Sunday, 18 November 2018

LotFP Solo - Part the Sixty-first: „Wenn ich unter traurenden Ruinen“

In the bottom of the central shaft of the ruined tower there is a small anteroom. Within the dark little cell yawns a deep well leading down, down below the very foundations of the tower to the castle dungeons. A ladder of recent construction sits in the well. There is no doubt but that the evil Jola is somewhere to be found at the bottom.

Lycinia packs her unloaded pistol into her backpack. Ruprecht goes outside of the tower to discharge his arquebus into the ground (lest it be turned against them), and leaves it propped in an out-of-the way alcove for later retrieval. All eyes are on Thiery, who insists on having his pistols at the ready. Manfred protests that his ears are still ringing for their earlier battle -- and that in a place exposed to the air -- but Thiery proves intractable. No one wants to start an argument at the entrance to the dungeon, so the matter drops.

[Next scene: find Jola in the dungeon
CRGE: 'to conflict'

The dungeon was run with the DMG Appendix A. To simulate the dungeon being explored and partly cleared by Jola & friends, for each room the PCs discover I'll roll 1d20 for the room contents. Any results of 1-12 (empty) will be re-rolled on the 1d12+8 I usually use to see what had been there before. A Special result indicates that Jola and the aforementioned unopenable door has been found. Any treasures from the previously cleared rooms will be in the special room as well. The first level of the dungeon is DL 3 for purposes of random encounters etc.]

Oswold's lantern is lit, and lowered down on the end of a rope, which is just long enough to set it on the floor of the room below [Room I: empty - empty]. Lycinia volunteers to go down first. The ladder wobbles but is otherwise sturdy. One by one her companions join her at the bottom.

Four corridors lead away from the bottom of the shaft in all directions. There are two iron-framed doors as well, though one of these appears to be partly rusted shut. As the other shows signs of recent use -- powdered rust around it on the floor -- the party decide to check behind it.

It opens into a long, dark corridor.

"I'll go first," says Thiery. "There could be traps."

He proceeds at a slow walk, and makes a big show of looking round at the floor and ceilings, but no one is quite sure how effectively. Manfred would prefer to trust Lycinia's elven senses to detect any danger ahead, but he holds his tongue; he wouldn't be half sorry to see Thiery -- that is, SIR Thiery -- fall into a spiked pit or somesuch.

There is another door at the end of the corridor. Thiery pronounces it 'clear' and nudges it gingerly open with his foot.

The room beyond [Room II - Treasure only] is an enormous triangular chamber. Most of the centre of the chamber is made up of a pile of rotting wood, the remains of costly furnishings. The walls are covered floor to ceiling in stone carvings done in high relief, which unaccountably for a wizard's tomb seem to be scenes from the lives of the saints. The carvings continue down a passage leading out of the room, but this dead-ends in a small carven chapel.

The party examine the reliefs carefully, hoping to find some hidden meaning, but Brichtrethe assures them that the scenes are all correct and entirely conventional. Thiery does make one interesting discovery: inside the broken head of a monk, someone has concealed 15 gold coins [Treasure - inside item in plain view; 5gp x DL, per the (value-adjusted) unguarded Appendix A treasure table]. The coins bear the stamp of the current King, so whoever concealed them here did so recently.

Lycinia makes an interesting discovery of her own: the carved 'altar' is actually a secret door. Beyond the door is another chamber, much plainer than then one they've just left [Room III : empty - trick/trap]. In the southeast corner there is an open trapdoor, which had been painted to resemble the stone floor. The pit it reveals is deep enough that the lamplight does not shew the bottom [Chute down 1 level (cannot be ascended in any manner].

A long corridor leads out of the room, and crosses the entry shaft. They continue straight through it, and wind up in a maze of twisty passages, all alike. After an age of cautious advance, they come upon a large chamber [Room IV - empty (was: monster & treasure - 5 thouls)] which is heaped high with rubbish, splintered wood, and broken bits of masonry, forming a stinking warren of cramped passages through the space. A pair of disfigured, oozing corpses, both partially burnt, are visible down the first 'passage' into the den. No one is particularly interested in rooting through filth, so they pass it by.

