Desert Crawling Villagers Getting Killed II
Yes, I know you're not supposed to expect the expected update, but here we are! Welcome to Part 2 of my solo Dungeon Crawl Classics 0-level funnel. Here’s Part 1 if you missed it. Alright, let’s get right back into it.
First off, here’s the “tools” I used for the game:
Last we left the group, the villagers had lost a bit of their number, but met up with some trapped town guards from a different village. So how did the guards come to be trapped here?
They came on a mission with 2 others, who died, from a neighboring village. When they entered there was a similar experience with the boom from the fireplace, but along with the fire golems there was an unidentified (male/female(odd/even): d10(4)) woman! The other 2 guards died and then the group was overcome. They woke up in that room not knowing what the hell was going on. It's been 1d4(3) days since they left town, so they've been down here at least a day.
What's in the chamber?
A letter, scarab, and a sunflower?
Inside the square chamber is something of an altar, or maybe just a statue. It is a flower with a scarab beetle crawling out of it. The writing on the base of the statue is legible, but not in a language any can read.
What does the altar do?
Magnet, clock, and the planet…
Royden and Bazel ask the guards if they know anything about it. They say no, but the guard named Nathaniel seems to be hiding something. Bazel presses him. Nathaniel says that he doesn't know for sure, but he's seen that writing before and he thinks it describes some kind of ritual that must be done at a certain time during a certain season and the entity in the statue will take you somewhere else.
Didn’t write the rolls but Personality and Intellect checks were made in this scene.
Royden, Bazel, and Agnes manage to convince Nathaniel to help them figure out the writing, and as best they can come up with, the writing wants somebody to bring a lodestone to the altar, place it in a special spot around sunset on the summer solstice. The beetle will then transport the bearer of the stone and their companions to a given place somewhere in the world. The solstice is but a month or two away, so they might return to investigate.
As they make to leave the area, they come by the pool and can still make out the glowing coins, but they can't see the manta beasts. Agnes and the others notice the guard Marcellus has a net. After some convincing, Marcellus decides to help get some coins with his net. He has a smoked fish that he tosses in the water, hoping it gets the manta's attention. He tosses the net and lets it sink and drags it back. Just as he breaks the surface a manta snaps at it, but Marcellus is quicker. He pulls it up and there's 1d6(5) coins in there! He decides not to press his luck. He gives Agnes and each of his fellow guards a coin and keeps one for himself. They're an unknown mint and their glow fades visibly after being removed from the water.
The whole group has reached the exit of the dungeon. Do they continue into the ruins or run back home, to let the desert continue to consume their villages?
They continue (d20): 20
They leave (d12): 11
Of course they continue!
The guards, despite having been trapped for a while, feel emboldened and somehow obligated to help the band of villagers. As they go by the fire place the guards are apprehensive as the villagers mention the fight with the golems. Just past the fireplace are two options: some kind of open space just ahead, or a hall to the south. They head straight on.
They enter a chamber of sorts, which has two branches, and mud walls forming a room in it. The north passage is short and a door can be seen. Prudence investigates. It doesn't open at first so Prudence pulls with all her might (15 on STR check) and opens it, revealing a solid rock wall. Dead end.
The other passage goes east a ways but Royden can see it ending in a pile of sand and rubble.
I ignored any off-page passages. I wanted this to be a self-contained dungeon but didn’t come to that decision until halfway through.
Marcellus decides to check out the little mud-walled room. Marcellus isn't very smart and so doesn't think to check anything & as he walks he trips a wire dart trap...
Reflex Save: 18!
Marcellus manages to dodge the darts that shoot out of the sandstone wall. He enters the room, knocking over the remnants of some wooden slat wall/gate. There's ancient rotten remains of a table and cot and chest. He spots something poking out of the rotten chest. Marcellus grabs it, pulling out a fancy +1 sickle!
Enoch seems like he could use it, so he gives it to him silently as he leaves the area.
The whole group makes their way down the south hall and wind up in front of a large locked door. It looks newer than other things here. Agnes decides to try her hand at lockpicking.
(d20 + 1 = 9 vs DC 11)
She is unsuccessful. Royden, a blacksmith, tries to examine the lock to try and help. He finds the weak spot & hits it with his hammer.
(d20 = 13 vs DC 11)
Royden disables the lock and opens the door.
A long corridor stretches before them. The group heads down the hallway, which leads to a large chamber with an old metal grate wall. There is a dilapidated porticullis, half off its track and held with a rusty chain. It's partially open. They exchange looks. They've come this far, it looks like they could carefully step through the porticullis...
Dex Saves vs DC 10
Marcellus: Natural 1!
The porticullis creaks and wavers ever-so-slightly before suddenly crashing down. Everyone gets out of the way, except Marcellus, who is hit for 1d8(8) damage and struck dead. The group decides that Royden can have the sword and his armor. Prudence tearfully collects Marcellus' coins and net.
Yes, I am having fun with the blood splatters.
At this point I was able to take control and decide what they would encounter towards the end here based on what had been rolled up/happened already.
