Friday, May 23, 2008

Episode 6: 5/10/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-2
Haroldur, human cleric/3
Nineve Floret, human knight/3
Sarek, human wizard/3

Zolara interprets our Harrow reading:

"Expect to find a hidden place of despair in a location you have previously cleansed. A great many have suffered and been lost there. In the near future, there will be a journey, which will go smoothly. At the end of the journey, betrayal and a great test await you."

Tamklar and his family accompany us to Diamond Lake, along with Brolan, of course, and the trip passes uneventfully. The crew isn't happy about Hezzrak's presence, but they don't put up too much of a fuss. We arrive in Diamond Lake in the early morning, and the soldiers crewing for us return to the barracks. We make our way to the Grey Convent, and find it much improved. Yril, Aodra and Tares, the new acolytes, greet us, and we compliment them on their diligent work. Yril tells us that the townsfolk are afraid of body-snatching rumors circulating in the poor quarter (which in Diamond Lake is more like the poor three-quarters). Fearing the worst, they went to the observatory and found it infested with more zombies, but it was much more than they could handle by themselves. I swear that we will stop the zombie apocalypse, and we head off to visit our friend Lazare. Brolan agrees to stay at the Grey Convent for the time being.

On the way to Lazare's, Kullen and some of his thugs approach us and ask our business. We explain we've finished our investigation in Kolbenberg and are merely passing back through Diamond Lake. We promise to mind our own business and be out of Smenk's hair as soon as possible. Thus assured, Kullen and his boys saunter off, but keep a wary eye on us.

We visit Lazare, who greets us warmly, as usual. We tell him of our adventures in Kolbenberg, which takes the better part of midday, and eventually get around to asking him about the Whispering Cairn. He agrees to consult his extensive library and do a bit of research, for the usual fee. We can return tomorrow to find out what he's turned up.

The rest of the day is spent buying and selling. Haroldur barters with the church of Heironeus (the turncoat!) to turn his admittedly cool-looking ancient armor into +1 full plate. I get a cleric (NOT a Heironeus pig-cleric!) to cast Make Whole on Zasolomel's mantle, and it looks much better now (and functions as +1 mithral chain! FTW!).

I have the opportunity to ask Tamklar what he's doing with us. Scratching at his slowly regrowing stubble, he tells me that for weeks he prayed to Moradin for deliverance and his wife's recovery, but his pleas fell upon deaf ears. In his opinion, it was Wee Jas who heard his prayers and answered them, and he's willing to follow her (and subsequently us) from now on. Dwarves can be so single-minded! Why is everything always a life-debt with them?!? I play devil's advocate and present the idea that perhaps Moradin works in mysterious ways (which neither of us is really buying). Ultimately I tell him that neither we nor Wee Jas demand or expect his allegiance - the Lady is never jealous for converts, as all come to know her eventually. That's one of the advantages of being a death Goddess, I suppose. However, if he's made up his mind (and he assures me he has), I offer to make accommodations for him and his family while they travel with us. He seems relieved. I remember that Tamklar is a professional miner, so I introduce him to Lazare. In no time, the two of them are eagerly discussing the progress on Lazare's mine... they seem to be getting along swimmingly. It occurs to me that pairing Tamklar's expertise and dwarven sensibility with Lazare's business sense might create some SERIOUS problems for Balabar Smenk, and I smile inwardly. At any rate, Lazare insists that Tamklar and his family lodge with him and enjoy his hospitality, so I eventually make my exit...

The next day, we head off to the observatory to deal with the undead menace. On the road near the observatory, we find 3 ghouls stuffing a body down a well! Hezzrak shrieks loudly, waring them of our approach (gee, thanks). We exterminate them with extreme prejudice and collapse the well where they came from, since it appears the residents of the nearby farmhouse will no longer be needing it... During the battle, Haroldur acquires a zombie aid to replace One-Eye, who bravely (and mindlessly) sacrificed himself for the greater good in the battle with Snapper, the skeletal dragon. We figure collapsing the well counts as "burial", so we say some rites and move on.

