Sister Linkat and Perceval needed a few days to recover from their latest ordeal. Word of their success against The Evil Wizard, White Eyes, had started to spread to some of the more distant logging camps, and even further to some of the other nearby villages undoubtedly spared from terrible fates by their heroic actions.
Perceval, the homegrown hero, spent the time among friends and family, but that brought him little solace. First, Malazar, and now Feldspar, he was the last one standing of the initial group to foray into the dungeon. He vowed that he would finish what they had started.
Sister Linkat's popularity brought her several converts to the worship of the Hedonistic Lumberjack, and she found herself for the next few days giving sermons and tending to the needs of the populace. It was then that she decided to adopt Woodbridge as the base of her ministry. She had fought to protect them twice, so when Perceval approached her about returning to the dungeon, she was glad to go along, if not for her deceased friends, then for the safety of the town.
One evening, as they met, as they always did, in the bar of the Zealous Dagger (which I had mistakenly been calling the Tenacious Dagger) to plan their next delve, they noticed a gritty, surly, bearded fellow buying rounds for some of the other patrons at the bar. He had, from what they observed, come into some money - someone mentioned he was a horse trader of some kind and had sold several of his small herd in town, while another mentioned that he was in fact, a wandering adventurer, sole survivor of a disastrous expedition.
There was some truth to both as it turned out, and when Dleggit, a dwarf with a penchant for adventuring, sat down with Perceval and Sister Linkat, it was an obvious fit; he would join the party and venture with them into the dungeon.
At an adjacent table, a quiet, bearded man listened to their conversation before introducing himself as Lalifax. Formerly known among the Southern villagers as The Drunken Minstrel, he had taken up the study of the arcane arts and was desperate to learn about the underground worlds. He would join them as well.
Finally, the renown of Perceval and Sister Linkat enabled them to finally find a villager willing to enter the mildewy depths (for a guaranteed purse of 10gp to be paid to his family if he should succumb to the evils within the dungeon); Waldu would function as torch bearer, if necessary, and mule handler.
So much for introductions, let us get on with the adventure!
Their goal for this incursion was simple: finish the mapping of this labyrinthine level.
Choosing one of the known entrances closest to the unexplored section, the party cautiously moved through prior explored hallways. The mule took some coaxing at first, but once inside it meandered along with the best of them, thus freeing the party from having to carry all of their supplies.
The halls were surprisingly quiet, but the first room they entered was anything but.
After the party had wholly entered the room, drawn to the doors on the opposite wall, a secret panel in the floor slid quietly back [Rolled Rory's cubes: steps?, shadowy thing, dancing] and two ghouls crawled out to attack the party from behind.
Sister Linkat, who had been bringing up the rear became the focus of their attack. The strength of her armor prevented any injury to her and with that the party joined in the fight.
[Initiative:Party 3, Ghouls 6]
The ghouls were fast and before the party could react, they continued to assault Sister Linkat. The Hedonistic Lumberjack must have been smiling down on her as she fended off their blows.
As if to test that hypothesis, she pulled out her holy symbol in an attempt to turn the dastardly undead monsters. They looked at her quizzically.
Perhaps the Hedonistic Lumberjack wasn't so much smiling as grinning devilishly.
Lalifax ushered Waldu and the mule across the room to safety, while Perceval and Dleggit ineffectually entered combat.
[Initiative: Party 1, Ghouls 6]
With more targets to choose from, the ghouls changed their approach and decided to attack the obviously strongest, Perceval. He easily defended against the first, but the second is ferocious, ripping its claws across his face before sinking its penetrating daggers deeply into his shoulder, through his armor!
[9 points of damage and he failed his save vs. Paralysis]
Dleggit and Sister Linkat both crashed into the ghouls dealing damage as they did so. The tide was definitely shifting.
[Initiative: Party 5, Ghouls 2]
From his position, Lalifax could just get a clear shot to hurl a dagger at the ghoul attacking Sister Linkat, but if he missed he would most definitely risk hitting her.
[To test this, I checked first to see if he had a shot using a new method I found online called the "Enquiry Table." It uses 2d6, plus an adjective to determine the likelihood of the result and then gives the result as either "No and", "No", "No but", "Yes but", "Yes", or "Yes and."
