Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel
Session #003 Dungeons & bloody hell... a Dragon!
Dark Squad (in alphabetical order, no egos here).
Garumn (played by Stu) Male Mountain Dwarf Paladin of Moradin Lvl 1
Ramshambo (played by Kev) Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1
Vincenzo (played by Haggis) Male Shifter (Wildhunt) Druid Lvl 1
Screw the creative writing- new plan, I’m going to try and keep up with the action in-game with my updates here, so the players have a record (of sorts) of what went on. So, this is session number 3, and it was very mostly all action.
But first up, as I did in-game (and for a very good reason) a reminder of the Dark Squad’s ongoing quests-
Kerowyn Hucrele wants her family members rescuing from the Sunless Citadel- Talgen and Sharwyn, if the pair are gone (dead) then bring back their signet rings.
Garumn’s secondary quest:
Rurik the blacksmith in Thundertree would like to take a proper look at the longsword carried by Sir Bradford, the paladin of Tyr who accompanied the young Hucrele’s on their quest. Garumn will help out with this if he can.
Ramshambo’s secondary quest:
Felosial of the Thundertree guard has asked for Karakas the ranger to be rescued, the sometimes-drunken fellow also accompanied the young Hucrele’s on their quest. If Karakas is dead bring back proof of his demise so that his story may be told. Ram has said he will do this.
Vincenzo’s secondary quest:
Reidoth the Brown, the ancient blind druid, has tasked Vincenzo to investigate the goblins in the Sunless Citadel, it seems the creatures offer up for sale a magical apple or two every year- deadly poison and tremendous healing variants available. Do the goblins grow the fruit? If not, who does? Find out all there is to discover.
Then, of course, the Dark Squad met with the kobolds last session, and spoke at length with their queen, Yusdrayl. The kobolds are starting to believe that the Dark Squad are the chosen ones (of Tiamat) who will eventually pass through the dragon door. To prove themselves the PCs must accomplish some, or all, of the following-
Rescue Cornflakes the kobold’s dragon from the clutches of the nasty goblins, bring the dragon back to the tribe. Note the reward for this is the ancient key which opens the dragon door… which the PCs have not seen as of yet (they’ve seen the key, but not the door- but we’re about to fix this).
, a reward for each success to be granted from the collection of items on the dragon altar, which are- three scrolls, and a big feather (most odd?).
Rescue the kobolds taken prisoner by the goblins in their last attack on the tribe.
Kill ten goblins and bring their heads back to Yusdrayl, although the kobold queen said ten heads, she only held up eight fingers- so, perhaps the kobolds are not that great at counting.
Kill the goblin chief, bring back proof.
Complete all four tasks and the Dark Squad can have the dragon key and all of the items on the altar.
That done, at last, it’s time to get on with the action from the session.
More chatter with Yusdrayl and the kobolds- Garumn just wants to get a few things straight, why are the goblins attacking now? It seems that the goblins have got a new chief- the fresh incumbent killed the old chief. S/he has also developed a more martial strategy- the goblins are getting uppity.
The collective PC/player yap is the new chief is probably something very big and very nasty.
Chatter done the Dark Squad move out, and accompanied now by Meepo, the tribe’s dragonkeeper (10 HP) and Fraggle (10 HP elite kobold warrior). Fraggle wears a saucepan for a helm, and a large serving platter for a breastplate, he’s the toughest SOB kobold in the whole tribe. He’s also as thick as soup, and only speaks and understands draconic.
Off they go… all the way back to the broken tower through which the Dark Squad first entered the Sunless Citadel, it seems Fraggle and Meepo also have their orders. So, Meepo shows the PCs the dragon door- it’s a stone door, carved with a dragon’s head complete with a gaping maw, within which is a very obvious keyhole.
Meepo further explains that the door has never been opened, the kobolds have been awaiting the arrival of the chosen ones (our guys, if they play their cards right). Best guess by Meepo as to what lies beyond the door- the dragon lord (no other information available) and lots of treasure of course.
