Session 17: The Child Who Wasn’t a Child

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(This session was run in October of 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this session took place the next day after the kobold ambush in Session 16: On the Road to Valerius.  A description of the campaign world, and a list of the player characters can be found at The World Map).

Having survived a rather harrowing ambush from kobolds and with knowledge that some fell wizard had initiated the attack, the wedding caravan spent a restless night on edge.  Fortunately, their rest was undisturbed.  As the caravan started rolling on towards Valerius the next day, the party members kept a careful eye on their surroundings.

Late in the morning as the caravan passed isolated farmsteads, the adventurers spotted something amiss in the field off to their left.  Scorch marks in a circular pattern seemed to suggest something sinister had transpired here relatively recently.  In fact, the air held the taint of sulfur.  And it looked like something was chained to the middle of the circle.  The caravan was halted.  Tanin and Velnius dismounted from their horses and moved closer to investigate.

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As the party moved closer to investigate, they could now make out a charred skeleton chained in the center of the burned circle in the field.  The trees and land of the isolated farmstead appeared to be dead, with little growth on either side of the road.  A lonely looking barn and farm house to the south showed no signs of life.

Belladore moved beyond the rock wall separating the road from the field, getting close enough to the skeleton to cast mage hand.  She lifted part of the skeleton until the slack of the chains was pulled tight and the spectral, magical hand dropped the skeleton back to the burned earth.  Immediately, nearly a dozen animated skeletons bubbled from the ground.  The mismatched human and animal bones that made up their construction and the green aura emanating from their eyes signified their corruption beyond mere necromancy.

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The skeletons lumbered forward, death the certain fate awaiting those who get caught in their clutches.  Kulo, Velnius, and Okkar unleashed bolts from their crossbows at the skeletons, while Tanin engaged the nearest skeleton with his scimitar.  Within a few short moments of melee, Tanin discovered the skeletons exhibited an additional sign of corruption.  On destroying the animacy that held the bones of the skeleton together, the skeleton would explode in a burst of green miasma that spread necrosis to nearby living flesh.  The party tried to keep their distance, but Tanin maintained his direct engagement as a buffer for the rest of the party.  Xerbo, Velnius’s mastiff, also held off the skeletons from the rest of the caravan.

Kulo noticed a figure peering at the caravan from a copse of dead trees to the northeast.  But before he could react, the fight grew more intense as a dead tree right next to the wagon came to life, attacking Pabelle.  Several scarecrows from the blighted farm to the south also attacked the caravan as the party’s attention was focused on the skeletons.

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The party had no choice but to fight along two fronts to protect the wagon and the Makriyannis family.  Kulo and Pabelle fought the tree blight and scarecrows to the south, while Tanin, Velnius, and Xerbo fought the skeletons to the north.  Belladore maintained her distance between both sets of enemies, casting Faerie Fire to help aid in the skeletons destruction.  Okkar continued to unleash crossbow bolts into the nearest enemies to the wagon to keep the Makriyannis family safe.  Xrax stayed next to the wagon with his maul ready to defend the wedding party against any attackers.

The fight against the skeletons turned into a tough slog as Tanin and Velnius’s edged weapons cut flesh better than bones.  Xerbo’s bite proved to be the better weapon against the skeletons.  Kulo and Pabelle, with the aid of Okkar’s crossbow, quickly took down the blight that had come close to attacking the horses pulling the wagon.  The horses had reared and snorted at the corrupt vegetation but Leandros kept the them under control.  Kulo and Pabelle moved up to engage the animated scarecrows before they too could attack the wedding wagon.  To aid their defense, Belladore threw a dagger at the nearest scarecrow with deadly aim.

The battle shifted once the skeletons were destroyed.  The exploding necrosis spreading death as the skeletons fell took its toll on Velnius, Xerbo, and Tanin.  But the tide had turned.  The scarecrows would fall shortly as the party was able to focus their attacks on them.

With the battle won, Kulo investigated the copse of dead trees where he saw the figure peering at the party.  Kulo did not find anyone but noticed a set of tracks that led further to the northeast.  He relayed this to the party as they planned their next moves.

The party decided to investigate the farmhouse to the south first before exploring the trail leading from the field.  The farmhouse appeared to be abandoned–there was no sign of life, not even farm animals.  The adventurers decided on a plan.  The wedding party would wait in the farmhouse with Okkar and Xrax as guards, while the rest of the party examined the trail leading from the field.  Master Makriyannis agreed to the plan as his wife and daughters could use some rest after having witnessed such horrors on the road.

Kulo, Pabelle, Velnius with Xerbo, Tanin, and Belladore made their way cautiously along the footpath leading from the field.  The path snaked for a few miles before opening up to the overgrown ruins of a village.

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The adventurers examined the remains of a church or temple to their immediate left from the footpath.  Other than an unsettled feeling at examining the decaying ruins of a people long forgotten, the building held nothing of interest.

Moving along to the next building, as Tanin crossed what remained of the threshold of the ruin he seemed to pass through a magical barrier as a flash of light pulsed as he crossed the threshold.  Immediately, Tanin heard a roar that ended in a blood-curdling hoot as an emaciated owlbear charged from the back of the ruined building.

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The owlbear looked as if it had been trapped in this ruin for some time.  It attacked with a ferociousness driven by its hunger.  Tanin defended himself and the party came to his aid, but all were reluctant to fell the beast.  Nonetheless, even with blood running from numerous wounds, the owlbear was crazed to attack.  The adventurers were forced to put the owlbear down.

The adventurers continued to inspect the ruins systematically moving on to the next building which was empty save a tree growing in the center of the back room.  Continuing to the next building, a flash of light punctuated the stillness of the afternoon as Kulo crossed the threshold.

This time a gaunt Ettin stood up to confront the adventurers, his countenances flat of emotion like a prisoner who has had to endure the torment of a long, solitary confinement that even a second head could not assuage.  He picked up a large stone from the ruins ready to smash bones, an end in violence all he could hope for.

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Again, the party reluctantly attacked the trapped creature despite, in this case, its chaotic nature, the long torment of its isolation, punishment enough for its certain lifetime of cruelty.  As with the owlbear, the party inflicted numerous wounds, the advantage of many against one-ish.  The ettin fought to the grisly end.  Death its final respite.

The building immediately behind the trapped ettin contained nothing but the ghosts of past memories from a people long forgotten.  While examining this building, movement at the last, unexplored building caught the attention of Belladore.

While the rest of the party was kicking over rocks and wondering about the people who had once inhabited the space between these walls, Belladore crossed the expanse to investigate.  Belladore spied a child, a young girl, skipping among the fallen stones clutching two toys, a stuffed bear and a doll.  She sang a haunting song:

One, two, he’s coming for you.

Three, four, better lock the door.

Five, Six, grab your . . . (mumbled).

Seven, Eight, await your fate.

Nine, Ten, never . . . (mumbled) . . . again.

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Belladore asked the girl who she was and why she was here.  The girl responded with her name, Emma.  She then said, cryptically, “the well” and motioned to the overgrown well near the building she was playing in.

Emma continued to skip and play among the ruins.  Belladore watched as Emma played with her toys on the crumbled stones of a wall.  Emma motioned with the doll to the bear, “you better be good!  Daddy’s gonna be mad!”  Belladore took note that the toy doll had two heads.  By this point Kulo and Pabelle noticed that Belladore had wandered off and checked to see what she found.  But by the time they reached the ruined building where Belladore discovered Emma, the girl had disappeared.  Belladore told the rest of the party what she had seen and learned from Emma.

The adventurers examined the well, peering down into the murky depths.  A shallow pool of water was visible immediately below the well, the light of the afternoon sun shining on the surface of the water.

Belladore volunteered to be lowered into the well.  A rope was tied around her waist and she was given a torch to light her way.  The adventurers lowered her down slowly.  When she cleared the walls of the well, the space opened up to small chamber, with water immediately below the well and the rest of the cavern a sort of ghastly altar.  Several burning candles flickered light from the top of the altar, illuminating the empty sockets of a number of skulls resting besides them.  Other bones, clearly of human origin, littered the table. Next to the altar, eyes penetrating the gloom, stood a shriveled husk of a woman.

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The old woman spoke, “I see you’ve bested my pets.  You are strong enough . . . maybe.  Bring the rest of your group down here and we’ll talk.”

Belladore asked, “What is it you want?”

The old woman replied, “We’ll talk when the rest are down here.”

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Various bones, some human, hung from the belt of the old woman and she wore a charm of smaller bones around her wrist, but what caught Belladore’s eye was the bone she wore around her neck–a vertebra, similar to the ones found by the adventurers before.  The old woman clutched the vertebra intermittently as she spoke.

Belladore described her interaction with the old woman to the rest of the party.  They decided they would hear her out.  The party climbed down the well to find out what the woman would bargain.

Tanin introduced himself and the rest of the group.  The woman did not reveal her name.  Instead, she explained that she was bound to this place by the evil magic of Lord DeLacrane.  She explained further that this ruined villa was the home of Lord DeLacrane years ago.  She wished for the adventurers to assault his tomb and destroy him.

Tanin asked what the benefit would be for the party.  The old woman revealed that the crypt held a number of magic items, including Lord DeLacrane’s magic sword.  Any plunder the group survives with would be theirs to keep.  Tanin asked where the crypt was located.  The old woman said that she could provide a portal that would transport them to the crypt, the only way the tomb could be accessed.  Belladore interjected, asking the old woman if she knew Emma.  A flash of anger mixed with sadness crossed her face before she merely shook her head, “no.”

Kulo asked the old woman if she could tell them more about Lord DeLacrane.  She said the crypt was likely to hold a number of dangers–undead that would seek to spill their life’s blood.  Lord DeLacrane, too, was an undead knight.

The adventurers huddled discussing their options and their impressions of the old woman.  Tanin had taken note of the vertebra hanging from her neck.  The group decided their was little to lose in destroying Lord DeLacrane–they would obtain magic items, if what the old woman said was correct.  Then, if she intended to double-cross them, which they all suspected, they could destroy her too and take the vertebra.

In agreement, Tanin turned back to the old woman and said the party would seek and destroy Lord DeLacrane . . .


Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com or DMsGuild.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.

Farm Field Map Tiles: Heroic Maps Hecse Fyre Field

Ruined Village Map Tiles: Heroic Maps Nightingdell Village

Wagon: Fat Dragon Games Halfling Dwellings Set

Horses Paper Miniatures: Horses by Xtea

Corrupted Skeleton Paper Miniatures: Distrigillator’s Roads of Apocalypse (4th ed.) – Set 19: Armies of Undead: Carcasses

Scarecrow Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Scarecrows and Jack-O-Lanterns

Tree Blight Paper Miniature: Okumarts Games Darkfast Classic Fantasy Set Nine: Tree Folk

Owlbear Paper Miniature: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Dungeon Monsters

Ettin Paper Miniature: Sanity Studios Giants

Emma Paper Miniature: Dryws Imperfect Children

Witch Paper Miniature: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Witches and Bats

Flying Stand for Belladore: Litko Flying Figure Stands 25mm Round

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Session 16: On the Road to Valerius

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(This session was run in September of 2017.  In terms of campaign time, the start of the adventurers’ trip to Valerius began the day after Session 15: The Necropolis of Cyr.  A description of the campaign world and list of characters can be found at The World Map.)

With Master Makriyannis’s daughter finally getting over her cold feet, Okkar Ironeyes collected the Heroes of Edgewood for the wedding caravan to Valerius.  A little over a month had transpired since the adventurers first came together answering a help wanted sign and clearing out some were-rats in Makriyannis’s cellar in Session 1: Help Wanted.  After that first job, the adventurers agreed to serve as guards for the betrothed, Makriyannis’s daugher, Daphne.

The wedding caravan gathered at Makriyannis’s manor.  Kulo, Belladore, Xrax, Velnius with Xerbo, Pabelle, and Okkar would form the guard.  Besides Master Makriyannis, the wagon also held his daughters, Daphne and Kassandra, his wife, Eudora, and the driver, Leandros.  Lykopsis and Seraph would stay back in Cyr and look after the Golden Tankard.  Bao, in his mysterious monk ways, disappeared the very morning that Okkar came round to collect the group.  The party suspected that Bao might turn up somewhere later in their travels.

The wedding caravan wended its way from the merchant-noble quarter through the central market to the eastern gates of the city.  People thronged the central market and eastern gatehouse.  The summer festival season was in full swing, bringing in merchants and travelers from afar, many coming by boat, some from Valerius and Themis, and the occasional travelers from the various hamlets and homesteads lining the roads east and south.

A desperate beggar tugged at Kulo’s leather cuirass, hand outstretched for alms.  Kulo gave the disheveled man a couple of silver pieces.  The man held onto Kulo briefly as he appeared to go into a trance.  He intoned a prophecy: “Danger awaits you outside the gates of Cyr.”  Kulo brushed off the man’s dirty hand from his side and rolled his eyes at the pronouncement.

As the caravan continued to make its way to the city gate, they were forced to move aside as a contingent of guards escorted an orc in chains towards the prison of Cyr.  People from all sides cursed the orc–some going so far as to spit on him or throw rotten vegetables at him.  Tanin asked one of the guards what the orc had done.  The guard barked back at him, “Out of the way!”

Tanin turned his attention to the orc and asked him what he’d done.  The orc said he was an outcast from his tribe.  He was starving so he took food from one of the surrounding farms outside Cyr’s walls.  He didn’t hurt anyone.  There was a brief discussion among the heroes of whether to do anything about the orc being led away.  But Master Makriyannis poked his head out the wagon and asked what was holding up the caravan.  The party members shrugged and carried on towards the gate.

Just before the caravan reached the city gate, a small group of people congregated around an old man with a long beard dressed in ragged clothes.  A red cloak torn to shreds hung around his neck.  He held a banner, fraying at the end, but still readable: Our Sins Have Doomed Us.  His voice carried to the wedding caravan, “. . . and the sky will turn as black as tar, and blood shall rain from the stars above!  The dead shall rise and the demons shall enter this world!”

Tanin and the rest of the adventurers seemed unimpressed by the zealot of doom.  The wedding caravan continued on, passing through the city gate on the road to Valerius.

The first half of the day’s journey was tranquil, passing farmsteads along the outskirts of Cyr.  The heroes settled in to a relaxing trip through the countryside.  They found it a good change of pace from the bustle of the city, which had filled their days of late.

Near mid-day, the tranquility of the uninhabited landscape was pierced by the sounds of battle nearby.  A low hillock blocked their view, but clearly someone or something engaged in battle.  The caravan halted and the heroes advanced upon the hill to see what transpired.  Roughly 100 feet away a small figure fought bravely against a creature at least three times its size.  Emerging from the ground with a deadly pounce, what looked to be a land shark had the advantage on the single halfling warrior defending himself.

Seeing the scene before her, Belladore, with her knowledge of these creature’s taste for halfling flesh, exclaimed, “bulette!”

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The bulette leaped on to the gallant halfling knight smashing him into the ground and knocking him prone.  Xrax charged forward to take the attention away from the halfling.  But before he could get there, the halfling scrambled to his feet and attempted to pierce through the tough natural armor of the bulette’s hide with his short sword.  The attack was in vain.  Thankfully for the halfling, so was the bulette’s attempt to bite the halfling in twain.

Velnius and Kulo hit the bulette with ranged attacks.  Tanin moved forward and spoke a healing word for the halfling.  As the heroes continued to inflict more wounds on the bulette, Belladore noticed what looked like a fin emerge from the earth and travel in their direction!  Within a brief few moments, the earth erupted with a second bulette entering the fray!

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The battle between the heroes and the bulettes raged fiercely.  Shortly after slaying one of the two that emerged, the battle became more dire again.  Significantly larger and more ferocious than the previous two, an ancient looking bulette, the scales of its hide deeply darkened due to age, erupted from the surface of the ground.

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While the odds seemed to shift away from the adventurers, they redoubled their efforts and due to their resourcefulness slayed the final ancient bulette.  More surprising, the heroes managed to save the halfling warrior.  He was seriously injured, but alive.  Surely he would have perished had not the heroes intervened.

Belladore, always curious about her fellow halfings, inquired about the warrior’s audacious, if not absurd quest.  He introduced himself as Sir Roscoe.  He explained that these bulettes regularly hunted members of his village to the east of here.  He tried to muster a hunting party to rouse the bulettes, but they all believed he was daft in suggesting such a plan.  So, fed up with his fellow villagers lack of courage, he took to flushing out the bulettes himself.  He knew where there typical hunting grounds were–they never attacked the village directly because it was settled on ancient bedrock too dense for the bulettes to burrow through.  He thanked the adventurers for their help in slaying the beasts, which elicited a chuckle out of more than one of the party members.  He also welcomed them to his village, Nestled Valley, and gave the general directions for how to find it, since it was all but invisible to those who don’t know its location.

