MERP: Elentaria’s Second Palantir

The party had learned earlier that Elentaria has two palantiri that she uses to spread her song (and influence) throughout the Rhunaer. Having learned that one of these is in her base at Shrel Kain and the other in Lest, the party decided to try to steal the one in Lest and reduce her power. They knew that Drogo is planning to work against her at Lord Windsor’s party in Dilgul, and hoped that his efforts would serve as a distraction and make the theft easier in Lest.

Bertram and Tanuukkodol rode horses into Lest, while Grafarlig took a cart. All were shrouded in their cloaks as they entered the too-happy city. They exchanged pleasantries and praise of Elentaria’s beauty and kindness, and were directed to the Friendly Shellfish (at the Sign of the Smiling Clam). Once there, they spoke with Zeela the bartender, and enquired after Feldenaith, whom they know has returned to the area. Zeela mistrusted Feldenaith and wanted to get a mob together to shred him alive, but Bertram talked her out of it. Until he arrived, Bertram and Grafarlig went to the Cathedral of Elentaria. There, they found the walls covered with dead bodies and blood. When approached for donations, Bertram gave 4 s. and Grafarlig gave 20 s. Tanuukkodol refused to go to the Cathedral and instead stayed at the docks smiling idiotically and splashing his feet in the water.

The party returned to the Friendly Shellfish that night. When Feldenaith arrived, the party took a walk outside with him and told him they were here looking for a big score, one of Elentaria’s palantiri. Feldenaith agreed to help, both because the house where he suspected it might be hidden held many gems, and because removing the palantir from Lest would bring it back under the control of the Syndicate.

Feldenaith led the party through the sewers to the basement of the house he wished to rob. When they entered the basement, there were three thugs on guard. Feldenaith stabbed one in the neck. Tanuukkodol stunned two others with arrows to the head. Grafarlig killed one with a slice to the leg. Once they were down, Tannukkodol sliced their throats, giving them a merciful quick death.

The party dumped the bodies down the sewer, unfortunately hitting Bertram, who transformed into Ughthug. Tanuukkodol  hit Ughthug once in the head with his frying pan, but it didn’t work. He convinced Ughthug that Feldenaith had hit him, then snuck between the orc and managed to hit him again, turning him back into Bertram.

They then left the basement and emerged into a silent mansion.  The room was tremendously silent. They searched under the carpet and the paintings. There were also two clocks and a chandelier. One of the paintings has a safe behind it, but there was only 9 gp. and 24 s. total in the safe. Feldenaith tried to pick one of the doors, but set off a trap and a blade scythed through the room, not injuring anyone.

The sound of the blade slamming into the wall caused the guards outside the house to call out. “Who’s in there? Who’s in Sanctuary?” Foolishly, Bertram replied back, “It’s ok, just an accident!” The guards began yelling louder and four burst into the front door.

Feldenaith rushed upstairs, while the others took fighting positions. Tanuukkodol punctured the eye of one, stunning him. He then struck another in the head, also stunning him, and then gave the third a minor flesh wound to the head. Grafarlig fought inconclusively with another. The guards didn’t do much to the party. Meanwhile, a mug dropped on Bertram’s head, changing him into Ughthug.

Tanuukkodol then shot the one in the rear, dropping him. He then shot the one without an eye, stunning him again. Ughthug, now angry about being hit in the head again, attacked the one on the right, and broke both his arm and shield. Tanuukkodol dropped one more and badly injured another.

With all but one of the guards out of commission, Tanuukkodol and Grafarlig closed the main door and shot the wooden bolt across it. A large something screamed, “Sanctuary” from outside and smashed on the door. Ughthug dropped the last guard and then held the door against the attacking troll. Orc and troll spent the next seven or eight rounds screaming at each other as they fought for control of the doors.

Grafarlig searched the circular kitchen and found 82 s. She then ran down a set of circular stairs off the kitchen.

Tanuukkodol ran upstairs after Feldenaith, whom he found stealing gems out of the walls on the second floor. Disgusted, Tanuukkodol continued his search for the palantir. There was a door, a stairs up, and a stairs down. He chose the circular stairs heading down, which met up with Grafarlig’s stairs at the bottom. As he left Feldenaith, he heard first a cry of pain and then a gleeful cry. He ignored them.

