Tuesday, 30 July 2019

THE LOST CITY PART 4

This post will be less narrative and more prosaic, for the sake of expediency! The last update for the Crystal Seas campaign took nearly two weeks to complete, and covered two sessions where virtually nothing happened.

Actual play adapted from module B4: The Lost City. Will contain spoilers.
Lost in the desert, four foreigners (Luke, Kostas, Romulus and Xavi) arrived at the mysterious city of Cynidicea, and have secured an alliance between two warring factions. However, during a recce of the lower levels, the party were intercepted by cultists loyal to Zargon: the most powerful faction in the pyramid... read part three here
Separated from his comrades, Luke ran into a chamber, awakening a nest of giant rats....

...he threw his torch into the centre of the room, alerting his pursuers and ensuring the majority of the rats in turn pursued them. He attempted to sneak out of the room undetected by the remaining rats, and failed. Fortunately the rats were unable to penetrate his chain mail.

Ducking out of the chamber, the holy knight was shocked to witness a huge, almost perfectly spherical boulder tumbling down the corridor towards him, and he managed to duck back into the rats nest in the nick of time. The rats managed to inflict a minor wound on him, but he refused to engage them: instead, once the boulder had rolled past, he exited the chamber and slammed the door behind him.

Creeping back the way he had come Luke caught sight of Zargon's henchmen battling a gang of six or more gian rats. Wisely, he decided to try his luck elsewhere, hoping that his men had escaped unharmed.

After following a lengthy passageway to a dead-end, Luke suspiciously sought any secret openings, finding a familiar loose brick in the wall, and opening into a chamber of multiple skeletons. All were inanimate, many had crumbled to dust, some exhibited signs of having been interred with some care long, long ago.

Listening at the single door opposite, Luke heard voices on the other side: men and women, speaking in the old tongue. Arms raised in contrition, Luke expressed his intentions to the curious group of four men and two women, each one wearing a vulture mask, and all with their skin painted entirely black. They explained that they had a job to do in the pyramid. Some were carrying pieces of wood. All were carrying carpentry tools.

The vulture men agreed to help him out, and led him to the end of a corridor, now blocked by a huge boulder. Luke persuaded a few of the vultures to help him excavate a way through, and after twenty minutes they had dug out a thoroughfare big enough to crawl through.

On the way back to where he had come from Luke saw a trail of blood leading from the rats' room to the site of the earlier battle: none of Zargon's men remained, but a single bronze shortsword had been abandoned on the ground. He left it there and, followed by the vultures, made his way back up the ramp.

As they entered the desecrated chapel on the higher tier, Luke was startled by an enormous tiger beetle. The creature was immediately aggressive, and seemingly unmoved by Ser Luke's attempts to subdue it, the creature managed to successfully floor one of the vulture men and begin eating him alive. The terrified vulture people ran back to the lower level: Luke said a prayer for the unfortunate man, crept past the beetle and made his way back to the barracks.

Kostas, Romulus and Xavi were all safe and well and seemingly getting ready for lunch. Luke was relieved, but a little troubled they had not come for him. They had a quick discussion about their plan of action, including sending Xavi on the water collection detail tomorrow morning, in order to garner further intelligence about the followers of Usamigaras.

After lunch they agreed to do more exploring. They found a dead hobgoblin in an old chamber adjoining the treasury, and stole his coins. After attempting to loot an old storeroom, they emerged empty-handed, their only reward a giant centipede, which they promptly smashed to bits.

The next chamber proved more interesting. Twelve miniature elves, each barely thirty centimetres in height but perfectly proportioned and with diaphanous wings, flitted about gaily. They laughed when the men entered, and engaged in a chat. Their callous disinterest induced anger in Kostas, who swung his sword, only to see it reduced to a pile of rust.

Luke entreated them, even encouraging Romulus and Xavi to sing for them (though the songs were terrible), but before they left they agreed to replace the sword and offer some advice:

"Look to the stars."

With that, they vanished, and instead of a replacement sword for Kostas, the party found a scroll of blessing. Pilfering the crates the sprites had been hovering around, the party retrieved an impressive haul of fireworks.

The final unexplored room was covered with a thin layer of green slime, which dissolved the tip of Luke's sandals. They retreated, leaving the door wide open....

Back at barracks, they stashed away the fireworks and some of their treasure, and gave themselves a new mission: find a sword for Konstantinos. Luke recalled having seen one in the hallway on the lower level, so once again they got ready for a minor expedition.

Just before the foot of the stairs, the stumbled upon a party of seven gnomes who had discovered the pyramid from underneath. They discussed their opinion of the city, and stated that they would be able to guide the party back to civilisation, but not until the end of their expedition. They described the underground city as being vast, but somewhat depopulated, and those inhabitants that remained as being mentally unsound.

The groups decided to join together to perform a spot of tomb raiding. First up was a previously looted tomb of a noble lady. There was no treasure to be had, but the nearby tomb of whoever may have been her husband proved very lucrative. That is, once they had dispatched the carrion crawler that was lurking inside. The beast paralyse three gnomes and hapless young Romulus before succumbing to a flurry of blows.

While the invalids recovered, their comrades set about prising away a very satisfying haul of gems from the surface of an ancient coffin. About an hour passed.

Moving on, the group were reluctant to investigate a chamber behind which they could hear the faintest shuffling of feet. Instead, they found an ornate ivory coffin: it was empty. The frieze on he walls at first seemed to depict the coronation of a queen, but it later became evident that this was only half the story, and the real story in this tomb concerned her servants. Perhaps this was once the tomb of an important lady-in-waiting?

Luke recognised the door of the next chamber: it was hear he had stumbled upon the vulture-people after emerging from the chamber of bones. He had not been inside yet, and listening at the door revealed only silence. The huge chamber contained half a dozen stone tables, but no seats. The dim torchlight revealed nothing more at first glance, but somehow Luke saw a shadow moving that apparently wasn't there...

The shadow materialised in front of him. He felt a chill touch run through his body, and his very strength felt as though it had been drained. Suddenly, more shadows began to appear: Xavi let out a cry of pain as the blood in his veins appeared to run black. Kostas' shortsword swung out in defence, but passed straight through the apparitions. Then one of the gnomes dropped to the floor, dead:

"Boldo!" came the anguished yell of the gnome leader as he watched his comrade collapse to the floor, and so his party of gnomes began vainly swinging their mining tools through the shades. Luke ordered a retreat, ignoring the gnomes' accusations of cowardice. The party fled to where the gnomes had told them was a trapdoor down to the next tier: Luke held the hatch open as his party clambered down a makeshift ladder. Before he closed the lid, he saw the gnomes sprint around the corner, pursued by the shadows: he held the trapdoor open long enough for them to join him, before slamming it shut.

In a featureless square room, the gnomes and foreigners equally chilled by their encounter, they waited in silence, unsure of what was going on above them.

Continued in part five...

Treasure recovered and monsters defeated so far...

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