Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Idalium Game 64: The Auction at Sea

Session date: Monday, December 5, 2016
Game date: Saturday, March 29, 209 to Saturday, April 5, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 12689/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 14207/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 2, hp 6, xp 2941/4000
Adrien, Fighter 1, hp 4, xp 1669/2000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 4668/8000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 1420/1500

After pulling off the dungeon heist of the campaign in the last session, it was now time to sell the spoils! As luck would have it, it was right on time for the annual magical auction in Idalium, jointly organized by the Adventurers' Guild and a trading house catering to wealthy collectors, and held each year around the Spring Equinox. After the unfortunate events of last year's auction, this year it was being held on a merchant ship that was anchored some way out of the harbor, for better security. The adventurers made arrangements with the Guild and the Runcible Trading House to have the idol and associated paraphernalia transported to the ship in advance of the auction.

The day of the auction, the party assembled at a specified dock at the river that runs along the west edge of the City of Idalium. There, a small barge ferried them downstream south, past the tanneries, blacksmiths, and other industrial uses that lined the river, past the city walls, and out into the sea proper. As they left the mouth of the river, they could see the large ship waiting, with many other barges and dinghies clustered around it, having ferried many other auction attendees over.

The adventurers boarded the ship and entered the large cabin that was set up for the auction. Musicians played softly in a corner, and light refreshments were laid out. Many familiar faces were present: Lady Mary Jameson, the young and extremely wealthy aristocrat seeking mysterious and occult artifacts; the Baroness Millicent Trenevant, with whom the party were on friendly terms, having once retrieved her stolen goods; the nouveau riche Vincent Patrenzi. And many of their fellow adventurers were here: Rugger's Raiders and Shorty's Sirens, as well as their erstwhile retainer Father Jed and his troupe of reformed bandits. And "Sallies Forth" were here: an adventuring party made up of "Psycho Sally" (formerly of Shorty's Sirens), plus three magical duplicates. And Professor Zinn, the elderly sage, was here, and it transpired he was bidding at the bequest of Caryatid the Green (adventurer Caryatid's magical duplicate, who now lived in the dungeon and was researching all sorts of disturbing things).

To make a long story short, I conducted the auction using a modified system that I borrowed from a Call of Cthulhu scenario that I used during the previous magical auction. A prewritten chart listed which attendees would be inclined to bid on which objects, and rolls of the dice determined whether or not they would continue bidding or drop out. It is a lot of dice rolling and done too often I think it would be tedious for everyone, but as a change of pace restricted to an annual auction, I think it worked well enough, and introduced some randomness into the events of the auction.

In the end, this is how things panned out: Shorty's Sirens won the bidding for a "smoking urn", a brass bottle warm to the touch and continually emitting smoke (said to hold an imprisoned demon) and well as a set of elvish boots and cloak with an intriguing shimmering pattern and silent soles designed to aid in concealment. Jed acquired a protective scroll against magical influence for 25,000 silver shekels. The party bid 11,500 shekels on a set of gold, copper, and tin medallions, but these turned out to be nonmagical trinkets. Gulleck was interested in a suit of wonderfully crafted dwarven plate armor, but so was Rugger, and the party eventually dropped out of the bidding war at 61,500 shekels. Baroness Trenevant acquired some carved ivory divination sticks from the far east and a golden ring engraved with a design of intertwined serpents. Caryatid spent most of the party's money to bid on a "wand of unpredictable magic", an 11" magical wand of rowan wood, whimsically carved and painted in various colors. Vincent Patrenzi won the bidding on a disturbing human skull, with the top cut away and the interior inlaid with silver to form a cup.

As for the party's own entry into the auction, Lady Mary, Baroness Trenevant, and Vincent Patrenzi all bid on this exotic and imposing idol. Bidding started at 125,000 shekels, and the three bid it up until Lady Mary prevailed at 136,500 silver shekels.

The party used their winnings to pay for the wand and medallions that they acquired, and returned to the Rusty Lantern to celebrate their winnings.

A week later, they reunited for a short delve into the dungeon. The first order of business was to deliver to the gnomes their half share of the proceeds. Of course, on the way, Caryatid couldn't help but test out her new "wand of unpredictable magic". As soon as they were in the dungeon, Caryatid drew forth the wand, and pointed it down the buried street into the darkness of an old city plaza. She felt the wand's power twitching, and reaching into it with her mind, she released the chaotic power and let it manifest. A bead of glowing light like a burning ember shot forth from the tip of the wand and streaked through the dark. There was a brief glimpse of the stone fountain in the plaza and the four statues surrounding it, and then there was a loud whooof of fire and a gust of heat that staggered them on their feet. The plaza was briefly brilliantly illuminated by the expanding fireball and then all was dark and quiet again. The party excitedly moved forward into the plaza to see the impact of the wand's magic, and in the light of Simon's sword they found that the fountain now lay in rubble, the four statues knocked away from it, lying in several pieces on the cobblestones of the square.

"Excellent!" everyone cheered, and then moved on to meet the gnomes. The gnomes were overjoyed to see their friends and even more so to see their large bag of gold that they delivered. An impromptu party was held in the gnomes' cozy little hideaway. Little seedcakes were eaten, and gnomish tea and ale were drunk. Little gnomes played little tunes on tiny little lutes and tambourines.

Well-fed and well-rested after the party, the adventurers still had some time so they decided to explore a bit more of the second level. They used their new shaft to descend to the room from which they had stolen the idol. The eerie green flames had vanished from the torch sconces on the walls, and the cold fear that had pervaded the room was gone. The adjacent rooms, that had been shrouded in a perpetual magical darkness, were now normal, and the darkness of the dungeon yielded to the cool light of Simon's magical sword. The adventurers proceeded to an apartment at the north end of the level. In the apartment was a stone statue of a woman, and an inscription on her clothing read "I shall guard my treasure until I am wed." Well, in the recent poring over of character sheets, Gulleck's player realized that Gulleck had been carrying around a "stone ring" that they had acquired many sessions ago in a "honeymoon suite". So, off they went to try it out!

Unfortunately, in the bedroom containing the statue, four hobgoblins were already present, examining the inscription on the statue for themselves. They party bantered with the goblins, and the banter turned a bit aggressive, but the party walked out of the room rather than fighting the goblins, whom they have mostly remained on friendly terms with so far (although recent revelations about the origin of the goblins have made this relationship much more awkward). They went into the adjoining room, which contained a fresco on the wall of a jester that would magically move and speak when approached. When they entered, however, they found several giant centipedes crawling on the painting, and the jester was hysterically yelling and crying in Ancient Idalian (which no one could understand). The party took one look at this, shook their heads, and left the room. Heartless!

In the hallway, they encountered four of the berserker "hippies" who lived not far from this area of the dungeon. Caryatid remembered only too well being strangled to death by their fellows, and the party conversed lightly, to avoid disturbing the hippies' mood. Eventually, they parted ways and the hippies entered the room with the jester. The adventurers listened with barely disguised glee and they heard the hobgoblins mock the hippies with sneering condescension. This enraged the hippies, and the two groups fell into a savage battle in the doorway between the two rooms. Gulleck quickly led the adventurers down the hallway around a corner, where they re-entered the bedroom with the statue. While the hobgoblins and hippie berserkers fought in the next room, Gulleck ran to the statue and popped the stone ring onto its finger. A vertical seam suddenly appeared in the torso of the statue and it opened up like a pair of doors, revealing a shelf containing several pieces of jewelry (two bracelets and a headdress) and a golden ring. He removed the stone ring, causing the statue to close again, hurled it into a dusty corner of the room, and bolted back out before the hobgoblins could take notice.

They made it back to the Rusty Lantern without incident. The bracelets and headdress they sold for 2,000 gold darics, earning enough experience points to raise Brother Chase to the second level (allowing him to cast a clerical spell each day!). The golden ring turned out to be a magical ring of invisibility, much like the one Caryatid owned. Quite a successful session!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Idalium Game 63: The Heist!

