- Mississippi Jedadiah Walker, bringer of fire (PC)
- Needles, voted “Deadliest Man In The Dungeon” and awarded the Cool Point for it (PC)
- Posy, cat-folk scout who’s mainly in it for the chance to puncture living things (PC)
- The Knight Of The Blood Oath, a holy knight who has finally decided to get on a first-name basis with the party (PC)
- Trevor, apprentice and walking potion belt (NPC)
- Höss, respected hireling and recipient of friendly fire (NPC)
- Dean and Roman, shield-bearers and possible squires (NPC)
- Bob and Other Bob, two unarmed, unarmored, unwashed hobos without so much as a single “murder-” prefix to their name
Absent, but oft-mentioned and near in our hearts:
- Alric Redbeard, barbarian of The North, learning how to sip ale with his pinkie out (PC)
- Gabby the Cabin Girl, roughing it while her arm-bones grow back in (PC)
- “Dobby”, Alric’s fanatical henchman, likely dressed in fancy butler clothes by now (NPC)
Jed found in his research: “The dwarves were only the last occupants of some of their ruins. Whenever they found dungeon ruins, they took them over and added them to their own holdings. For the most part, the dwarves followed existing caverns when building their homes. They saved the serious digging for following seams of ore in their mines.”
Needles heard a song about Belrose Softshoe, a rogue and highwayman who owned a legendary short sword that would seek any man’s vitals, no matter how well-armored. The song says that he fell in love with a farmer’s daughter, but due to an earlier offense he had given the “King of the Flames”, she was stolen away by “warriors afire” on the night before their wedding. He pursued them into the dwarven ruins, but never returned.
TkotBO overheard that the halflings have a legend of a shortsword that ignores armor. They got the legend from the dwarves.
Up front: This was the day the dice betrayed me. I rolled about a dozen critical successes along the way, none of which did a dang bit of good, between repeated 11’s on the crit-hit chart (“normal damage”) and poor damage rolls. Towards the end, I started trying out different dice for damage rolls, since my set were obviously calibrated for success rolls. Didn’t do any good. Along with the flood of useless crit successes came a handful of critical failures, all at important moments. To add insult to injury, at one point, I went to leave the table and set down a natural 3. Wasted it. I should know better by now than to set them down on the table, and just stick them in my pocket instead…
With the barbarian and the swashbuckler out of town (both in-game and out-), the remaining party members started drinking with a new cat-folk in town, a scout who gave her name as Posy. She’s an archer and all-around outdoor cat, with something of a problem with crowds (and people in general), but a strong urge to wound small dungeon creatures and then bat them around while they bleed out. She fit right in.
There were many jokes about the other party members going out to check on Gabby and Alric and discovering them in different situations: Dobby wearing a cravat; Alric balancing books on his head and reciting “The rain in Spain…”; Gabby perched on Alric’s back, Yoda-style, with a flask in one hand, a switch in the other, and a disappointed expression.
Jed picked up a young apprentice named Trevor. Being young and new to all this (and a last-minute purchase that I wasn’t expecting), he was mainly represented by a terrified expression for the remainder of the adventure.
Kajeet approached Needles, saying, “If you have the time, Kajeet has the beer.” When Needles seemed reluctant, he upped the offer to boilermakers. This was enough to make Needles sit on a bar stool while the cat-folk merchant made his pitch. He waxed eloquent about how great Needles was at recovering lost treasure and what a sharp trader he was, which got him little more than a sour look. When he finally got to the point, he said that there was a piece of treasure he wanted recovered. (“I wondered why you had that big question mark over your head.”) It was the “Dragon Statuette of the Fiery Rain”, a one-foot long crouching dragon carved of dragonbone, with gems for eyes. He said that it was valuable enough in its own right, but he was particularly interested due to its historical and religious significance with his people.
Recently, Kajeet had come into a couple of pieces of information. First, the statuette was reported to be in the possession of one Dag Stoneminer, a semi-crazed tinker dwarf who spends most of his time in the dungeons, only coming in to town occasionally for supplies. (“So he’s the flip side of us.”) Second, word was that Dag had been planning a trip to a location within the dungeon which he referred to as “the Greater Stairway”. Kajeet offered 25gp ($2000) for the artifact, no questions asked, no strings attached. Having put the offer out there, he took his leave.
