Wilderlands Age of Worms

Session 33: Kings of the Rift
Giant-Sized Politics

This is a placeholder for anyone who wants to drop in some notes… hint, hint.

Matt was not present (probably much to his relief, considering how much talking went on), so Ulm was played by Andy.

Waterday, 17th of Sunstrong, 4433

Anmor’s Bullet Points of Note:

  • Anmor has Ioun Stone – Orange Prism +1 Caster Level; found at bottom of canyon on blue dragon we killed last session.
  • begin this session on bridge to large castle, location “K”
  • Knowledge: Religion check gives Anmor all there is the know about Lichs
  • Knowledge: Arcana check gives general Dracolich info, they are each unique and rare, so unable to know much
  • Trying to decide as a party if we should do a few things before moving forward:
  • Nadroc’s Tribute Greater Legacy? (not enough money)
  • Breath Drinker Great Axe to be completed (like 40 days or something)
  • Look for Fang Dragon lair (nobody has spell to do so)
  • Talk to fire giants at “R”, they tell us to leave and our attempts at diplomacy will not help
  • we leave and say we will come back tomorrow
  • Go back to Bragge and Hill Giants
  • Rest that evening and Ulm sneaks about
  • Ulm finds King and gives him circlet so he doesn’t just sit there drooling like an idiot
  • It works and King is Lucid
  • Hill giant king tries to rally his troops, but there are not many
  • King sends us to gate to get his subjects which we agree to do in the morning. He gives us his signet ring so they believe us when we speak for the king.
  • We sleep away the night and awake to loud noise in the morning
  • Tower “J” has collapsed and bodies of Giants fall into the rift as dragons circle above
  • Anmor does his standard morning routine (Heroes’ Feast for the party and False life on himself)
  • We go back to “R” to talk to Fire Giants
  • 3 Green and 2 Blue dragons show up
  • Roll Init, Anmor goes last
  • at some point Anmor goes ethereal so he is not in the firing line of all the dragons; Fire giants help kill dragons a little but not much; fire giants surviving but barely
  • dragons are defeated and someone heals the fire giants (not Anmor)
  • Talk to fire giant leader (King?)
  • Tells us a key has been stolen from them
  • If we find Key and return to them then we will get on their good side
  • We head back to Hill giants and help their king get his buddies/subjects from the gate area
  • We manage to scry on the collapsed tower “J” area and see the undead Ominous Fabler talking to big badass red dragon telling him they will search the ruins for the “McGuffin” and if they don’t find it here they will move to next castle/tower. Big Badass red dragon flies away.
  • remaining near the ruins and searching it are 4 black dragons and the Undead Ominous Fabler who is directing their search efforts.
  • we decide the Ominous Fabler who is undead now, must die as he is definitely not a friend. Having been unable to clearly determine who to help or kill as far as the Giants are concerned, we are happy to have a clear enemy.
  • we buff and dimension door in (I think) next to the Fabler with silence in place. This prevents the Fabler from escaping using whatever he uses to flit away.
  • in two rounds we kill him, and pop away with his body so we don’t need to fight the black dragons
  • we loot his body and get stuff
  • We are not sure if the Fabler had the group of dragons looking for the phylactery (likely) or the stolen key, but we determined that the collapsed tower has nothing of interest and the longer they spend looking there the more time we have to look elsewhere

I think we did one more semi-important thing or encounter after this but I did not write anything.

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Session 32: Kings of the Rift
Deeper into the Rift

Ed and Eric provided the notes that form the basis of this write-up. Dork cards for each. Andy was not present, so the part of Kullen was played by… someone, I can’t remember whom.

Spiritday, 15th of Sunstrong, 4433

goblin_MM35_PG133.jpgThe party began the session standing on a pinnacle of rock jutting out of the floor of Lighthedge Canyon, the site of a ruined tower (location “D” the on the map of Kongen-Thulnir). The action starts with a familiar scene as two invisible blue and three green dragons begin swooping in the direction of the party. Chresin casts dimension door and then re-groups the party inside a nearby building. While they wait for the dragons to fly away, the party spots a goblin cowering behind some rubble outside the building. As the dragons approach, the goblin flees and leaps through a window into the very same room where the party is hiding. Kullen grapples the goblin and the party beguins to question him. The goblin says his name is Egglak and indicates that his job was to “scoop poop” for the giants. He says he is from a northern tribe near Goblin Hill. He also indicates that he has been a slave for less than one moon.

The DM does not recall mentioning Goblin Hill, but it would certainly explain why Anmor became suspicious. Goblin Hill is around 600 miles to the north and across an ocean, so it makes for an unlikely story.

ominousfabler.jpgAnmor becomes suspicious and sees through the goblin’s (illusionary) disguise. The goblin is, in fact, The Ominous Fabler. Furthermore, Anmor notices that the spriggan now has worms crawling out of his eyes. Chresin casts dispel magic, at which point everyone sees him as an undead Favored Spawn of Yog. The Fabler spits a worm onto Kullen, then teleports away, like he did last time. Chresin chastises himself for being “a terrible Duskblade,” believing his impatience was somehow responsible for the Fabler’s escape. The party is left wondering what the Fabler really wanted from them.

Not sure if this came from someone’s knowledge check, but it’s in Ed’s notes so we’ll keep it here: spriggans are fey, similar in appearance to an elf. They can change their size at will. They are friendly with the giants and are shape changers.

The party uses invisibility to move from building to building, as quietly as possible. They make their way past a fortress-like tower manned by hill giants (location “K” on the map).

Round House
This heavily fortified tower rises to a height of 60 feet and is outfitted with two ballistae and one light catapult on the roof, this bunker. Although it appears to have been targeted a few times by the dragons, it remains undamaged for the most part.

Fang_Dragon.jpgAvoiding detection by the giants in the tower, the party continues in this manner until they reach a ledge (location “L” on the map). At this point, they see two dead hill giants. Chresin hears a greater invisibility spell being cast just below the ridge. He informs the rest of the party. While they prepare, he hears displacement and mirror Image being cast as well. The party soon finds out that the spell caster is actually a fang dragon named Xyzanth.

Not sure if Anmor shared what he knows about Xyzanth with the party, but here it is for reference: Xyzanth is a particularly rare dragon known as a fang dragon. Denizens of the most remote mountain ranges, fang dragons lack the distinctive breath weapon attack of most dragons, yet their bite can drain away life at a horrific rate. Xyzanth dwelt in the depths of the Overdoom Mountains, where he warred endlessly with the cavemen and dwarves of the mountains.

As the party prepares, so does the dragon, casting numerous buffing spells. When combat finally begins, the dragon engages Kullen and inflicts massive damage from a single attack.

218 HP to be exact! See what I mean by “their bite can drain away life at a horrific rate?”

Chrisin responds with a polar ray and a pissed-off Kullen pounds the bastard with his greataxe of stuff.

Chresin’s polar ray is a critical hit for 159 HP! He’s not bad at draining away life either, I guess.

A series of spells are cast and one of the Gifts of Sayren-Lei is employed. Eventually, Xyzanth takes enough damage that he decides fleeing is a good idea. Someone uses (wastes?) a dork card to prevent his escape and the party eventually slays the fang dragon.

Here’s the series of spells from Ed’s notes, since he says they seemed significant at the time: spell turning, greater dispel magic, haste, fly, displacement (probably on Kullen), sound lance, bless, heal, stoneskin.

Detecting magic on the dragon’s body, the party finds three magic items: an amulet and two rings. The party decides to rest overnight. Before sleeping, Anmor tends to everyone’s injures and casts the spell mass heal to get everyone back up to normal.

Here’s the list of magic items:
* Amulet of natural armor +5 (from Xyzanth, taken by Kullen)
* Ring of evasion (from Xyzanth, also taken by Kullen)
* Ring of resistance +5 (from Xyzanth, no indication of who took this, maybe it is an item to sell?)
* Amulet of natural armor +2 (from Kullen, taken by Ulm)
* Ring of force shield (I believe from Kullen, listed as an item to sell, but also noted as taken by Ulm?)
* Amulet of natural armor +1 (listed with items to sell, maybe from Ulm?)

Airday, 16th of Sunstrong, 4433

The next day, the party moves south to a large gate (location “M”) that is now destroyed.

King’s Gate Tower
This forty-foot-tall tower stands alongside a twenty-foot-high set of heavy wooden gates built into a stone gatehouse. The tower and gatehouse now stand partially ruined and empty.

As the party examines the area, it becomes obvious that this area had been manned by both hill and fire giants. All are now either dead or have fled from this position. Evidence of dragon bites and breath weapons are seen everywhere. Though the area is largely destroyed, some guy-wires are still intact. Continuing southward, the party comes upon an arch made of blood red stone (location “Q”).

The Blood Arch
This arch of blood-red stone rises 60 feet above the ledge. Its eastern surface is painted with ochre and inscribed with runes. Beyond the arch stretches an unsupported natural stone bridge, 10 feet wide and 10 feet thick.

Anmor studies the runes covering the arch for a while and indicates that the markings are “warnings against enemies and praise for the valor of allies in combat." Among the runes, the word “worm” is used numerous times. It is unclear whether the word is in reference to dragons or to actual worms.

The party notices that many of the structures to the east have collapsed. They decide to continue southward when they hear a voice calling from the ruins. “Help me. Please, help me,” cries an ogre (near, but not exactly at location “P”). They approach and the ogre exclaims “I am Blessed of the Giant Gods! I have been saved and I will save you all.”

The DM only vaguely remembers this encounter with the ogre. Perhaps it was just a means to get the party moving towards some place interesting, because the DM does remember, in detail, the encounter at the barricade that followed.

Finding nothing of interest in the ruins, the party moves up to a barricaded entrance (the actual location “P”). Anmor speaks for the party and, although he manages not to start a fight (surprisingly), the giants behind the barricade have no interest in letting the party inside. He does manage to learn that the giants call themselves the Khargakhan, which is giantish for “Rift Lords,” and that their leader (who is not at the barricade) is named Achaime Silvereye. Anmor recalls something Eligos said (box text repeated below for reference):

eligos.jpgKongen-Thulnir is the home of the Tiamikal Nul-Shada or “Slayers of Tiamat’s Kin” in Giantish. These giants fancy themselves dragon slayers. Curiously, although Kongen-Thulnir has changed hands among giant tribes over the centuries, the giants who live there have always called themselves Tiamikal Nul-Shada, regardless of the specific tribe or type of giant.

Curious about the conflicting tribal names, the party asks about the Tiamikal Nul-Shada and learns that those giants are “religious fanatics” who live in the big castle across the narrow bridge. Their leader is named Kagro Thundersmiter.

blue_dragon_MM35_PG72.jpgAs this interaction is going on, two invisible blue dragons try to sneak up on the party. Ulm and Granuel see them approaching and alert the rest of the party (so they didn’t get a surprise round). Someone uses glitterdust so the dragons are visible to all of the party members. A combination of some powerful spells (i.e., evasculate, channeled pyroburst, and polar ray) and Kullen and Granuel’s tactical brilliance lead to a quick defeat of the two dragons. The giants behind the barricade also throw rocks at the dragons, with little effect.

The party’s impressive defeat of the blue dragons convinces the giants behind the barricade that these little people are allies. Their captain, a hill giant named Bragi Harthgar, allows the party past the entrance into what turns out to be a sort of palace.

Riftlord Palace
The façade of this imposing edifice is heavily damaged, but its interior remains sound. The giant-sized chamber just past the barricade has several vaulted exits and these appear to extend deeply into the wall of Lighthedge Canyon.

Talking to Bragi, the party learns a few things:

  • There are other, less impressive entrances to Riftlord Palace, but they have also been sealed since the dragons attacked,
  • Achaime Silvereye is not available to meet with the party because he is “tired.” Bragi tells the party that he (Bragi) speaks for all of the Riftlords.
  • There is yet another faction of giants in the Canyon. They are called the Khargak-dwergun, or Rift Crawlers in giantish. Bragi says they are “low-class scum.”
  • In addition to the other defenses used against the dragons, the giants also have dead carrion crawler heads that they employ as ammunition in their catapults.

Thanks to Bragi’s permission, the party is able to rest through the night in the entry chamber of Riftlord Palace without incident.

Waterday, 17th of Sunstrong, 4433

vermirox.jpgThe next day, Chresin goes to the Red Arch and carves Bragi’s name into the stone. Then, with larger, bolder lettering, he adds “The Reprisal Squad.” The party starts to cross the bridge (toward location “R”) but Granuel stops them. He points out two invisible blue dragons hovering underneath the structure. The party buffs (protection from electricity, resist energy: electricity, and true seeing). Granuel and Kullen use bows to annoy the dragons and Ulm successfully casts feeblemind. A third blue dragon, named Vermirox, attacks using an unheard of effect, a cone of electricity. A weird spell kills the feebleminded dragon, but the other two survive. A short, fierce battle ensues, but in the end, Vermirox and the other remaining dragons were defeated.

It appears I didn’t give Anmor the handout about Vermirox, but I don’t think he could fail the knowledge check, so here it is now: Vermirox the Vociferous is a loud and obnoxious old blue dragon that has dwelt in Lighthedge Canyon for nearly 500 years. Rumor holds that his lair is an immense cavern known as Wraithkeep near the western end of the canyon.

To end the session, the party begins crossing the bridge towards the Citadel, a massive structure that towers on a pinnacle of rock a thousand feet above the Canyon floor (location “R,” refer back to the map).

XP totals at the end of the session 32:

* Anmor 157,490
* Ulm and Chresin 155,651
* Granuel 151,888
* Kullen 155,713

Everyone except Granuel should already be level 18. Granuel will likely level up sometime next session, but I already have a level 18 sheet for him.

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Session 31: Kings of the Rift
Where in the world is Kongen-Thulnir?

This session’s writeup is entirely thanks to Ed, who put it together with input from Matt and Eric. This makes my life much easier, since I just had to add some links and pictures and such. Dork cards to all three.

133splash.jpg

Earthday, 8th of Sunstrong, 4433

The session began with the party on the Island of Last Resort, on the material plane. The permanent storm that surrounded the island no longer exists, though everything thing else about the island appears as the party remembers it. Kendra’s wrecked ship is washed upon the shore and remains unusable.

Recalling the things that he had seen and heard during the battle with the undead army, Anmor taps into his font of knowledge and shares what he knows about Lighthedge Canyon and Kongen-Thulnir with the rest of the party.

DM: I turned knowledge check details into wiki pages for future reference, as linked above.

The Reprisal Squad realizes they don’t have enough information to safely proceed. They decide to go back to Ut Prandur to re-equip themselves and to meet with various allies. Worried that they may not have a lot of time, the party uses sending spells to notify several of the people that they believe might be able to help.

Several members of the party debate whether or not they should share anything with Lashonna. Anmor and Chresin, out of earshot from Granuel, discuss what they know about Lashonna. They ponder her motives and whether or not being undead means (beyond doubt) that she is evil or has evil intentions. Anmor acknowledges that it is possible for an undead creature to be something other than a purely evil creature and the Lashonna, so far, has not lied to them. He agrees that she might be useful to the party in the future and therefore, they agree that she should be included in the “sendings.”

Having decided their next steps, the party sends their messages, which are listed, with replies, below:

lashonna.jpgTo Lashonna:
We saw you die by Drazzaroth. Going to Ut Prandur. Meet us there as soon as possible

Reply from Lashona:
Death is sore subject. I am not welcome in Ut Prandur. Did you find phylactery? If so, destroy it.

manzoriansquare.jpgTo Manzorian:
Went back in time. Saw Drazzaroth win! May know where phylactery is located. Urgently need your knowledge. Will arrive today.

Reply from Manzorian:
Good work. My advisors will meet you when you arrive.

eligos.jpgTo Eligos:
In Ut Prandur today. Need information on Yog Sothoth, Drazzaroth, phylacteries, and ancient city Kongen Thulnir.

Reply from Eligos:
Already working on Drazzaroth and phylactery. Will look into Kongen Thulnir.

phylactery.jpgHaving sent messages to all of the important people that they know, the Reprisal Squad teleports back to Ut Prandur. Moments after their arrival, Eligos meets them in their Inn. He questions their use of sending, given they were about to teleport right to him. Still, he gives them what information he has been able to learn regarding Drazzaroth and the phylactery. The party describes that they have seen and discuss what type of information they need. They indicate that they will be leaving town the next day, so Eligos sets off to do his researching.

