Thursday, 13 March 2014
LotFP Solo - Part the Sixteenth: „Konnt' ich bisher die Unterirdischen loben, / So wend' ich mich in diesem Fall nach oben…“
At dawn, Firdeth is buried in the little cemetery amongst the ruins, becoming its seventh resident. After the short funeral, the party descend once again into the dungeon, intent on destroying the source of evil.
They go immediately down to the lower level without incident, and head north at the first T-junction [off of room II].
They come to a large, long room [room VII] that has a great stone structure, looking somewhat like a 30' long stone sarcophagus, down the centre of the room. The structure is actually very shallow; it was once used as an offering table by pilgrims visiting the monastery. Now it is heaped with rubbish and the dessicated carcasses of humans and animals, and a few less-identifiable things. The party approach it very carefully, wary that the corpses may spring up and attack at any second. It is thus that they do not see the strange tentacled things lurking in the shadows until they rush forward to attack.
[room contents roll was Monster & Treasure; treasure kept in stone containers. I rolled a 1 on the surprise die. There are (2d6=) 7 Suckerlings and two rolls on the Table V.G. at +10%.]
They creatures are humanoid in appearance, man-sized, though with their stooped posture they stand barely 5' tall. In place of arms they have two blubbery tentacles which end in lamprey-like mouths. They are completely hairless; their lumpy grey skin is mottled with irregular black spots. The misshapen head of these creatures appears to lack any features at all.
Aldira and Lycinia are each beset by two of the awful things, the rest of the party need only contend with them one-on-one. Despite being caught unawares, however, none of the creatures' tentacle mouths fasten onto them.
[round 2. the party wins initiative]
Aldira casts a spell [Sleep] at the creatures, and is dismayed to see them shrug it off as if she had merely been waving her arms about to no purpose. The rest of the combatants, elves and monsters alike, move round each other cautiously, looking for an opening to attack. some furtive swings are assayed, but none strike home [I barely rolled any die over 11].
Miolla smashes her opponent in the hip with her mace, shattering bones and crushing organs; it dies instantly. Debinvarr and Théscine leave their opponents with only minor wounds [1 damage each]. One of Lycinia's enemies turns its attention to Miolla, fastening on to her with one of its grasping mouths [1 damage, putting her at 7hp]. Aldira and Théscine also end up with a monster attached [losing 2 and 1 hp respectively].
Miolla caves in the skull of the one attached to her. Aldira and Théscine are not so fortunate, and the things start draining their blood through the tentacle-mouths [1 damage each].
Debinvarr lunges, thrusting his rapier through one of the creature's midsection. The wound is severe [5 points], but it fights on [with 1hp]. Lycinia finally sees the moment she has been looking for, and swings, severing both of her opponent's outstretched tentacles. The thing crashes to the ground, ichor spurting from the stumps. Théscine stabs the monster attached to her clean through. She kicks the lifeless body away from her and retreats from the fight,sorely wounded [2hp]. Aldira still cannot manage to get the other one off of herself, and loses more blood to its greedy mouth [2 damage, leaving her with 8hp].
Miolla comes to Aldira's aid, dropping the one attached to her with a well-placed blow from behind. Debinvarr overcomes his opponent with a lightning-quick upstroke, splitting it from belly to... "head".
Only one of the things remains, and presses its attack. Miolla kills it easily.
No one is willing to dig too deeply into the pile of dessicated remains, but one human(oid) corpse is wearing a couple pieces of jewellery that are easy to remove. One is a long necklace made of amber (300 sp), the other a carved black jade bracelet depicting storm dragons playing in thunderclouds (1800 sp). There is also a beaten copper flask which is still stoppered and contains liquid, possibly a magical elixir [it is in fact a random potion]. The flask and jewellery are safely stowed in Lycinia's pack for now, and the party continue out the northern exit.
The passage turns to the left, then ends in a T-junction. The party head south, and come to a simple wooden door. It's a bit swollen in its frame, but opens outward without too much effort. The sound of forcing it, however, echoes down the hall.
The room beyond the door [room VIII] was formerly a vestiary. There are rotting wooden hooks and pegs set into the walls, which are themselves covered in stained and mould-encrusted wooden panelling. The remains of several armoires and chests line two of the walls, and there are collapsed wooden benches against the other. The floor is a knee-deep pile of rotten cloth, amongst which the glitter of gold and silver threads can be seen. On the inside of the door there even hangs a mirror, though so pitted and tarnished as to no longer be reflective.
[room contents roll is Monster & Treasure; 13 #11s]
Nesting in the mass of rotten garments is a band of thirteen of the cruel and twisted homunculi, who had been sleeping until the door opening racket. They swarm out to attack. Miolla puts most of them to sleep with a spell, and the rest are no match for the combined arms of the party. In less than a half a minute all the things have been slain. One of the chests holds a fortune in silver and gold vessels: censers, patens, monstrances &c. "This should shut up the cleric for a while if we hand it over," observes Lycinia as Debinvarr shovels the lot into a sack.
Leaving the room by the southern door, the corridor leads back into the offering chamber. They travel in a circle back to the T-intersection, then head north. The walls of the corridors had been carved with sacred imagery in low relief, but they have all been so defaced as to be unrecognisable shapes, with only the barest suggestions of figures human and divine.
The corridor turns and soon empties out into an immense natural cavern [room IX], which is lit with a sickly crimson radiance emanating from a murky pool. Before the pool stands a row of festering zombies [festering ones] with arms outstretched in a gruesome parody of pious sentiment. One of them turns its head slowly as the party enters and seems to regard them for a moment. Then it slowly turns and begins to plod towards them. Its companions follow suit.
