OSR: Tomb of the Serpent Kings, Session 5 & 6

Continued from here. In which the party visits a city, gains some magic items, and learns to test spells before casting them.

The Party: 
A nameless human Paladin of the Voice. Has a plan to tame savage beasts.
Thomas, a toadling elementalist wizard, currently kidnapped for non-payment of his Wizard Student Loans.
Franklin, the Iron Frog. A frogling and a knight with a plan to regain his lost castle and title.
Antonia Barracuda, a fishling thief with few scruples but many sensible plans.
Spackles. Slugling illusionist wizard and slightly maniacal schemer.

Elderstone is the local city, the only city within three day's ride of the Loathsome Hills. For most of the party, Elderstone was home. While Franklin had been raised on his family's vast estate and in the ancient halls of Castle Frogspur, Antonia had grown up in the stinking dockyards of Elderstone. The Paladin was raised in a squalid orphanage in the Rookery. Both Thomas and Spackles had studied at the College of Elderstone.

While the party traveled, Thomas was interrogated by Olbrech, Debt Collector for the College of Elderstone, and his cronies. Olbrech informed the shackled wizard that a repayment plan would need to be created, one that satisfied both the College's loan and the rapidly growing interest. Thomas hinted - in not very subtle terms - that he'd discovered a vast hoard of treasure underground, along with magical artifacts and lost knowledge. He didn't mention Xiximanter, the ancient mummified snake-man wizard they'd met in the dungeon.

Satisfied, and with new contracts signed in blood, Thomas was expelled from the Tower with a teleport spell. He arrived to find the party within sight of Eldestone. Annoyed that he'd been teleported a distance he could have walked in less than an hour, and that the spell had swapped him with Fuzzy, his one surviving sheep, Thomas grumpily followed the party through the city gates.

The party's first stop was the market square of the Golden Fields. They sold some of their jewelry, had gems evaluated, and purchased mundane but vital supplies. They also visited Lurm the Enchanter.

Lurm's three-story home and business was all they'd expected from a mercantile wizard. It looked like a stack of smaller buildings, fused by magic or a mad plasterer. Windows opened sideways. Chimneys curled like snakes, weaving in and out of rooms. And nailed to the wood, a hundred protective runes, signs, and icons. The ancient ratling's room on the main floor was a true wizard's cavern. A dried alligator hung from the ceiling, surrounded by bundles of herbs, dried fruits, ribbons, sausages, and a thousand other dangling items. The air smelled of magic and treacle.

After greeting the Paladin as an old friend, and commenting on how much he'd grown, Lurm evaluated the party's magical resources. Most of the trinkets he dismissed or made laughable offers, but he was very interested in Spackle's potion. He informed the slugling that the potion would doubtlessly enhance any spell held in the illusionist's brain, but that the effects might be dangerous and unpredictable.

In exchange for Franklin's good-seeking arrows and a stack of gold, he agreed to enchant the knight's sword with a "work-a-day enchantment". He also sent the knight next door to have his fortune read by the corpulent Madame Zolba, who informed the knight he would reclaim his ancestral home only if he overcame the "dangers of the pit and tower." Spackles spent all his gold to by a dubious wand containing the Light (Octarine) spell. Lurm seemed almost to eager to sell the wand.

(A wand stores 1 spell, and provides a free MD to use that spell. The number of charges = the number of MD the wand can provide, ever. You can use a wand like a spellbook with one page.)

 The party slept in a terrible run-down inn located by their Paladin in the depths of the Rookery. Once an urchin, he'd idolized this inn as the pinnacle of luxury. Real sheets, warm food, and four walls didn't compensate for the bugs, the noise, and the surly and threatening innkeeper. They slept uneasily and departed in the morning.
Antonia wisely banked 200 gold pieces with the First Yellow Dragon Bank of Ultipater the Magnificent. After spending another day buying supplies, wandering the streets, and enjoying their new-found wealth, the party spent another night in a much better inn before riding for the Tomb of the Serpent Kings.

