Open Megadungeon

Oozes, traps and the cutting game
"Look at all the bodies. These stairs must lead somewhere important." - Head Head

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.

Ubbo

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.

Dungeon

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Allies, decapitated toads and loot
“I dub thee Ugh Toad slayer.” – Willyam

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.

Toad

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.

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Mastiffs and abominations
"Oh crap. That's not fair. I already killed it once!" - Ugh

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.

Latest map

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Assassinating Iguana's and loot!
“That giant iguana looked threatening. Lucky for you I assassinated it.” - Thorc

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. Ugh conducted 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.

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Dragons, assassins and thieves
‘I’ll wait then assassinate them some more.’ – Thorc on his ill-fated mission

Thorc and Ugh returned to the entrance they had located in the Brackenfells swamplands. Thorc scouted his way down all but invisible to the naked eye wearing the shadows like a cloak. At the entrance chamber he noted the two guardian lizards this time supported by three hideous reptilian trogs. The Trogs seemed engrossed in some form of game involving bones and so the dwarf edged closer to one of the monstrous giant lizards. Picking his moment the assassin slit the beasts throat releasing a stream of acidic ichor. The sizzle and smell alerted the trogs whose deafening screech echoed throughout the warrens. Thorc fled back up the stairs with the brutes breathing down his neck. At the top of the stairs Ugh and his hound fang waited in ambush. The fight was short and brutal with the trogs displaying insane courage or stupidity as they battled to the death.

With combat over Thorc again crept down the stairs hoping to catch the remaining guard lizard unawares. He was surprised to note a number of hooded trogs wielding wicked jagged blades taking in the scene and setting up a watch. They had emerged from a nearby sink hole and moved in such a way as to remind the dwarf of assassins. Thorc watched them for a moment before he heard the armoured clanking of his half orc companion. Ugh had become bored of waiting for the dwarf. The trogs looked to be setting an ambush for his companion and so Thorc sprung his own throwing a dagger at the nearest trog and spoiling the creatures assassination attempt. During the battle a trog fled east, Ugh considered following him but instead chose to finish the trog assassins closer to hand.

Another brutal and short combat saw the pair victorious. Fearing reinforcements from the sinkhole from which the trog assassins had emerged Ugh sealed the sinkhole with a flick of his door producing wand creating a trapdoor. The pair began piling bodies onto the trapdoor when they were interrupted by a deep booming voice.

Dragon 1

“Well what have we here?” the pair turned to see a reptilian beast with scales of a deep ocean blue. It’s long sinuous neck and wings reminded the pair of the tales of dragons. “Why if it isn’t the thieves back for more. I see you are carrying my helmet and shield. Return all you stole and I shall consider letting you live.” Thorc began backing away. “Don’t think I cannot see you dwarf! Stay where you are and return that helm and I might let you live. I shall not ask you again and I give you 5 seconds to ponder your decision.” Ugh made a non committal grunt and Thorc began to run. The Water Dragon exhaled and a great cloud of acid filled the chamber. Thorc and Fang flesh melted from their bones and they died howling. The world about Ugh went dark.

Ugh opened his eyes. If this was the after life why was a hobbit woman staring down at him. Where was the fighting and valkyries of Valhalla he had been promised? “Thank goodness you are alive.” The hobbit said. “We were captured by the trogs and I fear will be sacrificed soon. You were badly injured but Yollanda, my god healed you. My name is Jana.”
“Silence!” hissed a shadowed figure. It scurried forward and Ugh could se his jailor was a giant arachnid gifted bizarrely with speech.

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Tunnels, manticores and survival
"Move your rump out of my way!" - Milgos

The spider muttered something about the group not being worthy of the master’s attention before Ugh grew sick of the beast and threatened to pee on it. The spider scurried away leaving the half orc to catch up with Jana and her companion in private. Her till now unconscious companion was a dark elf who was actually a nice enough person with a penchant for magic. He tended towards arrogance but had forsworn his dark brethrens edgy lifestyle. While Milgos sorted himself out Ugh set about finding a way out of the cell in which they found themselves. Using a thigh bone as a chisel and skull as a hammer he set about the walls only to find them particularly weak at a certain point. He persisted with his hammering to reveal a narrow walk space. Janna, being a small hobbit, was sent to scout it out. To the north she found a huge sinkhole and to the south a chamber guarded by mounted trogs. While Jana was gone the spider returned but was again put to flight at the sight of ugh adjusting the drawstring on his trousers and threatening to douse the creature with a substance other than oil.