"They're a bit spread out," says Aldira. "Follow my lead. If we get them bunched up a little more I can trap them all with my magic." The elves readily assent. They lead the shambling mob on a slow chase through the cavern, until at last Aldira pronounces the words of power. [She casts Web.
Q: Does this work? 50/50: 26, Yes.]
A mass of sticky webs forms around the shambling corpses, catching all twelve of them and holding them fast. Lycinia steps forward cautiously, and throws her torch into the webs, which burst into flame [2d6 damage each]. Four are consumed in the blaze, but the other eight lurch forward as the flames subside, burnt and charred but seemingly indomitable. Aldira and the elves ready their weapons and fan out as the things approach. The battle is joined.
[round 1 (observed)]
Miolla's heavy mace strikes true [max damage]. She splatters one of the advancing corpses into a pile of goo at her feet. Lycinia is a bit more subtle, but no less deadly; one falls before her, cut through at the midsection. Théscine's magic sword bites deep into one of the larger and less-burnt creatures, but it still comes toward her [4 fire damage and 5 from the sword stroke leave it with 7hp]. There are now six of the things left standing. Debinvarr is unlucky, having two after him. He fends off one with his rapier, but leaves himself open to the other. A stinking bony fist slams into the side of his head, staggering the young elf [4 damage; he's got 1hp left].
Miolla nearly slips in the carnage under her feet, but still manages a glancing blow on the horror in front of her [5 damage, leaving it with 5ho]. Théscine very nearly severs the head of the hulking corpse [5 damage drops it to 2hp] and hears something clatter to the ground. The thing had been wearing a necklace hidden beneath all the oozing vileness, a golden holy symbol of the light god, the kind reserved for the highest orders of the priesthood. Théscine knows better than to steal a glance down at the floor to see what fell, but Debinvarr cannot help himself -- a nearly fatal mistake. The moment he averts his eyes is all it takes for one of the shambling nightmares to slip in under his sword and tear at his abdomen. He falls bleeding to the floor [3 damage puts him at -2hp].
Miolla and Lycinia both drop another of the abominations. Miolla pauses to regain her breath, but Lycinia charges right on through to interpose herself between the fallen Debinvarr and his assailant. It uses her impetus against her, delivering a solid blow to the shoulder where her armour is in need of repair [she takes 7 damage, putting her at 5hp].
Lycinia counters awkwardly, slicing off a bit of maggoty flesh the creature apparently wasn't using for anything [2 damage (rolled a 1) leaves it at 5hp]. Théscine's sword seems to sing in her hand. The thing before her falls in three pieces under the swift might of the enchanted blade. Lycinia has once again overextended herself, and suffers another heavy impact from the dead fists of her enemy [3 damage, she has 2hp left]. Miolla swats at the thing advancing towards her, managing only to remove its left hand [just missed her attack roll]. Before she can recover from her swing, the creature lunges forward and stabs the sharp, broken stump through her armour [3 damage drops her to 4hp].
Surprised and angered, Miolla backpedals and strikes out wildly. She is rewarded as the things head is smashed apart (and doesn't even cover her in ick). Lycinia manages another weak blow at her opponent. Théscine comes up behind it and finishes the thing off.
This whole time Aldira has been engaged in a back and forth dance with one of the horrific corpses. Every time it advanced, she retreated. Whilst she kept it at bay, she never managed to get close enough to land a blow of her own. She finally sees a single opportunity. It is enough! The last of the creatures succumbs to her blade, and the battle is won.
Everyone rushes to attend to Debinvarr, and bind his wounds. He is still alive, though his breathing is very shallow. But they've come this far, and cannot leave without knowing the final truth of this accursed place.
[This chamber covers the square where Truth was indicated on the map, so it's time for some revelations. Back in part 12, Lycinia had asked the Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine what he knew about the monastery's downfall. He informed her that "[t]here was a holy artifact, a wand having immense power over the living and the dead, contained within the monastery. It is said that this led to its downfall". The Reverend Father had a favourable reaction towards the PCs, and so one of the truth dice was rolled in advance to determine his opinion of the veracity of the rumour he was relating. A roll of 5 meant he thought it was pretty likely to be true. The magnitude roll for the rumour was 11, indicating something pretty awful. Rolling the second truth die gets a 5, so 10+1 (for good reaction roll) =11, completely true.]
The murky pond bubbles and froths. As the party approach to investigate, the miasma of unwholesome energies given off by the pond seems to become almost palpable. The ruddy light shining within seems to come from a single source. Straining their eyes, the party make out what appears to be a human figure crouched under the water; the light radiates from his hands.
Miolla throws the grappling hook into the water, catching it on the figure. She and Lycinia grab the other end of the rope, and with a great effort manage to dislodge the figure within. They pull it out onto the cavern floor. It appears to be the ancient corpse of a high priest or priestess, gripping a twisted glowing wand in its hands. The corpse is a foul and corrupted as the festering undead which haunt these benighted halls. For a moment it looks as if the corpse will rise, but the movement is unsteady, uncertain. Then all at once the entire corpse loses all cohesion, and dissolves into a foetid puddle of decay.
Though the wand glows no longer, there is none but who still feels its power. Afraid to touch it, they rig up a sling using Lycinia's ruined tabard and a clean length rope cut from the rest (which, along with the grappling hook, is too befouled to even consider taking out of the dungeon). Miolla lifts Debinvarr, Lycinia takes charge of dragging the artifact, Théscine bears the lantern and Aldira, rapier in hand, leads them on their weary way out of the dungeon.