Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 15

[The Revengers return to the barrows to find Dr. West and end up burying the hatchet with the Norse Whisperers.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Quillian – male human Theurgist (3rd level Mage)
Godric – male Dwarven Craft-Catechist (1st level Craftpriest))
Boris the Fighter – male human Hero (4th level Fighter)
Daphne – female human Blade-Singer (3rd level Bladedancer)
Adam – male human Arcanist (1st level Mage) [see also the comments at the bottom]
Jaxby – male Elven Warrior-Seer (2nd level Spellsword)

Recovering from Injury
None

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called ‘Len
Colemore – professional porter
Thesa and Hyrion – female human and male elf bodyguards
The Norse Whisperers – Rival Adventuring Party with a Norse theme


Yggsday, June 1st, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
[Scrolling back time slightly.]
At the end of the day, after returning from the Barrowmaze and selling off the loot, Boris and Godric made donations at the Shrine of St. Ygg and received a casting of Cure Light Wounds on each of them.  Additionally, Quillian made the arrangements for Chick-Magnet to receive a proper burial in the town graveyard and commissioned a small headstone.

Sunday, June 2nd, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
With no sign of Dr. West [teleported elsewhere in the Barrowmaze last session], the Revengers gathered up their hirelings to head south back into the Barrowmoor.  The Norse Whisperers arrived just as they were leaving, asking if the Revengers still wanted their protection during the trip.  Boris shrugged and agreed to the same traveling arrangement as before, the Norse Whisperers would provide “protection” while the Revengers followed their guide to the field of barrows.

Along the way, the adventurers noticed an army of seven giant frogs [yes, that is the correct group name for frogs], each about one foot long and brightly colored.  This identified the frogs as highly poisonous and the adventurers decided to avoid them entirely.

Arriving at the field of barrows a bit before Noon, the two adventuring groups split up and started investigating the barrows.  The Revengers went into to Barrow 16 and used the stairs there to go down deeper to the Barrowmaze itself.  They were searching for clues as to where Dr. West was teleported, but at the diagonal hall they ran into two wights feeding on the corpses there.  Daphne tried to turn the wights, but they were not impressed and advanced on the adventurers.  The Revengers fled up to the surface immediately, not ready to unexpectedly take on wights.

Back on the surface, while they caught their breath, they discussed their options.  They decided that, while they had the means to defeat one wight, two wights was too dangerous right now and hoped Dr. West found another way out of the dungeon.  Instead, they went over to Barrow 25 to investigate it.  Entering the barrow, they found it, like most of the others, previously looted.  They searched the four chambers of this barrow, noting that the locked bronze doors had been bypassed by attacking the stone walls they were mounted in, rather than picking the locks.

The Revengers next went over to Barrow 33.  It too had been opened and looted, but the plant growth around the sealing stone suggested the looting happened a year or more ago.  They found the single-chamber crypt had been looted, with the mummified corpse just dumped on the floor next to the sarcophagus.  Offended by this lack of decorum, Adam and Godric lifted the mummy [after Boris verified it was inanimate] and put it back into the sarcophagus.  Underneath the mummy they found a gold ring, which promptly went into the loot sack.  Sometimes virtue is rewarded.

Finished with that barrow, The Revengers went over to Barrow 34 and found it still sealed!  They took an early rest and then Boris spent 20 minutes with the sledgehammer breaking open the sealing stone.  The exposed stairs deposited the adventurers in a rectangular room with two stepped passages leading down to stone doors, a broken and cracked statue of Impurax [which Quillian easily identified], and a tapestry visible down at the end of a short side passage.  The tapestry drew all of their attention, memories of ghouls hiding behind tapestries haunting them.  Boris threw a torch at the tapestry [which caught on fire and started to smolder] to verify nothing was hiding behind it.  Satisfied it was safe, he was then forced to pull down the rotted tapestry and stamp it out before the room filled up with choking smoke.

Satisfied that no ghouls would attack them from that tapestry, the Revengers turned and descended down the passage on the right.  The stone door opened inward and released ankle-deep water when Boris opened it.  On shelves, the room held the personal papers of those interred in this crypt.  There was also another stone door in the far corner.  Quillian organized the packing of the scrolls and tomes into various backpacks.  Tired, the group returned to the first chamber to rest.

After their rest, the group went back down the right-hand passage and opened the far door.  This exposed a diagonal passage that ended at yet another door.  Boris went up and knocked on the door before opening it [I’m not certain why].  Behind this door was another crypt and three ghasts [now ready, thanks to the knocking], which attacked immediately.  Daphne called upon the power of Ianna and was able to turn the ghasts, who fled to a far corner of the crypt to cower from Daphne.  Boris grimly went over and hacked the cowering creatures to bits.

That task dealt with, the group investigated the crypt and discovered the dead bodies of two of the Norse Whisperers, Rollo and Ivar!  Confused at how the bodies arrived, the group carefully searched everywhere and found a concealed crawlspace to the surface in one of the burial alcoves.  The revengers relieved Ivar of his spellbook and Rollo of his magical [+1] leather armor before wrapping up the corpses for travel.  Adam took the time to behead the ghast corpses and packed them in a sack.  The adventurers then hauled the bodies to the entry chamber and set them down there before turning to the other descending passage from this room.

Once again Boris pushed opened the door and found another partially submerged crypt.  Many bodies, still wrapped in bandages, floated in the murky, ankle-deep water.  There were stairs leading up to an elevated platform holding two black stone statues of helmed, male warriors and a white marble sarcophagus.  The adventurers were immediately suspicious of the statues.

Boris, Godric, and Daphne moved forward to investigate the white marble sarcophagus.  Daphne stopped at the bottom of the steps up to the platform.  Godric stopped at the top of the stairs.  Boris, always with an eye towards the two black stone statues, approached the sarcophagus – and THAT’S when three of the mummies floating in the water animated and something inside the sarcophagus started pushing aside the lid!

The adventurers ran.

Even so, Boris was hit twice by the mummies on his way out and affected by mummy rot.  He pulled the door closed behind him as he fled the room.  The rest of the group picked up the dead Norse Whisperers and all fled the barrow [just in case the mummies opened the door from the inside].  The Revengers made their way across the field to the meeting point and found the rest of the Norse Whisperers already there.

The Revengers turned over the bodies of Rollo and Ivar and the ghast heads to the Norse Whisperers, explaining where they found the bodies [but leaving out that the spellbook and magic armor were now packed away in the loot bag].  The Norse Whisperers thanked the Revengers for retrieving the bodies and killing the things that had killed their friends.  Then both groups headed back to Helix.  Along the way, the Norse Whisperers talked about the funeral games they would hold in Rollo and Ivar’s honor.

Once back in Helix, the Revengers sold off their loot [minus the +1 leather armor and the spellbook] and the Amulet of Animate Dead taken a couple days earlier from the Set worshippers.  This realized a great deal of cash [and XP].

