Crypts of the Barrowmaze

Session 15 - October 2018
The Traitor's Tomb

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 15, October 2018

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Julian (Vydar)

Tinday, Week of the Bear, MY 269

The adventurers return to the Barrowmaze, intent on unlocking the mysterious tomb of Horus Klexx at last. While they easily fight their way past a cohort of skeletons guarding the area, their musician summons aid and soon the party is trapped inside the magic-null zone surrounding Klexx’s tomb. It’s clear that there is a stalemate – they might be able to fight their way past the skeletons easily, but the wraiths and their master Osric Steelwind, together with the ghostly Breena Steelwind, might easily be too much for them.

Despite dire pronouncements and threats from Osric, the group hold fast and soon they have unsealed the tomb. Inside they find a corpse transfixed by iron spikes, encased in an iron cage. Within the Shroud, Clondya discovers the tortured soul of Horus Klexx, eternally devoured by daemon centipedes. Her necromancy drives the centipedes away, and for the first time in two-and-a-half centuries Klexx is able to think about anything other than his fear and suffering. He is pathetically grateful to  Clondya, all the more when she and Silas devise a plan to free him from the tomb by carrying away a piece of his fettering iron rods.

Talking with Klexx, they learn several things:

  • Klexx wants to rest – to go on to whatever fate awaits his soul – but he also wants to repay the adventurers for freeing him and to strike some sort of blow against Nergal and the Archons. All except Moniphine: he still loves her, and wants to see her once more before he is gone forever.
  • He has a very good knowledge of the earlier-constructed areas of the Barrowmaze, as he was held prisoner here for years and the various Archons enjoyed tormenting him with their plans for eternal dominion.
  • He knows the Archons well, and has strong opinions about their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.

    • Osric (Air) is greedy above all else, motivated mostly by riches and power. He is not a creative thinker, but he is the most loyal to Nergal – not a plotter or politician. Klexx doesn’t think he and his wife Breena often see eye to eye – she harries him constantly.
    • Moniphine (Earth) is vain and a lover of pleasure, swayed by whoever most entertains her and promises her beautiful things and new experiences. Klexx still carries a torch for her, despite her betrayal – he believes that she was misled and manipulated by Nergal and the other Archons.
    • Ram-Seth (Water) is clever and a mighty sorcerer with many daemons in his command, but he is a little too clever for his own good – he loves his own cunning and labyrinthine plans too much to do something straightforward when something sneaky, complicated, and ingenious is available.
    • Imhotep (Fire) is a mighty warrior and a ruthless commander, but he enjoys cruelty for its own sake and prefers to rule by fear rather than win loyalty.
  • He thinks that Nergal will have hidden any items of power or great secrets within his various vaults – areas that were off-limits even to the Archons unless Nergal allowed it. Klexx knows of three of these:

    • The Sepulchre of the Elements, where Nergal perfected his mastery of elemental magic and entombed his most favored courtiers to await the day of his ascension.
    • The Black Chamber, where he entombed his apprentice sorcerers and daemonic slaves along with his vast sorcerous knowledge.
    • The Vault of the Chosen, where his priests carried on the secret rites that assured his future godhood.

Bronzeday, Week of the Bear, MY 269

Emerging from the tomb, the adventurers find that Osric’s forces have departed. All appears safe, although they have been bricked in again. As they begin to break down the brick wall, they discover what has been set to guard them – a mighty golem made of stones, with devastating fists. Clearly the Undead have learned to fear Vydar and Clondya’s power over them, and have chosen to use elemental guardians instead!

Unfortunately for Osric, he hasn’t reckoned with Silas’ elemental mastery. He easily overcomes the will of the golem, forcing it away so that the party can proceed. They encounter another one – posing as the stone cover of the pit in the shrine room – but it likewise cannot defeat Silas. The party heads onward to investigate the hidden door to the east.

The wall is graven with a complex set of elemental glyphs in the heretical Zuulic system, seemingly some sort of fire-related ward. Again, Silas is able to unlock the spell and the wall disassembles into a doorway into a long corridor sloping downward slightly to the southeast. At the end of that corridor, another elemental seal awaits. This one is water-associated, and proves trickier to defeat, but with a little luck and a lot of sweat, Silas opens this one as well.

Beyond, they are greeted by a monumental statue some 15’ high of the supposed “four-faced god” Zuul, lord of life and death and soul of the four elements (at least according to the Zuulic Heresy). The statue holds a painted skull in each of its six hands, and with a grind of clockwork moves to present one of the skulls to Silas – the one marked with the glyph of water. Cautiously, they move past the statue and begin to explore the chamber. Faintly glowing stone inlays in four colors cover the floor, seeming to carry elemental energies from deeper into the dungeon.

Beyond a door to the north, they find a set of four octagonal tombs with a central vestibule, all but the first with various dangerous occupants or guardians. The first tomb holds the remains of a scholar, Raxias, who helped Nergal develop his necromantic arts. Here they find the Book of Nergal, a description of the special funerary methods used in the Barrowmaze. In the next tomb, two imposing Rune Golems stand guard over Nergal’s treasurer, Talbex, but Silas is able to bend them to his will long enough for the party to snatch a bagful of incredibly valuable jewelry! Hanah’s sharp nose detects the deadly mold infesting another tomb, and quick application of fire cleanses it. Unfortunately, all that can be salvaged is a large porcelain vase that appears valuable but fragile.

Within the last tomb, Vydar senses great wickedness and bitter cold – the tomb is occupied by a formless evil shade which stirs icy wind and batters the group with debris. Fortunately, Vydar thinks quickly, spotting a black sword that seems to be the focus of the entity. He snatches it up and thrusts it through the heart of the shade, destroying it instantly. The sword is clearly evil but powerful, and he decides the best thing to do is to leave it where it lies.

Worn and a bit unsettled by the greater power of the enemies they have faced in the Sepulchre of the Elements, the party decide to hole up in Raxias’s tomb and rest a while.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE: 20,900 gp

  • Crown, 1000 gp
  • 2 Bracelets, 1400 gp each = 2800 gp
  • Rites of Nergal Book, 1500 gp + research value
  • Jewelry, total value = 11200 gp
  • Large Porcelain Vase, 900 gp
  • 3500 gp

COMBAT: 5,175 xp

  • 15 Legion skeletons = 225
  • 1 Legion musician = 25
  • 1 Legion Captain = 25
  • 3 Children of Gaxx = 1500
  • 1 Wraith = 600
  • 2 Flagstone Golems = 900
  • 2 Rune Golems (circumvented) = 1100
  • 1 Greater Crypt Shade = 800

CHECKPOINTS: 650 xp

  • Horus Klexx Unleashed: 250
  • Opening the Sepulchre: 400

TOTAL = 26,725 XP

  • Split 3 ways = 8,908 each

    • Clondya = 8,908 × 1.1 = 9,799 xp
    • Silas = 8,908 × 1.1 = 9,799 xp

      • Silas 75% share = 7,349 xp
      • Hanah 25% share = 2,450 xp
    • Vydar = 8,908 × 1.05 = 9,353 xp

      • Vydar 75% share = 7,015 xp
      • Tembo 25% share = 2,338 xp

 

 

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

When we resume, it will be Jewelday, Week of the Bear. You are still in the Sepulchre of the Elements, safely holed up in the antechamber.

Silas has worked out how to unlock the seals so you can come and go, and you have even managed to sneak out to the surface and send a message to Aris & Oriah using one of Silas’s earth elemental buddies.

The Legion seems to have pulled back their forces for some reason – perhaps they are having to deal with the Red Maw or the Snake Cult again? You did see signs of people coming and going in the swamp at night when you went aboveground to scout and send your message.

According to Aris & Oriah, the Good Folk continue to picket outside your compound in Slowbrook, but the size of the crowds seem to be dwindling – perhaps because you’re not there?

There have been streetfights in Helix and a couple of the smaller communities near it between bands of Shadow Brethren and Faithful. None have been conclusive.

Hyrakitoi are still being seen above the lake by night, performing strange aerial dances and singing ethereally. Several locals have been found floating in the Hel downstream, dead and mutilated but with rapturous smiles on their faces.

 

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Session 14 - August 2018
The Coming of the Green Star

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 14, August 2018

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Julian (Vydar), Ryan (Aris)

Copperday, Week of the Tiger, MY 269

  • Back in Slowbrook, the adventurers pursue various personal tasks.

    • Vydar continues evangelizing the cause of Palantis, but with less warm reception than previously. He hears dark mutterings among the people against the adventurers, particularly Aris and Clondya.
    • Silas studies the omens, finding disturbing signs of some impending calamity. These are reflected by Clondya’s studies, which warn of an imminent eclipse and the advent of a new daemonic star.
    • Clondya is troubled by dark dreams of a place of utter blackness and the whispering of snakes.

Tinday, Week of the Tiger, MY 269

  • Clondya’s troubled dreams leave her drained and tired. That night, she is seen sleepwalking.
  • Rumors reach the group of hyrakitoi sightings over the lake. The people are full of fears and unrest, much of it directed toward the party. Silas confronts a group of locals, attempting to calm their fears, but it seems only to increase their antipathy.

Bronzeday, Week of the Tiger, MY 269

  • Word reaches the group of a confrontation between Lady Olathoe and Acanthus Rho, with raised voices and slammed doors.
  • Clondya leaves the house late at night, but Aris & Vydar stop her after a vicious struggle. She seems to be possessed, under the influence of a snakey presence. It appears that she was taking the Dungeon Key somewhere under its commands. The group decides to consult with Acanthus Rho for assistance in freeing Clondya.

Ironday, Week of the Tiger, MY 269

  • With Acanthus Rho’s aid, Clondya exorcises the influence of the Mara and the curse of the serpent crown.
  • Lady Olathoe informs Silas that she will be departing for the Temple after the bridge dedication ceremony scheduled for tomorrow. She also warns him that Acanthus Rho vehemently refused to support her in her desire to involve the Temple in the Barrowmaze matter – she thinks Rho is up to something on behalf of his old masters in the Red Court of Blackmire.

Jewelday, Week of the Tiger, MY 269

  • All are in attendance at the dedication of the bridge across the lake, held at the midpoint of the bridge. Acanthus Rho is late, and the ceremony begins without him. Just as it is getting under way, an eerie darkness settles over the land, and the Sun’s light grows green and sickening. The song of the hyrakitoi is heard in the skies, and a dozen of the she-daemons descend to ring the gathering. Their song overwhelms the senses, and the ceremony becomes a brutal melee of all against all. In the midst of this chaos, as the adventurers struggle to control themselves, drive off the daemons, and protect the civilians, the bellows of a maddened beast herald the arrival of Coran Gorechosen, Acanthus Rho’s mutant servant. He seems intent on Lady Olathoe, battling his way toward her through the melee.
  • Unfortunately for Coran,  the game master can’t roll better than a 7 for him all fight. Ultimately, Lady Olathoe summons up the elemental of the lake itself, which destroys him utterly and robs the daemons of their sacrifice – which it seems they intended Coran to be. After another warning to be wary of Acanthus Rho and the Barrowmaze, Olathoe departs immediately to seek the counsel of the Elemental Priesthood.
  • Returning to the castle, they learn that Acanthus Rho was terribly injured when Coran broke free. His survival is in doubt, and he has asked the party to see him as soon as they can. Rho tells them his story, how he came to be here and what he seeks to do. He tells them that his only hope of surviving his injuries lies in completing his transformation into a vampire, and asks that they be vigilant over him during his recovery – he will be mad and vicious for a time, and in need of much blood. He thanks them for their work and apologizes for his deceptions, begging them to continue their exploration of the Barrowmaze because he believes the only hope of turning away the Green Star this time will be found there.

