This book was found in a secret room inside the hidden shrine of Justicia, in the underground river level of the dungeons under Castle Whiterock. It's a large, leather-bound tome, containing a cloth-of-gold bookmark that was placed about one third of the way into the book. The entire book is handwritten, in Celestial. All but the last page are written in a pleasant, curving script. The last page is written in a different hand, spiky. The last two-thirds of the book are blank.
Title: "Testimony of the Order’s Investigation of Castle Whiterock and Efforts to Slay the Wyrm Benthosruthsa"
Section One: "The Call to Muster" This describes the Order of the Sundered Scale, a group of six holy warriors of Justicia dedicated to killing evil dragons, based in Galaron (the capital of the Kingdom of Morrain, about 250 miles northwest of Cillamar).
The commander of the Order was Knight-Commander Usila Fairglade, a half-elven female. The Order's wizard was Knight-Arcanist Argent Theophal, a human male. Their cleric was Knight-Chaplain Benden Talbusk, a human male. Other members were Knights Lorio Ranither (a halfling male), Ancival Dupre (a human male), and Felgin Forgefire (a dwarf male).
The order was engaged in their usual business of researching dragons and planning trips to faraway dragon lairs, when a woman calling herself Lady Chauntessa approached them with apparent proof that the great red dragon Benthosruthsa (who had destroyed Cillamar almost 300 years previously and had not been seen since) was still alive, and living deep under Castle Whiterock. Chauntessa challenged them to slay Benthosruthsa. They didn't have to be asked twice.
Section Two: "Knowing Thine Enemy" Gives background information on Benthosruthsa. He is supposedly directly descended from the noble red dragon line of the mythical Sunscratch. His sire was Vaulnox of Ul Dominor (slain, 2829). His brother Dorvenruthsa (cross-referencing Lord Mirias Stormwarden) and is son Pyraxus of the Trolltooth Peaks are thought to still be active. There are several accounts of Benthosruthsa's almost total destruction of Cillamar, 289 years before the book was written. It was done quite methodically and skilfully: first the large siege engines were destroyed, then the wizards and archers were picked off, then the rest of the defenseless town was razed.
Section Three: "Assayance of Castle Whiterock" This gives a level-by-level description of major factions within Castle Whiterock and the dungeons beneath, as of about 30 years ago when the book was written.
Ground level: goblins and hobgoblins of the Twisted Tooth tribe
First level: orcs of the White Talon tribe
Second level: orcs of the White Talon tribe
Third level: orcs of the White Talon tribe
Fourth level: troglodytes, ruled by a Evil Cleric of the Toad-Fiend Bobulbubilz
Fifth level: underground river, secret Fane of Justicia placed here as a base
Sixth level: huge cavern, featuring a pyramid (unexplored)
Seventh level: Bleak Theater, an evil arena run by Duergar and Drow
Eighth level: Narborg, fortress of the duergar Thane Vejik
Ninth level: lower levels of Narborg
Tenth level: Burning Maze (?)
Eleventh level: Benthosruthsa's Lair (?)
Section Four: "Progress of the Mission" This gives a history of the quest to slay Benthosrushsa.
The Order of the Sundered Scale defeated the goblins and orcs, fought the troglodytes and toad-cultists to a draw, found another entrance to the dungeon on the fourth level, then decided to build the Hidden Fane of Justicia to serve as a base deeper in the dungeon so they wouldn't have to constantly fight their way past the troglodytes and any other monsters that invaded the upper levels. After completing the Fane they fought their way through the Bleak Theater and down into Narborg but were repulsed.
The Fane contains a Basin of Cleansing that can convert water to holy water, convert holy water to healing potions, and (with a sufficiently large gift left for Justicia) even raise the dead. It has one-way doors that can only be opened by a good believer with a holy symbol of Justicia, and so should be safe from invasion.
The Thane Vejik is a tough opponent, with many duergar mercenaries. Worse, he figured out that the Order was there, and started sending assassins. Finally, a duergar deserter named Vinfol came to the Order, saying he wanted to renounce evil and worship Justicia, and that he could help them defeat the Thane.
The last page of the journal is in a different hand, Talbusk's. Vinfol was lying. He told the Order of a chance to kill the Thane, but it was an ambush, by the Pack of the Night Wolf, and five of the six paladins were killed. Talbusk was the sole survivor. He escaped, then recovered the bones of his companions. But he does not have the means to bring them back to life, yet. He needs to kill the Thane, then sacrifice the Thane's treasure to the Basin of Cleansing to persuade Justicia to raise his companions from the dead, so they can continue exploring past Narborg and find and kill Benthosrushsa.
Just below freezing, dry
Player Characters:Elias (Wiggles), Human Cleric, 252 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 304 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 297 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 281 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 315 points
Vinfol, Duergar Mohrg
Elias visited the Temple of Justicia to tell them about the underground area of high sanctity. They were interested, and gave him a wooden holy symbol of Justicia and a few prayers.
Garreth went back to the dwarf miner who taught him a bit of Undercommon, to see if he also knew any Celestial, but the dwarf laughed. So Garreth also went to the Temple of Justicia, to learn a few words of Celestial to try to figure out the magic spear. One of the priests was willing to read all the words from the spear's inscription. When Garreth tried reading back all of the words, the word "diasta" ("faithful" in Celestial) triggered the spear's Great Haste power.
Zaber went looking for dirt on Lord Granger Flitwick, and found that he fired his maid Skyla before going south for the winter, rather than continuing to pay her to keep up his town house. Zaber went looking for the maid but could not find her.
Having destroyed two skiffs on their last delve, the group decided to try to buy a boat, but failed to find any for sale in mid-winter. So they started hiking for Castle Whiterock. They made it there without incident, electing to walk the long way around the lake, rather than pulling out their Folding Boat and rowing across. (Surprisingly, the lake isn't frozen solid yet, so they can't just walk across.)
Seépravir cast a bunch of spells (Lighten Burden on Elias, Alertness and Keen Vision and See Secrets and See Invisible on Zaber, Invisibility on Zaber and Polly, Dark Vision on Zaber and Polly and herself, and Levitate on herself), and then everyone went downstairs to the first orc level, then over to the secret room with the elevator, then took the elevator down to the underground river level.
Zaber scouted ahead, found nothing waiting in ambush, but remembered there was still some beer left in a cask in the Derro cave, and walked over to get some. It was pretty skunky but didn't do any actual damage. Garreth mentioned that it wouldn't be good much longer so they should finish it on the way home.
Everyone piled into the last undamaged skiff, except Seépravir chose to show faith in Garreth's boat-handling by Levitating slightly above the boat rather than actually riding in it. Garreth turned east at the fork in the river, avoided some rocks, and then they were near the holy place. Garreth lifted Elias up to the trail, then everyone else climbed or flew up.
Elias pulled out his Justicia holy symbol (not his usual Elyr holy symbol, but Elyr and Justicia are friends), and said a prayer to Justicia, and the stone slab ahead turned translucent. Elias then walked right through the stone wall. Polly followed him, and then everyone else followed. On the other side was a small vestibule, with a basin containing some brown residue. There was a wooden door and another translucent stone wall. Elias opened the door, revealing a room containing a weapon rack full of knightly weapons, and a couple of straw dummies. The weapons appeared to be in good shape, but none were magical. Both Zaber and Polly searched inside the dummies, but didn't find anything. Seépravir cast Seek Magic and detected some magic a bit to the southwest, not in this room.
There was another wooden door on the far side of the room with the weapon rack, and it led to another vestibule with stone not-doors on both sides. Elias prayed again and the stone door to the east went translucent, while the one to the west did not. Zaber and Polly went through, and found they could not come back. The doors were one-way. After a lot of fooling around with the doors, everyone went out to the west, and found themselves back in in the passage outside the vestibules. Then Elias prayed with his holy symbol again, and the door to the north went translucent again, and the party finally figured out how to get all the way through multiple one-way doors into a big room.