The wedding caravan continued on its way to Valerius after the diversion with Sir Roscoe and the marauding bulettes.  In the late afternoon, the wedding caravan came upon a copse of trees next to the road and a stream branching from the Hyperborean River.  Something seemed wrong to Kulo.  He felt like someone or something was watching the group.

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Xrax and Tanin moved forward cautiously, the hairs on the backs of their necks standing up as they suspected an ambush was about to occur.  Kulo noticed movement in the large tree to their right and unleashed an arrow right where the branches stirred slightly.  The “thwap” of the arrow as it hit the leaves of the tree suggested the shot hit home.  Just moments later, a dead kobold fell to the ground.  Materializing from the trees and bushes to their right a swarm of kobolds joined the fray!

Xrax and Tanin immediately engaged the kobolds in melee, while Kulo and Velnius provided support with ranged missile weapons.  Pabelle and Belladore stayed with Okkar near the wagon to keep the wedding caravan safe as well as ready spells to assist in the battle.

Xrax and Tanin soon realized that these kobolds seemed a lot tougher than lore led them to believe.  Five surrounded Tanin while Xrax held off three more.  Additional missile fire rained down from the tree that had held the kobold killed at the outset by Kulo.  Velnius and Kulo focused their efforts on taking out the snipers in the tree.

But the battle soon became more intense.  Behind a boulder to their left, across from the tributary of the Hyperborean River, eight winged kobolds took flight and joined the combat.  They appeared to be targeting Tanin, dropping rocks on him before descending and surrounding him.  Likewise, the snipers in the tree appeared to be focusing their shots on Tanin.

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As the battle raged and several kobolds had been slain, a new menace appeared on the party’s right.  From a slight hill, four new kobolds emerged.  Given the robes and quarterstaff held by one, the party surmised this kobold had magic-casting abilities.  The other three kobolds that appeared with him also looked different.  They wore harnesses around their waists that connected over their shoulders and held a number of small clay pots, the perfect size for a kobold to hurl at an enemy.  But if that wasn’t enough, a giant red serpent appeared around some brush and engaged Xrax.

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The fight intensified.  Xrax seemed to have no difficulty handling the kobolds he was engaged with, but Tanin being completely surrounded and continuing to take missile fire was suffering.  The kobold sorcerer appeared around some brush and targeted Xrax with Magic Missile.  One of the kobolds bearing the small clay pots along a bandolier, chucked one at Xrax.  The pot burst on his chest plate.  Xrax felt the burning sensation of acid dripping onto his skin through the chinks in his armor.  Worse, some of the acid got in his eyes and he found himself temporarily blinded as his eyes teared up trying to flush the acid.  The large serpent bit at Xrax, but his plate mail held off the giant snake for now.

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Kulo and Velnius ended the sniper fire from the trees, watching two kobolds fall to their death after their crossbow bolts found their mark.  Okkar, his defense of the wagon unwavering, targeted one of the winged kobolds with his crossbow.  The bolt hit the flying kobold in the neck, dropping it into the river to be swept downstream.  Belladore muttered some incantations, gesturing to the kobolds with the clay pots held on bandoliers across their chests, rose petals dropping from her hand as she spoke the spell.  The rose petals disappeared as the weave of magic coursed across the brush.  All three of the kobolds fell soundly asleep.  Meanwhile, Tanin slayed a kobold surrounding him as did Xrax, blinking the final remnants of the acid from his eyes.

More of the winged kobolds dropped rocks on Tanin.  And two of the kobolds that surrounded him added to his wounds with dagger strikes.  Xrax’s plate mail held of the kobolds that surrounded him, but three more magic missiles erupted from the kobold sorcerer’s hand to embed in Xrax’s chest!  The giant serpent struck also, this time tearing a rent into Xrax’s rerebrace and couter, the large teeth gouging along Xrax’s upper arm, elbow, and forearm.

Kulo launched a missile at the sorcerer, his bolt hitting the kobold square in the chest.  Velnius took down one of the winged kobolds with his crossbow.  Belladore cast faerie fire on the sorcerer, the serpent, and one of the kobold’s fighting Xrax.  Pabelle moved up and threw an axe at the giant serpent, the axeblade lodging firmly in the neck of the beast.  Okkar, again took out one of the winged kobolds getting dangerously close to the wagon.

The sorcerer launched magic missile once more into Xrax, who otherwise was well defended against the kobolds, their weak attacks glancing off his plate mail armor.  Tanin felt the bite of a couple of blades and the bruise of another rock dropping on his shoulder, forcing him to forgo attacking in favor of healing himself to stay in the fight.  Kulo’s crossbow bolt ended the threat of the sorcerer–a significant turning point in the battle.  Velnius sunk a bolt into the eye of the giant serpent, its body spasming into death throes.  Xrax’s maul bashed in the heads of two of the kobolds who were engaged in melee combat with him.  Okkar and Pabelle killed two more winged kobolds who were moving closer to the wagon.

The tide had turned.  In just a matter of moments the rest of the kobolds were slayed, including the remaining winged kobolds who tried to escape back across the river, crossbow bolts bringing them crashing to the ground.  One kobold was left alive for questioning.

Tanin, in particular, was interested in the interrogation since the kobolds seemed to be targeting him.  Speaking in Themish, Tanin asked why they attacked the caravan.  The kobold told him that his master sent them on this mission.  They were to target Tanin because he possessed an artifact his master wanted.  Tanin expressed alarm at someone seemingly knowing that he held the magical vertebrae.  Tanin asked the kobold who his master was.  The kobold simply called him the master.  But he did reveal that the master was some type of spell-caster.  Tanin pressed the kobold for information about where his master was located.  The kobold, intimidated by Tanin’s anger, described the general direction of the master’s stronghold–underneath ruins in the King’s Wood near the Great Wyrm Mountains.  Tanin thanked the kobold for his compliance and then cut off his head with his scimitar, The Blade of Dark Deeds!


Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com or DMsGuild.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.

City Encounters (beggar, orc in chains, and prophet of doom): Random Urban Encounters by Assassin Games

Add greater challenge to your kobold encounters with Ten Clever Kobolds by Jeff Ibach.

Forest Battle Mat: Paizo’s Pathfinder Basic Terrain Multi-Pack Flip-Mat

Wagon: Fat Dragon Games Halfling Dwellings Set

Donkey Cart: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Grave Robbers

Large Tree and Bushes: Fat Dragon Games Woodland Adventures Set

Boulders: Fat Dragon Games Highland Adventures Set

River Tiles: Fat Dragon Games E-Z Tiles: Rivers & Streams

Road Tiles: Dave Graffam Medieval Ground Tiles

Horses Paper Miniatures: Horses by Xtea

Bulettes Paper Miniatures: Printable Heroes

Sir Roscoe the Halfling Paper Miniature by Jeff George: 2nd Place Single Figure Designer Category for 2017 Papercuts

Dark Red Kobold Paper Miniatures: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Kobold Warband

Kobold Spearmen and Winged Kobold Miniatures: Paper Forge Paper Miniatures

Giant Serpent (Dragon Snake) Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Dungeon Monsters

Session 15: The Necropolis of Cyr

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(This adventure was run in August of 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place the same night immediately after Session 14: The Vault of Pallon the Pirate.  A list of characters and a description of the campaign setting can be found at The World Map).

After returning from the Vault of Pallon the Pirate, the adventurers found themselves celebrating at The Golden Tankard.  Already, the establishment had improved in quality, selling higher quality ale and food.  Repairs had begun on the leaky roof.  The common room was cleaner too.  Martyn’s dour expression remained, but he could only scowl for so long–the establishment attracted a larger clientele now, so Martyn was busy pouring jacks and keeping tabs on the kitchen.  The adventurers felt like they were home, being co-owners of the Tankard.  They drank in merriment at the success of their most recent exploits in the cove along Blue Crab Bay, although their wounds, those not fully healed through magic, still stung.  But good food and drink and the company of friends proved to be an elixir all its own.  A wandering minstrel sang a song above the din of the tavern.

As the night wore on, some of the adventurers departed on a slightly tipsy navigation through the streets of Cyr back to their rooms at the Weary Traveler–the rooms in the Golden Tankard, other than those of the tavern help, were still uninhabitable due to the leaky roof.  Kulo, Belladore, and Bao stayed for more revelry.  As the night wore on, a finely dressed fellow approached the table of the adventurers and introduced himself.

Ethan Dorados took a seat at the table and relayed that he knew of their reputation as adventurers, offering to hire them for a mission.  He explained he represented a wealthy patron from Themis who was visiting Cyr.  Recently, a family heirloom, a necklace, had been stolen from the patron by a thief.  The thief, an old man who regularly disguised himself as a beggar, died of natural causes before he could be located.  With no family to claim him, the city interred him in the Road’s End Tomb for paupers in the Necropolis of Cyr.  Ethan and his patron believed the old man was buried with the heirloom.  Ethan desired to hire the adventurers for assistance in retrieving the necklace from the tomb.

Belladore asked Ethan that if he knows where the crypt is why doesn’t he just retrieve it himself.  Ethan revealed that the Necropolis of Cyr is plagued with undead at night.  The city watch locks up the Necropolis at night to prevent the undead from walking the streets of the city.  A group, especially one with as much renown as the Heroes of Edgewood, is more likely to be successful than him alone.  Belladore asked why not just make the case to the city watch that the necklace was stolen property and have them retrieve it from the tomb.  Ethan said his patron does not want to attract attention to himself in the city.

Kulo, Bao, and Belladore agreed to the mission, accompanying Ethan to the Tomb to retrieve the necklace.  Ethan described the necklace as an onyx stone bound in a silver setting and hung from a silver chain.  Ethan said the amount his patron was willing to pay to hire the party did not reflect the value of the necklace–other than sentimental value the necklace was a cheap piece of jewelry.  Kulo and Belladore gave each other a look suggesting they didn’t believe that information, but didn’t press Ethan on the matter.

Ethan produced a map that he had obtained from an acolyte of Kleo, who helps maintain the Road’s End Tomb, showing the probable crypt of the elderly thief.  He also revealed a map of the Necropolis of Cyr giving the general layout of the cemetery, the location of the Road’s End Tomb, and the guard towers they would need to avoid.

Cyr Cemetary 2

City of Dead Map2

The adventurers made their way to the walls of the Necropolis under cover of darkness.  They decided to scale the wall near a warehouse district so there would be little likelihood of street traffic.  This location also put them close to the Road’s End Tomb so they would not have to travel much through the cemetery and could avoid wandering undead.  This part of the wall was about as far from a guard tower as was possible, reducing the chance they would have to explain themselves to the watch.

With adept skill, Kulo tossed a grappling hook over the 15-foot stone wall, pulling it tight against some unseen protrusion.  Kulo scaled the wall first, pausing at the top for his companions to make their way up.  The top of the wall was wide enough that the party could crouch before making their descent.  Kulo pointed out to Bao the luck that the grappling hook caught on a slight imperfection in the wall where a piece of stone stuck out.  Kulo reversed the grappling hook bracing it against the opposite side of the wall and let out the rope to the inside of the cemetery.  The party members dropped to the ground, quiet as panthers.

The adventurers made their way to the Road’s End Tomb, moving stealthily past gravestones, cenotaphs, and mausoleums.  Within 40 feet of the tomb, they noticed light from an obvious lantern as well gruff voices near the tomb’s entrance.  Moving closer, the adventurers noticed three men at the entrance to the tomb.  One sat atop a donkey cart.  He appeared to be the leader, barking orders at the other two to hurry up with the body they were carrying.

Belladore motioned for the other party members to hold back as they began to ready their weapons.  She had a better idea.  With a quick motion, some rose petals pulled from her components pouch, and a whispered incantation, Belladore cast the Sleep spell on the grave robbers.  All three slumped over instantly.

Necropolis of CyrEntranceFIN

The adventurers quickly searched the body in the cart.  The corpse was an old man, but there was no sign of the necklace.  Ethan confirmed this appeared to be the elderly thief who absconded with the heirloom.  A search of the grave robbers also turned up empty. Ethan admitted that they would have to investigate the tomb.

The party tied up the three grave robbers, before waking the apparent leader.  He awoke with a start, clearly surprised to see himself in bonds and being interrogated by the adventurers.  He readily admitted that they were grave robbers.  They had been hired to steal new burials on a fairly regular basis by a contact who they met at a run-down tavern.  When asked about this man, the leader said he did not know much about him–he’d tell them when he wanted bodies and the leader and his crew would then steal recently buried bodies from the cemetery.  When asked how he was able to get in with his cart, the leader replied that the guards could be bribed to look the other way.  He knew nothing about any jewelry on the body of the elderly thief or in the sarcophagus.

The adventurers carried the bodies of the two sleeping grave robbers down into the crypt and escorted the leader down as well.  Entering the tomb, bluish flame illuminated the room from the outstretched hands of two statues in the far corners of the room–hooded figures representing the disciples of Kleo, who maintained this tomb for the indigent.

Kulo secured the leader’s bonds and placed a gag in his mouth.  The light from the statues revealed two passages to either side of the room.  According to the map, the sarcophagus of the elderly man would be found down the passage on the left.  Before heading that direction, Belladore crept silently down the passage on the right for about as far as she could see.  All she could tell was that the corridor continued for some length before disappearing in the darkness.  But what she heard sent chills down her spine–the sounds of a woman sobbing in the distance.  The party decided to avoid that part of the crypt for now.

The adventurers followed the map provided by Ethan and found themselves in front of a sarcophagus, the lid partially ajar.  Moving it further aside, Kulo revealed an empty, stone coffin.  Kulo searched for any mechanism that might reveal a hidden compartment but found none.  Examining the outside of the sarcophagus, it was apparent that the coffin had been slid away from the wall.  A groove in the floor suggested this sarcophagus had been moved back and forth many times.  The coffin moved rather easily when pushed–Kulo discovered it was set on stone wheels, allowing it to move back and forth with little effort.  Kulo turned his attention to the wall, examining it for a secret passageway.  He noticed one stone that protruded slightly from the others.  On depressing this stone, the wall slid away to reveal a hidden staircase leading down.

Necropolis of Cyr SDoor1FIN

Peaking around the corner, Belladore saw, with the aid of her torch, the stairs leading to a dirt floor landing.

Necropolis of Cyr SDoor2FIN

The party descended the steps into what appeared to be an ossuary.  A long hallway branched from the room they entered from the stairs.

Necropolis of Cyr3FIN

The adventurers crept quietly down the hallway.  Before reaching a crossing corridor, they heard voices coming from behind a wall of bones at the end of the corridor in front of them.  As they paused to listen, the voices began to sing a most diabolical chant of vile origin.  They moved slowly to the wall of bones trying to peer between bones to the room beyond, but the bones were so tightly packed that they could not see within.  Kulo inspected the wall more closely and realized that it was in fact a door.  He signaled for the rest of the group to be ready.  As the voices beyond reached a crescendo, Kulo opened the door slightly to get a sense of what they faced, but he had to open the door considerably since it opened towards him.

The room was filled with about a half-dozen men dressed in black robes.  Two braziers illuminated the room from the far corners.  Another man was tied to an altar at the far end of the chamber.  He was naked except for a loincloth.  The man on the altar fought his bonds to no effect.  In front of the altar stood a malevolent priest who held a grimoire in one hand and a jar in his other hand.  As the chant reached its end, he handed the book to one of his subordinates, opened the jar, and with tongs he procured from within his robes, pulled forth from slimy green liquid, a writhing green worm.  The man on the altar screamed at the sight.  His screams magnified when the priest placed the worm on his chest and it began to burrow under his skin.

The macabre sight transfixed the heroes, and one of the cult members noticed the bone door ajar.  The cultist motioned to his brethren, and in a blur of motion, daggers filled the hands of the black robed men.  The leader sensing the danger, moved to the altar.

The heroes rushed to melee.  The cultists, while ferocious in their assault, wore no armor and were lightly armed.  The adventurers inflicted wound after wound in what appeared to be a lopsided battle.  But as their scimitars and rapiers rent through black robes, a transformation had occurred.  On the altar, the body of the man whose screams had filled the chamber just moments before, twitched, spasmed, and then lurched to his feet.  The diabolical leader had released his bonds!  He now trudged towards the heroes in a corrupted approximation of a normal, human gait.

