AD&D - New World

65.1: Bertram Seeks Restitution
bertram goes for gold

You have entered Erelhei-Cinlu, the dreaded city of the drow. It rests in a vast underground dome called the vault of the drow and it is a wretched hive of danger and evil.

The streets are narrow and packed with all kinds of terrible villains: drow, bugbears, dastardly trolls, kuo-toa, even the occasional mind-flayer. You glimpse sights undreamed of — murder in the streets, monstrous homunculi, and spider webs flung down to pluck up an unsuspecting humanoid for a quick snack. Occasionally the crowd parts and a drow gallops through on a nightmare — an ebon-black horse with flames for eyes.

Packs of younger drow — young rakes lingering on street corners — seem to follow your every move, but otherwise no one takes any heed of you.

You are staying in private rooms at the Inn of the Spider’s Nest. Your pack lizard and several of your druid companions — including Maeve — are staying in the stables out back.

Though not a large city, it is cosmopolitan as far as underdark dwellings go. You can find most anything you imagine here … for the right price.

Still seething from the night before, Bertram wakes Carol. “Get up. I need your help. I was robbed last night. Deep-gnomes. I’m going to return the favor.” Bertram is rummaging through the group’s war chest for copper pieces. He spreads them out over the floor and waves his hand over the coins while murmuring a soft incantation. Suddenly, the copper hue flickers golden yellow. “You’ll be the bait. Here, take this, show it prominently. We’ll have some spilling out. There.” (Fool’s Gold wild magic roll: 12= +1 to level. Effective casting level 8= Save vs. spell to notice at -8 + -2 illusion= -10 to save)

Bertram leads Carol down to the bar. Using Carol to translate, he presses the barkeep for information on the deep gnomes that robbed him the night before. Known hangouts, aliases, etc. He slides one hundred gold in a small pouch across the bar as he leans over his wine. (Information Gathering roll: 11. Success!)

Bertram instructs Carol to wait there, and “look drunk”. He ruffles up her hair and clothing a bit, and sets her up in a booth. He orders a number of ales, empties them partially, and positions them around Carol. Bertram hurries upstairs and makes a quick ‘Deep Gnome’ costume. (Disguise roll: 8. Check Mod 1= 9. Success!)
He re-emerges in the common room, and sets up in a dimly lit corner booth
-hiding his face. He keeps Carol in his periphery, and waits for the deep gnomes to return.

The bugbear bartender of the Spider’s Nest thinks Bertram’s questions are hilarious — where do the deep gnomes hang out? Haw!

“The Gnomeland, o’ course,” he spits. “Good luck, Pinky!”

Gnomeland is exactly what it sounds like: a deep gnome bar. Lit by purple lichen and glowing, pale-blue orbs, it is chock full of svirfneblin, the small, gray-skinned and wiry cousins of Bertram’s folk. The ones who crash landed deep under the urth generations ago, and who never crawled back to the surface.

They seem to be a fun-loving, if rowdy lot — quite good-natured, and a welcome respite from the creepy, crawly, dreadful scenes outside of Gnomeland.

Carol/Ann is mostly left alone — her table is actually the only one that isn’t knocked into, approached, or danced upon. She’s visibly uncomfortable being Bertram’s bait — she tried to get out of it, but the rest of the party were busy or distracted when Bertram hatched his plan to her — and she drinks nervously. She inadvertently gets quite drunk as she waits, sipping much too quickly on an empty stomach.

The deep gnomes of Gnomeland greet Bertram, in his disguise, friendily if cautiously. Who is this guy? they seem to wonder. Seems kinda uptight.

Carol/Ann is largely ignored by the gnomes, until a brief hush falls over Gnomeland and a young, grey-skinned gnomish lass enters — dressed as a scullery maid, serving drinks, but walking proudly.

No one addresses her by name, but who she is is quite clear: Queen Haverdash XVIII, ruler-in-exile of the svirfneblin.

Queen Haverdash glares at Carol/Ann in the corner, but she heads straight to the disguised Bertram.

“Who’re you?” she says. “New guy. Got a name? Here for a new one? You know how this works: make a pledge, get a name, start yer new life. Oh, and what’ll you have to drink?”

Etiquette roll: 8. Success! Bertram addresses her appropriately as a Queen-in-Waiting, just as he would Facistasia Wonderfrock. It is a formal but cordial conjugation, and belies her status as a monarch with a semi-permanent seat of power, in this case, the bar at the Gnomeland. “Tempting, although I have enough problems in my current one. No, I’m afraid our business would be better suited for a more private setting, my Queen.”

He takes her arm, and leads her with him into the kitchen. “You know, in a past life, I was a chef! May I ask her Majesty when was the last time she had a true zgirgal ez eggtyppip, cooked in the old ways? Let’s see what I can muster up…”

Bertram walks into the kitchen with the Queen, and approaches one of the line cooks and explains the situation to him. “I’m going to cook for the Queen. I need a Gnomish oven, one of your porters for an hour, and a station to work at. I’ll be out of your hair, and if the Queen likes it, I’ll share the recipe with you. Here’s twenty gold in it for you now, and twenty when we’re finished. I’ll take a bottle of wine as well, good wine, if you’ve got it.”

While Bertram waits for his reply he peers through the window on the kitchen door to check up on Carol-Anne.

“Eat? I may be Queen, but I’m still onna clock!” says Queen Haverdash. “Ehhh, but dang — been awhile since I had eggtyppip. Been longer since somebody showed up wanting to give something to me. So sure, why not.”

The cook shrugs and takes Bertram’s coins. He offers up a bottle of fine mushroom wine and makes himself scarce.

As the pans are heating, Bertram peeks out into the common room. Finally, it appears someone may be taking his bait. A deep gnome has approached Carol/Ann’s table, one foot up on a tiny stool, glaring at her from beneath bushy brows.

“You a good drow, or a bad drow?” asks the gnome.

hic,” hiccups Carol/Ann. “Errr — g-good?” she says.

“s’a trick question, innit,” says the deep gnome. “No such thing as a good drow.”

