DF Whiterock Session 29: Swimming With Frogs




Freezing, clear

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 239 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 284 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 277 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 261 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 298 points

Significant NPCs:

Carlia, Human Farmer
Jath, Human Child
Clem, Human Farmer
2 Giant Demon Frogs or Possibly Toads
2 Giant Frog or Possibly Toad Skeletons

We started at Carlia's farm in the hamlet of Grainwand, east of Castle Whiterock, on the other side of the mountains from Cillamar.  The PCs (minus Garreth) had escorted Carlia and Jath there after rescuing them from the demon frogs.  The PCs were concerned about safety of the hamlet, only about 6 miles from the newly discovered stream entrance to the Castle Whiterock.  Zaber asked to talk to whoever was in charge, so Carlia sent Jath to fetch her Uncle Clem.

After some discussion over a meal, Clem agreed to try to keep a watch over Grainwand in case more monsters attacked.  Seépravir decided to magically close the stream entrance to make it harder for raiders to go that way.  Polly thought it made more sense to just kill every evil monster.  The PCs then left to return to the caves, with the farmers' thanks.  Seépravir sealed the stream entrance with some Shape Earth spells.  Polly and Zaber looked for more monsters to kill in the area, but didn't find any.  They grabbed some scant leftover treasure from the last visit (the heads of 3 Miner Stonebore Ants, and a couple of spears with a maker's mark that indicated they probably weren't made by troglodytes) and went back to Cillamar to get Garreth.

Garreth had spent some time in jail for allegedly being drunk and disorderly in public, though he maintained his innocence.  Lady Chauntessa had used her influence to get him out.  So when the others returned to town, he was in a foul mood and wanted to go back to the dungeon and kill stuff.  The others agreed, but Seépravir first wanted a bit of time to do some research about the secret Sleep of Ages spell in the Hall of Worms.  She didn't find anything.

The group hiked back to the castle again, and resumed searching the troglodyte and ant level.  Scouting ahead, Zaber and Polly found an underground stream, leading in an unknown direction.  They went back to get their friends, and Zaber asked Seépravir to lend him the Ring of Water Breathing and cast a Warmth spell on him.  (Swimming in winter is no fun without one.)  She agreed, and also cast Invisibility and Mage-Stealth.  Zaber left his best knife and lockpicks behind to avoid getting them wet, then swam down the tunnel.  About 10 yards in, he heard some splashes, then saw a couple of giant frogs or maybe toads swimming toward him.  He decided to flatten himself against the side of the tunnel and hope to out-stealth them, since there was no way he could out-swim them.  This worked; the frogs never noticed him, continued to the end of the tunnel, and hopped out of the water.

Fortunately for the frogs, they gained surprise.  Unfortunately for the frogs, they were outmatched.  Polly got bit a little, but her armor reduced the damage.  Then all the PCs made their rolls to recover from mental stun, and it was a 4-on-2 battle.  Garreth chopped up frogs, Polly shot arrows at frogs, and Elias was annoyed that the frogs were down before he had a chance to flail them.  By the time Zaber came out of the water to help, the battle was over, so he told his friends (who couldn't see him) that he was okay, then swam back into the tunnel again.

This time, he made it to the end of the tunnel and emerged into a dry room.  It contained some mosaics featuring a giant frog-toad-demon thing smashing Cillamar, a big water-filled pool, a big mostly-dry pit, an iron door, and a couple of giant frog (or possibly toad) skeletons.  Zaber watched the skeletons for a while, and thought he saw one of them move.  He snuck past them, and tried to pick the lock on the iron door with his backup lockpicks, but failed.  He then snuck back to confer with the others.

With 5 PCs and only one Ring of Water Breathing, everyone else was going to have to hold their breath and swim fast.  Not wanting them damaged by water, Polly and Elias left their bow and crossbow behind.  Seépravir cast Warmth and Dark Vision on everyone who didn't already have them, and then the group went down the tunnel together, with Garreth shepherding Elias (in case he had problems climbing up the steep slippery far side) and Seépravir bringing up the rear, ready to cast Levitation on anyone who passed out.

Everyone made it in reasonable shape, but the frog skeletons saw them coming, and moved to attack.  Fortunately for the skeletons, Polly didn't have her bow.  Unfortunately for the skeletons, this time it was 5 vs. 2.  Elias's Flaming Flail had somehow remained Flaming all the way through the swim.  He shield bashed a frog skeleton to the ground, then flailed it to re-death, while it chewed on Polly a bit, temporarily reducing her HT.  Meanwhile Garreth hit the other one hard with his katana, knocking it into the pool.  Zaber, probably foolishly, decided to jump in after it and backstab.  This didn't do quite enough damage to finish it, and now Zaber was underwater and visible, facing an opponent that didn't need to breathe.  Fortunately, the pool was shallow enough that Garreth could hit the skeleton frog from the shore with his katana, and the reduced hit chance and damage from swinging into water weren't enough to keep him from re-killing it.

Everyone did some searching, but then Polly got antsy away from her bow, and decided to swim back to it.  Garreth followed her to keep her from being alone.  Elias had noticed that the room had reduced sanctity, possibly due to the unholy frog demon mosaics, and did some extensive destruction with his Flaming Flail.  (It possibly made him feel better, but didn't fix the sanctity level.)  Zaber did some more searching, and managed to pick the lock on the iron door with his fine lockpicks.  But then Zaber and Elias and Seépravir decided to swim back and join the others, rather than opening the door without their friends.