I decided it was a "long shot" and rolled a 5, 6 which is "Yes but" and decided if he missed he would automatically hit Sister Linkat for full damage.]
The dagger left his hand with deadly accuracy and caught the ghoul in its side. It let out an angry howl.
Dleggit continued to pound on the ghoul that had attacked Perceval. Each blow from his mighty war hammer sent shockwaves through the ghoul's body.
Sister Linkat swung her mace to crush the skull of her ghoul and it dropped in a heap.
[test morale of surviving ghoul: morale is 9, I rolled a 10.]
The remaining ghoul, seeing he was beaten, fled the room, out the door the party had come in through, hissing and snarling as he went.
As Sister Linkat cast Cure Light Wounds to heal Perceval [3 lousy points. Seriously, what does it take to please the Hedonistic Lumberjack?] (who was still paralyzed), Dleggit and Lalifax searched for treasure in the room and the hiding place from which the ghouls had sprung.
[I rolled to see if they had treasure and they did, which surprised me given how sparse it has been.
Rolling in the D30 DM Companion, I found that they had 6500 copper, 2 gems and 4 pieces of jewelery. The copper in a large cabinet, and the gems and jewelry in a ceramic urn. Both were hidden, but not trapped.
To find the treasure, the party had to roll for secret doors, once each per party member for the cabinet, and then again for the urn.]
Dleggit demonstrated his superior knowledge about all things underground and various construction techniques for such by finding both a hidden cabinet and a ceramic urn hidden in a cubby in the ghoul's hiding spot. The cabinet contained an enormous pile of copper plates, goblets and serving platters ,while the latter contained some gems and jewels [worth 1665 gp total].
The party loaded the mule with the treasure and waited anxiously for Perceval to recover from his paralysis. Once he had recovered they continued their exploration wherein Dleggit found not 1 but 2 secret doors. The dwarf had proven his worth. They also found another exit which would be beneficial later.
Unfortunately, they also failed to detect a pit trap and Lalifax fell 10' to a hard stone floor and to his death. With the mule along ,they opted to retrieve his body and carry it to the surface, but not before they completed their objective.
The final discovery was a set of stairs up.
Down those very stairs came a party of four heavily armed dwarves, bearing a litter on their shoulders and on the litter, a large ornate box. [wandering encounter,4 dwarves, rolled Rory's cubes for more info: ray gun, giving a present, and I failed to note what the third one was]
Dleggit, being a dwarf himself, was the natural spokesperson for the party, but his greetings were met only with a solemn nod, and the dwarven litter bearers continued past.
At this, the party opted to exit the dungeon, their mission complete and treasure in need of conversion to coin, never mind the all too common occurrence of having to carry a dead comrade out of the dungeon for a proper funeral pyre.
When it came time to play last night, I wasn't feeling very motivated. I had just put the baby down for the night and the music we play for him almost always triggers a Pavlovian-type response in me: I become incredibly sleepy.
Still, once I sorted out the character sheets, copied Dleggit's info, and rolled up Lalifax, I was excited. The final mapping of the first level - something that has taken, well, I have no idea exactly,but a long time - was in reach!
That's the only reason the party didn't exit the dungeon immediately after Lalifax went to that big Hogwarts in the sky, they wanted to complete this mission.
And now I can't wait to send them back in, although, I may spend next week's session time converting the 1st level map into something I can share here.
Also, I think I need to make some of the stairs go up or down several levels for that Jaquay-ian type dungeon experience. Not sure how I'll approach that just yet.
In any case, I have some options for the next dungeon invasion:
Level A (the level above level 1) has been barely explored although part of that is the goblin lair which has proven deadly every time I've even tried to make in-roads.
The 2nd level remains untouched, but given the party's average level is 1.6 (and will be 1.5 when I roll up the next PC), I'm likely to try and make some headway into level A through some of the other steps up.
I'm not sure where in the dungeon the dwarves live, but, given a mural found earlier, they have an observatory at the very top of the rocky ridge that houses the above ground levels of the dungeon, perhaps they'll find some more clues on level A.