We proceed to the observatory and find it is indeed infested with zombies. As the battle is joined, Nineve receives a vision of the Brass Dwarf, and is immune to paralysis for this encounter! Overconfident, Nineve charges past the zombies and into a ghast ambush! Inexplicably, Sarek runs after her, begging her not to kill it! Soon, the rest of us are surrounded by zombies. Just as we're getting stuck in, a wrackspawn emerges from the top of the observatory, joining the fray. The undead remains of a person who died from torture, their sole aim is to inflict their dying agony upon the living! Fortunately, Sarek manages to gain mental control of the tormented creature. The battle is pitched and Nineve's horse is slain, but we eventually prevail, and an eerie silence falls on the area like a thick fog as we inter the bodies. Nineve insists on burying what's left of her horse... it's not much.

We rally and enter the observatory, where we are suddenly assaulted by a horrible, eldrich stench. Hezzrak scouts ahead for us and returns to inform us that the smell is caused by a bunch of maggots. He then begins extolling the epicurean virtues of maggots... Before we have time to retch at his description, the maggots surge down the hall, swarming over us and eating our sweet, tender flesh! Haroldur reacts quickly, unleashing waves of negative energy and vanquishing the swarm.

We press on and discover another maggot swarm emerging from a trap door. Haroldur again detonates the swarm with waves of negative energy.

The trapdoor leads down to a stone basement. Shelves of recently used, grimy, rusty surgical equipment line the walls. Groans and shrieks emanate from behind barred wooden doors to the wretched cells that line the chamber. Suddenly, a Necrosis Carnax, a hideous amalgam of flesh and iron bands lurches towards us from an operating table as we approach. A vision of the Survivor appears to me at the beginning of the fight, and I feel my fortitude enhanced! The Necrosis Carnax emits a wail of despair, and is joined by zombies from the cells deeper in the basement as we dive into combat. I leap onto a table and lay about with my new +1 shortsword, Anir, Hand of Dusk. Soon, I am surrounded by the zombie horde. Sarek wrests mental control of a zombie just as another wrackspawn erupts from a cell and into the fight. We narrowly prevail, and afterwards, we make the rather uncharacteristic decision to retreat back to town for a wand of healing, as we're all quite worse for the wear.

While we're shopping, Tares runs into us and inquires about our expedition. He chats nervously with us and I glare at him for making small talk while I'm picking up dropped pieces of my liver. At last we acquire the wand, heal up, and head back out to the observatory.

In one of the basement's cells, we find a badly mutilated but still living captive. We heal it a little, but despite our efforts it is still unable to communicate. I ask Hezzrak to telepathically communicate with it to determine who committed such atrocities. However, the captive's mind is completely shattered from the torments. Hezzrak begs us to let him keep it as a pet, and that's enough to convince me - I promptly coup de grace the captive, putting it out of its misery.

Further investigation of the cells reveals a hidden door, thanks to my superior elf senses. We go inside and discover an entirely new horrible, disgusting odor. This day has been an olfactory tour-de-force, it seems. The room is filled with an acidic-smelling, slightly volatile, probably flammable vapor. 3 acid zombies, like the ones Filge the narcissistic necromancer kept as "pets", guard the chamber. As we're taking in the scene, the vaporous form of a hundred shifiting faces coalesces and addresses us - a quell. It seems to have mistaken us for its apprentice. When he realizes that we're not the Wee Jasians he's looking for, insults are exchanged and the battle is swiftly joined.

The quell takes a shine to Sarek, and assaults his mind with dark whisperings, dazing him. Simultaneously, Sarek receives a vision of the Sickness, and feels suddenly stronger and more healthy...

The quell's undying hatred for all things divine severs Haroldur's connection to Wee Jas! The fight is dire, and the quell seems to focus on the cleric. It takes him down and starts eating his brain, but Sarek's wand of magic missiles and Nineve's might finally take it down. Just then, we notice Hezzrak has an evil gleam in his eye, and his finger glowing with a pent-up Scorching Ray.... We leap from the chamber just in time to avoid obliteration as fire is introduced to the volatile vapor with explosive results. The chamber blows up behind us. In the settling dust, we hear the tower creaking unstably, so we beat a hasty retreat outside as the observatory collapses around us.

Just outside the observatory, on what I'd previously dubbed the "Zombie Lawn", Tares the acolyte confronts us, accompanied by 3 warriors. He explains that he can't let us live now that we have destroyed the fountain of knowledge from which he so greedily drank. Steel is drawn, and the battle is joined.

