Sunday, July 25, 2010

LL at Paul's: Weighted Down

Hey there folks, another week of dungeoneering, hot off the platter for ya.

When last we left our heroes, we were preparing an ambuscade for a medusa who we'd encountered in the depths of a mountain dungeon complex. We set up in a chamber we strongly suspected of being connected via a secret tunnel to the room we encountered her in, and after a very thorough search found the secret door.

So we set up to receive a visit in the night. Yøgund and Kashim set up on either side of the hidden doorway, while the spellcasters, Elef and my cleric The Deacon, hid under an old bed ready to let fly with a selection of Hold, Sleep, or Charm spells as the situation warranted. Klint, our one conscious and unpoisoned thief, hid behind the bedstead ready to spring out and shoot flaming arrows, lighting the pool of flammable oil we left at the foot of the door. Gentleman Jack we laid out on the bed as a decoy, after having first used the ancient pigments we'd found in this room to paint fake eyes on his eyelids. In fact, we all did up our eyelids with fake eyes. We figured any moment's hesitation might be worth it, what the hey? (When the going gets tough, the tough get creative.) Our henchmen Fedyeka and Amos the one armed half elf we set up to guard the other door.

Thus prepared, we waited.

And waited...

One by one we drifted off to sleep, and still no medusa. In fact, we all managed to somehow get a good full night's rest without being disturbed at all. Apparently our snakey haired antagonist decided not to stumble into our trap.

In the words of the Australian big game hunter from Jurassic Park who dies in the movie and lives in the book: "Clever girl..."

Well, frustrated by a restful (albiet tense) evening, we decided to try to think outside the box. Since Klint had his magic, see in the dark santa hat, we decided to give him the Potion of Gaseous Form that we'd picked up somewhere and send him out scouting.

He drank the magical draught and vanished in a puff of Klint, seeping through the cracks around the secret door. (This worked because Klint's player was out at at Comicon this week, so Paul didn't have to take him aside for a sidebar session.)

A few minutes later the cloud came back and just sort of hung there in the room as we peppered it with questions. Initially, the wacky thought crossed my mind that he'd somehow been petrified. But that's crazy! You can't petrify a man who's turned into a cloud! (And there, my friends, is what I like to call "Bus Station Crazy Talk". Repeat that phrase out loud in a public place and check out the looks you get.)

In actuality what we were dealing with was the primary flaw in our cunning plan... Clouds can't talk. We tried a little bit of Captain Pike style "bob up and down once for yes, fly around the room once for no" type foolishness, but eventually we gave up, and the Klint cloud flew off to do some more scouting while the potion lasted.

About a half hour or so later the reconstituted figure of our veteran thief came darting in through the door, out of breath from running. He told us he'd scouted the corridor, and found a long hall connecting the maid's room with the lord's room, but the medusa was nowhere to be found. (Apparently, there was some hanky, and perhaps a bit of panky, going on in ancient Ilmoria, with the secret tunnel between the boss' room and the maid's. *shrug*.)

Klint did find a lizard man standing watch around the corner from the secret door in our room, which meant that snakeylocks had minions. He said the reptilian guardian looked at the cloud kinda funny as it passed overhead.

He also told us he explored around the big throne room, and went back to the muck pool and took a couple of passes through it to make DOUBLE DOG sure that there was no treasure down in there. He popped solid in the hall and rushed back to rejoin us.

Knowing the lizard man was there, possibly spying on us, we figured it was time for bold action, especially since we'd all rested and refreshed from the long night before. (Except for Gentleman Jack. He's down for a good week at least from that centipede bite.) So we opened the door and charged around the corner and found...

Nothing. This medusa was playing it close to the vest. Fine with us, we decided not to force the issue, but instead do a little more delving. We took account of our food supply, and figured we could take one more day of snooping around before we'd have lean rations going back to Restenford.

So we decided to do a little more hall surveying. Most of the maps of prior levels had been more or less symmetrical, and we were missing a portion of the southwest on this floor, so we hied ourselves to the door that seemed mostly likely to lead to more halls.

When we got there, we found a stout portal barring our way. Being well rested and full of pep, Yøgund decided not to muck around with careful searching, and just ran down the hall and threw his shoulder into it. He bounced off with a resounding clang and went sprawling. At this point, someone in the party inquired if anyone had considered just, you know, turning the handle. As he pulled himself off the floor, our paladin waved our henchman Fedyeka forward and told him to open it.

The burly sellsword stepped up to the door and turned the knob, and said "Ouch!". He turned and told us something had pricked his finger. Actually, this was the last time he told anybody anything, 'cos a beat later his eyes glazed over and he fell dead at our feet.


This is what happens when you get all cavalier about procedure. Dammit. I liked that henchman... He vas credit to team...

Anyway, we had Klint examine the lock and he said yeah, lookit' there, you can see a poison tipped needle right there on the shaft of the knob. We crowbarred the door open and went inside, dragging the heavy corpse of our former henchman behind us.

Inside we found some sort of bar or bank type area, with a long counter running through the center of the room. Since we were in a pissy mood after losing Fedyeka, we chopped a hole through the counter and stepped over the wreckage, searching around behind. It was there we found a secret door.

