“That giant iguana looked threatening. Lucky for you I assassinated it.” - Thorc
A troglodyte. They died like chumps.
Thorc had been slumming it in the city. He’d been slumming it for a while now as his funds were running low. The guild he nominally worked for didn’t have any contracts at the moment, or at least no contracts for a fresh-faced dwarf new to the business. He was busy drowning his sorrows when he was approached by a bulky half-orc. The pair struck up an instant friendship based on a mutual love of gold, killing and adventure. Before he knew it Thorc had agreed to hire on with the half orc as he delved into the darkness beneath – the mega-dungeon on the outskirts of the city.
The band descended beneath the earth into the entrance cavern that Ugh was now more than familiar with. After a hurried conversation they ventured south towards the cave of Gulag the ogre and hopefully the lizard folk lair. Ughconducted a brief trade for two potions of transformation for which he exchanged a dog to serve as a loyal companion to the ogre. While the trade was conducted Thorc set about pilfering as many coins from the ogres abode as possible though his thievery was delayed somewhat by his confusion concerning the ogre’s mysterious accent. Was it French?
Happy with the trade the group continued exploring the tunnels further south west. There they found a grisly warning, several Neanderthal heads, lizard maws and crab shell parts were spiked on stakes and on clear gruesome display. Continuing undeterred the band encountered a troll alone in a cave piled with bones. The troll was amenable to conversation and Ugh held a brief chat during which he was warned to watch out for the fungus and asked to hunt up some crab meat from the crab folk that lived in east. The conversation started to degenerate when Ugh mentioned the possibility of a trade and the troll headed over to its bone pile to dig out the pretty bottles it had been saving. Unfortunately Thorc had been into the beasts treasure pile and cleared the troll out. Heated words were exchanged and Ugh swore to retrieve the missing coins and bottles from his small sneaky companion. When Ugh caught up with Thorc the rogue denied ever messing with the trolls stuff and rather than waste time arguing the pair set off again though Ugh swore to keep an eye on the shifty dwarf.
Their next major encounter was with trogyldytes. The shifty looking mutant trog with frogs legs was the first to fall though it was soon joined by its reptilian brethren. The group had taken a few minor wounds and early on the combat the trogs screech had scared off Fang whom the group had to track down. Ugh sure was attached to the mutt. Sadly the trogs had no treasure on them. An alcove off the trog room held a iguana stable housing a single giant iguana. Ugh considered the docile beast before him thinking it would make a great mount. Lost in thought he was surprised to see a hand axe take half the beasts head off. Thorc quickly ran to retrieve his weapon. “I just saved you from that iguana. Thank me later.” Opening the iguana’s saddlebags Thorc was delighted to find an unlabelled potion. He uncorked it “Don’t worry it will be healing.” He mentioned to the concerned looking half-orc. Much to the DM’s disappointment the dwarf was right and the minor wounds he had suffered in the trog battle and from a minor punji pit trap were healed.
Scouting south the band found a tunnel that had been fortified with rocks as if attempting to seal off something in the chamber beyond. Hooking up a grapple hook the pair shimmied down into the chamber only to see it full of floating orbs wreathed with tentacles. Deciding discretion was the best bet they hurriedly retreated. Disconcertingly the orbs gave pursuit but where swiftly out-distanced.
Further exploration led to a tunnel filled with mist. Initially apprehensive about it the group decided to chance it. As they breathed deeply of the mist they found their spirits set free from their bodies and melding into one spirit which the two great minds battled for control of. They took this out of body experience as an opportunity to explore. They found a cave full of fish within which was a submerged tunnel which lead ultimately to a larger lake that housed a creature’s substantial treasure pile. Further exploration discovered a tunnel to the swampland above. The out of body experience was not to last however and they were soon back in their bodies, Fang slumbering blissfully unaware next to them.
While Ugh pondered how to get to the sizeable horde Thorc came up with the easy answer. Using his advanced direction sense the dwarf could determine the approximate location of the swamp entrance on the surface. Ugh saw the logic in the plan and the pair retreated from the dungeon to slog across the swamp. It was not long before they had discovered the swamp entrance to the trog. lair.
