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 ...


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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

It's Called a Pillarbeast

The multi-legged beast curls into a ball and then unleashes a terrible fury ... rolling 4d6 ...

The party is shot through with 18 missiles which the creature releases from its body as a defensive attack.  The front line will get the worst of it, but everyone is vulnerable, including Willa.

Rob (partly protected by a knob in the tunnel wall), gets 2; Embla gets 5; Lothar gets 4; Mikael gets 3; and Engelhart and Willa both get 2.

Damn. Should have checked your armor classes before starting on this.

Rob.  I roll a natural 1 and a natural 20.  Since the missiles have nothing to do with one another, one simply shoots up at the ceiling and causes no harm, the other is re-rolled.  The follow up roll makes it double damage: I know it hits, so a total damage of 2.  Lucky druid.  The Armor spell takes the damage.

Embla.  I hit AC 10, AC 8, AC 7 (twice) and AC 6.  I suspect they all miss.  Please let me know.

Lothar.  I miss completely (twice), then hit AC 2 and AC 1.  Both of those last hit.  I cause 2 damage with the first attack, then 1 damage with the other.

Mikael.  I miss twice, then roll another natural 20.  The follow up roll makes it double damage.  Wow.  The mage takes 2 damage.  Wow.

Engelhart.  I miss with the first, then hit AC 1.  Take 3 damage.

Willa.  I miss with the first, then hit AC 9.  Let me know if that hits.

There's incredible luck for you.

No one is stunned, so please use the last image from the last post for your moves.


I haven't done this for a while.  Please update empty cells and correct wrong numbers/details.

Following the encounter, X.P. are awarded as follows:

In Which the Party Discovers They are not Alone

The party begins to slog their way through the caverns and chambers of this interminable network of tunnels and natural features, keeping their way by following the stone path that was smoothed by the trod of untold numbers of victims who made their way.  The stream turns away from your path, and in succession you climb and fall, climb and fall, losing all sense of direction, depth and time.  Eventually you learn to stop when you're tired, having little else to tell your senses that rest is needed.

Over time, you've begun to straggle on the journey.  This can't be helped.  The darkness means that often you can't see your companions, unless you shine a light on them; you're walking through a dream-like mix of shadow and yellow glow.  Often, you're following someone ahead who is naught but a silhouette in the lantern their carrying ... or you've fallen behind as you try to light a torch, or find something in a bag to nibble upon, or relieve yourselves.

If not for the path, the caverns would be treacherous.  There are pitfalls and razored stone that would tear the soles of your boots to ribbons.  There are rock falls that might collapse under your weight.  There are places where sheets of water drift down from the ceiling, ice cold, only to disappear in cracks and crevices in the rocks ... but the path avoids these hazards.

However ...

You're not excessively straggled out at the moment you come around a corner and discover yourselves face-to-face with a caterpillar.  Choosing two random people who happen to be at the front of the column at this moment, I find Engelhart and Rob.  Willa is behind, then Mikael, Lothar and Embla pulling the rear.

That's when you encounter this:

There's no need to roll surprise.  It is apparently just sitting there. It looks like a cross between a centipede and a caterpillar, with hundreds of fuzzy spikes running along its back (not exactly like the picture, we do the best we can).

After the party takes two rounds of movement, updating the image:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


The party marches along, slogging, getting their feet wet, appreciating that I'm not ready to fold hypothermia rules into a CLO system, yet nevertheless having a hard, unpleasant day.  From time to time, the cold is so harsh that you have to warm yourselves, slowing down your overall progress.

There are beasts swimming in the stream.  Twice, Embla has seen an eel, apparently, upwards of six feet long ... but so far, the creatures seem content to leave you alone.

As well, Lothar finds a "squeeze" ... a hole in a cave where it would be necessary to strip down in order to crawl through.  These can be dangerous; a caver can get their body through, then find they can bend themselves to get back, trapping them on the other side ... or even getting stuck in the squeeze.  As a caver, this is very unlikely for Lothar to do, as he has come to know his body's limitations. But an amateur in a squeeze can get into trouble.

The squeeze looks natural; something that has resulted from the cavern, not put here by the froglings.

I'll find out Lothar's reaction before continuing.

The Water Table

A scouting adventure does not reveal very much, except that the tunnels become more rough-hewn and dark.  Soon after the throne room, there is another descent, this of about a hundred and fifty feet, mostly through spirally stairwells and switchback ledges, much like you saw earlier.  There are few places where a fall would be more than twenty feet, however; the way has been cut down through the rock, and does not stop until you reach the water table of the giant cave, where the waterfall had to be fixed with planks.

The difficulty can't ever be too much.  From the images, prisoners in bondage had to make these passages and be kept alive until they could be hurled from the cliff.

