Chapter #20

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*****
*
*  The 8 player characters contained in this writing are copyright
*  1992 by Thomas Miller...copying and distribution of these stories
*  is permissible only under the condition that no part of them will
*  be used or sold for profit.  In that case, I hope you enjoy them.
*    The dungeons and non-player characters contained herein are from
*  TSR's module, A2, and are copyright 1980 by TSR, Inc.  Although
*  they are reprinted after a fashion in this story writeup, they
*  are not being used for profit or personal gain in any way.  In
*  this spirit, verbatim text and maps from the module have been
*  avoided.  I would encourage anyone who does not own the Slaver
*  series, that is, TSR modules A1-A4, to buy them, as much more
*  enjoyment will come from actually playing them rather than from
*  reading about one party's experiences within.
*
*****

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THE PARTY:

Alindyar, 6th level drow elf mage (N)
Belphanior, 4th/4rd/5th level high elf fighter/mage/thief (CN)
Ged, 5th/5th level grey elf priest/mage of Boccob (NG)
Halbarad, 6th level human ranger (NG)
Mongo Thunderhead, 6th level dwarf fighter (CG)
Peldor, 7th level human thief (N)
Peyote, 5th/5th level half-elf fighter/druid of Obad-Hai (N)
Rob, 6th level human priest of Trithereon (LG)
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                           XX.  The Slavers' Fort



  The party recently plodded through the Slavers' outpost in the city
of Highport.  They managed to find some maps and documents which led
them into the Drachensgrab Hills.  After fending off some wolves and
a pack of ghouls over the course of several days, the group came upon
an old fort.  From brief discussions with others on the road, they
heard that the fort was a way station for caravans...but the papers
they had found told differently.  The fort was actually a cover for
the slaving operation.  Or was it?

Ged:  I seriously doubt that the slavers' operation was confined to
  that temple in the city.  There's got to be more to it than just
  an orcish temple and one slimy thief.
Peldor:  I agree.  That guy didn't seem capable of running the whole
  thing all by himself.
Halbarad:  And certainly no one meant for those documents to fall
  into _our_ hands...
Mongo:  Well, let's go in and kick some more ass!
Peyote:  Them's fightin' words, pardner.
Belphanior:  Let's invade the fort.  After all, we're 2 for 2.
Alindyar:  I say we wait until dark and then scout the place.
Halbarad:  Seems sensible to me.
Rob:  Sense?

  The party waited until nightfall (actually long after), and Peldor
and Belphanior went in for a closer look.  They found that there was
a deep ditch surrounding the fort, and climbed down inside it.  After
walking around the whole length of the ditch, they spotted some sort
of crude rope hanging down from the curtain wall to the north of the
fort.  The rope looked like it went up to the second floor.  Peldor
found that he could actually get to the rope without having to leave
the shadows.  The two thieves decided that this was the best way in
and went back to inform the others.

Belphanior:  The top wall has guards here and there.  They would most
  likely spot us if we all tried to climb the wall.
Peldor:  But we are happy to report that there is a rope hanging down
  from a higher floor, at one point.  It seems to have gone unnoticed
  by anybody, and felt pretty strong.
Ged:  Rubbish!  Nobody would leave a rope just hanging down for us to
  climb up!
Halbarad:  Maybe they're orcs.  Orcs are pretty stupid, you know.
Alindyar:  So you wish to have us all climb up this rope?
Belphanior:  Well...yeah, sort of.
Peyote:  Way dangerous, dude.
Peldor:  What's the matter?  Can't you climb a rope?
Rob:  Climb?  I don't know if I can do it guys.
Ged:  Maybe you'll fall.  Then _I'll_ have to turn all the undead.
Belphanior:  Hey guys, I can always start shooting guards on the wall.
Halbarad:  Let's climb.  They have no reason to suspect we are coming
  here...
Ged:  You don't call that burning temple back in Highport a reason?
Belphanior:  (to Peldor)  Nah.  Couldn't be.
Rob:  Burning?  Fire?  Did we do that?
Halbarad:  ...and in any case, no one would leave a rope there like
  that.  Even a dim-witted thief would have pulled it back up.  There
  is no reason to leave it.  I say we go up.
Belphanior:  Second!
Peyote:  It's too dangerous, man.
Alindyar:  Logic says that we should ascend.
Rob:  Logic?
Mongo:  Logic?  What use is that?  Let's go free some slaves!
Ged:  I think it's a stupid plan, but I'll go along with it anyway.

