Thursday, 17 March 2016

[Actual Play] Cruth Lowlands Campaign: Session 7 - And the Party Was Incensed

Session 7 of the Cruth Lowlands Campaign took place today. For previous AP reports, see here.

PCs present:

  • Jason, playing Naghmeh, a 1st level magic-user
  • Patrice, playing Dragosta, a 1st level fighter

Andy and Sir Gareth were absent for this session, so Naghmeh and Dragosta, "the girls", decided to explore some new areas of the map. They were told by Yokomosok about an ancient elven tower in the forest that was rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of an elf princess. They also heard about an abandoned castle in the North, and about a merchant who had lost a shipment of salted fish in mysterious circumstances. They decided the ancient elven tower was the place for them. Before going, however, they decided to round up some help. While the party had exhausted all of the likely-looking brigands and mercenaries in town by now, at least for this month, they did manage to find some pathetic beggars and vagrants willing to do anything for cash. These were the friendly Calliope, the small person Zoe, and the one-eyed old man Christos. None had armour or any other equipment except clubs. They agreed to work for 1gp a week and a share of 10% of any treasure gained, split between them.

The tower stood alone on top of a hill amongst pine trees, and had a single dead oak outside. In the roots of this huge tree was a tunnel entrance, closed off by iron bars. Dragosta yanked off these bars and the party headed inside. They found an oak door on their left and a very narrow passage leading straight on. Examining this door, they noticed that around the edge was a strange, pale white mold. Dragosta noticed this could be scorched off with a torch. They did this and opened the door, revealing a room full of the mold. At the far end, in an alcove, was a gold statue of a young man with a huge sun-like disc behind him. 

The group spent quite some time investigating this room. They knew the mold was definitely dangerous, and that they shouldn't breath in any spores. They also noticed that just putting a toe into the room was enough to make the statue come to life, whereupon it would raise out its hand as if to say "halt", and speak in some strange language. They also surmised that this must have something to do with the cult of Apollo. Eventually, Dragosta scraped some of the mold into a pouch and sealed it, to carry off with her.

They explored beyond the narrow passage. On the right was a door which seemed locked and they couldn't force. On the left were stairs heading down - a long way, well over 100 steps. Beyond that was another door on the left, behind which they could hear strange chittering sounds. And further beyond that was a large, open room. 

They decided not to go down stairs, but to investigate the door beyond it. Opening it, they found half a dozen large centipedes, at least three feet long. Dragosta quickly threw in the pouch of mold and then shut the door. They decided to leave it and wait to see what effect it had. In the mean time, they would explore the large open room further in.

This large room was the base of the tower. On the floor was the long-dead skeleton of a man, wearing rusty plate mail, and carry a strangely-pristine iron warhammer. On the South wall was a staircase heading down. Above them was a hole in the ceiling, which had presumably once housed a pulley. They hit on a plan to have Dragosta climb on Christos' shoulders, and then toss Zoe up into the hole in the ceiling with a rope she could lower down. This she did, and they got up into the second level. This proved to be a large room with many windows, and a strange sweet smell in the air. The source of this was revealed to be 12 large sacks of some kind of elven incense. They lowered this all down to the ground floor with the rope, and then investigated the windows. Dragosta tried tossing Zoe up onto the roof of the tower with a rope round her waist, but didn't make it; luckily the rope didn't snap and the hireling survived. They reeled her in and descended the tower. Naghmeh then hit on the idea of using incense in the statute room, on the basis it might have religious significance. She put a sack's worth in Dragosta's small cauldron, and set it alight, then place it in the statue room. Sure enough, the incense seemed to placate the statute and seemed to stimulate the mold to release clouds of spores. They decided to leave the incense burning in the room and see if it would cause the mold to 'spend' all of its spores. . 

In the meantime they decided to investigate the staircase in the Southern wall of the tower base. At the bottom they found a series of rooms. One of these was decked out like the room of an elf maiden; it contained a bed, a beautiful coat stitched with silver and gold, a wolf skin rug, two books, and three vials. Dragosta put the coat on and Naghmeh took the books; they also took a vial each and gave one to Zoe. Zoe immediately opened it and, assuming it was perfume, put it all over her body.

In the next room they found a big, open chamber decorated with magnificent frescoes of elf lords and ladies, hunting parties, and banquets. And in the corner, sitting on a chair, a skeleton wearing a beautiful green dress. Heedless of Dragosta's warnings, Naghmeh strode forward to investigate. Sure enough, this turned out to be a spectacularly bad idea, because it led to an epic conflict - which must have lasted 20 rounds - in which what turned out to be an elf wraith killed all of the hirelings and very nearly killed Dragosta. [DM's note: I had a brain fart and completely fluffed my lines, giving Dragosta a saving throw attempt against the wraith's energy drain, which she survived. For some reason I forgot there is no saving throw against level drain. But on the basis that DM errors in the player's favour shouldn't be overturned, the result stands.] But the warhammer seemed to have some kind of powerful effect over the wraith and ultimately the party prevailed. 

Dragosta and Naghmeh went back to the statue room to see what had happened. Indeed, the incense seemed to have over-stimulated the mold so it no longer released any spores. It also seemed to placate the statue, and they were able to inspect it. It seemed the statue itself was stuck fast to the ground, but the sun disc could be removed and was solid gold. However, they knew they had no hope of carrying it back to town, so they got what loot they could carry (two sacks of incense each, the coat, the rug, the vials, and the books) and headed back to town. Selling the incense gave them 3000 gp, more than enough cash to buy two oxen and a large cart and some hay, and the next day they took this back to the tower to get the disc, with two new vagrants in tow - Eva (infested with fleas) and big, muscular man [DM's note: his name currently escapes me). 

In the tower they noticed that there had been activity during the night. The skeleton corpse in the plate mail armour had disappeared, and the door to the centipede room was mysteriously open - revealing six dead giant centipedes, all apparently killed by mold exploding out of them. The PCs decided not to investigate further, but to just get the sun disc and get out of there. This they did, and took it back to town covered in hay.

The halfling woman jeweller, Squinter, agreed to value the disc and turn it into bullion in return for 10% of its value. This turned out to be 7000 gp. They agreed to this; giving a share of 10% to Eva and the big, muscular man resulted in a total haul of 5600 gp. Split two ways and with the sale of the sacks of incense taken into account, this was enough to take Dragosta to level 3 and Naghmeh to level 2. A stunning success after a number of barren sessions, and good reward for sheer bravery in not fleeing the wraith. 

They then took the hammer, books, vials, and elven coat to the sage, Karpi. He agreed to identify them for 100 gp each. The vials were revealed to be ordinary perfume, and Karpi didn't know about the books (he thought there were in some old elven dialect) but he knew that the hammer had once been owned by a man called Sir Evangelios, who was the older brother of the ruler of Riverfork, Sir Iannis. Sir Evangelios had gone into the forest in search of adventure with this hammer, but never returned. It was rumoured to be especially puissant against the undead, but was also said to be cursed. He advised Dragosta never to wear it around town. He then told them that the elven coat was the kind given to elf maidens on their wedding days. Wearing it would have a strange effect on elves, making them easily persuadable by the wearer.

The PCs heard that in the forests to the South lived a Jann, from Ylaurumm, who might know more about these items. They decided this should be their next port of call - and that they also wanted to seek out some elves to translate the books and persuade to do things. (Possibly after revenge on the gnomes to continue the vendetta from last session.)

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