The deep gnome’s hand is on his dagger hilt.

“One moment, Your Majesty, I’ll be but a moment. Hopefully that porter is back with my truffles.” Bertram throws on an apron and grabs a glass of wine. He rushes out to the table. “Baroness, your wine, sorry for the delay. Your meal is coming shortly. Anything for the gentleman? Of course. Right away.” Bertram backs away from the table, waits for the deep gnome to turn his attention back to Carol, then uses his boots of springing to jump behind the deep gnome, dagger pressed into his back. (Move silently roll: 08. Success!)

“Now listen here bucko, and listen good. My partner has a wand pointed right at your giblets below the table, and feel that? That’s my blade in your kidney. You make one peep and we’ll gut you from both ends. Have a seat.” Bertram gestures for Carol to scoot in the booth. He sits down next to the gnome. “Some of your buddies made quite a score at the Spider’s Nest last night. I aim to get it back. Here’s what I’ll do,” Bertram produces one hundred gold from his purse, and gives it to the gnome. “Count it out if you want. I’m a fair man.” Bertram waits. “Give me a name, a place.” Information Gathering roll: 06.

The deep gnome’s eyes go wide with panic. He barely looks at the coins, even as he scoops them into his stubby hands.

“Baroness — Baroness Eilservs? Here?”

He looks like he’s about to call for help, then glances at Carol/Ann and thinks better of it.

“Look, I dinna who robbed ya last night — no cutpurses ‘ang out in the taverns. Too risky. Gorb’n his gang prowl the alleys like ever’ other cutpurse. Oh! But there’s Klakko — he likes to drink at the Nest. Could be he just figger’d ya a mark. Not that I would, o’ course.”

He leans in closer to Bertram and whispers. “How’d one a’ our kind hook up wit House Eilservs? I heard they’ve stopped worshippin’ that ‘orrible spider-queen and moved onta somethin’ … else. Hook a cousin up, huh? I’ll keep yer secret. Don’t worry. Even butt-shake onnit.”

He licks his middle finger and extends a hand — cautiously — toward Bertram’s waistline.

Bertram bites his lip as he watches the hand getting closer. “Maybe later. Listen, escort the Baronness back to the Spider’s Nest and I’ll put in a good word for you.”

He remembers the sous vide and races back to the kitchen. “Oh bother! No truffles today, it’s ok. I know a substitute.” Bertram races to deglaze the pan. (Cooking roll: 11. Success!) Bertram plates the coneys and lays the garnish. “There we are.” He places the plate in front of the Queen. “Pardon my reach.” He sits across from her at an impromptu table he’s laid out for them to talk in private. Once she’s had a chance to have a few bites, he starts with his story. “My Queen, my name is Bertram Figg. I was once a diplomat working in the interests of Facistasia Wonderfrock IX, are you familiar with her? She is the Queen-in-Waiting of the topworld. I would not be surprised if you hadn’t heard of her, because I was only recently made privy to your kingdom. You see, the gnomes above are not so different from yourselves. We share a language, a common ancestry. We too are searching for a Gnomeland. Perhaps there is a way I could arrange to open a channel between the two of you— start a dialogue. The problem is, myself and my travelling companions need to secure safe passage to the surface world, and that has proved somewhat of a challenge.”

“Undercover like,” says the deep gnome. “Roger that. That’s a svirf term that means, You betcha.”

Carol/Ann calls after Bertram as he’s about to leave. “Bertram, I don’t need — oh.” He was gone. “What’s your name,” she asks the deep gnome.

“Funnily enough,” he says, “it’s Roger!”

In the kitchen, at their impromptu table, Queen Havendash XVIII arches an eyebrow at Bertam’s proposition of diplomacy.

“Well then you realize that we are a people without a kingdom,” she says. “I mean, I gotta hold down two jobs — paying ones! — on top of this royal gig just to make ends meet. A topworld Queen-in-Waiting … Mookie back there would kill ya just for bringin up such a thing.”

Mookie, the line cook, does not take notice of his Queen’s statement.

“But diplomatic relations,” she continues, “that’s something. An exchange of ideas, maybe even ambassadors at some later date. I’m intrigued, Figg. And I’m impressed at your disguise, though now that I’m looking, I can tell you have the flabby chins of a topworlder. I’ll consider this request carefully, as well as how you might get back up top. Whether I send a letter to your queen or not, you’re still a gnome — and a gnome in need can always come to Queen Haverdash for assistance. Come see me in a few days. Right now I gotta get back ta work.”

She stands up, belches in admiration of the meal, and looks back over her shoulder before heading back out to the tavern floor.

“Good work, Figg,” she says.

Bertram nods graciously and rises to meet her at her chair and walk her to the door. After he packs up the leftovers, he cleans up his station, pays the remaining twenty gold to Mookie, and leaves out of the back entrance. The smell of spent oil and the sound of skittering rats brings back some old memories. Bertram realises he’s still wearing his apron. He stops and bends down to wrap the leftovers in the apron and make it easier to carry. He notices a passing rat stop, stand on its hind legs, and smell the air. “You there, you hungry?”

The rat looks at Bertram, it seems to take the full measure of him. It twitters — to itself, obviously not expecting Bertram to understand — “Outsider. Top-top. Worth a nubbin!” And it turns and skitters to the mouth of the alley.

A robed figure stops at the alley mouth. The rat disappears in the folds of the figure’s robe. Bertram briefly catches a glimpse of a tentacle emerging from the robed figure’s hood.

The robed figure moves on.

View
65: Into Erelhei-Cinlu
our heroes enter the city of the drow

In the aftermath of the battle at Tower Dree, Ervendio ethereals Valeria free fom the drow she’s globbed to. The Revengers debate what to do with their drow prisoners, but ultimately they decide to leave them in the guard house tied up. They cast lock on the door to the guardhouse, then travel on.

Approaching the fabled vault of the drow, they stumble into a nest of giant spiders! Bea fireballs the dangerous webs away and they fight off 7 of the spiders. Valeria is poisoned, but survives the effects. Bertram spies a fat, bloated queen spider, but the party decides discretion is the better part of valor — they slip away instead of fighting it for whatever treasure it was protecting.

