoxes, the Adventurer's Guild cosponsors an auction of strange and marvelous magical items. This auction tends to attract two classes of bidder: rough and rugged adventuring types, and a much more refined group of extremely wealthy collectors and their agents. One group seeking items to put to their advantage in actual use, and other seeking unique curios to display in their mansions. (I'm not a fan of "magic stores" like you see in video games and later D&D editions, but I like the idea of limited and significant opportunities to exchange magic items in a way that creates interesting role playing interactions and introduces new NPCs. I was inspired by this post on the Dreams in the Lich House blog.)

Now that they had Tyrriel with them, the group decided to head back to the temples on the second level so that she could translate the various bits of Ancient Idalian writing they had seen but been unable to read. But it seemed like everyone in town was in the dungeon today! First they ran into a group of bandits in the robing room behind the temple with the basin of blood. They were the same bandits that had attacked them without provocation once before! This time, however, they seemed much more mellow and simply wanted to pass by without a fight. "We're sorry we were so high strung before! Please don't cast any spells on us this time!"

Passing through to the temple with the basin of blood, the party stopped short as they saw a group of half a dozen orcs clustered around the basin, taking up handfuls of the blood and slurping it noisily down. The orcs glared at the intruders, and demanded a toll of fifty gold coins from each adventurer in order to let them pass. There were harsh words back and forth, and then Tod said something very rude, and the orcs charged the party. Swords clashed against shields, and the orcs got right up in the faces of Tod, Jibber, and Gulleck, snarling and grunting, and then Tyrriel spoke the words of sleep and all of the orcs staggered to their knees and were soon put to the knife.

In the vestibule of the temple of hedonism, Gulleck took a stroll around the statues, looking to see if he had missed anything the last time and was surprised to discover a burlap sack full of a hundred or so silver and gold coins. In the sack was a note, saying "Rhonda, store this in the hideout aboveground." In the next room, the group encountered a pair of somewhat bumbling bandits whose hidden coins they had just walked off with. The bandits gave a kind of confused story about how they raid the dungeon for coins and then their business partner Rhonda makes quick runs to established drop points to retrieve the loot. The party was skeptical about this arrangement, but Gulleck took pity on them and gave them back their sack of coins, with the advice to find a better hiding place. What a softie!

In the hallway on the way down to the second level, the party decided to make another attempt against the rats. Gulleck listened at the door and could hear them squeaking and scampering around, so he and Tod shoved the door open and Wilhelm invoked the magic of sleep against the giant rats. They all squirmed momentarily and then collapsed, and Gulleck made the rounds with his axe. On the floor were two rat-gnawed corpses, one of which was holding a wooden staff with carvings to resemble a coiling snake. Since he was the only one who could make use of it, Brother Jibber was granted the staff. He looked it over and found the word "Saleetha" engraved on the back of the snake's head at the top of the staff. When he spoke this word, the staff suddenly convulsed in his hand and became a long serpent, coiling and flicking its tongue as it looked inquisitively back at Jibber. He spoke the word again and the snake straightened and in the blink of an eye returned to a wooden staff.

Pleased with this acquisition, the group dressed up in the embroidered togas to pass the crystal guardian statue at the top of the stairs, and then left two of their number at the bottom of the stairs while the others ran the robes back up to the others. This has been working for them, but takes time and exposes them to another wandering monster check at both sides of the staircase while the party is split. But at least this time, they reunited at the bottom uneventfully.

In the inner sanctum of the temple of hedonism, Gulleck filled flasks from both of the fountains that trickled in the middle of the room. Nervously, he ventured a sip of each. One gave him a strange feeling of exciting refreshment for a moment, and the other briefly overwhelmed him with a sense of affection and camaraderie for his companions. Then they headed for one of the barred doors that exited the temple, only to be intercepted by a pair of strange humanoids that strolled out of one of the rooms off of the hallway.

