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Posts Tagged ‘Ruined Fortress of the Evil Overlord’

zero2hero

A group of brave young souls traveled towards the edge of civilizations in hopes of gaining fame and fortune. Then they got captured by orcs.

The rules of the game are very simple: roll the six ability scores (4d6 drop the lowest) three times, do not bother putting them into the attributes — right now they are just three nebulous sets of numbers. The characters are literal blank slates, with no class, nor even race or sex (all virgins). Imagine them as hooded figures of questionable lineage. Each character has 2 hit points and an armor class of 10. That’s it.

Each character should be allowed one mundane non-weapon item worth no more than a single gold piece, such as a rock, nail, or ice pick, as well as a loin cloth and moth-eaten cloak. This can be altered for other adventures than the one presented here: Slave Pens Under Ghost City.

The player chooses one of the three sets to begin playing that single character unless and until another is needed. The others are considered “hovering in the background” until needed. The fact that each player rolls up three sets of scores means they will not be as worried about losing a character. In fact, some of the characters might have terrible scores and be purposefully put into perilous positions. The zero level adventure can be very deadly in order to winnow out the excess characters.

During play the characters will want to do things, like attack, break something, try to read a scroll, or search for traps, whatever. At that point the player puts one of their numbers into the applicable attribute, and makes the necessary roll. If it is successful they make a note of their deeds done. Eventually the characters end up with most of their ability scores filled in, and a set of deeds that will point to a character concept.

This method allows players the time to choose which score went where as they are needed, and the dynamic of needing a good roll at the moment, countered by the optimal ability score placement for any future character concepts, creates a great spread of the numbers, not always optimized towards the future class, but gives a character real character.

This can also be used for deciding racial factors, by asking if anyone has the ability to detect sloping passages, for example, a dwarf might be revealed. Uncovering themes, backgrounds and other specialties, depending on the length of the zero level adventure are also possible. Even class abilities can be discovered through play, such as a character making a wisdom check to pray to her deity for divine aid, or a sagacious character making an intelligence check to detect the presence of magic.
Whoever survives the adventure becomes a first level character. They can keep the two extra hit points as a reward.

Under Ghost City

Under Ghost City

1. Slave Pens
The room is dark.
The large dank room has been divided into a number of small cells by the iron bars stretching from floor to ceiling. A stone table and a rancid pool of water occupy one corner, near a heavy oaken door as the only exit.

A ring of keys hangs on a hook by the door, which will open all the cell doors, but not the door to the chamber, which is also locked (DC 10 to unlock). There is a well concealed secret door 10 feet above floor level in the west wall.

2. River run-off
The sound of rushing water becomes overwhelming as the door opens, revealing a splashing river flowing through the mist-filled chamber from iron-barred openings in the north and south walls.

The river is fast flowing and deep. The ground is pebbly, with a number of larger sharp rocks, and the iron bars require super-human effort (DC 21) to bend. Once through a person has a 25% chance to survive the roiling, airless passage before being dumped into a reedy pond on the outskirts of the ruined town where reside a gaggle of 10 goblins. (HD ½, HP 5, AC 12, Atk 1, Dam 1d6, 50% chance of 2 HD leader)

3. Guard room
The hallway has a trip-wire set to ring a bell if anyone approaches from area 1.

The room contains a table and stools in the center and piles of filth in the corners.

4 orcs (Orc (HD 1, HP 8,8,5,5, AC 14, +2 Atk 1, Dam 1d8) Two orcs are big and bulbous and grant an extra +2 with their battle axes, while the other are tall and skinny and grant +2 damage with their compound short bows. One of each duty is always on duty while the others sleep in their trash piles.

The room contains 4 sets soiled studded leather, 2 battle axes, 2 short bows, 20 arrows, 2 daggers, a lantern, 2 flasks oil, 2 sets manacles, skeleton key to open any door in dungeon, and a cask of really terrible beer.

4. Blutus the ogre
The stench should have warned you away. A huge hulking form squats in this small chamber, snoozing with his chin resting on the spike of his club. It Is an ogre.

