MERP: Escaping the Mines, Rashomon Style

The MERP campaign is on hold for the summer, due to work concerns. Since this left us hanging, we decided to each write a tale of how the Escape from the Mines adventure ended. These are those stories.

Story, the First

The Heroes struggle valiantly against overwhelming odds as they cover the escapee’s flight. Hamrammr, in bear form, begins flinging orcs into the water as Araluth beheads others and disembowels the rest.

On the other side of the underground lake, Joranilithin and Leosil bravely help Osric lead the escapees in holding back the tides of Orcs, until all have crossed the lake.

With a lunge, the party throws the orcs back! Bregor heroically cuts the raft rope, and uses it to drown many orcs upon the raft!

Suddenly the orcs rush forward with their Cave Troll poised to smash the lines – and that’s when Jor, battered, bruised and exhausted, steps forth. He reaches down, deep down, and pulls the last of his magical essence from his tattered soul to cast a critically successful fireball and incinerate the troll and the orcs.

“I … I didn’t – didn’t know I could do that!” he gasps — and then, to his companions’ horror, his head explodes in a fiery, gory spray, and his body falls on the ground, smoke pouring from the ruin of his neck.

His companions bear his body out, plowing through the remnants of the orcs, to take his body outside. They bring him to Maethelburg, and his grave marker reads, “In the end, he became one with magic.”

Story, the Second

Theyn Osric leads his men against the Stone Troll, followed by Leosil. Though the troll initially pulps several of the men, including Bregor, but Osric cuts the Troll’s left leg from under him and they swarm atop him. Leosil delivers the final blow and then leads the survivors towards the daylight visible at the end of the tunnel. Ten goblins attack the men from a side tunnel, and another hard battle is fought. Jor, though exhausted, prepares another spell.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the lake, Hamrammr is taking too much damage to continue. Poorly armed men rush to fill the gap and pull him to the rear. Araluth and Elentari fight on but everyone is forced to retreat and more goblins swell the attacking force. All seems lost when suddenly giant otters leap from the lake and hurl themselves into the attacking force. “Fly you fools!” yells a figure whose upheld staff sheds a blinding light. The defenders stare in amazement, and in a mere fifteen minutes, manage to ferry the rest over the lake.

Jor and Leosil defeat the goblins from the side tunnel with great difficulty. Theyn Osric is tired, but aids as well. United again, the little army gratefully enters the daylight and marches to Goblin’s Gate, killing the few goblins brave enough to face them. They throw open the gates and make their escape on the giant eagles parked outside.

Story, the Third

Osric valiantly stands up to the oncoming cave troll, holding it back for several minutes of violent combat as his men, Leosil, and Jor harry it from all sides with all manner of pickaxes, daggers, and magically induced hot feet. But then, enraged, it strikes Osric in the chest, smashing his rib cage and flinging him up against the wall violently. He smashes into the stone and slides down it, dying. Horrified, the escaped slaves scatter, some of them running down into the cave and others retreating into the cold waters.

Meanwhile, tentacles rise up from the water, as the great underwater beast that had plagued Araluth earlier returns and begins to wrench slaves off of the ferry. Bregor valiantly slices tentacles away, screaming in terror as he does this, single-handedly keeping the men on the ferry alive, at least until a tentacle wraps around his leg and pulls him into the water. Most of the escaped slaves on the ferry desperately try to cross the river faster as others are pulled underneath by the beast, never to be seen again.

On the other side, the endless horde is overwhelming the party, even as Araluth and Elentari cut down goblins faster than they can be replaced. Hamrammr the bear, roaring in pain and cut and sliced from a dozen different wounds, charges the goblins and begins ripping off heads, biting skulls, and tearing off limbs and beating the owners with them with even greater fury. Still, he is soon dealt the mortal blow of dozens of different wounds and, with the last of his strength, begins smashing the pillars of the mine (because I’m saying there are mine pillars now) and causing a cave in that crushes him. He turns back into himself in the last moments before he dies with a smile. Araluth and Elantari stare grimly for a moment, then turn, for they have been saved from death by horde only to meet death by horrifying tentacle beast.

At the same time, the troll is eating the men on the other side quite gleefully, and the goblins are chopping down those who remain. Leosil remarks that none of this would have happened if he had his sweet dagger, and begins weaving in and out of the creatures, cutting throats and Achilles tendons, and being very dishonorable about hiding in corners while doing it. Still, the party appears doomed and that they have nowhere to go, but then Jor starts screaming inarticulately, waving his hands at the goblins so fervently and belligerently that the goblins become totally unnerved and begin to retreat. “Run!” they scream. “He must be performing some great magic!” The cave troll looks as if it doesn’t care and is going to eat him anyway, but then Bregor bursts out of the water, chopping away severed tentacles from him with his eyes bugged out and screaming insanely as he charges the troll, spears it through the heart, and then begins stabbing madly.

