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In Progress CYOA - Mysterious Caves part 2

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Vatnik
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It's still cold in this early winter but today is sunny and not as windy. You stand in front of the cavern entrance near the series of boulders that you marked two days ago, this one is narrower than the original mouth-like one that your late guide Cael had taken you to. From the Inn at the Royal Road, you prepared yourself better for this new delve at the mysterious caves. You are feeling rested and ready for another day of exploration and hopefully finding more treasure without too much hassle. And you're that confident today because...
 
Unwanted
Vatnik
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Two days ago, the adventurer had returned to the Inn on the Royal Road, where he would find many people waiting for him and the local guide Cael.

mwwrHXD.jpg


As he was walking by a more or less familiar path back, the adventurer had been thinking about the events that transpired that day.

There were stories from Cael about the mysterious caves and the gods and legends of the place, the excitement of entering the dark world inside rock and dirt, the spooky voices from the shadows, the human voices from the tunnels, the reckless attack on the strangers, their brutal killings and that one that was left bleeding to death, the looting of their possessions, which included coins of various valuable metals and their weapons. The adventurer remembers the sad loss of the guide and the later discovery of a piece of parchment that had Cael's name and last name written on it, next to some title or job description. There was also that strange letter with a title “The Path of the Sword” signed by a mysterious "R", and a crude map of the region with some indications.

He then met the playful old gnome who showed him the magic of the crystal orb and gifted him an amulet with a barkskin spell, in exchange for half of the treasure you had gathered from that fight. He set out for the other cave exit but not before passing by a tunnel with undead skeletons that he destroyed in barkskin form. He returned all his way back and eavesdropped more strangers discussing and plotting something inside the cave tunnels.

As he approached the Inn, the adventurer faced some internal questions regarding how he would approach the welcome reception at the Inn.

1 - Would he draw as attention as possible to announce that he's planning an expedition to find treasure in the caves? Would he try to secretly get inside using stealth and only conspire with his closest acquaintances? Or something in between?

a) Be as loud as possible on arrival to try to get everyone's atention.
b) Ask for an audience later that night for anyone interested in adventuring.
c) Casually go inside the Inn and bring the subject to people who you think that could be worthy partners.
d) Be as discreet as possible, avoiding the curiosity of any strangers and whoever you consider too inexperienced to come.
e) Enter the Inn stealthily and secretly contact only the three people you trust.

2 - Would he tell them the full extent of what transpired inside? Would he completely conceal the truthful account of the events? Or something in between?

a) Tell the whole story of what happened, from the demonic voices that you and Cael heard to his attack on strangers with your support, the treasure you looted, the gnome's antics and his magic items including the orb, the undead skeletons, the other strangers discussing the disappearance of the bodies. Then, tell them the gnome is expecting new adventurers to find more treasure to share with him and that he will guide and protect you all with his magic.
b) Give a surmised account of what happened, not going into the details of the combat you had with the men inside or the extent of the treasure you acquired, mention in passing and vaguely the parts about the gnome, magic and the undead but clearly showing that your magic amulet is real and works. Try to convince the partners to come with you based on your success.
c) Ask whoever you are talking to that you are going back to the caves. If they also want to take part in a new delve into the caves, that they should expect danger and hardship but there is treasure to be hunted, provided they can take care of themselves. You will take the willing on an adventure.
d) Announce that you are leading an expedition to acquire more loot after Cael's accidental death in the cave, but don't mentioning a fight. Be vague if anyone asks for details, giving simple answers or embellishing the truth. Only the most enthused should follow you.
e) Say that you are now the new guide to the caves with the disappearance of Cael, not even mentioning the fights, Cael's death, any items or anyone else. Be particularly cryptic if anyone asks about anything.

3 - How did the adventurer spent the night, the following day and night? What else did he do other than the above? Did he inspect any of his loot, items, map? Will he emphasize the religious or demonic aspects of his first foray? Will he try to uncover more about the magic spells and beings that he saw? Will he use some time to assess the physical conditions and skills of possible recruits? Will he try to acquire and pack more items for his new expedition, maybe using coins and precious items found? Will he try and find a place to keep his loot safe?

You can be creative here in making up stuff, but remember that time is a constraint for the adventurer.

After all the above is sufficiently answered by the participants, I will conjure the best alternative story that fits the most of your inputs. There are many ways that the adventure can even begin, depending on your choices.
 
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baud

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I wasn't there for the first thread, but I'll try to follow this one


1 - e) Enter the Inn stealthy and secretly contact only the three people you trust.

2 - a) Tell the whole story of what happened,

3 - I'd say on the first evening meet our trusted people, tell the full story and see if you can get them on board; maybe lend them some money if they need to buy some equipment.
Second day, assess the loot, sell the extra weapons, keeping a dagger (just in case) and have the sword cleaned up and sharpened. Buy some supplies, torches, bandages, healing potions if available.
If there's some sort of mage to identify magic items, have them look at the amulet and ring (if we still have it). Ask also about local legends and the "old god" mentioned by Cael.
Pray to Tyr. Go to sleep.

Maybe we could look into the names we saw on the list? Not sure if that's relevant or useful at this point. And for the 'The Path of the Sword', seems like some sort of brotherhood/fraternity, but asking around could be dangerous
 

ERYFKRAD

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Strap Yourselves In Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
I wasn't there for the first thread, but I'll try to follow this one


1 - e) Enter the Inn stealthy and secretly contact only the three people you trust.

