Posted by : David Guyll April 13, 2014

Cast
  • Augustine (level 1 human paladin)
  • Jaya (level 1 human bard)
  • Mouse (level 1 gnome thief)

The dusky knocked another needle-like arrow in its tiny bow. If it were not for the fact that it had a very keen eye, the arrows were poisoned, and it was trying to kill them all Jaya would have probably proclaimed that it looked absolutely adorable.

Augustine was less distracted by its appearance, which was understandable given that it had almost blinded him, and the spider bites were not doing much to improve his mood. Enraged, he scooped it up and pointed it at the oncoming horde of spiders, demanding that it order them to stop or he would bash its head into the wall.

A sharp pain in his hand caused him to drop it: somehow it had managed to draw a dagger and stab him. In the brief moment it took him to check his wound, the dusky dashed into a nearby tunnel that Augustine was positive had not been there a moment ago. He watched it flee in frustration before remembering the more immediate threat of a big-ass swarm of spiders, but when he looked up all he saw was a...wall?

Well that was something to note, thought Mouse: apparently these wee bastards were both smaller and more devious than himself. No matter, if things got too hairy he could always...ah, the exit had also been replaced with a wall. This left them with two newly revealed, shrouded, equally unappealing passages. On the bright side at least there was nothing immediately (or obviously) trying to kill them. Uncertain where to go, and certain that the duskies would continue to befuddle them with shadows and illusions they left their decision to a coin toss, and left it was.

They crawled until their knees and backs were sore, and then crawled some more until they eventually came across a swiftly flowing underwater stream. They could not see the bottom, and their torch light did not extend far in either direction. Mouse "tested" the depth by tying a section of rope around himself, handing one end to Augustine, and jumping in. It took him a bit to reach the bottom, and they judged the water to be about a dozen or so feet deep.

They would not be able to stand, and none of them would be able to swim against the current for long, which meant that they would be entirely at the mercy of the water. Even so it sounded marginally better than getting gradually picked off in narrow tunnels, so they tied themselves together and hopped in. With no light they had no idea where they were going, how fast they traveled, or what dangers they might be speeding towards.

Like a waterfall.

They fell for just a moment before their rope caught on something. The cascading water prevented them from lighting a torch to get their bearings, so they had no idea how far they had fallen, how far they had to go, or if there were, say, sharp jagged rocks waiting for them. Left with no other choice than to leave his fate to chance, Mouse sliced his rope. Actually, since he was serving as a kind of counterweight for Augustine and Jaya, it was more accurate to say he was leaving all of their fates to chance.

Their fall was broken by a pool of water that fortunately lacked jagged rocks. Unfortunately Augustine sank like a paladin clad in metal armor, dragging down Jaya as he went. She struggled against his weight, which actually gave him the boost he needed to make it back to the surface just before she lost consciousness. He looked around and spotted a flickering light in the distance, and swam towards it: apparently Mouse had found land.

As he swam closer he realized that it was a platform made of black marble that had been eroded by the water over countless years. There were no noteworthy markings, just a square hallway that extended into darkness. While Jaya recovered Mouse carefully examined the door for any hazards. He found none, but could have sworn that he heard something...roaring. On one hand it sounded far away, but on the other hand it came from inside the structure, which was the only way to go.

Immediately inside they found a closed door. The wood had rotted and the metal rusted from the moisture, which at least meant that even if it were locked or jammed it would be a simple matter to break it down. Mouse wanted to see what was inside, but Augustine recommended exploring the rest of the hall to see what else they could find before they started branching off. Mouse had them wait while he scouted ahead, figuring that by himself it would be easier to avoid being detected by monsters, and harder for his companions to detect any treasure he might stumble upon.

He found the former.

He had pressed himself against one of the walls and slowly slid down its length, hoping to better conceal his silhouette from whatever might be lurking in the darkness. As his eyes better adjusted he saw that he was entering a large room with pillars, perfect for hiding, which was probably precisely what had crossed the mind of whatever was already there. He could not see it, but could both hear and feel its fetid breath. He froze, and it likewise remained still and continued to breath. After a few tense minutes, he learned several things.

The first was that it was quite tall, likely taller than Augustine. It also was fairly sure it could not see him, though Mouse was not sure if this was because it could not see in the dark or it was too careless to look down. Of course it might just be waiting for Mouse to flee before giving chase: you know, dinner and a show. The last was that it was not alone, because he could hear more things moving.

Towards Augustine and Jaya.

As they started down the hall their silhouettes revealed that they were much, much larger than Augustine. Not only several feet taller, but also much broader. They were also hefting makeshift clubs that were probably made out of bits of debris they had managed to tie together. Crude, but still perfectly capable of caving a skull in.

Augustine and Jaya did not seem to notice their approach, probably due to a—fortunately for Mouse—woefully underdeveloped sense of paranoia. Not wanting to give away his position, Mouse tossed a coin into the back corner of the room. The two creatures stopped, and in their own way crept towards the source of the noise. He figured that once they started fumbling about he would make a break, warn his companions, and...well, he was not sure what then. The first step was surviving long enough to get to that point.

Mouse heard a faint grunt, followed by another grunt, and the all to familiar sound of a coin clattering to the ground. It seemed that they had found the coin, much, much faster than anticipated, which meant they could see in the dark. Right, new "plan".

