Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Doggerland Session 8:40 (Dungeon Level 3)

…and into the Fire (23rd July 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic – Fighter (NPC)
Vox – Magic User
Temple Dungeon Level 2 (part) - Courtesy of TSR/WotC
The Last Stand - Tirsday 23rd Hextember (day 84) – late evening

The din of battle assaulted the ears of all those confined within the corridors of the second level of the dungeon complex. The doughty adventurers fought hard against their underworld foes. The front line, however, proved too much for the last remaining goblin, so he ducked back behind the hulking gnolls and slipped quietly into the junk-filled side room. Johan, however, noticed his escape and wanted to give chase but he was hampered by the bulk of the gnolls that filled the corridor.

Cormac and Tarquin pushed forward and the gnolls gave way, which gave Johan the opportunity he was looking for. He followed the goblin into the room, swiftly followed by Maximillian. The two adventurers took a quick look around the room, but the little goblin seemed to have disappeared. As the pair of adventurers advanced into the room, two dark, stealthy shapes emerged from the shadows. The one nearest to Johan was able to strike him from the rear before he could react, but the superior reflexes of Maximillian managed to save him from harm that came from the other direction.

Despite his great wound and subsequent shock, Johan was able to fend off another strike from his attacker and Hold Maximillian’s foe. Whilst the fighting continued to rage outside the room, Vox and Cormac were able to enter the chamber and aid their comrades. Tarquin and Theoderic held their own outside the chamber; they cut down an enemy warrior every few moments, inexorably pushing them back towards Bow who fought their rear guard.

Johan was incensed at being attacked in such an unchivalrous manner and began to beat out his anger on his attacker. Cormac ran to his aid whilst Vox and Maximillian attempted to dispatch the Held ambusher before the spell wore off. Somehow this simple task eluded the rogue and mage, even when Vox used the waning power of his Polymorph potion and changed into the guise of a wolf.

The goblin emerged from his hiding place behind the curtain to seek a way to escape whilst the party were engaged in combat, but Cormac hacked him down with his sword momentarily after dispatching Johan’s attacker. Vox, in wolf form, sank his teeth into the remaining guard’s leg whilst Max continued to plunge his dagger into their foe, but it required Cormac’s aid to finish off the very hard to put down Temple minion.

Meanwhile, in the corridor outside, Bow and the other fighters rapidly whittled down the Temple guards, gnolls and the remaining leaders until the last half-dozen turned and fled for their lives. Bow gave chase followed by Tarquin and Theoderic a short distance behind. The Temple guards retreated pell-mell through the large audience chamber with the fountain but two were quickly cut down by the ranger. The Temple guard sergeant managed to escape through the far door with one of his cohorts by ordering the remaining two guards to hold and bar the door.

The guard left in the room was cornered by Theoderic and Vox who had arrived on the scene in the guise of a small bird, whilst Bow and Tarquin hammered at the barred door. The Temple guard was subdued quickly and subsequently questioned. He proved to be very scared and as a result of his weakened state-of-mind he gave the two adventurers details of the other Temple minions he knew about on the second level as well as directions on how to get to the locked door room the party were initially ambushed in and the southern corridor. He also gave them directions for a variety of routes down to the third level. They let him go on the proviso that he left the dungeon. The guard did not need convincing and fled up the stairwell.

Bow and Tarquin smashed the door down very quickly and captured the other Temple guard beyond. They spotted, just in time, the last two Temple guards as they escaped through a door at the end of the very long corridor beyond the fountain room door. The captured second guard proved to be more recalcitrant than the other one.

Exploring the Dungeon

Whilst the rest of the party assembled in the fountain room, Bow and Tarquin questioned the Temple guard, but he proved very stubborn and resisted them as much as he could. Bow wanted to follow his quarry without delay, so he forced his Potion of Diminution between the lips of the guard and shrank him down to a more manageable size. He then frog marched the shrunken, and thus more pliable, guard down the corridor and forced him to show where the rest of the guards could be found and how the dungeon was laid out.

He returned to the rest of the party after struggling through a few rooms towards a large, wide corridor. The rest of the party had by now searched the room and explored the plinth but had found nothing of interest whilst they awaited the return of the ranger. They agreed to follow Bow’s lead and headed towards the prison block that both the guards had told them about when questioned.

