Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Near Death in a Cube

Two tough encounters almost put an end to the adventurers

Highly charged Duergar

Torben Eastlander – what shall that name mean to the ages? For a pittance I write the tales of others be it the convenient history of a lord or now the tall tales of a motley crew out to seek their fame and fortune. Who am I to protest? Just who am I? My dream is to have my words survive me. So, with this in mind, I embark upon my passion – the epic poem…

Misdirection rather than to arms
The proud ranger disguised as common man
Did play the fool to gain the trust
Duegar so unwilling

From the rear the others did sneak
Perchance to find an open door and a map
Alas the door had upon it a lock
Knock knock

Who goes there? twas the call
Barrick being dwarven did best answer too
Only to arouse suspicion was the result
Alerted more in the interior

Alone the ranger stood with Duegar brave
Keen sense of the fray that was to be
To reveal the trick would be undoing
Depart in haste

Z’alden’s righteous plan now in action
Through the front door to fling the ash
Countless souls snared for unknown purpose
Right the wrongs twas Z’alden aim

Quills of beards of Duegar did fly
Missing their mark as Z’alden stood tall
To aid came Felsmon, Barrick, Erik and Rift
Metal to metal

Lightening and ice hit two but twas returned
The ranger took a mighty blow concerning the priest
Divine glow of goodness and terrible power against foe
Healing and hurting

Battle turned more Duegar revealed
Kedhira, master of the hammer and of villainy leads
Another through a second door from the side
Wizard in harms way

Though quills missed the willowy wizard
The leader’s brimstone fire did catch a few
Felsmon and Erik return the blow
One Duegar to fall

Flaming hammer hammered, to the surprise
Ranger not so quick to dodge the heavy blow
Rift the Wizard let the flames fly but no more
Grimmerzhul eat fire

To the rescue again the incomparable priest
Heal his friends and smite his foes
Yet Kedhira a wave of despair afflicts all
Worse to come

Dragonborn paladin battles though the middle
To the side stand the ranger and stout fighter
Blades flash but few to touch the hammer wielders
Dragonborn downs another

Afar Kedhira laughs releasing blinding poison
The priest and ranger stagger
Yet bad turn does not affect the dwarven fighter
Slay another does he

Daunted not Kedhira blasts down four including his own
Caring not for friend
Brimstone still from Kedhira flies
End it must

Yielding not the terrible Kedhira breaths once more
Poison clouding the brave but not in purpose
For the brave dwarf Barrick wields his rending axe
To split black dwarf

Dead is Kedhira and soon his wicked friend does flee
Stout Duegar caught by opposite, the willowy wizard Rift
Survives to reveal secrets
Though unwilling

Treasure not the wealthiest reward
Secrets of the Duegar tell of greater challenges awaiting
Battle to be fought and captives freed
To glory


Ghosts and some Ooze

Five wander the ancient Minotaur labyrinth
Horned Hold waits on the map beyond the chasm
Fortress of Grimmerzhul tricked and trapped
Fear no darkness

Wraith scream out the way ahead
Malevolent and soulless floating hate
Priest and paladin strike first, wizard joins
Fortune in the cards

Creeping doom of transparent goo slithers to
The five caught unawares until priestly divine glow illuminates
Wraith thrown back and transparent cube is hit
False is the gain

Ranger’s bow lets loose two shots to strike
Paladin’s breath born of dragon shoots lightening
Wizard’s spell of cold and icy hamper the foes
False is the battle’s direction

Dwarven axe to vapor wraith turns
So too turns battle as gelatinous cube gobbles two
Wizard and paladin engulfed in acidic goo
Twisty is fate

Ranger turns arrows on the cube perchance to save
Paladin escapes the corrosive cube of slow digestion
Priest and fighter remain to fight wraiths
Wizard floats

From within the wizard weaves a scorching spell
The cube shudders but does not belch its food
Wraiths no more on the run
Turn to attack

Ranger arrows sink deep into the hateful goo
Failing defenses hurt the fighter as wraith flank
Alas, too close the ranger is engulfed and joins the wizard
Battling from within

Healing from without the priest bolsters those within
Dire straights as wizards grows weaker and weaker
Valiant effort from fighter to rescue fails
Dwarf is now food

Acid eating dissolving flesh within the terrible cube
Brave and righteous paladin rushes to attack
Heals friends and smites the foe
Wizard’s burst finishes

Tide turning at the last none too soon
Fighter and wizard to turn the wraiths to ruin
Gasping gooey adventurers reflect with renewed respect
Lessons learned



DM: What a couple battles!! I was wondering toward the end there…

Experience points:

Two battles, one against Kedhira (he of vile breath) and his posse, the other against a terribly veracious gelatinous cube and some trailing wraiths.