For the remainder of the day, the party set about town, buying and selling items.

  • Sold inventory from Kendra’s group, total value 144,455 GP.
  • Bought an animated heavy steel shield +1 (9,170 GP, Kullen)
  • Purchased a scroll of undeath to death (2,215 GP, Granuel)

Comment from Ed: Houston, we have a problem. I marked the Robe of Eyes as having been sold, but during the adventure, Granuel was clearly using it. That means that the deposit made at the Temple of Nethilis is only 52,080 (i.e., approximate 30,000 GP less that what I mentioned during the session). Please note that we currently do NOT have enough gold to pay the remaining balances for the delivery of the final commission items. We will need to come up with an additional 33,830 GP.

Comment from DM: By the time you get back to pick up your items, it is likely you will have enough treasure to pay the balance, if you don’t already…

Fireday, 9th of Sunstrong, 4433

The next day, an exhausted Eligos comes back to their apartments. He and Anmor talk for several minutes.

eligos.jpgThis doesn’t make any sense. I was cross referencing an item in this book and found a whole new chapter about the Order of the Storm (a druidic order). They, along with their allies, the stone giants, are the ones who hide the phylactery in Kongen-Thulnir. There’s even a detailed picture of the city’s front gates that should be accurate enough to use in conjunction with a teleport spell. And I also found these long lost formulae for the creation of several rare magic items.

The formulae can be found at the Forgotten Magic wiki link.

necronomicon2.jpgAfter Eligos leaves, the members of the Reprisal Squad convince Anmor that it would be best of the party if he spent the time and money (43,000 GP) to unlock the “Greater” powers of the Nethertome of Trask. This task requires the party to remain in Ut Prandur for a week. The rest of the party indicates that they will spend that time commissioning the creation of some of these new, old magic items. They agree that no matter what, they will depart the following week.

Each morning when he wakes up, Chresin feels a strong desire to examine the Arm of Angall. And each day, he takes it from his haversack and places on the table beside his bed. He takes measurements with the Arm and writes coded entries into a small journal. Likewise, he measures the length and diameter of his left arm and adds that information into the journal. Realizing that something is not quite right, Chresin approaches the rest of the party: I fear this arm may be having a strange effect on me. Ulm, would you mind preparing a message for me.

Ulm agrees and the following message and reply are made with Manzorian:

manzoriansquare.jpgTo Manzorian:
Captured “Arm of Angall”. Now feeling odd. Any ideas?

Reply from Manzorian:
I will be right there.

manzorian.jpgManzorian offers to place the Arm of Angall in his vault. He also offers to provide up to 50,000 GP worth of magic items. Anmor and Chresin ask about the possibility of acquiring powerful amulets to help the mental acuity (i.e., Amulets of Intellect +6). He agrees to provide the party with 2 of them in exchange for the Arm of Angall plus an additional 14,000 GP (the difference between the 50,000 GP offer and the actual value of the items, 64,000 GP). A bargain is reached and the gold and amulets are exchanged.

During their week in Ut Prandur, the party commissions the creation of several new magic items. A summary of the transactions is outlined below:

  • 2 scepters of the dragon lords (5,500 GP each)
  • 1 corporeal lodestone (deposit 3,900 GP)
  • 1 doomslayer bow (deposit 5,090 GP).

Chresin deposits the remaining balance of the party treasure in a new account at the Temple of Nepthtyls.

I really ought to create a wiki entry about Nepthtyls…

Also, during the stay in Ut Prandur, Chresin consumes 4 Knowledge Worms. He successfully overcomes the ill-effects of the worms and gains inspired knowledge (i.e., +2 points each, Knowledge: Local, Knowledge: Arcana, Knowledge: Planes, Knowledge: Religion).

Spiritday, 15th of Sunstrong, 4433

Eligos arrives the day the party is scheduled to depart and shares the following information:

eligos.jpgKongen-Thulnir is the home of the Tiamikal Nul-Shada or “Slayers of Tiamat’s Kin” in Giantish. These giants fancy themselves dragon slayers. Curiously, although Kongen-Thulnir has changed hands among giant tribes over the centuries, the giants who live there have always called themselves Tiamikal Nul-Shada, regardless of the specific tribe or type of giant.

DM: I added a little more detail to the above…

Eligos leaves and the party teleports to the front gates of Kongen-Thulnir.

The Reprisal Squad appears outside the closed city gates. A booming voice tells the party to go away. The party tries to convince the guards that they are here to help, but are unable to change their minds. Chresin grew tired of the exchange and simply dimension hopped a few feet beyond the gate and the regrouped the rest of the party alongside him. Despite the awesome display of magic, the giants remain cowering in their tower.

gatesofkongenthulnir.jpg

Looking around, the party notices a significant amount of structural damage to the buildings near this gate. Some damage appears to be recent while other damage may have been due to neglect. To the right of the gate was a cliff the plunged downward to a gorge some 1,000 feet below. In the distance, a battle rages between dozens of chromatic dragons and some kind of giants. The battle is mainly focused on a fortified tower rising up out of the gorge and a portion of the city several hundred meters ahead of the party. Ulm notes that there are at least a dozen large black dragons, ten huge green dragons, and six huge blue dragons.

As the Reprisal Squad is taking stock of the area, Ulm sees a huge black dragon winging towards them. Anmor identifies the huge green dragon as Necrozyte, “The Fiendish.”

necrozyte.jpgNecrozyte the Fiendish

This fiendish old green dragon hails from the Nine Hells, where she served as a guardian over one of Tiamat’s hoards. When a particularly sly adventuring party recently stole a Book of Infinite Spells from this hoard, Tiamat exiled Necrozyte to the Wilderlands, where she has maintained a relatively low profile.

Ulm casts the spell mass invisibility and the party scatters. And then a somewhat chaotic battle follows. Necrozyte breaths on the party and then performs a wing-over attack on Kullen. Ulm tries repeatedly to hit the dragon with a lightning bolt from one of his wands, but has little success overcoming its spell resistance. Granuel uses obscuring mist to provide cover (which unfortunately limits some of Anmor’s actions) and then moves closer to make melee attacks. Chresin performes a massive channeled pyroburst, drawing the ire of the dragon. Necrozyte, _hasted+, then proceeds to pound Chresin into a pulp. Anmor delays death and Granuel performs some healing while Kullen deals the death blow (I loves me some AoOs).

OOC from Ed: On one hand, scattering was a good choice, since spreading out limited how many party members could be hit by a single use of the dragon’s breath weapon. On the other hand, it made limited the usefulness of some spells, because of their area limits and when someone got into trouble (i.e., like, I don’t know, Chresin going to -10 on a single attack), other party members were too far away to help.

The party carefully examines the dead body of the dragon and finds two magical items, an amulet of mighty fists +3 and a ring of invisibility (In Chresin’s handy haversack). Afterwards, Anmor uses his healing feat to get everyone half of their hit point back and then uses a wand of CMW to heal the remaining damage.

ominousfabler.jpgWhile they are recovering, an old “friend,” the Ominous Fabler, wanders out of the rubble and speaks to the party. He tells the party what they already know, that he is a spriggan. He also tells them that he doesn’t really work for Khouligan the Grief-Giver, the Satrap of Lenap. His real master is a stone giant. He thinks the party members are great heroes and would like to chronicle their adventures in song.

Chresin determines that the Fabler is lying through his teeth. Nonchalantly, Chersin bids him to join the party. When the Fabler moves next to him, Chresin successfully grapples him and Granuel ties him up with a rope. Unfortunately, they do not cover his mouth, and he is able use the teleport spell (verbal only) to escape the Reprisal Squad’s control.

Despite a bit of searching, the party was unable to find any sign of the spriggan. They decide to try to coax the giants out of the tower. They hope that they can attain a few allies against the soaring dragons as they move deeper into Kongen-Thulnir. Chresin tries to convince them that the Reprisal Squad is a mighty adventuring group and that they will protect the giants, but he is unsuccessful. Chresin determines that these giants are unwilling to come out because they are petrified. The giants appear to be more impressed by Kullen so he begins to talk to them. The giants share that the current siege began approximately two days earlier. When he suggests that the giants join the party as they try to get to the besieged island, they basically tell the party to buzz off.

Hill-giant_Lokansir.jpgChresin gets tired of the puny excuses, so he makes himself invisible then dimension hops into the tower. Once inside, Chresin finds four hill giants on each level of the tower. They have clubs and piles of rocks that are obviously way too large to be tossed through the arrow slits in the tower. Frustrated, Chresin tries to shock them into action and commands them to open the door. In hindsight, he realized that he should have said this and then moved to a new location. In reality, the frightened giants’ immediate reaction was to swing great big clubs at the precise location from which the voice originated. Two swings missed, but too swings landed.

Chresin was not happy with the results, having wasted two spells and a cure moderate wounds potion.

The party gives up on the giants and begin to walk deeper into the city. Shortly after crossing the aqueduct Ulm looks up and see a group of five dragons approaching: three huge green and two huge blue dragons. Deeming the terrain unsuitable for any kind of defense, the party decides to seek cover. Chresin casts dimension door and lands inside a stone building a few hundred feet away then regroups the party alongside him. Just before being regrouped with the others, Granuel catches a brief glimpse of the Ominous Fabler, but cannot find him again when he glances out of the building. Having nothing visible to attack, the dragons peel off and go back to the main fray.

The party decides to brave the outdoors once again and choose to explore the ruined tower nearby. Ulm looks up at the dragons and notes that an extremely large red appears to directing the group. Anmor studies the dragon more closely and realizes that this dragon is none other than Brazzemal the Burning. Anmor shares the following with the rest of the party.

brazzemal.jpgBrazzemal the Burning, Patriarch of Banzot and Scourge of Krazandol

Brazzemal is a notorious ancient red dragon. Hundreds of years ago, his fury brought an age of fire down upon the fabled dwarven city of Krazandol, as he led his kin, the Dragons of Banzot, in a three-day battle that drove the dwarves out. Countless adventurers have since perished in attempts to locate lost Krazandol through the abandoned caverns of the formerly great Northern Kingdom of Dwarves. Brazzemal himself, however, hasn’t been heard from in nearly two decades.

Hoping to catch sight of the Ominous Fabler, Chresin uses the ring of invisibility, then drops back about 30 feet behind the other party members. The party travels to the cliff wall and examines the damaged bridges. Anmor determines that, while severely damaged, the bridge should be sturdy enough to allow the party to walk across and back without incident. Anything more than that would put them at risk of falling.

greendragon.jpegAs the first party member approaches the bridge, five dragons (four large black and one huge green) swoop down upon the party. Ulm spots them and, therefore, the party is not surprised. Everyone except Chresin gets hit with the dragons’ breath weapons, but little actual damage is sustained. The dragons were foolishly clustered during their attack, so Anmor decides to pull out all of the stops and cast his most powerful spell, weird, at them. All of the black dragons fail their saves and are killed instantly. The green dragon succeeds but is stunned for 1 round. Ulm successfully casts repulsion to prevent the remaining dragon from approaching and the Chresin casts polar ray and shatters the dragon’s heart.

Danger avoided, the party examines the ruined tower. They find nothing of interest though they do learn a little bit about the tactics that they giants are employing against the dragons. First, they use ballistae bolts with chains attached to catch the dragons and prevent them from flying away. Second, they have draped chains from the cliff wall to the base of the tower to entangle any dragon that might try to swoop too low on their attack.

From this vantage point, the party can also see most of Kongen-Thulnir, including another section built lower into the cliffs than the main section.

Comment from DM: And, therefore, a map laying out the city is included on the Kongen-Thulnir wiki page.

Comment from Ed: Down one player and unsure what steps to take next, we called it an evening at this point.

XP totals at the end of the session 31:

* Anmor 151,930
* Ulm and Chresin 150,091
* Granuel 145,598
* Kullen 150,153

Everyone except Granuel will likely level up mid to late next session.

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Session 30: The Library of Last Resort
Kendra Dies

This session was really just three long battles, although the party learned some important information as a result. Information the players probably don’t remember now, four months later. So, the writeup will consist of battle summaries plus boxtext. Hopefully, the boxtext will remind everyone what they learned, as well as refresh their memories as to the whole point of this excursion to the Demi-Plane of Last Resort.

Airday, 6th of Sunstrong, 4433

Having completed the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt, the PCs decide they will finally have to confront Kendra in order to capture the Living Feather of the Roc King and complete the Trials of Tilagos. Knowing that she, likewise, needs their prizes (the Belt, the Thornavale Nightmare’s horn, etc.), they decide to set a devious trap for her. Ulm creates an illusion showing that the titan Krathanos has killed or captured their entire party. Anmor sets some glyph traps around the ruined fortress and the rest of the group takes up defensive positions to see if Kendra will fall into their snare.

KrathanosKeep.jpg

kendra.jpgThe party’s devious plan works fairly well, to a point. When Kendra does her morning scrying on the party, she sees Ulm’s illusions. She’s only too willing to believe it and, therefore, prepares spells appropriate for battling Krathanos (a very different set of spells than she would have prepared to battle the party). Her group arrives at the keep by mid-morning. In addition to Kendra herself, it includes:

  • Krekie, a ravenfolk (a.k.a. kenku) assassin
  • Malhazar the Exiled Flame, an efreeti fighter, and his mount, Black Fire, a cauchemar (or really big nightmare)
  • Jalagar and Sabir Sinfire, demonbrood (a.k.a. tiefling) monks
  • Nalhazzarath, a cornugon devil

Kendra’s team arrives invisibly, but at least some of the party can see them approach. The PCs wait, hopefully, for their enemies to attack the lllusionary titan, but that doesn’t happen. Malhazar and Nalhazzarath can see through the illusion and communicate telepathically with the rest of their group that things are not what they seem. Kendra decides to attack anyway, in spite of being improperly prepared. This will prove to be her undoing.

Malhazar and Nalhazzarath put up a good fight, but the rest of Kendra’s group cannot make their saves against Ulm’s illusion. Kendra also fails in her efforts to dispel the illusion. Frustrated, Malhazar grants her one of his wishes, which she uses to “remove all illusions in the area.” This wish causes Ulm’s illusion to go away, but also dispels Kendra’s group’s invisibility, putting everyone on equal footing. However, our heroes are better positioned and better prepared, so the fight goes their way from this point on.

Kendra extends the action a bit by using another of Malhazar’s wishes to completely heal her group. This wish is too late, though, to save Nalhazzarath, who’s already fallen to Chresin and Kullen. Granuel and Anmor take down Malhazar and his horsie. The Sinfire twins try to guard Kendra against a charging Kullen, but are pretty useless. Kendra tries to touch Kullen with the Arm of Angall, but he survives and, ultimately, strikes the blow that brings down the party’s long-time nemesis!

krekie.jpgPoor Krekie, who’s turned invisible again, is the last survivor of Kendra’s team. He’d been doing nothing useful, because he was paralyzed for most of the fight by one of Anmor’s ghoul glyphs. When that wears off, he tries to avenge Kendra and moves into position to use his death attack on Anmor. Unfortunately, he stumbles into another ghoul glyph, paralyzing him once again, long enough for the party to take him down at their leisure.

Although climatic and very long, this fight may have been the easiest of the session for the party, as we shall see.

The party loots the corpses and finds the Living Feather of the Roc King. Believing they have now satisfied the requirements of the Trials, they set out back across Tilagos to the entrance portal.

I don’t recall what, if anything, the party did about the Arm of Angall. We might need to revisit that, because it could be a big deal…

Earthday, 8th of Sunstrong, 4433

wildwatcher.jpgUpon arriving back at the Portal of Storms, the party finds the wild watchers waiting for them. The wild watchers already seem to know that the PCs have endured the four trials, and three of them (Tylanthros, Beskawahn, and Thadimar) are pleased. The fourth watcher, Sayren-Lei is not. While the other three fey congratulate the PCs on their accomplishment, Sayren-Lei explodes into an angry rant:

“You have proved nothing, slaughtering beasts and Inanna-worshipping dogs. Worse, you allowed the Roc King to perish! The trial asked specifically for his living feather, yet he was nonetheless killed! You are no heroes and I declare that none of you shall taste the waters of the Fountain of Dreams. I contest your doubtful accomplishment, and demand trial by blood. Only if you pathetic mortals can defeat me shall I consider you worthy of the final secrets of the Order of the Storm!"

