Whilst resting up, the party heard the approach of two goblins who were clearly members of the gang who had been living in the Moat House. Alurax, Adthar and Cafaror burst out and finished the stunned goblins off, barely breaking a sweat. I’d rolled them up on the wandering monster table and since the rest of the goblins had been killed off, thought I’d bring these guys in as an easy sword-arm exercise for the Team.
Once their rest had ended, the party decided to move down the southern passageway off the Great Hall, checking out the rooms that they found. In the first one, they found nothing but smashed furniture and a wall cabinet. Alurax investigated and managed to recover a broadsword of particularly fine workmanship.
The next room was a bedchamber but it held nothing of interest. The party passed this by with little or no investigation. The final door opened onto a dark room in which the sound of chittering and fluttering could be heard. Elador cast his Light spell into the room which disturbed the bats roosting in the rafters but did not cause any trouble for the party as nobody went in there.
The large room at the of the passage had a pile of rubble in the south-east corner of the room and this brought back memories of the goblin room with its buried treasure. Alurax, Adthar and Cafaror headed over to the rubble to start excavating but received a nasty shock as a huge snake rose up and attacked them.
Adthar was bitten and succumbed to the poison before the rest of the party weighed in and attacked the snake. It was sluggish to begin with (well, that’s reptiles for you) and its reaction rolls were lousy, outclassed by those of the party. Eventually, it succumbed to their combined efforts. Whilst most of the party started to search for valuables, and were rewarded by the discovery of a fine jewelled dagger (with a staggering price tag), Cafaror decided to skin the snake and take the hide back to town to sell or make into snakeskin garments. This was such a cool idea, personalising his character that I decided to allow it and award him some XP for it as well. It’s difficult to make a fighter stand out and this was just what I was looking for from my players.
After this room, the party moved back to the main hall and decided to try the western passageway. There were three doors opening onto the passageway. In the first room were the battered and dilapidated remains of animal trophies, skins, stuffed heads, horns and antlers. The next room was empty but Alurax noticed an object in the wall cresset and was brave enough to remove it himself – the result was that he netted the party a silver baton – more GP for the account.
Behind the last door before the large room at the end of the passageway, the party found the remains of the castle kitchen, with tables, rotting food, old rusty knives and cleavers and a large barrel in the far corner. Alurax and Adthar, healed by the ministrations of the clerics, went in and Alurax made for the barrel. They were both surprised as a giant tick sprang out from behind the barrel and attacked Adthar. It missed him and as it leapt and came in for another attack, Adthar swung down with his sword and sliced it neatly in two – a cracking 20 on the to hit roll.
In the last room, formerly the castle barracks or so it appeared, a surprise lay in wait for the party. A huge lizard had made its lair in one corner of the room and came at the party as they entered. Adthar took a swing at it and gave it a small wound but Alurax managed to get a shot with his bow in and sent an arrow deep into the monster’s heart – the d30 strikes again. It’s nice to see this rule coming into its own and the players not having to be reminded of it in the heat of the action. The lizard fell dead, only to be systematically flayed by Cafaror who was clearly keen on adding to his collection of reptile skins.
The chest that the lizard was guarding contained some armour and weapons, but not much in the way of money. However, whilst Cafaror was skinning the beast, he noticed that there seemed to be something hard in its stomach and cut it open to reveal a shield that had a strange magical glow to it. I ruled that as he was not a professional skinner, he’d probably take quite a lot of meat off with the skin and would notice something lumpy like a shield stuck in the lizard’s gullet.
The party thought that they had more or less cleared the Moat House, at least above ground. They decided to carry out a thorough search and eventually came across two possible routes downward. One was in the corner of the great hall where Adthar had fried the giant rats with his oil bombs earlier that day. The other was a secret door in the wall of the room where the goblins had been lurking. After a discussion, it was decided to try the staircase behind the secret door and the party went down it one at a time as it was so narrow. This was a wise decision, as anyone who knows the Moat House will realise. The party did not discover their good fortune till a while later.
