Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Descending Chamber

The hall past the well room continues for about 120 feet altogether; the last forty feet of the hall begins to snake, first left, then right, descending more steeply until it is a thirty degree slope at the end.  You would guess, by then, that you are about 45 feet underground.

I will describe this as carefully as I can.  You find yourselves in a round chamber that is also a ledge over an uncertainly deep drop.  Somewhere below, you can hear the sound of water falling; it is not a roar, but it is a good deal more than a trickle.

The "hole," which is the top of a limestone cavern, depicted in black.  The walls surrounding the chamber, as well as the sheer wall on the other side of the hole, are depicted in grey.

The floor of the room has been made of stone bricks, shaped together and without mortar.  The floor is almost perfectly flat.  The walls are rough hewn out of the stone.

Near the lip, which simply drops away, there is a cage, about four feet wide. The cage has a ring on its top. Above the cage, and above the hole, you can clearly see a stone cylinder that has been carved into the ceiling, grooved in the middle.  Prodding the cylinder with a stick will show that it turns on axis that have also been carved into the rock.  You have no idea how this was done.

On the wall is a similar stone wheel, also seemingly carved out of the rock.  This also turns, and quite easily.  The interior stone must be naturally greasy, or incomprehensibly smooth.  The wheel is toothed.  There is a crude metal block that has been fixed as stop to disallow the wheel from turning one direction or - if the stop is lifted over the stone peg that holds it in place - the other.  Apparently, the wheel can be used to haul the cage up or lower the cage.  The cylinder in the ceiling would work as a windlass.  The cage would drop down through hex 0205.

There is no chain anywhere in sight.


Embla Strand said...

First, can we observe the same kind of barrier on this side of the passageway, between the corridor and this chamber?

Do we want to get some of that water and stash it in here?

I take the lantern and look, cautiously, down where the cage would go.

Alexis Smolensk said...

You cannot detect any gas; you haven't been able to since drinking the water. It seems to suspend the effects of the gas completely.

[the gas might be an illusion]

There's no indication of how deep the hole is. It simply plummets.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I should add that the cage weighs about 135 lbs.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I'm just getting ready for work; I'll be back around 11 p.m. EST]

Lothar Svensson said...

Alright, who's got the 500 feet of chain? No one? 1/2" chain (with a breakload of 882 lbs) is only 6 sp per foot. 500 feet would come to... 187 gold and 8 silvers. Oh, and it'd take another couple of days, so food for that time as well. Other thoughts?

I, for one, don't fancy climbing down there to see if the old one has simply fallen. Which it probably has and then rusted/corroded away in the water below.

I don't suppose we could tell how deep the pit is by dropping something down, could we?

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Well, torch-dropping exercise could still result in flammable death, so we might save it for later?

Alexis: you say the floor is *almost* even and unmortared. I wish to check the flooring for a hidden compartment.

Pandred said...

Could try rope. How hefty is the cage? Or one of the stone mechanisms?

Someone confident in their climbing could lower down a ways on a knotted rope tied to something heavy, shine a light, see what there is to see.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Regarding climbing down: it appears to be sheer, it may even bend inwards under the ledge. None of you have mountaineering skill, so . . .

Regarding dropping something: of course you can drop something and find out.

Regarding the floor's stones, Engelhart finds that the stones, though unmortared, have been put together tightly. None of them are loose. When I say almost perfectly flat, I mean to the point that it is impressively well made.

The cage weighs 135 lbs.

Embla is the only person here with sure-footedness, who could conceivably climb down a knotted rope. The present climbing rules would indicate that she can climb down 15 feet before having to make a dexterity check (which has only a 5% chance of failing) ~ but you can see down that far already.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

I wish to inspect the cage closely, particularly the ring at its top.

The way the well debacle turned out, I wouldn't put it past the creators of this place to simply have an invisible chain suspending the thing.

Eveb if it turns out nothing, I wish to operate the mechanism, just as if it had a chain.

Lothar Svensson said...

I go back to the sarcophagus room and grab one of the dead fire beetles, drag it back to this room and chuck it off the ledge to see if we can tell how far down it goes.

Pandred said...

If the beetle has no light remaining, we might get something out of tying a torch to it.

I think the cliff leads to some sort of underground stream, if we can hear the water moving.

Lothar Svensson said...

I think it likely that the torch would blow itself out if it's as deep as we think it is. If the dropping rules are the same as throwing, a fall of 40 feet is sure to put it out.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Still thinking zebras, Engelhart.

The cage is a cage. The ring seems strongly fixed and set. The metal is slightly rusted, but this has been a relatively dry place and there is very little corrosion.

The mechanism works a bit roughly, but it works.

Lothar, regarding throwing a beetle off the ledge: 2 seconds to complete the drop. It sounds as though it splooshes upon hitting the bottom.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Moving on,

Is there any tying point in the cogged wheel where we might conceivably tie a rope knot in order to reestablish it to working condition? Same question goes for the ceiling cilinder, since we'll need them both.

The stated weight of 135 lbs. + passenger might be perfectly manageable by a rope, depending on the pulley physics involved. Lothar mentioned a chain as the most obvious option but would not a rope suffice, short-term?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Your rope is 5/16ths of an inch thick, making the break-weight about 900 lbs. The sappers have about 75 feet of rope left in two pieces, after using part of it to make the rope ladder. Tied together, this makes about 71 feet of rope. Bergthora feels she can probably feed the rope through the ceiling windlass with a spear handle; it will take about 15 feet of rope to run it through the winch, windlass and tie it off to the cage, leaving about 56 feet of rope for a vertical fall below floor level of the room your in.

Do those calculations ring true?

Lothar Svensson said...

Judging from the "flight" of the beetle, I estimate the depth of the drop to be about 100 feet. Anyone else have more rope?

Engelhart Askjellson said...

That they do...

Since I'm assuming we can't illuminate the ground with our light-sources, that must mean were at a minimum distance of 30-35 feet from it, but from that point on we frame our conception on the 2 seconds elapsed until the beetle carcass hit the water, which leads one to believe that it cannot be much more than that.

Seems viable. We set about doing it.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Underlined disclaimer: I'm no physics major.

2 seconds for a 35-pound beetle carcass to plummet, counting the time it takes to gain momentum and all, might amount to a fair bit more than 56 feet, as Lothar puts it.

If we have any way to extend the rope without unduly compromising its overall integrity we should, of course, do so.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Assuming that Engelhart is musing aloud when he says, "I'm assuming we can't illuminate the ground with our light-sources," Bergthora with politely offer to make a suggestion.

[the party pays a lot of money for these followers; you deserve to get your money's worth]

Do you wish to hear it?

Lothar Svensson said...

Yes, please!

Alexis Smolensk said...

"We have Fjall's pot. We can build a fire in that, put it in the cage and lower the cage. That should illuminate the cave at least above the cage floor."

Embla Strand said...

"That's a fantastic idea! Thank you, Bergthora!" I set about preparing the necessary materials.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I don't want to be accused of running this party]

The sappers will get the rope set and tied off to the cage. The cage will need to be rolled off and the winch locked.

Pandred said...

I will assist in whichever of those two tasks seems heaviest to accomplish.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Pandred, you single-handedly push the cage off once the rope is in place. It swings out over the hole and quickly finds its equilibrium.

If you like, you can set up a fire in the pot, getting a better flame if you fix a torch to stand up in the middle. Petar and Willa will turn up with handfuls of wood.

Engelhart, I believe, means to turn the winch.

Pandred said...

All of that sounds good to me. When it's done, I'll begin pre-winching my crossbow once the winch starts turning and watch with my comrades.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

Down it goes, once everything is in place.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I'm pretty tired, so I'll go easy]

You lower the cage down, steadily revealing the space below as it lowers. Several party members bend to look down, until they feel enough vertigo to lay down to look.

The chamber you're standing on overhangs the cave quite a bit, as it is shaped like a bell jar with you on the very top of it. The sides draw away from the cage in every direction, so that you realize it would be impossible to climb down or up from your location.

The water begins to drip from the wall of the cave directly below you (the opposite wall is dry) about 20 feet down . . . but this flow is mere seeping at its highest point. It is only fifty feet below you that the seeping collects to a point where makes streams of water, just above the point where the firelight illuminates small cascades as thick as your fingers (very tiny looking from your vantage point).

The bottom of the cage obscures the light from illuminating the bottom of the cave, but as you leave it down there (advice from the sappers), the reflection off the walls helps to reveal what is below the cage.

About 80 to 90 feet down, you can see another platform. It is very dimly lit in the reflection, so you can see no details, but it is certainly made of rock. It is about the same size as the chamber than you're in.

About a ten feet below the lower platform, you can see that the bottom of the cave is covered in water. Whether it is moving or not, you cannot tell, but it does not seem like a single pond, since there are many places where bare rock is evident (though not noticeably higher than the water level - you may even be looking through very shallow water to see the rock). If the water is moving, it is doing so very slowly.

Your next move?

Pandred said...

So, as I'm understanding it, there is a landing 90-ish feet down, and below that is a collecting point for the water, which -might- not be deep.

Based on the above calculations, the cage is currently suspended about 55 feet below us, plus I assume however tall the cage is.

So there is approximately 30-35 feet between the cage and the platform below?

Do I have the visuals of this approximately correct?

Alexis Smolensk said...

yes, that will do. the cage is about 7 1/2 feet high, as shown on the image (5 ft. per hex).

Pandred said...

It was eighteen feet from barrow to bottom.

So, unless we collected that rope ladder earlier, we might be able to hang it from the cage bottom and get down. It'd be a drop of a few feet still, but, unless I'm doing maths wrong, not a bone-crushing drop.

The alternative of course, is to go get more rope from Stavanger and take a breather. I'm haven't the faintest of our current break load anyway.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

But how would we leave the barrow then? Or the lowermost platform?
Time to go get some more rope, it seems. I wish it didn't came to this but a hundred feet just isn't cutting it. It'll give time to recharge my spells and get us healed some; maybe buy some more healing salves.

Embla Strand said...

How much further can we lower the cage? Reading the description, it seemed as though we stopped the cage when we had a good idea as to the makeup of the lower area, not when the rope was fully deployed.

Standard rope has a 588lbs capacity. With a 130lbs cage, we could probably get one person on the cage each trip (leaving room for error).

Even if we do not *need* more rope, being out of rope seems a poor state of affairs. I support a resupply trip.

Alexis Smolensk said...

To get the 75 feet of rope you have right now, they had to pirate from the rope ladder. Figure: they started with 100 feet of rope. you couldn't have made a rope ladder 18 feet long with 25 feet of rope. So the sides of the rope ladder are right now holding up the cage.

The remaining 25 feet that was the rope ladder has been knotted to make a climbing rope out of the barrow, spiked at the top by Fjall. "Was that wrong?" he will ask. "I was just trying to do the best I could."


This is as far as the cage will lower.

The rope you're using, I stated before, has a 900 lb. breakweight capacity, based on its thickness (5/16ths of an inch). With it, you could easily get one person per trip; but you're still some 30-35 feet from the bottom. Falling damage is 6d6 for 30 feet.

Pandred said...

Whomever we elect to go-

If there are funds, It would be ideal to get a backup length of rope for the cage. It isn't likely, but in the event that something DID break, we could well be trapped down there, to say nothing of possibly needing more down the line anyway.

I'll be resting for this particular shopping trip though.

Embla Strand said...

I reassure Fjall - what was done is perfectly all right and appreciated.

I concur with Pandred's logic - more rope would be greatly appreciated, and it might also be nice to get enough rope to get the cage to reach the ground, without adding any additional complications.

While we're here, though, it might be good for someone to head down in the cage for a closer look of that lower platform - while we know it exists, it might be nice to have a better idea as to what lurks below.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

I don't know that we'll need a separate market post for what is essentially a purchase of 150' of rope.

Once we send the runner(s) with the donkey, I'm all for taking a more detailed look at what lies beneath, pointing the lanterns down from the cage's maximum point of descent.

Pandred said...

Ha, so I was concerned this rope would break the bank, but apparently it's cheap as dirt.

Hell, might even be cheaper.

17cp for 50 feet. So getting 200 feet of rope is 4sp, 4cp. Petty cash indeed.

Lothar has taken no damage that I'm aware of, so I'm voting that he run this trip back. If there's anything else we need, now's the time to mention it.

Lothar Svensson said...

I'm still down 2 HP from the fight with the beetles (ever so long ago, now...) but I'm up for the journey. I'll have to leave the donkey though. Give me a gold piece and I'll buy all the rope we'll ever need.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Better take them back to the camp first, Lothar.

Lothar Svensson said...

Right. Embla or Engelhart, want to take a ride down in the cage to satisfy your curiosity before we head back?

Embla Strand said...

Sure. I'll take a peek around. If Engelhardt would be so kind as to lift the cage that I might descend in it and use the lantern to get a closer look.

Alexis Smolensk said...

We'll assume that's done and Embla can climb aboard. I think we can move ahead on this post for the moment. If something happens, if Embla takes an unexpected action, we can move to a new post.

Embla, I will assume you have a bullseye lantern on you, so you can shine it around as you look down.

The water below is a pool that is slowly moving from one side of the chamber to the other. The whole bottom of the chamber is about forty feet across. You cannot see an inflow, but you can see an outflow to this water, a slot about four feet wide, with a roof that is about six INCHES above the water surface. The outflow is moving as slowly as the pool.