Tanuukkodol and Grafarlig continued down the subterranean corridor. At the end was the palantir and a robed priest, whom Tanuukkodol shot three times and wounded critically. The priest did not have a chance to cast a spell in defense before Grafarlig split his skull with her axe. Tanuukkodol took the robe and used it to gather up the palantir. The two of them then ran up the stairs.

Meanwhile, the outer door finally broke open and a troll breaks in, angry and ready to rip Ughthug to pieces. Feldenaith, having completed his robbery, stunned the troll with a knife to the head, and urged Ughthug to follow him upstairs, where they were joined by Tanuukkodol and Grafarlig. Together, they escaped out an attic window and across the roofs until they reached a safe house and hid.

Feldenaith was made to reveal the gems he stole, and to give Ughthug eight of them for his part in the robbery. Tanuukkodol explained to Ughthug that he could buy bunnies with the rocks. Feldenaith inquired about the object in the robe, which Tanuukkodol explained was a head. Feldenaith didn’t believe him, but he was pleased with his take, and with Tanuukkodol’s share, which Tanuukkodol gave him for his help. Feldenaith led the party through secret tunnels to the docks, where one of his associates offered them a boat to escape. Still distrusting Feldenaith, they took another boat instead, followed the coast east for forty minutes and then went ashore and walked the rest of the way to Dilgul.

There, Tanuukkodol gave the palantir to the Blue Wizard Pallando, who explained that Drogo had simultaneously stolen the gift from Lord Windsor to Elentaria (undoubtedly a third palantir). Elentaria was substantially weakened as a result.

Then the party went to help Ughthug buy his bunnies. It turned out the gems he had were worth much more than they thought, so instead, they guided Ughthug into buying three oxen (i.e. “big bunnies”), one of which he ate immediately. Tanuukkodol asked and got permission to kill the ox mercifully before he started, though Ughthug did not understand the purpose. Ughthug still has 3 small gems (10 gp. each) and 4 big ones (worth 20 gp. each). The oxen were 6 gp. each.

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NAVAH: Deeper into the Tunnels of the Wizard of Jellakar

The party first tested the trapdoor on the bottom level, having Lurinderi (the Selkie) open it with her foot. Below was a 20’ pit, empty. They lowered Brendan down on a rope, and as Brendan’s feet touched the bottom of the pit and triggered the second trapdoor, Ahari (the Glyderung), cut the rope holding him up and ran away, giggling. Ian leapt up and chased after, forgetting about Brendan completely.

Brendan instantly put arms and legs out against the walls (critical success) and prevented himself from dropping the next twenty feet into the room where grey-carapaced insect demons awaited. 556 (the giant ant pouka) brought a second rope down to Brendan and, crawling over the sweating warrior, affixed a rope to his waist. Brendan was pulled to safety.

In the meantime, Ian chased Ahari up the circular staircase and into the corridor of the cell above. He saw a flash of movement towards the back of the corridor, but stopped when he heard a loud buzzing coming from the open-doored cell. Ahari got away.

Brendan drew his bow and aimed it down the pit, hoping for a shot. Ian returned and did the same, but then put it down and began digging into his backpack for oils. At that moment, four insect demons ran up the pit walls towards the party. Brendan shot the leg of one, but all four made it over the lip of the pit and attacked Ian and Brendan. Luckily, the two warriors were skilled enough to avoid the creatures’ attacks, but the insect armor resisted most of their blows. Eventually, Glern, Eufemmia, and Scorch joined them in the attack and slowly, one by one, they disabled the insects.

Ian descended into the pit this time, and found a passage beyond barred by a locked cage door, with the smell of sulphur and hot air rising from the passage. Given Arnold’s claim that the dungeon led to Hell, the party decided not to go that way yet.

