Session 12, Part 1

 By Shamus Dec 19, 2006 14 comments
Here we are at a pivotal session in the campaign. We played for five hours, and the notes I have cover less than a paragraph. Sigh. I REALLY wish I had the audio of these sessions.

For a refresher, I strongly suggest you read Part III of the Book of Norvus. The history in that book is a big part of this session.

The party awakens in the Mages archives. They spend some time going through the library, and find some books of use. They learn the location of the shaft dug by the dwarves who imprisoned Fiore. They decide this is an interesting find. The site is less than a day from here. It is finally decided that they will go there in search of clues.

They want to be able to get back into the archives without breaking in again, so they leave Garret and Endo behind. The party sets out for the mountain.

They head due north for most of the day, and then turn west and travel along the base of the southern cliff. They are looking for the clues and signs that indicate the entrance to the prison of fiore. Night comes and they are obliged to stop, or risk blundering by the entrance in the dark.

Morning comes and they begin again. At mid-day Thordek finds some subtle hints, some indications of long-past excavations. Moving on, he spots more such signs, which leads them to a heap of loose rocks – nearly gravel – piled against the side of the mountain. Into the cliff face they can see the faded carving of a number of Dwarven runes. Thordek can’t make any sense of them, until Skeeve points out that they are only seeing half of the runes, the bottom half of the letters is hidden beneath the dusty rocks. They clear away the rocks and sort out what the runes say. Skeeve reads them. Nothing happens.

Thordek reads them, and there is a rumbling sound. A semicircle crevice appears over the heap of rocks.

Then they realize that what they have been looking at is a round door built into the face of the cliff with the opening words carved into the center. The rocks were piled here, or fell from the face of the mountain, and covered the lower half of the door.

The door is no longer working right, most likely due to the debris stacks against it. It cracks, then splits, then tumbles inward.

Behind the door is a tunnel, reaching into the heart of the mountain. Thordek examines the tunnel work and observes that this was not a proper Dwarven mining tunnel. This was dug carelessly and in great haste. The work is rough and ugly to his eyes. They venture inward. Enoch leads, holding his enchanted mace above his head to provide them with a steady white light.

The tunnel branches off from time to time. Some tunnels are partly flooded, which makes progress problematic.

Let’s skip the maze. The upshot here was that the tunnel would often fork off. The players eventually figure out that the Dwarves who dug this were trying to dig in a straight line, but were sometimes thwarted by rotten rock, flooding, and cave-ins, and were thus obliged to back up and route around the bad spot.

In the end, they realized that when they came to a fork they should take the branching path, and not the one directly ahead.

There were also some critters in here to fight. Can you believe I can’t remember what they were?

The tunnel continues forward and slightly downwards for what seems like miles. At last they come to an open chamber, illuminated with a faint green glow. In the center of the room is a steel box of obvious Dwarven make, and a little smaller than the height of a Dwarf. Skeeve can see that the box is bathed in magic.

Even here, deep in the sunless underground, the floor is thick with soft grass. Vines climb up the walls of the chamber. The pools of water in the room have lillypads floating in them.

Around the room is a not insignificant haul of treasure. Dwarven weapons and armor, slightly worn and tarnished by their long years in this cave, are in neat stacks around the room. Thordek notes a shirt of fine chain spread out on the floor. A shield rests neatly atop of it, and a hammer is laid accross its breast. These stacks are not heaped here without purpose. These are most likely memorials to the Dwarves who perished in the making of this tunnel.

There are also heaps of other treasure in the room. There are very old gold coins here, minted by some long-dead kingdom. There are also rough bits of (they assume) valuable ore or rough gems, most likely broken loose and piled here in this chamber. It is unclear why the Dwarves, who waged such war for control of the mountain and its riches, would then leave so much behind.

This was never explained to the players, but the idea is that Fiore put a curse on the treasure of the mountain. The Dwarves were brave in the face of this, but also wanted to dodge their punishment if they could. They sort of hoped that the curse would only apply to the stuff in this room where the curse was imposed, and that by leaving this stuff behind they would then be free to loot the rest of the mountain with impunity.

