Wowsers! Here we are again!
Okay, so last week we'd geared up, staffed up, and were ready to set out and go kick the collective kiesters of the evil volcano cult/thieves guild up on Skull mountain. We'd added three more henchmen, and a new player character in the form of an island prince who went by the name, The Prince. Our senior thief Klint was sporting a peg leg after having lost his leg to the cult's major domo, the sinister Cooper. We were all spoilin' for a little bit o' the dish best served cold.
So off we set from Greenwild, taking the long road through the dead hills. We met some wildlife along the way, but each time Hearth and his magic Ring of Aminal Control spared us a mauling. He sent a bear back into it's cave before it could block our path, and he sent a mountain lion, I think, off on a long run so we could finish our lunches at a roadside picnic table in peace. So yeah, handy thing, that ring.
We got to the hidey cave at the foot of Skull Mountain and found some alarming changes to the landscape. The grass and shrubs that had formerly concealed the front entrance had been torn away and trampled down, as if a furious battle had been fought here. We saw many footprints, and some splashes of blood, that didn't bode well. Checking inside, we saw a big black heart had been scrawled on the back wall. This led us to surmise that the Obsidian Heart had sprung an attack on whoever was here, best guess would be Bors and the Haberdashers, and things didn't go so well for our hat wearing friends. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmm.
So, we figured we ought git to it while the gittin' was good. We set up Darius and Garant at the cave with the horses n' mules and whatnot. There was no pulling the wagon inside, but we told 'em if things go hairy go hide in the cave and save what they could.
Our hirelings secured, the party of nine bold adventurers/henchmen set out to climb the mountain and slip into the caldera at the top, as we'd done before. The sinister drums were booming loudly from the depths of the mountain, but we didn't let it bug us. Yeah, keep drumming, culty, easier for us to find ya. Creeps...
We lowered each party member down in turn, with our new freshman thief Hare Sarlickson bringing up the rear with the rope and the Ring of Feather Fall that was our insurance policy against sudden vertical catastrophes. We crept into the crevasse, and made our way to the hole that led to a shaft that wound its way down to the counting room. We lowered Klint down head first by the rope, with instructions to either tug on the rope or tap out Morse code with his peg if he got into trouble.
Everything was clear at the hidden entry to the counting room, so we all went down. When Klint opened the door, there was nothing but darkness, which was a good sign. Nobody in there (unless the cult had some morlocks or something working for them).
We decided our first order of business would be to map out the rest of this bottom level, with an eye toward finding the contents of that nifty treasure list we'd found in the counting room last time. So we followed the hallways to the south, and stopped to check out the door that we'd ignored last time we were down.
This led to a small storage room lined with shelves. There was a coffer and a bag in here, which we decided to just sweep into Klint's Bag of Holding and deal with whatever locks or traps might be on them later. We searched the walls and shelves thoroughly, but didn't find any additional hidden doors or compartments.
We then proceeded to make our way down to the intersection where Evund Knifeweilder, our shortest term henchman ever, got shanked by the lurking Cooper. To the east was the large temple with the reptilian monster altar and the skulls lining the walls. We'd been here, and would check it out later.
To the west, we found a smaller room with a pool of some mysterious liquid in the middle. All around the chamber on the floors and walls a bunch of mystic type symbols were scrawled, and glowed faintly, I think. Unnerved, we didn't want to enter, so we had Klint cast his one spell, Detect Magic. He spotted some magical stuff in an alcove in the corner.
Taking note of that, we escorted him around to the other rooms so that he could suss out the magic stuff before the spell wore off. In the Gorn room, he saw that the statue was magical, and I think a couple other things were giving off some vibes but I don't rightly remember what.
With a couple minutes left on his detectometer, we sent him back to the room with the tapestries and the candelabra where we'd found The Prince, Belanus Birchson, and the late, lamented Caravan Guy. Klint let out a shout of surprise as a couple of lizard men jumped him. I guess the scaly bastards had been hiding around a corner as we passed.
We galloped to his aid and started smackin. Got a couple good blammos in with the Mojo Stick, and Kashim was slicing and dicing nicely. Hare tried to get in a backstab and nearly got killed hard, coming away with only 1 HP to his name. After we'd put the lizard men out of our misery we instructed the little guy to stay the heck outta combat from here on out.