They lifted Ian again, and went up one level. They closed and locked the door with the buzzing sound, but could not see the occupant (who was out of sight). They did find a secret door at the end of the hallway, and went down that corridor. Several corridors forward and down, and they progressed forward. The ones going down still smelled of sulphur and heat. They eventually reached a room filled with slicing blades. They spent a great deal of time debating what to do. By the time they decided to Shape a room to one side and then Shape a passage around the blade room the next day, they found that Lurinderi was missing. Josette searched for Lurinderi using magic, and found her presence above them but quite distant. She then Shaped the resting room and sealed it with a thin layer of stone with several air holes. She banished Scorch, who would have used too much oxygen in the small room. She knew she could summon him again, since she knew his truename. The party then rested safely in the cramped space, though Glern’s socks made their stay memorable.

The next day, Josette shaped a 3’ wide passage around the blade room and reached a well-appointed storage area. There were four levels, each separated by a locked door. The first level was filled with linens and food stuffs. The next held furs and skins. The third had a number of items of quality (3 daggers, 2 helms, 1 backsword, 1 broadsword, 1 shield, 1 pair of boots, and an ornate box containing 4 rings). Ian took the backsword, which proved able to float in midair. Josette took the daggers, boots, shield, and box. Brendan took the broadsword and helms. On the top level was a circle, triangle, and pentagram, but nothing else. The party spent a good deal of time puzzling about this.

After searching extensively and resting another night, the party found a button on the other side of the blade room that would shut off the blades. They shut off the blades and found a trapdoor in the middle of the room that led to an oubliette. They then continued searching through the remaining corridors, but stopped for the night when they found themselves above a large room with bubbling pools of sulphurous water.

 

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NAVAH: The Caverns ‘neath the Mad God’s Stirrup

I dug out the first adventure I ever wrote for Navah, at least I think it was the first one, from back around 1981. Isle of the Sharkmen and In a Pickle at Dill were the first, but that was before Navah, with one of my earlier worlds. But this one still had the Runequest stats, and even some of the D&D stats for the monsters. And I lost the map, so I had to recreate it using Dave’s Mapper. 

The occasion was a visit by my folks, so we played a three generation Navah game — my dad, my wife and I, and my kids, who are back from college. Good times! The adventure held up well, though we only got halfway through it in the afternoon. But it was a lot of fun. Wish my folks lived closer!

The best part was the songs. There were various teleportations within the caverns that were triggered by songs, and people had to figure out which songs would trigger them, and then sing them. It was still fun after all these years.

 

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MERP: The Ring of Power

The party is still in the dwarven caverns under Nurundizikin. They hear a thrumming dirge from below them. “Drums,” says Tanuukkodol, “Drums in the deep.”

They descend to the next room, another one of the uncanny rooms of the caverns, built on the Ways. The room is sparkling and beautiful. Two people (a tall manly fellow with shirt open (Tulric Hammrammr) and a dwarvish woman). They kiss and repeat. Endlessly. In the corner of the room is a dark and tired, unwashed presence (an elf) looking with hatred at them. He identifies himself as Demetrios. He is missing an eye. He is the siren known as the Gardener. What he is doing here is not clear. He is supposed to be to the north of the Rhunaer, not here, to its southwest. He is annoyed that he is here, watching more idiocy about Tulric. Lomeilinde wrote that book, and he finds it most annoying.

On the other side of the room, there is a path downwards.

It turns out that Demetrios says he is dreaming, that he often dreams and travels to strange places via the ways. The party interrogates him about Eletaria. He explains that Eletaria is vain wants all to worship her and live in beauty. She has a palantir that she uses to sing and control. The master palantiri is on Tol Sulereb, which can be reached from Demetrios’s garden. Eletaria must already have two palantir, with one in Shrel Kain and the other probably in Lest. There is another guarded by the dead balrog, the creature whose eggs frightened Drogo so. Lomeilinde put that palantir among the eggs.

Demetrios notices that Bertram has two souls. Demetrios reveals that he can remove souls. Elven souls are powerful and he often tears them out. To save those souls, one must destroy the totem of the Siren that stole it.

The party descends to the next room, which is a vast hall watching a stage. They hear faint music, but not a dirge. A bunch of elves are dancing on the stage. Over in the corner is the stairs. There is a small little figure, a female dwarf, near them. She is Nell Grunkledunkle, sister of Inniel. She backs up. She was the one who marked the statues that expressed the stages of life. Bertram convinces her to talk and she explains that the ways are built on your past, present, and future. She describes the totem of Marcos that must be destroyed to save the hollow elves (Marcos’s sword).

