The following post was written by the player for Philo with contributions by Chris Fong and the player for Tesla. Enjoy!
(FYI: Gaiden is a Japanese word for ‘side-story’ or ‘tale.’ You can read more about it here, but as not all players could make it, that’s essentially what was run on this night rather than continue the previous Indigo Galleon adventure and trying to reconcile the fiction of why this character was no longer around. So it was decided that we would have an adventure where three of the characters meet for the first time.)
“Grunhilda, are you sure about your translation of Halorin’s diary?”
“Quite sure, Lord-Regent King; the cypher was surprisingly easy to solve. The only question that remains is, who should we send to recover the artifact?”
The Lord-Regent sighed. The bulk of his strongest warriors were away on city-watch business. Andrade did boast one of the realm’s finest Adventurer’s Guilds, but adventurers and mercenaries have proven to be unreliable in the past. Still, time was of the essence. The Lord-Regent was not the only one with possession of Halorin’s diary.
“If I may, Lord-Regent, I have a fairly competent friend from University whose hobby happens to be the pursuit of magical mysteries. I am sure he would be more than happy to undertake the journey to recover the artifact.”
The Lord-Regent sat down on his ruling chair, deep in thought. “If you vouch for this wizard, then please summon him, and make haste. I will also need you to go to the Adventurer’s Guild to see if anyone would volunteer for this errand.”
“At once, Lord-Regent.”
* * *
Philo had come back to the great city of Andrade for a few days. Usually, only long enough to resupply and maybe line-up some guide work. Sure, a true ranger could get by without civilization, and Philo wasn’t fond of all the abstract laws found in cities; where his snake was and wasn’t allowed, and what you couldn’t do depending on what day it was, etc. However, Philo was no fool, he wasn’t in the habit of letting pride get in the way of some well-crafted hunting supplies or a meal cooked with “spices.”
Philo also found big city entertainment to his liking. Unfortunately, the chief draw, gambling, made sure he didn’t enjoy for too long. No sooner did he find himself with some extra rupees, than they seemed to make their way over to someone else’s pile. Still, it was all fun and games to him. People got so mad about losing those little stones. Stone’s won’t keep you well fed or protected in the wild. A Ranger had his wits for that.
As Philo’s last rupee made its way over to the dealer’s pile, he was ready to become a Ranger once again. Suddenly the door to the adventurer’s hall slammed open. In the doorway stood a matron wizardess flanked on either side by two greenhorns. A female bard stood to the left, probably one of the students over at the Bard college. And staring intently to the young gentleman on the right. He must be a wizard; who else would wear all that purple?
Grunhilda called out for volunteers. “Payment is 10 rupees upfront and more upon successful return.”
Ten rupees wasn’t much, but out in the wild, it was better to travel in packs. Making camp alone was always a gamble. Philo had Whiskers to watch his back, but snakes were a little odd. Once every few weeks, Whiskers would disappear, returning once he had a full belly. Once Whiskers got hungry, there was no telling if you were on the menu or not.
10 rupees, Philo thought. I was headed back out there anyway. I might as well go with money in my pocket and someone to talk to. He looked around; just as he suspected, he was the only taker. After all, adventurers were not in the habit of escorting city-folk for paltry sums. They were after that big score, so they could be rich and buy a castle or something. Philo chuckled to himself. What would I do in a castle?
* * *
Returning to the mansion of Lord-Regent King, the terrific trio were told more details of their mission, and the world in general. In the last great War of the Realm, the civilized races joined forces to fight necromancers corrupted by their lust for power and domination. Among the most powerful necromancers, and perhaps the most mad, was Halorin, a Dwarf wizard with a knack for causing chaos. His arch-rival on the battlefield was known to many only as the Iron War Elemental, an Iron Golem that housed the soul of a powerful, nameless Dwarven warrior. During their final battle, Halorin defeated and entombed the Iron War Elemental, and teleported him away to a cavern for no good reason other than sheer madness. According to remnants of Halorin’s diary, recently translated by Grunhilda, the Iron War Elemental’s shield was also entombed. Lord-Regent King promised the party 50 rupees apiece for successful completion of recovering the shield, or at the very least ensuring it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Directions to the cave were provided, again information acquired from the diary…
* * *
Making their way through the wilderness was going better than expected. The three set out to find some old shield that belonged to some old dwarf who fought in some old war. Philo noted enough of the details to get them where they were going. It would be up to the others to deal with any magic or traps. Or so he hoped…
Another beautiful day in the forest was drawing to a close when the party spotted a campfire up ahead. Philo counted five goblins sitting around the spit roasting a squirrel and complaining about the lack of human meat. He gave hand signals to his party and let loose the 1st shot. Definitely not his lucky day. The arrow hit the squirrel, alerting all of the goblins to their presence.
Philo let off another shot. Whiskers, being the fearless snake he was, dove right in to assist. Biting the goblin in the foot ensured that the arrow hit the preoccupied goblin in the head.
Lilly busted into the camp with bravado, singing at the top of her lungs in goblin. Suddenly, one of the goblins turned and attacked his companion. Philo didn’t understand what she was singing, and was glad he didn’t, because it was her song that made the goblin turn. Both Lilly and Philo looked around. No wizard. Two goblins left, meant they had more important things to pay attention to.
