From Garth’s Journals:
After a long night of talking strategy with Uncle Trom (as we have come to call him) and an aggressive discussion of both the name of our group and Trom’s cut, we’ve arrived at the following agreements.
- Trom is a full member of the group; he gets 1/5 share, or an even share among survivors. We will all cast lots for order of selection on items. If you die, you and your heirs get nothing. We all agreed.
- Someone can be voted in or out of our fellowship only by unanimous agreement (of course, kicking someone out requires unanimous agreement of the others- your vote doesn’t count in that case!)
- We argued over Trom’s Hammer, Trom’s Fist, Trom’s Torch and Trom’s Echo as names for our team, but none could agree on any. Ultimately, we went with Trom’s Reach, despite some minor objections. It was getting late, and we were all a little tired at that point.
- We decided to set out at first light into the dungeons below; our first objective is to recover the Axe of Echoes, and bring this back to Trom.
Scene 1: Into the dungeons
From Xeric’s Journals:
The morning brought with it our descent into the cavernous underbelly of Beldin Mere, the tunnels that remained of the once-fearsome prison complex of Mount Brim. The rudimentary library of Beldin Mere had granted little by way of lore regarding this complex, and I determined to record as much as I could for posterity. The first thing one must notice is the smell of brimstone that hangs in the air, polluting the cellars of the Inn of 99 Ears as soon as the capstone over the shaft opens. We descended carefully into the 3’ wide shaft, deciding that this would be our order of progress through the tunnels:
Ziroh, Runyon, Me, Garth
We descended carefully, arriving at the western end of a balcony that overlooked a temple. The temple had a handful of statues in various poses scattered beneath. We checked around the area carefully before we made our decision…
Since I know all of the obstacles that are here, it’s not reasonable that I’d be able to role play as well and think through problems. I’ll assume that my four heroes represent the full range of options. In general, I’ll roll 2D6 and get results that I’ll generally interpret like this:
2-4 The most dangerous or foolhardy course (Runyon’s view)
5-6 A risky or somewhat unknown course (Ziroh’s view)
7-9 A moderate course with some risk but possible reward (Garth’s view)
10-12 A conservative, safe course (Xeric’s view)
So, if I roll 2, the heroes just go for it; if I roll 12, they are exceptionally cautious, crossing their t’s and dotting their I’s before progressing. Sounds good.
They check the balcony, and find nothing. They scout out the west, and find a hallway that continues on, although they cannot see beyond the 30’ of torch light.
We decided to first examine the statues below. They seemed to be of remarkable craftsmanship, and we wanted to inspect further…
They lower themselves without a problem, noticing the northern door is ajar, and the southern door is apparently sealed. As they search, there is a 1 in 6 chance that the cockatrice rolls in… I roll and get a 6. Nope. The cockatrice is unaware of the visitors. I also roll for wandering encounters, and get 3. Also no wandering monsters this scene.
The heroes investigate the statues. The conservative course is to leave things as they are; the careful course is to move the statues around so that they face the walls away from the heroes (maybe giving them more time to get situated should they come to life), and the reckless course is to smash the statues. I roll and get 7. They collectively decide to leave the statues be for the present, since they aren’t sure what’s going on. They move carefully to the north door, and Ziroh decides to sneak in and check the room out (area 2). He rolls 8+2=10, and the cockatrice rolls 8+2=10. Ties go to the action, so Ziroh barely slips into the room to see the cockatrice picking at its feathers in the northeast corner of the room. He comes out and tells the rest of the team… Xeric rolls lore to see if he knows anything about cockatrices… he rolls 6+2=8….
I knew little about the cockatrice, and had only minimal suggestions; it turns its foes to stone, so the statues herein must be its victims. How to turn them back, and how to fight a cockatrice, I had no idea. I knew that some creatures had to touch you to turn you to stone, while others could do it only by sight. I suggested that we move back to the balcony, prepare ranged attacks, and use one of the statues (I suggested the spider) to draw the creature into the room, avoiding its gaze if at all possible.
There is a 1 in 6 chance that the cockatrice comes in as they prepare (since this takes several minutes). I roll 2, so they finish just as the cockatrice is about to go for a stroll. They position themselves so that Runyon is to the west (in case creatures entered that way), Ziroh is to the east, Garth is to the north, and Xeric is to the south. Runyon and Garth will work together to pull over the spider statue (using ropes they tie to it), ducking beneath the balcony side, while Ziroh and Xeric pepper the creature with ranged attacks. Ultimately, both Runyon and Garth can throw rocks at it, as needed. They both gather a handful from the chamber (they aren’t hard to find, from pieces of broken statues)
Pulling over the spider statue is DR 10. Between them, they have 8 CPs invested in might (+4), and Garth’s +1 shift brings them to +5. They roll and get 6+5=11. They easily topple the statue, and it smashes to pieces on the floor in a loud crash. The cockatrice enters carefully, investigating the room, moving around the pillars towards the center. Once it crosses between the pillars on the west side, the heroes attack.
For sequence, they roll:
Garth rolls 7+0=7
Runyon rolls 6+0=6
Xeric rolls 7+1=8
Ziroh rolls 9+1=10. He also rolls for stealth, getting 6+2=8.
The cockatrice rolls 10+2=12. Additionally, it rolls to notice Ziroh’s stealth, getting 8+2=10. It sees him up on the balcony right away.