Nell does not want to encounter Marcos, but Bertram flirts successfully with her and she accompanies the party.

They go down the stairs again, to a small room, eight foot high. In the corner is the smashed statue that Tanuukkodol hurled down the pit from the level above. The party can now hear the dirge, but not the elf dance.

Nell thinks Bertram deceived her, so she slaps him, causing him to change to Ugthug. “Look over there, Ugthug, bad people!” shouts Tanuukkodol, who conks him over the head with a frying pan when Ugthug looks away. Suddenly, Bertram is back, and Tanuukkodol hides the frying pan.  Bertram rubs his head in pain.

There is a great hall with giant statues (8’ tall) and they are doing long gestures, martial posturing, smiling, and laughing, staring into the distance. The ceiling is 30’ high. There are also about 30 goblins, and at the end of the hall, an elf is killing one of the enthralled goblins and hurling him through a barrier. He seems displeased with the result. The party meanwhile splits up, some to the left and some to the right, and advanced stealthily towards them using the balconies.

When they get close enough, Tanuukkodol shoots the elf through the throat, killing him, then slides down the tapestry. Three hollow elves teleport in, one against Tanuukkodol, one against Bertram, and one against Throkel and Atauk.

One elf hits Tanuukkodol for 26 points. He then hits it for 59 hp, +2 per round, plus stunned 3 rounds. Grafarlig slides down the tapestry but lands poorly.  Bertram convinces the hollow elf not to attack, and she cries a single tear.

Tanuukkodol believes he has shot Marcos through the neck, so he rushes forward and smashes hi sword. Nothing happens. Grafarlig attacks the hollow elf, doing 23E to the head, +5 hits. He is now at 87 hp damage. The goblins begin to growl and move slowly forward. The elf has marvelous mithril armor and Tanuukkodol, thinking maybe it is the token, tries to figure out how to break it, but fails.

Bertram hugs the crying hollow female elf (Eloina) and tries to pull her back to her better self. He is partially successful so she partially pulls back and holds her sword at him but doesn’t attack. Atauk and Throkkel fight the other hollow elf. The elf misses. Throkkel misses. Atauk chops off her wrist and stuns her.

Nell does 13 damage to the hollow elf facing Bertram. Tanuukkodol does 25 hp damage to the hollow elf on the main level, adds another +1  per round, and kills him. The elf turns out to have been Marcos, who screams his siren song as he expires. Grafarlig tries to destroy the black sword of Marcos, but fails. Tanuukkodol tries as well, comes close, twice, but fails. But he staggers the goblins and hollow elves.

Atauk and Throkkel attack the hollow elf, who is staggered. Tanuukkodol again has a near success. Then Tanuukkodol rolls a 240, destroying the sword.

While Grafarlig robs the bodies, Tanuukkodol and Bertram heal the elf who lost her hand. There is full mithril armor, with no helmet, but with greaves or vambraces.

Bertram and Tanuukkodol go through the shimmering doorway (Grafarlig wanted to go, but lost the dice roll). It turned out that the skeleton in the throne room was an illusion, and that Thaylor was the old man they had met scribbling away. He was trying (uselessly) to map the ways. Tanuukkodol convinced him that perhaps there is no point to trying to map the ways. After mentioning that rabbit stew is the real meaning of life, Thaylor gave Tanuukkodol the ring of power, and then got the rest of the party and went up to the village for rabbit stew.

On the way, the party opened the chest they left a few times before. There are 2408 copper pieces, 142 silver, 7 gp. And a number of beautiful gems stuck to the case. Beautiful green gems. No thank you.

Bertram and Eloina went to visit the tomatoes. Bertram wishes to become Bertram Tomatoseed, spreading talking tomatoes throughout the land.

Tanuukkodol got the mithril armor, and gave his black ranger’s armor to Bertram. Drogo gave his permission to Bertram to keep the armor, even though he wasn’t a ranger. After all, the party had done more to aid the cause than Drogo himself, as of yet.

Atauk and Throckel are convinced that someone in the party got the ring of power, and want it, but are convinced that maybe it is still down in the dungeon, so they return to look. Tanuukkodol hides the ring, and visits the Blue Mage, who tells him to keep it for now. Tanuukkodol tells Bertram (the only one who knows he has the ring) that he gave it to the Blue Mage.

