Saturday, June 5, 2021

Tales from the Rattlebones Tavern: Men of Living Metal...

... or Dungeons are a Gas!

The Men of Living Metal

Characters Present
Annapurna, 4th level Altanian  Ranger
Beerbane, 4th level Altanian Berserker Barbarian
Ion Skamos, 4th level Tiefling Cleric of Set
Sobek-Ra, 4th level Orichalan Dragonblood Sorcerer

  • Sobek-Ra returned to his compatriots and described the situation about the strange complex the Viridians were investigating. They debated what to do for some time, but the horrible thunderstorm they were in precluded their initial plan of setting fire to the Viridian camp, though each flash of lightning seemed to set off a cloud of methane within the Vapor hills in mockery of this fact.
  • Sobek-Ra also told of a side passage which led into a cave. They agreed that they should scout this out to see if it could lead to the rear of the Viridians, or perhaps to the "eye" they sought.
  • Using the cover of the pouring rain and the onset of dusk, the four made their way into the cave, which Annapurna was disturbed to find covered in a reeking fluid like the runoff from a mine. It seemed this fluid occasionally burbled up methane, which made the journey perilous and also meant that Ion and Sobek-Ra had to led their human companions closely.
  • Soon they found a large hall made of an opalescent black metal. This hall also contained a noxious gas, created - they soon learned - by the mixture of the methane and some strange components held within large metal boxes. This gas, unlike that of the cave tunnel, was not flammable, but burned Sobek-Ra's nostrils as he held his breath and tried to explore the room without suffocating.
  • Eventually it was decided that this room should be passed by, and the four all covered their mouths and hoped for the best, moving through it at great speed.
  • Further down the tunnel they came to a large chamber... filled with orange crocodiles! They seem to have been changed by bathing in the impure water of the cave.
  • Ion Skamos called upon the Slithering Lord of Darkness to cloak them in a cloud of fog, and they fled from the crocodiles, whom they worried would prove too much for them.
  • There was then some discussion of if the poison gas from earlier could be blown out onto the waiting Viridians, but Ion knew his spells well enough to know that by the time they made it to the camp he would've merely dispersed the gas until it was harmless.
  • So they decided to do a variant of this instead, blowing wind down the chamber to clear it of the gas. This was done easily and the party preceded to the first door within.
  • Beyond, they found a section of cavern with stairs added of the same opalescent black metal as the gas chamber.
a re-enactment* of the action
  • These they ascended and soon found themselves in combat with strange men made of the same metal! They knew quickly that these were no suits of armor, as blows through landed on neither flesh nor bone and no blood spilled from these strange beings.
  • Beerbane rushed forward to face them but soon found himself surrounded. Luckily this was quickly rectified by Ion Skamos who used a thunderous blast to send one of the metal-men flying backwards into a metallic chest which spilled silver coins everywhere.
  • Soon the metal men were defeated, with comparatively few resources used by the four adventurers; however, now that they had a fair amount of treasure, and since this was only meant to be a scouting mission, they decided to exit and make camp in the swiftly approaching night. 
the party's location at the end of the session
  • The terrible storm gave way in the night to an unbearable mugginess, common in the subtropical lands of the World Emperor.
  • Knowing that they would be unlikely to return to civilization any time soon, they decided they should bury the treasure they currently had. Since Annapurna is better versed in forests than in hills, they descended back into the Elsenwood for the burial. There they marked the spot by means Annapurna would remember.
  • They then made their way back into the vapor hills and set camp in mid afternoon, hoping to wait until dusk to again plumb the strange structure the viridians had found.
4200sp, 2 black jade "crab men" statues (150gp each), 2 metal crates (100gp each)

XP Per Player

* I neglected at the time to take a screenshot, so I recreated it with the tokens I had to hand later. I also didn't make the tokens you see for the metal men until after the session when I found a Krull comic I could use.


  1. Great looking map! What software did you use to make it?
    Do you find 5th edition DnD be better for running sandboxes than older editions or retroclones?

    1. If you mean the dungeon/battle map, I made that using Dungeondraft. If you mean the overland map, that was made by Rob Conley. He has had a falling out with the current Judges Guild over some absolutely horrid comments made by Bob Bledsaw II, so I would contact him to see what he thinks about buying those maps from them.

      As far as 5e goes, I think it works well enough (especially with Xanathar's random encounter tables as a kind of guide to making your own), though if I had my druthers I'd be running a retroclone. I switched in order to get a group at a local game store and I find 5e palatable enough, but the amount of magic assumed in the rules often grates on me. Luckily, I find it has a lot of analogs for things that were originally in the Wilderlands and in my own setting of Nightwick.

    2. Thanks for the answers!

      I am currently trying to run a semi-sandbox game in 5th edition with plenty of dungeon crawling. What I like is that characters can take around 6 encounters per rest, which works fine in big and medium dungeons. The amount of magical abilities is indeed a bit bothering, and I also have a feeling that the PCs are too overpowered and players are not afraid of combat anymore (now it's more combat as a sport vs combat as a war. It is not easy to die in 5th edition). I miss higher lethality and cautious planning, but it seems to me players enjoy being more powerful.

  2. Literally the first time I've heard of someone else's group burying treasure that they didn't want to haul around all over the place. So nice to see other folks being sensible. Almost makes you not want to have them come back and find the loot stolen, eaten, or with an ambush set up around it. :)

    Also, thanks for the orange crocodiles idea. I'd been mulling over what color to paint that mutant crocogator mini that's been sitting in the work queue for ages and a warm orange scheme sounds like a fine idea. Greens and browns are just too everyday. It can always be some elemental beast if need be.

    1. I borrowed it from a news item from a couple of years ago you can find here: