Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Crossing the Lake

As you begin to move forward as a group, you note that the ambient temperature steadily drops as you get further and further onto the lake.  The sides of the lake reach to the sides of the cavern, offering no other path to your destination.  After nearing the halfway point, snow begins to curl outwards from ahead of you, drifting on gusts of cold air that strike your face and freeze your eyebrows and the edges of your hair.  It is unpleasant, but not enough to daunt you.

These gusts, however, reduce visibility.  You can see no more than 80 feet ahead, where all becomes white.  There is plenty of ambient glow from the lake, however, so that there is no trouble with light; it is just that the blowing snow is too thick to see through.

Then, at the edge of your line of sight, you see things humping along across the lake towards you.  They are white in color and therefore indistinct against a field of white snow, ice and background.  But they are the size of small bears, weighing upwards of 150 lbs. each.  You see no heads, however, no fur, no signs of claws or even limbs.  In texture, they seem more like bulbous flesh than animal.  In the snow, they are hard to count; but there are at least twenty of them.  They are moving towards you at a steady pace.

Now would be a good time to finalize your movement, which weapons you are carrying and your armor class.

Investigating the Lake

Lothar's remonstrations notwithstanding, Rob is lowered to the ice of the lake with the help of Mikael and Embla, until his boots touch the frosty surface.  The lake is solid; it is ice cold to the touch, nearly but not quite the level of a wet tongue sticking to a metal fence pole.  Rob can feel the damp on his hands wanting to grip the ice before pulling his hand away, unharmed.

The surface is gritty with sharply frozen rime and frost, so that it isn't slippery.  If you are wearing soft boots, however, there's a probability that the ice will tear the soles to shreds before you reach the other side.

Please indicate your actions; I know what you've said regarding what you intend to do, but I would like that rephrased as moves you're taking directly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Vision

As the last of you touches Prugg's robe, the walls around you melt away and you find yourselves elsewhere. Your senses remain intact; you are not seeing another place, you are literally AT another place, physically and concretely.

In the vision, you see yourselves flying a few feet over the surface of the frozen lake ... as you look down, you can see the spirits of the dead, hundreds of them, trapped beneath the ice, writhing in agony. Their eyes open as you pass, looking up at you and imploring your aid, to ease their suffering.

Upon the far shore of the lake, you feel yourself come to rest on the floor of the cavern, your feet sinking into ten inches of snow. Snow is gently falling. Stalactites and stones rise around you like crystalline teeth, six to ten feet high. You move forward, picking your way between these stones for a hundred paces, before reaching an open space. Here, the cavern is just sixty feet wide and forty feet high, though it extends outwards into the obscuring snowfall.
Across this open space is a wall made of black boughs, wooden limbs and branches, interlaced from wall to wall and from floor to ceiling, forming in impenetrable barrier. There are no tree trunks, no leaves; the wood seems to grow directly from the rock, upwards and downwards. You reach forward and touch the wall. It is warm, and you sense that the wood is alive. It feels as hard as iron, and you sense that it is indestructible.

This wall has a gate, with wooden doors fifteen feet high and each seven feet wide. The doors are wide open. The bottoms of the door are frozen in place and cannot be moved. There is nothing to prevent the party from moving through the wall and deeper into the cavern ... from beyond there are sounds of croaking: a hollow, resounding echo, that never ceases ...

The vision ends, and you find yourselves with Prugg again.

"You do not ask," says the old svirf, "Why we do not go ourselves to destroy this thing.  We tried, once, not long after we came here.  But it is a place of great evil ... and the svirf are creatures of the deepest places in the earth.  We were born of rock above the magma, and moved upwards into these passages before even the elves came to these lands.  We have never seen the light; we are of the dark.  When we went to fight, we were overcome by our own natures; helplessly, drugged by the powers of evil, we turned upon each other and nearly all died.  Only nine of us escaped that day.  Only I am left to remember it.

"We have waited for creatures from the light to come.  You.  Your peoples were born under the sun.  You are not as easily controlled by evil as we were.  That is why we seek to help you.  There are not many enemy, but they require spirits that are not owned by the dark."

