Monday, June 2, 2014

DM's Log - Blackstone Campaign, sessions 3&4

  Previous entry is here.

  This is 'Group 2' in the campaign and the party is;
  My son J. plays a 2/3 Illusionist/Thief Gnome named... Steve, Or Bob. Or Tom. It varies.  My son A. plays a Half-elf 2/2 Fighter/magic-user named Drake  My son S. plays a Half-elf 2/3 Fighter/Thief named Sir Neun Hammerfist  My son N. plays a Human 4th level Fighter specialized in the falchion named Tellon  My wife plays a Human 4th level Cleric named Marigold
  Also with the party is Marigold's henchman, Kugel the Stern, a 1st level Dwarf cleric and Neun's bodyguard (henchman) Clandrel, a 1st level fighter.

   After resting in the corridor the party continued their explorations. In the next room they found the large, seemingly-dead seemingly-a-tree room. Very concerned, Steve reached into his Bag of Tricks and pulled out - a bull! He sent the bull into the room where it was promptly paralyzed and the tree began to eat it. Realizing a majority of its tentacles were being used to haul the bull to the 'tree's' mouth the fighters closed with it and killed it surprisingly quickly. Beyond the room the party realized they were back in the large space where they had fought the amphisbaena. They checked the lone door from that room they had yet to open and discovered that the hallway beyond was rather odd. The floor dorpped off perhaps 20' and the floor was covered with pale thorn bushes and large, dew-speckled white flowers. There were bronze bars crossing the hall every 10'. The party uttered a collective 'not going that way' and shut the dorr, returning to what they now called 'the cat room' via the dead 'tree' room.
  Marigold, the cleric, had had a dream, however, about the room holding Xipe and the party decided they had to clear it out. The 'stuffed' jaguar was now pacing the hall but ignored the party. The walls had fresh human skins and fresh blood on the floor. The party was tightly focused on the statue and was preparing to unleash the majority of their spell power on it, thinking it was enchanted, when Drake wandered over to the well and realized it was full of liquid light. His insistence that the party examine the well and airshaft before they did more agitated some party members, but they listened. Another Bag of Tricks animal (a goat, I believe) was tossed into the well and showed that it was lethal. Drake, believing more was going on, shouted up the air shaft - and a booming voice responded! Drake (who speak ogrish) argued with the voice as Steve and Neun silently (and in the case of Steve invisibly) clambered up the shaft, trailing a rope.
  The two thieves soon realized that there was an entrance in the side of the shaft and that the voice was coming from inside. They swiftly anchored a rope as Drake told the 'god' that, intimidated, the party was leaving but would return with offerings. As soon as that was said the party began swarming up the rope to get into the room, Steve leading the was unseen.
  Tellon, who is a cuisinart, was the first visible member to climb in and held Xipe back as more joined the fun. Xipe tried his shout attack (with little effect) and the fight was over in just 3 rounds. The party realized "Xipe" was an Ogre Mage shapechanged to resemble the statue below and found journals in the language of Zingara that indicated he was an agent of some overlord who wanted to expand into the Fever Lands. The party gathered the valuables and left.
  Finally going through virtualy the last door on the level they came to a long corridor. At a bend in the corridor was a large stone lid in the floor inscribed with the phrase,
    "Dare not open this pit unless you are willing to meet the challenge of the game".
  The party uttered a collective, 'you got it' and continued.
  In a long room they found several rather messily-dead baboons from a long time before and, at the end of the hall, a large spherical object floating through the air with a central eye and eyestalks! Steve promptly feathered its brisket with a clothyard shaft, detonating the gas spore 40' away. After the cloud of dust (and a bit of the ceiling) settled the party went on and found a ramp going down. 
  As the party descended they heard grinding and saw a massive stone wheel careening down the ramp. Everyone was able to get out of the way, but Drake lost his backpack and (thus) all his rations, limiting the party's time underground. The wheel smashed open the doors at the base of the ramp and a large number of fire beetles rushed out. 3 rounds of spells, missile weapons, and a little hand to hand and the beetles were. all dead. Steve used some of their glands to save on torches.
  They cleared out the fire beetle nest in the next room and proceeded down a corridor. About halfway down they were trapped between two stone doors that slid from the ceiling and then they trap began filling with sand. Drake and Tellon immediately began hacking at the far door as Steve and Neun tried to disarm or block the trap. All saw a will o' the wisp enter the area and knew it was a death trap. 
  Once again the lethality of Tellon shone through and the door was hacked apart in plenty of time. Marigold covered Steve with a Protection from Evil and he warded the party from the will o' the wisp as they fled the area. Further down the hall the party encountered an open pit with long-dead bodies at the bottom. The further hallway looked clear. Steve once more fetched an animal from his Bag of Tricks, an own, and ordered it to fly across - it promptly hit an invisible wall and fell into the it. Only stunned, it soon revealed that there were gaps in the invisible wall on each side. The party was soon across the pit. From the far side the pillar blocking the middle of the hall was visible.
  Before much longer they party came to a fork in the passages. Deciding that since the only known way in was blocked by the sand trap the party had a new primary goal - finding another way out! The party changed its normal search pattern and started trying to edge back around to another way up. They came to a hall where the walls had stone eagle heads sticking out, one with a gold ring - the party simply marched past. Just beyond were dozens of human figures. As the party advanced they animated and attacked as zombies. Marigold turned her maximum number on her first attempt and then Tellon and Drake made short work of them with a lot of help from Neun and Marigold as Steve kept an eye out. 
  Beyond was a room with fading writing on the walls and two figures on stone couches that looked asleep. The writing spelled out,
  "The capitol has fallen. God save the emperor."
  Drake reached out and touched the male - within moments both had woken up and began speaking in Kadari [an ancient tongue that only survives as the language magic]. Drake could understand it but Steve could not (illusionists use another tongue). The Conversation went something like this,
  The Sleepers: "Who sits on the Jade Throne?"
