Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Session 2: The Ruins of Thrace

Acting upon rumours of treasures recently discovered in the ruins of the Atlantean city of Thrace, the party traveled north, by caravan, through Hellspire Pass and into the the Jungle of Zahar wherein lie the remnants of a once-great city, whose crumbling, vine-covered walls and broken towers extend as far as the eye can see.

Making their way through a make-shift squatter's camp of scholars and adventurers who have come to explore the ruins, the party made the acquaintance of the scholar, Cruro, whose colleague, Thesus, descended into the catacombs beneath a recently uncovered temple a day earlier and has not yet returned.  Cruro suggested that the party might wish to begin their exploration here, and hopefully discover Thesus's whereabouts.  He also offered to purchase any Atlantean artifacts that might be found within.

The party entered the subterranean complex beneath the temple, and began to explore the stinking, guano-covered rooms.  They came upon a nave containing an altar, behind which was a horrific demonic visage in bronze, mounted beneath a brass brazier.  A careful search of the altar uncovered a sacrificial dagger.

After exploring further, the party descended a short flight of stairs to a large web-filled hall and were set upon by an enormous spider that was intent on making meals of the lot.  After slaying the monster, a search of the web-filled room revealed a golden medallion depicting the same demonic face seen above the altar, with two small rubies for eyes.

Proceeding into the next room the party found the withered remains of a priest slumped in a bronze chair, clutching a black, leather-bound book in it's shriveled hands.  As soon as the party approached the priest, the medallion grew warm to touch and the emerald eyes glowed with unearthly light.  A similar eerie glow emanated from the eye-sockets of the corpse as it began to stir, hoarsely proclaiming, "I live...again!"

The party attacked the creature, but found that their weapons made no impact on the unliving horror; only the spells of the sorcerer, Thorston, seemed to have any impact at all.  Naturally, this threat drew the attention of the thing, which promptly trapped the sorcerer in a corner and attempted to grasp him with its taloned hands.  The thief, known only as Grit, threw himself at the creature in an attempt to tackle it and knock it away from Thorston but, instead, upon contact his very life essence was drained away by the creature, and Grit slumped to the ground, dead.

Now utterly drained and unable to call further upon the demons of darkness for arcane aid, Thorston desperately slashed at the creature with the ceremonial dagger he had taken from the altar, and finally killed it.  The book, deciphered by the monk, Thomas, was entitled The Litany of Hate, a treatise on the demon lord, Namtur, and containing rites of worship, sacrifice, and summoning.

The party, now weakened by their battles, elected to return to the surface though they were unable to make any report to Cruro as to the fate of Thesus.  So badly battered were they by their trials that they elected to travel two days south to Hellspire Keep, where they were able to recuperate in comfort in the Flaming Faggot.

After a week of rest and recovery, they returned north to the ruins, and recruited a sorcerer who was looking for partners to explore the ruins.  Returning to the dungeon below the temple, the party continued their investigation.  The rest of the upper level consisted of mouldering, guano-filled rooms.  Finally, they descended a spiral stair-case to the second level, and discovered the exsanguinated corpse of Thesus on the stairs.  Continuing down to the chamber below, which was thick with the overpowering stench of fresh guano, the party soon discovered it's origin; a flock of stirges that were drawn to the lantern light and swarmed about the adventurers, several of whom nearly succumbed to blood loss before they were able to kill all of the stirges.

From there the party passed through a short hallway into a room containing a large silver-inlaid chest, covered in stirge-droppings and permanently affixed to the floor.  Now lacking a thief to open the locked chest, the group resorted to the common man's lock-pick; a crowbar.  The moment the lid was forced open,  iron bars slammed down in the passage trapping everyone except Thorston and the newly recruited sorcerer within.  Unfortunately the new party member was standing directly under the bars and was impaled through the torso, killing him instantly.  As soon as the bars dropped into place, the north and south walls of the room began to close slowly in on one another.  The trapped party members tried to drive iron spikes to halt the walls that were sure to soon crush them, but only succeeded in slowing their advance temporarily.  Just as space was starting to get tight, the warrior, Ebin, searched the ceiling and discovered a concealed trap door.  He was boosted up to open the hatch and climb into a vertical passage above.  Just in the nick of time he tied a rope to the iron rungs and lowered it to the two others still trapped below, who climbed up just as the walls met in the middle.  They were able to climb up to the first level and make their way back down the spiral staircase to rejoin Thorston in the second level entry chamber.

After further exploration and an encounter with a pair of acid-spraying borer beetles, the group decided to call it a night and return to camp.  On the way out however, they came upon a pair of giant rats, and Brother Vigmar, Scion of Thoth, was slain in the ensuing battle, just before they were able to exit the dungeon.

This turned out to be a rather lethal session, with three characters dying during the night, two of which belonged to the same player, and Thorsten the Sorcerer and Thomas the monk are now the sole surviving original party members.  For how much longer remains to be seen.  The dungeons of Lemuria are not for the faint of heart.


Shane Mangus said...

Sounds like another fun session. I hope your players are not getting discouraged over dying characters. I am sure having a few casualties at the beginning of the campaign will make gaining higher levels that much sweeter. Once again, oh how I wish I could play in your game!

Sean Robson said...

Once again, oh how I wish I could play in your game!

You and me, both, Shane.

I don't think anyone was too down about all the fatalities. I remain committed to maintaining lethal dungeons that will challenge the players. Surviving them will require both skill and luck, and doing so can be considered a badge of honour.

Don said...

heh, not discouraged at all, it was good fun. :) I was just rolling awful all night long - couldn't get a hit if my life depended on it...which it did. Sean otoh was rolling big numbers fairly regularly and poor Vigmar fell victim to a particularly unfortunate example of that. Had that final damage roll been anything other than a six Vigmar would be preparing to re-enter the ruins next session.

But we learned valuable lessons - no more standing in doorways while we crack chests and no more tackling wights... :)

Sean Robson said...

You've been having the worst run of bad luck when rolling to hit. I do feel bad that Vigmar was killed in a random encounter on the way out of the dungeon by a rat that was one attack away from being dead. Sometimes the gods, themselves, are against you.