Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Greyhawk Session #5

This was an oddly disjointed session... The beginning was spent with housekeeping and following up some of the hanging threads regarding the activities of the cult of Wastri, and then the party decided to spend the rest of the evening tooling around Level 1 of the dungeons of the Mad Archmage, and even then events conspired to bifurcate the dungeon exploration portion of the evening. Mighty Titans Hobbies And Games was, as usual, an outstanding local to play. (Although I have got to stop getting food from the pizzeria next door... ugh.)

Present were Ehrandar Dawngreeter, the elf mountebank, Nalania the cleric of Rudd, Jhocamo the dwarf fighter (now with namey goodness!), Mongo the half-orc fighter, and Sorfindel the "scout". I should once more sing the praises of Rob, one of the players, who gifted me with a half-dozen old Avalon Hill and TSR board wargames to add to the ever-regrowing collection! Thanks again, Rob. He also brought a few of his primed 15mm Old Glory figures, which already look better than my supposedly complete ones.

The night began with city guard Captain Vordalon awaiting the party after their return from the ruins, quite peeved about the lack of anything of interest at the warehouse to which the party directed him as possibly being connected with the string of murders connected to the golden frog. There was apparently nothing in the warehouse but wares... The good captain left in a snit, clearly annoyed with the party, and possibly suspecting them of holding out information.

Sorfindel attempted to poke around in the shop of the now-dead jeweler who had purchased the golden frog from the party, but unfortunately he was foiled by bars on the windows and a recalcitrant door. Later, Ehrandar used his contacts with the Beggar's Union to get an introduction to the Thieves' Guild, which presented its terms for working within the city, which would possibly lead to full membership, once his skills were properly evaluated.

With that, the party departed for the ruins of the Castle of the Mad Archmage, descending down the great spiral staircase in the central keep. Stopping on the first level (although the stairs themselves continued to descend), the party found themselves in a large frescoed hall. One panel had images of the gods of the Oeridian pantheon, each with their eyes gouged out. Another had a vast herd of horses, over which was scrawled "Cardefal died here pulling on a lever. Beware!" Still another showed an underwater scene; a battle between beings with legs like fish, and on the other side sharks led by scaled humanoids with gills and crests. The final scene was the oddest; it showed images of each of the faces of the party members, but the fresco itself was worn and faded with age. The dwarf, Jhocamo, chipped away one of the tesserae and kept it.

The party then left the chamber, and, having negotiated an open pit, found themselves in a chamber with a large pile of trash. Inspecting the pile disturbed a number of giant centipedes, who swarmed over the party with great speed. The dwarf was bitten more than once and survived, but alas Nalania fell to the creatures' venom, and went to visit Rudd in person. The party had suffered their first casualty.

Somewhat deflated, the party returned to town, bearing the body of the cleric, which was returned to a shrine of Rudd (her patron deity) for proper interment. Most of the party made donations of platinum to the shrine in memoriam. Val, who was playing the slain cleric, promptly started rolling dice for a new character. Soon, she had a gnome bard (she will be play testing the new bard class from Adventures Dark and Deep™) named Vellis.

The party's spirits did not stay low for long, as a boisterous fellow dressed in green and yellow motley and bearing a marotte-- one Karo Ledbetter-- soon came looking for Ehrandar, making no secret of the fact that he was there to find out whether the Guild's offer was acceptable, and making a general fool of himself in the process. It was, and there was much rejoicing (including a brief dance upon a table). As he left, the jester flamboyantly tossed Ehrandara token that was, apparently, a credential to practice thievery within the city. Jhocamo and Mongo proceeded to drink to the memory of the dear departed cleric, and mutually collapsed after the fourth round of spirits.

The next morning, with their new-found gnome bard companion, the party returned to the dungeons. Investigating a lighted section of the halls, they came upon a couple of dwarven guards, who proceeded to take the party to the halls of Lord Bari Bloodaxe, who (with his lieutenant Hilding Ironhelm) offers explorers the opportunity to use the three gated stairways leading from the hall, which, they are assured, lead to sections of the dungeons that are positively dripping with treasure. The price is a simple 25% of all coins and gems recovered, plus they receive access to healing spells from dwarven clerics for a modest additional fee. Such a deal! Jhocamo, being of their kind, took the lead and seemed well-disposed towards the enterprising dwarves, but in the end the party decided to try on their own. They were wished well, and assured that, once they were done puttering around in the upper levels where all the treasure had already been looted, the deal would remain open to them.

The party explored more of the passages on the first level, but our time was up and we needed to call it a night. The death of the cleric naturally weighed on the group, and as I say the session seemed, at least to me, a bit disjointed; some frog-cult stuff, some thieves' guild stuff, and two separate expeditions to the dungeons. But I still had a lot of fun, and it seems to me that some of the plot threads that the party have been pulling on might just be coming loose...

Greyhawk Session #6

This time out we had a straight-out dungeon crawl session, much more focused than last time. The party is getting a feel for the realities of the dungeon itself; traps, often combined with deadly monsters, and seemingly random wacky stuff thrown in for inscrutable (at least for now) purposes.