At the bottom was a tiny room and a door leading off it. Merlin the thief was deputed to venture beyond it and see what was there, trying to blend into the shadows and remain unseen. Unfortunately, another very bad roll on Hide In Shadows meant that the occupant of the room, a fierce ogre spotted him very quickly and leapt into the attack. Adthar and Ferros burst in to assist him but the ogre’s bardiche (how often do we get to see that weapon in action?) swung through the air and smashed into Merlin, flooring him. He scrambled to his feet as the rest of the party pitched in and pretty soon the ogre was surrounded and hacked to pieces, Alurax in particular virtually carving a massive gash in the monster’s chest – a critical that scored double damage.
The ogre had been guarding a large wooden box which was not locked and yielded a pitifully small amount of treasure, a few copper and silver pieces and some glass beads. Alurax, however, had better luck – while everyone else was examining the box, he was searching the pile of skins and rags in the ogre’s bed and found a mysterious cloak that shimmered and seemed very lightweight. As he tried it on and moved about, he seemed to vanish into the gloom. This was clearly a find of some significance, but I wasn’t about to let everyone know what he’d found or even its XP value, which was considerable. That would be a nice surprise when they got back to town.
Two doors opened off the ogre’s room. The first one the party tried yielded an interesting result – three prisoners in a bad state of health. Ferros healed them all and it was discovered that two were human merchants, who offered a reward for their freedom. The other was a gnome, the first that the party had encountered, who was cagey about his reasons for being in the dungeon – he said that he had been captured by gnolls and imprisoned. He feared that he was next on the ogre’s dinner menu but was grateful for rescue and gave the party an iron ring which, he said, would earn them the friendship of the gnome clans in the region.
This of course meant that I needed to place gnome clans somewhere on the map that, at this point, only existed in my head. However, I was looking into the West Marches campaign as the basis for my campaign’s immediate locale and that would offer ample opportunity for gnome placement.
Having liberated the captives, the party moved through the second door and found it led to a storeroom from which another door led into a much larger room with thick pillars holding up the roof, several doorways coming off and a staircase that clearly came down from the Moat House above. Over the archway leading to the stairs was a mysterious and sinister clump of slime that dripped evilly onto the floor. It was a sickly green colour and nobody felt like touching it. I pointed out that this would have dropped on them if they had come down the stairs from the rat room. As nobody had ever encountered green slime before, I’m not sure that they appreciated how lucky they were.
Alurax had moved into the room to investigate, using his new cloak but whilst he was doing that, the rest of the party came barging in and encountered two zombies who had been hiding behind one of the pillars. Battle was joined and Ferros leapt in with his holy symbol, turning the shambling husks of rotting flesh. As they retreated into a corner, Adthar hurled an oil bomb at them and set them on fire. By now, another door had opened and two more zombies emerged. Ferros turned them as well and they scuttled back into their cell. Alurax tried to hurl his oil bomb at them but missed – nevertheless, he managed to trap them in their cell while he proceeded to fire arrows at them.
The same process was repeated twice more, zombies emerging from doors and Ferros turning them. In total, he turned eight. Bows made short work of two, another hurled oil bomb set two more on fire and even Alurax nearly setting his new cloak on fire with a botched oil bomb throw did not dampen the victory against the zombie menace.
I was particularly impressed with Ferros’ player’s rolling of the turnings, which gave me an idea about developing his character. Stay tuned for further developments.
Ferros and Adthar investigated the room beyond a dark archway through which a suspicious blood trail led. Alurax and Cafaror searched the zombie cells and managed to find a scintillating peridot – another prize that reminded me of just how much wealth can be transported with a handful of gems. When we think of loot, we usually have an image of piles of coin, but gems are often a more interesting option as far as treasure, since their worth is not immediately discernible and keeps the party in suspense until they can get them valued.
Merlin was trying to pick the lock on a very solid door at the far end of the room but when he ran out of luck, the rest of the party joined him to break down the door and its neighbour and found piles of weapons, armour, arrows and bolts. They also found meat and brandy and a caseload of cloaks, embroidered with a yellow eye. Suffice it to say that they would not have to worry about running out of arrows again for quite some time.
Ferros and Adthar’s search led to a pillar that was revealed to have a secret door built into it. Behind the door was a deep shaft descending into the darkness; the rungs were neither dusty, cobwebbed nor rusty. It was clear that somebody had been using the shaft and recently too.
Books Have Power... -
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