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The Goodman Gang in The Mysterious Tower

Well, having read "Lost Boys" I had to read this storyhour as well. Good stuff Goonalan - may be less madness, but it looks like being very interesting in its own right. I'm looking forward to more ...
 

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Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
The Lost Boys are all newbies, the Goodman Gang- this lot have more than a 100 years experience of RPG's collectively, they play the percentage game.

Also, while I put a few words in the mouths of The Lost Boys they tend to behave... well as portrayed. We've had singing, and bad singing at that; falling's out; rants; a sorcerer that constantly shouts the odds and wants to mix it with anyone and anything; a Priest and A Paladin who try to outdo each other; and luckily, a Rogue that, although the youngest member of the gang, happens on the answer, time and time again etc.

At times I'm not sure whether to continue with this story hour, there are some good bits coming up, the players get a little more into character, and develop a few edges but it's nowhere near as comic as The Lost Boys, then again, I guess that's not what it's about.

It's also the case that DMing the two groups is a completely different experience, The Lost Boys gaming experience is pure chaos at times, particularly as none of the players seem to have a volume control- shouting and screaming is commonplace. In contrast The Goodman Gang often stop for a 'nice cup of coffee and a cake'.

So an encounter with a Beholder would go a little like this for the The Lost Boys-

"I poke it in it's big fat eye."
"Shoot it- see if it bursts."
"Is it a balloon?"
"How's it floating? Does it have wings?"
"Is it a balloon?"

Followed by a minute of the Paladin and Cleric shoving each others miniature off the board because they both want to charge at it- head on.

Obviously then they start rolling '20's

Whereas The Goodman Gang is more-

Shouting towards the fridge. "It's a Beholder... What? A Beholder... Doesn't matter, fetch me a bottle of water."
"Right then we need to head for the sides or the rear, or better still one of us should try to get on it or under it- remember to stay out of it's Anti-Magic cone..."
Followed by a verbatim reading from the MM, or more often this goes unsaid- they all just know everything there is to know about Beholders.
The guy at the fridge returns "What is it?"
All "A Beholder."
"Oh... Does anyone want anything to eat?"
"I bet you can't name all of the eye rays?"
"Are you mad- easy."

And on it goes, obviously I've applied the magnifying glass to the above situations but you get the gist.

I like that they know all this stuff, it saves me time, but some of the magic is gone. The good thing about them is that, like me, they're enamoured with low level adventures, love starting again- none of them are power gamers.

Anyway, thanks for the comment- much appreciated.

Cheers
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 13: What about OUR Ogre?

Three miles west of the village of Tetknee, through the forest again they come, nobody knows the way, except Cas perhaps, he has a map given to him by Ladrasar, the wise woman of the village.

They’d all met back up in the Frog & Parrot pub there; a lot didn’t get said, for ages, in fact all night. But then it all came together when the wise woman appeared, staggered over to the table that Cas was sitting at, with Ala, and shouted, while thumping the table hard enough to make their drinks dance-

“What about OUR Ogre?”

A price agreed, glances met shrugs, shrugs met nods and here they are again, nearly- Mischa it seems is not cut out for the dungeon experience, and so we have Ala.

The story is less convoluted this time, Ogre in cave, normally quite sweet, well… except for the odd misdemeanour, suddenly gets uppity- starts smashing up trade caravans, farmers killed, livestock butchered or taken- can you fix it. Well… yes, we can… probably.

And so in a low dustbowl where no crops will grow, between two steep and stony scarps is a cave; and here it is.

“Newt, could you perhaps scout ahead, you all know the plan, anyway, just make it angry, make it come out here, we’ll do the rest. Shouldn’t prove too difficult for you, I mean…” Cas runs dry.

“I know what you mean. One Ogre- coming right up.” Newt winks, and scuttles into the dark.

Less than thirty seconds later.

“Waaaaaaahh…”

Newt comes running out, zig-zags once then sprints hard right, out of the line of fire, he’s giggling, he even manages to click his heals with a little jump- grandstanding.

FWUNG
THUNG
FWOOM
Etc.

Arrows, and associated missiles, fly- Ala buries an arrow into the Ogre’s shoulder, it jerks left, and into Bec who’s following up the artillery fire with his charge, the giant man crunches into the Ogre, immovable object meets… no, hang on, Bec crumples and falls. Cas dances forward, slices, and nearly takes the Ogre’s foot off, the creature screams, stumbles back.

The Ogre swings its enormous club around, Cas ducks, and the Ogre lets go, the club hurtles off into the distance. Cas slices again ripping open the Ogre’s chest, a curtain of blood flows as Jim rushes by Cas and…

THUNK

Splits the creature’s chest open completely, the Ogre paws the air, and then topples over, no more.

“Well that wasn’t so bad. If you’d like to wake Bec up and tell him it’s over.” Cas cleans his sword. Jim smiles, and does as he’s told.

Ala and the others move up, they gather, staring at the Ogre.

“That’s not… usual.” Anya states the obvious.

The Ogre’s skin is jet black, his eyes a vile green, they seem to glow, even in death, rancid oozing pustules dot his face and body, he seems to have scratched them so hard that many of them have turned to scabrous cuts and sores.

“He doesn’t look… well.”

Newt kicks the corpse, “he wouldn’t, would he- he’s dead”, and then looks ahead, to the cave.

“Shall we see what he’s got, before we go collect our reward?”

The others nod, and with one last look apiece, head off into the dark.

A sunrod flares.

The cave is sparse, almost empty, not at all homely- something odd. They find two sacks stuffed with coin, and some rancid cheese. The coins sacks are too big to hide, so Newt steals the cheese, it’s in his nature.

There’s a dank dark dripping passage that winds further back.

Newt shrugs, motions with the sunrod, the others silently follow.

Into an enormous cavern.

“What the fu… fu… fu… fu… fu…”

It echoes in here, the ceiling is lost from sight.

FLAP-FLAP

“Something’s coming, flying, switch to missile.” Cas warns, just in time.

A group of long-nosed half-insect half-bird looking creatures swoop into the flare of the sunrod, Newt drops it, hefts his crossbow and-

FWUNG

Plucks one of the Striges out of the air- dead.

Jim gets off a shot but misses by a mile, and then the remaining three Stirges are on them.

One of the creature’s crunch-lands on Anya, squawks, and then plunges its proboscis into her shoulder, gargles blood as she tumbles backwards, falls, the Stirge swells and grows as it sucks down Anya’s blood.

The other two swoop and circle around Cas and Ala who stand side by side, swords drawn.

“Wait.” Cas readies himself, glances at Ala.

The Stirges dive down.

SLICE

Ala cuts through the creature’s wing, it bundles into the cavern floor, squawks a while, then dies, Cas misses as the other Stirge swoops by him.

Newt quickly reloads, spins and fires, scoring a minor hit on the Stirge that sits on the fallen Anya, it takes to the air, it may have outstayed its welcome. Jim dashes in and crunches what’s left of the thing, it explodes spraying blood everywhere.

Ala and Cas turn to face the last Stirge, it banks and comes again.

“Wait.” Cas again readies himself- like some fencing master, glances again at Ala.

She nods, then dances ahead, and brings her longsword around in a deft arc, slicing the final creature in two.

Cas grins at Ala, shows her his sword.

“Look not a mark on it, and yet”, he looks around, “they’re all dead. You know what that’s about don’t you?”
“No, tell me Cas.”
“Leadership Ala.”

They grin, then remember there place and head over to help Anya, who turns out to be “ok, she’s lost some blood- it’s mainly the shock that made her feint, she’ll be alright in a minute”, Ala confirms after a brief examination.

As good as her word, Anya is up in a moment, a little dizzy, but still up for a little more exploration.

“Thank you Ala.”

She smiles at the Elven Cleric, Cas’ new friend.

“Hey, I’ve found something.”

Newt appears; another burning sunrod in his hand.

They head off to see what the Gnome has found.

Thirty seconds later.

“Up there.” Newt motions upwards.
The gathering stops to stare up into the inky darkness- there’s nothing to see.
“Where?” Anya manages.

“Stand back, it’s up there somewhere.”

The others do as their told.

Newt affixes a lit sunrod to a crossbow bolt using a little Gum Arabic with a special substance known only to locksmiths.

“Wait… and watch.”

FWUNG

The bolt leaps into the air, a firework, and…

THUNK

Jams into the rock, for a second, then falls.

A second is enough to see the opening high above, a constructed opening, man-made, or at least, humanoid, probably…

“How did you work out that was up there?” Cas stares.
The others stare at the Gnome in awe, new found respect for his eagle-eyes.
“Easy.”

Newt shifts his feet to reveal a tangle of thick rope.

“I found this rope, y’see the thing about gravity is, and stop me Princess if I’m getting this wrong…”

The Gnome winks at Anya, then grins at Cas, he loves being right, and right here.

“Good work. Now how do we get up?”
“Do we want too?” Ala asks, causing Cas to turn.
“Yes. We do, or at least, I do.”
“Why?”

Everybody waits for an answer, including Cas.

“That’s a good question. And I think the answer may be up there.”

He points up.

“Newt, how do we do this?”

FWUNG

This time the bolt and attached sunrod sails up and into the opening, catches on something hidden- and brings light to the proceedings.

“Right then, anyone any good with one of these?”

Newt holds a beautifully made rope ending in an equally well crafted grappling hook.

It takes a while, six minutes to be exact.

Newt scurries up the line, Cas holding it taught behind him, the grappling hook has obviously found a good purchase.

He’s up.

“All clear.”

He drags himself the last foot or so and gingerly stands, bathed in the light of his sunrod, he squints ahead, tries to see what the future holds.

FWUNG
FWUNG
THUNG

Crossbow bolts clatter and shatter on the rock behind him, including the one that has just taken the top of his left ear off.

“CAAAAAAAZ.”

He recognises the next sound, they’re reloading.

Turn 14: They’re only…
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 14: They’re only…

“CAAAAAAZZZZZ, PLEASE- I’LL BE GOOD.”

Newt turns back, a new noise, they’re charging, hang-on, and reloading- damn there’s lots of them.

“CAAAAAAZZZZZ I PROMISE.”

Newt turns back, out of the glare, and the black beyond, a wave of javelins come, they all fall well short but still skitter on down the corridor at pace. Newt goes to dodge backwards, realises what’s behind him, and too late- is caught on the ankle by one of them.

“CAAA… OH you’re there.”

Lord Casimir pulls himself up, as three creatures charge into the light.

“Hold them.” Cas states.
“Feck.” Newt gulps, and leaps into the fight.

He sees the enemy at last.

“OH. They’re only… Kobolds?”

They’re Kobolds, of sorts, burlier, stockier- nastier. Their skin has rough red patches, rubbed raw, their teeth and claws are longer, somehow twisted- more feral looking. They’re wrapped in mail, armour that is- Scalemail, each has a shield and a military looking shortsword- heavy duty all round. There are three of them, and they mean business.

DMs interlude just for the record the Kobold Footmen have AC 19, yep you heard me right, the Kobold Artillery (with Crossbows) are AC 15, and the Elite Kobolds, when we get to them, are AC 18. None of them have more than 2 hit points, but you’ve got to hit them to kill them. They don’t dish out a lot of damage but they hang around, unlike your normal Kobolds.

Back to the action.

Newt ducks, dodges, bends and blocks- not one of the shortswords hit him, he is however miles away from scoring a hit of his own.

He plays out the same manoeuvres, only in a different order; with the same results- all combatants remain unscathed.

“Cas, please.”
“A second.”

And then Cas is there. Bec’s arm flops up into the corridor, soon followed by the rest of him.

The Kobolds fall back slightly as Cas steps in, giving Newt an opportunity, he smashes his mace into the side of one of the creatures, it falls, goes down holding it’s ribs- gasps for a second and then closes its eyes for good.

FWANG

A crossbow bolt shoots through the gap left by the dying Kobold.

Cas looks aghast.

“Wha…”
“Oh yeah, there’s some more of them- a bit farther on, nice huh.”
“What is this place?”

Cas leans back, still keeping the Kobold at bay.

“GET UP HERE.”

And in that second the Kobold leaps prodigiously and slices, cutting Cas’ throat, a curtain of blood gushes down.

He staggers but stays on board, drops his shield and while clutching at his throat, fights on.

Bec’s giant hand grasps Newt’s shoulder and pulls him over and out of the way, the effect is immediate, his longspear skewers one of the creatures, dead. The last one runs.

“Leg it.”

The Kobold screams. Jim arrives.

“What’s?”

Bec grabs Jim, points ahead at the fleeing form, waves his spear.

“Sandwich?”

And runs after the Kobold. Jim shrugs, grins.

“See yah.”

And sprints off.

Another crossbow bolt pings against the ceiling and clatters off behind them.

Cas channels his healing powers into his ragged throat, the flesh is partially closed, he’s still weak- blood loss.

Anya, and then Ala, quickly scramble up, the latter strides over to Cas, her healing hands do their work, the three head off at a sprint to see where Bec and Jim have got to.

Newt has, in the meantime, taken a good look at the dead Kobolds, they’re both very odd looking, although he’s never seen a Kobold before- perhaps they all look this way. The two bodies do have something else in common, they’re wearing crude gold pendants on leather thongs, each of them a botched depiction of a three fingered hand. The only word that really registers however is ‘gold’- Newt has them both.

Bec stops, he’s entered a huge cavern, lit by a myriad glowing fungi, there’s a river in here somewhere he can hear the water, he spots his pray, sprints off.

He soon catches up with the Kobold Footman, who spins round to meet the foe, the two face off, it’s David vs. Goliath, and you know how that one turned out. Bec swings and pokes, the Kobold dances out of the way, manages a snarl, or two- they’re vicious, you’ll have to give them that.

Jim sprints on, figuring that Bec can take care of himself.

He’s approaching a river, actually more of a stream, although the current’s running at quite a lick. What’s going on, he takes a look around.

SNICK

Bec meantime gets his Kobold, spearing the creature through its chest.

He rushes forward to Jim as the others troop into the cavern.

“There.”

Jim spots them, points, the remaining two Kobolds are down the bank of the stream, using slick looking stepping stones, sawn-off stalagmites actually, to get across the stream.

“Save meeeeeee.”

As he watches one of the Kobolds slips, and splashes, into the stream, he soon disappears from sight, the river plunges into a dark cavern.

The other makes the far bank, screaming.

“Intruders. Intruders. Bloody help me.”

The Kobold is just about to make it to freedom when Anya strikes a glorious pose, think gangsta rapper with gun, only substitute the beautifully coiffured Anya- with Magic Missile Wand.

“Smidgin”, delivered in breathy-whisper.

The missile hits, the Kobold staggers and collapses- dead.

Newt meanwhile is adding to his new collection, he grabs another pendent-thingy from the Kobold Bec killed.

The group convene momentarily; take a quick look around the huge cavern.

“So what’s going on here?” Cas asks.
Ala shrugs, “What do you think?”
“I don’t know but you saw that Ogre, and the Kobolds… they’re, twisted… somehow.”
“I guess that means we should take a look.”
“I’m game”, Newt adds and then has an attack of conscience, he mentally adds that to his tally so far in life, the total is now at one, “I found some... er, one of these… this.”
He holds out a pendent for the others to inspect.
“It’s an odd looking device- I’ve no idea of its meaning, I must say I’m intrigued too.” Anya states.
Jim nods.
“Can I have sandwich?”
“Then it’s decided, we’ll head on for a while, see where it takes us.” Cas states.
“I’ll keep the pendent then, for safety reasons”, Newt confirms, and grins.

