Setup: 5, Into dungeon
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
threads: find Neldir & the book
recover fallen thieves' bodies
remove zuhal's curse
Once again the party descends into the dungeon. Lycinia is in the lead with a torch, Firdeth brings up the rear with her lantern. Aldira admits that she has only vague memories of her first foray underground, which her long illness seems to have obliterated [a convenient excuse to keep going with the totally random dungeon generation].
They descend the staircase to the entrance chamber [room 1] which is empty save for the general rubbish on the floor. Even the stirges they killed are gone now -- hopefully eaten and not risen from the dead.
They open the north door to find another room [room 9]. There are definite signs that a battle took place within; mouldering corpses lie strewn about, having been hacked at and beaten. They are mostly human though one (possibly two?) appear to have been dwarves. Aldira shudders. "This is where those festering zombies attacked us," she says.
Opening the sole door in the northern wall reveals another nearly-empty room [room 10]. An immense ornamental sarcophagus carved from black granite sits alone in the middle of the débris-strewn floor. It's lid lies beside it in two pieces, and has obviously been there for some time. Lycinia very carefully peers over the edge with her torch, sword poised to strike. But the sarcophagus' inhabitant has also been away for some time. Dust and scraps and filthy linen are all that remain within. Images of saints and holy creatures once adorned the sides, but these appear to have been deliberately defaced.
Going through the eastern door, the party follows the corridor a short distance until they see a set of stairs going down. They decide to finish their exploration of this level before venturing deeper, and return [to room 10] to try the other door.
The door reveal a north-south passage, which after only 30' doubles back on itself (135°). [a trap was indicated: Arrow trap, 1-3 arrows. This is also the where the X on the graph paper indicated the body of the Aldira's fallen comrade, Penelope (Ftr0, 91CP in purse). So...
Q: Is the body still there? 50/50: 15, Yes.
Q: Was she killed by the trap? 50/50: 34, Yes.
Q: Do PCs notice the arrows? Likely: 07, exceptional Yes. They also notice the holes in the wall from which they fire.]
"Poor Nell," mutters Aldira heavily, "when those things attacked she panicked and ran. We heard her screams echoing... and then stop."
"She's been lying there for... what, a month?" says Lycinia. "Aldira, you might not want to see this."
Aldira, Debinvarr, and Firdeth go back into the sarcophagus room. Miolla uses the rope and grappling hook to drag Penelope's body off the pressure plate, carefully so as not to set off the trap again. She and Théscine gingerly wrap it in the blanket they'd brought. They rejoin their friends, and proceed to drag the body back towards the exit.
Unfortunately the noise attracts attention. As they are about to ascend the stairs to the surface, six long, skink-like lizard things dart out of the darkness [skinklings]. The man-sized creatures have atrophied rear legs, and propel themselves forward with their powerful arms. Their slick, scaly hides are a dull green with light blue-tinged striations. They appear intelligent, and make a coordinated attack. One nearly bites Debinvarr's leg off [7 damage, reducing him to -2]; Aldira and Théscine suffer minor wounds as well. Then Aldira uses her magic to put four of them to sleep. The remaining two are cornered, and though they fight ferociously [Firdeth is hit for 3], they are soon vanquished.
On their return to the surface, Brother Mundlo uses his curative spells on Debinvarr and Firdeth. Lycinia and Miolla once again find themselves digging a grave. That evening Aldira's friend is laid to rest.
The next day they return to the dungeon. The entrance chamber hasn't been disturbed; the bodies of the enormous skinks still lie where they fell. Going east into the next chamber [room 2], they try the door in the north wall; the space beyond is a mere closet, containing the splintered remains of old barrels. From the smell of it, there was some moderately nice wine stored within. The PCs find it disappointing that it's all long since been spilt, but refreshing to finally smell something in the dungeon that does not reek of corruption and decay.
The continue east to the room with the obelisk [room 8] where they first encountered the festering ones, intent on trying the heretofore unopened door in the northern wall. They don't even look into the corner where the obelisk stands on its dais, afraid to see if it has been uncovered.
Beyond the door is a short(ish) passageway ending in another door, which opens into a 40x40' room [room 11]. The walls are covered in decaying and mould-ridden plaster, that once bore al fresco murals depicting the lives of a saint or saints. A ruined wooden bench sits in the middle, where admirers once sat in quiet contemplation of the colourful images. Two doors are set into the north wall, flanking a small alcove. Another door leads to the west.
