Stonehell and its surrounds

Session 12 - Stonehell
"I've got the witch... and lycanthropy." - Wilhelm
Escape from the ghouls

Wilhelm waited for the paralysis to wear off. This took some time during which the noble became intimately familiar with the nooks and cobwebs of the vaulted ceiling. As he felt movement returning to his limbs he also heard echoing screams as one of his erstwhile companions suffered horrible torments at the hands of the vengeful gentlemen. Thankful that it was they and not he, Wilhelm began the slow and careful process of levitating his way out the ghoul’s hall and away from this predicament. To escape he had to pass the shattered double doors. As he approached them Wilhelm noted an unusual shadow. It seemed to Wilhelm that one of the ghouls stood watch outside though he was invisible only given away by his shadow. Steeling himself Wilhelm leapt at the shadow and slashed about himself with his axe. Alas Wilhelm’s initial assault failed and he took several hits in return. The torturous screaming of his companions drowned out the sound of their desperate combat. Finally Wilhelm landed a fortunate blow on his invisible foe. The ghoul he battled fled back into the halls calling for help. Wilhelm seized his chance and fled as swiftly as he was able only pausing for breath once he was safely back in the elevator which had led him down to these miserable depths.

Well met ogre

Returning to his closest sanctuary, the Kobold Market, Wilhelm took his usual room at the Rat on a Stick. A number of lizard folk and a mighty ogre mingled here with the regular clientele of kobolds. The ogre was attempting to intimidate the lizard folk into joining his ‘tribe’ though the lizardfolk were having none of it. Liking the ogre’s brutal style Wilhelm inquired into his availability for adventuring.
‘I say my fine ogre what say you to a spot of adventuring. I have been quiet successful in the past and will be again.’
‘Sounds good.’ Replied Vargthick, the portly ogre. The two rapidly became friends.
At this point a kobold cleared his throat. ‘Excuse me Wilhelm. Trustee Sniv wants you to know that slaves will be here shortly. Probably tomorrow.’
‘Good. He still owes me two slaves as payment.’ Wilhelm responded. ‘Make sure you tell me as soon as the slaves arrive.’
Wilhelm rested in order to recover from his injuries sustained from his encounter with the ghouls. As the hours ticked by a forlorn Ogre arrived in the wretched excuse for a tavern. Urgack had been a member of the Marrowsuckers, the tribe recently obliterated by the hero’s. With his tribe gone he had lost his purpose, it took little convincing on Vargthick’s part to convince Urgack to sign-up.

Trustee Sniv’s Betrayal

‘Slaves are here. Follow me to Trustee Sniv.’ The kobold messenger led Wilhelm and his towering ogre bodyguards through the markets to the bosses chamber. The monocle and fez wearing Trustee Sniv greeted them in his chambers flanked by bodyguards.
‘Where is Frank?’ Trustee Sniv inquired.
‘Gone.’ Replied Wilhelm. ‘We parted ways.’
‘That is most unfortunate.’ responded Sniv as he approached the curtain. Sniv liked to make a show of the unveiling of new slaves. He kept them behind a curtain making it into a theatrical production. ’And now I present to you your latest slaves.’ Sniv parted the curtain and ducked behind it desperately squeaking ‘It’s not my fault, she made me do it!’

Death by a thousand teeth

With the curtains parted the band could see a score of furred giant rat people with malevolent red eyes. Sniv’s guards stood by in shock as the rat folk leapt at the group. Initially unperturbed by their relatively ineffective attacks the hero’s soon had cause for concern. The ratman assault was relentless and their sharp teeth took their toll over time, eventually tearing down Urgack through sheer weight of numbers. Vargthick wailed about him with his mighty maul but found the beasts resistant to its blows. With things looking grim Wilhelm took to the ceiling thanks to his levitating boots, and began to bombard the clustered creatures with burning oil. With two of their number slain to hammer and axe the ratmen beat a hasty retreat.
Wererat

A serpents revenge

Trustee Sniv’s throne room was silent for a moment before the hero’s heard an ominous hissing. Vargthick, having heard of Wilhelm’s brush with the medusa, closed his eyes. Wilhelm took a gamble. He pulled himself along the ceiling till he saw the snake haired medusa, he readied his axe ready to drop upon her. Drop he did, like a stone as the medusa’s gaze took effect and Wilhelm became a statue.
“Ogre, I have no quarrel with you.” The medusa began bargaining with Vargthick. “Step aside and allow me to pass. My revenge is complete and you need not die from some misplaced sense of loyalty.” Larchess the medusa moved towards the exit while Vargthick stepped aside keeping his eyes shut tight. At the last moment however the ogre hefted his maul and swung mightily. The blow connected with Larchesses midriff with a satisfying crunch. Howling in pain the medusa fled. As she navigated the corridors of the kobold markets all those who saw her became statues, their stoned forms slowing the lumbering ogres pursuit to the point where a disappointed Vargthick gave up.

Bargaining with the Deep Elves

The encounter with Larchess had left the kobold community devastated. Trustee Sniv had been turned to stone as had half the market as the medusa fled into it’s panicked confines. Despairing that his new companion was doomed to a life of stone Vargthick sought consolation in looting Trustee Sniv’s longboxes full of coin. That is till a kobold approached mid coin count. ‘1001, 1002, umm…’
‘Boss.’ The kobold interrupted. ‘You should not give up on things so easily. There is a way to turn your human friend back from stone.’
‘Vargthick is listening.’ The ogre rumbled in response.
‘There be elves deep underground. Sometimes we trade with them. They are cruel but command powerful magics. They must be able to turn your friend back, and Trustee Sniv too. We can take you to the meeting place.’
Vargthick agreed and joined a small kobold beetle caravan as it made it’s way to the fourth level of Stonehell. There in a mighty domed cavern the kobolds set out the statues of Sniv and Wilhelm and awaited the arrival of the Deep Elves. It was some time before a band of archaically armoured Deep Elves levitated up from a pit in the centre of the cavern. A kobold bargained with them in their cruel tongue relaying their requests to Vargthick. It would cost the ogre all of his new companions wealth to turn him from stone to flesh. The ogre agreed and Wilhelm was restored. The stone form of Trustee Sniv was taken by the Deep Elves which was odd as the kobolds had originally hoped he would be restored to them. Despondent the kobold caravan returned to their devastated community while Vargthick and Wilhelm contemplated their next move.

Firetraps, scorpions and a Cave bear

The band decided to press their luck. Two warriors against the unknown deep within Stonehell. They headed south navigating some crystal and mist filled caverns before hearing an ursine growl. Swiftly levitating Wilhelm explored ahead discovering a portcullis and an immense cave bear. The cave bear proved to not be immediately hostile and decided to investigate and follow the floating Wilhelm. The warrior led the bear away from its lair so that he and his companion could explore beyond a portcullis. In so doing they had blocked off their retreat as the portcullis slammed down behind them and was now guarded by a weary bear. Beyond the portcullis was a two faced demon statue scorched by flames. Fearing a trap Wilhelm began using stalactites to seal the demons mouths while Vargthick began smashing the floor with his maul hoping to set of flame traps. In the end the band determined that the traps seemed to go off randomly. They were fortunate to navigate the chamber without burning themselves. In the room beyond there was a mighty clattering of chitinous forms. Three giant scorpions scuttled towards them. The hero’s retreated to the demon flame room and were pleasantly rewarded as the scorpions set off a number of the traps and all bar one were roasted alive. The final scorpion retreated back to its chamber attempting to bury itself in the sand. Wilhelm chose this moment to get in some target practise with his heavy crossbow. It seemed he needed more practise as none of the five bolts he loosed found the mark. As the scorpion clearly had no further interest in fighting the duo left it and continued exploring.

Interrupting the berserkers meal

Turning west the party found a cavern containing a human skull on a stake which served as a warning. Carved into the skull were the words – NO GO. BAD JUJU. Beyond the warning lay a line of round one foot diameter stones acting as a low barrier to a corridor beyond. Heeding the advice and recalling words had with some odd dwarves much earlier concerning temples of pain the group left well enough alone and returned to the twisting tunnels. Soon they smelt roasting flesh. Prepared for a fight they advanced and surprised five beserkers sitting by a fire cooking a goblin. Being outnumbered and knowing that the beserkers were tough the group retreated. Wilhelm levitated along the ceiling and was the target of a number of hurled spears. Vargthick raced to the apparent sanctuary of the bad juju area. The beserkers hacked at his fleeing form but their blows could not stop his flight. Soon the ogre was beyond the line of stones and the beserkers gave up chance refusing to enter the cursed area. Levitating Wilhelm was all but forgotten and the warrior was able to observe the beserkers setting up an ambush for the ogre should Vargthick seek to leave the cursed area. After some time spent fruitlessly waiting the beserkers gave up and returned to their meal. Wilhelm took some satisfaction in their howls of frustration as the encounter had lasted long enough for their goblin steaks to burn. Vargthick and Wilhelm did a preliminary scout of the area beyond the stones. There was a bridge over a deep cavern, an out of the way abandoned cave to which Wilhelm levitated and a pair of mighty double doors. Fresco’s about the double doors showed various races being tortured. This killed the enthusiasm of the band to explore the temple any further. Wary, scared and feeling outgunned the two heroes decided to beat a hasty retreat from Stonehell for the time being. Returning to the scorpion chamber the group headed up the stairs.

A reckoning with the medusa

The stairs led to familiar territory for Wilhelm. He was near the medusa’s lair. Hearing this Vargthick’s face lit up with delight. The group headed off for some payback, hoping that Larchess had returned to her looted home. They were in luck for soon they could hear the medusa bemoaning the despoiling of her lair ‘Look at this mess. It will take ages to set right. Look at my bed. What a mess. And no those dresses you brought for me wont do. They will never replace the ones these thieves stole. Return to town and bring me others.’
The group set an ambush and waited till a human carrying a short blade and a sack (presumably full of dresses) emerged from a nearby corridor. The group set on him, he gave a cry of alarm, turned to flee and was cut down. Wilhelm took some grim satisfaction in seeing that the dead man was the town’s tailor a figure he had a personal grudge against, though how the wretch became entangled in the medusas schemes he would never know. Larchess came to see what all the fuss was about and was promptly downed by a maul to the face. With their foe slain the group hacked off her head, put it in the sack with the dresses and headed for town. Upon Larchesses corpse Wilhelm found an interesting ring – a ring of human control. A world of possibilities opened up.

Burn the witch

Ogres and indeed humanoids in general were not welcome in Drellin’s Ferry and so Vargthick set up the grand pavilion on the outskirts and waited for Wilhelm to complete a brief expedition in town. Wilhelm ignored the town guards sullen greeting and made a mental note to himself to ignore their warning to keep out of trouble. Wilhelm was not one to do as he was bid especially not by yokels with spears. In the centre of town was a commotion. Sarcha the witch was tied to a stake and about to be burnt for consorting with demons. A flaming brand wielding Inquisitor harangued the crowd inciting them with tales of the witches diablerie. Beside the witch were staked the two heads of her ogre ‘sons’. ‘Witches spawn’ the Inquisitor insisted. Behind the inquisitor stood a stoic Knight of Science, his armour emblazoned with ritualistic formulae. Wilhelm worked his way to the front of the crowd. ‘Inquisitor, a word with you for a moment.’ Wilhelm made sure his new ring was visible; its magics seized the inquisitors mind. ‘I too have been hunting this witch. She is a wily one and has a coven in the forests. We should delay her burning till we have time to properly question her.’
‘Very well friend. Meet us tomorrow at the Burgemeister’s where we shall put her to the question.’ The Inquisitor seemed satisfied and addressed the crowd ‘No burning today.’
Wilhelm then went about charming the chief recruiter and tavern owner as well as the blacksmith in his quest to kit himself out. He arranged for a suit of ogre sized armour to be made as well as the permanent loan of the tavern owners horse. The chief recruiter wouldn’t venture into Stonehell despite being a great ‘friend’ of Wilhelm. He did manage to introduce the warrior to a number of new recruits.

Burgomeister my old friend

Wilhelm presented himself to the Burgomeister Markus and soon had him enthralled with the magic of his ring. They had a pleasant discussion where Markus voiced his displeasure at having to deal with the Knight of Science. Markus also provided Wilhelm with the promised reward for the slaying of Greylock the gnoll. Wilhelm’s proof of the deed was Greylock’s magic battle axe. ‘You know he had a lion don’t you?’ Wilhelm said as he pocketed the map which was his reward. ‘You could have told us he had a lion.’
Wilhelm was put up for the night, visited Sarcha and planned her escape. The morning saw Wilhelm develop an involuntary muscle spasm and a surfeit of long hair. He was stricken with the beginnings of lycanthropy as a direct result of his earlier encounter with the over-sized ratmen. Wilhelm spent a good while in the bathroom shaving of the copious amounts of body hair before meeting the Inquisitor for the questioning of Sarcha. Sarcha played her part well capitulating swiftly and promising to lead them to her coven in the forest. Setting forth Wilhelm offered to hold the bound Sarcha and after some time meandering the woods he swept her up into the saddle and rode off leading the Knight of Science and Inquisitor a merry chase. He returned to camp insisting that Vargthick pack the tent immediately. ‘We must leave, I’ve got the witch I was telling you about… oh and I also have lycanthropy. Do you know of anyway to cure it?’
Sarcha suggested the curse could only be lifted by a powerful cleric of good. The only priest she knew resided in Lesserton a weeks travel to the north. With few other options the band began the lengthy but uneventful trek.

Lesserton

On the trip to Lesserton Wilhelm completed his transformation to wererat but was thankfully securely bound and watched over during this traumatic event.
Lesserton itself is a squalid community on the borders of a ruined city. Fortunately for Vargthick ogres were allowed within the walls. Paying a steep entrance fee the band wasted no time in finding the Temple of Divine Purpose – a church which worships the need for laws. Here they were met by lay brother Erasmus who upon learning of Wilhelms’ plight arranged for a healing service the following day. Before a congregation some five hundred strong a miracle was performed and the curse of lycanthropy lifted. As part of the ritual Wilhelm was placed under a compunction to perform a task for the church. A task to retrieve a sacred relic long thought lost in the mountains. Erasmus would accompany them.

Hammers of the God

The group remained in Lesserton only long enough for Vargthick to intimidate two down and out half orcs into joining his ‘tribe’ and accompany them on their quest. The trip was an arduous trek into the mountains where at long last they came across a mighty set of double doors embossed with the sign of the hammer.

  • The mountains – Sarcha can read ancient dwarven
  • The whirlpool
  • The keystone
  • The hammer
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Session 11 - Stonehell
"It's hard to take you seriously with that baby strapped to your back." - Town guard to Wilhelm

The band began in the sparse caves of the recently deceased Gnollish ranger Greylock, pondering what to make of the creatures last words concerning Markus the Burgomeister’s duplicity. Yuriel, Derek’s elven hireling, penned a note in elvish to Gerhadt Schiller. In the letter she informed the regions ruler of his potentially traitorous Burgomeister’s plot and to be wary of assassins. In dictating the note Derek lamented the fact that he had never worked on a cipher so he could relate messages to his father in secret. Once the note was complete the letter was sent via the first available courier back to the regions ruined capital and Gerhadt’s seat of power. There was some discussion of delivering the message personally but in the end the group felt the journey would take too long. Frank and Wilhelm pondered reacquainting themselves with Sorcha the witch but in the end the group couldn’t figure out what would be gained beyond a sordid time.

After some deliberation the group journeyed back through the woods to Drellin’s Ferry. Recruits were again on the agenda. They hired two more warriors, Brandon of the mithril blade and Derena a crossbow wielding scribe turned adventurer. Little did they know the terrible fate that awaited them in the depths of Stonehell. Hagan the fixer who arranged muscle mentioned taking his operation west as a war was brewing. Frank didn’t take the news well as this would mean their supply of mercenaries would grow scarcer.

It was at this time that Wilhelm and Frank decided to settle an imagined grudge with the local tailor. Leaving Derek at the bar the pair arrived at the tailors full of menace. Their new hirelings however hadn’t signed up for stand over tactics. They looked bewildered as Wilhelm sharpened his blade ominously before the tailor. They shifted uncomfortably as the noble demanded the tailor don the dress he had commissioned. Figuring this was probably something their new retainers didn’t need to see Wilhelm sent them back to the tavern with a purse full of coin to spend. With the hired hands gone Frank began to set fire to the place. The tailor fled in a screaming panic. Shrugging the two companions left casually as fire flared up behind them. Returning to the Bearded Goat the pair picked up their companions and set off for the village gate as people rushed out into the streets to see what all the fuss was about. Bucket brigades were hastily formed and the burning tailors attended to.

On the way out the gate guard stopped them. Their names had come up and they were to be detained. Frank looked incredulous and tried to bluster his way through. Frank insisted that he had been captain of the watch. And that they should let him pass The guard corrected him pointing out he had been a bailiff and while respected his prior post made him little more that a efficient tax collector. Not being suicidal the guards did little to prevent the plate mail wearing Frank barging through the gate.

Wilhelm was clearly frustrated and demanded they allow him through as he was a noble. The guards looked on incredulously at his claims to nobility making the point that they found it difficult to take him seriously on account of the orcish baby he had strapped to his back. Then of course there was the incident of him flying nude through the township and his predilection for wearing dresses. All of which made his claims to nobility dubious at best though one could argue they highlighted a nobles eccentricities. Wilhelm demanded a duel with the guard. Surely the brute had besmirched his honour. The guard refused knowing he was no match for Wilhelm in a stand up fight. Eventually Brandon, the captain of the guard, arrived and after some discussion with Derek Schiller things were sorted out. Ironically Derek had to part with some of the platinum he had secretly filched from the lair of Greylock. The money he had stolen from his companions he now had to hand out to make up for their arson and misadventure. With that bit of chaos out of the way the group set off on the road to Stonehell.

A ghoul

On the way a plan was formulated to finish off the gentlemen ghouls and plunder their copious amounts of treasure. It involved a silence spell from Furak the ogress shaman and a lot of charging and hacking. Making their way through the eerily empty tunnels of Stonehell the group arrived at the entrance to the gentlemen ghoul’s lair. The double doors to the lair had been reinforced since the parties last visit. With silence spell cast, the group breached the entrance and careened down the hall. Derek led the charge and plunged his short blade through the ear of an unsuspecting ghoul. Their foes had been idly chatting at the end of the long hall and noticed their doom too late. Heavily outnumbered the hardy ghouls put up stiff resistance. One landed a telling blow upon Derek sending the noble pitching forward in a state of paralysis. Unfortunately for the young rogue he would remain in this state till the battles conclusion. As the conflict wound its way to a conclusive win on the part of the hero’s, one of the ghouls vanished from sight as if by magic. Cursing their luck, though unable to hear it thanks to the globe of silence that surrounded them, the band set off down an adjoining corridor, the direction in which they thought they heard the ghoul’s hounds barking.

The band encountered a second group of gentlemen ghouls and battle was joined in their dinning room amidst the fine silver and crockery. Ghoul hound and gentlemen in faded finery battled ogre, mercenary and hero in a chaotic maelstrom of violence. Things looked grim when Furack the mighty ogress fell and grimmer still when the last of their hired help, Derene the crossbow lass and former scribe, was cut down. During the conflict Yuriel the mage, who had been attending the paralyzed Derek and contributing magic blasts from her wand, was tragically torn asunder by invisible foes. Claws racked across her frail elven form and she collapsed spraying arterial blood upon her still paralyzed employer. Yet even in this dark moment Frank and Wilhelm held the course methodically chopping and bludgeoning with axe and hammer till the last of the visible ghouls had been dispatched. The warriors then looked desperately about for their invisible foes. Wilhelm’s sharp senses spied hurried bloody footprints making their way back to the entry hall where this madness had began. The two of them, the last men standing, set off in pursuit.

