Here is the third and final part of my campaign using the campaign rules in Four Against the Abyss, the advanced supplement for Four Against Darkness. I also used the random tables from the Fiendish Foes supplement. This time I made use of Clues which makes for a more interesting game.
Queen Arla of Osnor is hiring adventurers to recover the three pieces of the Wand of Imonora. This ancient artefact must be restored to save her realm from Gathorim, the dreaded entity who has returned from the netherworld through a fracture in the cosmos to create chaos and pestilence. Having already found one part of the wand, Closovae the sorceress and her companions attempted to recover another section from a dungeon deep within the Krolost Mountains. The expedition was unsuccessful; they failed to find a section of the wand and every member of the party except Closovae was killed. Closovae discovered the secret lair of a lich in the dungeon. Recognising that she was too weak to face the lich alone, she returned to the city of Dorenin to find more adventurers to accompany her on another expedition into the dungeon.
Two adventurers from the Krolost Mountains arrive in Dorenin to join the quest; an elf named Tathalron and a barbarian woman named Brifnen, a kinswoman of Grolsond who was killed during the previous adventure. A rogue from the slums of Dorenin named Vorben also joins the party.
As in the first adventure the new adventurers begin as fifth level characters with 100 gold pieces each and, with the exception of Brifnen, one random magic item.
Closovae hires a warrior named Harsturn to be her bodyguard, and buys him a glaive and a chain hauberk. She also hires a surgeon, a woman named Doroslin. Brifnen has her sword sharpened by a bladesmith, Closovae hires a herbalist to prepare remedies for her, and Vorben goes to an apocathery to have his short sword coated with poison.
When playing the previous two sessions I didn’t read the rule for hiring professionals (hirelings who don’t go on an adventure); only three professionals may be hired by the party before an adventure. Even so, all but one of the party died in the previous adventure.
The party return to the dungeon in the Krolost Mountains. Closovae tells the others about finding the secret lair of a lich at the end of her previous expedition into the dungeon. She considers it likely that the lich possesses another section of the Wand of Imonora.
21: Secret lich lair
Closovae leads the others to the secret door in the corridor that gives entry to the lair of the lich. The party enter the chamber. The sight of the skeletal lich fills them with dread but they attack nonetheless.
All members of the party gain 1 Madness point. In addition, all members of the party fail to save versus level 6 fear and have -1 to their Attack rolls until the lich has been wounded twice.
Closovae casts the Protect spell onto Tathalron. Swinging her sword at the lich in a battle frenzy, Brifnen succeeds in wounding it. Vorben and Harsturn also wound it. Brifnen does the most damage to the lich and deals the final blow that destroys it, but not before the two retainers – Doroslin and Harsturn – have been killed and all of the adventurers have been wounded. The adventurers bandage their wounds.
Closovae gains a level and is now a level seven sorceress. She gains 1 life.
The table in the chamber was knocked over during the fighting, and the vials that were resting on it were broken. The adventurers search the lair, ignoring the tomes of necromancy and evil sorcery. They find a lantern and a chest containing five gold pieces and another section of the Wand of Imonora! They leave the dungeon and bury the two dead retainers outside, keeping their gold to give to their relatives.
They do not return to Dorenin. Instead they travel to Tathalron’s beautiful village of Enfenir which is situated in a secluded valley of pines high in the Krolost Mountains. Here they spend the night and celebrate the finding of another section of the wand with the mountain elves.
Closovae replenishes the spell Protect. All of the adventurers regain their initial Life points.
The next day they set out over the mountains. Pine forest and alpine meadow gives way to expanses of rock between snowy peaks. After several days of travel they reach the other side of the Krolost Mountains and descend into the Dreaded Wastes.
The Dreaded Wastes
The Krolost Mountains separate this wasteland of chaos from the kingdom of Osnor. The Dreaded Wastes were once a fertile land of many small kingdoms, but the earth here was blighted and corrupted by Gathorim. Trees have turned to stone, or are many times their normal size but devoid of leaves. Expanses of bare rock alternate with swathes of luxuriant vegetation. Huge boulders float in the air, knocking gently against each other.
