Lost Conquistador Mine (D&D/Boot Hill hybrid)

Silver Moon

Chapter Eighteen, “Go West Young Man”, Sunday, December 3rd , 1882:

Starting off early, they review the map and conclude that Dutch Jack’s mine is a considerable distance to the west, and when they reach it they will probably be one-third to one-half of the way back to Promise City. This is consistent with what Gonzales, Pedro and Dorita thought, believing the sword to be closer to Promise City than the teenagers are now. That also means that they do not need to return to Dead Mule after they find it, so they ensure that they have a sufficient amount of supplies with them.

Jake decides that after they depart the team he will follow the group in the rear to check that they aren’t being followed. Their wagon, buggies and horses head off on the old wagon trail, which was the original path from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Tucson, Arizona. It was regularly used until two decades ago when Cochise’s Apache went on the warpath. By the time the Apache threat ended the westbound railroads had been established further north, eliminating the need for a wagon trail.

They travel a short distance until the see a cabin, the map of which shows one as a landmark. The Bittercreek Butte is seen in the distance. They travel further, approaching San Carlo Peak, until the road forks. The old wagon trail appears to continue on the northwest side of the fork, the other fork being the road currently used by Wells Fargo. They decide that the older trail is what the map indicates.

They ride on for another hour, now seeing a large flat teetering rock three miles distant. Continuing on, they reach a dry streambed by noon, which is clearly marked on their map. Steep hills continue both north and west, with the streambed and road heading on northwest between these hills.

The steambed is still slightly damp on the bottom, as the previous day’s flash floods had washed along it. Remembering the flash floods, Cathleen says, “I say we get out of this area as soon as possible, in case more thunderstorms come up this afternoon. Drowning is bad.” Jake asks the druids to check the weather. They conclude that it doesn’t feel like rain, so they think it is going to rain at all today.

They debate whether to search for a well that is on the map, so head south from here looking for that landmark. They spot a marked grave on the opposite side of the stream. They cross the streambed at this point and investigate the grave, concluding that it has been here a long time, possibly for decades. They debate if digging up the body would reveal any clues. With Thocks’s help they dig down to the casket, which they pull out. Inside the casket is a gray haired skeleton wearing rags. They put it back and rebury it, concluding this was a waste of time.

They continue to the northwest again, coming upon the well a half-mile later. The well has water inside. They continue on a northwesterly course for another ninety minutes, seeing a towering cactus, one arm of which is charred and stunted. This too is on the map. Continuing to the northwest and avoiding a mark on the map showing a skull-and-crossbones, they travel on for several more hours.

They reach a natural triangular stone formation with a man-made fences constructed from cactus and brush, forming a one-time makeshift corral. There is a triangle on the map, which they conclude is where they are. They move on and by early evening see a large teetering rock, which is also on the map, indicating that they are somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of the way to their destination. They decide that since they have a few more hours of sunlight they should head easterly for another hour or two before stopping for the night.

They eventually come upon some bleached and blackened ruins of what had once been a wagon train. Horse and oxen bones remain, it appears to have happened many years before. The wagon has bullet holes and broken arrows imbedded in it. Colleen says, “Let’s not stay here, I have a bad feeling about this place.” Ginnie explains why she thinks it would be safe to stay here, since people may stay away, thinking the area haunted. Colleen points out that it may
indeed be haunted, so they shouldn’t stay either.

It is relatively flat desert here, the hills another ten miles distant to the northwest. Jake is uncomfortable about camping out in the open, and there doesn’t appear to be any other cover within sight, so suggests staying here and using the ruins of the six wagons as a wind block and partial cover.

Gathering scrub firewood, Ginnie thinks she sees movement to the east. [DM’s note: Amazing luck from the players, each character only had a one-to-three percent chance of spotting this, and Ginnie’s player rolled an 01 on the percentile dice.] Using the telescope, Jake and Ginnie identify one as an elf and the other as Antonio Mendoza. Back in town they had heard that he hired an Indian guide. “So they’ve been following our trail,” Emily exclaims. “With this many horses and vehicles that wouldn’t have been hard for an Indian tracker to do,” Ander states.

