Saturday, 31 March 2012

Rot Tower - One page dungeon play test

Pete and Shane agreed to play test my one page dungeon entry. I decided to run it using Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (wfrp) as this is the system we were all familiar with. Peter was an ex goat herder turned outlaw called Egon and Shane took on the mantle of a judicial champion called Kurt. Together they set out to stop the raiders that harassed the coast. These raiders seemed to lair in or about a great rock in the bay. This was a key location to a longer Call of Cthulhu style city adventure I had written. I’d decided to separate the location from the adventure and turn it into my one page dungeon entry. This session would allow me to see the parts that were too tied up into my bigger adventure and that needed reworking.
A leper, probably the priest they got to hold the torch.
Having long played D&D and seeing the value in hirelings (or perhaps being all too familiar with the wfrp critical hit system) they sought to inspire the general populace to join them in a raid against the rock. They ended up with a fisherman called Tobias and his son who agreed to accompany them on the proviso that they are paid in gold. Most wouldn’t accompany the hero’s to the rock as the rock housed a leper colony. No one wants to catch leprosy.

Upon being rowed to the rock they group rang a bell and entered a creaking lift, the base of which was covered in bells discarded by the lepers as they began their new life on the rock. I think Shane’s character decided to scale the rock forgoing the use of the lift because he had scale sheer surfaces on his character sheet and he was darn well going to use it. At the top of the rock was a leper colony, a shantytown built into the ruined foundation of a temple. The colony lived in the shadow of a mighty colossus that had long since fallen. The scattered sections reminded Egon of Manan the god of the sea. Egon declared he had solved the mystery, Manan was angry because his statue was broken and his temple in a state of disrepair. Case closed, they could leave now and wouldn’t have to deal with the lepers.

The lepers watched form their hovels as the group approached. Egon encouraged them to stay their distance with both threats and the waving of his sword. Soon a healthy looking man called Tom, who served as leper’s guardian, greeted them. Having played plenty of warhammer there was meta game grumbling along the lines of Tom being in league with Nurgle. In the end he pointed them in the direction of the lepers priest but warned them he couldn’t be trusted.

The priest told them of tunnels within the rock from which the raiders plied their trade. I played him up as reasonably slimy but the players took an instant dislike to him as soon as they learnt he was over-weight, leprous and a priest. Still their desire for expendable meat shields saw them encourage the priest into signing on as a torchbearer. There was a back-story involving a Saint and fighting a demon, which the players played up on, encouraging the slimy priest into re-enacting the quest of the saint himself.

From here the party traversed the leper priests catacombs making sure to leave the remains alone. Eventually they reached the location of the Bretonian rebels who had been raiding the coast. Egon took the ‘burn everything with pints of burning oil’ approach while Kurt mixed it up in melee. As I was winging it I took the thug stats out of the main book, conveniently they had street fighting which meant that at one point Egon was struck a mighty blow with an oar. Sadly it wasn’t a critical but it was close. The rebels were slain, their boats given to the fishermen as a reward and the party left victorious. They ended up pressuring the leper priest into jumping from the top of the rock. The leper priest had been trying to usurp Tom's position as leader of the leper community and had tried to use the hero’s to further his cause. It backfired, the party tried to goad him into a duel with the current leper leader which seemed apt given the judicial champion in the group. Knowing he couldn’t’ win such a fight the leper priest jumped.

In the games post mortem I figured the rebels were rubbish and a portion of the adventure was overlooked. I’d placed a collapsed bridge that would lead to the Saints tomb and the awakened eldritch terror that was responsible for wrecking the ships. The party skipped the bridge and so a fair chunk of adventure. I’ve re-written the rebels, they are now lepers with a grudge, wreckers who follow in the wake of the eldritch terror. The bridge is broken down earlier so as to become an inescapable obstacle. This makes the Saint tunnel a viable option to explore. Things in the adventure that didn’t come up were dropped making space for new ideas. Play testing these things is well worth the effort. The one page dungeon entry is written but needs illustrating. I might be able to knock a few pictures out next weekend.
Late edit - THE MAW - the end boss of 'Rot Tower' has stats and an expanded write up on this blog post here: link to THE MAW