Cas leads them down to the river, hops onto the first of the stepping stones, and seconds later is across- easy. Jim follows, it’s all going well, when the ceiling moves.

“Jim.”

Anya screams, the Rock Centipede is hard to spot, but not now it’s moving, it hangs onto a stalactite above and reaches down to grab for Jim, he dodges aside at the last moment. The creature is a good six feet long, the colour of stone, and yet, on it’s sides, on the individual segments, there seems to be a glowing, at least now the creature is moving, representation of the three-fingered hand.

“Intruders. Get the vile interlopers.”

Cas looks behind him, up the bank, coming out of a tunnel is another Kobold, a solitary individual, he darts over. The two meet, swords clash, there’s something really odd here- Cas thinks, every story he’s been told was about Kobolds running off to get their friends, only attacking when the odds were heavily stacked in their favour? And armoured…

The Kobold holds Cas off, he hates to say it, but- easily.

Jim dives the last few feet across the stream and rushes up the slope to help Cas.

Ala’s bow sings.

CRUNCH

The arrow shatters the side of the Rock Centipede’s skull; it unpeels from the stalagmite and splashes into the river only to be carried off.

Bec meantime has found a short cut; he wades through the stream avoiding the stepping stones entirely. He’s halfway across when the second Rock Centipede makes its appearance, it snaps its jaws inches from Bec’s face, he calmly steps back and stabs his longspear through the creature, wrenches it down and flings it into the water.

The Kobold before Jim and Cas is having troubles, it’s still screaming.

“Tell the Master- Intruders.”

The Kobold stumbles; Jim stabs the thing through its cold heart.

Behind them Ala jumps at the first stepping stone, hits it hard, slips and slides over the edge, she grabs on.

Cas looks back. She smiles- she’s ok, begins to pull herself up.

“CAS.”

Jim shouts, four more Kobolds appear from the same tunnel, two instantly drop to one knee, ready light crossbows to fire, the two others make ready, all are heavily armoured.

Cas, Bec and Jim charge towards them. The Kobolds fire.

FWUNG
CRUNCH

The first bolt misses, the second crossbow suffers some technical aberration, shatters, sending the bolt back and up, through the firer’s face, one down.

The two Kobold Footmen see their opportunity and rush in.

Cas meets the first, he’s still charging, he swings- connects and cuts the creature clean in two.

Bec settles for impaling his.

That leaves one, now heavily outnumbered; he drops his crossbow and flees.

Jim, Bec and Cas charge on into the tunnel- Jim’s sunrod lighting the way ahead.

Back at the stepping stones, Ala slips again, tumbles, banging her head as she goes down, she grabs on for dear life- screams.

“Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas.”

But he’s gone.

“I’ll help you.”

Anya wades into the stream, and in an instant gets stuck herself, the current’s too strong for her, she scrabbles to stay upright.

Newt dives down the bank, he’s not really built for this, he weighs much less than half of either of these ladies, and although he hates to admit it, strength is not his thing- and he hates water.

Then he stops- there’s something on the other side.

“Feck”, he points, shouts over the sound of the river, “there’s another cavern- KOBOLDS.”

To emphasise his point a crossbow bolt smashes into the stepping stone that Ala is desperately clinging onto.

Turn 15: Two Way Split
 

Goonalan said:
At times I'm not sure whether to continue with this story hour, there are some good bits coming up, the players get a little more into character, and develop a few edges but it's nowhere near as comic as The Lost Boys, then again, I guess that's not what it's about.

Well comedy certainly isn't my only reason for reading a storyhour - so I hope you keep it going.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 15: Two way split

The trio of pursuers; Jim, Bec & Cas, head down the tunnel following the fleeing Kobold, he flashes in and out of sight, Bec is having trouble keeping track of the creature, Jim has the light and he’s not keeping up.

The Kobold heads towards a larger cavern, thank Pelor, it’s lit, there’s a brazier burning in there, a guard room, without the guards.

The Kobold zags behind a stone pillar, Bec runs around it, the Kobold comes back round the other side- towards Jim, dodges left and up another sloped passage, and away from his pursuers again.

Meanwhile…

“Help me.”

Ala screams clutching onto the rock, Anya has no way to get to her, she dives forward, onto the bank, and scrambles up the side and out of the stream.

She crawls up the slope, spots the Kobold that Newt had seen earlier, the creature grins, steps aside, four huge Dire Rats spring from the cavern, head towards her.

“RAAAAAAATTTS.”

Newt screams and fires.

Thwung

Wings one of the creatures, only slows it down a little.

Anya drags herself to her feet, reaches behind and looses “Swish”, the broom sweeps forward as Anya steps back.

Meanwhile…

The Kobold dashes up the slope towards a lit chamber, screaming-

“Slazzik, save me- intruders.”

Bec, Jim and Cas exchange glances, they’re running up a slope after the Kobold still, shadows appear at the top- more Kobolds, they seem to be grappling with something.

CRUNCH-WIBBLE-WIBBLE-WBBLE-WBLE-RUMBLEEEEE.

A huge stone comes rolling down the slope, a huge stone bowling ball, and they’re the pins.

Meanwhile…

Two rats snap at Swish, the broom holds them off, the other two snake past the broom and are on Anya- she smashes one of them with her staff- dead.

FWUNG

A crossbow bolt thumps into the side of the other rat, its dead. Anya looks left, Newt winks at her, she smiles, the odds are getting better.

Ala lets go of the rock stepping stone, kicks her legs, swims- thrashes the water, she drifts hard right, and to the shore, she drags herself out.

Fwunk

A crossbow bolt passes over Anya’s shoulder and, she’s back in the room.

Meanwhile…

RUMBLE-CRUNCH.

The boulder takes out the Kobold ahead.

RUMBLE

The boulder rushes on, hits Jim- a glancing blow, he staggers and falls on to the hard cavern floor.

Bec and Cas rush into the room ahead, and into a gaggle of Kobolds, four of them- heavily armed and armoured, as usual- nasty looking, same as the others.

There are another two Kobolds over the far end of the chamber, one guarding the other, the other being a scabrous looking individual, short even by Kobold standards, wearing a tatty yellow robe. The chamber itself is dirty and smelly- five stinky beds and at the far side a crude stone desk, old moth-eaten and filthy tapestries on the walls, a huge black candle burns brightly on the desk.

The Kobold wizard, Slazzik, has something in his hand- it’s a wand.

“Wiiiizard.”

Cas screams.

“Smidgin.”

A bolt of force dances and swoops around the room, and slams into Cas, knocking him back a few feet.

Cas reaches down and stabs a Kobold through the chest, Bec meanwhile fares less well, he over-extends himself and is cut twice, one of them a deep blow to his thigh, the giant man staggers, but doesn’t go down.

“Smidgin.”

Another bolt of force slams into Cas, he staggers back again. Jim gets into the room, a Kobold dashes forward to meet him, catches him on the shin- hard, Jim shoots an arm out to the cavern wall steadies himself, he’s bleeding badly, the Kobold snarls. This isn’t going too well.

Cas swings again and decapitates one of the Kobold guards. Bec’s back on form- stabs one through his armour- dead, lashes the end of his longspear round and smacks the second in the face, the Kobold’s head jolts back, neck snaps.

“Smidgin.”

A third Magic Missile slams into Cas’ chest, he wavers but stays on his feet.

Jim and his Kobold tormentor exchange blows, no damage done.

Cas and Bec rush on, charge towards the Wizard and his guard.

Jim slices into the Kobold, it slumps to the floor dead. He rushes forward towards the Wizard and co.

Flames leap from the Wizard Kobold’s outstretched hands- engulf all three of the adventurers, and his guard, which expires in flame.

Cas hits the deck, crisped a little around the ages.

Jim dodges back, avoids the majority of the flame. Bec just rushes through it, smoking, still burning in places, he emerges- stabs at the Kobold Wizard, Slazzik dodges aside, he misses.

Slazzik’s desperate, he stumbles over Draconic phrases, another spell, Bec stabs again, Slazzik dodges again, he misses but the spell is disrupted.

Jim drags himself up and rushes forward.

Slazzik dodges another crude blow from Bec, and this time conjures up a spell, another Burning Hands, the flames engulf Jim and Bec; Jim is crisped, falls.

Just Bec left standing.

Slazzik stumbles backwards to the cavern wall, attempts the same spell again, Bec charges, disrupts the Wizard’s spell as he rams his spear through the Kobold’s chest, the Wizard sinks, gasps- and dies.

Bec breathes hard then trudges over to Cas, pours a Potion of Healing down the Paladin’s throat, then another down Jim’s- thirty seconds later they’re back up. Jim gulps down his goodberry, he’s been carrying it a while, who knows if it does any good.

Cas grabs the Wizard’s wand.

Meanwhile…

Two Dire Rats snap at Swish, the Magic Broom, Ala drags herself out of the stream and up the bank.

A bunch of Kobolds spill out of the cavern, another guard room, three more Kobold Footmen, and two with crossbows, as usual, armed to the teeth.

“KOBOLDS.”

Newt screams.

FWUNG

His crossbow sings- one of the Kobold Artillery sinks to the floor- dead.

“Smidgin.”

Anya vogues with her wand.

One of the other charging Kobolds crashes to the floor- dead.

Ala draws her sword, ready for the two Kobold Footmen approaching.

Fwung

Another crossbow whistles by Anya.

Swish scratches one of the rats attacking it.

FWUNG

The second Kobold Shooter hits the deck; Newt’s getting good at this.

“Smidgin.”

And another Kobold Footman hits the deck.

Ala and the remaining Kobold Footman slug it out, to no effect.

One of the rats has hold of Swish, dragging the broom left and right, when it lets go Swish is still unharmed, the broom flicks over and ‘clonks’ the rat on it’s skull- dead.

FWUNG

Newt’s crossbow takes out the last rat.

Anya parries the Kobold’s blow then brings the pommel of her sword up swiftly, caves the creatures head in.

Newt leaps from stepping stone to stepping stone, traverses the stream, easily.

And then the other members of the adventuring group reappear.

“Where the hell have you been?” Ala’s angry.
“I…” Cas starts up.
“Of you go, rushing ahead, I was in the river.”
“You nodded, smiled at me, I thought you were OK.” Cas looks guilty, then spots the bodies, Kobolds and Dire Rats.
“What happened here?”
“They did.”

Ala and Cas stare at each other for a while, in the background Newt is scooting round stealing as many of the pendants as he can.

The pair break up, Ala sets to healing the others, they’re not speaking to each other.

Five minutes later the adventurers move out.

“So where are we? What is this place?” Anya asks.

Newt shrugs, nobody has an answer.

They enter the second cavern.

Newt shuffles ahead, puts his hand up, wait. He points up.

“Trap… Look...”

The Gnome creeps in, following a rope down to a tripwire, he cuts it- the net ahead falls, netting nothing.

They move forward, and in, through a guard room and into a rats den, there’s nothing to find.

And in silence they wander back to the stream.

“Look will you two just sort it out?” Newt’s tired of the looks and long silences; he stares at Ala and Cas.

The pair wander off a way.

“I thought you were ok?” Cas begins.
“I was… I am, it’s just you can’t keep running off all the time.”
“I…”
“No listen Cas- I don’t know what you want, and the problem is neither do you… you need to take better care of yourself, of your friends, of me. If you’re going to be a leader, then lead, don’t follow- that was stupid splitting the group up, you could have got us all killed.”
“I know, I…”
“No you don’t know. You need to know. You scare me, I never thought it would be easy… being with you, but you’ve got to understand, you need to look out for all these people- they depend on you. I depend on you. I…”
Ala grabs Cas’ arm.
“Just take it easy from now on.”
Cas goes to reach for her, but she’s gone.

They head off to the Wizard’s chamber, Cas catches up with Anya, gives her the wand he found, “the command word is ‘Smidgin’, use it wisely”, Anya grins at Cas.

“Anything I can help you with back there.”
Cas thinks about it, Anya’s look lingers on the forlorn Paladin.
“Nothing I can’t handle, now let’s stay sharp.”

The chamber is as before, except for a steady pulse from the Wizard’s robe, about where the heart is.

“He’s still alive.” Jim states.
“Nope”, Newt stamps on the Wizard’s heart, a squidgy sound, then rips the creatures robes open, a dead toad inside, “his familiar.”

“Let’s see what else he’s got.”

A full search follows and everything that looks to be of worth is placed on the desk, the Wizard has all the good stuff- a glowing Pearl and a set of Bracers. Anya takes the Pearl, “I think it’s some sort of magical focus… for Wizards.” She stares at Ala. The Bracers go to Bec, because he likes them, or at least he takes them and straps them on- they expand to fit his tree-trunk arms, nobody argues.

The black candle they saw earlier sits in a golden candle-holder, they take that, and a dark tome, that no-one, not even Anya can read, she’ll have to try her magic on it later.

They head off again- another empty guard room and then on, they’re at a docks area, or at least there are several rafts pulled up at an underground pool, they follow the flow, there’s a dark cavern ahead, the stream heads that way.

“We’ll rest here. I think that’s enough for a while.”

Nobody complains so they find a safe place and build a fire, eat something, feel human again.

Next Turn: She’s my one and only…

And thus endeth the first session of play in this scenario, which is only the third session of actual play in total for these hardy folk.
 

Richard Rawen

First Post
Nicely done, enjoying the feel of it. The character development post was appreciated, looks like you have a flare for writing, and not just one style.
Thanks for taking the time to share it all with us.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Thanks for that Richard, much appreciated.

Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 16: She’s my one and only…

We’re back at the camp, the fishing expedition.

“And I think we should go back.” Cas states.
Ala grabs his arm- tender.
“What the feck for?” Newt spits.
“Food.”
Newt stops speaking. Ala lets go of Cas’ arm, he looks back, she looks away.
“We need to get some food, I mean who knows what’s down that river, or how far it goes- we may be in here a while.”
“Good idea.” Newt grins.
“Why ARE we here?” Ala asks.
“Because THERE’S something wrong here, you saw the Kobolds.”
“So they’ve got something wrong with them, a disease, it could be a disease.”
Jim itches.
“Ala, please. We should do this right, you said so yourself. There’s something down here- something bad, I can feel it.”
“Me.”
Everyone turns to look at Bec, he struggles for the next word.
“Too.”

Cas looks back at Ala, she sighs and turns away.
“Then what are we waiting for?” Newt is off. “We should check out that big cavern, where we came in, I could have sworn I saw another exit from it, don’t want to leave enemies behind us Cas- you said that, last time.”
Cas sighs, “I remember.”

The group gather up their gear and head back, the stream is easily forded this time- they have time and patience on their side. Same too with the grappling hook and the rope down, although they leave it in place, and well secured.

They’re back in the first large cavern, right at the entrance- the Ogre’s cave; the bodies of the Stirges are still there.

“Look, I told you.” Newt’s spotted another cavern passage already, he heads of.
“Wait”, Cas calls but the Gnome is gone.
Ala rushes past him, after Newt, a glance says it all.

