Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Night in Skull Mountain: Level Zero

A big gaming night!
As my regular readers (all 4 of them - hi, kids!) know the party is doing a big, big hex crawl mapping expedition and have found - weirdness. Jack, my oldest boy, had been working second shift at a job 40 minutes away. This week he started is new first shift job 1/2 a mile away so we celebrated with Thursday night D&D.
Through a series of events, accidents, and such the party found a hidden door to what they call 'level zero' behind the eyes of Skull Mountain. While Team Thief (all the PC thieves in the campaign) are mapping Team Paladin (led by Clint) decided to examine Level Zero.

It freaked them out!

The night started with Team Paladin bringing 4 months of food and candles to the mountain for the holding force (Team Henchmen), along with a huge amount of tea (to keep morale up). The cartographer had been mapping the North Area and the surrounding mountains. He had gone to the scree slope on the 'back of the skull' (the players have seen it several times but never explored) and saw a crevice going intot he mountain, but approach was too dangerous. They then used a Helm of Languages and a book of lore to temporarily disarm the Glyphs on the door and went in.

Long story short, it was a corporate office block. Bedrooms, sure, but also a large bathroom with modern stalls; a break room with a 'box that heats food' and a 'magic kettle that heats water'; posters of rock stars on the walls. But the images, the mugs, etc. were for people with five fingers, like the Man in Purple....
They also found remote monitoring stations for Remote Stations #1 and #2 and a room called Tactical Control. Almost everything was depowered and shut down, but the main tactical control was on maintenance power, letting them realize that 'tertiary target acquisition' means 'whatever the binoculars on the mountaintop can see'. The system indicated that Remote Station #1 has a "containment breach" in the 'magma power chamber' but is otherwise online.
They also deduced where a secret door should be, found it, opened it, and - 'animated armor' attacked. It was looking grim until Clint showed the access card he found on level two, when the 'animated armor' announced 'clearance level recognized'.
They found out that the armor, Security Unit 9, would only allow people with Black clearance to go further. Since it was close to tactical it could answer questions by 'querying the database', although it warned the database had not been updated in 175 years and was partially corrupted. With patience and time they learned that many years before the "Elder" (who all have black clearance) had been hired to come to Skull Mountain and protect it from attacks from space. The "Elder" had created the dock on the peak and level zero and had gained power for their base from 'the Contraption' deeper inside the mountain and built local power systems near the montanic lances.

The party realized that some of the things they were learning seemed connected with old folk tales from the Kesh in the area. They also learned that kobolds have 'white clearance' - they had been used as cleaning staff by the Elder.
Security Unit 9 seemed to get agitated when questions veered into security topics and the more often he accessed a corrupt part of the database the more aggressive he became. The party left him guarding the lone door deeper into level zero and struck out for Remote Station #2, AKA Ol' One Fang's cave. Using a copy of the partial map they got there quickly with only a minor skirmish with wild pigs. Going into the hidden chamber Clint inserted his access card and uttered the phrase Security Unit 9 had mentioned and - the turbine engaged. Soon the panel reported that Montanic Lance #2 was powered! They looked carefully, but the crystal horn was not extended. They used the card and phrase to deactivate the turbine and returned to Skull Mountain, passing Team Thief on the road.

Once there they decided to look at the crevice. Seamus used his Boots of Levitation while 3 party members used ropes to position him while avoiding the loose shale that could dump them into the crevice or over a cliff.
Looking down, Seamus saw that the opening, about10' x 20', opened up to be about 60' - 70' across and went down, down, down.... And there was a metal ladder going down at least part of the way! He began to descend to get a better look. He noticed a metal door virtually identical to the one to level zero along one wall when metal shutters snapped open to reveal three turrets that began to point towards him. Calling to be pulled up he ascended as fast as he could and was narrowly missed by the bolts of lightning spitting from the turrets.
Once he was certain he was safe he hovered over the crevice again and dropped a metal rod with Continual Light cast upon it and counted as it fell.
He saw a door about 50' below and a bridge perhaps 300' feet down. And at about 1,200' the rod hit water and sank. Then something swam over the rod. Then the something burst out of the water to fly up the shaft, roaring as it came!
Seamus was pulled aside and in just a few rounds the turrets could be heard firing, driving the creature back down the shaft. Later Seamus again hovered over the opening, watching the creature (which resembled a jellyfish and a beetle) swimming far below before it vanished pop! like a soap bubble, revealing it was Conjured.
The next day the light rod was gone.


The party is catching on that Skull Mountain is vast and Skull Mountain is old. They now believe that the Temple was added by cultists after the fall of the Lord of All Evil who moved in after something else, etc., back to a time before any of the races that live in Seaward now lived even close to these mountains.

Jack admitted that the science fiction stuff is terrifying him. He said,
"Orcs? Dragons? Demons? We know them, we understand them, we can make a good threat assessment. Aliens? Robots? Cyborgs? We can't even figure out if they are dangerous! For all we know, we all have radiation poisoning right now and we will think it is a curse!"
Good times.

Early in the session, when talking about how they plan on going deeper soon they joked that 'Skull Mountain needs an elevator'....

They will continue to map the Briars, but exploring Level Three is suddenly WAY up in their priorities!

I will edit tomorrow