Monday, July 23, 2012

Black City Game 5 - The Geekfest

Howell dishes punishment to a pair of frost gremlins

We had everyone available for this weekend's game, including a VIP guest (Felt).  It became a combo game-day / BBQ that ended up with the name "Geekfest" - I have a few pics to put up when I get the chance.

Our adventurers are spoiled for choice, and the first chunk of the game involved weighing the pros and cons of exploring different mini-dungeons they've discovered.  (So far, they’re not too interested in wandering the sprawling topside ruins, despite some job offers).  They had partially explored the Well of Woe, discovered some rooms near the first junction, and just cleared the 'killers in the mist', opening a new dungeon.  The majority wanted to press on into the mists, figuring that it was "new ground", so that was the decision.

Other crew members of the Isgerd's Fury were invited to join; the new characters were Howell the Halfling, and the valkyrie sisters Bottvild and  Borghild (both clerics).  They set off the next morning.  Here was this week's crew:

Mustafa of Arabia, a Fighter
Arthur the Fair, a Thief
Shamus  Bloodstar, a Gaelic wizard
Brutok the Dwarf
Agnar, a Fighter
Molnar, a Cleric
Bottvild, a Cleric
Howell, a Halfling

Bjorn Fjordrunner, Fafnir - fighting men; Borghild, a cleric; Skoldig, a thief

Here's one good reason why you'd want to find alternate entrances to the undercity; the walk from the Well of Woe entrance to the misty dungeon takes about four hours through the subway tunnels!  Unless they start sleeping in the dungeon or camping in the city ruins, exploration time is becoming curtailed.  Plus, there's the ever-present risk of running into hostile explorers.

This time out, they were ambushed by some nasty veterans hiding in the dark, men wearing black cloaks and raven feathers.  They waited in the stretch of tunnel between the chasm and the first junction, watching the party approach with lanterns.  The Ravencloaks had the jump on the party, and the leader almost planted his axe into the surprised Mustafa before calling a halt to the attack.  "I know these men!"

The Ravencloak leader, Hamdir Hildigrimson, had spent some time with the Varangians near Byzantium, and had fought in some conflict with Mustafa in the desert lands.  The encounter quickly turned from a near fight to a chance to break out some mead, share a drink, recount recent exploits, and wish each other good hunting.  (DM's note:  Behind the scenes,  any time there are extreme reaction rolls, good or ill, I have a quick check to randomly determine the kind of "unfinished business" between the characters and the other party.  In this case, they turned out to share a few people who were old war buddies).

When the group made it to the mist tunnels later, Brick was out front scouting, and he heard a light scrabbling sound in the mist.  Something emerged out of the tunnel ahead of him, a reptilian gremlin creature with a small cage in one hand, and dangling a rat by its tail in the other hand.  It smacked him upside the head with the cage during the surprise round (doing minimal damage) and then uttered a ghastly shriek, which was answered by a handful of additional shrieks just ahead.  Here they come!

The group formed a 4-man front in the wide tunnel and met the charging frost gremlins; they're not much tougher than goblins, so it wasn't a long fight.  Here's a nifty pic of Howell the halfling giving a gremlin the business side of his short sword; never underestimate the coolness of having a sketch artist sitting in on your game session (thanks Felt!)

After the fight, they found a few more rat cages (with rats in them) and then they entered the misty dungeon itself.

This was a longer game session, with a lot of exploration that I'm not going to cover in great detail - don't want to put you to sleep!  There were secret doors, water conduits beneath the floor, fuse crystals in wall sockets, and similar elements that stretched the bounds of fantasy.  In one set of rooms, they found a web-choked access tube with a ladder going down.  Dank, hot air wafted up the tunnel - their first discovery of a way to a deeper level.  One large room was so obscured by mist, they needed to walk across it carefully to find its furthest extents.

It was in this large chamber that two party members almost met their deaths.  Thick fog obscured vision, and the characters weren't particularly careful walking across the room - a yawning 20' wide chasm was the source of the fog, as hot air from below met colder air from above, and two characters tripped on the edge.  They both made saving throws the allowed them to either cling to the edge or grab the dangling clamshell doors that hung down into the chasm, and the others were able to pull them up.  No one knew how far down went the lightless abyss, but like the access tunnel they had discovered, the air was hot, damp, and fecund.

The torso of a large metal humanoid was found in the expansive room, and the players theorized it was a piece to an automaton (robot, golem?).  They're considering bringing it back for salvage, but ultimately left it behind for two reasons - it would be difficult to carry, and they're wondering if there are other parts lying around?

Exploring some nearby rooms brought them into contact with another group of deranged berserkers torturing a couple of men hanging upside down by their feet.  The berserkers tried to convince the group that the prisoners were the ones with "dungeon madness" and possessed by demons of madness, but they ended up "sleeping" the berserkers anyway with a spell.  I guess the players have seen that movie and know how it ends (with battle cries and axes and never failing morale and death of PC's).  They freed and healed the bandits, found more of their compatriots hiding nearby, and forced all of them to swear oaths of loyalty, at sword point, to the Isgerd's Fury.  The group decided they need to keep replacing crew back at camp, so they have enough sailors to make it home at the end of the summer.

We ended with a mystery.  They encountered the first "powered door" that still functioned.  The hulking fighters were unsuccessful with crowbars to pry open the hatch - it kept closing automatically with a whir and whoosh.  A dull red light flashed intermittently beside the door on one of the stones.  Red, red, red, what could it mean?  Apparently that was too much for brains fried after 7-8 hours of outdoor gaming and BBQ, and it was time to pack it in and head topside.  They began the long march back to the Well of Woe.

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