Barrowmaze Session Three played in three hours...
Only two of the usual four players attended today, so the participants hired three men-at-arms from the mercenary guild to bolster their strength. To speed things up, I reasoned their past battles in the bog had so thinned the “wandering monster” population along their well-worn path that they need not check this time. My players, both lifelong role-players, welcomed the expedient and didn’t bother to socialize in the town or examine other mounds; they just wanted to get back “into the dungeon.” We had a blast!
Once underground, they retraced their steps to area 20 and jumped off from there to explore these areas in the order indicated: 23b, 19c, 19d, 23a, 23c, 23d, 23, 26, 26Q3, 26D2, 26Q1, 22, 24, 25, 19, 19a, 19b, 14, 18, 16, 59c, 39 pit trap, 74g, 72, 71, and 70.
The action started with fighting six mongrel men in 23b. One player and one man-at-arms went down (0 hit points), unconscious vice dead since they made their death saves (house rule). The team, however, managed to defeat the mongrels and followed the one who fled to find the secret passage to 19c and d where they recovered the spider silk cloak and +1 cudgel from Hildras Forestgreen’s crypt. They pressed on only to meet six more mongrels via a random encounter. That second showdown killed a man-at-arms and brought the still-conscious players dangerously close to zero hit points; so, the dwarven cleric dished out some cure light wounds and the party went back to town for recovery. That’s when the elf kicked himself for forgetting to use his sleep spell!
After recovery in town, and hiring another meat shield, the party returned to where they had left off. They pried the gems from the ceiling in 26 and recovered the loot, including a potion of strength, in 26q1, before defeating the crypt shades in 26d2. Nobody uttered “Demetra” in 26q3 so they skipped the “final conversation” replay, but found the dead tomb robbers and understood what happened anyway. A surprise attack by grey ooze in 24 missed a man-at-arms so the team quickly dispatched that threat, found the cheap diamond, and opted to pass on the hard-to-pry silver patterns. Breaking down the bricked-up wall to 25 yielded a gold holy symbol, silver earnings, and small topaz for some much needed monetary treasure! By transiting 19a and b the party closed the loop and realized they had made a big U turn to rediscover their earlier path. Somewhere in there, can’t remember exactly where, they found and read a runic tablet that revealed the history of the Tablet of Chaos so the party now understands the deeper plot behind the dungeon.
Then on to unexplored tunnels. They explored empty 18, but came back and the elf accidentally (1 in 6) found the secret door to 16 where they recovered the magic arrows and two potions of healing. After a brief probe into the rubble of 59c, they backtracked and broke down the barrier to 39. A quick jaunt down the hallway saw one man-at-arms fall into a pit of teleportation that sent him to 74g. Shocked by his sudden disappearance the party dangled a rope down there and quickly deduced what had happened. So, the dwarf passed through the portal to get his charge and the elf followed. That put everyone in 74g.
The skeleton at 74g killed the man-at-arms (first on the scene), but later fell to the players who scooped up his magic chainmail and sword. Although victorious, the players were greatly alarmed since they were now “somewhere” in the dungeon and did not know how to get out. They tacked east and south in search of their former path, avoiding burial alcoves and detours along the way. They eventually found the statue of Nergal at 70, and one of them stumbled into the green slime pit. Quick thinking and team work meant his magic chain mail was the only casualty to the green menace. They searched one burial alcove to recover a single +1 spear head along with some more monetary treasure. That’s where we left off with the team stranded without knowledge of how to get back out.
They immediately started talking about the next session, a good sign that this one went well. Alas the holidays are upon us so that might change the usual pattern.