“The Delving Band With No Name”, Session #4

by mshrm

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ:

  • Alric Redbeard, barbarian lockpick (PC)
  • Gabby, pirate lass with two rapiers and poor impulse control (PC)
  • Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, diplomat and travelling musician (PC)
  • Needles, thief making himself at home in the dungeon (PC)
  • The Knight Of The Blood Oath, like Shepherd Book, thinking he’s on the wrong ship (PC)
  • “Dobby”, goblin with a serious case of hero-worship for Alric; works for free (NPC)

Rumors Gathered:

Metal spiders that spin no webs are sometimes found in dwarven ruins. They’re particularly found around dwarven temples and holy places.

The elves carve obsidian into guardians for their holy places. Any jaguar statue carved from obsidian might be one of their servants.

The very highest levels of the dwarven delves were stables for their giant eagles. The dwarves would build their sky-stables with multiple entrances, to make it harder for an enemy to pin them down.

Phisbul the Red was a famous delver a generation ago. His greatest find, his enchanted staff, returned to the delves, when he carried it with him on his doomed last expedition. Phisbul claimed to be following a map to the treasure vaults of the king of the dwarves.

 

What Happened:

Having found Rhos’ “fine turnip” and realizing that it was made of orichalcum, TKotBO took it to the home of Strang, where he met with Mamu, who agreed to bring the object to his master’s attention. He turned over a receipt for the object, and they met again upon the following day. Strang had applied his tests and determined that the turnip was, indeed, one of the objects he was interested in collecting.

At this point in the conversation, TKotBO happened to look at the sideboard behind Mamu, where he noticed something new: the shield that he had been admiring in the market only a short time before! The manservant “noticed” TKotBO’s interest and offered an even trade, the shield for the orichalcum object. A deal was struck and the exchange was made. Mamu noted that they now had a business relationship, and his master would be open to any future dealings.

TKotBO brought this news to the party as they planned their next expedition to the dwarven ruins. Again, the subject of taking out a loan was talked around, but ultimately fell through. Instead, the party pooled donations and bought several potions. Needles and Jed purchased potion bandoleers, as well. Aside from these capital improvements, the party was beginning to show a certain new-found affluence in other ways. The only piece of loot from the previous delve to not be sold was the mail formerly worn by Ghorbash, which Alric kept for himself. Needles had improved his wardrobe as well, picking up some enchanted leather armor in a dungeon camouflage pattern. Gabby (pleased to get a share at all, after leaving the group at the goblin kitchens) was now packing a rapier on either hip, as well as a brand-new, coiled whip. While the torch Rho had enchanted with Continual Light sputtered out during the week, they had two others enchanted with cold light by the church. Of course, TKotBO showed off his new Rol-X, as well.

The party briefly debated on choosing a name for their fellowship, but nothing beyond jesting obscenities was offered. They quickly moved on to the new business of their next delve. The firm plan was made to re-trace their steps and find the bridge they had heard about.

The next day, they proceeded according to their previous custom, arriving at the entrance to the dwarven ruins in time for a quick lunch while TKotBO bolted on his armor. They approached the entrance, where Gabby drew her rapiers and peeked inside. TKotBO stood outside the entrance and banged his flail on his shield, raising a ruckus designed to attack the attention of any lurking goblins or zombies.

The more keen-eared of the party heard a far-off bellow from the unexplored left-hand side of the entrance hall. They cautiously advanced, with the others rapidly outpacing the more-encumbered TKotBO. Needles heard the sound of a door slamming shut and locking from the same direction as the angry bellow. The four in the lead were just approaching the doorway when the source of the noises, himself, stepped into view. It was an ogre, wearing scale and carrying a great axe. “Hey, you!” he shouted in Goblinistani, “What’s with the racket?”

Jed answered soothingly in the same language, attempting to talk the ogre down. While Needles faded into the shadows and quietly took up a watchful position behind the ogre, Gabby and Alric stood behind Jed, radiating ill-temper. None of the three spoke the language, so they had to take Jed’s word for what was being said. TKotBO hung back at a distance.

The conversation went surprisingly well, to start. Jed admitted that they had been inconsiderate, making so much noise, and apologized for waking the ogre, who was much mollified. They exchanged news, with the ogre offering that there used to be a lot of goblins in the rooms off the right-hand side of the entrance, but there weren’t so many goblins any more. He knew of the bridge, but hadn’t been there in some time. Things got so friendly that he and Jed made a trade, some of the ogre’s “special” mushrooms for a few of Jed’s “special” cigarettes. Then, Gabby decided to snap her whip on the ogre’s backside.