The swamp entrance descended into the earth and its entrance chamber was guarded by two ferocious and enormous lizards with acid for spittle. Unfortunately for the lizards they were chained to the caverns wall and with such slow reactions the group sprinted past them as they ponderously maneuvered to intercept. Racing to the horde room Thorc dived in to the lake and plundered all the important looking gems and items as swiftly as he could. Both of them knew that staying too long risked the owner of the horde returning which could spell doom for their expedition. Laden with the most valuable of treasures the pair fled back past the languid guardian lizards and returned to the surface.
"Now that Karl is dead I get his share right?" - Franz the porter
Would you trust these Under hobbits?
Once more Ugh found himself in a tavern surrounded by spiritless men and shiftless women. He found himself light on funds having paid for training and so promised an untried duo Karl and Franz 10% of the loot found on the next expedition. Karl looked like he could barely hold a sword and Franz wasn’t interested in fighting at all though he agreed to help carry the lantern and any sacks of loot required. Figuring this was the best he was going to be able to do Ugh ventured once more into the darkness beneath.
This time he explored to the northeast towards the Halflings. Fang the orc-mastiff growled as it approached the area. It had picked up the scent of orcs though these orcs had perished some days ago, their bodies decomposing in the corridor undisturbed. Ugh continued and was surprised to find the Under Halfling hiding spot abandoned. Pressing on he emerged in a large cavern full of stalagmites. Earlier Ugh had lent Karl his old bastard sword and the hireling had been busily swinging the blade in practise motions at stalagmites despite Ugh’s insistence that he stop mucking around. As they explored the natural cavern Ugh heard a manly shriek. Karl dropped the blade swearing it had turned into a serpent before his very eyes. It was then that a booming voice ordered them to drop their weapons and treasure of they would regret it. Ugh would have none of this and eventually called the voices bluff. Five Halflings with slings at the ready emerged from their hiding spots about the cavern. The half-orc and his companions felt outmatched and fled.
Cursing the loss of his sword and vowing to take it out of Karl’s wages, Ugh returned to the cavern. Here he encountered a short fellow wearing a jaunty hat, carrying a cane and speaking with a lilting voice that sounded like a poor version of Irish. As it so happened the diminutive fellow was Ugh’s best friend or so the half-orc believed for he had been bewitched. Ugh was for some reason still deeply suspicious of his new best friend but did permit the short fellow to cast a spell of invisibility on his dog.
Upon return to his hirelings Ugh found Karl doubtful of the Halflings motives but Ugh shrugged his accusations off. Ignoring Karl’s pleas to put the little buggers to the sword Ugh stomped off to the south to explore the area where his one time thief companion had heard reptilian roars.
The band was confronted by the severed heads of several elves placed on spikes in the twisting tunnels to the south. The elves decapitated bodies lay as they fell. The group barely had time to take in the grisly warning when they heard the sounds of combat echoing along the tunnels. Creeping ahead they saw a band of troglydytes and Neanderthals locked in melee. The Neanderthals appeared to be protecting a demonic looking crab human hybrid. Ugh let the battle play out for a while partly to allow each side to wear each other down but also because he did not know which side to aid. Eventually Ugh leapt to the assistance of the troglydytes, choosing to do battle with the unnatural crab abomination. Karl held back but later would join the fray only to be cut down by a Neanderthals crab claw club. Such is the brutal and short life of the hireling.
The battle was grueling; Ugh was finding it difficult to land a telling blow with his great sword as his opponent’s solid shell served as most effective armour. Fang was having a great time of it felling several brutes with his powerful jaws. The crab beast turned out to be some form of shaman and it channeled mystic energy into its mighty claw before landing a telling blow on Ugh, which rent through the half-orcs armour. Badly wounded Ugh called the retreat and easily outdistanced the crab thing as the beast found it difficult to navigate the tunnels, as it had to scuttle sideways. Ugh reached into his pack and retrieved the wand of doors he had found earlier. He uttered the command word and magically a sturdy door popped into existence sealing the tunnel behind him and protecting his retreat.
It did not take long for the crab thing to reach the door and begin battering it down. The door had bought Ugh enough time to reach the pool of healing and take a long draught. Feeling better Ugh went looking for the crab beast again and lured the enraged abomination into the Halfling chamber. Surely his new friends would aid him in his battle.