And into another chamber, Newt is pressed hard against the wall fiddling with his crossbow, “there”, he whispers, and points- a pair of bobbing glowing lights approach, at speed, there are other pairs of lights within the cavern.

“Fire beetles.” Newt hisses, and giggles.

THWUNG

Newt’s crossbow bolt buries itself into the creatures carapace, only slows it, a little.
“Ca…” Ala begins, but he’s already there, all of them are.

They fan out to meet the approaching beetles, all three of them.

The Fire Beetles, seemingly enraged, tumble forward into the light, their carapaces glow, tiny human skulls, like a ladybug’s but much creepier.

“What are these things?” Jim asks.

FWOOM

Jim’s magic arrow slices through one of the creatures, it spurts and oozes as it thrashes dead, the stink is appalling. Bec, caught in the blast of the stench, twists away and stumbles over. Ala leaps in and ends another of the beasts. Anya, watches her, and then rushes in with her staff, she connects, but only serves to further enrage the clambering beetle, it snaps and bites at her, she dodges back, leaving a perfect gap.

FWUNK

For another crossbow bolt from Newt, the last beetle stumbles and sinks, they’re all gone, and the smell.

“Pelor save me, is that you Jim?” Cas grins.
The others chuckle, Jim reddens, even Ala smiles.
“Can I have sandwich?” Bec’s up.
“Come on big guy.” Cas pats him on the back.

“There’s another tunnel- straight over.” Newt goes to make for it. Cas reaches out and grabs him.
“OK Newt, this time by the numbers.”
The Gnome grins, dances a little ahead, looks back to make sure it’s not too far.

They head into the next passage, and into another chamber, and into some more Fire Beetles, with equally strange decals.

Newt and Jim are first in, they fire.

FWUMP
THONG

And two of the three beetles are dead, the artillery moves out of the way as Bec jogs forward, longspear at the ready, and skewers the last of the beetles.

“Bee-kul.” He states, then the stink gets to him again and he tosses the dead thing away.

They check the chamber out thoroughly, there’s nowhere to go and nothing in it.

Back to the main chamber and...

“There’s another passage.” Newt dashes over.
“Wait.”
And does so, “same again people, we’re in the groove. Ala?”
“Yes Cas.”
“Watch my back.”
She grins, “yes Cas, whatever you say.”
Anya sneers, silently, and unseen.

They’re through the passage and into another large cavern, nothing of interest, at first.

Then…

< >

No noise, just a blanket of darkness that settles over Bec and Ala, one second they’re there, the next they’re gone from sight.

Becs pauses, then feels something, something rubbery on his shoulder- he seizes whatever it is, just as several other rubbery something’s- tentacles by the feel of them, grab for him. He rips the thing off of him, before it can get a grip, and then Ala’s light spell flares and he’s holding some kind of flying octopus in his hands.

“SQWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.”

The Darkmantle is not so enamoured with the light, it pulses, rips itself free from the Barbarian’s hands, and jets upwards.

THONG

Jim’s magic arrow slices through it, it flutters and pulses- struggles to remain afloat.

“Smidgin.”

The Magic Missile finishes the job.

“Good work Anya, Newt.”
The pair smile at Cas.

There’s another cavern ahead, when they get close they realise it’s not all that grand, a low chamber lies beyond, the ceiling only two to three feet high.

“We’ll leave it.” Cas is about to turn around.
“Hang on, there might be something in there.”
“Newt?”
“Please Cas, let me take a look.”
Cas looks at Ala, she looks away.
“Be quick then.”

And the Gnome is gone.

“Jim, watch his back.” The Ranger shuffles in crouches to see as Newt and his sunrod crawl inside.

For his part Newt does the best he can to put his body between the chest he spotted earlier, and Jim’s watching brief.

He scrambles in the dirt to the chest, a cursory check- no traps, he unlocks it, and it’s as easy as that. Knocks it over- towards him, there’s no room to see into the chest from above. The contents spill out- mostly money but there’s some other stuff, including- strange, four wooden dolls which are…

Getting up.

He looks on horrified as the four petticoat wearing milking-maids totter towards him, grab at his ankle, his hand, his shirt, his hair- scratching, biting, gouging- he screams.

“I’M SORRRRRRRRREEEEEE.”

Jim drops his bow and crawls in, Cas follows, and in seconds they’re on the scene.

The four dolls have still got a hold of the thrashing Gnome, who’s bleeding from over a half-a-dozen nicks and cuts.

Cas grabs out, catches hold of one of the dolls and repeatedly smashes it onto the stone cavern floor until it’s splintered wood in his hands. Jim struggles to grab one, so swivels around and kicks a doll, sending it hurtling off into the dark.

“Get them off me, get them off me.” Newt screams.

The other two dolls continue to claw and scratch at the Gnome, he takes some more damage, until Jim swats one, and Cas the other.

“Go.” Cas barks.

Newt furiously scrambles back out.

Jim and Cas spot the open chest, scoop the money back in until-

“Cas.”
“Yep.”
“It’s coming back- behind you.”
Cas looks beyond Jim.
“You too.”

They shuffle round to meet their adversaries again- there’s one heading for Jim, two for Cas.

Outside Newt shivers, “living dolls, living dolls, I hate…”

Cas scrabbles at the creatures, eventually grabs hold of one, he’s clawed and scratched several times in the process, and smashes the thing as hard as he can into the low ceiling- till it’s splinters. He manages to kick the other away.

Jim sees another way out. Waits for the doll to approach and then launches himself at it, kicking it as hard as he can.

“INCOMING.”

The doll shoots out of the chamber, Bec traps it with his foot, Newt picks himself up and runs away, Bec stamps on the thing until it’s gone.

“Kick it out… out to the others.” Jim manages.

The last doll wends its way back towards Cas, he tries Jim’s trick, with equal success, the wooden effigy comes shooting out, Bec goes to stamp on it but it’s not moving, it seems to have lost its head en route.

The pair drag the chest out, as Ala deals out the last of her healing.

The chest contains lots of gold, half-a-dozen small rubies, three scrolls, which Anya examines, and two coils of rope complete with grappling hooks.

A little later they choose straws and, as it turns out, Bec and Anya head off back to Tetknee to recap their adventures so far, grab more food and supplies for a longer campaign.

The others head back to the river, to rest for the remainder of the day and night, await the re-supply mission.

During the rest the four do there level best to ready themselves for the trials ahead, equipment repaired, cleaned, polished- made good again; backpacks re-ordered- everything needed within reach.

Cas takes the opportunity to talk again with Ala.
“I known there’s something bad here Ala, something terrible.”
“I can feel it too- I don’t like the place, there’s something wrong here.”
“Then we’re agreed, we need to go on- to find what’s causing these aberrations, put an end to whatever it is?”
“Yes. Of course, it’s just… I don’t trust some of the others.” Ala states.
Cas looks hard round at her.
“Who don’t you trust, I mean… Who?”
“It’s not for me to say- I can’t, I don’t know, I’m just worried that something bad is going to happen, and I can’t see where it’s going to come from, in front or behind.”
Cas snakes an arm around her, pulls her too him.

By the water’s edge Jim and Newt are refilling their flasks, Newt looks over to Cas and Ala.
“I wonder how they met?” Newt asks.
Jim shrungs, “dunno, she’s nice though”, he grins a little.
Newt spins round, “I’m not so sure… She’s always worried… Something’s always going to happen- dangers ahead, don’t do this, don’t do that… and the looks I get. We’re here to explore… Not…”, he trails off.
Jim stares at the Gnome, and then beyond to Ala.
“She’s alright.” The Ranger rests his hand on Newt’s shoulder, the turns and heads off- canteen full.
Leaving Newt staring hard at the holy pair.

Ala, at that moment, turns to meet his eye.

Next Turn: Incey-Wincey.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 17: Incey-Wincey.

Out in the sunlight, on the way back to Tetknee, Bec dawdles and wanders, glad again to be back in the light, away from the closed spaces of the dungeon.

Anya reaches back to cradle the giant man’s arm- hurry him along.

Bec thinks-

WarmarmsuuuuunlightlightlightsunlightwarmsuANYATOUCHmmmmwarmanyawarmsunlightwarmanyaANYAANYAANYAwarmmmmmmmHOT.

Bec reaches out to grab at the Wizard’s robe, her nape- the back of her neck- touches, Anya shrugs his hand away.

“Come on, my bloody feet are killing me, lets get this done before I make you carry me.”

Bec thinks-

Anyaanyanicesandwich.

Seven hours later Bec and Anya are back at the river, and loaded with goodies, they’ve managed to scrounge together twenty days supply of trail rations, claim the parties initial reward, Anya thought to take the Ogre’s skull back to confirm their victory, and several more healing potions, after some quick talking and gold to the wise woman. They’ve also managed to secure a few more party favourites, particularly another two dozen sunrods.

There’s a good feeling at the camp, the adventurers are already rested, and itching to see what lies ahead. Cas however is all business, they’ll stay the night here, wait until Ala and Anya have their spells back before they head out.

A watch rota is drawn up.

The night passes.

But not without incident.

It’s late, it’s Newt’s guard shift, and yet here he is, sitting hidden in the shadows, stripes of fire flicker across his face, he’s two feet away from a sleeping Ala.

Not a sound. Not the lap of water. Not the lick of fire. Not the sound of his own breathing. Newt crouches in the dark place, inside his brain, twisting the dagger in his hand- watching her.

And then, slowly. Very slowly.

The sounds return. The lap of water. The lick of fire. The sound of his breath. The sound of Ala’s breathe.

Newt stands and creeps over to the fire, puts his dagger away en route, sits and sips coffee- watches over his sleeping companions.

All is quiet.

Anya doesn’t move, lies still on her side, in the dark- watching Newt.

Early morning of the second day sees the group divided between the two rafts- Ala, Lord Cas & Bec, on the first- Jim, Newt & Anya on the second.

They paddle off into the huge cavern, following the steady flow of the stream. The light of their sunrods bouncing off the huge glistening caverns walls.

“Spider.” Newt yells, and for good measure, points.

They follow his finger, and sure enough high above them sits a enormous spider, it’s body must be eight to ten feet long, it’s nestled on a huge web, which the onlookers follow down- it blocks the way forward, the rafts are about to bump into it.

Cas back-paddles furiously, makes good-water, out of the flow of the stream. Ala fires, unsteady, the arrow flies wide.

“Bec, paddle.”

The lug of a man sets too, as Cas stands up and grabs for his bow.

The other raft spirals towards the web, a little out of control, all three of its passengers take aim, there’s nobody rowing, or steering, for that matter. Jim’s arrow catches the creature square on, ripping into its flesh; Anya manages to launch a sling stone into the creature, although with little effect, only Newt misses.

The spider’s had enough of this, there’s nowhere else for it to go, it scuttles down its web towards the waters edge.

FLiiiirt

A sticky strand shoots from the spinnerets of the beast, snags Cas, hauls him in- the Paladin is lifted into the air, Ala grabs at him but fails to connect, Cas swings madly as he’s reeled in, and up, and into the webs- stuck fast.
Bec back-paddles furiously.
“No, forward.” Ala screams.

Jim grabs an oar and in the last instant tries to keep the other raft off the webs, Anya dives down and does the same, the two thrash at the water.

FWUNG

Newt’s crossbow sings and the spider takes another hit.

Bec drops his oar, staggers to his feet, rocking the raft, which closes in on the web, he rushes to the edge and leaps for Cas.

SPLOOOSH

And finds only the water, he surfaces and slowly drifts into the web.

Ala rocks back and forth, keeps her balance- just, then-

THWONG

Slams another arrow into one of the spiders legs, its heading down now- towards Cas.

Anya leaves off the rowing, the raft half-turns and reverses into the web, she steadies herself, points her wand, “Smidgin”, the magic bolt rocks the spider but it continues on its course. Newt fires hurriedly, falls on his back in the same instant, misses by a country mile his crossbow bolt slams into the cavern ceiling looses dirt and rock that cascade down, along with his bolt, back onto the boat and its inhabitants- he takes a thump to the skull.

And then the spider is on Cas, it rears up- revealing its dripping fangs, and then plunges them into him, he feels the poison pulse, burning him inside, his strength fading, he gasps…

“Ala…”

Bec flounders in the water, trying to climb up to Cas, he can’t, he’s stuck in the web. Ala lies down on the floor of the raft as it finally drifts into the lower reaches of the web, bobs and stays there- captured. She fires, the arrow slices into the spiders abdomen, dripping filthy yellow ichor.

Newt fires again.

THwong

And buries six inches of steel in the creature, the spider goes limp, looks to fall for a second but is caught in its own web. Only then can they finally make out the shape of the three-fingered hand etched on its abdomen.

The operation to remove Cas takes quite a while, eventually the pale-faced Paladin is dragged down, holding his side, the puncture wounds. Ala does the best she can to heal him, the rafts still caught in the lower reaches of the web, safe there for the moment.

With his wounds cleaned and closed the poison still runs its course, in less than a minute the Paladin is doubled over clutching at his stomach, convulsing, sweating- a mess.

“We need to find somewhere for him to rest. We need to get him to land.”
Ala’s not even trying to hide the desperation in her voice.

It’s at that point that the web finally gives way and the rafts drift on- deeper into the cavern.

Bec and Jim paddle furiously but it’s of little use, they’re in the current.

Ala grasps Cas’ hand, he opens his eyes for a second, smiles at her, then heads back to the pain and the dark place, where the poison burns, within him.

The rafts drift out of the cavern into another larger chamber.

“Right.” Anya whispers, “There’s land”, they paddle with the flow and soon scrape the rafts up against a stony shore.

The rafts are dragged out of the water and Newt is sent forward, sunrod in hand, to check the place out, he returns in thirty seconds, there’s a hole, a tunnel, it’s only small but I think it goes into a larger cavern.

“We need to find cover Newt.” Anya states the obvious.
“I know, there’s nothing else.”
Ala nods.
“This way.” Newt heads off.
“Jim, drag the rafts out of the stream.” Anya adds.
Jim nods and sets to work.

The others arrive at an opening, a low tunnel in the rock, all that’s left of a much larger passage, possibly a cave in some time ago.

“It doesn’t look safe.” Ala worries.
“Nothing looks safe. Besides, it’s my ass.” Newt grins.
“Here grab this.” Newt ties a rope around his waist, passes the end to Bec, “if I holler, pull me out.”
“Sandwich?”
“Sure you can”, Newt pats Bec’s arm and scrambles up and through the gap.

“Ala. Ala. Ala.” Cas intones, she rushes to his side.
“I can’t see anything Ala.” He cries.
“It’s cold.” Cas continues, she wraps her cloak around him.

“FECK.” It’s Newt, he comes shooting back out of the tunnel, Bec the cause, he’s banged and bruised, he lies panting on the floor.

“Undead. Ghoul. I think… in there.” He points.

At that point the Ghoul pops his head out of the passage, which turns out to be the last thing he does- Jim’s magic arrow smashes its head like an over-ripe pumpkin. The creature’s body is soon dragged out of the way.

“See ya.” Newt climbs up and back in; he’s a sucker for punishment.
“Wait.” Ala orders, he stops, she strides over and weaves her magic, “this should protect you a little, from anything evil you may encounter.”
“Ta.” Newt nods and is off again.
“Brave.” Anya mouths.
“Or a fool.” Ala completes.
Bec nods, at both comments.

