“The Delving Band With No Name (But We’re Working On It)”, Session #2

by mshrm

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ:

  • Alric Redbeard, barbarian of the far north, carries an axe (PC)
  • Needles, shifty scout, euphemistically speaking (PC)
  • Rho-Nahld, albino priest of Anubis (PC)
  • The Knight Of The Blood Oath, holy warrior of Saturn (PC)
  • Gabby the Cabin Girl, young sailor turned whirlwind of blades (PC)
  • “Dobby”, Alric’s goblin henchman (NPC)

Rumors Gathered:

  • There are giant apes over twenty feet tall in the interior jungles.
  • An adventurer came into town with a big pouch full of dwarven gems to sell, not long ago.
  • There used to be a goblin who would come into town every few months to sell dwarven artifacts.
  • Giant spiders as smart as a man are found in the New World.

What Happened:

After their previous trip into the dwarven ruins, the party split the loot and spent a week in town. Alric scorned the soft beds and solid roofs of civilized man, spent his week living rough outside the walls with his new henchman, Dobby the goblin, and turned up in fine spirits with a load of fresh venison jerky, riding a northern battle cat. (Imagine a long-haired white Persian, scaled up to carry a lightly-armored barbarian into battle.) Rho and The Knight Of The Blood Oath (now going by “Corbin” as a handle for everyday use) spent their week sleeping on straw, guests of the Church. After rounding mocking all three for their choices in housing, Needles rented a room at the inn and got on with the carousing.

Tobias took his share of the loot and vanished, though rumor spoke of him coming into money and buying a cottage in town.

While in town, the party picked up a new member: Gabby, formerly a cabin girl aboard a ship. Through a twist of fate, she found herself in Tembladera, and fell in with our heroes.

The KotBO was approached by a bald man in simple orange robes, who introduced himself as Mamu and offered a sealed letter from his master, Dekter Strang. The letter introduced Strang as a wealthy local with an interest in certain gems and orichalchum objects that he thought might be found within the dungeon. He offered a map of an area within the dwarven ruins as a gesture of goodwill, and furthermore offered to extend them a loan, to be repaid at the usual 3-to-1 rate upon their return, with the possibility of forgiving some of the loan for the recovery of the items he was particularly interested in.

The KotBO brought in the other members of the party to consult. There was a much discussion, with some members pointing out the benefits of better gear, while others were concerned that Strang would double-cross them. Nobody was very interested in borrowing money — or, rather, they didn’t like the repayment rate. In the end, they took a vote on whether they should even acknowledge the offer. The vote was tied when it came to Gabby, who broke the tie with a “yes”. Even so, the only help they accepted was the map itself.

The map appeared to be at least ten years old, with stains and notes in two different hands. Worst of all, they didn’t recognize the area.

Session02-Strang01

Upon hearing the discussion of the map and the mystery of the bridge mentioned on it, Dobby mentioned that he knew of a bridge. He described it as being “beyond the rooms controlled by the tribe of Ghorbash, before the rooms of the orcs”. Heartened by this knowledge, the party got together to march to the dwarven ruins.

This time, the hike went smoother. The KotBO had been working out* and was able to hike at a reasonable pace without removing his armor. Along with Rho’s donkey, the party’s mounts now included Alric’s battle cat and Gabby’s saddle horse. The hike took only about an hour and a half. They stopped for staging one turn up the road from the ruins, eating a quick meal and staking out the mounts. Dobby gave directions – “all the way back, then bear right” – and was left to stand guard.

As the party approached, they could see something hanging over the ruins’ entrance, suspended from the nearer of the two guard towers, but they couldn’t get a good enough look at it to identify it. There had been some discussion beforehand about entering through the manhole previously discovered, but the curiosity about the hanging thing was too much for them. They passed by the covered hole and cautiously approached the entrance.

