Thursday, October 27, 2022

Dwarrowdeep #7

In the month of Haring sightings of the dragon ceased. It was not known if this meant she had moved to another region, or that she had roosted in preparation to lay a brood.

The Upper Hall north of the coal mines had been retaken, and now our party was being sent to explore the route north, following the tracks of the mine carts.

But when they arrived at the Upper Hall from the Lower Hall, they heard a great commotion. Dwarves were fleeing towards them: the Darkspawn had launched an attack!

They were urged to flee south, but our heroes chose to remain to help. A guard asked them to go to the Hall of Many Pillars, where many warriors who were wounded during the taking of the hall had been convalescing, and to lead them to safety.

Bertil, Milgrim, and Zunn (see PC profiles here) sped towards the Hall, fighting off a group of darkspawn in their path, and arrived at the doors of the Hall to find that the casualties and three dwarves caring for them had barricaded themselves inside the Hall. Several of the wounded were too weak to walk on their own, and Legnan, one of the carers, argued that they should remain in place and wait for the attack to be repelled. It took the party some time to convince the dwarves that they should flee, with those able to helping those unable to walk, but by then it was almost too late: a party of darkspawn accompanied by an ogre was coming down the corridor towards them.

The party barricaded the door once more, but it was clear that the door would not hold the ogre for long. But the three mages had a plan: they prepared their spells, and threw the doors open, and held the ogre in place with magic, so that it prevented the other darkspawn from entering the Hall, while our heroes attacked it. Bertil and Zunn were wounded by the ogre's powerful attacks, but eventually it fell to Milgrim's gauntleted fists; the rest of the darkspawn fled when they saw their champion fall.

The whole party then made its way towards the main square, where they would be able to flee south. Their pace was slow on account of the wounded, but they managed to avoid parties of darkspawn roaming the corridors.

Their hopes lifted when they neared the plaza, but were as quickly dashed when they found it occupied by a dozen darkspawn, under the command of a genlock emissary. They had no hope of defeated so many darkspawn, but once more our mages came up with an audacious plan: Zunn would cast a spell sealing the emissary inside a forcefield together with Milgrim, who would try to strike him down and so cause the rest to once more flee; meanwhile, the dwarves would try to cut their way to the south while the darkspawn tried to aid their leader. To help them get to the emissary, the three dwarf carers volunteer to don armour of slain darkspawn and infiltrate the darkspawn and to clear a way for our heroes.

The plan almost worked - the darkspawn were surprised by the sudden attack, and in the confusion the dwarves were able to cut their way to the south while the darkspawn were focused on Milgrim, but as they surrounded the emissary and Milgrim it became clear that the elven mage would not survive...

Then just as suddenly, there came a dwarven war cry from the south as warriors from the Lower Hall arrived. The darkspawn were driven off in the ferocity of the attack, and our heroes would survive to fight another day.

Prepping and Running the Game

I had planned for the party to explore the hall to the north of the Upper Hall this session, but as two other players were unable to make it, I decided to run something that was more appropriate for a smaller, all-mage party.

Once again, the challenge was to introduce some human (dwarven?) interaction in a dungeon crawl, so I decided to have the party do a rescue mission instead of a purely combat one. I needed a large enough number of casualties to make it a challenging scenario, but to make the role-playing manageable, I only had names and personalities for three of the NPCs, one of whom was Legnan, a pessimistic dwarf who would advocate staying instead of fleeing.

I was once again impressed by the players' heroism, with them essentially sacrificing themselves to allow the dwarves to escape in the final scene. No doubt their reputation among the dwarves would be much elevated after this episode.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Dwarrowdeep #6

In the month of Firstfall, in the deepest winter, sighting of the dragon from West Gate became regular. It was not yet known where the dragon was roosting, and she seemed to ignore the goings-on at the thaig.

The hauntings of the coal mines had prevented the miners from working, and so our heroes were sent to find the cause of the hauntings, and see if they could end them. In this venture they were led by Master Miner Berius, and accompanied by the bearer Lennard.

Berius led the party northwards through the mine tunnels, towards where the sightings of restless spirits was most common. As they passed through the passages, the party found the remains of many dwarven miners, killed either by darkspawn, or by the fire that had swept through the tunnels during their attack centuries ago. When they were crossing a bridge over a chasm, our party was attacked by ghostly apparitions of long-dead miners, who seemed to ignore those heroes who used magic and focused their attacks on Lorca and Boggart (see PC profiles here). When the party had driven off the spirits, Lorca was much weakened by their attacks, and Bertius proposed that Lorca remained at the site to rest and that Boggart remained with him to ensure his safety, while the rest carried on, but the party was determined to remain together.

The party then continued northwards, until at last they came to a large chamber that once served as depot for mine carts. Before they could all enter, there was a tremor, and the tunnel into the chamber caved in, leaving Boggart and Zunn trapped inside the chamber. A demon in the form of a statue appeared out of the darkness in the chamber, praised its "servant" for brining a sacrifice, and began to attack Zunn.

