Sunday, August 21, 2016

Idalium Game 50: The Bear Necessities

Session date: Monday, April 25, 2016
Game date: Sunday, October 20, 208 to Tuesday, October 22, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 9180/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 10813/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 403/2000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3021/4000

It was a relatively short session this week, and almost entirely dealing with logistics and making preparations for the long journal back to the adventurers' home city of Idalium. Having routed the remaining wererat monks, but having suffered the loss of Brother Guntur, the adventurers regrouped in the courtyard of the monastery to tie up loose ends and prepare themselves for the journey home.

They were all hungry (and pretty much out of rations), so they set to work preparing the Abbot's slain grizzly bear. Grimbo (their hired hobbit ranger guide) skinned it (Tod called dibs on the fur) and once it was disemboweled and cleaned, they moved to the monastery's kitchen to start a low fire to roast the bear meat. In the kitchen, they made a terrible discovery. There was a pantry door secured with a padlock, which Gulleck hacked off with his axe. Inside, they discovered a meat locker of sorts, and hanging from a hook was the flayed body of Axel, who they had handed over to the monks in hopes that they could restore life to him! Oh, such cruel irony.

The group ended up moving Axel's remains to the catacombs below the temple, finding an empty slab to lay his body out upon. Brother Guntur was also laid there in the cool underground air, but temporarily, as Father Jibber was rather insistent that the right thing to do would be to return him to the Great Cathedral in Idalium, where he could be interred with the other members of his order. They ended up spending the night in the kitchen, next to the warm fire that was slowly roasting the bear meat.

In the morning, Khrisong (the acolyte they had rescued from the catacombs) packed up some of the more important scriptures. Having no other members of his brotherhood left, his plan was to return with the adventurers to Idalium, and hopefully start up a new monastery there. Brother Guntur's body was retrieved from the catacombs (where they bid a final farewell to Axel), and hoisted onto his horse. They ate as much bear meat as they could stomach, and then loaded up as much as they could carry for their journey. Then they made their way out of the accursed monastery, and carefully led the horses down the steps that wound around the mountainside.

Khrisong told them the nearest village was perhaps a dozen miles to the north. The party hoped to resupply there, and commission a proper sealed casket for Brother Guntur, so they could bring him back to Idalium without having to smell or look at him. They traveled through the mountain passes and over hills and valleys, without any significant encounters, and camped uneventfully in an alpine meadow.

On Tuesday the 22nd, they traveled the remaining few miles to the village, passing through pastoral fields where they began to see shepherds watching over flocks of sheep, and people working in fields of grain. Eventually, they came to the village, a small collection of wooden houses clustered in the midst of a thin grove of pine trees. The villagers watched nervously as the large procession of weary and battle-scarred adventurers entered their village, with a corpse draped over the back of one of the horses. The door of the grandest house opened, and a man emerged, flanked by two other villagers holding spears.

"Greetings, strangers," the man spoke guardedly. "I am the headman of this village. What brings you here?"

Gulleck and Caryatid both started talking at once, trying to explain their odd appearance (with somewhat contradictory stories), but they were cut off by the sight of four monks in saffron robes stepping out of the doorway of the headman's house.

"It is them, headman!" hissed one of the monks. "These are the vagabonds I told you about! We welcomed them in to our monastery, gave them food and shelter, and they repaid us by slaughtering our entire brotherhood! Attack them! Attack them at once!!"

(Cliffhanger ending!)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Idalium Game 49: What a Tangled Web We Weave

Session date: Monday, April 4, 2016
Game date: Sunday, October 20, 208

Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 9047/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 10680/20000

Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 2954/4000
Brother Guntur Valto, Cleric 2, hp 8, xp 1793/3000

