Not too long ago, I became enamored with the World's Largest Dungeon. I tried to run it with my party, but due to a laundry list of difficulties, that didn't work out well. So, instead, I figured I'd make myself a party and write up some fiction for it. Then, because of a (minor) obsession with the way MSPFA work (the artist/author gives the audience a situation, the audience suggests a course of action for one/multiple/all characters), I thought I would do it that way.
I started this on a smaller private forum, but I'm migrating it here because you guys are awesome, and I figured you would appreciate it just as much.
WLD Part I:
The room was in the near-twilight that many of the races using it preferred it. It was twice the size of a normal briefing room; the half farther from the door hosting the usual table-and-chairs setup, the nearer half hosting a curious array of storage items: a bookshelf, several armor and weapon stands, a crate, a cage of sufficient size for a single man-sized humanoid, an armoire, and a potion rack, all empty.
The sole occupant, a man of the usual size and weight, with an unusually pale skin tone, white hair, and piercing blue eyes, paced. He looked up at the door every few minutes, then ducked his head again. His armor, the light, mobile leather that his kind preferred, made not the sounds that thicker or metallic armor may have made, nor did the carefully-weighted sheath at his side tap against his thigh as so many warriors' weapons did. A person listening at the door could have heard neither his step nor his breathing, only knowing the room was occupied by the telltale lighting.
The door opened, and he turned gracefully, hands behind his back.
In strode a pair of armed and armored beings. They both wore studded leather, hers the utilitarian, bare style that so many adventurers preferred, his a more cultured armor that looked as though it could double as formalwear in more militaristic nations, both colored a deep black, his with cream-colored accents at the wrist and neck. At both of their left hips, they wore a weapon; his a morningstar with the symbol of The Fanged God, hers a plain rapier with a wrapped hilt. As one, they smiled at their host, hers a slightly predatory showing of teeth, his a more welcoming smile.
Their host held out his hand, but before he could welcome them, the man opposite him said, “I am Brother Robert, and this is my sister Sandra.”
Recognizing the ploy as one meant to catch him off-guard, their host smiled and said, “Geoffrey of Laundanin,” shaking first Robert's hand, then Sandra's. “If you'll please have a seat, our siblings should be arriving soon.”
“Why are we here?” Robert asked as he and Sandra seated themselves, taking off their backpacks to rest them at their feet.
“I prefer not to repeat myself,” Geoffrey demurred, maintaining his hospitable smile. Robert quirked an eyebrow in annoyance and reached for the knife at his belt, beginning to clean dirt from under his fingernails as if the delay didn't affect him.
Soon after Brother Robert and Sandra arrived, the door opened once more, this time to admit a tall man in scholar's robes. He carried no visible weapon, shield, or pack, only the slight bulging of his pockets suggesting he came with anything at all. “Am I late?”
“No, Brother Altamir,” Geoffrey stepped forward to offer his hand, guessing at the identity of the shaved-head monk, “you are, in fact, early.”
“Oh, excellent,” Altamir gave a relieved grin, taking Geoffrey's hand. His grip had none of the preternatural strength of their kind, but he looked far less pale than Geoffrey had come to expect from his siblings. If one could ignore the too-sharp teeth presented in his smile, Altamir could easily pass for one of the races closer to mortality.
Close on his heels came a man with a set of backward-curled horns on his head and a crossbow strapped to his back. He irritably shouldered Altamir out of the way, taking the seat farthest from Sandra and Robert and crossing his arms and legs. Geoffrey frowned. His build and facial features were enough to indicate he was one of them, but last he had heard, Niki of Highwatch (the last man on his list) had neither goat horns nor a surly disposition.
Altamir frowned after Niki, nodding to Geoffrey before taking a seat near Sandra.
As Geoffrey turned to the door, he watched it stretch, expand, and widen to accommodate the bulky figure who strode through it. The figure was easily seven feet tall, wider than two of of her smaller siblings, with an appropriately-sized suit of spiked scale mail and a spiked chain wrapped about her waist. She wore no helmet, her long white hair tumbling down across her shoulders and tangling with the rust-colored spikes.
While it had been easy for Geoffrey to find information on Altamir Dolcrindel (what little there was to the man), Brother Robert, and Sandra, Niki of Highwatch and the woman known only as The Ravager were more of a mystery. Altamir was a lay monk of a small temple devoted to The Mathemaster in Brandobia, Brother Robert and Sandra wandered Khorvaire spreading the word of their father, but all Geoffrey had been able to find about Niki was that he was a withdrawn scholar of the order of Highwatch, and of the Ravager, only her name. It had taken him the better part of a year to convince Highwatch to let Niki go, and he had stumbled upon the Ravager purely by accident.
“Since we've all arrived, I can start the briefing,” Geoffrey announced, moving to the head of the table.
The Ravager looked disdainfully down at the seats surrounding the table. “They'll expand to support you,” Geoffrey offered quickly, realizing how many human chairs she must have broken in her life. She snorted and crossed her arms, moving to stand at the table without seating herself.