Beyond ruined walls the adventurers come to the base of a cliff where the rock has been warped into pareidolic images such as a huge demonic face and the image of a demon standing over a dead warrior. Here they find a cave, the entrance to the third dungeon where they hope to find the third section of the Wand of Imonora. The party form their marching order; Vorben (who carries the lantern that was found in the lair of the lich) and Tathalron are at the front, and Brifnen and Closovae (who carries her own lantern) are at the rear.
The cave narrows and terminates in three corridor entrances where the rock has been replaced by masonry. The adventurers take the middle tunnel.
2: Giant toads
The corridor ends at a door of moldy wood. Going through the adventurers find themselves in a damp chamber where there are seven giant toads, each one the size of a large dog and with warty hides the same grey colour as the flagstone floor of the chamber. Fortunately the toads are peaceful and allow the adventurers to cross the chamber to the alcove in the north wall, where they go through another door.
3: Chaotic ratmen
In the next chamber there are eleven chaotic ratmen armed with swords. Their leader draws his sword and challenges Brifnen to a trial by combat. She accepts the challenge.
The ratman leader is level 9 and has 8 life. He attacks first. The trial will last for four turns.
Brifnen and the ratman leader wound each other twice before the trial comes to an end. The ratman leader begrudgingly allows the adventurers to pass through the chamber.
The rules for the Trial of Champions don’t explain what to do if the combatants have dealt each other an equal number of wounds by the end of the trial. I decided that Brifnen had won as she had 9 life remaining while the ratman leader only had 6 life remaining.
4: Chamber of skulls
In the next chamber there are no other exits. There are dozens of niches around the walls, filled with human skulls. Five of the skulls float out of their niches and hang in the air. The adventurers wait to see what they will do and they attack! Two skulls attack Tathalron.
The adventurers destroy all of the skulls. Closovae casts Healing Surge, partially healing Brifnen and Tathalron who were wounded by the skulls. She drinks her Potion of Healing to heal her own wounds. In one of the empty niches she finds an amber gemstone.
The gemstone is worth 160 gold pieces.
The adventurers return to the lair of the ratmen (3) and take the door in the south wall.
5: Concealed trapdoor
The next chamber is empty except for piles of rubble about the floor.
Vorben succeeds in detecting the pit trap.
Vorben, who is at the front of the party alongside Tathalron, succeeds in detecting a trapdoor in the middle of the floor which is lightly covered with rubble. Skirting the trapdoor the party find that the corridor beyond leads back to the dungeon entrance. They return to the chamber and take the door in the west wall.
6: Empty corridor
Beyond the door a corridor winds away into darkness. The adventurers search the corridor.
Closovae gains a Clue.
Closovae finds some cryptic notes about the dungeon carved into the wall. She makes a mental note of them.
In the next corridor the adventurers encounter five strange beasts that look like small two-legged dragons with the heads of cockerels and serpentine tails. The cockatrices run down the corridor towards them and the adventurers attack. Brifnen kills one cockatrice and Closovae casts Sleep, putting the remaining four to sleep. At the end of the corridor is the stone statue of an adventurer in chain mail who was turned to stone by a cockatrice. Next to the statue a sack lies on the floor with gold pieces spilling out of it. The adventurers share out the 110 gold pieces, with Brifnen and Closovae each getting an extra coin.
8: Puzzle box
In this empty chamber a puzzle box lies on the floor. Closovae tries to solve it.
The puzzle box is level 8.
Closovae succeeds in solving the puzzle and the box opens. Inside is a hauberk of gleaming chain mail which is obviously magical. Brifnen will not wear it but Tathalron puts it on, finding that it shrinks magically to fit him perfectly. The adventurers leave the chamber by the door in the south wall.
