Monday, September 19, 2016

Iron Gods - Lords of Rust 2

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign, spoilers ahead.

After defeating the Smilers and rescuing Whiskifiss, the company paid a visit to the hangout of Redtooth's Raiders. Redtooth was greatly relieved to have her brother returned safe. The party learned that Redtooth and her gang were fighting a small-scale insurgency against the Lords of Rust. The party agreed to help and Redtooth told them she believed there were some explosives in a wreck of a small vessel in a fog-shrouded canyon at the far end of Scrapwall. She wanted to use the explosives to destroy the arena and the receiver array, two structures that were important to the Lords of Rust. The party agreed to retrieve the explosives.

To avoid the eyes of agents of the Lords, the party took an unwatched route guarded by a mutant manticore. They defeated the monster, but Smangtooth suffered a nasty radioactive bite resulting in a serious bout of radiation poisoning. Although she was weakened, Smangtooth and the rest of the party pushed on. The small ship was suffused in necromantic energy. The group fought shadows and skeletal champions before a final battle against a wraith. They acquired a number of useful items including three explosive charges and an inhibitor facet, a valuable weapon to use against artificial intelligences.

The party's exploits had finally attracted the attention of the Lords of Rust. Nalakai, a half-orc cleric of Hellion, came before them with an invitation from the Lords of Rust. Helskrag, the troll master of the arena, offered them a chance to join the gang in a trial by combat. They agreed to battle the following day only to find out they would be fighting Helskrag herself. Riding an enormous chariot pulled by two ogres, Helskrag charged toward them. As she closed on Smangtooth, she fired her autograpnel at Targus, embedding in his chest. Nils and Fact opened up on one of the ogres with laser rifle and alchemical bomb respectively. It proved too much for the ogre who staggered. The chariot crashed into Smangtooth, who was thrown twenty feet in the air, while Grendel moved up to engage in melee. A short, but bloody battle ensued. Nils concentrated his laser fire on the troll, knowing she could not regenerate the damage, while Smangtooth got to her feet and proceeded to dispatch the remaining ogre. Targus got mauled pretty good by Helskrag, but gave a good accounting of himself. In the end, they were battered, but victorious and offered membership in the Lords of Rust.

Fresh off their victory over Helskrag, the company was feeling confident. They had now slain two members of the Lords of Rust and were keen to collect another trophy. In accordance with the rules of the arena, they called out Kulgara, orc barbarian and leader of the gang.

She accepted the challenge and the next day, the group found themselves facing off in the arena against the orc leader and her elite ogrish bodyguards.The roar of the crowd and the rumbling of Kulgara's chainsaw was deafening as she started off by lobbing an inferno grenade. The group scattered to avoid the blast and the melee was on. Blood splattered everywhere as Kulgara's chainsword chewed into Smangtooth's flesh, but she gave as good as she got. Grendel battled two ogres, while Targus fought the other two. Fact and Nils concentrated their ranged attacks on Kulgara. Things looked bleak as Grendel went down from a massive strike by one of the ogres, but luck would smile upon the company at just the right time. A well-aimed blow from Smangtooth slipped past Kulgara's parry, crushing her skull and killing her instantly. Silence settled upon the crowd as Smangtooth picked up the chainsword, checked its heft, then slung it over her shoulder and walked away, leaving the orc warchief's ruin upon the field. Hellion awaits.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Is the Mythos becoming cool again?

I recently bought the first issue of the new Strange Aeons AP. It isn't the first Pathfinder AP to incorporate elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, but it is the first to use it as the central theme of the campaign. When I first became interested in tabletop rpgs back in the early 80s, Lovecraft's work was obscure and only the nerdiest among us knew of it, either through Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu game or the much sought after 1980 edition of the AD&D Deities & Demigods (which I have seen, but do not own). Sometime since then, Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos became widely known. Old Squidface himself eventually became this:
 Not exactly the epitome of cosmic horror Lovecraft intended.

Lately though, things seem to be turning around, although perhaps not for Cthulhu himself (besides, with Trump in the race, Cthulhu may actually be the lesser of two evils). The new star of the show seems to be Hastur; The Unspeakable One, Him Who Is Not To Be Named, The King in Yellow. I've always been a fan of Hastur, brooding in his cyclopean citadel of Carcosa on the shore of the Lake of Hali on a distant world in the Hyades star cluster, infiltrating the dreams of artists and poets with his dark visions.