The next morning, while Franklin donned his armour and Antonia sharpened her daggers, Spackles snuck off into a clearing to perform some dangerous magic. He aimed the wand at his head and fired, trying to absorb the spell before it had a chance to be cast. Somehow, it worked. With the Light (Octarine) spell in his brain, he drank the magical enhancement potion. The spell twisted and churned in his mind as the magical influences of Xiximanter's potion mixed with an untested and newly acquired spell, but, despite leaking some light from his tear ducts, Spackles survived.

After reviewing their map, the party decided to explore some of the rooms branching off the Basilisk Hall. While the Paladin gave the giant lizard a thorough neck-scratching, the rest of the group investigated a mysterious rotating door. A cylinder of stone with a space just big enough for two people, the door could rotate to the left or right, sealing itself flush against the stone as it turned. The Thomas and Antonia went through first. Turning counterclockwise brought them to face a stabbing spear trap. They spun the cylinder hastily back, but still took a few nasty punctures. Thomas' leg was badly wounded, but luckily, Antonia still had a vial full of troll blood, which swiftly healed the injured wizard.

Spackles and Franklin tried the clockwise direction and found a stone snake idol with a few silver offering bowls. Turning further, they found a rough cave filled with chattering and unbearable stench.  They rotated the door back to allow the rest of the party, two by two, to join them, and then cautiously advanced.

The cave contained a small horde of pale white goblins, living ankle-deep in filth, rags, and bones, and worshiping a crowned idol made of sticks and mud. Apparently, in the absence of a living creature to crown King of the Goblins, they'd settled on a stick-based replacement.

Spackles took one look at the crowd of goblins and lost his mind. He was terrified of being captured again, and let loose his newly acquired and enhanced spell, with devastating results. Octarine light is the colour of magic, and corrupts and twists whatever it touches. The following things occurred almost immediately:

1. Thomas' leg transformed into a troll and hopped away, leaving Thomas to bleed out and die on the floor.
2. All the goblins caught on fire and ran around screaming.
3. Antonia also caught on fire while trying to save Thomas
4. Despite her burns, Antonia also acquired a new pheromone-based scent that most people find irresistible.
5. Franklin mutated to become more appealing to water elementals, enhancing his swimming skills
6. It rained flower petals.
7. Spackles gained 4 new eyes and 4 new mouths.
8. The Paladin was lightly singed but otherwise escaped unchanged.

The party, or what was left of it, squeezed back through the rotating door and fled to the surface, dragging their dead friend behind them. Everyone berated Spackles for his irresponsible spell use, but it was hard to be too angry with the now hideously mutated slugling. Spackles was despondent. Morale was low. They divided up Thomas' belongings (Antonia kept the spellbooks) and spent the rest of the day bandaging wounds, fortifying their camp against goblin attacks, and trying to convince Spackles to never cast that spell again.

The early morning was disturbed by a crash of tree branches and panicked screams. A young woman in black robes was being pursued through the forest by a very angry lightning-struck tree. Acting quickly, Spackles created an illusory woman (using the Paladin's new mirror-bright plate armour) and sent it running away from the tree, while Antonia grabbed the real target and hauled her into a tent.

Missy E, as it turned out, was a human from a very, very isolated village of religious puritans. She'd been sent into the world for vague religious reasons. Even the Paladin, with his limited intelligence, got the sense that her religion might be dangerously pagan when she started worshiping snake statues the next day. But for a 2% share, she volunteered to help explore the dungeon, hinting at yet untested magical abilities.

Sadly, she never got the chance to reveal that she was a Summoner. The next day, while exploring a deeper hall, she lost a finger to a swinging blade trap. While the party tried to calm her and loot a vast pile of coins, they were attacked by a wandering Skeleton Jelly. The hideous creature crushed the young woman's windpipe and then, while she was dying on the floor, attacked Spackles. In the confusion, and with very limited light, the party failed to save either friend. Despite the skeleton jelly's feeble strength, it succeed in crushing the illusionist's head. Antonia dragged the body away, and once again, the party retreated to the surface.

"We need to hire some help," Franklin said. Only Antonia and the Paladin had survived this lastest expedition. Franklin's apprentice-turned-squire had also been with them, but had fled when the skeleton jelly arrived. Their minstrel kept their horses safe and watered but refused to enter the dungeon. The Tomb of the Serpent Kings had claimed two more victims. How many others would perish before its riches and secrets were dragged into the light?

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