They finally enter the vault — a high-ceilinged dome containing a drow city, fungal farms, merchant mansions, and other unknown dangers + delights. The dome is lit by floating red spores — almost like stars that have fallen to the ground — and by a massive purple … peach pit suspended at the top of the dome. It is truly an alien world under the urth.

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As they plan their approach to the Black Tower — the final guard post before the city itself — Ann confesses that she is really Carol/Ann, a were-rat. The party feigns surprise, and ensures Carol/Ann that they accept her among their number.

Using the medallions they found at Dree, the Revengers exchange them for green cloaks of passage at the gates of Erelhei-Cinlu. 7 of the druid companions must pretend to be slaves, remaining tied up at all times.

Erelhei-Cinlu is a city of drow and a place of evil and opportunity.

The streets are narrow and packed with all kinds of terrible villains: drow, bugbears, dastardly trolls, kuo-toa, even the occasional mind-flayer. You glimpse sights undreamed of — murder in the streets, monstrous homunculi, and spider webs flung down to pluck up an unsuspecting humanoid for a quick snack. Occasionally the crowd parts and a drow gallops through on a nightmare — an ebon-black horse with flames for eyes.

Carol/Ann leads them to the Inn of the Spider’s Nest, where they obtain double-rooms for a reasonable price. Mildred takes the form of a rat. Bea and Valeria bunk together.

Bertram goes downstairs to the inn’s tavern. He encounters several deep gnomes, but Bertram is reluctant to speak to them. After Bertram ignores them, the deep gnomes pick pocket Bertram’s massive personal wealth (3,000 gold!). Bertram catches them and slices his own coin purse open. The residents of the inn happily steal his gold and escape.

Morning approaches — or, what passes for morning in this underdark city. Erelhei-Cinlu is a city of magic, evil, and opportunity, where almost anything can be obtained … for the right price….

XP
Group Awards
7 Giant Spiders, 2450
The Black Tower, 1000
Entering Erelhei-Cinlu, 1000
Inn of the Spider’s Nest, 1000

Group Total 5450, Individual Award 909

Individual Totals
Bea 2109 (Spider-Burn 1200, Group 909)
Bertram 2109 (Don’t Touch That! 1200, Group 909)
Ervendio 2109 (An Elf Among Drow 1200, Group )
Golgaraz 2109 (Thinking of Scissoring 1200, Group 909)
Mildred 2109 (Dreams of the Rat 1200, Group 909)
Valeria 2109 (Attack the Untouched 1200, Group 909)

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64: The Tower Dree
our heroes enter drow territory...

The party approaches the Shrine of the Kuo-Toa. Ann warns that the kuo-toa are deadly, mad, and evil, but by making monetary tribute they should be able to pass through the shrine without trouble.

The Revengers join a line of pilgrims approaching the shrine of the Sea Mother, a horrible statue of a lobster-faced woman. Ann is sent to ask one of the drow in line about the proper procedure.

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Ann returns with information — by making a simple tribute they can pass by and continue their journey — but the drow also berates and insults Ann. Valeria comforts her, telling her that her Uncle Teks taught Valeria how to take a bath using only dirt. Golgaraz tells her she’s quite pretty, for what she is. Valeria says Ann smells like mushrooms (which she likes to hear) and Bertram says she smells like dirt (which she doesn’t). Ann’s self-esteem crumbles and she runs away. Mildred & Golgaraz push through the crowd to comfort her, pointing out that she has done great work to get them to this point. Ann takes comfort in this, and takes some credit for the work she has done. She almost lets slip that she is really Carol, the rat they met earlier, which everyone already knows anyway.

Mildred’s undead creatures continue to follow and creep everyone out — the kuo toans give them a wide berdth.

The Revengers witness a kuo-toan pilgrim approach the statue of the Sea Mother, pay a pile of platinum, and disappear in a splash of sea water. It reappears moments later and is makred by the priests and priestesses with an inky stain on its forehead — blessed by their terrible, alien god.

The party moves on peacefully, glad they were no longer beholden to Torsi and his gnomes to rob the shrine. Ann warns them they are approaching the Tower Dree, a guardpost leading into drow territory. Ervendio asks if it is dangerous. Of course!

They us the slave trick again — Bertram disguises a rope as a chain and fetters, Bea turns into a bat, and Ann assumes the role of slave master. Svendar begs/demands Bertram’s clothes & belongings away from him. Jeff doesn’t want to go, but Bertram gives up everything. Valeria promptly takes Bertram’s clothes from Svendar & wraps her trident in them.

The drow at the Tower force Ann to “sell” her slaves to them, sending Ann alone through the gate with a pack lizard and some gold. One of the drow tries to whip Bertram, and Valeria casts aside her slave disguise to defend him — the battle is joined!

Valeria arm-locks one of the drow. The drow captain fires a pink, globby burst from a wand — bonding Valeria and the arm-locked drow together.

Bea summons a shadow monster, 6 grippli, a sand lion to help her in the battle.

The druids scatter! Bertram chases after them. He re-awakens Maeve’s faith in herself and the druidic cause. She kisses him on the mouth. She gathers the other druids while Bertram goes after Svendar. He is frightened — Svendar, who wields only Bertram’s pot and Jeff, is commanded by Jeff (promptbed by Bertram ) to get back in the fight. Svendar has lost his harp somewhere in the Underdark, but Bertram has awakened some new fighting spirit in him!

Meanwhile — Mildred’s vampiric touch accidentally whomps Valeria. Ervendio’s first blow against a drow is skull-piercing one-hit kill. Golgaraz lobs a fire grenade and sets Ann and the pack lizard on fire. Ann puts herself out, but all of Bea’s summoned grippli are killed in a similar splatter.

The drow are defeated — two prisoners surrender and a third is still physically bonded to Valeria. The pack lizard is extinguished.

They make camp & loot the bodies. The Tower Dree is theirs. Valeria suggests they change their name to the Phantasmal Force. Are they Phantasms, or are they Revengers….?

