Saturday, January 4, 2014

"The Kobold's Greeting" Chapter 2 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week, we met Valerius, the newly graduated 1st level Fighter and sole survivor of the original group of 0-level grunts who entered the funnel last week.

Valerius recruited a new band of 0-level adventurers from the village of Duirndown. One of the adventurers was a dwarf with a magic key that opened the sealed portal that led to the underground realm of King Duirn below the mountain. The dwarves had to abandon their home quickly over two generations ago so no one quite new what to expect.

They opened the portal and right off the bat triggered a large stone block to fall and crush one of the party, followed by a collection of metal dishes, bells, chains, and other loud noise-making junk. Whoever was waiting knew they were coming.

Falling Block Trap: Intelligence check vs. 15 to spot either of the two triggers under a paving stones just inside the threshold of the entrance. Reflex save vs. 10 to avoid. Failure: 1d6 damage and junk clattered to floor.

Beyond the portal was a twenty foot wide stairway with ramps on either side for wagons leading down into the darkness. Walls of rubble and stones were piled up like small walls to slow movement and provide cover to defenders within. The group was soon ambushed by kobolds emerging from blocks moved aside in the walls. The kobolds opened fire with small crossbows. I think the kobolds took out two grunts. The kobolds were hard to get to in their fighty holes and behind their cover. They were -2 to attack.

After the kobolds were defeated, they continued down, only to encounter a giant rolling boulder dropped from the ceiling, ala Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Boulder Trap: Intelligence check vs. 10 to notice the large hole in the ceiling. Once it was set off, make a Reflex save vs. 10. Success, you were uphill. Failure, you were downhill. To outrun it, you had to keep making Reflex saves vs. 5 each round. If you failed, you'd take 2d8 damage. Once someone rolled 15+ on their Reflex save, they made it into the room and the boulder slammed shut behind you.

Four characters hesitated and had to outrun the boulder while the rest were able to move up-hill from it. Two grunts were crushed by the boulder. The other two outran it and made it into a large chamber with a well in the center.

The chamber was supported by three columns. The fourth column had collapsed with part of the ceiling, burying one corner of the chamber in debris. The main passage continued down out of the far wall and two doors lined the walls to each side. A swarm of rats started pouring out of the well.

The characters trapped outside the boulder soon found a secret sally port. After detecting and setting off the kobold trap, they used it to enter the room and help fight the rats. I treated the rats like an amorphous swarm. There were 12 squares of rats that could take on any configuration, attacking anyone adjacent to it. They finally threw a flask of oil on the rats and burned them to death.

Searching down the well, they found a secret passage about 45 feet down. The passage led to an iron vault door with a combination lock: 16 brass buttons arranged in a square. The correct buttons had to be pressed in the correct sequence else you would receive a deadly electric shock.

Vault Door Trap: it is essentially impossible to guess the code. With the code, it was still 50% chance of being wrong. If you guessed wrong, make a Fort save vs. 10. If you failed, you took 1d6 damage.

They left it alone and continued searching. Behind the first door, they found a room with a desk and papers scattered about. Hidden in a secret compartment in the desk was a notebook listing the locations of all the secret vaults in the realm and their combinations. Not how to find them, mind you, just a label and a combination. Unfortunately, the books aid "Vault in Well #1: 3167. Vault in Well #2: 08316". They had a 50/50 chance. They chose poorly and one of the halflings died. The second combo worked, of course.

Inside the vault they found a strong box with 120 silver, a magnificent dagger (possibly magical), and several old books.

By this time, the hoots and taunts of hundreds of massed kobolds could be heard beyond the barricades of the far passage, indicating its relative danger.

Opening the next door, they found an empty store-room. A rotted door on the far wall led to a room filled with offal. Holes in the ceiling were dug by kobolds and used to deposit their filth. Dwarven remains could be seen within the offal. As they approached to investigate, they discovered a hideous red slime covering the piles of excrement. The putrescent slime slithered and oozed towards the party, throwing forth sticky psuedopods. One of the dwarf grunts attacked it only to discover his hammer dissolved by the slime. He was quickly enveloped and dissolved, dropping his torch when went out. On top of that, the remains of the dwarf came to life as a hideous zombie.

They fought a retrograde battle out of the room only to discover three more dwarf zombies emerging from the rubble in the corner. The ensuing battle took out a few more grunts. At one point, the gong farmer used the only remaining torch as a weapon, causing it to go out. The party was plunged into darkness.

Everyone suffered -8 to attack. Those trying to fire ranged attacks blind had a very strong chance of striking their allies. Which they did. Several times. Poor Valerius took the brunt of his own party's damage. Eventually they defeated the zombies and drove the slime back into its den after it failed its morale.

They recovered their torches and discovered that the dwarf zombies carried a total of 17 gold on them.

At this point, there was only Valerius and 3 grunts: a gong farmer, an ostermonger, and an elven sage. The grunts levelled, resulting in a cleric, a thief (maybe?), and an.. elf. They decided to exit the dungeon to tally their loot and re-equip.

I like the idea of the mega-dungeon near town. They can keep exploring it all they want, possibly clearing areas and slowly re-establishing control, like Castle Greyhawk of old. They did not try to establish a foothold this time, but they're thinking about it.

The great thing, for me, was that I completely ad-libbed tonights adventure. I kind of had an idea of what the corridors and rooms would look like, and I quickly wrote down some monsters I wanted to use: kobolds, rat swarm, giant rats, giant snake, wolves, ooze, skeletons, and zombies, plus a few traps. They I just made it up as went along. I need to draw this part of the map before I forget it, then go ahead and draw the next levels of the dungeon.

I can't wait to see what they do next week. It's a sand box so its totally up to them. I gave them several adventure hooks this week to see what they'd do, and they chose the abandoned dwarven city. They're already talking about hiring some 0-level henchmen.

I'm really digging the OSR!