Campaign of the Month: March 2016

Ptolus, City by the Spire

Session 14: We Went to Prison, But It's Not What You Think...
4th of Bloom, 721 IA
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Surprised to be standing in the sunlight, the heroes now known as the Fellowship of Punnishers (and yes, the misspelling is intentional) looked around the Necropolis. They were less than a bowshot away from the Dark Reliquary, and with less than an hour before sunset that was most assuredly NOT a place they wanted to remain.

They made their way through the cemetery toward the nearest exit, where they were met by a fully armed and armored knight. She wore the unmistakable sigil of the Keepers of the Veil on her shield, and the curious knight struck up a conversation with the bedraggled bunch of delvers.

She was astonished to learn that they’d come up through the tunnels of the Darakhul Empire, and warned that attempting to return that way would be suicide.

Aendir was thoroughly disheartened to learn that Phadian had seen the two fugitive cultists leave the Necropolis not ten minutes prior, but there was no way to know which way they’d gone.

Anton Khatru was fully ready to go do his own thing, but Nethwen wasn’t about to let him wander off without claiming the reward from his House. She escorted Khatru and his companions to the Khatru Estate in the Nobles’ Quarter, while everyone else split up in search of baths, beer, and wisdom. (The order of those priorities varied greatly person to person.)

Aendir reported to his chapterhouse. Chesh reported to her temple. Mos disappeared. Thorzin and Yona went drinking.

Aendir and Chesh received wisdom from their mentors, and were asked to keep an eye on each other. Thorzin drank Yona under a table.

Meanwhile, Nethwen and Anton went to his home. As they entered, the other two delvers peeled off and went to do their own thing, while Anton took her to meet his father. Dorant Khatru, head of House Khatru, member of the Commissar’s Twelve Commanders, and head of the Order of Iron Might, looked surprisingly young and hale. He was gruff, stoic, and surly, but seemed satisfied that his son had finally returned. He thanked Nethwen for bringing his son home, and gave her a cheque for the ten thousand golden thrones of her reward (to be collected on the morrow from the Order of Iron Might.

A little shell-shocked, Nethwen went home and was welcomed by her family.

The next morning, everyone met up at the Delver’s Guild Office and discussed what they wanted to do next. Shopping was the first choice, and after collecting their reward they were off to Delver’s Square. They stocked up big-time on healing potions, but a trip to Rastor’s Weapons revealed that even with this big haul they didn’t have enough to buy magical weapons from the big litorian. Yet.

It was about then that a little black bird – actually a shadow sending – landed on Nethwen‘s shoulder. It whispered – in the voice of great-aunt Fransin Nagel that she’d better hie herself home right away because something was waiting for her there.

With a roiling dread in the pit of her stomach, she returned to Nagel Estate to find a scroll that had been hand-delivered from House Khatru. She read it aloud to her much-amused companions:

My Dearest Lady Nethwen,

At first you were just another face in the crowd … just another noble passing aimlessly by, until that fateful day when my eyes laid upon your beautiful face. It was like a ray of sunshine, illuminating the dark depths of the Dungeon.
During my captivity by the cruel kuo-toans, I feared I would never again feel the sun’s warm kiss upon my face. When you rescued me, you showed me that there is still hope and love in this world. You made me realize that all things are still possible. Because of you I began to feel whole and alive. I now see beyond the clouds to a brighter and better day. I thank you for bringing me forth from the darkness and allowing me to truly see the light.
I have enclosed a token of my gratitude and affection. This letter will notify Odsen Rom – the Warden of the Prison – that House Khatru will pay the ransom for the release of Kurtlan Nagel. I have not yet notified the Warden of this intent, as I did not want to rob you of a joyous reunion with your great-uncle.
I look forward to our next meeting with much anticipation, and hope that you might honor me with the pleasure of your company on the evening of the Second of Bloom. I await your response with bated breath.

Affectionately Yours,
Anton Khatru

Great-aunt Fransin began crying tears of joy.

There was also a letter addressed to Odsen Rom, Warden of the Prison:

To: Odsen Rom, Warden of the Prison of Ptolus
From: Anton Khatru, Scion of House Khatru

Good Warden Odsen, Rom,
Please consider this to be your notification that the prisoner known as Kurtlan Nagel is to be released immediately into the custody of the bearer of this letter.
The customary “Release Fee” of Ten Thousand Golden Thrones shall be remitted unto the location of your choice by a representative of House Khatru upon notification of your residence or other, preferred delivery address.
Refusal to release Kurtlan Nagel immediately to the bearer of this letter will not only render null and void the above promissory remittance, but will henceforth remove Odsen Rom from the good graces of Dorant Khatru, Commander of the Order of Iron Might, Member of the Twelve Commanders, and Master of House Khatru.

Sincerely,
Anton Khatru

…There was much rejoicing.

They discussed it a bit and decided that the entire team would accompany Nethwen to the Prison to protect her great uncle upon his release.

The only way to access the Prison was to go to the Docks and hire a boat, which took them across the bay to a barred cavern opening in the Cliffs of Lost Wishes beneath the Guildsman District. The guards let them into the entry, where their papers were examined, and they then loaded up into a pair of boats for the trip along the underground waterways to the inner prison areas.

A number of twists and turns through water-filled tunnels eventually brought them to a crenelated castle wall with yet another portcullis at its center. Beyond this heavy fortification they found themselves finally inside the Prison itself: a massive shaft at least two hundred feet across, with a ramp leading down, down into its dark depths. Doors lined the ramp and they could see torches lighting the ramp for several hundred feet down, but the bottom of the pit was shrouded in darkness.

An elevator platform and winch waited at the top though, and the ogre guard attendant began lowering them into the depths. Thorzin estimated they descended 382 feet before finally reaching the bottom of the pit. Far-off screams of agony and torment could be heard down here, somewhere in the distant tunnels.

Thankfully, they brought light sources with them, and the tiefling guards at the bottom chuckled darkly when they insisted on seeing the warden.

Odsen Rom was in his chamber, behind a door right at the base of the ramp. He was very, very agitated to learn that these interlopers were there for the release of Kurtlan Nagel. He initially refused to let them have the prisoner but grudgingly relented when Nethwen reminded him of what the consequences of refusal would be.

Rather interestingly, Odsen Rom was apparently angry because he’d been offered twenty thousand golden crowns for Kurtlan Nagel from some other “buyer,” though the cagey albino wouldn’t say who that was.

He led them down a dark tunnel, past numerous cells and side passages. The cell doors varied; some were solid metal, some wood with a small, barred window, and others were the wrought iron of jailhouse cell doors. All were shrouded in pitch-black.

From one of these, a ragged voice gasped Thorzin’s name. It was Wretched Bill, who now very much lived up to his name. The man begged for his forgiveness, and pleaded for them to free him from this place. Unmoved, Thorzin ignored his pleas and kept walking. Odsen Rom was definitely paying attention to this.

Kurtlan Nagel was alive – barely – and naked in a cold, wet, black cell. Aendir lay his healing hands upon the poor old man, and gave him his cloak. They left immediately.

On the way out, a voice shouted out from the small window in a cell door they’d passed earlier. YONA!! I SEE YOU!!” The rogue looked extremely uncomfortable as everyone turned to see some angry guy peering out from between the bars. Yona didn’t respond and just kept walking. The guy cursed at her for a while as they left. Nobody else recognized him, but Odsen Rom looked very interested once again.

They exited the Prison without further incident, surprisingly.

House Nagel was ecstatic to have their patriarch returned to them, and the Fellowship of Punnishers were hailed as true heroes.

Nethwen realized she really didn’t have much choice, and reluctantly agreed to go out with Anton Khatru. Her mother immediately bundled her up and took her dress shopping for her big date.

The team took some well-earned time off, and discussed what to do next. Aendir suggested possibly going back after the Rat Folk and their Chaositech-wielding Plagueborn Cultist. Chesh had noticed a posting on the Gathering Hall Notice Board, where someone named Degan claimed to have extensive knowledge of the Lost River Caves and could be found at the Red Stallion Pub.

While Nethwen was getting wooed at the Aristocrat’s Table (only the finest dining establishment in the entire city), everyone else was partying it up at the Red Stallion Pub with the locals. Right about the same time though, all of them heard the newest bardic tale, The Fellowship of the Punishers Meets the Black Hand, a rowdy, rousing tune that briefly tells of their exploits against the Kuo-Toa, the Deep Temple, and their hilarious chase through the Darakhul Empire

The Fellowship cheered louder than any at the end, and when they announced that the song was about them they didn’t buy another drink for the rest of the night.

And surprisingly, Anton Khatru was a complete gentleman. More importantly, he wants to see Nethwen again…

End of Session.

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Session 13: At Last, the Deep Temple!
30th of Rain, 721 IA
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As the ringing in his ears began to abate, Aendir realized they had a very serious problem. He’d been able to detect an area off to the east that radiated the oily black sensations that emanate from unhallowed ground, and he could now sense that something there was stirring. He didn’t know if it was due to Thorzin’s gunfire or his own holy aura, but he had the very strong impression that this was NOT something they were ready to face.

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The delvers moved north, further into the Crypts. The region was aptly named, for all around them were dead bodies lying in their crypts in the walls. Some were lying on slabs along the sides of the corridor, while others had only their heads (or their feet) poking out from a deep, narrow hole where they lay in repose. A few of these began to move, slowly getting up to give chase to the quickening heroes.

Continuing north, they came to another four-way intersection. A couple of bodies stood in repose, leaning in their upright crypts. Suspicious, Nethwen took the head off one of them. The undead creature screeched and hissed as it died. Yona took a swing at the other corpse, but that one just turned out to be a dead dude. But during the pause to deal with these two, everyone could hear the roused undead behind them getting closer. They started to hurry faster.

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Another intersection. Chesh was trying to read her thoroughly-annotated map as they went, and she was pretty sure that they were almost through.

But then an undead creature stepped forward from the darkness ahead. From beneath its dark cowl they could see a long, thick, gray beard… But then the “beard” started to writhe and reach toward them as the undead continued its approach.

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The horrible creature was also a spellcaster, but Mos was able to avoid the sole spell it released. The blades and spells of the heroes tore through the awful undead, and Mos finished it off with a blaze of flames.

They didn’t stop to search, and headed north again in a hurry. The came to a T intersection, and Chesh excitedly called for them to turn right, then left at the next branch.

They were in a curved corridor lined with crypt alcoves, and everyone grew quiet as they came to a halt just outside an ornate door.

They’d arrived at the Deep Temple.

It wasn’t unguarded though, and an empty suit of armor in the centermost alcove suddenly came to life. A misty, ghostlike undead face could be seen inside its faceplate, but when Mos whipped out his Ebon Hand unholy symbol it backed off and exited the armor. (It actually seemed disappointed that it couldn’t attack.)

The heroes looked at each other, took a deep breath, and charged into the Deep Temple.

