Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Chronicles of the Adventurers Guild #13

On the 12th day of Ostar, Guild members Madian, Kimly, Tamira, Folly, and Leowe (see PC profiles here), with the bearer Karl in employment, explored the subterranean tombs. Entering via barrow #20, they came upon a long hall, wherein they found the remains of several tomb robbers. Thus forewarned, the party entered the chamber, whereupon the pillars animated and took the forms of men, and attacked them, but were overcomed.

Passing north still, they came into a square chamber and surprised two cultists within. The party sought to capture the cultists, but they refused to be taken, and a skirmish ensued. The cultists were soon joined by skeletal warriors, which entered the chamber from the corridor to the north, and also by several more cultists entering from a corridor to the east.

The party was able to hold off the skeletal warriors and repel the cultists, who retreated under the cover of a magical darkness. The party defeated the skeletal warriors, and using the remnants of the stone creatures in the the hall they had passed, blocked up the door to the east.

Proceeding further north, they came upon a passage leading to the east that had collapsed; here they found signs that the collapsed passage was being cleared.

Passing further north, they found that the passage turned to the east, and continued for several hundred feet, and terminated in a natural cavern, within which was an underground pond. At the near side of the pond was a boat. At the far end of the cavern was a small landing, beyond which a tunnel could be discerned. In the middle of the pond was a rocky outcrop.

The boat being small and unable to take the weight of all six persons, the party resolved to cross the pond in turn. In the first passing, they discerned the form of a woman with long hair seated upon the rocky outcrop. As the boat neared the outcrop, a force began to pull it towards the outcrop. The party was able to overcome this with vigourous rowing, and upon reaching the far shore they found long strands of hair on the hull. Then, steering as far from the outcrop as practicable, the party made further crossings, and the whole party was able to reach the far bank unharmed.

Entering the tunnel there, the party emerged within barrow #49, which they found to be already plundered.

No grave goods were recovered.


Jeras, Guild Chronicler

Prepping and Running the Game

I was really excited that we managed to get five players for this session, as I had planned for this to be the big fight scene where the PCs and the dragon cultists launch a co-ordinated attack on the death cultists; unfortunately, plans never survive contact with PCs...

We began the session by playing out the negotiation between the dragon cultists - posing as plain tomb-robbers - and the PCs.

The dragon cultists were represented by their leader (a dragon-kin), the dragon-kin barbarian whom the PCs have met in an earlier session, and three of their human mercenaries. The dragon-kin proposed a co-ordinated attack on the death cultists' lair, with the PCs attacking from the west, and they attacking from the east. I made the very generous terms of leaving exploration rights to all the surface barrows to the PCs afterwards, plus all of the underground complex except for the quadrant north and east of the cultists' lair, as well as half of whatever loot they will take from the cultists, and sharing of whatever documents they recover.

The PCs were naturally suspicious of the terms, but I had decided beforehand that they would not be able to read the dragon-kin's faces. Still, this did not prevent them from asking for even better terms!

I had the barbarian speak to the leader in their own language, which ruffled the PCs' feathers, but they agreed to give the PCs three-quarters of the cultists' loot, which caused furrowed brows in the human mercenaries.

The players were very keen to learn the dragon-kin's interest in the northeast quadrant of the complex, and wanted to know what item exactly it was that they hoped to find there, but I gave the Sauron-ic reply that it is a "trifle that he fancies", which of course convinced no one. 

While they did not fully trust the dragon-kin, the PCs agreed to the temporary alliance, with no real intent to keeping to the terms.

The attack was planned for the 13th of the month, as the merchant bringing supplies from Tamalir was expected to arrive on the 12th, and the dragon cultists wanted to be well-prepared.

I expected the players to wait for the attack, but they surprised me by choosing to launch another expedition on the 12th, hoping to find out where exactly the death cultists' lair was. As they already had some idea of where the lair was, they quickly came upon the cultists' sentries, which triggered a fight. With five PCs and quite a few of them at level 4, their experience in dungeon-fighting and powers allowed them to quickly dominate the fight, forcing the cultists to retreat.

Their decision to blockade the door to the east essentially sealed the cultists' access to the northeast, a sector of the complex which is of interest to them. This really pushes them up against a wall, as even if they can easily unblock the door, the room is the main access to their lair and connects that to the sector they want to explore.

I now have a couple of tough decisions to make as the GM and the death cult leader: did the PCs' actions tip the cultists off to a possible impending attack? Will the cultists launch a surprise attack on the dragon cultists pre-emptively, with the aim of taking over their lair?

I have a few days to think this through...

No comments: