Temple of Elemental Evil

Adventure Log - Session 13
Session 13, in which Blars and Schlomo rescue themselves and the party causes extra strife between the Evil Temples.

Gabriel, Valen, Ark & Shecky contemplated what to do while in the SE corner of the room an Earth Elemental threw itself against the door to the room containing Blars & Schlomo, and two additional elementals (SW & NE) patrolled in tight patterns in the room. Valen sent Ulo into the room to see how the elementals would react, given the recent change in their behavior. The nearest elemental zoomed immediately to Ulo, smashing him unconscious. Ark raced in to save the wolf, narrowly escaping the elementals himself.

Unsure what to do, despite the immediate danger the SE elemental posed to Blars & Schlomo (group1), Valen & Gabriel & Ulo (group2) decided to investigate the area around the Earth Temple for clues, while Ark & Shecky (group3) began to try various tactics to distract the SE elemental, all to no avail. Shecky, upon finding a spell scroll in the pile of earth that was the NW elemental before Schlomo killed it, surmised that, if group1 could reach into their elemental and snag the scroll from within it, it, too, might be killed. Group1 soon got its chance, as the SE elemental smashed the door open. Blars and Schlomo both pushed through the elemental, taking extensive damage, but found no scroll inside. They ran to safety, having ultimately saved themselves, barely escaping the elementals, who all gave chase.

Meanwhile, group2 found nothing of great note in the immediate temple area, save that Gabriel, upon concentration on the glowing runes covering another large set of doors (upon which only he and Blars can even gaze), was led to believe that, given some time, he could figure out how to undo the enchantment and unlock those doors. They re-joined to the rest of the weary, broken party, and all decided they need to rest. Shecky led them to a room he’d investigated which appeard to be long disused.

As the party rested, certain party members heard commotion in the hallway during their watch. Each guard relayed an increasingly confused story to the next (some via charades, thanks to Ark’s vow of silence). Upon waking, they pieced together the following:

- There was great commotion among the Earth temple guards
- lots of angry shouting was heard when the guards (seemingly) discovered the burnt Bugbreas in the rat pit
- lots of angry shouting when the destroyed elemental was discovered
- patrols were increased a great deal during the 8 hour rest
- there was a regular scraping sound indicating the guards were doing something undetermined
- based upon the guards shouts and conversations, it seems they blamed the Fire Temple for the deaths, and were eager to kick some “fire-eater” ass

Upon stealthily peeking out of the room, the party found dark hallways where once they were torchlit. The torches had been removed from their sconces (the scraping sound).

Blars went to his belongings to search for something in the Box of Holding, only to find that it was missing! The party quickly determined Wonnilon must have stole it in the confusion of the battle with the elementals (or sometime before that moment), and took it when he left. There was much cursing.

Noting the apparent increase in patrols, the party decided to stick to unused, dusty hallways and rooms, all wearing their black, fiery-elemental-eye cloaks. They discovered a ramshackle library and sorted through it’s mostly destroyed contents, finding nothing of great note. A room which advertised meditation and future-seeing intrigued the party, but it was decided that discretion was the better part of valor so far as divination in an evil temple was concerned.

A secret door in the back of the divination room led to a large, open room with a high, vailted cieling and many supporting beams. It appeared to have once been a throne room or audience chamber of some kind – a grand stone throne had been hacked to bits, and dust covered everything. The party was quickly attacked by a swarm of filthy, greasy, blood-sucking mosquito-birds the size of hawks (stirges). After trying to fight the incredibly fast flighying beasts for a few rounds (and even killing a few), the party fled back through the secret door, agreeing that flying things are hard as heck to fight in high-ceilinged rooms [adventure lesson].

Scouting ahead in a darkened hallway, Ark heard the approach of a pair of guards on patrol. Using Ark as bait, the party prepared an ambush. The guards were warier this time than in the post-rat-pit instance, and the party had to rush them. They were dispatched quickly, and one saved for questioning. Ark & Valen then scouted ahead, finding two more guards at a closed door on a few hallways away. The immediate area around them was torchlit, unlike most of the tunnels since the recent rest. It was decided they must be guarding something important. The captured guard would not reveal who or what they were protecting, but it was clear it was someone important. They were able to infer that there were lots of guards, and that they might (might) be guarding Romag, who they’d learned is the High Priest of the Earth Temple.

The party snuck to the guarded door and quickly dispatched the two guards. From then on it was push into a room, attack, and move through, blitzkrieg-style. The guards inside, a mix of humans, kobolds and bugbears, put up a fierce fight, but were badly outmatched. Even so, their sheer numbers meant the party suffered extensive damage. As they fough three rooms in, two human figures in full plate mail entered from the far side of the room and began unleashing spells, wreaking hell on the party. As the party turned its attention to the two spellcasters, Valen saw one of the chainmail-clad guards sneak out through a door to the north. They party dispatched the two evil clerics with some difficulty, having been already weakened. One of the clerics (a youngish, tall, sandy-haired man) was captured alive (tho unconscious). The other, only a few years older (perhaps late 20s), was killed. The younger cried out “Romag” when he was killed.

The clerics dispatched, Valen followed the fleeing swordsman north into a lavishly decorated room – clearly Romag’s quarters. The fleeing swordsman was nowhere to be seen. Bloodied and down on spells, the party looted the bodies, while Gabriel and Blars joined Valen in Romag’s chambers.

Where did the swordsman go? And, with Romag and his guards dispatched, has the Earth Temple been destroyed?

Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the Tower Guards: 4 days, 10 hours

Adventure Log - Session 12
Session 12, in which the party stumbles upon a horrible earthen shrine and learns humility.

The party hunkered down in the Jailer’s quarters, deciding what to do. While some wanted to leave the bugbears Ark had tricked alone, the group decided it was best not to leave any witnesses. A clever ambushed was devised, relying on Wonnilon’s former prisoner status and the bugbears’ belief Ark was an underjailer, and the party dispatched them quickly. While several party members looted the bodies and scouted the area, Blars, Valen and Shecky, against Gabriel’s wishes, crossed the hallway to a room with a large pit, and we promptly caught in a trap which dumped Valen & Shecky into the deep, smooth-walled pit, which was soon filled with a huge swarm (hundreds) of ravenous giant rats. They were rescued after a few rounds of yelling for help, but not before taking a good deal of damage from rat bites. After their rescue, again against Gabriel’s wishes, the party filled the pit, still teeming with rats (eating the bugbear corpses they’d flung in), with oil and lit it, burning hundreds of rats alive – the hallways echoed with their screaming.

The group fanned out to explore more of the immediate area of the dungeon. As they came upon a huge, dark room lit only by phosphorescent mold, they heard approaching footsteps. Once again, Ark took matters into his own hands, leading the patrol of guards who’d come to investigate the noise of the buring rats on a chase, allowing the rest of the party to attack with surprise from the rear. They took all 10 guards, including their leader, in a quick battle, and burnt the bodies as they’d done with the bugbears (again, despite protests from Gabriel). Most notably, Schlomo layed in a great slaughter with Biter (and, upon rolling a nat 20 and doing massive damage, found himself partially healed by the carnage), and Ark defeated the leader single-handedly, managing to avoid death by sword.

The guard leader was kept alive for interrogation. The party got little information from him, apart from knowledge that he worked for the Earth temple, that the party dare not defile the temple itself, and that all adventurers who enter the temple have been killed by him and his guards. More telling was the conflict between Gabriel and Schlomo (who kept poking the prisoner with Biter) and Gabriel and Blars when, at the conclusion of question, Blars bashed-in the defensless guard leader’s head, killing him. After an angry confrontation between Gabriel and Blars, the party proceeded to the Earth temple.

At the NW doorway to the massive Earth temple and it’s central, packed-earth pyramid, the party paused to decide what to do. Unsurprisingly, while they discussed, Ark slipped into the room, slinking along the wall, in an attempt to cross to the far NE door. Wonnilon followed. Gabriel begrudgingly followed as protection (group1). Schlomo, Valen, Shecky and Blars stepped only a few feet into the room and waited (group2).

