Posts Tagged ‘Gwenette Deathmar’

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 4

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): After battling the evil creature and then finding the Pendant of Winstone in a chamber that adjoined the evil creature’s bedchamber, Lightstep lit the two candles on the altar in that adjoining chamber, and said some prayers. Lightstep then carefully wrapped the Pendant and the chalice in cloth and placed them in his backpack. Gwenette asked him if he was going to take the candlesticks, but Lightstep said to leave them to burn down. By now, Clayton had poked his head into that room (through the 4’ high door), and hearing that exchange of words, said, “I think you should take the candles and candlesticks with us. If they will be needed for whatever ceremony is needed to use that pendant, well, we don’t want to have to come back for them!” Lightstep pondered that statement for a moment, then agreed that he should take the candlesticks also. Since Lightstep’s pack was sort of full, he gave the candlesticks to the halfling thief Falafela, to carry in her backpack.

There now ensued a lively discussion of how to leave the dungeon. Vox couldn’t stand on his feet without assistance, and especially needed help with walking. The party were also going to have to retrieve the body of Tureg, the dwarf, who had fallen in combat vs. some skeletons in the burial chamber of Reedus, and the party was also going to have to return the bones of Koban Hairfoot to his burial chamber in the level above the party’s current level. Some of the party thought of using the bed to carry Tureg’s body, but that idea went by the wayside as the bed was sort of heavy all by itself, and since it had held the body of the evil creature that had attacked them, they really didn’t want any part of the bed. They also considered breaking the doors off the wardrobe and using them as an improvised litter, but decided that the doors didn’t look sturdy enough. So finally they decided to use the table as a litter, after first breaking off its four legs. Fortunately the tabletop was not too heavy.

The party then left the bedchamber. Clayton led the way with a torch (and his sword drawn in case of any more attacks), then came Opalent and Gwenette, who were helping the energy-drained human fighter Vox the Just to walk. Then came Lightstep and Douag carrying the table with the bones of Koban Hairfoot upon it, Lightstep in the lead. Lightstep rested the table on the top of his backpack to help with carrying it, as he was only 3’1” tall (Douag was an even 4’ tall). Vandin Lakesplitter (dwarven fighter) and Falafela brought up the rear, Falafela carrying a torch. Vandin was very seriously wounded, and was doing all he could to just walk by himself.

After leaving the chamber, the party turned left after 10 feet, then turned right after another 10 feet, then passed through the shattered door to Reedus’ burial chamber. They needed to retrieve Tureg’s body from the black obsidian coffin of Reedus that they had left Tureg in, to keep his body safe from any vermin. When Clayton moved the lid off the coffin, he exclaimed, “Tureg’s arms are not in the same position that I left them! I left his arms crossed over his stomach, and now his hands are up by his head!” Clayton then checked for a pulse, and detected a faint beating of Tureg’s heart! Vandin then prodded Tureg with the butt-end of his war hammer, and shouted at Tureg to try to wake him up. Tureg gave out a slight, very quiet moan, and moved his head ever so slightly. That proved to everyone that he was indeed still alive!

The party then loaded Tureg onto the table along with Koban, and proceeded out the near door of the chamber, marching in the same order as noted above. They turned right at the main hallway, went about 40 feet, turned left, went another 90 feet or so, passing by the room on their left that they had earlier inspected that had three skeletons on the floor as well as a toppled podium and a burned book. They had no time for any more inspections now, though. After proceeding down a long hallway of 110 to 120 feet, they reached the right turn at the stairs to the upper level.

At this point, the stairs were narrower than the hallway, and in any event, the door they had to pass through at the top of the stairs was too narrow to carry anyone on the table, so the party had to shuttle people and bodies up the stairs one-by-one. Clayton led the way with the torch, then Opalent and Gwenette both helped Vox up the stairs. Then Opalent and Gwenette went back downstairs to bring up the table, turning it on end to get it through the door under the small waterfall. Then Lightstep and Douag carried up Tureg, and then Koban’s remains, and finally Vandin and Falafela ascended the stairs. The party left the door to the lower level open, to make it easier for anyone else to find the stairway down.

After leaving the “waterfall” room, the party turned right (having no choice in the decision as to which way to go), traveled about 40 feet, then made a quick left-right jog, then went another 40 feet, passing over the iron grate in the floor. They then turned left into the crypt room of Koban Hairfoot, about 30 minutes after leaving the tomb room of Reedus. They were sort of surprised to see the glass case that had covered Koban was still intact. Clayton said, “I guess Koban was able to lift the glass enough to slip himself out of the bottom to join us!” The party then reverently replaced the remains of Koban Hairfoot under his glass case, including his broken mace. Lightstep then said more prayers over Koban.

After leaving Koban, it only took another few minutes to reach the stairs to the surface. At about this time, the party’s two torches were flickering and were close to extinguishing themselves, so they lit a new torch, but only one torch (provided by Opalent). Clayton reckoned it must be getting close to midnight by now. “OK,” said Clayton, “we need to figure out how to get past that cyclops on the surface!” Nobody had a solid plan, although several ideas were tossed out to the group. Someone said, “Maybe we should see if the cyclops is still up there in the mausoleum?” They all agreed that it needed to be someone with infravision, so that left out the humans Clayton, Gwenette, or Vox (not to mention that Vox was too weak to ascend the stairs by himself). So, believing the halfling thief Falafela to have the best infravision, it was decided to have her take a peek, after others opened the lid of the tomb. The party had, of course, wisely decided to close the lid to the false coffin above when they descended into the dungeon. They had worked a lever at the bottom of the stairs to close the lid, and Opalent had wedged her dagger in the latch mechanism to keep it from possibly locking them in.

Falafela said, “Shine the torch up the stairs so I can see where Opalent’s dagger is at, then take the torch back down the hallway so no light shines up the stairs. Then have someone open the lid about a foot or so. Clayton and the others then retreated about 60 feet back up the hallway while leaving the legless tabletop with Tureg upon it close to the bottom of the stairs. When Falafela was in position with her hand upon the dagger, she whispered towards the bottom of the stairs, “OK, open the lid!” Vandin and Opalent worked the lever, and when the lid was opened about a foot, Falafela looked into the above-ground mausoleum. She saw the cyclops! He was sleeping in the far corner to the left of Falafela’s position. Falafela whispered down the stairs, “close the lid again,” and while Opalent and Vandin worked the lever to close the lid, Falafela stuck the dagger back in the latch to keep the latch from engaging. Then Falafela crept back down the stairs.

Falafela motioned Opalent and Vandin back down the hall to where the others were waiting with the torch. “Yes,” said Falafela, “the cyclops is sleeping in the mausoleum, about 40’ feet away in the left corner. He is sleeping on his left side, facing away from us. There now ensued much more discussion about how to get past the cyclops. Occasionally, someone had to remind everyone to not all try to talk at once, and to keep their voices quiet so as to not alert the cyclops to their presence.

Day #2-30 (Spiritday, 10th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): At some time during the discussion about how to get past the cyclops, midnight passed. One of the ideas was to lift the lid and shoot arrows at the cyclops, but that plan was nixed as the only competent bowman was Clayton, and he, being human, lacked infravision. It was also feared that shooting arrows might amount to only pinpricks to the cyclops, and might enrage him so that he would just hide behind one of the marble columns in the mausoleum or perhaps wait just outside the door to the exterior, making it impossible to ever leave. It was also suggested that someone from the party could sneak out of the dungeon and blind the cyclops by plunging a sword into the cyclops’ eye. But then a voice said, “But who will be the ‘someone’?” Nobody volunteered to be that “someone”! A dissenting voice, perhaps Opalent or Falafela, said, “Isn’t it sort of cruel to maim that cyclops? After all, he hasn’t caused any harm to any of us.” Someone quietly stated, “At least not yet!” A consensus was reached that trying to blind the cyclops also wouldn’t work, because he could just crawl out of the door and wait for the party to try to leave.

Another idea that was presented was to put together a mock skeleton from bones in the dungeon, and set them on fire after opening the lid, and try to scare the cyclops away. The plan went so far as having Falafela, Opalent, and Douag go back down the hallway (with the torch) to one of the barracks rooms off the side of the hallway and gather up a set of bones, including a rib cage and a skull. The other party members were not exactly thrilled to be left sitting in the dark during the short time the bones were being gathered. Of course, Lightstep didn’t care one way or another as to the discussion, as he had fallen asleep. But then as folks were getting ready to tie the bones to Opalent’s 10-foot pole, someone said, “You know, if this doesn’t scare away the cyclops, then he’s just going to be waiting for us!” So, this plan was discarded along with the other plans that had been discussed.

Clayton stated, “It’s too bad we didn’t think to arrange any way to signal Flenda and Jorgio, so they could arrange another diversion to draw the cyclops away from the mausoleum so we could make a break for it. Of course, how could we signal them without the cyclops knowing it? I suppose we could lift the lid a little and I could shoot a flaming arrow through the door to the outside, but what if the bowstring awoke the cyclops? Another problem we have is that we need to get the cyclops far enough away so that we can drag our wounded into the woods to our left, which will be about 150 yards away. One thing we have going for us is that it is another moonless night, so the darkness can hide us somewhat once we all get outside. I wonder how much starlight there is, and what the cloud cover is? Hmmmm….”

It didn’t take too much more discussion to decide that someone would have to sneak past the sleeping cyclops and then try to contact Flenda and Jorgio, whom, it was presumed, were still watching the mausoleum from somewhere outside. It was Flenda and Jorgio who had made an excellent diversion to draw the cyclops away from the mausoleum so that the rest of the party could find a way into the dungeon beneath the mausoleum. Falafela was selected for the hazardous duty of sneaking past the cyclops, as, after all, she was the group’s “thief” and so should be the best at sneaking about in the dark. But before she left, the party finalized the rest of their plan. The plan was for Falafela, once she found Flenda and Jorgio, to have them come down and stir up the cyclops’ goat herd. They would make coyote howls and try to get the goats to moving about and making noise. When the party inside the mausoleum heard the coyote yells, they were to try to wake up the cyclops enough so that he would go outside to investigate. Then, when one person from the party in the mausoleum noticed the cyclops was far enough away, they would hurriedly usher everyone else up the stairs, then go outside and make for the woods to their left as fast as they could go.

Finally, when all was set, Douag and Clayton worked the lever to raise the lid enough for Falafela to exit the coffin-stairs. Falafela very carefully and quietly put forth first one leg, and then the other, onto the floor of the mausoleum. She hesitated for a second to ensure the cyclops hadn’t changed position, then she hurriedly tiptoed towards the door to the outside. When she had safely made it to the outside, she briefly paused for a deep breath, relieved to be free of the stale air in the dungeon beneath the mausoleum. Opalent stayed at the head of the stairs to watch the cyclops, and to let the rest of the party know when the cyclops departed.

Falafela quickly made her way to the southwest, across the clearing that surrounded the mausoleum. She headed for the bluff upon which Flenda and Jorgio had lit their signal fire to attract the cyclops the previous late afternoon. Fortunately, although there was no moonlight, there was only about 10% cloud cover, so there was enough starlight to navigate by. When Falafela was atop the bluff, she started whispering, “Flenda! Jorgio! Where are you?” When that didn’t attract her companions, she picked up two rocks and started banging them together in a rhythmic manner. Tap tap tap! Tap tap tap! went the rocks as Falafela moved about the bluff, listening intently after each series of taps. Finally, after a couple of minutes, Jorgio spoke out from the darkness, “Stop banging those rocks together!” After a quick exchange of hellos with Falafela, Jorgio went off into the darkness to fetch Flenda.

When Jorgio and Flenda rejoined Falafela atop the bluff, Falafela explained the group’s plan. She said they needed to create a disturbance among the cyclops’ herd of goats in order to wake him up and have him leave the mausoleum to see what was molesting his goats. They would also have to draw him to the bluff, or at least far enough away from the mausoleum so that the rest of the party would be able to reach the safety of the woods on the far side of the mausoleum. Flenda said, “I can make excellent coyote calls!” Jorgio chimed in with, “I think we should also light a fire. Even if the cyclops doesn’t pursue us far enough, if he sees another fire he’ll have to come and investigate it.” Presciently, Flenda and Jorgio had gathered more wood for another fire, after the cyclops had extinguished their previous bonfire the previous afternoon.

While Jorgio was kindling the new fire, Falafela explained the party’s plan to meet along the north bank of the stream, about a hundred yards into the woods on the other, eastern side of the mausoleum. When the fire was burning strong enough, the trio descended the bluff and re-entered the clearing. They carefully stole their way towards the sleeping cyclops in the mausoleum, and when about 50 yards from there, they started prodding goats with their feet or with sticks. That served to get some goats on their feet and bleating a little. Then Flenda let out with the most wondrous and horrific imitation of a coyote howl that either Falafela or Jorgio had ever heard! Suddenly, most of the goat herd was awake and ready to flee! The three adventurers started shooing the goats towards the bluff to the west, Flenda in the rear and Falafela and Jorgio on the flanks, to keep the goats moving in the desired direction. Flenda occasionally let out with another blood-curdling howl, and spurred the goats to moving faster and to making more noise.

All this while, about 30 minutes worth, Opalent had maintained her vigil over the sleeping cyclops. Opalent could hear the commotion outside, but the cyclops was still sound asleep. Not particularly desirous of going over and kicking the cyclops in the back to wake him, Opalent used one of the bones the party had gathered for a possible decoy, and threw it at the recumbent cyclops. The cyclops merely shrugged it off and continued his slumber. Opalent went down the stairs to get another, bigger bone. She also ordered the lid be raised all the way to give her room for more arm swing for more velocity for the next throw. Although Opalent had to throw the bone to the side of the marble column that was between her and the cyclops, she made an excellent throw that firmly struck the cyclops right in the middle of his back. The cyclops brought his right arm around to scratch his back where the bone had hit him. Then the cyclops suddenly woke up! He sat up, then turned and looked right at where Opalent had thrown the bone from the pseudo coffin! But Opalent had quickly retreated down the stairs to the level below and so was not seen.

After a few seconds of trying to clear his head and trying to figure out what had touched him, the cyclops finally heard the commotion outside with his goat herd. He gathered up his huge eight-foot long club and crawled outside. Opalent heard the cyclops crawl out the door, then she arose to the top of the stairs again. Opalent then climbed out of the coffin and crossed the floor to the door to the outside. She could see the cyclops marching across the clearing towards the right, directly away from the mausoleum. When the cyclops was at least 50 yards away, Opalent hurried back to the stairs and whispered as loud as she could, “Let’s go now! The cyclops is moving away!” Gwenette then helped Vox most of the way up the stairs, and then Opalent joined in to help him climb out of the coffin-stairs. Then Gwenette went back down the stairs and helped carry the table to the surface, then went back to help with Tureg. Somebody did have the good sense to wake Lightstep, else he might have been left behind. The party left the burning torch at the bottom of the stairs, and didn’t take time to close the lid to the coffin they had just emerged from.

