Sunday, July 10, 2016

Idalium Game 46: The Rats in the Walls

Session date: Monday, March 7, 2016
Game date: Friday, October 18, 208 to Saturday, October 19, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 3, hp 16, xp 4785/8000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 3, hp 15, xp 7966/8800
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 9599/10000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 377/2000

Brother Jibber, Cleric 2, hp 10, xp 2531/3000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 2413/4000
Brother Guntur Valto, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1252/1500

The players, suspicious that their friendly reception from the Brothers of St. Rathmus had worn out, set a schedule of watched for the night. Two PCs would stay awake in the central courtyard of the guest house while the rest slept, and they would change shifts every four hours. I asked them to tell me who would be on watch during each shift over the course of the night, and then I rolled a die to determine when the attack would indeed strike.

It was around midnight, and Gulleck and Brother Jibber were on watch in the courtyard when the silence was broken by a strangled shriek from Brother Jibber. The players had failed a surprise roll, so despite their careful setting of a guard they were taken unawares.

Gulleck whipped around to see Brother Jibber struggling against a figure in a saffron monk's robe, who was attempting to garrote him with a length of metal wire attached to a pair of wooden handles. The attacker seemed unusually short compared to the monks they had seen, and Gulleck's eyes widened as he noticed that the attacker's head was covered not in hair but in dense matted dark gray fur, and two pointed ears stuck out from the top of the pointed head. He shouted out, and the figure twisted to look over his shoulder, revealing a long snout and large beady black eyes that glinted in the reflected lantern light.

Gulleck barely had time to take this sight in when another ratman was upon him, snarling and hissing. Brother Jibber pushed his attacker away, and brought his magical snake staff to bear. Slamming it down onto the ratman, Jibber spoke the command word "Saaleetha!" and the staff convulsed in his hand and transformed into a large snake, coiling around the ratman and pinning its arms to its sides.

Meanwhile, I was rolling dice to see whether the rest of the party would hear the noise of the battle and wake up. Meat had a penalty, since he was still sleeping off the soporific poison in his dinner, and wouldn't awaken until the battle was just ending, but the others gradually roused themselves. Tod grabbed his magical sword and ran into the courtyard to assist Gulleck. His sword flashed as it bit through the ratman's robes and into its fur, causing it to howl in pain and rage. It grabbed at Tod and attempted to bite him, but he got it in a headlock and struggled to subdue it. However, it began to shake and quiver in his grasp, and then seemed to crumple and collapse, falling out of his headlock and down to the ground, where the yellow robes fell in a heap. A small gray rat emerged from the pile of fabric and scurried between Gulleck's legs and into the darkness near the front door of the guesthouse. Likewise, the ratman snared by Jibber's snake staff performed a similar transformation and followed its counterpart into the dark.

Meat emerged from his room rubbing his eyes and yawning as the others gasped and caught at their breath. Once recovered from the sudden attack, they carefully crept towards the entrance to the guesthouse where the rats had run to, and discovered a formerly secret trapdoor below the stairs to the second floor, now lying open. Peering into the trapdoor, they could see that a crude ladder of metal stapled pounded into the stone led down to a tunnel below the ground. The air smelled stale and dank.

The party decided to pursue the ratmen into the tunnels, though there was no trace of the monks once the PCs descended the ladder. The walls of the tunnel were rough and jagged, though the floor was worn smooth from years of use. The tunnel proceeded unevenly through the earth, and several times, the PCs came to forks in the path, choosing to go left each time so as to more easily retrace their steps.

After several turns, the tunnel opened up into a wider chamber. The light shining from Tod and Simon's magical swords fell upon a hideous statue of an enormous crouching rat. Draped around its neck and shoulders was a horrible worm-like animal, with many legs and intricately carved tentacles ringing its mouth. Gulleck shuddered as he remembered the numbing sting that a live version had inflicted upon him.

As the party entered the chamber, the mouth of the statue seemed to move (or was it just a trick of the swordlight?) and a voice hissed out, "Ah, small beings, you have come to do homage to St. Rathmus! Kneel and pray for my mercy!" The adventurers scoffed loudly back at the voice and strode forward to explore the chamber, but suddenly the great stone worm around the statue's neck slithered into life and crawled with alarming speed towards the party! Caryatid wanted nothing to do with this beast and swiftly pulled forth her "lightning wand", with a "pop" sending a spark of light towards the beast, and when their eyes readjusted to the dim light, the worm was coiled awkwardly on the floor, tentacles twitching feebly. Gulleck put his axe to gruesome use, and the creature was summarily dealt with.

Beyond the cavern with the statue, the adventurers found a hall with a number of small alcoves or cells off it. At the back of each alcove shackles were attached to the rock. In the last niche, a pitiful-looking man was shackled, and slumped blinking and flinching in the light of the swords. He was terribly afraid of the adventurers at first, suspecting them to be the rat monks of St. Rathmus, but the party was able to convince him of their true natures. They learned that his name was Khrisong, and to his knowledge he was the only survivor of the monks of Shree Santo Pelasong, who had served in this monastery for centuries, until the arrival of the accursed Brotherhood of St. Rathmus perhaps a year ago. They had arrived at the monastery claiming to be travelling monks from a distant order, and the Abbot had offered them sanctuary and hospitality. That hospitality was repaid with slaughter, as the Brotherhood revealed their true nature at nightfall. Khrisong was a simple acolyte with no power to call upon miracles, who had joined the monks only a few months before the massacre. The ratmen had kept him barely alive for about a year now, occasionally asking him for information about the monastery, sometimes to translate the contents of the library. They seemed to be seeking to gain mystical power, but to what terrible ends Khrisong was not privy.

The adventurers helped the weak and nearly crippled monk to his feet, and brought him back to the guesthouse, where they planned their next move and attempted to bolster their defenses against any further attacks by the wererat worshippers of Saint Rathmus.

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