Monday, June 26, 2017

DM Report: Skull Mountain, back to Level Three

The party and initial foray can be found here.

The party spent 3 days healing and recovering spells. It took so long because the spear they found had a curse on it (it is a kinslayer - on a natural 20 it hits and does maximum damage to an ally). They were able to free Ingrid from the spear since she had not yet dealt a killing blow with it.

The party descended to level three, pausing on level two to examine what they're calling The Study. 3 days previously they had found and taken a silver tea infuser in this room. This time they found a note that read,
"Please return my tea infuser"
So they left it on the table.

They had been doing a lot of discussion about the wights that block access to the Lost Garden. They kept talking about how Clint's paladin aura hedged them out until they realized - that is normally only when something is Summoned. So they prepared their spells and checked out the corridor carefully.
Sure enough, they quickly learned that the wights were summoned as part of a trap! The disabled one trap trigger, but the other 'went ff' as they destroyed it, so 6 wights poured out of the central room - to be promptly Dispelled by Owen, who was prepared. Within the room they found evidence that the trap had been set since the Fall of the mountain, but before the recent Cult activity.

Upon returning to the Lost Garden section they skirted the stun jelly and went to the last unexplored stair. Beyond was a rather large dining hall with a corridor leading away from it. As they pressed on another summoning trap went off and they found themselves face to face with a red slaad. There was no surprise, so battle began.
And it was glorious! The party slammed into the slaad with everything they had and dropped it before it had a chance to utter its stunning croak. It vanished back to the chaos of Limbo and they party pressed on to find a kitchen with a fireplace (Marked for Seeker to map the flue, later) and a water trough. The druid determined that the water in this trough came from the same source as the water in the level one kitchen. Beyond the kitchen they found a larder that had been turned into a refuge! The room had field stoves, coal, bedrolls, etc. They also found a journal.
The journal revealed that an evil-aligned party had been working with the bandits that lived in level 1 when they first party arrived, and this same group moved the kobolds in. They had been enemies of the cultist with the trolls, however. The journal had been left by the last survivor of the party after various things in the Deep (?) had slaughtered everyone else. The last survivor wrote that they would have to try to get out by themselves.
Looking at the dates, the party realized - they had met the survivor! During on of their Midsummer trips they had encountered a ragged man in the Briars that they had not trusted. They gave him some food and sent him on his way. The dates match, so....

The party continued down the corridor and found a wooden wall that was obviously a later addition; it had a door. On the far side they fought another metal guard (whis one tougher than usual) and smashed it to bits. After a bit of discussion they took the pieces with them to see if Mortimer can Mend them into something they can use. In that room was late-addition stone wall with a door; beyond that was a bronze door in a wall of living rock; and beyond that was the Deep.

Above them, about 120' - 150' away, was the opening to the mountaintop. Opposite was another, similar, door and a fireplace grate like the second one they had found. The Deep was about 120' across, here, and while there was evidence there had been a wooden bridge between the two doors, it was long vanished. The Deep vanished into darkness far below. On the north wall the ladder could be seen.
From their own experience they knew going up would trigger the turrets. From the journal they knew going too deep meant the Black Mist and the Lurker.
They shut the door.

The party went back and opened the North Doors and South Doors from the entrance to level 3, then took the north doors, following another broad corridor into the mountains. After a bit of walking they spotted a door and just barely avoided having the paladin engulfed by a lurker above. After a fight that killed the lurker they opened the door - and fought another metal guard, although a weak one. Beyond they found an obvious guard complex, complete with crossbow slits covering the corridor (which they later found are cloaked by illusion on the corridor side). There was another kitchen, but it was - odd. Soon they sent Mortimer up the chimney and he reported that a grate opened on a vast shaft going down into the earth. And he could see a door on the opposite wall of the shaft. And he could smell beef cooking.
They found another larder, this one with only brandy and yellow mold (which they avoided) so they went to the South Doors.

The South Doors also led to another broad corridor running parallel to the North Doors (by 80' away) but just 20' in there were more double doors on the south wall. They had barely entered the corridor when a shrieker screamed and a squad of vegepygmies attacked from the darkness!
The vegepygmies were tougher than they expected and the thornie was a real problem. They heard a ruckus from behind the doors nearby and soon 25 more vegepygmies (with leader-types) and 3 more thornies poured into the corridor.
Both sides actually took a round to form up battle lines [prompting discussion at the table along the lines of 'I bet this happened in real life - "pardon us, but I suggest we prepare before a fight" "quite"'] and then - Owen cast Web and trapped the vegepygmies. The party fought, and eventually defeated, the thornies then began the process of using coup de grace to kill the trapped monsters
They had barely begun when another force of vegepygmies, about equal to the first two groups combined, began to advance towards the party from the far side of the Web. The party fell back and one of the henchmen threw a flask of oil + lit wick, engulfing the trapped creatures as the party closed and braced the South Doors.
Hurt and out of spells, the party returned to the base camp on level one.

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The players were a bit freaked out this session. After the high weirdness of Zero A and the moody, shadowy Lost Garden and surrounds they had been nervous about the area east of the entrance. Between the wight trap, the slaad trap, the journal entry, and the Deep by the time they found the vegepygmies they were on-edge.
The big vegepygmie fight actually calmed them down.
They are now not just well aware of the fact that different groups have controlled different parts of the complex at various times, even concurrently, they are becoming convinced that knowing the timeline is important.
They were careful to return the tea infuser because they do NOT want to annoy anyone who can come and go without the base team seeing them.
The big reveal of the evil party's journal? They were looking for the hidden tomb of a Saint who had forged a powerful holy sword and had hidden a powerful evil book.

They hope to go back in during the week.