D&D 4E Shadowfell Keep: Six leg in the corner pocket

Into the Kruthik Lair

I knew it was going to be a weird night when everyone broke out the hoodies. That’s something you get when you play face to face (via webcam, but still)… Weird stuff can happen.

After some debate, we chose to explore the southern passage instead of seeing what lay behind the metal door. We had mapping to do, after all. The darkness swallowed our discussion. We voted to send Wenner ahead to explore. The vote was 3-1.

Wenner glared at us for a long moment, then melted into the darkness with such skill that he might have been snatched from the dungeon by some hellish force. “Would you take a look at this!” he called from some distance in front of us. I sparked a sun rod and we followed him down the hall.

There was a pit in the ground, surrounded by the shattered flagstone of a false floor. We leaned over the side — at the bottom was a six-legged lizard-like creature, not too unlike a basilisk. “Someone should go down there and search the creature,” said someone. All eyes were on Wenner. The halfling sighed heavily.

We tied a rope around Wenner and lowered him into the pit. The creature had been dead for weeks. A hand stuck from beneath its belly; Wenner shoved the swollen carcass over to reveal a goblin, likely dead at the same time as the lizard. The goblin had been running from the lizard, and both had fallen into the pit and died. The dead goblin wasn’t stone, though, so this couldn’t be a basilisk.

Bryn remembered the dented silver mirror in his pack, the one we’d gotten from the dragon bone excavation up above. If we did encounter any basilisks, maybe there’d be something we could do. Whatever we came up with, it would probably involve Wenner somehow. He’s just so _versatile_!

Wenner had some potions in his arms when we hauled him up. “Healing potions, I think,” he said. “Want one?” I shook my head. Lord Bahamut has promised to keep me safe if I keep him in my heart. Besides, Wenner likely needs them more.

We come to a room; low, narrow tunnels lead off in several places into the east wall. Someone small could likely crawl into one. Sheeoil peeks into the closest one and sees nothing but darkness, but he guesses a certain six legged lizard could have crawled from it.

Holding the sun rod high, I walk to the middle of the room. The floor cracks beneath me, then breaks, and I fall into a deep pit. I jump up and haul myself out.

“Well,” said Wenner. “Let’s do this.” We play the rope out carefully (the rope that was still tied to Wenner from the critter pit) as he crawls into the tunnel. It was too dark for even halfling eyes, so he reached out, trying to feel anything that might be a trap… or treasure. What DOES treasure feel like? Wenner risked striking a small light.

Staring right at him, just inches from his face, were the eyes and sharp, sharp teeth of a monster exactly like the one in the pit, except all too alive.

When Sheeoil heard Wenner’s surprised squeak, he pulled hard on the rope. Wenner popped out of the tunnel like a cork from a bottle. “See something?” asked Sheeoil. Wenner opened his mouth to speak but couldn’t make a sound. He could only point at the tunnel.

While the rest of us stood on either side of the tunnel entrance to take on whatever would come out, Wenner fled to the far side of the pit in which I’d fallen. “Oh, good plan!” I shouted. “When it lunges for you, it’ll get trapped and –”

Wenner smiled, then faded into the darkness. “Bad bait,” said Sheeoil.

The Kruthik Young tore from the hole, turned and saw Sheeoil. It swiped but missed. It was followed by a smaller Kruthik that also turned to attack the elf. It, too, missed.

Clearly, our kruthiks were a mutant six-legged variety.

Sheeoil kills the kruthik hatchling with the light of a sacred flame. I hit the young kruthik with a bolstering strike, leaving it wounded and marked. Wenner took a moment deciding not to continue exploring while the rest of the company took on the monsters. He ran up and stabbed the youngling with a sly flourish; the kruthik staggered, bloodied.

Angered, the kruthik turned to Wenner. My mark exploded, further wounding the creature. Another round of combat and it died. I pick the sun rod up and we go exploring a little further. As I stayed back a moment to shine the light in a dark corner, the others followed the southern passage as it bent toward the east.

