Series History and Records

for What Lurks Beneath

When Rhiassa began its period of rebuilding into the modern era, around the end of the last decade, it was agreed upon by the leaders of the group to add a third yearly event to our calendar. We had noted the decline of the classic one-day dungeon crawl, a type of event much more common years ago, and we decided we could help rekindle that tradition.

It began with a dungeon. We decided to make one from scratch, building off of what we learned from the classic "Lak-cubes" and the more recent "Cheech and Kathy Ls". After months of design and redesign, a trip to New York for some materials, and a grueling few weeks putting everything together, we succeeded in creating thirty of our own "Rhiassan Ls". Over the five years of the plot, the dungeon needed repairs and refitting as we learned what it could and could not do, but it served us faithfully in allowing us to fill a large space with many obstacles that could be moved and altered to provide constant and varied combat challenges.

It continued with a commitment to props and costuming. Having invented the concept of the balaclava mask shortly before, we created dozens of goblins and trolls along with tunics and tabards to go with them. In the following years we added demons, skeletons, kobolds, illithids, imps, and other monster types. A big part of our design philosophy was to create interesting and high-quality items that players would be able to take home with them each year. We knew that great memories and great stories often revolved around keepsakes that players could hold on to for many years.

We set forth the principle that our quests were mostly about combat. We were able to rely on the greater UCONN community as well as the close friendships we held with other nations such as Grimloch and Ashenmark to provide us with a great number of high quality NPCs that could fight all day long. Rather than create legions of bad guys that were hard to defeat because of weapon immunities, we decided to create the concept of a troll that was strong enough to use larger weapons than a player character could. The 10-foot pikes they wielded (amongst other oversized arms) would make a lasting impression on the people who faced off against them.

We created a new paradigm for puzzles. Rather than split the adventuring party between those that fought through the room and those that interacted with a puzzle while they did so, we endeavored to create challenges that the entire questing party would have to engage together. Some of these puzzles involved figuring out the solution to a problem, and many others were physical challenges of some sort, making the players work together in a coordinated activity to clear the way forward.

Through the years we learned a lot. As we gained more experience, we found ways to reduce downtime and increase engagement. We mastered the level of fighting could be very challenging without becoming impossible to overcome. We determined how to make our challenges as entertaining as they were difficult. We learned how to move from throwing a set of combat encounters to actually telling a story.

The latest group of Rhiassans grew up alongside this plotline, learning how to plan quests and administer magic, and build props and all of those other dozens of skills that go into these productions. The players, over the years, slaughtered hundreds upon hundreds of monsters, went toe-to-toe with our puzzles and physical challenges, struggled through boss encounters, and earned every measure of their victories through floor after floor of hard fighting. And they sometimes got turned into frogs.

Throwing the What Lurks Beneath events was a fulfilling and rewarding experience from beginning to end. The lessons we learned and the fun that we had have impacted all of us as eventholders. We are eternally grateful to the members of our community that helped us along the way, and to our players for giving us a fantastic audience to present our story to.

- Jason T Rosa, December 2013

❧ What Lurks Beneath, November 14, 2009:

❦ Event Announcement ❦

Hello great men and women of the Realms,

As the days grow colder and shorter, of course, the thoughts of Rhiassa turn to the harvest and fortification required to endure the winter months. This normally bustling time of our year, however, has been fraught with some difficulty.

For the past couple of weeks, nighttime raids on our storehouses have left guardsmen dead and provisions missing. Far more organized than common petty thefts, the culprits have been able to figure out where the best supplies are being kept and avoid any patrols set by the knights or militia of Rhiassa.

For the time being, we have been able to spread ourselves thin enough to stake out every area of import, and the raids have been halted for now. My gut tells me, however, that this is just a calm before the storm. Initial investigations into the source of the raids point to an older part of Cold Springs with an unused and decrepit catacomb system under the streets.

Since many of you are in the business of adventuring, Rhiassa would appreciate any help you would be willing to lend for an initial foray into that area. We will be gathering an expedition force on the 14th of November. These areas of the underground have never been explored in recorded memory, so dangers and spoils no doubt await. Come prepared for the unknown.

Thank you,
Sir Aeston Stromgate

❦ Wrap Up and Records ❦

This was Rhiassa's first foray into throwing a questing event under the leadership of Jason Rosa. It was also the debut of a new set of dungeon-building equipment that were used and rearranged each level to provide players with a continually changing questing environment throughout the day. Lastly, it was the start of a new dungeon questing style that Rhiassa is hoping to do every year where we run a day-long indoor dungeon crawl for a large (50 player) group while simultaneously running a day-long miniquest on the side that small (5 player) groups get pulled off into for some additional fun and excitement.