Monday, 26 March 2012

Trees, peril and musically challenged Ettin

'Fang, I said don't bite his neck. Why wont you listen to me?' - A frustrated Ugh

Some residents of West Wood
Ugh sat at a tavern table by the window, his hyena Fang II sat by his feet gnawing on a bone. 'Fetch me a beer boy." The warrior ordered his faithful companion before letting out a sigh. He had forgotten Fang couldn't understand him. He would need to go on a quest to speak dog. He watched the street eagerly for the arrival of his regular adventuring companion. Milgos would help him on his worthy dog whispering quest. Hours passed and the half orc became worried. Eventually an urchin, possibly an apprentice mage, approached with grim news, Milgos the wizard was detained and would not be accompanying him on his quest to West Wood, apparently he was washing his hair. Cursing under his breath Ugh rose to his feet and stormed out knocking the urchin to the floor in his haste to depart. He recruited Jana the cleric from the temple where she helped the poor between adventures and they departed the city striking west.

Two days of travel through the surrounding farmlands and villages saw Ugh arrive at a raging river. On the other side lay the West Wood, wherein was rumoured to live a hermit who could teach the warrior to speak with dogs. The river looked perilous and so Ugh was relieved to see a cabin up ahead. There he negotiated passage across the river with a talkative fisherman who warned Ugh of the great danger he faced in the forest. Ugh yawned at the man’s prattle, questioned his constantly changing accent and finally ordered him be silent for the remainder of the trip across the river. Ugh needed no help, least of all from babbling fishermen. Search the forest for the hermit, how hard could it be?

Upon being dropped off at the closest clearing Ugh pondered his options, hike through the tangled undergrowth or follow an overgrown path. The path looked easiest and so he hoisted his pack and set forth ordering Fang, his faithful hound, to range ahead. Trees towered overhead, their canopy casting deep shadows in the forest, the sounds of furtive fauna mixed with the sighing breeze and the creaking of the ancient swaying pines. After several hours of pleasant hiking Ugh was beginning to wonder what the fuss was with the West Wood, nothing had attacked him yet and he hadn’t seen anything more dangerous than a hare. Things were about to change.

His recently acquired helmet, liberated from a wight’s treasure horde, warned him of danger on the path ahead. It did so through telepathically sending feelings of dread which ensured Ugh could never be surprised. Not far ahead was a band of Neanderthals out hunting. Ugh skirted the band warily and the groups shared angry greetings. Much of what the cavemen had to say consisted of grunts that sounded much like Ugh’s own name. This noise they repeated till Ugh had moved out of sight.

Later Ugh was to discover a crystal clear lake stocked with gold and silver fish as well as a bush covered in odd yet delicious looking raspberries. Ugh picked and tried one and suffered no ill effects. He kept two for later. The place looked like a good point to rest but with a few hours of daylight to spare, Ugh pressed on. Again his helmet warned him of danger, this time a pair of hobgoblins perched in trees watched the trail with bows at the ready. With daylight fading Ugh left the hobgoblins to their own devices and returned to the lake to camp.

Ugh pondered how best to have his dog Fang keep watch for the night. Unfortunately without the ability to speak to the beast he could not communicate his idea. This was the primary reason he was venturing into the West Wood, to learn the language of dogs. The half orc had to share the watch with Jana. During the first watch Ugh heard voices, soft goblin voices by the lake. He crept up on a bickering pair of goblins and grabbed them by the scruff of the neck. The scrawny creatures had been filling jugs of water for their hobgoblin masters. The pitiable goblins begged to be released. They whined for some time before one of them shrieked for Ugh to look behind him. Now normally Ugh would not normally fall for such obvious tricks yet his helmet geve him that ‘don’t be surprised’ feeling. The warrior spun about thrusting both goblins before him as makeshift shields.