2 - a) Tell the whole story of what happened,

3 - I'd say on the first evening meet our trusted people, tell the full story and see if you can get them on board; maybe lend them some money if they need to buy some equipment.
Second day, assess the loot, sell the extra weapons, keeping a dagger (just in case) and have the sword cleaned up and sharpened. Buy some supplies, torches, bandages, healing potions if available.
If there's some sort of mage to identify magic items, have them look at the amulet and ring (if we still have it). Ask also about local legends and the "old god" mentioned by Cael.
Pray to Tyr. Go to sleep.

Maybe we could look into the names we saw on the list? Not sure if that's relevant or useful at this point. And for the 'The Path of the Sword', seems like some sort of brotherhood/fraternity, but asking around could be dangerous
Agreed to this.
 

Gandalf

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I wasn't there for the first thread, but I'll try to follow this one


1 - e) Enter the Inn stealthy and secretly contact only the three people you trust.

2 - a) Tell the whole story of what happened,

3 - I'd say on the first evening meet our trusted people, tell the full story and see if you can get them on board; maybe lend them some money if they need to buy some equipment.
Second day, assess the loot, sell the extra weapons, keeping a dagger (just in case) and have the sword cleaned up and sharpened. Buy some supplies, torches, bandages, healing potions if available.
If there's some sort of mage to identify magic items, have them look at the amulet and ring (if we still have it). Ask also about local legends and the "old god" mentioned by Cael.
Pray to Tyr. Go to sleep.

Maybe we could look into the names we saw on the list? Not sure if that's relevant or useful at this point. And for the 'The Path of the Sword', seems like some sort of brotherhood/fraternity, but asking around could be dangerous
Agreed to this.
Looks nice. Yeah, let's get some peeps, sell/buy stuff, prepare, try to get as much info as possible, but don't ask about TPotS as for now, because that eeks of funky stuff.
 

hello friend

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I wasn't there for the first thread, but I'll try to follow this one


1 - e) Enter the Inn stealthy and secretly contact only the three people you trust.

2 - a) Tell the whole story of what happened,

3 - I'd say on the first evening meet our trusted people, tell the full story and see if you can get them on board; maybe lend them some money if they need to buy some equipment.
Second day, assess the loot, sell the extra weapons, keeping a dagger (just in case) and have the sword cleaned up and sharpened. Buy some supplies, torches, bandages, healing potions if available.
If there's some sort of mage to identify magic items, have them look at the amulet and ring (if we still have it). Ask also about local legends and the "old god" mentioned by Cael.
Pray to Tyr. Go to sleep.

Maybe we could look into the names we saw on the list? Not sure if that's relevant or useful at this point. And for the 'The Path of the Sword', seems like some sort of brotherhood/fraternity, but asking around could be dangerous
This, but I'd like to add that we make any sales with some degree of discretion, not flaunting that we've recently come into an odd assortment of goods. Neither do we want to flood the market and arouse suspicion, so we'll need to figure out some kind of secret cache that is not easily discovered where we can stash our leftover wares, possibly one that can hold the results of a successful expedition - although we could cross that particular bridge when we come to it. Might as well make use of this process to try to feel out different merchants and tradesmen to see if there are any in particular that seem notably competent or trustworthy. Lay some groundwork for future business relations.
 
Unwanted
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As he approached the Inn, the adventurer faced some internal questions regarding how he would approach the welcome reception at the Inn. He feels that he has not recovered that well from his first delve in the mysterious caves, and that he is not ready to lead groups of strangers anyway. He is not comfortable with his leadership skills, and even with his magical amulet granting him powerful helping fight, he worries about dangers others with ill intent may pose to him. The adventurer is a seasoned man, he has been around this world for quite some time on his own and he knows trust needs to be earned.

In fact, trust in companions is something he will need if he wants to explore these caves safely. He will do his best to gather his reliable companions that he likes to call friends; he will never betray those who trust him, he likes to think. The adventurer hopes they won't be disappointed with his news.

But first, he needs come to the inn located at the Royal Road as inconspicuously as possible so as to not attract unwanted attention. He finds a lonely tree with high bushes all around it, covered in snow, more or less near the inn. The adventurer hopes to safely hide it all now here now, and come later at night to retrieve it to a safer place as yet to be decided. He stashes his sack with treasure, his long coat and his leather armor, along with all weapons except his longsword in this hiding spot. After this, seeing that there was nobody nearby, he approaches the inn through the backdoor, looking carefully if there was anyone around. There wasn't.

The adventurer enters the Inn in silence and avoids everyone, going straight to his humble accommodations. In the small room, with two double-decker beds and only a small window, semi-closed because of the winter cold, he finds his trusted companions. They are surprised by his stealthy arrival, they didn't even hear him coming until he opened the door. At the sight of friendly company after a hard day, his mood instantly improves.

"Well, I see we're all safe and sound," says the adventurer with a chuckle. "How did you end up here?" He sees his three warrior friends sitting in chairs on one side of the small room: Fridiger the giant, Erdebred your beloved cousin, and Alphius the mischievous.

The three men look at each other and laugh. "We have been waiting for you since early afternoon!" exclaims Fridiger.

"I don't know what happened to you after we parted ways," continues Erdebred, "but you sure took your sweet time getting back."

"It was a bit hectic," replies the adventurer, "as soon as we got in the caves, we found another group of strangers already there, and..."

