Saturday, March 7, 2015

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!

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