Session Report: Fantasy Computer Science!
This is the second part of a dungeon crawl. Read the first part here.
Location: The wilderness around Abingdon & a nearby Dwarf tomb
Cast: Bartholome the Fighter, Hadrian the Dwarf, Mystery the Specialist, Peter the True XXV the Fighter, Seigjagt Crowe the Magic-User
As the door swung closed, the party found themselves in near total darkness, as they had been relying on the outdoor light rather than coming prepared with a light source of their own. Only a faint glow of light from far down the tomb's central passage could be seen, implying the presence of more deserters.
While Bartholome did his best to light his lantern, the scraping sound of stone continued, somewhere in the direction of the entrance. As the lantern came to life, a large stone axe swung down, utterly smashing one of the two soldiers who had joined them inside the tomb. The other panicked immediately, dropping his weapon and attempting to run past to the door, although he had no hope of opening it. Outside Seigjagt, Peter XXVI and Mystery attempted to Peter XXV's massive sword in lever position again.
Unbeknownst to the party, opening the tomb had initiated a 10-minute timer counting down to the activation of the automaton, which could only be prevented by making an offering to the honored dead in the treasure pit. The clockwork golem, surrounded by a finely crafted and nearly seamless stone sheath, was somehow capable of incredibly complex machine logic, allowing it to know if an offering had been made, find living things, and kill them to death. And no, a wizard did not do it, because in this campaign Dwarfs are the source of technological advancement and atheistic. Yes, this is total nonsense, but hey, fantasy computer science! Also yes, the deserters discovered this and used this to their advantage.
The party, made of stronger stuff than the soldier who had in the last hour seen 5 of his friends die, did their best to fight back. After several mighty blows and Bartholome sustaining heavy wounds, they were successful. The automaton dealt with, Bartholome and Hadrian added what strength they and the terrified soldier could muster to push the door open again as those outside used the lever. The slabs ground open once again, and the party took refuge outside to catch their breath. Minor first aid was administered to Bartholome, who was wounded in both of his arms, once from a musket ball and once from the automaton.
The party went once again into the breach while the remaining soldiers watched the rear, none of them eager to head underground where murderous stone men lay in wait. Our heroes crept silently towards the light in the distance, where they heard the soft sounds of movement. Preparing a Dwarf Whisky Molotov, Hadrian tossed it up the stairs, making an opportunity for the party to charge despite the deserters lying in wait. They were able to deal with these last survivors rather quickly and set about exploring the tomb. One feature of note, once they bothered to check their surroundings, was a large stone table, filled with a carved likeness of a sumptuous feast of food and drink for the dead, should they have some kind of afterlife (the modern Dwarfs do not believe this to be true but hold these particular ancestors in such strong esteem that they created this for them). In addition to this facsimile feast, there were also several human body parts, in differing stages of rot and showing signs of having been stitched together. The players had previously encountered this character, the slasher Jeroboam from our Halloween 1.5-shot of Night of the Slashers, but either did not make this connection or were admirably capable of disregarding their meta-knowledge on the basis of having played alternate characters during that session.
Deeming a dismembered body of mild interest but no concern, they set about opening the burial chambers. Mystery and Seigjagt went back down the stairs to the passage below, interested in investigating the strange gas which had exploded earlier. In one of the chambers, they found a chest of several hundred silver pieces, and pushed the lid of the stone casket aside to reveal the Dwarf mummified within. It was garbed in a robe-like assemblage made from woven strands of iron and silver wire, nearly as fine and flexible as cloth, which they plundered. As they began to move on to another chamber, they noticed a blood trail leading from the table towards the staircase, as if something had been dragged across the floor. Checking the table, they noticed a hand was missing. They set off in pursuit, eventually finding it concealed under and some of the stone rubble in the passage and crushing it.
Bartholome, Peter and Hadrian went back up and chose another chamber, this one having suffered structural damage from the explosion below and Dwarf Molotov above. They poked around inside, but set off a small cave in below, as they were directly above the passage. Doing their best to move out without further collapsing the tomb, they decided that since the deserters were dead, they had had enough of underground exploration, killer automatons and animated body parts and were just going to call it a day. It is also possible, though unlikely, that they felt bad about robbing the tombs of great Dwarf rulers.
They took what silver they had found, about 500 sp, as well as the chest of 700 sp the deserters had reclaimed from them before, and reported back to Hotham, who was none too pleased to know they had suffered 60% casualties among his men, and was not told of the grave robbery that had taken place on his land. In the end, he considered it an acceptable job, and thanked them with a reward of 100 sp each.
Their adventure concluded, the party took a Haven turn to recover, and a month passed uneventfully, perhaps because they were too wary of Carousing resulting in them and the still-at-large psycho Halfling burning down their inn-progress inn.