Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Near TPK, the Temple of Chac, and the Underfortress

This session happened Friday, July 23, 2010, and was the only session I ran this past weekend. This Adventure Log was delayed due to my participation in Zak's SAGE event. There will be a second posting this week. Just as soon as I get around to writing it...

Adventuring Group:
Sal Ty (elf wizard)
Tycho von Helmont (elf alchemist)
Agnes (dwarf rogue)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorceror)
Rhapsody (half-elf rogue)

Note: the list of player characters is in player sitting order, from my left and then clockwise around the table.

With a heavy arcane and rogue mix, the group decided to hire some additional muscle (Gunnar Darkbattler, fighter for hire) and avoid the more melee heavy locations they knew about, settling upon further exploration of "Santa Fe". After two days of walking (camping in Dropoff Tower along the way), the group arrived at "Santa Fe", camping in the basement of the Entry Building. During the evening, the watches witnessed the bats nightly exit from (and the dawn return to) the caves and a griffin flying by on the hunt.

Wishing to avoid the dark creepers, the group entered the caves through the stairs in the Gargoyle Tower. The chambers accessed this way have walls decorated in martial themes, most showing human soldiers carrying spears and bows. Returning to the room they escaped the dark creeper darkness through, they discovered an additional door that was covered by the deeper darkness last time they were here. Agnes verified that the trapped door to this area was still locked and barred. Rather than check any of the doors available to them, the group followed the left branch of the "Y" from the barred doors. This led through an old guard post to a small, empty armory.

In the small armory, Agnes and Rhapsody located a secret door and opened it (after verifying it was not trapped). Beyond was a dusty corridor that went a ways and turned left. At the corner was a small shrine containing a statue of what appeared to be a male deity. With the group scattered down the corridor, Rhapsody investigated the statue, accidentally triggering a cone of cold trap that reached all the way down the hallway and into the small armory. Gunnar was killed outright, Thorngrim and Sal were both wounded to unconsciousness, and Tycho and Agnes were wounded nearly as bad. Rhapsody herself escaped without a scratch. After stabilizing Thorngrim and Sal and bringing them back to consciousness, the heavily wounded group retreated to the Entry Building to camp and recover. Gunnar's body was wrapped in a blanket and placed in the bag of holding for proper burial later.

While the group was not enthused about continuing explorations past the trapped statue, Rhapsody was certain that it was safe to do so as long as no one stepped within a close proximity to the statue. To prove it, she went first past the statue the next morning, safely. [Actually, the other characters insisted she "prove it" before they were willing to follow.]

The other end of the secret passage opened into a room containing a deep reservoir of water, across which was an altar and some braziers. None of the group liked the look of the water, despite it being still and deep, or perhaps because of that. Sal used levitate to move across the water without touching it to investigate the altar closer. It was clearly dedicated to a water deity, but Sal was not certain which one. The braziers were enchanted to light when flame was touched to their interior. The group was interested in taking the braziers, but their size (over six feet across) precluded this.

Deciding to leave the room, the group exited through a small antechamber and into a larger room containing another reservoir, connected to the first via a tunnel in the wall. The walls of this room are covered with scenes of the deity perfoming miracles and works. From this, Sal is able to identify the god as Chac, an ancient deity for water and the rains. Additionally, the scenes on the wall clearly show a different deity than the one in the shrine in the secret passage. The adventurers find this odd.

The adventurers left through a different antechamber and discovered a fortified wall bisecting a large cavern. Looking around they find that this is a fortified position designed to keep things out from deeper caverns. Worse, while the gates had obviously been broken through some time in the past, more recently there had been some traffic, rag-footed traffic, and a good deal of it.
Not wanting to push any deeper (or possibly run into more dark creepers), the group fell back to the Entry Building and camped. [Also, the session was getting near time to quit and the players don't want me rolling on my Super Secret Table of Doom to determine what sort of sorry shape they make it back to town in.]

The next day Sal cast mount several times and the group rode the phantom steeds back to Dropoff Tower (avoiding a bulette along the way). While camping at the Tower, assassin vines moved past and the group attacked them with ranged weapons, refusing to let them continue running wild in the forest. [This was also the only combat the players were in the entire session and they weren't about to let it go by.]

The next day Sal cast mount multiple times again and the group rode all the way back to the Iron Keep by nightfall. The adventurers turned over the body of Gunnar to the keep authorities for proper burial and returned to Spider's Bar.