After dragging the once and future handbags into a corner, we decided to give the room a once over. We pulled down all the tapestries and searched around for secret doors, but didn't find any. Aside from the glowing candelabra, which probably just had a Continual Light spell on it, this place was a wash.
So we decided to go poke around in the reptile idol room. We got busy searching the walls, checking over the carved skulls and other bits of grisly decor. Frog, our senior henchman, found an actual skull popped in an alcove among the carved ones. We checked it out thoroughly but didn't find anything of immediate interest.
We were nervous about the big magical idol, depicting a reptilian humanoid seemingly in mid stride passing through solid stone, with its clawed hand held up as if it were accepting a donation. We tried putting the skull there, but it didn't do anything. In fact, I don't know what it was we did to upset it. It just started moving and attacked us!
Yeah. So we formed up and started trying to fight back, with the guys with magical weapons taking the front. We got in some good hits on the thing, as far as I can tell, but it kinda trumped us all when it started barfing lava all over us.
Yeah, right off I think one of the miner brothers got his face set on fire, and the other one took it in the knee. A couple of gouts of burning rock later and they were crisped. The Prince got it really bad, a couple times. Before we knew it he was dead, and this particular player's third character had suffered another tragic, ironic death.
(Namely, his elven ranger, Liam O'Gara, was mauled by a cougar driven out of the woods by a forest fire he'd set. Gentleman Jack Getz, the foppish dandy, died naked in the form of a pig. And now a Polynesian styled Prince had died from lava burns. Farewell, sweet prince. We hardly knew ye... We'll never forget your sacrifice.)
Things were looking damn grim, and so the Deacon started telling the surviving henchmen to run for it. Klint hobbled away after I healed him up enough to move. It was all I could do to get Kashim to peel off. He wanted to go down fighting. I wanted to go.
Finally I persuaded him, and we scampered away, down by three guys. The thing didn't give chase, instead heading back to the wall and merging back into its former place.
So... ow! We regrouped at the branch of the two corridors and caught our breath. The Deacon used up all of his healing, including the scroll and potion of extra healing we'd purchased in Greenwild. That got Frog and Kashim up and functional, and cancelled everybody's critical injuries. We'd taken a hard tap to the face and had a bloody nose, so our earlier bravado had kind of changed to desperate fatalism. We still had to fight our way out of the mountain, or climb back up the half pipe and slink away in defeat.
We decided to go back to the chamber with the dark pool and all the magical markings and grab the magic stuff we saw there at least. This turned out to be a couple of flasks, a white one full of white powder and a black one full of a black oily substance. We'd obviously been hoping for healing potions, but c'est la donjon. We started to experiment, mixing a drop of the powder with the oil. That made a sludgy goop that just laid there.
We gave the pool of water the once over, and determined by lowering one of our magical, glowing Continual Light rocks down on a rope that it was about eight feet deep. Maybe there was something down there. We decided it would be the height of stupidity to go check.
So we settled for a lesser stupidity. Still fiddling with the flasks' contents, we took a pinch of the white powder and dropped it in the dark liquid. This caused billowing clouds of choking gas to rise up from the pool, filling the chamber. We all started coughing and hacking and making saves. Everybody made it except for our two thieves, Klint and Hare, who collapsed. We grabbed them and dragged them out. Much to our dismay, when we got clear, we found we were dragging a pair of corpses!
Dang... Near TPK and this was only room 3. Our forays into Skull Mountain were very Hobbesian... Nasty, Brutish, and Short. Particularly grievous for me was the loss of Klint, who was the only other character besides the Deacon who'd been with the party since the start. Man...
Now we were in survival and GTFO mode, with only four guys left. We decided that we would try to bring Klint's body out and hopefully find someplace that would do a Raise Dead. (This was less from story reasons as it was 'cos we'd killed him while his player was absent.) So we set about lightening the load 'cos we had to travel light. We dumped out his bag of holding, and lo and behold there was a TON of cash and gems in there that he'd obviously innocently forgotten to tell us about. Yeah... Maybe Klint's loss wasn't so grievous after all...
