Sunday, July 24, 2011

[Labyrinth Lord] Stonehell Dungeoneers: Seventh Expedition

Seventh Expedition (July 24, 2011)
The party returned from the Sixth Expedition with a total of 370 gp value in copper funerary items and gems. They spent several days resting and recuperating while preparing for the next expedition. Medium-Veteran Albert Fairbreeze and Veteran Rost the Dwarf were called away for other business, but Exior the Mysterious and Medium Jace du Rush were able to rejoin the party, while three new members were recruited, bringing the total party number up to an even dozen, plus two hirelings:

Bravo-Prestidigitator Exior the Mysterious (m elf 1st level Assassin/1st level Illusionist)
Medium-Veteran Smoke Cloud (f elf 1st level Warrior-Mage)
Scout Raylin the Outcast (m half-elf 3rd level Ranger) with his hound Cur
Acolyte Him, Cleric of Somebody Somewhere (m human 1st level Cleric)
Medium Jace du Rush (m elf 1st level Magic-user)
Acolyte Fin Thorbergr, Cleric of the Dwarf Gods (m dwarf 1st level Cleric)
Veteran Dane Gerous (m human 1st level Fighter)
Veteran Wulfgar the Stout (m dwarf 1st level Fighter)
Veteran Jalden of Iron Mountain (m human 1st level Fighter)
Apprentice Quickleaf (m halfling 1st level Thief)
Warrior Margit the Halfling (f halfling 2nd level Warrior) with her dogs Rufus and Blake
Medium-Veteran Ellan the Elf (f 1st elf level Warrior-Mage)
Galen the Link Boy
Latimer the Pack Boy

The party, together with 10 hired guards, arrived at Stonehell with no troubles. The guards were left topside to guard the horses and wagon, while the 12 adventurers and their hirelings went once again into the depths. Having poured over the maps in the previous week, it had been decided to explore the southern corridors of the catacombs, with the hope to find a further connection back into the central body of the dungeons, that there would be a second escape route to the stairs to the outer world…

Thus continuing south down the north-south catacomb corridor, the party discovered an effective “T” in the route; the one to the right was followed, and was quickly discovered to end in a pair of stone doors covered with writing in Kobold, “Kobold Neutral Ground.” When the doors were opened, it was discovered that the short corridor beyond ended in a small room, blocked off by a gate. Debris was strewn about the room, and further writing on the walls in Kobold spelled “Bad Juju;” whether it was this or the lack of interesting debris is unknown, but it was decided to return to the corridor and investigate the other branch of the T rather than enter the Bad Juju Room to check out the door on the eastern wall.

The other corridor led to a large room, wherein was seen a stone bridge crossing a deep pit filled with nasty, stagnant water; the water contained rotting bits of flesh. Quickleaf and Jalden quickly crossed the stone bridge, the thief having declared it free of traps; unfortunately, before the dwarves could move up and check the quality of the stone, Raylin crossed and discovered that it crumbled beneath him! Fortunately Cur was already past the bridge when it crumbled; down went the ranger. To his horror, he found that the water was filled with horrible grubs living in the rot; these quickly burrowed into his legs! Jalden pulled him up with a rope, and Quickleaf quickly applied the tried and true anti-grub weapon: burning fire, and lots of it! Fortunately, the fire killed the grubs before it killed the ranger.

After much debate, a rope bridge was built across which Him the Cleric crossed the pit; he healed the ranger of most of his burns. Only Ellan was brave enough to cross to join the portion of the party on the other side. It was decided, after consulting the maps, that the two groups would meet in the Grand Chamber of Flesh and Bone, for it was apparent that (ideally) the southern east-west corridor would eventually meet up with the exit south of the Grand Chamber.

The far-side group (Raylin, Quickleaf, Him, Ellan, and Jalden) quickly made their way down the corridor; they encountered many doors, and Quickleaf stopped at each to listen. In one he heard voices, and in another he heard stirrings. Their trip to the Grand Chamber was otherwise uneventful.