Necropolis of Cyr Cult1FIN

Belladore uttered an incantation and cast Faerie Fire on the the cultists.  Three of them now glowed with dim magical light, making attacks against them easier in the otherwise flickering light of the room.  One, then two cultists fell to the onslaught of blows.  Kulo moved up to engage the shambling form of the man from the altar.  On closer view, Kulo noticed writhing worms dangling from gaping wounds in the man’s body.  As Kulo stabbed with his rapier into the undead form of the man, one of the worms launched through the air at him!  Kulo deftly avoided the worm and took note of its writhing form on the floor.  Another cultist fell to his wounds and the battle was edging more in the favor of the heroes.

Belladore noticed how the worm from the lurching zombie had attempted to embed in Kulo’s body.  She quickly recalled stories learned from her bardic past of Kyuss and his spawn.  She moved away from the zombie to the corner to avoid the burrowing worms.  Belladore’s throwing arm flashed like lighting, the dagger from her hand now buried squarely in the chest of the Spawn of Kyuss.

Kulo squashed the worm on the floor with his boot.  Kulo once again stabbed with his rapier.  And again, another worm launched from the Spawn of Kyuss trying to embed into Kulo’s skin!  The worm bounced harmlessly off Kulo’s studded leather armor, landing on the floor and writhing towards Kulo’s feet.

Bao’s quarterstaff cracked against the skull of the cult leader’s head with a loud thwack!  The leader crumpled to the ground.  Ethan skewered the remaining cultist.  Now, all the heroes could focus their attention on the Spawn of Kyuss.  Kulo moved away from the worm wriggling on the floor, stabbing again at the zombie.  Another worm launched from the spawn, but Kulo avoided its flight again.  Dagger, rapier, and quarterstaff pierced and lashed the spawn till it too fell to the floor unmoving.

Searching the bodies of the cultists revealed a smattering of coins, a couple of lower value gems, a pair of bone dice, and a vial containing oil of slipperiness.

Retracing their steps the heroes returned to the intersection of the corridors and turned down the passage on the right.  The passage continued for 40 feet before turning to a small, round room 20′ × 25′.  Like all the rooms and passageways in this underground ossuary, bones stacked upon bones lined the walls.  Peering into the room, the party of adventurers could see four piles of bones stacked near the center of the room.  On the floor, between the bone piles laid an unadorned horn, the only obvious non-human bone in the underground ossuary.  Belladore cast mage hand and scooped up the horn.  The adventurers left without even entering the room and returned down the corridor.

The heroes examined the final room in the underground ossuary, a small 20′ × 20′ square room, lined with stacks of bones like all the rooms and corridors.  A lone figure huddled in the corner of the room, a halfling man clutching a necklace.  The party quickly determined that he posed no threat.  The heroes coaxed the halfling out of his frightened state and learned that his name was Atticus.  The necklace he held in his hands was just as Ethan described, and Atticus reluctantly gave it up after the party persuaded him that the necklace belonged to Ethan’s patron.

Atticus told his story of how he obtained the necklace.  He recently turned to thievery and knew of the old man who had recently been interred at the Road’s End Tomb.  Atticus heard the old man bragging of a recent score at a tavern the day before he apparently died of natural causes.  So, he pilfered the sarcophagus of the old man, but before leaving, his curiosity got the better of him.  He noticed the secret door that led down to the ossuary.  Unable to ignore this detail, he stole down to the underground crypt.  As he was exploring the corridor he heard voices coming from behind him and saw light near the stairwell.  He retreated down the corridor to the room the party found him in.  He extinguished his lamp and peered around the corner to spy the cultists leading a bound man to the hidden room.  He intended to flee, but the horrendous chanting of the cult sapped his courage and he could do nothing but to cower our of fear until the heroes found him.

The party led Atticus back through the underground ossuary and up through the tomb to the entrance where the grave robbers were bound.  Before releasing the grave robbers, Kulo pulled Atticus to the side and gave him a few gold coins as payment for a mission he had for him.  Kulo wanted Atticus to follow the grave robbers and find out who they were delivering the dead body to.  Kulo suspected they were providing bodies to the chirurgeon, whose letter they obtained off the body of Lord Sketch from Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr.

Before leaving the tomb, the heroes decided to investigate the corridor and room from which they heard sobbing before.  The party of adventurers crept silently down the corridor until it opened onto a 25′ × 45′ room, a temple of sorts.  Bluish light similar to the entrance of the tomb emanated from the room.  In the center of the back wall, a fountain gurgled water.  Opposite the fountain on either side, sat hooded statues to Kleo, the source of the blue light.  A figure of a woman crying to the right of the fountain, her back towards the adventurers, caught the attention of everyone.  As soon as the heroes entered the room, the woman, or more precisely, the apparition of a woman wheeled around towards them.

Necropolis of Cyr GhostFIN

The ghost approached the heroes.  A deep gash covered the distance of her neck, and she appeared as if her head floated slightly above her body.  Belladore asked the apparition why she was crying.  The ghost replied that she had recently been murdered and her body was entombed in this resting place for the indigent.  But she was a noble!  Her murderers deserved to be punished!  She implored the heroes to find her killers and bring them to her here so that she could have her justice.  In life, she was a merchant-noblewoman.  Her name was Mistress Thea Kellergis.

Bao’s eyes grew wide as he heard the name.  He had helped to bring on the demise of the one called “The Raven” in Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat.  Bao started edging towards the entrance way.   The ghost intercepted his exit.  She looked from Bao to the rest of the party.  Will you do my bidding so that I may have my rest?  Tears fell from her eyes and she looked a sight of pure despondency.

The heroes looked from one to another.  Belladore spoke for the group and said that they were sorry, but that they had to leave.  The ghost’s countenance immediately shifted from sadness to malevolent anger and attacked! Her horrific visage gave the adventurers a fright but they steeled their nerves and pressed into the fight.

The ghost of Thea Kellergis took possession of Belladore’s body and then attacked her companions.  Kulo, Bao, and Ethan gritted their teeth as they set to the awful task of attacking Belladore in order to drive the ghost from her body.  They exchanged blows, but with three attacking one, it was only a matter of time before Belladore collapsed from her wounds and the ghost of Thea Kellergis was driven from her body.  Ethan healed Belladore as Kulo and Bao focused their attacks against the ghost.  The fight continued and Belladore and Ethan were able to help, despite most of the adventurers weapons doing less damage than they would for a more corporeal creature.  Eventually one of their weapons removed the last bit of life force from the ghost.  Thea Kellergis’s face returned back to one of abject despair before her spirit dissipated into thin air.  The adventurers breathed a sigh of relief after a long, tough fight.

Belladore advanced to 5th-level.  Bao advanced to 4th-level.

OssuaryFIN2


Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com or DMsGuild.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.

Adventure based on The City of the Dead by Patrick E. Pullen (maps of the cemetery, modified from the original, and Road’s End Tomb used with permission): The City of the Dead is one adventure that is part of The Adventure Collection Set 1.

Patrick E. Pullen is also an accomplished artist.  Check out his Pullen Art Facebook Page.

Terrain/Map Tiles: Square Dungeon TilesForest Cut-Up Sheets, Forest Ambush Encounter, Leafy Dungeon Entrance and Crypts, Tombs, and Catacombs Cut-Up Sheets by Inked Adventures

Grave Robbers Paper Miniatures: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Grave Robbers

Cultists Paper Miniatures: Kev’s Lounge The Brotherhood Paper Miniatures

Spawn of Kyuss (Zombie) Paper Miniature: Brave Adventures Undead Warband

Ghost Paper Miniature: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Ghostly Spirits

Crafted Torch: DM’s Craft

Blood Marker: Litko Game Accessories

Original Art of Skulls/Ossuary: Jody Monochrome

Session 14: The Vault of Pallon the Pirate

Pallons Vault FullFin

(This adventure was run in July 2017.  In terms of campaign time, the adventure took place the day after Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr.  For a map of the campaign world and a list of characters see The World Map).

After Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat, Tanin inquired with the Jackdaws if any of the guild members had interest in the obsidian Orcus statue acquired back when some of the adventurers raided the barrow tomb in Session 4: The Barrow Tomb of the Karpath Brothers.  His inquiries initially fell on deaf ears–none of the members seemed interested in starting a cult of Orcus.  But eventually, the potboy of the Weary Traveler delivered a message to Tanin from a member of the Jackdaws showing some interest in learning more.  The note was signed by a guild member named Korvis.

Korvis sent another note to Tanin after the party returned from their recent excursion in the sewers of the city, asking for him and his companions to meet up at a dockside tavern the next day.  The wedding caravan of Master Makryannis was due to depart that day and the Heroes of Edgewood had already agreed to serve as guards.  Fortunately, Okkar Ironeyes stopped by the Golden Tankard (where the adventurers were staying more often now since they owned a stake in the establishment), relaying news that the wedding caravan was delayed another day since Makryannis’s daughter had gotten cold feet.  Okkar believed that she would be comforted enough to depart on the morrow.  This gave the party a day to pursue any mission the Jackdaws put before them.

Tanin, Kulo, Pabelle, Belladore, and Bao gathered at the dockside tavern as requested.  There, they met an agent of the Jackdaws, an assistant of Korvis, but not Korvis himself.  A man named Merik.  His closely cropped hair and well-maintained beard gave him an almost regal bearing, yet his pronunciation of certain words gave away his likely upbringing in the slums.  It appeared that his affiliation with the Jackdaws increased his station in life.  He told the party the story of Pallon the Pirate, a figure of some ill repute with the merchant vessels that plied the waters of the Endless Sea to bring trade goods to and fro from Cyr.  The story goes that Pallon and his crew discovered a ghost ship floating in the waters of Blue Crab Bay.  Fog had filled the bay, and the ship was not spied until it was right next to Pallon’s cog.  Seeing no crew, Pallon’s men boarded the vessel.  As soon as their feet touched the deck, skeleton warriors seemingly bubbled from the planking.  Pallon’s men soon found themselves overwhelmed.  As soon as they felled one skeleton or knocked one overboard, two new ones materialized before their eyes.  Pallon, himself, seemed enthralled by some strong greed emanating from the vessel.  Despite being outnumbered by the skeleton hoard, Pallon barked orders to his men to fight their way to the ship’s hold.  He seemed to believe some important treasure lie within the ship.

Merik paused and drank from his leathern jack.  He continued with the story of Pallon and the ghost ship.  Pallon and what remained of his crew managed to fight their way to the hold.  There, Pallon discovered some important artifact, almost as if it had called to him to find it.  He and his crew fought their way back off the ghost ship and back to their vessel.  Once they had separated from the ghost ship it quickly disappeared in the fog.  The rest of the lore holds that the artifact drove Pallon mad.  He returned to the vault he had built in a cove in Blue Crab Bay, slaughtered what was left of his men, and was never seen or heard from again.

Merik explained to the adventurers that the Jackdaws knew where the vault was located.  They wanted the adventurers to gain entry to Pallon’s Vault and discover what lie within, to discover the artifact Pallon had found on the ghost ship.

The adventurers found a seaman and crew willing to bring them to Pallon’s Vault.  The lore about Pallon was actually well-known among the sailors of Blue Crab Bay.  The captain of the ship, Ralf, even knew of the cove reported to hold Pallon’s Vault.  But he tried to dissuade the party from undertaking this mission.  He had heard of some foolhardy sailors who tried to break into the vault to steal Pallon’s riches.  Those sailors were never seen again.  Nonetheless, the captain’s reservations were set aside at the sight of gold.  Tanin haggled a little, but the captain’s price was still high and he wanted payment up-front.  He clearly didn’t believe he would be returning with any of adventurers back to Cyr.

They reached the cove by mid-day.  Anchoring away from the rocks of the bay, Ralf told the adventurers he would wait six hours before considering them lost.  Escorting them in a rowboat to the cove, Ralf suggested that should they need him to come sooner, they could light a bonfire to signal the ship.

The cove was an irregularly shaped half-circle about 35′ × 55′.  Near the far wall, sand gave way to stone and a door was set in the wall.  The adventurers searched the cove finding a partially buried and dilapidated rowboat, as well as a chest and crate.  The crate crumbled into splinters as the party attempted to reveal its contents.  Nothing of value was found within–the remains of rotten foodstuffs.  The chest was in better condition but was found to be empty once the rusted locks were forced open.  The barrels on the other side of the cove were likewise in disrepair and where reasonably sound, only seemed to contain foul-smelling water.

As the party approached the door, noticing for the first time something inscribed on its surface, a pile of bones suddenly cohered and rose into the form of three skeleton sailors.  Wielding rusty swords and scimitars, they attacked!  The skeletons were easy enough for the party to handle, but as soon as they returned one to a pile of bones, another two would reform in its place.  The adventurers soon realized that they needed to get through the door–otherwise, the skeletons would continue to materialize.

Pabelle read the inscription on the door: “Give to receive.”  She noticed a metal cup in the center of the door.  Pabelle conveyed what the inscription said to her companions who were busy fighting off the skeletons.  She took her water flask and poured a little water in the cup.  Nothing happened.  She yelled, “I think it needs blood!”

Bao replied as his quarterstaff smashed into the skull of one of the skeletons, “Don’t skimp.  Make it a good cut!”

Pabelle hesitated, but on seeing another skeleton vanquished only to be replaced by three more emerging from the sand, grabbed her dagger and made a deep cut in her hand.  Squeezing the blood into the cup, she heard the grating of stone against stone and the door began to open.  She turned to her companions, hoping they could disengage from their battle to duck into the doorway.  To her relief, the skeleton pirates had crumbled back into piles of bone the moment the door began to open.

Pallon's Vault EntranceFIN

The party entered a long hallway that ran 40′ before opening into a larger chamber.  Kulo lit a torch, noticing a body lying on the ground about 30′ ahead.  The party moved cautiously down the hallway, their senses on edge after battling skeletons that sprang from piles of bones.  They paused at the body–a human who had been dead for some time, his skin desiccated into a leathery shell, his face contorted into a rictus of pain.  Was he an adventurer who tried and failed at securing the treasure said to lie within?  Or was he one of Pallon’s sailors who met his end at the madness Pallon discovered on the ghost ship?  Investigating the body revealed little of worth, but a clue to the labyrinth within was revealed–Kulo’s torch flickered as he stooped to search the body.  A current of air seemed to pass through the wall on the right.  Kulo nodded to the flickering torch, and Belladore replied, “Secret door?”

Just then, seemingly out of nowhere, yet all around them just the same, a wave of terror-filled energy spread throughout the dungeon.  Some of the party members withstood this invisible force with no effect.  Yet others, Belladore and Bao, suddenly felt themselves succumbed to an uncanny level of exhaustion.

Movement in the chamber ahead caught the party members’ attention.  Kulo took a few steps forward and as his torch illuminated the room, he could see the forms of several monstrous rats moving along the walls, sticking to the shadows.  The stink of rot permeated the room, although the labyrinth had a strong musty smell from the moment they entered.  A monstrous rat to Kulo’s left revealed the source of the rot–flesh and fur hung torn from open, festering wounds.  The rat turned its head revealing much of its skull beneath before lunging forward and attacking!

Pallon's Vault Zombie RatsFIN

Kulo had enough time to yell to his companions before unsheathing his rapier.  The party rushed forward to assist.  Three more monstrous zombie rats bared vicious teeth made all the more menacing through gaping holes of necrotic flesh.

Steel met decaying flesh.  Teeth pierced through armor to open bleeding wounds in the heroes’ bodies.  The din of a quick battle filled the small chamber, but soon the adventurers returned the zombie rats to the death from which they rose.  The companions shared a brief smile of relief over their victory, catching their breath in the interlude.  But suddenly, another wave of horrid-energy swept through the dungeon!  Once again, Belladore succumbed to the effect, feeling doubly exhausted as a result.

The adventurers returned to the body in the hall from whence the air current was detected.  Kulo inspected the wall, finding a loose stone.  Pushing the stone inward triggered a mechanism!  The sound of stone grating on stone filled the hallway.  The secret door opened to reveal a long winding hallway that curved to the left before curving back the right.  What lie beyond was not discernible.

The adventurers moved along single-file, following the hallway left and then right where it opened onto a larger chamber with four bodies lying on the floor.  Again, a wave of foul-energy struck the adventurers and yet again, Belladore found herself the victim of a deep energy drain.  Her level of exhaustion now approached alarm and she cried out to her companions that she was going to flee Pallon’s Vault!

But before she could finish uttering her despair, the four bodies on the floor sprung-up in a corrupt mimicry of human movement.  The jerky, spasmodic bodies with arms outstretched and eyes vacant of life shuffled towards the party.  Blades whirred through the air cutting the walking corpses asunder, but not before their skeletal hands had ravaged the living flesh of the companions.