The group had met goblins before, and these seemed similar in appearance, but man-sized. They had the same mottled gray skin and eyes that flickered dimly red, with oddly animal-like facial features. One seemed slightly feline and the other had a long snout like a rat. Although the creatures were monstrous in feature, their clothes seemed like a parody of aristocratic fancy dress, with ruffled shirts and harlequin-style diamond patterned doublets. They were oddly affected in their speech patterns and gestures, and welcomed the party in an alarmingly warm fashion. "Welcome to the domain of the Goblin King!" The goblins gave their names as Margleton and Clabberpus, and invited the party to visit the Goblin Market. "What kind of payment do you take?" asked one of the PCs. "Oh, whatever you find valuable! Precious gemstones, gold, your fondest hopes and wishes..."

The party got rough directions to the Goblin Market - through the halls to the north, and then into the caverns to the east - and were warned against the savage orcs who live nearby. Eventually, the adventurers parted ways with these strange creatures, unnerved by their effusive manners and quite unsure whether any invitation by goblins was in their best interests.

Onward to the temple of fate they went, as Tyrriel was keen to see this wheel of fate the others had told her about. When they got there, however, Gulleck could hear what sounded like children's voices on the other side of the door! "Come on, Johnny, you can do it! Make a wish!" followed by the clattering sound of the great wheel spinning. Tod shoved the door open and the group walked in on a surprised bunch of ragamuffins and urchins, one of whom was strapped to the wheel, gradually slowing to a halt. The group of children, ranging in age from perhaps seven to about fourteen or so, told the adventurers that they lived in the dungeon in a secret place and had no desire to go back to the city aboveground. They were orphans and runaways and made their living by scavenging and exploring the dungeon. While the adventurers were talking to the urchins, Johnny was unstrapped and helped down from the wheel and exclaimed, "Where's my money? I had a bunch of shekels in my pouch and they're all gone!" The thieving hands of fate move quickly!

The bemused adventurers asked the young runaways about the dungeon, and learned that there were orcs living nearby ("You have to run quickly so they don't see you") and that the goblins were not trusted by the urchins ("You should stay away from the goblins, they're dangerous").

"You know anything about that room that's totally dark?"
"I don't like that room. I think something bad happened there."
"What makes you think that?"
"We went in there once, and it felt really scary so we ran."
"Oh, kids are so annoying!" said the players out of character, "'Oooh, the dark is scary!'" "Er, but isn't that just how we reacted?"

Gulleck gave the kids a spare portion of iron rations ("Yuck, dry biscuits and jerky?") and told them to leave a note in the temple of hedonism if they needed help, and the two groups parted ways.

Everyone now turned to the wheel of fate. The PCs kept trying to get their retainers to give it a shot ("Hey, Twiffle, wanna take a spin? How about you, Brother Jibber?") but failed morale checks meant the retainers refused to take the risk. Eventually, Tyrriel (whose player is typically the instigator of the group) threw caution to the wind and climbed onto the wheel to be strapped in and spun. On the ceiling, a painted image of a stern goddess of fate gazed impassively down upon Tyrriel, and as the wheel spun, so too did a disc in the ceiling, so that the goddess remained clear and in focus while the rest of the world revolved dizzily around Tyrriel. Eventually, the wheel came to a stop, and Tyrriel found that she felt ever so slightly more lucky and less susceptible to magical curses - her wisdom was permanently increased by a point!

Next they went to the circular room of polished pink marble with the pool of liquid, and Tyrriel translated the words inscribed on the north wall: "Come, believer, submerge yourself in the sacred water of life and be born again."

"Hey, Twiffle, you wanna be born again?"
"No thank you, Gulleck."

It was running late, but the players insisted on pushing onwards to explore at least one new place that they hadn't been before. They continued along the main corridor, past the door that led to the dark room, and suddenly in their lamplight they came upon two bestial orcs standing guard at a T-intersection. A crude gong hung on a rack next to them. The reaction roll was favorable, and the orcs were not immediately aggressive, but demanded a toll if the party wished to pass by them along the hallway.

