Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Delvers Guild – Session 14 – Vines and Pyramid

[The Delvers continue to desecrate…, err, ”explore” the Vine Crypt until sundown.  Being university students they choose to stay up late exploring the Pyramid Tomb after dinner.  It coughs up a surprise!]

[This game uses the Fifth Revised Edition of the Hero System rules along with the Fantasy Hero supplement.  This session happened September 16, 2019.]

Player Characters:
Jala – human female – a person of discretion, studying aspects of the Law [to avoid them] at the Dusk Academy
Clarence – human male – studies Religion in Temples district, coincidentally the group healer
Vorgand – human female – professional porter and Adventurer’s Aide, irregularly attends classes at The Tested military academy, practitioner of Steel Serpent martial arts
Zarek the Red – fox male – a cerebrally-unfettered spell researcher [read: Mad Scientist] turned into a talking fox, studying Natural Philosophy at Monarch University to find a way to become human again
Ricky the Astrologer – human male – has a thirst for knowledge but doesn’t know what he’s searching for, currently studying Astrology at Monarch University
Nick Stalwart – human male – part of the Stalwart family of merchants, studying Mathematics at The Interesting Institute of Profitable People, a college at Monarch University

Non-Player Characters:
Torsten, Fish, Harek – surviving bandits and now torchbearers for the Delvers Guild

Freysday, October 25th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
~1:30 PM at gate location 3-2
After looting the 16 sarcophagi in the first crypt they opened in the elven graveyard, the Delvers took stock of what they had found.

  • Five of the dead had copper coins covering their eyes (10 copper coins total from the Elven Imperium)
  • Three loose gems: a turquoise, a beryl, and a citrine
  • Three potions
  • Four doses worth of an herb
  • A magic whetstone
  • A magic cloak
  • A magic warhammer
  • A magic arrow
  • Magic leather armor

The Delvers took time as a group attempting to identify the magic items.  Zarek’s alchemical lore allowed him to easily identify the three potions: a potion of Wraithform [5 minutes of Desolidification without stop], Oil of Impact [+3 DC with applied weapon for 1 hour], and a potion of Heroism [multiple bonuses for combat for 1 hour]!  He was also able to identify the whetstone as an Enchanted Whetstone that made blades sharpened with it extra accurate [+1 OCV for an hour after 1 Turn of honing].

Clarence was able to identify the herb as Imhassil, a herb good for healing damaged or impaired organs.  Jala and Vorgand went over the other items with their general knowledge of thing valuable [KS: Loot-wise, see notes at the end].  They agreed the cloak was a Cloak of the Bat due to its cut, but neither were certain what it actually does.  Picking up the warhammer immediately provided the person holding it 360 degree vision, which was surprising, and both agreed it seemed to do something else but weren’t certain what.  Neither was able to learn any of the details on the leather armor.  Since the armor was lighter than anything the group was already wearing [meaning they had better protection], it went into the loot bag.

Jala was able to identify the Arrow of Rage.  It provides a combat bonus [+1 OCV] when on ones person, but also provides a 11-/11- Enraged when in combat.  Once enraged the bearer gains additional combat bonuses and penalties versus their target of anger.  No one wanted to carry this item and it was eventually taken back through the gate and sat on the moon couch in the gate room.

Ricky investigated the sarcophagi themselves and found name plates on them.  The names were all in High Elven but none of the family names repeated.  Also, the dates listed referenced different “Year of the Invasion” in a similar way to the Aegean calendar referencing the year of the reign of the current king.  He had no idea what invasion was being referenced, so was uncertain how old these graves were.  He made notes so he could research it later, back at the university.

Jala explained to the other Delvers that she had located another tomb that looked promising.  The Delvers followed her back to the Vine Crypt.  The group squeezed through the gap Jala had earlier cut in the vine wall around the crypt.  Ricky pulled out the sledgehammer and started working on the stone slab covering the entrance.  While he did this, Zarek investigated the area for magic.  He discovered that the vine wall was a result of magic promoting the growth of the vines but also limiting them to the fence.

Once Ricky broke through the stone slab and pushed aside the larger pieces of stone, found behind it was a small, cramped chamber with two sarcophagi flanking a set of narrow, steep stairs descending to a lower chamber.  The two sarcophagi were decorated with a weird landscape, showing a forest scene with trees and plants the Delvers have never seen before.  Vorgand wanted to open these two sarcophagi first, so, with Ricky’s help, she opened them, one at a time.  Both held a long dead elf corpse.  Ricky checked the nameplates on the sarcophagi and found they shared a family name, suggesting this crypt was a family crypt.

After throwing a lit torch down the stairs, the Delvers made their way down the narrow, steep stairs to the lower chamber.  The lower chamber had an arched ceiling [it was the first thing the Delvers checked] and the stone walls were carved in bas relief of the strange forest shown on the sarcophagi above ground.  There was also an offering altar in to the north [across the chamber from where the stairs entered].  The altar had a coat of arms carved into it.  The left half held a heraldic griffin rampant, the right two interlinked circles, one above the other.