Zaber invisibly scouted ahead, and saw a huge statue of a women holding a flaming sword and shield (probably Justicia) with an empty basin in front of it. There were also a 6 more wooden doors, all around the room. Nothing jumped Zaber, so after a bit the rest of the party joined him. Elias (who has Theology) was sure the statue was Justicia, and also that her right hand with the sword pointing at a door to the south represented her smiting-evil side, while left open left hand pointing at a door to the north represented her merciful side. There was some Celestial writing next to the basin. Elias's Gift of Letters spell (with a big +3 bonus for Sanctity) revealed that it said "All things
when purified can serve the cause of good." There was some other Celestial writing back by the entrance and exit doors, but nobody bothered to go back and read it.
Zaber had the idea of taking the tabard of Justicia that they had found down in the evil frog god temple, and dunk it in the basin to purify it. The basin was empty, though. Seépravir cast Create Water and put 5 gallons of water in the basin, but somehow half of the water disappeared and only half remained.
Meanwhile Elias decided to open a door to the north (it was locked but the key was hanging on a string on a hook next to it), which led to another door, behind which was a smaller statue of Justicia, and a candlestick, and some white candles, and some Celestial writing that said "Come humbly before the Lady of Mercy." Zaber decided to open a similar door to the south, and found another statue of Justicia.
Elias opened a door to the northwest, and found a barracks, with 3 bunk beds (two full-length and one a bit shorter) and 6 chests. Each of the chests had a different appearance. Zaber got to searching
The chest covered with gems (which turned out on closer inspection to be fake) was full of letters from relatives asking for money. Seépravir went looking for dates on the letters and found that one was dated 32 about years ago.
Zaber opened a chest made of reeds, and found several reed dolls inside, like the one they found with the tabard and bones in the evil frog god's temple.
The chest with a music note contained a flute and some sheet music. Seépravir, a flutist, decided to go play the songs to the big central statue of Justicia and see if anything happened. Nothing did, at least not immediately...
...and then everyone's peaceful exploration was interrupted as a very fast dwarf-sized skeleton with guts and a huge tongue came running up to where Seépravir was playing the flute and tried to slam into Garreth. (Garreth tends to bodyguard Seépravir, and this showed why having someone beefy keep an eye on the wizard is a good idea.) It rolled a 6 on its slam attack for a critical hit. Garreth used his Luck, forcing it to reroll twice and take the worst roll. It rolled another 6 and then another 6. Oops. Garreth was slammed, hard, for a Major Wound. But then his Bless decided that wasn't allowed to happen, and prevented the damage, disappearing in the process. The mohrg hadn't done any damage, but he still had Garreth grappled, and followed up with a paralyzing tongue attack. Garreth made his HT-2 resistance roll, exactly, and wasn't paralyzed.
Garreth fast-drew a knife and tried to stab the Mohrg, but missed. Seépravir started casting Great Haste. Polly came running out of the barracks room and took two shots at the mohrg. The first one missed. The second one was on-target, and the mohrg chose to release its grapple on Garreth to dodge, which succeeded. Elias and Zaber started running toward the fight.
The mohrg tried tonguing Garreth again. He failed to dodge, but again made his resistance roll and was not paralyzed. The mohrg screamed "LEFT ME TO DIE!"
No longer grappled, Garreth dropped his knife and fast drew his katana, then started chopping. The mohrg had really good Dodge though, and managed to avoid all the attacks. Polly first a couple more arrows at close range, and finally hit the mohrg once. Seépravir finished Great Hasting Garreth, while Zaber and Elias kept closing toward the fight.
The mohrg went for Garreth with its tongue yet again, and critically hit again, but once again Garreth resisted. It went for a second tongue attack, but this time Garreth parried. Seépravir dropped a Grease spell on the floor under and behind the mohrg, giving it -1 to dodge and a chance to face plant if it tried to move. Great Hasted Garreth went for a rapid strike (dodged/dodged), followed by a feint to try to lower the mohrg's defenses next turn. Polly fired two more arrows at the mohrg, and once again it failed to dodge one of them, but it still appeared to be moving at full speed.
The Mohrg got tired of having Garreth resist its tongue attacks and decided to step up to Seépravir and attack the squishier target. But it rolled a 17 on its DX check to move across Grease, and face planted. It still got to attack (at a penalty for being prone), but Garreth sacrificially parried both attacks on Seépravir. Seépravir tried Rapier Wit to stun the mohrg, but it was unaffected. So she cast Haste on Garreth.
Garreth rolled his Feint from the previous turn, but tied with the mohrg (they both beat their weapon skill by 7), so no defense penalty. The mohrg was prone, though, which made it a bit easier to hit. He hit it, hard, three times out of four swings. This was enough to slow the mohrg, reducing its amazing dodge to less amazing levels, and also to make it pass a consciousness check, two death checks, and three stun checks. It made all of them. Polly plugged it with another arrow, which gave it a third death check, and this time it rolled a 15. Once again Garreth whined about doing all the damage and having someone else steal his kill, but that wasn't entirely true, as Polly put three arrows into the mohrg.
With combat over, Seépravir needed to recover some mana, so she went into the barracks to lie down on one of the beds. Zaber went back to searching chests in the barracks. The iron chest contained metal polish, steel wool, rags, and a whetstone. The brass chest contained a book about the Theophal family, some of whom were vampires. The chest with a swirl on the lid contained a sketchbook, some parchment, and various colors of charcoals. The sketchbook was partly filled with sketches of six knights (human, halfling, dwarf, elf), sometimes hanging out in this temple, sometimes smiting evil.
Zaber went back to the southeast, and found a small room whose door had been busted open, containing a bed (which had been gnawed on) and a stool (also knawed on) and an Everburning Torch. There was another door to the northeast, which he opened, and behind it was a storeroom full of various equipment. Most of it was mundane stuff like rope and casks of oil and wooden holy symbols, but there were also some pearls, diamond dust, ruby dust, and a miniature sword made of precious metals. Zaber took the valuables and left the mundane equipment.
The last unopened door to the southwest led to a crypt, with 6 niches with names on them. Knight Felgin Forgefire, Knight-Arcanist Argent Theophal, Knight-Chaplain Benden Talbusk, Knight Lorio Ranither and Knight Ancival Dupre. Five of them contained bones, but one (Talbusk) was empty. Garreth immediately said that they should recover the bones from the evil frog god temple and bring them up here for proper burial. With only 25 minutes left in the session, the GM rolled for a couple of random encounters, got none, then declared it was time to use the power of montage to finish the bone-fetching as quickly as possible. The party boated back to the beach then took the stairs back up to the lower Troglodyte level (without actually bothering to move them on the Roll20 map), then Seépravir cast Swim and Warmth on Zaber and made her Will roll to lend him the Ring of Water Breathing, then (still Invisible) Zaber swam through the dark cold water to the wrecked temple with the bones and brought them out, then everyone went back downstairs and got back in the skiff and boated back over to the temple, then Elias prayed them back through the stone door, and finally they interred Talbusk's bones in his designated resting place.
When that was done, the group heard some loud stone-on-stone noise. Everyone went out to see what had happened, and they found the statue of Justicia had bowed her head, and a secret door had opened behind the statue. Zaber went in there and found a large book (in Celestial) on a pedestal. Elias cast Gift of Letters and found that the title of the book was "Testimony of the Order’s
Investigation of Castle Whiterock and Efforts to Slay the Wyrm Benthosruthsa." There wasn't enough time to read the whole book, since Elias doesn't have the ability to maintain that spell indefinitely, but a quick flip through found that it was full of information about Castle Whiterock and definitely warranted further research. At that point the party decided to head back to Cillamar.
The PCs spent a whole session exploring a the hidden temple of Justicia. The only fight was the surprise attack from the mohrg who was annoyed enough by Seépravir's flute playing to rip the door off his cell. Otherwise it was just exploring the temple of Justicia and figuring out who these six people were and why they had a temple here. The players figured out the "restore the bones to their proper resting place" puzzle right away, and got the book, so they'll probably find a lot of answers, as soon as Seépravir learns enough written Celestial to be able to read it all. The book will be detailed in a future blog post, to save the players from spending precious game time having a book monologued at them.
