[I see that I'm not going to be able to keep myself from filling in some of the gaps in the original writeups. I'll try to note when I write some fill-in material after the fact, if it seems that it matters. Comments added during this process will be bracketed.]
[After the festival, the party (Gormuz, Dominica, and Ophelia) were stopped by a priest from their home village; he needed their help. A young teen, a boy named Gib, had had some sort of problem with some friends (including a girl) and run away. His mother was worried. Could they find him for her? She would gladly reward them if they would help.
They agreed, and set out to talk to his friends. After interviewing a few, they were able to pick up his trail. He'd run away toward the northeast; his trail wasn't too hard to follow. After a few minor encounters, they found that his tracks suddenly veered to one side...at which point they ran into something strange, a hostile band of maurading baboons. Baboons were unknown in their world, and they didn't seem to have any language in common. Well, except the universal language of violence, of course; battle promptly ensued.
Gormuz is eleven feet tall and strong as a horse. He uses a sword and club, both of which are enormous. Nonetheless, he's vulnerable to magic, since his POWer (and therefore his resistance to hostile magic) is weak. He was affected by a spell for a while, but he eventually killed one baboon and immediately threw the body at a second baboon, killing it as well. "You killed a baboon with a baboon?" I said incredulously. Everybody laughed. The baboons soon ran off.]
Since several of us had Saturday commitments, we played on Sunday this week instead of Saturday. Once again, though, it was a really good session. I think it's a very good sign when there's a lot of laughter from everybody in the group during the session.
Zack, who plays the Great Troll Gormuz, brought his father Mike to play as well; he used to play RuneQuest thirty years ago, apparently (although he doesn't look quite that old), and I guess he got interested when Zack told him about the previous sessions. He wanted to play a Dragonewt, although he was willing to play a human if necessary. For various reasons I decided to let him go with the dragonewt.
While he designed his character, we picked up the adventure from where we'd left off. The big baboon combat had just ended, and the surviving baboons had run off in the same direction as the tracks of the boy that the party is trying to find. So the group headed out after them.
They hadn't caught up with them by nightfall, so they camped. In the night, Dominica heard rustling in the bushes. As it came closer, she nudged Gormuz awake. The troll's Darksense told it that whatever the creature was, it wasn't humanoid. So he picked up a decent-sized rock and threw it...mortally wounding a good-sized skunk who had come to investigate their camp. It survived just long enough to spray them, although they all made their dodge rolls and thus were able to avoid the very worst of the blast.
They moved camp. Dominica, having some alchemy skill, mashed up some minty leaves which masked the odor a little.
The next day they resumed tracking. As they drew near the cliffs at the edge of the world, they saw that there seemed to have been some recent rockfall; there was a rock slide ramping up along the cliff face. The tracks, both human and baboon, went up that ramp.
The tracks entered a crack in the cliff face; large broken rocks led downward into the darkness, as the rift seemed to narrow towards the top. Eventually the rift opened into a cave-mouth that glowed faintly. Luminescent fungi and mushrooms sprouted abundantly, providing an eerie glow. An opening in the far end of the cavern led to a passageway that seemed natural. After a twist to the left, their passage was blocked by a rushing, icy stream of bitter water, ten feet across; faintly glowing fish of various sizes swam through at great speed. The troll reached in to try to grab a fish without success, and found that the water was so remarkably cold that his arm was rendered numb almost instantaneously. Tasting the water, he discovered that it was astonishingly bitter as well. It also turned out to be quite good at removing lingering skunk odor.
As they washed, they spotted an oddly regular shape at the bottom of the stream. Using a rope and grappling hook, they managed to get the object up; it turned out to be an ancient and waterlogged chest. Inside they found wet clothes of an odd and complex design, beautiful dinner stoneware for two along with dinner silverware, and underneath three packets doubly wrapped in oilcloth: preserved meat, hard biscuits, and two beautiful blue stoneware cups. A wad of silk in one of the stone cups contained a diamond ring.
Crossing the stream posed a bit of a challenge. The Great Troll leaped across easily, carrying a rope with him to help the others. Ophelia, the sorceress/gypsy, tied the rope around her waist and made a fine jump across...or it would have been fine, if Gormuz hadn't decided to help her by giving the rope a good big yank once she was up in the air. Unfortunately he fumbled, and an unexpected whiplash action in the rope plunged her straight to the bottom of the incredibly cold stream.
They fished her out (Dominica jumped successfully, wisely refusing the rope), but Ophelia was shivering uncontrollably and nearly in shock. The troll tried to dry her off with a blanket, but lacking much gear decided to warm her up with his body. While he was attempting that, Dominica made a fire to warm the gypsy. Lacking any other fuel, she gathered some dead dried fungus and mushrooms and lit them.
The flames flickered strangely and caught. Colored smoke billowed upwards...
Each of the PCs had a dream. Dominica dreamed that she was in the halls of Olympus, but had taken a wrong turning; the glowing marble halls were turning dark and cracked. Looking back, she saw the gods on their thrones, far away. A chasm separated her from them, and the distance continued to increase.
