Truly, this was awesome sauce!
Well, anybody who's been lurking about the Old School Blog scene has probably heard of the interesting potential of using Google+ for online gaming, so a small group of my rowdy friends from our former Thursday Night group of yore got together over the aether to play for a completely groovy several hours this Sunday afternoon. Our GM was the redoubtable Paul, whom I've missed gaming with, and our lineup included the mighty Delta, Mr. H, and Mr. K, for whom I'll say ditto.
The group was composed of myself playing a dextrous yet dim thief by the name of Billy the Weasel, with a magic user named Mercurious, a heavily armored dwarf named Garick, and a less heavily armored dwarf who favored pike and crossbow known as Ulric Battleborn.
We'd heard tell of an old ruined watchtower outside of town that was reputed to have a fabulous treasure buried in a deep sub-basement below it. No one who'd gone there had come back alive, but the lure of loot is an irresistible call to a bunch such as us, so up the hill we went.
Next to the crumbling tower was a huge old oak tree, so we decided to check it out. We found a hole in the side that indeed led to a set of stairs that lead down into a hidden chamber. After sending Ulric down to scout with a rope tied about his waist, the rest of us followed, with Garick being forced to remove his armor and wriggle thru the hole before re-girding himself on the other side.
The underground chamber was musty and full of fungus. Most notably, there was a ring of large mushrooms, several of which bore odd brass sculptures of gnomes atop their caps. Not wanting to touch something that was potentially a ring of magickal faerie planted Claymore mines, we searched the room, and found a kobold cowering in a closet.
Thankfully, our doughty dwarf friends spoke fluent Chihuahua, and so we interrogated the little twerp, who's name was Blark. Seems he was posted there to watch the gnome statues. A small tribe of kobolds very much wanted to steal them and sell them to a nearby tribe of orcs, but whenever they did the statues would uncannily vanish and reappear on their mushroom by the following morning. Thus the orcs were ready to go all "caveat venditor" on them and the little creeps were trying to figure out what was going on.
We bought Blark's services for a silver piece, and we prevailed upon him to grab a statue and put it in Billy's bag. After that, he led us deeper into the underground cellar to the room where the rest of his tribe was hanging out, sketching Wile E Coyote type plans on the wall for retrieving the gnome statues.
We decided amongst ourselves to try to con the kobolds, so we started lying like cheap rugs, telling them that we'd figured out the secret of taking the statues without them vanishing, and would trade said secret for either money (which they had little of beyond some copper pieces) or information. Since copper is more suited to settling bar tabs or weighing down doilies, we went for info, grilling them about the orc tribe and also about what might lie down a door and an archway we passed on the way to the kobold's brass gnome theft workshop.
They informed us that down one entry was giant spiders, and down the other was huge, kobold eating bats. Regarding the orcs they told us that the savage goons would trade stolen cattle for the gnome statues, and that if we shouted "bree yark" they wouldn't attack us.
This latter bit was total bullcrap, so we didn't feel so bad (as if we'd felt any guilt before hand) about telling them that the secret to keeping the statues was to go into the woods outside of town and gathering some three leaved shrubs with white berries and eating a big handful of them, then waiting a day and eating some more. They sent four of their number off questing for the "magic herb" and we secured the services of Blark and another kobold named Glurk as guides for the price of another silver piece.
After parting company with the kobolds in the midst of an argument between Blark and his chief over whether he was allowed to cut subcontracting deals independent of the kobolds' HR dept, we made our way down the entry that they'd informed us had giant bats.
Sure enough, they were right about those. We found a large, guano carpeted chamber and our two little native guides were snatched up and gnawed by about a half dozen gigantic chiroptera while a multitude of their smaller bretheren fluttered about the ceiling.
A furious battle ensued, with Garick holding strong in the door while the rest of us fired crossbows, spears, daggers, and a Magic Missile into the space. Eventually, we killed all the big bats with our heavy duty dwarf taking a few slashes to the face. We retrieved the splattered kobold's daggers for Mercurio to throw and checked out the space.
There were two archways and a small door leading out of the chamber. To the West we found a sloping corridor with a big pool of dried blood that flowed down a nearby set of stairs leading down. At the far end of that corridor, we found a pair of sinister looking black gargoyle statues with upraised palms, before which were two putrid piles of severed hands.
Wanting no part of this, we went back and checked the other archway, which led to a platform that branched south to a hallway and a set of spiral stairs that went both down and up, and north to a large room that seemed to be a ruined library. In this room there was an unidentifiable rhinoceros sized carcass that was buzzing with flies, including several specimens that were gigantic and which swarmed out at us as soon as they sensed our torches.
We battled three giant, biting flies. They were biting so hard that we decided to have Mercurio cast his Sleep spell and put them out of our misery. We coup de graced the buzzing monsters and scampered away from the grody library space before more of them could sense us and attack.
