The North Journey - A Greyhawk Campaign

White Plume Mountain, Part IV
Finishing the Recovery

The Font and Arrow are recovered.

Well, well, all but one made it across, and are heading for the vampire’s lair; they’ll need the key and it’s in the Cube! Ha ha – oh, drat, the shorty seems to have noticed it and…they’re burning it. When all’s said and done it wasn’t that tough, perhaps.

They took their time getting through the door, couldn’t seem to figure out what all the little holes were for. Very cautious, this group, they don’t want to get too near the coffin. Doesn’t matter, Ctenmiir has his task to do, and he’ll get them wherever they stand! Lads and lasses, grumblers all, meet Ctenmiir, who will have your soul – Ctenmiir is rather chatty today. Blast your undead shell, vampire, get on with it! At last, he’s charmed Shorty, let’s see some blooZAAAAPPPPP!

THAT was unexpected – the unpleasant savage hurled his javelin and not only did it turn into a lightning bolt, unfortunately striking Ctenmiir, but it’s stroke caught the shorty, half-elf, and the savage himself in it’s wake! Oh, come on Meat Tin, don’t do Ctenmiir in – damn interloper! The Font is now theirs. Looks like one challenge to go…

Back across, after stuffing the Font in their magic bag, and disagreements arise – could they be getting worn? Yes, some insisted on resting and recovering though they weren’t badly hurt, and some of the gargoyles came along to put them to the test for that! But this group is strong with their swords, I’ll grant, so a couple stonewings weren’t much trouble. On they press, to the Kelpie’s lair!

The invaders were prepared for the Kelpies, and made it past without charm. Get it – without charm? Those Kelpies really are so weak as to be useless, must replace them with some electric eels or something…

Interesting. Confronted with the three flood doors, those fools must be ignorant of their purpose, for they’ve spiked the doors all open! Then they go down the side passage anyway? They must want to meet Burket and Snarla.

They’ve reached the spinning tube; they’re examining it; so cautious, they are, they don’t dare enter. Instead, they set it afire – and nearly get hit by a couple arrows… looks as if they won’t even attempt it unless the spinning is stopped, so the savage and Meat Tin are running back, through the kelpie’s lair, to get an iron pole from the turnstile they partially dismantled.

Heh, heh, the poles are gone, so they’ll have to chisel another out. And of course the commotion will bring a couple undead pets to pester them…

Well, well, Meat Tin has stopped the spinning tube by jamming the post in. On you go, the lot of you, to Snarla’s lair. The door is locked, barred, impassable. Once they break in and examine, another door in the far wall opens and the room gets Webbed – ah, Burket hurls a torch to set them all on fire!

That was a quick battle, and on they go to loot the room. Not much, is there? This group seems so disappointed. There’s no where left to go but through the flood doors to the cave of flesh.

Shorty wants to set the “cave” on fire, but the others are stopping him – it’s a bad idea… A lone chest in the center of the bubble-cave is drawing their attention – and suspicion. They think they see something swirling around the chest, but they’re not sure; well, Meat Tin has decided to venture forth and examine the chest.

It’s full of golden arrows! Don’t know which one to pick, do you? Ahhh, the old “grab’em all and run” – well, running back, you see you’ve got company, and all those arrows just leapt from your arms and are attacking you! Boy, those little guys – remind me of leprechauns – sure move blindingly fast, don’t they? Oho, the skinny mage cast a web and trapped everyone in it, almost. A couple of the interlopers are able to wriggle about, cutting out their companions and slaying the quick little pixies.

Well, now that their opposition is dead, they’ve decided to leave our little funhouse, taking the Font and Arrow with them. Mayhaps it was too easy…


The group returned to Hardby with the Font of Bacchus and the Arrow of Apollo, then gathered their wagon from the Constabulary and headed back to Niole-dra. Arriving at their destination after an uneventful journey (the best kind), they proceeded to divvy spoils, sell off the ancient manuscripts found in the Library of Pazar, upgrade their armor, train, and bought an empty shoppe and warehouse. Paddy and Rebamac trained and leveled up, while Darmok and Chees were inducted provisionally into the Knights of the Law.

Here, the campaign takes a break for several months, at least, while we switch DM’ing roles so we can roll-up new characters to adventure under the watchful eyes of DM Bob.

View
White Plume Mountain, Part III
Slow Going

Slow Going

The interlopers rested until the water all drained, then went to the south door after taking the jewelry in the safe. Muddy-water filled room, and two mounds they can see. They check with their pole; still not sure it’s safe, I guess. They’re dragging a water-lion carcass to the door and tossing it in. Savage hurls his spear at one of the mounds – nothing. Get along, all of you! No, still suspicious, and after another toss of the carcass they think they see something…and it sees them! It shambles after them as they flee back to the ziggurat, but turns and goes back to it’s muck – noone fallen yet from it’s deadly stare. They decide to follow it back and pepper it with missiles, magical and non, and though it tries to kill several, they survive the shivery, empty eyes.

Now the Savage is examining the other mound, and finds it hollow and a trapdoor on top – the little one is looking for traps and then goes in. At last they’ve recovered the Mirror of Diana and the chest with bags, including the magic bag.

At this point the party returned to Hardby with the first of the stolen sacred objects, and Paddy was permitted to sit in on the interrogation of the captured dwarf, Vlandril, whom they had previously arrested in the Axewood. Under the duress of a Truth spell they learn about his limited role in the ’Plume and a name, Balo, some sort of troubador or jester that he works for and arranged for him to be sprung from the Niole-Dra prison. With two more items yet to recover, the group went back into White Plume Mountain.

I see our friends have returned, and are choosing the east passage. Set fire to one of the slimes. They’re going for the south door; no, some decided against and it’s north they head to the jungle room. As the halfling prods the soil and vegetation with his pole the vine-beast snatches it from him and tosses it away. Good riddance! Wait – no, damn them and their flaming oil! Well, it’ll give them a good fight before they hack it to pieces. Poor vine-beast.

