Tuesday, January 20, 2015

PBeM: Chapter 3.5: The Squatters in Onyx: Part 2

In which the party uses caution and creativity to make up for a lack of "Thief Skills"...

Yamtwit/Frantiska

Yamtwit stares at the weasels for a bit, then notices his friends leaving. "It only lasts a few minutes..." he calls after them.

"You have no additional control over the beasts?" Frantiska asks.

Yamtwit just shakes his head in reply.

"They don't look like they will allow themselves to be slaughtered either." Frantiska sighs, "Donovan, can you incapacitate them in a more efficient manner? I would rather not leave predators behind us. Especially when they are likely to become hostile again in a matter of minutes..."

Donovan/Winona

Donovan tosses a bit of sand in the weasel's general direction and mutters some words. The two weasels, standing peacefully as they are, close their eyes and lay down to sleep.

"Come on..." Winona tucks her flind-bars back into her belt, picks up Ryesha in her arms, and stomps past the weasels and up the passage.

GM

The passage at the bottom of the pit slopes gently downward for a few feet before leveling off. The walls appear to be made of thick, black peat, slick with moisture, with occasional patches of harder stone. The floor is hard-packed, but muddy, with an inch of standing, stagnant water. The ceiling low, but not uncomfortably so, perhaps 6 feet high.

The broken body of the second weasel that Teldicia threw down here lies in the center of a seven-way intersection. The ceiling here is higher here, almost twelve feet, and a small overlook can be seen in the wall opposite you as you come in, about nine feet off the floor. Directly across from where you came into the intersection and directly below the overlook is a small passage, only about four feet high, with a raised oaken portcullis set into iron tracks in the walls. The mechanism for raising and lowering the portcullis, clearly visible, appears to be controlled from the overlook above.

To your immediate right as you enter the intersection is a 3-foot-tall iron-bound door. Ahead and right is a narrow passage, sloping sharply upward. Centered between the two right-hand passages is a third, as tall as the one you came through, wide enough for Hrud to walk comfortably and running strait for a long ways.

Two passages lead off to the left. The closest being of similar height, width, and straitness to the central right-passage. The second left passage is wide enough for two men to walk abreast, but shorter, only about four feet high, and slopes upward at a steep angle.

Hrud

Not sure where to go, Hrud tries to glean any information he can from the tracks by the passages.

GM

There are some bloody weasel body-prints in the soft walls, but the muddy water covering the floor makes it almost impossible to see any tracks on that surface. Judging by the smell, Hrud decides that the portcullised passage ahead is clearly the weasels' den. The metal-bound door on the right smells faintly of smoke.

Yamtwit/Frantiska

Frantiska finishes off the two sleeping weasels cleanly, using Sir Guy's Spoon to deliver sharp blows at the point where their spines meet their skulls. She retrieves her bow, slinging it over her shoulder, and proceeds up the hallways after Hrud and the others. Stopping at the intersection she asks, "Sister Winona, can you discern anything about these passages?"

Yamtwit whistles for Rast who comes to the edge of the pit and looks over, «Rast, keep watch up there, okay? We'll be back in a bit...» He then turns, smiling unconsciously on seeing the fully intact giant weasels, or really their pelts, then scurries after the others.

Hrud

Hrud crosses the chamber to where the overlook is and jumps, grabbing for the edge with one hand and using the hooked head of his hammer with the other, works himself up onto the ledge.

GM

As Hrud pulls himself up onto the ledge, he finds himself looking eye-to-eye with a very frightend-looking kobold. The small god-like creature is lying flat on the platform, clearly trying its best to avoid notice. Seeing Hrud's face crest the ledge, the kobold's eyes go wide and it begins belly-crawling backwards away from the huge barbarian.

Donovan

Smelling the smoke, Donovan turns and begins examining the iron-bound door. Looking at it closely with his heightend senses, pulling out a stiletto and carefully prodding it gently, and giving a light rap in the center and listening for any reverberations.

GM

The bottom edge of the door, from the floor to about 6 inches up, is scorched, blackened, and brittle. It looks like a good hit could break off the bottom 3-4 inches of the door easily. Despite the damage at the bottom, the door is otherwise in good shape and the hinges look sound. The door is not locked. Judging from the echoes, it seems like the area beyond the door is mostly vertical, with some fairly dense metal structure in the center.