Thirty seconds later the Gnome’s voice echoes from down the tunnel.

“All clear.”

One by one they head through, and into a graveyard- of sorts. The chamber is dotted with open graves, each about six feet deep, at the bottom of each a skeleton.

“Newt.” Ala’s not pleased.
“Where else is there?”

The group fans out, Ala holding Cas up, they creep around the open graves, to the left and to the right- Bec stops and turns, he’s heard something, a door in the wall opens to his right and a vicious looking feral creature, all flaking grey skin and jutting bones, stands for a second silhouetted in the light.

It launches itself at him, the pair tumble into one of the open graves, Bec is dragged down, the creature has remarkable strength, he’s bitten on his shoulder and clawed across the chest. He can feel his limbs stiffen, then his mind empties- or rather… is empty, and he’s up and fighting back.

The creature exudes a nauseous miasma, the air thickens, Cas gags and collapses, Newt and Anya back away as far as they can choking from the stink.

Bec leans way back and then forward at great speed, smashes his head into the creatures face, caving in most of the right side, the Ghast flails and falls against the opposite side of the grave.

Fwang

Newts crossbow bolt digs into the dirt. Ala fumbles for her holy symbol, mutters prayers, but the creature snarls and gets back up. Jim launches himself into the pit, there’s a brief struggle and he’s thrown aside.

Ala tries to turn the Ghast again- fails badly. Bec head butts the creature for a second time, it rocks back- stunned for a second. Jim jumps in with his dagger in hand- only gouges a hollow in the dirt. The Ghast is getting back up.

“Smidgin.” The Magic Missile crashes into it, sitting it back down.

GGGGrrrind.

Another door opens, at the far side of the chamber, unseen as of yet, and rushing into the light come a trio of armoured Skeletons.

“Bugger.” Newt voices everyone’s feelings.

Anya is caught from behind, scratched along her back. Cas, desperate, levers himself to his feet, wafts his sword and slumps down again- exhausted. Ala tries again with her prayers, brandishing her holy symbol, again to no affect, there’s something about this place, it feels unholy.

Anya and Newt attack the skeletons with staff and mace respectively, to no effect.

Bec and Jim however double team the Ghast, both plunge daggers into the creature- it writhes a moment then ceases its struggle.

Anya looses Swish, the broom hops forward to attack the Skeleton but is knocked away with ease, it tumbles into another open grave. The skeleton lurches towards Anya, swipes and connects, she’s scratched across her neck, she backs off instinctively, narrowly misses following Swish into the open grave.

“ALMIGHTY CORELLON…”

Ala finishes her fourth prayer, this time the skeletons glow softly- stiffen, then shuffle back the way they came.

Newt, Bec and Jim leap after the creatures, smashing as they go- they’re soon splinters, shards of bone.

Cas coughs, blood, then fades away. Ala is at his side.

The Paladin is made comfortable, or as best they can.

Bec and Jim head off into the Ghasts chamber, their light casts a feeble glow, the rock walls are a deep blood red, they quickly discover a hidden area. Bec rolls away a great boulder and behind, in the space, is a hidden cache, a large sack full of lumps of agate, maybe two dozen of them, and a beautifully crafted longsword, made of some dark metal, in a battered leather scabbard.

“Cas?” Jim offers.
Bec nods, the pair take the sword back to the sick Paladin, and show the others their find.

Newt and Anya discover a whole selection of swords and shields in the chamber the skeletons emerged from, several of the items of excellent quality, probably Masterwork.

Ala Detects Magic when they have the whole pile before them, the longsword registers, it will indeed go to Cas, when, and if, he wakes. The others re-equip as necessary, Bec takes a good quality longsword and shield in case he needs to fight in close quarters.

They make camp here, Newt and Jim briefly head out the hole to hide their tracks and make sure the rafts are well out of sight.

On the way back the pair lean shields and swords against the crawlspace, figuring that if someone wants to get in they’ll have to dislodge the pile.

They rest again.

The early warning system proves its worth three hours later, when clambering into the chamber come another trio of skeletons, similarly armoured.

The creatures are summarily destroyed by Jim, Bec and Newt, with no harm coming to the brave adventurers.

Newt gets twitchy a while later and without telling anyone slips out, the water seems to extend out from where they’re camped, another huge pool, there may be another landing, over the far side- he can’t make it out for sure.

What he is certain of is there’s a ledge somewhere, he can hear voices, Kobold’s, it must overlook the lake he thinks, and with that he heads back inside.

A little later in the cold dark Jim wakes, Anya’s on guard duty, he can see the whites of her eyes.

“Why did you come back?” He whispers.
Anya thinks, before whispering back.
“I couldn’t go back… to my old life.”
Jim nods.
“Things have changed, no that’s not it- I’ve changed.” Anya goes on.
Jim nods again.
“But Lowth hasn’t. It won’t. Ever.” She finishes and rubs her eyes.
The silence stretches.

“Don’t despair. You can change it.” Jim reaches out, touches Anya’s shoulder, she leans her head down, rests it on his hand.
“Thanks Jim.” She whispers.
He moves in closer.

They hold each other in the dark.

“I thought you came back for Cas.” Jim half-smiles.
Anya, just for a second, stiffens, and then looks away.

Next Turn: A Little Army
 

Loup Du Noir

First Post
Just wanted to leave a comment to extend my appreciation for this and your other two story hours. I'm enjoying them very much. Thanks, Goonalan.
 

monboesen

First Post
Human Male Commoner Level 1 (Training to become a Barbarian)
CG HP 11 AC 14 Init +1
Str 18 Dex 12 Con 18 Int 11 Wis 8 Ch 9


Why all the stupidity?

Bec is actually more intelligent that the average person. (and more intelligent than Ala for instance)

Elf Female Cleric Level 1
NG HP 9 AC 18 Init +3
Str 14 Dex 17 Con 12 Int 10 Wis 17 Ch 13
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Simply put the person who plays Bec is not keen on interaction, she's been playing for a while and yet her characters to date, in my games have been-

Bob Human Male Ranger level 8 Priest of Kord level 7- the strong silent type, actually another ex-farm boy, his family cultivated Turnips, the youngest brother of seven, with the same number of sisters- he never got a word in edgeways. A monosyllabic gentle giant that usually saves the day, and has a one word catch-phrase, actually Bob never had a catch-phrase, generally it was the other party members that yelled, "BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB", and he came running.

Barbi Human Female Fighter level 1 RIP- Can't remember the back-story, she didn't stick around long, catch-phrase was something like, "Yeah, S'pose." Usually in reply to a question such as- "Barbi, quick get the Goblin, I'm dying here..." Killed in an Orc ambush.

Fred Human Male Fighter level 1 RIP- A farmer's son... hang on, I think I've heard this one before. Can't remember how he died but it was in The Sunless Citadel, which I've played so many times, and loved, that the module is almost in bits.

Hamilton Gaylord Flambeu Male Halfling Rogue level 1 RIP- actually I rolled Hamilton up so he doesn't really count. It needs to be said that he was as silent as he was deadly, actually more so, as he ended up agreeing (or at least nodding) in agreement with the double-crossing Priest in the scenario "Evil Unearthed" which appeared in the first Dungeon Magazine that went 3E, can't remember the number. Unfortunately the Priest in question led the party into an ambush with a bunch of Kobolds, some minor Undead, and him- a 5th level Cleric of Hextor, result TPK. Famous last words, after stabbed in the back and criticaled by said Priest- "AAAArrrgrhhhhhh. And you can quote me on that."

Langley Human Male Fighter level 1 RIP- an ex-town guardsman, from a large family, hey, I've heard that somewhere before, catch-phrase something like, "get 'em." Alas Langley met his maker in B2 Keep on the Borderlands, converted to 3e, in "The Shunned Cavern", along with two other members of the party, in the first chamber they investigated. Langley dived into a pool to avoid a Ooze of some sort, and after a series of "1"s on other terrible dice rolls, was engulfed by a very slow moving second Ooze- one of the other players dived in to help him, only to witness the moment when Langley imploded within the Ooze as he reached -10 hit points.

Weetabix Half-Orc Male Fighter Level 1 RIP- eaten by a ghoul, hey-ho, no last known words.

My point being while the stats don't lie, Miss E. who plays Bec, is ploughing a familiar furrow.

If you're wondering how I knew all of the above then I went through my "Dead File" which, when times are slow, or I am low, I review. I've got all the character sheets of everybody I've ever killed- they say serial killers like to keep mementoes of their victims.

Also

Bec has a secret, a big secret...

Now that's a better explanation isn't it.

Thanks for reading.
 

Richard Rawen

First Post
I've had similar players, the most exciting change they ever made to their default Ranger was to add a level of Rogue one time. Oh, and of course to dust off a "Basic" edition Elf and make him a Ranger (oh, yeah, alllll of them were Elves. Not even bandwagon to our fav Drow, nope, straight High Elven, even when Grey, Wood, Wild... Yes, he even turned down the benies of Wood Elfdom . . . )
Of course when the LotR movies came out we all had to start calling his PC's Legolas...
after he asked about the bow and/or arrow as an impromptu melee weapon . . . in front of the group :(

Well keep the hits comin, good to see a (near)death experience for the leader type, builds character (or at least opens RP opportunities ! )
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I must admit, at times our (my) game can survive, for a good while, on a steady stream of hack-and-slash. I think these people have work-related demons they need to exorcise. Funnily enough Bob, one of Miss E.'s earlier characters, was one of my favourites to DM, I could second guess his actions, which would result in Bec getting into all manner of terrifying situations-

Being captured by a Grell, constantly passing his Palayzation saving throw, fighting the thing as it bore him off, hacking at the tentacles holding onto him as the Grell floated higher and higher. Eventually killing the thing and plummeting out of the air only to land in the only bit of deep water in the cavern.

I also remember Bec fighting a Huge Water Elemental, as represented on the gaming table, before I got my miniatures, by a can of Sprite, from the inside- and winning, while taking constant damage and with lots of minuses.

Or plugging a doorway while a horde, at least twenty, Trogs tried, and repeatedly failed to get past him.

The above all from the Temple of Elemental Evil.

I can safely say- I liked Bob a lot, still do, although he's not had a run out in over three years; he's a job to do, and he always does it.

So back to Bec, he's not a role-player, at least not a lot but he does the same job.

Miss E. who plays Bec is perhaps just plain shy, there, I've said it.

And so onwards, ever onwards... further into the mire.

Thanks again Richard.

Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 18: A Little Army

Day three beckons in the deep dark underground, Cas is back in the land of the living, and thankful, he’s particularly thankful for his new sword.

“I don’t know what to say.”
“Makes a change.” Newt states polishing his bed-side manner.
“Anyway we must get on.”

Ala frets, to herself, for a change.

Cas is briefed on what has transpired since his sudden lie-down, he knows some of the story but the others fill in the gaps. Newt even finds the time to tell them about the ledge he thinks is out there- somewhere, weaves it into the story, without letting on he’s been for a midnight wander.

An hour later, after a decent breakfast, the gang are back on board the rafts and are paddling with all their might, across the current towards, towards… well who knows what.

They’re spotted, at some point on their journey; a crossbow bolt thunks into the lead raft, maybe it was the two burning sunrods that gave their location away, a necessary risk- as I’ve already stated they have no idea where they’re going.

More crossbow bolts rain down; they paddle on in silence, until Newt is hit- a bolt lodging in the back of his thigh.

“Feckin’ buggerations.” The Gnome screams.

There’s a splash in the water behind them- are they throwing things? Actually it’s a Kobold who in all his excitement slips off the ledge above- the creature sinks without a trace; heavy armour meets water- a fatal flaw.

“It’s up there.”

Newt points, there’s a fleck of light, a brazier on a ledge only ten feet above the water, but now a way behind them. The first raft grounds, they’re ashore, the second soon follows.

The group disembark, Ala gathers them quickly, Blesses them all in the name of Corellon. Anya coats herself in her Mage Armour, and is ready with Swish- to let him loose.

The gang jog up a gradual incline towards the outline of a cavern ahead.

“Charge.”
“Destroy the foreign infidels.”
“In the name of Abomination.”

They seem to be expected, a steady line of heavily armed and armoured Kobolds rush down the slope to greet them, there must be a dozen of the creatures.

Ala Summons a Celestial Badger into the Kobold ranks; it distracts a couple of them but does no actual damage. Newt stops where he is.

THUNG

A Kobold falls dead.

The two sides clatter into each other, battle erupts, the Kobolds fare better than the Goodman Gang, Jim manages to slice a one dead however he’s cut on the back of his hand. Cas too suffers, a blow to the side of his head, nothing much but it bleeds a little. Bec is sliced twice, across both legs. Ala gets away with bruised ribs, painful, but not terribly damaging.

As the battle rages four more Kobolds arrive in the cavern entrance ahead, set up for shooting practice, crossbows at the ready. That makes around fourteen of the heavily armed creatures in the fight.

Two Kobolds break off and rush towards Anya, “Smidgin”, one of them hits the cold cavern floor, dead. The other is blocked by Swish, the two dance around each other for a while, trying to land the first blow, then Swish whacks down on the Kobold’s unprotected head- brains it, dead.

The Celestial Badger is proving more of inconvenience than a threat, as is Ala, as is Bec, as is Jim. Cas however stabs at a Kobold trying to get past him- to Newt, runs it through and then turns and slays another, the new sword is working well.

The Badger meanwhile fades to smoke. Bec suddenly sprouts a crossbow bolt, dead centre of his chest, it hurts, but only when he laughs.

Anya steps from behind the raging melee, gets a good eye full of the Kobolds with crossbows, “Smidgin”, one falls dead.

Back in the melee Ala slashes hard, connects, and slays another. Newt’s crossbow jams, he throws it aside in anger, bloody Kobolds, draws his heavy mace and wades into the storm. Cas swings wildly, misses by a mile, smashes his hand into the cavern wall, drops his new sword, so much for that then. Bec is sliced again, they’re all just little cuts and bruises, but he’s accumulating hits fast.

“SANDWICH.”

Bec Rages, if only for the hit points.

THUNK

Cas is hit by a crossbow bolt, doubles up, the pain, grabs his sword, and then comes up swinging again. Jim slices clean through a Kobold Footman, and-

“FoooooR CAS.”

Charges at the artillery, he’s very loyal.

And that seems to perk everyone up a bit.

“Smidgin”, Anya’s getting the hang of this; she’s adopting various poses while pointing her wand- vogue-ing. Ala swings, blood spurts, and another Kobold bites the dust. Newt likewise smashes one about the head with his mace, the creature slumps- dead.

“Foooor PELOR.”

Cas charges at the artillery, there are two of them left, they retreat, firing as they go. Jim catches another crossbow bolt, it skims his arm leaving a bloody trail. Bec faces of against the last of the Kobold Footmen, slices the creature in two, and runs on towards the artillery, who abandoned all pretence and leg it.

“Smidgin”, another one drops down dead, that leaves only one left.

“Everyone forward, follow them. PELORRRRRR.”

Cas urges them on. Ala charges up to Bec on the way, fires healing energy into the giant man. Cas alleviates some of his own pain using his magical healing ability. Newt darts back for his crossbow; he’s not that stupid, and then sprints off after them.