The ogre (HD 4, HP 24, AC 14, +4 Att 1, Dam 1d10) is automatically surprised and sits there grinning if the characters attack. He then commences to pound each of them into paste. He is also willing to barter and trade, loving things that are shiny most, and tasty, second most. His treasure consists of 45 gold, 2 roasted chickens, a large bag, 1 short sword (toothpick), and a large tangled coil of rope – 50’.

5. Pool room
This chamber looks to be natural, but overlaid long ago with tile murals depicting joyous bathers enjoying the steaming warmth of the natural spring. Now the tiles are decaying and falling away, but the pool looks as inviting as ever.

Anyone who swims in the pool is invigorated and earns 1 permanent boost to hit points and forever afterward has a distinctive healthy glow.

There is also a purple worm randomly passing by who will eat the first person to get in the pool, and then disappear forever.

6. Supply room
The door opens to reveal a room stacked with a jumble of farming equipment, animal handling, and other implements of the rural life. The room smells of rust and abandonment.

This room is a supply chamber for the farming and animal handling of the slaves. All sorts of tools are kept here, mostly in bad, rusted conditioned, after the orcs swept through the town and collected the abandoned relics.

7. Treasure vault
This chamber appears to be the main storage vault of the occupying orcs. Suits of studded leather, a suit of chain, and battle axes, bows, 200 arrows, 2 long swords, back packs, bags,etc.

… and a small locked and trapped chest (poison gas DC 12 or death 10 ft radius) which contains 150 gold, and a scroll Fireball. In one corner stand is a banged up suit of Heavy Plate with a symbol of a rising full moon on the breast plate. (-1 AC, -25% value until repaired). The secret door is hidden behind the armor (DC 12) the sound of running water be faintly heard from that corner of the room.

8. Mausoleum

This shadowy vault contains three alcoves on either side of the chamber. The floor is tiled in a mosaic pattern depicting the grim reaper.

Six skeletons rise from the caskets in the alcoves to attack. If the characters survive, the doors (locked DC 13) leads to the surface. Each skeleton wears a sigil ring worth 50 gold due to the historical significance of the noble families.

9. Waterfall cavern
The sound of a waterfall becomes ever louder until the hallway, dripping wet, enters a natural cavern with a waterfall splashing through a hole in the ceiling. Daylight!

If the characters defeat the giant crayfish (HD 4, HP 21, AC 15, +4 Att 2, Dam 1-12) that calls this pool home, they can escape.

10. The church
From the doorway the open sky becomes visible. The stairs lead to the same deserted shrine last seen when entering the foul pit.

11. Captains Room
This chamber reeks of blood and smoke. The room contains a pile of rotting furs against one wall, food and drink heaped on a table, and a few disfigured corpses in pools of their own spreading blood.

This is the room of the orc chieftain (HD 3, HP 17, AC 15, +3 Atk 1, Dam 1d8). He wears chain, wields a battle axe, and has a lockbox under his furs with 50 gold, and a silver necklace worth 75 gold.

12. House slave room
A dozen house slaves live and til in this smoky chamber. Cooking the questionable foods, washing the clothes, and generally aiding the orcs in whatever way they can, even being occasionally eaten themselves.

The humans (HD 1, HP 1, AC 10, Dam 1-2) will try to talk the party into turning back, and if that fails they will attempt to stop them while calling for aid on the captain or the guard chamber. There are a few knives, food, and some pots and pans about, as well as wineskins and flasks of oil.

perytonOnce the “heroes” have pulled themselves out of the mire and are back on the road to freedom, it might be time to harry their journey towards civilization with a Peryton.

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Monastery of St Cuthbert

Monastery of St Cuthbert

This mini-adventure continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

The Monastery of St Cuthbert History

The monastery is located in the forests surrounding a sparsely populated countryside. The monks are part of an order devoted to protecting the good folk in their domain by patrolling and watching over the inhabitants of the forest. Being monks of St. Cuthbert, the monks are not averse to using shows of strength and bouts of violence to ensure that lawful goodness prevails.

The walls are built of strong logs, the grounds are well tended and well defended at all times by at least half the monks. The daily tasks of the monks focuses on growing crops and keeping farm animals. The monks use the fruits of these labors to support themselves and to help those in need. Acquiring wealth is forbidden to the monks, but they keep a small stash buried in the woods outside the monastery for emergencies.

