Monday, October 16, 2017

First Dragon Rampant Army Complete!

Yesterday, I hit a huge milestone in my career as a miniature painter and wargamer. 

I completed an army.  For the first time ever, (not counting things like a Frostgrave warband) I have finished building and painting an army for a game.  I put the last dabs of paint and flock on the last units I needed to do for my 24 point Undead army for Dragon Rampant, "the Skeletal Legions of Nesuahyrrah." I'm also only two units away from finishing my second army, the Men of Anhur, so I'll be able to start putting on some demo games soon enough - I've got some interest locally already.

I kept my list fairly simple:


  • Lich (Heavy Missiles, Undead - No Feelings, Summoner, Single Model Unit, Army Leader) - 7
  • Skeleton Warriors (Light Foot, Undead - No Feelings) - 3
  • Skeleton Warriors (Light Foot, Undead - No Feelings) - 3
  • Skeleton Berserkers (Bellicose Foot, Undead - No Feelings) - 4
  • Wraiths (Heavy Riders, Undead - No Feelings, Venomous, Reduced Model Unit) - 7
The idea being to keep at least some of the skeletons off the table at the start of game and summoning them as reinforcements mid-battle, and using the Wraiths as real heavy hitters to hammer an opponent's more powerful units.  I've got some ideas of where I'd like to go in expanding this army for larger games as well.  

Everyone together.

The Lich, calling up reinforcements.

Two units of Light Foot.

Skeleton Berserkers.

Wraiths.
I'm not stopping at two armies, however.  Because I've really fallen in love with the Dragon Rampant rules, I'm planning on building multiple armies for variety in demo games as well as for use in larger, multi-player games eventually.  Because I'm a lunatic like that.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 12

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 4
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 4
Zerin of Birdsall, Half-Elf Paladin 4
Jager, Human Fighter 4 (Replacing Zerin)
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4
Mara, Human Cleric 3
Flora, Half-Elf Cleric 3 (Replacing Mara)
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 3
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 3
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 4

Just after dawn, a posse of five men rode into town, most of them rough-hewn, hard-bitten men with steel loose in their scabbards; the fifth a poncey git with waxed mustache and van dyke, ostrich-feathered hat and slashed silk doublet.  The ponce, identifying himself as Sir Bosch, demanding the surrender of "the criminal gnome," producing a wanted poster from the town of Craghold, declaring a bounty on Cor for "arson, manslaughter, attempted regicide and insurance fraud." It was explained that the Broken Blade, the inn Cor bought for a song in Craghold, burned down right after he left town, which looked very suspicious.  The fact that Cor had invited Lord Vesper to stay at the inn shortly before this had the Lord, already paranoid, very suspicious of the gnome's intentions.

The party refused to turn over Cor, and when Sir Bosch was killed for refusing to stand down, three of his four henchmen just shrugged his shoulders and left.  The fourth, it's revealed, is Jager, who had formerly fought under Mivahl's command up north and whose life Mivahl had saved once, years before. 

like this, but with beefy arms and stork legs.
With Zerin and Mara staying behind to administer to the town of New Dawn, Jager was invited to join the party as they went to Craghold to demand answers.  The three day trip was uneventful, save for picking up Flora, another cleric of Mishakal, and an encounter with a strange, man-sized bird-monster, with shining steel feathers and beak and a pair of big, muscular human arms, ending in weapons instead of hands.  The bird was no match for the party, and they quickly dispatched it, with Lasair's arrow to the brain ending the abomination's life.  They took a number of feathers - primarily long flight feathers from the wings, but Cor took several tail feathers as well - for future study. 

Arriving in Craghold, Jager and Kholark negotiated with Borut, the town bailiff, for the bounty, arguing that the wanted poster just listed bringing the gnome to Borut for the reward.  Borut assented, and handed a bag containing 500 golden suns to Kholark. 

When Cor demanded the opportunity to prove his innocence, it was announced that he would face Trial by Drama; a team of prosecuting actors would put on a play depicting their version of Cor's actions, and then the party would put on a play in Cor's defense.  Innocence would be decided by audience reaction.  Taking a full day to prepare, the party's various spellcasters prepared various illusion spells to make their case more compelling while debating which details to include and whether or not to try and pin the arson on the inn's former owner, Tetra, as well as how much of what they knew about their being a demon in the basement of the Broken Blade to mention. 