Pallons Vault Feral ZombiesFIN

Wiping their blades clean of the vile ichor of the zombies, the party members searched the room.  An altar and throne filled one niche.  Broken pottery littered the opposite wall, although one jug remained intact.  Tanin searched the altar and throne.  The altar appeared to be solid rock, stained a deep rust color from countless sacrifices.  The throne next to it was no less disturbing, made from the bones of men–a skull capped the back, resting right above where a man would sit.  Tanin inspected the throne carefully, sure that it must have riches hidden within.  Eventually his greedy curiosity was rewarded.  In a compartment under the seat, a small, polished agate was secreted.

Bao and Belladore inspected the intact jug.  It contained a pleasant-smelling liquid, strangely untainted by the ghastly surroundings.  Bao sipped from the jug, finding his energy restored by a small degree.  He drank deeply and found his exhaustion relieved.  He passed the jug over to Belladore who also quaffed deeply.  To her absolute delight, her exhaustion disappeared!  With her vitality restored, she turned to her companions and said, “Let’s go rouse this pirate!”

The party retraced their steps back into the chamber where they had fought the monstrous zombie rats.  A narrow hallway snaked off from a far corner curving to the right before curving back to the left and ending at a doorway.  The stone door with a sculpted skull above the entryway looked much like the one in the cove except there was no metal cup in the door.  Bao tried the door.  With a little pressure, the stone opened inward easily.  Bao agreed to inspect the room before anyone else entered.  Lighting his own torch, he entered the room cautiously.  Unlike the rough-hewn rock of the rest of the labyrinth, this circular room was well-made of polished tiles and stonework.  In the center of the room, as well as all four quadrants, metal levers were affixed.  Bao noticed an identical door like the one he entered directly opposite.  This one did not budge when pressure was applied.

Pallon Bao LeversFIN

Bao relayed back what he had learned to the party members waiting in the hallway.  As they discussed what to do, the wave of terror-energy reverberated through the hallway.  This time the energy washed over them, leaving each and everyone unaffected.  The adventurers concocted a plan to pull all the levers at once since there were five party members and five levers.  They filed into the room, took their positions, looked nervously at each other before implementing their plan, and then on a count of three, pulled all the levers at the same time.

There was a blinding flash!  In the brief moment while the circular room was brightly illuminated by the radiant energy unleashed by the pulling of the levers, the party members saw through squinting eyes, the appearance of shadowy humanoid forms standing next to each of the levers.  The glimpse was fleeting, for as the light subsided, so did the shadowy forms.

The door opposite slid open with the sound of stone passing across stone.  But so did the door they had entered, sliding closed, and locking them into whatever fate had in store for them.  Kulo convinced the party members to wait in the circular room for him to return.  He would stealth ahead to see what they faced.  A hallway branched to the left from the open doorway.  Kulo crept quietly up ahead until he spied a larger chamber.  The light of his torch revealed some alien form in the shadows of an alcove.  Kulo dropped his torch and shot at the shape with his crossbow before turning to return back to the circular stone room.

As Kulo fled, he felt the very essence of death emanating from the creature as he reached the doorway.  His body suffered the effects of this necrosis, but there was a part of his mind that reeled in absolute horror at the alien shape that followed on his heels.  Kulo entered the room.  His companions barely held back their missile fire as he warned them of what approached.  But what he said was incomprehensible.  Yet Kulo’s stammering nonsense told of some eldritch abomination approaching from the hall!

Bao leaped into action, hesitating momentarily near the center lever as if asking do I pull it?  But before he could get confirmation from his companions, he threw the switch, hoping it might close the door on the vile desecration about to enter the room.  A flash of radiant energy filled the room.  Next to each lever stood a shadowy form!

Pallon LeversFIN

The adventurers’ circumstances went from bad to worse in an instant!  The door to the corruption remained open, while the shadows attacked and drained the very strength from the companions.  The party members moved to each of the levers once again.  Holding their actions until all were set, the companions pulled the levers in unison once again.  The radiant burst of energy filled the room like before, and when the adventurers opened their eyes, they saw the shadows no more.

But the door to the horrid thing remained open!  In the blink of an eye, the tainted form of the creature, a bodak, the revered of Orcus, crossed the threshold into the room!

Pallon BodakFIN

As the bodak entered the room, the annihilating aura of necrotic corruption that emanated from its essence struck all of the companions.  Each party member felt as if their body moved a step closer to the grave.  They in turn, hammered and slashed the abomination, the very question of their souls’ eternal damnation at stake.  The necrosis again wreaked havoc on their bodies, but the numbers were on their side, and despite the reduced effect for those without magical weapons, the bodak was ultimately felled before one of the companions succumbed to the necrotic drain of their life-force.  They all sighed a breath of relief after the battle, exclamations of victory seemingly unfit for their current state of near-death.

Searching the final room, Pallon’s Vault, revealed the secret that Pallon discovered on the ghost ship–a chest in an alcove at the back of the room contained a humanoid vertebra like the one discovered in Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III.  Tanin held it up against the vertebra he carried.  Immediately, they locked together in a magical coupling. Tanin soon discovered the magical property of the combined vertebra changed its effect: once per day he could now cast Magic Circle.

The door that had previously locked them in the circular room opened.  The party returned to the cove and started a bonfire to alert Ralf of their return.  The bards of Cyr would soon have a new song to sing of the Heroes of Edgewood!

Kulo advanced to 5th-level.  Pabelle and Bao advanced to 3rd-level.


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Adventure based on The Vault of Pallon the Pious by Jon Sawatsky: Prepared! One Shot Adventures for 5th Edition by Kobold Press

Terrain/Map Tiles: Smuggler’s Cavern, Circular Rooms and Tower Levels, Hinged Dungeon Doors, and Simple Caverns Cut-Up Sheets by Inked Adventures

Row Boat: Smuggler’s Rowboat by Dave Graffam Models

Skeleton Pirates Paper Minis: Kev’s Lounge Skeleton Skallywags

Monstrous Zombie Rats Paper Minis: Printable Heroes

Zombie Paper Minis: Brave Adventures Undead Warband

Shadows Plastic Minis: Custom Order from Litko Game Accessories

Plastic Levers: Litko Game Accessories

Bodak 3-D Paper Mini: Eddnic’s Paper Models

Crafted Torch: DM’s Craft

Session 13: Lord Sketch of the Sewers of Cyr

Sewers of Cyrfin

(This adventure was run in May 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place the next day after Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat and Session 12: What Lurks Beneath the Golden Tankard).

Back when the adventuring party returned from the goblin caves (Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III) in the foothills of the HammerFall Mountains, they had received a somewhat cryptic message from their former boss, Demetrios Kellergis, delivered by a nondescript patron at the Weary Traveler Inn.

Demetrios Note to Heroes of Edgewoodv2

As the last couple of days have transpired in Cyr with the Heroes of Edgewood (and some new friends) involved in a couple of exciting escapades, a rumor was spread throughout the city of a vigilante laying waste to various high-powered criminals, even some guild members, their bodies found with a piece of cloth pinned to their tunics with the image of the same bat crest as Demetrios’s letter was emblazoned.

The city, abuzz with this news, has been on edge.  The guild masters were likely on the hunt for this crime-fighter the common-folk have taken to calling “The Bat.”  Jorg, Captain of the City Watch, has proclaimed that vigilantism will not be tolerated within the city walls and has charged, Yannis, the Head Constable of Cyr, with finding this crusader and bringing him to justice.  Nonetheless, this shadowy figure has become something of a folk-hero to the peasants of the city.

    *     *     *

Kulo and Velnius brought their new companion, Lykopsis, with them to the Weary Traveler to introduce them to Tanin, Belladore, Sareph and Xrax as well as relay the news about their new investment in the Golden Tankard Tavern.  After the adventure in Martyn’s haphazard tunnels, Mara bid farewell to the group and disappeared into the streets of Cyr.

As Velnius regaled the group with their recent exploits, with occasional contributions from Kulo and Lykopsis, a hooded figure joined their table.  Pulling back the shroud of his cloak enough so the group could see his face, Demetrios smiled at his former deputies.

“Demetrios?” exclaimed Tanin before the hooded figure could hold his hand up to signify a more tranquil greeting.  He looked around to see if anyone noticed, but the Weary Traveler was bustling and among the laughs and din of the place, no one appeared to notice.  Demetrios told his former deputies he was happy to see them and introduced himself to their companions he had never met.

Demetrios revealed that the current chief constable, Yannis, had double-crossed him feeding him information about the bandits and then implicating him in the raids on merchant caravans.  Demetrios suggested that a member of Cyr’s Lesser House of Lords was behind the plot, although he didn’t know the identity of the member yet.  Demetrios went into hiding as soon as he saw a phalanx of guards accompanying Yannis to the constabulary.  The assassination attempt by Mag Blackscar during Session 2: Bandit Hideout at the Weary Traveler was also likely the hand of this member of the Lesser House.

Although Demetrios didn’t know the identity of the member of the Lesser House of Lords who was implicated in their problems in Cyr, he did have a lead on the were-rat infestation of the city (the were-rats were initially discovered during Session 1: Help Wanted): a dockside warehouse associated with a gang of ruffians who helped to fence the goods stolen by the were-rats.  Demetrios knew that the adventurers were hired as caravan guards for Makryannis’s wedding caravan which was soon to depart, but he believed they could root out and exterminate Cyr’s lycanthropy problem before leaving for Valerius.

The party decided to bring a wagon provided by Demetrios to the warehouse and offer supposed stolen goods to the gang of ruffians as an entry into the group.  Under cover of nightfall, the party approached the warehouse.  Surveying the building, the group noticed two entryways.  Kulo approached the building stealthily and looked in the windows.  He could tell there were about a dozen men throughout the building.  Demetrios suggested he do the talking to the thugs.  Knocking on the dockside entrance, the party was greeted with a sullen lout who seemed suspicious at the group, but relented after Demetrios made a strong persuasive appeal and seeing the goods under the canvas cover in the wagon.  The party was invited inside.

The room they first entered was a small warehouse with a few crates stacked along the walls.  A ruffian sat on a crate in one corner of the room and eyeballed the group as they made their way into the room, picking his fingernails with his dagger.  The thug who invited them in suggested the rest of the party relax in the back room while he and Demetrios haggled.

The room, much larger than the warehouse, had been converted into a bar, essentially a private clubhouse for the ruffians.  The party entered the room warily, taking stock of the nearly dozen thugs lounging about the room who glared back at them with glassy eyes, their strange demeanor suggesting a strong intoxication.  The ruffians were drinking from small metal goblets, taking small sips intermittently.

Dockside Warehousefin

A ruffian brought out a number of metal goblets equal to the seven party members and poured a green liquid from a glass decanter into each.  One of the thugs, seemingly the leader of this bunch, passed the goblets around to the adventurers.

“Here.  Green Faerie, we call it,” he said as he passed the last goblet to Sareph and stared at the tall barbarian as if demanding to drink.  Sareph gave the goblet a sniff.  An aroma distinctly of anise filled his nostrils, and he stared back at the thug in challenge as he knocked back the drink in one quick draught.  A number of the ruffians gasped at the display of bravado.  But Sareph’s eyes, which just moments before held a commanding expression, now returned to the world swimming in the Green Faerie’s delights.  He felt both strong and exhausted in the same breath, his arms like battering rams, yet like wilted branches all the same.

The ruffians attention turned to the rest of the party.  Seeing Sareph’s reaction the rest of the party appeared hesitant to drink from their goblets.  The ruffians insisted.  Tanin attempted to mock-drink from his goblet, throwing the liquid over his shoulder, but his attempt was a poor pantomime.  All saw the liquid fly over his shoulder and splash on the ground.  The leader snapped his finger to one of his cohorts at the bar for another goblet and as he made his way from the bar back to Tanin, Sareph grabbed the goblet from his hand and downed its contents in one quick gulp.  Again, the rest of the room gasped.  On returning the goblet back to the leader, Sareph appeared unsteady on his feet.  He now felt as if his body was weighted down with heavy stones, his movements sluggish like being submerged underwater.  A snap of the fingers and a the goblet was refilled.  Meanwhile, the ruffians looked at the rest of the party members in anticipation.  The adventurers shared uncertain glances with each other, but did not drink from the goblets.  Kulo moved towards the bar and made himself appear as if he tripped and spilled the contents of his goblet on the floor.  The leader scowled.

Sareph grabbed the refilled goblet from the leader once again and approached Tanin.  Once he got close to him he made it appear as if he was angry with Tanin and threw the contents of the goblet in his face, barking a curse.  The ruffians were in on the ruse, however, and instead of buying the deceit, unsheathed swords or reached for clubs leaning against the bar.

An intense melee broke out.  The nearly dozen ruffians seemed stronger than usual, their vigor enhanced by the Green Faerie.  The battle was fought in close quarters given the number of combatants.  Sareph, his own body surging with the strong drink, fought on one side of the bar.  Bashing in a thug’s skull, he vaulted the bar and started in on the ruffians on the other side, knocking two unconscious.  Despite the enhanced fighting abilities of the ruffians, the dauntless companions emerged victorious, yet bloodied and winded from the fight.  Tanin checked on Demetrios in the other room, clearly realizing that the sounds of battle had to have carried over to the small warehouse.  Opening the door, he saw Demetrios cleaning his axe over the dead bodies of the two thugs in the room.  He also noticed that Demetrios had doffed his cloak, and over a suit of chainmail, bore a curious crest reminiscent of the seal he had emblazoned on the earlier note: a bat displayed prominently on his chest.

DemetriosFIN

Tanin asked Demetrios, “Alright, batman, where do we go from here?”

Demetrios led the party down into the cellar of the building and suggested they search for some passageway that would lead into the sewers of Cyr.  The cellar was a mess of crates and refuse.  Moving some of the detritus out of the way, the party discovered a trapdoor that led to subterranean depths.  Lighting a torch, Demetrios examined the darkness below.  A ladder led down from the trapdoor to Cyr’s old sewer system underlying the city.  The air was moist and the odor was pungent yet not overwhelmingly strong as the sewers of Cyr cycled water from the Hyperborean River through its channels out to Blue Crab Bay of the Endless Sea in an ingenious feat of engineering.  The city’s aqueduct was also fed by the river but the two systems were separate although somehow connected since the were-rats moved between the two.

The party traversed the sewer, making a hard right turn before coming to a circular landing of stone in the middle of the murky water.  The landing was covered in bones.  As the party approached a giant centipede-like creature descended from the ceiling.

Carrion CrawlerFIN

A short battle ensued.  This monstrosity appeared to by lying in wait along the ceiling for some luckless creature to pass below.  The mound of bones showed clearly the results of its regular hunts and meals.  As the party inflicted damage to the creature, it managed to paralyze Velnius’s mastiff, Xerbo, with its tentacles and dragged the dog into the nasty waters of the sewer.  The adventurers continued to hack into the monster’s tough carapace.  Sareph leaped into the sewer water to rescue the drowning dog as the mortal wound was delivered to the crawling death that had dropped from the ceiling above.

Xerbo was resuscitated and brought back from the brink.  But once restored to consciousness, his sluggishness seemed to suggest ingesting the sewer water had some long-term ill effect.

After catching their breath after an intense, albeit brief fight, the adventurers searched through the bone pile of the carrion crawler for any treasure.  Not finding anything but old bones, the party followed the sewer around a bend, noticing a small amount of light coming from around the wall.  Kulo moved up stealthily to spy the source of the light, seeing a number of candles burning in a small alcove and a disheveled figure kneeling in front of a small shrine.  Kulo motioned for the party to come see.  As the party gathered in the chamber, the disheveled man finally became aware of their presence.

He turned and seemed to be unperturbed at the presence of the party.  In fact, his eyes showed a mad gleam and he smiled at the adventurers, announcing, “Welcome friends.  You come to praise Him?”

Tanin moved forward and asked, “Who are you?  What are you doing down in the sewers?”

“Who I am is unimportant.  What matters is our worship of Him,” said the man as he rose to his feet and pointed to the small shrine.

Demetrios moved the light of the torch closer to the shrine to better see what was there.  Attached to the wall of the alcove was a charcoal drawing of a horrific, demonic giant rat standing on two legs.  Scattered on the floor below and attached here and there around the shrine were numerous smaller versions of the larger charcoal drawing.  The gaunt appearance of the man suggested he had been eating little for some time and seemed to spend most of his time drawing this same figure repeatedly.  In the corner of the chamber, the party of adventurers could see additional sheets of parchment some with the early outline of the same demonic, giant rat.

Tanin asked, “What is that?”

The man replied, “He is Chitrr’k’k.  He is coming soon.  He is our master.  He will give you the gift like he has given me.”  As he said this last statement, Tanin swore the man moved his head and hands in a near perfect imitation of a how a rat rears up and inspects his environment. Tanin couldn’t be sure, maybe it was just an illusion from the flickering torch and candle light, but the man’s eyes seemed to constrict into beady round circles.  The man, his voice changing to a hoarse rasp, said, “I can give you the gift right now.  Come closer.”

