Sunday, August 23, 2015

Idalium Game 30: Take Me to the River

Session date: Monday, August 10, 2015
Game date: Saturday, June 1, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 1, hp 5, xp 1592/2000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 3904/4400
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 3309/4000
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 10, xp 4717/5000
Caryatid, Magic-user 2, hp 10, xp 4717/5000

Brother Jibber, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1464/1500
Gaspar, Fighter 1, hp 3, xp 651/2000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1386/2500

Today we had the full crew of four regular players (Vito's player has had all his free time crushed out of him by a new job, though we hope to eventually see him again someday). Having discovered the Goblin Market last session, the group now turned their focus to exploring some of the northern areas of the second level. They had a scrap of a treasure map from the gnomes, though it didn't really tell them how to find it, just how to recognize it when they stumbled upon it.

Down into the dungeon and along well-trodden paths they went. As always, I roll after each session to restock the dungeon rooms previously visited, and they had a few speed bumps on the way down to the second level. In a robing room behind the temple with the basin of blood, they encountered half a dozen skeletons. Tod swiftly took the skull off of one with his sword, and Brother Jibber's earnest exhortations repelled the skeletons far enough that the others could pelt them with slings and arrows until they moved no more. Then, slightly further along, in the vestibule of the Temple of Hedonism, they found two dessicated knocker corpses on the floor. Gulleck cautiously stepped forward and was pounced on by a giant crab spider! Three more of the venomous beasts emerged from behind the statues that flank the entrance. Tyrriel put two of them to a deep magical sleep, and Caryatid used her wand to instill a frenzied fear into another. It had nowhere to run except back behind a statue, where it and the others were destroyed easily. The wand of fear has been very useful and the players are a bit nervous about what they will do when its power is finally consumed.

Down to the second level they went. They headed west from the Temple of Hedonism, past the room with the pool of rebirth, and turning north. They walked past a door that led to a room of unnatural darkness, and past a crevice in the left wall, where a continuous trickle of smoke carried an exotic spicy aroma up a chimney in the natural rock. They listened at a door where Tyrriel heard a low droning buzz, and no one wanted to go in to find out if it was giant bees or something else.

Farther north they explored. A door on the left led to an old bathhouse. In the middle of a 30' square room, a large pool lay covered in murky, scum-topped water. Old crumbling mosaics on the wall depicted nymphs frolicking gaily. The party considered the water of the pool with some skepticism. Tod assembled his ten foot pole (it collapses into three pieces) and dragged the pole across the bottom of the pool. The pool was perhaps three feet deep, and near the center, Tod felt the pole hit something that felt yielding but heavy. It couldn't be moved with the pole, so Tod decided to wade into the pool and retrieve it by hand.

The cold, scummy water chilled his legs as he strode into the pool. The thing in the middle of the pool turned out to be a rotting leather satchel full of coins. As Tod looked up to tell the news to the rest of the party, who were anxiously watching him, his eyes widened as he saw the mosaic on the far wall seem to come to life! The alluring nymphs seemed to twist and warp before his very eyes, until they looked like malevolent nixies with seaweed for hair. The nixies beckoned Tod to join them in the water, and he suddenly found himself overcome with a horrible compulsion to lay down in the water. Water filled his nose and mouth, but the urge to breathe seemed to have lost its usual urgency.

The party all yelled at each other at once, trying to decide what to do, but in the end Tyrriel quickly waded into the pool to grab Tod's body from the bottom of the pool. She too saw the beckoning nixies, but was able to withstand the compulsion that nagged at her mind. Tod was heavy, but she was able to lift his face above the water and drag him to the edge of the pool. He was still clutching the leather sack, which turned out to contain several hundred gold and silver coins. After spending some time to allow Tod to cough up the cold and dank water from his lungs and catch his breath, the group moved on, exploring further north along the long common hallway.

