Friday, March 13, 2015

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.

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