Sunday, November 28, 2010

LL at Paul's: If at first you don't succeed...

Guh... Turrrrkkeeyyyy....

Okay, so here we are back again at the ostensibly weekly recount of my action packed Labyrinth Lord game with my buddy Paul and the 10d Gamers. Last week, being so close to the holiday, was canceled, which is good since otherwise this would be another of my increasingly frequent double postings. So let us begin, shall we?

When last we left off, our gratuitous band of dungeon duffers had lowered ourselves down the caldera of a smoking volcano with a huge skull carved in the side, to take our vengeance on the bandit gang/cult that made their home there. After getting cornered by bowfire and fire of a non-bow variety we'd lost our trusty ranger Jantz, and had come very close to a tpk.

So back we went. We lowered our elf mage Hearth down and he discovered a small crevice along a tiny ledge with a combination of his night vision and his uncanny elf ability to find secret doors. Then, one by one we lowered down, each party member wearing a Ring of Feather Fall in case of emergencies, which we ferried up as each of us took a turn, until finally Klint climbed down using his thief climbing skill, coiling up the rope along with him. It concealed our tracks, but also made this a one way trip.

We inched our way along the small tunnel in pitch blackness, with Hearth in the lead with a rope tied around his waist that we all held onto. He came across a 2 foot hole in the floor, that he marked with a candle and stepped over.

Eventually, he came to a wall of inpenetrable blackness, opaque to all forms of vision. I seem to recall we rearranged the order and sent Klint up first, with his magic see in the dark hat. He proceeded thru the darkness, armed with a hastily planned out code for how many tugs on the rope meant what. After a short time, the rope started tugging, so we warily crept forward.

I don't remember the circumstances exactly (too much pie in the intervening time), but I do recall here that my metagame senses were tingling. Paul went off with the lead guy's player for a sideboard, and when he came back his descriptions of the rope signals and such made me really paranoid that our scout had been eaten and something was trying to fish us in.

Well, it turned out that wasn't the case. We made it to the other side of the 20' of blackness intact, although what we found there was in no way pleasant. In a forty foot diameter room we found an unholy idol that just RADIATED bad vibes. Far as I can figure, this is where Cooper the thief turned high priest found what passes for his religion.

I was really tempted to cast Bless on the thing to see what might happen, but on the other hand you don't pull the "self destruct" lever on anything without a clear way out, so we rain checked desecrating (consecrating? resecrating?) the evil altar. Probably a good thing. Klint touched it and got drained several points of strength. This was a seriously angry piece of furniture.

So we moved on, heading through a passage to the south and down. With painful memories of our prior experience down here in the Obsidian Order's complex, we were really careful/paranoid about traps, checking at every juncture we came to.

As we nosed around, it eventually became clear we were on the same level as we explored last week, with the pit traps and the fake doors and whatnot, and thus were able to connect the two maps.

We eventually got the the place where Jantz and Frog had fallen afoul of the crushing blocks trap, as our raspy voiced henchman recognised the hallway. Since he recalled a tripwire somewhere, we carefully searched the floor until we found it, noting it for future reference. Satisfied that we'd circumvented this trap, we pressed on.

And hit the second tripwire for the trap around the corner, causing a crushalanche of crushing.

Sigh... Sometimes it hurts...

Nobody was killed, but we all got seriously crunched up. Them's the breaks when 80% of the party is still first level or just slightly above. I think there were several crits that caused the Deacon to have to use up all of his Cure Light Wounds to get everybody moving.

And move we did, the heck outta dodge. Mercifully (more or less) by connecting up our maps we knew there was a way up and out, through the mouth of the big skull and down the mountain.

So we backtracked, passing by areas we remembered well due to the scars and burns, heading up the stairs and into the chamber with the black statue, then out.

As the only guys still functioning, the Deacon and Kashim staged a lightning raid on the guard post above, hitting the two bandits standing watch and taking them out before they knew what hit 'em. That cleared the way for us to get out without arrows and flaming oil chasing us, and we scampered back to the hideout cave that Bors and the Haberdashers had shown us to rest and recoup.

So flash forward to a couple days later. We've rested and healed, replenished our spells, and so we formed a plan, which was pretty much the same plan as before since there's no way the denizens of the mountain would expect us to do the same thing twice in a row. And for all they knew shoddy rope was what caused the crushing block trap to go off.

So up the mountain and down the caldera for us again. Same method of descent, lowered elf, ring of Feather Fall, Klint klimbing down after us, down the tunnel.

But here we changed our plan. We decided to see where the vertical shaft that Hearth had left the candle beside went to. We lowered Klint down with a rope around his ankles, and he came to a point where the shaft bent until it leveled off to become a tunnel. This he followed, until he came to a secret door leading into an illuminated room of some sort. After several back and forths, we all decided to crawl down there, leaving a rope hooked to the edge of the hole in case we needed to beat a not particularly hasty retreat.

