Saturday, September 6, 2014

WH7 The Fountain of Life

My experiments continue. Only two players of the regular group could make it this weekend. So I've decided to include another adventure into the current UK2 The Sentinel module. The adventure is called Fountain of Life and was originally published in the RPG magazine "Tortured Souls". I am using the German translation that appeared in ZauberZeit #8.

Note: Still using the complete PHB and the D&D Basic for DMs V0.1.

Cast of Characters:
  • Grandor, male mountain dwarf cleric (acolyte)
  • Orell Underhill, male stout halfling rogue (spy)
After helping Khelben and company to investigate the standing stones Dancing Dew Maidens, Grandor is sent south to Wolfsdale to find out if Mab, Bruenor and Orell need help in dealing with the troubles at Wolfsdale. After a week of uneventful travelling, Grandor arrives at the village. He is pointed to the inn where Mab and Orell are staying. Mab introduces Grandor to Orell and tells him that Bruenor has taken their drow "prisoner" to Lakehaven to a magistrate located there to get her official papers.

Orell and Grandor go around shopping a bit, but the stores don't really have what they require. Then they see a young man, a blacksmith coming into town carrying a dead man in his arms. The blacksmith is called Travultar and the dead young man is Pugnam. He was bitten to death and a javelin was found at his side. Grandor recognizes the javelin as lizardfolk-made. Also, the bite marks point in the same direction.

Papa Kursk, the village elder, suggests that Grandor and Orell could ask a friendly young lizardman called Tsziktezz for aid in tracking down the lizardmen responsible. Tsiktezz lives in a small valley at the edge of the Mountains of Mist (yeah... I was very Tolkien inspired back in my youth when I came up with names). Papa Kursk tells them that Tsziktezz lives at the Fountain of Life. Grandor and Orell decide to accept the mission in return for a modest payment of 25 gold pieces.

Before leaving the village of Wolfsdale, Orell shows Grandor the strange inscription in blood that they found earlier. Grandor is able to translate the draconic writing. It seems to be a rather mysterious plea for aid, warning of a great evil stirring.

As they prepare to finally leave for the half-day journey to the Fountain of Life, Travultar approaches them and tells them about his brother Trackak. He went missing some three weeks ago. He wears a necklace made of crystals similar to the one Travular wears on his dark haired chest. If they can return his brother alive, he promises them 200 gold pieces. If they can return the crystal necklace to him as proof of his brother's death, he'll still award them 100 gold pieces.

After half a day of travelling into the mountains, Grandor and Orell reach the temple of the Fountain of Life. As they enter the seemingly abandoned caves, they disturb a swarm of bats. After chasing them off, they proceed deeper into the caves. They don't find much of value, and turn back as they encounter a stone guardian on a bridge. Then, Grandor decides to cast locate object in order to find the necklace (good thinking on part of the player). That leads them back to a T-junction covered with wooden planks. As the halfling and the dwarf stand together on the planks, they break through into a watery hole. The oil lamp of Ordell is extinguished as it plunges into the water. Suddenly, only Grandor is able to see anything. They are in 5 feet deep water (pity that dwarfs and halflings are less than 5 feet tall...). Grandor feels that the necklace is near. He dives into the water and retrieves it, while being attacked by a poisonous water snake that has taken up residence in a skeleton. Grandor defeats the snake, then emerges from the water again. He dives back down to retrieve his shield and Orell's lamp. Then he guides the halfling to the eastern ladder. They climb up. But just as Orell reaches the top of the ladder, it basically disintegrates below him and dwarf and halfling fall back into the cold water. They finally get out of the pit by climbing the western ladder. Only real problem: the collapsed T-junction blocks them from the exit of the caves...

They approach the stone guardian. It asks them what they want. They reply that they want to see Tsziktezz. The guardian steps aside and lets them pass. Behind the room with the guardian, stairs lead down to another level of the abandoned temple.

On the second level, they enter a dining room. A loud gong sounds. Food appears on the table and two goblins run out of an adjacent room. The party parleys (that's sensible little folk for you). The goblins want some money, then tell them that they don't know anything about Tsziktezz and let them continue exploring the temple in peace.

