The Keep on the Borderlands
As there were only two players, and myself as Dungeon Master, I let them roll up three characters each. One condition was that they chose one character as their primary character each and two extra characters. The characters were;
Lithanor - a lawful Calarii elf who has left his clan to explore the world and seek adventure.
Morgan Bernhardt – a neutral fighter, formerly a Glantrian mercenary, looking for revenge after his mercenary group was ambushed and all but wiped out.
Klaus – a lawful cleric who fled Glantri when it was discovered that he was a ‘religious fanatic’, and, shortly after arriving in Karameikos, became a follower of the Order of the Griffon.
Mazaramus – a chaotic magic-user, probably from Thyatis judging from the name, with an insatiable appetite for magic items and an unpredictable, and sometimes humorous, method of applying his magical knowledge.
Sneaky – a neutral female thief (you’d never guess from the name), who likes to employ her seductive charms as much as her thieving skills (her name is probably derived from a mispronunciation of the Ethangarian name Saneke).
Gandi – a chaotic dwarf from Rockhome, who drinks to fight and fights to drink.
Lithanor and Mazaramus are the primary characters.
The first session was basically a pub-crawl, starting at Penhaligon, near the Altan Tepe mountains, where the adventurers heard rumours of trouble at the Castellan Keep, involving raids by orc tribes on outlying villages and farmsteads. The adventurers set off into the mountains, and en route came across an ambush site, where apparently a group of trappers had been attacked by orcs while they camped, with evidence in the form of orc arrows and tracks left by the orcs and fleeing humans.
After a few days travel (and no beer for Gandi), the group finally arrived at the Castellan Keep, a.k.a. the Keep on the Borderlands. After being greeted by Garrak , the Sergeant of the Watch (played by Bob Hoskins), the adventurers visited either the chapel or the tavern and learnt a few rumours about the Caves of Chaos (including a useless bit of knowledge instantly dismissed by the dwarf that “bree-yark” is goblin for “we surrender”) before renting a bed for the night.
The adventurers set off on search of the Caves of Chaos, and decide to head due north into the forest. After a day of travelling, they set up camp. When they awaken (despite setting watches), Morgan finds that his sword is missing. They search around and come across a small pond with a tree overhanging it. On the near side of the pond, thrust into the mud, is Morgan’s sword. He is about to retrieve it when he hears a cackling voice asking cryptic questions about him. The party have discovered the mad hermit. The hermit is helpful towards the party, although his advice can be difficult to interpret. Fortunately, a talking mountain lion clarifies what the hermit is trying to tell them (the saner part of the hermit talks to the party using ventriloquism (a natural talent, not the spell) to make it appear as if the lion is talking). The hermit eventually tells the party how to get to the Caves of Chaos, but expects a favour in return for his advice, which he will ask for at another time.
The party, following the advice from the hermit, travel eastwards, across the large open space (where the Cave of the Unknown could be located, should the party decide to go in search of it later) and back into the forest just to the west of the Caves of Chaos. They come across evidence of large humanoids moving through the area, and when they set camp, Lithanor spots a group of gnolls some distance off making a lot of noise whilst hunting wild boars. The next morning, the party decide to double back some distance, travelling south-east, and coming to the road that leads through the forest and further into the Altan Tepe mountains. The party heads back into the forest, this time northwards, and emerge at the south-eastern end of the ravine in which they find the Caves of Chaos.
The adventurers lit up their torches and headed into the closest cave, which happened to be the goblin cave. The party had barely reached the first tunnel junction when a wandering group of goblins came across the party and sounded the alarm. The party fought off the first group of goblins and prepared to deal with the rest of the goblins that were approaching from two sides, some from the west and some from the south. A timely sleep spell from Lithanor cast down the west passage resulted in several small thuds as goblins hit the ground, and a loud THUD as something big and heavy also fell. The adventurers finished off the remaining goblins and looted them, and found that the large creature that had fallen was an ogre.
After this, they explored to the east and then south, finally coming across a heavy door with a warning on a sign on the door for the goblins to keep out. They doubled back to where they fought the goblins and found the secret door leading into the ogre’s cave. Venturing round into the main part of the cave, they discovered, sleeping on a large bed of leaves and stuff, was a large bear…
After some deliberation as to whether to risk taking on the bear, even though it was asleep, Sneaky crept forward to do a backstab, and found that it was actually just a bearskin lying on top of the pile of leaves to make a crude bed. They searched the bed and found the ogre’s treasure, including a few magic items. Deciding that there was too much treasure to carry around with them, the party decided to use the ogre cave as a storage point and distribute the treasure amongst the party later to take back to the Keep.
