Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Castle Mordha, the 13th Age, sessions 1-2 synopsis

I'm going to bullet point key events to make sure things are clear
  • Backtracking the trail of the bandits led to finding one bandit dead in the jungle. Birch & Danyah's forensic analysis identified that the bandit had been fleeing back along the trail, away from where the party presumed the rest of the bandits were, and that he had been killed by two wounds that carried poison. Inside one wound Danyah found a pointed tube that likely carried the poison. Trap? Plant defense? In any event Autumn takes the bandit's tabard for later use.
  • The Bandit camp was abandoned, with te valuables gone but the sailcloth tents intact. Birch was able to find the entry into an underground complex nearby, with evidence that the bandits moved inside the complex. The party followed.
  • Inside the first chamber had four possible exits - the path ahead into a bat filled cave, the one west which is blocked by a swollen wooden door, the one east which tracks indicate the bandits took, and the one down into a spike filled pit that nearly did Aimes an injury save that the pit was already occupied by a bandit corpse. The trap has to be manually reset, which means someone came through and reset the trap after the bandit's death. But who? Perhaps the gnome who left his maker's mark inside it? 
  • The party heads east, and learns that the walls of the complex swallow sound - good in that it keeps their motion quiet, bad in that it keeps them from hearing others approach. The long passage opens to a room holding piles of bandit goods (including a mule), the entry to a stripped armory, a tapestry that shows exactly what is happening right outside the cave complex, and a passage south that is blocked by a portcullis. Two levers in the room are found to control the portcullis rising and locking, and steps are taken to keep it from locking behind them as they go deeper into the complex. 
  • Just on the far side of the portcullis is a blood puddle and an abandoned short sword. The portcullis falls behind them when they step on a hidden trigger, but their rigging of it earlier allows some to slip through and manipulate it again. This time they take extra steps to really really block it, and then head in. 
  • An encounter with the bandits reveals that they are predominantly human, panicked at being locked in, and are being picked off by some unseen enemy. Birch learns this by approaching wearing the recovered tabard, but before he can learn more the bandits see through the deception and leap to the conclusion that Birch killed the man on watch at the gate and is trying to shape shift into his form. The battle is close and bloody, with the PCs unable to take any prisoners.
  • This part of the complex appears to be a mercenary barracks. 
  • Autumn, Kale and Levi investigate the blood puddle back at the portcullis, and eventually find the entry to a hypocaust network under the floor, locked from the inside. The only party member of the right size to investigate is Selwyn the gnome wizard, who is unwilling to do so. 
  • The next room reveals a) a chandelier emitting a bright blue light b) one arm of the chandelier broken off in the floor and c) an orcish body, badly burned, under a tarp in the corner. 
  • The room past that holds a small group of orcish bandits, any one stronger than a member of the adventuring band, but the force of numbers sees the heroes through a battle, and they are able to take one prisoner and exit the dungeon to interrogate him. 
End Session 1
  • The interrogation is interrupted by the arrival of Sustrai and Arryn, the two other members of the company who were on guard in Mordha's Town. The town is under threat by ankhegs; the company splits, with Sustrai, Arryn, Autumn, Levi and Kale finishing the interrogation while the others head back to Mordha's Town. Their prisoner reveals that the bandits had 1) also tried to block the portcullis but something undid their work and trapped them there; 2) split along racial lines, with the humans giving the orcs one of the mules to forestall further conflict (Kale confirms that full-blooded orcs have strong issues with eating cooked meats) but that the orcs knew sooner or later it was going to get bloody; 3) there was something picking the bandits off - the orcs believe that the complex itself was trying to kill them. 
  • Kale brings the bandit back to Mordha's town while the others press deeper into the dungeon. Their initial push is met with a human bandit ambush as the portcullis falls, but Autumn is on the far side and able to reopen the gate before the sheer mass of bandits overwhelms her friends. less than a dozen bandits escape into the jungle, when they started at more than 40. 
  • Exploring other rooms reveals some sleeping rooms, a lavatory, what was likely NCO quarters (exploration of which reveals a cache of weapons that are unharmed by the centuries, vial of Oil of Preservation, which is applied to several of their own weapons, a map that Arryn suspects might be of the Mines of Mordha, entered somewhere in this complex, and a color coded crystal lock, the manipulation of which opens a secret passage). 
  • When they enter the kitchen connected to the barracks they surprise another small group of orcish bandits. The conflict nearly kills both Sistrai and Arryn, but Autumn's limited training as a field medic for wounded assassins sees the men through. It seems one orc in five is all but unkillable. 
  • Pushing on, they find a pantry that still has some preserved food, a room with hooks hanging from the walls whose ambient temperature is well below the rest of the complex, and two more blue-light fixtures, one of which being the trigger to a secret passage out of the kitchen. 
  • Following the passage behind the color coded lock, the quartet head deeper into the mountain, uncovering a suite of cells off of a long, fog filled room. The fog is coming from one of the rooms that, like the cold pantry, is well below the rest of the complex in temperature. All the cells contain beds, desks, chairs and collars chained to the walls. They all also have unique characteristics 1) the brazier of cold and fog, 2) a yellow mold that has taken over the room, 3) a brazier of fire that has lost control and melted the door shut, 4) a mosaic of greens and blues that when Autumn examines it bring on deep, almost suicidal melancholy, 5) a mosaic of oranges and reds that they don't closely explore, 6) a completely empty room which the men think contains an invisible prisoner who has escaped his collar and left the room otherwise in perfect order (a theory Autumn finds absurd) and 7) a prisoner, still alive despite a century of confinement. 
  • That prisoner is Geo Waggoner, a Shankill merchant whose trading house was in conflict with the Mordha's a century ago. Malcom Mordha responded by kidnapping Geo, stealing everything of value his family had, performing some ritual that made Geo immune to death from, at the very least, age, starvation and dehydration, and locking him away in a room with the treasure he had amassed in life. Geo is in fine condition, save his clothes, which are shredded and barely cover him.
  • After some consideration the party decided to free him, and Sustrai worked out that the lock on the collar (which Geo could not feel) was based on a color code similar to the one on the prior lock, only coded for the Waggoner's family colors and not Mordha's. The party found Geo fresh clothes and escorted him back to Mordha's town (taking some of his family treasure, with his blessing, and leaving him some to start a new life). 
  • One last item - where the 8th cell door would be, there is instead another of the full size colored crystal arrays. Everyone assumes that will open a door deeper into the complex, perhaps to the ceremony rooms that Geo mentioned were used to facilitate his curse of agelessness.