Daphne went over to the blacksmith and asked if he could inscribe the image of Ianna on the magic leather armor she now had without damaging the magic.  Karg stated he could, but it would take a week to do.  Daphne accepted that and paid half down for the work.  [Karg actually subcontracted the work to a leatherworker he knows in Ironguard Motte.]

Daphne and Adam decided to pool resources and make the funeral games for Rollo and Ivar a week long party and spend a combined 8000 gp over the next week to make this happen.  [They are spending gold to no advantage in order to bank it as XP for their next character, per the ACKS rules.  The players know death can happen at any time and don’t want to restart at 1st level when it does.]

Quillian set aside six grants of 300 gp each for any local projects that catch his fancy.  [This pushes the edge of the rules for banking XP, but we’ll see how it goes.]

Moonday, June 3rd, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Boris, Jaxby, and Quillian traveled to Ironguard Motte for personal business: Boris to get the Mummy Rot removed [requires Remove Curse be cast and no one in Helix can cast it] and Jaxby to get new spells [as he made third level and can cast 2nd-level spells].  Quillian went to finally trade away that library of Impurax tomes and scrolls for something he can use.  He was able to make deals with the discrete bookshop there to swap the Impurax documents for books and scrolls able to function as an Arcane Library [able to research up to 2nd-level spells].  It will take a month for all the books to arrive, but Quillian has a solid contract for them and is confident.

End of Session


[A Note about the character named “Adam”: one of the players’ name is also Adam.  Adam does not also play Adam, Tony does.  It will never stop being amusing when I, as the DM, call on Adam, looking at Tony, and Adam also looks up.  The rest of the table also approves of this and is amused, particularly Adam’s brother.  They are amused enough that they insisted I explain this on the blog. 😁 ]

[Quillian’s player announced that he’ll be out of town for the next several months due to a change in job while he gets trained for his new duties.  On one hand, it is great news that he has a permanent job again instead of temp gigs, but on the other hand we’ll miss having him at the table while he’s gone for training and hope he gets assigned here once his training is done.]



The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK

The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers
Session 13
Session 14

Session 16


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 14

[Quillian joins The Revengers and honors Chick-Magnet.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Godric – male Dwarven Craft-Catechist (1st level Craftpriest))
Dr. Venom West – male human Robber (3rd level Thief) [this is a correction from last week where I erroneously listed him as a Footpad]
Boris the Fighter – male human Hero (4th level Fighter)
Jaxby – male Elven Warrior-Seer (2nd level Spellsword)
Quillian – male human Theurgist (3rd level Mage)

Recovering from Injury
[Daphne’s player was out of town again]

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called ‘Len
Colemore – professional porter
Unred and Volrun – male paid laborers
Holmurn and Balunna – male and female hired guards
Disdun – male human guide
Thesa and Hyrion – female human and male elf bodyguards


Freysday, May 31st, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Having returned with a good deal of coinage [the recovered valuables of The Motley Crew], The Revengers spent a day shopping for supplies [food, torches, and Comfrey, lots of Comfrey] and stashing some of their coinage in chests stored in the back room at Turgen’s Trade Goods.

Quillian, just ending his required weeks of bedrest, tracked down Boris and thanked him for putting an end to Chick-Magnet’s abominable undead life.  Quillian asked to travel with Boris’ new group so he can secure Chick-Magnet’s corpse for proper burial and to continue the exploration of the Barrowmaze.  Boris, seeing the advantage of having a Theurgist in the group [and quietly side-stepping any charges of looting the bodies of fallen heroes] agreed.

Quillian went to the Mercenary Guild and hired two laborers [Unred and Volrun], two guards to protect the laborers [Holmurn and Balunna], and an extra guide [Disdun] specifically for this group of hirelings.  Quillian then asked Osen the Guildmaster to broker the hiring of a henchman for Quillian.  They discussed qualities that Quillian was looking for and Osen agreed to have some candidates by next Magusday (June 5th).  Quillian then went over to Turgen’s Trade Goods and bought a sheet of leather to wrap up Chick-Magnet’s corpse in and a litter to transport it on.

Jaxby, uncomfortable with the turnover in adventurers, went to the Mercenary Guild and hired two bodyguards.  Osen assigned him Thesa and Hyrion, both armed with longsword and shields and leather armor.  Jaxby wanted people with chainmail, but Osen pointed out that people owning chainmail are usually wealthy enough to not need the work.  Jaxby accepted that and Thesa and Hyrion into his employ.  Osen had also posted new rates for Torchbearers – 6 sp per day.

Yggsday, June 1st, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The adventurers and their ten hirelings met up early in the morning at the Mercenary Guild building.  Just before they left, the Norse Whisperers jogged up and, despite the large number of hirelings, asked if The Revengers needed someone to “watch out for them on the way to the barrows.”  Quillian raised an eyebrow at this, but Boris quickly agreed to the same deal as before: the Norse Whisperers would “guard” the group while they traveled to and from the barrows while the Revengers followed their guide.  Boris later explained the situation and history to Quillian, who also rolled his eyes but understood the value of buying some goodwill.

On the way south, the group spotted 5 ghouls moving to intercept them.  They attempted to evade the ghouls entirely but failed.  The adventurers eventually lost the ghouls in the moors [the ghouls rolled a 2 on their pursuit roll], but at the cost of nearly an hour of time.  They arrived at the field of barrows a little after Noon.

Ragnar, leader of the Norse Whisperers, talked with Boris about which areas the groups were planning to explore.  Boris pointed out Barrow 24 and said The Revengers were going to start there and continue on the northern side.  Ragnar pointed at Barrow 17 and said the Norse Whisperers were going to look there, but then work their way south.  Both agreed to meet here at the edge of the field at 4:00 PM to head back together.

The groups walked over to Barrow 12, where they parted ways – the Revengers going around it on the north side, the Norse Whisperers the south side.  The Revengers walked past Barrow 16, seeking to secure Chick-Magnet’s corpse first and then finish exploring Barrow 24.

At Barrow 24, the adventurers [and their associated hirelings] walked down the stairs, into the barrow.  They found the ghoul corpses exactly where they left them.  Quillian and his hirelings secured Chick-Magnet’s corpse by wrapping it up in the sheet of leather and putting it on the litter for transport.  Quillian send the laborers, their guards, and Disdun back to the surface to wait.  Their orders were to head back to Helix if the adventurers did not return to the surface by 4:00 PM.

The adventurers [and Jaxby’s bodyguards] went through the door in the near left corner of the entry room.  There was a short corridor leading to a 30x40 room with an altar between two black stone statues.  On the altar were as skull and a simple wooden cup.  After Dr. West checked for traps all around the room, Quillian picked up the cup, which animated the two statues.  The adventurers did not hesitate – they ran.  Everyone who could ran full tilt to escape the room – except Boris, who staged a fighting retreat, and Quillian, who was just too slow.