9 creatures, 1900 xp. 380 xp per adventurer, brings your individual totals to 5316 xp.

Less than 200 xp needed for level 5! Maybe just one more encounter, unless the next one is a really easy one (see note below).

Note: I am going to stop guessing how difficult I think an encounter will be; I have been way off the mark for the past 6 encounters.

Near Death in a Cube

[OOC: Where were we? Dazed? I’m sure Erik would want to do another encounter, get to level five, fully recharge and then head back to the Horned Hold. Our chances there would be a lot better (25%?) if we were at level 5 instead of 4. Well, at least that’s Erik’s probable vote. Not sure we have to go all the way back to the Hall since we have lots of provisions. We might even get an encounter while resting in the labyrinth…]

Near Death in a Cube

Z’alden wipes the goo of the Cube off of his armor. He turns to the large Dragonborn Paladin, “Your strike came just in time to save us all. Again. What can I say my friend, but thank you? “

“And Rift, Erik, your battling inside the Cube was most impressive. I am humbled to be in your company.”

“Lastly, Master Barrick, I am in awe of you and your axe. I had thought to have a quick battle against some undead when I saw the wraiths. I rushed in too hastily and was hit so that my own prayers were weakened. You never faltered, even when surround by two wraiths!”

“My helm is off to you all. By the Claw, we are a force to be reckoned with. I must take a few moments to pray, then let us continue down this back way to the Horned Hall and rescue these captives.”

_[OOC: While I would love to have us be level 5 before a confrontation with the Grimmerzhul Duegar, unless we have a decent random encounter, I don’t see it happening. Separately, on the play side, I certainly learned a lot about movement and moving too soon in narrow spaces. What an opportunity attack those wraiths had on Z’alden! I think we need to consider a little more about our narrow hall marching order. I’d like to throw out that maybe Z’alden could be in front, and Erik be in the back with his bow since it will hit at much longer range than any ranged attack of Z’alden’s, while Z’alden’s close blast and bursts are ineffective from the back? If that doesn’t make sense, I’ll make sure that Z’alden has more patience in using them, and may request the good bull rushers to make some space?]_

[OOC: total mistakes on my part – Z’alden’s Turn Undead should push 5 squares not 6, a typo on the character sheet. Also, Z’alden’s Symbol of Battle does an extra 1d8, not 1d10, on a critical hit. 1d10 is a once-per-day addition. The Healing Word Z’alden applied to himself while inside the Cube should have restored an additional 5 hp, since the Beacon of Hope was active. That I can correct.]

Near Death in a Cube

“Nay, I was a fool to teleport so close to the disgusting 6-sided blob of undigested goo. Felsmon, again, thank you for coming to our rescue. That was a brave deed, and will not soon be forgotten. And thanks to the rest of you for rescuing the foolish wizard.”

“I, too, would like to push onward. We are all a bit shaken up, but just think of the poor prisoners. Let us continue. If we get close to the Horned Hold without mishap, then perhaps we can find a nice safe cubbyhole to rest up in, before the final assault. And, if we have another encounter along the way, so much the better!”

Near Death in a Cube

Erik takes a look the tome that they found inside the gelatinous cube… “What be this?”

Near Death in a Cube

The object found in the gloopy remains of the nearly invisible monster is a slab of stone, like a tablet. Carved on it are sketchy lines and symbols, not unlike those on the map you found in the Duergar trading post. It seems to be a partial map, or at least clues, to some location. At first glance the location appears to be a house or dwelling of some sort, but further studying of the stone suggests that the dwelling might be inside a thin spire of rock, possible high upon some larger mountain, definitely accessing both the inside and outside of wherever it exists. Erik’s insight tells him that this may very well be hints to the location of the rumoured witch of Thunderspire, or at least some inhabited rooms high up near the icy summit, carved by some unlucky adventurer in the not-to-distant past.

OOC: Before finding the tablet, if you went in search of the witch’s lair you might have wandered for weeks in the labyrinth (probably lots of random encounters of who knows what levels), possibly never finding it (depending on the whims of the dice), now, if you search for that place you have a much better chance of finding it in a much shorter time frame (fewer random encounters).

Near Death in a Cube

Z’alden peers at the rocky tablet, even as he continues to wipe goo off of his armor. He is pleased that the gelatinous glue seems to work like a cleanser, cleaning off of the ash that covered his dwarven chainmail.

“Erik, by the Tooth, this is very interesting. Perhaps a clue to that rumoured witch? Mayhap, after we have rescued the captives, they could rest at the Halfmoon Inn while we seek her out! Anyone who is rumored to kill wantonly should be visited upon by those who wish to send an end to senseless destruction and murder. What do you think? And my companions, what say you?”

Near Death in a Cube

Erik: “This rumor of a Thunderspire witch is very curious, but perhaps we now do have a solid clue. What was it that was said? That she likes to collect shiny objects? Ha! I would like some better armor, but pray be it not terribly shiny! Let my joking not lay false courage upon us, for if few stories have been told of her, then few have survived to tell a tale. Still, this labyrinth wearies me and I now wish for wind upon my face and sky above.”

Near Death in a Cube

Erik takes his right glove off. Curls all fingers into a fist except his pinky. Inserts pinky into right ear. Twists repeately. Removes finger and examines its tip. Wipes finger on the wall. Puts glove back on. Repeats with left hand.

Near Death in a Cube

“Yuck! Were you raised by wolves or something?”

Rift pulls out her mirror and begins practicing her scariest faces.

“Never hurts to practice! Maybe we can scare away the next gelatinous cube…”

Near Death in a Cube

After Erik cleans out his rather dusty ears he pauses, closes his eyes, and holds up one gloved hand. Everyone falls silent awaiting Erik’s mental return. After a very long very still 7 seconds Erik speaks softly, “Can you hear it?” Listening intently three of you (including Erik) can barely make out a low, soft, distant, continuous sound, best described as a muffled, “Shhhhhh.” As best as you can tell in the echoey narrow hallways the sound is coming from the ahead, from a location yet to be explored.

Near Death in a Cube

“Erik, now that your ears are squeaky clean, can you sneak up ahead and check things out?”

Rift quickly gathers up all her ritual components which she had been counting, and stuffs them inside her backpack.

Near Death in a Cube

DM: If Erik is going to sneak ahead I need to know certain things:

Right now as far as I know there is one lit sunrod in the group. There is no other light in this part of the labyrinth. What light source will Erik use when going ahead?

How far will Erik travel away from the group? Assume possible twists and turns and forks in the paths. Sight range of the group? Shouting range? Standing in the mass of dead cube there are two paths that Erik could take right away. The sound could be coming from either path.

Best guess is that the sound is quite a ways away, e.g., not just around the next bend.

Near Death in a Cube

Erik (whispering): “Rift, I will travel 50 feet up the passage. Can you follow very quietly?”

He then makes handy one of his sunrods by tucking in his belt, but does not light it. Next, he places a several fistfuls of nut shells (which he has been eating most heartily) across the passageway where the cube had come from – say 20 feet down the passage. The idea is that whoever approaches will likely step on the shells and make noise. He then readies his bow and slowly, cautiously and stealthily heads forward.

DM: Erik will wait for Rift if she thinks her stealth is good enough. He lacks low-light vision, but has keen senses of hearing and smell, in addition to general awareness (+12 perception, +15 stealth).

Near Death in a Cube

Moving forward 50 feet gains nothing. Erik is still in the range of Z’alden’s sunrod, can see his surroundings, and the sound does not appear to be any closer. Ahead the tunnel Erik is following takes a sweeping turn to the right, fading into darkness. Erik neither hears not smells anything out of the ordinary, other than the “Shhhhh” somewhere in the distance.

Near Death in a Cube

Let’s all sneak forward 50 feet, then have Erik move another 50 feet?

Near Death in a Cube

Erik silently nods to Rift and then gestures for the group to proceed quietly.

DM: Erik will stay ahead of the group by 30 feet, with bow readied. Does he small water? Does he feel increased humidity? Is the sound growing louder as he and the group advance?

Near Death in a Cube

Moving forward you notice a side path connect into your current tunnel. Your insight tells you that this side path loops around and connects back to where the gelatinous cube now lays slowly drying up, toxic fumes beginning to emanate from the decaying viscous goo.

Continuing on, the narrow tunnel makes several more twists and turns over the next several hundred yards. Then it ends as it joins into a larger passageway, 20’ wide and 15’ high, one that has a well worn, but not recently worn, feel to it. You can now tell the SHHHH is coming from the right. Sensing nothing from the left you turn and move onward.

Moving forward you finally start to sense that the sound is becoming louder. A turn of a corner and the scent of water wafts toward you. The sound is now easily heard by all, but muffled with the echoes of the passageway. Another 100’ and the sound becomes recognizable as moving water, a stream or large creek, but definitely less than a river.

Suddenly the walls and ceiling of the passageway disappear and before you the floor falls away into a massive chasm. The sunrod illuminates 100 feet but you cannot see the other side of the chasm, nor estimate how far it spans right or left. The stream is obviously down in the chasm but, peering over the edge, you cannot see the bottom. A bridge, or what is left of one, extends forwards over part of the chasm. The stone bridge extends, cracked and brittle looking, for 20-30 feet, only part of the railing still left to fall into the inky depths. The first 10 feet or so appear solid but beyond that the safety of the stone becomes suspect.

Near Death in a Cube

OOC: DM, would it be possible to scan in that map of the labyrinth that we found?

Near Death in a Cube

Rift looks around the cavern. If she doesn’t see any movement or sign of life, then she creeps up to the edge of the chasm, near the bridge.

Can she see the other side yet, and estimate how wide? If not, then she will cast Mage Hand, pick up a sunrod with it, and move it 25 feet over the chasm. Now can she see the other side?

If she cannot, then she will cast Light on a small rock, and throw it as hard as she can towards the other side, hoping to have it land on the other side near where the bridge would have been.

Once we can see the other side, is there any evidence of the bridge on the other side? How about any passageways/tunnels leading away on the other side?

Near Death in a Cube

The sound and smell of running water is very comforting to Erik, though how strange and disorienting it is to have such a thing deep within a mountain. Erik joins Rift at the edge of the chasm.

Erik: “Rift, shall we ask Z’alden to stow his sunrod? It’s making us quite, umm, visible. Also, perhaps once our eyes adjust better to the darkness, we can see other lights, if they exist.”

DM: How climbable are the chasm walls? Are there ledges? Good finger cracks? Is it bolted ;-) Does Erik see any glyphs or mechanical or possibly magical aspects on or around the bridge? What does Barrick make of the stonework?

Near Death in a Cube

OOC: I have an image of the map; however I am hesitant to post it. The map was supposed to be a fun prop showing the relative positions of the Hall and the Horned Hold. Any other detail of the map is largely fictitious/coincidental. The actual labyrinth is full of large caverns, rooms of every size, large and small passages and many many twisty tunnels, criss-crossing and moving above and below each other is a way that is almost impossible to fully map. As the players jumped all over details of the map that do not actually exist I do not want you all to try to pull out more details that are not part of the game.

The other side of the chasm is lost in darkness, even with the mage hand moving the sunrod out 25 feet. After casting Light on the rock and throwing it, the small light falls out and away and down and down, blinking out a little over 5 seconds later. Any sound the glowing cobble might have made is lost in the turbulent sounds of the stream.

OOC: I will assume at least one of the party believes that crazy Newton guy and accepts the nonsense about multiplying time by itself. Back of the parchment calculation puts the chasm around 300 feet deep and at least 150 feet wide (could be wider, the other side was not hit by the rock).

The bridge is an old stone bridge, built by traditional means. No magic emanates from the bridge or the chasm. Without the bridge keystone it is a little surprising that more than 10 feet of the bridge still exists. The chasm walls are nearly vertical, with very little purchase for climbing.

Near Death in a Cube

“Erik, would you mind using one of your trusty arrows?”

“If so, then I will cast Light on it, and have you fire it across the chasm, at your maximum range.”

“Also, let us walk along side the chasm in both directions, quietly, to see how far the cavern extends. Perhaps there is another way across further along…”

OOC: The Light should last for 5 minutes, and cover an area 9 squares on a side.

Near Death in a Cube

Erik: “Okay, let’s try to find out just how far it is to the other side. If the light attracts some evil then they too will find out that the distance to ‘the other side’ is quite short!”

DM: Rift casts light on an arrow; Erik shoots it 200 feet; what do they learn? (Note: Erik has just 15 arrows left, unless those that struck the cube had a softened blow and were therefore recoverable – DM, what say you?)

