Hero Kids

The Hidden Laboratory, Part 2

As the rune-locked doors opened, they were faced with their first “real” dungeon.

I had them see a sign at the entrance warning them that traps abounded here. They entered a long, narrow hallway and could see kobolds at the end, guarding a shaman who was standing in a magic circle performing some kind of ritual. The kobolds had not yet spotted them. I had identified one particular square as the one that triggered the boulder, about halfway down the hallway. Unfortunately, they didn’t really think to “search for traps” (which isn’t really a Hero Kids mechanic anyway, but which I certainly would have allowed) and they also weren’t really moving as a group. Hermione (Erin) was far ahead of the group when she triggered the boulder, which I had move d3 spaces per round. Not really terrible in general since they can move 4 spaces. However, it provided an excellent counter to the pets. With a pet, you must choose to move EITHER yourself or your pet each turn, which presented serious problems. I made it so getting hit with the boulder was a damage, which eventually knocked Firebreath out and his body was right in front of the boulder. Even though Firebreath is not Lily’s (Kira’s) pet, she immediately sprung into action, saying she would carry him with her. I had this slow her movement down to 3 a turn.

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The kobolds heard the sound of the boulder and spent their turns moving into position in front of the hallway, guarding their shaman. Secretly, I was ticking up a die each turn as the shaman continued to chant. The kobolds, I pointed out, seemed unwilling to move into the hallway, but weren’t afraid to attack them with projectile weapons. Herminone was out of range of the kobolds initially, but attempted a magical blast to slow the boulder. I quickly ruled that the boulder always has defense 6, but it can be slowed to d3-1 moves (minimum 1) with a successful attack once per round. Torn about that a little bit. I like the creative thinking, but realistically I feel that would be a bit ineffective.

Anyway, eventually they got further down the hallway and started picking off kobolds. As the moved into the last space of the hallway, I informed them that the entrance was surrounded on all sides by a wooden threshold. They were suspicious it could be trapped, but stepped through anyway with no ill effects. By now, all but the Shaman were dead, and he had just one more turn to complete his ritual. Nevertheless, I had him spend his action to move out of the circle and make an attack. Although this was not why I chose kobolds for the first room, the shaman’s ability was extremely relevant here, knocking them back into the hallway with the fast approaching boulder.

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Five squares backward for BOTH of the heroes that had made it into the room was pretty brutal, and it gave the shaman time on the next turn to finish his summoning ritual. Turned out, he was summoning a Beholder. Not wanting to face yet ANOTHER of these nasty beasts, they made the decision to finish off the shaman. Unfortunately for them, the Beholder had an eye power of 4 spaces of pushback as well. This was a great “oh crap” moment for them, but they did manage to finish off the Beholder as well, though with everyone pretty banged up. The door frame itself was designed simply to stop the boulder from rolling into the room, which it did, sealing the door tightly shut. They made a few checks to try to push it backwards but only succeeded in budging it a little bit. They decided to proceed onward.‚Äč

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In the corners of the room were a rope and a treasure chest. They went for the treasure chest right away and of course it turned out to be a mimic. More damage, no treasure. Still foolishly conspicuous, they also picked up the rope. I had Drago (Kai) make a knowledge check as he picked it up, but he failed and I said “it appears to be a normal rope”. You would think this would have tipped them off too, but no. Into his pack it went.

They opted to open the two doors to the left and right, rather than proceeding down the hallway. The layout was set, and both of these doorways were really just red herrings, but I guess there is something about the lure of the unknown. Worth keeping in mind for future reference. It seems given the choice between a closed door and an open one, people just have to see what is behind the closed one before proceeding.

They headed through the left-hand door and Lily charged forward foolheartedly, immediately falling into a pit for a damage as the floor gave way. Drago pulled out his rope and began to hoist her out, but it broke halfway up and she fell down for another damage. Only then did they notice the nearly invisible slices that had been cut into the rope. It was sabotaged! Lily made a strength check to climb halfway up the wall and Hermione handed Drago her staff to use to pull her up the rest of the way. They abandoned the idea of reaching the fountain on the other side (which would have provided a random potion effect if consumed).

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Heading the other direction, again without really trying to spot any traps, Drago walked right into a poison gas trap. He took a damage and lost consciousness, though Lily thought to hook her longbow around him and use that to pull him out of the choking purple miasma. Before entering again, Lily shot an arrow onto into the hallway, and in so doing was able to determine that the trap was “out of gas” both figuratively and literally, a pun that they giggled at. They proceeded to the end of the hallway and found a spiral staircase leading down. Following it, they discovered a disused laboratory that was infested with spiders.

