The Lost City of Barakus writeup


Cute but dangerous
Transfered from the kickstarted thread. Will finish writeup soon.

Minther Cronwall, Human knight and noble
Sully Flatfoot, Halfling Ranger
Sittie Qwaft, Gnome Bard
Untan Sablebroke, Dwarf Fighter
Tukwart Hububble, Halfling Priest
Flopsin Slowbottom, Halfling Wizard
Rolvert, Half-Elf (Halfling) Rogue

Everyone had a reason to go to Endhome. Basically the whole group had gotten themselves in trouble before, and to avoid being sent to try and clean out Rappan Athuk and thus to die by various enemies. We had a lot of tie-ins with the locals of Endhome arranged by the GM.

Minther was related to the nobles running the Black Sheep Inn. Untan knew the guard captain through his dad, Flopsin wanted to get enrolled in the wizard academy for next semester, and Tukwart wanted to follow rumors about a temple of his god that was said to have sprung up in Endhome. The rest kinda tugged along because it was their best option.
Black Sheep in is where we stayed, and we got to stay for free, too!

That late afternoon, our dwarf tried to apply for the guard only to be told they did not, at the moment, require recruits and to come back next month, probably with some proof he would be good at it. But him and us could do some freelancing if needed. The wizard academy wasn't open for new students for a few weeks either.

Most of us wanted to have a look at the city first, so we wandered around that night, ending up in the slum area. Trying to get out, we were finding lost kids, nobles and drunks along the way and fighting off fools who thought we would be easy prey. I think the GM had fun to tag on to us a big entourage, all the while we tried to just get to a safer ground and deliver the various lost folks back home. But it wasn't that easy, of course. Instead, we fended off a wererat attack on some hapless little thief, and heard about how a lot of poor folks and others no one important would be sorry about had gone missing lately.

Questioning the wererat – still with the lost kid, noble, 2 drunks, a girl we helped fight off her kidnappers, a whore who needed a ride out of the slums, too, a thief who was with us to make sure we didn't steal anything on his turf, a beggar woman who had almost been mugged by another beggar and now the thief we just rescued in tow – we learned that the wererats had been all fine and „mostly harmless“ until some vampire family threatened them into an agreement about delivering frsh victims to them in exchange for better access to whatever services they required. No, they didn't eat people, they just kidnapped them for the vampires who did. And no, they didn't take that many as had been said were missing. But we should check out the docks at night to find out who shipped out people, the wererats had never cared much. The beggar woman we had with us confirmed she had seen the Temple of Jamboor, God of Magic – the same our priest was wanting to check up upon – shipping out homeless and other poor people to who knows where never to be heard from again. There was talk on the streets that the homeless were taken care of by the temple but were not allowed to leave again.

Now the wererats were not all happy with the arrengement with the vampires, including the one we caught. They had, in fact, come up with a plan to make the city do something about the vampires without drawing too much attention to themselves. They had kidnapped and delivered the son of a wealthy family recently, in the hopes this would start a search. He didn't know who the vampires were although there were rumors about one of the old and powerful families being vampires. We vaguely remembered hearing about it at the inn, however, the wererats hadn't taken into account how long it took a city this big to get anything going, especially with no lead.

The above had taken us one evening already, with lots of fun for everyone.

Second day (all weekend play) we started off with an argument between the priest and the knight about what to do next. The knight rightfully suspected the vampies were the greater danger, as at least the ongoings at the temple didn't hint at anyone being killed. The priest, while agreeing, feared dark sacrifices and asides, it was blashpemy, no real priest of his religion would do anything such. Not wanting to split the party we finally agreed to follow the somewhat helpful wererat, who still was worried he would be killed, to the wererat lair. Of course, he chickened out and ran shortly before we got there.

We forgot we still had the host of people with us, so we had to park them outside the sewers where we got even more onlookers pretty quick. We went in and, with the help of a smoke bomb or two drove the wererats right into our weapons, some of them surrendered once they knew we weren't sent by the vampires to take revenge for sending them the wrong type of victim. On the bad side, they couldn't confirm who those vampires really were, and we had killed the only 2 of them who knew.

