D&D is one of my favorite past times, and one I have played for many years. As I’ve mentioned, however, I’ve had difficulty writing about it in a manner that I enjoy. Either I get to nitty-gritty, and it seems I loose what it is to be D&D, or I get the birds eye view, and miss some of the more fun and interesting die rolls, and I think both of them will overshadow any good sort of storytelling of he adventure that I do.

But, I’m going to try a bit anyway.

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One of the great things about D&D is that it a combined storytelling session that involves everyone around the table getting together and making a story out of paper, die rolls and imagination. However, that same awesomeness is also a great weakness. If someone can’t make it that day, sometimes the story isn’t going to move forward at all. Its a strange dichotomy.

In many stories, the characters are important and world shaking. Events can’t go on without any given character. One has the Scrolls of Infinite Knowledge, one has the Demonslaying Sword of Grondarialand, and yet another has Breathe Water (and they are exploring an underwater castle, say). If any of them were missing, the whole game breaks in half without a lot of hand waving and just because-ing. It makes the inevitable missing characters a nightmare to deal with on the spot.

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I like to think I have a signature style of DMing. I build gritty, realistic, low magic worlds that challenge the players both in combat and out. I give the characters plenty of time to shine, but the world isn’t focused on their trials and tribulations. They do many small deeds that become great deeds. This style leads me to dial in on aspects of the game that amplify these effects, including the Climate from last week, humanoid enemies, and the players starting abilities. It will also generally focus on the tales that the characters themselves weave, because they cannot rely on magic abilities, magic items or supernatural powers to get them out of problems.

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Spoiler alert! Someone dies!

We left off last week with finding a dwarf dangling from the ceiling, with a not-so-happy outlook on how to get him down. Surprisingly, it’s a lot easier than we expected. We get down to the gallery, and when nothing comes around, Haltz and I hoist Carric onto our shoulders, where he can reach the manacles of the dwarf. He begins working on them, with Ronin keeping watch, but then – We hear buzzing! It’s a whole swarm of those flying demon things with bows.

Two pop up from one shaft and fire at us, while three pop up from the other and do the same. Haltz is hit twice, Ronin and Carric are hit once, and my armor deflects another arrow. At about the same instant, Carric jumps onto the dwarf’s back, which frees Haltz to throw his last dart, although he misses his target. A fraction of a second later I cast Fog Cloud, concealing Haltz, Carric, and I from the creatures’ bows.

Ronin wastes no time, running across the room and making a flying punch into one of the creatures. His fist lands, crushing the creature, and then Ronin faces another problem – The demons were above a shaft, that was backed against a wall. This, however, turns out to not be a problem at all, as Ronin easily bounces off the wall and to the side of the shaft.

Haltz and I both move to the edge of the fog cloud while Carric works on unlocking the manacles. Out of darts, Haltz pulls the arrows from himself and begins throwing them, while I sling a Ray of Frost. We’re greeted by some more arrows, hitting both Ronin and Haltz, but they are too small to do significant damage.

Carric feels something poking him in the side as he manages to undo one of the manacles, which leads to him and the dwarf hanging from one of the dwarf’s arms.

I move to assist Ronin, who is still fighting his two creatures. My glaive is much more effective than my spell, and I cleave one of the creatures in half. Ronin, not to be outdone, kicks one creature hard enough to completely shatter it, and punches the other one to the same results. The last creature vanishes, so I drop the Fog spell, giving Carric more visibility to pick the final lock on the manacle. He also sees another one of the creatures coming out of the dwarf, who has now woken up and is shouting because there is a person on top of him and he is in great pain.

I cast Sleep, putting the dwarf, the creature, and Haltz to sleep. Thankfully, Carric is an elf and immune to such effects, so he dispatches the creature as Ronin wakes Haltz. I assist with Carric, who proceeds to pull out the hooks holding the Dwarf’s chest-portal open. This wakes the dwarf, but he is remarkably lucid, and after we explain what we’re doing he stops fighting us.

Once the pillar heals him to the point where he’s not dieing, he tells us who he is – Demiphus, the Captain of the Guard. He came in after losing a few villagers, and recounts the tale of losing a few people to the natural hazards before he was captured.

At the same time, Haltz and Ronin explore the two galleries below us, with my owl following them. One of them is a rubble-filled semi-collapsed, with a shaft that leads into the water table. The other, I lose my owl to a frog-man with a sling. It is obvious which one we need to go down, so we take a short rest. I regain some of my spell capabilities, and we give Demiphus directions to where Stacia is staying, after giving him what first aid we could.

We decide to all drop into the next gallery at the same time, which is a good thing. There are four frogmen, and also one of the ape creatures – Standing next to another pillar, this one with a small boy attached to it. The ape charges Haltz, a frogman charges Ronin, and one charges me, while the other two stand back with slings. Carric and Haltz are hit with the slings, and Ronin is hit with the creature’s spear, although he dodges its angry-looking bite. I cast Shield, blocking my attacker’s hits, but Haltz is slammed by the ape creature and falls unconscious.

Carric shoots one of the creatures, significantly harming it but not killing it, and Ronin hits the creature attacking him, also doing significant damage but not killing it. Seeing a large threat, I attack the ape creature, managing to kill it with my glaive.