This edifice made its appearance in an adventure called “The forgotten King” (not to be confused with the published adventure of the same name. I just liked the name.) It was the opening adventure of a campaign I call “The undead wars” that saw a battle for the material realm between Orcus and Demogorgon, with the heroes (and the world) caught in the crossfire. In the adventure, the good people of King’s Gate were invaded by an undead army while the characters were staying at the inn. They have to escape, then find the clues to bring back the legendary “Forgotten King” who saved the people millenia before, and would return to do it again when most needed.

The Monastery of St Cuthbert was in a forest that the characters needed to explore for clues to the wherabouts of the king. Having stormed an orc hideout, they needed to find a place to rest, and came upon the sanctuary. It so happened that due to cancellations, only a couple players were able to make the next session, and so the monks had a special mission for those characters in attendance.

A gypsy woman was hiding with a half-elven child in the undead-occupied village of Kings Gate. The elven mage and human druid agreed to go on a rescue mission with an elf monk as guide. They entered the village and had to fight two ogres before arriving at the tent. They miraculously slew the ogres but in the process the elf wizard was knocked unconscious and fell into a cart of fish (which saved the characters life.) The woman was gone but they found the child, just as a patrol of skeletons began marching along the street. The elf monk escaped with the child while the druid held off the skeletons in a suicidal sacrifice.

He slew many of the skeletons before being cut down and left to bleed to death in the street. Thus began the most intense survival I have ever witnessed in a game. In 3e, the rules for below zero involve rolling dice and seeing if you lose another hitpoint or stabilize,once per hour. The druid was mortally wounded, and all night long he rolled to see if he slipped closer to death, which he did until he was at -9 hp. -10 hp was death. At that point he somehow stabilized, and dawn was breaking, so I ruled his dog came back, licked his face until he was conscious enough to pull himself up, fish the wizard out of the cart, and limp home to the monastery. Their reward for a successful mission was a hand woven head band that allowed +1 spell memorization per day.

There is an error in the map. If you look closely you will notice that there is no way to use the staircase to go between floors.

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High Noon on Ant Hill

High Noon on Ant Hill

One of the first adventures I wrote for 4th edition, while still testing out the game, and before taking the plunge with a new campaign, was the “delve” High Noon on Ant Hill. It is a 3-5 encounter mini adventure with a very straight-forward premise. Enter the ant hill of the giant ants and kill the queen. It was played twice, once with a group of middle schoolers, who only made it through the first encounter, and once with the permanent members of the game group, who were slaughtered during the final encounter. It was a great little adventure, known and reviled for its difficulty, and I decided to dust it off for our Thanksgiving game bash. It was a ton of fun.

The adventure was updated to 5th edition rules on the fly, and other changes were made to help the game “flow” and also because I wanted to build the whole dungeon before-hand using my collection of Dwarven forge game tiles. The delve was incorporated into the dungeon the party has been exploring, and for simplicity sake, there was no resting and no turning back while we played. I let the players know that if they made it through the whole adventure, they would gain a level at the end. This seemed to keep them moving forward without too much complaining. Sadly no photo was taken of the delve during play, but it consisted of four encounter areas.

The first encounter is the hill. Originally, it was a large conical hill with a dead tree at its top. The tree was hollow and acted as a doorway into the anthill. In this rendition, I mixed it up. They entered a large chamber. The ants had dug up a twenty foot trench and used the dirt to create a hill against the back wall of the chamber. They stood the trunk of dead tree at the top of the pile, and the hollow led through a passageway to the door in the back wall of the room. Hidden in the branches of the dead tree were a pair of giant flying ant drones. They were tough.

The ants had a high armor class and high hit points, and they had a fly by attack that let them make an attack in the middle of a move without provoking an attack. This worked until the party forced them to attack at the limit of their 8 squares, so they ended their round next to a party member. When the ants became bloodied, they could shatter their crystalline wings in a burst attack of crystal shards.

The ants were killed, and in the process the wizard’s ferret familiar was reduced to one hit point. Rather than having a wounded ferret on his hands, the wizard snapped its spine so it would reform fully healed in thirty minutes. The little ferret let out an agonizing squeal as it perished at its owners hands. The squeal echoed down the hallways and nearly a mile away, a giant lizard heard the sound of breakfast being served. Before exiting the chamber through the bole of the tree, they found a dead elf concealed by his cloak of elvenkind. The rogue snapped it up.

