Thursday, August 13, 2015

Bujilli: Episode 140

Bujilli and Leeja quickly,  quietly, carefully moved away from a group of Pit Nibblers who were just attacked with a Fireball spell. Now they must decide if they want to investigate the ancient Barrows before them, or move on toward distant Monoliths, strange trees one of the other peculiar landmarks only now emerging from the stygian gloom...

Rough-hewn and lichen spattered, the Barrow was formed by octagonally-sectioned lengths of basalt stacked one upon another, with the gaps sealed-up by smaller, lighter colored stones, all of which were incised with runes. It didn't help that the grayish lichen clutching the vertical surfaces pulsed feebly and gave off a fetid fragrance. A riotous mass of unwholesome vegetation, most of it distinctly fungal in nature, bulged and sprouted and loomed over the Barrow like a slow motion sculptural interpretation of vomit. The dim reddish flicker seething about the edges of everything only made it all the more unsettling.

Leeja wrinkled her nose at the scent. It did not agree with her. Something crunched underfoot. Bones. Many, many tiny bones. Mice? Rats? Zoogs? The bones were so splintered and gnawed as to form a crunchy carpet that extended all around the Barrows.

Bujilli considered the sharply-sloping ramp leading down through a trench to what was intended to appear as the entrance to this Barrow. The walls of the trench were arranged in a crude pattern, not quite a full-blown mosaic. Gaps and holes were easy to pick out from the trails of bird lime and grime. Three--no four--of the holes showed traces of a sort of black oil leaking out from some sort of reservoir behind the walls. Even the lichen's rancid stench wasn't enough to hide the oil's pungency. He had no doubt that it was incredibly flammable, possibly even toxic.

At regular intervals there were bas-relief carvings set into the walls and little stone daises or platforms, three of them in all, in-between the wall-carvings. At the base of the trench was the supposed doorway underneath a massive lintel that was blocked-up with smaller rocks stacked and mortared into place with a thick white paste-like substance.

Bujilli knew that to disturb the false entrance would result in some sort of trap being triggered, something involving the black oil, or possibly something that was being held in suspension within some sort of pool of the black stuff. There were nasty jelly-things that could be stored within certain substances; he'd read about that sort of thing as part of his preparation for delving into the deep dark for his uncle.

The runes were harsh, angular slashes cut into the stone by something that struck with such force as to craze the surrounding surfaces from the sheer amount of force involved. Each rune was composed of three longer lines and two smaller, shorter lines. No two were the same.

The arrangement disturbed Bujilli; it reminded him of something he once saw as a child. One of the deep places his uncle had taken him in the course of his treacherous double-dealing with various demons, sorcerers or undead.

Undead. Yes. That was it.

Now that he knew what to look for, it was fairly easy to spot. The carvings were stylized skull-faces with gaping mouths and hollow eye-sockets where gems might once have glinted menacingly. Each one spewed a torrent of stylized water the flowed down to the bottom of their tile and then was continued by the almost mosaic pattern of the intervening stones to connect to each of the other carvings, forming a black river.

The Barrows were connected to Nitondre; the Black River of Souls that led to the Gravelands. Bujilli had been brought along by his uncle to meet with the ghouls who plied cold, dark waters of the subterranean river in their elegant funereal barges. He remembered the toothsome grimaces that passed for smiles among the un-masked members of the ghoul's entourage. He recalled all too vividly the ghouls refusal to consider him part of the bargain when his uncle suddenly offered him up to the ghouls to be rid of him. That had gone badly for his uncle. The barge-master had an even more perverse streak than his uncle and insisted that Bujilli be brought along for any future dealings.

His uncle had been furious. Not long after that, he abandoned his arrangements with the ghouls and struck up a conversation with otherplanar entities from Dalash.

Bujilli caught himself. Did not spit in disgust.

"You recognize something about this place?" Leeja stood next to him, one hand on her hand-axe.

"Enough. We can locate the actual entrance, if you're interested, but it isn't just a simple Barrow filled with old grave goods; these structures are connected to someplace dark and vile..."

"They reek of bitter old things best burned and forgotten."

"Except I don't intend to be the one to try and burn them. Let them lie here undisturbed. We have other things to go explore. No sense stirring up this sort of trouble."

Beyond the Barrow, off to either side was another Barrow, more or less similar. There was at least one more to the right. He knew without looking that there would be a fifth Barrow near-by. He meant to avoid them all...

Snails clustered around the trap-door set into floor. Fat, blue-striped things. Juicy and stupid. A good sign. Old Man Putney gave his pets the silent all-clear signal and the rats rushed in to snatch-up all the snails. It was a quick, messy little massacre and it left the rats wanting more. Good. He knew hey'd find plenty more to eat down below. He oiled the hinges then eased the trap-door open slowly, taking his time to make sure it didn't make any more sound than necessary--nosferatii were notorious for having keen hearing. It might have been something they gained form their kinship with vermin, with bats, mice and his little friends. Little did Putney realize that another of his friends was watching him intently from a vantage point just beyond his perceptions. Just as sneaky as the old man. Just as patient. Krosker waited with his finger on the trigger of his crossbow... 

