So, we started them back in the village of Redflood, collecting their rewards from the Crypt of the Lizard King. They had armor, horses, a not-inconsiderable amount of treasure, and a chance to equip and attract new 0-level characters. All of them except John took at least one. John had four first-level guys survive from last time, mostly by running away at the last battle, if I recall correctly. Kevin had three new zeroes, and Jason had his 1st level halfling and two zeroes.
I was all ready to get them on the road to Ur-Hadad when it happened. John (for whatever reason) had, in fact, been hooked by the plot hook I left at the tailend of Crypt of the Lizard King. He wanted to know what the hell was down that crack in the bottom chamber of the Crypt. The other players were game, so off they went. I, of course, had planned on running a completely different adventure, but this is life in the sandbox. Right?
Luckily, I already knew what I was planning to run if someone went down into that crack, and I'd already set it up in the "optional" component of that dungeon (which I had not run in the face-to-face setting). They were on their way to the Pod Caverns of The Sinister Shroom. I mean how sinister can a shroom get, anyway? They could handle it, right? Well... yes and no.
They began by lowering one of John's characters into the crevasse. It ended up being close to 100 feet to the bottom, and there was rubble in the bottom which presumably fell during the earthquake. There was also an opening into a larger cavern filled with giant, bioluminescent mushrooms. The rest of the party got lowered, one-by-one into the cavern, followed by the last character, who needed to make a check. It was successful.
Once on the lower level the Elven Sage used a spyglass (with infravision) to confirm that there was, indeed, a wharf on the other side. Much discussion of techniques for crossing the water ensued. The river itself exited the cavern, and presumably you don't want o be swept away by it. So, eventually they cut down a mushroom and one of them tried to cross using it as a wee fungal boat. He also was secured to a safety rope held by the other players. The mushroom coracle capsized, but John's character managed to seize the rope he'd brought with him as he fell in the water. He also discovered that, though swift, the river was only about 5 feet deep. He managed to ford the river and secure the rope to the other side. the rest of the party followed him.
The wharf was carved into the wall of the cavern. It's about 80 feet long and 20 feet wide, with three tunnels leading off from it. The middle one has a stream flowing from it. they chose to follow that one.
I made them map it. This is the first time I've done that with the face-to-face group. John was assigned the task of mapping while Jason took the notes off which I'm cribbing in order to write this post. Thanks, Jason!
The tunnel leads to them to a cavern with two pools, one large and one small, and another tunnel leadign to the northwest. They went to investigate the smaller pool, and behind them a giant frog emerged from the larger pool and attacked the party. It never got another chance. John's four characters did 22 points of damage in the first round of combat and killed the giant frog. They found 5 corroded copper pieces in the pool, and gutted the frog to check its stomach contents. Nothing but blind fish in there.
The party exits through the NW tunnel, and the passage split again, W and N. They went west. The tunnel went another 40 feet, then split again going S and W. They went south to a cavern with a chasm splitting the floor of the room East and West (with a passage visible on the other side). The chasm was 10 feet across, and looked to be very, very deep. The characters could see shelves at irregular intervals and lots of small bones further down the chasm. They dropped a big rock down it. Nothing happened. Instead of trying to cross, they turned back and headed down the W tunnel. There, they found a cave-in. Most of them were smart enough not to fuck with it. No so with John. So, he triggered another collapse, each of his characters took damage, but not a lot. I believe one of Kevin's characters also was wounded. John's cleric did his best, but poor rolling resulted in an ever-expanding disapproval range, and he soon left off with that.
Party left the rubble alone and went N. They found another cavern, this one split-level with a weird red moss growing on a cliff which went up to another level about 20 feet above. The healer makes a lore check against Intelligence, and totally kills the roll. The knows that it's “glue moss” and is incredibly sticky. The healer harvests some to potentially be used to help seal wounds. I ruled that it could add a bonus to healing checks by the cleric.
John's thief tried to climb the wall of moss and got stuck. He is cut down and falls for 2 damage. His cleric heals him. This marked another success. Feeling his oats, he tried (I believe) to heal another character. I can't remember if he was successful or not. They decided not to climb the cliff. Instead they took the passage to the east, which led eventually to what appeared to be alcoves set in the N and S walls. North alcove has leafy pods in it, some with the remains of humanoid-shaped plantlike creatures (They knew right away they were dealing with Pod People. This is a veteran crew.). As the investigated the S alcove they found rotten shelving holding various jars and boxes. After investigating a couple, they found a box with some copper pieces and an ancient gold piece, Elven in origin. The Elven Sage examined it and noticed that the coin's back was imprinted with an image of the Elven trickster god. The cleric cast Detect Magic, and discovered that the coin was magical, as were a few of the other items. The coin is known now to be magical. The blue liquid bottle on the shelf was magical. Earthenware mug on the shelf (shaped like a gargoyle head with a sealed lid) is magical. Metal sphere with small corked hole is magical.
Their pokings about had roused some Rogue Pod Men. I had them roll a Luck check to see if anyone heard them coming. Luckily, they did.
From the Book of Jason:
Sounds from down the corridor. 5 plant type creatures appear (man-sized with large orbs for eyes with pulsing veins that stand out on their foreheads). Initiative is rolled.
Chuck,John's 1st level warrior, has the spear, helm, and armor of the Lizard King. He went on a roll with that bloodthirsty weapon and managed to kill two of them almost immediately. Sadly, three 0-level guys met the same fate. Finally, they dispatched the Pod Men (tough buggers they were, with average hp of 15 or so).
In the end, each and ever zero-level guy had died. Kevin spent the last of the adventure playing John's 1st-level thief. However, they found a LOT of treasure here on the 3 level of the Pod Caverns of The Sinister Shroom, where their search garnered the following:
– 200 silver pieces
– 300 copper pieces
– 2 gems (50 silver, 75 silver)
– 25 gold pieces
That gold is worth a LOT. It was supposed to be platinum, but we're on a silver standard here. Still, it's a ton of money. The current exchange rate is 1000 copper=20 silver=1 gold. Actually this was because I couldn't find my house rules document. Otherwise I would have said it was:
5 cp = 1 sp250 cp = 50 sp = 1 gp2500 cp= 500 sp = 10 gp = 1 pp
Adam runs this differently than I do. I can't remember his exchange rate. I think he makes copper a lot less valuable, but can't remember how much so. In any case, if my players are playing, the exchange rate I'll use is 250/50/1/0.1.
In any case, that's where we ended for the night. All were a bit blown away by the lethality of the location. I reminded them that I hadn't set out to make them go there. Not only that, they actually chose to go there. It's not a safe place to go. To be clear, I never expected that they'd go there at all, having "cleared" the Crypt of the Lizard King, but apparently the siren song of that particular plot hook was too strong to resist. It's okay, though. They got rich as fuck, even if they did take heavy casualties.
As an aside, I have to say that I'm a bit fixated on the nice, round numbers for treasure quantities. Gods damn you, 2000 Copper Pieces Meme! Do these creatures all get their coins in bank rolls?
We're waiting for the Giant Rats to pick these up.