After fighting the killer crayfish and having lunch with Druzella the Witch, the party sets it sites on what the player map of the Canyon of Chaos lists as 'Cave B'. Druzella has warned them to expect some sort of ghostie, and Erik offers that perhaps they could make a quick venture to Cave C in hopes of levelling up before they tackle the dead and their eerie powers. Not that anyone in the party has any idea what evils lurk in Cave C. It's just that they assume that undead are worse than pretty much any other option, the poor deluded fools.
Hotter heads prevail though, and it is agreed to explore the cave full o' undead. The party climbs up the side of the canyon to get a better look at the cave mouth. They see rubble indicative of the entrance being previously bricked-over, but some unknown force has broken in... or out. Strange runes have been carved around the lip of the cave, but Grandfather Thorne, the only educated member of the party, is unable to complete a translation. Something about wizards and happiness, perhaps?
They enter the cave in their usual formation, Zoyd the Battle Sorcerer and Hjorek the Warblade in the lead, with Erik the Conqueror and Thorne the Dwarf behind them. The first room they entered contains a murky, unhealthy-looking pool of fetid water surrounded by piles of shattered bones. Almost immediately unwholesome things erupt from the water. The two creatures that Thorne dubs Poolwraiths are amorphous collections of grungy water encased in a mucky membrane. Many blighted eyes float across the surface of the beasts and whiplike tentacles sprout from a dozen places.
Initially, our heroes want to play a distance game with these loathsome freaks. But when they fire gouts of filthy water, knocking the cleric on his ass and doing some hefty damage, they reconsider. The PCs move in to the edge of the pool and in a fierce exchange of weapon and tentacle strokes they burst the outer membranes of the two creatures, spilling their watery essences all over the floor. Also, Zoyd got spattered by Poolwraith guts. From inside the creatures spill large pearlish spheres covered in runes and Thorne wades into the mucky water to retrieve some gold pieces.
Exploring the rest of caverns leads the party to a dead-end cave with two large piles of trash. Thorne, never one to let a piece of treasure get away, shifts through the garbage and retrieves a magic ring. Too bad that while he was searching a great skeletal monster was silently approaching the room. The monster was a basic troll skeleton and quickly dispatched, but I wanted to show you this ultracool drawing done by a fellow on theRPGsite forums. I wish I had recorded his name, because I really dig that monster. Can anybody help me out here?
Exploring the last branch of the cave system, the party comes to a chamber with a big rusted iron door on the opposite side. The chamber appears to be empty but when they enter Hjorek and Zoyd are slimed! Green slime on the ceiling, ladies and gentlemen. It's a classic. Green slime does Con damage these days so the party heads back to the keep. They returned healed up and carrying fire. They do a very thorough job of burning all the slime off the ceiling so that hopefully it won't grow back.
Since the party is conspicuously lacking in the Rogue department, Hjorek goes to work on the iron door with his mace. He uses some wild warblade-fu to ignore the hardness rating of the iron and in a few rounds the lock on the door is destroyed. Beyond the door is a large chamber with a stone sarcophagus on a platform and a side passage leading out. Now the players are caught in a standard dungeoneering dilemna. Do they screw with the stoney coffin, knowing there's ghosts about? At one point it is suggested that they explore the side passage first, but the party eventually agrees that they don't want Count Dracula lurking behind them.
As they step up onto the platform a secret door silenty opens and a dozen almost human skeletons lope out from a hidden chamber, brandishing bronze greataxes. And it's on like Diddy Cong. Grandpa Thorn throws a sonic burst into the pack and Erik turns most of the skeletons into so much dust. Hjorek and Zoyd egage the others with sword play. Then the boss monster shows up. Materializing over the coffin is a shimmering blue figure, his head sorrounded by glowing rune of hate. It immediately lets loose with a cone of cold that blasts the whole party. Zoyd starts lobbing magic missiles at the thing while Hjorek discovers that his sword passes harmlessly through the ghost's body. To make matters worse, the angry spectre turns the clerics, turning off all their divine powers. Yowch. Things are looking grim when the party pulls back and Hjorek lobs a fireball (from a necklace of missiles) at the creep, but that's still not enough. The hateful spirit is hurt, though. It starts playing dirty, hiding inside the walls incoporeally and reaching out only with a spectral claw to strike the adventurers. But Zoyd catches him with his last pair of magic missiles and the ectoplasmic horror shimmers to nothingness.
At this point we're only ten minutes away from our appointed end time so I try to end the session. But Doug will have nothing of it. He wants to open that sarcophagus and get at the treasure presumedly inside! I relent and the four heroes work together to move the massive stone lid. Inside is a pile of treasure, but also a pile of rot grub in the shape of a man! Rot grubs shoot out of the coffin. Two of the PCs deftly avoid the shower of death worms, while a third cuts a burrowing grub out from under his skin. Poor Hjorek is in trouble though. Erik offers to help. He sees a squirming lump under Hjorek's skin and tries to smash it with his mace. Erik misses, bludgeoning Hjorek in the process. Erik offers to try again, but Hjorek declines and cuts his own rot grub out. Comedy gold. Beside the heart-eating maggots, the coffin contains some two thousand square-shaped gold pieces, a pearl, and a magic amulet decorated with a serpent's eye.
Strange Stars Soft Cover & A Review
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