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