Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Food for the Worm God

Our sixth session was a quick one where we finished up People of the Pit. We'd lost half the party last time in a large underground battle. A number of "secondary" characters had been left at the top of the pit and found themselves thrust into action.

The Company;


  • Thorkell the Warrior
  • Four angry villagers
  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief - prisoner of the Worm Cult
  • Alistair the Cautious Wizard
  • Four angry villagers
  • Ryan the no nonsense Cleric of Aristemis - prisoner of the Worm Cult
John (absent, so PC's played by Jeremy, who had a small army at his command)
  • Bezal the halfling
  • Chez the "How do we start fighting here?" Warrior - prisoner of the Worm Cult
  • Chester the thief 
  • Norris the weathered Cleric
  • Jenson the Warrior - left at the top of the pit

The Dead, but not forgotten (well, except for Draug)

  • Grom "I'm a Wizard!!"
  • Daniloth the "my spells kill me" Elf
  • Draug the Warrior that no one really knew. 

When Norris stumbled to the top of the pit and cried out that something terrible had happened to the rest of the party below, the PC's leapt to immediate action discussing the merits of having a pig on adventures. This was followed by a heated debate concerning the ownership of said pig, and who,
Also good for hauling your stuff
exactly, had eaten it. When the dust settled there was a grudging acknowledgment that maybe they should go after the others since a sizeable amount of the group's wealth was tied up in the armour and weapons carried by their companions.

They trekked down into the darkness, finding their way by following the path of corpses and debris. Finally they came upon the dreadful scene of the last battle, with the many cultist corpses and the bodies of their comrades, Grom, Daniloth and Draug. There was little time for grief however as the ominous deep roarings and frequent earth tremors prompted the gang to keep going.

Wearily climbing down a massive worm tentacle with a rope ladder affixed, the band eventually found itself exiting into a deep and massive cavern. The far end was hazy with unsettled dust and there where distant robed figures near a ledge chanting and wailing, with a thundering howl answering them back. Spread out before them was looked like an ancient ruined town of stone buildings, some intact and some just crumbling walls. Eerily there were stone faces on these walls, with low primitive brows, that seemed to stare. Nearer to the band was a passage off to one side, and they decided to investigate before taking on whatever was happening at the ledge. They passed strange formations of alien rock, that befuddled even the dwavern blacksmith villager that had accompanied them. They knocked some chunks off in case it proved valuable.

The small passage lead to a little cave. There was a sandy floor. On the other side were a few skeletons and some very shiny weapons. The party stopped and everyone nodded knowingly, chuckling at the obviousness of the trap. Bezal the halfling deftly lept to the rocky wall and began to climb around keeping well away from the sand but lost his footing halfway along. Falling into the sand he struggled to get back to his companions, barely making it and suffering some suffocation damage as the sand surged about him trying to pull him under. Jenson tried next, making it to the other side and flinging the weapons, a couple of long swords and a warhammer back. Unfortunately he too slipped on the way back and was sucked under the sand. The others realizing they might just lose him, struggled to make a chain to reach him, a couple of others took suffocation damage as the sand, with an unnerving will of its own, pulled and tugged. Jenson escaped, but barely.

Thorkell hefted the hammer and was surprised when it whispered to him. "Hurun" it said.

Looking back out at the main cavern, Alistar the mage sent his cat familiar out to scout some of the low stone buildings. Looking through the cat's eyes, Alistair saw that some of the edifices were filled with and ancient machinery, similar in style to the transportation eggs. He left this stuff alone, and continued sniffing about finding another stone hut with a pile of equipment and weapons dumped on the floor in haste. A few huts further on the familiar smelled the unmistakable odor of human fear. Peeking in he saw a number of prisoners bound together. Just then there came a lumbering figure, a massive apish man, with a pronounced brow, but seemingly partially made of rock and stone. The face looked identical to the faces that stared from the stone walls of the village. The stone ape thing grabbed one of the prisoners and started moving toward the cliff edge where a number of other stone things and robed cultists were entranced with their ritual.

