the Goblin King and the Lord of Werewolves have renewed their ancient alliance beneath the Howling Tower;
and the secret treasury of the ancient Bronding Kings is said to lie somewhere behind the Brokenbrand Falls, haunted by enchanting naiads.
This time around we had three players and three NPC hirelings/pets:
Foz (free goblin 1, a fragile creature with 1 hp)
"Hap" Hama (NPC, Foz's hireling, a normal woman, plate armor, 1 hp)
Tore (half-orc fighter 1/cleric 1, also with 1 hp)
Bear (NPC mastiff, armored, a 2HD monster with 11 hp)
and, showing up just as the party reached the dungeon entrances,
Athelstan (hardy yeoman 2) with his hireling,
Johanna (NPC normal woman, plate armor, 1 hp)
The group included two "old hand" players who've played in my games over the years, and so questions about mercenaries for hire and war dogs to buy were asked in town while buying equipment; the potential dogs this week included an orc mastiff, bred and trained to fight orcs, but at 75 gp it was too expensive, and the party opted instead for the normal mastiff (still a good buy for first level characters!). They also hired Hama in town because she was already equipped with plate armor (though leery at the prospect of accompanying a goblin and a half-orc, she accepted their offered rate of 7 gp per week, a little above what she would have personally asked for).
Foz and Tore didn't debate long on which of the three entrances to go for--the Glimmervaults populated with orcs seemed the "safest" for low hp first level characters, so to the Glimmervaults they went (also, rumors of glimmering "stars" on the cave ceilings, be they magic stars or possibly diamonds ... that, and Foz's player vaguely remembered the Glimmervaults from when I ran it years ago, before this restocking/redrawing).
Nothing molested them on their way out to the mountain, and when they arrived at the dungeon, they found two possible entrances into the hillside beneath which lay the vaults; to the east, a cave entrance, clearly trafficked, with several spears and poles outside bearing human, elf, and orc heads; and to the west about 200 feet a grotto of rock sank into the hillside with a quieter cave entrance piercing the slope.
It was at the point of approaching the western entrance in the grotto that Athelstan appeared, Johanna following behind him. Happy for the extra hp, the party put Athelstan in front (coming from sturdy peasant stock, he has 11 hp at level 2).
Heading into the cave entrance at the bottom of the grotto, the party entered into and explored a series of large irregular caverns, thick with stalactites and stalagmites. In the second chamber, they smelled a musty wet-dog smell, but saw no life; in the third they found two sets of steps carved into the stone, one heading down and to the south, the other up and to the east, probably to the upper caverns nearer the "front door" with the spiked heads.
At the back of the cavern, however, the party saw a formation of flowstone that caught their attention, and upon searching it, Foz found a secret door hidden within (being a goblin, he can discover secret doors like an Elf, on a 1 or 2 on a d6). This door opened into a long pillared hall with a corridor leading from both the east and west walls; the end of the hall opened into a room with a statue of a woman pouring water over a carved figure in funerary wrappings (and a door on the south wall, which they ignored). A search of the statue found a basin of scummy water with something green, slimy, and caustic in the pool, but nothing more.
|Thus flowstone--but with a door secreted somewhere within|
Exploring first to the west, the party found a common burial room with stacks of bones and burial niches in the walls, a search through which discovered 3 silvered death masks. They also found an empty tomb. That was the end of that section, so they turned east.
The eastern corridor branched first to the north, which opened into a tomb with a great bronze sarcophagus, inscribed with the name GALAD, and depicting battles between knights and orcs. While inspecting this sarcophagus, I finally rolled wandering monsters, and 3 orcs came walking down the corridor, neither party being surprised. The characters pushed Tore to the front to speak orcish to his half-fellows, and he gave them a cursory greeting. They demanded to know, "What are you doing in the territory of the Blacktooth Tribe?" to which Tore responded with the signal to attack.
This fight was short and deadly for the orcs--in the first round, Bear tore into one orc with a vengeance, while Tore brained his fellow; then Tore proceeded to stove the last orc's forehead in with a critical hit with his mace the next round. The bodies were looted for a paltry 10 gp, then deposited down the corridor in the common bone room.
Back at the GALAD sarcophagus, the party opened it up and found a gold death mask on the man's remains. They looted that, then proceeded down the corridor and found another room off a southern branch of the main corridor. This room contained five statues of knights, their faces broken off, each labeled with a name: GALAD; ALDARES; ALDANUS; HORUS; HONORUS. And on the west wall, an iron plaque inscribed with a curse: "The tribe of Galad is destroyed root and branch ... this place is accursed." (there's more in the middle, but Foz didn't record it all)
Somewhat spooked by the promise of a curse, the party traipsed back to the chamber with the statue of the woman washing the body and opened the door to the south. It opened into a room with a scummy well in the center, and iron grille work along the north wall that contained a large amount of silver ewers, bowls, candlesticks, etc. Alas, the party did not check the ceiling, and while Foz was checking the grille for traps, a colony of green slime dropped onto him from above.
|Beware the green slime on the ceiling!|
At 1 hp, Foz was knocked unconscious (and next to dead) when Tore applied a torch to the slime and dealt damage to both it and hapless Foz, no matter that he tried to only affect the slime. With the goblin unconscious and dying at his feet, Tore began to strip the armor off the goblin, hoping to strip the slime off with it; luckily, the slime came off--unluckily, it came off on and attached to Tore's arm. Turning to Athelstan, Tore proffered his arm, and Athelstan tried to burn only the slime--and rolled a 1 on the d6 to successfully harm only the slime, killing it with a lucky roll of max damage with the torch.
With a fallen companion on their hands, the party decided to quickly force the doors of the grille, loot the silver, and let that be the end. But of course, on their way out, the wandering monster roll indicated an encounter. I rolled it up--6 giant cave crickets, insouciant and feasting on lichens and molds. The party skirted around the large insects, emerged back into daylight, and scurried their way home.
Back in town, everyone agreed to carouse after splitting the loot. Athelstan leveled up to third level with a high roll; Foz rolled within his funds and made his save; but poor Tore rolled beyond his means and was forced to borrow 139 gp from the thieves' guild to make ends meet. The last thing he asked me as we ended the session was whether he could do a dirty deed on behalf of the guild to make things "right" between them--well, I'll just have to come up with something for next time, and let him decide what it's worth to have his debt "forgotten"!