One of the slingers manages to knock Carric out, leaving Ronin and myself to deal with the four frog creatures. We both fail to do anything with our attacks, but the creatures hit both of us with their spears, and Ronin is hit with a sling. Angry, he retaliates by killing both of the creatures next to us.

I move forward to the slingers, engaging them so they can’t simply pelt us at range. Ronin tries to help Carric as I attack one of the creatures, and while I hit, Carric is still bleeding out – And there is also the pressing matter of the two frogs. They both attack me, one doing heavy damage to me.

I fall back, moving away from Carric and Ronin, trying to buy some time as they, hopefully, go after me. One stays in combat with Ronin as the other comes over to me. Ronin manages to beat the third frog creature to death, but my adversary manages to get in a good hit, dropping me as well.

At this time, Carric miraculously wakes up, just in time to see two things – One, another ape creature attempting to pull itself from the young boy’s chest portal, and two – Ronin being dropped by the last frog creature. It notices him and moves towards him.

Carric’s first bow shot misses, but his second one lands, killing the frog. He easily dispatches the ape creature, then tends as much as he can to Ronin and I. Haltz is, unfortunately, beyond any help that we can provide.

While Ronin and I wake up, Carric tends to the boy, removing the hooks from him and removing the manacles as well. He consoles the boy, telling him we are going home “Soon.”

I wake up a little before Ronin does, resting for a little before re-summoning my owl. Ronin rests, helping Carric with the boy. Once my owl is re-summoned I send him down to the gallery below us, finding that it is empty – And the only shaft leading from it leads into water. We pause to make a cairn for Haltz, honoring our brave friend.

We carry the boy, whose name is Balric, to where Stacia and the now-clothed Demiphus are waiting. We decide that, as all of us are rather rough for wear, we should wait and take a long rest before returning to the surface. I spend that time using Mending on the plate armor we had to beat up beforehand, turning it into a useful set of equipment.

When we head up, I form a plan – Make a sling from the rubble and other items we have. Send two people up, and pull the others up. I go up first, and double check outside the entrance – There are several guards outside, who are overjoyed to see us – And to hear of the survivors. With their help, it is easy to pull up everyone, and we make our way first to their base camp and then into town.

We decide that, as Haltz had pledged his portion of the gold we found to Stacia, we would honor that. Ronin split his money between an orphanage he had pledged to help, and helping Balric and his family. I match his support of Balric, bringing it up equal to what Stacia recieved, and offer some to Demiphus – Who, being a humble man, refuses. We inform the guard of all the exits we found, and they are glad to hear of them – And send some parties out to find their other ends.

We still have to travel back to Parminium to report to the Obsidian Vault that our job is complete, and to collect our payment. But for now, we rest in town, enjoying not being in a mine.

As we are in the town, among my inspection of the dead demonologist’s spellbook, I find it has a false back – And inside is a purple gem. Detect Magic fails to produce any useful results, almost as if it doesn’t exist, and my jeweler’s knowledge tells me two things. One: This gem is one that, even in my extensive work, I have never seen. And two: The way it is cut is impossible. It is a puzzle that I definitely intend to work out.

As my brother has been relating, I’ve taken my party down into a silver mine outside the town of Metarius, just east of the City of Parminium, in western Killbar. This means nothing to most of you, but thats alright. Today I’m not going on about my world, but about how I went about building a dungeon. I want to talk about Parminium, Killbar, ect, but I have to wait until each of those parts pan out and are explained to the players before I get really into it.

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Keyword: THINK. Out player for Ronin was absent this day, so it was just myself, Carric, and Haltz.

We searched through the wizard’s stuff… finding mostly that, aside from the bodies and circular torture-portal-sculpture he was trying to create on the wall, it was terribly organized. We did find a chest with 400 gold, a nice dagger that Carric takes, and a longsword that had once belonged to a guard. There’s also a few trinkets in there – Some gold and silver jewelry, mostly, along with six iron rings. (Finger rings, not great iron hula-hoops). I take all of the wizard’s papers, intending to study them later, and also spend some time securing a vial of vile liquid. It’s the same glowy-red color as the stone pillars, and knowing what the pillars can do entices me to try and save it. I also write down the runes on the pillars, for further reference.

The shaft down from this chamber leads into the water table, and while there is a small tunnel leading out from it, Carric’s inspection shows that it simply leads out, a slight curve making it so that even with the lantern, he can only see so far.

We proceed back up to where Stacia has been camping, taking all the valuables with us. We also pause to pick up the plate armor, as that stuff isn’t particularly cheap. A good day or so and I should be able to use the Mending spell enough times to get it into shape.

Through the hours of our travels, Stacia has gone from “Scared to death” to “Trying to murder anything that comes nearby.” We only barely managed to not get stabbed in the face, with her recognizing us just in time. After spending some time discussing if it would be best to set her off towards the town or the guards, she pipes in that it would likely be best for her to simply stay where she is.

We finally agree, and leave the bulky, unneeded, and/or dangerous items behind with Stacia. I would be unsurprised to find that she managed to have made the plate wearable by the next time we came back.