Once group1 was about 30ft into the room, four huge earth elementals rose up out of the thick soil, one near each corner of the room. The elemental in the NE corner of the room was very near group1. The elemental in the NW corner was very near group2. Ark charged-up his staff and threw it at the NE elemental (and missed), he then bolted out of the room to the NE exit. Gabriel, without the movement to exit the room, sprinted to the pyramid to retrieve the bronze box there (obviously a part of some ritual). Wonnilon also ran toward the pyramid, but was struck by the NE elemental and knocked unconscious with one blow. In the NW corner, Schlomo engaged the elemental to provide cover for group2. Blars surrounded the elemental with a wind wall, hoping to confine the thing with an opposing element. Shecky retreated to the NW hallway, as did Blars. Valen and Ulo crept stealthily along the W wall heading south to another door.

Then everything went pear-shaped. Valen, who was apparently not stealthy enough to fool an Elemental, was crushed in just a few hits from the SW elemental. Gabriel rescued Wonnilon and got him (and the bronze box, which contained a bronze hammer, a small bowl and a bronze knife) to Blars, who healed the gnome. Ark retrieved his staff and, racing at top speed, investigated the two small rooms in the south wall. Ulo dragged Valen to safety while Gabriel distracted the SW elemental – Gabriel was crushed by the beast in the process. Schlomo continued to battle the NW elemental using the bronze hammer found in the bronze box, with little effect.

Blars healed Gabriel, and the party was about to retreat when Ark and Shecky discovered that blood dripped atop the pyramid caused the Elementals to stiffen to attention. This changed the game to a fast-paced game of cat & mouse: Ark, Shecky and Valen racing between the pyramid and the doors, exploring the room, Schlomo hammering away at the semi-defenseless NW Elemental with the bronze hammer and doing massive damage with each blow, thanks to the hammer’s assumed enchantment, and Gabriel leading the remainder of the party across to the NE door and into the hallway, all the while doing their best to avoid the thus-far slow-moving Elementals. Just as Schlomo destroyed the NW elemental single-handedly (not a single other player had caused damage, tho Blars’ spell had contained the beast), and celebration began, Valen (still badly wounded) went one last time to the top of the pyramid. At this point, about 1 minute of combat had passed. As he squeezed blood from his palm, all three remaining elemntals sunk rapidly into the earth, zoomed to the base of the pyramid, huge, racing mounds of earth showing their passage, and rose up at the perimiter of the pyramid, rippling arms reaching toward the pyramid top. Valen scrambled back to the NE exit.

The party regrouped in the NE hallway. The elementals remained ringed around the pyramid. The group argued – Schlomo, Valen and Ark argued that, now that they presumably knew the Elementals’ weekness for blood, they could (and should, given their geas) kill the remaining three. Gabriel and Blars argued against risking it – they were down on spells, and this new movement from the elementals to the pyramid was very disturbing. Shecky, in the meantime, peeked around the corner just a bit investigating the new hallway.

Ultimately, the party decided not to try and take on the remaining elementals. Still, Schlomo and Ark were very keen to see what happened when the bronze hammer was used against the incredibly dense, weighty stone Ark had found in the SE storage room filled with different kinds of earth and strange pebbles. Despite Gabriel’s vehement opposition, Schlomo decided to risk it, and raced across the big room at full speed. Schlomo easily reached the room. He smashed the bronze hammer down on the stone with all his might … shattering the hammer. Still, Schlomo could not help but believe the stone was important, so he hefted the 8 inch diameter, 250lb stone and began to carry it slowly back to the party. But as soon as he set foot on the deep soil, the SE elemental charged, lightning fast. Schlomo dropped the stone, which sunk deep into the earth, and ran, but did not have the speed – the elemental caught him and, with a crushing blow, rendered him unconscious.

Unwilling to leave Schlomo to die, Blars raced into the room, chased by the NE elemental. He reached Schlomo. With help from Ark, he healed Schlomo. Ark raced back to the NE hallway to save himself. As all three elementals closed in, it was all Blars could do to pull Schlomo, barely conscious, into the SE room and throw the thick ironwood door shut.

Gabriel, Valen, Shecky, Ulo and Ark, all wounded and nearly out of spells, crouched in the NE hallway, while two Earth Elementals resumed their patrols of their areas (NE and SW corners, respectively), and the SE elemental crashed angrily against the wall and SE door. Blars and Schlomo, each badly injured, huddled in the tiny room filled with earth and pebbles.

Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the tower guards: 5 days, 14 hours

Adventure Log - Session 11
Session 11, in which the party enters the Temple proper through a secret passageway.

The party stood around the trap door in the tower barracks, contemplating their next move. Valen and Gabriel interrogated the prisoner – a scrawny, underfed human who quickly gave up all he knew. The party learned that:

1) The guards changed posts only once every 7 or 8 days, and this guard platoon had been in the tower for only a day
2) The guards were swapped-out (along with provisions) over land, through the front door. They used to use the tunnel, but can’t anymore since the tunnel collapsed.
3) The temple was comprised of five separate churches (fire, water, earth and air – who did not get along well and squabbled and fought for position – and a neutral “temple” faction, who worshipped “the Lady” but took no part in the squabbles of the other churches).

They gagged the guard again and talked over what they’d learned. Given that the guards weren’t due for a change for 6 or 7 more days, it might be possible they could rest and make an assault on the Temple from the tower here. The talk of the collapsed tunnel unnerved them, though. If the tunnel he was talking about was through that trapdoor, Captain Samton may not have escaped at all, but may simply be lurking in the collapsed tunnel below. No one could agree on whether that was better or worse. Finally, given Shecky’s state and their general lack of all spells and other firepower (save swords), they decided to use the rest of their healing ability, set double watch and rest. Gabriel and Schlomo took first watch.

Less than two hours into the first watch, Gabriel heard a soft scraping from below the trapdoor. Upon listening, it sounded like someone shovelling dirt. He woke the party, who decided that, since it was only one man, it couldn’t hurt to investigate. They opened the trap door and stared down into the darkness. No sound came from below. They dropped a torch into the hole. It landed 30 feet below and stayed lit, illuminating a portion of a dirt-floored room. Ark decided to head down the ladder first, stealthily. After clearing the first ten feet, the ladder separated from the wall (it’s moorings having been dug out), and, as Ark began to fall, the trap door (which had been rigged with a close-rope no one noticed) was pulled shut. Above, Gabriel and Schlomo saw Ark land on the ground, mostly rolling to avoid injury, just as the trapdoor slammed closed. Immediately, Gabriel and Schlomo were joined by Valen, who began pulling on the trapdoor, which had been somehow fastened shut.

Below, Ark heard a scraping sound of rope on metal, and then a sharp intake of air. He turned just as Capt. Samton emerged from the shadows, moving with uncanny speed, and swinging a huge dark blade which shimmered and seemed almost to disappear in the shadows. The blade gouged into Ark’s side, causing massive damage, and rendering Ark immediately unconscious.

Above, Valen, Gabriela and Schlomo succeeded together in wrenching the trapdoor open, just in time to see Ark’s legs as his limp body was dragged out of sight through a pool of blood, and the torch they’d thrown down was extinguished. With the ladder dislodged there was no easy way down into the dark. Valen began anchoring a rope to lower himself down. Garbriel, instead, simply lept into the hole, rolling as best he could with the damage as he crashed, prone, onto the ground. Shecky, looking to add light into the hole and distract the assailant, cast a light spell upon their prisoner’s belt, and Schlomo threw him into the hole as well. The terrified guard’s back snapped as he landed on Gabriel, but he lit the room brightly.

Captain Samton shot out of the shadows again and jammed his wicked black blade between Gabriel’s shoulders as Gabe struggled to regain his feet, again causing massive damage, which he barely survived. He rose to face off against Samton. As Valen lowered himself carefully into the pit (followed by Shecky), Schlomo climbed down the ladder to where it broke and flung himself at Samton. Between them, they managed to kill Samton, who appeared to have been jacked-up on a speed potion. Schlomo took Samton’s dark-hued bastard sword (which whispered it’s name to him – “biter"), and Gabriel took Schlomo’s old +1 longsword. Other items were found on the captain’s body, including a Mithril Shirt, which Valen claimed.

