The Depths Of Avarice

Session 11 (04/01/10)

EXP Awards Dane Deuce Olaf Marina Morgana
Session Total 1 1 1 1 x
Experience Total 13 13 14 14 10

The cast of characters
GM Notes:This adventure is based on the adventure of the same name from Dungeon Magazine #157.

The party, stressed from their audience, retire to their inn. Dane seeks out a small traveller's shrine to Sigmar, spending the afternoon in contemplation. Marina takes a nap before heading out to shop. Deuce works on his rat ogre tooth necklace, managing to finish it finally. Olaf spends his afternoon stressing about what he will wear tonight until he is interrupted by the innkeeper who tells him he has a visitor.

The visitor is the widow of Korden, a fey troll. Hideous and not very feminine, Olaf manages not to point out perhaps why Korden left home to seek work in the lowlands as a blacksmith. She is distraught and Olaf comforts her, telling her about Korden's interment.

Soon dinner time arrives and the party arrives at the king's table. He is very interested in Marina, seating her to his right and coming on strong. Marina basks in the attention, plans of wealth and power percolating in her head. Dinner goes well, with the king telling of his early days as an adventurer as well as listening raptly to their tales. Towards the middle of the evening, he mentions the fortuitiousness of their arrival, telling them of a human noble who has come seeking aid in a bid to re-open a played out coppermine down towards the lowlands.

Thinking to kill-two-birds-with-one-stone, he plans on sending the party to deal with whatever the trouble is and earn an ally of the noble. This way, he furthers the glory of the party and keeps up appearances as an ally of the humans. Everyone wins. He tells them how to get to the mine, called Tessount's Folly.

About this time Olaf mentions that they can't go as there is Trouble At Bugman's. This roils the king up as he immediately calls for his warhelm and generals to rush to the rescue of the beleagured brewery. The rest of the party kick Olaf under the table, as their mission with the warpstone is supposed to be a secret. They smooth the incident over and the dwarf hold steps down from DefCon 1. Olaf's plan to become an Ironbreaker for the king, stationed at the brewery are dashed however. The king questions his ability as a warrior, doubting he can handle being an ironbreaker. Olaf is crushed.

The dwarf king's appetite is now ruined from the excitement and indigestion is setting in. He calls it a night, inviting Marina for a nightcap and an opportunity to write some adventures of their own. He lays it on thick and quite skillfully, wooing her. The rest of the party are pleased at this turn of events and leave for the inn. While the king is escorting Marina to his quarters, they pass his queen in the halls. She seems nonplussed at his philandering, but Marina has a change of heart and tries to take her leave. The king is insistent however, and Marina finally has to spurn him, earning her a curt dismissal.

On returning to the inn, she finds that the party, their mounts, and their luggage are all outside, they having been exiled to leave the area before dawn, or face arrest. They are all curious as to what occurred with the king to so quickly change their fortunes. She notes the Olaf has a suit of ironbreaker armor, even though the king denied him and finds out that Korden's widow had it delivered as a gift. They pack and ride hard for the city limits.

None of them are skilled riders, and though Marina is very graceful, both Dane and Olaf are rather clumsy and slow the party. Dane's horse comes up lame, but he is able to press on by foot, leading his horse. Olaf's mule is overburdened and he is forced to abandon some gear to keep up, including his old breastplate. It is dawn as they cross the arch on the road denoting the border and they are soon at a roadside inn in a small village. Dane stables his horse and pays for 3 weeks of care, obtaining a replacement, a rouncy named Pansy, in the meantime.

It is late in the morning the day after their exile from the dwarf hold when they arrive at the mine. The name Tessount rings a bell with Dane, and he remembers that it is the name of a small town with a cathderal, not too far down the mountains into the lowlands. No more then three days, there and back. He remembers further that both the village and the cathedral are named after Tessount, a wizard adventurer who converted to the Light and became a priest after returning from a particularly harrowing adventure in which only he and one other memeber of the party survived, a warrior named O'Hara. The rest of the party, and its leader, a powerful cleric of the faith, Oenemagra were never seen again, though in the years following Tessount's conversion, he pushed for Oenemagra's sainthood and won it. All this was almost 500 years ago, during the years following the Scourge.

The mine looks like it was once a busy place with a small village, but now the village lies abandoned and a collection of canvas tents is spread out at the mine entrance. The party is challenged and allowed to enter the camp where they meet Lord Haromount, an experienced looking mercenary captain in noble clothing. He is happy to see them as they make a formidable looking group of troubleshooters and fills them in on the situation. Olaf, part of his barber training being always up-to-date on current events for small talk with the clients, recognizes the family name of Haromount and that recently the father has passed away and that this man is indeed the elder son. He is pretty hazy on any other details though.