“As I've told most of you, I am Geoffrey of Laundanin. Laundanin is a small section of the Guild that concerns themselves strictly with ancient mysteries. Of late, we discovered something far older than any of us had yet seen.” Geoffrey reached into his belt pouch to retrieve a rolled map, then unfurled it onto the table in front of him. “On the plane of Bolajo, we recently discovered a massive underground complex. We estimate it extends for miles, but for reasons I'll explain shortly, we haven't been able to confirm that.”
“Bah,” growled the Ravager, “what does this have to do with me? I was called in the name of our Father, and our Father has naught to do with dungeons on planes no one has heard of.”
“He does,” Geoffrey said calmly, as though the massive woman's objection were no more than the whining of a spoilt child, “surely you have heard the legend of how our Father was lain into a tomb no one but His children could hope to reach?”
She bared her teeth. She knew as well as he that the legends of their Father were whispered into all of His children's ears as they slept.
“We believe this structure is, or contains, his tomb.”
His siblings were quiet for a few moments, then the Ravager pounded her fist onto the plate of metal on her chest. “I will find the resting place of our Father and awaken Him with the blood of His enemies!”
Geoffrey nodded, humoring her. “Of course you will. All of you will.”
“How could they-” The Ravager swept her hand to indicate her smaller siblings. “-free our father? Only one respectable weapon among them, and this one-” she pointed directly to Altamir, “wears no armor nor carries a weapon!”
“Brother Altamir is a holy man, a scholar,” Geoffrey said soothingly, “Brother Robert is a priest of our Father, Niki of Highwatch is also a scholar of ancient lore-” Niki snorted and rolled his eyes, “-and Sandra has talents that will prove useful if you are to get past the traps and tricks our Father has left to deter those unworthy of calling him back.”
The Ravager made a deep rumbling noise in the back of her throat, then nodded, subsiding. “I will listen. Make it quick; I have no patience for petty details!”
As if he had never been interrupted, Geoffrey said, “when our Father walked the planes to sire His children, He left clues that would guide us to His resting place. It has taken us many years to piece these together, but all signs point toward Bolajo. There are two doors in the single chamber we have access to. We at first tried to send a scouting animal, but none have come back. The doors open into blackness, and anything that passes the doorway itself cannot be retrieved.”
“When do we leave?” Niki asked, bored.
“Tomorrow,” Geoffrey said, “after you've all had a chance to rest from your journeys. There are beds through that door-” he pointed to a door to the right of the one they entered through, “as well as a small altar to our Father.”
“One more thing. The Guild has asked that, in exchange for using this room as our base of operations, we test out a new item they have been working on. It is a small magic crystal that will allow transportation back and forth directly from the Guild to the crystal and back. They say it will require a week to recharge, but will last for twenty-four hours once activated.”
“Spell power,” Geoffrey explained, watching as the Ravager rolled her eyes and shifted her weight. “Anyone with magical abilities can power it, whether arcane or divine. It must be in a secure, closed-off room. For some reason, if any of the doors or windows to the room are opened, it ceases to operate for another week.”
“Are we done here?” Robert asked, rising from his seat in one fluid motion, Sandra rising not a breath afterward. “Our journey was considerably longer than some of the others'.”
“We are,” Geoffrey nodded, stepping out from behind the table. “Tomorrow, I will provide the crystal and escort you to Bolajo.”
I didn't get any feedback on that one, so I just continued with Part II:
Brother Robert, follower of the Fanged God, found that he quite liked the planar city Geoffrey had invited them into.
After a messenger had brought them word that Geoffrey would be delayed until afternoon, Robert and Sandra had gone looking for their meal. The unspoken plan had been to play with their food until the time came, then slake their thirst in the throat of some poor, unsuspecting soul.
It was even easier than it had been back in the great cities of Eberron; it seemed that being in this city implied membership in the Multiversal Guild itself, and since members knew they had several methods of recourse against wrongs done them, it encouraged an amount of trust. All he and Sandra had needed to do was leave the door to their private bath open, then encourage the pretty young elf woman to stay when she walked in on them.
The resultant event had been satisfied more than one of his hungers, and Robert had walked away wondering if he had just sired one of his Father's grandchildren. That led to a brief contemplation of how many grandchildren his Father had now, and if they were anything like their sires or grandsire. He shook off the thoughts when they arrived back at the room Geoffrey had arranged for them; he would have plenty of time to address the issue of his children once his Father was returned to His full glory.
The first thing Sandra saw upon entering the room Geoffrey had invited them to was that Altamir had not left. In fact, he appeared to be in the exact same chair they had left him in, reading the same book as before, and Sandra sneered inwardly. If he hadn't left, he hadn't fed, and if he hadn't fed, he would be weak during their journey.
"Hello," Altamir greeted them without looking up from his book, turning a page.
Robert made nice, but Sandra rolled her eyes, looking into their sleeping quarters. Niki lay on his bed, seemingly asleep, as he had been when she and Robert had left. She narrowed her eyes. Their kind need only sleep a few hours a day, and even when Robert took his time consulting their Father it took him no more than just past an hour to recover his energy.
The goat horns on Niki's head from before had made her suspect his ancestry, though Robert seemed to accept that his other similarities to them made him kin. It was true that she could no more think about striking him than striking Robert (the very thought made her physically ill; an effect from their Father's mandate that His children stand as one), but there was something different about him, something wrong.