XP
Group Awards
The Shrine of the Sea Mother, 1200
7 drow, 4550
1 drow captain, 975
6 burned to death Grippli, 0
Svendar’s Awakening, 600

Group Total: 7325 Individual Award: 1221

Individual Totals
Bea 2421 (The Lion Attacks the Captain 1200, Group 1221)
Bertram 2421 (I’ll Have What He’s Having 1200, Group 1221)
Ervendio 2421 (Headshots the Drow 1200, Group 1221)
Golgaraz 2421 (Foggy Dirge 1200, Group 1221)
Mildred 2421 (Vampiric Touches A Friend 1200, Group 1221)
Valeria 2421 (Dirt Bath 1200, Group 1221)

LOOT
3 heavy crossbows
14 crossbow bolts
7 suits of chainmail
1 suit of captain’s chainmail (captain)
8 glittery drow cloaks
8 clasping medallions, with a total of 5 different sigils
3 atlatls
7 short swords
1 captain’s short sword (captain)
1 metallic wand (captain)
8 pairs of boots
1 ring (captain)

various food & supplies (tower supplies)

a singed pack lizard
some burned up chests of gold pieces (820 gp salvageable)

View
63: Bingo and the Bea
our heroes cross a river...

Having made it through the Grand Cavern, the Revengers rest and make camp. After their rest, they approach the rushing kuoport river, an underground river ferried by Thoopshib, a supposedly mad kuo-toa. He charges them a platinum piece each to cross, which the Revengers pay.

They approach a purple-glowing room — lit by glowing lichen and mushrooms — and meet Torsi Garnetgetter, a deep gnome who has never left the underdark. Torsi and his friends warn the Revengers that a kuo-toa shrine is up ahead, and that it could be passed through safely — if the Revengers pay the fish-folk an appropriate tribute.

But! Torsi has another idea. He proposes that the Revengers go into the shrine and loot it/steal the treasures of the kuo-toa. First he offers to split the treasure with the Revengers, but Bertram counter-offers that the deep gnomes can keep all the treasure if they tell them the way to the surface. Ann, who has already told them/is guiding them to the surface, briefly protests, but Torsi is happy to make the deal. Torsi seals the deal with an old-fashioned deep gnome butt-shake, which unfortunately involves an embrace and a finger in the butt. It’s a custom!

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Torsi gives Bertram a new, proper deep gnome name — Bingo — and they offer the Revengers a spot in their camp for the night. But Bertram becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the nature of Tori’s butt-shake, to the point that he wishes to call off the deal and move on. He pulls a dagger on Torsi and a fight nearly breaks out, but Valeria takes the weapon away.

Thought confused and initially offended, Torsi comes to feel bad about what he has done. He calls off the deal and he and his deep gnomes depart. Bertram is left feeling violated and more alone than ever before.

Also, Jeff tries to hit on Mildred when she is in the form of a muskrat. Mildred rebuffs him.

Further along the tunnels, the Revengers encounter a wandering troll accompanied by several troglodytes. The troll and the trogs are burned to death after Bea takes control of the flame from several enlarged fire beetles. By taking their fire Bea inadvertently kills the beetles. Toward the end of the battle, Mildred reanimates the corpses of 2 beetles and 1 troglodyte. Several of the Revengers — particularly Ervendio and Valeria — continue to question the morality of Mildred’s reanimation of the dead.

What is good? What is evil? What is in-between? The Revengers continue their journey through the underdark….

XP
Group Awards
Crossing the Kuoport, 600
A Broken Deal with a Deep Gnome, 6000
1 troll, 1400
10 troglodytes, 1200

Group Total: 9200. Individual Award: 1534

Individual Totals
Bea 2734 (Fireformer 1200, Group 1534)
Bertram 2734 (Buttshook 1200, Group 1534)
Ervendio 2734 (Leftover Summoned Food & Water 1200, Group 1534)
Golgaraz 2734 (Could’ve Rolled With It 1200, Group 1534)
Mildred 2734 (I Gave Them Greater Life! 1200, Group 1534)
Valeria 2734 (Come At Me, Troll 1200, Group 1534)

LOOT
none?

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62: Tentacles in the Dark
our heroes encounter a terrible new foe...

Backtracking to the drow camp in an attempt to cut around a suspected mind-flayer ambush, the Revengers sneak past the dark elves using Bertram’s invisibility and Ervendio’s camouflage. Sneaking past, they see that a fight had broken out between the male and female drow after they left; the women won and killed the men, including Droth. The women were trussing and bleeding the corpses of their former comrades.

Moving on down the side tunnel, the party travels for several uneventful hours. Six small rats suddenly come upon them, running up and around them, circling, then going back the way they came. Shortly thereafter, the rats return — leading a scouting party of four mind-flayers!

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The tentacle-faced creatures mindblast Mildred and Golgaraz, stunning them for the rest of the fight. Bea fireballs the corridor, incinerating the rats and revealing them as lycanthrope thralls of the mind-flayers. Bertram’s fear causes two of the mind-flayers to flee. Despite the initial success of their spells, the Revengers discover the mind-flayers are largely resistant to magic, but the Revengers battle decisively and kill the alien creatures. Bertram dispatches one with his dagger, and Ervendio kills another at close range with his bow.

After the battle, Ervendio sets to decapitating and amputating the feet of his people’s ancient enemies. Carol, in a near-panic, tries to assure Bertram that, while she is like those other rats, she’s also not like those other rats. Bertram’s reaction — cooly aloof — causes Carol to panic and run away. Ervendio searches the bodies of the mind-flayers, discover some gold & platinum, 2 magic potions, 4 black and glittery cloaks, and a silver brooch engraved with the symbol of a spider.

The Revengers make camp after reaching an elevated side-tunnel. Golgaraz studies the his companions’ spellbooks. Valeria writes poetry. Bea sings a haunting and beautiful song about a red dragon. Bertram creates an illusory wall for the Revengers and their druidic retinue to rest within.