This drew the creature’s attention to the pirate. He mentioned that he thought her actions were cute, and announced his intention to keep her, apparently as some form of pet.

As soon as Gabby snapped the whip, TKotBO took a knee and began to pray for his comrades. In his opinion, attacking a foe during diplomatic negotiations just wasn’t the way things should be done, and he sat out the action that followed.

The three who didn’t speak Goblinistani didn’t care for the ogre’s tone and demeanor, and fell upon him. In seconds, he had been clobbered in four different directions, with Needles sawing at his throat, Gabby poking him repeatedly in his face, and Alric turning lumberjack on his legs; when Jed saw the way the wind was blowing, he even put his baton upside the ogre’s pot helm.

As is his way, Needles pocketed the ogre’s pouch on the sly. This time, however, someone spotted something. Jed noticed the tell-tell gleam of something magic being transferred, but chose to remain silent.

At the same time, Gabby tried to pocket her own loot, coming up with a bottle of rum. In her case, her stealth was ruined when she went for a quick swallow and belched a gout of flame that nearly singed the others’ hair.

Jed took the ogre’s pouch of mushrooms, which nobody else was interested in. TKotBO declared his intention to back-track the creature and advanced in the direction he had come from, looking for the slamming door. The party followed. (Oddly, they left the ogre’s corpse behind, still armored, with his weapons.)

The room behind the ogre turned out to be an old dwarven bakery, with three huge ovens and another chimney shaft that reached the surface far above. While there was an open doorway on the far wall, the only door they could see was to the right. As expected, it was locked. Alric applied his axe with vigor, splitting the door down the middle.

Inside, the party went down a few steps and found the ogre’s crude bedroom. There was a bed, a helm being used as a chamber pot, and a next-door room turned into a mushroom farm. Jed harvested a couple more pounds of “special” mushrooms. On the other side of the room, Needles and Gabby found some steps down to a wine cellar, where they recovered four bottles of wine that didn’t seem to be suffering from any ills.

Growing bored with this line of investigation, TKotBO urged the party back to the target of the day, the bridge. They turned back, returned to the entrance hall, and turned down the large hallway deeper into the ruins.

Along the way, Jed mentioned that they should keep an eye out for any sign of a friend of his, one Jim Kedabra, who had agreed to meet him at the big stone head. When questioned, he described the man that the party had mugged and stripped on the way out of the dungeon on their last trip. With guilty glances all around, everyone promised that they would definitely be watching for him… until Needles spoke up:  “Oh, you mean that guy that ran off naked?”

Before the discussion could get too involved, they arrived at the giant stone head. They turned towards their previous path, finding the area of rough ground that the goblins had previously prepared as an ambush site. Gabby danced across the tops of the stones while the others picked their way through the hard way. Luckily, there were no goblins on ambush watch, so she kept watch while the others caught up.

The party moved on, back to the pit where Rho had died. Surprisingly, they found the illusion covering the pit back in place. While the others crept around the ledge, Alric went to climb down into the pit and up the other side, as he had on the previous trip. Despite lacking the load of Rho’s corpse, this time, Alric slipped and fell into the pit, himself, taking a spike in the foot. Cursing a bit but largely unhindered, he climbed up the far wall with the assistance of a rope dropped by the others.

Their next stop was at the intersection where TKotBO had previously detected supernatural beings. The party conferred in the hall, with TKotBO strongly urging them on towards the bridge, while Gabby and Needles wanted to check out the inhabitants. After only a short discussion, Gabby turned and walked boldly into the room. Needles followed right on her heels.

The two were startled when they stepped through the doorway, thinking they were ambushed. It turned out, there were several statues set up just inside the doorway, looking threatening when seen from the corner of the eye by torchlight. Needles declared that the statues were worth money, but they were quite heavy. Leaving them for the time being, the two rogues turned towards the back of the room. There, the wall had been broken out, giving access to a natural cavern. They could feel heat radiating from the cavern, and see a dull red glow. They entered the cavern, finding themselves facing two men, made entirely of fire, wearing fiery loincloths, playing at fiery dice.