Cor was deeply offended by the prosecution's performance; from casting a human achondroplasic dwarf to play him to suggesting that the arson was performed as an outlet for the gnome's deep-seated sexual frustration, Cor seethed through the entire performance.  [DM's Note: I actually got down on my knees and performed a bit of the "Winter of our Discontent" soliloquy from Shakespeare's Richard III to play the prosecution's portrayal of Cor.  ACTING!]

Putting on their rebuttal, the party told a tale of fighting a demon in the basement of the Broken Blade, believing it slain, and it returning to torch the inn out of spite after they left before pursuing them, and that they finally laid the demon to permanent rest in New Dawn.  With an illusion spell cast over Kholark to portray the demon and narration by Dormammu, the party swung the crowd in their favor, eking out a ruling of innocent for Cor. 

Recognizing that Lord Vesper was not happy with this and was itching to hang someone for some crime, the party offers their services as witch-hunters; since someone must have summoned the demon the Craghold.  Given that rumors swirl throughout the principalities that Lord Vesper's wife consorts with demons, and fearing that a cult-cell similar to the one they rooted out in New Dawn may be at play in Craghold, the party wants to get to the bottom of this and managed to bargain Vesper into agreeing to pay 500 gold for the delivery of a witch. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 11

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 4
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 3
Zerin of Birdsall, Half-Elf Paladin 4
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 4
Mara, Human Cleric 3
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 3
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 3
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 3

Following the memorial service led by Mara, a number of the villagers at the town formerly known as Rodrigosburgh, but now rechristened "New Dawn," approached Mara asking for more information about the worship of Mishakal, and to ask her to take over the Cathedral at New Dawn, making it a site holy to Mishakal.  The townsfolk were very upset to hear that the cathedral had been promised to the Cult of Bormo, arguing that a religion of drinking, wrestling and fornicating was not appropriate to raise their children in.  The adventurers ultimately agreed with the town's reasoning, and it was decided to consecrate the cathedral to Mishakal, adding a shrine to Bormo to the Triumphant Hare, the inn now owned by Cor. 

The party decided to investigate the dwarven catacombs under the Golden Castle again, in search of the hidden treasure chamber the demon had held over them as a bribe.  They found the chamber, behind a trick wall.  Opening the doorway, they found a short hallway leading to another door; Mivahl, entering, stepped on a pressure plate.  Glass plates, two inches thick, slammed down, sealing half the party into the short hallway and half the party outside. A nozzle opened in the ceiling, long-still gears whirring to life. 

Unwilling to wait to be dosed with poison gas, Cor cast Shatter, blasting the glass plates to splinters and destroying the reservoir in the ceiling above - resulting in the long-dormant Black Pudding contained in the ceiling above pouring down on them all at once, rather than being sprayed at them in a pressurized stream. 

The vast blob of inky blackness poured down, spilling over Mivahl as he tried to block its descent with his shield.  The party attacked the slithering shadow pooling around their ankles, with the Pudding splitting twice, forming three attacking slimes - once divided by Zerin's sword, and once by a lightning spell cast by Cor.  The Puddings flailed out with pseudopods but failed again and again to connect, while the party pounded on them with blunt weapons and non-electrical spells.  Ultimately, the Pudding was beaten into so much lifeless slime. 

Beyond the second door, the party found wealth beyond anything the demon had hinted at - 470 platinum pieces, 500 electrum pieces, 1,000 gold pieces, 3,900 silver pieces, and 9,500 copper pieces, as well as a Cloak of Elvenkind and a Brooch of Shielding.  Lasair took the Cloak and one of the casters [I want to say Dormammu, but I honestly forget at the moment as there was a lot of debate over who should have it] took the Brooch.  Ultimately, the party took only a small amount of money for themselves, deciding to devote the remainder of the cash to making improvements to the town of New Dawn. 

The next day, Anoroc, last priest of Bormo, arrived in New Dawn, riding a wagon drawn by his trusty bear companion Jaroslav, carrying the ceremonial items of Bormoism, including his ceremonial head-gear -- the dwarven equivalent of a baseball cap with cup-holders on the side.  He also had the Book of Bormo, a scrap-book of weightlifting advice, protein shake recipes, brewing tips and softcore dwarven pornography.  It's not every holy book that has a centerfold, but the Book of Bormo does - an image of a chainmail bikini-clad dwarf woman bench-pressing a zebra. 