Then the party loaded the unconscious Tureg on the tabletop, and were able to easily carry it horizontally through the wide door of the mausoleum to the outside. The party then turned left and moved out for the woods. While they were moving as fast as they could, it was only at the pace of a brisk walk. They bunched up into a tight group, and moved so as to put the mausoleum building between them and the cyclops, should that giant creature decide to look back. Everyone could breathe a sigh of relief when they all finally reached the woods. Clayton quickly took a head count to ensure everyone was present and accounted for. Then, as they were about 50 yards north of the stream, they angled their way into the woods towards the stream. There was much stumbling about in the woods, as nobody dared light a torch where the cyclops could see it.

They finally made it to the stream, and then proceeded a few more paces to the east until Clayton reckoned they had made it about 100 yards into the woods. As could be expected, it was pitch dark in the woods with the leafy canopy blocking out all starlight from above. Clayton ordered the group to stay put while he reconnoitered back towards the clearing. A few moments later, he reappeared and said, “We are about 100 yards inside the woods. The cyclops should not be able to see us here. As long as we don’t make any loud noise we should be OK. We’ll just have to wait for the others to join us. Try to get some rest, I will watch our back trail.”

After being pursued by the cyclops across the clearing, Falafela, Jorgio, and Flenda gained the relative safety of the bluff. They moved past the bonfire and struck out into the woods. They crossed to the south bank of the stream in order to get farther into the woods, and then they moved to their left, keeping the stream to their left. They did have to find a way down the cliff to the side of the waterfall, but then they found the traveling wasn’t too bad if they stayed just inside the fringe of the woods on the opposite side of the stream from the cyclops. As they made their way through the woods, nobody spoke unless it was to ensure their companions were still with them, and that they weren’t straying too far from the stream.

After about 90 minutes of hard travel through the dark woods, the trio reached the others. After crossing the stream, and getting wet and a bit chilled in the 50-something degree air, everyone was back together. Clayton spoke and said, “We should be safe to light a couple of torches now, else it will be nearly impossible to travel through the forest at night. We will have to alternate who is carrying Tureg and who is helping Vox to walk. And Vandin, are you able to walk yourself?” Vandin grunted that he would be able to manage carrying his own weight. Opalent and Douag were the first torchbearers, Falafela supplying Opalent with a torch. Clayton reckoned it was probably about 1:30 in the morning when they set out.

After a very hard forced march of three miles, always keeping the stream within earshot on their right, they finally reached the main trail. It had taken about 6 hours to cover 3 miles. That was about twice the time it had taken them to cover that same territory the day before, except during the previous day they were in the daylight and were not encumbered with wounded members of their party. At the intersection of the stream and the trail, they all rested for 30 minutes and ate some of their jerky and hardtack. The eight conscious party members ate a total of 4 days worth of those “iron” rations, then refilled their waterskins before resuming their march around 8 am. At least they didn’t need torches any more, as enough light was filtering through from above so that they could see the trail. It did seem like it was overcast above the trees, though.

The party followed the winding trail for another three miles, leaving the stream far behind them. Finally, when some party members were just about at the limit of their endurance, they emerged from the woods. To their relief, they did see the woodcutting party from Karnack’s castle, along with the 5 cavalrymen as their escort. The woodcutters had almost given up hope of seeing the party emerge from the woods, and had just loaded their two wagons with cut firewood. The wagons were quickly unloaded, and then the party members clambered aboard, trying to use whatever they could for padding for their more seriously wounded members of Tureg, Vox, and Vandin. On the way back to Karnack’s castle, most of the party fell asleep and so didn’t feel the jolts when the unsprung wagons hit bumps in the trail.

Eventually, the party all made it back to Karnack’s castle where they were helped to their bedchambers. The wounded members Tureg, Vandin, Vox, and Douag were given excellent aid and had their wounds washed and bandaged by several women at the castle who specialized in healing wounds. Word was sent to Karnack that the party had success in finding the Pendant of Winstone, and then the party all fell fast asleep. Lightstep did make sure that the scroll he had found with a drawing of the Pendant upon it was forwarded to Karnack, so Karnack could make an early start in trying to decipher what its strange runes said.

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 3

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

This is a continuation of The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 1, and The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 2.

Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): As we left our intrepid adventurers last time, they had descended to the 2nd level of the Tomb of Koban Hairfoot, and after briefly investigating a rectangular chamber with three skeletons laying about in disarray, they had then proceeded onward. They had come to another door to their left, and Vandin Lakesplitter had forced the door open with a few pushes from his shoulder….

Immediately after forcing the door open, Vandin (carrying a torch along with his shield and hammer), and Tureg, another dwarven fighter (armed with a sword and also carrying a shield) discovered there were some more skeletons in this room, but the skeletons were animated and were coming to attack! Vandin swung his hammer and shattered one skeleton into fragments, but another skeleton felled Tureg with a mighty claw. The halfling cleric Lightstep then entered the room and tried to fend off other skeletons with his small shield and with his hammer, while the halfling thief Falafela snuck into the room in Lightstep’s wake and attempted to drag Tureg out of the room. It was fortunate for the adventurers that the room just inside the door was not very wide, as it kept the skeletons superior numbers from being able to flank the party.

Vandin then swung his hammer and took off a skeleton’s arm at its shoulder, but with its other arm it struck Vandin, doing 4 hit points of damage (out of Vandin’s 6 total hit points). After Falafela dragged Tureg out of the room, Vandin and Lightstep were able to back out of the room and pull the door closed behind them, thus gaining a respite from the attacking skeletons. The party did not hear any sound coming from inside the room, so Lightstep cast a Cure Light Wounds spell on Vandin, but it only cured 1 HP of damage. Then Lightstep cast his only remaining Cure Light Wounds spell, and it fully healed Vandin.

After briefly discussing tactics, the party decided they would only open the door a little so only one skeleton at a time could approach them through the narrowed opening. While Lightstep took Vandin’s torch, Vandin opened the door just enough for a skeleton to start to come through. Whack! A mighty blow from Vandin’s hammer felled that skeleton, and also the next skeleton to come through right on the heels of the first skeleton. But while Vandin was watching that 2nd skeleton fall to the ground to make sure it wouldn’t try to strike him on the way down, another skeleton came through the door and struck Vandin for 5 HP of damage! Opalent then cast her Magic Missile spell at that skeleton. While the spell did 3 points of damage, it did not “kill” the already-undead skeleton. Douag then pushed Vandin out of the way, but before Douag could bring his battleaxe to bear, the skeleton ripped at Douag, striking twice and inflicting 5 hit points of damage. Douag was still in fair shape, though, as he had 11 hit points before being wounded. After a bit more battling, Douag finally chopped the skeleton in half with his axe, and then made sure it was not moving any more after striking it a few more times as it lay at his feet.

The party then waited for several seconds to see if any more skeletons were coming out of the room to do battle, and when none appeared, they made more plans. Lightstep stayed in the hallway with one torch to watch over the wounded Tureg, and the human ranger Clayton also stayed on guard in the hallway outside the room. The other party members cautiously looked into the room, led by human fighter Vox the Just, who kicked the skeleton bones out of the doorway. The room looked like a carbon copy of Koban Hairfoot’s crypt from the level above, as this room was also octagonal in shape, about 30 feet across from one wall to its opposite wall. But this room did not have painted murals on the walls; instead, it had what looked like burn marks and bloodstains on the walls and the floor. And instead of a glass-encased skeleton of Koban Hairfoot resting on a marble table, there was a black obsidian coffin lying on a dark obsidian table. Embossed into the top of the coffin was a symbol of an unknown deity, as well as the word “Reedus.” The party also noticed there were the bones from five skeletons on the floor, although they could only account for killing four of the foul creatures. They knew that Vandin had killed three of the skeletons, and Douag had put down another. Then Lightstep said, “I think I took out one of those infernal creatures while I was shielding Tureg.”

Falafela wanted to inspect the coffin before anyone tried to open its lid, but as she was only 2’8” tall, she had Opalent lift her up for a closer look-see. Falafela and Opalent inspected the coffin carefully, but could detect no sort of trick or trap. While Vandin then also inspected the coffin for any sort of stonework traps, the party had to light two new torches (Vox and Opalent dug into their torch supplies). That also marked they had been in the dungeon for about four hours. Finally, while holding their breath to see what might leap out of the coffin at them, the party opened the lid. They were relieved to not find a body, or a skeleton, or anything else that might have assaulted them. And while the party did not find the Pendant of Winstone, they did find an old, dusty black cloak that was trimmed in gold. It appeared to have been someone’s burial cloak. It did seem weird that it was dusty, although the rest of the room wasn’t very dusty. Opalent picked up the cloak with her 10’ pole. Opalent then searched two of the walls for any secret passages, but found none.

At this time, Clayton poked his head in the room and announced that he thought Tureg was dead, as Clayton could not detect a pulse. While the party was ready to push on and keep searching for the Pendant of Winstone, they didn’t want to just leave Tureg’s body lying about. Vandin, in particular, didn’t want any rats to eat Tureg! Other party members reminded Vandin that they had not seen any vermin (except the skeletons) in the dungeon, but Vandin was adamant. Clayton said, “We could leave Tureg’s body in this coffin until we come back to retrieve him.” A couple of folks thought that was sort of gruesome, as the coffin looked sort of evil, but Clayton then said, “Well, he’s already dead. It couldn’t hurt him any more.” So, the party lifted Tureg, along with all of his possessions (except his torches which Opalent added to her backpack), and placed him in the coffin, and then closed the lid.

The party then piled the skeleton bones around the walls of the room, and then Lightstep took off his backpack and carefully unwrapped the vial of the clear liquid he had found some time ago. He sprinkled about half of the vial on the bones, while saying a few religious words. He probably had about two fluid ounces of the clear fluid remaining in the vial after that. The party then went to the other door of the room that was down a 35’ hallway from the foot of the coffin. As the hinges were on the inside, Vox tried to pull that door open, but failed. He then whacked at the door once with his sword, but as the door was of solid wood with iron reinforcing bands (as was the other door to the room), he quickly decided that it would indeed be futile to keep striking at the door with his sword. Vox figured he would only lose the edge of his blade if he kept slashing at the door. Vandin then came forward, and even in his weakened condition, he only had to strike the door twice with his hammer before busting it open. The party wasn’t worried about making noise at this point, seeing as they had made a lot of noise while fighting the skeletons.

The party now proceeded in the order: Lightstep in front (with a torch), then Vox and Gwenette (another human fighter) in the 2nd rank, then Falafala and Vandin, then Douag and Opalent, and Clayton brought up the rear with another torch. After passing through the shattered door, they saw they had to go to either the right or the left. They went to the right. After about 30 feet, they saw another iron grating in the floor, much like the floor grating from the level above. Just beyond the grate, the hallway turned right, and they could see it led back to the other door of the room they had just exited. Down that hall towards the other door, the hall also turned off to the left, but they decided not to go that way for now. Instead, they went to the left.

After proceeding just more than 10 feet, the hall turned 90 degrees to the right. (By the way, the party were all still creeped out by the skulls that were embedded into the stonework in the floor, and by the streaks of rust and/or blood all over the walls.) About 10 feet past that right turn was an end wall with a wooden door in it. Lightstep just wanted to quickly open the door to see what was on the other side, but Gwenette held him back. Vox then opened the door, which opened easily. Vox stepped through the door, closely followed by Lightstep and Gwenette. There were only three items to be seen in this 20’ x 30’ room: a 4’ x 6’ wooden table with one chair in the center of the room, an old wooden wardrobe, with its two doors open, in the far right corner of the room, and an old dust-covered bed in the far left corner of the room.

After having only a few seconds to look around the room, suddenly a ghastly figure arose from the dusty bedcovers and attacked! It was clearly undead, and while it was partially a skeleton, it still had some fleshy parts on its body. Unfortunately for Vox, he was the closest to the thing, and Vox was quickly struck twice for a total of 7 hit points of damage. Having only 3 HP left, he fell back somewhat. Gwenette and Lightstep then tried to hit the thing, Gwenette with her short sword, and Lightstep with his hammer, but they could not connect as they were more interested in keeping the thing from hitting them. Gwenette, in particular, had to parry the foul creature’s attacks with her sword as she did not carry a shield.

Suddenly, at the back of the party out in the hall was a commotion. Clayton had forgotten to keep looking back from the way that they had come, as he, like the rest of the party, were trying to see what was transpiring inside the room. Before the rear party members could do anything about it, a skeleton clad in a gold and gem-studded robe and wearing a similar crown, pushed its way past the party members. It was the skeleton of Koban Hairfoot, come back to life! Koban rushed to confront the evil being that was battling with Gwenette and Lightstep, pushing them out of the way. Then Koban and his opponent stood toe-to-toe, raining blows upon each other! Koban was wielding his broken mace, and was inflicting terrible damage to his foe, but could not avoid receiving serious blows in return. Finally, the evil being was vanquished, breaking into several pieces as it hit the floor with a thud. Unfortunately for Koban, though, he too was finished. Koban pivoted, looking at the party with the empty eye sockets of his skull, then fell prostrate upon the stone floor. As he fell, he dropped his broken mace and reached out with his right hand and pointed to the wardrobe in the corner.

After the party paused for a moment to take in what had just transpired, Gwenette and Falafela inspected the wardrobe. They looked inside, but all that there was to see were a few tattered old garments that appeared to have no value. Falafela was wondering if the wardrobe was a teleportation device, and started to climb inside, but just to be on the safe side, she kept one foot outside the wardrobe and had Opalent hold on to her. While this was transpiring, Lightstep sprinkled the last of what he was now convinced was Holy Water on the bones of Koban and Koban’s foe, and when the little bit of water touched the bones of Koban’s opponent, some small wisps of smoke arose from those bones. Clayton was now also watching back down the hallway for anyone/anything else that might approach, and Vox was lying on the floor, feeling as if all of his energy had left him. It was also time to light two new torches, marking five hours of dungeon time for the intrepid party.