The door behind them opened, and Sandra turned to see the Ravager enter. She was closely followed by Geoffrey, whose hair and clothing were windblown.
"Are we all prepared?" He asked, face flushed with the health of recent feeding.
Sandra turned to yell for Niki, only to find him completely equipped and walking toward the door. She narrowed her eyes once more. Sandra had some of the sharpest ears known to man or beast, and somehow he had managed to move without her hearing. The more she learned of Niki of Hightower, the less she trusted him.
Niki stretched his arms over his head and scratched himself as he walked into the briefing room. He felt empty, and understood that his pact with Amon had expired over the course of the night. He would need to make another before they got into trouble, but that wouldn't take up much time, so he didn't worry about it.
Geoffrey blathered on something about the plane they were going to and how he had arranged for their transport, and gave the crystal to Altamir, explaining that it was a crystal of limited planeshift. It was shaped in that same over-complicated sigil he had seen when he had been planeshifted onto this pocket plane, the one that was all over the market stalls and corridors.
Unlike Altamir, who blushed (blushed) his way through explaining that he hadn't yet fed that day, Niki had paid a silver to a disapproving but cooperative priest of some god of healing to allow Niki to drink the small amount of blood he had required for the day. The scent of blood he picked up about his siblings told him they had as well- except for Altamir, of course.
After the Ravager (a scary woman by anyone's standards) had harrumphed her way through Geoffrey's explanation, they left the room and walked through the pocket plane.
The array of different skin colors, armours, weapons, and clothing found in the planar city wasn't particularly interesting to Niki. He hadn't seen such things during his time in Hightower, true, but they held no appeal for him all the same. The extraplanar beings he had seen and bargained with far surpassed a minotaur with an axe as big as Niki was, or a succubus sashaying her way into a bar.
The portal they arrived at, that caught his interest. The portalmaster, a plain man whose only distinctive trait was his thick accent, touched a set of runes on the wall, and Geoffrey ushered them through before Niki could study it more.
Heaving a sigh, he walked through.
The trip through the portal was too loud, too bright, and made her think too hard, so the Ravager ignored it.
The wizard who was to transport them to the resting place of their Father was a small, cowardly man who needed not even her imposing bulk to make him into a twitching mess, so the Ravager ignored him.
The woman who met them there had nothing useful to say and smelled as though her blood would not be nourishing, so the Ravager ignored her.
The walk through the caverns had no fighting, no useful explanations, and contained nothing but damp rock, so the Ravager daydreamed of blood and conquest, and ignored the journey.
Then they arrived at the first chamber, and she unsheathed her weapon and chuckled. The time for blood was at hand.
Geoffrey's voice cut into a rather fascinating discussion Altamir was having with Geoffrey's attache (a somewhat-plain woman called Katie something-or-other) about Cyrrian wine. He himself had never been to Eberron, but according to Katie, Cyrrian wine could not be bested throughout the planes.
He refocused to realize that yes, the caverns had given way to a rather spacious chamber made of worked stone and lit only by scattered torches. At either end of the chamber (which measured roughly seventy-five feet by seventy-five feet by his rough judgement) was a doorway that led into pure darkness.
"Take this, Altamir," Geoffrey held out a vial containing a crimson liquid Altamir could only assume contained blood. His mouth watered at the sight, and he held out his hand to accept the gift before he could consider whether or not he wanted to. "If you cannot find another meal before the time comes tomorrow, drink it. Elsewise, it will keep for one week before spoiling."
Geoffrey turned to regard all of them, his assistant standing just before him. "Once you pass these doors, I don't know what you'll find. Godspeed, siblings, and may you find what we all search for."
He turned on his heel, beckoning Katie to follow him. The lanky woman nodded to Altamir before following Geoffrey out.
The five turned to regard the two doors.
Feedback I got on Part II:
(the ">" means "command"; it tells the character in question [or scene in general] to do something.)
>Altamir: Attempt to discuss strategy and logistics.
>Ravager: Walk off.
The Ravager gave the silence no time to stretch, walking toward the door to their left with purpose. Niki stepped forward, kneeling on the floor and pulling a piece of chalk from a belt pouch. Sandra watched him suspiciously, narrowing her eyes and crossing her arms over her chest. Brother Robert mirrored her movement, watching the Ravager inspect the seemingly solid wall of darkness just beyond the doorframe.
"Um," Altamir managed, clearing his throat. "I... I had a thought."
Only Robert seemed to notice or care, The Ravager staring into the door to their left, Niki continuing to draw a sigil onto the floor, Sandra watching him. Robert raised an eyebrow imperiously, and Altamir forced himself to continue.
"I... do not know our capabilities. I myself am a scholar, possessed of knowledge of many dark creatures' weaknesses and habits-"
The Ravager snorted and fished a silver from a side pocket of her backpack, throwing it into the doorway. It disappeared the second it crossed the threshold, and in the few seconds it took for Altamir to regain his composure, no sound of it hitting the ground could be heard.
