Wednesday, January 25, 2012

FLAILing Around in Stonehell

An account of last evening's FLAILSNAILS game with David of the Tower of the Archmage and run by Nicholas Mizer. You can read Nick the Pick's version here.

In the days following his journey to the wild coast of Cornwall, Lemmikäinen, that enigmatic elf who claimed Hyperborean descent, was seen visiting some of more wretched dives along the London waterfront, speaking in hushed conference with men and other races of low character and sinister morals. Having acquired a small sailing ship and its crew, Lemmikäinen’s monthly expenses had grown ten-fold and unpaid sailors are notoriously difficult to trust. If he wished to continue his ownership of the vessel, money—and large sums of it—would have to be acquired soon.

In the riverside taverns, Lemmikäinen heard tales of an ancient and crumbling prison located in a distant realm. If the rumors were true, great riches awaited those brave enough to face the former gaol’s monstrous inhabitants. A clandestine meeting with a one-eyed mummy smuggler from Cairo resulted in the northern elf’s acquisition of a faded map purportedly showing the location of the Island of Doors, a small, rocky islet situated off the southern coast.

The Island of Doors was legend for the many odd, free-standing portals that stood along its landscape, each rumored to lead to a foreign and oft-times alien shore. Gathering his crew, Lemmikäinen set sail for the Island. Despite fog-shrouded waters and strange tides, the expedition located the islet where the map claimed it lay. Landing upon the rocky strand, Lemmikäinen consulted a small, crimson-bound book filled with weird sigils and signs, seeking the proper one that would designate the door he sought. A brief survey of the Island revealed the portal that would take him to the lands in which the moldering prison—referred to in tales as “Stonehell”—was to be found. Stepping through the weather-beaten door of unfamiliar wood, Lemmikäinen left this world.

The elf found himself in a small town that showed all the signs of a stagnant economy and lack of civilized comforts. Despite his unfamiliarity with this new world, it was a small matter to locate a tavern where professional fortune-hunters held court in a dank, stinking taproom. In that place, Lemmikäinen met a human fighting-man with the unfortunate moniker of “Nick the Pike,” undoubtedly earned by his acumen with a pole-ax. Nick was organizing a venture into Stonehell to seek some talisman a local shaman or preacher had tasked an acquaintance with recovering. Having little interest in such backwater trinkets, but a great desire to fill his dwindling coffers, Lemmikäinen agreed to accompany Nick and his band of hired men-at-arms and link boy into the old prison. After acquiring some hounds from a bumpkin cult’s dog temple, the party headed into the hills where the dungeon lay waiting.

Near the entrance, Lemmikäinen and cohorts detected a returning band of adventurers, some bearing wounds from their own sojourn into the dungeon. As they were unburdened with obvious treasure, Lemmikäinen’s party chose to fade behind cover and allow them to pass without confrontation. After they vanished around a trail bend, the elf, pike-man, and hirelings entered the dungeon proper.

With Nick’s knowledge of the dungeon gained during a previous delve, the party swiftly found their destination: a place called the Quiet Halls. Prior to entrance into these corridors, they encountered a solitary orc, who Lemmikäinen pressed for information. The bestial creature warned them that the Quiet Halls were roamed by the un-dead and Lemmikäinen cursed their lack of clergy amongst the party’s ranks. After revealing that some feud existed between the orcs and Stonehell’s goblins, the orc was allowed to leave with a silver or two for his troubles.

Entering the Quite Halls, the band followed the trail Nick’s previous party had blazed, avoiding a known pit trap and discovering an odd hall that bore ominous scorch marks and a bovine statue of iron. Pressing past this strange sculpture, the party found a large hall beyond. At least two passages granted entrance to its dark interior and upon reaching the southernmost one, the band hurled blazing brands into the darkness to reveal its contents. From out of the gloom, poured un-dead: skeletons and zombies numbering a score or more!

The party was forced to hack their way through an undead throng to avoid being surrounded by the stinking, clacking animations. They fought a running battle back north, Lemmikäinen firing shaft after shaft of keen-edged arrows into the horde until the party reached the pit trap they had passed. There, at the far side of the cavity’s edge, they stood, forming a shield wall against the dead.

The first few skeletons stumbled across the trap’s cover, springing the pit and causing them to tumble into the darkness below. The zombies in the horde’s rear ranks shuffled mindlessly ahead, plowing more skeletons into the shaft. The party met each oncoming wave with spears, halberds, and arrows, whittling their numbers down until only the zombies remained. These creatures hungrily hurled themselves across the abyss, some plummeting down the pit, while others collided with the shield wall and began gnawing upon the hired men-at-arms. One hireling was pulled to his doom by the shambling horror that consumed him, but with their superior position and tactics, it was only a matter of time before they prevailed and the last zombie laid low.

The horde defeated, the party returned to the great hall from which the undead emerged, but found it empty but for bats and pillars. Several corridors departed the room, and the band headed north, passing an iron door and crossing an intersecting passage. A wooden door was opened and an ancient embalming chamber was found beyond. Deciding to exit the dungeon while their luck held, the party gathered anything of seeming value, loading down Lemmikäinen’s magical conveyance to haul the items of questionable worth back to the surface. Negotiations would be necessary with the local merchants before Lemmikäinen saw any wealth from his venture, but he did acquire a set of oddly-shaped embalming tools as a souvenir of his journey into the dungeon known as Stonehell. He currently awaits his share of the booty, pondering whether to remain in the place or seek out new realms in need of exploration and tomb-robbery.


Greg said...

Was anything changed in Stonehell so it would be different from the dungeon you created?

Michael Curtis said...

I never bothered to ask and after enough time my own memory of details gets fuzzy so I can't be certain. My own home version of Stonehell is somewhat different from the published version and I don't always recall the changes made.