- The cockatrice will leap at Ziroh, attempting to bite him and turn him to stone. It has to move 3 units and leap 2 more, so this will be a considerable effort… leaping to the 15’ balcony will normally require a DR 15 might roll, but the cockatrice (although it cannot fly) can use its wings to ‘flutter’ to one of the statues, and again to the balcony. I rule that this will be its full action this turn, if successful, but will put it in melee range for its next turn. It needs two might rolls (both DR 7) to make it to the balcony. It rolls 9+5=14, and easily gets atop the statue. It then rolls 5+2=7, and narrowly perches on the balcony rail, next to Ziroh. There is a 50% chance that this action knocks over the statue. We’ll say evens on a D6, and it falls. I roll and get 4; it falls! Evens it’s the fighter, and odds it’s the scout. I roll and get 2; the fighter falls to the floor with a heavy crash, shattering his statue. The cockatrice prepares to bite Ziroh on its next turn.
- Ziroh fires a bolt at the cockatrice in midair, as it prepares to land on the balcony. He rolls 4+3=7, and the cockatrice rolls 4+3=7 to evade. He narrowly clips it with a bolt in midair, and rolls 4+1=5 for damage, but the cockatrice soaks 7+0=7 wounds. Ziroh fails to wound it, but a flurry of feathers cascade to the floor below.
- Xeric throws an arcane bolt; he rolls 5+3=8 to hit, and the cockatrice rolls 2+3=5 to evade; Xeric hits by +3, and for damage he rolls 9+3+2=14 wounds, and the cockatrice soaks 5+0=5; he deals 9 wounds, leaving the cockatrice at 11.
- Garth will use his turn to close for melee. He has to move 3 units, so he can travel and still strike at -3. He does so, rolling 7+4-3=8 to hit, and the cockatrice rolls 6+3=9 to evade. He misses. He’ll save his resolve point in case he really needs it later.
- Runyon cannot cross the chamber in one turn, but he thinks about using the rope that the heroes descended from; I rule that it’s anchored near him, and he can use it to swing to the cockatrice as a single turn (with a -3 attack linked to it), on a successful roll. He needs to roll might, DR 10, to cross the expanse. He rolls and gets 8+4 (from the aura of might) =12, and manages to traverse the room, leaping from the rope and he swings with his sword at the cockatrice, getting 10+4-3=11, and the cockatrice rolls 7+3=10 to evade; he hits by +1. For damage, he rolls 2 (blech) +4+1=7 wounds, and the cockatrice soaks 5; it’s now down to 9 wounds remaining.
- On its turn, the cockatrice bites Ziroh, as promised. It rolls 8+2=10 to hit, and Ziroh rolls 6+2=8 to evade. The cockatrice hits by +2. For damage it gets 8+2=10, and Ziroh soaks 5+1=6, so he takes 4 wounds and is down to 6. He also has to resist the petrification; he rolls 6+1=7. He has no resolve, so he turns to stone. One down!
- Ziroh uses his turn to look like a handsome narglyn statue. He succeeds (no roll required).
- Xeric throws an arcane dart, getting 7+3=10 to hit, but the cockatrice rolls 9+3=12 to evade, and Xeric misses.
- Garth swings his hammer, getting 8+4=12 to hit, and the cockatrice rolls 7+3=10 to evade. He hits by +3, and for damage rolls 4+2+3=9, and the cockatrice rolls 7+0=7 to soak. It’s now down to 7 wounds remaining.
- Runyon swings his sword, getting 10+4=14 to hit, and the cockatrice rolls 3+3=6 to evade; Runyon hits by +8! For damage, he rolls 6+4+8=18 wounds, and the cockatrice soaks 7+0=7 wounds. The cockatrice suffers 11 wounds, and dies, falling from the edge of the balcony to the floor below in a pile of feathers and blood. Its head has been severed.
I’m going to house rule that you have to make a ‘system shock’ roll of sorts to recover from petrification. This would be a might roll, with a relatively low DR… we’ll say DR 7. The gnome is not yet an ally, so gets no bonus to this, but by virtue of being teamed with Garth, Ziroh has a might of +2 from the aura. The gnome scout rolls 6+0=6, while Ziroh rolls 8+2=10. Ziroh makes it, but the gnome is not going to… Garth uses a resolve point to allow the gnome to be part of his aura of might, so that the gnome makes the roll and survives.
For defeating the cockatrice, the heroes each earn 3 XP. For saving the gnome, they will get an extra +1 each, so all heroes are now at 4 XPs.
The gnome does not want to stick around. The heroes tell him how to get out, and he gladly takes the escape- but not before he tells the heroes that he suspected that his partner was ready to betray him, and he hid a small treasure in the area he and the fighter had used (19) as their safe haven.
- The cockatrice is a capable foe against level 1 heroes; it took out Ziroh in one attack, and odds were in its favor with each hit beyond this. I was tempted to add a second cockatrice (returning from wandering the halls to find its mate in battle) at some point, but decided against it because this is the first encounter in the dungeon (or at least it is likely to be), and the encounter already presents the possibilities of adding a spider, fighter and maybe even a gnome to the combat depending on how things go… in this case, the heroes got lucky and handled things well, so the encounter was easier. If that spider had sprung to life, if they’d been battling on the first floor, or if the gnome had died instead of the human fighter, we’d have a very different situation here.