They came to a hallway, and heard a scratching sound ahead. They were not surprised by the carrion crawler ambush, and everyone was waiting for it when it sprang out of the wall. But they were not expecting the giant lizard coming at them from the direction they just came. The lizard attacked the wizard and while the rest of the prty fought the carrion crawler, the wizard fought the lizard. He scared the lizard so bad with his imitation of a female lizard in mating season, that the monster leaped up into the wizards arms, yet still tried to swallow his head. The paladin finally slew the carrion crawler and turned to stab the lizard. The wizard wept at the lizard’s passing, having become very close to it in such a short emotion filled encounter. From the lair of the carrion crawler, they found a pair of potions. One was a potion of invisibility, the other was unknown.

The third encounter area was a long chamber with the center dug up for farming. Various fungi were being tended by ten giant worker ants, and guarded by 2 warrior ants. Additionally, one new worker ant appeared from the far door each round until the characters moved into the final room. This battle was quick and decisive, as the worker ants only had one hit point apiece (yay minions!) In the fungi field they found an abandoned battle axe +1, which was made of weightless iron, and had a quirk that it was the only magic weapon carryable at ta time. The paladin took up the axe, but traded it with the fightress at the end of the adventure.

The party entered the final chamber where they had to fight the queen ant and her pair of drone cows, each of which was covered in corrosive slime and could pump out a worker ant or make a pincer attack. Meanwhile the queen flitted about making pincer attacks. The wizard was struck by a critical hit and knocked unconscious. The fightress attacked a cow and her weapons were corroded by the acidic slime. She went down the next round, and it was up to the kinder assassin and the dragonborn paladin to bring it to a conclusion, which they did. Beside the magical component they were looking for, they were rewarded with 500 gold pieces, a magic suit of banded +1 and a wand of magic missiles with 10 charges.

And they made it to third level. Good game.

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thedm2Join me if you will good travelers as I recount a tale of how a group of random homicidal maniacs fell together one day into a large hole in the ground. Once down there, this group of murder-hoboes teamed up to embark on a voyage to escape, and to destroy the divine pantheon of their world’s creation along the way. Oops!

The wizard had in his possession a magic recipe for the creation of an unknown magic item. The scroll was blank, and only when a spell component was near would a line appear with the needed ingredient. As the party was arguing and picking each others pockets in some obscure hall in an unknown stretch of dungeon, Jambunathon felt a warming sensation in his breast. No it was not his heart growing three times larger, it was the first line of the recipe filling in on the scroll in his vest pocket.

a hall

a hall

Dwarven False Gold appeared, a type of ore mined by dwarves and renowned for its use in magic. Ahead they saw a set of iridescent glowing, multi-faceted eyes at the end of the hall. A carrion crawler and giant soldier ant were locked in mortal combat. The ants eyes were glowing with particles of dwarven false gold. The adventurers quickly slew both insects, and they discovered that the ant carried 1/150th of the amount of the stuff they needed.

Ant man vs cat fish - I mean giant warrior ant and carrion crawler locked in combat

Ant man vs cat fish – I mean giant warrior ant and carrion crawler locked in combat

It was decided that the drone mothers, who spawned countless ant warriors, must contain glands full of the dissolved gold, and that they could get the required 2 pounds by extracting it from the source, rather than 149 more sets of ant warriors eyes.

However, when the party decided which hallway to follow at the intersection with the insect incident, they chose the long, dark, narrow passage sloping downwards, rather than the wide hallway with clear ant tracks. Go figure.

This way be monsters... but that way be monsters too.

This way be monsters… but that way be monsters too.

They came to a stair and descended. At the bottom of the stair, the magic users detected and anti-magic field. They entered, and were in a region that was totally dead to magic. There was also no escape, they could not leave the anti-magic shell once in.

But first, there was a strange and unexplained rumbling in the walls...

But first, there was a strange and unexplained rumbling in the walls…

They could hear the sounds of women grunting in what sounded like athletic exertion, and soon discovered its source. A chamber held two naked women, holding hands and fighting desperately with their long nails, gashing and gouging in a mortal fight that upon closer examination had been going on for a long time.

