AP: A Clutch of Shadows / Into the Silent Temple

Part 1: Heretical Eggs & Hated Sorcerors

Hi folks.

We’ve just completed a double-header of 2 of @Fuseboy 's wonderful pieces from their Trilemma Adventures Compendium (the above-mentioned A Clutch of Shadows and Into the Silent Temple).

It has taken us about 3 months of weekly sessions to do so, but I have really enjoyed seeing how it went!

@Fuseboy 's work is system-neutral, so I had to stat up the various Denizens that our party was going to encounter, where there was not an equivalent that I could already use.

This ended up including:

  • Chitin Drakes (in a variety of strengths)
  • Dradkin (deep-dwelling dead-kin-wearing humanoids)
  • Isopods, including a corrupt version, the Taraghin (varying from thumb-sized to leg-length… with more possibilities abound)
  • Cave Stitcher (with awesome artwork by the late great Russ Nicholson)

In addition, I had to work out how to represent the excellent Tomb Shields of the Dradkin, found early in “Into the Silent Temple”.

Our adventurers remain:

  • Bricks the Boots (Halfling Guide)

Belief: As a Hendri and a Guide, I will not hesitate to forge the path needed, nor make the lost found.

Creed: Right to Roam: all have a right to walk paths and they must remain open. Paths write our stories and history into the land. To lose them is to lose a part of ourself. To destroy them is to cast away our history. They must be walked to preserve them and they must remain open.

  • Oddbjorn Bjornson (Bjorning Skald)

Belief: I will get my inheritance from the treasures lurking in the old places of the world.

Creed: Our names will be sung, so our deeds must match in glory and fame.

  • Osric Godtouched (Græling Shaman)

Belief: I will be more than the beast within me.

Creed: Only the Jotunn can give true power, mortal power is a pale, fleeting imitation.

  • Tösk (Changeling Thief - still played by @DaveHiggins, of this parish)

Belief: Ancient Secrets are more important than coin.

Creed: All living beings have an equal right to thrive.

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Part 2: A Clutch of Shadows

Their lead to Grimvault (our name for it) / Grinvolt (@Fuseboy 's name for it) has been deeply researched by the party a while ago, with a friend / lover (?) of Oddbjorn showing him a rough map indicating the missing section of the captured Sun Temple.

In brief, the adventure revolves around an adventuring site pretty much overlaying a Borderlands Keep set up in a Dradkin temple dug into / out of the mountains. Said temple was overrun by a Dwarven army 6ish years ago (following raids by the Dradkin on the surrounding areas).

There is a further adventure location below this place, where guards from Grimvault prevent people going down or back up, as below is the site of a defeat / stalemate of their army.

Our party arrives with their growing array of animals. Do you know the story of the “Musicians of Bremen”? Sort of like that.

We’ve got a horse and Truffles the pig (owned by Osric), 3 cats who Tösk has worked very hard to become adopted by, and Bricks’ chicken.

Aside: Truffles, who is often described as some variation of “self-propelled rations”, is not yet at risk. There is a non-zero chance that Truffles will outlast the group, or, at least, never get eaten.

There is a pleasing cast of characters in Grimvault. From Flametender Gathana (with her own plans and troubles), to Plodinus Kest ( Elite Sorceror Plodinus Kest, as he insists on being called), and Sly Dubach (in control crime boss).

The Dwarven axewives guarding the place (and their families) form a neat backdrop to it all, along with the rules of “no eggs, no straw”, which perplexes our adventurers (especially as no further explanation is forthcoming).

Analysing the various panels, our group realises what they need to open the secret area, and work towards doing so, sneakily leveraging off panels, and gathering what they need. This ends with them having about 3 “heretical eggs”.

They also manage to set up a camp / personal “flophouse” in Dust Town, which will serve as their base of operations when in town phase (I allowed them to set it up as a Camp, but then subsequently rolled it into flophouse-equivalent in the Town phase). Concealment and (a short-term) water source were very handy here.

