The Light in the Darkness

In the Barrow of the Ogre King

Even more goblins and another dead cat!

Our heroes make the decision to go to the Barrow of the Ogre King and deal with the goblins once and for all. They also decide that they will take the magical dagger, half of the goblin artifact Zugzug (which the goblins refer to as a totem) with them, not trusting to leave it in Loudwater.

Finding the Barrow was fairly simple as the small goblin horde made little effort to cover their tracks, not to mention the Ranger, Arraellia’s amazing tracking abilities.

The heroes discover that the Barrow once belonged to dwarves, as the outside entrance to the barrow is through the mouth of a giant dwarf’s head carved in stone. The mouth opens into an outdoor courtyard where the side of a hill has been carved out to form a circle, the dwarf’s mouth on one side, the entrance to the Ogre Barrow on the other, carved into the hill, two rows of crumbling pillars form an overgrown pathway to the doors.

The area is filthy, the goblins using it as a place to put all their trash. The heroes inspect the area carefully, and discover that the goblin’s trail does not actually lead to the set of double doors in the hill. Further inspection reveals that the area between the columns is a pit trap with stone slabs cleverly placed on long poles and covered with debris. The doors are false and do not open.

The players discover that the goblins have been using a side entrance, a narrow secret door hidden by a rock. The rogue, Kierra goes on recon and discovers that the tunnel winds around and down, eventually opening into a small room with a door on the other side. Kierra listens at the door and hears muffled voices.

The players move down the winding tunnel as a group, at the bottom someone makes a noise and goblins investigate. The heroes move further back up the tunnel and the goblins do not discover them. The players then climb out of the narrow tunnel and open the door.

They found themselves at the bottom of the pit tunnel from the courtyard. Long wooden poles stretch up to the ceiling, holding the stone slabs in place. To the right of the players is a steep incline with three dwarven statues, evenly placed, standing guard. Goblin chatter can be heard close by, but seeing as no one spoke goblin our heroes had no idea what they were saying.

Again someone made a noise, the cleric, Brother Hammond swore it wasn’t him. Goblins came running to the top of the incline, looking down at the players and shouting goblin curses (well, it sure sounded like they were cursing). To Battle!

Some of our heroes moved up the steep incline while a few remained below offering ranged support. Brother Hammond sweated just thinking about making the steep climb. The three goblins engage the players with ranged weapons until they attack hand to hand. The fighter takes the hill, his massive form making the goblins look small and pesky, and then they stabbed him several times, perhaps out of spite. Eventually the entire party ‘takes the hill’ only to find more goblins waiting silently nearby. Surprise!

One point of true heroism was Brother Hammond’s 300 lb frame rapidly cresting the incline. He did it so quickly the mage stopped to look for the cake and mead that surely had to have been used for motivation.

The players now find themselves in a long rectangular room. At the other end of the room is another goblin Shaman. Between the players and the Shaman is an assorted collection of goblin baddies, each more specialized in attacks and assorted what-nots than the next. Is there a goblin college somewhere? Where do these little buggers learn this crap?

Pitched battle ensues. A few arrows from the deadly Arraellia show that this shaman also has the ranged weapon defense (that causes the ranged attack to fly into a nearby friend, can’t beat goblin teamwork). The sorcerer releases acid orb after acid orb, the thief deftly stabs and pierces, the cleric sweats, heals and hits with a lance of faith, the fighter marks his foes and then turns them into goblin goo with his massive double bladed axe, the mage stamps his staff and the air is filled with the smell of burning goblin, and arrow after arrow fly from the ranger’s bow.

On the goblin side of things javelins fly, swords are hurled, little goblin tricks occur (whenever the DM can think of using them, there’s like thirty, per goblin, seriously) and the Shaman dances, cavorts and casts vexing clouds of stinging nettles and blinding clouds of sheer annoyance. This shaman is into ballet, doing pirouettes between great leaps into the air.

