Saturday, 29 June 2019

Belswick session 4: the goblin prince

Last session of Belswick, the group decided to head back for the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, on orders from the manor knight Haine Kerjules to end the goblin raids on his farms.


The accusing nun; smoke and slaughter at dawn; crawling like snakes; the fiery ambush of the Goblin king; the skellyton that wouldn't die; a last push into the dark; hauling fungus; a chew toy for the basilisk; and a murdered prince in a silver coffin.

Closeup map of Barony Walden. The players are mucking about around the crossroads (and village of Crossroads) near Mt Gale where Dread Lord Ulric lairs in Castle Gale. (Gotta sow those epic opponents early on!)


  • Aju - Fishling with a short temper and dislike for large crowds. Carries a keg of water to stay hydrated. Stupidly muscled, so that swords and clubs bounce off his magnificent chest. Strangely fascinated by setting things on fire. Not born as Fishling.
  • Mike - human warrior and nature expert from the northern parts of kingdom Pembroke. Moved south to Belswick after his clan was killed to the last by tentacle summoning cultists. He still hears them calling for the arrival of The Messenger.
  • Tilbørd - human cleric of the Authority and the Order of the Scroll with a devious mind. Apprenticed to the village priest Eustace. Originally from the northern Væring isles; resettled with his criminal mastermind parents and younger sister, but lost them in a tragic attack by parties unknown. Escaped with his life and a mysterious amulet that burnt a third eye into his soul.


  • Guy - human diviner of the Lodge under a hefty debt for his wizard training. A former noble from the southern kingdom of Arrayne. Magical incidents laid waste to his House. Working off his debt to the Lodge with support from his master Haine Kerjules and his mentor Fergus the Augur. Dogged by cultists hailing him as The Messenger.
  • Lomin Mor - Elf, gambler, thief and rogue. Also from Arrayne, but has settled in Belswick as a confindant of Lady Olga Culfield, the ruler of the neighbouring fief. Traces of noble upbringing but no claim to a seat of power.

Sites and plot hooks in the surrounding area. So far, the players have explored the two connected hexes of Fief Kerjules. Lomin Mor the Elf is the only one to have visited Fief Culfield.


The accusing nun
Catching their breath after weathering a lightning trap in a wizard's tomb, the group is surprised by a glowing apparition rising from a pool of foul black water. It's the ghost of Sarah Vennis, exploratory nun of the Silent Order of St Gustav and dead in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings since weeks after a cave-in.

Sarah accuses Tilbørd of being her murderer, because her soulsight shows him with the same third eye as the church prelate Pythia who sent her to this place. At first she wants to drag him to his death, but her curiosity gets the better of her. There's a back and forth between Tilbørd (sworn to unearth what was hidden) and Sarah (sworn to keep such things buried).

S - I've seen many Du'van vaults but this is the biggest ever. Don't go to these places.
T - you're only making me more curious! Why keep them hidden?
S - they hold forbidden lore...
T - that's what they all say. I'm not some yokel - spill it, Sister.
S - the Du'van tampered with time and dimensions. They traveled to other planes of existence and the Authority cursed them for it.
T - very interesting...

So that's a hint of explanation as to why time seems to move slower in this dungeon than outside. The group offers to give Sarah a proper burial and does so in the surrounding hills. Mike doesn't want her buried too deep - the budding druid wouldn't mind if the local animals took a bite out of the nun. Aju is skeptical and piles stones on the grave to make it more secure. Sarah goes to rest and the three make camp.

Smoke and slaughter at dawn
Camping in the dark, Tilbørd hears a hooting, jeering band of 10-20 goblins set out from under the tree near Annabelle the potion maker's herb garden. Brief discussion makes the group decide to ambush the goblins when they return to their lair. The raiding party returns at dawn, dejected and blaming each other.

G - you coward, you woke everyone with that scream!
G - of course I screamed, that chicken surprised me!
G - thanks to you we still have no king!
G - who knew that pigs could run so fast?

...and so on. The group decides to ambush the goblins near the entrance to their lair and just makes it to Annabelle's herb garden. Time enough to put on an armor, but not enough for Tilbørd to pray for new spells.

Mike camps out on top of Annabelle's shack and rains arrows on the first goblins, but then he drops as their archers return fire. Aju isn't so careful, goes into one of his famous rages and starts hacking goblins apart. Tilbørd is hanging back - he's far less sturdy then Aju and helps out by tripping goblins and blocking the crawl into their lair.

