Saturday, November 7, 2015

Idalium Game 35: Death from Above

Session date: Monday, October 19, 2015
Game date: Saturday, August 10, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 2254/4000
Tyrriel, Elf 1, hp 3, xp 3930/4000
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 6024/10000
Axel, Thief 1, hp 3, xp 720/1200

Brother Jibber, Cleric 2, hp 10, xp 1531/3000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 4, xp 1450/2500
Ylil, Thief 2, hp 5, xp 1701/2400

The previous session had started with some exposition of a quest for the party, but they never managed to actually get anywhere near the Eternal Flame that was rumored to exist in the caverns of level 2, north of the Goblin Market. Now, with a smaller group of players, they made another attempt to find the legendary flame, said to produce an Elixir of Life that could revive the dying Lord Dinsdale.

But first, now that Tod had regained second level and was able to retain Brother Jibber's services again (can't have a retainer be higher level than their employer!) we had a "flashback" scene to the elevation ceremony of Brother Jibber. In the Great Cathedral of Light, the Abbess Archura, a young woman with long strawberry blonde hair, bid Brother Jibber forth to kneel before her. She spoke of his exemplary service to the Church and the role he had yet to play in fighting back the forces of Chaos. "Brother Jibber, you have proven yourself a worthy member of our order. You are hereby invested with the power and right to perform miracles in the name of the All-Pervading Light." He was bestowed the rank of Deacon in the Church and a handsome silver holy symbol was placed around his neck.

(Even though Brother Jibber is merely an NPC henchman, you've gotta play up the transition from level 1 to level 2 cleric. It's such a huge deal to finally be able to cast spells!)

As they entered the Rusty Lantern tavern and made ready to descend into the Undercity, the talking head on the wall above the bar (dubbed "Headdie" by Gulleck) told them that Morlo, formerly of the Night Walkers, had come sheepishly into the tavern to empty the Night Walkers' vault in the cellar of equipment and treasure, and cross the Night Walkers off of the tavern "scoreboard". Their entry now read "Defunct - Defeated in a cowardly ambush by an insane dwarf". The Infestation Managers sniffed at the blatant inaccuracy of this recounting, but got on with their preparations unfazed.

They took their usual route through the first level of ruins, using the embroidered togas to pass by the crystal statue guarding the steps down to the second level. In the Temple of Hedonism, they discovered that a quartet of enormous lizards had made a nest of the pleasure den. One of them was lazily gnawing on the mangled and chewed corpse of a familiar elf. It was Death Watch, their hated rival whom they had allowed to run away after defeating his party last week. It was apparent that he had not made it out of the dungeon. A burlap sack lay on the floor near his hand.

Eyeing the four giant lizards warily, the group moved cautiously along the walls and slipped out of the room, heading north. They debated whether they should head east into the caverns and attempt the crossing of the rope bridge (time consuming or annoying) or tangle with the orcs who guarded the hallway to the north. The direct route through the orcs won out, and the party headed north to confront the bestial subhumans.

Two orcs stood in the hall in front of a crude metal gong and refused to let the party pass without paying a hefty toll. Tod was tired of being shaken down by these savage beastmen, and things got violent pretty quickly. Axel and Ylil scurried around them to try to lower the gong to the floor without a sound, and did so, but the orcs were rapidly overpowered and slain. The party hoped to avoid suspicion so they propped up the dead orcs, sitting against the wall. If nobody got too close, it might fool them for a while...

They moved on through a series of rooms that led to another way into the caverns, and found themselves in the room where they had battled the Night Walkers. They headed through the caves to the north, in search of the Goblin Market. Caryatid had been there once before, and gave directions according to her confusing and often incomplete maps. They clambered over uneven group in the caves, passing a cave with an eerie blue glow, and a cave where a dark sticky liquid seemed to weep from the walls. A number of giant cave locusts were clustered around the liquid, lapping at it. They ignored the liquid and the locusts, and headed east, into the Goblin Market.

Unlike the last time Caryatid had been here with Gulleck, the Market was empty and silent, except for the ticking of an imposing grandfather clock at the far south end of the hall. It had but one hand, which seemed to show the phases of the Moon. The three days surrounding the full moon were illustrated with a scene of the market in full swing, but they were about a week late. The tables were all pushed to the sides of the great hall with its crooked black and white checkerboard floor. The pens and cages at the north end stood empty as well, with only a slight animal smell lingering in the air.