Unseasonably warm, snow has melted
Player Characters:Elias (Wiggles), Human Cleric, 247 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 299 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 292 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 276 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 310 points
Iolas, Elf Musical Craftswoman
Brie, Half-Elf Bard
Aeraelith, imprisoned Air Elemental
Vulgaris, Minyad mushroom farmer
5 Giant Clams
After taking a couple of weeks off from adventuring for the winter holidays, the 5 PCs assembled at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake in Cillamar to plan their next delve. They needed someone to play their jade-stringed harp to help free an imprisoned air elemental, so they asked Brie, a bard who often played at the Inn, if she would do it. While the harp wasn't her favorite instrument, she claimed she could play one well enough, and they hired her for $200 to accompany them to Castle Whiterock.
Nobody heard any particularly interesting rumors over the holidays, though Zaber started using his newly acquired Propaganda skill to start spreading nasty rumors about Lord Granger Flitwick, who was still out of town somewhere to the south. Garreth found a dwarven teacher who knew Undercommon and started taking some language lessons.
The group went together to the shop of Iolas the musical crafts-elf, where the harp she had constructed for them around the magical jade harp strings they had found in the dungeon was finished. They paid the balanced owed, handed the harp to Brie, and started hiking to Castle Whiterock. It was a much easier than usual hike for winter, thanks to uncommonly warm weather over the past few weeks. They made it to the castle in reasonable time with nothing eventful happening.
After casting a few spells, everyone walked over to the castle's stairs, down through the former upper orc level, then down through the former lower orc level, to the former upper troglodyte level, past the cave formerly full of piercers, and over to the flowstone cavern containing the strange organ and Aeraelith the imprisoned air elemental. The elemental was making a bunch of whoosing and whistling noises that nobody understood. Brie started playing the harp, Seépravir joined in on the flute (which she plays quite well), and Polly played the drum (at default skill, but playing a single drum isn't that hard). Apparently they played the song from the stone tablets found inside the organ's bench well enough, because there was a bright flashing light and the smell of sulfur and then a huge wind that knocked Seépravir down, followed by a lot more whistling sounds.
Elias eventually cast Gift of Tongues to figure out what the air elemental was saying, and it was the expected "thank you"s plus some crude mockery of the drow female who had imprisoned him. Elias asked if there'd be a reward, but the elemental said he'd been locked up for 500 years and didn't really have anything to give as one. But if his friends ever needed any wind, they could call on him. Elias asked how, and Aeraelith said they could use a summon spell or something. Elias wasn't impressed. The elemental said it wanted to go experience some sun and fresh air, and left. Her work done, Brie also decided to head back to Cillamar on her own, rather than waiting for the others. She took their harp with her, promising to deliver it to the Inn.
Something had happened to the Ring of Water Breathing that Seépravir usually wears; she found that she now understood Aquan and could cast Create Water. (Though she could already cast Create Water so that wasn't a huge win.)
With the elemental freed, everyone decided it was time for more underwater river boating. So they headed down to the lower former troglodyte level, then to the underwater river level, where Vulgaris the Minyad was tending to her fungus. When the visible members of the party revealed themselves, she emerged to ask if they brought a rapier to trade, and managed not to say "to replace the one you took from me after almost killing me." They had, so she offered a couple of fungal Major Healing potions for it, and the group accepted. She went off to practice trimming mushrooms with her new rapier, while they headed west toward the underground beach.
Zaber mentioned something about leftover old Derro beer in the nearby cave, but the others eventually lured him back out to scout ahead. Seépravir cast Warmth and Swim on him (to go with the Invisibility and Dark Vision he already had), and gave him the Ring of Water Breathing (and Aquan and Create Water). With the spells and ring, Zaber was able to scout ahead easily, while the others followed in a boat. After a brief debate of which boat to take (there were three on the beach, plus the Folding Boat that the group found last delve in Garreth's pack), Garreth picked a random skiff that looked watertight, loaded everyone, and started rowing.
The group hadn't gone far at all when they were ambushed by two huge raylike creatures, one swimming below the water and one flying above. The creatures somehow managed to achieve surprise despite Zaber's watchful eye, and the underwater one tried to smash the boat and turn the air-breathers into drowning dinner. Fortunately for the PCs, while it put a hole in the boat, it didn't quite do enough damage to capsize or destroy the boat, and they all recovered from surprise pretty quickly. (Everyone except Elias made their first IQ roll, and he made his second.)
The underwater lurker's second attack on the boat was ineffective (it rolled a 16), and by then Garreth was chopping it up with his katana. The flying one tried to swoop in and grab Seépravir, but she dodged. (She didn't have Levitate up, so didn't get to retreat unless she was willing to fall in the water, since there wasn't enough empty space in the boat, but she made her Dodge roll anyway.) Polly started filling the flying one with arrows. Zaber swam up and grabbed the front of the boat. Realizing that the skiff she was in might not be floating much longer, Seépravir cast Levitate on herself.
The flying lurker went after Seépravir again, but Garreth used his sacrificial parry to defend her. Then he used his katana to slice up the underwater lurker some more, until it stopped moving. Seépravir cast Shape Water to make water stop coming in the hole in the skiff. The flying lurker went after Elias, but he blocked. And then Garreth sliced that one too, and it went down into the water.
At that point the PCs went back to the beach and traded their skiff with a big hole in it (granted, with no water currently coming in thanks to a magical patch job) for a skiff without a big hole in it. Then they headed down the river again, exploring past the spot where the cave fishers ambushed them last time, then back to the southeast, until Elias noticed a high sanctity area. A quick check revealed a ledge with a hallway back into the rocks. The group beached their skiff then went up to explore the passage. It ended in an artificial-looking dead end with two 45-degree-angle passages, some writing in a language nobody knew, and some kind of supernaturally projected holy symbol of Justicia (a sword and shield, with the sword piercing a dragon's head). Elias tried praying, but this didn't have any obvious effect. Polly and Zaber looked for secret doors, but didn't find any. Elias cast Gift of Letters and was able to read that the writing (in Celestial) said "Believer, wield your faith to gain entry." But apparently his Elyr-oriented faith wasn't good enough, as he couldn't figure out how to gain entry. The group went back to their boat.
Heading back to the north, Zaber spotted a group of rocks ahead, with a gap to the right that should allow safe passage. Everyone was immediately suspicious of this, and Zaber invisibly snuck up to find what evil must lurk in the "safe" part of the river, and saw several giant (bigger than man-sized!) clams. He went back to the skiff and there was a discussion about pearls and weather Giant Clams counted as Nature and should be left alone. The conclusion was to go get one of the Lurker corpses and have Zaber feed it to the clams and see what happened. So they rowed back, chopped off as much Lurker as they could fit in the boat, returned to near the clams, then had (still Invisible) Zaber carry the Lurker bits near the clams then let go, having them become visible. The experiment worked, and one of the clams opened up and fired some kind of spear at the lurker bits, then reeled it in and closed on the tasty treat. Zaber tried to get a look inside while the shell was open to see if there were any giant pearls, but didn't see any. Seépravir was pretty sure these kind of clams should have pearls, though. After some more discussion, the group decided to leave the clams alone for now, and instead try to boat between the rocks on the other side of the stream. Garreth did a good job controlling the skiff, and the clams didn't mess with group as they went past. So, possible combat avoided, for now.
Continuing to the west, the group first heard then saw a waterfall. Garreth back-rowed to keep the skiff from going downstream toward it, while they discussed the options. Seépravir used Levitate to fly ahead and check the waterfall out, and was able to report that it was about a ten-foot drop with reasonably deep water at the bottom, possibly safe to boat down. Zaber climbed up on the slippery rock to on the side of the passage near the waterfall. Garreth decided to try it, and successfully piloted the boat down the waterfall without crashing it. This left Zaber behind, but he decided it was safer to climb past the waterfall than swim down it, even with the Swim spell and Water Breathing ring making him basically a fish, and he didn't have any problem climbing on the slippery rock. So everyone was back together under the waterfall. Someone mentioned that making it back up might be a pain, but that was a problem for later.