Meanwhile, Araluth offers to carry Eentari across the water using his water-walking powers. She rolls her eyes and says, “Please, I’ve been able to do that this whole time,” and runs out in front of him onto the water. Embarrassed, Araluth runs after her, saying “Wait for me honey!” The two of them race across the water, chopping away tentacles that rise up out of the deep. Halfway across, a great mouth larger than can be conceived of by human minds opens itself from the water and goes, “MWAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! I AM HONGRY!!”, tentacles waving about. Araluth howls, “GAH! It is the unkillable mouth of madness of the deep! I will kill it!” He then charges the beast, leaping on to one of its tentacles and running up it, avoiding the lethal suckers, slicing away errant tentacles and then leaping through the air with a howl and stabbing it in the great eye with his blade. It roars in rage and begins thrashing about. Elentari rolls her eyes at this display and shoots all the waving tentacles that threaten to rip apart her husband.

Meanwhile, on the other side, Bregor continues to stab the dead cave troll, sobbing, having been driven quite mad already by his underwater battle the tentacle beast. Leosil turns to Jor and says, “Should we, you know, do something?” At that point, a Balrog bursts from the cave floor in a shower of rock and lava and shadow, incinerating Bregor and the troll. It roars and Jor drops his staff, delighted, and goes, “We’re saved!” Leosil’s eyes nearly bug out, but then the Balrog stops roaring and it turns out it was only yawning. It shrugs its shoulders, sees them, and says, “Sorry, guysSlept Badly last night.” Then it sees Leosil and goes, “Hey bro, this is yours, right?” It hands him his magic dagger, Leosil goes, “Sweet!”, and they all smile happily. Then the Balrog launches itself out into the water straight at the tentacle beast, flies into its maw and down its throat, the great beast’s eyes bug out, and flames shoot out its mouth as it begins to dissolves as if its blood and flesh have become lava. Araluth pulls loose his sword, falls to the water, and runs away from the water that is being set aflame just behind his feet. He and Elentari retreat for shore, just barely making it, and the entire party turns as the unkillable monster of the deep sinks below into the water.

Everything is quiet for a moment, then Jor says, “See. I told you Balrogs were nice.”

Anyway, Elentari briskly goes over to Osric, who begins sputtering out his last words for his daughter, and she tells him to shut up. She mutters a few words, heals him briskly, and he blinks in surprise and gives thanks. She says, “Yeah, well, I do what I do.” Araluth then points into the deep of the cave and says, “Quickly, we must find our escape!” And Hamrammr, naked and smiling and standing right next to him, laughs, and says, “Yes! That makes sense! Ha ha ha!” The entire party turns in shock, with Araluth saying, “We thought you had died!” And Hamrammr just shrugs and says, “Yes, well, I have +10 to caving, so…”

And so they went further into the deep, and eventually found the escape. And Osric stopped the war between the Hillmen and the Northmen, and a great statue was built for Bregor, and his bravery was passed down to schoolchildren forever. The end.

Story, the Fourth

Araluth, Elentari, and Hammrammr were failing and being driven back to the lake, when the escaped prisoners pushed forward bearing pickets. “Great Goblin Unfair.” “Goblins & Slaves Unite!” “Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Nay!” But the one that truly stopped the goblins in their tracks was, “Goblins are People Too!” “You care, you really care!” screamed the Uruk in the front, as he collapsed in tears. All dropped their weapons and embraced, immediately forming the Misty Mountains Goblin-Slave Friendship Society. That night, the goblins slept the first peaceful sleep of their lives, for at last they knew the contentment of friendship. And that night, when they were all fast asleep dreaming happy thoughts, the escaped slaves gently crept in and slit the throats of every last one. “What losers!” they chortled as they tried to relight their lanterns with flint and steel. And everyone lived happily ever after.

Story, the Fifth

One troll became forty. What the forward half of the party had failed to notice was the nature of the cavern housing the troll. You see trolls are a close relative to barnacles and as such will coat surfaces waiting for nourishment to pass by. Seeing a batch of humans triggered them all and whipped them into a rampage.

The mountain shook with a bellowing fury. Eighty trunk-like arms and sixty brain cells thundered into a cavern of cowering humans, demanding their tribute of terrified nourishment. Having few options and no time, the group escorting the thane executed a strategic bail as did the rear front of goblins. Cave trolls will attack indiscriminately in a bloodlust and the local goblins had long since learned not to be in the way.

Though the party was terrified by the lake and its inhabitants, the cave trolls were not. Throwing water like an angry lawnmower, the wave of muscle and teeth bore down on the escaping raft. Jor was enveloped in a desperate flash of light as the trolls met their target, sending pieces of the raft, thane, and party members about. Araluth watched his new friends die in horror. Such monstrous beasts could not be outrun, certainly not here. “I will fight!” he declared, scraping the tip of an arrow through the remnants of their burning oil trap. “I will die, but I will take some monsters with me! They won’t see me flinch!” Araluth notched the arrow and drew it, fire in his eye and on his weapon.

What the rear half of the party had failed to notice was that Jor had worked a phenomenal final bit of magic. Tapping into his garment soiling terror, Jor had converted several hundred tons of water into pure hydrogen. Araluth loosed his arrow, his finger slick with oil. The shot sailed past the sea of hollow heads into the lake.