Opalent then looked around the wardrobe, and finally when she moved it a few inches away from the wall she found a hidden door behind it! The door was only about 4’ high, but Lightstep cautiously opened the door (after the wardrobe had been moved farther away from the wall) and went through, along with a torch. Douag and Gwenette then followed him in. They saw a sort of U-shaped room, about 20 feet across and 30 feet long. At the “U” end of the room, which was to their left, was a small white marble altar. Atop the altar were two gold candlesticks with unburned white candles in them, along with a gleaming gold chalice, and next to the chalice was a bit of jewelry that looked exactly as the Pendant of Winstone had been described to them when they were all back at Karnack’s castle! It was round, about 4 inches in diameter, with a sort of “tab” protruding off one side, and with a 2” diameter black gem in its center. Around its rim, were gold “bubbles.”

Lightstep approached the altar, lit both candles with his torch, and soon was immersed in prayers. After about 10 minutes of prayer, he then reached up and retrieved the Pendant of Winstone and the gold chalice, and wrapped them in cloth and placed them in his backpack. Gwenette said, “Aren’t you going to take the candlesticks?” Lightstep answered, “No. We will leave them to burn down.”

(to be continued)

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 2

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Read The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 1 for a refresher of how the adventurers came to be where they are now.

(This adventure is one of a series of adventures of some folks playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, using the 1st Edition rules.) Play was suspended in this adventure just before Christmas 2015. It has taken about four months before play was resumed. It seems some of the adventurers or else the dungeon master were all variously sick over the winter and early spring. But finally everyone was healthy and available to play again! When play was suspended, the party was in the dungeon beneath the tomb of Koban Hairfoot. They are all searching for the Pendant of Winstone, a powerful, magical artifact that may be able to cure the villagers of Crystal Shores from their turning into zombies. The party has found the Necklace of Harbinge, and have retrieved it from around the neck of the long dead cleric, Koban Hairfoot. The party had found an underground library just as play was suspended last. Now, to continue….

Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): The party spent some time searching the books in the library, more than an hour, in fact. They had Tureg, Douag, Opalent, Lightstep, Gwenette, and Falafela searching through the many books on the shelves, with Vandin holding a torch in the center of the room so folks would have some light. Vox was standing guard in the hallway outside the library with another torch, and Clayton was staying out of everyone’s way. The dwarves Douag and Tureg and the halfling Lightstep, due to their shortness in height, had to limit themselves to searching through books on the lower shelves or to books and papers that were on the floor, but the halfling Falafela stood on one of the two chairs in the room so she could reach higher shelves. The party had to be careful handling most of the books, as most of the books were quite ancient and fragile.

After about 50 minutes of searching, just after two new torches were lit to replace the others that were about to expire, Opalent chanced to find a rolled up scroll behind a couple of books she had just pulled off the shelf. Opalent gave an exclamation of joy and interest, and showed the others what she had found, as when unrolled the scroll seemed to have something to do with the Pendant of Winstone. The scroll had a drawing of what the Pendant had been described as looking like by Karnack when they were all at Karnack’s castle; however, nobody could read the language that was written on the scroll. Opalent carefully rolled up the scroll again and placed it in her backpack for safekeeping. Then the party continued searching. Clayton remarked that it would be quite useful if someday all of the books in this library could be conveyed to Karnack’s castle, although this was not the expedition to accomplish that at this time. After another 20 minutes of searching, Lightstep found an interesting book. It seemed to be a manual containing a workout regimen that could be followed to increase an individual’s strength, agility, and endurance. Although nobody could read the language the workout book was written in, there were plenty of illustrations that made it clear what it was about. Lightstep stashed that book in his backpack. At that, the party felt they had found all that they could for now, and decided to move on with their exploration of the dungeon. Their marching order was Tureg and Vandin in the front row, followed by Falafela and Lightstep, then Gwenette and Opalent, Clayton and Douag, and then Vox brought up the rear. Vandin and Vox each had a torch.

The party then retraced their steps. They took the hallway going left from the library for about 30 feet, turned left, went another 80 to 90 feet, turned right, then went straight for another 70 to 80 feet, passing one of the entrances to Koban Hairfoot’s actual tomb. When they got to the end of this passage, they would have to go either to their right or to their left. They had already come from the left, so they decided to go to the right. They also noticed that at the intersection of the hallways there was an iron grate in the floor. The iron grate seemed to be set solidly into the floor stones, so did not seem like a passage to a different level. They found a small rock to drop through the grate, but they could not hear it hit bottom. They decided to bypass the grate for now and continue on their way.

Upon starting down the right-hand passage, it only went a little more than 10 feet before it branched to the right and left. The party took the passage to the right. After a little more than 50 feet, the hallway turned left, then after 20 feet it opened into a circular chamber that was about 60 feet in diameter. Religious frescoes (somewhat faded) were painted on the walls, and there were a number of shelves that held humanoid skulls upon them. There was also what looked like a marble altar on the far side of the room. What alarmed the party, though, were six skeletal monks wearing tattered brown robes that were standing on guard holding ceremonial scythes, three on each side of the room. The party watched the skeletons carefully to see if they would attack, but they appeared quite lifeless. Finally, Falafela borrowed Vandin’s torch and approached the altar to search for traps. The other members of the party spread out to guard the skeletons in case they were to come to life and try to attack Falafela or anyone else.

After several minutes of examination at the altar, Falafela was satisfied that there were no traps around the altar. In particular, she had been looking for a trap door under the altar. Also, when she got close to the altar, she could see it was made of polished obsidian instead of marble. It had a smooth slab top, with two solid legs, one on each side. Douag then suggested that someone should lie down on the altar to see what happened, and Tureg said to Douag, “You go first, buddy!” Falafela then returned to the party and stated, “I was really scared!” Although some party members were suggesting the party should attack the skeletons before they came to life, Falafela said that the party should instead treat the dead clerics with respect. As the rest of the party had barely ventured into the chamber, Vox asked, “Should we all enter the room and check it out?” Douag said to check out the skeletal monks to see if they had anything of value.

Vandin retrieved his torch from Falafela, and he and Falafela and Opalent then approached the altar. The other six party members each watched one of the six skeletal monks. Opalent retrieved the scroll that described the Pendant of Winstone from her backpack and placed it on the altar, but nothing happened. Then Lightstep approached the altar and took the Necklace of Harbinge from around his neck and placed it on the altar. Similarly to the scroll, nothing happened. Lightstep and Opalent then took back the scroll and necklace and secured them among their possessions once again. Vandin then examined the altar, looking for any irregularities in the stone floor around the altar, but he could detect nothing out of the ordinary.

Opalent then suggested tapping the skeletons with her 10-foot pole, but Vandin suggested smashing the altar instead, and then a general argument ensued. Finally Lightstep cooled everyone down, and suggested leaving the chamber and continuing their explorations. Before leaving, though, Lightstep said some respectful words to the long-dead skeletal clerics. “Rest well, noble warriors, may you continue your eternal vigil forevermore.” The group resumed their marching order of Tureg and Vandin, Falafela and Lightstep, Gwenette and Opalent, Clayton and Douag, and Vox. Vandin and Vox still carried the torches.

The party then returned to the three-way hallway junction near the floor grate, but this time they took the other passage they had not yet explored. After taking that passage, it immediately turned right, went about 50 feet, then turned left. Another 15 feet, and it seemed to veer to the right and left. The party could hear water running, sort of like a running stream of water over rocks. Vandin searched the entrance to this new junction for floor traps, finding none, and then they all took the left-side hallway. They could see a small waterfall of sorts. There was a 6-foot wide recess in the central wall on their right, and water was coming out of a narrow slit in the 10-foot high ceiling. The water then trickled down cobblestones on the vertical wall surface, collecting in a small pool at the bottom. There must have been small drain for the water at the bottom, as it did not overflow the pool. The party also noticed several tubular iron bars across the top of the pool. At about this time the party had to light two more new torches, marking that they had been in the dungeon around three hours so far.

While Opalent was searching around the pool of water in the floor for secret passages, other party members discovered that they were in a sort of octagonal chamber that was about 40 by 50 feet, except the center of the room had a large column that effectively reduced the room to a circular hallway. They could walk around the central wall with the waterfall and return to the room’s entrance. Opalent didn’t find any secret doors, and then Vandin also failed at detecting any sliding stonework doors. By now, they had been in the dungeon about three and a half hours. The party were getting ready to leave this area when Opalent decided to check one more time for any secret doors. She tried pressing on rocks under the waterfall as high as she could reach (which was close to 8 feet high as she is 6’1” tall), when all of a sudden a rock she was pushing on depressed with an audible click. Then Vandin helped Opalent push against the wall, and a secret door was revealed! Vandin held his shield over his head to protect his torch from the waterfall, and he exclaimed, “There are stairs leading down!”

The party descended the stairs in their accustomed marching order. At the bottom of the stairs, the hallway turned 90 degrees to the left. When everyone made it to the bottom, they all felt creeped out. While the stonework of the walls was of much the same construction as the upper level, these walls (and the floor) were covered with numerous streaks of iron rust and what looked to be dried blood. In addition, there were many humanoid skulls inset with the floor stones! It was also eerily quiet, with no dust or cobwebs. Everyone could feel the hair stand up on the backs of their necks. Lightstep asked, quietly, “Does anyone else feel a chill run down their spine?” Tureg answered, “Yes!”

The party started down a long, straight hallway. After about 40 yards, the hallway turned 90 degrees to the right. It then went straight for another 30 yards, although there was a side hallway to the right about 30 feet down the hall. They could see that this side hall led into a chamber, and that the former door to that chamber had been charred to cinders. Looking into the room, it was about 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide, with three charred skeletons on the floor. One of the skeletons was pointing to a charred, broken podium that was lying on its side. There was also a broken Circle of Protection on the floor, as well as a burned book. The book appeared like the fire had started inside it and burned its way out through the cover.

Falafela carefully examined the broken Circle of Protection, and then the charred podium, but found nothing of interest. Opalent wanted to examine the burned book, but Lightstep tried to talk her out of that action. Douag said that Opalent should examine the book, but when all was said and done, Opalent decided to leave the book alone. They all then left the room and continued on down the dark hallway. They turned the 90-degree corner to their right, went another 30 feet, then the hallway widened to 20 feet wide for 30 feet. There was also a recessed door on their left. Vandin checked that door, and was able to open it with several pushes of his shoulder….

This is where play had to be suspended. What lies behind the door? What other surprises lie in wait for our intrepid party of adventurers? Stay tuned for future adventure postings!

(to be continued)

The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot: Part 1

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

DM note: This is a longer post than usual, as it gets back into what Dungeons & Dragons players and characters live for, a “Dungeon Crawl” where the characters go down into an underground labyrinth in search of treasure.

Day #2-29 (Fireday, 9th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): The party awoke the next morning in Karnack’s castle and found the weather had cleared with bright blue skies and with only a few scattered clouds; however, after their heavy drinking of the previous evening, Vandin had a minor hangover and Douag was nursing a major hangover. Fortunately for him, Vox had no after-effects of his drinking. By around 8:00 am, they were all at breakfast, eating hotcakes with syrup, and sausage links. Falafela mentioned how she really enjoyed the hot breakfasts, as she was getting really tired of eating hardtack along the trail. Around 9:00 am they were all summoned to see Karnack in his tower. When all of the party (including Douag) were assembled, Karnack addressed them. “The past day and a half, my scribes and I have been very busy indeed. We have scoured through all of my books and tomes, and I believe we have found something that may aid you in your quest.”

Karnack continued, “Decades, if not a century or more ago, the cleric Koban Hairfoot was a great and powerful healer in the region. He grew up from humble beginnings to become an ardent warrior of his holy faith. Koban survived many adventures with several groups of adventurers and his fame and fortune grew, as did his skill in the clerical arts. Koban specialized in the creation of healing mixtures and made a habit of curing plague victims, as his own parents succumbed to disease when he was very young. Many villagers owed their lives to Koban’s tireless pursuit to finding healing methods to diseases that afflicted the land. Koban’s quest to cure disease finally led him to his demise in a remote part of the Anshar Forest. There, among his comrades, Koban fell at an old dungeon complex. Out of respect the local gentry helped build his crypt to honor his memory. In the years that have passed, most folks of the region have forgotten the location of the crypt.”

“It is known that Koban found the Necklace of Harbinge, indeed, he was reportedly buried with it. That necklace is a gold, crescent shaped device with opals and turquoises, on a gold chain. It can be used with a gold chalice of high value to create a potion that can cure many diseases. But, Koban was looking for another, even more powerful artifact, the Pendant of Winstone. The pendant is gold, mostly round with a sort of handle on one side, and a large jet-black jewel in its center. Reputedly, the pendant must also be used with a gold chalice of high value.”

“Bring ye back those artifacts, and we may be able to devise a cure for the villagers of Crystal Shores!”

“I will send 5 of my cavalry with you as an escort. Two of them will carry crossbows. They will escort you as far as the entrance to the forest. I will also send my ranger, Clayton, to guide you through the forest to the tomb.” Karnack motioned to a tall woodsy looking fellow wearing brown with a deep green cloak who was standing behind him. “He has visited the site of Koban’s crypt in the past, although not for a few years. And, to save you all walking, I will send two wagons with teamsters to drive them. They will take you to the entrance to the forest, but cannot go farther because the trail into the woods is only wide enough for foot travel. They will also take a few woodcutters with them and will return to the castle with loads of wood. They will return to the same location the following morning, along with the cavalry, and can provide transportation back to the castle.”

Before the party left Karnack’s presence, Opalent presented him with a gold ring (with one of the small opals from Bella Dora) that Opalent made in the craft shop. Karnack thanked her for the gift.

It was finally around 10:00 am when the party had checked their gear and were all set to go. Between then, they had 25 person-days worth of rations (mostly hardtack and jerky, with a bit of dried fruit) and a whopping 31 torches. They loaded into the wagons and were on their way. The teamsters drove their teams west along the cart trail that followed the south shore of Bridgefield Creek. Around three miles from the castle, the cart path crossed over to the north (left) bank across a small wooden bridge. It should be noted that the creek averaged about three feet deep, with a few shallower places and a few places where the depth reached as much as 6 to 10 feet. The creek flowed towards the east, towards the village of Bridgefields. The party tried to glean any information they could from the teamsters and woodcutters, but they didn’t know much about the interior of the Anshar Forest. They said they only went as far into the forest as they needed in order to haul out enough timber to load their wagons. The cavalry escort, for the most part, were too far away to speak with, as they were scouting ahead and on the flanks of the wagons.