When the battle was over, the party found that Ark was not merely unconscious, but completely dead. After a brief debate, they gathered Ark’s body and rushed back to Nulb, in hopes that Y’dey could resurrect him. They reached Nulb and found that Y’dey was willing to do so, for the greater part of their wealth, and only if they agreed to be geased into a quest to defeat the evil elements brewing at the temple or die trying. The party agreed, and after a long night of prayer and magic, Ark was revived, though there appear to be a handful of side-effects of the resurrection.

The party returned to the temple grounds to find the tower much as they’d left it (they’d been gone about 24 hours). With 5 days left before the guards were to be changed, they excavated the collapsed tunnel under Blars’ direction, creating a passage through the rubble which led to a long tunnel. They followed it, and at the end emerged into a complex of tunnels below the Temple. Valen, Ulo, Ark and Shecky scouted ahead in the tunnels until they heard the cries of someone being tortured. At Gabriel’s insistence, they followed the screams to a torture chamber, where a human and a bugbear were torturing a human prisoner on a rack, with two human females and two orc prisoners awaiting the same fate in separate cells. When diplomacy failed, the party attacked, making swift work of the torturers. However, the battle was not over. As Gabriel worked to free the prisoner from the rack, and Schlomo freed and subsequently hit-on the captured females (who returned his affection with grateful kisses), Blars rushed to the orc cage, broke the lock with his mace and, despite their being unarmored, attacked them! Despite Valen and Shecky’s attampts to hold him back, he killed one prisoner in cold blood. Gabriel and Schlomo stepped into the fray. Ultimately, Blars was calmed only after Gabriel punched him repeatedly in the face. The orc was calmed as well, and agreed to escort the humans out of the dungeon, but before he left, he vowed revenge on Blars for the murder of his brother. Ark watched them all escape into the maze of tunnels, while Gabriel berated Blars, Shecky looted the bodies, Valen fed Ulo from the corpses and Schlomo regaled the group with stories of his (moments before) sexual conquests. The party decided they should don the cloaks they’d taken from the Moathouse – black, emblazoned with a fiery elemental eye. The cloaks, having been kept in the Box of Holding, smelled faintly, unpleasantly of meat.

The party then struck out again into the maze, stumbling upon a group of prison cells. Most were unoccupied, but in one they found and rescued an outgoing, charismatic gnomish adventurer called Wonnilon, who offered to join the party. Ark armed him with his short sword +1 (for which Wonnilon was very grateful), and they continued their exploration.

The party then came upon a room where they heard bugbear voices. Ark motioned for the party to wait while he entered. Through sheer force of personality and clever revealing of his scarred features (and the stupidity of the bugbear guards), he silently convinced the bugbears he was the new assistant to the torturer/head jailer. He passed through the chamber and into the jailer’s private quarters unmolested. Inside, he found a secret door (which allowed him to let the rest of the party in), as well as a stash of the jailer’s possessions, including Wonnilon’s lost adventuring gear.

Inside the jailer’s quarters, the party paused. They had some time until the slaughtered tower guards would be found, and perhaps less time until the killed jailer and his assistant were recovered. What to do next?

Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the tower guards: 5 days, 16 hours

Adventure Log - Session 9 (and 10)
Sessions 9 and 10, in which the party decides to take on the quest and heads to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

The next morning you all convened in Gabriel’s room, as agreed. You discussed the quest and a little of what you’d learned during the previous day. Shecky shared some knowledge he’d gained about the three supernatural beings associated with the temple: Zuggtmoy, Iuz and Lolth. Blars and Schlomo each commented on the fact that the Church seemed to be building a giant armory more befitting of a castle than a church, but neither the castellan nor the smith knew why. Valen was curious as to why them and not more powerful heroes. Gabriel explained that Terjon had told him that Furyondy and Veluna were quietly marshalling their knights and heroes to the border with Iuz in advance of a likely war, and that in any case knights and heroes were bad fits for a small recon / search and destroy mission. The party seemed to agree that they were good at that sort of thing. They met with the Small Counsel, and accepted the quest. They geared-up and departed after dark, so as not to attract any attention from the town.

Halfway to Nulb, in the dark of night, the party was ambushed on the High Road by a group of twenty or so brigands, many wearing the armor of Hommlet town guards. During the encounter, the party allowed themselves to be separated into three groups: Blars, Schlomo and Gabriel in the rear, Valen, Ulo the Wolf & Shecky near the front, and Ark by himself in the fray. Despite the large numbers of opponents and the separation of the party members, the battle went well, with the party driving-off or slaying all the bandits save one, which Ark cleverly knocked unconscious for questioning. The defeated brigand revealed his group’s camp and their numbers, and further admitted that his group had ambushed and killed Lt. Paul and his men a few days prior. The party found spoils of Lt. Paul’s previous raids, and the discarded bodies of the dead men to confirm this. There was some argument as to what to do with the questioned bandit – most of the party wanted simply to slit his throat, but in the end Gabriel prevailed and he was set free. The party then continued to Nulb, riding through the night.

Not yet narrated sections (sorry)
—> The party arrives in Nulb, where they meet Y’dey and are stalked by a group of cutthroats
—> The party steals a barge and crosses the river, learning that piloting a barge is a skill not quickly attained
—> The party travels south to the temple
—> the party investigates a ruined building & cellar, avoiding giant rats with Ulo’s help
—> the party investigates what appears to be a damages, half-fallen tower and, after fighting giant crows, leaves it alone.

Finding nothing in the tower save giant, angry ravens, the party crossed the twisted underbrush and tall, sickly grass to the temple itself. They found the gigantic temple intact – squat, ugly and sprawling, covered in carved relief of demons, torture, and depravity. On close examination of the carven figures cavorting across the facade of the temple the party felt a shiver of revulsion. The hands that formed these figures had undoubtedly performed acts of great evil. Even the most hardened warrior must quail at the scenes of base depravity depicted in such loving detail. The sense of evil was all-pervasive, a bottomless well of horror from which there seemed no escape.

The party moved to the south end of the temple, where the main entrance and two side doors awaited. The main entrance was a pair of huge bronze doors, held fast by gigantic iron chains, and all cracks filled and sealed with soft iron. Graven upon each door were magical runes which glowed with a silvery radiance. Upon looking on these runes, all party members felt a roiling in their stomachs and beating aches in their heads. While Blars and Gabriel were able to continue to gaze upon the doors, the rest of the party found themselves involuntarily retreating from the doors, and Schlomo and Ark were reduced to retching in the grass until the nausea passed. Ulo would not even look at the doors to begin with. The two side doors, curiously, appeared un-barred, but no one approached to see if they were open.

After the nausea passed, the group decided to scout in the tall grass and bushes around the temple before nightfall (which was nearing). Between Valen’s keen ears and eyes and Ulo’s sense of smell, they quickly encountered a pair of scouts in black cloaks, who fled back toward the broken tower. The party gave chase and killed one guard and captured the other, but not before taking several crossbow bolts from the arrow slits around the tower. The party coerced information out of the captured guard, including how many guards were in the tower (about 2 dozen) and how to open the cleverly locked doors (using a special key both guards had on their belts). The party returned to the front of the tower, braced themselves, forming ranks, and threw open the tower doors.

Inside, they saw darkness. With light behind them, and darkness inside the tower, the party found it difficult unable to see what was within. What was within could see them well, however. A dozen archers and a handful of spearmen launched spears, arrows and crossbow bolts, many skewering Schlomo and Gabriel, who stood in front. As their eyes adjusted, the party saw a room full of several dozen guards in ranks – spearmen with shields in front, bowmen in back. A couple of captains, marked by much better armor, stood off to the sides with bows as well. To the left of the entrance, high up on the semi-collapsed stairs, a guard leader barked orders at the guards, who readied another volley.

Gabriel and Schlomo rushed a few steps forward, finding the unforgiving points of the spears. Another volley of arrows followed. The party hastily retreated back outside, using the doors for cover. The spearmen followed, laying more damage into the party. More arrows flew. Once the party was set, there was a moment of stand-off. Then the leader barked an order and the spearmen began to file out, one by one, to face the group. Schlomo, Ark and Gabriel made quick work of them, taking only a few scrapes. It seemed a foolish tactic, but each round that a guard sacrificed himself, another volley of arrows flew. Most thunked into the doors, but a few found homes in Schlomo and Gabriel. Blars, knowing Gabriel had taken a serious beating, cast a spell which allowed him to share Gabe’s damage. The party stood their ground and fought back the spearmen and then the captains, all as the arrows flew. Finally, with only a single captain and the bowmen left, the leader called for his men to fall back, and he then fled into the dark recesses of the tower. The party rushed in after the bowmen, closing quarters and cutting them down. The archers were lightly armored, and no match for the party, though several more arrows did find homes in their flesh.

As Gabriel and Schlomo finished-off the archers on the floor, Blars guarded the door, and Shecky, Valen and Ulo took the archers on the stairs, Ark headed into the recesses of the tower, hoping to catch the guard leader before he could somehow escape. He found a door in the corner, next to the pile of rubble. Assuming the leader had gone through it, he braced himself against the door and readied himself. Just as he was ready to push through, the guard leader erupted from where he’d hidden himself in the rubble, slicing with a wicked-looking black bastard sword. One blow sliced Ark open, and he collapsed into unconsciousness, The leader then did flee through the door Ark was investigating, closing it behind him.

Blars, Gabriel and Schlomo rushed to tend to Ark, while Valen and the intimdating Ulo captured the one last archer. As Valen trussed-up the prisoner and Bars tended to Ark, healing him back to consciousness, Gabriel and Schlomo searched the barracks, looking for the leader’s escape route and finding nothing. In the meantime, Shecky wandered to the next room, finding a lavish chamber which clearly belonged to the leader. He spied a locked chest and, in his attempt to pick it, was poisoned by an undetected needle trap. He collapsed on the ground, muscles seizing, unable to breathe, let alone cry-out. His life began to trickle away.

Back in the barracks, Valen located the secret trap door out which the leader had escaped. The group peered down into the darkness and the metal ladder that descended into it. Blars was able to tell them that the ladder descended about 30 feet and ended on a dirt floor. After some debate, they decided they were too injured to try to follow. They closed the trap door and shoved a chest on top of it. Then Ark noticed that Shecky was not with them. He raced to the other room and, finding a foaming, unconscious Shecky on the floor, scooped him up and raced back to Blars who, through the use of his remaining healing spells, managed to keep Shecky alive long enough for the poison to run its course. Shecky regained consciousness, but he was very weak.

Once Shecky and Ark were both healed, Blars, with Schlomo’s help, dragged the dead guards into the tower and closed the doors. After a little searching, they found the mechanism which controlled the false-locks on the outside of the the door and maneuvered them back in place, and barred the doors shut. After doing so, they rifled through the bodies, finding the following the list of goods below, while Ulo ate from the corpses. After this search, Blars, Ulo and Schlomo joined the rest of the party in the barracks.

In the barracks, the party parked the bound-and-gagged prisoner on a bunk. They stood and looked at each other. Bloodied, beaten and low on spells, with two party members recovering from near-death, they knew they needed rest. But the tower guard leader had escaped into the tunnel, going who knows where. They had a terrified prisoner tied to a bunk. Night was falling outside. Would more guards come calling on the tower, looking for their fallen comrades? What happens on the Temple grounds at night? And, now that they’d taken the tower, how to proceed on to the Temple?

Adventure Log - Session 8
Session 8, in which the party finds some proof, splits up, gets back together, and must decided on their future.

After being healed somewhat, the party resumed searching Lareth’s room. While no additional treasure was found, in his writing desk the group found a stack of letters and personal notes – some unfinished notes written by Lareth, some letters from someone who signed his name “A,” and some ledgers. The ledgers seems to be an accounting of goods and gold stolen during bandit raids, as well as lists of numbers next to races (with some comments) next to indicators such as “fire” “air” “earth” “water” and “greater.” The “Fire” group seemed to have the largest numbers. Dates were included as well. The party deduced this was an accounting of new recruits Lareth had been sending to the Temple – if these ledgers were correct, Lareth had been sending dozens of new recruits per month. Lareth’s correspondence with “A” also included some additional points – “A” was continually asking for more recruits, especially Bugbears, which he seemed to find the perfect combination of cunning and raw brute force. Lareth had written to A about possibly sending his Gnolls “to the fire,” for they and their captain were especially disobedient and untrustworthy. Also found was a draft of a letter where Lareth explained to A that a group of bandits had taken residence above his dungeon – that he’d initially used them as good cover, but that they’d gotten reckless and he was debating sending them “to the fire” before they got caught and potentially revealed his operation as well – he asked “A” for advice (no return letter was found – they assumed this note was never sent).

As the party was debating what this all meant, and how best to return to Hommlet and present this information along with their “proof” of Lt. Paul’s involvement with the Bandits, Valen heard the door at the far end of the hallway being opened, and distant laughter abruptly stop. Valen crept out of the room to listen and have a look – it appeared that a party had discovered the carnage in the long hallway. Valen heard this new group moving slowly toward them with military precision – these were not the simple guards they’d fought before, but something else. He snuck back to Lareth’s room and the party decided to split, half of them moving across the large main room to the guard’s barracks (Gabriel, Valen & Shecky), and half remaining in Lareth’s room with the door closed (Blars, Ark & Schlomo). The hope was to lure the new group into the main room, and then surprise them by attacking from both sides. The new party approached slowly, sending a scout ahead, who spied Gabriel (who had hidden badly). The new group retreated. Gabriel, knowing he ws discovered, decided to use the slaughter which the new group had no doubt found to his advantage, striding out into the large room and using his intimidate skill to call the new group out (playing on the idea that he’d single-handedly slain all of the guards, Lareth and Gremag himself). The new party approached cautiously. Ultimately, Gabriel saw a band of 2 bugbears (one huge and well-armed – clearly the Captain of this hunting party), five humans, and a kobold in sorceror’s robes. The humans and Kobold held back, terrified of Gabriel’s might, but the Bugbear Captain strode into the room, gleefully joining this “champion” in single combat. When Valen started firing arrows into the room, the second bugbear rushed foward, and the kobold wizard cast a darkness spell on the entire room. With Gabriel, Shecky and Valen unable to see anything, the combat quickly turned bad for Gabriel. The door to Lareth’s room flew open and Schlomo rushed to join the fight. Shecky used a light spell to counter the darkness, and the balance of the battle became more even. Eventually this raiding party was destroyed, but not before Gabriel was rendered unconscious, and Schlomo and Shecky took a huge amount of damage. After the battle, the party discovered that this had been a raiding party coming back with spoils – gold, fine cloth, and a magical circlet Shecky pocketed.

Exhausted and out of spells, the party decided to high-tail it out of the dungeon. The followed Lareth’s entrance tunnel, which led to a cave near the road where the party had originally left their horses, three days prior (the horses were gone). The party camped in the woods, healed, and rested. The next morning they set out on foot to Hommlet (2 days’ walk away) they walked all day and camped in the forest as darkness approached.

The party was awakened in the night by the sound of approaching hoofbeats. Ark and Valen scouted to the road, and saw Mayor Grondarian approaching with a contingent of town guards. Gabriel and Schlomo joined the scouts, while Blars and Shecky hung back at camp. As they got closer, the party could see Elmo riding in back, and the halfling Small Paul riding up front near Grondarian. They also saw that the other guards were very young, save one who they recognized as Hommlet’s blacksmith. The four party members near the road stepped out to greet Grondarian, who instantly declared them under arrest for the supposed murder of Lt. Paul and the bulk of his town guards, who had not been seen since the party left Hommlet five days prior. The party agreed, knowing they could exonerate themselves with the evidence once they reached town. However, the confrontation turned slightly violent, and, when asked about Shecky and Blars, Gabriel lied and said they were two miles back toward the Moathouse. Lt. Paul and two others rode off after them, and the other four were hauled onto horses with the guards, bound and stripped of all weapons and gear (but still wearing armor). Blars and Shecky watched from the bushes as they rode away.

Grondarian and the guards rode through the night. During the ride, Elmo (who had put Gabriel on his horse) quietly got the story of what had happened from Gabriel. He cautioned Gabriel that, whatever happened in town, the party should not reveal anything about Lareth or the dungeons below the moathouse. It was during this conversation and the talk about proving Lt. Paul was the bandit leader that Gabriel realized an important oversight: all of the evidence proving their claims was with Blars, back at the camp.

