Six gamers met with me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday 10/18, and we almost had two more, but the two newcomers elected to join another game, which was less crowded. (Hey, we’re all friends here, so everyone was perfectly happy.) Derek returned after a brief hiatus to play Gerhardt (human PAL); Steven was present to run Alex (half-elf FTR/Acrobat) and Cain (human M-U)l; Matt returned with Darthos (elf FTR) and his brother Dathos (elf THF); Dallas was present with Barlyn (dwarf CLC) and Anallia (half-elf CLC/RGR); Don returned with Barton (half-elf M-U/THF) and Ray was with us once more with Vorrk (human MNK).
The band had recently defeated a large number of troglodytes (some 72 plus some leader types) using effective tactics and terrain, and had discovered a chute leading down deeper into the caves. Having determined that the drop was nearly 100 feet. they tied some ropes together and began going down one at a time, with Alex in the lead.
When Alex hit the bottom he was immediately set upon by several ghouls, and by one extremely tall (roughly six-foot-ten) undead elf. The elf shouted “Don’t say the words!” as he slowly moved up to join the attack, and in the first blow he received Alex was paralyzed! Fortunately, Anallia and Darthos reached the bottom quickly, and were soon followed by the rest. Although Anallia also got paralyzed (she is perhaps known for taking it on the chin) the band was able to dispatch the ghouls without much more trouble. In addition, with Barton landing on top of and tackling the tall undead elf, he was slain without much additional difficulty, although as he was carrying an enormous two-handed scimitar (no one had ever seen such a weapon before).
Before being dispatched he repeated the following strange battle cry: “Don’t say the words! Don’t say SNEW! Don’t say EFWA!” Over and over he repeated those three shouts before going down.
The group found itself in a large circular room with corridors leading out in all four primary directions. A bit of exploration discovered that at the end of each corridor was an arch, with dressed stone directly behind it, and mysterious symbols carved across the top. In addition, to their right as they faced the arch appeared another arch, with similar dressed stone directly behind it, and different sigils on it. The pattern was repeated in all four corridors.
The group met in the middle and attempted to puzzle out what was going on… Eventually, Darthos went to the arch at the end of the eastern corridor and said “EFWA!” to which nothing happened. Then he said “SNEW!” The stone slid into the ground, revealing a small circular room with what appeared to be a well in the center. Looking into the well he saw smoke and vapor as far as he could see into it. When he dropped a stone into it he never heard it hit the bottom. He then went to the door on the side of the western corridor and said “EFWA!” (it should be noted that the symbols on the door on the side of the western corridor matched those on the end of the eastern, and vice versa. The north and south corridors were similarly symmetrical.) When he shouted, an air elemental flew out of the small chamber behind the stone, threw Darthos into the wall, and moved quickly and directly toward the eastern corridor. Alex attacked it, rolled a critical hit, and had no effect. Cain hit it with magic missiles and received a blow for his trouble. Eventually, everyone else got out of the way and the elemental went into the well and vanished.
Darthos then proceeded to open the door on the side of the south corridor, and was attacked by an earth elemental. Fortunately for the group, earth elementals are slow and ponderous, so they were able at this point to open the doors on the ends of the other three corridors before opening the doors on the sides, which freed a water and a fire elemental. All four went to their respective wells and vanished.
[As a side note, I was definitely off my game somewhat this time, as we were getting far too much confusion regarding who was going east — no, west! — and so forth.]
At this point the group managed to read all the additional dwarven runes carved into the wells themselves, which indicated “do not keep longer than fifteen days.” They then took some time to decide that if they were to summon elementals using the same words, in the correct order, possibly something good would happen. They did so summoning them using “South — North — East — West” (SNEW) and the new elementals — those who hadn’t been trapped for two thousand years and driven mad — went to the side rooms and prepared to do…..something.
At this point the group was on the horns of another dilemma, until the realized that to the north of the main troglodyte cave had been a passageway obstructed by rubble from a cave-in. They ordered the earth elemental to clear the rubble, which it did, and then returned to its place. (They wanted to see if the elementals would fight for them, but one of them replied in no uncertain terms that they would not.) So the group gingerly entered a large cavern covered in excellent dwarven dressed stone, with a stone throne in the center. Of course, it wasn’t empty….
A group of some six undead creatures advanced to attack them but was turned immediately by Barlyn. The group advanced farther into the room, with Vorrk and Dathos racing to see which of them could reach the throne first and try sitting on it! Vorrk won the race, Barlyn rolled his eyes, and someone made a gentle suggestion that since it was a dwarf place maybe Barlyn should sit on the throne. This was when the four incorporeal undead creatures attacked! They hit Darthos, Alex, and Dathos, but all of them managed to avoid having energy drained (I allow a saving throw rather than automatic level draining) and then Anallia turned…two of them. Barlyn rushed to the rescue, and turned the rest, whereupon Cain put a fireball into the middle of the wraiths — and didn’t kill any of them. However, a lightning bolt later the wraiths were dead, and the group was hacking away at the six remaining undead. This was where Dathos almost lost a level of his own; the group didn’t realize they were fighting wights! Fortunately, Gerhardt managed to skewer a couple of them with his trident, and soon the wights were no more.
At this point what remained was a riddle written upon one wall:
I am a hard subject.
I make no light, but shine anyway.
To know me anyone must pay.
A rhombus is me, but I am not it.
If you hear the clues and use your wit
You may reap a wondrous benefit.
I am a hard subject.
Once the group figured out the correct answer (it’s really not that difficult) they were able to use their remaining oil of sharpness and oil of impact to enchant a longsword to +2 for Gerhardt (who now has a +1 trident and a +2 longsword) and a shield of Barlyn’s to +1 defense and +1 to attack with the spike in its boss. At this point the rest of the group thoroughly looted the place, coming out with a significant amount of pecuniary treasure.
Barlyn, though, was disappointed that he had not found the sacred hammer he thought would be there. He sat in the throne and put his own warhammer in the empty stone rack to his right. When he did so, he froze and had a vision: He saw the dwarven temple at its height, with great beauty and harmony, and he saw it attacked by elves and orcs. He saw one elf — an unusually tall one — take the sacred hammer and throw it to another elf at the entrance, an elf who fled immediately. Then he saw the elves and orcs and dwarves slaughter each other.
At this point he knows he has been someplace the hammer has been, and to which it needs to return. The group, however, determined that they needed to return to Kajalla, in part for training and in part to upgrade Darthos’ ship. They plan to seek out the pirate base in the Five Sisters islands next.