Failing to surprise Ugh was a feral looking emaciated hobgoblin that reached for him with wicked clawed hands. The creature was faster than Ugh and sprang at him landing a blow that chilled and numbed the half orcs flesh. Fang lept to his masters rescue as Jana stirred herself from her slumber. Together Ugh and his hound drove the creature back before Fang fell the creature with a gut tearing bite. The goblins ran for the forest and Ugh and Fang gave chase but quickly lost heart as the goblins headed into the dense undergrowth. They returned to camp to see the hobgoblin like creature had risen from the dead and now had Janna paralysed and was about to bite her face off. Fearing the loss of his henchwoman Ugh flew into a rage and put the creature down a second time. This time he dismembered the corpse before dousing it in oil and setting it ablaze. With the nights drama past the group tried their best to get some rest.

The next day saw Ugh ventured further west where we came across a camp of a dozen hobgoblins. They were not amicable to negotiation and had to be put to the sword. They put up strong resistance at one point filling Fang with spears and sending him scampering to the back rank. The hobgoblins lost heart however when their leader was decapitated by Ugh’s blade. Fang ran down one of the brutes as he fled and threatened to bite the creature’s throat. “No wait!” Ugh ordered but sadly Fang couldn’t understand his master and shredded the hobgoblins neck.

An Ettin
Midday arrived and Ugh found the path he was following twisted up a hill towards a derelict tower. As he climbed the hill he heard music. A female was singing beautifully though the effect was ruined by the terrible harp playing which accompanied it. Soon Ugh could see the source of this noise. A young girl chained to a rock sang a song about forests and trees while a two headed giant, or Ettin if you prefer, plucked clumsily at a harp several sizes too small. The Ettin noticed it’s audience and rose to its feet. “Ere clear off, or better yet give us your stuff. I’ll take that fancy sword of yours for starters.” Ugh tried to talk to the brute but the Ettin was surly and uncooperative. Eventually the conversation broke down, though Ugh did learn that the Ettin had eaten the hermit he hunted and enslaved the hermits daughter. The giant hurled a spear at the half orc that embedded itself deep in the warriors arm. Ugh was determined not to show fear and so gritted his teeth and pulled the bloody spear loose. The Ettin shrugged and charged. Ugh fled into the wilderness. Cursing the Ettin retrieved his spear and returned to his music.

Ugh swilled a healing potion from the safety of the woods and ended up feeling much better. He then recalled that he carried on his person a potion of giant strength. Waiting till nightfall Ugh swilled the giant strength potion and went to rescue the girl. He lifted the rock to which she was chained and urged her to flee to the tree line. The noise awoke the Ettin who grabbed his spears and bellowed a challenge. Ugh hurled the boulder at the brute but missed and so the giant and the warrior with giant strength went toe to toe exchanging brutal blows. Ugh was to prove triumphant with the timely assistance of Fang who was able to land the killing blow.

The young girl whom they had rescued knew much about nature that her father had taught her before his untimely end at the hands of the Ettin. She told Ugh of a tribe which lived in the grasslands adjoining the city who would assist him in a spirit quest during which he would learn the secrets of speaking with animals. This seemed good enough for Ugh who chose to rest in the Ettins tower before seeking out the tribe. It would not be long now before he and Fang would be regaling each other with tales of their adventures down at the tavern.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Realm of Chaos - Chaos Warbands

Chaos, where five guys in armour counts as an army
I've never been the biggest chaos fan probably because of the way they are presented in Warhammer as the inevitable conclusion. The Empire ends in chaos and flames as the corruption within, blah, blah everything was for nought. It's all too bleak and depressing which is probably why GW can't bite the bullet and let one of those Chaos incursions achieve something of note. I do like skirmish games and Chaos Warbands was the first I ever gave a go. Others have said this but it needs repeating; the books as written are almost unplayable and terribly difficult to find anything in. My friend and I have talked about writing up a quick reference sheet for the warband part of the books because it is that darned hard to find anything in these books. The warband rules fight for space alongside rules for 40k, WFB and WFRP. A reference sheet would be worth doing if you were to run an ongoing campaign. Another grumble is that sadly the WFB3 rules don't work well with the skirmish idea behind warbands. The temptation is to scavenge parts out of Mordheim though we would like to keep the game as faithful to the original vision as possible.