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The temple was filled with a cacophony of roaring, as there were six Children of the Hand chained down to stone slab altars/work tables on the raised platforms. Three robed figures were also there, attending their creations. There were two with strangely mutated legs – one with muscular, goatlike legs, and the other with what appeared to be giant grasshopper legs! The third robed figure – who was apparently the head honcho – had horrible scarring and disfiguring on half of his face. These were pretty obviously the Ebon Hand priests we were looking for.

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Near the center of the room, a massive ogre with a bizarre third arm sprouting from the center of its chest spotted the intruders and shouted a warning.

The Battle of the Deep Temple had begun.

The two underpriests immediately released the chains holding down the Children of the Hand closest to themselves, then literally sprang away towards the nearest other platform to unleash more Children! Their boss also released one of the children, but then began throwing heavy-duty spells towards the interlopers. Mos was able to shake off the first one – an insidious confusion spell.

The heroes leapt into action. Aendir and the ogre charged toward each other and began trading heavy blows (though the paladin gave far more hits than he received). Nethwen, Yona, and Chesh focused their fire on the goat-legged priest, while Thorzin took on the first of the Children of the Hand and the Company of the Iron Fist attacked the grasshopper priest.

The goat-legged priest was quickly taken down by spells and missile fire, and Mos perfectly placed a hypnotic pattern that mesmerized three of the four free-ranging Children of the Hand. The fourth was quickly dispatched by Thorzin with a bit of archery support from behind.

As the delvers turned their attentions to the high priest (they dubbed him Scarface), he cast another spell – this one took him instantly across the huge chamber to a sheltered place next to the fallen goat-legged priest, where he hunkered down behind cover to hide from further further missile fire.

Nethwen and Yona tried to maneuver to get clear shots at him, but that slippery high priest laid a hand on his fallen underling and cast a final spell that took him all the way across the wide chamber to the farthest door. The delvers made a valiant effort to stop him, but he hustled through that door and barred it on his way out.

The armor-deficient Company of the Iron Fist were able to dispatch one of the Children of the Hand, but Arnissa Thrawon fell doing so. Aendir slapped her with a lay-on-hands as he hurried past, and he and the dwarf broke down that barred door as quickly as they could while everyone else dispatched the remaining Children of the Hand.

Unfortunately, it was too late. They never did catch those priests, though they chased them across three maps and eventually all the way back to the surface!

Nethwen did all the tracking as they chased down the evil cultists. She noticed that the high priest must have given the fallen guy some healing, because before they left that first room there were two sets of footprints.

The tracks led them past a clockwork automaton horror – apparently a guardian – that took swipes at the heroes but didn’t pursue them down the tunnel to the secret door they’d unknowingly walked right past earlier.

Following the cultists’ trail, they headed back north and west to a chamber where another clockwork guardian took a few swings as they ran past. This one also didn’t follow, thankfully, and they kept on the trail past many crypts and tombs.

At one point they heard voices and grew hopeful, but the voices sounded like two women having a mundane conversation, complaining about someone they didn’t like. The heroes chose not to investigate, and continued on.

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As they continued west, they realized they were hopelessly lost and unlikely to catch the cultists. Chesh heard the distinct sound of an armor-clad person ahead. With little hope of finding the priests, they moved ahead cautiously into a guard room with six armored ghouls!

The undead looked puzzled and asked “Are you with those other guys?” as they pointed to the west exit. Mos whipped out his cultist unholy symbol and almost bluffed his way past, until the ghouls noticed Aendir’s prominent Lothanite symbols on his shield and chest. Then the fight was on.

Chesh called upon the divine light of Teun to drive away the foul undead, but was only able to affect half of them. The other three leapt to the attack, and they turned out to be pretty tough foes. But after two of the three fell in combat, the last one turned tail and ran away.

The heroes pushed on west and found a spiral staircase leading up. They started to climb.

And climb.

And climb.

…And climb.

And climb.

Eight hundred and eighty-eight steps later, they finally reached the top of the Demon Stairs. Chesh and Mos were draped over the back of poor Kemnebi, and everyone was exhausted after the tortuously long climb.

The stairs opened out into a large natural cavern dotted with doors and structures, all of which most resembled residences. A few far-off locals could be seen, and when Aendir shouted “Where did they go?” they merely pointed west.

Off we went again.

No one knew exactly where they were, but they passed through an area that resembled a currently-closed marketplace with booths and tables on their way to one more set of stairs up. Exiting these, they found themselves in the city’s Necropolis!

The bad news: The cultists were nowhere in sight, and they were standing less than a bowshot away from the Dark Reliquary.
The good news: It was about an hour before sunset, and they had plenty of time to get the heck away from there before sundown.

End of session.

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Chesh's Poker Face
How Chesh Watched Mos develop a twitch

After sleeping off the effects of a Mummy’s Gaze, which I vow to try really hard NOT to fall to again, we left deeper into the dungeon. After much discussing and debating, Aendir and I covered up with capes, and tried our best to look intimidating. Aendir pulled it off well. Me? I….. am not so sure. But I stayed hid as much as I could. Mos…. (sighs deeply) Mos came into his element as an actor.

We found the Kuo-Toa nearly immediately, or rather they found us. Amazingly simple but effective guard posts for fish! But the guards themselves? Dumb as.. well, sand. We all followed our plan, and entered as Mos‘s ’slave crew’ and I think I chewed my mouth raw biting my tongue. The slaves… good gods the slaves. We have to go back in to save them, someday. Soon. The conditions they worked in, and the inhumane treatment are so wrong.