Of course, they recover the pole, and proceed up the steps to the turnstile. The elf-woman goes through, to the rest’s objections, and they’re going to chisel the iron bars out of the stone. All that hammering might attract some of the pets…or not. Are they all sleeping – or feeding? Anyway, they’re pressing on to the geyser cave.

This will be a grand test! Will any die in the boiling mud? They see their goal, the platform at the other end, with nine hanging wood disks to cross on and the two geysers to burn them. Fun, fun, fun! The meat-tin is going first, pulling a rope through the chains. Shorty is trying his luck after Meat-tin staked the rope at the other end. Neither slipped, though the geysers burned the halfling. The human bowman is going to cross – he slips! But with a rope tied to him, he doesn’t fall in, as the rest stand outside the door to avoid the splashing boiling mud. Here goes the Savage, and he too succeeds.

The rest are debating; they seem to have come up with a plan. The Priestess casts a spell on the skinny mage, and then she climbs into the magic bag. So does the dwarf and the elf-woman. Mage is scrambling quite nimbly across the chains and rope – very fast, almost spider-like. It appears the woodman will stay behind, and good luck to him!

Here ended play for the night. It took a long time for the party to finally cross the geyser cave, both in game-time and real-time, as Exex counted out the minutes between eruptions and lots of rolls were made crossing the disks.

View
White Plume Mountain, Part II
What's smaller than a dwarf and smells like chicken?

Further Into The Plume…

So the intruders apparently picked off the rest of the ghouls; wasn’t much of a challenge, anyway. And when the meat tin finished bringing the rest up the hall, and their armor cooled down, the went up the steps, further into the game.

They’re in the next room, looking at the pit, and the half-pint decides to jump it – after the savage insists on tying a rope to him. Well, what a surprise, he finds himself floating in midair while the rest just saw him disappear with his wooden pole. After they pull him back, and they’ve seen through the illusion, they still need to get across. It’s an ingenious idea, using the pole to propel forward, but they still have to get through the other door; ahh, now the little sneak realizes he can’t pick the lock. See the chest way down there?

Well, they figured out how to get across by driving spikes into the wall and tying ropes to it, but how do they get to the chest 35’ below? An arrow’s not strong enough, so the savage is tying a rope to his spear and hurling it into the chest – and it sticks. The skinny elf-girl shimmies down the rope, picks the lock and the lid swings open! The key falls out, landing right in the center of the room, leaving her dangling by the lid – all she has to do is let go and she’ll land safely right in the middle…

Heading north leads to the potion room – large, empty, with foot-high door at the other end, a rack of twelve potions, and a riddle tacked to the rack.

The Riddle: “You must drink me to get the key to where the moon be. But ware if ye should fail to see the proper me; for one two three, with awful glee I’ll poison thee!”

Elf and Meat Tin are examining the note as the hairy dwarf touches his tongue to taste each potion in turn; hah, he stammers after one, blows bubbles after another, and – ooh, the leprechaun pee! Ah, looks like Shorty decided to just start sipping them after discussing the riddle with the others; he thinks his halfling stoutness will save him. But he got lucky and found the right one and began shrinking. The elf drank, too, and went with him through the little door.

Now they’ve come running back out – must have found a surprise at the end, huh? They’re yelling taunts through the door, something about dwarven women and their beards, and now the skinny wizard is down, casting a spell…whoa, he sent a fireball through the door! They’ve heard nothing, so now the shrunken pair are heading back to check things out. They’re back…

Well, the priestesses and dwarf in the back by the door just got a surprise hammer attack from the badly-burnt gnomes and dwarf – the gnomes are running, but the dwarf is swinging his hammer in a rage! Meat Tin and the Savage are chasing the gnomes down – and the Savage comes back and tackles the dwarf. Oh, well, fun’s over…

Seems they know this dwarf, Vlandril, from before. Tie him up and make him lead you, sure, good plan. Straight to the south door, which they can’t open. Hmmm, thief picking the lock, Knock, Dispel Magic, nothing’s working; the Elf-lady has noticed the 8-arrowed symbol on Vlandril’s shield matches the magical inscription on the door. When it’s finally pressed to the door, it swings open! Took them long enough.

Now they’re in the ziggurat room, standing in a foot of water; their light doesn’t even reach to other side or floor, but they’re sure something’s there. Of course, the pets think it’s feeding time and here they come, eels first – how shocking! The skinny mage got zapped good and fell in, the Meat Tin is jumping in after him! And he jumps right back out, setting the mage in the doorway as the rest start attacking the eels.

With the eels dead, the Savage takes a necklace from the Elf and climbs into the water, smashing the glass wall and letting the water flood the scorpions on the next level down. Good thing they tied a rope to him or he’d have been washed away. This group uses their brains, hmmm. Now they’re doing the same to the flooded scorpion glass, and it’s flooding the next level down and over that to the bottom where the Manticores are. The sea-lions are trying to attack the Savage as he attempts to break this glass – he’s decided to just jump in and fight the last sea-lion.

That’s done, now that glass is broken, too, and the Manticores have all drowned. Poor things.

View
Book Four - Hardby and Beyond
Do the 'Plume, Dude!

Hardby

The Bright Desert was left behind, without incident, and the Abbor-Alz crossed. The party retraced their wagon-tracks back to the wooden palisades of Tradetown, the eastern part of Hardby. Here incoming caravans, carts and wagons are inspected, and theirs was no exception. The guardsman summoned the appraiser Joseph, who checked through the chests, coffers and bags full of statues, jewelry and artifacts before announcing the duty on this haul. “Well, this would normally be officially reported as worth about sixty-thousand gold, so if that’s what I put down then the duty will be three-thousand gold…”

Believing the take to be worth more than that, RebaMac agreed to that duty, which raised the appraiser’s eyebrow; he wouldn’t be getting a bribe from this group, apparently. He did inquire about four incense cubes in a coffer with other loot, and then advised them that the Dionysan Grove nearby might be interested if the incense was for sale. Joseph also pointed them towards Mystic’s Way, East End and the North End to sell off magic items and the most valuable artifacts.

