Ernie Gygax's Hobby Shop Dungeon Game - Session 8
Present/character name - Ernie/DM, Kurt/Gilbert Percey, Mark CMG/Thrandurian, Norman/Celon Wolfgang, Russell/Matoskah, Heather/Sir Ocelot, Benoist/Brother Odo.
Previously - The party (...) visited the Church of the Eternal Illumination of the Global Faith of the Blazing Light, seeking to purchase some healing potions and the like from them. The clerics actually make the party an offer, to have them escort a group of four clerics up north to Crom Caemloch, the Shaman's village, in order for them to establish a church there, where they could then receive aid, healing and otherwise, for more amenable prices. At first resistant, the group finally accepts and, thinking of the situation with the Society's compound and guild-master Garlache and the children to be potentially extremely dangerous for all involved, leaves town in order gather more riches and influence before tackling the problem in more appropriate ways.
On the way to Crom Caemloch from Villenor, the party is attacked by a group of eleven troglodytes, which are defeated after a fierce combat. It looks like a tree nearby hosts some overgrown mosquitoes, but the party remembers its previous encounters with stirges, and decides to just leave the tree alone, and just travel north, to reach the Shaman's village at last.
Session report - The day after our arrival at Crom Caemloch, its Shaman, the man we have been dealing with when disposing of our loot in the village close to the Marmoreal Tomb, wants a talk with us. He informs us that large numbers of humanoids are moving about the Wilderness lately, some of them apparently organized. The Shaman fears that lending us to many men to carry our equipment and supplies back to the Tomb could jeopardize the settlement's security measures, and we must therefore do without them for the time being.
We manage to find one man, however, strong and willing enough to follow us. We equip him appropriately as a battle axe bearer and javelin thrower, and travel back to the Marmoreal Tomb.
There, we find the actual tomb of the giant that had been desecrated by the dwarves, and which we used as a refuge during our previous expeditions, has been disturbed: Dirt and stone blocks have been moved, there are traces of movement about, and the sarcophagus, once the prime feature of the area, is now gone!
We search the room and find gem fragments, many of them crushed to dust, are littering the floor around us, and especially towards the eastern wall of the tomb. The rangers can ascertain that the activity that took place here occurred some time ago, two weeks in the past or so, which would mean the intrusion happened shortly after we left the premises.
The bones of the giant are gone.
After inspecting the room thoroughly, the party finds a secret door in the eastern wall of the tomb, but one that visibly cannot be opened from the inside, where we stand. Thrandurian and Celon Wolfgang make the connection between this door, which must lead to some portion of the complex hidden under the dwarven settlement, and the stairs reversing near the quarry, which led down to a network of corridors below. We decide to head back there and explore further.
On our way there through the dwarves' ruined market place, we encounter an ochre jelly which proves too tough for our party. We decide to flee and finally make it into the quarry.
We head down into the unexplored level of the tomb. We avoid the illusory floor and pit trap Thrandurian and Matoskah had to deal with in our previous session, marching further north instead with much caution.
We hear chanting beyond, like a chorus of broken voices echoing creepily on the corridors' walls to reach our ears and warn us of an imminent danger. We sneak past a large area where the chant seems to originate, spot some sort of raised dais or platform nearby, but decide to avoid it for the time being.
We soon reach a system of thirty or forty foot wide corridors, an enormous ruin stretching right under the dwarves' settlements. It seems they must have been aware of its presence, though the stone book we discovered previously does mention they decided to avoid whatever was under on Nester's advice, after they experienced the loss of one of their miners trying to get there, apparently. The ruins do not seem to have been disturbed in quite some time, though traces of recent movement can be seen in the thick layer of dust about the place here and there. What happened here? Where is the sarcophagus?
We continue to explore further, discovering a series of tight tunnels spreading under this large complex. These tunnels are filled with alcoves that must have hosted some humanoid remains at some point or other, but many of them seem to have been extracted from their resting places. The clerics open and close the march. We are very wary of whatever it is we will finally encounter in this wretched place.
We finally make it to the site of the secret door we suspect opens into the desecrated tomb of the giant we originally left. Opening it, our theory proves to be true. The party decides to jam the mechanism opening and closing the door with spikes and some well placed blows, in effect leaving it ajar permanently. We also recover some rough, uncut gems and fragments similar to those we found within the tomb proper.
The party definitely has a very bad feeling about all this. We decide to retreat, and make our way back to the stairs leading back up to the dwarves' settlement. We examine the large room with the chanting we sneaked past through earlier. There is a raised dais surrounded by what seems like a circular pit of some sort. On the round dais above it, a body, male or female we do not know, lies there, holding a chalice in its hands. The chanting continues. Bio-luminescent mushrooms grow from protrusions on the walls, bathing the entire area in a greenish light that accentuates our unease at the sight of it all.
Carefully, Matoskah scouts ahead through the room. He soon finds out there are concealed pit traps between us and the dais. The chanting ahead gets weirder, more excited, the singers almost grunting rhythmically to welcome our presence. A skeletal figure gets out of the pit surrounding the altar. Then another. And another. Over and over, until we find ourselves outnumbered.
As we try to figure out a way to get past the pit traps, and at the same time the skeletal figures keep creeping their way out of the area under the dais, two carrion crawlers flank us, erupting from side corridors right next to our party's position. It takes an effort from all the members of the group, Celon Wolfgang repelling what definitely looks like a massive group of undead by the dais with the power of his faith while we fight for our lives in melee against the carrion crawlers, but we survive. We killed the latter, but not without some casualties, with two members of the group now unconscious.
We decide to retreat at this point. We make our way back up into the dwarves' settlement and find refuge in the hookah room. Something tries to force the secret door leading inside during our rest there, but it gives up and let's us regroup and decide what to do next.
Matoskah would like to harvest mushrooms from the large cave in the dwarves' settlement in order to build armour out of their skin. After the party is ambushed by a very large, thirsty stirge that could have been the end of Odo, we get there, cut a number of stems the size of tree trunks, enough for our needs and head back out of the whole complex.
We decide to make our way back to Crom Caemloch, the camp of the Shaman by the Wild. We camp during the night. A creature sneaks it way past our guards, however, and decides to feast upon Odo's flesh for a change (it was all decided randomly! Some luck, this Brother Odo, eh?).
Odo's screams awaken the party. It turns out that a lupine creature almost ripped his throat out, and continues to take bite after bite out of the brother. Blows, missiles, the creature seems impervious to it all. As Matoskah desperately tries to wrestle the beast and get it off Odo's body, the priest Celon Wolfgang uses his faith and conviction to harm the creature which what would otherwise have been healing spells.
Calling to the higher powers multiple times, he finally manages to defeat the beast, the lycanthrope, as it were, as it turns back into a human female form. The party founds a scroll sealed in a tube on the werewolf, as well as some type of magical scale mail. Odo's is in a dire spot, however, for he might become one of the lycanthropes if not treated very soon.
The party hurries back to the Shaman's camp. There, the party disposes of its loot in order to be able to seek proper assistance from the priests it helped get there in the first place (last session), who all belong to The Eternal Illumination of the Global faith of the Blazing Light.
Next session - Will the priests be successful in curing Odo before it is too late? Where is the group headed next? We will find out with our next session of The Hobby Shop Dungeon campaign.