Very oddly, a human appearing woman came to ‘interpret’ for the fish men. Vhaega they called her. She appeared well fed and clothed, so in some way the fish folk are working with SOME force down there…

We were led down through the caves of the fish folk, and suddenly everyone caught their breath as one of those stuffy shirted rich kids’ followers from the adventures was there as a slave! We had to try to find where the rest of the group was, so on the fly, we suddenly needed more slaves for… recreational excuses. Watching Mos part with gold, it was SO HARD to not laugh. I just sunk deeper in my cloak and started silently reciting the followings of Teun to myself to keep quiet.

…… then we ran into Khatru himself. And the female from their company was nearby too. Watching Mos weave a story worthy of getting all THREE of them out, reminded me so much of him totally convincing Mama B that he didn’t swipe those pies right out from under her nose off the windowsill… with food on his collar! TOTALLY baffling. But he did it. Mos could sell dirt to a worm, if he tried. And more gold got pried out of his pockets. Seriously was worried I’d have to hand him MY coin purse on the side if we found more of them! But I would have. The glories of hiding in plain sight. They’re going to have fun replacing his mage coins! Hahaha!

We got past the slave pits, and ran into even MORE fun. A pit with a horror inside of it, all teeth and arms and roars. They were about to feed an orc to it, no HUGE loss, but the torture they were putting it through dangling it over the edge like that… totally not right. Either dispatch it or let it go for others to dispatch.

We finally hit the far side of the fish folks lands, and I am pretty sure coming back this way is not an option, like… ever. And boy was Khatru annoyed to find out we weren’t on the right side of them. I can’t blame him for wanting to see the sun, but we’re on a mission, and there’s no way even Mos could have gotten us back through those wet slimy caves on an excuse. They told us of their capture and sadly, the loss of two of their party members as we climbed towards the dark temple. Unfortunately, we have a mess of undead apparently to work our way through first, and no matter how quietly we try to sneak through, they came out and glory be to Teun, they turned away from HER glory! Now I have to hope the rest which are surely coming will too….

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Mos' Diary: The Care and Feeding of Slaves or How Much More Is This Going To Cost Me?!?

We passed into the fishfolk’s lands. I never gave much thought to the temperature of my blood before. I mean, I’ve been called cold-blooded, of course. In my line of work, it’s an occupational hazard. But these fishfolk? Actually cold-blooded. And now I’m feeling insulted in retrospect.

We posed as a cleric of the Black Hand and his band of merry slaves to pass into the fish-lands. It’s probably good that we did. There were a ton of the scaly walkers here and while I have great faith in Aendir and Thorzin to cause copious amounts of grievous bodily harm, I think we would have been overrun. Still, it made my skin crawl to give hard-earned coin to those creepy fish. And I had to pay extra to keep the bloody cat alive! EXTRA. MORE MONEY. TO KEEP THE BLEEDING CAT ALIVE. Somewhere there is a special heaven set aside for us long-suffering martyr types, I tell you. I keep this up and I’m going to start glowing with all my holiness.

And then we saw one of Khatru’s band. Well, even with my newfound holiness, I wasn’t exactly excited about bailing the lout out. But a man has got to look out for his fellow man, I always say. So I selflessly paid for his freedom. Overpaid for his freedom, even. He didn’t look too much the worse for wear, but even so. I’d never admit it, but leaving the other slaves in the hands of the fishfolk made me sick. Their eyes were… haunted. To be a slave is bad enough, but a slave to a race of monsters?

We found Khatru and even another woman from his team. I bought them too, parting with my poor mage coins. I will miss them. We managed to make it through, but not before we saw a great thing in the pit, being fed slaves for the amusement of the watchers. This place is truly horrific and I can’t imagine how I’d survive if we were captured and brought to this hell-hole. Khatru filled us in on what happened. They weren’t excited about going with us to the Deep Temple, but we can’t afford to pay our way back through the fishfolk and they demanded sacrifices if we came back. I mean, I’d give them the cat, but I already paid for it. I feel like I own the rotten predator now. And I hate giving away property without a good reason.

Now, if I could the skin back, maybe in the form of a lovely sleeping bag? Hmm….

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Session 12: No Turning Back Now!
30th of Rain, 721 IA
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Well, at least Thorzin got a good night’s sleep.

A few delvers were a bit surly after resting, but they decided against popping open the second sarcophagus to deal with the entrapped undead within.

A return to the West Mines led them to investigate a couple of empty side rooms (just to be sure they weren’t leaving an enemy at their backs), but then it was time to leave the mapped regions and face off against the fish men of the Flooded Mines.

Aendir and Chesh donnned cloaks and hid at the back of the group with their heads down, and Mos posed as the “cultist” head honcho, leading a bunch of slaves to the Deep Temple. The warlock spent a few minutes casting a comprehend languages spell, and they headed out. They first encountered an unpleasant slimy substance that covered everything – floor, walls, and ceiling, and discovered that the slippery stuff stank of fish. There was no other choice but to continue on though, and everyone moved gingerly through the inch-deep layer of gooey slime.

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A deep, metallic CLUNK just ahead stopped them in their tracks. They could just barely see a spearhead jutting from a hole in the wall directly ahead, and realized that it was a ballista bolt pointing directly at them from a murder hole!

A heavily accented voice from behind the wall called out, “Hold or die!” and everyone held while Mos dug out his Ebon Hand symbol. He had a brief conversation in Common with the unseen challenger (and overheard a bit of discussion behind the wall about whether or not to attack), and was told to enter.

