Crypts of the Barrowmaze

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%.
View
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.

 

 

View
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.

 

 

View
Session Four - July 23rd 2017
Some Excavation, A Visitation, and a Defenestration

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 4, July 23rd 2017

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

Copperday, Week of the Young King, MY 269

The adventurers refuse an invitation to accompany Duke Rana on his progress through the settlements of Helbend to celebrate the New Year. They decide that it is more important to return to the Barrow Fields before the Snake Cult can recover from the blow they recently dealt to it than to curry favor with the Duke and possibly protect him from an assassination attempt or other action by the Sons of the Swamp. Gathering Hanah and Dells, along with the old duelist Kyla, the party travels into the swamps. They stop by to check on Camp Sweetwater, finding all in good order, but there are still sightings of mysterious boats near the camp in the night. Pressing on to Tower Island, they likewise find signs that a boat has been here, and a crude trap has been left at the top of the stair.

Observing from the top of the tower, they can see that the Snake Cult’s camp seems to have been abandoned. They see no signs of excavations or torch-bearing parties in the Barrow Fields by night.

Tinday, Week of the Young King, MY 269

Advancing to the Barrow Fields, they briefly encounter some rotted zombies beneath the waters of the swamp, but Clondya proves able to command them to depart. On the Barrow Fields, they begin examining mounds near the “places of power” that Silas had mapped during his astral venture. They also discover a Snake Cultist’s corpse, mutilated and hung from the top of the Stele. Signs of some sort of ritual dance appear near the base of the Stele, apparently made by both crab-like feet and bare human feet – the hyrakitoi! The sight (and the conversation that accompanies it) unnerves the hirelings.

Silas’s efforts to commune with the elementals and learn where the best places to excavate might be are frustrated – the elementals of this place are hostile and oppressive, impossible to communicate with. All he gets are glimpses of leering, demonic faces.

As they work at breaking into Mound #12, a Giant King Scorpion approaches, but they keep it at bay with arrows until another emerges from the fog and attacks it. It seems the creatures are very territorial. The scorpions depart into the fog, embattled. Breaking into the mound at last, they find a peaceful tomb that seems to be the last resting place of a craftsman. Beautiful and delicate painted jars are arrayed on shelves around the tomb. They carefully remove 21 jars and pack them away.

They next choose to excavate Mound #10, an endeavor that occupies much of the afternoon. Entering the tomb, they find two skeletal bodies atop wooden biers. As they search the cabinets under the biers for treasure, the skeletons attack and are soon defeated – but more approach from outside. Remarkably, Vydar holds them off almost single-handed while the others plunder the tomb, retrieving jewels, a silver knife, and a magical scroll. Unsettlingly, the attacking skeletons outside seemed to use intelligent tactics, and even stopped to apparently “receive new orders” from the direction of the Stele. They realize that the soil of the Barrow Fields is permeated with bone fragments, and that the sheer necromantic energies of the place might be capable of producing a nearly infinite supply of animated skeletons if roused to do so.

Exploring around the area in the last hours of daylight, they hear a bizarre and unsettling song from high above among the rain-clouds.

Examining Mound #6, they find it is uncovered, with its paired slab doors carved with bas-reliefs depicting lion-headed soldiers. An aura of menace seems to radiate from it. They decide not to attempt to enter. Retreating to the Fallen Tower, they make camp.

Late that night, they have a visitor… a hyrakitoi walks down through the air to their camp, and dances just outside the wards. They quickly discover that its song and gaze combine to bend the minds of those who are snared by them, causing them to attempt to leave the protection of the wards and approach the creature. They attempt to parlay with the creature, as Mynes can comprehend a little of its speech, but all that they can learn is that it seems to be curious about them, a new force that is disturbing the balance of powers at the Barrowmaze. It departs as it arrived, with the party little wiser but seriously frightened.

Ironday, Week of the Young King, MY 269

The party manage through dedicated efforts to restore at least some of the nerve of their hirelings, and venture back into the Barrow Fields. Today they venture into Mound #11, where they find a dusty and cobwebbed tomb with a large stone sarcophagus within. The sarcophagus has had a hole smashed into the top, and only withered remains are to be found within, but Mynes detects a hidden mechanism triggered by a switch among the carvings of dancing skeletons that ring the sides of the sarcophagus – the sarcophagus slides aside to reveal a stairway going steeply down, with footprints showing that it has recently been used.

Below, they enter the necropolis, finding surprisingly non-dusty corridors and a faint stench of rot. They explore for a while, finding little of interest until they enter a strangely-shaped room with several alcoves holding clay statues of animal-headed figures – perhaps some sort of Gaxxic household familiars? Several of the statues have had holes smashed into them, presumably by earlier tomb-robbers seeking hidden treasure, but one proves to contain a hidden lever that reveals a secret door when pulled. Rather than go further, they continue to search, but tragedy strikes when an undetected pit opens beneath Kyla, who falls to her death!

Chastened, the party resolves to withdraw from the Barrowmaze and return to Castle Blackmoss with Kyla’s body and their meager treasure.

 

 

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

  • 21 jars worth a combined 823 gp
  • Silver dagger worth 70 gp
  • Scroll with three spells worth 300 gp

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

COMBAT: 405 XP

  • 7 skeletons = 105 XP
  • 1 giant king scorpion (driven off) = 300 XP

TREASURE: 1193 XP

INTERACTION: 160 XP

  • Hyrakitoi 100 XP
  • Hirelings 60 XP

CHECKPOINTS: 150 XP

  • Discover “infinite skeletons” directed by intelligent force 100 XP
  • Find a new Barrowmaze entrance 50 XP

TOTAL XP

  • 1908 XP
  • divided 4 ways = 477 XP per PC
  • —after bonus experience for ability scores: Vydar, Mynes = 501; Clondya, Silas = 525

OTHER REWARDS AND UPDATES

Hanah has become a 1st-level Barbarian. You can hire her as a Retainer.

Dells is pretty worried about what happened this time, and doesn’t want to end up like Kyla. He will not be available to hire for your next adventure.

Tembo hears about what happened and is glad he didn’t get involved. He is not available to hire for your next adventure.

Thanks to Coran and Swamp Hoss, an attempt to release a clutch of deadly swamp vipers at the Duke’s Banquet in Helix was thwarted. Only a couple of kitchen staff were killed, but the perpetrators got away. Each of those characters gains 50 XP. Duke Rana has vowed to root out the Sons of the Swamp.

Acanthus Rho is frustrated by Duke Rana’s new devotion to hunting the Sons, as it is taking resources away from the viaduct project.

View
Session Three - June 25 2017
So Much Winning

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 3, June 25th 2017

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

Week of the Otter, MY 268

The adventurers rest and recover, each pursuing their own ends. Klondia recovers from her wounds and records a new spell, sleep, from a scroll into her spellbook. Vydar haunts the inns and roadhouses of Helix and Slowbrook, regaling the locals with tales of his adventures. And Silas negotiates with Acanthus Rho to use his Elemental arts and scout the Barrow Fields magically. Leaving his body, he flies through the Dragon Lines to the Barrow Fields, where he is able to learn much about the layout of the mounds and where items and places of power may be found. Rho is so pleased with this intelligence that he agrees to waive monthly maintenance costs and pay out a bounty.

Meanwhile, Mynes and Swamp Hoss are off doing some kind of mischief, and poor Coran is locked beneath the East tower, whence screams and other less wholesome sounds sometimes emanate. Acanthus Rho visits him often.

Copperday, Week of the Turtle, MY 268

Ready to dare the swamps again, the adventurers have asked Mygdo Keelish to help them find some likely hirelings. They dismiss one of the candidates he finds after catching him trying to peek up Klondia’s skirts, but hire 3 brave souls: Hanah, Dells, and Tembo. They pay to equip their hirelings well, boosting their spirits. The group heads into the swamp, spending the night at Camp Sweetwater, where the maddening chorus of the frogs saps the bravery of the hirelings, but all are still ready for action.

Tinday-Ironday, Week of the Turtle, MY 268

The group travels to the abandoned viaduct tower where they had encountered centipedes before, armed with a plan to clear them out using smoke and fire and Silas’s elemental abilities. While the plan is successful, it is also time-consuming. The party spend several days on the island working on it before they are able to reach the top of the tower. In the meantime, they detect a boat approaching the island by night, but they retreat and do not land.

Jewelday, Week of the Turtle, MY 268

Reaching the top of the tower, they can now get a good look at the Barrow Fields as well as Camp #3. They learn – as they suspected – that the Cult of the Writhing Serpent has occupied the camp in large numbers. By night, the cultist send teams into the Barrow Field, where they seem to be excavating buried mounds. During the night, though, something attacks the digging teams and the cultists retreat to their camp.