ACANTHUS RHO’S STORY

Many years ago, a young boy of Slowbrook grew fascinated by the legends of the Barrowmaze. He was a strange child, a misfit among the swamp folk, and he spent many long hours wandering the blighted marshes in search of adventures. Eventually, he fell in with a group of adventurers, serving as their torchbearer and scout. They excavated a few mounds in the Barrow Fields, finding little of interest, but the boy discovered a scroll – he shows it to them, a huge scroll of human skin on a spindle of bone, with script that seems to crawl and drip. He could not read it, but it fascinated him. He hid it from the others and studied it in secret. He fancied it was a map, that if deciphered would lead him to buried treasure.

It led to an island in the swamp near the Barrow Fields (what the party knows as the Slaughtergrove). There, the adventurers were attacked by the earth itself, and the trees, tearing them apart and sucking them into the mud. Only the boy and one adventurer escaped alive. Terrified, they fled the area together, the boy afraid to tell what he had done. In Sadesh, the man sold the boy into bondage in the flesh-trade.

The boy was purchased by a broker who procured for the Red Court, and came into the possession of Anthelas Rho, a vampire count of the Court. The vampire found the boy a promising disciple, and began to teach him the secrets of blood magic. Over many years, the boy learned to be a courtier and a sorcerer in the service of the vampires.

He learned the secrets of their kind, some of which he is still bound to secrecy about, but some he can tell. They came to our world from another, a world devoured by a being he later came to know as the Red Maw. The vampires fled their world, but found they could not survive in ours without themselves becoming devourers. Over centuries, they diligently worked to master the blood-thirst and rebuild their civilization hidden among humans.

The coming of the Green Star filled the vampires with fear. They knew it heralded the Red Maw’s coming to our world, as it had to theirs. The time for hiding was at an end – they must gather together and build a nation, a partnership of vampire and human, that could perhaps prevent the coming of the Maw. Some among them, though, became worshippers of the Maw, and remained in hiding to await its coming. It was probably one of these cultists that stole the vampires’ sacred Gospel of Blood, the record of their exodus and compendium of their learning. The scroll the boy had found was only a copy of a single page from that tome.

Acanthus Rho has worked his whole life to be ready to take on the task set for him by the Red Court. They now believe that the Gospel was stolen by – or on the orders of – allies of King Nergal, and used by him to cheat death. The Maw was turned away once, centuries ago at the Fall of Gaxx – the vampires do not know how, but the secret may lie in the Barrowmaze, in the pages of the Gospel. Rho’s task was to search for the Gospel and return it to the hands of the Red Court.

Unfortunately, Rho soon learned that he could not personally undertake this task – the dark power of the place knew him, and continued to hold power over him as it had over the boy so long ago. Within that place, the blood-lust that his studies had instilled within him grew ascendant and uncontrollable, and his humanity receded. He fears that the power of Barrowmaze could turn him to its will if he lingered there too long. So he worked to create a pretext, a way to draw adventurers to the Barrowmaze and insert himself as their patron. With financing from the Red Court and from the ambitious priests of the Four Cities, it could be done.

 

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE: None

COMBAT: 3,680 xp

  • 12 hyrakitoi 12x 240 = 2,880
  • 1 Coran Gorechosen = 800

CHECKPOINTS: 2,000 xp (Aris +75, Clondya +200, Silas +50, Vydar +100, Tembo +350, other Companions +250)

  • Olathoe’s Departure = 250 (Silas +50)
  • The Coming of the Green Star = 1,000 (Companions +250 each)
  • The Coils of the Mara = 500 (Clondya +200, Vydar, Aris, Tembo +50)
  • Torches & Pitchforks = 250 (Vydar, Tembo +50 each, Aris +25)

TOTAL = 5,680 XP

  • Split 4 ways = 1,420 each

    • Aris = 1,420 + 75 = 1,495 × 1.1 = 1,645 xp

      • Aris 75% share = 1,234 xp
      • Oriah 25% share = 411 + 250 = 661 xp
    • Clondya = 1,420 + 200 = 1,620 × 1.1 = 1,782 xp
    • Silas = 1,420 + 50 = 1,470 × 1.1 = 1,617 xp
    • Vydar = 1,420 + 100 = 1,520 × 1.05 = 1,596 xp

      • Vydar 75% share = 1,197
      • Tembo 25% share = 399 + 350 = 749 xp

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

The Green Star shines in the heavens, poisoning the light of the Sun. It will move away from the Sun gradually, but while it remains close to it the Sun’s light does no harm to creatures of darkness. As the Star grows closer to the world, this effect will subside but others will no doubt be felt. The Red Maw will come soon unless the Star is banished.

Acanthus Rho has begun a bloody transformation. While it is ongoing, he is mad and cannot be relied upon for aid and advice. He can be brought to his senses for a time by feeding on human blood, so if you really need to consult with him there are ways – but the cost is dear. In the meantime, he is restrained in his old laboratory beneath Castle Blackmoss and must receive regular infusions of an arcane brew of blood, mineral salts, and herbs. Any of you can prepare this infusion.

Duke Rana has fled Castle Blackmoss, and cannot be found. It is inhabited only by Acanthus Rho, his two personal slaves, and a few hardy souls who seem to think that it’s safer than anywhere else around here, despite the mad wizard locked in the tower. Some of them may be searching for the wizard’s hidden treasure hoard – it must be here somewhere, right?

Slowbrook is in the grips of terror, and two factions are beginning to coalesce among the populace. One, the Good Folk, are a loosely organized mob who blame wizards, adventurers, and Barrowmaze for all their troubles and may prove a problem to you. The other are the Faithful, a small but devoted cult who believe the Kindly Ones have sent their messenger Vydar Palantis to save the world just like Saint Ygg saved the common people of Gaxx the last time the Green Star appeared.

Helix closes its gates and fortifies, its wealthier citizens barricading themselves into their estates while the townsfolk shiver and murmur of the End Times. Cults are taking root here and there, not least among them the Brethren of the Shadow. These green-robed preachers have appeared seemingly overnight, and those who join them soon abandon their homes and vanish into the swamp. You suspect this may be the Snake Cult in a new guise, recruiting new soldiers to fight against the Red Maw.

Hanah comes to Silas and tells him she is afraid. It seems like the world is falling apart around her, and she’s not sure you and she haven’t just made things worse. Maybe she should go home and be with her family before it’s too late. With the money she has, they could make a new life for themselves far away from the Barrowmaze, enjoy however long the world has left. But she worries you will be in terrible danger. Maybe YOU should come with HER… You can offer her encouragement to think of her family first (she’ll retire, and Silas will gain 1,000 xp), or plead with her to help you save everyone (she’ll become a Companion as a 3rd-level Barbarian). Or you can leave with her, retiring Silas and choosing a new character to play.

When we resume, it will be the Week of the Bear. You will have had two weeks of Downtime to adjust to your new situation.

 

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Session 13 - July 2018
Escape from the Black Chamber

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 13, July 2018

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Julian (Vydar)

Bronzeday, Week of the Sage, MY 269

  • Rested and recovered, the adventurers are making ready to move on with their explorations when Hanah’s sharp ears detect sounds of people moving around and talking in the Black Chamber.
  • Investigating, they discover that a “rescue party” from the Snake Cult has come in search of the sorcerer they slew yesterday and become trapped in the Chamber. They use the dungeon key to open the South door of the Chamber hoping to lure the visitors into a trap using the ghouls sealed into one of the tombs and the other hazards of the south corridor, but it does not prove terribly effective, as the cultist prove to be stalwart and canny fighters. However, the adventurers’ own skills and superior gear allow them to prevail over the cultists despite the dark sorcery of their leaders.
  • They debate where best to explore next, and Silas attempts once more to commune with the elemental spirits of Barrowmaze. He is very successful, actually making direct and lucid contact with the powerful Earth elemental known as the Master of the Dungeon and learning that it has been dismembered, its legs, arms, and head hidden to destroy its power. If its parts could be found and returned, it could fight against the dark power that enslaves the elementals of Barrowmaze. However, he also senses that the defenses of Barrowmaze are increasingly active – the Archon Osric has stationed his undead sentries throughout the area, including right outside the North door of the Black Chamber. The group may have to fight their way past them unless Clondya can somehow convince them to allow the adventurers to pass.
  • Opening the door, they confront not simply a couple of skeletal sentries, but a whole platoon of them, led by an officer of some kind and commanded by a terrifying wraith. Clondya’s negotiations go poorly, though – it seems that entering the Black Chamber is forbidden even for the servants of Barrowmaze, and the penalty is death! Clondya may be spared due to her pact, but none of the others will be permitted to leave. A desperate plea from Clondya offers to barter directly with Osric for the party’s freedom, and the wraith departs to commune with its master. While it is absent, the adventurers make a last-ditch press to escape.
  • They fight effectively against the skeletons, with Clondya’s magic driving most of them away and the warriors smashing the rest swiftly, but before they can make good their escape, the wraith returns! Vydar and Clondya bravely and desperately try to hold it off long enough for the others to escape, Vydar battling for a while alone against the creature before Hanah’s magic axe turns the tide! The wraith is defeated, and the party runs for their lives back to the safety of Slowbrook.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE: 505 gp ?

  • 130 gp
  • 3 vials golden hell-venom = 300 gp if sold
  • 1 serpent rod = 75 gp if sold

COMBAT: 1,700 xp

  • 4 Snake Cult Warriors = 200
  • 2 Snake Cult Acolytes = 150
  • 1 Snake Cult Sorcerer = 150
  • 1 Snake Cult Giant Rattler = 400
  • 2 Snake Cult Cobra Swarm = 70
  • 10 Legion Warriors = 150
  • 1 Legion Musician = 25
  • 1 Legion Bannerman = 30
  • 1 Legion Officer = 25
  • 1 Wraith = 500

TOTAL = 2,205 XP

  • Split 3 ways = 735 each

    • Clondya, Silas = 735 × 1.1 = 808 xp
    • Vydar = 735 × 1.05 = 772 xp

      • Vydar 75% share = 579
      • Tembo 25% share = 193

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

You have violated the seal of the Black Chamber and been Marked for Oblivion.