And then the delvers moved into Kuo-Toan territory. Beyond the wall was a large hall where eight slimy, fish-headed humanoid guards waited. One spoke a few words of halting Common, then switched to its own strange, clicking and popping language to tell one of the others to fetch someone named Vhaega. Everyone stood around and waited for a while until she arrived. Talk about your awkward silences…

When she did finally arrive, Vhaega Thrinn turned out to be a beautiful, raven-haired human woman who spoke very clear, unaccented Common. Believing their disguises, she welcomed them and asked for the standard 100 gp per traveler fee. She tacked on an additional 100 gp for Kemnebi, though she seemed reluctant to even allow the cat to enter. Mos grudgingly paid, and off they went through the Flooded Mines of the Kuo-Toa.

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Accompanied by Vhaega and a squad of kuo-toan guards, our heroes made their way slowly through the slime-coated tunnels. As they passed other intersecting tunnels, their lights shone down on water-filled tunnels where a few fishy heads occasionally were poking above the surface, watching them pass. A low stone bridge with no side rails of any kind spanned a slow-moving river, and more of the fishmen could be seen in the water below.

And then they found the mines, where kuo-toan guards and masters stood watch over their miner slaves. And Nethwen recognized the familiar face of one of the Company of the Iron Fist. She had a brief, whispered conversation with her “master” Mos, and the halfling then convinced their human guide to let him purchase the poor fellow from the kuo-toa.

Everyone was pretty happy about this, until in the very next chamber they spotted Anton Khatru himself digging in the mine! He spotted Nethwen and, wide-eyed, silently pled for help.

Mos was very convincing in his story-weaving, but eventually managed to buy three slaves: Khatru, the first guy, and their female companion from the reluctant guide. (Mos sweetened the deal by including several Mage Coins.)

They continued on as fast as they could, crossing another bridge and following the river upstream for a time before turning west into another tunnel. Judging by the thunderous roar, a waterfall was just upstream; but beastly roars emanating from the tunnel ahead could be heard even over the river noise.

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In the cavern ahead they saw a large group of Kuo-Toa, Humans, and a strange monstrous humanoid standing in a crowd overlooking a deep pit that filled the north half of the room. The roars were coming from the pit, where a terrifyingly bizarre creature – about fifteen feet tall! – scrabbled in a vain attempt to climb up from the slime-coated pit.

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The kuo-toans were dangling a hapless orc over the pit, taunting the horror below, to the cheers and jeers of the crowd.

Understanding the odds, the heroes had to ignore this scene and moved on. The next room was the northernmost edge of the Kuo-Toan territory, and their escort bid them adieu. Happily, the slime coating everything ended just a short distance up the tunnel, too!

They found a place where they could see an opening in the ceiling above; consulting their map, they climbed up and took a break while Anton Khatru told them the sad tale of the Company of the Iron Fist. The Kuo-Toans had ambushed the delvers, and rather than killing them had seized them for slave laborers in their mines. Two members of that company had already been killed, sacrificed in the name of the fishmen’s mysterious Floating Queen.

The survivors were more than willing to help in a fight, so weapons were shared, and the combined companies moved into the Crypts.

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The very first thing they found was a cavern with writing etched into the walls in at least a dozen languages and limned with faerie fire. The words said “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter the Darakhul Empire”. Nethwen had heard whispers of a ghoul empire somewhere far beneath the Necropolis

Consulting their map again, they headed northwest into the Crypts proper, where they encountered a few roaming undead. The battle was brief, but loud. Especially when Thorzin blasted one of the ghouls with his dragon pistol!

But don’t worry. I’m sure there wasn’t anyone (or anything) around to hear the gunfire…

End of Session.

GM’s Notes: Well that was worth the wait! And what’s going to happen when we finally, FINALLY reach the Deep Temple?!! Tune in next time, True Believers!

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Mos' Diary: Why They Call it the Pit of Insanity

So today my eye fell out. Fell out and went for a walkabout. On its own. Without me.

Never thought I’d write that sentence. EVER. Trust me, don’t do magic near the Pit of Insanity. Safety tip from your Uncle Mos, kids.

Also, don’t get a massage from a mummy. Chesh got handsy with the thing and she still smells, despite copious attempts at bathing on her part. Now, she just might be that bad at bathing, but even an idiot squirrel can find a nut with practice, right? I think she might be infected. Or infested. Who the heck knows what the ancient crackpots who built this place put in their dead people! Thorzin seems to enjoy the rumble-bed he’s gained by sleeping on the sealed coffin. However the wailing makes for a really disturbing night’s sleep. I dreamed I was being chased by Chesh who kept singing and kicking randomly things. WAIL….SLAM SLAM SLAM..WAILSLAM SLAM SLAM. All damn night long.

And that damn cat kept watching me. I got up to take a leak during the ‘night’ and I swear it was licking its chops. If Nethwen ever drops down here, I’m taking that cat out before she gets healed. I’ll blame it on kobolds or whatever, but that thing needs to be a throw rug.

Yona and I chatted about Aendir‘s secret. He doesn’t act like a psychopath. I mean, aside from running toward the biggest nastiest thing in the room instead of away like a normal person, but… I’m keeping an eye on him. I mean, if you associate with blokes that burn people alive, you definitely don’t get off scott-free, right?

I’m back to sleep now. Stupid cat. I can see its damned eyes glow in the candlelight. And I think… yeah, Thorzin‘s making horse-noises in his sleep. I think the dwarf thinks he’s riding a steed. Mighty Rider Thorzin atop his gallant steed, Mummy-in-a-Box. MUMMY-IN-A-BOX, AWAY!

Stupid cat.

