Saturday, December 26, 2020

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #8

On the 1st day of Ostar, guild members Laethen, Madian, Kelso, and Francis (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Karl in employment, attempted to return to the chamber where the steles were found via mound #20, but were driven back by skeletal warriors, some of whom were armed with bows, which the members surmised must be supplied by some unknown party.

The party then instead descended to the underground complex via mound #16, where they explored to the north and then the west. Here they came upon a chamber, where the remains of two tomb-robbers were found. When the party attempted to discover the cause of their deaths, the corpses reanimated and attacked them, but were destroyed.

The party then explored a blocked door along the passage, and found behind it a cave, wherein was a stone statue of a humanoid figure with a tail and antlers upon his head, which the party surmised to be a representation of the god Kurnos. A pit, hidden by an illusory spell, was discovered in front of the statue, but nothing else of note or of value was found here.

Them proceeding south with the aim of reaching the chamber with the stele, they found their way once more blocked by skeletal warriors, and retreated to the surface.

Guild member Kelso then proposed that the party explore mound #35, which previously was used by tomb-robbers as a lair, and found within a passage leading to the underground complex, which was not discovered by the guild rangers previously. Descending the passage, the party was yet again assailed by skeletal warriors, and retreated once more.

Thrice thwarted in their attempt to reach the chamber of the steles, the party then decided instead to explore barrow #34. Here they found an antechamber with the statue of a bearded warrior. Taking the passage to the left, they came upon a chamber with a single sarcophagus. When they attempted to recover the grave goods within, the remains of the occupant within animated and attacked them. Guild member Laethan was struck upon his throat, and fell, and could not be revived. The party withdrew from the mound, and returned to the guild.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was significant for three reasons.

Firstly, I decided that the Death Cultists had to take some action to prevent the incursion of the guild to the underground complex, as they were interfering with their goal. An attack on the guild itself would be too drastic and would invite retaliation. A more "natural" way of  dissuading the guild members from entering the complex would be increase the number of "wandering monsters" in the complex by animating more skeletons, and arming them with missile weapons so they can fight on an equal footing with the adventurers. The problem of course is that while rusty swords and spears might still be able to cause some damage, there was no way centuries-old bows and arrows could realistically work. The cultists (i.e. I as the GM) had to make the decision to supply them with "modern" bows and arrows, which of course advertises the fact that someone with access to a supply of these things were arming the skeletons... I guess there is no perfect solution.

The second significant event in this session is that the players have finally made the connection between the overground map and the underground map, which allowed them to predict the likely entrances to the underground complex. Using this knowledge, they were able to deduce that mound #35, previously used as a lair by the cultists, would possibly contain an entrance to the complex. They were of course correct, but the cultists have anticipated this, and placed a party of skeletons here too. While they were unable to get to their destination, the players now know that someone was actively preventing them from doing so, and with the supply chain to the area being rather limited, it will be just a matter of time before they find information that will lead them to the cultists.

The third significant event was the death of a character. In Five Torches Deep, while it is easy for a low-level character to "go down", actual, permanent character death is still rare, happening only on a 1 in 20 chance. Almost every PC in the game so far have "gone down" and suffered loss in stat points, but this is the first time someone rolled a '1' on the d20 "death roll". Worse, it happened to a player who is new to the group and to the hobby. I was reluctant to make the result stick, but I decided that the possibility of death was what gave meaning to the game.

Due to the year-end holiday season, our next session will be in about four weeks. Have a good holiday, and let's all hope that next year will be a better one.

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