Castles & Crusades Diary: Dragonclaw Barony, Session 27

Exploring three stables in the former wizard village of Somber Grove, the adventurers encounter giant cockroaches, they cause a building to collapse on top of them, and then arrive at wizard/illusionist training barracks to encounter crawling claws!

Jabari Rajul-min Alshrq, Human Monk 1/Cleric 0 (class and a half) of Horus (Egyptian)
Magnus, Gnome Druid 2 of Belenus (Celt)
Eliam, Half-Elf (Elven lineage) Cleric 3/Wizard 2 of Lugh (Celt)
Homonoea, Human Dragonslayer 1/Giant Killer 0 (class-and-a-half) of Athena (Greek)
Endur “the Thick”, Human Fighter 2 of Gobniu (Celt)
Ser Sanwyche Gryffyn, Human Paladin of St. Agathos (Crusader States)
Gwar, Half-Orc Barbarian of Crom (Celt/Norse)

Thorthic Norain, Dwarven Barbarian/Cleric of Thor (Norse)

Adventure Recap Thus Far:
Somber Grove was once a village run by a family of wizards known as the Wrenwalds, decades ago the wizard ruler mocked a witch who then cursed the village. Not long after the nearby swamp came to overtake portions of the village with both plants and animals beginning to take on aspects of the undead.

The group arrived several days ago, exploring the old inn, taking on a harpy and her giant frog minions, and then making an old warehouse their base of operations. The following day they (i.e. the next game session) explored two greenhouses where exotic magical plants had run wild, and where a bunch of giant snails had taken up residence.

Game Session Diary:
Waking up to a new day in Somber Grove, the group opened the doors to the vast warehouse where they have set up camp to see a sunny August day with strong winds (regular 20mph with gusts of 40mph) coming in from Dragon Lake to the west and blowing east. After ascending the guard tower in the center of town to survey the area, Eliam noticed an old stable in the north west quadrant of the town that once held flying creatures and he noticed a giant cockroach moving about inside. The adventurers chose to head north west to explore the stables and deal with a foe they had already seen. As they approached the building they picked up the smell of decay. Opening the large barn-like doors, they were confronted with a 2 foot long cockroach weighing about 40 pounds eating at a griffon that, although it had died decades ago, was for some reason decaying very slowly. There was also an upper level and a much larger cockroach lie in wait there.

art from The Basic Fantasy Field Guide

A single cockroach, even if giant, can be easy to pick off, and the group picked that first cockroach off with some ease. However, Magnus, using his gnome and druid senses could hear that an even larger cockroach above them was communicating in some way to nearby cockroaches. Gwar, Sir Sanwyche, and Endur entered to take on the larger monster within. Gwar ascended a 20 foot high ladder to get at the beast on the upper floor (which was half the size of the lower floor, leaving a vast open space where people on the lower level could look above), meanwhile the paladin and fighter took positions from below with their bows and prepared to launch arrows at it.

The cockroach above was much larger, being more than 6 feet in length and weighing hundreds of pounds. It also exuded a powerful scent filled with disease. Gwar stepped off the ladder onto the old wooden platform to attack and rolled a 1 – critical fail! The critical fail die said he crit himself! He was using a black shadow short sword that drains strength, so as his foot broke through a wooden floor board up to his crotch, the black sword cut into him, he failed his Con save and his Strength was reduced by 1 for the next 24 hours – this was a bad start! The paladin and fighter below launched their arrows at the beast, but many of their arrows flew wide of the mark.

The rest of the group was ready to come in and take care of this single monster, but its previous calls had been heard and within seconds cockroachs emerged en masse from the windows and foundations of the nearby buildings. Two attacked Thorthic, two gathered around Magnus, and Eliam, Homonoea, and Jabari had four surround them. It was mayhem from all directions! Although they went down easy enough from the melee weapon blows, more would swarm forth. Eliam slowed things down and gave people breathing space with a couple of sleep spells, but these bugs kept people busy.

