Monday, September 14, 2015

Idalium Game 32: Ape! Ape! Ape! Ape!

Session date: Monday, August 24, 2015
Game date: Saturday, June 15, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 2, hp 10, xp 4209/4400
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 5040/10000
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 14, xp 5040/10000

Gaspar, Fighter 1, hp 3, xp 804/2000

Today's delve sought to continue the exploration of the abandoned wizard's quarters on the second level. Again, we had a short roster (foreshadowing: and it was about to get shorter!). At the end of the last adventure, Caryatid (both of them, actually!) had gained enough experience to achieve 3rd level. Caryatid the magic-user is now officially the toughest PC in the party (except of course for the slight issue of having an armor class of 9). Caryatid chose Phantasmal Force as her new 2nd level spell. This spell requires a lot of creativity, and negotiation with the DM on how to rule on the outcome, but it seems like it will really lend itself to a lot of interesting situations that can send the game off in all sorts of unexpected directions. I look forward to seeing it in use.

Down into the dungeon the Infestation Managers descended, but before they got down to the second level of the dungeon, they ran into a pack of undead skeletons, the result of my random dungeon restocking between sessions. Skeletons are weak, but still bad news in Classic D&D: they always attack on sight and never fail morale. The group had no cleric today, making the situation worse. Gulleck and Gaspar stood in the doorway and prepared to meet the charge, and then farcical tragedy struck. "Green Caryatid" (the one that emerged from the pool of rebirth) rolled a 1 while trying to throw a dagger at the skeletons, and then rolled "well" on her subsequent attack roll, and high on her damage roll. Gaspar gasped in shock as Caryatid's dagger plunged into the back of his neck, and then collapsed to the floor with a rattling gurgle.

"Oops," offered Caryatid.

The skeletons pushed inward, trampling Gaspar's lifeless body and scratching viciously at Caryatid. Gulleck swung his magic axe and took the skull of one skeleton, but there were clearly too many. Reluctantly abandoning the body of their comrade Gaspar, the party retreated out of the room, slammed the door shut, and ran as fast as they could back to the rope ladder that led back to the Rusty Lantern tavern.

Not the most auspicious beginning for a session.

The group rested for a couple days to heal their wounds, and Gulleck made some rounds looking for a replacement for Gaspar. He ended up hiring a rather dim but sturdy fighter, whom they nicknamed "Meat". A random name generator gave him the actual name of "Manley". Oh, great, "Manley Meat", our inner 12-year-olds will never stop sniggering at that.

With their new henchman in tow, the group descended back into the dungeons of Idalium. The room they had fled was now vacant of skeletons and the remains of Gaspar, and they descending down to the second level. In the temple of hedonism, they found that abandoned leftover meat had attracted a hoard of dirty rats, swarming over the beds and sofas. They tried to creep past the rats, but the rats took an aggressive turn, and swarmed around the ankles and legs of the PCs, nipping and biting. After Gulleck and Meat slashed a few of them apart, the rest took flight, and the rats never even got to use their signature move of dragging their opponents down to the ground. :-(

The PCs decided to take another route to the wizard's apartment, passing what they suspected to be the lair of the orcs that live on this level. Two orcs stood guard at an intersection glaring at the PCs, and the party lucked out (maybe) and one of the orcs was the very same orc that had befriended Gulleck months ago under the influence of the magical waters of the temple of hedonism. Although Graggle no longer held the same devotion for Gulleck as he once did, he retained enough good will to cut the orcs' toll from 50 gold pieces down to 30.

In an effort to avoid the toll, the group attempted to explore the weird permanently dark room across the hall from the orcs' lair. The room was full of a pitch blackness that even Gulleck's infravision could not penetrate. Gulleck took one end of a length of rope and carefully explored the dark room. The room was pervaded by a cold, foreboding feeling, and the orc guards had looked alarmed as Gulleck entered. He could feel old broken-up furniture like benches or pews. Gulleck traced the wall, and just as he reached a doorway that led out of the room, he came to the end of his rope. Annoyed, he retraced his steps back to the hall, they paid the orcs' toll, and proceeded to the wizards' apartment.