[I assigned some XP at the end of the session as an adventure bonus as the PCs had found a significant location - and to encourage further exploration.]

Monday, July 26, 2010

Adventure Log Delayed

The adventure log for last week's game will be delayed so I can wrap up my SAGE Request, due today.

Keep watching this space for updates.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Iron Keep - Revised

As my Southern Reaches campaign has progressed, I’ve been fleshing out bits and pieces of the Iron Keep. I’ve also done some revision of previously established fact, now that I’ve had time to think about things (and read on other people’s blogs for more inspiration and insight).

The first (and, at this point, only) revision has been changing the Iron Duke to the Iron Baron. My point of reference for the Iron Keep has been Iron Town in Princess Mononoke. I originally made the leader of the town the PCs are based in a duke based on a different campaign (that I can’t locate right now or I’d give a link), thinking that it seemed reasonable. I gave the leader of the venture the title “the Iron Duke” once I tied the base town to iron mining in the nearby hills. Easy, simple, done.

The issue I’ve had with it since then is that the whole venture is relatively small, much too small for a duke to be personally overseeing. I would expect a duke to have more land back across the sea if nothing else, which would require him to travel back and forth or lose territory “back home”. This would, realistically, lead to the duke staying home and appointing an overseer to look after the iron mines, which is not where I wanted to go, mostly because that would lead to drama (read: adventure) in town and there is supposed to be no adventure in town, a basic premise of West Marches-style campaigns.

Reading about another West Marches campaign (the Northern Marches campaign over on the Ode to Black Dougal website), I saw he had made the leader of the base town a baron and was inspired. A baron felt like a better fit for the Iron Keep as I envisioned it. I could see the Iron Hills as a barony that was developing, rather than a duchy, which has always implied vastly more land and resources to my mind. Plus, I find it more believable that a baron would be willing to risk his own life setting up a new venture on an unknown or re-discovered continent to mine iron. Dukes would have too much to lose to do such a thing.

Therefore, the top authority in the area is now the Iron Baron, not the Iron Duke. Eventually, I may even name him.

When Mog the Doomed died and the players wanted to get a raise dead cast upon him, I had to give some thought as to whether or not there was a cleric of high enough level available to cast the spell. It seems reasonable that the baron would want access to raise dead and arrange for a cleric of high enough level to be present. Now said cleric would either have to be very personally loyal to the baron to hang out in a wilderness “just in case” or see an opportunity for himself as well. Additionally, I suspect the baron would like some actual reassurance that the cleric can cast raise dead successfully, rather than wait until it was necessary for the spell to be cast upon the baron. Now the baron won’t pay to raise mine workers (they might start thinking they are valuable or something and demand pay raises), but he will let adventurers pay to have themselves raised. This puts some coin (that isn’t the baron’s) in the church coffers, confirms that the cleric can cast raise dead, and keeps some individuals who are willing to kill monsters for free active and in the area. Wins all around for the baron.

I’m allowing the PCs to purchase low-level magic items in town – nothing greater than a +1 weapon, +1 armor, potions, wands, or minor wondrous magic items (and those still need my approval). As the PCs were in the Iron Keep as mine workers, I find it reasonable that others able to create the above items would be there as well. Additionally, the baron would be interested in having his personal guards and higher-ups in the guard equipped with some magical gear, so there should be a few sources in town. Also, I suck when it comes to putting magic items in the treasure mix (especially at low levels), so this lets me off the hook for a bit.

I’ve also had the Woodcutter’s Camp become regularly occupied. Originally this was done to cut new shoring timbers for the mines, but I’m now using this to expand the number of exports the baron has under his control. This will also create conditions where bandits start becoming a realistic possibility. As long as people think death waits outside the walls, no one wants to stay out there. Once it is proven that it is possible to establish safe locations that last, some people will start thinking about how nice it would be to not live in the baron’s company town. I think this path will also lead towards smugglers and “secret” villages, but I need to work on that some more. The PCs may also need to locate the potential mines I’ve placed on the map that are sources for materials more valuable than iron. [Remember: “foreshadowing” – Your clue to quality literature.]

Monday, July 19, 2010

Entering Eastern Edgewood

This session happened Friday, July 16, 2010, and was the only session I ran this past weekend.

No new players (see my posting on the 14th) and only five players at the table. This is one of the reasons I'm delaying adding more players. If it is like this regularly, I can add a few more players, especially if they will be infrequent. If this is just the lull before the storm…that's another matter.