This is the last of what he says.

The experience is so powerful, the party members are transformed by it.  You feel yourselves the memories of having been to the gate, as real as any other memory you've had.  The effect is to actually increase your experience.  You each gain 25% of the necessary experience gap that separates you from your next level.

For example, Engelhart needs 7,000 experience total to move from 4th level to 5th (6,001 total to 13,001 total).  He therefore receives 1,750 from this experience (no 10% bonus).  Lothar receives 1,375.  Embla, 1,000.  Mikael, 625.  And Rob, 600.

Please add this to your total experience.

[this power to impart experience directly is a sage ability, under Instruction, which requires 100 or more points of knowledge ~ Prugg, being seven centuries old, is able to do it with much greater intensity than most]

You are each disoriented for some moments, but you may interact again normally.


The Ancient Prugg

Three days pass before you're told that the Ancient Prugg will see you.  During that time, the members of the party are able to make contact with Willa, who will send word to Fjall and Valda further up the tunnels.  You see your weapons being reforged with mithril.  You are given comfortable accommodations, though you discover that the svirf sleep on rock beds without covers or pillows.

You discover what "yarm fruit" is, as you're also reintroduced to the green, glowing pods that you discovered earlier when you encountered the ticks.  You learn that these are a subterranean melon, which sustain one another with ambient light.  They taste sweet, somewhat dry in your mouth (like apricots) and have a slight sophomoric effect that dulls your body to pain and helps you sleep at night.  Each yarm has a single large pit about the size of a human's fist.  They grow everywhere, providing a soft light for much of the svirf's lair, a light that does not compromise infravision.  You're told they are difficult to raise as plants; they would require a special sage ability.

As you are taken through the tunnels to visit Prugg, you come to a chamber where the walls are covered with apparently carved reliefs of svirfneblin.  The carving is remarkably smooth and glossy; the images are kindly, pleasant and restful.  Each one has eyes closed, with a smile, as though sleeping.

At the end of the corridor, with these reliefs on both sides, you are introduced to the Ancient Prutt.  He smiles as you approach, and nods without speaking.  He is clearly more ancient than any svirf you've met.  His visage, his body, is more rock-like than the others; in appearance, he is nearly like that of the reliefs you've just seen on the walls.  He moves heavily, ponderously, as though his limbs are too heavy to lift.

One of the two svirf that have led you here, a fellow named Trag, asks that you be free with your questions, that nothing is hidden here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Experience from the Bear

Here's the experience that was gained from the brief combat with the two-headed bear:



The Svirfneblin

The two-headed bear takes all of two steps, when it and the party are braked by a shouted roar, "Stilbaki!  Stilbaki, Jorn!  Deg vary aleg!"  The voice is deep, resounding, even with a slight echo.

The bear actually appears to lose height, as it cringes.

A humanoid just under four feet tall appears on the bear's left.  It appears vaguely like a gnome, but with more mass, a much larger head than would be typical and with skin that looks like it might have been carved of granite.  You would think its a male.  The being's hands are also unusually heavy and powerful; one carries a short mining pick, the sort used for digging, with the trowel pointed down and a 10 inch spike on the head pointing upwards.  The clothes he is wearing are heavy and seem to be made of very well-worn leather.  He is bald, with large ears covered with slits, apparently intentionally done with a knife.  His head is covered with healed gashes and scars.  He carries no light source.

For those of you from Norway, it is quite recognizable from images that were described to you as children.

"Stvem ar dug?" it asks.



As you do, lights begin to appear all over the chamber, as other svirfneblin appear all around you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

2-Headed Bear Round 2 ~ Engelhart Protects the Party

The bear's rush is potentially broken by Engelhart; whereas the bear was going to attack its way through the party, it stops and bites first at the cleric, missing by hitting AC 6.  It swings with a claw, hitting with a rolled 13, causing only 3 damage.