Ramshambo and/or Vincenzo (I forget which) tells Meepo that when they get the dragon key then he can come with them on their quest beyond the dragon door. Meepo is so excited by the prospect he feints.
At which point the PCs hear shouts and screams- it seems Fraggle was tasked to check out the pit trap on the battlements, to see if anything has been caught in it- the kobold has therefore opened the pit and is, as of now, being attacked by the giant rat that was formerly trapped within.
The Dark Squad rush (except for Garumn- he ambles) to help- Vince claws and bites the giant rat who takes another chunk out of the tough guy kobold- Fraggle. Eventually Garumn arrives and slaughters the beast, there’s a dead goblin in the newly opened pit.
The PCs however have no time to check it out as a moment later Meepo starts screaming, it seems another giant rat has entered the chamber he’s in and is now biting the dragonkeeper. The Dark Squad rush back the way they came (except for Garumn- he saunters) and to the rescue, Ramshambo skewers and kills the vermin with his rapier.
[Giant rats 48 XP]
All is well, and now Meepo is beyond convinced that the Dark Squad are the real deal, he therefore confides in Ramshambo, the kobold dragonkeeper knows another secret- there’s a hidden chamber back in the tower. The kobold leads Ram by the hand and points to the wall, eventually- with more than a little help from Garumn and his dwarven stonecunning, the adventurers locate a secret entrance and the mechanism to open it. The latter is activated by Garumn, who also manages to neatly avoid the trap on the device- the poisoned needle misses his hand by inches and sticks in the end of his hefty boot.
[Get the secret door open 15 XP]
A secret chamber is revealed, an archer’s firing station, partially collapsed with coin and bones aplenty scattered on the floor. Ram ventures in and three skeletons rise from the rubble and attempt to slaughter the adventurers.
It's all kicking off in the Sunless Citadel!
Garumn and Vincenzo combine to sunder the first skeleton, the second and third are taken down by Ramshambo and Garumn respectively. The adventurers suffer several attacks but remarkably no hits. There is cheering.
Silver and gold coins are taken from the secret pocket, as well as a pair of exceptional arrows, Vincenzo thinks they must be magical (later confirmed).
[Skeletons 150 XP and find the treasure 9 XP]
Job’s done (for the kobolds) time, again, to move on- this time in pursuit of the Hucrele’s and to track down the nasty goblins.
Guided by Meepo and Fraggle the Dark Squad pass through a chamber with lots of tracks (Hucrele’s, goblins and giant rats) and into another room with a fountain (dragon-themed) and another stone door with a… you guessed it, dragon-carved relief.
There are more tracks here- as previously.
The fountain is investigated first- carved into the base of the construct, written in draconic, is the text- ‘let there be fire’, which Ram reads and then says aloud in order to translate for his friends, at which point the fountain splutters into life- red liquid pours from the dragon’s mouth and is captured in the basin below it. The PCs, at first, dash for cover but then gradually approach as nothing terrible happens. Vincenzo figures out that the liquid isn’t blood, or anything horrible, it looks a lot like an elixir, or a potion. Ram reacts quickly, locates an empty wineskin and manages to suck up enough liquid with it to make a dose. Later (during the next short rest) the Dark Squad determine the liquid is a potion of fire breath.
[Figure out fountain, get magic potion 24 XP]
Then to the door, which as it turns out is cold to the touch- Garumn tries to get it open using a skeletal hand- this after Ram makes sense of the text over the door- ‘rebuke the dead, open the way’. Which the dwarf translates as- get an undead creature to open it… or some such.
Obviously, this doesn’t work, nor does just trying to shove it open- the latter triggers a scythe trap and Garumn is hurt badly, he has to swig down a healing potion. He’s not happy. Eventually Ram disarms the trap, although he has to do this while balanced on Garumn’s shoulders- the scythe swishes down from a slot in the ceiling.