A few hours gets you to the water table, and a bit beyond.  There's a slow, gurgling stream, a foot or so deep, cold as blazes, about twenty feet wide.  And from what you can see, the passage switches back and forth across this stream, often with a ceiling no higher than 7 or 8 feet, so that there's no way to avoid getting your feet wet.

It must have been miserable for the prisoners, but presumably the froglings would not have minded the water.

The Throne Room

It is a six-hour journey for the party to retrace the steps that Embla and Lothar took to find the throne room ... and arriving there, the party leaves behind the cavern they've been next to for days now.  This cavern climbs and narrows, until the party moves through an excavated hole in the cavern's end (at least, the natural end in this corner of the unknown overall space.

I have given something of a description before.  The walls are covered, Egyptian-like, with an ongoing story of driving humans through tunnels and down vertical shafts, until reaching a cliff, where apparently they are thrown off.  The images are disturbing, with many carvings of humans falling along the journey, being whipped by froglings, or beaten, or dragged like animals, or put in cages which themselves are dragged along.  There are images of humans who have apparently died or been killed, being feasted on by froglings.  The images are mostly three to four feet high, in panels that circle the throne room, in four circles that are stacked progressively up the walls.  Apparently, the driving of victims to the bottom of the dungeon was a large part of the frogling's lives, and apparently they received a great deal of satisfaction in doing it and in depicting it to their own glory.  The walls are most unpleasant to view.

Mikael will probably ready his comprehend languages spell; normally, I should get a cue from him, but with the blog-format we can just go there.  There is not as much to learn from the panels as might be desired.  Repeatedly, however, he gets two pieces of knowledge.

The first is that there are many references to "the great mother."  Depictions next to the words on many places suggest that the great mother was more of a toad than a frog, at least three times taller than a frogling (which may mean importance rather than physical size, or even both).  The mother apparently gave birth to the frogling race.  The words and inflections speak very respectfully, even lovingly, of the mother.

The second is a reference to "the mother's sin" and the "repayment for the sin."  This seems to have something to do with the ritual killing.  There are words associated with this that describe an underworld, and "the ponds of heroes," and finally, "the tribute takers."  This is not as clear as one might like.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

United in the Subterranean

[To begin, I've been to the doctor and I'm fine; no cracked bones or any problems, I'm just suffering from a big ol' bloated foot, which should shrink down in the next few days.  I'm at work, talked to my boss about it, and I'm off work until Monday]

I think it is best to just bring the whole party together at the place where they were left on the ledge.  I rolled a die last night for a wandering monster and got a 4, so you're off the hook on that account (and me too, as it would be hard to run with that today].  Please assume that you've shared all information between each other, so that the people below know what's happened with the people above and vice versa.

As far as agenda, I leave that up to you.  The bridge planks have been laid down, and your gear and stuff is still being partly carried by the hirelings and the porters.  Let me know what you'd like to discuss and what you'd like to do next and we can progress from there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


The three souls wait in the dark, squeezing out the last light they have and reserving it, wondering what happens if the party that's left doesn't get back.

After a day, Lothar wakes on his side.  About twenty inches from his gaze, as he opens his eyes, he sees a thin blue flame rising about an inch above the surface of the stone, slowly dancing in place.  It is no more than three inches high.

Half the Party Returns to the Surface

As the party returns to the surface, eating the 6 lbs. they have with them, the three people left below will be on quarter rations for two days. This will not be sufficient to seriously hurt them, but it will reduce their stats each by an additional 10%.  Obviously, the party returning will not want to wait any excessive period of time.

You might consider having Valda and Willa bring back even more supplies, since they only have to make the trip one way, once you fully provision yourselves.

The journey back is without incident.  I've rolled a wandering monster encounter (because there are ticks and things in the tunnels, but you don't meet anything).

I will need a d20 roll from Engelhart, Embla and Rob.

To calculate the distance that can be covered in one day, subtract the numbers under the columns, "fewer miles ..." from the base distance travelled.  Roads ignore subtractions associated with vegetation.  Vegetation is assumed to be off road.  Both roads and vegetation are cumulative with subtractions under "elevation change."

Elevation change depends on the general nature of the slope.  Hills can be walked over; scattered peaks are marked by areas that require scrambling, where the character must use hands occasionally when moving overland.  Dense peaks are marked by actual rock climbing, where sufficient areas require both hands and feet to overcome obstacles.

Thus, a group of adventurers moving with 3 AP start with a base movement rate of 20.  They enter a subterranean dungeon, equivalent to "path & woodland," and have that movement rate cut by 8 miles.  They then descend a distance of 350 feet throughout the day, and have that movement rate cut further by 5 miles.

Result, the party is able to travel through the subterranean at a speed of 7 miles per day.