Shecky and Blars watched the rest of their party being ridden away in shackles. They geared-up and decided to walk after them, and make a plan about what to do when they got to Hommlet while on the road.

Grondarian and the prisoners arrived in Hommlet in the late morning. The party were immediately placed in a small cell, locked and guarded by two nervous, newly conscripted town guards. Gabriel had just enough time to tell the whole group to be honest about the events with the bandits but say nothing about Lareth or what occurred in the dungeons below the moathouse, before Grondarian returned with Elmo. He ordered Elmo to grab Schlomo for interrogation. One by one, the party were interrogated – Schlomo telling a wild, incoherent story about bandits and Temple minions, Ark refusing to talk, Valen telling basically the truth (including some things about the dungeons) and Gabriel matching Valen’s story, except leaving out the dungeons. Schlomo and Ark were roughed-up during their interrogations (fortunately, it was by Elmo, who pulled his punches).

On the road, Shecky and Blars, who’d decided to break their companions out of jail when they arrived at town, hid along the side of the road as Small Paul and his group thundered angrily back toward town, empty-handed.

Back at the jail, Grondarian threw the party back into the cell together. As he did so, Small Paul arrived, angrily shouting that he’d been lied-to. Grondarian decided to convene a meeting of the city council, after Paul attempted to beat the prisoners, to get to the bottom of this garbled information. After they’d gone, Elmo brught them a crude meal, along with a note saying they should stay put until midnight. He’d unlock the door. They should meet just inside the treeline nearest the jail. And they were NOT to kill anyone. Ark loosed all four of them from their bonds so they’d be ready for trouble, and they waited.

Blars and Shecky arrived near town well after dark, a couple of hours before midnight. They saw the town was being heavily patrolled by pairs of guards carrying lanterns, none of whom looked familiar. They worked their way around the treeline to the area closest to the jail. As they contemplated their plan, Elmo appeared from the direction of the jail. He handed them off to the Druid Jaroo, who appeared out of nowhere with his huge black bear companion. With little fuss, the bewildered pair was led to the Druid’s grove and told to wait for their friends to arrive.

Back at the jail, the party waited until midnight and tested the door, which they found unlocked. They quietly subdued the only guard and retrieved their gear, again subduing (not killing) the guard they found in that room. They then escaped, heading for the treeline. When they arrived in the treeline, Elmo took them to the Druid’s grove, where they were united with the rest of the party, and joined by Jaroo, Druid of the Grove, and Canon Terjon, leader of the local Church of Cuthbert.

Elmo introduced the three of them as the “Small Council” – while the town council carried out the regular business of Hommlet, the small council was a secret group, sent by the Duke of Verbobonc (acting on behalf of the Kingdom of Furyondy) [Elmo], the Horned Society [Jaroo] and the Church of Cuthbert [Terjon] to monitor the area for a possible re-surgence of the activities of the Temple of Elemental Evil. The party conveyed its story in great detail, showing also the proof (in the form of the lockboxes, cloaks emblazoned with the fiery Elemental Eye, silver keys and letters from Lareth’s desk). The small council was very troubled by all of this. They retreated into Jaroo’s small hut to discuss. After a few minutes, they emerged. Elmo said he’d take the keys and lockboxes back to the Mayor and try to persuade the town council of the truth of the party’s story, in his alter-ego’s simple way. Terjon urged teh party to accompany him and take secret refuge in the oddly large and fortified Church of Cuthbert while they awaited further word from Elmo and the council, as well as the Small Counsil’s leaders (who were to be sent messages via raven). The party agreed, and accompanied Terjon back to the church, where they were given small but comfortable rooms, and use of the Church’s small library to research the Temple.

The party slept the night in the church, awaking the next morning to a day of studying and rest. Canon Terjon showed them around the keep, to the library, church proper, private prayer halls, the training grounds at the center of the keep, kitchens, smithy and your sleeping quarters. The church was small, but well appointed. Cuthbert is a god of voracious appetites – there is food and drink aplenty – and a god of war – all his priests train daily and the armory and smithy are well-stocked. You all rest, eat, read and discuss in the library, learning much about the temple and its history. Elmo arrived to say that the town council had received the proof of Lt. Paul’s banditry, but Grondarian and Small Paul were not wholly convinced. They planned on riding out to the moathouse themselves (after several more days of discussion) to try to get proof of the party’s story. Terjon planned on sending a contingent of clerics and masons immediately to wall-up the dungeons and prevent them from examination by panicky townspeople. Elmo resolved to return the next morning with more information.

The party slept an uneasy night, to be wakened the next morning and asked to join Canon Terjon for breakfast. When they arrived, Terjon was accompanied by Jaroo and Elmo. Elmo had the bad news that Grondarian had decided to send out a search party after the party, and list them as being wanted men with nearby towns and villages. More importantly, though, the Small Council had a request of the party. On behalf of their various benefactors, they wanted the party to travel to Nulb, a seedy town to the East, and then on to the Temple. The task – investigate the temple – find out what manner of evil stirs there, who it was Lareth was recruiting for. If the party can can – stop them, by whatever means. If the party cannot stop them, then report back. In return, after the deed was done, the Duke of Verbobonc, on authority of the King of Furyondy, would make all of them Knights, including a small grant of land and all the honors knighthood conveyed. The three left the party to consider, saying they’d need an answer by noon the following day. After a short discussion, the party separated to think on it, heading to various points in the church grounds.

Adventure Log - Session 7
Session 7, in which the party heads back into the dungeon, pursued by evil.

The party stood in the aftermath of the just-ended battle, covered in blood and open wounds, down on spells and hit points. They considered the three available exits – up the stairway where Ark had encountered the green slime trap, through the ogre’s lair, where Ark had witnessed a black-cloaked human guard retreating, or down the secret passage to the crypt. As they considered, they heard the sound of a distant explosion, and tongues of flame lept from the secret door leading to the crypt – the guards had sealed that exit with fire. Worried about noises from above, Blars cast an augury spell, asking if woe or weal were to be found if the party proceeded upward. The answer: woe. With near-certain woe above, the party chose to head through the ogre’s lair.

The party headed quickly into the ogre’s lair. While Schlomo and Shecky piled the remnants of the ogre’s bedding in the doorway behind them, recreating the trap they’d used successfully last time, Gabrial & Valen checked out the secret passage leading to the second stairway and the deeper dungeon. Valen and Gabriel heard the sounds of arguing from above, heavy objects being dragged, and a fire being started at the top of the stairs. Ark headed back to the main room to scout, and saw Jon Straw and 2 other Hommlet Guards racing down the stairs, running from something. Ark retreated into the ogre’s lair. When Jon and his companions entered the room adjacent to the ogre’s lair, Shecky, Schlomo and Blars let loose with missile weapons and ranged spells, followed by setting the fire trap alight. Blars cast obscuring mist to prevent Straw from firing into the room, blocking any visibility still left after the fire. From the far side of the Mist, the guards’ screaming was cut short by the sound of weapons clashing. With the fire and mist blocking their view, the party could not tell what was going on.

Ark joined Gabriel and Valen in the secret room. The rest of the party joined and debated their next move. As they argued, a rattling began at the door to the deeper dungeon, the secret panel slid open and a black-cloaked human guard poked his head in. He was struck by Gabriel and Ark, and retreated into the hallway. Through the small portal, the party saw a group of humans and bugbears. With the portal so small, the two parties found themselves in a stand-off.

Valen left the party to the stand-off to investigate the remains of the Jon Straw trap. Ark followed. Outside the ogre’s lair door, they found the remnants of two charred bodies, and a third, Jon Straw’s, sprawled in the hallway. A single black-cloaked human guard stood watch – he was quickly dispatched by Ark and Valen, who looted Straw’s corpse, finding another key matching Lt. Paul’s on a chain around his neck, and Straw’s magnificent composite battlebow.

As they returned to the rest of the party, the stand-off shifted. In ranks, the guards in the deeper dungeon hallway began an orderly retreat. Worried they’d return in greater numbers, the party pursued, engaging them in the hallway. Several of the human guards ran, and the party was tied up by a bugbear and several orcs who were eventually dispatched. Knowing it was essential to make decisions quickly now, lest they be caught on-heels by a larger force, the party decided to push forward once again into the dungeon. Moving as quickly and quietly as they were able, they pushed toward what the Gnoll captain had described as “the pond,” dispatching two more guards along the way.