The first mention of Hastur dates back to a short story by Ambrose Bierce called "Haïta the Shepherd" from 1893, although he was a benign god of shepherds back then. Hastur became much more menacing in Robert W. Chambers' 1895 anthology "The King in Yellow", a series of short stories in which a play of the same name appears in each story. The play is a source of great scandal, having the power to drive men mad. In this work, Hastur still wasn't fully developed and, in fact, the name seemed to refer more to a place than a creature. The next step in Hastur's evolution involved Lovecraft, who mentioned Hastur in his 1931 story "The Whisperer in Darkness". Although it was only a passing reference, it established Hastur as part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Finally, it was several stories by August Derleth, a contemporary of Lovecraft, which developed Hastur as he is thought of today, a Great Old One, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, half-brother of Cthulhu, the King in Yellow.

Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Carcosa.
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Lost Carcosa.
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.
—"Cassilda's Song" in The King in Yellow Act 1, Scene 2

My first inkling of Hastur as the new hotness was the first season of the HBO series "True Detective". Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey play Louisiana detectives investigating several murders of women and children. They uncover a cult of prominent local citizens engaged in child abuse and murder. Throughout the series, there are repeated mentions of the Yellow King and a place called Carcosa.

Which brings me back to Pathfinder. In the Golarion campaign setting, the Cthulhu Mythos is called the Dark Tapestry which exists in the Void beyond the stars. In the Iron Gods AP, we learn more about the Dominion of the Black, an organization of emissaries who represent or serve the Dark Tapestry in some fashion. It was a confrontation with the Dominion that caused the alien ship to crash in Numeria. Next year, Paizo will be releasing a new space fantasy game called Starfinder and early indications are that the Dominion of the Black will be a major antagonist. I am eagerly awaiting this game to see what role the Cthulhu Mythos will play. Given Hastur's somewhat more cosmic fantasy horror style and new popularity, I hope and expect the Yellow King will figure prominently.

Hastur! Hastur! Hastur!


Sunday, September 04, 2016

Iron Gods - Lords of Rust 1

We begin the next chapter in our Iron Gods campaign; Lords of Rust. As always, spoilers follow.

The plans of the android cleric had been thwarted and the forge of Torch had been relit, but the city council were concerned that the danger to the city had only been temporarily defeated. So they summoned the company once again to offer them another commission. The offered 8,000 gp to remove the threat to Torch permanently. The party countered with a proposal of 10,000 gp, which was accepted. As the party left to prepare for their journey to Scrapwall, the Brigh cleric Jorum Kyte pulled them aside and asked a favour. He mentioned a friend named Dinvaya Lanalei, another cleric of Brigh who had been hiding in Scrapwall after running afoul of the Technic League. He requested that they make contact with her and let her know that the Technic League has lost interest in her and that she can come to Torch. In exchange for this communication (or a report of her death), Jorum offered his lesser rod of extend as reward. The party accepted the offer. They were off the next day.

It took several days of travel to reach Scrapwall. On the way, the party came upon a ruined keep known as Aldronard's Grave, a common stopover for crusaders heading north to the Worldwound. Expecting to find crusaders, instead they found horrors. A gang of cannibalistic thugs known as the Smilers had set up camp in the ruin. Named for the horrific facial disfigurements they inflict upon themselves, the Smilers had captured several followers of Saranrae and had already butchered and eaten some of the prisoners. Disgusted by what they witnessed, the party slaughtered the Smilers and freed the remaining prisoners, a paladin and three acolytes. Fortunately, the prisoners had overheard their captors' conversations. They had learned that a new gang called the Lords of Rust had taken over in Scrapwall. The Smilers and many of the other gangs had allied themselves with this new group. They also found out that one of the members of the Lords of Rust had recently been killed while on a mission which has proven a major setback to the plans of the group. In an effort to find out what happened, the Lords of Rust have started pushing their members to leave Scrapwall and investigate. That is why the Smilers were occupying Aldronard's Grave.