A tarnished brass plaque next to a door read (in Ancient Idalian), "Lorinthus, Centurion, 4th Century, 6th Cohort". Tod pushed the door open and the group found themselves in a short interior hallway with three doors leading off it. Through the left door they found what was once an exercise room, full of rusted athletic equipment, including a mildewed and tattered punching bag hanging from the ceiling by a chain. Tod gave it a punch and was surprised to hear the unmistakable clink of coins. Gulleck's axe tore through the seam on the side and hundreds of silver coins spilled out of the bag. They shook their heads once again at the oddity of the Ancient Idalians (as they collected the coins).

Beyond this room they found a nearly bare bedchamber, decorated in a very spartan and martial manner. There was nothing of value in this room, but beyond an open doorway they could see what looked to be a room full of trophies of wall. Battered shields and broken weapons were mounted on the walls, and a life-sized statue of a man worn a beautiful, still-shiny suit of plate armor, including a helmet with a dyed crest of horse hair. The statue was of a dull metal, possibly iron, and had merely the suggestion of a face and was not a likeness of any particular person.

Gulleck stepped forward to investigate the statue and was surprised when it leapt into motion, drawing back its immense iron fists to attack him. It pounded him again and again, leaving heavy dents in his shield as he ducked behind it to avoid the onslaught. Tod and the others were unable to land a blow on the statue, but Caryatid sent two Magic Missiles into its iron torso and it staggered backwards and came to the a halt on one knee, the animating principle seemingly gone from its now inert body. Tod carefully removed the fancy suit of plate armor from the inert statue, and strapped in on in place of his own. Some of the retainers were enlisted to carry out the pieces of his old armor for later resale.

(As a DM, I used to think the Magic Missile spell was kind of weak compared to other spells like Sleep or Charm Person, but I have to say, the ability to always hit is incredibly useful, especially in a "swingy" system like B/X D&D where finishing a fight as soon as possible is always in your best interest. Caryatid has been absolutely crucial in defeating several "boss" type encounters singlehandedly, and we all have a definite appreciation for the Magic Missile spell now!)

Further up the same hall to the north, the party investigated an apartment decorated with a definite maritime theme. Mosaics and frescoes depicted fish and fishermen, etc. Beyond a closed door they found a bedroom where seven bandits were standing around discussing a large stuffed and mounted bass. They went through the roof when the door burst open behind them, and drew swords and screamed at the party to leave. Tod pulled the door shut again, and then called, "How much do you want for that fish?"

There was a sudden silence, and then a more subdued voice replied, "How much you offerin'?"

Gulleck asked, "Depends. Does it sing or something?"

Silence again, and then from behind the door came a warbling, off-key rendition of some old song: "I wanna know, can you help me, I love to staaaaaay..."

Nobody fell for that. Eventually Tod paid the bandits 20 gold darics for the fish, for novelty value alone, I guess. The bandits suspiciously crept out of the bedroom, handed over the fish, and bolted for the hallway.

Burdened by a large stuffed bass but keen to explore a bit more, they trekked farther north. They found a room marked by a sign that read, "Hotel Lethia - Office". Inside were a half dozen stirges, the grotesque mix of bird, bat, and insect hanging from the ceiling. Wilhelm wasted no time in putting the lot of them to sleep, and they were dispensed with. This room was, as advertised, a hotel reception room and office. In a drawer in the desk they found another pair of the magical spectacles that could translate Ancient Idalian writing.

Across the hall from the office they found an ornate door. A brass plaque to the side read, "Hotel Lethia", but the door itself was an ominous sight. What looked like wax-soaked rags had been stuffed into the cracks between the door and the jamb and floor, and a big red "X" had been painted across it.

"Yeah... nope!" deadpanned Gulleck, and the group decided to call it a night and hightail it back to the tavern.

It had been a moderately lucrative delve, and Tod had acquired a fancy new suit of armor. Brother Jibber had gained enough experience to achieve level 2! Of course, the irony is that now that he exceeds Tod's level, he will have to go away on Church business until Tod reaches level 2 - we can't have retainers working for people of lower level than themselves! "Hey Tod, you wanna be my retainer now?" was the joke.

Brother Jibber's promotion is a big deal (he will be granted the authority to work miracles!) and we will play that out in a future session.

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