Once Anoroc was situated, the party took stock of their situation and debated their next move.  They decided to return to Craghold to see how Cor's first inn was doing, then zig-zag up the Maw to Molekh to treat with the Great Khan about hanging on to the lance Empyreal Vengeance for the time being, and then try their luck again with the undead knights of the Groaning Keep.  From there they will head west, where Mivahl wants to challenge Duke Beldor to a joust - the Duke having a long-standing offer to name the first challenger to unseat him as his heir.  Once that is addressed, they will head south-west to investigate claims of an ancient road of enormous stone blocks, all carved like dragon scales, half-sunk in the slimy waters of the Dismal Swamp. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 10

This was one of the most emotionally intense sessions I've ever run, of any RPG ever.  Players reported afterwards that their hands were shaking during play.

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 3
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 3
Zerin of Birdsall, Half-Elf Paladin 3
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 3
Mara, Human Cleric 3
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 3
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 3 (out for the session)
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 3

Picking up where we left off last week, Kholark and Hobgoblin Recruit #1 (honestly, I forget the names I gave them) pretty handily wiped the floor with Magro, the commander of the guard at the Golden Castle, and Generic Castle Guard #14, though Magro left some serious bruises on Kholark.

As Zerin explained to Count Rodrigo the flaws in his delusional belief that he's the deposed heir to
Glabrezu by VegasMike
the Empire and the failures of his military stratagem, a spearblade erupted from Rodrigo's chest, and then the unthinkable - Rodrigo's body, spurting gore, twisted inside-out like high-speed footage of a blossoming flower of raw, bloody meat.  Behind him manifested a 12-foot, four-armed demon, the Glabrezu that the party has known was manipulating events at the Golden Castle and the associated village of Rodrigosburgh (which hadn't been named until this session).  In its hands, the enchanted lance known as the Empyreal Vengeance.

The horror of watching Rodrigo's body turn inside out blasted the minds of everyone watching - Kholark, Mivahl, Mara took off running, their psyches savaged.  The two hobgoblin recruits' heads exploded like in SCANNERS, as did a number of the assembled townsfolk.  A fairly large number.

Scraping the remnants of Rodrigo off the lance, the demon boomed, "He was of no further use to me. The question now is, will you vagabonds serve my purposes? You have eliminated my agents here, and awoken this unwitting dupe to my manipulations. Shall I simply kill you? You were kind enough to desecrate the dwarven catacombs and allow me entrance to find the Vengeance for myself. Let none say that Ygo-Ythorr, Puppetmaster of the Seventh Tier, is without gratitude. This, I offer to you; your lives and freedom, plus the accumulated wealth of the dead dwarves below. An entire hidden room of buried treasure. All this will I give to thee, if you will just bend the knee to Ygo-Ythorr."

A swipe of the demon's claw dropped Zerin to the ground, bleeding and unconscious, while a Power Word: Stun put Dormammu out of commission.  Cor and Sylvus swiftly dropped to their knees.

Transferring the lance to the crook of an elbow, Ygo-Ythorr stalked forward.  "I know you're in there," he smirked at Dormammu, "Will you serve?"

Moving on, the demon picked Cor up off the ground, licking a taloned fingertip and carving a symbol into the gnome's forehead, marking him.  Mivahl took this opportunity to grab the lance from the demon and stab the fiend in the side, but was seized and crushed in one of Ygo-Ythorr's claws, dropping the lance as he lost consciousness. Kholark grabbed the fallen lance and drove the point into the demon's wounded flank as Mara began firing off healing spells.  Conscious and recovered, Zerin charged in, laying a Divine Smite across the demon's back.  Shrugging off the stun, Dormammu began throwing Eldritch Blasts, while Cor, back on the ground, began casting Magic Missiles into the fiend's chest.

Ygo-Ythorr lashed out again and again with his giant claws, sending Mivahl and Zerin flying, and punched Cor in the face with one of its slender, clawed hands.  Surrounded, however, the flurry of attacks being directed at him (especially once Kholark flew into a frenzy) began to wear the demon down, and finally, Kholark drove the lance deep into the fiend's side - a shockwave shook the entire battlefield, and the demon's already lifeless body was thrown back 70 feet, impacting a cottage and blasting it to matchsticks. Cor took off running with unprecedented gnomish speed, undoing his belt as he ran; he managed to clamber on top of Ygo-Ythorr's rapidly-sublimating corpse and drop a victory deuce on the demon before it completely evaporated. 