Hrud

Hrud looms over the kobold, feeling almost sorry for him. "Iki banget ora adil. Nanging sampeyan nyoba kanggo matèni kita karo kéwan iku ora biso ditompo." he says, drawing his sword. "Aku bakal cepet." The barbarian attacks.

The first blow crushes the kobold's spine, the second bisects it from stem to stern. It doesn't even have time to scream.

Donovan/Winona/Ryesha

Donovan stands up, "Looks like this door has been burned, a good kick could probably smash away most of the bottom half. Sounds like the other side is probably the bottom of another pit, vertical shaft, with something big and metal in the middle." He points across the way, "Should we go check out the weasel-den, to make sure there are no more, then decide which way to go from there?"

Winona looks at the short passages and smaller door, "Exploring this place is going to require a lot of crawling..." Seeing Hrud let go of the ledge to swing at something, she make a 'hmmm' sound in her throat. "I vote we check all the areas that are big enough for us to swing our weapons and clear out as many kobolds as possible before sticking out heads into places where they can be easily speared."

Rye, settling down a bit after the weasel incident, pulls out a pair of knives and heads boldly into the sloping passage near Hrud's feet. Curling up and around to come out on the ledge. "Nothing else interesting this way," she says, waving down at where Hrud dropped.

"Okay, one less passage to worry about." Donovan says, "Rye, Yamtwit can you two do a quick scout of the other small ones?"

Lyra

Lyra looks around, concerned.  "They will have built their warrens so that they are at a tactical advantage."  Her mind went, briefly, to the decanter of endless water they'd found in the tower and their supply villagers with bows and arrows, then felt horrible for even considering the possibility.

Yamtwit

Yamtwit grumbles, "Mwense yon komèsanpa yon Ekstèminatè." He pulls out a club and points to the up-sloping passage on the left. "I'll take this one I guess..."

GM

A small trickle of water flows down the passage, which slopes up a short way then dead-ends at a large stone. Daylight can be seen around the edges of the stone and the flow of water is seeping beneath it. The stone has metal rings set into it, which are affixed to similar rings on the walls with iron spikes, preventing it from being rolled away from the outside.

Yamtwit

Yamtwit slides back down the passage. "This one looks like an exit," he says, then to Hrud, "Ana watu gedhe. Yen kita mindhah iku kita bisa metu."

Hrud

After looking around the overlook for anything interesting, Hrud climbs down to look at the rock Yamtwit spoke of. Hrud pulls the pins locking the stone in place and, hesitantly, opens it a little.

GM

There is a slight rush of water as the stone moves and then, through the widened crack between the stone and the wall you see daylight. Vines overhang the opening in a rather unnatural way, as if some deliberate attempt was made to conceal the rock. The opening appears to lead out onto the same hill that the dragon's head and neck were resting on, and you can see a bit of the thing's tail curling around the hillside off to the right as you look out. Just outside the opening is a small depression in the hill, filled with stagnant, dark-brown water. Like the vines, the depression looks like it was artificially made--perhaps to conceal tracks that might identify this back door to casual observers, or to conceal some other security mechanism.

Donovan

Donovan looks past Hrud at the opening to the outside. "Looks like a bolt-hole." He smiles wickedly, "Hey Lyra, did you bring any of those exploding runes? The walls are soft enough that we could probably plant the boards in them, then just bomb this passage if they try to escape via the back door..."

Lyra

Lyra nods, and looks around, doing some quick mental calculations involving blast radius and the apparent structural integrity of the warren.  "I thought they might come in handy."

Lyra shuffles through the stack of boards.  "It might be prudent to check the hillside for other concealed entrances.  I'm not sure collapsing a single tunnel will do much, but I think we actually have enough of these to bring down the entire hill, if we needed to.  Aside from the dragon parts, the construction is rather poorly reinforced."

Hrud

While the others fuss about over what to do, Hrud takes another quick look around the area, on the off-chance that they might have missed something interesting before. Finally, sheathing his sword and reclaiming his spear from Donovan, he begins to proceed down the (relatively) open central passage [the one that runs straight for a while], keeping an eye out for unusual track patterns that might indicate another trap.

