04 June 2023

Victory in the Moathouse (Greyhawk campaign)

PART 7Victory in the Moathouse and an Unpleasant Ambush
(Flocktime 578 CY)

7.1 Confrontation with Lareth the Beautiful (Flocktime 12th)
Our doughty 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) – find themselves within the lair of Lareth, the “Master” of the ruined Moathouse. The party is accompanied by Spugnoir (a scrawny and squeaky Suel wizard). But they no longer are accompanied by the traitorous Zert (who lies lifeless, with a thoroughly pulped head, among the bodies of many black-clad followers of Iuz). 
The party leaves the area that had been occupied by Lareth and his followers. They explore further into the underground complex beneath the Moathouse. Eventually, the party confronts Lareth again – this time, the foul champion of Chaotic Evil is accompanied by a horde of zombies and a terrible ogre (whom Althaea recognizes from her earlier encounter when first exploring the Moathouse ruins). Lareth laughs maniacally as the shambling undead and hulking humanoid assault the adventurers.

Things look quite bleak initially, as the ogre smashes its club onto Erik’s head, knocking the dwarf out in a single blow. Althaea retaliates with several magic missiles. Astonishingly, it is Spugnoir who manages to finish off the ogre, with a couple of well-placed thrusts with his dagger. Cedric calls upon the holy might of St. Cuthbert and manages to repel some of the zombies. At the same time, though, Lareth calls upon the unholy wrath of Iuz, and compels Althaea and Godric to drop what they’re doing and grovel before him. The situation looks dire, but Cedric blasts Lareth with a divine bolt. Althaea and Godric recover their wits. The elf then hits Lareth with some magic missiles and the rogue follows up by slicing open Lareth’s jugular. The golden “Master” of the Moathouse is no more! Ultimately, it is the adventurers who have the last laugh.
The remaining zombies collapse with the death of their master. Cedric quickly heals Erik, returning the dwarf to consciousness.
The party loots Lareth’s body and returns to his lair. There, the adventurers assemble the various items they’ve found, and Althaea casts detect magic. Lareth’s black plate mail, ring, and staff all radiate arcane energy, as does Zert’s sword “Betty.” The party rests for the remainder of the day (about eight hours). Later, the ring is discerned to grant “free movement” to its wearer. It is given to Godric. The staff is of “striking” power, and “Betty” is unusually sharp. 
7.2 The Rescue of Knarf and Departure from the Moathouse (Flocktime 13th)
After recovering some of their strength, the party explores much of the remaining complex beneath the Moathouse. While doing so, Erik, full of bitterness, smashes in Lareth’s head with the sword “Betty.” Eventually, the party triggers a trap that releases a portcullis in a passageway, preventing further investigation of the western area. 
After some further exploration, the party returns to the secret exit located to the east of the main complex, the place where they had first entered the tunnels. As they had noted earlier, the rope ladder had been cut and the trapdoor closed. Althaea uses her mage hand to secure a rope and grappling hook to an iron rung just beneath the trapdoor above them. Erick climbs up the rope and (after several attempts) manages to prod open the trapdoor with “Betty.” He clambers onto the surface, only to be hit immediately with a frosty orb cast at his head by a nearby fiendish gnome. Despite this icy shock, and with a surge of energy, Erik scrambles toward the gnome and hits him with his sword. The gnome squeals in agony and subsequently disappears in a puff of mist. Given the fogginess of the night, and the pounding of his head, Erik cannot locate where the gnome has gone. By the time the rest of the party reach the surface, the vile gnome appears to have fled the area.
The party re-enters the underground complex via the other secret entrance, the one within the bandits’ headquarters within the Moathouse itself. They find the ogre’s lair. While exploring, Erik thrusts his sword into a pile of rugs and mats, accidentally tearing a finely made cloak buried within the pile. The party opens a barred door, revealing an imprisoned, emaciated gnome, and two dead humans. Cedric aids the poor gnome.
After gulping down some much-needed liquid, the gnome creakily introduces himself as Knarfallan of Gneissvale – or “Knarf” for short. He explains that he, and his two guards (the dead humans), were captured days ago while travelling from Gneissvale to Hommlet. Knarf reveals that there were three “evil” gnomes in league with the bandits, along with the ogre, Lareth, and the cultists. In gratitude for being rescued, Knarf gives Althaea an iron ring that indicates that the bearer is a “gnome friend.” 
The party returns to the bandit lair and rests for a few hours. Erik attunes himself to the staff of striking, while Althaea discerns that the torn cloak is in fact a “Cloak of Elvenkind.” She hopes that it will be easy to repair, and asks Spugnoir to use his prestidigitation cantrip to clean it of the ogre’s foul stench and lice.
The party conducts a final investigation of the underground complex. They find the gnomes’ dwelling place. There they uncover three scrolls (“Disguise Self,” “Hold Person,” and “Misty Step”), and a letter written in gnomish. Spugnoir is delighted with the scrolls – finally his participation in this adventure is paying off! Knarf translates the letter, informing the party that it is addressed to an unnamed “friend” in Nulb, and that it concerns the activities of the brigands over the past few weeks, including some trouble with “meddlesome adventurers” – no doubt the party! The letter is signed “Moth-Gar” – presumably one of the evil gnomes.