The pool is studded with rocks that rise above the surface of the water and is about six to seven inches deep. It appears very clear, so the actual depth may be an illusion - it might be twice or three times that. All around you, the walls are wet with seepage from the water table as it bisects the chamber.

The circular platform is very like the one above. It gives way to an apparent passageway, the first five feet of which you can see. In front of the passageway, on either side of the door, are 3-foot high pillars, about a foot in diameter, that stand next to the passageway entrance. Each has a stone, oval figurine, about a foot high and six inches in diameter, atop it. As the light plays upon these figurines, the shine that you see indicates they have been highly polished. You can see they are carved, but at this distance and in this light, you cannot make out any definite patterns.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I have a staff meeting I have to attend today. I'll be a few hours]

Embla Strand said...

All right. I'm happy to come up and wait until we get enough rope to go all the way down - there don't appear to be nasty things waiting for us.

Pandred said...

Soooooo... who wants to volunteer for that low-crawl through the waterway when we get back?


No? Drowning in a confined space in the pitch darkness not appealing?

Ok. Normal passage with nice architecture it is.

Lothar Svensson said...

I lead everybody back to camp then, eat an appropriate amount, then set off for town at first light. I'll have to bum a gold piece off of somebody, I'm still out since I spent my beetle money on weapons and a coat.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Good enough. Would you like to take someone with you?

Give me a few hours to sort myself out, then I'll deal with Lothar's round trip to Stavanger.

Lothar Svensson said...

I ought to be able to make the trek by myself, though if someone wants to come along I'll be happy to have company.

Embla Strand said...

I'll give you 20gp - would you pick up some food as well (fish would be great! And some oatmeal!)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Let's sum up.

You left camp around 9 am, set yourselves up by the barrow by 10, and I'll rule took three hours to plan, organize, fetch things and get as far into the dungeon as you did. That makes it 1 pm. The storm that was to the west skirts past and south of you, so that the skies are lightly cloudy as you emerge and go to find your camp. To find it, set up, and for Lothar to pack for his journey, we will call that 3 pm.

It will take Lothar 4.5 hours to make the journey, so it will still be light when he reaches Stavanger. If he is fine with it, Bergthora will come with him.

Valda is down 4 hit points from both the last beetle battle and the one with the root-creatures. She's feeling it and intends to take two days of rest. She offers to keep the campsite going tomorrow and the day after, if the party intends to go on adventuring. Fjall suggests that perhaps he should stay as well, in case Valda should have an accident or encounter a wild animal.

Engelhart Askjellson said...

All is fine by me. Waiting for Lothar to return that we may resume our spelunking.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Apparently, someone is waiting for something from me. Lothar, you encounter nothing on your way to Stavanger. Please begin to purchase those things you want. Please pay for a room for you and for Fjall. I am guessing you will want to return from Stavanger the next morning.

Let me know when you have your purchases and we'll move forward from there.

Lothar Svensson said...

Something seems amiss in the Brewer listings. A keg of ale is listed as weighing 32.64 lbs while the keg itself is listed at 20.38 lbs, which leaves 12.26 lbs for 42 pints of liquid. I hate to ask for something to be heavier, but it doesn't feel right to not play the logistics game fairly.

Also, the descriptions for "small beer, keg" and "stout, pint bottle" appear to be incorrect, both having in the description 63 gallons.

Lothar Svensson said...

Leaving aside the weight issue for a keg of beer (I'm sure Fjall and I can manage it between the two of us, we have plenty of rope after all) I've done the shopping. I picked up:

4 paper sacks of oatmeal - 14.12 lbs total
6 herring - 6 lbs total
9 oranges (cuz I like you folks) - 3.15 lbs total
1 keg of beer (5%), 42 pints - 32.64 lbs total (unless corrected)
6 50 ft sections of hemp rope, 300 feet total - 72 lbs total
2 sacks for carrying things - .16 lbs total

A record of the purchases may be found here: and on the "Shopping" tab on my character sheet.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Quite right on all those errors.

5.2 gallons of beer weighs 42.24 lbs. Making that correction, the full keg is 62.62 lb. I've made corrections to the descriptions. I'll update the Stavanger market now, so that next time the errors will be gone.

That's a lot of weight you're carrying. Do you have the capacity for an additional 157 lbs between you and Fjall? I thought you had decided not to take the donkey.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I suppose that Fjall could suggest that you hire his cousin Svaldifari as a porter . . . if you're willing to pay him 3 g.p. He hasn't any combat training but he's fairly strong.

Lothar Svensson said...