After about a 45-minute wagon ride, during which Vandin had napped almost the entire way and Douag was moaning with his hangover every time his wagon hit a bump (the wagons were basically buckboards with sides, but without any sort of springs). When the party dismounted at the entrance to the forest, the guards repeated that they would be back with the wagons the following morning. Then Clayton spoke to the group. “We will start out walking on a good trail. It will wind around a bit, and after a few miles it will reach the shore of the Bridgefield Creek. We will then follow the north bank of that stream to the west for another three miles or so. That second three miles will be much harder hiking as there isn’t any permanent trail to follow. Make sure you keep close together, and make a minimum of noise. We will take a lunch break when we reach the creek.”

By 11:00 am the party entered the forest. The trail started mostly south, but once made a sharp turn to the right to loop around an obstruction and seemed to be heading back north for a quarter-mile or so, then made another left turn to head back to the southwest. Falafela was especially keeping track of the windings of the trail, and periodically looked back to see what the trail looked like heading the other direction. When the party had penetrated about a mile into the woods, a large pack of birds (they looked like finches) took noisy flight. Clayton wasn’t sure if the party had spooked them, or if something else was the cause. He halted the party, motioned for silence, and directed them to rest to the side, just off the trail. He then went and scouted ahead, alone. After about 5 minutes he came back and said, “I believe it was us who startled the birds. The only thing I worry about is that it of course could have alerted others to our presence.”

After about two miles into the forest, where the trail turned from mostly southwest to mostly south, the party could hear what sounded like a horn trumpeting far to the south of them. Could it have been a bugle? An animal sound? Clayton mentioned that sometimes the deep woods played tricks with sound, and not to worry about the sound. This part of the woods was very dense, and it was difficult to see the sky at all. Also, it was rather dark as no sunlight could penetrate through the canopy of leaves above. Although it was still mid-spring, the southerly clime meant the trees filled out with leaves early, and there were a number of evergreen coniferous trees about. If one left the trail, there was a surprising amount of undergrowth, in spite of the low light conditions. Although it had rained steadily two days ago, the ground was barely damp.

Finally, after three miles and about one and a half hours of walking, the party reached the creek. Clayton encouraged everyone to remove their backpacks, rest, and drink as much water as they could, then to refill their water skins. He also mentioned that they would be near the stream all the rest of the way to the tomb, so water should not be a problem. The party also ate, and rested for a full 30 minutes. Then, they hoisted their backpacks once again, and proceeded on their way. At the rest stop, Falafela made sure to mark the trail they would need to use to return the way they had come. It was also noted that the trail crossed the creek at their resting place, and the creek was quite fordable at that place as it was only one foot deep. The water was clear and cold, and quite refreshing to drink.

It took another three hours to cover the three miles or so to the edge of the clearing where the tomb of Koban Hairfoot was located. It was now mid-afternoon, probably around 4:00 pm. The clearing was about 300 yards in diameter, with the creek along the south part of the clearing. The crypt itself was north of the creek, and just about in the center of the clearing. There were a couple of low, gentle rolling hills in the clearing, and on the far side of the clearing was a granite cliff about 50 feet high, with the creek tumbling down the cliff in a waterfall, then into a wider area to make a pond about 50 yards south of the crypt.

Clayton cautioned everyone to silence, and to stay out of sight of the clearing. He said, “This is strange, there is a herd of goats here, maybe 50 or a hundred of them. They were not here when I reconnoitered this area a few years ago. You all stay back in the woods while I do some scouting. Clayton was about to walk to the north through the woods, but Falafela joined him. The duo worked their way to the north of the crypt while staying under cover of the woods, noting that the wind was out of the south so that they were downwind of anybody or anything in the clearing, and that being downwind they shouldn’t spook the goats. That’s when they saw the cyclops! He was fully 20 feet tall, carrying a massive club that looked like a small tree trunk (it was probably 8 feet long). The only garment the cyclops was wearing was a fur loincloth. The duo waited a few minutes, didn’t see any other creatures other than the cyclops and his goats, then silently made their way back to the others of the party.

“Well, we have a quandary on our hands!” related Clayton. There is a 20-foot tall cyclops in the field on the other side of the crypt!” That sparked a bit of a discussion, so much so that Clayton wanted everyone to move farther back into the forest so they wouldn’t attract any unwanted attention from the cyclops. Gwenette stayed at the forest’s edge and kept an eye on the clearing in case anything came their way. The party discussed various methods to deal with the cyclops, including using Clayton’s and Vox’s bows to shoot it with arrows, at which time Vox mentioned that he had never even shot his bow at anything! Clayton remarked that he wished he would have had time to take Vox target shooting and then hunting. Clayton also reminded the party that a cyclops could usually throw a 40-pound rock quite a ways, perhaps as far as 50 yards! One good thing, Clayton noted, was that such creatures usually lived solitary lives so there probably wouldn’t be any other creatures to have to deal with. Vandin took the opportunity of the discussion to take another nap. By now, the long hike and the element of nearby danger had cleared Douag’s head and he took an active part in the discussion.

One of the options discussed were to go and try to steal a couple of goats to get the cyclops to chase, but that idea was shot down with a reminder of the cyclops’ rock-throwing prowess. Finally, it was thought a diversionary fire might draw the cyclops off in the opposite direction, but who would set the fire(s)? Flenda and Jorgio then volunteered for that hazardous duty. Everyone else figured that maybe Flenda and Jorgio would want to do that so they could be alone, as everyone had noticed how the two had been spending as much time as possible in the near company of the other. Flenda had even insisted on walking closest to Jorgio during the hike into the woods.

Between the two of them, Flenda and Jorgio possessed eight torches and enough food for a day or so. Flenda also mentioned they could probably catch a squirrel or a rabbit (or even a goat, chimed in Jorgio) to supplement their rations. They did not own a tinderbox, though, and to avoid them having to search for some flint (of which there was good chance to find some atop the granite cliff, although there was a chance of being spotted by the cyclops before they got a fire going), Vox loaned them his tinderbox. So off they went, as it was now around 4:30 pm, meaning there was less than two hours of daylight left. Clayton reminded everyone that it would be a moonless night, with only starlight to provide natural illumination. And while the dwarves, elves, and halflings all had infravision, it was of limited range meaning a cyclops could be almost upon them before they would sense his heat signature in the dark! At this point all of the party members made sure their water skins were full from the creek.

It took Flenda and Jorgio about 45 minutes to work their way around the south edge of the clearing. They first had to cross the stream, and then they went a hundred or so yards into the woods to make less of a chance of their scent being carried to the goats. They eventually made their way to the top of the cliff to the west of the clearing and saw that the cyclops was seated on a rock, watching his flock, looking quite contented. They then spent about 15 minutes gathering as much brush as they could, and getting it close to the edge of the cliff. Then, about an hour  before sunset, they started a small fire back from the cliff with their torch, and then carried that fire on two sticks to the brush they had gathered. Within a few minutes, the bright yellow flames of the brush were standing out against the dark background of the forest on top of the cliff. At first, the cyclops just gazed with his mono-vision at the flames, but when the human duo of Flenda and Jorgio began to jump up and down, yelling and swinging their arms to attract attention, the monster stood up, and then began to walk in the direction of the cliff.

Flenda and Jorgio knew the cyclops probably wouldn’t directly climb the cliff, but would go to either side of the cliff to gain altitude. When he went to the north side of the cliff, the human pair swiftly ran to the south, going deeper into the woods. Flenda  told Jorgio, “That cyclops will have to crawl to move quickly through the woods, otherwise his head will be up in the branches!” But Jorgio answered, “But what if the cyclops just breaks off the treetops and throws them at us…?”

When the rest of the party noticed the cyclops heading toward the cliff, they moved fast. They quickly crossed the 150 yards of open ground to the crypt, trying at all times to keep the crypt between them and the cyclops so that if the cyclops would turn around, he wouldn’t see them. The crypt itself was made of rough-hewn gray granite blocks, fitted together. The building was about 110 feet wide across its entrance, and a bit longer than that in its depth. At its tallest point, a granite domed roof, it was 25 feet high. At its front, facing the pond in the creek to the south, were several wide granite steps leading up to its entrance. The entrance had two black wooden doors, reinforced with iron bands, each door measuring 8 feet tall and four feet wide, making an 8 foot by 8 foot aperture. The doors had evidently been barred and locked from the outside, but they had been forced open from the outside previous to the adventurers’ arrival. The party was slightly out of breath when they reached the crypt, and then one by one they turned the corner of the building and crept into the dim entrance, watching to ensure the cyclops did not see them.

Once they were all within, Gwenette stood watch in the shadow inside the doors, watching to see if the cyclops was headed back their way. Inside the tomb, they noticed a strong body odor, most likely from the cyclops’ bedding. In the southeast corner inside the crypt was much debris, mostly old rags and some dirt and branches. There were also a number of animal (and possibly humanoid?) bones littering the interior, and some animal flesh, apparently the remains of a recent dinner. “At least the cyclops didn’t ‘do his business’ inside the place where he slept!” said one of the party, possibly Tureg. Besides the debris, the floor was made of white marble with gold veins in it. There were four rough granite pillars holding up the ceiling, and in the northwest and northeast corners of the interior were two circular staircases that went up about 15 feet to an observation deck across the back of the interior. But the main feature of the interior, in the middle of the floor, was a carved marble crypt that resembled a sleeping person on a padded bed, and the bed was suspended on the wings of eagles on all four sides. Around that feature was a red pentagram inlaid into the floor. And, at either side of the pseudo-coffin were two white marble angels, one on each side of the coffin. The angels faced the entrance door, and were in a battle-ready crouch, each holding a marble sword in its hand.

Although it was a little dark inside the building, there was enough of the setting sun to the southwest to illuminate the inside enough for the party to see these features. Quickly the party examined every part of the inside. The marble coffin seemed to be of a single piece of marble, and nobody was able to open it in any manner. Lightstep sensed an aura of some sort emanating from the coffin. Finally, Opalent noticed that one of the angels could be rotated. Then Lightstep verified that the other angel’s arm could move. Opalent turned the angel to the right of the crypt to have it face the marble coffin, then raised its arm. Lightstep then raised the arm of the angel to the left, then rotated it to face the coffin. After that, a loud “click” was heard, like that of a latch being released. Vandin and others were then able to raise the lid.

Some of the characters, particularly Vandin, were ready to grab for the Pendant of Winstone and be on their way, but lo! There was no body inside. Instead, what was presented to the party was a solid white mass of cobwebs! Vandin borrowed Opalent’s 10-foot pole and whisked away the cobwebs as quickly as he could. Then they all saw stairs leading down into a black void. Lightstep and Opalent lit torches, and then Vandin and Lightstep led the way, single file, down the stairs. While this was going on, the ranger Clayton was reminding others that Koban had found a dungeon below ground at this feature, and he was believed to have been buried in the lower reaches of that dungeon. Finally, when all the others had made it down, Gwenette brought up the rear.

The party speculated about what the cyclops would do when he returned and saw the lid to the marble coffin open. They also saw a large lever protruding from the floor at the bottom of the stairs. They quickly surmised that the lever would close the lid, but not wanting to chance possibly locking themselves in, possibly for all of eternity, Opalent used her dagger to wedge the lid so it would not close all of the way while Vandin and Douag worked the lever to close the lid. The party then proceeded down the hallway from the stairs. Inside the hallway, the walls were also of rough-hewn granite, about 10 feet wide with a 10-foot tall ceiling. At random places on the walls were iron sconces, sans torches. The iron of the sconces had surface rust, but were not rusted too badly seeing as they had been installed at least 100 years before. There was not much evidence of moisture.

The party only went about 40 feet when the corridor turned 90 degrees to the left, then back to the right. Although, if they were to have gone straight after the left, they could see 20 feet in front of them what looked like a solid wall of cobwebs. Lightstep used his torch to burn away the webs, and inside they found a circular chamber of 30 feet diameter. They noted that the dust on the floor had not been disturbed, and around the walls, frescoes had been painted many years ago, portraying ordinary life around the area, probably from 100 years or so ago. Some of the areas of the frescoes had peeled off. Douag and Opalent checked for stonework traps and for secret doors, respectively, but detected nothing. The party then went back to the hallway and took the other passage that was formerly to their right, although now it was to their left.

After heading in their new direction for 20 (human-sized) paces or so, the hallway once again branched. Ninety-degrees to the left was another hallway, while if they went straight ahead they could see a right corridor about at the extremity of the light from their torch. They decided to take the left passageway. About 25 paces down that passage was an anomaly in the floor. Right in the middle of the hallway, one of the paving blocks was raised about 3 inches above the normal floor height. Nobody wanted to walk on that stone, lest it prove to be a trap. The party members checked for stonework traps; none were detected. But not wanting to tempt the fates, all party members stepped around the raised block.

About 50 feet past the raised block, there was a side corridor to the right. That side corridor went about 30 feet, turned right, and then had a wooden door another 10 feet down the hall. The other corridor, in the direction the party had been heading, turned left, then back to the right after 20 feet, then went straight as far as they could see with their torchlight. So, the party decided to investigate the right hallway.

When the party came to the door, Vandin tested it, found it unlocked, and pushed it open. It opened surprisingly easy, in spite of no hinge lubrication for decades. Inside was a room about 40 feet long and 30 feet wide. Along the far wall were wooden racks full of wooden weapons, apparently once used for training purposes. Along the long wall to the right, many bones were fastened upon the wall, and in the center of the wall was a large skeleton, apparently of an ogre. The ogre skeleton was fastened to the wall intact, and there appeared to be writing on the wall around the skeleton. Although none could read the words that were written, they did point to various parts of the ogre’s bones, like they were part of training regimen, instructing trainees as to the best places to strike an ogre. Opalent moved in for a closer look at the writing, but as she quickly approached the skeleton, its skull suddenly dropped from its upright position so that its jaw rested on its sternum! This caused a moment’s consternation until Opalent figured it must have just been the air she moved that had caused the movement of the skull. The party did a thorough look-around of the “training room,” then departed.

After leaving the training room, the party resumed their original direction of travel, away from the raised stone in the hallway floor. The party’s marching order at this time was Vandin & Vox in the front, followed by Gwenette and Lightstep, then Falafela and Opalent, then Clayton and Tureg, and Douag was the rear-guard. Lightstep and Opalent were carrying lit torches. After several left-right 90-degree bends in the corridor, they came to a dead end at a wooden door. With a little bit of effort, Vox was able to push the door open. Inside the door was a room about 30 feet long and 20 feet wide, and it looked to have once been an armory. There were overturned empty weapon racks, with some old, rusted, broken weapons strewn about (such as broken sword blades and broken spear shafts), and a large wooden chest against the wall in the back of the room. As the party moved into the room, they noticed two full skeletons on the floor, mixed in with the debris. Vandin wasn’t taking any chances with the skeletons — he immediately set upon the skeletons and crushed their skulls with his hammer. Lightstep then prayed for the souls of the departed, whomever those skeletons may have been in their previous lives.