In the aftermath of the battle, the party healed up and took stock; 180 townsfolk were dead, plus Count Rodrigo.  Mara was the closest thing the town had to a local priest.  The cathedral had never been consecrated in the first place.

While Kholark rested (he had gained two levels of exhaustion from frenzying), the rest of the party led efforts to bury the dead and comfort the survivors.  Deciding to bring in Anoroc to consecrate the cathedral to Bormo, Dormammu sent Francis to deliver the invitation.  Delighted, Anoroc set out on his way to Rodrigosburgh, despite a heavy thunderstorm rolling into the region.

Zerin took some time with a local carpenter, Tavish, crafting wooden holy symbols representing Bormo, Mara's goddess Mishakal, and his own deity, Fharlanghn.  Zerin inquired about Tavish's religious beliefs, and those of the community.  He finds the local population to be more spiritual than religious, offering prayers to agricultural deities and having some vague inclination towards the Church of Law (which is akin to the Catholic Church in my setting, widespread and the official religion of the large empire to the north)

Two days after the battle, Mara leads the surviving community in prayer, conducting a stirring, nondenominational memorial service to honor those who died.  Afterwards, Kholark stood up, and delivered a crude testimonial to how his worship of Bormo, god of bears, beards, drinking contests and manly wrestling, aided him in defeating the demon.  A few people in the assembled crowd nodded thoughtfully.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 9

I think at this point the Iron Principalities game is the longest-running fantasy game I've run in something like five years, is three sessions away from tying for longest campaign I've run, period, in five years.  Whether it will surpass the Call of Cthulhu campaign I ran in college remains to be seen. 

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 3
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 3
Zerin of Birdsall, Half-Elf Paladin 3
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 3
Mara, Human Cleric 3
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 3
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 3
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 3

Resuming where we left off last week, the party entered a large, circular room and challenged the two animated suits of armor that guarded the only other doorway.  It was a slow, arduous fight for our heroes; blows that would have sundered armor and crushed limbs of a mortal foe seemed to glance off the enchanted suits of ancient dwarven plate that confronted them.  Finally, however, the party finished off the pair, with Zerin striking the killing blow on both of them.  The suits collapsing into pieces, Cor shoved as many pieces as he could into his Handy Haversack, filling it to capacity. 

Unlocking the other door, within they found a gigantic stone sarcophagus, laying on an even larger dais, the walls covered in intricate bas-relief carvings.  Sending Dormammu's imp, Francis P. Mordo, in to scout, Dormammu is able to read the inscriptions on the sarcophagus, identifying it as the final resting place of Magister Eckhardt, the Sword of Justice, Last of his Clan. 

Francis, acting on his own initiative, tried to lift the sarcophagus lid, wrenching his tiny spine in the process.  As the imp groaned, "My back!" one of the dwarven figures in the bas reliefs detached itself from the wall - a lumbering, 10-foot stone dwarf, lurching towards the imp, fists raised menacingly. 

Already tired and drained from fighting the armors, the party found themselves drawn into a fight against this guardian statue - all except Zerin, who stood back, arms crossed over his chest.  "The imp got himself into this, he can get himself out," he declared. 

The fight against the statue was even harder than the fight against the armors - blades and arrows bounced ineffectively off its stony exterior, though the flails wielded by Kholark and Mivahl were a bit more effective.  Eventually, however, they managed to wear the statue down and Sylvus, in wolf form, dealt the killing blow, chomping down and shivering the battered stone to splinters. 

"Untiring guardians" defeated, the party forced open the sarcophagus, expecting to find the magic lance, the Empyreal Vengeance, inside.  Instead, inside a series of successively-smaller, nesting sarcophagi, the party found the remains of Magister Eckhardt, a scroll case emanating magic clenched in his bony hands and a magical amulet around his neck.  The amulet, Lisair was able to determine, was connected to the statue they had just destroyed; the statue would guard the wearer as long as they wore the amulet. 

Inside the scroll case, they found two sheets of seemingly-blank vellum that radiated powerful magic. 

Recognizing that they'd explored only a fraction of the complex but needed to rest, the party returned to the surface, Lisair burgling the jewels and finery of the dwarven mummies they'd passed on their way in on her way out, netting - by her estimation - over 500 GP worth of jewelry.  Cor, examining the gold and platinum filigree and inset gems on the pieces of armor he'd taken, estimated their value at 500,000 GP.  He may be mistaken. 

Spending the night in the castle, in the morning, refreshed and ready to go, they first went to the cathedral, where Mara was able to determine the site had never been properly consecrated, but was not necessarily desecrated into unholy ground.  The acolyte priest tried to run when he saw them, but was swiftly captured and interrogated, revealing his and Father Markus' involvement in a demon cult broken into terrorist-style cells, working on missions across the land to further the overall goals of their unseen masters.  They turn the acolyte over to Count Rodrigo, who orders him placed in stocks, to be hanged tomorrow. 

Questioning Count Rodrigo to determine the depths of his delusional belief that he is the heir to the Empire to the north, Zerin decides to try and break Rodrigo of his delusions; he proposes a mock-duel, between Rodrigo's bellicose drill sergeant Magro and one of his men, and Kholark and one of Mivahl's hobgoblin charges.  If Kholark and the hobgoblin win, Zerin proposes, Count Rodrigo should give up his mad dream of ruling the Empire. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Still Painting

Lest anyone thing I've abandoned miniature painting for strictly running RPGs, I have been slowly but steadily puttering away at a pair of demo armies for Osprey's Dragon Rampant - the undead "Legion of Nesuahyrrah" and the stalwart "Men of Sabaton."

The fiction I've got in my head has Sabaton as a frontier province, rough and barely-claimed, the Baron and his soldiers working tirelessly to tame and civilize the region and bring it into the Empire.  They don't have enough men, they don't have the best armor and weapons, but they've dug in their heels and refuse to give an inch.  Most of the figures are Reaper "Anhurians," a pseudo-Norman bunch wearing chainmail shirts and open-face helms with nose-guards.

I've previously shown the Baron and his bodyguards:




Now joining them (just bases left to finish) are a unit of archers (Reaper Anhurian Bowmen) and some heavy cavalry - Wargames Foundry's Norman Knights.






Both of these units were slow-going and a bit of a pain.  I think I must not have cleaned the mold grease off these bowmen well enough, something I'm usually very careful about.  The paint has not wanted to stick to the plastic and took every opportunity to pull away from the material.

As for the riders, both men and horses had a TON of excess metal to be trimmed off, especially between the horses' legs.  My can of spray primer was running low too, so the horses especially ended up with a little bit of a spotty coat - especially in the creases of their manes and tails, primer just didn't end up there.  So I had to go over each figure with black paint by hand afterwards.  One of the riders had lost his hand in transit, and I clipped a plastic hand off a Fireforge knights sprue to replace it.  Throughout the painting process I was constantly finding more little bits of excess metal or mold lines that I had missed at every prior point.  Very frustrating.

I'm not a fan of painting horses in the first place (not sure why, they just irritate me to do) so this might be my last cavalry regiment for a while.  I have two more units to do for this army - a unit of Anhurian Spearmen (with an attached priestess providing some magical support) and a unit of war dogs.

Moving on to the Legion of Nesuahyrrah...

These are the undead legions of the Lich Nesuahyrrah, an ancient undead spellcaster.  I imagine the Lich ruling over a swath of territory that the Men of Sabaton are now trying to exert influence over, and he's not having it.  Calling up the bones of long-dead warriors, Nesuahyrrah strikes and strikes hard to reinforce his sovereignty.

(of course, "Nesuahyrrah" is "Harryhausen" backwards, in tribute to the late, great Ray Harryhausen, who animated so many memorable monsters for the silver screen, not least being the seven skeleton warriors in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS)

I've previously shown off Nesuahyrrah himself, as well as the unit of Wraiths he commands.


I have finished their bases since this photo was taken!

Joining them now is a unit of Skeleton Berserkers, armed with big two-handed swords and axes.


I have one more unit to paint for this army, at least in its initial 24-point form, and that's a unit of Skeleton Warriors with swords and shields.  I anticipate adding more skeletons to it in the future, either for larger point games or to sub in place of the Wraiths - which make up a full third of the warband, points wise, being classed as Heavy Riders (for hitting power and speed), with the Fly and Cause Fear fantastical rules added on.  This is, understandably, a big investment in a single unit, so there are going to be games where I just want to have an extra 24 skeletons in their place and overwhelm opponents with numbers.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Iron Principalities, Session 8

So this week was interesting - I went in vastly underprepared compared to even the loosey-goosey way I normally run these Iron Principalities games, as I'd been prepping to run three sessions of Call of Cthulhu, back to back to back, this past Saturday at Queen City Conquest in Buffalo.