They suggest an ambush on Mendoza. Ginnie says, “Hold on guys. I just remembered something. Mr. Gonzales was excited about Priestess Minerva Florencia coming to town because she was a Spaniard, and there is apparently a curse on the area where the sword is hidden….which only a human Spaniard can get through.” Emily says, “Okay, so we can’t kill Mendoza.”

Jake says, “Hold on a minute here. Does he have to be a live human Spaniard? I have my fancy long-range rifle here, does he have to be alive?” Ginnie says, “Maybe Colleen can charm him.” Colleen whines “I don’t want to this time, I already have a Thock as a stalker.”

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Silver Moon

[Sorry for the long delay, finally located the misplaced recordings of Game 4 of this module]

Chapter 19, "X Marks the Spot" Monday, December 4, 1882:

The night passes without interruption. They can the horizon with the telescope and do not see Mendoza or his guide anywhere on the horizon. As assessment of the distance travelled the previous day comes to an estimate that they are indeed one-third of the way back to Promise City, so there will be absolutely no reason to return to Dead Mule. Ander is asked about his friend Alexiel, who remained back in Dead Mule and he replies, "She knew that Promise City, Arizona was your next destination. I will meet up with her there."

The next landmark on the map appears to be a building of some sort and they look around but do not see one. As they are still at the foothills they move on. They do eventually reach a building comprised of adobe and wooden walls, partially burned. The roof is collapsed and appears to have been that way for at least a decade. The chimney still stands. As the building on the map shows a chimney they conclude that they are in the right place. They see part of an old weathered sign that indicates this was a stagecoach station along the roadway.

They check around the building, finding no fresh tracks. Wagon ruts along the road appear to be ancient, with no indication of any recent vehicles having passed along the road. Looking around a glint of light is seen from further up a nearby hill. Holding the map they see that in that direction is a drawing of four graves with tombstones and the writing "Der grab des Mendozas", which they roughly translate as probably meaning "The graves of the Medonzas".

They head off that way heading up the hill, while also occasionally looking back to see if Mendoza or anyone else might be following. They eventually reach the cemetery, which has a total of fifteen gravestones. Morgan exclaims "The map only shows four! This map isn't accurate!" The others laugh and Colleen says "You haven't figured that out before now?"

The grave markers are all made of wooden planks that appear to have once been part of wagons. The writing on them is all in German. Cathleen exclaims, "Ginnie, you really need to learn German." She exclaims, "I'm working on it!" Most of the grave markers have some sort of trinket attached to them, rusty jewelry, a religious emblem, one has a small mirror, which is what they saw the reflection from. The is nothing attached to the grave for Mendoza. Jake continues to look back the way they came with the telescope.

Ginnie suggests that they dig up Mendoza's body. Cathleen objects to "grave digging again". They decide to dig up Mendoza. They did for a while, not only finding nothing, but based upon tree roots and the various colors of the dirt, conclude that nobody was ever buried here. Jake writes out "Not Here" on a piece of paper and drops it into the hole they just dug.

The map indicates a large tree near the final location and there are no large trees anywhere nearby. As they are only a quarter-mile from the top of the hill they decide to move on, that they can always come back here later if necessary.

They reach the top of the hill which is a fairly flat plateau and see one very large pine tree a quarter-mile away, considerably bigger than the scrub pines elsewhere on the plateau. The map shows an "X" to the left of the tree with the words "30 Schritten west die grosse Kiefer", which they assume means thirty paces west of the tree. They determine that Morgan is approximately the same height as Dutch Jack was so have him do the pacing.

He ends but a slight incline in the hill covered with brush. With Ander, Colleen and Emily all being druids it takes no time for them to identify the brush as not being native to that hillside and having been planted there from elsewhere, with the dead brush beneath it having been placed there. The brush is cleared. A shovel is dug into the ground and strikes wood around four inches down.

The group digs out a wooden door built into the side of the hill. Jake says, "Just watch, we will lift it up to find a paper note reading "Not Here". The door has a crude wooden handle. While they are discussing the possibility of traps Thock heads over and yanks the entire door out of the ground and tosses it aside. They see a corridor leading down with support beams on the side, some of which look a little rotted, and a staircase made of dirt descending into the dark earth.