They were the fleshly avatars of the Goddess of Betrayal and of Treachery. They had been imprisoned and could not leave until one was destroyed, but they were equal in power, and though stripped of magic by the anti-magic shell they were trapped within, they could not one overpower the other.

Interestingly, another item appeared on the wizard’s grocery list. One drop divine heart blood. Oh this was going to be good.

The godess of treachery drew the short straw, and she was soon killed. The fightress Jillian knew a moment of divine strength as she beheaded the goddess. She then felt a stabbing pain in her back, as the lights dimmed in her eyes. Betrayed by the Goddess of Betrayal!

This is a creatively re-imagined portrayal of what actually didnt happen.

This is a creatively re-imagined portrayal of what actually didnt happen.

When the goddess was slain, the anti-magic shell dissipated. The Goddess of Treachery regained her powers and grew another set of arms and daggers appeared in each delicate hand.

The wizard survived a slash of her blade as he gathered a drop of divine blood. The paladin saved the fightress by laying on hands, and the goddess recognized she was in danger. In return for letting her escape, she would tell them the location of a magic sword (up the stairs down the hall, turn left, cross the wide hall and continue along to the tee intersection, look for the secret door) and she also granted them a favor if they should ever call on her.

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fortress-viewThe group was slightly smaller than usual, which meant it was normal sized, with me,and six participants gathered round table: Doc the barb, Reya the wiz, Gnome the dwarf cler, The fightress Zubizu and the Monk Evil Sheva. Oh and lets not forget the ferret small business owner, Jambunathon ranger-wizard. On the menu was fan favorite and last minute substitutin: three full bags of dollar menu items from nearest fast food restaurant. Game set, play.

The party was back in town, reaping the rewards of their scesful delve. They had hundreds of gold, an went on a spending spree. Their first encounter was an obsequious fellow who introduced himself as the aid to Al Swaggerty, proprietor of the infaous Gemstone Dance Hall. The hall offered special “welcome back heroes” parties for the cost of 50 gold. For 100 gold, they offered drinks on the house for everyone. The party was not interested in a party, but were eventually convinced to pay 9 gold for a round on the house, which included a cheer in their honor. It was at this point Al Sawggerty asked what he should call them, suggesting “The Special Bunch.”

Deadrock

Deadrock

No one in the band of adventurers liked this name, and instead came up with “The Flaming Ferrets” to which Al Swaggerty responded “The flamings WHATS?” and they were like yes thats it.

Other town hijinx ensued, including a visit to the town wizard Llywellyn, who offered them a reward of 500 gold and two scrolls of their choice, if they would return a spellbook of his. It was stolen by a runaway apprentice believed to have gone into the Frotress of the Evil Overlord with the book on a quest for adventure and plunder. He was not expected to have made it very far.

Al Swaggerty tried to sell them property, mentionind that only property owneres were considered citizens (and therefore above the law) but all others were considered outsiders and potential law-breakers.

The dwarf cleric performed a message of prayer in the streets, with aid from both the ranger-wizard and the very succesful wiz. Together they raked in 20 gold and also twenty devout followers. The cleric then sold these to the local “Church of All Folk” who offered ten gold a head for “new converts.” They were quickly chained up by a burly guard with a whip and four bugbear helpers.

The fightress was outraged and bought the converts freedom, habing to spend 300 gold to set them free. The slaver made 100 gold and the people, including a few orphan children who spent their lives “hiding from priest of the all-folk” all scattered back into the muddy streets of Deadrock without even a thanks to Zubizu. Later when the wiz found out about the slavery attempt, she tried to boot the dwarf from the party. Both the monk and dwarf cleric aqre both lawful evil, and were able to remain in the party.

The next day they started on an uneventful three-day journey to the fortress. Upon arrival at the fortresss, they took a moment to inspect. A mile long stair led up to a large central plaza, with halls to left and right, and a small black pyramid in the center. Behind the pyramid was a mountain of rubble from the ancient ruins, and the actual mountains beyond. The right side was mostly explored, and above it towered the ruins of the Fell Tower, which they had also partially explored after being captured by the blue kobolds. The left side was so far unexplored and was below the also mysterious Dwarf Tower, a squat, square construction with a half-destroyed tower, exposed and leaning overhead.