TKotBO and Jed went to report the sad news of the outcome of their quest from the last trip into the dungeon to Strang, via his manservant, Mamu. They played it straight — remarkably so, for them — with Jed laying out the whole story and TKotBO acknowledging his failure to serve his lord. The next day, TKotBO received a letter bearing Strang’s seal:
It seems that I made a most grievous error regarding the price of admission with the Flame Lords. Their language is quite different, as you may imagine, and I’m afraid that I misinterpreted some subtlety in our arrangement. You have my most sincere apologies for the unpleasantness in the mines.
That said, my need for those pieces of orichalcum has not changed. It will, however, require a different tactic, as my goodwill with the Flame Lords is now entirely spent. Instead, I would press upon you to mention your find at the local tavern the next time you are there. Mention it loudly, but not too loudly, if you take my meaning. Then, prepare. Gird yourselves for battle and await my message. You will know it when it comes. At that time, I expect that you will find the orichalcum pieces in transit from the mines to town. I would ask that you act with all haste to intercept and relieve the couriers of such a burden. You may deal with the couriers as you see fit, and complete the delivery to my residence instead.
If this is done, I will see that you receive just recompense for your efforts. But you must not fail to deliver those items!
This plan suited them just fine. In accordance with it, they gathered up Needles and Posy for an evening on the town funding out of the party treasury. During the evening, they spoke openly among themselves about the fortune in orichalcum that they had seen, but couldn’t recover. TKotBO was particularly loud in lamenting the loss.
Eventually, Posy noticed a weasel-faced man noticing the story, gulping down his drink, and heading for the door. With feline grace and stealth, she left the bar, taking to the rooftops and shadowing the man. He went straight to the gates of one of the many towers around town, where he was immediately admitted. The brass plate outside the gate declared that it was the residence of the wizard Vanger d’Hast. Posy returned to share the news.
For the next couple of days, the party stayed close to one another. Finally, during brunch on Wotan’s-Day, the other shoe dropped. A crudely-formed humanoid, about two feet tall and made entirely of water, threw open the door to the inn and marched inside with a determined attitude. Morning patrons scattered as it strode across the floor and scaled the party’s table. It struck a heroic pose, caught up each party member with its watery gaze, and declared: “I speak in the voice of Dektor Strang! Now is the time to strike! Go forth with haste! My duty done, I go!”
It then collapsed into a puddle of apparently-normal, and unseasonably-cold, water, all over the remains of the party’s meal, much to Posy’s displeasure. Jed realized that this must have been a water elemental, charged with the delivery of a simple message. Boggled at the extravagant expenditure of magical prowess, he declared that Strang must really want those pieces. Strongly motivated, the party scrambled to prepare, giving themselves no more than 30 minutes before leaving town.
In their quick huddle, the party put together a few pieces of current events. They knew that the Parson Boys, a trio of disreputable brothers, had taken a job as hirelings with Ridra’s Raiders. The combined group had left town at the crack of dawn that morning. Nobody knew much about either group, in particular. The Parson Boys were half-orcs (“well, maybe three-eights-orcs”) with a shady rep, but their capabilities were unknown. Ridra’s Raiders were another delving band, formed of recent arrivals on the boat from the Old World. Even though they didn’t know anything about the make-up of the other team, they realized they were going to need some help, what with two-fifths of their strength being off in the woods.
Therefore, there was a rush for hirelings. Höss, Dean, and Roman were readily available. The call for other warm bodies wasn’t so successful. All that could be turned up was Bob and Other Bob, two bums hoping for a day of nothing more exciting than holding the reins of the horses. Still, a meat-shield is a meat-shield, so they were hired on.
