This week the group, consisting of wizards Vale and Blaze, fighters Hethla and Curteff, and rogues Y'draneal and Grim headed back into the ancient, hollow mountain, determined to score another big haul of treasure before rival groups of explorers can grab the best loot or officials can shut the place down for freelancers.
Though Y'draneal was convinced that the southwest corner of the dungeon concealed access to a lower level, he was out voted and the party chose to re-enter the territory of the small, hairy, deranged dwarves they had met some time before.
|(c) Larry MacDougall 2013|
At the rear of the group, elven Y'draneal (who has only 8 hit points though now nearing third level) quickly took stock and retreated. As Hethla, Vale, and Grim were swarmed by the diminutive attackers, Blaze ran and Curteff made a fighting retreat, further stacking the odds against the explorers. Having beaten the odds a dozen times, Grim's luck finally ran out, and a shower of stones and javelins brought the wizened former soldier down. Hethla, the broad-shouldered swordswoman, was next to fall as Vale slipped and sprawled across the oil-slick floor that these xenophobic denizens of the mountain had carefully prepared. She scrambled for the far side of the room, even as one of the ferocious little men set the oil alight, burning her badly. Half blind with pain and now alone, Vale fled toward the Red Gate and escape from Dwimmermount.
Meanwhile, Curteff led Y'draneal and Blaze to the southwest quarter of the dungeon. They discovered a room that mapped the region in an elaborate mosaic, but were soon interrupted by yet another pack of porcine beastmen. Curteff put these to flight with a stunning show of sword work, but as the trio pursued the fleeing monsters they triggered a trap, and Y'draneal was hit by a poisoned dart! Failing his saving throw, he quickly succumbed to the venom, but Blaze, in a rare show of teamwork, was able to stabilize the elf even as he swelled grotesquely.
Apparently unfazed, Curteff and Blaze pressed onward through the next hallway and chamber (with Y'draneal unconscious, nobody bothered to map at this point) and at last discovered the long sought after steps to the second level. Unfortunately, eager as he was to press forward, Curteff promptly blundered into a patch of yellow mold and collapsed, gagging and choking.
This was the last straw and Blaze dragged Curteff free. He managed to get the big fighter back on his feet and they carried Y'draneal back toward the dungeon's entrance.
Fortunately for them, the dice were kind and no wandering monsters confronted them along the way. Arriving in the entry hall, however, they were confronted by a strange sight: a well-coordinated pack of rats had coaxed some kind of shimmering translucent slime into a position blocking the only exit -- the rats had neither forgiven nor forgotten their grudge against Blaze for his impulsive slaying of their folk the session prior! Having permitted Vale to leave earlier in exchange for revealing the location of the rest of the party, the rats had prepared their ambush carefully.
As Blaze flash-froze a rat, its companions led the gelatinous blob directly toward him. In the end however, Curteff struck the decisive blow, pinning and hog-tying Blaze in exchange for being permitted to escape Dwimmermount with Y'draneal slung over his shoulder. As he stumbled down the steps outside the ancient fortress, Blaze's screams could be heard echoing from beyond the red steel gates.
So ... the butcher's bill this session:
Hethla the steadfast fighter - slain by kobolds
Grim the rogue - likewise done in after 10 sessions
Vale - scorched to within an inch of her life and bereft of all her treasure
Y'draneal the elven rogue - poisoned and in a swoon
Curteff the swordsman - half-blinded and feverish from killer fungus
Blaze the novice wizard - seized by vengeful rats and presumed dead
Next week will be our last session of 2015 and I'm more than a little curious to see whether the group will attempt to limp back to Adamas or test their luck in a deeper, richer, and more dangerous level of the megadungeon.