We played a game on the weekend. My warband of an ex-chaos dwarf sorcerer and disciple of Khorne verse the twined magicians of Chaos undivided. Things got off to a good start and then went down hill. I mentioned wargaming kharma in my last miniatures post. It was out in force this game.
Look we have terrain now.

The scenario was a race to a bridge. The river was flooded and the ground around the bridge was dangerously muddy. If you crossed the bridge you could cut the rope and leave the other warband stranded and at the mercy of a band of Knights Panthers.

Warble Guts warband
Warble Gut's mighty warband boasted 6 beastmen and 5 hobgoblins. For some reason the hobgoblins had bows though there really was little point in firing with their terrible ballistic skill.

The leaders of the opposition
The opposition were two wizards devoted to the nebulous concept of chaos undivided. Being undivided was a bit of a power down as you missed out on deity specific chaos rewards. WFB3 spell casting rules are a bit weird. Because both wizards had less than 12 magic points they had to pass an intelligence check each round to cast a spell.
One Khorne Stomping coming right up
Things started well enough. I quickly learned that hobgoblins with bows are a stupid idea. My beastmen rush forward ready to engage. The tentacled messy model, based on an old inquisition model if I'm not mistaken, whipped out a scroll and ruined a perfectly good Khorne stomping.
Things go wrong for Warble Gut.
The scroll summons a greater demon. My opponent had nabbed a random roll on the magic item table for the bargain price of 6 points. This turned out to be a scroll, it could of been something crazily powered like a frost blade so I guess there's that. The scroll was a random one and it just so happened to summon a greater demon. Remember earlier when I said I liked random tables?
Demons are tough
The demon goes on to destroy everything. There was some real confusion about how the demons fear radius works. I'm still not sure but was arguing for a generous interpretation to my warband (old habits die hard). I couldn't hurt the demon without a magic weapon and after two rounds of free hacks Warble Gut and his hobgoblins were paste and the beastmen had panicked and buggered off.
Warble Gut was only knocked out.
Gaming Kharma eh? One of these days I will have finished paying for my powergaming childhood and the dice gods will let me win a game or two. The warbands rules are generous and so none of my team were killed though a hobgoblin did suffer brain damage.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Settling debts through robbing the dead

'There was no real danger, well except for the dragon.' - Burke the man at arms

“I can explain the sword.” Burke would need to do some fast talking to keep his wife on side. She'd met him at the door to their hovel before he'd had a chance to hide Ugh's bastard sword.  “Milgos needed another hired blade so I said ‘why not?’ I’ve held the torch long enough and the struggle with the giant rats proves I have what it takes. Besides I wasn’t in any real danger, at least not this time. Let me explain.”

Burkes wife’s stare was softening; thinking he might get away with it, Burke recounted the expeditions events. “It wasn’t long before we found Urgat’s orcs. Fang smelt them out. Ugh and his dog are always snarling at the pig-faced bastards but the boss thinks the orcs are useful fodder. I see his point, they did help us kill the manticores. They didn’t take much convincing and we’d soon pushed them to the front. Milgos was insistent that we find the treasure some crazed gnome had talked about. He had some expenses in town he needed to settle. Being a wizard is expensive with all the pointy hats and costly quills and ink. Regis the gnome had babbled about a room full of the dead and piles of treasure. He hadn’t seen the room but he’d overheard the orcs talking about it. The word of a half mad gnome seemed good enough for Milgos and sure enough the gnome was telling the truth.”

Wights stand no chance against Janna the cleric.
“So we headed west and trounced some shadows and walking corpses. Our scrapes with the undead were trivial thanks to our priest Janna and I can assure you I was in no danger. At one stage Fang started shaking and whining at the sight of some odious artwork. He strained at his leash trying to retreat but Ugh held firm."

