Dave's Sandbox

August 21st 2011
Rodents of Unusual Size

Players: Kristen (Barney Blackspell), Jesse (Galen Ravenspire), Max (Pieter Quinn)

SETUP

Barney returns from some time off “with the ladies.” Arriving at TGIF, he meets Galen and Pieter, flush off the cash rewards of their adventures in the Tombwood. The trio meet up, and Galen introduces Pieter to Barney, who promptly decides “these are my kinds of bros.”

The trio decide to adventure out to the abandoned Abbey, which rumor has it was once the home to a caste of arm and armor-smithing monastic types. The monks used to trade their arms in town. About seven years ago, the monks stopped coming back to trade goods, and those who searched them out in the dangerous wilderness west of town did not return.

Now, the place is abandoned and home to ROUSs – Rodents of Unusual Size – specifically of the rat variety, according to Barney, who reconnoitered the area once before.

We journey westward for an hour or two, and Pieter and Barney get to know one another a bit more. Both privately decide that one is mentoring the other in the ways of life.

As we get closer to where Barney remembers the Abbey to be, the wagon track begins to be less and less maintained. After an hour and a half or so of walking, the path begins to disappear in the overgrowth from time to time.

We arrive eventually at a shack, which Barney once fought an ROUS within. 5’ by 10’ store-house. We open the rusty door, and it swings open easily. Inside are about 10 rodents of a traditional size (ROTS) inside, which swarm around and then run out between our legs. Inside are a set of empty crates and barrels, perhaps a food store once, that has since been depleted. The Shack is not in good shape. Worn down and the roof is beginning to sag inward.

Pieter decides to search the floor, and finds that one of the floorboards is loose. As we tear up the boar, we find a trap door beneath with decorative carvings of the good-aligned god Bahamut. While the floors and the walls are all scratched and rotted, the piece of wood that this carving lies on is as fresh as if it were carved yesterday. Something special about this wood…

When we open the door, we find a small store room. Inside are cans and rations and jars of food, untouched. It’s a simple unfinished cellar with masoned walls. A simple wooden ladder descends into it. An unlit torch adorns either wall. Barney casts Light to illuminate the room, and Pieter drops down into it to search the room. There is nothing particularly special about the stores, except that they have been well maintained/preserved, despite the decay of the shack above. Barney detects some kind of divine magic aura on the area (but no magic of more notable importance), which must relate to the preserved nature of this area.

We take a few snacks for the road, then close back up the secret store room, and depart.

As we exit the shack, we see the Abbey ahead. A big series of connected buildings, with a large chapel with big double doors facing us. A big grey building made of wood. (photos:)

Abbey

Abbey 2
As we approach the doors to the Abbey, Barney’s keen eyes spot something grey and human-sized dart away from one of the second floor windows. Ominous…

INTO THE ABBEY

We open the doors and enter a large chapel room, with a raised altar at the far end and pews and aisles in between. It looks like it was once stately, but like the shack, has come into considerable disrepair.

But what hits us most is the smell! The place is overrun with rats, climbing the walls and skittering across the floors, 20 or so in all, and it smells as such.

Room is large, 60’ long by 40’ wide, with vaulted ceiling topped with large cross-beams. The beams are in bad shape, degraded by the gnawing of the rats. As we open the doors and the rates skitter, a deep groaning sound shakes the room and the building seems to shift somewhat, settling into a new position…Barney Prestidigates some breeze and light floral scent to try and help air it out, but this only serves to briefly overwhelm the party with a wave of poopy flower smell. Galen briefly regrets his recent snacking, Pieter chastises him for not eating earlier at TGIF.

There are four large stained glass windows on the sides of the chapel room, and a huge 20’ wide stained glass window dominating the wall behind the altar. A large iron-banded door opens off to the right of the main doors (leading north), likely leading off into the rest of the Abbey complex. The chapel was clearly dedicated to good-aligned deities, who are featured in the stained glass scenes. The large stained glass window behind the altar is dedicated to a scene of Bahamut in his dragon form defending the lands from the wilds.

