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! 

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