"It wasn’t long before Milgos found the secret treasure chamber. Inside there was this dead thing with hate filled eyes guarding three chests. It shrugged off the orc’s spears and snapped one of their necks. Then a terrifying thing happened, the dead orcs eyes started glowing and it rose from the dead. Things looked bleak till Jana’s god stepped in causing the abominations to cower and flee. Betty, Ugh and Janna finished the creatures with their enchanted weapons. The chests were trapped with gas and poison needles but we soon had them open. Milgos was so happy to see the piles of coins that he did a little celebratory dance, there must have been enough to pay off his debts.”

It seemed Burke’s wife was warming to his career as a low risk adventurer. “As you can see my love, no real danger. Well accept for the dragon." With that single word his carefully crafted tale came crashing down. "Now don’t give me that look. I don’t think the boss is mad enough to fight it. And if we do I’ll make sure there are plenty of orcs between me and it. Ablative meat-shields I believe they are called. Trust me I haven’t died yet.”

Level 2 of the Tunnels of Enlandin

Monday, 12 March 2012

Grubs, bad meat and singing ladies

Master says bite bad things so I bite the bad things. Sometimes they are tasty.’ - Fang II

Fang II barked a greeting and Regis Twiddlefingers, the recently rescued gnome, turned in surprise for evidently he understood the hyena’s growls and barks. It is thought that gnomes can speak with creatures of the forest, though it is a commonly held misconception that this only applies to badgers and stoats. Here was the opportunity for a unique take on the groups adventures. ‘Ugh is my master. He is a good master. He takes me down into the tunnels all the time. It is fun chasing things and biting them. I bite who the master says to bite. Today I bit many things.”

“The tunnels smell good, like blood and fresh death. The shouty one with the long cat ears was being noisy and bossing people around. He smells too nice, like he is always taking baths. Fang hates baths. I got to bite one of those tasty grubs. I like the soft wavy face best. Yummy. I felt sad the grub head broke off so quick but I got to eat delicious soft face bits. Master doesn’t like the face bits. He went all cold when they touched him and I had to lick his face till he started paying attention. Master woke up covered in slobber but he didn’t mind. Master is good like that.”

“Pointy ears kept shouting and bossing people around. We walk through tunnels. All tunnels look the same to Fang. We find some crazy men. I bite some of them. They are full of black blood. Tastes like bad meat. Their claws hurt Fang and master says 'Go back Fang.' Fang felt bad leaving master but Fang does what he’s told. Fang is a good dog. With crazy men dead we stop to catch breath. Small one says words that made Fang feel better and Fang’s wounds close. Fang likes the small one.”
Winged helmet lady

“One of the girls starts singing. She found a metal hat with bird wings on it. I like chasing birds but I wouldn’t chase this lady. She is good at stabbing but also a coward. I know I ran from the scary lizard things that screech real loud. That hurts Fang’s ears but the lady ran from a spider the same size as a Fang. Both ladies look and smell the same. Now Fang can tell them apart; coward wears a winged hat and is always singing, she sings so much it hurts Fangs ears. I think master also doesn’t like her singing because he always makes a sour face when the lady sings. Brave one is brave and stabs lots of things. The brave one stabs the spider and looks mad at coward who looks like she is going to cry.”

“Poor coward lady and brave lady have a fight only it’s not a real fight instead it’s with lots of blah blah noise and yelling. Fang starts barking FIGHT, FIGHT but the girls don’t understand. No one understands Fang. Girls must be from the same litter, they look the same and both smell like steel and early morning tavern floor. Both fight for shouty pointy ear though winged helmet looks like she wants to do her own thing now. All rooms look the same to Fang but soon we find orcs. I smell blood. This is were we find you small one. Orcs were hurting you but winged helmet lady saved you. Maybe she is brave after all. Pointy ear yelled at the orcs and some fell down sleeping. Master says bite them so I bite them till no more are moving. Coward girl must just be scared of spiders because she killed plenty of orcs. Pointy ear started bossing a captured orc around. The orc must not have said the right things because pointy ears gets so mad he cuts the orcs head off. He seems shouty and mean but girls like him. Fang isn’t worried though. Fang has a good master. He does what he is told. Fang is a good dog.”

