The Lost Boys vs The Sunless Citadel
The scene is set, four newbies to the game of Dungeons & Dragons, children of friends, they are from left to right; Jake (10 years old), James (also 10), Alec (12) and Pat (9)- you know there’s going to be trouble.
And thus it begins the first session of D&D in their lives, yes they’d seen stuff on the TV, yes they’d played some sappy on-line game where they had to collect crystals and what-have-you, yes they’d heard about D&D and that it was for geeks… curse them, what do they know, I’ll show them, I’ll make mincemeat out of them, I’ll… oh hang on, getting carried away… to the Sunless Citadel with them.
Dartamor a Male Half-Elf Rogue Lvl 1, a natural born sneak with a startling intelligence, able to see through most simple tricks and traps, quiet at times, but knows more than he says. Keen to impress others with his abilities and with his nose in everything he makes an ideal rogue, tracker, sneak, sniper and trap-finder. Short, compact and wiry; he’s a lot stronger than you think, with his rapier in hand he’s lightning fast- he does however suffer from constant colds and minor complaints. He says what he means-
DM “So you’re going to climb down till you’re five or so feet from the bottom, leap, tumble- come up behind the rat and kill it- then spring round and watch to see if there’s anything else coming?”
DM “In just one round.”
Sound of Dice rolling.
DM “Mmm. The rat’s dead, in fact very dead… there’s nothing coming.”
Grand Alf a Male Human Sorcerer Lvl 1, pretends to older and wiser than he is, he’s 22 with a stick on fake grey beard. He’s a terrible weakling but knows this and so tries to avoid all physical activity, right down to making tea. Tall and gangly, particularly in his pointy wizards hat, on which he has glued several stars and a moon. He is however a dab-hand at the magic and has a twinkling intellect with the ability to talk himself, and anything else, up. A silver tongued creature-
“Ah yes so what you’re saying Mr. Bugbear is really that you are hungry, you need food, and while you have captured me now and are in the process of making a fire with which to roast me… I have a proposition, what will you eat tomorrow. I see, you’re not sure, and yes- you will be hungry again… starving… ravenous. Well if you were to let me go then I could perhaps help you, you see I know where there are at least three others who are equally easy pickings… yes stick with me Mr. Bugbear and you can have all the party members you want to eat. A steady supply of heroes… ”
Aleso Flett a Male Human Paladin of Pelor Lvl 1, an honest, courageous and kind bumbling fool that always knows the right thing to do, and yet often his good intentions leave himself and others in great peril. Almost nondescript, if it wasn’t for his voice he’d be very easy to forget, however possessed of a rumbling bass voice his threats and prayers can be heard miles away, he sounds like he should be at the opera, he thinks himself a ladies man-
“And I spake unto you blessed child, for I am waxing with wroth and fiery countenance, and verily I cry to the heavens- get off my bloody foot.” Delivered with a flourish and a bow, there follows a smattering of applause. Or-
“Stand fast errant rogue for your days of plunder without consequence are soon to… Oh he’s gone.”
Saradomin a Male Human Cleric of St. Cuthbert Lvl 1, makes Dartamor look shy, he’s the first everywhere, unbelievably helpful, kind, courageous, and of the belief that he can do any job- which is often when the problems start. Big and burly, built for the long haul, rather than the sprint- he’s healthy, well, happy and content- a born survivor. While he’s here, there and everywhere he’s as much a liability as a help at times, heavy armour and weapons means he clanks as he sneaks, his idea of disarming a trap involves close contact via his heavy mace, he cuts to the chase-
“St Cuthbert hear my call, bless me as I sneak over to the Goblins over there and deliver them from there sin.” Delivered Brian Blessed style, i.e. shouting, the Goblins obviously hear him but stand about bemused, unsure of how to react to the crouching clanking Cleric’s unstealthy approach- right up to the point when he brains one of them. Or-
“I pick the lock… with my Mace… St. Cuthbert hear my <SMASH> call <SMASH> make this BLOODY door <SMASH> Ooo <SMASH> pen.”
Chapter 1 The Sunless Citadel: The Attack of the Giant Killer Rat of Death
Skip the intro, like in all good films the backstory will unfold as the story goes on.
The four intrepid adventurers find themselves at the Sunless Citadel, actually a crevasse in the earth, Dartamor peers over the edge, in conversation with Grand Alf.
“Can you see anything?” Grand Alf enquires.
Dartamor looks back up, “Yes.”
“Something’s down there.”
“How do you know?”
“I saw it move.”
“What was it?”
“Something… not sure, something moving.”
Saradomin wanders over, leaving Aleso waxing his moustache in a small compact mirror- the Paladin understands that it is important to look good at all times, personal grooming is as much part of the Paladin code as the smiting of evil. His ‘tache is looking marvellous at the moment, he’ll be combing the ladies out of it when he returns a hero that’s for sure.
Saradomin joins the conversation-
“So what’s going on?”
“Well, it’s a crevasse, only it’s dark, and there’s something down there.”
Grand Alf states, all the time eyeing the thief who’s still peering over the edge into the inky blackness. He presses on with his interogation of Dartamor.
“What’s down there?”
“Oh, I see- very helpful.”
Aleso, ‘tache perfect, strides over.
“Can I be of assistance, is there evil that needs to be smoten, shall I bring light into the darkness below… can I…”
He’d go on for hours if they’d let him. Grand Alf intervenes, leans over and blows on the end of Aleso’s shiny (oh so shiny) Scimitar, it glows, like a coal, an ember from a fire, then sparks into a bright white light.
“Oh. I say. That’s nice”
The Paladin’s impressed.
“Go on then”
Grand Alf pushes the tin can Paladin towards the edge, he winks at Dartamor, who scrambles up, grabs a rope and begins to tie it round the Paladin’s thick waist. Grand Alf continues-
“It’s time for you to bring the light Aleso.”
“To smite evil?”
“I should hope so.”
The rope’s secure.
“Are you ready brave Paladin?”
Aleso nods, goes to salute but is swiftly pushed over the edge, the other three take the strain. The rope slips a little through Saradomin's hands.
“Blimey- what have you been eating- rocks”
Slowly the dangling lump of metal and man is lowered into the gloom, which fades as he looms closer.
Saradomin calls down.
“It’s me, I think. The suit needs oil.. oh, no. Hang on. I see something.”
“I knew there was something down there.” Dartamor nods in a "told-you-so" manner.
Grand Alf tuts, and lets go of the rope, Aleso lurches down as the rope slips.
“FOUND SOMETHING...I THINK IT WAS A RAT…”
“SORRY, SAT ON IT. IT’S…”
“MORE OF THE BLIGHTERS. HAVE AT YE HAIRY VERMIN SCOUNDRELS”
Aleso jumps to his feet and swings wildly slicing into one of the creatures, they’re Dire Rats, as big as dogs and with gnashing fangs, another one leaps in- bites at his leg, sinks its fangs into Aleso’s metal boot- hangs on, leaving Aleso hopping.
“BY MIGHTY PELOR THE FIEND HAS ME- A DEMON OF THE NINE, OR TEN, HELLS NO DOUBT, AHH AHH AHH. IT HURTS US… A LITTLE HELPPPP PLEEEEASE.”
Back up top Dartamor is listening hard.
“What did he say?”
“Something about Kelp?” Grand Alf states- definite, and yet...
“That’s what he said.”
Dartamor leans over-
“YOU’VE FOUND SOME SEAWEED?”
They listen intently for a reply.
“I… I… I… NEED.”
Dartamor reports back,
“He needs. Hang on there’s more.”
“NEED… NEED… HEL…”
Dartamor shouts back,
“YOU NEED KELP?”
Dartamor turns back to the others…
“Why would he need Kelp?”