Silver Moon

Chapter 20 "The Upper Caves", Dec. 4, 1882:

They take a look into the cave and examine the support beams closer to gauge their sturdiness. They conclude that the rot is from decades of wear and they are not in any immediate likelihood of collapse.

Cathleen spots a mountain lion in the vicinity and alters the others. She wants to go after it but the others convince her to stay with them. By an interesting coincidence, just as the Dungeon Master is describing the mountain lion the host's cat named Skiggles jumps up on the gaming table and wanders around to check out the visitors. The DM says "Despite the excellent role playing by Skiggles, the mountain lion is actually not approaching you, and keeping its distance."

The group debates leaving the horses outside with the mountain lion in the area, but the cave is far to narrow to attempt bringing it in. They discuss leaving the wolf animal companion to guard the carriages, wagon and horses would be sufficient. However, since they are also concerned about Mendoza arriving while they are inside they decide that a person should be left there to guard as well. (As Janiru is playing both twins, they choose to leave Colleen).

They light a lantern for a lights source and Cathleen take point with El-Rohir and Thock following, with Jake agreeing to take the rear. They continue down the main passage and come to a fork, with a narrower passage on the left. The lead three decide to head down there but it is very narrow for Thock who has to bend over and move size-ways, so Cathleen and El-Rohir head there first, followed by Emily.

It eventually reaches a larger chamber that has a much smaller exit (ten-inches-by-thirty-inches) that they feel air from outside coming through. On the opposite side of the chamber is a pile of ripped up blankets and clothing near piles of bones. The druid Emily checks it out, finding evidence of the pile being the lair for the mountain lion. They collectively decide to exit, letting those out the corridor know.

Deciding not to wait, Ander leads the others on, soon finding an area where the hallway narrows due to a partial collapse. They investigate and conclude it is unsafe to continue so El-Rohir and Thock work to shore up the supports. They can soon move single-file through the narrower part, with Thock finding it very tight. Cathleen returns to join Ander to move on

They continue on, with another intersection, this one branching off to the right. Cathleen decides to continue straight as that corridor is wider. They soon reach a "Y" intersection and she takes the right branch, soon finding the hallway narrowing and ending in a section piled up with dirt and rock. Ander comments "This wasn't a collapse, somebody intentionally piled this up." Thock begins working on clearing this while Cathleen, Ander, El-Rohir and Emily the others return to the "Y" intersection and take the other branch to the left.

Meanwhile, Morgan, Ginnie and Jake have headed down the first branch to the right that Cathleen had bypassed. They find themselves in a room without any other exits that has an old army bunk, a poorly made wooden chair and table, and a trunk. They open the trunk to find it full of jerky and other relatively fresh foodstuffs, some tools, and some additional clothing. Jake declares "It looks like the hit the Dutch Jackpot." Ginnie suggests looking for any notes that Dutch Jack would have left until Jake reminds her that none of them would be able to read it.

Cathleen and Ander soon enter a very large irregularly-shaped natural cave with a wider exit on the opposite side. In a dark corner between the two openings is a very large bear that is sound asleep. Cathleen suggests attacking it, Emily reminds them of the old saying "Let sleeping bears lie." "I thought that was dogs?" Ander comments. "Works for bears too," Emily answers.

They have Cathleen and Ander go back and guard the entrance to the chamber as Emily and El-Rohir very carefully sneak past the bear. They continue on, finding more chambers and another exit from the caves. There is nothing else in this section, so they return and carefully sneak back around the bear to rejoin the others back where Thock is busy clearing rocks.

Silver Moon

Chapter 21, “The Lower Caves“. Dec. 4, 1882:

They continue to clear the rocks and dirt. As it was originally a gold mine Ginnie checked the rocks being removed for mineral content. Jake concludes that the task of digging is not in his job description. They eventually clear enough of the debris to make their way through a narrow opening that Thock can barely make it through. Moving on they soon come to a room stacked with mining supplies. This room smells bad due to greater humidity to it and the meal shovels, axes, and crowbars are all rusted. There are piles of rope that are rotted, which is where the smell is coming from.

