The Architects of Betrayal (TAB) 38: The Corrupting Influence of Gnomes
Updated: Jul 20
(door creaks open) Good evening. Or morning, or afternoon . . . or tea time. Good whenever your reading this. As you may recall we last left our heroes entering a condemned building in search of a forbidding winding staircase that would lead them into the depths of Faerun, into the bowels of . . . THE UNDERDARK
Suffice it to say, staring into that tunnel would be nightmare forming for me. But I guess that's why I'm a DM and the PC's are the characters of this story. They didn't just dive into the deepest hole in the ground the could find. They did it with style.
Not at the beginning of course. At the beginning it was just trudging down flight after flight after flight of stairs for close to a mile. But, it was inevitable that one of them would get tired of all that drudgery. I didn't expect it to be Zornesk though. In fact, if I had to pick a character least likely to tilt I would have chosen the Paladin hands down.
But after the aforementioned distance, the Kobold set his shield on the stairs, mounted it, and proceeded to surf down the spiral staircase. He even rolled a 22 Acrobatics, which I figured was sufficiently impressive for this sufficiently impressive feat. He left Quagrim wracking his brains on how to keep up. Until that is, the gnome cast fly, oriented himself to use the wall as a floor, and started running. Sort of an elevator version of this. I swear those two are spending too much time together. Redeeming Quagrim was one thing. That's what paladins do. But this is getting ridiculous. Any more shenaniganry and those two will start looking alike. Zornesk made it down about 300 feet before the racket his antics had caused alerted one of the denizens of this deep realm; a Lurker Above. That was below.
Yes, I know it makes no sense. I didn't name it!
Fine! The point is that this necessitated another acrobatics check.
Don't worry the paladin stuck it. No, I mean he literally stuck his shield into the poor Lurker who'd decided to investigate all that hullabaloo. I figured he was moving quite quickly at that point and added a few damage die to his roll.
What; the kobold? He tumbled to the ground. He's only a paladin after all. Sometimes I think you guys demand too much of the PCs. . .
Anyways, hearing the clamor come to a sudden stop, the rest of the group double timed it, probably expecting the worst; you know, a wrecked kobold, a broken bone, something like that.
Imagine their surprise when they rounded the last bend to see the Kobold had retrieved his shield and was currently ramming it into a poor defenseless Lurker. As they watched the Lurker managed to catch the shield and chuck it down the remaining flights of stairs. It was not a good idea.
Apparently, nobody takes Zornesk's shield from him, even if he is in the process of beating them to death with it. NOBODY! Because he then whipped out his warhammer and beat the thing to death with a string of crits that just isn't funny. (Seriously, is a DM supposed to constantly feel sorry for the NPCs in his campaign?)
Afterwards the group descended the last few stairs. Zornesk retrieved his shield and Golbat repaired it magically. They then exited the stairwell onto an ancient dwarven railway station. Thibbledorf perked up at this, telling them tales of magic steam engines the dwarves were said to have made that required no fuel of any kind.
He was probably a minute into his half hour dissertation on the subject when Quagrim dove into the station like a millionaire into his own money. He even managed to turn up a few parts that were repairable with Make Whole. These of course were stashed for later. I doubt the idea of leaving them behind even crossed his mind, even if one of them was a tank as big as his bunny henchman.
Then there were the quintet of Skaveling they ran into. Golbat thought it would be funny to put Named Bullet, Greater on one of Quagrim's cartridges. The poor undead flying rat thing exploded from one shot. And that's after I'd maxed their hp! I'm certain that if they hadn't been mindless undead the others would have fled like cockroaches from an unearthed rock. But, despite this, they charged on, which didn't help the paladin at all. Despite the fact that this is exactly the type of foe paladins seem to leap at killing they all died out of his reach.
In fact, now that I think about it he hasn't had a chance to hit a single undead since they entered the tunnels. There have been many.
He did find a camp of Kobolds though. Of course they were evil kobolds. The group even tried to play nice by disguising themselves (through various means) as kobolds and attempting to trade. The camp didn't buy it, instead breathing lightning on them all. But once Minerva slaughtered the leader in two hits the others decided to be elsewhere. And the group left the rest of the village alone. Yeah that's gonna cost Zornesk later :)