Saturday, September 22, 2012

Play report: Of fungus and slime

After a few adventures rooting out some of the lesser beasties in the Caves of Chaos, the party picked up a couple of new leads at the Keep.  The talk of the tavern was the new cave that had been discovered, reputed to be the lost hideout of a couple of famous adventurers of three decades past (B1, In Search of the Unknown, which I've placed in the location of the Cave of the Unknown on the B2 map.)  They opted instead to pursue a reward offered for locating a missing man, a brother of the mayor of the last village at the civilized edge of the Borderlands.  The man was reported to be seeking a magical portal to the faerie realms in another nearby cave, an endeavor the locals clearly thought was lunacy, but one of the serving wenches testified that he had shown her his map before he departed, and she was able to point out the location on the party's map.

Thus informed, the party set off to the east, reached the general area of the missing man's last presumed location, and opted to stick together to search for the cave rather than split up.  They discovered a sinkhole which was the cave mouth, dealt with the mountain lion that laired just inside with a barrage of sling stones, and the exploration was on.  A random encounter with goblins led to a brief accord, but when one of the party's fighters fell victim to a pit trap as they moved to depart peacefully, the goblins broke into raucous laughter, an insult that was not to be borne.  The party angrily tore into them, making quick work of the foolish monsters.

From there, my older niece, in the role of Alex the thief, boldly decided to scout ahead down a side passage that ended in a dead end chamber.  Enticed by the glint of gold on the far side, her caution nonetheless prevailed, and she paused just before stepping into the room to examine the area ahead.  This revealed droplets of glistening green goo on the floor.  "I look up," she replied, and thus spotted the green slime lurking on the ceiling.  Despite having no knowledge at all of green slime, she shrewdly elected to throw her torch at it (my wife's magic-user was carrying a lantern, so there was no danger of a total blackout.)  Slime was dispatched soon thereafter.

A short while later, after a quick battle with a couple giant toads in a large, partially flooded cavern, my sister-in-law's fighter, Camilla the warrior maiden, discovered a passage behind an anomalous boulder leaning against the cavern wall.  (I'm so over rolling for secret doors!  It's much more fun to give the description and let the players deduce that there might be more than meets the eye.  They didn't examine the stalagmites on the other side of the room, and so failed to find the other "secret door" in the form of a hollow rock formation that led to a chamber directly below.)  The passage behind the boulder led down a gentle incline to another cavern, and the party was horrified and alarmed when their torchlight fell upon the walls, revealing them to be lined with dozens of witch's spy fungi, strongly resembling human eyes.  Nobody wanted anything to do with the eyes, except for my younger niece, whose character Jessica the druidess gleefully rushed up and stuck one of them with her dagger, and so discovered that they were not really eyeballs after all.  The rest of the party was much relieved when her rash action failed to bring infernal wrath down upon their heads.

Another fungal encounter, this time with ratbane fungus, was more annoying than frightening, with Camilla falling face first in a patch of the sticky stuff.  Her fall alerted a pair of troglodytes in the next chamber, who slipped into a murky pool and hid until the party passed, and shadowed them for the rest of the adventure.  Badly outnumbered and finding no advantageous opportunity for attack, the trogs wisely decided to leave the party alone for the time being, and so the PCs are still unaware of their existence in the cave.

From there, the party quite inadvertently and unwittingly circumvented a series of tripwire/dart traps, and discovered a long passage leading to a room with a very large puddle of green slime on the floor.  They knew exactly how to deal with it, and Brenna the magic-user made good use of her flame cantrip to quickly light torches for the rest of the party.  After absorbing the party's fire damage for a few rounds, the slime finally scored a hit against the party's cleric, Fergus McTaggert, normally played by my brother but tonight under the control of a young friend of my nieces who happened to be visiting.  Her inspired portrayal of the poor cleric as the slime dissolved his armor was the highlight of the evening.  "Help!  Oh, help me!  Get it off!"  While the rest of the PCs stood around gobsmacked by this disturbing development, one of their hired mercenaries made his Intelligence check, seized the cleric's torch, and burned away the slime's last hit point, saving his employer's life, though not his armor.  I really hope my brother will play up this new-found and highly entertaining phobia of slime and ooze when he steps back into the role.

A quick examination of the detritus remaining after the battle turned up an unscathed ring amid the goo, which matched the description of a ring the missing man had worn.  Realizing his fate, the party returned to the Keep with the ring, where they were informed that it was magical, and they could either keep it as part of their reward or the mayor would purchase it from them for 100 gold.  A read magic spell from Brenna deciphered the inscription on the inside of the band, and so she learned that it was a ring of water walking, which they opted to keep.

Overall, a very good outing for the party, as they came through mostly unscathed thanks to some caution, the exploding damage dice playing strongly in their favor, and some very fortunate guesses about which passages to take.  They also missed several hidden surprises, due entirely to their choices rather than dice rolls, and there's still a lot more cave left to explore should they decide to return.  Yes, this player agency business is pure gold.

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