Along with the usual 'noise' that we get with attendance (people having to work Sunday shifts, or their partners having to do so leading to childcare issues), it was the Easter Holidays, and also the National Student Gaming Championships being held this year in Glasgow. As a result, we were quite a few of or usual participants down this session. In the end, the PCs that made their way down to the caves this time around were:
Bonjella the 1st Level Elf
Cnut the 2nd Level Fighter
Gibbet the 3rd Level Thief
Karensa the 2nd Level Elf
The first thing that it was necessary for me to do was to explain to Bonjella, Cnut and Gibbet that the last 'day' of gaming, because the party at the last session had done a lot of visiting and resting, had taken much longer than a day, and there was now a 'calendar drift' - far from session 21 being also day 21, as session 20 had taken days 20 (exploring), 21 (resting), 22 (exploring), 23 (resting), 24 (resting) and 25 (exploring), session 21 was actually taking place on day 26. So everyone staying at the Inn owed another week's board and lodging.
Adopting a marching order of Karensa-Cnut-Gibbet-Bonjella, the party decided to throw current policy to the wind and go back to one of the partly-explored caves that they'd visited earlier - the cave entrance where they suspected that Ulfang the Black, bandit-king of the Kobolds, might be hiding (as they'd obtained a map with 'kobs' marked on it which they thought probably meant 'Kobolds').
|Copy of the map from Ningal the Magic User|
Anyway, they did find their way through in something like this fashion, where the blue dashed line is the outward (inward?) journey and the green line the way back.
First they explored the cave to the east, just inside the entrance, to see that it didn't actually join up, but they confirmed that it was indeed a dead end. And it contained a slime, which the PCs attacked with arrows and, finding that that didn't work, with torches.
Beyond that point they ran into some Giant Bees. The PCs attacked them with missile weapons so convincingly that there were no bits left for Bonjella to harvest.
Shortly after that the party came to a cave where a stone statue stood (marked with an asterisk on the map); graffiti on the wall claimed that it was an adventurer slain by a basilisk; there was also a small imp-like creature that was hiding from them. Quashing the urge to kill it, Bonjella gave it some food but it still wouldn't come out of hiding, so the party moved on, as it seemed it wasn't planning on doing them any harm.
Coming to the large cave at the bottom of the map the PCs noticed a large hole in the ceiling. They'd spotted this before, and some debate was had as to whether or not they'd actually exited from it before. If so, it was ages ago, they haven't been this way for about 6 months, and I don't actually remember.
Pushing on, they tended round to the left in a north-easterly direction, and found themselves in a cave where they were attacked by a Harpy. Originally this was just a randomly-occurring monster, but as the party had dealings with a gaggle of Harpies a few months ago (probably, in game terms, about 11 days previously), there was no reason not to make this the one Harpy that actually escaped, and was therefore out for revenge. But the PCs managed to deal with it before anything too untoward happened.
The Harpy's cave, on Ningal's map, had a passageway off to the east marked 't'. There were many suggestions as to what 't' might mean, but Gibbet did check for traps - and realised that the exit was indeed trapped. This lead to one of those sentences that you have to suspect no-one else has ever said: "we throw the dead Harpy on the pressure-plate".
With the trap disabled, the party scooted through and found themselves in the next cave, where the was an 'f' marked on the map. This, it turned out, was a fountain, carved with tormented faces, with the water pouring out of their mouths, noses and eyes. Also, there was a bunch of skeletons.
Tooled up as they are with Sleep spells, and also adventuring without a Cleric, this left them with few options other than combat, but even 6 skeletons are going to find it tough going against opponents mostly wearing plate. Having smashed them up good, a quick scout around produced a treasure chest with some loot in it, which wasn't trapped; so the party pocketed the treasure and left the chest behind.
Moving past the Skeletons, they came to the area marked 'kobs' on the map - and lo and behold, 19 Kobolds were there to great them, and one of them, larger than the others, was indeed black! Ulfang had at last been located, and here the Sleep spells came into their own. 16 of the 19 were immediately downed as the other three, including Ulfang, charged the party. Even a super-tough Kobold chieftain with two of his tougher-than-average guards is no match for a tooled-up dungeon-party however, and in very short order, Ulfang and his entourage were all dead and the head of the miscreant had been stuffed into Bonjella's sack, to claim a reward back in town.
If they could get back to town...
The first bump on the way back was a small pack of giant Driver Ants. Only four of them but that proved a more dangerous proposition than a gang of Kobolds. Gibbet in particular took a chewing, as he had the worst armour, and it was touch-and-go for a moment; but the Ants were defeated, and Gibbet begged a Healing potion from Karensa, restoring at least some health. Good thing too, because more encounters were to come.
Next up was another group of skeletons; there were seven of these, but in fact were not really any more difficult than the first lot. The party is pretty difficult to hit (except Gibbet and he was definitely keeping out of the way).
Eventually they made it back to the place where the roof had collapsed, planning to climb out - but they discovered that an angry boar had fallen in, and stood between them and safety. Now boars are dangerous beasts and this one certainly proved to be so, taking a lot of effort to kill, but fall it eventually did allowing the PCs to scramble out and make their battered way back to town to divide the loot and claim the reward for doing away with Ulfang the Black.