Obviously that didn’t work.

Eomer warns everyone not to touch the treasure.

They played this through in-character. It was funny to dangle all this loot in front of them and to see if they would bite.

The way the curse works is to change your perceptions of other people who also have taken from the mountain. It makes you jealous and distrusting of them. In time this leads to hatred and paranoia. Now, I can’t impose that sort of business onto the characters. If they had lifted the treasure, I couldn’t MAKE them hate each other or the various NPCs in the game. The players understood that the curse bred conflict between people who took the riches of the mountain, but they also understood in a metagame sense that this sort of thing couldn’t apply to them.

One of my brothers asked me point-blank at one point, “so what would happen if we took some of it?” Of course, I couldn’t give that away just yet, but I can explain it now:

If they had taken the treasure, then the other NPCs would begin to hate them. They would take a huge (probably insurmountable) penalty to diplomacy and other charisma-based interactions. Bluffing would be impossible and people would imagine them to be liars even when they were being truthful. This is particularly true of the leaders they would meet. The more powerful an individual was, the more he would hate our heroes.

I have to hand it to the players. They didn’t know what (if any) consequences there would be, but they didn’t touch the treasure when they saw it. There was a lot of stuff here, and they could have made themselves rich if they had taken the time to haul it all out.

Enoch lowers his mace and the white light winks out.

The box is covered in many cruel Dwarven runes, which seem to be giving off the light they are seeing. It is sealed shut and wrapped in many chains and locks. The runes are magical, but neither Skeeve or Thordek can make any sense of them. Whatever magic was used in the making of this thing, it is well beyond any of them.

They gather around the box in the dim green light of the cave. So what now?

Then they hear a whisper. The voice sends chills through them. It is a feminine voice, barely audible, coming from the box. It is the voice of Fiore.

Continued in Part 2…
1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)


  1. fair_n_hite_451 says:

    oh argh. Now I’m going to have to wait until after Xmas to pick up the tale.

    Excellent work Shamus, you make your campaign come to life in a way I only ever aspired to.

  2. Rask says:

    I love how everything has a reason for being the way it is, from the design of the mage’s tower to the branches of the dwarven mine. It really fleshes out this world.

  3. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Yah! he is good at that sorta thing Rask. But for the love of god stop stroking his ego.
    Oh and Shamus I believe we fought rock worms.

  4. Autumn says:

    That is a great idea for the curse, I like it a great deal. It is so hard to come up with things that will affect PCs, because they so often simply shrug this stuff off.

  5. MH says:

    While you might not have audio recordings, don’t you have your DM design notes handy? Those should at least say what XP piƱat… I mean monsters you put in the PCs’ paths.

  6. Cheesemaster says:

    The idea of the curse of the gold in this mountain – especially as you described it just then – kinda reminds me of the curse placed on Mat in the first Wheel of Time book by Robert Jordan (Eye of the World) when he takes the dagger from the ruins in Shadar Logoth, have you read it Shamus?

    @MH: XP pinatas, bwaahaha, that’s great.

  7. GNOME says:

    READ IT, TRUST ME

  8. Typo: “fiore”, not capitalized, third paragraph.

  9. Lord of Kobolds says:

    GAAAA!
    Stop looking for typoes!!!!!
    AAAAARGH!

  10. Tacoma says:

    I’m reasonably sure “typos” shouldn’t have an “e”. And I suspect you should have added an “H” at the end of “GAAAA!”

  11. Trae says:

    The first two Wheel of Time books were good, the third was alright until about the middle, I believe, where it started getting odd, and I only got a few chapters in the 4th book before I had to stop. I couldn’t stand certain people in the book and refused to continue reading.

  12. Dimas says:

    What if they were to break the curse and then remove all the treasure in this place? If the curse were broken then they would suffer no penalties and would become quite wealthy by your description. Did they never think to attempt this? It’s basically the PC’s responsibility to circumvent the DM’s attempts to screw with them and then laugh when they achieve victory. I’ve all too often seen people not think that far into campaigns and it leaves a lot of questions.

  13. pate of the spear says:

    Next person who talks about a friggin I’m gonna smack through the internet

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