Sunday, June 23, 2013

Into the Pit

Our fourth session of DDC picked up with the party headed east on the urging of the Ymae the witch. A terrible threat was being wakened by mysterious grey cloaked figures in or about The Great Stinking Fissure of Gorm (no relation to Grom the Wizard). These figures had been seen around Lemsby, just before the events of the Sailors on the Starless Sea and had urged thieves from Hirot to break into an ancient tomb releasing an imprisoned demon hound to afflict the town.

The Company;

  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief
  • Draug the Warrior
Sebastien - I keep forgetting to write done Seb's character's names! Sorry man...
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis
  • Thorkell the Warrior - left at the top of the pit
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior
  • Bezal the halfling - left at the top of the pit
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Chester the thief - left at the top of the pit
  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Jenson the Warrior - left at the top of the pit
The action opened with with the crew coming over a rise and glimpsing the village of Lusates and the infamous Great Stinking Fissure of Gorm a few miles beyond. There were dark clouds emerging from the fissure which was many miles wide and many more long. There was a sulfer smell on the wind and a minor earth tremor shook the ground. 

A farmer, with his family and pigs in cart, stopped to chat and the gang learned that people were leaving the town. It was a very rich and fertile area, but the tremors and the stink had been getting much worse in the last few months, ever since the hollow star had turned up and the grey cloaks had been spotted. The final straw had been in the last few weeks when a few lone farmsteads had been smashed, the inhabitants missing. In one instance the family of a farm had managed to fight off a group of grey cloaks directing a massive worm. After that people started packing up. Thanking the farmer the party moved on, but not before Chaz bought a pig.

The town was obviously very affluent. Even the simple houses were solid and well kept, painted with bright colours, orange being predominant. The fields around the town were very verdant, and roads were well cobbled. At the Inn they found the innkeeper in the process of packing things up, and charging exorbitant prices. He was happy enough to answer questions for free though, confirming what the farmer had said. He gave a patronizing little laugh when the crew told him that they would deal with the underground threat. There had been a previous group of adventurers, he told them, that said the same thing a couple of weeks ago before they marched off to save the town. They had never returned from the crevice. 

A visit to the small temple was next and the party discovered from the priest that legend had it that a great beast lived beneath the earth and in ages past sacrifices had been given to quell its hunger, but no such sacrifice had been made in living memory. He also spoke about the appearance of the grey cloaks and that they must be members of some cult dedicated to chaos. He directed the group to an ancient pit north of the town, just before the great fissure where sacrifices were supposedly made, but no one had visited it due to its evil reputation. Ryan the cleric and Daniloth the elf both noticed that the temple was built on much more ancient foundations, into which were carved an obscure wavy script that they were not able to make heads or tales of. 

After a night at the expensive inn the crew set off at first light and soon came to the pit referred to by the priest. It was a hundred feet wide and many hundreds of yards before the edge of The Great Stinking Fissure of Gorm. Worn stone stairs spiralled down its inner surface meeting a layer of
Who's throwing pigs at me...?
obscuring and frightfully smelly mist about forty feet down. Someone tossed a rock in and they listened to it clatter for a while. Then Grom and Chaz decided that they would send the pig that Chaz had bought down first. A dubious plan, made more so by the fact that the pig had no intention of going near the pit. Grom managed to man handle the poor struggling thing and partially roll it down the first few steps, where it promptly fell off the edge and went plummeting, thumping and squealing for long moments. There was a collective faceplant as everyone now realized that whoever was down there now knew that someone was up here. 

After some squabbling the crew began a nervous decent down the perilous stairs. It was not lost on them that a single misstep could result in a very long fall. Unfortunately, Grom's spiderclimb spell wasn't nearly as effective as in the serpent mound near Hirot. As they approached the mist layer, Daniloth's keen eyes spied figures moving slowly up the stairs toward them. The party paused and a grey robed head poked partially above the mist, its face hidden. "Have you come to join us?" Came a sibilant whisper, "to worship the great Palimdybis?" 

The party looked at one another for a moment. "Why yes" said Chaz, "Yes we have". 

"Excellent" replied the whisperer. "Put down your weapons and come to us". 