That done, they proceeded to sell the Cubes at the Dionysan Grove, the Sanctuary of Delleb, the Temple of Uraan and the Parthenon of Zeus, and sold other magic items, all with the benefit of RebaMac’s Helm of Influence, acquired in Pazar’s Palace dungeon. Now laden with the coinage to pay for training, the party members achieved new ranks and titles over the course of two weeks. On what was to be their last day in Hardby, getting ready to pack up for a trip west to Niole-Dra, Hardby constables and Marines surrounded the characters and attempted to arrest them on theft charges.

It seems several sacred artifacts had disappeared from the Sanctuary of Delleb (an Arrow of Apollo – they are synonymous in this campaign), the Dionysan Grove (a Font of Bacchus), and from the Artemisia, the Gynarch’s preferred temple (a Mirror of Diana); additionally, the party was known to have approached antiquities merchants in the North End in order to sell artifacts. The characters protested vociferously and nearly came to blows with the city officers, but they went to the Constabulary to discuss the accusations in detail.

In the midst of this discussion an investigator approached the Chief Constable with new information – three torn pages of a riddle referencing the missing items and daring officials to send someone to retrieve them. The riddle mentioned a “feathered cone”, which was assumed to mean a nearby volcanic mound known as White Plume Mountain, and featured extra scribbles on it – a BA, a 10 and stick-figure drawing of a dancer in a three-pointed hat. An agreement was reached whereby the party would retrieve the items, keeping any loot found for themselves, and all the party’s current wealth would be safeguarded in the Constabulary until their return, and party members would be treated as citizens of Hardby in all future visits, freeing them of entry fees and securing reduced duties when trading.

White Plume Mountain

The trapdoor has been forced open; someone must have dug through that muck to find it. I hear many feet on the stairs, in spite of the pulsing of the mountain’s heart; and they splash through the slimy water, though they attempt silence.

The guardian has taken down the wall – how long was that stupid riddle supposed to hold them back? I see nine, armored and armed and with magic – there is some power there.

The elf-woman has found the hatch, but she’s much too weak. Oh, clever, the tall wild-man jumped into the water-pit and is turning it – the hatch is open and the water’s begun draining. So much for that fun… And up to the pool-room they go, that short fellow in front probing with a long pole – I think he’s overcompensating a bit. The pretties will have their fun with these men!

Or maybe not. Their arrows hurt her bad, but her sister’s unscathed. But the group is turning back already…they’re going west, proceeding cautiously as always. And at the corner, they stop when they see the orb approach. Sir Pole tried to attack with his little blade, but missed; and now they’re letting the orb go past. Not sure what to expect, this group – but now for a real challenge, the copper hall!

The meat tin is examining the copper plates on the walls, and the skinny man near the back is shining a bullseye lantern down the hall – can’t see the end, heh heh. A couple of them attempt the hallway and turn back, as things are heating up…wait, Meat Tin’s just striding the whole way, glowing sword drawn, and checks out the room at the end! How did he make it without burning up? He’s going back, and now the others are shedding metal items in turns, handing them to him and travelling down the hall with him. As he heads back for another go someone up here waits for their metal gear to cool off. Once I see two more at this end…

Attack now, ye ghoulish dead! Ah, holy symbol, but not holy enough. Four are turned and slink off into the shadows, but the others fight. The undead fall, not to rise again.

Play ended here for the night.

View
Book Three, Chapter Three - Pazar, Conclusion Part 2
A desert loot-fest

Toughest Foe – a concealed bat-like summoned creature

Most Dangerous Place – a false treasury, full of mechanical and magical traps

Nearly Departed – Exex, from an exploding tome

The party leaves the dungeon to regain spells; they want to have Dispel Magics available to bypass magical traps on the two unopened doors in the long hall. Their first attempt is the north, middle, door, which they succeed in opening to find a second door 10 feet in, also locked and Wizard Locked. When they finally get through this door a wide treasure room presents itself, full of chests and coffers, a table with fine servingware of precious metals, and numerous gilded statues. A crocodile-motif sarcophagus, tall dark winged statue, bronze gong and several granite pedestals are also placed in the chamber.

Paddy decided to have Exex examine the loot, without touching anything; some coffers and jars had been opened and appeared empty. When Exex reached a locked chest by the sarcophagus and Paddy had her open it, it appeared full of deteriorating exotic hides. Once she reached in and moved the hides around, finding a salvageable crocodile skin, the tall dark statue moved and leaped across the room, attacking her. It’s illusion dispelled, everyone could see this guardian was another of the large, bat-like creatures they had fought out on the sands in front of the Tomb.

Unfortunately, it’s attack rolls sucked and when the party won initiative on the first round after this surprise she slipped away as the fighters put the beat-down on it and Bobill cast Magic Missiles at it. It then disappeared and reappeared just a moment later behind Paddy, getting several attacks in at an advantage before the party finally did it in the following round. Poor guy.

Our tireless crew is now free to explore the room, and finds coffers with ingots of precious metals, an exquisitely-crafted birdcage complete with singing mechanical bird, jars of spices and incense, gilded bronze statues, a metronome, and a magical flying scarab, among other treasures. Before hauling out the goods, the other door down the hall is to be explored.

Traps are found on this door and the room cautiously entered by Paddy and Exex; within a minute a loose flagstone, probably a trap trigger, is found in the middle of the floor. This room also contains numerous chests, urns, pots and coffers placed in front of three walls, but as the items are checked magical and mechanical traps are found, including a book which explodes in Exex’s face, nearly killing her. The chests and coffers that they open contain coins cleverly layered over rocks, or scraps of rusting metal, or nothing. The party spends about 20 minutes in the room before determining this chamber is a deadly diversion and then head back to the Treasury, which is soon emptied of anything deemed valuable. The wagon is just as quickly filled.

