Cast of Characters:
Mordecai, a Cleric-4: Adam
Forlorn, an Elf-3: Bo
Mister Moore, Magic User-4: Mike
Grumble the Smug, Halfling-3: Nogal
Shy, a Fighter-3
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-3
Zeke, a Fighter-3
Starkweather, a Thief-4
Barzai, a Cleric-3
Hammers of the God: Spoilers
Back at the table again! We did a recap of last week - the group is exploring a dwarven tomb and had ended the night fighting some dwarf zombies. The entry areas of the tomb were permeated by a purple mist that preserved anything that was lying in the mist - bodies were still fresh after falling in a battle a thousand years ago. And the tomb had worship areas with various murals depicting dwarven progress and peace. The players began to question whether the tomb was actually dedicated to an evil god or not…
Forlorn was certain the purple mist had something to do with the 5 dwarves that had arisen as zombies, and he convinced the group to return to the tomb entrance and spike open the door to the outside. It would let cold, fresh mountain air pour into the tomb and disperse the purple mist.
On their way back from the entrance, the group was waylaid by a pair of dwarf zombies that reached up out of the mist as they traversed the massive mural room - both Grumble and Mordecai were cracked for some damage, and then the group shifted into beat down mode on the zombies.
Something funny happened - Starkweather had this ring of invisibility from a previous adventure, and he thought it would be good to use invisibility to get behind a zombie and do a backstab. But the zombie saw him while invisible! Both of the zombies were enraged that he used the ring to enter the shadow world.
He quickly pulled off the ring, and the zombies were destroyed before they could inflict too much punishment. ZOMG, does Starkweather have the One Ring?
Perplexed that zombies seemed to spontaneously awaken in the mural room, they chose to heavily spike the door behind them when they left the mural room. Immediately they questioned whether dispersing the mist was a good idea. What if the mist was actually keeping the zombies asleep? Everyone started musing whether this was Death Frost Doom all over again. (James Raggi is turning my players into meta gamers).
Down the hallway to the south, they found a library. A dwarf library. As in, each book was 40lbs and made out of stone. There was even a "card catalog" of sorts - or at least, an index. They decided to spend time puzzling over the index, to determine the proper chronological sequence of the books. They asked me to read off the title of every book, and they took notes on the interesting ones. Very meticulous. There were like a hundred books. Mister Moore dryly remarked, "Obviously the books are here for us for a reason…" (Did I mention the players are becoming meta gamers?)
Anyway, they literally spent days in the library - just not all at once. On this pass, they read a book or two from the early days, and a book or two from the end, to learn that the library started with an "In the beginning…" narrative about the ancient burrower (old miner?) - possibly the first god of the dwarves. Later books had to do with a secret, heretical cult of the old miner. They did learn about some possible traps elsewhere in the complex, and this hooked them on the value of the library. They even picked some random titles distributed amongst the hundred to see if they'd hit on something super useful. They had 3 or 4 party members that could read dwarvish, so they used a divide and conquer approach.
Meanwhile, daylight was burning because each book was taking hours to read. They had started the delve mid-day, many hours had passed since then, and they knew they'd be approaching exhaustion. They left the library and decided to explore another door off the hallway to see if there was someplace defensible to camp.
But first they sent the halfling up the hallway to listen to the main door back into the mural room - the heavily spiked door. He listened, thought he heard some noise, tapped on the door lightly. His knocking was answered by hungry moans and the sound of many dwarf hands smacking in frustration on the other side. The mural room was full of zombies!
Groans from all the adults around the table. "Here we go again". Then they noticed Nogal, Grumble's player, out of his seat, fists pumping in the air, and gyrating his hips in a crazy happy dance. "What are you so happy about?"
"I'm living the dream", he said. "Only 9 years old and I'm in my first zombie apocalypse." Where he came up with the phrase 'living the dream', I don't know - but kids are awesome.
The DM got to do some chuckling next. The group had made a big production last session of dumping their heavy gear, tents, and bedrolls out in the canyon, hiding them out of sight behind some boulders, to free up encumbrance for treasure. Looks like they'll be spending some uncomfortable time sleeping on the cold stone floor. Muhaha. Plus, now there was a limit to their time in the dungeon - just how much food and light were they carrying?
They scouted the next couple of rooms, discovering strange walls carved with layered runes. No time to puzzle over them, so they plunged forward. In one room, they were attacked by an amorphous monster that changed its attack each round - it was black and indistinct, and generated blade-like appendages, quills, and acid spittle. As its form shifted, so did its defense. Since they expected to rest soon, the the magic user and elf dumped all their magic missiles into it, and it was destroyed fairly quickly.
The small complex of rooms had a door leading out, and they wanted two doors between them and the zombies, so they camped near a small fountain. No healing in the dungeon, but since Mordecai has a staff of healing, they were able to recover hit points. Backpacks were used as pillows, cloaks as blankets, and guards were set.
The next morning, they noted the zombies hadn't broken through the main door - maybe they where all waiting for them in the mural room? So the group split up. The 3 readers took the lantern and a guard back to the library and continued pouring over books. The big dumb fighters went into the last rune-room and started to work on opening the pedestal by torchlight.
Let me explain about the pedestal. At the end of the previous day's scouting, the last room had a three foot tall column with a large hole in the top of it. The hole led to a deep shaft. They sent a rope down the shaft, with the lantern on the end of the rope, to see how deep it went. It ended in a cave.
"You've got to be kidding me", complained Mister Moore. "Sure, we can squeeze through the hole - if we dump our armor and backpacks. I hate this frackin' place already". Then they noticed the column was built onto the floor and bolted, and a plan was hatched. They had plenty of heavy hammers and a maul, and figured that if they took enough time, they'd be able to knock the pedestal off its mooring and have a decent sized entrance to get down to the cave. Since this part of the dungeon was a closed-loop, they weren't too worried about wandering monsters from the noise, as long as the zombies didn't come through the mural door.
Hours later, the pedestal was smashed, the readers took a break, and a call went out for the halfling. "Yeah, send in the halfling", croaked Mordecai. They tied Grumble to the end of the rope, stuck a lantern in his hand, and lowered him down the shaft. "You'll be fine, buddy. It's your job to scout." The cleric made some holy signs - last rites? - the dwarf took off his hat to pay his respects, and they lowered the halfling. When he got to the bottom, he had just enough time to see a large, slug-like bulk ahead in the cave, and then it's mouth gaped open and a stream of liquid fire spurted all over him. "Get me out of here", he yelled up the shaft. "I'm burning!". Luckily, the rope didn't catch fire, and they were able to haul the burning halfling back up. He was able to tamp out most of the flames by the second round, and still had a few hit points left. "That sucked".
That was a good place to stop, and it will give them some time to think about how to tackle the shaft and the slug monster. Nogal has his own take on the session over at the kiddo's blog: Zombies all over again.