So, Darves Hill is played during a four hour time slot, once a month. For those that have never gamed once a month, it can be a bit different than getting together every week. It is also held at a Gaming Club (www.gaspgamer.com) so there is normally a good pool of people to draw into games, if they find the game interesting of course.
Needless to say, with running once a month, it is going to take lots of time to get through the megadungeon. They don't have to go through every room of course, and a good portion of the rooms are "empty" but it will still take a lot of grains of sand in the hour glass before they get to the end. I'm not really sweating it though. In the past I think I worried about WAY TOO MUCH when I was running the game. Sure, I still have worries, concerns, and stress, but in this campaign I've had a lot less than normal. There is just something simple, and yet awesome about having a big ass dungeon to go through, and a small town nearby to buy and sell in. I'm really enjoying this campaign so far.
So, we've played twice so far, and tomorrow will be the third session. They have investigated most of the surface buildings, and have started to peak down certain passageways that lead to the depths below. what they are discovering is that the buildings on the lower portions of the hill, lead down to deeper levels of the dungeon. When I made the map, I made the hill like a topographic map, with layers of graph paper that can peal back like an onion. One of the characters was almost devoured by a slimy purple-green tubular creature, that resembled a hairy worm. It's body's mass filled the entire tunnel that he worked his way down to. I described the creature in such a way as to suggest that it, "had a lot of Hit Dice." :)
They destroyed a many armed skeleton. The adventurers had acquired a strange coin previously from a dead corpse that happened to be one of the PC's family members. The coin had two snakes eating their tails. Later this coin tingled with magical power when the above skeleton was slain. Later they would find out more about the coin, that appears to be a kind of holy symbol as well. It is rather enigmatic, even with what they do know about it. It may be a holy symbol from an ancient cult.
They heard some strange clicking language, down one of the deep shafts leading down to the lower depths of the dungeon. There were many voices, so they avoided finding out what uttered the strange language.
They wandered into a huge area filled with dark tall pylons. They are made from a strange substance that has been seen several times on Darves Hill. It is a dark hard stone, with white flecks in it. It seems to have been formed with some strange technique, that didn't require tools. A half-demon with sickeningly saggy skin was jumping from pylon to pylon, and with strategy and intelligence defeated the creature. They pulled twenty arcanely incribed metal shards from under the skin of the creature. The magic-user learned that if someone shoved these under their skin, they would become empowered by demonic energy. No one raised their hands, and the Cleric wanted to have them destroyed, or taken to the Temple in the town of Nahm.
They solved a puzzle, where several of the pylons caught on fire, and then a woman's face was visible. She seemed to be pleading with them. Other pylons then seemed to have a tone to them, and they figured out the correct configuration to hit them. Another grouping of pylons crackled with electrical power. In the end, they discovered a long held cache of magical items. For some reason, they felt like they also released some tortured spirits of a bygone era.
They freed an imprisoned Quasit Demon, and the the two PCs that let the creature out of the metal box under magical liquid, have now found that it... seems to have befriended them both. Neither one of them was a magic-user, but it still seems to want to help them. How long this continues is anyone's guess. The Cleric was really sure what to think of the whole affair, but he is watching the creature carefully. The Quasit was scared of the coin with the two snakes eating each other, but didn't seem to realize what the Cleric's holy symbol was. It seemed odd.
I jotted down some magical items on 3x5 cards, and passed out the details to the players. They found a cache of items that were apparently being tested to see what they do. They know some of the properties of the items, but not all of them. This gives me a little wiggle room to add on things later, if I see fit. Yes, I gave them some magic items at 1st level, but there will be plenty of opportunity to use them in the near future...
Oh, that's right, they discovered a hidden mural, above the magical pool where they freed the Quasit Demon. The mural was on the inside of an upside down pyramid, and the player was looking down from the roof onto the mural. There were four frescoes on the triangle walls, and the snake holy symbol in the very top of the inverted pyramid. There were scenes of slaves working tirelessly pulling massive stone blocks, what appeared to be some sort of Undead Lich on an intricate throne, Devils and Demons rejoicing in the flames, and finally some priestly types building what appeared to be the very large Temple on the top of Darves Hill. There wasn't a story to go with these images, but they seemingly speak of many things in the past.
It looks like we will get another player tomorrow, so our player ranks will swell to four! I'd like to get up to six players so we can still play when a few people have to miss because of real life screwing things up. I'm looking forward to seeing what the characters do tomorrow, and in which direction they venture forth.