They’re heading down again, a natural looking cavern passage, wide- nearly fifteen feet, with a high ceiling, they head west. Pass a cavern opening on the left and chase on, as the passage twists to head north. Bec races ahead, puts on another burst of speed, catches up with the last fleeing Kobold, and SLICE, kills it dead.

There are shouts ahead.

“Kobold Elite Squad forward.”

CLUNG-CLUNG-CLUNG-CLUNG

“Halt.”

A military formation, two lines with six Kobolds in each, the front row with swords, the back row with crossbows.

“Fire.”

And they do, the gang run, back the way they came.

Cas is hit in the shoulder, he’s feeling woozy, decides this isn’t the place to have a lie down however.

“Charge.”

The six Kobold Footmen come rumbling forward. The adventurers stop, they’re not going to get far, it seems battle number two is about to be joined.

Anya keeps running back, then turns swiftly, wand out and… “Smidgin”, another Kobold falls dead. Newt too makes for the rear ranks, sets to fixing his crossbow, and miraculously in half-a-moment the blockage is clear.

The front line, Jim, Bec, Cas and Ala stand their ground, meet the Kobold charge with full force. Cas upper-cuts unpeeling the Kobold charging towards him- dead. Bec, who has changed to his great club since coming ashore, smashes the thing down on one Kobold, who crunches to the deck in an instant; he swings the club around and brains another. Jim, alas, is cut in the action, another minor wound to the upper arm. There are only two Kobold Footmen left, oh and all the ones with the crossbows, talking of which.

“Fire.”

Bec’s scratched as a crossbow bolt flies by leaving a trace along his cheek. Jim’s not so lucky, a bolt buries itself in his upper thigh, he sinks to one knee, and then struggles up again, he’s on his last legs.

“Retreat and reload.”

The Kobold artillery march backwards, in step, and set about reloading for more fish-in-a-barrel type activity.

Anya screams, “Smidgin”, it’s getting to be her catchphrase; one of the Kobold artillery hits the deck. Newt steps in, sights his prey, and fires- another Kobold hits the deck, only four of the artillery left.

Ala stumbles backwards, swings wildly, two Kobold Footmen turn her, she’s up against the wall, she takes a cut to her side, but fights on.

“CAS.”

And he’s there keeping the two at bay.

Jim and Bec share a look, the way ahead is clear. The Kobolds fire.

“CHA…”

A crossbow hits Jim in the arm and he’s down, Bec charges on, scatters the firers as he swings, they drop their crossbows scuttle back grabbing for melee weapons.

“Smidgin”, another Kobold drops, Anya poses.

THUNG

And another Kobold lies dead, courtesy of Newt, of course. Ala and Cas keep up the fight, the Kobolds score no hits, but neither do the heroes. Bec only has two enemies left before him, he swings hard, smashes one into the middle of next week, the other sees its chance and stabs its shortsword deep into the Barbarian’s leg.

Then the Kobold notices, perhaps for the first time, the rapidly diminishing odds- it flees, and is cut down, actually smashed down in an instant by Bec.

The other two Kobolds, facing Ala and Cas, also think better of it, and scamper. They dodge past Cas and Ala, who swing wildly, with no success, dodge past Bec, confusing him by going one either side of him, and at the same time.

Thung

Newt’s crossbow bolt careens off a wall- misses.

“Smidgin”, the second to last Kobold grips the cold stone floor.

“He’s getting away.” Cas goes to run after the creature, Ala grabs him. Bec limps into a trot.

“Wait.”

Bec stops, looks back, at Newt who’s aiming.

“Wait.”

Newt breaths in- fires.

ThhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhUNG

The last Kobold falls, scrapes along the floor a while, and then comes to a stop- deceased.

The gang head back down the passage, out of sight, swig potions, Ala sets to work with what’s left of her Healing Kits, and at the end of it Bec, Cas, Jim and Anya are all still injured- Jim and Cas the most severe. There are no Healing Potions left, or at least that’s what everyone’s saying, but if I were you I’d not believe Newt, or Anya.

Newt, with a little help from others, has recovered 21 more three-fingered golden pendants, 26 if you include the five he has just stuffed in one of his pockets.

The gang stumble into the cavern they passed in their initial charge, the passage beyond splits, climbs left, while the right hand passage leads into a chamber with a number of braziers burning in it, it’s another guardroom- empty. A routine search, led by Newt, nets a number of pieces of uncut Agate, the party is a little richer, as is Newt- he grins, like taking candy from a baby.

And then on, into a second guardroom, although smaller, and much neater, it has an old tapestry that serves as a curtain so as to guarantee it some privacy, perhaps they’ve found the officers quarters.

“Sniff. You can smell it.” Newt states.
“What?” Jim enquires.
“Treasure.”

Suddenly the two beds in the chamber are upended, turned on their sides to form makeshift barricades behind each a strange, pale-faced, wild-eyed, and haired, Dwarf appears, dressed all in black and pointing crossbows, nasty looking ones at that.

FWOUN
FWOUN

The first bolt smashes through Cas’ armour, he drops his sword and shield, grabs at the bolt, thinks to pull it out, then notices just how much blood he’s already lost, he drops to his knees, blood spurts from the wound. Pelor save me, he thinks, and then the poison hits him, ravages him, he slumps forward smashing his face into the stone.

The second bolt hits Bec, gouges a huge hole in his upper right arm and shoulder, he doesn’t bother to ask Pelor for anything, the poison hits, he falls backwards, twitches and foams at the mouth on the cavern floor.

The Derro drop their crossbows and charge.

“Into them.”
“Death to the top-siders.”

Jim barrels into the first one, stabs wildly, and connects leaving a bloody scar from the Dwarves belly to its chin, the creature staggers back. Ala leaps over Cas, attempts to repeat Jim’s feat, slices only air.

Thung

Newt’s crossbow sings, but as it turns out, it’s out of tune, he misses.

“Smidgin”, the Magic Missile thumps… hang on, blinks out of existence just as it was about to hit.

“Damn. Spell Resistance.” Anya tuts.

The Derro facing Jim swings desperate to connect, misses by a mile, Jim plunges his longsword through the evil Dwarf, head butts him for good measure, the Derro is dead.

“For Cas.”

Ala tries it on for size, she swings and misses, and the Derro buries its shortsword in her gut, she sinks to her knees, the Derro readies his sword for the killing blow, and-

THUNG

Suddenly sprouts a crossbow bolt from the middle of his forehead- dead, thanks to Newt again.

Anya is quickly at the fallen, checking for pulses, they’re all still in the land of the living.

“GO.” She orders.
“Back to the rafts.”

And they’re off again, in retreat, dragging Cas and Bec, Ala now up but staggering, it’s a rag-tag bunch, except for Newt who dodges back to the Derro and rifles through their pockets, he’s soon caught up however, carrying an impressive, but impractical, looking shield, a mixture of gold and silver. His pockets also bulge with gold and a beautifully cut diamond. He’s the only one grinning as they paddle their way back over to their official lair, the graveyard.

Once in they settle down again to wait the latest lot of injuries out, Bec and Cas are unconscious, Ala fades in and out, Jim looks like a man who has been kicked in the balls, repeatedly, for half-an-hour.

Newt’s polishing, and sneaking glances at his new found items, and Anya, believe it or not, is playing nurse maid- badly.

“Shut up moaning, bloody softy, Bec’s not complaining.”

Bec is of course unconscious, a line of bloody drool anchoring him to the cavern floor. Cas turns over to see, wincing and groaning in pain, he blinks once, twice- then passes out.

“That’s better, bloody moaner…” Anya gets on with her nursing.

And with that the second session of this scenario draws to a close.

Next Turn: Feck, Kobolds.

It become apparent at the ceremonial adding up of the experience points at the end of this session that Newt has enough to go up to 2nd level, it’s decided that he can have the hit points, the saves and the to hit improvement; but the feats and the skill points only come with training. Either way Newt’s happy.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 19: Feck, Kobolds

And so the fourth day begins underground, they seem to have reached an impasse; it’s proving to be a war of attrition- hard to say yet just who’s winning.

The day starts slowly, Cas and Bec are still unwell, their strength is returning, but Ala, who’s up and about now, makes the decision that the group will not go on until they are fully rested.

Anya is a little sheepish, she hunkers down next to Cas, who’s still in his pit, she has something in her hand, she whispers.

“Cas?”
The Paladin turns to her, “Mmm.”
“I have… I’ve got… I’ve got a Potion of Healing.” She opens her hand.
The Paladin nods.
“I never told… said, I should have…”
Cas nods again.
“I never meant to…” Anya sniffles a little, offers the Potion to Cas.
“Keep it.” He whispers, “in case”, smiles and then closes his eyes.

Newt overhears the exchange, pats a belt pouch at his side, the one with four Potions of Healing in it.

Time passes oh so slowly, it’s not until the middle of the afternoon that everyone is up and about again, ready for the action.

Cas calls a meeting, time to talk tactics.

“Look there’s something odd here…”
“You mean other than death and destruction at every corner.” Newt’s feeling the pain.
“Kobold’s though Newt, they’re very… co-ordinated.”
“Mmm.” Newt concedes the point.
“I think there’s something going on, you saw the Ogre, even the Stirges looked different, there’s something terrible in here, the three-fingered stuff, I think we need to press on.”
“We need to take better care of ourselves.” Ala adds.
Cas nods, “and so we need to have a better plan…”
“And you’re going to tell us what that is.” Newt folds his arms across his chest.
“No, you are.” Which takes the Gnome by surprise.
“Oh.”
“All of you. We need a little more order, we need to know what are jobs are. There’s going to be more of this, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
Silence.
“Possibly much worse.”
“How?” Anya asks.
“They’ll be waiting for us again, back at the ledge, back at the other side of the pool.”
“How do you know?”
“It’s what I’d do.”
Anya nods, “yes, same here.”
“So what do we do?” Jim asks.
“We look after each other a little better to begin with.”
Everyone nods.
“After that, well what does anyone think…”

An hour later the group are back on the rafts, this time without the light, Newt thinks he knows the way, it’s not far. They’re being as silent as they can, it’s not until they hit the far shore that the Kobolds on the ledge realise they’re there, they’ve got by them.

Fwung x lots.

The Kobold’s shots are rushed however, no hits.

Sunrods flash out into the darkness illuminating more Kobolds equally surprised they scrabble for crossbows.

Fwung x more.

Bec takes a bolt to his right thigh, a flesh wound.

“Now.” Cas shouts as Ala’s Bless spell sparkles on each of them.

Jim, Cas and Anya- march forwards, up the rocky shore, arrows and, “Smidgin”, a Magic Missile is loosed. A Kobold falls dead.

Newt meanwhile kneels behind the front line.

THWUNG

A kobold plummets off the ledge into the water.

More Kobolds scramble, it seems their ambush plans have already gone astray, a rain of javelins falls in the midst of the adventurers, Anya and Ala are nicked, both wounds mere grazes.

The Kobolds ahead reload their crossbows.

The javelin throwers, more Kobold footmen, heavily armoured, clang into the light.

BOOOOOOOOM

Newt’s Thunderstone, disrupts their charge, one goes down holding bleeding ears, another two stand about somewhat bemused, and deafened.

“SANDWICH!”

Bec Rages and charges over into the mix, his great club describes a furious arc, smashes one of the creatures to the floor.

Anya struts and poses as she strides forward, “Smidgin”, another of the Kobold Artillery bites the dust.

“CHARGEEEEEE.” Cas screams.

And everyone is up and running, including several of the Kobolds back the way they came- in retreat. Cas slices one of the heavily armoured Kobold Footmen, across its throat, the blood sprays everywhere.

Ala takes another scratch from a Kobold Footman, but the Kobolds are broken.

Thung.

Newt gets a fleeing Kobold in the back of the head, dead. “Smidgin”, another Magic Missile spirals out from Anya’s wand and finds a foe- dead.

Cas rushes at Bec who’s losing it, crashing and flailing as Kobolds scatter, grabs him by the arm, spins him round.

“After them.” He tries pointing.
Bec looks like he doesn’t understand, follows the Paladins pointing finger- to the scurrying Kobolds.
“AAAAaaaaaarrrghhhhh.”
Bec pushes Cas away from him, with enough force to knock the Paladin over, moves to stand over Cas, raises his club, drool matting the front of his armour, his face is flecked with spittle and blood, Bec shakes his head- looks again at where Cas is still pointing, and rushes after the Kobolds.

A deafened Kobold staggers into view.

Thung.

It slumps to the floor, Newt races forward grinning at Cas.

“Come on; get up lazy bones- lots to do.”

Bec reaches the slowest of the Kobolds, encased in armour, the creature looks round, just in time to see, in detail, Bec’s great club. The Kobold is smashed a good ten feet into the air, it clangs into the cavern ceiling, then wall, and falls to the floor, a twisted wreck.

Cas scrambles to his feet, points again.

“Come on, get after him.”

Jim runs by, winks, “it’s working.” Cas nods.

Ala settles for slapping the Paladin on his armoured backside.

Cas grins again and jogs after Bec and the others.

A Kobold runs into the side of the chasing group of adventurers, one of the crossbow wielding creatures from the ledge, suddenly realises who its fellow joggers are, and dodges for all it’s worth into-

SMASH

Bec’s club.

Newt meanwhile is looting all the Kobold bodies left on the shore, eight more pendants, and as many crossbow bolts as he can carry- he scurries after his comrades.

Bec charges on round the corner, to the place they met the armoured contingent the last time they came this way, there’s a lone Kobold, the sole survivor, a little way ahead, heavily armoured stumbling forward- staring back at the closing Barbarian.

The creature spins round to meet Bec, it can’t out-pace the giant-man.

“Come o… SMASH.”

The Kobold lands twenty feet away, Bec rushes on.

“Hang on.” Cas shouts, then, “Bec?”

But it’s not enough to stop the juggernaut, Bec charges on, Cas shrugs, points the way, the others catch him up, save for Newt who’s still finding corpses to loot. Cas, Jim, Anya and Ala charge after Bec.

The rough stone passage turns into a flagged corridor crafted from some reflective black stone, and through a door into a…

Huge ornately columned temple, or something like it, the walls are covered in frescoes depicting a man in blue robes, eight huge pillars carved to resemble titan size humans, in various guises, hold the ceiling aloft.

Cas, Anya, Jim and Ala slide to a stop.

“Bloody hell.” Jim manages.
“I told you there was something here.” Cas states.
“Where’s Bec?”

SMASH

“Sandwich?”

The foursome crane to see between a pair of pillars, they spot a freshly smashed door on the eastern wall of the chamber, and glimpse the hulking Barbarian disappearing within.

“That way.” Cas points, “where’s Newt?” He looks back down the passage they’ve just come from.
Ala and Jim shrug, rush off.
“Looting.” Anya states and heads off too.
Cas waits a moment, there’s no sign of the Gnome, he can’t hang around- only as strong as the weakest link, he thinks, and follows after Bec and the others.

Unseen by any of the adventurers another pair of heavily armoured Kobolds shut the door at the northern end of the temple chamber, and scurry off to tell their masters.

Bec stumbles down another wide passage, more of the black stone, two lines of statues- he rushes on, there’s a door on the right, and it’s just closing- red rag to a bull.

He slows and lurches over, smashes the door off its hinges, and onto the Kobold Footman beyond, who scrambles out from beneath it. Bec strides into… a library.