Session date: Monday, October 3, 2016
Game date: Saturday, March 22, 209

PCs:
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 3, hp 16, xp 6282/8000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 11357/17000
Tyrriel, Elf 2, hp 7, xp 6278/8000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 12996/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 1669/2000
Adrien, Fighter 1, hp 4, xp 458/2000

Retainers:
Father Jibber, Cleric 3, hp 16, xp 3218/6000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 3, hp 17, xp 4062/8000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 2, hp 4, xp 2624/5000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 784/1500
Remus Thynerius, Thief 1, hp 2, xp 246/1250

Finally, the big day had arrived! The entire current roster of players were in the same room at the same time, and in the city of Idalium the vernal equinox augured an auspicious delve: the Great Heist of the gilded idol and ceremonial paraphernalia from the shrine of shadows! Tod and Tyrriel arrived at the Rusty Lantern for the first time in a couple of months. Tod was still a woman and Tyrriel was still a man, after sampling from the magical fountains in the Temple of Hedonism; apparently the effects were permanent.

In recent sessions, the adventurers had commissioned a mining party of friendly gnomes to dig a shaft straight down from the first level to where they hoped was the shrine of shadows on the second level (they lined up their hand drawn maps to figure out where to dig). Only today would they find out if they had calculated their target correctly. In the past few sessions, they had procured various supplies for the heist: a custom-designed leather harness and plenty of rope for lifting the idol, a block and tackle and winch for hauling it up the shaft, and a small handcart for moving it through the dungeon.

Buzzing with excitement, the adventurers descended into the undercity. Their first stop was the headquarters of the gnomes, deep in the mines in the northeast section of the first level. Tom Pipkin, the leader of the gnomes, greeted them warmly. The adventurers could see the same avaricious excitement in his eyes as they saw in their fellow party members' eyes, for they had promised the gnomes a 50/50 cut of the revenue from the sale of the idol and paraphernalia. Tom, his right hand man Grimble Grumble, and half a dozen gnomes set out with the adventurers to the dig site.

The dig site was in one of the old temples off the main Avenue of Temples. The inside was constructed to resemble a natural cave, and the ceiling was painted to look like the night sky. Great piles of earth and stone rubble now lay strewn in the corners of the temple, as well as in the street outside. Caryatid had wizard locked the door to the temple, which sealed it to anyone except her. The door in the back of the temple they had spiked shut with iron spikes, which Gulleck now pulled out, in case they had to escape that way in a hurry. Meanwhile, the gnomes and other party members went to work setting up the winch and the block and tackle system, along with rope ladders, etc.

While they were busy setting up their stuff, four scruffy looking guys in leather armor sauntered up to the open door. Bandits, evidently. "Hey, whatcha doin'? That's quite a hole you guys dug! Mind if we watch?" Pretty soon Tyrriel got tired of talking and cast Sleep on them. The bandits were dragged into a robing room behind the temple.

With that out of the way and everything set up, Gulleck and Tod descended into the shaft, climbing the ladders as quietly as possible down some twenty or so feet to the bottom, where they could see the shaped flagstones of the ceiling of the room below them. The gnomes had carefully cleared the dirt and rubble away, but left the ceiling itself undisturbed until the adventurers were ready. Now, they made ready to silently pry the stone from its space. Tod drank a potion of invisibility that they had found some time ago, and Gulleck slipped on Caryatid's ring of invisibility. (Now this kind of thing always leads to debates at the table as to what happens when someone goes invisible while carrying a leather harness attached to a long rope. My ruling is that the carried harness itself goes invisible, but the end of the rope that is not in first-hand contact with the character would still be visible, moving around with no apparent cause.)

Anyway, as soon as Gulleck and Tod shifted the stone, Caryatid quickly cast Phantasmal Force at the gap to "set up a camera loop" with the image of the stone ceiling slab. Then Gulleck and Tod lifted the slab out of the way, and poked their invisible heads through the illusion to see what was going on. The shrine lay still and unsettling as ever, heatless green flames flickering in torch sconces on the walls, casting eerie shadows all around. The hideous idol crouched on the bloodstained altar on the south wall. The adventurers were hoping to have come out exactly above the idol, but unfortunately their shaft terminated in the northeast corner of the room some fifteen feet away from the altar. Oh well, at least they hit the room!

Tod and Gulleck dropped as quietly as possible into the room, carrying the harness (trailing a visible rope behind it) and made their way over to the idol. Gulleck and Tod quickly the the harness over the idol, and it became visible as they did so. The room suddenly felt colder and a panicky fear began to catch in their throats as they saw the shadows begin to coalesce into eight man-sized shapes. They hurriedly continued securing the harness to the idol as the shadows drifted off the walls and swirled angrily through the air at them, cold voices hissing meaningless curses at them.

Gritting their teeth against the fear, Gulleck and Tod tugged on the rope attached to the harness, lifted the idol from the altar, and carried it towards the hole in the ceiling. The shadows swirled around them, snatching at the air angrily. But Tod and Gulleck were still invisible, having not attacked in any way, and I generally give a -4 penalty to attack rolls against invisible opponents, if the attacker even knows generally where to attack! Along with their plate armor (magical, in Tod's case), this was enough that the shadows flailed at the air ineffectively, and Tod and Gulleck were able to get the idol under the shaft without ever being hit by the shadows. The party members above began cranking the winch and the idol began to rise up the shaft. The eight shadows howled in rage and swarmed up the shaft, as dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly. Gulleck and Tod could scarce believe their good luck, and quickly ran back to the altar to collect the chalice, dagger, and sacrificial implements and secure them in a backpack before returning to the shaft and climbing the rope ladder back up to join the battle above.

And a battle it was. The shadows swirled through the air of the temple, barely visible in the flickering lantern light until they swooped down to slash at someone. They attacked indiscriminately, and because they were aerial, no one had shelter from their attacks. (Basically, I just assigned everyone a number, including the eight gnomes, and rolled a d20 for each shadow to determine its target each round.) Brother Jibber kept working the winch to bring the idol up, and Tod and Gulleck were trying to stabilize it from below to make sure it didn't get damaged on the walls of the shaft.

The battle raged on. Meat and Brother Chase found that their weapons passed through the shadows with no effect. Caryatid's voice rang out over and over, reading the magical words from her scrolls of Magic Missile. The glowing golden arrows shot forth and struck true every time with a small burst of golden sparks. Eventually, Tod and Gulleck surfaced and joined the battle with their magical sword and axe. There was an effort at some point to put the idol on the cart and get it out into the street in case the shadows wouldn't pursue too far from their shrine, but the shadows poured forth from the temple into the street and the battle continued there. Quite a few people were struck by shadows, feeling a cold numbness suffuse their bodies, but eventually magic weapons (and especially Caryatid's Magic Missile scrolls) prevailed, and the last of the shadows dissipated into a cold mist.

A great cheer went up. The adventurers and gnomes bid each other farewell with a promise to meet again after the auction to pay the gnomes their share of the revenue. And the adventurers carefully maneuvered the cart through the halls of the undercity and had it carefully hoisted up into the cellar of the Rusty Lantern (one of the few times they've used the cellar hoist for anything other than unconscious or dead bodies!).

A couple notes on the shadows: eight shadows are potentially a serious threat to a party of second level PCs (especially as they are immune to normal weapons). To mitigate this, I had the shadows be attached to the idol and ceremonial items in the shrine. They would not pursue PCs out the shrine if the items were left alone. (I do like including dangerous monsters or situations if the players have the ability to disengage and retreat.) If the ceremonial items like the robe and headdress were taken, the shadows would pursue into the peripheral rooms with the magical darkness, but not into the hallways. And if the idol itself was stolen, the shadows would pursue anywhere and without giving up or losing morale.