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Session 11 Party Treasure

3 GP
7 SP
8 CP
3 Potions of Healing
1 Elixir of Health
1 Potion of Water Breathing
1 Scroll of Lesser Restoration
1 Backpack Transformed Into Solid Ithildin [along with all its contents] (1200 GP)
1 Ring of Feather Falling

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Session 11: In Too Deep??
29th of Rain, 721 IA
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Aendir and Thorzin were totally cool with taking on the spiders and going the long way ‘round, but Mos and Nethwen insisted that they weren’t going anywhere near the Spider Nope Stairs. Or the Temple of Spiders Nope. Nooope, nopity nope nope nope.

They finally decided to climb down a rope to reach the spiral stairs going further down into the Pit of Insanity; they also didn’t particularly want to investigate the big, scary statues in the Hall of Bronze. Using the rope seemed a lot more sensible. They could see a landing near the base of the pit, and Nethwen kinda-sorta remembered that a brief exposure to the pit’s chaos wasn’t too dangerous. Probably.

They hurried down to the landing.

The platform actually extended out a little way over the pit, and a large statue of a two-headed demon with tentacles for arms stood watch above the pit. About 40-50 feet below the landing, the sides of the bottom of the pit sloped inward toward a huge globulous mass of grayish goo, roughly 20 feet in diameter. The liquid chaos had a prismatic sheen of swirling, oily color across its surface.

Near the statue, an unmoving cloud of mist hovered a few feet above the floor of the landing. Mos was fascinated by the translucent cloud, and eventually determined (without actually touching it) that it seemed to be a very potent cloud of acidic vapor.

Meanwhile, Aendir and Thorzin checked out the door. As they drew near, Aendir stepped on a pressure plate that caused the large door to slowly swing open, revealing a corridor…

A sudden SNAP was the only warning as the weakened hinges of the heavy door unexpectedly shattered, and with a thunderous slam the door fell to the ground.

Everyone froze, straining to listen. Did the noise attract anything?

Yes. Yes, it did.

From within the hall now revealed, they could hear heavy, many-legged thumping footsteps. They readied their weapons and stared in shock as a titanic carrion crawler, easily four times larger than any they’d ever seen, came rushing out of the darkness and attacked.

The battle was fierce and bloody, and thankfully brief. The giant crawler pummeled Aendir with its tentacles, but the doughty paladin fought off the monster’s paralytic poison and continued hacking at the horrible beast along with the rest of his companions. Yona got in the final blow, burying an arrow deep in the beast’s eye and into its brain.

Chesh was curious, and tried tossing a piece of dead crawler down into the Pit. It started to be absorbed into the liquid chaos, but then burst into bright flames and melted!

Then Mos tried to detect magic, and inadvertently discovered one of the many dangers of the Pits of Insanity: the poor halfling’s eyes popped right out of his head and rolled away across the floor!

Aendir scooped up the shocked warlock, as Thorzin and Chesh chased after his eyes. When they finally caught them, they were far enough down the hall that they could see the remains of a fallen delver in a side room.

That unfortunate person had undergone the same chaotic changes as the stone walls; the metal of his breastplate had sprouted microtentacles all over, his skull had turned to wood and had grown to three times its normal size, and his leg had apparently phased into the solid stone – a couple of leg bones were sticking out of the floor! And the delver’s backpack had been transmuted from leather to solid, shining Ithildin (elvish moonglow silver)!

They didn’t stop to investigate though, and hurried down a side tunnel with the parts and pieces of the halfling until they thought they were far enough away from the Pit to rest. By the time everyone got there though, Mos had magically regrown his eyes (though the old ones were still there too)!

The now-recovered warlock had to go back and investigate that fallen delver, and Yona tagged along. She grabbed the (heavy!) backpack, while Mos couldn’t resist taking that big wooden skull. (He then proceeded to wear it as a hat for the rest of the evening.)

The backpack and almost all of its contents had been transformed, but the transformation didn’t quite reach the last page of the poor fellow’s journal. Mos was able to tear it out, and he read it aloud to his companions. Much new information was learned.
(DM’s Note: Go read the journal page. It’s worth it!)

Since they were there, the pair of delvers did a quick search of the other rooms in this small section. The first (and only) door they opened unleashed a huge cloud of toxic yellow gas! They quickly slammed that door shut. The only other item of interest was a table that had been changed from wood… to potato. Uncooked potato. The giant crawler had apparently been noshing on it, too.

It was time to get the hell out of there. They returned to their waiting companions (Mos was noticeably top-heaving with his new hat, and Yona was waddling while carrying that huge, heavy hunk of metal) and headed off to find more loot adventure.

They found a room where long-dead corpses still lay where they’d fallen in battle. Nethwen noticed some odd little green worms scattered throughout the carnage, and Chesh remembered them as the necrotic undead worms of the spawn of Kyuss. They decided not to explore much further in that direction.

They then went ‘round the corner and found another one of those solid stone slab doors with the brass-handled levers. It looked to be identical to the one up in the Hall of Bronze, but this time Thorzin tried the lever. It didn’t work, sadly.

They forged on, and next found a huge laboratory filled with strange machinery, the most prominent of which were the three gigantic iron and glass tanks in the center of the area. Two of the three were filled with some greenish liquid and inhabited by sleeping or dead creatures, while the westernmost tank sat dry and empty. A huge hole in one of the glass partitions on that tank indicated that the inhabitant may have broken free. The easternmost tank held a terrifyingly large centipede-like creature with a segmented body and many legs. Though it was coiled up as it floated in the translucent liquid, the creature was at least 40 feet in length.

