Sunday, June 21, 2015

Idalium Game 23: Comfortably Numb

Session date: Monday, June 1, 2015
Game date: Saturday, April 6, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 2593/4400
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 8, xp 3621/5000

Gaspar, Fighter 1, hp 3, xp 0/2000
Ylil, Thief 2, hp 5, xp 1284/2400

Another thin crowd on game night, so the Dynamic Duo of Gulleck and Caryatid set out on their own again. Well, not entirely on their own: Gulleck recruited Shorty "The Mouse" again, hoping to make use of her magic undead-slaying sword. Shorty was willing to join the team again, but this time asked for an upfront minimum payment of 1,000 silver shekels (since the last time was a complete bust in the treasure department). Gulleck also hired a new retainer to replace the tragically lost Rutger: a fighter named Gaspar, of rather ordinary strength but unusually nimble.

Back to the catacombs they went, in the grudging service of the horrible necromancer Gregor Snapespindle, whose wrath they did not wish to incur. On the way they met a group of nervous gnomes. The gnomes were high-strung because, as they told the party once they settled down, they had barely escaped with their lives from an enormous slug-like monster. They said its lair was strewn with thousands of coins and also a very shiny battleaxe, but when they went in to collect the treasure, the horrible beast emerged from a hole and nearly devoured them. They gave Gulleck some vague directions to the lair, and the two groups went on their way.

Gulleck and Caryatid wanted to doublecheck the records room they found in the caretaker's quarters. They were hoping to find some sort of reference to "The Hero's Tomb" or the map that the enciphered scroll had referred to. They made their way to the caretaker's quarters, and Gulleck carefully opened the door and looked in. In their absence, the room had been filled with gigantic sticky webs, and a giant glistening black spider across the room turned towards the door and began striding across the floor towards them.

Gulleck attempted to quickly close the door, but the spider was too quick for him. It rammed its head and part of its body into the doorway. Alas, I rolled a natural 20 for the spider's attack roll, and the venomous fangs of the black widow pierced deeply into Gulleck's arm. Gulleck's player chose to roll the big green d30 for his saving throw, but even with those odds (and his exceptional dwarven saving throws) he failed his save vs. poison! He was a dead man walking, but not down yet.

Gulleck plunged Shorty's magical sword into the spider's head before it could bite again, but the damage was already done. Gulleck limped with the rest of the party back out of the catacombs. No one was sure what they could do to save him, but the question was rendered moot, for just as they made their way back up the stairs leading out of the catacombs, Gulleck dropped to his knees, foaming at the mouth, and then collapsed against a wall, blue in the face and breathing no more.

Caryatid and Ylil picked up Gulleck's body between the two of them and the group moved as quickly as they could through the buried streets of Ancient Idalium to the temple of hedonism, where they knew they could pass through to the mystical pool that could revive the dead. They made their way uneventfully to the temple, but when they got to the hallway that led to the staircase down the second level they discovered that the crystal guardian statue had reformed! (It had been shattered by unknown persons the last time they were here.) There was a brief debate over who, if anyone, still had the robes of the temple that would allow them passage, but then Caryatid got tired of dithering and simply blasted the statue with magic missiles, shattering it into tiny fragments.

They made it to the pool without mishap, and they lowered Gulleck into the slippery waters. A few anxious moments passed, and then the dwarf's arms came splashing above the surface, and they pulled him out. He was ruddy of complexion again, and the wound in his arm had completely disappeared. Gulleck felt better than he had in months (since the last time he had taken a dip in this pool, to be precise!).

Now that that was sorted out, the party headed back again to the catacombs. They moved carefully through the halls, but disturbed the rest of a dozen skeletons, which chased the party through the halls until they ran into the caretaker's quarters and slammed the door shut behind them. They found the records room, but without anyone who could read Ancient Idalian, they were unable to made heads or tails of the obscure filing system.

Abandoning this line of inquiry, Gulleck suggested they pursue the treasure the gnomes had told them about. It had been so very long since the party had acquired any significant amount of treasure! It seemed the skeletons had lost interest and wandered off or returned to their rest, so the group set out again, heading west. They passed through more narrow catacomb halls lined with funerary niches, and into smoothly carved stone corridors with occasional elegantly carved mausoleum doors. ("The upscale side of the catacombs, I see!") Eventually, they came to an intersection where a hall to the west produced a terrible foul odor of active rot and decay. Creeping along the hall, they found it to open up into a room filled with rotting corpses, scraps of meat, vegetable matter, and other less identifiable debris. On the floor glittered thousands of copper and silver coins, and a shiny battleaxe glimmered in the lantern light.

But as the group entered the doorway, a freakish creature emerged from a burrow on the opposite side of the room. It resembled an enormous caterpillar or grub or centipede, with dozens of legs, but it was roughly three feet in diameter and at least nine feet long! Its faceted insectile eyes stared blankly at the adventurers, and around its chewing mandibles was a ring of bizarre tentacle-like growths, waving hungrily towards its prey. It moved with remarkable speed, crawling up onto the wall and ceiling and it scurried towards the adventurers.

Gulleck and Gaspar held their ground in the doorway as the horrible beast approached. Shorty managed to nick the thing's carapace with an arrow shot from over Gulleck's head, but it kept coming. It lunged at Gulleck, and multiple tentacles wrapped around the flesh of his arm and face. He felt a cold stinging sensation, and then suddenly his entire body went limp and numb, and yet again he slumped down onto the dirty dungeon floor.

Caryatid drew forth the magical wand they had discovered in the hall of records some weeks ago. She stepped forward past Shorty to point the wand at the crawling horror and released the power within the gnarled stick. The beast reared back in panic, and then, moving faster than ever, it scurried back along the wall and into its burrow, its long bulk wriggling into the wall and vanishing from sight.

Caryatid poured oil around the entrance to its burrow and lit it on fire, in the hopes of further discouraging the creature's return. The adventurers then turned their efforts towards scooping as many coins as possible into their backpacks. There were clearly too many coins to carry out in one trip, but they gathered as many as they could fit. Most of the coins were just copper bits, but they were mingled with the silver and there was no time to try to pick out only the more valuable coins. Gulleck regained control over his body about twenty minutes later, and took up the shiny battleaxe, beautifully made and clearly of dwarven craftsmanship! It was perfectly balanced in Gulleck's hand, and he looked forward for a chance to put it to the test.

Having gathered as many coins as possible, the party quickly fled this stinking room and made their way back out of the catacombs. Just as they got near the stairs out, a group of hideous undead monstrosities heaved their way out of the catacomb niches in front of them, and the air was filled with the sickly sweet stench of the ghouls. The adventurers flinched, ready for combat, but the ghouls seemed to recognize Gulleck and Caryatid, and stepped aside, allowing them to pass, even while snarling and hissing at them.

"What the heck was that?" said Shorty after they had emerged at the top of the stairs leading out of the crypts. "Why didn't they attack us?"
"Uh, I don't know," lied Gulleck.
"Maybe it's that new axe," suggested Caryatid. "Who knows what powers it has?"
"Oh, maybe," said Shorty, a bit doubtful.

Gulleck was in no hurry to reveal to his friend and rival that he was in fact working for an evil necromancer. But Shorty didn't push the issue, and they made it back to the Rusty Lantern without further issue.

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