The group continued down the underground river as it bent north, with Zaber invisibly swimming ahead, until he spotted some kind of humanoids lurking underwater. He swam back to the boat to alert the others, not wanting to call out and make noise. But they took a bit too long, and one of the ambushers got impatient and decided to swim under the skiff rather than waiting for it to come to him. And then hit it with his axe for 5d+3 damage. BOOM! That was enough to turn the skiff from a single cohesive boat to a collection of floating boat bits. Fortunately for the PCs, the skiff was made of inherently buoyant wood, rather than being completely reliant on its shape for all flotation. So they had the option to attempt a DX roll (to grab onto some wreckage) or a penalized Acrobatics roll (to stand on some wreckage and keep their hands free), or to go into the water and roll Swimming. Polly and Garreth both chose Acrobatics and both succeeded at surfing on skiff bits. Elias chose to drop his flail (fortunately attached by a lanyard for such emergencies) and grab onto some wreckage and succeeded in staying above water. And Seépravir had been Levitating above the skiff rather than sitting in it, so the skiff breaking up had no great effect on her.
Still, three of the PCs were now perched on floating bits of wood, not the best fighting perch, as the underwater axe-Skum and his band of merry ambushers prepared to knock them off and drown them. Fortunately, Seépravir was able to use Shape Water to make a nice solid (er, okay, actually liquid, but well- behaved liquid) four-hex platform for them to stand on. While she was doing this she got a good look at the big guy with the axe and called out that the axe looked magical. And she also happened to notice that the west wall of the passage was looked like an illusion, maybe worth checking out when the group wasn't busy trying to survive.
Polly asked if the unknown humanoids had visible eyes, and they did, so she tried shooting one in the eye. It dodged the first arrow, but not the second, and took an arrow through the eye and presumably into its brain, stunning and slowing it. Zaber, still Invisible, decided to use the Ring to Create Water over the head of one of the nearby skum. This worked, and wasn't an actual attack so didn't make him visible, but had no apparent effect. Elias stood up on the magically Shaped water platform and used his lanyard to deftly yank his flail back into his hand.
The big underwater Skum with the magic axe decided to kill Garreth with it. Garreth initially failed his parry, but used his Luck, and then rolled a 4 for a critical success on the retry. The huge guy went to the critical failure table, and dropped his weapon, and no longer had his magic axe, which went splashing into the water. (Unlike Elias, he didn't have a lanyard.)
Garreth tried to stab the disarmed huge opponent, but the -2 for attacking into the murky water plus the big deceptive attack penalty he chose were enough to make the 5 he rolled not a crit, and the opponent dodged it, while Retreating downward toward his axe. (He was a very impressive dodger and obviously had Amphibious.) Polly shot the stunned opponent in its other eye, rendering it blind, and also unconscious. She shot her other arrow at a different opponent that was climbing onto the water platform, but it dodged.
At this point invisible aqua-Zaber had a new mission: go steal that axe before its owner recovers it and gets to roll 5d+3 damage again. With the Swim spell he was fast enough to get their in one Move, and with Invisibility, once he grabbed it, the axe turned invisible too. Elias decided to double strike a nearby opponent. His first attack rolled a 3 for a critical hit, a major wound, good damage, and a (rare in GURPS 4E) hex of knockback. His second attack hit too, as the skum splashed back into the water, stunned.
Another skum came onto the water platform and tried to claw Elias, but he blocked with his shield. A different one tried to grab Polly, but she acrobatically dodged, jumping over its grasping clawed hand. Seépravir started casting Great Haste on Garreth, and a couple seconds later he was super-fast. Garreth unleashed four high-speed Deceptive stabs at the big skum in the water looking for his invisible axe. It failed to dodge the first one and was hit hard enough to be slowed, reducing his crazy-high dodge to a much less impressive level, allowing two more hits, for a combined massive amount of damage. The huge skum was super-tough though, and made all his death checks and consciousness check and major wound checks, so was still moving down there.
Polly shot another skum in the eye and rolled 16 damage that was quadrupled to 64 points for a brain hit and the skum rolled an 18 on its death check, so that was one less enemy I had to track. Elias laid into a skum twice more with his flail, getting two hits but not managing to knock it out. Zaber Waited, axe in hand, for the big skum to come out of the water. And he did, jumping out of the water to come kill Garreth with his bare claws. Unfortunately he never saw Zaber there, who got a backstab neck-chop with the axe. Zaber didn't actually have Axe/Mace skill, but he had a lot of DX and a pretty good default and Bless+2, and managed to hit. The big skum had no idea that was coming, didn't get to defend, and took a solid chop to back of the neck, which was just enough (when added to all the damage Garreth did last turn) to get a third death check, which he rolled a 16 on. Dead skum. Garreth once again did most of the damage to an opponent then had Zaber swoop in and get the kill with one hit.
There was one skum left. Seépravir tried Death Vision on it, which didn't work, so apparently skum aren't alive or don't fear death. Garreth tried multiple-katana-chops on it, did a bunch of damage, and it failed its first death check, so it turns out that not fearing death doesn't make you immune to it.
We were out of time, and the group wanted to go back to town. Their skiff was destroyed but they still had the Folding Boat in Garreth's backpack. Since there was no time left, I used my usual "getting back to town is safe" house rule and ruled that they figured out how to use Levitation and Climbing and ropes and stuff to get back up the waterfall, off camera, and they made it back to town.
Freeing Aeraelith the air elemental was something the group had been working toward, part-time, forever, so it was neat to see it finally happen. They didn't get much of an obvious reward for doing it, though.
I was kind of surprised the group was willing to trade a rapier for a couple of Major Healing potions, considering they have way more healing potions than they ever use, but maybe they're just trying to stay on the Minyad's good side.
The lurker ambush was a neat encounter, and they rolled a 6 on surprise to actually manage to ambush this high-Perception group, but the underwater one didn't do quite enough damage to wreck the boat on its first attack, then completely whiffed on its second attack, and then it was dead. Turns out two lurkers were not a match for 5 PCs in a boat. If they'd managed to sink the boat, maybe that would have changed things: surface dwellers don't fight so well underwater.
I was also surprised that the group decided to bypass the Giant Clams rather than murder them for their pearls. For once, Sense of Duty to Nature defeated Greed and Curiosit. Of course that might do that later. Clams tend not to move very fast.
The skum ambush was a very scary encounter. This time the enemy didn't achieve total surprise but the PCs spent too much time discussing while too close to an enemy, and the enemy snuck around them and unleashed 5d+3 axe damage to their skiff. I thought I was pretty generous allowing Acrobatics rolls to surf on boat bits, but it still would have been a very tough fight with the (fully Amphibious) skum trying to knock them off, grapple them, drag them underwater, and drown them. But Seépravir's ability to Shape Water and make a stable platform to stand on, combined with Garreth's Luck creating a critical success on a parry leading to disarming the huge Skum with the axe, then Zaber invisibly stealing the axe before the skum could get it back, won the fight. The moral of the story: if you have a $10000 magic axe, consider buying a $1 lanyard for it.
Total casualties this session: 2 skiffs. Total treasure found this session: 1 magic axe.
Unseasonably warm, melting snow
Player Characters:Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 294 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 287 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 271 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 305 points
Iolas, Elf Musical Craftswoman
Vulgaris, Minyad Druid
4 Cave Fishers
After a hard week of training, everyone except Elias (who had church duty) met at the Inn of the Slumbering Drake in Cillamar, to recap their week. Seépravir had tried researching a Druidic planar gate in the mushroom forest, and found tales of a "great forest" with gates to it from other forests, but nothing specifically underground or under Castle Whiterock. Zaber had started using Propaganda skill to spread nasty rumors about Lord Flitwick, who was still out of town, wintering somewhere to the south. Polly had purchased a whole lot of arrows, after some fungal rot had somehow gotten into her quiver during last session's fight in the mushroom farm.
Polly remembered that they still needed to finish the jade harp, to match the jade flute and jade drum and possibly free the air elemental trapped in the organ. So everyone went to see Iolas, the only maker of musical instruments on the Street of Craftsmen, to commission her to make a harp, using the magical jade harp strings they had found in the baby red dragon's hoard. Iolas was happy for the business, asked a few questions about the type of harp they wanted, took half the money up front, and told them to come back in a week. Unfortunately none of the PCs actually know how to play a harp. They looked for Brie the bard, who sometimes plays lute in the Inn, but she wasn't around.