In the middle tank was a creature straight out of nightmare. The centipede creature was big, but this serpentine purple creature was HUGE. At least twice as long as the other creature, its mouth could have easily swallowed an entire horse. The high ceiling of the hall was shrouded in shadow, hidden by many pipes and machines.

The delvers stood for a while in the doorway, but eventually overcame their trepidation and moved through the area. They chose to not mess with anything here. (Dammit.)

They could see and hear the snapping, popping flashes of lightning coming from the next room, and proceeded carefully into another lab. This large room was crowded with tables, work benches, and odd metal machines. These were covered with wrecked bits of metal, glass, and less identifiable stuff. The tang of ozone filled the air. Pipes crisscrossed the ceiling, and near the western entrance they could see the snapping and sparking of lightning emanating from a damaged pipe overhead.

Azza_Gremlin_Image.png

And then two small humanoids suddenly popped into existence, hovering in midair just beneath the broken pipe. They seemed to be playing in the lightning and showering sparks, but when they noticed the delver interlopers they quickly vanished again.

The Aelectricity was leaking from a damaged pipe; Thorzin could tell it looked to be slashed open, and Mos noted two oval-shaped burn marks (footprints?) on the floor beneath this broken pipe.

They also chose to not touch anything in this lab, and moved on through to the stairs shown on their Delver’s Guild map, and down to the bottom level of the Lost Mines.

(DM’s Note: This is where I screwed up the mapping. These stairs should have taken you to the room in the West Mines, rather than next to the hydra’s lair in the East Mines. All of the maps are now updated and correct. Sorry about the mix-up.

They found yet another brass-handled lever next to yet another solid stone slab. Hopefully one of the levers will work someday.

Further along in the ancient dwarven mines, they could hear a rhythmic thumping noise coming from a side tunnel. Yona was sent to investigate, and found a nine-foot-tall humanoid creature, apparently made from solid rock, hammering away at the wall of the room with its fists. It was making slow but steady progress in enlarging this room, and since it appeared to be enjoying itself just fine all by itself, she decided to leave it be and snuck back to her friends..

And then they found a hydra’s lair. The seven-headed monstrosity charged, and though there was a very frightening moment when two more heads sprang from the stump of a dead head, the tough delvers were able to chop, stab, shoot, and burn the huge reptilian monster into oblivion.

Its lair held the broken and tattered skeletal remains of previous meals. Mos gingerly attempted to detect magic once again, and was relieved to find his eyes and his spells worked normally again. He found a magical ring (still on a finger).

They then decided to go upstairs to investigate the other side of the big cave-in that had forced them to detour. And as it turned out, there was one room up there that was still reachable. Light could be seen coming from a crack under the door, but no sound could be heard.

Inside, they found an Everburning Torch illuminating the chamber, which held a stone slab table in it center and a matching pair of sarcophagi stood against the walls on either side. Chesh decided it was her turn, so with the help of a spider climb spell from Mos, she went in to examine everything from above.

She found that the right-hand sarcophagus had an unbroken seal keeping the lid on, but the left-hand sarcophagus’ seal had been broken. Everyone gathered around the sarcophagus and pulled off the lid with weapons ready.

They needed ’em, too. A strange mummy with red, blazing eyes attacked immediately.

Chesh was stricken by the creature’s gaze, and it rushed to attack her as if it somehow knew she was weakened. Its terrible claws seemed to slice through her defenses like paper, dealing much more damage to the cleric than it was receiving from all the delvers’ weapons.

But then it was Mos’ turn. The warlock tried out his new Crown of Blasting for the first time, and blasted the vile undead with rays of searing, burning light!

Not to be outdone, Yona then used her magical blade to pierce the undead’s foul spirit, banishing it back from whence it came and causing its body to collapse in a pile of dirty rags and sand…

The other sarcophagus began to dance around as something inside it tried to break free. It wasn’t successful, especially when Thorzin jumped atop it and claimed it as his bed for the night!

Everyone paused to consider the possibility – it was an easily defensible room with only one exit, and they definitely needed a nice, long rest.

Thorzin insisted that he needed to keep feeding gold coins into the sarcophagus so it would keep vibrating, and the dwarf had a very enjoyable (but kinda loud) nap atop his rumbling bed…

End of Session.

DM’s Note: As always, that was a whole lotta fun. I did screw up a bit on the maps, but we’ll hash out those details next session. See y’all on the 15th!

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Session 10 party treasure

242 GP
123 SP
196 CP
1 Brass Key
3 Potions of Healing (2d4+2)
1 Elixir of Health
1 Potion of Waterbreathing
1 Scroll of Lesser Restoration
1 Crown of Blasting
1 Tourmaline (300 GP)
1 Pearl (100 GP)
1 Dragon Rifle (250 GP)
1 Gold Ring (200 GP)
2 Small Casks of Potent Liquor (Thorzin)
1 Chaositech Spear (Aendir)
Chest Chest Full of Coins (12 GP; 683 SP; 1922 CP)

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Session 10: Finally, a Chance to Catch Our Breath
28th of Rain, 721 IA
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Mos, Thorzin, Yona and Nethwen were busily looting the fallen Ratmen, while Chesh and Aendir stepped away to have a whispered – but spirited – discussion.

Much loot and many rat tails were taken. And Aendir kept the Drilling Spear.

Just as they were finishing, the approaching sounds of deep, booming chanting could be heard echoing through the rat tunnels. Even more rats were coming.

Chesh quickly doled out healing pills to her wounded companions, but they quickly decided that retreat would again be the best option and fell back to the secret door. Yona opted to stay behind and watch from the shadows, to see what the Ratmen had left. She didn’t have to wait long.