In the night, Carol the rat returns — squeaking, looking for a way in. Bertram wakes up and pursues her. He accuses her of being a wererat — and she transforms into a drow. She is a lycanthrope, but she wishes the Revengers no harm. Mildred approaches and Bertram introduces the drow as “Ann.” Mildred pretends not to know that Carol/Ann are one and the same, inviting Ann to join the party.

Ann them of a drow city in the underdark — Erelhei-Cinlu — from which she was lured as a child, hearing the illithid in her dreams. She does not tell them she is a wererat, but most in the party understand that she is. She tells them the mind-flayers scout the underdark, battling the drow when they find each other. There is also a race of fish-folk down here — the kuo-toa — who are dangerous and mad. The druids reveal they are now pacifists, having seen their friends murdered by their other friends.

The Revengers approach the Grand Cavern, a place Ann says is dangerous and full of scouting drow and other beasts. But it is the only way forward. They elect Ann to pretend to be their slavemaster, taking them to Erelhei-Cinlu to be sold. It works! They bypass the drow guard. Volcano sniffs out some large pack animals — big, slow, probably tasty. An illusion spell cast by Bertram surges, leaving him unable to cast any spells except illusions for the next 24 hours.

The Revengers pass through the Grand Cavern and the tunnel narrows again. Valeria gives Ann a high-five They continue into the underdark, where more dangers surely await them….

XP
Group Awards
Wererats (6), 1620
Mind-Flayers (4), 36,000
Carol/Ann, 6000
Slave Masters of the Grand Cavern, 6000

Group Total: 49,620 Individual Award: 8270

Individual Totals
Bea 9470 (Dragon Lullaby 1200, Group 8270)
Bertram 9470 (A Lie Agreed Upon 1200, Group 8270)
Ervendio 9470 (Calamari Cutter 1200, Group 8270)
Golgaraz 9470 (Bad Meistersinger 1200, Group 8270)
Mildred 9470 (Last Time I Make Friends With Something You Can Talk To 1200, Group 8270)
Valeria 9470 (High Five 1200, Group 8270)

LOOT
2 potions (magic, unidentified)
silver spider brooch
23 platinum pieces
45 gold pieces
4 black & glittery cloaks

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61: Descent Into the Depths of the Urth
our heroes escape the chaos storm...

The Revengers have divided.

Ervendio, Bea, and Mildred leave the castle to find and recruit the remaining residents of the Grimlands — Maeve, Ursula, Svendar, and the druids of the Sanctuary — before leaving the Chaos Storm for good. With Ervendion’s spells, they have an easy march. Ursula, heartbroken over the death of her son Petar, requests that they recover her son’s antler-bone dagger, which they recover from Teks’s buried body. Embracing their role as the hornblowers, they convince the druids to return to the castle with them, and to escape this cursed land before it is destroyed.

Back at the castle, Bertram, Golgaraz, and Valeria wait for their friends’ return. Moving about the castle to avoid detection, Bertram witnesses Tristen enter a room as a living man at sunset, only to emerge as a ghost. When the rest of the Revengers return, days later, they manage to gain access to this hidden sanctuary, only to find it covered in magical, unbreakable, fireproof webs. Unable to safely enter the room, the Revengers decide to leave the castle — and the Chaos Storm — altogether.

The retrieval of this piece of the rod has cost the lives of two Revengers and separated them from Minja by centuries. But they have gained new allies, and are one step closer to restoring the Rod of 7 Parts.

The Revengers escape the castle and the storm through a bolted exit in the castle’s deepest cavern. They pass through the veil of the storm and return to their own time — though now they must wander through the Underdark, a dark and lightless world of strange new dangers.

One of their new druid allies falls and dies as they descend the mile-long tunnel into the depths of the urth, but the rest of the party make it to the bottom through featherfall and Tenser’s floating disc. They find themselves in a vast cavern and tunnel. They make camp, and finally put the urthly remains of Jongle, their friend, brother, and fellow Revenger, to rest. Ervendio leads the ceremony, quietly honoring Jongle with the full rites of an elven funeral.

In the morning — as best they can tell in this sunless land — the Revengers start their journey. Ervendio again helps them with easy march, and after several miles in the tunnel they find a guardpost held by several drow — dark elves. Bertram’s comprehend languages allows him to understand their undercommon speech, and a common-speaking guard named Droth offers to let them pass the post at a cost of 1,000 platinum. As they other guards debate whether to simply murder the party, Mildred casts charm person on Droth. Tempers flare and the male guards, led by Droth, seem on the verge of battling the female drow — allowing the Revengers to slip past unnoticed.

The Revengers camp again, and the next day continue further down the tunnel. They notice a group of a dozen rats fleeing from them, heading further down the tunnel — Valeria catches one and Mildred’s animal friendship endears it to her. The rat’s name is Carol and it tells Mildred that the others have gone on to warn some tentacle-faced creatures up ahead that strangers are approaching. Interpreting the map discovered by Bertram, Valeria realizes that if they backtrack and take a side-passage near the drow guards, they can sidestep these creatures entirely. Ervendio — recognizing their description — advises that they do so.

The party returns the guard post and prepares to sneak past the drow there. Bertram casts invisibility on about half of their large group, and when Bea attempts the same she experiences a wild surge — instead of another invisibility spell, it causes Ervendio and Valeria’s suspicions of arcane magic-users to deepen.

The Revengers and their retinue of lost druids, partly invisible, prepare to slip past the drow guards as best they can….

XP
Group Awards
Escaping the Chaos Storm, 12,000
A Funeral for Jongle, 6,000
Drow Guardpost, 4225

Group Total, 22,225. Individual Award, 3705

Bea 4905 (Fireballed A Bed 1200, Group 3705)
Bertram 4905 (Puts Hair On Your Chest 1200, Group 3705)
Ervendio 4905 (Elven Rites 1200, Group 3705)
*Golgaraz*4905 (Golgaraz’s Floating Disc 1200, Group 3705)
Mildred 4905 (Drow Charmer 1200, Group 3705)
Valeria 4905 (You Would’ve Been A Great Dad 1200, Group 3705)

LOOT
identified: 2 potions of healing

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F is for Figg

Bertram_-_Welles_.jpg

It’s been said “A magician is just an actor, playing the part of a magician.” It has also been said: “Art is a lie, that makes us realize the truth.” If anything, as I’ve aged I’ve found it harder to distinguish the two. I think this was something Jongle understood deeply, and perhaps it was why it was so hard to cut through to the man’s core. He understood that life is absurd, and pointed out how ludicrous it is that we go about our lives trying to pretend otherwise.