Near Death in a Cube

The glowing arrow arcs out into the darkness. It stops at a level approximately equal to your own and does not fall into the chasm. Because the Light is so dim, equivalent to a few candles or so, you can see the light glowing 200 feet away, but you cannot make out any details of the area.

DM: The gelatinous cube starts disolves everything it comes in contact with (10 hp per 6 seconds); you might have been able to retrieve the arrows, but the feathers and some of the shafts would have started to become eaten away, rendering the arrows useless.

Near Death in a Cube

We also turn left and walk alongside the chasm. Does the chasm narrow, or do we see any way further along to cross? Let’s go at least 1000 feet or so, before turning around.

“Fellow adventurers, I think this is the chasm upon which the Horned Hold sits, further upstream (?) to the right. Perhaps if we find a way across, then we can sneak in the back door on the far side of the chasm. What say you all?”

Near Death in a Cube

The walls of the chasm extend from the dark depths below to beyond your light limit above. The tunnel you were following ended nearly abruptly at the chasm edge. There is but 40-50 feet on either side of you on which a ledge exists, undoubtly cut to provide working room for the construction of the bridge, but beyond that the ledge narrows to nothing as the chasm walls below and above meet. There is no walking alongside the chasm.

Based on the map you found, it does appear that this chasm is the very same chasm over which the Horned Hold spans.

Near Death in a Cube

Barrick offers advice to Erik: “You sent that arrow into the tunnel on the other side. Aim a little up or down, or left or right, with the next arrow, also lit, and we should be able to judge how far away it hits the wall. If it’s 200 feet, we’ll never get across, but if it’s only 50, we might have a chance.”

Near Death in a Cube

Rift is also going to examine the remains of the bridge. She throws some rocks where the bridge appears to end, to verify that there is not an “invisible” magic bridge or anything. “Don’t laugh, Erik! You never know…”

She also looks around the bridge for any inscriptions or anything, like “Say this magic word and the bridge will magically repair itself.”

Then, bored, she casts Light on a rock and smashes it into tiny pieces. “Just conducting an experiment!”

“Let’s turn around and follow the 20’ passageway for a ways. May-haps it will lead somewhere interesting. Perhaps to another crossing over the chasm?”

Near Death in a Cube

“How long will it take to build us a new bridge, Barrick?”, teases Erik. He then joins Rift at the start of the bridge and searches for glyphs or some kind of magic. Erik then watches Rift smash a rock and he just sighs, with a grin. “Does anyone remember if Z’alden has more arrows in that bag of holding? I’m down to a little more than a dozen.”

[DM: If Z’alden does have more arrows, then Erik will follow Barrick’s suggestion and shoot a “lit” arrow lower, hopefully hitting the wall.]

Near Death in a Cube

The rocks sail off the end of the bridge and fall down and out of sight. Any invisible bridge that might exist would also be incorporeal.

No inscriptions or other markings exist in the area.

The lit rock smashes into tiny pieces and Rift bends down to examine the spalls. The light still exists, as bright as before, and it appears to be attached to only one small fragment, rather than being dispersed amongst the rubble.

Near Death in a Cube

“With the right dwarves, a supply of timber, rope, and stoneworking tools, a new bridge for foot traffic would take about a day per foot of distance beyond 10 feet, up to maybe 70 or 80. Double or triple that for heavier loads. Beyond that distance, the estimates blow up in your face. None of which does us any good.”

Barrick grins.  "But 50 feet, that we could manage without a bridge, especially with a lightweight teleporter within reach."
Near Death in a Cube

So… we head off in the opposite direction, down the 20’ tunnel. Going cautiously as before, with Erik in the lead (okay?). We are searching for another tunnel, presumably to the right, that crosses over the chasm further along.

Do we find anything?

Near Death in a Cube

Only a few hundred yards down the tunnel you can see a few smaller tunnels branching off from the main tunnel. Based on your travels through the labyrinth so far you might assume that many other passageways will cross your current tunnel. How many of the side tunnels do you wish to explore and how far down each side tunnel do you wish to go before turning back?

Near Death in a Cube

Z’alden shakes his head, as though coming out of a daze. He is nearly overwhelmed by the size of the chasm and the ideas that are needed to overcome this impasse. As he does so, he spies Erik’s quiver. “Erik, before we head off, I see that your quiver is getting a bit empty. In the bag of holding, we have stored 62 arrows. How many should I get out?”