In this chamber the adventurers encounter a strange humanoid being with pale, hairless skin and bulging yellow eyes. The doppelganger laughs and takes the form of Vorben. The adventurers attack, but find themselves confused as to who is the real Vorben. However, they succeed in killing the doppelganger without any of them sustaining a wound. Vorben finds a black spinel gemstone in the doppelganger’s belt pouch.
The gemstone is worth 240 gold pieces.
10: Chained ghoul king
In this chamber a ghoul is chained to the north wall. The ghoul is dressed in robes that were once fine but have been reduced to rags by years of an undead existence. The ghoul king raises his claws towards the adventurers, imploring them to free him. He indicates a large iron key hanging on the opposite wall. The adventurers decide to release him and he gives them 15 gold pieces. He beckons to Closovae and whispers something in her ear.
Closovae gains a Clue.
The ghoul king leaves the chamber by the corridor that leads to the chamber where they encountered the doppelganger. The adventurers leave the chamber by the door in the east wall.
The walls of this round chamber are lined with bookshelves made from some dark brown wood that has somehow not decayed. The bookshelves are lined with huge tomes. In the centre of the chamber there is a circle of reading stands and chairs made from the same wood, which is apparently magical. In the centre of the domed ceiling is set a huge crystal that illuminates the chamber with a golden glow. The library is a strangely welcoming sight in the dungeon.
Closovae takes a tome from a shelf and starts to read. The book is written in an ancient magical script that only she can read. The tome is a journal which tells of the history of this place, but the author does not give his or her name. Apparently the dungeon was once part of a school of wizardry called the Academy of Krolius. The surrounding lands were once the kingdom of Ensarn, one of the many small kingdoms that once existed in the region that is now the Dreaded Wastes. The author of the journal tells of how cultists of Gathorim have infiltrated the Academy, and have taken control by force. They have sacrificed students to Gathorim and left their skulls in niches in their shrine. Closovae remembers the chamber where they destroyed the flying skulls. The journal comes to an abrupt end.
Closovae gains a Clue.
After Closovae has finished reading the adventurers decide to rest in the chamber. Vorben nails the door shut.
Brifnen and Tathalron each regain 1 life. Closovae replenishes the spell Healing Surge.
After resting the adventurers return to the chamber where they freed the ghoul king (10). As they are making their way across the chamber they are attacked by seven gnolls who have been lurking in the shadows. The hyena-headed gnolls are armed with halberds and battle axes and attack Brifnen and Closovae at the rear of the party. Both Brifnen and Closovae are wounded, but then Brifnen kills one gnoll, Closovae kills four with a Fireball, and Tathalron kills the remaining two.
Returning to the chamber where they found the puzzle box, the adventurers head to the door in the alcove in the west wall. But once again Brifnen and Closovae at the rear are attacked by wandering monsters, this time 11 slavering ghouls coming from the corridor where they encountered the cockatrices (7). Brifnen is wounded and paralysed by the ghouls. Closovae casts Escape, returning to the dungeon entrance. Tathalron cannot cast Blessing to cure Brifnen as he is wearing the enchanted chain hauberk. He and Vorben attack the ghouls with their swords.
Tathalron and Vorben destroy three ghouls but then Tathalron is paralysed. Vorben uses his Ring of Teleportation to escape to the corridor of the cockatrices (7). He rejoins Closovae at the dungeon entrance. Brifnen and Tathalron are devoured by the ghouls.
Vorben’s ring is now an ordinary ring worth six gold pieces.
Closovae fails to gain a level.
Closovae and Vorben take the corridor on the right.
12: Chamber of anti-magic glyphs
The corridor ends in a chamber where glyphs have been carved into the stonework of the walls. Closovae investigates these, but realises that they are anti-magic glyphs that drain the power of her spells. She loses the spell Healing Surge, but not Blessing or Lightning Bolt. She remembers the book that she read in the library; no doubt the cultists made these glyphs to deprive the wizards of the Academy of Krolius of their power. The adventurers leave the chamber by the door in the alcove in the north wall.