The Delvers investigated the chamber – Ricky the east wall, Nick the west wall, and Jala and Clarence the altar.  Vorgand kept watch while Zarek cast detect magic [to no avail].  Ricky’s sharp eyes noticed that a part of the forest scene on the east wall subtly duplicated the heraldry symbol.  Investigating closer, he found it to be the catch for a secret door!  At about the same time, Nick was running his hands across the west wall and found some parts that wiggled.  When Ricky called out his discovery, Nick realized he had found a similar mechanism.

Ricky activated the catch on the east wall, which popped open the secret door.  Beyond it was a short corridor and another small chamber with two sarcophagi in it.  The walls showed more of the strange forest landscape.  Checking the ceiling before entering the chamber, the Delvers noticed a depiction of the sun on the ceiling.  Zarek cast detect magic and Clarence Sense Evil; both came back with negative results.  Opening the sarcophagi, the Delvers found a scroll in one and a wand in the other.  Both detected as magical when Zarek checked.  [Zarek’s Detect Magic is blocked by surfaces, hence his failure to detect the items earlier.]

Very satisfied with their find, the Delvers turned to the western secret door and opened it.  Beyond it was another chamber with two more sarcophagi.  The ceiling in this chamber had a representation of a moon, but not the normal moon seen in the night sky.  Ricky was fairly certain this was a different moon and not just a bad or stylized representation.  He was very puzzled.  Inside the two sarcophagi the delvers found a set of paint jars and a magic staff.  Jala immediately recognized the paint as Aether Paint – when applied to a surface, it made the surface insubstantial for one minute.  There appeared to be 4 uses of the paint available.  Jala was very excited at this!

As the group was leaving the lower chamber, Ricky noticed that the north wall also had the subtle duplication of the coat of arms.  [No one had searched the north wall and Ricky made a PER roll at -4 to notice after he said he was looking around one last time before leaving.]  He called attention to this and the Delvers stopped leaving.  When Ricky opened the secret door, beyond was a third hidden chamber.  The forest scene here was more detailed and the ceiling had gems embedded that seemed to represent the wandering stars in the sky.  Jala nearly pried one out of the ceiling before Vorgand warned they might be trapped.

Inside the sarcophagi, the Delvers found another scroll, a magical fishing net, and some magical partial plate armor that covered the shoulders and the chest.  They took the magical items but left the gems in place [for now] and then returned to the surface.  It was late afternoon and the group was feeling hungry.  The group decided to return to the Moon Manor Ruins to eat a meal and try at identifying the items they had just found.

They returned through the gate and then made their way up to the surface ruins where their camp was.  They were surprised to find that the sun had already set.  While the others worked at getting a fire started and fixing a meal, Vorgand, Jala, and Clarence attempted to identify the magic items and equipment.  They identified the wand as a Wand of Wind, which allows the user to move things around with wind [15 STR TK, uses 1 END per 5 STR, has 100 END].  The partial armor was Plate of Freedom, which allows the wearer to move freely when in water [Environmental Movement: Water].  The fishing net had the same power, but seemed able to do something else that Jala and Vorgand could not work out.  The staff seemed to be clerical in nature, but none of the three could work out what it did.

With two items allowing free movement underwater, the group speculated as to whether or not the magic ear rings they had would allow breathing under water as well as on the moon.  They tested this by having Vorgand going into the lake adjacent to the Moon Manor Ruins and test them by jumping into the lake and attempting to breathe.  Luckily, they worked and she was able to breathe under water and not drown.  After Vorgand dried off, the group sat down to dinner in their camp.

During dinner there was discussion as to whether or not they had enough time to investigate one more tomb.  Vorgand was asked what the adventurers did at Barrowmaze.  She replied that undead activity there seemed to increase after the sun set, so they never stayed that long.  At the elven graveyard, they had yet to run into any undead, so it should be safe to explore a little more.  The rest of the Delvers liked this reasoning and agreed to head back.

~7:00 PM, Moon Manor time
Freshly fed and ready for a late night in the elven graveyard, the Delvers returned down to the gate room, reopened the gate to the elven graveyard, and stepped through.  Here the sun was just setting and it was already dark in the thick forest.  The Delvers approached a pyramid-shaped tomb with a low [four-foot tall] entry.  Rick spent 20 minutes with the sledgehammer breaking in.  Beyond was a narrow and low passage the ended in a pit.  The Delvers threw a lit torch into the pit while standing at the entrance and heard it rattle off the walls of the pit for a bit before hitting bottom.

Satisfied, Zarek floated in, holding a torch in his mouth.  When he got to the edge of the pit he looked down.  The shaft went down 30 feet and he could see a side passage exiting the shaft at the bottom on the opposite wall.  What he couldn’t see was the torch the Delvers had just thrown in.  Additionally, the sounds made by the torch falling had suggested a depth of greater than 30 feet.  This made that floor very suspicious.