Back with the Paladin, the two rats are moving in for the kill, Aleso is dodging and swinging at one while the other, teeth still sunk into his leg hangs on, like some demented version of the hokey-cokey.
Dartamor registers the new information,
“Oh it was help”, he chuckles, “I thought he said…” At this point he notices the faces of his companions, “I’ll get off then.”
Dartamor lowers himself over the edge using the rope as a guide.
“HEEELLL. BLOOODY HELLLP. BLOODY GET OFFFFF. DEMONS DEMONS FROM HELL.”
Dartamor appears from above, scambling down the cliff, as finally with much shaking and scraping the Paladin dislodges the bitey rat.
Dartamor lands lightly behind the other… and swipes… slicing the creatures back legs clean off, it expires.
The first rat rushes at the Paladin again, who sees his opportunity, FWUMP, the rat connects with the Paladin’s boot, or vice-versa, and is sent spiralling backwards… and over the cliff.
The Paladin grabs a cloth and begins polishing his boots.
Dartamor takes a look around then hollers up.
“IT’S SAFE. COME ON DOWN.”
Saradomin and Grand Alf make their way down gingerly, the gawky Grand Alf getting into difficulties every five or so feet. The others (Dartamor) offer advice and encouragement-
After much mumbling and shuffling they’re ready to head off again, although Aleso is still not happy.
“This rat blood is damn difficult to shift, anyone got any metal polish…”
Dartamor leads the way down, a set of sloping natural stone stairs wind down to another ledge, then another set of stairs and another ledge… and onwards, and down.
About thirty feet further down they catch sight of the Citadel, a ruin in places, in others seemingly transported from the surface, to the cavern floor, intact- it looks foreboding.
“Wow.” Saradomin's mouth a perfect 'o'.
“It looks pretty foreboding.” Grand Alf states to no one.
Saradomin is impressed,
“How d’you reckon that happened?”
“Probably the work of evil, demons and the like- fear not for I will smite the way clear.”
The Paladin grins, and polishes his Scimitar, then his boot, then his Scimitar again, all the time grinning, itching to get into the fray.
“Yes. Evil. Mmm… probably.”
Grand Alf winks at the others, the Paladin dribbles a little at the thought of all that smiting.
“Let’s get on.”
Dartamor heads off again, the stairs wend down to the cavern floor, and onto the top of a battlement, either side a sea of rubble and broken masonry, across the battlement a wooden door into a fairly intact tower.
SqWeeek EEEk EEEk eeek eeek
The echo of rats, Aleso strides to the crenulations, ready for the onslaught, a lone rat, thirty feet away watches on.
Sqweee wee wee wee wee?
It inquires. The Paladin shakes his Scimitar once or twice.
“Be off you vermin of evil…”
Saradomin and Grand Alf watch on- bemused and amused respectively.
Dartamor, mean times, is at the door, thoroughly checking it for traps…
“It doesn’t look trapped, there are lots of tracks here, plenty of activity.”
“Of course it’s say…”
Grand Alf strides forward towards the door, and then mid-sentence disappears into a hole in the floor, a trapdoor.
The others wander over.
A light flares from the hole…
“There’s a rat. A rat. A big RAT. IHATERATS.”
And so there is, Grand Alf swings and misses by a country mile, swings again and manages to clonk himself on the nose, it bleeds a little.
“Well don’t just stand there… BLUDDY HELP ME.”
Above the three other adventurers decide who’s going to rescue Grand Alf. Daratamor begins the ritual chant...
Grand Alf swings again, the rat has hold of his robe, it’s a tug-of-war and the rats winning, the six foot mage is being drawn into the gnashing maw of the snapping rat.
“It’s got me… I’m done for… Save me… Save me… There’s so much I haven’t done- I want to Fireball a Troll, just one time… Please… Think of the children… I’ll let you have a go of my wand…”
Dartamor launches himself down into the pit, lands perfectly, and comes up swinging… misses badly. The rat doesn’t like the odds, leaps out of the pit causing Aleso and Saradomin to scatter.