Tylanthros sighs at this outburst, but informs the PCs that Sayren-Lei does indeed have the right to make such a challenge. So the other three wild watchers step back to a respectable distance to observe the battle between the PCs and Sayren-Lei.

In spite of just being one guy, Sayren-Lei proves much tougher than Kendra’s team. He seems very hard to hurt, with weapons or spells, and is surrounded by an annoying swarm of insects at all times. Although the party is beginning to think they might not prevail, they eventually do enough damage that Sayren-Lei yields. The fey is genuinely impressed with their skill and humbly apologizes, regretting the disparaging remarks he hurled at them. He also grants them his elemental banners (those four flag things on his back in the picture; click this link for details) in thanks as a way to atone for his outburst.

After this apology, the rest of the wild watchers return to the group. Tylanthros gestures silently to the Portal of Storms, and the obsidian platform shimmers and transforms into a remarkable obsidian fountain, its waters cool and sparkling with a rainbow of scintillating light. As the fountain manifests, all of the PCs experience a nearly overwhelming rush of nostalgia for things they’ve cherished in their childhood and a strange gnawing fear of long-forgotten nightmares. As they gaze at the fountain, Tylanthros speaks one final time:

“And so you have earned the right to return the lore of the Order of Storms to the world. The Age of Worms is upon us, and what the powers of old began so long ago now falls to you to complete. Drink deep and remember. Dream the dreams of the ages.”

One of the PCs drinks from the fountain and, as soon as he does, stuff happens:

Descent into Dream

All members of the group become overwhelmed by the sudden rush of alien yet strangely familiar memories. The world around them swirls away into a vortex of lightning and wind, fire and rain, ending in the utter darkness of nothingness. For several moments, they float adrift in this silence, yet it is still long enough to feel the cold perpetuity of the infinite weighing upon them.

Suddenly, the PCs realize they’re standing on a windy bluff overlooking an immense canyon. The din of distant battle finds the PCs’ ears, and as if rising from the ground on ledges and mesas both near and far, armies of creatures fade into view. In the distance, cities smoke in ruin, and the sky is cast with a dark pallor. The cacophonous moans of the undead ride the wind. Although their immediate vicinity remains clear for now, the PCs can see that the armies consist of huge numbers of humanoids fighting against what seems like
an endless wave of undead.

Anmor recognizes this location as LIghthedge Canyon in the Ghinor HIghlands, although it seems somehow less barren than expected. Various party members also recognize some of the undead creatures in the immense battle. There are legions creatures the PCs have fought before — shoggoths, wormcallers, morhgs, eviscerator beetles, overworms, and ulgurstastas. Yet there are other, stranger creatures as well, like enormous worm-dripping centipedes who cause the ground they walk on to boil, immense black scorpions whose mere presence seems to turn the living on their allies, and horrific wormlike dragons who breathe out swaths of writhing green worm swarms. And wheeling in the distant skies above, attended by numerous smaller dragons, is a horrifying shape—a skeletal dragon of great size. obviously Drazzaroth. For all of numerous humanoids that opposed these monsters, it is obvious that they fight a losing battle.

wormmonsters.jpg

The PCs discover that all of their wounds from the battle with Sayren-Lei are healed and that all the spells and other abilities they used in that fight are recharged. Before they can figure out exactly what happened, a voice rings out behind them: “You have arrived.”

A small group of somber druids stands before the PCs. The four druids at the forefront of this group of several dozen look very familiar. Their faces strongly resemble those of the four wild watchers, although younger and more human. The man who addressed them is the one who resembles the wild watcher Tylanthros. His face is gaunt with hardship, and his robes matted with blood. Despite his greeting, he gives no indication that he recognizes the PCs. As he approaches the heroes, he speaks.

phylactery.jpg“The heroes of prophecy. Your timing is perfect. We can hold them no longer, but we have been successful in our task.” The man indicates the dozen or so druids who stand behind him. These druids cluster around a large package, a strange container with its sides carved in the shapes of leering demonic and draconic faces. “Drazzaroth’s phylactery is ours, yet at a great price. His minions even now come for us to reclaim it, and soon he himself shall learn of its theft. We must hide it forever from his reach, for I fear its destruction at this juncture would only drive him to an unstoppable frenzy. But if we can take it from this land, he will sense its loss. He will abandon the army of Yog and they will be lost, without leadership. You must hold off the spawn that even now scramble at the edges of the cliff s around us. Our trusted ally will stall his aerial forces while you must hold off the rest of his spawn long enough for us to transport the phylactery.”

lashonna.jpgAs the druid mentions an ally, a familiar figure steps forward, a young and vivacious woman dressed in ornate silver armor who can be none other than Lashonna, her eyes bright and burning with determination. She speaks to you, but there is no sense of recognition in her eyes. “I shall engage Drazzaroth and his children myself, but I cannot defend against his Swords. They come too, scrambling up to our location even now, along with—something else. Something most unnatural—an abomination. You must hold them off , for all is lost if you fail.” With that final pronouncement, Lashonna spreads wide her arms and transforms into a magnificent silver dragon. With a single tremendous beat of her wings, she launches into the air and soars off toward the distant dracolich.

As she wings away, Tylanthros speaks again. “We go now, to hide the phylactery within its cradle in Kongen-Thulnir. Save us from the Swords of Yog, or the Age of Worms shall doom us all!”

If it’s not clear, the key thing the PC’s learned here is the bit in italics: “to hide the phylactery within its cradle in Kongen-Thulnir.”

As the druids retreat, the PCs fight a couple of waves of Swords of Yog. These creatures channel negative energy to heal themselves and hurt the party, very badly. The PCs only survive because, by some magic or divine intervention, they themselves do not die at -10 hit points. For example, Ulm drags a should-be-dead Anmor out of harms way and feeds him a potion, allowing the archivist to re-enter the fight. Then a horrific undead menace rises up over the edge to join the fight—a creature called a boneyard. This snakelike monster has a body made of thousands of bones, with a head fashioned from an immense dragon’s skull. It swallows Kullen, who also somehow doesn’t die, before the party is able to bring it down. Just as the PCs are about to finish their own desperate fight, they see Drazzaroth deliver a killing blow to Lashonna, whose body falls from
the sky to be lost in the mists of LIghthedge Canyon below.

fightingthedead.jpg

Just after they witness Lashonna’s fall, the PCs experience another gut- wrenching vortex as they return to Tilagos Island. Again, their wounds are healed and their spells restored. Even Anmor and Kullen show no ill effects from their near-death experiences.

Just to clarify, the Tilagos Isle that you have returned to is no longer on the Demi-Plane of Last Resort. So teleportation magic will work again, something that will be important as you decide what to do next.

XP totals at the end of the session 30:

* Anmor 148,615
* Ulm and Chresin 146,776
* Granuel 142,283
* Kullen 146,838

Everyone should be 17th level.

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Session 29: The Library of Last Resort
Gnome versus Titan

Matt was not present this session, so the part of Ulm was played by Andy. Ulm himself got to really shine when he faced off against a titan, which we decided must be the natural enemy of gnomes everywhere.

Spiritday, 20th of Warmshade, 4433

girallon.jpgAfter resting up from their conflict with the Thornvale Nightmare, the Reprisal Squad departs the Beast’s lair and continues southeast out of the Vale. They do not get far before they hear a mighty bellow. Just upslope from them, they see a 35 foot tall four-armed ape (a girallon behemoth) chasing several man-sized devils (bone devils). The devils also spot the party and rush to attack, resulting in a three-way fight as the pursuing giant ape joins in. Only the party survives.

Osyluth.jpgA search of the dead devils turns up a map of Tilagos Island with three (I think) locations marked. The first is the entry portal and the second is marked “Krathanos.” The third is marked “enemies” and corresponds to the party’s location! The map makes the party suspect the devils were sent by someone to spy on them, probably Kendra.

I painstakingly created this map and printed it out as a handout, but apparently forgot to save an electronic version. Thanks to Ed for uploading it. I’ve added it to the Demi-Plane of Last Resort Page. Dork card for Ed.

kendrasquare.jpgNow convinced that Kendra is on to them, the party decides they need to prevent her from using resurrection to duplicate their victory over the Thornvale Nightmare. They return to the cave, cut the horn off of Harrodroth the Nightmare Beast’s body, and push the corpse into a crevasse. They then spend the rest of the day making their way southeast out of the Vale.

Airday, 1st of Sunstrong, 4433

The next morning, as the party prepares to set out, someone spots a magical scrying sensor. The party concludes it is Kendra’s work and Ulm uses a screen spell to make them all seem injured. The group also conducts a fake conversation intended to convince Kendra (or whoever’s watching) that they were unable to defeat the Nightmare Beast. After the sensor winks out, Anmor uses two discern location spells to find first Kendra and then the efreeti they saw with Kendra in Lashonna’s scrying. Both are located near the north coast of the island. The party continues southeast, in the general direction of the location on the map marked “Krathanos,” reaching the middle of the plains between the vale and the forest.

Waterday, 2nd of Sunstrong, 4433

Ulm uses a screen spell to make their campsite look like it’s actually located in the mountains, hoping to deceive Kendra into thinking the party is backtracking on its loop through the mountains. This trick proves worthwhile, since in the morning the party once again spots a scrying sensor. Discern location shows that Kendra has reached the Nightmare Beast cave. She’s traveling with a swiftness that seems beyond the party’s capabilities, but at least she seems to be falling for their ruses. The day’s travel brings the party into the creepy forest once again.

The Forest
This particular forest is a lonesome, alien landscape. Its black, monolithic trees appear to shift unnaturally without the aid of wind. The canopy blocks out the dim light provided by the overcast skies, and the forest is dark as night as a result. The drooping trees continuously weep a thick black ichor. This sap is oily and foul smelling.

Earthday, 3rd of Sunstrong, 4433

Ulm continues to use his screen to make it look like the party is backtracking. Again, this tactic seems useful, since the morning brings another scrying sensor. Discern location shows Kendra is still loitering at the Nightmare Beast cave. Winding their way through the forest, the party soon stumbles upon a huge clearing. From the edge of this space, they can hear an eerie noise. This sound emanates from a huge tree at the center of the clearing.

The Night Twist
No other tree grows near this 50-foot-tall monstrosity. The menacing tree sways hypnotically, its many black branches undulating like serpents, dancing to the tune of its mournful melody. To some, it’s tune sounds like the weeping of a woman who has lost her beloved, while to others it sounds like the cold baleful wind blowing over a desolate graveyard. The tree is obviously old and unspeakably evil.

In the ensuing battle, the tree nearly slays Kullen, but some fortunate divine intervention (specifically, the last minute use of a dork card) saves the barbarian. After a mighty struggle, the party defeats the tree. The party, quite reasonably, concludes that they have completed another of the Trials of Tilagos Island, the Silence of the Doomshroud’s Mournful Song. They stop to rest. Granuel discovers that, because he struck the killing blow on the Night Twist, he is now subject to its death curse. He is afflicted with horrific nightmares each night, suffering 1d10 damage and becoming fatigued and unable to prepare spells for the next 24 hours. The party does not currently have the means to free Granuel from this curse, so he complains a lot.

Fireday, 4th of Sunstrong, 4433

In the morning, Ulm casts another screen spell, the party spots another scrying sensor, and Anmor uses another discern location on Kendra. It seems Kendra is on the move again and, as usual, has traveled much farther than seems possible. Ignoring Kendra’s location for now, which is beyond a day’s travel. The party makes its way out of the forest, continuing towards the location on the map marked “Krathanos.”

Spiritday, 5th of Sunstrong, 4433

gargoyle.jpgLather, rinse, repeat: another screen spell, another scrying sensor spotted, and another discern location on Kendra. It looks like she’s moving around at random. The party continues on its route towards Krathanos and soon spots a group of gargoyles circling in the distance. One of the creatures descends and hails them. It claims it was sent by “Krathanos the Conqueror, exiled by the gods for his designs to rule all of creation, and shackled by the treacherous druids of Tilagos until such time as brave stalwarts arrive to free him.” The gargoyle promises the party food, lodging, and respite if they will follow it to its master’s keep.

Keep of the Shackled Conqueror
The weathered walls of the keep are torn and ragged. They appear to have been battered down on more than one occasion, their chipped stone blocks rebuilt haphazardly into makeshift structures with little integrity. Four crumbling towers overlook the outer courtyard. The archway providing entrance into the compound looms empty, its iron portcullis now nothing more than a heap of twisted black metal lying on the ground nearby. In one corner of the ruin are makeshift cages containing a number of (normal-sized) girallons. They shriek and roar as visitors enter, but cannot escape from their iron barred prisons.

krathanos.jpgDwelling in this ruin is Krathanos the Conqueror, who turns out to be a titan. He stands nearly 25 feet tall, his towering frame sculpted to perfection, with bulging cords of muscle lining every foot of his gigantic torso. His weapon is an immense spiked warhammer. He wears an enormous belt of solid gold encrusted with fist-sized emeralds. Obviously, this is the belt mentioned in the title of wild watchers’ final trial.

Krathanos proves to be more than a bit mentally unstable. He greets the party as if they are honored guests, but seems to expect them to provide the food and spirits. Anmor uses some magic to appease Krathanos’ hunger and Chresin begins asking if the titan’s had any other recent visitors, particularly ones inquiring about his belt. Krathanos laughingly reaches into a discolored sack next to his throne, produces the severed head of a minotaur, and asks if this is the one Chresin’s asking about. The titan says the minotaur came to purchase his golden belt on behalf of some lady with an impressive title, but Krathanos hates things whose heads don’t match the rest of their bodies so he pulled the minotaur’s head off.

In spite of this warning, the party begins politely trying to negotiate for the belt. Krathanos at first seems open to a bargain if the party can find him a way off the island, suggesting a plane shift or gate spell. The party explains they don’t have access to that kind of magic and the negotiations meander around a bit until Krathanos suddenly becomes enraged for no apparent reason and decides he’s going to crush his “honored guests” into paste. There follows a very pitched battle.

Krathanos begins by sweeping the stone lids off the tops of the girallon cages. The girallons climb out and attack the party, while at the same time trying to avoid the crazed titan. Fortunately, Krathanos’ gargoyles minions stay out of it at first. The girallons prove to be only a minor annoyance, but Krathanos himself does some considerable damage with chain lightning and his huge hammer. Granuel has to hide in the walls of the ruined keep when Anmor refuses to be his pet heal-bot. The party somehow manages to chase off the girallons and do a bit of damage to Krathanos without suffering any fatalities.

The tide of battle turns when Ulm uses power word: blind on the injured titan. Krathanos orders his gargoyles into the battle, retreats to the ethereal plane, and begins healing himself. The gargolyes prove to be a dangerous menace, but the rest of the party holds them off while Ulm chases Krathanos into the ethereal plane. Ulm manages to greater dispel the blinded titan back to the Prime, not just once, but twice, allowing the party to do just enough damage to bring down the Shackled Conqueror. So, the party completes the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt, and also collects a lot of other treasure.

XP totals at the end of the session 29:

* Anmor 138,117
* Ulm and Chresin 136,278
* Granuel 129,983
* Kullen 134,538

Anmor, Ulm, and Chresin should level up to 17th for next session. Kullen and Granuel will reach 17th early during Session 30 (assuming everyone doesn’t die, which is a distinct possibility).

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Session 28: The Library of Last Resort
Chasing Kendra

Even though I finished Fallout 4, this post still didn’t get done for two months. Blame Handsome Jack.

Fireday, 9th of Warmshade, 4433 (continued)

mazeofmenhirs.jpgIn the Maze of Menhirs, after defeating the rune-covered ropers, the party examines the glowing green crystals that grow at the base of a stalagmite in this area. Anmor (or Chresin? or Ulm?) determines that the crystals are vaguely magical, but cannot discern their purpose. To be safe, the party gathers up every last one of the crystals and stuffs them into backpacks and bags. Anmor also deciphers the runes on the dead ropers and the stalgmites. They are written in Druidic—their topics vary wildly. Some of them detail aspects of the natural world like local weather patterns or the eating habits of sharks, while others are simply gibberish. The party continues wandering through the maze, until they come to a flooded area.

Pool of Red Crystals
A murky tidal pool thick with moldering driftwood and clumps of seaweed fills this bowlshaped opening in the ruins. Growing from this tangle of wood and water is an immense black plant. Its roots coil out through the surrounding water and its twisted trunk supports eight rubbery-looking dark branches that sway gently in the wind.

