The cat hisses and runs off, heading south through the hole in the wall into the sewers. Then there's a yelp, abruptly cut off.
Searching the cavern (C3) reveals a variety of the wererats' crude treasures and tools, the most noteworthy being 3 smokesticks, a tanglefoot bag, 20 tindertwigs, a bent copper trumpet bearing a pennant with the city's coat of arms, and a complete set of carpenter's masterwork artisan's tools.
Ashe, there is a single evil individual somewhere down the passages to the east.
The gates are flung wide, and you see some familiar faces. Amongst them is Dyfrig who mutters something about time for a feast.
Inside, the fort has been transformed. The building has been repaired, the yard swept, a proper stable constructed... it's beginning to look like a proper outpost now, rather than a bandit hang-out.
Lord Jedward Jothan-Sales is nowhere to be seen, but one of his entourage is there. His Lordship has gone on a 'hunting trip' apparently, but is expected back tomorrow and then intends to return to Oleg's to meet the caravan of colonists who ought to be there by the end of the week.
The barge appears to be a splendid vessel, afloat on a sea of cloud. Various fine-robed figures move about on its deck.
Oh no it isn't. A fairly scruffy roughly-made 'boat' that probably would sink did it meet real water! ANd there isn't anyone there.
Certainly, Ash, we can do that: new map
Ashe is advancing cautiously through C5. Apart from dead and dying rats, which squeak as they are pushed aside by his boots, he sees nothing untoward on the floor here. Looking south towards C3, he sees several pieces of broken furniture, dried hay, and fragments of lumber burning in a small fire at the center of this open, ruggedly carved cavern. Short alcoves filled with filthy, oversized rats' nests dot the walls, and the disgusting drip of polluted black condensation echoes through the chamber. A thick flow of sewage spreads across the western edge of the chamber, seeping from a crack in the western wall to another in the south.
The only occupants of the cavern are several fat black rats are tormenting an alley cat which is imprisoned in a cargo-crate cage.
The fellow who was snoozing has now gone to enjoy his eternal rest. The cat who was curled up on his lap under the green cloak hisses indignantly, then jumps up and runs across the room towards the back door.
Dariat moves back to stand just behind Tre'duinne.
Searching the room reveals nothing much. Papers suggest that this room was used by one Gurtis Vortch, the captain of the guard, and even a casual perusal of the notes that he made depict him as a nasty piece of work, someone who enjoyed tormenting those in his charge.
The blond chap looks to Lothar.
"Do you recognise them, Warden Narda?"
This fellow is called Erin. He arrived 4 days ago, apparently to see the Stag Lord, and when he found out what had taken place, asked to 'enlist' with the new government of the area. Whether or not he'd been a bandit before, nobody's quite sure.
He then calls out "Welcome, Wardens! I've heard all about you. Er, I'm Erin. I've just joined up."
Apologies: now awake & ready to carry on...
Merian steps in towards the flaming headless skeleton, shield raised... and delivers a crashingly effective shield bash, pushing the thing backwards!
Reaching around her, Sorin jabs with his spear, the tip grating against the spinal column, chips of bone flying.
Barret continues his pugilistic assault but the skeleton has been pushed back from the spot he was aiming at by his comrades' assaults.
The skeleton, looking rather battered now, aims a swipe at Barret.
Skeleton's attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9, damage 1d6 + 9 ⇒ (6) + 9 = 15 plus 1d6 ⇒ 5 fire damage.
Tre'duinne's fingers emit a coruscating beam that hurts the eyes to look at, twisting and roiling as it strikes the flaming skeleton square in the rib cage. It staggers again...
... and then crumples to the ground, the flames flickering out, as Dillon's short sword drives home somewhere around its pelvis.
Dariat moves forward and hesitates, unsure what to attack now...
Tre'duinne, you feel that the spirit animating the skeleton is insane, unhinged by the cruelty of the place. It was probably decapitated in life, then the remains burned in one of the fires that engulfed the gaol. The location suggests that it might have been a guard.