Haltz, Ronin, and I decide to head to the shaft that seemed to be paired to the one we were in before. From where we are, the posts on it aren’t straight down, but we can get to them. Carric goes first, and when he signals the all clear, I follow with Haltz just behind.

As I enter, a stalactite falls from the ceiling, barely missing Carric. Only a moment later, two more fall – This time, hitting both myself and Carric. Unfortunately for us, they latch on and start doing awful things to us. After initial attacks by all of us fail to do much, I rip the creature off of my own back, spotting an eye looking back at me. It doesn’t take long to dispatch it, as even living stalactites can’t move quickly. Hatlz aids Carric with his, killing it before they remove it from his back. We pause as we hear buzzing, but it fades away shortly afterwards.

There is a single shaft upwards, and a ladder leads up it. This ladder isn’t in the best condition, so Carric, his elven form being the smallest and lightest, heads upwards after only a slight mis-step. He secures a rope at the top and gives the all-clear signal. Haltz heads up after me, as my bulk will be more likely to break something – And having more than 300 pounds of human fighter fall on you generally doesn’t help your own climbing efforts.

As we are part of the way up, Haltz sees Carric pulled away by – Something. He hurries up, and I hurry after him. When I reach the top, both Haltz and Carric have been knocked unconscious by a madly flailing mushroom that’s probably about as evil as plants can get in their alignment.

I manage to keep out of the range of its tentacles and use one of the spells I found among the wizard’s book to kill it and set it on fire. It turns out Firebolt is really handy. With Carric having self-stabilized, I assist Haltz, stabilizing him. Without being able to do much more than wait until they wake up, I set about casting the Find Familiar ritual.

About the time they wake up, I summon an owl, a creature that will greatly assist us, especially here in the mines. My first task for it is to have it check the room, and I fail to mention to this owl what sort of threats await it. It evades one more of the tentacle mushrooms, but is caught and killed by the other. Thankfully for me, familiars can be re-summoned, and killing one doesn’t actually kill it. We decide to wait for another hour as I re-summon it, and from now on my owl doesn’t truly ask “WHO” it asks “WHY.”

There are two further shafts in this room – One going up, and one going down. I send the owl up, using the familiar’s ability to see through its eyes to see what is up there. It turns out that it is the main chamber! We’re almost finished.

I send it down the other shaft as well, warning it this time that there likely will be things that will harm it. Again, I use the ability to see through its eyes, spotting a gallery that was likely in progress when the mine was last used. Additionally, there are two further shafts down, along with a dwarf hanging from one of the body portal pillars that is curiously attached to the ceiling.

After relaying this information to my companions, we decide that, due to how difficult it may be to get the dwarf down, it may be the most prudent thing to kill him if needed. At that point, it is time for the night, and we will only figure out next week what sort of horrid things we need to do to close this dwarf’s body portal.

Keyword: THINK. Out player for Ronin was absent this day, so it was just myself, Carric, and Haltz.

We searched through the wizard’s stuff… finding mostly that, aside from the bodies and circular torture-portal-sculpture he was trying to create on the wall, it was terribly organized. We did find a chest with 400 gold, a nice dagger that Carric takes, and a longsword that had once belonged to a guard. There’s also a few trinkets in there – Some gold and silver jewelry, mostly, along with six iron rings. (Finger rings, not great iron hula-hoops). I take all of the wizard’s papers, intending to study them later, and also spend some time securing a vial of vile liquid. It’s the same glowy-red color as the stone pillars, and knowing what the pillars can do entices me to try and save it. I also write down the runes on the pillars, for further reference.

The shaft down from this chamber leads into the water table, and while there is a small tunnel leading out from it, Carric’s inspection shows that it simply leads out, a slight curve making it so that even with the lantern, he can only see so far.

We proceed back up to where Stacia has been camping, taking all the valuables with us. We also pause to pick up the plate armor, as that stuff isn’t particularly cheap. A good day or so and I should be able to use the Mending spell enough times to get it into shape.

Through the hours of our travels, Stacia has gone from “Scared to death” to “Trying to murder anything that comes nearby.” We only barely managed to not get stabbed in the face, with her recognizing us just in time. After spending some time discussing if it would be best to set her off towards the town or the guards, she pipes in that it would likely be best for her to simply stay where she is.

We finally agree, and leave the bulky, unneeded, and/or dangerous items behind with Stacia. I would be unsurprised to find that she managed to have made the plate wearable by the next time we came back.

Haltz, Ronin, and I decide to head to the shaft that seemed to be paired to the one we were in before. From where we are, the posts on it aren’t straight down, but we can get to them. Carric goes first, and when he signals the all clear, I follow with Haltz just behind.

As I enter, a stalactite falls from the ceiling, barely missing Carric. Only a moment later, two more fall – This time, hitting both myself and Carric. Unfortunately for us, they latch on and start doing awful things to us. After initial attacks by all of us fail to do much, I rip the creature off of my own back, spotting an eye looking back at me. It doesn’t take long to dispatch it, as even living stalactites can’t move quickly. Hatlz aids Carric with his, killing it before they remove it from his back. We pause as we hear buzzing, but it fades away shortly afterwards.

