Dwarves and Fortresses

Trapped In The Basement

Last week’s session started off with relatively low attendance and a peaceful, sedate atmosphere. But neither of these was destined to last…

On the fortress-building front, a blacksmith’s workshop and a brewery were constructed and a mine-shaft was extended. Our plucky dwarves quite fortunately discovered a small deposit of white iron; this will be both good news for King Bronzesnarl and an opportunity to create powerful equipment.

But while the dwarven military-industrial complex was off to a strong start, there was still the matter of the ironspine dragon that had been so rudely eating your chalk. Using an invisibility potion to examine it under the light of day, Shydar observed it possessed black spines, tinged with white; there was speculation that this was in some way related to the beast’s strange diet. Regardless, it lacked the crimson spines that the dwarven scholars associated with the more intelligent members of the species, and the decision was made to put it down before true harm could be done. Then you piled a bunch of rocks on top of the body and forgot about it.

Eight peaceful, productive days passed. But that idyllic period of productivity was soon interrupted by the blaring of a trumpet. A dozen guardsmen from the nearby human town of Platz had come calling. They accused our brave heroes of kidnapping their innocent children; Tordek’s protestation that human children were too stringy to eat did not seem to help matters.

The humans demanded justice and the return of their offspring, but you could offer neither. Frustrated with the humans’ stubbornness, Metkin struck first, unleashing a barrage of magic missiles on the single officer. While said officer displayed quite a bit of prowess in the thoroughly undwarven art of unarmed combat, he was no match for your numbers; the peasant guardsman did little but flee in terror. Nine escaped, one was slain, and the last was taken hostage. A potion of truth forcibly applied, the human captive revealed that his cause was genuine: he knew that children in his town had been going missing and he had heard that dwarves had been seen to be responsible. They’d even been seen taking the children to the very cave in which our heroes had come to dwell. Something strange was afoot, and suspicion quickly fell on Malon, the tower-dwelling wizard you had believed responsible for the inexplicable assaults on your fortress by intelligent owlbears and zombie minotaurs. That he was the brother of Platz’s mayor did little to lessen your concern.

And so you set out to investigate his tower and perhaps discover the true fate of the missing human children. Hiding in nearby underbrush, Dwisi sent forth her companion, a bat, to examine the tower’s inhabitants. Metkin used a potion of Clairvoyance to remotely view the tower’s top level, which contained an unusually large library, a great deal of magical equipment, a man who was almost certainly Malon, and a humanoid monstrosity stitched together from the parts of several different beings. Metkin suspected this last to be a flesh golem, all but confirming your suspicions.

Seeing no other course of action, you prepared for an encounter with the undead and Shydar picked the lock on the front door. Entering the tower expecting a fight, you were surprised to see four armored owlbears, sitting around a table and playing cards. They quickly took up their weapons and challenged you, the invaders of their domain. In the ensuing fight you killed an owlbear, suffering many wounds in the process. But before the combat could conclude, Malon intervened.

Summoning a field of rubbery black tentacles to ensnare you all, he quickly ended the fight and demanded an explanation. Unable to believe the outlandish (but true) story that you offered, he turned the tables on Metkin and administered some truth serum of his own. When Metkin confirmed your tale, Malon seemed to be at quite a loss. So he confiscated your equipment and locked you in his dungeon; he needed time to decide how to handle the vicious marauders that had invaded his home and slain one of his servants.

That is where you stand now, the night slowly slipping away. Who can say what waits for you in the morning?

Invisible Spiders

Our third session started off with quite a bit of fortress-building. A trap was constructed at the fortress’s cave entrance, such that anything much heavier than a dwarf that tried to walk inside would get hit in the face with a tree trunk. I believe that was Tordek Beardhammer’s idea, even though his player wasn’t with us during the session. Our fortress also now includes a couple workshops and a small farm. Better yet, prospectors found deposits of both magnetite (an iron ore) and granite.

In the process of all that mining, the entrance to a subterranean cave was found. It turned out to be quite large, and contained both a small pool of water and a phantom menace that inflicted Shydar Ale’hat’oont with a particularly toxic poison. It took quite a bit of effort to identify the invisible threat as a Phase Spider, which have the unfortunate habit of wandering into the ethereal plane, where physical attacks can’t harm them. The party closed ranks and tried to wait it out, quickly squashing the beast when it materialized to attack them.

The cave cleared, building continued. But only a week later, a watchdwarf noticed something quite odd about the pile of waste rock that was being used to block off the east end of the fortress’s valley: it was shrinking. A more careful examination revealed toothmarks on some of the rocks, which the dwarves considered to be quite worrisome. They kept a watch throughout the night to discover what kind of creature was eating their useless chalk; it turned out to be an Ironspine Dragon. A debate broke out over what to do with the ironspine, complicated by the possibility that it might be intelligent, friendly, or both. Ironspines are also known to be burrowers, making pit traps less practical than they might otherwise be.

The session ended before a solution to the ironspine problem could be agreed upon. Nevertheless, everyone got to level up.

I Smell a Wizard

This is (incredibly) late again. Sorry.