A quartet of ratbrutes surrounded a tall, lanky human in brown and black robes. He used a weird Chaositech scepter on a ratling (Yona thought it might be one of those who’d run away from the last fight) and she watched in horror as it spit a gray sphere that completely melted the ratling!

She got out of there in a hurry, and her vivid description made the group decide that maybe it was time to leave the Rat Folk alone for a while…

The delvers decided it was time to go back to the surface. Once there, everyone went their separate ways:

  • Aendir went home to get cleaned up and see his family.
  • Chesh went to her temple to do the same. So did Nethwen.
  • Yona, Mos and Thorzin ended up at the Row Bathhouse. Details are sketchy, but someone with a soapy sponge may have been seen chasing a screaming dwarf through the place.

With an agreement to meet at the Delver’s Guild Office the next morning, everyone did their own thing for the rest of the day. Loot was sold, supplies were purchased, and drinks were had. Mos found himself bemusedly officiating a drinking contest between Yona and Thorzin at the Ghostly Minstrel. The rogue made a decent showing for herself, but she was up against a professional.

They did have to pause the contest when a familiar blonde mercenary walked into the tavern. She wasn’t very happy to see us and dodged all attempts to learn where she’s staying or where she could be found, despite the best efforts of Yona and Thorzin. (Aendir and Chesh later gnashed their teeth at the missed opportunity.)

And then, to add further insult to injury, the trio overheard the story of a loudly celebrating group of delvers. They’d found a valuable golden statue… in the Kobold Slaughterhouse!

Meanwhile, Nethwen learned from her great aunt Fransin (and her gossipy neighbor) that Anton Khatru, the asshole-ish heir of House Khatru, has been reported as missing! Nethwen kept her lips zipped, especially when it turned out that she was the last person to have seen him alive…

The next morning, everyone met up at the Delver’s Guild Office, and Yona suggested that we go talk to a guy who might be able to get us more information about Chaositech. It sounded like a good idea, so off we went to the North Market.

The proprietor of the Book Wagon, a smug and cocky, well-dressed fellow wearing tinted glasses, is Darthalis Temester. He was happy to agree to help locate some information about Chaositech, and for only 400 gp. He asked for 24 hours to procure either a tome or the name of a person who could help.

The next day, he handed over a book entitled “The Fall of Darkness: An Account of the Ghulwar”.

And then it was back into the Dungeon.

There was no resistance at all. The troglodytes in the Lost River Caves West knew better, and we didn’t see a single ratling, all the way from the first secret door in the Lost River Caves East to the Bone Pile secret door. Apparently the Ratmen have now abandoned that particular tunnel.

Moving through the secret tunnel towards the cultist waystation, those strange murmuring voices could still be heard down a rat tunnels. Yona Note decided to take a peek, and snuck down to investigate.

She almost didn’t come back.

Gibbering_Mouther.jpg

Around a corner, she found a horrifying amoeboid blob covered in eyes, fanged mouths, and pseudopods. Its mouths were gibbering and babbling incoherently, but there was an oddly soothing quality to them that nearly captivated the rogue’s mind. Yona caught herself just before she stepped out of hiding to get a better listen!

The very disturbed rogue retreated and reported what she’d found. Nethwen recognized it as a gibbering mouther from the description, though she’d never seen one. They chose not to mess with it, and moved on.

The cultist waystation seemed to be untouched since their last visit, and they quickly snuck out the secret door on the Ogre Stairs – successfully, for once! – and down to the Marble Hall waystation. It also seemed undisturbed, but Nethwen was pretty sure Anton Khatru and company left the waystation through the western exit.

After carefully checking their Delver’s Guild maps, the group headed west into new territory. Unfortunately, someone else had definitely been there first – all they found for the next eight rooms were long-dead corpses and obviously looted rooms. They moved on, ready to go down to the next Dungeon level, but to their dismay they found a completely collapsed tunnel just past the fountain! This caused some concern, but they quickly found an alternate route on their maps and – after a quick scan of the other totally looted rooms in this area – headed south toward the Pit of Insanity.

The only rooms along the way with anything significantly interesting were one with a strange, mist-filled archway standing in its center (completely left alone), and one whose door was an impenetrable thick stone slab with a brass-handled lever next to it. Nobody was brave enough to mess with the lever.

The Pit of Insanity was a very strange place. Moving closer, they could see a faint, flickering illumination from somewhere down in the pit. The light gives glimpses of insanely strange walls – there are patches and striations of bizarre colors and materials in the walls of this huge vertical shaft roughly 150 feet in diameter. Pinks, nauseating greens, golds, and so many other colors clash with section that appear to be ice or crystal. The wall next to them had a patch that looks like it’s actually made of fur. Looking up and down, they could see a spiraling stairway that has been carved into the side walls. Another tunnel and ledge, unconnected to the one they stood on, could be seen on the other side of the pit. The crackling electricity is coming from a piece of wall about ten feet below; they could see small bolts of lightning zapping and snapping in a section roughly 5 feet across. There were a few other places in the walls that glow with their own light; the shaft goes up into darkness, but below it was at least 100 feet deep.

Worried about the warnings of being near one of the Pits, they quickly scurried past and headed for the stairs down…

Only to find another (or perhaps the same?) cave-in.

Now we need to find another way down. Do we dare risk the chaos of a Pit of Insanity? Do we go the long way ’round through spider country? Or do we just write off the Deep Temple quest altogether??

Tune in next time, true believers!

End of Session.

LEVEL UP! Welcome to Level Five!

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