[November 16th – Sudden return from the moon, some exploration of the underwater gate, and planning for the winter.]
[This game uses the Fifth Revised Edition of the Hero System rules along with the Fantasy Hero supplement. This session happened October 19, 2020.]
Jala – human female – a person of discretion, studying aspects of the Law [to avoid them] at the Dusk Academy
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
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
Vorgand – human female – professional porter and Adventurer’s Aide, irregularly attends classes at The Tested military academy, practitioner of Steel Serpent martial arts, and Guildmaster of the Delvers Guild
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
Not Appearing This Session
Clarence – human male – studies Religion in Temples district, coincidentally the group healer
Torsten, Fish, Harek – ex-bandits, now The Torchbearers for the Delvers Guild
Konrad Moonclub – Stalwart family factor in Little Wytheford
Orm Oxdriver – driver of the guild’s over-sized, double-decker vardo
Yggsday, November 16th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
Up on the moon, inside the structure adjacent to the portal, the Delvers were recovering from the fight with the shadows. Ricky happened to be looking around and realized that it was approaching 3:00 PM back at the Moon Manor, which was the point where the moon was no longer directly overhead there and the gate to the moon stopped functioning! Ricky warned the other Delvers that the portal to the moon would soon close for the day. The Delvers rushed back to the portal area and ferried the rest of the behir treasure to the moon and put the couch back for storage. They kept on their persons all the small gems [basically all the gems but the large malachite orb], 1 elven art object, 1 gold ingot, and a belt pouch of gold coins each. Zarek had platinum coins instead of gold.
As 3:00 approached, the portal started to waver, forcing the Delvers to rush to get back through it to the Moon Manor. At precisely 3:00 the portal blipped and showed the empty cavern that made Zarek nervous and uneasy when he was in it. Zarek removed the power stone and closed the portal while the group talked.
The Delvers debated if they wanted to explore further on this trip and where they wanted to go. After a short discussion, they opted to explore the portal location that opened underwater. Jala was reluctant to go as she was not certain how her shadowjumping would work underwater. Also, Ricky was very concerned about how slow he would be moving and that his lack of swimming might get him killed. To alleviate both sets of concerns, Nick loaned out his net that provided freedom of movement underwater to Ricky. Then suggested Ricky and Zarek should go through the portal first and Ricky would attempt to shadowwalk underwater to verify it was possible to do so safely.
The control cubes were set to the address of the underwater location and the power stone placed on the control cabinet. The portal opened, showing the receiving room on the other side. Ricky set aside his backpack, book, and scrolls. Ricky and Zarek went through the portal and were instantly wet. The magic earrings provided air for them to breathe, but did not keep them dry. Zarek pushed his tiny backpack through the portal, where the other Delvers noted it smelled of saltwater. The chamber they were in seemed to be a standard design for portal areas outside of the Moon Manor’s portal room as it was laid out similar to the ruins in the desert and at Arkoi, but with the complete walls and ceiling. There was a door to the outside and another door to deeper in the building. Zarek chased and caught a fish that got too nosey and took it back through the gate for later eating.
Ricky cast his Tricky Ricky spell, which turned him invisible [and makes him silent as well, providing invisibility to All Sight and Normal Hearing]. Ricky then shadowwalked from one of the diffuse shadows to another safely. He had to drop his Tricky Ricky spell to report this. Once he reported the successful casting, he and Zarek exited the building while the others dropped off things they did not want to get wet. Vorgand picked up a set of control cubes and a power stone from Zarek’s backpack and put them into her pockets, so the group could reopen the gate from the other side, if necessary. The rest of the Delvers then passed through the portal and joined Ricky and Zarek.
Outside of the building, the Delvers could see they were amongst the ruins of an elven settlement at least town sized. There were buildings from one to three stories tall. Some of the buildings were collapsed while others had minor damage, all had plant growth on them. None reached all the way to the surface, which the delvers estimated as 100 feet above them. Jala and Nick swam to the surface, hoping to get an idea of where they were. The surface was all water with the hint of an island off on the western horizon. Based on the position of the sun, Jala estimated they were somewhere east of the Moon Manor ruins, but she had no idea where. [Nick failed a roll on Navigation to work out where they were, but Jala just made hers.] Both swam back down to rejoin the rest of the Delvers on the bottom.
The Delvers decided to next search the portal building. First the searched the portal room itself. The control cabinet was there, but it was open and empty. Zarek located two control cubes in the debris in the corners of the room, but no power stone nor third control cube.