[room contents: treasure - 750sp contained in bags. Protected by: trapdoor.
Q: Do 1d6 PCs fall in? Likely: 99, Exceptional No + event. PC Positive Fight Illness - Debinvarr; he finds scroll of Cure Disease]
In the alcove are a few cloth bags. The torchlight reveals glint of silver; they're full of coins. As the party approaches, Debinvarr calls out to stop. He points to the discoloured stones on the floor, which are carved to resemble the rest of the paving stones but are in reality a large, single piece: the cover of a concealed trapdoor. Skirting the edge of it, he is able to reach the bags of coins and toss them over to his compatriots. Underneath them he finds a scroll case. He opens it to examine the parchment inside, but with all his magical training [casts Read Magic] he finds it is still indecipherable. He puts it in his pack, intending to see if Brother Mundlo can make any sense of it later.
Beyond the northern doors is a 30x30' square chamber with a giant spiral stair in the centre, leading down into a dusty room or landing. The PCs decide to leave this for later.
Leaving from the western door [in room 11] the party walks down a straight passageway, Lycina and Miolla in the lead as usual. Suddenly, they feel the floor slightly sink underneath their footsteps, and a dozen rusty spears dart out from the walls at them. Fortunately, neither are hit [+6att, roll 3,3], and the spears retract back into the walls. Scouting ahead a little reveals that the passage dead ends. They leap back over the pressure plate, and everyone goes back to the mural room [room 11].
After a few moments deliberation, they all agree that they are overwhelmed with curiosity at the grand staircase in the next room, and decide to proceed downwards.
There is a narrow, dusty landing at the bottom of the stairs. A corroded metal door leads south, its locking mechanism long-since rusted away to nothing.
The long, narrow room [room I; inset map] beyond is evidently a tomb. a double row of columns supports the ceiling. The floor is dusty, and arrayed with rude pottery and low clay bowls heaped with antique coins of copper and silver.
At the far end of the room is a dais. Two skeletal corpses are enthroned upon the dais in huge stone chairs, made to hold them upright. Dried flesh and hair still cling to the bones, and they are dressed in once-fine linen robes. Their gold jewellery sparkles in the flickering torchlight.
Layed out before them on the floor are four human skeletons. Each has been decapitated; the skulls have been deliberately placed atop the rib cages. A wickedly curved knife or small sword lies next to each. The whole scene gives off a decidedly pagan aura, as if the interment took place some time after the monastery fell into ruin.
As the party deliberate how best to remove all the coinage, the skeletons on the floor begin to stir. They slowly pick themselves up, put their skulls back atop their necks, and take up the sacrificial blades. Then the two skeletal bodies leap forward from their thrones, chattering gibbering, and shrieking.
[4 normal skeletons with long knives (treat as shortswords), 2 chattering bones. Despite their elevated chance of surprise, the PCs are not caught off guard, though the monsters do win the initiative.
Miolla and Lycinia are closest to the chattering things, which come at them with claw-like fingers. One of them leaves a nasty gash on Lycinia's neck [4 damage, bringing her to 8hp]. She feels an odd power radiate from its fingers, but shrugs it off [her save vs. spells succeeds]. One of the skeleton attendants nearly splits Théscine's skull open with its curved blade [3 damage, leaving her at 1hp], whilst Aldira gets her rapier between two of her assailant's ribs, splintering most of the ribcage [6 damage, leaving it with 2hp], and Miolla lands a crushing blow on a chatterer's shoulder [9 damage, bringing it to 7], but no one drops out of the fight.
Miolla feels the claws of the babbling creature just pierce her armour [1 point of damage], and is unnerved for a moment by a strange feeling [makes her save]. Debinvarr parries poorly, and his opponent's blade contacts his shoulder [1 point of damage]. Firdeth does not parry at all, and the curved blade slices across her abdomen [5 damage, leaving her with only 2hp]. Miolla swings with all her might; her mace shatters ribs, and pushes through to pulverise vertebrae. The corpse falls to the ground like a rag doll and is silent and still. Lycinia only manages a glancing blow on the other babbler [5 damage, dropping it to 13]. Aldira finishes off her opponent with another deft swing of her rapier [6 damage]. The mysterious elven blade sings in Théscine's hand as it cleaves through the skeleton she faces, bringing it low [8 damage].