The augmented party headed out of town at a crawl. They were long on pedestrians and short on riding animals. They discussed tactics as they went. The opposing party had a grand head-start, and was probably travelling faster, anyway. While the two parties were at odds on this occasion, the other party wasn’t evil, they were just working stiffs just like the members of the Delving Band With No Name, and so they deserved a chance to escape without violence. Of course, times being what they were and with emotions running high, it was just as likely that the opposing party might turn out to be ruthless, heartless maniacs who would flip out and kill everybody as soon as look at ’em, so there was no reason to make it any easier for them than necessary. Finally, for the first time in its history, the party had a creditable non-magical ranged attacker, in Posy.
Therefore, they decided there was no point in trying to catch the other party at the dungeon. Instead, they set themselves up on the road up towards the dungeon, figuring that Ridra’s Raiders would have to pass that way. They found a section of mountainside road that was mostly straight, so they could see anyone approaching, but with a rough cliff face with several depressions suitable for concealing archers and lightly-armed hobos. They spread an extravagant carpet of caltrops across the entire road, for a distance of half-a-dozen yards. TKotBO took up station on the defended side of the caltrops, in the middle of the road, backed by Dean and Roman. Needles and Posy concealed themselves on the other side of the caltrops, up on the hillside, with an eye towards being behind the Raiders when the talking started. Jed, Trevor, and Höss took up a semi-concealed position behind TKotBO and to his right, up against the hillside. Bob and Other Bob were placed in an excellent hiding spot, about ten feet up the mountain directly off TKotBO’s right hand, where they remained, cowering, for the entire encounter.
In due course, Posy announced the approach of the other party. When the Raiders came around the bend in the road, everyone finally got a look at them. In the lead was Ridra herself, a dwarven knight, heavily armored, with a wooden shield and a pick. Behind her came a hunchback wearing ill-fitting leather armor, a man Jed vaguely recognized as an up-and-coming wizard’s apprentice. Next came a pair apparently engaged in conversation: a scruffy bushwacker-type carrying a quarterstaff, and a fifteen-foot long snake. (!!) Bringing up the rear were the Parson Boys, armed with nets and spears, but working together to carry a heavy bundle wrapped in canvas.
Just as Ridra’s Raiders came to a stop, Posy looked over her shoulder and noticed that their scout had obtained a superior position, further up the hillside.
TKotBO and Ridra conversed, in the way of knights. TKotBO offered to accept their surrender graciously, if they wanted to just hand over the orichalcum. Ridra wasn’t impressed with this offer at all. TKotBO counter-offered a fair duel, which Ridra also rejected, adding an insult. TKotBO asked if, in that case, they would like quarter to be offered? Ridra responded with nothing but rage, and the battle was on.
(Let this be a lesson to ya: Bad Temper will kill ya faster than Kleptomania, Berserk, or On The Edge. Ridra didn’t like TKotBO’s tone at all… to her loss, as we’ll see.)
When it came down to it, Posy was the faster of the scouts. She put an arrow directly into the center of the other scout’s forehead, which firmly established artillery superiority for the rest of the battle.
Across the battlefield, Jed received a sudden education in ambushes. A humanoid wrapped in black from head to toe came out of nowhere and pounced on him. Ridra’s Raiders had sent a ninja along in advance. Sadly for her, poor dice rolls gave Jed a chance to dodge, and he managed to sidestep without losing control of the Concussion spell that he had been nursing along for some time, now.
The Parsons dropped their bundle, revealing the orichalcum pieces from the lava pit. (I wonder what everyone would have done if it had been, say, a freshly-dressed boar carcass?) They displayed their team training, as the two in front pulled out their nets, and the third readied his spear.
Needles went after the Parsons. Well, I think he really just made a bee-line for the loot, but the Parson Boys were inconveniently on that line. The anaconda, on the other hand, passed him going up the hillside, heading for Posy. Ridra charged at TKotBO, either relying on her heavy footwear to protect her from the caltrops or not noticing that they were there. For his part, TKotBO stepped forward and set to receive her. Who cares about moving slow, when they’re coming to you?
Höss stepped up with the little mace that the party tipped him with a couple of jobs ago, and crippled the ninja. Lack of armor can quickly lead to career-ending injuries. This freed up Jed to try to plant that giant Concussion spell in a helpful location. He lobbed it across the battlefield, aiming for a spot near the center of the Raider’s main group. The hunchback dove for it, in an apparent attempt to catch the missile. This valiant effort was stymied by another bad roll, causing him to catch his foot on a loose stone and perform a perfect face-plant, directly into the exploding spell. He became messily dead.
