Old School Hack--the Fictive Way

The Darkology Experiment

Lopelia--Alchemal Fortress Ruin

9.30.11 In game, Tuesday, Foover month, 78921.

Adventurers:
Skritt, goblin
Timothy the Tulip, gladiator
Erasmus, questing knight

Skritt and Tulip were on their way north towards adventure with a dragon’s horde, and they were sharing a campfire with Erasmus, questing knight, while on the road. A bony scholar came to their campfire, and told them of potential treasure beneath the ruin atop the brooding hill. He said he’d give them 100 gold just for going down into it, and he’d buy from them any plant samples or books they found. (He was sure to point out he didn’t have the money WITH him! But it was buried nearby, and while they were adventuring he’d dig it up.)

Always up for adventure, the intrepid trio agreed. The next morning they hiked up the hill and began poking around the charred centuries-old ruin. They found two entrances near each other, and chose the one that seemed more “dramatic.”

With the dark-seeing Skritt in the lead, followed by the armored shielded Erasmus, and Tulip hefting a torch in the rear, they headed in. On their way down a long corridor, they heard an unearthly squeal; Skritt recognized the call of a guard rat, and cycled to the rear.

Erasmus readied his sword as they followed the retreating eyes of the attack rat, hearing a strange metallic dragging sound. Then they saw where the rat’s chain was fixed to the floor, and realized they were all in range! It rushed at them, savagely biting Erasmus before he cleanly struck its head from its shoulders. The massive rat was almost waist high to the bold warrior.

They continued down the corridor, finding where it split. Skritt was startled by the statue of a scholar, but statues are harmless, so he was relieved. They encountered a locked door; untrained, Skritt spent some time with his lock picks and managed to jimmy the door lock. So he jumped to the back, and the warriors led the way—

—discovering a mass of over a dozen goblins and four enormous rat guards! In the background, a vast pillar rose, with stairs around it and a statue of a scholar at the top. Under the dispassionate gaze and the faint luminescence of the room, they joined in mighty battle.

Erasmus wavered beneath the tide of foes, and even Skritt leaped in, a deeps goblin fighting the more weedy surface types that serve his kind as food and slaves. Tulip’s vast hammer whirled and crushed, and Erasmus’s deft chopping with his bastard sword took its toll. A leaping attack rat bit at the goblin weak point, the bridge of the nose, but Skritt ducked and lost a strip of scalp instead; Tulip followed up by batting the rat into the wall, taking a goblin with it.

Demoralized by their ferocious foes, the goblins turned to flee, but their attackers maneuvered between them and the exit, looming over them. Then Tulip got tagged in the cup, and as he staggered back, most of them fled and the rest were mowed down as they ran.

The characters rested and bound their wounds, then climbed the long winding stair to examine the statue at the top. It turned out to be a statue of Hegretch Lopelia, ruler of the Alchemal Fortress. A band at the top of the tall room emulated sunrise and sunset with alchemal chemicals, and his stone image was smug in that dim light of universal success.

From their high point, they noted goblins cautiously checking out the room, looking to see where the invaders went. Tulip bellowed to them in ogrish that they had better fall down and worship the newcomers, or get mashed. The characters headed down the stairs, then checked out all the doorways out of the room, following their ears and the vaguest luminescence. Rather than following the goblins directly, they took a passage they hoped would let them flank the area’s defenders.

They came out in a fungus “garden” that was the breadbasket of the goblins. There, they were confronted by a number of guard rats, and a few “farmers.” Demanding to speak to the leader, they waited until the leader showed up, eyeing the massive rats in an uneasy cease-fire.

To the pathetic bleat of a trumpet, King Gurglehug strode in, his crown a boot with fungus growing out of it, and a shield strapped to his back. His shaman advisor had a hat of slith teeth, and a staff with slith skulls nailed all over its top. Big rats accompanied them.

They had perfunctory diplomacy, the invaders asking questions about the area and the goblins stubbornly insisting on their sovereignty. Eventually, the king agreed to send a guide with them, after telling them that to the north was a big library, and to the east of that, fantastical magical gardens. And, the king chuckled evilly while telling them this.