The strange and ominous plant floating on this pool’s surface turns out to be a dangerous predator called an octopus tree. It tries to eat some party members while screening others off with a wall of thorns. It also calls lightning. The party prevails and dives in the pool to find a bed of red crystals at the bottom. Still unsure of the crystals’ purpose, the party gathers up every last one, then continues wandering through the maze.

The PCs recognize a McGuffin when they see one, particularly when they are different colors. Anyone remember the Whispering Cairn?

Hidden Camp
This section of the ruin seems more dilapidated than the rest; an entire section of wall to the south here has collapsed into a sizable mound of broken stone at some time in the distant past.

kendrasquare.jpgSomeone, still detecting magic from examining the crystals, recognizes that the pile of rubble is an illusion. Disbelieving it reveals simple campsite consisting of a bedroll and an unlit campfire. Searching the campsite, the party turns up some black feathers, but nothing else. Certain this campsite has something to do with Kendra, but unable to do anything about it, the party continues wandering through the maze.

Crystal Pedestal
What once may have been a collection of four impressive statues of marble and basalt has been reduced to a pile of shattered rubble. Fragments of the statues lie in heaps throughout this area.

Absolutely certain the statues are going to come to life, the party proceeds carefully. They are pleasantly surprised when they aren’t attacked. A search of the area reveals traces of blood sheltered from the constant drizzling rain by an overhanging rock, indicating a battle took place here. Furthermore, someone notices a strange flickering blue glow coming from below the fallen torso of one of the statues. Although the statue weighs 500 pounds, a little effort from Kullen is enough reveal a swath of shattered blue crystals on the ground below the statue. The party gathers up all of the broken pieces and continues wandering through the maze until they come out in an open area on the other side.

Portal of Storms
A circular disc hewn from obsidian lies here, its rim decorated with strange runes. At three points around the disc’s circumference, stylized eyes have been carved, each with a shallow hollow carved within to represent the pupil.

Anmor translates the runes on the disc. They repeat a simple phrase in Druidic: “Return my eyes to me, and I shall gaze through the storm.” Detect magic reveals that the platform exudes teleportation magic. Even without these clues, the party’s sure of what they need to do: stick the crystals in the eye sockets. But, of course, the broken blue crystals are in pieces, and no amount of puzzling will put them together enough to fit perfectly in the socket. So Anmor greater teleports back to his school at the Citadel of Tomes (or to Ut Prandur or Tula or somewhere) to get a scroll of make whole. The rest of the party waits, prepared to be ambushed by Kendra while Anmor is gone.

Spiritday, 10th of Warmshade, 4433

Anmor returns with his scroll and is pleasantly surprised to discover that Kendra did not show up. As a result, his party was not murdered in his absence, nor did they rob him of his righteous vengeance. He fixes the crystal and the party sticks the variously colored McGuffins in the eyesockets, guessing as best they can about which one goes where. Doing so causes the runes along the disc’s rim to glow with the colors of the gemstones, these colors fading into each other as the runes wind around the circle toward the next crystal in line. As expected, a portal opens atop the pedestal. At the same time, the portal exudes a powerful aura of Neutrality, causing the (highly Lawful Good) Granuel to turn away from it and refuse to go near. Somehow (Dispel magic? Tying him up and dragging him through? Bashing him on the head?), the party manages to get him to enter anyway.

The Demi-Plane of Last Resort
The sudden shift in environment is shocking and overwhelming for a moment. The sound of the raging tempest is gone, replaced by a gentle wind carrying birdsongs and the drone of buzzing insects. The sky above is overcast, yet it doesn’t seem ready to storm.

The edge of a sprawling black forest, dense and overgrown, fills the view in one direction. Tall trees sag with branches heavy with moss, their dark eaves dropping to the ground in some places. From within comes a cacophony of insects and singing birds. Now and then, a ghostly green glow appears within, only to fade moments later, as if whatever creature was generating the light was afraid to be seen.

In the other directions grassy hills rise. Opposite the forest, these hills eventually become a range of rocky, barren mountains. A flash of brilliant lightning ignites the sky above the mountains for a moment, and the distant peal of muted thunder echoes down the slopes a few moments after.

tilagos.jpgThe party is now on the Demi-Plane of Last Resort, which consists of Tilagos Island as it was before the Order of the Storm hid it away (see here for a refresher). Anmor is disappointed to see that there’s no immediate evidence of a library of any kind. The DM is kind enough to give them a map, which they will use to plan their further explorations. Before they can examine the map in detail, a group of four enigmatic figures emerges directly from inside the trees at the edge of the woods (transport via plants, for the record). One of them introduces himself.

wildwatcher.jpg“I am Tylanthros, guardian of this realm. We are the Last Resort, as surely as the trees and stones and sea and air around you. We protect the secrets of this island from all trespassers. You have mastered the portal of storms, and therefore must be brave, but it remains to be seen if you belong here at all. Why have you come to Last Resort?”

The party explains they’re looking for a library, so Tylanthros and his friends launch into a scripted dialog, which the party refrains, for once, from interrupting.

“You seek the Fountain, although you do not yet realize it. The Fountain of Dreams is linked to all things in Last Resort. The earth, the dark trees of the Doomshroud, the clouds above, my life and that of my brothers are a part of it. If the waters are consumed, the Order of the Storm’s rite is undone. The secrets kept from the world will be released, and the great creatures of legend imprisoned here on this isle shall be unleashed upon the Prime once more. You say you are heroes? This remains to be seen. Accomplish four tasks and prove yourselves to be the heroes of old returned. The Fountain shall not be despoiled lightly.”

The strange creature looks at his four brothers, then back to you. “The Fountain of Dreams shall know those destined for its gifts in but one way. It will know them by the Trials of Tilagos. Survive these trials, and you may slake your thirst on what you seek. Fail, and Last Resort shall be your grave. I am Tylanthros, and the first trial is the Claiming of Krathanos’s Golden Belt.”

A second of the quartet of creatures speaks up next. “I am Beskawahn, and the second trial is the Silence of the Doomshroud’s Mournful Song."

The third speaks. “I am Thadimar, and the third trial is the Death of the Thorn Vale Nightmare.”

Finally, the last creature speaks. “I am Sayren-Lei, and the final trial is the Harvest of the Living Feather of the Roc King.”

Tylanthros speaks again. “These trials complete, return here and we shall show you the Fountain of Dreams. Until then, we shall watch. And wait.”

The party then asks about Kendra, to which Tylanthros responds:

“You speak of the woman with the rotting hand? She has come to Tilagos with her flock, seeking knowledge as you do. Even as you linger, they seek to complete the tasks we have named. If they outspeed you, then the secrets of the Fountain are theirs. Who claims the secrets of the Fountain matters little to us, for once these secrets are claimed our role in Last Resort has come to an end.”

Given their priorities, I’m pretty sure the party asked their questions in the opposite order: Kendra, then the library, but I’m too lazy to rewrite the boxtext script to reflect that.

The party tries to ask more questions, like about what exactly the trials entail (e.g., Who’s Krathanos? What’s a Doomshroud?), but fail the diplomacy check required to get the Wild Watchers to answer. The enigmatic quartet merges with the trees again and disappears.

Anmor tries some divination magic and confirms that Kendra’s here. She seems to be at the edge of the mountains to the north. The party loads up on buff spells and Anmor tries to teleport them right to her. His teleportation fails and the group soon discovers that teleport spells don’t work on this plane. Therefore, they start walking, cutting through the woods to head in Kendra’s direction.

The Forest
This particular forest is a lonesome, alien landscape. Its black, monolithic trees appear to shift unnaturally without the aid of wind. The canopy blocks out the dim light provided by the overcast skies, and the forest is dark as night as a result. The drooping trees continuously weep a thick black ichor. This sap is oily and foul smelling.

Airday, 11th of Warmshade through Waterday, 12th of Warmshade, 4433

In spite of the unpleasant surroundings, the party goes unmolested and makes reasonable speed through the forest. Anmor’s divination magic shows that Kendra is leaving the mountains and heading toward the forest. The group continues on a course to intercept her. By the end of the third day in the woods, however, Anmor’s magic shows that Kendra is now out on the plains and moving much faster than expected. In fact, she’s like on the other side of the woods now and their intercept course is ruined. The group will surely not to be able to catch her, so they decide to try and continue north and look for some of the trials instead. They figure the Roc King’s probably in the mountains, right?

Earthday, 13th of Warmshade, 4433

packlord.jpgAt the start of the day the party emerges from the north side of the forest. In spite of the more pleasant environment, it is here they find themselves attacked. A group of extra-big displacer beasts (Pack Lords) assaults the party, but the group defeats the creatures rather easily. The party continues northwest towards the mountains, using restoration spells to negate their fatigue and make double the progress.

If an entire displacer beast pack is made up of Pack Lords, what is the lord of the pack called? The Pack Lord Pack Pack Lord?

Fireday, 14th of Warmshade and Spiritday 15th of Warmshade, 4433

The party skirts the edge of the mountains then ascends, climbing to the top of what is obviously the highest peak. Though the climb is harrowing (did I forget to ask for climb checks?), the party ascends to the top without trouble. Here they find a huge nest that, unfortunately, contains a very dead gigantic roc, sprawled in a shallow lake of blood. It looks like Kendra’s been here already and has prevented the party from Harvesting the Living Feather of the Roc King. Discouraged, the party descends the mountain.

Airday, 16th of Warmshade through Earthday, 18th of Warmshade, 4433

The party struggles west-southwest through the mountains towards the top of a valley that could offer easy descent to the plains in the direction where they now know Kendra to be. They reach the head of this valley to discover that it teems with wild underbrush bedecked with vicious irony thorns growing as long as six inches each. The thorns grow to a height of 10 feet in the vale, and no trail or track leads through them.

“Vicious irony” thorns is a direct quote from the module. Isn’t that ironic, don’t you think? Given that the party thought the valley would be easier going?

Fireday, 19th of Warmshade, 4433

When wake in the morning, some of the party members report suffering from horrid, vivid nightmares of being stalked and killed by monsters, demons, cruel enemies, etc. Shrugging off this odd occurrence, our heroes continue their travels.

I’m fairly certain I either forgot to have the nightmares happen or that everyone made their save. But they make what happens next more interesting, so I’m retconning them in.

MM35_PG30.jpgThe party starts pushing its way through the thorns and is soon assaulted by an extra-large bullette (Landshark!). They defeat it in a battle so forgettable that I completely forgot to include it in my first pass through this writeup (even though I had it in my XP accounting).

The party decides to continue along the side slopes of the valley, preferring the rugged terrain to the pointy (ironic) thorns at the bottom of the valley. This route proves a fortunate choice, as the clear view allows them to spot a cave some distance up the slope on the side they’re traveling. Clouds of steam constantly vent up from the cave opening. The party investigates.

nightmarebeast.jpgThe cave is filled with steam, so Anmor summons some creepy giant bats and sends them in. He can see with their senses and, as the bats fly through the cave, notes two wide crevasses that nearly cross the cavern. The crevasses constantly vent the thick clouds of steam that waft along the ceiling to escape via the cave mouth. Reaching the other end of the cave, the bats find a nightmarish creature known, appropriately, as a nightmare beast and engage in battle. Some party members (Kullen at least) blindly leap the crevasses to join the bats and the group eventually defeats the creature (whose name was Harrodroth, not that it matters).

Strewn about the far end of the cavern is a tangle of corpses and some treasure. For now, though, the party stops to rest, satisfied with the reasonable conclusion that they have achieved the Death of the Thorn Vale Nightmare, preventing Kendra from completing that trial.

XP totals at the end of the session 28:

* Anmor 125,637
* Ulm and Chresin 123,798
* Granuel 115,583
* Kullen 122,058

Kullen should level up to 16th now. Granuel will reach 16th sometime during Session 29 (if he survives).

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Session 27: The Library of Last Resort
Arguing with Undead Dragons

lastresort.jpg

This write up was greatly delayed by Fallout 4. Blame any inaccuracies on The Institute.

Earthday, 3rd of Warmshade, 4433

blessedangel.jpgHaving ruined Satrap Khouligan’s dinner party, the party flees back to their suite of rooms at the Deluxry to retrieve their stashed loot. While Anmor dons his armor, they discuss what to do next. Their discussion continues until they are interrupted by a serving maid from the bar below, who comes up into the corridor leading to their rooms to announce they have visitors. When party members enter the hall to question the serving maid, three Blessed Angels come crashing through the windows of their suite. The serving maid also turns out to be a Blessed Angel, magically disguised. After a struggle, the party defeats the “angels.”

Deciding that they need to either talk to (as originally planned) or fight (based on the discovery that she’s undead) Lashonna, they attempt to dimension door directly inside her mansion, Mistwall Manor. Chresin’s spell fails completely, blocked by powerful magic. Based on the nature of the blocking magic, Chresin suspects that more powerful teleportation spells would not be blocked, but instead diverted, perhaps to somewhere bad. Given this difficulty, the party goes back to discussing what to do next.

lashonna.jpgTheir discussion continues until they are interrupted by four more Blessed Angels, who appear out of thin air in their rooms! Rather than repeat the last fight, Chresin dimension doors the party out of the city, back to the half-finished mansion near the Traitors’ Graves. Tabling their discussion for a while (because Blessed Angels seem to show up whenever they talk for too long), they decide to take a rest. During the night, Granuelreceives a sending from Lashonna herself. The sending says something like “Heard you want to talk. Truce? If so, come to Mistwall Manor midnight tomorrow night. Safe from Blessed Angels.” To the rest of the party’s surprise, Granuel agrees.

Midnight, Fireday, 4th of Warmshade, 4433

The party teleports to the front gate of Mistwall Manor. They are greeted by a tall, gaunt half-orc named Kelgorn who walks with a limp. He escorts them through a luxurious courtyard of fountains and topiaries, into the front parlor, and then up a spiraling marble staircase to Lashonna’s private study and reading room.

Lashonna’s Parlor
The walls of this spacious, tastefully decorated study are filled with shelves of leatherbound tomes on a wide variety of topics. A large desk sits against the far wall, its surface empty save for a stack of tattered pieces of yellowed paper. The carpet is a deep shade of crimson, and arrayed on it in a semicircle before the desk are several high-backed chairs fitted with velvet cushions.

lashonnatall.jpgLashonna waits here for the party, wrapped in a gold-trimmed gown of the very latest fashion and cut to accentuate her near-perfect figure. As the group enters, a delighted smile dances upon her scarlet lips before she dismisses her manservant. “You won’t be needed any longer Kelgorn, I’m sure I’ll be quite well attended to, with such pleasing guests to keep me company. Good night.” Lashonna apologizes for the late hour but says that, if the party’s reasons for consulting her are what she suspect they are, their discussion is “…not something the sunlit world wants to hear.”

balakardesquare.jpgThe conversation starts out politely enough and compliments are even exchanged. The party explains that they have come to Lashonna looking for information on the whereabouts of Balakarde. Lashonna is unsurprised; this topic is what she guessed the party wanted to dicuss. She hands over several tattered pages and says, “Balakarde’s journal, or what’s left of it, in any event. You’ll see he’s quite mad. Obsessed, the poor dear, and with worms no less. Tiresome. But please, look it over, and then we can talk.”

Balakarde’s journal fragments can be found here. Once the party has digested the contents of the journal, Lashonna explains what she believes must be done to prevent the Age of Worms.

Or rather, she attempts to explain. Anmor interrupts her (about every third sentence) and forces her to digress into various arguments about her intentions and what the party’s actual priorities should be. I have not attempted to recreate that dialog, although I have alluded to Anmor’s objections following the summary of Lashonna’s side of the story.

dragonflight01.jpgThe full text of what Lashonna said (or would have said, if not interrupted) can be found here. For convenience, here’s the synopsis:

  • Drazzaroth intends to release Yog-Sothoth and start the Age of Worms.
  • Drazzaroth is a lich, so if you want to defeat him, you should destroy his phylactery first.
  • Thanks to the Order of the Storm, no one, not even Drazzaroth, knows where his phylactery is.
  • The Order of the Storm had a hidden library located on Tilagos Island in the Sea of Five Winds.
  • This hidden library might contain an account of the hiding place of Drazzaroth’s phylactery.

Lashonna goes on to point out three problems:

  1. Tilagos Island is guarded by eternal storms, wrecking all ships that approach.
  2. The library itself is actually no longer on the material plane, although lore suggests the Island has a way to reach it.
  3. Heskin, a former employee of Lashonna’s, has revealed all this information to the Triad of Sixes; even now, he could be guiding their agents to Tilagos Island and the Library of Last Resort.