Unfortunately for the near-side group (Wulfgar, Dane, Margit, Jace, Fin, Exior, Smoke Cloud, Galen, and Latimer) when they neared the Ruined Temple they discovered that their stakes had been uprooted and the door closed; when opened, five skeletons attacked! However, Wulfgar and Dane were in the front and made quick work of the things. They continued on, once again staking open the doors behind them (fortunately, as it turned out), and made their way into the Grand Chamber. There they took up a defensive position in the corner, as they had in the previous expedition, and waited for their comrades to join them. They didn’t have long to wait, and the party was reunited (and it felt so good).

Filling the near-side party in on their discoveries of the many doors in the southern corridor, it was decided to go with a “Doing Dong Ditch” plan, wherein the party would ready themselves in a gauntlet oriented toward the southern entry and the fastest member of the party would kick down one of the doors and run through… drawing the monsters into the gauntlet of death!

The plan worked quite well the first two times, with three skeletons and then three ghouls being quickly and efficiently disposed of, with Quickleaf as the bait. Exior decided to be the bait on the third try, and as they say, the third time is the charm… as he readied himself to kick in the door on the southern side of the corridor, the door opposite on the northern side of the corridor opened and out stepped several black-robed men! Surprised, they grabbed him and stabbed him through the heart with their wavy daggers before he could even scream!

The sound of the scuffle carried, though, to the readied adventurers, but even as they rounded the corner to help their friend they heard his death rattle, his life-blood pooling around him. They saw the door close, and before the cultists were able to barricade it, Raylin and Wulfgar had burst it down and were engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The others piled in behind them, and three of the cultists were down in quick order, with Wulfgar laughing off the leader’s mystical cry for him to “Die!”

“Surrender now and we’ll kill you quickly and mercifully!” Wulfgar shouted… and surprisingly, surrender they did! They were tied up, and the leader, obviously a cleric of some unpleasant deity, was gagged. Raylin questioned the other cultist, fruitlessly, as was apparently more afraid of his master than of the ranger; he was quickly gutted and dropped to the ground, dead.

They then carefully questioned the cleric, who told him that the cultists were in the dungeons looking for someone named “Malfrecles Nauld (?),” apparently a powerful being, seeking to get him to join their cult. He would say no more, and thus being a dwarf of his word, Wulfgar quickly and mercifully slit his throat.

In the cult’s lair they discovered an unfortunate fellow trussed up in a corner; this was Veteran-Prestidigitator Mijiltur the Elf (m Elf 1st level Fighter/1st level Illusionist), who claimed to have been the last remaining survivor of another party of adventurers who stumbled upon the cult. He was asked, “You remind us of our slain friend. Would you care to join us?” And he did.

At first underwhelmed by the cultist’s 32 electrum pieces, they were better rewarded by the discovery of two healing potions and, potentially, a magic item, when it was realized that the cult leader’s staff might be a snake staff! They also took the daggers, mace, unholy symbol, and the black robe of the leader, to perhaps use later in a disguise, if necessary.

After looting the cultists the party decided to try the “old way” on the door that Exior died trying to open; to their chagrin, they discovered it was the lair of 10 giant rats. After much grinding, slicing, and dicing (during which Jalden earned the epithets “Mr. Meat Snack” and “Tasty Bacon”), the rats were dead. It was decided to finally loot the three rooms; the rat room contained dead rats and rat feces, the skeleton room was empty, and the ghoul room had several sarcophagi, one of which was filled with 200 platinum pieces!

Wulfgar thought it was best to leave at this point; most were wounded, a few badly so, and most of the cure spells of the clerics were long used. 2000 gp in platinum was a worthy treasure! But no, it was decided to try at least one more door…

It’s ALWAYS that door too far, isn’t it?

The party fortunately went back to the Ding Dong Ditch tactic for the fourth room… when Mijiltur (“He of the 19 Dex”) kicked in this door and ran, something… very… bad… followed. A black cloud of clicking, buzzing beetles, a huge swarm of flesh-eating scarabs!