With Polly not wanting to go into the water again without her bow, the group decided to take a sloping passage down to a new level.  Unfortunately, technical difficulties ensued with the next level's map.  Roll20 had lost my last set of changes, including all the line of sight blockers, so the players could see through walls.  Polly let me know, and I moved everyone back upstairs and announced we had to stop early, since there was only an hour left in the session and it would take me most of that to fix the map.  Someone suggested that they instead go back to Cillamar and try to buy some oilskins to protect bows from water.  Everyone agreed that made sense, so everyone hiked to Cillamar again.  They made their availability roll and were able to find some expensive, weapons-grade oilskins.  Polly and Garreth each bought some, and then everyone walked back to the castle again.  (This session set a new record for Hiking rolls, though the last couple weren't really needed since I was secretly skipping the wandering monster rolls that the Hiking rolls influence, due to the extra trip being needed only because of technical difficulties.)

The group went down the underwater tunnel again, this time with Polly's bow and Garreth's katana waterproofed, and with Seépravir rather than Zaber having the Ring of Water Breathing.  Everyone made it across okay, and then weapons were unpacked, and the iron door opened.  It opened to a vestibule, containing some rotten robes and rotten whips and another iron door.  Elias thought the robes and whips looked unholy, and wanted to burn everything.  Seépravir pointed out that burning needed to wait until after searching for treasure, but nobody found any.  Zaber picked the lock on the second door, which was easier than the first one.

The door opened into a chamber featuring a lot of rubble on one end, and a shallow pool with an evil-looking frog statue and a couple of low pedestals on the other end.  The sanctity level was even lower here, feeling to Elias like an evil place.  Garreth eventually decided to approach the statue.  Predictably, it was trapped.  Three different supernatural traps went off.  Somehow, he dodged two of them and resisted the other, and was not affected.  He knocked the statue over into the water, then went looking at the pedestals.  There was dried blood on the walls behind both of them, and an old article of clothing (identified by Elias as a tabard of Justicia) and a reed doll behind one of them.  Garreth looked around for a while, then borrowed Elias's flail to bash the statue some more.  The traps had apparently reset, and he had to dodge two and resist a third, again.  He made all three rolls, again, and then spent a couple of minutes reducing the statue to rubble.

Zaber searched all around the pool, but didn't find anything else.  Polly also searched all around, and found a secret door that Zaber had somehow missed.  (It was really well hidden, and he rolled a 17.)  Nobody could figure out how to open the door (and Zaber insisted that was because it wasn't a door just a normal crack in the wall), until Seépravir cast See Secrets on Polly.  This let her see the three catches that were used to open the door.  Three PCs each moved a catch in unison, the secret door swung open, and we were out of time.

I revealed that something nasty and undead was behind the door, that they didn't have time to fight it, and we would start next session with the combat.  So, tune in next time to see what's trying to kill them.

GM's Comments:

Most of our game sessions start and end in Cillamar, usually with about 30 minutes in town, then a hike to the dungeon, then 3.5 hours of dungeon, and finishing with an offscreen hike back at the end.   (The players have figured out that I don't roll for wandering monsters on the way back to town if we're out of time.)  This one was a little different due to extra roleplaying time in Grainwand, then extra travel, first from the hamlet of Grainwand back to Cillamar to get Garreth, and then another trip to Cillamar to buy oilskins.  There was also quite a bit of messing around underwater.  So this session was a bit light on combat and a lot light on treasure, though the PCs still made good progress.

I had spent a bunch of time in Roll20 mapping the next level down and placing monsters, and apparently the last bit of that work was totally lost.  Implicit save means you never really know if your save happened, unless you exit all the way out and recheck from scratch, and I forgot to.  I was mildly annoyed to lose about half an hour of work, and super-annoyed that I didn't discover it until during play.  But the suggestion to go get oilskins and re-try the area at the far side of the underwater tunnel worked out, so the technical difficulties didn't really cost us much play time.

Seépravir's decision to cast Invisibility on Zaber before he went down the underwater tunnel alone probably saved his life.  On land, those two frogs were not much of a match for the other four PCs.  But in the water, against just Zaber?  He probably would have been eaten.  But the combination of Invisibility, Mage-Stealth, a good Stealth roll versus the frog's Perception (even if they couldn't see or hear him, they still got a chance to smell him), and his wise decision to hide rather than backstab as they went by meant he was totally fine.  Splitting the party is always scary.

I asked the group twice when they were in town if they needed to do anything with any items, and they still forgot about the jade drum they found last time, until after they were back in the dungeon and it was too late.  (Well, they could have taken another trip back to town, but there was enough hiking in this session already.)  They've been carrying around jade harp strings forever, but didn't bother to make them into a harp before, because they didn't have the drum.  It's often sound economics to postpone expenses as long as possible, but it can also make sense to do things when you remember, because you might forget later.


DF Whiterock Session 49: Trollicide

Date: 2019-05-17 Weather: Cool, partly cloudy Player Characters: Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 365 points Elias (Wiggles)...