Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Scouting Party: Session V of the OSRIC Expeditionary Campaign

Scouting Party (players present):
Ailil Shadowdancer: Elf Male Assassin/Illusionist 1/1. Played by Ridh
Andros: Human (Mycenean) Female Fighter 1. Played by Aimee
Boagris: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Silv.
Ki Oman: Human (Zaman) male Assassin 1. Played by Ali
Thanatos: Human (Mycenean) Male Asassin 1. Played by Fiona
Thera: Human(Mycenean) Female Paladin 1. Played by Niall

Camp Guards (players present last session):
Euthalia: Human (Mycenean) Female Cleric 1. Played by Caroline
Glykeria: Human (Mycenean) Female Illusionist 1. Played by Elle
Thot: Half-Elf Male Magic User/Cleric 1/1. Played by Rob
Xenos: Human (Mycenean) Fighter/magic User 1/1. Played by Leoni.

Guarding the Temple:
Alexis: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Larraitz
Kallisto: Human (Mycenean) Female Fighter 1. Played by Jackie
Peliakos: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Coakley
Sparios: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Spare Character.

Because so few of the players present last week were able to make this session, we resumed events outside the cave complex: where the remainder of the party followed a clearly alarmed Shadowdancer out of the caves at full speed following the events of last-weeks cliff-hanger.

There, the party decide that they need more information concerning the layout of the caves before they commit the full expedition to further exploration. It's decided that the party's less combat worthy members should remain outside, to make camp and fish in the pool for the raw materials needed to make more food and torches. Xenos is selected by vote as the warrior type to remain behind and watch over Euthalia, Glykeria and Thot while they set about their more domestic duties. This leaves only the warriors and sneaks to explore the tunnels: the perfect scouting party.

OOC: So “perfect,” in fact, that the players were truly worried about their lack of cleric. After much whinging and cajoling I eventually agreed to let them treat Euthalia (played by wife, Caroline, who was present but unable to play due to prepping for an interview the next day) as a first aid post back at the Cave Entrance. But only because Caroline was present to give permission. Given that this session takes up the story about about half-an-hour after the last one ended, that means the party had access to her two remaining cure light wounds spells for the day.

The scouting party began their second delve by quickly making their way down to the second waterfall. Concerned that Xeno's bolas might not hold for long, they proceeded to pelt the two suspended fungoid creatures they had entangled last session with missiles until they stopped twitching. Satisfied that the creatures were dead, the party spent a turn or so listening carefully in case anything had reacted to the noise of the brief massacre before moving down to the pool at the base of the second waterfall. There they bickered quietly about their next course of action. Some wished to return to the spot where the tentacled creature had lashed out at Shadowdancer in the narrow passage and destroy it, not wishing to leave a live foe at their back. Most did not. The nays had their way.

The scouts instead moved to secure the room with the pool of growing blue ooze. Thera and Ki Oman both tested the pool by dipping various wooden implements into it, and were relieved (but also perplexed) to discover that the wood had suffered no apparent ill-effects and, as a somewhat unexpected side-effect, the good stuck to their wooden implements provide illumination similar to that of a candle.

Having spent some considerable time in the dungeon already (about three turns by my count, counting the dithering and dickering) they decided to press on.

I suspect the players were deliberately stalling for time because they were every bit as worried about adventuring without a cleric as their characters would have been.

The scouts then returned to the room with the strange pod-like growths hanging from the ceiling. Leaving Thanatos and Shadowdancer to guard the various entrances and exits, Ki Oman and the three warriors in the group set about examining the pods, noting that only two remained closed.

Tenatively, Ki Oman cut into the fungal rope suspending one of the open pods from the ceiling and was very much surprised when nothing bad happened. However, before moving to repeat the same trick on one of the open pods, the party strategically positioned themselves around the pod's vertical seam while Thera turned her back on the pod selected for experimentation in order to observe the other, unopened pod.

It was as well she did. For as soon as Ki Oman slit down the seam of his pod to reveal an odd, compost-like pile of plant-matter, rotting fish and animal bones perched atop a large mushroom shaped fungal protuberance, something else burst forth from the second unopened pod.

Despite their surprise, the party reacted swiftly to this threat, Boagris once again learning the hard-way that bashing weapons don't work particularly well on fungas creatures somewhat lacking in muscle or bones. The final blow was dealt by Andros, whose short-sword cut a wide gash in the creatures leg, spilling it's goopy, fungal innards onto the cavern floor. It was only now that the party got their first good look at the foe -a man-sized plant roughly humanoid in form but with strange, compound “eyes” perched on either side of it's tiny head.

The three warriors and Ki Oman immediately set about cutting down the remaining pods from the ceiling. In the course of doing so, Ki Oman came across a sphincter like structure towards the rear of one of the pods. While Ki Oman set about checking for traps and poking at the strange sphincter with his glowy stick until it opened, neither he, or Thera noticed that Andros' torch had begun to flicker considerably. Possibly because of the distraction afforded by Boagris who stubbornly stomped off alone down an unexplored corridor with a second, equally guttering torch in hand. Four major events occurred simultaneously only moments thereafter.

Firstly, Boagris walked alone into another cavern and was confronted by an animated stone troglodyte head that flew towards his head at speed., causing the gladiator to stumble backwards into the pod chamber.

Secondly, Ki Oman got the sphincter open and removed two clay urns from within.

Thirdly, Shadowdancer and Thanatos hurried back into the room with whispered warnings of a huge, tentacled thing shambling after them.

And finally, both torches sputter out.

OOC: My actual description of the torch flickering went straight over the players heads. Again. Hopefully finding themselves fighting monsters in the dark often enough will remind them to pay more attention to their light sources.

The shambling fungus creature, a huge beast twice the girth even of the mighty Boagris, was visible only as a tentacled silhouette framed against the ambient glow from the nearby blue-goo room. Yet it didn't seem to have any difficulty locating the scouting party in the otherwise pitch-black chambers. Only Shadowdancer could see it clearly, and he quickly snuck into hiding behind a pod to bide his time. Meanwhile Ki Oman kept his nerve sufficiently to keep one hand on the pod he had been fiddling with and stumbled his way into hiding, his way lit by the blue goop on the end of his stick. Thanatos meanwhile stumbled off into the darkness away from the monster and was lucky enough to find a pod to sit inside. Boagris ran blindly back into the pod room, slipped on the slimy floor now slick with 'pod-guts” and completely lost his sense of direction. Meanwhile a shell-shocked Andros desperately tried to light a new torch -only to have the strange stone head fly straight at her (or rather her torch) from behind as soon as her efforts bore fruit. Meanwhile, Thera rushed over to her side to illuminate the blacksmith's torch-lighting efforts with the blue goop on her spear-shaft.

In the second round, the beast finally pulled itself into full view, a massive, thick-set monstrosity with two mighty paws and a pair of tentacles writhing from each shoulder. It lumbered forward towards the two female warriors in the centre of the pod room, completely oblivious to the presence of the three hiding assassins. Boagris arrived by their side just in time to take a clobbering hits from the beast that staggered the huge warrior and left his head ringing (down to 1hp). Nevertheless, he and his companions bravely fought on, taking minor wounds and inflicting many minor hits on the beast in turn, most of which failed to pierce the its thick, rubbery hide. In time though, their efforts weakened the beast enough that the three assassins, simultaneously sneaking up on it's rear, back-stabbed the creature to death in a single round.

While the others paused to experiment with the strange floating trog head, Thera quickly laid her healing hands upon Boagris' wound. The strange warmth that suffused him reduced the swelling somewhat yet still left the warrior with an impressive, livid bruise. Taking stock and searching the body of the beast they had slain, the scouting party decided to return to the cave mouth for some healing.

It was at this point that I made my first major DM snafu in years. You see, after some experimentation the party incorrectly determined that the Trog head was attracted to heat (rather than light). It certainly seemed to follow whoever held the nearest torch as they travelled through the Dungeon. I ruled that as soon the cave entrance came into view, the Trog Head (which the party had already deduced that the trogs probably worshipped as some sort of God or Idol) shot towards the cave mouth and out of the caves, startling the party members on guard and giving their poor Trog guide an apoplectic fit! I described the stone head shooting rapidly upwards toward the sun, allowed Shadowdancer a desperate attempt to trick the head into returning to earth with a Phantasmal Force and (to the laughter of the players) gleefully acted-out the slack-tongued “Oh shit!” response of their Trog guide as he watched his beloved “god” disappear into the heavens!

I laughed so hard I nearly puked.

And then Rhi remembered it was still night time.

Shit!

So, with the campfire being considerably brighter than the weak moon-light filtering through the clouds, especially given that it's been thundering with rain ever since the PC's arrived on the island, I had to ret-con things so that the head floated above the camp-fire while the Trog guide prostrated himself before it in undisguised wonder. The Trog could only watch in awe as Shadowdancer seemed able to summon the head back to his side with a few muttered words and a wave of his hand (thanks to another illusion spell)

As soon as Euthalia deigned to cast a cure light wounds spell upon Boagris, returning the oft-wounded former gladiator to full health, the party (with stone head in tow) returned to the dungeon. Shadowdancer threw their stunned Trog guide a mysterious wink as he passed. After a long yet hurried discussion about what to do with the thing (and not wishing to risk an accident like the one I'd originally envisioned) the PC's hit upon a plan. They walked the stone-head back to it's original home, left it with a lit torch, extinguished their own lights, and left.

With a huge, collective sigh of relief, the party set about exploring the rest of the complex. First, and most significantly for their future survival chances (and hence xp totals) they located what appeared to be a freshwater under-ground lake. Shadowdancers inhuman vision was able to detect a few heat-sources in the water however. Being unable to identify these heat-sources due to the diffusing nature of the medium in which they floated, the group decided not to disturb the water beyond refilling their scarce collection of water bottles and other, somewhat improvised, drinking vessels.

