This session the PCs return to continue the talks in Urum with a wagon full of food in tow. There is something of a breakthrough this time. Duhngemezh has learned of an entrance to an underground Dwarven vault. It is located at the ruined dwarf fort, which is near both Niru and Urum (hex 13.07). Somewhere inside is a magical black cauldron, and Duhngemezh says that he will trade his Tablet of Fate for the cauldron if the PCs can bring it to him.
When the PCs ask how Duhngemezh learned of this he explains that the elf named Justice told him about it. Justice and the orcs at the Caves of Chaos had been investigating the place and trying to come to some arrangement with the undying goblin who lives down there. The dwarvish vault is dangerous though, designed to be something of a deathtrap. Now that the troops from Sippar are patrolling the lands around Niru and Urum the elves and orcs will no longer risk delving there.
The elves and orcs were able to parley with the goblin down there, at least for a little while. The goblin says that his name is Yaabdilum the Deathless and claims to be thousands of years old. He says that he was the apprentice of the elvish wizard Xylarthen. When Xylarthen grew suspicious of the Anunnaki, he sent Yaabdilum to guard his cauldron and keep it hidden deep within the dwarvish vault until he could smooth things over with the Anunnaki. Apparently that didn't go so well. The Anunnaki blew up Xylarthen's tower (hex 14.12), and that was the beginning of the Great Purge when the Anunnaki tried to exterminate all the elves, dwarves, and halflings on the planet.
So anyway... Duhngemezh could send teams of his mutants into the vault, but he thinks that the Dragonslayers would have a much better chance of success. He does line up about 15 mutants who are eager to help, and lets the PCs interview them. The PC's pick out two mutants to take with them down into the vault. Here's the lineup.
The new mutants
Kabatot - Human Mutant Fighter level 2
1. Invisible meat (he looks like a walking, talking skeleton)
2. Shocking Touch at will (d6 damage + save vs. stun)
3. Can become 2-Dimensional (slide under doors, but slashing and piercing damage auto-crit)
4. Telekinesis (Str 9)
Lagykwi - Human Mutant Magi level 1
he memorized Floating Disk to help move the cauldron
1. Immune to Poison and Disease
2. Fire Blast - 60' range, 10' diameter burst, 1d6 damage + burn (save vs dragon breath for half)
Sura the Orionixie
Ony the Human Mutant Jedite
Gorp the Halflingon
Zheel the Halflingon
When they travel to the ruined dwarf fort they bring along a wagon pulled by donkeys and a few extra mutant guards. These all wait outside while the six brave adventurers head into the remains of the old keep, which is the only structure still partially standing. They go through a secret trapdoor into an old looted wine cellar, then through another secret door, down a hallway and end up at a tall ring of stones carved with magical runes. They touch the top, bottom, then the rightmost rune and the magical portal activates. The six adventurers head through the glowing portal that looks like something out of Stargate.
The vault is basically a death trap. The doors are metal plates controlled by levers. Once a lever is pulled the metal doors spring open by splitting apart in the middle like some great beast with sharp metallic teeth opening it's jaws . Some of these doors snap shut whenever something begins to pass through. The PCs get a running start to jump through these trapped doors one at a time, then pull the lever again to open the doors for the next person. Sometimes there is a pit on the other side of the chomping door. Sometimes that pit is hidden by an illusionary floor.
The PCs managed to avoid both the chomping doors and the illusion covered pit in the first room. The ceiling here is covered in magical circles and runes that seem to be metallic silver inset into the stones. It seems to be an elaborate anti-necromancy ward. There is also some graffiti on the west wall here showing a partial dungeon map. On that map, this first room is labeled "only safe room". One of the hench-mutants asks aloud "Is anyone else worried that this 'only safe room' has multiple traps?".