"Want some wine?" offered Gulleck, except that instead of wine he held out the wineskin he had filled from one of the fountains in the temple of hedonism. One of the orcs sniffed cautiously at it, and then took a big chug. A random die roll indicated that the first person he set eyes on after drinking the liquid was Gulleck, and a broad smile crossed his primitive features, as he gazed at Gulleck with awe and admiration.

"Hey, this ain't wine, but it's goooood!"
"Maybe your friend would like some too," suggested Gulleck. The other orc took a deep gulp of the magical liquid, and as luck would have it, he first laid eyes on Caryatid, and a look of lustful desire came over his face. And then everything degenerated terribly.

"Hey, baby! You're lookin' good! You wanna party with me?" And then the players decided they had the perfect guinea pig to see what that "water of life" pool did to someone.

"Oh, orcie!" cooed Caryatid, flashing some leg. "Follow me, we can go in the hot tub together!"
"Her" orc was all for it, drooling with barely-suppressed anticipation. The other orc seemed conflicted: "We can't just leave our posts! I want to go with you, but my chief'll rip my skin off."

Eventually, Gulleck volunteered to stay with "his" orc, sitting in the dark, while the others returned to the water of life pool with the amorous orc. That orc was impatient and agitated, but followed close after Caryatid, as the players imagined little cartoon hearts floating above his head. Once back in the temple with the pool, Caryatid told him to get naked and get in the pool and that she would be "right there". The orc was confused and frustrated, but stripped off his filthy leather armor and undergarments (nearly blinding the party with his hideous nakedness) and uncomfortably lowered himself into the pool, holding on to the edge. Nothing in particular seemed to happen to the orc.

"Why you not get in, too?" the orc barked, frustrated.
"You gotta go all the way under," said Tyrriel. "You know how these humans are, she wants you to wash yourself up first!"
"No! She make me wait too long! I'm gonna have her right now!"

And the orc climbed back out of the pool, the viscous fluid dripping from his filthy naked body, and advanced menacingly on Caryatid.

Meanwhile, Gulleck was trying to avoid making conversation with a very friendly orc as they sat in the dark in the hallway. "You kill anything good lately?" "Uh, some giant rats." "Oooh, rats, yeah. I just love to sink my fingernails into their sides and rrrrrip 'em apart. And then when you bite into 'em, the way the bones crunch in your mouth..." "Uh, yeah..."

Back in pool room, Twiffle frantically spoke the words of the Charm Person spell, but the orc shrugged the magical influence off! (Perhaps he was already too enraptured by Caryatid?) The orc turned to Twiffle with a look of rage on his face. "You try to keep me from her! I'll kill you!" Before Twiffle could react, the naked, dripping orc had pounced upon his, claws and teeth sinking into his throat. Blood spurted forth, and the orc dropped Twiffle's limp body in a heap and turned his now bloodied face back toward Caryatid. "Now, you are all mine..."

Caryatid calmly invoked her Magic Missile spell, and the golden arrow appeared, glowing brightly in this dim chamber, and sped forth to bury itself in the orc's torso. He spluttered incoherently and then fell to the floor, dead.

It seemed at this point like they had nothing to lose by dunking Twiffle and seeing what happened. They stripped the elf out of his plate armor, and carefully lowered his body into the slippery fluid of the pool. They waited anxiously, and just when it felt like nothing was going to happen, there was a vigorous splashing in the pool, and Twiffle's arms emerged to grab the side, and then Twiffle pulled himself out of the pool, gasping for air. The fatal wounds on his neck had vanished completely, and he seemed completely revitalized and renewed.

As Twiffle, lost in thought, strapped himself back into his armor, one last wandering monster check turned up a single bandit, so passing by the open door to this room came one of the bumbling bandits they had met upstairs. He took in the sight of the dead naked orc on the ground, and the dripping elf in his skivvies climbing back into his armor, and merely said, "Uh, I was just passing by." It was like a comedy drum fill for the end of the scene.