They also discover a dead body atop the tower, and after some searching they find treasure this person had attempted to hide before they died. Among the items is a small black onyx statuette of a hideous crab/woman creature, which Klondia recognizes as a little-understood breed of demon, the hyrakitoi of the Green Star. These horrid creatures have a hypnotic sensual power over humans, and seek out pain and depravity to feed upon.

Copperday, Week of the Smith, MY 268

The group stay one more day at the tower, spying on the cultist camp and the Barrow Fields, while they decide on next steps.

Tinday, Week of the Smith, MY 268

The group venture onwards to the island of the Slaughtergrove, where dead bodies are lashed to cypress trees surrounding a mound of fresh earth. The hirelings are terrified by the psychic screaming of the corpses, triggered when the perimeter is passed. They refuse to leave the boat.

Klondia steps into the shadows and can see what has happened here – there is a hideous demon maw where the mound of red earth sits within the circle of trees, and tormented souls slowly being devoured as their bodies rot away. This being must be a powerful demon, probably worshipped by a cult that is feeding it souls to bring it closer to our world.

Meanwhile, Vydar has found another of the onyx hyrakitoi under one of the trees where a nearly skeletonized body hangs. Further searches ultimately reveal 10 of the items. These are the “soul anchors” the cult must use to keep the souls of their victims bound to their bodies for the maw to feed upon.

The group resolve to destroy this place of evil, and begin cutting down the bodies, felling the trees, and creating a bonfire to scorch and scour the red earth mound. It takes until nearly dusk, but they are able to do so without further incident. As the blaze rises, though, all sense a terrible moaning bellow of pain and rage from under the earth. The thing that was worshipped here knows what they have done, and its hunger will not be so easily defeated. All feel a terrible dread that this is not over.

Later that night

The group camps at the Fallen Tower near the Barrow Field. As night falls, a band of Snake Cultists and a large number of zombies approach the Barrow Field. The party can easily eavesdrop on them while remaining hidden. Noting the pyre burning at the Slaughtergrove in the distance, the cultists debate what to do. Some want to retreat to their camp, others want to press on and continue their excavations, and yet others want to investigate the blaze and then decide.

It appears that the cult is on some kind of timeline: “the Mistress” will be displeased if they have not had results from their excavations in the next few days. On the other hand, they also fear the “Daughters of the Red Maw” who will surely be roused to action. Eventually, a small group of 4 cultists are sent into the swamp to investigate the fire, while the rest remain at edge of the Barrow Fields.

The party ambushes the cultist scouting party, making short work of them, and then return to the Fallen Tower. There, they are also able to get the drop on the rest of the cultists, taking most of them out before they even know what is happening. Klondia steals control of their zombies using the serpent circlet, and that is the end of all the cultists.

VICTORY!

The party returns to Castle Blackmoss to plan their next moves.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

  • 34.9 gp
  • hyrakitoi Soul Anchors (sold to Acanthus Rho)

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

COMBAT: 480 XP

  • 12 cultists 180 XP
  • 36 zombies (*0.5) = 300 XP

TREASURE: 954.9 XP

INTERACTION: 150 XP

  • Drive a hard bargain with Acanthus Rho 50 XP
  • Hirelings 100 XP

CHECKPOINTS: 550 XP

  • Clear Waystation Tower 100 XP
  • Destroy Slaughtergrove 250 XP
  • Strike a blow against the Snake Cult 150 XP
  • Discover Red Maw & hyrakitoi  50 XP

TOTAL XP

  • 2135 XP
  • divided 3 ways = 712 XP per PC
  • —after bonus experience for ability scores: Vydar = 748; Klondia, Silas = 783

OTHER REWARDS

Hanah has revealed a special talent (Tracker). She remains well-disposed to the group and in particular to Silas. If she survives one more expedition, she will be eligible to become a Retainer and a 1st-level Barbarian.

Tembo has gone home to think about what he experienced. He will not be available to hire for the next adventure, but might become available again.

Dells likes the money and thinks you are good employers, but all this supernatural stuff is pretty scary. His base morale has improved by +1. He now costs 1 gp as his base rate to hire. He has not yet revealed any special talents, nor is he eligible to become a Retainer.

Acanthus Rho is well-pleased with your progress and has agreed to waive your maintenance fees for the next 2 months. He is working on creating new warding totems from the cultist skulls you brought back with you.

DOWNTIME RESULTS for inactive characters

Mynes looked for Dishonest Work. He was very lucky, falling in with a crew of local toughs to redress some local vendetta in Helix – leaning on one rich toff to pay his debts to some other local Importance, somebody the rest of the gang just call “Ma’am”. It went so smoothly that they doubled his share of the take – he gains 200 GP.