Instead the Halflings were angry. They cursed the half-orc for bringing such a deadly foe to their home. Such was not the act of a friend, they declared. Ugh and Fang would have to battle the brute on their own and they did for a time. Fang landed some heavy blows tearing into the creatures face. It staggered under the blows and looked ready to fall. At the command ‘Finish them’ the Halflings drew short swords and looked ready to move in. Ugh hoped they were going to assist. In the end the Halflings had left it too late as Fang the mighty Orc-Mastiff seized the creatures head in its powerful jaws and tore it clean off. The battle had ended and the unnatural crab abomination was no more.
Ugh returned to the southern tunnels to search the main battle site in the hope of loot. He was disappointed that the combatants had nothing of worth though Franz his porter did spot a ruby clutched in the hand of one of the decapitated elves. Rigor mortis had set in and some finger bones had to be broken to liberate the gem. Thus far the expedition had yielded only this gem as treasure. Eager for more the band pressed on exploring the twisting tunnels.
It did not take long before they were challenged by a towering brutish ogre. Fortune smiled on Ugh for the ogre was inclined to talk and even offered to share one of the troglydytes that the brute planned to eat. The ogre introduced himself as Gulag and offered to trade with the half-orc for a few potions he had lying about. Unfortunately the ogre wanted an impressive hound like Fang as a trade. Fang was far too valuable and so Ugh refused. The half-orc did get to spy the ogre’s treasure horde as the brute dug through the pile to find things for trade. Deciding not to press his luck Ugh bid the ogre good day and retreated back to the safety of the surface.
"Oh crap. That's not fair. I already killed it once!" - Ugh
Fang I. The orc-mastiff that survived.
Ugh looked about the tavern but sadly none within shared his adventurous spirit. Sighing he took on the services of a sullen man at arms named Werner and headed for the dungeon. On the way he passed the cities kennels and decided to recruit some canine allies. Fortune favoured the half-orc who walked out with two orc-mastiffs, huge brutal dogs bred for hunting orcs. Ugh was lucky that his half-orc heritage had not left him with an orcish scent
Entering the dungeon Ugh returned to the hobgoblin occupied cave where he and his thievish companion had left off. The unfortunately named hobgoblin Furby remained in the cavern though he had little to say. Ugh had the hobgoblin help him lower his two mastiffs down a short drop before exploring some tunnels inscribed with odd tribal markings from an ancient lizard man culture. Many of the carvings depicted lizardmen cavorting with dinosaurs. While engrossed in deciphering these complex carvings Ugh’s lead mastiff took a tumble down a pit. Ugh held the lead tight and for a time seemed to be choking his own dog. Eventually he lowered the beast to the base of the pit and discovered that the shaft led to a series of tunnels.
Ugh bravely descended and began exploring. He discovered three orange gems that glowed with an inner fire lying discarded in the centre of separate chambers. Despite his paranoia these did not seem to be trapped. It was then that he discovered a door into a mist shrouded corridor. Holding his breath he plunged in. After some exploring, hampered by the vision obscuring mist, Ugh stumbled across a tentacled fire breathing floating abomination. The battle was a drawn out affair wherein Werner and one of the hounds perished in gouts of flame and Ugh himself was badly burned. Eventually Ugh’s remaining dog Fang wore the creature down ripping out the beast’s central eye. Yet this did not seem to be the end for the creature. It appeared shimmering in a mystical circle in the floor before letting lose with another burst of flame that mercifully missed. Ugh retreated then attempted to dispel the abomination by throwing the collected orange crystals into the mystic circle and hoping for some sort of reaction. Perhaps he was successful as the monster winked out of existence and bothered him no more. Ugh was free to loot the creature’s substantial horde.
Beaten and bloodied Ugh pressed his luck with a little more exploration of the tunnels within the pit. Pushing west he encountered a room full of statues including one of an intriguing crocodile. Its jaws were hinged in such a fashion to suggest it would accept donations. Ugh fed it the fire crystals and as a reward he felt smarter, stronger and more charismatic. Not wishing to press his luck further Ugh retreated from the dungeon.