Opening it, we found a small bronze anchor hanging on a peg on the wall of a small closet. With a shrug, Yøgund pulled the anchor down from its peg, which caused another secret door to open into a small hallway.

As we proceeded down the new hall, in the dim glimmer of our lantern we saw a heavy iron door ahead of secured with chains. Now, something like this means one of two things, treasure or trouble, usually some of both.

Kashim and Yøgund went on ahead with Klint in tow to check for traps, when suddenly our veteran thief and headstrong foreign warrior fell upward into an inverted pit about twenty feet high/deep and slammed into the ceiling. Half stunned, they climbed to their feet and found themselves standing upside down as Yøgund looked up at them in confusion. (I might not be getting the sequence of events 100% right here. All I do remember is we ended up with two guys down/up in the anti-pit.)

The confusion soon passed, as Yøgund's player sussed out that it was possession of the anchor, which he'd not relinquished, that allowed him to keep his feet on the ground. We experimented with pebbles and such, and discovered that indeed gravity was inverted in the ten foot area in front of the door.

After a fair bit of wrangling involving impromptu acrobatics and using pilfered Tyrian robes as improvised rope because none of us seemed to have any rope on our character sheets, we got everybody back down/up from the ceiling/pit. (Turns out Klint has 50' of silk rope, but somehow as we were all confusedly reading our character sheets that fact escaped us. Probably would have helped if his player had been there.)

We crossed the space in pairs, each holding on to the bronze anchor charm, and set about opening the door. Using our late henchman's two hander, we wrecked up the chains and pried open the ancient padlock.

Inside, we found a row of large iron chests, with a profusion of old dark stains. (Blood, I'm guessing.) on the floor. This made us nervous, particularly The Deacon. Any one of these chests could contain fiery, gassy, crushy, or stabby death.

As we searched, we discovered a smaller chest tucked back behind the main row of chests. Pulling it out and searching it for needles, which we found none of, we opened it and found a huge collection of smallish gems! Kallooh, kallay!

Overcoming our paranoia, we proceeded to bash holes in the lids of the other chests, and discovered a wealth in gold, silver, copper, and electrum. So much for MY worries. I figured the big ones were trapped decoys. Just goes to show you sometimes, even if you're paranoid, the people who're out to get you are takin' a coffee break.

Since we figured this was a pretty defenseable room, we decided to bed down in here. As a final sendoff to our trusty Fedyeka, the Deacon arranged for a spectacular, inverted Viking funeral for the poor dope. Basically, we doused his corpse in flammable oil, lit it, and dragged it to the antigravity well and let it ascend gloriously skyward.

Was it a good idea? No, not in the least, especially since the smoke from his burning remains started wafting into the room we were camping in. (On hindsight, I probably should have done this as we were leaving this area. Live and learn.) It was, for all its tactical flaws, an awesome sendoff. Dos vedanya and rest in peace, you big, dumb lug. May your accent live on to fight another day!

When morning came and the smell of burning henchman diminished, we set about loading up our swag to get the heck outta there. We had Elef memorize Floating Disc and Detect Magic, and divvied up the more valuable coins in bags and sacks, utilizing one of the chests too, I think, carried between two of us. All told, however, the sheer mass of coinage was seriously weighing us down, and we were at max encumbrance and only moving about 10' per round. We piled the bags, as well as the floppy figure of our poisoned party member Gentleman Jack, on the magically conjured disc summoned by our halfling mage, and set out.

And here's where the whole deal started going all pear shaped. As we exited the "bank" area, an angry, familiar female voice called out from the darkness. "THEY DARE LOOT THE ANCIENT TREASURE HOUSE OF ILMORIA?! SLAY THEM!" or something to that effect, and right away we've got a bunch of lizard men coming out of the woodwork jabbing at us with tridents.

Yøgund and Kashim step up to the plate and manage to clear the forward way for us, but can do nothing about a second group coming at us from behind. Poor Amos, who was at the back with Elef, took some bad hits, but the Deacon had enough cure spells to heal him, and still got in some whack with the Mojo Stick. We moved Elef to the center of the party, since he was responsible for keeping the disc, and its precious cargo (and Gentleman Jack) floating. Between the Deacon and Amos, we manage to kill our rear guard attackers, but things AREN'T looking good. We're surrounded by enemies, and moving at a snail's pace.

Our goal is a set of downward stairs at the end of a painfully looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong hallway. We don't even know where it empties out, just that on that level is the big room with the doors leading outside, where we'll make our break for daylight, then hopefully circumnavigate the mountaintop to the shrine where we'll pick up our mule, if the poor beast is still even there.

Of course, that's a lot of hypotheticals. Right now we're taking it ten feet at a time.

And that's where we left it as we wrapped up the session.

So all and all, a good one. Totally different than what I was expecting. We didn't see the medusa all night. (Which, as I've mentioned before, is a good thing.) But ended up in a battle of wits with an upside down hole, and now are slogging for our lives, groaning under the weight of hundreds of pounds of treasure. This is totally old school sword and sorcery, picaresque action at its finest!

We're totally in a monkey trap right now, holding tightly to what's keeping us from getting away easily, but maybe we can manage to make it out alive and get our loot back home. We'll see.

Thanks again to Paul, for a crackling session, and to the rest of the 10d gamers.