In the high vaulted entry hall it seemed that the last of the ghouls were to make a final stand. They warily engaged the plate mail wearing, blood drenched hero’s. Franks luck finally ran out. The lead ghouls claws found a weak link in his armour, its claws sank into his flesh and he felt a chill spasm seize his muscles. He was paralyzed. Gritting his teeth Wilhelm held the stately ghouls back with wild slashes from his newly acquired magic axe, a trophy from his encounter with Greylock. Outnumbered three to one and tiring with fatigue the noble dropped his guard for but a moment and was torn down by the ghouls. He felt a coldness creep over his body. He too had been paralyzed. He watched helplessly as the ghouls split up searching for survivors. As they moved out of his limited field of vision Wilhelm took a huge risk willing his levitation boots to carry him into the shadowed, cobwebbed ceiling some fifty feet above him. Whatever gods Wilhelm worshipped were watching over him as he levitated to the ceiling unseen by his foes. Sadly all he could do was stare at the stonework before him in his paralyzed state. He remained oblivious, perhaps mercifully so, to the fate of his two paralyzed companions below. The ghouls would feast well.

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Session 10 - Stonehell
'Why would you throw you life away attacking a grand pavilion?' - Wilhelm to Greylock

The fellowship reformed

Derek Schiller sat in the rowdy common room of the Rat on a Stick doing his best to ignore the jostling from drunk patrons. By and large the drunkards were kobolds but occasionally there were larger more bizarre humanoids. Beside Derek sat the elf Yuriel whom he’d liberated from the kobolds slave pens. The two had survived the horrors of the dungeon for some time. Derek turned his attention from his oddly flavoursome fungus brew to the entrance where two heavily armoured warriors had recently arrived. It was his old comrades Frank and Wilhelm. Derek called them over to his table and the group shared information. Much to Derek’s surprise his friends had dispatched the burning skeleton he had hoped to slay in order to further boost his reputation and therefore his claim to the Schiller throne. Frank proudly wore the still burning skull on his shield, it had been serving him as a light source for some time. Old friendships were renewed and war stories swapped. They agreed to form a larger party and explore more of the lower levels of Stonehell.
“Your an elf right?” asked Wilhelm hopefully fumbling in his pack for a spell book.
“It’s the pointy ears that gives it away.” Yuriel responded.
“Here. We took all these books, wands and scrolls from mages stupid enough to think they could kill us.” The warrior handed over a pile of books and scrolls.
“That’s quiet the haul.” The elf maiden said . “It’ll take me some time to go through them but I thank you for this valuable gift.”
“It’s not a problem. I’m just glad we’ve finally got someone who can use all this wizard junk.”

A fistful of copper

Frank then became involved in a lengthy argument with the owner of the Rat on a Stick over the price of staying in the inn. They would need a room for some time as Wilhelm had fallen under a charm cast by Larchess the medusa. Frank hoped that a lengthy rest would soon set his companions mind at ease. The warrior argued his case with the tavern owner that he and his companion had done much for the kobold community in dealing with the Khan and in return they should receive free lodging. In the end he took his complaints to Trustee Sniv where his stance was vindicated and much copper was spared. Derek stood by despairingly as the warrior argued his case. The noble, to whom money had never been a problem, simply didn’t understand the fuss over a fistful of copper. With lodgings secured the band hunkered down in their private room admitting no one lest they be part of a medusa’s trap and only occasionally bringing out a full chamber pot of hideous odor. The food of the Rat on the Stick was playing havoc with Wilhelm’s digestive system. Eventually the charm passed and the group got down to business. Trustee Sniv provided them with a handful more slaves whom the group outfitted with the mail and weapons of prior hirelings who had died in battle. No one expected the new recruits to live long.

Lost dwarf adventurers

The band made their way to the elevator and descended to the fourth level. They moved swiftly through the abandoned ogre caves. Frank contemplated going after the harpoon spider that had almost slain Wilhelm but thought better of it. The mindless beast would have little use for treasure and that is what they were after. Exploring to the south the band found a number of detritus littered cells. The first they searched contained wandering beserkers who landed some solid blows before being dispatched. Further searching revealed another elevator leading deeper into Stonehell. The group left well enough alone. Oddly enough while exploring this level the hero’s stumbled across two separate bands of dwarves who claimed to be searching for gold, as all dwarves do. Kiel, their leader, explained how the two groups had lost track of each other while searching. Each group had been part of the same expedition. Unfortunately they had lost their map and knew very little about the dungeon. They were aware of a Temple of Pain that lay to the west and of a group known as the gentlemen ghouls who laird close at hand. The ghouls were said to be incredibly rich. Perhaps if the two groups joined together they could plunder their wealth? Frank had earlier discovered some veins of gold in the ogre lair and promised to lead the dwarves to that wealth if they joined the group for a while. The dwarves, Kiel, Durgin, Feely and Keely readily agreed.

An invitation to dinner and a botched recital

The party pondered their options. The Temple of Pain didn’t seem like an attractive option and with their numbers bolstered by dwarves and the prospect of excellent loot the gentlemen ghouls seemed a more lucrative prospect. Derek grew bored by the debate over the most sensible course of action and headed towards the ghouls halls, marked by a grand sign held by a skeleton announcing a welcome to all prospective dinner guests. Seeing the rogue head off the rest of the band soon followed. They set an ambush about the door. Derek knocked. After a moments the double doors opened partially and Derek was confronted by a gaunt yet refined looking individual resplendent in faded finery.
“Good evening to you Sir.” The ghoul spoke in a refined tone. “Are you inquiring as to dinner? If so you must know that we only accept the most cultured of guests. No boors you understand.”
“Why I am a gentleman of the courts of Tilea. I know much of poetry and fine literature.” Derek responded. Indeed he had spent time in the universities of Tilea at his father’s expense. Sadly he had spent most of his time drinking and missing classes.
“Then regale me with a poem, or a sonnet if you will so that I may best judge your credentials.”
Derek strained his memory for any poem yet only the crudest leapt to mind. He cursed his lack of schooling silently under his breath before using what he hoped would be a passable ditty about a man and his bucket. Needless to say it did not impress and was met with a sharp slap. The gentleman ghouls slap froze Derek’s muscles. The rogue was stricken with paralysis.

Trapped by lightning

While there had been no agreed signal to launch their ambush Derek being paralyzed seemed as good as any. The party raced out from their hiding spots hacking down the gentleman ghoul in the doorway. Pushing open the great double doors the group saw a cluster of ghouls and hounds at the end of a long hall. The lead ghoul began gesturing arcanely and the hero’s ducked for cover. A hireling was ordered to take a quick bowshot at the ghouls. This he did and paid the price as the ghouls sent forth a great blast of lightning which tore his head off. Blood splattered the group and Frank began to ponder how they were going to get out of this. The hero’s were wedged in small alcoves off the main ghoul hall. While this gave them cover any retreat would expose them to whatever magics the ghouls had at their disposal. That last lightning bolt did not instill Frank with a sense of hope.
“It seems there has been some misunderstanding.” The ghouls called out. “Turn and leave and all shall be well. You have our word as gentlemen.” So began a protracted discussion that led nowhere.
Derek, whom had recovered from his paralysis during the discussion, decided to take them up on the offer and retreated with Yuriel. Frank and Wilhelm and the remaining retainers would have none of it though. They hadn’t become rich and successful adventurers by running away. Frank began to fill the hall with water from his decanter of endless water hoping that the next lightning bolt would backfire and fry their foes. As Frank poured forth water Wilhelm doused the entrance doors with oil should they need a barrier of flame to hold back their ghoulish foe.

Hellhounds

Fire and blood

As he retreated Derek noted a number of figures in adjoining tunnels accompanied by large rust red hounds with flames licking at their lips. The ghouls were moving to encircle his companions. This he could not allow and while not directly endangering himself he did manage to cry out a warning to his companions. Wilhelm lit the double doors aflame creating a barrier preventing additional gentlemen ghouls getting involved in the ensuing battle. The rest of the band moved to battle the flanking war party. The rust red hounds breathed great gouts of flame badly burning their dwarven ally Kiel and Frank. The battle was bloody and chaotic, first the dangerous hell hounds were neutralized then the ghouls worn down till the final one disappeared as if by magics. The flames about the double doors were beginning to burn low and the party decided discretion was the better part of valor and fled for the elevator leaving scores of dead hirelings on the field. Once they felt safe Frank showed their dwarven allies, all of whom had survived despite taking some serious hits, the vein of gold he had earlier found in the ogre’s lair. The dwarves parted company with the group there.

A job in town

The group headed back to Drellin’s Ferry to resupply. Their first stop was Tina the witches on the outskirts of town. Tina had supplied them with a number of extraordinarily handy potions and even brewed them some potent poison which had enabled them to obliterate the ogre’s camp in Stonehell. Unfortunately Tina had moved on. Frank had earlier speculated that with her new found wealth, thanks to the prices she had charged, Tina would retire and live a life of luxury. Perhaps she had. Grumbling and sorely disappointed the party moved on to the town proper. At the Bearded Goat tavern the group picked up a number of additional warriors. Wilhelm and his entourage went on to pick up a new grand pavilion. He had earlier commissioned one as his last had been destroyed when the gargoyles ate through their mule train back in Stonehell. While this happened Derek propped his feet up on the table and prepared to sample a fine red. There were perks to being the son of Gerhadt Schiller, lord of the domain, and fine wines from the barkeep was one of them.
“Excuse me Master Shiller.” A young messenger interrupted Derek just as he poured himself and Yuriel a glass. “The Burgomeister Markus would like a word with you. He needs assistance dealing with a monster that terrorizes the woods.”
“Tell Markus that I shall be along shortly. And here is a coin for your troubles.”

The trouble with Gnolls

The Burgomeister met the group in his office at his estate just outside the town itself. There he outlined the threat posed by a renegade gnoll who hunted humans for sport.
“Bring me the gnoll Greylock’s head and I shall reward you with a map to a dwarven treasure horde.”
“We need no reward.” Derek responded before receiving a nudge from Frank “But we shall accept your generosity none the less.”
The group set out for the adjoining forest. They had been given a vague area by the Burgomeister in which the Gnoll was said to hunt. A number of days of fruitless searching passed before one night there was a commotion. Wilhelm and Furgack were on watch when the ogre shamaness let out a howl of pain. An arrow from the darkness had lodged in her jaw. Wilhelm roused the camp who split up and began searching the woods. The gnoll foolishly attempted to fight the large band from the shadows but was spotted and beaten into submission. During the interrogation process Wilhelm admonished their captive. “Why would you throw you life away attacking a grand pavilion? Do you not know what it’s presence implies. Can you not see the implicit threat? You could fit dozens of men in there. Why would you attack dozens of men?” Greylock the gnoll capitulated and lead them to his lair. When asked if it was trapped he insisted it was not. They might have asked him if he had some pets or not but if so the gnoll was vague in his response.

Platinum, plot and a lion

A search of the gnoll’s cave revealed a secret alcove. Derek was quick to pilfer as much as he could from there, in particularly a stash of platinum coins. Wilhelm was content enough with the gnoll’s fine magic battle axe. While looting the band were met with a growl at the caves entrance. A great lion had raced to block their escape. It’s collar implied it was some sort of pet. Battle was joined and swiftly finished. The outnumbered lion was no match for the blades of the band. The hero’s were not happy at the gnoll not telling them about the lion and began torturing him. Greylock was resigned to his inevitable death. In a final act of defiance the gnoll sowed the seeds of doubt in the groups mind as he revealed a tale of treachery. It seems the gnoll had by chance met the Burgomeister Markus wandering alone in the woods. Rather than kill him, as Greylock was want to do, he spoke to the man. Markus offered the gnoll a great sum of coin to hunt and kill Gerhadt Schiller, Derek’s father and nominal ruler of Drellin’s Ferry as well as a number of other scattered settlements in the area. He had paid in platinum, the groups discovery of platinum lent some weight to the veracity of the tale. Wilhelm rewarded the gnoll’s tale with a quick death signaling Furack to smash the hyena-mans face in with her club. The end was swift and brutal. The group then pondered what to do with the information they had received. Markus seemed like a nice guy and he had certainly helped them out. Did they really want to get involved?

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Session 8 - Stonehell
“We need dungeon oxen. We'll put them in barding and ride through Stonehell.” – Frank

The band rested, giving themselves barely enough time to heal their many wounds. A scrawny kobold messenger interrupted their brief respite.
“Trustee Sniv demands an audience . You are to attend immediately.”
Once again they were ushered into Sniv’s not so impressive throne room. The kobold leader presented them with their newest slaves/henchmen. The acquisitions were a Nubian priest from far away lands and two warriors named Goodman and Gary. They had been taken captive after their original band had been butchered by ogres while exploring the entrance to Stonehell. The Nubian had only rudimentary common however Frank was pleased to discover that the helmet, he had recently looted from the Khan, gifted him with the ability to speak Nubian fluently and indeed comprehend any language he so chose.

The Nubian had an interesting tale involving the siphoning of uncaring gods powers and a unique insight into the falsehood of the conventional pantheon. Sadly all this would be wasted as followers have a tragic tendency to die horridly and quickly when working with Frank and Wilhelm.

With new followers in tow the band risked a brief foray back into the hobgoblin redoubt in order to retrieve some maps the Khan had on display in his war room. Recovering the maps proved an easy task and some rudimentary exploration revealed that the kobolds, or perhaps other dungeon denizens, had begun the task of looting all the hobgoblins gear.

Deciding additional manpower was required before venturing deeper beneath Stonehell the group retreated to the surface. As they neared the familiar lift the group passed through the fungal garden. Wilhelm had unpleasant memories of the place as it marked the site where his initial followers had been crushed like papier-mâché beneath the hind claws of giant cave locusts. Frank had pleasant memories of the place as it was here that he had first acquired his mushroom sombrero.

A motley rabble of desperate bandits along with their pet Myhkrian war lizards (think reptilian Rottweilers) had concealed themselves amongst the giant mushrooms. They accosted the group asking for a toll to use the lift. The bandit leader greedily eyed the large chests the heroes were lugging around.
“Hold on a moment. Let me just get your toll.” Wilhelm insisted when it became obvious communications had broken down. He reached behind himself and unslung his heavy crossbow firing a bolt into the bandit leaders shoulder. Combat ensued and the Nubian and Goodman were felled during the chaotic melee. Cursing their constant employee turnover the survivors limped their way to the surface and headed to Drellin’s Ferry.

In town the group purchased three mules to haul their hard earned loot from future expeditions. They had considered the idea of purchasing oxen, armouring them and potentially riding them through the dungeon corridors. The gods however did not favour their plan as oxen became mysteriously unavailable for purchase.

Armour was purchased for a child with the intent of handing it over to their sole remaining goblin henchman Forgath. Frank arranged for his plate mail armour to be modified so that it could mount the decanter of endless water they had retrieved from the Khan. Finally Wilhelm acquired a toy sword so he could train the orc toddler dubbed Cecil whom the deluded noble hoped would one day become his squire.

Forgath had been assigned guard duty over Wilhelm’s grand pavilion that the band had set just on the outskirts of town. Forgath was at one point to light a bonfire to scare away animals. This order he had enthusiastically accepted eying the undergrowth for things to burn. The goblin only half listened to the other instructions like keeping out of sight, remaining in the tent and wearing a big cloak at all times. Upon consideration it was decided that it might be best if no blaze was lit as it would attract unwanted attention. This made Forgath sad.
02 34
Back in town Wilhelm and Frank visited the inn the Bearded Goat hoping to encourage others to take up the rich and rewarding life of an adventurer. Sadly it seemed that tales of their previous henchmen’s spectacular short lifespan proceeded them. They were directed to a man named Hagan who dealt with the contracts for prospective dungeoneers. Hagan was a grizzled mercenary leader with extensive military contacts. His men where of the highest caliber or so he assured the hero’s. Brief interviews with the two warriors available for hire convinced the group of their worth. Wilhelm was particularly involved in the interview asking “How many fingers am I holding up?” The rather simple recruit struggled with the math to which Wilhelm replied “Excellent your hired.”
Frank looked puzzled. “But this one cannot count past two?”
“All the more treasure for us.” Wilhelm whispered back.

The final stop on the itinerary was the witches hut. As it transpired Tina the witch was an alleged witch and insisted on being called a herbalist. A number of ‘natural’ remedies were purchased and Frank parted ways with the pixie kings corpse which he had been holding onto for close to a week now. Even a week old it still showed no signs of decay. Remedies of note included one that could make the imbiber fly and another that rendered them invisible. Truly these were remarkable natural balms and not in any way magic. The transactions were conducted in Tina’s garden with the heroes’ never allowed to see inside the herbalist’s cottage, which incidentally lay 1 mile from Drellin’s Ferry.

Tiring of town adventuring, which involved lots of talking and shopping and no killing and looting, the band set forth once again for Stonehell. On the way down into the depths they picked up five goblin recruits from the tribe that was friendly to them. They had after all saved these goblins from certain destruction at the hands of the orcs and where therefore owed a significant favour.

Further exploration revealed a door barred and nailed shut from the corridor side. Clearly something was being contained. The party tried to parley through the door but received no response beyond a dull thumping at the door. A glimpse under the door made out the vaguest hint of booted feet. Unsure how to proceed the group left the door alone for the time being.

Their scout Forgath came running back. He had disturbed a nest of winged raven like beasts with lengthy razor sharp beaks. With barely a moment to spare a flock of stirges set upon the group in the corridor. Combat was swift and the stirges routed after bloodying only a single retainer. His wounds were swiftly bandaged and the group proceeded.

Returning to the barred door the group set about removing the barriers. Beyond they found a scene of horror as a swarm of undead attempted to mob them. Perhaps the zombies and decayed skeletons would have succeeded in their mindless plan were it not for Frank and his decanter of endless water. Frank hit them with a blast that sent them reeling. Under the relentless water pressure the zombies were picked off with missile fire. Only one managed to force its way amongst the group taking a goblin follower with it before being mercilessly put down.

With the undead dispatched Wilhelm and Frank ordered their retainers to remain in the corridor while they searched the room. Frank approached a soggy burlap sack while Wilhelm ran interference shielding the scene with co-incidentally enough his shield. This rather odd behaviour can be explained. The contract the group had signed with their retainers stipulated that they be paid a half share of any loot. Wilhelm and Frank were determined to pay only the most miserly of wages and so conspired to keep any wealth discovered a secret from their hirelings. “Oh darn. This sack is empty!” Frank bellowed surreptitiously transferring handfuls of coins and gems into his pack while Wilhelm ensured the looting remained concealed.

Continuing on the group discovered a chamber housing a single barrel. Forgath was promptly sent in alone with orders to check the barrel for traps. Forgath was a tough goblin. He had survived a great deal and had been with the group for some time now. He was too valuable to be considered a throw away henchman, he was almost one of the band. All that was about to end as two crab spiders dropped from the ceiling. One of them sank its fangs into his arm and Forgath promptly collapsed poisoned and dying. Righteous vengeance was smote upon the arachnids but alas Forgath was fading and there was little the Frank could do. Wilhelm offered to amputate the goblins arm but it was too late for that. The spider’s venom had done its job and the plucky goblin henchmen’s life was at an end.

Frank was shocked at Forgath’s sudden and cruel death but the hero’s nevertheless pressed on. They skirted a bunch of giant toads leaving them to their beetle feast. They went on to discover a scythe trap and used a grappling hook to retrieve a coin laden table. The coins were annoyingly stuck to the table and too difficult to retrieve. They were therefore deemed hireling treasure and gladly given over to the new recruits to pry off. Incidentally Wilhelm had also offered the hirelings a discovered anvil as their share of the loot though the thing had been too heavy and impractical to pack on a mule.
Lizardman
The band soon discovered a hunting party of lizard men armed with crude spears. They had claimed a portion of the dungeon as their sacred ground and warned the party away. After some discussion the hero’s offered to help them kill the giant toads which the lizard men sought to supplement their diet. The battle with the toads was short with the notable events being the chewing of a goblin retainers head along with an amazingly ineffectual volley of hurled lizard men spears. Content with the giant toad corpses the lizard men led the band to a lift which allowed access to deeper levels of Stonehell. Accepting the challenge the group used the lift to travel not one but two levels deeper. They now adventured on the hazardous fourth level of Stonehell knowing that with greater risks comes greater reward.