A map back when I was motivated enough to draw them by hand
Ugh ventured once more beneath the earth. This time he shared the risk and reward with Willyam the human thief along with a desperate mecenary and a pair of torch bearers.
Ugh was surprised to hear Willyam initiate the idea of scouting ahead. The last thief Ugh had taken up with had been reluctant to risk his life serving as point man. Willyam scouted to the edges of the torch light allowing his eyes to adjust to the murky gloom. Eastward he crept till his ears made out the sound of some reptilian roar reverberating from far off long the twisting tunnels. Rather than discover the nature of the roar Willyam chose to scout the remaining tunnels that lead into the entrance chamber. Ugh looked disappointed as he longed to shed blood. Willyam explained his decision as a preference to leaving nothing at his back.
Scouting north Willyam came across the slumped body of an orc, its throat slit. Proceeding cautiously Willyam’s sharp senses picked up the aroma of Halfling pipe weed. Pausing and waiting, the thief’s caution was rewarded as he saw a Halflings face illuminated as it puffed at a pipe from a low crevice hidden in the corridor. The thief noted the location as an excellent point for an ambush. Willyam recalled tales of tribes of Halflings dwelling deep underground known as Under Halflings. They were notorious for their thievery and ill nature. Returning to his companion the two agreed to try talking before violence. Willyam crept back to the Halflings hiding place, knelt down so it was obvious that he knew were the rogue was and extended his hand to help the little fellow out.
The two struck up a conversation. The Under Halfling was part of a larger group that claimed the northern caverns. The diminutive fellow was called Karl and if they needed a place to recover they were welcome to use their caves. The odd looking Halfling also mentioned a treasure guarded by a large toad to the north. He didn’t know what the treasure was but knew the toad must be keeping something because “that’s what toads do ‘eh governor?” He warned that the toad had swallowed an Under Halfling whole and advised they take care. Ugh readied his mighty two handed blade and set off toad hunting.
The cavern of the Toad was vast. Along the northern wall a large lake loomed and from the lake sprung a waterfall running in reverse. Not seeing any immediate threat Ugh took to poling through the edges of the lake with his 10’ pole. His searching was rewarded as he struck a solid object. It was then that his dark vision spotted the huge toad swimming towards the shore. Falling back the warrior prepared for the toad to beach itself. Willyam readied a flaming oil flask. The toad made the shore. Strange vapor played around the immense beasts mouth. The half orc charged. The toad’s head flew off. Blood and foul ichor drenched the half orc. Ugh earned the monicker toad slayer. The object in the lake turned out to be a locked coffer, which Willyam deftly picked after oiling the lock. It contained a valuable necklace worth a small fortune.
Pressing on the group uncovered a well dedicated to the healing gods. It had long been covered with mineral deposits and its once lavish decorations were barely visible. The water within it had long turned brackish. As the party was uninjured they did not see the need to drink from the fountain. Further exploration revealed a flaming ball rolling around the ceiling at the end of a cavernous corridor. Suspecting something more to the mystery further exploration was defeated by bolts of fire that on occasion leapt from the flaming ceiling sphere. Additonal exploration revealed a stone tablet clutched in the skeletal fingers of a long dead priest. The tablet served as a scroll to some loathsome deity and was inscribed in a magical language neither adventurer could decipher. Eventually the party struck south as Willyam had the notion to find the ooze Ugh had told him about.
Instead the party ventured far further south than they had intended and found a natural chamber full of mushroom patches in which lurked a hobgoblin. The hobgoblin was a friendly sort. He had escaped some sort of dungeon deeper in the earth. He warned them of some of the local inhabitants. Crab men to the east and Troglydtyes to the South. The friendly goblinoid, called Furby had little else to offer information wise. It was here that the party decided to retreat back to the surface their foray done for the time being.
"Look at all the bodies. These stairs must lead somewhere important." - Head Head
One of the goblins. They turned out to be nice.
The infamous series of caves known as The Darkness Beneath lay close to the city and expeditions would on occasion brave the depths in search of gold and glory. Herein lies an honest and truthful account of the expedition of a young halfling rogue and a good natured half orc warrior.