The adventurers then went off to explore the rest of the goblin cave, blundering into the common room where a large amount of goblins were waiting, along with the goblin chief. Gandi challenged the goblin chief to single combat, which the chief accepted while the rest of the tribe were supposed to watch. However, a mass brawl broke out between the tribe and the PCs, and the goblins were finished off.
The party then found the goblins store room, guarded by four not-too-alert goblins who were oblivious to the mass combat going on the common room. After dealing with these, the party proceeded to search the supplies, but were interrupted when some hobgoblins came in through a secret door to rob the goblins supplies. The party quickly hid amongst the crates and ambushed the hobgoblins. Now they could venture into the hobgoblin lair by the back door.
The adventurers gave up the element of surprise by blindly bundling into the guard room next to the hobgoblin chief’s chamber. Fortunately, they were able to deal with the hobgoblin guards quickly, and Klaus used a hold person from a scroll he had found in the ogre cave on the hobgoblin chief while the party dealt with the rest of the guards. They then found a set of secret doors that led into the main part of the hobgoblin lair. It wasn’t long before the party found the hobgoblin’s armoury.
After re-equipping themselves and upgrading their armour with that found in the armoury, the party ventured further into the hobgoblin lair. The first thing they came across was the front door, which, although barred on the inside, was unguarded. The hobgoblins were confident that anything trying to break through would either be unsuccessful or make so much noise that the entire clan would be alerted.
They then found the torture chamber, in which were several prisoners and two large hobgoblins. The party slew the hobgoblin torturers and proceeded to free the prisoners, which included two men-at-arms named Merrick and Talanius, who agreed to serve the party, a merchant and his wife, who rewarded the party with some gold and a magical dagger, a crazy gnoll, who attacked the party as soon as he was freed and had to be slain, and an orc named Bhakragh, who despised even his own tribe for their mistreatment of him, and agreed to join the party.
They proceeded to explore the remainder of the lair and take out the last few hobgoblins. One of the rooms was adjacent to the goblin lair, and the party figured out that the door in the goblin cave with warnings on it led into this room. The party decided to spilt into two groups and attack this room from two sides, with Lithanor leading a group around and through the goblin caves, while Gandi timed his attack to coincide with that of Lithanor’s group. The plan almost went awry when Gandi bundled in too soon, but was able to hold off the hobgoblins long enough for Lithanor, Morgan, Sneaky and the men-at-arms to attack from the rear.
After finishing off the hobgoblins, the party decided to head back to the Keep, distributing the treasure amongst the party first for transporting it back. On the way, they were able to camp up for the night and Mazaramus used a detect magic spell to discover that a strange piece of wood found in the hobgoblin chief’s fireplace was some kind of magic wand.
The party recuperated at the Keep, gained experience points (not enough for anyone to level up yet), traded their gems at the jewel merchant and stashed the bulk of their treasure in the Keep’s bank vaults. After hearing of their exploits, they were invited to a meeting at the Guild House by Berloff, the Captain of the Guard. Berloff was also a former mercenary, and was in fact with the group of mercenaries that Morgan formerly belonged to. Berloff was impressed with how the party was so far dealing with the Caves of Chaos, and told the party that if the Caves were to be completely cleared of evil humanoids and whatever other nasties dwelt therein, then the Castellan would be very grateful. The Castellan could be very influential and would ensure that the party’s deeds are known to other important figures in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Berloff went on to tell the party why the Keep could not launch an all-out attack on the Caves by the forces at the Keep. Furthermore, it was known that a group of bandits were nearby, possibly in the hills to the south of the Keep, and may be watching any movement to and from the Keep. If this group of bandits were eliminated, the Castellan may decide to send small groups of men-at-arms to secure the already cleared Caves with the aim of preventing them from becoming reinhabited. Bhakragh, the orc, also provided some insight into what dwelt in the various caves.