Massive stone bookcases fill the room, which is lit by a number of flaming braziers, a cluster of Kobold Footmen back away as the giant-man slashes wildly with his great club. Another cluster of Kobolds can be seen further in- a robed Kobold strides forward from this gang and points at the Barbarian.

“DO ONE.”

Black tendrils shoot from Kobold Wizard’s fingers; engulf Bec, for an instant, the Barbarian flexes and growls, the black smoke fades in an instant.

“Destroy the infidel in the name of the Abomination.” The Kobold Wizard simply states.

The three Kobold Footman guards that surround him rush over to join their comrades. The odds don’t look too good, seven to one, with one of the seven being a Wizard, still reinforcements are on the way.

SMASH

And.

CLUMP

Two of the Kobold Footmen are dead, skulls crushed, however the Barbarian takes three blows in the process, all minor injuries, he soldiers on.

WHUMP

A Magic Missile thuds into his chest, Bec staggers back, close to unconsciousness, then feels warmth flowing through him- Healing. He grins. He can feel Ala’s hand in the small of his back.

Jim however fails to find the brake, rushes, unsighted into the chamber, and into Ala, knocking the pair of them to the floor.

“Sorry.”
“Fool.”

Anya appears at the door way, throws Swish towards a Kobold Footman, “Akkat”, then points her wand, it’s never out of her hand- “Smidgin”, a Magic Missile slams into a Kobold Footman, dead.

Swish uses the impetus of Anya’s throw, roundhouse-kick’s- sort of, another Kobold Footman, cracking its skull, the Kobold slumps to the floor- dead.

The odds are looking much better now.

Cas jogs into the chamber, takes a last look behind him, “where the Pelor is Newt?” Takes in the situation, lances his longsword forward and impales another Footman, dead.

Ala stagers to her feet, the shadow of a Kobold Footman looms over, she slashes out, angrier at Jim than the Kobolds, her sword passes through the shadow which… is just a shadow- strange.

Jim scrabbles out of the room, on hands and knees, it’s getting far too busy in there, he looks up- back down the passage they’ve just come from. There are figures in the doorway, blocking their retreat.

“You guys…” Jim gets his bow out.

Back in the library a Dire Rat suddenly pops into existence, snaps its jaws at Ala, who scurries back, out of range. Anya screams, “Smidgin”, a Magic Missile thumps into the Kobold Wizard, it looks suitably annoyed.

The Kobold before Cas seems to blur, a shadow of the creature darts towards him, he reacts, the shadow dissipates, Cas struggles to present his shield to block the Kobold’s actual attack. Cas shakes his head, he’s seeing things.

Bec’s Rage subsides, his shoulders slump, suddenly aware of the amount of damage he’s taken, the two Kobold Footmen left renew their efforts.

Meanwhile Newt stumbles into the Temple area, the one with the huge pillars holding the ceiling up, juggling more of three-fingered golden pendants in his hand, and chuckling.

He looks up, there’s a cluster of heavily armoured Kobolds pushing their way through a door on the eastern side of the chamber, there must be a dozen of them.

“Intruder.”

A Kobold points at him, Newt looks about, then behind him- nope, the Kobold means him. Three of the Kobolds peel off from the bunch and stride towards him- weapons drawn. These Kobolds are different, slightly taller, much more vicious looking, red scales dot their skins, hardened and glistening in the light, they’re growing their own armour- or so it seems. They’re snouts and jaws extended, huge fangs snap and clack, tasting the air as they approach.

“De…”
“Str…”
“Roy.”

The three close in for the kill.

“CAAAAAAS.”

Jim screams, there are more of them, at least a half-a-dozen of the gnashing snarling Elite Kobolds shamble into the corridor he guards.

Next Turn: The Elite.
 

Triffic stuff, Goonalan.

And for all that I enjoy the sheer madness of the Lost Boys, I think I like the more serious style of this story even more. :D The more mature relationships between the various characters are great. And the Newt/Ala tension is particularly intriguing.

Keep up the good work.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Thanks again, much appreciated


Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 20: The Elite

Back in the library Bec totters, then swings hard- smashes another Kobold Footman to the ground, launches himself at the conjured Dire Rat, the creature leaps at him, he stumbles back to avoid it, blinks his eyes, the rat hasn’t moved, he swings half-heartedly- misses by a mile.

Ala dodges in, stabs down, the Dire Rat turns to mist and swirls away.

Jim screams again from the corridor.

“I said they’re coming…”, and sotto voce, “whatever they are.”

He fires, twice, Rapid Shot, the first with his magic arrow- the result two head shots, two dead Elite Kobolds, these too are the twisted Kobolds Newt is fighting- even more vicious and feral-looking.

Back in the library the Kobold Wizard swigs at a potion then leaps and runs up the wall and on to the ceiling.

“Ha ha… Fools…”

“Smidgin”, another Magic Missile slams into the Wizard, he doesn’t look best pleased with Anya.

Cas and Bec are fighting the one Kobold Footman left, however the strange Kobold seems able to duplicate itself, shadows form and fall left, right and centre- they both hit air.

Back in the temple Newt stands his ground as the three Kobold Elite warriors approach.

“Screw you lot.”

He slings his last Thunderstone at the threesome.

BOOOOOM

It explodes on a Kobold’s armoured midriff, the creature slumps to his knees, bleeding from ears, nose and eyes.

The other two Kobold Elite are staggered.

Newt tosses aside his crossbow, draws his Heavy mace and gestures for them to approach.

“Come on then, you’re going to need new dentures by the time I’ve done with you.”

FWUNG

Jim hits another Elite Kobold back in the corridor, the creature slumps to the floor, dead. Jim throws his bow aside and hefts his battleaxe- the six remaining enemies charge towards him.

“Death to the intruders.”
“The Abomination is Lord.”

They mumble and chant as they fling themselves into the fray.

Back in the library, Ala stabs hard at the remaining Kobold Footman, that’s so far holding his own against all of them, she too misses.

The Kobold Wizard sprints along the ceiling, out of the library, and into the corridor, stands directly above Jim.

“Smidgin”, the final Kobold Footman in the library bites the dust.

“Help Jim”, Anya shouts and points the way- Ala, Cas and Bec struggle to obey. Swish hops out to stand next to Jim, to guard him.

Ala, Cas and Bec arrive as the Kobold Elite smash into them, the fight is joined, lots of blows go astray, it’s a confusing mess within the melee. Cas manages to land a decent blow, his longsword biting into the body of one of the Kobolds, the creature falls dead.

Anya watches through the door, it’s hard to see what’s going on, shadows of Kobolds seem to form and cluster, spectral shapes flail and slice, and the adventurers locked in the death struggle don’t know which to attack- a bolus of dark energy seems to grip the melee.

Standing on the ceiling above the scrum the Kobold Wizard swigs from another potion bottle, which is harder than you think when you’re hanging upside down.

Back in the Temple Newt’s initial confidence is getting dented, as is he, both of the Elite Kobolds score hits, not deep cuts, but enough for him to reconsider his position.

In the corridor, Ala is shoved out of the fight; she looks up and spies the Kobold Wizard on the ceiling, about to gulp down yet another potion.

“Bastard.”

Ala quickly unstraps her shield, launches it at the Kobold Wizard, like some giant discus, the fiend dodges just in time but in doing so spills the entire contents of the flask.

He doesn’t look happy, drops the empty potion bottle into the furious melee below, and then moves, at lightning speed, a little away from the fight, quick turns and draws a wand.

“Duck.”

Ala does, others try but they’re fighting for their lives.

“FLAME-ON”

The Kobold Wizard screams, a thick wedge of fire rolls over the combat, crisping, a little, Bec, Cas and Jim. An Elite Kobold stumbles from the melee on fire, the creature charges away, flapping helplessly as it burns, hits a statue and collapses to the floor for a little more break dancing before it expires.

The shadows flee in an instant- the way is clear.

Swish bashes another of the Kobolds over the head; it sinks to the floor- dead. Bec smashes his great club down on another, dead, turns the stroke to a baseball batter’s swing and decapitates yet another- the Kobold’s head goes skittering off further down the passage.

Leaving only one of the Elite Kobolds left, it bolts, as does the Wizard on the ceiling- both head back towards the Temple, where Newt is.

“Smidgin”

Another Magic Missile thumps into the back of the Wizard, the creature turns to face Anya, she’s really for it.

Jim quickly recovers his bow, working purely on instinct, notches an arrow and lets it fly- it strikes the Kobold Wizard in his left leg, passes through, the Kobold screams and lifts his leg- then struggles for a second, one foot still firmly planted on the ceiling, the other kicks air, then he falls…

CRACK

And lands awkwardly on the floor, neck clearly broken.

Newt meanwhile, back in the Temple, finds his balance, swings and connects with a Kobold’s head; it staggers back, a face full of mace, and collapses. The second Kobold checks the odds; another of his kind flees towards him, in pursuit is Bec, decision made- he scarpers.

Newt drops his mace, scrambles for his crossbow, and before the creature has got thirty feet.

THUNG

It grows a crossbow bolt from its back.

Bec barrels past him, chasing the last one down.

“SAAA-NNNND-WIIIII-TCHHH.”

A minute or so later Bec returns, all smiles.

The Goodman Gang head back to the library, leaving Jim back out in the corridor to keep an eye on things.

“Well that went better.” Ala states.
The others nod.
“Bec try to retain a little more control when you’re raging, I’m on your side guy.” Cas offers, Bec looks embarrassed, nods. “No biggie, it’s ok, you haven’t got me yet.” Cas checks himself over, then smiles at the giant man.

Everyone has a minor injury or two, or worse. Ala does the best she can to get them back to full health.

Newt has pockets full of the three-fingered pendants, so many so he can’t remember which belong to the party treasure, and which are the ones he’s stolen.

Anya meantime stalks the shelves, selecting texts, seemingly at random, her Detect Magic spell in full operation, this after ransacking the body of the Kobold Wizard, she grabs the Burning Hands Wand, seen in action earlier. Also on the shelves she discovers the Wizard’s Spellbook, it’d take a chisel to remove the smile from her face.

They rest.

“Did you see any… shadows?” Anya eventually asks.
“Only when I was watching the fight, out there”, she continue, points back to the corridor, where Jim stands, “I thought I saw something- shadowy creatures, surrounding the Kobolds.”

Nobody says anything for a while, eventually Cas cracks.

“Tricks of the light, probably the sunrods, the black walls, polished- quite a sheen… Tricks of the light.”

But nobody believes him.

“I tell you what I didn’t see… in the fight.” Ala stares pointedly at Newt.
Newt holds her gaze, not flinching.

Time expands till everyone is watching the confrontation.

“I don’t think we ought to…” Cas starts.
“Well?” Ala cuts Cas off.
“You stick to what you’re good at… Whatever that is? And I’ll do my job.”

Newt looks away.
“You’re a coward.” Ala spits back.

Newt turns back, glares at her, then after a moment, calms down, and smiles.

“A coward? If you’re asking if I’m frightened… Then yes, I am. That would be the normal reaction. If you’re asking me to give my life for… oh hang on, for what exactly, you don’t even know why you’re here- what you’re fighting, and for what.”
Ala goes to speak but Newt jumps back in.
“You’re pathetic- you don’t even know who you are?”

The silence thickens.
“That’s not…” Cas starts.

“I’d give my life to save another, those that I call my friends.” Ala growls.

Newt smirks then shrugs, gets up quickly, and wanders off.

Cas snakes an arm out to Ala.

She pushes him away.

Twenty minutes later they head back to the Temple chamber to check out the door to the north, where the last pack of Elite Kobold warriors came from.

The passage outside the library, the one that Jim has been guarding, also ends in a door; they decide to leave it for later.

“Never leave an enemy behind you.” Jim states.
Cas grins, as do the others- most of them.

The Temple, now they can take a leisurely look, contains dozens of frescoes of the same blue robed man, in various all-action poses- sending down bolts of lightning, binding a scorpion demon inside a pentagram, and many others.

“Any idea who he is?” Anya asks Cas.
The Paladin shakes his head.
“Ala?”
“No.”

The huge figures that hold up the ceiling each possess a holy symbol, somewhere about their person, Cas and Anya tick of the deities represented-

“St. Cuthbert.”
“Boccob.”
“Wee Jas.”
“Heironeous.”
“Pelor.”
“Olidamara.”
“Corellon.”
“The Green Man.”

“Odd”, Anya adds, “none of whom are in anyway associated with Kobolds, or Evil. Whatever this place once was, well… it isn’t anymore.”

“Right, ready- let’s head off again.” Cas leads the way north to the door.

“CAS”, Ala screams as he passes the last line of pillars, two amorphous creatures leech from the pillars, strings of ichor and goo drip from them, the first lashes out scratching hidden claws down Cas’s back, through his armour, and deep into his flesh.

The Paldain screams.

Jim dodges back, as the second creature lashes out at him.

“DEMONS”, Anya screams. The adventurers scatter; fan out, around their new foes.

“Magic weapons”, Anya states and, “Smidgin”, a Magic Missile ploughs into the side of one of the Lemure’s. Ala slashes through the one on Cas, her weapon barely scratches the creature. Jim smashes his battleaxe into the Lemure menacing him, the creature screeches, claws at the air and staggers back.

Cas and Ala fight on against the other, once again shadows twist around the creature, they’re both mesmerised, swing wildly, neither connects with the creature which lurches forward leaving a viscous trail, the Lemure rakes its claws down Cas’ face. The Paladin lurches back blood cascading down his cheek.

Bec hefts his great club, lifts it way above his head, and drives it down on the other Lemure, which is already injured.

SPLAT

The creature concertinas and then explodes, a melted wax like substance liberally coats the area, and the combatants, then slowly dissolves into nothing, the creature is destroyed.

Cas swings off-balance, misses again. Ala connects, but leaves barely a scratch. The Lemure cackles and bubbles filth down itself, suddenly splits- vertically, leaving two wavering halves, a battleaxe clearly visible protruding through its midriff.

The creatures face fades from Cas and Ala’s sight, eye-sockets ooze to the surface, as it now faces Jim, it claws at Jim’s axe, tries to grab it, the Ranger swiftly heaves it out of the creature and dances back, the Lemure collapses into a stinking pile of filth- bubbles some more then vanishes.

“OK. Is there anybody else here that keeps seeing shadows?” Cas asks.
Ala, Bec and Jim nod.
“Oh you can see them now?” Anya asks.
Cas, bows his head, then nods- looks up at Anya, mouths “sorry.”
“What are they are?” Ala asks.
“I don’t know but I think this place is under some sort of terrible curse. The Kobolds, the way they look- there’s a darkness here.” Anya states.
Cas nods, “The fiends are evil, that’s obvious- I can feel their auras, but there’s something else here, something not… right.”
“I think we can bet on encountering more Kobold abominations, as we go on.” Jim states.
The others nod.

“Right then, again, the door.” Cas leads them off again.

Into another black stone passage, this time only five feet wide, it ends in a t-junction, the group head left to a door, which is wide open.

Inside a foul-smelling room lit by guttering torches, a torture chamber, the adventurers cautiously move in.

“This is… This is…” Cas begins and finishes off by drawing out his light mace and smashing the rack that stands before him.
“Smash it all up.” Ala confirms, staring pointedly at Newt, they set to work.