That done the Dark Squad concentrate their efforts on the door- and get nowhere, eventually the effort is curtailed, they’ll get back to figuring out the door later.
The door's not for opening.
Then on again.
Note during their time in the fountain/door chamber Fraggle cries out at one point- the kobold guard spots something moving down the north passage, straight ahead. By the time the PCs look whatever it was has gone.
Later Fraggle also confesses that he watched the Hucrele’s head off in this direction, the adventuring party, he’s certain- went north. I’m telling you these things because that’s what I did (and said) in the session- I was trying to herd the party to the north (I have my reasons).
So, next chamber and more tracks to check out- Vincenzo is convinced that there are giant rats about around here (still), and that the Hucrele’s definitely went north, but… the goblins came from a door to the west.
Garumn is determined to go after the goblins, or else not to leave a door unchecked that could cause the Dark Squad to be cut off from the exit by their enemies. So, west it is- damn, but I tried.
West and another emptyish chamber- a door to the north, through which the goblin tracks go. Ramshambo finds a trap on the door (a bell, he determines with his ‘20’). He makes the trap safe and then enters the chamber with a ‘1’ on his stealth check- what goes up, must come down- or so it seems.
The door leads into a twenty-foot-long, ten-foot-wide corridor- at the far end a three-foot-high mortared stone wall, from behind which a goblin pops up and spots Ram. There’s a chamber beyond the wall, with a campfire in it.
Oh, but the entire passageway is strewn with caltrops- that’s not good.
The shoot-out begins- Ramshambo with his bow, and Meepo and Fraggle with their slings, no hits- and so Garumn screams ‘Moradin’ a lot and then rushes the goblin wall. Five feet into the caltrop-strewn corridor and he treads on a… caltrop and… eventually staggers on- only to crush a second caltrop into the bottom of his other foot a moment or so later. The dwarf is unable to move further, the dwarf is stuck out in the open between his friends and the foe.
There’s a second goblin behind the wall- Vincenzo pulls out the big guns (his bestest spell) and flings an ice knife into the first goblin. The icy missile hits and then explodes- killing the goblin in an instant and leaving the second goblin in the chamber suddenly missing a hand- gripping the bloody stump and screaming (on 1 HP).
The screaming goblin flees.
The Dark Squad and their kobold friends slowly make their way through the caltrop corridor- they’re not rushing, they saw what happened to Garumn.
The one-handed goblin meantime races into the next chamber- a goblin shooting gallery, with three more goblins present- one of the trio goes to investigate the situation.
Alas, for the goblin in question, Ramshambo is already in position, and hiding- the rogue attacks and stabs the fiend, a moment later Garumn arrives and throws a handaxe into the creature- it dies.
The Dark Squad move up, Ram spies around the corner- the chamber has another three-foot wall dividing the space, with three goblins behind the barricade- two goblins with shortbows, and the guy the Dark Squad are chasing- the goblin with just one hand.
The goblins, eye-witnesses state, were involved in a range of social activities- mostly for exercise or else as part of their leisure time, relaxing after a hard day in gainful employment. They offered no threat. At which point a gang of loutish thugs calling themselves- 'the Dark Squad', arrived on the scene and fatally assaulted to death all eight members of the goblin community. The members of the Dark Squad are being sort by goblin authorities... so, think on.
Remarkably Ram dodges into the chamber (after another incredible stealth roll) and shoots one of the goblins dead.
At this point Vincenzo is purring with admiration for Ram- “he iz zer killing machine, n’est pas?”
The goblin with the one hand has seen enough (again) it runs through a door to the north.
There’s just one goblin armed with a shortbow left defending the wall- Garumn has also seen enough, he charges in and flails wildly, seconds later Ram is on the scene and the goblin is stabbed and very badly wounded. The creature spills its bow- grabs out its scimitar, slices and nicks Ram- and then flees, through the same northern door.
Vincenzo and the kobolds catch up with the action.
