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Tales from the Table: Failures from BWA (October)

September.

We return to find our adventurers delving back into the burial mound, rested and ready to fight. A quick check confirms the scorch mark on the floor as the dead black ooze. The blue and green slimes are left alone, and they seem to be content to be left alone. Stepping through some junk, Schlubbel is painfully reminded to be more cautious as he is nearly cut in half by a blade trap spinning up from the floor. Skipping out of the way, he saunters on. A disabled secret door opens into a small storage room. Marina followed him, and enters the room. Crude strings sit in tension on a crossbow on one of the many cabinets around the room, a quick cut sends a bolt smashing through a glass door to the west. The stone walls of the main room put a stop to its movement.

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Failing to learn their lessons from the day before, the party splits to explore open doorways to the east and south. Heidi curses. She fell victim to the spinning blades that Schlubbel had failed to mention to his fellows. Fungerfil’s eyes narrow, scowling as he fidgets with the floor tiles. A minute later, he stands up, brushing his hands of oil as the spinning blade trap lies in pieces. Not a moment later, Boone has had his fill of waiting and wanders south into a small alcove of a room. His wanderlust is short lived, a metal door slams down behind him and the room begins to fill with a heavy green gas. Slams and weapon blows are powerless to dent the metal door or budge it from its sealed frame. Frantically searching around, foreign words are discovered on the wall next to the door. A call of surpise rings out from the east, “It has no mind!”. Schlubbel quickly runs past his fellows as a statue slowly makes its way forward shouting commands in a foreign tongue. A hasty retreat sees Marina wounded by a thrown stone spear while Heidi and Fungerfil set their stolen explosives to blast free Boone from his prison. The guardian advances, unopposed, and reclaims its spear to nearly impale Heidi as the party retreats further. Meanwhile, Boone remains calm after finding the gas can’t seem to rise above his waist. Smashing open some urns, he finds a bit of treasure and discovers some vents in the floor. The gas starts to drain out of the floor, and Boone aids the process by smashing open the floor vents further.

Cornered by the entrance to the burial mound, Marina and Heidi limp away wounded from the indomitable statue. An explosion rips through the floor and Fungerfil seizes the opportunity to draw the ire of the marble warrior. A large hole reveals an unharmed Boone, who steps forward into the fray. Hiding behind his half-orc buddy, Fungerfil lights and tosses a second explosive that misses its mark. The blast is barely able to reach the statue, but knocked off its feet, Boone and Fungerfil quickly smash it to bits. Loud clicking sounds and the smell of burning oil fill the room as the metal door attempts to reced, only to fail after a few inches.

A Gnomish scream fills the air as Schubbel squeezes through the portcullis guarding the stairs downward. Giant spiders the size of small ponies lash and bite at the metal bars. The taunts of Hiedi, Marina, and Schlubbel are cut short as thick gouts of webbing binds them to the floor, luckily out of reach of the spiders. The fool had been exploring the level below, finding a pair of empty-skulled bull-shaped constructs bristling with bolts and wires. Once cut free, the party took a moment to take a breather.

Everyone refreshed, Fungerfil took time to explore the room to the east of the slime room, where he had started his ambush of the statue minutes before. Two spindly pillars bore an intricate copper pattern, a stain marred the floor in the middle of the room, and doorways beckoned to the south and east. Schubbel wasted no time bursting through the door to the east on a mention of the bookcase within, only to be ambushed by spiders the size of large house cats. He was wounded, but the rest of the party quickly dealt with the spiders. Moving onward, they encountered a nesting spider. Heidi promptly ignited its egg sac and tried to light it on fire as it attempted to retreat with its eggs. A grimace flashed across her face as the spider hissed, its eggs popping in the heat.

A good nights rest gives Heidi and Marina a chance to start a batch of malt to brew some beer, eager to combat the harsh realities of adventuring with some strong spirits. Boone takes watch, but ignores some mysterious lights that move about in the distance during the night. In the morning, a new search leads them to the last remaining rooms they had not explored before. An ominous pillar dominates a room beyond where the spiders had nested, written in both the foreign language and common: “Above your tomb, the stars will belong to us”. An altar in the room beyond bears a blurry glass orb that swirls with blue, green, and black. After checking that the orb did not react when touched to the copper pillars, the team went south to find a room with multiple altars and statues.

“Boone Scroggins!” was the shout heard as Boone leaped forward, not ready to be surprised by stone soldiers a second time. Getting the drop on the statues helped the party land decisive blows, keeping them from suffering many wounds despite the strong formation tactics the statues employed. Perhaps smelling blood, the albino snake returned but was stopped in its tracks in a showdown with Heidi’s newfound animal shifting powers. It was crushed in the grip of her snake form.