And from the east, they hear of a town burned to the ground by a mad elfin mage. Drogo nods sadly.

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Miniatures for the Grand Melee

In order to have 60 fighters on the field at the same time, and to keep track of their stats and injuries, seemed a daunting task, so I created some new miniatures that are more like war game tokens. each token is .9 inches by .9 inches, so they fit in the 1″ hexes. Each has a small place for the name of the character. They also have the hit locations so that we could check off when the person was hit (one tick for each minor wound; major wounds put them hors de combat). On the back, we wrote the person’s MASS (which determined how much damage they could take, and their damage bonus) and their Weapons skill. The system worked really well, and I laminated a few for the party so we can use them all the time and wipe off the wet erase markers we use to mark injuries. 

A grid of fighting men miniatures, with hit locations

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NAVAH: The Wizard of Jellakar

After the defeat of the Yellow Men, the party had been arrested for attacking Abhimani Fressell, a visiting warrior, accusing him of releasing the Yellow Men. Count and Countess Polyngton held court to decide the matter and since both are extremely intelligent, they reasoned that neither Abhimani nor Mistress Thakwraa was responsible for the deaths of the previous day. Mistress Thakwraa, however, was exiled from Blem to preserve the peace, since many locals would blame her for the attacks. The party’s zeal in finding those responsible was praised (+1 Reputation again!) and they were asked to stay after the trial to talk with the Count and Countess.

After court, the Count and Countess shared their belief with the party that the attacks had been carried out by a shapeshifter, possibly one in the employ of Count Dustane Radclyffe of Ruthven, whose domain was to the south. They charged the party with discovering the truth by slipping over the southern border of The Pass.

Grand melee, 20 men on a side, at the 2014 Battle of Nations

Before they started on the new mission, Ian and Brendan competed in the Grand Melee. There were thirty warriors on either side, assigned to the Blue and Red teams. All were among the finest in the county Braedt, as well as some from Ruthven and Rodes. Brendan (Blue Team) was double-teamed in the first turn of the combat and defeated before Ian (Blue Team) could come to his aid. Eufemmia (on the Red Team) was also defeated in the first turn. Ian persevered through four more rounds, by which time the Blue Team had 10 people left, and Red only had two. Blue won, and the remaining members were rewarded with battle-trained Coursers, and the Champion of the Day (not Ian, though he was the second best left) was awarded a mithril suit of plate armor.

While the warriors healed, Josette encountered a beggar woman who claimed to once have been the mistress of Arnold de York, the Wizard of Jellakar. Josette paid for the woman to get clean, to get some new clothes, and fed her. In return, the woman shared what she knew of Arnold’s Dark Tower and the Halka demon that guards it.

During the night, the woman passed away from old age. The party suspected dirty play, so Ian performed an autopsy, after which they put the remains in a bucket and buried it secretly. Then they left for Restwell, all except Sir Alexios, who had become the Countess’s latest lover. He dallied for a time, and sent the others ahead.

On the way, they passed through Jellakar, where Sir Guddeswyk recruited them to investigate Arnold’s tower. Arnold had not been seen for six months, and an elite team of guards sent into the dark dome a month ago were missing as well. Or at least, three of them were. The other three had been tossed out of the dome in very small pieces.

The party recruited Musuoulus, the handsome gay owner of the Conquerer bar in town, who had met the party before and spent a wonderful evening with Brendan. Musuoulus was wisely reluctant about entering Arnold’s Dome, but after Brendan (who is a handsome devil) flirted with him, Musuoulus relented and agreed to accompany them.

The next day, they opened the doors to the dome and discovered that a magical blackness filled the dome, one that not even Scorch the fire elemental could illuminate. Moreover, Scorch reported that a barbed demon they recognized as a Halka was inside the dome. Facing a -8 to hit modifier from fighting in such darkness, and informed by Josette that Halkas could see in such darkness, the party reconsidered their approach.

