Monday, October 11, 2021

Wine Cellars: Rumors abound, what have you heard?

a sight to behold

"I heard his eyes bulged and veins popped out upon his forehead! Then his stomach rumbled like a great peal of thunder, his pelvis gyrating as if it had become detached from his small body!!"

"The poor gnome was clearly demented and babbled about a White Canoe that would take him to the promised land, but the adventurers paid him no heed...."

"Just a week ago my cousin said he caught sight of something quite odd in the sky over to the west."

"Perhaps the gnome wasn't so crazy?"

The shape

"I hear ole' Radcliffe is up to something. A dark sahpe with glowing lights has been spotted just after dusk near the hamlet of Hemlock." 

"There's been tale of the restless dead as well. I'd not be caught outdoors after dark near there!"

"Both Radcliffe and Sindy-Loo have been asking about for items re-claimed from the Wizard's tower up at the old castle. But I don't think anyone has made it in there yet. Or at least if they have no-one has returned to tell the tale."

the Wolf

"A large and vicious wolf has been on the prowl across the moors between the old castle and the village of Marqest. I hope you're smart enough to stay in at night." 

Castle Marqest

" The secret underground has been hard at work again. You can sometimes hear them doing their work right under our feet."

"I'd swear that some of the old castle has even been repaired. It's like something has breathed a new darkness back into that terrible place!"

the Ship

"The fishermen swear that a strange ship has been coming and going from the sea-cavern."

"That can't be anything but bad, I'll tell you!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Wine Cellars: A quick delve & quicker coin!

 This was a follow-up game to the "A call to Hunt" adventure. this took place on 9/6/21.

Our players were:

Joe P. - Hagar the Sinewy Barbarian & Leonard the Mage.

Steve - Rook the Thief

Sal - El Muerte the Luchador

Two days have passed since the group returned from their jaunt in the Black Crag foothills. We find ourselves in a corner booth at the Dog-n-Bone tavern in Marqest village proper. Hagar, Leonard and Rook are sharing a pitcher of ale.

"You need to learn to pace yourself when carousing." stated Leonard flatly.

Rook slumped back into the booth, his eyes still bloodshot. "I owe Master Blaster a goodly sum for covering me during my excesses."

Hagar leaned in and poured himself another mug, "There are ways to get yourself out of debt, and one of them is within a half days walk."

The hung over thief covered his eyes with his left hand as his right clenched his own mug. "Hmm, I would suppose you mean the ruins of castle Marqest eh?" 

"We do." chimed both the Magic-user and the Barbarian.

Rook took a long swig of ale, wiped his chin and looked the pair in their eyes. "A one-armed warrior told me he had encountered frogs as large as cows up there. I'd just as soon avoid that type of thing!"

 "Well..." started Hagar leaning in towards Rook as Leonard continued. "We have some information ourselves recently gleaned from a very drunk and talkative young Short-beard about a way in. that remains yet mostly undiscovered."

The haggard thief looked at his companions a he finished his drink and then poured another. "Let me guess you'll charge me small fee for this information right, taken from what I can return with?"

The pair sat back in the bench a most offended look on their faces! "Rook! we're practically cousins, I don't charge family!" grumbled Hagar, as Leonard shook his head in the negative.

"No, we will go with you to watch.." the Barbarian elbows the Mage in the ribs, "ouch! And to help as needed of course!" finished Leonard casting a sideways glance at Hagar.

Rook looked deeply into his mug and sighed.. "Alright let's do this, but we keep it between us alone. Agreed?"

Leonard put his hand out flat on the table, followed by Hagar who put his hand atop the Mage's. Rook then placed his atop the other two, "Agreed." they all said in unison.

The next morning a good hour before dawn the trio set out from the village following the path up the coast to the ruins. They took great precaution to leave as quickly and quietly as possible.

Unknown to them a dark figure watched from the woods as the three passed and once they were just out of sight the cloaked figure rose and followed them in the pre-dawn darkness.

About an hour after the sun rose the three men found the secret they sought. They descended below the moor into a handcrafted chamber of stone no more than five by five feet. In the torchlight a natural tunnel disappeared into the darkness and by Leonard's reckoning should take them towards the ruins of the castle. As the men proceeded single file down the passage, their boots became damp and the scent of stagnant sea-water greeted their nostrils.