The group went back to retrieve Gulleck from his new best friend, and they all made their way back to the Rusty Lantern. The snake staff was the only treasure they had found (and it doesn't count for experience points), but what a weird evening of roleplaying!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Player Journals from Session 15

Journal of Tod P. Quasit - March 2nd
I think I was still a little off my game this week but that was okay.  I needed to breath in the stank fetid air of the Undercity.  We went straight to the Temple of Lust, which Gulleck and Caryatid had discovered last week while I was dying. Suddenly, Tyrriel feel ill and we took her back to the Lantern. She looked like she had eaten the three meat taco at the Wicked Drum.

We returned to the temple.  There was a statue rotating in the middle of a large room. I was fascinated by it and wanted to jump up onto the pedestal for a ride but had second thought.  Gulleck explained the had discovered stairs leading down past this room, but they were guarded by a statute that apparently only let you by if you were wearing the robes apparently warn my members of this sect.  We didn't have enough for everyone, so some of us went past and then returned to give the others robes. Worked like a charm and we made our way down to the Under Undercity. We ran into that weird group of cleric we had encountered before. The suspiciously friendly Randy and Michael from the St. Dwindum sect. Or something. This religious stuff confuses and bewilders me.

We went down below the lust temple and discovered another temple, which looks like it had been usurped by some cult of horrible things. We also discovered a pool of liquid in a warm and humid room.  Then we ran away from some lizards and when we checked to see if the coast was clear, the lizards were being eaten by them blood sucking bird things. There were a lot of them.  We were cornered.  There was a room which no light would penetrate.  No one felt brave enough to try venturing into that. So we tried to back away from the birds but they saw us and thus began the epic batter of the blood sucking birds.  It was a rough go.  Many of us were injured.  After one latched onto my arm, I dropped my sword but found to my delight that their heads would crush like ... well bird heads, with a satisfying crunching noise and a little squawk of pain.  I lost a lot of blood and we barely escaped with our lives.  After that we high tailed it back to the Rusty Lantern.  We found no treasure but we did gain valuable life lessons.  I guess. I think a large meat pie and a frosty mug of black ale will help me rebuild my blood.  Off to The Thumping Pipes.  I think Velvet said she might be there later tonight.

Caryatid's journal:
Mar. 2 
Dear diary,
So this time Wilson was a no-show and he has the torches! Ugh. Tyriel & Wilhelm must have eaten that three-fish taco that Br. jibber has nearly died of before, they had to head back as soon as we got started. We battled some shrews, ran into that Gand from St. Dwindlemeyer's. No treasure. Lessons learned: First level Jibbers have no spells, and giant centipedes have no interest in stale rations. Looking forward to real adventure next time!

Idalium Game 15: Darkness to the Left of Me, Lizards to the Right

Session date: March 2, 2015
Game date: March 2, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 14, xp 2935/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 2352/4400
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 3371/5000

Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1078/1500
Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 1148/4000
Ylil, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 1191/1200

Food poisoning strikes again! It looked like we were finally getting the four regulars together again (Vito is still on hiatus), but only a few minutes into the game Tyrriel's player was stricken and had to leave the table.

In the wake of Caryatid and Gulleck's recent incursion into the second level of the dungeon, the reunited party decided to explore further into that level. They took their usual path to the street of temples, and entered the temple of hedonism. In the vestibule, they were startled to encounter another party of adventurers from the Rusty Lantern! The other group was friendly, and introduced themselves as the Brothers Fruthwood. Led by a trio of hobbit brothers names Totho, Otho, and Botho, the group also included a middle-aged magician named Mr. Ternswald, and the PCs' old acquaintance Reggie, who had first introduced them to the Rusty Lantern and the Adventurer’s Guild way back in our first session.

After exchanging some pleasantries - and being warned about orcs that live close by downstairs - the adventurers bid the Brothers Fruthwood safe travels, and entered the temple. In the hall beyond the main temple room, the adventurers noticed that the door to the north was tightly closed and someone had written "RATS!" on it in chalk in big block letters. Gulleck listened carefully and heard squeaking and scurrying behind the door.

"Come on, it's just rats," said Gulleck. "Yeah, but we don't have any sleep spells," someone cautioned. "Look, we'll open the door, see what we're facing, try a few rounds, and if it gets difficult we'll just close the door like we normally do."