"We got the message from the Innkeeper, Captain Marcus, telling us that you were going with the local guide to explore the region." interrupts Alphius, "We knew we needed to get to you fast, especially when he told us that he knows of men who have died adventuring with that guide. We wanted to help, but...we couldn't. There was no one here to guide us to the cave entrances. That's why we stuck around waiting for you. We thought you might have gone to the Mysterious Caves, which are supposed to be full of treasures. So we tried asking around more, to no success."

"We asked the locals about the caves and they said they haven't heard anything about them for months. And the old man in the manor down south told us he doesn't know much about them either," adds Fridiger.

"What do you mean, 'no one knows much about them?'" asks the adventurer, his face suddenly serious.

"Well, just that they are known as mysterious caves, but people don't know much about them. The locals know they exist and that is about it," explains Fridiger.

"They are said to contain great riches and powerful weapons, including magical ones," says Alphius with a grin.

"And some say that there is an entrance to some unknown underground place that connects to the caves," adds Erdebred. "That would explain how those strangers came to the area, perhaps they discovered that entrance and followed it deeper inside the caverns."

"You've done your research, I'll give you that," says the adventurer with a smile. "But I think there is something else that will help with the explanation," concludes the adventurer. "After talking with Dignugget, the elder gnome, he showed me some kind of magical orb in the caves that shows distant places, which he uses to help find the locations of the treasure he's looking for."

His three companions look at each other with blank expressions. They seem confused by this revelation.

"A gnome?" asks Erdebred. "What do you mean a gnome?"

"An Elder Gnome?" repeats Fridiger. "That sounds like a legend to me. How can it be real?"

"Oh, yes, of course," replies the adventurer. "He's the gnome who lives in the caves. I think he's an elder gnome, though I never met any gnomes before." The three friends are still astonished at the news.

"I've seen him myself," continues the adventurer "and he told me to give him a lot of coins and gems, and he promised to show me where to find the most valuable treasures in the caves. I gave him a good chunk of I had after men and the guide Cael got rid of the strangers earlier. He said that if I helped him with his magic orb that would show me distant places, I'd get even more coins and gems. He gifted me with this magic amulet that changes my skin into protective barksin has proved very useful when fighting disgusting undead in the cave."

"But why would a gnome need our help?" wonders Alphius, always the skeptical. "Why does he want to show us distant places?"

"Because he wants to make maps of the caves," explains the adventurer. "And he needs our help to do that. He looks too old and fragile to do it all by himself. With the help of this gnome, I think it will be possible for us."

"I don't see how it matters whether we help him or not," says Alphius. "We came here for treasure, remember? Why should we give him our treasure just because he asked for it?"

"Because he's a gnome," answers the adventurer. "He's really old and wise. He might have been alive when the ancient gnomes lived in these caves. If he can show us where all the great treasures are hidden, then we'll be rich beyond our wildest dreams."

"But he doesn't seem very friendly," complains Erdebred.

"At least you might get a magical amulet out of the deal," reminds the adventurer. "And I don't see anything wrong with getting richer. Rich men always make good friends. If we become rich, then we won't need to sell ourselves into the slavery of mercenary work or having to pledge our lives to some noble."

The three adventurers look at each other again, considering the proposal. It seems that they are all pleased with the idea of getting rich quickly.

"Deal!" confirms Fridiger.

"Deal!" echoes Alphius.

"Deal!" agrees Erdebred.

0XVustF.jpg


***

After the discussion, the four friends decide to go downstairs to the heated dining hall and eat their meals quietly so as to not attract unwanted attention. The adventurer is particularly tired of the exertion he's done on this day. After dinner, they decide to get a good night of sleep, but as they're headed to the stairs, the adventurer is approached by the innkeeper, who asks to talk to him in private.

"Thank you, my friend," starts the innkeeper. "I hope you understand that you are a guest here. You are not obligated to stay in your room. But please know that the inn is a place of rest and refuge for weary travelers. We are a community based on trust and mutual respect. I must ask you to refrain from doing things that might disturb the peace of our guests."

"Yes, sir," replies the adventurer. "You can count on me. I'm sorry if I've disturbed anyone."

"Well, one of my sons saw you around sunset entering the back door without any clothing protection from the cold. I find that suspicious considering it was pretty cold late in the afternoon. Add to that, you returned from your guided visit to the caves alone. Can you tell me where is Cael, the guide?"

"I am sorry, but he..." begins the adventurer.

"Answer my question, Sir," interrupts the innkeeper.

"...he's joined with Dagda," says the adventurer.

"Dagda? His god? You mean he's dead?"

"He got killed during a fight with strangers. There were three of them, they were bandits, they still attacked us. We fought the bandits in the caves and Cael died protecting my life."

"Bandits, eh?" mutters the innkeeper. "That's interesting..." he muses. "We don't have many bandits around here in a long time."

"What's going on, man?" demands the adventurer. "Is there a problem?"

"Nope, no problem at all, my friend," replies the innkeeper. "It's just that it took us by surprise, the news about Cael. I never expected him to be killed and that you would return alone... It's a bit odd that you didn't mention it to me first, when you arrived. But I guess it doesn't matter now."

"What do you mean by that?" asks the adventurer.

"Oh, come on, Sir! Don't be so naive. You know we're in a small Inn like this, right? Everybody knows everybody else. And what is going on here? What happened in the caves? It seems you don't want to share it with anyone other than your friends upstairs."

"I don't, Captain, that's for me and mine alone," answers the adventurer, trying to calm down. "but it's true that Cael was killed. I couldn't find his body though."

"Why didn't you say anything?" asks the innkeeper, a bit agitated. "Also, I told my son not to let strangers into the back rooms. But he was scared of you."

"Sorry, Captain," apologizes the adventurer. "I forgot."

"Yeah, I guess you did," comments the innkeeper. "Well, I won't charge you extra, but you have to promise not to do it again. I'll give you some free drinks and food, but I need you to keep quiet about Cael being killed. I'll pass down the news carefully to his friends and what's left of his family."

"Of course, Captain," replies the adventurer. "It wasn't intentional."

"Good," says the innkeeper.

wVcQndi.jpg


***

Winter morning in Cradle Valley, in the outskirts of the Inn, at the tree and nearby bushes where the adventurer hid his belongings the day before. It's the following day of the cave delve and the adventurer is trying to assess the loot, maybe lend the money to a companion if they need to buy equipment for the next delve.

The adventurer woke up at dawn before his friends and he went downstairs to eat breakfast alone. He is also thinking of selling some of the items from treasure he acquired. The amulet, given to him by the gnome and enchanted with the Barksin spell. That one is worth quite a lot, he thinks. He doesn't want to get rid of it, but he has to think of his companions first. He looks at the weapons he's got, and he has to make sure he gets a fair price for his goods.

The adventurer makes some calculations in his head and decides to sell the elegant longsword, the mace, the other dagger but keep Cael's pointy dagger. He can easily afford buying more gear provided he find sellers. He knows the Inn has merchants and some traders' tents. Maybe they are selling anything of interest? The adventurer also decides on selling the copper and silver rings, even the one with the white gem, even as he feels he might not get a good price on them. He's not so sure about what to do with the golden necklace with the crowned wolf head, much less with Cael's holy symbol.

The adventurer still has no idea how to prepare himself for the next delve into the caves, but he knows it will happen soon, next day morning. He is also wondering whether the gnome will allow him to use the crystal ball again or has he changed his mind. He wonders if he should risk the gnome's wrath by going back to explore and ignoring the gnome's help.

The adventurer puts on his padded shirt, leather jacket and long coat and heads back to the part of the Inn where he saw traders' tents the day before, with some degree of discretion. A merchant from the north approaches the adventurer and offers him a deal on his goods and tells him about the trading market at the town of Stonebridge nearby. The adventurer agrees and asks if there are any weapons available and is told there are a few pieces of armor and weapons being sold. No magic items, unfortunately.

The merchant takes the adventurer to a tent at the edge of the camp, where an older man is sitting in front of a table covered with several weapons, mostly swords, maces and daggers. There are also shields, bows and a few pouches and bags. He buys some cheap pouches and bags to give to his friends, but decides against flooding the market with his other odd items, namely the necklace, rings and Cael's holy symbol. He tells the merchants he will back later in the afternoon. He leaves his used longsword with them to be cleaned and sharpened.

After that, he goes back to the hidden spot and further conceals his loot. Then the adventurer goes back to the Inn, where Fridiger and Erdebred meet him after finishing their breakfast.

"I'm surprised you're willing to sell your weapons," Fridiger said. "If I'm not mistaken, we are in a dangerous place?"

The adventurer nods. "Yes." Fridiger has his own longsword, shield and bow. "It would be better to have some money for provisions and just in case." Fridiger smiles and adds, "You know, food tastes delicious when you haven't eaten for three days."

Erdebred nods. He's got his broadsword, shield and helm. "Hey cousin, consider buying yourself a shield for tomorrow. The account of the fights with undead and demonic voices has me extra worried."

"Maybe," answers the adventurer with a smile. "But I've been doing well using my longsword alone so far. We'll see, we'll see."

They all go outside and wait for Alphius, who finally comes out of the Inn. He has his sword and dagger in him. "Hello, my damsels."

"Let's go to the traders," cuts the adventurer, "then we'll decide what to do."

"Yeah, let's get the food and supplies and then rest for a while," replies Erdebred. "We must be ready to head to the caves at dawn."

On the way to the traders' tents at the edge of the camp, they meet the younger merchant again, who invites them to a meal with him at noon. They accept the offer.

On the way, they notice that royal road patrol soldiers are cleaning their weapons and armor and putting them away carefully, as if they expect to use them at any moment. It worries the adventurers a little. The last thing they want is for the royal guard to interfere in their new delve tomorrow.

At the traders' tents, they buy a variety of food and provisions: salted meat, bread, dried fruit, cheese, honey, water, wine, tea, etc. They also pick up more cloth wraps for makeshift bandages. Most of the traders are friendly with the adventurers and tell them about the larger market at Stonebridge and offer them their services if they ever go there. This isn't on the interest of the adventurers so far.

After paying the cost of the food and provisions, the adventurers are invited for lunch at the tent of the merchants from the north. The older merchant's name is Malachias. He's a middle-aged man with short gray hair, wearing decent merchants' clothing. He invites them into his tent and introduces them to his wife, who is cooking. She prepares them a typical northern Arandian meal that reminds them of home.

The merchant tells them about his travels and his business. He shows them some other pieces of armor and weapons, including a few shields. The adventurer buys one, a round wooden shield reinforced with iron boss and rim. No one else is interested in buying more armor or weapons than they already brought in the voyage to Cradle Valley so they end up purchasing torches and ropes, but that's it.