I will be your eyes human...
Seeing and hearing through the familiar, Alistair felt that he understood the ritual to be one of waking. These cultists were obviously waking something old and terrible, but the spell seemed rushed, as if they had been forced into it before they were ready. And with anything magical, rushed meant especially unstable. Now was the time to interrupt.

The band quickly spread out among the ruined buildings, sneaking as best they could. The prisoner was being passed up a line of stone apes towards a blue robed cultist standing on a prominence. Over the edge of the cliff ahead where hundreds of the worm tentacles waving to the undulations and chants of the cultists. Some of these tentacles were truly immense,  as thick as houses, and the air vibrated with a deep underground roaring.

Bows were aimed and swords readied.  Jenson took the first shot at stone ape about to take the prisoner but missed. Incredibly the creature didn't notice the arrow fly over it's head, and Jenson took another shot. This one landed and felled the thing, the prisoner dropping and running. The rest of the cultists were immediately alerted and turned to meet the threat. The main group rushed in while a few of the villagers focused on releasing the rest of the prisoners, including the near dead Chez, Brand and Ryan.

There was a lot of back and forth, as individuals broke and faced off against one another. The group was especially lucky and Jenson kept the pressure on the the Blue robed cultist by firing arrows at him. Unfortunately for the cultists, the tentacles under the Blue robe's control weren't very accurate, sweeping ineffectually at Jenson and others. One of the tentacles did manage to grab a villager and carried him high over the pit. In a last ditch effort, the villager (who also happened to be a jester) managed to slither out of the tentacle coils and back flip to the edge of the cliff, grasping the ankles of a red robed cultist clinging to the edge (the red robe had been chucked over the cliff by Thorkell moments earlier). He managed to scamper up the red robes back. The cultists were joined by more stone apes, as the weird faces in the rocky began to come alive and emerge.

Finally Jenson got a final bow shot through the skull of the Blue Robe and with a deafening and earth shattering roar, massive tentacles whipped into the fray and began plucking up cultists and stone apes alike and pulling them screaming into the depths. Alistair, sensitive to the ways of magic, realized that the waking ritual had now been broken and a price was being paid. Finally the fallen Blue Robe was likewise snatched away and titanic tentacles rose up tearing at the sides of the great chasm, pulling away at cliff faces. For a few awe inspiring moments, as massive boulders started collapsing about them, the band glimpsed other complexes honeycombing the distant walls of the chasm, torn open, their secrets briefly exposed to the world before collapsing into the deep earth to bury the worm god anew.
Rar! Raar! Boy am I mad! 

The band ran into the shelter of the deeper cavern, meeting up with the released prisoners and waited out the collapse. After a long while the rumbling stopped and all evidence of the worm god lay buried, and the terrible monstrosity was presumably slumbering once more. It took many hours but the group managed to find a mostly stable route up the new side of the chasm and reach the now collapsed entrance to the pit.

Making their way back to the village of Lusates, the adventures noticed that what locals where were left seemed to be poking their heads out their doors, hopeful at the sudden quiet and end to the earth tremors that had been plaguing the area for weeks. The tavern master was glad to see them, and though didn't seem quite convinced when they claimed victory over the pit demon, he did give them half off their stay for the week whilst they recovered.

And so ended People of the Pit.

I have to say that while I did enjoy PotP, it felt a little too crawly. There were a few repetitive elements that seemed unnecessary. You could probably trim the dungeon by at least a third and add a more interesting and dynamic final battle. Sailors on the Starless Sea is a great example of this - a relatively short, but very interesting "dungeon" with a fantastic set piece at the end. And Doom of the Savage Kings had that excellent roleplay rich tension between the Jarl and the players. There were times in PotP that it felt a little bit too much like a drawn out slugfest.

We finished the night by doing some leveling - I believe Brand, Chez and Ryan are now level 2 - and treasure distribution. The players selected their main characters and set aside a few secondaries. We concluded with a short scene a few weeks later in the village when the Sonorous Fermentators of Milk and Barely, a mostly halfling trader caravan, arrived in Lustates.