They move on through a few more rooms. Some of the metal doors seem perfectly safe, they do not slam shut when someone crosses through them. This troubles Ony, he is wary of everything now. The next room has 13 small piles of balanced stones, each stone is stacked one on top of another. Another room has a huge detailed mural painted onto the ceiling of a goblin ascending into the heavens. They open a secret passage. A third room is full of various pottery and ceramics, many are shattered into shards but some remain whole. The party finds a few that are beautifully glazed and takes those as loot.
The forth room has interesting architecture, archways form alcoves all over the room and all meet at the center point in the vaulted ceiling. In the middle of this room is an active fountain, a 4 foot stone column topped with a wide stone bowl, a stone fish in the middle spitting water up into the air. As the PCs investigate all of this, Sura suddenly looks up to see that something is also investigating all of them. A ball of eyes is floating just outside the doorway that they left open when they entered the room.
It seems to focus on them one at a time, then slowly hovers back down the hallway. Lagykwi blasts it with fire, a couple of burnt eyeballs pop off and it zooms around the corner. Sura and Gorp give chase. They see it zooming down a long hallway and Sura uses her Magic Missile ability and her once per session d30 roll to make the thing explode in a burst of arcane power.
Everyone seems to be on edge now.
They hurry down a different hallway, turn North at a T intersection and find a stairway going down. After 30' of stairs there is a 10'x10' landing with a pressure door, a circular hatch with a locking wheel in the center. It opens onto a hallway. They pass a connecting hallway and continue forward to a second hatch. Opening this they see a huge chamber beyond, but their light doesn't reach far enough to see any walls or anything inside.
There is a noise behind them.
At first all that they see is a corpse floating upside down, entering from that connecting hallway that they had just passed. It begins to turn toward them and they see that there is something growing out of it's back. The rib cage of the corpse splits open and they see that it is the jaws of some huge beast, exposed splintered ribs acting as teeth. As it turns the corner they see that it is a huge mutant monster made up of many different bodies.
|by Johannes Holm|
The party rushes through the open hatch and into the unknown room. Zheel the Halflingon pauses long enough to throw a bottle of Firewater at the beast. Another d30 is used for the damage, and the firewater bottle erupts mightily. The beast howls in pain and snaps at Zheel, but he makes it through the hatch. The PCs are able to push the hatch closed and turn the wheel to lock. They pause for a moment and listen, but the beast doesn't seem to be trying to get through the hatch.
This room is a 150'x150' chamber, and the walls are covered in unspeakable pornography. The level of detail and artistry is quite good, but that only adds to the discomfort of the viewer. There are pictures of elfmaids and ogresses, and a whole host of goblin females doing awful, degrading things. A great variety of uncomfortable scenes are depicted, but the one with the centaurs and mermaids seems especially horrible. This is about the time that the group noticed a formless fleshy blob undulating across the floor toward one of the mutants. It gets blasted with fire and starts backing away quickly. It tries to stay away from the PCs, but Sura is intent on finishing it off. It doesn't really have anywhere to hide, and Sura keeps shooting it with arrows until it stops moving. No one really speculates about why the fleshy blob is in the pornography room, and maybe that is for the best.
|Blob 3 by Jeanne Dunning|
They find another circular hatch on the far side of the room. Another long hallway. They pass by a stairway going up, and head over to yet another hatch, but this one is already open. This next chamber is also quite large. There are clay bowls on the floor in here holding various colors of paint. On the ceiling here is a work in progress. It looks like it is going to be of a dragon in flight while breathing fire. On the opposite wall they find yet another hatch. As Zheel reaches out to open it, the wheel begins to turn on it's own. The PCs get ready for a fight.
The hatch opens and these short, obese, toad-like men rush into the room wielding axes and shields. There are 5 of them, and they put up a good fight. The PCs damage all of them, but none of the short men ever make a sound. Some of the blows fail to pierce their blubbery hide. Two of the fat men hold the doorway while the other three retreat. Shields are splintered. These two get cut down after a couple of rounds, but their friends have escaped. The PCs shut the hatch and begin to examine these odd men.
...and that's the end of the session.