Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Forbidden City: An Adventure Log - Part II

Hale the Elf and his three companions returned to the jungle, determined now to reach The Century Tree and the floor of the crater to begin their hunt for treasure in earnest.

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GM"You come back to the place where you slew the ape.  Flies are swarming around it now."

"Hey, I'm going to get some meat from it."

"Yeah, can I get some meat too?"

"If we eat meat does it heal us?  Can you like, get life back?"

GM: "Yes, you can take some meat from the ape, but it leaves you sticky and smelling of blood.  Are you sure that's what you want to do?  And no, eating doesn't magically heal you from injuries.  This is more like real life."

"Yeah, I take two pieces."

"Me too."

"If I drop my torch, can I take more meat?"

The Butcher's Shop 
Bartolomeo Passarotti

GM: "The trail leads onward toward The Century Tree.  Following it, you notice that many of the trees in this area have been stripped of all of their leaves. Ahead you see some regular-shaped mounds of reddish earth.  Each about seven or eight feet tall."

Soon giant ants, the size of mastiffs, were spied up ahead.  After a short huddle it was decided that the group would proceed between the ant mounds, despite the danger.  Whenever a roving ant drew too near, one of the explorers would drop a hunk of meat in its path, causing the creature to pause.  This worked quite well until the supply of ape meat began to run low, the ants closed from several directions, and the dwarf lost his nerve.

"I'm going to swing my axe at it."

"No!  I think maybe we've made friends with them."

GM: "When your axe strikes the ant's shell it just glances off, but the creature gives off this sharp smell -- as soon as the other ants catch a whiff of it they burst into action, suddenly moving twice as fast as they did before!"

One of the huge insects abruptly clamped its jaws shut upon the dwarf's legs, lifted him bodily, and began to trundle away with him.

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"Yeah, we should go with them."

"No, we should run."

"I run."

"Hey, this could help us get underground.  I'm going to let it take me."

While Hale and the knight ran for it, the wizard was also grappled and dragged to the lip of ant hole.

"I'm going to let it pull me down, and then I'll put my staff across the hole and hold on really tight and ..."

Arriving at last at the tree, Hale and the knight went to work securing a grappling hook among the vines entwining the massive trunk and began to descend.  Before long, however, they had attracted the attention of the tasloi tribe that lived on a series of camouflaged bamboo platforms scattered around the circumference of the tree.



"Ewoks!"

"Are they ewoks?"

"Dude, if there are ewoks I'm going to keep one."

Luck was with Hale and his companion and, when I rolled for a reaction from the arboreal tasloi (which students would inevitably dub "gremlins"), the result was that, at least for today, the normally cruel and xenophobic creatures were content to watch from cover and merely cut through the climbers' rope when the opportunity presented itself.  Some lucky saving throws and the presence of many sturdy vines ensured that the adventurers survived, and Hale was the very first explorer to set foot inside the crater this summer.

The Avenue of the Gods, lined with massive statues and crumbling plinths, lay not far to the west so the partners set out for it at once.  Diligent searching allowed Hale to spot something reflective, an emerald eye, set in the face of a thirty-foot statue.  While Hale stood watch, the knight removed his armor ("So I won't be so heavy and can move around better") and, in classic dungeoneering style, set about climbing the massive, stone idol.



I knew the value of the eye would be considerable and, if recovered, this would be the first major treasure brought out of Bawal Bayan in some time, so I insisted on no less that three saving throws as we measured the knight's progress up the statue and his efforts to hold himself with one hand while prying their prize free -- he cooly nailed every check in succession and Hale caught the tumbling gem with a roll of 19 when it popped free.

With considerable swagger, the pair geared back up and continued to explore the area, spotting a nest of leaves in the broad mouth of another huge, bat-faced statue.

"Let's set it on fire."

"Yeah, okay."

A flaming arrow was prepared, but went out when it struck the stone.  Another was prepared, but missed.  Then another.

"You are the worst shot of any elf ever."

As the knight and elf became increasingly obsessed and vocal about their efforts to burn the nest, I noted that they hadn't paused to search, listen, or set a lookout.  Deep in the territory of the white ape troop that dwelled in the crater-proper (and trying to torch one of their nests), I made a check for an encounter.  Two apes.  I rolled again for encounter distance ... very close.

by D.A. Trampier from the AD&D Monster Manual

DM"The ground trembles slightly and you hear the rattle of pebbles and broken shards of pottery from behind you!"

"We look behind us."

DM: "A pair of huge, pale apes with matted and dusty hair bear down on you [rolling dice to determine their targets -- both go for the knight]The bigger one, the male, pounds at the knight with its fists [rolling dice] ... and he raises his shield to block, but feels something crack in his shoulder and his left arm goes numb."

[rolling dice] "I shoot!"

[rolling dice] "I swing at it!"

Another round or two of brutal combat and the knight was down.  Hale ran for it, pelting back for The Century Tree as fast as he could go, one ape still in pursuit.

"Aren't you going to use your healing spell on me?"

"I already cast my spell!"

"Are you going to come back for me?"

"You're dead -- I'm getting out of there."

"They are going to catch you -- apes can climb!"

"I just keep going."

The white apes were content to drive the surviving intruder away and, shaken but considerably richer, Hale arrived back at the massive tree where he ascended to join the remnant of another band of explorers.