It takes a while, all that’s left of use, in the end, are a set of thumbscrews, they avoid destruction by being safe and secure in Newt’s backpack.

“Feel better?” Newt asks.
“Yes.” Cas nods.
“Much.” Ala concludes.

The group traipse back out of the chamber, and follow it over, to another door, once again, open. Beyond is a very odd looking chamber.

An L-shaped room, more of the black rock, there are six portrait-sized curtains around the walls, as if there are… portraits, what else, behind them. Perhaps they’ve wandered into some strange Kobold art gallery.

“Can I have sandwich?” Bec offers.

“This place gets weirder and weirder.” Jim strides into the chamber.

“Sandwich?”
“Alright Bec… later.” Jim adds.

Anya mooches into the chamber, wary, there’s a bunch of papers on the floor, and a crude looking short ladder, she heads over.

“SANDWICH?”
“You alright big guy?” Jim worries, he passes a cheese sandwich to Bec.

Bec begins to shuffle forward, holding the sandwich in his hands in front of him.

“SANDWICH?”

“CAS, Ala- Bec’s… gone funny.” Jim tries again.

“You’re alright big guy. Calm down. Don’t you want your sandwich?” Jim places his hand on Bec’s arm.

Bec stops his shuffle; the others close in on him, all except for Anya, she’s reading.

“That’s strange… they’re…” Anya states.

“SANDWICH? SANDWICH?”

Bec bursts free from the gaggle of concerned on-lookers, quick-shuffles forwards to one of the concealed portraits, and flings open the curtain.

RRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRR

Fire consumes Bec.

Next Turn: Going Elemental
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 21: Going Elemental

Bec collapses, gibbers, holding in his hand the worlds first “cheese toastie”, he gibbers some more, takes a bite, gibbers once more, for luck- strings of melted cheese trapeze between the toastie and his maw. His clothes and facial hair still smoke, charred.

The company rush towards him while Anya conjures; a kid-skin gloved woman’s hand appears in the air close to her, gently flaps over to the curtain and draws it shut- the fire abates.

“What the hell was he doing?” Jim shouts.
“Bec?” Ala’s by his side.
The big man blinks his eyes, takes another bite, “Sandwich.”
He grins, takes another bite of his cheese toastie, and begins to lever himself up.
Ala uses the last of her healing spells, the burns fade, Bec’s back in full health.

The others help him up to his feet, although he doesn’t seem to need any assistance.
“Bec?” Cas wonders, “what was all that about?”
Bec chews hard at his toastie, waves it at Cas, “Sandwich.” He grins.

And that’s all they get out of him, except for a cheesy grin.

Anya and Newt move back to the pile of notes, begins to read through them, Anya quickly states.

“Don’t open any of the curtains- it seems they’re all portals to the Elemental Planes… It seems our Kobold friends have been spending their time trying to catch the wind from the Plane of Air, in a sack- which tells you everything you need to know about Kobolds.”
“Ridiculous.” Newt states.
“Exactly.” Anya confirms.
“It’d get through the holes.” Newt holds up a hessian sack, it has indeed got holes in it.

Anya shakes her head, “hang on though.”
“What?” Cas strides over past Bec, who grins furiously- licking his fingers, sated.

“Well it seems that…” Anya strides over to a curtain, draws it back with a florish, “this one goes somewhere else...”

Within the window to another world is an office, a small ten by ten room with a chest at the far end, and a small wooden table with a clutter of alchemist’s paraphernalia on it.

Newt dashes over, grabs the small set of steps, rushes back to the portal.

“Newt”, Cas shouts, “it might not be safe.”

And he’s in, he turns waves back at the others, and he’s at the chest, it’s easy to open- Newt grabs everything as the others watch on from outside of the portal.

Anya plucks up the courage, steps in, Newt turns to her and winks- the pair grab as much of the alchemical paraphernalia as they can carry safely and step out of the portal. Newt has located a number of potions, a thick cloak, and a fairly plain looking necklace, with only three beads on it, and a beautifully cut diamond, but that’s his reward for going.

“I think it’s time we rested up again, we’ve enough food for a few more days yet, we may as well take our time. We seem to be winning the war.” Cas states.

The others agree.

The happy gang file back to the graveyard, for another rest- believe me, and this is a DM moment, if I had anything left to throw at them I would. That and the scenario saying that the Kobolds, now without leadership (since before the scenario started), stay put, which means the Goodman Gang are free to retreat for rest and relaxation.

The rest of the day is spent cleaning and prepping, the night in fairly fitful sleep. Anya takes the time to have a look at the Wand she located on the Kobold Wizard, she already knows the command word, “Flame On”, it’s going to be her new toy- I can tell.

Ala wanders over to Newt, when nobodies looking,

“I bet you’ve stolen lots of stuff haven’t you? Picked things up here and there?” Ala smiles.
Newt considers the statement for a moment, then nods, and grins back.
“You’re nothing but a lowly thief, a parasite…” Ala trails off.
Newt takes a huge gulping of cooling water, wipes his mouth with his sleeve, considers Ala’s words again, and then nods some more, an even wider grin plastered on his face.
“Why?” Ala despairs.
“Because that’s what I do.” Newt levers himself to his feet. “You heal the fighters, that’s what you do, sure you wave that thing around a bit…”, Newt points at Ala’s longsword, “but you don’t hit much- do you?
Ala gets to her feet in a rush goes to draw her sword.
Newt stands stock still, “go on then…”, hands out- defenceless, “take your best shot.”

And loud enough for several of others to hear, and react, Cas and Anya, then Bec and Jim get to their feet.

Nothing happens for a while.

“Thought not.” Newt smiles thinly, then wanders off.

The next morning everything is done with a practiced efficiency, the stew tastes better- Newt has taken over cooking duties. Somebody finds a still fresh loaf of bread, Anya has some apples- they share everything, the shadows fade a little And yet...

Nobody’s speaking.

Day five underground, and a Detect Magic spell confirms that the potions, cloak and necklace are all indeed magical items. The potions are easily identified, healing, they’re shared out, Newt declines one- he’s got four salted away already. Jim takes the cloak, he’s no idea what it does but he likes the look of it- dark and plain. Anya takes the necklace, she has a number of ideas as to what it may be, she resolves to have the thing Identified why they return to civilisation.

Ala discovers that she is actually out of food, this proves not to be a problem as a number of the others still have over a week’s supply of hard tack, a brief inventory of supplies is taken, and they calculate that there’s enough food for them all for three more days.

The party return to the Temple complex and specifically the corridor outside of the library- there’s a door at the far end, as yet, remember, untried.

Newt goes ahead, to the door, checks it briefly- nothing untoward. Opens the door a little, a shadowy chamber, funny, the stone floor has been replaced by a gray-ish lifeless dirt, a purple glow emanates from the ceiling some twenty feet overhead.

The gang cautiously enter, into a massively overgrown garden of twisted and spikey plant-life, shrubs and hedges all brown and dead, there’s a small clearing and the remains of a path ahead. The plant-life has taken over, the wall of thorns that surrounds them is some five feet high, and dense, almost impassable.

“What the…”, Newt begins.

Jim takes a look, he’s the Ranger after all, “we’ll whatever they were, the plants, they’re good and dead.” He snaps a twig off, “and dangerous”, he’s cut his hand.

The group fan out, Bec moves forward down the overgrown passage that leads off from the clearing.

“Sandwich.” Bec shouts and points.

“KWAAA.”

At a Kobold, of sorts, the creature has long thin arms that grip tight to a crossbow, it clutches onto the top of hedge, above Bec, with its clawed, bird-like, feet, a long thin tongue snakes out of its beak-like maw.

“KWAAAAAA.”

It studies Bec for a second.

Then fires.

The bolt smashes into the lifeless soil by Bec’s feet.

“KWAAA.”

A half-dozen of the strange Kobolds appear, perched on the hedges, surrounding the intrepid explorers.

TWONG x lots.

It’s an ambush.

Ala clutches at her arm, a scratch. Jim is not so lucky, a crossbow bolt slams into and through his throat, he slumps to the deck clutching at his neck, blood bubbles, he opens and closes his mouth but no sound comes out.

The Kobold-birds spring back, out of sight, only to be replaced by a second wave, another half-dozen.

Thwong x lots.

Bec smashes at the twisted hedge, perched on which is a pair of Kobolds, the creatures dance back, out of harms way. Anya grabs Jim and begins to drag him out of the chamber- she sprouts two crossbow bolts in the process, nearly falters, and yet drags the gasping Ranger out of the chamber.

Newt fires back, kills one in an instant. Cas takes a bolt to the side, nearly folds.

“Retreat.” The Paladin gasps, the gang head for the door, and are intercepted by Anya who’s on her way back in.

She steps into the chamber, using the door for cover, pokes out the wand she found on the Kobold Wizard and screams-

“FLAME ON.”

A carpet of fire spreads out into the underbrush, it ignites, flames shoot up and out, engulfing two of the Kobolds that shriek and caw as they burn.

“FLAME ON.”

Another whoosh of fire, the undergrowth rages.

“FLAME ON.”

Another.

Anya can hear the screams of the Kobolds as they flee.

“FLAME ON.”

And.

“FLAME ON.”

It goes on for a while, Anya screaming over the sound of the raging firestorm.

Two minutes later a stern looking Anya, with blackened face and hands, rejoins the gang- who are in retreat, back towards the water, behind her the door is still open, and on fire, the room beyond an inferno, a pall of black smoke snakes down the corridor towards them.

They make it back to the huge cavern with the pool of water in it, which they’ve already crossed on three occasions. The black smoke follows them, and then filters up- high into the chamber, filling the area with a dark fug.

They wait, and heal, Jim is soon back on his feet, and talking, his throat wound entirely gone, which doesn’t stop him from constantly rubbing the spot.

“There can’t be much more of this?” Anya asks.
“I hope not.” Cas adds.
“What do you make of them Kobolds?” Newt asks.
“I think everything in here is tainted, an abomination.” Jim replies.
“Why though?” Anya follows up.
To silence for a while.

“Whatever it is I aim to get to the bottom of it.” Cas states hands on hips doing his tea-pot impression.
“You can’t cure all Oerth’s ills.” Ala states.
“But I can’t ignore this… We can’t ignore this, there’s something unnatural about this place, alien- whatever it is that’s creating these abominations has a purpose, and I don’t believe for a second that it’s something good. They’re not the most hospitable of creatures, you saw how it affected the Ogre, the Kobolds- we need to find the source of this terror before it spreads.” Cas answers.
Silence takes grip again, the adventurers nod, Ala stares at Newt.

They’re there for four hours, polishing, sharpening, mumbling to each other, watching the black smoke continue to curl from the cavern and disappear high above.

Then they’re back to the once hedged chamber, and what a difference, the true extent of the room is revealed, it must be a hundred feet square, now the home of nothing more than burnt and blackened foliage, a pool of brackish water, and a small stone chamber in the centre- black from the inferno.

The pool of water holds no secrets.

The blackened room in the centre has a stone door on the far side, the group make ready, and whatever’s behind it must surely know they’re here.

Newt, after briefly examining the door, flings it open- Bec charges in smashes at…

A new type of Kobold, this one has an elongated neck, like a dragons neck, a snaking tail that curls and curves behind it, and is covered in thick armoured scales- like… a dragon.

The Kobold ducks Bec’s greatclub, easily.

“Smidgin”, the creature cannot dodge Anya’s Magic Missile however, it steps back, there are stairs behind the creature, heading down.

Jim dodges in behind Bec, spots one of the crossbow bearing bird-like Kobolds from the inferno chamber, fires.

Fwong.

The Kobold flops backwards and tumbles down the stairs.

Two more rush up them, take aim at Jim.

Fwung.

The rear Kobold fires and takes out his comrade- oops.

CRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

A frantic white mist shoots out of the Dragon-Kobolds maw, covering Bec in freezing ice, the mist clears- Bec shivers, Anya however is totally covered in the icey sheen, she topples backwards, frozen solid, onto the floor. Cas dives by Bec and slices at the creature- it’s too quick for him, it dodges back.

Ala dives into the chamber and is on all fours pouring healing energy into Anya, Newt follows her in.

Fwung.

And takes out a third Bird-Kobold complete with crossbow, another rushes in to fill the gap, they seem keen to defend the stairway down.

Bec shakes the ice from him, swings again; but the Dragon-Kobold ducks the blow.

Anya shakes her head, she’s coming round, she’s also being dragged out of the chamber by Ala.

Jim drops his bow and heaves his battleaxe at the final Bird-Kobold, smashing the creature back down the stairs.

Cas lances his longsword at the Dragon-Kobold, “Charge…”, the creature dodges in and slashes down hard knocking Cas’ sword from his hand, the blade skitters off down the stairs.

Newt moves backwards, out of the way of the beast, and-

FWUNG

Buries six inches of crossbow bolt into the creature.

Shadows coalesce around the Dragon-Kobold, the room spins, or at least the shadows seem to spin, Bec swings again- hits only shadow, Cas gets no further- hand over his eyes, the strobe of shadows blinds him- he staggers back. Jim clutches his temple, there’s something going on here, something very wrong- and bad, he staggers backwards.

“AAA-BOMM-INN-AY-SHUN”

The Dragon-Kobold croaks and swings it’s battleaxe at Cas, it slices the air, inches from his head.

“Smidgin”

Another Magic Missile drills into the creature, it stands statue for a moment and then staggers and falls, clatters down the stone steps, coming to rest, neck broken, at the base of the stairs.

Anya’s silhouetted in the doorway, back on her feet, wand out- holding the pose.

“Come on”, Cas looks at Anya, “lets head down- we’re nearly there, I can feel it.”

They head down, Ala checking for wounds as they move off; she uses some of her minor healing skills.

Newt grabs several more of the three fingered pendants on the way, Ala stops to glare at him, he grins and shrugs back.

The stairs end in a door, their soon through it and into another corridor, a T-junction, the group head west, to yet another door. The area is silent.

Newt gets to work again, no traps, no locks, pushes it open- into a nightmare.

Before them is an enormous chamber, bathed in a sickly green light, around the chamber plant-like growths, pods- Kobold sized pods- like seed pods, only for the abominable creatures they’ve encountered so far.

Jim approaches one, touches its translucent skin, inside something bubbles, it’s alive- something moves within, the pod begins to peel back, open, a viscous liquid spills out, Jim dances back.

Within is a newly exposed Kobold, complete with Dragon-like features, just like the creature they encountered at the top of the stairs.

Jim looks back at the others, doesn’t ask permission, turns back and smashes his battleaxe into the newborn abomination.

The Kobolds eyes flutter open.

SQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

And then it expires.

Anya tugs at Jim’s sleeve, pulling him out of the way.

“Anya are you…” Cas starts, she points to the door, folds up the sleeve of her robe, she has the Wand of Burning Hands gripped tight in her hands.

“Get out.”

Jim, Bec, Ala and Newt head out.

Cas waits, “Are you sure? Do you want me to stay with…”

“Get out. Please.”

Cas, head down, leaves.

“FLAME ON.”

The roar of flames.

Outside the other members of the group listen to the rush of flame, and the scream of the yet unborn creatures, suddenly awakened from their slumber, dying- there must be hundreds of them.

Jim clamps his hands over his ears, squats down. Ala turns away- crying.

The flame comes again, and again.

As do the screams.

And again.

And again.