The party reached the pond at the end of a long, downward-sloping corridor. It was a huge room, filled with a deep pool with a 5-foot lip running around it. As Ark stood sentry in the hallway, watching for pursuing black-cloaks, Blars and Valen began to search for hidden doors. As Blars moved to the middle of the south wall, a giant crayfish emerged from the pond and attacked, pulling him (in full scale mail armor) into the pond. The rest of the party rushed to his aid, firing missile weapons and spells into the pool. As Blars tried to shed his armor to prevent drowning, Valen and Ark (and eventually Schlomo) left into the pool to fight the beast. A long, loud battle ensued, during which time Blars nearly drowned, the party discharged the bulk of its spells, and half the party’s weapons and armor were dropped into the inky pool. Finally, though, the crayfish was destroyed.

The party pulled its gear out the water, and Valen used his swimming skill to explore the pool. Valen found a submerged tunnel, and he and Ark explored it, finding a small, dark air-filled cave and a sandy beach on the other end. As they returned to the rest of the party to deliver the news, the party heard the approach of armor-clad footsteps in the hallway. In no position to stand and fight, the party stripped their armor, tied themselves and their gear together, and, with Valen and Ark leading the way, swam to the secluded cave. Cut off from the rest of the dungeon, exhausted from battle, the party healed and slept for a full eight hours.

Upon waking, refreshed and renewed, the party debated strategy. With the lockboxes full of gold and the key from around Jon Straw’s neck, they had proof that Lt. Paul and his men had been disguising themselves as bandits and terrorizing merchants headed through the Hommlet crossroads. However, there was clearly something much larger going on in these dungeons below the old moathouse, something probably connected to the ancient Temple. It was very clear that Lt. Paul’s men were not connected to the black-cloaks – if the interrogations of the guards and the gnolls had only hinted at that lack of connection, Jon Straw’s death at black-cloaked hands confirmed it. If the group left then (assuming that whatever happened in the previous eight hours while they rested allowed they’d still be able to get out), who knew what would happen in these dungeons? The party decided to head toward the area where, according to the gnoll captain, there was a way out of the dungeon and, again according to the gnoll, the chambers of the Master. Whether they left or faced the master would be determined by what they found there.

Emerging from the pond, the party found many footprints in the damp, bload-soaked room, indicating the room had been searched. But no guards were present. Proceeding as quietly as possible, they headed down the corridors, following the gnoll’s map. After a half hour or so, they arrived at a juncture. In one direction was clearly moving air – a way out of the dungeon. In the other direction a door leading, according to the gnoll, to the master’s chambers.

After listening carefully at the door, Valen heard low voices and the shifting of an armored body. After a brief discussion, the party decided to push into the room. They found a long hallway, populated by three human guards. Two rushed forward to face the party, the third fled. The first two were quickly cut down and the party pursued the third into a larger room with four more guards, who fought fiercely, blocking the party from pushing into the next room. Moments later, six more guards entered the room – two bugbears and four humans. At 10 to 6, he odds turned against the party. Gabriel and Schlomo waded into the middle of the fray, attracting the attention of the bigger guards, while Blars held back, fighting with a human guard. Shecky found a corner from which to lob spells, while Valen hung back in the doorway, firing into the fray. The party dropped a pair of human guards, and the fight seemed to be turning, when three more humans in plate mail strode into the room. One, a tall blond human in plate mail with a gleaming longsword and shield, strode directly into the room to engage Gabriel – when he got near, the party could see that it was the blond shopkeeper from Hommlet, Gremag. As Gremag approached Gabriel, the other figure, in plate mail, carrying a glowing, ironshod quarterstaff, stopped in the doorway and uttered a command spell, ordering Gabriel to drop his weapon. Gabriel managed to fight the spell, but was shaken. Gremag then unleashed a devastating attack against Gabriel. A third sergeant joined the main fray.

As Gabriel fought Gremag and Schlomo and Ark plowed through the other guards, Valen and Shecky focused their fire (spells and arrows) on the other figure (Lareth) and Blars did his best to keep Gabriel alive with spells. As the remaining guards fell, Ark executed a flanking maneuver on Gremag, giving both him and the badly wounded Gabriel a slight advantage. As soon as he did so, however, Lareth cast “hold person” on Gabriel, who failed his save and went limp. Gremag took advantage of his helplessness by running him through with his longsword, sending him unconscious and bleeding to the ground. Shecky and Schlomo then rushed Lareth, while Ark and Valen concentrated on Gremag. While Valen peppered Gremag with arrows, Gremag wounded Ark deeply. Lareth smashed at Shecky several times with his magical staff, causing a great deal of damage despite frequent misses. Schlomo charged in to do massive damage to Lareth, who responded by casting, mid-battle, a spell which caused Schlomo to go immediately blind. Blars healed Gabriel, who climbed back to his feet to face Gremag again. With the damage already done to him by Ark, Schecky and Valen, the party managed to take down Gremag. Lareth, panicked, began casting another spell. Schlomo lashed out blindly to disrupt the spell and hit, bringing the evil cleric down before the spell left his lips.

Bloodied, battered and partially blind, the party quickly searched the bodies and the adjoining barracks. Ark took Lareth’s Staff of Striking, Schlomo or Gabriel (?) took Gremag’s magical longsword. As Schlomo’s sight slowly returned, Schlomo and Gabriel also stripped Gremag and Lareth of their fine suits of half-plate, taking them for themselves. In Lareth’s chambers, the party found an armoire containing a gem-encrusted necklace, a host of fine silver serving pieces, and a writing desk (as yet unexplored). Standing in the chambers of the evil cleric, Blars healed the party to the best of his ability, so that they might survive to escape the dungeon.

Adventure Log - Session 6
Session 6, in which the party bargains with a Gnoll, and finds serious trouble.

With dawn approaching and spells and hit points low for all, especially Ark, whose injuries and scarring remained severe despite magical healing, the party was hard-pressed to decide where to rest. After some discussion, they decided to retreat to the small room at the foot of the secret stairs where the rescued merchants had been cloistered.

When the party arrived at the secret chamber, however, the merchants were gone. Valen crept up the stairs and overheard a conversation between what sounded like the rescued merchants and members of the town guard – the merchants had not obeyed the party’s request and had revealed themselves, and the secret passage! As Valen crept back down the stairs, he slipped and alerted the guards above. As the guards above rained arrows down the secret stairs, the party surmised that this was only a distraction – that they were likely sending more fighters down the main stairs to ambush the party from behind.

In the Ogre’s lair (the only access point between the secret stairs and main stairs) Schlomo, Blars and Shecky piled the ogre’s filthy bedding in front of the door and doused it with oil. Gabriel took position at the foot of the secret stairs, defending the crossing against the arrows from above. After completing the trap and lighting it, the party (guarded by Gabriel and led by Ark) crossed through the secret doors into the deeper part of the dungeon which Valen had only started to explore. As they closed the door behind them, they heard the screams of the guards as they were caught in the fire left behind in the ogre’s lair.

The party moved cautiously into the deeper dungeon, looking for a place to rest. They crossed an odd barrier trap of some kind, but were unable to locate its point of activation. Just as they found a secret room concealing the apparatus used to raise the barrier (which had not fallen), they heard approaching footsteps. They hid and surprised two human guards wearing black cloaks adorned with a fiery eye. They killed one guard and subdued another, dragging him into the secret room they’d just found. They interrogated the guard, Cheney-style, but were able to learn only a few details about the dungeon – the guard was clearly more afraid of his master’s wrath than of death. Additionally, Gabriel and other members of the party concerned about morality were concerned with some methods used during the interrogation, creating some tension in the party. After having squeezed what they could, the party gagged the prisoner and rested. Those keeping watch heard passing guards several times during the night.

After resting, the party decided to investigate in the direction from which the guards had come, proceeding swiftly, knowing that eventually someone would notice the missing guards. In a side passage, they stumbled upon a lone Gnoll warrior in a black-with-eye cloak, who ran from them. The party pursued, and found themselves in a stand-off at the mouth of a large room with a band of six heavily-armed gnoll warriors. The party fought carefully, making use of the doorway and shape of the room, and, despite taking heavy damage, defeated the gnolls and subdued their captain. Upon interrogation by Valen (who speaks Gnoll) and Ark (who speaks violence), overseen by Gabriel (to ensure no torture was taking place), it became clear the gnoll captain was disgruntled and could be persuaded to reveal info if properly paid.

