Sunday, October 24, 2010

Son of Creepy Crawl 2010

Yes! They thought it could be killed! They thought it would never return to haunt us!

I had such a blast last week with the Creepy (dungeon) Crawl that I decided to bring it back another week for another helping of ghoulish ghoulash. Let us see what transpired on a dark, October night...

It was late at night in Ghoulardia Pass, and yet more disreputable malfeasants had been driven from the sullen city limits of the Krunkavian hamlet of Strangledorf.

Left to right: Cliff the Homanculus, Solomon Bach the totally metal Cleric,
Kolomalu The Mad, a sinister wizard, and Boris the Grimling.

As the four travelling scoundrels passed beneath the stern edifice of Cardille Keep, they reasoned among themselves that that might be a good place to seek out their shared goal of universal power. But first, a little grave robbing, provided by the vast cemetery that covered the barren hill below the keep.

With some difficultly, they eventually instructed Cliff to use his vast strength to bend some of the rusting iron bars of a wrought iron fence surrounding the graveyard. Once inside, Boris set to sniffing for graves most likely containing suitable corpses.

The troupe's eyes lit on a partially dug up grave at the center of the graveyard, complete with shovels poking out of the earth. As they grabbed the still warm shovels to set about digging, a booming terrifying voice echoed out to leave the grave alone and flee. The group looked at each other, shrugged, and kept digging. The voice called out no more.

While their grotesque assistants worked, Kolmalu and Solomon Bach examined the headstone, and found it belonged to a dead sorceror of ill repute known as Svengoolie. Truly an excellent corpse to dig up.

As soon as Boris called up from the grave that they'd struck wood, the same voice called out, this time from behind a nearby crypt, shouting. "TAKE THEM! MORGUS COMMANDS IT!"

With a bloodthirsty shout, a quartet of ruffians leapt from behind the crypt, at the behest of an evil looking wizard, who stood flanked by homanculus and grimling henchmen.

Yes, get them my pretties... er... my henchmen!

The battle was joined, as the cutthroats hacked at the grisly grimling and hearty homanculus. But the evil Morgus hadn't counted on the phantasmagorical Kolomalu the Mad.

Hot cha cha!

Finding themselves suddenly unemployed, the singed but surviving henchmen of the pile of charred bones that had been Morgus the Malevolent decided to enter a new contract with Kolomalu and Bach, and thus the party's ranks were swelled by four.

Ehhh. It's a living...

Naturally (or unnaturally, to be honest), the new henchmen's first task was to finish digging out Svengoolie's grave and lift out the casket. Inside, in addition to a lovely new skeleton, they found several bone scroll casings full of arcane scrolls of great power.

Invigorated by a good grave robbing, the group formed up and marched up the hill toward the gates of the keep. A wolf's head of iron with a ring in its mouth hung on the door, so after some coaxing and trial and error, they got the level headed (literally!) Cliff to knock.

The door opened with a soft click, although no earthly doorman awaited on the other side. Beyond, another door to the inner sanctum held a similar knocker, so they repeated the polite gesture. This time, the double doors swung open with a grating creak, revealing a large, circular feast hall, watched over by figures in red, rusted plate mail bearing halberds.

Desiring to take no chances, Solomon Bach started throwing fire, in the form of torches and flasks of oil, into the room, setting the table and tapestries smoldering. Boris and Ernest the henchman stepped inside, and found themselves challenged by a booming voice, that said.

Lacking a good answer, they said they were just friendly neighborhood grave robbers. This got the armored figures moving, striding toward them from all sides with halberds raised to strike.
Boris scuttled back among the group, as the unfortunate Ernest took a painful looking stab to the groin and went down moaning.

Just walk it off, Ernest!

After a furious battle and more fire throwing, Solomon Bach invoked the power of his nameless deity and laid a mighty turning on the threatening guards, destroying three where they stood in a burst of shattered armor and grave earth. One fled, on fire and crashed into another tapestry, setting it alight, while the surviving warriors took the other two down. Boris crouched over the writhing, moaning Ernest, to "render aid", and somehow a moment later he was dead. Ah well...