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Another battle ensued and they managed to vanquish all of the foul beasts before moving on to inspect the table. It had three potion bottles on it, which Hermione was able to identify all of with knowledge checks. I used my d100 consumables table for this and they got an Ointment of Oration, a Clairvoyance Cream, and a Remedy of Resurrection. This final one was most of interest to them and they even discussed the possibility of leaving this dreadful dungeon, letting Milo die, and then using this to resurrect him, rather than continuing their quest to find a cure. However, Kira was insistent that they use the potion to bring back Olivia’s mother. You didn’t remember that, did you? Erin certainly didn’t. I probably only did because I’ve re-read these documentations of the previous adventures. Olivia’s mother died protecting her cub and the evil poison that killed her could not be cured with Hermione’s magic. I never even considered the possibility of such a thing happening, and indeed it was one of maybe only one or two potions (a wishing one being the other) that could have provided such a moment. Kira is honestly probably my favorite player of the three of them for reasons exactly like this. She just gets into her character so well.

You might have noticed that lever in the corner. I pointed it out to them in the description just in case they didn’t. They opted not to pull it, which was a fine decision, though it was honestly one of the least harmful things in this dungeon. I was impressed with their restraint.

Back up the stairs they went and back down the main hallway. Drago charged ahead and found himself engulfed in flames, before making a dexterity check to jump out of the way. Not out of trouble yet, this trap also revealed two flameskulls, which attacked them before blowing themselves up in a fiery immolation attack. Decapitated Ghost Rider cake toppers for the win!

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Finally having learned a lesson, they reused their plan of shooting arrows and tapping the floor in front of themselves with weapons, which proved effective at uncovering yet another pit, about 15 feet deep. Having no rope or other means of crossing, they struggled through for quite a while what they should do. I thought it was very strange that no one seemed to remember that Firebreath could fly, but I kept my mouth shut. I was kind of getting the “what are we supposed to do here?” from them but I basically just reminded them that there is no “supposed to” and they can do whatever they want. Finally, they came up with the idea of ripping the wooden door frame apart and pushing the boulder into the pit. Really impressed with this idea, so I was glad I made them squirm a bit. Now they were faced with only a 5 foot deep pit, which was much more manageable to climb in and out of safely and without even a skill check.

On the other side of the pit was a room with a tiled floor and filled with several crates. Testing the tile by shooting more arrows, they quickly discovered that only the dark ones were safe to walk on, while the light ones would trigger darts from the ceiling. And of course they couldn’t resist breaking open the crates. Some were empty, some provided a gold piece, and two of them released slime monsters. Like the mimic, these are not actual Hero Kids monsters, but custom ones I had come up with for this adventure. They were able to move all about the floors without triggering the darts, which made for another tactically interesting combat. I especially enjoyed how it kept Olivia from being able to use her Cub’s Courage ability as effectively since it helps adjacent allies gain defense.

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Drago was the first one to get successfully attacked by a slime and quickly discovered their terrible ability as he took no damage but found two of his gold coins disintegrated. At which point Kai was near to tears. Erin tried not to giggle and through gritted teeth told me “you know that’s worse for him than being damaged, right?” Oh yes. I know. He got over it quickly, but ran away rather than attacking. Erin asked him why and he said “it might disintegrate my sword!” Excellent observation, young lad. Lily tested this theory with an arrow shot, which did no damage and was disintegrated as well. Hermione looked over at Firebreath and said “I guess this is up to us.” A few magic attacks later and the slime monsters were destroyed, but not before they’d eaten quite a few more coins.

Into the final room they went, discovering a much larger laboratory than the one in the basement. Shelves and shelves of books and scrolls, a large table of laboratory equipment, a suit of armor in each corner of the room, and there behind the table stood a crazed looking goblin wearing safety googles, a flaming potion in each hand. “Eh, who are you?” he asked. His response to their answer was “Eh, neva hoid of ya. What are ya doing here?” They told him about trying to find a cure for Milo and he replied “Eh, neva hoid of him.” It became clear that he’d been pretty much living down here for quite some time having never heard of just about anyone.

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He was surprised anyone had gotten through all his traps but it was clear he wasn’t interested in their money. He was grateful to them for clearing the spiders out of the basement, as he was afraid of spiders and hadn’t been down there for quite some time. Nevertheless, he was clearly an absentminded genius, often forgetting things he’d just been told. He agreed to help them with a cure on two conditions. First, he was running short on herbs and asked them to bring 7 herbs for him when they came back. They also needed to find out just what kind of disease Milo had, if there was any other information that might be helpful in crafting a cure. He showed them out through a hidden entrance underneath one of his suits of armor (actually golems in case of an attack by an overzealous adventurer) and we wrapped up for the day.

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