By the time the rest of the party had dug a hole through the cave-in, Zunn had fallen. The demon then turned its attention to the main party, who retreated back towards the chasm, luring the demon after them. Eventually they were able to lure the demon to the edge of the chasm, where together they were able to push it over the edge.

By now the party had become suspicious of Bertius' role, but they had no proof of his complicity, and despite Milgrim's interrogation, he confessed nothing. They party returned to the Lower Halls, where they reported their findings. Soon afterwards parties were sent in to recover the remains of the dead miners to give them a proper dwarven burial. A few days afterwards, Bertius absconded from the thaig. 

Prepping and Running the Game

The plot for this session is inspired by A Town called Mud: the Haunted Mine. I had originally planned to run this section of the dungeon as a simple exploration and combat session, and was looking for a module to provide a map and some encounter ideas, but the story of a miner luring the party to a demonic entity gave the setting an extra dimension and some role-playing opportunities.

I also introduced a few NPCs to the campaign to go with the PCs' specialisations, which I have moved forward to Level 4 instead of Level 6. Bertil is taken under the tutelage of the Augur of Stormhold, the clan trading with the thaig, while Boggart is learning fencing from an Orlesian party that had joined the thaig.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Dwarrowdeep #5

Prepping and Running the Game

This session saw the party (Boggart, Bertil, Mulgrim, and Zunn; see PC profiles here) and the Fearsome Five (a fellow adventuring party of Avvars) return to the lyrium mines via the underground river. This time the docks were defended by the Scaled Ones, which the Fearsome Five defeated, after which they remained to guard the boats.

The party proceeded on back to the spider cavern, where they killed the giant spider and then burned the eggs she was guarding. There they also found the remains of two elven warriors, and took off them two pairs of gauntlets. These are linked to the story arcs for Mulgrim and Zunn, both of whom wish to take the Arcane Warrior specialisation later, and specialise in unarmed combat - typical players: you run a campaign set in a dwarven megadungeon, and two want to play elven monks...

Passing the spider cavern, the party entered the cavern guarded by the Rock Wraith. Bertil attempted to bargain with it for passage, and was told that the party could pass if they left behind the dead body of one of the three mages in the party. This was of course unacceptable to the party, and a fight ensued, resulting in the destruction of the Rock Wraith.

The party crossed the stone bridge that led deeper into the cavern, driving off more Scaled Ones as they did so. They were then drawn by a moving blue light down one of the smaller tunnels. They followed the light for a while, until at last they came to a dead-end at a sinkhole. Suddenly the roof of the tunnel collapsed, trapping Boggart and Zunn. Before they could begin to dig through the rockfall, the party was attacked by ghosts of dwarven miners. By the time the ghosts were defeated Bertil laid dead on the tunnel floor, and Mulgrim was unable to revive him.

Meanwhile, Bertil's spirit floated above his own dead form. He was soon joined by a spirit, who communicated with him telepathically. Learning of Bertil's distress, the spirit led him down back into his body, and Bertil found himself alive again. This encounter is linked to Bertil's character arc, as the player wants him to pursue the Spirit Healer specialisation.

Looking into the sinkhole at the end of the tunnel the party saw the calcified skeleton of a long dead dwarven miner. The skeleton crumbled when they tried to fish it out, but they were able to recover a silverite dagger from the sinkhole, which Boggart kept.

The party decided to carry on with their exploration, and returned to the main tunnel, until at last it opened into a large cavern. Waiting them there were a group a Scaled Ones warriors, led by a champion who could breath fire. A hard fight followed, and the party were planning to flee when a lucky shot brought down the champion and caused the other warriors to flee.

After the bound their wounds, the party proceeded further, and found that the Scaled Ones have abandoned the area, likely by diving into a sinkhole. They found that the site was likely used for the storage and refining of raw lyrium by the dwarves until the thaig was abandoned. In one of the rooms they found a burning statue of a demonic form like that of the Rock Wraith which they defeated. When the fire subsided they found a sticky charred substance on the statue, which Bertil identified as burnt blood.

The party took the head of the Scaled One champion as proof and trophy, and returned to the dock.


In the post-game Organisation phase the players failed their roll, and the roll on the Misfortune Table indicated an enemy attack. Continuing the thread from the previous session, I decided that some Fereldens have decided to launch an attack on the thaig's Great Hall outside the mountain hold as retaliation for the dwarves trading with the Avvar.

There followed a tense negotiation as me playing the Arl of Redcliffe, and the player as Rolf Khundar. Rolf demanded the perpetrators to be handed over to him, but I refused, as the Great Hall stood on Ferelden land which was leased to the dwarves and still subject to Ferelden law.

Rolf then backed down, but required compensation for his losses, which I gladly agreed to - I would rebuild the Great Hall, and levy the cost from fines imposed on the perpetrators, which would allow me to resolve the situation with the dwarves, while still keeping my own authority over my subjects, and impose a just but not harsh punishment.

This session allowed me to advance the story arcs for two of the characters. In the next session I plan to introduce a new element to advance Boggart's character arc.

I will also be following up on Rolf's attempt to poach lyrium miners from Orzammar.