Rather than take Berloff’s advice and seek out the bandits, the party headed back to the Caves of Chaos. The party deliberated for some time as to which cave to explore next. Bhakragh added some weight to the rumour that ‘all the caves entrances were trapped’ by stating that he knew that both the orc tribes had some sort of alarm system in place but could be easily bypassed if the party was cautious. Unable to decide which orc lair to go for first, they decided to go for the partially hidden cave that they rightly suspected was a kobold lair ‘because it should be easy to take out a few kobolds’.
The party bundled headlong into the kobold lair, proceeding to trigger the pit trap which Morgan fell into, and were ambushed on three sides by one group of kobolds from the east, another from the south which were hiding in the woods and followed the party in, and a large number of giant rats from the west. Lithanor saved the day by casting a sleep spell on the larger group of kobolds. The men-at-arms used crossbow fire to take down a few giant rats while Mazaramus helped by throwing flaming oil flasks at the rats, setting fire to a mound of garbage in the process and filling the cave with blinding and somewhat noxious smoke fumes. A kobold from the east fled to warn the rest of the clan, and Morgan was eventually rescued from the pit.
The bulk of the clan attempted to drive the party out but, despite their numbers, were themselves driven back, and they retreated back to their common hall to make a last stand. The party pursued and eventually slew all the kobolds, although several party members had been wounded.
They explored the remainder of the kobold lair and defeated the kobold chieftain and his bodyguard. After this, the party decided to call it a day and headed back to the Keep after taking quite a beating themselves. Sneaky levelled up.
The party set off due south from the Keep and into the hills to search out the bandit camp. Sneaky scouted ahead and was able to take out one of their sentries, but the other alerted the rest of the camp. By the time the party were on them, they had dispersed to the sides of the clearing that they were camped in. Nevertheless, the party hunted them down. Morgan himself confronted the bandit leader, who was in fact Kurlis, the former mercenary who had betrayed Morgan’s group by leading them into an ambush. It was also discovered that the bandits had a supply of orc arrows, similar to the ones they found at the ambush site at the beginning of the adventure.
After going back to the Keep to inform Berloff that not only had they dealt with the bandits, but brought their former betrayer to justice, the party set off for the Caves of Chaos once again. This time they decided to take on the easternmost orc cave. Facing them as soon as they entered the orc cave was a wall of disembodied heads and skulls. The party failed to notice that one of the heads was an orc watching the cave entrance from a niche behind the wall. Whilst the party dealt with the guards immediately to the east, the rest of the tribe was on the alert and taking up positions to fight the party en masse. A brief and bloody battle ensued, with the party emerging victorious and only taking a few slight wounds. After this, they hunted down the orc leader, who had remained in his own chamber, confident that his orcs would deal with the party, and slew him. Gandi took the orcs shield as a trophy, which was later discovered to be magical. They also found a small cave hidden behind some tapestries, where a cache of treasure was stored, including some potions and a scroll with a fire ball spell on it.
A secret door in the leaders' room led into a forgotten chamber, containing a few weapons. Sneaky found a pouch underneath an old bucket, but also disturbed some giant centipedes. Sneaky was bitten and poisoned by the centipedes before the party could come to her aid and smash the bugs to a pulp. With Sneaky rapidly becoming violently ill, the party had to cut short their foray and take her back to the Keep to recover.
A sudden winter chill brought in a cold, biting fog. Patrol groups from the Keep had to be recalled until weather conditions improved. It also meant that the denizens of the Caves of Chaos were unlikely to be venturing out of their lairs.
Klaus levelled up, and was now able cast a healing spell once per day. Bhakragh also levelled up, using the rules for humanoids in Gaz 10: The Orcs of Thar.
While the rest of the party were whiling away their time in the tavern, the jovial priest approached the party, introducing himself as Elgrun, and upon hearing about their stricken comrade, offered his healing services to help speed her recovery. The party agreed, and Elgrun tended to Sneaky, while at the same time learning what he could about the party and their plans from Sneaky’s delirious murmurings.
Several days later, Sneaky recovered, and the party asked if Elgrun wanted to join the party and help to clear out the Caves of Chaos. Elgrun said he would give it some consideration. The harsh winter fog had cleared, and the party set off once again for the Caves of Chaos without waiting for Elgrun.
Back at the caves, the party proceeded to clear out the second orc lair. Despite Bhakragh’s warning that his former tribe like to set traps at the entrance, they managed to stumble right into the net alarm trap, and had to fight off the orc guards whilst Gandi and Morgan were trying to free themselves from the net. Fortunately, the orcs were not very numerous, and the party were well equipped and armoured, and they were able to defeat all the orcs.