The Barrow Guardians both attacked Quillian while Boris observed from halfway across the room.  One statue missed, but the other hit…for minimal damage.  These statues were slow and nowhere near as terrifying as the ones they had heard about.  With their courage returning, the adventurers formed a fighting line at the entrance to the room and fought the statues.  The fight lasted six minutes, but the Revengers eventually won.  Godric was seriously hurt during the fight, so afterwards the group rested and applied some healing herbs to Godric.  [This involved a couple failed Healing checks until they just applied the Comfrey.]

The cup turned out to be enchanted, able to provide ale, mead, a healing salve, or a random potion once per day.  The skull was just a skull.  After some discussion, the group decided to keep the cup and not sell it back in Helix.  Quillian was given custody of the cup.

Once their rest was over, the group exited the barrow and backtracked to Barrow 16.  While making this transit, Boris heard the distinctive sound of a sledgehammer being used on a sealing stone – the Norse Whisperers were breaking into a previously unexplored barrow!

Barrow 16 contained a low dais and surrounded by five alcoves.  Each alcove contained the obviously vandalized remains of an armored skeleton.  The back wall of one of the alcoves was broken down, exposing a stairwell down into the Barrowmaze itself.  Feeling brave, the Revengers descended the stairs.

In the Barrowmaze itself, they found a passageway.  To the right was an ajar doorway, to the left a side passage and a closed doorway along a passageway.  Boris pulled close the doorway on the right, ignoring the dead body he glimpsed on the other side [Hello, Jersen!].  The group cautiously went left, ignoring the side passage and the closed door.  Shortly past that door, the passage ended in a T-intersection.  They went left again, which led to a wide hallway at a diagonal away and to the left.  Down that hallway they could see two small groups fighting – one side in chainmail and employing zombies, the other in robes and employing skeletons!

Boris hid his glowing sword and the adventurers watched the fight.  Godric identified the ones wearing chainmail as followers of Orcus and strongly suspected the black robed combatants were necromancers in the service of Set.  The necromancers slowly gained an edge over the followers of Orcus.  When the total number of combatants was down to eight, the adventurers decided to attack.  The combatants were completely focused on each other and totally surprised when arrows flew out of the dark, killing the lead necromancer.  This was followed by a turning from Godric, which sent two zombies and one skeleton fleeing.  Boris drew his axe and charged into the remaining combatants, cleaving his way through them all in one round [Fighters get one cleave attack for each level and Boris is now 4th level and his targets…weren’t].

After checking the bodies and destroying all of the unholy symbols found [but keeping a magical amulet that casts Animate Dead once per day], the adventurers continued along.  The diagonal corridor ended in a chamber with a charnel pit in the center.  Jaxby noticed a secret door at the back of the chamber and the adventurers went through it.  The small room beyond contained four giant carnivorous flies that somehow found their way into this room.  The fight was short, with Boris killing most of the flies.  Jaxby noticed another secret door in this room [because who can hide things from elves?], which the adventurers went through.

This secret door opened up on a long gallery lined with hundreds of burial alcoves.  Tired, the group rested, except for Dr. West, whose endurance knew no bounds [Endurance proficiency allowed him to continue on without needing a rest].  Dr. West started searching the gallery for traps, finding a pit trap the hard way.  [The player wasn’t certain about his dice, so he asked me to roll for him.  I rolled a 1.]  As he had been holding a torch, the other adventurers saw him fall into the pit trap, but never heard him hit bottom.  His torchlight also disappeared.

With extreme caution, the remaining adventurers walked over to the now open pit and looked in.  They were confused – the pit was only 20 ft deep, but there was no sign of Dr. West or his torch [or even a body].  A lit torch was tossed into the pit and it disappeared when it hit the bottom.  Suspecting an illusion of some sort, Boris lowered a rope down into the pit.  When the rope hit the bottom, the entire 50-foot length disappeared.  A teleport trap!

Not certain where it went to and feeling it was time to start heading back [it was getting late], the adventurers threw in a weeks’ worth of iron rations, four doses of Comfrey, some chalk, and a note explaining they would return after re-equipping in Helix.  With little else to do, they backtracked to the surface and went to wait for the Norse Whisperers.

Not too long after they arrived at the waiting point, the adventurers saw the Norse Whisperers running back for all they were worth.  Out of breath, Ragnar asked if they were ready to go, offering no explanation as to why they had been running.  With no obvious threat following, the Revengers shrugged and agreed to leave.

Back in Helix, The Revengers decided to hold onto the Animate Dead amulet until they needed the money and could share it with missing members of the team [notably Daphne and possibly Dr. West…assuming he survives].

End of Session


[So the ending was a bit abrupt because it was getting late and we needed to wrap up.  I ran Dr. West’s landing and immediate happenings in a different room and then stopped.  Last Saturday he and I got together and I ran Dr. West attempting to find his way to the surface.  I’ll do a separate write-up of that, after the rest of the players intersect with his timeline.  SPOILERS!]

[Also, as it was late, as I write this I still need to talk with Quillian's player to find out what he does with Chick-Magnet's remains.  I know he plans on a funeral service, but will he have the body buried in the graveyard behind the Shrine to St. Ygg or start a new graveyard, dedicated to Silvanus, The Green Man?]


The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK


The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers
Session 13
Session 14

Session 15

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 13

[The Revengers trod well used ground, but lived up to their group name in the end!]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Lothair Foxflight – male human Explorer, 2nd level
Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot, still 1st level
Boris the Fighter – male human Fighter, 3rd level
Duncan the Lunkan – male human Cleric, looking for some loot and to make a name for himself…but mostly the loot
Jaxby – male-ish Elven Spellsword [yes, another one], also 1st level

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]

[Daphne’s player was out of town and so she was not active]

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called ‘Len


Moonday, May 27th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The Revengers met up with Dergos [the hired guide] and ‘Len [the hired torchbearer] at the Mercenary Guild building before heading south into the Barrowmoor.  While marching through the moor, they came upon an insect swarm feasting upon something.  Lothair made use of his ability to evade wilderness encounters and led the group around the area.

Having had success down in the Barrowmaze itself last time, the Revengers decided to explore it further.  They entered Barrow 12 [the large one with the cairns leading up to it].  They made use of the rope dangling from the rusted tripod in the barrow to climb down into the first room of the Barrowmaze.  After assembling in a marching order, they walked down the hallway to the first door on the right and opened the door.  The room had a number of giant ants picking over the corpses of the giant rats the adventurers killed their a couple days ago.  Not liking the look of the situation, they closed the door and went down to the next room, which paralleled this one.

This room was empty last time, so they were not expecting the three steel skeletons loitering in the room.  Not certain what they were facing, Boris and Lothair attacked the steel skeleton nearest the door.  Despite Boris hitting with a heavy blow and Lothair doing maximum damage with his bow, the steel skeleton took no damage from the attacks.  Tunrock stepped in front of Lothair and attacked with his enchanted sword, which damaged the steel skeleton, but the steel skeleton could obviously take a lot more.  The steel skeleton returned the attack on Tunrock, hitting twice, but for nearly minimal damage [4 damage on 2d8], which still nearly killed Tunrock [still 1st level and only 5 hit points].  Jaxby immediately started retreating with the rest of the group performing a mix of fighting withdrawals and full retreats.  Tunrock handed over his sword to Boris so Boris could damage the steel skeletons during the retreat.