Because it doesn't stun, the bear attacks with its other head, rolling a 17 and hitting Engelhart for 9 damage.  Since the cleric is reduced to 34 by the first hit, this second hit stuns ... but a lot of the bear's forward momentum is gone.  Engelhart, not wounded, staggers back into 0613.

Rolling randomly between Embla, Engelhart and either Lothar/Mikael for its last attack, it spends it on Engelhart.  I roll a 16 with its other paw, for 6 more damage.

HOWEVER ... that is both paws!  The bear climbs over Engelhart and mauls the cleric for an additional 13 damage.  That will wound.  I count 31 altogether.

The bear comes close enough to Embla to cause incidental damage ... the assassin takes 2 damage, which doesn't stun.  Engelhart doesn't suffer additional incidental damage.  It is also close enough to similarly affect Mikael; the mage takes 1 damage.


For a moment, before Engelhart is hit so profusely, his lantern reveals a well, a wider chamber of with piles of broken rock and carts, and perhaps the corner of another domicile.

Engelhart is stunned, and under the bear's feet, and cannot at this time guess what the bear is doing next.

The party may act.



A Very Large Bear

Not that happy with the color scheme; one problem is that each time it changes, I have to alter the hex
numbers individually.  Please treat the purple-blue as stone house, the light grey as stone wall and the black
as area not revealed by the lantern light.

The bear shakes itself to its feet, and Embla is very surprised when it stands up, because she can now see that it has TWO HEADS.

The bear will roll a 4 for initiative.  Embla, please roll a d6.

The Constructed Passage

Presumably, the party begins to make their way forward into the constructed passage.  As I had said, the corners of the passage are squared and carefully designed; and the passage itself is nearly straight as an arrow, for the first seventy feet.  The taller members of the party have to stoop, but apart from that the passage is much smoother than the foot track you've been moving along, which has been full of cracks, dips or other impediments.  This passage is smoothed and particularly easy for those who are shorter than 5 foot 4 inches.

There's a turn of 45 degrees, then the passage straightens again. You're at the bottom of a rising slope, much like a low hill, about 20 degrees.  As you climb it, you can see there are signs of the passage being maintained now, as if someone had swept.  There are places where the stone has been further smoothed than before.

As you see the top of this slope at the edge of your illumination, Embla will stop the party, making a sign for everyone to be very quiet.  You've seen her make this sign before.  Very soft, she will say, "Do you hear that?"

You don't, at first.  But once Embla explains in a few words that it sounds like a steady flow of water, you think you can hear it.

Can I ask, before going further: what is your order of travel going forward from here?

UPDATE: once the party has moved forward, the illumination they possess will show this much of the cavern they enter (see comments).


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Straw Room

The party settles in to the small chamber, which because of the color of the stone and the way that the formations are striated, we'll call the Straw Room.  You're guessing by this time that it's the 20th of May, and that for some of you there has been no sky for ten days.

You sort through the food, partake in what you will (let me know), making yourselves comfortable.  Because of the echo of the room, and from a growing habit of being under ground, you've begun to speak more softly to each other than you would have some days ago.

You hear the approach before it happens.  And as you all set yourselves to fight something, soon you realize its Willa and someone else, and the clipping of hooves on stone.  Within seconds, Willa and a porter, Gilby, will appear, with a donkey, bringing a little food but mostly other equipment.

Three dozen iron spikes, with a metal hammer.  An axe, two shovels, three metal wedges.  300 feet of rope.  A block and tackle.  Seven feet of iron wire and 200 feet of twine. A tin whistle.  20 lead bullets for a sling; two long swords, an extra maul, two clubs, four daggers and four darts.  Six flints for starting fires.  An iron grappling hook (she makes mention of the cliff, which was uncertain for her but she thought she might send back word to see if Hamish on the surface would have one).  An emery whetstone.  20 large canvas sacks.  Eight iron picks.  And 40 travel rations, 160 lbs. of food, consisting of bread, salted pork, cheese, onions, sugar, oil and salt provision for a day).