Now, in the end, my players left this room with the scary shadows until they were significantly above level 2 on average, and had several magical weapons to fight them with, so this fight wasn't quite as tough as it could have been. But I don't mind! I really enjoyed watching my players plan and execute this "heist", negotiating with the gnomes to do the hard work of digging a shaft (which is now a permanent alternate entrance to the second level for the PCs), and creatively using invisibility to get the idol out of the room while taking minimal damage from the shadows. The shadows didn't end up being a very significant threat, but it was still a highly memorable session!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Idalium Game 62: Shadow Boxing

Session date: Monday, September 26, 2016
Game date: Saturday, March 15, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10899/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 12538/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 1188/2000
Adrien, Fighter 1, hp 4, xp 0/2000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3833/4000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 544/1500
Remus Thynerius, Thief 1, hp 2, xp 6/1250

We had a new player join us this session, and some time was taken at the beginning to walk her through rolling up a character, buying equipment, etc., as well as delivering the campaign "elevator pitch" and explaining the basic premise. And so a fighter named Adrien joined the party.

Their first order of business was to do some shopping in the city, in preparation for their intended "heist" of the dazzlingly gilded idol guarded by demonic shadow beings. They purchased a wheeled hand cart, a block and tackle system for lifting the idol out of the chamber, and picked up their specially-commissioned leather harness that they intended to use to lift the idol. They returned to the Rusty Lantern tavern with all this stuff and stashed it in their secure storage closet in the basement, before changing into their adventuring gear and descending into the dungeon.

In the Temple of Hedonism, on their way to the stairs to the second level, they encountered a single giant bee, buzzing around the benches surrounding the eerily rotating statue. Gulleck smirked and, donning his magical ring of animal control, sent the bee headlong into the animated crystal statue that guarded the stairs. The statue's fist shot forward, crushing the bee's thorax. Smiling with satisfaction, Gulleck led the way downstairs.

Since Adrien was new to the party, they brought her to the Temple of Fate and invited her to test her luck on the "Wheel of Fortune". She was strapped to the wheel and spun, and when she climbed back off the wheel nothing seemed to be different, but the very next day she would receive a letter informing her that a relative (who she had never heard of until now) had passed away and left her a house (albeit in poor condition and in one of the most rundown neighborhoods of the city).

The party proceeded with a clear mission in mind. They made their way along the hallway until they came to the door that led into a room drenched in magical pitch blackness. Beyond the room was the frightening shrine with the idol and associated ceremonial items, all of which gleamed of gold and jewels. The adventurers wanted to test a few theories about the shadowy guards. Some stayed watch at the door, while Gulleck and Caryatide carefully made their way through the dark room, following the wall until they found the opening to the shrine.

Gulleck borrowed Caryatid's ring of invisibility and slipped it on. Caryatid cast a Shield spell upon herself for additional protection, and then an Invisibility spell. They wanted to see if the shadows would be able to detect them while invisible. They stepped cautiously into the room. Everything was as it was before: sickly green flames flickered from torch sconces on the walls. Along the south wall, the disturbing demonic idol squatted on a bloodstained stone altar. In front of it were various ceremonial gilded and jeweled objects: a chalice, a curved dagger, etc. Next to the altar was a wooden stand on which was draped a ceremonial robe, embroidered with silver and gold and studded with gemstones, and a matching headdress. The green flames cast eerie shadows that flickered and twitched anxiously, and Gulleck could feel his heart leap to his throat as an unnerving fear settled within him. But so far, all was still. He moved further into the room, and still there was no response.

Satisfied with this experiment, Gulleck decided to make the day a profitable one, and quickly snatched the robe and headdress from the stand. As he did so, the shadows on the walls began to coalesce and converge into several man-shaped forms, lengthening and drifting forward off of the walls...

Gulleck bolted for the exit, pursued by the shadows. He yelled as he ran, and the other party members guarding the door called back to him to guide him to the exit. As Gulleck ran, he ran the chilling touch of a shadow, draining the energy from his body and leaving him feeling tangibly weaker. But then he was back in the hall, in the light of Simon's glowing magical sword. The shadows did not follow him into the hall.

Meanwhile, Caryatid had a brainstorm and theorized that the green flames were the source of the shadows and if they could be doused, the shadows would disappear. She drew forth a vial of holy water, borrowed from Brother Chase, opened it, and attempted to douse the flames with the sanctified water. Unfortunately, the water poured through the flames as if they didn't exist, making a puddle on the floor. This action drew the attention of more shadows, although Caryatid had an advantage of still being invisible. She quietly slipped through the room and followed Gulleck back into the hall.

They made it out of the dungeon without further incident, and stowed the robe and headdress in their vault. They intended to sell them at the semi-annual magic auction, once they completed the heist and obtained the idol and the other ceremonial items. I gave them experience points for a "base value" of the robe and headdress now, with the understanding that they would not receive further XP when they sold the items at the auction, regardless of what the actual final bid was.

Not a bad first delve for Adrien: an unexpected inheritance plus almost 500 XP from the treasure they recovered!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Idalium Game 61: Talking to the Wall

Session date: Monday, August 29, 2016
Game date: Saturday, February 22, 209 to Monday, February 24, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10214/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11853/20000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3490/4000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 184/1500

A small group this evening, and no plan other than to explore some areas of the second level that they had not yet been to. In the city, the adventurers stopped in at a tailor and picked up the five togas they had commissioned, exact replicas of the embroidered togas that allowed them access to the Temple of Hedonism in the undercity below. Caryatid even made a little tiny toga for her pet monkey Marcel.

They entered the dungeon and made their way uneventfully (yes, the new togas were accepted by the crystal living statue that guarded the stairs down to the second level) to the northern part of the second level. They were exploring an old abandoned tavern kitchen, when they spied some old casks up on a high shelf. Meat reached up to investigate, but accidentally knocked down a cask of rancid semiliquid bacon grease, drenching him in the strong-smelling fat.

Rather than continue on, the adventurers decided to return to the surface to let Meat have a bath before returning to the dungeon in the afternoon. (Such a pity; the strong smelling grease meant that I would roll for wandering monsters every turn rather than every other turn!)

Anyway, a few hours later they returned, with a freshly laundered Meat only faintly smelling of bacon. Delving back into the dungeon, the party made their way to an unexplored area at the north end of the second level. On the way they ran into a trio of dungeon urchins who were tense and angry. They demanded food from the adventurers, but bolted away when Gulleck stepped forward to try to talk some respect into the youngsters. In an former tavern, they encountered a group of bandits who were sitting around counting their illgotten loot. The bandits leered at the adventurers, and demanded a toll of 100 gold darics apiece to pass through this room. Everyone rolled their eyes. Gulleck consulted his maps and realized that they already knew an alternate way around the bandits. So they casually left the room, went around the hall and poked their heads in on the other side to say, "Nice try, guys." The bandits turned beet red, and the adventurers jogged off laughing.

Exploring some apartments off of a main hall, Gulleck and Meat found a chest of drawers that seemed undisturbed. Meat pulled a drawer open roughly, and there was a sudden crack of glass shattering. A greenish mist wafted up from the drawer and spread out quickly. The rest of the party were standing well enough back, but Gulleck and Meat gasped and clutched their throats as they breathed in the mist. Their limbs went numb and they slumped to the cold stone floor, unable to lift an arm or leg but aware of everything going on around them.

Caryatid and and Brother Chase decided for some reason to explore the next room while they waited for the numbness to wear off from Gulleck and Meat. They always say "Never split the party" and here we had an example of why it's a bad idea. While Caryatid and her bodyguard were elsewhere, a half dozen orcs came sauntering into the room, leering and snickering at Gulleck and Meat. "Welly welly well, what have we here?" sneered the orc leader. He poked at Gulleck's nose a few times to make sure he wasn't a threat. "That sure is a nice shiny axe this dwarf's got..." he said, plucking it from Gulleck's belt and hefting it. "I wonder what other goodies these guys have..."