Falafela then went to the large wooden chest and checked it for traps, but didn’t find any. Not taking any chances, though, Vox then borrowed Opalent’s 10-foot pole and used it to open the lid of the unlocked chest. A quick observation showed the interior of the chest was empty. Vox and Lightstep then made a closer examination of the chest, and determined it had no false bottom or other secret storage areas. Vandin then kicked the chest in disgust. Opalent then examined the floor under the skeletons and the right side wall for secret passages, but found none. By this time the party’s two lit torches were about half-burned, meaning they had been in the dungeon about 30 minutes.

The party then retraced their steps, using the same marching order as above, until they once again came to the raised stone in the floor. Vox really, really wanted to step on that raised block to see what would happen, but several party members vociferously talked him out of that action. Vandin did a close examination for any stonework traps, and being satisfied that there were no traps, the party pushed on, once again carefully avoiding stepping on that raised stone.

About 10 (human-sized) paces past the raised block, the party re-entered the passageway to the surface. But instead of heading right towards the surface, they instead took the left passage, towards the unknown. About 30 feet or so, the hallway branched to the right, and they took that passage. After another 50 feet, the hallway split to the left and to the right. After 10 feet in either direction, there were closed wooden doors. Falafela was brought forward to check the door on the left, but didn’t find any traps. Vandin tried to open the door, but it was stuck, so he applied his hammer to it, and the door popped open. Someone towards the rear of the party commented, “If there is anyone or anything else around, they now definitely know we’re here!” Inside the room were several broken bunk beds, and some broken clay pots. The party did not spend much time in this room. The torches were about 2/3 burned by now, so the party had been in the dungeon about 40 minutes.

Falafela then returned to the hallway and went to the door on the right. She once again searched for any traps, and once again found none. Vox tried to open the door, but it was stuck. He put his shoulder to it, but still could not budge it. Vandin then brought forth his hammer and smashed the door open. (After all, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like it should be smashed with your hammer, n’est-pas?) Inside the room, the party saw more broken bunk beds on their sides, but also piles of loose bones. Some of the bones were wrapped in cloth, and the tattered cloth appeared to have been sliced by edged weapons. One of the piles of bones had an old rusted broken sword blade embedded in it. It did appear that a battle had taken place in this room, many years, perhaps even a century, ago. When the party looked closer at the bones, they found four humanoid skulls. Douag speculated that this room must have been a barracks or a guardroom, and it looked like the guards and been attacked and slain. There were also four intact, closed footlockers present.

The party then determined what was in the four footlockers. Vox checked the first one — it was empty. Falafela next checked one, and it was also empty. Opalent checked the third, although she was warned not to lest she trigger a trap, but it was merely an empty footlocker. Falafela then checked the last footlocker, and it, like the others, was devoid of contents. Lightstep said, “It looks like someone else has already cleaned out this place.” It should be noted that while in the room, Vandin did not feel compelled to smash any of the skulls.

So they all went back to the main passage, Vandin and Vox once again in the lead, and turned right to continue in their original direction. After 30 feet, the corridor turned 90 degrees to the left. After another 60 feet, the corridor branched to the right, and five feet into that branch was a closed wooden door. The party also noticed that if they would have gone straight, there appeared to be another passage diverging to the right not too far down the hall. But since the party was trying to be systematic about their explorations, they decided they must first see what there was to see behind this door. Of course Falafela did the obligatory search for traps, and when none were found, Vandin took his turn at trying the door. He was able to open it by degrees by putting his shoulder to it, but it squeaked and squawked ferociously all the while he was forcing it open.

Inside the door, the party proceeded about 30 feet when the hall widened into an octagonal chamber that was about 30 feet across from one parallel wall to its opposite wall. In the center of the room appeared the final resting place of Koban Hairfoot. Upon a marble table with the words “Koban Hairfoot” etched in its sides was a glass coffin, or at least a glass covering over the bones of Koban Hairfoot. Surprisingly, there was not too much dust on the top of the glass. Koban himself, or at least his skeleton, as all that was left of him was bones, was wearing a crown and a gold and jewel encrusted surcoat. Next to his body was his silver holy symbol, and a broken footman’s mace. It was at this time that the two torches were nearly burned to extinguishment, so the party lit two new torches (supplied by Vox and Gwenette). This marked about 60 minutes they had been below-ground.

When the new torches had been lit, the party noticed the murals in five of the angular walls of the chamber. From left to right, the murals depicted these scenes: 1) a young cleric watching what looked like cultists killing a family, perhaps the cleric’s family; 2) a cleric (presumably the same cleric) with an adventuring party; 3) that same cleric and his party posing with a slain green dragon; 4) the cleric healing peasants; and 5) that same cleric meeting his demise from electrical lightning bolts. Then four of the party, Vox, Clayton, Gwenette, and Opalent, lifted the glass covering off of Koban’s tomb and gently set it upon the floor. The party then examined Koban more closely, and inside his surcoat they found what looked like the Necklace of Harbinge, one of the artifacts that Karnack had mentioned had been buried with Koban. It was in the shape of a crescent moon, with a number of small opals and turquoises embedded in it, and was attached to a golden chain. Lightstep took the Necklace and placed it around his own neck for safekeeping. No other possessions of Koban were disturbed, and then Lightstep prayed most reverently over Koban for several minutes. When Lightstep had finished, he directed the party to replace the glass lid.

While all of the above was taking place, Tureg was watching their back-trail down the corridor. And Douag said he recognized the murals as being the story of Koban’s life. And since there was a door on the left side of Koban’s burial chamber (relative to the other door from which they had entered), Vox tried the door. As the hinges were on his side of the door, Vox pulled the door towards him. The door squeaked only a little, and opened with relatively little effort. Outside the door, which was set back about five feet from the main hallway, were passages going to the left and to the right, although the right passage turned to its left after a short distance. The party reckoned that the left passage led back to the hallway outside the other door to Koban’s chamber, so they proceeded to the right. At about this time Opalent made the observation that “Vox is learning to pray!” Lightstep answered with “Praying for wealth is not praying!” Vox then said, “I just want to find the Pendant and get out of this place!”

After the initial left turn of the hallway just after they left Koban’s chamber, the hall went straight for 90 or a hundred feet, then turned right. After another 30 feet, the hallway dead-ended, although there was a door on the right-side wall at the dead-end. Naturally, Falafela checked for hidden traps, and finding none moved back so Vandin could open the door. He had to put his shoulder into it, but with a moderate amount of squeaking the door opened. After a short passage inside the door was a sort of diamond shaped room, roughly 20 feet deep and 30 feet wide. It was quite apparently a library, as bookshelves lined all the walls inside the room, and the shelves were filled with old books. In the center of the room was a 4-foot square wooden table with two chairs. There were also some books and loose papers scattered about on the floor.

While Vox stood guard in the hallway outside the room, Opalent speculated that there might be a book here that could explain how to use the Necklace of Harbinge or the Pendant of Winstone! Lightstep cast a Detect Magic spell, but detected no magical auras. Opalent wanted to check the bookcases for secret passages that might lie behind them. And Vox leaned into the room and offered the suggestion to check the books and papers on the floor.

(to be continued)

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: What lies ahead for our intrepid party? Will they find the Pendant of Winstone? Will they all return to the surface alive? Check back in the future for more adventures!

Read The Tomb of Koban Hairfoot – Part 2

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The Third Day

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

DM note: at last the party arrived at Karnack’s castle, although not without a bit of night-time excitement!

Day #2-27 (Waterday, 7th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) By this time, around midnight, Lightstep was getting too tired to stay awake. He decided to wake Flenda to stand his watch. He also said he had been unable to sleep due to worrying about the evil ring they were carrying to Karnack’s castle. In the meantime, Falafela stayed on the hill to keep an eye on the other camp with the campfire. At this time, Vandin was snoring, although not loudly, and it sounded like he was saying “stones stones stones” during his exhalations. When Flenda and Tureg then took over the watch, they were informed about the horse snorting nearby. While Tureg stayed in his party’s camp, Flenda went to the top of the hill to observe the other camp. By this time, even the starlight had winked out as the sky had totally clouded over, and the wind picked up a little as it seemed a weather front was starting to pass through. After Flenda had attuned her eyes to the dark and had watched the campfire from a distance, she silently crawled on her belly like a reptile through the knee-high grass towards that other, mysterious, camp.

Around 3 am, Tureg woke the next watch pair of Gwenette and Jorgio. Tureg informed the duo that Flenda was on the hill watching another camp, and cautioned them to keep their voices low. Gwenette climbed the low hill, but although she moved back and forth on her side of the hillcrest, she could not locate her sister. Finally, Gwenette noticed, even in the almost total darkness, what looked like some bent grass leading towards the other camp. Gwenette also looked towards the campfire, and she thought she saw her sister sitting around that fire with several other people. So, Gwenette did what was reasonable for the daughter of barbarians to do — she too crawled towards the other camp. As Gwenette got close to the other camp, she could hear her sister’s voice, and could recognize the Karzulun language. So, when Gwenette had made it within about 20 feet of the camp without being detected (she was downwind of the horses), she finally stood up and said, “Flenda, you shouldn’t go sneaking off like that! You had us all worried!”

Then the four Karzuluns, led by Jen Jise, all stood up and welcomed Gwenette. They said, “Damn! Your father did a good job teaching you two to move silently. We never heard either of you coming!” So the girls sat and enjoyed the warmth of the fire, while telling their long-lost friends of their recent adventures. The girls mentioned how they had been captured by orcs, and got a ribbing about that from the Karzuluns. The girls mentioned how they had been careless to go berry and herb picking away from their village without taking any weapons. The tale continued with the story of their rescue by their friends on the other side of the hill. The raiders were finally impressed when Flenda displayed the two orc ears she had taken as a trophy from Losnoth! Finally, when it started getting lighter in the east (there would be no sunrise as it was totally overcast), the girls decided they should go back to their own camp, and they invited the Karzuluns to come along. So, the two girls and the four men and the men’s four horses all walked quite casually towards the girls’ camp.

By this time, the entire camp of adventurers was wide awake, and had lookouts posted on the hill, so they saw the others approaching them. They weren’t sure if they were about to be betrayed, so they had their weapons at the ready. But Flenda hailed the party, saying, “You’re not going to believe this, but we found some old friends of our parents! Our father used to ride with these rascals!” So then when the two parties met, introductions were given all around. Jen Jise mentioned (using the common language) that if this group was good enough to rescue Flenda and Gwenette from a nest of orcs, then they were worth keeping company with. After a quick bite of food (the Karzuluns had their own food in their saddlebags), the party departed towards Karnack’s castle to the north. The Karzuluns walked their horses alongside the others, asking questions about the particular quest the group was on. The Karzuluns mentioned they would only accompany the party to the castle, but they would not enter the castle as they (the Karzuluns) were usually not on good terms with other people. Although the main party had traveled many miles in the past two days, they quickened their step with the freshening northeast breeze bringing promise of a spring rain.

Finally, the group arrived at Karnack’s castle around 10 am, passing by fenced gardens and pastures with goats, sheep, and cattle. The Karzuluns then said their farewells, mounted their horses and rode back to the south. Approaching the castle from the south, the group could see a wall made of gray fitted stone that was about 80 yards wide and about 20 feet high, with crenellations atop the walls. There were also two towers, one on either side of the main gate, the towers being about 30 feet high. The main gate itself was made of two heavy wooden doors with iron reinforcement, each of which measured 10 feet tall and eight feet wide. The castle itself was also atop a hill that was about 20 feet taller than the surrounding countryside, and a somewhat steep switchback road led up to the gate. At the castle gate, a guard who was above the gate hailed the party. “Halt! Who goes there?” Lightstep and Opalent did most of the speaking, mentioning they had come to see Karnack, and that they had been sent by Herschel Gobinmyer of the village of Crystal Shores. The guard said, “Hold your places.” There was about a 10 minute delay as another guard took a message to Karnack. Finally, the gates opened, and the guard said, “Enter!”

Inside the castle courtyard, the group could see a stable to their right, and past the stable was a partially enclosed building with much firewood. To the left was a privy, and also a row of two-story wooden buildings nestled up against the inside castle wall on the side. To the far left was a keep with a large square tower on top, with the top of the tower at least 50 feet above the ground. To the far right was another inner wall, with a smaller tower that measured about 40 feet high at the far corner. Directly across the courtyard, about 75 yards away, was another wall, and quite noticeably, atop that wall was a large crossbow that could fire more than one bolt at once, and that crossbow was manned by guards and was aimed right at the party! There were also a number of small carts in various locations in the courtyard, and various civilians going about their tasks. The party, which numbered nine, also noticed that there were nine guards around them in the courtyard. The guards were all clad in scale mail, carrying large gray shields emblazoned with a black diagonal band. The guards were all also armed with sheathed long swords and wore small iron helmets.

A lieutenant of the guard spoke. “Karnack will see two of you at this time. Please follow me.” With that, the guard turned on his heel and Lightstep and Opalent followed him, followed by another guard. The lieutenant led into the base of the eastern tower, then inside the wall towards the east. Then the wall turned north. After more than 50 yards in this new direction, the group passed through a wall into a barracks, then ascended a circular stairway to Karnack’s tower. Karnack, a human of about 60 years, stood about 5’5” tall, weighed probably 150 pounds, sported a fu manchu moustache, and was bald except for a light-gray turban that was secured in its front with a red feather through a gold medallion. He also was wearing a long medium-gray robe with some brocaded decorations woven into it (sort of like a paisley pattern).

After introductions, Karnack bid Lightstep and Opalent be seated on two padded chairs that were of a dark wood with red velvet on the seats, and the two guards retreated to the stairway, where they remained at attention. Karnack then sat down behind his desk. Karnack spoke, “I understand you were sent here by Herschel Gobinmyer?” Lightstep answered, “Yes. He wrote out this letter to you.” With that, Lightstep removed the rolled scroll of gray parchment from his ivory scroll tube and handed it to Karnack. Karnack, after examining Herschel’s seal that had been impressed into the sealing wax, then broke the seal and began to read Karnack’s letter:

Spiritday, the 5th of Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC

The olde village of Crystal Shores

My Dearest Olde Friende Karnack,

A couple of weeks ago, the village of Crystal Shores was beset upon by a strange pestilence. A number of the villagers developed sore throats, then began to cough frequently, then some of them “turned” into a sort of mindless creature who then attacked other villagers, apparently in an attempt to bite those other villagers! Two of the villagers “turned” and had to be killed to prevent them harming others. Others then burned their bodies in an attempt to prevent the spread of the pestilence, although I had wanted to examine the bodies to see if I could detect any reason for the malady.