First they approached the black pyramid. Legend spoke of the tomb of the original evil overlord, known only as War Duke, haunted still by his ghost. The journey into his tomb could lead to riches or death. The ferret went into the narrow door, down the confined stairds and into the constrictive hallway, which led to an arched opening, beyond which was misty and unclear. The monk was first to enter, and found herself in a sandy chamber filled with large gold disks half buried in the sand.

map1

Suddenly the ghostly image of Warduke materialized, provoking a roll for surprise, then initiative, both of which the monk won. She struck just as the orc was preparing to swing his migthy great axe, and connected, the orc instantly vanished and she was able to take a single disk fromt he chamber. It was worth 1,000 gold. Everyone in turn fought and defeated the warduke until Zubizu, who lost initiaive and was struck for one hit point of PERMANENT damage, and knocked out of the chamber after being laughed at by the orc ghost boss. Luckily she was able to return and defeat the orc and won a thousand gold piece disk, The dwarf cleric was not so luckily and lost a total of four hit points before giving up without a disk. She was very angry.

Next they went to the left side of the first level. Right off the main hallway was a set of double doors which led to a huge chamber with pillars and a vaulted ceiling. The northern section was colapsed. They searched the pillars, sheped like womens bodies with animal heads, to no avail, but found a door hidden by the rubble. This led to a hallway, which the ferret explored. The hallway turned sharpely, with a small square window, and three doors around a corner. When the ferret leapt into the window,a goblin shouted “Breeyark!” and the party hastily retreated back into the pillared hall. They fought the six goblins as they emereged from the door, with the monk taking out the first wave, and the wizard frying most of the rest with a flaming hand.

The Flaming Whats made short work of the goblins and then searched the room with the window, finding it to be a now abandoned guard room, empty except for a table and six stools. The table held some gaming dice and 54 gold, or 9 apiece, and we ended there. (Were the gaming dice for a fantasy goblin version of dungeons and dragons? Perhaps…)

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1a-art1-waterweird

Any chance a dungeon master has to strip his party of their belongings and throw them into a dank cell should not be overlooked. Being defeated in battle is a perfect opportunity for an otherwise slain group of characters to instead get a second chance. Since the campaign began with the characters playing zero level slave-captives to a band of orcs, it was only fitting that the kobolds should offer them up as a live meal to their beloved deity, god of storms. They awoke in cells with barred cell doors and barred windows looking out over the mountain valley five hundred feet below.

With them in an adjacent cell was a femal elf named Sheva, a monk who chose to be there, using the cell as a place to rest. Being a replacement for character for a slain rogue, Sheva began with her normal allotment of starting gear. Starting her at zero level was a possibility, but she appreciated having gear, since none of the rest of the party had anything left.

As the ranger sent his ferret familiar into the hallway, they noticed a large blue dragon slowly circling in the air towards them. They then noticed the blackened and damaged stones of the chamber, and the large size of the windows, and decided they needed to be on the other side of the door. They made it just before the dragon swooped close by the cells, checking for breakfast.

To the south they heard the sounds of kobolds, and saw a descending stair, which they remembered being marched or dragged up, along with their gear. It meant their gear was on this floor. They took the door across the hall after carefully listening and checking for traps, and found a hallway with doors along the north wall and a morning glow coming from an archway further down the hall. The ferret went ahead and saw kobold tracks leading to the first door. IT could smell their gear beyond.

They entered to find a chamber bare except for a sundered stone sarcophagus under arched windows against the far wall. Their gear was thrown into a pile in the center of the room along with a few extra weapons and bags. As they were donning their arms and armor, a ghostly visage rose from the sarcophagus. It was a gaunt skeletal ghost wreathed in black robes forever disintegrating into moths. Its eyes flashed blue and it introduced itself as Erikonig the Oracle. It offered to read the fate of any who would gaze into its eyes.

