Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Idalium Game 21: Friendly Fire

Session date: Monday, April 27, 2015
Game date: Monday, March 25, 208 to Thursday, March 28, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 2546/4400
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 3576/5000
Vito Aneti, Thief 2, hp 10, xp 1491/2400

Rutger, Fighter 1, hp 9, xp 601/2000
Ylil, Thief 2, hp 5, xp 1261/2400
Brother Jedidiah, Cleric 1, hp 1, xp 24/1500

After a day of rest so that Brother Jedidiah could assist with Sunday services at the Great Cathedral, some of the Infestation Managers regrouped as usual at the Rusty Lantern tavern. A few days ago in game time, Gulleck had left a message for Shorty "The Mouse", the leader of one of the NPC parties that the PCs were generally friendly with. Gulleck hoped to recruit her help especially because of the magical sword she had purchased at the auction, engraved as it was with skeletal designs. Shorty had received the message, and agreed to accompany the group for a full share of treasure and first dibs on any magical items that they might find. With Shorty temporarily joining their ranks, the group descended into the dungeon and quickly made their way to the temple of death, intent on finding Gregor Snapespindle and recovering the stolen brazen head.

When they arrived at the plaza of the temple of death, they found a group of nervous men gazing anxiously at two of the statues of weeping angels, which were bent over a body on the ground of the plaza. When the men heard the approach of the party, they whipped around in fear, drawing their swords in panic.

"Back off," one of the bandits exclaimed. "This is our headquarters now! Find your own place!"

Gulleck was completely unimpressed. "You guys are complete idiots. Do you realize there's a guy raising an army of the dead underneath there?"

"You can't fool us!" The bandits thought they had a handle on what was going on. "Hey, it's those guys the Night Walkers warned us about. Cobweb said they played dirty tricks!"

"If you guys are taking advice from the Night Walkers, you are in way over your heads!" Gulleck and Vito continued to harangue and mock the naive bandits. And then Caryatid said something particularly rude, and one of the bandits yelled, "We'll cut those words out of your mouth!", and then the mob of them charged, screaming.

"Oh, for God's sake," sighed Gulleck. He and Rutger attempted to defend themselves against the bandits without inflicting lethal force in return. But Gulleck was viciously wounded by the sword of a paranoid bandit, and blood trickled down his left arm.

Behind him, Brother Jedidiah drew forth his sling and stone with quivering hand. "Repent, sinners!" he shrieked, and let a stone fly unerring into the knee of one of the bandits fighting Rutger. The bandit howled in agony, dropping to the ground and rolling in pain, clutching his shattered knee. Vito wounded another bandit with a crossbow bolt, and Brother Jedidiah sent another vicious stone across the fray, cracking across the pate of yet another bandit and dropping him senseless to the ground.

The remaining bandits turned tail and fled back towards the temple. "Really?" shouted Gulleck. "You're really gonna run into there?"

The wounded bandit told them, between whimpers, that the Night Walkers had struck a deal with them where the bandits could have the temple as their hideout from which to launch burglaries and thefts, as long as the Night Walkers were allowed safe passage through the temple.

Gulleck sighed and prepared to enter the temple to drag out the remaining two or three bandits who had fled. With the party behind him, he entered the temple vestibule and called out, "Now come on, we don't want a fight, just come out and let's talk about it." He opened the inner doors to the temple and cautiously moved in, looking around. Suddenly, the original bandits plus a larger group of men came charging from two directions - "There they are! Get 'em!" - with swords drawn and rage on their faces. Gulleck and Rutger were staggered by the furious attack. Gulleck's sleeve, already stained with his blood from the earlier attack, turned dark with his blood as a sword bit into his shoulder. Unprepared for the intensity of this fight, Gulleck and Rutger pulled the door shut again, with the mocking laughter of the bandits echoing behind the door.

"All right," said Gulleck, "you wanna play that way..." and he pulled out hammer and iron spikes and began spiking the door shut. Vito ran a length of rope between the handles of the temple doors and tied them tightly shut.

They took the wounded bandit with them back to the surface and handed him over to the master of the Thieves' Guild, and then spent a couple of days resting, to allow Gulleck and Rutger's wounds to begin to heal.

