Monday, June 16, 2014

"The Under-City of the Rat-King!" Chapter 19 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week, the party fights a lot of Rat-Men, Valerius says "NOPE!" to a metal-eating grey ooze, some Carrion Crawlers almost make off with Absolom, Biscuit almost bites it from a Gelatinous Cube, and the party brings the pain to some Rat-Ogres!

Our party:

Player Characters
  • Ser Valerius, Protector of Justica (Level 3 Human Paladin)
  • Absolom, Priest of Justica (Level 3 Human Cleric)
  • Jalani, Priestess of Amun-Tor (Level 3 Human Cleric)
  • Gwen, Warrior (Level 2 Elf Fighter)
  • Biscuit, Rogue/Prestidigitator (Level 1 Gnome Thief/Illusionist)
  • Thaddeus, Runner (Level 1 Human Ranger)
Henchmen
  • Babu the Evoker (Level 2 Human Magic User)
  • Knott the Warrior (Level 2 Human Fighter)
  • Brown Tom the Veteran (Level 1 Human Fighter, Squire of Valerius)
Hirelings
  • Clench (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Squat (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Push (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • "War Dog" (Valerius' War Dog)

Left back in town
  • Favreau (Human Cook, Paula's spouse)
  • Paula (Human Cook, Favreau's spouse)
  • Donkey and Cart for Favreau and Paula's supplies
When we last left our party, they had taken on a job from the Path of Fear and Thunder, the thieves' guild of Swallow, and had discovered the secret parts of the sewer ruled by the Rat-Men. Knott was benched in the first fight so he limped back through the sewer to the surface. 

The Rat Patrol
After resting and taking stock of their options, the party explored the room they discovered. A large pool filled with thick grey liquid occupied the center of the room. The passage to the east was blocked up with rocks and debris but a small gap allowed observation. Through the gap Valerius espied what appeared to be the lair of a rat-man chieftain and his attendants. Babu took a look but was spotted. The gap was sealed up with additional stones. The party took a passage that led that direction.

As they entered the passage, they were met by a patrol of rat-men. The rat-men were taken completely by surprise and the party rushed into combat. Most of the archers, however, were forced to re-string their bows after their wet bow-strings broke. 

As the party pushed forward, a grey protoplasmic mass heaved itself from the pool in the room they left. As the ooze advanced, the party in the rear retreated. Once re-strung, the archers turned their arrows towards the grey ooze. Thaddeus charged the slime with his sword, killing it. The mass of the grey ooze, however, dissolved the sword, rending it useless. Luckily, the ooze was dead and drained away through the grate at the bottom of the pool, revealing a pile of gold and silver coins. 

The rat patrol, however, was quickly decimated. 

The Hoard of the Sub-Chief
The party advanced around the corner and encountered the forces of the sub-chief. Babu cast a sleep spell and knocked out most of the opponents. The rest were quickly dispatched. A lone survivor ran to open the gate to what appeared to be a barred prison cell. For his trouble, he was killed with arrows. 

The party shined their bulls-eye lanthorn into the prison chamber, showing stacked wooden crates and piles of stolen items stored like a warehouse. In the center of the room was a circle formed of iron rings hammered into the floor. Bones and body parts lay chained in the center of the circle. As they shined the lanthorn around, a large form skittered into the shadows behind the corner where the lanthorn could not reach. 

Valerius and Absolom cautiously entered the large cell and checked out the body. On the arms of the body were two forearm bracers of ancient manufacture. Prodding the body caused rot grubs to scurry harmlessly away.

The Crawling Horror
Suddenly, from the shadows emerged a large centipede-like creature the size of a bear. Eight writhing tentacles waved in front of its gruesome melon-sized head. It moved with surprising speed as it charged Absolom, attacking him with its tentacles. Absolom became immobilized as if overcome by some form of paralysis. Valerius backed away cautiously. The archers feared opening fire on the beast for the danger of hitting Absolom. As the giant insect began to drag Absolom back into the shadows, Valerius bravely rushed back in and engaged the creature. A few lucky arrow shots and the deadly sword of Valerius quickly felled the invertebrate horror before it could drag Absalom to his doom.

A Hideous Carrion Crawler!
The repositioned lanthorn revealed a second tentacled monstrosity was revealed in the shadows. The archers moved around for a different angle and soon killed the other creature.

Believing the warehouse secure, Biscuit set about opening the locked chest located in the back corner of the cell. He managed to unlock the chest but, as he did so, he was set upon by a large cube of clear gelatinous material that emerged from a dark passage in the back of the cell. Biscuit was immediately knocked unconscious and absorbed into the giant transparent cube. The rest of the party unleashed a deadly torrent of arrows against the beast, causing it to burst. The incapacitated Biscuit was deposited onto the stone floor with the semi-liquid mass of the dead creature, along with various bits of coin and other treasure. 

The team gathered all their treasure and withdrew to the chamber of the grey ooze to rest and re-group. Biscuit lay in a coma and Absolom remained paralyzed for nearly an hour. After an hour, Biscuit decided to take his chances following the party rather than limp back to the surface by himself. With that, the party chose one of the six exits they had found and set off into the darkness.
The Course of the Party's Exploration of the Sewers Below Swallow 
The Source of Foul Effluence
All My Rat-Men
After searching the sewers for an hour, the party found a passage from which loud squeaks, and the occasional heavy "SQUONK!" could be heard. Preparing for battle, Valerius consumed a potion of giant strength and charged down the passage, followed by his companions.

They were met by two cataphracts mounted on giant rats and over a dozen rat-men warriors. The chamber ahead was a confluence of three large pipes emitting foul effluence from the city above, forming the shape of a cross. Each channel could be crossed by a crudely fashioned wooden bridge. At the confluence of the passages were more rat-men: the Rat-King, the shaman of the rat-men, an assistant carrying a medium-sized gong, a rat-man carrying a bladed whip, and four rat-men bodyguards. 

As the party fought against the mounted rat-men The rat-man carrying the whip called forth two giant ogre-sized rat-men, which he led with the lash of his whip. The rest of the rat-men "nobility" hid behind the corners to avoid bow fire.

The first line of defense was soon overcome, though Gwen was incapacitated by a rat-ogre. The rest of the party advanced. 

As the party battled the bodyguards and additional rat-men soldiers, the gong-bearer began beating the gong. Suddenly, a mass of twenty giant rats emerged from the nearby pipe. Babu quickly responded, throwing one of the vials of Stinking Cloud powder into the mass of the rat-men, incapacitating several rat-men and the entire mass of giant rats. Absolom quickly followed up by pouring oil over the rats and setting them ablaze. 
The Shaman, his Assistant, and the Gong-Master
The rat-king, wielding a flaming sword, and his bodyguards ran down the opposite side of the passage and successfully flanked the party to attack its rear, but it was too late. The shaman, the rat-king, and the bodyguards were all killed after a fierce melee. Two surviving rat-men fled by diving into the sewage and swimming away. 

In the end, the party recovered the sword of the rat-king, the gong that summoned the rats, and a chest of treasure tied to a rope and submerged beneath the sewage.

TO BE CONTINUED

Next week, the party will return to Swallow with their loot, identify magic items, level-up, seek out training from superiors, etc.