Sunday, 11 May 2014

LotFP Solo - Part the Twenty-Seventh: "Strange panic first, a deep and sickening dread"

Scene 28

Chaos: 7

Setup: roll 3 = modified (was: back into the dungeon to kill vampires)

Altered: are the vampires gone? 50/50: 44, Yes + event: NPC Action - Count - Harm Peace - Q: Where? Yseut's Bastion (more on this later)

Characters: Neldir, the Elders of the Elven Forest, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12,  Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon, Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine, Reverend Father de Molleré, Brother Mundlo, Zuhal B'thallit, centaur lizard, Jola, Sir Gaunet, Jönnick, Baron Iehan Forzdeleu, Count Rotres d'Estancbel, Lady Delphinia

Threads: find Neldir & the book
remove zuhal's curse
destroy vampires

day 72.
On the third day the rains have finally stopped. Rested, and indeed a bit restless, the party finally head back into dungeon.

[It's fun to randomly generate and map the dungeon, and have tiny little encounters that the PCs win handily, but it makes for poor reading. So have a quick montage sequence to bring the adventure up to the interesting part. If you have 80s synthesizer music handy, please play it now.

It takes the PCs several minutes to trudge through the waterlogged corridors from the entrance back to room A6. Along the way they have a random encounter with a nameless, antenna-headed pig thing in room A4, but it fails to injure any of the party members. Lycinia and Miolla dispatch it before the rest of the PCs are even in the room.

Exploring from A6, they find a room where the ground has subsided, and pass over a trap door in the middle of a corridor without noticing it at all.

A single shaggy loper attacks them in room A8, jumping out at Lycinia and attempting to roast her with its flame breath. She makes her saving throw vs. breath weapon, and her strange iron torch sucks in flames leaving her unsinged. She does lose a point of Wisdom to the torch, however (in addition to the point she's already lost for using it today).

The loper is slain without inflicting any damage on the party. It was guarding approximately 4000 copper pieces kept in iron trunks, but the PCs notice the trunks are covered in webs crawling with poisonous spiders, and decide to leave them alone.

Down to room A9, they fail to spot a secret door hiding an unguarded treasure, and find stairs leading down that are filled with more rubble from the ground's subsidence.

They go back to the long corridor and try the first side passage off to the south. A wandering monster is indicated. Checking to see what lies beyond (to determine where the monster(s) came from) results in another trap door and a chamber beyond that.

The montage ends here. Turn the Alan Parson's Project off now, before someone hears it.]

As they proceed south down the cramped corridor, they hear the sound of sloshing steps, as if an equal sized-party is approaching them. They pause to see who is coming. Lycinia hold her torch high, eyes straining against the darkness ahead.

[Q: Did the wandering monster come up from the trap door? Unlikely: 51, Yes.

So, (2d4=) 7 zombies, recently dead, were made buoyant from the build up of gas during decomposition, and have floated up through trap door. Stats are standard for B/X & LL.]

At length Lycinia's torch reveals a gruesome sight. A band of horrible animated corpses, bloated and mis-shapen, are lurching towards them out of the blackness. Their dripping uniforms mark them as some of the missing soldiers. Lycinia orders her comrades to retreat back into the odd-shaped room [A4] so they have some room to fight.

[rounds 1-3]
Lycinia makes a fighting withdrawal [fighting defensively for +2 AC, -4 to hit]. The lead zombie, head lolling at a grotesque angle, comes right for her, arms outstretched, grasping hands looking for her throat. She knocks it away with her sword; it seems insensible to the blade slicing through its flesh, severing its hands, tearing off its jaw. It comes ever closer to bash at the elf with mangled stumps, and at last falls beneath repeated blows to the skull.

[round 4]
The party have retreated into the room and formed a line of battle. Haddie is cowering behind the corner amongst some ruined furniture, one hand thrust beyond it so her lantern still provides light for the battle. Miolla smashes one of the zombies in the sternum [9 damage], caving in its chest and causing it to emit a sudden, awful moan as the gas built up within it is forced out. A shining arrow sails over Miolla's shoulder and pierces the zombie's shoulder before disappearing in a flash of light. [Aldira's magic missile does 5 damage, leaving it with 2hp]. Undaunted, the creature continues to grasp and flail at Miolla with its dead, colourless hands. Father Rochouart cuts into another with his heavy sword [5 damage puts it at 6hp], spilling guts and putridity out in to the water. The stench overcomes him for a moment, and as he is distracted the horrible thing swats him across the face in a clumsy assault [only 1 point of damage; the cleric has 8hp left]. One of the dead soldiers still has a mace attached to its wrist hanging from a leather thong. It flails at Théscine, and though she fends off its clutching hands the mace swings round to hit her squarely in the forehead [8 damage drops her to 1hp]. She staggers back, blood pouring into her eyes.

[round 5]
With a sharp crack heard above the din of fighting in the sloshing water, Miolla's mace crashes down on her opponent's shoulder and the force crushes the collarbone and snaps the spine, finally destroying it. Another has grabbed hold of Géraint's cloak and is pulling the hapless vampire hunter ever closer. As its teeth are about to sink into Géraint's throat, Worland's axe sends its head sailing across the room. The headless corpse collapses into the murky water, oozing putrescence. Lycinia has meanwhile been backing up to avoid the relentless advance of another. It smashes into her with its full weight, knocking her back into the wall and pinning her there for a moment. She can feel her ribs start to give [7 damage drops her to 9hp].

[round 6]
Miolla and Géraint step in at the same time to fend the zombie away from Théscine. Miolla inflicts a punishing blow with her mace, and Géraint finishes it off. Aldira fells another one with her sword. Lycinia slips away from the one that body checked her, and deals it a heavy stroke across its side as she does [6 damage leaves it
with 2hp]. Father Rochouart slips in the gore cascading from the one he is fighting, and before he can recover his balance it knocks him back with a stunning blow [7 damage puts him at 1hp].

[rounds 7 & 8]
As the two remaining zombies are bearing down on her friends further inside the room, Miolla turns about and comes up behind them. Twice she swings her heavy mace, and twice an opponent falls.

Father Rochouart and Théscine are sorely injured, and both barely hanging on to consciousness. He takes the elf's hand and intones an orison. The healing light spreads over them, illuminating the room and erasing their wounds [cure light wounds restores the cleric to full, Théscine to 7hp].

After catching their breath and coaxing Haddie out of her hiding spot, the party proceed once again down the southern corridor from whence the zombies came, moving as silently as possible so as to hear any more of the undead approaching. Unfortunately their caution is of the wrong sort; as they are creeping forward, Lycinia suddenly disappears with a splash. She has not seen the open trap door hidden beneath the water, and has fallen in. Forgetting their earlier caution, Lycinia's friends stand round the hole shouting, calling for Haddie to bring the lantern forward.

The darkness is thick about her, the water seems colder than ice. Lycinia sinks straight to the bottom. She is momentarily confused, unsure of what has befallen her, but as the water fills her lungs and she begins to drown, she is shocked back to her senses. She casts aside her sword and the iron torch, struggles against the straps of her pack, writhes and twists to free herself from the clutches of her mail coat. There's a dim light above her, a feeble moon illuminating the square escape from this watery grave. She swims for it desperately, weighed down still by gambeson and heavy boots.

As she reaches the top there are hands outthrust to receive her. She is pulled, coughing and choking, out of the water. She lacks the strength to stand, so Miolla holds her up whilst Géraint wraps her in his long cloak. Aldira lights a pair of spare torches off Haddie's lantern, and she and Worland hold them close to her for warmth. Lycinia leans feebly against Miolla, shivers shaking her entire frame. But the heat from the torches is comforting, and her blue lips finally regain their colour. "All my stuff..." she says, weakly.