OOC: I agree with the DM on posting the maps, as we kinda jumped on them a bit too much.

“My friends, in explorations of this sort, let us spend at least half an hour going down a possible side tunnel before turning around and going down a second possible side-tunnel that might put us closer to the Horned Hold and a crossing. I think that spending up to three hours in this little quest looking down three side tunnels would be worthwhile, as we carefully mark our way with the eternal chalk.”

OOC: We have already established marching order for various tunnel widths. I think that those will still work.

Near Death in a Cube

Erik: “I’m down to just 15 arrows, Z’alden, so if you would, I could gladly use 15 more arrows.”

[OOC: Yes, let’s start exploring each side tunnel, in the pre-specified marching order. If the passage is twisty-turny (no straight sections longer than 50 feet) then Erik will wield his two swords. Otherwise, he’ll have his bow ready.]

Near Death in a Cube

The first tunnel you enter, on your left, twists and turns away from the chasm. Returning to the wide passage you try the next tunnel, on your right. This turns in the proper direction, towards where you estimate another chasm crossing might be; however, turning a corner you find the tunnel has been collapsed, completely filling the passageway, not so much as a slight breeze can get past the tightly packed rocks and boulders blocking your way. Returning to the main passage you try the next two tunnels, the first seems to be trending away from your preferred destination, and the other also dead ends into a tunnel collapse.

Near Death in a Cube

How about the next few tunnels? We’ll also look for tunnels that maybe angle up or down, to go either over the entire chasm, or down to the level of the stream.

Still going carefully, so as to not be surprised, either from in front or behind…

Near Death in a Cube

Z’alden hands the arrows to Erik, saying, “Erik, 15 arrows to fill your quiver. This leaves 47 remaining in the bag.”

Z’alden draws his crossbow with a bolt at the ready as they march down the various tunnels.

Turning to Rift, “I agree, let us continue this tunnel maze for a while longer, yet. Let us say 3 more hours? Mayhap, if the Wings be kind, we will uncover an alternate route. Otherwise, some very serious leaping may be in order!”

“Alternatively, it may be that the only way to get to the Horned Hold is through the front door, carefully navigating their traps. If Erik and I work together, and the Claws are with us, I am hopeful that we can detect the nasties before we spring them.”

Near Death in a Cube

“Hmmm… a frontal assault”, muses Erik, “How may that go? Z’alden and I can try to take out guards with our bows, but what of the traps? One steak in to disable them? Maybe we can sneak in under broad, um, daylight. Perhaps Barrick here would be willing to have us paint his beard black…”

OOC: I’d love to have another encounter to get us to level 5, so more wandering is good. Also, I think we might want to consider watching the Horned Hold from a distance for a while, looking for guard rotations, coming and goings, etc.

As the group trudges on Erik mumbles very softly to himself, “Ninety-nine tunnels of doom in the lair, ninety-nine tunnels of doom, travel down one, ninety-eight tunnels of doom in the lair…”

Near Death in a Cube

Continuing your explorations, you find one more tunnel that is caved in, four others travel up, down and twist, but all trend back toward the center of the labyrinth.

At one point you pass a crack running diagonally floor to ceiling, following natural rock strata. The crack is about 2” wide and seems to angle upwards as it goes into the rock. Listening at the crack you can hear grunting, but nothing intelligible, probably echoing from quite a distance aways, and after listening for a little under 2 minutes the grunting suddenly ceases.

Other than the grunting, no other signs of life do you encounter.

Near Death in a Cube

“Let’s head back towards the Horned Hold, and spy on it from a distance.”

“Perhaps we’ll encounter a beast or two along the way…”

Near Death in a Cube

DM: Before I forget, the sunrod in use blinked out 3 hours ago. Whoever had it, Z’alden?, please mark it spent and I will assume that another has been burning for the past 3 hours (1 hour to go on this one, someone mark one in use).

You start finding your way partially back, following the chalk marks, looking for the primary path marked on the map, leading to the front entrance of the Horned Hold.

Moving quietly through the tunnels you suddenly hear a noise! At least one creature is close; because there was only the one sharp quick sound, like rock hitting rock, you are not sure from where the sound emanated. You do not yet know if the creature(s) is aware of you or your advancing light.