In the next chamber there are seven gnolls. Closovae and Vorben wait to see what they will do and they attack. The adventurers flee from the chamber. Four gnolls attack Vorben and three attack Closovae. The adventurers return to the chamber of the glyphs and slam the door to the gnolls’ lair. Vorben is unscathed but Closovae has been wounded.
14: Empty corridor
The adventurers search this empty corridor.
Closovae gains a Clue.
Closovae finds some more notes about the dungeon inscribed in the stone. She puts together what she learned from the notes in the previous empty corridor (6), from the ghoul king and from the book in the library. She feels that they are coming closer to their goal of finding the last section of the Wand of Imonora.
15: Ant people warriors
In this corridor the adventurers encounter six ant people warriors bearing spears. An ant person has the torso, head and arms of a hairless human attached to the abdomen of an ant. The ant people scuttle towards Closovae and Vorben on their six legs, and demand a bribe of 10 gold pieces each. The adventurers are happy to hand over some of their gold. They take the door in the west wall of the corridor.
16: Empty chamber
I get the result of Abyss Minions so I spend Closovae’s four clues to reroll the chamber contents, but just get the result of empty.
This chamber is empty, the only features being water dripping from the ceiling, and a faded fresco on the west wall depicting a magical duel between two wizards. Closovae is surprised as all the information that she has collected suggests that this chamber is where the last section of the Wand of Imonora is to be found. The adventurers decide to search the chamber. In the north wall Vorben finds a secret door. He spies out the chamber beyond the door.
17: Major vampire lair
Beyond the door is a dark alcove, which opens into a chamber where a magnificent sarcophagus of white marble lies on a stone dais. A vampire wearing tattered robes is sitting on the dais, drinking the blood of a dying gnoll. Vorben tells Closovae what he has seen. Closovae would be able to wound the vampire once using her Lightning Bolt spell, but that would not be enough to destroy him.
15: Ant people warriors
The adventurers return to this corridor. The ant people demand another bribe of 10 gold pieces each, which they pay before going through the door in the east wall.
In this chamber a huge troll with putrid grey skin is resting by the north wall, picking over the remains of a gnoll he has killed and eaten. Among his treasure Closovae sees the last section of the Wand of Imonora! She casts a Lightning Bolt at the troll. In the ensuing combat the troll keeps regenerating and Closovae is badly wounded. The adventurers flee from the chamber.
15: Ant people warriors
They bribe the ant people again.
They return to the dungeon entrance without encountering any dungeon inhabitants. Closovae says that they must return to Tathalron’s village of Enfenir; they will tell the elves that Tathalron was killed by ghouls and his people will surely send their best warriors to help them kill the troll and retrieve the last section of the Wand of Imonora.
Leaving the dungeon Closovae and Vorben return through the Dreaded Wastes to the Krolost Mountains and Enfenir. Closovae gives an account of their adventure to the elves, who are saddened to hear of Tathalron’s death. Othorion and Taenora, the two greatest warriors in the village, will return with Closovae and Vorben to the dungeon to retrieve the last section of the Wand of Imonora and the remains of Tathalron and Brifnen. Othorion has a Fireball Staff which he will use to fight the troll, and Taenora has a Potion of Healing. The healers of the village tend to Closovae’s wounds and she and Vorben spend the night in the village.
Othorion and Taenora are fifth level elves. Closovae replenishes all of her spells.
The next day the new party leave Enfenir. After several days of travel they return to the Dreaded Wastes and the dungeon.
Returning to the dungeon entrance the party form their marching order. Closovae and Vorben are the front, and Othorion and Taenora are at the rear.
The party take the corridor on the right that leads back to the troll’s lair. Seven giant toads follow them down the corridor and attack Othorion and Taenora at the rear. Each elf kills one toad but both are wounded before Othorion casts Sleep, putting the remaining five toads to sleep. Othorion applies a bandage to one wound and Taenora drinks her Potion of Healing.