After about twenty minutes or so the tunnel opened into another small chamber with an iron bound door as the only exit. There was a bit of trash and detritus spread about on the floor. While Rook checked the door for traps and such, the Mage discovered a small tin pie-plate, a mason's hammer, a pouch of dwarven tobacco and a pipe. 

"Would seem our dwarf informant was correct. Their party must have indeed passed this way!" Leonard inspected the pipe and put it away with the pouch for later use.

 A slight scuffing sound caused the trio to turn and look back into the tunnel from whence they had just emerged and they saw a large figure step into their torchlight!

"Uncle!" exclaimed Hagar, loosening his grip on his sword hilt. Leonard and Rook turned to greet the Luchador who was now adorned in a savage cloak stitched from the hides of the Black Goats they had slain on the prior quest. A pair of goat heads acted as shoulder pauldrons from which the cloak hung and the whole item was fastened with a silver chain!

"What foolishness do you three embark upon?" Inquired El Muerte. He stood to his full height now that he had exited the tunnel and sniffed the air... "I scent the odor of evil, Goat to be precise!"

Leonard squinted and pointed at the wrestler's regalia, "Your wearing it aren't you, goat I mean!?"

"Eh, what's that you say el Mago?" the Luchador seemed to pose for the three men as if showing off his newest accoutrement.

In unison all three leaned forward and took in the sight of the Black Goat Cloak, as they complimented El Muerte on his most fearsome look.

Once the luchador was filled in on the scheme to get Rook out of debt, they opened the door and descended a set of rough stone steps down into a dripping puddle filled natural cavern. About another twenty minutes was spent looking around before the group found sign of a secret door in the wall of mid-sized chamber. 

Dungeon cleaner

It was El Muerte that happened upon a hidden iron ring that sprung the secret door so they could enter the dungeon proper. In the dungeon itself the group found a recently secreted trail of iridescent slime that ran between a pair of archways that were their only choices of exploring further. After some experimentation on the part of the Luchador, it was determined that taking the left hand passage was the way to go... they all hoped they were not about to run into what is sometimes referred to as the Dungeon cleaner... and fortunately they did not.  

keeping track of light!

Since arriving at the entry chamber true dungeon crawling had taken over. We were already tracking the torches life span, but now resource management came to the forefront. The Thief even used his lantern when fine work like lock-picking and trap searching actions were done. The party was also aware of time spent below ground as they were wary of the tide coming in and possibly flooding all or parts of the way they came in. No one wanted to be stuck in the dungeon overnight!

Around the midway point of the second hour in the dungeon the party came upon a pair heavy doors opposite each other in a dead end hall. Through ingenuity and Thief skills they were able to open a door to what seemed to be a sort of tomb or burial chamber. Of note was the wooden coffin bound by rusty chains, an assortment of ancient rusted weaponry, tattered banners, a pair of small chests and a rotting tapestry showing a battle between what appeared to be elves and an army of dark figures led by a Bat-winged Helmeted warrior on a black horse. Rook discovered a hidden pit trap just within the chamber by almost falling in it, but his cat-like grace saved him from plummeting into darkness.

Leonard did not let his curiosity get the better of him and retreated to the hall with Hagar, while Rook wrestled with his feelings about robbing the dead. El Muerte was kneeling by the bound coffin attempting to see if anything inside would answer his whispered questions. And the chamber grew considerably colder over the span of a few seconds.

To the surprise of no one, the coffin began to rattle and expand straining the chains around it! Rook grabbed a small chest and made for the exit, while the Luchador pondered whether he could take-on whatever was contained within!!! The upper chain snapped and the wood began to splinter as the wrestler leaped out the doorway which was quickly slammed shut by Hagar and locked by Rook with a silver key they had used to gain entry.

A terrible racket echoed from the chamber and a dreadful sense of chill and terror overtook the party who now turned back the way they had come and ran with great speed back towards the exit!  The thought that the dungeon cleaner may have wound its way back in this direction crossed the minds of all but overwhelming sense of dread and the bone-chilling cold that seemed to be following them spurred the party on to the point of recklessness!!!