So, with their eggs, they sneak into the secret area and begin exploring. Things go well-enough until they get into a chamber with 6 Vengeful Spirits. They manage to flee onwards, but end up trapped in a dead end… admittedly a dead end with a Drake egg (and huge silver chains).

So, some Drake-egg-grabbing and silver-chain-looting later… they’re still trapped in this dead end. But now Osric Godtouched has an idea, which involves binding the 6 Vengeful Spirits into 2 of the (ritually blessed) eggs.

Advancing back into the chamber in a ring of silver chain, they succeed. They now have 2 heretical cursed blasphemous eggs of the Worst Sort, within each of which something foul is growing. 2 Something Foul, and each is possessed by 3 trapped/bound Vengeful Spirits.

The return trip also gets them attacked by isopods, but they manage to get away (“Walk without rhythm, and you won’t attract the worm”).

Back in the Town Phase, they sell Plodinus some ruined notes (claiming they are “fragments of spells”), lying as they do so well. (Elite Sorceror) Plodinus Kest is very much ending up as the mark in their endeavours, with them sensing a way to get what they want and get him to pay them for it.

Then, a couple of heavies find them, as Sly Dubach wants her eggs back (“with interest, mind”) - those hidden eggs were hers, it seems.

Still, hiding much of import (drake egg, some loot, heretical cursed eggs), they find her having her bath. Oddbjorn’s mythical musical ability (grey-shaded during the conclusion of Bridge of the Damned) allows them to cut a deal with her. In return for knowledge and maps of the secret area (of great use to a crime boss), they are free to go, and she will even arrange passage downstairs for them.

Aside: a lot of interesting stuff is playing out due to Beliefs and Creeds.

Tösk’s “everyone has the right to live” means that they are much less in a “murder them all” mindframe.

Osric’s struggling with being more than the berserker beast he can turn into means that he is often a voice of reason(?), and one of the reasons that the single surviving drake egg has not been infected and turned into “an unholy abomination”.

Oddbjorn’s need to have worthy deeds to sing of, also keeps them from always making bloody choices.

Brick’s wanting to forge paths, and see things they have never seen before is a wonderful call to adventure, to be a completionist… and to never block or bar a door.

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Part 3: Silens or Deth!
Downstairs, we have a large (mostly abandoned) Dradkin temple, the site of the stalemate battle between the dwarven Axewife and Dradkin warriors.

The bone-remains, ruined weapons of both sides and the tomb-shields of the Dradkin lie intertwined on a bridge.

A scrawled-in-blood message (“Silens or Deth!”) warns to be silent or face the consequences. Bricks ties small sacks over their stompy-stompy boots, so that they don’t make the clanky noises that they otherwise would make.

The party (easily) makes enough noise for the danger to emerge: 4 Chitin Drakes (flying death-centipedes) charge the group. These are what, shall we say, ensured the stalemate when the Dradkin lost control, and it all went wrong.

As these creatures have been blinded, they track in based on sound.

Our adventurers (wisely) decide to flee. Bricks buys them the opportunity by frisbee’ing (2-handed) one of the tower / tomb shields in the Away direction (“Good idea!”).

This allows the group to run deeper into the complex… right into a selection rope-and-bell tripwires.

Tösk has got an instinct to check for traps, but… that does not go so well for several of these traps in rapid succession.

Eventually, they escape notice, hiding away, and having to communicate very carefully / quietly to avoid drawing the attention of the Chitin Drakes.

This needing to be quiet is a really interesting twist, and really changes the dynamics of how they interact with the space.

As a GM, I’m looking at the map, and the choices they’ve made, seeing the impact of their choice to go left, rather than go right, when they were initially chased. It’s a radical change, protecting them from some issues, but losing them some advantages.

The adventure is really great, and realising the full range of “what if’s”, because of the group’s choices was revelatory to me (yet again).

They encounter a cult of Dradkin who are pursuing their own form of weird enlightenment, and get to a balcony, 100m above the surrounding area, and see what lies beyond the adventure site: The Ur-Menig, and the memory of a vast sea, deep deep underground.

Bricks cuts some pieces from their boot-sacks, sets them alight, and drops them, allowing them to see the terrible and vast blackness… and an ancient barque / boat, bobbing on a non-existent “sea”.