The party, unwilling to let this unhinged man get any closer, unleashed bolt and arrow into his chest.  He crumpled to the ground dead.  A quick search through the man’s things revealed little else besides the makeshift shrine and drawings.  Demetrios set the parchment drawings on fire, muttering something about exterminating vermin.

The party continued on rounding one bend and then another encountering little else but rats of the normal variety.  Eventually the sewer came to a dead end, the sewer water continuing through a drain in the far wall.  The party spied a rusty door on the left.  Kulo listened through the door and heard gruff voices in discussion.  A nod and a look to his companions and the party of adventurers grasped their weapons a little tighter ready for the fight against the were-rats.

Kulo tried the door and found it unlocked.  Belladore quickly sprinted through the open door, assessing the danger lying in wait.  Kulo followed after her, moving stealthily through the threshold, he heard a click as he stepped on the second panel of the floor directly in front of the door.  Three darts flew from the wall, piercing his skin.  A moment of fear gripped Kulo as he realized that those darts likely were covered in poison, but thankfully, it appeared as if the poison had dried out and was no longer virulent.

Lord SketchFIN

The rest of the party charged into the room.  They were on a landing with stairs leading to a lower level.  In the far corner of the room, vermin gathered: eight giant rats and two monstrous rats surrounded three rat-like humans, each of whom brandished a sword.  One of the rat-like humans stood taller than the other two, clearly marking him as the leader of the pack.

Lord Sketch and Giant Rats

From the ledge, the party unleashed ranged attacks with their bows and crossbows and spells until the swarm of rats closed the distance.  Tanin cast sleep, sending five of the giant rats into a deep slumber.  Sareph moved up and put himself in harm’s way when he was surrounded by the lesser were-rats and monstrous rats.  Kulo dropped his crossbow and joined the melee to assist Sareph, who was now bleeding from several wounds.  With the numbers in their favor, it was only a matter of time before the party of adventurers emerged victorious, but not without the possibility of at least one loss on their side.  Kulo felt a piercing pain as the boss were-rat sank his teeth into Kulo’s arm.  All were aware of the lore.  Would Kulo contract lycanthropy from the bite?

Another few moments and the rats of all shapes were vanquished.  The subordinate were-rats turned back into giant rats upon their death.  The boss were-rat turned back into a man, instead.  Inspecting his body, Kulo noticed the boss were-rat’s clothes were finely made, as if he lived above his station in life.  Despite his fine garments, his boots were ragged and old.  Kulo found a pair of ivory dice, a silk embroidered handkerchief, and a letter in the boss were-rat’s pockets:

Lord Sketch's LetterFIN

Upon examining the letter, Demetrios frowned but there was a gleam in his eye as he said to Kulo, “Fighting crime never ends!”

The party found two chests in the back corner of the room.  The first chest contained 876 copper pieces, 766 silver pieces, and 85 gold pieces.  The second chest contained a large, well-made tapestry depicting Blue Crab Bay of Cyr, a silk robe with gold embroidery, an onyx locket holding a curl of hair, a soapstone pitcher, a feather mask with silver thread,  a potion in a glass bottle (the liquid included brown, silver, and gray layers that won’t mix even when the bottle is shaken), and a black and gray stone pyramid.  The stone pyramid appeared to be attracted to the metal armor of the party as if pulled by some invisible force.

On returning to the warehouse, Demetrios summarily executed the two unconscious thugs, slitting their throats and muttering something about exterminating vermin.  He also gave the party a wand of improved minor illusion.  He told them that if the party ever needed him again, they could expend a charge of the wand and it will create a glowing bat insignia, like the one he pins to the criminals he has killed, in the nighttime sky.  “I will see the bat signal and come,” he said.

Lykopsis and Sareph advanced to 3rd-level.  Tanin advanced to 5th-level.  Kulo successfully avoided the curse of were-rat lycanthropy!


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Warehouse Tiles: Wizards of the Coast City Tiles

Sewer Map Tiles/Terrain: Black Scrolls Games Sewer Map Tiles

Adventure Ideas about Lord Sketch and the worship of Chitrr’k’k: Kobold Press Book of Lairs

Riddle in Chirurgeon’s letter: 3 in 1 Puzzles, Traps, and Magic Items Pack by Patrick E. Pullen

Bandit Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Bandit Warband

Carrion Crawler Paper Miniatures: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Dungeon Monsters

Parchment Paper Stock Art: Inked Adventures Stock Art Parchment Pages

Monstrous Rats Paper Miniatures: Printable Heroes

Dark (Age) Knight Paper Miniature by cowboyleland on the Cardboard Warriors Forum: Cardboard Warriors January 2017 Forum Hoard “Out of Time”

Original Art of Were-Rat and Giant Rats: Jody Monochrome

Were-rats and Giant Rat Metal Miniatures: Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals

Session 12: What Lurks Beneath the Golden Tankard

The Golden Tankard Cellar2

(Note: This adventure was run in April 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place contemporaneously with Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat).

While Tanin and Bao took on the mission of the Jackdaws in discovering the identity of the Raven, Kulo and Velnius were seeking to make new purchases to aid their adventuring life.  Velnius left Xerbo in the care of the potboy at the Weary Traveler.  As they walked past a rather derelict tavern near the edge of the wall that separated this poorer quarter from a merchant-lord quarter, the sign dangling outside by one remaining chain identified it as the Golden Tankard, they heard a woman crying for help.  She was sitting in the doorway of the tavern, cradling a small boy.  Kulo and Velnius moved over to the woman to investigate the commotion.  Three others–a female hill dwarf, a human woman, and a female half-orc trying to keep her identity shrouded by the hood of her cloak–also came closer from the busy street to offer assistance.  The boy appeared ashen and was delirious.  Kulo and Velnius could tell that the boy had a number of scrapes and bruises but were at a loss for what pained him so much.  A female hill dwarf who also answered the pleas for help, inspected the boy closer, noticing a puncture wound in his neck.  She believed he was poisoned from some bite.

As this was going on, a surly mountain dwarf emerged in the doorway, muttering “If I told them once, I told them a thousand times.  Stay out of the cellar!”  On seeing the state of the boy, his demeanor quickly changed and he looked about sheepishly.  The human woman from the street asked the mountain dwarf what was in the cellar.  He equivocated in his answer muttering something about a rat infestation.  The woman could tell he was hiding something.  A growing crowd was gathering at the doorway, which seemed to agitate the mountain dwarf.  The woman pressed him further about the cellar.

The dwarf grew angry, but quickly stifled his temper, and proclaimed to the gathering, “I, Martyn Fenns, proprietor of the Golden Tankard will pay . . .” he paused momentarily grimacing at the thought of having to spend money, “20 gold pieces to the stalwart ban of brave souls willing to kill the rats in my cellar that must have bitten this boy.  If any of you be brave enough!”  At this last statement, he directed his gaze on the original group that had come to assist.

Kulo and Velnius bristled at the insinuation that they lacked courage.  The original group exchanged looks of agreement and introduced themselves to each other.  Pabelle, the female hill dwarf, Mara, the human woman, and Lykopsis, the female half-orc, joined Kulo and Velnius in reassuring the woman cradling the boy in the doorway that they would find out what happened to him in the cellar.  The woman, a barmaid named Danyella, thanked the intrepid adventurers for helping her son, Theo.  In that instant, Theo came-to from his delirium and said, “They took Mallic!  They have Mallic!” before collapsing in Danyella’s arms.  A look of dismay spread over Danyella’s face and she said, her lips quivering, “Mallic!”

Pabelle gave Danyella a look filled with sympathy and said, “We’ll find Mallic too.”  So, the adventurers helped Danyella carry Theo to one of the Inn’s rooms so he could rest.  Afterwards, they were led to the cellar to take on Martyn’s claimed rats.  Martyn gave the party a lantern to light their way.  The cellar was dark, dank, and a foul odor permeated the room, a mixture of rotten foodstuffs, spilled wine, mildew, and the unmistakable smell of vermin dander and droppings.  Three barrels sat in the southwest corner and in the middle of the wall sat a large stack of crates and barrels.

The sound of scratching could be heard emanating from the large stack of crates and barrels.  The party prepared themselves for some vermin control and approached the crates.  Two giant rats emerged from behind the crates and began attacking the party.  A third giant rat emerged quietly from behind the barrels in the corner and attacked Kulo.

Golden Tankard Cellar Rat2fin

After some minor injuries, the party put the giant rats to the sword.  Not convinced their job was done, the party began searching the room.  They examined the two doors in the cellar.  One led to the street–the delivery entrance for the inn.  The other was an inner door, of substantial iron construction and seemingly out-of-place in the cellar.  Pabelle immediately thought out loud, “What is Martyn hiding in there?”  Kulo tried picking the lock, but failed.

Bothered by the stacking of the crates and barrels in mostly one location of the cellar, Velnius noticed that there were many scuff marks on the stone floor near the crates, as if they had been moved back and forth over the area many times.  Moving some of the crates aside, Velnius shouted to his companions that he’d discovered a tunnel.

Moving more of the crates and barrels to the side, the party inspected what appeared to be a very rough hewn tunnel in the wall.  The air felt cool and moist, but also carried the smell of more vermin.  Velnius, with his dark vision, could tell the corridor turned to the left, but could see no more.  Mara looked into the darkness and asked the group, “Well, shall we see what Martyn’s been up to down here?”

The party edged forward in rank, cautiously eyeballing the recesses for the beady eyes of giant rats, the beams of light from Kulo’s lantern illuminating the sides of the tunnel.  Near an opening and depression of the tunnel, their expectations were met with the yellowed fangs of five giant rats that launched forward for the attack.  Kulo’s lantern highlighted the melee, but more telling were the sounds: blades slicing the air and meeting mangy hides, the thwump of quarterstaff against skull, and the cries of pain as one of the rodent’s teeth sank into flesh.  In a moment of that flickering light, the aftermath was telling–five dead giant rats littered the corridor.

The adventurers continued down the corridor as it snaked to the right.  Pabelle suddenly realized Martyn’s intent with the tunnels.  She announced to the group, “Martyn was trying to tunnel underneath the wall into the richer quarter!”  They continued cautiously forward coming to an opening that branched in three directions, one heading back towards the cellar.  Kulo taking notice of this said, “His stonecunning has much to be desired.”  The group decided to take the branch that led away from the cellar.  It curved to a dead-end, but before the group could backtrack, beady eyes emerged from the darkness as four giant rats attacked!

Tunnels Tankard

As the sounds of struggle diminished, the giant rats lay skewered upon the stone floor.  At a dead end, the party doubled-back to the branching corridor turning to the unexplored area of the tunnels.  This corridor also led to a larger opening that branched in either direction but before the adventurers could gather their bearings, four giant spiders descended on them from the recesses of the ceiling, their fangs dripping poison.

The fight this time was more dire.  More than once poison added to the pain of wounds inflicted by the arachnids, but in mere moments the fighting ceased.  All of the spiders were dead and the doughty adventurers were tending to wounds.  Kulo needed to light a torch.  In the midst of battle he dropped the lantern provided by Martyn in order to unsheathe his rapier and the lantern shattered.

Peering down the corridor leading away from the direction of the cellar, Velnius could see a chamber covered in spiderwebs.  The party approached cautiously, cutting through the webs in order to reach the main body of the chamber.  No spiders emerged to attack , but the group noticed three forms hanging in the webs.  Cutting the first down revealed the remains of a shabbily-dressed man, clearly one of Cyr’s destitute denizens.  On the ground near his body was a crudely constructed club, seemingly made from a table leg.  Searching his body, the party found a potion of healing, a vial of what appeared to be antivenom, and a glass bottle of oil for a lantern.  A further search of the room turned up a lantern, still in good working order.  The second cocoon contained a desiccated giant rat.  The third cocoon held a boy, still alive, who came-to momentarily as they were cutting him from the webs.

Tunnels Tankard2fin

“Theo?  Where’s Theo,” he asked nervously.

Pabelle responded, “Theo is upstairs being looked after.  Do you know how many spiders there are down here?”

Mallic shook his head, but said with a shudder, “No, I don’t know how many, but there is a really big one, bigger than all the rest.  It inspected me before feeding on the giant rat.”

Looking him over, it appeared that while bruised, Mallic was not poisoned.

The adventuring party moved down the corridor from whence they came in the direction back towards the cellar.  They noticed one last branching corridor they had yet to explore.  Velnius and Kulo moved up to explore this corridor, while Mara, Lykopsis, Pabelle, and Mallic waited within earshot.

As they rounded a bend, Kulo noticed a cave-in that led to a finished room.  “The room with the iron door,” Kulo thought.  Meanwhile, Velnius peered down the final tunnel and noticed spiderwebs covering the walls, floor, and ceiling.  Velnius joined Kulo in the room, accessible through the cave-in.  Shelves lined the walls holding glass bottles.  Kulo held one of the bottles up to the light of his torch.  Inside he could see an amber liquid and at the bottom of the bottle, a dead spider.  He stashed the bottle in his pack and the two of them returned to the group and told them of their find.  Mara recognized the contents of the bottle as spider-wine, a particularly potent alcohol considered illegal in most civilized lands including Cyr.  They returned to the room via the cave-in and opened the iron door from the inside ready to reunite Mallic with his mom and brother, heal Theo from the poison coursing through his veins with the antivenom, and to confront Martyn about his contraband.

The party first found Danyella and Theo in an upstairs room.  Danyella was overcome with joy at seeing Mallic alive and well.  Pabelle cradled Theo in her arms, rousing him from his stupor, and then giving him the antivenom to drink.  She looked at Danyella and said, “This should heal him.”  Danyella smiled with tears falling from her eyes.  They left the family alone, suggesting to Danyella and Mallic to let Theo rest to give the antivenom some time to work.

Finding Martyn behind the bar counter rubbing a dirty mug with a greasy rag in some half-hearted attempt at cleaning, the party confronted him about his exploits below the Golden Tankard.  He appeared surly and defiant at the claims the group was leveling at him, bristling at the accusation that he would try to tunnel into the nearby merchant-lord district.  Instead he suggested he had widened a rat tunnel that led to his cellar in order to put a stop to his rat infestation and then questioned whether the party had even done anything about the giant rats.  He asked aloud whether they even deserved the 20 gold pieces he had promised them.

Kulo became incensed, pulled out the bottle of spider-wine, and waved it in front of Martyn’s face.  “We know about this!” he said.  Martyn’s eyes grew wide and he stammered, finally regaining his composure and asking Kulo to keep his voice down as he surveyed the two drunks staring into their mugs in the common room of the Golden Tankard.  Martyn then became compliant, dropping his sullen demeanor.  He admitted to trying to tunnel to into the wealthier quarter, but was cursed by his stone-ignorance, part of what led him to leave his dwarven clan years ago to settle among the humans of Cyr.  When that failed he concocted a plan to sell the illicit spider-wine, receiving a shipment of spiders from smugglers who claimed they had been stolen from a drow lair.  But his poor tunneling collapsed the back wall of his room where he stored the spiders and the wine.  The spiders that were still alive, escaped their cage into his tunnels.  He figured the spiders could help end his rat infestation.  After a few months, he hired a local drunk who owed him an outstanding debt to go into the tunnels and kill the spiders.

Pabelle was incredulous, “And you didn’t care whether Danyella’s boys would be harmed by these spiders?”

Martyn shrugged, “I figured as long as I was stern with them about staying out of the cellar, keeping the iron door closed and locked, and blocking the main tunnel entrance everything would be fine.”

Kulo grew irritated again.  He told Martyn that besides the 20 gold pieces he offered them, he was now going to pay them an additional 2 gold pieces for every rat and every spider carcass they brought him.  Martyn frowned and said he didn’t have it even if he was willing to pay the extortion fee.

Kulo slammed his fist on the bar counter and said, “Fine, we’ll end your spider and rat problem–there is one big spider left.  But we want 50% stake in the Golden Tankard.”

Martyn grumbled and clenched his fists.  Kulo continued, “And you’re going to pay Danyella double what you’re paying her now.”

Martyn tried to dissuade them from this venture, pointing out that the Golden Tankard hadn’t operated as an inn for some time because it had a leaky roof.  Only two of the upstairs rooms were habitable and they were for him and Danyella and her boys.  Kulo said the party would get the roof repaired.  Martyn, realizing he had no way out, reluctantly agreed.

Kulo vaulted the bar counter, pulled a dagger from his belt and poked it into Martyn’s belly.  “And your days of wild schemes like the tunnels and spider-wine are over, you understand!”

Martyn gulped and nodded deferentially, a dagger in the gut a clear attitude adjustment.