This session began with some dickering as to how to next expand your lovely fortress, which was deferred until we had a proper mapping system figured out (which we’ve done, huzzah!). But we quickly moved on to a brief round of lumberjacking, instigated by Tordek. You brought home 12 cords of wood of average-grade wood (Ash, maybe? I don’t know anything about trees) and should have little difficulty making wooden stuff in the immediate future.

Then three more owlbears showed up. What was especially worrisome was the way in which you noticed their presence: they were squawking at each other in what may have been a hitherto undiscovered language. This was unusual, in that owlbears are typically as smart as regular bears. They were hostile, of course, and so bloody combat ensued. You slew one, causing the others to flee (also not typical owlbear behavior). One of them fell into your spiky pit trap, but other escaped to parts unknown.

Then, to establish your ownership and dominance over the area, you took the skulls of the owlbears that you’d killed, including the one from last session, and stuck them on sticks at the entrance to your valley. Just in front of the pit trap, amusingly enough.

A couple days later a four-foot boulder Burrowed through one of the walls of your fortress. Just as someone was about to Hit It With My Axe, she kindly asked you not to. Marble was just introducing herself to the new neighbors. You spoke with her briefly, learned about a Formian nest located somewhere to the west of your current, and were asked to keep your digging away from her cave, which is to your north but at least five levels up. She also indicated that she might be interested in trading enchantments for scouting or prospecting information in the future. After she left, tentative plans were made for a carpentry shop and a farming area.

Not long after that, a quiet day was interrupted when a zombie minotaur smashed down your door (which has not yet been replaced, I believe). After catching sight of you, it went completely limp for a few seconds. Somewhat confused by this turn of events, you Hit It With My Axe several times. After a particularly furious blow to the statue-like zombie, it roared to life and proceeded to Hit It With My Axe right back. It was slain, but not until after it had dealt Tordek (I think) some pretty heavy damage.

The confluence of intelligent owlbears and unusual zombie behavior led you to suspect that there was something altogether more sinister going on. Careful use of skills and the loremaster profession indicated that an arcane spellcaster could have altered the owlbears to make them more intelligent (similar tinkering is how they were created, it’s believed), and also have raised the zombie.

You tracked the undead minotaur to the north-northwest for the better part of a day, concluding that it had almost certainly originated from a large tower on a hill that all but screamed “a megalomaniacal villain lives here!”

Then you went home and had a nap. That’s where we left off.

Setting Out

N.B.: I am a bad GM and wrote this quite a while after the session took place. Apologies for any inaccuracies that result.

You began this session (and the campaign) just as you were setting out from the great Fortress Goblinspite, acting on the order of King Bronzesnarl. He had commissioned you to establish a mining fortress on a recently discovered deposit of white iron.

The journey was expected to take about a week, in part because of the ox-cart, filled with supplies, that accompanied you. The first two days of your trip passed uneventfully, but on the third day you discovered the site of a terrible slaughter in your path. Twenty dwarves, most likely immigrants headed towards a small fortress, had been killed by a large, winged beast with enormous claws. Some of you speculated that it was a dragon, but there was no conclusive proof as to the matter.

In any case, the massacre had occurred about a day before you discovered the scene, and the beast was nowhere to be seen. Worried about the prospect of the dead rising as gravelings, you stopped to bury the fallen, finishing nearly in time. A graveling rose and was dispatched with little trouble; the danger dealt with, you moved on.

Not long afterwards you heard the sound of wingbeats off in the distance and, fearing the dragon, took cover in a copse of trees. Eventually they passed and you continued, but as night fell you decided to make camp in another copse, just in case.

That night your watchdwarf noticed the approach of some goblin slavers. Once you were all awake and fighting they proved to be little threat, and after killing the majority of them the rest fled.

The remainder of your journey was quiet, and you arrived at the valley in which you were to build your fortress with little difficulty. It seemed like an easily-defensible site, but you were worried about the presence of a cave and the possibility that it might be occupied by something awful.

It was, of course, and you had some difficulty with the human-sized spider-monsters that lay within, especially because of the webs they had in place to restrict the movement of invaders. A few flaming arrows, however, set the nest ablaze, removing the threat.

You then established a more permanent camp inside the now-empty cave and set about building your fortress. You dug out the beginning of a horizontal shaft pointed roughly towards the center of the mountain above you, piling the waste rock at the eastern end of the valley in order to limit the approach of hostile monsters from that direction. Water was a concern, as the nearest stream was a fifteen minute walk to the west. Bifdak Hammersmiter is using her ability to conjure fresh water as a temporary measure; you made tentative plans to dig a well as a more permanent solution, as well as a cistern for what water Bifdak could conjure.

A few days later, Metkin Emberglow was attacked by an owlbear as he was carrying waste rock out of your cave. His cries for help drew the rest of you, and the beast was slain with only moderate injury. To deal with the possibility of other owlbears in the area, Shydar Ale’hat’oont built a pit trap, lined with spikes, in the center of the valley’s eastern approach; you used meat from the owlbear you’d killed as bait.

That attempt to incite cannibalism agreed upon, we ended the session.


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