The characters agreed to give the goblins one of the books they found, in exchange for a guide, and they decided on the “long way” that was maybe less dangerous, instead of the direct and more dangerous route.

They followed a corridor with signs of intense slith fighting, and cut thornbushes and fire. Then their guide, Snig, warned them to be utterly silent and to douse the lights. The thorns glowed ever so faintly, and they navigated by that light, with goblins holding the hands of those unable to see well in the dark.

Astonishingly, the characters moved very quietly, coming undetected to the edge of a 4 meter cliff down broken stone intertwined with the luminous poison thorns. They were breathless, looking out on a vast chamber heaving and tossing with mounds of thornbushes, intertwined and magnificent. Within, untold numbers of slith went about their business, the cat-sized leathery “land piranhas” not yet aware of the characters’ presence. Also, on the walls, basketball-sized beetles clung to the roughened stone, seemingly unaware of the characters.

As they carefully climbed down, heading for a staircase, Tulip fumbled, and—leaped from the cliff, pushing with his toes. He managed to land on his feet with only a rattle. The others were relieved that he did not slip, tear himself on the thorns, and clatter all the way down the cliff.

Still, the slith were alerted to their presence. The characters raced along the corridor and up the stairs, hearing a growing tide of vermin sprinting after them. Hoping against hope, they were relieved as the grueling chase resolved in a pair of doors. Snig freaked out, not knowing which was best, so they snatched the one on the left, leaped in, and slammed (and barred) it behind them.

They caught their breath as slith leaped and snapped outside, finding themselves in a dusty, empty chamber. After a bit of rest, they cautiously continued their exploration, going through some empty chambers (always listening at the door first) and finding a long corridor.

Not trusting long corridors, they took the first intersection they found, and it turned into unfinished stone. As they followed it, they detected a secret door! Opening it, they found a privy for scholars. They were disappointed, but Snig asked if he could wait here for them to return with a book; they were beyond his knowledge, and he was terrified of being eaten. They agreed, and Skritt left him with a rat, to tide him over.

They cautiously proceeded, through a chamber to find a room where a gimlitch beetle almost spat at them, interrupted by Skritt’s well placed knife flung across the room and killing the beetle. They saw signs of a vicious beetle on slith throw-down in this room, and they cautiously peered into the next, then withdrew, shaken.

They found the rotating library! And centuries of beetles had used it as a breeding ground, turning the books into a paper mache volcano in the middle of the room; there was disquieting evidence they put dead slith up in the cone, but the characters didn’t feel it best to investigate.

Three doors to the south were open, the rest closed. They headed for a closed door, muscling it open. They found a dusty room, which relieved them. Heading north, (after closing the door behind them) they found a long corridor that led to a lounge and guest quarters for visiting scholars; no loot, though. And there was an ugly gray stone statue hunched in the corner of the lounge that unsettled them.

In the lounge, they were MOST pleased to find a cask that was centuries old; it had turned to port, and they congratulated each other on their success getting this far with a round of drinks, taking the cask with them as they left.

Retracing their steps then exploring to the south and west, they found a suspiciously lengthy corridor that just went on and on. At the end, they found a pair of statues blocking an intersection, to the north and south. Skritt examined one closely, and it attacked!

In a moment, the characters were fighting for their lives in the narrow corridor. Skritt retreated from the battle scene, only to find another gargoyle closing from the rear! Beleaguered and tattered, the characters pulled out every trick they knew just to stay alive. Tulip’s mighty hammer knocked off horns and limbs, shattering one, and Erasmus flailed and hacked with his heavy sword, but their foes were implacable as stone.

With one destroyed and one badly damaged, the group faced an intact gargoyle cutting off their retreat. They managed to slip around it and flee, and if it pursued, it didn’t chase them fast enough. They slammed the door behind themselves, freely bleeding and badly bruised.

Taking time to have some more port, and bandaging their wounds, resting, having something to eat and drink… they struggled to regain their nerve in the face of the horrible stone monsters that waited to slay them. Lucky for Erasmus, there as a decorative shield on the wall to replace the one torn from his arm by a vicious rat. It seemed as good a time as any to explore in other directions.