Gwar decided to descend the ladder and draw the 6 foot cockroach down to the others and swiftly slid down the ladder with the beast leaping after him. At this point Sir Sanwyche plunged the sword he acquired from the tomb of the barbarian prince Thorin Zeuse into the ground and said the magical command word: a chasm 60 ft. long, 10 ft. wide and 10 ft. deep opened before him. It swallowed the massive cockroach and Gwar. It also spread out through the west side of the building and the decades-old neglected wooden building began to creak and sway from the crumbled foundation and the strong winds outside, and they all knew the building was now on the verge of collapse!

Since it had been raining recently and the village had been overrun by a swamp, water was pouring into the chasm, soaking the dirt walls and making it nearly unclimbable. The battle continued on the giant cockroach, its horrific smell now began to effect those that were fighting it. Eliam had cast jump on Homonea and she lept into the building and on top of the bug, but her, Magnus, and Jabari were now afflicted with powerful dysentery and they could tell that they were getting weaker and would lose strength later on.

After several rounds the 6 foot long bug finally died, but now the interior of the chasm was filled with 9 inches of water, the sides were nearly unclimbable, and the wall was seconds away from collapsing. Friends reaching in with helping hands and a still active jump spell helped most get out of the chasm and out of the building, but in the end, Endur got stuck between the collapsed west wall and the still standing north wall, and Magnus and Jabari jumped into the chasm to avoid getting crushed by the falling west wall. With part of the chasm reaching outside of the building to the outdoors, Jabari and Magnus could see some sunlight come into the chasm from the far west end, so crawled out to the open air from the other side. Although Endur had been pinned between two walls, he was strong and dexterous enough to get out of the building in safety.

A few heals later and they proceeded to explore the other two stables. They had also had cockroaches, but they all headed the call of their leader and attacked the group earlier, thus these buildings were empty of foes. Inside the group found some basic tools (pitch forks for hay, hammers, iron nails), along with some boxes filled with wizard/illusionist scrolls (remember, this was once a village of wizards, so these are belongings most of them carried with them if they would ever run out of normal spells, or for trade with other wizards).

After collecting more rare magical scrolls (my players always choose their spells at new levels from the Player’s Handbook, but the spells for these scrolls came from the Adventurer’s Backpack), it was time to head to the wizard barracks. Some of those buildings had been been weakened from a termite infestation and the cockroaches. This weakened the wooden structures. It also mean some of the arcane scrolls had been destroyed, for the termites had sought out the wood from the scroll paper and whatever exotic animal parts or fluids that had been part of the ink that was used was pursued by the cockroaches. However, in the process of devouring the scrolls the magic within had killed the termites and cockroaches.

That being said, one room did have a dead wizard (now a skeleton in wizard robes). As Eliam went to explore the personal scrolls of this corpse, the skeletal hands came to life and lept at him, clawing at Eliam’s body through his robes! Even though both claws only had an AC13 and 1 hp, Eliam and nearby friends had trouble hitting them, and he was being whittled down by the claw scratches! Eventually the group prevailed, but Eliam needed some healing.

The session time was coming to an end, and with several players covered in mud and diarrhea from the disease they were afflicted with, they were happy to find the old bath house, mostly intact. They used some cantrips to clean it out, filled the tubs with water, washed themselves clean, and then headed back to the warehouse to camp for the evening and replenish their spells for the next day (and the next game session in two weeks).

It was good to return to this game after a six week absence (we game every fortnight). I had to put this Discord game on hold for 6 weeks because I had broken my primary right arm in mid-June and had to wait a while until I could use it to some degree again. It felt good to be able to return to gaming! This is a four hour game, and after four hours my arm was aching and sore, so I knew I had reached my limit, but at least I was gaming again (my Tuesday in-home Barrowmaze game is easier to manage with a broken arm, since my players can operate and manipulate anything that needs doing and as a result there is less strain on my healing arm).