In our last installment one of the adventurers got a kick on the neck from a Butt Beholder and fell dead on the spot.
His name was Albert Spaggiari and his death was soon forgotten.
In his place, the other two adventurers (Josias and Hobson), recruited Maggie Wall, a fledgling arcanist.
After the combat, Hobson looted an unfinished derelict tapestry that the Butt Beholders were probably weaving. The images were horrible, depicting people with snakes bursting from their bodies, but a fence paid 15 coins for it.
Josias chose to bring back a beholder’s corpse, and sold it for 25 coins.
Unbeknownst to him, a paladin will soon be aware of his foul deals and will hunt his ass in the Dungeon.
Albert’s body was left behind, and their employer berated them for it.
After descending again, they were greeted by the foul smell of their former colleague.
Maggie looted the body, but was warned of the weight that would hinder more agile maneuvers. They hacked the body, further adding insult to injury.
I warned them that the lack of burial would trap the soul on the material plane, but they didn’t pay much attention.
Resuming the exploration, Hobson forced a stuck door, and revealed a room with thick green mould carpeting the floor. Particles suspended in the air floated before the light, and to the right a rotten weapon rack carried an assortment of poleweapons, all too rusty for use.
On the back of the room a couple of levers lined the wall, and in the middle a very strong armed snake man was engraved, flexing his muscles.
They chose to leave the room and descended the stairs. The group moved cautiously, probing the stairs, and avoided a pressing lever trap on one of the steps.
Further down, I rolled on the “Unusual Dungeon Pets” table found at the Dungeon Dozen, and got “a collection of disembodied heads”
Instead of just placing them on the floor, I decided to make them into head balloons, swollen monstrocities that float silently in the dark, blinking their eyes and sticking purple tongues out of deformed mouths.
They stared wide eyed at the silent monsters, but Maggie was too trigger happy and fired a crossbow bolt at one of them, hitting and tearing the skin, which sent it weezing above their heads.
From the inside of the head balloon a fine powder erupted, which fell over Hobs and stuck like talc.
Hobs rolled two strenght test and passed both. Had he failed, one of his limbs, randomly chosen, would swell and detach from him like a balloon, leaving a clean stump behind, except for the head, which would leave a dead body.
The party proceeded, shooing the harmless balloons away, and approached the Phantom Python Library.
According to the book “Titan”, the snakepeople record their stories on stone tablets, which were the “tomes” lining the bookshelves.
Several shimmering pythons emerging from the tablets, hanging like gravity defying algae from their tails. Using the snakepeople language, they whispered hateful slurs against the humans, who could not understand the offenses.
The pythons are harmless, and unable to touch living beings. They were placed by the mage-librarian as a search tool for the tablets.
Not being able to communicate or read the stone tablets, and too afraid to get within reach of the pythons, they proceeded to the last room in the corridor, the black pyramid.
The walls are made of smooth obsidian, and a small altar sits in the middle, made of contrasting white marble.
Stuck in the middle of altar, within rings of demonic runes, a very fine Guisarme was stuck. It was a strange weapon, but untouched by the aeons of time.
Maggie and Josias walked around the room, trying to figure things out, but Hobs climbed on the altar and touched the poleweapon.
It was warm, but firmly stuck to the stone. Using a little more strenght, he pulled the weapon free, and was engulfed in darkness.
His companions saw a pillar of red light emerge from the altar to the ceiling, and Hobs vanish.
He found himself on a beach, under a cloudless night sky. Everything was quiet, and the waves barely moved.
The sea was made of blood, gently covering dull black sand. Along the shore Hobs investigated the vegetation, which looked like charred bones draped under leathery leaves.
On the other side Maggie uncoiled some chain she carried and threw it against the pillar of light. The chain straightened itself, as if being pulled by a great force. Hobs took notice of the chain emerging from the sand on his side and, after digging around it, pulled the chain, bringing Maggie to the otherwordly landscape.
