Monday, July 2, 2018

DM Report - Short Session in Skull Mountain

Saturday the crew did a shirt foray into Skull Mountain.
Players and Characters
Jen - Ingrid: 6th level fighter
Jack- Hans, 5th level fighter (halfling)
Alex-  Starfalcon, 6th level ranger (elf)
Sam- Clint, 6th level paladin
Nick- Telnar, 6th level cleric
Henchmen: 15 (!) including clerics, men-at-arms, illusionists, religious brothers, thieves, and more
Hirelings: 10 pikemen, 5 heavy crossbowmen, 5 shortbowmen, 10 heavy footmen, a cook, a healer, and a porter
Animals: A heavy warhorse (Clint's 6th level man-at-arms henchmen, sergeant and commander of the henchmen); a paladin's mount (Clint's), 3 mules (pack train)
Other: Han's steam-powered war moose construct mount

After staging supplies in the meat locker the party pressed on into the Cavern of Herds.
The Cavern of Herds is about two miles long, a bit over a mile wide, and the ceiling arches up to about 800' in the center. The roof has a number of very narrow crevices that allow for rainwater to drip in and for air to be exchanged. There are also a number of quartz seams that reach the surface and shine a strange, diffuse light from the sun over the cavern. There is a broad, shallow stream meandering around the cavern that pours out into the outside and a lake, about 200 yards by 140 yards, in the eastern end.
The entrance to the goblin tunnels is atop a steep slope about 60' above the floor of the cavern. The stream starts at a waterfall and exits into the sunlight; but the exit it filled with yellow musk creeper. There is a tunnel to the south about 60' wide and 40' tall where troglodytes foray to hunt. There is a tunnel leading east. In the south east is a rising slop going up 50' to a bas relief of a man, 80' tall, that is in this style;


There is a hill near the center of the cavern that rises about 80'-85' with a mostly flat top about 130 yards by 80 yards 
The western verge of the Cavern and the top of the hill is covered in moss or lichen, the floor is lush with prairie grass that comes to mid-thigh on a human man. About 6 herds of rothe, all about 200 animals in number, wander the floor of the cavern.
The party set out straight for the hill. Once atop it the mercenaries immediately started setting up a camp. The PCs soon realized that the mercenaries were very unsettled inside Skull Mountain but surprisingly comfortable in the Cavern of Herds - it just looked a lot more like terrain they were familiar with! Soon a tent was up, tea was brewed, and a lunch was cooking.
  Akio the Monk (a henchman) quietly alerted the group he had spotted a group of troglodytes approaching through the grass. The party surreptitiously prepared and, as the trogs got to within medium crossbow range the archers and crossbowmen fired on them as the three horsemen (Clint, his sergeant, and Hans) charged downslope.
  The cavalry targeted the (obvious due to war paint and size) leaders, killing 2 of the 3 as well as a mook. The Trogs were now in the classic dilemma of those charging uphill; if you advance you might all die but you might engage the enemy, but if you retreat you might all die with no chance to fight back.
  They pressed on.
  The few trogs that met the PC skirmish line went down easily. 15 more eliminated from the tunnels.

  Atop the hill was found an old (very old!) survey ocular, fallen over and decrepit with age. The brownie familiar with the group Mended it and it was used to look around. The party realized that the waterfall (from outside the cavern) met a river from within the mountain. Searches proved that normal fish mingled with blind cave fish. The blind cave fish were tasty, proving they had a rich diet, convincing the party that a rather large body of water lurks within the caverns.
  Having killed trogs the party Spoke with Animals (rothe) and learned the following:
-'Slimy things' came from the underground river, but rarely lived long in the light.
-'Short people with darkness' and 'tall people with darkness' came from the east.
-'biting flying things' used to occasionally come through the crevices, but not for a long time, now (the party thinks these were stirges)
-The things with metal (goblins) used to come, but don't, now
-The bad-smellers (trogs) hunt rothe, and the rothe hate them
-Rothe hate the can't-eat-plants (yellow musk creeper) but sometimes animals that are can't-eat-plants wander in - the rothe trample them and scatter the can't-eat-plants so they don't grow.

  Examining the bas relief Clint used his Helm of Comprehending Languages to read an inscription at its base that reads 'roughly translated)'
Here the Four Brothers to the world Fell
Here the Four Brother in the world did Dwell
Here the Four Brothers will return
The party suspects this has to do with the Great Titans.

  The party checked out the Trog Caverns and found, illuminated by reflected and refracted sunlight, very dimly, a 600 yard by 60 yard cavern with two entrances, one surrounded by white-outlined trog handprints (the hand tribe) and the other by stylized ochre-red trog head profiles (the head tribe). The players realized that there were two Trog tribes, one in each direction, and there were massive guard groups with bosses at each entrance. With Invisibility, Ventriloquism, and such the party soon induced the two guard forces into a massive fight where the party assisted in killing everyone! After 10 rounds (using the Battlesystem rules in the background) the two tribes of Trogs withdrew, each greatly weakened by PC intrigue.

We broke until the 4th.

DM Notes
A wonderful example of 'Let's You and Him Fight!' the party worked hard to get the trogs to slaughter each other while barely using any arrows.
Of course, they are still facing over 100 trogs!
The party is starting to realize the enormity of the Eastern Caverns. They know there is an entrance near Remote Station #1, but that is more than 12 miles east of the Cavern of Herds!


Also, they have correctly deduced the existence of a massive underground body of water. The party remembered that in the Rill Valley (the villages along the Rill River downstream of the Briars) "whitefish" are a delicacy. They now know that these are the fat blind albino cavefish from the Caverns that mix into the stream from the Cavern of Herds that eventually joins the Rill and flows all the way to Seaward.
Or - the delicacy that the King eats tonight a week ago was under Skull Mountain.

  They also suspect that the Trog Tunnels might stretch all the way to the catacombs under Karkosi, which is 80 miles south!
  We will see!

  We are currently planning 5-9 hours of gaming on the 4th, all in the Caverns of Skull Mountain.