Much of my job in the Service was trying to discern truth from lies, and at the same time, disseminating my own falsehoods, forgeries, and fakes. For us both, truth was a weapon that the lies enabled us to wield. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found there to be only a couple truths that cut through all the clutter in life. A selfless act of love, is one. You can dilute it, or cast doubt on it, but in the moment—there is nothing like it in the Universe. It has an aura, a reddish pink as the setting sun.

For the Grimlanders, this jumbled timeline might be all they remember, all they care to know. Were there a way to restore it, instead of dooming it to the storm, we might find hope that life can exist in the void. And even if I am trapped here, never to see my friends or family again, I would know that I tried to save these people. Perhaps that is what Mildred sought to do as well? Or Lord ApBlanc? But is this the cost of trying to cheat death? A cursed land and a bedevilled mind? I know the answer already, for I’ve seen it before on Azaltine’s apoplectic visage.

I’ve never been comfortable being an arbiter of life and death. Acceptable losses. The fog of war. Call it what you will, but damnit, don’t these people deserve a choice if we can give them one? If i could go back to the Moon, rewrite what happened at Greywood Estates, I would. And somehow, I have been able to survive these mistakes. Those around me haven’t been so lucky.

Because I am a coward.
Because I am a fool.
Because I was naive.
Because I treated people like pawns.

But I can still change that, I can still try to be more like a man of the Twelve Barrows. We refugees have had to decide; stay and fight, or run and live.

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60: Mildred the Mad
our heroes meet a familiar new friend

In the Lord’s Treasury, Bertram investigates the pedestals and the Revengers take possession of the lord’s treasure. Golgaraz takes possession of lex, the sixth piece of the Rod of 7 Parts. Golgaraz learns that lex can slow time, and has been tapped into the power of the cursed castle itself to create this island of (relative) safety in the middle of the chaos storm itself. If it leaves the castle time will accelerate, the eye of the storm will collapse, and all within it may perish.

Ervendio communes with the kuraphai and meditates on the horn of the sacred grove. He learns the horn will “open a window in time” if blown; he interprets this to mean it will allow them to return to their proper time period. Chow-Chow and Ervendio develop a friendly, if third-person repartee. Valeria reminds Chow-Chow he is a good boy. Chow-Chow asks Valeria to tell Ervendio that the elf is also a good boy.

Even as they stand still in the Lord’s Treasury, the Revengers notice a time shift — the chests full of treasure are emptied, cobwebs appear, and a door that had not been there is now there. The party moves through it — Golgaraz triggers another pit trap, but is saved by Ervendio’s feather fall — and they discover a large, natural cavern.

There is a chasm and cracks in the floor, and yellow mist rises from them. A group of leechmouths are circled around a hunch-backed, hideous mongrelwoman — it is Mildred the Mad, a strange outcast druid of the badlands. Valeria takes an attack stance; the others cast defensive spells. A battle is joined!

Bea immediately experiences a wild surge — her left hand turns into a hawk’s talon. The leechmouths are quickly dispatched — two survive and are put into a 20-foot-deep pit, one is tied up and taken prisoner by Valeria, and one of the fallen is animated by Mildred. Its name is Roger, and it follows Mildred as a mindless servant.

Mildred! Is this the same Mildred the Frowzywig that started this adventure with our heroes so long ago? The one whose name was taken as inspiration for Mildred’s Revengers? It is unclear. Mildred the Mad — this Mildred — has no recollection of such things. She has lived her entire life here, in the chaos storm, and has learned to use its time-shifting to her advantage, creating a reputation among the leechmouths and the druids of Sanctuary as a strange and dangerous creature, though one who can sometimes be allied with. Yet she speaks of a mysterious dark lord, just as the Frowzywig did. This Mildred does not recall meeting Bea in the branches of Yggdrasil and sending her here, but she does have an interest in the pieces of the rod the Revengers are collecting. Mildred joins with our heroes — for now — and Valeria informs her that the body of her father, which they are still carrying with them, is strictly off limits when it comes to animating dead.

In the large cavern, the Revengers discover a large door in the floor — round, bolted shut on this side — that supposedly leads to tunnels that could take them out and under the chaos storm itself. This manner of exit would not resolve the curse of this castle, but with the piece of the rod in hand, is the castle’s curse even their responsibility?

The Revengers debate splitting up and gathering some of the druids and other innocents of the Grimlands outside, bringing them here, and escaping through these tunnels. But Ervendio wants to stay together and use the horn to escape. Bertram seems to feel there is much left undone in this land.

The Revengers finally rest for a few hours, taking refuge in a comfortable, softly-lit study. They briefly consider opening a book of certain vile darknesses, but Valeria tosses it into the chasm of yellow mist instead. They discover a trophy room that contains not only mounted animal heads, but druid skeletons as well. Ervendio peers into the crystal ball for signs of Harpo, but spies only an old and weathered gravestone. He can make out the words “Harpo” and “father…”, but nothing else. The crystal ball offers no glimpses of Maeve or Ursula.

Bertram, popping his head up through a trapdoor, discovers another trap-laden hallway — spouts of icy-cold black flame and an ominous black door. Will they press on through the black door? Escape through the tunnels? Blow the horn? Split the party? It is nighttime in the castle again and the Revengers are at a crossroads….