The whole bunch of people was still waiting, so we were working on getting them all back to where they belonged. When we dropped off the beggar lady at her warehouse at the docks, we noticed – with a bit of her help, admittedly – that another of those „people shipments“ as she called them, was happening. Priest and knight went in to stop them without asking the rest of us, so we had little choice but to help. Wasn't much of a challenge, and the rescued people, who were to be sold as slaves, explained that they had been held prisoner, more or less, at the supposed God of Magic temple before. Anytime they wanted to leave, they had been beaten or threatened. Now here was no stopping either the priest or the knight, and again we had little choice but to tug along to help them smoke the temple out.

We did that literally, because we interrupted a ritual for the death god. The fight spinning from that got us into some trouble, so our wizard did what he could do best and SPARKed a fire once the rest of the slave were out. The evil priestress almost escaped, but Untan knocked her down in the last moment. Temple burned all down, but as it had been a fake temple, our priest just vowed to rebuild it.

The fire had caught a lot of attention, of course. When the guard arrived and heard what had happened, we found out that not everyone was happy about us ending the scheme. While slavery was illegal, some elements in the city had been happy enough to let them get away with it because it meant less poor and potentially annoying people in the city.

Day was about to break, but there was no slowing down for either our priest or the knight. With the sun up, they pushed us on towards the supposed vampire den. We grudgingly agreed. So we arrived at the mansion slightly tired, but with a guard backup waiting outside behind the next corner because the guard could not officially interfere. We wee told if the family would check out as non-evil, they would fake arrest us and let us go later, something no one but the guard captain's special guards coulod know.

The butler didn't let us in, but Tukwart threw holy water at him at once, and he turned out to be undead. Our hyper gnome bard wanted to burn the mansion down, too, but that would have meant we could not rescue potential victims, so after we were done with the butler, we just let ourselves in and went through the place.

We found out the butler had done a bad job. Seriously, there were masses of cobwebs and giant spiders in the living room, and lots of windows were smashed in Strange enough none of the neighbours had ever noticed, but then they were some distance away.

We found the last victim dangling over a pool of blood. I understand the module meant for him to be dead, but because we hurried up so much, the GM let us find the guy alive, if barely so. There was a silence spell centered on us, so we could fight off the dire rats in there just like the spiders before, so we were able to rescue the young man and not attrackt the many vampires – we had seen several coffins since.

While the rogue and the bard got the victim to safety, the rest of us went around to stake the vampires and then, for the second time that night, bur the place down. Some of the vampires woke and tried to fight, but as the sun was up and we had a pocket missor we could drive them all back. We were pretty sure of one them, probably the patriarch, escaped though.

By midday, we were known as the Burning Hand Adventurers. By the evening, a bunch of people were expecing us to help them out for free, more or less, as we hadn't asked money for the other cases – never mind one was holy business, and we had gotten very little treasure from the others and had to pay our bills. So we took a short job to root out a necromancer for the academy – which basically just paid the spell components for the wizard, and then took on the job to find a missing sourcerer and fellow adventurer.

Fenton, the sorcerer, got lost in the caves north of the city a few weeks ago together with 3 other adventurers. When they didn't return, the group was presumed dead; however the wife, who has some psychic ability, had had dreams of him recently, making her think he was trapped somewhere with something dark. She also had a copy of a map of the caves they had planned to check out. But as she didn't have enough money no one had been willing to help her on a hunch. The note was from a group that lost a mage in the caves and never managed to return for the body or his stuff, which was mainly what Fenton had been after. So, of course, off we went the next morning, especially after hearing so much about the supposed treasures in those caves already.

When the captain of the guard heard we were going, he asked us if we could, while going in that direction, help them with their bandit problem. He had planned to ask us anyway. There was a 500 gp reward, which sounded a lot better than maybe finding riches or working for free.

So off we went to a wild bandit chase, not knowing where we might find them, all the while moving in the direction of the forest and the hills. Among other things, we got lost twice, some of us fell into orc remains, got stuck in thorny, poisenous bushes next to an assassin's vine (this included the ranger),had to be rescued from a big swarm of giant bees by a local druid gal and almost got robbed by a group of gypsies. As if that was not enough, we had an add-on with us, another gnome bard who wanted not only to share in adventures but had also fallen in love with our very own gnome bard. Thanks to a rather comical run around being chased by spiders and wolves, we completely missed the trap the hobgoblins had laid for us. But the ogre following us walked right into it. We also had a run in with vegepygmies, and decided to run for some reason. I forgot why but it made sense at the time.