It would seem that a group of miners dissappeared while exploring some deeper shafts of the mine. A rescure party was mounted, led by Haromount's best man, crew chief Garag. They too have failed to return. Now many of the miners have fled and of those that have stayed, none will venture in deep. Haromount wants the party to enter the mines and deal with whatever is going on. He gives them a map and tells them that he has two crews working inside. The crew he marks on the map have among them some of the last people to see the missing crews alive. He suggests they speak to them before exploring. He offers a generous promise of pay and gives them half upfront, telling them that his funds grow short here and he must wait for a shipment to arrive to pay them the rest.

The party suspect that he is holding something back and that his reasons for exploring the mine do not include copper. As well, they conclude that a cult is probably involved, as well as some kind of monsters (players, ya gotta love'em). They enter the mining camp and settle in to plan and make ready for their mission. They learn that many of the miners hold a similiar suspicion that Haromount is here for more than just copper, but no one knows andything for sure. Also, they learn that the first crew lost were all unknowns to the other miners, unguilded riffraff who had joined late. Only one of that crew was left behind, a David Hassalhof. The party asks after him, determined to question him and search the tents of the missing first crew while he is distracted. They hear he has just recently headed into the mines so they take the opportunity to search the tents. Inside they find evidence that they group might just be some kind of cult, but they are unsure which one.

Hoping to catch up to Hasselhof they head into the mines. As they follow the map towards the miners they are to question, an explosion collapses the tunnel ahead, trapping the miners. An hour of digging frees them and an examination of the site shows that the cave-in was brought on by sabotage, not any structural failure. During the digging Olaf spots a pouch belonging to what can only be a member of the cult. It clues the party in on the fact that the cult has left markers to lead others to their location and Dane is able to finally recongnize the cult as that of Vecna, the dark whisperer of secrets.

The rest of the miners flee and the party debates the merits of leaving to talk/confront Haromount or continue into the deeper areas of the mine. Pushing on wins out and so they do. As they enter the tunnel leading to the deep mines where the crews were lost, Olaf stumbles on tripwires laid across their path, setting off more hidden charges which collapse this section of tunnel. Dane and Olaf are trapped and injured, but they escape any permanent harm. Deuce and Marina, who dodge the collapse are able to dig them free and they all are able to wiggle past the rubble.

Nearing the end of the tunnel they hear a gurgling shriek from ahead, as well as see a blood trail leading from where they are and curving out of sight ahead. They rush to investigate, following the trail of blood into another spur of tunnel off a large chamber. In the spur they find an old ore crusher, in which is the mangled body of the man that can only be, David Hasselhof. On his corpse they find a valuable, skull-like, ritual mask of Vecna, as well as a ritual dagger. As they begin to argue over the treasure, hideous, deformed creatures armed with picks and other miner tools lurch from the shadows, and attack. The creatures have blocked the exits from the room and trapped the party against the ore crusher. As they advance, their eyes black pools, they mumble about a prophet and his awakening, chilling the group.

The creatures, once miners, are strong, but not particularly fast nor a serious threat to the experienced group and soon the first of the creature is put down. As it dies, it shrieks and an oily blackness floods from it, infecting those near it with a terrible curse. At first only Deuce succumbs, but as all of the creaures are killed the rest of the party, save Olaf, are infected. The infected begin to hear a calling from below them in the earth and are also somehow aware of the presence of other infected in their vicinity, striking out almost reflexively at those around them not infected. Olaf is a little concerned and has to make sure not to make any sudden movements around the rest of the group.

The spur they had entered, following the scream and the blood trail, continues past the crusher room and down a sloped tunnel. They decide to push on. As they peer down the tunnel they see an overturned mine cart and can hear the sound of something winged, bats perhaps. Descending the tunnel, they approach a shadowed and unused room. Something bat-like flutters past them, more and more of the creatures emerging as they get closer. Getting more light on the creatures reveals them to be stirges, which swarm to the attack!

Session 12 (04/19/10)

EXP Awards Dane Deuce Olaf Marina Morgana
Session Total x 2 2 2 2
Experience Total 13 15 16 16 12

The cast of characters
GM Notes: Retconning a tad, Dane heads to the surface not feeling well after the fight with the cursed miners. Above, he fills Morgana in on the goings on below and passes out in their tent. Morgana arrives as the stirge attack begins.