She is overjoyed to find that you are well.  "We were going to see if you had been back," she says, "And if you had, to keep going, to see if there was a further place along to drop further supplies, or see if you had died. When we did not see you before reaching the Straw Room my second time, we thought perhaps you might need a further cache.  Lothar did say the journey to the cliff would take a long time.  Did you see it?"

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Lake

The temple is a collection of twenty buildings ... and you are surprised to see that while once they were apparently covered with motifs and sculptures, similar to the ones you saw in the throne room, all of these are defaced.

All of them.  Some one has taken chisels to the freizes, smashed figures and statuary, broken menhirs and anything else that might have ever had an image. They've done a very good job of it, as well.

In this place, it is hard to tell when this might have been done.  Yet there is a clear difference between the exposed, broken surfaces of the rock, and the original stone surfaces of the temple.  You know that the temple predates the 7th century, as it seems to fit with everything else that's happened.  But the exposed broken rock shows far less signs of grit and grime.  You would guess that centuries passed between the existence of the temple and the time it was destroyed.

Not far beyond the temple, there is a cliff that overlooks the lake.  And Lothar gets a flash of his vision, knowing for certain this is the cliff.  But because the vision of the cliff came from the druid who died in the squeeze tomb, that druid was never thrown from this cliff.  Lothar has no vision that connects to anyone being hurled off the cliff.

Yet there is evidence of that everywhere.  The edge of the cliff, the manner in which it is worn away; the stones next to the cliff themselves, trod upon so often that they're smooth as silk.  The cliff hangs straight over the lake, a hundred feet below; and everyone in the party has an overwhelming sense of dread as they stand near the edge.

The frozen lake itself emits an eerie feeling.  As though it were ... well, it's a ridiculous idea, and your eyes tell you different, but you can't get away from the sense that the lake actually is ...

Moving.

The End

My examination indicates that you did account for your food for the first day past the throne room.  However, after the combat, 4 lbs on this day will not be enough food.  You must increase your food cost by 2 lbs. per person, as you are healing now or feeling the effects of a severe battle rush.

 It has been a long day and you must rest to avoid penalties.  You've chosen a small chamber, just thirty feet across, a third of which is covered by a small pond, the far edge against the wall.  Lothar declares the water safe and drinkable.  The room is dank from the water, but it is enclosed and ~ I assume ~ easy to guard, for those who take posts.  You've lost one of your fighters; I direct the new players to familiarize themselves with my guard rules.

The next 'day,' you wake and set about organizing yourselves.  Willa takes a cut of the food (the party should tell me how much), says her goodbyes and begins the return trek.  She explains she is not afraid of the caterpillar you just encountered; so long as she takes cover when it appears, she can protect herself from its spears ... and it is cowardly, anyway.  She hugs Lothar before going and heads off.

The rest of the party continues to delve for a full second day ... and, to move things along, most of a third day as well.  This will cost you 8 lbs. more per person, as you drag along mile after mile.

Late on the third day, however, you see with astonishment that the tunnel ahead of you is lit with a blue light.  This grows quickly, to where it is as bright as day; and then you see the lip of a fall, and part of a chamber beyond.  You move until you reach a ledge, from where you can take it all in.

The chamber is of incomprehensible scale.  A scale that you would compare with standing at the foot of a mountain.  You're uncertain how far beneath the surface you are ... but this must be below sea level.  There is no hill in Rogaland that would contain a chamber this size.

It must be three quarters of a mile high, and two miles across.  You are about three hundred feet above the floor.  This floor is split in two parts: the right two thirds of the chamber is a white-and-blue lake, white because it is frozen solid.  This lake extends to the far ends of the chamber, where the far edge becomes lost to the eye.

The nearer third is bare stone.  It is clearly higher than the lake.  You cannot be sure, but it seems that it overlooks the lake.  There might be a cliff above the lake, but it is obscured because the cliff would be on the edge opposite your point of view.

On the edge, however, is a great sprawling temple, low to the ground, a hundred feet wide and placed on the far side of the bare stone chamber floor. You can see how the pathway you are on descends to the temple ... and you can imagine how the prisoners must have felt at this point, as they came at last to the end of their tortuous journey.