Klint took the lead, and opened up what turned out to be a hatch underneath a workbench of some kind. Once we made sure the room was empty, we poked our noses out and checked the room out.

It seemed to be some kind of counting house, which implied *treasure* someplace nearby. There was the workbench, with several slots marked with different denominations of coins over buckets on the floor. There was a desk, that contained a ledger listing an awesome stash of treasure. (And if you can't see a hook with a nice juicy worm wriggling on it here, then you need to play more D&D. Do it now! Go!), as well as a magically glowing stone. Along one wall there were several sets of manacles. I guess the bandits did a l'il fact finding, in the medieval sense, in here too. The Deacon searched the writing desk, and palmed the glowing stone as a handy, dandy light source.

There were two exits from this room, so we checked 'em out. One led up to a set of stairs ending in a door, which we left alone thinking since this was probably the "Authorized Personnel Only" area we'd probably set off some kind of trap going thru it.

The other lead to a hall. We crept down it, and found a room off of the right side. Inside, three figures were tied to chairs, blindfolded with their heads lolling as if ensorcelled or knocked out. One was an acolyte of the temple that Kashim' had offended with his mighty nakedness, one was a swarthy gentleman of fighting aspect, and one was nondescript, kind of like a character who hadn't been created yet. The room they were in was painted with crazy, hypnotic patterns, and there was a glowing candelabra on the table.

The Deacon cast Protection from Evil on himself and went in with Kashim to check the prisoners out. They were unresponsive. We were nervous about the glowing object in the middle of the table. Either it was just a light source, or it had some kind of brainwashing or otherwise inimical effect, so we gave it a wide berth. We dragged the hapless captives out of their chairs and out into the hall, where their sluggish movements told us they'd probably been drugged. (Okay, Paul told us they'd probably been drugged, but work with me...)

So we decided to press on, with the contents of the treasure ledger dancing in our heads like sugar plums. We came to a fork in the tunnel, both branches quite dark, and decided to fan out to look down them.

Suddenly, Evund Knifewielder, our henchman, came over with a bad case of stabbing as a sinister figure faded out of the darkness and got the drop on him. One hit and the poor schook was dead. Enraged and confused, we pressed our attack, but found this guy a tough customer. He started throwing cleric spells at us, and managed to avoid my Hold Person. As the fight wore on, he started feeling pressed, and whistled up a bunch of lizard men to come help him.

After a long slugfest, we eventually conquered the lizards, but we were beaten up pretty bad once again. In the most tragic turn of events, Klint took a nasty slash and lost a leg! I used my last Cure Light Wounds to unfreeze Kashim from a Hold Person spell the evil cleric cast.

Still, we figured that this was probably the infamous Cooper, based on his combination of higher level cleric spells and theifly backstab abilities. We couldn't afford to let him get away, so we left Frog watching our suddenly unidextrous thief and the poor drugged up dopes back by the psychedelic room and charged down the tunnel through which Cooper fled.

Once there, we found a huge temple apparently consecrated to some kind of reptilian proto god.

It was empty, save for the tyrannosaurus idol and a couple of flickering braziers. (Flickering brassieres is a different temple, fraught with different perils.) We couldn't find hide nor hair of Cooper, so we doubled back to rejoin our sizable injured reserve list. Since we had more walking wounded then functional party members, we sadly had to leave Evund's body behind. Here's hopin' it don't come back after us all zombied up. (And in case you get any ideas, Paul, I can turn the crap out of a zombie now, so don't try anything funny...)

We dragged everyone back to the counting room and escaped via the hidden door, dragging a one legged man and a trio of doped up goofballs up the tunnel and then made our nervous way forward through the darkness and into the temple room with the nasty altar. From there we doubled back on our escape path once again, and once again lucked out meeting no resistance. The guard room was empty, so we took off down the mountain to our hidey cave, and that's were we wrapped.

So all told, pretty crazy. Two assaults on the mountain, two times the mountain assaulted us back and took it out of our hides. A lot of near misses and nail biting suspense. This place is HARD!

On the plus side, we figure that the acolyte guy we found was the subject of Kashim's quest spell, so all we have to do is take him back to Wildwood and that will be settled. The other two guys are replacement characters for the late, lamented Jantz and Gentleman Jack Getz, so it'll be interesting to meet 'em. I think we're done with Skull Mountain for now, but we'll probably come back and square up accounts once we've leveled up.

Speaking of which, the Deacon finally made 5th. level this go round, so I now have access to 3rd. level spells like Remove Curse and Cure Disease, which is awesome.

Our other high level character, Klint, is now something of a question. Unfortunately, all this nasty stuff happened to him while his player was out, so I'm not sure how he's gonna want to proceed now that his character is short a leg and strength drained to boot. (Only one boot, though.) Is he gonna strap on a peg leg and soldier on, or is he gonna retire to a farm and spend his days stealing eggs from his chickens? Can't say.

Anyway, all told, more fun than you can shake a 10' pole at. Thanks again to Paul, and to the rest of the 10d gamers for another hoopy session.

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