Adventuring Group:
Mog the Doomed (half-orc barbarian)
Tycho von Helmont (elf alchemist)
Agnes (dwarf rogue)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorceror)
Rhapsody (half-elf rogue)

Note: the list of players is sitting order, from my left around the table. Just clarifying that as I never stated it earlier.

After some discussion that never quite formed up into an actual decision or plan, the group marched out of the Iron Keep to Dropoff Tower. They arrived after a day of walking Gravemarker Road, finding the tower still secure and intact. After camping for the night, the group decided to explore east, trying to track down the Tower of Raan. All they knew about the Tower of Raan was that the adventurers of forty years ago never found it, but verified that Dropoff Tower was NOT it.

The group explored east until they reached the river on their map. The river was too deep for them to cross, so they explored upstream, looking for a fordable point. They eventually found a ford and camped there for the night. During the evening, an owlbear moved across the ford to investigate the smells and the campfire. Mog attempted to intimidate the owlbear, which made it pause long enough for the adventurers to ready themselves (and Mog to drink a potion of enlarge). The owlbear then decided that Mog was challenging it for territory and charged. In the amazingly brief combat, Mog nearly cut the owlbear in half, twice, and killed the beast with some assistance from Agnes. The owlbear never landed a paw. [Note to self: owlbears look cool, but really suck otherwise. Get them off the encounter table soonest.]

The next day, the group pressed into Eastern Edgewood. During their exploration, Thorngrim was ambushed by an assassin vine and nearly killed before anyone else was aware there was a problem. If Rhapsody had not been particularly observant, Thorngrim would have disappeared without a trace. Once again, an enlarged Mog saved the day (and Thorngrim) by killing the assassin vine. Tycho revived Thorngrim by applying several healing distillations, nearly using up Tycho’s entire supply for the day. As a result, when the group found first a nest of giant stag beetles and then a den of owlbears, they avoided the monsters.

After getting lost for a bit and then circling back towards the river, the group found a circular set of hills with some ruins in the center of the ring. Night was falling, so the group camped for the night – outside the ring of hills and adjacent to the river just to be safe. During the night, a group of six small humanoids with longspears attacked the group. The adventurers resisted and killed the attackers. Tycho quickly identified the creatures as vegepygmies. No more attacked during the night and so the adventurers gave them little thought afterwards.

The following morning the adventurers returned to the ruins. The ruins appear to be the base of an immense tower. Rhapsody located a route into the enormous pile of rubble and the group entered a rough tunnel heading down. Agnes and Rhapsody located traps of increasing difficulty, bypassing two but triggering the third, a chamber of blades scything back and forth, catching all but Thorngrim. The group retreated out of the trap with Agnes, who had the furthest to retreat, being the worst damaged. The group used what healing magic they had while the waiting for the trap to wind down.

Once it did, the group pushed on, finding some finished hallways, possibly part of the original construction. After a small bit of exploring, the group came upon a door made of adamantine and locked with an intricate lock. Agnes, Rhapsody, and Tycho spent an hour puzzling out the inner workings of the lock, drawing suspected schematics of the lock on the adjacent wall in chalk as they probed it. Just as Mog was getting REALLY bored, they successfully unlocked the lock and opened the door. Beyond was a five-foot wide, short hallway and then stairs leading up.

Recognizing a veritable fortune in the adamantine door, the adventurers quickly set about removing it from its hinges and then packed it out of the ruins, not caring where the stairs led or why such a strong lock was on a nearly unbreakable door. They made it back to Dropoff Tower [after spending a resolve token to avoid a chimera that flew by] and camped for the night. The next day they followed Gravemarker Road through the forest and back to Iron Keep.

After finding a buyer able to take the door off their hands, the group realized 50,000 gp for the door. When they immediately asked the buyer if any of the adamantine would be available for making weapons, they got an equally immediate, “no”. Ah, well. At least Mog was able to pay off his debts and get some restorations, right?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Group Size = 10!

This post will cover a few things, including group size and how it got there.

When I ran Southern Reaches last Friday, I had seven people at the table, which is a large group, but not the largest I’ve been in or run (something I think I’ve talked on before, so I won’t repeat myself here). What I realized two days later at my wife’s birthday party was that there were three other players, founding players in the group, who were not there, meaning I had a ten-player group! I had been thinking of it in terms of who was going to make the game and who wasn’t, not how many players I was dealing with in total.

