Bored with their lot in life, fifteen peasants enter the portal under the stars on the search for treasure and adventure…..
They stand before the monolithic rocks of the old stone mounds, under the dark light of a starry sky. The Empty Star is clear and bright above. Three large stone blocks lean haphazardly together to form an upright rectangular portal about the size of a man, and seem to be placed directly beneath the star’s path.
As the Empty Star ascends to its brightest point, its light catches in the portal and a shimmering stone-lined corridor is visible through the stones. But only from one side of the opening. Grasping their meagre weapons in white knuckles, the fifteen Gygaxian peasants step into the starlit portal which was not there before today, thoughts of jewels and scorching wheat fields foremost in their minds.
Even though the hallway is visible from only one side of the portal, they tread on solid flagstones. The starlight fades as it reaches into this hallway, which dead-ends ahead at a stout iron-banded door. Jewels are set deep into the door, forming an odd assortment of star shapes….
Unable to resist the twinkling allure of the jewels embedded within the unusually ornate door, resident cooper and loveable dimwit Ale attempts to pry one off. A jewel, that is. Unfortunately in his hasty thirst for treasure Ale unwittingly activates a booby-trap, with huge bursts of magical flame immediately engulfing his somewhat surprised face.
Thankfully it’s just a flesh wound (and he wasn’t likely to win any beauty contests in the first place) but alas the door remains firmly shut. Bustling through, Japthong rises to the challenge and patiently prizes the portal ajar with expert precision.
Here our wannabe treasure hunters are met with a perplexing conundrum. In a diminutive room four stones statues of soldiers stand before them, as static as one might expect from such a group. However, while they may be made entirely from solid clay, the well-armoured troopers appear to be pointing some very real, very spiky looking spears right at the doorway. The doorway in which apothacarist Herb and Gondolor the Elven barrister just happen to be standing.
A heartbeat later the statues spring to life and hurl their respective spears, taking the lives of Herb and Gondolor, while leaving the freshly-singed Ale with something of an enviable flesh wound. Luckily the other members of the party are adept in the ways of evasion and escape without a scratch. For now.
After heading through a door on the opposing wall, our adventurers now find themselves in a much more expansive room. With a door on each wall, the only noticeable feature is a hulking statue of a warlock, demonic tome strapped to its leg and finger pointing with accusatory menace.
Here the party splits with some heading to the left of the room, some to the right, and some directly towards the statue. Having set off a fraction of a second earlier, those who ran to the left immediately catch the attention of their stone guardian, who rewards their arrival by tracking them with his finger and blasting them with a huge flaming shot. Evidently the statue sits atop a well-greased platform which can turn, presumably by the use of some dark magic.
This remains, of course, unnoticed by Loaf, Hermin Poo Hand and, eh, Kanye West, who are singed to a crisp within seconds. Just long enough to let out a chorus of piercing shrieks. A grim turn of events for them and no doubt, but somewhat fortunate for the others who evade the hellish blast.
Perhaps most surprising of all is Ale who, having been burned in the face and stabbed with a spear already, makes a run for the statue and clings to it for dear life as it swivels around. Only to slip and fall on his backside, yowling in pain. He is joined by local street-urchin Dweb, who he already seems to have formed a friendly (if somewhat goofy) alliance with.
In the moments that follow, the warlock statue continues to track members of the party around the room, spurting flames at any who veer too close to a doorway. Luckily due to a combination of agility and sheer luck, only one more life is lost before the flames subside: a smell of burning Darumzadar fills the dungeon.
After a brief sojourn in the burial chamber to the right (in which a number of chattering skulls were gleefully smashed – all except one seemingly innocuous jawbone), it was off down a winding ancient, chilly stone-lined corridor for Bill S Preston S (squire), Japthong and Booby Wood. After creeping into a tableau lined throne-room they are set upon by a giant demon-horned snake who introduces himself as Sssssisssuuuraaaaaaag before attacking without parley.
The snake’s ire is bolstered when Booby Wood tries to flee, and thus the one-time chest-maker is immediately bitten in half. Thankfully after Japthong receives a fairly serious wound dealt by Sssssisssssurraaaaag’s fanged maw, Bill S Preston S delivers an undeniably incredible killing strike which lops the beast in two. Huzzah! After looting the (rather smelly) horn from the serpentine corpse and playing around with a pretty portal, Bill and Japthong decide they have earned some respite and hang back awhile. The other surviving members of the party press forward, led by the dynamic duo of Ale and Dweb.
The death toll rises….
Entering a dimly lit cavernous room dominated largely by a shimmering pool, it isn’t long before A&D launch themselves straight in, splashing and guffawing. The rest of the gang (Sigourney, Skyranosh, Shroom King and Mumbo Jumbo) have other things on their mind however – namely the strange crystalline beings moving solemnly around the pillars that flank the water.
After approaching with trepidation (and weapons drawn), Skyranosh (or the dwarf who can’t pronounce his own name) and Shroom King quickly realise that the otherworldly creatures don’t mean any immediate harm and the beings seem much more interested in the light of the adventurers’ torches. A well-tossed flame from Mumbo Jumbo sees them heading into the room from which the party just came. Japthong and Bill S Preston S (the squire) are a little confused, but decide to let the crystal ghouls go about their business untouched.
Back to Ale and Dweb then who by now realise that, although splashing about in the reflecting pool is fun, the hundreds of jewels underfoot are far more intriguing. Prizing off a few (and pocketing them of course) results in air bubbles rising from below. A few more still sees the water level visibly lower and the bonehead bros decide to exercise a little caution, stopping while the going is good.
A door in the corner of the room leads the party down a spiral staircase to a small war-room. After a few silver pieces are pocketed by the canniest/greediest among the group, they peer into the next room only go be faced by a terrifying scene – scores of clay troops fill the cavernous space, armed for war. Although they are currently still and lifeless, the party knows by now that this counts for little. Heading up the 70 strong army are eight generals, with a hulking war-wizard seated in a throne at the end of the room. He bears a striking resemblance to the fire-spitting swivelling statue encountered earlier.
The terrible warlock rises to his stone feet with a sickeningly loud crunching sound, lifting his arm in grim command of his troops! As he does so the massive army takes a lurching step forward, in the direction of our fearless adventurers.
Ale hurriedly scurries to the back of the group before pointing out a rather shrewd (and telling) observation – a few of the enemies in the middle are looking somewhat …. melty. And no sooner is this mentioned than Dweb follows up this fine realisation with another – water is dripping from the ceiling, due to the newly perforated pool in the room above!
And so back up the stairs they all charge as fast as their legs can carry them, leaping into the pool and filling their pockets with dozens of jewels as they come free. As the walls of the basin begin to warp and bend, the gang leaps out save for Sigourney and Mumbo Jumbo who stay to finish the job.… it breaks, they plummet down to the area below – one is dead, Sigourney wounded but alive…
Ale runs down and starts smashing up wooden pieces like a lunatic. Dweb lands a spear throw! So does a dwarf??
Meanwhile fire spitting statue roasts Bill S and JT.
Someone throws an axe and misses, ale runs back up and chucks some holy water… Sig stabs and eventually the dwarf with the pickaxe tumbles the BBEG into the water!
Sadly the dwarven brothers get stabbed….
Treasure found, levelled up, Ale stabs a corpse, yadda yadda yadda!
Bored with their lot in life, fifteen peasants enter the portal under the stars. Three leave as heroes.
Loaf the baker, burned to death.
Booby Wood the Dwarven chest-maker, bitten in half by a giant snake.
Herb the Dwarven apothacarist, impaled by a spear.
Darumzadar the Dwarven stonemason, toasted to a crisp.
Shroom King the Dwarven mushroom-farmer, kebabbed by the spear of a clay soldier.
Skyranosh the Dwarven miner, shared the same spear as above.
Kanye West the confidence artist, singed to death by a sentient statue.
Hermin Poo Hand, gongfarmer, as above.
Japthong, outlaw, suffered a similar fate.
Gondolor the Elven barrister, took a spear to the eye.
Bill S Preston S, squire, roasted alive.
Mumbo Jumbo the shaman, back snapped into two.