We had 4 players on Tuesday, and a few people were meeting for the first time, which was fun. Dog the Fighter returned for his second game ever, Nyrad the Dwarf returned after a brief hiatus, Lesimorat the Elf returned after a long hiatus, and Troola the Specialist (with her specialties being languages and sneak attack, so far) made her debut in her first D&D game ever.
The crew started in The Sneaky Weasel, a seedy tavern in a rough mining neighborhood (Flyside, stole the name from China Mieville) in the city of Bittersedge. Dog made a little money betting on the local game of "Pin the Viper"- it's a really unsafe spectator sport. A random roll on the "where was _ last game" table (I haven't gotten around to making this table so I used the carousing table from Jeff's Gameblog) revealed that Nyrad the Dwarf, while on a drunken binge, called on an old dwarf god of ill-omen- and got an answer. Now he owes this dwarf demon big, and has been tasked with a quest to restore The Old Miner's reputation. He's supposed to go to this lonely mountain up in the northwestern section of the map and investigate...(Yup, I'm subtly setting up Hammers of the God)
There was a long conversation about what the group's course of action should be. Nyrad was all for questing for the greater glory of his newfound god. Dog, having developed a bit of a taste for magical devices last game (he has a magical tuning fork) was intrigued by the idea of exploring the old tombs up north called the Barrowmaze. Lesimorat was depressed and drowning his sorrows. My understanding is that he's had a hand in some things that he's not proud of. He won't say just what, but he and Fatima both kinda flinch whenever someone mentions the zombie horde sweeping the far north...(they played Death Frost Doom a few months ago)
Dog also had some unfinished business in Flyside. Last game he had accepted a whole bunch of money to put a miners' union organizer out of commission. He and Fatima investigated the mines, found that the strike had begun because of a monster in the mines, and killed the monster. He was thinking about trying to infiltrate the militia and generally support the union, but ended up deciding to come clean to the miners about how he had taken money from the militia rep, Xennor. They didn't take the news that he had been paid to kill or discredit a union leader very well, and his drinks were no longer on the house. After that, it was clear that it was time for the crew to leave the bar.
Eventually they came to a consensus, or pretty close. Lesimorat was difficult to move. I don't remember exactly how they got him into the wagon/taxi to go to the docks, but I do know that Troola seemed about to drug him at one point (she started the game with some kind of fantasy narcotic and no one knows what it does)...and there was talk of knocking him out and letting him wake up en route. Really, there was a lot of giving Lesimorat one more drink to get him to stop putting up a fight throughout the night.
They arrived at the docks with the idea of hiring a ship to take them somewhere near Barrowmaze. Eventually they talked a ship's captain into giving them a ride and going a little out of his way to drop them off. Troola has a background as a shipwright and totally schooled everyone with her nautical knowledge. There was a bit of a misadventure when it was discovered that all of Lesimorat's stuff had been left behind. Some of them wanted to pay a victorian street urchin to guide them across town to the bar so they could get the stuff, but Lesimorat wanted to get it himself. The urchin ran off with some money and lost Nyrad when he tried to chase him down. They ended up going into town with one of the sailors who was getting provisions- to the "Bittersedge Bowl", which I think is what the big market should be called.
The ship was a fast one, and got them to the coast near Wandesford, close to the Barrowmaze, in just two days. They decided not to go into Wandesford, which, word has it, has been taken over by an evil cult.
Instead, they walked through the scrubby, hilly countryside northwest toward the barrows. I think on the first day they found the body of a recently killed priest, an inquisitor from the Order of the Blinding Light. Dog stole his holy symbol, thinking that if they wound up in Wandesford, they could pretend that they killed the priest themselves. They also found a letter on the body that revealed the priest's suspicion that the head of their order, Lady Lamorna, is a vampire! The players took the news in stride and kept on walking.
On the first night, one of the people on watch reported seeing a huge number of shooting stars falling to the Northwest. (From this Dungeon Dozen post)
On the evening of their second day of traveling, the party began to see barrows- ancient, artificial mounds of earth, some with clear entrances. They decided to bed down for the night. At some point during one of the night watches, someone saw a yellow light coming towards them. Everyone woke up and got ready for a fight, but the light didn't try to approach. When they walked towards it, it bobbed away. They ended up following it until they reached an overgrown pathway, lined with small stone cairns, which lead a large, central barrow. A stone door lay broken in half on the ground in front of the entrance. They could smell decay from inside. Naturally, they walked right in.
Inside, they found a tripod sitting over a hole in the floor. A rope lead down into the darkness. Troola courageously went down first, without a torch. Everyone else followed soon afterwards. There was an archway in one of the walls that lead to a long hallway. They started exploring. Pretty quickly, they realized that this place is going to be really easy to get lost in (it does say "maze" right in the title). They kept track of their progress by making marks in the doors.
Highlights of this expedition included: finding a couple of bodies skewered by spears and pinned to the wall of one room (Dog looted the bodies), totally slaying a couple of giant rats when everyone shot them with arrows, and getting a bunch of clay pots throne at them by a poltergeist. After that last one, they left the dungeon for the time being and are camping in the countryside not far away.