Everyone else was confused at the sound and the sight of the black cloud, but Wulfgar, who, prior to his days as an adventurer worked as a bear-baiter and animal trainer, knew a Bad Thing when he saw one. “RUN!” was all he cried as he bolted, dragging the torch boy and pack boy with him. And the party ran… though only most of them followed him. Raylin, Jalden, Quickleaf, Jace, and Fin ran to the north-western exit, while the others followed Wulfgar to the south-western exit closest to the known exits. He and the main party made a beeline for the Ruined Temple, where they pulled up the stake and slammed the door shut behind them…

The others had rather more trouble, as the swarm descended on them (karma, really, as they thought that being the smaller group, the bugs would follow the OTHER guys); droves of beetles ripped bits of flesh off of them, the unarmored Jace and Cur the Dog taking the worst of it. As they decided finally to follow Wulfgar’s lead, they turned down the corridor paralleling the Grand Chamber and out popped four zombies from secret alcoves! Desperate battle ensued. Fin turned three of the zombies; Jace and Raylin took the opportunity to flee further down the corridor after the zombies, while Quickleaf and Jalden were stuck fighting the fourth. The beetles followed the ranger and magic-user; Jace fell under the bites of countless beetles, and Raylin fled back into the Grand Chamber when he saw the door had been slammed shut!

The swarm followed Raylin; the rest of the party, in the Ruined Temple, counted heads and realized they were missing several companions! Said companions, minus Raylin, made their way to the Ruined Temple, and there again encountered the zombies cowering against the door; they made short work of these, then pounded on the door begging exit. Raylin fled into the Room of Dead Rats, slamming the door behind him just in time to cut off the swarm…

The rest of the party was allowed in the Ruined Temple, quickly, and then they waited a while to see if Raylin would follow. Soon he did, as he cautiously checked the door to see if the swarm had left, which it had. He then ran at speed to the Ruined Temple, and gained entrance, dragging the stripped bones of Jace behind him.

It was decided, finally, it was time to leave! The trip out of the dungeon and back to Shady Hollow was uneventful…

Monster Slain: 8 Rot Grubs, 8 Skeletons, 3 Ghouls, 5 Cultists, 10 Giant Rats, and 4 Zombies.
Treasures Won: 32 ep, 200 pp, two potions of healing, and a snake-headed staff that MIGHT be magical; also recovered 2100 gp in gems and 185 gp from Exior’s body and 76 gp from Jace’s body. Ellan paid the party 402 gp for Jace’s spell book, and Mijiltur paid the party 200 gp for Exior’s spell book. Total Value: 4,998 gp.
XP Gained: 2,668 total
Comrades Lost: Exior the Mysterious (Cut down by Cultists), Jace du Rush (Eaten Alive by Beetle Swarm).

Monday, July 18, 2011

[Wilderlands] Wilderlands World Tour

The Selisengard Campaign has been on hiatus for a while, as we've focused on the World Tour Campaign...

Session 4
The Wilderlands World Tour continued last Friday, with a stopover in the Dead City of Harkarim. Following the battle along the strand, Unferth the Thief rejoined the rest of the party and reported on his and Hadrian's encounter with the giant sub-chief at the lighthouse. The party decided that since Hadrian had not returned, something unpleasant likely befell him; as it was likely that there were fewer enemies at the lighthouse than in the ruins, they felt they might as well check into his situation at the ruined lighthouse...

There they discovered that the sub-chief was not the only occupant of the lighthouse, as four savages threw javelins at them from the ruined walls. A sleep spell from Zoe the Enchantress quickly took care of them, while battle was joined between the sub-chief, several other savages, and the party. In the end, the party triumphed again, and another of the saw-toothed blades was taken as booty by Jem the Warrior. Altogether with the treasure of the other savages from earlier, they had gathered two saw-toothed blades, many stone-tipped javelins, more than a dozen shell necklaces, and two gem-and-shell necklaces that the rogues guessed were worth upwards of 400 gp each.

After defeating the savage giants, they found Hadrian, much bruised, unconscious, and tied up, just about where Unferth had left him. They also found many rough-built wharves, and far out at sea, could see many fishing boats, with men (giants? men? could not tell at this distance) casting nets...