When we finally found the bandits, they were laughing so hard about us, having watched our latest folly, that they didn't hear us stumbling into their lair. That was at least the wanted victory! And some loot.

Arriving at the hills, we got into more trouble. We barely escaped a landslide, and then he group stumbled into a strange old and empty crypt, not counting the underground garden and the dead gnomes and all the rats, of course. After cleansing it of vermin, our ranger decided to inform the druid lady who had rescued us earlier, but we persuaded him to do that only after we got out of the caves. We didn't want to think about the possibility of not coming out.

After that we found a haunted shack. The human wife of a half orc who had turned vampire and then killed her unlived there. She wanted to see her former husband dead once and for all, and had already sent his half brother to take on the job, but she had never heard from him again. Supposedly, the vampire Klar lived in the same caves we were going to anyway, so we stocked up on stakes and made more holy water and decided that we would add this to our list of things to do. We had dealt with more vampires before after all, and someone had to take out the trash anyway. This was the first time we heard about there being more than just a few caves, that is was in fact a city called Barakus, and that the city under the cave entrance was where the vampire now was. Supposedly behind something called Gates of Fear. She lead us to the entrance before we could get lost again. For some reason our ranger sucked badly at finding stuff outdoors. We kept joking that it was because he was such a small halfling.

Before we entered the place we were shown, we decided to make sure nothing would ambush us from behind, so after Flatfoot (we were beginning to see where he got the name) assured us he would be able to find the place again, we kept looking around. There was nothing close by, so we decided to have a look for now and probably find that missing sorcerer, and later establish a teleport point – a spell Slowbottom (who also had the name for a reason as we by now knew) had mastered by now – or so he claimed.

The doors to the caverns, made by orcs a while ago, were just dangling by the hinges, surrounded by ugly totems we also destroyed, just to be on the safe side. There was an orc phrase written above the doors. With only the knight to speak any orc and needing a little booklet to translate, we took half a day to discover that it was just a simple warning not to enter or be crushed. Yay us, but again, better safe than sorry.

Stairs behind the doors were actually going up, and they were littered by debris and bones and other rubbish. For the smaller folks, that's almost all of us, it was kind of a hard climb. Dire rats and us looting the remains of our predecessors made the progress even slower.

Then we got to an entry hall decorated with mosaic floor patterns where another ghoul was lurking. It had good loot, but my poor little gnome bard was almost killed by it thnaks to stumbling, and developed a distinct fear of this type of undead afterwards. Now we could walk north or east, as there were two exists, and the mosaic pattern followed both directions. We couldn't agree which way to go first, so we flipped a coin. It actually landed edge on the table which had us laugh for a while. We decided that this meant our gods thought us underprepared, which we probably were after spending a lot of resources, including light and magic components, on the way here. So, we decided to teleport back to Endhome.

Our wizard had aquired an amulet (we later found out he won it in a dice game) which would allow him to teleport without error to one specific place in endhome, on a remote corner of the academy grounds. He didn't tell us he had the amulet, wanting to seem proficient with the spell, so during lots of the game we kept wondering why he was always teleporting to this inconvenient spot, seeing how we needed to crawl out through a backdoor in the academy walls hoping not to be noticed and questioned.

We took a day to rest and prepare, then we asked Slowbottom to teleport us back. We came out at a cave alright, but not at the entrance to Barakus. Instead, we found ourselves in front of caves our cleric and even the knight, who was slowly turning into a paladin of Hububble's god, could make out as evil and reeking of undead. They promptly declared it the god's will that we came out here and insisted we clear this out first. Which was as well.

In front of those caves, we found the remains of former adventurers and 2 ogres, which our priest insisted on burying. Inside the caves, we found the usual rabble of undead and adventurer remains in a magical darkness. The darkness came from totems in the first cavern, so we set to destroy them all. Funny enough, among the zombies was a little girl – that was the zombie that lasted longest. We kept cleaning out the entrance caves and gather up loot, with this one zombie, for one reason or the other, trailing us, managing to evade any attempt at destroying it. Our guest bard kept saying we should use her/it as a mascot.

Finally we found some sort of worship area, with niches to hold magic items. One, from the impression a heart, was missing, but a half-closed eye and a clawed hand, both made of gold, were still there. We didn't know what to do with those yet, so we made a plan of the area to find it again, and made a note of the missing item form and all, in the hopes to probably recover it and do something about the darkness in here.

Not wanting to return to Endhome again (especially the wizard, who knew the amulet used up a lot of mana transporting us all, we weren't using Vancian magic), we trusted the ranger to find the way, not minding a few day's travel. But we misjudged where we were and ended up way back east, stumbling over a cave with intricate paintings and carvings after a seemingly endless treck through mountain area. By then, we were pretty sure we were going the wrong way, so we might as well check it out while there. It must have opened only recently through a landslide, so we had hopes of treasures untold. Especially our guest bard, who we hadn't been able to leave behind yet.

Through a sinkhole we got to a lower level, the tunnel to get there was filled with stinky mold so my bard had to run outside to barf up, and the priest had to neutralize the poison occassionally ejected by the mold. A hot pool was filling the bottom of the sinkhole, and the knight got burned a little. A tunnel wqs leading off from it, too.

The wizard insisted now on getting back to the city, getting equipment to mine some alchemically important stuff in the pool for lots of gold. But first, all of us but the knight who had trouble fitting in and getting to the tunnel first place went on to inspect the beautifully decorated tunnel. It lead us to a burial cave, albeit a rather small one, filled up with lots of different bones, not only humanoid. Not a single skull though. The center of a room was a pit trap willed with snakes living off rodents, and we only got out without much issue because of all the bones falling in with us.

We found all the skulls in a steamy cavern eastward. The steam came from fissures in the ground and the floor was all slippery. After some falling and climbing back out, we noticed animal and humanoid bones in niches in the walls. Writing over one skull was clearly necromantic – big surprise there. Nothing interesting there, and we didn't want to get cursed either. We also found the tomb of a shaman in another small room. It only had a stone axe and a coral chain, and some of us were reluctant to take them, but the dwarf insisted on taking the axe for now and my bard wanted the chain. However, back in the trap room there was only one other way leading over a pit filled with slime. There was a log over it, but it was old and didn't seem too trustworthy. We decided to let the rogue, tied to a rope, go over, and then he pulled us behind when we all had a levitate spell on.

We eventually emerged in a cave reflecting light a million times. It was all crysatal, with mitts and :):):):), so to say, filling it, all crystal. Even the pool in it, cold as opposed to the boiling one before, was crystal bordered, and the sides were actually dangerously sharp. There was an underwater passage leading out of it, guided by one rune. As our dear magic user had, after the orc language problem, learned comprehend languages in the city, we were able to decipher it as meaning “father.“

The water was flowing into the pool, not out, so we used the breathe water potions we had gotten in the city before (our ranger had insisted on those) and hard the dwarf, the wizard, the ranger and the rouge check it out – we didn't have more potions. They got out at an ancient shrine shouded in more mist because the stream lead into this new cave in a waterfall. I forgot how they figured it out (I ordered pizza in the meantime) but placing the stone axe on the altar and reciting a prayer written there gave it the abilities of a ghost touch greataxe for its creator, which the wizard confirmed. Our dwarf, who had done the deed, suddenly felt weird though, out of character we learned he had permanently lost 1 HP.

Swimming back, the wizard had his robe stuck on a crystal and almost drowned despite the water breatihing potion, which ran out shortly before we cut him lose. Talk about shameful endings barely avoided.

We camped outside, and next day decided to try going north, where a passage through the mountains seemed to lead back west. Of course it soon twisted, and at the next morning we were about to just try to teleport to the caves we were actually looking for when we saw yet another cave. Being what we were, we checked it out, too. The floor was unstable, though. The rogue missed the search check, and we had stationed the dwarf outside to watch for other dangers (stupid idea, when going spelunking always take the dwarf) so we ended up with some wounds from falling – our guest bard's flute broke – and found some meager treasure.

Enough was enough, so we did another teleport. This time, based on the sun and some other factors, our ranger was sure we had ended up way west. Way way west...

2 half-orc brothers stumbled upon us, and we befriended them. They told us more about Barakus, and they learned of the half-elf druid gal they had for some reason never met. They were both disliked in endhome for being half-orcs from a tribe that had made trouble or something, and they were happy to have made friends. We decided to take them back to the druid gal the next time – we still needed to tell her about the crypt anyway, and we were so far from where we wanted to go we might as well take the detour. Too many peole to teleport, but we didn't mind having another look at the forest. Save for an encounter with some angry giants, we got there fine for a change. Together with the half-elf, we made our way back the next way as she wanted to see where the brothers lived, and later check out the crypt. The brothers wanted all of us to check some brick house and a wizard's tower while around, so yeah, what the heck, sure...
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Cute but dangerous
Our wizard teleported back to the city alone that night to get the supplies needed to mine the hot pool and the crystal caves. We wanted to do that before we got into Barakus – hoping to find the cave again to begin with – to be able to afford more scrolls and potions and other stuff. It turned out teleporting back to us was little problem when he was teleporting alone (could spend more mana on teleport precision). He just landed in a pond and was all wet.

