Out of the Frying Pan… (9th July 2014)
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter (NPC)
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic - Fighter
Vox – Magic User
Dungeon Level 1 (amended) - Courtesy of TSR/WotC
The Prison Complex - Tirsday 23rd Hextember (day 84) – early evening
The rustle and bustle of the adventurers searching through the junk in the bugbears’ common room annoyed Maximillian as he carried out his quiet search for secret doors and hidden treasures. Finally, after several minutes, the crashing around halted and the party fell to discussing what to do next over a quick evening meal. The party were split as to whether to descend the stairs to the next level or to carry on exploring what was left of the level of the dungeon they were on.
Whilst the discussion became more heated, Maximillian found what he was looking for; a secret door in the western wall of the guard room and its release catch nearby. He popped the catch and the door opened. He peered into the darkness beyond and just made out in the gloom that there was a short corridor with a door at the end that beckoned him onwards.
He relayed what he could see to the rest of his companions and this finally made their minds up as to what to do next. The party decided to explore the corridor beyond the secret door now that it was opened and upon reaching its far end Theoderic kicked open the door.
Inside the darkness of the small cubicle beyond the door, lying upon the dirty straw, were three corpses. As soon as Theoderic entered the room the limbs began to stir and the undead abominations rose up from the floor and attacked the party with their dirty claws. The two fighters at the front, Theoderic and Bow, managed to strike the slow moving beings before Johan stepped into the doorway and destroyed them all by calling upon the power of Balder.
After the three zombies were destroyed by divine power the party passed through the front door of the cell and explored the rest of the prison cells in the corridor that led both north and south, whilst Bow scouted the ends of the corridor itself. Within the confines of two of the cells on the eastern wall of the corridor there were more of the grey ooze covered undead which Johan attempted to destroy, but one zombie was able to avoid the power that emanated from the priest’s holy symbol. The party decided that rather than run the risk of becoming infected with the ooze they would leave that cell well alone.
Whilst Johan dealt with the undead, the rest of the party checked out the rest of the cells. Two of them were empty but the middle one along the western wall of the corridor contained a living person. After a short bout of questioning they discovered that the prisoner was an adventurer named Wonillon. He had been captured by the Temple guards and thrown into the cell to await an unknown fate. All he wanted to do was escape and make his way home. The party gave him directions to the way out and their cache of arms and armour taken from the dead Temple guards.
After Wonillon had left, the party explored the prison cells further. They found that at the back of each cell on the eastern side of the corridor, like the first one they entered via the secret passageway, was a stout wooden door that led onto an unused corridor; unused that is except for a solitary set of footprints that led behind a dusty curtain and back out again. Beyond the curtain was an old store room with piles of old clothes, rags and broken barrels, and bits of furniture. They managed to find a set of what looked like adventurer’s clothing and weaponry and surmised it must have belonged to Wonillon. A locked iron casket hidden amongst the old clothing drew their attention, so Maximillian picked it up and sprung the lock open. He emptied out the contents which consisted of three pouches of coins and a small wooden box.
Vox cast a Detect Magic spell over the haul and discovered that a dagger found with the adventurer’s clothing was magical and so were two potions contained within the wooden box. The treasures were divided up and the party returned to the main corridor again and headed directly south.
They passed the western corridor on their way to the far end of the corridor, but left one of their number to guard the passage, and then entered the room at the end of the corridor behind the final door. They descended the steps into a chamber filled with all sorts of torture equipment. Barely conscious a man on a rack in the centre of the room attempted to avert his eyes from the glow of the torches and lanterns that the adventurers carried with them.
Within the chamber were two further prison cells, this time the walls were floor-to-ceiling bars rather than stone walls and stout wooden doors. Within these two cells were four more ill-kempt prisoners; two men and two women from a variety of merchant caravans that had been raided, who moved to the bars and began wailing for the adventurers to rescue them.