Rather than going straight in, they went to the rear of the dome and had George the earth elemental open a door into the tower. Ian then ran into the tower and closed the door to the dome before the Halka could enter. They found a circle, triangle, and pentagram inscribed on the floor, a circular stairway leading up, and an open trapdoor with stairs leading down. Ian closed the trapdoor, noticing as he did that the top was inscribed with the words, “The Gates of Hell.” The party then explored the upper levels of the tower, finding focus crystals, Witchwood Teas, some odd dried mushrooms, several books of worth, and a Forever Lantern with a fire elemental bound within.

Leaving George to keep the tower closed, they opened the trapdoor and headed down. Ian and Brendan narrowly avoided a pit trap, and then just a few minutes later avoided another one. Musuoulus decided that the party was crazy and that Brendan was not worth the craziness. He headed back up again, only to find that George would not let him out. He hid under the four poster bed on the third level, and hoped the party would survive.

Below, the party found a sacrificial table used for human sacrifice to the Demon Gods, and later found a tomb with four coffins. They continued to descend and found themselves in four successive levels of a prison. The first cell was empty. The second held a Bladecloud demon. They left it in its cell. The third proved to have an open cell door from which buzzing came, so they quickly closed the wooden door that led from the circular stairway. On the bottom level, Ian and Brendan again narrowly avoided a pit trap, but Josette walked right onto it. Luckily Brendan grabbed her and pulled her back before she could drop. Josette Shaped some rock over the pit so that it was sealed and would no longer work.

Josette sensed a presence in the bottom cell (which had no window) and six more underneath them (in the pit, they guessed). Ian was seized with a great curiosity about the closed cell, and ultimately he held the door shut while Brendan picked the lock. Once the door was unlocked, the Jaldak demon inside easily pushed Ian aside and bubbled and oozed out into the corridor while the party fled in despair. Scorch tried to burn it, but the Jaldak was agile enough to avoid him and continue to move forward. While the rest of the party fled upward, Josette tried to banish it, and luckily succeeded. A Jaldak is only vulnerable to acid, fire, and spells, and could easily have killed the party if it was just a little faster.

Counting their lucky stars, the party paused for the evening.

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MERP: Beware of Falling Statues

Feldenaith was gone. He left a note stuck to the wall with a dagger.

“Hello friends. It was lovely to meet you. The moving statues were a little disconcerting. The disappearing elves as well. MysElf I’m not sure. I wish you luck. I’m just a sailor on the Sea of Ruin. Give a shout at an appropriate tavern. You know, the ones that keep an EYE on you.”

And then there were three.

They turned to the closest door and continued to investigate. Tanuukkodol tried to read the Khuzdul script, but he failed, as did Athok and Throkkol. Fortunately, Grafarlig was able to discern its meaning and got the door open. Inside was an ancient armory, in which they found a pair of mithril greaves. Tanuukkodol claimed them. Bertram found a +15 Elvish longsword, of a type that was becoming familiar to the party. None of the party was very good with swords, so Bertram kept it until they could sell it.

There were also two chests, and an ancient book. The book was a Dwarven Book of the Dead, and listed thousands of Dwarvish names, some from the 2nd Age, some from the 3rd.  The party no longer had a thief, so they could not open the chests. Bertram tried persuading the chests to open, but could not, although he did sense that a presence somewhere approved of his efforts, a… bashful presence?

The party then descended to next level, where they found a beautiful sparkling cavern with a lake in the middle with clear water. Beautiful mermaids swam back and forth in it. The room was about 20 m. across, and circular, with another door and stairs on the other side. Tanuukkodol stared in wonder, while Grafarlig remained cautious on the steps. Bertram convinced Throkkol that one of the mermaids had given him the eye, and the foolish dwarf stuck his head in the water to say hi. Luckily, Tanuukkodol grabbed hold of his belt and was able to pull him out when the lovely mermaid turned into a vicious hag with shark’s teeth and tried to bite his head off.

The party was a bit stunned by this, to say the least. Tanuukkodol bandages Throkkol’s forehead. Two of the hags pulled themselves from the pool and began dragging themselves towards the party, but Tanuukkodol pierced their arms with arrows and then applied the finishing shots.

It was in this room that Bertram began to display a strange new power. Books, goblets, and canes appeared from nowhere and were thrown at the mermaids. Bertram’s powers continued through the evening. They seem to manifest in connection with his fear or bravery. When he is brave, the objects are hurled at the party’s enemies. When he acts cowardly, they are hurled at him.

