[Welcome back! After taking a week off for the wedding of two of my players, we resumed adventuring, picking up exactly where we started. We also worked out a timeline for the manor house Quillian is having built. According to the rules in ACKS, the entire property – including a mansion, a shrine, and a library wing would take all of 7 days, which seems ridiculously short. At the moment I’m ruling it takes longer (3 weeks once the materials arrive), but I suddenly need to dig into that portion of the rules to get better answers. More on this later.]
[Also? SPOILERS! This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]
Radagast the Wanderer – male human Mage, 2nd level
Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 3rd level
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 3rd level
Frank the Cleric – male human cleric of Silvanus, down to loot
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]
Kord – male human Bard, seeks tales of heroism to tell…and exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
Chick-Magnet – female war dog (0-level), actually a male man-at-arms cursed into a different form
Peldar and Nollan – professional torchbearers
An army of laborers and guards to guard them.
Cromsday, May 9th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
In the evening and at the Brazen Strumpet, Quillian was approached by the head engineer on his manor construction project. The engineer, Artur Blackrod, informed Quillian that construction was delayed two whole days at this point because “some fool hired all the workers in this town and the next one.” As the person who had hired all of those people, Quillian warned him that the setback would be three days as that “fool” was hiring all of them again tomorrow. With that understanding achieved, but went back to their drinking.
Freysday, May 10th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
In the early morning, with the horde of workers collected in front of the Mercenary Guild, The Motley Crew [the player characters] cut loose the diggers as they did not plan on uncovering another barrow this day, but instead investigate the barrow unearthed two days ago. Quillian did point out that there was a construction project over behind the graveyard that was very much in need of workers and they could find work there until the next barrow needed to be uncovered. The diggers talked amongst themselves and decided that not having to tromp through the swamp was a good thing and went off looking for the lead engineer on this construction site they’d just heard about.
Tromping through the Barrowmoor Radagast and Harkyn both spotted a small part of the swamp walking towards the group. There was some initial confusion as to what it was, but Radagast eventually identified it as a “shambling mound” from a book he had once read and suggested it was very dangerous. The group ran.
Unfortunately, the shambling mound was able to keep the large group in sight and caught up [it didn’t have to avoid any of the terrains in the moors]. It attempted to attack Kord and surprisingly missed entirely [I rolled a 4 and a 1 on the attack rolls]. The shambling mound accidentally attacked a tree, which sprung back and hit it, so the mound “went to town” on the tree [it was not the sharpest thorn in the bush], allowing the adventurers and their laborers to flee.
Once the adventurers and their hirelings arrived at the field of barrows, the adventurers checked Barrow 30 to verify it still unoccupied. Quickly determining it was safe, they waved in the laborers to finish packing up the library. Meanwhile, the adventurers, Norman, Chick-Magnet, and the torch bearers Peldar and Nollan headed over to Barrow 29 to investigate the recently excavated entrance. Brock spent 20 minutes with a sledgehammer smashing the sealing stone, eventually shattering it and providing access to the barrow.
Justifiably cautious, the adventurers tossed a lit torch down the stairs. It landed on a landing with the stairs continued down to the right. The group organized themselves and cautiously went down the stairs, regularly checking the ceiling [that gray ooze in Barrow 5 really left a psychological mark]. At the landing, Brock picked up the still burning torch and tossed it down the next flight of stairs. This illuminated a hallway running to the left and descending to the right.
The adventurers descended again and Brock saw both passages only went ten feet and then ended in a doorway. The group went left down the short hall. Brock pushed open the door and discovered the hall went another 10 feet and then opened into the corner of a room. The group advanced slowly and just as Brock was peaking around the corner to inspect the room, he was jumped by a wight! The wight landed a blow and Brock felt his vital essences being drained from his body. Without need to consult each other, the entire group immediately fled back to the surface. The only exception was Quillian who delayed leaving only long enough to pull the door shut in front of the wight, giving Kord time to turn and flee.
