Now the debate at this point was to decide whether the party should go back into the dungeon or else head to Adamas to try to sell some magic dwarf armor that we’d been arguing about practically since we found it. I knew that a potion of healing was worth either 500 or 1000 gold depending and figured that magic chain mail in a size that fit nobody would be worth about the same, but without having looked it up I wasn’t sure. The exact value of it was a known unknown at this point, but not one that really concerned anyone too much. At any rate, I was not quite clear on how to handle the wilderness travel to get there and back and was fairly sure that if the players went there that the game would be stopped for far more bookkeeping than would be fun.
One of the players rescued me with the suggestion that they buy up all of the waterskins with in Muntberg, head to Dwimmermount, make a beeline to the pool of Azoth that they’d found previously, fill them all up… and then head to Adamas to make a killing selling the stuff. This was agreeable to everyone and so preparations were conducted with all haste. Looking up the rules for Class V markets, it appeared that there would be 30 waterskins available. This was cool.
Now, during all the commotion, Bogdar’s player was feverishly rolling up a new character. He decided to be a bit of a nonconformist again and chose to go with the Priestess class that no one else wanted to mess with. Jaina Yolo’s character was looking for ways to blow some gold that would make sense in Muntberg, so she ended up declaring that 500 gold was spent making nice with the Priestesses of Caint in order to justify the fact that they’d be willing to send one of their own into the dungeons with this gang of miscreants. Somewhere in these discussions, it was realized that this character’s name absolutely had to be “Jisme.” This was considered to be quite entertaining to everyone involved.
There were some other discussions that required either rules lookups or handwaving or awkward rulings. Players did not want to walk around with masses of gold on them, but there was nothing to buy with it in Muntberg that they could use. They did not want to “bank” XP their either due to roleplaying purposes, but instead wanted to have a safe place to keep their stuff between delves. I think I ruled something like that they didn’t have to worry abut this– at least until The Artful Dodger decided to set up a thieves guild in town. Anyway, everyone was soon heading back to the dungeon.
So the players headed back into the dungeon and I dutifully checked for wandering monsters as they made their way to the pool of Azoth. After they passed the map room, I informed them that they saw many eyes reflect their torchlight behind them. Based on the sounds I made, the party was sure it had to be kobalds. They continued on into the caves area and made their way to the pool. The players were very careful to one at a time fill their waterskins. They had an elaborate arrangement watching each entrance to the area. They said their were listening very carefully for any kind of approaching monsters. I told them they could hear some dripping sounds, but they blew that off as being just scenery for the caves area.
After a couple of people had filled their waterskins, I informed the players that the attack dog was distressed. He was snarling and looking around as if something was wrong. The party readied themselves for the attack and asked many questions. I reiterated that they were hearing dripping sounds. They asked about the dog– which direction was the danger? I said the dog was confused. It’s looking one way and then another. It’s bewildered. At this point the players started joking about just how wrong this could go, but they were dead set on filling all of their water skins. We started adlibbing scenes from Aliens– especially the one where they looked up in the crawl-way above the ceiling to see the monsters coming for them.
I knew at this point what was coming, but I wasn’t sure the best way to play it out. The players continued filling their waterskins and Yigg’s player started mimicking the Dwarf that had been kind of a big wheel in this area previously. The players were sure that it was kobold’s that were coming for them, so loudly did her impression of their Dwarf leader in the hopes that it would defuse the situation. “S’alright!” she called. I’d roll some dice. The dripping sounds would continue. The dog was still distressed and snarling. “S’alright!” she called again.
Now… I thought this action on her part was suicidal and I was just on the verge of singling out her character for divine payback, but it just didn’t feel right. The party was filling their fourth set of wineskins with Azoth and I decided it was time. I picked up a d10 and rolled a three. The players had set up their miniatures in order to reflect their positioning near the pool. I started counting left to right until I got to the one the dice had decided to punish. It turned out to be Priestess Jisme. “Something from the ceiling has dropped down upon Princess Jisme,” I announced. “In the flickering torchlight it appears that she has been completely enveloped by some kind of slimy substance.” I described the fact that they could make out from her expression and her body language that she was in an unthinkable amount of agony, but the sound of her screams would not pass thought the slimy substance that covered her face.
The players went into shock temporarily. I wasn’t sure how I would handle whatever insane thing they would try to rescue their comrade. They tend to surprise me quite a bit…. They stood there and did nothing, though. I rolled some dice to figure just exactly what was happening. A couple of them muttered, “we didn’t look up. Why didn’t we think to look up?!” Jisme’s players declared that she was throwing herself into the pool of Azoth and casting Purify Food & Water. I thought about this for a second, but then informed him that such an action was not enough to save the player character. On the following combat round I announced that the players could see her body melt and gradually lose any semblance of humanoid shape. There were now two slime creatures in the pool of Azoth!
The players opted to run. They stayed altogether, but they were done. I reminded them that they had 16 waterskins full of Azoth– which they were sure was worth gazillions of gold pieces– and they were off. There was a huge number of giant rats in the Map Room waiting for them as they attempted to exit the dungeon. The battle was relatively short and the beautiful and ancient artwork was nearly destroyed by flames and soot from the military oil they threw. A couple of player characters were bitten and had to check for disease, but I don’t think any of them were dropped.
The players then headed straight for Adamas because they did not want to have to give any awkward explanations to the Priestesses of Caint that were in Muntberg. Oleant started making some more Loremastery rolls when he began asking about the nature and value of the Azoth. It turned out is was not worth that much in gold pieces. (And there was much debate about the size of vials and waterskins as given in the ACKS rules– the players were not buying the descriptions!) On the other hand, a vial of Azoth could be converted into awesome Greek Fire– it was like military oil that burned for double damage for each of five combat rounds on a direct hit. (I ruled later that it did double splash damage for two combat rounds as well.) The players opted to keep the stuff rather sell it for next to nothing.
The disappointment with the value of the Azoth was more than offset, however, by the value of the magic dwarven chainmail. I looked this up in the ACKS rules to be sure and it seemed to indicate that it was worth 5000 gold pieces. The players asked how much it cost to identify other magic items that they had and I could not find the rule for that. “Identify” is a first level spell in AD&D, but it did not appear in any of the ACKS spell lists as far as I could see. As far as I could tell on the spot, it was the intent of the rules that player mages set up worshops and start trying to make magical research rolls to handle this sort of thing. No one wanted to do anything like that, though. Finally after arguing about it for a while I decided to just hand wave this stuff. I informed the players that the silver broach they had found in sortie 9 would cause anyone that wore it to lose their faith in the gods. (Some of my ad-libbed discussions about Raph’s religious beliefs suddenly stopped looking like the joke that they were before.) The black hobgoblin knife was cursed– it would remain in your hand if you tried to wield it until a remove curse was cast and the goblin head would scream whenever enemies were near.
The players talked about selling these cursed magic items and the Thulian chain mail that the cleric was wearing. I informed them that there wasn’t much point in that as they already had plenty of XP from this for them to level up– and there was a ceiling on how much they could go up in a single delve. I tallied up the XP and determined that everyone except Oleant would go up a level. The Artful Dodger was going to level three. Everyone rolled their new hit points. A couple people got one’s but Jaina Yolo got a natural eight! Raph spent a weak adding Charm Person to her repertoire. People felt sorry for Jisme’s player, so a lot of people gave him gold so that Oleant could bank a bunch of XP with it. He declared that it was all being spent on an absurdly goofy custom plaque that he was going to haul back to the dungeon. Jaina Yolo spent a thousand gold uselessly asking for sage help in determining how she could bring her father Han Yolo in from the Isle of Dread campaign, which also counted as “banked” XP. Angus banked 1600 XP by blowing all of his spare gold on prostitutes.
With this epic bookkeeping phase completed, I hand-waved the journey back to Dwimmermount and they were all ready to go for yet another delve. It took about two weeks game time to handle everything involved with this particular sortie.