After two weeks of not playing, we return with Laughing Fox, his two Chickasaw warriors, Laurentius the Cleric, Mark Tarvar, Longshakes, and Oldvay the Mage. They decided to set out to one of the abandoned mines in the western section of the map, The Lowland Hills. But let's back up and go over a few things first. First up, back in early Feburary I believe, I put up a hook about how no one in Pottsfort had heard of John Molan and his mining crew in some months. John had one main mine in the south of the Lowland Hills and had decided to reopen an abandon mine in the northern part of same region. Then months go by and...nothing. Mayor Tallwood becoming concerned let word go out that he was looking for anyone who could go to the mines and find out what's become of John Molan. One man answered the call. The mighty warrior Kothar and his twelve Krulls (think knockoff Beowulf and his twelve Danes but with a knockoff Conan name.) Kothar hails from Krullsway, and was once served as captain of the King of Ieston's Guard. Kothar is also a patron. Of sorts. Like Ruthless Bill, Kothar really isn't a high level domain ruler settled to one place like that of Duran Durin, Wirror Warrens, and a couple of unknown patrons that currently reside on the Red Frontier map. Instead he's more of a rival party of sorts. But instead of being controlled by me, he's played by another player. When coming up with patrons for my game, I didn't just want some domain level patrons that could give PCs quests. I also wanted some mid level patrons that were more like adventures that could possibly rival and even effect the game the same way players could. Not all movers and shakers need to be high level lords and what not.
So during the last little awhile, Kothar took his men to the north mine. The first time was a bit of wash due to him never making it there. Instead, he fell upon a group of ogres. Though prevailing against such giant brutes, one of his men became permanently crippled. He returned to Pottfort and told his tale of ogre bashing. A few days later, Kothar left out once more and this time made it to the mine. Almost there he found a pack of wolves gnawing on a dwarven corpse. He quickly put down the canines and followed the dwarf's blood trail. It lead directly to the mine. One thing was unusual about the dwarf. He had a rope tied to his leg.
Arriving at the mine, Kothar went through the adjoining buildings one by one, not finding anyone home. Or alive. Instead he found a journal from the Bodlum the Dwarf, Molan's second in command. Seems Molan requested Boldum's aid for the southern mine. They had found something big and needed all the help he could spare. Bodlum set out south with most of his crew, but left two of his sons to guard the mine while he was away. Kothar delved into the mine with his men. Eventually making to the large northernmost chamber they saw on a map, they encountered a nest of sleeping trolls. Kothar lead his men back out and decided to set a trap. He began to set the outside buildings that connected to the hill where the mine was located aflame. Then, he and a few of his men quickly ran back into the mine to purposefully awake the slumbering trolls. Once aroused, the trolls soon followed the humans back to the entrance. Kothar and his men dashed out of the burning buildings, and the trolls were soon consumed in the raging inferno. None survived.
Once the flames died down, Kothar went back in once more. This time he found the trolls nest empty, except for their treasure and the remains of a dwarf. Along a wall, there was a cut and bloody rope bound to a steak placed into the wall...After this, Kothar returned to Pottsfort with his loot and his tale of the trolls demise.
Not long after, Wirrow Warrens, with things around the Bloated Badger being fairly quiet, and catching the bug of adventure like most hobbits of his stripe, decided to head out to the southern mine. He took ten of his best hobbits with him, including his uncle Wirriam the Cleric. This was on Wednesday, the 13th. Going on foot due to a distrust of horses, Wirror and his compatriots arrived at the southern mine on midday Friday, not long till dusk. Hot on his trails were brave and hardy players. They themselves left the Bloated Badger Friday morning and arrived there at dusk. Finally there, the met up with Wirrow and looking about the buildings connected to the mine, they find no one. But they do find signs of struggle. And old blood. A lot of old blood. A map of the mine and it's floors were also found. They also took a look at the journal of John Molan that Wirrow found earlier.
Of note, they found some of the entries to be helpful: "While mining, we broke into an entrance, one that had steps going down. We began exploring and mining, finding large quantities of gold." Another: "I've begun to hear whispering. I've sent word to Bodlum in the north mine for help. Every hand that can be spared."
"The whispering is compelling me to go further. Five of my men have gone missing. Maybe it's the sasquatches lurking. Doesn't matter, we have to keep digging. He's calling me. And his daughters."
"More men go missing, but Bodlum has arrived and seeing the piles of gold, is eager to get started."