Once the dust settled and the flames were smothered, Solomon decided they now had enough bones and corpses to invoke is Animate Dead spell, and with a quick unhallowed ritual, five skeletons and a zombie now shambled ahead of the party. The living henchmen had been promoted!

Ehhh. It's an unliving...

The party discovered a ramp downward, and decided to take it, going deeper into the creepy keep.

They found a wine cellar filling the next floor down, with cobweb draped bottles in criscrossed racks covering the walls. Cliff, in the spirit of experimentation (since he was an experiment himself) started taking down bottles and drinking them before anyone could stop him. He drank a bottle, and suddenly vanished into thin air. Try as the rest of the party might, they couldn't get him to understand that he'd become invisible, so they just threw up their hands and continued.

Kolomalu took down a bottle and discovered it tasted like blood. (The henchmen were a bit unnerved that he recognized the taste so readily.)

Cliff took down another bottle and drank, and felt funny in the tummy. It was doubly funny for his companions, who watched the eerie outline of a homanculus' stomach fill with bubbling, boiling liquid in midair. The simple minded giant was indeed lucky he had such a good constitution against poisons.

Kolomalu took down two bottles and decided to mix them in a jug, and ended up with a nice jug of poison blood. Perhaps it would come in handy later.

Moving on, the party found themselves in the deepest basement of the keep, a large round room with a dais in the center, surmounted by a stone coffin. The earthen floor of this room, out to a narrow band around the perimeter, was a bright, vermilion red.

When Solomon Bach's contigent of undead stepped onto this red earth, an eerie red light came to their eyes, and suddenly they turned on their master. A furious battle ensued, joined by two more zombies shuffling out from a row of four cells along one wall, and by a strange, ghostly figure of etherial flames that hovered over the coffin.

Obey me! I am your master! Oh fiddlesticks!

Enraged, the cleric turned his minions and destroyed them, save for the animated skeleton of Morgus' grimling henchman, who stepped off of the red earth and had fallen back under his control.

Kolomalu read from o
ne of the recovered scrolls and cast Move Earth, causing the vermilion soil to leap into the stone coffin like an uncanny reverse fountain, as the fiery spirit took on the cruel, enraged features of the vampire Vladek Lobovich.

At his companion's instruction, Cliff hastily grabbed up the coffin's offset lid and slammed it back onto the top. The flaming wraith dissipated with a moan.

After a brief sweep of the room, they found nothing but a cryptic message from a gypsy girl named Stella, only legible thanks to Kolomalu's Read Language spell. She said she had escaped on her own wits but was now lost in the catacombs. Should someone help her, she would bestow a good luck kiss upon them. Confused by this, the roving band of malcontents pressed on into the depths below Ghoulardia Pass.

As they wound through the corridors beneath the keep and countryside, they found many strange things. They passed another chamber full of the vermilion earth, and eventually found their way to an iron door, bearing a wrought iron skeleton with scroll work declaring it the crypt of Count Gore De Vol and his legion. As Cliff forced the door, he caught a poison dart in his neck, but it didn't really phase him.

A blue glow suffused the corridor, as inside, an eerie sight awaited them. The room was an ossuary with an open iron coffin at it's center. Skulls and bones floated through the room like leaves in a chill autumn wind, with blueish sparks of electricity arcing between them.

The group sent the hapless henchman Wilkins in to investigate, and he got zapped badly for his trouble before fleeing the room. So they sent the skeleton of Gretch the grimling in. Whatever eerie electric force was causing the bones to float caught the obedient skeleton up, and he floated lazily about the room rigidly holding his torch until they dragged him out by the rope around his spinal column.

Gretch! Stop clowning around!

Since homanculus' and electricity go together like chocolate and peanut butter, they sent Cliff in. He caught a few of the floating skulls in a sack, where they continued to float and spark. He also caught a few nasty shocks, before they instructed him to close the coffin. When he did, whatever uncanny effect was happening got switched off, and the remaining bones tumbled roughly to the floor.