They snuck back through the central library; the scent of torch hung on Tulip, and he allayed beetle suspicion by squirting some oil on himself, left over from when his weapon caddy attended his every need. They slipped through another closed door, finding a series of corridors and rooms that used to be servant quarters and a kitchen.

Slipping past the beetles again, they found a corridor to an open “reading room” area with many cells. Unfortunately, the room was also full of yellow fungus that smelled of sunlight and heat and—strangeness. Tulip, being the toughest, agreed to scout out the room, hopefully returning before he passed out.

He checked all the cells, finding four massive tomes of lore. Gasping for air and coated in yellow spores, he managed to rejoin the others. They got some distance from him as he brushed the spores from himself, and he got a sample of the orange fungus to sell to the scholar who sent them in.

Hefting the books, the characters returned to the circular library again, this time choosing another door. They found a corridor with some resting seats/privies, and a meeting room overgrown with peaceful, luminescent fungus.

Returning to the library again, they explored the last closed door, finding a head librarian’s office, where young beetles forced their way in over the centuries and died of starvation after eating all the scholar’s books…

They decided not to explore the remaining doorway leading out of the library, as it was sure to lead to a clash with slith.

Their nerve restored by frequent and daring forays through the library and extensive non-lethal exploration, they faced a choice. They could return to goblin territory, or look for a way out in the gargoyle territory.

Bold, they headed back into gargoyle territory. They smashed the remaining guardian of the hallway, then detoured through what appeared to be a ritual preparation room for wizards. Finding some oddly-shaped rooms, they knew they were in wizardly territory, so they tread cautiously.

They opened a door into a crooked room, noting a sleeping gargoyle and a well-tended planter of mushrooms that looked like stained glass, light streaming through them from another place. They closed the door, then Erasmus and Tulip viciously assaulted the statue while Skritt stuffed mushrooms in a sack.

The battle was not going well—Erasmus owed his survival to his new (and trashed) shield, and they just barely managed to put the gargoyle down. Panting, they bound their wounds yet again, then cautiously continued their explorations. In the room next door, a stroke of luck! Erasmus found a shield on the wall with the coat of arms of a wizard order extinct for centuries. He hefted it, and on they went.

Following a strange and narrow corridor thorugh its angles, they came to another room, and inside, a planter with yellow mystic flowers and a gargoyle guard! Having honed their technique, Tulip and Erasmus crushed the guard before Skritt had even finished harvesting the flowers.

They followed a stone tunnel that led down to knee-deep murk, and Skritt rode Tulip as they waded through, rising up to a strange huge chamber with a pit and a statue of Dufell, the goddess of deep places (as explained by Erasmus, who also knew that gargoyles are not indigenous to this dimension, that they live until killed, and some can grow wings at will.)

The chamber was strewn with vines that were responsive to stimulus; the characters decided not to go into that highly risky area, they retraced their steps instead. Exploring down another corridor, they found a room of resting gargoyles—and quietly, slowly, backed out and closed the door…

Heading northward again, they found a secret door they had missed before. Passing through it, they found the summoning chamber, with a genuflecting gargoyle sleeping there. They stealthily withdrew, seeing no profit in killing a guard so they could inspect a mystic summoning circle.

Grimly determined to find an alternate way out, they followed a twisting corridor of natural rock, their last hope for an escape without going back through slith territory. Down, then up, and they found an artificial stone wall.

Skritt and Erasmus retreated to give Tulip some alone time with his hammer and the wall, and he knocked it down, breathing sort-of-fresh air, and finding the back of an animal den! They clambered through, and out to late afternoon sunlight.

Joyful at their escape, they met with the scholar, who had paid peasants to dig up his chests and drag them to the meeting place. They negotiated hard for the value of their knowledge of the layout and its defenses, and they sold the books and mushroom and plant samples. In the end, they had over 3,500 gold! The old scholar had to give them a voucher, not having expected such wild success.

Pleased with themselves and the outcome of their exciting adventure, the companions decided to rest, then continue on towards the next challenge.

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