Friday, November 15, 2013

Wilds - A Brief Interlude

After the chaotic fight with the trogs, the party was pretty well beaten up and out of healing spells. They decided to fall back to camp and rest up for a day or so. It turns out this was a Good Thing (TM), as the next morning Maro suffered a bout of fever, and was weak and listless all day. He asked Durego for his opinion, and a brief check revealed a major rash on the elf's back and leg. After checking with the others (no one else has similar symptoms), Locky remembered the giant ticks. One of them had bitten Maro, and he'd had these fever fits since. Durego decided to use the party's cure disease scroll on the elf, and shortly thereafter the rash and major symptoms disappeared. This was a good thing, tick fever is deadly over time, and Maro was already down two strength and two constitution. After full recovery the party made an early start back to the Maze, and headed in after scouting the surface...

Start Date: August 28, Year of the Badger, mid-morning
Start Status: I'm feeling better
Start Location: Outside the ruins

The Turn

"Boy I'm sure glad we used that scroll. I feel a lot better now. I wasn't looking forward to the hike here before," says Maro, eying the ruins from cover.

"Well don't push too hard. You need to recover your strength," advises Durego. "Stay close to everyone else, just in case."

Maro nods, and the party moves forward cautiously, eyes (and noses) peeled for any sign of trouble. They weave between the broken walls, and down the stairs, into the east-west hall on the first level (known as level one). There are no signs of trouble in the hall or the room to the south, so they continue through the hall, into the tomb complex, and on to the next stairway down.

Here there are signs of passage, but it's impossible to say if it's from the party or other creatures. Too many footprints now. The Ingvild thinks that Durego's idea of checking the secret tunnel is good, and since the trogs never really got a look at that area, there's some chance they don't know about it. He offers to check the passage and the doors at the far ends. Rawon goes with him while the others maintain position in the hall at the bottom of the stair. The pair returns after several minutes, reporting that both doorways look clear, and that the trog-remains are gone! "We couldn't really see much detail given the layout, but the bodies have definitely been moved," says Rawon.

"Or eaten," mutters Ingvild.

With the secret tunnel clear, the party moves to the north door and checks for locks/traps (nothing). Raúguey grabs the ring and pulls the door open while the others stand ready. The space beyond is a dark and empty L-shaped room, with the 'leg' heading W. There's a faint musty, damp odor to the space, like that of a long-disused room.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

Around the corner there's a single door in the W wall. "That probably connects to the corridor with the pit," says Ohwatoo, studying his map. "We should check this room, and perhaps the E wall in the hallway, for secret doors. If I'm right, and I usually am, that crevice we saw upstairs should be 10 or 20 yards east of us, assuming it is at the same depth."

Leaving Raúguey and Durego on watch by the newly discovered door, the others check for secret doors where Ohwatoo suggests, but discover nothing. With that out of the way, the group focuses on the W door, which Ingvild says is free of traps. Raúguey gives it a shove, and it swings open with a loud creaking. As expected the hall lies beyond. "Right," says Durego, "time to backtrack and try the other direction. Let's close this up. If the trogs don't know about the secret doors, this room would be a dead end considering the pit blocks the north hall."

The group backtracks south along the stair/hall, and heads into the so-called summoning room, taking the usual precautions. It appears unchanged so you continue, through the hall, and into the statue room. Here, things have changed. The three dead trogs, now wrapped in rough woven cloth, are lined up on the ground in front of the statue, heads closest to the pedestal. There is a crude symbol painted on the cloth above each creature's heart, which Ohwatoo translates from Goblin as 'protect' or 'guard'.

Skirting the bodies for now, Ingvild listens at each doorway, W and N, but hears nothing. Finally Raúguey pushes open the north doors and the group proceeds into the northern hallway, past the pit, and takes up position at the three way intersection, leaving Maro watching the statue room to the south, and Durego and Mordikarr double-checking the north hall to be sure it's empty too. Ingvidl creeps forward down the west hall to the first doorway, stops, and listens, then pulls back. "More hall ahead, and more doors. Where to?"

"If we're not going to go through the doors in the statue room, at least we need to check this door right here," says Locky, pointing to the door right near the intersection. The others nod agreement, so Ingvild checks the door for traps, and then gives the all clear. Raúguey yanks the ring, and it grates open scraping across the floor. Beyond is a small, obviously disused chamber, 10x15 more or less. Aside from a thick layer of dust, the space is unremarkable.

"OK, guess that's a bust. Let's try the first door in the hall." The others nod along with Locky's suggestion, and everyone moves into the main E-W hall.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

After meticulously tapping every square foot of the floor the party moves ahead five feet.