"SUCCESS!!! They found the Black Door! It's cold now. We've found him! And his beautiful daughters!"
"All will be his."
Our party, with Wirror and five of his men, set out to plunder the black depths of the mine. Before heading to the second floor, the party headed to northeastern chamber on the first level. The map indicated that there was some sort of fountain at the back of the room. After a few turns, the party found themselves in the middle of the chamber. Instead of the dry and dusty hallways of the mine, this chamber was wet. Walls slick with water. Puddles on the floor. And dripping from the ceiling. They saw the fountain at the back wall. It was ancient. It appeared to have ornate designs of bronze frogs imbedded along its pedestal. Stepping closer, the party saw a large grey bubble emerge from the closest puddle. It became elongated and tried to attack the party. The hobbits and others slung bullets from slings, arrows from bows, and even a dagger. While most of the missile fire had some effect on the oozy creature, the flask of burning oil had no effect; it merely shuddered it off. Not long after, the party retreated back past the door while the oozed lunged forward towards them. It quickly recoiled after emerging into the drier air. Seeing this, the party once again continued their attacks and finally slayed the grey blob.
Returning into the chamber, they soon approached the fountain. It's water was a clear blue, and a small spout of water in the center kept it from being totally placid. Laughing contacted the spirits of his ancestors for guidance on what to do. They didn't prove helpful. None of heroes were brave enough to drink from the fountain, but Laughing Fox did collect some in a vial. The party finally left and headed down to the level beneath. And immediately had to make saving throws against spells. Some passed. Others failed. Those that failed began to hear a man whispering in their head. A man wanting them to come closer. That he needed their help. And they heard the voices of young women as well. Wirrow began to urge the party forward, that they needed to help these poor souls. Confused, the ones who didn't hear anything shrugged and soldiered on. The shafts and chambers became colder and colder as the went along. And the whisperings become closer and louder.
Finally, the group reached an opened large black stone door. An orange unholy light greeted them. Inside they say a large chamber with several black marble columns thirty feet high. And braziers with orange, hellish flames. They tread on a floor of black stone tiles. The whispering had stopped. Not far off, they saw a ledge that dropped off into the back part of the abyssal chamber. They found a set of ebony steps leading down. More columns greeted them. On the other side of those columns were six shallow pits. And at the end of the chamber sat an ancient altar decorated with demonic bats and other creatures from Hell. And upon that altar laid a large stone coffin.
Before approaching the coffin, the party explored the chamber and found inside the pits were corpses of men and dwarf. And those corpses began to stir. Flasks of oil were thrown, and both Laurentius and Wirriam used turn undead on the waking cadavers. Success! Many began to flee around the chamber, only to hit the walls that enclosed them. The adventures, with the help of the hobbits, made short work on the zombies. And then the lid of the coffin began to slid open with pale, white, elongated fingers reaching out. The source of the whispering had awoken. As quickly as those ancient appendages poked through that hellmade room, Laughing Fox threw a vial of holy water and hit the hand with full force. It began to burn and the players that they could hear a man scream out in agony. But he taunted them, and said it wouldn't be enough! Soon both Laurentius and Wirriam once more used turn undead, but both failed. Their power was not enough to ward off that undead demon. Out of nowhere, three swarms of rats emerged from black mists and set upon the party. And our vampire came fully forth out his coffin, ancient, pale, adorned in a black cloak and ancient plate armor and eyes that glowed blue hate.
The party realizing they were in over their heads, began to run away. Unfortunately, Wirriam was dragged down and eaten by one of the swarms of rats. Laughing Fox picked up Wirrow and carried him on his back. Another hobbit was placed on Oldvay's wardog Conan. After being bitten by a swarm, Longshanks managed to get up and flee. And so did the others. Before he could get out, Laughing Fox was attacked by the vampire, who had let them know he was called Caln and had intentions on feasting on their blood along with his daughters. Vampires, like most undead, drain their levels once physical contact is made. And being a vampire, according to ACKS rules, he will take twice as much. And so before escaping his attack, Laughing Fox was drained two levels. Scary stuff here folks. Scary stuff indeed. After escaping Caln's grasp, Laughing Fox and the others ran out of the chamber, and emerging behind them, not in his human form, but in the form of a giant bat, Caln gave pursuit.
It was a good ways back to the entrance of the mine and the party had to take many sharp turns getting there and with a viscous vampire on their heels, it wasn't going to be easy. Now, ACKS has some rules for evasion. One in particular is about making hard turns: