PART 4: INTO
THE MOATHOUSE (Flocktime 578 CY)
Foray into the Moathouse
(Flocktime 7th – 8th)
inebriated yet strangely competent Elmo leads the intrepid adventurers —
Erik (the mountain dwarf fighter from the Lortmils), Althaea (the
high elf wizard from the city of Tringlee), and the brothers Godric (the
human rogue from the Barony of Shiboleth) and Cedric (the human
cleric of St. Cuthbert) — from the village of Hommlet to the ruined moathouse.
The journey takes several hours along the “High Road” before branching off on a
rough trail to the ruins. After setting up camp about 300 yards from the
moathouse (on a small hill that overlooks the trail), the adventurers decide to
explore the place a bit before sundown. Elmo remains at the camp to guard the
approaches the rotting drawbridge into the fort. As they do so, from the fetid
marshy water of the moat leap six giant frogs. The amphibious horrors attack
the party. One frog’s tongue attaches itself to Althaea before the mage blasts
it with some magic missiles. Cedric destroys another frog with a guiding bolt.
Erik is hit with another frog’s tongue, but he immediately smashes the sticky
appendage with his warhammer. Althaea hits two more frogs with her magic
missiles, killing one. The surviving two frogs flee in terror. Althaea casts
“alarm” on the drawbridge. Slightly battered from the encounter, the party
returns to their campsite to rest for the night.
The party breaks
camp early the next morning (the 8th day of Flocktime). They
approach the moathouse with caution. Althaea casts “invisibility” on Godric.
The rogue then proceeds ahead of his companions and investigates the grounds of
the ruined fort. Entering the old great hall, Godric discovers a number of
crossbowmen waiting in ambush in the hallways off of the chamber. He
communicates this information to Althaea in response to the wizard’s “message”
cantrip. The elf then informs Cedric and Erik.
cautiously so as not to alert the bandits that they are aware of them, the
party waits for Godric to strike first and distract their enemies. The rogue
casts “colour spray” on a few, blinding them. Cendric then enters the fray,
casting guiding bolt; Althaea follows, and uses up her magic missiles. However,
there are more bandits than the party anticipated, as a handful are hidden
behind arrowslits that look upon the entrance to the great hall. Erik blocks an
arrowslit with hit shield and relies on his trusty Warhammer to smash other opponents.
After an exhausting battle, all the bandits lie dead save two: a scruffy fellow
named “Vick” who surrenders to the party begging piteously for his life,
and the leader of the band who disappeared behind a reinforced door.
interrogates Vick. They learn from him that the bandit leader’s name is “Rex”
and that the bandits have a secret exit from the moathouse in the back chamber.
Vick also reveals that the leader of the moathouse is a mysterious “Master”
who dwells in the tunnels beneath the fort, with his bodyguards and forces of
gnolls and bugbears. Vick also mentions some creatures in the upper ruins that
the bandits avoid: a giant insect, a massive spider, and a large lizard. The
party also learns that Vick is originally from Safeton and is not
especially loyal to his fellow brigands.
The party then discovers
a stairway off the great hall that delves into the underground. Althaea casts
“alarm” on it. Leaving the fort and circling around to the northeast, Vick
shows the party the bandits’ secret exit from their safehouse. Althaea casts
another “alarm” spell on the exit.
The party then
returns to their campsite. They find Elmo sipping some gnomish whiskey. The
party ties up Vick and leaves him in the care of Elmo. Althaea casts (yet
another) “alarm” spell, this time on the rotting drawbridge. The party then
proceeds to the secret exit where they rest for an hour.
“invisibility” on Godric. The rogue then enters the fort via the secret exit.
Inside the bandits’ lair, despite the powerful stench of unwashed men, Godric
sees no sign of Rex or anyone else. However, he does spot a chest under some
rubble. The rest of the party joins Godric. Althaea spies a secret door. Erik
clears away the rubble around the door, while Cedric and Godric begin to clear
off the debris over the chest. The secret door is opened, revealing hidden
stairway going down. Still invisible, Godric descends and finds himself in a
small, clear chamber with secret doors on the eastern and western walls. The
rogue returns to the bandit hideout and reports his finding. Althaea then goes
down the stairs and begins to cast (yes, yet another!) “alarm” at its base when
the western secret door opens. Confronting the startled eld is a hideous ogre!
out of spells, Althaea flees up the stairs. Fortunately, the ogre to does not
pursue her but instead runs through the eastern secret door, shouting incoherently.
The party returns to their campsite.
4.2 Fighting the Moathouse pursuers
Back at the
campsite they tell Elmo what happened. Surprising the adventurers, Elmo heals
the wounds of Cedric and Godric—there would seem to be more to this village
bumpkin than the party realizes! After chatting with Cedric, Vick is converted
wholeheartedly to the worship of St. Cuthbert. Vick also explains that
the pebble (with the eye symbol) is used by the bandits to recognize one
another when in civilized lands—apparently there are a number of bands operating
in the area, not simply the ones based in the moathouse.
As the party
deliberates about what to do, Althaea hears a mental “ping” from one of her many
alarms. She infers that the forces of the moathouse are in pursuit of the
party! Deciding that they are unlikely to be able to flee all the way back to
Hommlet, the adventurers elect to make a stand, using their high ground and
terrain to their advantage. Erik and Althaea distribute some caltrops and a
hunter’s trap around the perimeter of the campsite, while Godric hides nearby.
Cedric, Emo, and Vick ready their ranged weapons.
After a dozen
minutes or so the denizens of the moathouse are spotted. There are two groups: six
gnolls with Rex arrive in the area on the trail that connects the moathouse to
the high road, to the west of the campsite; nine bugbears skulk towards the
campsite from the north.
A mighty combat
ensues! Elmo reveals himself to be an effective warrior. But despite causing
the band of bugbears considerable grief, one of the heinous humanoids strikes a
lucky blow as slices off the villager’s head! Vick is skewered by a gnoll’s
spear after helping to kill his former leader, Rex. Cedric prays that St.
Cuthbert will accept the former brigand’s soul into the god’s celestial
the gnolls are slain, but four of the bugbears manage to flee. The party loots
the bodies, finding another pebble on Rex, and minimal treasure on the others
(some silver, gold, and platinum coins, a lump of blue quarts, and gold and
silver necklaces). Also on Rex’s body is a crude map of the area around the
moathouse. It seems to indicate a secret entrance to the lower level of the
moathouse about 120-150 feet to the east of the ruins. Most of the armour and
weapons of the humanoids are dumped into a nearby pond so that they cannot be
hearts, the party carries Elmo’s body back to Hommlet. Sore and exhausted, they
arrive at the village around midnight.
[Regional map from Goodman Games' version of The Temple of Elemental Evil. The red dot indicates where the party was ambushed en route to Hommlet. The pink square indicates the location of the Moathouse.]
[The picture of the Moathouse at the top of this post is by David Trampier and appears in both T1 and T1-4.]
[The previous log entry can be found here.]