Head Head hefted his crowbar over his shoulder and crept down the stairs that were hewn into the natural rock. He muttered to himself about the poor recruits available for hire back in the city. 5 gold had earned the services of Boris, a down on his luck man at arms who carried the groups lantern in one hand and a rusty axe in the other. Ugh in his heavy banded armour clanked ahead. There had been some talk of Head stealthily scouting the area though the halfling had insisted that such a move would be suicide. Far better to have the armoured half orc lead the way.
At the base of the stairs they found a natural cavern. The air was humid, stalactites and mites were in abundance and water trickled from the cavern ceiling forming puddles on the floor. As they entered Boris’ lantern light sent something scurrying off into the darkness. Head dismissed the scurrying sound as ‘just rats’ though he wasn’t convinced of this. Ugh began tapping the walls of the massive cavern hoping for a hollow sound that might indicate a secret door. Head poked about the uneven cavern floor uncovering a giant sized sack lying discarded against a wall. With a number of passages branching off this cavern the pair settled on a worked stone passage that struck its way west.
The passage soon filled with mist which emerged from a bubbling mud pool at the passage edge. Ugh crept up to the pool and cautiously peered in seeing nothing but an opaque dusty white liquid. Head smashed a few stalactites loose with his crowbar and began heaving them into the muck. No one was surprised when the muck began to lurch its way out of the pool and ooze towards the source of it’s irritation. Discretion being the better part of valor the trio retreated further up the corridor and into the unknown with the ooze in slow pursuit.
The passage ended in a chamber with three exits. The most impressive was a pair of double doors bound in brass. Head tried the doors but found them locked. He delved into his pack, removed his trusty set of lock picks and set to work. Boris noticed movement at the edge of the lantern light. The ooze had followed them. Ugh and Boris had at it with bastard sword and axe landing mighty blows that seemed to have little effect on the creature. At one point the ooze lashed out with a psuedopod landing a telling blow on the half orc and spattering him with acid. Roaring in pain Ugh took the closest way out, a door to the north. Throwing it open he ran down a short corridor before stopping just short of the edge of a pit. Boris hurried up behind him and together they shimmied down the pit with the aid of a rope. At the base of the pit Ugh’s booted feet crunched down on bone. Looking about him the half orc saw he was standing amongst the bones of many dead dwarves and men. He and Boris waited anxiously to see if the ooze would follow them.
Head froze at the brass bound doors and watched nervously as the ooze began to follow his companions before changing its mind (if oozes can be said to have minds) and returning back down the passage. It hadn’t noticed the Halfling thanks to Head’s amazing stealth. Head finished with the lock before deciding to mess with the ooze. He beat the creature to its pool which he then sealed off with a weighted down giant sack. This puzzled the creature no end as it attempted time and time again to enter it’s pool without success. In the meantime Ugh had climbed out of the pit thinking the coast clear. He than began shouting for his Halfling friend fearing the worst.
The group reunited and explored beyond the double doors finding a room with six desiccated goblin corpses impaled upon bone spikes and an ominous set of stairs heading down. Head was keen to venture deeper into the caves but Ugh persuaded him to continue exploring this level. There was much still to discover. They ventured back into the pit of bones and discovered two corridors branching off it, one man made and the other a natural cavern.
The band set forth along the man made passage following its twists and turns til they reached a door. Head eagerly pushed it open to find a chamber full of goblins. The creatures were engaged in a knife game and were not immediately hostile. They seemed to think the group had been sent by some nearby bugbears to retrieve a treasure, this was a delusion the heroes encouraged. Ugh won them over by participating in their cutting game using his own bastard sword to cut his name into his arm rather than the proffered rusty dagger smeared in goblin blood. With the half orc the winner of the cutting game the goblins celebrated by getting drunk on orcsmead a notorious brew the group knew little about and surreptitiously refused to drink.
During the goblin celebrations Head spied some loose silver and a potion bottle amongst the goblins belongs which he helped himself to and none were any the wiser distracted as they were with getting drunk. The band then set off to defeat the trap which guarded the treasure the bugbears so desired. The trap proved to be a series of savage scything blades that Head defeated with a well placed boulder. The treasure was theirs a set of mastercrafted platemail armour and a matching great sword. Both where claimed by Ugh. Content with their relative success the group retreated from the caves and headed back to civilization.