Dramatis Personae:
Kholark Sunderstone, Half-Orc Barbarian 3
Dormammu, Half-Elf Warlock 3
Zerin of Birdsall, Half-Elf Paladin 3
Mivahl Shimov, Human Fighter 3
Mara, Human Cleric 2
Cor, Rock Gnome Wizard 3
Lasair Lightfoot, Wood Elf Rogue 3
Sylvus Treeshroud, Wood Elf Druid 3

When we last left our heroes, Zerin had his blade to the throat of the apparently-villainous priest Father Markus, while Sylvus had Count Rodrigo held and threatened.  Mivahl quickly sent the guards running with a threatening wave of his flail.

Knocked unconscious, Markus dropped a small red gem he'd palmed - which, when it shattered on the floor, released a towering entity of flame, a fire elemental eight or nine feet tall.  Zerin and Sylvus were on fire before they could react, while Kholark raged and charged the flaming entity and Cor blasted it with a casting of Tasha's Hideous Laughter.

Doubled over in hysterics, the elemental fell to the ground on top of the unconscious Father Markus.  The creature lashed out with fists of flame, igniting the clothing of Kholark as well.  Though it was a hard-won fight, the party eventually won over the creature, with Mivahl delivering the killing blow, his flail extinguishing the elemental like a candle in the wind.

Getting more details from Count Rodrigo (Dormammu cast Suggestion on him), the party learned that Father Markus, and an entity he served whom Count Rodrigo had only ever seen as balefully-glowing eyes in a darkened room, and flattered and toadied their way into Rodrigo's confidence, feeding his ego while encouraging him to take part in sinful rites.  With Father Markus gone and Dormammu's influence over him strengthening, Rodrigo agreed to return the body of the stone giant Petroikodromos to his brother, Lithotomos and pay the agreed upon price for the brothers' labor.

Unfortunately for the party, Rodrigo has no idea where the enchanted lance known as Empyreal Vengeance was, believing it to be no more than a legend.  He did admit, however, that the watchtower he'd claimed as his castle was built over an ancient dwarven ruin which had never, to his knowledge, been investigated.

Lithotomos, however, was able to provide aid, in the form of a small, mole-shaped Earth Elemental.  While incapable of understanding the finer details of the adventurers' questions, Mole was able to find where a trap door leading into the dwarven ruin had been mortared over and helped clear the way to getting it open.

Descending into the ruins, they determined that they dated back to the First Dwarven Empire, some 5,000 years old, but more recent graffiti - in the Common of two centuries back - claimed that a paladin known as Alaric the True buried "the Bloody Spear, Vengeance of the Gods" here, leaving behind "untiring guardians" to protect it.

Forcing open a door, they found themselves in a semi-circular room full of mummified dwarves, which, when they did not immediately animate, the party laid face-down to make it more difficult for them when they did, assumedly, animate on the party's way out of the dungeon.

Exploring further, they discovered a circular hallway with a number of doors leading outward, directing Mole to lead them in the direction of the nearest source of magic it can detect.  It leads them north, where a narrow hallway branched off from the broad, curving structure they'd been following.

Carefully examining the geometric designs on the walls, Dormammu was able to figure out that they formed a very strange map of the complex, a poem written in acrostics, the nouns marking where rooms are and verbs tracing hallways.  He can't read enough of it to determine the subject of the poem.

Going down the narrow hallway, opening the door at the far end revealed a 50-foot diameter circular room, a door at the leftmost point on the curving wall guarded by a pair of suits of ornate armor.  Experimentation quickly revealed that the armor was animated, and reacted to anyone entering the room.  Lasair was almost able to enter the room unchallenged by magically disguising herself as a dwarf in matching armor, wearing a family crest copied off the door the armor is guarding - but unfortunately, one of the suits of armor seemed to see through her disguise.

We ended the session with the party debating if it was even possible to get past the suits of armor without fighting them, and concluding that, if they wanted to get through that door (and presumably, to the lance), combat was inevitable.