Around this time Caryatid and Brother Chase returned and before the orcs could react Caryatid hit them with a face full of Web. Half of them, along with Gulleck and Meat, were caught in the sticky strands. The other three orcs failed a morale check and bolted out of the door. Caryatid had no patience to wake for Gulleck and Meat to break free of the web (once their paralysis wore off) and didn't care to banter with the three trapped orcs, so she calmly lit the web on fire. The orcs all perished in the conflagration, while Gulleck and Meat, having the luck of experienced adventurers (i.e., more hit points!) were shielded from the worst of the flames by the bodies of the orcs, and were merely uncomfortably singed.

While Gulleck and Meat were still recovering from the paralysis gas, they were interrupted by yet another wandering monster encounter. But this turned out to be a rival NPC party: "Sallies Forth", a party composed of no less than four identical copies of "Psycho" Sally, a manic hobbit who had once been a member of Shorty's Sirens but had struck out on her own once she discovered that the resurrection pool could duplicate you. I said "identical" back there, but really, you could tell the order in which they had been cloned, with each one being a degraded copy of the previous one, like in that Michael Keaton movie Multiplicity.

After a bit of banter with the Psycho Sallies, and once Gulleck and Meat had regained control of their limbs, they set out again exploring the north end of the level. They found an old bedroom, and on one wall a mural of a court jester was painted in old, faded paint. As they approached it for a better look, they were startled to find the paint seeming to flow and move. The jester came to life and attempted to speak to them! Unfortunately, no one in the party could speak Ancient Idalian, so the jester's words were merely a babble of unintelligible nonsense, make even more surreal by his exaggerated mime-like gestures as he tried to communicate with them. The jester didn't understand Modern Idalian, either, so he and the party just stood there babbling and gesticulating at one another. Gulleck and Caryatid got annoyed by the uselessness of the loud gibberish coming from the jester. Gulleck grumbled, "Let's make a note to come back here with some paint." Caryatid replied, "Oh, I was thinking paint thinner!"

In an adjacent room, they found a stone statue of a modestly dressed woman, with one hand outstretched. There was writing inscribed on her garment. Now, the party could not understand Ancient Idalian, but they did possess a pair of magical spectacles that allowed them to read it, and they saw that it said, "I shall guard my treasure until I am wed." They puzzled over this for a while, trying to come up with ways of marrying a stone statue. I had to keep my poker face under control, as only a couple of sessions ago, they had found a stone ring in a honeymoon suite not too far from here. Gulleck was still carrying it around and had it written on his character sheet, but his player kept passing over it as he looked for something useful. Eventually, they would figure it out, but not this day!

Before leaving the dungeon, the adventurers managed to find a room that was marked on a treasure map they had acquired quite some time ago. Just as the map indicated, there was a secret compartment behind a painting of the hills surrounding Idalium, and in the compartment were several sacks of coins from Ancient Idalium, untouched these two hundred some years! Hundreds of silver, gold, and platinum coins filled the bags, and flush with satisfaction at finding this substantial treasure, the adventurers returned to the surface.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Idalium Game 60: Making the Rounds

Session date: Monday, August 29, 2016
Game date: Saturday, February 22, 209 to Monday, February 24, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10157/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11790/20000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3461/4000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 153/1500

Sort of an unfocused ramble of an adventure today. We only had two players, and they weren't sure of what to do. Ideas were floated: give the magical wardrobe to the goblins as a Trojan Horse to gain secretive entry to the Goblin Palace? Foment a feud between Caryatid the Green and the goblins?

First they went to "Crazy Harry", the apothecary, to see if he had prepared an antidote to the enchanted goblin fruit they had brought to him last session. "Yes!" said Crazy Harry. "Although it is of limited effect. I believe it can break the enchantment that the fruit casts over a person, but only so long as they are still human. Once they have been transformed into a goblin, I don't think anything could bring them back!"

Crazy Harry wanted 500 silver shekels for a dose of the antidote, but they haggled him down to 300 shekels. They also purchased two vials of "stirge repellant". "Ah, yes," said Crazy Harry. "So, the good news is, stirges can't stand the smell. They hate it! The bad news is, just about every other kind of vermin loves it. It attracts them! Bugs, rats, worms, you name it."

Gulleck thought that sounded like more of a feature than a bug, and paid extra to get it in breakable glass vials.

Into the dungeon they went, but ran into a scavenging party of orcs almost immediately, in the town square of the undercity. The orcs recognized them and attacked instantly. Caryatid cast a magic missile at one orc, and Brother Chase followed it up by caving in the orc's skull with his mace. Meanwhile, Gulleck and Meat quickly dealt with the orcs that attacked them. The other two orcs ran screaming into the dark.

The adventurers collected a number of gold coins from the orcs, as well as a pouch of the crumbly off-white powder they knew as "rage dust". Then they checked the magical talking statues that stood around the fountain in the middle of the square. As they had arranged, the gnomes had left them a message, saying that they were almost finished digging the shaft down to the second level, and would await them at the dig site.

They made their way quickly to the small temple where the gnomes had been digging a shaft down to the lower level, hopefully emerging in the room that contained the frightening shadow monsters (and more importantly, the gold and gem encrusted idol and ceremonial items). The shaft was finished now, and all that remained was to chisel out and lift away the stone slab that was part of the ceiling below. The group wanted to wait until everyone could be there, including Tod and Tyrriel, so they thanked the gnomes and said they would visit them at their quarters in the mines when ready. Everyone packed up and left, and Caryatid cast wizard lock upon the door on the way out, to discourage any unwanted visitors.

The fight with the orcs had taken a bit out of the adventurers, so they returned to the surface to rest a bit before attempting another delve. On Monday morning they reunited and headed back into the dungeon, this time heading down to the second level to check in on Caryatid the Green. They passed through the Temple of Hedonism, which was occupied by half a dozen fresh-faced youths, drinking wine and playing the harp languidly. The adventurers weren't sure if they had arrived pre- or post-orgy, but it was certainly awkward.

They checked on the orcs, but after the recent pitched battle they'd had, the orcs appeared to have retreated into their lair, and no orcs were to be seen at the entrance to their domain. Moving on for now, they visited Caryatid the Green in her apartment, who was as before in good spirits and happy to receive them as guests. There was a large strange man, sitting in an armchair with his back to them, facing the magical fire that crackled away but shed no heat.

"Oh, I've been busy since we last spoke," said Caryatid the Green. "The lovely Professor Zinn provided me with such useful information on anatomy, and physiology, and human biology... And I put all of that knowledge to good use! Can I introduce you to my new bodyguard?"

The man in the chair stood slowly and stiffly, and turned to face them. He wore a drab, shapeless coat. He loomed over even Meat and Brother Chase, and his eyes were dull. His skin was pale and blotchy, and it seemed there was some kind of tattoo at the base of his neck, almost like... stitching?

"He doesn't talk much," said Caryatid the Green. "He's really more of the strong and silent type. But the dungeon can be dangerous, you know. With him by my side, I have so much more freedom to roam and explore. No one dares to threaten me."

The adventurers made polite goodbyes and nervously left. Things with Caryatid were getting weirder and weirder, and they were grimly certain that she would have to be "dealt with" sooner or later.

On their way out, the adventurers decided to prank the orcs. Having stolen their big alarm gong several weeks ago, Gulleck had bought a tiny toy gong in a shop up in the city. Now he tossed that toy gong down the stairs that led to their lair. There was silence for a moment, and then a twang of a bowstring from down below and an arrow snapped on the wall next to Gulleck's head. He quickly slammed the door shut at the top of the stairs, and the adventurers laughed their way back out of the dungeon.

Player Journals from Session 59

From the Diary of Caryatid
 
I am afraid that my death has had an ill-affect on Marcel. I must seek a monkey therapist to help him cope with his breakdown. Although, since my resurrection, I feel that he does not fully comprehend what has happened. I’m also beginning to research spells and potions to grow him wings; he clearly needs more liberation beyond his own Fez and toga. I think I'd also like to learn a spell which will mute that dwarf who instigated that berserk Hippie into a fit of unstoppable rage. Any attempt I made to diffuse that situation only led to my demise.
 