You have learned the Secret of the Dismembered One.

When we resume, it will be the Week of the Tiger, and you will be back at your houses in Slowbrook.

This will be the last Barrowmaze for a few months – we are moving to our new house in September. We’ll be back in action at the new place for November, hopefully.

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Session 12 - June 2017
The Black Chamber

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 12, June 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Julian (Vydar)

Week of the Ploughman, MY 269

  • The adventurers hole up at the tower in the swamp, keeping watch on the Barrow Fields while they recover from their battles.
  • Everyone is fully recovered. The Barrow Fields seem quiet, with even the increased hyrakitoi activity now subsiding.

Copperday, Week of the Sage, MY 269

  • Late at night, they see lights in the swamp near the island of the Maw. Quickly, they dispatch boats to observe and possibly intercept. Aris & Oriah remain behind to hold the fort.
  • The light prove to be boats full of Red Maw cultists, conveying a prisoner to the island – presumably a sacrifice! The party ambushes the cultists and eventually defeat them, rescuing the prisoner. The cultists are priests of some sort, and possess the ability to transform into – and possibly summon – the huge leech-like creatures they have seen at the island before.
  • During the battle, Silas rouses the elementals to the party’s aid – water elementals carry their boats to stop the sacrifice at great speed, and hamper the leech-men’s attack. After the initial confrontation, he decides to try to rouse the elementals against the Shadow Maw of the island. It is a hard and dangerous battle, but he is able to rally the earth elementals and with his aid they defeat the Maw and seal the breach permanently. A great victory against the Maw!
  • Clondya is able to convince the prisoner they rescued to trust her, posing as a Snake Cultist. He is Svim Kthar, an emissary of the cult who had been sent out to recruit in the cities of the South. The cult is depleted of manpower and besieged by the Maw cult, but has used a hidden exit from the Barrowmaze to slip agents out and bring new cultists in. Soon they will be ready for their counterattack! He reveals the location of this secret entrance to Clondya, and is rewarded with execution.

Tinday, Week of the Sage, MY 269

  • Investigation of the secret entrance discovers traps, meant to attract the vicious giant scorpions that hunt the swamp margins. Fortunately, Hanah is easily able to find and disable them.
  • Within a forest of cattails, they find an almost invisible mound. Inside, a bare chamber contains two canoes and a large broken statue of a warrior. The statue hides a stairway that descends into the Maze.
  • They decide not to try to intrude into the heart of the cult’s domain and withdraw.
  • Instead, they head back to the original entrance they had used near Mound 11. The dungeon appears tidier, with debris cleaned up and some fallen brick walls reconstructed. There is little sign of Snake Cult or Red Maw presence. Clearly the Legions have consolidated their hold on at least this area.
  • They make their way to the sealed door where Clondya vanished some time ago. She has learned new magic since, and it proves effective in forcing the door to open. Within, they find a Snake Cult priest and his 8 venom zombies, who are defeated after a short but vicious fight, in which Hanah is nearly slain. As the priest dies, Clondya can sense that he will not pass to the Shroud – his soul is sucked away into the Barrowmaze by the forces at work in this chamber. Clondya gains control of one of the Venom Zombies for herself.
  • Examining the chamber, they find that it has a very high ceiling, decorated with the four skull faces of Nergal, and that in the center there is an obelisk similar to the one on the surface. A malign presence seems to permeate the chamber, and a terrible hunger. It is not a pleasant place to linger.
  • The priest has a metal rod which proves to be a key to the circular locks they have seen. Each cardinal point of the chamber has a door with such a lock, and they begin cautiously exploring what is beyond.
  • To the west, they find a corridor with 6 side corridors full of small niche tombs. The floors of these side passages are scattered with bone fragments and small items such as coins and jewelry. They must elude several pit traps concealed by illusions – interestingly, the zombie does not trigger them, only living explorers! When they venture into the side passages, the skeletal fragments become a horde of 24 skeletons, but they are able to bottleneck and destroy them without much trouble. At the end of one passage, there is a hand-dug tunnel which leads to what is apparently a completely buried small chamber containing a coffin and a plinth containing a hidden compartment, now empty. This seems to be the resting place of a Coffer Corpse, like the ones who guard the main entrance to the Maze. Someone has taken the jar that would have been in the hidden compartment and presumably holds its heart.
  • Exploring the south doorway next, the one the priest was fleeing toward, they find a long corridor with 3 doors on each side. Exploring carefully, they find nothing of value and several dangers, including a chamber full of yellow mold, another in which hunger-ghouls have been imprisoned, and another with four open sarcophagoi, each filled to the brim with dark brown liquid. They avoid the dangers, eventually entering the last room, where a partially open sarcophagus hold two sacred cobras and some treasure, which they extract safely and then close the sarcophagus with the snakes inside. It looks like this is where the snake priest was camped out.
  • Tired and battered, the adventurers decide to rest.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE: 646.12 gp

  • 19 pp
  • Dungeon key
  • A spellbook bound in yellow silk and red leather, with a copper two-headed snake on the spine, the Book of the Cunning Asp
  • 72 cp
  • 54 sp
  • 3 gold chalices, 150 gp each
  • A jug of wine
  • A scroll case, containing several magical scrolls

COMBAT: 2,640 xp

  • 2 Red Maw flunkies = 200
  • 2 Red Maw Favored Initiates = 600
  • 1 Red Maw Red-Marked Priest = 500
  • Shadow Maw = 500
  • Kelmok, Serpent Priest = 200
  • 8 Venom Zombies = 400
  • 24 wretched skeletons = 240

CHECKPOINTS: Silas +750, Vydar +350, Clondya +350

  • AN ELEMENTAL CHAMPION: Silas +500; Others +100
  • THE BLACK CHAMBER UNSEALED: +250 each

INTERACTION: Clondya +100, Vydar +100

  • Interrogation of Svim Kthar: Clondya & Vydar each +100

TOTAL = 3,286 (Clondya +450, Silas +750, Vydar +450)

  • Split 3 ways = 1,095 each

    • Clondya = 1,095 + 450 = 1,545 × 1.1 = 1,700
    • Silas = 1,095 + 750 = 1,845 × 1.1 = 2,030

      • Hanah has leveled up
    • Vydar = 1,095 + 450 = 1,545 × 1.05 = 1,622

      • Vydar 75% share = 1,216
      • Tembo 25% share = 406

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

You have discovered the Serpent Mound.

The Black Chamber is open to you.

The Legions hold the Green Zone securely.

The Slaughtergrove has been exorcised.

When we resume, you have all managed to get a good rest in and recover some HP, Luck, and spells. It is Bronzeday, Week of the Sage, and you are in the snake priest’s hideout south of the Black Chamber.

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Session 11 - April 29th, 2017
Daemonic Forces

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 11, April 29th 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Ryan (Aris)

Copperday, Week of the Lizard, MY 269

  • Marla Ironthighs comes to Silas to tell him that Stinky has taken a turn for the worse and is dying. Silas sees the extent of the creature’s degeneration and decides to ask Lady Olathoe for her assistance. He also convinces Marla to leave town and keep quiet about what happened here.
  • Aris is beset by constant hunger and increasing irritability and violent urges. When he goes to pick up his boots at the Trading Barge, a loose nail wounds him and he terrifies the Traders so much that they flee from him – in fact, the next day the Barge is gone! Worse yet, Aris learns the nature of his affliction. It appears that he is becoming a vampire-like creature. He seeks the assistance of Lady Olathoe.
  • Vydar is delirious, being watched over by Tembo as he mutters unintelligible conversations with himself – or Palantis?

Tinday, Week of the Lizard, MY 269

  • Lady Olathoe’s analysis of Stinky goes very badly – Stinky dies horribly, the elemental magics uniting his disparate parts failing, and Olathoe’s servitor elementals are corrupted by the dark magic within Stinky, turning on Olathoe and Silas until they are able to contain and destroy them. Clearly the magic of the World Wound – if that is indeed what created the mongrelmen – is corrupting of elementals and begins to fail away from Barrowmaze.
  • Aris is waiting for his own appointment with Olathoe when this all goes down, and storms off in an ill temper when it is postponed. Learning the nature of his problem, Silas decides that the best thing to do is to place Aris and Vydar in quarantine at the team’s houses in Slowbrook until a cure can be found.
  • Lady Olathoe reveals that Acanthus Rho knows a great deal about vampirism and blood magic. Perhaps something can be found in his laboratory? She gives her permission to Clondya to proceed with such research.
  • Dark rumors about the party are spreading, and the people of the area seem fearful and hostile. Aris’ outburst and vampiric symptoms have become common knowledge.

Bronzeday-Jewelday, Week of the Lizard, MY 269

  • After several days of work, Clondya believes she has found a serum that can purge the vampiric blood from its victims, although they may suffer greatly or even die in the process. They decide to attempt the cure, and fortunately it works! Aris suffers badly, his health permanently damaged, but Vydar seems to be making a good recovery.
  • With all the troubling rumors around the team, they decide to leave town for a little while to give it time to cool off. Vydar is still too weak to join them, and Tembo stays behind to care for him.

Copperday, Week of the Ploughman, MY 269

  • They decide to check in on the situation at the island with the Maw beneath it, the one the cultists refer to as the Slaughtergrove. They find it much changed – all the trees have been cut down, and the enchanted stone snake statue that once stood in the Fallen Tower ruins sits in the center of a pool of red, liquid mud. They examine the situation, learning that the trees seem to have been cut by the kind of axes used by the Legions of Barrowmaze, but the Maw is still present and active beneath the mud pool. The snake idol is drawing creatures from the swamp to the pool, where they are consumed by the Maw.
  • The group try to come up with a way to remove the idol from the pool without being attacked by the Maw. As they work out a plan to lasso the idol and drag it out, they notice something large swimming around near the island – they look like some sort of huge leech or something, closely resembling the Maw itself. They do manage to remove the statue, but all except Aris are battered by the assault of the astral Maw as it strikes out at them, and only escape because Clondya’s colour spray spell drives the creatures back.
  • They head for the intact way-tower that they have used to observe the area before, hoping to camp there. Observing the area, they see that much activity continues at the Barrow Fields. It appears that the Legions are in control of the area immediately around the entrances they know of and the Stele, but there are Red Maw forces active in the northern part of the fields near the Mound of Lions, and the hyrakitoi continue to engage in their inscrutable aerial wanderings in the eastern part of the Barrow Fields. The area of the old Camp #3, where the Snake Cult had their encampment and the team intends to create their own compound in the spring, seems deserted.
  • Late that night, 5 hyrakitoi approach the island, encircling it. At first, they do not attack, and do not cross the barrier of the warding skulls, but one of their number – perhaps a leader – rises into the air and heads for the TOP of the tower. It seems that the barrier does not extend high enough to provide complete protection. A fight ensures, and several of the company are injured before the creatures are banished or driven off. Hanah, in particular, is lured into the water and nearly drowns before she is rescued.
  • The team must hole up and recover, or head back to Slowbrook and Castle Blackmoss.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE: NONE

COMBAT: 2,100 xp

  • 5x hyrakitoi = 1,200 xp
  • 4x giant leech = 600 xp
  • 1x shadow of the Maw = 300 xp

INTERACTION: Aris +250, Silas +150, Clondya +200, Vydar +50

  • Confrontation with the Traders: Aris +200
  • Farewell to Marla: Silas +50
  • Stinky’s Fate: Silas & Clondya +100 each
  • A Cure?: Clondya +100, Aris & Vydar +50 each

TOTAL = 2,100 (Aris +250, Clondya +200, Silas +150, Vydar +50 (no share))

  • Split 3 ways = 700 each

    • Aris = 700+250 = 950 × 1.1 = 1045

      • Aris 75% share = 784
      • Oriah 25% share = 261
    • Clondya = 700+200 = 900 × 1.1 = 990
    • Silas = 700+150 = 850 × 1.1 = 935
    • Vydar = 0+50 = 50 × 1.05 = 53

      • Vydar 75% share = 39
      • Tembo 25% share = 14

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

Clondya has delved into the Mysteries of the Blood.