Now I have to start giving more thought to group maximum size, not just “will I have enough players to run” – an embarrassment of riches as it were. For the moment, I will be putting new player requests onto a Stand-by list. One of my players is moving to Austin (which is a three hour drive) and I don’t think he’ll make every other week, let alone every week, but I could be wrong. Also, once the summer is over, at least two of my players are teachers and may not be regularly available, so I may have some flex in the player roster then.

West Marches-style games seem to work well for this size group. In fact, the original game (whose concept I’m borrowing) ran with even more players running in different groups whenever THE PLAYERS could coordinate a game. I’m no longer in college, so I don’t think I’ll ever reach the point where I can be quite THAT flexible in the scheduling. As a result, I think ten is the maximum number of active players I can handle.

Plus, table space is becoming an issue.

We have a large living room, large enough to place two dinning tables side-by-side, which easily accommodates six players, the DM, books, laptops, the map, and plenty of room for dice rolling. We changed the configuration to a “T” to accommodate seven players. I have no idea how we will get eight to ten players seated. [Actually, I do – I just thought of a way involving a third, folding table from the garage. I think the room is large enough to fit everything. Maybe.] So this is a practical limit to the number of players I can include while maintaining a “whoever shows up, plays” attitude.

Now let’s talk a little bit about how I got to ten players. [My apologies for the history lesson, but we do get to cognizant material at the end.]

I started out running a monthly game using the Hero System, a system I first learned in college and had played exclusively since then. [When I say “started out” I mean “in the early ‘90s, a couple years after I got out of college”.] Then AEG released “The World’s Largest Dungeon”, which looked mighty cool (it isn’t, by the way). I was also participating in the RPGA, first to get some playing time in, then to write modules (running under the theory that I could do better). [I did get three released for the Bandit Kingdoms before the RPGA switched to 4E and Forgotten Realms and I lost interest. I’m not a fan of the Forgotten Realms.] I chatted with some friends about the WLD and said I was interested in running it, but the cost was off-putting. They offered to chip in $10 buck each if I ran, so I did. You can’t get deeper buy-in than the players actually buying in. So I set up a second monthly game day and ran WLD for two years until the PCs found the way out. [That, by the way, is a whole other story.] By the end of that, I had a core group and Paizo was releasing the early drafts of the Pathfinder RPG, so I put together a new campaign and we’re playing that.

Then I read about the West Reaches campaign over on ars ludi and thought, “This sounds awesome.” I was trying to put together a 4E game (very easy to run for the DM) and failing due to a lack of players. I like 4E for the game it is, but when I want to play D&D, right now I’m playing Pathfinder. So I changed the weekly 4E game to Pathfinder, drew up my initial Table Map and asked the players in my monthly groups who would be interested in playing. I immediately had five players and quickly brought in a sixth, which is where I stayed for a couple of months.

Still wanting to get some time in as a player, I joined the group starting up D&D Encounters at my FLGS (Fat Ogre Games, btw). That group cycled through players a bit and stabilized at seven before we: A) stopped playing D&D Encounters, B) went through part of Keep on the Shadowfell and TPK’d under the waterfalls, and C) switched to a player's house to game at (not mine) in the DM's homebrew campaign. There were some issues (which I’m skipping over) and while chatting with one of the players who was new to the area, she asked if there were any other games looking for players that I knew of. I told her, “as it so happens, yes,” and I described my Southern Reaches game. She and her husband were interested and showed up at the next session and fit in great. At a later session of the ex-4E group, we were discussing schedules and when they’d next be able to show up and one of the other players asked about it and if he could join. I said yes. Then a friend of his who had dropped from the 4E game called and asked if HE could join. I said yes and now had ten players.

Now why is that important? I did not set out to recruit new players when I joined the D&D Encounters game – I was just looking for a game I could play in. Once the player mix stabilized, I started thinking about it, but did not want to give the appearance of cannibalizing another DM’s group – that’s poor form and rude to boot. I was looking for a discrete way to ask some of the players if they were interested in joining my game as well as continuing the Wednesday game, but they beat me to the punch.

To be clear: I believe stealing players from a group is wrong. Sharing players is completely legit.

As it is, I have the majority of that group playing in my Southern Reaches game, the other DM stopped showing in “his” game and the host players decided to put together their own Pathfinder game to replace his. First session is tonight and I still need to build a character. Eek!

