Library of Dungeons: Looking for Ruins in All the Wrong Places
First session of Library of Dungeons, a new campaign at Richmond Public Library that will be run in parallel with my home campaign. I’ll title and tag them differently to keep them separate, since they are different groups in different worlds.
Hawke (a human fighter), Rondo the Great (a human wizard), and Hawthorn (a human cleric of Zorika the Earth Mother) are together in a bar, listening to Hawke go on and on about all the adventures he’d like to have, when Hawthorn challenged him to get started on that. Next thing you know, the three of them are on a little-used trail heading north from their town of Thornwood, looking for some ruins they’ve heard vague rumours about, that they suspect goblins have moved into. They’re hoping for long-lost, ancient, profitable secrets. Hawthorn wants to find clues to the Ancient City of Xanorath.
They didn’t find the ruins, but Hawke did spot a goblin messily gutting a (still living) rabbit with a huge, crusty knife. As he tried to sneak up on it, the goblin spotted him and screamed. Four more goblins emerged from the brush around the small clearing as Hawke’s companions caught up with him. Hawke swung his (locally) famous sword, sending the first goblin’s head flying over the heads of its friends. Hawthorn waded in, swinging his quarterstaff, but the goblins were faster than he expected and he was stabbed by two of them. Rondo blasted one of them in the face with a bolt of mystic energy, but failed to kill it, and failed to notice yet another goblin sneaking up behind him.
Hawthorn finally got his quarterstaff spinning true, taking out the two goblins flanking him. Hawke cut down two more, rather messily. Rondo finally noticed the one behind him and executed a flawless roll out of it’s reach while blowing the poor goblin back down the trail with another bolt of mystic power. He came up out his roll against a tall rocky formation, which spoke to him in a deep voice, “What’s going on here?”
The three of them had a short conversation with a huge, mossy, ancient troll, before inadvertently convincing it that their town was preparing to dig up its precious stones, after which it headed towards town to put a stop to that. If anyone finds out who sent the troll to what remains of Thornwood, they won’t find much of a welcome.
Following the goblin’s trail from the clearing, they found a dark patch of woods containing a burnt and blackened tree with a man-sized crack in it. Rondo looked inside and found it had a smooth wooden floor rather than uneven rotten wood. Hawke stepped inside and the trap-door dropped him into total darkness. He’s not alone, and can hear something coming towards him in the dark. Trying unsuccessfully to quickly light a torch, the spark does reveal briefly a humanoid figure with no arms growing from its sides, but instead one arm emerging from where its face should be. In the palm of its single hand is an eye, and each grotesquely thick finger ends with a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. It has no trouble navigating the darkness and the teeth soon bite into Hawke’s face as he is backed into the cavern wall.
Rondo and Hawthorn drop a rope to their screaming friend, who can’t get to it in the dark with the armfiend biting his face. He still holds the flint and steel and manages, somehow, to get his torch to sputter slowly to life, then thrusts it at the fiend, driving it back. He gives it a solid kick, sending it sprawling back into the darkness and grabs the rope. While his friends are hauling him up, the armfiend comes at his legs, but he manages to kick it square in the palm-eye.
As Hawke is emerging from the tree, goblin archers attack them from hidden positions in trees some ways away. By watching the arrows come at them, Rondo targets the archers and manages to blast both out of the trees with his magic. Rondo takes Hawthorn’s symbol of Zorika and causes it to glow with light, then summons a spirit servant to carry it, sending the spirit down into the tree. Hawke and Rondo slide down the rope behind the invisible spirit and glowing symbol to find the armfiend cowering from the light, battered and broken. As Hawke draws his sword and approaches, the armfiend makes one last lunge at his face, only to have its arm cut off and collapse, twitching and dying.
There is a pile of bones against the wall of the cave, where they find a few coins and a chain necklace with a key hanging from it, which Rondo took. A tunnel led from the chamber and after they talked Hawthorn into coming down (not before he caused his own staff to glow with light), and leaving the rope tied above for escape later, they followed the tunnel, which twisted and turned, round and roughly made. At one point the tunnel was split by a crevass. It was not wide, they could step across it easily, but Hawke decided to explore down it. They tied another rope to him and he lowered himself down and was able to inch along the steep wall of the crevass, which gradually became less steeply inclined, until he came to a curtain wall, which he was able to (barely) crawl under. On the other side was a large cavern, with great split stones like platforms scattered nearby. He leaped to the nearest and braced himself on the rock to provide a tight rope for Rondo to hold onto while he followed across the crevass wall.
While holding the other end of the rope tight for Rondo, Hawthorn noticed something grey and gooey oozing out of a fork in the tunnel ahead of him. There is nowhere for him to tie off his end of the rope, but his companions have the other end held for him. He heads into the crevass a little too eagerly to get away from whatever is heading towards him in the tunnel, and misses his footing, sliding across some sharp stones before catching himself on a small ledge. While below him the crevass ends between tight rock walls, ahead, below the curtain wall there seems to be a level pebbled area a few feet across. He sees the grey thing oozing down into the crevass and throws himself into a swinging arc on the rope, knocking the wind out of himself on the rocky wall at the end, but largely unharmed. Unfortunately his boot got stuck just before his jump, so he pulled his foot out and left it behind. There is air movement here and he finds that there is a hole through the rock leading into the large cavern at the base of the platform rocks. He calls to his friends, who hammer a spike into their platform to tie their rope too and slide down it to join him. They go through the hole and pile some rocks against it to deter the grey thing from following them. In the cavern they can hear a stream running not far away and they make camp to rest up for the next leg of their journey.