It takes a few moments to focus, but Bree is able to discern some faint auras of magic.
Ancient veins of necromantic energy flow through these forge workers.
As she concentrates, Bree also notices a magical radiance tucked among some weapons and bits of armor that have been overturned and pinned to the floor by collapsed stones on the far side of the room.
"Thorek, if you and Caladra can watch my back, there appear to be some magical items over by the collapsed wall. I can go grab them, but I'm worried those zombie-smiths will junp me."
And then Bree did a double take as her brain caught up. "Wait, did someone just say something about a gas?" Gods above, girl! The hobs won't have to kill you if you do it yourself!
is there anyway to identify the gas?
"Aye, Boudra's got the right of it, there's a whiff of something in that chamber. With any luck it'll be explosive, but likely it's just poisonous." the dwarf offers, the chance to be helpful again driving away his fit of pique.
"Zombie smiths? They're not dwarves are they?" Thorek glares at the jerkily-hammering figures and grips his dorn-dergar tightly. "Well whatever they are, let's lob a little fiery something in there first, just to make sure!"
Let's lob an alchemist's fire in there and see what happens. Probably better to fight them out here either way.
Cedric pulls up the rear, still adjusting the straps on the replacement armor. It's strange how the armor can be simultaneously more protective and less movement restrictive.
"If it's flammable, I can check without wasting an alchemists fire," he says. He fishes through his pack for a torch, then rolls it into the room. "Everybody stand back," he warns, then uses the spark cantrip to set it on fire from as far away as he can get while still having line of sight.
Fire in the Hole?: 1d100 ⇒ 75
Skeleton 1: 3d6 ⇒ (2, 4, 2) = 8
Skeleton 2: 3d6 ⇒ (1, 3, 6) = 10
Skeleton 3: 3d6 ⇒ (5, 4, 4) = 13
Boudra: 1d20 - 3 ⇒ (13) - 3 = 10
Bree: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Caladra: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
Cedric: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (9) + 1 = 10
Cyrioul: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (14) + 9 = 23
Lily: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Thorek: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
Skeleton Red: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Skeleton Blue: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Red, MWK Aklys Ranged Trip vs Cedric: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
The magic spark catches upon the broader, rag-wrapped end of the torch.
The nascent flame flickers for a moment or two before it grows large enough that its tongues lick the unseen gas floating in the room.
With a bright flare, a plume of flame ignites and rises into the air before spreading outwards.
Like rolling waves from the sea, the fire washes across the room in a burning cascade.
The flame races outward in a heartbeat, and it shoots out from the open door in a quick flare that sends the nearby party members diving for safety.
Though you all feel the pulse of heat wash over you, none of you are burned or harmed.
Once the explosive gout subsides, having consumed the gas that had collected in the previously sealed chamber, the smell of rotten eggs creeps out to haunt the party.
Peering inside, you find the room free from soot, ash, or even any significant blackening.
However, the skeletal smiths remain, now swathed in flames.
One of them quickly falls to its knees briefly before crumbling into a smoldering heap of bone.
The other two yet stand, slowly turning to look towards the open door with burning hatred.
The fire has scorched away all remnants of leathery skin and pale hair to leave nothing but stout, burning skeletons slowly, jerkily marching towards the party.
As it ambles forth, one skeleton uncoils a fine-linked iron chain from around its waist. A metal, hooked club hangs from the end of the chain.
The skeleton twirls the weapon briefly before hurling it at Cedric. The hook falls behind his ankle, and with a quick twist, the skeleton's weapon pulls Cedric from his feet.
Cedric is knocked Prone. Cyrioul can act, followed by the other skeleton, then the rest of the party.
Cyrioul taps Caladra on the shoulder and gives her a mote of prescience, then backs away from the opening.
Diviners Fortune: 6/7 remaining. +1 to your next attack roll.
”Gah!! What happened!?”
Knowledge (Dungeoneering) re Explosion: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
After countless centuries sealed away, it is likely that this highly flammable gas had filled the room entirely, thus providing plenty of combustible fuel for when Cedric ignited the torch he rolled into the room.
The other burning skeleton shambles forth and unspools its own chain weapon.
Blue Aklys vs Cedric CMD: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
The metal club is thrown and its hook catches on Cedric's armor.
It seems the two skeletons intend to drag him closer, away from his allies.
The rest of the party may act. The initiative order is Thorek, Cedric, Boudra, Caladra, Bree, and Lily.