Bujilli moved away from the Barrows. He had no interest in going back towards the Pit Nibblers and whomever had hit them with a Fireball spell. That meant going either right or left, then either continuing in those directions or going around the Barrows to see what might be past them.

To the right were masses of strange 'noodle' things. On the left were more of the petrified coral-trees. Between the 'noodles' and the Trees were gargantuan Monoliths that extended far into the darkness looming over everything.

There seemed to be a gap of some sort between the 'noodle' things and the Monoliths, and the Trees grew more profuse, taller and thicker and more clustered together towards the Monoliths, growing even thicker towards the far left.

"I'm inclined to head more towards the Trees..."

"Monoliths. Definitely the Monoliths." Leeja rejected the notion of getting any closer to those dreadful, grotesque tree-things in a tone that brooked no argument.

"Monoliths then. We'll head that way, after we give these Barrows a wide berth..."

"I don't see why we can't simply cut through in-between them..." Leeja set off at an easy jog, knowing that Bujilli would have to work much harder to keep up with her. He really wasn't much of a runner.

"But..." Bujilli shrugged. There was no point standing there when Leeja had made up her mind and was already in motion. He considered--but only briefly--using his Haste spell to run past her, but thought better of it. No sense in wasting a spell to win a foot-race.

He followed Leeja past the first Barrow, between the next two, then to the left of the fourth one. She kept her pace just slow enough for him to keep up within an arms length of one another.

The air grew colder, cleaner as they left the Barrows behind. The round underneath them was spongy with a type of moss and in places he could spot clumps of blue manda grass jutting out from cracks in tumbled sections of walls and what might be a road of some sort.

Leeja laughed softly, playfully as she sped up upon reaching the fractured pavement.

Bujilli smiled, huffed and puffed, and pushed himself to catch up to his friend.

The pavement ended suddenly.

Leeja tried to stop herself. Bujilli reached out to her...

Roll some dice!

Synchronocitor Status: Patiently waiting for something to do.

DEX check or Saving throw?
Bujilli and Leeja are at the very brink of a nasty fall into some sort of yawning you the readers can either roll a Saving Throw (versus Petrification) to keep them from falling, or if you prefer a more modern mechanic roll 4d6 and compare it to their respective DEXteriy scores. Either way works fine for me--You Decide!

Roll for Initiative...
Whether they fall or they manage to remain at the very lip of the pit, Bujilli & Leeja need to determine whether they can catch their breath and be ready for what happens next...or whether something else happens before they can get settled. Roll 1d6 for 1) Bujilli, 2) Leeja, 3) Whatever/whomever else shows up. No modifiers this time, as the circumstances negate their modifiers.

Roll Another 1d6 for a Wandering Monster...
There are things prowling about in the dark near this pit, so let's check whether Bujilli & Leeja attracted the notice of something hungry or maybe someone who might lend a hand; not all encounters have to be with things that want to kill, maim or eat them...

We can always use a few bonus d6 & d20 die rolls, if anyone would be so kind. Thanks!

What Should They Do Next?

You Decide!

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  1. Saving Throws:
    For Bujilli I rolled 17 (unmodified) on a d20.
    For Leeja I rolled 20 (unmodified) on a d20.

    Bujilli = 5
    Leeja = 5
    Whatever / whomever else = 3

    More to come...

    1. Thanks for the Saves and Initiative rolls. Looks like they avoid the worst case scenario and whatever show sup next, they just barely beat on the initiaitve...

  2. 4 in the wandering critter department.

    Best to get on some firm footing, whatever that may be. The hits they just keep a comin'....

    And someone get Bujilli a snack, for chrissakes!

    1. No immediately available wanderers...but that can always change as circumstances develop.

      Firm footing would be good--they've both slid down a steep incline for a good bit of distance and the soil inside the pit is loose and gravelly, not good for keeping ones footing at all.

      Yep, they could definitely use some food by now...

  3. How wide is the pit? If they can't stop, do they have enough momentum to jump over it, or to the side of it? If they manage to keep from falling in, they should check it out enough to determine if it's a good alternate route or at least enough to know if anything might come up out of it to attack them from behind.

    I also agree with V.A., once they're on more solid footing they probably need a snack break.

    I rolled 5d20s (19, 18, 14, 16, and 20) and 5d6s (3, 4, 3, 6, and 5) in case they're useful.

    1. The pit is roughly 200-300 feet across and is shaped like a slightly squashed oval. The edges are crumbly, heavily fractured and the soil trailing down into the pit itself is mostly loose gravel and small rocks that is easily dislodged and quick to slide down the steep incline. Not the best stuff to walk on by any means.

      since they made their Saving Throws, both Bujilli & Leeja were able to stop themselves before the sliding got too bad. They are more in danger of sliding down the steep incline covered in loose gravel than actually falling into the pit itself right now, but if they slide far enough down, then that will be a consideration.

      Climbing out of the pit makes the most sense, as anything else will most likely result in a gravel-slide that will carry them down into the pit below. Good thing Bujilli has some experience in navigating treacherous terrain like this from his childhood in the mountains.

      Getting some food is a bit of a priority for them both...

      Thanks for the die rolls.


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