Six days later the hardy band descend once again into the Vile Vaults of Valistraktis. They [blah blah blah, eventually going north from room 11 to room 13]
The large chamber [Room 13 - treasure only] holds little of interest, save a small iron coffer sitting on a low stone bench. Nol produces a set of tools from his backpack, and Friar Falon holds the lantern close so he can work. As he is digging around with his picks, a needle shoots out from the lock, glistening with a poisonous crystalline residue. Nol is fortunate [save vs. poison succeeds on a 19] that the needle didn't quite puncture his skin. But his best efforts come to nought. In the end, Pseltus opens it by applying his crowbar. Inside are 92 silver coins, stamped with the image of an ancient general -- one that famously did not become emperor. Insensible to the obvious historic importance of the coins, our heroes divide them up into their purses and continue their expedition of plunder.
Exiting the chamber leads to a crossroads [B] at which they turn [towards C]. They make right for an opening at the end of the passage, oblivious to the danger ahead, and without noticing the secret door which would save them from harm. The halves of the false floor over the pit swing open on their hinges. Bonnart just manages to step back onto solid ground [saves vs. Paralyse], but Pseltus is too slow, and tumbles down 10'. His pride is hurt more than anything else [2 damage puts him at 7hp], but he gives vent to his fury with a tirade of curses at which I should blanch, were I to see it in print, and thus I shall spare you, the readers, a full description of such loathsomeness. Friar Falon bids him hold his tongue; not that he isn't a man of the world (as he says), but rather the volume is sure to attract the attentions of any monsters which might happen to be wandering by. A suitably-chastened Pseltus is speedily hauled up by his companions, who brought plenty of rope for just such an eventuality.
Now that the pit is opened, the secret door is easily spotted by Nol. The party proceed into the large round chamber with the pool and islet [room 3 - not restocked]. They see the bloated remains of something horrid floating in the pool, and peering across can just make out the chest on the islet, standing open and apparently empty. No one is willing to risk getting wet for a (probably) empty chest, so they continue on.
The fountain room [room 4 - not restocked] is full of splintered bones and rusted swords. Everyone halts in the doorway, waiting for the skeletons to assemble and animate, but the bones are dusty and still. [Q: Does anyone drink from the fountain? No.]
Leaving by one of the doors, they go down a long passage which seems to dead end [M]. But the sharp-eyed elf notices a slight dissimilarity in the stones of the wall. Pushing against it causes a section the wall to swing outward, a secret door into the passage beyond. It stretches off into the darkness in both directions, so they proceed to the right.
At length they come to a chamber full of roaring flames [Room 5], shooting out from the floor, ceiling, and walls. Nol studies the pattern of the gouts of fire, and thinks he sees a way through. "There must," he opines, "be treasure beyond." If he can time it just right... The others agree to let him try, and offer him the lion's share of any riches he finds beyond in recompense for his daring.
He sprints around the shooting flames, and almost makes it unscathed [fails his save vs. breath weapon]. He receives a nasty burn from the fire [1d6= 6 damage, dropping him to 1hp], but he is through to the other side.
"Well," he thinks with forced cheer, "at least I don't have to worry about lighting this torch, now."
He proceeds quietly down the passageway (though the torch will give him away to anything looking his direction). He narrowly avoids another pit trap [N - trick/trap: spiked pit; N saves vs paralyzation], and at last comes to a large open chamber.
The room [Room 14 - monster & environment & treasure] is filled from wall to wall with a thick, brown, gloopy sludge [environment - sludge: halves movement rate]. But the light from his torch glints off something in one corner -- a stout chest with brass fittings sits partially obscured in the sludge.
As Nol is sloshing towards the chest, the sludge begins to quiver around him. Six humanoid shapes rise out of the muck, living agglomerations of the very filth in which they live.
