The Sunless Citadel

Session Three
More fucking rats...

Meepo the kobold led the group beyond the Dragon Keeper's chamber, down a long hallway, and into an empty chamber. Beyond that room, he stated, he had no knowledge of what lay in wait, only that it was the way to goblin territory. The empty chamber was home only to rat droppings, crumbled flagstone, and stains. A single door led to the north, and after checking it for traps, the group moved through.

Dust and odd bits of stony debris and rubble lay scattered on the floor. An ornate fountain was built into the eastern wall. Though cracked and stained, the fountain's overarching carving of a diving dragon retained its beauty. A relief-carved stone door stood on the western wall. Carvings on the door show skeletal dragons, and Meepo translated the Draconic inscription on the door which read "Something the dead, open the way," (the first word was beyond the kobold's vocabulary). Meepo commented that within a few feet of the door, the air was noticeably cooler, and the door itself was cold to the touch. Osric recognized the style of carvings and the type of door as potentially blocking passage into a burial chamber or tomb. Meepo translated an inscription at the base of the fountain, and the dragon's mouth belched forth a red liquid which, when collected and examined, was shown to be a potion of protection from fire.

Upon investigating the door, Karyl found a trap mechanism which would release a scything blade from the top of the door frame. Holding it aside was easy, and the group opened the door and entered the chamber beyond.

Five dusty sarcophagi, three to the north and two to the south, stood on end in that silent chamber. Each of the carved stone coffins resembled a noble, elf-like humanoid in ceremonial robes. An altar, with images of dragons carved into its black obsidian, was set in the center of the west wall. A single candle burned brightly on the altar. Next to the candle were a small whistle and a crystal flask. Karyl was immediately drawn to the objects on the altar, but the rest of the group hesitated. After a quick, hushed deliberation, Karyl and Osric approached the altar, and Karyl snatched up the flask and whistle.

Immediately, the five sarcophagi burst open revealing animated skeletal warriors which set upon Osric and Karyl. The rogue blew on the whistle, but was mortally wounded fairly quickly. She cheated death and was back on her feet after a few seconds. Osric, the cleric, groaned about not getting to the teachings about turning undead in the Cleric handbook just yet, and lay into the skeletons with his martial weapons. Hammer, with his maul, laid waste to the skeletons quickly, with Morthos remaining outside the chamber, unsuccessfully calling on his warlock skills to bring an end to the combat. Soon, though, all that remained were piles of bones. As the group caught their breath, however, a sixth skeleton crawled up through the ruined floor and stood staring at Karyl. The whistle, it turned out, summoned the creature to do her bidding. She named it Howard.

Continuing on, the adventurers moved through another empty chamber to the north with a single door leading from it. Investigating that door turned up no traps, so Hammer opened it with gusto, setting of a set of chimes and bells that were attached to the door with thin lines of twine. Waiting, nothing set upon the group. Beyond the door they found a ten-foot-wide, thirty-foot long hall liberally strewn with sharp caltrops. On the northern wall, passage to the room beyond was partially blocked by a roughly mortared, three-foot high wall, complete with crenellations. Karyl ordered Howard the Skeleton to move into the hallway and begin sweeping aside the caltrops.

As the skeleton moved into the hall, two goblins popped up over the wall to the north, brandishing short bows. They attacked the undead creature, but Morthos was quick on the draw as well, launching a kinetic bolt of force at the greenskins – and missing. Howard was dropped quickly, but had managed to clear a section of the hallway allowing the adventurers to move in for the attack. Morthos' second eldritch blast took one of the goblins out, and the second fell to various ranged attacks.

Investigating the room that the goblins were guarding, they found a chamber with filth on the floor, stains on the walls, and shabby hides. A firepit attested to the years of use this room had seen at the hands of creatures unconcerned with hygiene. From here, the group found another door that would leave them westward, back into the depths of the ruins, however they decided to backtrack, concerned about leaving unexplored areas behind them.

To the north-east of the caltrop hall, they found a series of six rooms containing abandoned rat nests, and some not so abandoned. They made quick work of three giant rats, and moved from there into a large open chamber. The cobblestone floor contained two trapdoors blocked open by iron spikes. The north wall held a dry fountain carved with another overarching diving dragon with an inscription at its base. A faint rotten stench filled the room.