Donovan

"Blowing up the hill sounds like a good start..." Winona grins. "Shall we just wait outside and kill anything that crawls out when the ground starts heaving?"

Donovan sighs and heads after Hrud. "They've been receiving tribute. It'd be a shame to destroy it. Let's find their treasure room before we collapse the place..."

Lyra

Lyra smiles and nods.  "An excellent point.  We should return what we can to the villagers."

GM

Hrud proceeds for about a hundred feet, bent over in half due to the low clearance. The smell of musk gets progressively worse as he proceeds. Then the passage opens up into a rounded chamber, littered with bones and fur. Three small giant-weasels, just slightly larger than their mundane brethren and covered with short, downy fur, lay sleeping, curled together in a ball. They start slightly and one opens an eye as the blue light from Hrud's hammer illuminates the den.

Hrud

Hrud glances around, doubting that he'd find much of interest, then leaves.

"Uwak cilik" he mentions to Yamtwit, as he returns, then heads down one of the other passages.

GM

Hrud heads down the tallest of the right-hand passages. The tunnel is relatively strait, diverting only occasionally to avoid harder places in the ground, sloping up for a few feet, then subtly downward for a long stretch. The tunnel bottoms out at a dark, stagnant pool, deep enough to reach mid-calf on the barbarian. On the other side of the pool, you see the tunnel begin to slope upwards again.

Hrud

Hrud pokes around in the water with his spear, waiting to see if any traps or creatures reveal themselves before continuing up the tunnel.

His spear comes out with a few leeches clinging to it. Hrud shakes the leeches from the spear, moves to one of the walls to cross the pool - stopping to check himself for (and remove) any leeches he may have picked up - and continuing up the passage.

GM

The pool is no less deep around the edges, but is not too far across. After the pool, the passage slopes up more sharply and bends to the right, ending at the bottom of another pit, this one complete with a mess of metal spikes set into the floor with most of a skeletal lizard-man impaled on them, looking severely gnawed-on.

Donovan/Winona

Donovan watches Hrud turn down the right-hand passage and then turns and looks at the left. "We should split up to cover more ground," he says. "It looks like this lower level was meant for keeping the weasels more than anything else. I wager we'll end up having to go through the burned door to reach anywhere interesting..." He checks his crossbow, then strikes out into the left-hand passage.

"Guess we're with you then," Winona says, falling into step behind Donovan, flail at the ready. "Come on Bunny."

GM

The left-hand passage runs flat for quite a ways, then bends sharply to the left, terminating at the bottom of yet another pit. In the light filtering down from above, Donovan spies a pile of recently dead kobolds and more heavily decayed lizard men crawling with large, hungry centipedes at the bottom of the long shaft.

Donovan/Winona/Ryesha

Ryesha looks at the dead kobolds and the centipedes and begins backing up the corridor. "Well, we're done here..." she squeaks.

Donovan nods, "Yeah, this is clearly the first pit we found." He turns and heads back to the intersection. "Looks like the conspicuously burned, and therefore probably fire-trapped, door is the way to go..."

Winona looks grim. "Great...", she says with a sarcastic eyeroll, "So who's going first?"

Yamtwit/Frantiska

Yamtwit shrugs, walks up to the small door, and pushes it open.

Frantiska kneels and levels an arrow at the door as it is opened, ready to fire at anything on the other side that moves.

GM

Behind the small door is a spiral, iron staircase with wide shallow treads, going up about forty feet to another door. Empty, iron torch-brackets stick out of the wall, three feet off the ground, every eighth step. The staircase has a fair amount of carbon and rust built up on it, as if it has been regularly exposed to high temperatures.

Yamtwit

Yamtwit raises an eyebrow, "Yeah....that's not threatening at all..." he mutters. "Whatever happened to that dwarf who said he was good with traps and stuff?" He tightens his grip on his club and walks forward, placing a foot gingerly on the first step. "Here goes..."