I can manage up to 83 lbs and still move (though not fight terribly well, -4 AP), subtracting 15 lbs from that for my clothes and empty pack means I can carry 68 lbs and have 1 AP left. Leaving 90 for Fjall to carry. I don't know how much he weighs, but 90 lbs for a 150 pound fellow with his strength is only -2 AP. Would he be willing to carry that much? It will probably take us a bit longer to get back, I realize.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Fjall is already carrying about 50 lbs, in armor, weapons, equipment, clothes, etc. He weighs about 170, so he can manage that; but if you're both moving at 1 AP, then it will take you five times as long to make the journey; about 22.5 hours. Remember, you've both been moving at 5 AP.

Lothar Svensson said...

More than a bit, I see. Okay.

Would I have been able to convince him to leave behind any of his kit? I left my armor and weapons at least at the camp, which may serve as an example? Whether or not he'd be willing to do that, sadly for the group the keg of beer will be a no-go.

Thinking out loud: Sans beer, the amount to carry back is 95.43 lbs. Distributed equitably between ourselves, if Fjall wants to bring all his kit with him, will mean we will be moving back at 3 AP each. If he doesn't bring but 15ish pounds of stuff with him (clothes), we can manage 4 AP each. Saving the money from not buying the beer, we can hire Fjall's cousin Svaldifari (which is a great name, by the way) and all move at 5 AP.

Okay, best move here seems to be leave the beer and hire Svaldifari, so I do that. But he doesn't get an orange.

Alexis Smolensk said...

If you slow to -2 AP, then it will take 7.5 hours all told. This will let Fjall carry an additional 66 lbs.

Lothar can climb up to 71 lbs. and receive -2 AP.

Then we can postulate that Fjall's big cousin is 210 lbs, with a 13 strength. He can master up to 153 lbs. and still be moving at -2.

Want to keep the beer?

Fjall did not leave his armor and weapons behind because there are beasties out here in the woods.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Well, let's say 143 over and above Svaldifari's basic kit.

Lothar Svensson said...

I've been operating on the assumption that the encumbrance table works in the other direction, that the number given is the max one may carry up to that AP penalty. For example, inputting 210 lbs and 13 Str gives on the table:

No penalty: up to 77 lbs
-1 AP: up to 115 lbs
-2 AP: up to 134 lbs
-3 AP: up to 154 lbs

The description given on the table is "Number indicated shows the maximum weight in pounds that can be carried without receiving a greater movement penalty." Your explanation above seems to indicate the number given is the minimum weight for that penalty, which seems at odds with the given description.

Using my interpretation, our working loads should be close to:

No penalty: Net (Gross)
Lothar: 22 (37)
Fjall: 8 (58)
Svalifari: 66 (77)
Total: 96 lbs

-1 AP
Lothar: 40 (55)
Fjall: 37 (87)
Svalifari: 104 (115)
Total: 181 lbs

Meaning, if we get the beer (158.05 lbs total), we should be all at -1 AP, and if we don't get the beer (95.43 lbs total) we'll be at full AP.


Lothar Svensson said...

I don't mean to be a stick in the mud, I'm just trying to wrap my brain around the ranges.

Also, I do want to keep the beer, though it'll be the cheaper small beer so we can pay Svaldifari to carry it for us.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I seriously worry about myself sometimes. You're right and I'm wrong [see? I do admit it]

Your calculations look accurate to me. It means you can make the journey back to camp in less than 6 hours.

Did you want to try to sell the remaining beetle glands?

Lothar Svensson said...

Yes, that's a good idea. I think we had 4 left over.

Alexis Smolensk said...

They are older than the last ones. Let's say you brought them along (there's nothing the party can do with them). I'll give you 2 g.p. apiece for them.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I'm unemployed now, so I'm going to start calling the games at 8 EST so I can work on projects at night. The staff meeting on Monday was to announce the shutdown of the restaurant and to give us one last week's separation pay]

Embla Strand said...

[Oh goodness, Alexis. I'm so sorry.]

Alexis Smolensk said...

Don't worry. I'll get another one.

Lothar Svensson said...

[Sorry to hear about your bad luck, being laid off is not fun, I know.]

Hokay, so with the extra gold from the glands (thanks for the reminder about those!), I've revised the shopping list. The burden shared between us (179.11 lbs) will mean we are at -1 AP.

Updated supplies:

6 sacks of oatmeal: 21.18 lbs
8 herring: 8 lbs
9 oranges: 3.15 lbs (if Svaldifari sticks around he can have one next trip)
1 keg of ale (42 pints): 62.62 lbs
7 sections of 50 ft rope: 84 lbs
2 sacks: 0.16 lbs

Embla's change is 2 silvers and 9 coppers.

I'll post a new image to my character blog as well.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.