The First Session, Part 2
Continued from here. In which the PCs venture inside a dungeon, a toad loses a toe, and almost no XP is gained.
A nameless human Paladin of the Voice. Not very bright, but unshakably faithful.
Thomas, a toadling elementalist wizard, formerly a shepherd. Accompanied by his last remaining sheep.
Franklin, the Iron Frog. A frogling, a knight, and a sensible man.
Antonia Barracuda, a fishling thief, and a sensible lady.
Franklin insisted the party return to Bogrest. They could resupply in the small village and claim their reward for slaying the owlbear. Though Franklin grumbled about granting the Paladin a full share after the cheese-wheel incident, the surviving party members split Melchir the Merchant's purse evenly and were briefly the toast of the town.
After purchasing horses (or what passed for horses in Bogrest) and vital supplies of torches, food, and water, the PCs invested their excess wealth in their own ways. Thomas hoarded his gold in a sack, close to his chest. Antonia was equally paranoid. Franklin stored most of his wealth at the Black Stone Inn. Nobody knew what the Paladin did with his share, though some suspected he ate it or buried it in the earth.
The party also collected three new hires. Albarich the Minstrel swore to accompany them, for a small daily fee of 5 silver pieces, to sing songs of their glorious deeds. While Franklin made no secret of his contempt for "Minstruators and Other Bandy Wordblaggarts", Thomas the wizard was delighted with the raggedy musician and his fine, flattering songs. The party also hired a fourteen-year-old jewler's apprentice named Tshamus, who was fleeing his master and seeking his fortune in the wider world. Tshamus offered few useful skills, but he was quick to obey commands.
The party also acquired Tito the toadling, a gambler and rake from the city of Elderstone. For one full share, he promised to lead the party through the dungeon using his "fabulous treasure map." He'd drawn the map the night before, but his lies were plausible enough that the party agreed to let him hop along. The night before they departed, Tito bet money he didn't have against the Truculent Brothers, trying to win a horse. For his trouble the Truculent Brothers took his shirt and gave him several bruises. The party found him tied to the town's well in the morning, cold and shivering.
On horseback (with Tito hopping behind, or attempting to ride Fuzzy the sheep, or, finally, sharing the Paladin's horse), the party arrived at the Old Fort Hill before sunset. After setting up a pathetic sort of camp, the party ventured into what they would come to call the Tomb of the Serpent Kings.
Antonia and Thomas took the lead. The first 2 chambers contained wooden coffins and clay sculptures of humanoid warriors with elongated arms, legs, heads, and fangs. Antonia smashed the first one and got a lungful of poison gas, which barely did her any harm. Thomas, despite knowing about the poison gas, smashed the second and got a much more potent blast, which sent him howling back to the surface for fresh air. Each warrior contained the skeleton of a snake and a gold amulet. The next two chambers were similar, save that they contained a statue of a snake-man scholar (dust and useless scrolls) and a snake-man sorcerer (silver ring, pocketed by the Paladin). Tito also stole the robe from the sorcerer. Its ancient enchantment tried to strangle him, but a few good thwacks dismissed the magic.
At the end of the hall was a stone door, barred from the outside with a thick stone block held up by two iron hooks. Lifting the bar would be a group effort. The Paladin, Franklin, Thomas, and Tito all crowded around to assist, while Antonia stood well back. The four adventurers managed to lift the bar, but the moment its weight was no longer on the iron hooks an ancient trap activated. A massive stone hammer that filled nearly the entire hallway swung down from the ceiling, its spiked head aimed directly at the four adventurers.
The Paladin threw himself forward, barely escaping the hammer by falling flat on his face. Franklin and Thomas competed to use Tito as a springboard, leaving the poor toadling in the hammer's path. Luckily, they'd squashed him flat enough to escape any physical damage, though his pride and confidence were sorely wounded. Somehow, all the adventurers emerged unscathed. The hammer slowly retracted into the ceiling.
Thomas was the first to enter the inner tomb. Three ornate wooden coffins featured prominently against one wall. Thomas opened the central and most lavish coffin and was terrified to find a murderous and armed skeleton inside. The other coffins burst open, revealing two more animated constructs of bone and iron. Thomas, the Paladin, and Tito fled the tomb immediately. Franklin put up a brave show of resistance, but when it was clear he was the last one remaining, also fled. Antonia waited until the skeletons stumbled after him in pursuit before reactivating the hammer trap. The mighty stone hammer swung down and smashed all three skeletons into fragments. The impact was so impressive that the "king" skeleton's sword was embedded in the opposite wall.
Praising their comrade's quick thinking, the party returned to the tomb. After checking out a room full of dusty and valueless jars, they discovered a secret passage beneath a stone idol, and descended into a deeper portion of the tombs.
In a large statue-dominated room, a pool of black water had formed due to decades of neglect and seepage. While exploring the room, the Paladin tossed a stone into the pool. A grisly, rag-covered arm emerged, crawling along the ground like a worm. It threw itself at the Paladin and grabbed him by the collar, beating his chest with its shoulder-stump. Tito ran forward with a torch to set the pool on fire, but slipped and was grabbed by a second hand. While the Paladin flailed about, Antonia tossed Tito a rope and hauled him out of the water. The hand began to crush bone and flesh, and the panicked screams of the toadling filled the room. The Paladin rushed over sword raised, and with a two-handed blow struck the end off one of Tito's boots, taking a toe with it and missing the crawling arm completely. Tito's screams intensified.
Thomas, drawing the dagger he'd looted from Carl's body, rushed to help the Paladin, and stabbed him directly in the sternum. Unable to yell in pain, the Paladin could only give the wizard a pained and pitying look. While Antonia pried the arm off Tito, Franklin dropped his shield and charged the Paladin. He struck the arm with a two-handed swing of his sword, knocking the Paladin prone but smashing the arm into oozing fragments.
While Franklin escorted the bleeding and feverish Tito and the winded Paladin to the surface, Antonia and Thomas decided to investigate one of the adjoining rooms. They pried the stone door to one chamber open, but Thomas' first step inside set off a lightning bolt trap. The toadling wizard, glowing slightly and smoking from the ears, tipped over backwards. Antonia managed to restart the wizard's heart and drag him to the surface as well. The party made camp for the night. Tito insisted on eating his own severed toe, and, surprisingly, did not contract any serious illnesses.
When the sun rises, the party will surely return to brave the depths of the Tomb of the Serpent Kings.