In my Telengard campaign I planned to have two distinct locales and one sublevel attached to the rather small Level 2 of Telengard. As events unfolded I decided a second sublevel is really called for, and it dovetailed nicely with a side project I’d been thinking about putting together as a OPD anyway. I’ve shown a rough draft to another blogger (Scottsz) and he gave me some great ideas for further development and polish, as well as encouragement to consider submitting it for publication after commissioning a decently drawn map. I might try to get it published in one of the free e-zines like Encounter, if I ever get it finished, and/or running it at a convention…there are two within a few miles of me that I’ve never attended.
So anyway the last 2 hours or so of session 14 were both a playtest of the “module” and the partial completion of a mission the players had been half-heartedly pursuing between treasure-hunting, real estate dealings, ghostbusting, etc.
What follows are many “spoilers” for anyone interested in delving into the Belly of the Beast, which I am going to submit as a OPD entry and later expand into a fuller mini-module (heck, it may one day appear in a compilation of all the original dungeons and campaign material, Mount Telengard…)
When I left off last time they went through the portal and found themselves on mountainside with cave that appeared to have the visage of a demon carved on it. The opening had stalactites and stalagmites like a row of teeth, and humid breeze blew out of the tunnel. When they entered they noticed that the tunnel split, and John quipped that they’d found the epiglottis. (Shit! I was hoping the whole ‘living dungeon’ theme would take longer to be recognized.) They traveled down into a room where the walls, ceilings, and floor were covered with red lichen or moss, and once inside they were sprayed with acid, leading them to retreat hastily. Then the “teeth” at the cave mouth crashed together, locking them inside. With nowhere to go but deeper, they chose to try the other fork of the passage, and found two chambers of porous, damp rock. The one on the right was freezing cold inside, and partly divided by a pillar. Behind the pillar they found a large sack , and when they began to investigate it, a great manta-like beast dropped on the party from above, trapping Zorro and Matrim within it’s folds. Theparty hacked them out, and retreated from the room, badly frostbitten. They then tried using the Lurker Above’s hide as a tarp to re-enter the acid-spraying chamber, as it had a opening leading to another tunnel visible, but the room began to fill with blood when they tried to burn off the acid-spraying moss. The party then investigated the second “lung” which was not nearly so cold and housed only a few roosting Robber Bats, which they killed with extreme prejudice. In this room they noticed a sphincter-like opening that led into a dark, wet tunnel that was ankle-deep with blood and crawling with full-grown larva, including one resembling the late Carlos the Cleric! These were slain and the party found that the tunnel led to a series of small, interconnected rooms that were knee-deep in near-boiling hot blood. The dwarf rather cleverly avoided getting parboiled by soaking up stomache-blood with his bed roll, freezing it in the cold lung, and using the icy blanket as a buffer agaisnt the boiling blood. Disgusting but effective. From the “heart” they followed a another tunnel to a large chamber of coral-like rock..the brain. A horrid, purple hag was there, and demanded five live larvae or else she’d slay a party member. The party attempted to fight her, but lacking +3 weapons, and not trying silver, they could not hurt her. She turned ethereal and laughed.
Grumble the dwarf decided to hack through to the next room, as a sphincter on one wall suggested another chamber must lie beyond. (I should note that the dwarf has been hacking through many of the ‘doors’ without checking if they were stuck or anything…which in this case worked out pretty well). The night hag screeched, “Stop! You’re killing it!” — rather foolishly spilling the beans that the Beast could be killed by hacking away inside the brain. But hey, the Beast is her meal ticket, as astute readers will know that the Monster Manual explained a fairly involved economy of larva, which the Night Hags use to secure their dominion over Hades. So the Night Hag began lettting loose with her big guns — rays of enfeeblement, 2d8 magic missiles, and so on. The party fled into the next room, a dark area filled with shifting fog and echoing laughter and whispers. This was the subconscious of the Beast. An Ariel Servant patrolled the room, ordered to let none leave. Somehow the dice were not him that night and he never manages to hit anyone, so really the party was barely aware of his presence. The dwarf plunged on into the next area of the brain, a small room illuminated with an eerie red glow: the animal brain or cerebellum. He went through, unmolested, but pretty much every other PC who entered failed their saves and became enraged beyond words or thought. Under the influence of the raging animal brain, the party members attacked each other, or wandered aimlessly (poor Matrim the Fighter, being enfeebled by a spell and walking on a peg-leg after last session, moved only 5′ per round). At length the party broke free of the spell, and fortunately the Night Hag did not pursue them. From the animal brain they found a slippery slide tunnel running hundreds of feet down. The dwarf managed to stop himself from sliding and set up some spikes and ropes to catch the rest of the party. In the spinal slide the party regrouped and went back to destroy the walls of the animal brain, which killed the Beast! (I’m leaving out a lot of stuff, because although we had a good time and laughed a lot by the end I was dead tired and I forget a lot of details.
We normally start playing about 7:15 or so, which is little later than when there were just four players. I understand people like to talk, catch up, argue about politics and religion, etc. before the game and it give mes time to prepare anyway, since I am home from work at 6 at the earliest anyway. But — this doesn’t give us a lot of time to actually play, since people often start fading around 10 or 10:30 (my normal bedtime). Last time we played until 11:15 or so, as I hate to stop inside a dungeon, and the party really needs to be somewhere relatively safe. They made it out, and I hand waved the remaining keyed monsters, none of which were as deadly as the night hag because the wander monsters and hazards depend on the Beast being alive. There was a ton of treasure they missed, and I guess I was feeling generous so I let them roll against me to get 1/2 of one of the hoards, just to get the session over with. (In hindsight I am a little flattered that they wanted to keep going so late — there have been times when John asking “Are we done”?” at 9:30!) They got it, and it make me feel a lot better better about screwing them out of the next treasure. 🙂
So, over the weekend I plan to finish editing the key to the map and possibly redraw the map so it will fit in small area — I’m afraid my OPD will have an uncommonly small map, to fit my verbose key and tables (random events, monsters, and hazards). The OPD rules specify that no game stats should be in the dungeon either, so I’ll need to cut out a lot of incidental things, and although there are over 20 rooms and three charts, it should all fit onto on sheet. I will post it whenever it is done enough to enter, and then post the design notes (and work in any feedback I get), and finally restore it to the digest sized module I originally planned in another post! So there’s plenty of work to keep me busy.