An initial foray from the lift found the group in a rough natural cavern not at all like the flagstone lined corridors they had early explored. They soon discovered a cave containing an oddly tinted blue pool. Here they encountered a band of howling beserkers. Battle was joined and it looked to be an evenly matched affair though their hirelings were struggling to hold their own. The last of the goblins fell causing Frank to lose his nerve and pull the trigger on one of his most potent potions he had looted earlier and hoped to save for an emergency. Sculling the brew he assumed control over several of the beserkers frenzied minds. Frank set them to hacking into their comrades. With the tide turned they made short work of the beserkers with minds unclouded by magic. Knowing that his control over their minds was for a limited time Frank set about learning as much as he could from his new ‘friends’. It turned out the beserkers lair was to the west, that there was a giant deadly fish in the cave they were currently in and that ogres lair to the west. Figuring they would have to kill the beserkers sooner or later Frank and Wilhelm laid into their charmed buddies. The beserkers didn’t go down without a fight and took out the last liberated slave Gary with a well timed axe blow.

Heading in the direction of the ogres the group encountered a hastily scribbled warning indicating that the Marrow Suckers were near. Figuring that some scouting was in order Wilhelm discarded all encumbering items, shockingly this included all his clothes bar his boots of levitation, and drank the potion of invisibility they had earlier purchased from the witch. Wilhelm then set off into the dungeon sky clad while Frank and the remaining henchmen holed up in the elevator arm on the lever ready to head back up should something dangerous come along. Frank would soon pull the lever sending the elevator up and out of reach of some clacking clawed noises he heard approach. Better safe than sorry.

Wilhelm’s scouting discovered a cave locust farm, an ape wrestling room full of drunken ogres, an ogre camp presided over by a larger than normal ogre wearing mangled dwarven armour and an ogre shrine replete with obese ogre priestess. Wilhelm’s caution was exemplary till he came across a glowing iron spike lying innocuously in the middle of a small cave. Taken with the shiny object Wilhelm reached down to pocket it when a large arachnid form dropped beside him flailing its legs about in order to strike an unseen foe. Wilhelm picked up the glowing spike and began to run. The arachnid beast, a harpoon spider, gave chase and spat a horrid fang attached to a fleshy tendril at the unarmoured Wilhelm. Unfortunately he had nuded up in the name of stealth prior to setting forth on his scouting expedition. Naked and impaled Wilhelm slashed desperately at the attached tendril as the beast began hauling in its catch. Sadly Wilhelm had been cursed with a meager strength at birth and a life as a warrior had done little to improve his physique. His blow failed to cut himself lose and the beast wrenched him closer and took a hefty bite out of the stricken warrior. Howling in pain and close to death Wilhelm struck out again severing the cord that held him captive. He then drifted towards the roof of the room in which he had been caught as his levitating boots did there best to save him. The harpoon spider scurried up the wall reaching tentatively for its prey. Wilhelm panicked and desperately drank his potion of flight. Fleeing the scene he stopped momentarily to shout a hurried “I shall meet you back in town!”
Frank stared in astonishment as a battered naked Wilhelm flew past leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

Summary dot points (to be deleted)

Small bit of scouting hobgoblin area before retreat to kobold markets and ultimately a trip back to Drellin’s Ferry.
Discover invasion plans for hobgoblins.
Slaves recruited – Goodman, Granger (?) and Hades.
Fungus room and a bandit + lizard ambush.
Take goblin with them to carry stuff and disguise, bonfire instructions?
Blacksmith brace manufacture as well as a sword for juniors.
Mules purchase and the consideration of dungeon oxen.
Followers recruited – from here and there. How many fingers am I holding up?
Hagan the union boss.
Wilhelm’s inability to communicate with the people in the tavern.
Tina the ‘herbalist’ trading the pixie king for a potion.
Back into stonehell via the hobgoblin entrance.
Recruit goblin allies – all of whom would die
Stirges
Trapped undead blasted with the water cannon
Crab spiders – kill Gorgut with poison
Toads left alone
scythe trap + table with glued on coins
lizardmen trade food for information
toads killed
elevator down, skip level 3 and straight on to 4
depraved beserkers and the potion of human control
nude scouting run – while invisible of course
Ogres – drinking, fighting and rutting
Harpoon spider and the glowing spike
A flying and fleeing Wilhelm.

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Session 7 - Stonehell
“I don’t need no stinking poultice.” - Frank

Frank opened his eyes blearily, he’d been out for a while. Shaking his head groggily he took in his surroundings. He was in the “Drowned Rat” the kobold attempt at an inn. He lay in a miserable room on a floor covered in rancid vermin infested straw. Wilhelm was close at hand leaning back against the wall eying a trio of gnolls whom the heroes seemed to be sharing the ‘inn’ room with. The gnolls snarled and yapped at each other in their hyena tongue, the whining tone gave Frank a headache. “Don’t move you’ll wreck the poultice.” Wilhelm warned. Frank looked down at the paste smeared bandage covering his chest and shivered in disgust. “I don’t need no stinking poultice.” Frank snarled as he tore it free and hurled it into a corner. In the distance they could make out the sound of kobold yelping. Some calamity seemed to be unfolding.

Heading into the tavern proper from their accommodation the group found the place thrown into chaos. A small kobold stood a top a table that wobbled precariously beneath even his light weight. “We are attacked!” He yelped. “The Khan is killing everybody!”
Frank was in his element. “Kobolds, harken to me for I am a great leader of men. Wilhelm and I have faced the Hobgoblins before and won through each and every time. We will lead you in the defence of your markets.” The kobolds raised an almighty cheer that drowned out the sounds of chaos and slaughter from outside. They picked up stools and bottles and gathered about Frank waiting expectantly with their makeshift weapons. “And what of you gnolls? Will you stand idly by while the kobolds defend the only safe place to gather in this stonehell?”
The gnolls looked confused at this human jabbering at them in monkey talk. Their leader curled his lip in a snarl and barked something crude in return. Frank in turn looked confused. It seemed they faced a language barrier. Frank recalled all he knew of these strange hyena men. Lazy creatures on the whole gnolls keep slaves who do all their work. Like Hyenas they are vicious when cornered but leave all the hard work to others. Still Frank was not easily perturbed and thought to shame them into fighting. He grabbed a nearby kobold to translate “Cowards!”
The kobold gulped nervously. “You want me to call them cowards?”
“Yes. Also tell them that they need to help us and that they are cowards.”
Needless to say this did not go down so well and almost ended in blows. Still Frank goaded them via a translator, wasting precious time while the hobgoblins completed their destruction of the slave pens and outer guards posts. Swearing vengeance against the cowardly gnolls Frank went to deal with the hobgoblins.
464 realsize
While Frank traded insults with gnolls via an interpreter Wilhelm raced to the kobolds rescue. At the guard post he found 5 kobold guards pinned town, several of their companions lay skewered by crossbow bolts. With two exits under attack Wilhelm secured one with a flask of burning oil. Frank arrived at this junction and raced west where he was confronted by a portcullis and a number of crossbow wielding hobgoblins. Their bolts clattered harmlessly of his plate mail as he raced towards the portcullis with flaming oil in hand. He smashed it across the bars searing the hobgoblins flesh and causing them to retreat in howls of pain. Pausing only to lift the portcullis Frank gave pursuit a mob of frenzied kobolds close on his heals.

Wilhelm struck west but was met by a pool of burning oil lit by the hobgoblin raiders. This delayed him long enough for the sounds of slaughter to die off. The kobolds at his side whined about the beetles imploring Wilhelm to brave the burning oil to save them. “Yes. Look about your beetles. I’m sorry but they are probably already dead and I shall not brave these flames on the off chance we save a handful of them.” The flames died down and Wilhelm struck south. Indeed the slaves and beetles had been put to the sword along with their kobold handlers. Wilhelm had adopted an orcish child he carried bout him in a papoose like backpack. He covered the child’s eyes sparing it the sight of it’s slaughtered orcish sibling in the slave pens. Wilhelm and Frank soon met at the southern most guard post of the kobolds on the edge of the stairs down into hobgoblin territory. The corpses in the room told the sorry tale, 10 slain kobolds and 2 hobgoblins. Seeing that they now lead an irate band of motivated kobolds, and with hirelings normally so darn scarce, the heroes decided to press their luck and plunge down the stairs into the domain of the Khan.

The group took the most direct route, the route they kind of knew. Frank charged the front gates like a mighty armoured juggernaut of destruction. Crossbow bolts fell around him like so much rain. Laughing he set the arrow slits of the hobgoblin fortification aflame reveling in the screams of pain he heard as their flesh was seared. With the hobgoblins vision obscured by flame he set about demolishing their portcullis. With that out of the way he ran the gamut of more arrow slits and again his armour proved to mighty. A stout iron bound oak door at the end of the shooting gallery proved a negligible obstacle as Franks smashed it clean of its hinges. He was in the heart of the enemy stronghold now. Waves of kobolds followed in his wake. In a rare moment of martial pride Wilhelm took up his sword and shield and joined the fray. Like a tsunami they crashed against the hobgoblins pikes. Forced back till there was no room left to maneuver the hobgoblins made a stand backs to the wall.

Hobgoblin reinforcements arrived. The corridor near became a scene of carnage with the combatants knee deep in hobgoblin and kobold corpses. By the time the hacking was done only 5 resolute kobolds remained from the initial 15. Frank was struggling with the pain from a lucky hobgoblin crossbow shot but he was not through. “Show me the map.” He demanded of his goblin henchman. “It should tell us where the Khan is hiding.”

The search for Khan proved tougher than it looked. The band explored the initial area discovering the hobgoblin barracks, the quarters of the Khan’s lions and the second access point to the hobgoblin fortifications. This point had been augmented with an innocuous looking decanter mounted into some kind of platform. Unfortunately for the motley band of hobgoblin defenders their ‘weapon’ was pointing the wrong way and the hero’s set upon them ruthlessly. The hobgoblin sergeant chugged a potion down which seemed to imbue him with boundless energy. He then hacked down the heroes goblin henchman Forgath, laid waste to their remaining kobold allies and laid a mighty blow on Frank which left him reeling.

Exploring to the west the band encountered more guards who frantically beat a gong hoping for some sort of assistance. It was not forthcoming. Finding an corridor that came to an awkward and abrupt end the group searched for secret doors and low and behold found one. It lead to some dusty office long ago abandoned and covered in broadsheets for pit fights that had occurred decades before. In this room was a chest yet as the group approached it shadows loomed up from the darkness attacking them. “I have nothing that can hurt such spectral beings. I have no magic.” Lamented Wilhelm as he beat a hasty retreat. Their remaining gobbling henchman battled the shadows and nearly succumbed to its icy strength draining grasp. Frank quickly put the monstrosities down with some well placed blows from his mighty enchanted hammer.

