Into the Dungeon of Graves

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

Post by Persimmon »

Yeah; I love Glynn's work and now I have the files forever. I had tried Hexkit and some other options, but didn't like the results. And he was fast too; only took about a week and we corresponded regularly via email for clarifications. Prices were very fair in my opinion and if you choose the color option, you also get the mono ink versions.
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

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Also, by the way, the party explored the wilderness around Zelkor's Ferry and then investigated the Cloister of the Frog God. Their initial wilderness foray was successful in that they wiped out a small band of gnoll raiders and cleared the nearby woodland of a testy worg, an aggressive red bear, and a sinister ogress. Having Ser Uleas' griffon, Silverwing, around was a big plus for them in this part of the adventure. They returned to Zelkor's Ferry for the night and then decided to strike north across the river, heading east in the direction of the cloister.

The marshlands were oppressive, but they met nothing particularly dangerous the first day until they stumbled upon the lair of a froghemoth. Though initially surprised, they dispatched the batrachian monstrosity in short order. Aengus then used his ring of animal control and skills with mammals to persuade a pair of beavers to retrieve treasure from the bottom of the beast's pool.

The next day the group happened upon a huge mound that turned out to be a troll lair. Rather than simply moving on, they chose to go right at the brutes. After Thorkrinn conducted recon, they surprised the monsters, Aengus opening the proceedings with a fireball (luckily enough) from his wand of wonder. Durag cast silence 15' radius on the matriach/shamaness, which limited her severely as she was loath to leave the protective ring of her elite bodyguards in the center of the mound. Ragnar and Ser Uleas quickly set about cutting their way through the common trolls towards the leaders as Thorkrinn and Huang Long provided support, with Akenaton the cleric using a torch to burn the remains of any trolls felled by the martial types. Kyung-Ri's attempt to skewer the matriach with a javelin of lightning missed, so she drew her katana and waded into the fray as well. It turned into quite the battle royale, with trolls coming in from all sides, but the flaming hammer of Flandal Steelskin, ably wielded by the Gnomish Doom Lord Ragnar, cut a swathe through their ranks. Aengus clipped the matriarch with a blast from his mi-go pistol, and Durag managed to neutralize a couple more by means of a hold person spell. The heroes cut and bashed their way into the center of the chamber and managed to slay the bodyguards and the matriarch. Kyung-Ri retrieved her javelin and skewered another troll from afar and with their leaders slain, the rest of the trolls went down pretty fast, though all of the heroes were battered and bloodied from the engagement. They decided against burning the whole mound lest they attract reinforcements, and they forged on through the marsh towards the cloister.

Will provide a summary of their activities in the cloister next.....
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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badams30
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

Post by badams30 »

Thanks for sharing - those maps are MONEY. Nice!

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

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Cloister of the Frog God--Includes Spoilers

The cloister was outwardly as grim as feared, but fortunately not very heavily occupied. Entering literally through the front door, our heroes quickly dispatched an underpriest and his guards. Moving through the complex, they encountered minor undead, dangerous monstrous forms of vegetation, and strange summoned entities that they could not even see. After clearing out the upper levels, they entered the dungeon complex.

The dungeon proved far more dangerous, with several undead monsters and more priests including the obese, vaguely batrachian abbot himself. The party still managed to prevail, but things were a bit tougher. The dungeons also held some eldritch items of service to the frog cult that were destroyed by the party in its righteous indignation, particularly after they were struck on a couple occasions by traps designed to punish non-believers. Moving deeper into the catacombs the party encountered some of the vile tsathar, those grotesque servants of Tsathogga they had faced outside Tegel Manor. They eliminated these abominations with extreme prejudice as was their writ and their wont. A vampire and mummy were also among their victims, the presence of these vile undead revealed by the trusty Staff of Law.