Present were Ehrandar Dawngreeter, the elf mountebank, Mongo the half-orc fighter, Vellis the gnome bard, Theric the paladin of Pholtus, and Abo Thistlestrike the human magic-user. Once again, the player of Ehrandar gifted me with several old Avalon Hill games (Battle of the Bulge, Bismark, and Anzio, none of which I had previously owned) and a custom painted and based figure; one of the 15mm rangers he had purchased from Old Glory 15s (pictures to be forthcoming). Amazingly, the monsters seemed to avoid his character in combat... (just kidding!)

Wasting no time, the party returned to the first level of the dungeons, via the great spiral staircase found behind the large bronze doors in the central keep of the castle, and noted that not only did the gray hawk mark their entrance over the drawbridge (which continues to be "just a drawbridge"-- my scheme to lull them into a false sense of security is working perfectly) but the mosaic room was once more altered to show the faces of those who entered the dungeons this time.

They decided to strike east from the mosaic room (north had led them to the dwarves who guarded the entrances to deeper levels in the last session), and soon found a series of 10' x 10' rooms, which they designated the "maze of doors". The doors proved not only difficult to open (well, not so difficult for Mongo with his 18/83 strength, perhaps) but inclined to shut on their own behind them. They decided that they bore an insufficient supply of iron spikes with which to keep open the potential whole lotta doors, and retreated back to the room of mosaics.

Going west brought them to more corridors, and south led them straight into their first real trap. A loud *POP* accompanied a blinding flash. Literally. Four of the six party members were rendered blind by the flash of light, and Ehrandar and Abo soon heard sounds of rustling from one of the side corridors. An enormous snake could be seen approaching, and with most of the party still incapacitated from the blinding trap, it was up to the two of them to protect the rest. Abo laid a line of oil while Ehrandar hurled forth a barrage of daggers (mountebanks getting a bonus to their rate of fire with hurled weapons, as part of their prestidigitation ability). The bard struck up a tune of inspiration while Abo unfortunately flubbed setting the oil on fire, and Ehrandar struck the beast with a couple of daggers. It retaliated by sinking its fangs into his thigh, but the wound bled freely and the venom didn't take any toll. However, the bite itself was enough to make Ehrandar choose the better part of valor, and the still-blind Mongo took his place, trusting to his keen ears to guide his strokes.

Unfortunately, his ears weren't so keen, as he missed the snake on his first try and hit the mountebank instead! (Having heard its hissing, but not realizing that the head was at the time embedded in the elf's flesh.) The mage finally managed to pick up the torch and light the oil, while the snake got in another shot, this time on the half-orc. This time the venom found its mark, and the half-orc found himself incredibly weakened; down a point of strength and constitution. A few more hits were scored against the swift-moving snake, and it was finally taken down by the mage's magic missile spell. Blinded, poisoned, and battered, the party decided to retreat, but not before sending two of their less damaged companions to the dwarves. Alas, there was no cure blindness or neutralize poison to be had, but for a mere 1,500 g.p. they would be happy to supply such, if the party could but wait another day. They demurred, returning to the city.

Taking the time to rest and heal (the blindness disappeared after an hour and a half, and Mongo's weakness from the snake venom seemed to abate after a day), the party returned to the dungeons. They returned right back to the area of the blinding trap, this time exploring some side passages (after determining that the carcass of the snake was gone). They found a room, lit by some enchantment, with a number of rose bushes in large flowerpots, which they gave a cursory search and then decided to ignore. They also found another trap in a corridor, this time a shower of thick honey which coated all but the bard and the hireling, rendering their movement slower, their initiative penalized, and most of them incapable of letting go of small objects. Within a minute or two, two enormous flies accosted the party, presumably attracted by the honey. The flies inflicted pretty heinous damage on several members of the party before being forced to retreat. The party, now knocked down by both the snake yesterday and the flies today, decided to return once more to the city of Greyhawk, find a bathhouse, and recover from their explorations.

Four days later (aided by the healing touch of the paladin), the party was back up to full strength and willing to make another foray into the depths. However, when they awoke on the fourth day, each found a small terracotta frog in their rooms in the inn. Clearly the frog cult of Wastri the Hopping Prophet hadn't forgotten them. Most of the party members hurled the statuettes from their room or smashed them in the streets. The bard and Mongo kept theirs, however, bringing them into the dungeon with them.

This time the party struck north from the room of mosaics, heading into an area that had not been previously explored. One room contained a sloth of brown bears in a torchlit room, which the party immediately left alone, tossing in a packet of rations and closing the door. Further exploration uncovered a well appointed but mouldering sitting room, and an octagonal room with a pool in its center. Mongo tossed his terracotta frog statue into the liquid, to no reaction.

Alas, at that point the store was closing, so we had to wrap things up. One thing of note, however; all of the party members (save the bard, who still had her original) found another terracotta frog on their person that evening. Clearly something is afoot.