One last door was all that remained, west of the room charred with the parties explosive endeavors. Coffins were scatttered about the room, surrounding an open book faintly crackling with energy. Schlubbel lead the way, again, touching the book without much caution. He leaped back in pain, arcing energy burst forth, touching each coffin in turn. The stone lids slid off, as skeletons and zombies shambled forth, the bolts and copper wires peppering their forms glistening with energy. The knock-down drag-out fight was over quickly, punctuated with bursts of electricity as each undead creature fell. The electricity blasted the living but empowered the undead, although that was not enough to allow the undead to overpower the living. A few trinkets are looted from the dead, netting a few jewelry items with old Triumvirate symbology.

After a long rest, the party heads back down to uncover the mystery of the orb. It had gone clear at different points as they moved around the first floor. It seemed to go clear in the slim room, but the or did not seem to respond to any magical entities Schlubbel touched it to. The orb did go clear again when placed near the tiny blue slimes meandering about outside, allowing the players to piece at least one aspect of it together. That distraction aside, they all set their minds to what treasures might be even further below. The giant spiders from before quickly dispelled any hopes of treasure hunting. A brief melee left Marina with a few sprains and Fungefil with a serious knee injury. Most of the spiders died in the attack, but the others had fled, retreating into the webs and darkness.

Curiousities satisfied, the group decided to get back to the task of saving the Miller’s daughter. Passing through the mountains brought them to Harkar Landar’s mining camp. Ocassional blasts marked the slow pace him and his union scabs were working. An inquisitive Fungerfil, Boone, and Schlubbel sat in Harkar’s tent as they innocently talked past one another, Harkar hinting at his desire to see the union bosses dealt with, hoping that nothing untoward were to happen to them. Speaking in generalities, he spoke of how much freer is finances would be to help aspiring adventurers if his union problems were to get solved one way or another, if his workers would return from Bluefin. Meanwhile, Heidi and Marina make off with a few explosives, narrowly avoiding accidentally igniting a few.  The rest of the trip around the mountain range goes uneventfully, with the party stopping to take a rest near a ruined road just outside some ruins.

An overgrown, ruined temple beckons the players. Heidi splits the thick vegetation with her magic to make a path inside after Boone gets himself stuck in the vines. Ruined furniture and nearly collapsing walls and ceilings do not deter the players. They knock down rotten doors with little effort. Exploring a side room off the gathering space, some rigorous door opening by Marina causes a weakened stone wall to tumble, crashing down on the group. In the back room beyond, Boone and Schlubbel become giddy with excitement. A large wooden cask stands unharmed. Popping an access cork wafts the strong smell of spirits and vinegar into the entire temple. Despite the cask’s age, the liquor inside is pure, if mixed with a strong vinegar. The rest of the group eagerly crawls about the rest of the small, ruined temple hoping to find more treasure of the same caliber. The second back room opposite the cask room hold ruined furniture and a half-collapsed secret door leading below while another room leads out to a backyard courtyard. In the courtyard are some unruly topiaries in the forms of a cat and dog. A black stone sun dial sits amidst thick weeds and vines. Heidi attempts to clear the topiaries with her druidcraft as before but finds the shrubs unaffected. Boone takes the opportunity to try and gather a sample of the bushes with a handaxe but is stopped in his tracks as the topiaries shift to attack. They get in a few good hits while calling forth thorning growths, but are cut down to size before they do too much damage. The dispatched bushes were guarding some minor magical treasures and a small break gave the team time to uncover some of the mystery of this black sun dial. Digging up the weeds, the courtyard turned out to be paved with black concentric circles painted into the stonework. Formulas inscribed into the column of the dial led Heidi to the conclusion that this dial was for tracking the movements of the stars, rather than the sun while the circles were probably related to outdated beliefs about heavenly bodies all orbiting the planet in smooth circles. Modern belief have taken into account things like retrograde motion to model the much more complex and accurate distorted paths the heavenly bodies took while moving around the earth.

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Stepping down into the musty darkness, the players find a quartz jewel covered room of the same mysterious black stone as the star dial, depicting a night sky. Before they can take in the room, nasty undead creatures lurch from the room to the south. Blackened skin stretched unevenly across their bones, as black ichor dripped from their mouth while a sloshing pot belly bulges underneath their tattered clothes. They were dispatched quickly, but not before they got in a few claws and bites, spilling black goop on Schlubbel, hissing on contact with his clothing and items. A stone door with handles near the floor is the only thing barring their path north. The small room to the south holds spoiled barrels of food, covered with black goop or swirling with dark liquid.

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