They eat roasted venison and roast potatoes with onions and carrots. After the meal they talk a little more about a possible future business relation, then retire to their rooms in the Inn. It is hard for these warriors to tell if merchants are competent or trustworthy.

During the afternoon, the adventurer try to get as much info as possible about the cave from the locals, without being open about his own adventures. Unfortunately, no one seems to know anything useful. Some people say that there are many entrances to the cave, but no one really knows if this is true. Others say that there are other smaller caves in the area, but nobody has explored them yet. The adventurer talks to the patrol guards, but they don't know much about it either. When the adventurer asks if they ever been to the caves, the guards laugh and make fun of him.

Later the adventurer goes to the inn at night to sleep. Discreetly, he tries to get a feel if any of the guests at the inn are wizards or sorcerers, but he gives up after a while since there is no one openly flaunting their magic abilities. He can't do it on intuition alone, and doing anything else might attract unwanted attention, this day has been too indiscreet for his tastes already. He heads to the room.

The adventurer prays for Tyr to give him fortitude and bravery in the adventure tomorrow. He thinks he will need all his courage if he wants to survive.

ruWn1EZ.jpg


***

The adventurer wakes before dawn, gets dressed quickly and leaves the inn through the front door. He's prepared everything he needs the night before. He finds the others already just outside the inn, standing under the light of the single torch, waiting for the sun to rise. The adventurers share a breakfast of bread and cheese with tea while they wait for the morning light. Everyone is quiet.

When the sun rises, the adventurers head up the hill. Using the map of the region he had found inside the caves, the adventurer leads them to the cavern entrance near the series of boulders that he marked two days before, this one is narrower than the original mouth-like one that your late guide Cael had taken you to. It is also closer to the gnome's chamber. The adventurer makes sure everyone is behind him. He hesitates before going in. Is this really what he wants to do or is there some he should be doing before? He feels unsure. What should he do? Should he talk with his companions about their plans for the day? Does he have time to spare to think it over first? Or should he go in immediately and see how it goes?

wyF1CUb.jpg
 
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Unwanted
Vatnik
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Now, you choose the next moves. What do you think of the adventurer? Should he be the protagonist of the story or should he share it with his new companions? What is his name anyway, what else should he be? I'll be taking everyone's input for the next part of the story, the new delve in the mysterious caves.
 

ERYFKRAD

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Strap Yourselves In Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Once they find the gnome they can work out more detailed plans I guess.
 

Gandalf

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Okay, as for the name I like just the adventurer, as for entering the cave he should tell his firends to be on their guard and be ready for some unexpected wicked stuff goin on and then look for/consult with the gnome as ERYFKRAD wrote.
 

hello friend

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I think the adventurer should remain the protagonist, but accompanied by his trusty companions. This gnome, though. Despite the risk, maybe it would be worth keeping an eye out for these people that were discussing the dangerous and untrustworthy nature and mind altering magics of the gnome, see if it would be possible to avoid a fight and have a talk with them. We don't want to anger our mysterious friend, but considering the risks we should find out what we can. I suggest we continue working with him, but cautiously and with our eyes and ears open - and if a chance comes to discuss our benefactor with some knowledgable strangers outside of earshot, all the better. And also! We're here to get rich. Let's find all the treasure we can. The gnome might be looking for something specific. Even if it has its own hidden agenda, that doesn't mean we can't benefit. If we keep our wits about us, we might still come out ahead. Let's play it safe, not take too many chances, and make sure we all live to enjoy the fruits of our labour. A treasure is not worth the loss of one's friends.

I'm also in favour of remaining unnamed, at least for now.

Cradle Valley, eh? Glad to see it.
 

baud

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RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I helped put crap in Monomyth
I think the adventurer should remain the protagonist
this

And I'd say let's meet with the gnome first, we'll plot our next move then.
Tell the others to be on guard from any freaky shit and wary of anyone met inside.
 
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Rio de Janeiro, 1936
You are the adventurer, and you feel confident that you will prevail against all obstacles and retrieve your much deserved reward in treasure from the mysterious caves.

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It's still cold in this early winter, but today is sunnier than it was two days ago and not as windy. The sun rises slowly and the sky begins to brighten. You are feeling rested and ready for another day of exploration and hopefully finding more treasure without too much hassle. And you're that confident today because of your luck at the previous adventure. You've been lucky the whole way. You managed to kill the enemies with little difficulty, but most importantly, you discovered the magical orb that shows distant places. This is what you need right now. You just hope that your good fortune will continue.

Your friends Fridiger, Erdebred and Alphius are behind you. All three of them are eager to explore and find valuable items in the caves. You are confident and full of enthusiasm. Once you find the gnome they can work out more detailed plans, you think. You tell your trusty companions to be on their guard and be ready for some unexpected wicked sorcery going on, and that you will look for and consult with the gnome Dignugget.

This gnome, though. Despite the risk, maybe it would be worth keeping an eye out for those other people you overheard at the cave discussing the dangerous and untrustworthy nature and mind altering magics of the gnome, see if it would be possible to avoid a fight and have a talk with them, provided you find them.

Thus, before entering crossing the mouth-like open entrance to the caves, you turn to your friends and say: "I don't want to anger our mysterious friend, but considering the risks we should find out what we can - I want to continue working with him - but cautiously and with our eyes and ears open. If a chance comes to discuss our benefactor with some knowledgeable strangers outside of earshot, all the better."

"And also!" you continue, "You're here to get rich. Let's find all the treasure we can. The gnome might be looking for something specific. Even if it has its own hidden agenda, that doesn't mean we can't benefit. If we keep our wits about us, we might still come out ahead. Let's play it safe, not take too many chances, and make sure we all live to enjoy the fruits of our labour. A treasure is not worth the loss of one's friends."

Fridiger, the veteran warrior and warrior trainer, nods. "That's my man!" Erdebred, your beloved cousin, takes a deep breath. "We're going to do this. I'm not afraid. Just let me know where to be careful, so we don't get killed." Alphius is in awe. "Wow, this is amazing! Maybe the gnome will show himself and we will be able to read his intentions." Your words have done the trick. Now everyone is more enthusiastic about exploring the caves. You enter the mysterious caves and follow the tunnel deeper into the hill.

"Let's meet with the gnome first," you conclude, "we'll plot our next move then." You set off down the tunnel continuing from the entrance without another word. The walls are rocky, the floor is full of dust and snow brought in by the wind. The brightness of the day stays behind you. "I have an idea," you say at last. "Let's light up our torches before it's too dark."

"You've got all these great ideas!" says Fridiger with a hearty laugh, relieved that you are already barking orders. The others nod in agreement. "Excellent!" Everyone had already prepared to light their torches, wooden staves with dense woven fabric soaked in animal fat oil. The process of lightening them all takes a couple minutes.

You get ready to head deeper into the tunnel. Your dear Alphius speaks up. "Now that we are done with the light. Maybe you could just keep quiet and listen, my friend?" You smile at him and shake your head. "You never change, Alphius! I will stay quiet now. Let's focus on hearing any noises, that could be danger nearby." With that, you turn to the tunnel and start walking. You feel great, confident about the journey ahead.

The tunnel goes down straight for a while, about one hundred steps and the is silence only broken by the sound of the party's boots on the dirty ground, and then the squeak of a rat calls everyone's attention. Your heart beats fast and hard. Suddenly the air is full of movement. A small rat approaches and the adventurer feels a sudden relief. It's not the kind of enemy he expected.

"It's a little fellow!" exclaims Fridiger. "A cute little guy, a pet, probably!" Alphius's face grows red. "He's just a rat! What is there to fear? I'll take care of him!" He moves forward, draws his sword and swings it to the side, but the rat scurries away. The group starts laughing. "I told you - he's harmless! Let's get going!"

The four men get back on track and continue down the tunnel. After a while, they notice the passage stays the same for a while and it seems the group is not making progress. The same set of rocky walls and stalactites and stalagmites protruding. What is this? No way… There must be a dead end somewhere… You stop and look around.

"This is strange," says Fridiger. "Why would there be no changes in the cave, are you men noticing it?" You shrug. "Yeah, it looks the same to me…"

Alphius sighs. "Something is wrong. This place is strange. We should have passed through this area already, right?" The others nod. "Maybe we went wrong. Is it possible the gnome led us astray with illusions?"

"So what do we do?" you say. "We shouldn't turn back, let's keep going."

"What about going back to the entrance and trying to find another way?" suggests Erdebred.

"No, we are not leaving without our reward," answers Fridiger with a smile. "Besides, we have a guide here that knows these caves better than anyone else."

"Don't worry, my friend. I'm sure we will find a way out soon, this gnome knows what he is doing. He is an elder gnome!" you say.

"But what if…" asks Alphius quietly.

You pause. "What if what?"

"What if he's leading us to our deaths? Maybe he's the one who killed those explorers, or maybe he's working for dark forces, or worse…"

"Enough talk!" shouts Fridiger, irritated by Alphius's words. "Let's not waste time on nonsense. Just trust our friend and follow him!"

"Fine, fine, but we need to get out of this cave as soon as possible," whispers Erdebred.

"Yes, yes, let's go!" Fridiger gives your cousin a big slap on the shoulder. "Come, follow me!" You say. The four men continue to explore the cave together, moving towards the dark tunnel ahead.

After continuing their descent into the sparsely featured cave corridor, they start to hear noises coming from the distance ahead. Sounds like metal clashing and sharp cracking sounds, as if something were being broken. They keep moving towards the source of the noise.

At the end of the tunnel, what seems like a narrow entrance is being blocked by a short and thin man standing about 30 steps away. As you cautiously approach, the torch lights begin bringing more clarity to him and his surroundings. He looks surprisingly young, with a long blond hair. He is wearing dark gray pants but he's shirtless and his skin is as pale as a ghost, his torso is colored by a large dark red blood blot that runs from his chest to his waist. He's dragging down a sword with glimmering dark green blade with one arm to the rocky ground and some times twitching the weapon and beating it to the ground, making metal clashing sounds. His face expressionless with a cold glare with large circles around his eyes that are almost black, his lips dark blue.

As you get closer to the figure, you realize he's actually the teenager that you fought two days ago. You killed him! You trespassed his chest with your longsword and you saw him dead. How is he alive? You instantly perceive he is not alive at all. You're reminded of the undead skeletons you fought in this tunnel, they were animated with some dark, death magic. This kid is a construct, an animated body, a zombie.

Your companions advance slowly towards you and stop, recognizing the undead teen as an enemy. The boy notices them too and stops attacking the ground, looking at them with empty expression. He opens his jaw but makes no sound, his other arm making twitchy spinning movements with the hand completely loose. It's a scary sight, but all the adventurers are seasoned and have seen magic beings before, so they don't freak out instantly.