Having done everything they could think of doing in town, the group headed for Castle Whiterock. It was an unseasonably warm day for winter, with a lot of the recent snow starting to melt. They did not make great time hiking through the slush, but nothing bothered them.
Once they reached the castle, Seépravir cast a bunch of buffing spells, and the group headed back down through the dungeon to the level where they defeated the mushroom farmer and her brood of elementals last time. When they got there, she spotted them, and held up her hands and asked to parley. They had a long conversation, where they established that her name was Vulgaris, that she was a minyad (kind of like a dryad but with underground crystal veins instead of above ground trees), that the fight was a horrible misunderstanding because the group had trespassed on her territory and her guard elementals weren't that smart, that she was thankful that they had spared her life, that she would like her edged rapier back, and that she'd be happy to trade various fungus with the PCs, in exchange for green slime or possibly other things. Seépravir let her know diplomatically that she wasn't getting her sword back, and made a very pursuasive argument, so Vulgaris agreed to shut up about getting her rapier back but expressed interest in trading for another one like it. She also mentioned that there were crazy people to the west. Upon further questioning, she said they were derro, which are a species of small insane underground humanoids. Zaber tried hitting on the minyid (who was quite beautiful in an inhuman way) but she either didn't notice or pretended not to.
Not having any green slime or spare edged rapiers to trade, and wanting to get Zaber away from Vulgaris and her mushrooms, the group decided to go west and see about the derro. Zaber and Polly moved west down a natural-looking tunnel, into a cave that contained a large basket suspended by cables, and a large wheel connected to the cables. It looked like an elevator going up, maybe the bottom end of the same elevator they had found months ago, in the secret room occupied by a duergar, on the slaver orcs' level. But before they had time to play with the elevator, they spotted a small humanoid with a crossbow to the north, who spotted them in return and ran away to the north while yelling gibberish. Polly tried to yell something friendly, to no effect.
Zaber and Polly rejoined Seépravir and Garreth, and Seépravir cast Missile Shield on Polly. Polly advanced again, this time with much less fear of crossbow bolts, while Zaber climbed the wall to see if that gave him a better view. It let him see an underground river to the north, with three skiffs beached on it, but the derro was now out of sight, either hiding behind something or beyond Dark Vision range. Polly moved forward enough to see three little guys with crossbows and mail, spread out into a skirmish line. She kept moving forward fearlessly, and stepped onto an unseen patch of magical Grease, but didn't slip.
Eventually one of the waiting enemies cackled insanely and ran out of patience and fired at Polly, and automatically missed because of the Missile Shield. At that point Polly started shooting back, Garreth started running forward holding the magical returning spear that they'd taken from a dead troglodyte, and Seépravir readied a Concussion spell. The derro were over 30 yards away, pretty long range for a dungeon battle, so everyone had pretty big hit penalties. Polly didn't particularly care, as she's really good with a bow, and got some hits in. Seépravir didn't really care either, because she just had to get her Concussion within 10 yards of some enemies to have a chance to stun them, which she managed, stunning one and totally deafening another. Garreth got a bit closer before attacking.
The derro might have been smart enough to figure out the Missile Shield (the PCs couldn't be sure as they didn't understand whatever language the derro spoke), as they concentrated their crossbow fire on Garreth rather than Polly. Garreth is good at dodging, though, and wasn't hit. Polly started showing off by aiming at eyes, choosing a stunned derro first. He failed to dodge, the arrow blew through the eye into the brain, and did massive damage. Somehow the derro survived several death checks, but the major wound check on a brain hit is at -10, and he was knocked unconscious.
By this point the Garreth and Polly had advanced far enough to see two more derro on the flanks, for a total of five (with four still standing). One of them appeared to Concentrate on a spell, which immediately drew Polly's attention, and she started aiming her arrows that way. Seépravir lobbed another Concussion into an area with three of the four standing derro, and stunned another one. (The one that had been totally deafened by critically failing its first HT check against Concussion actually benefitted from its deafness, with +5 to its roll against this one.) Garreth got close enough to lob his spear at the easternmost derro, but it dodged. The derro kept firing their crossbows, quite quickly, but missed a lot and had the few accurate shots dodged.
Garreth ran forward as his spear returned to him, and caught it out of the air. By this point he was pretty close to his target, so he decided to Slam rather than use the spear. I told him that he could slam with a spear in his hands, though it's a two-minute penalty for cross-checking. Garreth rolled a critical hit on the slam, and the derro was knocked both prone and backwards, and dropped its weapon.
The derro spellcaster cast Daze on Polly, but it was far enough away that the range penalty caused the spell to fail. Garreth fast-drew his katana and killed the prone derro with it. Polly shot one stunned derro in the eye, knocking it out. She then fired at the derro caster, who rolled a critical fail on his dodge, freezing and watching the arrow fly into his eye, and knocking him out too. At that point all the derro were knocked out or killed, and the fight was over.
Zaber started looting bodies, finding some nice repeating crossbows (where did these crazy guys get those?) and mail armor and a few coins. Garreth made sure all the unconscious derro were dead, though that probably would have happened on its own pretty soon, seeing how they all had blood pouring out of their brains through their eye sockets. Everyone saw a small save to the west, and a waterfall up to the northwest, flowing into the underground river. Seépravir climbed into one of the boats beached along the shore to rest, while Polly and Zaber went to check out the cave, and Garreth kept an eye on Seépravir.
The cave contained some small bedrolls, a stone table surrounded by rocks that might have been makeshift chairs, a cask surrounded by tankards on the ground, and a chest. Like any proper PC, Zaber immediately made a beeline for the chest. It had three locks, one of which featured a poison needle trap, which he found and disarmed. He then picked all three locks and triumphantly opened the chest, which had nothing inside. Not believing this, a lot of looking for invisible contents and false bottoms and things hidden behind the chest ensued, to no avail. Apparently one of the derro was trolling his killers from the grave.
After they finally gave up on the chest, the group started on the cask, which was half-full of some kind of ale. This made Zaber feel a bit better about the empty chest, and he decided to start swilling directly from the cask. It was some kind of dwarf ale with mushrooms, not too bad. But, also, there was a thump, like there was something solid inside the cask. Polly didn't really want to drink from a dirty tankard, and so carried one over to the river to wash it. Garreth heard there was ale and so abandoned his wizard guard duty to come get some, and also keep Zaber from drinking too much of it and impairing his thief abilities. After they finished drinking, they opened up the cask and found a stoppered bottle inside, which contained a note, with apparently three words in a language nobody knew. So they kept that and kept searching.
After a few minutes, Seépravir was done resting, so she walked up and cast Seek Magic. Which pointed to something magic under one of the stone chairs. Zaber searched under the chair and found a dark wood box and a pouch. The pouch contained some coins and green gems. The box was magic. Much playing with the box ensued, none of it working. Seépravir cast Lockmaster on the box, and it briefly popped open, showing that it was bigger on the inside than the outside, then snapped shut again. Polly thought it might be a folding boat, and dipped it in the river, but this didn't make it open. At that point the group decided that the box could wait until they were back in town, and decided to play with the elevator instead.
The elevator basket was attached to the wheel by cables wound through pulleys. Polly turned the wheel to the left, and the elevator went up. She turned the wheel to the right, and the elevator went back down. Having figured out this advanced technology, Polly and Zaber got in the basket, and Garreth started spinning the wheel. After a while, Polly and Zaber reached the secret room several levels up where they killed the ogre elevator operator. That room had its own wheel, and now contained two elevator baskets. They searched the secret room for evidence that it had been disturbed recently. They found no evidence that it had, so they left their wheelbarrow full of assorted stuff up there, and took the elevator back down.