Needles, on the ground, and Posy, on the hillside, put rapid ends to the anaconda, its druid master, and the Parsons. Several of them were stunned by the Concussion spell, and they couldn’t pull themselves together quickly enough to defend themselves.
This left Ridra, alone, with the rest of her allies either dead or bleeding to death, just getting within striking distance of TKotBO. He chose to follow a risky strategy, and give her an opportunity to take the honorable way out. He lowered his weapons and dropped to a knee, offering his surrender. “Your force is routed,” he said, “Stand down and we shall discuss terms.”
Bad Temper. Terrible disadvantage. Ridra was truly enraged at the idea of someone surrendering to offer her terms, and so she chose not to parlay. With a stunning lack of honor, she performed an AOA and put her pick into TKotBO’s good eye.
Entirely blind now, TKotBO fell to the ground and dropped his morningstar, but managed to somehow cling to consciousness. Posy put an arrow into Ridra’s lightly-armored neck, dropping her to the ground beside him. Laughing maniacally and babbling about “see my sacrifice for my lord”, TKotBO crawled over to Ridra. Before the rest of the party could approach, by feel, he took her by the head and stuck his thumbs into her eyes. No visor on a pot-helm, so… one textbook eye-gouge, and TKotBO announced that now, they were on even footing, it would be a fair fight.
Somewhat appalled, the rest of the party pulled the apart and set about the healing and cleaning up. TKotBO made his HT roll for crippling injuries, meaning he was only temporarily blinded. Being by far the worst wounded, he sat down and ran himself down to 0 Fatigue to heal himself, then laid down where he was for a nap. The others stripped the other party of their gear, disposed of the bodies, and got organized to return to town.
The only survivor of the Raiders was Ridna herself. That’s how it goes, when you backhand your pick into the eye of the other party’s only healer. Seriously, Ridna won the contest of Tactics up front, but blew it during the battle. Most of the Raiders were gravely wounded and bled out around this time. No one was eager to display any medical skills.
There was some debate about exactly what to do with Ridna. She didn’t have anybody who would be clearly ready to ransom her. Jed strongly objected to selling her as a slave, and what with her injury, she probably wouldn’t bring much profit anyway, so they finally decided to take her back to town and hand her over to the Church.
Spirits were high on the way home, for everybody except for the overloaded donkey. (Dwarves ain’t light!) TKotBO was particularly happy, even bubbly. (Fanatics and martyrdom, whattayagonnado?) He was so pleased, in fact, that he took of his helmet — he’s played by a youngish Kelsey Grammer, with an eye patch — and finally introduced himself to the other PCs by his actual name. Well, his actual legal name. The story goes, “The Knight of the Blood Oath” is a title. Similarly, he’s been looking around for a candidate to become “The Mount of the Blood Oath”, and when he’s relaxing, in town, late at night, he takes off his armor and lounges around in “The Union Suit of the Blood Oath”. His name, though, is Corbin. Not his birth name, mind you, which he sacrificed along the way to becoming “The Knight of the Blood Oath”. He took the name “Corbin” afterwards, as a replacement.
Heavy religious symbolism, sweetheart, you know how it goes. He had to sit up all night watching his armor while sipping wine and eating nothing but dry white toast, one time, too. These days he just does it for the entertainment value.
TKotBO is very disappointed in your attendance at temple, Jed…
In the wake of this touching moment of camaraderie, the party finally took a name… and pretty much acknowledged TKotBO as at least a figurehead: they’re “Corbin, Incorporated”.
The orichalcum went directly to Strang, according to instructions. Mamu delivered his thanks and an offer of $3000 in cash or $6000-ish in magic items. Strang is either an enchanter or a dealer in magic items, because he’s got a cellar-full, so it’s better for him to take it out in trade. After much casting about, they decided on five matching silver rings, enchanted to cast a zone of silence around the wearer for a few minutes, with their own reserve of magical energy. Needles was skeptical about the short time span,
The other party had obviously stripped down for action: the only gear they had carried was practical, and none of them carried any coin. Still, their gear wasn’t cheap, and there was one suit of enchanted leather armor. Posy didn’t get a magic ring, so she got an extra-large share of the loot money. She walked away with about $1500, while the others split the rest according to their usual custom, coming away with $400-$500 each. The hirelings were paid their usual day wage.