The room is cast in a soft glow from the windows. We also notice the constant sound of the building creaking and groaning as it adjusts to the second time the doors have been opened in years most likely.

As we enter the middle of the abbey, a man with dark hair and simple peasant clothes and a short sword on his belt appears behind us, as if out of no where!!

The man introduces himself as Andy Anderson, although that clearly is not his name (he pauses as we ask him as he fabricates an answer) and inquires about our armaments. He stalls us for a while, before informing us that his main job is basically to stall intruders until “the others” can get into position to attack…

“Well hell” says Barney.

Bloody ’ell. Wererats!

“Andy” then transforms in front of us from his human form into his wererat form! “Bloody ’ell” says Galen. Four other wererats in rat form appear about us as well and attack.

The wererats set upon us with rusted short blades (yuck, tetanus and lycanthrope!) and battle ensues…

As the heroes battle the wererats, tons of ROTS fill into the rafters and beams above the room, as their extra weight begins to make the roof and beams sag dangerously inwards in the SW corner of the room. Barney attempts to keep the small hoards of ROTS at bay and help weaken the wererats while his bros Pieter and Galen take on the larger vermin head-on.

After bearing the brunt of a double attack from Pieter and Galen, one of the wererats stumbles back into a brittle column supporting the SW corner of the ceiling. The column buckles slightly, and two swarms of rats fall down from the rafters into the room in a hissing mess. Then, the SE corner of the chapel roof collapses, as a gigantic beam crashes down along with a ton of debris. Barney nimbly dodges away from the explosion of splinters and debris, narrowly avoiding damage. More packs of rats emerge from the debris with a hungry rabid look in their lives…

Barney unleashes a particularly well-placed flaming column into the new pack of rats, scorching most of them and filling the room with the lovely smell of scorched rat flesh. (Mmm… dinner).

As the roof begins to fall in, the heroes disengage from combat and “tactically withdraw” towards the door leading deeper into the abbey, which is, quite inconveniently locked. As the ceiling continues to collapse inward, debris block the door leading back out of the Abbey, barring our easy escape.

As the rats close in, Barney casts Fire Shroud and all but one of the remaining wererats burst into flame, along with the horde of ROTSs. Connecticut fried rat. (Not as good as chicken admittedly, but still good).

After Galen and Pieter combine a flurry of unsparing attacks to rapidly dispatch one of the remaining wererats, Pieter expects an extended effort (Action Point!) to bust open the locked door with a well-placed kick.

The heroes battle their way back into the adjoining room (a small 15’ by 10’ room), who’s roof appears thankfully safe. As the two remaining wererats try to fight their way into the room, Pieter stands firmly in the doorway and battles them back into the chapel, just as the roof above begins to collapse and the wererats dive backwards. Their fate remains unknown.

AMBUSH IN THE CLOISTER

We seek temporary shelter inside the small antechamber room, blocking out the swarming rats with a cloak stuffed beneath the door, while we tend to our wounds in shifts and catch our breath.

After a few minutes, a large crash emanates from the chapel, and later a grating metal sound is heard from the back part of the abbey to the north. We then hear a loud crashing sound, like a weapon, from the NW.

We travel deeper into the Abbey, opening a door to the north of the room to reveal an interior cloister (courtyard with covered walkway around the outside).

As we step into the cloister, we are ambushed by four wererat archers, one of whom hits Barney in the shoulder with a surprise arrow.

Just after the assault, a large crash breaks through the double doors at the north end of the courtyard, sending the door flying backwards off its hinges into a tree. As Galen shifts into the courtyard to tactically reposition, he spots an 8 1/2 foot tall wererat, massively strong, bearing a huge and heavy halberd. The rat also sports a bloody bandage around its head that seems to completely obstruct its vision.