Swamp Hoss tried to line up some Dishonest Work as well, but the only thing that he could learn about was the job Mynes got involved with, and that was Vineyards stuff – not something he dared to get involved in after that little misunderstanding with Ma’am last summer.

Coran was locked away for a couple weeks while Acanthus Rho worked to Purge the Mutations.  At first it didn’t go well at all. He doesn’t remember much except the screaming. But as the days went by, he could feel himself growing stronger and more in control. He gains 50 XP and a Gift of Mutation.

SPECIAL ITEMS

Gift of Mutation – Marrowsteel

Once during your next adventure, invoke the Gift of Mutation to convert all CON damage from a single attack into points of Corruption. If you do not use the Gift, gain 50 XP instead.

View
Session Two - May 28 2017
Welcome to the Barrow Fields

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 2, May 28th 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Ryan (Mynes), Brett (Klondia the Pale), Larry (Swamp Hoss), Kai (Coran Gorechosen).

Jewelday, Week of the Salamander, MY 268

Vydar the Fighter has taken ill after his battle with the venomous zombies last session, and must remain behind at Camp Sweetwater to recuperate. However, Acanthus Rho has sent some reinforcements, a couple of hulking warriors. One goes by “Swamp Hoss”, and the other doesn’t talk much at first, although we eventually learn his name is Coran.

The party decides that rather than try to get through by the path leading to Camp #3, where the snake cult seems to be patrolling, they will take boats and follow the route of the old ruined viaduct through the swamp to the ruined waystations.

They soon find the viaduct ruins, but one of the boats runs aground on it and Coran and Mynes end up in the drink – attracting a mob of vicious mutant frogs! There are some tense moments as the frogs maul them – one frog in particular is a bloated monstrosity the size of a man, with vile teeth and claws, and it soaks up two of Klondia’s powerful black magic missiles without dying! In the end, they escape alive, and with plenty of frog carcasses.

Tired and chastened by the strange horrors of the swamp, they decide to make camp at the first ruined waystation. Enroute, Coran snacks on the raw frog carcasses, and finds a shiny treasure within the gut of the largest one.

Camping at the waystation is fairly uneventful. They make an effort to climb the stair to the top of the tower for a look around, but it turns out that giant red centipedes infest the rubble, and only quick reactions save one of the explorers from a venomous bite. “Swamp Hoss” recognizes the red centipedes, but he’s never seen one nearly this large. They decide to leave well enough alone and just camp until the next morning.

Copperday, Week of the Dove

The next day, they set out for the final waystation, the traditional campsite for those who explore the Barrowmaze. Along the way, they pass by an island in the swamp with a ring of large cypress trees around the edge of it. Mutilated bodies are lashed up in the trees – closer inspection shows that the freshest ones have had cuts of flesh neatly removed as if by a butcher. Is this the domain of some cannibalistic swamp monster? Better not to poke around and find out – they move on.

Arriving at the ruins, they discover that the tower has completely collapsed, as if thrown down by an explosion. Huge chunks of masonry lie everywhere, forming a maze of rubble. The remnants of camping equipment litter the area. Silas senses a strong Earth Node somewhere within the ruins.

As they enter the maze, monsters appear! Two huge Giant King Scorpions, mottled purple-and-yellow things nearly as large as a pony, scuttle to attack. The creatures are deadly – nearly impenetrably armored, and armed with slicing pincers and a deadly lashing stinger. The party battles desperately against these horrors, but things are not looking good – Klondia is badly wounded, and even the fearsome Coran cannot harm the creatures due to their armored shells. Fortunately, Silas calls upon the elements and begins to radiate an intolerable cold, which forces the cold-blooded creatures to slow and ultimately lose consciousness. While he deals with the scorpions, though, more monsters appear – giant frogs again, and a huge viper. Something must be calling them to the attack.

Silas saw a gold snake idol at the site where the Earth Node was located within the ruin while he was chasing down the last scorpion – maybe that’s the problem. Once they deal with the snake and frogs, they quickly move the idol off of the Earth Node, reducing its power, and then roll it into the swamp.

Completing their search of the ruin, they salvage several items left behind by other adventurers and even find a treasure chest buried in the loose earth.

That night while they camp, they see torches moving on the Barrow Field – it looks like the snake cult is active in the area and visit the Barrowmaze by night.

Tinday, Week of the Dove

The next day, they decide to explore the nearest few mounds, relying on Keelish’s recollection of his own explorations 13 years ago to guide them. The nearest mound is buried, and it looks like some effort has been made to excavate it in the past but was interrupted by some danger that slew the laborers.