I have many oddities to sell.
My hat is not one of them.
While looking to spend some of their loot, Brand happened to encounter an strange fellow by the name of Zerx who sold oddities. He had two items that he felt that Brand ought to buy. The first was a crude
map of some secret way in the temple district of the great city of Parusaw to the south. It had two names on it. One was "Karmus" the other was "Carnifax". Zerx was sure "Karmus" was a great treasure seeker and was unsure of the other. The other item was a pale gold coin, with some indecipherable markingings on one side and the image of a beautiful woman's face on the other. The strange thing about the the woman's is that it bore a remarkable familial similarity to Brand. Brand, always the one to try and gain treasure was equally eager to spend it and bought these two items with pretty much every coin he had. The map he tucked away, the coin though seemed to call to him. And he felt a cold wind blow through the door...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Death, Death, and More Death in the Pit

It came down to a nameless, recently rescued peasant trading blows with an equally nameless grey cloaked worm cultist. Everyone else lay in bloody heaps on the cavern floor. What little chance our heroes had of surviving hung in the balance.

Unfortunately the cultist won.

Technically it's not a TPK since three party members are still alive. Striped to their skivvies, weaponless, bound and gagged, hovering at 1hp, stuffed in a low stone room with a dozen other captives with a terrifying wailing chant coming from outside. The outlook isn't great.

It's been a couple weeks since my last game report so this is two sessions condensed into one. Here's how it went down.

The Company;

  • Brand the dirty sneaky Thief
  • Draug the Warrior
  • 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
When last we left the band they had made their way down the throat of a massive circular pit, fighting some grey robbed cultist's of something called"Palimdybis". But whatever Palimdybis was, it seemed definitely connected to the earth quakes and foul gasses emitted from the The Great Fissure of Gorm just a little way beyond the pit.

The gang had found some interesting rooms and passages on their way down, including one that contained a massive worm like tentacle with a rope ladder on it. They'd also barely survived an encounter with a pair of basilisks and were puzzled by a small cavern with water that dripped up instead of down.

The adventure continued with the band standing on a little ledge hanging out over the deep dark pit. Within was a dank narrow rough hewn corridor with bricked up cells emanating a faint moaning sound. Methodically knocking a few bricks out of each cell entrance and poking a torch through to see who or what was within, they managed to stab-to-death/burn-in-oil a grey cloaked cultist, a confused neophyte, a terrible worm mass thing and finally rescue a weathered cleric by the name of Norris from the village
I am an old cleric with great
healing pow... What? Wait here
you say...? I... err... yeah ok then.
of Lusates (fortunately without any stabbing or burning). The cleric had belonged to the local temple but had been roughly snatched one night a few weeks ago. He didn't know much about his captors  other than they commanded the worm tentacles and they seemed to be waking up something very old and evil. The crew also recovered a scroll with a spell on it that allows for the control of worm tentacles using very corruptive magic.

Promising the cleric that they would return for him, they bade him wait on the ledge. A little more exploring also discovered a secret passage to a small red crystal lined cave. Brand, ever on the hunt for valuables, investigated, coming back out cursed by the ghost of the long desiccated skeleton within and a gripping a ruby coloured glass wand. Uncharacteristically, Brand turned the wand over to Grom the Glorious for examination, who promptly refused to give it back. Grom insists that he will return it once he's "finished" with it. This has Brand very worried as he has come to realize that his impending sense of doom will only depart if he buries the wand with the skeleton from the red cavern.

Trundling further down the corridor the gang came to a chasm. On the other side, set into the rocky wall was a drawbridge door with a massive iron ring set into it. Below was a horrific river of massive worm tentacles, writhing and undulating, with eyes and mouths, making nasty wet sounds.

Various complicated ideas to pull the draw bridge down involving an arrow and a rope were tried. Others schemes involving a magically summoned pheasant were also attempted. These were more or less ineffective, and in the case of the pheasant, somewhat gruesome.

