You are just from Absalom, the mighty City at the Center of the World, and you’ve always longed to explore one of the countless ruins of failed conquerors that litter the plains outside the city’s walls.
You’ve heard rumors that one of the sealed siege castles has been laid open by a minor earthquake. Word on the street is that no one has yet entered the tower, which folks are calling the “Fallen Fortress.” What better way to start a life of excitement and adventure than by exploring its long-abandoned, dusty halls and perhaps claiming its ancient treasures?
You've all gathered for different reasons, or perhaps you already know each other. Absalom's Eagle Garrison is responsible for scouting any possible threats in the Cairnlands. You might've convinced the commanding officer to give you the spearpoint. Religious organizations believe valuable artifacts are inside following rumors of the undead and are offering a fortune for any such relics. Multiple historians are likewise interested in collectible pieces, you might've been hired to liberate them.
The ruined siege castle now being called the Fallen Fortress rises out of the churned earth of the Cairnlands perhaps 300 feet before you. No doors or windows mar the otherwise smooth expanse of the tower’s walls. The tower is quatrefoil in plan; its eastern wing has largely collapsed, exposing the interior ﬂoors to the open air. Only the topmost level seems whole, though its eastern portion hangs precariously over the mountain of rubble left by the collapse. At ground level, the rubble frames a gaping hole in the side of the building that provides access to the tower’s darkened interior.
The tower rises to about 80 ft in the cloudless noon sky. The 5 stories are easy to pick out as you make your way closer. There is an asymmetry in its weight distribution that betrays the aesthetic.
Near the base, amidst the rubble, you spot a few wild dogs putting their noses into the air and getting anxious.
edit: map updated
|Pindleton Montague IV|
Their anxiety changes over to a slow growling as you approach, they seem unwilling to retreat into the tower, instead somewhat encircling you.
If it comes to combat here the rubble is difficult terrain, meaning squares cost double.
Gloriana scares the s*%* out of them. The dogs cower the instant you raise your javelin and quickly disperse into the plains, yelping and biting each other in disappointment and shame. Mangy devils probably won't last the week.
As you enter, the interior of the ground floor becomes more apparent. From floor to wall, ceiling to door and everything in between is coated in thick sticky webs. The stench of death flares your nostrils. You can hear something skittering and scraping a few floors above you, but this chamber is eerily silent. A cacooned dog carcass is stuck upside down in an arched passway, only its ear escaped the web sheathe. There is a large column in the center of the 4 quatrefoils with a shut wooden door (Red rectangle on map).
It's tricky to move around without stumbling into webs. If you intentionally try to avoid them you can without any check as long as we're out of combat. Or you could just slash them with your greatswords... ;)
|Pindleton Montague IV|
"Hmm... let's see if something is monitoring these webs..." Pindleton picks up a small, but somewhat hefty rock, and tosses it into one of the webs and then watches for any reactions.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Guess he's not really coordinated enough to throw and watch. ;)
Gloriana watches the dogs run off with a grin and then takes a look inside. When Pindleton tosses the rock, she glances at the rogue and shakes her head. Imagine how big the spider has to be to catch a grown dog. And now it knows we're here. Anybody else have a torch?
She takes one of her three torches off her back, fishes inside her backpack for flint and steel, and lights the torch. She puts her javelin away and draws her sword. With sword in one hand and torch in the other, Gloriana awaits whatever lives in the webbing.
The sound that results from the rock being thrown into the webs remarkably resembles that of a boot thrown into an old harp, there is a strange musical quality. Indeed it is pure darkness in the eastern quartrefoil and dim in the others, but you hear a slow unmistakable hissing coming from the webs. You could be forgiven for not spotting it instantly, for it glides about on the ceiling (15 ft up) and seems to take a position in the northeast corner of the north quatrefoil (placing on map in a sec).
I'll roll initiative and set combat order in a sec, just got home and cracked a beer. Suppose I'll just roll a d4 for our sheet-less player.
Lightly boxed webby area is...webs. Difficult terrain, and also entering or starting turn in within that area requires a DC 12 dex save or you are restrained. If restrained you can free yourself with a str (ath) or dex (acro) check but it burns your action. Other creative solutions of course possible. Flammability of the webs a fair question.
A restrained creature's speed becomes 0, and it can't benefit from any bonus to its speed.