A short-handed and relatively short session this time, and the adventurers were focused on mopping up the remaining wererat monks in this accursed monastery. But now, having caught a few hours of sleep, they first inspected the tin lantern they had retrieved from the temple. There was an inscription encircling the top of the lantern, in letters that they recognized as Ancient Idalian. Though no one could read the old language, they did possess a magical pair of spectacles that could allowed them to understand it. Gulleck put the strange goggles on, and read, "The source of the all-pervading light salves the wounded and restores health to the diseased." He opened the lantern to find a crumbling wick in a small reservoir of pasty, congealed oil of some kind. Oddly, the paste smelled absolutely delicious to him. Gulleck ventured to swallow a small amount of the paste, and felt a wholesome warmth pervade his body, and suddenly he was aware that the feverish delirium that had been growing by the hour was gone. (This was a lucky thing, too, as it turned out that according to his unlucky dice rolls, the disease from the giant rat bites would have killed him. Which would have been rather bathetic, so to speak, having just retrieved the item he was sent to acquire in payment for being raised from death!) Experimenting further with the oily paste, Gulleck and Meat found that when rubbed on their wounds, it had a remarkable healing power and their wounds were significantly less livid and inflamed.

Emboldened by this, they set out in search of the remaining monks. At the end of the last session, they had crept into the monks' house, but found it empty and abandoned. They decided to return to the temple, for they had seen a flight of stairs at the back of the shrine where they had defeated the Abbot, descending into the underground catacombs that seemed to connect many of the buildings in the monastery complex.

On their way to the shrine, they passed through the terraced porch that was the entrance to the temple. The little capuchin monkey that had guarded the room when they were last here had returned, its leg still shackled and chained to a short piece of wood that had split from the pole that formerly leashed it here. It barred its teeth at the adventurers and squealed. Gulleck held forth his ring of animal control, and his eyes rolled back in his head as it became still, and allowed Meat to break the shackle from its leg. Once released from Gulleck's control, the monkey looked confusedly at its leg and then at the adventurers and then pointed to its open mouth and screeched.

"Oh, he's hungry," said Caryatid, and offered him some scraps of rations and some water. The monkey seemed grateful, and before Caryatid could react, he ran up onto her shoulder, where he remained perched and would not come down. And that is how Caryatid ended up with a pet monkey.

The group entered the catacombs and explored an unfamiliar tunnel, eventually finding a ladder leading to a trapdoor. According to their maps, they were somewhere below a building that the monks had called their training hall. Caryatid slipped on her ring of invisibility and quietly opened the trapdoor and peered out. It opened into a room with a bookshelf of books and papers against one wall. A monk (human now, during the day) sat in a chair facing away from her). A polearm rested against the wall next to him, and a lantern burned on a low table.

Caryatid quietly gestured for the others to join her, and they attempted to overpower the guard without being noticed. Unfortunately, the clank of plate armor gave the party away, and the monk whipped around, eyes wide, and shrieked an alarm. Gulleck and Meat moved quickly to deal with the guard, while the sound of running feet approached from the courtyard outside the room.

The guard went down in a heap, and Gulleck and Meat quickly pulled the bookshelf down and over to block the doorway. More angry monks in saffron robes arrived, wielding polearms over the bookshelf. Caryatid's new pet monkey leaped off her shoulder to perch on the table with the lamp, hooting and screeching at the chaos surrounding it.

The battle was going well at first, with Gulleck and Meat fighting the monks over the barricade, but then four more monks came charging in through the other doorway leading into the room, effectively flanking them. Brother Guntur was suddenly surrounded, and issued a horrible death cry as two vicious polearm blades sank deep into his body.

Caryatid spoke a complex incantation, and then sticky strands of silk spat from her fingertips (say that five times fast!), entangling the monks in a snarled web from which they could not escape. Seeing their comrades incapacitated, the two remaining monks behind the barricade dropped their polearms and ran from the doorway, their running feet echoing as they fled the building.

Gulleck wiped blood and sweat away from his forehead and looked at the captured monks, and then at the pale, bloody body of Brother Guntur near their feet. He made one last attempt at peace with the ratmen, insisting that one of them swallow some of the oily paste from within the holy lantern, in the hope that it might cure them of their shapechanging curse. But the monk only gagged and spat - "It burns my throat! What poison have you fed me?! It burns!"

