Okay, my rate of fire on these game reports seems to be slowing down a bit. I usually do 'em on Sunday afternoons when I don't got anything better to do, and last week we had a power outage so I was sans computre for the rest of the day. So this entry's gonna cover two weeks worth of action.
Anyway, all excuses aside, when last we left our doughty band of adventurers we were staring down the non-slavering non-fangs of a gelatinous cube, one of the true classics of the D&D experience.
I think the gelatinous cube's image suffers from it's description being based on how it fits on a piece of graph paper. In old school notation, 10'X10' is one graph paper square. Doesn't look like much when you're looking at a sheet of graph paper with a map on it.
Or if you think of it as a perfectly square mass of jell-o that maintains it's cubic shape no matter what, so if it were chasing you around a big cavern, you'd conjure the ridiculous image of a giant jello jiggler with a couple skulls and some gold coins embedded following you around.
Here's the thing about a gelatinous cube. It is made for hallways, not rooms. If you want to be creeped out by a gelatinous cube, don't think of it as a goofy, rambling euclidean solid. Envision it as a SOLID WALL OF SLIME THAT WANTS TO EAT YOU.
If you ever read Lovecraft's "At The Mountains of Madness" I have little doubt the gelatinous cube is based on what young Danforth saw coming up the tunnel in Antarctica that made him lose all his Sanity Points and start gibbering about stops on the Red Line (which for you non-Bostonians is one of the main subway lines that runs thru Harvard, among other places).
Context is everything with monsters sometimes...
So anyway, a hallway full of hungry gel was what the group was facing at the end of the prior week's session. We were in this square hallway arrangement surrounding a 20' X 20' room, with an exit to the north and south.
As the thing started sliding toward us, we called a full retreat, but Kasshim, our brave/foolhardy foreign warrior, decided to pull a fighting withdrawl. Sadly, we were all a bit overburdened with crap we'd picked up elsewhere in the dungeon, so the thing was moving twice as fast as us unless we were running all out. So long story short, it engulfed the crap out of him, paralyzing him inside it's jiggulent mass.
I seem to recall we tried shooting at the thing as we fled, but sadly Kasshim quickly perished, and was a slack jawed corpse floating in the invisible gel of the cube. We amscrayed out the north doorway and tried to catch our breath in the little 10X10 hall that led to a east/west hallway to the north. We were down to flinders as far as spells were concerned, all wounded from the prior week's furious battles, and down another party member.
And what was worse, the familiar, but not welcome, scent of more troglodites was wafting up the hallway towards us. Thankfully, it was only two of the nasty reptilian bastards, and we were a bit better about saving vs. their stanke, so as pissed off dungeon delvers at the end of their physical and emotional tether are wont to do, we killed the crap out of 'em.
Still, we'd taken some more knocks, so we decided we'd have to take the risk and hole up for a night's rest, probably in the storage room just down the hall, since it was close, and we could spike the doors closed (although that wasn't a guarantee of a restful night, as I will soon describe).
After we nailed the doors shut, we started drawing our plans for retrieving Kasshim's corpse. This was motivated by two meta game factors. A: He had a potentially interesting backstory it seemed a shame to lose track of and B: his player was absent that week, attending a Sox game, and we felt bad about getting his guy killed in hench mode.
As the night wore on, we heard things moving around outside our nailed shut doors. Something that rattled, that we presumed might be some kind of skeletal undead, and something big that tried the door then started grunting "Who in there?" in a voice that made our heels vibrate on the floor. (Had this been the old Wardicon campaign of the original Helga's Heroes Thursday night group, my paladin Calvert would have answered with a "Meow! Meow I say!".)
We decided discretion was the better part of not being mangled, and kept quiet. That didn't really help, though, 'cos soon the door was getting bashed in, and a big, angry ogre came crunching through the door, shouting "Get out of my house!".
Now, I don't rightly recall totally how this fight went. Part of me wants to say we just ganged up and laid a stabbin' on him, and part of me wonders if I didn't cast Hold Person on him to help settle him down for a little coup de grace action. Either way, we took the ogre down without too much blood loss on our side, although it was a good thing we didn't have much more time left for our rest period since he'd obliterated one of the doors, leaving the room open to the dungeon.
When it came time to move out, we healed everybody up as good as we could, and drew our scheme to kill the cube and rescue whatever might be left of Kasshim from it's wobbly depths.
The plan, as we formed it, was to take advantage of the squareness of the hallway it was travelling in. (By which I mean, lateral squareness. The hallway was a square of 10X10 corridors 40' on a side, with two exits, as I have already stated.)