UPDATE: The game did not happen last night as the new DM was not ready yet. This was OK with me as I needed to take my wife to physical therapy and would have been mighty late to the game if I'd tried to make it. The first session should happen next Wednesday when the new DM is ready and, coincidentally, my wife will be done with daily sessions of PT.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Building of the Grass Road

This session happened Friday, July 9, 2010, and was the only session I ran this past weekend.

We picked up yet another player this week and had a VERY full table. More on this later in the week.

Adventuring Group:
Su Bel (human cleric)
Agnes (dwarf rogue)
Tycho von Helmont
(elf alchemist)
San Ti (dwarf monk)
Sinn (gnome bard)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorceror)
Rhapsody (half-elf rogue)

After some discussion as to which locale to explore, it was decided that “Santa Fe” would be better than The Ruins, due to the large number of inexperienced or lightly experienced adventurers. [Over half the party was still 1st level.]

The group marched to the Woodcutter’s Camp, then followed the Gravemarker Road to Dropoff Tower, where they camped for the night. Tycho “cooked” some wild boar for dinner. During the night, Su Bel spotted a troop of giant ants enter the area, search about for food, and then leave, heading northwest. As they did not attempt entry to the Tower, she did not wake anyone and let the ants go. She did mention their path to Tycho the next morning and he added it to his notes on the giant ants.

The next day the group followed the Old Road across the Three Peaks hills to the Sea of Grass. Using a plan developed by Thorngrim, the group started clearing the Grass Road, with the plan to extend it from the Old Road all the way to “Santa Fe”. This was long and tedious work and they camped in the Sea of Grass only a third of the way along their proposed path. That night they were attacked by two giant scorpions and Rhapsody was severely poisoned before the scorpions were killed. She was greatly weakened for the duration of the expedition. [Rhapsody lost five points of strength due to the poison, which would have been worse, but Tycho made a Heal check to neutralize the last of the poison. Apparently alchemists ARE good for something besides blowing things up.]

It took two more days to push the Grass Road to the edge of the Pueblo Hills [the party got lost part way] and another day to mark the trail to “Santa Fe” itself. After climbing the cliff to enter the outer ruins, the group followed a set of stairs down and back, into the heart of the cliff. At the bat cavern, they found the building Su Bel had burned down on the previous expedition and poked through the now-cool ashes, finding little. The group started a more thorough search of the cavern, systematically working they way through the buildings. A third of the way through, they found two things of significance: a hidden floor niche two feet deep and full of coins and an ornate door on the cavern wall, clearly an entrance to another area.

Just as Agnes opened the ornate (and trapped) door (after noisily investigating with hammers and pitons to anchor rope so Agnes would not fall into the pit trap in front of it), the group’s sentries spotted two groups of dark creepers, each group led by a dark stalker, moving to attack. Ready for a relatively easy fight based on previous experience, the group was taken aback when the dark stalkers dropped an immense (60-foot radius) deeper darkness, leaving them all blind as the dark creepers moved in for the…wiffle?

Even with an overwhelming superior position, the dark creepers found it difficult to wound the adventurers. [My dice ran cold for most of the fight.] Agnes pushed through the darkness past the ornate door until she could see again and called the party to her. The group retreated in her direction (wishing she had mentioned the stairs at the edge of the deeper darkness). San Ti closed and held the door while Tycho used two potions of true strike to hammer in spikes, sealing the door between the adventurers and the dark creepers.

Taking stock of their situation, the adventurers found themselves in an area with walls decorated in murals showing warriors marching to battle. At the top of the stairs Agnes had found (but not warned people about), was a door that lead to the stage of a large auditorium. From the stage the group could see an exit passage with stairs leading up. Taking those stairs brought the party up into the building the gargoyle had been using as a lair on the surface!

Exhausted, the adventurers camped in the basement of the entry building to the ruins. [It has a door that can be barred.] That night the sentries noticed a griffin flying by and a bulette investigating the canyon floor. They wisely decided to remain silent and avoid the attentions of the monsters. The next morning the adventurers started the two day journey back to the Iron Keep, arriving tired but much enriched by their expedition.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Missed Posting

On Tuesday my wife was in a car accident. She's OK and the car is (mostly) drivable, but dealing with the situation consumed all of my free time and distracted me from all my writing.

So, as a result, I missed making a second posting for the week.

We've got everything straightened out with the insurance companies and my wife is getting therapy for her torn muscles, so I should be catching with my writing.

Anyways, new adventure log on Monday.