"Well, I tried," quipped Gulleck grimly and then got on with the dismal task of dispatching the evil monks. He didn't want to get his axe stuck in the sticky web, so he used the new magical spear they had found in the temple. Only six inches long, when lunged with it suddenly expanded to a ten foot spear and then blinked back to its miniature size again. Over and over Gulleck stabbed at the wretched monks with the magical spear, dispassionately carrying out his work until the shrieking stopped. It was truly horrible.

We ended the session here, with the rat monks vanquished from the evil monastery, but the death of Brother Guntur a rather bitter payment in return. There has been some speculation that with the rate this party goes through hired clerics, the Great Church may stop allowing them to hire any more of them!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Player Journals from Session 48

Tod's Journal
Jibber and I woke up alone in the dark. Terrible things were afoot. Why did they let us sleep in? What were these idiots thinking?

We followed the trail of carnage and despair to the outside the Abbot's rooms. When we arrived I heard screams and squeaks of pure horror and pain coming from the other side of the door. And there was something different about Gulleck. Can't quite put my finger on it. He just seemed different somehow. 

Apparently, while Jibber and I slept there was much fighting with the Rat Men. Our tiny little guide had been captured and held hostage and was rescued. A Rat Man had been captured and then thrown into the room beyond the door where there happened to be a ten foot long rattle snake just hanging out. Shortly after we arrived the screaming and squeaking stopped. And then there was silence.

The plan was for me to open the door, confront the snake, while the rest of the party threw things at it. Jibber stood by my side and I opened the door.  The giant serpent, fangs dripping with venom, a hideous bulge in it's body, reared up to strike me. And then it fell asleep.  I cut off it's head. Poor snake. 

There was a door across the room and we could hear chanting and praying and growling. All good things.  So I opened the door and Jibber and I were instantly attacked by a humongous bear. One claw smacked me on the side of the head, and the other dug a vicious rake across Jibber's forehead.  Jibber let out a scream. Suddenly, the bear stood up and got a blank look on its face.  I knew that look anywhere.  Gulleck was using his animal control ring.  The bear turned, and attacked the stinking Abbot rat bastard who was screaming at us and praying to this ridiculous statue of a rat man in the center of the room. With a tremendous hug, the bear squished the Abbot into a broken lifeless pulp.  Then it fell asleep and I killed it.  Poor bear.

We found chests of gold and silver, jewels and scrolls.  Tremendous fortune. We dragged it back to our sleeping quarters and then had a good nights sleep even though it was morning.  

We then adventured into a final room we had not explored.  Or maybe it was the other way around?  I forget.  Anyhow, at the end of a wide hall was an alter with a statue of someone decidedly not a rat. In one hand he held a tin lantern which glowed with a holy light and gave off a almost imperceptible choral tone. At long last our quest was at an end. The Holy Lantern of Gurtle's Folly was found. 

There remained the unpleasant business of clearing out the rest of the rat man infestation.  After all, it is what we do.  We figured they were held up in their barracks.  Caryatid, being invisible and possibly hopped up on Orc Crank, went in there looking for trouble while the rest of us waited outside.

That bear claw is going to leave a mark on Jibber.  Maybe he should try to cure himself?

I need to find a tavern soon.  I hate this place.

Idalium Game 48: Snakes, Bears, and Rats

Session date: Monday, March 21, 2016
Game date: Saturday, October 19, 208 to Sunday, October 20, 208

Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 3, hp 16, xp 4813/8000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 3, hp 15, xp 7991/8800
Tyrriel, Elf 2, hp 7, xp 4994/8000
Caryatid, Magic-user 3, hp 15, xp 9624/10000

Brother Jibber, Cleric 2, hp 10, xp 2545/3000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 2426/4000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 1, hp 3, xp 1982/2500
Brother Guntur Valto, Cleric 1, hp 5, xp 1265/1500

Since we had ended the previous session on a cliffhanger, we picked right up from where we left off. This was complicated a bit by a change in the roster of players this evening, but we all suspended our disbelief and declared that Simon the hobbit had gone  back to the guesthouse with Grimbo (their hired ranger) and that Tod and Brother Jibber had awoken in the guesthouse and followed the trail of destruction to the monks' temple where they were reunited with the rest of the party.