Still, we figured we'd raise him if we could, despite that. We chucked any extra gear, including his peg leg, and stuffed his carcass in the bag. We opened the sack and coffer we'd found in the store room (and by open, I mean slash/smash open.) and found more money and gems, and a couple of potion vials. Sadly, one of the vials got smashed as we roughhoused the coffer open, but all in all we cashed in pretty good.
So we filled the Bag of Holding with Klint and cash and made our way toward the stairs in the counting room. Our route out the caldera was closed to us now that both guys who could have made the climb were dead.
We made our way up the stairs, and found ourselves in the trappy labyrinth where we'd taken such a pounding in our first foray. Eventually, by carefully following the twists and turns, we managed to connect the tunnels to our existing map, and navigated our way to the surface after stepping gingerly over tripwires and trapdoors.
When we got to the upper level, we came to the room with the two drums, and found a couple guys taking a smoke break after a long session of drumming. We jumped 'em and killed 'em where they stood, and then rolled onward to the room with the dark stone statue. There, we headed up into the watch rooms and brought the fight to the cultists on guard up there.
Kashim ran into the room with the brazier and shoved one guy's face into the fire, while Frog and The Deacon went after the other guy. We had 'em dropped before they could put up any resistance.
We then headed down the other tunnel leading to the other eyesocket of the skull. One of the guys there had managed to nock an arrow, which he promptly shot thru the Deacon's leg, temporarily laming him. Kashim and Frog finished the bastard off, while the Deacon pulled out one of the flasks we'd just found, hoping it was healing potion. Mercifully it was Extra Healing, so my critical went away and I got back 2d6 pts.
We looked out the eye socket, and saw a big torchlight jamboree going on out on the platform out front. There were drugged out cultists lying around all over, and a pile of dead bodies at the center. We saw three figures in cloaks and robes go running in through the skull mouth. Trouble!
We ran down to head 'em off, with The Deacon warming up his Hold Person spell and Hearth prepping Sleep. We jumped out into the hall and let loose with our spells. One each of the two lesser cult leaders got neutralized by our spells, one slouching off to dreamland while the other froze in place.
That left us Cooper to deal with. He led with a Hold Person of his own, and thankfully managed to connect with Hearth, freezing the elf in place while Kashim, Frog, and The Deacon charged him.
From there we commenced to hack, slash, and smash. Cooper was tough, and probably had some kind of magical protection. He started chanting as if he was summoning something, raving about the Avatar coming to kill us all. (I'm not sure if he meant big blue cat people or little bald kids with arrows tattooed on their heads...) The Deacon kept whiffing with his Mojo Stick, which sucked 'cos I really wanted to knock the bastard's teeth in with a little BreeshkBOOM. He nailed me good on my hand with a mace, taking me to crit and putting me out of the fight. It was really hairy, 'cos I sure as HECK didn't want to be taken out by some wild eyed enemy cleric. That would have sucked.
Eventually, Kashim and Frog brought the smackdown, with Frog wielding Klint's fancy magic sword, and they brought the villain down.
Serves ya right, ya freak!
After catching our breath, we went out onto the platform and set t' stabbin' all the zoned out cultists. Good riddance to bad rubbish. We were mildly bummed to find the bodies they'd been using for their little Lollapalooza were Bors and his men. The Haberdashers had worn their last hats.
We lined 'em up as respectfully as we could, and limped down the mountain to the hidey cave to heal up, vowing to come back and claim the mountain for ourselves or something, or at least get our guys some decent burials, now that the Obsidian Heart was out of commission.
And that's where we left off.
Real nail biter of a session there. We got pounded Old School style, nine guys down to four, and from really nasty causes too, like lava and poison gas. We came REALLY close to TPK. It was as close as the Deacon had been to goin' t' meet the Allmaker since he'd been crushed about the chest by that giant crab statue.
It was awesome!
That's what old school play is about, baby. Thrills, chills, spills, and high body counts. We cashed in big on XP, and our faithful hench honcho Frog leveled up. It was satisfying to take out the cult, and it was a really close fight too.
So now we got a vacated, novelty volcano, and two new characters that need to be made. Liam/GentelmanJack/The Prince's player has decided to just run Frog from here on out, so now it's up to Yøgund/Jantz's player and Klint's player to bring us some new hotness.
All told, a solid night of gaming. Thanks once again to Paul and the 10d gamers for another rip snortin' session.
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