The Points of Light Campaign (D&D 4e)
Adventure #2 WOTC H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth (Level 4)
Godsday, 25th of Fireseek, 2000.
The guys take it in turns to take a look at the book and translate (?), or else make sense of what they can, this is what they discover-
Dirty can’t make head nor tail of any of it, the Dwarf does however discover a picture in the book- a very familiar picture, of the pyramid as depicted in the Tiefling’s tattoo.
Phrenic finds a much smaller picture which seems to depict the Seven Pillared Hall, basically a map of the place- nothing seems different, or is marked, or is out of place- at least as far as the guys can remember.
Winstanley finds several mentions of what he thinks is the name Scarmaker, these all occur in what he also presumes are recent entries.
Kaspard finds nothing of interest.
Grey on the other hand, and mostly courtesy of his Comprehend Languages ritual, finds out a whole lot of stuff-
1) The book is quite definitely Murkelmor’s, although the ritual works well it seems the crazy Duergar has written some of the entries, scratch that- most of the entries, in a strange code known only to him- therefore it still needs a lot of work to make sense of any of it.
2) The pyramid depicted is, Grey thinks from his translation, a prison of some sort.
3) The Duergar it seems have been buying slaves for some time- those bought from the Bloodreavers were to replace others that have been worked to death.
4) The slaves are being used, somewhere- presumably within the Labyrinth, to construct ‘the great stair’.
5) There’s a lot of chatter about Asmodeus this and that, it seems Murkelmor regularly received visions from his deity, actually most likely some lesser demon, the plans for the great stair came to him during one such vision.
6) Scarmaker is actually a Gnoll, and the leader of the Blackfang Gnolls, his full name is Maldrick Scarmaker. The Blackfang Gnolls also inhabit the Labyrinth it seems- although Murkelmor does not say where.
Grey is about to shut the book, his watch duty- and the extended rest period is almost over, when he spots a name he knows well in the book, a name that stops him in his tracks. Five minutes later, when Kaspard inquires, the mage has still not moved or else made a sound. Eventually, when all the adventurers have gathered around to stare at Grey, he speaks.
The mage summarises all of the discoveries the guys have made, including the things that he translated with his ritual.
He doesn’t mention the familiar name that he found in the book however.
Just a note to say I used a particularly simple skill check system to see what the guys discovered, obviously the chances of making any real headway with the text more or less relied on being able to understand Deep Speech. The discoveries by the guys other than Grey were just snippets and hints given out when some of them rolled very high numbers.
Also just to note that I prepared for this session, and passed Grey a note written on which was the ‘familiar name’ (I’m not telling) and words to the effect that he should keep this information a secret. The other guys in the group are obviously aware that Grey has a note with a name on it, and that he’s not telling. I calculated that this could prove divisive, but Grey isn’t the only one of the players keeping a secret, which is something I reminded the guys about when they started kicking off. Several of the players looked shocked, while others looked suitably guilty- it’s worth noting that at least one member of both groups- the shocked and the guilty, were pointedly faking their response.
Also during the break I canvassed the players about their response to finding out that Grimmerzhul was not the last stop on their adventure in the Labyrinth, its odd but early on in Thunderspire the guys had somehow come to a collective understanding that the Duergar were behind all of this. I obviously did nothing to dissuade them of this fact, still I wanted to know whether the new reality- that the guys still had more of Thunderspire to explore, was a good or bad thing- had I made the adventure too long?
Responses were positive I’m happy to report, although I had perhaps saved myself by adding in a large dollop of exposition, and mystery at just the right point. The guys almost wanted their special forces operation, and the titanic battle against Murkelmor and his pals, to be the finale of the module. The fact that two slaves were missing seemed to them a bit of a cop-out, a way of getting them to have to tramp through the Labyrinth again. The fact that I had added the mystery with the Tieflings and the pyramid, and the stair- and Murkelmor’s little black book, seemed to ignite in them (again) the desire to find out the answers to these oddities. Without the mystery the two missing slaves would have been too little, and too late- at least that was the consensus of the players at the time.
Waterday, 26th of Fireseek, 2000.
And so after an extended rest the guys, with the rescued prisoners, head back to the Seven Pillared Hall- I was in a good mood and so hand-waved the usual Skill Challenge, it would seem a little churlish to kill a few of those rescued on the way back to civilisation. Therefore Charrak, their Kobold guide, leads the group back safely through the Labyrinth- all the way to the Hall.