TWtNW Prologue: Part 2: Ascension

February 4, 2013

Death left the party feeling aching and exhausted, so they rested a bit in the Chamber of the Frozen Flame. It was difficult to keep track of time in the room, but it could not have been that long, as the party didn’t seem to get hungry or thirsty. But the party was also coming to realize that the Chamber of the Frozen Flame had some sort of odd “timeless” quality about it. The bodies sharing the room with them, for example, showed no signs of rigor mortis or rot the entire time they were in the room.

The Tunnels

Directional Marker in the Winding Tunnels

Directional Marker in the Winding Tunnels

The party followed the winding path upwards into winding, tube-like tunnels. The tunnels had the same melted, congealed look as the stone in the Chamber of the Frozen Flame with the same veiny tendrils running along the walls, floor, and ceiling. At an intersection, the party found several directional arcane marks inscribed on the floor in pale pink. The party chose to follow the one that looked like a castle, though they noted that it included the same symbol that the soldiers in the Chamber of the Frozen Flame had been wearing.

The party wandered the labyrinth of interconnected tubes for over an hour. At each intersection, directional marks guided them. They continued to follow the “castle” symbol.

The tunnels seemed silent and lifeless, but the party encountered an insect-like rust monster which was drawn to the metal armor and weapons they had picked up from the soldiers. They dispatched the monster.

The Sedan Chair

The "Castle" Symbol

The “Castle” Symbol

The tunnel broadened and widened eventually, and starting running off in a fairly straight north-north-east direction (determined by a know direction spell). Occasionally, the party heard a rumbling of distant, seismic activity, but nothing close or dangerous.

The party found a strange sedan chair near the beginning of the broad, straight tunnel. It looked quite old, but well constructed of lacquered wood and metal. The fabric canopy and chair cushion had long since rotted away, though, but the lacquered wood had held up well. Four life-size stone statues bore the chair between them. They were kneeling, as if waiting for someone to board. The statues were human-shaped but the sculptor had not bothered to carve muscles or features, so they looked a bit like dummies or marionettes. Their faces were blank, featureless ovals, but each had an arcane mark in the middle of their face depicting the “winged conch” symbol from the directional marks in the tunnels.

The Soldiers' Symbol: Red on Purple

The Soldiers’ Symbol: Red on Purple

Despite their best efforts, the party could not get the sedan chair to do anything interesting.

The Undersea Tunnel

The party marched down the long, straight tunnel for over an hour, so they estimated it was between three and five miles long. It lost the organic, melted look and became more and more like a broad, natural cave. Occasionally, water flowed through cracks in the wall into pools and into breaks into the rock. The party, growing thirsty now, discovered this was salty seawater, unsuitable for drinking.

At the end of the tunnel, the party found a large natural cave with a waterfall and a large pool. A twelve-foot tall statue of a well-carved, handsome human man was kneeling on the cave floor, head bowed in supplication. He was naked, and perfectly carved, save for the face. He had no face, just a featureless expanse on the front of his head with that winged conch symbol in pink in the center. As they approached, the symbol began to glow and the statue rose. It called the party intruders in a powerful, booming voice, crisp, commanding, and thickly accented – that of an Alqadi woman. The party recognized the voice of the commanding woman from the dream they had before they awoke from death. The statue attacked the party and the party was gravely outmatched by the terrible construct. Morgrym was critically injured and had be dragged away, unconscious.

The "Winged Conch" Symbol

The “Winged Conch” Symbol

The party fled past the statue, but it appeared the statue was actually guarding the way they had come from and it did not pursue. The party rested at the other end of the cave, near the pool, where they were able to catch some blind, albino fish and a cave crab to make a meal of. But the water was too salty to drink. The party treated Morgrym’s wounds and waited for him to regain consciousness.

The Statuary

The far end of the cave, away from the statue, had fallen in and there was a narrow passage above. Tahdrugg the goblin squeezed through and found a large, constructed room filled with statues. He brought Marayna up and eventually the rest of the party joined them. The room was a well-constructed dwarven chamber, vast and wide open. It was filled with statues, most finished, but some looked to be in progress. Each one had a plaque with a name and a deed worthy of note. All of the dwarves seemed to be of the Stormshore clan, which Morgrym had never heard of. There were no tools in the room, nor any other loose objects.

The Crumbling Halls

There was only one exit from the room, leading out into the blocky, labyrinthine halls of an ancient dwarven fortress or clanhold. Signs indicated that these halls had been subjected to seismic activity and were old beyond count. They had been thoroughly abandoned and cleared, or looted. All of the storerooms and vaults were empty, most of the doors were unlocked and left ajar, and there was damage everywhere.

The party wandered for some time and eventually found something strange. Someone had haphazardly deposited the skeletal remains of what had once, apparently been a human. The bones were dumped in a pile, but appeared to be a complete skeleton. The bones were strangely pitted and colored, as if the flesh had been burned or dissolved away. A breastplate and a suit of chainmail, showing some slight corrosion and pitting, was laying with the bones, along with a belt buckle, some rivets, some buttons, and a metal morningstar with no hand-wraps. There were also a few scattered coins and a single, steel earring in the shape of a fang. Marayna noted the walls nearby had scratches and it looked like the hall had been swept clear of debris and dust recently, except for this one spot where, in addition to the strange piled skeleton and its possessions, there were little piles of rocks and bits of debris.

To be continued…




2 Responses to TWtNW Prologue: Part 2: Ascension

  1. The Angry DM on February 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Symbols and icons are a running theme in all of my games, but this campaign especially will feature them in droves. When the party reaches the city of Vancia, they will discover that every guild and organization has a symbol, which will hopefully become a visual shorthand for that guild. I am not much of an artist and I only work in one medium for symbols (sharpie on printer paper), but I hope that each symbol manages to convey a mood or meaning that becomes clear once the party learns what it is. For instance, the spiky wavy symbol the party didn’t track down in the tunnel, they identified as “the evil looking symbol” and nicknamed it “the dire volcano” because it looks like a volcano, only bigger and with spikes (which is their definition of ‘dire’). The point is, there is a reason for everything. There is a reason the “castle” has exactly seven turrets, each with a flag. Once the party learns what the symbol represents, that reason comes into focus, and it becomes easy for the party to associate the symbol with the thing it represents. Or maybe I am overthinking it and I just like making symbols. Even the choice of the salmon pink for the “winged conch” was done for a reason.

    SPOILER FOR MY PLAYERS AHEAD: PROCEED WITH CAUTION

    The Twisted Tunnels and The Crumbling Halls were both designed using the abstraction method I describe here: http://angrydm.com/2013/01/abstract-dungeoneering/ . In the Twisting Tunnels, by following the symbols, the party was able to arrive at their destination without any need for random die rolls. Interestingly, the corpse they found in The Crumbling Halls is a goal for a side quest the party hasn’t yet discovered. Hope they don’t sell that earring. That is why I love working with random tables. They could have stumbled into some giant scorpion’s den, but instead, they accomplished a quest objective they haven’t accepted yet, which will make life a little easier for them.

  2. Shane on February 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I love reading campaign logs, especially when they pull back the curtain a bit. Thanks for this!

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