Getting down to that boat will now be the focus for the numerous sessions that follow.

They explore the rest of the space, and have a terrifying encounter when they get ambushed by a Creeping Ooze. Fortunately, we rule Tösk’s “check for traps” instinct can kick in, so it’s not just Osric in a solo kill conflict.

Osric absolutely rocks it, and explodes the Creeping Ooze from the inside (some ridiculous number of successes from Hrym’s Hand on his Attack). It’s wonderful to see how things can go when they apply all of their tricks, good thinking (and luck).

They end up being able to build up a decent camp, behind a hidden door, beyond some terrifying fungus. They return to this on a couple of occasions, as a safe(?) space to work in. Fortunately, the Camp Events are in their favour, and nothing particularly disastrous occurs.

The Grind and Conditions really take their toll, as they (wisely) decide to bug out and head to Town before climbing off the side of the ropes to the area below.

This is one of those Town Phases where they’re OK, but don’t have tons of loot, and opportunities are more limited.

This is especially true when their Haggling rolls manage to close the market twice!

(After the first market closure, they Circled up Flametender Gathana, and convinced her to reopen the market for them. And then another of their number chose to (unsuccessfully) haggle…)

Still, during their meeting with the Flametender, they discovered she had a Chitin Drake, which was quickly becoming unmanageable. They convinced her to let them take it away with them, to go down into the below, where it could be released with the other Chitin Drake.

This could go very badly.

Paying Sly Dubach for the privilege, They manage to head back down to the Silent Temple, with a Chitin Drake wrapped / bound in cloth.

Once there, they release the young Chitin Drake, which promptly calls to the others… and in rush all of the Chitin Drakes. 4 Mature, 1 Young.

Uh oh.

Cue a Flee conflict, which they promptly lose in very short order (if I recall, Order of Might meant it was not very forgiving).

Trapped just over the bridge, Osric went with his Instinct (Instinct : When in greatest need, call on the gods), and invokes Frenzy of the Lord of Beasts… driving all of the Chitin Drakes away.

Some time afterwards, they make it off the bridge and down the ropes, where they get to explore the lower area.


Part 4: The Swordmaster and the Cavestitcher
Across a curved damp bridge, we get to the “fortress” area, where they find a Dradkin Swordmaster, who will happily duel one of them. As Oddbjorn steps forwards to accept, the party realises that the swordmaster is a “mere” puppet, as they spot the horror of the Cavestitcher!

As that session wraps, Osric is spraying soul oil out of his waterskin, and Bricks is lighting a firework.

There’s no exit from this place, other than what the group have stepped through. Much as they would like a Drive-Off, there is nowhere for the Cavestitcher to be pushed to… so it’s a Kill conflict. Oh no!

For his part, Oddbjorn’s player is unable to make the next session, so the character is lost in the confusion, and is just not there for what transpires next.

The following session, we start with the Kill conflict. It’s tough, as the Cavestitcher is no slouch, and a higher Might.

The Cavestitcher’s 2 puppets are also troublesome, as one of them causes Osric’s blood to whistle like a kettle.

As for the Kill Conflict itself? It’s brutal. Osric drops and is pulled back by a solid Defend, whilst the Cavestitcher’s puppets are taken down quickly.

The second exchange of the Conflict revolves around Volley 2’s Attack vs. Attack (so… independent test). Bricks’ player, looking at what’s coming at them, realises that they can survive the Cavestitcher’s hit, and decides to limit their dicepool (uses a Trait against themselves, does not take all the Help), in a bid to let them get in their scripted Defence in Volley 3.

(Un)fortunately, their Attack is good enough to knock out the rest of the Cavestitcher’s Disposition, and the return strike takes our adventurer’s to only about 25%/35% Disposition. In a Kill Conflict.

Looking at the “Kill Conflict Compromises” (Scholar’s Guide p78), we discuss what our options are. Killing Bricks and Osric seems reasonable, and we wonder about maybe Tösk going to negotiate with Hel, Queen of the Dead (which would be pretty cool). However, with another player missing, we decide to go with the Cavestitcher surviving (“left for dead, but survives”), with the intent being that it will start hunting down their friends and family.

