(The original of this adventure was written by Andy Slack and appeared on his Shadows of Keron/Halfway Station blog. My thanks to Andy for letting me use it.)
1st Winters Night, Caldeia
Winter is drawing in and even in Caldeia it is noticeably cooler than usual. Drogo, Galadiir and Geoff are out looking for a horse for Galadiir when they are spotted by some city guards. A chase ensued through the narrow, twisted streets of Landside.
(Caldeia is built on a series of islands in the delta of the Buffalo River; the islands are walled and linked by bridges. Landside is on the eastern bank of the river and holds taverns, the visiting merchants, the main slave market and holding pens and an open market. It borders the slums and the leper colony).
Running through the twisted streets, they failed to realise that they were being herded towards the waterfront. At one point, upon entering an open space, Galadiir turned and loosed a “Roses Thorn” which slowed one pursuer. He ran through a market place, leaping onto and over stalls, always keeping his distance from the guards. Elsewhere, Drogo was hit by an arrow and wounded. Another spell took down another guard, but the remainder closed in. They had been backed into an alley; the only way out was leaping over a low wall into a fetid canal.
They hid on the bank underneath the canal wall; from above they could hear the guards searching. Looking for somewhere to hide; they found a hole in the bank leading to a bricked-up archway. The bricks had been removed from inside; Geoff noticed that there were long claw marks on some of them and that there were web-footed tracks in the mud. Lighting up a lantern and entering in, a short passage led to a short flight of steps down into a smelly, slimy-floored chamber. Six pillars held up a ceiling carved to resemble bunches of grapes (?), the walls streamed moisture and were green with algae.
“Looks like part of the sewers”, commented Galadiir.
“So what escaped then?” countered Geoff. “Very big rats?”
Three archways led out of the chamber; investigating the left one, it led to a rough-hewn cave with a murky pool in the centre. There didn’t seem to be anything there so they returned to the pillared chamber, in time to see a group of humanoids spilling from the opposite archway. They were bigger than human and resembled bipedal frogs, with wide slobbering mouths. They carried jagged blades in their hands and uttered a harsh guttural croaking sound.
Always quick to react, Galadiir let loose his “Sea of the Dead” spell, a Blast that filled the area with the screams of the tormented. The frog-men didn’t like this and several succumbed to the spell. Drogo ran forward to melee the remaining creatures.
“Khal Drogo will eat your legs for his dinner!”
Geoff was about to join him when he was seized from behind by a giant crocodile that had stealthily crept out of the pool. The crocodile got a good grip and went into a death roll; Geoff was badly hurt and Shaken; not surprisingly he went Berserk and killed the crocodile in short order. Galadiir had wisely retreated away from the furious melee. Meanwhile, the last surviving frog-man put up a good fight against Drogo; finally it got past him and ran through the final archway. They heard a splash …
To be continued.
GM: The dice were with them this night until it came to Soaking damage!
Galadiir* attempted to heal Geoff’s wounds but they were too severe with the limited resources he had available. They searched the frog-man quarters; Galadiir secretly pocketed 20 moons in slimy coins. Another frog-man escaped from a side chamber and ran off, again a splash was heard. There were no other exits from this area so they went back through the last archway.
A chamber, completely bisected by a ‘swimming pool’. Steps down into the water and up again on the opposite side. There were two bodies floating in the water and an archway in the opposite wall.
Galadiir cut off and threw in a frog leg, something began to eat it. Geoff grappled one of the bodies with a rope and grappling hook; it was a part-eaten female wearing slave clothing and collar. The torso was covered in hundreds of tiny bites.
Geoff and Drogo took several attempts to throw the grappling hook and rope to catch in the ceiling. Several times the hook landed in the pool with a loud splash. Finally it caught in the ceiling, allowing them to swing across.
At this moment, a glob of foaming spittle came from the far archway and landed in the pool, a second glob hit Geoff, Shaking him. Drogo swung across the pool and landed on the far side, in time to meet a frog-man coming out of the archway. Drogo grappled him, a struggle ensued, a second frog-man joined in and Drogo was pushed into the pool, right into the middle of a shoal of carnivorous tadpoles*. Galadiir cast ‘Rose’s Thorns’ and killed one of the frog-man; then swung across as Drogo struggled out of the pool and they both attacked the other frog-man. There was guttural chanting from beyond the archway and the frog-man visibly swelled in stature. Despite his heavy wounds, Geoff also swung over the pool; a stab with his short sword from Galadiir killed the frog-man before he could use his enhanced strength.
“Something in there can use magic!” yelled Galadiir. “It will not defeat me; I am the greatest sorcerer of the House of Xymart!”