The party prepared themselves for their final fight, healing themselves with goodberries and bolstering each other’s courage.  They returned to the tunnels and the final corridor,  Kulo’s lantern lighting the way.  As they approached the final chamber, they cautiously made their way through the webs to avoid being entrapped.  But their movements gave away their approach and a giant spider emerged along the ceiling of the chamber.

Spider Queen3

As the party hacked and fought the foul beast, a swarm of newly hatched spiders crawled along the floor before enveloping Lykopsis.  Lykopsis managed to crush the last of the spider swarm just as the rest of the party slayed the giant spider.  The party searched the lair in case anything of value had been hoarded, but all they found were the bones of  giant rats.  Lykopsis noticed something glinting from the giant spider’s abdomen.  Looking more closely, the giant spider queen had what appeared to be a gem growing in her abdomen.  Lykopsis pried it out and placed it in her backpack.

Returning to the Golden Tankard, the party relaxed and had a mug of poor-quality ale or some cheap wine.  Although it wasn’t much, the adventurers felt good about this being their place.  The Weary Traveler had been good to them, but they clearly had enemies in the city and a less conspicuous home base would be good.

Kulo spoke with Danyella about getting an estimate on the roof repairs, giving her 30 gold pieces for the undertaking and a down-payment.  He also suggested she see if she could get Mallic an apprenticeship with a local roofer.  Martyn overheard this and told Kulo that Mallic is needed for odd jobs around the Golden Tankard, like bringing in fire wood or washing dishes.  Kulo responded that it would be better for Mallic to have his own income so that he could help Danyella pay the rent on the room they occupy upstairs.  Besides, Theo was now old enough to take over many of these tasks.  Martyn, still not used to his co-ownership in the Golden Tankard, reluctantly deferred.

Pabelle, Lykopsis, and Mara advanced to 2nd level.


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to DriveThruRPG.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Adventure based on a module from Nord Games: Creaking in the Dark

Cavern and Cellar Tiles: Fat Dragon Copper Dragon Caverns 1 and Fat Dragon Copper Dragon Basic Dungeons 1

Barrels and Crates: Fat Dragon E-Z Dungeon Deluxe Edition

Spider Webs: Fat Dragon Depths of the Drow

Giant Rat Metal Minis: Ral Partha/Iron Wind Metals Giant Rat

Original Art of the Spider Queen: Jody Monochrome

 

Session 11: The Jackdaws, the Raven, and the Rat

The Raven Warehouse2

(Note: This adventure was run in March 2017.  In campaign time, this adventure took place two days after Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III–the time it took to travel back from the goblin caves to Cyr).

Before leaving the caverns, the party finally decided to try the strange glowing mushrooms they had found here and there throughout the caverns.  Going back to the room where they killed the rust monster, Belladore sampled a small portion of one of the mushrooms found there.  It tasted delicious!  Suddenly she felt healthier as the mushroom imparted a small amount of healing to her wounds.  The party roamed to the other parts of the caves where they had seen mushrooms and harvested the lot, placing them in their packs.

The party, with rescued prisoners in tow, traveled back to Cyr.  The two-day trek was uneventful but gave the party a much needed respite after such an intense series of battles in the caverns.  Kulo was on the mend and despite being healed by magic he still had a wicked scar across his torso from the cave roper’s terrible bite.  This scar will act as a reminder of this adventure thought Kulo, much like his more visible scar across his forehead from his mysterious past.  The tissue damage across his back in particular made his trip back to Cyr uncomfortable both in the saddle and especially sleeping in camp.

On returning to Cyr, Jana said her farewells to her companions.  With Dragomir dead, she felt her life could begin anew and she would need some time to herself to figure out where she went from there.  Despite her typical stoicism, her eyes filled with tears as she said goodbye to Kulo.

The party returned to their old haunt, the Weary Traveler, as their base of operations.  Belladore, Kulo, Velnius, and Xrax decided they really could use some rest and relaxation.  Some had interest in obtaining new goods with some of the loot they acquired in the caverns.

Tanin, originally from Cyr and connected to the shady thieves’ guilds in the city, received a message from one of these guilds, the Jackdaws.  Over the last month of his adventuring life, Tanin’s reputation had grown, and the Jackdaws, with spies everywhere, know when someone with a criminal reputation is ascending in power.  The Jackdaws sent a message via the potboy of the Weary Traveler for Tanin to meet at the Smoky Ale Tavern, located in one of the more downtrodden districts of Cyr.

Tanin, joined by Bao, traveled to the tavern, a run-down building that listed to one side as if it could collapse at any moment.  The place was quiet.  Scanning the tables, Tanin and Bao saw a drunk passed out at one table, a hulking barbarian at another nursing his drink, and a dark-dressed man hiding in the shadows of the back corner, who motioned to them with a nod of his head.  As they joined him at the table, the surly barkeep placed two dirty mugs of ale in front of them and held out his hand.

Tanin, smelling the sour-stench of the ale, winced and said, “Do you have any wine?”

The barkeep shook his head and scratched his greasy smock, “Tis all we got.  Two coppers.”

Tanin paid him, pushed the mug aside, and looked at his contact across the table.  The man looked to be in his mid-20s and had dark hair and a beard.  He began to speak, paused and looked at Bao.  Tanin said, “He will help with anything you need accomplished.”  Bao looked from Tanin to their contact and nodded.

The man handed Tanin and Bao a handbill from the city watch, a wanted poster for a slight man called “The Raven.”  The contact said, “This person has been stealing from the merchant-lords of the city and quite successfully.  The city watch wants to catch him, but the Jackdaws are also interested in finding out the identity of this person and stopping him since he has no ties to any of the guilds in the city.  And his frequent burglaries of the merchant-lords have created trouble for the guilds since the nobles have put pressure on the city watch to double-down on theft in the city.  What is more is that the Raven has started to extort merchant-nobles.  In exchange for a fee, the Raven will leave a merchant-noble’s manor alone.”

Raven Wanted Poster

The Jackdaw contact continued, “We have two leads on the Raven.  We believe we know who his fence is for stolen goods.  A dealer in curiosities in the Craftsmen Quarter.  We also believe we know where the Raven takes his bribes.  A food-seller in the farmer’s market in the Merchant’s Quarter.”

Tanin asked, “What will be our reward if we locate and capture the Raven?” His eyes lingered on the 500 gold piece bounty offered by the city watch.  The contact said the Jackdaws will give 250 gold coins, but more importantly, successfully capturing the Raven would increase their stature in the eyes of the guild leadership.  There would likely be many benefits to being a Jackdaw who completed this mission.  The contact gave Tanin instructions for how to communicate with him once they had successfully completed the mission.  He advised that like the city watch the Jackdaws would take the Raven living or dead, but living would be preferred.  If dead, Tanin and Bao would have to prove that the corpse really was the Raven.  The contact then left the Smoky Ale Tavern.

Tanin and Bao began to argue over the assignment.  Bao seemed miffed that the Jackdaws were only willing to pay half of what the city watch would pay and suggested they capture the Raven and then just turn him over to the watch.  Tanin impressed upon Bao the importance of being in the Jackdaws good stead.  As they were debating, the slamming of a mug of ale at their table startled them and they turned to see the hulking barbarian take the seat across from them.  He looked at them with icy eyes and said, “Count me in.”  Tanin and Bao looked at each other in doubt.  But Tanin inquired about the Barbarian.  He told them his name was Sareph.  That he was new to Cyr, in fact, he was new to cities and found them to be disturbing.  But he was here and he needed to find purpose in his life other than at the bottom of a dirty mug of sour ale.  And he held out his hand showing a couple of silver coins amidst more copper that his days of staring at a mug were coming to an end one way or another.

Tanin shared a hard look with Bao.  But ultimately, Tanin felt they could use another hand in this undertaking, especially a strong arm like this barbarian.  So it was settled; they would split the 250 gold pieces equally.  They discussed what would be the best option: to investigate the curiosities dealer or to stake out the market to locate the seller taking bribes on the Raven’s behalf.  They decided to stake out the market.

Market Cyr2

Tanin, Bao, and Sareph arrived at the busy market at the intersection between four streets.  At the center of the market-square, a fountain sprayed water into a central pool.  The market was busy this morning. People browsed the various food carts and stalls, buying everything from fruits and vegetables, to baked breads, from cheese to meats and fish.  After making a quick round through the market, the three decided to split up and keep an eye out from three different vantage points around the square, yet all within eyesight of each other.

Sareph stayed in the vicinity of a fishmonger, Bao near the fountain, and Tanin by the fruit carts.  Sareph noticed a well-dressed woman approach the fishmonger.  Her garb looked to be of much higher quality than what most people wear in the Merchant’s Quarter, although not entirely out-of-place since most commerce at shops occurred in this quarter.  Her movements grabbed his attention too, since she appeared to be nervous and out-of-place, her eyes darted about furtively.  She reached into her satchel and pulled out a pouch which she gave the fishmonger, who nodded as he took the pouch and secreted it within his cart.  Sareph noticed that she did not receive any fish in the exchange.  Sareph signaled with a jerk of his head to Tanin and Bao that something was up in his area of the market.  Tanin and Bao started to make their way to Sareph.

While Tanin and Bao were weaving among market-goers and carts, Sareph decided to confront the fishmonger.  Noticing the hulking form of this northern barbarian heading his way, the fishmonger whistled, signaling to a group of ruffians located in one of the nearby buildings that he needed help.  Six ruffians poured out of the building wielding everything from crude clubs to swords and axes.  Bao moved up to intercept them.  Tanin caught sight of the bandits swarming Bao with Sareph nearby and found himself in a dilemma.  The well-dressed woman had walked briskly to the edge of the market and she was on the verge of disappearing for good amidst the tumult of the city.  Tanin could give chase to the woman, but that would leave his companions to face off against tough odds with the ruffians.  He sighed as he watched the well-dressed woman disappear into the city, but the sounds of battle drew his attention to his friends.  Tanin moved up to help.

Market Cyr

By the time Tanin moved closer to engage the thugs, Bao and Sareph had killed one of them.  Bao was armed with his quarterstaff, a weapon he could easily carry in the walled city of Cyr with no worry from the watch.  Sareph on the other hand carried his sword hidden within his cloak and he did not have a writ to carry a concealed weapon.  If the city watch were to find him armed as he was, he was sure to find himself in the dungeons underneath the city.

The fishmonger meanwhile had squirmed his way past the ruffians and had entered the building from where they had emerged just moments before.  As the battle continued between the thugs and the party, both sides taking injuries, sounds of the alerted city watch could be heard a few blocks over.  Bao and Sareph continued to trade blows with the ruffians as Tanin gave pursuit to the fleeing fishmonger.  As the sounds of the city watch grew closer, the thugs seemed to melt away into the recesses of the city.  Tanin ran through the building finding the back door wide open and catching a mere glimpse of the fishmonger as he weaved his way through startled common-folk in the street beyond. Bao and Sareph looked at each other and the body of the slain bandit and realized they better leave the scene too or lest they would be tried for murder in the city.  Sareph wrenched a piece of the awning from the fishmonger’s cart, tearing a sizeable piece of the canvas and wrapped his sword in it as an improvised scabbard. They took off in the direction of Tanin and the fishmonger.

Tanin found himself dodging carts and weaving around commoners, but always the fishmonger was about a block ahead, occasionally looking over his shoulder to see if Tanin was still in pursuit.  But Tanin found his big break when a passing group of festival performers and the crowd they generated produced a road block that held back the fishmonger.  While the fishmonger pushed and clawed his way through the crowd, Tanin caught up to him.  The fishmonger drew a dagger and the crowd parted with gasps.  He lunged at Tanin, missing him.  Tanin in return drew his scimitar and using the flat of the blade gave the fishmonger a great smack across his face!  Dazed by the blow, the fishmonger dropped his dagger.  Bao and Sareph arrived to witness the outcome of the melee.  Sareph moved up and grappled the fishmonger in a bear hug and carried him into a nearby alley.  There they tied his hands and led him through a number of alleys and streets to a different part of the city to avoid the investigation of the city watch.

Near the docks in the Warehouse Quarter, the party led the fishmonger to a decrepit tavern even in more disrepair than the Smoky Ale.  Its name belied its condition, the Golden Trident.  The group sat the fishmonger down at a table and ordered a round of drinks for all, a fetid swill that made them all nearly retch called Dwarven Bane.  It sounded better than Barnacle Brew and Pickled Herring Mead.  Sareph pretended to be drunk, a muscled arm draped around the fishmonger’s neck, a dagger under the table digging into his belly.  Roustabouts and lumpers filled the small common room of the tavern, holding their noses at the revolting drinks in their tankards and cups.  Despite its smell and taste, the sour and bitter beverages would get them drunk.

The fishmonger’s name was Grady.  And with a dagger point in his gut, he seemed quite persuaded to help out the party.  Tanin’s charismatic appeals appeared superfluous.  Grady told the party that he did not know the identity of the Raven and that he gave the “protection money” to his boss, Lurch, who brought it to the Raven.  He mentioned further that Lurch ran a warehouse in the district and that he would be expecting his payoff today.  The party had confiscated the bribe money of 100 gp from Grady.  The party decided to pretend to be working with Grady to gain access to the warehouse to see if they could find the Raven and perhaps some of the stolen goods.  Grady mentioned that Lurch had a number of thugs working for him in the warehouse and that there is a code word to gain entrance.  The code word was “The Rat.”

Bao, Tanin, and Sareph decided to wait until nightfall and then approach the warehouse, gain entrance, and then see if they could infiltrate Lurch’s gang in an effort to find the whereabouts of the Raven and his stolen goods.  Grady led them to the vicinity of the building in the warehouse district and then pointed it out to them from a distance.  Bao, surreptitiously surveyed the building from all sides before returning to the group without much useful information except that there appeared to be lights on in the building and movement from a number of people.  Bao couldn’t be certain how many.  With Grady bound and gagged across the street, the three approached the door.  Tanin rapped on the heavy iron door and with the sound of metal on metal, a slit opened on the door and two eyes glared out at the group.  After a careful inspection from the thug on the other side of the door, a voice asked, “Who rules the sewers below the streets?”

Tanin replied, “The Rat.”

The sound of a strong lock clicked open, and the door swung inward for the three intrepid adventurers to enter.  Tanin entered and told the ruffian who opened the door that he and his companions sought employment with the gang.  The ruffian asked how they knew the code word to open the door.  Tanin mentioned that he had connections with the underworld of Cyr and that one of these connections suggested this warehouse.  The ruffian paused and seemed to think about Tanin’s explanation and suggested he wait by the door as he spoke with one of his associates.  The ruffian walked towards a group at a table at the far end of the building.  Meanwhile, Tanin eyeballed the stack of crates to his immediate right.  Seemed strange that they would be piled so high in one corner of the building when they had so much space to store goods.

The men at the table, about 100 feet away, seemed to be in the midst of a card game.  They dropped their cards as the ruffian approached.  One of the thugs spoke closely with the ruffian and looked in the direction of Tanin.  The thug looked up to the ceiling and then seemed to nod to the corner near Tanin behind the wall of crates.  Before Tanin grasped what was going on, the pile of crates came crashing down on him!  The party’s subterfuge had failed.

Tanin’s quick reflexes saved him as he just managed to jump out of the way of the crashing crates.  All the men at the table stood up drawing weapons and ran towards the party.  Tanin moved up to engage the ruffians running his way.  Sareph and Bao witnessed the ambush from the doorway.  Sareph pulled his sword from the awning he  was still using as an improvised sheath which he threw to the floor.  He delivered a mighty blow against the thug who had knocked the pile of crates onto Tanin.  Bao scanned the room and took note of a door at the very back of the warehouse.  He dashed for it.

The battle ticked up a notch as a thug hiding in the rafters of the ceiling started to snipe at the party with a crossbow.  Tanin was hit by a bolt before he realized where the shooting was coming from. Sareph traded blows with the thug at the crates, but the thug fell to the barbarian’s sword.  Bao dashed to the back door, momentarily ignored by the ruffians who were focused on Tanin.  He pressed his shoulder into the door and tried the handle but it was locked.  Tanin severely injured one of the ruffians who had moved up to engage him.  The man dropped his weapon and fled out the door of the warehouse.  Sareph meanwhile had worked his way around the pile of crates taking cover from the crossbowman.  He decided to try a gamble.  With a mighty roar, Sareph knocked over one of the barrels in this corner of the building, gave it a shove, and leaped on top of it.  He managed to stay on top of it for about five feet as it rolled in the direction of the crossbowman but at that point he lost his footing, crashing down on his back in an spectacular fall.  His plan to somehow reach the crossbowman or at least intimidate him failed miserably.