Brother Chase is required to report to the Lost Church of the Missing Light to complete some paperwork and standardized testing. He has shared with me that he will also be getting his highlights touched-up and take care of some basic manscaping. I approve.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Idalium Game 59: Bong Inspectors

Session date: Monday, August 15, 2016
Game date: Saturday, February 8, 209

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10147/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11780/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 1177/2000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3456/4000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 147/1500
Remus Thynerius, Thief 1, hp 2, xp 0/1250

Another Monday evening, another delve into the dungeons below the bustling city of Idalium. Simon's player decided to hire a retainer, and rolled up a thief named Remus Thynerius, in the hopes of filling some gaps in the party skillset. The party did a little bit of above-ground adventuring before entering the dungeon. They visited "Crazy Harry", the apothecary, and showed him the preternaturally beautiful fruit that they had smuggled out of the feast in the palace of the Goblin King (in a doggy bag, I guess). He believed he could "reverse engineer" the magic of the fruit and concoct an antidote for those ensorcelled by the goblin food. "Come back in a week, and we'll see what I've got." They also visted the elderly Professor Zinn, in his 5th floor apartment overlooking the city from the top of the Street of Steps. They asked him about the goblin food and he confirmed that legends told how the food of the goblins first casts a charm over those who eat it, convincing them that the goblins have their best interests at heart, and then, if enough food is eaten over a period of days, provokes a horrible transformation of a human into a goblin! The professor was dubious that there was any way to reverse this transformation, but agreed in theory that perhaps the charm could be broken if done so early enough in the process.

The party descended into the dungeons, intent on exploring the northwest area of the second level. On the way, they ran into their erstwhile retainer Brother (now Father!) Jedidiah, who was now the leader of a party of adventuring bandits, having converted them to the path of God. They bid him good luck and continued on their way, stopping at the entrance to the orcs' lair to leave the remaining goblin fruit in the bowl the orcs had set out for "honor system tolls". Concerned that the dungeon urchins might steal it to eat, they chalked a note "For orcs only!"

As they made their way north, they stopped at a door behind which they heard buzzing, and Simon used his "clarity" medallion to read the minds of anyone behind the door. He heard gutteral, angry voices in his mind - orcs who were trapped in a room and afraid of the giant bees! They laughed and continued on their way.

They found a room with a brass plaque outside reading (in Ancient Idalian) "Hotel Lethia Honeymoon Suite". Inside was a once-lavish but now tattered bedroom, with a canopy bed fallen into moth-eaten rags, a large dry "hot tub", and broken down and dry-rotted furniture. In a decayed chest of drawers they found a plain but polished stone ring, a bit larger than anyone's fingers. Gulleck tucked it away in his backpack for safe keeping.

Further down the hall, they came to another door with a brass plaque that read "Hotel Lethia". The door was sealed shut with rags that seemed to be impregnated with wax, and a giant red "X" was painted across it in drippy red paint.

"Nope!" everyone said in unison and continued north.

Finally they came to another door, with a sign hung on it by a piece of wire. The sign read, "Home Sweet Home" and below that it said "Monsters Stay Out!" This area of the adventurers map read, "Hippieland, avoid at all costs!" and we were about to discover why. Gulleck knocked on the door.

You ever have a joke that popped into your head, and you waited patiently for over a year to spring it, and then when your players finally got there they totally jumped the gun on the punchline? That's exactly what happened here. I said, "... Who is it?" in a wheezy voice, and everyone jumped in with "Dave's not here man!"

Ahem. So this is how it was *supposed* to go.

*knock knock*
"...who is it?"
"It's Gulleck!"
"... ... Gulleck's not here, man!"

To my players' credit, they humored me and did this the proper way and played along.

"No, this is Gulleck!"
"... Who??? Gulleck's not here."

And so on. Eventually we got an answer to "Who is it?" Last time with the orcs it was "Gong Inspectors", and well, now it was "Bong Inspectors"!

The hippies opened the door and were pleased to see their acquaintances come to visit. "Hey, man, good to see you! You wanna come in and check out our digs? We got a real groovy thing going on here. Welcome, welcome, travelers!" The adventurers nervously entered a large hall with several stone pillars supporting the ceiling. There was a firepit alight in the middle of the room, with some sort of meat roasting on a spit above it. Bedrolls and blankets were strewn about. The two hippies who invited the adventurers in introduced themselves as Jimmy (or was it Jimi?) and Linda.

"Hey, come with us, we'll give you the mystery tour of the place!"

The hippies led the group through a number of rooms, and the faces of the adventurers grew more nervous and dismayed all the while. In the first room chairs, tables, and other accumulated furniture were stacked neatly and incredibly precisely to the ceiling. Two other hippies were engaged in deep concentration measuring the furniture and making minor adjustments.

The next room was a larder, full of all sorts of horrid foods: dead rats (giant and otherwise), spiders, centipedes, and other vermin. "Uh... is this what you eat down here?" asked Gulleck. "Hey man," said Jimmy, "don't knock it til you've tried it. Anyway, you get used to it after a while. You gotta do what you gotta do, dig? Right on."

The next room was empty apart from hundreds of intricate chalk spirals and concentric circles covering all of the floor, walls, and ceiling. Two more hippies were hard at work drawing more.

Finally, they came to a storeroom. "This is our room of treasures!" bragged Linda. Along one wall, a hippie was carefully arranging piles of silver shekels. First there were two silver coins on floor, then a stack of two coins, then a stack of three, then five, eight, thirteen, and half a dozen piles after that, each increasing in height. Against another wall were neat stacks of old adventuring equipment, apparently itemized into categories: tidy stacks of backpacks, armor, weapons, iron spikes, etc.

Gulleck looked at the old adventuring gear. "You, uh, don't use this stuff anymore?"
"No, man, that was, like, a long, long time ago. Now we just take it easy here, you know?"
"Well, why don't you, uh, maybe sell that stuff and buy some better food?"

Jimmy's eyes twitched a bit and narrowed. "Why would we want to do that? We spent hours and hours arranging those things like that."
"Well, I mean, then you'd have more food and you wouldn't have piles of junk."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY???" screeched Jimmy. "THAT JUNK IS VERY IMPORTANT TO US!!!"

"Whoa!" exclaimed Caryatid. "Dial it back!"

"DIAL IT BACK???" screamed Linda. "DIAL IT BACK!!!???"

And without warning Linda lunged at Caryatid. Caryatid slipped on her ring of invisibility, but Linda's hands reached for the last place Caryatid had been and closed around her throat, choking her. The hippie (did I say they were hippies? Actually, berserkers!) who had been counting the shekels cowered in the corner, arms wrapped around his head.

Jimmy jumped at Gulleck, and Gulleck, who was loath to respond with lethal force against these clearly unhinged people, sidestepped him and tripped him as he attacked. Dwarven jujitsu! Gulleck quickly sat on Jimmy and held his arms behind his back.

Caryatid struggled but was unable to free herself from Linda's choking grasp, and was strangled to death, becoming visible as she slumped to the ground. Now, do you remember the little monkey that Caryatid acquired in a far-away land, named Marcel, and carried around on her shoulder? Well, these are the moments when decisions like that pay off. When Marcel saw his mistress strangled to death, he went absolutely stark raving insane. He pulled a dagger from Caryatid's belt and stabbed Linda again and again until she fell, blood spraying everywhere.

"LINDA!!!" screamed the cowering hippie, and charged the adventurers. Remus took the brunt of the impact, and he was slammed into the stone wall. His head cracked against the wall and he fell to the floor, dead. Marcel leapt off of Linda's corpse to stab at this hippie with the dagger, opening up deep wounds as the knife rose and fell. The hippie fell with a shriek. It was a one monkey bloodbath (all attack and damage rolled completely legitimately, I should add!).

Jimmy wouldn't stop struggling, so Gulleck whacked him on the head with the flat of his axe and he fell stunned. The surviving adventurers tied Jimmy up with some rope and then waited for him to regain consciousness.

