(Note: This adventure was run in December 2016. In terms of campaign time, this adventure took place the next day after Session 6: Grim Manor Part II).
The party celebrated their new heroic status in Edgewood that night after the eldritch implosion of Grim Manor. Many rounds were quaffed at the Axe and Saw Inn and many townsfolk praised the heroes. Jana was deep in her cups that night and she took a particular liking to Kulo, keeping him in a veritable headlock every time he tried to slink away from her. Not one to typically overindulge, with Jana’s insistent prodding Kulo was deeply inebriated. The party continued on late into the night . . .
The next morning, Velnius, Xrax, and Belladore had breakfast and discussed their plans for what they were going to do next. The wedding caravan they had agreed to serve as guards was still a couple of weeks away. Tanin, Kulo, and Jana were still sleeping off their drunks. Velnius, Xrax, and Belladore gossiped a little over seeing Kulo and Jana sharing a room last night.
As the party was chortling over Kulo’s ensnarement, a young woman ventured over to their table.
Stepping up to Xrax, she addressed the Heroes of Edgewood, “Good morn, great heroes. I beg your pardon for interrupting your meal, but I am in need of help.”
The party listened attentively and asked her to go on.
“My name is Tasha. My brother has recently ventured into some nearby caves thinking himself an adventurer. The fool. He hasn’t returned in several days and I fear for him. Would you please investigate? The townsfolk speak of your bravery in the Karpath Estate. The Heroes of Edgewood, people are calling you.”
Xrax asked, “Why would he seek out these caves?”
Tasha responded, “He believed they contained treasure. But who knows what foul things he found instead. Please, I beg of you, I need to find my brother. I can take you to the caves.”
Xrax, Belladore, Velnius with Xerbo agreed to investigate the caves. Tasha led the party south through the King’s Wood toward the edge of the Hammer Fall Mountain range. Shortly on their trek, they heard the cries of a man coming from the woods. Investigating cautiously, they came upon a man who was pinned underneath a large branch. On hearing the party, the man called to them to help release him from the tree. Xrax moved over and with his mighty strength moved the heavy limb from the man’s legs, freeing him. The woodsman introduced himself as Erik. He had been out hunting this morning. He climbed the tree to lie in wait for a deer but the limb he was on gave way and ended up on top of him in such a way that he couldn’t get leverage to lift it off of him.
The party told Erik of their intentions to investigate the caves Tasha had described. He’d never heard of them, but agreed to accompany them, partly out of curiosity and partly because of safety in numbers.
As they proceeded onward towards the caves, they heard gruff voices ahead of them. The party could discern the voices were goblinoid. Advancing stealthily, the party saw in a small opening ahead a group of goblins led by a hobgoblin. The goblins were leading two kids by rope, their hands bound each to the length of rope. The hobgoblin was barking orders to the goblins, keeping them in line. Some of the goblins eyed the children with hungry looks. All told there were seven goblins and the hobgoblin leader.
The party could not let the kids be taken off to slaughter or slavery, so they acted on their moral duty to rescue the children. Xrax charged forward ready to engage the goblins. Belladore crept around to the side of the goblins, flanking them. Velnius readied his crossbow for ranged attacks. Xerbo prepared to pounce.
The goblins moved forward to intercept the warrior Xrax as he broke through the underbrush at them. Despite taking the brunt of the attack, Xrax’s plate mail broke most of their attacks. In return he smashed their small skulls with his large maul. Meanwhile Belladore engaged the goblins closest to the children from the side. Velnius set about picking off goblins from a distance, as did Erik, the woodsman, with his bow. Xerbo jumped on the nearest goblin and ripped his throat out. Tasha, on the other hand, held back.
The goblins fell quickly. An archer tried to provide some return fire to Velnius but was soon laid waste. Two tougher goblins with spears joined with their hobgoblin leader to rally their final defense, but were no match for the party.
The cowering children were comforted by the party in the wake of the battle. The two children, Flower and Tommen, were abducted by the goblins after they raided their parent’s farmstead. They choked up on describing their parents deaths at the hands of the goblins.
The party managed to incapacitate one of the goblins and set about questioning him after he was revived. He told the party that the goblins were bringing the children back to Dragomir, their leader. Their lair was a series of caverns in the foothills of the mountains. The kids were to be sold into slavery. The party stripped the goblin of his weapons and freed him on agreement that he would no longer raid farmsteads. The party brought Tommen and Flower with them. They asked Erik if he would be willing to protect the children at the entrance of the cave while they investigated. He agreed.
After a few more hours travel, the party arrived at the opening of a cave that Tasha indicated was the cave her brother said he would explore. The opening was quite large but narrowed after about 10 feet. Xrax could not discern much beyond the first 10 feet of the cave opening as the darkness swallowed all sight. Velnius could see with his darkvision that the cave continued for an additional 45 feet before apparently turning.
The party entered the cave with trepidation. Belladore cast light on her short sword so that the party members without darkvision could see in the cave. Erik and the children waited at the cave entrance. Examining the floor for signs of passage, Belladore noticed a number of boot prints in and out of the cave. The party moved cautiously 20 feet down the cave passageway, noticing a spur off to the left. Up ahead, the cave turned sharply to the right. Along the walls, wisps of cobwebs swayed gently in the air circulating through the cave.
The party decided to examine the spur, not wanting something to stalk and attack them from behind. The spur opened up into an irregular room 25′ × 30′ at its widest. Against the back wall were thicker webs and what looked like large spider egg sacks. As the party moved forward to investigate the room a little more closely, movement along the irregular ceiling caught their attention. Descending from the ceiling, a giant spider with fangs dripping attacked! A short, but dangerous fight ensued. Luckily for the party no one was poisoned by the spider’s venomous bite.
As the party fought the giant spider, an egg sack within the spider’s web began to pulsate as a swarm of small spiders erupted from it’s center and attempted to envelope Xrax. The swarm was chopped and crushed in short order.
Returning back to the main cave, the party continued forward following the cave as it narrowed and turned to the right. Webs lined the walls and ceiling at this narrowed portion of the cave and as the party sliced their way through the web to proceed further in the cave, another giant spider descended from the ceiling and attacked! Another short battle ensued with the spider ultimately skewered in the end. In both of these short battles with the spiders, Tasha kept her distance and did not attack.
Squeezing single-file, through the narrow portion of the cave, the space increased significantly. The party entered a long cavern at least 60′ in length. Cobwebs filled the closest wall of the cave. Hanging within the webs were numerous egg sacks. On the floor underneath the webs was a desiccated husk of a body.
The party investigated the body with caution. A giant spider moved to intercept them as they got closer to the body. Xrax lit a torch and started lighting the webs on fire. As webs burned, one of the egg sacks burst and a swarm of spiders emerged scurrying towards Xrax. The party slayed the giant spider with little effort and squashed the spider swarm under boot. Tasha once again held back as the party fought the spiders.
Afterwards, the party motioned for Tasha to investigate the body to see if it was her brother. She moved forward with trepidation, a sorrowful look on her face. They turned the body over for her, but relief came over her face and she shook her head to say it wasn’t her brother.
The party moved towards the far wall of the cave. The cavern narrowed before opening to an irregularly shaped section of the room. This side of the cavern was thick with webs and again egg sacks could be seen throughout. Xrax, Velnius, and Xerbo moved forward to investigate. Xrax started lighting the webs on fire once again, but usually only portions of the webs would burn before the fire would smolder to embers. Belladore and Tasha held back.
As the webs were disturbed, two giant spiders emerged from the ceiling and pouring forth from the egg sacks were two swarms of spiders!
Velnius, Xerbo, and Xrax found themselves in the thick of battle. At one point, Xrax was restrained by a web shot by one of the spiders. But the brunt of the spider’s attacks fell on Xerbo, sustaining several bites, becoming poisoned, and falling unconscious. Velnius rallied to his mastiff’s defense lest Xerbo became spider food.
As this battle raged, Belladore held back about 20 feet casting spells to assist the front line. Tasha about 10 feet back from Belladore, suddenly sprung into action. Grabbing one of her daggers she threw it. The target wasn’t one of the spiders, however. Her aim was leveled at Belladore! The dagger flew wide. As Belladore spun around to confront her attacker, Tasha took off, running towards the entrance of the cave. Belladore followed in pursuit.
Meanwhile, Xrax, Xerbo, and Velnius had their hands full with the giant spiders and spider swarms. They finally put the last of the arachnids to the sword and heard Belladore call out for their attention. They too followed in pursuit.
Belladore threw one of her daggers and it struck true, injuring Tasha. But Tasha continued to flee the tunnel making gains on Belladore whose halfling legs just couldn’t keep up. Another dagger, another hit and Tasha suffered another wound. Tasha burst out of the cave opening heading for the safety of the nearby woods. Belladore followed shortly. Erik, the woodsman, looked perplexed as not one but two of his party came hurtling out of the cave. Belladore threw another dagger and again her aim was true. Tasha was bleeding badly at this point, but she put more distance between her and Belladore. The woods were beckoning. Tasha was sure to escape! But Belladore had one last chance. Throwing her last dagger, the Dagger of Venom, at long range, Belladore’s chances were low, but she wasn’t going to let Tasha escape easily. The Dagger of Venom, hurtled end over end and struck true! The final wound was a mortal one. Tasha collapsed to the ground. As Belladore caught up to her and caught her breath from the intense chase, she witnessed Tasha’s face dissolve into a smooth, indistinct form. Tasha was a doppelganger!
Back in the cave, just as Xrax, Velnius, and Xerbo were rounding the tight corner in the cave they saw a magical portal appear and a drow priestess and two drow warriors emerged. They looked distressed at the sight of all the slain spiders. Xrax, Velnius, and Xerbo fled the cave before being seen.
Paper terrain/map: Heroic Maps
Spider Swarm Paper Miniatures: from cowboyleland at Cardboard Warriors Forum
Hobgoblin Paper Miniature: One Monk/Mayhem in Paper
Flower and Tommen Children Paper Miniatures: Dryws Imperfect Creations
Tasha Paper Miniature: Brave Adventures
Magic Portal: Fat Dragon Games