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Carrion Crawlers, underground rivers and rats

'No follower of mine gets left behind.' - Milgos as he goes to confront the mighty corpse grubs

Burke the porter and current torchbearer to Milgos sat at the dinner table with his family. His wife had made a hearty stew. They were eating well lately thanks to the coin he brought in as a retainer. In between mouthfuls he told his wife about the latest foray. “Normally we don’t go without the half orc but the boss was itching. He kept saying things about his untapped magical reservoir. Mages eh? First we poked around the churches but the reputable ones don’t go in for dungeoneering. The disciples of Set would, but their price was too steep; something about Milgos’ life being forfeit or some such. Can’t trust a Settite anyway, at least that’s what my ma always said. So the boss says 'Bag it', then he takes out that odd ring he recently looted of the elf. 'This,' he says to me, 'will make me invisible and I will sneak around the place nicking folks gold. It’ll be easy, trust me'. It weren’t easy and we all very nearly died. Things went wrong from the start.”
One of two Carrion Crawlers

Burke looked at his kids and frowned. “You lot better head off to bed. The tale that’s coming isn’t fit for little ears. And don’t worry about your dad, nothings killed me yet.” The kids reluctantly left the room and Burke continued “We made it all the way back to the first level. The statue at the entrance keeps calling the place the Tunnels of Enlandin or something like that. Milgos decides to go kills the spiders in the south so that’s where we head. He’s bought plenty of oil because the solution to most problems is fire. We take a shortcut through some rooms we haven’t explored. Behind the first door we see some tentacled grub monsters slobbering all over a paralysed hobbit. Milgos charges in with his swords. I yelled out 'Boss, what are you doing! Use your magic!' But he didn’t listen. Next thing you know he’s paralysed. I ran in and grabbed him and hauled him to safety while Betty and Beatrice drew steel and went and charged in. They didn’t last long and soon I was cowering under a table as far from the monstrosities as possible. I figured we were done for but then Milgos shakes off the paralysis and goes roaring back. He doesn’t leave anyone behind. Well except me. He said to hide till he came back so I stayed under the table with a blanket thrown over my head.”

“After a few minutes Milgos came back and said everything was alright. He’d saved the girls but didn’t save the hobbit that looked half digested by the time I saw him. Milgos reckoned that the carrion grubs were smart, closing doors and setting ambushes, only problem for them was that Milgos is smarter. He blew the creatures apart from range with his wand. He never gets tired of his wand, always blazing away. The creatures had some treasure and so did the hobbit. Turns out the hobbit’s name was Opi, it said so on his coin pouch. I might ask around the taverns to see if he has family, I’m sure they are worried. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but they have a right to know.”

Burke got up and ladled himself some more stew. “In the end we made it to the spider room. Turns out there were no spiders in there but that didn’t stop Milgos and the girls setting the room ablaze. You should have seen the look of disappointment on the bosses face. Still there were some coins lying about in the chamber and Milgos says help your self. You could tell he was spoiling for a fight so he sets us marching north. There we run into an orc ambush but Milgos saved us with a timely sleep spell. The orcs didn’t have any treasure, which really made Milgos mad. He was so mad that he got careless and fell into a pit trap. It was all up to the girls and me. Betty threw down the rope she’s always carrying and they lower me down to look for the boss. The pit was deep and ended in a raging underground river. I was scared then. Milgos was gone and there was nothing we could do. We had to get out of here.
While the ladies were hauling me back up a rat swarm attacked us. I had to join the melee.”