Finally, with great dread, the crew started discussing the use of the Worm Control scroll. It was really down to Grom the Glorious and Daniloth the Sagely Elf. Both had very good reasons why the other should attempt to use the scroll, that is until they realized that thieves could also use scrolls. Then they had very good reasons why Brand should use it. Brand, fed up with listening to the back and forth took the scroll and did his best. It worked and he managed to get a massive pillar of rubbery flesh to come oozing out of the chasm (lots of juvenile jokes occurred at this juncture) and tug on the ring, bringing
Aw man...
the great door down to form a bridge. With a superior smirk, Brand handed back the scroll, noticing that his fingers had grown a little longer and more prehensile. It was commented the thief, with his big elephant ears and now rubbery fingers, was exhibiting far more visible effects of chaos corruption than the spell casters of the group.

Onward the gang found itself figuring its way through a magical maze and then down a large corridor with great doors closing ominously behind them. There was a bit of hijinks when Grom attempted to leap back through one of these doors as it closed and got himself nearly crushed. Finally, the gang came to a large room shaped like a bell on its side. At the far end, a great, massive wooden door. Between the party and the door, a great, massive evil frog.

Surprisingly there were a few attempts at communication with the frog demon. The most troubling thing about this was the way it communicated, which was without sound, but by placing the thoughts directly in the heads of the party members. However in the end it all lead inevitably to violence when the frog thing made it clear that it wouldn't let them past. Draug the warrior was nearly swallowed, but the party managed to slay the beast, which bubbled into a greasy black spot on the floor. Carefully avoiding this spot, the gang made its way into the rooms beyond. There they came across a second floor maze, but as they attempted to navigate it, they were forced back by the arrival of crimson robed cultists and a massive half man half wormy earth beast. The image of a Yellow robbed cultist accused them of sacrilege and faded before his minions set upon the party. The crew made surprisingly short work of these cultists and emboldened, navigated the maze and found themselves transported.

Finding themselves in a similar maze room, with small odd wavy corridors leading into the rock, they choose to follow a more conventional passage that lead to a long temple room with a couple of oblivious grey cloaked cultists praying before a great wormy god alter. Brand did a bit of sneaky scouting ahead, and then lead suprise attack, splattering the grey robes before they knew what hit them. Further exploring turned up a high priest's chamber and an alchemical lab with some foul potions and weird powders. Off from this was found a strange corridor, with unnaturally smooth walls, which did not seem to match the style of the rest of the complex. In fact it somehow felt much, much older. After much trepidation Brand once again sallied forth to take a look and found it lead to a oblong chamber containing a pool of muddy, foul water. Reporting back, he was joined by the rest of the band.

The crew tried to come up with all sorts of ingenious ways to cross the water without getting touching it (as they correctly feared the worst). "If only there was some way to float across it's surface..." someone muttered, staring at the big wooden doors leading into this area from the alchemical lab full of large wooden tables. But alas no one could come up with any bright ideas and eventually they all, in reluctant turn, made the plunge and found the "water" to be viscous and and acidic. One the other side they discovered a chamber full of large mechanical looking eggs. Daniloth the sage had the strong impression that these devices predated the rest of the complex.

It was Grom the wizard that experimented with the devices and discovered himself in another room, very similar to the first. In fact he wasn't sure if it was he who had been transported or his companions. Clambering back in he managed to transport himself back to the astonishment of his fellows. "I have discovered that I have a new power!" he declared, "If you seat yourself within these eggs and close the lids I will transpose you all to another place entirely! Please concentrate on moving to another place." Somewhat skeptical, the crew did as they were instructed and Grom "transported" them to the second, similar egg room.

Evil cultist sans yellow robe
Exploring the smooth, twisting tunnels connected to this room, the band discovered four hatchery rooms, each containing a massive leathery egg on a pedestal connected to alter with tubes that were obviously meant to supply the eggs with sacrificial blood. These massive eggs were in various states of gestation and two resulted in quick skirmishes with the slimy tentacled horrors that burst from within. In one hatchery the band rescued a screaming prisoner from a newly hatched horror and an evil yellow robbed cultist. Unfortunately Grom suffered a spectacular catastrophic spell failure during this fight, resulting in a magical explosion that finished of the hatchling beast and yellow cultist, but also blew half the crew
across the room as well. Some quick heals from Ryan took care of the most urgent and grievous of the hurts. The crew untied the captive woman, who told them that the cultists seemed intent on waking something terrible and powerful. She gratefully joined the group.