Cedric mildly amused that immediately upon changing into Caladra's old armor, he gets knocked down, hooked, and dragged by some skeletons. With all the beatings Caladra took in it, perhaps it might be cursed. He'd laugh out loud if the situation wasn't so serious.
But it's not as serious as it could be. These obvious undead are dragging the wrong person toward them, that's for sure. Letting them do the work of getting him into range for them, he grabs the holy symbol of Erastil from his neck and emits a pulse of divine energy from it to harm them.
Channel Positive to harm undead: 2d6 ⇒ (2, 5) = 7 DC 12 will for half
So the lower-level map is there, but not our tokens. I moved mine to the forge doorway, but maybe I shouldn't have?
"Hey!" Thorek darts forward, winding back to throw his dorn-dergar. "Someone grab onto Cedric!" Hurling the steel ball with all his might... Attack (Reach): 1d20 + 5 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 5 + 1 = 10 ...it smacks solidly into the stone archway before clattering to the ground. "Confounded doors!" the dwarf explodes.
Thorek - There's another link beneath the Lower Levels Map for the Encounter Map. That one includes the tokens. I thought it would be easily to manipulate a separate map that focused on the rooms where combat is happening rather than the entire level.
As they approach, free from their smithing tools and ragged robes, the skeletons' smaller size becomes more apparent, despite the wreathing flames.
They appear almost dwarven, yet their stature is shorter than even Thorek and his kin.
Red Will Save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (11) + 3 = 14
Blue Will Save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
The sound of Thorek's weapon striking the stone still rings in his ears as Cedric calls upon Erastil's might to smite the undead.
One of them shudders and falls to pieces in a small shower of smoldering, broken bones.
Its reddish corona of flames briefly shifting into a blend of green and white before extinguishing like the undead itself.
The other skeleton shows a modicum of resistance to the divine energy and remains on its bony feet for a few heartbeats before succumbing.
In a less dramatic second death, the skeleton merely tumbles forward and crumples into a motionless heap.
Between the gas explosion and the channel, these skeletons didn't stand a chance. I suspected this would be a quick one.
"I suppose someone else should have some fun too," Caladra said as she approached Cedric.
Bree picks through the broken collection of armor and weapons left behind in this ancient smithy.
The only salvageable item is a light steel shield that radiates magic. Although the shield has begun to rust, it can easily be polished.
Despite the centuries of neglect, decay, and collapse - not to mention the recent fire burst - there are several sets of tools that remain in uncannily good condition.
Expertly crafted from steel and stone, there are two full sets of smithing tools and one set of mining tools left behind.
Bree, Knowledge: Engineering: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
Cyrioul, Knowledge: Dungeoneering: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (13) + 8 = 21
Bree and Cyrioul examine the gas vent that once fueled the forge, and they discover that it can be repaired.
With some dedicated effort spent clearing gas lines and airways and reigniting the flame, this could provide your nascent community with an excellent place to work metal.
Bree Spellcraft: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Cyrioul Spellcraft: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (4) + 13 = 17
2 sets of Masterwork Smithing Tools, 1 set of Masterwork Mining Tools, and a Light Steel Shield +1.
Boudra hurries into the smithy, but relaxes when she sees Cedric hasn't actually been harmed. Glad you're ok, she signs with a small smile. Then she proceeds to the exit of the room and peers into the gloom beyond.
Reminder that Boudra now has 60' darkvision. :)
"Thanks," Cedric says, generally and to the kind words. "I'd be happy to let you have the next one, Caladra," he jokes as he dusts off his armor.
"It's definitely a noteworthy place. Shall we see what's on the other side of the landing?"
The formerly hidden door on the opposite side of the entrance hall slides open to, thankfully, reveal no apparent signs of danger.
Tiny, intricate carvings line the walls of this room, forming great columns of text.
Much of it has cracked and crumbled, and the entire southern wall is fractured, with a yawning cavern beyond.
The carvings also mention something called “the Excavator,” which the Derro prayed to as some sort of god.
One passage about this in particular from the lengthy carvings catches your attention:
“...grandmother, in seeking the Excavator, turned her eyes to the Stone, and to the Steel, and finally to Woe.”
Short post now, more soon, but for now he’ll translate:
Cyrioyl recognizes the Aklo inscriptions, and after some study is able to relate the contents above to the others. ”THE Excavator - not a title I’d imagine gets applied to a mild or weak being. I wonder what they could mean?”