The group retreated to the rope to the surface.  Jaxby made it up first, quickly followed by ‘Len.  Jaxby assisted Duncan up next by hauling on the rope as Duncan was a very poor climber.  Jaxby then dropped the rope back into the room for the others to use.  Boris made it 15 feet up the rope, with Lothair below him, and Tunrock on the floor having to make a tough decision.  The steel skeletons were slow, but would make it to the base of the rope before Jaxby and Duncan could start hauling it up.  If Tunrock waited at the rope, the steel skeletons would surely kill him.  So Tunrock ran to the back corner of the 30x30 room and hoped for the best.

The steel skeletons arrived and made for the rope.  One of them reached up and attacked Lothair on the rope, severely wounding him [down to 0 hit points exactly].  Lothair struggled to remain conscious from the blood loss and cling to the rope, but passed out and fell back to the floor just as Jaxby hauled the rope up out of the reach of the steel skeletons.  [I had Lothair’s player attempt to roll under his Constitution on a d20.  This gave him a target number of 9 – he rolled well above that.]

Desperate to escape, Tunrock had Jaxby throw the rope back down.  He tried to make use of his superior speed and run around the steel skeletons, but mistimed it and one of the steel skeletons was able to rake him with one of its claws, dropping him.  Jaxby pulled the rope up when he saw this to keep the steel skeletons from pursuing any further.  Boris tossed a flask of military oil onto the steel skeletons to see if there was any effect.  There wasn’t.

Heavily demoralized and understrength, the surviving members of the Revengers headed back to Helix early.  On their way back to town they came across two “normal” skeletons.  Boris vented all of his anger and frustration on them, shattering them into bone shards [he did 30+ points of damage to each, rolling two natural 20s in a row].

Magusday, May 29th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The remaining Revengers spent two days recruiting and healing up from the encounter with the steel skeletons. They checked who was drinking in the Brazen Strumpet and might be an adventurer, interviewing any likely candidates.  They were able to recruit Godric, a Dwarven Craft-catechist recently arrived to Helix, and Dr. Venom West, a Footpad of some [questionable] refinement.  Jaxby also contracted a porter named Colemore to haul his medicinal herbs and spare gear.

Cromsday, May 30th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The newly reconstituted Revengers met up with their hirelings at the Mercenary Guild building and then headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Several hours in, the Revengers ran across a new group of adventurers, the Norse Whisperers.  The Norse Whisperers were a bit lost, but not willing to admit it.  Duncan negotiated a deal where the Norse Whisperers would “protect” the Revengers while the Revengers traveled to the field of barrows while the Revengers led the way.

Once at the field of barrows, the Revengers stated they were going to explore the barrows in a clockwise direction.  The Norse Whisperers immediately declared they were exploring in a widdershins direction, but would meet the Revengers here at 4:00 PM to head back and the Revengers better not be late.  The Revengers as a group rolled their eyes and agreed to this.

The Revengers checked barrows 1, 2, 3, 5, 4, and 7, where they found the sealed bronze door.  They investigated it and found the keyhole hidden in one of the pentagrams on the barrow door.  Dr. West attempted to pick the lock and did well enough that he avoided breaking his picks in the magically locked door.  [I had his player roll his Open Locks skill.  Success indicated he determined the lock was magical in nature but his picks were OK, failure indicated he learned the same thing but broke his lock picks in the process.]

From this barrow they continued checking barrows 6, 13, 15, 14, 22, 23, and then 24.  The stairs down into this previously opened barrow led to a 30x30 square chamber with a door in the near right corner and a tapestry in each of the three other corners.  [The players immediately recognized this room, except Duncan’s player, who was out of town when the TPK happened.]

Godric and Dr. West started searching together for traps or secret doors.  Duncan, ‘Len, and Colemore waited at the stairs while Boris and Jaxby waited in the middle of the room.  When Godric and Dr. West moved the first tapestry [far left corner from the stairs] the discovered two ghouls waiting in an alcove behind the tapestry.  Boris immediately charged, swinging his axe.  He hit the first ghoul and cleaved through it into the second ghoul, downing both.  At the sound of combat, two more ghouls stepped out from behind the tapestry in the far right corner and two ghouls plus a ghoul wardog came out from behind the tapestry in the near right corner.  All five ghouls attacked, but landed few blows in the ensuing combat.  Boris killed most of the ghouls, with Jaxby making up the difference.

After the combat was over, the adventurers realized that most of the ghouls they had just killed were the Motley Crew, risen as ghouls, including Chick-Magnet.  With a certain amount of distaste they looted the corpses of those they sought to revenge.  They noticed that Harkyn’s corpse was nowhere to be found.

By this time it was late in the day, so after resting to catch their breath, they returned to the meeting place.  They found the Norse Whisperers there, angry and with empty pockets.  They too found most of the barrows they explored empty and with no treasure.  The Revengers wisely kept the amount of gold they retrieved from the corpses of the Motley Crew to themselves, merely stating that they killed the ghouls.

End of Session


[This session was a bit slow as halfway through, two of the players had to quickly make new characters.  After that, the group explored previously looted barrows, which covered a lot of ground, but was not very enriching until the last barrow of the day.  They did not get all of the coin the dead Motley Crew had on them, but found most of it.  I rolled d% to randomly determine how much of the coinage was still here and not SPOILER.  They found over 6000 gp total.]

[The players lit up when they realized they were in the barrow where their previous characters all died.  They worked to stay in-character with the new characters but were very excited to be returning to this room again.  The dice were kinder this time and the ghouls did not hit with as great a frequency as the first time.  Having cleave attacks and a 3rd level fighter made a huge difference, even with twice as many ghouls.  The players were very satisfied when the fight completed.  They have also cleared most of the previously explored barrows on the north half of the map and are now ready to open previously unexplored barrows.]

[So Barrowmaze has a mechanism for restocking previously explored dungeon rooms (not the barrows).  Almost every room the characters had previously found empty now has monsters in it, most higher in level than the player characters.  The steel skeletons are 8 hit dice monsters and the party just averages 2nd level now, so that was a very lop-sided fight.  These things happen and the party recognized the danger and fled, like they should have.  If they had just fled (full movement) instead of doing fighting withdrawals (half-move only), I think they would have all escaped, but I cannot fault them for being cautious in their retreat.]

[Next session Quillian with be done with his bedrest and available to adventure again.  It will be interesting to see the roleplay that happens as he returns from Ironguard Motte and introduces himself to the new group of adventurers.]

[I’m also cleaning up the links below so they don’t take up more and more real estate.  I may do a separate navigation page listing just the sessions for The Motley Crew and putting it in a widget on the sidebar.  I’m still thinking that over.]