That feels particularly messy and fun, and we’re all looking forwards to how that goes!

2 of them are also now injured, due to one of the Cavestitcher’s Special Rules.

Stitching: After a conflict, any loss of Disposition (due to Stitching weapon) will indicate that the target is Injured (or Dead, if already Injured).*

However, that’s a lot of noise, and the Chitin Drakes are all inbound at speed!

Quick thinking occurs.

The “fortress” has only 1 access point… so they rig it as a trap to collapse when triggered (“Good Idea!”). They now choose to engage all 5 of the Chitin Drakes in a Capture conflict. Whilst 2 of them are injured (fortunately, they have some drake shell “incense” that will help protect Osric and Bricks).

I rule that the trapped doorway effectively boosts their Might by 1 for this Conflict, making Capture possible.

The Conflict gets off to a good start, as our Chitin Drakes roll VERY poorly, meaning that one just rushes into the trap (not enough Disposition to assign all of them a Hit Point).

Osric and Bricks hide in the smoke of the drake shell incense, whilst Tösk leads them into the fortress, neatly boomerangs off the back wall, and back out, as the Chitin Drakes rush in, collapsing the entrance behind him.

5 trapped Chitin Drakes, and no compromise required!

Bricks, for their part, looks at the collapsed entrance way, thinks long and hard, and then jams their crowbar into it, leaving it in place.

This entrance might be shut for now, but their Belief and Creed mean that they cannot leave this “locked door” without also leaving a “key” for future people to open it with.

Whilst Bricks is distracted, Osric sneaks back, and drops the crowbar into the depths below: no way is he going to leave them able to escape, especially as his Belief at this point was about preventing the Chitin Drakes from heading to the surface.

However, he’s got to have an excuse for having headed back, so our “clothes, I don’t need no stinking clothes” Shaman retrieves the jumper they salvaged, and pulls it on, claiming to be cold, and thus diverting Bricks from noticing his shenanigans.

Frankly, I think the rest of the group are just relieved that he’s wearing more than his wolf skin cloak.

After that, and having found a box of precious stones (Might 4 loot!), they head back to their campsite, to recover from their wounds, and make sure that they get their map updated!


Part 5: Aftermath

The next session, when all our party are assembled once again, they explore the rest of the site. Having completely trapped the entirety of the noise-chasing menace, the main threat is defeated.

Osric tends to spend most of his time with excessive Burden (and either glowing, being covered in snaking runes, etc. etc.). Tösk, for his part, has been working to assist with remedying this.

Firstly, there was the shrine-statue he carved, and now Tösk decides to work on blessing a bell to also assist Osric (using one of the bells recovered from one of the numerous bell traps they keep finding by triggering).

They get to the vastness of the Memory of the Sea, unable to feel or see the sea, but hearing in the vague echoed sounds of the vast darkness something ressembling… waves?

Tösk takes the opportunity to wash the bell in the memory of the sea (not that he can feel any difference, but it feels like an appropriate thing to do).

A while later, they hear people hiding behind a door, past the Portmaster’s office… people who are obviously hiding from them.

Tösk listens at the door (Thief Level 4: Good Ear), and determines that there are 10 Dradkin and 4… others(?).

When their initial approach does not work, Oddbjorn sings… and the door is opened by 4 Dradkin-Dwarven children (the 4 they couldn’t identify), against the protests of the adult Dradkin. An unfortunate misunderstanding at this stage (Tösk is perched above the door, and swing around head-first, like a bat) results in Tösk getting a spear to the face, but things are rapidly de-escalated.

Once the (starving) Dradkin are convinced that the threat is neutralised, they rush out to open up the bricked up chambers containing their supplies of potted (mystery) meats.

We go for a (much-needed) Camp Phase here, with our adventurers staying with their newly found friends.

Here, Torchbearer does one of those things it’s so very good at: the Camp Event messes with their plans, as we roll Pestilence (Scholar’s p267). This is not the first time our group has encountered this Camp Event, and there are many unhappy groans from the players.