"We'd actually like to hang on to our weapons if that's alright with you." This was met with seething hisses and muttering. 

"Put them down! Join us! Join us!" This seemed to signal the end of formal negotiations as Grom yelled  "Colour Spray!" and immediately forgot how to cast the spell. The rest of the crew leapt into action and arrows were loosened and forward party members charged, carefully mind you, down the steps. It was a relatively quick fight as one of the cloaked figures attempted to block the charge and the others started a hideous chanting call. They never got to successfully complete whatever magic they were attempting as they were violently kicked and hammered off the stairs. One cultist, however, didn't fall when struck down and a horrendous pulpy mass exploded from its chest and continued the attack before it was dealt with. Poking at the cultist's body, they discovered that it had no face so to speak of. Just a slit mouth and a blank rubbery visage with limp fleshy feelers ringing the outer edge. Suitably grossed out, the party continued its downward progress. 

Below the mist layer they found it to be humid and shadowy. The stairs continued to spiral down a short way but crumbled off perhaps fifty feet further on. Three doors in the pit's stoney side were seen, two easily accessible and the third further down passed a break in the stairs. The pit itself dropped alarmingly into a deep darkness, with the unsettling sense that something massive squirmed in the depths below. 

Heaving aside the first door they were greeted by a cultists rising groggily from kneeling before some sort of alter. He was dispatched forthwith and the crew set about searching the little prayer room. Ryan the cleric noticed the same curious swirly script from the town's temple on the door frame of the room, and Brand poked at some heavy egged shaped stones trying to estimate their value to weight ratio. Daniloth's secret door sense pinged and they found a little hidden passage behind the alter. 

Always willing to risk it for the chance at treasure, Brand crept in and discovered a cramped dusty old passage, crawling with little pale spiders which had painful bites. After disarming a trap, the rest of the crew squeezed in and made their way along. They discover a couple of other passages leading down from this one but kept creeping along until they found themselves emerging into a second prayer room similar to the first. Deciding to go back to the two passages they passed by, the party discovered the first one lead down an odd winding corridor to a small cavern. The cavern had an weird other worldly feel to it, a sense that was compounded by an pool of water on the ceiling, complete with a stalagmite dripping water up into the pool. The crew prepared itself for all sorts of reverse gravity situations and cautiously entered the room to find it pretty normal. Well except for the dripping up water. 

Brand decided it was time to investigate the upside down pool. He was lofted up on Chaz's shoulders and rammed head first into the pool and couple of times. Spluttering and choking he still managed to grope about and clamp his hands around a massive gold colored ring. Pulling it out, they found it had and odd script on it that no one recognized. It was also enormous, easily fitting over someone's arm almost like a torc. After a few more experiments where they found the water seemed to always fall up, the crew collected some in a couple of water skins and departed. 

They then checked out the second tunnel leading off the secret passage. This tunnel also lead down, more like a chute really, so they tied rope at the top so they could climb back up. Brand, as almost always, went first. Before he got to the bottom he heard scraping sounds of something massive and tugged on the rope to be hauled back up. Not wanting to alert whatever was down there, Daniloth, with his see in the dark elvish eyes, was sent down next. Daniloth managed to peer out the end of the tunnel and see a massive worm like creature undulating about a circular room. The length of the worm appeared to disappear down a hole in the center of the room, and bizarrely had a rope ladder affixed to it. Daniloth cautiously got down and found the worm thing didn't seem to react to his presence. He spotted another rough passage leading away from this one and quietly called the others down to investitsge. One by one they slid down the chute and all made their way past the worm and into the rough side tunnel. A few speculated about what the worm was. Grom seemed to think it was the very beast they'd been sent to kill, while Brand was of the mind it was some sort of transportation system. 

Like this. Only scarier.
The side tunnel opened into a natural cave which the gang figured must be more or less directly under the first worship room. Oddly there were a number of very old statues in the cave, worn and broken and one very new statue near the centre of a young man, dressed as a swordsman. The statue's expression was one of terror. "Wait a minute...." said Ryan the cleric as the crew heard the hiss of a beast lowering itself down the rocks toward them. It was a large lizard like creature with metallic scales, a golden horn and glowing red eyes. "Basilisk!" cried Ryan and the fight was on.