The players don’t notice that the goblins are all positioned to the left or right of the room, leaving the center suspiciously unpopulated. The fighter, sick of the annoying Shaman, makes a bee-line for the rod wielding booger and promptly falls into another pit trap (it’s the second pit trap that gets you). And here we have a true moment of heroic teamwork (and I am not being snarky):

Hearing the fighter start to fall, the mage hits him with Feather Fall to slow his descent. Unfortunately, while helping the fighter avoid taking damage, it also gives him time to survey the pit’s contents: 4 angry, starving dogs. But then the Sorcerer steps in and uses the worst named power ever, Sorcerer’s Sirocco and swoops into the pit picking the fighter up and depositing him on the ground without so much as a scratch. Go team!

By now the players are starting to get the upper hand. The fighter dodges another stinging hex, decides enough is enough and grabs the shaman (exposing the group’s horrible lack of knowledge of the mechanics of grappling, but we muddle through). The massive fighter grabs the shaman in a bear hug and throws him into the dog pit. Sticky red karmic vengeance ensues.

Battle over, the players search the room. They find a 2-inch thick, 3 foot wide iron disk on the floor. It hums with power. Dwarven is written on the side (finally, a language they can read!). This disk belongs to the dwarves of Ammarindar, and is in fact a Stepping Disk of Ammarindar. Though the disk nearly oozes magic, the players decide to leave it alone and go deeper into the dungeon.

The players make their way down a narrow hallway, sending the thief on recon often. Soon they discover a portcullised chamber on one side of the hallway and a ill-fitting door directly opposite the portcullis. The smell of death comes from the portcullised chamber and the sounds of goblins can be heard on the other side of the ill-fitting door. The players split up, the cleric, sorcerer and mage tackling the portcullis, while the ranger, fighter and thief take the door.

The small room contains a few goblins, two hulking brutes (hulking for goblins) and one goblin with an eye-patch and overt pirate tendencies. There is much hacking and stabbing, pirate goblin has amazing thief like skills that are short lived as he also has fewer hit points (and who doesn’t want to stab someone acting like a pirate and wearing an eye patch?).

Over at the portcullis, the smell of non-goblin brains appears to have literally wakened the dead, though none of the players notice that the zombies are human zombies and not dwarven. The cleric flexes his sun god muscles and does a pretty good job of laying the dead to rest in spectacular fashion. The sorcerer and mage do an excellent job backing the cleric up.

In the small room is a crude statue in honor of the Ogre King wielding a massive morning star. In the base of the statue the rogue finds some treasure and a potion of healing.

Further in they go and further down. With the exception of the crude door on the previous small room, everything else is dwarven made –heavy stone doors move almost effortlessly and the torches the goblins have lined the walls with ventilate nicely. Gotta love them dwarves.

The players come to a set of double doors. On the other side goblin voices can clearly be heard, some very close to the door. After a brief debate, the players decide to go in hard. The ginormous fighter kicks the doors -hoping (and succeeding) to catch at least one of the baddies too close to the door and getting smashed in the process. The players flow into the room to find an assortment of goblins and hobgoblins (!) and yet another shaman.

The battle that follows is a hard one. Hobgoblins are fairly tough and the ranged weapon immune shaman is no slouch either. Two things stick out in this battle: the rogue discovers her sling and the sorcerer finds his morning star. The rogue manages to tag several baddies with her sling, doing some impressive damage in the process. The Sorcerer wades in with his morning star and somehow manages to finish off every creature he hits. The fact that the rest of the party has worked diligently to whittle these opponents down only to see the sorcerer glide in and claim the kill earns him the nickname: The Finisher (yet, he is hitting for a change –which is refreshing in itself).

Also of note: the clerics heats up and the ranger goes cold. During this battle and the last, the cleric began hitting with his lance of faith AND rolling good damage results (previously he was mostly missing or rolling poor damage scores). It was nice to see the cleric ascendant. Conversely, the ranger, usually a consistent source of damage and death, began missing. According to the DM’s long held beliefs, this had everything to do with the fact that the player playing the ranger left her dice at home (the DM’s fault), leaving her precious ‘ugly’ die at home as well, and her uncanny ability to hit with it –see house rules.

Here my memory fades a bit. One detail of the room is that there is a stairwell leading steeply downward. Next to that stairway is a large rectangular hole that drops for a 100 feet. I think the players push the shaman into the hole, but I cannot remember the exact details. Regardless, the shaman dies.

Our heroes prove triumphant, and squash the goblin/hobgoblin opposition. The room has three other features. There is a well, another stepping disk and a rough hewn door.

