A big chunk of exploration and roaming here. The party is facing a ton of choices, and they're not 100% sure which way they want to go. This report covers two turns.
Start Date: September 1, Year of the Badger, mid-morning
Start Status: Which way do we go?
Start Location: Blackpool Maze
With the discovery of the potential arrow-slitted death-trap, party sentiment is divided. The bolder (or foolish, depending on your point of view) want to head into the defended hall, while the cautious (or prudent) members of the party want to seek an alternative path, possibly finding a way to get at any defenders from behind. In the end, the group pursues both courses of action.
Since the little foray into the hall didn't seem to draw a response, Raúguey and Tesso move the heavy table out of the bugbear lair, down the hall, and stand it near the south doorway, ready to act as a crude ram or defensive cover as needed. Meanwhile, Rawon and Maro backtrack a bit, while Locky studies Ohwatoo's map and points out areas that should be checked for secret doors, the room at the south end of the hall, the west walls of the southern hallway, and the south wall of the short hall leading to the bugbear lair. Mordikarr spends his time studying the room with the illusion-covered pit within, trying to figure out where the door goes. He and Ingvild also spend some time poking their heads through the illusion-floor, peering down at the unfinished floor below, looking for anything of interest. This all proves time-consuming, but fruitless.
"OK, which way? Arrow-hall or back doors?" Raúguey's patience is wearing thin. Mutters all around, but the majority seem to think at least checking for a back way is preferable to frontal assault through fortified halls. "OK, let's go then," grumbles the fighter.
The group reforms near the double-doors in the broken dais room. Ingvild checks for traps, and then gives Raúguey a nod. The big guy grabs the handles and shoves, thrusting the doors wide.
Silence. The space beyond is a T-shaped hall, about 40 feet long, with a branch east about 15 feet long. Arrow slits line the walls. But it's empty, except for a few oily shards of pottery on the floor near the door. A faint odor, musty and dank, pervades the air. Finally Maro speaks. "They abandoned it. They took their stuff and left."
"Maybe, maybe not. We should check this out and see what we can see through the arrow slits," says Dagmarten.
"Agreed," answers Locky, already moving forward. "What's this?" he asks, pointing ahead, where a rusted iron lever sticks out of the wall. He reaches up to give it a tug, but Durego warns him off. Reluctantly the halfling turns his attention to the arrow slits, as do several of the others, describing what they see for Ohwatoo.
"Water here, a pool with a big beam across it."
"Door here, hallway."
"A door here too. I can see where we came in before."
"Can't quiet see the corner to the south here. Might be something else there."
Eventually the search is complete, and the party regroups. "Where go now?" asks Mordikarr.
"We should do something about that shaft leading down. I don't like leaving a secret opening like that behind us," says Durego.
"True," says Ohwatoo, still trying to update the map with the charcoal he's forced to use. "We should let Maro or Rawon check the bottom, then block it off before we proceed. Never know what might come up from below."
The troupe backtracks to the tree room, and Rawon goes down the shaft, while Durego, Mordikarr, Ingvild, Tesso, and Raúguey bring one of the statues into the room. Rawon returns quickly. "There's a secret panel down there. I opened it briefly, and took a quick look. It's a natural cave, at least 20x10, and an opening leading away southwest. I didn't see any sign of passage, but I didn't look too hard either." The elf takes a swig from his flask. "Never know what you'll find in caves like that."
"So we block this off for now," says Locky, "and concentrate on the area to the south." The others nod, and the muscle moves the statue in front of the panel that covers the secret shaft. Then with the rear secure (sort of), the party plans their next move.
"You may want to go slipping and sliding around that ledge above the death pit, but I don't," says Ohwatoo. "I'd rather we check out other options before we deal with that."
Several other party members mutter in agreement, so Maro reluctantly closes the door leading to the stench-filled chamber. "We'll have to go that way eventually," he says, half to himself.