They bandaged his wounds and slapped him awake; as they did this, others of the party searched the ruined lighthouse, and discovered the four other sleeping savages; one had fallen into the collapsed portion of the lighthouse and died from the fall, while the other three had their throats unceremoniously slit by the careful adventurers. Rafael Wulfsson, Zoe's barbaric brother, discovered a secret door, long forgotten, at the base of the lighthouse near the wall...

Down into the secret stair the group went; down, and down, and down again, deep beneath the ground, until they came to a long-unused bronze-covered door. A careful search by the thieves found the simple stone-block mechanism that would have dropped upon less wary heads, and Hadrian stopped up the switch after carefully prying away the bronze cladding along the doorframe.

Within the unlocked, musty room they found an ancient armory, fit to equip 10 men with ancient Lenapashim-style bronze scale mail, shields, scimitars, and bows; the bows were long rotted away, but the weapons and armor had been well-treated by some miraculous oil that maintained their lustre and strength. Molding sacks at the foot of each kit revealed long rotted grains and rations, as well as a (former) pouch of 20 gp each. The gold coins, of ancient sort, might well be worth 10 times their value to the proper collector!

During their search of the room they discovered another secret door that opened into a long, narrow corridor that apparently ran under the long sea wall, back toward the ruins. Lighting more torches, they made haste through the long tunnel, hoping to come out deep within the ruin in secret, the better to loot whatever treasures the savages might have. After an indeterminate time, they felt a fresh breeze from above; torches revealed a narrow chimney that an unarmored man might climb...

Up went Hadrian and Unferth. Hadrian discovered that the chimney opened into a narrow hole in the wall, that he could just barely squeeze into; from this vantage he had an excellent view of the strand below, where he discovered that several patrols were now crossing in the growing twilight, likely due to the discovery of the slaughtered patrol and the lighthouse garrison! Also, coming from the direction of the lighthouse was a large group of normal-sized men, tied to coffles, being driven and led by three giants armed with javelins and whips...

Finding his hidden vantage point an excellent sniper's cot, Hadrian set to slaying the giant slavers with grins and glee. First one, then the other fell to his bolts; but at the second the third found him, and cast several javelins his way, which narrowly missed him and clattered into the chimney below... desirous not to join the thief in his madness, the rest of the party continued on the tunnel, and though at first Unferth joined them, he thought better of it, and returned, in penance for his abandoning Hadrian at the lighthouse before. The rest of the party then decided to wait...

The last giant slaver charged at Hadrian's spot; rattled at the savagery, his last bolts went wide of their mark, and he dove back into the chimney even as the giant reached into the hole to grab the thief. He flung his dagger at the frothing giant and took him right in the eye, killing him instantly... and plugging the hole with the giant's body! For several minutes he tried to push the body out of the way alone, until Unferth joined him in the cramped chimney. Together they were able to push back the giant's limp form, only to discover that a dozen or more giants had found their slain companions!

Sliding down the roped tied for such an eventuality, Hadrian and Unferth dove out of the way of the dozen javelins that suddenly filled the hole, many of which bounced down the chimney with the thieves as they rapelled down. The pair joined their companions, and the whole lot moved on with speed, the shouts of the giants behind them fading quickly, as the savages had no hope of fitting down the chimney.

After even longer, and nearly running out of torches, they came finally to the end of the tunnel at a large, bronze-shod door. The mighty Jem put his back into his labors, and together with Rafael was able to open the verdigris-covered portal. Beyond they saw a ruined pit, a basement of some sort, filled with broken stone and brick, and covered with ferns and flowers. The wide pit was framed above by thick forest, and in the breaks between boughs they saw stars beyond scudding moons-lit clouds.

Exhausted from their long day's endeavors, they closed the door again and slept in the tunnel...

The next morning they carefully opened the door again and climbed out of the pit. The found themselves amidst the ruined city, south of the great ziggurats, quite near one of the tall black towers. They decided to investigate the tower first, and carefully picked their way down a ruined boulevard, Unferth and Hadrian scouting ahead. The pair had discovered a vine-lined crossroad leading directly to the tower when suddenly and quietly Unferth dove into a nearbny ruined building; he had seen what Hadrian had missed, a patrol of savages coming down the boulevard... and they saw Hadrian at the same moment he saw them! Hadrian drew his crossbow as they shouted war cries and threw their javelins...

