Cold Feet: Expedition to the Corilitheae Archives, Part II

This is our second session of the first adventure. This time around, the players were even more cautious, perhaps to the point of hobbling themselves. Any comments/suggestions/advice welcomed!

As Ceryn, Padd, and Gherm began to settle into a mud-filled room to rest and possibly make camp, they were startled by the sound of someone entering through the crevice they had used to enter the archives through the sinkhole. Cautiously, they watched with their hands on their weapon as Egbert, the off-kilter human cleric from the Thorn emerged and greeted them. Egbert, after asking them some questions about the animal droppings he found in the marsh around the Archives, explained that he overheard the offer that the Tower representative had given them and had followed them out here only to realize that he would never make it out alive on his own and that they were likely in need of his help. Grudgingly, the party accepted Egbert’s company.

Deciding against making camp, the party stood in the mud-filled rooms for some time arguing among themselves about what to do next. Gherm repeatedly suggested waking the dragon to find more information or perhaps strike a deal. Ceryn remained conflicted about their situation – she did not want to harm the wild woman, but they needed her food – she did not want to harm the Frog Princess, but they wanted to pass through the door on the far side of her room. Egbert, upon hearing about the dragon, wanted to go in search of some of its droppings. Padd seemed interested in returning back up through the sinkhole and entering the archives through the front entrance. Finally, Ceryn moved to open the secret passage into the Frog Princess’ egg room.

Upon opening the door, the party saw the frog princess, in all of her glorious obesity, etching an intricate and mesmerizing design into the stone masonry of her room with a small piece of crystal. She glared at them, as one by one, they filed into her room, each being careful not to harm any of the eggs. Ceryn gestured towards the door, attempting to communicate that they just wanted to pass and meant no harm. In response, the Frog Princess moved in front of the door and blocked it with her huge body, lashing out her tongue once more in warning (I didn’t call for a test here… and I wasn’t sure if this qualified for a conflict yet). Upon realizing that they wouldn’t likely be able to make their way through her room without resorting to violence, the party retreated back out through the passage and closed it behind themselves.

After another brief debate, the party decided to climb back up out the rope through the crevice and up the sinkhole into the marsh. The players decided to do it as a single test, with Gherm leading the way (dungeoneer), Ceryn using the mud and some debris to make a hand coating to improve grip (too much of a stretch? Help with survivalist), and Egbert calling out the good handholds, foot holds, and tight passes that he noticed on the way down (pathfinder – I think I may have been too lenient with this). Gherm tapped into his fiery nature to yell out encouragement to the party and keep them in line on the way up (trait +1D). (Test 1: Dungeoneer Ob5, passed). Without too much trouble the party managed to clamber up out of the sinkhole.

Once out of the hole, the Gherm led the way around the sinkhole, tapping ahead with the ten foot poles around the collapsed columns and checking the front door for traps. After he announced the area clear, Padd tried the door, and finding it stuck began to throw his body against it. However, before he could, Gherm put a heavy hand down on the halflings shoulder and announced, “This isn’t for you, little one. Let the Dwarf handle this.” Gherm attemped to bust the door down with his should while Egbert and Padd helped. Gherm drew on his Dwarven origins of Earth and Stone to harden his resolve to obliterate the door (trait +1D). Meanwhile, Padd, annoyed that his attempt had been commandeered by Gherm, only pretended to help and actually made the task harder for the others (-1D for the roll – can his use a trait in this way, though he’s not making the roll himself – now that I look back at it, it seems unlikely). (Test 2: Health Ob4 (too high?) Though they managed to smash the door down, both Gherm and Egbert were exhausted for their efforts and Padd was angry with his companions for interfering. The door had been stuck in the jamb by distortion in the masonry around it, and after it was moved, the doorframe shifted, slanted, to one side.

The doorway opened into a large courtyard dominated by a massive tree growing up out of the floor, the only vegetation they had thus far noticed growing on the archives building. The room was filled with peaceful golden light. The enormous tree’s roots had dislodged the flagstones in the floor, causing them to roil and jut up rather than lay smooth and flat. A stone elf face stared at them surrounded by the wood of the trunk. A glance around the room revealed similar life-size stone statues of elves, around which the tree and its roots had grown to varying extents. Behind the tree was an unstable looking staircase heading up to a second floor balcony, blocked with rubble that had fallen from the collapsed dome that had once covered this entire area. All of the walls were blocked with fallen rubble, and on one section of the wall, something had been roughly etched in Elven runes. Finally, the room was extremely quiet, as if it somehow was cancelling out the thrum of the insects that otherwise always filled their ears in the marsh.