The Motley Crew
Session 1: The Start

Session 11: TPK


The Revengers
Session 12: Rise of the Revengers

Session 14



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 12

[Rise of the Revengers – the player characters get back on the horse that threw them.]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Revengers)
Lothair Foxflight – male human Explorer, 2nd level
Daphne – female human Bladedancer, 3rd level
Boris the Fighter – male human Fighter, 3rd level
Tunrock Shadowfury – male-ish Elven Spellsword [he’s an elf – what do you want?], exploring Barrowmaze for the loot, still 1st level
Jaxby – male-ish Elven Spellsword [yes, another one], also 1st level

Recovering from Injury
Quillian the Green – male human mage, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot to establish a chantry [but mostly for the loot]
[Kord is now officially retired as an adventurer]

NPCs
Dergos – male human guide, still sold on the glory of adventuring
Morgullen – professional torchbearer, prefers to be called “Len”


Magusday, May 22th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Word spread to Ironguard Motte that the adventuring group The Motley Crew had died at the Barrowmaze.  This caused some level of consternation amongst a few merchants in the small town that had outstanding orders for equipment from members of the group.  One of the armorers, Otto Darkeye, had finally secured a suit of magical armor for Brock and now Brock was dead.  Conveniently, an associate of Brock’s came by, asking for enchanted armor, so Otto sold the armor to him.

Boris and Tunrock [recently working as caravan guards] decided to form a new group together, The Revengers.  They spent a couple days recruiting to fill out the group.

Yggsday, May 25th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
With three additional adventurers added to the group [Lothair, Daphne, and Jaxby], The Revengers walked to Helix.  Arriving in the afternoon, they stopped by the Mercenary Guild.  Osen was very pleased to see Tunrock and [to a lesser extent] Boris.  They hired Dergos, a guide, and Morgullen, a torchbearer.  Those two worthies were told to be ready early in the morning the next day to get started.

Tunrock was able to purchase a new copy of the Barrow field.  The person selling it swore it was “accurate and updated” but wouldn’t give his name.  Seemed as legitimate as the previous map, so Tunrock bought it.  [I modified the previous map so it showed which barrows had been opened and moved a few barrows so their placement was a bit more accurate.]

Sunday, May 26th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group headed south, into the Barrowmoor.  Lothair, skilled at moving through the wilds, safely directed the group around a frogling hunting party.

Arriving at the field of barrows, the group decided to enter Barrow 12 and descend into the dungeon below it.  Tunrock knows the way as he has been down there before.  Down in the Barrowmaze itself, the group went down the main passage, stopping at the second intersection to look.  Seeing only more corridor, they decided to back up and check the doors on the right-hand wall.

The first door opened onto a 20x20 room with a large number of hungry giant rats scavenging the debris in the room.  To the hungry giant rats, the adventurers looked like food and so they attacked.  Despite the large number of giant rats, the adventurers quickly put an end to them with cleaving attacks.  [This was supposed to be room 5, but I mis-read the entry and ended up swapping the room contents.]

After killing the giant rats and doing some healing, the adventurers opened the door on the far wall.  This opened to an empty room [Room 20] with a door in each far corner and a passage in the near-left corner.  Looking down the passage, they saw some doors on the left wall and decided to investigate those first.  The first door opened on another 20x20 room, with a door on the far wall that matched up with a door in the main passage.  The next door down opened on a 20x30 room with some conspicuous footprints and graffiti on the wall stating, “Cannot get out!”  This seemed ominous.

Tunrock and Jaxby noticed a secret door further down the hallway, near where the passage ended and opened up on a chamber.  The adventurers looked into this chamber, which turned out to be empty, but had a door on the far wall.  Rather than pushing on any further, they opened the secret door in the hallway and found an L-shaped room with a large number of triangular, empty, burial alcoves in the walls.  There were also two backpacks, partially full of supplies; a sledge hammer; 50’ of rope; a quiver with 4 arrows; and two potions of healing.  The arrows and the potions were the only magic items in the stash and The Revengers helped themselves to them.  Needing to rest, they entered the chamber and pulled the door closed behind them.  They used Tunrock’s sword as their only light source to avoid smoke from the torches.

After their rest, the group left the secret chamber and backtracked a bit to a door on the south wall.  A nearly physical wave of decay-stench rolled over them when they opened the door.  Lothair, Tunrock, and Jaxby immediately started vomiting from the smell.  On the far wall were the corpses of two adventurers pinned to the wall by spears and apparently fed upon.  They appeared to be 2-3 weeks dead.

Boris entered the chamber cautiously, looking for a spear trap of some sort or monsters lurking in the two corners he could not see from the door.  The walls were covered with square burial alcoves, each holding an urn.  Boris checked the corpses and noticed one had a backpack on.  He investigated it and found some handfuls of silver coins and one of gold coins.  Not slowing to count the coins, he transferred them to the loot sack and returned to the doorway where the air was a little cleaner.

The group decided to investigate the alcoves, but started working in teams, one searching, and one with a weapon at the ready in case anything showed up.  After 10 minutes of that, they split up into single people and kept searching.  It took a total of 50 minutes to complete the search.  [They stopped part way for a rest, which is not part of that total.]  They found nothing but ashes and bone shards in any of the urns.

Closing the door to that room behind them, the group backtracked [to Room 20] to check a different door.  Four zombies immediately attacked from the small room on the other side of the door.  Tunrock went down to a zombie attack, but Daphne healed him before as the fight finished.  It was noticed that one of the zombies had an electrum necklace on, and that was taken and added to the loot bag.

On the back wall of that room was another door.  The adventurers opened it [cautiously] and found another small chamber beyond it.  This room had four pedestals, each with a black velvet funerary box atop it.  Tunrock also noticed a secret door in the left corner, but could not determine how to open it.  The adventurers immediately assumed something in one of the boxes let it open.  Boris entered the room and removed the funerary box from the closest pedestal.  This exposed a concealed area containing a lever.  [This was a mistake on my part – the lever was supposed to be in a hidden compartment and I mis-read it as just concealed under the box.  My bad.]

Being thorough, Boris removed the boxes from all four pedestals, finding a level under each one.  He then opened one of the boxes and found bones and a velvet right-handed glove.  He took the glove and checked the other three boxes, finding the same in each.  He took all four gloves, stuck them in a pocket and put the boxes back on the pedestals.  The group was close to a rest break and took it early to talk over what to do next.  They decided to wait on putting on the gloves and on trying any of the levers until the next time they returned.  It was approaching the time they wanted to leave the area, so they backtracked to the surface.

On the way back to Helix, they ran across another group of adventurers heading to the barrows.  The Revengers tried to warn the group [Bertrand’s Brigands] that it was getting late and they should head back.  The Brigands ignored the warnings and continued to the barrows.  The Revengers shrugged and let them go.