Like waking from a terrible nightmare the group exploded from under the ground back into the light of day feeling very lucky to have narrowly avoided what they surmised would have been terribly horrid and soul-crushing deaths. 

Upon returning to the village, Rook discovered he had come away with enough reward to settle his debts, share with his friends & family and live to adventure another day.

THE END.....


Monday, September 6, 2021

Wine Cellars: A call to Hunt!

 Another entry in the long Wine Cellars campaign, This time we find a small band of adventurers heeding the call of a fellow compatriot to seek out evil and face it down!

This game took place 9/5/21

Our players are:

Sal - El Muerte de Tijuana: the Luchador

Joe P. - Hagar the Sinewy Barbarian & Leonard the Mage

Steve - Rook the Thief

Will - Master Blaster (Dwarf) & Mister Blister (Dim-witted Fighter) 

Black Crag Mnts.

The adventure begins when El Muerte gets a solid lead from a Fur-trapper about a large Black-goat sighted in the foothills of the Black Crag mountains. The Luchador then summons his closest allies.. family.

Within 24 hours Master Blaster the dwarf of the Thirty One League clan and step-brother to El Muerte arrives with his faithful warrior companion Mr. Blister and a bonus, the ex-brother in-law Rook!

Rook was married to El Muerte's sister Rosalita but there was a falling out and we'll go into that another time.

Hagar the Sinewy Barbarian and nephew of the wrestler also arrived with his friend Leonard the Mage in tow.

With the party assembled El Muerte led them into the Black Crag foothills in search of the elusive Black Goat of Marqest.

As dusk approached the party began to grow weary as no sign of the goat could be found. But then the bleat of the creature echoed through the foothills! The group quickly found a small game trail and followed it up into the mountainous crags. 

With less than an hour of daylight to spare the party comes across a cave entrance with a small encampment just outside it. They watch three diminutive cloaked figures milling about doing chores when a fourth cloaked figure drives a Stone giant out of the cave by lash of whip! The giant proceeds to upend a pair of containers he carries into a pair of wooden wagons. The whip-master drives the giant back into the cave as the trio begin to prep the wagons for travel.

Master Blaster uses a large sack to create a makeshift disguise that just may pass him off as one of the cloaked figures below. With this hastily concocted plan the party carefully descend from the trail and creep towards the encampment.

Master Blaster emerges from the brush and approaches the trio, in common he says he's been sent to fill in for the night-shift and begins to make small talk. All the while he has his hand-crossbow ready just under his sack disguise. Meanwhile El Muerte has climbed up tree to get height advantage and Mr. blister & Rook have taken up positions to flank the hooded ones. Hagar and Leonard are hanging back just out of sight.

Common tongue seeming to get no response from the cloaked figures Master Blaster resorts to a word or two in Dwarf and instantly draws the ire of the creatures! They reveal obsidian daggers and rush to attack!! Blaster is quicker and falls back firing his hand-bow but misses! The Luchador leaps from his perch and delivers a fatal Elbow Drop on one of the knife wielding foes! Mister Blister emerges from the brush and clips the one chasing Master Blaster with his great club flipping it head over heels, this blow is followed by a crossbow bolt pinning it to the ground from Rook! The remaining cloaked figure attempts to flee into the cave but is stunned by Hagar using his Glistening muscles technique then cut down by the brawny Barbarian.  It is soon discovered that the slain creatures bodies have dissolved into a black goo, and the wagons are filled with raw silver ore.

Dark Gnome

Upon inspection of the wagons it is surmised that these fellows are most likely using the stone giant to mine the silver here. Master Blasters suggests they hitch up one of the wagons and head back to the village. El Muerte is conflicted as he wants to confront the Black Goat! Frustrated the Luchador attempts to get the party to look about for proof the Black Goat is here or nearby. After a few minutes of rooting about the camp nothing connected to goats is found, however Rook reports that he hears the sounds of mining work and the faint bleat of goat from within the cave itself!

Rather than dashing into the cave, a plan is concocted involving lantern oil one of the wagons laden with ore and a flaming donkey! 

