One thing I’ve learned recently: When Halloween is on a Friday, and a large number of your players are on the younger side, don’t expect a high turnout for game day the following Saturday!
Two stalwarts joined me at the Reaper Game Store on Saturday 11/01: Dallas, with Barlyn (Dwarf CLC) and Anallia (Elf CLC/RGR); and Don, with Barton (Half-elf M-U/THF).
Although the larger group had been tentatively planning to push on to the archipelago known as the Five Sisters in search of another base of the Red Flag Pirates, the abbreviated group didn’t feel they had enough numbers for something that ambitious. Especially when, while attempting to gather rumors, Barton learned that one of the islands is constantly overcast by dark clouds, leading to speculations that there may be more afoot there than mere pirates.
Another rumor Barton discovered was that the trade of iron, steel, and finished steel goods from Tolepur (2 days’ journey away from Kajalla along the coast) had dropped to almost nothing. This would seem to be a more reasonable avenue for them to pursue inquiries.
While Barton was seeking out rumors of things, Barlyn was searching for an acolyte to train in the ways of Pyrros, the fire god. He located a young elf woman called Dawn, who was to join them in the expedition. This might not have been the best expedition for a first level cleric to join…..
We concluded that while the others were engaged in affairs of their own in Kajalla, they would probably permit Barton and Barlyn to use their ships’ hold capacity to haul some trade goods to Tolepur, and so they did. Once they arrived in Tolepur, the group set about attempting to determine why the shipments had dried up. They quickly learned that the iron supply from the nearby village of Ferrara seemed to have stopped coming in, and so off to Ferrara went the group.
Upon arriving, they learned that the nearby iron mine had recently opened a new tunnel, which had led into tunnels that were already there, and that the first set of miners to enter had died mysteriously. A second group, sent in to find out what had happened to the first group, had lost all but one member. Barlyn went to visit the one survivor, whom he found to be deathly ill lying in his bed, with a wife not knowing what to do for him. Barlyn used a Cure Disease spell successfully, and this dwarf began to recover. His tale was that they had gone into the mine searching for the other miners, or at least for their remains, but were set upon by creatures which struck mighty blows, killing his three companions. The survivor ran fast enough to escape, but was extremely sick by the time he returned to the village. The only other thing he knew was that one of his dying companions’ last words had been “Beware of the toad……”
Into the mines the group went, fully expecting to face what they were to find, which was, of course, undead walking around covered in strips of linen cloth. Undead capable of causing a fatal disease with a touch, and of inflicting fear on any who saw them. Barlyn turned the first one they found away almost effortlessly, and then the four adventurers were in hot pursuit. When they caught up to the mummy it had found a friend, and the fear power caused Dawn to flee, screaming, back into the “safe” part of the mine. Sadly, Barlyn, despite his years of experience (and points of experience) joined her. Battle ensued, in which both Barton and Anallia were stricken with the disease, but rather than try to cure it immediately, they fetched Dawn back and continued to explore the mine.
They encountered more mummies, and again Dawn fled, but this time Barlyn remained stalwart. These mummies succumbed easily. They fetched Dawn back again and continued. Finally, the group encountered a lovely ambush with three mummies coming from three directions, and after fleeing once Dawn managed to put her fear back under control and come back to fire arrows at the enemy, though without a great deal of success. In the interim, the other three characters were able to take the remaining mummies down without much difficulty. Then they saw the Toad.
It wasn’t really a toad. It was more of a large humanoid with a toad-shaped head. (Type II demon). The battle to slay it really wasn’t much in doubt, and with the demon dead they continued to explore the tunnels. (They also observed that there were piles of raw iron ore in the chamber where the demon had been.) Shortly thereafter they found what appeared to be a midden, and began searching it when they found — an otyugh. This nasty creature succumbed without managing to make any other characters diseased, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Shortly after the midden pile where the otyugh had laired they found an exit; it worked out to being several miles away from the known entrance. Here there was another midden; it appeared that some sort of carnivore might lair here, but no one was home. Yet they had a distinct feeling of being watched. This feeling was accurate, as they found tracks of several creatures, one type identified immediately as trolls (the group is certainly familiar enough with them) and another Anallia was unable to identify. They followed the unidentified tracks through the jungle until they came upon a lizard man who would rather talk than fight. Fortunately, Barton had a tongues spell available. The lizard man told them that his tribe had moved to a nearby village some 10 years previously, after their original village was destroyed by fire from the sky. He also had some pithy observations about trolls hunting out all the game.
The group then offered to take care of the troll problem in exchange for some guidance, which Vasily (the lizard man’s name) was happy to offer. After he saw the group’s method of handling the trolls (this was truly sick — only one troll managed to save versus both the Web and the Wyvern Watch, and one Lightning Bolt from the Staff of Lightning pretty well did for him. The battle was over before it really began, and the trolls were part of a happy bonfire.) he was extremely happy to remain friendly with them.
Vasily guided the group to the old village site, where they found plenty of evidence that yes, it really had been destroyed by fire from the sky, since all the surviving wooden support poles were burned to a crisp at the top but more intact the lower one got. Of course, the piece de resistance was the large red scale that Dawn found in the dirt near where something had carried off one of the older lizard men…….
Finally, they returned to the mine to search for the bodies of the previous explorers. They found them, sadly quite dead (and interestingly, covered in strips of cloth) in a side room they hadn’t explored the first time. Deciding that it would not be worthwhile, and might well be dangerous, to carry the bodies out, Barlyn performed funerary rites right there and — of course given three clerics of Pyrros — they burned the bodies.
Returning to the village, they announced their findings, and hired some labor to haul out the ore they had discovered, and returned to Ferrara with a couple of shiploads worth of ore, to take to Kajalla in order to receive highly inflated prices before the cost of iron went back down to normal levels. It may not sound like a great deal of “treasure,” but they profited by several thousand gold pieces due to the timing of it.
Questions abound though. Why was there a demon in an iron mine? Why were there unmined tunnels in it? What destroyed the lizard man village? Why is one of the Five Sisters constantly obscured by clouds? And will the others still be hung over when the next adventure begins, giving their foes an unfair advantage?