Orc Ruins

(Inspired by "Citadel by the Sea" by Sid Fisher in Dragon magazine #78)

Summary
After returning the kidnapped Lady Elior to her father, Lord Rainon, he suggests that the party might be able to help him with a problem. Orc bandits have been raiding the edge of his land, so he hires them to take care of the orcs. The party heads out to one of the ambush sites and finds tracks from a stolen wagon being driven cross country. Hudora takes point and scouts ahead stealthily. At one point, she is so stealthy that a group of hunting axebeaks miss her, but find the party. The axebeaks charge the party and while they fight, Hhudora returns to join in. Pancho slays one with a single casting of Dissonant Whispers and Harper kills another with her long sword. Raidne and Anna hit two more with spells and Giovane finishes them with his axe.
The trails lead to an old half ruined castle on a small hill. Pancho spots two orcs standing watch on a couple of towers and smoke coming from another part. The party approaches under cover of a thunderstorm and Anna and Pancho slay one of the sentries with spells. They hear orcs talking inside one of the towers, Harper thinks it's the leader. Hudora scouts around and finds another orc guarding two stolen wagons and their horses. Giovane kicks open the tower and faces four orcs, he fills the inside of the tower with a Thunderwave and kills one and wounds the others. The orcs attack him and Harper heals him. Pancho and Raidne joins Giovane in the battle, then he casts Thunderwave again, finishing the orcs. Hudora tries to ambush the lone orc but fails and it wounds her badly, she runs back to the party. Pancho heals her. Meanwhile, the orc sentry on the other side of the ruins has spotted the party and begins shooting arrows at the party. Three orcs emerge from the tower next to them and attack. Two more orcs come from the tower across the way and charge but Anna hits one dead center with a Firebolt. Pancho finishes that one with Dissonant Whispers and Hudora, Giovane and Anna drop the other. Hudora clips the archer and he decides to flee since all of the other orcs are dead.
The party searches the ruins and loots the orcs. They find a very fine heavy crossbow in the orc leader's room, Harper takes it. While Raidne and Pancho check out the other end of the ruins, Pancho finds a secret door. Beyond it is a spiral staircase descending into the earth, filled with undisturbed dust and cobwebs. The party decides to rest before exploring further.
Going down into the dungeons, they find two closed doors. Giovane leads them through one into a large curving hallway. Scuttling noises come from the darkness and a pack of giant rats charge them. Pancho slays most of them with a Thunderwave and Giovane kills the last one. Moving further along, they find an open door and three ghouls emerge to attack. Hudora is paralyzed by the first one's touch, but Giovane turns two of them. Harper, Anna and Pancho kill the one that stays to fight. When Raidne goes to investigate the room, another ghoul attacks from an adjacent room. Raidne and Giovane slay that one. The two rooms are old crypts; the ghouls have broken into the tomb to look for dead to eat. Old bones are scattered around and the party recovers some jewelry and coins.

The ghouls fled through a door at the end of the hall and the party follows. Beyond the door is a descending rough hewn passageway opening into a cavern. Small mushrooms and fungus dot the floors in wall, growing in size and numbers until they come to a section of cavern filled with them. There is movement among the mushrooms as three fire beetles work to tend their fungus farm. Skirting the edge of the cave, the party manages to pass though without the beetles attacking them. That small cave gives way to a much larger cavern with an underground pond and here the missing ghouls are waiting. They have recovered and attack the party. The party fights and kills the ghouls. One drops in the water and as the party is cleaning up, the body moves and the water roils. Giant crabs come up out of the water and attack the party. The crabs are heavily armored, but not too tough. Harper and Giovane kill one each, Raidne, Anna and Harper finish the other. They find another entrance into the dungeon from the cave and spot the remains of an elf. They pick up a fine black cloak and a potion. The next passage has a cave in that is open to the outside, the other direction takes them past some cells. The passage opens into a large chamber holding a monster like a giant centipeded with feeding tentacles, it's a carrion crawler. It attacks Giovane, but he shrugs off its poison and the adventurers surround and slay it. The room is filled with debris and bones from the crawler's kills. They find loose coin, a short sword and shield. Moving past that room, the party finds a passage that was apparently dug later; the stonework is much cruder and Giovane thinks it is orc made. At the end of the hall, they find a room which appears to be an orc shrine. A huge armored orc skeleton sits on a throne with a spear whose blade is red hot. Three other orc skeletons kneel before the throne. When the party enters, the large skeleton rises to its feet and booms out a threat in the name of Gruumsh, the orc god and the the other skeletons rise and attack. Pancho kills one, Raidne another and they team up on the last. Meanwhile Hudora, Harper, Giovane and Anna fight and destroy the leader skeleton. They take some jewelry from it and Raidne grabs the spear.

Silly Quotes and Smart Remarks
Describing the Open Lands north of the Eight Kingdoms
Jim "Ruled by petty warlords, retired adventurers"
Stacy "It's Florida"

Following the orcs' trail
Nick "Trailer Park Orcs"

Telling the new players about Caite's Tinder comment
Stacy "It came, it saw, it swiped left"

The thunder storm will cover the sound of their attack on the orcs
Stacy "They won't hear the bodies drop"
Brittany <sings> "Let the bodies hit the floor, hit the floor"

Stacy's rogue is away from the party and badly injured by an orc with a battle axe. She tries making bird noises to attract help
Stacy "Cacaw, cacaw"
Jim "Sounds like a bird with an axe in it"
Brittany "<snorts>"

Discussing the evolution of Dungeons and Dragons from its roots in miniature wargames, like Napoleonic era and medieval games
Nick "Napoleon, he did live action wargaming"

The party finds a group of ghouls that are opening crypts to eat the dead
Stacy "Ooh, I love graverobbing!"
Brittany and Stacy "Hey ghoulfriend!"

Discussing what vulnerabilities ghouls have, they are not affected by running water like vampires are
Jack "Waterboarding is not an option"

The party is attacked by giant crabs
Jack "Who lied on their health form?"