It was a tough one, made tougher by Ryan's goddess becoming fickle and denying healing and imposing disfavour. A second basilisk joined the first and things looked dire. It was down to a couple of lucky rolls but the band managed to scrape though, battered and bruised. The golden horns were hacked off and the party returned to the giant worm room. Here the group had to convince Grom, being somewhat convinced that this was the beast they were here to kill, not to start an attack. They decided to go back up to the second worship room and take a look at the third door along the stair well.

Concocting an elaborate rope system the band crossed the gap of collapsed stair to the third door. They also noticed a small cave entrance just a few yards further down the side of the pit. Grom spell burned to remember spiderclimb but just ended up summoning a swarm of little evil biting spiders when he cast it, narrowly avoiding corruption with another spell burn. It was the first time Grom had suffered something worse than a misfire, which was quite amazing considering the number of casts he makes.

So standing before the third door the crew prepared to enter, and that folks is were we left it til next time.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Doom Averted; Villagers Cheer

It's been a crazy couple of weeks so I haven't had a chance to update the actual play. We've had two sessions since my last post.

Our second session of the Doom of the Savage Kings, and third DCC session, was excellent - plenty of energy from the players, everyone was full of character, playing smart and fun.

The Company;

  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief
  • Rubin the Warrior
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis
  • Thorkell the Warrior
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior
  • Adel & Bezal - 0 level halflings
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Chester and Lester - 0 level radish farmers
  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Jenson the Warrior
We picked up the action right where we left off. With Ryan the Cleric having just crawled out of the secret passage above the door in the great chamber of Ulfheonar's tomb. He was carrying a mighty wolf spear (the real one) and a magical drinking horn which his divinely inspired intuition told him had some very useful healing properties.

With their super spider powers from Grom's spectacular spider climb still good for another 23 hours, the party continued to investigate the rest of the tomb, mainly by walking on the ceiling. Brand performed admirably as a scout, with his very keen, elephantine ears. At one point he went ahead into a side tomb and received a bit of a shock when something scuttled out of the dark toward him. There followed an intense half-lit battle along the tomb's ceiling between our spider heroes and some snake filled tomb ghouls. After numerous sticky webs were shot, the death of a couple of 0 level side kicks, and the near death of a couple of 1st levelers, the band managed to defeat the ghouls and recover some magical berserker hide armour.

Searching the rest of the tomb they came across a nasty open pit filled with spears, but couldn't figure how it could be an effective trap unless one were to be somehow driven madly down its connecting corridor. At the end of that corridor was found the massive stone entrance door that they had initially avoided when arriving at the tomb earlier. Deciding to open it now, they heaved at it and were rewarded with fresh air, sunlight and sparkly water in the pond that had formed at the entrance to the tomb. Brand decided to see if there was anything to that sparkle effect and went sloshing forward. Everyone else stood back and pulled out snacks to watch the inevitable disaster unfold. Brand turned back to let everyone know that the water was harmless, nice even, but just found them all staring in horror at something behind him. He turned and and noticed two things. A couple of figures at the edge of the forest ducking back under the cover of the trees and, perhaps more jarringly, a massive animated column of water with gapping snakelike head.

Now, Brand is an very entertaining character. He is constantly stuffing treasure down his pants. His
Om nom nom nom
greed outweighs his sense of self preservation. He's petulant, cocky and petty. He's also almost died about four times. But this fifth time seemed like the final one for Brand. Despite a few brave attempts, by Ryan the Cleric especially, Brand was smashed, swallowed, drowned and shot out onto the pond's edge beyond the reach of the rest of the group, apparently very dead. The massive water snake chased the remaining party members down the entrance corridor, and they suddenly realized how dangerous that spear trap would have been if they hadn't been all spidered up. The beasty crashed into the spear pit chamber and washed away as the crew stuck to the roof.

Deciding to take one last crack at the big bronze doors in the far chamber before they left to recover Brand's body (he may be an entertaining character, but there's little love lost between the party's characters...). After another 20 minutes of hammering at that big door, they finally decided that it must be a fake and packed up to leave by the same crumbled hole in the wall they'd come in by. Outside they found that their donkey, supplies, remaining 0 level tag alongs and Brand's body were all gone.

Puzzling over this the party heard a shout from the woods above and saw a disreputable sort of woodsman holding a knife to Brand's throat, who seemed water logged and disoriented, but alive (Brand had made his "Turned Over" roll when the bandit had come to check his corpse..!). There were four other woodsmen with bows trained on the crew. The bandits demanded the wolfspear in exchange for the lives of their captives (they had the 0 levels and donkey as well). Offering up the fake wolfspear instead, Chez the warrior brought it forward and jabbed it in the ground near the pond. Two of the bowmen came forward and just as they reached the spear, Brand made a wild (and lucky) attempt to get out of the knife hold and managed not only escape but ended up holding the knife. The woodsmen were slow on the draw as the party used the distraction to act. Most went rushing up the hill to get at the leader and the two bowmen behind him. Chez however threw his pack into the pond beside the spear and the two woodsmen next to it. The water immediately erupted as the giant water snake reared up again and came slamming down on the two bandits.

The fight was brutish and a couple of the bowmen tried to run off but were quickly spider web stickied in place. After some brief questioning ascertained that they'd been sent by the Jarl, they were unceremoniously dispatched. The band recovered their goods, a few extra coins from a huntsman's coin purse and several bows, which they were very happy about as they hadn't been able to get a hold of any ranged weapons up until this point. The group was torn between returning to Hirot to deal with the Jarl and pressing forward to confront the demon hound in the fens to the west now that they had the spear. They finally decided to go after the Demon Hound and set up camp for the night.

They were not visited by the hound that night (which was off ravaging Hirot presumably) and woke mostly refreshed early the next morning. The journey took a few hours before they reached the outskirts of the fens. Foul mists, mysterious shrouded shapes and treacherous paths greeted them in the bogs as they slowly made their way to its dark heart. When they came to the edge of a great sinkhole, with stinking black clouds billowing out, they knew they had found the demon hound's lair. For a moment the mists cleared and they spied a grey cloaked figure watching them from the other side of the sinkhole. Could this be one of the grey cloaks that had encouraged the no good brothers Kej, Stien and Illham to raid the tomb of Ulfeonor in the first place? Or one of the ones that had come sniffing around the village of Lemsby shortly before the demon in the Starless Sea was awakened?

The mists quickly obscured the mysterious figure and a quick look about turned up no trace. The crew decided to forge ahead and using ropes, descended into the pit. At the bottom they found a charnel of animal, human and not so human remains scattered about, with a foreboding pool of utter blackness in the centre. Daniloth the elf sensed a place of great magical power, Ryan the cleric sensed pure evil and potent chaos. Grom understanding that the black substance was likely full of magic announced that he was going to plunge his hands into the pool and pour a gout of it down his throat. Grom's pretty wild about magic like that. He's constantly firing off color spray and he's not got close to ever rolling any corruption. However this time he was quickly deterred as his hands were scorched by the strange liquid. Daniloth took a more prudent approach and tipped some into a steel vile he had been carrying about since the starless sea adventure.

Woof! Now I'm mad!
The party soon realized that they would have to wait for darkness to confront the demon hound, a prospect that they were not looking forward too. It was then that Ryan decided to invoke his deity's aid in bringing an end to this chaotic menace. Turns out that the deity Aristemis thought that was a bloody good idea (a natural 20...) and blew away all the dark cloud, allowing light to filter down into the sinkhole, filling everyone one with a +2 attack bonus of confidence for the next five rounds and calling the hound unwillingly forward to make battle.

It was a fine and desperate fight, with characters dropping and being saved by lucky rolls and quick healing from the Cleric. Finally the demon wolf was pinned with the great spear and Chez the warrior chopped the thing's head off with a mighty blow. It exploded in an almighty spray of back mist with a definite sense of finality. The black ooze dried up considerably into a small spring like trickle. Bloodied but triumphant the crew slapped each other on the back and then set about searching the pit for treasure.  A few interesting trinkets were found, included a fearsome dragon helm adopted by Jenson.