To the north they went, into an unexplored region of the caves, trying to head north as the rumors suggested. Coming around a bend of a tight winding passage, they walked out into a more open space. All seemed calm, but then there was a sudden screeching and dark shapes dropped from the walls all around them. A horrible stench filled the air. It was unlike the sickly sweet putrifaction of the ghouls, but a stomach-turning pungence that nauseated several party members, who gagged and retched and had difficulty bringing their swords to bear on the creatures that had caught them by surprise.

Five bipedal reptilian creatures had leapt down among them. They had crests running down their heads and arms (which terminated in viciously clawed hands), and their coloration was a strange stony mottling that had blended in perfectly with the walls of the cave. Tyrriel, Wilhelm, and Ylil were pounced upon, and their screams filled the air as the horrible lizardlike creatures clawed and bit at them. Blood sprayed profusely, and the three unfortunates fell to the ground before they were even able to react.

Tod and Jibber did their best to form a line to protect Caryatid. Axel dropped into the shadows to get a clear bowshot at the horrible creatures. But they were outnumbered now, and the beasts pressed the attack. In desparation, Caryatid drew forth the crooked wand of fear, and released its power at the creatures. Three of them scrabbled away from her, and ran howling into the dark caverns to the north. Tod managed to slay another of the beasts, and Caryatid fired a magic missile into the last one and brought it down. She was dismayed to find that the wand, which had saved their lives on many an occasion, had suddenly turned ashy and crumbly and fell to pieces in her hand. So much for that.

So now the evening's plan had to change to getting Tyrriel, Wilhelm, and Ylil back to the pool of rebirth. Tod and Jibber carried Tyrriel between them, Axel and Caryatid got Wilhelm and Ylil into fireman's carries, and the group retraced their steps slowly and painfully. Thankfully, the two dead orcs were still propped against the wall where they left them, and they made it to the temple with the pool without incident. One by one, Tyrriel, Wilhelm, and Ylil were stripped out of their armor and backpacks and lowered into the shimmering, syrupy waters of the pool, emerging fully revived seconds later. Caryatid threw all reason aside and tried to take another dip herself, hoping to get another Constitution bonus I suppose, but alas, it had no effect on her the second time (as if one doppelganger is bad enough).

With the party fully revived, it was decided to return to the Rusty Lantern, although no treasure had been discovered. On the way, they decided to stop in the Temple of Chance, to give Axel the "opportunity" to spin the mighty Wheel of Fate. They carefully strapped him into the big wheel and then gave it a good spin. Axel whirled round and round on the circular table, gazing up at the dispassionate goddess of fate painted on the ceiling, who seemed to rotate with him. Eventually, the wheel came to a stop, and as Axel was unstrapped from the wheel he realized that all the gold in his belt pouch had vanished! Later on, when he got back to the Rusty Lantern, he discovered that a good portion of his money stored there was missing as well.

Wilhelm also wanted to try the wheel, so Tyrriel helped him on and gave him a spin. Nothing obvious happened to him, but as they were unbuckling him from the restraints, a half dozen enormous baboons suddenly charged into the room, hooting and shrieking, waving yellowed femurs above their heads. Tyrriel quickly spoke the words of the Sleep spell, and luckily all of the baboons slumped to the ground. A few were wearing some incongruously valuable trinkets - one had a jeweled necklace and had been wielding a golden scepter as a club, and another had a bronze medallion around its neck. This simple medallion was engraved with the word "Clarity", so they appropriated this as well for later investigation.

They passed through the Temple of Hedonism, avoiding the four lizards again, and headed upstairs and back to the Rusty Lantern. On the way they had a scuffle with some orcs, but nothing that Wilhelm's Sleep spell couldn't deal with handily.

Financially, the delve had been a bust until the encounter with the baboons, but the gold darics raised from liquidating the jewelry were worth enough experience points to enable Tyrriel the elf to finally achieve second level. A significant accomplishment for anyone playing an elf in Classic D&D! Axel, too, was getting quite close to second level, a testament to how fast thieves level compared to other classes.

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