Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Delvers Guild – Session 8 – An Unexpected Passage

[The elf takes his leave and the Delvers wrap-up their second expedition to the complex under the Moon Manor Ruins.]

[This game uses the Fifth Revised Edition of the Hero System rules along with the Fantasy Hero supplement.  This session happened July 15, 2019.]

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

Non-Player Characters:
Torsten, Fish, Harek – surviving bandits and now torchbearers for the Delvers Guild
Lester “Les” Stalwart – human male, younger brother of Nick and general tag-along [DNPC]

Freysday, October 18th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
[Resumes where Session 7 left off, about 2:00 PM]
After checking the morgue and finding little of interest, the Delvers had returned to the top of the ramp in the southern passage to get out of the two feet of water flooding the lower area and take a rest.  They discussed their options and what order they wanted to tackle the rest of the complex.  The doors to the fungoid people was still closed and sealed by way of the airlock mechanism, so as much as they wanted to go look in that lab, it was out of their reach.  They discussed the looking into the unmapped area near the stairwell, but Hefhauer, the captive elf, told them it was only a minor storage area.  They eventually settled on checking the third lab, which Hefhauer claimed was a golem works.

The group walked south to the third set of doors on the western wall.  Ricky opened the outer doors and the group entered the airlock chamber.  Ricky closed the outer doors and then Jala pushed open the inner doors so the group could see the room beyond.

The room beyond was 30 by 30 feet square and held several work tables, some of which had things on them.  There were chains hanging from the ceiling, some of which were on tracks and one held a partially assembled metal golem.  The Delvers spread out to search the room with Nick, Les, and Hefhauer hanging back at the airlock door.  Five minutes into the search, a large patch of dust in the far corner started swirling.  Several of the Delvers noticed and Vorgand stated she once read somewhere that this was what happened to golems that were never completed…or were broken and never repaired, she couldn’t remember which.  Zarek made the tone that the clay golems upstairs had accepted.  The “dust devil” [Vorgand’s name for it] opened red eyes and stared at Zarek as it formed.

The dust devil advanced on Clarence, who was closest and, coincidentally, between the dust devil and Zarek.  It enveloped Clarence and then drained most of Clarence’s bodily essence, allowing it to start becoming corporeal.  [It did a 6d6 BODY Drain and rolled a 20, draining away all 10 of Clarence’s BODY.  Per the rules he was still alive until he went to negative his starting BODY, which was a relief to Clarence’s player.]  When Clarence dropped to the floor, withered but alive, the other Delvers attacked to keep the dust devil from repeating that drain on Clarence and killing him.

Zarek, Ricky, and Nick all cast attack spells at the dust devil to minor effect.  Vorgand, who had been folding her attack as she had no magic weapon to hit it with asked Jala for the magic dagger.  Jala, who had done little to no damage to the dust devil with the magic dagger so far, handed it over.  Vorgand used her Steel Serpent martial art with the magic dagger to perform a precision attack on the dust devil, stunning it.  [She rolled maximum damage after the others had repeatedly hit it for small amounts, just getting its STUN into the negatives.]  The Delvers continued to attack the dust devil until they were satisfied it would no longer rise and attack them.  [How permanent that will be is up to me.  Heh.]

After packing up some magical golem-making tools, the Delvers left the golem works.  They decided to investigate the room Hefhauer claimed would let him go home.  Hefhauer’s hands were still tied and his feet hobbled with rope, so the Delvers were confident they could handle any shenanigans Hefhauer tried to pull.  [But they should have checked the elf’s ropes to see if they were actually still tight because Escape Artist is a skill in the Hero System and Hefhauer has it.]

The last room at the end of the corridor was a circular room 30 feet in diameter.  An extremely elaborate summoning circle was inlaid on the floor with three stone plinths arranged around its edge, one each on the north, east, and south sides.  The silvered traceries from the floor extended up the plinths.  About five feet south of the circle was a small pedestal.  The only light in the room was from the Delvers' torches.

The Delvers felt that the circle was busted, but Hefhauer suggested it might just be powered down.  He asked for permission to go over to the pedestal to check.  Suspicious but not paranoid, the Delvers agreed, but Ricky and Zarek followed him over to the pedestal.  Vorgand, Clarence, Nick, and Les stayed at the entrance area while Jala walked around on the room’s walls [with her Spiderwalk spell].