There is a single shaft upwards, and a ladder leads up it. This ladder isn’t in the best condition, so Carric, his elven form being the smallest and lightest, heads upwards after only a slight mis-step. He secures a rope at the top and gives the all-clear signal. Haltz heads up after me, as my bulk will be more likely to break something – And having more than 300 pounds of human fighter fall on you generally doesn’t help your own climbing efforts.

As we are part of the way up, Haltz sees Carric pulled away by – Something. He hurries up, and I hurry after him. When I reach the top, both Haltz and Carric have been knocked unconscious by a madly flailing mushroom that’s probably about as evil as plants can get in their alignment.

I manage to keep out of the range of its tentacles and use one of the spells I found among the wizard’s book to kill it and set it on fire. It turns out Firebolt is really handy. With Carric having self-stabilized, I assist Haltz, stabilizing him. Without being able to do much more than wait until they wake up, I set about casting the Find Familiar ritual.

About the time they wake up, I summon an owl, a creature that will greatly assist us, especially here in the mines. My first task for it is to have it check the room, and I fail to mention to this owl what sort of threats await it. It evades one more of the tentacle mushrooms, but is caught and killed by the other. Thankfully for me, familiars can be re-summoned, and killing one doesn’t actually kill it. We decide to wait for another hour as I re-summon it, and from now on my owl doesn’t truly ask “WHO” it asks “WHY.”

There are two further shafts in this room – One going up, and one going down. I send the owl up, using the familiar’s ability to see through its eyes to see what is up there. It turns out that it is the main chamber! We’re almost finished.

I send it down the other shaft as well, warning it this time that there likely will be things that will harm it. Again, I use the ability to see through its eyes, spotting a gallery that was likely in progress when the mine was last used. Additionally, there are two further shafts down, along with a dwarf hanging from one of the body portal pillars that is curiously attached to the ceiling.

After relaying this information to my companions, we decide that, due to how difficult it may be to get the dwarf down, it may be the most prudent thing to kill him if needed. At that point, it is time for the night, and we will only figure out next week what sort of horrid things we need to do to close this dwarf’s body portal.

This week, Tionas managed to show us just what sort of twisted and horrid things his mind can come up with.

We left off last week with the woman who we managed to save from the chest portal, and this week we tended to her a bit, getting some information out of her. She wasn’t sure when she was brought down here, but remembered she was separated from her daughter. Thankfully, her daughter was not taken into evil chest-portal land and made it back to town, causing the Constable to go hire us from the Vault. This meant she couldn’t have been in the mine for more than about a week.

After making sure the woman is good, we decide to take a long rest, to recover ourselves. During the night, Carric and I are on watch at the same time, and we hear a buzzing noise. Looking over to the main shaft, we see a small, winged creature fly up it. It is somewhat demonic looking, with bat wings, a bow, and horns. It looks at us, and then drops back down into the shaft. We determine that it’s best to let the others rest, and only mention it if the buzzing returns.

A little while later, Carric feels a poke on his leg, and on looking down he sees a small, demon-like familiar, miming all of his actions. When I ask what he’s doing, the thing vanishes.

After the rest, we decide to continue on. The main shaft has some small side shafts coming off of it, but the bottom is too far to see. We decide to head down the secondary shaft, where the ape creatures came up. Carric goes down first, and sees a somewhat familiar sight – An elf, chained to another pillar. But this time, when the elf sees him, he groans and shouts – And an ape creature starts pulling itself out of the portal in his chest.

Above, we can clearly hear the screaming of the man, and the woman, whose name we found out was Stacia, weeps in terror at the noise. Carric comes up and makes his report, and we decide that we need to deal with it. I ask Carric if he could allow the woman to borrow his dagger. It may not provide any real help to her, but it may at least make her feel better.

At that point in time, we hear the buzzing again, coming from below. Looking down, we see the ape creature, and Carric shoots it in the face with an arrow as it begins to climb. He gets another arrow into the thing before Ronin asks for us to hold, as he has an idea.

Each of us fall back a bit as Ronin takes the spot in front of where the creature will come up – But when it does come up, he dispenses with his plan and simply channels his inner Spartan, kicking the thing back down the hole and killing it. Stacia screams in terror as she sees it, and Ronin goes and informs her that we are going after them.

Meanwhile, Haltz and Carric descent the shaft, seeing a black fletched arrow near the base of the ladder that hadn’t been there before. Carric slips easily into the shadows, while Haltz turns to the man on the pillar – Soon enough to see another ape coming out. He chargest it, managing to knee it in the face.

Myself and Ronin reach the bottom of the shaft at this point, just in time to watch Haltz spear the creature dead. Carric, meanwhile, spots the flying thing from before, and thinking quickly, shoots it in the wing with his bow. It drops down the shaft it was hovering over.

Haltz and I pull the ape out of the elf’s body portal, and as Carric unlocks the manacles I pull the hooks holding his chest open. Like the woman, the pillar heals him until he’s not dieing, but he’s in much worse shape than the woman was, and begins coughing up blood. He is also delerious, not knowing where – or who – he is.