Backtracking just slightly
Cyrioul examines the shield and compares notes with Bree before offering it up to the party. "Fine craftsmanship, here. I hope to produce it's like someday. This forge would go a long way to making that happen, and I imagine that Kining would love a crack at this forge once we get it fixed up. It still baffles me that the troglodytes would leave this place relatively unused. We could have been fighting a much more difficult battle in the caves above - they could have been much better equipped!"
Signing to Boudra, he offers, This shield might be a bit lighter than that heavy shield you're carrying, and just as effective.
((Cyrioul is committed to getting the forge working again, or at least directing the efforts to do so.))
”THE Excavator - not a title I’d imagine gets applied to a mild or weak being. I wonder what they could mean?”
"Possibly just mythical, the creator-figure of an imagined origin for this place?" Thorek suggests, though his tone and expression are both skeptical. "Probably something large with claws and poor people skills, though. Let's hope its lairing elsewhere."
"I hope there's not a reason the trogs never utilized it other than not knowing how it works. We should be on our toes as we delve deeper, there may be something lurking in the shadows here," Caladra says in a somber tone.
She watches over the party as they continue to look about the area and once ready, leads the way into the next room they choose to explore.
Lily just stands there confused by all of this. She was never the adventuring type and this is one of her first delves into a dungeon. Looking at the others she says,"Is this normal? This is my first dungeon and its gotten progressively weirder."
Bree shrugs. "I'm pretty sure every place is different, just like every town is different. But I'm sure that this is highly unusual." She makes a series of notes and drawings in her notebook, trying to capture the recorded story of the derro. She compares notes with Cyrioul to make sure she's not missing anything. "One day, maybe you can invent or learn a spell that faithfully recreates an exact image from the real world. Think of what a boon that would be to archivists."
The tunnel opens into a long, irregular cavern running north to south.
Streaks of purple crystal run along one wall.
To the east, the room descends down at a steep angle to a tunnel.
A low, ethereal moan rises from the cold depths, and a barricade built of masonry blocks and crudely quarried chunks of stone partially blocks the wide, low tunnel.
To the south, haphazardly scattered stone debris litters the tunnel, narrowing the passage to a choke point.
Cyrioul smiles to Bree. "A combination of illusion and transmutation like that would be most helpful, certainly. I'll do some reflection on the theory of those two schools, and let you know if I come up with anything."
- - - - -
At the intersection...
Kn(Dungeoneering): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (17) + 8 = 25
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (20) + 3 = 23
...Cyrioul points to the east tunnel and says, "We'll want to spend some time shoring up that barricade all the way - this probably heads all the way to the Darklands. And that way," he points south, "I hear something... clicking and scratching?"
He signs to Boudra, Want to take a quiet walk down there and see what we're about to meet?
Perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
"Careful friends, there's something down that way," Thorek points down the southern passage.
Ninja'd by Cyrioul!
Thorek arches an eyebrow when Cyrioul theorizes the barricade blocks a route to the Darklands. "If that's the path we have to flee by if the Ironfangs come, we can expect to lose a lot of people," he says, expression grim. "The Darklands aren't friendly to anyone, especially surfacers."
"What're the darklands? I've never heard of them before," Caladra asks, surpressing her need to investigate the noise her friends have heard to know more about what seemed like a possible future threat.
Cyrioul stops cold for a minute, then nods, "Of course, of course. Well, without getting too deep into all the details... Hmm, nope, don't need to worry about that. Or THAT. Well, maybe... no, no, no, that'd just make us all worry..."
He shakes his head to clear it then turns to Caladra and says simply, "There are places deep, deep underground, and they are incredibly dangerous. And dark. So dark you'd think the darkness itself was alive. I can't say that it's been my field of specialization, but what I do know is that there are more than a few truly horrible things that live down there, and the less they think about or hear us, the better off we all are. To be honest, I'm not sure that slavery under the Ironfangs would be that much worse than heading down there."
"Every breed of nightmare monster you can thing of--chitinous things with tentacles and or claw-blades or two many eyes. My clan contributed many warriors and priests to the defense of Kraggodan from the things below. There are even...well, knightly orders, you could call them, dedicated to fighting monsters of the Darklands." Thorek tries to keep his face completely neutral. The conversation had moved into uncomfortable territory. "We should deal with the problems at hand--like what is making that click-scratch sound?"