After the fight with the orcs, the party explored the rest of the lair and found the orc leader and his bodyguard. These were slain without too much trouble, though some party members were slightly wounded by now. After gathering up the orcs treasure, including a magical rope tied around a sack, they made a quick trip back to the Keep for some healing before tackling the tougher caves.
It was on the trip back to the Keep that Lithanor discovered that the rope was in fact a rope of climbing. They were camped for the night on the edge of the forest to the east of the Keep, and in the morning Lithanor experimented with the rope to see what it was capable of. Attaching one end to a large tree, he climbed up it, then got some other party members to try to climb it in order to see how much weight it could take. At this point, Lithanor, Gandi and Morgan were swinging at various heights of the rope. The mad hermit had come to seek the party out and remind them that they owed him a favour, but at the sight of the party was rolling about with laughter at the edge of the forest.
Joined by Elgrun and his two acolytes, the party swiftly returned to the caves and found the bugbear cave hidden amongst a wood to the west of the orc lairs. A sign at the entrance in all the humanoid tongues invited any visitors to come in for a hot meal and a bed. The party entered, with Bhakragh pretending to have captured Gandi and Morgan and going ahead of the rest of the party. They proceeded to the bugbear guard room, where the three guards were busy eating meat off of large pokers. The guards presented some meat on the end of a poker to the party as an invite to eat, but were actually about to attack…
The adventurers were too heavily armoured for the bugbears, and were swiftly dealt with. The party then headed northwards and found the bugbear chieftain. Despite being quite tough, the party was too numerous and brought him down. They then found the chieftain’s treasure in a chest on a high ledge, which Lithanor was able to reach with his rope of climbing. They also found the bugbear’s store room which was found to contain amongst the various foodstuffs a keg of lantern oil which would last for some time and a tray of catnip, though what use this was to the party was at this time unclear (it was later discovered that the tray was, in fact, a shield +1).
Exploring further, they found the main common room, in which were thirteen bugbears, some being females and younger bugbears though still a threat in combat. Mazaramus decided to try out his wand that he found in the hobgoblin lair and found it to be a wand of paralysation. A bluish light filled the room and all but two of the bugbears were paralyzed. After looting the room, the party proceeded southwards and down some stairs where a few more bugbears were guarding the approach to some cells.
After taking out the bugbears guarding the cells, the party took the keys and went to free the prisoners. The bugbear captives turned out to be mostly captured humanoids from other caves. There was also a rebel bugbear, who wanted revenge on his captors and agreed to help slay any remaining bugbears, and a large barbarian by the name of Korgath of the Heldann Freeholds who was prone to fits of berserker fury in combat. As there were no more bugbears in the lair to be slain, the party led the former captives out of the dungeon, and encountered two more bugbears returning to the lair dragging a human corpse. The rebel bugbear and the barbarian charged into the bugbears, with Morgan, Gandi, Lithanor and Bhakragh joining in. The bugbears were slain, but the barbarian was in bloodlust mode and started attacking Gandi. The party gave the barbarian a wide berth, and he soon realised that the fight was over and simmered down. During the fight, most of the freed humanoids fled. The rebel bugbear thanked the party for his release and said farewell to the party before following the fleeing humanoids to guide them to safety. Bhakragh had given them directions to eventually reach the Broken Lands (also known as the Land of Thar) in relative safety, avoiding the elven and dwarven realms that lay between.
Klaus suggested that the human corpse that the bugbears were carrying should be given a decent burial. They ventured south and to the bottom of the ravine, into another small wood, and found a spot to bury the unfortunate soul. Elgrun noted the burial site so that the body might later be raised as a zombie. After burying the body, the party found another cave a little off to the west from which emanated a horrific stench.
Exploring the foul-smelling cave, the adventurers found it to be naturally formed tunnels strewn with bones and rotten bits of corpses. They found a few copper, silver and electrum pieces amidst the filth before exploring northwards. There they came across a small cavern containing a clear pool. Mazaramus prodded ahead with his 10’ pole, scapping the ceiling in doing so and disturbing a gray ooze lurking there, which began to dissolve the end of the pole. Retracting his 9’11” pole, the party slowly withdraw as the gray ooze advanced, followed by two more which emerged from around the pool. Mazaramus scorched one with a magic missile spell, and the adventurers found that they could be harmed with normal weapons. Taking advantage of the fact that the gray oozes were slow moving, they killed them with missile fire.