After some questions, Carric finds that the man is going to die anyway, and uses his dagger to mercifully end his pain. As Ronin and Haltz return to the shaft to inform the woman of what we’ve done, Carric makes his way down the other shaft in the room – Ending in a small tunnel, angled in one direction into water, and in the other direction a small hole. I pass my lantern down to him, and he sees the hole goes up further than the lantern can illuminate.

He returns up the shaft, and with no other place to go, we return to the woman, giving her some more supplies and some further niceties. She has already eaten about two days worth of rations, and has tied Carric’s dagger to the staff Ronin had left with her, forming a makeshift spear.

We decide to head down the main shaft to the side passage a short distance below us. Carric goes first, securing the rope to a post that is secured in the wall – Angled so that it would connect to a post in a side passage above us. It seems that the two were once connected.

The rest of us follow, squeezing down the narrow shaft until we emerge into a larger gallery. Carric stops Haltz and I from lighting our lights, as he sees his “friend” from before. After some discussion, I suggest using the lantern to light up the thing, to which the creature nods at.

On illumination, I discover just what the thing is – It is a quasid, a demon from the Iron Marches. Such demons are often summoned as a familiar by mages, and mages tend to keep familiars that are similar to them. It is not a far fetched conclusion to believe this is the familiar of a demonologist.

As I say this, the creature vanishes down a shaft sitting just behind it. We decide to go after it, but I notice some clothes in the corner. Before I can suggest anything, though, I feel something crawling up my back, beneath my armor. I alert the others, and they see a centipede-like creature crawl up out of my armor, morph into the creature, and then take a massive bite out of my neck.

Not wasting any time, we attack the creature – And I discover that I lack a secondary melee weapon, although I prove perfectly efficient at smacking things with my lantern. Eventually, I daze it with a smack from my lantern long enough for Ronin to grab it and smash it into the floor, killing it.

We take a short rest, during which Ronin brings the clothes to Stacia, who is grateful to have something to actually wear now. After we are rested, we look down the shaft the creature disappeared down.

This one has no ladder, for it has turned into a pile of rubble at the floor. We take a rope down, and on the far side of the largeish gallery we can see a pile of corpses – A peasant, a guard, and a knight with a greatsword. There is another shaft in the ceiling, and one more in the floor.

As all four of us arrive in the gallery, the knight rises. It turns out that it isn’t a knight, but simply a suit of armor. The sword also rises, although it is not held by the knight.

Instinctually, I throw some oil at it, although I miss the thing completely. Ronin moves forward and tries to attack it, although he only manages to get a painful foot out of the deal. My own attack ends up less painful for me, although I still fail just as well.

Thankfully, the knight seems to have no better luck than us, and misses its punches against Ronin. The sword, however, seems to be just fine, and smacks me pretty hard. Haltz attacks the armor, and Carric tries to shoot the sword with his bow.

Ronin gets into a punching match with the armor, with Haltz joining in as soon as he moves close enough. I begin to deal with the sword as Carric wisely decides to try and shoot the larger target.

I manage to smash the sword with my glaive, shattering it and sending the pieces flying across the room. Only moments later, Ronin manages to put his fist through plate steel, destroying whatever spell was animating the armor.

We find a few gold among the bodies, and looking up at the shaft above us we see that it ends in what looks like a cave-in, possibly the same one we ran into before. The shaft down ends unfinished in a pool of water.

As we begin making our way back to the entrance shaft, Carric pauses, and then pulls on the “rubble” on the floor. It lifts, revealing another shaft. From this shaft, heat, light, human groaning, and a mixture of Accursed/Killbaran muttering can be heard.

We decide to take no chances and drop all at once, seeing a wall adorned with an incompleted circle of living bodies. They are barely living, split neck to groin and joined together with one person’s neck in the next person’s crotch, with a pillar keeping each of them from dieing. A form is hunched over one of them, blackened skin visible even with its robes.

The figure turns, and we see a first generation Killbaran mage, a red third “eye” in his forhead. He shouts that he must finish his work, to which we ignore – Carric shoots him, and both Haltz and I charge him.

As we do so, Carric shoots him once more, interrupting whatever spell he was trying to cast. As he dies, we notice there are hooks in his chest – Not holding it open, but keeping it shut. We don’t have time to ponder this, though, as his chest bursts open as he dies. A demon comes through the resulting portal, shattering the body it used as transport. It is a great, winged creature wielding a black and red trident, and it wastes no time in meeting Haltz and I.

We attack it, Haltz dealing a significant strike with his spear. Carric shoots at it as Ronin joins with a flying jump kick. Somehow, we manage to evade all of its attacks before Ronin deals the final blow, killing it with a kick in its face.

We look around the room, and we see another figure on a pillar on the floor. On investigating the pillar, I find it is a different type – There is a different type of healing rune on this one, and considering the figure doesn’t have a chest portal, I deduce there is no realistic way to save these people.

Haltz, Carric, and I set about pulling people off of the wall to remove them from the range of their pillars before giving them a mercy killing. The pillars on the wall are also different – They have the same healing runes as the one on the floor, and while they also have conjuration runes like the ones we found above, those runes are much more potent. I can only guess that, had the wizard finished his work, he would have created a much larger portal to the Iron Marches.