It is clear that Jola's party have already explored this way, so our heroes spend less time examining the already-picked-over surroundings in favour of seeking out the witch.

The next room they come through appears to be a great dining hall [Room V - trap]. But this hall was made for the dead to feast, not the living. The great stone table and chairs seem to have been carved right out of the floor, and the food and drink piled high upon the table is all made of painted clay.

[1d6=] Brichtrethe triggers a hidden trap, and is scorched by a lance of fire [failed save vs. magic, 2d6=6 damage, leaving her with 13hp], but she shrugs it off.

The corridor leading out ends in another room [room VI - empty - empty] done up in much the same style as the dining hall, but resembling a well-stocked larder.

There was a door they had passed on the way to the dining hall, and they pause to investigate it on their way back. Thiery examines it, and finds it innocuous, but has a hard time pulling it open. Lycinia steps in and gives the handle a mighty pull [Trap - falling door, save vs. Petrification or suffer 1d10 damage]. The heavy door pivots from the bottom and falls over on her. With consummate grace [natural 20] she springs aside, and the false door crashes to the stone floor unimpeded. Thiery pretends not to notice the elf's glacial stare.

Brichtrethe bids them remember their mission, and they press onward. A pit opening up in the midst of a corridor necessitates some backtracking and a detour, but luckily Thiery, still in the lead, did not fall in [saved vs. Petrification]. Nor was he pushed.

At length they find another chamber [Room VII - empty - monster], which was once the lair of three cow-sized reptilian horrors. These now lie dead amongst the filth in which they made their lair.

In the next room [Room VIII - empty - was monster&treasure (shadows)] they find nothing save an empty stone coffer, in front of which a once-concealed trapdoor lies open. The adjoining room is [Room IX - empty - empty] given over to an ornamental fountain which has long since dried up, but is otherwise empty.

The door on the far wall opens into a long chamber with a high vaulted ceiling [Room X - monster & treasure]. Eight square stone columns are arranged in a diamond pattern in the chamber's centre. Suspended between them on chains of some unknown metal is the skin of some fantastic, green-scaled beast.

Several brightly-burning lanterns are placed on wooden crates around the room, and there is a makeshift table covered with parchment, quills, and ink. Three young wizards are examining the monster skin as the party enter the room, and don't even look up as they approach, so completely are they absorbed in their work. They have clearly been here for some time. Their robes are dirty and torn in places, and the young man's is missing a sleeve. A yellowing bandage is wrapped round his sleeveless upper arm. One of the young women has a fresh black eye. The other seems whole, but lacks shoes.

"Salvete," says Lycinia in the ancient tongue, and the young wizards all look up in surprise.

[I rolled Medium on the encounter table:

                CH CN DX IN ST WI HP
Gevléarna mu1 f  8 11  7 14 10  6  4
Zandevine mu1 f  7 10 11 15  7 11  6
Thranxar  mu3 m  9 12  7 14  7  9 10

treasure: 49GP, monster skin: 250#, worth 200sp

G- read magic
Z- summon
T- unseen servant, faerie fire, stinking cloud

Q: Are they studying the monster skin in situ? 62, yes - surge 6

Reaction roll=8
UNE: sociable
scheming-plot-current scene]

"S-salvete," says the young man. "Qui sitis? Quid huc advenistis?"

"Vos idem rogo," replies Lycinia.

"What are they saying?" asks Thiery in a stage whisper.

"You have us at a distinct disadvantage," says the young man, "for we are unarmed and outnumbered."

"Then perhaps you had better answer the elf's question," says Brichtrethe, pointing for emphasis with her heavy mace.

