The party consists of:
Cazael the spiderling fighter. The leader of the group because he's willing to stand in front of everyone else when fights start.
The Paladin, a beetle-ling hermit, wanderer, and servant of the Authority.
Bill the wormling Orthodox Wizard. Has antlers and telekinesis thanks to strange potions. Thinks life underground is just peachy.
Swainson the Garden Wizard. Formerly a hawkling, currently a dryad thanks to Bill's polymorph-based first aid strategy. Delighted to be a dryad. Not enthused about dying in a sunless cave.
Hec the Goblin. Given to the party by the Olm as ghoul-bait. Mouth full of teeth, head full of bad ideas.
Klaus the human Barbarian vanished during the party's hectic escape and hasn't been seen since. Christen Bell the weasel-ling Bell Exorcist was left at Jeswick's fortress as a diplomat/hostage.
The Map: Session 3-4 of the VeinscrawlDrawn by a player. Note that the new numbering scheme is slightly off.
Starting in the Salamander Encampment...
1. The party confirms their deal with the Olm; one dead ghoul for three hours of light. They think this is a great deal. So do the Olm.
2. The Olm lead the party to a squeeze and tell them there are ghouls on the other side, maybe. They wish the party luck and depart.
3. The party finds three ghouls trying to climb a fissure in the cave wall. Like Ghoul Captain
Szoban, these ghouls are in armour, but they fight with their claws and teeth like rabid animals. Combat is brief and dangerous. Hec the Goblin stabs a ghoul to death, the Paladin commands one to STAY STILL, allowing the others to cut its head off, and the third is dispatched by Cazael's freezing sword.
4. The freezing sword fills the cave with fog. The party, wary of more ghouls, retreats to several ambush positions and prepares for a counterattack.
5. A few minutes later, a patrol of three ghouls with swords approaches from one side of the cave. They spot the corpses of their scouts. Immediately, the party attacks with tactical finesse hitherto unseen. Cazael charges from the fog and decapitates one ghoul. The second ghoul turns and Bill stabs it in the back. The third, watching its two comrades fall, is tripped by the Paladin and impaled by Hec, all in a single round.
6. The party decides not to push their luck. They loot the bodies, drag the 6 corpses back to the original Olm cave, and wait for the Olm to return. The Olm inform the PCs that they don't have the lamp oil on them, but maybe the PCs could carry the corpses to a village nearby?
The PCs agree. Silently, the Olm chortle with glee.
7. After a very arduous and trap-filled journey/descent lasting several hours, the party arrives on the shores of what seems to be a massive underground lake. ("Salt Lake City" on the map). The Olm start to lead them towards a village, but stop suddenly. The carved stone stairs are scared by magic. There is a smell of ozone and ash in the air.
The Olm debate their next move in their quiet, whistling language. They don't know that Hec can understand them. Hec quietly and badly translates for the rest of the party.
GM's Note: Hec, despite being a goblin, still has better mental stats than half of the rest of the party.
8. The Olm put their cards on the table. They bought a relic from "the Ruins" from some traders. They suspect the relic is dangerous and may have attacked the villagers. The PCs agreed to investigate in return for safe passage through Olm territory, a place to rest, and preferential treatment while trading. The Olm agreed; the only sticking point was Hec's status. Goblins are not well loved in the Veins.
9. Nevertheless, Hec is an excellent scout, able to see and smell in the dark. The chattering goblin informs the party that their enemy is a "metal ball, make dead light and fire, fwhoooosh".
10. The "relic" is some sort of brass defense golem, a floating orb made of gems and wire and polished plates. It is dented and damaged, but it still fires lasers at anything moves or makes noise. The Olm can't see the lasers or hear the orb moving. Two Olm had died to the beams; a third was hiding in a tiny passage.
11. The party attacks with a great deal of enthusiasm and not a lot of tactical skill. After a few close calls, Hec and Cazael scale a wall and jump on the sphere, prying off a few plates. Bill pulls out his sandstorm wand, carefully protected ever since his fight with the vampire children many weeks ago, and blasts the relic, filling its interior with sand. As its mechanisms grind to a halt, the rest of the party hit it with spells, thrown rocks, and crossbow bolts until it stops glowing.
12.Triumphant, Cazael retrieves the Olm (and all six ghoul corpses). The two wizards loot valuable gems and spell reagents from the broken relic. Hec loots a bundle of brass wires.
13. The extra calories provided by the ghouls allow the Olm to throw a subdued celebration, clean up their village, and grant the party a few rooms of their own. In return, the party gives the Olm the rest of the relic.
The Olm really like the PCs.
The PCs think the Olm are fair and reasonable people, even if they are blind cave salamanders.
The Olm are certainly reasonable.
Can the party maintain their tactical edge? What fresh horrors await them in the Veins of the Earth?