Silas speculates on how the Barrowmaze can exist in the midst of the swamp without everything sinking into the mire and flooding. He thinks perhaps that some sort of barrier has been set up by altering the flow of the Dragon Lines, keeping the water spirits from entering the bounded area. Perhaps the waystation tower was destroyed when part of that ward failed? He begins to keep careful notes of all he observes, hoping to understand what was done here.

The next mound they examine has been uncovered, and some marks on the stone slab sealing it show that someone has tried to break in unsuccessfully. It would take some time with tools and make a good deal of noise to break down the seal.

Next, they visit the towering stele they saw from a distance. Rising 70’ above the Barrow Field, it is made from seamless black granite and covered in tiny, worn inscriptions. The script seems to be some variant on that used in ancient Gaxx, but it makes no sense – perhaps it is a code, or perhaps the script is merely being used to spell out some alien language. At the top of the stele, four stone heads gaze out to North, South, East, and West. Respectively, they are a human skull, a vulture, a lion, and a viper.

Klondia’s serpent circlet whispers to her about the stele, calling it “the folly of Nergal” and prophesying “the serpent shall devour his brothers and all will come to ruin.”

The party moves on to the central mound, where Keelish says an entrance to the necropolis can be found. As they approach, they see that the mound is surrounded by a circle of low stone posts with bowl-shaped depressions in the top – perhaps lamps? They prepare to enter the mound, when out of the corner of an eye they see skeletal figures pulling themselves from the earth nearby – undead warriors guard this place! After a short fight, the skeletons are defeated and they descend the stairs into the dark. Within, a pillared chamber leads to a hole in the floor and an iron tripod with block and tackle. To either side of the path, piles of scattered bones fill the room. Looking down into the dark, Klondia’s light reveals a chamber and a foul smell of rot. They also learn that the floor they stand on is a thin sheet of stone suspended on a lattice of beams.

Unnerved, and with daylight flagging, the party decides to return to camp before night falls.

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

  • 500 gp ruby
  • chainmail & shield
  • 20 arrows
  • crystal of continual light
  • 150 gp
  • 70 sp
  • 3 carnelian gems, 20 gp each
  • scroll of sleep

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

COMBAT: 1750 XP

  • 7 Small Monster Frogs 7×15 = 105
  • 1 Large Monster Frog = 35
  • 1 Giant Viper = 400
  • 2 Giant King Scorpions = 1200
  • 1 Giant Red Centipede = 10

TREASURE: 717 XP

INTERACTION: 25 XP

CHECKPOINTS: 185 XP

  • explore Waystation Ruin #2 (partial) 15 XP
  • sighted (but did not explore) Slaughtergrove 25 XP
  • explore Waystation Ruin #3 50 XP
  • removed summoning idol from Waystation Ruin #3 25 XP
  • explored 2 mounds (exterior only) 20 XP
  • examined Stele of Nergal 25 XP
  • explored central mound 25 XP

TOTAL XP

  • 2677 XP
  • divided 5 ways = 535 XP per PC 
  • after bonus experience for ability scores: Coran, Hoss, Mynes = 562; Klondia, Silas = 589

 

SPECIAL ITEMS

COMMON SPELL (scroll): sleep (Klondia)

Spell Level 1 (Sorcerer, Gray Magic)
Range 240’
Duration 1 hour

This spell puts enemies into an enchanted slumber for 1D6 rounds. The spell affects up to 4HD of creatures, starting with the lowest first. For example four Nemons (1HD) are accompanied by a Priest (3HD). Rather than target the Nemon Priest and then take down another Nemon, the spell affects four Nemons. Player characters may Test their Luck and if Lucky completely ignore the effects of this spell.

Note this spell does not work on the undead or the demonic Others.

MAGIC ITEM: crystal of continual light (Klondia)

This transparent crystal sphere, about 2” in diameter, radiates light upon a mental command from a sorcerer. The light is as bright as daylight, but has no warmth or color. It illuminates to 120’ brightly, and up to 240’ dimly.