Gormuz dreamed of a luxurious troll-cave filled with food. A movement at the end of the cave attracted his attention; drawing near, he saw a mirror, but his reflection was not that of a troll. It was human.
Ophelia dreamed of her master's tower. Turning towards her with a book, he said "I think you're ready for this one now." There was a flash of light.
They all woke up feeling very well-rested.
[To my surprise and delight, my gamemastering and scenario-designing chops came back rapidly. In the day or so before each session, I'd have a flood of ideas...and they were good ones. The group is really reacting well to them, too. They were excited about the game, and immediately decided to play every week - so we do.]
Tracking the boy was easier underground, because the glowing fungi showed occasional footprints. They tried to judge how far ahead of them the boy was, but it was impossible to be sure - doubly so, now that they'd all been asleep for an unknown amount of time in the cave. As they moved along, they came to a fairly large cavern. A large patch on the right-hand side towards the far end was dark; the glowing fungi weren't glowing there, for whatever reason. On investigation they discovered a very large, coffin-shaped box approximately ten feet long and four wide, of exceptionally heavy and sturdy construction. There was no lid, as such; it gave every sign of having been sealed permanently. And this was borne out by the sigils and runes which were marked all over the box. None of them could read them (itself a strange thing), but some of the skull-shapes and other marks seemed clearly intended to warn of terrible danger. The fungi around the box seemed dead and brittle.
The far edge of the cavern ended in a flat wall, topped by a ledge about fifteen feet up; shadows indicated a passage continued past the ledge. The great troll picked up the box and stood it on end again the wall; as he did, he could hear and feel something inside the box shifting in response to the box's movements. Ignoring that, he boosted the sorceress and the rogue up on the box, from which point they were able to climb up onto the ledge. Before he climbed up himself he looked around a bit, checking for the tracks of the boy. The box was much too heavy for the boy to move, much less pick up, so how could he have gotten past this cavern?
A careful search turned up a spot along the right-hand side of the wall that had handholds in the rock, although it wasn't possible to determine if they were natural or not. In any case, Gormuz climbed up and rejoined the party.
Moving along, they followed the passage. Eventually they came to a spot which seemed to have had a cave-in. The passage wasn't completely blocked; either of the human females could have scrambled over the top of the rocks that partially filled the passage. But the troll was far too large for that. So Gormuz spent several hours picking up boulders and moving them back to the cavern behind them. Several of the boulders were quite large, requiring a STR vs. STR roll even for him.
Once the way was cleared, they continued their pursuit. The tunnel led on for hundreds of feet; it twisted and turned. As it turned steeply down, they came to a chamber which was nearly round, and about thirty feet across. In the center was a deep pool which occupied most of the room; at the far end, three openings led to further passages. The left one led upward, the right one led sharply right and down, and the center one seemed to slant slightly upward. Some careful searching revealed tracks that led through the middle way, so they followed that one.
More twists and turns, and many hundreds of feet later the passage opened into the largest cavern yet. The plant life here was a riot of strange colors, and the noise of falling waters made strange music. Even the water glowed. Stalagmites and stalactites were everywhere, in all sizes; some were more than seven or eight feet across at the base. Some were broken, leaving jutting broken stumps of various sizes and massive stone shards on the floor. One massive broken stalagmite formed a basin of sorts; glowing water pooled in it and ran over the lip onto the floor. Small streams and rivulets were everywhere. The roof was hundreds of feet up, at least, and the width and length of the cavern were easily more than 1,000 feet; it was impossible to be sure, because the stalagmites and stalactites made direct vision in any direction nearly impossible.
But there was a strange sound from deeper within the cavern - a deep, deep growling. When the troll called out "Who's there?", an elegant voice from forward and above them answered "Would you mind helping me? I've been treed by a rather large bear."
And treed he certainly was, perched atop a truly massive broken stalagmite twenty feet high; a cave bear of enormous proportions prowled around the base.
I'll spare you the details of the battle that ensued. Suffice it to say that even a massive cave bear is not a huge challenge for a reasonably-experienced great troll who is backed up by an arrow-shooting rogue and a sorceress who has put an intensity-8 protection spell on him. The bear got in one good solid slash on the troll's arm, but soon enough was nothing more than bear meat.
The stranger slid down from the pillar and revealed himself to be a red-haired, sharp-chinned human. He thanked the party - blessed them in fact, three times over. A short chat revealed that he wasn't from their world, but thought that it sounded "interesting". Someone matching the boy's description had fled past him as he'd entered the cave, where he'd come in search of rare fungi and fluids from the cavern. But the bear had treed him. Not long after the stranger bid them farewell and headed back the way that the party had come. When they asked him his name, he smiled and said "Eurmal".
The party went onward; perhaps a hundred feet, perhaps a bit more. The waters from the cavern behind them gathered and flowed along the passage, making a small stream. Interestingly, the water had lost all color, and the fungi no longer glowed. As the glow faded behind them, a new glow appeared up ahead. They reached an opening, and looked out into a new world.
Copyright 2012 by Peter Maranci. Revised: November 29, 2012. v.1.0