So Gulleck and Tod pushed the door open and took a look in the room. In the week since they had last been here, about a dozen giant rats had taken over the room, shredding robes and other fabric into a filthy nest. Two human corpses lay on the ground, wearing badly-chewed plate mail and what looked like togas. The corpses themselves were pretty badly-chewed for that matter. One was clutching an ornately carved wooden staff.

The rats hissed at the intruders, arching their backs in an attempt to intimidate them. "Bring it," grunted Gulleck, drawing his axe. And they did! Three rats swarmed all around Gulleck's legs, biting him again and again. The onslaught was so fierce that the party hastily backed away and slammed the door shut. Gulleck was badly wounded, and even had to make a saving throw again poison to ward off a debilitating disease spread by the rats' filthy bites. Only his dwarven heritage protected him from illness (he rolled the exact number he needed!). Gulleck decided to drink the liquid they had sopped up from the basin in the temple of healing, and was happy to discover that it healed his wounds and revitalized his spirits.

So down to the second level they went. They only had four togas for the six of them, so they had to split the party and do a bit of running togas back and forth to get everyone downstairs. Caryatid and Ylil waited in the big room downstairs while Tod and Jibber were running the togas back up to Gulleck and Twiffle. While they were waiting, they heard the door to the north open and voices of people coming into the room. Caryatid and Ylil tried to hide behind the fountains, but a stern voice said, "There's no point trying to hide, I can see your foot." They cautiously stood up, to come face to face with yet another adventuring party from the Rusty Lantern - St. Dwindum's Heroes. They had met this group once before. Brother Michael, the apparent leader, was friendly and enthusiastic about promoting his little upstart church. Brother Randy, on the other hand, was smarmy and sarcastic, and the rest of the party seemed quite dubious and rough. The PCs were again warned about the orcs who lived nearby and then Brother Michael's group left by the stairs the PCs had just come down.

The party left the temple of hedonism and found themselves in a stone corridor, with old and unused torch sconces mounted on the walls every twenty feet or so. They found a small temple apparently dedicated to fortune and chance, that contained an enormous rotating table-like wheel. On the top of the wheel was painted the outline of a spreadeagled human, and there were leather straps where the wrists and ankles would go. A metal ring circled the wheel and on the ring were various runes and pictographs, such that as the wheel spun the person's head becomes a pointer, coming to rest at one of the runes.

No one dared to climb onto the wheel and be spun.

Moving through the hallways, the group found another temple, much larger. It had apparently been desecrated and repurposed to the worship of some kind of horrible monstrosity. A blood-stained altar was prominent at one end of the room, and behind it was a very crude and primitive painting of some kind of awful demon, a vague mass of tentacles, claws, and eyes. "We need to come back here with some paint." Next to the altar stood a large pair of primitive drums, quite possibly the ones they had heard at the end of last week's session.

Along the same hall they found a slightly low door with a rounded top that led to a round room made of polished pink marble. It was warmer and humid in here, and a dim pink glow suffused the space. There was writing in Ancient Idalian on the wall, but with Tyrriel gone, no one could read it. In the center of the room was a five foot diameter pool, full of a slightly viscous and cloudy liquid with a faintly sweet aroma. They puzzled over this and then decided to leave well enough alone.

Further along the hall they found a door that led to a hall that in turn led to an area of complete darkness that their lanterns could not penetrate. A stone tossed into the darkness clattered across the floor, so it appeared that there was a room there, but not one they could see into. Even Gulleck's dwarven eyes could not see into this darkness.

When they emerged from the hall, they found that their way back down the hall was blocked by three enormous lizards, even bigger than the geckos from whose skins Tod had commissioned a pair of boots. They shut themselves back into the hallway that led to the unnatural darkness, and debated whether to run blindly into the dark or to step into the hall and take a chance with the lizards. Should they fight? Should they walk in the other direction and try to find another way around to get back to the stairs up?