Back in Helix, Boris stopped at The Axe and Anvil, the dwarven smithy in Helix and commissioned a magical axe [+1].  Karg, the smith, told him it would take a month to prepare and he required half payment up front.  Boris didn’t quite have that, but Karg took pity on Boris for “the recent loss of your companions” and offered to take 2000 gp now and 3000 gp in a month.  Boris accepted.

End of Session

[The group decided to sell off one of the healing potions as the XP granted by it was just enough for Lothair and Jaxby to level.]

[So I need to re-read the Barrowmaze room descriptions again.  It’s been too long since I did so the first time and I’m missing some of the details.  That said, I’m pleased the adventurers are finally exploring the actual dungeon.  I expect they’ll split time between the barrows and the dungeon for a bit.]

[Something I forgot to mention in my “How I Run the Game” posting – I highlight the areas the PCs have adventured on the maps.  This helps me remember over time where they’ve been and also find the entrances on the giant map of the dungeon itself.  I don’t have a plotter, so I cannot print it out on one sheet, so I’m using the sectional maps.  It is very convenient to have both in the product as the large scale map lets me see how things fit together and the smaller maps let me see the detail.  I’ve been highlighting in yellow, but that seems to be too faint for detail, so I’m going to get either a light blue or light green at Office Depot so I can see it better.]


Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9
Session 10
Session 11

Session 13 [Not yet written]


Friday, July 6, 2018

Barrowmaze – How I Manage the Game

[I received a request on the Barrowmaze FaceBook page asking for a post about how I manage the game.  This is that post.]

Props to the Writers
Barrowmaze has pretty much everything you need to run it.  There is enough setting to get you started, yet self-contained enough you can run it by itself or slot it into an existing campaign world.  I’m running it stand-alone and the amount of heavy lifting I had to do was virtually nil.  Props to Greg Gillespie for writing Barrowmaze and making it as complete as possible.  Mechanisms for digging up covered barrows, how long it takes to break into a barrow, and magic items that fit the theme are all present and up front.  While I might quibble about the order some things are in [side effect of being a professional tech writer], everything you need is there, including things you might not have thought of.

Also, I’d like to thank Omer G. Joel for posting HIS session notes about running Barrowmaze using ACKS.  It inspired me to do the same.  I even lifted his map as a handout because it is useful, attractive, and my drawing skills are nowhere near as good.  Sadly, he stopped posting about his campaign in March with no explanation.  [Although I suspect he is writing material for his publishing company.]

Between Sessions
Barrowmaze has material for restocking cleared sections of the actual dungeon, which will keep players on their toes.  Until Session 12, I only had recourse to this material once, when the PCs entered Barrow 12 and found their first entrance into the actual dungeon and promptly retreated after fighting four skeletons.  As I write this, I have to refresh my memory on this content by re-reading it and implementing it, so I don’t have a lot to say about it yet other than it is nice for it to be there.  Supplying these kinds of mechanisms is why I like Barrowmaze so much.

I also write up my session notes blog post between sessions and set it to post Tuesdays.  I’ll discuss my notes below, so I’ll skip it here.

Setting the Table
I have the ACKS rules in hardcopy and a PDF, which is very handy.  I place flags in the hardcopy for the tables I need to reference often (Monster To-Hit Table, Monster XP, Magic Item Cost, and the surprisingly popular Mortality Table).  I printed packets of the rules for character creation, proficiencies, equipment and hirelings, and the spell lists for the casters.  These are kept handy on the table as there is a surprising amount of rules in those packets that we don’t have memorized.

I don’t use a screen and roll my dice where the players can see the results [Exceptions: monster hit points and checks for wandering monsters, both of which they’ll learn about soon enough].  This keeps me honest and removes the temptation to try and craft the events at the table.

I have a 6x9 notebook that I keep my session notes in.  Each session starts on a fresh, right-hand page with a clear facing page as well [I keep random notes there, time passed, and the party marching order].  At the top of the right-hand page I write the session number and the Real World date.  Underneath that I list the players at the table, starting from my left and going clock-wise around the table.  [This is why the order of the PC list at the top of the blog posts shifts sometimes – the players have adjusted where they’re sitting for various reasons.]  Next to each player name I write the name of the character they are playing that night.  This shifts as PCs die or are laid up with extensive bed rest [as per the results on the Mortality Table].  I also make note of their character level and class so I can do a quick average of levels.  This tells me which encounter tables I need to roll on during the session.

The Session
When the players are at the table [and I’m ready], I’ll ask if anyone has left-over business from the last game session.  I’ll tell them the current in-game date and where they left off.  Usually they are in Helix, but if they needed a casting of Restore Life and Limb, they will still be in Ironguard Motte.  If that is the case, they might donate some coin for additional healing at the Temple of St. Ygg [if they are still down hit points from last session] or do some shopping as I put the only bookshop in the area in Ironguard Motte and it also handles scrolls.  [A surprising number of scholars are also spell casters of some sort, so it was a natural melding of two otherwise marginal businesses.]

If the players are in Helix and need healing, they have several options: Shrine of St. Ygg, a local Physicker, or one of the party members with the Healing proficiency twice [making them a Physicker].  Who they use depends on what they want to spend and how much time they are willing to wait.  We often scroll time a day or so for this.  I note down what days pass [if any] and roughly what the PCs did each day.  The rest is mostly hand-waved as “adventure doesn’t happen in town” – something I picked up running West Marches-style campaigns, which in some ways Barrowmaze is.  This might change if the players make use of the domain rules in ACKS, but for the moment all adventure is out in the moors.

Once the players spend whatever time they want in town [and have stated which NPCs they want to hire], I make note of the current date, tell them, and then read the description of the moors in the Barrowmaze book.  It’s barely a paragraph and I read it with plodding tone to impress the oppressiveness of the moors [and to tell everyone we are officially starting play].  I’ve made some modifications to it based on the fact that the players have led packs of laborers and guards through here, creating a bit of a trail.  Then I check to see what they encounter on the way to the barrows.

There is a bit of art around this.  If we’re running late, I might elide over this so we can get straight to the meat of the session.  I have them roll surprise and then I tell them that they spot [because with keen-eyed elves around, who gets surprised anymore?] whatever I rolled at a distance and see if they want to interact or not.  The players have learned these encounters result in no loot, which is the largest portion of XP in ACKS, so they usually avoid the fight if I give them the chance.

As an aside, I didn’t have stats for Axe Beaks the first time I rolled them [I do now – heh, heh, heh].  The Animated Statues had recently been released and were known to be wandering the moors, so rather than spend time looking for stats I told them they found the pulped remains of giant birds, clearly attacked by the statues.  This kept the statues a current threat and let me pass on the encounter.  With Tunrock being played again [and still carrying the glowing sword from that barrow], I’ll bring the issue with the statues to a head sometime soon and give the players a chance to face the statues on a more even footing.

The Barrowmaze book states that the barrows are a half-day from Helix.  Depending on whether or not they had an encounter and how that went, the adventurers usually arrive between 11:00 AM and Noon [they get an early start to maximize exploration time].  They have developed a standard procedure where they never stay past 4:00 PM, giving them 4-5 hours to explore.  Often this is more than they need.