The three out of four elves in the party conversed and knew this to be an elf lord of ancient times said to be able to foretell destiny. The first elf stepped forward and when she looked into his eyes, he gazed in anger and shouted “yours remains unknown as you shall outlast me!” The next elf had his fate read that he would be slain by betrayal. The elf ranger and human fightress were both foretold to die bloody deaths. Erikonig then stated that when the moment of their fate being sealed has come, if they should somehow avert that destiny, then they will be granted a great gift.

He then evaporates, but before doing so, he thanks them for releasing him from his fate and plucks a hair from his head which becomes substantial as the ghost disappears. It is a heartstone, a sliver of Erikonigs elf spirit.

Moving on they came to the archway and found a room with windows letting in the morning sun. There were laquered weapon racks on the wall. Most were damaged or empty except for four shelves, containing a glistening battle axe, a gently glowing katana, a silvery scimitar and a bright long sword. Below each weapon was a small shelf, with an inscribed poem in elvish script. It read that each of these was a legendary weapon to be weilded by the greatest elven heroes. That to be true, they must lay the heartstone of one who has given them their trust and that shall allow the retrieval of the weapon. It goes on to say that if the wielder is slain or the weapon is lost, it will return to this chamber. Zubizu the fightress lays the hair of Erikonig on the shelf before the katana and so doing claims it as her own.

The next door in this hallway led to another empty cell with a broken sarcophagus. Inside this one a hideous evil elf wraith sprang out to atack the party. He scored on hit on Zubizu, clutching her heart and squeezing it before being hacked apart by the incessant attacks. The wraith wore a circlet with a black diamond on its pale brow. The diamond was a heartstone, and they found another red ruby heart in a concealed compartment in the crypt. There was a secret door, which led to an old library, untouched for ages. They found a spell book and 1500 gold worth of decorative items. The desk was finely wrought and worth 1500 gold, but was too bulky to carry. In the back wall of the room they found a secret door whch led to a door in the outer wall and a narrow stair leading tothe valley floor. It was a secret exit!

They decided to explore one more chamber before leaving. They heard the sound of trickling water down a hallway to the south which led to a room empty but for a trickling pool in the center. As they approached a ten foot snake made of rippling, splashing water attacked them. It was a water weird from the elemental plane of water. No matter how much damaged they did, it reformed in two rounds to attempt to drag them into the pool and drown them. The pool was filled with gold coins, and they even found a rare diamond worth 1,000 gold before leaving while they were still ahead.

Using the secret exit they made their way back to Deadrock to cash in their plunder for around 900 gold apiece. Not too shabby, and they received a much warmer welcome this time around.

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tpk3There were friends, there was pizza, there was cherry vodka with sierra mist free (surprisingly good, perhaps even surpassing strawberry crush – and diet even!) and a good night of gaming. Lets see where did it start…

The party was standing in a hall somewhere, having just slain a procession of orcs. They entered the Flag chamber from the double doors at the end of the long hall. While discovering ancient and expensive flags and banners, they also disturbed a nest of two volts, flying creatures with big mouths at one end and a whip-like electrified tail at the other. Known as ‘electric eels of the air’ the creatures wreaked havoc before being slain. They found a magic banner which radiates a resistance to fear.

Needing to rest, the party camped out in the flag chamber, and spent a tense but quiet night. Moving out the next morning, they chose to return to the chamber with the lightning bolt trap. They miscalculated, believing the trap to be mechanical in nature, and once again the kobolds behind the door unleashed a lightning bolt. This time the entire party was in the room (I presumed) and all but two characters were dropped below zero. The kobolds burst into the room while the elf ranger and cleric tried to save as many fallen comrades as possible. (tpk: total party kill.)

Every tpk is different, and often some of the party survives. The most typical case is when a player is absent, or the character escapes, but in this case, saving for half damage allowed these two members, both of whom had healing spells, to survive. The ensuing battle however, with more lightning bolts, and six kobolds would have been unendurable, so I ruled the party captured. Only one character, the rogue, was permanently killed, and only because at the beginning of the night I vowed that the next character to die must play a monk, and she became interested.

Hours later the characters awoke in a cell room, two per cell. There were bars looking out into the mountain valley hundreds of feet below. Captured again, all their stuff taken, they were back to square one. Estimating the distance to the ground, they at least discovered they finally made it up to the next level. After a lot of work, they managed to escape their cells.

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