On instinct, Ceryn began searching the statues and the rubble around the edges of the room for a passage into a secret room. (Free test: Scout). Clearing some rubble from behind the stair case Ceryn called out that she had found a passage leading downward behind the stairs. However, her movement clearing the area caused the rubble to destabilize and a section of the stairs collapsed above her, trapping her in a small pocket of space beneath the stairs. (failed test – twist). She called for help as the rubble fell around her. Gherm immediately headed over to try to dig out his traveling companion. Padd found a long beam they could use as a lever to move larger pieces of stone (help with scavenger) while Gherm moved the heavy rubble out to clear the way (Test 3: Laborer Ob4). Gherm, angered by the Elf’s recklessness, could not focus on his work (trait -1D). Though he managed to clear the way, Gherm’s anger clouded his judgment and he disturbed the staircase further, and a large chunk of stone collapsed and struck his head, leaving him bleeding (injured). Padd was exhausted after the effort of freeing Ceryn.

The party, suddenly feeling the grind of their labors, decided to set up camp. In the process of setting up camp, Padd managed to break his tinderbox, rendering it useless until repaired. Egbert and Ceryn attempted to tend Gherm’s head wound, and failed (-1D nature, he grew closer to the elf and human in the experience) and everyone who spent a check to recover from a status failed, making for a somewhat restless camp. Ceryn succeeded at making an accurate map of the Archives they had seen so far.

After breaking camp, Ceryn and Egbert attempted to decipher the Elven runes etched on the wall (Test 1 – right to restart the test count after camp, no? – Scholar Ob 2). After a moment of staring, Ceryn began reading aloud, “Corelwyn, Galacel and I barely escaped the dragon and I believe he is lost somewhere below. I cannot stay in this place any longer. I hope you fared better with the spider. - Aurewyn.” At this point, Ceryn recommended that her companions abandon the expedition and return back to town. Padd walked over to passage below the staircase they had cleared the previous evening and called out, “Are you coming or not?”

Below, the party found four rooms filled with roots from the tree above. They were filled with the scent of damp earth, and appeared to once be used for entertaining, with ruined tables, chairs, and cabinetry. Within, the party found a set of well-preserved Elven silverware and flatware, as well as a bundle of Elven paper and ink. With this treasure in tow, the party decided to return back to town.

Upon arriving in town, the party found monster pit fights had taken hold in their absence, with the current match between an orc armed with a butter knife against six goblins with forks capturing the attention of the majority of the village. After watching the fight, they took up residence at the stables, sold their Elven silverware, and failed to buy some rations to replace those that had spoiled at the gates. With barely enough to cover their bills, the party attempted to cut their losses and head back out, but only Egbert and Gherm had enough to cover their bills, while Ceryn and Padd lacked sufficient funds to pay the stable master for their stay. As they left the gates, they ran into a group of distressed priests entering. They explained to the party that their Toroluthu Monastery above the most westerly of the World’s End Falls had been overrun with goblins, and in their hasty departure the monk carrying the preserved hand of the profit had fallen to the Goblin menace. The priests beseeched them to go to the Monastery and recover the artifact for the sake of all civilization.

Thus ended session 2. About 2 full hours of play here before we broke for lunch.

An issue came up – do helpers get pass/fail tests towards advancement in TF?

See Help Checks in the Spending Checks​ section on page 23.

“The preserved hand of the profit.”

This may be the most story-driving error EVER.

Errrr… I spend a lot of my time operating in not-English living abroad and as a result my head goes phonetic more and more while typing. It would be very funny if that’s what the priests meant though – I’d like to hear how that could possibly be worked in, though

"The hand of the profit.

The hand of the profit is a fired clay begging bowl, under and around which are folded two (presumably clay as well) hands. The monks from the monastery have vows of poverty, so profit - as a monetary thing - is alien to them. They do however profit from their piety - using the bowl to drink the waters from the falls, … And yes, the monks do often have to spend some time explaining the odd semantics behind their artefact."


Sold. There is a chance that a player may be reading this, so I may have to deviate a bit, but I’m going to use this. Thank you!

Great session, btw.

Do note that traits are for helping and hindering yourself, not your friends. And feel free to be a bit more strict with helping. If all skills can help all tests, the game rapidly breaks down.


I assume the preserved hand of the profit is somehow related to the invisible hand of the market.