OOC: Would you like me to post a map of the current state of things, so you can think about strategies; or would it be better, and more realistic, to wait until we gather on the 22nd and decide what to do when the pressure is on?

Near Death in a Cube

OOC: Can you post a map, so we don’t waste a bunch of time strategizing?

If possible, we quickly hide the sunrod, and press ourselves flat against the walls, to see if whatever made the sound will foolishly advance between us, so we can trap it/them…

Whoever has the best perception, what do they see?

Near Death in a Cube

Erik switches to his swords (if he wasn’t already wielding them. Moving to the sides makes sense to Erik too, and just what do they perceive? Sights? Sounds? Smells? Vibrations in the ground?

Near Death in a Cube

Twisty tunnel

OOC: Grey bars indicate where the tunnel continues on

You just came around the corners on the right and are now traveling toward the left. An outcropping of rock narrows the passage from 10’ to 4’ just ahead of the party. Pressing against the opposite walls, Erik peers ahead. On the other side of the outcropping Erik sees an old large wooden double door (the brown bar). The metal bands, handle and lock mechanism of the door all look very rusted. Listening intently Erik hears quiet shuffling noises from behind the door.

Near Death in a Cube

Erik motions that the others should stay back (for stealth reasons) and then carefully proceeds forward past the door with the intent to look around the corners (the corridors that go “up” and “down”). When he passes the door, does he see a keyhole or anything that would allow him to peek through? After seeing around the corners, Erik would move back to the door to observe some more. If back at the door, does he hear more than before?

Near Death in a Cube

Erik passes the door silently and reaches the west(left) side of the area. Looking north(up) Erik sees the deadend alcove, just as it appears in the image. Looking south Erik sees the tunnel turn to the west; no sounds or indications of other creatures come from the continuing westward tunnel.

The door has a hole for a key, but it does not pass through the door. Listening at the door Erik hears more shuffling, with an occasional louder noise, like a bump into a wall or the kicking of a rock.

Near Death in a Cube

Erik moves back to the group behind the rock outcropping. Kneeling down, he draws in the dirt, ready to work out the plan. Erik gently whispers that whatever is behind the door could possibly be friendly, or at least have valuable information, but in his face you can plainly see that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying is at all likely.

Near Death in a Cube

“Let’s have Barrick and Felsmon smash down the door (one to each side), and then all of us rush in, following our usual left-right sweep-the-room formation. Sound good?”

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DM: Smashing one side of the wooden doors by either Barrik or Felson would require a roll of 8 (DC 14 – 2 (1/2 level) – 4 (str mod)). Excellent chance that at least one side would be opened. On the off chance that both characters fail, the attempt would be noisy enough to alert anything on the other side. If this is what you choose to do I would suggest we begin with the smashing attempts on Sunday. If so, choose your positions. You may, of course, opt for something different.

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Z’alden ears twitch. He shoulders his crossbow for moment, and says, “Rift, perhaps whatever is behind the door is not hostile. Smashing down its door would weaken its defenses against foul creatures that lurk in the labyrinth. Perhaps, we could try knocking and declare that we seek safe passage to the Horned Hold and mean you no harm. By the Wings, I think that a little kindess may go along way. I could knock on the door loudly and then listen intently at the door for a response. What do you and the others think of this idea?”

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“I say smash first, then ask question later. Besides, if we felt really bad, I could cast ‘Make Whole’ to fix their door. Who skulks around in such a dismal place, if they don’t have foul intentions? Oh wait, I guess that would include us…”

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“Well I like the idea of smash first ask questions later and Rift is right, maybe we could use the make whole spell to repair any damage we do. And if they’re baddies we’ll smash ‘em to pieces and the much needed XP. I also think that later we should go back to the Seven Pillard Hall and try to talk to the mages.” OOC. DM what time of year is it?

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Smiling, Z’alden says, “Rift, you have the components for the Make Whole ritual? I didn’t know that. I suppose, if we break something, but can fix it, then this plan isn’t too bad. Smashing it is. Still, I don’t think we should fight until we have learned whether whatever is behind the door would have a foul intent upon us.”

“It is true that, aside from us, the denizens of the Labyrinth have had intentions most foul. I will have my crossbow out and a bolt ready. Let us have Felsmon on the right and Barrick on the Left, with Rift behind Felsmon and me behind Barrick. Erik, how about you be next to Barrick, and once the door is opened, you can move in?”