Once they arrive, I start the clock.  In my notebook, on the left-hand page, I write “Time” and make hash marks to tally time as it passes.  At first I just tallied time normally in groups of 5, but I realized the PCs have to rest every 6th Turn per the rules and adjusted my tally so each row was one hour, meaning a group of 5 marks and then a single mark.  This also made it easier for me to track the number of hours they PCs had been on site.

So searching for traps or secret doors takes a Turn, which gets a tally mark.  If different PCs search for different things at the same time, I only make one tally mark, but this means the group is spread around the room during this time, which they just learned can be fatal.  Combats usually take up a Turn as well, encompassing the time the fighting actually takes and some recovery time to catch their breath.  Smashing the stone slab sealing each barrow takes 2 Turns per the Barrowmaze text [again, very handy to have that spelled out in the text] so two tally marks for that.

[NOTE: This also triggers two extra rolls for wandering monsters, so before I announce the time has passed, I make the rolls.  Early on I had to take back some time because both dice indicated wandering monsters after I had announced they had broken into the barrow.  Important lesson in timing there.]

Once the players have done things for 5 tally marks, I announce they have to rest.  I make this mark in red ink so it is obvious they’ve rested.  The rests also provide a sense of time passing, which helps the verisimilitude, and the players often take the time to discuss what they are doing next.  There have been times the players have checked when the next rest is when contemplating a course of action and taken a rest early if something they were contemplating would be interrupted.  Healing with the Healing proficiency also takes a Turn [as opposed to magic, which is one action].

The players make sketch maps as they explore.  When combat happens, we don’t use miniatures as I try to explain where things are and how things progress.  Fights in doorways sometimes require using dice to show exactly where people are standing relative to each other and the walls.  The groups marching order is a line, so until they say they crowd the doorway, I assume they are still in a line.  Not everyone makes that same assumption, so clarification helps.

While the players are doing things, I make notes hitting the high points.  My notes are mostly to jog my memory later and to record specific values [like treasure found].  Often I list a barrow number and then a sentence or two of what happened and if anyone died.  When the PCs descend into the actual Barrowmaze, I just keep a list of the rooms they go through unless something unusual happens and then I write down some details.  I use abbreviations a lot in my notes.

At some point the PCs decide to leave. Either they have enough loot for the day or [more often] they are running low on hit points and out of healing magic.  The encounter on the way back to town is often a bit more critical, especially when a rival adventuring party pops up, so I usually run this encounter.  ACKS has rules for evading an encounter and sometimes the PCs are successful and sometimes the fight happens anyways.

Wrap Up
Once the players make it back to Helix we deal with healing and whether or not they have to go to Ironguard Motte for a casting [or two] of Restore Life and Limb.  Then I tally loot and monster XP, divide by the number of surviving players, work out the values for +0%, +5%, and +10% [noting who earns which], and then hand out XP.  If characters level, I make note of it.  I can always double-check XP totals if someone forgets whether or not they added XP last session.

If a character died and the body was not retrieved, that player is responsible for having their next character ready by the beginning of the next session.  If anyone is doing things in town, like, say, having a manor house built [cough, Quillian, cough], we’ll discuss that and work out any details between games [or at the beginning of the next session].

Writing Up the Session Notes
So a couple days later I sit down with my sketchy notes and my semi-reliable memory to type up the blog posts.  I reference the room descriptions in Barrowmaze for details and to get the order of things correct.  I put things into a simplified narrative, explaining things caused by the dice or the rules where necessary as asides.  There may be a little embroidery here and there to make the story flow, but pretty much everything in the session notes actually happened.

While I use the Real World calendar for the dates, I came up with my own day-names.  I would have done my own months as well, but that would have just obscured things.  Using actual month names makes some implications about the weather and when the sun rises and sets.  The year naming based on the name of the king and how long he’s reigned seemed to fit better than an arbitrary number.  That will eventually change by the way, I just haven’t decided exactly when.  I’m sure something the PCs do will suggest a good time for that to happen.



So, Rafael, does that help?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 11

[T.P.K. - Total Party Kill.  Read on to learn more...]

[Also?  SPOILERS!  This series will spoil what’s in Barrowmaze, so take that into consideration before reading.]

PCs (The Motley Crew)
“Drake” – male human Assassin, 3rd level
Harkyn (the Hare) – gender fluid Elven Nightblade, 3rd level
Frank the Cleric – male human Cleric of Silvanus, 2nd level
Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, 3rd level
Samsokn [the “k” is silent] – male Dwarven Craftpriest, 3rd level

Recovering from Injury
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

NPCs
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
Ackerby – a porter
Karmak – a porter, referred to as “Jeeves”
Wilstap – man-at-arms
Bolix – professional torchbearer


Sunday, May 19th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
Still in Ironguard Motte, looking for some magic armor [to no luck], Brock hired a human named Ackerby to be his porter.  Upon hearing about this, Harkyn followed suite, hiring a local named Karmak to carry their locked chest.  Harkyn doesn’t quite understand human culture and calls Karmak “Jeeves” as Harkyn thinks that is the correct name of human servants.

Harkyn also ran into a person they knew from back in more civilized areas of the kingdom, an assassin by trade.  The assassin heard about treasure being taken from the moors and wanted to try his luck.  Harkyn dragged this fellow back to the adventuring group and introduced him as “Drake”.  It is not entirely clear is Drake is his real name, but it is the one he is using now.

The members of The Motley Crew in Ironguard Motte spent the rest of the day walking back to Helix.  Back in Helix, Brock and Harkyn made arrangements with Turken at the general store to store their locked chests in the storeroom.  Turken charges Brock 5gp for storage until September 1st, which is when the adventuring season starts winding down before the rains arrive.  He charges Harkyn 9 gp, mostly because he thinks Brock might die before September and he’ll be able to re-rent the space, whereas Harkyn is a survivor and will make use of the space the entire time.

Harkyn also left word at the Mercenary Guild for Norman and Chick-Magnet to be ready the next day for another trip into the moors.  Samsokn decided to hire a man-at-arms [Wilstap] to support him and hold his extra supply of crossbow bolts.

Moonday, May 20th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The adventurers met up at the Mercenary Guild with their crowd of hirelings just after dawn and headed south, into the Barrowmoor.

A couple hours in, while traveling through an area with trees, a giant python fell out of a tree onto Frank and started constricting him.  Before the python could kill Frank, the rest of the adventurers attacked and killed the python.  Brock and Drake took some time to partially skin the python, taking the head and a five-foot stretch of skin for later use.

As a result of pausing to skin the python, the group arrived at the field of barrows a little after Noon.  The group decided to investigate Barrow 27.  On their map it appeared to need diggers to be uncovered and they wanted to verify that.  Actually at Barrow 27, they found it completely covered in grass and dirt.