They then resumed searching the tunnels, finding a few more coins, but attracting the attention of an owlbear which dwelt at the southern end of the tunnels. Korgath charged the beast but was held in a bear hug by it. The rest of the party hacked away at it and slew it before it could crush the life out of Kalgoth. Searching the creature’s lair, they found a scroll of protection from undead. The party then returned to the Keep to recuperate and get some experience points.
The party decided to take a slight detour on the way back to the Keep, visiting the mad hermit and his cat after his recent reminder that he may need a favour from the party. The hermit explained (in his usual cryptic fashion) that he lost a black box somewhere near the marshes to the south-east of the Keep, and would be grateful if the party would retrieve it. However, if they found it, they were not to return it to the hermit, but to give it to “the other elf”.
Back at the Keep, the party took Korgath to see the curate for some much needed healing. He had taken a lot of damage from the owlbear, enough to kill any other party member. Morgan Bernhardt and Gandi both levelled up to second level. Sneaky and Bhakragh reached level 3. Mazaramus was 23 xp short of reaching second level.
Fully recuperated once again, the party set out for the marshes. Elgrun told the party that he was only interested in exploring the Caves of Chaos, so he would wait for the party to return before joining them again.
A few hours later, the party reached the marshes and came across a low mound. Venturing onto the mound, they were attacked by about half a dozen lizardmen. Kalgoth slew two in a berserk fit, and the party had to again avoid his blows before his rage subsided. They then came across a small cave entance in the side of the mound, which they rightly guessed was the lair of the lizardmen. With no desire to be on the receiving end of Kalgoth’s fury in such cramped quarters, they sent Kalgoth in ahead of the party to deal with the remaining lizardmen while they advanced cautiously behind. The last few lizardmen, though smaller than those they had fought on the mound above, were vicious and quick. One of them leapt at Kalgoth, sinking its jaws into his neck. Gandi, Lithanor and Bhakragh rushed to his aid, slaying the last few lizardmen, but Kalgoth was mortally wounded. Klaus went to heal the barbarian, but with his dying breath stopped the cleric, stating that he could wish for no greater end than to die in combat.
After mourning the loss of their new found comrade and making a cairn for him, the party searched the rest of the lizardman cave, finding a small amount of treasure and some potions…and a square depression in the mud, about the same size as the box described by the hermit.
It was at this point that Gandi recalled hearing a rumour whilst in the tavern that an elf had disappeared across the marshes. It was obvious that the box that the hermit had lost was here, but where it was now was a mystery. As the elf had disappeared across the marshes, then the party should cross the marshes too. Heading further east, the party found a small forest of conifers, quite unlike the trees of the forest between the Keep and the Caves of Chaos. Venturing in, they were soon attacked by two giant black widow spiders. Slaying these, they searched the area near the spiders’ webs and found the skeleton of an elf under a pile of leaves, along with a magical elven shield…and a small square black box.
The box was very unusual in that it was mad of a material that no-one in the party recognized, and had no visible openings. Lithanor was a little confused at first, thinking that the elf skeleton was “the other elf” that the hermit had referred to.
They once again returned to the Keep. Garrak told the party that they had not long missed the return of their cleric friends, but this failed to ring any alarm bells with any of the party. Mazaramus levelled up, and was tutored by the Castellan’s adviser, an elf by the name of Luren Salisen. Luren also agreed to investigate the strange black box that they had found and inform the party of its use, if he could determine it himself.
Rejoined by Elgrun and his acolytes, the party ventured into the cave to the south-west of the bugbear cave. This was another network of natural caverns and tunnels. A short way in, the party found a cave wherein nested a number of stirges. A few party members were struck by the flying creatures and had to be quick to deal with them before they sucked any blood out of those hit. Elgrun shrivelled one with a cause light wounds spell, and the party were able to deal with the remainder with a combination of crossbow fire and hacking them down with weapons.
Moving further into the caves, the party began to get their directions confused, and stumbled into a nexus of tunnels in which three fire beetles lurked. These were slain, and Mazaramus cut out the glands for additional light sources. Looking around, they found that three tunnels led away, and another three came to a dead-end after about 20’. Moreover, they didn’t have the slightest clue as to which tunnel they had come down.