So, these 14 starving people, who have broken down the walls to their larders, and pulled out their jars of preserved meats, crack them open, to find that, much like of the party’s supplies, they are riddled with maggots, mould, etc.

Time for a change of plan, then.

The group rolls up their sleeves, and sets to work. They gather all of the supplies and jars of food that the Dradkin have, and prepare the area.

Time for some serious purification, with a high-Ob Ritualist test (Consecration - Ob4 +1Ob for volume of affected foodstuffs)… which they succeed at!

The people are saved! Everyone gets to eat, and the party is praised has heroes.

Tösk finishes work on the bell, dedicating it to the Jotunn immortal Hrym, Captain of the Dead Ship. Given Osric’s Creed and general attitude, this is marvellously on-point. Bricks helps with their Alchemist (to etch the bell) and Osric helps with his knowledge of Theology (to get the symbols and runes right). Oddbjorn is no fan of the Jotnar, so declines to get involved.

Now, given that they are On Map (thanks to Bricks for that!), they retrieve the statue from their previous camp.

Osric sets himself up on an outcropping overlooking the Memory of the Sea, complete with statue and bell, and lighting (with soul oil) the beacon that’s here.

He fully clears his Burden through purification and calling out to Hrym, Captain of the Dead Ship that Sails Between Worlds, Lord of Undeath, whilst deep underground, overlooking a dead (and “vanished”) sea, ringing a bell dedicated to Hrym, before a statue of the Jotnar, having lit a signal beacon with soul oil.

We could not have asked for a better place or time!

For his part, Tösk is now planning a reconciliation between the dwarves of Grimvault, and the Dradkin of the Silent Temple. Another (successful) huge Ob test (Ob5? Ob6?) means that he’s got an approach and story that will work, once it can spread to both sets of people here.

Now, we’re on to the tail-end of the adventure.

The party makes it onto the dock itself, and finds the barque that they saw so many sessions ago…

On the barque is a Menaka (think Beholder-ish), named Celdurxi, that has had one of its organs carved out, and has been surgically grafted to the boat. This… does not seem right to Tösk (or to the others, frankly).

The barque does not seem to have an owner, but they choose to negotiate with the Dradkin Portmaster, and pay “docking fees”, so that they may take this precious vessel.

Aside: “Precious” as only vessels that were on the sea when it vanished will float where the sea once was.

They now take possession of the vessel, and find the dessicated body of the Dradkin captain there, with a (magical!) dwarven dagger plunged through their neck. Investigation reveals it to be a dagger favoured of Vali the Kinslayer, for it was used by a priestess of his to try to kill him (a variation on Shindara’s Blade, from @Jared’s Lots O’ Loot p45).

Speaking with Celdurxi (the Menaka), they plan on freeing it. For its part, it wants to go to Hrel, across to the north on the Memory of the Sea, whereas the group has discovered tales of another way to the surface, known as the Steeps, far to the East, past Sifoon.

Before then, they have preparations to make. They decide to move an alchemy lab they discovered from their old camp site onto the boat, as well as make a last trip up to Grimvault.

Taking the delicate (often glass) parts that make up the alchemy lab down the ropes is not easy, and a failed test gives me the perfect opportunity to apply a fun Twist, as 5 large isopods burst forth from the ground!

Interestingly, the group splits at this point. Osric and Tösk fade back, whereas Oddbjorn and Bricks leap forwards, with Oddbjorn making plenty of music / noise, and Bricks stomping with the boots that give them their name.

We run this as a Drive-Off conflict, that only involves Oddbjorn and Bricks (and the 5 isopods, of course). I was leaning on letting the more pro-active option be the lead here, but it also meant that there could be obvious follow-up tests or Conflicts (Flee, for Osric and Tösk, for instance), depending on how things went.

The player uses Osric’s Instinct to quickly invoke the Mudra of Fate on Bricks, which turns out to be very useful: none of what Bricks attempts in this conflict fall within their Nature Descriptors!