Moving through the northernmost entrance to the cavern, your nostrils are assailed by the vile smell of charred hair and flesh, vying with the general sewer miasma. The scrapes and scratches of tiny claws cover the uneven walls of this crudely carved cave. Amid these marks, dozens of dark, fist-sized holes dot the stone like a rocky bee's hive. Hundreds of bones — of rats, horses, fish, and humans — lie scattered across the floor, and a cleft in the earthen wall leads off to the east. There is also an opening to the south, and the light of a fire flickers there.
Worse, the remnants of the rat swarm are here, mostly injured from the magic used against them earlier. They cover the floor, a writhing mass of agonised rats, those capable of movement nipping at others in their pain.
As you wish, dear hearts...
The next few days are as near to a holiday as any of you can remember, riding through familiar forest, safe from threats. Even the weather cooperates, balmy sunny days.
At length the fort hoves in view. It looks a lot tidier now and as you get closer you find the place is a hive of industry.
A tall blond man you do not recognise hails you from the wall-top walkway.
"Who goes there?"
The katar or punch dagger looks old - maybe even 2-300 years old - and is 15 inches in length. An embossed image of a ferocious Katapeshi leopard adorns the weapon's hilt, while strange shadowy patterns writhe across its damascened blade, even in strong light.
If you want to use it, Silena, treat it as a +1 vicious punch
Haidar's stuff: 2 potions of cure light wounds, +1 chain shirt, & 450 gp. He also had a pair of battered saddlebags containing 343 gp, a set of battered ceramic idols, a torn and bloodstained silk veil, and
Calinder: The only magical item the dead explorer had was his suit of scale mail. +1 you reckon. The ring is not magical and is unmarked, just a heavy silver ring.
You want to be handwaved back to the fort?
Wererat #1 looks uncomfortable.
"Treachery does not sit well... even when I have chosen to tread a different path... but Girrigz lairs through there." He points to the northernmost exit from the cavern, where the rat swarm came from.
"We shall go and find a new lair, I think. Above and below, tread safely and in peace."
The other wererats echo this, "Above and below, tread safely and in peace," it seems to be a ritual farewell. They start gathering up their scraps of stuff, making ready to move on.
Yes - #11 is the kitchen. Do you want to go that way and out the back?
Gordie says that there will be a single guard on the roof of the gatehouse (there ought to be a pair but one will be at the card game), and there are some dogs kennelled out front as well (kennel is #7, and those dogs are usually hungry and restless!). He leads you back through the main keep, across the hall into the mess hall (#10) which is empty save for tables, benches and a big banner on the wall and on to the kitchen.
This is a well-equipped kitchen with a large fireplace. A fellow wrapped in a big green cloak is dozing in an armchair by the fireplace.
Mystical energy flies from Jengren's fingers, striking the creature, then Calain's outburst of martial indignation sends the beast-man flying back... and not in one piece any more.
Silence falls, broken only by Sonya's gasping for breath. Silena darts over to begin healing her...
The rest of you see the horrendous hybrid form of a Katapeshi were-leopard sprawled dead.
Wererat #1 says "We know Eries Yelloweyes, she is one of the oldest and most respected of our people. If she is against Girrigz Ripperclaws we - at least, I - must consider seriously the wisdom of following his lead any more. It is a shame she did not come to speak to us herself. Can you guarantee the safety of our people? If you can, we will be content to live in peace with the walkers above."
The other wererats seem happy to accept #1's lead, but are looking rather scared at the threats Una and Varrel are making.
Searching through the tatzlwyrms' den, Gorguk finds the skeletal remains of what appears to be a long-dead explorer wedged in the debris. The skeleton still wears a suit of quite nice-looking scale mail, while clutched in one bony hand is a masterwork cold iron longsword. In the rubble and mud below the skeleton there is a rotting leather backpack that contains 38 gp, 520 sp, a pewter drinking stein, a silver ring, a jade carving of a nude female elven monk, and a watertight scroll tube.
Other than ordinary wildlife - a few rabbits and birds - Rhazadilara can sense no other threats now that the tatzlwyrms are dead.
There is a sudden dreadful snarl from behind Sonya. That ragged hermit is there, yet somehow terribly changed... bigger, almost 7 feet tall, bulkier... with claws and fangs and wielding a wicked-looking push dagger!
He aims a slash with his dagger at Sonya!