The Delvers investigated the doorway deeper into the building. It opened on a hallway going left and right. There were two doors on the opposite wall, a normal looking door to the left and a stronger looking door on the right. Zarek cast Detect Magic and the one on the right glowed to his eyes. The magic was similar to that seem on airlock-style doors.
The group moved down to the door on the right. It had a panel next to it of a style the adventurers had seen before in elven ruins. Jala pulled out the card key and held it to the panel. The panel emitted a tone and the door in front of them unlocked. On the other side was a 10-foot square room with another door on the far wall. The Delvers enter the chamber and closed the door behind them. This shut off all light and the Delvers were in complete darkness.
Ricky cast his Nightvision spell and Zarek cast his Ultravision spell [ultraviolet sight]. Ricky was able to see again, but not Zarek. Unfortunately, his spell could not be cast on others. The group discussed the need for fire that would burn under water [Greek Fire] to use as light. Vorgand asked Nick if he knew anything about it, but he did not. Vorgand made a mental note to research it when she was back at the academy.
Being the only one who could see, Ricky took the card key from Jala and applied it to the panel next to the door leading deeper into the building. Beyond that door was a room similar to the Room of the Blue Sun under the Moon Manor ruins – a recharging station for the power crystals! Unfortunately, this room was also dark and the machinery where the blue sun should be floating was clearly broken and partially melted. This gave Vorgand an idea. She has one of the charged power crystals and they glow, so she pulled it out of her backpack. Suddenly, Zarek could see everything normally [the power gems emit light in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum]. The other Delvers could see some as the normal light was weak for them. Zarek immediately started rooting around in the blue sun device to see if he could learn anything about it or scavenge any parts for spares if the Moon Manor blue sun generator broke.
While Zarek dug into the broken machine, the other Delvers searched the room. They found several broken or cracked power crystals and three that looked to be intact. Two of those still detected as magical, although they were clearly drained of energy. Vorgand packed away all three for later examination. Ricky noticed the faint outline of a person etched into a wall, a side-effect of an explosion that happened in this room sometime in the past.
Once Zarek was satisfied he’d done as much as he could without the proper tools, the group left this room and checked the non-magical door back in the hallway. This door led to some sort of office. There was a desk and broken bookshelf in the room. When Jala checked to see if the desk drawers were locked, they came apart in her hands. Nothing of value was found in this room.
With the light starting to fade outside, the Delvers returned to the portal room and returned to the Moon Manor. They were all drenched and a bit cold. Jala had a spare set of clothes in her backpack that she changed into. The others wrung out their clothes as best they could. All agreed they needed to return to the surface for dry clothes and a fire. They shut down the portal and started their trek back up.
After a rest in front of a warm fire and back in dry clothes, the Delvers decided they were done exploring for the weekend. As they and the Torchbearers fixed their dinners [including cooking up Zarek’s fish], they discussed what supplies and equipment they should bring back on their next trip. Torsten suggested that if the Delvers bring back additional roofing supplies, the Torchbearers could build a roof for the adjacent tower and use it for storage of winter rations, in case the weather took a bad turn. Also, it would be convenient if they could add another door to the ex-chapel that faced the tower entrance to reduce exposure to the elements and make the food storage more secure. It was also suggested that some additional fencing to secure the goats in the outer courtyard better would also be good. Finally, an official document that listed the Torchbearers as official employees of the Delvers Guild would avoid having anyone accusing them of being squatters [or bandits]. Jala suggested fishing gear for the adjacent pond/lake might also be a good idea.
Torsten, Fish, and Ricky started drawing up plans and making a list of needed supplies (timber, nails, a door with hinges, and some mortar for stonework). Jala took basic measurements of the Torchbearers so she could get them coats back in town. She also asked what games they preferred to play and settled on getting them a set of dominos.
End of Session
[My experiment awarding 1 XP for session notes from the players has been a big success. Details I missed noting down while running have been caught in the player notes and help me do the write up. That said, the XP I’m awarding when the players return to the city seems a bit high. I believe it is because of the “1 XP per session” guideline in the rulebook assumes longer sessions. I may need to modify that somewhat. On top of which, the players want their characters to spontaneously have new skills or spells as soon as they have the XP. This is a legacy from our D&D games where new powers and skills are available as soon as a character levels up. For example, Zarek wants to learn blacksmithing as part of his plan to make metal golems. Learning to blacksmith takes time and practice. I’m requiring he spend a week in-game per point of XP he wants to spend getting the skill. Even that feels shamelessly fast, but it is a good compromise, especially as he had to find a smith to teach him. I’m thinking of doing something similar for spells.]