Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Terrace of the Fallen Horses – First Expedition

Note: This posting is all OOC as the player characters involved have chosen to stay silent as to what they found on this expedition. They don’t want others to benefit from their hard work without being there to partake themselves. As DM, I heartily approve as this provides strong motivation for these players to mount a new expedition soon – after all, the other players might finish what they are doing and decide The Ruins look tempting on the map…

This session happened Friday, April 30, 2010.

Adventuring Group:
Su Bel (human cleric)
Kallas (human ranger)

Tired of working in the iron mines, Su Bel and Khallas decided to go on an expedition to check out The Ruins (as listed on the Table Map). Su Bel knew that treasure was found at Drop-Off Tower and hoped The Ruins might also contain treasure as well. She recruited the ranger, Khallas, to help navigate the way to The Ruins. At first trying to cut across the tall grasslands of the plains, they got lost, ending up on the coast, where they camped. They decided the next day they would follow the coast further before cutting back into the plains.

The next day they headed east, nearly to the Coastal Hills before turning south into the plains. They managed to get within sighting distance of the hilly area they were targeting close to sundown (after getting turned around twice in the very tall grasses). That night a small herd of aurochs and a small herd of wild horses move through the area, causing Khallas to wonder what was causing them to move at night. He finds out shortly – a ghost is moving across the plains, seemingly circling the hills ahead. Su Bel and Khallas decide to stay low in the grass and hide from the ghost (they spent a resolve token to avoid the encounter – quite rightly).

On the third day, they enter (and exit and re-enter after getting lost) the hills. Searching the hills for “ruins” they find an artificial pond next to a hill with two terraces, one built out from the base of the hill and one cut into the side of the hill above the first. The lower terrace had many broken horse statues (life-sized) while the upper terrace had what appeared to be a cave entrance. This confused the adventures a bit, but they decided to investigate further.

Neither being good at climbing (especially in their armor), they circled around the hill until they found an easy way up to the spot above the terraces. They then carefully climbed/slid down to the upper terrace. There they investigated the “cave” entrance, quickly working out that it was artificial and had been open for some time. In fact, the entire terrace was covered in 3-4 inches of dirt and grasses, indicating these were very old.

Inside, they determined that this was once a crypt, but it had been stripped of everything long, long ago. Somewhat disappointed, they made a thorough search of the crypt and the area outside, where Khallas noticed that there were regularly spaced, large divots in the hillside along the back of the terrace. Using his short sword to probe the sod, he discovered that the divots indicated covered crypt entrances!

He and Su Bel then uncovered the first entrance to the left of the open crypt. It took some time and effort to lever the sealing slab off the crypt before they could gain entrance. Looking in while letting the air inside freshen, they saw extensive (and undamaged) artwork painted on the walls. This encouraged them greatly.

Lighting a sunrod, they cautiously entered the crypt. The passage led back into the hill and the murals showed the great works of a king or ruler during his lifetime, including one mural showing his queen sitting in a throne with his shadow behind her. The actual crypt itself contained a large sarcophagus and four armored skeletons as an honor guard. Worried about the skeletons animating, Khallas went to hobble them, which caused them to animate. A short fight later, the skeletons were destroyed with minimal damage to the adventurers.

Investigating the sarcophagus turned out to be another matter. Khallas took some precautions but it was not enough and he and Su Bel were wounded by a double scythe trap. Quickly using up the last of her healing magic, Su Bel had both of them patched up. Inside the sarcophagus they found the remains of a warrior. Time had ruined most of what was inside, except for a sword and a helmet, which were in good condition. Being somewhat tired from the long day, the adventurers decided to camp in the crypt, behind the sarcophagus. They reset the trap to use as a defense in case something showed up during the night.

Leaving the crypt the next morning, they noticed that the mural of the queen was not part of the original decorations. Investigating further, they discovered that the plaster of the mural hid a rubble wall with a chamber beyond it. Hoping for more treasure, they cleared away the mural and knocked down the rubble way, exposing another crypt area, again with skeletal guardians. However these guardians were still in good condition (as was their gear) and attacked with great skill, forcing Khallas and Su Bel into a fighting retreat.

Having retreated out onto the terrace and then down the length of the terrace, Khallas and Su Bel realized two things: only two of the skeletal guardians pursued out of the tomb and those two were about to cut them down. In a desperate bid to put some more distance between themselves and the skeletal guardians, Khallas and Su Bel slid down the hillside to the lower terrace (Khallas in a controlled fashion, Su Bel…not so much). The skeletal guardians did not pursue!

Quickly realizing the skeletal guardians were programmed to stay on the upper terrace, Khallas and Su Bel used all of their magic and arrows from a distance. Two of the guardians were destroyed and a third was heavily damaged before the adventurers ran out of ammunition and magic. Not wanting to camp anywhere near the are (in case the ghost came by or the skeletal guardians decided to come down), the two tired and wounded adventurers headed back to the Keep.

After two days of marching (only taking time to cast some healing magic), the adventurers returned to the Iron Keep at sundown, vowing to keep their experiences secret until they could return to the Ruins with help. They sold the masterwork helmet, but Khallas kept the sword, which turned out to be magical.

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