Session 3 continued from here
Aha - high elf sorcerer
Darrien - human cleric of Pelor
Erevan - high elf rogue
Rajabu - dwarf fighter
Erevan awoke in a bare bones stone chamber. With his low light vision he was able to discern that he was not alone in the room. An unconscious orc lay against the opposite wall, badly wounded. As Erevan rose, he realized that he still possessed all of his gear. He moved to the door and saw the silhouette of a humanoid head through the small, square, barred window. He spoke to the creature, which answered by issuing a foul hissing sound before slowly walking away from the door. Soon, the door opened and Erevan was greeted by an undead female in a lacy gown, and her ghoul bodyguards.
This was a "ghoul princess" that I had broadly sketched out, and we had hinted that it was her in fact that had fled the previous battle down the stairs. Between the last session and this one I laid out the broad stroke for this second dungeon level. It would be inhabited by ghouls, led by a "ghoul lord", with a "ghoul princess" and a ghast named Glustinok as primary NPCs. The basic situation was that the invading orcs had pinned the ghouls down to this level, blocking their access to the tunnels on level one. It was those tunnels that the ghouls were using to get to the graveyard, and their food supply. With the ghouls pinned, the orcs were forcing them into a bargain. The ghouls were giving up members of their own people to the orcs. The orc shaman was using the ghoul specimens to produce thouls in dark ritual. In exchange, the orcs were providing the ghouls with food, either live captives (preferably) or corpses.
The ghoul princess explained to Erevan the he would be brought before the Ghoul Lord, Vhaul Goun, for judgment. They brought him before a looming throne made of bone, with an elderly looking ghoul wearing a coiffed scalp as a hairpiece. Erevan formally bowed before this undead lord, and Vhaul Goun looked pleased at this show of respect. He explained to the elf that the only reason he was alive was because of what he spoke to the ghouls before they subdued him. Erevan remembered his pledge, to help them exterminate the orcs from this place. The ghouls, having witnessed Erevan and his companions' capability in battle, knew that they could serve as powerful allies.
I had sketched the Ghoul Lord out as being a weak leader, who was caving into the demands of the orcs without any real resistance, and his people were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his leadership. At the spur of the moment, I decided that it might be interesting to promote Glustinok's role at this point.
At that moment, a muscular, armored ghoul joined the discussion, and Erevan reeled from the overwhelming stench of decay emanating from his undead flesh. He identified himself as Glustinok, leader of the only faction of ghouls left in this society that were willing to take up arms against the orcs. Glustinok pressed for striking against the orcs quickly, while the Ghoul Lord hemmed and hawed, seeming indecisive. Finally it was settled that they would strike out as soon as all of Erevan's companions had been brought down here. The Ghoul Lord explained that, unless they tried anything stupid, the orcs would deliver them, one by one, down here to the ghouls, as part of their agreement. In fact, Rajabu was brought down, unconscious but alive, that very night. The scene now shifted back to the remaining two heroes in orc hands.
During these scenes, I had to make players leave the gaming room to wait in another room. We played musical chairs for roughly the first half of the session. This isn't something I like to do on a regular basis, and I am always very conscious of keeping the scenes relatively short when the party is split like this. But making the players physically move in and out of the room as scenes change does create that nice element of mystery that keeps them on their toes :)
Session 3 to be continued