These strange happenings began about a month ago when a traveling cleric passed through our village, and then shortly thereafter, four more men, three fighters and one magician, passed through Crystal Shores, seemingly in pursuit of the cleric. We never saw any of those individuals again. At about the same time as those individuals passed through, two of our village’s young maidens, Flenda and Gwenette Deathmar (daughters of Vilan and Vilanious) disappeared. At the time, we sort of wondered what had happened, but nobody from the village wanted to go searching for the girls, believing that they would show up of their own accord, as, after all, they both are quite the free spirit.

In any event, about two weeks after they disappeared, the girls came back to the village, escorted by a party of adventurers who had rescued the girls from some orcs who held the girls captive at the old ruins of Losnoth, which is about 15 miles due south of Crystal Shores. The girls related their story of how they had gone off berry picking in the jungle to the southeast of the village and had been surprised and surrounded by the orcs, even though it was in the daytime. As it was, just as the orcs were about to sacrifice Flenda on an altar in the interior of the Losnoth ruins, the party of adventurers who stand before you now were in the vicinity and heard Flenda’s scream. The party then came to her aid, slaying the nine orcs at the interrupted sacrifice without loss to themselves (although one of the dwarves in their party was gravely wounded). Flenda then directed the party to where her sister Gwenette was held captive, and the party slew several more sleeping orcs. As a bonus, the party also freed two gentlemen, names of Fredo and Jorgio, although Fredo has recently been killed at Mont du Plat.

When the party returned the girls to the village, they related all of the above to me. While the sisters returned to their parents home, the other adventurers stayed the night at our local inn, only to find the innkeeper, his wife, and daughter had turned into “zombies” (for want of a better word) overnight. The party managed to capture the folks from the inn rather than killing them, then came to me straightaways to relate what had happened.

Now, I had been developing a theory that something had poisoned the local water supply from the lake and river, and that that something had started poisoning the water shortly after the cleric and his pursuers had passed through Crystal Shores. I state this because I have not developed any of the signs of the illness, but then again I do not drink the local lake water. I collect rainwater, and also make spiced pumpkin ale from my large pumpkin patch, and eat mostly vegetables from my own garden. There are several other villagers who do not as of yet show any signs of sickness either, and they seem to also drink more of other beverages than lake water. For example, we have a local goatherd where he and his family mostly drink goat’s milk and eat the meat from their goats they have slaughtered themselves–none of them are sick. However, several fishermen and others who are routinely near the lake have fallen to the sickness.

Now, although I only briefly spoke with the traveling cleric on his way through our village, he said he was on his way to the ruins at Mont du Plat as he had heard there was a valuable artifact somewhere in the ruins. He planned to retrieve that artifact and return it to his church so they could convert it into money or some such plan. However, it seems that the cleric’s pursuers somehow knew the cleric was going to Mont du Plat to find some valuable relic, so they no doubt had plans to relieve him of that valuable bauble.

So, back to the party who stand before you. They were entreated to travel to Mont du Plat to see what they could find. What they found were several more zombies in the dungeon of the old ruins there, and the party had to slay those zombies, although losing two of their party in the battles. I formerly mentioned Fredo; they also lost the dwarf Persis. The party believes that four of the zombies they killed were the pursuers, as three of those zombies were clad in armor, and the fourth was dressed as a mage. They also found the body of the dead cleric, and that cleric’s backpack and diary. The diary mentions how the cleric found the ring in the ruins; I have enclosed that diary for your perusal.

But the most disturbing thing the party found was that the cleric’s arm had been severed, apparently in a fight with his pursuers, and his arm had fallen down the underground well. The party then recovered the arm from the well, and, on the ring finger of the hand of the dead cleric, was the ring the adventurers will now present to you. I pray you DO NOT TOUCH THE RING! It does appear the ring has the power to convert ordinary persons into zombies, and it seems that while the ring was in the well, its evil was able to be transmitted through the water to our downstream village. It should also be noted that us villagers have noticed the fish were so lethargic that they could easily be caught by hand, and some of the forest animals, such as deer and even wolves, have been seen acting queerly where they would just wander somewhat aimlessly. That ring does radiate a powerful aura of evil, so beware!

I have consulted my books of lore, but could find no reference to such a ring. I pray you can find information about the ring, and of even more importance, I am dearly hoping you can discern a method with which I can restore the sick villagers back to their former health. Please help us! If you can, we will be eternally in your debt.

As always, your most obedient servant,

Herschel Gobinmyer

Karnack mostly read it aloud, relating the party’s story of how they rescued some human captives from orcs at Losnoth, then after returning two young maidens to their village of Crystal Shores discovered that villagers were getting sick from some mysterious malady. The village druid, Herschel, had been unable to determine the cause or to devise a cure. Then the party visited Mont du Plat and found the evil ring that had apparently been polluting the water that flowed downstream to Crystal Shores. Karnack read, “… the ring the adventurers will now present to you. I pray you DO NOT TOUCH THE RING! Hmmm,” Karnack continued, “let me see the ring.” With that, Lightstep very carefully opened the bone scroll tube, and gently dropped the ring in its wrapping onto Karnack’s desk. Karnack then used a couple of wooden picks, much like chopsticks, to open the wrapping. He beheld the ring with its numerous small skulls for the first time, and let out a low whistle. He then finished reading aloud the letter from Herschel.

Charnalite ring

The ring that was found at Mont du Plat.

“It does appear we have a quandary,” said Karnack. “I have learned of such mischievous magics in the past, but do not directly recall such a ring. I must consult my tomes to see if I can discern any information about it. In the mean time, you and your companions are all my guests.” Karnack then spoke to the guards at the stairway. “Lieutenant, return these two guests to their companions, and make sure they are all well fed. Arrange baths for them, if they wish. Also provide them lodging in the west wall.” Just before Lightstep and Opalent left (leaving the ring and the bone scroll tube with Karnack), Karnack mentioned that it would most likely take him at least a day to find the information, even with the help of his scribes.

Lightstep and Opalent then retraced their steps to the courtyard, along with their guards, and then were ushered, along with their companions, to one of the larger wooden buildings inside the west wall of the castle. This building was the castle’s civilian mess hall. It had four eight-foot long wooden tables with wooden benches on two sides of each table. The dinnerware was ceramic, with the flatware being of beaten iron. Just about the time the party entered the building, the skies finally opened, and it began to rain a hard, steady, cold rain. The party was treated to the best meal they had enjoyed in a while, enjoying rabbit stew with carrots, onions, and potatoes, and fresh baked bread. There was plenty of salt and pepper for seasoning, too. Fresh cow’s milk was supplied to wash it all down.

While enjoying his meal, Vandin espied another dwarf sitting at another table. Since the other dwarf appeared to be a fighter, Vandin approached the other dwarf with a friendly greeting. Vandin was taken aback momentarily, however, when the other dwarf responded in a less than cordial manner, saying something that sounded like “go pluck yourself!” After a moment’s hesitation, Vandin asked if the other dwarf would like to join the group, promising an equal share of any treasure gained. With that, the other dwarf revealed his name as Douag (pronounced “doo-agg”), and agreed to join. Vandin then regaled Douag with tales of slaying five orcs in a row at Losnoth as they kept coming through a door one at a time. And then Flenda impressed Douag even more by showing him the two orc ears she had taken as a trophy!

After the meal, the party rested and was shown to where they would be quartered for the night inside the western wall of the castle (to get there they had to enter the ground level of the western tower beside the main gate, then travel inside the wall). Wooden walls had been erected to create separate rooms along the inside wall, with wooden doors for each room. On the floor in the rooms were mattresses stuffed with hay or moss, and there were plenty of woolen blankets. Some civilian servants asked if anyone wanted to bathe, and also offered to wash clothes for anyone who desired such. Plain gray robes were offered for anyone who decided to partake of bathing or clothes-washing. Lightstep wanted to find out what was in the vial of clear fluid he had procured from Mont du Plat, so he decided to take a small sip. He decided it tasted like plain, ordinary water, although he still wasn’t sure was it was. Eventually, the party all retired for the night in the rooms assigned to them.

— The Dungeon Master

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The Second Day

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

We now leave the action at the spider farm south of Rushtu’un, and return our attention to the other group of adventurers who are traveling to Karnack’s castle.

Day #2-26 (Airday, 6th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) The party were all awake by 6 am, ate some food, then began their march towards Karnack’s castle once again, with Vandin and Vox in the lead, as usual. The day promised fair weather, as at dawn there was not a cloud in sight. They continued to march mostly towards the northeast, always keeping the Braztook Hills at least a couple of miles away to their right. Fortunately, Herschel Gobinmyer had given them a fair map and had mentioned prominent landmarks to navigate by. The group reached the road between Ganzir-Galad to the west and Fenshaft to the east about an hour before noon, so they lay down behind a low hill where they could not be spotted from the road, and ate lunch and rested for about 30 minutes. They then crossed the road, turned mostly north for another five miles, then were able to resume their northeastern course. Finally, in the late afternoon, after journeying about 20 miles, they made camp again. After dinner, the party realized they had collectively eaten about half of the rations they had started this journey with. They reckoned it should be OK, though, as they reckoned they should only have another 10 or 15 miles of marching to reach Karnack’s castle on the morrow.

Before retiring for the night, again without a campfire, the party decided on their night watch order: 1st watch: Vandin & Vox; 2nd watch: Falafela & Opalent; 3rd watch: Lightstep & Tureg; 4th watch: Gwenette & Jorgio. Vandin and Vox stood their early watch uneventfully, and then around 9 pm Falafela and Opalent took over. As it grew darker, there were only the stars for light, as the moon was a late-rising moon. Toward the end of their three-hour watch, both Falafela and Opalent heard a horse snort just on the other side of the low hill to the east of the party’s camp. Lightstep had been awake since making camp, as he was worried about his dangerous cargo of the evil ring that had been found at Mont du Plat, and he too heard the horse. So, he decided to sneak to the top of the low hill and see what was on the other side. Maybe 75 yards away was a small campfire, and Lightstep could make out the shapes of several horses and possibly several human-sized shapes near the fire.

— The Dungeon Master

Journey to Karnack’s Castle: The First Day

Friday, January 15th, 2016

This post begins the journey of the group from Crystal Falls to Karnack’s castle. The wise old druid of Crystal Falls, Herschel Gobinmyer, had directed the party to travel to see Karnack to see if Karnack could discover anything about the evil ring that had been found at Mont du Plat, and to see if anything could reverse the apparent zombie curse that had befallen Crystal Shores.

Day #2-25 (Spiritday, 5th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC) The party arose from Mylene’s loft around 7 am, then gathered up the girls and Jorgio from the Deathmar’s house. They all ate as much food as they could, then departed the village of Crystal Shores around 8 am. They decided, since they had to march around 60 miles, that they should pace themselves at about a 2 miles-per-hour speed. Around an hour after high noon they reached the ruins of Mont du Plat, crossing over to the north side of the south branch of the River Bushkill on the low bridge. They then traveled past 6 buildings, a few of which had the stench of death about them. The party did not stop to investigate, though, as they were in a hurry to reach Karnack’s castle. The druid Herschel Gobinmyer had actually tried to get the adventurers to rest an extra day before they began their trek, but they all felt good enough to start as soon as possible.

About an hour after passing through Mont du Plat, the party stopped for a 30 minute long lunch break and rest. (They had also been resting for 5 or 10 minutes per hour of marching.) Then they resumed their march. After around 10 hours of marching, at about 6 pm, they had left the river behind (it was merely a creek at this point, anyway) and finally emerged from the jungle and into the clear. They could see that ahead of them was mostly clear terrain, with a few scattered low hills to their front, and they could plainly see the Braztook Hills on their right, to the east. They decided to make camp at this time, as they had already marched at least 20 miles. They made no fire, lest it attract any unwanted attention. They ate dinner, then posted a paired watch of Opalent and Vox, then Falafela and Vandin, then Flenda and Lightstep, and finally Gwenette and Jorgio, each pair standing watch for three hours. When Falafela and Vandin were standing watch, they heard a loud crash from the direction of the jungle, right near where they had been marching during the day. They surmised it was merely a dead tree falling, and since it did not wake anyone else up, they decided to just watch even more intently, but nothing else occurred during the rest of the night.

— The Dungeon Master

DM note: To make it easier to read the adventures in proper chronological order, I have added a link in the sidebar under “Fantasy Role-Playing” that points to the D&D Adventure Log. You could even bookmark that link, if you enjoy reading these adventures.

Zombie Encounter at Mont du Plat

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

After our party of intrepid adventurers escorted Flenda and Gwenette back to their home in the village of Crystal Shores, they discovered unexpected adventure awaited them early the next day!

Day #2-24 (Fireday, 4th Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): Fortunately for our intrepid party of adventurers staying the night at the Inn of the Blushing Trout in Crystal Shores, the night passed uneventfully. However, upon arising the next morning and heading downstairs from their bedrooms to the main room of the inn, the party found that the innkeeper Sathe Lidorn, his wife Beefa and daughter Lido had all turned into living dead “zombies.” A pair of the zombies attempted to attack the party, but since the zombies were rather slow, the party was able to herd them, holding chairs like lion tamers, to get all three zombies behind the bar in the main dining room area. Then the party corralled the zombies by stacking a couple of tables across the bar opening into the main room. They then quickly repaired to tell Herschel and Wider about what had transpired. Herschel convinced the party they should make haste to go to Mont du Plat. Herschel also said he would get some other villagers to try to more properly restrain the innkeeper’s family.

The party did stop at Vilan’s to see if Flenda and Gwenette wanted to go along to Mont du Plat, and they did, after speaking to the druid Herschel, who mentioned to them they could do a good deed by helping to find the pestilence that was affecting their fellow townsfolk. The party did stop by Mylene’s to obtain a 5-gallon wooden keg, and then Herschel cast a spell to Create (pure) Water in the keg, so at least the party knew they would be starting off with some clean water to drink, as Herschel once again reiterated he thought there was something wrong with the water in the village. The party then lashed a couple of long poles to the keg to make it easier to carry, and especially enlisted the help of Jorgio and Fredo to help carry the water jug as they were unencumbered with any heavy armor.

Then, after a hasty breakfast of jerky and hardtack, although most of the morning was gone, the party departed for Mont du Plat to the east. They followed a trail along the south bank of the south branch of the River Bushkill. There was a jungle to the south that approached very near to the river, so the party kept an eye out for any marauding orcs or other troublesome creatures that might be hidden in the foliage.

Finally, the party arrived at Mont du Plat after a journey of about 10 miles that took about four hours, also drinking a bit more than half of their water supply. They noticed a bridge over the river to their left with a line of what looked to be several houses on the other side of the river. They also saw that the river seemed to come out of a cave higher up on the hill in front of them, and then there was a waterfall with another wooden bridge crossing the river about 50 feet higher than the party’s current elevation. Instead of crossing the river, the party took the road to the right, which started uphill at a healthy angle. They first passed a ramshackle farmhouse on their left. That structure had a severe lean or tilt to it, and looked like it would fall over at any minute. Next was a house of stone walls with a wooden shingled-roof. It had a corral but no animals in it. Next was a sod house with a thatched roof, and then finally a fairly well maintained wood frame house with its front door barely hanging on by its top hinge. Most of the old village looked like it was very run-down, with buildings that hadn’t been cared for in some time.

After another 20 yards or so, the party reached another fork in the road. They stayed to the left, heading back towards the river, still gaining elevation, but not so steep as before. After a left-right chicane-type bend in the road, eventually the road took a sharp right turn, with an old blacksmith shop on the inside of the bend. Behind the smithy were some medium-density woods. If the party had gone straight ahead on the road, it would have crossed the river on that higher wooden bridge that they had seen when they were 50 feet lower. The group could also see an old miller’s residence across the river, and its water-wheel was still being turned by the river, and the water wheel was still turning its grinding wheel, although nothing was being ground between the millstones. The waterfall in the river began just past the miller’s water wheel, to the right of that high bridge. From this position the party could see the road continued higher on the near bank of the river, and there was another wooden footbridge just above where the river debouched from the rocky hill.

The party took the right fork in the road from the smithy’s place, gaining another 10 feet of elevation. The road paralleled the river, and the adventurers saw a stone arch with a large opening in it off to their right. They left the road to investigate that arch, and saw it had stairs leading down into the dark underground. Behind that stone portal the party could see trees, and scattered amongst the trees were broken rocks that looked to have once been the foundation or walls of a building, although there were no standing walls any more. Without any further ado, the party got out some torches, lit them, and proceeded to head down those stairs, although they left their water keg outside the entrance to the stairs.

At the bottom of the winding stairs in the dungeon, the hallway turned abruptly to the left. About 60 feet further on, the hall turned to the right, and immediately after that turn another hallway went to the left (as well as straight ahead). The party took that left corridor at that first intersection. They soon came to a rectangular chamber whose ceiling had partially collapsed in its center, making an hourglass-shaped room. The room had a very foul odor, and many rats were scurrying about. There was also a whistling noise coming from the other side of the room. The party could also occasionally hear some shuffling sorts of noises, but could not determine their direction of origin. The floor was covered with slippery green moss, and party members Falafela, Opalent, and Tureg lost their footing and fell on their backsides, getting covered with the slimy moss, while trying to cross the room. Eventually the entire party made it through the partial collapse in the middle of the room to the far side of the room and discovered another passageway at the diagonally opposite corner, which they continued down. This hallway also quickly turned right, with another branch hallway to the left just after the turn. The passage straight ahead was blocked by a cave-in after 20 feet or so, so the group decided to investigate the passage to the left.

The passage opened into a room that was about 30 feet by 60 feet in size, and one corner opened into a larger, semi-circular area, although that additional area had seen a cave-in and so its size could not readily be determined. This chamber was also dry, including the floor, so the party didn’t have to worry about slipping and falling like in the previous room they had traversed, although this room did also have an unpleasant odor. The whistling noise that had heard in the previous room was louder now and was determined to be coming from somewhere in the caved-in area in this chamber. There were some scraps of timber on the floor, but nothing else to discover, so the party retraced their steps. On their way back through the hourglass-shaped room, Lightstep, Persis and Gwenette managed to fall on the slippery moss on the floor, and Falafela fell a second time, thus getting more thoroughly covered with the stinky slime.

After exiting the mossy-floored room, the party went to their left, down what had previously been the “straight ahead” hallway. They eschewed taking either of two hallways on their right that they passed, instead bearing straight ahead where they finally entered a large chamber after traveling about 100 feet. Their two torches could not light the entire chamber, but they could see that the room must have been elegant, once. The walls still had some remnants of carvings, although they had been eroded by years of water dripping down them. The floor was rather muddy with some standing water, except for some large piles of rubble that had collapsed from parts of the ceiling. As the party noted there were some wide steps on the opposite side of the room from whence the party had entered that led up a raised dais. While the party was engaged in looking at the walls and the dais, they suddenly became aware that they were about to be attacked by four zombies!

The 11 members of the party quickly fanned out to meet the zombie attack, with Lightstep, Persis, Tureg, Vox, and Vandin meeting the attack head-on, and with Falafela, Flenda, Fredo, Gwenette, and Jorgio maneuvering to get behind the zombies for attacks from the rear. Magic-user Opalent wisely stayed out of the fray, and was ready to render first aid to anyone who may have needed it. As it was, the party quickly dispatched the zombies. Vandin first felled one with a mighty blow from his hammer. Falafela backstabbed one zombie out of existence while Jorgio proved his worth by dispatching two zombies with well placed backstabs with his short sword. Vox was the only member of the party who received any battle damage from the zombies, but it was merely a flesh wound.

The party then left that chamber through the opposite passageway, which was at the far end of the room, about 90 feet away, along the same wall they entered by. That corridor ended quickly in the straight-ahead direction, due to a cave-in, thus the party took its right turn and went down that hallway instead. After close to 100 feet, the corridor turned to the right, then after another 40 feet or so it made another right turn. After another few feet, the corridor opened into another chamber. Falafela ventured into the room by herself, without a torch, and managed to not fall down even though the floor in this room was also covered by slimy moss. She heard some footsteps in the dark, then quickly retreated to join the rest of the party in the hallway.

The party waited for the zombies in the room to come to them at the corridor’s mouth. While one zombie slipped and fell down in the middle of the room, two zombies made their way to where Vox and Vandin were waiting to receive them. Vox took some damage from a zombie, then fell back, his place in the front rank quickly taken by Tureg. Then Vandin took some serious damage from the other zombie and fell back; Flenda took his place in front.

While Lightstep cast two Cure Light Wounds spells on Vandin and Vox (the spells were not very effective), Flenda cut down one of the zombies. The other zombie got knocked off its feet and Flenda, Tureg, Fredo, and then eventually Lightstep entered the room. Tureg slipped and fell on the slimy floor, but the others stayed upright. Flenda quickly dispatched the fallen zombie, but the other zombie that had earlier fallen had got up and made its way to the party, killing Fredo with its first attack. Flenda then worked her way around behind that zombie and backstabbed it down, never to rise again. Naturally, Fredo’s brother, Jorgio, was heartbroken at the loss of his brother. He did not want to go on. Some of the party also thought it would be wise to make their way out of the dungeon at this time to lick their wounds, but the sisters from Crystal Shores, Flenda and Gwenette, reminded everyone that their fellow villagers were falling sick and becoming zombies, and they wanted to try to find the source of that mysterious malady as quickly as they could. So, the party, minus Jorgio who stayed behind with a torch to watch his brother’s body and keep the rats away from it, pressed on.

The chamber they were in was L-shaped, and after they turned into the left leg of the “ell,” there was another passage leading out of it. However, there was an irregularly shaped pit about 10 feet deep across the mouth of that passage. Flenda and Opalent jumped across the pit first, then tied a rope to Opalent’s 10-foot long pole and braced it against the floor of the passage as an aid to others who would cross. One-by-one, the party crossed at the narrowest part of the pit where it was only three feet wide. The only casualty was Vandin who fell into the pit and took some minor damage. He would have been injured more severely except he had a grip on the rope and so didn’t fall too hard. The party then fished him out of the pit with the rope. After they all got across the pit, they then traveled about 70 more feet and then turned left into another chamber that was about 30 feet by 40 feet in size. Part of the left-hand sidewall was collapsed, making a pile of rocks about 3 feet high and about 5 feet in hemispherical diameter.

This chamber contained four more zombies, and while all of the previous zombies the party had encountered in this dungeon were dressed as simple villagers, three of these newly encountered zombies were clad in chainmail and were carrying swords, and a fourth zombie was wearing a robe fit for a wizard. During the initial melee, the dwarf Persis was killed by one of the fighter zombies. While other fighters were battling the zombies, Opalent took off her backpack and got out her only flask of oil. She then grabbed Falafela’s cloak, doused it with the oil, and put it on the end of her 10-foot pole. She then lit it with a torch, and dropped the flaming cloak on the head of the nearest zombie. While that zombie was burning to its extinction, another zombie took some minor damage from the blaze. The party also recognized that the flames were holding the other zombies at bay, seemingly fearing the fire. Opalent and Falafela then boldly led the way into the room with their torches and forced the three remaining zombies back. The other party members all scrambled into the room, staying close behind the two torch-bearers except for Vandin who scrambled up and over the rock pile along the wall. Eventually, the party members changed places with the zombies and then Falafela and Opalent used the burning torches to push the zombies back down the hallway the adventurers had used to enter the room.

After a couple of minutes, the zombies were maneuvered to the edge of the pit the adventurers had crossed. The torch bearers, Falafela and Opalent, then maneuvered the zombies so they fell into the pit. The party then formed a sort of “bucket brigade,” passing larger rocks from the rock pile in the room down the hall to Vandin and Vox, who threw the rocks at the zombies in the pit until those zombies were no longer moving. The party then took a short break in the hallway to eat some jerky and hardtack, and to drink from their waterskins, as the recent battles had temporarily exhausted them all. They also lit new torches, as their old torches were just about burned out.

Falafela examined the burnt zombie back in the room, and found 25 GP in its belt pouch, and passed two turquoises and a clear rock crystal she also found to Opalent. Someone also observed that the dead wizard-zombie in the pit had a bone scroll case looped over its neck and shoulder with a leather strap. Opalent tried to fish the strap with her 10-foot pole, but was unsuccessful as the strap was too firmly wedged under the dead zombie’s body, so someone lowered Falafela into the pit with the rope to retrieve that scroll case. Falafela declined to check any other belt pouches on the other zombies for fear of catching a zombie disease. Falafela said she figured the belt pouch on the burnt zombie had been purified by fire, hence was not dangerous, so she didn’t mind pinching its contents.

The party then left the room with the rock pile through a different passageway than which they had entered. After about 40 feet there was a hallway on their right, but they eschewed traveling in that direction at this time. After another 60 feet or so, there was a side passage to their right. They checked that right-hand passage, thinking it would lead them back to the formerly elegant chamber in which they had battled four zombies earlier, but after about 80 feet or so that corridor was blocked by a cave-in. So, they retreated down the hallway and went the direction they were headed before investigating that side passage. After a quick left-and-right turn it went straight for about 60 feet, then turned right. After another 30 feet, it turned right again and opened into a round chamber, about 30 feet in diameter, with a well with a raised stone wall in the middle of the chamber. Leaning against the well was the dead body of a cleric, missing its right arm. There was also much dried blood splashed around the chamber as if a great battle had taken place there.

When the party looked down the well, using a torch for illumination, they could see the surface of the water about 20 feet below. There was also a large sausage-shaped object bobbing on the water. That object was the size of a human arm, most likely the missing arm of the dead cleric who was leaning against the wall of the well. There was also a rusty chain with a bucket suspended from the ceiling on a pulley, so the party tried lowering the bucket to capture that floating arm. But try as they might, nobody could get the arm into the bucket. Lightstep then used his last spell, Detect Evil, and there was much evil radiated from the direction of the arm in the well. Therefore, it was decided to lower Falafela into the well to retrieve the arm. Falafela was tied to a belaying rope, and due to her not wanting to touch the ghastly arm lest she be turned into a zombie, she held another rope with a lasso loop in it. When she was lowered to near the water level, she was able to slip the lasso loop around the arm and tighten it, all without actually having to touch the arm. Then, after Falafela was raised out of the well, the party raised the arm, exceedingly carefully, it may be said! The party noticed there was a large, unusual ring on the ring finger of the hand on the arm. The ring had numerous skulls carved into it, and gave everyone the creeps. Nobody wanted to come close to touching the ring, so it was decided to wrap it in Opalent’s black cloak, then tie it to the center of Opalent’s 10-foot pole. Flenda and Gwenette volunteered to carry the ghastly thing on the pole.

The party then decided it was well nigh time to depart the dungeon. On their way back, Falafela ventured into the side passage they skipped on their way to the well (this time carrying a torch). It was a sort of library, although dilapidated, mostly by water that had dripped down from the ceiling. Some mice were eating some old food in one corner. Shelves of books and scrolls lined two walls, and in one corner was a small desk with a small stool, with a small backpack under the desk. On top of the desk was some writing parchment, and while most of the inked words were illegible due to water damage, Falafela could clearly read two words, “I’m sorry,” written in the common language of the realm. The inkwell had been toppled over, and all of the ink had dripped onto the floor and had dried there. Falafela quickly perused the spines of the books on the shelves, but most were either incomprehensible, or else were too damaged to be of use. So Falafela grabbed the backpack from under the desk, and after sliding the backpack out from under the desk, noticed there was a bone scroll case that had been under the backpack, so she also retrieved that scroll case.

When Falafela rejoined the party in the hall, she mentioned what she had seen in the room. Vox volunteered to carry the newly found backpack. Some now-anonymous person in the party suggested using the desk as a bridge over the pit they would have to pass on their way out, so they carried the desk with them (it was neither large nor heavy). Just as the party was finally on their way out, they heard a large booming sound with an echo, as if another part of the ceiling somewhere in the dungeon had collapsed. They quickly got to the room where Persis’s body lay, and took a few minutes to cover it with a cairn made of the rocks from the rock pile. Vandin also took Persis’ sword with him. Next, the party placed the desk across the pit leading into the next chamber, so they were able to cross the pit and the dead zombies in the pit without further incident. They found Jorgio in the chamber where they had left him, sitting alone in the dark with his brother’s body. Jorgio expressed how he was very happy to have the party rejoin him, as his torch had burned out probably 30 minutes ago, and he realized he should have asked for one or two spare torches to be left with him!

