Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Houses of Stone: Player Report (Session I)

Thanks to Christian Akacro for writing this report. Yes, he got a bonus of 100xp for this.

Houses of Stone ~ The Puzzle, the Vermin, and the Spectre

Dramatis Personae
Farley ~ Dwarf
Tobias ~ Shaman (Wizard)
The Slip ~ Thief
Rubro ~ Monk
Madyn ~ Cleric
Donnatalus ~ Fighter

Our intrepid heroes, having trekked in the jungles of the Dark Continent in search of rumoured ruins untouched by sword or spell for generations, began their quest in a small unnamed village. Speaking first with the headman they learned that the Spirit of his great great grandfather had been haunting the village after dark every fortnight. It was seen wandering aimlessly within the village for a short time before setting down near the headman's hut to reflect upon its ruminations. Finally at dawn it could be seen wandering off in the direction of the old ruins. The headman told them their timing was fortuitous, if it holds true to form the spirit should make an appearance that night after dusk. According to the headman the ruins were discovered a couple generations ago. After an ill-fated quest by a group, whom never returned, no one dared go near the crumbling structures for fear of being lost forever.

[More after the jump]

After determining to follow and perhaps speak with the ancestral spirit come nightfall the group decided to scout the ruins ahead so as to be wary for any surprises should the spirit lead them into danger. Having little trouble finding the ruins they saw a slowly crumbling grouping of stone structures and immediately fanned out in groups of two to check out the immediate area. They found that they are the first to disturb the area in some time as there are no tracks, or in fact evidence of any animal life within the city walls, and when they come back together Rubro noticed that it was odd that there was so little vegetation in this seemingly abandoned area. One would have expected it to be overgrown. Also found was two groupings of five stones that made a mechanical click when pressed but otherwise seemed unaffected. The party noticed that one of the stone groupings had digits carved into them in a local dialect numbering from one to five.

After a short discussion it was decided to try to puzzle out the mechanism. First Tobias checked for magic and found a faint glow emanating from below, but not from the stones. He also saw as a visible magical thread leading into the glow below. Then The Slip painstakingly checked for traps around the numbered stones. Finding none he stepped aside. The rest of the party, either unsure or afraid, holds back before Rubro the Monk strode forward confidently and keyed in a sequence.

"This is an ancient natural sequence I learned of in the monastery," he said to the others as he pressed the stones labelled one, one again, then two, three, and five.

With a thunk and a small groan a secret door slides aside and an opening appears with a spiral staircase leading down. Proceeding cautiously the group forms up into a marching order headed up by The Slip, and Farley. Madyn and Tobias are next, followed by Donnatalus and Rubro in the rear.

The walls were made of stone bricks that bow and curve seemingly following the natural formations of the rock beneath. The air was somewhat stale but clearly was not dangerous. No sounds penetrated the landing save the shuffling ministrations of the group themselves and no light save for Madyn's trusty Orb of Light pierced the dusty depths.

Very cautiously they explored the first few doors and rooms. Checking for traps and the untoward sounds of any residents frequently; they slowly made their way. At the head of the group Farley used a long pole to check the firmness of the ground underneath before having it bear his weight. After a couple of hallways and rooms, Rubro borrowed some chalk and began to mark their path on the walls lest they get lost.

In one of the near empty rooms they discovered a shield lying forlorn. Tobias confirmed its magical nature of some sort and Madyn took the shield and began to use it. After briefly trying to trip the enchantment to no avail the group pressed on.

As they rounded a corner heading for a small door Farley luckily tripped a pit trap with his pole that could have seriously harmed him and The Slip. With just enough room to skirt the edges of the trap they made their way past it. The Slip checked for any traps on the door and finding none called Rubro, the strongest amongst them, to open the door. Moving with purpose and confidence Rubro approached the door, calmly lifted the latch, and swung the door open with an enigmatic smile playing across his features.

Another empty room with another closed door and The Slip has had enough.

"We've wasted enough time on these doors when there's no traps to be had and no locks to pick."

With that he attempted to open the door and though he could raise the latch he could not get the door to budge. With a sheepish way about him he made way for Rubro whom effortlessly opened the door, again.

Three large rats rummaged about the room and upon hearing the door open turned to meet the intruders to their tiny corner. Squeaking and baring their carrion covered fangs the shabby monsters attacked. With little difficulty the group dispatched the minor threat with Farley notably having impaled one upon his spear.

At this point they discovered a small maze of rooms that loops upon itself and when checking the last little corner of it they found an open door with voices coming from within. Peeking around the side of the doorjamb Farley saw a few human men searching the room thoroughly. He motioned us to take up positions and we all burst forth into the room at once. On instinct the trio reached for their weapons.

"What are you doing in my home?!" yelled the dwarf intimidatingly.

The three men instantly looked guilty and abased themselves in front of the vexed dwarf as they ensheathed their weapons. They handed over what they'd found so far and begged for the crew's mercy. Farley offered them some of their gold back and the promise of more in exchange for their servitude. The threesome readily agreed and with night soon approaching Rubro suggested they head back before they got lost in the jungle.

Making their way back using Rubro's markings they had no trouble quickly traversing the previously covered ground, bypassing the looping area. With only a few rooms to go one of the three men looked back and uttered a feeble, "Help."

Whirling about the adventurers sprung into action against a handful of grotesque screeching baboons that came up on their flank. Carrying daggers and with no room for negotiation the monkeys attacked.

While he was whirling about Rubro was stabbed in his side by one of the gibbering primates. Everyone, save Tobias and the trio, made a flailing attack but they each missed their target. Tobias moves away from the fight and began cheering for his friends as they attacked again.

Bolstered by the shaman's hurrah the group rallied and one by one they end the bothersome animals. Rubro planted a side-kick in the final monkey's face sending it sprawling into the wall. Farley tied up and gagged the only living baboon left and they exited the underground network without further incident.

As they made their way clear of the entrance the trio of looters made a break in a mad dash for freedom. Not wanting to lose his newly acquired vassals Farley took after them.

"You go on, I'll catch up!" he called back as he bounded off into the jungle.

The rest of them made their way back to the village where they find the ancestral spirit sitting outside the headman's hut. Seemingly friendly the spirit explained that he only has the best interest of his descendants at heart and that he came to inspire his people with hope and an interest in their undiscovered past.

After reassuring him that the group would wrest the secrets of the ruins from the depths and would pass that knowledge to his people the spirit got up and walked away towards the ruins, a pleasant smile upon his intangible face.

Donnatalus related all they found thus far to the headman. The headman thanked them and ensured that he laid no claim on any treasures hidden within so long as the group tells of any clues to the village's history within the ruins they find.

Having found quarter within the shaman Tobias' home they rested up in preparation of continuing the adventure anew in the morning.

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