As a Downtime Action requiring one week and 100 gp in materials, a sorcerer can learn to control the light more finely, choosing one of the following skills for each Downtime Action:

  • focusing it into a narrow beam that provides a “spotlight” of bright illumination up to 120’ away and up to 6’ in diameter.
  • activating it as a blinding flash that dazzles all within 60’, giving them -2 To Hit for 5 minutes (PCs may Test Their Luck to avert their eyes and avoid this). Using the crystal in this way depletes its magic for the next 8 hours.
  • changing the color of the light emitted at will
  • varying the brightness of the light emitted at will, from candle-light to full intensity

 

View
Session One - April 23rd 2017
Frogs and Snakes

CRYPTS OF THE BARROWMAZE AFTER ACTION REPORT – Session 1, April 23rd 2017

In attendance: Kathy (Silas), Ryan (Mynes), Brett (Klondia the Pale), Julian (Vidar).

Tinday, Week of the Salamander, MY 268

Silas the Elementalist, Vidar the Fighter, Mynes the Thief, and Klondia the Pale, a Sorceress have responded to the invitation of Acanthus Rho to come to Castle Blackmoss in the depths of the Helmire and assist in plundering the riches of the ancient necropolis known as the Barrowmaze.

They are summoned to his salon where he explains the difficulties the project has been having with sabotage of the campsites along the only known safe route into the Barrow Fields – some local malcontents calling themselves the “Sons of the Swamp” seek to prevent Duke Rana and Acanthus Rho from laying claim to the riches of the tombs and disrupting the locals’ ability to loot would-be tomb explorers. Rho has prepared – at great expense – a dozen Warding Totems that will allow the camps (and any future ones deeper into the tomb complex) to be more secure. He wants the adventurers to secure a usable route to the Barrow Fields using these devices.

Rho warns that the “Sons of the Swamp” might have informants among the local people, so the party should be circumspect if they want to recruit hirelings in Slowbrook or Helix. A small number of the castle’s slaves can be spared as bearers and general labor, but they are not to be armed and must be returned to their work restoring the castle and the old viaduct as soon as possible.

The adventurers discuss the terms of their employment. Castle Blackmoss expects a flat monthly fee of 75 gp per person for their support services – provisioning, lodging, security of personal belongings, and so forth. Acanthus Rho expects that artifacts found within the Barrowmaze should be brought to him for examination, and that he have the option to purchase any that he finds of interest. Beyond that, anything the adventurers find in Barrowmaze they can keep – at least for now. Rho does hint that Lord Rana intends on a more organized exploitation of the tombs once the viaduct leading to them is rebuilt, so the adventurers probably only have a limited time in which to maximize their own returns. However, it does seem like a pretty good deal. Wonder what the creepy sorcerer and his boss have up their sleeves?

After examining a map of the area, the group decide that their best bet is probably to bypass the first leg of the path across Frog’s Heaven Marsh entirely, taking skiffs from the end of the viaduct directly to Camp #2 – but they want more intelligence and maybe a guide before they depart. They head into Slowbrook to have a look around.

In Slowbrook, a colorful Selling Barge from the City of Water is tied up at the docks, and vendors are hawking trinkets and exotic foods from its decks and a number of small carts they have set up on the docks. An extravagantly mustached man sits in front of the local watering hole glaring at the foreign merchants, who are doing a brisk trade. The party decide he looks worth talking to, over the objections of Silas whose taste buds are tingling at the mere possibility of food like what he got used to when he was a scribe in the Great Library of the Four Cities.

As they arrive at the establishment – apparently called “The Bristlenose” – Vidar notices a small letter “Z” daubed in red paint at the top of one of the lintel posts. Later on, they’ll note similar marks on a number of other buildings around town. Mynes thinks they indicate who’s paying protection to some local gang – maybe these “Sons of the Swamp.” The proprietor of The Bristlenose – Olak Frake – is happy to see the customers and cheerfully serves them roast meat, mudbug soup, and local wine “from the Folly Vineyards.” He tries to warn them away from the Barrowmaze with tales of other adventurers before them who disappeared into the swamp never to return, or returned maimed or mad from the horrors of the place. Other than that, he’s not too helpful – he says he doesn’t know anyone who’d be crazy enough to be their guide, though there used to be some fellows in Helix who’d do it “but I wouldn’t say I know that any of them could be trusted.”

Pressed for suggestions, Frake does remember one of those former adventurers he mentioned – a man named Mygdo Keelish. He stuck around Slowbrook and lives in a shack down by the river at the nearby bridge. Maybe he could be convinced to help the party?

They depart to seek out this Keelish fellow. He is reluctant at first, and warns them that anyone heading into the swamp risks the ire of the Sons of the Swamp – notably, his shack lacks the “Z” mark that Keelish tells them indicates the Sons’ protection. But after the party explain their plan to bypass the usual route into the swamp – and offer him gold plus a promise he will not have to go all the way to the Barrow Fields – he agrees to meet them at the end of the viaduct the next morning. He takes his advance payment and sends his son off into town with it to stay with his mother, and sets about preparing for the expedition.