Well, they eventually decided to risk the lizards, but when they emerged again, they found that the lizards were dead, and hunched over them were half a dozen horrid bird-like creatures: stirges! Though the stirges were feeding on the blood of the lizards, it seems that warm human blood was preferable, and several stirges disengaged from the lizards and came flapping through the dank air towards the PCs.

Always wary of stirges, and acutely aware of their lack of sleep spells, the players chose to do a fighting withdrawal up the hall, hoping to find another door or some way to escape the stirges. Every round another stirge would take an interest in the PCs. Several descended upon Tod and began drawing forth his lifeblood. His arm was pierced by the blood-sucking proboscis of a stirge, and the sudden shock made him drop his sword with a clatter. Undeterred, he grabbed the stirge's head with his other hand and squeezed until its skull caved in with a sickening crunch. Twiffle took careful aim with his bow at another stirge attached to Tod ("Whoa! A little bit higher! A little higher!") and it nearly exploded in a cloud of blood and feathers.

Once the stirges were killed, the group hastily retreated to the Rusty Lantern. They had found no treasure whatsoever in the dungeon today, but had explored a fair amount of the second level and seen many strange sights and returned bloodied but alive.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Player Journals from Session 14

Caryatid's Diary
Dear diary,
Short crew again this adventure. Where the heck all is Ylil?!? Not a word. Just disappeared. Better bring me a souvenir from Whereversville. Or at least a really good story. Anyway, Wilson is always good company, he came along; his lumberjacking skills are not really useful in the dungeons below the city but he can hold a lantern as well as anyone.

We heard a rumor about an underground sea where a witch lives on an island who is willing to barter for magical items. Sounds sketchy to me. Anyway, that dwarf of few words came along, Gallbladder Stoneblockage, and a new friend: an elf named Everclear MistySomeThingOrOther. She was nice enough and paid her own way but clearly had never adventured below the city before, if anywhere.  She was good company but tired more quickly than the rest of us and returned to the surface before we were quite done.

We ran into a small band of goblins that were, for a lack of a better term, not unfriendly. We then travelled on to the area where all the temple ruins are and inspected one we hadn’t been inside before. The best way to describe it would be to call it a temple of Hedonism. There were several statues, and some kind of motto on the wall that none of us could read, and some fountains running with funky shimmering water. Not long after discovering that, we discovered those poor gnomes! It was awful, probably the worst thing I had ever seen! Their tiny little bodies shredded and strewn about like so much dirty laundry, all done by one evil shrew. Well we dispatched of that creature, and rescued Plumperstiltskin, he was lucky to have found a place to hide from the slaughter. We helped carry those tiny gnome corpses back to Gnomelandvilletown. They were so grateful for our reverence and respect in their time of grief that they thanked us with a quite valuable garnet gem.

We left the gnomes to mourn and returned to the temple ruins. In the temple to Hedonism, in the back end of a hallway, we discovered a guarded entrance to the lower level. Going down we found a few empty, but obviously recently occupied, apartments and some barred doors, but we left when we heard what sounded like distant tribal drums and muffled grunting, although the grunting could easily have just been the dwarf, he grunts a lot.

We better be a well-armed group if we return there. Plus we’ll all need robes to get past the guard at the top of the stairs.

Journal of Tod P. Quasit for February 23
Three "meat" tacos at the Wicked Drum. I thought they smelled a bit funky. So very very ill. Can't move. Going to die.

Where was Jibber when I needed him? A riverboat overnight retreat for troubled and disturbed youths with speech impediments? That sounds completely made up. Hope it was worth it. I'm leaving a note blaming him for my murder.