  Drake: "The Jade Throne is empty"
  Sleepers: "The civil war still is fought? Which side are you on, the Imperial Family or [She Who Would Rule]?"
  Drake: "I take no side in the civil war"
  Sleepers: "A barbarian! Even in this foul shrine to an evil cult have the barbarians come! Pay us the [required fee to enter the empire] and you may loot this foul place as you wish"
  Drake: "I am no barbarian. The civil war is long over. The Jade Empire is no more. Since your time the Ruby Empire and the Emerald Empire have both risen and fallen."
  Sleepers [stunned}: "What year is it?"
  Drake [after checking with Marigold]: "6,640 years since the founding of the Jade Throne."
  Sleepers [the woman is now weeping]: "Our apprentices were to awaken us after the battle with the cultists was over. They must... They must have perished."
  He looked around,
  "The spells that trapped us here are long faded."
  Looking back at Drake,
  "Please take this and keep it."
  He handed Drake a piece of amber with a tiny red beetle trapped within. A moment later he had teleported them both away.
  The party did not disturb the room. Neun drank a potion of treasure finding to help them look for the golden idol. One of the doors led to the fire beetles nest, so they now had a way out. Checking the last door from the room of the sleepers they found a massive block sealing off a corridor. The party slid it left and found a ramp up with stone rollers in the floor. Steve went up alone to scout and soon realized that the ramp led to very near where he had killed the gas spore. he returned to the party and told them what he had found.  The party returned to their normal search pattern, soon finding a secret door they had previously missed in the corridor of eagle heads. While Neun and Steve were checking the secret door for traps Drake simply picked up the golden ring in the eagle head's mouth, showed it to the party, and pocketed it.
 The party went through the secret door and down into a tunnel knee deep in water (chest deep to Steve). At the end was a door with a keyhole through which light was shining. Marigold cast an Augury which brought the answer,
  "The idol lies beyond, but beware evil disguised by beauty"
  After a surprisingly long argument about who would look through the keyhole, no one did and they simply opened the door. The nereid on the far side immediately gobsmacked the male party members but Marigold had time to slam the door back shut, blocking sight of her. The party quickly prepared, retreiving a lion from the Bag of Tricks and Marigold reading a Scroll of Protection from Possession. The party entered the room with the lion suddenly being tied up with the electric eel and the nereid being surprised at men attacking her! The battle was short and vicious with the lion, the nereid, and the eel all dead in 3 round (!). The entire party had taken damage from the electric eel so a few moments were taken to heal a few people up. Neun detected treasure in the deep pool of water. The party pressed on.
  Soon they entered a room with a large, smooth boulder and a trash talking - crayfish. The crayfish waved its little pincers and utters dire warnings and the party - decided to see if they could go around. Another water-filled corridor and room later they realized they had to pass the crayfish and his giant hermit crab pal [the 'large, smooth boulder]. So the party sweet-talked the crayfish and crept to the next door. This worked and the party was soon sloping down again. They triggered a trap meant to harm them and block the corridor, but it only partially functioned due to age. The party passed on, entered a room and...
   ...finally found the idol! Steve sent in an owl from his Bag of tricks to retrieve it and the party quickly reversed course to get out of the pyramid! They spoke with the crayfish on the way and convinced him to come along (they realized he was there to protect the idol but since they had it his mission was over).
  On the way back they paused to retrieve the loot earlier detected by Neun (over Tellon's objections) and Neun used his abilities and skills to rig ropes so the party could exit from the amphisbaena room's collapsed ceiling. They rushed to the river, retrieved their hidden canoes, and beganpaddling immediately.
  Because they were so close to the dark of the moon and the return of the winged apes they decided to have Marigold and Drake sleep while everyone else paddled all night. Early the next morning they found the camp of their native allies who admitted they would have left before Noon. Steve took out the idol to show the natives of their success and, as sunlight struck it for the first time in centuries, ashimmering shockwave rippled from the idol in all directions. The natives were delighted since the idol would show that the Sun God favored the Northerners and that Xipe was too weak to defend the pyramid. The party explained that Xipe was an imposter and then grabbed some sleep. After a few hours they all set out and in 3 more days of uneventful travel they party made it back to Redport on the coast.
  Later that day the Sleepers teleported to Drake and asked him a few more questions before telling him they had to think about their future and teleporting away again.
  The party was well paid by Ewin and I distributed experience points.

Players in my campaign should stop reading here

  Modifying the Hidden Shrine to fit into my campaign was a great deal of fun. The main hook was the ogre mage pretending to be a god, which really set off the train of thought. The other main group in Blackstone has been searching for an artifact called the Water Tiger for a long time and the 'rippling explosion from the idol' was the ending of the spell that cloaked the Water Tiger's very existence. It will still be very hard to find but at least there is a chance, now.
  I have never cared for the nereid so I was pleased the encounter went so well. I dislike the 'all males are charmed automatically no matter what no save never' mechanic as I think it is a cop out. While the Scroll of Protection from Possession never explicitly states its stops nereid charm, it is in line with the scroll's powers, so I let it go. And I had forgotten Marigold had it, too! I changed some of the traps around and I really changed the sleepers! Originally they were 1e monks, now they are 2e specialist mages; originally they were Suloise exiles, now they were Jade Empire hostages taken by a necromancer death cult; originally there was no real clear explanation of why the monks had been just lying there for millenia, now they were unaware until awoken and had previously been trapped within wards. The tie in between She Who Waits and She Who Would Rule are nebulous, but I hope the party figures it out soon.
  The party is doing well and there was a lot of leveling up, so - it is about time to start a new party for some jazz band fun!

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