So ended play for the night, with an uneventful journey westward presumed. Not a one was sorry to leave the sandy wastes behind – though some wondered whether the Spring of Athis would still maintain it’s healing powers for them, should they ever return.

View
Book Three, Chapter Three - Pazar, Conclusion Part 1
Cleanup in Aisle Two!

Most Troublesome Foe – Giant Wasps

Most Effective Magic ItemCloak of Arachnidia or the Staff of Athanasus

Having completed their quest to destroy the evil Book of Eibon, and restored the Spring of Athis by lifting the curse on the ancient city of Pazar, healing party members was in order. Petrified, mortally-wounded, level-and-wisdom drained companions were immersed in the precious water and thereby restored to their natural health.

The party returned to the wagon to restock and choose a course of action. Rather than begin the return trek to civilization, some back-tracking and cleanup was decided upon, and camp was broken in preparation. The wagon and horses were moved to the south end of the hill, during which time our group had to dispatch a pair of giant tarantulas. The new camp was quckly set-up, and as the sun was on the rise they returned to the Tomb of Kings, making their way down to the throne room. As the gold bas-reliefs on throne and wall were removed, Paddy snuck out into the Royal Tomb where the battle with undead Athanasus was fought, visions of treasure dancing in his halfling head. Attempting to pry open the first ancient coffin Paddy was struck by a wave of pain, and, reconsidering his plan, he wisely elected to give up the effort and return with the rest of the party to the surface.

They next decided to explore a great, single-story building by the south slope; this was evidently a library, judging by the dried, cracked, disintegrating wooden shelves, papyrus, vellum, leather, and more detritus on shelves and floor. A few intact scrolls and boxes were discovered in the west portion. When Paddy and Rebamac ventured into the east side wasps as big as men attacked them, and they ran outside for help; but Rebamac was stung by a wasp, and within a few steps found herself paralyzed. Paddy dragged her back to the group as the giant insects hovered outside the doorway, daring them to re-enter. Some arrows and Magic Missiles brought the wasps down, but it was obvious that more were inside the library. Darmok, with his Boots, ran the paralyzed half-elf back to the Spring, Garath easily keeping pace with his barbarian stamina, and Rebamac was immersed again and freed of her paralysis. Upon returning to their friends, Bobill turned Invisible and, with Rebamac’s help using a bullseye lantern, found the wasps’ nest in the northeast corner. The human mage opened his Cloak and uttered a command word to cast a Web which covered the nest and caught most of the adult wasps within. The pair fled before they could be stung, rejoined the party, and Exex cast her Invisiblilty on Bobill, who then re-entered the library. The Invisible mage waited until the unwebbed wasps were in relatively close proximity to one another and then cast Stinking Cloud, which brought all four huge insects to the floor as fast as a giant can of RAID. At this point, everyone spread out around the disabled bugs and proceeded to push bookshelves onto them and shoot arrows into them until all were dead, and then the Web was lit afire, which burned quite nicely. Now able to explore the eastern half unhindered, the adventurers discovered some coins and trinkets amongst the dried-out husks of the wasps former prey, and a room in which more intact scrolls were stored.

The party returned to the wagon and rested, re-learning used spells, and trekked to the Palace, determined to find treasure they were sure still remained. Before they had gone too far, though, they ran into a half-dead bandit named Richard who informed them he had just escaped from the place, that the rest of his companions were dead. Looking to loot the place after spying and assuming it was now empty, they had found an entrance to a lower dungeon through a secret door, and discovered there were still black-garbed spellcasters and fighters down there. Our characters convinced him to lead them down there; but once they reached the half-open secret door in the cellar armory, he wouldn’t go any further without being near the back. Agreeing, the party proceeded down the steps and found three locked doors, behind which were cells and a torture chamber guarded by orcs; among the many cells two held dervishes and two contained ghouls. Past the doors the hallway became a long stairway down, and the hallway at the bottom was already torchlit and the floor covered with scattered sand.

Paddy moved silently down the hallway, and rolled to hide in shadows (though as I mentioned, the hall was torchlit…), and checked each of three bronze doors, two embellished with runes (and a magic sigil on one, which Chees’ Dispel Magic removed) and the other door with an intricate bas-relief pattern. Paddy continued up the hallway, now about 200’ from the party, to an archway, where he then discovered someone in chainmail had come up behind him – and two more fighters were coming out from the bas-relief doorway!

Paddy fought to extricate himself as the rest of the party moved into the hallway; after Darmok and Garath ran past the open doorway, more fighters appeared, and a group of black-robed spellcasters from the archway. One spellcaster uttered a phrase enchanting Garath, forcing Darmok to utilize his sword’s Dispel Magic on the charmed barbarian. Bobill used the Pharos’ staff to send a forked Lightning Bolt into the archway, instantly killing all but one, who fled back into the chamber beyond the arch. Garath chased him into the chamber and was met by a hail of Magic Missiles cast by another spellcaster in the south end of the room.

Meanwhile, Allynfred and Darmok had moved past the bas-relief door to engage a pair of chainmail-clad fighters, while Paddy and the other spellcasters – Chees, Rebamac, and Exex – remained in combat in the hallway. With the party thus divided and distracted, their forced “guide” slipped away unseen. Darmok and Allynfred eventually faced a huge man of rather ogrish appearance wielding a nasty morningstar, which managed a solid hit on Darmok’s battered plate armour. Darmok may need the services of an armourer when they return to civilization (good time to revisit a rule unusable in the desert: any character brought to 0 hp or lower in the course of combat can be assumed to have had their armour demolished, unless magical, necessitating repair or replacement). This half-ogre, the other humans, and orc cannon fodder with them were all vanquished and their bodies looted, turning up an empty flask and a full flask, plus a key, on the half-ogre. Then the door in the rear of this room was picked and opened; an armoury lay behind, where most everything succumbed to time save for a few special items. Hanging on one wall was a golden-vined shortbow sans bowstring, a pair of bracers laced to it, and a large clay urn on a table held a golden open-faced helm. In the dust behind a rack of weathered spears Darmok discovered three javelins, of brass with copper spirals and lightning-glyphs inscribed.

Moving on through the archway at the hall’s end the party entered the large lozenge-shaped chamber where Garath and Bobill had fought the spellcasters; it held two stone tables and a brazier with smoldering coals, one dead dervish upon a table. An archway at the south end led to a huge circular chamber fitted in black onyx, magical signs on the floor and more bodies scattered in the far side. Two antechambers at the north end of the lozenge chamber were vestrys, holding black robes and a black triangular tabernacle housing unfolded black and red cloths.

Play ended for the night here, with the party ready to test the two unopened bronze doors in the hallway.

View
Book Three, Chapter Three - The Tomb of Kings, Part Four
The Conclusion?

“We just slew the jackal-men and their strange hounds; now, do we explore the cave in the corner? There’s gold on the wall and throne we could try taking – but what of the cave? And the graffiti on the wall next to it – another jackal-headed man, but with the symbol of the gods – is that within the cave?

Darmok and Paddy are discussing our choices, and Rebamac wants to light the incense – she’s examining it, but the others are talking her out of using it. It seems ordinary, but what does this Ranger know of such priestly matters? Oh, they’ve decided we’re going west, leaving the cave for later.

Paddy’s sneaking into the room – with his sword’s light turned off, I can’t even see where he’s at, let alone hear him…wait…he’s just lit it up. And he’s running this way, yelling! Get the clerics to turn undead! Chees and Rebamac are at the archway, chanting, and Darmok’s moving up.. Here we go, me, Darmok, Garath, Paddy, and the clerics, into the chamber.

Everything’s black – onyx walls, black sandstone ceiling, black granite floor…by Cuthbert’s club, two giant black cobras! Only four of the skeletons are attacking, hurling javelins, but the snakes – it can’t seem to penetrate Darmok’s plate, but Garath just got bit! He’s cursing, I’ll try to get in there and kill it…

At last, with the snakes dead, our plan is to back out and head south. What’s that sound, clinking and rattling? Change of plans, form a horseshoe around the entrance, dodge those javelins and attack. We’ve funneled them so only a few can attack at a time, and we’re smashing them – those of us with maces, anyways. Bobill and Exex are still hanging back, just in case.

Of course, we’ll go back in the black room and look around. Black granite pedestals supporting coffers and urns in the west section, and in front of these coffins depicting animals – crocodiles, cats, baboons, and more. They’re called sarcophagi? No, we won’t touch them? To the south? Let’s press on, then. My wounds aren’t bothering me that badly, I can go on.

Galloping griffons, this place is huge! Can’t see the walls, ‘cept behind us. Again, Paddy and Exex are looking for traps – not sure what there could be, with all these sarcophagi around. They look very fancy, painted in blues and purples and gold, and they look very heavy, too – what’s that noise? Dragging feet…

The thieves are close to a riser with a reed boat on it, and someone’s just stepped from the shadows. That voice is awful – reminds me of a man’s dying gasps…‘Who dares to enter the crypt of kings? Who dares the curse of the gods themselves?’ I’m getting ready for a fight…Exex is trying to reason with him. He looks terrible, in moldy purple robes and wrapped in rags, a mummy I think, but he’s got a headdress on and carries a bronze staff. That’s a huge gem on it – aaagh!

He just struck the staff on the riser and made thunder – the thieves are running, I better get up there – there goes Darmok and Garath, too! Almost there, but what’s that at the sides? Odd-looking corpses, maybe, also in fancy garb and scrambling towards the spellcasters; glancing back, yes, and a couple of those jackal-men and their hounds! Better focus on this mummy first, though…I’ll help them out if the Paladin and barbarian can destroy him.

What’s he mumbling, that sinister speech of his – AAaaagghh the noise!” (bright light)


“Oh my gods, Trathonax is dead! So is Chees, I think! Mumbo Jumbo Levitaytus!

Whew – those dogs can’t reach me now, that was close. From up here, I can see much better… Darmok, Garath and Paddy are cutting down the mummy, I guess he’s the one who cursed this place. Exex just paralyzed the hound below me with her wand…one of those undead things and a jackal-man are attacking Rebamac – let me help her out….” (zzzappp!)

“I know I have one Missile spell left…Blast that thing, it’s casting more spells on Darmok, a variant of the Missile spell! If it sends another lightning bolt from that staff, more of us will fall! I wish I could do more! Last Missile, right at that horror….” (zzzappp!)

“They slew it! Thank the gods! I can see those other undead creatures attacking and weakening Paddy, Garath, and Rebamac. The one on Garath has one of those strange swords, and it looks like it’s glowing… Exex just tried to paralyze the last jackalman, on Darmok, but her aim erred – now she’s getting out her spell components . . . she’s disappeared.

What did Rebamac call them – wights? It’s hit her twice! She’s faltering, and I’ve no more spells. At last, Garath felled his and is rushing to her aid!

It appears Exex is killing the paralyzed hounds…and now the last wight has fallen, crumpling into a heap of rags. We’ve got to get the cleric and ranger healed!”


“I’m astonished those humans survived Athanasus’ lightning stroke – I’d have wagered against the ranger, at least. He received the full impact first. Now we are reduced two more. May Celene grant that we’ve seen the worst that wretched necropolis has to offer. The tallfellow and knight want to use my healing potions, so they don’t have to rest as long…silly short-lifers! No matter to me, I’m unscathed. Just let me study and regain my spells…

...So now it’s ‘off we go’, to see the ‘stonecutter’ – we know he’s more than that, but let’s amuse ourselves, why not?...