Idalium Game 14: That Old Time Religion

Session date: Monday, February 23, 2015
Game date: Saturday, February 23, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 2202/4400
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 3221/5000

Twiffle, Elf 1, hp 1, xp 1077/4000
Wilson, Thief 1, hp 1, xp 586/1200
"Let us pray with Aphrodite
 Let us pray with Aphrodite
 She wears that see-through nightie
 And it's good enough for me!" - Arlo Guthrie & Pete Seeger
This week we again down to two players, this time due to food poisoning! Gulleck and Caryatid's retainers Rutger and Ylil had both failed their morale checks after the last session and were off carousing somewhere, so Twiffle and Wilson were brought back into service. ("Hello, Gulleck. I'm feeling much better from the centipede bites now, thank you very much. A little 'get well soon' card would have been appreciated.") We also had a guest player for part of this session. Caryatid's player's daughter was interested in the game, so we helped her roll up a PC, an elf named Everglow Mistwave. She bailed out to do her homework halfway through, but it was fun to introduce this rather antique game to a new generation.

The party of five descended into the ancient city of Idalium, this time heading towards the street of temples, to explore some of the areas they had not yet been to. When they arrived in the grand avenue of temples, they stumbled upon a group of three goblins, ugly little creatures dressed in stained and tattered clothes and wielding rusty, pitted swords. These goblins were busy dragging some goblin corpses out of the temple of healing (those would be the goblins the PCs killed two weeks ago). A reaction roll came up with an "enthusiastic friendship" result of 12, and these goblins turned out to be almost disturbingly jovial. They pointed and snickered at Gulleck's lavender hair. "Look at that little fat human's purple hair!!" "Uh, you mean dwarf?" "Don't be silly! No self-respecting dwarf would have purple hair!" The goblins invited the party to visit them downstairs at the Goblin Market. They said a truce was respected by all the denizens of the dungeon, and all were welcome to trade. Their welcoming attitude did seem to come off as slightly sinister, though. They said the Market was beyond the caverns to the east. The party bid them farewell and let them move off into the darkness, dragging their slain kin behind them.

Across the hall from the temple of medicine was another ornate marble temple facade. This entrance showed decorative carvings depicting bounty and luxury: cornucopias, bundles of wheat stalks, cherubs flanking the entrance, etc. Twiffle managed to heave the heavy marble doors open, and the party entered a sort of vestibule. Another set of double doors was directly across from them, leading deeper into the temple, and to the left and right, at the ends of the vestibule were statues of a man and a woman. Both had a very classical beauty to them, and stood with welcoming, inviting expressions on their graceful faces. They wore flowing robes, like togas. Gulleck did a quick search around the statues, and was pleased to find a burlap sack hidden behind the statue of the man, containing several hundred silver coins. Everglow had to return to the surface world for some reason at this point, so she took her leave of the rest of the party and retraced her steps back to the Rusty Lantern.

Passing through the double doors into the main temple, the party found themselves in a large, roughly circular room. The walls were covered in peeling frescoes showing scenes of people wearing togas enjoying an epicurean feast, listening to musicians, and enjoying life. Words in Ancient Idalian stretched across the eastern wall, upon a door leading deeper yet into the temple, but with Tyrriel and Wilhelm absent, nobody could read the words. The room was filled with wooden pews - actually more like chaise longues,  padded with once-luxurious velvet upholstery that was now tattered and mildewed. In the center of the room was a large stone disc, on which stood a pair of statues. They looked like the man and woman from the vestibule, but here they stood back to back with interlocked hands at their thighs. These statues, too, were garbed in togas, but their robes were slightly disarrayed, falling down off their shoulders and revealing somewhat more flesh than one might expect in a temple. The disc and the statues were revolving slowly, turning in a full circle over the course of about a minute.

After taking this strange temple in, the group moved through the door on the east wall, which led to a hallway ending in an ornate wooden archway, beyond which they could see stairs leading down. Blocking the archway was yet another statue, but this one seemed to be made of glass or crystal or quartz of some kind. Gulleck crept up to it and prodded its chest, only to jump back as it sprang to life, moving quickly into an aggressive fighting posture. After the adventurers stepped back away from the statue, it returned to its impassive position at guard in front of the stairs.