Among the items in the room, I choose one of the knives the wizard had been using for a dagger, ensuring that I would have a secondary weapon if I needed it. Additionally, I find the wizard’s spellbook. This is in my field of study, and I find that, perhaps I can learn to utilize its power for a different purpose.

This week, we beat on some demon-sponges, jumped down a few more holes, and I explored a bit of the “Evil” part of my “Neutral Evil” alignment. Last week, Tionas couldn’t make it out, and this week our cleric was absent again. Sucks to be her, because it was awesome!

Where we left off last session, we had just set a puddle on fire, filled it with arrows, and also poked a few holes in some fungi that wanted to shout us to death. From this room, there was only one shaft down, and Carric decided to climb down the ladder to take a peak.

The room below had some movement in it, and Carric could hear some low moaning. So we had Haltz drop a lit torch down to the bottom. “Disturbing” is probably the kindest word that could be used to describe the things that waited for us. Well, not exactly  waited. More like shambled around the bottom.

They were humanoid, roughly human sized, but everything from the shoulders down was pretty much just a giant pile of flesh and mush. Their arms ended with sharp, vicious claws, and their faces had equally sharp teeth. Their eyes were black and empty, and the flesh was an awful orange color, somewhat like the goblin from before. They ignore the torch, doing as much as rolling right over it.

When Carric comes up and gives his report, Ronin goes down the ladder and uses his thaumaturgy spell to see if they react to sound. They do, and slither right over to where the sound came from. We also hear a very human, startled shout.

We come up with a plan – Carric sneaks down, Ronin goes down the ladder and distracts them with another sound, and Haltz and I rappel down the shaft. This goes as planned, and we all get down to the bottom. At this point, we all see what’s in the room – Five of these horrid flesh creatures, along with a glowing pillar that has a human figure chained to it.

Trying to lure them to another area, Ronin uses his spell again, but they see us as they move. Well, everyone except the sneaky Carric. Ronin moves up and punches one of the creatures, and finds that its consistency is pretty much that of a sponge, and it reforms itself quite well. Aside from the fact that it is now oozing black ichor where most creatures would simply bleed.

Haltz uses his handy darts, punching a hole through the creature’s eye and killing it. At this, the guy on the pillar screams, and Carric, making his way up, can see a bulge forming on his chest. He decides that the man is part of the creatures’ plans, and shoots him with his bow. I move up to support Ronin, but I don’t do much to the creature, cutting in but it seems like I’ve only mildly displeased it.

The creatures, slow as the bags of flesh they are, finally respond. Two manage to claw Ronin, one in a pretty hefty manner. The two others are now moving up to us, and Ronin decides to punch one of them, fairly successfully. Haltz decides to show us how to actually fight, and spears the one Ronin injured, killing it, and then kicks the one I injured, killing it as well.

Carrick \ fires another arrow, and the human shouts and slumps down, but the pillar will have none of it. Tendrils of energy come out and do.. something to the guy, who shouts once more.

Seeing that Ronin and Haltz have the creatures covered, I run up to the pillar and proceed to swear violently. It’s carved with Accursed script. The man chained to the pillar also has his chest cavity pulled open, held that way with iron hooks, and inside it I can see another one of the creatures pulling its way out. At this time, the creature pops out, and doesn’t seem particularly pleased with me being there.

One of the creatures that Haltz and Ronin are fighting manages to knock out Ronin, prompting Haltz to move back, getting one of the creatures to follow him. Carric is a great asset and shoots the creature right next to me, distracting it while I decide the best course of action.

My thought is that the creatures, and wherever they are coming from, are linked to the pillar. I am not a locksmith and I don’t have the tools to pop the manacles open, so my action is to physically sever the connection of the guy with the pillar. My glaive neatly severs the hands of the already-ravaged human, but this doesn’t stop the pillar’s magic from keeping him from bleeding profusely.

Carric, seeing he has the attention of one of the creatures, shoots and kills the second one that had been with Haltz and Ronin. The only thing the creatures can do at this point is follow them, so while they’re dealing with the creatures I sever the feet of the captive and drag him away from the pillar, eventually severing the connection. Inside the corpse’s chest, I can get a good look at the portal, and at this I swear even more violently. I can see leaden grass – It’s a portal to the Iron Marches, and in the accursed end of it to boot.

Some experimenting shows that the portal is solid, and after a little more inquisitive prodding by myself, I remove the iron hooks holding the corpse’s chest cavity open. It snaps shut, and pulling it apart reveals that this has closed the portal as well. Not fully satisfied, I take a look at the pillar while my companions tend to Ronin and check the rest of the mining gallery.

There’s one shaft down that’s open – Of the other two, one ends in a collapse and the other isn’t finished. The pillar, on the other hand, has crude yet strong magic, and is carved with both healing and conjuration runes.

We make our way into the next gallery, which is thankfully empty. This has one end that looks like it’s unfinished, and the other end is collapsed. There’s a small horizontal shaft that is one of the numerous ones that lead to the main shaft, and another shaft that goes down. Carric climbs down the ladder, and looks into the gallery. Another glowing pillar is there, with another figure chained to it. There are also two large forms, so Carric makes his way back up.