In the chamber, they see a strange, green stone statue that is mostly destroyed, but the pieces lie in such a way that one can discern what it once was. A horrific looking creature, feminine but vile, a mix of beauty and monstrosity, scaly, fiery, and the face and worm-like lips somehow convey an uncomfortable but desirable sensuality. Next to the crumbling statue is a giant pit of sorts, full of loose dirt and rocks. After a moment of observation, they notice the dirt is moving, and alive. Glimpses of the disgusting burrowing creatures are caught here and there. Slowly they coalesce, and the shape of the creature depicted in the statue begins to form from worms, dirt, and bones. The eyes and mouth illuminate with supernatural flames an indescribable sound fills group's heads.
Will Saves vs DC 10
All clutch their ears, but it doesn't help. Enoch and Royden both begin to bleed from their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth as they take 1d4(1) psychic damage. Royden falls face first from his knees onto the dungeon floor, quite dead.
There is no time to mourn or loot, as the creature has fully taken form, disgusting yet lust-inducing. As Nathaniel gets a clear look at its face, he recognizes it.
"That's her! The woman from before, she must have locked us up!"
A terrible laugh echoes from the demon and she advances from the pit towards the group...
Flame Worm Succubus Thing: 11
Prudence rushes forward, screaming and brandishing her sword. A solid strike chops off a chunk of dirt and worms from the demon's arm. Enoch steps forward with fancy sickle and swings but only makes a light cut. Nathaniel comes around and takes a stab at the demon and does the most damage yet, a large worm tentacle is sliced off and falls to the floor wriggling.
The demon has a chance to fight back now, and exhales a burst of flame from its mouth and eyes...
Spell Check = 12 vs AC.
All but Agnes are horribly burned, and Enoch falls over dead, a flaming hunk of meat.
Agnes ferociously strikes at the beast with her sword, and while her strike is true, it wasn't the most effective hit. Bazel, badly wounded and desperate, throws one of his daggers, which sticks into the demon's neck. Terribly, the creature remains up.
Prudence, tears streaming down her face, swings again, screaming. She misses. Nathaniel, feeling futile but determined, also swings with his sword. His strike is true and devastating.
The demon is now a barely held together lump of dirt, worms, and other debris. It physically strikes at Nathaniel, the one who has hurt it the most. A cluster of worms shoot from the demon's arm, wrapping around Nathaniel's face and forcefully entering his orifices. A sickening suck and crunch noise later, the town guard falls down dead.
Agnes wastes no time and makes another strike. Her sword sparks against Bazel's dagger still in the demon's neck as Agnes decapitates the monstrosity. A gushing of molten, liquid fire comes from the neck as the evil thing disintegrates into the pile of filth from which it was formed.
Prudence drops to her knees, in shock, pain, and grief. She sobs. Agnes looks at her sword. The molten blood of the demon melted and deformed the sword into sword into a more deadly looking scimitar. Agnes can almost feel a power emanating from the weapon. Bazel just stands and watches the bubbling mass spread over the pit and statue as it recedes into the earth, the surface is left smooth, glassy, vitrified.
As the group silently stands in shock the remains of the statue begin to crack and the whole thing shatters and falls in a heap. Glittering through the broken green glass is a stash of different golden coins and trinkets from throughout the ages: sacrifices made to the demon from its worshipers. Gingerly, still in shock, the three survivors collect what they can of the gold. Prudence picks up Enoch's scorched sickle. They all, in a haze, make their way back to the surface out of the dungeon.
Prudence decides to go back with Agnes and Bazel to their village. Let her people think she died with her fellow guards. In almost complete silence they make their way home. The ever-spreading desert has already started to recede, some small patches of grass are starting to grow. The survivors are treated as heroes for a time, and even after the initial excitement they enjoy a little extra respect for quite a long time.
They also each receive 1d4 Luck.
As time passes, the three remain in touch in their village. Prudence, in her grief and survivors' guilt, takes to losing herself in books. Eventually she stumbles across arcane notes in an old grimoire and finds herself able to cast magic. Agnes finds herself visiting the temple and the druids' grove more and more. One day she undergoes a ceremony involving a vision quest. When she comes out of the experience, she finds herself possessing a divine connection and powers associated with it. Bazel enjoys the newfound respect, especially from the ladies. He also finds himself training, honing his knife throwing and fighting skills.
After a year or so, they find themselves to be different and capable people. Bazel, with guidance from Prudence, better organizes and trains the town militia. As the next summer solstice comes around, they find themselves anxious. They talk about wanting to try the ritual in the ruin. Their village, a place where they're now somewhat larger-than life figures, no longer feels like home. They've equipped the place to take care of and defend itself. They gather their things, say their goodbyes, and with a lodestone purchased by Prudence many months ago, they head back to the ruins to perform the sending ritual to take them to places unknown...
So! 3/12 survivors, not bad! The last group funnel I ran barely lost half their number, this one was decimated, ha! So I’m looking at a Cleric, Warrior, and a Wizard for the adventuring party in future games. Sheets: Agnes, Bazel, Prudence.
I had a lot of fun doing this, but it was also time-consuming. I’d love to get feedback on this because if even just a couple people enjoyed themselves reading this I’ll plan on continuing the adventure. I mean, I’ll probably continue it anyway, but I won’t go through quite so much trouble if no one cares to read it. Like I said, I had fun doing it, I hope you enjoyed reading it.
See you next time, whenever that will be.
RPG materials & musings, along with some fiction, poetry, & other randomness. Updated when you least expect it. Original content released under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0