  The party stalked along the ditch, and found the rope.  Peldor went
up first, and Alindyar went last (he had a spell all but ready to go
at the first sign of trouble).  Shortly, everybody was up and through
the window without incident.  They found themselves in a dusty passage
with a door at one end.  Arrow slits every ten feet or so exposed the
hallway to pale shafts of moonlight.

Belphanior:  Say, there sure are a lot of cobwebs in here.
Alindyar:  Verily.  It would seem that no one has used this area in
  quite some time.
Peldor:  Maybe some thief came through and murdered them all.  I'll
  check that door.
Rob:  (walks into some webs and gets them all over his face)  Aaaa.
Mongo:  I'm too short to hit any of those cobwebs.  I'll check for
  monsters hiding in the rafters instead.
Ged:  Look.  Someone walked through here barefoot, from the door to
  the window.  Maybe it was whoever made that rope.
Peyote:  Maybe.  Who knows?  (to DM)  I keep an eye out for ambushing
  spiders.  Also I watch Peldor.
Halbarad:  Keep the noise down.  Somebody might hear us.
Rob:  Or see us.
Belphanior:  Or smell us.
Ged:  (looking around)  I get a vague feeling of uneasiness from
  this room...
Peyote:  Hmm.  Yeah, man, you're right.
Rob:  Me too.  I wonder what it is.
Alindyar:  Mayhap the place is haunted.
Belphanior:  (muttering to himself)  Stupid priests.  Scared of the
  dark.
Peldor:  (hears no noise, finds no trap, opens the door)  Hey, guys,
  there's another room over here.
Ged:  We might have guessed that, if you hadn't spoiled it for us.
Peyote:  (sauntering into the room)  More exits!  We'll be lost in
  no time!
Peldor:  Not with Peldor to scout the way!
Rob:  Look, guys.  Stairs!
Peyote:  Wow...
Halbarad:  Stairs up and down, and a door.  Let us go up.
Peldor:  Shh!  I hear noises.  (cocks an ear)  From above!  Not too
  load, though.  Sounds like someone's walking around up there.
Belphanior:  Much as I hate to say it, maybe we should avoid setting
  off an alarm here.  (voices are lowered to a whisper; no one seems
  to be coming down, though.)
Ged:  Good advice.
Mongo:  What about down?  Let's go down the stairs.
Halbarad:  I can't see anything down there through these windows.
Peldor:  Looks like a courtyard.  But there's a door at the bottom
  of this stairway.
Rob:  Let's go down there.  (the party proceeds to do so)
DM:  (rolling dice)  Someone set off a trap...it was Mongo.
Ged:  Thanks a lot, dwarf!
Mongo:  Hey!  Wasn't my fault!
Rob:  (hit by something heavy that fell and broke over his head)
  Ugh.
DM:  A blinding flash happens, followed by the sound of tinkling
  glass.  None of you can see, as your eyes are dazzled for now.
Ged:  Hey, no fair.
Halbarad:  #&$*%@!
Rob:  (dazed)  I'm dazed.
Peyote:  Dazed and confused.  Even my infravision won't help here,
  I guess.  Who's in the lead?
Mongo:  That'd be me...I feel for the wall and grope my way down
  the rest of the stairs.
Rob:  I move on down the stairs too.
DM:  ?!  Can you really see that well with your eyes blinded?
Rob:  Sure.  It's just like walking around in the dark!
DM:  Oh yeah?  Roll your Dex or less, Rob.
Rob:  (rolls a 19)  Oops.  (slips and falls, knocking Halbarad,
  Peyote, and Mongo down to the bottom of the stairs with him.
  All four suffer some bruises, and the old door almost cracks
  open with the weight.)
Mongo:  Good going...
Rob:  Sorry.
Peldor:  I'm glad _I_ wasn't in the front...
Alindyar:  I am at the rear of the party.  Good.  I carefully sit
  down and wait for my sight to return.  I also find my wand of
  magic missiles and hold it at the ready in case any noises come
  from the top of the stairway.

