“The Depths Strike Back”
Mid afternoon of the 7th of Trisad, 1331 Avard.
Deep in the mining complex labelled Quidirikar, the party paused to discuss their options. They could return to the entrance of the complex and rest outside where they would presumably be safe, or they could press onwards, deeper into the complex. After some talk, they decided to leave the warren of rooms behind, and move further in.
The corridor that had brought them to the warren of rooms they had cleaned out, also continued on, and so they followed it west, paralleling the southern flank of the big mountain to some extent. After nearly a hundred yards, the corridor split – one passage continuing on westward, one going north, and another going back towards the northeast. After consulting the map Kwartz Spurbreaker had made them, they decided to move back towards the northeast, and see if that passage met up with the kitchens Kwartz had described.
With torches and Aelar's spirit companion lighting the darkness, they did, indeed, backtrack to the kitchens. Rather than explore the whole of the kitchens, they moved up the steps Kwartz had only generally described in his map, plunging in where no living thing had been in centuries. The tread of the undead, though, indicated their activity within the complex, disturbing the inches-deep dust in the ancient complex in regular pathways.
From the kitchens and up the steps, they found a strange room whose purpose they were unsure of. There were slabs of stone raised to waist height, perhaps a dozen in all, each four feet wide and nearly eight feet long. Along part of one wall, there was a longer slab of stone, but it was canted at an angle. Next to the canted slab were slots in the wall, like shelves. As they explored the room, the dust knocked off of the shelf slots caused Saebael to sneeze uncontrollably. Her sneezes were met by the hissing of the undead.
Battle was enjoined at the edge of the torches' light, strange undead came out of another room. The undead were skeletons whose bones had been filed down to points and tipped with metal, even their teeth. Their heads had been filled with rocks and debris to make them denser and tougher. Worse, there were extra such pointed and metal-tipped bones slipped through their ribs – the remains of other skeletons. The metalled undead used them as weapons, sometimes hurling them with deadly force.
A fierce battle errupted, with the metalled skeletons proving difficult to kill, and a significant danger when given room to hurl their bone weapons. When they could think again, the battle was over, though there were several fresh scars to remind them of those strange, metalled skeletons. Telemon picked up a metalled rib to use as a dagger and tucked it into his belt.
They took a moment to rest and recover, before continuing on, more cautiously than before.
Their explorations found them several large rooms branching off of the corridor out of the room with the waist-high platforms that could have been desks or funeral preparation biers or something else entirely. The larger rooms were empty save for the ever-present dust on the floor. In one room, though, they found a secret door, hidden along the middle of one wall. The door pushed open and slid aside almost magically, still working perfectly after many centuries of disuse. They could see piles of something hidden under the dust, inside the next room.
Aelar and Telemon stepped in, torches held high, looking about. In the corners of the secret room, spots on the ceiling began to glow. They smelled the air after a storm, and then lightning blasted at them, deafening them. Aelar dove out of the room, but Telemon was struck directly by several blasts. He rushed out of the room, smoking, blackened, hair on end, and wishing he'd never stepped foot in that room.
Cautious probing let them discover a control mechanism of sorts, but in playing with the mechanism, it self-destructed, blasting them with electrical energy and thunder, again half-deafening them. The corners of the secret room continued to glow with the electrical hum of barely controlled violence, waiting for anyone to enter. In their frustration with the secret room and whatever treasures or history might be concealed beneath the dust, they didn't realize that the thunder of the protective system was drawing other denizens of the complex.
They retreated to one of the rooms to rest and recover from the electrical blast, and consider their options. Napping and resting a bit, they were interrupted by the big lynx Rumus' growling – and the sound of the wind howling. Waist-high elementals of wind gathered outside the door, preparing to burst in. Rumus channeled the wilden powers of his companion, Saebael, and the waist-high minions disintegrated into a maelstrom of dust and debris. But, out in the corridor, larger winds gathered.
Liam rushed out into the corridor to meet them head on, followed a moment later by Saebael. Liam's scale armor and heavy shield protected him from much of the swirling debris, and Saebael was just tough enough to take it. The corridor contained two more elementals of air, each stretching almost to the ceiling – and behind them, was another, seemingly familiar air elemental.
The elementals hit hard, with everything they had. Aelar flung his arm up to protect his head, and the force of the attack split the skin of his forearm and knocked him unconscious. Liam was flung down the corridor, as the familiar air elemental suddenly appeared in the midst of them, dealing considerable damage and knocking Saebael out cold. Telemon's blades, one enchanted and other other Liam's masterwork, tore the familiar air elemental apart. Liam rushed back, held in check by the remaining air elemental, which proved to be a tough adversary. Within moments, however, it was cut to ribbons.
Liam and Telemon, Rumus growling frustration the whole time, quickly drug Saebael and Aelar out of the corridor and back into one of the rooms. They considered trying to hole up for a time and rest, Liam keeping his shield in the door, while Telemon revived Aelar and Saebael. Saebael was none the worse for wear, but Aelar had taken quite a beating. They were bloodied and tired, and needed rest – but to remain would mean the possibility of facing more elementals, or the undead. To get out would perhaps require wading through more elementals, or the undead.
