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
Barzai, a Cleric-3: Z
Shy, a Fighter-3
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-3
Zeke, a Fighter-3
Starkweather, a Thief-4
Hammers of the God: Spoilers
It feels like a long time since I posted a game report - it's been a long time! This covers the actual last two play sessions (and one of them was before my trip!) so details will be light.
When last we left "Buzz Kill Incorporated", BK Inc., as they called themselves, they had just concluded a bumpy submarine ride, down a huge whirling toilet waterfall, landing in a distant cavern. The thief swam to shore, leading the submarine by a tether, and they debarked to investigate some dwarf statues on the shore.
Behind them, a handful of dripping dwarf zombies emerged from the drink, and there was a quick battle.
Past the beach and the dwarf statues were 3 passages forward - two side passages and a main passage. One side passage was generating a ton of raucous noise, like a pitched battle was happening in there. It was a bizarre floating creature with many eye stalks, but they made fairly short work out of it.
The other passage led to a mold-covered room with pulsating gobs of mold - no thanks, had enough mold for one adventure.
The main passage led to a massive vaulted chamber. The way out was blocked by a 40' tall golden door, with no hinges or handles -stuck in place, as if the gods themselves deemed it to be locked! After puzzling over it, the group lit a fire in the huge clamshell fire pit in the center of the room, and the fire was reflected by the spectacular mother-of-pearl inset into the sides of the fire pit, lighting up the entire chamber - including a spectacular, million gold piece diamond set as the keystone. A few minutes were spent theorizing how they could liberate the million gp diamond, and then notes were made to come back to this place when they were 17th level.
The other thing noticed due to the brighter illumination was the presence of two alcoves about 90' up the two side walls. How to get up there?
I forgot to mention a previous time where the group explored a small side passage and discovered a handful of gaseous form potions; it's important here because Phat Kobra quaffed a potion to become gaseous, which the players theorized would let them float up to one of the platforms.
Here ensued one of those entertaining moments of rules lawyering and interpretation: first off, would gaseous form allow a player to float upwards, and second, do clothes and gear become gaseous too? The interesting thing here, Holmes, BX, and AD&D 1E all treat gaseous form slightly differently. (My ruling here was that gaseous form allowed floating, and gear became gaseous.)
Kobra floated to the top of the right hand platform, and them materialized. At the end of the niche was a switch inside a glass bubble, and another switch just outside the bubble. Kobra could see a similar set of switches across the way, and called for someone else to imbibe a potion and join him.
Unfortunately, the group didn't quite piece together that Kobra had sipped one of the new gaseous potions, and it was lasting rounds instead of turns (because it was old and degraded). They gave a second one to Shy, and he only made it halfway up to the second ledge before he materialized, crashing some 40' to the ground, and set off a frantic flurry of healing attempts before he died (the fall put him at negative hit points, but they had the technology, they could rebuild him).
They had a legitimate gaseous form potion from a previous adventure, ended up giving that to the thief, and then needed to wait an hour for it to wear off before he and Kobra could experiment with their respective switches. It wasn't hard to figure out they needed to throw them in unison, the glass bubbles lifted, and then they could throw the second set - and that opened the golden door.
Beyond the golden door, they encountered… well, let's just say you can't trust everything you read in books. There was a dwarf library early in the adventure, and they jumped around the 100 or so titles randomly reading books, and happened to discover two of them that involved this part of the dungeon. One of them was right on, and they avoided a death trap. The other thing they read must have been wrong, as it led them to make a tragic choice - they boldly opened a door, expecting it to be safe, when in fact it was trapped with poison gas that blasted outwards, engulfing them in a cloud of death.
One by one, we went around the table and witnessed the Save or Die versus Poison rolls. Boom, boom, boom, down the line, everybody made it. I've never seen 7 out of 8 characters (PC's and henchmen) reel off such an improbable string of successful saves. That was going to be it - my chance to start the Black City play testing early! Gah.
In all the jubilation of making save after save, it took everyone a second to realize Mister Moore, their magic user, was rolling on the ground, choking. Mordekai burned his first charges on the Staff of Healing to lay down a neutralize poison. (Staff of Healing is another interesting magic item that's changed quite a bit in editions, forcing you to put a stake in the ground on how it works).
They made it into the final treasure room - the resting place of the Banes! It's been so long, anyone who read the early game reports would have forgotten - the reason the players came to this dungeon in the first place, was because a witch gave them a map and wanted them to retrieve a hammer for her, Elf Bane. In return, they could keep all the other loot. During their explorations, they learned the dwarves had actually forged a bane for each of these races - humans, giants, elves, goblins and dwarves - and they were distributed around like nuclear deterrents to keep everyone honest. But at some point, they were all brought together here, to this place.
Except when the group penetrated the chamber of the Banes, they saw they were all gone except one - the vault holding Elf Bane was still shut. There was a riddle, and the group debated using a knock spell to open the vault, or doing what the riddle wanted, and they did the riddle's answer - they placed a pair of 5,000gp golden hammers discovered earlier, into a box. The golden hammers were whisked away, and the secret compartment hiding the bane popped open, and now they had a hammer of Elf Slaying (or a close equivalent). The DM laughed a little that they gave up 5,000gp for a magic hammer they weren't going to keep anyway. The players just grumbled that it was another "Raggi Module", what do you expect. (They love that guy's stuff). :P
On the way out, a significant amount of zombies were waiting for them on the beach, dripping wet, as if they clambered out of the drink to stop the group from leaving with the Bane… there was a pitched battle, with much expenditure of web spells, but in the end, 20 zombies were more of a speed bump than anything else.
They maneuvered the submarine back into the lake and sealed the hatch near the waterfall (saving a light spell for use in the sub) and Kobra began the arduous task of cranking them up the waterfall by spurts and stops. Good times. Once back in the main part of the dungeon, they had one last place to visit before emerging back into the light. They had previously ignored a fountain pool that had a number of glowing gems just below the water, and figured if this was it, it was time to loot. Starkweather grabbed the first gem, and thrusting out of the gem (and out of the water) was a metallic rod with a peculiar red glowing eye on the end of it, rotating around and observing all the stunned characters near the fountain. Then it quickly pulled itself back into the gem.
"No thanks, we're leaving." They left the rest of the gems alone.
As expected, the Witch of Witch Mountain was waiting for them (bringing out the obligatory "which witch is which?" from the players). Mordekai, the confused cleric who had brokered the deal with the witch, gladly forked over the hammer for killing elves (Forlorn breathed a sigh of relief to see it go away…)
Wrap-up involved logistics - getting the various gilded suits of plate mail they looted from their camp and back to the dwarf hold of Stonegate, and then explaining to the dwarven leaders about the existence of the secret temple to the Old Miner and the library of lost lore. The group ended up giving the suits of gilded plate to the dwarven chief as a gift. The funny thing is, they read a random selection of books in the library, enough to know the library would be important to the dwarves, but not enough to know how scandalous is some of the information they missed. The rediscovery of this ancient library is going to rock the powers of Stonegate. Should be interesting!