The party return to Castle Blackmoss to make their own preparations.

Bronzeday, Week of the Salamander

Meeting Keelish in his canoe at the end of the viaduct along with their detachment of 8 slaves and a pair of large skiffs, the party sets out at first light across the misty waters of Frog’s Heaven Marsh, accompanied by the croaking of its eponymous inhabitants. As they pole across the marsh, it almost seems the frogs are speaking to one another in some secret language, laughing at the futility of man’s efforts to conquer the swamp. One of the slaves speaks of stories other slaves have told of seeing giant frogs – “the size of a dog!” in the marsh at night.

Before long, the ruins of the old viaduct waystation that mark the edge of the marsh loom out of the mist. A tall pair of stone pillars are all that stand, although rotted timbers below demonstrate that a superstructure once hung from the pillars here as a watch-point and toll station – many years ago, in the time of Gaxx when the necropolis was still occasionally used to inter some Gaxxian noble. Debarking their boats, the group begin the portage to Camp #2, some ¾ mile away across the swamp.

At Camp #2, they find a wooden palisade surrounding a square graveled area a little raised above the rest of the soil, with a covered well in the center. It appears the camp has been visited recently by booted men – probably locals. The well is clean and good – in fact, Silas sense that a strong Water Node lies within, and the Dragon Lines that meet here are healthy and easy to sense.

Checking the perimeter, Mynes notes some kind of gooey substance smeared on the walls and a powerful reek – he can’t identify it, but Keelish recognizes frog musk – used as bait when trapping frogs, it attracts them and excites them. Someone has deliberately placed this substance here to draw frogs at night. They do the best they can to cleanse the palisades, using lamp oil to scrub it off and then igniting it to cover the lingering scent.

They set up 8 of the Warding Totems – enough to completely enclose the camp site – with Klondia making a big show of it to ensure that the slaves will not tamper with the wards.

At night, a maddening chorus of frogs ensures restless nights for everyone – particularly Mynes, who can nearly understand what they are saying to one another and is sure it bodes no good – and the slaves are huddled together in fear all night, but no danger appears. Late at night Vidar thinks he sees signs that the camp is watched by someone in a boat, but he can’t be sure.

Ironday, Week of the Salamander

In the morning, the party resolves to continue on toward the Barrow Fields – they will inspect Camp #3 on the way, but they intend to reach the ruined chapel at the edge of the Barrow Fields and use that as their staging area. At first Keelish refuses to go any further – he feels he has done what he agreed to by getting them this far – but is eventually convinced.

The route is relatively easy going, and they are making good time. Keelish warns them of a few minor dangers which are easily avoided, but near mid-day they find tracks on the path. It seems three different sorts – a single pair of smaller bare feet, perhaps a woman’s; several sets of heavy boots (soldiers?); and others that are hard to make out, seemingly shuffling or dragging their feet. They decide to hide in the trees alongside the path and see who comes along.

Before long, footsteps are heard. A group of people come walking down the path – perhaps a patrol. A well-armed man wearing a snake-shaped circlet leads the group, followed by 3 shuffling monks in voluminous robes of sackcloth daubed with white snake symbols. Klondia recognizes the iconography as that of the Cult of the Writhing Serpent, a degenerate venom-cult once prevalent among the people of Gaxx who worship a demon-god named Set, who offers sensual ecstasy and eternal life to his debased followers. But the worship of the Writhing Serpent died out with the Lords of Gaxx, more than 3 centuries ago….

The cultists move on, not noticing the party. An ambush is prepared for when they return.

The ambush is quite successful – Vidar takes a bit of roughing up at the hands of the robed cultists, who are revealed to be some kind of venomous undead things, but it’s nothing he can’t shake off. Klondia recovers the serpent circlet from the human leader, and despite sensing its evil power puts it on her head. It whispers into her mind in the dark language of the Serpent Kings, unlocking forbidden knowledge there – but she is not yet strong enough in her magic to make use of this ability. The zombies dissolve into vile pools of poisonous goo, while the body of the leader must be decapitated before the venom in its veins works a foul resurrection on the corpse.

Several hours have been lost in the ambush, and unsure what might await at Camp #3 now that they have encountered the cultists, the party considers whether it would be best to press on, or retreat to Camp #2 for now.

[If I have exactly the same group next time, we can pick up immediately where we left off. Otherwise, we’ll pick up on Jewelday, Week of the Salamander back at Camp #2.]