AC: 13, HD 1, Move: 60', fists: 1d4, ML: 8 #appearing: 1d8
sludge attack (save vs. paralyse or movement rate halved, attacks at -2), immune to missiles
[Round 1 - no surprise, monsters win initiative, Nol fails his saving throw]
The creatures throw huge globs of sticky sludge at Nol, who is hampered by the filthy substance. He turns to flee, but is quickly overpowered, and dragged down into the pool of muck.
. . .
The rest of the party waits for a while, and it is soon apparent that their comrade has run into trouble [they wait 1 turn (10 minutes); no random encounters]. After deliberating for a few moments [Q: Does anyone decide to go after him? Yes], Tirnéal and Bonnart volunteer to brave the flames and mount a rescue.
The pair dash through the flames, but both come out the other side quite singed [failed saves, 3 damage each; B 6hp, T 2hp left]. They go down the corridor, easily skirting the yawning pit, and come to the sludge room. Nol is nowhere to be seen. When the creatures rise from the glop, both man and elf intuit their comrade's end, and flee back down the corridor to avoid a similar fate.
[no surprise, PCs win initiative. Chases are handled by rolling 1d20+(movement rate/10). The PCs get 1d20+9 vs. the sludge people's 1d20+6.]
Tirnéal sprints away from the hideous things, but two of them nearly overtake Bonnart. They grab for him with their slimy hands, but cannot hold the warrior [attacks miss]. Both man and elf dash back through the flames, and the monsters fortunately do not follow them. Bonnart is once again scorched by the traverse [3 damage drops him to 3 hp], but the agile Tirnéal manages to avoid harm.
Battered, bruised, and burnt, and with their spirits dampened further by the loss of one of their number, they decide that once again it were more prudent to leave the Vaults and regain their strength before continuing their exploration.
They make it back to the village without incident, and hole up in the inn for 4 days whilst they heal. They decide a replacement party member is in order, but they aren't inclined to recruit just anyone from amongst the peasants. [Q: Can they find a replacement? Yes. - random 1st level PC] Fortunately, on the third day, a wandering mage comes through on her way to the city. Seduced by their tale of danger and treasure, she readily joins with them, intent on discovering the magical secrets reputed to be hidden within the infamous Vaults.
Magic-User, Level 1, female
Cha 11 Con 15 Dex 8 Int 13 Str 10 Wis 6
Hit Points: 5
Equipment: backpack, 4sp
Spellbook: Read Magic, Spider Climb, Hold Portal, Light
Rested and recovered, and with their number replenished, they once again proceed into the Vile Vaults. [Fast forward to something interesting... The PCs go east to [A], south to [D], north to [E], without incident/encounter/interest. When they reach [G], a random encounter is indicated: 1 bandit. Reaction=9. (1d6=m) He came from (d6): 1-2 room 10, 4-6 point H; 3=H.
Q: Does he have friends on lower level? Yes
Q: Was there some sort of disaster? Yes - 3 zombies
Q: Does he want the PCs to help fight them? Yes.]
A torch is seen flickering in the corridor up ahead [G]. The torch's owner stops suddenly, and looks as if he is about to run off, but decides against it, and instead calls out a greeting.
"Well met! I thought for a moment you were a pack of monsters."
"Lucky for you, friend, that we aren't," says Bonnart, eyeing the man's shabby leather armour and dented shortsword. "What brings you to this place, all alone?"
"I wasn't alone until just now," he replies, staring at his feet. "My friend and I thought to explore deeper within these ancient halls in search of their hidden riches. And I mistook Alcam's foolhardy boasting for true bravery. We descended to the next level, and were set upon by a trio of the walking dead! They slew him at once with their dead, punishing fists. I panicked and ran. It is shameful to relate, but 'twould be even more so were I to fail to ask your help in recovering Alcam's body..."
His voice trails off, as his resolve wavers at the thought of confronting the angry dead once more. But the cleric speaks up boldly. "I would consider it our duty to assist you, fellow treasure hunter. For there, but by the Grace of Heaven, go we!"
The others nod their assent; for it would be foolish to dissemble in front of the man whose god they hope shall erase their injuries!
