Szazsraz the Lizard Wizard (Chris Wilson)
Brax of the Tallstones, barbaric fighter (Brad Black)
That Pictish Bastard (NPC merc, he doesn't speak enough common to realize what people are calling him)
Mike O'Nidd, myconid (Matt Barclay)
Kilic the Free (Alex Joneth)
Iter the Physick (NPC quack)
Thanks to the magical compulsion afflicting Szazsraz, the party entered the Azure Vaults in hope of assassinating the Elf King. The communal map-sharing among Vaults of Vyzor participants made it a lot easier to do things like avoid the pit trap in the first chamber (the lid mechanism of which has been repaired) and to find the stairs down.
Francis and Sidney, the imprisoned beholders, once again pleaded to be released but once again those pleas fell on deaf ears.
On the second level they nearly ran into trouble with the ghost librarian, as Szazsraz had several books overdue from a previous expedition. Fortunately, the party convinced her that he could pay some of his fines and return them on his next visit.
Elsewhere on Azure II they found the living quarters of an elf wearing steampunk mad scientist gear. The rassled this clown to the ground and interrogated him. He confirmed that the Elf King was often on the third level below the Azure Towers, but not always ("It's a big dungeon, dude."). He almost directed the party to their doom, until he found out that they were bringing him along. Then he suddenly remembered they needed to turn left instead of right to get to the ramp down to the third level. One other thing about this prolonged encounter: the party used a beholder eyeball as a gag when they wanted to shut this dude up. That's a) gross as heck and b) the kind of out-of-the-blue nonsense that makes running FLAILSNAILS games so great. No way did that eye originate in my campaign. It is a crossdimensionally migratory eyeball.
Anyway, this elf dude directed the party to these big brazen double doors. On them are carved the exploits of a bunch of elves. One of them is taller than the rest, with the biggest ears, hair like fire, and a crown. The decorations show this guy performing such mythical exploits as rodeo roping a tyrannosaurus, getting into a fistfight with the Sun, and beating Death at a game of tic-tac-toe. Szazsraz grabs the two big pulls and prepares to give them a mighty yank, but the doors open at the lightest touch.
In retrospect, that could have been their warning. Everyone other door in the dungeon hates the PCs guts. These doors are happy for you to come in. The throne room is a titanic chamber, lit by magic torches giving off green faerie fire like effects, with a double throne in front of a massive tapestry, and eight black supporting columns holding up the high vaulted ceiling. No one seems to be home.
As soon as the party is inside the door slam shut. The light of magic torches change from cool minty green light to malignant red illumination. And the eight pillars magically transform into eight monsters. They're humanoids, about 7 feet tall. Their skin glistens like the night sky, their claws and fangs shine silvery chrome. Their eyes smolder like fire. And they don't seem friendly.
As you can imagine, the party doesn't really want to fight these unknown creatures. They try opening the door. Only as they desperately pull do they notice the magic sigils set into this side of the doors. Someone--I can't recall who--gets the idea that the thrones might protect from the demons? genies? whatever-the-hells-they-are and makes a mad dash for them. In the meantime, both NPCs are torn to shreds by a series of claw/claw/bite attacks in what would turn out to be my best to-hit rolls of the day.
The guess about the throne is right on the money. The monsters seem to ignore the first couple of PCs who make it to the two thrones. And it even works on a third PC sitting in the lap of another.
Unfortunately, that leaves Szazsraz is in a tough spot here. With all eight monsters bearing down on him, a dash through them to the throne on the opposite side of the room would probably be suicide. Instead, he opts to cast invisibility and try to sneak out of the way. But a couple of the baddies are dangerously close to be casting a spell and one of them hits with a claw.
I roll a twenty and we go to my new critical strike table. This chart is home made, replacing Dave Hargrave's chart, which I've been using for decades. I'd like to note for the record that is has lots of less-than-lethal results. Because I am jerk, I like to make the player roll the effect when a monster has critted him. Poor Chris rolled a decapitation result and Szazsraz's head goes tumbling across the throneroom floor. Rest in peace, you crazy reptile sorcerer. Your place in the annals of the Vaults of Vyzor campaign is secure.
With no one left to murder, the monsters go all pillar-of-smoke and return to their places as the columns. Kilic, Brax, and Mike discover that merely standing up such that they are no longer in contact with the throne seats is sufficient to reactivate them. A search of the two thrones reveals nothing but a secret stash of black lotus powder. This plus the goggles and gloves of the elf scientist are the only loot from the whole expedition.
As carefully as possible, they precariously lean over the backs of the thrones and use a spear to try to lift up the tapestry a few feet behind them. Behind the tapestry is a narrow hole in the wall, an escape tunnel as it where. They take some time discussing who will be first, second, third into the tunnel, then dice are thrown to see if anyone pratfalls in the mad scramble out of the room. The rolls go their way and the throneroom guardians do not pursue them down the narrow tunnel.
This cave-like tunnel winds up and down, left and right for quite a long distance. It emerges into a previously unknown section of the dungeon: the Orange Vault!
About this point I notice that we only have 11 minutes before I have to end the session and get ready for work and that to end session inside the dungeon could be a Very Bad Thing for their PCs. They hustle through the level as best they can, encountering some fairly recently dead wizards (something tore them to pieces), a room with four Egyptian style sarcophagi that they hurried through, a pit trap, a garbage room, and one of my favorite dumb dungeon traps: an illusory bottomless pit (if you fail your save you lay on the floor and scream like your falling, forever--or until someone who saves snaps you out of it). But alas, they don't make it out before the session ends.