Having verified that item on their map, they next walked over to Barrow 26 to explore it.  Frank volunteered for sledgehammer duty and 20 minutes later, the sealing stone was cracked and fell away, exposing a set of stone stairs.  After tossing a torch down the stairs to see if anything attacked it, the group entered the barrow.  They found a rounded 60x60 foot room with demonic murals covering the walls and ceiling.  In the center was a very large bronze brazier, unlit.

After exploring the room and finding nothing else of note, they investigated the brazier more closely.  Despite the brazier containing charcoal, they could not light it.  They even added some of Frank’s military oil to the charcoal to no avail.  Taking some inspiration from the murals, Frank shouted out several choice curse words to no effect [other than shocking a few of the other adventurers].  Not certain what to do, they tied rope to the brazier and hauled it over to the base of the steps.  At this point they needed to take a rest, so they returned to the surface and talked about what to do next.  Ultimately, they decided to go explore a different barrow and return to this barrow later to take the brazier back to Helix to experiment on.  [What could go wrong?]

After their rest, the group walked over to Barrow 25.  Frank once again volunteered for sledgehammer duty and after 20 minutes of hard work, the sealing stone was shattered.  The exposed stairs led down to an octagonal room with four pillars.  Each pillar had gemstones embedded on it, decoratively arranged.  After searching the chamber for traps, they settled down to looting the gems from the pillars, collecting 19 gems [the number per pillar was randomly determined] over 20 minutes.

With gems in the loot bag, they checked the three passages leading out of the room.  Each passage has steps down to a locked door – which they have no ability to pick.  Deciding that the stone walls around the door cannot be any thicker than the sealing stone, they applied the sledgehammer near the hinges and brute forced their way past the door on the left.  This led to another octagonal room lined with burial alcoves.  While looking around, Drake nearly fell into a pit trap in the center of the room.  Unfortunately, his hireling, Bolix, did not catch himself and he fell into the pit and died on the spikes at the bottom.

The group started searching the burial alcoves.  Near the end, Harkyn broke off and climbed down into the pit to retrieve Bolix’s corpse for return to Helix.  After 30 minutes of searching, the group was able to put a good amount of coins and a magic ring into the loot bag.

With loot and a need to return Bolix’s corpse for a proper burial, the group decided to head back to Helix.  On the way back they saw a patrol of lizardmen, but both groups decided to acknowledge each other and go about their business.

Back in Helix, Bolix’s body was turned over to Osen at the Mercenary Guild, explaining what happened.  Samsokn contributed an additional 10 gp to the standard 5 gp Death Benefit the guild provides.  They arrange to hire 10 diggers and five guards for the diggers for the next day.  That night [after selling off the loot], a wake was held for Bolix at the Brazen Strumpet.

[This is where the players got into trouble.  It wasn’t quite stopping time for the evening and some of them were close to leveling, so they decided to go back for “one more barrow”.]

Hernesday, May 21th, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
A little hung over, the adventurers picked up the diggers and guards at the Mercenary Guild and headed south.  Near the field of barrows, they ran across a pack of ghouls.  Frank was paralyzed in the first round, with Chick-Magnet, Drake, and Brock getting paralyzed in the second round.  Harkyn and Samsokn were starting to get overwhelmed when the hired guards left the diggers and approached the fight.  The shift in numbers convinced the ghouls to break and run rather than die [again].  Rather than waste time in the moors waiting for the paralysis victims to become mobile, packs were re-apportioned and the paralyzed people were carried.  By the time the group reached the field, most of those paralyzed were moving again.  Frank was the last to recover.

The adventurers walked the diggers over to Barrow 17 and set them to digging with the guards keeping a watch over the diggers.  The adventurers returned to Barrow 25 to finish clearing it.  Using their sledgehammer, they bashed the walls around the two remaining locked doors.  Behind one of those doors was an empty room and behind the other was a partially collapsed room where a gem was seen in the debris.  Brock stepped in and retrieved the gem and verified there was nothing else of worth.

With a minimal return on their trip, the adventurers walked over to Barrow 24.  Brock took a turn on the sledgehammer and broke down the sealing stone.  The group cautiously went down the stairs and found a square room with a door in the near left corner and tapestries hanging in the other three corners.  Frank and Brock went to check the door while Harkyn started a clock-wise search for secret doors, Drake started a counter-clockwise search, and Samsokn and Wilstap observed from the center of the room.

At about the same time, Harkyn and Drake each discovered a ghoul hiding behind the tapestries in the opposite corners.  Drake was instantly paralyzed, but Harkyn, an elf, wasn’t and they cried out in alarm.  This drew all the attention to Harkyn and away from the paralyzed Drake as the fight started.  A third ghoul stepped out from behind the remaining tapestry and rushed at Brock and a very surprised Frank.  Rapidly, Brock and Frank were paralyzed by that ghoul.  Samsokn and Wilstrap made a fighting retreat to the foot of the stairs, fending off the ghoul that had paralyzed Drake.  Chick-Magnet joined them there but was paralyzed after attacking a ghoul.  Harkyn was only able to make it partway across the room as a fighting withdrawal and ended up facing the other two ghouls near the center of the room.  Harkyn killed one of the ghouls, but eventually fell to the onslaught of attacks from the other ghoul.  Samsokn and Wilmar held on a little longer but eventually fell to the claws and fangs of the last two ghouls.

Up on the surface, Norman, Ackerby, and Karmak heard the fight down below.  As the sounds of each adventurer were suddenly cut off, they gathered at the top of the stairs to see what was going on.  They observed the last stand of Samsokn and Wilstrap.  When the ghouls looked up the stairs at them, they fled, running as fast as they could over to Barrow 17.  When they reported all the adventurers had been killed by ghouls, ghouls that might be coming to Barrow 17, the guards and the diggers panicked and fled.

Late that night, Norman led the bedraggled hirelings back to Helix, where they reported the death of the entire Motley Crew to Osen.  Most of the hirelings then went to the Brazen Strumpet and spent their pay getting very drunk.

End of Session

[So – TPK.  There was discussion afterwards about what happened.  Harkyn and Samsokn’s players felt that they should have fled instead of doing a fighting withdrawal, but it was very difficult to make that decision with the other PCs paralyzed but still alive.  They knew if they fled, the other PCs would become ghoul food and rise as ghouls later.  And for a moment, it looked like maybe they could win the fight and rescue everyone.  Unfortunately, Samsokn’s dice hated him and he only hit once out of six tries.  Harkyn’s dice rolled just under what was necessary to kill a second ghoul and the ghouls rolled well at the end.]

[I decided that the treasure from the evening’s first expedition would count as money spent to no benefit, so those making new characters would start at 3400 XP – it was a good haul as the magic ring was a +2 ring of protection.  There was some gnashing of teeth when they learned how much XP they had just lost and the leveling they could have done instead of making new characters, but they thanked me for the XP for their new characters.]



Session 1
Session 2
Session 3
Session 4
Session 5
Session 6
Session 7
Session 8
Session 9
Session 10


Session 12