Anmor is suspicious and does not want to go along with Lashonna’s plan. During his arguments, he explains that what he really cares about is getting revenge on Loris Raknian and Kendra. In response to this, Lashonna explains that he should really have a peek at Heskin and his new friends. She produces a small lock of hair tied with a gold wire on a fine gold chain—she explains she “procured” this bit of hair from Heskin’s barber—produces a scroll of greater scrying from her desk. The party watches along with her as she scries on Heskin.

Scrying on Heskin and His New Friends
A tumultuous scene fades into view in the middle of the room for all to observe, along with the howling sound of an oceanic tempest. The image clears to show a deathly pale man lashed to a ship’s mast with several coils of rope. Although details beyond a ten-foot-radius around Heskin are hazy and unclear, it’s obvious that the ship is caught in a tremendous storm—the decks are awash in foamy water as both waves and driving sheets of rain torment the terrified man. Sounds of gruff sailors shouting commands and curses in Orc can be heard under the raging tumult of the storm, and now and then, frantic orc sailors move quickly into view and then back into obscurity as they busy themselves at securing the ship.

At one point, two lithe, cloaked figures drop to the deck from the rigging on either side of Heskin. They are identically dressed in tightly wrapped silken scarves, small devilish horns sprouting from their heads. The cloaked figures spare condescending glances at Heskin, their eyes glowing faintly with infernal fire before they move out of sight toward the ship’s unseen bow.

Soon thereafter, a blazing red-skinned humanoid with an immense, bulging frame strides almost casually through the scene. The rain sizzles into steam as it strikes his burning skin. As he reaches Heskin, he looks down at the man and then looks toward the bow, crying out, “Mistress! It looks like your pet might be taking on water!” With that, the creature explodes into a tremendous belly laugh.

A few moments later, another two figures step into view. The smaller of the two is a shifty eyed humanoid bird who wears a hooded cloak and carries a repeating crossbow. The other is a woman in robes trimmed with eye designs. Her cowl protects her face from the wind and her hands are obscured by long, rainsoaked sleeves. She squats before Heskin and speaks to him in a low voice, “Only a few hours more, lover, and we shall see if you live or die.” Suddenly, the woman’s head whips around to look directly into the scrying sensor. It’s Kendra!

kendra.jpgHer face twists into a snarl as she stands. “It seems we have guests, my friends,” she says. “Perhaps allies of this cur?” She turns back to the bound man, and as she does she pulls back her left sleeve, revealing a rotten, black-nailed appendage that seems to writhe and twitch with its own life. “We can’t have your friends watching us, so it seems your journey comes to an early end, Heskin!” The putrid hand unfurls and reaches out to caress Heskin’s brow. Heskin shrieks in mortal pain as the fingertip freezes the skin it touches into an angry black scar. Kendra then makes a fist and utters a single unintelligible word. As he utters the word, Hesken’s eyes bulge, the cords in his neck throb, and he slumps against his bonds, dead. The scrying link is broken, and the image fades from view.

Anmor recognizes that Kendra’s corpse-like hand is none other than one of the two notorious Hands of Angall, severed from his human form before his ascension to godhood (in case you didn’t remember from the vision you saw at Kuluth-Mar). The Hand is capable of creating a blasphemy effect, which explains what happened to Heskin.

After the vision, Lashonna returns to her seat, obviously a little shaken by the revelation that one of the Hands of Angall has entered play. She’s quick to recover, though, and uses this knowledge to try to convince Anmor to make haste in the party’s journey to Tilagos Island. She (and the DM and the rest of the party) expects him to be persuaded because of the opportunity to pursue Kendra. He continues to be stubborn and argumentative. Some of his objections include:

  • Lashonna is undead and, therefore, probably evil and not to be trusted.
  • Satrap Khouligan is a bad man and probably involved in all this somehow.
  • There’s a ziggurat being built right here in Lenap and ziggurats are always involved with attempts to summon Yog.

Lashonna counters that:

  • Undead, evil, or whatever, she has no interest in the world being consumed by the Age of Worms. Specifically: “What I am shouldn’t matter. I’ve spent years getting where I am, and I’m not about to see all that washed away by Drazzaroth, and neither should you. Take care of Drazzaroth, and if you still feel that I can’t be trusted, you know where to find me.”
  • Khouligan is a proven enemy of the Triad of Sixes. Although he’s easily manipulated, Lashonna’s the one doing the manipulating, not the Triad or the Cult of Yog, so he’s no threat.
  • She is working behind the scenes to slow construction of the “Great Project” and assures Anmor that the ziggurat will never be completed. Opposing it directly, though, would upset the delicate political balance she’s built here.

Anmor remains unconvinced and continues to argue. The rest of the party becomes bored and wanders off to find some food. Lashonna finally gets frustrated with Anmor’s recalcitrance and charms him. Because of the magic, he instantly becomes pleasant and agreeable and sees the wisdom of her plan. He gathers the party and begins to lead them off on their new quest. On the way out of Mistwall Manor, Chresin, suspicious of Anmor’s sudden change of heart, casts some dispelling magic. With the charm effect gone, Anmor becomes angry and smashes a priceless antique vase in the foyer. But the party exits the mansion and goes ahead with Lashonna’s plan anyway.

Spiritday, 5th of Warmshade through Earthday, 8th of Warmsade, 4433

The party teleports back to Ut-Prandur and prepares themselves for their journey. After a bit of discussion (not interrupted by Blessed Angels this time), they decide to try teleporting to the ship they saw in Lashonna’s scrying.

I have no recollection of what they did there or whether they told anyone about what happened in Lenap or what they planned to do next. I suppose it doesn’t matter very much.

Fireday, 9th of Warmshade, 4433

Teleportation brings the party to the ship where they saw Heskin die. They find themselves standing on the slanted deck of one half of the gigantic sailing cog, which lies broken in two against a jagged rock on the beach of what is obviously Tilagos Island. The broken ship itself, along with the beach and a portion of the island further inland exist in a sheltered dome of relatively calm winds and constant rainy drizzle. However, a maelstrom of hurricane force winds rages all around the area outside a circle of about 400 feet in diameter, including above at a height of about 60 feet.

Shipwreck Beach
The beachhead is littered with driftwood and the splintered ruin of well over a hundred ships. These skeletal wrecks crowd the rocky shoreline, a veritable city of barnacle-claimed vessels peopled with dead sailors. Broken skeletons wrapped in threadbare rags hang out of yawning breaches in the ships’ hulls, and tattered sails whip in the fierce winds sweeping the shoreline. Beyond the shore, the rocky beach angles up
slightly to an ancient maze of ruined walls and standing stones.

Not liking the looks of the beach one bit, the party dimension doors (or dimension hops or something) right into the ruins, avoiding the beach altogether (and an encounter in the process). They make their way through a veritable “maze of menhirs” until they come upon a somewhat open area.

The Forest of Stony Teeth
The ruins here are complicated with a new feature; numerous spindly stone stalagmites fill the area. The rocky growths are carved with strange slash-like glyphs along vertical lines, but seem to have no other purpose. A small tangle of green glowing crystals grows from the base of a stalagmite near the center of this area.

The party proceeds through this area carefully, but is attacked anyway. The stalagmites turn out to be ropers, unusual because they are covered in strange runes, but otherwise typical of the species. The PCs defeat them without too much difficulty.

So, with a bit of effort, the party was kept on the railroad. XP totals at the end of the session:

* Anmor 120,447
* Ulm and Chresin 118,608
* Granuel 108,983
* Kullen 115,458

Anmor already has enough to reach 16th and Ulm and Chresin probably will have enough by the time the party stops to rest, which could happen mid-session.

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Session 26: The Satrap of Lenap
How to Ruin a Dinner Party

Warned ahead of time that there would be more socializing than fighting this session, our heroes lasted quite a while before becoming fed up and trying to start something. Still, they brought the Satrap’s anniversary celebration to a premature end, causing exactly the sort of diplomatic incident I expected of them.

Airday, 1st of Warmshade, 4433 (continued)

We find the party as we left them: minus Granuel, staring down a deep well, wondering about a creepy statue. They decide to spend some more fly charges and make their way down to the bottom.

The Overgod’s Court
The well empties through the ceiling of an immense chamber, its domed roof a full fifty feet over a black floor worn smooth by the passage of countless creatures. Alcoves in the north and south wall hold wretched statues of worm-like monsters coiled around pillars of skulls and bones. A single object occupies the room’s eastern half—a huge statue of a humanoid monster. The thirty-foot tall statue seems to be made of some strange black stone that looks almost like leather in some places. It has breasts, two arms, two tentacles, and two stumps where two more arms should be. One of its upper arms wields a big axe.

To everyone’s (by which I mean no one’s) surprise, the moment someone touches the floor, the statue comes to life. Anmor is relieved when he realizes the statue is actually an evil outsider, an avatar of the Triad of Sixes’ hypothetical overgod, instead of a construct. This means his dark knowledge will work on it. Still, with axe, claw, and tentacle, the overgod nearly makes mincemeat of Kullen before the party destroys it.

This was the only planned combat of the session and Buddy, who wouldn’t arrive until later in the session, wasn’t even there to see it. Although, it was a good, long fight, I was skeptical that it would be enough to satisfy the party’s bloodlust for the whole night…

A search of the chamber reveals that one of the walls seems hollow. Finding no obvious way to open the wall, Chresin teleports the party past it. They find themselves in an airless vault. Ulm immediately turns ethereal to escape, while Kullen batters down the wall, providing air before anyone can suffocate (which takes forever in D&D anyway).

Inside the vault, the party finds four chests the size of steamer trunks, full of lots of excellent treasure. More significantly, they find a leather-bound ledger bearing no title. It appears to be nothing more than an out-of-date list of the vault’s contents, but detect magic reveals it to be something more. By dispelling the magic, the party finds that it is, in fact, a list of names and locations. They recognize some of the entries: Theldrick Rastingdrung, Faceless One – Rastingdrung, and Ilthane Lenap, Traitor’s Graves. These names, however, are crossed out.

Two other names they recognize are not crossed out: Loris Raknian and Kendra. Their locations, however, have been crossed out and replaced with question marks. The last recorded location of each is Tula. The party does not recognize the rest of the names, but given the association of those they do know with the Triad of Sixes, this information will likely be valuable in the future. It could be a tool to help find and defeat the Triad. Anmor uses a spell to copy the data.

Ding, bonus XP for finding and translating the ledger…

Surmising from the recent information about Ilthane’s status that someone must update the ledger frequently, the party debates leaving behind some kind of calling card or trap. They ultimately decide against it.

Before departing the place, Anmor takes the time to magically translate and copy the avolakia runes on the walls of the deep well (The Well of Triptych Knowledge). They prove enlightening, at least to him (see the entry for Runes in the Well of Triptych Knowledge in the plot-related clues section of the wiki).

Ding, bonus XP for translating the runes. Also, it will not be much of a spoiler if I point out that the runes make mention of a dragon called Drazzaroth.

Waterday, 2nd of Warmshade, 4433

The rest of this summary was written three and a half months after the session, so some things may be out of order from when they exactly happened. However, I believe it to be accurate on the key points.

After returning to the Deluxury and resting (and leveling up to 15th level), the party begins preparations for tomorrow’s celebration. Specifically, after donning their fancy noble attire, they assume the guise of Granuel Starmane and his entourage and march out into the common room, making a spectacle of themselves. The proceed into the streets of Lenap, intentionally drawing a crowd, and march their way back to the Sinners’ Sanctum (the sickhouse underneath which last night’s activities took place).

Once there, Anmor announces to the crowd the party’s intentions: to honor Satrap Khouligan by healing the unfortunate wretches here in the sickhouse. He and Granuel then set about doing so. It turns out they have exactly enough spells and potions or whatever to cure everyone in the place. Furpotia, the crazy old woman who runs the Sinners’ Sanctum is at first suspicious, but grateful when she sees the results. She says she’s known for years now that her beloved Satrap would eventually send the help her charges so richly deserved. The party does nothing to disabuse her of the notion that the Satrap had anything to do with the healing. The party heads back to the Deluxury to further rest up for tomorrow’s celebration.

For healing the victims in the sickhouse, the party receives another “authority point.” As discussed in the summary for last session, this is useless now, but will become important much, much later in the adventure path (like a couple years from now). Running Authority Point Total = 2. I’ve also decided that the good aligned party members deserve a dork card for this activity (Anmor, Granuel, and Chresin), since it’s very much in keeping with their alignment.

Earthday, 3rd of Warmshade, 4433

As the next day dawns, our heroes the characters are wakened by a tremendous din. The peak of Satrap Khouligan’s “Twenty Years of Joy” celebration has been timed to coincide with the annual Midsummer Festival day (something that I just conveniently noticed in marking off the campaign progress; let’s pretend it was intentional). Trumpets sound across the city, every drum, horn, and bell in every place of worship call out (as instructed) to announce that the Day of Great Rejoicing has arrived. The streets throng with happy, smiling faces, the locals cheer and rejoice, babies are held aloft and patriotic songs about the divine mercy of the Satrap are sung at every corner.

The party bathes (I assume, except maybe for Kullen) and dresses in their finery. Two hours before sunset, an official banquet carriage arrives to bring them to the palace. The carriage is almost shocking in its decadence—a gold-plated vehicle of incredible size and garish ornateness. A group of four trolls serve as “horses” for this ostentatious monstrosity, each dressed in ill-fitting suits designed to call out their hideous countenances all the more. The carriage itself is driven by a lanky, wide-mouthed man with black robes and a tall black top hat. A sizeable crowd gathers and gawks as Granuel Starmane and his entourage board.

The carriage interior is incredibly sumptuous. The leather seats are padded with down and gold lanterns burn pleasantly-scented oil. A tray contains several crystal decanters of wine and silver salvers of sweet-meats. The driver never speaks, and once the PCs are aboard takes them directly to the palace.

blessedangel.jpgWhen the party disembarks inside the palace courtyard, a servant informs them “The Satrap has no gladiatorial fights scheduled for today. Leave your weapons in the carriage.” After much arguing and complaining, the party eventually complies. Several of them spot one or two “Blessed Angels” perched on the palace walls, which makes them all the more nervous about leaving their weapons behind. The group is then led to the Vertiginous Terrace.

Gathering in the Vertiginous Terrace
Beyond the gates of Khouligan’s Palace is a steep rising path, flanked by polished skeletons in gibbets. The path winds up the rocky promontory upon which the palace and its grounds are constructed. Atop this height is the Vertiginous Terrace—a lawn that overlooks a 200-foot-drop into the Eel River. Other guests have already arrived, and they mill about in small groups, talking quietly.

Several of the guests carry wrapped gifts for the Satrap. Although the party didn’t realize this was expected, they choose not to do anything about it at the moment. Instead, they mingle with the other guests, drink, and make small talk. It appears most of the guests have already arrived (with the exception of a few who arrive later and are identified below, I’ve described the party guests in a single entry on the character list).

professormarat.jpgThe party members immediately note that food and drink are being passed around by an odd assortment of servants: fat ladies, pinheads, men without legs, women without eyes, and all manner of deformity is on display. Examples include Afus, the Man with No Head (whose face in his chest), Madam Hog, the Pig Woman (whose face is more akin to a sow than a human), and Ekestra, the Half-Man (who walks on his hands as he has no lower body). Some of the freaks are familiar to Anmor and Kullen, who realize these servants came here from Rastingdrung. Professor Marat introduces himself, explaining that he’s responsible for bringing the servants here, then getting them hired into the service of the Satrap.

hoff.jpgWhile waiting for things to get underway, the party mingles a bit. Loitering by the food and drink, Anmor makes friends with a dwarf named Hoff Ropehammer. Although Hoff seems gluttonous and possibly crazy, the two engage in a friendly drinking contest.

toris.jpgUlm befriends the only other gnome there, a mustachioed fellow named Toris. Toris is the representative of some outlying gnome town (a town I didn’t bother to look up a name for, because it really doesn’t matter). He’s here to try and keep his town under the Satrap’s protection, but seems out of place and taken aback by the whole scene. He begins following Ulm around like a puppy.