Hezzrak makes a Suggestion to one of the guards that he dance until he can't dance anymore... the deadly cha-cha begins. The bard-guard provides his own accompaniment, singing the greatest dance hits of all time - a strange yet amusing aural backdrop for the present circumstances.

Haroldur receives a vision of the Teamster and feels charged up and ready to go. Just as we're getting our groove on, a rogue emerges from the trees and attacks Nineve! I declare a rogue fight, and run over to show her how it's really done.

This fight is a rollicking good time, and we eventually beat Tares into submission. We capture him and will take him to be prosecuted at the Ruby Temple in the capitol for his illegal, unsanctioned practice of necromancy. (Also: insubordination, assaulting a superior officer of the church, and general sniveling.) The singing, dancing warrior surrenders to us, swearing off fighting forever as he explains that he suddenly feels a calling to be a bard. We let him go - after all, he was pretty good...

We clean up, interring the bodies and saying the rites. Even though we treat the collapsed observatory as a mass grave, the ground is still littered with fresh burial sites when we are finally finished.

Sarek sends an update to the Cabal:

Tares was under control of a quell, practicing unsanctioned necromancy.
We have him captured, a little worse for wear.
Please advise.

They reply:

Will send Legionnaires with your supplies to escort him to the Cabal for trial.
Good Work.

We return to town victorious, and stop in to see what Lazare has turned up. He says it was a bit hard to find, but the Whispering Cairn is the site of a very old burial tomb from before the Age of the Imperium, and it has been thoroughly looted. Always prepared, he provides us with a map before we can even ask. Uncharacteristically, Lazare is unfriendly towards Hezzrak and refuses to play chess with him. Hezzrak gets really irritated, but they seem to have some sort of wizard stare-off, and the imp backs down and leaves in a huff. I'm intrigued and want to ask Lazare what that little scene was all about, but I decide against bringing it up.

We return to the Convent to explain to Yril and Aodra about Tares - they're understandably shocked. Upon examining Tares's things, we dicover the rest of Filge's missing notes, along with Tares's progress in that vein. Apparently, both were "learning" from the quell, with Tares picking up where Filge left off.

3 days later, Diamond Lake is abuzz as the Legionnaires arrive to deliver our goods and take Tares into custody. We also hand over the notes and other evidence we found among Tares's things. We receive:

4 grey and red Cloaks of Protection +1
a Heward's Handy Haversack
2 scrolls of sending
8 potions of CMW
2 new changes of clothes (each)
20 MW crossbow bolts
20 MW arrows

After the Legionnaires depart and things settle down, we prepare to head off to the Whispering Cairn. Zolara again appears and offers us another reading:

The Choosing:
Ashe - The Hidden Truth
Sarek - The Snakebite
Haroldur - The Wanderer
Nineve - The Rakshasa

The Spread:

The Betrayal ------------The Mute Hag ---- -The Queen Mother
The Hidden Truth -------The Bear -----------The Uprising
The Inquisitor-----------The Rakshasa ------The Lost


Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Episode 5: 5/3/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-2
Haroldur, human cleric/3
Nineve Floret, human knight/3
Sarek, human wizard/3

After the battle, the bones of the skeletal guardians are sucked up through the metal gate at the end of the room, like iron filings. I ask Hezzrak where the treasure is, and he says it's upstairs, where the bones went. Downstairs is apparently water. As I'm picking the lock to the metal gate, Hezzrak explains his past. He was a wizard's familiar, once, and these ruins were the wizard's tower. One of the wizard's experiments went wrong, causing a huge earthquake that killed him and sealed Hezzrak in the tower. Being immortal, he was stuck here for about 300 years with no company save the guardians, until the goblins came along. Communicating telepathically, he brokered a deal with them, whereby he'd serve the goblin leader for one year if they would tunnel him out. Since his rescue, the goblin leader had been trying to make him her familiar, without success. Hezzrak is eternally grateful for relieving him of his contract with the goblins. I ask him if he is interested in becoming someone else's familiar, and he launches into a foul-mouthed tirade about how he'll NEVER be anyone's familiar ever again.... It seems to be a touchy subject with him...