As soon as we got him dry, we marched on north to the indicated brick house at the edge of the forest. It was just small, with a rusted fence around it. It must have been rather old, but except from broken windows and door it looked just fine and we were kind of considering using it as our own base out here. Once we had routed out what the brothers hadn't dared to do alone before. Which turned out to be a barghest. As we had the brothers, the druid gal and the other bard with us it wasn't that much of a challenge. As we got it in the first room, our SCs thought it safe to search the rest, while the 2 druids (the half-elf and one of the brothers) went to search the area. The other half-orc took watch outside.

In a ruined library we found a note linking it with the wizard's tower, the note also mentioned some sort of teleport ring. Other than that, we just found some minor diamonds. However, the only room which still had a door had stairs leading downward. Thinking it was just a way to a normal basement, we went down and got shocked by an electrical trap. Some of us decended quite fast after that, ending in a small chamber with only a barrel with 2 sunrods in it. But hey, those things don't come for free either, and there was a tunnel out of there we of course had to explore. None of us thought of informing the others where we were going, or thought of waiting for them. The place looked kind of unfinished, and we had trouble judging how long we were walking, it was probably faster than going through the forest. We passed a cave that seemed to have been a rest place once, but the bucket used to take water out of a pool here was dirty, and we had our own water. Eventually we came to a larger cave and followed another tunnel breaking off in a right angle. Following it we aoided a trap and came to a dead end. Hidden there was some sort of steel tool. We thought it must have a purpose and spend quite some time searching until my bard, not the rogue, found a secret door following the original tunnel direction. We walked on for a while and then came to another basement with stairs leading up. There was a circle of runes around the stairs, which we recognized as a summoning trap, partly because of the text we found earlier. We even managed to find out that we needed the name of the trap creator to pass. Which we didn't know. The name had been on the paper we had found, but we hadn't brought it with us for some dumb reason. Deducting that this was probably the basemet of the wizard tower we wanted to take on anyway, we made the decision to go all the way back to try from above. We could still try our luck with this summoning circle if above would not work.

Long story short, we reunited with the others, trecked all the way to the tower, couldn't enter by any means and trecked back the next day to brave the circle – or rather, find the paper and thus the circle creator's name. Gah.

We came out in a big, well stocked, well preserved library, it even still had noes in books the wizard who owned it had read last. Stairs going up ended at a door we found was magically trapped. Not able to determine the codeword or what it did, we didn't go through but the rogue and the dwarf took the door out of the wall and placed it at the bottom of the staits at the wall. The face of our GM was priceless. We decided to teleport it back to the city, identify it properly and sell it.

Again we came out at a library, this time with all magic books. They weren't up to date but still useful, but there was not a single book on conjuration. Didn't bother us much as our wizard was more into abjuration and enchantments. We also found a letter to his 3 daughters, with the last bit strangely crossed out.

To the next floor again we had to take out a summoning door. On that level, we found all the missing conjuration stuff, way more than on any other subject. Guess we found this wizard's specialty. And on to the next floor we went, again taking out a door. But by then we knew the command words – each door had a letter carved in it, which was one of the names of the 3 daughters. One by one, my bard and the wizard brought the doors back to the city and sold them for an immense ammount of money.

The tower top was actually glass, with an illusion on it to make it appear brick. Yeah so we decided to claim the tower and sell most of the outdated books one by one, except for whatever the wizard thought useful. Over the next few days, with the brothers and their new friend departed, we did inventory. As we had also found a ring which had a gease on it (identified in the city) and functioned as a teleport without error for the wearer to get back to the tower top as long as the spellbook it compelled the wearer to search hadn't been found, our wizard was happy. He would gladly search, starting in Barakus, as long as it meant he could teleport himself and everyone else here if needed. So he had 2 places he could securely teleport to now.