When the group reconvened on Thursday morning, Shorty again accompanied them into the dungeon. They made their cautious way down to the temple of the dead again, and noted with some concern that the weeping angel statues had now vanished entirely from the plaza. The group approached the temple doors with caution, and saw that their ropes now lay on the floor in fragments, and a piece of paper was tacked to the doors. "To 'The Rat Catchers'", read the salutation. It was from Death Watch and Cobweb, the elf brothers who led the Night Walkers, and upbraided the party for interfering with their recent hires. The Night Walkers gave the party one last warning: interfere with them again and their rivalry would turn to outright war.

Vito felt that this had already happened, when the Night Walkers employed the bandits to ambush them, and decided to take matters firmly into his own hands. He set out two wineskins full of wine, one of them adulterated with a large quantity of everyday rat poison. He wrote his own note - "For the Night Walkers" and set it on top of the wineskins. Then the party passed into the temple of the dead and headed down into the catacombs.

They passed the nest of giant rats at the base of the steps, using flaming torches again to frighten the rats away as they passed them, and made their way to explore new areas of the catacombs. Eventually they found themselves at a heavy stone door with inscriptions in Ancient Idalian that declared it to be the  mausoleum of a wealthy family. There were scratches on the floor that suggested that this door had been opened and closed more often than one might hope for a mausoleum door. Rutger pulled the door open and the party cautiously entered a long hallway lined with alternating crypt doors.

They pushed open the first door and their noses were assailed by a familiar sickly sweet stench, and a hideous corpse-like creature turned towards them, dropped a bone it had been gnawing on, and leaped at them with ravenous hunger in its dead eyes. Gulleck and Rutger quickly brought the creature to senselessness, but the noise of the battle had drawn the attention of another half dozen of the ghouls, and the adventurers' stomachs sank as they heard the sound of multiple crypt doors creaking open along the hallway.

The party attempted an orderly fighting withdrawal, hoping to get back to the door and use the time-honored "close the door and run away" strategy. Gulleck and Rutger were scratched and bitten by the filthy ghouls, and a tremendous nearly-paralyzing fear coursed through their souls, but they both kept their cool and fought on. Gulleck and Rutger hacked away at the ghouls from the front, while the others looked for openings for arrow, bolt, and stone. Brother Jedidiah attempted to repel the horrible monsters, but his faith wavered and he turned to his sling with more effective results.

"Try this, Gulleck," came Shorty's voice from behind him, and she passed up her magical sword, engraved with skeletal patterns. As Gulleck's hand closed around the hilt, he could feel the magical power thrumming through his arm, and the sword quivered as if it longed to plunge towards the undead abominations. He lunged forward with it, his hand almost guided by the sword itself as it sank itself effortlessly into the chest of the beast in front of him.

"Shorty, your sword is awesome!"
"Yeah, I'll want it back after this, too."

The tide seemed to be turning for the party, but then Ylil made a terrible, terrible blunder. His player rolled a natural 1 for his sling attack. This is the only situation where I enforce a possibility of friendly fire, and I randomly determined the target of his attack among the three allies in front of him. Poor Brother Jedidiah was the unfortunately target, which was bad because old Jed only had one hit point. This time Ylil's player rolled nice and high for the attack, and as Brother Jedidiah was refilling his own sling to attack the ghouls, Ylil's sling stone cracked him in the back of the head from point blank range, fracturing his brittle skull and sending the old cleric crashing to the floor of the crypt.

The party managed to get clear of the mausoleum door and pushed it closed against the scrabbling claws of the ghouls. The mission now became to get Brother Jed's body down to the resurrection pool on the second level. I think they were concerned that the Church wouldn't loan them any more acolytes if they kept losing them. And so they quickly crossed the undercity to the temple of hedonism, passing through and down the corridor to the resurrection pool.

Right outside the door to the room of the pool, they encountered a group of tall goblins, including the two they had met before: Margleton and Clabberpus. They were as friendly as before, in that rather unnerving way. The party explained that they needed to use the pool, and Margleton said, "Oh, be our guest! But you do know, of course, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and for every gift there must eventually be a repayment." Some of the players are already suspicious about the long-term effects of this pool, and this did nothing to make them feel any better. But the goblins strolled off into the darkness chuckling sinisterly, and the party entered the room of the pool and lowered Brother Jedidiah's frail and bloodied body into the slippery water of life.

Moments later, his feeble arms came thrashing above the surface of the pool and they pulled him carefully out. I'm not sure if they ever explained to him what actually happened back there with the ghouls. Yet another (albeit temporary) entry on the Memorial Roll of the Idalium campaign.

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