A cat’s head contaminate the ingenious dwarven designed well. Bloody marks on the wall tell the players that the cat head has been used in a popular goblinoid game, cat-ball, where a cat’s head is thrown into a circular object, like a basket.. or a well.

The players also find another Ammarindar Stepping disk. Several of the players want to step on the disk, this faction led by the fighter, Edward with the Kelgrath the Sorcerer supporting him. The cleric manages to convince the fighter that the time to experiment with the disk is after the dungeon is cleared. They compromise by placing the Shaman’s rod on the disk. The rod disappears. The fighter has to be restrained yet again (though not physically, that would take the entire group and even then success would be questionable) from running through the dungeon to see if the rod appeared on the disk in the dog pit room.

The mage casts a light spell to peer down the large rectangular black hole that opens alongside the stairwell that descends downward sharply. The light spell reveals a massive open area that exceeds the dimensions of the light spell. It looks like the stairwell runs downward in a slight spiral along the wall of a massive empty circular chamber. Sparsely placed torches placed at various level of the massive chamber give off weak light that provides little information.

The players listen at the crude, goblin made door and hear nothing. They open it and the rogue slips in, listening and doing the recon thing. The room is more cave than room and stinks of rotten food and goblin. The players have found the place where the goblins slept.

The players move into the cave chamber, looking for another exit, they do not find one. They search the disgusting room, picking through the nasty matted hay the goblins used as beds. They find some treasure, a set of delver’s armor, a wand of enfeeblement, and a benign blessed holy symbol that the cleric is able to utilize.

Our heroes decide that the only thing left to do is descend the stairs into the massive circular chamber (like a giant tube). They discover that this is a dwarven burial chamber, the gradually descending stair tells the tale of the Ammarindar dwarves in the form of hundreds of small alcoves where their dead have been laid to rest. Surprisingly the bones appear untouched. When the players reach the bottom of the cavern, they realize that they have descended over a hundred feet in the massive circular room.

A wide hallway leads to a room off in the distance. The cleric speculates that this would have been a shrine to a dwarven god, most likely Moradin. As the players slowly move down the wide hallway they can hear loud chanting in goblin, and the sorcerer, mage and cleric all feel baleful energies in the air.

The open hallway and lack of doors does not allow for cover. As the players slowly move down the hall the contents of the room become clear. It is a medium sized rectangular chamber (the rectangle apparently being the favorite shape of the dwarves) with two columns in the foreground and a large wide burial platform in the aft. Between the two is a well dressed (by goblin standards) goblin, wielding an iron rod in one hand and a bone handled mace/ scepter in the other (the other half of Zugzug) and chanting loudly. Black energy floats around the goblin -to all involved, this guy is playing with some heavy energy. This has to be the Shaman, Sancossug.

The cleric starts to grasp the full extent of what’s going on here, but perhaps all those stairs made him a tad peckish and he promptly loses his train of thought. The sorcerer joins him in poor dice rolling. The mage, Murdoch steps up and lays down some knowledge. The goblin is trying to raise the remains of the creature lying on the large burial platform, and while he was wielding some powerful and dark unholy energy, he was also doing it wrong.

As our heroes start to form up a battle plan something changes and Sancossug turns to face them, his arms still raised, his mouth still working and he begins to rush towards the players. The players form up, initiative is rolled and at the last possible moment, Sancossug stops dead in his tracks, drops his arms and loudly begs for the player’s help.
The players are taken aback by this ploy and immediately suspect foul play. The begin to grill Sancossug with questions and declarations on both sides makes things very tense at first:

Sancossug: “I need the other half of Zugzug to raise the Ogre King!”
Players (paraphrasing): “We can’t let any part of that sentence happen.”

The players learn that Sancossug is the head of the Bloody Stump tribe from the nearby Graypeak Mountains. The Shadowvar of Netheril have been harassing the goblin tribes located there, demanding magic items in exchange for being left alone and then demanding fealty once the magic items run out.