Our goal was to always be attacking it from a distance, and always from the side it was heading away from. So what we did was divide into two groups, each popping in from one of the two doors and calling out to our comrades which direction it was heading. If it headed toward your group, you fell back, and let the other team know where it was. We planned to use as little hand to hand as possible, as this was certain engulfment, so we armed ourselves with oil flasks and ranged weapons.
And actually, the plan worked pretty well, all told. I can't quite recall the blow by blow, but we led the thing on a merry chase, harrying it from both sides with flaming oil, which made it into a roving sheet of flame coming up the hallway at you. One unforseen advantage the monster had was that when it moved into a corner its flaming side hit the wall, putting out the flame in a sizzle of protoplasm acting like a wet blanket, which was a nice effect on Paul's part. Kasshim even lent a hand, since his floating, skeletonized carcass helped us track the creature's location.
So eventually, which much darting and oil tossing and shouting, we killed it. The unnerving thing, though, is that the thing didn't really let on it was dead. It just stopped moving, which, again, I credit Paul for playing this thing so creepy. We tentatively snuck up on the thing and poked it, and when it didn't start sliding down the hall at us we declared it dead.
Satisfied it wasn't gonna git us, we sliced into the horrible gel and pulled Kasshim's bones out, as well as the plates of his armor and what remained of his weapons. The thing had dissolved everything organic, so no leather straps, clothing, weapon handles, or any other goods not made out of bone, metal, or glass remained. We bagged his bones up in a sack, hoping against hope we could maybe get him raised from the dead as our friend young Amos the half elf had been, although we knew a disconnected skeleton had a lot less chance than a full corpse.
Once we'd bagged up Kasshim for transport, we decided to check out the 20'X20' room that was so fearsomely guarded. There were two poison needle traps and a gelatinous cube in here, so we were figuring it was something good.
Anyway, inside the room, once we'd made sure the door was okay, we found a loose pile of sacks full of copper pieces in the center of the floor. Underneath the pile of sacks we found a square cut in the floor, like some kind of trapdoor, and started chipping away with crowbar and knife tip. We also started exhaustively searching the room for secrets, as a sum of copper pieces hardly seemed worth the fearsome protections outside.
This search eventually revealed a hidden alcove on one wall containing a lever that could go left or right. Turning it left set off a Magic Mouth spell with the usual "WHO DARES? BLAH BLAH BLAH" type boilerplate, including a threat that we should sleep there and someone would come get us. Of course, this was backed up with a cloud of knockout gas filling the room. Thankfully, I think it just caught Yøgund and Gentleman Jack (I'm not 100% certain), but I also seem to recall it not being too big a deal to slap 'em 'til they came around.
This was good, since our shenanigans in the room attracted the thing that was rattling around outside the night before, which turned out to be a carrion crawler, which for those who could possibly be reading an old skule game blog and not know is a kind of giant worm/maggot thingus with eight facial tentacles that'll paralyze you if they touch you. (Lotta paralyzing going on in this corner of the dungeon.)
Anyway, faced with wormy death we joined the battle and layeth upon it a kylling. I think Yøgund gave it the most whacks, fending off its paralyzing tentacles with a lot of good saving throws and well made greaves. I might also recall Klint and/or Gentleman Jack got a backstab in while the monster was busy flapping it's cilia at our paladin. Anyway, it was deaded and we were happy.
Back to the problem of the room, we discovered if the lever was pulled the other way, the square in the center of the room rumbled up from the floor, revealing a small alcove underneath that held a chest. This we bashed open, and found a sum of gold and silver coins. Still a little paltry for what we expected, although I think the difficulty of the cube fight had raised our expectations a bit. We bagged it up with our dead sandlander buddy and beat feet.
One final stop on the way out was the shrine with the statue of Kor and the bronze bowl. We had been planning to just grab the stuff on the altar and split, but after a little investigation, and maybe a little obeisance to Kor (I don't totally remember what we did, just that we did the right thing), we figured out the water in the bowl could heal wounds once a day if drunk, so we decided to not loot/desecrate this area and leave it for when we came back, since there were rooms we hadn't checked out yet.
From there we wended our way out of the dungeon under the shrine of Kor, climbed up to the shrine, maybe camped for the night, then boogied home, since raising our dead comrade had a time limit.
Mercifully, the trip back to Restenford was uneventful. I don't recall us meeting anything on the way.
We hit town and made a beeline right to Almox the Druid, and asked him if he could help us. He said he was deep in our debt for bringing back his son Amos from the gnolls' sacrificial altar, but that our time was fast running out. Also, we'd need to find a gemstone worth 500 gold pieces as a sacrifice, and we were all tapped out of 500 gp gemstones. We'd have to beg, borrow, or steal one, and we had all of four hours to do it in, or Kasshim was lost to us forever.