From the sitting room with its eternally-flickering illusion of a fire, the group headed east, finding themselves in a library. The walls were lined with bookshelves, and on the south wall, one bookshelf had been swung away from the wall, revealing a secret room beyond it. Unfortunately, it had long been plundered, and nothing of value remained in the secret study beyond. The books in the library were mostly general interest books (histories, botanical references, etc.) rather than the magical grimoires that Caryatid hoped to find. Regardless, the group sacked up a dozen of the books in the best condition, and returned to the sitting room.

They attempted to go north to explore a hall they hadn't got to last time, but the door was stubborn and Gulleck made a colossal amount of noise trying to force it open. As he finally opened it and they began to proceed northward, they heard a familiar sardonic voice behind them.

"My goodness, Gulleck, we could hear you all the way up and down the hall outside. Try to be a bit more quiet, will you?" It was Shorty "the Mouse", the leader of a rival party ("Shorty's Sirens") with whom the PCs are friendly. The two parties bantered back and forth a bit, and then bid a cheery farewell.

"Try to make less noise on the way out!" called Shorty over her shoulder, laughing as she left. And then there were screams. And the shrieks and howls of some sort of beasts. The Infestation Managers hastily ran back into the sitting room to find Shorty's Sirens under assault by nine large, savage, ferocious baboons. They were wielding broken femurs as clubs, and biting with sharp yellow fangs.

The battle raged. The savage apes were battle-crazed, and Shorty's group was in disarray, being caught offguard and out of formation. Shorty was surrounded by two baboons, and fell with a scream as one sank its teeth into her neck. Talia, her leather-clad thief, was also brought down by a femur to the head. The PCs rushed to aid in the battle. Meat fought the baboons that had killed Shorty, and Gulleck fought bravely against two more. The two Caryatids made good use of their unerring magic missile spells. "Psycho" Sally, the high-strung hobbit, carved baboons up and down with her short sword, giggling hysterically all the while.

Finally, all was still. The room was strewn with the filthy and blood-spattered corpses of the apes, as well as those of Shorty and Talia.

"There's this pool..." began Gulleck.
"Yes, we know of it," replied Father Cedric, the only male member of the Sirens. "But none of us have dared enter it."
"Well, I think now is the time."

So the survivors of Shorty's Sirens carefully lifted their deceased comrades and carried them through the halls of the dungeon to the room of the pool of rebirth. One at a time Shorty and Talia were undressed (Father Cedric turned his back, looking so red that it seemed he would burst afire) and lowered into the pool, emerging moments later completely healed and revitalized. "You can turn back around now, Ced!" smirked Shorty.

"Gulleck, you saved my life. Take this as a token of appreciation for you guys," said Shorty, removing a gold and emerald bracelet from her wrist and handing it to Gulleck.
"Well, thank you, Shorty. Your group have been good friends to us as well. It's the least we could do."

While this sweet exchange was taking place, "Psycho" Sally had been eyeing the pool and now jumped in  fully armored with a splash ("Cannonball!"). She clambered back out, looking more hale and hearty than ever (with a permanent +1 bonus to Constitution). And then, shortly afterwards, another Sally climbed out of the pool as well, in identical armor and weaponry.

They goggled at each other.
"No way!" they exclaimed together.
"This is totally awesome! I've always wanted a twin!"

"Yeah, that's how I felt at first, sweetheart," said the original Caryatid in blue. "It isn't quite as cool as I expected," she mused with a suspicious look at the green-clad Caryatid.

Gulleck acquired enough experience on this delve to achieve third level, matching Caryatid in hit points. He has been biding his time, hoping to acquire enough experience and gold to embark on an expedition through the wilderness to his ancestral Dwarven home, where he hoped to bury the bones of his grandfather. So it may be in the future that we bid the megadungeon farewell for a little while, and experience a harrowing journey through the unpatrolled wilderness. We shall see where the adventure leads.