Yamtwit waits with his foot on the step for a long, tense moment, then cautiously walks up a few more steps. His movements are slow and laborious and his muscles are tensed, sure that something horrible is about to happen any minute and ready to leap down the stairs into the hopefully waiting arms of his compantions.

GM

Yamtwit reaches the seventh step up before he hears an unpleasant clicking noise. He throws himself backwards just as the front edge of the step collapses, followed by the rest of the steps, as they suddenly become a smooth ramp. As Yamtwit lands at the bottom of the staircase, on his ass but unharmed, two streams of thick black crude oil begin pouring down the slide from the top of the shaft. The door begins to slam shut, pulled by some kind of spring mechanism between the hinge and the frame...

Donovan/Winona

Donovan stands watching, fascinated by the first _real_ trap he's ever seen, muttering, "I don't like the look of that oil..."

Sister Winona, meanwhile, puts her shoulder into the door to hold it, then jams the metal shaft of her flind bars into the gap just below the hinge to wedge it open. Sister Rye, egged on by the whispers of her cloak, dashes in and grabs Yamtwit under the armpits. "Come on!" she says, trying to pull him up and back before something manages to ignite the stuff.

GM

As Winona jams the door open, there is a spark as the iron shaft of her weapon hits against rough flint shards that have been set into the door's frame. Luckily it does not hit the oil that has begun pooling at the bottom of the ramp-stairs.

Yamtwit/Frantiska

"Thanks ladies," Yamtwit says to the two Tyrran Sisters before stepping carefully back into the room and looking at the doorframe mechanism. "So, no fire...any guesses how it resets? Or how to get up an oil-slicked twisty-slide?"

Frantiska shoulders her bow and ducks through the door. "The torch brackets may help. For those of us tall enough to reach between them at least." She sticks her head back through the door and calls out for Hrud, not too loudly, "Guru barbar, Hrud.. Anda seorang pendaki yang terampil. Bisakah Anda bangun jalan ini dan mengikat dari tali untuk teman-teman kecil kita?" She then turns to Lyra and Donovan, "Any other ideas?"

Hrud

"Aku bisa pendaki. Ora ana wong duwe tali supaya mudhun nalika aku tekan ndhuwur?" Hrud replies, returning from his inspection of the reptilian corpse.

Yamtwit

Yamtwit pipes up, "Big guy says he ca climb up but he needs some rope."

Donovan

Donovan passes a rope to Hrud. "If he can string it along the torch brackets, that would make a pretty effective railing for the rest of us to hang onto."

Yamtwit

Yamtwit translates, "Donovan ngandika kanggo dasi tali kanggo tandha kurung senter kanggo adamêl ril a."

Hrud

Hrud nods as he takes the rope and inspects the ramp, turning back to the group he asks, "Apa kowe bisa kanggo nglindhungi kawula saking latu, mung ing kasus?"

Lyra

Lyra steps carefully up to the door, looking for exits and ignition mechanisms.  "Climbing will be slow going, even with rope.  It would be safer to either close the door and ignite it to burn off the oil before we go in, or bypass it entirely with a dimensional gateway."

Donovan/Winona

Winona looks at the doorframe again before replying to Lyra, "It looks like the thing was set up to make a person slide down the ramp, fall into the pooling oil here at the bottom, and then the slamming of the door would create sparks to set it off." She points to the flint set into the plates of the metal hinges. "We could all just walk out of here and shut the door if we wanted to burn it off."

"That could take hours," Donovan said. "And fire and smoke in enclosed spaces tends to make it hard to breath afterwards. Using one of Lyra's portals seems like a pretty good idea."

GM

Lyra's dimension door opens into a small room, somewhere inside the petrified dragon's lungs judging from the strange honeycombed, spongy appearance of the walls. A passage opens opposite the psionic doorway, obscured by an ornately-woven, wool rug, hanging over the opening--clearly not kobold work, and probably part of the "tribute" they've been receiving from the sheep farmers. A pile of weasel furs and woolen blankets makes a massive bed off to one side, and a trio of lizard-man skulls hang on the walls as crude trophies, giving this place the look of belonging to some kobold of importance, though it is currently vacant. Three knotted ropes hang from the curved 12-foot ceiling, somewhat incongruously, not low enough for a kobold to grab, even by jumping.