Dun dun DUNNNNNNNNNNNN!
This is where we ended that session.
So, now that we're at this week's session.
First off, we started planning where we could possibly get a gemstone of such expense. Candidates were the town's ruling Baron, or the big, rich Abby near his castle.
Our thieves started making rumblings about breaking in and ripping the Baron off, which A: struck me as a REALLY bad idea* and B: was something my character, the Deacon, a lawful cleric, did NOT want to know about or be party to. At least do me the courtesy of distracting me or something...
We decided our first stop would be the Abby, although we hadn't been there for a LONG time after we decided they were putting on too many airs with all their fancy decor and whatnot. (Especially Yøgund, so it was good his player was absent that day and we could leave him back at Almox's).
Still, beggars can't be choosers, so we went up there hat (and bag of dead Kasshim bones) in hand to see if we could offer our adventuring services in exchange for 500gp worth of de-corpseing.
Well, the abbot was friendly enough after the Deacon turned on what charm he had. (I've got average charisma, about an 11, but I'm the smooth talker of the group 'cos everyone else used charisma as their dump stat.) He told us he couldn't offer the powerful magic that would bring one back from the dead at the abby, but several days travel away there was a more powerful member of their order who might help us, if we were to enlist the services of a powerful mage to transport us there rapidly.
This was turning into a bit of a runaround, especially since we had a guy right in town who could do the job (although Almox wanted us to keep his ability on the down low, for obvious reasons) and since they couldn't even cough up a lousy 500 gp gem for the promise of adventuring services, we went our way. The only benefit of the trip was the Abbot did hip us to the fact that Falco, the dwarven owner of the Red Cask could obtain valuable items on short notice.
So we hied ourselves over to the drunken pub known as the Red Cask, where we'd hired most of our late, lamented henchmen. We found the joint in full swing with dinner being served, but managed to corral Falco and meet in his kitchen about getting us a 500 gp gem within 2-3 hours. (We had a little more time than that, but I didn't wanna cut it TOO close.) After haggling, we settled on a price of 611 gp, since we were paying for middle men and a rush job and what have you, to be paid in 2 hours when Falco's guy brought the goods around. The gem in question would be a bit "warm" but not "hot", per se.
We had a good time with role playing the oblique dance of innuendo where we tried to determine how much trouble we were buying into. Suffice to say it wouldn't get us turned into frogs by an angry archmage or land us in a dragon's gizzard, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if the gem disappeared for good, which was what it was gonna do if we used it in a resurrection.
So off we went to raise the dough. Those of us that had it each chipped in 50 gp, including Kasshim, who's money the Deacon was holding. We sold Kasshim's horse, and also bartered some of the treasure we found in the dungeon that killed him, namely the scrimshaw pieces and a couple of fine pearls that I think we found in the gelatinous cube treasure room.
To hedge our bets in case Falco's guy didn't come through, we also checked with the archmage Pelltar. If Raise Dead didn't come through, we could try Reincarnation with a high enough level wizard. Actually, Kasshim's player was more excited by that, since the random chart of what you might come back as held some interest. (Truly old school. A random chart is a joy to play with.) We spoke to his apprentice Abracus, who told us the old boy didn't know that one, so back to the Red Cask we went.
Thankfully, the deal went through fine, and we traded most of the party's wealth for a fist sized ruby, which we pocketed, thanking our dwarven fence, and scurried over to Almox's with little time to lose.
Once there, we laid out Kasshim's bones in proper arrangement, laid the ruby on his bony chest, and Almox went to work. As he chanted, the gem dissolved into a gelatinous mass and flowed over the body, congealing into flesh and organs. (Again, nice description, Paul, and oh so appropriate !)
Soon, the features of Kasshim formed, and he was whole again. (Literally! Apparently Kasshim had been a palace eunuch before, but had... re-acquired lost equipment. Happy Birthday!)
Of course, once a body's been raised, they're kind of worthless for a bout a week or so as they receuperate from the worst case of the punies they've ever had, so we carried Kasshim off to the Dying Minotaur and set him up in a nice soft bed to rest up. Almox was pretty drained too, and as his elven wife led him off like James Brown after a concert, we thanked him and went our way.
So, while we were twiddling our thumbs for a week or so, we took care of some business. The Deacon checked around to see if there were any next of kin we could bequeath the remaining wealth from our fallen henchmen Melchoir and Strang. Strang was, sadly, a dead end, but Melchoir turned out to have a brother who was a local farmer, and so I took a goodly sum of gold and silver and turned it over, saying some words of condolence and letting them know that Melchoir was a good man and a good fighter. (Damned unlucky and prone to being mauled, but a good fella.)
We also were approached by one of Pelltar's apprentices to seek out the remains of our former comrade Koode, who had been Pelltar's fourth apprentice, as well as the fate of Talen Zin, both of whom we'd lost in the depths of Stonehell. (I don't really know much about what happened, although as a player I do know that Koode had somehow gotten his face severed. Ecchh...)
We consulted and weighed up our costs, and decided to charge 150 gp for the mission, which included re-equipping costs for Kasshim. We agreed to report back in a weeks time as to our progress, but had a bit of wrangling about when we'd begin, since we wanted to get back to the shrine of Kor and complete our exploration, as we were still wanting to find that magical nightcap that granted night vision. (Well, Klint wanted the nightcap, but any motivation's enough for this bunch...) Eventually we settled the timing and the deal was struck.
We also looked into rustling up some new henchmen. One serendipity was young Amos approached us, and offered us his bow in our service, out of gratitude for bringing his body back to get raised. His other motivation was that said resurrection had tapped his family of the pair of expensive jewels, called the Eyes of the Serpent, that they'd kept around for just such an emergency. (First aid kit by Fabergé), so he was looking to replace them. We signed him on for a full share of any treasure we found, which was double our normal deal, but he brought healing magic to the table as well as his ranger skills, and so was worth the extra.
Otherwise, we hit the Red Cask for more recruits, and we hit the jackpot, character wise. A huge, Russian accented bear of a man in full plate with a two handed sword, named Fedyeka the Bastard. We signed him on for a half share plus our generous HR package (full healing, proper burial, etc.) I'm looking forward to playing him if the Deacon ever buys the ol' farm. He is credit to team. (I was relishing possibly inheriting Melchoir too, but ah well... poor dumb, dead bastard...)
So, soon enough, after getting everyone up on their feet and re-equipped, we set out for the Shrine of Kor, making it there in a couple days on horseback then sending our groom back with the horses and keeping the mule for heavy hauling.
When we got back down into the depths, we found the room full of casks of nasty, stinking liquid had been taken away by some unknown agency, which left us without a source of easy crossing for the crevices that broke the hallway deeper into the dungeon. We made do by crossing via climbing thieves and secure ropes.
From there, we wended our way back to the complex a level up, and checked out the final three rooms we hadn't investigated. These turned out to be a pair of sleeping rooms full of cots, one of which had been ransacked and the other still in decent order, and a room full of racked weapons, none of which seemed to unique if I recall.
As we checked out the weapons room, we heard a familiar rattling from down the hall, and found ourselves face to tentacles with another carrion crawler. Fedyeka, bless is big heart, like bull with extra big heart, went out to fight it and got his dumb, 1st. lvl ass paralyzed, so Yøgund and the Deacon charged it, whacking away at it with sword and staff.
We killed the thing without too much loss for the party, I think maybe getting on of the thieves paralyzed, but then we were stuck with a couple of stiffs, so we dragged 'em back to the room with the cots and laid 'em out, and that's about where we closed down for the night.
Thanks again to Paul, and the 10d gamers for another couple of fun sessions.
Ah yes, in the comments, our inimitable DM remembered me the last encounter of the night was actually in the weapons room, where we got attacked by a swarm of floating, animated weapons that leapt off the wall and started smackin' us.
The Deacon tried turning 'em but that didn't take, all that seemed to work was hitting 'em with a high roll. (I figure their AC's down around 1 or 2). So we decided to scamper away before we got hacked to bits, even though we'd gotten the swarm whittled down to roughly 1 floating weapon per guy, or maybe even less...
Unfortunately, we'd dragged Fedyeka along as we'd searched, and so when we bugged out we left him lying on the floor in there. Now, thankfully, the weapons didn't seem interested in him, but I think we're going to have to do an extraction or get in trouble with the henchman's local 101 or something. THAT was how this week's session ended. Thanx, Paul.
*The reason stealing from the Baron is a bad idea is that it's a violation of both the "Don't Shit Where You Sleep" rule and my personal "Don't Antagonize Anybody Who Can Spit In Your Food" rule, which are both similar in principle.
The latter rule, when broken down to basics, is that if someone has the power to ruin your day if you piss them off, being as they may be a waiter bringing you your dinner, a billing agent you're calling to fix a mistake on your phone bill, a police officer who's pulled you over, or the supreme feudal authority for the area you're travelling thru, then it behooves you to be on pleasant behavior so as to avoid pissing them off. It's not about being subservient or a pushover, so much as avoiding extra static by not being a dick. It's very simple to prosper using this rule.
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