Now it was time to return to Hirot and confront the Jarl.

The guards at the town's gate knew something was up when the battered crew returned with grim smiles that evening. The guards informed them that the hound had attacked the night before, killing more villagers and the Jarl was going draw for the sacrificial lot that day. "Fear not!" cried our heroes, "for we have slain the beast for good!" 

They retired to the Wolf and Spear, and a crowd quickly gathered. It didn't take long for most of the village to show up including many of the Jarl's Thane's, some of whom looked on with clear admiration, some less so. The heroes were peppered with questions, which they answered factually or bombastically depending on who was speaking, the townsfolk growing more jubilant as they realized that their woes may be over. It was then that the doors to the tavern were smashed opened and in stalked a seething Jarl, his weaselly wizard and a couple of sour looking thanes. "Where are the defilers that have raided my ancestor's tomb and taken what is rightfully mine!" He demanded. The crowd became backed up as the Jarl and our heroes took center stage and faced off. 

There was a furious debate where the Jarl insisted the magic Wolf Spear was his as Ulfeonor was an ancestor and that it had been stolen from him, denying his right to defeat the demon wolf. The heroes pointed out that the Jarl could have claimed the spear at anytime, and they had been forced to do the Jarl's job for him, and that his lottery seemed rather suspicious. It was clear that the villagers were siding with the party, and many of the thanes too for that matter. Sensing that his very rulership was in  jeopardy, the Jarl advanced menacingly, a few of his most loyal thanes putting their hands to their swords. Chez the warrior loosened his weapons and it looked like things where about to get bloody. 

"Color Spray!" yelled Grom the wizard surprising everyone. Everyone that is except Syllus Ru the Jarl's wizard who attempted to counter Grom's spell. There followed a brief magical test of wills, but Grom's spell won the day and knocked out three targets of his choosing. "The Jarl, the weasel wizard, and that totally hot farmer's daughter over there... What!?! She looked tired! I'll come back and tend to her!"

The crowd was silent, the thanes - now obviously split into two camps, one loyal, one not - eyed each other and the party wearily. The Jarl, his wizard and a very attractive farmer lay unconscious on the tavern floor. The time was ripe! Grom leaped forward "The Jarl has been lying to you!" He was backed up by Bran, Daniloth and Ryan "The lotto is rigged!" Grabbing torches they lead the villagers and a number of thanes to the lottery box in the town square. Brand made short work of the lock and they found the secret box inside. The name on about twenty peices of paper in the secret box was "Brogeon", the popular proprietor of the Wolf and Spear. This set the villagers into a fury and whatever doubts the thanes had about their Jarl's leadership were sealed. 

"To Meadhold!" Cried Brand, thinking it would be a good opportunity to scoop up some treasure. However the thanes, though no longer loyal to the Jarl, kept an eye on the few valuable items in the great hall as the crowd stomped through. "The weasel wizard probably knew more than he was letting on - we should search his quarters!" yelled Daniloth. The thanes appeared far less concerned about Silus Ru's property and Brand and Daniloth raided his shelves and hastily stuffed important looking scrolls down their pants. "Nothing much here - back to the inn!"

Back at the Inn, the few loyal thanes left stopped a lynching and were allowed to take the stumbling Jarl and his wizard out of the town, banished in a pelting of overripe vegetables. Will we see these now bitter folk again...? 

Brogeon opened the bar to all and celebrations ran long into the night. 

Ymae's looking pretty good for an old crone...
However, at one point Brand, Ryan and Daniloth thought to check in on the old witch, Ymae. Curiously the sounds of revelry faded to a distant echo as they approached her hut and a beautiful maiden emerged. It was Ymae transformed, and suddenly Brand was regretting not taking her up on that marriage deal.

"You were successful. Good. However a greater menace grows. Under the Hollow Star, the grey
cloaks have been seeking out and waking old things, things that have slept for a very long time". Everybody felt a tremor in the ground, faint yet ominous. "Now they wake a very old power to the east, a powerful spirit of the earth. It moves underneath us all..." Another tremor. "If fully revived, it will be very hungry and all in the land will be in danger..."

And that is where we left it!