And thus ended the session...

Session 3
In the last session of the Wilderlands World Tour, the adventurers awoke on the Black Kali to thunder being created by a cadaverous, liche-like wizard... said wizard floating in midair between the two ships. Claiming to be the protector of the nymphs who were terrified by the attack on the merchants, the wizard demanded recompense... in blood or coin. To emphasize his demand, he burned the prize ship to the water line with a mere wave of his hand...

Quickly, the party decided to turn over their ill-gotten loot, though several less wise warrior types though to fight it out... until reminded that their swords fell short of the wizard's position, and none of them could fly or walk on water. So out spilled a pile of jewels, which the wizard took (along with the yet-to-be enslaved/ransomed merchants) through the expedience of a magical vortex. To add injury to insult, before he left, the wizard turned the captain of the Black Kali into a fish, which flopped about the deck, dying from lack of water, until he was thrown into sea.

"Tis pity," the wizard cackled ere he left, "The fish was of fresh-water sort..."

After this, the adventurers were given quite the evil eye by the remaining crew, who were busy rescuing their comrades who had fled the burning prize ship. They were ordered below while the crew decided on a new captain... and when they returned abovedeck, discovered that they were putting to along the Bitter Shore, where the adventurers were to be abandoned as being "too troublesome."

Given one week's rations, the adventurers were warned not to go south, "as ye value your lives," where they would find the ruins of the Dead City of Harkarim. They were told to go north to Nho, a town of ill-repute, but infinitely better than Harkarim...

Of course, they went south, the Harkarim. En route they had an encounter with a pack of giant weasels, which attepted to suck the blood from their bodies... end result, three fine giant weasel pelts, with the party little worse for wear. Eventually they came to the ruin of a tall wall, which stretched far out to sea; they climbed the tumbled-down ruin, and found to the east a vast city dominated by great pyramids, to the west a silted-in crescent harbor, the ruins of two great cyclopean lighthouses at the far end jutting out to sea. Upon the strand below they saw footprints, to and fro, though of a giant size as to make even the tallest of the adventurers seem small by comparison...

The thieves in the party decided to scout out the lighthouse to the west; they disappeared in the shadowed scree of the fallen wall, while the others took up hidden positions behind the wall to watch... even as the thieves rounded the corner of the lighthouse, a party of a dozen giant savages came into sight from the eastern ruins, running at speed, obviously having spotted the interlopers!

Combat was joined, as even as the party of savages came upon the party's position, the thieves nearly ran into the back of their own singular, though mighty savage, who wielded in a single hand a toothed blade a normal man would be hard-pressed to carry with both hands! One of the rogues thought better of the encounter, and fled, while the less wise fellow remained, thinking speed would outdo savagery...

Short work was made of the dozen savages along the strand, as Zoe the Enchantress confused them with her magical power, weakening the group enough that the remaining adventurers made short work of the lot, including another brute of the sort at the lighthouse, who accidentally took off the head of one of his own warriors! Unfortunately for the remaining rogue, however, his simple rapier was no match for the brute force of the sub-chieftain, who with a grim smile finished off the thief with the pommel of his blade, that he might be taken alive to be sacrificed to the Dark Gods of the Pyramids...

Session 2
Friday's "World Tour" game went very well. We had five players with six characters: Aelphen Fighter (Bastard Sword), Aelphen Fighter (Broad Sword) Aelphen Wizard, Common Viridian Rogue, Vandarian Rogue, and Tharbarres Fighter (Archer). They were onboard the Black Kali, a merchantman out of Lenap running between Targnol Port and Quitzit, when along the shore of Cape Salmo they saw another merchantman at anchor, with Amazon merchants trading jewelry with the orchard nymphs.

Together with the black-hearted captain and crew of the Black Kali, they decided to take the jewelry and the ship. The adventurers went ashore with the First Mate and some of the crew, while the rest of the crew came alongside the Amazon ship to board her. A long, fierce battle could have gone either way, but in the end the adventurers and the reiver crew tirumphed and won a lord's ransom in jewelry and Amazon panoply. The Amazon warriors were put to death (most felled by the wizard's sleep spells), though the merchants were taken, to be ransomed or enslaved as fate would have it...