The party decided to crawl south along a very cramped escape tunnel. Jana lead the way and was challenged at one point by the owner of the tunnel. She described the creature as a humanoid mole like creature. Milgos insisted on trying to see the critter but the half-orc block his vision. The Dark elf cursed and desperately squeezed but to no avail, he suspected it was a deep gnome but was unable to confirm this. The creature asked if they were friends of the lizard folk. Ugh said no but the dark elf said yes. The critter wished them luck and left them to continue grazing their arms and legs as they wormed their way along the narrow passage.

Bah quick summary to continue and be fleshed out later.

Trogs distracted dark elf’s sound spell of footsteps. Party sneak past.

Mantiore

Party encounter two manticores. Won’t give up Halfling as food. Darkness spell. Manticores cursing. Party running.

Head back along tunnel to hear spider cursing their escape.

Find stairs down. Looking for way out not way deeper. Continue.

Find strange metal curtain. Leave alone.

Find metal statue and rusting devices. Shimmy down crevasse to check things out when attacked by statue. Ugh badly hurt. Flee.

Hear ogre and flee. Hide in mushroom forest. Ogre seems friendly but wants loot. Party have no treasure so ogre disappointed. Brother of other ogre Ugh bought the dog for. Hole in roof of mushroom chamber. Ogre gives silk to sell in town and gear up, his investment in their expedition to kill the manticores and take their treasure. Ogre gives boost and party escapes.

Trog map2

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Hurling hyenas
"Get the mage Fang. Good boy." - Ugh

Milgos let out a long sigh and slumped at the inn’s table. He had been interviewing potential hirelings all day and none were suitable. Too old, too fat and even those that had seemed fit enough to hold a torch where too ugly. He was lucky to have hired on the feisty warrior women Betty and Beatrice when he did. While the dark elf had been interviewing Ugh had been drinking. He was living the life now, drinking Bugman’s finest from the top shelf. Beneath his table his ‘dog’ Fang crunched through chicken carcass after chicken carcass. Fang’s gluttony could be excused as the beast needed the energy for the coming delve. ‘It’s time to go’ Milgos said as he stood. “It’s just you, your hound and the girls. Let us hope that will be enough for the trials ahead.”

Hurrying through the cleared upper caverns the band once more found themselves descending a flight of stairs. At their base a familiar statue issued it’s customary challenge to which the group responded with their names and titles. Nothing adverse happened so they pressed on till they came to a door. Both placed an ear against it and yet heard nothing. Fang however let out a low growl. Ugh grabbed the handle and heaved the door open.

Beyond was a wizard’s laboratory. Along the walls was an assortment of bones. Long benches covered in candles and apparatus of a magical nature cluttered the place. A man in long crimson robes stood at a lectern intently studying a tome. Close to the door the group had flung open reclined a warrior in mail with a sword on his lap. Milgo’s dropped a globe of darkness on the surprised robbed figure while Ugh and the hired help savaged the seated warrior. The unfortunate fighter swiftly fell to their assault. Cursing the darkness the wizard called upon his minions to strike and lo and behold the bones along the walls assembled themselves into skeleton warriors. During the conflict Ugh hurled Fang into the globe of darkness hoping his dog would attack the mage. In fact he gave strict instructions to the hyena to do this but was ignored as the hyena could not understand common. Instead it preferred to crush the skulls of the undead between it’s slavering jaws. Eventually the mage was put down while trying to flee and there was much rejoicing at the loot won. Milgos used his staff of the apprentice to identify several valuable magical items.

It was during the looting that the party decided to split up. After some pranks involving a wizard locked door’ Milgos got bored and decided to see what lay beyond a door to the south. It was skeletons wielding spears and an excellent opportunity for the dark elf to test out his newly acquired wand. At one stage the skeletons forced the door that Betty and Beatrice were holding, barging into the room and almost slaying the two ladies. Luck was with Milgos however as his wand blasted several to pieces. Ugh made a timely return from his own exploration to finish off the few remaining skeletons. Janna called on her diety to heal the wounds of the girls before the group pressed on.

Heading further south the heroes heard high-pitched yelping and squeeking. Around a corner they saw a group of kobolds trapped on a table as a swarm of giant rats leaped up trying to bite them. The kobolds pleaded for help and the hero’s obliged. The rat’s teeth were sharp and their numbers substantial. Ugh and Fang weathered the furry storm emerging victorious despite suffering from several nasty bites.

