Present were Ehrandar Dawngreeter, the elf mountebank, Mongo the half-orc fighter, Vellis the gnome bard, Theric the paladin of Pholtus, and Abo Thistlestrike the human magic-user. Once again, the player of Ehrandar gifted me with several old Avalon Hill games (Battle of the Bulge, Bismark, and Anzio, none of which I had previously owned) and a custom painted and based figure; one of the 15mm rangers he had purchased from Old Glory 15s (pictures to be forthcoming). Amazingly, the monsters seemed to avoid his character in combat… (just kidding!)
Wasting no time, the party returned to the first level of the dungeons, via the great spiral staircase found behind the large bronze doors in the central keep of the castle, and noted that not only did the gray hawk mark their entrance over the drawbridge (which continues to be “just a drawbridge”– my scheme to lull them into a false sense of security is working perfectly) but the mosaic room was once more altered to show the faces of those who entered the dungeons this time.
They decided to strike east from the mosaic room (north had led them to the dwarves who guarded the entrances to deeper levels in the last session), and soon found a series of 10′ x 10′ rooms, which they designated the “maze of doors”. The doors proved not only difficult to open (well, not so difficult for Mongo with his 18/83 strength, perhaps) but inclined to shut on their own behind them. They decided that they bore an insufficient supply of iron spikes with which to keep open the potential whole lotta doors, and retreated back to the room of mosaics.
Going west brought them to more corridors, and south led them straight into their first real trap. A loud *POP* accompanied a blinding flash. Literally. Four of the six party members were rendered blind by the flash of light, and Ehrandar and Abo soon heard sounds of rustling from one of the side corridors. An enormous snake could be seen approaching, and with most of the party still incapacitated from the blinding trap, it was up to the two of them to protect the rest. Abo laid a line of oil while Ehrandar hurled forth a barrage of daggers (mountebanks getting a bonus to their rate of fire with hurled weapons, as part of their prestidigitation ability). The bard struck up a tune of inspiration while Abo unfortunately flubbed setting the oil on fire, and Ehrandar struck the beast with a couple of daggers. It retaliated by sinking its fangs into his thigh, but the wound bled freely and the venom didn’t take any toll. However, the bite itself was enough to make Ehrandar choose the better part of valor, and the still-blind Mongo took his place, trusting to his keen ears to guide his strokes.
Unfortunately, his ears weren’t so keen, as he missed the snake on his first try and hit the mountebank instead! (Having heard its hissing, but not realizing that the head was at the time embedded in the elf’s flesh.) The mage finally managed to pick up the torch and light the oil, while the snake got in another shot, this time on the half-orc. This time the venom found its mark, and the half-orc found himself incredibly weakened; down a point of strength and constitution. A few more hits were scored against the swift-moving snake, and it was finally taken down by the mage’s magic missile spell. Blinded, poisoned, and battered, the party decided to retreat, but not before sending two of their less damaged companions to the dwarves. Alas, there was no cure blindness or neutralize poison to be had, but for a mere 1,500 g.p. they would be happy to supply such, if the party could but wait another day. They demurred, returning to the city.
Taking the time to rest and heal (the blindness disappeared after an hour and a half, and Mongo’s weakness from the snake venom seemed to abate after a day), the party returned to the dungeons. They returned right back to the area of the blinding trap, this time exploring some side passages (after determining that the carcass of the snake was gone). They found a room, lit by some enchantment, with a number of rose bushes in large flowerpots, which they gave a cursory search and then decided to ignore. They also found another trap in a corridor, this time a shower of thick honey which coated all but the bard and the hireling, rendering their movement slower, their initiative penalized, and most of them incapable of letting go of small objects. Within a minute or two, two enormous flies accosted the party, presumably attracted by the honey. The flies inflicted pretty heinous damage on several members of the party before being forced to retreat. The party, now knocked down by both the snake yesterday and the flies today, decided to return once more to the city of Greyhawk, find a bathhouse, and recover from their explorations.
Four days later (aided by the healing touch of the paladin), the party was back up to full strength and willing to make another foray into the depths. However, when they awoke on the fourth day, each found a small terracotta frog in their rooms in the inn. Clearly the frog cult of Wastri the Hopping Prophet hadn’t forgotten them. Most of the party members hurled the statuettes from their room or smashed them in the streets. The bard and Mongo kept theirs, however, bringing them into the dungeon with them.
This time the party struck north from the room of mosaics, heading into an area that had not been previously explored. One room contained a sloth of brown bears in a torchlit room, which the party immediately left alone, tossing in a packet of rations and closing the door. Further exploration uncovered a well appointed but mouldering sitting room, and an octagonal room with a pool in its center. Mongo tossed his terracotta frog statue into the liquid, to no reaction.
Alas, at that point the store was closing, so we had to wrap things up. One thing of note, however; all of the party members (save the bard, who still had her original) found another terracotta frog on their person that evening. Clearly something is afoot.