There were doors on either side of this hallway, and the group opened the northern door and found a robing room, full of wardrobes, cubbies, coat hooks, etc. A door to the east was ajar, and when the group investigated they discovered a horrible scene: three gnomes lay dead on the floor of a bathroom, their throats savagely ripped out, blood staining their whimsical tunics and caps and spilling onto the floor. The clawfoot bathtub was filled with shredded garments and fabric, and from it came a hissing, spitting rodent - a giant shrew! With astonishing ferocity, it leapt at Twiffle's throat. His gorget protected him as it furiously scrabbled at him with its claws. He flung it to the floor and Gulleck moved in to hack at it with his axe, but it was nimble, and dodged his attacks and bit at Gulleck's leg. The players were on edge, remembered the very early death of Brother Mookie, but soon Gulleck and Twiffle found their openings and the shrew was dispatched.

After a moment to catch their breath, the group checked out the door on the other side of the hall. This led to another robing room, although here they saw a few modern garments as well - cloaks hanging on hooks, a couple of caps, etc. Just like the other room, there was a door on the east wall. This one was closed and behind it Gulleck heard someone sobbing. He decided to knock lightly.

"Who's there!?" squeaked a distraught voice. "It's Gulleck." "Oh, Gulleck, thank goodness it's you!" Gulleck opened the door to find the gnome Pluck Fimple, red-eyed from crying. He had been leading an exploration team of gnomes when they were attacked by the giant shrew. His companions were killed horribly, and he had become overwhelmed with fear from its ferocity and fled to this bathroom.

Gulleck assured Pluck that they would help return the bodies of the gnomes back to the gnomes' house in the mines. They recovered the bodies, and Pluck led the way through the back alleys of the city and the mines of the knockers until they found their way to the house that the gnomes were still using as their base of operations. The usually cheerful gnomes were deeply sobered at the sight of their comrades, but Tom Pipkin was grateful to Gulleck for his help, and bestowed a violet garnet upon him in gratitude for the ongoing friendship between them.

After paying their respects with the gnomes, the group returned to the temple and set to working out how to get past the crystal statue and down the stairs. Someone struck upon the idea of wearing the togas from the robing room, and they discovered that when they approached the statue wearing these robes, it stepped to the side to let them pass.

The stairs took them down, turning as they did so, and they could feel the air becoming cooler and damper as they descending into the earth. At the bottom of the stairs a short hallway led to a sturdy wooden door. Twiffle pushed the door open, and they entered a large round room cluttered with couches, love seats, and futon-type beds. Peeling frescoes on the walls depicted beautiful young people frolicking, drinking wine, and engaging in extremely lurid scenes of "physical indulgence". Plush curtains draped off more private "boudoirs" in the four diagonal directions from the room. All showed signs of recent habitation: ashes in braziers, modern garments tossed across furniture, residue of scented oils and incense in burner pots, etc.

In the center of the main room stood two fountains, decorated with marble statues. Closer to the door they entered from was a statue of a young maiden, her toga falling down around her waist. She held a pitcher over her head and a strange pinkish and shimmery liquid splashed down from it into the trough of the fountain. On the opposite side of the room, statues of similarly topless male and female youths embraced each other provocatively, while their free hands lifted pitchers that comingled their waters as they poured them into the fountain. This water also had a strange sheen to it. Gulleck took a sample of this water in his wineskin, but no one was bold enough to sample either of the fountains' liquid.

The group explored the temple basement further, finding various rooms - bathrooms, changing rooms, a lounge, a study. In the study they found papers written in Common that seemed to be research notes on the rites and rituals of this ancient religion devoted to hedonism and indulgence. In all of these rooms they found signs of recent habitation, but they met no one.

Hallways led from the main room to the west and north, ending in sturdy doors barred from the inside with a sturdy plank. It was getting late, so they turned to go back upstairs, and as they did they became aware of the sound of distant pounding drums coming through the closed door to the west. The drums rose and fell in intensity, and along with them it seemed the group could hear guttural cries and grunts, following the drums in intensity. Exchanging grim looks with each other, the adventurers quickly retreated up the stairs, and back to the Rusty Lantern tavern.

Not much treasure for the PCs on this delve, but they ventured down to the second level of the dungeon for the first time!