Johan swiftly administered aid to the stricken man on the rack and the other four prisoners. He found out, from questioning them, that they had been left maybe a day or so ago by the turnkey and his massive, hairy accomplice from the netherworlds. They were hungry and thirsty but otherwise OK. The party handed out some of their spare food and drink rations to the prisoners to alleviate their pangs, whilst the man-at-arms on the rack was gifted with two healing orisons from Johan and then he was told the way out. He said he would lead the surviving prisoners out and bring help, at which point Vox offered him a pouch of gold to hire mercenaries to join them here as soon as possible. The man-at-arms promised he would return in a day or two with some hired help.
They got little more information from the prisoners other than that there were several others with them who were tortured in turn and then disappeared never to be seen again. The party decided not to tell them of their fate as zombies, but gave them directions to the bugbear weapons cache and then the prisoners fled the dungeon.
The Spiral Staircase
The party saw that there was nothing of value in the room except maybe the keys to the cells, but Bow decided they would not be needed now. They left the torture chamber and headed back to the western corridor. They cautiously advanced along it and after a relatively long walk in the darkness they found a spiral staircase at the end that led down to the next level of the underground complex. They adjusted their weapons and shields and descended to the second level of the dungeon.
Dungeon Level 2 (amended) - Courtesy of TSR/WotC
The party wound their way down the steep spiral stairway until it levelled out maybe thirty or forty feet below the level above. They were greeted at the bottom with the choice of whether to turn south-east or south-west. They decided to head along the south-eastern corridor which then turned eastwards after maybe twenty feet. They open the first door they encountered along the wall and Johan strolled straight in. It was quiet within and full of junk with a heavy curtain in the south-east corner. Johan explored the room but found nothing of interest or of value, so he approached the curtain in the south-eastern corner as he thought there may be a door or cubby hole beyond it. As he moved to within a few feet, he was shot at by a crossbow bolt.
The rest of the party had begun to move in slowly as they discussed with Bow as to whether they should secure the room first or advance to the end of the corridor in case anything lay in ambush for them beyond. When the crossbow sang, most of the party charged in expecting a fight but the door behind the curtain was too solid for them to break down (as was the speak-easy style spy hole in it) – Bow tried to prise open the speak-easy window with a broken wooden chair leg to no effect. It would take a battering ram to get the door to buckle.
Now that the party were aware that they had been noticed the fighters set up guard outside the room and Max rushed to set up a fire trap in the western approach corridor. Johan, added to the trap by setting a Glyph of Warding too. Bow and Tarquin advanced from their position at the door mouth and explored the eastern corridor. At the end was a T-junction that led north and south. They just about made out from the dim light cast by their lanterns that there was a door at the northern end but they decided to advance down the southern branch of the corridor to see what was in store down there.
As the rest of the party prepared the traps in the corridor and searched the store room for a way to open the heavy door they heard the tramp of many booted feet. Bow heard the alarmed cries of the party and returned to aid them whilst Tarquin used his time to search the walls of the south leading corridor for a secret door; expecting to find one that led into the room beyond the guard door in the room they had just left and thus present the party with an opportunity to strike back at their hidden assailant.
The first Temple guards that rounded the corner dropped to their knees and opened fire with their crossbows at those who were visible. These shafts caused no injuries to the party but rather than wait for another volley, Theoderic and Cormac backed up whilst Johan cast a Hold spell at the leader. The guards, however, were unperturbed by the use of divine magic and advanced upon the party, firing their crossbows as they came. The party slowly retreated under the onslaught of bolts, but after a few more ineffectual volleys the Temple guards dropped their crossbows, drew their swords and charged down the corridor. They set off both Max’s fire trap and Johan’s Glyph of Warding which reduced their numbers and when they meet Theoderic and Cormac in combat, their numbers were reduced further.
The death of the front rank of guards made room for the support to come through; a bull-headed creature the size of an ogre. Johan’s memory served him well as he recognised the beast from the grimoires he had read back in High Beeches; it was a creature from the Abyss – a Minotaur.