The gallery he scouted had two shafts in it, and we’re sure one of them is the main shaft. I ask Carric to look into the side passage, as it is too small for any of the rest of us and he is also supposed to be the sneaky one.

He climbs along it and looks down – into the faces of two creatures, both of them about 7.5 feet tall, covered in muscle, and with arms that look like they could rip someone in half. The person chained to the pillar has had their chest opened in the same way as the last one, although he couldn’t tell if this person also had a portal in their chest.

He climbs back and barely has enough time to describe what he saw to us before we hear the things shouting below us. Running over to the shaft, we see them climbing up it – Not via the ladder, but by ripping handholds from the stone. Carric shoots an arrow into one of them, while Haltz, Ronin, and I all ready ourselves for the creatures. Thankfully, Carric gets another shot into the same one, and shortly before it gets up to the top I stab my glaive into it, killing it and knocking it down. We can hear a scream from below us, and we dread having to deal with a stream of these things.

Ronin handily dealt with the other one, using its own momentum and mass against it to toss it over into where the rest of us can deal with it. Haltz spears it and gives it a solid kick, while my polearm deals the killing blow. This time, however, there is no scream from below.

We look down and see one more creature looking up at us. I can only assume it decided that a one-on-four battle was not entirely a good idea, so it disappears, shouting the whole way, into the mine.

I head down first, being the most defensible of the bunch, but there’s nothing there. As my companions come down behind me, I head over to the pillar. The woman there is in surprisingly good health, aside from the fact that her chest is held open with another dozen iron hooks with a portal to the Iron Marches inside. I also happen to recognize that this is the woman from the locket I found earlier. Makes finding the owner a lot easier, I suppose.

At this point, the beast’s shouting returns, and Ronin and Haltz have found another shaft – Which three of the beasts are now climbing up. Thankfully, it’s a lot longer than the previous shaft so we have some time to work.

I call Carric over to open the manacles, warn the woman what I’m going to do is going to hurt, and start pulling out the hooks. Racing against the creatures, Carric and I manage to both free her from the manacles and remove all of the hooks. Her ribcage slams shut, and when it bounces open a little I can see the portal is closed – And her internal organs seem to be still internal.

We notice that the pillar seems to be healing her, so I pick up my glaive and run to the shaft while Haltz throws some further darts. One of them hits a creature, and the creatures manage to climb to the top of the shaft before I can get there. Thankfully, both Haltz and Ronin are ready and dodge their attacks. Being distracted, though, they also don’t manage to deal any further damage to the creatures.

This doesn’t stop one creature from punching me, hard. Carric, while watching over the woman, is still observant and fires his bow at the one that hit me. The arrow hits hard, and the creature falls back into the shaft. One down, two to go.

Haltz hits one of the creatures, and Ronin manages to hit the last one, hard. At this point, though, we find out the other creature isn’t dead – As it flings itself out of the pit and takes a swing at me. Thankfully, though, it’s been injured and misses. The other two creatures have similarly bad times dealing with Haltz and Ronin.

Carric, not pleased that his target didn’t actually die, finishes the job with another arrow. This time, it really is dead as it falls back down the shaft, and we hear it land at the bottom. Haltz hits his again, and Ronin manages to knock his dead, the corpse also falling into the hole. Whatever’s down there is going to know we’re coming.

The last creature swings at Haltz but misses, and I finish it off with my glaive. At this point, silence falls, and we can see that the pillar has no further interest in the woman. She’s not perfectly healed, but she’s not being splayed open like something out of a horror movie anymore.

What awaits us in the gallery below I have no idea, but I’m sure we’ll find out next week. Considering how we dealt with its minions, I’m fairly sure it’s not going to be pleased to see us, either.

Last week, three characters almost died and it was all my fault. This week, two characters came even closer to death and it had nothing to do with me. And then I fell and practically broke my legs. But, let’s start at the beginning of this week. (As a note, the player for Octavia was absent this week, so she played no role in these events)

After successfully making our way down to the first gallery, we decided to check out the shorter shafts first. Our logic was if we fell, we probably wouldn’t die. Probably.

The first shaft we looked at was about twenty feet deep. The bottom was moldy as far as we could see, and while it had a ladder, moldy wood was not exactly something that’s conductive to climbing easily down it.

To that end, we decided to look at the other, 30-foot shaft. On first inspection, it had a pile of rubble from a cave in at the bottom. Some bones. Some pants. Carric descends first, using a safety line to secure his way down the shaft. On reaching the bottom, he sees a 70ft gallery, with the entrance being only about 10 feet from one end. After he makes his way down, Haltz, myself, and Ronin also descend.

Ronin and I both begin investigating the rubble. I find that it is easily not a cave in – The pants, for one, are at the wrong angle. But on further inspection, we’re interrupted by an investigating grunt/cry.

Everybody turns, and I spotlight an ugly, wretched goblin type thing with my lantern. Startled, it turns and runs, diving down a shaft along a rope tied to it. Carric and I both run after. Carric isn’t fast enough to catch him, and I fall flat on my face, extinguishing the lantern in the process.