The party paid handsomely, and in return the gnoll captain drew a map outlining the route out of the dungeon, as well as the location of the “master:” acording to the gnoll, a self-important human named Lareth. They learned that Lareth was guarded heavily, and that he ruled his people through fear. They also learned that Lareth and his people, as far as the gnoll knew, had no connection to Lt. Paul’s bandits, but that Lareth’s people had used Paul’s banditry as cover for their own. They also learned that the gnolls hated Lareth, for some reason, and that Lareth had some connection to the old Temple of Elemental Evil. Beyond that, the gnoll either did not know or wouldn’t say. After receiving his gold, the gnoll vowed to leave quietly without alerting anyone. Ark followed him briefly to ensure his quick departure.

The party then debated how to proceed. Some of the party wanted to quietly leave and present their proof against Lt. Paul to the mayor of Hommlet, Grondarian. Some wanted to confront the master, Lareth, and the evil and torture he represented. Others wanted to explore further into the dungeon, at least to the “crypts” they’d learned of, in search of any treasure they might find. The explorers won the day, and the party proceeded to the crypts.

In the crypts, the party battled a pair of fast-moving, voracious undead with multiple attacks (no one could identify the type of undead) and defeated them. In the monsters’ nest (and the tunnels beyond), they discovered a small amount of treasure, including a potion and a magical scroll. As they were deciding how to proceed, they heard the approach of footsteps. A black-cloaked guard rounded the corner, saw them, and ran, yelling an alert to (presumably) the rest of his group. The party had been discovered!

Quickly, the party retreated into the secret tunnel which led back to the Ogre’s grim torture chamber. Behind them, the sound of many soldiers filled the crypts. The party climbed up a long ladder to the torture chamber. As they rested and strategized, Ark crept out into the main room to keep watch. Moments later, he spotted an advanced party of black-cloaked guards creeping into the relatively dark main room. He hid behind a pillar and watched as two humans and two bugbears emerged. He picked up a small stone and tried to throw it back at his party who were concealed 15 yards away…and missed. Critically. The clatter of his badly thrown stone against the very pillar behind which he was hiding alerted the advance party to his presence, and the guards attacked Ark.

The rest of the party joined in the melee. One of the human guards ran, disappearing into the ogre’s lair. As the party battled the remaining guards, Valen spotted Hommlet town guard Jon Straw, with another guard, crouched and watching from the main stairs. As the battle wound down and the party dispatched the black-cloaked bugbears, Straw and his companion fired a few shots at the party, before vanishing back up the stairs.

The party finally dispatched both bugbears and their human companion. The party, many (including Ark) severely wounded, turned to each other to regroup, knowing this might be only a momentary lull in the battle. Behind them were two ways out – one to the crypts, which was minutes ago filled with the black-cloaked guards, one through the ogre’s lair, from which the recently defeated black-cloaks had emerged. Ahead was another way out – up the stairs, following the same path as Jon Straw and his lackeys.

Will the black-cloaks continue to pursue them? With a day now having passed, what is the status of Jon Straw and Lt. Paul in the world above? And what should the party pursue? Proof of Lt. Paul’s bandit activity? More details about what might be new activity in service of the Temple of Elemental Evil? Possible treasure which might still be found in the unexplored dungeon? Or is the right path at this point simple self-preservation?

Adventure Log - Session 5
Session 5, in which things get really ugly for the party, and Ark barely escapes death.

At the opening of the session, the party found itself in an abandoned kitchen in the old moathouse. While healers tended to Gabriel’s wounds, the rest tossed the kitchen, finding nothing but rats. There was much discussion over tactics and what to do next: while it was clear from the tracks that Valen found in he courtyard that someone has been using the moathouse, there’s been no sign of the brigands or Lt. Paul despite the parties several somewhat noisy encounters (the spider, the lizard and the giant tick). Unsure as to what might constitute “proof” of banditry for the mayor, the party decided to continue to systematically investigate the moathouse, hoping to stumble upon something which will allow them to go back to town with proof.

Proceeding down the hallway, the party encountered the first locked door they’d seen. After knocking politely but hearing no response, the party decided to continue on into the huge audience chamber rather than bashing the door down. After examining the huge chamber with its piles of rubble for only a few moments, the party was ambushed! Only Valen was unsuprised as a group of 9 Hommlet town guards dressed in uniform (dark cloaks & leather armor), led by Lt. Paul and the archer Jon Straw, descended upon the party. With the guard bowmen (Lt. Paul and two others on crossbows, Jon Straw expertly wielding a metal-shod extra-fancy composite longbow) concealed and firing on the party from many directions, and several other bandits with melee weapons menacing the group, the party quickly found themselves in very dire straights. Shecky and Gabriel (the lightbearers at this time) were the focus of the bowmens’ onslaught, and were both reduced to low single digits in a few rounds, and the rest of the party significantly damaged as well. While Ark managed to kill one of the swordsmen, both Schlomo and Gabriel lost their weapons in the combat (a greatsword and a short spear +1 respectively), and the party was forced into self-preservation mode, fleeing through an open doorway into what appeared to be an abandoned throneroom. The party closed the doors and barred them.

Inside the room, the party found many empty bedrolls, along with bolts of fine cloth, barrels of spices, and other spoils of bandit raids, including two small lockboxes whose locks bore a strong resemblance to a key Valen and Ark remembered seeing around Lt. Paul’s neck. Shecky looked out through a hole in the crumbling wall to see two forms crouched in the bushes on the far side of the moat, while the rest of the party heard the door to the room being barred from the outside. Lt. Paul yelled through the door, telling the party that they were under arrest for banditry. He’d posted bowmen outside in case the party tried to escape through the breach in the wall. He’d also sent some of his men back to Hommlet to bring reinforcements and the mayor. According to Lt. Paul, when the mayor finds the party trapped in their hideout, surrounded by the spoils of their thieving, they’ll be lucky to only be imprisoned for life!

While Ark piled cloth and other items in front of the breach in the wall to protect from bowmen (and potentially start a fire), Blars pocketed the incriminating lockboxes and the rest of the party searched for something useful. Valen stumbled across a secret door, long forgotten, which lead to a dark, dank stairway heading downward. The party ducked into the secret door, and Valen covered their tracks and closed the door behind them. They’d escaped Lt. Paul’s trap, but escaped to where?

After descending the dank stairs 80 feet below ground, the party emerged in a small room which contained the back-side of two more secret doors. Opening one, they found more stairs down to a system of tunnels. Valen left the party and stealthily investigated the tunnels for almost an hour, finding a few branches, and in one branch an increasing light source along with several low voices speaking a goblinoid language that was neither Kobold nor Goblin. He returned to the party, where he listened at the other door and heard the sounds of sloppy crunching and chewing.

The party decided, after much discussion, to deal with the issue at hand (the chewing sounds) before further exploring the other tunnels. They popped out of the secret door, and this time the party caught a huge Ogre (in the middle of the grisly business of eating a gnome) by surprise. With the surprise advantage, the party made swift work of the ogre. Shecky found a Cloak of Elvenkind in the Ogre’s pile of rags and, after much haggling, Ark gave Shecky his Medallion of Protection so that Valen may have the magical Elven Cloak.

Then, the part heard weeping sounds from an adjoining room, where they found and freed three prisoners of the ogre (2 humans, 1 gnome) who’d been badly tortured. They claimed to be merchants (save the gnome, who was out of his mind) who were abducted by bandits clad in black, brought here and tortured for no reason they can discern. The party hid the prisoners in a safe place, and proceeded to the torture chamber, where they battled a dozen zombies in a grinding zombie slaughterfest.