With the PCs in the dungeon at the end of regulation time and no safe way out, we go to my little-used Escape the Dungeon rules. Your base chance of making it out somehow is 50%, modified by plus or minus 10% for the difference between your level and the dungeon level you ended on. So, for example, a seventh level character on the sixth level has a 60% chance of getting out in one piece. If you fail this roll, throw a d20 on the chart below.
Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Chart of Very Probable Doom (d20)
1. You lucky dog! You manage to somehow escape the dark forces of the dungeon. You return to civilization, naked and half-delirious.
2. Waitaminute, Lefty’s not right handed! Situation appears to be #1, but you’ve been replaced by a shapeshifting badguy.
3. Maimed. You escape but suffer the effects of a random critical hit. Also, 50% of your stuff is gone, randomly determined.
4. Alas, you are no more. If any comrades escape they are able to bring your remains and your stuff back to civilization.
5. Pining for the fjords. If any comrades escape they are able to bring your remains back to civilization, but your stuff is lost.
6. Dead as a doornail. The general location of your body is known to any surviving comrades.
7. Your stuff has become part of a dragon’s hoard and your body part of a dragon’s supper.
8. That is an ex-character. The location of your body is unknown to all.
9. Bought the farm. Your body and possessions irretrievable due to dragon fire, ooze acid, disintegrator beam, etc.
10. Also dead. Your body is irretrievable due to dragon fire, ooze acid, disintegrator beam, etc. but your stuff is still around for some other jerk to nab at a later date.
11. Held for ransom by seedy humans. A member of the Thieves Guild can arrange release for 1,000gp per character level. 1 in 6 chance the money disappears with no prisoner release.
12. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the level you were captured on and the type of monster holding you captive.
13. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the level you were captured on, but not the type of monster involved.
14. Captured by monsters. Escaping comrades know the type of monster involved, but not what level to search.
15. Captured by monsters. Unseen monsters spirit you away to an unknown location.
16. A fate worse than death. Drafted into the ranks of the monsters. Roll d6: 1-2 undead, 3 lycanthrope, 4 charmed, 5 polymorphed, 6 other.
17. You and your stuff are sacrificed to loathsome gods in order to gate in d6 demons that are added to the dungeon key.
18. A gorgon or somesuch has petrified you. Escaping characters know what level to search for your statue.
19. Lost in the dungeon. GM sets your location each session. Re-enter play if the party finds you.
20. Opportunity for betrayal. Pick one other character who got away safe. Roll 1d6, 1-4 he takes your place and has to roll on this chart while you escape, 5-6 you both suffer the fate rolled by your victim.
So here's what happens. A day later there's a commotion over at the Rosy Ruins. The workmen clearing the rubble call for the mercenaries kept on hand, as a pair of monsters seem to be coming out of the basement. Before crossbows are fired, a shout goes out. "Hold your fire! Hold your fire! I think I know these guys!" It's Yohey the Adventuring Carpenter, who has been working with the rubble clearing crew for reasons of his own. Under the dust and slime and filth coating them, he recognizes fellow adventurers Brax and Kilic. They spent most of the past 24 hours on the run from pursuing monsters, horrors not seen on the surface world since the Arduinian age. They don't know where they've been or how they got from the Orange Vault to the Rosy Vaults.
Brax reports on the death of Szazsraz to his known friends and Barnabus Sleet takes the barbarian out drinking to help him forget his troubles.
A couple of days later, Mike O'Nidd finds his way out via the Azure Towers. He's bereft of all his equipment and delirious. He recovers, but the mushroomy adventurer can't quite consciously remember the terrors he experienced, but he can't quite forget either. He'll be haunted by half-remembered horrors the rest of his days.
|map by Brad Black|
ONGOING ROLL OF THE DEAD
Szazsraz the Lizard Wizard (Chris Wilson), Iter the Physick (NPC), That Pictish Bastard (NPC), Bufo the Wizard (Makali’i F), Beefo the Gerblin Drinking Buddy (NPC), Willy Whats-His-Name (0-level Loser), Poor Brother Rupert (cleric hireling), unnamed serving boy (0-level hireling), Gwalin Rustbritches (dwarf hireling), Jarrod the Magic-User (Ian Reilly), Jonesy (0-level NPC), Little Liam Linkboy (0-level NPC), Limpy the Naileteer (Jeff Call), Engsal the Enchanter (Alex Joneth), Elfbraham Lincoln (Jeff Call)., Littlens (0-level NPC), Biggens (0-level NPC), Stimpy (0-level NPC), Ren (0-level NPC)
AZURE TOWER GUEST LIST
Brax of the Tallstones (Brad Black), Mike O'Nidd (Matt Barclay), Kilic (Alex Joneth), Barnabus Sleet (Maxim Golubchik), Laurantha the Unbeautiful (Cullen), Big Gnome (Luke Rejec), Szazsraz the Wizard Lizard (Chris Wilson), Rose Royce (Kiel Chenier), Sneakerly Trull (Zak S.), Ilse Raagenkampf (Perttu Vedenoja), Persimion Finch (Galen Fogarty), Magic Meryl (Nick Kuntz), Merrill Meadows (Michael Julius), Chef (Richie Cyngler)