Roma Imperious at Chicago Gameday

I had a great time running an adventure called "Fly you Fools!" although I think it should have been called "For the love of Galetea".  For more background, maps and pregens take a look at the HinterWelt site here.

Quick Summary

Gaius Claudius Cordus, prefect of Eborucum, has summoned you to deal with a beast in the Cambria mountains. It has come raiding the outlying villa and it is the job of the Legions to handle such issues. His time is precious but the natives hound him, bleating like sheep about the Draco. Still, there may be something to their murmurings.

To that end, your maniple and a Ventor Draconis, Llew, will be sent to the Villa Bato. Dectus Bato is a wealthy German mercator who has made his wealth exporting tin. He has made enemies and some believe this extends to the Gods. It will be your job to see if it is so and to drive off this threat to the wealthy Equites Provincialis.

Players

There were six players:

Jim - Played the Optio Titus Julius Silanus of the Legio IV Vitrix, commander of the maniple sent to aid the Villa Bato. 

Mark - Played the Pictish Druid Vingo the Red, pressed into service but willing to aid the Romans if it means helping the people of Britannia.

William - Played the intellectual Cammius, a Medicus of the Legio IV Vitrix.

Mike - Aulus Ancius Celer, a Magi of the Legio Magorum II under the Legio IV Vitrix. His mind and powerful spells could mean the difference between success and failure.

Kent - Llew the Venetores Draco, a dragon hunter assigned to the group in order to lend his expertise to the fight.

Wendy - Trixie the Barbarian (formerly Viritrix), a Cantiaci axe specialist who is a part of the Auxiliaries.

The Villa

The maniple marched into the villa with some amount of excitement going on. The entered the small forum and asked a local what the excitement was about and he told them the young mistress Elian had been abducted by the dragon in its first day light attack. He went on to introduce himself a Libius Gracchus, owner of the Caupona Stannum. He assured them they could have anything at his disposal and was most gracious in offering them a place to stay at lowered rates. The Optio informed him that they would stay at the standard rate, free.

The group investigated the villa and questioned Tamur, the mine foreman who was wounded in the attack and only saved by the healing of Cammius and Vingo. In addition, they question many of the inhabitants of the villa including Bato, Galla his wife, the guards, and survivors of the previous attacks. During the investigation more questions are raised than resolved. It is discovered that a stranger commissioned gears from the local blacksmith and then the dragon attacked. Bato was more concerned for his business than his daughter, his wife more concerned for her daughter than her husband and the mine foreman more concerned for the daughter than someone of his position should be. On top of this, it becomes obvious that the dragon was raiding for specific targets rather than merely to control territory, gather food or nesting materials. The party vows to move out the next morning with Tamur as a guide for the mountains.

During the planning dinner,  Libius makes an appearance with the story of Magnus, Dectus Bato's father who had died four years before. The body was never found. However, for a year before hand, Magnus was dealing with an Artifex called Cabio. Now one knows the true nature of the business but it was thought to be "outside the Empire", a euphemism for illegal activity. All most interesting and very mysterious or so Libius said.

The Mine

It is suspected that the beast is lairing in Cavea Ignis, the Caves of Fire about two days distant. The maniple is supplied with cold weather gear through the generosity of Vingo and with pack horses by Bato. The first stop, about a days march out, is the iron mine, which the workers claim has been producing less or possible bandits have been making off with ore. Tamur claims to be innocent in the matter and was about to investigate when he was called back to answer to Bato.

The mine is a scene of slaughter. All the miners are dead. Some the obvious victims of the dragon while others killed by something smaller that clawed their eyes out. Tamur, Celer and Cammius begin policing the bodies, a difficult job for Tamur as many of these men were his friends. The rest go into the mine to see if there is any clue to what had happened. They discover Homunculus, small flying golbin-like constructs. Vingo, thinking quick, creates an illusion of a rock slide. The Homunculus believe it but are able to use the mine's water system to escape. They emerge and find Tamur and the others easy targets.

The battle ensues where Trixie throughs herself onto several Homunculus, pounding them into the ground and trapping them there. Celer uses a firebolt to kill one and Llew uses his gust spell to ground the beasts. Once grounded. the group makes quick work of them.

Once the burials are completed, the whole party enters the mine and finishes their investigation. They find, at the bottom tier, a whole that has been dug to a burial chamber. Llew investigates and finds it to be a druidic burial chamber. Contained within are five crypts each with a treasure around it. Vingo is consulted and he warns it may be trapped and most definitely cursed. After disarming many traps, Vingo investigates and finds one alcove already emptied of treasure. However, the others seem undisturbed.  Vingo retrieves the histories that the dying druids had put down in their deaths describing their work in the Cavea Ignis. Only Vingo can read this as it is written in Ogham.