Whenever possible they eradicated taints and symbols of chaos and the frog cult. They eventually worked their way to a secret corner of the catacombs where they found a curious passage promising access to the Dungeon of Graves itself. They decided to briefly rest up and regain their strength then forge ahead.....
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

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Levels 4a--The Upper Caverns & 5b--Aladdin's Lament--Spoilers Ahead

The party entered a large, wet cavern dotted with rat tunnels and filled with debris and rubble. They had barely gotten their bearings when a pair of rust monsters, no doubt attracted by the armor of the warriors in the lead, approached them looking for a snack. They were quickly neutralized via a paralyzation spell from Aengus and dispatched by the iron fists of Huang Long. Searching the cave further, they stumbled upon a nest of cave crawlers, but the vermin were easily dispatched as well. Among a number of possible exits, including stairs leading up, they decided to choose a passage leading to the southwest, avoiding, for the time being at least, a narrow river that split the cavern running from the northeast to the southwest.

However, they soon had to cross this river anyhow. Aengus pulled a ladder from his Robe of Useful Items and aided by Huang Long and his ring of waterwalking, they effected the short crossing easily. But Huang Long's staff then alerted them to the presence of undead and they indeed encountered a wraith, but it was easily turned by the faith of Durag in noble Frigga and her justice. Soon after, more of the pesky rust monsters appeared but the combination of Huang Long's gongfu and Kyung-Ri's archery made short work of the pests.

Another large cavern was the lair of an ooze with undead qualities, but again the veteran group had little trouble with it. Further exploration resulted in them stumbling upon a patch of yellow mold which fortunately did not prove a fatal error. But their further, more careful exploration of the adjoining cavern resulted in them being surprised by a tough band of desperate goblins that included a pair of powerful spellcasters. One of the goblin spellslingers hurled magic missiles at party members. Another tried multiple spells that failed, but created enough of a distraction to allow a goblin assassin to strike Kyung-Ri from behind. Fortunately the agile half-elf escaped with little damage. Other goblins came forth in a more frontal assault. But once the party recovered from their initial surprise and absorbed a series of attacks, they responded ferociously and the humanoids were cut down in short order. The encounter proved quite helpful as the Shadow Dancers acquired a pair of boots of speed and a potion of invisibility, both of which soon became useful.

This area of the caverns having been explored, they headed back north. One cave was filled with all kinds of fungus. An adjacent cave had a perfectly formed dwarf statue that appeared to be carved while the dwarf was preparing to fight. Having long experience with fighting medusae, the party was placed on alert. Thorkrinn drank a potion of invisibility and was sent to investigate the next cave, where he discovered more of the lifelike statues and a trio of basilisks. The party concocted a plan to take out the foul reptiles. Durag cast silence 15' on Kyung-Ri's bow and she and Akenaton and Aengus went forth while the invisible Thorkrinn crept up behind the monsters. When they got close enough, Aengus created an illusion to distract them. Kyung-ri, who had consumed a potion of speed, then unleashed a volley of magic arrows while Akenation held up a mirror to protect her just in case they gazed in her direction. Thorkrinn hurled his hammer from behind, gaining the full advantage of his skills as a thief and infiltrator. The beasts were slain before they knew what hit them. They repeated the tactic in the adjoining chamber where Aengus also blinded a 4th basilisk with a spell. Thus they managed to avert the fate of their predecessors.

Scanning the cave with his gem of true seeing after Huang Long's staff detected undead, Aengus found a secret door, high up the wall. Armed by this foreknowledge, they were not surprised by the vampire and his succubus beyond, though the supernaturally fast vampire managed to sink his fangs into Durag, draining the Dwarf Fighter/Cleric of vital essence and power. He responded in kind, blasting the foul bloodsucker with Frigga's Influence and ending his unholy existence with one mighty swing. The demoness was slain by Ser Uleas, whom she had tried to rain unsuccessfully with her own deadly embrace. The group explored the couple's lair finding a few more things of value. They then decided to use the secret hideout as a resting place, as Durag needed to use his mace to restore his energies and because they had slain most of the inhabitants of the caves already. They encountered only minor vermin such as stirges the next couple days.

After some debate they decided to check out a worked passage heading northeast from the main cavern. This ended in a blank wall, but they penetrated the illusion and finally entered a cavern dominated by a dry fountain. A riddle around its base seemed to promise riches. They decided to check out a southern passage and found a waterlogged room with indecipherable writings and pictures of flaming death on the walls. After setting off a minor spark explosion they returned to the fountain chamber to explore another path.