Moving on they find another collapsed passageway, but this one has gaps through to the other side, which is where the moisture is coming from. The rocks are quickly cleared enough for further passage and the group moves onward, soon reaching the end of this tunnel level where they find a vertical shaft going down.

There is a wooden ladder on the wall of the shaft, but it is a lot of mold and rot on it and is not deemed to be safe to use. Light is shined down to see that it goes 25 feet to a solid base. To the side of the base a pool of water is seen. Cathleen comments “With all of these druids and wizards you would think that somebody might have an animal companion or familiar to scout out locations such as this.” Emily comments that she should really get one at some point. Colleen reminds her that there is still a mountain lion in the area. “That is not what I had in mind,” Emily replies.

Before descending to the lower level Morgan decides to review his spells. They debate using the ladder and decide it might be safe enough provided the person descending is tied to a rope in the event that it breaks. Morgan goes first, Morgan checks out the adjacent pool, yelling up that it covers a large adjacent chamber that has a narrow ledge. He says that there is also a second passageway off from the base of the shaft in a different direction.

El Rohir goes next, loosing his footing on the ladder and unexpectedly releases the rope, falling with a thud onto the ground. He gets up but is a little bit injured from the fall. They decide to send people down based upon weight, lightest first, securing the rope tightly above. Once everybody is down they proceed on the passageway.

They soon reaches a larger room, which at one end has what was once a gold bar but has most of it shaved off. There is a knife and pile of rags that it appears was used to shave the gold from the bar. Ginnie speculates that somebody had been shaving off slivers of gold as needed to use for spare change. She gathers up the bar, knife and few remaining shavings and gold dust that are one the rags saying “We shouldn’t leave this room a mess”.

The chamber continues on, the walls becoming better constructed than those before and descending at a downward angle. They soon reach a section that is completely flooded. Ginnie proposes that they empty their wine-skins and water-skins to fill with water to breath while they swim onward. Jake mentions that his skins are filled with Kentucky Bourbon, but that he will be willing to empty them into his body if they think that will help.

El Rohir suggests they go back to the pool and circumnavigate around the ledge. He leads a small group back there. They use a pole to measure depth and finding it to be between six-and-seven feet deep. They eventually reach a passageway on the far in, but the entranceway has been sealed. It does not look like the prior blockages where the stones have been collapsed, but instead has been expertly sealed by a stonemason. “This will take a lot longer to get through, he comments.” They rejoin the others.

Colleen suggests that they have contest to see which of them can hold their breath the longest and have that person then be the one to swim. Everyone pinches their nose, takes a deep breath, and closes their mouth. Jake is the first out, the others take longer. The twins, having a competitive nature, each attempt to last longer than the other but both eventually have to end, almost simultaneously. At that point Thock is the only one still holding his breath and does not appear to be having any trouble, so become the one selected.

Thock enters the water, with a magical light source and carrying a pole to help prod before him. The chamber’s ceiling varies in height and continues to descend, he then reaches a point where it begins to ascend, eventually surfacing in a large chamber that he is at the far end of.

After catching his breath he shines the light around the chamber, which goes back around thirty feet to a far wall and also runs another thirty feet to the left and twenty feet to the right, ending in a passageway that probably connects to the sealed doorway in the room with the pool.

Standing ten feet before him is a skeletal warrior attired in Spanish Conquistador armor and helmet and brandishing an elaborate glowing sword with the hilt encrusted with jewels. The opposite end of the room, behind the warrior, is treasure. That end of the room is filled with gold in the form of stacks of bars and rods.

Silver Moon

Chapter 22, “The Conquistador“. Dec. 4, 1882:

As Thock begins to exit the water the skeletal warrior attired in Spanish Conquistador armor raises the sword and speaks in Spanish. Thankfully Thock previously lived in Mexico and knows the language, understanding the warrior to say “Turn back or the curse of the gods will be on you.” Thock replies “Si” and continuing in Spanish says, “All I want is that sword that you are holding, then I will leave. You can keep the rest of your treasure.” In response the skeleton holds the sword higher and repeats his previous sentence.

Thock decides that he will have to fight the skeleton but as he tries to move forward he finds himself stopped by an invisible barrier at the water’s edge. He tries going left and right, finding the barrier extending in both directions.