Not pausing, Carric jumps on the rope and climbs down after the goblin, landing in a pile of awful nasty detritus – Sticks, mud, plant bits, and the like. He does see the goblin scurry into a tunnel, and while the rest of us climb down after, he goes in and looks.

It isn’t a large enough tunnel for the rest of us to fit in, and it goes out further past the mine. Haltz feels a breeze, and we guess this might be another entrance to the mine for the goblins. Not being able to enter the tunnel, I suggest that we fill the bottom of the shaft with some of the rubble, ensuring at the very least we won’t be backstabbed on our exploration through the rest of the mine. This is done using stones from the not-cave-in, and in the process we find that it looks less like a cave in and more like a set of nasty, awful, goblin beds.

The room also has a second exit, a shaft that leads down into piles of things. Broken barrels, sacks, half eaten limbs, and the like. Again, Carric descends first using a safety line. Midway down the shaft, the safety line comes into good use when half the ladder is missing and broken, leaving just a single pole on one side before resuming its normal form.

Before he can reach the bottom, a javelin comes flying out of the dark, clattering off the stones next to his face. Dropping the last few feet and taking some minor injuries in the process, Carric tries to hide in the rubble at the bottom but sees nothing. Haltz and myself, having seen and heard the spear, secure a line and I descend rapidly on it, ignoring the ladder.

As I descend, Carric stands – and almost fatal move. As he does so, the javelin thrower reveals himself, skewering Carric and sending him immediately unconscious. At this point, the great goblin charges me, his two-handed morning star swinging at me. Thankfully, my armor saves me from damage, and Hatlz arrives behind me, a much-needed boost.

He swings at the goblin before being fully down, using the rope as both a fist weapon and a balance for a kick. Sadly, neither connects, but the Goblin’s attack on Haltz hits. I swing, missing as well, and Haltz makes a second attack that also fails. The goblin, not content on one hit to Haltz, smacks him one more time, this time dealing a significant amount of damage to him and knocking him unconscious as well.

At this point, Ronin – who had managed to not notice the javelin in the first place, notices we’re having the snot beaten out of us and joins us at the bottom. As if trying to make up for his lack of noticing, he attacks the goblin, one punch missing wide but the other slamming into the goblin.

I swing again, but again I miss. Proving his worth, Ronin smacks the goblin again, and my next attack finally hits, my glaive cleaving the goblin in two. The inside of this goblin is as corrupted as the outside, covered in black and green nastiness, and somehow withered without impeding the goblin.

Ronin tends to Haltz and Carric, and then searches the room while I watch the entrance behind us. He finds a preliminary mining tunnel that leads to the main shaft, and after he is done searching I look at a pair of bodies in the corner.

One is a peasant, their throat slashed. The other is a man in gear similar to the guards in the town, his armor and side punctured by a hole that match the one made in Carric by the javelin. On him, I find a locket, a small painting of a woman inside. Thinking it might be of use, I put it in my pack. It may come in handy later. I also investigate the shaft, and as I look into the main shaft I see a guard fall screaming down it. He hits the net that Haltz had secured previously, but the fall was too great. His scream is silenced in a way that only death can manage, and continues falling down the shaft beyond us.

After resting for some time, allowing Carric and Haltz to regain some of their strength, we make our way to the main gallery. We test the rope to the surface, and it is secure. At the very least we’ll be able to make our way back up. Deciding the best decision was to press onward, we head down to the moldy shaft, with Ronin leading this time due to Carric’s injuries. Ronin lands, seeing the entirety of the cavern is filled with the mold. Spotting an interesting puddle with a corpse in it, he heads towards it. The corpse seems intact, but the breastplate it was wearing is quite a bit dissolved.

However, the room disagreed with the invasion, and was suddenly filled with a loud, wretched, screeching noise. I was most of the way to the bottom, but the shrieking startled me and I fell the last few feet, landing heavily. At this point, I reach in and find my second wind, bringing me back up to full fighting shape.

Carric and Haltz descend fairly quickly, and Halts quickly identifies four fungi that are emitting the shrieking. Letting Carric know which ones they are, Carric fires at each, but they remain in their ear-splitting noise mode.

Ronin, meanwhile, has noticed that the puddle has started moving, if slowly. Seeing Carric firing at the fungi, I make my way towards one, but a dart from Haltz kills it before I can reach it. However, this distraction allows me to spot that the puddle REALLY seems to like me. It is slowly reaching out towards me, and noting how slow it is moving I grab a flask of oil and throw it on the thing.

With that opportunity, Ronin lights the thing on fire with his torch while Carric finishes the fungi off, allowing our hearing to return to normal. With a few more arrows, Carric stops the now-flaming puddle, which quickly sputters out as the oil is consumed.

The area secure, we look around, finding another passage leading to the main shaft and two shafts leading down. One is unfinished, simply a hole that ends after a short distance. The other one leads about forty feet down to another gallery. It is there that we call time on the session.

In all, we managed to not die a horrid death from the goblin, possibly seal an entrance of theirs, and clear a room of fungi designed by a wretched god. Who knows what we will come across next week.