Then the second band of goblins comes out of the trees and it becomes very dicey...but morale checks after Mike unleashes a blast of thundering sound make a lot of goblins break ranks. It's a desparate ploy - he's lost the use of his left arm after a nasty cutlass strike and a roll on my Death and Dismemberment table!

At the edge of the battle, Tilbørd has another chat with the ghoul Jacques Cousteau, named for a famous cook and interested in some new meat. For some reason I'm running Jacques with a mock-Flemish accent. He's jovial, a gourmet, full of black humor - taking a page from Lovecraft's ghouls.

J - is the lady you guys buried up for grabs?
T - if you want, but I wouldn't touch her. Her spirit has risen and guards her body.
J - ugh, that's such a bother. All the whining and moaning from inside your stomach...
T - might I recommend the Goblins out there?
J - fine, fine...I'll help out. But the next one of you to fall is mine to eat!

Jacques does pick off a couple of goblins, but thinks better of it after getting caught in Mike's Thunderwave spell. One goblin in hand, he heads back for his hidden tomb.

Tilbørd finally finds the time to pray for spells, and Mike uses that time to catch his second wind. With a quick bite and short 15min rest, they recover some hit points; Aju helps out with healing herbs from Annabelle's garden (he's been studying with her) and helps the group recover a bit more than usual.

Fungal Goblins slaughtered: 13
Wounds taken: Mike, arm disabled for 2 days (or until repaired by magical healing)

The fiery ambush of the Goblin king
Tilbørd has been raising a Goblin sprout back home and knows that these hybrids respawn quickly from their fungal lair deep in the tombs. Where it's dark and full of hidey holes, so the group's torches will just make them into targets...

Looking over their map, the group select the fiery sacrifice chamber as the place to make a stand (30 on the map, where a permanent gas fire rages in a spike pit). Good use of the surrounding terrain! They'll lure in a pack of goblins and Aju will hide in the treasure vault (29) that Lomin Mor managed to open earlier, so he can sneak up on the goblins and box the little shits in.

In a small detour, Mike and Tilbørd try to make friends with the huge chained basilisk. In the dark, it cannot see or petrify them. When Mike tells it to HEEL and HIDE in Du'van (Tilbørd has to think about the grammar a bit, and a bit more to make it seem like he doesn't speak fluent Necromancer Snakeperson), the basilisk is OVERJOYED and rustles off behind a huge pillar. It doesn't close it's own visor to become safe for its handler though - apparently the thing is locked and must be operated by someone else.

Stones bounced into the hall are pounced on and accepted as (bland) gifts. Seriously this is one bored basilisk, but it's a big puppy at heart and it just wants to play.

Tilbørd offers to be bait. He bravely walks up to the goblin barricade (52): "I have taken your old king - now I am your king! Come get me if you dare!" The two goblins on guard duty can't believe their luck and run off to gather Yellow Clan. Surely this grab will bring them much respect so they don't have to do chores all the time!

The ambush works as expected, excited goblins miss Aju hidden behind the iron vault door and stream in to capture their new king. (Kings get sacrificed near the full moon, in 5 days, so they're anxious to find one before one of their own is chosen.) Not one but two humans await them in the room of the fire pit: Tilbørd as well as Mike stand ready.

G - awesome, a King and a Queen! We'll never have to do chores again!

...but then it goes south for them as Mike rains arrows again, Tilbørd unleashes dark power and sucks the life out of a would be courtier with Inflict Wounds, and Aju smashes goblins to pulp with the vault door.

Goblins arrows and sling stones start to pepper Mike and Aju from afar, the two shove goblins into the fiery pit, and Aju is almost tripped into it himself...but manages to catch the edge of the ledge and just gets singed. Tilbørd burns the last of his magic to robe Aju in a sanctuary spell so he can clamber back up and finish off the last goblins. The door to the goblin caves is closed, barred and barricaded so the group can take a rest.

Singing, in a voice that Aju finds very familiar, echoes down the corridors. Like in previous sessions, the group DOES NOT engage. They're brave - up to a point.

Fungal Goblins slaughtered: 6, then 9

The skellyton that wouldn't die
While Mike and Aju are smashing goblins, Tilbørd has issues with the room next door. In the pit trap is a clumsy skeleton trying to climb out again. It lacks the doomy eye-fires of undead skeletons and seems to be animated by a purple goop. Shoving it back into the pit with his shield is not a big problem, but the thing seems impervious to harm. In the end he barricades the door and sits down for a breather. Skellyton and goblins pound on their respective doors, but these hold for now. It becomes quiet again as the monsters look for other routes to ambush the enemy.