Posy was happy with her share, the party was happy with their victory, Strang was happy to get new toys to play with, but the true victors of the whole caper were Bob and Other Bob. The party decided they weren’t worth anything resembling a share, since all they did was cower under cover. Nevertheless, they came along and could have hypothetically found themselves hiding near harm’s way. So, Jed stood them to a $50 steak dinner. They ate and drank until their eyes were bulging, then rolled out the inn door, drunk as lords, with their pockets stuffed full of bread.
And that’s how the party spent their Wotan’s-Day.
Come Saturn’s-Day, their usual day for going to the dungeon, the party decided to take it a little easy, and do some light exploration. They decided to follow up on the oldest loose end, the one that dates back to shortly before they first entered the dungeon: “Remember that manhole outside the dungeon entrance?” Naturally, Jed and Posy didn’t, so they got to hear the story. They collected the usual hirelings and headed out of town, pointing out the sights along the way to Posy. “Statue. Statue. Big stone table, turn your back on the big dwarf.”
After resting up from the hike, they set to work. Keeping a close eye on their surroundings, they approached the entrance. TKotBO scraped blown sand off the manhole cover and knelt to pry it up, but Needles put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. Without speaking, Needles bent down, levered the cover s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y from its socket, and darted his hand inside. He pulled out a bundle of light scrap metal, hung on cords so as to be a set of improvised chimes.
An alarm system implies someone to hear it. Those who had them activated their rings and made their way down the hole, using the rungs, to a floor twenty feet below. Posy led the way, since her cat’s eyes could see more in the darkness than the humans’. (“Yeah, the scout outta get up front and scout!” Needles enthusiastically agreed.) They crept up slowly and came to a door. They examined it, and Needles declared that it didn’t appear trapped.
(Ok, ok, those aren’t Needles’ words, they’re mine: “<roll, roll> The door does not appear to be trapped.” Posy’s player: “‘Appear’? What’s ‘appear’? Is it trapped or isn’t it?” The other players: “Oh, he always says that.” Then they all turned towards me, as one, and gave me the eye. Good times.)
So, as it has always been and forever shall be, the question that follows “Trapped?” is “Locked?” The door opened inward, with just a push-plate, no keyhole, doorknob, or pull-ring. So, Needles gave it a push. No good. Secured from the other side.
The group fell back and conferred. Jed decided to try his hand, and attempted to use Apportation to cause the door to open itself, while standing at a distance. (“In Soviet Russia…”) This didn’t work out so well. He was able to give it a good rattling, but the door remained secure.
On the far side of the door, unknown to the party, the room’s occupants noticed that something was up when the door rattled. Up to this point, they had been oblivious, thanks to their foolproof early-warning system not being Needles-proof, and the effects of the Silence rings during the initial probing of the door. When they fell back, though, the door was outside of their Silence radius. Apportation was enough to move the door, at a not-inconsiderable cost of 4 Fatigue, but not enough to break the bar. The attempt was noisy, which alerted the occupants, who quietly prepared an ambush. (I imagine a dungeon dweller’s life involves a whole lot of time crouched down performing Wait maneuvers, wondering if the door will hold.)
There’s no way some door is going to stand in the way of Corbin, Inc., and so the party went to work on the door in earnest. TKotBO gave it a kick, which didn’t impress it. Needles and Höss went at it with crowbars, which was making slow progress. Jed waved them back, and with a wink, turned and breathed fire on the door. Still, it held, though it was taking damage as they went.
The occupants of the room gave one another grim glances. These guys were determined. Time for a more active defense.
Needles took another shot at the flaming door, which flew open! A small room was thus revealed. Four goblin archers were standing against the far wall, bows pulled, aiming for the door. The door opening triggered their Waits, and so all four fired their arrows straight at Needles’ chest.
At this point, the soundtrack would change, and we would start to just hear the first few notes of what would soon be known as “Needle’s Theme”. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were about to see Needles become a legend. Or earn a unanimous Cool Point, which is just about the same thing in this campaign.
One missed and continued down the hall to end up embedded in someone’s shield. The next one was a possible hit, but Needles dodged it; it continued down-range and did some minor damage. The other two both came up as critical hits that could not be dodged. “Been nice knowing you Needles. What’s the next character going to be?” Then the effects of the criticals both came up as “normal damage”, and the damages both turned out to be a minimal “1”… and everyone had forgotten, or never knew, that Needles has been quietly plowing a lot of his profits back into his armor. Under that threadbare cloak, he’s wearing a suit of camouflaged leather armor, fortified by enchantment. The arrows embedded themselves firmly in his armor, just over his heart, but the man himself wasn’t even scratched.
Posy had been stationed as rear-guard, and so had the entire party between her and the targets. “Down!” she roared, readied an arrow, and set to wait for the first clear shot. Everyone else declared their intention and readiness to crouch down under Posy’s fire and advance… except for Needles. He figured, he might as well clear the door entirely. Throwing down his crowbar and fast-drawing his shortsword, he skipped across the room toward the archer on the right.
… which activated the Waits of the two hobgoblins concealing themselves on either side of the door. Needles caught sight of them as he passed through, so he wasn’t entirely defenseless. They attacked from behind with axes. Needles dodged one, but the other was a critical hit, unavoidable! Again, a disappointing “normal damage”, a wimpy damage roll, and his armor absorbed it. Barely even thrown off a step, he continued his charge across the room, coming into contact with the archers. Even as he struck, though, the hobgoblins threw themselves at the still-burning door, slamming it shut in the party’s faces. One dropped the bar back into place from where they had lifted it.
Needles was trapped, alone, with six hostile goblinoids. The party threw themselves against the door, desperately trying to get it open.
Inside the room though, Needles just went to work.
Something to keep in mind, for the visuals, is that Needles just recently invested in a bit of Striking ST, which pushed his swing damage to two dice, which (in turn) bumped his Weapon Master bonus. It was as if he had just leveled up and hit a new quality of ultra-violence. In the past, Needles has been one for the impaling thrust, so his opponents have ended up leaving fairly neat corpses. Lots of “he looks so peaceful!” with a single patch of blood. This time, he was swinging in the style of Babe Ruth. When he used to puncture his enemies, now he’s lopping things off entirely. Messy.
He took down two goblins with a Rapid Strike before the hobgoblins finished securing the door. One of the surviving goblins did the math, realized Needles was within ten feet and there was absolutely no way he was going to get another arrow into play. He threw down his weapons and went to tackle the thief, while his partner backed up and went for the long shot, drawing an arrow. Either way, to no avail: Needles shredded the would-be wrestler and the dedicated archer, then turned to deal with the hobgoblins.
Seeing the way things were going, the two hobgoblins went for a classic gang-up move. One dove into close combat, grabbing Needles around the chest, using his axe handle for additional leverage. (And rolled a crit, which doubled his rolled Control Points! He ended up with 12 CP on Needles. Again, groans of despair from the observing players.) The other hobgoblin leered evilly and came in with his axe, looking to put a quick end to the bouncy human, now that he wasn’t bouncing around so much anymore.
No good. Even with a hobgoblin on his back, Needles is a slippery customer. He dodged. (And rolled a critical, turning the attack into a critical miss. I declared there’s only one possible crit failure in these circumstances.) The axe ended up firmly lodged between the eyes of the grappling hobgoblin. With a cross-eyed look of surprised on his face, he fell.
The last remaining hobgoblin lost control of his morale, and several sphincters. He dropped his axe to the ground, fell to his knees, weeping openly, and begged for mercy. Needles grabbed him by the throat, dragged him over to the door, threw open the bar, and (carefully, wrapping his hand in a corner of his cloak, due to the flames) yanked the door open.
The party had seen Needles shot by arrows, struck by axes, apparently yanked into the room, and the door slammed behind him. Seconds later, the door was flung open, revealing Needles, breathing hard, with a bloody sword and an unmanned hobgoblin, held by the neck. The room was strewn with corpses and bits of corpses. There was blood dripping from the ceiling.