A kruthik hatchling popped out of a tunnel and threatened the others. I, hearing nothing, sauntered casually up to the rest of the group. Seeing the hatchling, I rushed it and killed it with a single swing of Lifedrinker. Two more hatchlings arrive.

They die from single hits. They were dying so quickly that Sheeoil stepped back so that Bryn could try to crush one with his Staff of the War Mage. He swung and — missed. Missed?

Oh, look, all our stats have been reset to the default levels. We spent a couple minutes filling them back in.

Bryn actually _hit_! The hatchling died with a squish.

The passage widened into a room, too dark to see the other side. All we could see was a shadow… that moved, and leapt into the light. It was the largest kruthik we’d seen. Long, elongated spines ran along its back. The spines flared up as it sized us up. The kruthik shot quills from its spikes, but all of them missed.

Now it was our turn. Sheeoil seared it with sacred flame. Bryn pounded it with a magic missile. Two younglings crawl from the darkness — nicely gathered for a shot of my acid breath. I spit acid at them and it hits on each, but for only very minor damage. Wenner sliced a youngling with a sly flourish. Sheeoil missed with his sacred flame.

And then Bryn let loose with a thunder wave. Electricity coursed through the adult kruthik’s body. The magic slammed the kruthik back into the darkness; we heard a crash and then a high, piercing wail of pain from it, but it did not come back out of the darkness.

One of the younglings began to dash away; running after it, I crashed through the false floor into another pit. This one was a little too high to jump from. Now I knew how the adult kruthik felt. Wenner kindly used a positioning strike to knock one of the younglings into the pit with me.

Bad new for me, good news for Wenner. He was bloodied from the fight, and Sheeoil’s divine magics weren’t delivering the heals like they should.

After the rest of the company finished with the last youngling, they briefly discussed trying to pull me out, but I’m too heavy. Angry at being left, I manage to jump up high enough to pull myself out.

We find the adult kruthik lying wounded at the bottom of yet another pit trap. It glared up at us, trying desperately to not show how wounded it was. With both the youngling and adult kruthiks trapped, it was easy enough to kill them from safety.

Wenner found some rubble in the corner. He tried to hide a small chest in his pack, but it was too large to go unnoticed. He called us all to it and opened it — it was full of gold and gems. The local Temple of the Dragon Lords is going to get new altar cloth!

Spent from the battle with the kruthiks and the battle before it with the ochre jelly, we headed back to the metal door, thinking to keep an eye on it as we rest. We came around a pile of debris and saw…

SPLUG.

… just as we saw our murderous hobgoblin, he saw us, ran through the doorway and slammed the metal door behind him.

We spiked the door and settled down for a rest.

Seeing kruthiks die as they get knocked into pits? Priceless!

Two weeks until we meet again.

D&D 4E Shadowfell Keep: There’s always room for pudding!

It was a cursed night when we came across the Pudding…

Huh? No, a PUDDING!

Mmm closer, not quite there…

That’s it.

The Battle of the Pudding

It’s hard to get a restful sleep in a dungeon, especially when you just KNOW a murderous, stinking, backstabbing (literally) hobgoblin had all the time in the world to go through your things before he took off to undoubtedly lead some sort of hobgoblin insurgency against your humble company of naive adventurers who want only to map some old ruins…

Who at one pointed wanted only to map some old ruins, but now have a second goal. We will map the ruins… and kill Splug. Splug, the mastermind. Splug, who upon hearing us outside the torture chamber, quickly stripped to his breechclout and hid in a cell so we would trust him, embrace him as a refugee. Splug, whose halting command of the common tongue lulled us into complacency. Balgron the Fat? That was Splug, I’m sure of it. Karacel? Undoubtedly Splug. Lord Orcus of the Nether Regions? That would be our man Splug.

Splug Must Die.

Still, he did carry our packs for us. Wenner grumbled as he shouldered his load. I barely even noticed the weight of mine. I could have carried Wenner’s without noticing it. I could have carried Wenner without strain.