The party tried various methods to counter the confusing effect of the caves, including making notches in the floor and holding on to one wall whilst travelling along, though to little avail. They eventually came to another cavern containing fire beetles and slew these. They then decided to send a small scout group, comprising Morgan, Gandi, Elgrun and the two acolytes. The clerics became separated and ended up back with the rest of the party. Morgan and Gandi ended up in a large cavern which was the lair of a minotaur. Meanwhile, the rest of the party had decided to try to find Morgan and Gandi, and were able to follow the sounds of combat and the bellowing of the minotaur. Morgan had become seriously wounded in the fight. Mazaramus cast a light spell into the minotaur’s eyes, blinding it, and the party were able to slay the beast.
At the back of the minotaur’s lair, the party found a stash of treasure in a small cave hidden behind a boulder, including a suit of magical elven plate mail and a staff of healing. With the minotaur slain, the confusing effects of the caves seemed to dissipate. The party returned to the Keep, even though Morgan was fully healed by the staff by the time they got back. Klaus ascended to being a third level cleric.
With only two caves left to explore, the party deliberated for some time as to which one to head for next. One at the head of the ravine seemed desolate, the approach strewn with bones and anyone approaching had a feeling of unease. The other, at the western end on the south side, was higher up and overlooked the ravine. Bhakragh told the party that the higher cave was the gnoll lair, and even the humanoids stayed clear of the cave at the end of the ravine. Lithanor was in favour of dealing with the gnolls first. Mazaramus wanted to explore the other cave, which they suspected was full of undead. Elgrun also tried to convince the party that they should ignore the gnolls and explore the more eerie cave.
As it was close to nightfall, the party decided to rest up for the night in the already cleared out goblin caves, which were now guarded by a small patrol group from the Keep. On Elgrun’s watch, he sent an acolyte to report to the priest in the undead cave, informing him of the party’s recent activities. His absence was noticed by Sneaky, but Elgrun said that he had gone off to find the men’s room.
The party eventually decided to tackle the gnoll lair first, but prior to that, Sneaky went off to scout a short way into the undead cave alone, using doses of her potion of invisibility. The walls of pure black with veins of red running through them made her uneasy, but she ventured on nonetheless, coming to a door beyond which she could hear chanting. She opened the door and tossed in a stone which Mazaramus had cast a light spell on, revealing four robed figures. If the clerics of evil chaos didn’t know about the party before, they certainly did now. Sneaky made a swift exit before she was discovered.
The adventurers went in to take out the gnolls. The sentries made an attempt at holding the party at bay with longbow fire from two of the gnolls, while the other two rushed off to warn the rest of the tribe. The party rushed the gnolls and overwhelmed them, though they took some wounds from arrow fire in the process. Hurrying after the other gnolls, they found the common room and Mazaramus paralyzed most of them with his wand, making it easy for the party to deal with the remainder. They then found the gnoll’s store room, in which Gandi found a large keg of ale and was soon inebriated. Lithanor found a fancy elven blade which he immediately took a liking to, but turned out to be a cursed sword -1.
They finally came upon the gnoll leader and his bodyguard, who put up quite a fight before being slain. They then found a secret door at the back of the leader’s room, behind which was a tunnel leading to a dead end. They searched this thoroughly, but failed to find the second secret door at the end. However, they did find the skeleton near the secret door they had found, on whose feet were a pair of elven boots which Sneaky took.
The party returned to the Keep to ensure that they were at full strength before taking on the last cave.
The curate used a remove curse spell from a spell scroll to free Lithanor of the cursed sword. The party then returned to the Caves of Chaos and entered the Shrine of Evil Chaos. The first thing they did was head for the door that Sneaky had previously found and dealt with the acolytes there. Elgrun and his acolytes were not happy with the way the party was systematically slaughtering his allies. Elgrun bided his time, waiting for the most opportune moment to show his hand and betray the party. The acolytes were found to have amulets depicting a five-headed snake in the form of an upside-down pentagram. Klaus attempted to melt them down by throwing them into a nearby brazier.
The party then headed towards the southern end of the complex. They found a tunnel that was completely blocked with boulders. As this would take some time to clear, the party ignored it and pressed on. They then came across a room lined with skeletons. At the southern end was a stone chair adorned with gems. Suspecting that they were undead, Gandi went up and smashed one. The rest animated but Klaus turned some of them, allowing the party to take them on piecemeal and easily destroy them. Sneaky then prised the gems from the stone chair.