Gorgut, still somewhat delirious from the strength sapping touch of the shadows, examined the chest and determined it was trapped with poison. He opened it from a particular angle and the trap discharged harmlessly. Within the chest was more coin than the band had ever seen. They were rich. Further exploration of this disused section uncovered a pit full of trash the party left alone. “This isn’t right. The Khan isn’t this way.” Frank cursed under his breath. “Give me the map!”

Returning to the hobgoblin outpost the party stumbled across a patrol. Their attempts at negotiation were met by cries of “For the Khan!” Battle was joined and the hobgoblins dispatched with ruthless efficiency. Continuing to explore rooms the band smoked out a band of hobgoblins. The first brute to leave coughing and spluttering was put to the sword. The group took two injured prisoners. Wilhelm mentioned something about showing them mercy before he ran one through. Frank looked shocked and moved to intercept Wilhelm as he made for the remaining prisoner. “Don’t kill him! We need him. He can take us to the Khan.” Frank looked at the defeated opponent.
“Anything you want.” The hobgoblin stammered. “I don’t want to die and I am no threat. I can no longer fight.” He raised a stump where once his sword arm was.
“Great, lead us to the Khan.” Frank pushed him out into the corridor.

With the Khans location secured Frank proceeded to plot an intricate plan. The decanter they had secured from the hobgoblin post must be some sort of flame thrower he surmised. It’s command words, inscribed on the side of the decanter would cause some kind of explosion. All he needed to do was get the decanter into the same room as the Khan, say the magic words and adios muchachos. He wrapped the decanter in a hessian sack much like winos wrap bottles in paper bags. He handed it to their captive. “Tell the Khan that you found this bottle while exploring. You cam across a hidden cellar or something. And here’s 200 gold for your trouble.”
“What the Khan notice his soldier is carrying 200 gold? That much money makes an awful lot of clinking.” Wilhelm interjected.
“Hmm. You have a point. OK no gold. But deliver the bottle. Now go!” Frank pushed the captive towards the door they believed the khan was holed up behind.

“It’s a trap!” the captive howled as he dove for cover in the Khan’s room. Frank muttered the second incantation and was underwhelmed at the lack of explosion. There was no fountain of fire only water. The Khan’s guards sallied forth and began landing mighty blows on the hero’s. Combat was brutal and their was no retreat for the Khan as his body guards were worn down the Khan showed himself, till this point he had stayed out of sight in his room. “We killed your cats and now were going to kill you.” Wilhelm taunted. The Khan became enraged at the reminder of his fallen mountain lions and plunged his katana blade through Wilhelm’s midriff. Wilhelm clasped his stomach marveling at the brightness of his blood. Could he be dying? He collapsed to the ground in a state of shocked panic. Frank stepped up and smashed the Khan’s spine with one swift stroke of his hammer. The deed was done. The Khan was dead. “I’m dying.” Wilhelm stammered.
Frank looked him over as he looted the Khan’s sword. “Nope but that is a nasty wound. Now get up and help me haul all this loot back.” He gestured to their sole remaining goblin henchman. “Gorgut take the Khans head. Trustee Sniv will want to see it. Careful now it’s worth 10 slaves.”

The heroes were ushered into a part of the kobold markets they had not seen before. It seemed to be all storage crates and scurrying kobold workers. Beyond the warren of storage was Trustee Sniv’s audience chamber. A rickety wooden throne behind some tattered faded curtains. Sniv offered them crates of merchandise of dubious value and apologized that the slaves he had promised were not yet available. Frank asked for assistance, perhaps some warriors. Wilhelm scoffed at the idea of kobold warriors. He had experienced their ‘usefulness’ first hand. Frank whispered something about cannon fodder and Wilhelm nodded in agreement. Regrettably Sniv could not lend them his warriors as it would jeopardize the kobolds carefully cultivated neutral stance in Stonehell. Instead he offered them the use of a kobold scout who new the lay of the land, theirs for 5 days. That and of course the slaves when they arrived. Frank wanted them to sweeten the deal with the capture of the gnolls he had earlier antagonized but again Sniv refused on the grounds that it would violate their neutrality.

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Session 6 - Stonehell
"I await your inevitable betrayal." - Wilhelm to orc child

Gwen Schiller wandered off to be alone for a while during which time she would ponder the mysteries contained within the pixie kings spell book. Frank, Wilhelm and their remaining retainers set off to do a little more exploration. In an adjoining room they discovered a possessed straight-jacket which ended up constricting their retainer ‘Tom’ to death. Pressing on the band found a room full of hacked bear bones. Entering the room set off a crude axe trap which tore into the side of Frank. Frank and Wilhelm both despaired at the futility of the trap but Frank consoled himself with some bear claws and teeth.

Running dangerously low on retainers the group contemplated a return to the surface where they would also be able to purchase some plate mail. The plan was abandoned in favour of assisting the goblins in their war with the orcs. It was hoped that by aiding the goblins the group would gain their assistance in the exploration and looting of Stonehell. With Garuk and Forgath, their goblin scouts, in the lead the group set off to meet with the remaining members of the Wolf gang. On the way the band learned of Garuk and Forgath’s history. As it transpired they had been part of a failed coup which saw the prior goblin king Bograg killed. As a result of their rebellion the pair were sold into slavery only to be later purchased by the group. Somewhat worried with how the Wolf gang might react to the presence of the traitors, the band pressed on regardless.

A goblins

Led through the twisting corridors the band arrived at a room wherein waited a group of kobolds with a litter laden with food, wine and bolts. The kobolds were to do business with the wolf gang who had asked for supplies and promised the kobolds 50 gold for their delivery. The goblins were late. The party entertained the prospect of purchasing the goods themselves but found the price too steep. Once the kobold traders had left the Wolf gang goblins arrived. A secret door in the wall slid to one side and a goblin head looked in. The goblin grunted in surprise then saw the goblin traitors Garuk and Forgath, by the group’s side. Grunting again the Wolf gang goblin tribesman attempted to close the secret door. Thinking quickly Wilhelm used his boot to prevent the door closing. The heroes began negotiations and won the goblins as allies in return for their assistance in their war with the neighboring orc tribe.

An ambush of the orcs was planned and some nearby tunnels reconnoitered. During the exploration a crystal statue animated and battled the group injuring a bugbear ally. As they explored further their one armed retainer renamed ‘Tom II’ figured he had had enough after being ordered to constantly risk his life opening doors and entering rooms first. He was sure his luck would run out and figured he would take his chances with the dungeon denizens. He was allowed to go once he had turned over everything he owned, clothes and all.

A orcs

The orc war was gloriously swift. A high vaulted chamber in which the band had earlier battled orcs was re-occupied by their porcine foes. Battle was joined and with the aid of the bugbears their foes dispatched. The band then set an ambush wherein a lone goblin would incite the closest orcs so that they would pursue into this chamber where they would be met with a volley of arrows and bolts from waiting goblins and smashed in the flank by bugbears. This plan worked surprisingly well with 18 orcs put to the sword, including their leader who took a bugbear with him thanks to a messy critical hit. Other than the bugbear only 2 goblins fell as they failed to get a second volley of arrows off before the tide or orcs hit them.

A search of the orc lair found many orc women and children whom the band decided to sell to the kobold slave market. Wilhelm decided to keep an orc child and wet-nurse so that he could raise the child himself hoping to one day experience the creatures inevitable betrayal. Either that or he wanted someone else to carry his grand pavilion. They also liberated a badly burnt gnome who was next on the orchish menu. He told them about his failed adventuring party and how they had battled and surrendered to the orcs. They had hoped to escape but instead had been eaten one by one. The gnome fled to the surface thanking the band for his freedom. Frank discovered the orc leaders war chest. Ducking down and using his shield as cover he used the orc bosses own key to open the chest. A spitting cobra living within the chest spat venom at Frank, which spattered his shield harmlessly. Wilhelm found the concept of a snake in a box ludicrous and laughed at Franks plight. His laughter drew the attention of the serpent that promptly spat venom in Wilhelm’s eyes. This further confounded Wilhelm for he considered himself at a safe distance. Frank smashed the snake with his war hammer while Wilhelm desperately bathed his eyes with any and all liquid to hand but to no avail. He was blinded, permanently it would seem.

Frank rushed his stricken comrade to the kobold markets hoping to find a priest. The kobolds, having no shamans of their own, recommended the priests of the evil order whom Frank had had a violent disagreement on his first trip to the markets. Frank was fortunate that the priests were about gathering supplies in their ongoing quest to find a rogue plague carrier called Malefeces, all in the name of their dark god the duke of bones Thazridun. Masquerading as fellow cultists Wilhelm solicited the priests aid and after some time and a ritual bathing of his eyes with bile like liquid best left unmentioned, Wilhelm’s sight returned. The price of this service was the rancid mushrooms harvested earlier from the pixie grove. Given the priests obvious evil Frank was itching to smash them with his hammer. However they were the only thing approximating a healer for miles and so Frank erred on the side of discretion.

At some point the heroes met up with Trustee Sniv the kobold overseer of the markets. Both Wilhelm and Frank were fascinated by Trustee Sniv’s magnificent Fez. They recruited Sniv’s remaining bugbear guards on the promise that they would teach the hobgoblins a lesson. The party had been fomenting a war between the two factions for some time, a war that threatened to come to a head based on the infamous kobold head kicking incident. The band was also promised 10 slaves when they next arrived should they capture the hobgoblin Khan. With goblin and bugbear allies secured the group returned to the surface and set off to Drellin’s Ferry to purchase better armour, some supplies and perhaps recruit a follower or two.

Frank recruited a fellow from the militia, this man would later have his face torn off by a mountain lion in the first combat he saw. Ah the short brutal life of a hireling. Armour was purchased from the town Bürgermeister and the notion of hiring of a large mercenary force 50 strong was entertained. A mercenary called ‘Shovel’ was hired from the tavern and the band waited close to a week for traders to arrive in town so they could off load some jewelry they had liberated from the dungeon.