SESSION REWARD SUMMARY

TREASURE RECOVERED

— 12 sp, 6 gp

— longsword

— longbow, 12 arrows

— chain shirt

— 3 foul and stained cultist robes

serpent circlet (worn by Klondia)

— small vial of golden hell-venom (claimed by Silas)

EXPERIENCE AWARDS

COMBAT: 170 XP

TREASURE: 12.6 XP

INTERACTION: 250 XP

CHECKPOINTS

— ward Camp #2 – 200 XP

— identify Cult of the Writhing Serpent 50 XP

— discover Sons of the Swamp influence in Slowbrook 25 XP

— befriend Olak Frake 15 XP

— hire Mygdo Keelish 15 XP

BONUS

EVADED ENCOUNTERS (half XP): 165 XP

TOTAL XP

— 902.6 XP

— divided 4 ways = 225 XP per PC

SPECIAL ITEMS

UNCOMMON SPELL: command undead (Klondia)

Spell Level 2 (Sorcerer, Black Magic)
Range Voice
Duration 1 day per caster level

The caster can speak to undead, and they will cease what they are currently doing and listen to him for at least 1 minute. Intelligent undead must be convinced to do what the caster asks, but they will treat the caster as friendly and be inclined to negotiate rather than attack. Unintelligent undead must obey the caster's commands, but they can only understand very simple one or two word commands and take them extremely literally.

While this spell is in effect, if the caster attempts the Banishment of Evil, any undead that would normally be turned or destroyed are instead controlled utterly (as if under a charm effect) for 1 hour. However, if any undead targeted are not affected by the Banishment, they will attack the caster in a rage, gaining +1 To Hit and +1 Damage.

 

MAGIC ITEM: serpent circlet (Klondia)

This bronze circlet is in the shape of a snake coiled around the wearer’s brow, with a fanged viper head rearing at the front. When placed on the head, any person not pledged to the service of Set or who does not have golden venom in their system is poisoned and dies immediately, rising 5 minutes later as a venomous zombie. Characters with Luck may Test Their Luck to avoid this effect – if they are Lucky, they are warned of the danger by the sibilant whispering of the circlet before they put it on. If they are not lucky, they are poisoned by the golden venom (1d6/1 Lethal). If a character who has been warned or one who is safely envenomed dons the circlet, it whispers secrets of the Writhing Serpent into their mind. If they are a sorcerer, they immediately learn the spell command undead. Sorcerers and non-sorcerers alike gain 1 Corruption on donning the circlet as it whispers blasphemy.

Once a character has put on the circlet, they desire to keep it with them at all times. Letting it out of their sight requires a Sanity test (1d3). They are not forced to wear it, but they must know where it is.

In addition to teaching the spell, the circlet has two other beneficial effects. The wearer is resistant to all poisons (+3 to tests to resist poison), and venomous zombies obey his commands.

 

SPECIAL ITEM: golden hell-venom (Silas)

This small bronze vial with a wax seal contains a few drops of golden liquid. This is golden hell-venom, harvested from the sacred vipers of Set. It is an incredibly dangerous poison (Injected, 1d6/1 Lethal), but its true value to the cult is twofold. First, those slain by the venom rise shortly thereafter as venomous zombies. Secondly, those who are initiates of the cult develop a tolerance for the venom, and repeated envenoments gradually transform them and grant them magical powers and inhuman pleasures.

 

SPECIAL ITEM: warding totems

A skull, inlaid with strange geometric patterns in copper. When it is placed and a command word given, it activates. An active Warding Totem forms a barrier with any other Warding Totem within 30+d20’, a dimly shimmering haze of magic. Nonsentient Others and various supernatural creatures are repelled by the barrier and cannot cross it at all. Sentient creatures tend to avoid it and find it unpleasant to approach – they can penetrate the barrier with a successful Sanity test, but otherwise are filled with dread and fear, refusing to approach.

All Warding Totems have a password set when they are created, which can deactivate the ward. Someone who knows the password can “key” the ward to others by having them touch it for a few seconds – this allows them to pass the barrier.

Creating a Warding Totem requires the skull of a sentient creature, a sorcerer capable of casting 3rd-level Black Magic, and 300 gp of materials. Acanthus Rho has related that skulls from those slain by the user are the most effective wards, and that more powerful creatures will have more powerful skulls.

You currently have a box of 12 – all that Acanthus Rho has been able to create thus far. Of these, 8 have been deployed to ward Camp #2.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.