This is a play report from the first time I ever ran the Underworld (then called the Lost Lands). It used a system created from scratch by me and two of the players. I've since lost the notes on the system, and it wasn't much to my liking. It was my attempt to make a system that conformed to the "Quick Primer for Old School Gaming," but that would still appeal to my more new school players. I found the compromise unacceptable, and would now use OD&D to run it.
The following provides very little commentary on the system, or how I prepped for this session. It's from over two years ago and was used on my campaign wiki to help players who weren't present get up to speed. For those of you interested in how I plan for sessions or things of that nature, sadly there is little in this post for you. Still it does provide, I think, a good model for what the Underworld is like.
It was noon on the first day of the Festival of the Python when the thieves first met in the square. Mundi and Acantha, two sorcerers in the thrall of lord Ajaxos, had asked Illoannes to bring with him some men adept in the separating of items from their owners. This he did in the form of two Khemian thieves he had caught stealing in the markets earlier that very week. These men were named Hamid and Habbab.
Together the thieves made their way into the Plaza of Pleasures. Travelers thronged the streets and choked the vast parks and monuments which littered that section of the city. Through a rouse devised by Illoannes, the party gained entrance into the sewers where Ajaxos had said the bones he required lay. The sewers of Ilion are made from the catacombs which served the city in the years before the Oligarchs.
They slipped in unseen but soon found that the dank bone-yard was filled with patrolling guards and fouler denizens. These they slew through wit and brawn.
Coming upon a guard room, Illoanes showed his characteristic cleverness again as he not only managed to slip by the guards, but convince them to reveal the location of the Tomb of Orontes!
In the tomb itself they found a massive sarcophagus ringed by an equally massive, black pool. Using quite a bit of ingenuity the party was able to lift off the lid of the sarcophagus and use it as bridge to cross the ink dark pool. Acantha and Habbab remained on the far side while the rest of the party moved toward the great burial place of Ilion’s first and only king. They found him adorned in a set of opulent gold armor in the fashion of the men of Ilion, only with a death mask of blue jade and set of strange, silvery grieves.
They had little time to ponder these though. As soon as they had placed the bones of the old king into a sack acquired for that purpose, the lid-made-bridge flew into the air with great force and landed in front of the entrance to a small side passage.
Up from the pool it came wriggling and heaving. It was great and terrible in size. So great in fact that its bulk shoved Acantha into the chamber from which the thieves had entered. It’s face, if it had a face, was a mass of terrible feelers like that of an octopus. Each feeler was well near the length of a trireme, and covered in a hundred-odd hideous, cackling mouths. Its backside was simple a pallid sack of immense proportions covered here and there with oily blisters. The creature wrapped one of its tentacles around Hamid, who quickly cut it off. The two sorcerer’s put their minds to work in an attempt to banish the beast to the nightmarish Abyss from whence it came. Habbab alternated between attempting to remove the lid from the entrance to the side passage – in order that he might facilitate an escape – and feathering the beast with arrows. Indeed it was one of these arrows which finally felled the creature.
The beast collapsed in a great heap and as quick as the mind could process dissolved into a viscous, green fluid. This fluid sank back into the black pool from which the beast had issued. The thieves then made quick work in getting back to the street.
They found that night was fast approaching, and the sun flickered as it does before extinguishing each night in the Lost Lands. The sorcerers and Illoannes made their way to the house of Ajaxos, while Hamid sold the death mask of the First King to the last open street vendor before darkness covered the city of Ilion.