Hefhauer opened a cabinet in the far side of the pedestal [south side] and pulled out an octagonal gem.  Jala recognized it was the same type and cut as the one she found in the warehouse area.  Hefhauer put the gem on top of the pedestal in an octagonal shallow depression on top of the pedestal.  The silvered circle lit up!

Hefhauer pulled a stone cube with symbols on it out of the small cabinet area, looked for a symbol on the cube, and then set the cube on top of the pedestal in a shallow square depression.  This caused a gate to open inside the circle, but they could not see anything in the gate  it was solid black.  Hefhauer frowned.  He pulled a second cube out of the cabinet area, looked for a different symbol, and placed the second cube in the next depression.  This caused the gate to shift and make a “blip” noise before it showed a courtyard in some tree covered ruins.

While the Delvers were all staring at the gate and what they could see through it, Hefhauer slipped his hands out of their bindings and attempted to subtly cast his Sleep spell again on Zarek and Ricky.  Both noticed but only Ricky was able to dive out of the area of effect in time.  Zarek was caught in the area of the spell and fell unconscious.  Before the surprised Delvers could react, Hefhauer acrobatically rolled from the pedestal to the gate and through it.  They could see him continue his roll to the side and out of their field of vision.  [Hefhauer was Speed 4 with DEX 19 and caught most of the Delvers by surprise, so he effectively got 2 actions before the Speed 3 Delvers could react.]

Vorgand, Nick, Ricky, and Jala immediately charged through the gate to follow, arriving on the other side.  The gate on this side was clearly unstable with arcs of blue lightning crackling off the broken plinths.  The Delvers arrived just in time to see Hefhauer drop the ropes from his left arm and start casting another spell.  Vorgand dove for cover, fearing another Sleep spell.  Hefhauer instead winked out, teleporting away to an unknown location.

With the gate getting very unstable and strobing, the Delvers quickly stepped back through the gate to the underground complex.  Vorgand went over to the pedestal and pulled the second cube off the pedestal, switching the gate back to the blackness just as Ricky [the last one back through the gate] arrived.  [If Ricky had any Unluck, I would have stranded him on the other side, which would have been unfortunate for him.]

The Delvers experimented with the cubes a bit and worked out that they controlled where the gate opened.  They could not get the second cube to reopen at the ruins Hefhauer escaped through and they suspected that the gate there was no longer functional.  The gate now opened on a cave.  When Zarek went through he noticed a musky smell similar to the traces he smelled up in the surface ruins.  It made him VERY uncomfortable to be there and he backed through the gate to the underground complex.

The delvers discovered that if the first cube was not in place, the gate stayed open and cycled through a series of six locations: a set of ruins that were underwater, a set of ruins with sand everywhere, a different cave, a relatively small room with stone walls, a stone area with raised plant beds full of dead plants and a black sky, and the solid black area.  They also verified that the gem was some form of power stone and that removal of it stopped the gate from working.  Zarek cast Detect Magic and was nearly blinded by the gate’s magic but he could determine that the gem from the cabinet was much more magical that the one the Delvers found in the warehouse.

After some discussion, the Delvers decided to investigate the room Hefhauer told them was dangerous.  They suspected he had told them that so they would not endanger his ability to use the gate.  They left the gate room and went north to the other hallway on the east side of the passage.  This was short and led to a set of airlock doors.  Thinking whatever was on the other side might actually be dangerous, the Delvers layered three defensive spells on Nick and gave him one set of the communication ear rings [Vorgand wore the other pair].  He then entered the airlock passage.

On the other side was a room twenty feet wide by thirty feet deep.  In the center was a large circular apparatus on the floor.  Floating above the apparatus was what appeared to be a blue sun ten feet in diameter.  Arcs of material looped off it and electricity arced off those when they drifted by any metal.  Just in front of the apparatus was a low pedestal with four octagonal indentations.  Nick relayed all of this to Vorgand through the communications ear rings.

Daunted, Nick approached the apparatus and placed the octagonal gem from the warehouse into one of the indentations.  It fit perfectly.  While he did this, some of the material looping off the blue sun started bending towards Nick and he quickly backed up to the airlock and mostly closed the doors.  As he peeked through the crack between doors he saw the gem start to glow, then glow brightly, then glow painfully bright and start giving off electrical arcs!  Nick stepped back into the room and quickly retrieved the gem.  It was warm to the touch, even through his leather armor gloves, but it stopped glowing and emitting sparks.  Nick backed away from the apparatus and looked around the room.  He located a cabinet in a corner but it was locked.

Returning back through the airlock, Nick told the other Delvers what he had seen and that there was a cabinet that might have more of the gems in it.  Jala’s ears perked up at this.  Zarek cast Detect Magic again and verified the warehouse gem was now significantly more magical than it had been.

After some discussion, several members of the group entered the blue sun room.  Jala attempted to pick the lock on the cabinet but broke her last set of lock picks attempting to open it.  She was very frustrated by this.  The group left the blue sun room and the Delvers decided it was time to return to the surface.

On the way out, they stopped and checked the storage area they had skipped on the way in.  It was empty of anything but the metal shelves.  Disappointed but not surprised, the Delvers started climbing back up the stairs.  They got past the bottom of the waterfall area safely, but at the gap above where the water started falling, Clarence completely lost his grip on the ropes, even with Zarek helping him.  As Clarence fell, he reached out in his panic and desperately grabbed Zarek.  Zarek tried to stop their fall but only succeeded in slowing it enough that they landed on the stairs across the open shaft, two rotations down.  The landing hurt, but Clarence was able to get up and resume climbing the stairs.  Zarek made a point to stay out of arm’s reach of Clarence for the rest of the trip.  [Jala helped Clarence get across the gap.]

Back on the surface, the Delvers discovered that their torchbearers had returned…or at least most of them had – Kol was missing.  Torsten told them that it took longer to get the new supplies than expected and they were sorry they had not got back in time.  The Delvers noticed that there were now chickens in the goat pen with the goats and the “ex-“bandits were currently roasting a pig.  Fairly certain that Torsten and crew had actually raided some place and stolen the supplies but not wanting to confirm that and have to do something about it, Zarek just asked, “Where you followed back?”  Torsten stated that he was fairly certain they had not been followed back.  Leaving it at that, the Delvers settled in.  During the meal that followed, the Delvers talked a bit about the things they had found and fought that day.

Yggsday, October 19th, 1st year of the reign of King Vladik the Gamesman
The Delvers rose early the next morning and packed up.  When asked, Torsten requested they bring back a hammer, some nails, and maybe some lumber so he and his men could start patching holes in the roof and maybe make the goat pen a little more secure or build a chicken coop.  The Delvers agreed to look into getting those items.  There was a side conversation between Jala and Vorgand about bringing the torchbearers into Little Wytheford and putting them up in an inn.  Vorgand wasn’t certain they weren’t wanted in Little Wytheford and didn’t want to chance it, partially because she didn’t want to bring more people to the ruins if they had to replace their torchbearers, but mostly so the guild would not be associated with bandit activity.

The Delvers arrived in Little Wytheford before Noon and stabled their horses at the farriers again.  They purchased lunch from some street vendors and caught the Noon ferry back to Aegea.  Back in Aegea they dispersed to pursue their various researches and attend classes.

End of Session

[I assigned experience points for this expedition.  I had planned to turn things over to the Other GM at this point as I need to concentrate on some other personal projects, but the players wanted to keep playing this campaign now, not later, so I agreed to run another session/expedition.  The players wanted to explore the gate location with the dead plants and black sky, so I need to flesh out the notes for that location some more.  Next session will probably be about half in town and half travel to the ruins and the start of exploration.]

[About Hefhauer.  He was a military elf trained as a commando, so he was more points than the PCs and had a variety of skills that helped him escape.  It is not likely that he will show back up...unless the PCs start exploring the gate system extensively.]

Delvers Guild
Session A, Character Creation Part 1
Session B, Character Creation Part 2
Session 01
Session 02
Session 03, Part 1
Session 03, Part 2
Session 04
Session 05
Session 06
Session 07

Session 09

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