XP
Group Awards
1 Piece of the Rod of 7 Parts, 10,000
8 leechmouths, 7800

Group Total: 17,800 Individual Award: 2967

Bea 3917 (Are You the Mildred I’m Thinking Of? 950, Group 2967)
Bertram 3917 (Bertram’s Lost Weight 950, Group 2967)
Ervendio 3917 (I Said Check for Traps 950, Group 2967)
Golgaraz 3917 (Hero Tug 950, Group 2967)
Mildred 3917 (Rise, Roger! 950, Group 2967)
Valeria 3917 (Stands Her Ground 950, Group 2967)

LOOT
- scroll of protection from undead
- a ring
- a bottle
- bagpipes of fog
- LEX, the 6th piece of the rod of 7 parts (Golgaraz)
- 17 gems
- 2 unknown potions
- tome on the early adventures of Glimmer Greyhaven (Ervendio)
- books on the history of human empires (Bertram)
- human poetry (Bertram)

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59.1: Jongle's Last Dance
Jongle G. Janglemancer joins the infinite...

Jongle looks at his gaunt hands now riddled with liver spots. “Like a…skeleton,” he mutters.

He pauses for a moment and cracks a smile revealing, nubby yellowed teeth. “What did the ghost say to the other ghost?”

“Do you believe in goblins? Heh heh…Hah HACK HACKkk…Geh.”

None of his friends laugh, especially not his daughter, the girl he’d only just met hours ago.

“What, you’re gonna leave me hangin’? Don’t look at me like that, you guys. Like I’m some angry drunk causin’ a scene! Hey Bert, ‘member the time I projectile vomited all over the Grudgewood bar and it hit everyone ’cept you cause you’d just slipped on your own piss. HAHA! HACkkk.”

He turns to Valeria, his wrinkly, old eyes still warm with mirth, and gets quiet. Behind the crow’s feet is a profound sadness.

“I’m…I’m sorry, my dear. Looks like your old man is done for. These last couple days have really been the shits, eh? Heh.”

The old goblin slumps down on a treasure chest for support, and unfastens his shortsword from his belt. It clangs to the ground. “Too heavy for me now.”

“Come, have a seat. I wanna tell ya story. It’s about the first time I met your mudda. She was a beautiful girl. The most beautifulest I ever saw, to be honest. And that’s why she first caught my eye. But…it ain’t why I stuck around. It ain’t why I crossed a haunted desert and saved her from a fire cult neither.”

“It was ‘cuz she had a certain strength. A kind of courage. Nerve. Vim, Vigor, whatever you wanna call it. It was hidden in there, cuz of her upbringing, bein’ ashamed of bein’ goblin and whatnot. But I could see it in her from the start. And sometimes that made her real stubborn as all get out, but mostly it made her a broad of real integrity. And that’s good. That’s a good thing. Somethin’ I’ve lacked here and there throughout my life.”

“But you. You’ve got it in spades. You’ve got a heart of gold. And you’re buff, and whip smart, an’ you’re a real looker. I mean, I look at you, and I know you’re gonna save the dang world. My daughter! Can you believe that? Hack HACK hackKKkk” Jongle gasps and wheezes, clutching his chest.

“I wish we coulda…I wish more than anything we coulda spent more time togedda. I wish I coulda watched you grow up, and been there for ya when ya needed me…but in the blink of an eye things keep changin’.”

“I love ya, Valeria.” Jongle’s speech slurs, and his eyes turn glassy. “You’re gonna do good. Real good. I wish I coulda been there, but things keep…changin’…”

A puckish smile sweeps across Jongle G. Janglemancer’s face as he looks into Valeria’s eyes, before his own roll back into his head, and he slumps forward lifeless into her armored chest.

Valeria weeps.

She holds her fathers body to her chest. It feels so small and fragile. “I just got you back. Teks said it was his time, and that he had to get me back to you. And he did. But this isn’t fair.”

She cries for some minutes, and then, exhausted, she looks up at Ervendio.

“What do we do? To honor him, or bury him, I mean. I…I don’t know the Goblin funeral rights. I’ve never been in a Goblin church, really. And mom always said he hated the church.”

Ervendio stood silently over Valeria as she held Jongle. His eyes were closed and his head was bowed. One hand resting on the hilt of his sword and the other hanging limply at his side. He replayed all of his important Jongle moments in his head. Their first meeting among the saving of Grudgewood, his popularity at that silly brothel, his wretched poetry and uncouth jokes, the great battles together, his choices of impatience that often accompanied the younger races, he still remembered the night when he wrote that ridiculous poem to Minja and she took it as a proposal. A proposal! And look what’s become of that wretched poem. Jongle had a daughter! Valeria! and she was here! Ah the gods play cruel tricks. Poor Valeria, to lose both her father figure and then her actual father within hours of each other. Poor Valeria.

“… said he hated the church.”

He opened his eyes. He saw Valeria looking up at him. He had seen her, a small fierce goblin fighter. When he looked at her now he saw a sad goblin girl, lost and alone with strangers in a mystical wasteland that killed two of her fathers in a day. His eyes softened. He knelt by Valeria and folded Jongle’s hands over his chest.

“No, he was not fond of the church. That would be an understatement. He actively fought against the goblin church and army. Besides, I do not know of any goblin ritual. I know nothing of goblin culture at all. Jongle was the first and only goblin I had the pleasure to know… until your mother of course, and now you.

“I know Elven practices for funerals on the combat field… would that suffice? and his belongings now are yours. Though it is customary for the funeral rite I know for him to be burned with a weapon. I would not prefer to do hold it here though. Let us use a bedroll to wrap him. Can we put him on your mount? we can collect the items and leave quickly. I do not wish to stay here any longer.

“Yes. With his weapon, if that’s what your people do.”

She looks at jingle again. “If everything my mom told me was true, he probably would have wanted us to make a puppet out of him. Carry him around on a stick.” She smiles for a second saying it, and then cries again, preparing his body alongside Ervendio."

“His things…well, instead of taking them, maybe we should sell them, as soon as we can. And give the money to the orphanage back in Grudwood. He would have liked that, right?”

A few slips of crumpled paper are found in Jongle’s pockets. One reads…

Night Farts
Sqeakin out a nasty puffer
Spoiled eggs and steak
Push her head below the covers
A funny joke does make

Fin.

The next appears to be observational comedy?