Beyond the north door is a corridor heading west (to yet another door) but also with a second open door to the north, moments later and yet another goblin comes charging out of this chamber- alas, for the goblin, Garumn is waiting with his readied attack. The dwarf however misses.
Several more goblins rush out of the room and open fire at close range on the dwarf- seconds later Garumn is down on the floor, unconscious in the dirt and bleeding out.
Vincenzo rushes over to defend the fallen dwarf paladin, he bravely slashes and cuts a goblin dead, Ram gets into action and cuts another goblin down.
The last goblin in the passage flees back the way he came.
Meantime Garumn is given another potion of healing, and then by using an inspiration point (house rule with only three PCs in game) gets to spend his healing HD.
The Dark Squad move out into the corridor, take a quick look about- Vincenzo spots that there’s a pit trap (or similar) a little further down the passage. Ram meantime discerns that there are three goblins within the northern chamber (one with only one hand). The rogue rushes in, a goblin reacts and fires his shortbow and from barely ten feet away- misses.
Ramshambo cuts the goblin down dead.
The remaining two goblins (disengage) flee the scene- they don’t get far. Fraggle and Meepo open up with the artillery, their slings- and roll a ‘20’ followed by a ‘20’. The goblins are both dead a moment later.
The fight, at last, is over- that took over an hour to play out, and maybe 12 turns of action, none of the PCs understand the goblin tongue, a shame because the last pair were trying to flee/surrender when they were being hunted down. Actually Garumn, after an insight check, thought as much but couldn’t bring himself to tell his friends.
[More goblins killed 399 XP]
The PCs have enough XP for Level 2 now, all they need is a long rest, but oh no- they’re going on, or at least they will be, but first after a quick scout about and the posting of kobold sentries- a short rest.
There are plenty of silver pieces on the dead goblins, also three keys.
During the rest the PCs manage to identify the potion of fire breath, and the pair of +1 arrows- Ram is the only PC with a bow, so he takes these.
The Dark Squad have been in the Sunless Citadel for four hours now.
The adventurers investigate a locked and barred door, as it turns out they already have the key to it, within are three kobold prisoners and a gnome in a cage, as it turns out they have the keys to open the cage and to unlock the kobold’s chains.
The rescued kobolds, a short while later, are sent back to the tribe- with Fraggle leading them home. The Dark Squad dismiss Fraggle, they’re going to be taking Erky with them- see below.
Erky Timbers (the gnome formerly in the cage) has been a prisoner of the goblins for the last two months and spent time with three members of the missing adventuring party- Talgen, Sharwyn and Sir Bradford, he has no idea where Karakas (the ranger) went. The three adventurers were ‘sent below’ (so the goblins said) about a tenday past.
Erky explains that ‘below’ is a place called the Twilight Grove, home to the Outcast- the goblins are frightened of this creature/person (the Outcast). The gnome has also heard the Outcast referred to as Belak.
The Dark Squad remember Bert (of the Ol' Boar Inn) talking about an odd fellow that stayed at the inn over a decade past, his name began with ‘B’, he also had a frog companion that he spoke to.
Vincenzo, and others now suspect that an evil druid, or similar, is responsible for much of what is going on in the Sunless Citadel, they’re now of the opinion that this fellow’s name is Belak, or else the Outcast- and that he lives ‘below’ in the Twilight Grove.
[Rescue Erky & the kobolds- also new info 99 XP]
Note Erky is a priest of Tymora (and with an Irish accent) and he’s up for some payback- Garumn gives him a handaxe, he’s also got a big bag of hit points (in an effort by the some would say saintly DM to keep him, and therefore the PCs, alive).
The adventurers press on- cautiously through a storeroom in which Vincenzo finds a cask of lamp oil and Ram finds some ‘elf pudding’- which he investigates, and then instantly regrets doing so.