The next day, the company arrived at the main gate of Scrapwall. It was controlled by a gang called the Steel Hawks. They peacefully negotiated their entry and made contact with the leader of the group, a human named Sevroth Slaid. After satisfying herself that the party were not crusaders looking to cause trouble or Technic League spies, Sevroth warmed to the group and saw them as a way to deal with a problem she had. The Lords of Rust had installed a Smiler to lead the Steel Hawks. They were ruffians to be sure, but the Steel Hawks weren't cannibals and they wanted no part of Smiler depravity. If the company could destroy the Smiler leader, a ranger named Birdfood and his orcish lieutenants, Sevroth could resume control of the Steel Hawks and aid the party in any way she could.

The company devised an elaborate plan to provide poisoned ale to Birdfood's orcs, but it proved difficult to manage and in the end, just decided to have Fact pose as a capo of the Smilers and drop off a keg of ale to the orcs in hope that they would be too inebriated to resist. After much hilarity as an android posing as a gangster convinced a bunch of orcs to accept the keg as a gift from Marrow, the head of the Smilers, the orcs accepted and as expected, got drunk. The next morning, the company showed up again with another keg. This time the orcs eagerly let them in without much scrutiny and were promptly massacred. Birdfood was also killed in the melee and the company earned some respect among the gangs, "scrap-worth" as it is referred to by the people of Scrapwall.

After making contact with Dinvaya Lanalei and passing along Jorum's message, the party decided to reveal to Sevroth that they were in Scrapwall to investigate the events that occurred in Torch and it seemed the Lords of Rust were involved. They asked how they could find the Lords of Rust. Sevroth suggested that if they earned enough scrap-worth, the Lords of Rust would seek them out. She went on to suggest taking out Marrow, the necromancer boss of the Smilers, as one way to earn some. So, without hesitation, they headed off to take out the cannibal Smilers once and for all. The front door, chained from the inside and covered by a mounted laser rifle proved one of the biggest challenges. Eventually Smangtooth, aided by Targus and an enlarge person spell from Augusto, was able to break through but not before several party members got scorched. The party then mowed through more than two dozen of Marrow's minions including Smiler gang members and various weird zombie-like creations, some living, some undead.

Finally, Marrow herself, was slain and a great deal of loot was recovered. The company also released a prisoner, a ratfolk named Whiskifiss. He said he was the brother of Redtooth, leader of Redtooth's Raiders, a ratfolk gang of some repute in Scrapwall. It seemed another useful ally had just been acquired.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Iron Gods - Fires of Creation 5

Continuing with our Iron Gods campaign, as always, there will be spoilers.

The next day, the company headed out to Garmen Ulreth's warehouse to confront him on his activities. They decided to use the direct approach, walking right up to the door and knocking. One of Ulreth's men answered the door, but refused to allow them in and told them to go away. Smangtooth took umbrage at that and proceeded to smash in the door. This led to a brief battle between the group and Ulreth and his men. Ulreth proved to be little challenge. The party then searched the building, uncovering the item they sought. It wasn't a magic item at all, rather it was a power relay, taking energy from a source somewhere inside Black Hill, amplifying it and transmitting it to a location somewhere off to the northeast. Further examination revealed the destination to be Scrapwall, a lawless region several days travel from Torch. Targus decided to shut down the power relay, assuming this would be necessary to restart the forge.

The company then headed back to the caves. With the coupling for the elevator repaired, they were able to activate it. Only one destination was available, the engineering deck, so that is where they went. The encountered a group of orcs and ratfolk who battled hard, but ultimately proved little threat to the group. Moving on, they came to a large domed chamber. A machine with a large holographic projection showing the habitat section of the ship shared the room with some bizarre statue of an upraised claw made of broken bits of technology. The statue has the appearance of a crudely-built altar to some unknown deity. As they examined the room, a hulking gargoyle entered. The gargoyle was covered in bits of broken technology. Despite its fearsome appearance, the gargoyle was defeated easily. The reactor core and a final confrontation awaited beyond a pair of immense black metal doors.

At the heart of the room was two huge cylinders pulsing with violet light. Hovering around them was a collector robot which moved down to attack, while the purple-haired woman fired some sort of crude laser pistol from a platform above. A tough battle followed. The purple-haired woman was revealed to be an android and a cleric. As she died, she called out to a god she called Hellion.

With the defeat of the android cleric, the company was able to disable the power transmitter that was feeding energy to the relay in Ulreth's warehouse. This re-engaged a fail-safe venting system that provided the fire to the forge. Torch was saved...for now.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Iron Gods - Fires of Creation 4

We proceed with the next chapter of our Iron Gods campaign, spoilers ahead.

It took some effort getting Khonnir Baine and Sanvil Trett back up to the surface, but eventually they managed. The Brigh cleric, Joram Kyte, examined Baine. With healing magic, he was able to cure Baine's wounds and temporarily recover his faculties, but some sort of infection continued to ravage his body and mind. The infection resisted Kyte's magic, suggesting it was some sort of nanite disease requiring a technological cure. Thinking back over their time in the ship, the party recalled that each of the passageways into the habitat dome had a small room with some sort of spray apparatus, which could have been a decontamination chamber.

The next day, with Joram's help, they got Khonnir into sufficiently good shape to make the journey back into the caves. They took him to the room which, they hoped, would heal him. Targus and Smangtooth were able to get the machine working and Khonnir was sprayed. They promptly returned to the surface to wait and see if the nanite infection was removed.

Meanwhile, Sanvil Trett had regained consciousness and was willing to talk in exchange for leniency. He indicated that he had once worked for the Technic League, but had fallen into disfavour and was hoping to find something here in Torch that he could present to his former employers to get him back in their good graces. He said before the company had come along and started bringing technological artifacts out of the caves, he had actually been more interested in Garmen Ulreth, a prominent local businessman and owner of Silverdisk Hall, a gambling house. Trett mentioned that he had been spying on Ulreth and overheard mention of a new business partner and the arrival of a valuable magic item which would be stored in his warehouse until a buyer could be arranged. Trett was fairly certain whatever Ulreth was up to had something to do with the extinguishing of the torch.

That night, as he slept in preparation for the next day and a confrontation with Garmen Ulreth, Targus had a vivid dream. Great battles fought on distant worlds, flying ships, titanic war machines, powerful magic and advanced technology, men in armour fighting horrific monsters and hatred of an ancient enemy known simply as the Dominion of the Black. Targus snapped awake and instinctively reached for his sword. The strange black blade he had carried for years, indeed, he could not clearly recall a time when he did not have it, nor could he recall where he got it. The sword now displayed a string of dimly-glowing red runes along the whole length of the blade. Targus could sense its consciousness at the edge of his own. Two had become one.


Iron Gods - Fires of Creation 3

Continuing with our Iron Gods campaign, as before, there are spoilers ahead.

The death of Edvin was a grievous blow to the party. They mourned his passing, but were gladdened that he had joined the Lady of Graves in the afterlife. Fact informed the group that he had personal obligations to attend to and would meet up with them at a later date. This combined with the loss of Edvin left the company dangerously short of men. So they turned to a woman...sort of. During their time in Torch, the party had met many of the locals including an orcish giantess named Smangtooth. Though orcs are generally viewed poorly in these parts, Smangtooth was more than capable of discouraging the local thugs and had kept out of trouble in town long enough to earn a grudging amount of acceptance. Her fighting prowess and surprising degree of expertise in technology made her highly valued by the company and she was invited to join.

Descending once again into the caves of Black Hill, the party proceeded to the one remaining door they had not yet entered. They came into a large room with a desk and some glowing panels and patches of mould. More importantly, a dried blood stain covered the floor near a set of double doors. After looting the room of everything of value, they followed the trail of blood. Eventually, the came to some sort of lab containing many rock and soil samples. Featured prominently in the room was a humming machine containing a flickering sphere of reddish-brown mud. As the company examined the device, a hideous creature emerged from the shadows.

Augusto, having some learning of such things, identified it as an alien horror from a distant world called a cerebric fungus. Luck smiled upon the company as they did not succumb to the weird mind-altering powers of the creature and they were able to kill it without loss of life.

With a sense that they were close to uncovering the fate of Khonnir Baine, the party pressed on. Following the blood trail, they eventually came upon a chamber that may have once served as a hospital of some sort, but had recently seen a great deal of violence as blood splatters could seen everywhere. A medical robot and a collector robot occupied the room. 