They advanced cautiously through a few deserted rooms that were obviously guard rooms for the various human and otherworldly humanoids that they had encountered during the course of their foray down in the dungeon. They by-passed several side corridors in their trek towards the prison area but also found that the guard was extremely reluctant to go anywhere near the set of main steps down to the next level. The party picked up on his fear and decided to avoid the stairwell too.

When they did finally get to the prison sector they found that all of the prisoners had been slaughtered and their gaolers had fled. The Temple at this level felt empty now that the party had fought so many groups of men-at-arms and other minions, and had passed through so many empty guard rooms. They asked their prisoner about the rest of the dungeon both on this level and above and below but he could only reply that the complex was vast and he was only privy to certain areas of it. They forced the guard to show them the way down to the next level from the prison complex and then let him go too; he would only have been a burden on the rest of their mission.

Temple Dungeon Level 3 (part) - Coutesy TSR/WotC
The party found the small stairway down to the next level as described by the guard and opened the door at the bottom of the flight onto a corridor that branched in two directions. They advanced cautiously along the main corridor that ran westwards whilst Bow quickly scouted out the room that they had by-passed to the east; it proved to be a store room devoid of life. Bow grabbed a few handfuls of supplies and handed out the trail rations to his comrades who were now all injured to some degree, very tired and very hungry. They needed to find somewhere soon to rest up and allow the magic casters to regain their spells.

They approached a small junction and decided to continue to head westwards as they surmised that the bulk of the dungeon would be in that direction.

A Quiet Room

Along the west leading corridor they eventually found a door beyond which they hoped to hole up. They slipped through the door that Maximillian assured them was trap free and entered a long wide corridor with an archway at each end. Along the north wall was a long table covered with writing implements and sheets of vellum, parchment and papyrus, with several stools close to it. This was obviously some kind of scriptorium. Vox helped himself to a few items on the table and stuffed them into his pack.

The party stalked through the alcoves at either end and into the main laboratory beyond. The four large tables they discovered in the main room were covered in magical paraphernalia which Vox made a bee-line for. The rest of the room was a jumble of urns, cupboards, shelves and boxes.

Whilst Vox was otherwise occupied with looking through the assembled items, the rest of the party explored the rest of the chamber. A flowing fountain of water was found in the south-west corner of the room from which the party refilled their flasks. To the east end of the laboratory were two alcoves behind wooden doors. In the alcove beyond the southernmost door the adventurers spotted a large table on top of which they found a huge construct; an ogre’s head and body, a bugbear’s legs and a bear’s arms and claws proved too much for them to consider disturbing it, so they re-covered the corpse with its shroud and decided to leave it well alone. They backed slowly out of the room and then blocked egress from the room with a heavy table.

The second alcove proved to be full of more experimental equipment, but was otherwise empty of any potential threats. They sensed that this would make for a safe place to hole up, so Maximillian spiked the main chamber’s door. Vox used the time that the rest of the party explored the two alcoves to replenish his spell components from the materials that were contained within the vials and urns upon the main workbenches and he also picked up a handful of items that he thought might come in useful at a later date as was his wont.

However, the noise from Max’s hammering and the rustling of the mage must have disturbed something within the detritus under the benches and a slew of tentacles emerged that groped for something to fasten onto.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Doggerland Session 7:39 (Dungeon Level 2)

 …and into the Fire (16th July 2014)

The Adventurers
Bow – Ranger
Cormac – Fighter
Johan – Cleric
Maximillian – Thief
Tarquin - Fighter
Theoderic - Fighter
Vox – Magic User
Dungeon level 2 (amended) - courtesy TSR/WotC
Death in the Maze - Tirsday 23rd Hextember (day 84) – evening

In the dark confines of the western corridor Cormac and Theoderic continued their fight with the bull-headed ogre. The singing of the heroes’ swords was more than a match for the thudding of the minotaur’s axe and horns however. As soon as the monster was brought down the last two Temple guards made their escape; how could they prevail against such heroics when a huge beast from the netherworlds could not?  Vox, with the Polymorph potion still coursing through his veins, changed again into a bird and gave chase to the two retreating guards, whilst the two fighters charged up the corridor and hacked down the still Held Temple guard leader. One of the guards sprinted for the safety of the level above via the spiral stairwell whilst the other guard tried to retreat towards the deeper confines of the dungeon. Vox caught him quickly in his guise as a bird and then, not being able to think of anything else, turned himself into a small horse and landed on the fleeing guard – crushing him to death.