"Hey, Abbot!!" the ratman screamed in a panic, as the open door revealed a room containing a gigantic rattlesnake, easily three feet in thickness. Gulleck unceremoniously shoved the captive ratman into the room and closed the door behind him. There was the sound of snapping fangs, a frenzied squeaking, and then silence.

Gulleck and Caryatid brought Tod and Jibber up to date with recent events, and once everyone was ready, they prepared to open the door and confront the rattlesnake on their way to find the Abbot of St. Rathmus. The door was pulled open, revealing the giant snake, now with an ominous bulge in its middle, and Wilhelm quickly chanted the words of the Sleep spell. The snake's head wobbled on its body, and it slumped to the stone floor. Tod ran his sword through its neck without delay.

There was a door on the other side of this antechamber, and Gulleck's keen ears detected the sound of urgent prayers and chanting from the other side. Tod kicked the door open. Inside, the Abbot of the monastery (now in ratman form) stood praying to a stone statue of a giant rat, presumably St. Rathmus. Near him, a huge grizzly bear lay growling on the floor.

Even now, Gulleck attempted to parlay with the fanatic monk.

"Why are you doing all this? All we came here for was the lantern. We even did you a favor and killed that ice lizard!"
"You will all die! St. Rathmus will torture your souls in hell!"
"Oh, for crying out loud..."

The Abbot pointed at the group and screamed, "Attack!" and the grizzly bear lunged at Tod and Brother Jibber, tearing at them with its claws. It could have been a dangerous encounter, but Gulleck concentrated on the power of his ring of animal control. His eyes rolled back as he took control of the beast.

The bear turned upon the Abbot. "No, not me! Attack them!" The Abbot was struck by two fearsome paws, and then the bear squeezed him in a terrible embrace. There was a cracking and popping of bones, and the Abbot went limp.

There was some discussion of what to do with the bear, but in the end self-preservation was deemed more important than kindness to animals. Tyrriel put the bear to a magical sleep, and Tod killed it. He and Tyrriel were looking forward to making some snazzy fur cloaks, and everyone was quite hungry, having run out of rations a day or two ago.

In the Abbot's chambers were thousands of gold and silver coins, stamped with the exotic heraldry of unfamiliar realms. They also found a letter that greatly disturbed them. Written in Common in a scratchy hand, it was a welcome from the Brotherhood of St. Rathmus below the Old City of Idalium! The Idalian brotherhood encouraged the monks of the monastery in their struggles to be "free of the tyranny of the Moon" and welcomed them to come to Idalium once they were able to travel incognito during the night.

The adventurers gathered up the treasure to carry it back to the guesthouse. On the way out of the temple, they investigated a hall that they hadn't been down, and found that it ended in a dusty, unused shrine. An ancient statue of some saint or demigod stood behind a small altar, and in one hand the statue held a tarnished and dented tin lantern. Gulleck carefully removed the lantern from the statue, and Brother Jibber examined it and noted that some of the symbols on it were archaic versions of familiar ones from the Great Church! Could this be the holy lantern that they had traveled here in search of?

Stowing the lantern safely away, the group retreated to the guesthouse, barricading the door behind them and setting watches while they grabbed a few hours sleep in the early morning. Gulleck was concerned about the rat bite on his leg; it already felt hot and tender to the touch, as if infected.

The treasure acquired from the temple provided sufficient experience points to raise Gulleck and Caryatid to 4th level, which gave Gulleck a significant bump in his "to hit" numbers and saving throws. Brother Jibber went up to 3rd level, undergoing a "field promotion" to become Father Jibber, and Wilhelm finally gained enough experience to achieve 2nd level. Everyone was quite satisfied with the lucrative and successful session. All that remained in the monastery was to mop up any remaining ratmen.