Chresin attempts to strike up a conversation with Lord Malaven Kilraven, Captain of the west border watch. Kilraven is fairly reserved (i.e., suspicious) and only offered up a few bits of information. He has served under three generations of leaders of Lenap. He is currently tasked with pushing the Satrap’s rules westward. They have secured the lands for about 50 miles west of the city. Chresin senses that something is troubling Kilraven, but the captain does not elaborate. Chresin suggests that he might be able to influence the house of Starmane to provide assistance but, while is he polite, Kilraven does not pursue the offer.

Because they made friends with Hoff and Toris, the party gets 2 more authority points. Running Authority Point Total = 4.

mahuudril.jpgOur heroes’ banter with the other guests is interrupted by the announcement of a late arrival. This guest is introduced as Merchantmistress Mahuudril, apparently some kind of VIP in Lenap. She makes a spectacle as she arrives leading a fiendish-looking black horse whose feet don’t seem to touch the ground. This horse (and its magic horseshoes) are apparently her gift for the Satrap. The party still doesn’t seem concerned about not having a gift.

avolakia.jpgBecause he cast True Seeing (or something like that), Anmor realizes that Mahuudril is, in fact, some kind of hideous worm monster (an Avolakia). He wisely chooses not to raise a stink about this and keeps it to himself for the time being (although at some point he alerts at least Ulm to the information).

hemriss.jpgThe next VIP to be announced does not arrive from the courtyard like the other guests, but from the palace itself. Introduced simply as Hemriss, servant and advisor to the Satrap, the party is quickly informed by friendly guests that this woman is rumored to be Khouligan’s secret daughter by an erinyes devil. Hemriss is a strange combination of the beautiful and the grotesque, with a misaligned face and the stumps of broken wings protruding from her hunched back.

khouligan.jpgAfter a few more drinks, the guest of honor, Satrap Khouligan the Grief-Giver, arrives amid great fanfare, accompanied by his fool, a strange man of only two and a half feet tall, known as the Ominous Fabler (a spriggan). Flanked by his deformed servants, the Satrap stands quietly while his fool steps forth, clutching a mummified raven, and blows on a strange horn to attract everyone’s attention (a needless
move, since by this point everyone’s attention is already focused on the Satrap).

The Satrap’s Introduction
ominousfabler.jpgThe Ominous Fabler clears his throat, and then speaks in a surprisingly strong and deep voice. “My lords, ladies, and other honored guests! Satrap Khouligan bids you welcome, and I trust you will enjoy the hospitality of his humble home!” The strange little man looks around, leers at some of the guests, then flaps his free arm and lifts the mummified raven up on his shoulder. Using the dead bird as a ventriloquist’s dummy, he chirps out in a raspy voice: “You may now present your gifts to honor the satrap!” and then steps back, giggling quietly as the other guests reach into folds in cloaks and pockets.

The gifts from other attendees include jewelry, bottles of rare wine, exotic caged animals, a fine gem by Toris, and in the case of Mahuudril, that fiendish horse. When the party’s turn to present gifts arrives, they try to explain how they healed the peasants at the Sinners’ Sanctum sickhouse in the Satrap’s honor. When Khouligan seems nonplussed by this as a “gift,” Anmor presents one of the empty adamantine vials the party acquired in Ilthane’s lair. The Satrap accepts this without comment, though he whispers something to the Ominous Fabler.

Though he didn’t show it, Khouligan was offended by this gift. It was not valuable enough for even one guest, and certainly not enough to account for “Granuel Starmane’s” entire entourage. So he whispered to the Fabler to make sure to have the PC’s poisoned during the banquet. This, ultimately, would make no difference, since Anmor had cast Heroes’ Feast to make them immune.

At this point, one VIP guest is notable in her absence: the Satrap’s chief advisor, Professora Lashonna Laggan (at least the party should have noticed this, if they didn’t, since she was the whole reason they attended this silly event). The Fabler announces that the Satrap has heard from Lashonna and regrets to inform the partygoers that business will be keeping her from the day’s events, but that she plans on arriving in time for the feast this evening. Immediately after the gift giving, servants appear with padded chairs for each guest and beg them to be seated.

The Harlequinade Mortificatio
ominousfabler.jpgThe fool appears again and blows his strange horn. “My masters! We beg you to enjoy our little tale—‘tis a small thing I penned myself, a tale of menace, revenge, lust and death which I have called ‘The Harlequinade Mortificatio.’” The fool moves back, and as he does, the servants arrange a small stage with a backdrop of a town street at night. A wooden moon wafts over the scene, and suddenly a host of animated skeletons dressed as clowns march on stage.

skeleton.jpgThe play is performed in silence, apart from guests applauding as the skeletal clowns perform particularly ridiculous stunts, such as drinking wine. The entire play is a curious affair, and it soon becomes obvious that the whole plot recounts how each of the skeletons is acting out its own death, always by suspicious circumstances that aren’t quite accidents. The rest of the party barely manages to restrain Granuel from jumping up to destroy the skeletons, explaining that they need to take care of their business here, which is to make contact with Lashonna, before they get kicked out. They can always get rid of the offending undead later, perhaps after they’ve had a chance to scout out what other evils exist in this place.

During the play (which lasts for an hour), servants flutter about with wine and trays of lightly roasted almond biscuits of exquisite taste. At the play’s end, the curious actors bow and, though no one seems to enjoy the play, everyone (except Granuel) applauds. The Ominous Fabler appears, now dressed as a scarecrow on stilts and with a hare’s skull where his head should be. He leads guests across the grounds to the next event, singing a song about boiling sparrows as he goes.

p(comment)Shortly after the play, someone in the party casts detect magic and then examines the Satrap. I believe the party was attempting to determine if the Satrap was being manipulated, or if he was acting on his own accord. The spell showed that there was no compulsion type of magic on the Satrap. It did show that he wore various magic items but nothing out of the ordinary.

Eventually the guests arrive at the Balcony of Expectorance, a wide deck jutting from the cliffside about twenty feet down from the palace. The Balcony is sheltered from the wind and the view of the Lenap coastline along the Eel River is even more magnificent than that from the Vertiginous Terrace.

The Handsome Slaughter of Curious Avians
ominousfabler.jpgThe fool trundles up onto the balcony railing, somehow managing to balance there on stilts as he addresses the guests. “And now, welcome to the Balcony of Expectorance, my friends, and the Handsome Slaughter of Curious Avians!” Two deformed servants march out, carrying between them a large rack of repeating crossbows. Another group of servants wheels out a number of cages filled with brightly colored red birds. “Please, select your weapon, and make ready to…” The Satrap cuts the Fabler off with a dismissive slap as he steps forward. The fool teeters, but manages to catch his balance and clambers down from the ledge as the Satrap selects a magnificent-looking crossbow and says, “I’m feeling particularly lucky today. If anyone can bring down more than me, I’ll give the lucky soul a thousand gold coins.”

Once everyone has selected their crossbow, the guests take turns as the Fabler releases ten of the bright red exotic birds into the air. Anmor identifies them as corollaxes, harmless animals that have the ability to generate color sprays. There is some debate among the party about whether they should put a stop to this, too, but cooler heads prevail.

khouligan.jpgOn each guest’s turn, the corollaxes immediately scatter and begin flashing sprays of color as they wheel in the air. Each guest has three rounds to shoot and bring down as many of the corollaxes as he can before the birds escape around the sides of the cliffs. The Satrap goes first and manages to take down six; the other guests do their best (or in some cases, they obviously deliberately do worse than the Satrap), but none beat Khouligan. As the shoot progresses, servants pass roasted corollax glazed in honey and mulled spice wine amongst the guests.

Finally, it comes to the PCs’ turn. Granuel announces that his servant, Kullen, will be shooting for their entire group. Kullen beats Khouligan’s score pretty handily, then greedily collects the 1,000 gold piece prize. Khouligan seems pretty upset about this, but hands over the money.

Winning this particular contest, and gloating about it, actually gives the party minus one authority point. Running Authority Point Total = 3.

After the slaughter of the curious avians, the fabler leads the party back into the house, through a maze of doors and halls, and eventually down into the extensive basements. He does so by walking on his hands the entire trip, finally leading the group into an underground miniature arena. The guests are directed to sit on the curved benches surrounding the sunken fighting pit (which contains two four-foot-square bird cages swathed in dark silks), while the Fabler explains the nature of the event.

B’Kruss pulls Kullen aside as they leave the Balcony of Expectorance.

*So you think you’ll get his attention like that, eh? Good luck!

Some Lively Sports and Baiting
ominousfabler.jpgThe misshapen gnome retrieves a small oak box from a locked chest and opens it, withdrawing a pair of silver rings. “And now, we come to some lively sports and baiting, my friends! These rings are ensorcelled with magic such that those who wear it can direct the actions and movements of one who has been… specially prepared, as a receiver.” He hobbles over to the Satrap and hands one of the rings to him. “The Satrap would like to challenge one of you to an honest fight, utilizing what lives at the other end of these rings as proxies. Are there any of you brave enough to meet the Satrap’s champion on the field of battle?”

None of the other guests immediately rise to the occasion, so Anmor (I’m pretty sure) decides to try his hand. When he puts on the ring, he is struck by an odd sensation but manages to resist being overwhelmed with the disorienting feeling of seeing, feeling, and hearing through the body of … whatever it is he’s supposed to control. The Fabler pulls a silk cord and releases a dozen kittens, puppies, and other cute animals into the arena.

cockatrice.jpgThe Fabler raises his voice over the rest of the crowd and announces “If you can create more ornaments than the Satrap, and if you can survive his champion’s wrath, you’ll win a most fabulous prize indeed!” With that, he pulls a second cord and cages in the pit below open, allowing two cockatrices within to escape into the arena. It turns out the object of the games is to control one’s cockatrice and petrify more cute animals than the other cockatrice. Once all of the animals are petrified, the two cockatrices are to fight one another for the win.

During the fight, dishes of eggs are served—boiled ones of unusual size, eggs scrambled with fine meats, and even a strange cocktail of egg mixed with rum. It is a close battle (because both sides use the cockatrice’s statistics), but Anmor’s dice are better, so he pulls out the win (Anmor had 4 throphies to the Satrap’s 3, but the Satrap’s champion wins). Nonetheless, Khouligan graciously hands over his prize: a golden egg of great size (valued at 1,000 gp).

Winning this one is apparently acceptable and gives the party an authority point. Running Authority Point Total = 4.

After the cockatrice fight, the Fabler leads the guests back upstairs and out into a long, narrow garden on the north side of the palace. By this time, twilight has fallen, and the garden has been lit by numerous differently-colored continual flames cast inside skulls hanging from delicate silver and golden chains. Here, a curious game has been prepared. A mound of differently colored human skulls has been arranged at one end of the garden, and the Fabler takes pains to ensure the guests are arranged in a semicircle around this mound of skulls.

Bowling the Devious Heads
ominousfabler.jpg“And now, my beautiful friends, we come to the final game of the evening. I present to my wondrous Satrap an unfortunate criminal named Jack,” announces the Fabler, as he hands the Satrap a human skull that has been painted black. “And to the rest of you, I present these delicate treasures!” The Fabler indicates the stack of differently colored skulls. “The Satrap shall throw Jack to the far end of the garden, and the rest of you shall toss a chap of your own. The thrower who comes the closest to Jack shall be declared the winner!”

miszenmitchwillow.jpgKhouligan makes his throw, and Jack lands near the far end of the garden, about 50 feet away from the party-goers. Each guest selects one of the colored skulls from the pile and then makes a throw to try to come as close to the skull as possible. During the sport, servants pass around gingerbread men without heads. All of the PCs participate in this game. Chresin does very well, but is edged out by Mahuudril. Kullen then beats her and it looks like he’s going to take the prize until a halfling woman, Miszen Mitchwillow, throws a leaner against the black skull for the win. She collects the prize, a necklace with a small silver skull with ruby eyes.

In game, we chalked this up to innate halfling throwing skill, but it was actually a natural 20 that took out Kullen’s attack roll total of 19 (everyone was throwing at a -14 due to awkwardness and distance). In any case, no authority points are gained or lost.

bkruss.jpgThe evening grows late as the game ends, and the sun sinks behind the horizon. At this point, the rowdy hobgoblin B’kruss (who Kullen had encountered last session while playing drinksmash) becomes frustrated at being outdone in all these contests. He decides to pick on the biggest guy in the yard and challenges Kullen to a duel right in front of Khouligan. Although his comrades advise him that he can refuse the challenge honorably since it’s somewhat unseemly to fight at a party, Kullen accepts. Amused, the Satrap orders the Fabler to bring his guests to one of the gardens he uses for dueling.

The Fabler announces that the rules of the duel are up to Kullen (as the challenged) to decide. Since he doesn’t have his Adamantine Greataxe of Stuff with him, Kullen chooses a wrestling match. B’kruss makes some braggy noises about how great hobgoblins are at grappling, but is soundly thrashed by the barbarian. There is some polite applause.

B’kruss’ behavior here offended the Satrap. Thus, he would also be poisoned during the feast. Without the benefit of heroes’ feast, he would end up dying later that night. The PC’s probably won’t ever find this out, but there it is, nonetheless.

After the duel, the peal of an unseen gong sounds the call for dinner—the feast is ready! The Fabler leads the guests back into the palace and thence to the Great Banqueting Hall.

The Great Banqueting Hall
A massive, cylindrical chamber rises through the heart of Khouligan’s Palace. A tremendous round table of polished mahogany dominates the room, the walls of which are decked with portraits and landscapes of great quality. A large number of these feature the Satrap himself, although the enigmatic Lashonna, a silver-haired, pale, remarkably beautiful woman, dominates one prominently placed portrait near Khouligan’s place at the table. A vast stained glass dome depicting what appear to be angels at play arches gracefully above, its perimeter decorated by a ring of severed heads mounted on iron spikes some twenty feet above the polished marble floor.

The PCs discern that the “angels” in the window are, in fact, erinyes devils, and their “play” is anything but something one would normally associate with angels. Also, the mounted heads are no mere mortal decapitates—Granuel detects they have been animated. Once again, its all the party can do to keep him from bringing an end to the festivities.

The Fabler bids the guests to be seated. Each setting bears a name on a card and a dazzling array of cutlery, including ten different spoons. Some party members sit at the table. Others, playing the role of Granuel’s servants, rather than guests, decline. At this point (I’m pretty sure), Ulm turns invisible and wanders off to do his own thing. Anmor finds himself seated between the disguised worm creature Mahuudril and his buddy Hoff Ropehammer.

lashonnatall.jpgOne chair, the one directly opposite Satrap Khouligan, remains curiously vacant—at least until a few moments after everyone has seated. At this point, one of the deformed servants announces the arrival of the final guest, Professor Lashonna Laggan. As Lashonna enters the Great Banqueting Hall, everyone rises from their seats. The woman is dazzlingly beautiful, with alabaster skin and long silver hair set back with a tiara of black diamonds. Everyone in the rooms feels her gaze settling upon them. Lashonna greets Khouligan with a nod but says nothing, and gracefully takes her seat at the opposite end of the table from the Satrap.

First Course: The Feast of Worms
khouligan.jpgSatrap Khouligan the Grief-Giver stands and silence falls upon the banquet hall. “My dear friends,“ he begins, and as he does, the decapitated heads above echo the word “friends” in a ghoulish tone. “I bid you enjoy this feast, eat and drink your fill in my humble abode.” He claps his hands once. An instant later the great doors to the kitchen swing open and a trio of manticores enter to the ghoulish hoorahs of the heads. Yet these are no wild monsters—the fire is gone from their eyes, and their wings have been cruelly severed. Even the once ferocious barbs of their long tails have been surgically removed. Each manticore carries great platters on its back, and a host of distorted servants trail behind them, eager to begin serving food.

ominousfabler.jpgGranuel is upset by the undead talking heads, but manages to keep his cool for now. Each guest is given a small covered silver goblet—the PCs notice flickers of disgust and trepidation flashing on the faces of other guests. When all have been served, the Fabler stands and tells the guests of a proud Lenap tradition. One of the founders of Lenap was a desperate pilgrim who washed up on the harbor shore. He had not eaten for many weeks, and he fell upon the moors to die. As he did he saw a worm emerge from the ground, and he realized the worm was a gift from the gods that he should live—and so he devoured it. In Lenap, therefore, it has always been the tradition to start a feast with such a celabration of thanks. The Fabler bids that the guests now do the same.

hoff.jpgInside the silver goblet writhes a fat, greasy worm, its glistening flesh a nasty shade of green. Because they’ve seen Worms of the Outer Darkness before, the party members can tell immediately that this grub, while similar in appearance, is not one of these vermin. Anmor further identifies his worm as a relatively harmless green scrubgrub. Still, he’s suspicious, and questions Hoff about the Fabler’s story. Hoff says the tale is true as far as he knows; he’s had to eat worms before. So Anmor and the other PCs (at least the ones who sat down, I think) suck down their worms. The worms are surprisingly tasty, and (to everyone’s surprise) bring no ill effect once consumed.

dryad.jpgAfter the first course, the Satrap commands the Fabler to tell a tale. The Fabler clears his throat, stands upon his chair, and tells an amusing story about a dryad whose tree is unknowingly transplanted into a bitter noble’s garden, and of the delightfully ironic fate she devises for the man. When the tale is done, the Fabler bows and takes his seat, at which point the Satrap opens the floor to any other guests who may have a tale to tell. No one volunteers.

mahuudril.jpgWhile the storytelling goes on, Anmor begins a rather creepy flirtation with Mahuudril the disguised worm-monster. Although at first vaguely receptive to the dwarf’s advances, Mahuudril soon becomes suspicious. She feigns illness and excuses herself from the banquet. Invisible Ulm follows her and discovers that, as soon as she’s out of sight, she teleports away. Ulm immediately suspects that she’s going to come back with an ambush and heads back to the carriage to gather the party’s weapons.