Creature-hermit attack: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29, damage 1d4 + 2d6 + 7 ⇒ (1) + (2, 4) + 7 = 14
He then leans in to bite as well!
2nd attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11, damage 2d6 + 3 ⇒ (2, 6) + 3 = 11 - the effect is as if you have been both stabbed and then slashed with the claws of some giant beast... most strange, must be enchanted in some way!
OK, inititatives and actions, please.
Hermit/creature initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
OK, the situation begins to stabilise.
Wererat #4 puts up his sword and changes, his body squirming horribly for a moment as he assumes his human form.
"OK," he says. "Are we making a terrible mistake here? We thought Girrigz made sense, that we had to defend ourselves against the walkers above, and that the best defence is a good offence, but maybe we are wrong."
Ashe, Wererat #5 (looking like a pincushion) is close to death, Wererat #2 is out cold and ought to be relatively easy to save.
Wererat #1 says "Girrigz is our leader, but if you guys are correct we may have made a mistake in following him... unless that is you intend to kill us - he looks hard at Shakhan - just because we did follow him."
Tragen, of course you may take that route if you fancy it.
Jack, sorry to lose you. Do you want to go completely or be written out in such a way that you could come back if things change for you?
Shalastar, that sounds sensible. There isn't anywhere else you lot haven't been that could contain any more convicts for you to gather up!
Durok, undeterred by the green vapour, lays into the tatzlwyrm with a vengeance, tearing and trampling it into a bloody pulp. Gorguk, satisfied with his horse's victory, charges over to hit the other tatzlwyrm, slicing into it with his longsword and chopping its head off!
Rhasadilara raises her bow again, but has time to decide not to fire as her target is decapitated before she's at full draw. Calinder likewise readies his crossbow.
Barnabus, do you want to cancel your summoning?
Well done, especially Paladin and Mount!
Skeleton initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (12) + 3 = 15
Merian mutters to her deity, while Dillan reacts swifty bringing his sword up to hit the flaming headless skeleton. Sorin joins in, poking it with his spear.
Barret shows his preference to get up close and personal, stepping in to smash it with a fist... (but takes 1d6 ⇒ 1 fire damage as he does so, it's well alight!)
The fiery headless skeleton lashes out once more, turning on Barret this time.
Skeleton attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (20) + 6 = 26, damage 1d6 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13 plus 1d6 ⇒ 4 fire damage.
Tre'duinne shouts something incomprehensible as a beam shoots forth from his fingers striking the skeleton. He orders Dariat forwards. Dariat had better roll his initiative if he's going to join in!
Note for me:
skeleton has taken 15 damage so far...
Actions for Round 2 please.
Varrel comes in to a graceful landing, his boots touching down in front of a rather startled wererat as he attempts to send it to sleep...
Wererat #5 save: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22 - it blinks and carries on.
Shakhan is in the zone, axe swinging towards the next foe - which is poor Wererat #5! Shakhan's blow misses, however.
Wererat #4 closes with Gronk, and attacks with a short sword.
Wererat #4 attack: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19, damage 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Ashe finally manages to make himself heard. Wererat #5 stops its advance and turns towards the Paladin, saying "Why are you attacking us, then?"... at which point two of Una's bolts thud into its back and it topples over, stone dead!
Wererat #3 says "We thought he had the best interests of our people at heart...". From the north wall, Wererat #1 says "I surrender... we didn't mean any harm"
Gronk's mystical flail continues its assault, the second blow striking Wererat #4. He reaches out to touch it, gathering his powers, but fails to connect...
To sum up the situation:
Wererat #1: Is standing looking at Ashe, over by the north wall.
All dire rats are dead or fled. The rat swarm has gone back whence it came. And the shrieker is dead too.
OK, next round!
There's plenty of magic here... as you might imagine! But no undead, Sonya.
Those pondering the significance of what they see realise that it's a representation of the Barque of Nethys, a craft upon which the devotees of the All-Seeing Eye believe their god traveled the multiverse.
Map Update - could I have a marching order, please?
As previously noted, the door to this room - which appears to be a guard room rather than a cell - hangs slightly ajar. Within stands a table surrounded by a few rickety chairs, along with a pair of mouldy but serviceable cots. A winch is affixed to the north wall.