In the end, Telemon convinced them that they had to leave; if they stayed and were attacked, they would still have to leave, and the leaving would just be that much more difficult. Moving quickly, for stealth was not an option with a scale-covered paladin, they backtracked the way they had gone in – and found no resistance.
They came out of the complex to a night's sky full of stars, and a bonfire going strong, tended by the dwarf Kwartz Spurbreaker and his bear mount Angle'Ise. The horses were tethered nearby, and seemed happy to see their less bear-smelling masters.
The party simply passed out near the bonfire, Kwartz keeping watch for them.
In the morning they felt rested, and eager again to attack the complex. Kwartz made them breakfast, while Saebael replaced her spear, damaged in the lighting strikes of the secret room.
After a few hours of preparation and discussion with a very tired dwarf, they went back into the complex. This time, they went east, going towards the trap of lightning Kwartz had described. The party hoped to find the control panel for that guardian system, and deactivate it. Unfortunately, like before, the control runes exploded in a burst of electrical fire and thunder – and then the turrets hammered Liam, slower than the others to run out of the passage.
Saebael managed to lasso Liam's unconscious and badly burned body, the burns made all the worse for the metal scale he was wearing. They pulled Liam out of the path of the electrical guardians, and then, carrying his body between them, once more fled the complex. Outside, they tended to Liam's wounds and got him back on his feet. Though badly burned in a few places, he would recover, and the power of his god Whalin was such that most of his wounds were washed away.
Their frustration with the complex mounted. They wished they could find a mage to sacrifice himself and destroy the complex entirely, or divert the underground river such that it flushed the complex out. Any option they considered – even bringing in more people or hiring dozens of kobolds to come with them – only seemed to be met with cold, hard logic: they were the best people available to clean out the mining complex, and they had already done a fair job, if the number of tourmalines they held was any indication.
They decided to go back into the complex, and go neither east nor west, but north. Kwartz and those he had gone in with had explored the edges of a vast room next to the kitchens, though what the room was, they did not know.
The group went in cautiously, Aelar's spirit companion spiralling in and serving as a light no brighter than a candle. The falcon-like spirit showed them that the room was perhaps fifty feet tall in the middle of the domed ceiling, perhaps seventy feet wide, and easily a hundred feet across. The room was empty, save for a half foot of dust and dirt and small bits of ceiling rock here and there.
Saebael's sensitive tread found something in the center of the room, as they cautiously stepped through the cavern. Beneath the dust and dirt was a faintly engraved symbol she had only seen once before. It was the symbol of Elementis, a nation of elemental masters from an age known as the Shaping Wars, some six thousand years prior. It explained much. The masters of Elementis had been both arcane and divine, worshipping the four elemental gods and delving into control of the elements through sorcerous powers. Three of the four elemental gods had been killed in the Shaping Wars – but one remained. The Goddess of Fire, Xoriah, still lived; her Chosen was in Kashin, Rakore.
Telemon and Liam made prayers to their gods, while Telemon sent additional prayers to Xoriah to protect them from the elementals.
And then they pressed on, moving towards the kitchens to explore them as Kwartz and Boredmin Dunnigan and the others had done before them. They hoped to find something the others had missed, and perhaps find a way to survive the exploration of the rest of the complex.
Mid afternoon of the 8th of Trisad, 1331 Avard.
THU01APR2010. We met at Sommer's place, where there were more options to keep the kiddos out from underfoot. Everybody was rolling pretty badly most of the night, for skills challenges, attacks, and saves. Aelar came within a single roll of the dice of dying, failing two of his saves while dying. But, the guys knuckled under and did what needed doing, having a good time despite the lack of luck. Kudos to Ross for his role-play; Telemon wanted to go anywhere but back into the mines, though Ross wanted to get into the mines rather badly!
We came up with a couple of House Rules for 4th Edition. Any professional skills are based off of Wisdom, and the character is considered 'trained', meaning they get a +5 bonus to those roles, plus their Wisdom modifier. Also, anytime a character is bloodied, they earn a scar, location dependant on the die roles.
From the looks of the schedules, we won't play again until April 22nd. I just hope I don't go through withdrawals, before then. I'd forgotten how fun it was to run a dungeon adventure. Many thanks to Todd Antill for helping me see the light on the easier way to run such modules.
My favorite moment of the evening was when Telemon rushed into a room with metalled skeletons – only to realize as he rushed in that he was blocking the only light into the room with his body.
Made a minor change since it was Saebael, not Telamon, that lassoed Liam's arm. :p Can't wait until next time!! Corrected the moniker next to my name as well - still wants to read Maleah.
Excellent job, Joe, this dungeon is very intense and VERY fun! Maybe we can get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later.
Also, I think I can swing playing at 8pm next Thursday if anyone wants to play half a session? It's up to you guys, but I'm willing if you are.
I'm salivating at the prospect. It'd also give everyone a chance to update their characters and print them out, too. I likes this idear.
I wonder what everyone thinks of playing a one-shot on the next Thursday. Since David won't be able to make it, it would give us a chance to experiment, and help Sommer's son Caileb out with a party to do a quick adventuring delve… Everyone could make 9th-level characters for that one-shot and plan on dying. ;)
Awesome session again Joe - I don't think anyone actually wanted to leave that night :)
A short session is better than no session!