Sunday, July 4, 2021

Midsummer at Skull Mountain

   It's that time again! The players prepared for Midsummer and sent in a pretty serious team of PCs.

Jack played Seeker, a 7/7 Mage/Thief. He brought two henchmen

Alex played Starfalcon, a 6th level elf ranger

Jennifer played Ingrid, a 7th level fighter. She brought two henchmen.

Nick played Talner, a 7th level cleric. he brought two henchmen.

Sam played Clint, a 6th level paladin. He brought 5 henchmen.

Sam also began play with Clarence, a 6th/6th fighter/ninja. he brought one henchman.

Seeker had his 4 heavy crossbowmen and 4 heavy footmen from his level. The other players combined added 8 more heavy brossbowmen and 8 more heavy footmen as well as a cook, a healer, and a valet.

  The party sent the henchmen minus Ingrid's illusionist to the Observatory. The henchmen took careful notes and reported that: the titan of the volcano waved and there was a disturbance in the ocean; fireworks in Banath;  three spelljammers landed in the lake and there was and obvious argument between the space elves and the royal family of Tirgalen; the Duke of the Moon was able to stalemate the mind flayer spelljammers and didn't lose any ships.

  In the meantime the PCs plus an illusionist henchman went tot he now-walled snyad village, joined them in a bit of their festival, then the illusionist peered through the illusion on the north wall. She reported that the Earth Titan awoke at midnight and fought to be free but was bound by a forcefield of some sort. After 15 minutes he returned to sleep. 

  The party also learned that the henchmen saw a boar come out of the Entrance Cave. Seeker convinced the party to clear out the boar to add meat to the Meat Locker, so at dawn the party was ready.

  They thought. The four GIANT boar really slammed into the party with a vengeance eventually dropping three PCs to single digits before dying! The hirelings rushed out to butcher and preserve the meat while the PCs healed up.

  Waiting an extra day for more healing and work, the party then decided to sweep the top levels for signs of change. Then out of nowhere, they used a series of spells and finally cleared out the Skeleton Cell! Within they found a secret door and a one-way teleporter. After judicious checking to ensure it wasn't a disintegrator they used it and found themselves deep in the mountain in The Junction, a room with a total of 8 teleporter chambers.

  As the party was talking a lovely woman in court garb appeared from one and used another, giving the party a light wave. The party did some exploring and found that the Junction leads to several places in the Mountain including a teleporter just by the Observatory. Learning how quickly they could travel between 'zones' of the Mountain, Nick commented,

  "It is like living your life in a neighborhood and then, at age 20, learning that nearby is this thing called a 'freeway' where you can use 'automobiles' to visit distant places rapidly."

  One of the places they visited was the Lounge, where the Grandfather of Assassins meets people. Some roleplaying revealed that most of Clarence's recent interactions had been with shapechanged ogre magi, not assassins and the intricate web of oaths and trust Kyodai was trying to leverage to attack the Grandfather. With his portion of the adventure done Clarence and his henchmen left and took a thunderbolt chariot back to Yashima.

  The party then decided to check out the Elemental Caves. They went 3-4 miles through various caverns and got to the Sinkhole, a 1/4 mile drop. Seeker scouted and noted something lurking, so used his broom and spells and Talner's abilities to bring all the PCs at once. The fight with a bearded devil was tough, but Starfalcon smote it with a mighty blow. They went on for over another mile to a fork and took the right, soon fighting a barbed devil! This fight was tougher with the devil teleporting again and again to assaut the weaker members. Finally they found the Hidden Temple, a duplicate of the one from seocnd level. At first isappeared abandoned and ruined. the party was slowly advancing to destroy the altar when Seeker finally saw through the illusion - the temple was perfect and a laughing bone devil was mere feet from Clint!

  Hack said,

  "Best call for a disbelieve I've ever done!"

  The bone devil's first hit pinned Starfalcon, preventing him from attacking, and the party piled on. It was a fierce fight, but they pulled it off. While the PCs were fighting the full dozen henchmen destroyed the altar! Completed the party grabbed the loot and retreated. Seeker used his item to summon an earth elemental and the elemental brought down the entire temple and the tunnel leading to it, completely filling it in with rock.

  They took the other fork and soon entered a massive volcanic bubble with 16 side tunnels Close investigation revealed that each tunnel let to a portal to one of the elemental, para-elemental, or quasi-elemental planes! The party was staggered by the danger inherent in the room and retreated to use the Junction to get the Archbishop from the Basilica. Using the vast treasure they had already found, they used essentially all the money to assist the archbishop in encircling the Sinkhome with a Glyph of Warding. They believe that this plus the powerful wandering monsters will protect the Caves until they can return with a good team to seal it off.

  They rested 2 days then headed for the Monster Caverns.

This involved a long trek of about 5 miles through the Mountain and the Eastern Caverns (and required them to carefully avoid the moon beetle and the space snail). They were greatly slowed down by the 1/2 mile through the shrieker/violet fungi forest but eventually came to a new cavern. After killed 10 giant bats the party had Seeker scout the high ceiling of this vast cavern where he beheld a forest of piercers! The party went single file along one wall, trying to be as quiet, silent, and fast as possible. Luckily only two people were hit and took acceptable damage. 

  The caverns beyond were swarming with monsters. The party deal with owlbears, caterwauls, and the most fearsome - a rust monster! Thank goodness one of the henchmen is a monk. But after another mile they saw the tunnels littered with bones and rotting corpses of various monsters and a side tunnel where water came out to sluice the rotting remains down slope. AS they explored the side tunnel (which skirted a maze of tunnels!) they monsters coming from ahead just kept coming until they finally entered the Room of the Pool. One the far end was the Monster Pool, an unholy abomination that had been spawning a new monster every round once the party was close.

  The party split into three groups - most of the henchmen guarding the known exit, Starfalcon and 2 henchmen dealing with the spawned monsters, and the rest of the fighter-types meleeing the pool. The damage dealt was amazing with Jack commenting after round 3.

  "We've done enough to down a huge ancient red dragon".

  Then in round 4 the pool lashed out with a pseudopod, grabbed Ingrid, pulled her in...

...and she died, dissolved by the pool.

  They quickly swapped out Clint for Starfalcon and kept fighting the monsters and the Pool. Jack noted they had now done enough damage to kill two huge ancient reds when Nick said,

  "I fall back a goof 50' and get out a scroll."

  He used a carefully saved scroll of Holy Word that blasted the last of the pool out of existence just before it killed another member of the party.

  Clint used a Wish to get Fiona back, hale and hearty, and the party started checking the room, soon finding evidence that the system had been rigged to be corrupted. Finding a control room (much older than the substations) they used their helm of comprehend languages to slowly reboot the system and within an hour the atmosphere plant was back online, 100% operational.

  The party continued on, eventually finding a massive cavern where all the rot, offal, and such drained into a vast pool of filth and corruption - they declined to enter. They also found the fabled Tomb of the Star Elves (which they ignored because of the 4 caryatid columns and stone golem), and that the tunnels continued, probably for many more miles.

  Exhausted, almost out of healing, and low on combat spells, they headed back almost losing a henchman and Starfalcon to piercers. They had to wait a bit to get past the snail and beetle, but then were home.

  They saw the archbishop who removed the Curses they had all picked up, and then removed diseases from them, and just generally checked them out.

  They accomplished a great deal and now know that the thrid moon, Phoebe, will have its atmosphere back within months! Starfalcon used his Ring of the Coment Horse to go to the second moon, Selene, and tell the Duke about this - he wants a member of the royal family of Eiru to get there as soon as possible to keep the mind flayers from settling....

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