The gibbering corpse changes tactics, and slams its fists into Lycinia. Her chainmail absorbs most of the blow [1 damage, bringing her to 7], but the creature's aura causes her to come completely unhinged [failed saving throw; she suffer the effects of Confusion (as the spell) for 4 rounds]. Debinvarr suffers another wound [3 damage, 2hp left], but Firdeth, fighting defensively [Defensive Fighting: +2 AC bonus, -4 attack] turns aside every blow. Aldira turns to face Debinvarr's opponent, but only damages it slightly [2 damage, down to 5hp]. Lycinia raises her sword, laughs, and starts to wander off amongst the pottery. Miolla steps in to fight the babbling thing that so affected her friend, but it sidesteps her every swing.
The gibbering fiend lunges at Miolla as she is bringing her mace to bear, and claws rake down her thigh [2 damage, leaving her at 5hp]. Its unholy aura overcomes her mind, and she stands there, stock-still with her mace poised as if to strike, and begins babbling along with the creature. Lycinia briefly recovers her sanity, and charges at the creature that stole it (and Miolla's). She barely connects, though the force of the charge off-balances the thing somewhat [(roll 1+ str adj. 1)x2(charging)=4 damage; it has 9hp left]. Aldira and Debinvarr fight side-by-side; as one parries the skeleton's blade, the other slashes at its limbs. It is soon out of the fight [Aldira technically is the one who hits, doing 6 damage].
The chattering monstrosity flails wildly at Lycinia again, pummelling her chest hard enough to crack ribs [3 damage, leaving her with 4hp]. Lycinia and Miolla feel the mad rage well up inside, and turn on their tormentor. Lycinia's sword stroke slices through its side as Miolla's upward swing withthe mace sends its skull sailing across the room, silencing it for good. And Aldira is a skeleton killing machine! She turns to attack the skeleton fighting Firdeth, and cuts its spine in two with a single fluid stroke [6 damage]. Lifeless bones scatter at her feet.
All the undead have been destroyed, but for Miolla and Lycinia, the battle still rages. The two circle each other for a moment, then, wild-eyed and screaming, go in for the kill. The din of sword crashing against mace resounds throughout the tomb. Their companions look on helplessly, afraid to intervene between their two most formidable friends. Slowly Lycinia shakes off the madness, as she and Miolla stare each other down. Not long after, Miolla is once again herself.
Now that the danger has passed, the party goes back to loading the treasure into their packs and some extra sacks. Lycinia and Miolla loot the (fragmentary) bodies of the chattering things, which which glitter with gold and jewels.
Théscine is sorely injured, and decides she should drink one of the healing potions they bough on the road, in case they meet anything else on the trip back to the surface. The 'potion' turns out to be nothing more than coloured water -- as do the other four.
The party creeps back out of the dungeon and returns to their camp to look over the spoils. In total they have found:
950SP (200 from the tomb, 750 in bags from the mural room)
a gold fibula in the shape of a wild boar's head (400 sp)
a simple gold ring set with lapis lazuli studs (300 sp)
a wrought gold coronet with a knotwork pattern (200sp)
2 beaten gold medallions with filigree and floral-pattern designs, one crushed a bit flat by someone's mace, though I'm not naming any names here (value 700sp & 500sp)
Debinvarr gives the scroll he discovered to Brother Mundlo, who confirms that it contains a prayer against disease.
1st edition DMG appendix A, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... except for Table V.F.: Chamber or Room contents. 1-12 on a d20 gets you an empty room. Mapping is fun and all, which is why I'm doing this with pencil and graph paper, but 60% of rooms being empty does not a good game make. Ever since I was a kid I've been rolling 1d12+8 on this table, and 10-14 is Monster Only. There are still some empty rooms, but they don't take over the map. And I try to find some way to make them interesting (vide supra). Except for 10x10 rooms, which usually end up as closets.
Treasure: I'm still using B/X treasure types, but generally dividing the number of coins by 10, and demoting coins from gold to silver, silver to copper, etc. to account for LotFP's silver standard. I should probably just make my own treasure tables, but for bigger hoards it's nice to use online generators. Mithril & Mages has a convenient B/X & LL treasure generator, which is perfect for gems but the jewellery is a little un-inspiring. For instance, in the tomb, the treasure was generated thusly:
Treasure Type C (HC XX)
Jewelry: (5): Clasp-400 gp, Medallion-500 gp, Medallion-700 gp, Ring-300 gp, Coronet-200gp. Total Value: 2100 gp.
I'm having fun coming up with nice descriptions, but it's a little time consuming.