Previously: Kulk and Joonas arrived at the Palace of the Perfect Moon, a minor underground castle of the Dwarven Lord Strangeli. They investigated a few areas, finding magical darkness (that temporarily blinded Kulk), skeletons and giant mechanical spiders. They sustained a few injuries, but mostly did will with just finding treasure. Resolving to delve deeper into the lower levels, they venture into the palace again...
The party quickly scout through the areas they have seen already, and find nothing disturbed. They quickly make their way to a new area, which is a Dwarven menagerie, an exhibition hall of made things. A few of the crystal prisons are empty, and one looks like it was broken out of... The others contain the dismembered parts of an enormous Shiner (the Dwarves' metal servants), a creepy restrained undead thing, three silent mechanical children that tap insistently on the glass to be released (the party leave them there), and a central exhibit containing a giant mechanical reptile of some kind, forty feet long, lots of teeth, fast, big and thankfully contained.
Kulk and Joonas decide not to risk anything by releasing the exhibits (probably wise) and scout some more, turning back when they find a passageway filled with Muurahainen nest-biomatter (rubbery solid polymer forcing a narrow gap down a hallway).
Heading back to scavenge some Dwarven lights to help them penetrate the magical darkness, they are unlucky to attract the attentions of a mechanical banshee wolf. Their loyal retainer Tuukka is killed by the wolf, his head taken clean off by perfect metal teeth. In their rage they attract the attentions of a metal spider, and leaving Tuukka's headless body they run for the darkened hallways with their lights. Reasoning that the darkness won't effect them if the light causes it to retreat a little, they venture through the hallway, only to find that the head of the Shiner PeMem (fastened to the back of one of their party) has not made it through. They search but find no trace of him; they search the central core of the main level and find stairs down. PeMem's head reappears in a different part of the core after fifteen minutes, mute but otherwise unharmed. They head down.
A quick skirmish with ancient crystal statues resolves in their favour, and they kind a gold and black diamond crown that gives Joonas visions of a great palace across the frozen sea... Heading down a level again they find a spiralling corridor that leads to a monstrous guardian. An eight foot high totem pole of flesh, running on two thick legs and with four great lion's heads, the party struggle for a time against the beast (I'll show stats in a separate post). The party's main NPC fighters go down, one to 0HP, one to -1HP, and in the aftermath of the fight, all they can do for poor Jessu (-1HP) is cauterise his wound (see below) to save him. They retreat back to the surface to lick their wounds for a few days.
Venturing down again, they first travel through Strangeli's personal quarters, finding little of value save for the mangled remains of a Shiner. PeMem, mute no more, reveals that he can repair the body and attach himself, but it will take nearly two weeks to do so. The party agree to carry the remains out of the palace once they have finished exploring.
A crypt is discovered, and the sarcophagus of Strangeli is revealed to be empty (DUN DUN DUN). At the bottom of the palace, they find a two-handed axe that vibrates with some kind of power and a stone box, whose gold writing proclaims: "Strangeli's Blessing: Hold, Speak His Name, And Receive." The box contains an emerald the size of a man's head. Joonas is brave enough to follow the instructions and is promptly turned into a Dwarf (cue much laughter from Patrick). The party return to the surface and ponder their next move, as the call to the castle across the frozen sea grows stronger in Joonas' mind...
Retainers, Dead and Injured: Poor Tuukka, you went before your time... And poor Jessu, who had to get his wound cauterised. House rule says that wounds can be cauterised through the application of oil and fire. You recover as many HP as you like, within reason, but your max HP is reduced by the same.
XP Watch: More reasonable than last time. Kulk is heading towards Level 6 as a specialist, but is not there yet. Joonas has different XP goals now that he is a Dwarf, but moved up to Level 4 regardless.
Becoming Dwarvish: I loved how this seemed like such a great surprise at the table. There was no save for using Strangeli's Blessing. I made David W, Joonas' player, roll some dice for new CON and new HP first (without saying what was happening), then described the emerald breaking, lightning stabbing in, his clothes and armour feeling bigger, the light retreating and "You are a Dwarf." Great stuff.
No Muurahainen, Again: My players never want to go to the nest of swarm creatures, waaaah.... Possibly just as well. Will share stats and description eventually, if we get to see them in play.