"Very well. I am Thranxar, this is Gevléarna and Zandevine. We are, as you have no doubt surmised, wizards from the guild at Ildmarch, or, I should say, still apprentices."

"Apprentices?" asks Lycinia. "To whom? Anyone I know?"

"Both Gevléarna and I are under the tutelage of Dvooram-Pem, Grand Master of the Five-fold Mysteries. Zandevine studies under Arraioth Star-Seer."

"And what does the guild want with this place?" demands Brichtrethe.

"N-nothing. I dare say there are none who know it's here -- right here under our noses all this time. We three were on an errand for our masters when we heard a rumour that the lost tomb of Hasshdilaz had been found. And so we took a small detour on our way back to Ildmarch, hoping to confirm that the rumour were true, and that we might win some small praise for our initiative in so doing. But when we got here, we found we weren't the first. Jola... is the worst sort of magician. She's been driven quite mad by studying the Forbidden Arts -- you've only to look at her to see it! She used her wicked spells to enslave one of the warriors sent with us. And the other just sort of disappeared. She puts us to work, trying to solve the mystery of the stone door. It's well beyond us -- it may be beyond her. When she tires of our failure, she sends us here to study this old carcass. Sometimes she summons us back, and we fail again, and... well, you see what we're reduced to."

"Does she have any weaknesses, this witch?" asks Brichtrethe.

"She's a very powerful magician. She can ensnare the mind and wrack the body. She shows no weakness..."

"Help us to defeat her!" says Brichtrethe. [reaction roll:2d6-1(CHA penalty)=7,neutral.]

"Please, we are too weak to move against her. And if you cannot best her, we would suffer all the more for having aided you. Please, all we want is to live through this and go back to the guild and our masters."

After brief deliberation, it is decided to leave the poor apprentices in peace, and to come back for them once Jola and her henchmen have been defeated.

[Q: Is it a trap? 23-6=no, surge 8]

Back through the labyrinthine passages go the party. When they reach the shaft, they hear a distinct sound of footsteps coming up one of the unexplored corridors to meet them.

[wandering monster:
4 living statues, crystal (AC17, HD3, Damage 1-6, Move 120', ML12, Special: rapiers and minor weapons attack at -2)

No surprise, PCs win initiative]

The party brace themselves for battle as four strange crystalline beings stride into the room. Each stands about four feet tall, and marches with a strange whirling gait on three stubby legs. They have three arms, all waving in a decidedly unfriendly manner, and above them the barest suggestion of a head.

[Round 1]
Weapons are brought immediately to bear against the malevolent crystal enemies. But although many a hit is scored, nothing damages the beings, as the weapons all clang off their solid exteriors [entire party missed]. Ruprecht takes a solid hit it the stomach from one of their small 'fists' [4 damage puts him at 6hp] and Brichtrethe's mail skirt lessens a blow to the side to almost nothing [1 damage puts her at 12hp].

[Round 2]
Again the sound of ringing metal fills the air to little effect -- save for Thiery's steel. A deft stab with his rapier sees one of the little creatures shatter [8 damage kills it]. Manfred suffers a punishing blow to the sternum [6 damage leaves him with 17hp].

[Round 3]
Lycinia manages a glancing blow which sends shards flying [3 damage], but Thiery's strike cleaves the creature in twain [7 damage kills it]. Manfred shatters the arm that so recently hit him [8 damage drops it to 3hp] and Brichtrethe's mace leaves the last with cracks running through it [5 damage puts it at 7hp].

[Round 4]
Lycinia wheels round and brings her sword down on the one fighting Manfred, smashing its 'head'. It falls and crumbles. What secret weakness has Thiery fathomed? For his rapier flashes again, and the final statue shatters, showering the floor with fragments.

As his compatriots are trying to catch their breath, Thiery merely assumes a triumphant pose, and sheathes his rapier with great panache.

"I never thought I'd be saying this," says Brichtrethe, "but you're a credit to my unit."

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