As he was now cut-off from the rest of the combat, Vox decided to utilise the short span of quiet time to explore the corridor and subsequent large chamber he now found himself in. The huge chamber was most likely used as a kind of reception hall in the past if the battered furniture strewn throughout the chamber were anything to go by. The wall murals depicted many of the depravities of the Temple in its heyday and the many skeletons lying about the floor showed that this was the scene of some slaughter in the past. The central fountain no longer flowed but water still stood in the confines of the surrounding pool. The plinth from which the water would have flowed showed signs of a large statue being recently removed. The only exit, other than the corridor through which he entered the hall, was a door in the south-western corner of the wall opposite. As he was currently alone, he decided to retreat and describe what he had seen to his fellow adventurers when they got a reprieve from the attacks they were enduring.

Bow, meanwhile, held the Temple guards at bay in the southern corridor, but he was being slowly pushed back by the weight of numbers against him. Johan, in his Hasted state, got to Tarquin very quickly and was able to divinely Heal him back to a consciousness. Bow managed to hold off the Temple guards long enough for Tarquin to be healed sufficiently to be able to then help him in the combat.

After he confirmed that Tarquin was able to fight again, Johan retreated back up the corridor, followed by Bow and Tarquin, to the safety of their comrades at the corridor intersection. To cover their retreat, Max threw one of his concocted smoke bombs amidst the Temple guards, which split four of the guards off from the rest. The two fighters swiftly killed the four human guards but just as the smoke cleared, it revealed a mass of fur and snarls; bugbears had replaced the guards they had previously faced.

Vox returned from the large chamber at full tilt and changed back to human form as he alighted beside Cormac and Theoderic. He then concentrated on the power word for using the single daily charge on his diadem and sent a Lightning Bolt down the corridor which destroyed almost all of the bugbears in a blinding flash of electrical energy. Cormac and Theo then joined forces with Bow and Tarquin, and they made short work of the four remaining bugbears.

A Quiet Interlude

The silence within the confines of the dungeon complex was almost deafening after the clamour of near constant battle din had subsided. The fight had taken up most of their resources and almost everyone sported an injury of one kind or another. The party gathered their wits and decided that they would try to hole up whilst they recovered their powers, rested and honed the nicks out of their weapons. Maximillian suggested that they headed up the corridor to the door in the northern section that he had checked out whilst the fight was ongoing. The thief checked the door over for traps and finding none he clicked open the well-oiled lock on a big store room brimming with weapons, barrels of foodstuffs and various other Temple essentials.

Whilst the rest of the party checked the place over, Max returned to the T-junction to set up the last few of his small fire-traps just in case of unwanted visitors. The two magic users, almost drained of magical energy, hunkered down to sleep so that they could restore some of their magical abilities.

Bow headed off alone to the large reception chamber that Vox had just told him about to search around for a hidden door that would lead him into the chamber from which the crossbow bolt that set off this whole chain of combat originated. Unfortunately, his searching proved unfruitful. His thoughts then turned to finding out what lay beyond the only other exit from the chamber. He was just about to cross the chamber to go through the far door when he heard noises from beyond. He swiftly retreated back the way he came but felt that his potential pursuers might catch sight of him before he reached the safety of his companions. Rather than head directly back to the store room, he darted up the first few rounds of the spiral stairwell to hide whilst he tried to listen to who or what passed below.

Bow was only missing for about a quarter of an hour before Max, who was on watch, heard the tramp of many feet. He briefly worried about Bow not being back with them before he then heard one of his traps being sprung. He noticed four little creatures that were prodding away at the sides of the corridors with their spears. He thrust his head inside the chamber where the rest of his companions abided and called for help. This roused the rest of the party from their ease, and they grabbed their weapons and shields in readiness for more combat action.

A Renewed Attack

The three fighters and Johan barged their way past Max and into the corridor in the hope of cutting off the attack at the junction where they could control the numbers of the enemy that would join the combat. They swiftly dispatched the three or four goblins that were searching for more traps before a brace of gnolls pushed their way to the front.

Bow, from his hiding place up the stairwell, heard the combat start up, so he peeked around the last bend in the staircase. He noticed that the enemy before him at the bottom of the stairwell appeared to be human, and most likely were the leaders of the attacking party, so he decided to hit them from the rear to sew confusion amongst the ranks of the latest patrol of Temple guards.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Doggerland Session 7:38 (Dungeon Level 2)

Out of the Frying Pan… (9th July 2014)

The Adventurers
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.

Minotaur Attack

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.

Temple Reinforcements

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.