The Water Trap
Whilst the combat with the bull-headed ogre was being fought, Max and Vox positioned themselves to guard the eastern end of the corridor with Bow. Tarquin advanced down the southern corridor and opened the door at the far end to make sure that there was nothing dangerous that could hit the party in the rear whilst they fought the guards in the corridor. He entered the room with his torch held high and advanced a few paces until the floor began to slope down towards a dimly reflected pool. The weak rays from his torch only showed him the pool at the end of the room but not much more than that, so he stepped onto the algae covered slope for a closer look. As soon as his boots hit the very slippery coating on the sloping flagstones, they failed to find any purchase. He began to accelerate down the slope towards the pool and so he called out for help. Max heard him but by the time he advanced far enough to see what was ailing the fighter, all he saw were Tarquin’s arms flailing away as he slid down from view and then his subsequent drop over the edge of the pool. Tarquin’s torch was extinguished as soon as he hit the water, which plunged the chamber into darkness.
Max sprinted down the corridor after he heard the resultant splash in order to try to help his comrade, uncoiling his climbing rope as he ran. Tarquin sank like a stone in his heavy armour and hit the bottom of the pool which was at least twice as deep as he was tall.
Vox heard what had happened from Bow who saw it all happen in slow motion from his vantage point at the junction of the corridors and drank his Potion of Polymorph. Max tied off his rope under the door and threw it towards his companion in the pool but it was a bit too short to reach further than a few feet over the lip. Bow moved along the main southward leading corridor to guard the side corridor against further Temple reinforcements whilst he let his rogue companion deal with the trouble Tarquin had got himself into.
Tarquin, meanwhile, rapidly ran out of air but as he had dropped his shield on his slide into the pool he somehow had the forethought to cast about for treasure and a sluice that might be openable to drain out the water now that he had two hands free. He found a drain cover in the floor of the pool but it was not something he could open or pull up. However, by sheer luck he did fumble his way to finding an old shield on the floor of the pool which he slung upon his back for later use if he did not find his dropped one when he got out of his predicament. Unfortunately, the fates were less optimistic about his chances of surviving more than a couple of minutes under water, and after a few more seconds he passed out.
A few seconds after he had downed his potion Vox was polymorphed into a small bird and he sped down the corridor at full flight. Max spotted the bird fly above him and gave it a puzzled glance but then his stare turned to looks of absolute incredulity when the bird turned into a giant frog and plunged into the pool.
Vox, as a giant frog, was able to grab hold of Tarquin and drag him to the surface but he noticed that he was not breathing – his lungs must have filled with water by now. He managed to pull Tarquin out of the pool by means of grabbing hold of the end of Maximillian’s rope, and then between him and Max they succeeded in dragging the water laden fighter out of the danger zone and onto the flat.
Vox and Maximilian managed to get Tarquin onto his back and poured a Potion of Water Breathing into his mouth; the fighter began to breathe through the water in his lungs and this stabilised him whilst they awaited the arrival of Johan to check him over. Bow, who was watching the corridor, yelled that Temple reinforcements had arrived and he advanced to meet the guards to give the rest of the party time to get Tarquin back to health if possible. The sheer weight of numbers of the Temple guards meant he could not hold them for long, but he managed to put down a couple of overeager guardsmen when they dropped their defensive stances sufficiently. He fought a slowly retreating battle but the numbers of the enemy were many; then he noticed that they were supported by bugbears and gnolls to the rear.
Surrounded - evening
The fight against the Minotaur and the few remaining Temple guards in the western corridor fight was rapidly tipping in the party’s favour, so Johan left Theo and Cormac to finish off their adversaries. The cleric quickly drank a Potion of Speed to enable him to act more quickly to aid his companions. He needed to get Tarquin back on his feet before Bow, vastly outnumbered at the far end of the southern corridor, was overcome by enemies thus making Vox and Max vulnerable targets whilst they tried to revive the fighter.