Drogo ran through the archway to see a huge statue of a hideous frog-thing, like the frog-men but with three eyes on stalks and several tentacles. To either side were two frog-men; in front of the statue was a frog-man shaman. It opened its mouth and spat full into Drogo’s face, Shaking him. Galadiir summoned his ‘Army of the Dead’ to attack the frog-men; the shaman extended an impossibly long tongue and struck Galadiir a wounding blow. One of the Army fell to a frog-man attack, the other frog-man was taken out by Galadiir (who was becoming somewhat good with his short sword.) Meanwhile, Drogo and Geoff kept up an assault on the shaman, who finally fell to repeated blows from Geoff. The final frog-man ran through another archway; there was the sound of harsh croaking, gradually fading away…
To be continued
GM: The first time various Tricks and distractions have been used in melee to any great degree. Also there was an air of desperation setting in as the shaman appeared to be unkillable; in ONE melee round the heroes spent 9 bennies between them on re-rolls to hit and damage before he finally went down on Geoff’s last re-roll.
* Drogo rolled snakes to resist the push so he not only ended up in the pool but landed in the middle of the shoal as well!
They searched the ichor-covered body of the frog-shaman but found nothing of interest. They then turned their attention to the two chests flanking the statue; in the one Galadiir found eight green gems and a few handfuls of assorted coins. Galadiir recognised the gems as similar to the ones he’d found in the Black Wagon (Episode 5 – Of Green Smoke and Sorcery). In the other chest were ten sealed waxed paper packets. Each contained a large white pill. Geoff decided to try one of them; it was effervescent and tasted of brine. For a moment he choked and gagged, then his neck split open to reveal gills! He was still able to breathe the air normally though. They split the pills and carried three each.
A flip of a Moon decided that they would investigate the right-hand archway next (not the one the frog-man ran through). A chamber smelt of fungus and contained multiple clumps of leathery puffballs. Drogo stuck a sword into one of them; too late he registered the presence of a small orifice on the top of the puffball. The puffball exploded, engulfing him in a cloud of brown spores. He didn’t breathe any in, but rapidly developed a red itching rash across the exposed parts of his body. They beat a retreat back to the idol room. Investigating the other archway, a stone floor sloped downwards to a jagged chasm at the far end of the chamber. A foul rotting stench filled the air.
“A chasm”, said Galadiir. “Chasms are not good. Remember what came out of the one underneath the arena”.
Geoff dropped a stone in; they listened hard but did not hear it strike the bottom. He went back to the swimming pool to recover his rope and grapple; they tied a lantern to the end and lowered it in. The rope got to its full 60’ extent and still did not reach bottom. Peering in, they could see the speck of the lantern hanging in the middle of a large open space. Drogo offered to climb down but was talked out of it.
Back in the idol room, a careful examination of the frog statue showed that it could, or had been moved at some time. They made a concerted effort and heaved with all their strength; the statue slid to one side with a loud ‘click!’ Galadiir barely had time to register the long object, like a staff, wrapped in oilcloth hidden in a recess beneath the statue when; with a loud groaning and rumbling, the walls and ceiling began to cave in! As fragments of the roof rained down, Drogo and Galadiir weaved for the exit to the swimming pool; Galadiir grabbed the staff and threw it to Drogo (with some difficulty, it was very heavy). Geoff, meanwhile, calmly walked to the chasm in the next chamber and began climbing down the rope. With a roar, the statue toppled from its plinth and smashed into fragments; Drogo just made it to the entrance tunnel when the entire roof of the chamber came down behind him. Around and above him came the shouting and screaming of many people; he reasoned that the collapse of the temple must have caused part of the city to cave in. He started to unwrap the staff.
“Don’t (cough) touch (cough) that”, came a voice from behind him. Battered and bruised, but very much alive, Galadiir was pulling himself out of the rubble. They turned and looked at the scene.
“Poor old Geoff. We’ll build a monument to him on the farm.”
Geoff awoke in pitch darkness. He could see nothing, but he was lying in several inches of fetid slime. He ached all over and it felt like his leg was broken. He could sense that he was in a large cavern or chamber of some kind. Just then he sensed movement and smelt a foul rotting stench. Dimly, waving high above him, he saw three phosphorescent discs. A huge mass, blacker than the darkness around him reared up and fell forward and he knew no more.
GM: First PC death in any Game for some time. I have no idea why Geoff decided to climb into the chasm rather than try and escape.
Part of Caldeia now has a large hole in it!
The farm they are referring to is the one they helped fund just outside Kularni; they have decided to use it as a base of operations.
There are now various Threads going on which could do with tidying up – they want to go to Akoit the Demon City, Galadiir still has the task that Manda charged him to do; there is the horrible death of Khasis the Scribe to investigate and nor the Priest-King of Caldeia has put a really big price on their heads for their capture alive.
* Due to an error at character generation, Galadiir has a Healing spell which he (as a sorcerer) shouldn’t have. However, if he rolls ‘snake-eyes’, he instantly kills the subject and sends their soul to Xymart.