In which an ancient dwarven tomb is breached, and the players have the opportunity to remark "Purple haze all in my brain, lately things just don't seem the same..."
Cast of Characters;
Mordecai, a Cleric-4: Adam
Shy, a Fighter-3: ? (Gary)
Forlorn, an Elf-3: Bo
Mister Moore, Magic User-4: Mike
Grumble the Smug, Halfling-3: L
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-3
Zeke, a Fighter-3
Starkweather, a Thief-4
Barzai, a Cleric-3
In the month or more the group stayed at Stonegate dwarf hold, dwarven patrols began to return with refugees that were drifting up the valley, trying to escape from the ghoul plague. Reports from the refugees indicated the main force of ghouls and zombies had marched north, along the river, into the heavily populated lowlands. (Note: none of the players chose to ask whether the refugees were followed, or whether they were screened for infection with the ghoul curse. Muhaha.)
The characters recruited amongst the refugees for henchmen, and were able to find a new player character (Grumble the Smug, a halfling) and Barzai, a clerical retainer for Mordecai. Gear was purchased and food was stocked, and they headed to the surface to seek out the entrance to the tomb.
They decided not to set up a camp, but to hid their heavier gear (bedrolls and tents) in the box canyon where the tomb entrance was located. They went right to exploring. It was mid-day, and the weather was bright, cold and clear. It's mid-December (Sunsebb in Greyhawk), and the altitude is in the 8,000 foot range.
Using the witch's map, they were able to find the entrance to the tomb. However, the various new people were unable to perceive the entrance at all. The obfuscation went beyond illusion; until a character that knew about the tomb entrance explained to one of the others it was there, and guided him to it, it was as if the tomb didn't exist for the him. Strange effects were at work.
The entrance to the tomb was engraved with symbols bespeaking an ancient dwarven demon, something like 'ancient burrower' or 'old miner' - an early 'god' from the dwarves' bloody, pagan past. Phat Kobra remarked this might be an evil place. The word Shame was emblazoned equally prominently on the door. Meanwhile, a peculiar purple mist seeped from beneath the door. Grumble sniffed it and declared it to be 'Not poison'. They entered.
The corridor beyond was tall and majestic, and the floor was obscured with thick, purple mist that came up to their knees. They went forth very carefully, testing the floor with poles and spear hafts because of the poor visibility.
Over the next few rooms, they made a bizarre discovery. Anything covered by the mist was completely preserved. They were fishing thousand-year old footwear and cloaks up and out of the mist, as if they were just dropped on the floor yesterday. In the main temple room, there were well over a hundred preserved bodies just beneath the surface of the mist, obscured from sight. They would plunge their hands down into the mist, and pull up a dwarf or human corpse, eyes bulging and throat engorged as if they asphyxiated and fell to the ground, choking. Many of the dwarves were killed violently by weapons, and their slick blood was still fresh and slippery. The players were quite disturbed by it all.
It took a long time to explore the dwarven temple. They puzzled over the corpses lining the floor, signs of an ancient struggle. They theorized that heavily armored humans had been attacking robed and shoeless dwarves in this sanctuary. Many of the dwarves had shaved heads, or were beardless. Wasn't this supposed to be a tomb?
The walls had spectacular murals that showed the forging of the banes, the great weapons of war. There were depictions of a time when dwarves and humanoid races were at peace. There were pictures that showed the technological advances of the dwarven race. Kobra was expecting the temple to be a bit darker in tone, for a demon shrine.
There was an altar at the head of the room, with golden mining implements on it (and a massive chunk of meteoric star rock nearby). Bo had to miss this game session, so of course they picked Forlorn, his character, to take the golden hammer and sickle. Just in case they were cursed. (They haven't seem to be cursed so far, Bo).
Then it was off to the right, to start exploring the rooms beyond the temple. After exploring a northern 'shaving room' and then dipping south, there was the sound of a heavy door closing behind them. The party doubled back and ran into a small mob of dwarven zombies. It seemed as if some of the 100+ dwarves lying on the floor of the sanctuary climbed to their feet and shambled after the party. (Uh-oh, not this again, the group groaned).
They joined a battle with the dwarf zombies in the corridor, using their standard 'hall-fighting' tactics of shield-men up front with smaller weapons, and spearmen in the second rank. They managed to beat down the zombies without too much difficulty, but found that spears (puncture weapons) were minimally effective against zombies.
The group fell to musing about the 100+ corpses in the sanctuary. If they opened the door that lead out, would all 100 dwarf corpses be standing in the purple mist, waiting for them?
We stopped there for the night.
Note: We may be losing a player or two due to work/timing issues, so we're definitely recruiting. If you happen to live not far north of Philadelphia, drop a line! Otherwise we may consider promoting a few of the kiddos who are ready for the "serious" game.