Taking the door beyond the coffin, they came to a long ramp downward, that appeared to be some kind of set off stairway trap. They secured a rope and lowered themselves down, moving carefully to avoid slipping and sliding to their doom.

At the bottom, they found a room open to the sky, covered in twining tree roots. As they moved across it, the tree roots began to move, and formed into a horrible nondescript form that lashed out with two mighty tendrils.

In Ghoulardia Pass, problem gets to root of YOU!

Another desperate battle ensued, with blade and fire meeting the crushing force of the animated roots. The faithful skeleton Gretch was crushed and cracked like so many matchsticks, and Marvin the henchman had his head incontinently popped off by a squeezing vine, before they felled the thing.

In the burnt roots on the ground, the group saw a glitter, and were overjoyed to find a wealth of gold and jewels hidden beneath the twisted thatch of roots. They filled their sacks, loaded their intrepid mule Priscilla (Who had been following them the whole time so quietly as to not even be mentioned in this gripping narrative, and who also is still not painted enough to show up in photos on this blog.)

The party moved on until they found an odd corner of the dungeon where several barrels of slaughterhouse waste were stacked beside a wheelbarrow and a jug of sleeping potion, which in turn were next to a large metal funnel and a strongly secured iron door. They slid aside the peep hole, and saw something large and shaggy moving around in the dark chamber beyond.

Thinking quickly, and quite deviously, Kolomalu brought out the jug of poisoned blood that he'd made in the keep's wine cellar, and poured it in thru the funnel. The group was rewarded with the sounds of stirring and growls in the chamber, followed by the sound of something large lapping up liquid from a bowl. This, in turn was followed by a tumult of gagging and wretching, as the door shook with the thing's pounding. Then silence.

They shot the bolt and looked inside, finding a huge, rat like monster lying dead on the floor of the cave.

Who's the bigger rat here? Who indeed?

The party closed the door and moved on, and found themselves at a T juncture. They followed the north hall, and found their way to a hallway that ended in a half flooded room with a coffin floating within. Leaving Priscilla behind, they used the coffin like a boat, searching the walls and finding a secret door.

It's the only way to travel!

Beyond, they discovered a chamber full of various sized jars, from bell jar sized to gigantic, each containing a twisted rat like creature, from field mouse sized to man sized. They decanted one of the small ones, and it lay on the floor gasping and writhing, before being pocketed by Kolomalu as a souvenir/pet/snack/what-have-you.

They found a set of stairs leading up, which led to a room with a pressure plate at the top of the stairs that caused a spring loaded iron bar to snap shut on Wilkins the henchman's neck, bearing him painfully to the floor, nearly killing him.

Cliff lifted the bar off of his neck and they proceeded, to a pair of iron doors that were securely locked. Since none of the group were skilled at lock picking, and since it was getting late (or early, since this WAS a party of nightcrawlers), they decided to double back, collect Priscilla, and leave the catacombs.

When they floated back across the flooded room, they discovered no mule, but a smear of blood with hand size, clawed tracks crisscrossing it. Which is really to be expected when you leave overloaded livestock out in a monster infested dungeon, but who am I, your narrator, to say?

They followed the blood trail to a wooden door that had been gnawed out from inside. They heard furtive scrapings and scrabblings inside, and decided to lead with some flasks of flaming oil. This did the trick, as it sent the denizens of the room scurrying for their hidey holes, cursing in a gibbering patois of common tongue and rat squeaks. They entered, as beady eyes watched them from the edge of the light, and found the half eaten corpse of their pack beast. The party grabbed their sacks of gold and jewels and backed out of the room, with hissing invective chittered after them.

They made their way to the root choked room, and climbed up the walls into the misty pine forests of Ghoulardia Pass, and fled in the creeping rays of the sickly morning sun, never to be heard from in this neck of the woods again.

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