With a bit of time left in the session, everyone piled into one of the skiffs. Seépravir cast Levitate and floated just above the skiff rather than actually riding in it, just in case. Garreth actually had Boating skill (!), so he took charge of rowing the boat. The water from the waterfall caused a current at their backs, so the boat moved easily down the underground river. At the first fork, the group had a chance of turning right toward some rocks or left toward no rocks, and chose no rocks. At the second fork, they again had a chance of right for rocks or left for no rocks, and again chose no rocks.
And, then, they were just rowing along, minding their own business, when some Cave Fishers in a cave 40' up decided to go fishing for PCs. The Cave Fishers rolled a 6 on their surprise roll. Luckily for the PCs, Zaber (keeping watch in the front of the boat) rolled a 5 against his crazy-high Perception, so no surprise happened. The Cave Fishers were basically giant lobsters with 20-yard filaments designed to stick to prey and then lift it up in the air to its doom.
But without surprise, the PCs had a decent chance to dodge the filaments. And Polly was faster than the Fishers so she got to go first. She shot one, hitting it hard enough to stun it, so it didn't get to attack that turn. Zaber grabbed a pole so he could steady the boat while Garreth fought. Garreth readied his returning spear.
Seépravir dodged a filament, with her Levitate giving her freedom of movement to retreat beyond the boat without splashing. Then she cast Concussion. Zaber judo-parried a filament, and it didn't stick to him. He then dodged a second one. Polly shot the same Fisher again. Garreth threw his spear at one, but missed. Zaber tried using a judo throw to pull a Fisher out of its cave high above and make it spash into the water, but it was more than twice as strong as him, so this move had no chance. He then used his Escape skill to detach from the filament.
The Fishers tried some more fishing. Seépravir dodged again, but one of them got Polly with a critical hit, causing her to drop her bow. (It had a lanyard, the best $1 item in GURPS, so she could get it back.) Another one tried to grab Seépravir, and rolled a critical hit, but she used Luck to make it reroll, and it didn't succeed again. Seépravir threw her Concussion up to the Fisher cave, stunning one of them.
Garreth decided not to catch his returning spear, and fast-drew his Katana instead, then chopped the filament holding Polly in half. Polly fell into the boat, made her Acrobatics roll, and landed fine. Garreth then chopped another filament for good measure. Polly used the lanyard to recover her dropped bow, and rolled a critical success, so I ruled that she'd flipped it into her hand so deftly that she could take a shot this turn. (She has Extra Attack plus Heroic Archer, so normally she fires two arrows per second.) She put another arrow into the stunned Fisher.
Zaber held the boat steady with his pole. Another Fisher grabbed Polly with a filament, and rolled another critical hit. She was grabbed again, but at least this time didn't drop her bow. Another one tried to grab Garreth, and he parried it with his katana. For once, a monster's weapon didn't count as a striker, so Garreth's parry counted as aggressive and he got a free hit on the filament, which shortened it again.
At this point Seépravir started spamming Death Vision at one of the Fishers, giving it a vision of being boiled in a gigantic fungus pot, and stunning it with no resistance roll. Garreth rapid struck two more filaments, the one holding Polly and one other, making them too short to reach the boat. (The filaments were 20 yards long and the boat was about 13 yards below the cave, so each chop-through took off about 7 yards, so two chops were enough to make the filament too short to be useful until the victims got closer.) Polly put a couple more arrows into a Fisher, hurting it badly. Garreth chopped the last filament in reach in two, and then there was nothing left in range for him to chop. Polly kept shooting, until the last couple of very wounded Fishers retreated away from the cave opening, out of line of sight from the skiff below.
Seépravir cast Levitate on Polly, so she could zoom up and keep shooting Fishers. Then she cast it on Garreth so he could fly up and chop them. Zaber started talking about climbing up the cliff toward the Fishers. But at that point I just called the battle. It was late, and the enemies were all below 0 HP, with no means of healing, so they were all going to pass out sooner or later. And if the PCs were smart enough to have Polly just keep shooting them from mid-air, beyond (shortened) filament range, the fishers had no chance.
With the battle over, Garreth took Zaber's rope and used it to haul the skiff up behind him. Everyone Levitated or climbed up the cliff to the Fishers' cave, which contained 4 dead and/or unconscious giant lobsters, and a pile of debris. Zaber searched the debris, and found some coins and a fire opal. Seépravir cast Seek Magic, and found a wand that Zaber had missed. A few lobster bits were removed for eating on the trip home, and everyone headed back down to the water then rowed back upstream to the beach, then went up the elevator to the top level of the dungeon, then walked back to Cillamar.
This session was basically a parley, two fights, some playing with boats and elevators, and some searching for treasure.
The parley went okay. Vulgaris didn't really want to fight the PCs again, since they defeated her last week with her elemental allies, so she was unlikely to win the same fight without them. The PCs didn't really want to fight her again either. At this point they seem to have an uneasy truce.
The derro weren't friendly but weren't really a match for the PCs either. They got a few crossbow shots and spells off, and took a bunch of arrows and katana chops and Concussion spells in return. It would have been more fun to have this fight in mid-air from elevator baskets, with the prospect of lethal falling damage, but the party took the long way down, and earned a lot of character points on the way.
The cave fishers were a neat fight, but really needed surprise to hit 4 PCs at once. Without surprise, Garreth was able to chop whichever filament grabbed someone, while Polly kept a steady stream of arrows flying, and Seépravir kept stunning the fishers. Zaber's role in this fight was pretty simple: hold the boat steady so that Garreth was free to use his katana to chop filaments.
Finding the bottom of the elevator whose top they found long ago was a fun bit of closure. The players had discussed going down the elevator a few times, but hadn't ever gotten around to it. Now it provides a multi-level shortcut, avoiding hiking through three dungeon levels, which probably matters to the PCs more than to the players, since we mostly fast-forward through that stuff unless there's a wandering monster encounter.
Overall it was a profitable trip, with the Folding Boat, the wand, several repeating crossbows and suits of derro-sized mail, and a bunch of coins and gems found.
The other accomplishment this session was figuring out how to share the skiff-full-of-PCs token among all players, so whoever was rowing the boat could just push one token in roll20, without everyone else having to constantly maintain their position in the boat. We may decide to use this technique in the future to keep everyone in formation on dry land. Or maybe not, if everyone needing to drag their token around is more fun.
Freezing, light snow
Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 244 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 289 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 282 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 266 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 300 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 289 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 282 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 266 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 300 points
Petrified Dark Elfish looking female mushroom farmer
2 Small Earth Elementals
Swarm of Tiny Earth Elementals
We started on the lower troglodyte/ant level of Castle Whiterock, in a hidden ruined temple of some evil frog/toad god, right after opening a secret door into combat with some waiting undead. The undead turned out to be a ghast leader (though most of the PCs couldn't identify it as such) with a weird two-hex scythe, flanked by 6 skeletons with sickles. The undead strategy was to hold the door and keep the PCs from swarming in. This turned out to be a bad strategy, because it allowed Polly to fire arrows into the room. When the other side has a heroic archer and you don't, sitting back is typically a bad idea.
Polly shot a lot of skeletons. Garreth sliced some skeletons with his katana. Elias bashed some skeletons with his flail and this worked extra-well. Meanwhile the skeletons came through the door and attacked with their sickles, but got dodged or blocked or parried.
Eventually, the ghast leader figured out that he and his minions should back up into their secret room, try to get out of line of sight of the archer, and hope to swarm any PCs that came in. Unfortunately for them, by then there were only a couple of skeletons left. Also, Garreth's sacrificial parry allowed him to protect Polly as she ran into the room and kept filling undead with arrows. So, it wasn't much of a fight, though it took a while because of the number of enemies. Eventually the ghast and all 7 skeletons went from undead to just dead.
Besides his scythe, the ghast was wearing a jade holy symbol of the Toadfiend Bobugbulilz, He Whose Name Cannot Be Spelled or Pronounced Correctly. (Elias was vaguely familiar of this evil toad god from his theological studies, but didn't know the exact name.) There was also a desk and a couple of chairs in the corner. Zaber searched the desk, and found a drawer with some coins and black onyx gems, and a keyring with 5 keys on it. He searched it harder, with some help from a See Secrets spell from Seépravir, and found a secret compartment. Inside the compartment was a nice jade box with a glass lid. Inside the box was some slimy stuff. The group decided not to mess with the slimy stuff until they got back to town.