Thereafter en route to Quitzit near Bitter Bay they encountered giant eagles from the Hoary Mountains (taken as a good omen, as they flew south), and just as they rounded Cape Nho they encountered a giant sea turtle, which was also deemed a good omen, as it was not, in fact, a terrible dragon turtle...

Monday, July 11, 2011

[Labyrinth Lord] Stonehell Dungeoneers Expeditions 1 to 6

I and several friends have had the good fortune over the last several months to have the opportunity to play Labyrinth Lord under the game mastery of Dan Proctor of Goblinoid Games. We meet every other Sunday at Chimera Hobby Shop Appleton. Dan has been running us through Stonehell Dungeon. Here is a recap of the major events of the first six expeditions into the dungeon, previously posted at the Goblinoid Games Forums...

First and Second Expeditions (May 29, 2011)
Five disparate, desperate adventurers ventured into Stonehell Dungeon...

Raylin the Outcast, Half Elf Ranger, nearly died when bitten by a giant rattlesnake, discovered that he was allergic to snake venom. Shot in the back while in melee with skeletons (which, being "not-snakes," he had no fear of). We ended up saving his life by getting him to the local higher-level cleric just in time, but it ended up costing us 1500 gold that we didn't yet have! Robbie: "I swear by the Gods, if anyone shoots a bow into melee again, I. Will. Kill. them." Ray: "Why is everyone looking at me? What?"

Exior the Mysterious, Elf Assassin/Illusionist, was fond of being first to claim that he was "right there" when any treasure may be present, but being "way over there" when bad things happened, such as when green gas suddenly poured forth from a fountain. But in the end, his illusion of a giant snake (quite realistic, having recently seen one), helped us quite nicely when we encountered too many orcs while with too few hit points remaining. Mason: "Me? I'm Exior... you needn't know more." Everyone Else: "Oh hell, an assassin, sheesh..."

Cormac MacNicol, Human Cleric of Crom and Saint Conan, took charge of the party because everyone seemed hell-bent on hanging out at the taverns rather than going into the dungeon. He also hired on Flynn the Torch boy, and took him under his wing to teach him the values of struggle and mighty combat. It was Cormac's mace that crushed the skull of the giant snake, and his exhortations that pushed the group to the fore into battle... except when he had to bolster the morale of Flynn when he was threatened with violence by a fellow party member (see Rey From Round the Bend, below). James: "A temple o' feertili-tee y' say? Le's see jus' 'ow feer-tile th' wee preest-esses be!" Dan: "Um, the temple is run by a priest, Father Huxley..." James: "Och, thet won' doo... wait, be he a fine, pretty preester lad?" Dan: "..." Mason: ::squicked::

Ray Rennel, From Round the Bend, Elf Thief, Sleeper in Trees, Leaper into Mid-Air, Spinner of the Wheel of Fortune, Summoner of the Skeletons of Doom, He How Happily Shoots Arrows Into Melee, the Dancer in the Dungeon, Tempter of Fate, He of Little Faith. 'Nuff Said! Ray: "I'm jumping out of the tree with my 18 Dexteroty! Wooo!" Dan: "You take 3 points of damage from the fall." Ray: "But... 18 Dex... awww!"

Winthrope the Even More Mysterious, Half-Orc Assassin... Mysteriously, likes to use his dagger rather than his sword. In battle. Really! Bailey: "..."

The first foray toward Stonehell ended up with us dragging Raylin back to town before we even got within sight of the ruins! The second ended very unprofitably, with only a handful of coins looted from orcs, and a bevy of smallswords taken from the skeletons and same said orcs. Exior also harvested some venom from the giant rattler, and we took the glow-orbs from the bodies of five fire beetles, but we are most certainly not remotely near paying back Father Huxley for the neutralize poison spell... we'll be hard-pressed next venture to pay for the torch boy and more torches and trail rations!

Such is the life of adventurers...