...He claims we killed the mummy’s body, but not it’s heart, and it’s heart is still in the heart of the hill. Hmmm, I should put that to music, someday, should I lift myself a lute. But those thoughts for another day, we are indeed to go back into that tomb, to explore the cave and hopefully put an end to this traipsing in the heat and earth. The knight – though he’s not been knighted yet – and his barbarian companion, the Tallfellow and the half-human, and of course Bobill, now carrying the Pharos’ staff. That’s a very nice staff…

Paddy to the right, me to the left, and not a thing to see with heat vision, since they’ve got their swords shining. There’s water to the north in this cave – that sure looked like a nice haul back in the throne room, all that gold on the wall and throne…maybe I should see if I can remove it…what was that? Snarling or growling, and it’s near – who else, the Tallfellow! Heavens! Grab my bow and get an arrow ready – that’s one massive beast! Looks like a two-headed black jackal, Garath and Paddy are holding it at bay…ah, good shot!

With that dead, we’re approaching a reddish glow in the south part of the cave – it’s a pot, on a rock, and it glows, like it’s hot, inside…that’s a nice ditty, could be another song, someday…arguing again about what to do, a beating heart is in the pot and they think the staff is involved. Why debate, someone should just do what they think is best. A decision at last? Bobill tried a Light spell from the staff, then used the staff to sear the heart with Lightning, but to faint effect, so now he’s trying the mummy’s spell with the staff to cast a huge thunderclap with lightning – ahh … my hearing’s coming back now, but it worked, the pot is destroyed and so too the heart.

Could our quest really be at it’s end? We report to the stonecutter again – no, though the Spring of Athis flows again, though weakly, we are tasked to do yet more. I immerse the evil tome in the freshly-spilt waters, but this only dispels some small protection from it; the stonecutter says we must take it to a creature in the west which may turn the book to stone, and the bearer with it. Then the petrified book is to be returned here, to finally be destroyed. It seems the others are trusting me to continue bearing this evil tome, so let’s be off…

After hours crossing the desert and finding this cave, we’re once again far below daylight in the accursed darkness. At least it’s cooler down here – nothing seems to be moving, though. They’ve just recited their Protection scroll, so as not to be affected by the monster’s magic and turned to stone – but I’m to go sword-to-claw with this beast, which they think a basilisk, in order to have it petrify this leather-and hide tome. Funny that sound, like wings beating, and…Ah, foul creature, beak and claw attack me! I hold out the book to hold it off! Ah - (everything stops)


Me, the knight, the half-elf and halfling remain – and that suspicious, skinny human mage. The elf-woman has just fallen to that bird-thing we killed. It turned her to stone, which I now carry. Is she still alive in there? I should be careful not to drop her. Would she crack apart if I did? Hmmm…No, better not, or Darmok will have words for me. He always knows better than I. He’’s been – what’s that word? Edu-cake-ed. I wonder if the priestess, and the ranger what’s-his-name, and that stout bearded fellow have been edu-cake-ed? I could go to the wagon and ask them. It’s good this elf-woman wasn’t my size, or she’d be a lot heavier. Darmok says to carry her all the way to the fountain-room in the Dome. The stonecutter will help us. I don’t see how – he seems puny and weak. He carves well, though…

He’s chiselling the book from her hands – amazing, he didn’t break so much as a finger off! He’s put the stone book down on the floor, and is going to smash it with his malle- by Tyr, I swear he just changed form for a moment! I thought he was golden and winged, and muscled like me! But still he looks like the stonecutter again?

He tells us the deed is done, we can place Exex in the fountain and she should be restored, and each of us, and the others, may also bathe in the fountain to be healed and cleansed. ‘Excuse me a moment,’ he says, and shuffles behind a pillar. Thor’s Hammer, the fountain proves true, Exex elf-woman is flesh again! Did I just hear flapping wings? I see nothing odd, but the stonecutter’s gone… I guess I’ll help our wounded companions up to here from the wagon.


So ends the night’s session; thanks to Trathonax, Bobill, Exex, and Garath, in order.

Total count for this adventure (so far):

4 levels drained;

3 brought to below 0 hp and incapacitated;

2 others brought to 1 hp and escaping to be healed;

1 petrified and incapacitated;

1 point Wisdom drained;

everyone restored to full health using the Spring of Athis.


View
Book Three, Chapter Three - The Tomb of Kings, Part Three
Boning up on golems...

Most Tenacious Enemy – the traps

The Bigger They Are… – Bone Golem, but didn’t fall too hard

The party, bruised, battered, yet victorious, returned to their camp, bringing the unconscious Allynfred with them, and spent the next day memorizing and casting healing spells, recovering and resting in preparation for what they hoped would be the final part of their quest to destroy the evil book. As the dwarf would need a week of rest to bring him back to fighting strength, he stayed behind to guard the camp and Trathonax the Ranger accompanied the party on the return trip to the Tomb of Kings.

Our intrepid adventurers entered through the Main Gallery and straight to the revolving passageway, newly-won second key in hand, and spent about thirty minutes figuring out the sequence to rotate the walls to reach the back passages that they figured were there. Once this puzzle was worked out and Exex helped determine no traps or monsters waited on the other side, Darmok and Garath checked further beyond, discovering a narrow winding side passage. Garath deciding to spike open the doors as they went served them well, for at the end was a room which began spewing gas when they entered and they ran like hell for safety. They finally found twin ramps, north and south, leading down into the heart of the hill. Everyone stepped into the rotating passageway and then proceeded down the north ramp.

At the end of the north ramp a large room, with double bronze doors awaited; the thieves failed their checks for traps, so the party decided to exercise caution and open the doors from a distance by tying a rope to the door’s pull ring. As everyone backed onto the ramp, Paddy, standing just at the entrance to the room, pulled the door open – revealing a blank stone wall, and at the same moment an iron grate fell to block the ramp, right where the halfling stood. He managed to dodge and was just slightly injured.

They fared better with the south ramp, which opened into a great processional corridor depicting scenes of the region’s past and it’s rulers. Stretching 300 feet northward, it finally narrowed and turned east, then south, bringing them to a four-way intersection. Just south of here was a pressure plate, undetected by the thieves, which released a huge stone block that nearly crushed Darmok, Garath, and Paddy (who was grazed enough to take damage).