After some more searching of the ruined evil template area found nothing but rubble, the group decided they were done with this level, and should go down. So they all swam through the underwater tunnel from the evil temple to the main part of the level one last time, with weapons wrapped in oilskins for protection, then used some magical fire to dry off a bit before Seépravir stopped maintaining Warmth spells on everybody. (She kept her own though, because she doesn't like getting all bundled up in winter clothing.)
After going down the sloping twisting passage for a while, Zaber saw a big cave ahead, with what looked like several giant flowerpots arranged in neat rows, except full of mushrooms instead of flowers. The room also featured a long vein of purple crystal against one wall. But before he had a chance to investigate the room in more detail, Zaber spotted some kind of rock creature (a small earth elemental) on the other side of the cave, which then saw him and started running over. After a couple of seconds, Zaber warned his friends, and then all gathered to watch the creature. Polly tried talking to it, but it didn't respond, so when it got close enough to attack soon, she started filling it with arrows. When it stopped coming, Zaber snuck out of the passage into the cave to look around, and saw another rock creature, and also a small trilaterally-symmetrical beast (a xorn, like the one previous encountered in the Gnome museum except smaller) and also a swarm of flying dirt, coming right at him.
While everyone else fought the second earth elemental and the xorn, Zaber got chewed up a bit by flying debris hitting his skin. Garreth didn't want to swing his katana at it and possibly hit Zaber, so he told Zaber to run and try to separate himself from the swarm. Polly wasn't as skittish and fired several arrows at the swarm, somehow managing not to hit Zaber. Zaber got a final stab in on the swarm, and it dissipated. With the earth elementals and the xorn and the swarm all defeated, Zaber checked out an exit to the east, where there was another large cave, this one mostly full of mushrooms growing on the ground, with an occasional clear path between the toadstools. And running down the paths, toward the PCs, were a larger rock creature and a wall of water.
Everyone formed up to fight the additional elementals, and Seépravir cast Great Haste on first Garreth then Polly, while Zaber scouted back to the west side of the cave, making sure nothing else was sneaking up on the group through the other exit he'd spotted over there. Polly started shooting arrows at the earth elemental, lots and lots of arrows. It was big and tough and rocky and not obviously possessing any vital organs and so ridiculously hard to kill with arrows, though she did eventually manage to slow it down, giving more time to fill it with arrows before it reached her friends. The water elemental was faster, and came sloshing down the path at the party. Meanwhile a bunch more enemies appeared, some small beings made out of mud, which had excellent camouflage against the surrounding mud that had been caused by a water elemental flowing down a dirt path, so were very hard to see.
The PCs were all bottled up on a narrow path, kind of worried to step off it into the mushroom farm proper. Garreth did step there once, and had to make a DX-2 check, which succeeded. Then Zaber got bored and decided to poke a mushroom with his knife. Oops. There was a big cloud of spores, and everyone nearby had to make a HT check. Fortunately everyone made it, so nobody decided to punish Zaber for his excessive curiousity.
Seépravir decided to cast See Invisible to get a better look at the mud creatures that she'd barely spotted, and also saw behind them something that looked like a beautiful dark elf female, with stony skin, waving a wand. Apparently the wand wasn't working correctly anymore, because she threw it on the ground and started casting spells. Seépravir didn't have any good long-distance attacks handy, so she started casting another See Invisible on Polly.
It took a long time to wear down the super-tough earth elemental and the diffuse and hard-to-hurt water elemental. Meanwhile the mudmen started throwing mud balls at the PCs, and managed to hit Polly with one, sticking her to the ground. Unfortunately for them, she could keep firing arrows. And the stony dark elf looking woman managed to lob a Concussion spell into the group of PCs. (This counted as an attack and dispelled her Invisibility.) Unfortunately for her, all the PCs except Seépravir made their HT-3 rolls to resist stunning, but one of her elemental allies was stunned, so it wasn't a great trade.
Eventually Polly managed to unstick herself from the mud, then used her Jumping skill to jump across a mushroom patch, from one trail to another, and ran up to the stony dark elf to fill her with arrows. Unfortunately for Polly, her first arrow turned around and came right back at her -- the enemy had cast Reverse Missiles. Polly dodged the arrow, stopped firing more, and, having nothing better to do, tried to Slam the wizard. This had no great effect.
Something happened to the mudmen, and they all dissipated. The group finally ground down the earth elemental and water elemental. And Garreth got into katana range of the enemy wizardess, as she drew an edged rapier. She yelled some anti-orcish insults at Garreth, which was a mistake, as this alerted Seépravir that she spoke Common, and then Seépravir got off a Rapier Wit in response, stunning her. She managed to defend herself against his rapidly striking katana a few times, but then failed and was knocked unconscious. After a quick debate, the group decided to tie up their prisoner and bring her back to town.
She woke up, and informed them that she would die if taken away from her crystal vein. The PCs thought she was bluffing, and kept marching her up stairs toward the exit. Three levels up, the unknown dark-elfish-looking woman passed out. At that point the group believed her, and a debate ensued as to whether they should bring her back anyway and possibly kill her, leave her there tied up, let her go, or just kill her. Surprisingly, they decided to let her go, untying her and heading back to town.
This session was basically two big fights. The first one, against the undead, was never much of a challenge because of the undead's subpar tactics and lack of armor. Their goal was to hold the door, but holding the door doesn't really work when facing heroic archers. The skeletons also took double damage from crushing attacks, which turned Elias into a complete wrecker against them. And the ghast leader couldn't last too long against multiple attackers. He fought with his scythe instead of his claws and teeth, so never even managed to paralyze anyone. In hindsight, I probably should have modified their pre-programmed tactics to increase the challenge level of the fight, though the undead were doomed in any case.
The second fight, against the petrified-looking vaguely-dark-elvish woman and her hordes of summoned elementals, was more challenging. She had the good sense to be Invisible, always wise when in the same room as Polly. And she had a nice collection of elemental allies: earth elementals in three sizes, a small xorn, a big tough water elemental, and a pack of mudmen. The environment also added to the challenge, with everyone bottled up on a narrow path, because stepping off the path into the mushrooms risked kickup up spores, that possibly did something bad. (The players don't know exactly what, because the one time that Zaber stabbed a mushroom, everyone made their HT roll.)
There was an interesting final moral dilemma when the creature appeared to not be able to survive away from her crystal vein. I expected Garreth or Polly to murderate her, but somehow everyone made their Bloodlust checks and decided to let her go. So we'll see what that leads to, next time the group revisits that level.
Player Characters:Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 239 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 284 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 277 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 261 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 298 points
Significant NPCs:Carlia, Human Farmer
Jath, Human Child
Clem, Human Farmer
2 Giant Demon Frogs or Possibly Toads
2 Giant Frog or Possibly Toad Skeletons
We started at Carlia's farm in the hamlet of Grainwand, east of Castle Whiterock, on the other side of the mountains from Cillamar. The PCs (minus Garreth) had escorted Carlia and Jath there after rescuing them from the demon frogs. The PCs were concerned about safety of the hamlet, only about 6 miles from the newly discovered stream entrance to the Castle Whiterock. Zaber asked to talk to whoever was in charge, so Carlia sent Jath to fetch her Uncle Clem.
After some discussion over a meal, Clem agreed to try to keep a watch over Grainwand in case more monsters attacked. Seépravir decided to magically close the stream entrance to make it harder for raiders to go that way. Polly thought it made more sense to just kill every evil monster. The PCs then left to return to the caves, with the farmers' thanks. Seépravir sealed the stream entrance with some Shape Earth spells. Polly and Zaber looked for more monsters to kill in the area, but didn't find any. They grabbed some scant leftover treasure from the last visit (the heads of 3 Miner Stonebore Ants, and a couple of spears with a maker's mark that indicated they probably weren't made by troglodytes) and went back to Cillamar to get Garreth.
