May 13, 2016

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A Cold Day In Hell

When we last left our party, they were gathered at the mouth of an ice cavern debating whether or not to storm the cave and slaughter the kobold workers therein, or just keep on searching the interior of the berg for Maccath the Crimson.

The bard — occasional wearer of the kobold costume and card carrying member of the Kobold Anti-Defamation League — strongly advocated for leaving the kobolds alone. Most everyone else wanted to reduce them to subatomic particles, especially the ranger since it’d been at least 12 hours since he’d finished off anything larger than a 64oz wineskin. So the party swept into the cave, using the icy fog to their advantage, picking off groups of kobolds as they went. In the end, one of the creatures was spared, and told the party that the lair of the dragon they were seeking was in the caves one level down, which could be accessed via a shaft in a room off the circular hallway.

The party progressed around this circular hallway until they reached a similarly large cavern, also filled with fog. Carefully, they stealthed their way into the room to find several other trophies of the dragon. There were several massive creatures that the party could not identify, although the enormous giant squid frozen to the southern wall was pretty obvious. What was not obvious was how a fully intact ship made its way into the center of an iceberg. Although its origins were undetermined, this ship seemed old but seaworthy, and that wasn’t even the best part: on the foredeck was a yawning chest full of gold and jewels, estimated to be worth anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 gold in total. After poking around the chest to determine the value, the party opted to leave it where it sat, partly because no one could carry that much loot, and partly because no one wanted to mess with a dragon’s hoard while the dragon was still out and about.

Further investigation along the main hallway eventually lead the explorers to a room that fit the kobold’s description: small-ish, with a 15×15 foot pit in the center. The pit was ringed by two semi-circular platforms on either side that provided the only means of getting from one side of the room to the other without, you know, falling the 60 feet to the bottom of this pit. Suspended in the ice above the pit was a large iron hook.

The party investigated the pit, and the ranger traversed the room along the southern boardwalk, followed by the monk, and then the bard. Unfortunately for the bard, the immediate traffic had weakened the supports that kept the boardwalk suspended above the pit, and a huge chunk of ice was torn from the wall. It tumbled across the bridge, knocking the bard over the edge and into the pit where she fell the 60 feet into another cavern below. As the party scrambled to rig up some ropes to retrieve their compatriot, the bard examined her surroundings. This new cavern was larger than any of the others they had encountered. The ice was much more pristine, almost glowing with the reflection from the various lanterns hung on massive ice pillars that supported the ceiling. Platforms of differing heights dotted the room, and the bard herself was on a dais a good 16 feet above the cavern floor. No sign of the dragon, though, so the bard allowed herself to be extracted by the party.

A connecting room turned out to be a storage cave, filled with frozen food (fish, walrus, etc), furs and skins, random piles of junk, and a pile of rope, pulleys, and winches that looked to be a good fit for the iron hook in the previous room.

Beyond that, the party heard coughing. Human coughing. Upon investigation, it was learned that the source of the noise was an Ice Hunter who had been sent into the caverns through shaft in that room’s ceiling. He was interred in this cave due to a crippling disease which he said was the village’s way of quarantining those who are contagious until they either improved, or died of their condition. The waladin attempted a Cure Disease which seemed to work wonders, although the man was still weak from his time in isolation.

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A good, straightforward session. A lot was done, although at the same time it doesn’t feel like a lot was done.

The group spent a good amount of time debating whether or not to kill the kobolds. On one hand, the kobolds weren’t aware of the party’s presence. On the other hand, the primal urge to kill em all and let Torm sort them out was pretty strong. In the end, the majority agreed that Torm needed some busy work. The fog worked in the party’s favor, and since the kobolds were set apart in groups, it was easy to tear through their ranks without alerting the other groups. Two kobolds fled deeper into the cave once they figured was was going on; one was killed, but the other was found cowering behind a frozen giant. The druid didn’t want any more killing, and the kobold was interrogated by the bard. This was a shrewd move, I think, since the kobold could provide some indirect-direct information on where the party should be looking, theoretically reducing the amount of time the group spent searching the caves.

The pit room was a bit of a conundrum, since the battle map didn’t reflect the the room’s description. The pit was shown, but the two arcing bridges on either side of the pit were not. This was when I wished Fantasy Grounds had a more robust map-markup system. I also continue to wish the player battle maps weren’t so damn large that they slow down the entire application whenever I try and draw on them. Everyone seemed really interested in the southern bridge, which happened to be the officially unstable bridge. Everyone who passed over that path had to make a roll, and while the first to party members got over without incident, I would have thought the requests to roll would have caused the rest of the group to think twice about following in their footsteps.

At the end of the night, not a hell of a lot was accomplished aside from exploring a few caves, but I guess that’s part of the game. I was continuously rolling on the random encounter table as the module required, but the conditions for an encounter are so narrow that I was concerned that the party was getting of a bit too easy. Still, this is technically the first mission of the module, and even though the party is close to the decade-level mark, more encounters aren’t necessarily better encounters. Plus, there’s a dragon somewhere in here; best they not waste their strength fighting minions.

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