Upon the death of their sisters, the mermaids in the pool screamed hateful things, as if summoning something from the deep. The party decided to move on.

Descending the stairs again, they find the next room is filled with tomatoes. Using his Plant Lore, Tanuukkodol learns that some are magical tomatoes, and then talks to them with Plant Tongues. They turn out to be paranoid tomatoes with psychoanalytic powers, and they advise Bertram (in Westron) to find his inner strength and confront his fears. Then the party wades through the tomatoes, avoiding harming the magical ones, and harvesting many of the normal ones. They are tasty.

Descending again, they find a very small room with a study in the middle. The desk is covered in paper, piled incredibly high. From the desk they heard the sound of someone scribbling, but his identity was obscured by the papers. Tanuukkodol tries a variety of languages and find the creature responds to Khuzdul. Approaching, Grafarlig is able to get the exhausted ancient dwarf to stop his scribbling.

Grafarlig tells him that they are looking for  ring of power wielded by Thaylor. He replies that, “Freedom is won by the blood of someone’s son.” The party still doesn’t know what that means.  He then tells them that the ring is below and that they have to know what they’re looking for. The Runkisden is built on the Ways, where the elves go to hide their homes and things. There is whirling swirling magic here. Thaylor thought to tame the Ways, making them take people where they want by thinking of what you are looking for. He seems to have succeeded, at least partially. The dwarf, who has forgotten his own name, describes to them in Westron the next room that will take them closer to their goal.

The party gives the dwarf a tomato in thanks. Then, thinking of the presence he felt earlier, Bertram leads the party forward, down the next set of stairs. They find a room full of treasure chests, ten of them. Bertram investigates while the rest of the party stays outside. Bertram discovers that the chests are sentient, and talks to the first one, called Bashful. Bashful was the presence he had felt earlier. He gets Bashful to yield the key to the ebony chest on the preceding level, then talks to Happy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Doc, and Generous. Dopey, Farty, and Grumpy are asleep and not talking, and he has been warned not to disturb Hatred. Sneezy sneezes all over him. Doc gives him some good advice and identifies Hatred. Happy spits up a big ruby. Generous gives gifts to each of the party, based on their desires. Bertram asks for the location of the ring of power, and Generous explains in Westron so that all know how to get to the next level (below the various odd rooms on this level). Generous warns that some others have already made it down there, so the party should be careful. He describes one with a leather gorget whose neck bleeds. Tanuukkodol recognizes this as the Siren that Drogo described wounding in Lest. Grafarlig asks for whatever and gets 56 s. Throkkol asks for a sandwich. Attok asks for the respect of those he cares for. Tanuukkodol asks for a new spell list, and receives three single-use scrolls from the Concealment Mastery spell list. They give Generous and Bashful tomatoes, and descend to the next level.

There is some natural stone there, and some shaped. In the first room there is a silver and gold accent wall, with seven statues in front of it. They are:

  1. Family man, woman, child
  2. Child caught running happily
  3. Young adult staring upward, short beard
  4. Courtship and holding hands of another young dwarf
  5. Same young dwarf at the bed of a dying dwarf – freedom comes from the blood of someone’s son
  6. Exhausted dwarf, aged and holding a cane
  7. Empty dais (nothing there)

Each has an inscription that appears when blood is rubbed on it (Bertram’s idea). They make clear that the statues are a series showing the passage of life.

The party goes into the right tunnel and there is another inscription on the wall, “Avoid Kindness.” In the corner of the next room is a statue of a young male dwarf, crying.  Bertram talks to it, disdainfully, and it begins to follow him.

A random group of goblins enters the room. The party sets up in its standard fighting formation, with the three dwarves in front, Tanuukkodol firing his bow over them, and Bertram hiding behind him. Tanuukodol kills the first goblin with three arrows to the torso in quick succession. Two goblins attack Grafarlig but miss. Grafarlig hits one in the torso. Tanuukodol kills that one with an arrow in the throat, and gives the other two arrows to the thigh. Grafarlig finishes that one, slicing him in half. Potted plants and things attack as well, thanks to Bertram’s new power.