Pieter rushes forward and spears one of the archers through the leg with a javelin as Galen splashes acid across the cloister at the giant rat and Barney summons a flaming sphere to block his route into the room, singing the giant rat with flame.

The battle is on!

The giant wererat rushes to attack Galen, despite his lack of site. As Galen strikes him with a disruptive strike, the now-bloodied wererat berserker flies into a rage, bashing Galen with his giant halberd inflicting a heavy wound.

Pieter leads the attack in response, landing an even more extensive blow (27 damage!). Galen lands two more blows in quick succession, sending the wererat to the brink of death, but not yet into the grave. That takes the work of Barney’s flaming sphere, which rolls over the giant rat, sending it screaming to its death. Synergy!

Pieter and Galen move in on the wounded archer, dispatching him with teamwork (and steel).

After dispatching two more archers, a swarm of rats and six more archers appear on the roof of the cloister above Barney.

The trio of heroes quickly rush into the doorway the giant wererat burst forth from a few moments earlier to seek shelter from the archers, leaving the flaming sphere to clean up the last archer (The room is a 30’ by 15’ dormitory room, with beds recently occupied by someone…)

Rats start swarming down from the ceiling of the cloister as the heroes regroup in the dormitory and ponder their next move…

They soon head through a doorway to the north and into a large, 15’ by 50’ store room, full of empty and destroyed barrels and crates and some rotting food that avoided the rats. The sound of hordes of rats scratching at the doors can be heard outside either of the two doors leading out of the room.

We retreat into the storeroom and barricade the door to the cloister. Pieter quickly searches the floors to find a set of loose floorboards, which conceal a large trapdoor (about 8’ tall). Just as in the shed, this piece of carved wood adorned with Bahamut is untouched, despite visible scratching and gnawing marks around the outside of the trap door. Pieter (unaligned) is unable to open the door, but when Galen (good aligned) tries it, it opens easily, (Peiter and Barney glance at each other to share a small roll of their eyes) revealing stairs leading down to an illuminated basement with a magical, divine aura illuminating the place.

The heroes descend into the basement, and close the door behind us to (hopefully) keep out the rats — of both unusual and traditional size…

The small basement (10’ by 15’) is an armory! It appears to be where the monks of the Abbey kept their arms and armor before selling them. The walls are lined with heavy shields (12 of them), blue with a silver dragon (Bahamut) emblem. There is an arch filled with priestly scrolls. One barrel of ale! Two suits of chain armor. A wooden box containing four potions of a clear liquid. And another corner contains a bundle of strange looking torches. All of is at least faintly divinely magical. The shields appear to be tempered of some kind of metal that is extremely strong and extremely light.

Pieter and Galen bundle the chainmail into their packs. Each of the three heroes strap a shield to their backs and Pieter swaps out his current shield for one of the Bahamut shields. We split up the 15 torches amongst our packs as well. Barney packs up the scrolls into his scroll case and takes the box of potions. Barney lashes four more shields together and uses mage hand to levitate them along with us.

Galen lights one of the magical torches, which burns an intensely bright flame (too bright to look at the center, like a magnesium torch). Barney lights a torch as well, and we prepare to fight our way back out of the Abbey.

We enter a new room outside the store room, using the torches to keep at bay the horde of rats that occupy pretty much the entire room, moving slowly through the room, all Indiana Jones style…

We open the door back into the cloister’s antechamber into the face of a small-ish wererat. Pieter bashes the surprised wererat in the face with his new shield, easily killing the minion, who drops a scroll as he falls (Pieter snags the scroll as he moves past).

The heroes press through another mass of rats, keeping them at bay with the torches. We scramble over the rubble back into the main chapel room. Galen and Barney hold the rats at bay as Pieter works furiously to clear the debris from in front of the main doorway. After a tense couple of minutes, we exit the Abbey.

As we move away from the abbey, a couple of archers begin to shoot at the heroes, but we quickly dash out of range (as quickly as we can given the encumbering loot we have boosted from the ruined Abbey).