We took the stairs down, and found an area totally choked with huge, sticky spiderwebs. We tossed some oil and lit them, which released a couple of ogres that were bound up in cocoons of webbing. They charged us, so in a panic Billy threw the brass gnome that we'd pinched from the mushroom room, nailing the big goon right in the face. (HAH!)
Still, this was pretty strong meat for us to face with our resources depleted (we'd taken some bad bites from the giant flies, and Mercurio was tapped out on spells.) so we decided to beat feet before we got pummeled to death. We turned and ran, dumping oil and tossing MY lantern down the spiral stairs to discourage pursuit. We made it out of the catacombs relatively unscathed, and headed back to town to regroup and re-equip ourselves.
We headed for the tavern to brag about going to the tower and coming back alive. While we were there, we decided to hire some extra hands. Mercurio decided that cheaper than hiring henchmen, he could use Charm Person to make some fast friends who'd help us out of the bonds of ersatz cameraderie.
He found a couple of likely suckers... er... subjects in a big burly bloke arm-wrestling with a big fat guy. He put down a silver on the fat guy and lost, when the big guy, who styled himself Govannan the Boar Killer, won the contest and sealed his fate. Drawing him aside with a tale of having treasure to guard and being willing to hire him, Mercurio led Govannan to the stables and cast his spell, emerging with a new bestest buddy in the world who'd be happy to join us for free, no questions asked (at least until about a week or so passed and he got a save).
After three days of taking it easy and buying new supplies and gear to replace what we'd lost, we headed back to the tower, this time deciding to take the entrance to the tower itself rather than try to squeeze thru the hole in the tree which required our heavy weapons guy Garick to disarmor himself.
We worked our way downward, and found a room flooded to the ankles in honey that seemed to be dripping from the ceiling, which in combination with the sound of loud, angry buzzing from a nearby room seemed to imply that there was a hive of giant bees about someplace. We made our way across the deliciously decorated space and found a room beyond where a bunch of honey covered boots had been set aside, presumably by the orcs we knew were somewhere down below. After a bit of debate, we decided to make like the inhabitants of the place and remove our shoes as well.
We passed a room with a ceiling bulging down from above as if it was ready to collapse, where we spotted a glinting bit of silver jewelry in one corner. After some deliberation, we were about to press on, but Billy's Int of 5 proved too difficult to resist and I had him army crawl his way across the floor toward the bracelet.
I guess my dim witted rogue wasn't as low to the ground as he needed to be, because he bumped the semi-caved in timbers and caused a section of ceiling to collapse on me, doing me a fair bit of damage and pinning me to the floor. Ulric took pity on me and slung a loop of rope out on his 10' pole, snagging my ankle and allowing the party to drag my sorry carcass out from under the collapsed beam, doing me a fair bit more damage but getting me out alive.
After I'd dusted myself off and took a swig from our handy jug of cleric in a bottle, we found a set of steep, kinda treacherous spiral stairs leading downward, with a knotted rope secured near the top to an iron ring. After the usual dungeon delver's paranoid searching for some kinda trap with the rope, we descended.
(Pardon if that section's inaccurate or vague, it was around this time I needed to go downstairs in my awesome lair to make a bit of dinner for myself, so my guy was running on hench mode.)
Sadly, the steps were a bit tricky for Garick's stubby legs, and he slipped and went rolling down the stairs like a pachinko ball to crash in a heap at a door at the bottom. The rest of us joined him at the bottom and set him back on his feet, and he proceeded to check the door for traps and give it a listen.
He heard the sound of heavy breathing on the other side, so we decided to kick in the door and go in swinging. We found a bunch of orcs laying in ambush on the other side, doubtless alerted to our presence by all the racket we'd been making on the upper floors, punctuated by a hurtling dwarf in armor colliding with their front door.
As we battled them, a bunch of other doors down the hallway flew open and more orcs came rushing out. While Garick and Billy fought the ones in the first room and Ulric and Govannan held the others off, Mercurious cast his sleep spell, which put all but one of the orcs and a couple party members down for a little nap. The lone remaining orc turned tail and ran off, while we set about putting his buddies out of everybody's misery permanent like.
We searched the room and found a chest of gold, and then decided to knock off for the night and send the characters back to town.
All told, this worked really well, and I'm enthusiastic about future excursions in cyberspatial gaming. I need to get a better way to map. I was pingponging between this online whiteboard thing that Paul pointed us to and Adobe Illustrator. I think next time I'm just gonna go with good old fashioned graph paper and just hold it up to the camera if folks need to see it.
Otherwise, this was awesome! Thanks guys, both to Paul for running, and to the others for making it a great session. We gotta do this again!
Here's Paul's account, btw ftw.
And here's another take from the fabulous Delta!