Our attempt to find the entrance to the burial cave to mine stuff landed us in, not in front of, a grimlock cave. We had to fight our way out and destroy an evil god's statue in the process, and all it got us was a ring of swimming. Our priest asked his god to stop fooling around with us, that we would have plenty of time to root out evil and please, let us finish one thing after the other. That seemed to have helped, because we actually got there next try and were busy for a week or so.

Our next trip to the entrance of Barakus, with lots of scrolls, potions, items and new spells at the ready, landed us close enough to walk there and keep exploring. By now, we felt we needed to hurry to find the missing sorcerer guy – we had almost forgotten about him.

We decided to go straight ahead this time, not trusting coin flips. We found a statur of orcus, just a piece of stone but the cleric and the paladin/knight destroyed it anyway. Just then we found the cave had an owner – an orc named Burg and his war dogs. He had noticed our tracks days earlier and thought that we might have decided to heed the warning above the door. He thought us foolish to want to find the lost city, and also warned us of a ghoul down the path we hadn't yet taken. Ghoul... my bard kind of wanted to run. Missing a secret door, we went back and east from there, finding and finishing the ghoul. We also found an ogre, who was happy we had killed off that ghoul as it had prevented him from hunting (“Deadwalk thing not have make me dead other thing for eat“), and after a short battle with the dwarf decided he would leave us alone if we'd leave him alone. None of the inhabitants remembered anyone fitting the description of the lost sorcerer.

We explored on, finding nothing but a chasm with a bridge, empty caves and a harmless ratmen colony. Harmless as in, they thought us to be intruders, we fought back and they decided to rather let us pass. Tunnels went upward from there, and the ratmen told us there were weird things going on lately, not counting the ghoul, and that they avoided the area as it led to an old orc burial chamber. We went anyway, of course, but found the chamber empty. Being done for the day we went back to take up Burg's invitation to stay the night, and while talking with him, the rogue out of a hunch checked the area again and this time found that secret door. Burg was all surprised and was happy for us to check out what was there. He had never gone beyond the ratmen himself.

The next morning we found an empty cave with 2 spring traps at each exit. It spelled kobold. We disabled them and once more flipped a coin. The flip told us to go east. And then back west. Arriving at an intersection with a stalagmite in the middle, we found runes carved into it. Written in Draconic and barely readable but we could make out something the knight and the fighter recognized as Warrior's Prayer. Caves west and north of there were empty, so we went a longer passage south to come out in a cave with glowing rocks in some alcoves. The floor was strangely dirty, so we cleaned it up and found a magic circle. We were able to identify it after some ritual and found it to be a way to transfer CON from whoever touches the stones to whoever is in the circle. Not of much help right now.

As it was late, we went back, but upon hearing sounds from north we decided to check it out from the cave where we had disabled the traps earlier. We found a cave full of spiders, who had had kobold for dinner at some point, and had to smoke it out. We also found a chute leading upward, and someone was talking up there, calling out to us. So up we went, expecting other adventurers but instead found a group calling themselves travelers, camping in another entrance to the caves. We soon found out they were minor bandits, 3 siblings and a half-orc orphan, who used to bge in the gang we had finished. They warned us of another entrance down a slope to the east, describing something we could identify as kobolds coming out of it at night. Our priest and wannabe-paladin managed to talk some sense into them to stop robbing travelers, and when the priest wasn't listening the rogue told them stealing in secret was way better :) We stayed the night, and they departed the next day.

Now we definitely wanted to meet the kobolds, so the next day we went outside and went down the slope east to where the entrance to the kobold lair was. We decided to be polite and not kill off any more of their traps. In our world, kobolds were usually chaotic good to neutral nuisances. By now, Burg had followed us out of worry, with his dogs, so we had him along.

It ended with us making friends with the kobolds, learn a lot about the caves and the going-ons, and Twee, their leader, deciding to come with us for a while, together with his bodyguards Shack, Shuck, Muck, Mack, Devash, Kreshh, Nut, Fluck, Dingan and the shaman apprentice Digellidip (did I mention our GM loves to attach a string of NPCs to us?).

Twee had found a map of party of the cave by a large lake he wanted to show us and had been wondering what was up with that, but he didn't trust his folks enough to be of much help, but he had been an “outside adventurer“ for a while, so he claimed. Could explain while his rooms were so neat, and why he had his tribe to battle drills.

