The Keep on Yeoldelands – Session 14

So, listen, those damn caves were too tough, ogre ripped my party apart. so I went looking for an easier target. That’s how I got to this bone keep. Then a wizard immolated my party. So I went looking for an easier target, and got to this tower. Then I woke up in a dungeon, butt naked.

Rarder Brete

Click here for the other sessions.

Expedition 18b

16 Sep 2021

  • Alfredward (Dwarf 1)
  • Amos (Cleric 2)
  • Dalgarn (Dwarf 1)
  • Rarder Brete (Fighter 3)
  • Rozza (Magic User 1)
  • Later joined by Peach (Fighter 1)

Their intended mule guard dead on the ground, the party assigned Hats to stay with their beasts of burden while they entered the Tower of the Constructors. Footsteps echoing on the white and off-white mosaiced floors in a hallway, they advance passed some stairs and turned a corner.

Into the torchlight darted a trio of gaunt, wiry figures, very similar to the ones Rarder had encountered with other adventurers beneath Redwood Castle. The fighter locked shields with Dalgarn and Alfredward and received the charge grimly but confidently.

It was misplaced.

The experienced Rarder was the first to fall, hardly scratched but paralysed by the touch of one of the creatures. One by one the other adventurers dropped motionless as both Amos and Artzua tied and failed to call upon their gods to repel the beasts. They called in Hats from outside but not even the doughty dwarf could fend off the attackers. All seven adventurers and retainers lay in a heap.

Fade to black.

Gradually the party came to – all except Rozza, who’d been killed outright in the fight – but found themselves in pitch black. They had been stripped of all their belongings and separated out into several small cells. In another cell sat an elf (Dama) and a human (Peach), the last of a failed expedition to explore this tower. One by one, their allies had been taken by the animated corpse husks guarding them over the last few weeks. All they had were some thrown-in giant tiger beetle carcasses to live off.

As the discussions passed back and forth across a corridor, Rarder and Amos found a hidden doorway in their cell leading away behind loosely-stacked stones. They crept through, Amos uttering his one prayer to give the pair light.

Driven by desperation, the others stuck in the cells tore off the beetle legs and used the tough mass to try and bypass the locks the doors. It turned out that Alfredward had a particular knack for the task, perhaps aided by being able to see anything at all with no light source, but it still took him some time.

Meanwhile, Amos and Rarder crept along through empty rooms and corridors, passing by several rooms in favour of ascending any stairs they came across. Their progress was undisturbed until they’d risen two floors when Rarder found himself unarmed against several animate skeletons. Fortunately, the cleric’s pleas to the Sacred Locks were finally heard, and the undead stumbled away from the fighter in the face of the holy aura. They were dispatched and their spears taken.

Back at the cells, time had run out. Someone started hammering at the door to the room with Peach and Dalgarn pressed up against it. As Alfredward frantically managed to unlock the last cell door – the one with the secret passage – the two were knocked backwards and several stumbling corpses lumbered forward. Rather than wait for the duo to return, the rest of the party fled into the passage with the two other prisoners in tow.

As they advanced, Rarder and Amos noticed that the floor they were crossing was a recognisable white and off-white mosaic. Anticipating that they were near the scene of the initial fight, they crept forward. On the other side of a door they surprised two very familiar gaunt figures. They quickly retreated and blockaded themselves into the room with the skeleton remains. The door started splintering under the blows from their pursuers, so it was a good time for the rest of the adventurers to show up, having followed a similar policy of just heading upwards wherever possible.

Armed only with some spears and rubble and wearing nothing but grime, the party grimly braced themselves to receive the charge as the two creatures smashed into the room. Finally the goddess Glaria listened to Artzua’s pleas and, even as the divinely lit stone in Amos’ hand flickered out, the ghoulish foes reeled before a holy image of a broken hourglass. In the last of the light, the party crushed the beasts, leaving the way through to the exit clear.

But the joy of escaping the tower was tempered by the sight greeting the party as they emerged – where the mules had been left tied up remained only shredded ropes and blood splatters. What remained of the equipment on the mules lay scattered everywhere. With night approaching, the party contemplated the several days’ travel back to Redwood.

GM Notes

  • Just as well there were some prison cells with prisoners already in them for the party to join. It would have been gut-wrenching to do so, but had the party all been slain we would have been starting again in Redwood. As it was, only Rozza actually died – the rest succumbed to poor saves vs paralysis, and the cells seemed the best place to pick up the story. The escape was thrilling, and while the players still have their characters, there’s an adventure hook waiting for them if they want to get all those magic items back.
    Though I hasten to add that I described the characters as waking up in their underclothes – I blame the players for running with the ‘Naked and Afraid’ trope!
  • Trying to jimmy the locks with dead tiger beetle legs was a case of giving players a chance to do something about their situation, otherwise the locked cell doors and locked room door would have done a perfectly reasonable job of preventing the PCs from doing anything worthwhile. I figured a 1-in-6 chance on the doors was better than a majority of players sat around doing nothing while two explored through their secret door, and sometimes the dice reveal a story – Alfredward was the only one to succeed the 1-in-6 roll, and he did so for all four cell doors!
  • Again I’m glad that we roll all combat dice in the open, otherwise I definitely would have fudged some. Had I been a player I’d have had a little voice in my head questioning whether the GM had really rolled that many 19s and 20s. All the good luck must have been used up in that bandit loot in the previous session – this time round the party had a very sub-par performance. Neither cleric in four rounds of combat rolled above a 6 on 2d6 to turn the ghouls!

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