The floor in this space shows signs of regular passage, which seem like they continue W and also branch into the nearest S door. With everyone ready, Ingvild and Raúguey do their thing. This door opens inward, into a narrow corridor heading S. There's a branch W and more doors within.

"This is a complicated place," whispers Ohwatoo.

The tapping bit was my hint to the party that proceeding as they were (ultra-cautiously) was going to take time. After this turn went out it kicked off a bit of OOC discussion about how the game was flowing and everyone agreed there was a bit of lost focus. Raúguey's player suggested the group was suffering analysis paralysis, because the big OOC planning part of the game was taking over the entire discussion. Everyone agreed to shift to a more character-focused approach to see how that worked, which lead to the next turn.

As Ingvild listens at the first door and checks around the corner of the southern passage, Locky cries out, "Raúguey, what are you doing!?"

"Uh oh," mutters the thief to himself, as he takes a hasty look around the bend then retreats to the main E-W hall. Ahead there's a loud creaking / scraping sound and by the time he rejoins the others, the first door in the main hall is open and Raúguey and Durego are in the room beyond! "What the..."

"I guess we're going west," mutters Rawon, who is standing watch by the south passage. The elf takes a nip from his flask and continues, "Let's shut this for now. See anything?"

Ingvild shakes his head, "More passage west and a door to the south." He moves forward, clapping Dagmarten on the shoulder. "Stay alert brother, looks like Raúguey has a bee in his helm." The priest nods and tests his sling. The thief walks past the door, giving Mordikarr a shrug as he goes by. He pauses next to the next door and then stoops to check the lock for traps. Thus far the doors have been simple affairs, pull rings and simple latches, and this is no different.

As he rises Raúguey and Durego come back into the hall. "Nothing in here," calls the cleric, "just a mouldering rug on the floor."

"Is that door clear?" asks Raúguey. The thief nods. "Then let's check inside," says the fighter as he moves forward. Reluctantly the rest of the party shifts forward, leaving the rearguard by the recently opened north door. Raúguey pulls open the second north door and darts inside, Durego follows at a slower pace. This chamber matches the previous, 10x15, with a mouldering rug on the floor. It adds a broken chair and table, but nothing else of interest lies within.

As the pair exits the room, Ohwatoo places a warning hand on the fighter's arm and holds a finger to his lips. "Intersection ahead," he whispers, "Ingvild and Locky are checking it out."

As the two peer around the corners ahead, the group shuffles forward, taking position at the next door. In contrast to most of the doors found thus far, the two remaining doors on the north wall are iron, and fitted with more intricate latch mechanisms. When the scouts return Ingvild starts examining the doors while Locky explains.

"There's a chamber ahead, with a pool in the center. It looks like a fountain, there's something in the middle, but it's too dark to make out. Ingvild spotted some grates in the floor, like drains. There's a big corridor going straight south, and another heading SE with pillars down the center, and a door too. Oh there's a door in the fountain chamber too."

Durego says, "Keep watch at the corner, we'll check these doors first."

"I don't see any traps, but those locks are more complex. Lift the lever to unlock them." He takes position by the last door as Raúguey and Durego open the nearer of the pair.

"Well, that's different," says Raúguey.

Within the small 10x15 chamber is a strange mechanism of greasy iron and verdigrised brass: two squat humanoid figures flanking a notched stone pillar, their hands linked to levers that connect to a cluster of gears, rods, and levers that wrap around the pillar. Two thick iron rods protrude from slots in the floor, one on either side of the device. Each has a handle at the top, both are tilted north, away from the entry doors.

"What do you think it is?" asks Raúguey, drifting closer to the nearest lever.

"Do NOT touch that," hisses Durego. "Let Ohwatoo look it over first."

"Aww, what's the worse that could happen?" asks the fighter.

"I'm sure I don't want to give the gods any ideas," answers Durego. "You're good at busting doors and heads, let the brainy guy do his thing in here."


The three trog pouches contain (total):
*    37 SP 33 GP
*  A piece of vellum with the following written in Goblin (crude writing).

Four go to dawn.
Five go to dark.
Seven remain.

Ohwatoo's best guess as to the mechanism: the gears / rods / levers appear to move around the notched pillar, perhaps shifting or turning it. There's no obvious way to determine what the levers in the floor do. They disappear down narrow slots and there doesn't seem to be any way to access what lies beneath. The elves can see no secret doors in this chamber, and Ingvild finds no obvious traps.

Note that this room is kind of small, so some folk are still out in the hall unless you really squeeze.

That brings us to the end of a three-turn run. Mordikarr's player pointed out that we've passed a full year of play in this game, which makes it one of the longest-running PBM games I've done for this group. Along the way we've had three character deaths, two removing non-participating players and one by just plain bad luck. As usual we've had our ups and downs of interest and excitement. Hopefully the party will make it back to town at least one more time...

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