The kobolds rewarded their rescuers with a tale of treasure in a secret chamber to the north but warned that orcs also laired that way as well as an ooze. The treasure would have to wait as the band was exhausted and running low on resources. They retreated in good order back to the surface.

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Orc allies and a date with manticores
"Stop this madness!" Milgos the angry dark elf

Milgos spent time recharging his newly acquired wand of magic missiles. Its discovery had him reconsider his prior tactic of leaping into the middle of combat swinging his daggers. Yet the visceral thrill of carving up his opposition was irresistible to the dark elf and he soon found himself purchasing a fine set of matching short swords. He trawled the markets of the city hunting for bargains and found a downtrodden peasant called Berk who’d serve as torchbearer (and who would be completely forgotten by all in the coming conflicts) and a scroll of armour, a spell that was sure to increase his life expectancy.

Ugh on the other hand purchased as many flasks of oil as seemed practical for he recalled the tale of ooze that guarded a secret treasure.

Feeling confident the group returned to the dungeon and found their way back to the chamber from which they had left off. The kobolds, whom they had rescued last delve, were lounging about their chamber feasting on the dried remains of dire rat and oblivious to the parties presence. Ugh marched and kicked the chair out from under on of the poor creatures. Howling in dismay from the dungeon floor the kobold looked up at the armoured half orc that towered overhead. Ugh sought information about the surrounds and learnt that the orcish leader in a nearby chamber was a brute who liked challenges. “Perhaps,” the kobold suggested “you could challenge the brute for leadership of the orcs.” Finding the idea plausible, Ugh accentuated his orc heritage as best he could with the assistance of the kobolds. He bloodied his weapon, draped himself in rancid rat furs and plaited bones into his hair. This ruse would later fail, let down by the half orc’s cultured demeanour and even temperament. Still as the group left the kobolds, Ugh practised his mean skills; insulting the creatures by deliberately mistaking them for gnomes. Gnomes are of course a kobolds arch nemesis. The kobolds were left fuming and conflicted; the heroes had saved them but were also mean.

The mean heroes considered their immediate options. To the north purportedly lay the secret treasure guarded by ooze. A sizzling sound from that direction lent credence to the kobolds intelligence. Behind the door to the west lay the orcs. Milgos placed an ear to the door and made out a low muttering from beyond. Perhaps it was orcish, he couldn’t be sure despite being a fluent speaker of the language. There they stood undecided for some time before Milgos did what he often does and that’s make a rash decision. He opened the door and crept into the chamber sneaking about he determined that the orcs sat at a table concealed by a curtain. Their chest lay in the room unobserved and undefended. Tempting a target though it may be Milgos returned to inform his companions.

The party planned an ambush which was let down by the braying of Fang, Ugh’s hyena. The orcs wrenched aside the curtain, took in the situation and flipped the table grabbing their spears and shields and formed a defensive formation. “Come get us cowards!” screamed Urgosh the largest of the orcs and their nominal leader.

Heated words were exchanged between Ugh and Urgosh till the full blooded orc could stand no more. The creature strode out from behind the shield wall of it’s companions ready to duel the half blood till both combatants were stunned into inaction. “STOP THIS MADNESS!” shouted Milgos the dark elf stepping out from the cover from which he had been watching. The dark elf turned to the orc. “Do you know whom I represent? You know my people, you know our ways. You do not want to anger me.” The orc gulped and looked about nervously. “Do not waste blood duelling my slave.” Milgos gestured to Ugh. “We have bigger enemies to defeat. Follow me and bring you men. We hunt a pair of manticores. You shall share in the spoils.” The orc needed little convincing, seemingly cowed by Milgos’ impressive act. Urgosh gathered his orcs and the whole band set off.

Returning to the swampland above the group the group found the entrance to the troglodyte caverns. From there they rushed the manticores who were caught unawares, lounging as they were after a big meal near their underground lake. The orcs took advantage of their spears reach skewering the brutes while Milgos battered the creatures with magic missiles and Ugh weighed in with his blade. The brutes managed a few inept volleys of tail spikes, that felled a pair of orcs, before being decapitated by a rampaging Ugh. The orcs were given a number of golden cups from the treasure pile. They celebrated by filling them from the manticores underground lake. Miraculously their wounds healed. The orcs believed they had magic cups. Milgos, aided by the magic of his staff of the apprentice, new the truth; the pool was enchanted with healing magic.