"Leave it to me," smiles Théscine. Then her hands trace a pattern in the air, and she pronounces syllables of a charm. "Go fetch me Lycinia's equipment from down there," says Théscine, seemingly to the empty air. But moments later, one by one, all of Lycinia's things begin to float up out of the water and into Théscine's hands.

[Game notes: Lycinia got to make a Search roll to notice the open trapdoor under the water. She failed, and fell into the area below which turned out to be an oubliette -- I rolled a 20x30 chamber with no exits. I immediately asked Mythic

Q: Are there any zombies left in the oubliette? Unlikely: 66, No. +Event: NPC action - Brother Mundlo - Divide / Power. Interpretation: Complaints to his superiors have weakened de Val d'Oines's position as head of the orthodox faction.

I had a distant memory of drowning rules somewhere in LotFP, B/X or LL, but couldn't find them. So I gave her a save vs. paralysis to ditch her armour, heavy equipment, etc. without drowning.

Théscine cast Unseen Servant to retrieve all her things.]

Lycinia slowly re-equips as Théscine returns her possessions. She is still chilled, but eager to press on. Father Rochouart commends her fortitude and dedication to their cause. Pulling shut the trap door, the party continue south down the corridor.

They come to an anchor-shaped chamber [A10]. Piles of old crates and other rubbish are shoved into the corners. As the party are peering beyond the piles of rubbish in the two northern projections, a soft click is heard, followed by the sound of a great iron portcullis smashing down, barring the way back.

Immediately after, a pair of terrible ogres, one on each side, smash through the flimsy wooden débris to attack. So large are they that they could scarcely have fit through the corridors to wind up here. But these ogres are not just the typical huge, dim-witted brutes that plague the hills outside of Ullgrim, but something far, far worse. Their greying flesh is stretched tightly over their bones, their eyes burn with supernatural malice, and their nails have lengthened into long talons. The stench of the grave clings tightly about these undead horrors.

[round 1. the ogre-ghouls win the initiative]
The party are caught between the two humongous, ravening undead. One lunges at Géraint, but he dodges to one side at the last instant. The other swats at Théscine, raking its disgusting claws across her chest [4 damage leaves her with 3hp]. Théscine steps backward, to interpose Miolla and Lycinia between the beast and herself. They hear her recite a magical formula behind them as they lay into the beast. It effortlessly knocks Miolla's mace aside with a sweep of its awful hand, but Lycinia guts the thing with her sword. Still, she's not sure she has done any more than to anger it [9 damage only brings it to 18hp]. A shower of green sparks flits around her as she retracts her sword, burning the creature's sallow flesh [Théscine's Magic Missile does 5 damage, bringing it to 13hp]. Worland stands by Géraint, hoping to draw the first ogre away from his master as Aldira intones a spell to defend herself [Shield]. Father Rochouart calls upon the Light God [casts Turn Undead] to banish these foul fiends -- Alas! the darkness here is too great.

[round 2]
Despite Worland's attempts to fend off the creature, the ogre is intent on catching Géraint. Its claws leave a nasty mark across his throat [8 damage drops him to 4hp] and he stops in his tracks. His arms drop to his sides, his rapier hangs limply from his powerless fingers, his face becomes a mask of ineffable fear [he fails his save vs. the ghoul's paralyzation touch]. Father Rochouart attacks the ogre before it can devour Géraint. He starts to recite a prayer for the intercession of St. Clere as he attacks the creature, a stroke of his broadsword punctuating each verselet of the orison. Is it holy St. Clere or sheer madness that guides his blade? No matter, for the creature retreats from his would-be meal under the force of the assault [4 damage reduces it to 18hp, too]. Meanwhile, emboldened by her defencive spell, Aldira rushes forward. Her rapier flashes between her two elven friends, and the first ogre loses a hand [5 damage brings it to 8hp].