  Eventually they untangled themselves and unlatched the door, but
not for a few minutes (their vision returned shortly).  The cause
of the slipping and sliding was revealed to be thousands of marbles
which has been released from the glass bulb which hit Rob.  An open
courtyard was indeed below, its earthen ground covered with bits
of trash.  There was a curtain wall, complete with drawbridge and
portcullis, to the north.  A huge gatehouse stood to the south of
the courtyard.  A tunnel led into the gatehouse, but a muddy patch
of disturbed ground blocked the way.  The portcullis was almost all
of the way down.

Mongo:  I smell shit.
Ged:  Maybe Rob did it, when he fell down the stairs.
Belphanior:  Maybe that patch isn't mud after all...
Rob:  I could go investigate it.
Halbarad:  Stay where you are.  We'll search the courtyard.  Keep
  your voices down, too.  There are guards about.  Let's search
  for other ways out.  Or in.
Peldor:  You bet I will.  (wanders away to the east, skirting the
  patch of whatever)
Peyote:  (searching the west area)  I hear the crickets chirping...
Ged:  Maybe you should try and talk to them.
Peyote:  Hey!  Not a bad idea.  Thanks!

  Peldor found a small room to the east that had winches, presumably
for the gates to the north.  No one else found anything at all.  The
adventurers regrouped, and stepped out carefully into the mud.

Mongo:  Okay, okay.  I'll go first.  (steps out)  Uh...
Halbarad:  It's filling my boots.
Peyote:  Gross.  Well, at least it's not like we didn't stink already.
DM:  Yeah.  When was the last time anyone took a bath?
All:  err...
Rob:  (gingerly enters the mud)  Yuck.
Mongo:  I'm sunken in!  Up to my thighs!  I'll drown for sure!
Belphanior:  That's what you get for being short.  (to DM)  I wind up
  behind Rob in the line, and push him into the mud when feasible.
Ged:  I refuse to walk through that.  (digs out his stone figurine
  and waves it about, chanting quietly.  Within moments, a stony
  horse has materialized, and the elf mounts it and heads for the
  muck.)  Hah.  Boccob smiles upon his faithful.
Alindyar:  (unrolls his flying carpet)  I, too, have no desire to wade
  into the deep mud.  My spellbooks would be ruined.
Belphanior:  You guys are wimps.  _My_ spellbook is inside of its very
  own waterproof bag.
Ged:  Well aren't YOU special.
Peldor:  (manages to talk Alindyar into letting him ride on the carpet
  too)  Peldor always travels in style.
Belphanior:  (preparing to push Rob down into the mud)

  Suddenly, the crickets were chirping no more.  Those in the lead just
had time to draw their weapons, and then a giant, chitinous worm-like
form erupted from the mud, spraying several adventurers with smelly
brown slop.

Mongo:  We are under attack!  (raises his hammer high)





next time:  The element of surprise is finally lost...

************************************************************************
NOTES:  I find it odd that whoever wrote A2 could only think of one
way to get the party into the fort.  This party had several ideas, none
of them feasible (for me to DM, anyway) so I used the rope.  They had
never had the chance to talk to the escaped slave who made and used
that rope.  A lot of slaves seemed to escape the Slave Lords early on.
  The reason that the party could spill a million marbles and not get
caught has to do with the area of curtain wall they entered through.
The humanoid guards knew that portions of the wall were haunted...at
times in the past some of them had been killed within.  Thus, any and
all noises coming from the second floor were ignored by those on the
third.  Just another part of the "only one way in" trend, I suppose.
The party wanted to get to the heart of the fort as soon as possible,
so they didn't tarry in unnecessary combat early on.
  This posting is a mere 12K or so long.  I am going to make shorter
segments (no more 30K+ postings for now) and maybe release them more
often.  I like using the serial/cliffhanger approach.  Hopefully the
30th episode will happen within module A4 (the best of the bunch in
my opinion).
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