Back on the surface, the group rested while keeping an eye on the barrow entrance [they were fairly certain the wight would not venture into the daylight, but not 100% certain]. While catching their breaths and letting their hearts calm, they discussed where to go next. They decided to return to Barrow 20 and use the hidden entrance to the Barrowmaze there. They knew where a secret door was and wanted to explore that, hoping to find some treasure.
The group opened the hidden entrance and descended down the narrow stairs, deep into the ground to the Barrowmaze. They quietly walked in the silence across the hall to the secret door, Harkyn insisting that the debris be prodded for centipedes. There were none.
Brock then opened the secret door. Beyond was a 30x50 foot chamber, its walls covered with burial alcoves and with a low mausoleum occupying the center of the chamber. Debris on the floor indicated that the ceiling was unstable and portions could fall at any time. With no loot for their troubles so far, the group spread out and started searching the alcoves. Ten minutes in, they heard a crack of stone breaking and part of the ceiling came down on them!
All the adventurers were injured, but Quillian and Kord went down under the stones and rock and stayed down. Frank used his healing touch on Quillian before the rocks stopped falling [bringing him to 0 hit points] and poured a healing potion into Kord’s mouth. Both regained consciousness, but were weak and Quillian’s remaining good hand was crushed beyond use by one of the stones that fell on him, leaving the mage with no hands. [They knew it was going to be bad when he rolled a 3 on the d6 on the Mortality Table - nothing good happens on a 3.]
There was a debate about continuing to search the alcoves [the job only being half done] or just leaving at this point. With still no loot in the loot sack, greed won out. Quillian, Kord, and the torchbearers stepped out of the room while Brock, Harkyn, Radagast, and Chick-Magnet resumed the search. Twenty minutes later, more of the ceiling came down on them. Injured some more, but not fatally, they finished their search and found a mere 121 sp. This reward in no way matched the risk.
Greed still gnawing at their hearts, they decided to open the mausoleum and search that. At least they would be protected by any further collapse of the ceiling. Inside, they faced a coffer corpse! Radagast immediately identified it [he apparently read all the books on monsters while at wizard school] and warned the other adventurers about it. Forewarned, the adventurers quickly downed the coffer corpse and kept hitting the pile of bones until they were certain it was down for good. They then looted a gold crown and two jeweled bracers – a valuable haul!
Convinced they had been here long enough [now that there was valuable loot in the loot bag], the adventurers returned to the surface and headed over to Barrow 30 to assist in loading the last of the library. During this effort, two final holy writs were located in the library and added to the loot bag.
On the way back to Helix, the group came across piles of bloody, pulped meat with large beaks identifying them as axe-beaks. It appeared they were attacked and killed by animated statues! A little more leery, the expedition finished its hike to Helix. Several members of the adventuring party went to the Shrine of St. Ygg for healing.
Yggsday, May 11th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Most of the group spent the day hiking over to Ironguard Motte. Quillian needed restore life and limb cast upon him to return his hands. Being a follower of Silvanus, the ritual of St. Ygg left him disturbed and muttering to himself. He, like Kord, will need two weeks of bedrest to fully recover.
While in a larger town, Brock put out word he was looking to acquire some magical plate mail. There was none immediately for sale, but he was willing to wait a bit and see what showed up or he discovered while prowling the town.
Meanwhile, back in Helix, Kord was determined to spend his two weeks of bedrest as enjoyably as possible and started squandering his money on wine, women, and song. [His player knows that Kord will not last long with only 3 hit points at third level, so he’s establishing a reserve fund of xp for his next character.]
End of Session
[So the players now hate energy drain. I prefaced the fight by stating they were about to face one of the most feared attacks in all D&D. I’m not certain they were convinced until Brock was hit and lost that level. THAT was when they decided to run. Brock was within 1000 xp of level 4 and would have made it this session, but instead had to recover level 3. I was generous and put him just below the xp for 3rd level, so he didn’t effectively lose two levels in that one attack. That was the “warning shot”, next time it is rules as written.]
[Also? Frank the Cleric made it to 2nd level, so the party finally has healing magic that doesn’t come from a bottle…]