The creatures swarm over Deuce and Olaf, though the defensive tactics of the party prevent too much damage. While Deuce is distracted by a couple swarms, the queen stirge drops on his back, jabbing her needle like proboscous into his neck. In attempting to dislodge her, he hits himself rather hard with his axe. Marina puts her pistol to good use, picking stirges off the others with deadly accuracy. Soon the stirges are dispersed. They find the body of an unfortunate victim and a tidy bag of gold coins on it.

Finding the stirges' nest to be a dead-end, they backtrack through the ore-crusher room and into the large cavern they bypassed earlier when they investigated Hassalhof's screams. Two smaller rooms adjoin the cavern and the mine track continues to the south. As they approach the first of the rooms, which appears to be a mine cart repair area, a figure bursts from hiding and attempts to flee past them. Marina and Olaf manage to tackle the distraught figure, who turns out to be one Daigelus. After calming the man, who has been driven to the edge of sanity and pushed over the precipice, he tells them a harrowing tale of the fate of the Garig and the rescue party.

He says that they followed the missing miners into the deep mines, setting a trap for any that would follow them by switching the signs on the lifts. After descending to the lower mines, they rode railcars into a long darkness where they passed the chasms where the "crawlies" dwell. The tracks of the missing party led them to a passage marked with skulls that led off the maps they had. Tracking the missing miners they came to a large cavern buried in bones where a great golden statue of a demon stood, belching strange smoke. As the others entered the room, choking on the smoke, horrific creatures arose from the bone littered floor and attacked. Daigelus, his sanity snapped, fled from the massacre.

After questioning the man, they escort him to the upper mines where he makes his own way out. Horrible as his story is it helps release some of the tensions in the mining camp and Lord Valmount is able to regain some control, now that the miners know he is not to blame for the disappearances.

More exploration of the area they are in turns up a hidden cache where they find more treasure. Deeming the treasure a bit too fragile, they hide it in another spot rather than try to carry it in further with them.

Pushing on they find the lift room. Remembering what Daigeluis said about switching the signs, they examine both lifts, finding that, indeed, the one marked as out-of-service is not, and the one not marked is a death trap. Not wanting to overburden the lift. Morgana and Deuce descend first. They find a room with several mine carts and a passage that leads off into the mountain as far as they can see. Olaf and Marina begin lowering themselves down, but before they can reach the others, a pack of mutated, blind, dinosaur-like creatures attack out of the darkness of the railtracks.

Blind as they are, their sonic attacks and rending claws have no trouble finding targets. Olaf manages to lower himself and Marina very quickly, but jams the lift. The pair have to jump to the cavern floor to enter the fray. Again, Marina's pistols and pinpoint accuracy carve a swath of destruction, though Deuce's axe cannot be matched for damage, as he cleaves one of the beasts in twain with a single blow. Broken, the surviving creatures swiftly flee into the dark.

Session 13 (04/26/10)

EXP Awards Dane Deuce Olaf Marina Morgana
Session Total 2 x 1 1 1
Experience Total 15 15 17 17 13

The cast of characters

GM Notes: On the surface, Dane hears about the arrival of the rescued miner after he manages to throw off the strange curse darkening his thoughts. He makes sure he is present in Haromont's tent for the debriefing where he learns of the fate of Garig's party. He notices that Haromont looks vindicated at the mention of the statue of gold. Dane directly questions Haromont and learns that Haromont's expedition is about recovering the statue, not re-opening the mine. Haromont immediately regrets telling Dane about it and has him confined to his tent with a guard on it. Dane manages to slip off and enter the mine to warn the party that Haromont might be a threat to them. He follows the route the main party has taken, managing to unjam the stuck lift. Looking down the dark mine tunnel he decides on riding a minecart and sets off recklessly into the darkness.

After the fight with the mutated lizards the party tends to their wounds and discuss what to do next. Marinna and Deuce fall even more victim to the curse, and overcome, the dwarf jumps into a minecart and rides off howling. Marinna is able to control her impulse to follow him, but informs the others that she cannot fight the draw that is pulling her deeper into the mine.

The party, distrustful of riding the rail, decide to walk into the tunnel. After a long time walking in the darkness, Marinna hears the squeal a railcar approaching fast. Dane's railcar plows into the party, her warning unheeded until the last second. Morgana dodges the cart, but Marinna and Olaf take the full brunt of it. She is knocked unconscious and, while Olaf's armor absorbs the force of the hit, his arm is wrenched painfully. The cart comes off the rail from the impact and Dane is sent sprawling. He is bruised but not badly hurt.