"Oh no, man, what happened! Somethin' really bad..." Jimmy looked around with wide eyes at the four bloody corpses surrounding him. "Oh, man, this is a real bummer..."

Gulleck and Simon did their best to keep Jimmy calm as they tried to explain. Jimmy seemed contrite. Gulleck told him about the pool at the south end of the dungeon level that could revive the recently deceased and suggested he try bringing Linda and the other to the pool. Jimmy agreed to escort Gulleck out of the hippies' den, so that Caryatid and Remus could be revived. They passed through a lounge, where four hippies lay on couches and bedrolls, staring vaguely into space or meditating.

"Whoa," said one of the hippies as Caryatid's and Remus's corpses were carried through. "Bad trip, man."

The ceremonial drums of the orcs were echoing through the halls as the adventures carries the bodies of the comrades to the resurrection pool. The pool was just across a hall from the orc temple, and they could hear an orc's voice raised in exhortation: "Oh, great Ashaku'mar! Grant us retribution against Gong Inspectors!"

Caryatid and Remus were lowered into the mystical pool of slippery warm liquid, where they emerged gasping moments later, fully healed of all wounds and marks. The group fled upstairs and returned to the Rusty Lantern tavern, with nothing but war stories to show for their efforts.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Idalium Game 58: In the Palace of the Goblin King

Session date: Monday, August 8, 2016
Game date: Saturday, February 1, 209 

PCs:
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10093/17000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11726/20000

Retainers:
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3429/4000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 119/1500

A smaller roster than on recent evenings, with just the "dynamic duo" of Gulleck and Caryatid and their retainers. The adventurers consulted with a tailor in the neighborhood near the Rusty Lantern tavern, to duplicate the embroidered togas that allowed safe passage through the Temple of Hedonism (including a miniature toga for Caryatid's pet monkey Marcel), and then entered the dungeon with no particular goal in mind this evening.

They encountered a handful of random wandering monsters that they either avoided or that posed no threat to them. This included the ominous sight of a pair of the "Weeping Angels" last seen to have mysteriously vanished from the courtyard of the Temple of Death. Gulleck opened the door to the Temple of Hedonism and there they were in the vestibule. The stone statues of angels stood incongruously in the narrow hall, seemingly stopped in midstride. Everyone played along and backed into the temple without taking their eyes off the statues, and certainly, no one dared to blink!

Down on the second level, the group visited the lair of the orcs to see how they had responded to the theft of their gong and depletion of their forces. Unusually, no orcs stood guarding the entrance to their lair. On the floor lay a crude clay bowl containing a few coppers, below a sign painted on a scrap of wood that read, "LEEV TOLE" with an arrow pointing to the bowl.

The adventurers laughed roundly at the orcs' cowardice and continued on their merry way. In one room they stumbled on a half dozen of the young urchins who seemed to live in the dungeon. Though usually friendly with the adventurers, they jumped in surprise as the party entered the room and nearly fell over themselves trying to run away. Gulleck calmed them down and asked why they were so nervous. It turned out that one of their number, a girl named Vicki, had been kidnapped by the goblins, and the rest of the urchins were feeling particularly vulnerable and on edge. Gulleck and Caryatid promised to help find Vicki and bring her back if possible, and said they would leave a note for the urchins in the Temple of Hedonism. (Kind of a funny place to leave messages for children, if you ask me!)

Further along in the dungeon, they passed a pair of swinging saloon doors (yes, just like in the Old West), behind which came the incongruous sound of singing and laughing in weird, high-pitched voices. Inside, the party found a half dozens goblins partying in the old tavern room: dancing on the bar, guzzling wine from an ancient cask, playing cards around a table. They were friendly and eagerly invited the adventurers to join them. Gulleck offered them a bottle of wine from his backpack and they became friendlier still. The adventurers made small talk with the impish creatures, and then carefully broached the subject of the missing child. The goblins grinned conspiratorially. "Oh, she's come to live with us in our palace. She's come of her own free will and we would never hurt a hair on her head!"

The adventurers asked the goblins for directions to the palace, which the goblins were very happy to give them. Through the caves, east of the rope bridge. The adventurers were welcomed to visit the palace and meet the Goblin King. They could join him for a feast and partake of the goblin's delicious food, the likes of which was unrivalled for flavor. In fact, the goblins assured them, once they had tasted of the food, the goblins were confident they would want to come back again and again for more.

That did nothing to reassure the players! And off they went, following the goblins' directions to the palace of the Goblin King.

In the caves to the east, south of the dodgy rope bridge that spans a chasm, the adventurers followed a winding passage that ended in a small cave chamber that gave way to polished flagstones and an incongruous pair of ornate double doors. Gulleck knocked cautiously on the doors, and craned his neck to look up at the huge, hulking goblins that opened the doors from the other side. Inside the doors was a small guardroom in which four of the looming, hairy creatures were stationed, peering down at the adventurers with their baleful, bulging eyes.

"What business do you have in the Palace of the Goblin King?" one of the guards asked, in the eerie, hooting voice common to these creatures.

"We've come to seek an audience with the Goblin King. We were invited!"

"You must leave your weapons here. They will be returned to you when you leave the palace."

Nobody was happy about this (they have a very uneasy "friendly terms" thing going on with the goblins, which has only become even less easy with the new implications about the children), but they eventually figured that they had come here just to make inquiries, not to attack the goblins in their own lair. They handed over their obvious weapons, though Caryatid made a point to conceal her magical wands.

After being left to wait for some time, the party was escorted by a pair of the looming goblins into the hallways of the palace. The floors were tiled with black and white squares similar to that of the Goblin Market, slightly off-kilter and crooked in an unsettling way. The walls likewise seemed just ever-so-slightly out of square, producing a disorienting feeling when contrasted with the opulence of the hallways, lined with torch sconces, tapestries, and other decorations. Occasionally, they passed hallway junctions that were marked with curious pieces of furniture: a writing desk, a large stuffed ostrich, a tall fish tank containing strange ocean denizens...

The goblins led the party on a bizarre, circuitous route, and the players (and characters) were frantically trying to sketch out a map in case they needed to make a quick retracing of their steps. They turned a corner and suddenly the map made no sense at all. According to it, they should have turned back against another hallway where there was a solid wall, but now the hall stretched out in front of them!

"What? Whaaat?! Whaaaaat!" sputtered Gulleck's player, as the map became increasingly nonsensical. Eventually, the players tossed up their hands in despair and declared that Marcel (Caryatid's monkey) had been doing the mapping as they walked (and doing a poor job of it). They were led through the disorienting hallways and eventually through a corridor whose walls were lined with various flags and pennants, and then passed through a pair of doors into a great hall where goblins and hobgoblins were engaged in a raucous feast. Platters of sublimely beautiful fruit and meats sat on the table, and goblins were devouring the food with relish. Energetic music came from a corner, where a small band of goblins played unfamiliar instruments. There were goblins laying on a table below large barrels and kegs of wine and beer, letting the liquid pour directly into their mouths. As the adventurers surveyed the alarming sight before them, they made eye contact with a pair of hobgoblins seated at the head table, and recognized their "friends" Margleton and Clabberpus. The hobgoblins smiled and nodded to them in greeting across the room.

The adventurers were ushered to seats near the head table, and they sat looking nervously at the preternaturally delicious-looking food laid in front of them, whispering to each other not to eat it. Suddenly, a door behind the head table was thrown open, and a tall, striking hobgoblin strutted in. He wore a resplendent doublet, tight leather pants, and a felt top hat, which he swept from his head and tossed into the crowd. His features were bold and angular, almost elfin but with the same sort of feral danger present in all of the goblins. Imagine a cross between David Bowie's Goblin King in "Labyrinth" and Tim Curry's Dr. Frank in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

"Welcome to the Palace of the Goblin King!" he called to the adventurers. He spoke in an exaggeratedly posh accent. "How d'you do? I see you've met my... right-hand men," he said with a curl of his lips, wrapping his arms around Margleton and Clabberpus as he sank into his throne at the center of the head table. "And to what do I owe the extreme pleasure of your company?" And without giving them a chance to respond, he continued, "Ohhh, have you come to join us and stay here with us? Oh, do say you have, it would be positively ducky! We could feast together, and you could stay here forever and forever and ever..." His smile grew wider and more predatory as he spoke.