"I know you, Brother Robert, are a priest of our Father," Altamir met Robert's eyes, one hand brushing the prayer books in his pocket to calm himself. "And... um... Ravager, I believe your talents speak for themselves."
She spared a look to glance over her shoulder, bouncing the masterfully crafted spiked chain in her hand and baring her teeth. "They do."
"But I must admit, I do not understand why we would need two scholars, nor what 'talents' you possess, sister." Altamir swallowed, suddenly very aware of a bead of sweat rolling down the side of his neck.
"You talk too much," The Ravager snorted dismissively, "let us move forward, to glory."
"A moment, sister," Niki spoke up, finishing the chalk symbol he had been drawing on the stone.
He stood, placing the chalk back into his pouch, and closed his eyes. Niki took a deep breath, and screamed, in a voice that pierced his siblings' beings to the core, "Amon, Void Before The Altar! Answer my call, if you wish to taste the forbidden fruit once more!"
The air above the seal exploded in a ball of black smoke. Altamir, Robert, and Sandra took a step backward, eyes fixed on the ball. Robert and Sandra's hands went to their weapons, while The Ravager charged forward, chain already spinning in her hands.
A ram-headed, serpent-tailed wolf, black as night, emerged from the smoke, teeth snapping mere inches in front of Niki's face. "Blasphemer! Son of a pig and a dog! You dare call upon Amon, He Who Defied The Long Sleep? Speak now, lest I cast you down!"
"I do so dare," Niki said cooly, bored already with Amon's antics. The Ravager's chain whipped through the figment's head, emerging on one side only to come back to her without seeming to make contact. "If you continue to act as a spoiled child, forgetting that I am the only person in hundreds of years to call upon you, I will banish you and call upon Leraje. Her tongue is less sharp, and her demands easily met."
"Speak not her name!" Amon growled, crouching threateningly. "I will have not that cowardly slut infesting my chosen!"
Niki raised an eyebrow. The Ravager grumbled, realizing at the same time as her siblings that whatever Niki was speaking with, it was illusory.
Amon paced for a few seconds, then snapped his head toward Niki. "Why have you left Hightower? Did they yet realize your heritage, and cast you forth?"
"My reasons are my own, Amon. Will you calm yourself long enough to be of use, or will I be calling on L-"
"Silence!" Amon snapped his teeth again, stamping a paw. "I will assist you for now, Niki of Highwatch, bane of the heavens, but only because your insolence pleases me."
"It always does." Niki fell to a knee, eyes still on Amon. "Come, let us bask in the scent of our enemies' roasted flesh."
Amon roared, then dissolved as quickly as he had appeared, the nebulous smoke drifting out of the seal to surround Niki completely. When it dissipated, Niki's eyes glowed forge-bright for a few seconds, then he stood, exhaling harshly. His breath came with the slightest hint of fire, smoke curling around his teeth only to drift upward and sink into the ram horns that grew from his scalp in a matter of seconds.
Altamir's jaw was hanging open, Sandra was glaring fit to make a lesser man cry, The Ravager looked disgruntled, and Brother Robert had a thoughtful expression. The silence lasted a few moments, while Niki unslung his crossbow from his back, loaded it, and then demanded, "well? Shall we move forward, or continue to stare?"
"Are you prepared?" The Ravager tapped one of the ends of her chain against her hand. Niki nodded, and she turned once more toward the door. "Then we leave."
"Wh-what was that?" Altamir stammered, reflexively tracing the Mathemaster's sign on the front of his robes. "That was no summoning spell I've read of!"
Niki snorted. "It wasn't a summoning, fool, it was pact magic. Clearly there are things enough in this world beyond your reading to warrant another scholar."
Robert chuckled behind them, and they stepped through the door.
The chamber beyond was larger than the one they left, extending only 35' in front of them, but extending past the edge of their vision to the right. There were two doors that they could see, one directly in front of them, and one thirty feet to the right of that. The wall was to their immediate left, the ceiling ten feet above them, and the stone was unmarked and smooth as far as their eyes could see.
The Ravager looked the room over, once, before striding forward to the first door with the clear intent of throwing it open. A cough, faint but audible, froze her in her tracks. It was followed by a few more, each sounding as though the afflicted was attempting to stifle the cough and failing.
The five turned toward the noise, listening intently.
Feel free to suggest commands, or comment, or ask questions. These characters aren't entirely optimized or 100% RAW; they've been given a few minor DM taps to make them more interesting characters, as opposed to killing machines.
Last edited by nersxe : 10-12-2012 at 06:14 AM.
Reason: did the research this time
Re: World's Largest Dungeon: Lots and Lots of Blood
(In Which Everyone Rolls Critical Hits or Critical Fumbles, With Very Little In-Between)
Sandra moved into action. With one hand held palm-out toward The Ravager (whose teeth were bared in the general direction of the coughing noise), she walked cautiously toward the source of the noise, booted feet making not a whisper of a noise.
Altamir swallowed, racking his brain for any possible indication that this could be other than what it sounded like: a sick humanoid. There were certainly spells (quite a few of them) that could reproduce such a sound, and that would mean something intelligent enough to use such spells, something Altamir would have to plan around. To the best of his knowledge, there was nothing supernatural that made such a sound (at least, nothing that had a signature sound of that sort), so if push came to swords drawn, he would likely be useless unless one of his siblings was wounded.
The Ravager growled softly, a steady grating sound that let out enough of her impatience to keep her from immediately attacking whatever it was. Bloodthirsty though she was, stupid she was not. There were things in the world stronger than she, though she loathed admitting it.
Picking her way across the stone, Sandra was one with her movements. She drew her rapier carefully, noiselessly, fangs sliding down in anticipation of what weak, sick being she would find at the other end of the room.
Huddled in a corner (the room, curiously enough, bent about in a near-L, curved around the smaller room they had entered from) were five orcs clutching their battleaxes. They looked as though they had initially tried to take a defensive position, but had mostly succumbed to whatever caused the coughing. Wan, barely paying attention to their surroundings, and still trying to hold off on their coughing, the orcs were no match for Sandra by herself, let alone her and her siblings.
Still, in the interest of sharing the feast with at least Robert, Sandra turned and headed back.
Appearing at the edge of their vision, Sandra held up five fingers, then lifted her sword to indicate they were armed. The Ravager's pupils dilated, her growling grew louder, and Sandra, realizing there was likely no holding her back, stepped to the side to allow her sister to attack.
"Blood for the blood God!" The Ravager bellowed, charging toward the other side of the room.
Sandra heaved a sigh and hustled after her, watching the orcs on the other side of the room stand and brandish their battleaxes. Altamir, startled, stared after them both before remembering he could (possibly) be of help and jogging behind them. Robert and Niki, not quite as quick as their siblings, followed behind as best they could, Niki pulling his crossbow from his back and preparing to call upon Amon's abilities if he had need.
The Ravager swung her spiked chain in a deadly arc, one of the prominent blood-red spikes catching the first orc in the side of the neck and ripping his throat out. Sandra caught up just in time to dodge an axe swing, watching the other three orcs mob the Ravager and cut her down.
Seeing the Ravager fall, Altamir rushed toward her, Robert at his side. Niki took aim and shot the crossbow, the bolt hitting one of the orcs square in the chest.
Sandra stabbed the orc that Niki had just shot, making sure it wasn't getting back up, as the other three focused on her instead, coming within a hair of slicing into her armor.
Altamir skidded to a halt, kneeling next to The Ravager and hurrying through a plea to the Mathemancer. His god heeded his prayer, the negative energy knitting together the sliced-open flesh underneath his hands. Robert stepped in front of him, swinging at an orc only to lose his grip on his morningstar, the weapon flying into a corner.
Niki reloaded and shot a bolt over Altamir's head, the shot striking true and bolt lodging itself into an orc's shoulder. Sandra plunged her rapier into the same orc's stomach, turning to duck out of the way of one orc's swing as the other scored a hit on Robert. Altamir repeated his prayer, touching the Ravager again and breathing a small sigh of relief when she stirred and looked as though she would like to stand up.
Robert drew his dagger, slicing open one of the orc's cheeks. Seeing a clear line without one of his siblings, Niki inhaled deeply, calling on Amon to imbue his exhalation with fire. The second-to-last orc went up in flames, screaming as his flesh roasted before dropping to the ground. Sandra finished off the last orc with a neat flourish, then looked out into the room to make sure nothing else had been attracted by their skirmish.
With a quick reload of his crossbow, Niki trotted in to check the orcs for signs of life. Robert found one that was still breathing (if barely), and pulled it toward the newly-revived Ravager. She immediately grabbed the orc and plunged her fangs into his neck.
Sandra, Robert and Niki, turned outward, watching the room. Altamir swallowed hard against the sudden influx of saliva in his mouth, then took one of the dying orcs for himself, unable to stop himself from drinking until the orc was pale and lifeless, and he was well-sated.
The Ravager laughed and clapped him on the back, hauling herself to her feet. "I shall make a killer of you yet, little brother."
Altamir licked his lips after the last traces of blood, trying and failing to disguise a shudder. He couldn't help but respect his "big sister", but there was no doubt that she scared him, and he knew he was neither the first nor the last to feel that way.
Sandra brushed her elbow along Robert's side, pointing out two doors they hadn't noticed while fighting the orcs. He nodded, thoughtfully tapping one of the spikes of his recovered morningstar. Niki snorted, barely holding in his impatience. His bolts were broken beyond repair, he could smell roasted orc, and he was more than ready to move on from this room.
"Bah." The Ravager kicked at one of the orcs. "Bad iron weapons, armor torn asunder, and daggers I would give not to a halfling to defend himself."
"Then how, praytell, did they overwhelm you so fast?" Brother Robert asked with a smirk.
"Luck." The Ravager bared her teeth, daring him to continue questioning her.
"Um, so... which-which door shall we take?" Altamir asked, unconsciously licking his lips again in a futile quest for more blood. "There are two near the door we came in, and two on this side of the room."
Re: World's Largest Dungeon: Lots and Lots of Blood
(In Which Knowledge Checks Are All The Rage But Perception Checks Are Failed Rather Soundly)
The Ravager picked a door and walked to it. It was one of the eastern doors, roughly twenty feet north of the other door set into the eastern wall. Her siblings followed in her wake, first Sandra, then Altamir, Robert, and finally Niki, who kept a watchful eye to their rear and both hands firmly on his crossbow. The Ravager gave neither them nor the door a second's consideration before reaching out for the rusted iron ring and yanking it open.
Inside lay the broken body of a male orc armored identically to the bodies in the room behind them. He lay face-down, arm outstretched toward one of the corners of the room, presumably for the spear that lay snapped in half there. Even standing at the door of the 25'x40' room, it was easy to see that his neck was a bloody mess, and that his thick leather armor had been sundered in several places.
The Ravager spent a few seconds at the door, her eyes scanning the room and nostrils flaring. Sandra, standing just behind her, also watched and listened. When the Ravager was satisfied nothing in the room was going to take a swipe at her without her noticing (a task that took considerably less time than Sandra would have spent on it), she strode inside, kneeling beside the orc's body to search it.
Sandra slipped into the room as well, heading straight for the open door to their left. She hadn't heard anything from it, but she knew all too well that there were many ways to move without sound. Robert joined the Ravager at the corpse, taking a knee on the opposite side of it. Niki took up a post watching the room they had come from, stepping just far enough into the room that anything trying to come in after them would get the full effect of Amon's fire. Altamir, seeing that both doors were covered and the space around the orc was crowded enough as it was, instead went to investigate the broken spear.
Neither Sandra's eyes nor her ears revealed anything at all in the room she looked into. The 25'x25' room had another door on the wall just in front of her and to the left, out of her line of sight. It was also open, and while the paranoid scout in her wanted to venture forward just a little more and find out what lay beyond, she was too canny to give into the urge. Though the only things they had encountered thus far were fairly weak orcs, that by no means meant everything here was that weak. Father would hardly allow his resting place to be guarded by anything less than viciously unforgiving guardians, after all.
The Ravager, unimpressed with the ripped armor and complete lack of other weaponry on the orc, snorted and stood, walking toward where Altamir was inspecting the broken spear. Robert, more interested in the cause of death than implements of death, used his dagger to carefully shift the armor pieces to inspect the wounds more thoroughly. As best he could tell, the wounds were punctures, each one driving deep. There were several small holes around the large ones, and they seemed to be concentrated in places where there were major veins; neck, thighs, forearms.
"Altamir," Robert called, sitting back on his haunches to look to his brother. "A moment, if you will?"
Altamir, having found nothing of interest about the spear (it looked like every other spear he had ever seen, only broken), stood, leaving it to the Ravager. "Of course."
The Ravager picked up the broken pieces of the spear, eyeing them critically. The workmanship was shoddy, and it had been broken in the wrong place for her to get any sort of use out of it, even as a makeshift javelin or dart. Neither shaft nor spearhead bore any sort of maker's mark. She quickly judged it useless and dropped the pieces to the ground, walking toward where Sandra stood poised on the threshold to the next room.
"These wounds," Robert kept an impassive expression and tone of voice, using his dagger to point out the more prominent punctures, "what would you say they are from?"
"I'm not familiar with medicine," Altamir admitted, reflecting that when they emerged he would have to fix that, "but these look very much like the feeding patterns of a stirge. You see here," he pointed to the smaller puncture wounds and rents in the armor surrounding the large wounds, "is where they attach themselves to their prey, and the deeper one, here," he pointed to the larger wounds, "is where their proboscis penetrates. As we do, they drain blood until they are satiated, then leave to digest what they've taken. They're small creatures – no larger than the common housecat – but they fly in groups. I don't quite remember how large those groups become..." he pursed his lips, spending another few seconds to try to recall the information, "...other than that the largest concentration of them is called a 'storm'."
"Mm," Robert tilted his head, his eyes tracing the patterns Altamir had pointed out. "I am quite the opposite. I know nothing of these stirges you speak of, but the places these... proboscis struck told me that they were something meant to extract blood, as did the lack of blood underneath the corpse. If you look," Robert gestured to the placement of the orc's wounds, "the affected areas are those we ourselves might also strike to feed the quickest. Are stirges often found underground?"
"I don't believe so," Altamir stood, glancing at Niki to see if he had anything to say. When Niki remained silent, pointedly watching the door without so much as a glance at his sibling, Altamir continued, "I believe they're native to warmer climes, and this is hardly that."
"Perhaps pets of some sort, then- or a failed attempt at keeping them as such," Robert speculated, standing as well. "Shall we continue?"
As always, open to suggestions, comments, questions, corrections, etc.
Re: World's Largest Dungeon: Lots and Lots of Blood
(In Which The Binder Is Useless For An Entire Turn And Everyone Is Surprised)
Instinct, honed by years of living on the knife's edge of low-class Eberron society, told Sandra to look up. Her eyes scanned the ceiling, tracing the lines of stone, as the Ravager walked in- and only then did she see it.
Then, a second after she saw it – what seemed to be a cloak with tentacles – she saw nothing at all.
The five of them heard a thump. The Ravager felt something whip past her ear and lashed out at it, feeling the end of her spiked chain impact, then slice through flesh. A series of high-pitched clicks rang through the room, then ceased abruptly.
The darkness lifted, all of them on high alert.
At the Ravager's feet lay two halves of what appeared to be a cloak with tentacles and eyes. The tentacles were much of a piece with a squid's tentacles; suckered and prehensile, with far darker coloring than the rest of the 'cloak'.
Altamir moved first, walking toward the lump without fear. "It is... was... a darkmantle. They use magical darkness to blind their prey, using echolocation to navigate in their own darkness." He knelt next to it, grabbing one of the tentacles and using it to flip the darkmantle over. "These make much more sense. They are often solitary, and live almost exclusively underground. I am not sure how it would have gotten in a man-made structure, but perhaps there are more entrances such as the one we used."
"Perhaps," Robert agreed, rolling his neck to crack it. He looked to Sandra, who nodded and continued forward into the room the darkmantle had come from.
Sandra had only gotten a few steps into the room when she held up a hand to stop her siblings. There was something... wrong about the room. She listened hard, then tapped a boot on the floor.
"Sound moves strangely here." Sandra tapped her boot again, frowning as the echoes came back different than they had the first time. "Be cautious."
The room to the north was near-identical to the room they had just left: they were both roughly 25'x25', both possessed of two open doors. Like the room that had previously held the darkmantle, the door on the far end was on the opposite side of the room than the door they had entered. Sandra suspiciously eyed the ceiling, as did the Ravager after her, and Altamir after her.
If there was anything on the ceiling, Sandra's eyes failed her once more, but her ears did not. She and Robert stiffened at the same time, Robert asking, "do you hear-"
Through the doorway came a sea of rats.
They washed through the room, first targeting Sandra – who attempted to skewer some of the rats on her rapier and failed – then the Ravager, who was too surprised to react at first. A rat nimbly climbed Sandra's rapier, finding purchase on the metal against all reason, as the rest moved on to Altamir and Robert. The rat sunk its' teeth deep into Sandra's arm as Robert smashed his morningstar into the swarm, crushing quite a few of the rats on the head of his weapon. More rats bits and clung to the Ravager, Altamir, and Robert, drawing blood even as they were swatted off or fell.
The Ravager roared and lay about herself, her spiked chain tearing into the mass of rat bodies even as they continued to bite into her, Sandra, Altamir and Robert. Sandra, bleeding freely, ripped some of the rats off of her body, throwing them hard into the northern wall.
Altamir, recognizing the red glint in their eyes, yelled, "they have fiend blood! They run in sigil patterns!" as he tried to keep the rats out of his pockets, where he suspected they would eat his prayer books. Robert, gritting his teeth against the pain, swung once more- only to have his weapon fly out of his hand and into the mob of rats, quickly overrun by them. Niki hovered just out of the rats' reach, unsure what he could do to help since his bolts and fire had an equal chance of hitting his siblings with the rats in close proximity.
The Ravager, eyes alert for the patterns Altamir spoke of, drove her spiked chain into the swarm of rats once more. They stopped moving, the rats clinging to the party members stilling and falling off one by one into the pile of their dead.
Shaking off the dead rats, the Ravager retreated a step and sat down heavily. Though she had looked into the face of death many times and laughed, doing it twice in one day was somewhat taxing. It was no weakness to admit that you had fought the good fight, only to let it stop you from fighting once more.
Sandra grimaced as Robert closed first his own wounds, then hers. She closed the northern door, catching sight of a hallway that ran east and west before it shut. As she moved across the room to shut the door behind them while their wounds were evaluated and closed, Altamir cast a spell she recognized as inflict minor wounds on the Ravager, then himself.
Niki, untouched by the confrontation, began to walk the perimeter of the room, idly looking for secret doors or hidden traps as his siblings fussed. He had little knowledge of the way such things were hidden, but despised laying idle. He kept an ear out, not wanting another unpleasant surprise to rush upon them.
Altamir and Robert healed their charges, the Ravager laying hands upon herself to erase the last of her bitemarks, then expended the last of her gift on Altamir. She waved off his thanks, standing and hulking at the door impatiently. Their efforts resulted in a completely-whole Ravager and Robert, and everyone else was at functional levels.
"I am nearly out of energy," Altamir admitted. "And I do not know enough of medicine to stop someone from bleeding out should we get into another confrontation."
Robert frowned and retrieved his morningstar. Though loathe to admit it, he was very nearly tapped as well, though he knew enough about binding wounds to save a life if called upon to do so.
Niki tapped the stock of his crossbow impatiently, commenting, "Amon's fire requires skill, not spellpower."
Sandra spoke not at all, though she knew her brother well enough to know he was worried, which caused her to be worried in turn.
The Ravager snorted but didn't lower herself to comment upon the situation.
Re: World's Largest Dungeon: Lots and Lots of Blood
(In Which The Author Is Impatient To Get Back To The Action, So Posts VII Hella Early)
"I-I think it best if we rest," Altamir said reluctantly. Though it felt as though nothing much had been accomplished, he was at far less than his best, both physically and in terms of spellpower.
"If you insist," Robert shrugged, less than gracious. "I must mention, though, that I require a full night's sleep and some time to pray if we are to rest. Anything less and the results are... unpredictable."
"As do I." Altamir's hands drifted to his pockets, fingers brushing over the cover of his most-used prayer book. "I-I apologize for not being available for watch, but-"
Niki snorted. "Whatever. I'll be awake." He eyed Sandra and the Ravager, not wanting to ask them to switch with him at some point, but not keen on the idea of taking the entire watch by himself.
"I will take the second watch," the Ravager rumbled, standing and turning her imperious gaze on Sandra, "and you, the third."
Sandra rolled her eyes but nodded.
Niki tromped toward the room behind them, throwing over his shoulder, "I'm not staying in here with the rats."
His siblings followed, Sandra closing the door behind them. Robert pushed the remains of the darkmantle into the room beyond with the toe of his boot, pulling the door closed by the iron ring attached to it.
The Ravager took off her backpack, setting it in a corner, then began to methodically remove her armor, setting each piece down in the order she would later be putting it on. Altamir, devoid of any belongings save his prayer books and the phial of blood Geoffery had given to him, removed the outer layer of his robes and arranged it on the floor in a rough approximation of a pillow, lowering himself to the stone.
Sandra paced the outside perimeter of the room, first casting detect magic(which confirmed for her that Altamir and the Ravager indeed had spellpower inside them, and weren't charlatans like those Khorvarian gnomes, but showed her nothing amiss in the room), then detect secret doors. It wouldn't stop anything with teleportation abilities – or anything that was already in the room but otherwise undetectable – but it confirmed that nothing mundane would barge into the room unexpectedly.
"You're a mage?" Altamir blurted out as Niki settled in to watch one door and Robert prepared his bedroll.
Sandra rolled her eyes and handed Robert her backpack so he could use her bedroll as well. "Everyone else uses some sort of magic, and you're surprised I do. Some scholar."
Altamir flushed. "I-I thought you a fencer."
"Being a mage doesn't stop me from being a fencer." Sandra started to tap the walls with the tip of her rapier, keeping herself busy. She had ruled out magic and hidden doors, but there was only one way of finding nonmagical compartments and traps, and that was checking by hand.
Chastened, Altamir closed his mouth and attempted to sleep, the Ravager's near-instant snores lulling him to sleep.
When the room was as secure as she could make it, Sandra lay down next to Robert, setting her rapier where it was within easy reach. Both of their armor was much less bulky than the Ravager's, making it, if not comfortable to sleep in, at least possible without waking up feeling worse than when you lay down.
The watch was uneventful. When Niki judged about three hours had gone by, he woke the Ravager by digging the toe of his boot into her ribs. She was awake and on her feet in seconds, chain in hand and eyes wild.
Niki took a step back, preparing Amon's fire just in case, but she calmed, letting the chain go slack in her hands. Grumbling, she donned her armor, leaving her backpack where it lay. Niki took a spot near the one she had vacated, sitting against the stone with his crossbow in his lap.
When it came time, the Ravager woke Sandra in much the same fashion, not bothering to make sure Sandra was awake before tromping back to her place in the corner and taking off her armor once more. Sandra, sluggish but in motion, forced herself out of the bedroll and took up her rapier, settling in a place where she could watch the doors in turn.
Not long after, Altamir stirred, internal clock waking him. Across the room, Robert rose, beginning the process of packing he and Sandra's bedrolls back onto their backpacks.
Altamir stood to re-dress, thinking about how he would pray today. The Mathemaster required much in the way of intellectualism from his clergy, and Altamir was no exception.
Though his nature put him in a strange place among the Fraternal Order of Aptitude, his brothers (and sisters) in the faith nonetheless accepted that if the Mule answered his prayers, they could do no less than to take him in as one of their own. The single dot on the front of his robes marked him as an Initiate, and he took his duties as 23rd Initiate very seriously. It would only take twenty-two deaths, excommunications or retirements before he was a Novitiate, and with his estimated lifespan, it was a very real possibility he would gain that title.
Deciding to calculate the exact dimensions of the room, Altamir began to count the number of bricks in the walls, ceilings, and floors, measuring them as best he could.
Robert, unconcerned with topics such as the ones Altamir often dwelt upon, fastened the last buckle on his backpack and sat back against the wall, taking out his dagger.
The active worshippers of his Father were few, and even fewer of those took up the path he had. As far as he was concerned, he was the head of his priesthood. The Ravager seemed devout enough, but while she was a warrior in service of their Father, Robert was a cleric first and foremost, and very proud of that. He was the law, the holder of the stories.
With a practiced motion, he pricked the tip of one of his fingers, smearing it onto his holy symbol. Every one of his siblings took notice at the sudden scent of viable blood in the air, though they calmed when it was only a drop. Robert closed his eyes and concentrated, finding that place within himself that belonged solely to his Father-God.
Roughly an hour later of Robert 'feeding' his holy symbol and Altamir perusing his prayer book, the group was ready and able to get moving, in Niki's case quite impatient to do so.
The map has not changed, and the only change to the character sheets is that everyone's at full hp, and everyone but Sandra has full spell slots.