As Llew is resetting the traps to protect the crypt, he accidentally sets one off, disintegrating himself. When Vingo returns down into the crypt he finds Llew's empty suit of armor. Trixie, having some knowledge of traps, volunteers to check the srcophogus of the druids in order to see if there is any magic which may help their fallen comrade. In approaching the first crypt, she trips bracing her hand on the lid causing it to spin and hit her in the back of the head knocking her cold. However, she did prove there was no traps on that one. Vingo retrieves four items from the crypt. An ancient scroll describing the manufacture of a potion of Cures, a Rote of Fire and a Rote of Lugh's Blood describing a means to bring the inanimate to life via the use of the god's blood, found in his work shop.

Llew is brought back from oblivion and the party withdraws. The Optio, always on the alert, spies the dragon flying towards the villa as the party is almost out of the mine. They hide, allowing it to pass. After moving off a distance, they set up camp and Vingo uses his powers to scry the villa and views the dragon's attack. It seems to be aware of him and when he attempt to block its vision, it roars forcing him to return to his body. The party decides to camp for the night rather than risk another encounter with the dragon.

Cavea Ignis

Into the Cavea Ignis where the party is met by a golden idol of Cernunnos, the horned god. A strange encounter since he is more commonly worshipped on the mainland but after making a blood sacrifice (each putting his own blood in the bowl) the enter unmolested. In the cave, there is a small under ground river running through the middle of the floor. Stalagmites (thanks Mike) dot the floor and two exits present themselves. Trixie volunteers to be the first over the bridge. 

She steps on the bridge and makes it to the center when it suddenly falls into the river and four Homunculus sly out from underneath. Vingo, fearing for the life of Trixie, leaps into the river while Cammius and Celer hold a rope that Vingo has brought with him. They are successful in saving Vingo and Trixie even though neither the rescuer or the distressed can swim. The Optio and Llew make quick work of the Homunculus.

The Party moves off through the tunnel to the right and finds a chamber filled with molds and fungi. They investigate it forcing me to come up with descriptions on the fly but not before I seem to scare them with the deadliness of the local dungeon dressing. Looking elsewhere in the room they find a well. It strikes them as strange in a dungeon and upon closer inspection, it appears to be gear driven and automated. They raise the the "bucket" and it turns out to be a platform that will hold two people. About this time, the dragon attacks!

Furious fighting ensues where Trixie, the Optio and Cammius are all drenched in fire and Vingo and Celer run away like little girls. We soon find out it is all a "strategic retreat" while the others keep the dragon busy. Celer is maneuvering behind the dragon who is attacking from a side passage while Vingo races to the statue of Cernunnos and performs his druidic Rote of Lugh's Blood. This animates the statue and Vingo brings it back to the room to fight the dragon. Meanwhile, Trixie is dancing around trying to avoid fire while Llew laughs in the face of the flaming dragon from the safety of his dragon scale armor. The Optio decides to die for the Empire and attacks the Dragon straight on. Luckily, the Statue arrives and takes the brunt of the second flame breath while Celer gives the dragon "the bad touch" (right in the pooper) with his Sphere of Entropy spell. Thus ends the Draco Machinae.

A quick inspection of the dragon's carcass turns up a powerful wand that created its flame breath. With that in hand the party descends into the well and onto some of the worst rolling I have ever seen, in any game, any place. They investigate the chambers (two) that they find and can discern no other egress. They then search for secret doors and find two. The first is in the well and the other in an adjoining chamber that is meant to hold prisoners. They choose to check the door in the well for traps and critically miss the skill check causing the alarm glyph to go off louder than normal. When they try to disarm it, they miss by even more, releasing all the energy in the glyph and exploding the door. Well, at least it is open.

The step into a hallway with a portcullis at one end and a set of doors at the other. They decide to empty the hall as they attempt to disarm a trap they just discovered. At that, it is a poison gas meant to knock them unconscious and they miss their disarm by critical amounts again and knock Trixie and Llew unconscious. They decide to retreat to the upper level and use the elevator as a giant air pump. 

As they are retreating the Optio stays behind to ensure the wounded and all under his command make it out. When the last go up he is critically clanged in the helmet. If it had not been for his helmet, he would surely have lost an eye. Fighting a withdraw, he steps onto the elevator as it arrives for him and returns to the upper level. At this point, Celer and Llew head back down to use the Wand of Flame Breath on the artifex who must be Cabio. As they arrive he is nowhere to be seen until they light off the wand and discover the gas is flammable. They are protected but Cabio staggers from behind a stalagmite (thanks Mike) from the resulting flash. They hit him again as he charges and realize he is wearing the same type of armor as Llew. Eeek! Up elevator!

Trixie and Cammius return and finish him off. A quick search of the remaining rooms on the level reveal Cabio was constructing a woman who could not die and basing his design on Elian. They also find the Fount of Lugh containing the true Blood of Lugh.

Thanks to everyone who played and to Buzz and Games Plus for organizing and hosting a great Gameday. Also, a special thanks to Buzz for the picture (curse my camera phone!).