How to be an Adventurer — The Dungeon Dive
Delving your first dungeon can be a terrifying and deadly, experience. But, remember, often the world plays into the hands of adventurers so long as they play to the tune of RESPONSIBILITY and CAUTION.
Not everything will be as it seems, so be prepared to move slowly, to search a lot and to always be VIGILANT.
Remember, the dead aren’t always imbued with unnatural life, ready to rise up and kill you. But sometimes they are. Be especially CAREFUL of long-dead corpses and skeletal remains.
DIPLOMACY is often the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. Scout out possible enemies, inventory their traits and strategize the best approach available. If the enemy cannot be talked down, prepare a KILL ZONE! Set up as many traps as you can and let them come. Letting the enemy wear themselves down before battle is a sure way to maximize your potential to WIN!
Perhaps, most importantly, don’t trust rogues alone in a room full of treasure. The temptation is often too great for even the most noble of their number.
Bern Sandros scanned the room. There were the three thresholds, all blocked with slabs of rock, sealing the rest of the place away from intruders.
“Carric, why did they seal the doors? To prevent thieves?” Bern asked with a wink.
The others chuckled.
Carric closed his eyes.
“Well, we know that the lord of this place, depending on what period of the Goblin empire he lived in, might well have been sealed within after his death, providing that he had no heirs,” Carric responded. “However, the goblins of the time didn’t let good things go to waste. I think that they always left a way in for those in the know.”
“Alright, Carric, this is good. An expert. I’m thinking this through. If there is a way in, well, none of the places that these doors lead are connected. Mate, did the Gharagians leave a key under all of the rocks?” Bern inquired.
“What does that even mean?” Carric wondered with a confused shrug.
“Would they have made it so they could get in every spot, or just some main spot?”
Bern Sandros was in his element, now, getting a feel for the place he wanted to crack open and burgle. He clapped and cackled, eyes bright and full of joy.
“Well, Bern, from what I remember, they would have made a way to every spot in this fortress. Really, they would have made the whole process reversible, just in case they needed to use the fort again for a battle.”
“Alright. Top kek. I suspect that those slabs are mechanical doors. So, we just have to find what grinds their gears. Any ideas on where we should look?” Bern asked.
Carric paused and seemed to struggle with it, giving it a good and proper think.
“I cannot think of any, Bern, everybody. I suggest that these doors were added after the dynasty behind this place finally passed away. I think that the rites of the era required it to be so.”
Seven hells and the treasures within them, Bern mused, excited. That was a good answer. Maybe Carric didn’t know how to get in, but that was Bern’s job and damnation if he wasn’t good at it.
“Well,” Yenrab broke in, flexing his sodden limbs. All eyes turned on him. “I might as well see if I can budge them. I’m not exactly loose timber on the open river, ya know.”
The eyes stayed on him, all of them silent as they tried to process what they had just heard.
“I’m not exactly a one-legged dancer?” Yenrab tried again.
“A seven-legged basilisk?” Yenrab asked.
“Your loss,” Yenrab shrugged.
Yenrab scraped his feet into the dust of the floor, trying to get his boots as dry as possible. Then, giving himself one big, loud stretch that crackled and popped every tendon and sinew in his body, he moved to the first slab. Planting his feet firmly, he laid his palms against it.
“Which way should I try to move this, boys?” Yenrab asked without looking.
To Yenrab, it seemed like everyone answered at the same time.
“Up!” called Tracy.
“Just push it!” yelled Carric.
“Try to slide it to the side!” cried Bern.
Yenrab shuddered and shivered as he tried to move it. The slab didn’t budge an inch. He tried again, his superhuman muscles bulged as he shoved, scraped and finally battered at the thing. He stopped, his broad shoulders heaved up and down as he panted. He leaned against it.
“Guys, nothing is happening,” he gasped.
“Well, mates, I guess it’s time to start looking,” Bern stated, rubbing his hands together briskly as if warming them for the task. “If those doors are worth sealing up, well, they’ve gotta be worth taking down.”
Bern searched the room thoroughly for traps or triggers that might open these doors and let the group see where they were. He traced his fingers over the ancient art and etchings that littered the walls. He tapped it here and there, listening for echoes or hollows. The others checked about the place as well as they could, more than once checking Bern to see if they were doing it right. The storm outside wailed, screamed and threw a wild tantrum without sign of slowing.
Yenrab was the first to lose interest. The half-orc yawned and stretched.