"What do we do?" asks Erdebred.

"I'll take care of it," replies Fridiger calmly.

"Yes, let's kill the bastard!" Alphius' tone is decisive.

"Not yet, we need to know what's going on here," adds Erdebred.

"Do you think the little gnome knows something?" asks Alphius.

"Who cares? Let's just do something!" Fridiger demands.

"Okay, okay, calm down," replies Erdebred, who you think is trying to save his friends from any rash decisions.

You think that is a good call. It's always better to know exactly what you are getting into instead of acting impulsively! You are ready to fight, but first you are curious about the identity and magic origin of the undead teen. You decide to try talking with it.

"Hey, fella! What are you up to?" you shout from a distance of 15 steps.

He goes back to spinning his sword and hit the ground with it, making a metallic ringing sound. Otherwise he is unmovable, barring the narrow entrance from the tunnels to somewhere else. You can't really see what's beyond him because it's everything is so dark and you only have the lights of your torches.

a) Talk more to Zombie Teenage Boy

b) Attack him

c) Ask right away what your friends want to do with it

c) Let your friends decide in their arguing and only interfere later

e) Something else. Explain
 

Gandalf

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E) Also discretely tell (by gesture) one of your hot headed friends to have an eye on the back to avoid getting ambushed from the rear.
 

hello friend

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I'm on an actual spaceship. No joke.
I concur generally
 
Unwanted
Vatnik
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Rio de Janeiro, 1936
You throw a small loose rock near the zombie kid but he doesn't react, he keeps looking at you though and clinging with his left hand to the sword while his other arm is twitching uncontrollably. You gesture your friends to the direction behind you, they look back and are on their guard. Fridiger and Alphius want to attack the zombie, but Erdebred is unsure. He says the corridor leading to the entrance he's blocking is too narrow for flanking and if the undead creature fights back the attacker could be in danger. What will you do?
 

baud

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RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I helped put crap in Monomyth
Attack!
 
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With that in mind, you don't want to lose the initiative and damage the morale of the men you're leading, as they haven't seem to have reached a consensus. Also, you're feeling pretty confident in your abilities to deal with this young teen, zombie or not. You've killed him once, now you will send this abomination to hell once and for all. You put on your magic amulet and you're surprised at how fast the transformation occurred now, without you even having to concentrate on trees or forests or whatnot. Your skin turns to protective bark, very quickly, catching your companions by surprise.

"Time to finish this!" you shout. "Let's do it!" You drop your lit torch on the rocky ground.

Fridiger and Alphius move forward and stop less than five steps from the undead teen, their weapons drawn. You step next to them and quickly swing your sword at him, aiming for his head. It hits its mark and the blade pierces its skull, causing a bright flash of light from the reflex of your blade and a spray of dark, thick, dead blood from his skull. You feel the impact through the hilt of your sword, but despite the hit the undead teen doesn't go down.

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You take impulse and jump forward, charging into him to topple him and then take him down. The undead teen was more animated this time and with a quick movement he lifts his arm with the sword and counterattacks by swinging it with force to the side of your torso, hitting the sturdy with a force you didn't expect. In any case, your momentum and your heavy weight makes you bump into the lightweight zombie like a battering ram, and you easily knock him down. In the process you lose your balance as well and decide to throw yourself in the ground to his side with your fighting instincts and tumble away from him while preparing your longsword for another attack.

Now, the undead teen is slowly turning himself up and is currently on all fours facing down, preparing to get up with his odd, jerky movements. You don't waste time and you roll your torso sideways for added traveling distance and swing your sword aiming directly to his neck. You hit him perfectly with strong speed and weight and your sharp blade decapitates the undead, his head rolling into the large, dark chamber that you both have fallen into.

This time, the undead is defeated. Its forceless body crumbles to the ground instantly with its members stills. Much more of the sticky, dark, dead blood pours out of his neck but otherwise it's inert. You notice the head rolling into the chamber and becoming almost invisible in the dark. A light appears above it, illuminating the dead head and the ground around it. It's the magical orb! You have reached the place where you first met the gnome in your first cave delve.

Your companions follow you inside anxiously, asking if you are alright and congratulating you in your success in the fight.

"I'm fine," you say, pointing to the orb. You are feeling pain from the side where the zombie's sword hit you but you are not going to let that distract you right now.

"Great!" Fridiger shouts. "We found the crystal orb! It's glowing!"

"Yes, I saw that," Alphius agrees.

"Does that mean…" Fridiger mutters.

"There must be some magic activating it with our presence," Alphius continues. "We should find the gnome."

Suddenly, a huge number of rats, much like that rat you had seen earlier before, emerge from the corners of the room and crawl on the ground in the direction of the undead body of the late teenager. The rats are moved by a inexplicable guiding force, as they organize themselves around the body to lift of the ground and on their backs, dozens and dozens of rats working in synchrony. A smaller group of rats does the same for the poor teenager's decapitated head. The adventurers are baffled and slow to react. The rats are carrying both the dead body and head away into the other side of the chamber, into the darkness.

"Necromantic rats!", Alphius shouts.

The adventurers are puzzled and confused. The first thing Fridiger and Alphius do is to run after the rodents in the hope of stopping them. However, it soon becomes clear that the rats are moving too fast for them to catch. You quickly realize that the rats are heading towards some secret passage into the walls and they disappear into it.