In violation of their standard operational protocols, the two robots attacked with great ferocity. By this point, the party had some experience fighting robots. They eventually succeeded in destroying the aggressive robots. With a moment to catch their breath, they could hear muffled screams. The noise came from a large metal pod in one end of the room. Opening it up, they found Khonnir Baine, alive, but badly wounded and clearly delirious. They administered to him as best they could, but he clearly needed more healing magic than they could provide. They decided to check out the remaining parts of the ship in case some useful medical technology might be found. During their exploration, they encountered a group of vegepygmies, the spawn of the unfortunate party of Brigh worshippers who made up the fourth expedition. They had apparently ran afoul of some russet mould, probably mutated by the weird fluids that oozed and pooled in parts of the ship.

They also came upon a small chamber which appeared to be a transport device of some sort. The device did not work, but after some study and a few nasty electrical shocks, Nils was able to remove a piece of equipment that needed to be repaired to return function to the device. He figured Baine could probably repair the part once he was returned to health.

Having found nothing that could cure Khonnir Baine of whatever it was that ailed him, the party headed out. As they passed through the large cavern where the skulks once lived, they were set upon by a group of men with swords and crossbows. The leader of the brigands was a hooded figure of some prowess with both sword and spell. The battle was hard-fought, and the struggle between Smangtooth and the bandit leader was particularly ferocious. In the end, the company was victorious, though all were bloodied. The bandit leader lay on the ground, bleeding, but not yet dead. Nils moved to attend to the villain in order to keep him alive for questioning and trial. Pulling back the hood, the bandit leader was revealed to be Sanvil Trett, a local technology merchant the party had met a few days before. He had offered his services if the party wished to identify or sell technological items they found. Hopefully, he would have some useful information to barter in exchange for his life.


Saturday, August 06, 2016

Iron Gods - Fires of Creation 2

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign. As always, there will be spoilers.

Upon returning to the town, Targus, Edvin, Grendal and Augusto met up with Nils, who had just arrived in Torch. At some point, Nils had joined up with a traveling companion, a strange fellow named Fact. He is an alchemist with elaborate tattoos over his body.

After healing and rest, the party was ready to return to the Black Hill caves. The leader of the skulks had mentioned a purple-haired woman who had passed through the caves a couple of weeks ago and had continued on through the gremlin warren. The party returned to the warren and found a large door made of glaucite, a strange alloy common to the ancient ruins throughout Numeria. Despite their best efforts, the party was unable to open the door. Returning to the skulk chamber, they were directed to another glaucite door which was easier to breach. Passing through, they entered a very different sort of passage. The walls were glaucite, rather than natural stone. They passed through a series of metal doors and small rooms and fought a brief battle with an automaton like the one Khonnir Baine brought back from his first expedition.

Eventually, the party came to a large chamber with natural stone walls, a sandy floor and a glaucite domed ceiling. It appeared to be some artificial structure made to appear natural. The sand floor revealed tracks which Nils was able to follow. As they crossed the open terrain, they were beset by a group of four-armed skeletons. The party handled the skeletons with little difficulty. Feeling confident, they continued on until they came to a cave on the other side of the chamber. There was illumination in the cave entrance, but they could not immediately locate the source. After some searching, they determined that there was a glaucite door in the back of the cave that was obscured by an illusionary wall. The door was slightly ajar and there was illumination inside. Continuing on, the party came to a room with a lot of equipment, flashing lights, buttons and switches. They spent a considerable amount of time attempting to understand everything they saw. Eventually they were able to make some sense of it and realized it was a control centre for the structure. With some further experimentation, they were able to power up the habitat. The ceiling of the large chamber lit up, revealing an alien sky. Also, many of the de-powered door locks became active. The party then continued on to another chamber and it was there that fate dealt a cruel blow. Inside the room was a juju zombie, a potent foe to be sure. Like the skeletons before, it had four arms and it wielded two swords. A long and deadly battle followed. The juju zombie proved very difficult to fight. It enjoyed immunity to many magical attacks and even weapons seemed to do less damage than one would expect. Men would fall, the party would retreat. They would advance to rescue fallen comrades, only to see others fall. Eventually, Augusto and Edvin were the only ones left standing and they came up with a desperate plan. They had lured the juju zombie out of the room and they planned to run past it and seal the door behind them, leaving the monster outside while they recovered inside. Augusto went first. The juju zombie swung one of its swords, but Augusto was able to dodge successfully. Edvin then ran through, hoping the juju zombie would be unable to recover in time to take a second attack. Sadly, the juju zombie was not caught off guard. It swung low and caught Edvin through the chest. He went down, bleeding badly. With great regret, Augusto was forced to slam the door shut and seal it tight, leaving Edvin to his fate.

The party locked themselves in for a few days. As various party members recovered, they were able to administer aid to the rest. When they were all once again in fighting shape, they emerged. Edvin's remains lay where he fell. They gathered his body and headed back to the caves. As they walked through the now illuminated habitat, they encountered the juju zombie once again along with the reformed skeletons they had fought earlier. The juju zombie was still damaged from the previous battle and they were better prepared. Vengeance was swift and merciless. The undead horrors were put to rest for good. With sadness, they headed back to Torch.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Iron Gods - Fires of Creation 1

We now continue the story of our Iron Gods campaign. As always, there will be spoilers.

The first stop for the party upon arriving in Torch was the town hall. There they met Dolga Freddert, an aged dwarven female and member of the town council. Councillor Freddert explained the current situation to them, including the reward for the return of Khonnir Baine. In addition to the 4000 gp reward, they would also include a scroll of resurrection if he was found alive as it was intended to bring Biane back if he was deceased. She also mentioned that another councillor, a cleric of Brigh named Jorum Kyte, would cast water breathing on the party before they headed down into the underwater cavern. Finally, she mentioned that Khonnier Baine's adopted daughter, Val, has made their tavern available for the use of any group seeking to rescue her father free of charge and that all the town's merchants would be offering a 20% discount on all purchases. With so many incentives, the party was eager to get started.

They headed off to the Foundry Tavern, owned by Khonnir and Val Baine. As they approached, they heard screams and a commotion coming from Baine's house behind the tavern. As they ran toward the noise, they saw a young woman busting through the front door with a clumsy, staggering construct in pursuit.

They charged forward. A well-placed grease spell from Augusto followed up by several devastating strikes from Targus and Grendal quickly rendered the construct into a heap of junk. The young woman, who was, of course, Val Baine, thanked them for her rescue and explained that the construct was the one her father brought back from his first expedition. It had not shown any ability to function until now.

The next day, the party headed for Weeping Pond. They had six hours of water breathing, so haste was the order of the day. They swam inside the cave for a short distance until coming upon an opening to the air. They were inside a larger cave complex within the Black Hill. As they were pulling themselves up onto a ledge, the party was set upon by a trio of fire beetles. They proved little more than a warmup for the group as they pressed on. A cave full of stalactites and stalagmites lay before them and at times, they were forced to squeeze through. They encountered the deceased remains of a female half-orc in the cave, most likely a member of a previous expedition. Continuing on, they came out into a larger cavern. At one end, they spotted what appeared to be a patch of cultivated mushrooms and other fungi. As they approached, a frog-like humanoid stepped out of the shadows. It opened its large eyes, which glowed with an intense light. Targus, Grendal and Edvin were blinded by the flash, only Augusto managed to avert his eyes. With three party members blind, the battle against the creature, which they later determined was a blindheim, proved difficult. The creature was tough and the melee fighters had difficulty hitting it. Augusto's spells and Edvin's negative energy channeling eventually won the day, but Targus was badly mauled and Grendal was down. Happily, the blindness wore off after about an hour and Edvin was able to heal up the fighters enough to continue. The aftermath of the battle also revealed another corpse submerged in the water. The party was able to loot it for some gold, a silver unholy symbol of Zyphus and two healing potions.

With a few hours left before their water breathing spells expired, the party continued on. Eventually, they came upon a large chamber with several huts constructed of fibrous fungal material and bits of technology. Approaching slowly and without weapons drawn, they were able to make peaceful contact with the inhabitants, a small band of skulks. After some negotiation with the leader, they made a pact. In exchange for chasing off a group of nearby gremlins, the skulks would give the party some technological treasures they had accumulated. The gremlins proved to be rather weak, but their numerous traps were not. Grendal and Targus endured several injuries as they pushed their way through the gremlin warrens until they finally encountered the leader. Rather than face certain doom, the gremlin chief used his dimension door ability to escape and the party had fulfilled their side of the bargain. They collected their reward (some silverdisks and five brown access cards) and returned to the surface for rest and recovery.