Relentless.

A good while later Anya steps out of the room, flames flicker behind her, not the conflagration of earlier, burnt and crisped bodies still smoulder on the floor behind her.

She shuts the door behind.

Cas reaches out to place his hand on her shoulder.

She shrugs it off.

“Whatever it is at the end of this, it’s going to suffer- promise me that.”

Cas nods.

“That’s what we’re here for.” Jim states plainly.

Newt tries not to meet anyone’s stare, especially Ala’s

Next Turn: The Bitter End.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
I'm still frustrated with this story hour, if anyone has any clues as to how I can improve it then please don't hesitate to drop me a line, it could be so much better. I think it's partly because when I play this group they tend to skip back story and the roleplay which usually occurs during, and definitely between scenarios- they just want to get their dice rolling and get stuck in- obviously this makes character development incidental to the action (dice rolling).

Suggestions please...

Dungeon Crawl Classics #2
The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho
An Adventure for First Level Characters​

Turn 22: The Bitter End

The group gather, Cas makes to mumble something uplifting, but Anya shrugs her way past to another door- Newt skips ahead of her, now all sweetness and light. Gets to work on the door- there’s nothing to be found.

“It can only get worse.” Anya motions for Cas to go past her, go on in.

Cas takes a breath, then flings the door open, onto a scene straight from Hell.

A large Altar, seemingly constructed from the still writhing bodies of creatures- Kobolds, Derro, other less distinguishable monsters. Either side of this are a pair of Candlestick holders, bearing enormous black candles. The Candlesticks are fashioned from still living, certainly able to feel pain- from there yelps, Kobolds. Candles emerge from the creature’s maws, which seem to have been wrenched open, broken, and left to set in this, most painful, position. They clutch a further pair of candles in there crucified outstretched arms.

The walls of the chamber pulse and beat, still-living skin, organs gurgle, veins throb, and bulges towards the adventurers.

And behind the Altar is another abomination- once Kobold, Lerrza, the High Priestess, is almost albino- he skin without pigment, a horny, boney emaciated horror. She stands behind the Altar staring at her foes.

“Tiiiimmmeee tooooo diiiiiiieeee.”

Delivered in a whisper, Lerrza turns slightly to reveal the source of the malediction, a second functioning Kobold face, in the back of her head.

Cas looks behind him, the more perceptive members note the colour has drained from his face. Through a bone-dry throat he screams.

“For Pelor.”

And charges forward, and where Cas leads, the others follow.

The Altar sprouts legs, and other limbs, shuffles forwards to meet them, it grows, arms to claw, heads to see- a living knot of inhumanity.

The Candlesticks hop forward, yelping as they spill burning wax on themselves- Hell’s coming.

Anya doesn’t even bother with a pose, “Smidgin.” A Magic Missile rushes through the chamber and thumps into the Kobold High Priestess.

The other attackers are intercepted en route to the Priestess by the moving scenery, they attempt to slash there way past the Altar and the Candlesticks.

Bec hefts his great club, smashes it down, and takes a chunk of flesh and limbs from the Altar. At the same time a white ray shoots out from the Kobold Priestesses fingertip, and bathes Anya, she’s caught mid-stride, she stiffens, paralyzed.

Jim creeps to a clear spot, bow still in hand, and fires- the Magic Arrow sings for a second and then thumps in the High Priestesses chest.

“Yooooooo willlll alllll meeeeeeeet thhhheeee maaaaaaasssstteer.”

The second head whispers, with volume.

Ala swings, an overhead blow, slashes down and slices the fleshy Altar- clean in two, limbs, heads, and torsos tumble out, a slick of blood forms.

Bec sees his opportunity and charges through the newly created gap- and is engulfed, momentarily, by a black mist; he emerges, a second later, heading back the way he came, his face a rictus grin, terrified- he bowls into Ala, knocking them both to the flesh-like ground, which lurches up to claw and grab at the pair.

Bec crawls away as fast as he can, Ala wrenches herself free and staggers on towards the abomination.

Newt’s crossbow sings, it’s out of tune, as is Jim’s bow- bolt and arrow fly well wide of the High Priestess. Newt recovers, re-aims, and fires again- hits, but it’s just a scratch.

Lerrza spins around.

“DEATH TO LIFE.”

The second face screams.

The wave of sound crashes over the adventurers- Ala grabs her ears but stumbles on- towards the High Priest. Bec continues to crawl away from the fight, mumbling and fumbling for words. Cas’ ears bleed profusely, the Paladin stands statue still trying to shake the echo of the words from his brain, he stumbles then falls.

“CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS.”

Ala screams and launches a furious swipe at Lerrza, who chooses that moment to launch her own attack; Ala’s sword slices clean through the Kobold High Priestesses pallid neck.

Lerrza’s stands suddenly still, as if balancing something very delicate.

“Yoooo willll diiiiiiiie.”

She whispers.

“Not here though.” Ala answers.

She strides forward, kicks, nonchantly, the creature backwards. Lerrza’s head topples forward as the rest of her tumbles back.

The two Candlesticks prove to be less of a hindrance, even with the number of adventurers temporarily incapacitated.

Wounds and injuries are tended to, Cas it seems was only momentarily stunned, Bec wanders back into the chamber- wondering what all the fuss was about, and looking a little sheepish, Anya’s paralysis lasts only a little longer,

The High Priest has a number of useful scrolls which Ala identifies and stashes away for later use. The group retire leaving Anya alone for a while with the Wand of Burning Hands, with the usual flame-grilled results.

Outside the horrid chamber Ala continues to stare at Newt who shrinks under her gaze, the Goodman Gang’s purpose revealed.

Ten minutes later the group reassemble and head on, and this time pass by two side passages, Cas is in a rush it seems.

“Er… Cas?” Jim tries.
“It’s this way.” Cas points on.
“What is?” Jim enquires.
“The End.” Cas simply states.

Silence for a while, the passage ends in a t-junction, Cas looks left then right, heads right.

“What about the not leaving enemies behind you?” Jim tries again.
“It’s too late for that… Now come on.”

The passage turns north and ends in a door, which Cas flings open, into another chamber, eight pillars run floor to ceiling, in pairs towards a door at the far end of the chamber.

Five more of the Elite Kobold guards occupy the space immediately before them, the adventurers rush into the chamber.

“Come on, for Pelor.” Cas screams again.

“Smidgin.” A Magic Missile thumps into one of the creatures- dead. Newt fires, a bolt buries itself in the chest of another, which flops to the floor. Jim lets loose the Magic Arrow, it passes through a Kobold’s throat, that’s three down.

The other two Kobolds let loose with Heavy Crossbows, obviously already loaded, a bolt traces a red furrow down Cas’ leg, the other thumps into the centre of Bec’s chest, who topples backwards like a tree being felled.

There’s a sudden movement ahead of the adventurers, at the far door, approximately fifty feet away, another group of Elite Kobolds appears, two dash off, one left, one right- towards the nearest pillars. They blink out of view.

And reappear, step from the nearest two pillars to the doorway through which the adventurers entered.

They fire their heavy crossbows, a bolt sails wide of Jim, the other clunks into Anya’s skull, she drops to all fours, and then further down, onto the cold stone floor.

“KILL THEM.”

Cas snarls, and launches himself forward in to one of the Kobold Elite, cuts the creature down with a single blow, almost severing the things arm.

Kobolds dodge towards the pillars, blink out of existence, only to appear in convenient positions, and yet their missile attacks prove to be ineffective.

The adventurers edge further into the chamber, abandoning Anya and Bec, who’re still down on the floor, for the moment.

Jim manages to tag another of the creatures; his arrow spins the Elite Kobold around, before it drops dead.

And then Jim proves his point, at a cost.

A Dragon Kobold lurches into the chamber, from behind the adventurers, and liberally covers Newt and Jim in a cloud of freezing ice crystals, they both stagger, but remain upright, just.

Newt quick draws a healing draught and glugs it down.

Jim abandon’s his bow in a kamikaze charge, draws his axe, and in the process knocks Newt to his knees, the agile Ranger follows Newt down, lands hard and remains sprawled on the floor- out cold.

Ala is hit in the back by a crossbow bolt, she struggles to grasp behind her, remove the bolt, stumbles, and, like Jim, clutches the ground

Which leaves Newt and Cas still standing, with five Elite Kobold’s and a Dragon Kobold menacing the pair.

Cas strides forward and is surrounded by four Elite Kobolds, he manages to fend them off, if only for a moment.

Newt flings a flask of Alchemist’s Fire, which explodes on impact with the stone floor, forces the cold using Dragon Kobold back out of the pillared chamber, a crossbow bolt passes over the Gnome’s shoulder.

Cas swings wildly, a Kobold steps in, cuts him along his arm, and then Cas’ attack unfolds, another cuts him along the back of his thigh, yet another at his ankle, and the last, more serious, across the forehead. He wavers, but grips tight to his sword.

Newt takes up his crossbow, and in one swift move- fires, the Elite Kobold facing him slumps down dead. The Gnome rushes over to Anya, scrambles for a Healing Potion and then jams the bottle in Anya’s jaws- it drains. She opens her eyes.

Cas holds the furious four Elite Kobolds off for a while longer, no new cuts and bruises in the action.

Anya levers herself upright, “Akkat”, sets Swish before her, to guard her, while she re-orientates herself.

The Dragon Kobold leaps back into the chamber; the Alchemist Fire has burned itself out, Newt fires, instinct, but misses by a mile. The creature rushes at the Gnome, smashes into him, knocking him tumbling back. Newt lands by Jim, clutches another Potion of Healing which he passes to Jim, who’s just coming round, the Ranger gulps the healing liquid down.

“Pelor save me…”

Cas mumbles as he continues to fend off the ferocious creatures, his energies return as his prayer is answered, cuts and bruises miraculously healed, and in the same instant he finds himself in an even worse situation. An Elite Kobold connects with a low blow, striking and slicing into both of the Paladin’s legs. Another cuts him across the chest, yet another almost removes the pinky finger from his shield hand. He’s barely standing.

Newt scrambles up again, fires, the bolt passes just inches away from the Dragon Kobold’s face.

“Smidgin.” Anya’s back on form, the Magic Missile slams into the Dragon Kobold, the creature staggers backwards, on its last legs.

Jim sees an opportunity and charges into melee with the creature, metal meets metal, but no new hits are scored.

Cas meanwhile slices down one of the Kobolds he is facing, and then, for good measure, is cut down himself- the Paladin tumbles forward, unmoving. The Elite Kobolds, now sans enemy, rush towards the nearest pillars.

Newt fires but misses badly. Anya does not suffer from the same malaise, “Smidgin”, the Magic Missile thumps into the Dragon Kobold which tumbles backwards- dead.

The three teleporting, for that is what the pillars do, Elite Kobolds blink back into view, one behind Jim, who takes a blow to his right-hand side, winces but fights on. The other two appear behind Newt, who takes two raking blows to his back and shoulder; he staggers forwards, then turns to confront his new foes.

The Elite Kobolds follow up, slashing and smashing, but Newt is far too quick for them, he fends off a blow with his heavy mace, which he now clutches in hand.

“Smidgin.” Anya’s Magic Missile kills one of Newt’s attackers.

The other exchanges blows, snarling, with the Gnome Rogue.

“Smidgin.” And then it’s no more, which only leaves two Elite Kobolds, one backing away- towards the far door, the other fighting Jim, who, for his sins, receives another wound.

Newt scrambles for his crossbow, clutches it, but too slow- “Smidgin”, the Elite Kobold facing Jim slumps to the floor.

The last makes it back to the far door, flings it open and is about to rush through.

“Smidgin”, nothing happens, the wand is spent.

Thwung

But Newts crossbow bolt merely dents the wall.

The creature escapes with his life, for now.

Jim makes to run forward but Anya grabs him, slows his charge, she looks around them, at their fallen comrades, an unspoken signal.

The three still standing tend as best they can to the wounded. Bec is just stunned, no more, once again though he has proven to be the weakest link, or so he thinks- he has a long face. Ala too is quickly revived; it’s Cas that is the furthest gone, although a pair of healing potions soon do the job.

The limping sextet wend their way back to the stairs, it’s judged to be the safest place to defend at present. They make camp on a rough stone landing, ensure the door is shut in the chamber above, and trapped courtesy of Jim and Newt, they’ll know if something’s coming, they repeat the trick with the lower portal- they’re safe, or so they think.

They set a watch rota, two awake at any one time, they decide on twelve hours rest, the last push- the end must surely be in sight.

“I hate this place.” Anya offers.
She holds Cas’ glare.
“Me too.” Jim confirms.
“Sandwich?” Bec scratches his head.
“Come on, it isn’t too bad.” Cas states.
“I hate you.” Ala seethes staring at the Paladin.
“What? Ala?” Cas is up and moving towards her.
She’s up and backing away.
“It’s all your fault, we should have just gone back when we killed the Ogre, this place… this place, it’s… It’s hell.”
Cas puts his hands out- towards Ala, “We have to do this. It’s what we do- it’s right.”
“I know what’s right, don’t preach to me. We’ve been stuck down here for four days now, four days since we’ve seen the surface, felt the breeze, the trees, animals, plants- life, not these twisted abominations. I hate it down here, and I hate you for bringing me here. And you…”, she turns to Newt, “I hate most of all, your nasty and spiteful- don’t think I haven’t seen you when you’re supposed to be on guard, or asleep, creeping around, always looking- your pockets jangling full of our treasure- you’re nothing but a common Thief”, the last part of the sentence is spat out, in Newt’s face.

Silence.

Slowly the Gnomes features stretch into a smile.

“That’s right. I’m a Thief- maybe not so common, but I’ll let that pass. But here’s the thing Lady Luck, I know what I’m here for, I know what I want… Now tell me that don’t piss you off to high heaven.” He grins.
“Newt.” Cas warns.

And Ala crumples, where she stands, and sobs.
Cas bends to comfort her, places his hand gently upon her shoulder.

“LEAVE ME…” She screams.

Cas gingerly stands, forlorn, moves away.

“Get some sleep, I’ll take first shift”, he stutters.

Ala continues to sob.

Anya snakes out her hand, grasps Jim’s hand, holds on tight, they share a look.

And in the corner Bec sees this, and head down, sucks in air- silently seething, pressing down the Rage inside of him.

Next Turn: Bobby Ewing.
 

Loup Du Noir

First Post
Goonalan said:
I'm still frustrated with this story hour, if anyone has any clues as to how I can improve it then please don't hesitate to drop me a line, it could be so much better. I think it's partly because when I play this group they tend to skip back story and the roleplay which usually occurs during, and definitely between scenarios- they just want to get their dice rolling and get stuck in- obviously this makes character development incidental to the action (dice rolling).

Suggestions please...

Can't make any suggestions Goonalan, beyond the simple proof-reading stuff. I think this an excellent story hour, and I am very much enjoying the struggles of these nascent heroes.

The pacing is nice and quick, you don't dwell over-long on ornate prose, which matches a dash through the dungeons. The character exposition is well done, worked into the plot, and again appropriate for high action fantasy.

You note in the above that you've got to flesh out a lot of that characterisation yourself. Perhaps that is what is frustrating you? I've written a few Story Hours myself, and if that is the case, I wouldn't sweat it. However, perhaps switching to a more "reporting" style of writing would help?
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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