A Sundered World: Grimlock Cave, Part 1

  • Dymlos (level 1 human monk/level 3 spellsword)
  • Miyoshi (level 4 nekobito shaman)
  • Severus (level 4 human battlemind)
  • Yao Lao (level 4 human monk)

Session Highlights
The party is approached by a dwarf. He's from a fairly small clan that found an island four cycles (term we're using for days in A Sundered World) away filled with iron and silver.

Problem is when they were surveying one of the caves something attacked them, and he's the only one from the team that managed to escape. He doesn't know much, except that the cave was filled with mist, and whatever attacked didn't seem to need any light at all.

He can't afford to pay them (especially after losing a dozen or so clansmen), but promises to give them half of whatever profits come from mining the island once things get going.

The party agrees and he transports them there: his ship is more like a huge, hollowed out crossbow bolt that is fired from a suitably sized launching ballista. Once it starts to lose speed he wakes up a bound wind spirit and unfurls a series of sails: using a complex system of ropes, pulleys, and wind gusts he's able to better control the vessel.

They arrive at the island without incident. The whole thing looks like a jagged stone flower, surrounded by a thin field of scattered stone fragments. The dwarf stops several hundred feet away from the cave opening they went into, stating that he'll wait outside for a few cycles before assuming the worst and heading back.

The height and width of the tunnels vary between cramped to somewhat spacious. They soon discover a gruesome display of humanoid remains dangling from a crude frame. Possibly placed as a warning. Miyoshi examines it and determines that there aren't any bound spirits. None of them can detect magic, and after much discussion Dymlos just walks up and stabs it to see what happens.

The good news is that it collapses without directly harming anyone, the bad news is that it makes plenty of noise as bones clatter to the ground and the skull rolls over to Yao. So maybe an alarm.

They wait, but hear and see nothing. Miyoshi suggests having her spirit scout the place out, but her spirit, a mouse, understandably doesn't want to. Unsure whether it can even be touched Dymlos tries picking it up, but it scampers about evading him. Despite the spectacle, Miyoshi and Yao spot a humanoid figure emerge from the mist behind Severus, and despite its elongated limbs, fur-covered body, and claws its most striking feature is its face: instead of eyes and a nose, there's just a massive, empty socket.

Before anyone can act it smacks Severus in the back of the head with a crude club. Yao interposes himself between the creature and Severus, striking it twice in rapid succession, and Miyoshi follows up with a powerful cat spirit, knocking the creature to the ground and tearing its throat out. While examining the creature, four more emerge from the mist, two from each passage; even with the element of surprise the party finishes them off without taking much damage.

There are only two ways to go; they pick one at random, since two of the creatures came from both directions, meaning the passages will probably link up at some point, anyway. They quickly come to a four-way intersection. This time they notice that the mist is thicker from one direction, so they head that way and discover the source of the mist.

It looks like a thick wooden pole, wrapped with rotting fish skin, teeth, and bones. Miyoshi senses a water spirit unwillingly bound within, and with the help of her spirit guide seeks out another water spirit to help free the imprisoned one. The process takes time, during which she is unable to sense anything going on around her.

The rest of the party keeps watch, and after a few minutes a couple gold coins roll out of the mist, stopping about ten feet away from them. Dwarven in make, so probably taken from the missing team. Severus tries to grab one, but a harpoon shoots out of the mist and impales his arm. The harpoon is attached to a thick rope, but he's able to sever it before being dragged off.

Dymlos hurls a fireshard into the mist, enabling them to briefly see faint silhouettes of the creatures before they flee. Dymlos and Yao charge into the mist, leaving Severus behind to guard Miyoshi (and pocket the coins). Luckily there aren't any side passages (that they could see, anyway), and they emerge into a large, open chamber. Here the mist doesn't reach very high: on the ceiling they spot a pair of dire bats, as well as a pair of the creatures climbing up onto their backs.

Once mounted the dire bats swoop down upon them, but Dymlos is waiting and blasts them all with a cone of flame, and Yao manages to kick one off of his dire bat, killing it. He then hops on it in hopes of at least making it harder for the bat to bite him, but finds that the dire bats are trained for riders and it just obeys him.

While trying to figure out how to make it do what it wants, after a few random kicks, ear tugs, and commands he ends up urging it to eat the creature riding the other dire bat. Dymlos is then able to get the other bat to calm down by feeding it some meat, and they both return to Severus and Miyoshi on their newly acquired mounts.

Meanwhile, Miyoshi manages to free the bound spirit, causing the gruesome totem to stop spewing mist, making it much easier for them to navigate the cave.

Design & Development
The "creatures" are grimlocks. At least how I'd do them.

Every monster was either 2nd- or 3rd-level, partially because I wanted to see how challenging a bunch of lower-level monsters is against a higher-level party, partially because I didn't want t artificially inflate the levels just to make things "balanced".

Not sure how well that worked out because my rolls were shit, and I don't mean missing by only 1 or 2 points: a lot of the time I was rolling like 6's and 8's. Ah, well, that's just the way the d20 lands sometimes. I did at least clobber the battlemind a few times.

Since this was a pretty short session, we didn't get much playtesting data for the battlemind, monk, spellsword, and shaman classes. But so far monk seems pretty badass (as it was in the goblin playtest), and the shaman was useful in that she was able to detect and deal with a spirit. Should note that the shaman isn't available yet, but the nekobito is in the latest Appendix D issue.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

If you want more adventures, we just released Escape From the Flesh Catacombs: a bunch of 0-level characters need to escape from the catacomb-lair of a gorgon that was slain, causing everything she's petrified to revert to flesh and rise as undead.

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Ranger, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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