Milgos harnessed his orcish allies high spirits by turning them towards clearing out some nearby mounted troglodyte guards. Again the companions revisited a chamber they had explored before. They planned a pincer like strike on the troglodytes but lost the initiative. Their reptilian foe let out a loud screech as they goaded their huge iguana mounts towards the band. The terrifying noise saw Fang and the orcs flee in terror. Fang couldn’t escape however as Ugh held the hyena’s chain tightly in his shield hand. Milgos muttered an arcane chant and the troglodytes fell asleep in their saddles. During the melee Ugh was wrapped up by one of the lizards tongues from which he struggled to escape. Jana, fearing for the half orcs life, leapt into the conflict with her mace but was promptly snatched up by another giant lizard who threatened to tear her asunder. Betty and Beautrice carried the day as they put the lizards to the sword. Upon surveying the scene Milgos was left cursing. He had lost his orc allies and these blasted troglodytes didn’t even have the courtesy to carry their treasure with them.

The battle resolved the group retreated in good order. Back in town they planned their next move.

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Kobold parts, oozes and a ring
'Ugh's paralysed and I'm too weak to take advantage.' - Milgos the cursed

Ugh lamented his lack of success in communicating specific orders to his strange looking dog. If only there was a way to speak with the beast. He went about the city stopping strangers in the street asking them if perhaps they knew of some magic that could aid in chatting to dogs. Most folk avoided him, small children mocked him but one man took time from his busy schedule to assist him. Magnus was a merchant by trade and delayed a chiropractic appointment to inform the desperate half orc that the magic he sought may be within the purview of the mad hermit who dwelt in the forbidden woods to the west. None but the desperate ventured there for it was too dangerous. Ugh made a mental note to seek the recluse at a later point and instead sought out his delving companion. He found the dark elf at the martial square watching on attentively as his hirelings Betty and Beatrice went through their paces. They had recently acquired their henchmen diplomas and could now call themselves warriors. With a full roster the fellowship set off for the dungeon.

As they ventured beneath the earth Berk the forgotten lit up a lantern before fading into the background. Milgos suggested recruiting the orcs again and so the group made their way to the orcs lair. The passageways and rooms seemed as they had been left till they arrived at the kobold’s chamber. There a scene of carnage appalled them. Kobold parts lay strewn willy nilly as the room now better resembled an abattoir. Grimly pressing on they followed a trail of bloody footprints to the orcs barracks. There was no sign of the orcs. A smashed and looted chest against a wall indicated that they were unlikely to encounter their orcish allies. Milgos recalled the secret chamber said to be close at hand and became worried. It seemed Ugh had the same idea and they both rushed to the north where the treasure was said to lie.

Peering into the room the pair saw a grey ooze slowly dissolving a number of bodies. The ooze was pelted with flasks of burning oil, which seemed to have little to no effect. It rolled after them reaching out with slimy pseudopods but to no avail. The group were too swift and Milgos was able to pelt the creature to death with magic missiles from his wand. The dissolved corpses were unrecognisable. Searching the chamber they quickly located a pivoting wall to the north. Ever suspicious Ugh opened it from a unique angle. Within the chamber was another ooze. It lay in ambush against a wall but Ugh, who had long had the ability to think like an ooze, was alert to it’s sneaky ways. Once again the group led the viscous fluid a merry dance that ultimately ended with its slow form slain by wand.

Apart from the ooze the secret chamber contained a number of stone receptacles. Milgos noticed that they were trapped and ingeniously used water to render the poison gas, contained within a number of vessels, inert. Sadly the water ruined some scrolls but a magic ring (dubbed the pooh ring as it had been concealed in honey) and mace were liberated along with plenty of coin. The ring seemed to call to Milgos and he put it on thinking it to be a ring of invisibility. It was, kind of.

Where they are.
Further searching found a door marked with the orcish rune for death. Milgos willed himself invisible in case trouble lay beyond the door. Beyond the door lay empty crates and chests. The party set about searching the chamber. After a while Milgos began to feel weak. It was the ring. It was cursed though the elf would not believe it. More magic was afoot for when the group opened the door, which had closed on them while they searched, they determined that they had been the victims of some sort of teleport. They were in unfamiliar tunnels and their usual modus operandi of returning to town was blown out of the water. They needed an exit and fast.