The heroes eventually make their way back to Greenwitch, thankful to be free of the rats and excited to determine the value of their new loot…

REWARDS

  • 590 XP each
  • Two suits of chainmail +1, equivalent to Dwarven Armor (in PHP: allows one daily free action: regain hit points as if you had spent a healing surge), but LVL 3 so worth 680 gp.
  • Eight shields which function as a heavy shield +1 that also function as a Symbol of Hope +1 (priest power daily, immediate reaction, use when you or an ally is hit by an effect that has save to end, you or ally get +5 on save to end). Plus, anyone wearing the shield on their person, even if not equipped, gains the +1 bonus to their AC. (Can’t use in conjunction with another shield). Also feels to the wearer as if it is extremely light, just 5 pounds rather than 15.
  • Several level one divine scrolls.
  • 13 torches that burn twice as long and twice as brightly as regular torches. Works like a sunrod, but brighter. Sheds bright light out to a radius of 20 squares for four hours before burning out. Burns extremely brightly, like a magnesium torch, shedding mild aligned divine aura as well.
  • Two Potions of Resistance LVL 4 (AV p188) – drink as minor action to gain resist 5 to damage of a specific type until end of encounter.
  • Two Potions of Healing (PHP p255)

With the exception of the two Potions of Healing, which Galen and Barney keep for their own kits, and two of the shields, which Galen and Pieter put to use, the rest of the gear is stored in a new room the heroes purchase as the storehouse for their growing armory.

Ruined abbey

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August 13th, 2011
Into the Tombwood!

Players:

SETUP

Pieter Quinn and Rebecca of Kelemvor arrive in town and head to the TGIF. There they are introduced to Galen and decide to venture forth to the Tombwood to explore the area and assess the rumors of a malevolent force in the area, presumed to be undead.

Pieter converses with local townsfolk and businessmen to ask them about the Wood. They tell him that five adventurers were sent out by the town to clear the Tombwood and recover it from the dark forces there, but none returned. The townsfolk have given up on the Wood and abandoned it fully now. They wish us luck, but clearly don’t think our chances are that good.

INTO THE WOOD

As we enter the Evergreen Wood north of town, the woods become darker and the needles a deeper green. The color of the trees becomes increasingly dark, almost black, as the canopy of the forest gets denser. Our once easy track becomes little more than a deer run, as nettles and brambles close in on us as well. Lovely place.

As we get into Tombwood proper, the game path we follow completely disappears, leaving us in a mess of blackberries and nettles and dark pines. If there ever was an official entrance, where the people of Greenwitch took a funeral precession, there is no sign of it now. The going becomes slow, even for the Eladrin Galen.

Eventually, a few hours past mid-day, we make our way to a small clearing surrounded by dense forest and underbrush. We decide to rest there for a break, and decide if we’re going to head back to town before nightfall, or spend a night in the Tombwood. The woods around us seem odd. As the wind blows through their branches, they seem to sway in the wind a moment too late…

THE FIRST ENCOUNTER – A SURPRISE STIRGE ATTACK

Pietr soon spots something in the branches, maybe the size of a cat or squirrel, move quickly from one branch to another. We all look up and barely make out a small form of something on one of the branches, some kind of animal. Galen investigates and recognizes it as a Stirge (a quasi-demonic mosquito with four arms the size of a small dog!). The Stirge notices it’s been spotted and flys to attack!

Using advantageous tactics, the trio quickly dispatches the disgusting Stirge without taking damage.

THE MAUSOLEUM

After the encounter, Galen climbs to the top of the nearest large tree. It’s increasingly difficult to see into the forest to the north. But through the trees, he barely makes out either a big grey boulder or perhaps the side of some stone structure, somewhere to north, perhaps 45 mins journey. Galen then leads the party through the dense woods to find this possible structure.