All in all, we considered it a great success and were planning the next year's adventure in the days and weeks afterwards. We feel that we gave players an exciting blend of high adventure, drama, combat, roleplaying and above all, fun. Please click on the links below to learn more about our first "What Lurks Beneath" quest event:

Highlights Video

❧ What Lurks Beneath II: The Soul of the Stone, October 30, 2010:

❦ Event Announcement ❦

Hello friends,

A year ago, many of you came to our aid amidst a citywide crisis of raids on our storehouses. Thanks to your efforts we learned of a grave threat beneath our very feet, and due to your victories on that day the raids around Cold Springs abated for some time. Now, however, as we wind down towards the long winter, these attacks have begun again in earnest.

Always with deadly precision, striking areas of the city where our defenses are weakest, the trolls and goblins take what they need and escape before we can respond with a true engagement of our forces. And there is something else; in the aftermath of one raid that did not go in the trolls' favor, we found a piece of manuscript on one of the shaman. Written in elder futhark, it seemed to be part of a spellbook. It read:

The pattern of life flows through all things.
The weaver of that pattern controls all things.
The pattern, broken, is bent to our will.
The soul of the stone stirs... waiting.

I have guessed at the meaning of these words. I have grown concerned by the faint tremors beneath our feet. The time has come again for Rhiassa to seek your aid.

We offer the spoils of war to those of you who would join us on our second expedition into the city's underground. If you wish to take part in this adventure, meet us just north of the city center on the final weekend of October.

My thanks,
Lord Sir Aeston Stromgate

❦ Wrap Up and Records ❦

Our second foray into running dungeon quests was a continuation of the style used in the first year, where we run a day-long indoor dungeon crawl for a large (50 player) group while simultaneously running a day-long miniquest on the side for small (5 player) groups. This year we ran a wall across the middle of the auditorium so that we could run players in one half of the gym while setting up the other half for the next encounter. The goal was to have less down-time and we believe we succeeded at that.

It was a lot of hard work, but in the end we felt this year's quest was as good if not better than the previous installment and we are already looking forward to year three. Please click on the links below to learn more about this second "What Lurks Beneath" quest event:

The Pattern of Life

❧ What Lurks Beneath III: The Will of the Wind, December 03, 2011:

❦ Event Announcement ❦

Hello friends,

Last year, you came to our aid to repel an attack by sinister forces lurking beneath the foundations of Cold Springs. Trolls, goblins, a demonic master of undeath, and a massive stone construct that seemed unstoppable. In the months since then, activities beneath the city seemed to have ceased completely. We have enjoyed a welcome peace.

A few days ago, however, we received a report that a young boy had disappeared. His parents informed the city guard that he would often go exploring in the caverns beneath the city, despite their warnings that they weren't safe. A party was sent to search for the boy. After many hours of searching they found him, slain and left in the dark.

The healers were able to revive him, and after returning him to his parents he was asked what killed him. He said was that while he was exploring he went around a corner and saw a group of trolls. He heard them say was something about "the big day". He tried to run away, but all of a sudden he could hardly run at all. "Like the air had hands and was holding me tight" he said. They came upon him and stabbed him in the back.

Once again, on Behalf of Lord Sir Aeston, I must ask for your aid. Some threat is growing beneath the city, and we must mount an expedition to find it, and stop it. Meet me in Cold Springs in the first weekend of December if you wish to take part. As before, any spoils of war found beneath the city are yours.

My thanks,
Squire Symir Anri

❦ Wrap Up and Records ❦

Our third attempt at telling our story marked the passing of the event holding duties from Jason Rosa to his squire Mike Labossiere. Mike stepped in as the new organizer of this series as his final squirely task and brought to it a new range of ideas and energy that helped spur everyone to success.

Of particular interest regarding the planning and execution of this event is the fact that our reservation for our normal site, the UCONN gym, was repealed only days before the event date and we were forced to relocate and rework our dungeon and puzzle designs the accommodate our new space, the UCONN arena.

Yet our team was able to rise to that and the other challenges along the way and put together another successful questing event. Please visit the links below to learn more about the third "What Lurks Beneath" event in the series.

The Ancient Magic Book
The Children's Spell Primer

❧ What Lurks Beneath IV: The Want of the Water, October 27, 2012:

❦ Event Announcement ❦

Hello friends and allies,

It has been many seasons now since we first began the campaign against the clan of monsters living beneath our very feet. Years ago, in our naivete, we believed them to be little more than disorganized bands, stealing from our storehouses just as a matter of survival. But through your help and several excursions into the Rhiassan underground, we now know the truth to be much more dire.

Thanks to your efforts, we know things about this land that were shrouded in many years of lost history. Aeons ago, long before the civilization of man took root on this spot, a different society called these lands home. A sprawling culture of troll clans, practicing a benevolent shamanistic magic. Yet, as is so often the tragic case, when beset by an overwhelming evil this society could not stand, and though they were able to reach a stalemate with the great, malevolent force we now know as The Great Eye, the price they paid for it was the destruction of everything they had built, and a retreat into the barbarism they are known for even to this day.