The bandit leads the way with his torch, down the ornate staircase, and deeper into the Vaults. [The bandits made it (1d4=) 1 room past the stairs. The first things I rolled for the second dungeon level were 'corridor continues 60 feet' and then wandering monster. I decided this would be the zombies in (plodding) pursuit.]
As they proceed down the long, wide corridor, a trio of shambling corpses come into view at the edge of the torchlight [A], moving relentlessly towards them, arms outstretched. The battle is short [3 rounds] and furious, but in the end the three cadavers have been hacked to pieces, and only Pseltus has received a terrible wound [at 0hp]. Friar Falon prays over the injured warrior, and the divine radiance infuses his limbs, making him once again hale and hearty -- perhaps in recompense for his earlier honesty! [1d6+1=7hp restored]
The bandit leads them on to the small room where his friend was felled by the mindless dead [room 2.1 - monster only (now empty)]. He wishes no more than to take his friend's body out of this place, and never return. The party wish him godspeed, and intend to press onwards. They continue down the wide corridor [west from B], which empties out in to a long chamber.
The chamber [Room 2.2 - trick/trap] is mostly bare, save the wall covered entirely in inlaid and gilt mosaics opposite the entrance, which even at this distance glint in the lantern light. Curious to see if it contains any clues about the layout or contents of the Vaults, the party advance to examine it. But the floor suddenly drops out from beneath their feet, depositing them all in a perfectly smooth chute [trick/trap: Chute down 1 level (cannot be ascended in any manner)]. They slide rapidly downwards and out a hole in the ceiling...
[room 3.1 - circular; abt.2700 square feet; has a pool
Q: Are the PCs dumped directly into the pool? Yes
Q: Is it deep? Yes.
What kind of pool is it (on the pool table)? Magical pool! Turns silver to gold once only.]
...and dumps them right into a deep pool of brackish water. Their light sources are suddenly extinguished, and all but the two wizards must struggle with the weight of their heavy chain armour. [As it's a deep pool , they take no falling damage, but everyone in chain must save vs paralyse to get the armour off. Each failure accrues 1-4 damage; if the damage reduces to anyone to 0hp, they have drowned. Those who survive recover 1hp/minute of this damage.]
Sitting in the dark at the edge of the pool, Gweni ignores the screaming and splashing and uses her magic to create a ball of light to illuminate the room. Yastrax follows suit, using his own magic to summon an Unseen Servant, whom he commands to find a lantern and some oil and as many torches as possible. Whilst he lays them out to dry off a bit, the others pull themselves from the pool -- all except for the cleric, who has been pulled to the bottom by the weight of his heavy mail coat. The two fighters dive back in to rescue him, but it is too late.
Yastrax orders his magical servant to retrieve the rest of their equipment from the pool whilst the rest of them lay out the body of the unfortunate friar. They realise they must leave him here for the time being, but they decide to redistribute the useful items in his pack, as they may need them.
It is then that they make a wondrous discovery: all their silver coins have become gold! Truly strange are the vicissitudes of fortune occasioned by their fall into the enchanted pool.
The lantern seems to be out of commission for now, but Yastrax manages to get one of the torches lit. Hopefully they will regain the surface before its light gives out. Gweni's spell has nearly run its course by the time they are once again equipped. There is only one exit to this room (even the chute has closed), so they make their sodden way down the passage.
At the end of the passage is a small chamber [Room 3.2 - monster & treasure] of dressed stone with a door on one wall, still shut though the bar across it lies splintered on the ground. Three human corpses lie in the middle of the chamber, in the remains of rusted mail coats. They begin to stir when the torch light plays over them, and rise to do battle with the living.
AC: 15, HD: 3, Move: 90', claws: 1d6, ML: 12, #appearing: 1d6
[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
The gruesome, rotted corpses advance as the party ready their weapons to strike. Yastrax's sword knocks the remains of a nose from one's face [1 damage puts it at 19hp]. Tirnéal's spear bites deep into another, tearing through rusted chain and decayed flesh [5 damage drops it to 10hp]. Only Yastrax is injured in the first counter attack, as the remains of a steel gauntlet smash into his shoulder [2 damage puts the hearty wizard at 5hp].
