Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wednesday Dwimmermount: Session 1

It all began in a tavern, because I love that cliché, I really do.

To be more specific, it all began in the “Flask and Scroll Tavern” inside the walled city of Muntburg. One Zazik [not his real name, but mages who study at the Tower of the Silver Pentacle always take on properly acroamatic names upon graduation] was discussing a business proposition with a slightly-built thief named Killian Goodpipe [who insisted that everyone call him “the cave snake” for reasons known only to himself]. Besides the two PCs, the bar was populated with a small crowd of late-afternoon drinkers; farmers, lumberjacks, and other lower-class types.

A roll of the dice also indicated the presence of a named NPC, an arcanist named Climent, who was sipping wine and eavesdropping on aforementioned PCs. [The boys decided that their characters knew each other from past business dealings. Killian was in the business of acquiring illicit relics, and Zazik is the type of guy who thinks history is far more important that gold]. As they were speaking fairly loudly in character to one another, I decided that Climent wouldn’t have any trouble discerning that they were planning a trip to Dwimmermount. At the first lull in their conversation, he made his way to their table and introduced himself.

“I beg your pardon, my friends, but I couldn’t help but hear you talk of Dwimmermount. That strange place has been a very common topic of conversation of late. If the rumors are true, what once was locked and sealed has now been opened. Just last week, a group of heroes calling themselves Typhon’s Fists made their way through Dwimmermount’s front doors. They returned richer, but fewer in number for their efforts.”

Climent offered his services to the party, as they were obviously planning their own trip to the mountain fortress. They could not afford the 50gp retainer that he insisted he receive up front, however, so they had to decline his offer. Climent seemed amiable to working with the pair in the future and told them to look for him at the Green Dragon Inn.

While they couldn’t afford Climent, the PCs knew that they needed a larger party if they were going to explore Dwimmermount [with a bit of prodding from me, of course, impartial referee that I am]. Killian jumped up on a stool and addressed the entire bar, offering the promise of gold and fame in exchange for a few days of work. Zazik, meanwhile, did his best to qualify some of the thief's bolder promises, downplaying the danger to their prospective hirelings. Three of the patrons showed some interest and, after some haggling [and Hireling Reaction Rolls], the PCs managed to secure the services of two of them. Thus, the party was joined by Bael, a gambler who desperately needed gold to pay off a mounting debt, and Garhet, a farmer looking to feed his family after two seasons of failed crops. Not exactly the trained warriors they were hoping for, but these two 0-level humans had more HP then either PC. Bael was particularly eager to join the group, especially when Zazik offered extra gold up front. [I rolled a 12 on the hiring reaction chart, giving Bael a +1 morale. The guy really needs to pay off those gambling debts, it seems.]

By the time they equipped their two new henchmen with a set of hide armor [the only set available in the Class V Market of Muntburg at the time], a couple of clubs, and a dagger, Zazik’s purse was feeling pretty empty. He squeezed out a couple more coins for a private room at the Green Dragon Inn and prepared for a journey to Dwimmermount in the morning.

* * *

The old trade route that led to Dwimmermount seemed like the perfect place for bandits or other, more dangerous things to prowl, but the party made it to the foot of the mountain without incident. They debated whether or not they should search for the back entrance that Killian’s former mentor had talked about, but ultimately decided that hiking around the perimeter of a mountain would be too much trouble without knowing specifically what they were searching for. Instead, they began the climb up the long stairway that led to what Climent the Arcanist had called “the Red Doors.” Here and there, the group paused to search some of the crumbling fortifications that guarded the various switchbacks along their ascent, but found nothing more interesting than a few curious runes. Zazik took note of a few specific runes, discovered on an archway carved into the mountain’s face, which he recognized as the symbols of the planets Kythirea, Aereon, and Ioun.

The strange, red metal doors at the top of the stairs opened easily enough. The rumors, it seemed, were true; Dwimmermount was no longer barred. Torches in hand, the party descended into the ancient fortress for the first time. In the beginning, they poked around in mostly empty rooms, progressing slowly as Killian carefully mapped their surroundings. They found a room of statues whose heads had been replaced by new heads and spent some time there rotating the marble heads in hopes of discovering a secret door [but found nothing of note].

Next, they wandered into a room where a group of 7, pig-faced humanoids [orcs, they presumed] were making camp. When the humanoids rose in menacing fashion, Zazik attempted to parley with them. Luckily for the heroes, the biggest of the creatures seemed to speak Common [I gave it a 2-in-6 chance] and was willing to accept some of the cured meats he was carrying as a bribe [Zazik had insisted on buying the highest quality iron rations he could find]. The monsters, now assured that the party feared them, waved their axes in great, menacing gestures as the party made their escape.

After avoiding a potentially deadly fight, the party was eager to find some treasure. They discovered a room filled with old crates of food and other perishables that had long since turned to dust. Poking through the old crates and barrels stirred up a big cloud of dust that sent Zazik into a furious coughing fit. All the noise apparently attracted a creature, a green slime [wandering monster roll], that dropped from the ceiling right onto Gahret’s head as the party exited the storeroom. Thinking quickly, Zazik grabbed Bael’s torch and attempted to burn the slime away before it could eat the henchmen [and the hide armor that he had paid for]. The tactic worked, but poor Gahret was burned in the process and passed out from the pain [he was dropped to exactly 0 hit points]. Although Gahret recovered, he had fallen hard onto the stone floor and smashed his knee [a roll on the Mortal Wounds chart in ACKS]. The henchmen decided then and there that he was done with dungeon exploring [hireling moral roll, failed], but he was in no shape to make the journey home alone, so he reluctantly committed to staying with the party until they left Dwimmermount, limping along using Killian’s 10-foot-pole as an improvised walking stick.

Finally, the PCs discovered a room that seemed to hold some kind of potential treasure. There were a number of metal masks, shaped like fearsome demon-faces, mounted on the wall of a large chamber. One of the masks was lying on the floor next to the skeletal remains of a long-dead explorer. For good measure, Zazik smashed the skeleton’s skull with his quarterstaff while Kilian examined the mask next to the remains. Deciding that the items were harmless, Killian volunteered to take one of the additional masks off the wall. [Zazik’s player, to his credit, almost spotted the trap here. He asked a few questions about the condition of the remains, trying to determine how the man had died. Just as Killian was pulling a mask off a wall, I could see the wheels turning as he put two and two together, but he was too slow to act]. Killian pulled the mask from the wall and was blasted full in the face by a cloud of green gas. Gasping, Killian grabbed at his throat and fell to the ground, dead [he received a Saving Throw, but rolled a 2].

With the death of the thief, the party decided that it was time to retreat. They gathered up Killian’s body and headed back to town, hoping to rebuild their number and return to Dwimmermount as soon as possible.

Next: Thoughts on Running the Game

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