Bao moved back towards the ruffians and threw a dart at one of them.  The crossbowman in the rafters took another shot at Tanin but missed.  Tanin, tiring of the battle, cast sleep on the ruffians near him.  Two fell to the ground in a slumber.  Sareph stood back up, thankfully only his pride wounded, and charged one of the standing ruffians, delivering a deep wound along his arm.  The sniper in the rafters hit Tanin with another bolt.

Tanin directed a beam of crackling energy at the crossbowman in the rafters.  The sniper cried out as the magical force slammed into him.  The ruffian next to Sareph looked to his fallen comrades and decided to make a run for the door.  Sareph dropped his sword and aimed his bow at the sniper, his arrow piercing the sniper’s side.  Bao threw another dart at the remaining ruffian, who followed the lead of his companion and bolted for the door.  The sniper unleashed one last desperate shot at Tanin which flew wide.  Tanin and Sareph in return brought the crossbowman down.  A blast of energy and an arrow ending his life and bringing him crashing to the floor.

The three approached the locked door at the back of the warehouse.  Tanin knocked back a potion of healing to help with the pain and blood loss from the sniper’s bolts.  Listening at the door, the three heard the sounds of a man and woman arguing.  Sareph motioned for Bao and Tanin to back away and with a mighty kick, the door was wrenched from the frame.  Light from wall sconces revealed a staircase that led down to a narrow but long room 20′ × 50′.  Tanin charged down the stairs as Bao leaped from the landing at the top of the staircase to the floor, rolling as he landed.  Bao leaped up to his feet, his quarterstaff at the ready, displaying his intimidating martial prowess.  At the back of the room stood two figures, a rat-man and a woman dressed in fine attire.

The woman cried out, “Oh please! Please help me!” She fell away from the were-rat in an exaggerated performance of distress.  The were-rat snarled and then charged Bao, his short sword nearly dealing a mortal wound.  Tanin’s scimitar, the Blade of Dark Deeds, found its mark in the were-rat’s side.  The rat-man cried out and directed pure venom in his look towards Tanin.  Sareph leaped down from the landing, this time gracefully rolling to his feet and slicing the were-rat from collarbone to hip.  The woman-in-distress pulled a dagger from a scabbard on her thigh, stabbed Tanin in the back, and made an attempt to flee up the stairs.  Tanin cried out in pain, yet delivered a serious blow to her side as she attempted to escape.  Bao brought his quarterstaff down in a mighty crack atop the were-rat’s head, who crumpled upon the floor.  Sareph chased the woman to the foot of the stairs.  She looked back, her eyes wide with fear.  Sareph steeled his jaw for the bloodletting and with a mighty swing, severed the woman’s head from her shoulders.  Her head rolled ten feet to rest at the foot of Tanin’s boot.  Tanin recoiled and jumped slightly at the sight.

The were-rat in death reverted back to human form.  The party searched the two bodies finding a lute and a silvered rapier and silvered dagger and some coins on the were-rat.  The woman had a little money, 13 gp in a pouch, an unusual double-headed coin in her pocket, and numerous copies of the wanted poster of the Raven posted by the city watch.  Tanin quickly deduced that the woman was, in fact, the Raven!

Tanin and Bao argued over what to do with the Raven’s body.  They bickered back and forth about bringing her to the watch or to the Jackdaws.  At one point, they thought about bringing the head to one and the body to the other.  Then, the head to one and then the other, in an attempt to obtain the 500 gp reward from the city watch and the 250 gp reward from the Jackdaws.  Sareph, in disgust, and with a sense of unease at striking down a poorly-armed woman grabbed her body and head, wrapped her in the fishmonger’s awning, and headed for the door of the warehouse.  In the midst of their bickering, Bao and Tanin realized what had just happened and chased after Sareph, catching him right before he exited the warehouse.  They managed to calm him down and decided that they would stick with their original plan and bring the body to the Jackdaws.  They tied and bound the sleeping ruffians too to back up their story.

Tanin made contact with the Jackdaws.  They agreed to meet at the Golden Trident in the wee-hours of the morning.  Led to a back room by the tavern keeper, three members of the Jackdaws entered. When you show them the head of The Raven, the main Jackdaw agent’s eyes grow wide.

He says, “Mistress Thea Kellergis! A merchant-noble of the Lesser House involved in thievery! We suspected she was involved in some type of criminal activity since she had been so charitable to the poor of the city without it seeming to affect her own wealth, although her alms had ceased some time ago. Maybe her taste for theft got the best of her and she became greedy? Good thing you didn’t bring her head to the watch. They’d never believe Mistress Kellergis would be involved in such behavior. And murder of a merchant-noble is punishable by execution in Cyr. But she couldn’t have been working alone given the thefts taking place across the wealthier houses in Cyr. Her spies and cohorts wouldn’t have been capable. Do you know who she was working with? And where are the stolen goods?”

Tanin explained that they only knew of the fishmonger, Grady, who somehow had escaped his bonds while they were fighting the ruffians in the warehouse.  Tanin also explained that the warehouse did not contain any of the contraband the Raven had been accused of stealing.

The Jackdaws took the captives for further interrogation. The Jackdaws handed over a nondescript sack with 350 gp as payment, giving a 100 gp bonus for the job.  They also ask Tanin, Bao, and Sareph to take them to the warehouse for further inspection.  They tell the party that they will dispose of the body–making it seem that Mistress Kellergis was murdered in one of the poor quarters of the city when she was delivering aid to the indigent. In all likelihood, the Jackdaws will use Mistress Kellergis’s death as a way of implicating some foe of the crime who will be put to death. They remind Tanin, Bao, and Sareph to keep their knowledge of the Raven quiet.

Bao and Sareph advanced to 2nd level.


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to drivethrurpg.com where I participate in the affiliate program. Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.). Your support is appreciated.)

Adventure based partially on “The Raven” from the supplement, Wanted: Part of an awesome bundle of 5th Edition supplements from Assassin Games (poster used with permission.)

Adventure also based partially on “Rats in the Street” by Embers Design Studio

Warehouse Map Tiles/Terrain by Black Scrolls Games: Modular Inn – Map-Tile Set

Market Map Tiles/Terrain by Fat Dragon Games: Fantasy Village Tiles

Crates and Barrels by Fat Dragon Games: E-Z Dungeons Deluxe Edition

Bandit Paper Miniatures: Bandit Warband by One Monk/Mayhem in Paper

Farmer’s Market Customers: Dryws Imperfect Crowd

Inspiration for the Jackdaws Guild: Nord Games Ultimate NPCs: Skulduggery

 

Session 10: Caverns of Calamity Part III

Cavern RoperNew

(Note: This adventure was run in February 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place immediately after Session 9: Caverns of Calamity Part II).

Before heading down the chasm to explore whatever lurked below and to find the goblinoid creatures that had been taunting them, Xrax decided to relieve Velnius of his guard duties, watching over the horses and former captives.  Bao decided to accompany Xrax outside the caverns.  Velnius and Xerbo rejoined their companions in the caverns.  The party tied a rope to the remnants of the bridge that spanned the chasm, having climbed back over to the northern corridor.  The descent appeared to be about 40 feet down and all that could be discerned was the same rough stone as the current floors.

Once the party had descended to the lower caverns they immediately set about scouting the passageways east, west, and north.  No creatures were evident in the passageways to the east and north, although a rockfall appeared to block one very narrow corridor.  The cavern to the west held a significant stalagmite and stalactite wall that blocked the back end of the room.  Clicking noises could be heard from beyond the stalagmite wall.  Kulo and Velnius looked at each other and silently nodded to each other indicating their preparedness for what lurked behind the wall.  As they entered the room, one of the goblinoid creatures suddenly appeared out of thin air in the corridor outside of the room.  A glowing, magical hand appeared that pulled at a cleft in the ceiling causing a cave-in to block the passageway that Kulo, Velnius, and Xerbo had just entered, trapping them in the room.  The aberrant goblin seemed to laugh as he watched the ceiling crumble.  As the cave-in collapsed behind them, the clicking noise grew louder as a four-legged creature with probing antennae came towards them from around the stalagmite wall.

Rust MonsterNew

Jana quickly laid waste to the goblinoid that had just become visible.  At the same time, Tanin rushed over to the cave-in and began moving rocks to open up the passageway.  Belladore placed her torch down the eastern branching corridor to keep watch for other creatures heading their way given the noise of the cave-in.  She also lit a new torch and placed it in the northern corridor.  To her horror, she saw moving sluggishly in her direction what appeared to be a wall of gelatinous slime!

Meanwhile Velnius, Xerbo, and Kulo were trapped with a creature that seemed to be attracted to the metal on their bodies.  With no torches or other sources of light, Kulo was essentially blind in this room.  Velnius was able to see with darkvision and directed Kulo away from the creature to the back wall of the room.  He then engaged the creature in melee combat.  Xerbo, his trusted animal companion, stayed by his side and also lunged for the ferrous-eating monster.

As Jana and Tanin continued to clear rocks, all the while nervously looking over their shoulders at the gelatinous cube slowly lurching towards them, Belladore took off down the eastern corridor.  She picked up the burning torch she had placed on the floor. The corridor reached a bend to the north with a very narrow corridor blocked by rubble branching off to the south.  Belladore followed the corridor north.  The corridor gained elevation practically every 5 feet, almost like a series of steps.  Belladore noticed the passageway was remarkably clean and smooth as if the floor had been essentially scraped clean.

The corridor doubled back west and then south.  Belladore found herself on the other side of the gelatinous cube.  It had engulfed the other torch left on the floor, plunging Jana and Tanin in darkness.  Tanin could still see, but Jana now only had the faint glow of Belladore’s torch from the other side of the gelatinous cube.  The glow only added to it’s eerie presence since it illuminated the cube revealing the decomposing remains of a goblin within.  The cube lurched again towards them.  Jana and Tanin picked up their pace in helping to clear the rocks.  Belladore’s movement towards the gelatinous cube appeared to be sensed by the ooze.  It changed course and now slithered in her direction!

Belladore threw a dagger into the cube’s membrane and then took off down the corridor north and then east.  The cube followed in her direction.  Back in the trapped cavern, Velnius and Xerbo had wounded the rust monster, but it’s hungry tentacles had damaged Xerbo’s barding and Velnius’s sword.  Not wanting to take the time to rummage through his pack to grab and light a torch, Kulo took a blind shot with his crossbow at the rust-eating beast.

Between Kulo’s haphazard crossbow shots and Velnius and Xerbo’s melee attacks, the rust monster was killed.  Kulo and Velnius scrambled to their side of the cave-in and began tossing rocks out of the way.

Belladore circled back to the cave-in and saw that Jana and Tanin had opened up enough of a gap for Velnius, Xerbo, and Kulo to crawl through.  The light of her torch revealed that the gelatinous cube and changed its direction and now was heading back down the northern corridor.  The party unloaded ranged attacks as the ooze slowly glided towards them.

As the party continued launching arrows and bolts into the ooze, Belladore decided to go explore the narrow opening to the south.  It wasn’t hard to move the rocks that blocked the path.  Looking down the corridor, she could see that the corridor opened to a larger room about 30 feet away.  Twenty feet in front of her sat a stalagmite.  Belladore proceeded to explore the corridor and room, but as she reached the stalagmite, it appeared to awaken before her eyes.  To her horror, a single eye blinked open and looked at her.  A sticky tendril emerged from the awful monster and grabbed hold of her.  The monster’s slavering mouth gaped open ready for the sweet treat of halfling meat.

BelladoreExplore2

The party heard Belladore’s cry as she was snagged by the roper.  Gritting their teeth they let fly a number of arrows and bolts into the cube, which had moved to within 15 feet of them.  Kulo broke off from the group and ran down the corridor towards Belladore.  Tanin, Velnius, and Jana unleashed a final volley of missiles at the ooze.  The final bolt punctured its membrane and the gelatinous cube lost its cohesion, oozing in every direction into a sickly gelatinous mess that covered the floor and the lower part of the walls on either side.

Kulo reached the tight corridor where Belladore left her torch.  Looking beyond the pile of rocks around the entranceway he saw, with horror, Belladore in the grip of one of the living stalagmite’s rope-like tendrils.  Kulo launched a bolt into the monster’s slavering maw.  The hit seemed to distract the creature and Belladore, despite her slight strength, managed to peel herself away from the grasping tendril.  She ran fleeing past Kulo.

The roper shot out a tendril that encircled Kulo and reeled him in to its ghastly mouth, the many incisors looked as if its bite would stab a hundred daggers into the flesh of its unfortunate victim.  Kulo was helpless.  The tendril pulled him into the gaping maw.  Belladore watched, her eyes transfixed on the grisly scene as the rows of sharp teeth rent Kulo’s torso.  Fortunately for Kulo he immediately lost consciousness.

Tanin made it down to the narrow corridor in time to watch Kulo bitten almost in half!  Tanin cast healing word on Kulo, reviving him to witness the horror of his situation.  Velnius and Jana both made their way to the corridor and unleashed crossbow and bow shots, respectively, into the awful monstrosity.  Xerbo and Belladore moved up to engage the cave roper.  Before Kulo had time to even consider his options and as the searing pain pierced his recent consciousness, the dagger-like teeth chomped down again ending his screams of terror.  Kulo fell unconscious again.  Tendrils shot out against the party.  Most avoided its clutches, but Velnius was pulled forward towards the roper.  He dropped his crossbow and unsheathed his short sword.

Jana dropped her bow and grabbing her glaive she had propped against the cave wall charged at the monster.  Once again Tanin cast healing word on Kulo bringing him back from the brink of death.  Belladore stabbed at the roper and Xerbo sunk his teeth into its rocky hide, twisting and tearing at the monster.  Jana’s glaive cut through the tendril holding Kulo, dropping him to the ground.  Tanin moved up and engaged the roper with his scimitar, the Blade of Dark Deeds.  At this moment a number of the corrupted goblinoid creatures appeared from deeper in the cavern opening behind the roper.  They started chucking heavy rocks at the party.

Tendrils shot out again, one enveloping Tanin and another grabbing one of the goblinoids.  Blows rained down on the slavering monster from all in the party finally killing it!

The goblinoids seemed distraught at the death of the roper, but fought on with hurled rocks and sharp claws.  But they were no match for the party.  One by one they fell to the blade.

Around the bend, Tanin, Belladore, and Velnius found a strange site.  On top of a large rock in the center of the room, rested a single bone.  From the patterns of dirt and dust on the floor, it appeared as if the goblinoids had regularly sat or kneeled in regular placements around the stone as if in worship to this bone.  On closer inspection, Tanin found the bone to be a single vertebra from some type of humanoid.  Picking it up, he could tell immediately it was suffused with magical energy.  Once attuned, Tanin would learn the vertebra granted the possessor of the bone the ability to cast invisibility once per day.

Magic Vertebra

Belladore and Velnius advanced to 4th level.


(Full Disclosure: Some of the following links will take you to drivethrurpg.com where I participate in the affiliate program.  Any purchases through these links provides me with a credit at One Book Shelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, DMsGuild, etc.).  Your support is appreciated.)

Cavern Tiles: Fat Dragon Caverns 1 and Fat Dragon Caverns 2

Gelatinous Cube Paper Miniature: Fat Dragon E-Z Dungeons: Expansion 11

Stalagmites: Fat Dragon Mines of the Mountain King

Rust Monster: Mayhem in Paper/One Monk Dungeon Monsters

Cave Roper: Printable Heroes

Original Art of Vertebra: Jody Monochrome

 

 

Session 9: Caverns of Calamity Part II

Caverns Full

(This adventure was run in January 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure continues immediately after Session 8: Caverns of Calamity Part I).

Having completed their mission for coming to these dastardly caverns, the party was now free to finish exploring what else lurked within these dark bends and twists.  Jana’s regular intense bearing seemed to dissolve into a calmer repose, yet no one in the party would doubt her lethality, especially with her giant glaive.  Tanin asked her what she would do now that Dragomir was dead.  She said for the time being she would be willing to follow wherever the party led.

Turning back from whence they came, the party now realized they had a group of rescued prisoners they needed to take care of.  Asking what they knew of the caverns, the prisoners said they only knew of the spurs of the cavern system that the party had already explored.  They only saw goblins and hobgoblins from the time they were captured until their recent release.  Velnius agreed to escort the prisoners back to the cave entrance and guard them near the horses until the party had finished exploring the caverns.  One of the prisoners, Knack, asked to join the party in exploring the rest of the caverns.  He explained to the party that he was a wizard and could help assist the party in facing any dangers further throughout the caverns.

The party headed back towards the central cavern that branched towards all four cardinal directions after Velnius had escorted the former prisoners away.  The party decided to drag the cage behind them to block their rear in case any foul beasts were planning on flanking them.  The cage ended up getting lodged as the corridor narrowed.