We continue on up the stairs and come to a room with a bridge over water. At the end of the bridge, the skeletal guardian's bones are reforming into a single bizzare, skeletal monster, the likes of which we've never seen. Nineve charges forward (of course) and the bridge crumbles underneath her. She doesn't react in time, and is plunged into the water and buried underneath an avalanche of rubble. From there, everyone moves forward cautiously, except for me. I leap gracefully over the chasm, throwing in a few flips for good measure. Hezzrak flies over and oogles the monster while I nimbly dodge a spray of bone shards it flings in my direction. With my hands full and the rest of the party held up by the bridge obstacle, I ask Hezzrak if he'd mind flying behind the monster and trying to actually help... He flies onto one of the monstrosity's heads and covers the eye sockets, but it doesn't appear to notice. I hack at the monster a few times, but it doesn't seem to be doing much. Nineve finally climbs back up out of the water and jumps the gap, but the monster slams into her and knocks her off the ledge and back into the water! The monster slams into me, too, but I manage to cling to the edge of the bridge and maneuver around to the far side of the monster, just as Nineve and One-Eye scrabble up the rubble and join the fray. Nineve and One-Eye get a face full of bone shards as I hack the monster in the back, Hezzrak clinging to one of it's skulls all the while. Haroldur and Sarek wisely stay on the other side of the collapsed bridge and pepper the monster with spells, occasionally yelling advice. At length, Nineve finishes the monster off with a vial of holy water.

With that epic battle behind us, we take stock and continue on. The next room has been mostly caved in. I squeeze past the rubble blocking the entrance to scout ahead while the rest of the group starts clearing a larger path. As I step into the room, I notice a pool in the center. I approach it, and a large skeletal dragon erupts from the pool in a fountain of water. I notice the dragon is definitely worse for the wear - it's missing an arm and it's tail, but I'm sufficiently taken aback that I turn around and scramble back through the crack. Hezzrak mutters something about "Snapper" - he'd forgotten about him... I help the others clear the rubble, and Haroldur sends One-Eye in. Nineve is close behind. Snapper unleashes its full fury on Nineve and One-Eye, and then I (reluctantly) run in to help. It's a rough and brutal fight in which Nineve goes down, but we narrowly prevail. After the climactic battle, we elect to rest, despite Hezzrak's insistence that we continue to "entertain" him....

After resting, we find Hezzrak's promised loot:
4 everburning torches
black journal of historical interest
scroll (A) Resist Energy
set of granite dice (25gp)
scroll (A) Identify
bronze spectacles (10 gp)
potion - Protection from Good
scroll (A) Invisibility
wand - Detect Magic
lg. zircon paperweight (70 gp)
broad brimmed velvet hat (50 gp)
Dust of Disappearance
scroll (A) Baleful Transposition
green dragonhide gloves (300 gp)
Belt of Healing
embroidered linen blanket (10 gp)
obsidian chips (20 gp)
MW breastplate
gold bracelet (80 gp)
MW leather armor
MW lt. steel shield
marble relieve of dwarf wrestlers (gay! 100 gp)
lg. golden pearl (200 gp)
Soul Void Orb
really ugly earrings (50 gp)
mahogany bust of a scholar (75 gp)
scroll (A) Sending
potion - CSW
carved bone and ivory statuette (100 gp)
mithril circlet engraved with Elvish poetry (350 gp)
Audra crystal
jade cameo pendant (250 gp)
potion - Fly

We divide all the loot we've accumulated and we each get 6 pp, 646 gp, and 1830 sp... if we want it.

Brolan encourages us to move on to the cavern with the confiscated notes. We leave Hezzrak's keep and move through the goblin warrens, avoiding wandering patrols. At length, we come to a huge cavern. We're on a cliff about 25 feet above the main cavern floor. Below, hundreds of goblins are tending an incredibly huge, unbelievably massive yellow musk creeper. 3 goblin guards stand up on our cliff, blocking our path to the next cavern. We decide stealth is our only option, and try to take them out as quietly as possible. Our plan almost fails, as my companions are not exactly the sniping sort, but we manage to eliminate the goblin guards without alerting the rest of the horde.

We continue on to a precarious log bridge, and Haroldur nearly plummets to his certain doom, but somehow regains his balance and manages to continue the clifftop escape. Next, we come to a 15 foot cliff. I climb up and lower a rope for the party. Everyone makes it up fine except for Haroldur, who finally manages it after several false starts. At the top of the cliff, an ogre zombie is waiting for us, just around the corner. We get stuck in and are surprised to hear the sounds of shrieking goblin-imp combat in the clearing ahead. It would seem Hezzrak is "helping"... We hack through the zombie and move on to the goblins Hezzrak has started for us. The last goblin surrenders, but Hezzrak ices him, cackling evilly.

Brolan explains that these caves contain Alastor's notes, and on closer inspection, we notice the area is littered with the debris of ages. Everything that could have conceivably been carried off in a thousand goblin raids clutters these caverns in haphazard stacks. However, the sounds of our recent combat have undoubtedly drawn some attention, so we should hurry and try to find those notes as quickly as possible. Hezzrak, Sarak and I search while Nineve and Haroldur keep watch. We find:

Alastor's notes (Lucky!)
wand of Magic Missile
wand of Resurgence
troll gut rope
deck of interesting looking cards
scroll (A) Bull's Strength
potion - Bear's Endurance
+1 shortsword
vial of silversheen

Hezzrak finds the silversheen and cackles with glee. The goblins finally hear us and begin to give chase. The rest of the party begins their escape, but Hezzrak and I stay behind for one last loot grab. I find a jewel-hilted longsword (+1 mithral Elvencraft) and Hezzrak grabs a Dwarven beer stein (an Everfull Mug).

We join the chase just in front of the massive goblin horde. I sprint ahead, soon outpacing the heavily armored cleric and knight, traipsing gingerly across rope bridges and scrambling up rocky cliffs like they're not there. I emerge first from the caverns, to find Tamklar and his team of dwarves preparing to collapse the mine. I explain that all the goblins ever born in a 500 mile radius are right on our heels. Also, we found the yellow musk creeper god, and I think we made it angry...

Tamklar explains taht I can help them collapse the caverns more quickly, so I set to it. Sarek comes dashing out of the caverns a moment later, with his robes hiked up around his knobbly wizard-knees. A score of goblins is right on his tail. Hezzrak pops into existence and casts Suggestion on the first goblin to appear, causing it to dance. Then Sarek webs the passage he'd just emerged from, trapping the first of the goblin menace. More goblins pour into the side passages, and Sarek draws a scroll and Lightning Bolts a line of them. Nineve comes up behind a band of goblins, with more on her heels. Just then, the dwarves collapse the caves and boulders start falling all around us. Haroldur runs out just in time, and we all rush out, blinking into the sunlight, as the thundering crash of the mountain collapsing onto the goblin horde rings in our ears.

Back in Kolbenberg, we're local heroes. We rest up and heal our wounds and assess the goblin treasure we made off with. Also, I provide care to Tamklar's wife - I think I can help her get through the worst of the Red Ache now, though her condition has deteriorated since I saw her last. Brolan, Sarek and I pour through Alastor's jumbled, dirty notes and manage to determine that he was on the trail of Ulavant (which we knew) and was headed to a plave called the Whispering Cairn (which we didn't). Sarek and I don't know where the Whispering Carin is, but we've heard of the Cairn Hills outside of Diamond Lake - it might be a good place to start our search.

Sarek sends the Cabal an update:
"Following Ulevant to Cairn Hills.
Need info on Whispering Carin.
Request additional material support.
Kolbenberg is sacked, in desperate need of supplies, guards, priests, rebuilding."

They reply:
"We cannot offer aid to Kolbenberg.
They must live or die on their own.
Ask a local about Whipering Cairn.
What support is required? >2000gp."

Wise of them to put a gp limit on that, with Haroldur around....

As we are investigating the deck of cards we found, a woman appears to us and introduces herself as Zolara. She was once a powerful fate-spinner, and has bound herself to her Harrow cards, that she may continue to use her influence even in death. She has fortold our coming and has been waiting for us for many years. She explains that as long as she travels with us, she can foreshadow events and subtly manipulate our futures.

"Allow me to demonstrate", she says, and she does a Harrow reading.

The Choosing:
Ashe - The Survivor
Sarek - The Sickness
Haroldur - The Teamster
Nineve - The Brass Dwarf

The Spread:

The Waxworks ------The Trumpet ---- The Cricket
The Lost ------------The Fiend ---------The Betrayal
The Hidden Truth ---The Crows --------The Eclipse


*The Harrow deck is also from Paizo's Pathfinder stuff. We're trying it out as a storytelling mechanic - hopefully it'll be cool.*

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,