Another nearby chamber contained zombies. Klaus failed to turn them, partly due to amulets of protection from turning that they were wearing. The zombies were slow moving, so the party took a couple down with missile fire before slaying the rest in combat.
Session Twenty One
Having explored all of the southern end of the complex, with the exception of the boulder-filled passage, they went back up the main corridor ending at the acolytes’ chamber. The corridor turned west, running up a slope, and a door in the east wall lead down a curved stairway to the lower catacombs. The party took the door to the catacombs.
The first room they came across was a torture chamber. Sneaky had scouted ahead but was discovered and caught by the torturer. Holding her ransom, the torturer called out for the rest of the party to reveal themselves, calling them by name. The fact that he knew the names of the party members should have been another clue that something was amiss. The torturer issued a challenge, offering to take on the most powerful warrior in the party in single combat, and Morgan Bernhardt accepted the challenge. Morgan proved himself the more competent warrior and slew the torturer in two rounds. Close by were the torturers quarters, in which they found a polished silver mirror.
The party carried on exploring the catacombs, eventually arriving at the entrance to what was evidently a store room. The party heard a faint slurping noise, and had they taken the time to look, would have seen that the room looked strangely distorted, and might even have seen the coins and a few bones hovering just inside the entrance. Lithanor and Gandi went into the room to check the boxes, and walked straight into the gelatinous cube. Lithanor failed his saving throw and was paralyzed. Morgan and Bhakragh attempted to pull him free and ended up trapped inside the gelatinous cube themselves, though Bhakragh had managed to pull Lithanor out. The rest of the party slew the gelatinous cube, which collapsed into a pile of slimy goo before it could do much more damage to those trapped inside. The party waited for the paralysis to wear off, and Klaus used his spells and the staff of healing to restore the wounded party members to full health. Meanwhile Mazaramus had found that one of the ‘bones’ that had been floating inside the gelatinous cube was actually a wand. They also found the secret door that led back to the gnoll lair.
Session Twenty Two
After recovering from their sticky encounter, the party headed back northwards to explore the rest of the catacombs. They discovered a crypt, the walls of which were lined with sarcophagi. The party went around opening the sarcophagi and smashing the skeletons within in case they were undead and ready to animate. Gandi opened one and was immediately attacked by a wight armed with an ancient, yet sturdy, sword. Gandi’s armour prevented the wight from landing any blows, but the wight was immune to the party’s non-magical weapons. Gandi wielded a magical hand axe and could hurt it. Mazaramus struck it with a magic missile, and Lithanor had to resort to stabbing it with a magical arrow held in his fist (had he kept the cursed sword he recently had removed, he would have been able to damage it with that). They eventually slew the wight. Lithanor took the sword, later finding it to be a longsword +2. Also in the wight’s sarcophagus was a scroll of protection from undead and what Sneaky thought to be a legendary skullcap that improved thieving skills, but actually turned out to be a helm of alignment change when she put it on, and her alignment changed to lawful.
Venturing on, the party found a cell, in which a medusa was chained, but mostly out of sight from the grille in the door except for her legs. Nevertheless, the party entered cautiously, after Sneaky had heard the sound of snakes, and used the polished mirror found in the torturer’s chamber to safely look at her. The medusa promised not to attack the party if they rescued her, as she only wanted revenge on her captors. As soon as she was freed, she recognised Elgrun and the acolytes and attacked them. Sneaky and one of the acolytes were petrified as she tried to attack Elgrun. The party considered using the mirror to petrify the medusa by making her see her own reflection, but in the end slew her by using the mirror and the insides of their shields to attack her. They found an elixir of stone to flesh on her and used this to de-petrify Elgrun and the acolyte, being none the wiser as to why she attacked them. They also cut her head off and wrapped it in a cloth to be used as a weapon later a la Clash of the Titans. Having fully explored the catacombs, the party returned to the main part of the shrine complex, at the foot of the sloping corridor.
Session Twenty Three
At the top of the sloping corridor, the main corridor branched north and south. The party headed south first, and found an evil chapel. The south wall was covered by a tapestry showing a nightmarish landscape. Before the tapestry was an altar, on which were some ancient bronze vessels that appeared quite valuable. Klaus cast a detect evil spell and the objects on the altar glowed purple. The party wisely chose not to take the objects that were in fact cursed, and anyone taking them would have come under the influence of their evil, becoming evil themselves and servants of the powers of evil chaos.
