Session 21 was somewhat shorter than other sessions, as both myself and one of my players were rather tired from the previous day's activities -- I attended my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary party, for example. Nevertheless, much was accomplished in the short time we played. Chief among these was more fully mapping the underground complex beneath the old cabin. One of my players was inspired to try and produce better maps of the whole place and, to do that, his character made a point of exploring the place quite thoroughly. As he did so, he commented on how much he liked the design of the dungeon, both in terms of its layout and its contents. In particular, he noted the presence of sleeping quarters, a kitchen, and toilets, features he said were commonly missing from most dungeons, a comment I found slightly odd, since Dwimmermount includes them all as well. In any case, kudos to Jim Raggi on this; his dungeon design impressed one of my players.
Early in the night, the characters discovered a room filled with hard spiked vines and branches that blocked their entrance into the room. I emphasized the fact that the vines and branches looked quite brittle -- "coral-like" is how I described them -- the players weren't too keen to do it damage, as they couldn't make up their minds as to whether the weird plant was in itself a threat or a guardian against some other threat. They decided instead to leave well enough alone and return to the "chapel of evil" they visited earlier, since there was a door in that room they hadn't ventured beyond. This is one of the things I particularly like about my gaming group: they're methodical. They use their maps well and take note of likely locations for secret doors or hidden rooms and always try to fill out every corner of the map, if they can. In short, they're explorers, which, as I've noted before, is what I like most about dungeoneering.
The bronze door in the chapel the PCs hadn't opened wouldn't budge. There was no obvious lock mechanism, which led them to believe there must be some magical means of opening it. Examination revealed a basin nearby filled with some blackish liquid -- the PCs thought it might be azoth or a form of it -- as well as human teeth. Brother Candor surmised that a tooth would be necessary to put into the basin as an offering but neither he nor anyone else was willing to offer up their own teeth for the occasion. This led them to look for other teeth in the chapel to use instead. The chapel was festooned with bones, including hundreds of skulls, but the skulls were all jawless -- and toothless -- so they couldn't aid them in their cause. Dordagdonar then suggested they re-visit the crypts, find a mummified body within, and swipe one of its teeth for the occasion. Brother Candor was reluctant to do this, but acquiesced, as there was no other obvious means to proceed.
Those who haven't played Death Frost Doom should skip over this paragraph, as it includes a small spoiler about the adventure. As written, only a fresh tooth would open the bronze door. Getting an old one from a corpse would be insufficient. When Dordagdonar made his suggestion, I was initially prepared to have his plan fail, since the players had already correctly surmised they'd need to yank out one of their own teeth to open the door. But something inside me said to let it ride and have Dordagdonar's plan work. One reason was that the crypts, filled with a vast number of human remains, had been objects of curiosity but little more in the adventure so far. That is, the characters found it odd that there were so many mummified bodies here, but they'd done very little exploring of the crypts beyond map-making and hadn't spent much time thinking about the meaning of their presence. I figured that, by allowing Dordagdonar's plan to work, it might spark greater interest in the crypts -- and it did, as we'll see.
The door now open, the party were able to venture into other areas of the dungeon they'd never seen. Unfortunately, they didn't find much of immediate interest and their way forward soon ended in dead ends. They then knew that they'd have to return to the "coral room" and find some way to enter it, but, before they did that, they more thoroughly examined the crypts to see if there might be some other way to proceed. They found none but they did make a closer account of the burial chambers, estimating that they contained thousands of corpses. This led to some speculation as to why there were so many, how they might have gotten here, and whether or not the stories they'd been told by the folks at Smerdlap's Crossing (and by old Zeke) were true, or at least whether they were completely true. The complex beneath the cabin looked much to elaborate -- and old -- to have been the work of a small cult, as they'd believed, but they as yet don't know enough to make sense of it all yet.
Rather than continue onward, they decided to leave the dungeon and return to Zeke's place to rest and, in the case of Brother Canor, pray for find traps, a spell they think they will need as they forge ahead. This also gave them a chance to reconnect with Iriadessa, who'd stayed behind with Hap the groom, because she feared what might be up the hill near the elven vale. She was no less enthusiastic about venturing there once she learned what the party had seen, but she may have no choice, as her magical skills might prove useful.
And that's where we left it. Continued explorations will resume this weekend and I'm rather looking forward to how the players deal with the problems that lay before them, not to mention the problems they have yet to encounter.