Well prepared, the group returned to stone hell and gathered their allies for a strike against the hobgoblins. They managed to gain an audience with the Khan who arrived to meet them accompanied by bodyguards and mountain lions. Frank claimed to have news about the orcs and goblins saying the two groups had wiped each other out. The Khan gestured to the band of goblins behind Frank mentioning that many of the goblins seemed alive and well. Frank looked sheepish and Wilhelm changed the topic.
‘So how about those kobolds eh? Dastardly blighters we should do something about them….’
’Get the Khan!’ Frank interrupted.

A hobgob

The Wolf gang goblins launched a volley of arrows at the Khan, many finding their mark. Wilhelm levitated to the ceiling using his magic boots and drew a bead with his crossbow on the Khan as the hobgoblin leader retreated back to his fortified lair, leaving his guards to do battle. The bolt went wide and the Khan escaped. The battle between his guards and the party was brutal and long. The Wolf gang rained arrows into the combat often striking friend instead of foe and the mountain lions took their toll tearing bugbear and man limb from limb. Frank felt his ribs shatter from the strike of a mountain lions heavy paw. Moments later he lost consciousness from blood loss. The battle was barely won thanks to the timely charge of the goblins that had abandoned their tactic of shooting both friend and foe in the melee. With the Khan escaped and gathering reinforcements Wilhelm ordered the goblins pick up his companion and retreat. While unconscious Frank still managed to mumble something about grabbing the loot to which Wilhelm insisted they didn’t have time.

Returning to the kobolds, Wilhelm convinced them that the battle against the hobgoblins had gone splendidly and in fact had been all but won when a rogue ogre, surely employed by the dastardly Khan, had given the heroes a good kicking and forced them to retreat. With the kobolds brushed off for the time being Wilhelm desperately sought the aid of the evil priests. He scanned the market place frantically and was fortunate as the priests were indeed there. This time they took as payment the pixie kings heart as well as 100 gold. Frank was restored to consciousness and his broken ribs healed by the prayers of the sinister hooded priests.

The Khan had escaped them for now and dramatically reduced the size and strength of the party as they were now bereft of their mighty bugbears, all slain in the hobgoblin conflict. Frank raised his fist and shook it at the ceiling. ‘Khan!’

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Old School Player Tips

I thought I might post the tips from one of the masters of the old school play style. I honestly think you have everything covered except perhaps for number 5 which covers being a little paranoid. I think this will help in reference to traps.

  1. View the entire area you’ve mapped out as the battleground; don’t plan on taking on
    monsters in a single room. They may try to outflank you by running down corridors.
    Establish rendezvous points where the party can fall back to a secure defensive position.
  2. Scout ahead, and try to avoid wandering monsters which don’t carry much treasure.
    You’re in the dungeon to find the treasure-rich lairs. Trying to kill every monster you
    meet will weaken the party before you find the rich monsters.
  3. Don’t assume you can defeat any monster you encounter.
  4. Keep some sort of map, even if it’s just a flow chart. If you get lost, you can end up in
    real trouble – especially in a dungeon where wandering monster rolls are made
    frequently.
  5. Ask lots of questions about what you see. Look up. Ask about unusual stonework.
    Test floors before stepping.
  6. Protect the magic-user. He’s your nuke.
  7. Hire some cannon fodder. Don’t let the cannon fodder start to view you as a weak
    source of treasure.
  8. Spears can usually reach past your first rank of fighters, so a phalanx of hirelings
    works well.
  9. Check in with the grizzled one-armed guy in the tavern before each foray; he may have
    suddenly remembered more details about the area.
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Session 5 - Stonehell
"No good can come from dealing with fairies." - Wilhem

Pixie negotiation – pixies promise a safe place to rest to the north. Wilhelm digs his heels in and refuses to go north. He then re-aligns the poles and guides the party in a ‘Southerly’ direction. Gwen Schiller chased towards the adventurers by carnivorous apes. Gwen’s henchman throws a sword and is then torn apart. Cowardly torch bearer makes enemies of the rest of the party swiftly. Gwen uses her sleep spell to finish off the apes which tear down a bugbear. Party camp behind secret door and rest.

A hob 2

Negotiate passage with hobgoblins who warn Wilhelm of a secret painting that is trapped. Wilhelm won the hobgoblins trust with his accurate description of the khan as well as his story about them being on a secret assignment from the Khan himself. Berserk cannibals encountered and avoided. Zombies shuffle onto the scene and a cannibal zombie battle occurs. The party pick off the sole remaining zombie.

Painting found with small words written in mouth. Party choose not to read words based on Wilhelm’s warning received from the hobgoblin. Cowardly torch bearer bullied into picking up some brass scrolls. A beam from an eye strikes him and he disappears. Gwen is happy with scrolls, Wilhelm and Frank are happy the torch bearer is gone.

While navigating a huge hall the party is beset by spiders the size of rottweilers. Fearing poison, a sleep spells abruptly ends the combat. Later the party attract the attention of some undead. The undead paralyze a bugbear and the party flee. Wilhelm obsesses over a weather vane and covers it in oil. As the group retreat from undead the weather vane or ‘cock’ is set alight. Undead do not pursue and are happy to munch on the abandoned bugbear. Re-exploring the huge hall the group find a dwarf crushed under some rubble. Wilhelm takes the dwarfs boots. They are very stylish and almost certainly magical.

208

Maddening secrets are whispered. Wilhelm ignores, Frank listens and gains some mad wisdom. Spiders in a padded cell are set on fire and gems discovered amongst the charred remains. Giant bats are killed and containers full of odd liquid and coins discovered and looted.

A stone cairn with a warning ‘Do not disturb the slumber of it’ discovered. Doused in oil and set alight. No hirelings were willing to risk moving the stones.

A pixies

Fairy ring discovered. When attempting mushroom vandalism the invisible pixies strike. Wilhelm, the one handed hireling with a door strapped to his back (he lost his hand retrieving a key and getting gooped by green slime) and Frank are trapped by a magically summoned web. Gwen throws down with the pixies and wins the day with a sleep spell. The lead pixie drops and is caught by Gwen who hesitates for only a moment before snapping the creatures neck. The remaining pixies are cowed by Gwen’s Phantasmal creature spell which she used to summon a wraith like undead monstrosity.

Party warned that Rythik, whoever he is, will kill them all. Pixies threaten to lead Rythik to them.

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Session 4 - Stonehell
"This is the first time we have been down those stairs, honest."- Wilhelm

The kobold markets were neutral ground where deals could be struck, information gathered and slaves bought and sold. Amongst the kobold crowd the group picked out some savage orcs, disciplined hobgoblins, sniveling goblins, sinister cultists and the odd bugbear that seemed to keep the peace amongst the various factions. It was in the markets that Derek Schiller parted ways with the group, returning to the surface and Drellin’s Ferry. ‘Who knows what my sister has been up to during my absence.’

Frank roamed the markets looking for equipment to outfit his newly purchased, or liberated depending on your outlook, slaves. He traded a number of badly cured wolf pelts he had been carrying about as well as some of his coin for shoddy short bows and worn leather armour for his slaves/followers.

Kobolds

Wilhelm visited the kobold equivalent of a tavern. The place was crowded with a motley assortment of creatures and the smell was off putting. In one corner of the tavern sat a woman wearing a heavy veil. At her side stood a mage and two hulking ogre bodyguards wearing full helms that seemed to prevent the wearer from seeing. Wilhelm made some inquiries at the bar about mercenaries and learned that some of the bugbear guards might be available for hire. Two were recruited to the cause and promised a share of the loot. Like the majority of the followers the band would recruit they perished in the dungeon, though being bugbears they lasted longer than most. Wilhelm sauntered up to the bar and ordered their finest ale. The barkeep, a kobold, looked at him strangely and tapped the single keg he had producing a fine, if lumpy, ale. With drink in hand, but untouched, Wilhelm enquired about the veiled woman in the corner. Her name was Larchess and the mage by her side Gerhadt. She was an information broker who was waiting for a dragon to meet her. The dragon would be taking the guise of an elf for the meeting. Not sure whether to believe the barman’s tale Wilhelm approached Larchess. Their conversation was brief and amounted to Wilhelm suspecting Larchess of being a medusa. It seemed very little of worth could be gained from discussions with Larchess without much coin changing hands. Gerhadt the mage seemed like a nice enough fellow though he was too attached to Larchess to part from her company.

While roaming the markets Frank was accosted by some of the sinister priests. They insisted that he repent and convert to their god Thazridun, duke of bones. Frank, who had his liberated slaves in tow, declined the priests offer and drew his weapon. The priests responded in kind and battle was joined. Things ended unfavorably for the priests in a short and one sided conflict. At the conclusion of the battle a number of kobolds guards arrived. One of them pointed to the bloody war hammer in Franks hand.
‘Manling, how did you get your hammer back from storage?’
Indeed something mysterious had happened. In order to access the kobold markets the heroes had turned in their weapons, which Frank himself had secured with a lock bought from town. Now as violence loomed his war hammer had mysteriously appeared at his belt. Frank merely shrugged at the unusual turn of events and turned in his weapon once again.

Tiring of the markets the group set off down some nearby stairs delving deeper into Stonehell in search of the famed burning priest. Defeating the burning priest had originally been the quest Derek and Frank had settled on in order to win fame. With Derek gone Frank saw no reason to abandon the quest. At the base of the stairs the band were accosted by hobgoblins that demanded many things of them. Wilhelm became frustrated by their line of questioning and became more than a little snarky. He waved them away dismissively. ‘I tire of your constant questioning hobgoblins, you bore me.’
‘Watch your tongue human, we could just as easily spit you on a pike.’
‘Is that a threat hobgoblin? For if it is then know that you had best back up your words with action.’
‘You are a coward!’ The hobgoblin roared stepping closer.
‘Sorry I couldn’t hear you.’ Wilhelm responded. The nobleman had selective hearing when it came to insults towards his person. The hobgoblin raised his gauntlet ready to challenge Wilhelm to a duel. ‘Oh you will see action soon enough. You and me. One on one’
‘GET THEM!’ Wilhelm shouted pushing his henchmen forward.
The hobgoblins were put to the sword but during the battle a liberated kobold slave fell; his body was to be left on the dungeon floor. Sure that hobgoblin reinforcement were on the way the band hurried back up the stairs and lost themselves in the markets waiting for the situation to cool down.

