Friday, October 11, 2013

049 - One big, elaborate dwarven joke.

The Entrance of the Numarii dwarves.

Walking knowingly into a trap

The gate under the mountain was adorned by two large statues of drakes. The gate itself was made of solid steel. At its center, there was a ring. Two flames shone like bright beacons atop pillars from which the mechanism of a draw bridge was secured. A canal crossed the hall, some 3 meters deep. Dark water was flowing from left to right through a pair of grates.

The company looked around in suspicion. Irina was the first to cross the bridge. She approached the steel gate and kicked it. Her toes absorbed the shock: no sound was heard. This door was in a wholly different league as the last three. Arnadil drew from his past as a fortification engineer to inspect the draw bridge. He noticed that the floor off the far wall was in fact a platform. The platform was made of slates and a steel structure that was bracketed at both ends and off the pillars opposite to him.

While Halin was prompted to inspect the structure, Nilppi got Thannolf to help him fathom the canal. There was only about a foot of water, and the current was marginal. Nilppi lowered himself with the help of a rope. The water was foul smelling and oily on its surface. Nilppi didn't made much sense of the steel structure underneath the floor until Halin got himself down there. The old masterdwarf had carefully removed his armor before taking a dip. It became obvious to him that the brackets holding the platform were moving components of some larger mechanism. Halin noticed that the platform would probably swivel down if the mechanism was triggered.

Nilppi, unable to grok dwarven engineering, headed to the upstream grate. At first, he thought that he heard a noise and stopped. He stretched his neck and drew his torch though the bars to see farther outward. A shockwave of roars rammed into the grate. A wall of claws and bony faces pressed senseless against the bars. Nilppi stepped back, some other members of the company readied their bows.

By the time that they had decided what to make of this. The brawling ghouls had turned against each other and drifted out of sight. The clamor died down. The company turned to the gate. The whole thing smelled bad. The choice left was walking into the trap, or go home.

Waddling in the wading pool

They knew that things would have to get bad before they got better. Two ropes were strung across the hall. They ran between the dragon statues: one on the ground and one at chest level. A third rope was tied to the ring on the door. Kasper, Nilppi and Irina got themselves on the ground-level rope such that they would not fall down if the platform was to collapse. The rest of the company returned to the near side of the canal to tug on the third rope. The pulled on the ring, which slid out smoothly. 

Nilppi jumped in style.
Predictably, the platform swung down into the water and the grates opened at both ends. The gate clicked open. The three company members balanced themselves against the wall. Kasper grabbed the door and slipped beyond. The disappointment was sharp when he realized that the gate lead to a room the size of a closet which housed the trap's mechanism. Nilppi dodged the claws of the ghouls by shoving Kasper into the closet. Irina considered jumping in, but one of the ghoul was in the process of chewing up the rope on which she stood. 

 Nimrodel and Finbert were shooting freely into the pit. Arnadil took a leap and knocked a ghoul off balance on his way down. When the rest of the company realized that he was now in close combat against 6 raving ghouls, they began jumping in as well. Nilppi first, then Kasper dove with his longsword swinging. Thannolf took a flying jump and snapped with his knee the head from one of the ghoul's spine. The ghoul fell in the water, then stood back on its feet. 

The melee was made of an unstructured mix of good and bad guys. Arnadil got clawed on his chest and blood started to drip from his armor. His attempt to retaliate was more spiteful than effective: his sword hit the ground and bent his wrist at a questionable angle (critical fail, crippled hand for 30 minutes). Thannolf, still hot in the collar from his super cool entrance grappled the ghouls from behind and tugged at its head. Halin hit hard but failed to silence the beast which fell only after Thannolf sliced its head with his sacred Lossoth knife. That was the last one still standing.

The company discovered that the ghouls didn't want to stay down. They had to hit them until their bodies were mechanically destroyed. Once that the smallest parts of the ghouls were too small to be articulated, only a floating mess of writhing flesh was left drifting to the right grate with the current. 

The Palantir commission as a novelty act

Climbing out of the pit was a trivial affair, but would lead only back to the entrance. A summary exploration of the upstream hallway lead them to an octogonal room. The room appeared to be the bottom of a chute set at its center. The chute was a mere 1m by 1m, but how far above was its origin couldn't be estimated. Nilppi tried to climb up but slid back down. By tossing a grappling hook, the company figured out that the chute was about 3m long. However, the grappling hook didn't caught on anything near its upper rim. 

The company decided in the most bizarre chain of reasoning to make a human pyramid so that the lighter and more nimble member could climb up to the chute's top. To convince the GM, there was threat to fetch video of cheerleader teams performing said action. The GM finally got swayed when the company threw into the plan the trunks used to make the battering ram. Kasper, Thannolf and Kasper were to make the base, supported by the battering ram's components. Arnadil, towering over his 7 feet made the second layer which took the construct into the chute. Nimrodel, nimble and light elf climbed up, then the hobbits. Irina managed to pull herself to another octogonal room. The beams from the ram were passed upward and Irina secured the ropes. In about 15 minutes, even the stoutest company member had made it up to the top.   

The only way out was a set of stair, running parallel to the stairs that lead to the hall. At the top there was a dead end and two small levers. Irina spotted in the dust many recent tracks of orcs and evidence that the far wall swiveled around a hidden axis. Pulling on the level brought them at the foot of a new set of stairs and to another secret door. Crossing the second door took them back behind the third wooden gate that they had rammed through about an hour ago. Irina tracked a large number of orc tracks in the dirty floor. Evidence of outdoors dirt could also be found. The company headed up the stairs and noticed a cool and fresh draught coming from higher up. 

The subterfuge revealed

The company walked through a storage room turned into an orc barrack. Beyond the door, they found themselves outdoors on the other side of the mountain. A path ran down into a close valley. It went back up at the other end, some 1500m away from the door. A camp of orcs was bustling with activity on the mountainside. Beyond the camp, there was another gate carved into the cliff. Arnadil used his looking glass to scan the area. He estimated the number of orcs to 50 to 70. He also noticed higher up on the cliff side there was an elaborate opening. 

The complex behind them seemed to be a decoy to mislead invaders. Halin shrugged at the Numariis' strange ways (The players are actually thinking that the Numariis could be some kind of duergars). The company was acutely aware that it was just a matter of time before the orcs would notice the death of all of their gatekeepers. Irina and Finbert, the resident hobbits in the company, volunteered to scout along the valley road. Finbert stumbled, lost his cool and came back to the gate right away. Irina kept on climbing, identified a hidden spot on the mountainside, but determined that she would be detected if she dared going further. 

The company pondered whether wait 15 days to get the support of Sir Galdor and his the soldiers of Gondor, or somehow trick the orcs into a winnable battle near the exit of the false Numarii gate. 


  1. Didn't Arnadil jump in first? I recall Nilppi jumping in to assist him.