As they came around to a better vantage point, they discovered that the “thing” was actually a humanoid. In fact, it was one of the big guys they fought last time, a hobgoblin. It was obviously dead, with its head split in two. It was hanging by its arms, with a crude rope tied around its wrists and looped through a pair of arrow slits. It had several bits of metal scrap hanging from lengths of twine wrapped around its ankles. Just as they realized it was one of the hobgoblins Alric had killed last time, it opened its eyes!

Seeing its prey below it, the zombie hobgoblin began struggling and growling, which caused the primitive chimes on its feet to ring. This, in turn, provoked a similar response from the guard tower on the other side of the entrance. The party wasn’t sure what to do about this, to begin with. As they asked each other who could have zombified the hobgoblin and why they would have strung him up like this, they began to hear the shuffling of feet and the sound of undead groans, coming from inside the entrance. A group of seven goblin zombies, all showing signs of slit throats, came shuffling out from the depths of the entrance hall. These were immediately recognized as the goblins who had once been Dobby’s comrades, until meeting their untimely demise a week before.

Rho stepped to the front and presented his holy symbol strongly, as the zombies closed in. In the face of his mighty faith, they turned and began a slow, shambling retreat. Initial jokes about chasing them through the dungeon as a sort of undead hazard-detection force were made, but in the end, Alric and the KotBO jogged up behind the zombies and put them down.

After a quick search showed that the zombies were carrying nothing of interest, being dressed only in their loincloths, Needles and the KotBO went up the stairs to the first guard tower. Halfway up the stairs, on the turn at the landing, they found the crossbow trap that Alric had set off the week before, apparently undisturbed. Figuring it might be useful, Needles set about dismantling the trap. As he did so, he heard a telltale rattle from above, causing him to look up to see a giant spider, over two feet across, descending at them from the ceiling! He turned, and bounded to the bottom of the stair past the oblivious KotBO. As he and Rho watched from the foot of the stair, the KotBO was engulfed in webs from above.

Thinking quickly, Rho cast a prayer of command at the spider, gambling that it was one of the intelligent ones that would be susceptible to such a prayer. “Fall!” he shouted… and the spider let go of its web, falling heavily down the stairs. The KotBO tore himself free of the webs and stomped the spider’s rolled-up body, making sure it was dead.

While Rho dissected the spider’s corpse, hoping to find the silk glands for later sale, Needles went up into the guard tower and cut down the hobgoblin zombie. Gabby and Alric beheaded it where it lay. They then did the same on the other guard tower, disposing of the hanging zombie on that side, as well. Everyone but Rho took a rest in the entrance hall while he completed his grisly task.

Finally, with a handful of bloody spider parts stored away for later, the party retraced their steps from a week before, heading through the entrance hall to the hallway deeper into the mountain, leading to the “T” intersection where the second giant stone head lay. Heeding Dobby’s directions, they turned towards the unexplored right hallway.

They immediately ran into difficulties. Someone had pried up the flagstones from the floor, turning them on their ends. Between the waist-high stones, they could see tripwires at ankle height. The floor itself was filthy, churned-up mud. Travel would be slowed considerably through this section, as they picked their way through the poor footing. No one seemed to want to be the first to enter the hallway.

As they stood and considered, there was a flurry of activity in the darkness beyond the fortified area. A volley of goblin arrows came out of the darkness, followed by the howls and war cries of hobgoblins. Gabby and the KotBO were both hit; Gabby was seriously wounded, taking an arrow in the side, while the KotBO wasn’t even really aware that they were under attack. (The penalties to perception for wearing such a heavy helm, plus darkness penalties, made for difficulties.) Alric flung a burning torch across the intervening space, shedding some light on their attackers.

Rho cast a prayer, and the goblinoids’ position was struck by a blast of thunder, deafening nearly all of them and causing most of the archers to flee back the way they came. Needles had vanished into the shadows at the first sign of trouble, but now re-appeared, aiming a loaded crossbow. His bolt went through the last archer’s right hand, crippling it and causing him to follow his routed comrades.