Second Course: Four and Twenty Blackbirds
For the second course, a single domesticated manticore enters. It carries an enormous pie on a silver dish of great size strapped to its back. Pastry beaks of birds cover the pie, and as everyone watches, the crust is opened and 24 blackbirds emerge, flying around the room in terror.

Anmor recognizes that the flying blackbirds are a programmed illusion, but the birds baked into the pie are not. The blackbird pie has a delicately sugared and almond crust that tastes surprisingly good. As the pie is served, the servants bring in huge tureens of vegetables, along with plentiful supplies of a locally produced spiced white wine called Lenap Lumassina, This wine is particularly potent.

The PCs all made their saving throws against the wine’s Wisdom penalties, but the wine could be a convenient excuse for what would happen soon after…

ominousfabler.jpgAfter the second course is complete, the Satrap asks the Fabler for a song. The spriggan bows and stands on his chair again and proceeds to perform a catchy little tune on his pan pipes. And again, after his performance, Khouligan asks if anyone else at the table has a song to share. No one does.

In the palace courtyard, Ulm has reached the party’s carriage. However, he notices one of the “blessed angels” looking right at him, even though he’s invisible. So he adds some kind of fog or mist spell and, under cover of that, retrieves the party’s weapons from the carriage and scurries back into the palace, where the third course is about to be served.

Third Course: Tojbasarrirge
ominousfabler.jpgThe Fabler announces the third course as a concoction of the Satrap’s own—delectable tojbasarrirge for all! He explains that tojbasarrirge involves an entire tojanida, stuffed with numerous basilisk steaks, which are in turn stuffed with arrowhawk breasts, which are finally in turn stuffed with an entire boned stirge with three olives impaled on its proboscis. The tojbasarrirge is brought out on a huge platter slung between two manticores, upon which rests a great tojanida shell, halved and filled with a descending mass of meat.

lashonna.jpgAs this dish is being served (never to be eaten), Ulm arrives and begins slipping the party their weapons under the table, putting each of them more on edge than they already were. At some point, Anmor’s true seeing had told him that Lashonna was not a grey elf, but in truth some kind of undead silver dragon! He hadn’t bothered to alert anyone to this, but now Granuel’s dislike of this place gets the best of him and he begins detecting undead. When he realizes that Lashonna has the most powerful undead aura he’s ever detected, he cannot help but act.

Granuel shoots a searing light spell (I think, or something else that hurts undead) at Lashonna. This causes her some discomfort, but she seems more amused than injured, so Granuel does it again. When she starts to seem maybe a little annoyed, Satrap Khouligan rises from his seat to demand an explanation for Granuel’s strange actions (I think I must have decided that the spell was not obviously an attack to someone who’s not a spellcaster). In response, Kullen (and maybe also Chresin and Anmor, I don’t remember) jumps on the table, flaming greataxe in hand, to defend Granuel.

blessedangel.jpgThe whole banquet hall erupts in chaos. Most of the guests leap from their seats and flee for the exits. The more militant guests rush to defend the Satrap, who calls for his guards. A couple of Blessed Angels come flying in. The party decides discretion is the better part of valor and flees the banquet hall, covered by Ulm’s mist and fog spells. Chresin uses Regroup and Dimension Hop spells to extricate the party. The party eventually makes their way back to the half-finished mansion near the Traitors’ Graves.

So the party brought an abrupt end to the banquet, as expected. What they missed:

* Two more courses of increasingly silly foods
* The opportunity to earn a couple more “Authority Points”
* A big XP award for making it all the way to the end of the feast

I didn’t really think they’d get that last one, though they lasted longer than I expected. XP totals at the end of the session:

* Anmor 117,447
* Ulm and Chresin 115,608
* Granuel 105,983
* Kullen 112,458

Plus, they have a total of 4 authority points, which are useless until much later in the adventure path. If they live that long, now that they’ve pissed off the ruler of a city-state (and possibly his undead silver dragon advisor).

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Session 25: The Satrap of Lenap
Urban Sandbox

satrap.jpg

Buddy was not present, so Granuel was played by a combination of Andy and Matt. As a result, Granuel did a surprising amount of role (not roll) playing. And we found out that Granuel “likes to watch.”

Earthday, 8th of Longrass, 4433

While the party was exploring the ruins of Kuluth-Mar, Manzorian and his allies Eligos, Baran-Sukh, and Agath completed some further research on the Triad of Sixes, Yog-Sothoth, Angall, and the cause of Balakarde’s disappearance. Anything they’ve learned about Yog-Sothoth and Angall pales in comparison to the details the party gathered thanks to the visions they saw at Kuluth-Mar. However, they did manage to unearth some new information about Balakarde and the Triad of Sixes.

In several of the scrolls and books in Manzorian’s vast library, they found references to the Triad of Sixes, most of which had short notes written by Balakarde in the margins—notes that repeated over and over his suspicion that the Triad was little more than a front for the cult of Yog. Even more curious, in every book and scroll that mentions Triad of Sixes activity, Balakarde has underlined the word “Lenap”. It would seem, from reading these notes, that a surprising number of Triad of Sixes leaders hailed from this small city on the northwest fringes of Ghinor.

On a hunch, Eligos searched Manzorian’s library for books about the city of Lenap and found only one: A History of Lenap. A twenty year-old book about the city’s history, it was written by a cleric of Ishtar named Rhorsk only a few months before a despotic ruler named Khouligan the Grief-Giver seized control.

One section of A History of Lenap recounts the ongoing struggle within the city between the followers of Ishtar and those who preferred the goddess in her incarnation as Innana. This conflict came to a head with the emergence and influence of a splinter cabal of Innana worshippers—a sect heretical even to the mainstream church of Innana. This group attempted to establish an underground cult somewhere in the city, a cult dedicated to the ascension of their goddess into something greater.

This splinter cult made particular use of what they called “the Writhing Dead.” The cult was defeated with the aid of one of Lenap’s greatest spellcasters, an elven noble known as Professora Lashonna Laggan, but its leaders escaped persecution. Tucked into this section of the book, Balakarde left a scrap of paper with fairly extensive notes, which Manzorian hands to the PCs to study. The best route, Manzorian suggests, is to check up on the leads Balakarde indicates in his notes.

balakardesnotes.jpg

Fireday, 9th of Longrass to Earthday, 13th of Longrass, 4433

Before setting out for Lenap, the party spends several days in Ut Prandur, selling loot and buying supplies. Ulm reads the manual of bodily health found at Kuluth-Mar.

Fireday, 14th of Longrass, 4433

Using an illustration of the skyline of city from the book A History of Lenap, the party successfully teleports to a hill across the river from the place. It looks pretty much the same as in the twenty-year old picture, except with some new construction on the high ground at the western side of the town. There’s what looks like a ferry dock at the bottom of the hill, this side of the river, so the party heads for that.

As they walk down the path, a well-armed man (the Bandit Lord) steps out from behind a boulder to accost them. He’s flanked by a minotaur (Tython) and an ogre (Oggie). “Stand and deliver,” says the man, “We’ll be taking all of your valuables!” The party refuses, so there’s a fight. The man turns out to be a huge werewolf and there’s a gnoll archer (Robin) hidden in the bushes, but the party still prevails (barely).

After the battle, Anmor uses speak with dead to question the gnoll about the bandits’ motives. The party is soon satisfied that this was “just a random encounter,” not part of some ongoing plot to murder them.

It was not exactly random, but it was a meaningless fight designed so that the players could roll initiative early in the session, get some extra XPs, and so that I could use some miniatures I hadn’t played with before.

The party makes it to the ferry dock and rings a big bell there. This summons a raft from across the river, piloted by a hobgoblin. Paying the fare, the party makes small talk with the ferry-goblin (named Gothtur) on the way across to town. They learn that there’s some kind of big festival coming up, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Satrap Khouligan‘s rule of the city. The celebration is scheduled for midsummer’s day (Earthday, the 3rd of Warmshade, nine days from now).

Gothtur also tells the party other useful things: the best inn in town is the Deluxury. A more affordable inn would be the Ogre’s Hideout. There has been trouble with bandits on the road near here. Everyone is very happy with the “joyous rule of glorious Satrap Khouligan.” Sense motive tells the party that Gothtur doesn’t really believe this last bit; he’s just scared to say anything else.

inanna.jpgChresin bribes Gothtur with a goodly amount of gold and tells him to keep an eye out for anyone resembling Kendra. The party passes the city gates without much trouble and sets out on a walking tour of Lenap. The first thing they notice is the many banners hanging from buildings on both sides of the street. These have the holy symbol of Innana, the words “Twenty Year of Joy,” and the date: Earthday, 3rd of Warmshade. They are greeted by people on the street with slogans like “Joyous day to you, stranger!” The party soon arrives at the main marketplace, where they witness an interesting event.

The Justice of Lenap
A large crowd has gathered at the western end of the market. Angry shouting wells up from the mob, and it appears that their hatred is directed at a trio of figures who stand on a gallows, nooses limp around their covered faces. Standing nearby is a tall man, they symbol of Innana emblazoned on the front of his black robes; he holds up a hand and the crowd quickly falls silent. When the man speaks, his voice is shrill but filled with conviction.

“By the Grace of his Most Beautiful Majesty Satrap Khouligan, I condemn these wicked heathens to their fate—they are fortunate that the Satrap is merciful, for had I the power, their deaths would last a fortnight. And so by His Decree, let these heretics go to their maker!”

Shouts of “death to the Triad of sixes!” well up from the crowd as the robed figure turns to his left and pulls a lever. Trap doors snap open in the gallows floor, and the three hooded figures drop, kicking for a few moments before hanging still.

The group decides they’d really like to use speak with dead on the hanged men, so they leave Granuel to watch the dangling bodies and find out where they are ultimately disposed. The rest of the party continues their walking tour. They get the lay of the land generally and find the Deluxury in the shadow of the Cathedral of Innana. They learn that another, well-kept building nearby is an embassy for visiting nobility, which instigates the development of a plan: they will present themselves as noble emissaries from some far-off place and thereby get themselves invited to all of the upcoming festivities!

blessedangel.jpgAs they continue to walk and discuss their devious plan, the party spots what appears to be a winged woman flying high over the city. Asking passerby about this curious sight, they learn that these women are known as The Blessed Angels or The Black Nuns of Innana. They help Satrap Khouligan keep order in the city and everyone’s really very happy to have them around

Sense motive reveals that everyone’s really very terrified to have them around.

Anmor takes Granuel’s place watching the hanged bodies in the marketplace while the rest of the party visits various inns and taverns (among them the Tipsy Nymph Brewery and the Angry Scarper Tavern) and tries to learn the local gossip. Among the things they find out:

  • While dozens of parades, performances, and other events are scheduled to take place during the anniversary celebration, the most impressive will doubtless be the Grand Banquet, an invitation only gala hosted at the Satrap’s palace. Everyone who’s anyone in Lenap will be at this prestigious event.
  • The Satrap invited certain big wigs from far off lands, like the Invincible Overlord himself, the Archmage of Tula, etc. These nobles, unfortunately, will not be attending. Thus, rather than risk having empty seats at his banquet table, Khouligan has given these rejected invitations to Armhin Loratio, the owner of the Deluxury, trusting him to find suitable folk to fill the available slots.

They also overhear a couple of rumors:

  • The Satrap didn’t invite the high-priest of Inanna to his banquet because he’s looking to replace the old man! Wonder who Khouligan has in mind to take his place? Certainly it’s someone he DID invite to the banquet!
  • Professora Lashonna’s lived in Lenap for decades, since before our beloved Satrap gained control. She’s the only one he seems to defer to. Some people think they’re lovers. Personally, I think the prince is a wonderful man who is simply being polite to one of his most famous subjects.

All this makes the party even more convinced of the merits of their devious plan. Kullen checks into the Ogre’s Hideout (presumably to keep an eye on goings on in Lenap), while the rest of the party prepares to collect Anmor and teleport back to Ut Prandur to consult with Manzorian about the plan.

Meanwhile, however, dusk is approaching and Anmor observes men arrive to cut down the bodies from the marketplace gallows. He surreptitiously follows them out the city gates, where they load the bodies into a rowboat and head up river. Flying, and with admirable sneakiness, Anmor follows them to a swampy little spit of land (known as the Traitors’ Graves). The workers dispose of the bodies in shallow graves and depart. Anmor flies back to pass on the news to the rest of the party.

Amnor can’t cast speak with dead again today. Digging up graves at night would be pretty creepy, too. So, although they abandon their immediate plan to teleport back to Ut Prandur, the party camps out overnight in a half-finished mansion near the Traitors’ Graves.

Spiritday, 15th of Longrass, 4433

The next morning, with Kullen still enjoying himself at the Ogre’s Hideout, the rest of the party trudges out to the swampy riverbank to find the gravesite.

The Traitors’ Graves
This low, sodden hummock of mud and rocky soil rises only a few feet above the dark brown waters of the slowly-flowing river. Here and there, tangled patches of wiry undergrowth grow, interspersed with muddy pools of water. The shallow mounds of graves protrude from the island here and there. A startling number of crows perch on the mounds or hop along the ground, where they hunt bugs and worms.

The place is festering with mosquitoes, but everyone manages to ignore their irritation. As soon as the party reaches the newest graves, they are surprised to see four medium-sized black dragons slither up from the waters nearby and demand an audience with the party. The dragons say that their lair has been invaded by a tremendous creature. If the party can kill the monster, the dragons are willing to reward them handsomely.

The party wonders why such mighty dragons can’t clear the lair for themselves, to which the dragons reply that the ooze-like creature is immune to acid, the dragon’s best weapon. The party starts to negotiate payment, but the dragons are poor diplomats and even worse liars, so when they refuse to settle on exact terms before the monster in their lair is slain. It is readily obvious to the PCs that the dragons intend to slay them after the creature is dealt with.

Nevertheless, the party agrees to play along with the dragons, remaining wary of a trap. Hidden beneath mud and brush, there is find a huge stone trapdoor, which the dragons open for them.

Ilthane’s Lair
This earthen-walled cavern reeks of sharp, bitter chemicals strong enough to water the eyes and steal the breath. The walls of the cavern are a tangled mess of roots, mud, and stone. Water drips constantly from the walls, gathering in puddles on the floor and collecting in a fuming pool to the east. North of the cavern entrance four large glass canisters once stood, although they have been shattered and their contents allowed to wash away. To the northeast, is a heap of smashed containers, crates, and other unrecognizable
ruins. To the east is a similar clutter, only this time with alchemical equipment and large, ruined tables of stone and wood.

acidwraith.jpgAs the party uses a rope of climbing to descend the shaft into the cavern, the foul, toxic liquid of the fuming pool at the other end of the cavern bubbles and surges to noxious life, sliding up onto itself and quickly filling out into the form of a lumbering, oozy beast. The thing’s body is semi-translucent and gelatinous, and streamers of acid drip from its flanks to sizzle on the ground—some of these strands writhe and crack like whips. Its long neck ends in a disturbing tangle of skulls, some human, some draconic, and some something in between.