The flame beings, startled, looked up at Gabby and Needles, who looked back, equally startled. As one, the two rogues turned and bolted.

Meanwhile, the others had taken refuge in the room across the hall, finding someone’s rat farming operation. Alric slaughtered a couple of rats and started a fire, cooking up a quick snack. Needles and Gabby entered, slamming the door behind them, and quickly explained what they had seen. After about ten minutes waiting for pursuers, the party decided they should move on.

“Great,” Jed and TKotBO scolded the rogues. “Now we’ve got flaming guys behind us, and they know that they’re behind us!”  Nevertheless, the party moved on to the door to the stairs that were reputed to lead to the bridge.

The stairs rose far beyond the limits of torchlight. Up they went, ended up at a long hallway with carved walls showing a dwarven morality play: dwarves mine and dig, dwarves smelt and forge, dwarves become rich and powerful, skeevy goblins bow down to all-powerful dwarves. The hall continued over one hundred feet before coming to a doorway into daylight.

As the party huddled around the door, they saw the bridge, a span obviously built by dwarves, over one hundred feet long, fifteen feet across, crossing a ravine over white-water rapids. The middle of the bridge was covered by a roof for a short span, with a large stone head atop the roof, facing in each direction. These stone heads were different than the previous ones: the earlier ones were more Olmec-style, with round cheeks, while these were more in the style of Easter Island moai, with high foreheads and elongated skulls. On the far side, they saw a cliff face that had been worked by dwarven hands. There were windows on either side of the bridge, about twenty feet above, and arrow slits above the bridge itself.

Seeing no threat, but feeling terribly exposed, the party paused for a moment on the threshold before Gabby broke cover, running for the middle of the bridge. The others followed, at varying times and varying speeds. As she approached the central roof, Gabby decided to opt for stealth, and dove over the side of the bridge. Luckily, she found sufficient hand- and foot-holds to cling to the side. Not to be out-dared, Needles followed.*

Just as Alric stepped out from under the roof on the far side, they were interrupted by a voice, called from in front of them. “Not one more step!”

A shouted negotiation established that they were under observation. Their spokesman claimed that he had two dozen orcs aiming at them as they spoke. During the conversation, Needles and Gabby moved, hand-over-hand, to the doorway on the far side, and took up positions in the shadows. TKotBO shouted a challenge, saying they could settle this whole thing with a quick, winner-take-all duel. After a moment to confer, the orcs’ spokesman agreed.

Shortly, an orc knight with a couple of attendants stepped out from the far door. He advanced halfway to the party, then stopped. As TKotBO approached, Alric and Jed stepped out from under the roof. At that point, the underhanded ambush was sprung.

The sparkle of a spell flew from the right-hand set of windows to a spot behind Alric and exploded in a shockwave of sound. A Concussion spell! Alric was stunned, while the others resisted. Realizing the duel had become a free-for-all, Gabby and Needles repeatedly punctured the orc knight’s buddies, who both went down without a sound. Gabby advanced on the orc knight from behind, while Needles returned to his concealed position.

The knight’s concealed friends unleashed a volley of blowgun fire from the arrow slits. Jed used a Command spell to force the orc knight to step in front of the darts, giving him cover from them, mostly. The knight turned to run back inside, passing by Gabby, who poked him in the back. Irritated, he turned towards her. This gave TKotBO a chance to catch up, and after a quick scuffle, he bashed in the knight’s skull.

The concealed wizard threw an Explosive Fireball, taking Alric full in the chest. This didn’t take the big man down, but did get him moving. The party members still on the bridge ran towards the far door, dragging the orc knight’s body with them. They made it to the door, but Needles could hear the sound of a heavy tread, advancing…

And, due to the lateness of the hour and the earliness of some of the players’ schedules, against the usual expectation of returning to town between sessions, we called it a night. We’ll pick up there, next time.

It is our way to award experience upon the return to town, not the end of the session. However, we vote for the Cool Point award by the session. In this case, the winner was Gabby, for her dive over the side of the bridge, before she knew just how she was going to survive the dive.

* Notable moment, here: I called for a Climbing roll, and Needles’ player rolled a 17. I stood aghast, trying to figure out the damage for a hundred foot fall onto rocks and rapids. “I succeed,” he says. “Wha-?”  I cleverly responded. “Needles has Climbing at 17. I succeed.” Impressive…

 

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