The cave with the lake was large, and we were shown a ledge in the cave, which had a statue of a beautiful maiden and an amulet of protection from sleep and charms (the kobolds knew what it was) in an offering bowl. Only a “critter free of good or bad“ as the kobolds called it, could use it without awakening the skeleton guard though. We determined it meant a person of neutrality. The only true neutral SC was my bard, so yay. Fire beetles were a real annoyance everywhere, but we found as long as we kept our distance, they kept theirs.

There were islands in the middle of the lake, all of them holding an entrance to a hidden room, but it required 3 keys to open,which the kobold hadn't found and he was disappointed that we didn't have them either. With our trap identifying scrolls, we knew it was a fireball trap, nothing any of us dared to trigger just yet and we couldn't just remove this door. However, when we came back up, a grumpy water mephit attacked us, claiming the lake and all the cave as his. The kobolds had forgotten to mention that. Fleeing down, we tricked him into following, and when we all used our rings of invisibility we had bought before, he rushed right though us, falling for the open door illusion the kobolds had quickly created and triggered the trap. We got him back to the lake in time, not wanting to kill it, and it grudgingly admitted we weren't easy prey and no evil intruders.

While the priest and the gnomes discussed the terms of exploration, the rest checked out the now open room before trap reset and found a chapel with a statue of a robed guy and pews carved with faces of sleeping people. There was also a secret door, and deducting that the faces and statue may be an opening mechanism we took the restofthe day to figure it out. Could have gone faster if not for meddling impatient kobolds. But it just lead to a small chamber which help but a pedestal with a red cube. Knowing it must be something important, we took it and forgot to check for traps. Poison gas quickly spread and we had to run. But while the door to the chapel was still wedged open, we did find a way to take it out and teleport it to the city to sell... then we got equipment allowing us to take out the poison gas trap, too. Really, this quickly became more profitable, together with the options to mine the other cave, than this fabled city we were searching.

The water from the lake drained through a narrow channel leading to the cave where a mist demon was the mephi had asked us to kill. Ya know, demon, priest and by now clearly paladin... they had to do it anyway. And that was all well because we might have missed the entrance to Barakus (and a bit of minor treasure). The entrnace was a heavy door half ajar with words in common over it reading something like opening your mind and bringing your true heart. We decided to ignore that for now and check out the rest of this level first, especially as the kobolds didn't really dare go down and we kind of liked them by now.

The rest consisted of a cave with a pool and a mermain statue which had a protection from evil around it, a varguille (I hate those) we tricked into following us to said statue (we almost lost Muck in the process and hurt the shaman apprentice) and finished it off there. Then we found the cave of Grimba the Grumpy Gnome (“I tried living outside once, it was awful“ who, after being made friendly, which involved the kobolds apologizing for trying to steal from him before, told us even more about the caves, including that there was a young mean dragon close who had recently moved in. Also, the next level down was filled with supposedly evil orcs and goblings, to which Burg admitted having heard their voices before when the tried to come up. He and our wizard traded spells, and we slowly learned, after spending the night, that he had been thrown out of his gnome village for being annoying, and he feared following us for being rejected again. A prist+paladin persuasion later (and a GM who sure had fun with this) our group had grown another gnome, with our secondary gnome bard getting somewhat jealous when my gnome started to like the grumpy know-it-all for his, well, knowledge. I believe the GM's comment was that we shouldn't have taken leadership feats if we didn't want followers. It was hillarious.

Next day we were shown another cave exit and then the cave part where the dragon was. It turned out to be a young black dragon named Zemfer, and while he did attack us first, we managed to persuade him to talk to us. Turns out he was recently orphaned. As black dragons in our worlds aren't necessarily evil, the GM rolled his alignment and he turned out to be chaotic neutral. As you can guess, young dragons like adventure... and the kobolds immediately venerated him, which meant Zemfer needed to do something heroic. And with Zemfer wanting to follow us (officially, he claimed he would lead us, of course) the kobolds decided they would also follow.

The dragon already had an apprentice. A goblin adept, former apprentice of a goblin shaman who was now bodyless in a corner, studded with diamonds. Good thing was, the goblin was not only too coward to return to the lower levels, he also needed to stay up here and cast a black dragon illusion while the master was out.

With the dragon's caves found, that was all of this level and we concluded that weekend while our PCs went back to the city and then the tower to sell stuff and stock up on things again.

Voidrunner's Codex

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