Earlier, during the walk back from the ambush of Ridna’s Raiders, the talk was along the lines of “How are we going to ever vote on a Cool Point? We were all awesome!” When the time came, though, Needles won the point, unanimously, for this encounter. It was called his “River Tam” moment.
The party’s interrogators took charge of the hobgoblin, who was more than ready to share. Through babbled tears, he told them that he thought there might be some leftover cloth in the next room, no, there’s no other guards, no, no traps, but if you go out that door and take a right be sure you’ve got somebody to take care of you because you’ll end up with a bad buzz without even drinking anything please please don’t let that guy have me….
Jed comforted the poor broken hobgoblin, once he was sure they had all the information they were going to get, with no lies. He straightened him out, thanked him for his cooperation, and told him that he could exit back the way they had came, if he left his weapons. Sniffling, the hobgoblin agreed, and shuffled off down the hall. Posy was still hanging back, in the hall, watching all this with a jaundiced eye. When the sad ‘goblin passed by her, while the rest of the party was distracted with searching for loot, she quietly poked him one time in the neck with a razor-sharp claw, puncturing a major artery and leaving him to bleed to death behind them.
There was a bolt of silk in the next room, stashed in a bag and apparently forgotten, but no other remarkable treasure. The party proceeded out the door on the far wall, into a narrow hall which extended left and right. To the left, they could see the foot of a stair. To the right, the hall continued into darkness. Across the hall, they saw another door. Figuring that the stair led back towards the area they had already mapped, and having been warned of the right-hand turn, they went to work on the door. Needles declared it trap-free, but locked. Worse yet, when he tried to pick the lock, he couldn’t do the deed!
Höss stepped up with his crowbar and laid into the door, while the party spread out to keep watch. As the racket continued, Posy noticed some movement from the right-hand fork. She sent an arrow at it and announced the arrival of wandering monsters, but wasn’t able to name the creatures. Needles advanced and got a good look. “Rust monsters!” he called.
“Welp, see you back in town!” called TKotBO, who turned and started heading back for the manhole at his top moseying speed.
While their fearful leader retreated, the rest of the party took care of the oversize bugs. Needles put away his sword and kicked one to death. Posey doesn’t carry any metal larger than belt buckles and arrowheads, so the monsters weren’t interested in her. She was able to out-maneuver them and took a hideous toll with her bow. A couple appeared behind the party, coming down the stairs, and managed to destroy Höss’ crowbar, the only loss in the fight, before being driven off.
After recovering from that interruption, it didn’t take long to finish knocking in the door. Inside, they found what seemed to be an old, abandoned camp site. There were signs of a camp fire, and a pack and bedroll, both ruined by damp and age. Jed poked around in the pack and turned up a bronze necklace, which clearly glowed with a magical aura. No other loot was obvious, so they continued on to the door on the far side of the room. That door was locked, from inside the room, with a key sticking from the keyhole. Needles pocketed the key as they passed through.
They found themselves at a small landing at the foot of a stair leading up. The wall at the stair’s foot was decorated with a three-foot-tall carving of the face of a dwarven king.
While the others were searching, Posy got bored and decided to check out the right-hand turn that the hobgoblin had warned them about. (I think she may have gotten turned around about which direction he had pointed.) She walked maybe twenty or thirty feet down the hall and then nearly fell down, as she felt the effects of a dozen shots of rum in an instant. Staggering, but still in possession of her feline grace, she returned to the party to announce that she had figured out what the hobgoblin had been babbling about. She was obviously under the effects of a curse.
The party regrouped, and decided they didn’t need to press their luck any further. They re-locked the door on the far side of the campsite room behind them and retreated back the way they came.
Upon their return to town, they made a couple hundred copper from recovered loot, but didn’t sell the enchanted bronze necklace. Jed attempted to identify the nature of the enchantment, but wasn’t able to figure it out. There was some inconclusive discussion over the mystery, and if it was worthwhile bringing it to Strang’s attention, before the party broke up for the evening.