Grand Alf is hunched in the corner eyes closed.
“I don’t want to die like this… Eaten by a rat… It’s so undignified… What would my Mum think… Mum… Mum… MUMMY.”
While up top Aleso and Saradomin scatter.
“Get it away. Get it away. It’s dirty.”
The Paladin dives for cover, Saradomin, the cleric swings and misses, the rat leaps the battlements and sprints for cover in the rubble field.
The two rats cosy up thirty or so feet away.
All is well in the rat world.
Aleso and Saradomin sheepishly pull Grand Alf, who uses his robe to wipe away the tears and snot, and Dartamor out of the pit. The four dust themselves down, nobody talking…
Aleso clears his throat, rubs at his rat-marked armour.
“We’d arrr… we’d arr best get on.”
“What to smite evil, and that?” Grand Alf suggests.
Aleso nods. Dartamor opens the door.
Into a circular tower, the structure is intact, for the most part, all the floors however have disappeared- it’s straight up thirty or forty feet. There are two doors one wooden (North East), one stone (South East).
The four fan out, noticing for the first time the Goblin bodies, three of them, on the floor, another speared into the wall- all very dead, and recent.
“What… what…” Dartamor stammers.
It becomes obvious that these four are new to the game- adventuring.
Aleso has a long face, he gulps quickly hiding his shock, there’s a lot of blood.
“Goblins… Goblins they’re…”
The others mooch, trying to avoid the sight, rats are ok, but Goblins they look kind of real… humanoid. Lots of blood.
Dartamor heads to the stone door,
“I’ll check this out.”
He doesn’t look back.
Aleso strides over to the other door,
“I’ll keep an eye on this one.”
Grand Alf lifts his robes up a little, like a maid with her skirts, and patters through the pool of blood- prodding the dead Goblin’s with his staff.
Saradomin grabs at the spear pinning the fourth Goblin to the wall, it comes free in his hand- the Goblin CLONKS to the floor head first, more blood spills. Saradomin backs off sickened. Then notices…
“There’s something here… written on the wall, squiggly writing.”
In time the others shuffle over to have a look, Dartamor can read it.
“It’s Draconic… the writing, it says ‘Ashardalon’.”
“Who d’you reckon that is?” Saradomin asks.
“Dunno. But I’m not sure I like the fact it’s written in Draconic, you know who speaks Draconic?”
Silence for a while, each daring the other…
The others look at Aleso, Dartamor pronounces every letter of his reply.
Aleso nods slowly, scratches his chin, in profile-
“Yes. That makes sense.”
Saradomin pipes up,
“We should check the other walls.”
And so they do- there’s no more writing but there is a discovery.
“Hey guys, there’s something here.” It's Dartamor again.
“More specific?” Grand Alf asks.
“A door I think.”
The others gather around to watch Dartamor work.
“Yep. It’s a door… and it’s trapped- hang on.”
Thirty seconds of tinkering later and Dartamor holds an ancient looking and discoloured needle in his hands,
Dartamor pockets it,
“Hang on, I’ll get the door.”
Thirty more seconds and…
The door opens revealing a narrow passage into darkness, crammed with broken masonry and the bones of…
The thief dives aside. Saradomin steps forward…
“By the all that is Holy,
Skellies feel the wrath
Of St. Cuthbert’s welly.”
All three skeletons are contained in a glowing white aura, they go kinda floppy…
“Get ‘em.” Aleso charges.
Saradomin holds his holy symbol up and continues to mutter prayers under his breath- the others, even Grand Alf, wade in.
And in a minute or so the skellies are reduced to splintered bone, leaving the fantastic foursome grinning.
This short fight seems to gee the party up a bit, even Grand Alf who’s robe has got several slimy trails from the snot and tears generated from “THE ATTACK OF THE GIANT KILLER RAT OF DEATH.”
They step back to admire their work… next week… more.