As the party reached the central cavern, a group of eight goblins attempted to surprise the party with an ambush.  Unleashing arrows on the party, archers took up areas of cover behind walls where corridors branched from the main room.  Beefier goblins armed with spears moved up to engage the party in melee.  As the battle raged, a goblin shaman appeared from behind a wall and murmured something in an arcane tongue as he lit something he was holding in his hand with a taper.  Instantly, Xrax’s plate mail turned red hot and he cooked within.

The party hacked at the goblins, reducing their number.  Xrax continued to bash heads with his maul despite the scorching pain he was enduring.  Kulo moved up to get a shot on the shaman who was still hiding behind the corridor wall.  He successfully hit the shaman causing him to lose concentration on the spell and giving Xrax some relief from the burning he endured.  Two goblin archers seeing the tide of the battle had turned bolted for the corridor leading out of the caverns.  The party decided not to pursue, instead focusing on the shaman who had now retreated to his lair.  As the party entered the cavern room, four giant rats, companions of the shaman, attacked.  The shaman unleashed a thunderous clap against the party members who were mostly in a straight line from the shaman.  But despite the mixed success of the spell, the party skewered the shaman and put the giant rats to the sword.

After searching through the goblins’ moldy bedding for loot, the party returned to the central branching cavern.  As they emerged into the room, a small goblinoid-like creature suddenly appeared out of thin air, picked up a rock from the floor, and chucked it at the nearest party member.  It sailed harmlessly over the head of Kulo.  The goblinoid laughed and then turned and ran down the southern corridor.

The party followed in pursuit.  The goblinoid jumped into a void 15 feet down the corridor.  The party came to a stop at the chasm.  Looking down they could no longer see the creature.  The chasm dropped about 40 feet down and looked to be an irregular stone floor like the rest of the cavern system they were exploring.  The remnants of a bridge jutted out into the void about 5 feet.  A corridor branched to the west and a second corridor continued south.  A stalagmite rose from the floor at the opening of the corridor to the west.

The party decided to finish exploring this floor of the cavern system before going to the lower level to find the creature that had thrown the rock at them.  Belladore, having knowledge of horrid creatures that look like stalagmites but were not, suggested to Kulo to shoot the stalagmite with his crossbow before the party head down that corridor.  Kulo’s crossbow bolt struck true and ricocheted off the stalagmite down the corridor.  The party feeling confident that this rock mound was just a stalagmite, threw a grappling hook around it and climbed over to the corridor from the broken bridge.  Kulo decided to stay and guard the rope so that no goblinoid creatures emerged to cut their rope.

Edging down the corridor as it bent sharply to the north and around to the east, the passageway became choked with thick cobwebs.  Xrax taking the lead became stuck in the webs.  His attempts to free himself from the sticky strands attracted the attention of the webs’ spinner: a giant spider emerged from the dark recesses of the ceiling to partake of the squirming meal below.

The spider bit at the restrained Xrax.  Most of the party still was behind the bend of the corridor.  Knack relayed what had happened to Xrax and then moved up to engage the spider.  The spider turned its attention on Knack.  A bite to Knack’s shoulder allowed the spider’s venom to course through his veins.  Knack keeled over dead!  Xrax, meanwhile, had extricated himself from the sticky web and dealt some blows with his maul against the spider.  Tanin, Belladore, and Jana moved up to kill the giant arachnid.  Kulo abandoned his guard post at the stalagmite to offer his crossbow in assistance.  As the attacks mounted, the spider’s eventual demise was merely a matter of time.  Whether bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing made up the final stroke, the giant spider died.

The party examined Knack more closely, his body showing the virulence of the spider’s poison.  Knack’s face was frozen in a rictus of pain.  The party dragged his body to the entryway of this spur of the cavern system near the stalagmite.  Looking at the grappling hook and rope, Kulo shook his head in disgust at finding the rope severed near where it was tied to the grappling hook.  Those little goblinoid creatures sure were a pest, he thought.

Caverns Part IInew

A couple of the party members carried the lifeless body of Knack back out of the caverns to where Velnius was guarding the horses and looking after the former captives.  The faces of the former captives looked crestfallen as they saw the slain body of their friend.  One of the former captives stepped forward and asked to join the party in further exploration of the caverns.  His name was Bao, a monk from the orient.

The party decided to explore the southern corridor next.  Using a different rope, they fastened the grappling hook to it and managed to lodge the hook into metal remnants of  the former bridge over the chasm.

Climbing over to the southern corridor, the party with torches ablaze, cautiously explored the length of the corridor.  Not wanting to make the same mistake they did before, Kulo retrieved the grappling hook and rope.  They marched nearly 50 feet before seeing a depression in the corridor about 20 feet in front of them.  The corridor turned to the east at this point as well.  Not seeing anything in the lower depression, the party continued around the bend to the west.  The corridor continued around to the north but ended in a deep chasm.  The gulf opened up into the sky–the party looking up could see the blue sky of day but it was a steep ascent.  Across the chasm was a small outcropping of stone about 15 feet long with a stalagmite at its closest edge.  A glint of metal could be seen on the landing.

Xrax landed a grappling hook around the stalagmite and began to climb over to the landing when a group of spear-beaks descended from the opening in the ceiling and began to attempt to feed on the party.  Tanin used his sleep spell to great effect again.  Four of the stirges plummeted down the chasm in a magical slumber.  The remaining three were easily sliced and diced by the party.

As the battle with the spear-beaks was coming to a close, Belladore suddenly found herself being attacked by an ooze.  The ochre jelly had followed the party as they had made their way down this corridor, waiting to attack when one of the party members was largely isolated.  Belladore happened to be hanging back as the party fought the stirges.  She cried out as a pseudopod bashed her.  The party came to her assistance once the spear-beaks were mostly slayed.  While it was a long, hard fight the party prevailed.

Climbing over to the landing, Xrax found that the glint of metal came from the old, rusted armor of the remains of a dried husk of a goblin, a victim of the spear-beaks’ blood-sucking feast.  The goblin body had just a few coins of copper, otherwise everything else was worthless.

The party decided they could use a short rest to patch up their wounds and prepare themselves for the final leg of the caverns.  They retraced their steps back to the depression which would give themselves a good defensive position should any wondering monsters come down the corridor.  As they prepared to relax, green slime fell from the ceiling onto Jana.  Luckily the party was able to assist her in scraping it off, but it’s acidic touch damaged her breast plate so as to be unusable.


Terrain and Giant Spider Webs: Fat Dragon Games

Giant Spider: Printable Heroes

Crafted Torches: DM’s Craft

 

Session 8: Caverns of Calamity Part I

Caverns 1new

(Note: This adventure was run in January 2017.  In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place the day after Session 7: Drow Spider Caves).

Searching Tasha’s corpse after felling her in a dramatic chase outside the Drow spider caves, Belladore found an interesting book.  The book appeared to have information about many of the merchant-nobles and members of the different thieves’ guilds in Cyr.  After burying the doppelganger in the woods, the party made their way back to Edgewood.  Along the way, Belladore persuaded Erik, the woodsman, to foster the children, Tommen and Flower.  He was happy to take the kids in and teach them hunting and trapping skills.

Returning to the Axe and Saw Inn by the evening, Belladore, Xrax, and Velnius relayed their adventure to the bleary-eyed crew of Kulo, Jana, and Tanin.  Jana was still in high spirits despite the lingering effects of her hangover.  When Belladore mentioned the rescue of Tommen and Flower from the clutches of the goblinoids, Jana’s demeanor changed abruptly, becoming very serious and sober.  Jana asked if they found out who the goblins were working for.  Belladore told her what they had learned from the goblin captive.  When Belladore mentioned the name of Dragomir, the leader named by the goblin prisoner, Jana’s eyes widened and she slammed her fist hard against the table.  The impact was so loud that Kulo jumped at the sound.

Jana looked serious and implored the party to join her on her quest to find the goblin caverns she and her group had been looking for when they were ambushed by the orcs almost two weeks ago.  She told the party how she knew this Dragomir, a hobgoblin.  When she was a child, Jana’s village was raided by goblins.  Her family and most of the village adults were slayed.  The goblins decided not to kill her outright.  Instead, they threw her in a circle formed by the jeering crowd of their fellow goblins.  As they hooted and hollered, a rat master appeared on the side of the circle and opened a cage containing a giant rat.  Whispering some words of encouragement to the rat, the goblin released him towards the child, Jana.  She froze in fear as the rat scurried towards her.  She tried to run away but was pushed back by the crowd of goblins.  When she fell to the ground, the giant rat attacked, sinking its teeth into her arm.  The pain was intense.  In a blur of rage, Jana grabbed the giant rat and bit its neck, biting down as hard as she could until she tasted blood flowing down her chin.  She stood up and threw the dead rat at the feet of the rat master.  The crowd of goblins silenced, then the jeers and boos picked up and they signaled to the rat master.  He brought forth two giant rats this time as the goblins cheered.  This time Jana didn’t hesitate.  She grabbed the nearest rock and lunged at the just-released giant rats.  They squeaked in terror . . .

The goblins didn’t kill her.  The leader of the band, Dragomir, took her down south to the fighting pits of Yor.  There she became a gladiator.  She was sold to a slave master who brought her around the various arenas where she became a champion.  On one excursion to a distant arena, Jana killed her master and all his guards, using the one token Dragomir left her–a hobgoblin glaive that became her signature weapon in the fighting pits.  She now wanted more than anything to gain her vengeance for her family, people, and her own life against the hobgoblin bastard!

The party agreed to find the caverns and root out Dragomir.  After a night’s rest, the party departed south from Edgewood to the Hammer Fall Mountains.  The first day’s travel was uneventful, peaceful even.  Jana appeared grim the whole day, speaking little.  As they approached the mountains the second day, the party heard a magnificent cry from some large bird of prey overhead.  Crashing into Tanin’s horse a griffon attacked, lured by the succulent meat of his steed.  The force of the griffon’s assault threw Tanin from his horse.  The party reeled in their horses and set themselves for defensive positions against the griffon.  There was some talk among the party members–they were clearly reluctant to kill such a magnificent beast but the griffon attacked Tanin’s horse hungrily.  With a number of salvos, the party fended off the griffon.  Tanin’s horse bled freely from several deep wounds from the griffon’s talons.  As the griffon flew away, Kulo and Velnius brought it down with two crossbow bolts, deciding to avoid having the griffon attack again while they were in the mountains.

Griffon3

After the brief fight with the griffon, the party continued onward led by Jana.  Nearing the entrance to the caverns, the party dismounted from their horses and crept to within viewing distance of the entrance.  The cavern entrance was at least 40 feet up the mountain cliff.  The party waited to see how heavily guarded the entrance would be.  Over several hours, two goblin guards were exchanged by different goblin guards.  Kulo, Velnius, and Jana sneaked up within range and dispatched the two goblins with  crossbow and longbow shots.  The party found a good place to tie off the horses and proceeded to the cavern entrance.

Cavern Entrance3

The party made its way cautiously up the cliff face following a worn path that snaked up to the entrance of the cavern.  Listening at the entrance, the party could hear goblin voices just within.  The goblins seemed preoccupied, bickering over a game of dice.  The party rushed in catching the goblins by surprise.  Tanin and Velnius, aided by their darkvision, took out both goblins, leaving one unconscious to interrogate.  The captured goblin, once revived, revealed that there were many of his kind in the caverns, more than he had fingers and toes.  Tanin pressed him further for information.  He did mention his boss Dragomir and two other hobgoblin guards.  The party stripped him of his weapons and released him, threatening him that they would find him if he ever harmed the good people traveling along the Cyrian road.

The light from the entrance diminished considerably this short distance in the cave so Xrax lit a torch.  The party could see the cave continued for a short distance before splitting in half around a rock wall.  Moving cautiously forward, the party scanned the walls and ceiling for danger.  Passing beyond the split in the corridor, two giant rats sprung from the darkness and attacked Xrax.  As Xrax bashed their heads in with his maul, barking from up ahead grabbed the party’s attention.

The worg was chained to the wall in a crevice.  Nearby four goblins played dice on top of a crate.  They grabbed their weapons and charged forward.  Before they could get very far, Tanin cast sleep causing three of the goblins to fall to the ground in a deep slumber.  Velnius moved up and hacked at the worg.  The final goblin was slayed.

Worg and Goblins3

After looting the goblins, the party moved on turning a sharp corner that brought them to a rickety bridge over a deep, dark chasm.  The bridge was poorly made and seemed doubtful it could hold much weight.  Tanin flipped a copper piece into the chasm and the coin struck the side of the gaping hole a couple times before disappearing into the gulf.  They never heard it strike the bottom!  On two rocky outcrops about 10 feet from the bridge grew red, glowing mushrooms.  Belladore ventured onto the bridge.  It held her weight just fine despite creaking ominously in a few places.  The rest of the party crossed one by one making it to the other side of the bridge unscathed.  The bridge shifted and creaked the worst for mighty Xrax in his plate mail armor, but it held.  Xrax came close to losing his balance and falling into the gulf in a brief moment of terror.

The cave snaked around a bend before opening up into a large multi-leveled cavern with three exits.  Eight goblins that seemed to be roused and on the hunt for the noise that was coming from the last fight sprung into battle against the emerging party members.  Tanin, once again, changed the dynamics of combat with a sleep spell that immediately sent five of the goblins to their slumber.  The remaining three goblins, two that were burlier than the rest, tried to stand their ground but were quickly eviscerated.

The party quickly examined each of the branching corridors from the cavern they just fought from.  The corridor to the south continued for 15 feet before ending in a chasm to depths unknown.  A stalagmite rose from the floor right before the chasm.  The chasm spanned about 25 feet with a corridor continuing after the gulf.  A branching corridor to the west of the chasm could also be discerned with a stalagmite again rising from the floor right in front of the chasm.  Returning to the larger multi-leveled cavern, the party next investigated the corridor to the west.  After moving 10 feet down the corridor the party members could see two mounds on the floor at a bend in the corridor.  The party pulled back to the room that branched off in all four cardinal directions and decided to head down the corridor to the east.

Heading down the corridor, the party could make out metal bars of what appeared to be a cage near the far wall.  Some movement could be seen within.  The party continued down the corridor.  In a small side spur, a goblin lashed out with his spear.  The party took him on.  As they began to fight the first goblin a second one emerged from next to the cage.  As the short fight continued, loud barking began from the bend of the corridor to the south.  The party skewered and smashed the goblin guards and turned their attention to the barking and growling worgs.  They were chained to the wall but with enough length to reach the party and block their access to the part of the corridor they were housed.  Despite some nasty bites, the party slayed the two worgs and put an end to their racket that surely must have alerted anyone further within this part of the cavern system.  Belladore spoke with the captives inside the cage, a disheveled group of adult humans, telling them not to fear.  They were about to be rescued.

Worgs2

Belladore picked the lock of the cage, releasing the prisoners but suggested they wait in that part of the corridor while they finished investigating the branch of the cave.  The party continued down the corridor cautiously knowing that anything down that way would surely be aware of their presence due to the barking of the worgs.

The cave rose in elevation by 15 feet entering the final chamber of this spur.  Behind a column of stalagmites, the party viewed their final prey: a goblin, two hobgoblin guards, and their apparent captain.  As soon as Jana saw the captain, she screamed his name in anguish tinged with the sharp edge of vengeance.  “Dragomir!”  The captain inspected her and her glaive before the look of recognition crossed his face.  A smile crossed his lips as he said, “Look what you’ve become, little one.  I made you a champion.  You have a place by my side as my co-captain.  Help me slaughter these foolish adventurers.”

Jana looked at her companions and back again to the hobgoblin captain.  Her grip tightened on her glaive and with a look of grim determination she strode forward and joined into battle with the nearest hobgoblin guard.  Her mighty swing of the glaive had the intent of cleaving through the guard so that she would have an opening to Dragomir.  Her companions, her friends, came to her side to help her fulfill her quest for revenge.  The battle was intense.  The lone goblin fell quickly.  The hobgoblin guards shortly thereafter.  It was only a matter of time before Dragomir succumbed.  His dual blades whirled and sliced the party, but finally the killing blow was dealt by none other than Jana with her hobgoblin glaive.   The look of surprise intermingled with relief filled her face and Jana dropped to her knees, emotions overwhelming her sense of being.

Dragomir2


Cavern Terrain, Cliffs, and Cage: Fat Dragon Games

Goblins and Hobgoblins: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper Miniatures and Printable Heroes

Griffon: Sanity Studios Miniatures

Worgs: Brave Adventures Miniatures

Hobgoblin Captain: Kev’s Lounge/Papercraft Dungeon

Crafted Torches: DM’s Craft