Before the words on the fountain's base were spoken, however, Osric's keen eye noticed a series of suspicious-looking tubes in the dragon's mouth. Arraying themselves against the far wall of the chamber, Meepo translated the inscription from Draconic, reading out loud "Let there be death." Immediately, gas spurted from the dragon's mouth and filled a 20' area in front of the fountain, but the adventurers remained safely out of the poisoned area. After a few minutes it cleared, and the group approached a door in the west wall – the smell of rotten meat was even stronger here.

Guthash the Mother RatOsric attempted to quietly open the door, but his heavy armour made enough noise that anything beyond the opening would have heard their approach. As the door opened, the group was overcome with a terrible stench. The oppressive smell suffused the air, rising from chewed carcasses of cave rats, smaller vermin, and a few humanoid-looking creatures. The bodies lay upon a floor of filth, old bones, hair, and fur that combined to make a particularly large and vile nest. Waiting for the adventurers in this room were three giant rats, and another that was larger than the rest – a monstrously bloated female rat, putrid-smelling, with diseased flesh. Meepo set eyes upon this mother rat and squeaked the word Guthash before clawing his way back into the fountain room they had just come from.

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Session Two
Into the Ruins…

The party descended the switchback steps to the crevasse floor. A fortress emerged from the darkness. The subterranean citadel, though impressive, seemed long forgotten, if the lightless windows, cracked crenellations, and leaning towers were any indication. All was quiet, though a cold breeze blew up from below, bringing with it the scent of dust and a faint trace of rot.

The narrow stairs emptied into a small courtyard, apparently the top of what was once a crenelated battlement. The buried citadel had sunk so far into the earth that the battlement was now level with the surrounding floor. That floor stretched away to the north and south, composed of a layer of treacherous, crumbled masonry, which reached to an unknown depth . To the west loomed the surviving structure of what must have been the Sunless Citadel. A tower stood on the west side of the courtyard, and a closed doorway promised access.

Despite her misgivings, the group convinced Karyl to check the door for any traps, and sure enough, as she approached, a section of floor opened up beneath her, but she managed to spring out of the way. Using pitons, Hammer was able to hold the trap door open and Karyl lowered herself down to investigate the remains of goblins. Once she had climbed back out, the group opened the doorway and continued onward.

They found themselves inside the shell of the tower. This circular area was cobbled with cracked granite, upon which sprawled the bodies of four goblins, apparently slain in combat. One corpse stood with its back against the western wall, the spear that killed it still skewering it and holding it upright. Three wooden doors led from this area. A hollow tower of loose masonry reached thirty feet into the air, but the intervening floors and stairs were gone, except for a couple of crumbled ledges. A door led to the north-west, and another led to the south-west.

Osric pulled the spear free from the goblin skewered to the wall, and behind the body he could see strange runes, written in Draconic, carved into the wall. None of the group were able to read the words, so after a brief search of the room and the goblins, they chose the southern door and moved into the chamber beyond.

Here, they found that the masonry walls of this twenty-foot-wide hall were in poor repair. The far end had collapsed, filling the southern section with rubble. The western wall was in much better shape than the other walls, and it held a stone door with a rearing dragon carved in relief on it. The door had a single keyhole, situated in the rearing dragon's open mouth. Upon investigating the keyhole, the group was able to determine that not only was this a complicated locking system, but there seemed to be some arcane works done on it as well. Realizing that, right now, this was probably beyond their skill to get past, the group returned to the tower shell and decided to investigate the opposite door, beyond which they found a short hallway with three doors.

One door stood out from the others. This stone relief-carved door sealing this chamber portrayed a dragon-like fish swimming. Upon investigating, they discovered a ten-foot-square chamber hewn from stone. It contained an upright keg fashioned of rusted iron. Rusted pipes led from the keg into the floor. Osric approached to investigate, finding a large metal bung fit into the top of the keg. Upon removing it, two mephits – one steam, one ice – that were trapped inside flew free and attacked the party. The group was victorious, though injured, and discovered a handful of small sapphires inside the keg. They moved on to find an empty room to the north, and then decided to search west.

