Halls of the Minotaur – Session 1, Part 4

In which a careful water crossing goes awry.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Thornwood, a troop of eleven villagers emerges from a narrow path to find themselves at the edge of a ravine. It’s about 15′ down to a series of rocky falls that descend to the west, over which rushes a roaring brook. Lying across the top of the ravine, bridging the gap to the other side, is the trunk of  massive tree. Since the path picks up again on the other side, the tree appears to have been placed there on purpose.

Luckily, the PCs had found the silk rope in the saddlebag, which enables them to make a plan for a safe crossing. Sigbert — who, as a fisherman, knows a thing or two about knots — ties one end of the rope in a safety harness around Stillman‘s waist and chest. Stillman insists on taking his pigs with him, so Sigbert does his best to secure the squirmy, slippery swine, and Stillman takes one in each arm, arguing that he will use them for balance. Stillman has been treating his pigs more like trained dogs, and says he raises them for companionship, not meat, so I rule that once he picks them up they completely relax.

Finmunni the dwarf and Devon the undertaker, the strongest members of this contingent, take hold of the end of the rope, with back up from some of the remaining characters. Stillman steps up onto the mossy log and begins to walk across, balancing carefully with his pigs. He gets nearly halfway across before the log suddenly gives way, breaking in the middle where the denizens of the Thornwood had sawed mostly through the wood. Stillman fails his Reflex save to jump back, and falls into the ravine with the two halves of the broken log.

But! The PCs had specified keeping the safety line taut, so instead of falling 15′ to the rocks below, Stillman and his porcine pals swing back to strike the wall of the ravine. I have him make a Luck roll to see if he hits a sharp rock or a smooth surface, and he makes the roll, so no damage. I have Sigbert make a DC 10 Intelligence check to see if his ropework was good enough to secure the piggies, and he makes it, so neither one of them pops free of the makeshift harness. After some tension and shouting, everyone sees that Stillman is okay, and the dwarf and undertaker lower him gently to the rocks below.

The new plan is to cross the slippery rocks of the stream and secure the rope on the far side so the that rest of the group can use it as a guyline to cross safely. Without batting an eye, and still clutching his pigs, Stillman  makes the DC 7 Agility check to cross the slippery rocks. Once on the other side, he puts the pigs down, but decides to keep the rope wrapped around himself so that he can be the anchor for the guyline.

One by one, the rest of the crew carefully descends via the rope (which is barely long enough), still anchored up top by Finmunni and Devon.  I tell everyone that, because of the rope and everyone spotting everyone else they will only fail the descent on a roll of 1; everyone except Finmunni makes it down easily enough, and she makes the DC 10 climb roll to get down without the aid of the rope. I rule that crossing the slippery rocks via guyline calls for no rolls, so in short order ten of them are crowded along the rocks on the far side of the stream. Finmunni again brings up the rear, bringing the end of the rope with her, and makes the DC 7 Agility check to cross.

The ascent on the far side, alas, does not go as well. Stillman makes it up with one end of the rope, and everyone else ascends without incident. Colby the butcher is the last to climb, and rolls a 1. At the start of the game I had reminded everyone about burning Luck, and told them I wasn’t going to remind them again. No one suggests that he burn Luck to make the roll, and I keep my mouth shut. I rule that he loses his grip near the top of the ravine, and falls the full 15′. They had neglected to specify any special safety precautions, and the module as written says anyone who falls into this ravine from the top suffers 1d4-2 points of damage. I roll the die in front of everyone: 3-2 is 1; Colby only has 1 hp. A collective gasp goes up when everyone hears his yelp, then the sickening crack of his skull on the rocks. Peering over the cliff edge, they see his body lying motionless. There is a period of stupefied silence. Devon, not wishing to descend again into the ravine, laments the inability to give the dead man a proper burial. Durwen utters a prayer aloud to the heavens.

May Arimar bless Colby the Butcher, who will never get a chance to taste minotaur meat. Dead from a fifteen-foot fall into a rocky ravine. No one will miss the bad smell that followed him around, but he did have some decent stats.