Another goblin quickly met his end. Down to one, and now the wizard decided to show up. Purple blasts emanate from the bushes and the final goblin is roasted, but not before a snake that wasn’t Whiskers coiled down from a hanging branch and attacks Tesla. The group dispatches the snake as Whiskers looks horrified by what happens next: Lilly may have grown up on the wrong side of town, or just have some odd tastes, because she helps herself to some nearly raw goblin, while the other two try to figure out what to make of it.
* * *
The rest of the journey to the cave was not as eventful. Another days walk brought them to the mouth of the cave. Upon entering, they encountered a fleshy dwarf quite literally bonded to the wall. Think Han Solo frozen in carbonite, except he could talk. All attempts to free him failed, but the dwarf didn’t seem to mind. He was happy, content to remain there. Clearly evidence of the power of this mad wizard and what he had done during the ancient war.
A little ways beyond the dwarf was what resembled a frozen pool of water. Philo and his cold-blooded companion thought better than to test out the ice. Lilly on the other hand dashed out, discovering that though it looked like ice, it wasn’t slippery at all. Also, she was quickly surrounded as four flesh golems, dwarven in their sewn-up appearance, rose up through the ice. The golems split up, two attacking Lilly, and one of each on the remaining party members. Thinking quickly, Tesla turned Lilly invisible, and was quickly punished by the nearest golem. Philo attempted to ignore the enemy in front of him and help Lilly. The nearest golem ended up deflecting the arrow shot.
New round, and our team found new resolve. Lilly bashed her pan pipes into a golem’s neck and began to play, bursting its brains. Philo and Whiskers dispatched the golem who had deflected his previous arrow. Tesla attempted to use his magic missile spell, but perhaps unable to concentrate fully, it fizzled out, uncast and forgotten. Opting for physical force instead of magic, Tesla unleashed his staff on another golem, cracking its head in the process. The party worked together to dispatch the final golem. They won, but clearly paid a price. Lilly and Tesla were badly injured and Tesla had lost his magic missile spell. The party decided it would be best to lick their wounds outside the cave.
* * *
The party once again camped overnight; luck was still with them, for no creatures disturbed their slumber and they awakened refreshed and ready to trek deeper into the cave. Or they would have been, if they hadn’t been rudely interrupted after breakfast.
Four figures approached them, two of them brandishing swords, another a bow, along with a diminutive, cloaked halfling figure. After some conversation about going to retrieve the shield, Tesla shook the hand of the apparent leader and successfully charmed him with his not-as-patented-as-magic-missile-but-still-very-effective ‘Charm Person’ spell. With his new ‘friend ‘till the end,’ the two groups found themselves allied together and entered the cave together.
* * *
The expanded group heads into the cave. They make it past the stranded dwarf and the ice-pool areas without issue. The next part of the cave is a large cavern filled with stalagmites and stalactites. As the party starts making their way through the rock formations they are greeted by the sound of wings. Bat wings. Large bats start attacking the party, but they appear decomposed in appearance. Now bolstered with reinforcements, the party mows down the zombie bats. Their new “friends” took the brunt of the damage.
The forces regroup and continue into the large cavern filled with various bones. They see a tomb at the other end resting on a stone dais. This must be the treasure that both parties came for. Just as the group thinks there is only loot left to collect, Lilly runs up to the tomb; the moment she steps onto the dais, magical runes flare up, an eery green glow fills the cavern, and the bones on the ground start moving. A room full of skeletons starts to form at the feet of our adventurers. Battle ensues. Everyone fights valiantly, but despite our best efforts, Tesla’s ‘friend till the end’ indeed meets his end. The halfling disappears in the chaos.
As skeletons and allies fell in brutal fashion, Philo decided now was the time to strike, and fired an arrow at the hunter. Tesla, for reasons only known to himself, tried to interfere with the strike, lunging forward in an attempt to knock Philo down. While he is successful in altering Philo’s shot, the arrow does let loose, arcing through the air…and piercing the hunter’s throat, killing him instantly.
Luckily, there was enough confusion to cover the kill. Philo and Whiskers went over to investigate the other Hunter. Removing his arrow and making it look like the Hunter had succumb to skeleton attacks, both Philo and Whiskers rush back to join the battle. Philo reasons, Tesla and Lilly might not agree with it, but hopefully two down will prevent the intended mutiny.
Upon returning, Philo set about his next task, finding that sneaky little halfling. Philo searched high and low while the others repelled the skeletal onslaught. Finally, the battle was won. One very badly beaten-up warrior, a halfling that had been missing for most of the battle, Tesla, Lilly, and Philo stood victorious against the remaining skeletons.
Our impostor group decided that they had had enough. This was supposed to be an easy mission. Now at half their original strength and their leader dead, they decided to throw in the towel. Upon hearing this, we allowed the remaining members to join us for a cut in the loot.
It turns out that we found just the halfling for the job. He made whatever adjustments were needed to open the lock on the tomb safely without setting off any more traps. Now all that was left was to collect the treasure. Opening the tomb, they were greeted with what resembled an iron golem, nearly twelve feet in height, along with what can only be his shield, shining and brilliant in its appearance, and a curious looking tome, something they did not expect to find. Tesla’s research had taught him ways to communicate with the dead. We decided to use his new-found magical skill to ask permission to loot the tomb of the great hero of Andrade. The soul of the Iron War Elemental was fine with his shield leaving him as long as it was going to the hands of good. He had no attachment to the tome, and wondered what it could be. He certainly wasn’t the only one. Could Halorin have placed it here?
What happened next? Tune in next time on Adventures of the Adventurers of Dungeon World.