Monday, July 5, 2010

On the Road to Santa Fe

This session happened Friday, July 2, 2010, and was the only session I ran this past weekend.

Picked up another player this week, but most of the group was not able to attend due to the July 4th holiday and at least one weather related issue (the Houston area had several thunderstorms roll through and all day rain as Hurricane Alex grazed us).

Adventuring Group:
Su Bel (human cleric)
Mog the Doomed (half-orc barbarian)
Sal Ty (elf wizard)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorcerer)

Getting off to a good start, the group of adventurers followed the newly cleared Gravemarker Road to Dropoff Tower, using prestidigitation to perform minor maintenance along the way. Thorngrim was slightly put off by the three cairns that are the major milestones on the Road, but the trail was good. Arriving at the end of a day's travel, they found a large group of giant ants checking out the area. They decided to kill the giant ants as a form of pest control for the Tower. The giant ants had other thoughts.

Sal cast enlarge on Mog, who then rushed the giant ants. The giant ants then swarmed Mog, almost completely surrounding him, with most scoring bites on Mog's tough flesh. Su Bel moved to support Mog while Sal summoned a fiendish wolf and Thorngrim cast magic missile. It was to no avail and Mog fell under the continuous attacks of the giant ant swarm. While the adventurers were able kill most of the giant ants in retribution, two got away with hunks of half-orc flesh to feed the nest.

The adventurers quickly holed up behind the stout and secure doors of Dropoff Tower and took stock of their situation. Pooling their monies (and taking account of Mog's possessions), they determined they had the funds to raise Mog if they sold off Mog's potion horde and used what coins he had on him (Mog had started stashing gold aside for this eventuality).

Sal cast mount four times to speed up their trip and the group returned to Iron Keep by Noon the following day. After selling Mog's potion horde and pooling monies, they were able to have Mog raised at the Temple of Abadar, the God of Merchants. Mog now owes Sal and Su Bel significant coin plus needs to scrape together money to pay for two lesser restorations to remove the two negative levels he now labors under. More adventuring was clearly called for.

On the third day, riding Sal's mounts again, the group rode the length of the Gravemarker Road and then pushed down the length of the Old Road, arriving on the edge of Three Peaks Hills and the plains, the cliff-side ruins now most of a day marching across the sea of grass. They made camp for the night, but had to quickly move camp during the night when a bulette started nosing around.

The next morning they confidently marched out into the sea of grass, expecting to make camp at the cliff-side ruins near sundown. When sundown actually came, they were still in the deep grasses, having got majorly lost during the day. There was nothing to do but camp and make for the ruins in the morning. The night passed uneventfully, and the next day they took their time making for the hills, checking their bearings often. [They took 20 on their navigation checks, burning up lots of time to guarantee their arrival.] They camped at the edge of the "pueblo hills" for the night, glad to be out of the sea of grass. They had to avoid a dire lion on the hunt and some cheetahs that had wandered nearby during the night. The next morning they started traveling slowly through the hills, avoiding getting lost again at the expense of time. At sundown they finally spotted the cliff-side ruins and camped at the foot of the ruins.

The next morning they climbed up to the ruins via Sal's levitation spell. Sal and Thorngrim had never been to the ruins and Su Bel's and Mog's memories were a bit fuzzy after the passage of time. After reorienting themselves, they directed the group into one of the ruined buildings and down a set of stone stairs in the back.

Underground they found a very wide but moderately low cavern with a small village of mud-brick buildings, plus an enormous bat colony living on the roof. Every exposed surface was covered in guano. The group starts exploring a bit and determines that most of these building are residential in nature. While exploring the interior of one of the buildings, the group was attacked by six small humanoids almost completely covered in rags, only their hands and nose exposed. The adventurers killed or drove off their mysterious attackers, but in the process Su Bel set one of the buildings on fire. After quickly checking the bodies for treasure (and finding some) they fought the fire enough to keep it from spreading throughout the cavern. Shortly thereafter the group left, driven away by the smoke and panicking bats, camping in the hills for the night.

The next morning (after avoiding another bulette), the group headed back across the sea of grass and following the Old Road through Three Peaks Hills, arriving at Dropoff Tower at sunset. They had to race a shambling mound to safely make the Tower, but once inside they were safe. The next day they rode back to the Iron Keep and split their loot. It was decided to let Mog keep his share so he could start saving up for the restorations. Having the primary melee combatant combat worthy was judged to be in the group's best interest.