After first aid and filling each other in they decide to put Dane's cart on the tracks and continue down in it. It is a long trip in the dark and they pass many strange sights. Finally they see other carts ahead on the tracks, stopped. Investigating they find two carts and a rope ladder dropped over the side of the trestle. Below they hear the sounds of Deuce fighting. Quickly they descend the ladder, arriving in time to see Deuce fall to three wights, the most powerful of which is the dwarf Garig.

The wights seem intent that none shall pass and it is a harrowing battle. Olaf, already critically wounded to the point that falling unconscious will kill him fights a desperate battle of survival, but his new armor and the efforts of the party to heal and defend him pay off as Marinna guns the two lesser wights down and finally finishes Garig, who thanks her for freeing him from the "necromancer". Unable to rest here and unwilling to travel back to the surface they push onward.

Soon they come to an archway covered in skulls, runes, and writing. The opening, which was bricked up, looks freshly dismantled. Dane, Marinna, and Morgana are able to decipher the script which has both ancient and more modern writing. The ancient writing tells that ahead lies Caern Khalenwod. The runes were once part of the caerns defenses, but have long been rendered inert. The more modern writing, still hundreds of years old, are signed by Tessount and tell that the Horror of Caern Khalenwod lies trapped beyond, by the sacrifice of Oenemagra and to stay out lest the Horror be released. Unable to resist the draw of the curse on them, Deuce and Marinna insist they continue onwards.

Beyond the archway is a tunnel, the walls rune etched. At the end of the tunnel they find the room Daigelus told them about, a vast cavern of bones with a dais on which stands a golden statue of a demonic figure, twenty feet tall, red-black smoke roiling from its nostrils. They see that the statue is chained by wrists and ankles to the walls and by the neck to a plug set in the dais under its feet. The statue seems to be straining against its chains, arching its neck to lift the plug. The smoke seeps along the ground, not seeming to disappate. Deuce rushes towards the statue, heedless of danger. He begins to choke, but shrugs off the effect, pushing onwards. They party, still in the entranceway see movement under the bones and two snake-like creatures formed of the bone fragments burst forth on either side of the possessed dwarf.

Before they can strike, a golden radiance issues forth from the hole under the plug the demon statue is guarding. The light pushes back the smoke and holds the bone nagas, and Deuce, fast. Dane can feel the sanctity of the light and urges the party forward. Looking into the hole they see a circular room below them, perhaps ten feet in diameter. The walls are fused glass, etched with glowing runes. Suspended from the chain which passes through the plug and to another plug in the floor below is a stone sarcophagus.

Dane and Olaf descend the chain, while Marinna and Morgana stay topside. Each time Marinna's eye is drawn to the statue, which seems to be calling to her, it is in a different position, straining against the golden chains that anchor it. Dane and Olaf find the sarcophagus is the final resting place of Oenemagra and that the weight of his piety is all that holds the Horror. The sarcophagus has been opened and Oenemagra's bones lie scattered on the floor of the strange room, the skull missing. The plug below seems to lead to the haunted and desolate Caern Khalenwod, the residents also kept at rest by Oenemagra's sacrifice.

Dane and Olaf collect the bones and attempt to say a few words of faith as they put them back in the tomb. The sarcophagus sinks as they do this, dragging the demon statue's head down. Dane notices that the hammer on the outside of the sarcophagus is not just a bas relief, but an actual hammer, which comes off in his hands. They realize that they must recover the skull of Oenemagra to seal the Caern and the Horror.

From the dais they can see another opening into this cavern on the far side from where they came in and they set out. As they cross the bone-littered floor, Marinna feels the curse welling up inside her and with a final effort of will and the encouragement of her compatriots she throws it off.

Session 14 (05/06/10)

EXP Awards Dane Deuce Olaf Marina Morgana
Session Total 1 x 1 1 1
Experience Total 16 15 18 18 14

The cast of characters

Deuce is overcome by the curse and flees back into the ossuary, the dark and smoke hiding him. The party pushes on through the far door, the magic seals of which look recently broken. Beyond is a long canyon-like tunnel, the walls of which are covered in carved niches, once a resting place for the dead. Ahead they make out a pile of recently dead bodies, some mutated like the miners they fought in the ore-crushing room above. A trepiditious voice calls out for them to identify themselves. Marinna attempts to mimick the never before heard voice of David Hasselhof, but is thwarted by her feminine elven voice and the sad lack of ever hearing Hasselhof speak.

The two cult members open fire on the party with crossbows, but are overmatched and quickly dispatched. As the combat ends, Marinna notices four flaming skulls rise out of their niches above as well as two larger, ogre-sized, skeletons approaching from the ossuary. Fireballs and blasts of flame singe the party from the Flameskulls, and Dane is nearly overwhelmed by the Bone Guardians, but the party prevails on these minions of the Black Prophet sent to slay them before they can recover and destroy the skull.

