Originally shared by David Perry
My first Actual Play writeup, compelled by how (seemingly) harrowing my last Freebooters on the Frontier session was, written from the perspective of my Level 3 beast-tank of a fighter, Astyrian. Our GM is using an old school megadungeon (which one, you can gather if you catch the thinly-veiled rebranding) but this after 6 sessions of trying to get to the dungeon, bushwacking our way there from town each session, through the… hexed wilderness. He consented to letting us start at the dungeon entrance since we had finally secured good transport there.
Mooks and Megadungeons Session 6
Finally, the Dungeon
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Fun with Bridges
Despite a wound sustained while dispatching the two guards outside the hidden “back” entrance to the Ruins of Crathia, I urged the group to press our advantage of surprise and delve into the ruins instead of taking a rest. After a being beset by huge bat-things on a rope bridge (Our newest companion Boran all but carried away by one), we came to a large hall cut from marble, and two imposing doors with torches already lit; likely the demesne of these cultists of The Dark One. My compass seemed to point somewhere beyond and to the left, so after debating whether to continue, Quintus wisely suggested we try a different way, as other thinking folk can be more of a threat than other denizens of the underworld.
We returned to another bridge connecting off the side of the first, through another stone-cut corridor with a lit torch, and across another sturdy rope bridge, more than 100ft long and some 50ft above the floor of a large cavernous chamber, hosting a running river that wended its way out of sight of our torches. On the other side of this bridge, and within another torch-lit, cut-stone corridor, we came to an abrupt halt by Olo shouting out something odd occurring to the wood of his precious greathammer. The wood was smoking and hissing as if being eaten away; Quintus quickly identified the threat as a virtually transparent, acidic ooze filling the corridor entirely; I accidentally touched it with the tip of my nose, a bit of it being eaten with excruciating pain. If Olo had not noticed and cried out, I would have walked right into it.
As it was, I had my compass held out, and while my hands were protected from this acid in their mail gloves, the ooze had taken my compass into its interior, floating there as if mocking me. I artfully swung my flail, its metal apparently impervious to this acid, deftly knocking the compass back out of the ooze at my feet, though I lost a shield to it in trying to protect myself from getting too close. A good thing I picked up one of the guard’s shields as a backup.
The dwarf thief Sin, craven or cunning I cannot yet decide, had fled back across the bridge, wanting nothing to do with this thing. And as we poked and prodded the ooze with our torches to see if there was any way to harm it, or at least distort it to let us pass, Olo noticed that across the bridge behind us, two heavily armed and armored guards, presumably associated with the cult, strolled into the light of the torch in the last corridor.
Sin swiftly ran forward to smother said torch (with his hands no less) to thus gain an advantage in the dark. But in doing so, we lost sight of any further goings on. Before we could charge across the bridge to his aid with what would surely be a short fight, we made out (from the light of our own torches reflecting off their abundant armor) that the guards were clearly making to cut through the ropes of the bridge!
The threat of us being trapped on our side of the bridge, between a dark pit and an inevitably approaching wall of acid ooze, was real, and terrifying. Even if we could make our way past the ooze, who knows what else we’d need to make our way through to return to the surface.
Boran began to pelt the guards with a slingstone, soundly ringing the helm of one but clearly doing no lasting harm. There would be no chance to rush across the bridge before they cut it, nor for us to sustain distracting damage from afar while we crossed.
All of a sudden, a booming voice spoke in the strange language of these cultists, what we later knew was Crathian, from who we later knew was quick-witted Sin, now perched on a ledge to the side of the bridge. He had announced “STOP! Here for ritual!”, piecing together the bits he heard from Bolm’s interaction with the guards outside. Having shouted it into the large cavern, there was no telling from where the voice came.
We froze, knowing not what to do. The guards responded in Crathian, and Sin then shouted in Common for us to drop our weapons! Seeing no choice, I cast mine aside, as did Olo in spite. But that old adventurer-come-cleric Quintus, the light of Krina within, still had the fight in him, knowing these folk worshiped The Dark One. He began spinning his own sling. I barked at him in common not to be a fool, that I had a plan, but it took Olo physically tackling him to bring him to his senses. We set across the bridge, unhurried enough that the guards became impatient, and unwisely began to set across it to meet us, instead of waiting on the other side. In a hushed voice, I explained to my companions that I would simply throw these fools off the side of the bridge.
As we met them brandishing their spears, one behind the other and us in single file on the narrow bridge, they gestured for us to turn around so as to spot any hidden weapons. Of course I still had a dagger at my belt (one I wrested from the grip of an Orc cultist of a different sect, after knocking over a wall upon him, in rescue of the surviving dwarf brother whose boats and piloting got us to this place, but that is another story).
I pointed it out to him clearly. He reached out for it, spear still pointing at me. Quickly, I tightened the bridge’s rope serving as a handhold around my arm, lunged toward him, gripped his arm, and flung him over the side of the bridge! His spear caught me in the rib through my scale mail, but that was planned; the sting of that blade meant survival!
Past me jumped the halfling body of Quintus, fire in his eyes, tackling the other guard, and Boran, that ruthless dwarf, tossed his torch, it sticking right into the breastplate of his armor, engulfing the poor man’s face in flame (my late, deranged companion Brogan would have done something much the same, no doubt. May the Sky Queen pluck his waterlogged body from the swamp, if it be not consumed by murksharks).
Sin finally emerged from the shadow behind the guard and dealt the coup de grace. We picked the guard’s person clean, stuffed his plate armor into my pack for later use or pawning, pushed his body over the side, and breathed a sigh of relief, clutching the ropes for sweet life.