Eventually they arrive to find it is indeed a structure, not a natural stone. We see the corner of a grey stone building. There was once a clearing here, but not the forest and undergrowth has encroached right up to the building, sometimes growing up the building’s side. The plants here are unsettlingly dark and seem to move on their own, not with the wind…

The building is a large mausoleum or crypt. Despite being covered in sinister dark vegetation, the building still looks stately and regal. Even to Galen’s untrained eye, the building is clearly well constructed and beautifully designed, a work of real craft. Despite it’s abandoned state, it is has not decayed or crumbled at all. Above a large stone open doorway lies an inscription in Dwarven script (Rebecca deciphers that it says something about the “Stonebeard” clan of dwarves, and Pietr’s historical knowledge tells him that the Stonebeards are a clan that is widespread in the area, who helped build structures when the peoples first started to settle this area. They are one of the top stonemason families in the world).

Inside the open doorway is pitch black, but we enter with a torch lit.

We enter a room roughly 20 ft wide by 35 feet deep. The walls are smooth stone up to five feet, after which protruding stone columns are carved into the wall by skilled stonemasons to add a decorative element. The floor is perfectly smooth. There is a large bronze statue of a dwarf at the back of the room, standing in front of a large closed metal door. The statue holds a mace as if it were guarding a door, and it sits very closely in front of the door, making it difficult to move past it to get into the door.

There are six torchstands recessed into the stone in the room. Rebecca begins lighting all six torches, and after lighting the last of the torches…

SECOND ENCOUNTER – A CLAY GUARDIAN

A small, stout looking, vaguely dwarven shaped grey homonculus guardian guy thing (“Clay Scout”) silently and stealthily charges towards Rebecca! At the same time, a swarm of three Stirges swoop in from the trees outside. They must have been trailing the party for some time, now taking this moment to attack as we are off guard. [Drop Initiative!] After a fairly prolonged fight between both the Stirges and the clay guardian, the adventurers prevail, with a few scratches and some lost blood (Rebecca). We rest up and recover after our victory, tending to wounds, before investigating the door and statue further.

EXPLORING DEEPERTHE CRYPT

The statue is made of iron and is resting on pedestal that doesnt appear to be bolted to the floor. The door is also iron. Neither are rusted. Galen realizes that the statue is actually an Iron Defender. The three heroes team up to slide the inactive Iron Defender out of the way of the door. While heavy, it slides smoothly across the floor, rather than scraping, as if on a pad of felt or something. So far, it doesn’t activate…

We open the door, which opens easily, and enter another room with well-crafted stone walls, 40 ft wide by 25 ft deep. Torches line the room again. There is some rubble in the two back corners of the room, and two large sarcophagi in the center of the room. At the back is an altar of some kind.

When we close the door behind us, we see that it can be braced with three solid iron-wrapped wooden planks at different levels, to solidly bar the door. As we explore the room, we see that the two sarcophagi are actually open at the top and empty of corpses, weapons or other items, besides a few scraps of parchment. The coffins once had occupants, but they are no where to be found now… (animated? stolen? who knows… eerie).

We see the skeleton of an orc lying at the back of the room (inanimate). It’s been dead for at least 10 years. Cause of death likely blunt trauma to the head (the skull is cracked in).

The altar features the pantheon of Dwarven gods. The kind of standard burial markings for a tomb, consistent with the burial traditions of dwarven culture. A very small chest carved of stone lies at the center of the altar as well (a little larger than a box of playing cards).

Some of the pieces of rubble have a decorative filigree on it that looks like it once was on the walls of the room. There’s some kind of pattern to the filigree, perhaps of a ritual significance. We work collectively to reconstruct the pattern (puzzle time!). It appears to be a map of some kind, not an accurate map, but more of the representational variety. It could be of the surrounding area, but we’re not sure. Using each piece of rubble, we only see about 2/3rds of the original surface of the map. The rest of it isnt in the room.