The Shadowvar worship Shar, the goddess of pain and loss and sworn enemy of Maglubiyet, the god of all goblin-kind. As Maglubiyet’s high shaman, Sancossug was sworn to somehow try and thwart the Netherese while trying to save his tribe. He united other tribes, but many of them had already been weakened, he tried fighting, but the Shadowvar are masters of the arcane AND shadow. His tribe retreated into the mountains while Sancossug sent agents out to look for potential solutions. One of those agents, Tarpoo the goblin ranger discovered the Barrow of the Ogre King, the stepping disks of Ammarindar and the artifact, Zugzug. One of the stepping disks was sent to the Graypeak Mountains for Sancossug to step through and start the process of raising the Ogre King. However, during this time, Tarpoo lost half of the goblin artifact Zugzug to Loudwater wizard, Curuvar the Brazen, which led directly to the players standing in front of Sancossug.

In short time the players and Sancossug reach an impass. They can’t let him raise the Ogre King or have the artifact, Sancossug cannot leave without the artifact and ideally would like to raise the Ogre King. Sancossug offers to leave the area in exchange for the artifact, but the players clearly had trouble trusting a goblin, not exactly paragons of trust.

Sancossug then made a solemn vow to his god, Maglubiyet. If the heroes gave him the other half of the artifact he would leave and never return, nor would any of his tribe return. This he swore in Maglubiyet’s name, may Maglubiyet curse him with a life of peace and tranquility should he break his vow. Both the sorcerer and the mage could tell that this was no ordinary vow, but the cleric, Brother Hammond could clearly see that this was the real thing -if Sancossug broke his vow, he would face the legendary wrath of Maglubiyet.

The players conferred and decided that the Shaman should have the other half of the artifact. As they hand the artifact over the mage, Murdoch shows where the shaman has gone wrong in the ritual. The Shaman took a moment to write the adjustments on a wall with a piece of charcoal, does a little happiness kick in the air, looks one last time at the desiccated body of the Ogre King and then excitedly steps behind the burial platform and disappears.

The players search the room. They discover a small area where Sancossug slept and find some treasure there, most notable being a masterwork dwarven helmet. The players find a stepping disk behind the burial platform. The burial platform contains the decaying skeleton of 12 foot tall creature, a large horn coming out of the creature’s skull. The two pillars in the room appear to have been added when the Ogre King was still alive. On each pillar are crude but effective carvings showing the exploits of the Ogre King. The players notice that there are scrap marks under one of the pillars, grove marks worn into the floor, as if moved repeatedly. The same marks are not on the floor by the second pillar. It appears that the Ogre King moved this pillar often. Perhaps the Ogre King’s great strength served as a safeguard of protection against the overly inquisitive goblins that once worshipped him years ago.

Luckily, among our heroes there stands Edward Summeroak, half-giant, all-around bad ass and the equal in strength to an Ogre mage (which is what the Ogre King was). With some effort and a lot of grunting, the fighter moves the pillar, exposing a hole under it. In the hole is a handle can be seen. The handled is grasped and a morning star is pulled out of the hole. Not just any morning star, it is the shape of wickedly mailed fist, spikes on the knuckles and back of the fist. The weapon is blue steel and covered in frost. It is a +2 morning star known as The Frost Giant’s Fist.

The players then go over to the stepping disk that Sancossug used. The fighter can’t resist and steps onto the disk and disappears. When he reappears he describes a flat mountainous area filled with goblins, hundreds and hundreds, if not more -goblins. In the middle of this small goblin horde stood Sancossug, standing on some type of platform. Sancossug sees the fighter and starts motioning toward him wildly, every goblin head turned to look at Edward. Edward wisely stepped on to the disk and reappeared in the Ogre King’s chamber. The players put their heads together and determine that if they flip the disk upside down it will not work, and then do so.

Finally, the mage takes his Amaunator holy symbol and places it on the chest of the Ogre King. As the players leave the room begins to fill with light, soon the room is lit as if it is noon on a sunny day, with the brightest light in the area centering on the holy symbol.

The players go back through the burial chamber to the room with the well and stepping disk. The fighter can barely contain himself, nor can the sorcerer. They take the rod that belonged to the Shaman and place it on the stepping disk –it disappears. The fighter tears off through the dungeon to the dog pit room (where another stepping disk resides) and sees the rod next to the stepping disk. The players decide to take the disks (which are big and heavy) splitting them between the sorcerer and fighter, who are both strong enough to carry them with ease.

Bidding the Barrow King adieu, our fearless heroes head back to Loudwater.

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