It’s a tough Conflict, especially as it’s 2 PCs vs. 5 Denizens. Might-wise, the isopods are not formidable, but Help dice really stack up in that situation!

Bricks is dropped, but brought back into the fight by Oddbjorn, and they finally triumph, although both are injured in the compromise.

They then manage to get the alchemist workshop set up on their boat, much later than anticipated!

The group decide to return to Grimvault, to gather what is theirs (Drake egg, chicken, pig, horse, 3 cats, and some belongings as well), and broker the start of some sort of reconciliation.

They ask Celdurxi what it might need, and it claims to need the brain of a wizard. Some of them (but not all) are slightly perturbed, by this.

However, well, Celdurxi has not had the easiest of times, and they do know of an Elite Sorceror

Whilst they manage to leave some things on the barque, it is a very loot-rich group that reaches Grimvault (something around 20ish D of loot to ease their way).

They manage to broker a side-deal with Sly Dubach, by revealing hidden details of the places below, allowing her to steal a march on the rest of Grimvault that will follow, and, again, giving Sly Dubach access to hidden places.

The injured stay in (an equivalent to) a hotel, whilst the other 2 clear out their camp (treated as flophouse).

Their injuries turn out to be infected with isopod eggs (failed recovery test: twist to Sick). However, eventually, their conditions are dealt with.

From there, it’s a case of haggling (and managing to not close the market, for once), buying vast hills of supplies (a wheel of cheese, a cask of wine, a barrel of refined oil, etc.), and then a lot of time mentoring one another.

This last is particularly useful, as Bricks learns from Osric to use a shield (allowing the pair of them to equip Dradkin tomb-shields), and several of them learn Mentoring from all of this!

Osric has also acquired the tongues of a horse and a pig, so that he might invoke Tongue of the Lord of Beasts, and convince his two animal companions to join them on their adventures down in the Ur-Menig, in the darkness beneath Middarmark.

Tösk, for his part acquires a spellbook from Plodinus Kest, and inscribes the 2 spell scrolls the group have got their hands on. The player has his eye on Thief Level 6 (Symbological Dilettante), and has been working towards being in a good place for when the character levels up.

We see the highest Lifestyle / Paying Your Bills Obs we’ve seen to date (Ob 10 for Osric, and Ob 11 for Bricks, I believe?).

But what of Celdurxi’s request for a wizard’s brain? Well, they did not stab up Elite Sorceror Plodinus Kest, but they have manipulated him into joining them on their journey. And, well, once down there, out in the darkness… who knows what might happen?

Next week? Well, we’re going to get all of their loot down to the barque, and head out over the Memory of the Sea.

First, though, they need to get their wheel of cheese, cask of wine and other supplies down there, hopefully without any major disasters.


Where are the APs for these adventures?!


Town Phases with Tösk have been quite cat-focused.

I think he managed to befriend 2 in Innsjøborg, and one from the House of Three Squires.

The current discussion has been “now that we’ve resolved the situation in Grimvault and the Silent Temple, does it no longer count as a dungeon?”. It’s of vital importance to @DaveHiggins, so that the cats can deign to accompany him into the dungeon, and onto their underground boat, and become cats of the (non-existent) sea!


Masterful stuff here. I am well and truly jealous!


I can’t wait!

Oddbjorn has a Sailing Nature, and Celdurxi has 30 years of being forced to act as navigator.

They’re packing everything onto the barque, including a horse (have fun taking that down on the ropes!), an alchemy lab, a barrel of oil, and this Sorceror fellow.

All that should help, right?

I’m also eagerly waiting for the return of Osric’s player, as he has a plan to navigate this environment as only a Shaman would.

He plans to invoke Piercing the Shroud in this liminal place, and take their barque through, navigating through the cosmology beyond.

Ob: 3 (or 4)
Small group + liminal time + unique connected location (+ maybe Evily GM factor for size of group).

Should be good fun!


Thor can correct me, but I believe the shaman is using the spell as intended!

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Yes! What could go wrong?!


I favour the ancient Trollish technique of “one point of contact, most of the time”.

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