You then notice the gnome Dignugget sitting on a rock, staring at the entrance of this large room full of stalactites hanging from the ceiling and rocks. He has been waiting for you close to the crystal orb and is watching the strange development of events with a smile on his face. What will you do?
 
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Gandalf

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1. It's time for a talk with our little friend and make a plan. 2. Let's check out that wound, because of that glimmering dark green blade.
 

baud

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RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I helped put crap in Monomyth
Let's check out that wound, because of that glimmering dark green blade.
This.

And for the gnome, salute him, introduce your companions and ask him where you can find some treasure in the caves (and what his price will be). And if he can share any information about other denizens of the caves.
 
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You salute him, still recovering your breath from the short fight. "Greetings, o wise gnome. I bring my companions, Fridiger, Erdebred and Alphius. We are here to explore the caves and find the treasures within. Will you help us find it like you promised? And what will your price be for that help?"

The gnome raises his eyebrows, smiling. "Well done, young adventurer! You are sharp and quick thinking. But still, you are not ready yet to find the treasures of the cave. You must learn more about the cave before venturing deeper in." He then addresses your companions. "Greetings adventurers! I am the gnome Dignugget of the ancient wildlands and I greet you with all respect! Please, all of you sit down and rest yourselves while I prepare tea for you to drink to refresh yourselves." Somehow he brings in a small wood cart with tea preparing tools and a collection of cups and drinking vessels. He is acting very strangely, almost too relaxed and calm for someone who just came out of the dark after a fight with a zombie and the odd swarm of rats behaving as if possessed by demons.

Your companions look at each other uncertainly, but none of them are willing to refuse the gnome's invitation.

Dignugget begins to speak calmly: "As I said earlier, my name is Dignugget, and I am a gnome elder, I possess a myriad of magic skills that will help inside this underworld."

"Well, OK then, let's hear what you have to say," says Fridiger, sheathing his sword. The adventurers sit down on the floor and wait with bated breath for the gnome to start pouring hot tea into their cups.

"First, I must apologize for the deception in letting the rats carry away the head of your friend." Dignugget barely suppresses a scornful laughter. "I did that to keep you focused on learning what is important."

"What are these creatures?" Alphius asks with an angry frown on his face. "They look like rats but they carry the heads of undead."

"Yes. They are necromantic rats, like you said earlier. I summoned them here from another world. They are my little helpers, my eyes and ears, and sometimes my even hands when I need." Dignugget ignores how this sounds eerie and acts as if it is completely normal. "You see, I need your help and I know you will be eager to assist me! Please come closer and listen carefully. Because I have a lot to tell you and I want you to focus on listening and not on your thirst for adventure, which would make it impossible for you to learn everything I wish to teach."

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While the gnome prepares tea for you, the four adventurers rest on the ground and relax themselves. They feel better already that the gnome seems to be cooperative. Erdebred thanks the hospitality. "You know, o wise gnome. When I saw the undead kid and the swarm of rats, I thought your magic was against us, but you seem to be on our side."

"In fact, it was my magic that saved you." Dignugget nods and smiles. "But I needed to trick you a little bit. That long walk you did while I used my illusion powers to make the tunnel seem longer was how I listened to you talk to get you know better. The truth is that you cannot enter the deepest part of the caves without my help."

The gnome puts a piece of cloth on the ground. He then sits next to the adventurers and offers them some tea cups. The adventurers take it with great pleasure, enjoying them thoroughly.

"Really? What do we need to do to get inside?" asks Alphius, curious.

"You have to take the test of the cave." Dignugget makes a pause, looks at you and continues. "To pass the test, you must understand that you are not the only ones that live in the caves. As you've probably guessed, I live here, but I am not alone."

"Oh, I see..." Alphius observes, sipping his tea. "Then, tell us about this test and the other denizens of the caves."

"Very well. First of all, you should know that there are several types of creatures that dwell in the caves, some of them demonic. In case of danger, they summon the spirits of the dead to fight for them, or even more terrifying magic beings." Dignugget pauses and looks at you again. "Now, the good thing is that you don't need to worry. I will act as your guardian of the caves who watches over you and protects you. To pass the test, you must be able to communicate with me and convince me of your merit and trustworthiness. At least that's what I think. I haven't met anyone who succeeded in passing the test so far. It has never happened before."

"I'll persuade your that all of us are worthy to let us through." Fridiger comments, looking at you with a serious expression. "Yes, I agree with my good friend Fridiger here," you concur. "We are brave and loyal and willing to aid you."

Dignugget smiles and bows his head. "Thank you kindly for your words of support. I shall try to lead you to the right path. Now, please have some more tea before continuing exploring the caves." He takes the teapot and pours hot tea into your cups once again.

"I need to ask each of you something else." Dignugget says, lowering his voice and staring at you all intently. "Tell me who you truly are and what is it that you seek."

Alphius laughs loudly, as if to make fun of the gnome's question. "That one is easy! I am a simple man who desire fortune and glory. And why shouldn't I? So many things lie behind me!"

"What a nice story." Dignugget tells him, smiling sadly. "But you know, you cannot fool me with such an answer. When you were walking and talking inside the caves, and when you met the zombie kid, I was doing my best to read your hearts. You adventurers are very rare in these lands. Most people would flee after seeing that abomination that was guarding this chamber."
 
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