Westward, they entered a large chamber. Crudely executed symbols and glyphs, scribed in bright green dye, decorated this irregularly shaped, crumbling chamber. A large pit in the center showed evidence of a recent fire. A metallic cage in the middle of the southern wall contained a gaping hole and stood empty. A small wooden bench draped with green cloth was next to the cage, and several small objects rested on it. A bedroll lay near the wooden bench, and the sound of whimpering came from inside it.

Inside the bedroll, Morthos discovered a weeping kobold. Speaking broken Common, the kobold said its name was Meepo and did not want to die. It babbled about being the Keeper of Dragons, about goblins, invasion, and a missing dragon name Calcryx. Meepo promised rewards if the group spoke with the kobold leader, Yusdrayl. The group agreed, Karyl swiped a small jade figurine from the small bench, and Meepo took them to meet with Yusdrayl.

Meepo led the group westward, around a few bends, and eventually into down a double row of relief-carved marble columns which marched the length of a long, large hall. The worn carvings depicted entwining dragons. Skulking among the columns they could see patrolling kobolds. Meepo led them past all of them and to the end of the columns, where a short throne stood near the west wall, constructed of fallen bits of masonry stacked against an old altar. On the top of the altar sat a variety of small items. The portion of the altar that served as the throne's back featured a carving of a rearing dragon. A metallic key was held firmly in the dragon's open jaws. Seated on the throne was a robed kobold, rings on her clawed hands. Meepo introduced the group to Yusdrayl.

Yusdrayl explains how the kobolds were heir to dragons. As the mightiest among her people, she led a brave few to this ancient holy site, where dragons were worshiped long ago. She also talked about how The Outcast lives below, and how he grows fruit which he gives to the goblins, and how the goblins were responsible for the theft of the kobold's pet dragon. Yusdrayl knew of the human adventurers, and how they went off to fight the goblins but never returned. The group agreed to investigate and return Calcryx to the kobolds in return for the key that decorates Yusdrayl's throne.

With that, Yusdrayl commanded Meepo to lead the group to the goblin's section of the ruins. After a long rest, the group struck out to investigate the goblin presence in the ruins, and to search for a kidnapped dragon.

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Session One
Oakhurst, and the Decent

The game starts with Hammer, Karyl, Morthos, and Osric arriving  in the village of Oakhurst, finding themselves in the Ol' Board Inn, where they were to meet with Karowyn Hucrele, matron of the Hucrele merchant family and grandmother to the missing adventurers, Talgen and Sharwyn Hucrele. She explains that they went on an outing with the paladin Sir Barford, and a local ranger to the Sunless Citadel about one month ago, and they haven't been seen from since. Karowyn wishes to see her grandchildren returned safely to Oakhurst, but seems more concerned about the gold signet rings they wear, which are Hucrele family heirlooms.

The group spends some time in Oakhurst, gathering some rumours and information about the area. Strange things are killing people and cattle if they venture too far from town in the evening, found dead the next morning with their bodies covered in multiple needle-like wounds. Goblins have been coming to the town once per year with a perfectly red apple which, when consumed, cures any ailments or diseases which the consumer has. The apple doesn't come cheap, though, and the goblins have never sold one for less than fifty gold pieces. Rumour has it that the goblins inhabit the nearby citadel, and people believe that whatever tree bears this fruit must be in those ruins somewhere.

Giant RatAfter purchasing some rations (and stealing a mirror), the group beds down for the night.

Day Two

The following morning, they struck out on the seven mile journey along The Old Road to the location of the Citadel ruins. Once there, they found a knotted rope, tied to a leaning pillar, descending down into a deep ravine. They descended in turns, with Hammer going first. Fifty feet below, he set foot on a wide ledge where he was set upon by three hungry giant rats. They were dispatched quickly, but not before Karyl fell unconscious after being brutally attacked. Fortunately, Osric called upon the power of his diety, Shaundakul, and healed Karyl's wounds.

Catching their breath, the group prepared to descend down a set of narrow, carved steps that led deeper down into the dark ravine.

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