The party found, in the environs of the chamber, a secret door leading further downward into smelly blackness, two locked doors, and a full-sized stairway up to (they think) the room where the battle with Lt. Paul took place. Ark decided to sneak up the stairs and take a peek around, and triggered a trap on the stairs: a huge green slime (150 or so gallons of it) poured down from the ceiling, engulfing him and filling his mouth, nose, ears, etc. etc. The party frantically tried to remove it from him as he struggled to retain consciousness and the slime penetrated into his body, dissolving him from the inside and outside. With a combination of torchfire, frost touch and water, the party was able to remove the slime after several minutes, but not before Ark was plunged deep into unconsciousness. Even after magical healing, he remained extremely weakened and scarred nearly head to toe, with his clothes in tatters and all of his hair and much skin burned away.

The party then broke into the two locked rooms, finding a huge armory for a potential small army of sinister “bandits,” including arms, armor, arrows and 70 black cloaks adorned with a fiery red and yellow eye.

The party hesitated, unsure what to do next. In the world above, dawn was approaching. Will Lt. Paul soon return with reinforcements and the mayor? Will they be able to prove their innocence? With spells and hit points running low, is it safe to rest anywhere? Who are these black-robed monsters who capture merchants and torture them without reason? Are the town guard and the black-robed denizens of the dungeon under the moathouse the same group, or two separate groups?

And, finally, how did we play an entire gaming session without the party beating Gabriel unconscious?

Adventure Log - Session 4
Session 4, in which Shecky is swallowed by a giant frog, but lives to tell the tale.

The whole group awoke early in the morning and rode with Jon Straw, Hommlet’s town guard archer, to the Iversen home. In investigating the fire, you found that the whole thing was torched (there was some kind of kerosene or lamp oil everywhere) and that the scene of the crime had been expertly cleaned, save a couple of partial boot marks which matched boots worn by the town guard, but in very large size.

Returning to town, a portion of the group, led by Valen, once again questioned Jessup, owner of the store. He claimed not to know who bought vast quantities of lamp oil, but appeared to be lying (statements by his stablehands reinforced this). Additionally, the other shop owner appeared prepared for violence.

While the majority of the party questioned Jessup, Gabriel led the questioning of Elmo Iversen, a giant, intellectually disabled member of the town guard, and the Iversen’s son. Once alone, Elmo confessed that he was not the town simpleton, but rather a ranger in the service of the Duke of Verbonc, sent to Hommlet under-cover to watch for stirrings from the old Temple of Elemental Evil. He accused Lt. Paul of leading the brigands who have been attacking caravans, but he’d been unable to report him for fear of blowing his cover. He didn’t know much about the specifics of the attacks, but had been used on several occasions to clean up after, including hauling the spoils to the abandoned Moathouse outside of town.

Excited, the party decided to take their findings to the mayor. At first he was alarmed but satisfied with their discovery. Problems arose, however, when the party asked him not to act on their assumptions, explained they had no proof (to protect Elmo’s undercover identity), and talked about other possibilities (and failed somewhere around 11 diplomacy checks). Angry now, the Mayor insisted the party head to the moathouse to get concrete proof one way or the other as to whether Lt. Paul was indeed the brigand leader.

The party left, heading to the moathouse on horseback. Not wanting to alarm anyone who might be watching, the stealthiest among the party (Ark, Shecky and Valen) dismounted and approached the last half mile on foot, only to be attacked by giant frogs (PTSD!). Not wanting to cause a ruckus, the three party members fought them off, but not before Shecky was swallowed whole. In the last moments of the battle, Valen called for help, bringing the armored (and loud) members of the party. Still trying to be as quiet as possible, they party healed and approached the moathouse.

The party found the moathouse unguarded, but the trackers found many signs of foot traffic. Directly inside the door, Blars was were lured by the shining of coins into a guard tower and attacked by a giant spider. Shortly thereafter, the party were lured by the sight of a locked chest into a room with a crumbling wall and were attacked by a giant lizard. Shortly thereafter, Gabriel was lured by the thought that there might be treasure in a barrel, and was attacked by a giant tick. (Later, your therapists will sense a pattern.) In trying to dislodge the tick, the party bludgeoned Gabriel into unconsciousness.

At the end of the session, the party had been exploring the Moathouse for about an hour (it’s now around 3AM) and have seen no one. As the healers awaken Gabriel from his brain-thumping unconsciousness, an eerie stillness settles over the abandoned moathouse. In the distance, frogs croak. Gabriel groans and wipes tick-blood off his face. It has been a long night, and it has barely begun.

Adventure Log - Session 3
In which the party size doubles, and the party are officially hired to track down the nefarious bandits.

The second half of the party, Arck, Schlomo and Shecky, three adventurers from the area of the Wild Coast looking for work, heard about Hommlet’s recent bandit troubles and were heading to that small village on a direct route through the wilderness. As they picked their way through a darkened forest near Hommlet just before setting camp for the night, they stumbled across another party of three humanoids (two smallish and one very large, broad shouldered one) wearing dark cloaks and carrying weapons coming from the vicinity of the town. They followed this group at a distance through the forest until morning, when the three odd-sized humanoids stopped at the edge of a clearing. The two smaller ones (goblins) began to prepare ranged weapons, while the larger set off along the treeline.

While the huge, heavily armed and armored Schlomo waited, Shecky crept toward the two smaller figures to get a better look, and Arck stealthily stalked after the big guy.

Gabriel, unaware of the activity 50 yards or so away in the treeline, gave what healing he had left to Blars and Valen. All three were now conscious (barely) and leaning outside the temple doors. Valen’s sharp elven ears heard the distinct sound of a bow being drawn just before he was shot in the leg by and rendered once again unconscious. Shecky and Schlomo lept on the goblins while Blars and Gabriel struggled to protect themselves and keep Valen alive.

Meanwhile, Arck made a less than stealthy move and found himself in combat with the big humanoid, who turned out to be a Bugbear.

Shecky and Schlomo (with the eventual help of Gabriel and the barely-healed Valen) killed the two goblins. The group went after Arck and the bugbear, and managed to help destroy the creature and save Arck from a pit of quicksand. The three “bad guys” were all dressed in black leathers and black cloaks adorned with the fiery eye symbol, which Arck and Blars working together identified as (possibly) a demonic symbol related to the old temple of elemental evil. They also carried a map to the temple and drawings of the evil artifacts within.

Having bonded over combat, the 6-member party hatched a plan to retrieve their loot from the temple using a distraction at the main doors, and Shecky as a gnomish claw machine game (with Valen operating) to retrieve the sacks of treasure through the broken temple ceiling. Despite a barely avoided encounter with a slithery silver creature, all went as planned and the group headed back toward town hauling huge piles of treasure. They left the joined sword/unholy symbol behind.

Upon reaching the edge of town the next morning, the party found that the citizens of Hommlet were streaming toward the inn at the center of town. Gabriel, Arck and Shecky blended into the crowd and headed toward the inn, while the rest of the party headed to the moneychanger to change the bags of loot into more portable gems. The exchange with the moneychanger went smoothly (save his large fee).

At the inn, guard Lt. Paul was calming a crowd of alarmed villagers. Apparently bandits had struck a caravan again while the party was at the temple, and the Iversson farm has been burned down in the night – also assumed to be the work of emboldened bandits. A curfew was created and villagers from the outskirts of town were asked to move to the inn temporarily so the town guard could protect them. As the crowd dispersed, Gabriel and Arck, who were unfamiliar to Paul and clothed in soiled and bloody garments, were arrested on suspicion of banditry, while Shecky’s small size allowed him to escape to warn the others.

At the jail, Gabriel’s great powers of persuasion, combined with testimony from Jessup, convinced Paul that the party were not bandits but had been hunting them. Gabriel and Arck were released, and at dinner that evening the town elders asked the party to take on the task of hunting the bandits. The party accepted.

After equipping themselves at a great discount at Jessup’s mercantile (including Arck buying a horse and Valen equipping himself with an exquisite composite longbow), the party retired for the night. Suspicious and wanting to get a jump on investigations, Arck and Valen snuck out after curfew. They stealthily avoided the lantern-bearing night watch patrols, and observed Lt. Paul and two other guards (without lanterns), covered in dark cloaks, leave town on horseback under the cover of darkness. They also checked-out the residence of Jessup, who appeared to be at home as expected, before sneaking back to the inn.

In the morning, the party asked to be shown the burnt-down Iversson farm. Since Lt. Paul was out on duty, the mayor/inkeeper introduced them to the guard’s human bowman/sniper, Jon Straw, who agreed to take them to the farm to investigate.


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