And now The Great Eye stirs again. Using a corruption of that same shamanistic magic, it has called forth the descendants of that once-great culture and bent them to its will. What it began countless ages ago it seeks to continue, to gain control over these lands and pervert them toward whatever purpose only a being such as that could understand.

And so again, we much beseech your aid to stop it.

Our scouting attempts have revealed that the trolls have begun an excavation project in the tunnels that run underneath Swift River. Series of water-hollowed caverns and underground lakes dominate the subterranean landscape there and our initial investigations hint that the area will likely be used for their unholy communion with the spirit of water, much as we have already thwarted their attempts to channel the earth and the air to their ends.

We will plan our latest excursion for the final weekend of October. Any who are able to lend their aid will be welcome and as always, the spoils of war belong to those of you who take such great risks on our behalf.

Our deepest thanks, Sir Symir Anri and Sir Aeston Stromgate

❦ Wrap Up and Records ❦

Our fourth effort in telling our story was, by far, our most successful one to date. We were able to build on our previous efforts and years of accumulated props and costumes, and concentrate on all of the little details that would come together to make this year's quest amazing.

We again used the UCONN arena, and knew that we could take advantage of the cement floor with drains, and the spigots on the walls, to throw a water themed event. With a combination of water using puzzles and "underwater" roleplaying encounters, the environment for the quest was just right.

Worth noting was the incredible response that we received to our request for NPCs for this event. We had a huge outpouring of help from the community, and had, at our height, over thirty NPCs playing goblins and trolls for an event capped at fifty players. This allowed us to provide a great level of challenge to the players and we thank our friends for affording us that opportunity.

The Ode to the Ussci

❧ What Lurks Beneath V: The Fury of the Flame, November 02, 2013:

❦ Event Announcement ❦

Friends and worthy heroes of the Realms,

Four years ago, many of you arrived at Cold Springs to help us with what we believed to be a small band of raiding trolls and goblins, helping themselves to the goods in our storehouses before the long winter. We, of course, learned that such a mild assessment of the situation was very incorrect, and in the years of expeditions afterwards, have pieced together a very interesting, and very old story.

We know that countless ages ago the trolls in this region were not brutal savages, but rather a thriving, shamanistic, and overall honorable civilization. As all things that were once great must eventually fall, an otherworldly and unknowable evil besieged their city, its origin a mystery. Though they were able to wrest their magics against it, the ultimate conclusion was their destruction as a culture and the partial defeat of the eldritch horror, so depleted that it fell into an impossibly long sleep, deep underground. These legends, forgotten in the aeons that followed, were buried by time and finally by the construction of our country upon these lands.

Less than a decade ago, a group of adventurers, seeking undiscovered knowledge of the past, wandered the tunnels underneath Cold Springs. These men and women, the Bronze Explorers, first disturbed the slumbers of the ancient evil as their wanderings caused them to transgress upon the magical prison that helped to hold the creature in stasis. As the mind of the being stirred, the remnants of that ancient civilization, the savage trolls of today, were called to its servitude. They began to prepare for the eventual awakening of their new god, and garbed themselves in its heraldry, calling it The Great Eye.

The last few years have seen our continuous struggle against the armies of The Great Eye. Each journey to the underground has pushed us further toward its lair, up until last year where a final confrontation was delayed only by the awakening demon's magical dismissal of the assembled heroes, no doubt out of fear. Now the time comes to march our army for the final time under the streets and sewers of Cold Springs. We will bring final battle to the lair of The Great Eye, now, before its awakening is complete.

The smell of brimstone lingers in the deepest parts of our city, and tremors from deep within the earth are a daily occurrence. Any time remaining is most certainly short. Our scouts have not been idle. The passage forward has been sought and prepared for you. We will plan our final assault on the first weekend of November. All who are willing and able to lend aid are welcome, and the spoils of war are yours for the taking.

We will see you soon.

With much gratitude,
Sir Aeston Stromgate

❦ Wrap Up and Records ❦

The fifth and final chapter of our story was able to wrap up the plotline in the grand fashion that was so important to us from the very beginning. We were able to bring to bear all of the props and costuming that we created and acquired over the four previous years, and add to it with some new creations, including a new set of fabric masks; the imps.

We learned through previous years that our player base truly enjoyed "puzzles" that were group challenges, where every member of the questing party had to work together or contribute in some way to moving forward. We had an abundance of challenges like these and kept our players buy with a non-stop assault of fighting and challenges all day long.

Like last year, we had an overwhelming response to our request for NPCs. We didn't have enough costuming, even, to accommodate the huge turnout that we had. For a capped event of fifty to be able to pull together thirty NPCs is no small feat these days, and we are eternally grateful to our friends for allowing us to really challenge our players with so much combat.