Josias stoically entered the portal, and when the three of them were on the other side, a snake-like voice greeted them, and issued a challenge: in order to keep the Mammal Reaper, the former owner had to be defeated.
Thus, a great snake-man, with mottled grey and red skin emerged from the water, lashing against Maggie with his claws.
The group closed in for the combat, and Hobs noticed that his body was much warmer from the Guisarme, and his muscles felt very stiff, but his strenght was increased tenfold.
After a fearsome exchange, the battered snake-man critically hit Hobs and tore his head clean off his shoulders.
Maggie, also very wounded, crawled and grabbed the Mammal Reaper, but somehow tuned to the weapon.
In a flashback, she saw herself slithering through a battlefield, fighting men and elf, scattering ver enemies with powerful thrusts of the Guisarme.
A single blow was able to cleave a man and his horse in half, and even other snake-men that stood in her path were equally cleaved.
The flashback ended with a great stone squishing her, probably from a trebuchet.
When she got back to her senses, the snake-man was dead, cleaved, and the head of her friend floating along the shore of this alien beach. Josias was taken aghast, but quickly assessed the situation.
Maggie’s face was distorted, her nuckles white from gripping the guisarme with great strenght, and her teeth on the brink of shattering from the pressure on her lower jaw. She wanted more, she wanted blood.
At this point Maggie’s player failed a Will roll against the influence of the Berserker Weapon, and I allowed a Dexterity test to see who would go first. Josias rolled higher, and went first.
Not thinking too much, Josias slid his shortsword in her ribs, in an upward motion. That was enough to deflate all berserker instincts that had taken hold of her, and soon after the last death, Josias found himself back in the black pyramid. The walls were caked with blood, his companions strewn across the floor with the wounds they had received.
The guisarme was ready for the taking, but Josias made a run for it, leaving everything behind.
On the surface, after emerging from the trapdoor in the tavern’s cellar that leads to this forgotten dungeon, he took the time to create an elaborate story of how his group was ambushed by a crew of snake-men in an otherwordly dimension, and how he could not save them.
For this, Josias gained another experience point, thus gaining a level! First level 2 adventurer in Maze Rats!
For those looking for something more than a +1 Sword, cursed weapons are a longstanding traditions in RPGs. Many of them come with a cheap trick – sticking to the users hand, or magically reappering whenever they are discarded.
I prefer to make them extra nice, but with deadly drawbacks, making their used something of a russian roulette.
Below, the stats for the Berseker Weapons, as created by the Caarth of Allansia for their Justrali servants. Since they are cold-blooded (literally!) snake people, these weapons emit heath, to ensure their users are not slowed by night fighting or battles in the underground.
Attacks are made with 3d6, adding the result of the three dice thrown. After all enemies are defeated, user must make a Will danger roll or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless a Strenght danger roll is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.
Sharp Sword & Sinister Spells
Attacks and damage rolls are made with Positive Dice. The weapon deals 1d8 damage. After all enemies are defeated, user must make a -3 Willpower attribute test or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless a -3 Physique attribute test is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.
Sword and Wizardry Core Rules
The weapon functions as a +3 pole weapon (damage after the bonus is 1d8+4). After all enemies are defeated, user must make a saving throw (vs. poison, if different categories are being used) or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless another saving throw is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.
Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition (7th printing)
The weapon function as a guisarme, but the Dice+Adds are doubled to 8+4. When using the weapon, warriors will automatically go berserk (see item 3.8 of the book). Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 turns will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless a L2SR (level 2 saving roll on Constitution is made. The test must be remade every turn after the fifth.
Dungeoneer (Fighting Fantasy)
Attacks are made with a +2 Skill, and +2 to all damage roll chart results. After all enemies are defeated, user must successfully test Luck or turn against his allies. Any elf, dwarf or human using the weapon for more than 5 rounds will suffer of heatstroke, dying of cardiac arrest unless another Luck saving throw is passed. The test must be remade every round after the fifth.