Exploring a tunnel to the east the group encountered a gelatinous cube that they duly dispatched. Fang II wolfed down several large chunks of cube as if it was the most delicious thing in the world. This was odd as the transparent monstrosity is said to have a paralysing touch. Further exploration led to the discovery of ghouls feasting on a some unfortunate’s corpse. Janna used her clerical powers to turn the creatures but not before Ugh had been paralysed by their touch. Betty and Beatrice finished off the cowering ghouls with a little help from the rapidly weakening Milgos. With combat over the band waited till Ugh recovered from the paralysis. It took almost an hour for the burly half orc to do so. Milgos would have drawn a moustache on his friend while he lay their helpless but he simply couldn’t muster up the energy. He felt drained and exhausted and he could not work out why. Milgos was so tired they decided to take the risk of resting in the dungeon. The group set up camp in the room with the half digested human and some dismembered ghouls. Hardly the ideal site.

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Elves in the dark and a swift escape
Ugh was pretty mad so we threw chunks of ghoul at him.' - Betty

Betty gave the stranger a measured look. He looked harmless enough, probably wouldn’t last more than a few minutes in the caverns. She took a long draft of her ale. “Well stranger, if you’re buying I’ll tell you about our latest expedition. Milgos, my employer, was still as weak as a kitten. He’d tried to rest but well… have you ever seen a fish out of water? Thrashing around as it gasps for breath. Yeah that’s how Milgos looked as he tried and failed to sleep. Burke, the torch bearer, had to piggyback him when we figured it was time to go. Lucky for Burke elves are light. The elf had this idea that a secret door was close. Turns out it was just a pit trap and the bulky half orc took a tumble. He was really mad about falling in to the pit. You could hear him at the bottom of it cursing up a storm and hacking into things in his furry. We had a bit of a laugh and started throwing things like ghoul chunks into the pit so they would land on him. After a bit we decided to get him out.”

Betty patted the coiled hemp rope at her side. “I always carry rope for just these sorts of occasions. Beatrice and I started hauling him back up when a bunch of orcs comes round the corner. They start bellowing at us to surrender, Milgos bellows back and in the end it comes to blows. We put the orcs to flight then haul up the fighter as quick as we can. Turns out the half orc was carrying his mangy pony sized dog with him on the way back up, no wonder he was so heavy.”

“We don’t know where we are so open the closest door which leads into a pitch black room. In it lurked an elf, who went down quickly under the fangs of Fang. Fang is the name of Ugh’s hound. Imaginative types these half orcs. We loot the elf and press on only to come across a statue that comes to life. It chases us all the way back to where we started. We ended up hiding behind a secret door till the beast left.”

“With Milgos sick things were desperate. We needed to find a way out fast. The elf figures we should follow the orc blood. He reasoned orcs wouldn’t normally be this far underground and they must’ve retreated to the upper levels. He’s smart. It turns out he was right. Following the blood trail led to stairs going up. Lucky for us no beasts were near to hear our cheering the discovery of ascending stairs, or if there were, they were smart enough not to tangle with us.”

Betty drained the remainder of her ale. The stranger nodded to the bar keep and her tankard was swiftly replaced. “Where was I? Oh yes … running. We bolted up the stairs taking them two at a time. We followed the winding corridors. At one point we came across a room full of cobwebs. We hadn’t the heart to go in. Spiders are never good news. Another room we entered had the evilest looking gnome statue in the centre. Ugh got cranky just looking at it and started hitting it with his sword. Eventually he realised he wasn’t wrecking the statue, just his blade, so he quit. The gnome got his revenge though. When the half orc went to leave the room, the gnome shot him in the back. A quarrel was lodged between Ugh’s shoulder blades. Ugh is like an ox though, he just shrugged it off and kept going. He didn’t even stop to remove the bolt. We eventually came across some familiar corridors and raced to the surface as quick as we could. Milgos is well again, though Ugh is still whining about needing to talk to his dog or some such nonsense.”

Betty staggered to her feet, all those ales had gone to her head. “Best be off. Milgos will be waiting. He’s headed back underground and he’ll need my sword. You can join us if you like?" The stranger blanched. "Nah, didn’t think you had the spine for a delve. Thanks for the drinks stranger. If the gods are good I’ll be back in a day or two with more tales.”

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