Attack rolls against the creature have advantage, and the creature's attack rolls have disadvantage.
The creature has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws.
Hissing Webslinger: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 12
Pindleton: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
Gloriana: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
Sohar: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Odan: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
5th Mystery PC: 1d20 + 1d4 ⇒ (5) + (1) = 6
Round One, Order
Pindleton/Gloriana/Odan <----ALL UP
Also note the way I do initiative for pbp, even had the 3 PCs not astonishingly all tied, they would act on the same count without regard to order. Hopefully that will become clearer as we go...also just a reminder you can still talk if it isn't your turn to spice things up,
write for fun, etc.
Odan watches the dogs scamper away, and a slightly sadden look travels across his bearded face.
Poor mutts, he says, under his breath. Despite his fondness for the animals, he still had one hand on the hilt of his axe, ready to draw at a moment's notice.
Entering into the tower itself, he actually pulls a hand ax out to the ready, but seeing the webs, the ax slides right back into the leather loop. Instead, he pulls out a javelin, and with a running start, launches it.
Moving close enough to not have disadvantage for distance, but not moving into the webbing.
Javelin: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 161d6 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
The repulsive rubble clinger was too busy weaving some kind of projectile to notice Odan's wooden shaft take flight.
*CRunCh!* It's slimy exoskeleton pierced, the abomination struggles to keep itself aloft, its scythe-sized pincers grasp at the javelin in vain furiously until finally connecting...bursting the wooden fibers and sending it, coated with insect ooze, to plop on the floor. It turns to you with its 8 beady eyes in primal hatred.
Round One, Order
Odan <----ALL UP
Seeing the large spider, Gloriana wishes she had kept her javelin in hand, but she grimly nods and decides to make the best of it.
Following Odan into the room, she swipes the webbing with her torch and prepares to fight. Nice throw! she says, as she searches the ceiling for others.
When the creature gets within sword distances, she strikes at it.
Longsword: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 171d8 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Glor, I'll treat that as a ready with the trigger being the spider in melee distance. It seems in 5e that readying works a bit differently: it will use up your one and only reaction for the round. Just fyi...I guess there could be times when you'd have to choose between taking an AoO/Protection class feature and allowing your ready to happen.
Also the webs are quite resilient against destruction, being similar in diameter to para-cord or vines. To make some headway it would take an action for the round to try and cut/burn through them (AC 5, hp 7 per 10 foot cube).
Round One, Order
Gloriana/Odan/ <----ALL UP
|Pindleton Montague IV|
"Ah, yes. I figured it would be better to entice whatever beast was there to come out in the open where we can strike with some distance rather than having it drop down right on top of us. Fine strikes, my friends!"
Pindleton fires off an arrow from his shortbow.
Shortbow attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Damage: 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
*HisSSrch* The sound of hissing is cut short by Pindleton's arrow embedding itself in whatever kind of twisted insect larynx the beast sports. It lurches forward, the arrow snagging itself on the webs, only to reach Gloriana's blade. One quick *pang* topples the spider onto its back.
Combat over. And I feel I need to apologize, that encounter was quite a bit easier than it should have been. I used the giant wolf spider instead of the giant spider without noticing until Pindleton's move, and thought it would be unfair to change it.
Note: regardless of the fact that Gloriana's stats are a bit unknown, that roll is good enough to finish it off.
Besides the holiday edition fido packed in the archway, and the sheer awe/disgust of the infestation's architecture, there are a few things that might catch your interest in this chamber.
Seth, its hard to tell what the purpose of this chamber was in its current state. There are a few iron rings embedded into the stonework which might have been for hitching animals, but they could have just as easily held tapestries or prisoners. Despite the stench of spiders and their prey, the air is crisp and has just a faint odor of earth.
Also quite a few tracks in the debris and fallen stones, wisdom survival for more on that
When the spider dies, Gloriana moves slowly forward, burning the thick webbing as she goes. Once she sees it may take several minutes and may not prove useful, she abandons this idea, encircles around behind Odan, and enters the next chamber, torch and sword at the ready.
As Sohar helps slash at the remaining webs, he notices something odd about some f the wood and points it out. "The wood in the supporting beams and doors, it seems to have decayed unnaturally, or perhaps was burned by acid."