Thock decides that since it appears that these caves were originally made by dwarves then El Rohir might be able to get through. He takes a deep breathe and swims back. Upon surfacing most of the party simultaneously asks what he found. “Something I need help with,” he replies as he grabs the dwarf. El Rohir barely takes a deep breath in time when he is dragged under and through the water by Thock.

As the exit the water the wet and soggy dwarf starts to complain, then becomes totally silent as he looks into the chamber at piles of gold bars and gold rods. El Rohir had assumed the skeleton to be just a dead guy until it moves and holds the sword up in a threatening manner. The skeleton repeats his previous sentence, which El Rohir does not fully understand, knowing just a smattering of Spanish. Thock asks his companion to try to exit the water, but he too is blocked by the barrier. They catch their breath and return to the rest of the party.

They surface and the party again asks what they found. Thock says, “Something very unusual.” Morgan says softly, “Yeah, a dwarf who is now bathed.” They explain what they say, with El Rohir describing the treasure in detail and Thock describing the skeleton. Jake says, “It looks like we might need Mendoza after all.” El Rohir says “Maybe not, that sealed passageway in the room with the pool looks to go into the treasure room, we could try breaking through that way.”

They head back that way and using chisels and hammers try to break through. After fifteen minutes they have only made a six-inch diameter hole that goes in around eight-inches. Cathleen says, “This will take days.” El Rohir says, “No it won’t, I made space here for a sticks of dynamite.”

They discuss how many sticks to place, with the number ranging from one to four, and eventually settle on two. A long fuse is placed and the group exits the chamber. Around two minutes later there is a loud explosion and they hear the sound of large amounts of rock and dirt splashing into the adjacent pool. They return to find that the sealed chamber is several feet thick, and that while they have blown a lot of it out, there is still more before they reach the next chamber.

El Rohir taps the end of the blown out section and says “It sounds like we are almost through. Using a wedge and hammer he is able to pound through the end, creating an irregular hole around seven-inches at its widest point, from which they can see into the chamber and the piles of gold beyond. But when El Rohir tries to reach his hand through the hole it again strikes an invisible barrier.” He curses in Dwarvish and informs the others.

They decide that widening the hole would still be preferable than the swimming method, so this remains the best way in. The skeleton warrior moves over to this side of the chamber, standing four feet from the hole they created and repeats the same warning in Spanish that he has given before. Thock says, “I was hoping he wouldn’t notice us.” Jake sarcastically says, “Dynamite does tend to spoil the element of surprise.”

Emily says “We need the sword, get the skeleton to come out here.” “The hole is too small,” Thock says. Looking back toward the others Jake then says, “You guys can try to widen this entrance while some of us go and try to find Mendoza.” Ginnie says, “He probably heard the dynamite if he was in the area.” Jake suggests that Colleen could use a “Charm Person” on Mendoza.

Ginnie says, “That may help but he will probably still want a share of the gold.” Jake asks “Probably at least half. How much of this gold are you willing to share with him?” They count that there are currently nine of them, so Mendoza will make ten, so ten even shares. “We saw earlier that Mendoza had a guide with him.” Ginnie says, “That’s his employee, any for him would come out of Mendoza’s share.”

Jake says, “Okay, ten-percent for him. Thock, El-Rohir and whoever else want to help should start widening this so we don’t have to swim carrying heavy gold bars. The rest of us will go look for Mendoza. Cathleen, Colleen Ginnie and Emily join Jake. They exit the caves and start looking down the hill and in the distance for Mendoza and his guide, not seeing them. They then hear some distant noises that sound like digging.

Carefully moving up the hill, they spot Mendoza by another sealed doorway into the chambers below, which the rubble looks to have been partially dislodged by the dynamite blast below. Mendoza and his guide have unburied a wooden door and are in the process of starting prying it open. Emily says “We should probably stop him. Based on where he is I would say that way goes into the room with the sleeping bear.” “Who we might have woken up with the blast,” Cathleen comments. Jake says, “As entertaining as that might be, we do need Mendoza alive. Okay, we might need some more muscle, go get Thock and then we can get him. Tell the others we found him.” Cathleen heads back inside the cave.

Epic Threats

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