Session date: Monday, October 26, 2015
Game date: Saturday, August 17, 208
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 2652/4000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 3, hp 15, xp 4723/8800
Brother Jibber, Cleric 2, hp 10, xp 1714/3000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 1, hp 9, xp 257/2000
Another week, another attempt to find the rumored elixir of life produced by an eternal flame in the caves north of the Goblin Market. As far as they had heard, Lord Dinsdale, the dying aristocrat who had hired them on this errand, was still clinging to life, and so the Infestation Managers regrouped once again at the Rusty Lantern tavern. We had an unusual player roster tonight, just Tod and Gulleck and their retainers. As they settled in with their maps and character sheets, comments went round the game table that pretty much everyone in this party had high hit points and good armor class, and they felt well equipped to bring the fight back to the hideous reptilian monsters from last week. Perhaps this turned out to be overconfidence later in the session.
They took their usual route into the Undercity, but as they pulled open a door that led to a robing room in the back of a temple, they came face to face with a group of strangely dressed figures. There were eight people; male or female, it was hard to tell. They wore black robes over plate armor, and worn bizarre animal masks over their faces. The one in the lead had a bird mask with a long curving bill, somewhat like a plague doctor's mask. Dark sticky blood was visible on some of their war hammers.
Gulleck and Tod cautiously attempted to greet the strange party, but they replied in rapid speech in a language no one understood. It seemed like both groups wanted to pass by the other, but both were nervous and cautious. Eventually, Gulleck made his intentions understood, and the masked figure waved its arm briskly at the door across the room. The party hurried past the bizarre figures and through the room, and the robes and masks ones left the room from the door that the party had come through.
Beyond the door was the temple with the ever-full basin of blood. Sprawled on the floor near the basin was a group of goblins, half of them dead with crushed-in chests and heads. The four survivors took one look at Tod and Gulleck and drew their rusty swords. "It's their friends come to finish us off! Kill them first!" Unfortunately, for the goblins, they were no match for the adventurers, and they very quickly joined their fallen comrades on the floor.
Resuming their expedition down to the second level, the group passed through the Temple of Hedonism and down into the basement. A note on the door to the "orgy room" read, "The Den is closed until further notice. :-( ". Tod pushed the door open to see that the four giant lizards were still nesting in the room. Several of the plush beds and ottomans had been shredded up and the stuffing was torn out. The body of Death Watch (now mostly skeletal and picked clean) still lay on the floor here, next to a leather sack. It occurred to the players to try one of the rings of animal control that they had claimed from the Night Walkers. Tod worn the ring and concentrated his mental power through it, focusing on one of the lizards, which suddenly stood stock still and stared at him. He concentrated his efforts on willing it to pick up the sack and bring it over to him, and it did so, moving stiffly and jerkily.
Unfortunately, when Tod released the lizard from the power of the ring (so that he could walk out of the room) it seemed to be decidedly unhappy about having been controlled. It snapped its jaws at Tod, but could not penetrate his armor. The other three lizards joined the fight as well, and Gulleck received a horrible bite in the leg. The group realized that these giant lizards were fearsome when provoked and beat a quick retreat out of the room, pulling the door shut behind them. Brother Jibber performed his first miracle in the service of the Church, laying his hands on Gulleck's wound and invoking fervent prayers to God. Gulleck was amazed to discover that his broken skin had knit back together and the pain was greatly reduced. And so they felt emboldened to press on rather than retreat to the surface and rest for a few days. (Perhaps another factor leading up to the doom that befell them later in the session...)
The group huddled and pondered whether there was another way down to the second level that could avoid the lizards. They knew of some possibilities, but nothing known to be safe. Eventually, they settled on a plan that involved retrieving the corpses of the goblins from the temple upstairs and luring the lizards away from the temple of hedonism using the corpses and the assistance of a potion of invisibility to confuse the beasts. This was generally successful, and the group managed to pass through the temple room and head out to the north. Here the dilemma was whether to use the stupid time-consuming rope bridge to cross the canyon (they have been talking about coming down with a wheelbarrow of lumber and building a proper bridge once and for all) or deal with the orc guards to the north. I guess they were in a fighting mood, so they chose to head north, where the orcs of the second level seemed to have their lair.
Everyone was still invisible from the potion, but Tod's sword was still shedding light, and as they approached they could see the two orc guards standing by their gong with swords drawn and suspicious, alarmed looks on their faces. Gulleck tried to sneak up invisible to the orcs to scare them off, but made too much noise, and anyway, just as he got up to them the invisibility wore off.
"Dwarf sorcery!" barked one of the orcs, and lunged at Gulleck with his sword. The other orc ran to the gong (really just a crude piece of sheet metal hanging from a wooden frame) and clanged frantically away at it. The orcs were quickly slain, but many more came running up the stairs that led down to the west. Tod, Brother Jibber, and Meat all came running up to join the battle. Some of the orcs had shortbows and stood back trying to line up shots between their front line. There was a struggle for Gulleck's axe, and then Gulleck fumbled and dropped it. But fortunately for him, one of the orc archers also rolled a natural 1 and then rolled very "well" on the followup attack against his ally, which resulted in the orc shooting his friend in the buttocks at point blank range.
Hampered by these kinds of comedic hijinks, and it being practically impossible to get anything past Tod's magical plate armor and shield, the battle turned quickly against the orcs. Their morale broke, and the survivors ran back to the west, down the stairs into their lair. The adventurers caught their breath, and Gulleck, wounded and annoyed, began sawing away at the ropes from which the gong was suspended.