Morganna recovers one of the crossbows, which proves deadly in her hands. The tunnel ends at the bottom of a minecart trestle, which the party manages to climb without too much trouble. It would seem the cultists came this way too, as the tracks are trapped; weakened to fail when someone crosses them. The party's keen eyes spot the trap before anyone is injured and they repair the track, ensuring the survival of any future miners.

Following the tracks they come to a spur where they hear the sounds of battle. It would seem the surviving cultists are holed up while their prior allies, now cursed, attempt to recover and destroy the skull. The party is spotted and attacked by the minions, allowing the cultists to jump into a mine cart and speed away into the darkness. Finishing the minions, the party boards a cart and rockets after them.

Marinna takes the brake, the only means of controlling the careening cart, and attempts to keep the cart on the track while closing with the fleeing cultists. Vast caverns, deep chasms, and tight turns flash by as the two parties exchange gunfire, spells, and arrows from their carts. The cultists are dispatched finally, their leader, a vile necromancer, the last to fall. As he does, the two carts violently collide, jarring the lights, plunging the tunnel into darkness. In that moment, Dane seems to vanish from the rear cart. The remaining passengers aboard look back to see if he is ok, while he stands up in the cultists cart, confused at the disappearence of his friends. Ahead, the tracks end in a collapsed trestle over a sixty foot chasm. With barely time to spare, Dane hauls on the brake, as does Marinna, and both carts come to a safe stop, far from the edge.

The party recovers the skull of Onemagra from the cult leader and backtrack all the way to the ossuary to return it. As they approach from the crypt tunnel they see lights ahead and hear voices. Lord Haromount has assembled a group of men willing to risk the dark and the curse to recover what he thinks is the golden statue. As the party enters the room his men have already broken the chains binding the Horror and have begun lowering the statue. With their arrival, the Horror, sensing the skull's proximity attempts one final gambit and a cloud of vile smoke and flares of purple lightning issue forth, shrouding the miners. Horrid sounds of flesh popping and bones breaking can be heard over the screams of the mutating men and as the smoke clears, the party faces the final battle to return the skull and bind the Black Prophet.

Session 15 (05/20/10)

EXP Awards Dane Deuce Olaf Marina Morgana
Session Total
Experience Total 16 15 18 18 14

The cast of characters

The party attempts to make the dias to return the skull while the mutated crew and Haromount attempt to stop them. A scrum forms around the dias as the skull changes hands over and over. The mutated Haromount self-destructs in a blast of swirling chaotic energy during a particularly vicious attack he makes and several of the other creatures are also destroyed in the fighting. Finally, the party spike the skull into the hole, reasserting the wards holding the Horror and breaking its enchantments. The surviving creatures are freed of their curse and return to human form unharmed, though a bit traumatized.

The party reseals the tomb and leaves the Caern. They lead the survivors out, remembering to take their fragile treasure they had hidden. Above they tell the camp of Haromount's death and that the mine must be sealed to avoid a repeat. It takes a few days to collapse the minehead, but it gets done. During this time a wagon arrives with a strongbox of cash sent by Haromount's younger brother, and the inheritor of their father's title and estates.

The party pays off the workers and send Haromount's guards with the remaining money, less their promised pay, and the remains of Haromount to report his death and the fate of the mine to the brother. The party has business in Altdorf and some wyrdstone to deliver.

Dane recovers his healed horse from the smithy on the way back to the brewery where they gather the lead box, runed in jade, that holds the warpstone. Bugman tells them that he was told as long as all the jade haden't blackened, the box would hold the corrupting magic of the wyrdstone. Looking at the box and doing some calculations, they figure they have at most 2 weeks before the magic of the box fails and they are exposed to the taint.

On the way to Altdorf, they stop in the town of Tessount to tell the priests there what had transpired in the mine and return Onemagra's hammer. The priests tell Dane that he has been charged to weild the hammer and only the High Priest in Altdorf can make a call on whether he should be allowed to keep it.

The party flush with gold and in a hurry spare no expense in making their travel arrangments, riding by river barge for most of the journey. The arrive in Altdorf after only eight days of travel. The city is a marvel: a large and bustling metropolis. They settle into an inn and Morgana attempts to contact her mentor in the Grey Wizards to return the stone. She has several odd run-ins but manages to deliver the stone as well as learn a bit more magick.

Her elders tell her that they would appreciate her and her companions investigating the sellers of this stone, which they agree to do.

On to Adventure Five: Secret of the Wyrdstone

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