As soon as Dillan moves up to the door, there is movement within... and a burning, headless skeleton lunges towards him, wielding a hand axe!
Skeleton's attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9, damage 1d6 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12 plus 1d6 ⇒ 2 fire damage.
OK, initiatives and actions, please...
Gorguk charges in, on foot for once with Durok beside him, and slashes at Tatzlwyrm #1 with his sword. The blade slices into the beast's flank, drawing a gout of blood. It squeals, and veers... straight into Durok's teeth! The warhorse clamps down on the tatzlwyrm's throat, worrying it like a dog.
Meanwhile, Rhasadilara stands up and draws, classic archer pose as she concentrates and looses an arrow which hits t'other tatzlwyrm fair and square. It's not slowed, however, and proceeds to attack Gorguk, its neck darting forward as it attempts to bite...
Tatzlwyrm #2 attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19, damage 1d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
Tatzlwyrm #1 seems to be at death's door, with Durok's teeth in its throat. It opens its mouth wide and emits a choking cloud of green vapour. Durok might care to make a Fortitude save.
Barnabus, if you want to cast, please roll your initiative first! Anyone else? On to Round 2, then.
Gordie says "The sergeant and his cronies are liable to be gambling most of the night - maybe about 4am. The Warden will already be in his tower and tends to be grumpy if called - and nothing short of banging on his door will get his attention at all. Why, last year there was a fire in the kitchen and he only found out about it the next morning when he came out to ask where his breakfast was!"
He thought for a moment.
"If you had a spellbook when you came here, it's likely the Warden has it. He fancies himself quite the scholar, you know."
OK, a brawl it is :)
The tatzlwyrms have dragon's heads filled with sharp teeth, and two arms ending in grasping claws. A cloud of greenish vapour wafts from each gaping maw. They are about six feet long, with green scaly hides, and yellow eyes.
And they'd better roll their initiatives...
Tatzlwyrm #1: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (14) + 2 = 16
Tatzlwyrm #2: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
No surprise, they look like they intend to lunge forwards and bite Gorguk.
What are you going to do?
Anyone else wishing to engage in ranged combat - or to charge in - is welcome to roll an inititive & state actions as well. Remember, state actions & make the necessary die rolls, then I'll write up the resolution of the round...
OK, you all head north down the passageway labelled 'The Oubliette.' There is a door to your left, that hangs slightly ajar. At the end of the passageway, you can see a raised portcullis beyond which a rectangular room opens out, lined with iron doors. In the middle of the room, a hinged ten-foot-square metal grating lies over a dark pit in the floor. A thick rope has been tied to the grating and dangles into the pit below.
Amon sneaks off through the crumbling passageway. It may be a natural cleft or one that was roughly dug out - it certainly does not show the sophisticated stonework of the hall you just left.
Eventually, a vast cavern looms ahead, its outlines obscured by eerie vapours. Foul with the scent of ancient decay, these noisome mists crawl unnaturally along the chamber's irregular floor. Unnerving outlines rise among the strange miasma, then fade back into nothingness as quickly as they appeared. An ancient barge dominates the chamber, hanging unsupported in the air. Little more than a skeleton of scorched spars and torn planks, portions of the ancient vessel flicker and fade, almost as unstable as the shifting vapors around it.
Gorguk has reached the edge of the stream by now. Both tatzlwyrms are now aroused - hissing and rearing up in threatening postures. You get the strong impression that they will attack if you go any closer.
Todin, raising the curtain for a moment I'll tell you it's a DC30 lock, so take 20 and you'll get in!
Todin, this is a tricky one alright, so you set back on your heels, contemplate it for a moment, utter a hair-curling imprecation on its maker and his parents, then return to your labours... after a full five minutes of effort (never since you first began to learn how to pick locks have you taken so long!) it springs free!
The chest contains a dozen bottles of rotgut whiskey and a large leather bag full of coins - some 1,235 gp!
Tragen, meanwhile, is poking through the weapons stashed in the armoury. The assortment of confiscated weapons includes a shiv made from a women's metal comb (treat as a dagger), a heavy mace, spear, quarterstaff, battle axe, rapier, great sword, trident and glaive. All are unmarked and useable, even if they could use a little attention in terms of polishing!