Exploring a bit further, the party defeats a few ghouls, and then decides to abandon the damnable place. They go to the above ground ruins in order to recover an ivory box that they had left within a ruined tower days ago. Erik enters the tower to pick up the box, but is immediately attacked by a giant spider. However, the spider is instantly pulverized by a number of magic missiles launched by Althaea. The party then loads their mule Vick up with recovered loot (including two suits of black plate mail, one of which is Lareth’s enchanted armour). After a short rest, the party begins their march back to Hommlet.
7.3 Ambush! (Flocktime 13th)
It is a grey, dreary morning as the party trudges back to Hommlet. The bleak weather matches the adventurers’ sense of exhaustion. After a couple of hours of slow progress, Godric spies something ahead. It is a wagon behind a dead horse, slain by several arrows, with a rather frustrated gnome looking on. Althaea casts invisibility on the Godric. Scouting unseen, the rogue spots a dead archer to the east. It looks as though the archer slew the horse before being himself slain. A quick search of the body reveals it to be wearing a “Burne’s Badger” tunic.

The party cautiously approach the gnome, who gestures at them for help. Alas, it is an ambush! Appearing out of nowhere – presumably previously invisible – the malevolent “traders” Rannos Davl and Gremag attack, along with a couple of warriors who burst out of the back of the wagon. Spugnoir is badly wounded by a deadly thrust from one of Gremag’s daggers. The gnome tries to cast a spell, but it fizzles. Enraged, Erik smashes in Rannos Davl’s fat head, and kills the gnome in a gory explosion with his deadly staff of striking. The two warriors also are slain with little difficulty, but the surprisingly deft Gremag disappears in a dusty cloud, managing to escape the wrath of the party.

The adventurers take the body of the dead archer, placing it on the back of poor Vick, in order to return it to Burne’s Badgers. Althaea examines the loot recovered from the ambush. She finds that Rannos Davl’s shortsword and dagger both radiate magic. The dagger is given to the shaken Spugnoir.
7.4 Return to Hommlet (Flocktime 13th)
As evening approaches, the party arrives back at Hommlet. There they meet immediately with Canon Terjon at the Church of St. Cuthbert. Cedric updates the priest on the events that took place at the Moathouse, as well as the treason of Rannos Davl and Gremag. Canon Terjon is astonished and worried. He tells the party that there will be an emergency town council meeting the next day, at which the party can convey their news to the other council members. 
The party returns to the Inn of the Welcome Wench. They collapse in exhaustion. 

 [Cedric, warrior priest of St. Cuthbert]

[For other instalments and more information about this campaign, check out the Index.]

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).