Not that I would.

We unspiked the door and headed down, down through Fatty Balgron’s room, down past the excavation, down to where Splug was last seen. There was another stair, but Splug hadn’t gone down that other stair.

You get to the bottom of the rickety old stairs and find yourself in a natural cave. The ceiling is thick with stalactites. The rocks and debris littering the ground grow thicker to the east and the west, with only narrow passages in those directions.

Bryn’s charcoal made angry squeaks on the parchment as the wizard mapped the room. Wenner sniffed the air; there was a musty scent to the room, no particular direction. Bryn summoned light to his staff. There are no tracks to be seen; the debris of rock fallen from the ceiling make tracking impossible.

That scent though… that scent was worrying. Wenner slid against the wall at the bottom of the stair, checked for traps — no traps. Bryn takes a closer look at the debris, and finds it isn’t natural to the cave, after all. It’s debris from above, possibly left behind when the keep was built.

There’s skittering from the debris piles; giant rats. We play cat and rat with them for awhile, occasionally getting lucky enough to stab/magic missile/burn one before it can disappear into the heaps of rubbish once more.

We probably killed ten rats all together.

We start moving toward the narrow east passageway. Bryn, Sheeoil and I start moving toward the narrow east passageway, while Wenner heads west.

To the northeast, we find nothing but an empty room with occasional rat. To the west, Wenner finds a corroded metal door, green with age. Words are scratched into the fungus.

Having reached a dead end in the northeast, we decide to join Wenner in the west. Two rats appear behind Wenner. Turning away from the door to meet the rats, Wenner doesn’t notice an enormous orange-red slime drip from the ceiling and reform silently in his footsteps. If the halfling had been wearing boots, he might not have even noticed the ochre jelly until he was swallowed up by it. Looking down, he gave a yelp and shifted out of the way. The jelly flowed swiftly in pursuit, swallowing one of the giant rats as it sniffed out tastier prey.

I’m running, passing too close to a debris pile hiding a rat, who bites and misses. I burn a standard action and take another move, climbing over a debris pile and ending up next to Wenner. Roaring, I leap into battle… but with what? What hurts jelly? Any adventurer knows you never CUT a jelly… that just makes TWO jellies. And poking it does nothing. Sword, halberd, javelins, useless. What’s left?

The holy symbol we found in the dig. Bahamut’s divine presence fills my heart. Faith is my weapon.

Bryn thunderwaves two rats and heads to join Wenner and me in the western passage. Sheeoil intends to join us, but a giant rat drops from the ceiling. Sheeoil swings at it with his morningstar… and misses. Sheeoil uses sacred flame against the rat — one hit would burn the rat to oblivion — and misses. Wenner shifts slightly more away, quite hurt.

Shouting a prayer to Bahamut, I summon divine strength and call upon radiant delirium, my daily. It hits. Divine wrath sears the surface of the jelly, but it folds itself over the wound and continues to attack. Bryn runs over the debris, just barely in range to fire an acid arrow at the jelly, which absorbs it without damage. The wizard uses an action point and fires a force orb at the jelly, which does damage.

Sheeoil and the rat face off for another round. The cleric is sorely needed at the pudding factory but cannot break free of the rat.

When my turn comes around once more, I have nothing — radiant delirium was my only non-melee attack. Wenner suggests throwing rocks at it. So I throw a rock at it. Hits, does minor damage. The jelly will not be killed by rocks. I lay hands on Wenner and take away some of his wounds.

Sheeoil tries to hit his rat and misses. Sheeoil uses his move action to shift away from the rat, then uses an action point to move and join the group. Wenner throws a rock at the jelly, epic miss. Bryn casts thunderwave on the ooze, it misses as well. I throw another rock, miss! But I mark it. Rat is coming for Sheeoil; Sheeoil ignores it and casts a beacon of hope on the jelly. It misses! Sheeoil uses his Elven Accuracy to try again, and this time it hits. Damage done to the jelly, and healing pulses out to the group.