Monsters Slain: 1 Giant Rattler, 5 Fire Beetles, 8 Skeletons, and 5 Orcs.
Treasure Won: 5 Fire Beetle Glow Organs, 26 gp, and 24 gp from the sale of the orc blades.
Adventurers Lost: None!

Third Expedition (June 12, 2011)
Most of the records of the Third Expedition have been lost... as were Ray Rennel to a spiked trap and Winthrope the Mysterious to the bite of a cobra. Ray had apparently "acquired" some valuable gems during a "scouting" expedition ahead of the party; these were found secreted on his corpse after it was pulled out from the pit. It was decided that we would leave the body behind in the dungeon, but Exior decided to drag it out to give the thieving thief a proper burial. Winthrope, too, was buried outside of the dungeon, both on a hill nearby, overlooking the trail between Stonehell and Shady Hollow.

Monsters Slain: 5 Orcs, 7 Kobolds, and 3 Cobras
Treasure Won: 188 cp, 84 gp, and two gems each worth 4,000 gp!
Adventurers Lost: Ray Rennel (spiked pit) and Winthrope the Mysterious (snake bite)

Fourth Expedition (June 26, 2011)
Most of the Stonehell Dungeoneers - Cormac Cleric of Crom and St. Conan, Welton Stonebeard, Who the Druid, and Raylin the Ranger - returned to Stonehell Dungeon for a third time, this time joined by Margit the Halfling, Rugar the Dwarf, and Dent the Warrior. Also joining them was Trance the Cleric of Metallica, whom they had rescued from kobolds in their prior venture (wherein they lost two previous companions to the foul pits). Exior the Mysterious remained behind in the town, resting from his exertions in the prior adventure...

And for most of the Dungeoneers, it was a final delve... in the depths of the first level catacombs. For though they fought well against many foul undead, including a dozen zombies, nine skeletons, a ghoul, and a super-skeleton (not to mention a clutch of nine fire beetles), their greed was their undoing...

As they found little if any treasure during most of the adventure, the three great and two lesser jewels, thousands of silver pieces, and many stone's weight of fine copper funerary items found in the super-skeleton's tomb were felt to be great recompense for their efforts. Of course, so great a weight in silver and copper would take several trips in and out of the dungeon. Leaving Raylin the Ranger and Margit the Halfling with the horses and the hired horse-guards, the other six adventurers (and the linkboy, Flynn the Farmer) returned to the tomb a second time to gather more silver and copper...

En route they encountered a roving band of six ghouls in the large Cross-Chamber of Many Pillars, and there they met their final fate! Linkboy Flynn, Who the Druid, and Welton Stonebeard fell ere they knew what had struck them. Cormac and Trance called upon their gods to no avail, and the ghouls kept coming. Cormac cried out for a fighting retreat, but the three remaining companions either did not hear or heed... for all the good it did him, for a ghoul pursued him and sent him to Valhalla, even as Trance and Dent fell beneath the fiend's claws and fangs. Finally, fighting alone in the growing darkness, Rugar the Dwarf and the druid's wolf-like hound companions Bingo and Dingo fell, too, their resting place as ignominous as could be...

Raylin, Margit, and the horseguard waited... an hour, then more, then the whole of the night and morning, until they determined that their companions would not return with them. Heaving a terrible sigh of sadness as he departed, Raylin led the much-reduced troop back to town, where the two surviving adventurers sold off the jewelry for a baron's ransom, the better to equip themselves for their next adventure, to hopefully find some sign of their lost companions...

I should also note that the meticulously-kept map was in the possession of Cormac the Cleric when he fell... as much a loss to the remaining party members as their friends!

Monsters Slain: 8 Fire Beetles, 9 Skeletons, 12 Zombies, 1 Ghoul, 1 Super Skeleton
Treasure Won: 8 Fire Beetle Glands, 4,008 sp, 5 gp, 2 Brooches (30 gp each), and two Jeweled Necklaces (1,300 gp each)
Adventurers Lost: Cormac MacNicol, Trance the Cleric of Metallica, Welton Stonebeard the Cleric of the Dwarf Gods, Who the Druid (with Bingo and Dingo the Wolf-Hounds), Dent the Warrior, Rugar the Dwarf, and Flynn the Link Boy

Fifth Expedition (July 10, 2011)
After the debacle of the Fourth Expedition, only Strider Raylin the Ranger (m 2nd level Half-Elf Ranger) and Warrior Margit the Halfling (f 2nd level Halfling) survived to return to Shady Hollow. There they determined to rebuild the group and go in search of the fate of their lost companions. They recruited the following adventurers:

Medium-Veteran Ellan the Elf (f 1st level Elf Warrior-Mage)
Veteran Wulfgar the Stout (m 1st level Dwarf Fighter)
Veteran Dane Gerous (m 1st level Human Fighter)
Acolyte Fin Thorbergr, Cleric of the Dwarf Gods (m 1st level Dwarf Cleric)
Acolyte Him, Cleric of Somebody Somewhere (m 1st level Human Cleric)
Galen the Link Boy
Latimer the Pack Boy

Additionally, Raylin acquired a guard dog, whom he named Cormac after his lost companion, and Margit acquired two guard dogs, Rufus and Blake.

Together the seven went once again into the dungeons. Without the lost map, Margit and Raylin wracked their memories in the maze below to find the catacombs, but after some searching, the great Chamber of Many Pillars was found, and there they discovered the fate of many of their party. Amidst blood and gore, torn armor and ripped clothing, and the lost map(!) were found the bodies of Rugar and Welton, the dwarves. Whatever had slain them and (perhaps?) the other companions had no interest in treasure or equipment, so the party looted the remnants there found, including an extensive hoard of platinum coins that one of the former adventurers had apparently been holding.

Further into the catacombs, they found the first sign of what exactly had happened to the party... when they encountered the former warrior Dent, now a ravenous ghoul! The party quickly put him to rest, and shortly thereafter, sadly, too their former companions Cormac, Flynn, and Who, the last being a most effective ghoul, perhaps due to his ineffectiveness in life. Of Trance, the Cleric of Metallica, there was no sign... perhaps he had been consumed whole?

The party returned then to the surface, rode back to Shady Hollow, and had the bodies of their erstwhile companions cremated and buried in the town cemetary, as none wished to leave their bodies rotting in the dungeons deep.

Monsters Slain: 4 Ghouls (the former adventurers Dent, Cormac, Who, and Flynn)
Treasure Won: 26 sp, 78 gp, and 110 pp.
Adventurers Lost: None!

Sixth Expedition (July 10, 2011)
After some rest and recuperation, the party added two more members for the Sixth Expedition:

Medium-Veteran Albert Fairbreeze (m 1st level Elf Warrior-Mage)
Veteran Rost the Dwarf (m 1st level Dwarf Fighter)

Thus further reinforced, they went again into the dungeons and sought further treasure in the depths of the ill-fated catacombs. There they encountered:

A Giant Spider, which made short for Raylin and Cormac CuRaylin; a mere hadnful of copper was all that was gained from its lair;

7 Stirges, laired in the ruins of an ancient Temple of Evil; these would have drained Ellan the Elf to the last drop of her blood, had it not been for a timely healing spell cast by the dwarf cleric. A worthy gem of unknown value was found buried in the rubble of the altar and idol;

7 Skeletons wandered into said temple, as the party was searching it for treasure and secret doors; these had no treasure to speak of;

Finally, in a vast chamber (The Chamber of Rotting Flesh and Bone), they encountered a large force of 8 Skeletons and 10 Zombies! Quickly forming a battle line, many were grievously wounded, and Cormac CuRaylin was lost to a savage zombie, but in the end the party prevailed...

It was decided then that a return to the surface and their base in Shady Hollow was in order, to rest and recuperate. The party would loot as much of the remaining copper funerary items as they could in a single trip (lesson learned!), and return to town to fight again another day...

Monsters Slain: 1 Giant Spider, 7 Stirges, 15 Skeletons, and 10 Zombies.
Treasures Won: 21 cp, an as-yet unvalued gem, and an as-yet indeterminate amount of copper funerary items...
Adventurers Lost: Cormac CuRaylin