Mouse stabbed the one next to him in what he assumed was its foot.

It howled in pain and fell back, and Mouse used this opportunity to make a break for it. It swung wildly, clipping him with its club, but he quickly recovered and was easily able to outpace them. Augustine and Jaya saw him bolting towards them, followed by the creatures. Before they could say anything he blurted out that there were four of them, but he had just killed one, wounded another, and they were after him.

Augustine checked the door. It was not locked, not that it would have mattered much in its current state, and they dashed inside...and found themselves in a small room. At one point it might have been a guard room or perhaps used for storage, but all that remained was rotting furnishings. Thinking quickly Mouse doused some of his food in goldenroot poison. When he could hear the creatures outside the door he opened it, tossed the food out, and closed it.

He waited a few moments before opening it again, and was dismayed for two reasons. The first was their appearance: now that they were in the light and he was not running from them he could see that they look like men, just bulkier, much hairier, and degenerate, as if their faces had been smashed ten too many times and jumbled about before healing. The other was that only one was noisily chewing. The other two turned to glare at Mouse, made all the worse due to their gruesome appearance, and at the same time tried to force their through the opening.

Mouse hopped back and Augustine stepped in, viciously slashing at one and severing its head almost completely. The other one howled with rage, surging into the room and attempting to crush Augustine with its club. While Mouse tried to find an opening, Jaya noticed that though the third had finished eating it continued to stand there, staring at her with a...strange expression. That would be Mouse's poison kicking in. She cried out for help, pointing at the other creature before pretending to faint.

At this it picked up its club and struck the other one in the back of the head, killing it instantly. It then glowered at Mouse and Augustine, who waited for it to make a move. However rather than attack them it seized Jaya roughly by the arm and dragged her off. Mouse looked to Augustine, then to Jaya, then back at Augustine, making a kind of half-shrug, half-stabbing motion, as if to say, "Well, do you want me to stop it or what?"

Jaya and Augustine both talked Mouse down, rationalizing that it might be able to lead them somewhere. Mouse could not think of a single thing that it could lead them to that would actually be of any use, and his assumptions were confirmed when it took Jaya up a flight of stairs, into a room packed with more of them, slamming and barring the door behind it: apparently he was taking Jaya to meet the "family", and look into maybe adding a much-needed branch to their tree.

It started whatever amounted to its courtship ritual by introducing her to its confused kin, and offering Jaya a bowl of fetid fish soup. The odors that saturated the room were thick enough for her to taste, yet somehow the fish managed to stand out among them all, and it was all she could do to choke back both the soup and vomiting whatever she had eaten earlier that day (which might have been an improvement).

Just when she thought things could not get any worse, a much larger creature rose from a pile of animal hides. It lurched towards her, dragging a massive hammer behind it. Judging by its size and the fact that the hammer looked like a hammer, she pegged it as their leader. She also assumed the hammer was for her, being an outsider and all, but it just smacked the bowl out of her hand, roughly jabbed her abductor in the face with the hammer, and then effortlessly hauled her towards the pile of skins it had just emerged from.

Meanwhile Augustine and Mouse stood outside the door, arguing intensely about what they should be doing. In a bizarre shift of personalities, Mouse actually wanted to go in blades-blazing while Augustine wanted to just wait and see what happened. It was not until they heard Jaya urgently state that one of them was starting to "get a bit too friendly" that they decided to act.

Mouse used his last dose of poison, hoping that the whole poisoned food bit would again work and better stack the odds. The big guy answered the door, but did not seem interested in his offer. As he tried to close the door Mouse resorted to "plan B", which was basically "throw the dark sphere he had lifted from Killian into the room without discussing with Augustine". He had no idea what it would do when it broke, but desperate times called for mysterious, dangerous magical grenades.

It shattered against the lip of the cauldron, instantly choking the entire room with webbing and entangling everything inside. Mouse watched them as they struggled against their bindings, and when he was confident that they were held fast carefully made his way through the room and slit their throats one by one before freeing Jaya. He then rummaged through the room, finding a cache of arguably edible food and several hundred coins. He also hauled out the hammer, since it still looked to be in remarkably good condition, which meant that there was a fair chance it was magical.

They went back downstairs to the storeroom, cleared out the bodies, and tried to get some sleep. Being trapped in a damp, noisy, dangerous underground ruin had a way of tiring you out.

Behind the Scenes
This campaign really took a turn. We went from dealing with duskies to trolling troglodytes (we learned later that the creatures were troglodytes, which are not much like Dungeons & Dragons troglodytes, which is not a bad thing). I also learned that goldenroot poison has to be ingested. Whoops. Oh well, I still got to use it creatively, though I am now fresh out. At least we will always have Killian.

Speaking of Killian and lessons learned, we also learned what the dark sphere that I found in the first session did: spider-web bomb. Better for Jaya than, say, an...acid bomb. That would have sucked. For her, anyway.

We finally leveled up, in no small part to our misses, making this the second non-playtest campaign where I managed to hit 2nd-level. I suppose I could have taken Brewer to make some more poison, but given we are deep underground and it has to be ingested, Shoot First seemed like it would be more useful. I also got to establish a bond with Melissa's character: Jaya could learn a thing or two from Mouse.

Ben took Setup Strike, which will give one of us bonus damage, and Melissa snagged Metal Hurlant, which will give her more damage-dealing capabilities.

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