15: Ant people warriors
Once again the six ant people lurking in this corridor demand a bribe of 10 gold pieces each. Each adventurer hands over 15 gold pieces.
Entering the troll’s lair, the adventurers attack him for the last section of the Wand of Imonora in his treasure. Othorion and Taenora wear the troll down with Fireballs so that he cannot regenerate. Both of the elves are badly wounded before Closovae deals the troll a fatal wound with her short sword.
Closovae fails to gain a level.
The Wand of Imonora
Closovae casts Healing Surge, partially healing Othorion and Taenora. Among the bones of the troll’s victims are his treasure; 20 gold pieces, a black onyx gemstone with bands of white, a silver armlet jewelled with blue spinel gemstones, and the last section of the Wand of Imonora. The adventurers share out the gold pieces. Othorion takes the black onyx gemstone and Taenora takes the armlet.
The gemstone is worth 160 gold pieces. The armlet is worth 210 gold pieces.
Closovae picks up the last section of the Wand of Imonora and joins it with other two pieces. The wand magically fuses together and she reads the ancient magical glyphs inscribed on it.
The glyphs glow brightly and a tremendous roaring sound fills the chamber. For a split second Gathorim appears before the adventurers and they recoil in horror; the entity is a floating mass of yellow slime covered with vaguely human faces. Gathorim vanishes and has been banished back into the netherworld again. Osnor has been saved!
All of the adventurers gain 2 Madness points except Vorben, who gains 1 Madness point.
The adventurers now need to return to Dorenin so that the Wand of Imonora can be secured in the palace vault and they can receive their reward of 200 gold pieces each from Queen Arla. But first they will rest in this chamber before going to retrieve the remains of Tathalron and Brifnen from the chamber where they were killed by the ghouls (8). Vorben nails the door to the troll’s lair shut.
Othorion and Taenora each regain 1 life. Closovae replenishes the spell Healing Surge. Othorion replenishes the spell Sleep. Taenora replenishes the spell Lightning Bolt.
After they have rested they discuss their plans to retrieve the remains of the dead adventurers. They all agree that if ever Closovae is in great danger, she should cast Escape and return to the dungeon entrance with the Wand of Imonora. They leave the chamber and return to the corridor outside.
15: Ant people warriors
For the fifth time the ant people ask for a bribe of 10 gold pieces each! Emboldened by their victory over Gathorim, the adventurers refuse to pay any more bribes. Closovae casts Sleep, sending all of them to sleep. The adventurers retrieve the 240 gold pieces that have been paid in bribes, with each adventurer receiving 60 gold pieces.
14: Minor vampire
When the adventurers return to this corridor a minor vampire sneaks up on them, attacking Othorion at the rear of the party. Othorion, Taenora and Closovae destroy the vampire with Fireballs and Lightning Bolts.
8: Chaos fanatics and Dark Lord of Xichtul
They return to this chamber in which there is no sign of the remains of Tathalron and Brifnen. A Dark Lord of Xichtul, a humanoid abomination 10 feet tall armed with a huge cleaver and having a head bearing writhing tentacles, enters the chamber from the corridor (7). He is accompanied by eight chaos fanatics in spiked armour and armed with swords and morning stars. The Dark Lord attacks Othorion and Taenora at the rear of the party. Both elves succeed in wounding the Dark Lord and Closovae casts Protect onto Vorben. Soon every adventurer has been badly wounded. Closovae, Othorion and Taenora cast Escape, returning to the dungeon entrance. Vorben attempts to flee from the chamber but is killed by the Dark Lord.
The surviving adventurers agree that it was foolish to try to retrieve the remains of Tathalron and Brifnen. At least they have the Wand of Imonora and Osnor is now free from the blight of Gathorim. They return to Enfenir and then travel on to Dorenin. The Wand of Imonora is secured in the vault of Queen Arla’s palace, and the grateful queen gives Closovae, Othorion and Taenora 200 gold pieces each as reward for saving her realm from the abomination from the netherworld.