OSR: OSR: Veins of the Earth, Session 5

Last session, the PCs went from scared and lost cave-explorers to a deadly coordinated underground SWAT team (and roving corpse merchants). They think they've got a good handle on how the Veins works. They think they know the rules. Can they keep it up?

Spoiler alert: no. No they can not.

The party consists of:
Cazael the spiderling fighter. The leader of the group by default.
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.
Hec the Goblin. Mouth full of teeth, head full of bad ideas.  
Christen Bell the weasel-ling Bell Exorcist was last seen at Jeswick's fortress. She turned up at the start of this session by falling from an unseen shaft, arriving confused, bruised, and with fuzzy memories.

Side Note: I don't usually bother describing climbs, detours, minor encounters, and fear in great detail in these writeups. The sessions are full of purple prose, hesitation, and danger. These writeups, not so much.

The party debated burning 6 hours of light just to sleep. They decided to rest in total darkness, trusting Hec the goblin and the Olm to protect them. Their rest was uneventful.

The Paladin, using a scrap of chalk, wrote that he had to leave the group. The book of daemonic contracts they'd discovered on the body of their pig-farmer guide had been worrying him. He wanted to find a way to safely destroy it, or find its creator, and he felt the rest of the group might be endangered by the quest. The party protested, but, remembering Clothild's death and the daemonic arms that rose to claim his soul, decided not to interfere.

Side Note: The Paladin, after reaching level 5, decided to retire to safety.

Before letting the party leave, the Olm sold them a new companion. They'd found a surface-world fishling wandering in the Veins. They were going to eat him but decided that the party might have more use for him and, after some negotiation, traded him. Jack the Fishling Goliard joined the group, eager to assist. He told a confused tale of plague, madness, darkness, and doom. The party smiled politely, handed him a dagger, and told him not to fall down any holes.

Things swiftly went awry. Starting in "Salt Lake City".

1. Two Olm guides bring the party to the edge of Olm territory.

2. Hec the Goblin realizes that they are being
stalked. More accurately, Hec remembers that they are being stalked - the goblin had noticed several times but neglected to inform anyone. It informs the party now.

3. Jack decids to lure their mysterious pursuer into the open. In a large cave lit by the flicker of mysterious flames, Jack wanders into the open and taunts their mysterious pursuer, using the full range of his religious education to insult its ancestry, appearance, and temperament.

4. The rest of the party sticks to the shadowy cave walls, waiting to ambush whatever appears. Left and right, front and back, Jack is surrounded and protected by his new friends.

5. A gigantic vantablack ferret reachs down from the ceiling and unscrews Jack's head.

Side Note: I'm not sure if the Blackfoot Gigaferret is intelligent enough to be a valid target of the Goliard's taunting ability, but either way, the unarmed fishling was too tempting.

6. The party panics. Swainson uses woodbend to become tall and thin and grabs the ferret. Cazael uses the wizard as a ladder to hit the creature with his sword. Hec throws daggers and Bill gibbers in fear.

7. Eventually, after a desperate struggle, Cazael hacks the ferret to death. Jack chokes to death on his own blood. The party decided to drag his body back to Olm territory and, after a brief debate, sold his corpse for meat. Bill bought a few carefully smoked fishling rations. Hec ate an entire arm.

8. The Olm are very impressed by the party's victory over the ferret. The surface-worlders might be amateurs in commerce but they seem to be experts in violence. Cazael pays to have the ferret's spine turned into a whip, though it will not be ready for several days. Bill has the skin made into a cloak, a much quicker process. The wizard is all but invisible when fully enfolded in its light-drinking fur.

9. The party rests overnight in the Olm village.
They awake to find more goblins. Somehow, Hec had called to its family/clan/friends/minions or whatever and there were now a nebulous number of goblins in the room. Hec was in there somewhere, as was Hec's sonic pig, but the rest were new, scabrous, small-eyed, sharp-toothed, and noisy.

10. The Olm suggested they leave immediately. One goblin had been tolerable, but a goblin horde...

11. Retracing their steps, the party explores the fire-lit cave. They discover sublimely frustrating pyre monks, burning their sins away in steep-sided pyramidal pits. They also find a flealing Summoner, Tuck.

12. Tuck is completely untrustworthy, sniveling, and mysterious. He more-or-less inserts himself into the party. Apparently his "friends" (cult) went "missing" (fled his ambitious destructive takeover of the cult) and he needs to "find" (kill) them. The party decides that having a Veins native might be useful, but refuse under any circumstances to "be his friend".

Side Note:
One of Tuck's summons is #56. You can see why he wants to make friends with everyone.

13. A goblin is lowered into an empty pyre monk pit to retrieve a bottle of liquid black goop. The substance corrupts the goblin's morals (and, by extension, all the other goblins). They become sinfully covetous and begin hoarding treasures.

Side Note: Finally, a use for the d10 Commandments. Liquefied sin is a great item.

14. The party spends many hours traveling through caves, searching for more ghouls. They find a steep sloped cave and spot a group of three flealings in robes trying to descend.

15. The goblin horde, encouraged by Tuck, descends in a tangle of rope and massacres the three flealings. Tuck is delighted until he discovers the goblins have also stripped the corpses of all valuables.

16. The rest of the party descends, using Tuck's summoned rope (#74). Cazael sprains one of his eight legs, but soon recovers.

17. The party finds Yorminthal the Cave Giant buried under huge boulders. The hideous cartilaginous creature, one yellow eye visible, promises treasure and glory if the PCs free him. They are not convinced.

18. With some concern, the PCs retreat to what they hope is a safe distance and debate their next move. The giant could be edible, and the Olm would surely pay a fortune for a mountain of giant meat. Transporting it, on the other hand...

And the giant did promise many treasures...

Will the players negotiate with the trapped giant? Will they run out of surface rations and turn to smoked fishling meat? Can then endure an alliance with many sinful goblins?

Who knows?

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