[round 3]
Father Rochouart's chanting has become almost more unnerving than the sight of the gigantic ghouls the party is facing. He and the ogre seem locked in a mortal struggle, though neither of them lands a hit. Worland chops into it with his axe, though it scarcely regards him, even though half its ribs splinter at the impact [9 damage puts it at 9hp]. Across the room, Miolla and Lycinia attack as Aldira defends. Sword and mace both find their mark, and the heinous ghoul crashes into the wall, never to rise again.

[round 4]
Father Rochouart's screams reach a crescendo as he desperately tries to fend off the ogre looming over him with his sword [Parries, but is hit even with the AC bonus] and then are suddenly cut short as he stops and stares in blank horror [he takes 5 damage from the claws and fails his saving throw; he is paralyzed with 2hp remaining]. Worland and Lycinia advance on the slavering fiend. Lycinia's sword pushes it away from the cleric as Worland's axe neatly removes its head.

As Géraint and Fr. Rochouart recover their wits, the rest of the party search the room hoping to find the mechanism for the portcullis. There is none, but each of the ogre's dens contains a sack full of treasure, probably left over from when they were still alive.

[Treasure Type B / HC XXI]
CP: 500
SP: 800
Gems (4): Moss Agate-50sp, Sardonyx-250sp, Jacinth-1000sp, Citrine-100sp. Total Value: 1400sp.
Jewelry: (4): Gold Ring in the shape of a lion's head with garnet eyes-1800 sp, Small bronze statuette of an ancient bard playing a lyre-400 sp, Prophyry pendant-400 sp, Platnim pin shaped like a swan-1400sp. Total Value: 4000sp.

Laden with spoils, the party have now no choice but to continue. Not even Miolla is strong enough to lift the portcullis. [Normally, the party would retreat to surface at this point since they're encumbered and low on hit points and spells. But the dungeon is only one level, and there's only enough paper left for the final room, and I (as the DM) already know it's not a combat encounter. Thus, the portcullises fell (as an afterthought) for the sake of Narrative.]

They proceed down the cramped passage and come out into a large room. The floor has been built up so it is above the water level. Short wooden steps lead up out of the water, and a large carpet has been spread out on which to dry ones feet. There are many wooden screens and partitions about, evidently used to subdivide the large chamber and create a sense of privacy for its inhabitants. Along with the more mundane furnishings, there is a large laboratory setup against the far wall. Four ornate coffins mark this as the vampires' lair.

But it is the state of the place which arrests their attention. A terrible battle has evidently taken place here quite recently. Furniture is smashed, coffins are overturned, the lab is a pile of broken glass and bent copper. There are scorch marks here and there about the room, and strange stains and pitting from some sort of acid. A human woman's corpse lies pinned beneath one of the upset coffins. Her head sits several feet away. Of the other three vampires, only dust and bone remain, scattered throughout the room as if they'd been torn limb from limb. Some of the bones have been partly melted or dissolved.

"NOOOOOOO!" screams Fr. Rochouart. "This can't be possible. It should have been us to destroy the vampires! It should have been US!"

"Um, does it matter?" asks Miolla, "At least if Neldir killed them they can't hurt other people any more. And they're not on his side."

Father Rochouart quickly regains his composure. "But if he's killed them," he says through gritted teeth, "that means that he's gotten what he came here to find: the vampires' blood."

"But what's he want it for?" asks Worland.

"I know not," replies the cleric, "but I fear it is for a purpose so dark that even the vampires sought to prevent it."

"Yeah, about that," says Lycinia hesitantly, "I'm afraid I might know the answer..."

(adventure continues here)


  1. Well they still have to get out of here, don't they? . . . and that isn't even the cliffhanger that you've ended with, is it?

    -- Jeff

  2. In truth, it's just a good place to break up the narrative. The actual play session ended out of the dungeon and about 20 hexes away!

  3. Right . . . just before Lycinia reveals what she knows/suspects.

    -- Jeff