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.

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