Vydar & Aris have been purged of the vampiric curse.

Marla Ironthighs has left the area, never (?) to return.

Stinky is dead.

Dire Rumours circulate in Slowbrook, Helix, and the Helbend generally. While the party are not yet pariahs, many of the locals fear them and consider them a danger.

Lady Olathoe has seen the danger represented by the Barrowmaze. She believes it must be contained. She has sent word to the Temple of the Five Elements and will soon depart herself to testify before the assembled priesthood.

Acanthus Rho is still away on mysterious errands.

You can choose whether to return to Slowbrook, or have Tembo and Vydar join you in the swamp in a few days. Either way, we will begin next session on Copperday, Week of the Sage, and all party members will recover from their wounds.

 

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Session 10 - March 25th, 2017
The Coming of the Seven

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 10, March 25th 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Julian (Vydar), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Ryan (Aris)

Week of the Hawk & Copperday, Week of the Dragonfly, MY 269

  • Vydar & Silas researching cult of Zuul and Companions of Palantis. Minimal revelations so far, but tantalizing clues.
  • Lady Olathoe & Silas discuss the Talisman of Law. She believes it to be a powerful daemonic artifact, almost certainly not benign or helpful. If it exists, it should be placed in the hands of the Temple for safekeeping, not used.
  • Aris tries to procure new boots. He deals with the Trading Barge, who offer to get him some marvelous boots that will always be clean and protect against all manner of dangers. He pays them a large deposit and awaits the arrival of his boots… (he was UNLUCKY – the boots will be a swindle in some way)
  • The group is planning to construct a base of their own in the swamp come spring, at the site where the Snake Cult used to have their camp. In the meantime, they have rented two houses adjacent to each other in Slowbrook, and staffed them with servants and security.
  • Seven armored figures march slowly down the viaduct from the north, killing anyone who interferes with their progress. Eventually, Clondya confronts them near the bridge at Slowbrook, using Command Undead to force them to acknowledge her. They are vampires, allies of “he who was Imhotep”, who have been summoned to the Barrowmaze because “the time is near when the tides of blood and slaughter will rise and all will drown”. They offer Clondya the chance to accompany them and share in the harvest of blood, but she politely refuses. The armored strangers march on into the swamp. The adventurers decide that they should try to get to Barrowmaze ahead of the vampires and see what can be done to interfere with whatever is afoot.

Tinday, Week of the Dragonfly, MY 269

At the Barrow Fields, Clondya speaks with Osric. For some reason, he is accompanied by his wife Breena when he appears to the sorceress. He agrees to marshal the forces of Barrowmaze against the traitorous cultists of the Maw, but warns the party to avoid their usual regions of the dungeon since that is where he plans to make his stand against the vampires. He goes to consult with “the Keeper” in hopes of gaining reinforcements. While he is gone, an earthquake shakes the Barrow Fields and Silas sense a “disturbance in the force.” Hyrakitoi are very active above the eastern parts of the Barrow Fields.

A spectral light leads the adventurers to the mound with the lion-headed warriors on its doors. They force open the doors and descend to the crypt, where a black sword lies on a plinth. Aris senses trouble, and the party makes a plan to snatch the sword only on their way out. The light leads them to a hidden door that leads into the Maze, just north of the grand corridor where they encountered the forces of the Maw and the Serpent Cult fighting one another a few months ago.

Exploring cautiously, they encounter a stuck door that seems to be partly calcified by mineral-rich water that seeps under it. Forcing the door open is noisy, and attracts some plague-cursed huecuva who are easily dealt with by the heavily armored fighters. Within the chamber they find a nightmarish array of stone-encrusted skeletal remains, jumbled around another door which seems entirely permeated by the mineral-rich water. They decide not to investigate further, as Aris has a bad feeling about the skeletons.

They next find a portcullis with a tattered yellow curtain beyond it. Despite uneasy feelings from Hanah, Clondya is determined to investigate and has the fighters force the gate open for her. Peering through the curtain, she sees her reflection in a huge mirror – and vanishes!

Within the mirror, Clondya must battle against herself – or rather, another self, one who has embraced the daemonic destiny that she rejected. Hard-pressed by the vicious duplicate, she desperately puts on the Serpent Circlet… and is saved. The mirror shatters, and Clondya is returned… but the crown will not come off, and its whispers are insidious.

Further exploration finds two rooms next to each other. One has had the door forced, and within a skeletal corpse lies amidst a pile of shattered runic tablets. The other is still locked, but they decide to use the word of opening spell that Clondya recently learned to open it. Within, a skeleton in robes holds a golden bowl as it lies in state on a plinth. The back wall is covered with cabinet doors of dark wood below a fresco showing Nergal in his lord of undeath form. Behind each door is a single runic tablet.

A little more exploration reveals a crude stone table or altar. Blood wells from its surface and drips from the edges before vanishing. A palpable aura of daemonic blood-lust emanates from it. Enraged, Vydar encourages the others to help him destroy it. The altar is smashed and cast down, but Aris & Vydar are both splashed with the blood… which awakens an unnatural hunger within them.

Feeling that time is growing short, the group decides to withdraw. On their way out, they use a long rope to snatch the black sword from the plinth in the Lion Tomb before re-sealing the doors.

Above, they see that ranks of skeletal warriors have been marshaled near the Obelisk, presumably to await the arrival of the vampires. They also see that a curious hyrakitos stands above the scene, keenly observing the emergence of the adventurers before striding off to the east. It is nearly dusk.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE: 4,240 gp

  • 3 pieces jewelry, total value 340 gp
  • 24 runic tablets, unidentified = 2400 gp
  • ornate gold and platinum ritual bowl, 1500 gp

COMBAT: 450 xp (Clondya +250)

  • 3x cursed huecuva: 450
  • Clondya: Daemonic Doppelganger: 250

INTERACTION: 400 xp (Aris, Clondya, Vydar +200, Silas +100)

  • The Armored Strangers 100 (Clondya +100)
  • Doubts About the Talisman of Law (Silas +100)
  • A Dark Bargain, Honored 100 (Clondya +100)
  • An Unnatural Hunger (I) 200 (Vydar, Aris +200 each)

CHECKPOINTS: 300 xp

  • Leaving the nest 150
  • Arrival of the Seven 150

TOTAL = 5,390 (Aris +200, Clondya +450, Silas +100, Vydar +200)

  • Split 4 ways = 1,348 each

    • Aris = 1348+200 = 1548 × 1.1 = 1703

      • Aris 75% share = 1277
      • Oriah 25% share = 426
    • Clondya = 1348+450 = 1798 × 1.1 = 1978
    • Silas = 1348+100 = 1448 × 1.1 = 1593
    • Vydar = 1348+200 = 1548 × 1.05 = 1625

      • Vydar 75% share = 1219
      • Tembo 25% share = 406

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

The Seven  are arriving at Barrowmaze.

Osric has roused the Keeper and leads the Legions of Barrowmaze against the Seven and the Red Maw Cult.

Clondya has called upon the aid of the Mara and is now in their debt. What form this will take is yet unknown.

Vydar has been afflicted by an unnatural hunger. This has displeased the shade of Palantis that haunts his gauntlet.

Aris has been deceived by the traders of the Water Temple. Soon he will receive a pair of boots that are not what they seem.

Aris suffers an unnatural hunger.

The group has claimed a lair of their own in Slowbrook. They have well-paid servants and armed guards.

They have selected a site for a base in the Helmire. Come spring, they will begin construction.

Acanthus Rho is still away on mysterious errands.

 

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Session 8 & 9 - Nov 26th 2017, Jan 28th 2018
The Very Worm That Gnaws...

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 8, November 26th 2017; Session 9, January 28th 2018

In attendance: Kathy (Silas & Hanah), Julian (Vydar & Tembo), Brett (Clondya the Pale, Ulf), Ryan (Mynes/Aris & Oriah)

Week of the Dowager, MY 269

Back in Castle Blackmoss, several developments are afoot as fall turns to winter.

  • Silas must spend time recovering from the madness brought on by his visions of the Master of the Dungeon.
  • Vydar, filled with a new sense of purpose from the influence of Palantis, spends his time doing good deeds and aiding the poor and sick around Helbend. This attracts the notice of Rhygar, one of Duke Rana’s sheriffs.
  • Vydar also convinces Tembo to join his quest! Tembo becomes a Companion.
  • Klondya continues her studies, consulting with Acanthus Rho to learn more magic and unlocking new secrets of her magic items.
  • A fierce old woman, Lady Olathoe of the Water Temple, arrives at Castle Blackmoss. She is one of Duke Rana’s sponsors, and much involved in Four Cities temple politics. She takes a great interest in Silas’s involvement in Acanthus Rho’s project. She also brings with her two slaves who she gives to Acanthus Rho to aid in his work – Aris & Oriah.

Week of the Scorpion, MY 269

All have recovered from their various difficulties and are ready to venture once more to Barrowmaze. As they make ready to depart, they learn that Acanthus Rho has departed the Castle on an errand of his own in the South and may be some time. He has left Lady Olathoe in charge of the Barrowmaze project in his absence.

Returning to the Barrow Fields, the party finds that new guardians have been set at the central mound – shrouded, skeletal corpses tethered by spectral chains that sink into the ground. These Coffer Corpses prove quite formidable, for they cannot be put down by any normal means – when slain, they spring back to life in moments. Only Vydar’s Gauntlet of Palantis seems able to sever the spectral chains that bind them. Klondya believes that the creatures are linked to a physical focus – perhaps a funerary jar or other relic – in the possession of a master within the dungeon. Forced to retreat, the party enters the dungeon through their usual route, the hidden stair in Mound #11.

