Okay, so the group isn’t quite ready to move on from Basic D&D just yet….
After about a week or so in Speculariumopoliswhatzitzville, the party receives a summons to a court of inquiry regarding certain events that took place in the city during the prior week. The halfling decides to consult a lawyer, who advises him he should attend, as it’s only an inquiry. Besides, if the authorities had any strong evidence regarding certain actions the PCs may have, or may not have, taken then they’d already be in jail.
First, however, a step back. As you may recall, the PCs recovered an intelligent talking sword from some pirates on the Isle of Dread, which to this point had not actually talked. The halfling decided that a non-talking magical spear of returning would be more useful than a non-talking talking sword, and so made arrangements for a trade. At the meeting, the sword finally decided to speak up. The conversion went something like this:
Sword: “Don’t do it! As soon as you trade me, I’ll teleport back to the halfling. He’s going to rip you off!”
Sword: “As a lawful sword, I can no longer in good conscience stand by and watch as this reprobate steals from innocent people like you.”
Halfling: “I don’t know what it’s talking about.”
Sword: “He’s already done it five times. Don’t be a victim!”
The prospect consults with a mage he brought along (to verify the goods, so to speak) who says that he detected no ability for the sword to teleport anywhere, at which point the prospect laughs and says that this sword will make a fine addition to his collection of wall-mounted talking swords.
“NOOOOOO!” whines the sword. “Please don’t give me to this guy. He’s just gonna hang me on a wall. I wanna go on adventures and kill stuff! Pleaasssseeee take me with you,” it begs. The halfling thinks about it a few moments and then agrees to keep the sword, apologizing to the prospect. “You won’t regret this,” promises the sword. Hehehehe. 🙂
So, back to the court of inquiry. The party arrives at a dark, stuffy courtroom, with a stuffy judge sitting at a stuffy bench. On a sidebar sit three well-dressed, obviously wealthy men. The judge proceeds to interrogate the PCs about the prior weeks events, who in turn demur, obfuscate and generally ly their asses off, often eliciting chuckles from the sidebar. The sword even vouches for them: “You honor, since I’ve been with these guys they’ve hardly murdered anyone!” The court produces a signed statement from the harbor master, along with the gem the party ‘bribed’ him with, and a signed statement from the charmed thief. Things aren’t looking good for the party. Then the judge turns to the three men and asks them if the PCs are “suitable.”
Aha! It seems the court of inquiry was actually more of an interview, and the PCs are just the kind of clever, resourceful murder-hobos they need. The men represent powerful and monied interests in the city who recently had three magic items stolen from them by a legendary wizard named Keraptis. The items are Blackrazor, Whelm and Wave, powerful magic weapons. A cryptic letter bearing the seal of Keraptis was left behind at the scene of each crime. From this letter they’ve deduced that the three weapons must be held at White Plume Mountain, several days to the north and west of the city. As to what the rest of the letter means, they cannot say. Terms are negotiated, a legally binding contract is signed and the PCs are provided with 20 potions of their choice, a couple of protection scrolls as well as whatever mundane equipment they require, as a kind of down payment. A bag of holding is also loaned to them, which must be returned upon successful completion of the mission.
A few days later the party arrives at a village a few miles away from the mountain, which dominates the horizon beyond. Wasting no time, they immediately set off for the base of the mountain. After a few hours searching they find a cave entrance, going back about 40 feet into the mountain. Hidden beneath a layer of muck is a trap door, requiring considerable effort to open. Beneath the trap door is a metal spiral staircase descending approximately 100′ into the mountain.
At the bottom of the staircase they find a carved passageway, filled with about 1′ of water. Following the passageway they soon come upon a three-way fork, and a bedraggled gynosphinx sitting in the middle of the passage. “Answer my riddle and I’ll let you pass, blah, blah, blah,” it says. The PCs agree and immediately deduce the answer to the riddle is “Moon” (bah, when we were kids it took us forever to figure out that riddle). So on they go, not even bothering to killing the sphinx.
The take the left-most fork and within a few feet the halfling (always in the lead) disappears under the water. Acting quickly, the party throws him a rope and helps pull him out of the hidden water-pit. Using a rope and grapple they manage to figure out the pit is about 10′ across, and then create a rope bridge across the pit for the rest of the party to cross.
Not far beyond the pit they encounter another passage, 70′ long, lined with copper-colored metal plates. Experimenting with the plates, they determine that they are essentially giant magical microwaves that heat up metal. Those not in metal armor feel warm and tingly, but are not seriously burnt. Metal armor, however, becomes unbearably hot. Even rolling around in the water provides little relief. So, the party removes its armor and puts it into the bag of holding, comfortably passing through. On the other side, however, they are assaulted by four ghouls before they can don their armor. The ghouls emerge from a secret door and half the party is paralyzed before they can do anything. Wasting no time, the magic-user whips out a scroll of protection from undead, herding the ghouls back into the secret room. After recovering and donning their armor, the party enters the room and slaughters the ghouls with ranged weapons.
Past that they encounter another passage closed off by a door at each end. At the near and far end of the passage is a 5′ wide trench lined on the bottom with rusty razor-like blades. Between the two trenches the passageway is lined, top to bottom, with a perfectly frictionless silvery material. Attempts to use flying magic fail utterly in this passage. The party spent a lot of time discussing ways to get past this obstacle, to the point of dismantling the near door and using its heavy woodend planks to make skis! They finally settle on tying a rope around the thief and having him jump across the first trench. Then they’ll sort of “lower” him to the opposite end so that he’s barely hanging over the opposite trench, just enough to avoid the frictionless surface, but not enough to hit the blades at the bottom. Then the thief can climb out of the trench and tie off a rope for the others to cross. The elf stands by with a 10′ pole to keep the thief from rebounding back into the near trench. After much slingshotting, rebounding and vomiting, they manage to get the thief across.
Moving on, they come to a T intersection and again take the left-most passage. It ends in a massive room shaped like an inverted ziggurat, something mentioned in the cryptic letter! Each step of the ziggurat is contained by a glass wall. The first step holds water and giant crayfish; the next is sand and holds giant scorpions; the third is again water, holding sea lions; and the bottom is home to three wing-clipped manticores, who immediately begin firing their tail-spikes at the PCs. The PCs exchange missile-fire with the manticores, eventually slaying them, due in large part to the amazing tankiness of the halfling. Thereafter, the halfling, still under the effects of a potion of flying (from the previous room), flies over and breaks the glass on the first step, flooding the second with water and washing the crayfish down. The crayfish and scorpions start duking it out. He then breaks the glass on the third level, flooding and bottom with water and washing the sea lions down.
And that’s where we ended. I was a little worried that the players might get frustrated with WPM’s ‘fun-house’ style obstacles and traps, but so far they’ve done an excellent job negotiating them. They seem a lot more engaged with WPM’s dungeon crawling than they were with the hex-crawling of Isle of Dread, something to keep in mind for the future.
P.S.: You can download a copy of White Plume Mountain from WotC, here.