Caladra nodded her head, not fully liking what she was hearing about the Darklands. "Right, lets go find the source of that noise then." She tossed her sword over her shoulder and waited for the others to be ready to follow suit.
So the Darklands are Paizo's version of the Underdark essentially?
Cedric follows the others quietly. He doesn't have a lot to add to the discussion, and he too is eager to get the rest of this place cleared out for safety's sake. Or, at least, as much of this place as is reasonable. There's no way they have the manpower to clear out the whole darklands, that's for sure.
Boudra, Initiative: 1d20 - 3 ⇒ (17) - 3 = 14
Bree, Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (13) + 2 = 15
Caladra, Initiative: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (4) + 1 = 5
Cedric, Initiative: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12
Cyrioul, Initiative: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (8) + 9 = 17
Lily, Initiative: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Thorek, Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (10) + 2 = 12
???, Initiative: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
The passage is quite narrow, and those of you in heavier armor find it quite the tight squeeze to get through, but it opens onto what was once a far more spacious area.
A partial collapse mars the symmetry of this large, circular chamber - its roof rising to a broken dome overhead.
Crude carvings of reptilian heads and bodies cover the wall, snaking around empty sockets in the stone walls.
A thin, bluish mist hovers in the air, swirling gently. The mist rises about halfway up the walls, like a diaphanous ocean.
The clicking noise, now accompanied by a slight grinding noise, is much more noticeable here, and it seems to originate from around a corner formed by a pile of rubble dominating the center of the chamber.
These were once veins of crystal, like the ones you've seen in both levels of these caverns.
However, it seems that someone has carefully extracted every last bit of crystal from these walls.
The encounter map has been updated
"If they're stipping the place it must be of something of value. Perhaps we can figure out what it is and bargain with them for some. Then again knowing our luck it may be more trouble in which case they've done all the hard work for us." Caladra says as she looks over the work of their mysterious clicking sound.
Bree shakes her head. "I don't think so. I think there's something else going on. Some other use. If the trogs, or who-ever, thought these were of some value, there wouldn't be as much on the walls we've already past. No, I think this is something else entirely."
@GM: I can't recall if we've discovered anything about these gems. Function, value, etc. Would there be an appropriate check for that?
Cyrioul brings up the rear, and tries to keep an eye behind him for anything that would sneak up. He keeps his wand at the ready.
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Caladra takes a careful few steps forward, sword at the ready for anything that could pop out.
perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
@Cyrioul, Appraise or Knowledge: Dungeoneering checks would identify details about the gems. Kining was appraising them on the upper level, but she was not asked and did not freely share her thoughts.
???: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
Clilassh, Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15
Bull Rush: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
A most bizarre sight greets Caladra as she rounds the corner.
Awash in the blue mist cloaking the floor, she beholds a large, reddish scorpion - perhaps the size of a mastiff hound.
It turns to look at the approaching sound - its spindly claws producing the clicking sound - Caladra can see it stick a bit of crystal into its maw and chew - producing the grinding sound.
Upon seeing Caladra, it shivers with excitement and rushes forward.
Much like an overeager dog, it bounds upon Caladra and nearly bowls her over, but she maintains her footing.
Now that it is closer, she discovers that this "scorpion" is in fact composed entirely of crystals, colored in a range of blue and red hues.
Surprisingly, it seems to babble chiming words in an unknown language.
The crystal veins you have seen throughout these caverns have largely been varieties of quartz - rose, smokey, milky, and even some amethyst.
They are hardly priceless gems, but they could provide a source of revenue if time was spent mining them - and you could find someone to trade with.
The veins you have seen above likely hold a couple hundred gold sails' worth of crystals.
Boudra perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
Bree perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (19) + 5 = 24
Caladra perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (6) + 5 = 11
Cedric perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
Cyrioul perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
Lily perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12
Thorek perception: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 21
Originating from the deepest caverns of the Plane of Earth, they are known find their way to the Material Plane - particularly in subterranean regions rich in mineral and crystal formations.
They can actually scent out crystals and gemstones, storing them inside its body until it has enough to create an offspring.
I'm still confused on if the thing attacked me or not. but we seem to be rolling with the "it's a lost puppy" angle so...
"What in Iomedae's name," Caladra says as the scorpion charges at her. She braces herself expecting a charge, but instead was greeted with something more akin to the hounds back in the guard barracks.
"Uh..." Caladra looked at the creature, now obviously more crystalline than flesh and blood, in confusion.