Vincenzo and Garumn conspire- the dwarf is given the cask of oil so that he can fling it at the next group of goblins the adventurer's see, the plan is that Vincenzo will use the fire breath potion to set the oil-splattered goblin fiends alight.
So, through the storeroom and into a large, smoky columned chamber- very similar to the chamber in which Yusdrayl holds court.
“Cornflakes” Meepo suddenly cries- the kobold signals frantically for his friend Ramshambo to come over- one of the doors in the smoky hall has a puddle of water beneath it. The kobold is certain that Cornflakes is being held within.
Ram gets the door open (it was locked) and then takes a look inside- the chamber was formerly used to show off a variety of goblin hunting trophies- on the walls the mounted heads of giant rats, a pair of kobolds and a cow- classy. The chamber is however a mess- it has been ransacked, and behind an over-turned table is spotted Cornflakes.
Cornflakes, as it turns out, is a white dragon wyrmling.
When Meepo met Cornflakes- the romance cooled rapidly.
The players are semi-terrified, then more-so when Meepo breaks ranks and charges into the chamber arms open to hug the dragon. Cornflakes uses his breath weapon and turns the dragonkeeper into an ice sculpture, seconds later with a swish of its tail it shatters the ice kobold- dead.
Garumn has the last word- “let’s do it!”
This after the adventurers duck back out of the chamber- Ramshambo uses a monster knowledge check to tell his friends what he knows about white dragons, the fear doesn’t go away any.
Then the fight gets going, the rogue shoots the white dragon with his bow- just a scratch, but he’s got the beast’s attention.
Cornflakes bounds out of the chamber declaring en route- “free at last, now my reign of terror begins’.
Just to note the dragon is actually called Calcryx, the kobolds just had problems pronouncing it’s name, and so- Cornflakes.
So, Cornflakes bounds out of the room and savages Garumn- the dwarf is down and dying in an instant.
Vincenzo dodges out from behind the pillar he’s hiding behind and bathes Cornflakes in his fiery breath- and then rolls 4d6 for 7 fire damage, that could have gone better.
Now just to stay alive to try again.
Garumn passes his death save- he’s not failed one yet, and then Erky gets to the dwarf with a cure wounds- a sigh of relief, get the tank back up again.
Ramshambo bravely takes on the dragon, misses with his rapier and then just nicks it with his dagger.
Cornflakes’ breath weapon recharges (first time), alas the only enemies in clear sight are- Garumn and Erky, he bathes the pair in frosty hell- for 27 cold damage, which is enough to kill Garumn instantly- he failed his save and was only on 6 HP.
However, the kindly DM (after a chat with Stu playing Garumn) decides that the dwarf deserves a little bit of hope- therefore the ruling is Garumn is down and dying with two death saves failed already- one more and he’s really gone.
Erky meantime is very bloodied, but still on his feet.
Vincenzo emerges from behind a pillar and bathes the dragon in his fiery breath again- and rolls double the damage he did last time, and now Cornflakes is badly wounded, and down to just 7 HP.
At which point Garumn gets to make his last (maybe) death save- he has an inspiration point to spend so (after the DM reminds him- such a nice man)… he rolls, an ‘8’ and a ‘10’, thank the heavens (and, ahem… the DM)- we go on.
Erky gets to the dwarf again and pumps another cure wounds spell into the paladin- there are ragged cheers.
Ramshambo does his thing with his rapier, cuts Cornflakes, and leaves the dragon on just 2 HP (after missing with his off-hand attack).
The dragon attempts to flee, the rogue slashes as it departs and cuts again- Cornflakes is crippled, it mewls once or twice more and then expires on the floor of the storeroom- dead.
[White dragon wyrmling 450 XP]
At which point the session is at an end, the cheering is much subdued- the players are spent, as are their PCs.
That was close.
Some point soon after (like now) the PCs are of course going to realise that they were supposed to return Cornflakes alive to the kobolds… so, that’s not an option.
We’ll see what they get up to next time.
Cheers goonalan, and the Dark Squad.