Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Dwimmermount with Middle Schoolers -- XXV

For the third time in a row we began a Dwimmermount session with the explorers cut off from the surface world and carefully counting every torch and day of rations still remaining to them.

The five survivors of The Damaged Souls were:
·         Vale the Grey
·         Hurtis, Sergei, & Ivor, doughty fighting men
·         Y’draneal, elven thief

Image result for levers dungeonAfter a battling a squad of the Centurion Rurik’s dwimmer-goblins to a draw, the group was holed up in what Vale determined to be some kind of ancient control room, festooned with levers, dials and switches of various types.  As Hurtis rested, some party members experimented with the controls, but to no avail – the place seemed to lack any source of power.

Meanwhile, knowing that Kenny lay dead just beyond the locked, red-steel hatch of the control room, Vale attempted a bit of necromancy, hoping to absorb enough of the recently deceased magician’s essence to gain some of his uncast spells.

While there are no rules governing this sort of action, Dwimmermount isn’t just any old dungeon either—the very air of the mountain fortress is tinted with azoth, the raw element of magic that fills the voids between the stars.  That, plus another couple details of this level that I won’t yet discuss here, meant that I was willing to allow Vale’s player a D20 roll … because … why not?
 
One natural 20 later and not Kenny, but the azoth-charged shadow of the space where his psyche used to exist slid soundlessly through the seam around the hatch!  

This living shadow wasted no time, but made an immediate assault upon Vale!  

While Ivor cowered (he’s lost about 4 permanent Strength points to shadow drain already) and Sergei gibbered, Vale hastily hit herself with a Light Spell to help ward the negative-energy entity off.  Hurtis kindled his last torch and bravely dashed to Vale’s defense; his protection plus the light kept the thing at bay.  Y’draneal fired three of his precious azoth-infused arrows (the points disintegrate upon impact) before eventually banishing the shadow.

Never one to dwell on a setback, Vale soon put her next plan into place.  She used a spell to disguise herself as one of the big goblins on level two and another to magically grant her an ability to understand their language.  With Y’draneal trailing silently far behind, she took Hurtis “captive” and proceeded toward the heavily guarded steps that led up to level 2.  Even as a container of oil bounded down the steps she called out, 

“It’s me.  I’ve taken one of the humans prisoner!”

Her bluff worked—fortunately all the super-goblins are clones, so fitting in was far easier than it would be in any other situation—and soon poor Hurtis was stripped, hog-tied, and getting the boot.

Where are your friends!?  Where did they go?  What chamber are they in?

Hurtis tried to hang tough for a little while, but when the goblin platoon’s cook was fetched to see if he would be good for steaks or only for the stew pot, he caved.  

“They’re in some control room!”

Fortunately, there was enough of a language barrier that his answer didn’t mean much to the goblins at first, and Vale kept up her banter, lest they figure it out. 

“He was alone, but I think he might be a Termaxian spellcaster.”

What?  Why do you think that?

The two kept the conversation spinning until Hurtis mumbled something about the Red Gate (the entry to the megadungeon), so persuading the goblin centurion that the rest of the group had slipped away (and also revealing that there must be another way from level three back up toward the surface).

His fate still uncertain, Hurtis was dragged off to the larder while Vale was send to man a guard post on the eastern side of the Reliquary level, her spells quickly approaching their termination.  She didn't waste a moment but fell to chatting with her fellow guards.

“So, how does a goblin get promoted around here?”

“What?”

“I mean, Centurion Rurik, how did he get to be in charge?”

“I don’t understand what you mean.  He's always been centurion.”

[Bingo: these goblins probably won't be nearly so menacing without their officer to direct them, and they seem bred to follow orders!]

“Um, so what’s the plan?  How many of those stasis chambers does Rurik have us looking for?”

“All we can find, but I heard that what the centurion is really looking for is a gate in the House of Portals.”

[Weird ... dwimmer-goblins are apparently from some other world; one possibly accessible from somewhere below level two.]

“Yeah, we’ve been on short rations as is … it don’t make no sense to bring more lads on without resupply.”

"So what should we do for fun while we are on duty?"

"What?"

"Do you guys know any songs?"

"Um ..."

Another sterling Charisma roll later and Vale had her two companions singing in rounds.

"Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, establish a beachhead and swarm em and smash em and stomp their guts out and cut em to ribbons and ..."

"Okay, I think that's about all that verse can handle, but you're getting the hang of it!"

by Adam Bolton 2012
As Vale boned-up on her goblin trivia, down below in their hiding place Ivor and Sergei were sniffed out by an indeterminate number of bi-pedal rat-things.  Without Vale to do the talking, Ivor chose to throw his helmet at the nearest one (an odd choice since it was the focus of the group's active Light Spell--their only source of illumination) before charging with his greatsword.  His single chop marked the one and only combat round of the session, and though he connected with the furry creature his blow didn't seem to do it any lasting harm.  The creatures scattered, but Y'draneal's darkvision revealed that they didn't retreat far.

With their light about to fail and no word or signal having come from Vale, things began to look tense for Ivor and Sergei, until Y'draneal mention the small tent that he had been lugging around with him for some time now.  They realized that the canvas could be torn into strips, wrapped around the poles, and dipped in the oil that the goblins had flung down the steps earlier to make a bundle of quite serviceable torches.  Now with light, food (the goblins had missed Ivor's pack when shaking the party down last session), and a secure hiding place, the trio could afford to hole up in the control room for several days if necessary.

At the same time, Hurtis had plenty of opportunity to question the wisdom of Vale's plan from where he hung bound in the goblin's supply room.  Perhaps hoping to win the goblins' trust, he tried a gambit of his own.

"Hey.  Hey I had this green potion on me.  I think it might be poison.  If I let you keep it ..."

It took a moment for the goblins to work out what he was saying, but soon the green bottle was located among Hurtis's possessions.  The company cook shrugged, unstopped the bottle and pinching Hurtis's nose forced a bit of the unidentified brew down the fighter's throat.  As luck would have it, the potion reinvigorated him, helping him completely shrug off the effects of the beating he'd just taken.  Unfortunately, though fortified, Hurtis couldn't quite burst the ropes that the creatures had bound him with.

Meanwhile, up above Vale realized that the duration of her spells was about to expire.

"Hey, I hear something out in the hall.  You guys wait here, I'll have a look."

"No, that's against orders.  Centurion says no splitting up."

"Hmm ... but you guys wouldn't rat me out would you?"

"Well ... it's orders ..."

"Come on, after the good times we've had?"

"I don't fink it's a good idear."

"Wait!  It's the Termaxian mage!  I can HEAR HIS THOUGHTS.  Quick, I know where the humans went!"

Alarmed, one goblin stayed at his post while the other hurried Vale back to the centurion.  Turning a corner, she lingered far enough behind to hastily refresh her spells.

"Well.  Where are they?"

"I can't hear the exact words, but I can see the place in my mind.  Maybe we can question the mage."

"Leave that to me."

"Okay.  I can probably lead us to the place I see."

"Fine, take a squad there, but just to have a quick look then report back.  No lingering."

Soon Vale was leading a small group of the big, red-skinned goblins back down to level three where she hoped her friends would be waiting in ambush ...