The group decide to follow Silas’s advice to seek out the Master of the Dungeon, which he believes can be found in the Southwestern corner of the map. They methodically explore each door they know of that leads south from the central East-West corridor. At first, they meet little real opposition, only strange phenomena:

A pit trap in which nothing ever hits the bottom – it is filled with impenetrable shadows 10’ down, and nothing dropped in seems to strike a solid floor. They suspect it may teleport or disintegrate things that fall in. This proves useful when an acidic, watery mass comes flowing out of a crack in one of the tomb-niches.

A hidden secret crypt that seems to hold the remains of people who resisted the rise of King Nergal’s Archons. Most were seemingly scholars and bureaucrats, but two remarkable individuals are entombed at the end of the crypt – a warrior woman in silver and white, and a black-clad sorcerer. They retrieve the armor, shield, axe, and spellbook from these bodies for their own use.

The worm-infested remains of two thieves, pinned to the wall of a room by crude spears. They appear to have been tortured and disemboweled.

They deal with another of the acidic oozes, this one infesting a wall-tomb full of scroll-case-like reliquaries. Aris is badly burned on his legs by the creature as he attempts to reach a gem that glitters in the reliquary sockets. His boots are ruined as well.

Venturing deeper into this area, they discover a number of dangerous hidden chambers along with signs that the thieves may have entered them and then fled in terror. The most forbidding of these also holds a sort of “lobotomized” air elemental that Silas is able to commune with. It warns him away from the door and conveys vague concepts of cold and stars.

Another hidden area holds three skeletons wired into niches in the wall, and a counterweighted pedestal holding a stack of coins and a strange black stone. Aris & Klondya unravel the danger – the trap is meant to seal would-be thieves into the chamber with the black stone, which slowly steals the life from them until they fall into dust, changed to spectral undead. They carefully take the jewelry from the skeletons but leave the treasure on the pedestal behind.

The last area in this section holds a fallen skeletal body that seems to be haunted by an angry spirit, which screams horribly and bombards Aris with thrown crockery. Nearby, another cobweb-choked tomb proves deadly, as Dopey is asphyxiated by virulent mold spores.

Moving on to the other unexplored Southern door in their area, they discover that this one too has been nailed shut. It seems that other explorers found whatever lurks in the Southern reaches of this area too dangerous to confront. They press on regardless, and find three more worm-riddled dead thieves beyond. Some of the ghoulish undead berserkers lurk nearby, but the party detect the intended ambush and make short work of them. They learn that the ghouls likely came out of a tunnel that opens in the side of a pit nearby.

They now see beyond the pit a strange glowing multi-colored mist fills the corridor. It is seething with elemental power, and seemingly appeared in response to their approach. While Klondya and Hanah climb into the pit and inspect the tunnel – a low, apparently hand-dug twisting burrow, Silas approaches the mist to inspect it more closely.

It is then that a chilling apparition confronts them – in a side niche, a carpet of squirming grave-grubs coalesce into two human-like figures that approach the party, forbidding them to proceed and gesturing menacingly. Clondya invokes her power to command undead and forces the creatures to parlay, but she cannot deter them from forbidding the party to go any further. They call themselves the Children of Gaxx, chosen beings blessed by Nergal to do his bidding until the time of his ascension. Clondya can sense that they are powerful beyond any other undead you have encountered (save two others only Clondya has met). The party wisely choose to retreat…

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

TREASURE: 1440 XP + ???

Cash-convertible

  • 97 ep = 19.4 gp
  • 350 sp = 35 gp
  • 30 gp
  • Diamond, 80 gp
  • Platinum circlets (3), 250 gp each = 750 gp
  • Pearl necklaces (3), 75 gp each = 225 gp
  • White jade idol of the four-faced god, 300 gp

Do you want to sell these?

  • Glorious Armor, 1200 gp ?
  • Glorious Shield, 600 gp ?
  • Antlered Axe, 1800 gp ?
  • Book of Spiders, no offer, could try to find a buyer with downtime

COMBAT: 1025 XP

  • 4x Coffer Corpse (party defeated) = 800 x ¼ = 200
  • 2x Grey Ooze (evaded) = 480 x ½ = 240
  • Poltergeist (party fled) = 50 x ¼ = 12
  • 4x Unworthy Ghoul = 240
  • 2x Child of Gaxx (inconclusive) = 1000 × 1/3 = 333

INTERACTION: 300 XP (Aris +150, Vydar +50)

  • Tricks & Traps 300 (Aris +150)
  • Vydar the Knight (Vydar +50)

CHECKPOINTS: 200 XP

  • First Defeat: 200 XP

OVERALL XP TOTAL = 2965 base, Vydar +50, Aris +150

Split 4 ways = 741 per PC

  • Clondya, Silas = 741 × 1.1 = 815
  • Aris = 741+150 x 1.1 = 980

    • Oriah 25% share = 245
    • Aris 75% share = 735
  • Vydar = 741+50 x 1.05 = 831

    • Tembo 25% share = 208
    • Vydar 75% share = 623

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

Dopey & Doc have died.

Hanah has received the Antlered Axe.

Clondya has claimed a book full of spiders, which she must spend a downtime action to unlock the contents of.

The party has suffered its first defeat in battle.

Acanthus Rho is On Mysterious Errands. Where has he gone, and when will he return?

Vydar is Under Suspicion. The Duke’s men seem ill-disposed toward his change in habits and his preaching of the beneficent Palantis’s creed.

Olathoe has taken A Disturbing Interest in Silas’s adventures. How much does she suspect about what he has learned regarding the elemental forces at work in Barrowmaze?

As you return to Castle Blackmoss, a heavy wet snow begins. This will make travel in the swamps difficult for at least a little while.

Aris needs to buy some new shoes. Perhaps a visit to the Trading Barge in Slowbrook, or to Vegt the Cobbler in Helix is in order?

Oriah sees the necessity in the Glorious Armor, but is disgruntled by its ostentatious design. Perhaps it should be replaced with something more utilitarian…

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Session Seven - October 22nd 2017
Gauntlets & Gargoyles

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 7, October 22nd 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Julian (Vydar), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Ryan (Mynes)

Bronzeday, Week of the Drunkard, MY 269

After resting for several hours, the party sets off northward to where Silas has scryed for the location of Clondya. They choose to bypass a side passage that might lead to one of the “places of power” Silas detected earlier, and enter a large pillared chamber with a large pile of refuse, bones, and rubble in the middle. The walls are daubed with snake cult symbols in yellow paint. A giant rattlesnake, also painted with cult signs, guards the chamber and nearly does in Mynes before it is slain. A search of the chamber finds little of interest, although a purse containing a number of valuable gems does turn up in the rubble pile.

Pressing onward, they pass a side hall with one of the locked “skull doors” that they have seen elsewhere, but don’t stop. Listening at the next door, they hear sounds of a fight in the distance. Vydar quickly discusses a plan of attack with the party, and they move through the door ready to ambush whoever lies beyond. The first thing they come upon, though, are a group of frightened rabble – Helix ruffians in the employ of the snake cult, some of the same ones Vydar frightened yesterday. The tomb robbers throw themselves on the mercy of the party.

According to the tomb robbers, they were drugged at a roadhouse outside Helix and found themselves being led through the dungeon by men in cult robes. They have been forced to serve as bearers and scouts for the cultists ever since – for several days at least, although they are not sure. Their cultist masters were ambushed by a group of other cultists, savage berserkers who the party suspect are the Red Maw cult. The tomb robbers fled from the melee and hid here, trying to figure out how to escape the dungeon.

The party scouts ahead, towards the sounds of battle. Warned of a pit trap by the tomb robbers, they skirt it and make sure nothing is lurking in side passages, before coming to a grand hallway where a standoff proceeds between two groups. Nearer to the party, several wild-looking half-naked cultists and some strange charred zombies – at the far end of the hall, some Writhing Serpent acolytes and their venomous zombies. As the scouts plan their attack, a cold wind blows through the hall and a bewildered Clondya suddenly appears between the two opposing forces!

THE DEATH OF MYNES

A three-way battle ensues, as the main party fights to get through the Red Maw forces towards Clondya as she tries to fend off the zombies each force sends after her. Thanks to the Serpent Circlet, she is able to take control of the Venomous Zombies and send them back into the ranks of the Snake Cult, putting them to flight, but the Red Maw turn out to be dangerous combatants – while they have trouble hurting the heavily armored Vydar, their zombies are much more dangerous than the Venomous Zombies. The strange charred zombies are fast, and as the party soon discover they burst into raging flames when damaged, damaging anyone nearby!

Vydar, Mynes, and Clondya soon put down the Red Maw, and Vydar rushes to pursue the last fleeing Snake Cultist. The straggler burning zombies claim an unfortunate victim, as Mynes’ luck at last runs out and he is slain by the roaring conflagration on legs that shambles toward him before it can be killed.

Assessing the situation, the party reclaims a few small coin purses from the cultists’ remains, but Vydar’s pursuit of the fleeing Snake Cult priest quickly leads to a web-filled room that he chooses not to enter.

CHAPEL OF PASSING INTO DEATH

The group decide that they should withdraw – without their thief and deep in unexplored areas of the Barrowmaze, the danger is too great to press onward. Falling back the way they came, they come to the side passage with the skull-faced door. Magical examinations suggest that the door is locked but not warded, and that some magical power lies beyond. They press one of the tomb-robbers, a nervous lad named Hapel “Happy” Duckwort, into service as a lock-whisperer. And after long fiddling about with the rotating mechanism of the door lock, seemingly without avail… it suddenly unlocks.

Within they find a chapel, with frescoes depicting the same world of death as seen elsewhere. Five grim god-figures look on from the wall behind a simple altar table on which rests a steel dish or plate. The figures seem to be representations of Nergal and his 4 Archons – skull-headed Nergal, Lion-headed Imhotep, Vulture-headed Moniphine, Snake-headed Ram-Seth, and Jackal-headed Osric. In front of the altar, a pit sits in the floor, its stone cover broken and a dead man in snake cult robes lying among spikes at the bottom.

Exploration yields little else of note. The dead body has no treasure or clues, and magical examination reveals only that a great many dead spirits have been sealed within the stone beneath the altar, bound by elemental magic and almost completely “digested” into identity-less necromantic remnants.

When they touch the plate on the altar, a voice rasps “Make a worthy gift and receive our wisdom.” They experiment with placing a few coins on the plate, which glows slightly, but there is no other effect and they decide to leave. As the last of them exit the side hallway, a click is heard – the door has re-locked itself.

THE CHAMBER OF REPOSE & THE WAY OUT

The group returns to the pillared chamber with the rubble pile, which they now believe was a “chamber of repose” where remains would be held prior to interment in a crypt. They organize a thorough search of the room and the rubble, but find little new. Investigating the other door out of the room, they confirm what they had suspected – it leads, via a short series of connecting chambers, to the exit at Mound #15. They have their exit route.