Wenner steps back a space and easily dispatches Sheeoil’s rat.

The jelly splits in two.

We panic.

Bryn tries another thunderwave, which misses. He offers me his old quarterstaff; I waste no time pulling it from his back, turn, swing and strike at one of the jellies — a hit!

Sheeoil summons a healing strike on the jelly which hits and heals Bryn, leaving a floating mark above the creature.

It takes a few more rounds for both jellies to die; it’s the hardest fight we have had so far.

The words on the metal door are written in common: “Stay Out. Really.”

Wenner checks out the door and finds no traps. It isn’t even locked; it swings open to his touch. Sheeoil heals Wenner up, and we follow Bryn around the room, filling in the map. There’s only two ways out of this room — through the door, or down a passage leading to the south.

We creep silently south, come to a room and gasp as we see a ——-

We’ll find out Thursday night.

D&D 4E: Splug is the Hobgoblin of Little Minds, Part II

The Dig

You smelly backbiter, Splug.

Splug liked hanging back behind the party, and as someone who usually ranged well in front of the party, Wenner was fine with that. Sure, now that the party had Splug to push around, they’d stopped with the “toehair” jokes, but it still hurt.

“The Fat One!” said Splug as the Adventuring Company magically stitched their wounds when the battle was done. “The Fat One — he KNOWS things!”

“The Fat One… easier to stab,” muttered Wenner. The group had weapons bared and spells at the ready as Wenner led them behind the heavy curtains to the rooms behind. Aside from some rusted supplies and crates (duly smashed), the rooms were empty of anything valuable and anything that might fight back.

Splug became visibly agitated as the group neared the rearmost room, his already shaky command of the Common tongue deserting him. He could only point to the corner of the room cordoned by the same heavy drapes that featured so heavily throughout the Keep.

Tipa ripped aside the curtains. There was a bed — empty — behind them, and a chest — locked — against the wall. “Wenner?” hinted Tipa.

“On it,” sighed the thief. He checked for traps, found none, and deftly flicked open the lock. The chest held little of interest, save a wand in a carved box, and a sack filled with gold that silently vanished into the halfling’s shirt. “I think this is yours, Bryn,” said Wenner.

Bryn eagerly grabbed the wand and its box from Wenner’s hands. “I should think so,” said Bryn, as he used his arcane senses to pry loose the wand’s secrets. Evidently satisfied as to its magical puissance, he sheathed it in his belt.

Splug had stopped choking and managed to pull himself together. “Fat One always here! He never leave! Something — something WRONG!”

“Where could ‘Fat One’ have gone, Splug?” asked Sheeoil. Splug could only shrug.

Meanwhile, Wenner was checking the walls for secret doors — and found one, just next to the chest. “This is a door or I’m a dwarf,” said Wenner. “I can’t figure out how to open it, though.”

“I know how,” said Tipa. She bent slightly and rammed her scaled shoulder into the wall. It bent slightly from the blow. Was it some sort of metal?

“Gonna need some help with this,” said the dragonborn. Everyone gathered and ran at the bent section of wall; the door bent outward, then popped entirely off and fell, clattering, down some stairs on the other side.

It seemed inevitable that any creatures on the other side of the wall must have heard the commotion, but after a few moments silent waiting the group could hear nothing but regular clanking noises echoing through the corridors. Nevertheless, they walked as quietly as they could down the stairs.

The noises were coming from large room to the left; Wenner crept forward and saw a room with a destroyed floor; well beneath it, goblins were digging it even deeper. Piles of dirt and other rubble filled the corners. Two drakes were keeping guard. The noise was such that there was no way they could hear anything but the sound of their own digging.

“I can’t think of anything we need in that room,” said Bryn. “We should just continue further down the stair and…”

“NO!!!!” shouted Splug, frantic with panic. He pulled out a dagger he’d hidden away and cut the party’s bags off his back. “NO!!!!” Madness in the hobgoblin’s eyes, he plunged the dagger into Bryn’s back and disappeared down the stairs.

A pale aura sprung up around Bryn as he gasped in pain. “Awesome,” said the wizard through clenched teeth, “that stab triggered my shield!”

Sheeoil hurried over and eased Bryn’s pain with a spell, and handed Wenner the dagger once he’d removed it. Cold sweat dotted Bryn’s face as the cleric’s healing magics took effect.

“Stand up, Bryn,” growled Tipa. “You have a room to map.”

“I already mapped it!” said Bryn.

Wenner bounced into the room, jumping lightly from the raised floor to the excavation below. Tipa grunted and took off after the halfling with shield up and Lifedrinker in hand. Sheeoil and Bryn could only keep up as battle was joined.

Wenner’s first target was the ladder leaned against one of the floor fragments. He clambered quickly up and pushed the ladder to the ground below. Now the goblins were trapped in the dirt — the party held the high ground.

The two drakes started slithering up a ramp near the entrance. Tipa kept their interest on her with marks, spells and strikes while Sheeoil and Bryn let loose with the damage.

Meanwhile Wenner got into a tussle with the goblins, who kept replacing the ladder Wenner kept trying to toss down. Meanwhile the other goblins had unsheathed crossbows and were pelting the halfling with quick bolts. Wenner soon went down, heavily punctured. The goblins climbed up to the floor level and started hurling bolts at the party.

With Wenner already unconscious, Bryn let loose his Static Sphere spell, followed by a Sleep. The first did considerable damage; the second was largely resisted and only slowed some of them for a round. Meanwhile the drakes met their ends at the party’s hands and claws. Tipa sprinted across the dirt to replace the ladder and come to Wenner’s aid. Sheeoil ran around the edge of the room to where a plank had connected two floor fragments before a goblin had thrown it to the ground. He was nonetheless in range to bring Wenner back to consciousness.

With Wenner back in the fight, short work was made of the goblins.

In the aftermath, a search of the room turned up only a magical holy symbol of Bahamut — Tipa’s deity. She accepted it thankfully from the thief, and wondered how it had come to be beneath the room — and what was it the goblins had been digging for? A search of the room turned up no answers.

Needing a rest, the party returned to the first floor, spiked the door to a medium sized room, and slept the night.

Figured I’d better finish the transcript before Thursday’s group. I didn’t take notes this week, so the recap might not be 100% accurate. I’ll do better this week! Since we use always on voice chat, people can hear me typing up notes… and it gets distracting for everyone.

So, Splug… what’s up with Splug? I feel we could have made better use of him, found out why he was being tortured. Stabbing Bryn was a suicidal move; I can’t think of any reason why he’d do that. I really don’t think he means us any harm, but Bryn would probably disagree.

Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow, when we follow Splug down the stairs.

D&D 4E Shadowfell Keep: Splug is the hobgoblin of little minds. Part I.

Does this ring a bell?

“You all so good people, give all you hug many time,” whispered Splug to Wenner. The hobgoblin moved a little closer. The stench was overpowering to the halfling, and he’d been close to some heroic stenches in his day. “But you my favorite,” said Splug, “you hairy like me. Maybe hobgoblin and halfling cousin, yes?”

“I think not,” said Wenner, edging away. “Don’t you have some hobgobbling to do?”

“Oh, no, put hobgobbling behind, me. Adventurer now, kill bad guy, snick-snick! Save poor hobber, shivering in cell, scared sound from room mean torturer get ready to come for Splug! Adventurer save, adventurer good, adventurer still alive, hobbers and gobbers dead, no need be halfling to see which way fate turn, now me adventurer! Carry pack! I carry your pack!”

Splug, true to his word, yanked Wenner’s pack clear off him, then went and gathered the packs of the rest of the party where the other adventurers — dragonborn Tipa, wizard Bryn, and elvish healer Sheeoil — had dropped them while they fought the torturer and his minions. Splug staggered, but managed to stay upright.