The second wave of goblins miss Grafarlig but hit Throkkol. An elf in gray appears, teleporting to the rear of the party, going after Bertram. Bertram takes a deep hit to his shoulder from another one of those +15 Elven longswords, and is stunned for two rounds.  Tanuukodol shoots two arrows at the elf, grazing his throat the first time, while the Siren dodges most of the damage. In doing so, the elf moves directly into the second shot, which passes through the neck and kills him instantly. Tanuukodol then turns and fires his final arrow at a goblin in front of Grafarlig, doing massive damage to him. Grafarlig then slices him in half, finishing the job.

Throkkol then gets hit, hard. He staggers back with half hit points. Tanuukodol shoots the last goblin in the head twice, stunning him for two rounds and again Grafarlig delivers the coup de grace, hitting him in the hip.

Tanuukodol again does first aid on Throkkol, healing him for 20 points using the carpet moss. Bertram heals himself, curing only five hit points even with the carpet moss. Grafarlig finds 2 s. and 50 p. Tanuukkodol takes the +15 Elven longsword.

The kid’s statue is still following Bertram but then Grafarlig is nice to it and it starts attacking and biting her. She tries to push it back to its pedestal. When she cuts it on the leg it backs away and goes back to the dais.

In the next room, they find 4 statues of dwarves in the corners. There is a bigger and more impressive dwarf statue in the center. He doesn’t move smoothly though. He is either doing the robot or has a low bit rate. The party isn’t sure which. Tanuukkodol says, “that’s a big dwarf.” Bertram asks, “Would a large dwarf be a Regular?” There are several exits on the right, and one on the left at the rear. They also  hear a distance cadence, coming from deep underground. They try to guess the tune. “Where there’s a Whip?” “Down in the Dungeon?” “Big John?” They can’t, but they keep trying.

Grafarlig opens the right northern door, which opens into an ornate hallway that connects all three doors.  They close the door and exit out the south and turn right. There’s lots of corridors going off.  They find a room with very deep pits, with long dead dwarves posed (seated against the wall) watching the pits. The dwarves have rusted chain mail. The party moves on.

Three more elves in grey attack them, telporting into various locations in the party. Tanuukodol goes into overkill mode. He kills the one in front with three arrows, the last through his neck, leaving Grafarlig without a foe. She starts running down the looping corridor to attack the elf in the rear of the party.

Throkkol takes damage, as does Attok. Tanuukodol tells Bertram to duck and begins shooting the ones to the rear of the party. Tanuukodol kills the one next to Throkkol and then wounds the one behind Attok, stunning him for one round.  Next round he stuns it brutally for two more rounds. Grafarlig finally makes it around the loop and flanks the last one, slicing off his arm.

Searching, they find 3 more +15 Elf swords. And there’s something new. Bertram recognizes one of the elves, whom he doesn’t name, but whom he says, “was a good guy.” The party stops to learn more. They now notice that the elves look “hollow,” either as if they were controlled or possessed. Tanuukkodol feels less pleased by his role today as the slaughter hobo, and the party resolves to try to capture one in the future and see if he can be cured. Bertram’s elf is from Mirkwood and Bertram gathers his effects to return them, along with an ear (Tanuukkodol’s suggestion. It seemed like a good idea at the time.). Tanuukodol questioned if the elves were from Torumen’s elven enclave. Most Wood Elves in the region are. Was the Gardener gardening them?  And what did that mean?

The party finished out the level. The kid statue is still following them, and when they again enter the room of pits, they get tired of his presence. Grafarlig drops something down the pit, and Tanuukkodol angrily calls her “a fool of a Took.” The statue wants to hug Bertram, but Tanuukkodol tries to kick him into one of the deep pits. The statue avoids with a cunning backflip but fails to stick the landing. Grumpy, he sits down on the edge of the pit. Tanuukkodol goes around the pit and finishes the job. The party listens to the statue bouncing off various things as it falls. They then explored the hallway, which was covered with tapestries. There is water down at the end of the hallway, and more stairs. There is a cadence underneath everything, from the next level down. Grafarlig becomes worried about Sirens, and the party stuffs wool into their ears. And prepares to proceed down to the next level.

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