In the next room Grandor and Orell find Tsziktezz waiting for them on a marble throne on a platform across water. They talk a bit. He isn't really interested in helping them, but allows them to visit the Fountain of Life. The halfling and the dwarf take him up on the offer.

While investigating the alleged healing properties of the fountain (water gushing out of a solidly golden lizard head), first Orell and then Grandor is sucked into an underground river. Both quickly lose their senses and start drowning...

Both of them awaken at the banks of a small brook, where they have been deposited by the river. It is dark and they decide to take a long rest (being both at 1 hp). On the next morning, they try to find the Temple of the Fountain again, but become hopelessly lost in the mountains. They make camp in the mountains and on the next day walk down into the Weathered Heath again, arriving at the mines of Wolfsdale in the evening. After sleeping at the mining outpost, they are pointed back to the village.

Since Orell lost his equipment in the temple, including a valuable healing potion, they decide to go back to reclaim the equipment. Also they want to talk to Tsziktezz again and get him to help the villagers. But before they leave again, Grandor takes the crystal necklace to Travultar. He is dismayed at the death of his brother, but pays them 100 gold pieces as promised. Orell uses the money to buy some gear.  Grandor meanwhile wonders how Travultar's brother ended up dead in the temple. Something else to talk with Tsziktezz about.

On their way back, they meet a monk called Urquant from the Order of the Grey Cowl. He asks them for help. He was visiting the hermitage of a fellow member of his order, but on arriving he found the brother hanged in a tree and was attacked by two gargoyles. He fled into the wilderness and now seeks help to reclaim the treatises on philosophy the hermit was writing. Orell and Grandor promise to help. In return they may keep all the valuables except the books.

The three make camp. The next day, Grandor changes his line-up of spells and together with Orell comes up with a plan for attacking the gargoyles. First they approach the cave, then Grandor fires a guiding bolt at one gargoyle. Orell shoots that one with a bolt from his crossbow. Then the gargoyles are upon them. Grandor summons a spiritual hammer, then swallows the moonstone containing the blessing of Elissar (god of dreams, wolves and hope). The moonstone dissolves into a salty liquid and the two are blessed. Orell valiantly continues to attack the Gargoyles. Grandor uses all the healing power at his disposal to keep the fight going. Then Orell goes down, Urquant recues him and gives him a healing potion. Meanwhile Grandor falls under the attacks of the last gargoyle. But Orell gets up, and swings on the branches of a tree until he can fall from above on the gargoyle. He finishes it off! The day is saved, The group retreats into the woods around the hermitage and takes a good long rest.

On the next day, the trio investigates the devastated hermitage in the cave. Orell and Grandor find the treasure of the gargoyles and Urquant true to his word allows them to keep it. The actual library is guarded by witherweed. But Grandor manages to find a way around the choking plants. Inside the library, Urquant takes the eight books on philosophy written by the dead hermit into his possession, but allows Orell and Grandor to keep a curious blue book that isn't part of the collection.

Grandor studies the book. Apparently, it's the lineage and chronicle of the Arthog family. The head of the family was responsible for guarding a mountain fortress called Adlerweg. When the last guardian returned from Adlerweg, he brought a curious magic item with him that is called The Sentinel in the text, but isn't described at all. Then the family line faltered with Henryk von Arthog who squandered the family fortune and had to abandon the lakeside villa inhabited by his family. Maybe that's the same lakeside villa that Mab, Bruenor, Chasna and Orell heard about some days ago at the half-orc camp.

Anyway, Orell and Grandor split from Urquant who is really grateful for their help and continue on to the Temple of the Fountain. There, they cleverly use a rope and grabbling hook to bridge the T-junction and talk to Tsziktezz again. Still, the young lizardman isn't moved by the plight of the villagers. But as it turns out, he knows about the goblins in the temple who apparently work as guards for him. Also, he set up the stone guardian on the first level. But unable to get to the bottom of the story, Grandor and Orell leave and return to Wolfsdale,

To be continued...

Friday, September 5, 2014

TJ5 Sometimes Even a Dragon Requires Help... Part 1

My experiment in using modules for older D&D versions continues. This time an adventure module from the old German RPG magazine ZauberZeit #2 (Auch ein Drache braucht mal Hilfe). I've DMed this adventure several times already, once with the D&D Rules Cyclopedia and twice with Tunnels & Trolls.