Zarek floated back out and (after giving the torch back to Fish) relayed what he’d seen.  This suggested some caution and preparation was needed.  A 50-foot rope was tied to Zarek for Vorgand to play out as Zarek went back in.  Clarence and Ricky would follow to the pit edge to observe what happened.  Nick and the torchbearers stood next to Vorgand at the entrance to the tomb so they could hear what was going on.  Jala sat off to one side, listening in through the earrings of communication that Vorgand, she, and Zarek were wearing.  [Ricky had been wearing the third pair but gave them to Zarek so he could talk directly with Vorgand once he got to the bottom.]  Clarence cast his protective spell on Zarek.  Combined with Zarek’s own Stony Skin spell, they felt he would be well protected against anything he found.

Zarek floated down cautiously, once again holding a torch in his mouth.  When he got to the bottom to the pit he stopped before touching the floor.  He looked down the side passage and could see a short corridor leading to a chamber.  Needing to cast a spell, he flung the torch over into the entrance of the side chamber…

…and set off the trap.

Red runes ignited and a huge gout of flame erupted from the side passage, filling the pit and rising up it!  At the top of the pit Clarence and Ricky’s eyes went wide and they both turned and dove for the entrance, nearly bowling over the torchbearers and Vorgand who themselves dived to either side of the entrance as a tongue of flame erupted out of the tomb entrance, lighting nearby plants and a tree on fire!  After a second or two the flame went out.

Vorgand pulled on the rope to get Zarek (or his body) back to the surface and found she now had a 10-foot rope with a burnt end.  She and Jala called out to Zarek through the earrings of communication.  After a short eternity [nearly 20 seconds], Zarek replied with, “Ouch.” 

The flame had been hot and intense [armor-piercing], so the defensive magics had mostly protected Zarek from being burned alive.  The flame had knocked him out and burned off his exposed fur [ears, muzzle, paws, and tail].  Unconscious, he had fallen another 30 feet onto sharp spikes at the bottom of the pit.  Again, the defensive spells had saved him from becoming a vulpine pincushion.  When he awoke, lying at the bottom of the pit, he found the first torch the Delvers had thrown, still lit.  He relayed all this to Vorgand and Jala.

Clarence and Ricky, after taking time to put out the burning plants with Nick, re-entered the pyramid tomb.  The walls were now blackened with soot.  At the top of the pit they looked down and saw the same 30-foot pit, the bottom suspiciously not blackened.  Looking up from the true bottom, Zarek could easily see Ricky and Clarence and their torch at a distance of 60 feet.  The “bottom” of the pit was a one-way illusion!

Zarek called out to Ricky and Clarence and told them to get clear of the entrance, he was going to throw the original torch into the side passage and see if the trap was self-resetting.  They and the rest of the Delvers cleared out from the entrance and gave Zarek the go ahead.  Zarek grabbed the original torch, floated up to a point just under the illusionary floor [where there was no blackening] and flipped the torch up and over, into the entrance of the side passage.

Once again flame erupted out of the side passage, rose up through the pit, and blasted out through the entrance of the pyramid tomb, setting plants and trees on fire.  The flame also provided Zarek enough light to notice two things: the “bottom” of the pit was subtly sculpted to channel the flames upwards only and there was a second side passage below the illusory floor and on the pit wall under the entrance.

Out of light sources once the flame eruption ended, Zarek floated back up to the surface.  Clarence cast a healing spell to heal the burns Zarek had taken from the first flame eruption.  This did not restore Zarek’s missing fur beyond a low fuzz.  Additionally, Zarek’s padded cloth armor was singed all over.

Once the Delvers had put out the burning forest again, Zarek took another torch and floated back into the pyramid crypt.  This time he ignored the first side passage, sank through the illusionary floor, and entered the second side passage.  This passage was only ten feet deep and Zarek stopped before entering the chamber beyond.  That chamber was approximately 20 feet square.  The side walls were lined with fat, round, lidded urns about two feet tall.  There was an ornately-carved stone door on the opposite wall.

Zarek set the torch in his mouth down beside him so he could cast Detect Magic.  This triggered a Magic Mouth on the wall beside him that intoned a command phrase.  The tops of the lidded urns lifted as the skeleton contained in each one stood up and assembled, their skulls burning with a baleful blue flame!

End of Session

[So we borrowed Loot-wise from the Burning Wheel RPG.  It is good for quickly identifying what is valuable and what isn’t and will provide some help at identifying magic items depending on how common the item is.  I usually provide one function of every 2 full points the PC makes the skill check by.  Jala and Vorgand rolled separately for each item they were trying to identify and usually made the roll by 2-3 points.  I think if they had assisted each other they would have done better.  Maybe they will learn some cooperation over time.]

[So the time difference thing is due to the elven graveyard being much further west than the Moon Manor Ruin, like two time zones west, hence the two hour time difference.  The players have worked.  In games, Ricky, being an astrologer, is working this out and it is telling him something he might not have known.  I haven’t decided if humans know their world is round or not.  Magic and the ability to commune with gods makes it possible they already know or at least some know.  As an astrologer, it is entirely possible that Ricky has read something about this already.  Now he has proof.  Perhaps a scholarly paper might come out of it, earning him his degree from the university.  Maybe he’ll keep it secret.  Who knows?]

Delvers Guild
Session A, Character Creation Part 1
Session B, Character Creation Part 2
Session 01

Session 10
Session 11
Session 12
Session 13

Session 15

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