"Let's check that other door near the broken dais. Maybe it's a way around," says Rawon. With that the troupe heads south to the chamber at the end of the hall. Mordikarr and Durego watch Ingvild check out the door while Rawon and Locky watch the halls and arrow slit room respectively. Maro and Ohwatoo investigate the broken dais, which once held a stone statue. All that remains are a pair of feet and one robed leg. It would have been big though, eight feet tall at least.
"Door's clear," says Ingvild, stepping aside to let Raúguey do his thing.
Sword in hand, the fighter yanks open the door, revealing a 12x15 chamber. A eight or so small sleeping pallets are scattered about the space, and there is a faint wet-dog odor in the air. "Kobolds!" says Raúguey, poking the straw pads with the Sword of Bees, which buzzes irritably.
Maro and Mordikarr join Raúguey in the room and give it a quick once over. Ohwatoo peers through the door to add the space to his map. The rest of the group continues to watch the many halls leading away. "Doesn't look like there's much here," says Maro.
"Cleaned out, like the bugbears. I guess they didn't want to wait for us to come back."
"Maybe we kill all dog-faces?"
"Maybe, though I wouldn't count on it," answers Maro.
With little else to see and the others anxious to press on, the trio leaves the room, pulling the door closed behind them. The group treks east through the bugbear lair, down the south hall, through the door at the far end, and then winds past the arrow slits to the next door (tapping the floor ahead of them as they go). The door opens easily and the group continues to the pool they saw from the arrow slits.
"Wow. That's a big board," says Raúguey, kicking the thick slab that lays across the pool. It's a massive chunk of oak, two feet wide, eight inches thick, and eighteen feet long. [Oh noes, it's a deadly plank, the most fearsome creature in all the dungeon!]
Ohwatoo studies the layout, "It's going to be hard to maneuver that back across the pool without going for a swim. I wonder how they got it across in the first place."
"The pool is pretty deep too," says Ingvild, probing with one of the improvised staffs the party carries. "I can't feel a bottom here." The water is dark and murky, its surface about six inches below the level of the floor.
"Be careful!" warns Durego. "Don't forget about that lever, there has to be some kind of mechanism or trap here it activates." The party takes turns scanning the walls, floors, and ceilings near the pool, but no one sees anything out of the ordinary, just mortared stone walls and dark, chilly water. Locky and Ingvild tie the halfling's light stone to a bit of string and lower it into the pool. The glow vanishes from sight at five feet, and the string... keeps going. eight, ten, fourteen... "Wow, this is deep!" exclaims Locky. "We may need more string to really find out how far it goes." Finally the stone hits... something, about twenty feet down. Ingvild jiggles and bounces the stone a few times, then shrugs and pulls it back up.
"OK let's get this and check out that door by the pit," says Raúguey, stooping to grab the plank.
"Just a minute," interrupts Ohwatoo. "We should at least check to the far door before we move that. If my quick calculations are correct, and they usually are, that plank weighs close to half a ton. We should test that it's solid, and use it while we can before we move it." [seriously, it's a *really big* plank]
"I agree. Let's see what's around the bend," says Ingvild. "Locky, you're lightest, you go first, I'll follow." The pair rope up, just in case, and edge across the beam, which proves to be a little springy in the center, but otherwise solid. "No problem," calls Ingvild. "Let's check this door."
"Just a minute," says Raúguey. He strides across the beam and joins the pair. "May as well be ready for anything. Go ahead." Maro crosses the plank as well, "Just in case."
Locky and Maro position themselves near the pool while Raúguey and Ingvild check the door. No obvious traps, so Raúguey pulls it open. More hallway, more arrow slits, and another pool, complete with a beam of its own.
"Well this is strange," mutters Ingvild from beside the door. "I... look out!" A flash of movement catches the thief's eye and he darts to the side, shoving at the door as he moves. Too late! A pair of crossbow bolts streak forth from the two arrow slits ahead, one striking Ingvild, the other hitting Raúguey! [3 damage Ingvild, 1 to Raúguey]
"Oh crud!" cries Locky.
"Kobolds!" whispers Ingvild from beside the now mostly closed door. "I can hear them but can't make out what they're saying."