A flurry of furious fighting ensues. Bonnart lays in to the lead corpse-thing with his sword [4 damage puts it at 15hp], barely commanding its notice. Pseltus fares somewhat better, inflicting a solid hit on his foe [4 damage drops it to 8hp]. Gweni smashes hers in the side of the head, but its rusty chain coif keeps her blade from splitting the grinning, maggoty skull beneath [3 damage leaves it with 7hp]. Pseltus receives a glancing blow from a mailed fist [2 damage drops him to 5hp], Gweni is clawed by bony fingers [2 damage leaves her at 3hp], and Yastrax is staggered by another blow from the steel gauntlet [2 damage leaves him at 3hp].
[Rounds 3 & 4]
Tirnéal's spear transfixes his enemy's rotten chest [3 damage], and as it struggles free, Gweni delivers a powerful overhand blow, crushing its skull and sending rusted links of chain flying [8 more damage destroys it]. Pseltus removes the arm of his foe, but it continues to fight, undaunted [5 damage leave it with 3hp].
With its arm out of the way, Pseltus is able to cut right through the weakly-armoured side, bursting rotten ribs and dropping the creature to the ground [5 damage destroys it].
[Rounds 6 & 7]
The last corpse thing is no match for the heroes. Tirnéal and Gweni team up again, and she does tremendous damage as the elf's spear holds the opponent at bay. But it is Yastrax who strikes the final blow, sending the things head rolling across the flagstones.
Once they are certain the bodies will rise no more, the party search them and the things around them on the floor. All the cloth, wood, and leather they once carried is rotten. Their swords and armour are useless, and even their belt buckles and the fittings on their backpacks have rusted through. It seems before their deaths they too had been deposited in the pool. Sadly, they were carrying no silver to turn to gold, nor indeed wealth of any other kind [Treasure Type B: all the rolls save for magic items came up zilch]. But inside a mouldy quiver three arrows gleam bright and new [+2 arrows]. Yastrax is sure they must bear a strong enchantment, and puts them in his own quiver. When they are out of this place, perhaps the elf will buy a nice bow to go with them.
With this chilling reminder of what might happen to them if they tarry too long, they open the door at once and proceed down the corridor. As they near the corner [A - wandering monster], they are Surprised by two awful phantoms flying round the bend, trailing a dark mist in their wake.
AC: 16, HD: 5, Move: 120', claws: 1d10, ML: 12, #appearing: 1d2
flight (move 180'), humans slain rise as undead (stats: see monsters in room 3.2)
One of them reaches out for Pseltus with its terrible claws. He blanches as it touches him, and falls senseless to the floor [6 damage drops him to -1hp].
[Round 1 - PCs win initiative]
The other awful thing touches Bonnart. A sickly cast comes over his features, but he shakes it off to fight on [4 damage leaves him with 2hp].
[Rounds 2 & 3]
Yastrax's sword swings through the larger phantom, disrupting its form and sending billows of mist swirling from the 'wound' [8 damage puts it at 25hp]. Gweni inflicts a similar 'injury' on the smaller one [4 damage leaves it with 15hp]. Tirnéal gets too close, and the phantom's bony fingers sweep across his face, causing the elf to wither and collapse [10 damage drops him to -5hp, dead].
Gweni doubles over as the phantom strikes her, dropping her sword, and moments later falling over in a heap atop it [4 damage puts her at -1hp].
Yastrax feels the life drain from his limbs at the caress of the awful phantom. He drops to the ground as his life ebbs away [6 damage puts him at -3hp].
Bonnart now faces both phantoms alone. He fights like one possessed, but in the end they surround him in their cold embrace.
- - -
And so a third party of adventurers was rolled up...