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Erik nods, “Yes, let us enter unannounced, but can we at least try the door handles just before kicking in the doors?” He winks.

[OOC: The formation sounds good. How about contingencies? If we encounter some sort of giant and things aren’t going well maybe we can retreat past that section of tunnel that was pinched off by a rock outcropping.]

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The door handles are quite rusted. A quiet attempt at turning them indicates that they will not turn anymore. You can also see that attempting to pick such a rusted lock would most likely be futile.

DM: As smashing open a door is not a quiet activity, the smash attempts would be the surprise round action for Felsmon and Barrick. Assuming the things on the other side are indeed surprised, the other three characters would each have one surprise action they could perform.

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Barrick rubs his nose. Doesn’t like the smell coming from the old door. Foul creatures, smelled them before, nothing good came of it. Need to put them down fast, this time.

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Erik starts limbering up… a few stretches, fancy martial arts hand movements, flexing and a final full body shudder to relax. He’s now in the zone.

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“Barrick, your instincts have always served us well. I would trust that nose anywhere” Z’alden nods thoughtfully, “could I get a little room to little at the door, first, before we smash it?”

OOC: Does Z’alden hear any additional sounds?

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“uh, to listen at the door. Unless it’s a sermon, I seem to lack eloquence.”

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OOC: Z’alden had 4 sunrods when we departed. 1 is used, 1 is being used. 2 remain. That is only 8 more hours of light unused, plus about 3 more from the current sunrod. Does anyone else have some of these?

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Rift roots around in her messy backback. “Hold on, I’ve got more sunrods somewhere in this dire rat’s nest… Ah, here we are!” She hold up 2 bedraggled sunrods, which seem to be covered in some sort of ritual component goo. “Sorry, a bit messy. But they’ll work. Also, I can always cast light every 5 minutes.”

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Seeing the ritual components, Z’alden’s eyes light up, “Rift, do you know the Silence ritual? Mayhap, you could cast it onto the door, so that the smashing would be silent. Then, Felsmon and Barrick could also participate in the surprise we hope to have on whatever malodorous creature is fouling Barrick’s nostrils!”

OOC: DM, would Silence keep the door smash quiet? It is a burst 4. It would definitely keep us from attracting unwanted attention, assuming Rift has it.

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Listening at the door Z’alden hears shuffling sounds, a soft thud, and also a single thump against the other side of the door.

DM: The Silence ritual on the door would reduce the possibility of it being detected, but not guarantee it. The creature(s) on the other side would take a -10 perception penalty on noticing the doors being broken open (normally DC 4).

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Looking down at the ground, does Z’alden perceive any recognizable tracks or footprints? Looking around the door, is there anything else for Z’alden to perceive, maybe a secret entrance, since this doesn’t look too passable without a smash?

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“Ooooo. Let’s check for secret doors/entrances all along the corridor, and especially in that dead-end alcove.”

OOC: Do we find anything?

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Searching around the area you find nothing of note, and that strikes you as odd. Not only do you not find any secret doors or hidden entrances, but you realize there is no trace of anyone having passed through this corridor in a very long time.

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“Strange, maybe more of the wisp things? Also, maybe they are holding a fairly large creature captive. I just hope it isn’t the same type of creature as the ones my clan used for tornaments.” OOC: DM you still haven’t answered my question “What time of year is it?”

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DM: Sorry, I forgot. It is early to mid spring. Outside, the days are usually nice, but an occasional cold day or night passes through, and storms are not uncommon.”

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OOC: DM, how long has it been since we left the Inn? I guesstimate 6 hours?

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DM: It has been 7 hours since leaving the inn. The current sun rod has one hour left on it; most likely enough time to go through the door, handle whatever circumstances therein exist, and continue on to the front of the Horned Hold.

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Erik’s breathing is deep and controlled. He stands back from the doors, directly between the two. Eyes stare forward, focused beyond the doors as if he can see what is on the other side…

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Z’alden stares at Barrick’s back. Once the doors are opened, he will have only a few seconds to decide if he should fire his loaded crossbow, call for prayer of Bahamut to lay waste to a loathsome creature beyond the portal, or parley with something that may not be an enemy. But what potential ally could possibly lie beyond the portal. Even that goblin, Splug, whom he thought they had befriended, turned on them. Of course, Bawb the brigand, turned out all right in the end.

He smiles. “Fire first. Reform later,” he thinks to himself.

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