Mr. Blister and El Muerte take up positions on either side if the cave entrance, Rook stands back crossbow ready as  Hagar and Leonard hide near the second wagon. Master Blaster astride the first ore wagon now doused in a good quantity of lamp oil ignites the donkey's tail with a torch then steers the careening animal straight into the mouth of the cave!! At last instant the surprisingly nimble dwarf leaps from the wagon setting it afire with said torch and takes his position strapped to Mr. blisters back and arms his hand-bow.

The flaming wagon & donkey barrel into the cave disappearing into the darkness. A few seconds later loud crashes, yells and a weird screeching are heard. This is quickly followed with billowing smoke and the sound of many feet heading to the entryway.

The sun has now set and the party have only the dim flicker firelight from inside the cave to see by. When the first creature emerges from the cave! The Wrestler hesitates with a camp chair held over his head to better see what his target is, Mr. Blister swings his large club and breaks the rear leg of a large bug-like thing that comes scittering out of the smoke! The thing begins spinning in a circle flailing about with whip-like tail ending in an odd bony protrusion. 

Beetle-us Giganticus!?

"What in the Hells is that!" cries Rook, bringing his crossbow to bear. 

"Hit it again!" commands Master Blaster to Mr. Blister, just as the pair dodge a flailing tail swing!

Muerte watches the cave wary of more targets emerging.

Rook yells "Clear!" and fires a bolt into the bug-thing putting an end to its screeching, "Well now we know what was making those noises..."

Just then a pair of cloaked figures emerge from the smoke, one wields a club and the other an obsidian dagger as well as a small brass trumpet. A scuffle ensues resulting in the club wielders gooey demise, but the second gnome sounds his trumpet and everyone especially El Muerte are taken quite by surprise!!

The sound from the trumpet is an unmistakable bleating that sounds just like the Black Goat! The group are flabbergasted as questions pop off around the table!! Are the gnomes in league with the Black Goat? Is the goat even here in the mountains?? Does the Black Goat command the Gnomes??? One thing is for sure though the party as whole agrees, THEY NEED THAT TRUMPET!!!

A brisk melee ensues with the Gnome deftly dodging incoming attempts to subdue him! He even resists the effect of Hagar's Glistening Muscle technique and sounds the trumpet a second time as he turns to retreat back into the cave!

El Muerte however is able to trip the gnome and break his ankle as well, allowing the party to capture both him and the brass instrument. El Muerte's blood is raging and he attempts to interrogate the captive gnome, but succeeds only in turning it into a gooey mess in his fists! Leonard however identifies the deceased bug as a "Beetle-us Giganticus, obviously." The size alone and the fact it emerged from a cave seem to be enough for the rest of the group to agree to the Mage's knowledge on such things. "And as for this," Leonard peers at the brass trumpet, "some sort of creature mimicry instrument, rather like a Duck call hunter's use I would say."

"See the Goat thing was a ruse to scare the curious away from their camp here." states Master Blaster, "Now we can make off with the other wagon, let's go!"

"Argh!" grunts El Muerte, stomping the ground! "I am duped, this was a waste of ...."

From deep in the cave a cacophony of stampeding hooves and horrid bleating is followed by sight of a half-dozen black goats charging out of the fiery cave!!!

El Muerte grins widely and bellows, "Not one but six black goats! Meet my fists you demon beasts!"

The party is bowled over by the charge of the Black Goats and a terrible battle ensues!!

Master Blaster was dismounted from Mr. Blister and the dim-warrior was severely Nut-busted twice by the hell-spawned goats!

Rook was head-butted near to death and saved only by the quick teamwork of Hagar and Leonard.

All the while El Muerte laid about himself with punches and kicks dealing death to his hated family enemy!

In the final moments of the battle Rook bulls-eyed a de-horned goat that Mr. Blister had sorely wounded, and Hagar who was down to his last breath protecting and KO'ed Master Blaster was aided by Leonard using his patented Magic Side-Winder missile to explode the final goat!!!! 

The wounded were quickly loaded onto the remaining wagon along with the carcasses of the slain goats and the party returned to town where much carousing was had, and Rook constantly griping about how he was almost head-butted to death by a goat!!