Before they leave, though, Silas wants to investigate the “place of power” he scryed just east of their current location.

THE LEGIONS YIELD

As they complete their exploration, a patrol of skeletal legionaries approach form the south corridor. Advancing on the party, they stop at the intersection where Silas wanted to go. The leader nods to Clondya, and the troop marches away to the east! Clondya explains – relating that she was taken by Osric who extracted a promise from her to attack the Snake Cult in return for the Legions leaving her party unmolested. Nervously, the party moves east down the hall where the skeletons departed…

VISIONS OF THE GARGOYLE KING

They soon come to an intersection, where two corridors head north and south and the east corridor continues towards a northerly bend. To the north, they can see some doors set into deep niches in the wall, and two large glass statues of warrior women flanking the last of these. Beyond this, the corridor ends amid a number of side doors, outside which the skeletal legionaries stand guard. To the south, a long chamber opens, its floor scattered with rubble, a giant stone head in the form of a crowned skull amidst the rubble.

They decide that the room with the statue head seems less immediately scary, and enter. They find little of interest, although it seems that some sort of violent battle must have taken place here long ago. Silas uses his elemental powers to try to learn more, and sees a vision of two huge beings of stone battling each other: a winged and horned gargoyle some 30’ tall, and a living statue of Nergal of somewhat lesser size. Both were terribly wounded – the gargoyle’s right arm was torn off and thrown into the distance; and the statue was cracked and maimed even before the vision ended with its head being torn off. Silas believes that this battle took place only partially in the material world – it was a struggle occurring also within the Dragon Lines. The gargoyle must have been an extremely powerful elemental.

THIS ISN’T A DOOR

Moving on to investigate – carefully – the various doors, the party’s new designated door-examiner Happy deftly avoids the traps in front of them, but then discovers… “Hey, guys, I don’t think this is a door…”. All three doors are fakes, clearly meant to bait explorers into the pit traps that are in front of them. Which definitely makes those glass statues suspicious…. and in fact, the statues’ heads turn to watch the party as they approach. Whatever is down that third niche that the two statues guard must be important. Also, they don’t look like the rest of the statuary around here – they’re warrior women, in an art style that Silas dimly recognizes as being associated with the remote city-state of Ironhold.

THE GAUNTLET OF PALANTIS

As they carefully approach the statues, Silas attempts to reach out to them magically. If they are elementals of some kind, perhaps he can control them or at least negotiate with them. But no! They react violently, stepping from their niches and advancing with razor-sharp hands to attack. Worse yet, they are difficult to hurt and when they ARE harmed glass shards spatter those nearby. The reflections of lights in their moving forms are dazzling. Something has to be done, or they’ll make short work of the adventurers.

Brave Vydar trusts in his heavy armor, dashing past the statues and braving their attacks as he runs into the chamber they guarded. While the rest of the party tries to keep the statues occupied, he sees a polished steel gauntlet set on a low pedestal, illuminated in a shaft of light. An inscription reads: “Those who would follow the path of the hero and take up the cause of fallen Palantis must be humble and brave. Approach with reverence, pilgrim.”

Thinking quickly, Vydar ducks low and approaches the pedestal on hands and knees. It’s wise to do so – when he takes the gauntlet from the pedestal, immense circular spinning blades roar across the chamber at chest height!

Donning the gauntlet, which begins to glow and hum with a high, keening note, he returns to the hallway. The gauntlet’s whine reaches a terrible crescendo, and the statues shatter into dust. Vydar is overcome with a strange emotion – a sense of purpose and righteous determination.

At the end of the hallway, the doors to the tombs open and the captain of the skeleton patrol looks on dispassionately. His troops form up and stand ready.

The party decides it is time to leave.

RETURN TO CASTLE BLACKMOSS

The group makes its way back to Castle Blackmoss without incident. They offer the tomb robbers a choice – return home, where the snake cult will probably find them and punish them, or join the work gangs at Castle Blackmoss. They also contemplate what they should do with their treasures and how much to tell Acanthus Rho about their latest adventures.

It is the beginning of the Week of the Dowager.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

TOTAL = 3860 for sure, +2500 if you accept AR’s offer for the Gauntlet.

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

TREASURE: 1636 XP + ???

  • 6 jewels – 10+25+50+100+500+750= 1435
  • Red Maw treasure (coins) – 183
  • Snake cult treasure (coins) – 18 gp
  • Gauntlet of Palantis – !!! – 2500 gp offer

You also have the following treasure left from the previous session (this will not count toward this session’s XP total, it is included for convenience)

  • Jewelry from plague-cursed, 9 pieces, total 1830 gp
  • Coin purse, 230 gp
  • Lady’s ring, 800 gp
  • Silver & other valuables stripped from ornate door, 1000 gp
  • Blue gauntlets, ??? – offer 600 gp from Acanthus Rho
  • Runic tablets (#5, #9) ??? – offer 200 gp each
  • Scroll case containing devotional chants to “Nergal, Lord of Life In Death”, !!!, offer 800 gp
  • Locket containing note from Moniphine of Shin-Tal to a young nobleman of the Court of the Eastern Gate, ???, no offer.

Items with ??? indicate that this item is rare, unusual, or difficult to appraise. To get full value for it, you will need to invest Downtime Actions in finding a buyer. However, some of these items may also have magical properties useful to you or provide valuable clues, so be cautious! Acanthus Rho may offer to purchase these items from you, but his offer is probably slightly or even seriously below what you could potentially get.

Items marked with !!! invoke Acanthus Rho’s first refusal clause. He will insist on purchasing them from you if he is told about them. His offer will probably be fair or even generous, but what is his motive?

COMBAT: 2165 XP

  • Cult rattlesnake 400
  • 8 tomb robbers (surrendered) 140
  • 1 snake cult priest (fled) 150
  • 3 snake cult acolytes 225
  • 4 venomous zombies 200
  • 1 Red-Marked Priest 300
  • 3 Maw Acolytes 300
  • 4 Burning Ones 300
  • 2 crystal guardians 150

INTERACTION: 125 XP (Clondya +50, Vydar +25)

  • Tomb Robbers rescued safely – 50 XP
  • Tomb Robbers recruited – 50 XP
  • Happy becomes a scout – 25 XP

    • Happy has revealed a Talent – Door Knocker. When Happy examines a door, he can identify whether it is locked, trapped, false, or otherwise unusual. He gains a bonus to opening locks and disarming mechanisms.
  • Clondya’s adventure – +50 XP to Clondya
  • Vydar in hot pursuit – +25 XP to Vydar

CHECKPOINTS: 350 XP (Clondya/Vydar/Silas +50, Ryan +100)

  • Red Maw Cult encountered – 50 XP
  • Visions of the Gargoyle King – 50 XP
  • The Gauntlet of Palantis – 100 XP
  • The Chapel of Passing Into Death – 100 XP
  • Osric & Breena – 50 XP
  • First PC Death – +50 per surviving PC, +100 to new PC

OVERALL XP TOTAL = 4276 base, Silas +50, Vydar +75, Clondya +100

Split 3 ways = 1425 per PC

  • Clondya = 1425+100 x 1.1 = 1678
  • Silas = 1349+50 x 1.1 = 1623
  • Vydar = 1349+50 x 1.05 = 1575

Ryan’s new character can start at ½ the XP of the highest-XP PC (after applying this session’s XP gains), rounded up. Alternatively, he can choose to adopt an existing NPC, who will likely start at a somewhat lower XP total but will have some additional special abilities.

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

Grumpy, Dopey, and Sneezy are all available to hire as men at arms.

The other 5 tomb robbers (Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Happy, Snow) are available to hire as flunkies.

  • Sneezy (F) is allergic to dungeon molds, and reduces the party’s stealth while in the dungeon (more random encounters will occur)
  • Bashful (M) has Morale 3 unless in a group of 7 or larger (his Morale is +3 in that case). His Morale is not affected by pay or equipment modifiers.
  • If Sleepy (M) is placed on lookout or guard duty, or is used to scout, monsters and traps have a much higher chance of surprise. He always goes last in the initiative order on the first round of combat.
  • Grumpy (M) imposes a -1 Morale penalty on the entire party.
  • Snow (F) has a talent – Animal Buddies. Small harmless animals think she is the bee’s knees. They like being around her, want to please her, and can even communicate with her a little – although they’re still just animals and not too bright.
  • Happy (M) has a talent – Door Knocker. He can detect the nature of doors, door locks, trapped doors, etc. He also has a bonus to unlocking them or disarming their mechanisms.
  • Doc (M) has a talent – Rub Some Dirt On It. Once per battle, Doc can get a Taken Out character back in the fight by using an action. The character is set to 1 HP and can act normally.
  • Dopey is extremely gullible and thinks the PCs are super cool. He’ll pretty much do whatever you tell him to, no matter how foolish it might seem. Treat him as having Morale 11 in all situations, regardless of modifiers.

The Legions of Barrowmaze seem to be leaving you alone.

Clondya has made a Fateful Pact.

Vydar has acquired the Gauntlet of Palantis. It has imbued him with a newfound sense of purpose.

Silas has been Marked by the Master. A powerful elemental entity within Barrowmaze has sensed his presence and may attempt to communicate with him.

Yaromir has learned what he came here to learn about himself. He will depart the area and no longer be available to hire.

Ulf has gained confidence in the party and enjoyed his adventures with you. He has decided to come out of retirement and become a 1st-level Fighter. He will now cost a ½ share to hire as a Retainer.

Dells has had another taste of the dungeon life and regrets his decision to venture into the dark again. He wants to take his money and go see if he can find a wife. He is no longer available to hire.

Tembo is inclined to follow Dell’s example, but he is also inspired by the party’s bravery. You can choose to encourage him to settle down, or call upon the bonds of shared experience.

  • encourage him to settle down: Tembo becomes a town-bound hireling like Marla. He can still be enticed to adventure with an offer of a ¼ share on an adventure-by-adventure basis, but he cannot be hired as a man at arms.
  • call upon the bonds of shared experience: Choose a PC who makes an overture to Tembo. That PC may sacrifice 50% of this session’s XP gained to turn Tembo into a 1st-level Fighter Companion. A Companion is a full character who is personally loyal to the PC. They get a minimum of 25% of that character’s share of experience for adventures they go on, and the PC may choose to give them additional XP, up to 50%.
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Session 6 - September 24th 2017
The Lady Vanishes

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 6, September 24th 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Julian (Vydar), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Ryan (Mynes)

Week of the Frog, MY 269

Hanah & Vydar are treated for Nergal’s Curse, but the treatment can only arrest the progress of the disease – it is not cured. To cure it, Acanthus Rho says he needs a sample from the undead horrors that inflicted it.

Mynes spends his time researching Klexx the Maligned. At first his progress is slow, since he must send to libraries in the City of Water and Ironhold for answers to some basic questions. But by the end of the week he has some good leads – leads that point right back to Castle Blackmoss!

Clondya recovers from her exertions and works to unlock more secrets of the Crystal of Continual Light, while Silas consults with a correspondent in the Temple of the Elements, hoping to understand the elemental corruption that infests Barrowmaze.

Week of the Ox, MY 269

Vydar is feeling better, and goes off to spend some of his plunder in the roadhouses of the Viaduct, but apparently his reputation has preceded him and he gains little new notoriety.

Hanah goes home to visit her family and recover from her illness.

Mynes’ researches are completed, revealing the story of Horus Klexx and his execution.

Silas attempts to build on his research with another scrying of the Barrowmaze. He beholds the Pit of Chaos, a seething wound punched straight through the world, the Shroud, and the Elemental Sea into the Outer Dark. This is what all the elemental workings here must be in service of – holding this horror open, bleeding corrupted power into the world. It is an utter blasphemy.

Clondya continues her studies.

Tinday, Week of the Drunkard, MY 269

The party returns to Barrowmaze – without Hanah, but with some old friends as Tembo and Dells have decided to return. Entering the Barrowfields, they see signs that two groups of humans have had a battle near Mound #15 (the hole in the floor entrance) recently – perhaps 30-40 people total between the groups. Their secret entrance remains undisturbed.

Within the Barrowmaze, they again see some signs of the mysterious “cleanup crew” in action – rubble has been neatly stacked, bloodstains removed from the floor, bodies absent.

Proceeding to the crypt where the diseased undead were entombed, they make use of the tower shields acquired for this purpose – trapping most of the creatures in their funeral niches until Vydar can destroy them. There are a few tense moments, but all 4 are defeated with no harm coming to the party. A rich haul of jewelry is recovered from the deliquescent remains, along with the needed samples to cure Nergal’s Curse.

Spirits buoyed by their easy victory, the party continues their explorations. They discover signs that another group has been exploring the dungeon – bricked-up archways recently knocked down and the bodies of four cultists stashed in a tomb – one of whom Dells recognizes from Helix! He is Grigor, a laborer from the Vineyards. This is the estate of Madame Rayburn, who is working with the snake cult and the Sons of the Swamp.

They also find a strange skeleton-decorated door with a lock that has recently been used. Mynes rigs the lock, leaving whoever it is hopefully locked in while they explore further. Pressing on westward, they come upon another of those slate-floor pit traps which they carefully edge around using the tower shields as catwalks. Beyond they find a tomb given over to many tiny niches which Mynes believes were meant to house the remains of pets – but all are bare and empty. Nearby, a door awaits, but as Vydar and Tembo breach it they are surprised to find another group of explorers on the other side, about to do the same!

The tomb robbers flee in panic, pursued by Vydar & Tembo, but they quickly outdistance the heavily-armored warriors. Concerned about the noise attracting danger and the possibility of an ambush, the party retreats, spikes the door shut, and moves on. They have concluded, though, that the area beyond must be quite close to the area reachable from Mound #15.

The group return to the locked door to see what might lay beyond. They hear a faint sound through the door and fearing undead ask Clondya to peer through the Shroud to see what it might be. She does so, but again feels the eyes of whatever it is that commands Barrowmaze’s dead upon her. Beyond the door, she senses several daemonic undead, creatures cursed with unquenchable hungers for flesh and sensation. She drives them away with the Banishment, but they are still lurking in nearby tombs.

Opening the door, they find a long hallway elaborately decorated with skull and skeleton motifs. A decorative archway depicts skeletal figures representing all the many classes and ranks of Gaxxic society climbing stairways leading to the keystone of the archway, where they march into the yawning mouths of the four-faced skull that seems to be a recurring motif in the Barrowmaze.

On the other side of the archway, tomb doors line the sides of the corridor, the hungry undead waiting within. Battle is joined, and quickly goes in favor of the party. The creatures are ferocious, and the wounds they inflict with their filthy nails send a surge of strange sensations through Vydar, but he is able to fight it off. The tombs are utterly wrecked, and almost everything of value has been destroyed, but the party does recover a runic tablet and a set of strange blue-green gauntlets.

The runic tablet gives some pause – these black-painted clay tablets bear hidden messages that are revealed by rubbing off the black paint that covers them, but often those messages are curses meant to strike down unwary tomb robbers. Other stories, though, tell of tablets that contain secrets of sorcery or bestow magical powers on those who decipher them.

As they are searching the tombs, Yaromir spots a diminutive figure slipping out of one of the doors further down the hall and scuttling away. He gives choice, but the creature has a good head start. It doesn’t save the creature, though. Vydar emerges from the tomb and strikes it down with a fatal arrow. It proves to be another of the mongrel mutants like Stinky.

In one of the other tombs, the only one that seems to be unopened (due to a stuck door), they discover a half-dozen shambling, mindless walking corpses – the unquiet dead of Barrowmaze. The creatures are stupid and not that hard to destroy, but their numbers in the close quarters allow them to overwhelm Dells and Vydar before they can all be dealt with – the fallen warriors are rescued before they die, but it was a close call. Interestingly, although Clondya twice attempts to Banish the undead, her powers seem to be weakening. The dark presence draws closer…

While searching the remaining tombs, a single stray venomous zombie approaches from the south. It is quickly dealt with, but its presence suggests that the snake cult may be near…

In the tombs, they find some mostly ruined and despoiled remains, but a few valuable items do come to light. They find another runic tablet, a case full of devotional chants addressed to “Nergal, Lord of Life in Death”, a vial of strange brown liquid that seems to grant a form of Silas’ astral projection ability, and a locket within which is a tiny folded note addressed to some minor nobleman written by Moniphine of Shin-Tal – Klexx the Maligned’s duplicitous wife.

At the end of the corridor, a huge ironbound door decorated with elaborate silver and brass patterns awaits, a locking mechanism set into the center of it. It is not clear how it could be opened. Silas senses some kind of warding magic built into the door – it may be dangerous to tamper with the lock or attempt to break through. As Vydar and the men begin to strip the decorative silverwork from the door, Clondya considers stepping into the Shroud to see if she can sense what lies beyond the door or perhaps counteract whatever enchantment has been placed here. She does so….

And does not return. The group waits for some time, but it becomes clear that something has happened to the sorceress. Silas uses the potion in an attempt to search for her astrally, but all he can do is follow her traces north and west for some distance before the potion wears off and he is snapped back into his body. Unwilling to abandon Clondya to her fate, the party decides that they will fortify themselves in the chamber once occupied by Stinky and the mutants to rest while Silas uses the “interference-free zone” of Klexx’s tomb to attempt a more prolonged scrying.

The scrying does allow him to trace Clondya further. She seems to be located in an octagonal chamber, well to the north, near the Pit of Chaos. His scrying suggests a route by which the area could be reached, but what dangers might await? And what HAS become of Clondya?

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

  • Jewelry from plague-cursed, 9 pieces, total 1830 gp
  • Coin purse, 230 gp
  • Lady’s ring, 800 gp
  • Silver & other valuables stripped from ornate door, 1000 gp
  • Blue gauntlets, ??? – offer 600 gp from Acanthus Rho
  • Potion of elemental visions, ??? (used)
  • Runic tablets (#5, #9) ??? – offer 200 gp each
  • Scroll case containing devotional chants to “Nergal, Lord of Life In Death”, !!!, offer 800 gp
  • Locket containing note from Moniphine of Shin-Tal to a young nobleman of the Court of the Eastern Gate, ???, no offer.

Items with ??? indicate that this item is rare, unusual, or difficult to appraise. To get full value for it, you will need to invest Downtime Actions in finding a buyer. However, some of these items may also have magical properties useful to you or provide valuable clues, so be cautious! Acanthus Rho may offer to purchase these items from you, but his offer is probably slightly or even seriously below what you could potentially get.

Items marked with !!! invoke Acanthus Rho’s first refusal clause. He will insist on purchasing them from you if he is told about them. His offer will probably be fair or even generous, but what is his motive?

TOTAL = 3860 for sure, +1800 if you accept AR’s offers.

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

TREASURE: 3860 XP + ???

COMBAT: 1135 XP

  • 4 plague-cursed huecuva 600 XP
  • 6 tomb robbers (fled) 30 XP
  • 6 unworthy vessels 360 XP
  • 6 unquiet zombies 90 XP
  • 1 Grr-Woof-Nub 20 XP
  • 1 venomous zombie 35 XP

INTERACTION: 0 XP (Silas +50, Vydar +50, Mynes +50)

  • Silas desperately uses the potion, 50 XP bonus
  • Vydar recklessly pursues the tomb robbers, 50 XP bonus
  • Mynes continues to be absolute rubbish at rolling dice, 50 XP bonus

CHECKPOINTS: 400 XP

  • Connected to Mound #15 entrance, 50 XP
  • Snake Cult connected to Helix, 100 XP
  • Clondya Snatched!, 300 XP + 100 bonus for Clondya
  • Silas sees the Pit of Chaos! +150 XP

OVERALL XP TOTAL = 5395 base, Silas +50, Vydar +50, Clondya +100, Mynes +50, additional sold items +???

  • Split 4 ways = 1349 per PC

    • Clondya = 1349+100 x 1.1 = 1594
    • Silas = 1349+50 x 1.1 = 1539
    • Vydar = 1349+50 x 1.05 = 1469
    • Mynes = 1349+50 x 1.05 = 1469

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

Clondya has been taken by some ghostly force that seems to command the skeletal legions you have encountered. She is alive, and you & she will find out what has happened to her.

You have the samples that Acanthus Rho will need to cure Nergal’s Curse.

You have learned that tomb robbers from Helix – at least some of whom are from the estate of the noble who is harboring the snake cult – are actively exploring the area.

These tomb robbers seem to have had at least one confrontation with another group hostile to them.

Someone has a key to the locked area you found, and they seem likely to be associated with the snake cult.

 

 

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Session Five - August 27th 2017
Tombs and Tall Tales

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 5, August 27th 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Julian (Vydar), Brett (Clondya the Pale), Ryan (Mynes)

Week of the Rooster, MY 269

While Clondya transcribes spells from the scrolls found last time into her spellbook and studies the working of the crystal of continual light in order to better control it, Mynes & Vydar go out on the town in Helix and Slowbrook as well as some of the other nearby settlements, spreading the word of their adventures and exploits. Mynes’ stories are better received than the taciturn Vydar’s.

However, they do learn more about what’s going on with the Sons of the Swamp and the attempt on the Duke’s life at the New Year’s Progress. It seems the locals are less unwilling to talk about the Sons of the Swamp now that the Duke’s men are hunting them down; they reveal that the Sons have mostly stopped extorting protection money from local merchants and farmers, but they’re hiding out at the estate of one Madame Eliza Rayburn outside Helix. A foreign-looking woman and a man they think is her servant are also staying there. Vydar & Mynes share this information with Duke Rana, who seems quite pleased – it also seems that he has a grudge against Madame Rayburn over something.