They thereafter located an odd room with a glowing, moss-covered ceiling. The water from the stream had been divided into three irrigation channels feeding nine small pine trees. An low, disembodied muttering seemed to fill the chamber. Numerous theories abounded about the presence of the trees, everything from their role as a food source for the Trogs to an air purifying system (an OOC comment by the way). In any case, the party were able to discern something odd about the trees beyond that of their mere presence in a Dungeon. Yet after a while the party decided to move on, the mystery of their presence still unresolved.

In the end they found another chamber featuring a (much larger) stone Trogolodyte head. This one immobile and carved into the cavern wall. Some experimentation with light sources revealed that the open mouth was, in fact, the terminus of a small corridor they had found elsewhere in the complex but had been reluctant to explore.

That left only the corridor where Shadowdancer had been ambushed by the tentacled monstrosity. The others were somewhat nervous about the prospect of second encounter with the creature with no cleric in sight, until Ki Oman and Shadowdancer observed that the large, creature they fought in the pod chamber was itself probably the very thing that had attacked Shadowdancer. Nevertheless the party were reluctant to let Shadowdancer explore the tight corridor alone for a second time. With none of the warriors keen on the idea of stripping off their armour to venture down the confined and possibly dangerous space and with Thanatos being his usual cowar...cautious self, this meant Ki Oman would accompany the Shidhe.

The tight, uneven passage soon opened up into a wide chamber littered with detritus -decayed plant and-animal matter, dead trogs, broken weapons and the like. But at the far end of the chamber – a stone chest rested upon a raised platform. With a shared smile, the two assassins began making their way cautiously along the messy, uneven carpet of litter and remains covering the floor. After reaching the chest without finding a single trap, their instincts were tingling. True enough, when the two assassins lay flat on their bellies and carefully prised open the stone lid from below with bits of trog bone, three obsidian tipped darts flew over them to embed themselves in a stone wall (trap neutralized via role-playing rather than mechanically).

Still not satisfied and taking no chances, one of the two assassins (I can't recall whom) threw a rock into the chest, only to be rewarded with the sound of breaking pottery. Peering inside, they located a few pottery fragments and a huge pile of ancient gold and platinum coinage (which upon later examination was found to depict a bulls head on one side and a crescent with a dot between the points on the other). They also found a strange coil of spongy fungus that detected as magical to Shadow-dancers spell-casting. Sharing a conspiratorial look, the two assassins were determining what to share with the others and what to keep for themselves when a loud clattering noise (like a shield on stone) behind them made them look back.

Thera, stripped of all but a thin tunic, stood in the entrance to the room. She made to put one step forward when:

Shadowdancer and Ki Oman together: NO!!!!!!

Convinced of the necessity for caution and the presence of traps by the three darts sticking out of the moss-coated cavern wall not six feet from her, Thera was persuaded to remain where she was. Thus she was not able to prevent or observe the two assassins successfully palm all the platinum coins in the chest, though the gig was very nearly up when Shadowdancer fluffed a pick pockets/sleight of hand roll and dropped one of the coins. Thera bought his excuse that he was “just “examining it”. Shadow-dancer also managed to claim the strange fungus coil for himself with the permission and connivance of Ki Oman. However, all the gold coins in the chest were split between all six members of the scouting expedition when the party thereafter made their way directly back to camp.

As a result of this expedition, (XP for monsters defeated, XP for role-playing, XP for finding the only fresh water source on the island so far that doesn't reek of sulphur and XP for treasure) all the scouting party members (except Thera) made it to second level.

P.S: On re-reading this article I realise I make it sound as though the PC's have completely cleared the cave complex. In actual fact, the treasure chamber they found was a side passage away from a corridor that leads further down into darkness.

And now for something slightly different. Some OOC and IC Humour. There a lot of it this session. Mostly because the players were stalling for time, I believe.

Upon returning to the two tangled creatures at the second waterfall:
Me: They're still entwined by Xenos' bolas, hanging like a pair of struggling sad sacks from the ceiling.
Aimee: Sad sacks, eh? I suggest a proctologist!

Going down the chute at the second waterfall:
Ali: I go “whee” down the chute.
Me: Do you mean “whee” or “wee”?

While Ki Oman prods the sphincter-like hollow with his glow-stick, trying to open it:
Andros: Gods man! Are you not even gonna buy it a drink first?

After the fiasco with the stone head and the ret-con:
Shadowdancer: Remind me to have a little talk with these stupid Trogs about the wisdom of sending warm-blooded creatures with torches into the cave with their heat-seeking God!

3 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

That's a good story, thieving and humour plus whining and cajoling.

Professor Pope said...

Sounds like a lot of fun!

Dangerous Brian said...

Glad to see you're enjoying these write-ups. There should be another one up in the next few days.

It occurs to me looking back that I've not been explicitly noting the passage of time in these blog articles.

Just to be clear: that was the end of day six. Day 7 (and session 6) will start in about half-an-hour.