“You ever wonder if owlbears have identity issues? Like…their owl friends are scared of ‘em, but their bear friends think they’re pussies?”

The third slip of paper is an updated will.

Hey, you! Congratulations. Either you found my dead body or you managed to pickpocket me. Well, here’s my stinkin’ will, ya dirty graverobber and/or thief! There are a number of crossed out entries including the names Canicus, Proteus and Khalid.

To Minja, or if she’s dead, Bertram. I bequeef my smelly slippers and my crystal ballz.

To Bea, or if she’s dead, Bertram. I bequeef my Cloak of the Bat. Ya might wanna dry clean it. Also, you can have Ow Bear back, of course.

To Teks, or if he’s dead, Ervendio. I bequeef my shortsword, and all of my poems.

To Ervendio, of he’s dead, Bertram. I bequeef my Fan of Wind, for you to blow people!

To Golgaraz, or if he’s dead, Bertram. I bequeef my kazoo and hand puppets.

If any of you are alive when my daughter Valeria comes of age, all this shit is goin’ to her! Don’t make my ghost hunt you down!

Send all my money to the orphanage on 42nd street in Skull Cap Valeria. Don’t touch it! If I’m dead she’s gonna need a nest egg. Make her go to college or somethin’

Ervendio finds the notes as he composes Jongle’s body.

He reads the will out loud to everyone.

He opens the other note.

“Listen to this droll…

“Night farts…” as Ervendio continues through the lines he laughs. He sighs at the end, “Jongle, that’s disgusting.” And he slips the foul poem in his pocket.

“Valeria, the money you can do with what you wish. But he had some powerful items. You still have an enemy out there. Jad will try and stop us, and his wyvern. Your quest with Ruat is his quest. We have to be ready… if we ever leave this gods forsaken chaos storm.

“Come, we should hurry. Let’s collect the piece and check the pedestals for traps. If we rest for an hour I can pray to the Kuraphai to assist our exit. We should leave. I want to build a pyre during the day. A great funeral pyre, in the tower. Let’s burn this place.”

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59: Alas, Poor Olde Jongle G. Janglemancer
our heroes delve under ground, into time

Past the empty torture room, the Revengers find a number of tiny, cramped prison cells. Only one cell is occupied — the Revengers meet Andrew ApFittle, male heir to the ApFittle clan of Birnam. He has been imprisoned in the ApBlanc castle for months — or longer — because his family the Ogre in the war against the Wolf.

Andrew is convinced he has been with lycanthropy by a wererat in his cell. Andrew constantly beats the rat to death, only to watch it come back to life. Valeria kills the wererat with her holy trident Wolfsbane. Andrew also begs to be put out of his misery, and after much debate Valeria gives him her trident. He drives the points through his neck and jaw, killing himself instantly.

The violence is too much for Bertram. Thinking of his fallen friends Canicus and Proteus — of Teks, who aged and died almost before his very eyes — he has a nervous breakdown. Ervendio comforts him, but Bertram thinks it’s all too much, all too wrong. What if they could have found the master wererat and saved Andrew?

Jongle is also outraged — he confronts Valeria, who says that she hopes he would have done the same for her if she had been infected. Jongle says he would not. Bertram says what she did wasn’t right. Valeria says that sometimes what’s good isn’t right.

The move deeper into the basement. In another cell, they discover Brianne ApBlanc, the missing daughter of the castle’s lord. She says her father is named Tristen, and that he imprisoned her when she wanted to leave the castle and follow the teachings of the druids of the groves. She tells the Revengers that her brothers are both dead — Gilan by wolf attack and Morholt killed in his bed by an assassin. She believes her father is evil and is some kind of “daytime vampire” — a drinker of blood, but not undead. She has never seen him at night at all, her entire life.

She is given a cloak, a waterskin, a bootknife, and Harpo — who is also there and has been the whole time — and freed from her cell. She thanks the Revengers and takes her leave of them.

The Revengers discover another sub-level of the basement, and a hallway filled with traps. Valeria almost dies in an acid pit, and Bertram begins to meticulously check the floor for more pits. While looking he falls into one himself, but he is saved from falling by Bea’s feather fall, and the group rescues him. At the end of the deadly hallway, the Revengers discover the Lord’s Treasury.

Inside they find several closed chests and, pedestals that hold, respectively, a ring; a bottle; bagpipes; a black rod; and a scroll. Bertram identifies that they are all “enchanted,” except the scroll which is “protective.” The rod, while magical, does not give up its secrets to Bertram’s spells. But ruat tells Valeria that it is lex — the sixth piece of the Rod of 7 Parts.

As they prepare to check the pedestals for traps, a cold presence enters the room. It is a ghost! The same spirit they encountered earlier that aged Bea prematurely. Again it appears to be hideously burned and with a gash or scar across its neck.

Valeria attacks the spirit with Wolfsbane while the others prepare their defenses. The ghost points at Jongle and keens — and Jongle ages 40 years on the spot, becoming an elderly, liver-spotted goblin in an instant. As an old goblin, Jongle reaches for the bagpipes and blows: a fog fills the room, erupting from the pipes themselves.

Bea’s spells prove ineffective against the ghost, but Valeria manages to do some damage with her holy trident. The ghost tells them, “You should not be here!” and he fades away….

XP
Group Awards
Wererat in a Cage, 270
Andrew ApFittle, 6000
Brianne ApBlanc, 6000
Entrance to the Lord’s Treasury, 3000

Group Total: 15,270 Individual Award: 3,054

Individual Totals
Bea (Feather Fall For a Friend 950, Group 3,054)
Bertram (No Lockpicks 950, Group 3,054)
Ervendio (A Friend Indeed 950, Group 3,054)
Jongle (So … Old! 950, Group 3,054)
Valeria (Suicide is Painless 950, Group 3,054)

LOOT
Bagpipes of Fog: Blowing these bagpipes allow its possessor to blow forth a thick cloud of heavy fog equal to that of a fog cloud spell. Each round spent blowing it creates a 10-cubic-foot fog cloud. The cloud lasts for 2d4 rounds after the last round of blowing the instrument.

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