The other members of the Adventure Company looked from Wenner to Splug and back again. “You’re cleaning the litter box,” grumbled Tipa as she finished wiping her sword and shield clean.

“Time to get mapping,” muttered Bryn impatiently. “Keep focused. Mapped eight rooms. Eight rooms. Seventy percent of dungeons take more area as they descend. Estimate twelve rooms next level. Must map.” Bryn’s fingers grabbed spasmodically at his charcoal and parchment. The pages were filled with carefully rendered floor plans, diagrams of each entryway, richly detailed drawings of floor decorations and dense, arcane script that writhed on the page.

With Splug taking the rear, the party left the cell area and went through the splintered door of the torture chamber to the entryway. Quick examination of the room to the west showed only goblinoid rations. Wenner stuffed some goblin jerky into the pack on Splug’s back. “You’ll wish you’d done the same,” said Wenner to the others as they turned away.

As the others further explored the entryway, Wenner hung back to destroy the crates. “It’s a tradition,” muttered Wenner. “What are we without tradition? See a crate, break a crate.” He joined the others in the outer room.

They were gathered at a thick door; it opened easily and silently to their touch. Beyond the door stretched a long corridor, lit here and there by dimly flickering torches that did more to blind than illuminate. Guttural yelling echoed down the hall, but from where, nobody could see.

Sheeoil stepped into the hall; his keen elvish eyesight told him only that the hall ended in a dimly lit room; he could see nothing more. Coming back, he asked Splug what was down the hall. Splug only shrugged. “Guard, me think. Many guard.”

“It’s Wenner time,” muttered Wenner. Back flat against the wall and alert for traps, he slid down the hallway, melting from shadow to shadow. The voices — goblins now, he was sure — got louder, but they didn’t sound as if they were aware of the adventuring party just around the corner.

The thief peeped around the corner at the end of the hall. Two goblin warriors were slapping crude playing cards on the table from hands clenched in dirty fists, yelling at each other at full volume, their faces only inches from one another. One stood up and slammed his fist against the other’s face; the second goblin replied in kind.

Wenner spied a bell on the table, clearly meant to call an alarm. Grab that, and … no alarm. With the two goblin warriors at blows, Wenner had this one chance. He snuck to the table, grabbed the bell, and … silence.

Two goblins were looking at the halfling, disbelief crinkling their expressions. The nearest dove at Wenner.

Wenner was already gone. He tore around the corner and down the hall at high speed.

“INCOMING!!!!!”

Tipa was already on her way; readying her sword even as she leaped over the halfling running the other way. Sheeoil had his mace out and was just steps behind Tipa. Bryn hung back as he settled into the arcane mindset from which he cast his deadly magics. Splug struggled to keep up.

Wenner slid to a stop and followed Tipa into the room. They found just one goblin warrior there; it died quickly. The other warrior could only have gone through one of the curtained doorways for help. Things were about to get real.

Tipa struggled to move the table in front of the hallway; with Wenner’s help, they got it to the hallway and tilted it over. Instant partial concealment. Tipa, Sheeoil, Bryn and Splug crouched behind the table. Wenner stayed in the room, against the wall, waiting for something to come through a door.

In came two goblin cutters. Wenner’s quick knifework left pink mist in the air where they’d stood.

“No halfling is going to take all the glory,” yelled Tipa, vaulting over the table.

The room filled with cutters and warriors. The room was too small to let Bryn cast his most powerful spells, so he settled for precision attacks against the strongest goblins. Sheeoil spent divine power freely, keeping Wenner and Tipa in the fight. Starting from opposite ends of the room, Wenner and Tipa slayed their way through goblin, meeting in the middle. Tipa, bloodied, wept blood in rivulets. Sweat streamed down Wenner’s face. They thought there could be no enemies left alive on the floor after that battle.

They were wrong, of course.

Part II tomorrow.