They went east and fought skeletons. They went west and fought skeletons. They went south and fought skeletons – in a big room, a pair of double-doors at the end, and a huge bronze-and-bone statue that animated into a 9’ tall, four-armed hawk-skulled bone golem. Bobill’s Cloak of Arachnidia entrapped the skeletons on the east side, the clerics attempted to Turn Undead to the west side but only succeeded in turning four, and the fighters engaged the golem as Exex hit it with a Magic Missile. At one point Chees rolled a natural 20 with her Rod of Smiting and totally disintegrated a skeleton – another charge bites the dust. When the golem was destroyed and the free skeletons defeated, Bobill used one of the webbed skeletons for sling practice and rolled a natural 20, which knocked it’s skull off. They carefully opened the doors with a rope and were greeted with a wide passage continuing south.

Bone golem

The Bone Golem, armed with axes and sharpened, scapula-like blades

Down this south passage, at another intersection, our group was confronted with a compass rose painted and gold-leafed on the floor, filling the intersection. Paddy inspected it for traps and detected Glyphs of Warding hidden in the cardinal direction symbols, which seemed to indicate Day, Night, Death, and Life, according to the players. When Chees’ Dispel Magic failed to remove the Glyphs, Darmok invoked the power of his sword to effect their riddance, and the group continued east.

This short hall led to a chamber of pink and tan granite tile, featuring six braziers (one with unused incense) on short pillars, and a great ironwood throne covered in gold leaf with gold ornamental statuettes; a gold solar disk rose over the throne. More black, jackal-headed bronze-armored Minions and their hawk-headed hounds guarded this throne room; Paddy and Rebamac charged to the attack despite their compatriot’s pleas. Thus forced to join the fight, barbarian, paladin, ranger and cleric pick opponents. Though Bobill and Exex remain outside the room, two hounds rush them and attack; Bobill’s Ring of the Ram manages to ram his into a Minion and two other hounds, punching them into a corner. A Sleep spell then takes the three hounds out of the fight. As Garath and Darmok wear their minions down, a frightening new power is revealed – the Minions transform into giant black cobras and snap at the two warriors. When the battle is over, the snakes killed and sleeping dogs slain, the party is able to catch their breath and examine a huge fissure in the east hall near the throne. Black graffiti scrawled on the wall nearby depicts a black, jackal-headed man.

Play ended for the night here.

View
Book Three, Chapter Three - The Tomb of Kings, Part Two
battleus megalacticus

Toughest Foe – Neselandra, aka the b!tch

Most Tactically-useful Magic Item – Bobill’s Cloak of Arachnidia

Temporary Death – Allynfred the Dwarf

Best Invisible Opponent – Ildriss

The party explored a couple rooms down narrow side passages in the Tomb, one where Exex identified a false bronze door trapped to flatten people, another with a giant scorpion and secret, one-way door to a diamond-shaped chamber that was probably part of the rotating wall in the main passage. Unable to proceed further, the characters started to move into the south crypts when the sound of battle outside the complex caught their attention. Hiding in shadows, Exex and Paddy snuck separately to different exits and saw, in the desert sands near the south entrance, Dervishes beset by enemies. Everyone ran to the south entrance porch and proceeded to help the outnumbered nomads.

Rebamac and Exex turn Invisible as the rest of the party assess and prepare for battle. Invisible magic-users sneak up, Exex casts Sleep at the human contingent of fighters and black-robed-and-cowled figures; Bobill uses his Cloak of Arachnidia to Web the majority of the ghouls and ghasts. The rest of the party move across the 150’ distance as this occurs, taking fire from archers and javelineers before these enemies succumb to the Sleep spell.

Enemy spellcasters then hit back with Magic Missiles and a Sleep spell of their own as the rest of the adventurers engage, with Paddy falling asleep and Allynfred still on his way in his dwarven plate mail. At this point Rebamac lets blast with the Wand of Fireballs on the human contingent, which includes a 9’ high batlike/gargoyle-like creature between the arrayed forces. Chees, Rebamac and Garath take on the black-robed figures, Chees creating a Dust Devil that prevents spell casting from some of the enemy – though it also obscures Rebamac’s and Garath’s vision. Darmok uses his sword’s Dispel Magic power to reawaken Paddy, who commands his boar figurine to life. Exex fires her Wand of Paralyzation across the field at a blackrobe in the rear, but the ray fizzles away as it reaches its target.

This black-robed figure disappears, and a new enemy becomes apparent, a misty beast with three red-glowing “eyes” and wispy tentacles, which can disappear and reappear in different places with amazing speed (the party actually thought it was an illusion). At the same time, those ghasts and ghouls not trapped in the web turn on Bobill, Exex, Allynfred, Darmok and Paddy, and Bobill’s Ring of the Ram marks it’s first use battering away an undead pair about to snack on him. One of three surviving dervishes, all of which are caught in the Web, falls victim to a ghast.

Chees has to refocus her attention from her Dust Devil to the undead, Turning them and causing them all to flee. The great bat-beast is now attacking the northern group – Darmok, Allynfred, Paddy, and Bobill – as Garath and Rebamac attempt to finish off the blackrobes while at the same time fending off the invisble, misty attacker. Exex employs her Wand of Paralyzation against one and moves across the battlefield to dispatch two Sleep-affected humans. Another dervish is pulled free and rushes to fight the batbeast, and falls by its claws.

Some vocalizations are heard from the air nearby and suddenly Bobill, Allynfred, Darmok, Paddy and his boar find themselves surrounded by black tentacles writhing from the sand; Allynfred is entangled and cannot fight, taking damage from the constricting member, while the others break free but take damage in the process. Ghouls and ghasts are still trapped in the Web or have fled, effectively removing all the undead from the battle; opposing humans have all been killed or incapacitated save an invisible one, leaving the bat-beast and the aerial monster still fighting, when the disembodied voice is heard again and the black-robed figure appears floating about twenty feet above ground as a forked Lightning Bolt streaks from its hands into Allynfred, Darmok, Paddy and the boar. Allynfred and the boar die.

Garath hurls a spear at the floating figure, but it stops a foot or two away from its target and falls to the ground; Exex then nocks one of her magic arrows, and her elven aim is true and it finds its mark. The figure’s concentration broken, its Levitation spell ends and it descends rapidly to the sand, where Bobill’s Ring of the Ram batters it backward, Rebamac wails on it, and Darmok Springs over to finish it off. As Garath’s mighty two-handed sword seems to have no effect on the aerial monster, he trades places with Darmok to confront the batbeast alongside Paddy, who is one hit away from death; Garath gets between the two, yelling at the halfling to throw him his blade. Paddy tosses the Short Sword of Quickness to the barbarian, who strikes the creature deep enough to fell it. Darmok, Exex and Chees vanquish the aerial creature, though Exex’s +1 Longsword seems not to hurt the horror.

The combat, after closing, took six rounds. Allynfred is dead at -3 hp, and three other characters, including Paddy, are one hit away from death themselves. Two dervishes, still alive (including the Iaseda they’ve encountered before) are pulled from the web before setting fire to it and its undead prisoners. Some healing is done, uncharred bodies are searched, and little reward is recovered for their efforts. They discover the previously-floating blackrobe to be a female human, presumably “the Mistress”, and find hidden in her belt’s secret pouches a Sheet of Smallness containing a spellbook and a miniature, ankh-shaped key. She wears the same symbol that the drow who carried The Book of Eibon and some of the humanoid leaders had.

Drow Symbol a recurring symbol

The two surviving dervishes head back to their hideout while the party returns to the wagon to lick their wounds.

This was one hellacious battle, taking two-and-a-half hours of real time even though all the action, from porch to finish, lasted seven rounds. Triangulation and area-effect spells at the beginning went a long way towards levelling the battlefield to give the party a chance at success. It would have turned out a lot worse had the low-level troops not been dispatched right away.

View
Book Three, Chapter Three - The Tomb of Kings, Part One
From Palace to Tomb

Friend in Peril – Jafo the Dervish

Still in the Palace cellar…

Bobill was able to haltingly converse with the Dervish in the Flan tongue, learned his name was Hadj and he had been imprisoned two weeks; he encountered the humanoids only, but knew there were humans involved and had heard them coming and going through a door in the next room. He described the location of the tomb complex and agreed to let the adventurers escort him to the Dervish hideout, where they were surrounded; Hadj vouched for the party and went inside. A short while later the Iaseda, the same cleric that the party had encountered earlier in the desert, emerged from the ruin and conversed with Rebamac. He revealed that they were trying to prevent a group of spellcasters from entering the Tomb of Kings, and the adventurers responded that their aim was to remove the curse from the Spring of Athis, and that involved destroying the evil in the Tomb. The Iaseda considered and decided to not interfere with the party’s ambition, but insisted on having a dervish accompany the party. This dervish, Jafo, travelled the half-mile or so with them to the Tomb of Kings, on the west side of the hill. At one point the party opted to go back to the wagon to rest – they like doing that a lot, but I’m sure it won’t draw any attention.

The Tomb of Kings

Tomb of Kings side approaching the Tomb from the south

The party found itself standing outside a huge edifice carved into the side of the sandstone hill, over 60’ high and 500’ wide, with a long, 250’ double-collonaded processional entryway featuring larger-than-life-size statues of mighty and fabulous animals drawing chariots of kings.

Tomb of Kings front a front view of the entrance to the Tomb complex

Passing through this imposing passage, they entered an echoing vast chamber, evidently a viewing area for the nobility laid in state, complete with 30’ high pharoah statues and giant smiling sun bas-reliefs. 70’ directly ahead, between columns, was a wide hallway, and at either end of the 150’ wide chamber a wide passage led north or south. Exex and Paddy carefully searched for traps in the area, and finding none, Exex cautiously explored the forward passage. As she stepped past the columns a cracking sound echoed and four halberd-weilding statues emerged from the stone columns and attacked! They were defeated, though Garath, without a magical weapon, took noticeably longer to vanquish his; when the statues fell they left behind a pile of greenish-blue dust and fragments, and when brushed away each revealed a valuable topaz.

Rooms off the left side appeared to be preparation rooms, with stone tables, pots and urns, and heiroglyphics. Paddy and the fighters moved into the right-side room, wherein four black, jackal-headed figures in ancient bronze plate and bearing bronze khopeshes animated and attacked while making hooting sounds. Rebamac moved in to help, leaving Chees, Exex, Bobill and Jafo in the hallway. The next round, Jafo’s scream alerted the spellcasters to danger – four huge, hawk-headed hounds bounding into the hall! One of the beasts tore apart poor Jafo, who tried defending himself, as the others each ferociously assailed a spellcaster. With a great leap Darmok was in the hall to help fend off the hounds, and eventually all opponents lay dead, the jackal-men withering into dessicated husks.

Minions and Hounds

Finding the room empty, the characters proceeded further east down the hall, coming to a diamond-shaped room flanked by two levers and slots. Exex discovered a semi-circular trackway across the threshold floor, and pulling the levers up or down caused the room to rotate a quarter-turn. The triangular key recovered from the Palace fit snugly into the left slot; they left the room alone without entering, figuring that a second key is needed for the room to operate properly.

Everyone then headed back into the reception hall to the north passageway, and discovered side rooms were used by humanoids, most likely, so caution was observed as another large chamber was approached. Failing to surprise, gnolls intending to ambush the party found themselves on the recieving end of some pointy things, though a second line of the critters did get to hurl their javelins – as they turned and ran, five gnolls fell to a Sleep spell. Further gnolls and a Flind leader fought the party with hit-and-run tactics in this huge crypt room, but were dispatched through the stealth of thieves and blades of swordsmen. A single gnoll survived, captured when grappled by Allynfred the dwarf. This fellow revealed what he knew about his employers, which wasn’t much as he’s low man on the totem pole, and was then given the boot out a side door to slink away south into the desert heat.

Play broke for the night here.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.