Inside the stone box lies two rubies, exquisitely carved, perhaps worth 200-500 gold each. Too tempting to leave behind, Rebecca picks them up to take with us. As she picks them up, the bottom of the chest lowers slowly by an inch, then settles into place.

THE THIRD ENCOUNTERGRAVE ROBBERS’ KARMA IS A BITCH

As Pieter looks for a piece of rubble of similar weight to the rubies that we may be able to put back in to reset whatever mechanism was triggered, all of the torches in the room go out! Plunged into the pitch dark, we DROP INITIATIVE as we hear a loud clanging of metal as it sounds like the three bars on the door falling aside to the floor.

As we relight our torches, the light reveals the Iron Guardian, standing in front of Galen and poised to attack…

Utilizing heroic force — Pieter Led the Charge and Galen scored 2 crits on his daily power (Jaws of the Wolf)! — and tactical strategery, the team quickly and easily dispatches the Iron Defender, despite his apparent badassness (100+ HP)…

WRAPPING UP

The heroes made a copy of the map from the wall fragments, using an ash imprint on some of the paper in the area. After a creepy night spent locked securely in the tomb, we head back to town through the deep forest. Back in town, we sold the rubies and collected 350 gold each (well deserved rewards!).

REWARDS
-350 gold each
-375 XP
-No major items.

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April 3rd, 2011
Brickallistor's Farm

Players

Characters meet at the TGI,F in Greenwich where Galen and Barney are staying. #27B joins them. All three agree to explore a recently abandoned farm to the SW of Greenwich. Rumor has it the Brickallistor family recently left the farm on account of increased wolf activity that we destroying livestock. There are also whispers of a great treasure that lies below the farm.

The following morning the party left for the farm, at first following a trail that closely paralleled the Emerald River until it forked where N and S Emerald River meet. At this point we traveled a wagon trail leading S through a wooded area, and next to a small, seemingly seasonal creek. At some point the trail crossed the creek – where we came upon and saw a large wolf. Galen’s keen sense of nature noted that while large for it’s size, it was not out of the range of possibility for a natural creature – Barney noted a hint of magic about the creature. 27B just wanted to know if he should terminate it. His party disuaded him.

After crossing the creek, the Wolf kept pace with the party, never acting aggressively but seemingly keeping watch on the adventurers. When the clearing where farm fields were and the Ranch-Style house sat was reached – the Wolf ran SE and disappeared. He or She was not seen the rest of the day.

After trying a locked door that would be difficult to fix if broken, 27B tried to bust through the roof while Galen and Barney opted to smash a window to get into the locked house. Close inspection found a secret passageway leading to a portion of the farm that was obviously abandoned for much longer than the house – likely 100’s of years vs a few months. The passageway lead down into a narrow hall to a room at the end with what at first seemed nothing but bare walls and a big cement block in the middle. Realizing this was an illusion, Barney began to describe what he could see – which was in fact a room holding a large Wizards orb on top of the block. Barney sensed it was an orb of great power, but not for battle – likely one of wisdom, knowledge and history. Probably famous and valuable in some wizardry circles.

Unable to remove the orb from its mount, the party continued through a door at the end of the room which led to another narrow set of stairs and into a large room with three inanimate Golem – Homunculus Iron-Defenders to be specific, all of which were facing away from this entrance. At this point, doors all seemed to be lockable from our side, as if to prevent people from coming in the opposite direction we were heading.

Upon crossing the Golem they sprang to life and we battled and defeating them. There were three sets of double doors off this room, two sets lead to rooms that were picked through for a few valuables – the third to a huge tunnel with an underground river running through it. At this point 27B went back to town for supplies and Galen and Barney traveled on for another hour or so upriver, and found nothing after 40 minutes. Opting to call it a day – the two also returned to the city (on the way out fixing the window, roof and floor damage they and 27B had caused getting in). Trinkets were sold, gold was equally distributed.

For more details see Abandoned Farm.

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