Nature:Wis: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Surv:Wis(Tracks): 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Hehe, yeah I thought that would be funny/novel to bust out a stonecunning roll ;) Legendary luck...stuff like that always seems to happen.
Sohar, with that high Nature roll you also are keen to the fact that the species of tree from whence it came is unlike anything you have ever experienced. It almost resembles specimens of petrified wood you've studied...there is something primitive about its genus.
Additionally, the way the tracks fold betwixt the toes is a tell tale sign of lizard kin. At least, you're pretty sure.
As you follow the tracks around mentally you're taken through to the darkest quatrefoil to the west. They seem to concentrate near the wooden door.
For the curious the south wing is almost totally collapsed. Reports of earthquakes in this area must be true, after all.
Again doors are the red rectangles on the map. Let me know who dare fling it open. Nothing nefarious spotted.
|Pindleton Montague IV|
Nature: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
History: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 20
"My my, this structure is old. You see this masonry here? It's a technique that was used by a temple-forge called the Rachikan. They were part of the Jistka Imperium, which I'm sure you are aware is a truly ancient civilization. Quite impressive work to be intact at all after all this time." ;)
Pindleton cautiously moves into the next area and listens at the door.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Just to keep things going I'll assume hearing nothing you open the door.
This looks like it was once a stairwell, but the earthquake that rocked this fortress has collapsed it into a pile of large granite blocks. It seems you'll have to find another way up to the higher levels of the fortress.
You guys have cleared this level.
Reminder you could see into higher levels from outside due to the partial collapse.
Can the higher level be reached via climbing the wall or something? can we see an entrance?
Sorry for being unclear, yes. The upper levels have entire walls that have fallen down. Similar to the new picture I put on slides, but each level is 15 ft tall, and there are 5 stories.
Climbing with just bare hands is a bit challenging since the odd stones are so smooth. DC 13 str climb. Or maybe you could think of some other way.
There's always a way through or a way around. Back in my days in the army, if we couldn't dig to an enemy, we'd scale the walls. Come on, let's see if there's windows outside.
Anyone have a grappling hook? I've got rope.
Oops, meant DC 13 str athletics, not climb. If at least one of you can get up there and secure a rope, the rest of you can climb up without checks. Or you could do a human pyramid for fun. Halfling tossing is probably also a thing. ;)
"Let's just climb. Shouldn't be too hard. Keep an eye out for more spiders, please." Sohar climbs up without too much trouble, slipping once, sending a miniature avalanche of pebbles and dust cascading down. At the top, he'll tie his rope on to something that seems sturdy and look around without going anywhere as people climb up.
Athletics: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Scaling Rubble: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14
Not to be outdone by no elf, Odan quickly scampers up the wall, pretending it was he that started first.
You're thinking the same as a dwarf: climb up and secure a rope for the rest of the team.
When I hit preview, you submitted one freaking second before me. :)
Gazing up the tower, you might be able to climb even further...though falling would be much more unpleasant from up there. It almost looks like you could climb all the way up to the 4th floor in a huge gash in the old stone. The top floor extends out perhaps 10 feet and would be nearly impossible to reach from outside, though a balcony rounding the exterior might serve as anchor for an attempt.
There are 2 wooden doors immediately on this little section of floor serving as a landing. You can see clear signs that something has been coming and going, scrape markings from old grappling hooks, a snuffed campfire, doodles in soot. The wooden doors looked to be once decorated but now are swollen in their thresholds and have a grungy appearance.
Something is obviously moving and sniffing at the southern door. At times you hear a loud *crack* or *pop*, and the shuffle of footsteps, a bottle rolling on stone, perhaps a 4 legged creature of some sort.
Odan looks up to try and judge how challenging it would be to climb to the top.
It may be easier to start at the top and come down, level by level.
I've got 50' of rope; how high it the top?
Looks about 65 ft to the tippy-top from where you are now. The last anchor-able point is probably below that though, 50ft would be just enough. Each level is about 15 ft high. The crack isn't perfectly vertical but spirals round slightly. The upper floors extend over the crack precariously, well beyond their center of mass. It looks fairly unstable in general, the whole thing could collapse right now for all you know. On the other hand, the stones certainly have a bizarre quality, maybe a mixture of shell and powdered metals. Its incredibly smooth and well finished where the earthquake spared.