"Uh... thanks for the offer, but I'm afraid we can't accept right now," stammered Gulleck. "Actually, uh, Your Majesty, we've come to ask about some children."

"Yes? What children would those be?"

"Well, we've been given to understand that some children have perhaps come to live here, and we wanted to find out if everything was all right."

"Oh, those children!" smiled the Goblin King. "Oh yes, everything's fine. They're here of their own free will, you must understand. Nobody comes here except by their own free choice. We would never coerce anyone, especially not children."

"All the same," said Gulleck, "perhaps we could see the children?"

"I don't see why not," said the Goblin King amiably. He murmured instructions to a goblin servant, who hurried from the feast hall. "Now while we wait, please, enjoy your meal. I'm sure it will be the most delicious repast you have had in oh, ever so long. In fact, I'm positive that once you taste our food, you'll want to stay here and have it any time you like... So please, tuck in!" The adventurers made various excuses, or moved the food around on their plate. Some of them surreptitiously tucked away some food in a belt pouch for further investigation back in Idalium.

After a few minutes, the goblin servant returned with four children. They looked well fed and uninjured, having traded their urchin rags for the more brightly-colored rags of the goblins. Vicki was there, whom the other urchins had been searching for, as well as Jo, Dorothy, and a boy named Jamie. Vicki told Gulleck not to worry about them, that they were happy to be safe in the Goblin Palace. "We don't have to hide and scavenge for food any more. We're all grown up now." She told them that she trusted the Goblin King and that they wanted to stay in the palace. The other three children nodded and expressed agreement.

"Well, I really think you should reconsider," said Gulleck, but he was unable to muster a convincing argument that life with the goblins was worse than the hard knock life of a dungeon urchin.

"Are you satisfied that no harm has come to them?" asked the Goblin King jovially. "You see, they're happy here!"

Having ascertained the situation of the lost urchins, the adventurers politely disengaged themselves from the feast. The Goblin King was disappointed to see them go, but graciously waved for a party of guards to escort them back to the entrance. "Oh well, feel free to stop by any time you like. Although, best to make an appointment for an audience. I'm such a busy man, you know."

The guards led them back through the back door, through unfamiliar corridors that followed no logical path, and eventually they emerged at the guardroom where they had entered. They made an appointment to see the Goblin King for early next Saturday, and then collected their weapons and headed back to the surface. They were troubled by their discovery, and deeply suspicious of the sparkling and shining fruit tucked away in their packs...

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Player Journals from Session 57

Journal of Tod Quasit Jr. Sunday January 26th, 209
 
I can't get the stench of Orc out of my nose. Yes. It's been a while since I wrote in this journal. Too long. But I can finally calm my thoughts down enough to seem rational. I think. Am I dreaming this? Do you hear me? Jibber was right. Maybe I should think about adjusting my life style. But then again, he's started talking in earnest to a stuffed rabbit he bought at the Goblin Market for a kiss who he has named Lord Stuffins. It is hard to take serious life style advise from a fellow prone to this sort of behavior. When I confronted him about it, he said it was a form of therapy condoned by The Church and he was doing research. He mentioned something about a phone to God. I have no idea what that means.

So yesterday, we descended into the Under City as usual, to check up on the gnome's progress in the hole we have commissioned. Flap Jinkins said it would probably be a couple more weeks. That hole is already 30 feet deep. How thick are these floors? Then we ran into the Wraith King. I like to think I'm a brave sort. I generally don't back down from a fight but the sight of this guy froze me in my tracks. Jibber and his rabbit did not seem at all concerned. I don't want to talk about the Wraith King anymore, other then to say he seems concerned with the general tidiness of the tunnels and he generally didn't harm anyone.

We gathered ourselves together and went down to the second level. Just for the fun of it I drank the pink liquid from the fountain in the orgy room. Now I'm a girl. Let's just leave it at that. That elf drank it too and now she's a man. Jibber refused to drink. Lord Stuffins apparently advised him against it.

After much discussion, we decided to have a go at the orcs standing guard by their annoying gong. Gulleck hates that gong and I do too. We confronted the guards telling them we were there to inspect their gong. They weren't buying it. Then I said we were taking a census. They didn't buy it. Out popped an Orc and he shot an arrow at Gulleck and missed. I got out my bow and shot back. Thwunk! Right through the neck. We killed three of them and one got away. We took their gong and dumped it into the ravine. Then we went around and tried to attack from the other entrance.

A Great Battle ensued. I think that guy Meat who travels around with Gulleck hit Gulleck in the back with an arrow. Nice miss Wally. Gulleck tumbled down the steps but made it back up. Many orcs and orclike men were killed. Gulleck got himself a fancy shield. It got late and it was time to go home. We'll save the rest of the orcs for another day I guess. Time for another bath and then I'm meeting Jibber at The Filthy Arab for a well deserved Sunday brunch and drinks.

Idalium Game 57: Gong Inspectors

Session date: Monday, July 25, 2016
Game date: Saturday, January 18, 209

PCs:
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 3, hp 16, xp 6235/8000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 10054/17000
Tyrriel, Elf 2, hp 7, xp 6237/8000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11687/20000

Retainers:
Father Jibber, Cleric 3, hp 16, xp 3196/6000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3409/4000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 2, hp 4, xp 2603/5000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 99/1500

Another unusual opportunity for Tod and Tyrriel's players to attend, which of course meant a somewhat sillier and less focused session than usual. (It's just the nature of things when your more "irregular" players finally get to play.) The session opened with some back story and exposition from the other players to fill in Tod and Tyrriel about the strange shadow demons, the golden idol they guarded, and the daring heist that was planned to liberate said idol from their clutches. Craftsmen in the city were hard at work making a custom harness, supplying a winch, etc., and the dungeon gnomes were busily digging away at the shaft straight down into the room with the idol.

On their way to the second level, the party stopped by the temple room where the gnomes were digging to check on their progress. The diminutive miners had a whole operation rigged up, with ropes and scaffolding in the partially completed shaft, and the southern end of the underground avenue outside the temple was filling up with discarded dirt and rubble. The shaft was perhaps thirty feet deep, and the gnome foreman said that he expected that they would complete the excavation in a couple of weeks. Gulleck made it clear that they were not to break through the final ceiling slab until they were present and ready to execute the heist.

As the adventurers left the gnomes and crossed the avenue to enter the temple of hedonism that provided them access to the second level, a terrifying thing occurred. The temple doors swung open, and a chilling apparation drifted out. It was man-shaped, shrouded in tattered, disintegrating robes, its face obscured by a deep hood, upon which rested a tarnished and dented silver coronet. Instead of legs, the apparition simply faded away at the bottom of its torso. The sight of the ghostly vision struck an unnatural fear into most of the party members, who found themselves rooted to the spot, unable to move. The figure moved into their midst, and paused to glance at the untidy pile of rubble the gnomes had been dumping at the end of the avenue. It seemed to shake its head disapprovingly and then passed between the fear-stricken adventurers, drifting silently off into the darkness to the north. The cold fear relinquished its grip on the adventurers and they drew deep shuddering breaths, collecting themselves.

They returned to the gnomes to ask about this uncanny apparition. The gnomes' faces drew pale. "We call him the Wraith Lord. He doesn't seem hostile but isn't he terrible to see?" When Gulleck pointed out that the Wraith Lord seemed displeased by the mess in the hallway, the gnomes' grim expressions grew even more uncomfortable.