Just as he cut the gong free, the sound of enormous, heavy footsteps came plodding up the stairs. A huge and hideously ugly man was stomping towards them. He was at least nine feet tall, and wore nothing but a filthy loincloth. He carried an enormous club and roared at them as he approached.
"They have a cave troll," sighed Tod. The adventurers wanted nothing to do with this ugly monstrosity, and ran at full speed away back the way they had come, ducking into a door that led through a series of rooms and into the caverns. The "cave troll" laughed mockingly at them as they ran away. "Ha ha ha, Lorg scare puny little people away!"
Gulleck paused at the rope bridge to pitch the sheet metal gong into the darkness below, hearing it splash into the rushing water far below them. Then they collected themselves, and headed north through the caves, in search of the Goblin Market and the Eternal Flame said to burn somewhere beyond it.
They wandered through the caves, and eventually came to the large cavern to the west of the Goblin Market. Dark sticky liquid wept from the walls at the west end of the cavern. When they were last here, a group of giant cave locusts had been lapping at the liquid, but now, a half dozen orcs were chortling viciously as they stabbed at locusts with their crude swords, stowing the dead locusts away in burlap sacks. As Tod's swordlight fell upon them they looked up with cruel smiles on their bestial faces.
Now, I still don't quite understand why things went down the way they did. These orcs were happily engaged in grasshopper hunting. They were blissfully unaware that the adventurers had just fought a pitched battle against their comrades. The reaction roll was quite positive. The orcs would probably have just made some vulgar jokes and offered a couple locusts to the party.
But then Tod said, "Hey! Lorg said that you guys are SO STOOOOPID!"
"What? Lorg didn't say that! You shut up!"
"Uh, what are you doing, Tod?" hissed Gulleck.
"Oh, and by the way," called Tod. "Lorg says hi from all your mothers!"
"Wha--?! You shut up or we'll shut you up with these!" And swords were drawn, and the orcs fell upon the adventurers, screaming and raging. Gulleck was stabbed deeply by an orc's dirty sword. He attempted to retreat behind his retainer, but the orcs were too fast, and he was stabbed again and again, and fell to the cold cavern floor, dead. Meat attempted to avenge his employer, but he too was run through and sank to the ground gurgling.
Tod's magical sword sang in the air as it decapitated orcs. All but one were killed, and the survivor lost his nerve and ran off into the dark. But it was too late for Gulleck and Meat, and Tod looked down on their cooling bodies with a guilty conscience.
The quest for the Eternal Flame was again thwarted. Now, the mission was to bring the bodies back to the pool of rebirth. Tod and Jibber set themselves to the unpleasant task of slowly dragging the bodies of Gulleck and Meat through the cavern and back into the dungeon. Tod was nervous about what they would do when they came to the orcs again.
And here, a wandering monster check came to their rescue. When they got to the cave just north of the rope bridge, they were startled to see two tall goblins just leaning against the cave walls. One was idly flipping a silver coin. His eyes widened at the dismal sight of Tod and Jibber dragging the bodies of their friends.
"If it isn't Tod!" cried a goblin. "It is I, Clabberpus. You remember me, I trust, and Margleton as well? I see you have met with some ill fortune today."
Clabberpus made an offer to Tod. He would help the adventurers bypass the orcs, but at a price. Tod would owe him an open-ended, undefined favor. "You will owe me a favor. At some point, I will call that favor in, and you will satisfy it. Do we have a deal?"
Ill at ease but feeling no other options, Tod shook on the deal with the goblin, whose hand was clammy and discomforting. The goblins led them out of the caverns and through a series of rooms, where they met a fellow adventuring party, St. Dwindum's Heroes. The "Heroes" had suffered a casualty as well, and like Tod and Jibber, were concerned about getting past the orc checkpoint. Brother Michael volunteered his party to help carry Gulleck and Meat in a more respectful manner than being dragged along the floor. Clabberpus raised a hand, and said, "We will go out and speak with the orcs. Wait a few moments, and then be on your way. I'm sure we will see each other again soon, Tod." The two goblins walked into the hall, and after a few seconds, the two adventuring parties followed. To the north, they could see the goblins talking to two orcs at the stairs. The orcs looked intimidated. Snatches of the goblins' words floated down the hall, and Tod heard "the Goblin King" mentioned. Clabberpus reached an arm behind his back and waved the adventurers away.
As quickly as they could, the groups carried their dead to the round temple of pink marble that contained the strange pool of rebirth. Bardelio, the slain hobbit of St. Dwindum's Heroes, was lowered into the pool, and soon came out looking more hale and hearty than ever. Meat was likewise brought back to full vigor by the ancient magic of the pool.
Gulleck had already been revived by the pool once, and it had not worked on Gulleck's former retainer Twiffle a second time. But they carefully lowered Gulleck in anyway, on the off chance that it might still work. Sadly, however, Gulleck remained inert at the bottom of the pool. Tod immersed himself to lift Gulleck's body, and Tod himself felt suffused with life and health (gaining a permanent point of Constitution and healing all his wounds).
Brother Jibber mentioned to Tod that the highest ranking officers of the Church did have the miraculous power to call a person back from death itself, and he thought they might be willing to do so for Gulleck, even though he was a dwarf and not a parishioner. For a significant donation, anyhow...
Lifting up Gulleck's body again, the adventurers carefully made their way back to the surface where they grimly divvied up the recovered loot. The leather sack that Death Watch had died with contained two exquisite bracelets, that earned Tod enough experience points to achieve level 3! (Sometimes it pays off when your fellow adventurers don't survive the expedition...) Tod sold the bracelets, for he had a feeling he would be making a very significant donation to the Church in the very near future...