Jorgio gathered up his brother’s body, and carried it over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. The party then retraced their way through the formerly elegant chamber, then down the long hallway to the left turn, then another right turn, then up the steps to fresh air. The adventurers were all happy to be out of the dark, damp, dank Mont du Plat dungeon. Jorgio realized they would have trouble carrying Fredo’s body all the way back to Crystal Shores, so they quickly improvised a grave, burying Fredo under another cairn of rocks made from the waste rocks laying around the woods that had formerly been part of the Mont du Plat castle. While Fredo was being buried, Vandin impaled Persis’ sword in the ground, and said a short prayer to his fallen comrade. The party also freely drank pure, fresh water from the water cask they had left outside the entrance to the dungeon.

The party then spent the next several hours trudging back to the west to Crystal Shores, lugging their now almost empty water keg with them. About halfway back, they saw a lone wolf, which appeared to be a normal, and not a zombie, wolf. When the party reached Crystal Shores, although it was already dark, they went to visit Herschel the druid straightaway, although Flenda and Gwenette went off to their parents’ home, taking Jorgio with them. Herschel, being informed that the arm and/or ring radiated evil, first cast a Dispel Magic spell upon them, followed by a Detect Magic spell. The Dispel Magic spell evidently failed, as the arm/ring still radiated magic. Herschel then went through the backpack that Falafela had fetched, and found several items: a silver holy symbol, a small flask with a clear fluid in it, presumably water, a book about the dead cleric’s faith of Gairel, two days worth of iron rations (that nobody present wanted to eat!), and, hidden in a fold inside the backpack was a small coin purse that contained 18 GP and 40 SP. The best of the items, though, was a small diary. Herschel started to read the diary, noting that the cleric’s name had been Austius. The diary noted Austius’s career in the clergy. Most of it was rather boring, but near the end, Austius noted how he had found the ring in the dungeon at Mont du Plat. He also noted how he had detected an evil aura about the ring, but was unable to let it go, instead being seduced by its power. But there were no entries that tied the ring to any sort of zombie curse. Falafela mentioned the pages on the desk with the words “I’m sorry,” and Herschel surmised those pages may have been Austius’ next diary entry, or part of a new diary.

The party also surmised (as did Herschel) that the cleric had found the ring, but had then been surprised by the four adventurers who had pursued him to Mont du Plat. In the ensuing battle, it seems that the cleric had managed to turn his slayers into zombies, but not before losing his arm and bleeding to death near the well. Herschel was now convinced that it was the ring in the well that was poisoning the water downstream towards Crystal Shores, but as a precaution he was still going to cast a spell to create pure water for a week or so, and tell the remaining villagers to not drink the lake or river water for at least that period of time. Herschel also mentioned that one more villager had turned into a zombie during the long day in which the party had been away, that being Simius Soderman, the wife of Baduk Soderman, the carpenter. She had been confined to her home. There were also zombies confined in the Inn of the Blushing Trout and the Tavern of the Cracked Mug. Herschel had also found that the tinker, Melchar Furrowbrow and his wife Vinar and his young son Loftus (all gnomes) had been found to be zombies, but must have been so for a few days already.

Herschel expressed that he still hopes to find a cure that will turn the zombified villagers back into their former selves. He spent the rest of the evening consulting his personal library, but could not find any mention of a ring such as was found at Mont du Plat. He mentioned a wise sage friend of his, Karnack, who has a castle to the northeast of Ganzir-Galad. He suggested that the party venture there after they rest for a day or so. Herschel also cast two Cure Light Wounds and one Cure Serious Wounds spells on Vandin and Vox so they were fully cured of their wounds from their battles at Mont du Plat.

Experience points: Monsters killed at Mont du Plat: 11 zombies (20 XP each, plus 2 XP per HP) = 11 * 20 + 141 HP * 2 = 220 + 282 = 502 XP. The party captured three villager zombies at Crystal Lake; they will receive their XP for that (because it was good to capture the villagers instead of killing them as the villagers may be able to be cured): 3 zombies (20 XP each, plus 2 XP per hit point) = 3 * 20 + 2 * 33 HP = 60 + 66 = 126 XP. (Total of 628 XP for capturing/killing monsters.) Treasure: 43 GP, 40 SP, 1 bone and 1 ivory scroll case (worth 5 GP each, or 10 GP total), = 55 GP equivalent. The party also found two magic-user scrolls, Continual Light and Nystul’s Magic Aura, and a cleric scroll, Create Water, in the found scroll tubes, but will not receive XP for them unless they are sold. Also, 1 backpack, a silver holy symbol, a vial of clear fluid, 2 days worth of iron rations (which were discarded due to health concerns), two turquoises, and a clear rock crystal, which were all together worth the equivalent of 149 GP. So, the total money (and equivalent) XP value is 55 +149 = 204 GP equivalent.

Total experience points: 502 + 126 + 204 = 832 XP total. This needs to be divided by five regular characters (each gets a full share) and four non-player characters (each gets a half-share). Fredo and Persis, NPCs who were killed, do not get any shares. This makes 14 half-shares to be divided, so 832 / 14 = 59 XP per half-share (Flenda, Gwenette, Jorgio, Tureg), or 119 XP per full share (Falafela, Lightstep, Opalent, Vandin, Vox). The fighter Vox gets a 10% XP bonus due to his Strength of 16, so he actually earned 131 XP.

Before the party retired for the night, they divided the treasure thusly: Falafela: 9 GP, small coin purse; Flenda: 1 small turquoise; Gwenette: 1 small turquoise; Jorgio: 7 GP, 40 SP, leather backpack (from Austius); Lightstep: 9 GP, ivory scroll tube, clerical scroll with Create Water, glass vial with a clear liquid, silver holy symbol of the god Gairel (from Austius’ backpack); Opalent: 1 clear rock crystal, 2 magic scrolls with Continual Light and Nystul’s Magic Aura; Vandin: 9 GP; Vox: 9 GP. Tureg said he did not need any of the treasure as he had just inherited 21 PP and 135 EP from his fallen comrade Persis. Herschel kept the book about Gairel as well as Austius’ diary.

It was decided that the bone scroll tube they found would be used to carry the evil skull-head ring to Karnack’s castle. Lightstep agreed to carry it himself, just before the party were about to cast lots to see who would carry the evil thing.

Also, before the party retired for the night, Flenda and Gwenette’s parents, Vilan and Vilanious Deathmar saw that their daughters were each equipped with leather backpacks, wineskins, and wool blankets. The parents also ensured their offspring each had 7 days worth of jerky, dried fruit, and hardtack to take with them, as well as four torches each. The girls also scrounged up a wineskin for their friend Jorgio, and made sure he also had 7 days worth of food and 4 torches. Tureg searched through the village and found another 4 torches for him to take along, also.

Then Flenda, Gwenette, and Jorgio retired for the night at the Deathmar’s house, with the other party members sleeping in the loft of Mylene Ackmard’s barn. It was decided that two party members should stand watch at all times throughout the night, just in case one of them turned into a zombie in the middle of the night. Lightstep and Vandin took the first watch, with Vandin relating the story of how he received his “Lakesplitter” surname from a distant relative who was said to have cleaved a lake in two. The rest of the night passed without incident.

Total accumulated experience points: Lightstep 605; Vandin Lakesplitter 576; Falafela 566; Opalent 566; Vox the Just 309; Tureg 271; Flenda 74; Gwenette 61; Jorgio 61.

— The Dungeon Master

Will the party ever find a cure for the zombie villagers? Keep reading future posts and find out!

Journey to Crystal Shores

Monday, December 21st, 2015

This is another installment related to some Dungeons & Dragons adventurers.

Day #2-23 (Earthday, 3rd Dewsnap, 4333 BCCC): Finally, after several days’ rest, the party departed from Elwood’s citadel early one morn, when the dew was still heavy upon the grass. They were Falafela the halfling thief, Lightstep the halfling cleric, Opalent the elven magic-user, Vandin Lakesplitter the dwarven fighter, Vox “the Just” the human fighter, along with their dwarven fighter pals Persis and Tureg, and also with the rescued captives from Losnoth, Flenda and Gwenette and Jorgio and Fredo. This time the party took all of their possessions with them, including their money, as it was uncertain when they would get back to Elwood’s citadel. On the two previous trips to Losnoth they had left most of their money in the care of Elwood. They followed the familiar path along the stream to the northeast towards Losnoth, but when they drew near to that place, they skirted it and turned north instead. Just before they turned north from Losnoth they all also drank their fill from the small stream, and filled all of their water-skins to the brim. Several miles north of Losnoth the party came upon the half-eaten remains of an animal, most likely a deer, probably half-eaten by the roving leopards they had been told about when at Elwood’s citadel.

Along the journey, the sisters mentioned how some of the villagers near their home had started coming down with some mysterious illness just before they were captured by the orcs. People had become lethargic, got sore throats, and then started coughing. They were hoping they would find everyone well when they got home. They also hoped their parents were well and hadn’t worried about them too much.

Finally, about 15 miles north of Losnoth, and about 25 miles total from Elwood’s citadel, the party came into the small fishing village of Crystal Shores, which lay along the south shore of the diminutive Crystal Lake. The sisters Flenda and Gwenette pointed out some local places to the party, particularly the Inn of the Blushing Trout and the druid’s residence, and then the girls left the party to rush home to re-unite with their parents.

First, the party went to the Blushing Trout and spoke with the innkeeper, Sathe Lidorn. Sathe and his daughter Lido attended to the adventurers while Sathe also mentioned that his wife, Beefa, was sick and in bed. Sathe seemed to cough more than would seem healthy when serving food to strangers, and Lido was strangely pale and sickly looking, so the party decided to just eat their hardtack and jerky they had toted from Elwood’s instead of eating who knows what. The party then went next door to Mylene Ackmard’s barn. Mylene mentioned how she was trying to establish a stop on a caravan route, and while she had three wagons ready to roll, she hadn’t acquired any draft horses to pull the wagons just quite yet.

Next, the party paid a visit to the resident cleric, Wider Veldar, at his church dedicated to the Goddess Koassek. Wider asked the party to kindly leave their weapons outside the shrine when they came inside to talk, and Vandin stayed outside to guard the armory. Wider confided to the party that he was quite concerned about how everyone was getting quite sick. He also repeated the story (first told by Sathe and Mylene) about a lone cleric who had traveled through Crystal Shores about four or five weeks ago, followed by a party of four adventurers. They all traveled upstream along the river to the east. While neither the cleric nor the adventurers ever returned to Crystal Shores, it was shortly after their passage that village folks started getting sick. Wider mentioned how a number of villagers seemed to think that the passing cleric and adventurers had something to do with the illness, but Wider is mystified how they could have caused anything like what was happening in the village. The party also noticed that Wider had quite a large pumpkin patch behind his church.

The party then continued downslope towards the lake, stopping at the residence of Herschel Gobinmyer, the druid. Herschel was a bit older than most of the other residents of the village, and he invited the party to partake of some delicious spiced pumpkin ale that Hershel brewed himself. Herschel mentioned that he noticed a number of sickly animals in the area in addition to the humans, and he was mystified because he couldn’t cure the disease in any of his animal friends. He also related the story of Zeb and Trigo, two villagers who became sick and then turned into sort of “living dead” creatures who started to attack other people. Trigo was a dwarf who used to dig for coal in the vicinity, and Zeb was a fisherman. He pointed out the plume of black smoke to the northwest along the lakefront that was Trigo and Zeb’s funeral pyre. Herschel said he wanted to examine the bodies to see if he could glean any information, but the other villagers were afraid of the two dead bodies coming back to “life” again only to attack more people. The villagers also wanted to contain any spread of the disease, so they burned the bodies. Herschel also confided that he thought the cleric and/or adventurers who traveled to the east may have caused the illness somehow. He also mentioned the ruins at Mont du Plat, about 10 miles east along the river. He strongly suggested the party travel there to try to get to the bottom of things, to see if they could determine anything that might be causing the pestilence that was plaguing Crystal Shores. The party tried to invite Herschel to join them in their quest to Mont du Plat, but he remarked that he was too old for any more adventuring.

The party then went to visit with Flenda and Gwenette’s parents, Vilan and Vilanious Deathmar. Vilan was the town’s leatherworker, and when the party approached his residence, Vilan had a large aromatic (meaning it smelled really bad) pot of boiling leather in front of his place. Vilan admitted that he was the person who had to kill Trigo, as Trigo and Zeb were about to attack another villager and that villager’s wife. Vilan, who also had a darker complexion than other villagers, admitted to being a “barbarian from the north.” While he thanked the party profusely for rescuing his daughters, he mentioned how the girls came to be so warlike. He said they just naturally took after their father, although Vilan also said with a chuckle, “But if anything, at times their mother is even more warlike than me!” He said he queried Flenda about the two orc ears on her belt, and he said how he had smiled when she related the story of being rescued, but then after having her bonds cut she was too late to join in the slaying of the orcs who were just about to sacrifice her, so in her frenzy she at least took a “trophy” of the ears!

The group then went to the Inn of the Wasp and spoke with its proprietor, Enaldie Gryni. One feature of Enaldie’s place is the large fishing net set to catch drunken guests who might fall off his elevated porch. While there were a few other patrons in the place, none of them would speak with the party. In fact, most of the other patrons were shooting dirty looks in the party’s direction. Enaldie did get Opalent, Vandin, Persis and Tureg to try his special drink, the “Wasp Stinger,” for a silver piece per drink. Most of the others merely had ale for 3 copper pieces each. Fortunately, the “Stingers” did not have any bad effects on the party, and when they found that they could not rent rooms at Enaldie’s inn due to ongoing renovations of the sleeping area, the party decided to go back to the Blushing Trout to procure rooms for the night.

While most of the party headed back to the Blushing Trout, Lightstep and Opalent did a little more exploring. They traveled northeast along the lakeshore, passing the boarded up home of Zeb along the lakefront, and then poked their heads into the Tavern of the Cracked Mug next door. There were three men in the tavern, clustered around the bar. None of them seemed to notice the door opening. Lightstep and Opalent then decided the prudent course of action was to retire from the scene, closing the door behind them.

The party then retired for the night, with the males in one room and the two females Falafela and Opalent in another room, while Flenda and Gwenette slept in their own beds at their parents’ home. Since none of the males of the party quite trusted Jorgio and Fredo, the other guys took turns staying awake “on watch” to make sure none of their possessions vanished in the night. They were all glad to have beds to sleep in after having hiked 25 miles or so during the day’s journey to Crystal Shores, and except when on guard duty, they all slept quite soundly.

— The Dungeon Master