And that’s how Goblin Crater was formed.

 Story, the Sixth

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, things were looking very dire indeed.  Half the party was stuck on one side of the river with an ever-increasing horde of well-armed goblins with mad fighting skills.  The other half was across the river facing a large cave troll.  The ferry to move people across was small and slow.  There didn’t seem any chance for the party to survive, let alone escape from Goblins’ Gate.  Hamrammr and Araluth were wounded but fighting on with the help of the stronger of the remaining slaves.  Elentari was behind, getting ready to step in as needed, when she noticed a commotion from the cave passage.  The goblins, eager to replace fallen comrades and get into the action, were now looking behind themselves.  They turned to fight some unseen throng.  It appeared that reinforcements had arrived and the great goblin force was now fighting on two fronts. And losing!  But where had these reinforcements come from?

Marty scuttled through the cave passages, muttering about “Damn fools and their damn rebellions.”  The goblin caves were in chaos and he was going to use this opportunity to get out of this hellhole.  He ducked into a small crevice as a group of goblins hurried by, roaring and ready to fight.  He spotted a light ahead and peeked around the corner into another large cavern with slaves and their goblin guards.  There were fewer guards than normal here; clearly the passing group had come from here.  Marty looked carefully and decided he could sneak through the cavern along the darker side of the room on his way to freedom. He shambled on, past the dumbfounded slaves who quickly spotted him and questioned him. As he explained about the rebellion that had started in his slave area, the slaves realized this was their chance to rise up and fight the guards as well.  The odds were in their favor.

Araluth and Hamrammr noticed the change in the goblins they were fighting, and were able to divert all their skill to defense, holding the line without further injuries.  By the time the ferry had delivered Bregor plus others to the other side and returned, the fight was over.  The party took a moment to recover then loaded up the next group of slaves while Araluth stepped forward to talk to the new arrivals.  It turned out that goblin guards from the other slave rooms had been called to help capture the escaping slaves.  When the slaves heard Marty’s story, the stronger of the slaves in those rooms had quickly formed an attack group to take out the remaining guards.  Then they followed the goblins and had overwhelmed them with sheer numbers.

Meanwhile, when Bregor reached the other side of the river, he joined the others who were keeping the cave troll at bay by throwing anything they could find at the troll.  Bregor was badly wounded, but he bravely stepped forward.  Over the course of the journey, he had realized that he alone was blessed by Lady Luck and it would be his duty to defeat the cave troll.  Fortunately for Jor, Leosil, and Osric, his luck did continue and he was able to land a series of devastating hits on the beast.  By the time the last of the remaining fighters arrived, Bregor was practically being worshipped by the slaves.  The ferry continued to bring over slaves, but without any goblins to fight, the slaves could take over from there.  The large party marched on their way to the outside and freedom.  The party led Thane Osric, his men, and all the slaves to the nearby village, where they recuperated for a few days before returning to their homes (except for the freed slaves who decided to follow Bregor the Bold).  Thane Osric traveled to his daughter’s wedding and the party celebrated for many days before their next adventure.

Story, the Seventh

After guiding the party to the secret back entrance to Goblin’s Gate, Rennel returned to Dulin, where he and his father celebrated their new mules. Rennel began to tell the tale of the brave, foolish heroes and the story spread like wildfire. Soon Hammrammr’s far-flung family began to hear the tale. “Hammrammr’s in trouble,” each said, and then packed up their few belongings and headed for Goblin’s Gate. The family was a large one, and as they approached the mountains they kicked up trouble in every town, village, and burrow.

There was Lorrammr, the tall Woodsman from Southern Mirkwood, who brought his deadly curved axe. There was Gringrammr, the famous knife-fighter of Dunland, and Borrammr, the outlaw of the Old Forest Road. Jimrammr left his hobbit wife and ten kids in Buckland, and came running. He had a far distance to travel, and he got there last, but he got there. Hornrammr, the Pirate King of the Anduin, came, along with his entire crew of swarthy Amazons. Glumrammr, the lone fisherman of Gladden Fields was there, along with his traveling companion, The Creepy Guy. Yumrammr, Master of Bear-style gong-fu, arrived with his older brother Vimrammr, a gifted lawyer who terrified all who saw him. “We’ll pursue this matter in the highest court of the land,” he yelled, and the glint in his eye showed he meant it. There was Duckrammr, who gouged out the eyes of anyone who made fun of his name. There were few who taunted him a second time. And there was Rumrammr, the drunken minstrel from Dimriff Dale, who… well… really wasn’t much of an asset. Let’s just forget him.

Anyways, there was a hell of a lot of Rammrs, an army of Beornings. By the time they hit the Gate, they were an army of bears, enraged and powerful. They tore the Gate apart with their claws and then did the same to the goblins. When there were no goblins left, they descended into the caverns, slaughtering stone trolls and whatever else got in their way. The devastation they wrought became legend.

They were too late of course. The party had been killed weeks before, but still, it was really impressive.


About lostdelights

An old gamer flying his freak flag, I've been playing table-top role-playing games since 1978. I've been building my own system (Journeyman) since 1981.
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