It turns out the creature (a unique undead critter called an acidwraith) can fly and breathes acid all over the party. They scurry back up their rope, get yelled at by the dragons for being cowards, cast some acid resistance and fly spells, and head back in. They find out the acidwraith is incorporeal and very spell resistant, making it very difficult to deal with. And the party doesn’t have Kullen, who’s blissfully ignorant of their plight, off playing drinksmash with some hobgoblins.

The tide of the battle is turned when Anmor succeeds (thanks to some dork cards) in overcoming the acidwraith’s spell resistance with a bolt of glory. The positive energy ray does 101 points of damage. The acidwraith also has fast healing, but with a few more lucky hits, the party manages to take it down.

Granuel flies to the surface to tell the dragons their lair is clear. When they are reluctant to follow him down the hole, he explains that the party wants to finish negotiations where the dragons can’t fly around so much. So the dragons attack him. He flees into the hole and, therefore, gets his way as the foolish critters follow him.

This fight also proves difficult. Although resistant to the dragons’ acid breath, most everyone gets badly hurt by their teeth and claws and wings. Ulm has to flee by turning ethereal. The battle turns when Chresin, on his last legs, decides not to run and manages to slay both the dragons flanking him. As the last dragon dies, it says “Momma Ilthane, we have failed you.” Thus, the party learns that these were their old foe’s children.

They find some loot in the lair, most significantly some elixirs that bestow permanent(!) stat bonuses. Granuel gets a charisma boost. Chresin is willing to accept black dragon scales on his head for a natural armor bonus. The party saves the strength and constitution elixir for Kullen.

triad.jpgAfter all this, the party finally gets to dig up the dead men and cast their spells. After much questioning, they determine:

  • Yes, these men were associated with the Triad of Sixes
  • They were captured by the Blessed Angels
  • The leader of the Triad in Lenap is someone called “Mother Maggot”
  • The Triad’s hideout in Lenap is hidden beneath something called “the Sinners’ Sanctum.” To find it, one must “follow the scent of sickness and death south from the marketplace and creep past the sleeping bodies…”

They don’t follow up on these leads immediately, though. Instead, they teleport directly back to Ut Prandur.

Airday, 16th of Longrass, 4433

The party meets with Manzorian, intending to consult him about the plan, which they explain is to present themselves (actually, Granuel) as noble emissaries from the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Manzorian, surprised to see them back so soon and with no real news about the Age of Worms, scolds them a bit. They don’t need his approval for every little detail and he can’t tell them very much about the politics of the City State to help with their plan. If they wanted some inside information about the mageocracy of Tula, where he used to be archmage, it would be different…

ilya.jpgThis line of conversation leads the party to realize that they, themselves, know a good bit about the aristocracy in Tula, a lot more than they know about the City State of the Invincible Overlord. Indeed, they know one noble family fairly well, having represented them in the past! After a sending to Ilya Starmane for approval, the party amends the plan. They will present themselves as Granuel Starmane and his entourage, representing that noble family of great importance in Tula.

Waterday, 17th of Longrass through Spiritday, 20th of Longrass, 4433

The party hires tailors in Ut Prandur to make them fancy noble attire with the colors and symbols of the Starmane family. In the meantime, back in Lenap, Kullen remains happily ensconced at the Ogre’s Hideout inn. The place has a rough and dangerous feel to it and sports a well stocked, but largely unimaginative, taproom and bar on the first floor. Kullen entertains himself in the company of a one-legged courtesan (who he calls Eileen). He also makes the acquaintance of some other guests at the inn, notably several hobgoblin mercenaries currently visiting the city.

bkruss.jpgThese hobgoblins plan to take part in the coming festivities to celebrate the Satrap’s 20th year of rule. The leader of this band, a fellow named B’kruss, has rented out all of the rooms on the topmost floor, and his all-night antics have been keeping the other patrons up at night. B’kruss, a bit of a blowhard, has been bragging about how he is a trusted vassal of the Satrap and will be attending the Grand Banquet himself.

Airday, 1st of Warmshade, 4433

The party teleports back to Lenap. Ulm sneaks invisibly into the city to alert Kullen, who reunites with the group at the odd, half-finished manor. They all dress in their Starmane livery and make a grand display of marching up to the city gates. Anmor makes a complicated speech announcing the arrival of the great Granuel Starmane. This seems to annoy the gate guard, who is about to try to make trouble for the group until Granuel calms him down.

Slowly and with great pomp, the party makes a spectacle of themselves as they march through Lenap to the Deluxury. Here, Anmor makes his speech again. The innkeeper, Armhin Loratio, reacts with appropriate toadying and grovelling. He offers to rent Granuel and his entourage the upper penthouse for the reasonable price of 1,000 gold pieces a night! Maintaining the facade of the nobleman to whom money is no object, Granuel agrees without deigning to negotiate.

Chresin makes a big show of inspecting the rooms, demanding that the rugs be changed out, etc. The party discovers that the Deluxury is more than just an inn, but also a gambling house, opium den, bathhouse, and brothel. The place is enforced by a band of mute but constantly looming hobgoblin eunuchs and staffed by a number of attractive men and women. Anmor finds the place very similar to Zalamandra’s Emporium back in Rastingdrung, although the Deluxury is a somewhat higher-class establishment, or at least tries to be.

While the party settles in to take advantage of the all-inclusive services of the lodging package they’ve purchased, Anmor consults further with the innkeeper about the upcoming Grand Banquet. He learns that written invitations are required, but it’s not a problem that the Starmane entourage left theirs back in Tula. Loratio has some extras, enough to cover the entire party.

twentyyearsofjoy.jpg

For excellent roleplay during this part and for earning their invitations to the banquet, each party member gets a dork card. They also each get something called an “authority point,” which is useless now, but will become important much, much later in the adventure path. Probably like a couple years from now…

shagsolomon.jpgAs Anmor consults with the innkeeper, he’s startled to see a familiar face walk in. It takes him a moment to place the individual, but soon recognizes that it is none other than Shag Solomon, the aristocratic shaggy caveman who was once a popular entertainer at Zalamandras! Anmor goes to the bar to talk to Shag, who recognizes him in return.

professormarat.jpgAnmor learns that Shag came here after Ilthane burned down the Emporium. With his partner, someone named Professor Marat, he hopes to establish an entertainment business here in Lenap. He and the professor will be attending the Grand Banquet in hopes of securing the Satrap’s patronage for that venture. Anmor and Shag trade stories about Rastingdrung, agreeing that the town was generally crappy and this place really isn’t much better.

Once night falls, the party sets out, finally, to follow up on the leads about the Triad of Sixes they got from the dead men. They conclude (correctly) that the Sinners’ Sanctum might be a run-down building they spotted back on their original walking tour. They leave Granuel back at the Deluxury to maintain the facade of a bored nobleman. He will continue to demand food, baths, and companionship while the rest of the party is out and about — just servants running errands for their master.

This is where we learn that Granuel “likes to watch” and that he demands lavender in his bath and other sorts of things like that.

The rest of the party finds their way to Sinners’ Sanctum. With a brief observation, they conclude the place is a sickhouse. The incense laden air fails to cover the unmistakable stink of sickness, even outside the building. Peering through a window, they see numerous rickety beds and cots lining the walls of the building’s main room. A dozen poor souls, all in advanced stages of illness, are tended by a solitary old woman.

After spying on the building until midnight, the party sees no comings or goings, so Chresin and Ulm turn invisible and dimension door inside. In the back room, Ulm finds a trap door, just as the dead men suggested. He uses a sleep spell on the old woman and many of the sick, so that the rest of the party can enter. With some additional security from a silence spell, they open the trap door and explore what’s hidden below. A shaft with iron rungs leads 100 feet down to a domed chamber.

triad.jpgThe Hall of Gathering
The walls of this domed chamber are made of red brick and lined with stone beams that arch up to a point directly overhead where the shaft leads back up to the sickhouse. A large heap of tangled rope lies in its entrance. The chamber itself is empty, save for several rotting prayer mats strewn about. Each of these mats bears a familiar black triangle, inscribed with sixes. A wide hallway leads east.

The party enters the chamber and Chresin heads down the hallway, which triggers a silent alarm spell. The non-threatening pile of robe suddenly forms itself into a huge creature (a hangman golem, it turns out). The party finds out that the creature is immune to magic. Fortunately, they brought Kullen this time. His “greataxe of stuff” happens to be the perfect weapon, because the golem’s DR is breached by adamantine and it is vulnerable to fire. The golem briefly tangles Kullen in its ropes, but Chresin frees him to finish hacking it to bits. The party continues exploring down the corridor.

The Well of Triptych Knowledge
A fifteen-foot-wide pit yawns at the end of the short passage. The walls are lined with bricks and caked with mold and less-identifiable encrustations, and in the places where these growths aren’t too thick, strange figures and runes are visible carved into the bricks.

The runes are written in a combination of hieroglyphics and curved tangles that doesn’t resemble any other known language. Anmor concludes that they are in the language of the avolakias, nightmarish intelligent worms with the capability to assume humanoid form. If they could be translated and studied, who knows what lore they might reveal, but there’s no time for that now. Ulm turns into a bat and flies down the well. The well is 300 feet deep, but at the bottom, he finds a big chamber.

The Overgod’s Court
The well empties through the ceiling of an immense chamber, its domed roof a full fifty feet over a black floor worn smooth by the passage of countless creatures. Alcoves in the north and south wall hold wretched statues of worm-like monsters coiled around pillars of skulls and bones. A single object occupies the room’s eastern half—a huge statue of a humanoid monster. The thirty-foot tall statue seems to be made of some strange black stone that looks almost like leather in some places. It has breasts, two arms, two tentacles, and two stumps where two more arms should be. One of its upper arms wields a big axe.

Ulm flies back up the well to report this information. Anmor recognizes that the statue’s characteristics are aspects of three different deities: Innana, Demogorgon, and Angall. He also finds the thing very, very, very familiar looking (see the end of Session 6, the conclusion of “The Three Faces of Evil”).

Thus, we ended with the party (except Granuel) staring down a deep well, wondering about a creepy statue. Thanks to alternating participation in fights by Kullen and Granuel, the XP totals have spread out a bit:

* Anmor 107,622
* Ulm and Chresin 105,783
* Granuel 105,083
* Kullen 102,633

If the party survives the next encounter, everyone will be able to level up, upon resting (everyone except Kullen already has enough and the next encounter will get him there, too).

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Session 24: The Spire of Long Shadows
Stuff happens... #grump

This was a short session, since I was not prepared to start the next adventure. Just three fights and a vision to finish the Spire of Long Shadows. I didn’t take any notes, so everyone can feel free to embellish on the details of the fighting or anything else the party did.

Airday, 6th of Longrass (continued)

In spite of the fact that they could be leveling up, Anmor pushes everybody to stop whining and get on with some undead destroying nonsense (adding, I quote: #grump). Therefore, the party heads for the westernmost unexplored area (the room with the ? on Ed’s map below).
ZigguratLowerLevel.png

Chamber of Contemplation
Nests of tattered books, bits of fabric, and other refuse lie scattered about the chamber, curved troughs each big enough to fit a worm the size of a small horse. There’s a disconcerting symmetry to the way the nests are positioned in the room, a marker of an alien will making itself at home amid the refuse of Yog-Sothoth’s arrogance and power.

wormnaga2.jpgThere’s a creature in here: another of the worm nagas like the ones that caused Granuel’s death earlier. This one tries to make nice, suppressing his feeblemind gaze and attempting a greeting. Our heroes are not interested and Chresin immediately blasts the naga (whose name was Sruggut, not that anyone was listening to his polite introduction) with some sort of spell. A number of party members end up feebleminded (Kullen and Granuel) before they manage to defeat Sruggut.

Now that they have a lot of brain restoring to do, the party finally decides to rest (and level up) while doing a further examination of the Knowledge Worms and books in the upstairs library. Anmor figures out that the library contains what he needs to unlock the The Nethertome of Trask’s greater legacy powers, although he does not have time to complete the ritual right now.

Waterday, 7th of Longrass

The party returns to the chambers beneath the ziggurat to see what else there might be to discover. They head for the central corridor across the sea of worms and come to a door, finding a chamber beyond.

The Harbinger
This chamber, opulent by nearly any standard, seems somehow alien despite its finery. Furniture placed at odd and uncomfortable angles blends with the disconcerting imagery of the carpets and tapestries that decorate the room. This imagery is sometimes understandable, depicting scenes of carnage and torture in great detail and in other places is simply abstract patterns drawn by an alien and unsettled mind.

makar.jpgBehind a table of alchemical apparatus stands a six-armed creature that looks very much like the one the party has seen in several previous visions. They’re pretty sure this is the same one as in Vision 4, which Anmor had identified as a “shadow servant” of the ancient Markrabs, now undead.

In fact, they are right. His name is Mak’ar and he is known as “The Harbinger of Worms.” Of course, they don’t bother to find this out.

The undead shadow servant attempts a polite greeting and, like Sruggut, gets blasted in the face for his trouble. Now that combat begins, the party finds out he is a very powerful spellcaster (a lich who uses his arms to cast extra spells). Although Mak’ar manages to trap Kullen with a maze spell, the party rather easily defeats him. The destruction of Mak’ar triggers another vision (the sixth and final one), in which the party sees frightening portents of things to come. It also triggers a loud rumbling from far above (and some other significant changes in and around Kuluth-Mar, changes the party will eventually observe).

Everyone was quite pleased that Mak’ar crumbled to dust. They were prepared to have to search for his phylactery. The fact that his phylactery was destroyed long ago was why he was willing to talk at first. Also, he probably realized that spellcasters with no minions are absolutely useless against this party…

The party now decides to explore the finally, easternmost corridor. On their way, they discover that that the worms that make up the “sea of worms” in the central cavern are now all dead. They don’t seem surprised by this and continue to the final chamber.

The Knights of the Worm
This room seems out of place, given the cold and barren decor of the other chambers in the complex. The floor is covered with a thick green carpet, and a long, padded divan sits in the room’s center. Small padded stools surround the divan. The walls are carved with nightmarish scenes of a dual world. The lower half of these carvings depict a world of caverns and twisting tunnels that are infested with massive worms, creatures that look like humans posing as worms, and creatures more horrifying than either. On the upper half, these worm monsters burst from the ground to ravage and ruin numerous humanoid civilizations. Dragons with the heads of worms fly in the skies above, and towering over them all is an immense figure in a dark gray robe. His face is hidden by the hood of the robe, but worms drip from under his cowl.

wormknight.jpgAs the party opens the door to this room, three figures emerge from separate side chambers. The figures wear dark armor that hides much of their forms from view, but their skeletal visage and horrid stench reveals that they can be nothing but some kind of undead. Small green worms, their mouths filled with row upon row of jagged teeth, writhe along their armor, crawling under the plates and panes. The most gruesome feature are their eyes, which have been replaced by the ravenous mouths of two bloated worms.

These are Yog Knights, similar to Nezzarin, who the party fought upon first arriving at the ziggurat. Their names are Barnos Indarna (the Dreamer of the Green), Kardic (the Shadow Worm), and Markath (the Mageslayer). There’s no way for the party to find out their names, however, since unlike the other monsters encountered this session, the Yog Knights attack immediately. They give the party their longest and toughest battle of the day, but are ultimately defeated.

With the underground chambers now fully explored, the party returns to the surface. Here, they discover that the giant christmas-tree-like spire at the top of the ziggurat has toppled, smashing through and ruining the obsidian ring that surrounds the ruins of Kuluth-Mar. Also, all of the tiny worms infesting the ground here have died, just like those in the sea of worms below. The party (correctly) interprets these developments as signs that their work here is done and teleports back to Ut Prandur.

Earthday, 8th of Longrass

After resting and healing and selling some loot, the party consults again with archmage Manzorian. After hearing the party’s tales of what they learned at Kuluth-Mar, Manzorian reveals that his and Eligos’ research has also turned up an interesting clue. They’ve found more about the doings of the missing wizard Balakarde. It seems that, after returning from Kuluth-Mar, Balakarde made plans to visit someone named Professora Lashonna Laggan, an advisor to Khouligan the Grief-giver, Satrap (i.e., ruler) of the city of Lenap. Manzorian thinks the party should follow Balakarde’s trail to Lenap…

At the start of next session, we’ll flesh out in more detail what Manzorian knows about Balakarde’s northern journey and why he thinks following him is a good idea.

For now, here are the XP totals:

* Anmor 101,252
* Everyone else 99,413

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