“Well, guys, I’m gonna turn in. We’ve got a nice spot out of the weather and I say that’s good enough for me. I’m just gonna crash over in this corner here. Plus,” he beamed, “indoors and away from the beasties, I can sleep in style.”
Yenrab put his strong arms into his backpack and pulled out a large teddy bear. He gave it a tremendous hug and a sloppy kiss, leaving a bit of goop over its face. Then he patted its head and laid his bulk down against it.
Tracy’s mouth dropped in shock.
“Is that real bear fur?!” Tracy asked in amazed awe.
“Yeah. I made it from the prey of my first hunt. Its fur reminds me of the power of persistence. Plus, you know, Mr. Fuzzybottom keeps me company when I’m feeling lonely.”
Yenrab shrugged and hugged his bear again, letting out a satisfied sigh.
Tracy stared with longing at the bear and moved to his own spot, slinging his sleepwear onto the floor and giving it a tremendous hug and a sloppy kiss.
“I’m out as well, Yenrab and Mr. Fuzzybottom. I should meditate upon my magic,” he said drowsily before passing out, uncovered, on the bare floor.
Madness, Bern thought as he looked away from the scene. Absolute madness.
Carric was the third to admit defeat. He dug into his pack to pull out his sleeping bag and other night-time luxuries. “Yeah, I’m gonna get some sleep and maybe, if there is time later, I’ll tune my instrument.”
The air rumbled with the snores of a tired, well-comfortable Yenrab Atsittab. Tracy murmured and wove his hands and arms through the air as he muttered nonsense, all in his sleep. Carric was awake, but barely.
“Mates. Mates!” Bern exclaimed. Carric rose up, jolted with that shock of fright inherent to the slumber-ready.
“Huh. What?! Bern?” Carric spluttered, confused.
Yenrab continued to snore. Tracy, meanwhile, had somehow woken silently and without fuss, already next to where Bern stood. His eyes were alert and his body tense with no sign of sleep anywhere upon him.
What kind of life does that to a man? Bern thought that, were Tracy ever the target of an assassin, the hunter might well find themselves the hunted.
Carric adjusted to the situation, sneezing as the chill air reminded his body to ward itself from infection.
“Nagh. Ugh. Yeah, alright, something good right? Yenrab, wake up,” Carric commanded in a tired voice.
Of course, there was no response.
Bern had a wicked thought.
“Carric, let me try.” He paused a little, then yelled in a loud voice, “To arms, mates! The enemy is upon us!”
Yenrab leaped to his feet in a battle-ready fury, Mr. Fuzzybottom wielded in one hand as a cudgel while, somehow, the other hand had found and wielded an axe. He snorted in fury.
“Coraellon above!” Tracy screamed wildly.
Yenrab snapped out of his enraged stupor and started laughing.
Bern had already been chuckling, expecting the result.
Carric laughed as well, but he also seemed nervous.
Tracy simply stared.
“Now that I have all of your attention,” Bern announced, “I want to show you all something. Mates, take a look at this.”
Bern touched his hand upon the wall and slid his hand slowly and smoothly over the protruding scenes and text. After he had caressed it for a few moments, he stopped.
“There is a depression here. A button. And I,” he announced, “am gonna push it.”
Bern Sandros had an expectant look, challenging the others to protest.
“Yeah. Why not,” Yenrab accepted, nonplussed. “Everyone, let’s gear up for battle just in case. But this is good.”
“It is,” Carric affirmed. “It really is!”
Bern was satisfied with himself. Upon pushing the button, there were a series of clicks, each sound longer than the previous, culminating into whirring and grinding, with continued functionality even after all of these centuries of nonuse. The stone slabs that had previously sealed the three doors, ground and trembled, loosening dust and powder from their surfaces. With a sudden absence of sound, the stones fell out of view, revealing the rest of the fort.
“Machines!” Bern Sandros exclaimed. “Did I call it or what?”
Carric snorted. Bern simply beamed.
Hells and heavens, is this going to be fun, Bern thought, rubbing his hands together in lascivious greed. He could already feel himself traipsing through rooms full to the brim with glittering coins and expensive jewelry. But a dark realization and dread kicked in. We can get to anything in the fort now. And anything in the fort can get to us.
“Kek! Jiak kij uko happausan!” yelled Yenrab, rapt with attention and filled with energy. I’m going on a dungeon adventure!
“Nice!,” replied the child of Coraellon, Tracy, pulled out a dagger from his belt, not understanding a word of what the half-orc had just said.
Bern surveyed the doors and strode towards one at random. The others followed suit.
“Would you look at that?!” Yenrab exclaimed, as they entered the narrow and dusty corridor, its air fetid with age. The scrollwork of the main room continued. Various scenes depicted the laying to rest of two goblin maidens, most probably beautiful to the right person. Each of them was stripped and then, in front of bowing retainers, they stepped themselves into their respective sarcophagi.
“Ugh,” Carric muttered. “They did it by choice?!”
How barbaric some cultures are, Yenrab nodded, thinking about the sacrifices the tribes of the sun committed every spring in the Northlands.
Bern simply moved ahead without response. None was necessary. Besides, he had a job to do. Moving lightly on tiptoes, twirling here and there to avoid possible traps, he scouted out the rest of the hallway.
Well, Bern thought as moved and pirouetted, the torch head sparking in protest, with his torch out in front of him, this is a tomb. By its shape and what Carric said, this once was something else. But damned if I know what it had been.
During the heydays of goblin dominance over the continent the passageway had probably held arrow slits, or perhaps had been an armory of some sort. But whatever purpose it had served gave up its ghost well before now. As a casualty to time, it was now occupied by dual sarcophagi. Each of them held meticulous carvings, obsidian in color, that portrayed the shapely bodies of the courtesans that lay within.
Bern observed the large triple D busts with great approval.
“You know, these ladies were pretty tight!” he said back over his shoulder to the rest of them. “Hot, even, if you are into that sort of thing.”
Carric snorted in surprise, the air whooshing out of his nose.
The heavy black onyx decorations glittered in the torch light, showing a place of once tremendous wealth.
“So what do we do now?” Tracy asked, eyes bright and curious.
“Why don’t we just, you know, run in and open them up?” Yenrab asked, full of naive bravado. “I mean, I’m big and tough, ya know and not to brag, but I’m pretty agile, too. I think I can handle it.”
“We have to worry about traps, mate. We don’t know what might be set in here, nor do we know how tough they might be. We can’t just waltz on in and hope for the best,” reminded Bern.
“He’s right,” Carric affirmed. “It’s the way of the dungeon delver, as detailed in the bardic tapper tune ‘Search for Traps, uh uh uh, Search for Traps.’”
“Not a very good name, that one,” Bern remarked with a sardonic grin.
“Yeah. It’s not a very good tune either,” Carric chuckled.
Tracy examined the room from the entryway in his regular, quizzical fashion.
“Guys, if we just wait at the threshold, I can accomplish a great deal using the phantasmal force of my mage hand. I can manifest it to exert up to ten pounds of pressure. Surely, that will be enough to probe the place quite thoroughly?”
“Mage hand? What’s that?” Yenrab questioned him, his eyes alive as he leaned in to listen.
“Using the sorcerous energy about us, I can create a third hand for myself. One of energy, not that strong, but good enough for poking and prodding,” Tracy explained. “It isn’t even all that hard. I sometimes do it when I sleep.”
“Yeah,” Bern Sandros affirmed. “That’s better than a pole or a stick. And when he’s done, I can go forward and check the lids for any sorts of wires, pressure springs, latches, yadda yadda that might cause some chaos. I’m well-trained in finding such things.”
“Sounds great. I’m brilliant. Let’s do it,” stated Tracy. With arcane gestures and a lot of unnecessary hopping, a dainty hand made of blue and white crackling energy came to focus, not appearing so much as just suddenly being noticed. Tracy Riley grunted like a squat sumo wrestler about to thump his foot down and it moved forward.
“Bern keep looking about and when you feel confident the place has been sufficiently probed, go on in and check it more precisely for traps. Then let’s tear those sarcophagi open.”
The rest laughed at his remark.
“Shut it or I’ll sufficiently probe you.”
They all shut up about it, though not without a snicker or two.
Carric’s brows furrowed and he frowned. “Should we worry about the morality of doing this?”
“No, Carric. The slavery our ancestors endured over the millennia of Gharagian Goblin rule entitles us to anything entombed here,” resolved Bern, his face unreadable, his tone well understood.
Plus, we’re maybe talking mad amounts of coins and gems, the human thought to himself. No way some squirrelly nonsense is gonna get in the way of all this.
The others murmured assent unaccompanied by any pretense of a debate. Carric nodded without hesitation and the operation began in earnest.