Quite battered the band slowly made their way back towards the egg room to return, when they heard the clatter of feet and the slamming of one of the egg lids. They found one of the eggs closed and recently used. Understanding that a cultist had probably escaped to alert the rest of his brethren and that they were in no condition to fight, the band quickly (and smartly) opened all the egg lids reasoning that no one could transport into them if they weren't closed. They then set up camp and gained a solid rest. 

With great trepidation they then all got in the transport eggs and were whisked (Grom made sure they understood that it was his mightly magic accomplishing this) back to the original egg chamber. Expecting to have to leap out fighting the crew was disconcerted to find the chamber empty. Making their way back through the smooth tunnels, acidic water room and into the alchemy lab, the band continued their exploration discovering a room with drying ovens containing bits of dried giant tentacle, a storage room with cultist robes (which they took), a mess hall and some bunk rooms. All suspiciously empty. All the while the sound of grating machinery was echoing from a particular rough hewn corridor. 

Finally deciding to investigate this noise and ready for a trap at any moment, the band found the source of the grating sound - a large cavern with a massive grinding stone pulverizing dried tentacle parts operated by four captive villagers. At first the crew attempted to deceive the captives into thinking they were cultists, but the fearful captives only acted confused and shushed them - indicating that there was a large company of cultists in the next cavern apparently waiting for them. The other element to this
cavern was a massive worm tentacle, again with a rope ladder attached, listlessly protruding from a pit at the far end. 

Brand slunk forward and scouted the next cavern, which was joined by a short narrow corridor. He spied another large cavern with the cultists preparing for battle behind a large improvised barracade. 

Ahhh... We've been expecting you!
The crew devised a plan. They would attempt to draw the cultists into the grinding cavern and attack them as they passed through the entrance. They would have the captive villagers toss buckets filled with worm dust into the crowd to blind and disorient them before letting loose. Very creative, but unfortunately did not account for the great tentacle behind them, which, like all tentacles, would be under the control of the cultists. 

Once they were ready, the captives were released and took their positions, ceasing the grinding wheel (and it's accompanying noise). Brand again slunk forward, this time in a cultist robe and attempted to call the cultists over before retreating. Hasty, whispered orders were heard and two grey robes cautiously crept down the tunnel. They were ambushed and dealt with quickly. So far so good. But the rest did not follow. Slightly frustrated Brand, Chez and Druag crept forward and saw the cultists ready and waiting. A yellow robed cultist, obviously the leader, started chanting and the great tentacle behind the crew started moving with an aggressive, menacing purpose. Suddenly realizing their predicament, the crew rushed the barricade.

It was a bloody, desperate fight. The giant tentacle snatched up villagers, spells were flung, there was leaping and stabbing and yelling. At first the overwhelming onslaught of the band seemed to be working, but cultist reinforcements arrived and things got very thick and chaotic. Any semblance of a strategy quickly evaporated as the battle became individual melees against superior numbers. When Ryan, who was feverishly healing as fast as he could (and building great amounts of disfavour in the process) was struck down, a feeling of eminent doom suddenly descended. One by one, the adventurers were hacked down. Brand, then Grom, Chaz and Draug. Daniloth held up suprisingly well and almost to the end, with a couple of surviving villagers, but alas could not sustain his luck. All that was left was one wounded grey robed cultist, and one half dead villager. It was a quick trade of blows. The villager missed, the cultist did not.

I believe the word "fuck" was uttered at this point.
Ow Ow Ow...

I have a house rule in my game. The "recover the body" action can be taken by anyone, not just comrades. This, of course, includes enemies. Ryan, Brand and Chez awoke, captive in the aforementioned stone room, barely alive and securely tied, awaiting some horrible fate. 

Thorkell the Warrior, Bezal the halfling, Chester the thief and Jensen the Warrior now stand at the top of the pit with a small group of pitchfork and touch wielding locals. They have been joined by Alistair the Cautious, a wizard who had come to investigate the pit. This is when Norris the Cleric, recently rescued by the doomed first crew, came stumbling up from below. 

"Come quickly - something terrible has happened!"

We pick up from there on Sunday!