Burkes wife gave him a stern look. “Now you know I said I’d never risk myself but this was different, I had no choice. I clouted several rats with my trusty torch and Beatrice and me saw the vermin off, but not before they had downed Betty. Lucky for us Boss had given us a healing potion to hold onto in case he fell. We used it on Betty and she sprung up as good as new. We raced for the exit and thought at one point we were done for. I saw in the flickering torch light two figures one clanking around the other levelling a bow at us. Turned out they were fellow adventurers, nice sorts really. They escorted us back to the stairs. We met up with Milgos on the journey home; the river had swept him along till he hauled himself up onto a bank. The lucky sod found a quick exit back to the surface so now if we delve we can head straight to the lower levels. Handy.”

Level 1 - Tunnels of Enlandin

Level 2 - Tunnels of Enlandin

Monday, 5 March 2012

Elves in the dark and a swift escape

'Ugh was pretty mad so we threw chunks of ghoul at him.' - Betty

Betty gave the stranger a measured look. He looked harmless enough, probably wouldn’t last more than a few minutes in the caverns. She took a long draft of her ale. “Well stranger, if you’re buying I’ll tell you about our latest expedition. Milgos, my employer, was still as weak as a kitten. He’d tried to rest but well… have you ever seen a fish out of water? Thrashing around as it gasps for breath. Yeah that’s how Milgos looked as he tried and failed to sleep. Burke, the torch bearer, had to piggyback him when we figured it was time to go. Lucky for Burke elves are light. The elf had this idea that a secret door was close. Turns out it was just a pit trap and the bulky half orc took a tumble. He was really mad about falling in to the pit. You could hear him at the bottom of it cursing up a storm and hacking into things in his furry. We had a bit of a laugh and started throwing things like ghoul chunks into the pit so they would land on him. After a bit we decided to get him out.”

Betty patted the coiled hemp rope at her side. “I always carry rope for just these sorts of occasions. Beatrice and I started hauling him back up when a bunch of orcs comes round the corner. They start bellowing at us to surrender, Milgos bellows back and in the end it comes to blows. We put the orcs to flight then haul up the fighter as quick as we can. Turns out the half orc was carrying his mangy pony sized dog with him on the way back up, no wonder he was so heavy.”

“We don’t know where we are so open the closest door which leads into a pitch black room. In it lurked an elf, who went down quickly under the fangs of Fang. Fang is the name of Ugh’s hound. Imaginative types these half orcs. We loot the elf and press on only to come across a statue that comes to life. It chases us all the way back to where we started. We ended up hiding behind a secret door till the beast left.”

“With Milgos sick things were desperate. We needed to find a way out fast. The elf figures we should follow the orc blood. He reasoned orcs wouldn’t normally be this far underground and they must’ve retreated to the upper levels. He’s smart. It turns out he was right. Following the blood trail led to stairs going up. Lucky for us no beasts were near to hear our cheering the discovery of ascending stairs, or if there were, they were smart enough not to tangle with us.”

Gnome statues are bad news
Betty drained the remainder of her ale. The stranger nodded to the bar keep and her tankard was swiftly replaced. “Where was I? Oh yes ... running. We bolted up the stairs taking them two at a time. We followed the winding corridors. At one point we came across a room full of cobwebs. We hadn’t the heart to go in. Spiders are never good news. Another room we entered had the evilest looking gnome statue in the centre. Ugh got cranky just looking at it and started hitting it with his sword. Eventually he realised he wasn’t wrecking the statue, just his blade, so he quit. The gnome got his revenge though. When the half orc went to leave the room, the gnome shot him in the back. A quarrel was lodged between Ugh’s shoulder blades. Ugh is like an ox though, he just shrugged it off and kept going. He didn’t even stop to remove the bolt. We eventually came across some familiar corridors and raced to the surface as quick as we could. Milgos is well again, though Ugh is still whining about needing to talk to his dog or some such nonsense.”

Betty staggered to her feet, all those ales had gone to her head. “Best be off. Milgos will be waiting. He’s headed back underground and he’ll need my sword. You can join us if you like?" The stranger blanched. "Nah, didn’t think you had the spine for a delve. Thanks for the drinks stranger. If the gods are good I’ll be back in a day or two with more tales.”