The hobgoblins, however, were made of sterner stuff. Deaf or no, they rose up from their places of concealment and moved as if to attack.

The KotBO, finally realizing that something was happening, if not exactly what, healed Gabby. She, in turn, drew her rapier and main-gauche and went skipping across the tops of the stone fortifications, ending up right in the faces of the first rank of hobgoblins, cutting the throats of two and sorely wounding a third!

Seeing this, Needles refused to be showed up by the new delver. He attempted to duplicate her feat… but didn’t quite manage the part about balancing on the tops of the stones. He staggered through the field of obstacles, alongside Alric. In the end, the hobgoblins’ nerve broke and they ran, leaving four of their number downed behind them.

The party picked their way across the field and regrouped on the far side, looting the bodies and throwing them back to act as stepping stones across the mud. “Any of them have any coin?”

“None on these two,” answered Needles, coincidentally making sure his pouch was secure.

“Same for these two,” Gabby replied, spontaneously retying her own pouch.**

The hallway took a turn to the left, then turned back to the right, with a door in the far corner. While the rest of the party gathered up the axes and shields of the dead h0bgoblins, Gabby wandered over to the door and opened it, finding a nearly empty 10′ by 10′ room, containing only a broken-down dresser. She called the others attention to the room. Alric stayed in the hall, flatly refusing to have anything to do with anything found in a dungeon that was so harmless-seeming. Needles checked the dresser over for traps, finding none, while Rho cast a prayer to reveal secrets, finding none in the entire room.

Somewhat puzzled, the party regrouped in the hallway. They began to hear a gong being beaten in the distance, from the direction the hobgoblins had fled to. By the time they got themselves straightened out in a battle line, they also began to hear the barking of dogs.

A quartet of slavering hounds came charging from the darkness further up the hall! As they came within the light of the torches, Alric stepped forward and gave out a resounding “Heel!” All four dogs skidded to a halt, intimidated out of attacking!

As the party wondered if that were the extent of the attack, a huge orc, as tall as Alric, stepped into the light. He wore a tunic of scale and carried a greatsword. “You!” he shouted in the tongue of the goblins, pointing at Alric. “What you want?”

Even as the KotBO translated, having learned some of the language from Dobby over the past week, Alric charged the orc, figuring he was Ghorbash, the leader of the local goblin tribe. Needles and Gabby charged alongside him, diving in to cripple the dogs before they could… well, dog-pile the barbarian.

The two big humanoids collided loudly, with Ghorbash taking the worst of it. He was borne to the ground, with Alric landing atop him. Rho had been charging an offensive prayer the whole time, but never got a chance to use it. Needles and Gabby finished with the dogs in no time and joined Alric and the KotBO in beating Ghorbash down. The big orc managed to make it off the ground, to his knee, once… but only once.

In the end, the KotBO finished off the defeated orc, so as to be sure he wouldn’t be coming back as a zombie. Then, Alric chopped off his head for potential use in negotiations with the goblin tribe.

Proceeding down the hallway a bit, the party came to a pair of double doors on the right. Inside, they found a dirty kitchen, with a huge oven and fire pit. There was a hole in the ceiling above the fire pit, acting as a chimney. It being about half past noon, sunlight was streaming directly down the chimney hole. Needles checked the chimney, taking particular note of the difficulty of the climb. The chimney rose over one hundred feet straight up, of rough stone, with a coating of slick soot.

Figuring that this would be a good place to catch their breath, the party barred the door and settled down for a couple hours’ rest. The KotBO healed those with lingering wounds. Everyone shared a light snack, and they settled down for a decent rest before pressing on.

* Meaning, he spent most of his XP from the 1st session on Lifting ST, and fine-tuned his loadout to just barely squeak by with Light encumbrance. Much fun was made of his refusal to pick up anything heavier than a handful of coin, over the course of the session.

** Yeah, there’s two of ’em now. I’m curious what’ll happen when one of the others makes their PER check.

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