Notes: The full Player's Handbook is used together with monsters from D&D Basic for DMs V0.1.

Cast of Characters:
  • Aethelric, male half-elf warlock (criminal/spy)
  • Bangrimm, male hill dwarf cleric (acolyte)
  • Bjarne, male human fighter (soldier)
On his travels from Rakurstada to Knuivigi, Bangrimm meets two other adventurers: Aethelric and Bjarne. Together they continue their travels to find safety in numbers this close to the Weathered Heath. In the evening, they arrive at Knuivigi and decide to rest at the Dancing Boar Inn. The locals tell them about a sighting of five dragons near the ruins of Castle Raven's Aerie. The next day, the three adventurers leave for the castle.

As they arrive at the castle, they don't see or hear anything out of the ordinary. Just a ruined castle standing seemingly abandoned on the Weathered Heath. Cautiously they investigate first the outer, then the inner courtyard. As Bjarne moves into the inner courtyard, he is attacked by a vicious brown bear and heavily wounded. During the battle, Aethelric discovers a sleeping green dragon resting in the adjacent courtyard.

After defeating the black bear, the three try to leave before the green dragon notices them. But they are unsuccessful. Aethelric withdraws into the outer courtyard, but Bangrimm and Bjarne are detained by the green dragon. Reluctantly Aethelric moves back in. The dragon explains that he needs heroes to investigate a crypt. He is too big to fit inside, and the first party he sent in failed to return. The green dragon is looking for the Scepter of Yragael, a warlord who lies buried in the crypt. He points them to three healing potions and then herds them down into the crypt. Besides the entrance to the crypt, a temple to Celos, god of the sun and wisdom, sits in the smaller courtyard and adjacent to it lies a small graveyard.

The adventurers enter the crypt cautiously. The find a big entrance hall, where three doors lead deeper into the crypt. Each door guarded by two skeletons. After a short discussion, Aethelric attacks one skeleton with an eldritch blast. All six skeletons start moving and attacking the adventurers. A pitched battled ensues. The tide only starts to turn when Bjarne goes from a purely defensive stance to the offense.

After the battle the group investigates the door to the left and find an old chest containing two jewels. Aethelric investigates one wall and finds two indentions. They put the jewels there and find a hidden room. There, they are attacked by two giant centipedes. After defeating them, they find some more treasures.

Then they listen at the door to the right and hear squabbling squeaky voices. Entering the room, they see eight kobolds engaged in a heated discussion. Another battle is quickly finished, when Aethelric casts shatter in to the room. They find nothing of value and decide to take a short rest before proceeding into the dungeon.

As they continue their explorations, Aethelric discovers a suit of armor that animates as he tries to retreat. As reward for defeating the animated armor, Bjarne takes the jeweled greatsword that the armor was wielding.

Then they arrive at a staircase that leads down into the lower levels and a big double door that leads into a further room. There they discover a strange dimensional door that deposits them right outside the courtyard again. The green dragon ushers them down into the crypt again, as they tell him that they don't have the scepter yet.

The staircase down to the next level is filled with cobwebs. They proceed through the cobwebs and reach a room with a fountain. The fountain bears a small inscription: "Drink and forget all your sorrows forever." Somehow the party doesn't want to be relieved of all their sorrows and continues onward.

Bangrimm falls into a trap where he's attacked by a giant poisonous snake. Aethelric prevents the trapdoor from closing, and Bjarne rescues Bangrimm from the snake. His dwarven resistance to poison definitely helps him survive the attack. While in the pit, he has spied two scroll cases stuck in a skeleton, but didn't manage to grab them.

The group presses on into a large room where a bronze double door leads onwards. First, the decide to take another short rest. Then they try to pry the door open. It is stuck, and won't move. Aethelric has an idea: they use torches to heat the metal and then cool it rapidly with water from the fountain, thus turning the bronze brittle. After that they successfully force the door open.

Behind the door, a corridor filled with spider webs stretches into the dark. They decide to be more careful this time and burn down the webs. Out of the burning corridor they are attacked by two burning giant spiders.

After defeating the spiders, they decide to take a long rest.

To be continued...