The party went down from the temple of hedonism and into the inner sanctum below, pausing to consider the brightly-splashing fountains that played in the room. One of the fountains was a sculpture of a young man and young woman partially dressed in togas, embracing each other and intermingling waters from a pair of pitchers. The water from this fountain had once caused a pair of horrible orcs to become infatuated with Gulleck and Caryatid. The other fountain depicted a beautiful young woman, toga falling down around her waist, lifting a pitcher above her head to pour shimmering water into the fountain trough. No one had ventured to drink this water until now, when Tod decided it had been too long since something interesting happened. Cupping his hands under the water, he took a deep draft, and when he turned round, he was a she! Her facial features were unmistakably familiar as Tod's, but her features and figure had undergone a strange transformation. Not to be outdone, Tyrriel sipped from the same fountain, and now the elf was male. (There were jokes made about this not representing all that much of a change.)

More sips from the same fountain did not reverse the change, so still laughing at their altered companions, the adventurers headed out onto the second level. Their goal: to pick a fight with the orcs that lived nearby. Two orcs stood guard in the hallway in front of a short flight of steps leading down into their lair. A round metal alarm gong hung from a wooden frame next to them. The orcs attempted to collect a toll from the party, as usual, but Tod was in no mood for such small talk. "Gong inspectors!" he shouted. "We're here to take your gong for inspection." The orcs were as humorless as ever, and the conversation grew tenser and louder until swords were drawn and the argument became violent.

Tod and Gulleck quickly dealt with the orcs, and the victorious adventurers gleefully carried away the gong into the nearby caves to the east, where they pitched it into a chasm spanned by a flimsy rope bridge. They heard it splash into running water far below.

Then they returned to the orcs' lair to try their luck at the other entrance. The orcs were waiting for them in the dark at the bottom of the stairs, and a pitched battle ensued. Meat had a critical failure (a natural 1 followed by a successful attack roll against Gulleck) and accidentally shot Gulleck in the back at point blank range. Gulleck went tumbling down the stairs into the orc lair, bringing several orcs down with him as he rolled down the steps.

In addition to orcs, a handful of strange bestial men joined the battle. They looked to be halfway between humans and orcs, and some were more orc-like than others. They wore plate armor and wielded war hammers.

Gulleck recovered and retreated back up the stairs at the approach of the strange orclike men, but meanwhile another group of orcs came running up the hall from the direction of the southern entrance to their lair. The party was flanked! It was a fortunate day to have Tyrriel and her (his!) retainer Wilhelm along, for Tyrriel cast a magical sleep upon the bestial men and Wilhelm likewise put the newly-arrived orcs to sleep. All were then sent to a far deeper slumber with grim efficiency by Meat.

The party quickly looted some small change and a few gemstones from the bodies of the orcs and their odd companions, and Gulleck acquired a particularly fine shield from the leader of the orclike men. Then they beat a hasty withdrawal to the Rusty Lantern, happy to have inflicted some serious losses on the orcs.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Idalium Game 56: The Gang's All Here

Session date: Monday, July 25, 2016
Game date: Saturday, January 18, 209

PCs:
Tod P. Quasit, Jr., Fighter 3, hp 16, xp 6081/8000
Gulleck Stonefoot, Dwarf 4, hp 23, xp 9926/17000
Tyrriel, Elf 2, hp 7, xp 6103/8000
Caryatid, Magic-user 4, hp 19, xp 11559/20000
Simon Sackwell, Halfling 1, hp 4, xp 1049/2000

Retainers:
Father Jibber, Cleric 3, hp 16, xp 3126/6000
Manley "Meat" Smythe, Fighter 2, hp 13, xp 3345/4000
Wilhelm, Magic-user 2, hp 4, xp 2536/5000
Brother Chase Pike, Cleric 1, hp 6, xp 35/1500

It had been a long while since we got the entire roster of players together for a game. A fair amount of time was spent socializing, bantering, and catching up Tod and Tyrriel's players on the recent events of the campaign.

The first portion of the session involved taking care of some investigations in the surface of the Idalium. The party travelled to the crooked and steep streets of The Steps to visit the elderly sage, Professor Zinn. The professor greeted them as usual in his 5th floor apartment overlooking the city. He listened to their description of the shadowy beings with interest and consulted "the usual references, Tobin's Spirit Guide..." He told them that there were reports of creatures like these, entities of darkness itself, invulnerable to ordinary steel and capable of sapping one's very bodily strength with a touch. Contrary to their expectations, he told them that these creatures were not to be considered the undead like the skeletons and ghouls they had encountered before, but something else.

The group had a long discussion about how to pull off a "heist" and extract the idol and associated treasures without engaging the shadows, if at all possible. Some sort of leather harness would need to be commissioned to wrap around the gilded statue, and a winch would be needed at the top of the shaft. Later that they visited a leatherworker who supplied teamsters and dockworkers, and commissioned a custom harness that would meet their needs.

They next inquired at the Runcible Trading House which had hosted a magical auction the previous year. There had been a book of ancient religions of Idalium that they wanted to inquire after, but Lord Runcible informed them it had been auctioned to a wealthy landowner and when they made inquiries at his manor, they were told he was out of town inspecting his farms and would not return for at least a week.

They visited the Great Cathedral to ask about the shadows, and Father Merrimoon corroborated Professor Zinn's belief that these shadowy creatures were something different from undead, and the prayers of Father Jibber and Brother Pike were unlikely to influence them.

Finally, they descended into the dungeon in search of adventure and treasure. Realizing it was near the full moon, the idea was mooted to visit the Goblin Market and that met with applause from everyone except Caryatid, who viewed it as a big junk sale. Everything went well for them. They met a flock of stirges in the town square which were sleepy and let them pass. In the temple of hedonism they had the misfortune of rolling TWO random encounters while the party was split trying to get past the crystal statue that only lets you pass if you are wearing the official toga of the cult. They don't have sufficient togas for everyone, so they have to pass in batches. Tod, Jibber, and Wilhelm were still upstairs when they encountered a trio of angry orcs, but they merely slipped past the statue and taunted the orcs to run towards them, where they were stoutly punched by the statue. Downstairs, the rest of the party encountered two large and fierce baboons in the temple's inner sanctum, but Gulleck used his magical ring of animal control to compel one baboon to attack the other.

Through the second level halls and into the caverns they passed. They met an suspicious gang of merchants who were looking for the goblins as well. Tod and Tyrriel picked an unnecessary fight with the traders, and just as things started to heat up and blades were drawn, Tyrriel cast a wave of magical slumber across the men. She relieved them of a couple of nice jewels and left them a bottle of wine with a note upon which she wrote, "Think next time!"

At the Goblin Market, they reluctantly handed over their weapons at the entrance to the bizarre lanky tall goblins that looked down on them with baleful bulbous eyes and welcomed them to the market in their eerie hooting voices. The market was quieter than the last time they had been here. Four of the placid and spacey "hippies" were making purchases at one of the table. A woman dressed in black robes and an opaque black veil that hung in front of her face from a wide-brimmed hat sat at a table behind an assortment of vials and flasks. Tyrriel spoke with this woman and learned that she lived on an island in the middle of the underground sea one level below this place, and she made potions. Tyrriel took the opportunity to sell some of the strange fluids and components she had been collecting over the months: venom sacs from a giant spider, the tentacles from a carrion crawler, blood from the mysterious basin in the temple the gnomes were currently digging within. She bought an invisibility potion from the mysterious veiled witch.

As before, there were goblins selling strange and slightly unsettling things, as well. A collection of bone relics of dubious saints and heretics; a number of decapitated and meticulously preserved heads of sprites, wrapped in gauze made of spider silk (Tyrriel traded three giant hawk feathers for three of these heads); and a sad little stuffed bunny rabbit made of velveteen, slightly singed and scorched looking. Father Jibber was persuaded by Tod to buy it from the hobgoblin dealer for a kiss from a priest, which the goblin found so scandalizingly amusing that he could not refuse.

Around this point the traders that they had encountered in the caverns stumbled in, looking grouchy and out of sorts. They were carrying bags of rusty old swords and spears to sell to the goblins. The party decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and crept out of the market before they were noticed.