A last push into the dark
Surely we're almost running out of goblins by now? Yes, but the spawning pit (48) is still intact, so wait a few days and all this fighting will have been for nothing. (Well, Mike will be out of arrows. Fighting doesn't get XP, as Aju points out; so even though he's halfway through his hit points and out of rages for the day, he wants to push forward.

Torches in hand, the explorers head out into the dark goblin caves. Sling stones fly from the dark, goblins grin and I grin even wider - this, not the cramped hallways and rooms of the tomb, is where the fuckers shine. Shoot, move, hide and repeat - even though it's just a few of them, the goblins are making their shots count.

It helps that I don't roll under 15 on a d20 to hit. Mike grasps the situation and races forward, two torches in hand. That flushes out the last goblins, Aju makes quick work of them and Tilbørd pokes one with his own torch until it falls down from the ceiling. Victory at last!

Fungal Goblins slaughtered: 7, for a total of 35

(Aju guy sports an amazing 32 hit points for a level 2 barbarian: two max hit point rolls for a Con18 barbarian is sick. On top of it, the barbarian halves damage by ordinary weapons while in rage and can use his Con to boost his armor class. Truly a beast, and rolled fair and square. But he has a tendency to mouth off at the cleric and druid, who are slowly getting fed up with it...)

Hauling fungus
And then the real work starts. The goblin spawning pit is full of disgusting fungus. Chopping away sprouting goblins is easy enough, but the mass will just regrow. Then the group hits on a brilliant plan: use chests from the raided treasure room to haul fungus to the fiery pit so it can dry and burn! This takes hours and hours of work, and many torches. But it works. Well played.

Infestation of fungal goblins: 6, then 9
Exhaustion: 2 levels of exhaustion (disadvantage on ability checks, movement halved)
  • moved a body, dug a grave and raised a cairn
  • fought three hard battles
  • cut and hauled many cubic yards of fungus

A chew toy for the basilisk
Of course all this work is attracting attention. First the sounds of clacking ivory off to the unexplored west of the basilisk hall, then another -or the same?- skellyton.

It's impervious to weapons, but is it impervious to basilisk? Mike kites the wobbling abomination up a sloping hallway and to the basilisk room. All in the dark, because light = sight = explore life at a geological pace. A big push, a cry of "for you!" in Du'van ("take this gift of obligation, slave", if you're wondering) and the basilisk now has a chew toy that Can. Not. Die. Amazing! When Tilbørd arranges a torch so that the basilisk can actually see it's new toy, the wagon sized beast is over the moon.

Oh gods, they're going to tame it and unleash it on the surface and I'll get to seriously shake up my campaign 😂

Glaurung - Eric Velhagen

A murdered prince in a silver coffin
While the last bits of fungus are being cleared away, a dull *CLUNK* echoes around the room. Metal on metal - scraping uncovers a silvery metal chest, some 4-5 feet long, with access ports where fungus enters (or leaves?) and a misted glass slit. The thing radiates magic, has inscriptions in Du'van, and was at the heart of a goblin spawning pit - OF COURSE it needs to be opened!

Tilbørd invokes the aid of the Authority and in a dream state manages to open the device. In it is a perfectly formed goblin with curling, twisting silver jewelry. Not the misshapen fungal variety they've been fighting, this princely figure is named Litvars - or that's what his signet ring says. He sleeps a magical sleep, needles enter his arm and allow the Du'van device to copy him endlessly.

At this point I want to end the session; it's getting late, we've been very active, and Tilbørd's player needs to catch his train. Uncovering the Prince will give the players a lot to think about!

OF COURSE this is when Aju takes charge.

A - we were tasked to clear out these goblins and this one is at the heart of it all - TASTE MY AXE!

And so passed Prince Litvars, elder son and heir to King Tamoren of the Dark Fey. He's only mostly dead though, and in a life-preserving device, so who knows what dodgy deals the group may make to bring back this one? At the very least, they can try to haul the ton of arcane device out of the dungeon and be branded dangerous heretics when they try to sell it to the wrong person.

...but first, they will have to climb back to the light, because they are still stuck in the TOMB OF THE SERPENT KINGS!


  • raided farmer's equipment off the goblin party - 5 gp, 1 inventory slot.
  • prince Litvars's silver jewelry - 200 gp for artwork&material alone, 1 inventory slot
  • prince Litvars' signet ring - 150 gpfor artwork&material alone, 0 inventory slots
  • fungal resurrection chamber - 5000 gp*, weighs a ton and a half - 13 22 40 inventory slots

* but who will dare buy it?

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