A smaller tunnel off the main cave led to a secret door that opened into a room covered with mixed sand and gravel that was blue in color. Taking another exit back to the northwest, the lead characters, Ser Uleas, and Ragnar, fell into a deep pit trap. After they were hauled up and healed, the party decided to head back to their original point of entry into Rappan Athuk and take the stairs heading up. This area seemed aught but a series of tricks and traps with little tangible rewards. The band was here to smite evil, not engage in riddle games.....
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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merias
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

Post by merias »

Great reports. Nice use of speed/silence/invisibility by your players, when you come up against some of those higher-level monsters it's pretty unlikely you can survive without such cleverness. I have to take another look at RA - I haven't paid too much attention to it as it's so large, and I only have the PDF. I much prefer physical books when reading anything of that size.

Do you play on roll20 or with some other VTT?

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

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Interestingly, this group has gone through several megadungeons in part and Rappan Athuk may be the best in terms of how it's set up for sessions. The levels are generally small enough (10-20 rooms/encounters) to get through in a single game session, which is great. Barrowmaze is a blast, but once you get into the dungeon proper, the levels are huge. Highfell was also good in that the individual towers aren't too big. Archaia was kind of in-between with some lairs being pretty small and others big.

As for playing, it's basically family members the past few months. My brother, his daughter, and my step-dad all play some. My 3 year old son likes rolling the dice! And sometimes I'll run an NPC or two and occasionally offer tips if they seem too stuck. I've never done any online gaming as I'm not that tech savvy and I prefer to play with people I know well, but I'd be open to trying it sometime. I did a play by post once, but it died out after only a month or so.

Once the vaccine kicks in, I'm thinking of advertising an old school game, either S&W or OSE, at the local gaming store to see if I can drum up interest. I know one guy who has only played 5e but is interested in checking out older/retro systems. I loathe 5e and WoTC so I'll never play it.
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

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Level 3a: Zelkor's Well & Level 4: The Upper Temple of Orcus

The group ascended to a cavern with a pool on one side and an exit to the northeast. But before they could investigate further, they were assailed by surprisingly quick zombies, though the hapless undead curiously had their mouths sewn shut. Making short work of the restless dead, they followed the passage to a strange chamber where four doors floated in the air. Assuming they were magical portals of some kind, Aengus consulted the Tarot of Sichen to determine the course of action. His reading suggested that one of the portals led to one of the temples to Orcus in the complex. Eager to strike a blow against a foe they despised as much as Tsathogga, the party plunged through the portal.

They emerged at the base of a stairway in a hall that pulsated with evil. Before long, a trio of Orcus' acolytes came around a corner. They were easily dispatched by Ragnar and Ser Uleas and they group continued their exploration. They soon encountered and easily defeated a small band of brutish ogres. After negotiating a wet room, they battled still more acolytes in an adjacent cavern. This place had multiple exits but the Staff of Law and the holy intuition of the paladin and the clerics guided them deeper in the complex, seeking the source of evil: the shrine to Orcus. They soon came to a room that apparently served as quarters for the priests though it was unoccupied. Thorkrinn managed to disarm the locks on a number of chests but found nothing of value. They then disabled a magical door trap as they moved towards the heart of evil. The doors to the shrine beyond were also magically warded but the combination of the Staff of Law, the Hammer of Flandal Steelskin, and Huang Long's chime of opening allowed the heroes to breach the doors unscathed.

Beyond was a scene out of the Abyss itself. The room was shaped like a six-pointed star with four staircases rising to a central platform over a bubbling pit of lava. A statue of Orcus overlooked the proceedings. A cackling high priest stood atop the platform with other priests and acolytes guarding the stairs and moving forward. A vulturine demon flew overhead. As soon as the party entered the priest shouted and the vrock came hurtling towards Ragnar & Ser Uleas, covering them in a globe of pure darkness that was dispelled by the power of Ragnar's hammer.