Khan

After some time, and assuming the coast was clear, the group ventured back down the stairs. Again they were accosted by hobgoblins who seemed on edge. They asked the party to wait while they went to fetch the Khan. The band still intended to pass through hobgoblin territory on the way to where they believed the burning priest could be found.
’This is the first time we have been down those stairs, honest.’ Wilhelm insisted.
The Khan, when he arrived with an entourage and pet lions, was skeptical of their tale but held the kobolds responsible for murder of his guards. As payment for passing through his territory he would be entitled to give one of their kobold slaves a kick, thus in some minor way venting his pent up aggression. Agreeing to the deal, the heroes offered up a kobold follower who the Khan booted in the head. The force was such that the poor creature went flying backwards and an audible crack was heard as its skull shattered.
‘Now see here good man.’ Wilhelm interjected ‘This was not the deal at all. There was never any discussion about killing.’
The Khan shrugged.
‘It seems we should at the very least be able to kick one of your men in the head.’ Wilhelm demanded.
The Khan looked displeased giving the nobleman a withering stare. The Khan’s mountain lions snarled.
‘Don’t worry about him Khan.’ Frank interjected. ‘We’ll be on our way.’

Scouting to the west the party encountered a grey ooze which they fled from and a spilt potion which they had their sole remaining kobold slave sample. Pressing on they encountered another hobgoblin patrol which let them pass unchallenged. Their band seemed too strong to mess with based on numbers alone. In a ruined church of sorts far to the west the group found the burning priest. A skeletal robed figure wreathed in a column of fire. The priest ranted and preached a sermon about end times which included passing references to the heroes. While obviously not hostile the group surrounded him and then launched their attack amongst the decaying pews of this long abandoned chapel. The burning priest fought like a demon his flaming fists landing telling blows on Frank knocking the fighter out. Wilhelm pressed the undead monstrosity but to little effect before one of the bugbear retainers hired in the kobold market landed a telling blow with it’s mace smashing the burning priests spine. After some time Frank regained consciousness and decided to claim the priests continuously flaming skull as a prize which he attached to his shield.

Trampier bugbear

Exploring further the group found chimes, a gong, a number of minor traps and a secret door behind a bookcase. Beyond the secret door the group found some scrolls and potions and perhaps more importantly a safe place to rest and recuperate.

The band continued exploring northward. A rug covered pit trap claimed their sole surviving kobold scout before the group found a room full of wooden statues. Neither hero trusted statues and Wilhelm produced from his pack one of the countless flasks of oil he had collected. These the group threw on the statues from a distance before igniting them. Their caution was justified as one of the statues animated and was swiftly put down by sword and hammer blows. Further exploration uncovered a corridor choked with spider webs, which the band put to the torch.
Having earlier encountered a giant wasp nest the party made their way towards it all the while pushing the heaped burning wooden statues ahead of them. On the way they encountered some zombies that braved the flames to reach them. Badly burnt they were no match for the seasoned adventurers. By the time they had reached the wasp chamber the band stoked the flames higher encouraging as much smoke as possible. The net result was some drowsy wasps that were easily dispatched. The wasp nest was a brittle affair and was quickly set ablaze with burning arrows. With the wasps corpses still smoldering about their feet the group set about searching the chamber. In it they found sections of the floor dug up as if someone had been digging for something. The group decided to dig up the remainder of the floor and were rewarded with a sizable cache of treasure.

Content with their accumulated loot the group decided to retire to the secret alcove in the chapel area for a rest. On the way they were greeted by Irish accents emerging from thin air. It seemed invisible pixies had found them. Wilhelm and Frank each sighed in relief as the encounter with the pixies offered a brief respite from the life and death struggles within Stonehell. With the pixies watching on the group prepared to make camp.

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Session 3 - Stonehell
"I say this portcullis is most inconvenient." - Wilhelm

Frank and Derek Schiller were recuperating after a successful expedition against the Stag lord Zorrel Gnast. They shared the table of Markus the Bürgermeister of Drellin’s Ferry. Derek could barely conceal his contempt at the quality of the wine. It was nothing compared to the fine Estalian blends he had copiously consumed while ‘studying’ in foreign lands at his fathers expense. The Bürgermeister probed Derek’s loyalty to his father looking for ways to gain the noble’s trust. Derek would have none of this however and instead pursued rumors of the notorious Stonehell dungeon. All the talk in town centered on the presence of a burning skeleton deep within the dungeon. Slaying the Stag lord had gained Derek some fame, though it was fame he had to share with his somewhat untrustworthy sister Gwen. If he were to slay the burning skeleton then he would gain further standing and perhaps a position in his father’s court.

The failed state of Eisen’s main export, since the stagnation of it’s war stricken economy, was soldiers . This made recruiting some mercenaries and arming with bows an easy task. While trawling the taverns the heroes managed to recruit a disaffected son of a noble known as Wilhelm. This well dressed warrior had his very own shield bearer and someone to carry his blade. Wilhelm claimed to be someone important and he certainly looked the part.
11 187
The band entered the box canyon housing Stonehell via the narrow path they had used to reach Zorrel Gnast’s bandit redoubt. Frank’s dog, inventively named Poo, began barking furiously as it became apparent that they were being stalked by wolves. A vicious battle erupted amongst the rocky and narrow path with the large band of warriors jostling for position all eager to bloody their swords. The wolves were put to flight with just a single canine escaping. The corpses yielded little of value beyond their pelts.

Continuing into the box canyon the group scouted some ruins before turning their attention to a small wood. Within the wood they spied some bandits. An overheard conversation indicated they were survivors of Zorrel Gnast’s band. After a quick skirmish that saw many bandits dispatched, the two survivors were pressed into service. In honour of this occasion Frank renamed the survivors Wee and Vomit. This shouldn’t have been so surprising considering his own surname was Poxblast.

With new recruits the band changed tack and decided to enter Stonehell via the ‘lift’ found in Zorrel Gnast’s lair instead of using Stonehell’s front door. They lowered themselves down only to find themselves in a cavern full of giant mushrooms. Frank immediately made himself a giant mushroom hat. Poo (the dog) began barking alerting his master to danger. Sadly the warning came moments too late as panicked giant cave locusts lept into the midst of the band. Two of Wilhelm’s retainers were crushed under the giant insects legs. Spurred into action the band made short work of the insects. Wilhelm stood stunned in the aftermath of the skirmish, clearly affected by the sudden deaths of his hirelings. “I had asked for healthy and strong retainers but it seems I have been sold shoddy merchandise.’ Wilhelm complained before muttering something about being made of paper-mache. Frank just shrugged as he was used to seeing men die, it came with the job.

Exploring the caverns further the band came across a mob of kobolds harvesting fungus. After a hurried discussion a kobold called Pim, who seemed smitten by Wilhelm, agreed to become their guide and show them not only to the lower levels where the burning skeleton was rumoured to reside, but also to the Kobold’s community where they could rest and resupply. Pressing on the group encountered a magnetic cavern which proved a slight annoyance to those in chain armour.
A sphinx
Leaving the natural caverns the group entered the worked stone corridors of Stonehell proper. Within a small chamber they discovered a statue of a sphinx who challenged them to answer its riddle. ‘If you have it, you want to share it, but if you share it, you don‘t have it. What is it?’ Frank answered ‘a secret’ and Wilhelm rather cleverly answered ‘virginity’. As both answers were correct the group earned some treasure including some potions.

Flexing his substantial muscles Frank hefted the portcullis which guarded the corridor their kobold guide insisted would lead them to the lower levels. Pressing on the band stumbled across some orcs roasting a beetle in a ruined hall. The group surprised the brutes but failed to kill them all as a sole survivor fled for safety. Frank gave pursuit continuing bravely on despite the failing light as he ventured further and further from the groups lantern light. Groping about in the dark Frank heard many orc voices and figuring fighting in pitch darkness a foolish option hastily retreated to warn his fellows.

The group prepared an ambush for the oncoming orcs and executed it and the orcs very well. Ominously the orcs kept on coming and one by one the hired help began to fall. Wilhelm’s nerve broke and he ordered his surviving retainers to retreat with the orcs in close pursuit. His panicked flight was blocked by an inconveniently closed portcullis and so Wilhelm had to turn and face his orcish tormentors. A desperate battle ensued with the hero’s scraping through with a win though their retainers had been whittled down to just Vomit the ex bandit whom Wilhelm had purchased from Frank earlier in the venture in order to have someone carry his shield. With the battle barely over the group heard an ominous clicking sound of many segmented legs scuttling across stone. Determining discretion was in order the group hid in a nearby antechamber as a group of fire beetles arrived. With so much fresh meat the insects settled in for a feast. The party chose that moment to rest and recuperate.

With the beetles gone and feeling refreshed from a quick nap the band pressed on scouting out a recently abandoned orc watchpost. Further scouting revealed a silent human figure who lured Derek into a pit trap before fleeing. While annoyed the party chose not to pursue the soundless figure. Instead they explored a room full of rancid straw. Suspecting a trap Frank encouraged Vomit to explore the room first on the proviso that, should he succeed in searching the place, he would be allowed a proper name. Sadly Vomit set off a bear trap which tore his leg off as soon as he set foot in the room.
‘Who just leaves a bear trap in a room?’ Frank shouted shaking his fist at the gods. ‘This is stupid! Only idiots would trap a room with nothing in it.’
‘Oi ooman. Ooo you calling an idiot?’ responded a goblin voice from down the hall. ‘You fell for a Wolf Gang booby trap. We set it to punish the orc tribe that stole our lands. Make sense now stinky human?’ At that point a band of helpfully explanatory goblins ambled up the corridor towards the party. Some pleasantries were exchanged and the goblins seemed eager to enlist the groups help in defeating their hated orc rivals. The heroes had other plans and set off for the nearby kobold community and the stairs down which their now deceased kobold guide had promised them was close.

Indeed they were close. Apart from discovering a secret cache of treasure, including a magic mace Skull Crusher, the journey to the kobold community was uneventful. At the entrance, after avoiding a rather obvious dead fall trap, the band had their weapons taken. Frank protested loudly and managed to secure their weapons with a padlock he had purchased in Drellin’s Ferry. With coin to spend the band hit the slave market. They are currently in possession of 2 humans, 4 goblins, 3 kobolds and an elf. Fresh meat for the grinder.

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