- The party is in possession of three treasure maps, one of which Ahkmed is particularly interested in because it is written in ancient dwarvish.
- Ahkmed also wants to travel to "the south" to find the Elves to discuss his increasingly strange and strong relationship with his sword Hornet.
- Hamlen wants to translate a book written in the same language that is used on his sword Liberator, in hopes that it will help them understand the growing threat of the Masks (the Yellow Lady, for example).
- Dn. Swibish received a letter of summons from his bishop in Redwraith.
- Dn. Goram wants to find a manual on golem building so that he can make one.
- The party still is interested in getting Ahkmed to build them a Gnome.
- Hamlen wants to rebuild "his" bridge over the Dark River on the road to Trisagia.
For the first time in the entire campaign, they decided to forego their usual route in through the Lower Temple and began to map out the monastery proper. Upon finding a well in the courtyard, the party totally committed to going all in, despite the fact that the source of water was an underground river. The trip in nearly killed several NPCs and the party found themselves in a part of the dungeon they had never been to, with no easy way out.
This beginning was symptomatic of much of the evening, where several encounters with various types of vermin nearly killed off several members of the party. A combination of poor tactics, sloppy communication and just plain bad luck almost spelled disaster. So the party holed up in a room, spiked the door and regrouped, and just in time because they were about to find major trouble.
Ahkmed found a secret door that led into some kind of temple or church. Bodies littered the floor. Upon inspection, they were all exsanguinated monks who wore vestments suggesting they had all taken vows of extreme asceticism. Dn. Goram cast a Detect Evil, and then things got ugly.
They found a defiled reliquary with a stone sarcophagus, which Tykris and Hamlen tried to open. Suspecting a mummy, the party was shocked when Tykris was killed when a hand grabbed him and drained him of both his two levels. Kavella, the NPC magic-user, hit it with a Ray of Enfeeblement hoping that whatever it was wouldn't be able to remove the stone lid in order to get out. When the thing turned into a bat and flew out, every one realized just how dangerous a situation they were in.
Fortunately for the party, the player's sloppy play was replaced by their usual brilliant tactics under pressure. They pulled out some stones with Continual Light cast on them to throw at the vampire, while Dn. Goram kept it at bay with both holy symbol and icon — during the fight, he even managed to turn it.
When the dust settled (literally — they used black powder to blow up the sarcophagus in hopes of preventing the vampire from reforming if they forced it into a gaseous form), Hamlen had managed to shove a make-shift wooden stake through the thing's heart after only barely making his saving throw to avoid being charmed. They found the thing dressed in priest's vestments that had been defiled. As the session ended, Dn. Goram made a promise to himself and his brother that he would restore this place to its former glory.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the discussion I had with the players prior to play. As I've noted before, all but one of the guys I pay with learned the game via 3.5 (the one learned from 2nd edition). Despite this, two of them have started Labyrinth Lord/1st edition campaigns. In addition, the GM I swap time with has declared that when his current 3.5 campaign comes to an end, he wants to start up a 1st edition campaign. Though I know better (as I am an active advocate of the older rulesets), I am still amazed at how resilient this marvelous game is.