Silas spends the week sending messengers to the City of Water’s agents at Slowbrook in search of specialized swimming and diving gear to use in the swamps. His inquiries bear fruit, but prove somewhat expensive. 5 sets of diving gear will be delivered sometime in the Week of the Frog.

Copperday-Tinday, Week of the Moth, MY 269

After recruiting some new hirelings with the help of Mygdo Keelish, the party returns to the Barrow Fields. With the scary tales told by Dells and Tembo about their expedition with the party, it seems that Keelish is having to send further afield to find recruits, and many of those he does find are foreigners who are unfamiliar with the reputation of the Barrowmaze.

The party hire Marla Ironthighs, a pretty and ferocious-seeming mercenary; Yaromir, a tribesman from the Icewind Steppes on a quest for meaning with his pet squirrel; Ulf the Widower, a garrulous old Northman who tells lots of stories; and of course the loyal Hanah, whose improved skills have made her a valuable part of the team and earned her a half-share in the treasure.

On the way to the Barrowmaze, they stop at the campsite where the Serpent Cult had been encamped, finding it completely abandoned but with traps set among the abandoned refuse of the cult’s encampment. That night as they get ready to set watches, Ulf shares a scary tale of the Death Moth Queen, a supposed haunt that prowls wild places during the Week of the Moth, luring unwary travelers with its glowing red eyes in the dark. Hanah, inspired by the tale, sneaks out into the swamp with two torches and plays a prank on the first watch (Mynes and Marla) by making it appear that two red glowing eyes are out in the dark of the swamp.

Later that night, though, Vydar hears what seems to be a human scream from out in the swamp that is abruptly cut off. The next day, they find an empty skiff floating by the path. The occupant seems to have simply stepped out of the boat into the swamp, leaving all his supplies behind.

Bronzeday, Week of the Moth, MY 269

The group arrives at the Barrow Fields and descends into the necropolis via the hidden stair they located last time. They discover that the pit that claimed Kyra’s life has mysteriously become covered over by the sheet of stone that hid it before, and Silas’s elemental inquiries suggest that it has never been disturbed since it was placed here centuries ago. A thorough search of the room full of statues discovers no additional secrets or treasures, until it comes to an end as a pair of shambling, decrepit walking corpses approach from the North passage. These are quickly dispatched, proving to be much slower and less coordinated than the venomous zombies used by the Serpent Cult. These must be poor souls who died in the Barrowmaze and found no rest in death.

Once the zombies are dealt with, the group investigates the small chamber to the East of the stairs, where a pile of stacked bricks is all that remain of the bricked-up doorway. Careful searching shows that another bricked-up doorway is concealed by a thin coat of plaster, but a nest of giant red centipedes must be dealt with before it can be explored. Clondya’s new burning hands spell easily exterminates the many-legged horrors, and the party decides to explore elsewhere nearby before attempting the noisy work of breaking down the bricked-up doorway.

Moving North, the party discovers a long-dead body missing one leg slumped by another pile of bricks. Nearby graffiti reads “No more food. We should not have come.” Vydar hears noises behind the nearby door, and the party readies to ambush whoever is in there. That proves to be three diminutive, misshapen mutants with mismatched animal body parts. They are easily defeated, and one is captured alive – Stinky. They have amassed a small hoard of “shinies” nearby – many silver and copper coins plus a few small emeralds.

Interrogating Stinky about the dungeon, they learn that he and his deceased friends (Pickles and Meatboy) lived furtive existences in the necropolis, avoiding the patrols of undead and other unspecified dangers. Stinky seems to know little, but he does give some warnings about the doors to the West.

The party next begins searching an octagonal room filled with small burial niches. Most have been looted already, but those highest up the walls still hold some treasure. Before it can all be collected, though, a large troop of skeleton warriors approach from the West, led by an “officer” of sorts who orders them to the attack.

A pitched battle breaks out at the corridor intersection, with the skeletons forcing the group back with cunning tactical maneuvers and ferocious spear and sword strikes. Vydar and Yaromir nearly fall victim to the monsters before Clondya’s arcane might breaks their will and drives them back. The surviving skeletons retreat in good order, and then seem to receive new commands – they march away to the West. Clondya has sensed that a greater intelligence controls the skeletons and makes them hard to influence with her own magic.

Fortunately, a few swigs of strong drink see the wounded right again, but the worst casualty is Marla’s nerves. She has been growing increasingly frightened ever since the “Death Moth” story at camp the night before, and now she is almost useless with fear, reduced to simply keeping Stinky’s leash secure and carrying things. Clearly whatever her martial skills, she was not prepared for a place where the dead walk.

Thinking to do a little more exploring, the group erect a makeshift barricade across the corridor South of the intersection and break into the hidden chamber they detected earlier. Within is a large tomb with a massive black stone mausoleum in the center and many small urn niches in the walls, each with a coin and a black clay urn in it. Mynes examines the mausoleum, which proves to be decorated with an image of a man being tormented by wire hooks tearing his flesh and inscribed with curses promising eternal suffering to the occupant – one “Klexx the Maligned”. Mynes knows that name from his studies – he was a courtier of Gaxx who led an unsuccessful rebellion against King Nergal shortly before the Fall of the Green Star. The urns in the niches contain the remains of his accomplices, each with a scarred silver coin representing the “traitor’s price”. Twelve urns surrounding the doorway to the tomb lack this mark of shame – perhaps the remains of those who constructed the tomb and had to be killed so they could not reveal its location.

They consider breaking into the mausoleum, but with Marla’s shattered morale it seems unwise. Interestingly, Silas discovers that this tomb seems free of the dark magic that interferes with his elemental senses elsewhere in Barrowmaze, and he undertakes to scry for places of power nearby, getting a good sense of several directions and distances along with a general sense of what might be found there.

  • To the Southeast, moderately close, a diffuse region of strong elemental magic of all 4 prime elements, but commingled with the dark taint that seems endemic to Barrowmaze.
  • To the Northwest, moderately close, a source of non-elemental power, seemingly pure and bright, untainted by Barrowmaze.
  • To the South, somewhat distant, another non-elemental power, dark and malignant.
  • To the North, somewhat distant, elemental nodes of Earth and Water.
  • To the North, distant, a powerful source of chaotic and dark magic, the influence of the Outer Dark.
  • To the Northwest and Northeast, distant, a smattering of elemental sources – nodes or something similar.

They ask Stinky about the two doors in the East hallway, and he tells them that the mutants have not dared to loot them for “shinies.” One is haunted by a voice that growls and demands “blood and bones.” The other contains horrible undead things that stink of rot and disease. Undeterred, the party undertakes to raid these rooms. First, however, they must decide how to deal with the cat-sized gray moths that cling to the walls nearby. The moths don’t seem to be aggressive, but when approached they release a dust from their wings that appears to be a drug or poison of some kind.

They keep their distance from the moths at first, entering the closer of the two tombs in the East hall. As related by Stinky, a disembodied voice gives an animalistic growl and voices its demand… “blood and bones”. The tomb is in complete disarray, with fragments of bone scattered about the floor, some cracked as if to get at the marrow. It looks like all the burial niches have been torn apart to get at the contents. A little experimentation shows that whatever is haunting this crypt will attack whole bones, but not a living moth… probably not worth risking, though, so they close it back up.

Entering the next tomb, though, requires some attention to the moths. They drive them off with torches and fire, and then open the tomb. Within, several low niches hold wrapped bodies adorned with jewelry and show elaborate carvings of courtly life in ancient Gaxx. Stinky has warned them that the dead here do not rest, and this is proven when Vydar attempts to winkle out a bit of jewelry from the corpse nearest the door. An attempt is made to draw the creatures to the doorway, where they can be fought one by one – but all goes wrong when Vydar is grabbed by the throat, pulled forward into the room, and thrown to the floor. A desperate struggle ensues, with both Vydar and Hanah mauled by the creatures before the door is closed once more. The rewards are great, with valuable jewelry recovered… but Vydar and Hanah can feel a horrid disease already working within them where the creature’s bony hands touched them.

This being the last straw, the party withdraws to seek medical care for the injured and sick and count their haul.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

  • 1900 sp from mutant shinies 190
  • Emeralds from mutant shinies (75+100+200+400=775) 775
  • Jewelry from huecuva 610
  • Silver from traitor tombs 131
  • Platinum from octagon tomb (41) = 410

TOTAL = 2116 GP

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

TREASURE: 2116 XP

COMBAT: 915 XP

  • 2 Barrowmaze Zombies 60
  • 6 Giant Red Centipedes 60
  • 3 Barrowmaze Skeletons 60
  • 1 Barrowmaze Skeleton Lieutenant 30
  • 8 Barrowmaze Skeletons (turned) 80
  • 2 Mongrel Mutants [Pickles, Meatboy] 20
  • 1 Mongrel Mutant [Stinky] (defeated) 5
  • 2 Huecuva 300
  • 4 Huecuva (turned) 300
  • 6 Death Moths 300

INTERACTION: +25 XP to Hanah

  • Hanah receives 25 XP for her practical joke

CHECKPOINTS: 350 XP

  • Tomb of Klexx the Maligned Found 200
  • Legend of the Death Moth Queen 50
  • Camp 2 reclaimed 100

OVERALL XP TOTAL = 3381

  • Split 4.5 ways = 751 per PC, 375+25 for Hanah
  • Clondya, Silas = 826
  • Vydar, Mynes = 789
  • Hanah = 440

OTHER REWARDS/EVENTS

Duke Rana has learned who is sheltering his enemies in Helix. He will take action soon.

Vydar and Hanah have contracted the Curse of Nergal. This disease will cause them to lose CON each day until treated. When you return to Castle Blackmoss, each has already lost 2 CON.

You have hidden Stinky away in a shed near the swamp path that Keelish told you about. Marla volunteered to guard him – you can hire her or someone else, or delegate one of your PCs to do it.

You could also turn him over to Acanthus Rho – he was most interested in your description of the mutants. You suspect he would reward you.

Ulf and Yaromir are well-disposed toward you. While the adventure was dangerous and frightening, they respect your bravery and skill. You can hire them again.

Yaromir gained experience and revealed a talent. He has Die Hard – when reduced to 0 HP, he may take one action before being taken out.

Ulf gained experience and revealed a talent. He has Good Company – each time you camp for 4 or more hours, he can lift the party’s spirits with his stories, restoring 1 Morale to each NPC whose morale is less than his own. He gains 1 permanent base Morale.

Marla is frightened by what happened while adventuring. She does not want to return to Barrowmaze. However, she also is impressed with the party and will happily work for them as an agent in town or on missions. You can order Marla to undertake some Downtime Actions on your behalf while you are adventuring. She may regain her nerve in the future.

Dells has recovered his nerve. He is available to hire again.

Tembo has recovered his nerve. He is available to hire again.

You collected enough Death Moth Powder to create 6 doses of the drug. What it does is currently unknown.

 

 

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