Sizing up his enemies, the high priest recognized the holy garb of Frigga and pointed at Durag, casting a baleful spell that stopped the dwarf's heart instantly. The other priests also invoked the power of their fell demon-god, the acolytes moving forward with glowing hands as the others gestured at various party members. Luckily, all the targets resisted, though Kyun-Ri felt herself stiffening up before her magic amulet allowed her to shake off one priest's spells. Some of the acolytes made it through the party's defenses and both Kyung-Ri and Akenaton received cold burns from the clerics. Meanwhile, Ragnar engaged the vrock, with fury and the two traded blows though the mighty Hammer of Flandal carried the day and the doom lord endured only a few scratches as he sent the beast back to its abyssal home, much to the shock and dismay of the priests. Ser Uleas and Kyung-Ri formed a deadly team, weaving a net of magic steel that cut ribbons in the priests. Aengus unleashed a flashing spray of rainbow colors that knocked several unconscious. Akenaton tried to channel the power of Thoth against the high priest, but the demon's power was too great in his shrine and his spell failed.

Nonetheless, Thorkrinn's hammer smote the high priest with a devastating blow that nearly knocked him from his lofty perch. Aided by his boots of speed, Ragnar kept up his assaults, smashing his way through the under priests. Ser Uleas was equally steadfast, cutting off the right leg of one of the clerics with Grimrazor. Kyung-Ri was equally potent and Huang Long's whirlwind Golden Cloud gongfu dazzled and killed several of the acolytes. Hoping to finish off the high priest, Aengus fired a blast from his mi-go pistol, but it missed. Still, this threw the priest off his casting and his next spell was shrugged off by Akenaton, possibly saving him from a dire fate. This also allowed Thorkrinn to hurl his dwarven thrower again, striking home once more. Badly wounded, the repulsive priest again yelled for help.

The few remaining acolytes inspired by their deity despite the tide of the battle, pushed in closer. Kyung-Ri and Ragnar held them off as Ser Uleas quaffed a potion of speed and headed towards the high priest. At the same time a shadowy figure came flying into the hall from a nnearby chamber and headed straight for Huang Long, sensing the power of the Staff of Law. Though he leaped and parried madly with his staff, the spectre was too quick and its talons raked the monk's arm, sapping his energy. But this opened the creature to the attacks of Kyung-Ri and Akenaton. Even as it spun away from their blows it was smitten by the hammer of Ragnar and its unlife passed from its shell.

Ser Uleas' blinding speed caught the high priest off guard and the paladin hurled him off the platform and into the lava even as more spectres flew into the hall. Akenaton again tried to channel the power of Thoth and failed. But the other party members were up to the task. Ragnar badly wounded two of them, one of these falling to a vicious blow from Kyung-Ri's katana, Megistune. Thorkrinn's hammer did the rest as Akenaton and Aengus slew the last two wounded acolytes. The battle was one, but at heavy cost. Durag was dead and Huang Long was feeling the after effects of the spectre's death touch. Luckily, Akenaton was able to focus and summon the magical power to bring Durag back from the dead. Frigga's Influence, Durag's mace, then helped restore some of Huang Long's vitality.

The party then went about consecrating the shrine and destroying the idol of Orcus, using prayers, holy water and their powerful magic items. Aengus cast an illusion on the shrine doors to fool the surviving denizens of the temple (all the priests having been slain), and the group used an iron door from Aengus' robe of useful items to reinforce them. Drawing upon his experience as an infiltrator, Thorkrinn booby-trapped the door as well. In the meantime, they discovered a set of stairs leading deeper into the dungeon. After resting as long as they could, they decided to descend even though Durag was still recovering from his resurrection. They had completed a key goal in their larger mission. But now the targets on their backs were even bigger....
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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merias
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

Post by merias »

Sounds like a fun session! And the Dwarf killed right at the start by what I assume was a finger of death spell?

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Persimmon
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Re: Into the Dungeon of Graves

Post by Persimmon »

Yep, finger of death and he rolled a 1 on the saving throw. Thankfully, the party has two clerics, both of whom are high enough level to raise dead now. That was a lesson well learned by this group of players, as they had repeatedly lost the only healer in previous parties. In fact, Durag had initially joined as a rescued NPC after the group's original cleric was killed in an avalanche.

On the other hand, they have no regular magic-user, just the gnome illusionist, so there's no one throwing around big damage spells. But the players are clever & creative and there's plenty of muscle so they can melee with just about anything.

In this kind of dungeon as the DM I think the more intelligent foes want to take out the spellcasters, thus limiting the party's power to heal and turn undead. So that's how it played out here.
"Behind closed eyes, realize your sight."--Blue Oyster Cult

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