The party returned to where the corridor branched, and this time headed north. After a short while, they came across a couple of doors in the east wall, which was found to lead into a chamber occupied by a group of adepts. The adepts were ready for the party and immediately began casting spells. Mazaramus attempted to paralyse them with his wand but they all made their saving throws. Two had their spells disrupted by missile fire, but one of the adepts cast a darkness spell at the party. This gave two of the adepts the chance to exit through the other door to warn the priest that the party were on their way. Elgrun and his acolytes also took this opportunity to flee with them. The two remaining adepts fought on, one attempting to use his cause light wounds, but were both slain. Klaus and Sneaky ran after the other two adepts whilst the party were still fighting the adepts. The rest of the party followed as soon as they had dealt with the clerics, although Mazaramus remained behind to search the room.
Klaus and Sneaky found themselves in a large temple. Scores of undead skeletons and zombies lined the walls. Tapestry adorned most of the wall, but the west wall was a shimmering, translucent red stone with purple, yellow and green forms swaying across its surface in an almost mesmerising fashion. Three altars were at the before this wall, and waiting there were the two adepts, Elgrun and his two acolytes, three zombies in plate mail, and Acharon the priest of evil chaos. Between these and the party (most of them swiftly caught up with Klaus and Sneaky) were another group of eight zombies.
Acharon was about to go into his speech about how he would destroy the party unless they converted to his cause and would bring the defenders of the Keep of the Borderlands to their knees, but the party didn’t give him the chance and launched into the attack. Acharon cast a silence 15’ radius spell at the party, preventing any spell casting, and the skeletons swarmed at the party whilst the zombies slowly shuffled forward, although the three pate armoured zombies were kept back to shield the priests. Lithanor borrowed Sneaky’s potion of invisibility and snuck round the undead and out of the area of the silence. Once clear, he cast the fire ball from the scroll that they had found in one of the orc lairs at the clerics, incinerating quite a few zombies, the acolytes and adepts, and slaying Acharon. Elgrun and two of the plate armoured zombies survived the blast. A long battle ensued with the remaining zombies, and Lithanor found himself single-handedly fighting five skeletons. Elgrun went to retrieve Acharon’s snake staff from his lifeless fingers when Mazaramus entangled him with his bola.
Lithanor fought off the last of the skeletons, and Bhakragh had broken through to help him. Elgrun managed to break free of the bola entangled round his legs and fled, closely followed by the two armoured zombies. Lithanor and Bhakragh pursued while the rest of the party finished off the last few zombies. Elgrun ordered the two armoured zombies to stand guard in order to slow his pursuers, but Lithanor and Bhakragh quickly brought them down and caught up to Elgrun in the priests quarters, where he was looking for the secret door to escape through. Lithanor offered the chance for him to surrender, but Elgrun took his chances in combat rather than being executed, or at the very least, being incarcerated for a very long time, and was run through by the elf and the orc. The party looted the last few rooms, discovering a substantial amount of treasure in the form of red gems and the magical items on both of the priests.
The party returned to the Keep triumphant, and after looting the priest’s apartment, were invited to an audience with the Castellan and given the run of the Keep (within reason, of course). Klaus, Morgan, Mazaramus, Sneaky, Gandi, Lithanor and Bhakragh all levelled up. Lithanor was especially relieved to have advanced a level, having spent the entire adventure as a 1st level elf. Even the two men-at-arms, Merrick and Talanius, had advanced a level, and could no longer be considered run-of-the-mill soldiers.
There were still a few loose ends to tie up, training, re-supplying and so forth, but the party were looking forward to setting off for their next adventure as soon as the winter had passed. Bhakragh, meanwhile, provided some entertainment to the patrons of the tavern by showing them the OrcWars game he had designed and playing it with them.
There was also the matter of the strange black box that the Castellan’s advisor was investigating. It had mysteriously opened and then suddenly disappeared, revealing only its contents, which Luren gave to the party; a clue to their next adventure…
There was also the matter of the strange black box that the Castellan’s advisor was investigating. It had mysteriously opened and then suddenly disappeared, revealing only its contents, which Luren gave to the party; a clue to their next adventure…