Garreth had spent some time in jail for allegedly being drunk and disorderly in public, though he maintained his innocence. Lady Chauntessa had used her influence to get him out. So when the others returned to town, he was in a foul mood and wanted to go back to the dungeon and kill stuff. The others agreed, but Seépravir first wanted a bit of time to do some research about the secret Sleep of Ages spell in the Hall of Worms. She didn't find anything.
The group hiked back to the castle again, and resumed searching the troglodyte and ant level. Scouting ahead, Zaber and Polly found an underground stream, leading in an unknown direction. They went back to get their friends, and Zaber asked Seépravir to lend him the Ring of Water Breathing and cast a Warmth spell on him. (Swimming in winter is no fun without one.) She agreed, and also cast Invisibility and Mage-Stealth. Zaber left his best knife and lockpicks behind to avoid getting them wet, then swam down the tunnel. About 10 yards in, he heard some splashes, then saw a couple of giant frogs or maybe toads swimming toward him. He decided to flatten himself against the side of the tunnel and hope to out-stealth them, since there was no way he could out-swim them. This worked; the frogs never noticed him, continued to the end of the tunnel, and hopped out of the water.
Fortunately for the frogs, they gained surprise. Unfortunately for the frogs, they were outmatched. Polly got bit a little, but her armor reduced the damage. Then all the PCs made their rolls to recover from mental stun, and it was a 4-on-2 battle. Garreth chopped up frogs, Polly shot arrows at frogs, and Elias was annoyed that the frogs were down before he had a chance to flail them. By the time Zaber came out of the water to help, the battle was over, so he told his friends (who couldn't see him) that he was okay, then swam back into the tunnel again.
This time, he made it to the end of the tunnel and emerged into a dry room. It contained some mosaics featuring a giant frog-toad-demon thing smashing Cillamar, a big water-filled pool, a big mostly-dry pit, an iron door, and a couple of giant frog (or possibly toad) skeletons. Zaber watched the skeletons for a while, and thought he saw one of them move. He snuck past them, and tried to pick the lock on the iron door with his backup lockpicks, but failed. He then snuck back to confer with the others.
With 5 PCs and only one Ring of Water Breathing, everyone else was going to have to hold their breath and swim fast. Not wanting them damaged by water, Polly and Elias left their bow and crossbow behind. Seépravir cast Warmth and Dark Vision on everyone who didn't already have them, and then the group went down the tunnel together, with Garreth shepherding Elias (in case he had problems climbing up the steep slippery far side) and Seépravir bringing up the rear, ready to cast Levitation on anyone who passed out.
Everyone made it in reasonable shape, but the frog skeletons saw them coming, and moved to attack. Fortunately for the skeletons, Polly didn't have her bow. Unfortunately for the skeletons, this time it was 5 vs. 2. Elias's Flaming Flail had somehow remained Flaming all the way through the swim. He shield bashed a frog skeleton to the ground, then flailed it to re-death, while it chewed on Polly a bit, temporarily reducing her HT. Meanwhile Garreth hit the other one hard with his katana, knocking it into the pool. Zaber, probably foolishly, decided to jump in after it and backstab. This didn't do quite enough damage to finish it, and now Zaber was underwater and visible, facing an opponent that didn't need to breathe. Fortunately, the pool was shallow enough that Garreth could hit the skeleton frog from the shore with his katana, and the reduced hit chance and damage from swinging into water weren't enough to keep him from re-killing it.
Everyone did some searching, but then Polly got antsy away from her bow, and decided to swim back to it. Garreth followed her to keep her from being alone. Elias had noticed that the room had reduced sanctity, possibly due to the unholy frog demon mosaics, and did some extensive destruction with his Flaming Flail. (It possibly made him feel better, but didn't fix the sanctity level.) Zaber did some more searching, and managed to pick the lock on the iron door with his fine lockpicks. But then Zaber and Elias and Seépravir decided to swim back and join the others, rather than opening the door without their friends.
With Polly not wanting to go into the water again without her bow, the group decided to take a sloping passage down to a new level. Unfortunately, technical difficulties ensued with the next level's map. Roll20 had lost my last set of changes, including all the line of sight blockers, so the players could see through walls. Polly let me know, and I moved everyone back upstairs and announced we had to stop early, since there was only an hour left in the session and it would take me most of that to fix the map. Someone suggested that they instead go back to Cillamar and try to buy some oilskins to protect bows from water. Everyone agreed that made sense, so everyone hiked to Cillamar again. They made their availability roll and were able to find some expensive, weapons-grade oilskins. Polly and Garreth each bought some, and then everyone walked back to the castle again. (This session set a new record for Hiking rolls, though the last couple weren't really needed since I was secretly skipping the wandering monster rolls that the Hiking rolls influence, due to the extra trip being needed only because of technical difficulties.)
The group went down the underwater tunnel again, this time with Polly's bow and Garreth's katana waterproofed, and with Seépravir rather than Zaber having the Ring of Water Breathing. Everyone made it across okay, and then weapons were unpacked, and the iron door opened. It opened to a vestibule, containing some rotten robes and rotten whips and another iron door. Elias thought the robes and whips looked unholy, and wanted to burn everything. Seépravir pointed out that burning needed to wait until after searching for treasure, but nobody found any. Zaber picked the lock on the second door, which was easier than the first one.
The door opened into a chamber featuring a lot of rubble on one end, and a shallow pool with an evil-looking frog statue and a couple of low pedestals on the other end. The sanctity level was even lower here, feeling to Elias like an evil place. Garreth eventually decided to approach the statue. Predictably, it was trapped. Three different supernatural traps went off. Somehow, he dodged two of them and resisted the other, and was not affected. He knocked the statue over into the water, then went looking at the pedestals. There was dried blood on the walls behind both of them, and an old article of clothing (identified by Elias as a tabard of Justicia) and a reed doll behind one of them. Garreth looked around for a while, then borrowed Elias's flail to bash the statue some more. The traps had apparently reset, and he had to dodge two and resist a third, again. He made all three rolls, again, and then spent a couple of minutes reducing the statue to rubble.
Zaber searched all around the pool, but didn't find anything else. Polly also searched all around, and found a secret door that Zaber had somehow missed. (It was really well hidden, and he rolled a 17.) Nobody could figure out how to open the door (and Zaber insisted that was because it wasn't a door just a normal crack in the wall), until Seépravir cast See Secrets on Polly. This let her see the three catches that were used to open the door. Three PCs each moved a catch in unison, the secret door swung open, and we were out of time.
I revealed that something nasty and undead was behind the door, that they didn't have time to fight it, and we would start next session with the combat. So, tune in next time to see what's trying to kill them.
Most of our game sessions start and end in Cillamar, usually with about 30 minutes in town, then a hike to the dungeon, then 3.5 hours of dungeon, and finishing with an offscreen hike back at the end. (The players have figured out that I don't roll for wandering monsters on the way back to town if we're out of time.) This one was a little different due to extra roleplaying time in Grainwand, then extra travel, first from the hamlet of Grainwand back to Cillamar to get Garreth, and then another trip to Cillamar to buy oilskins. There was also quite a bit of messing around underwater. So this session was a bit light on combat and a lot light on treasure, though the PCs still made good progress.
I had spent a bunch of time in Roll20 mapping the next level down and placing monsters, and apparently the last bit of that work was totally lost. Implicit save means you never really know if your save happened, unless you exit all the way out and recheck from scratch, and I forgot to. I was mildly annoyed to lose about half an hour of work, and super-annoyed that I didn't discover it until during play. But the suggestion to go get oilskins and re-try the area at the far side of the underwater tunnel worked out, so the technical difficulties didn't really cost us much play time.
Seépravir's decision to cast Invisibility on Zaber before he went down the underwater tunnel alone probably saved his life. On land, those two frogs were not much of a match for the other four PCs. But in the water, against just Zaber? He probably would have been eaten. But the combination of Invisibility, Mage-Stealth, a good Stealth roll versus the frog's Perception (even if they couldn't see or hear him, they still got a chance to smell him), and his wise decision to hide rather than backstab as they went by meant he was totally fine. Splitting the party is always scary.
I asked the group twice when they were in town if they needed to do anything with any items, and they still forgot about the jade drum they found last time, until after they were back in the dungeon and it was too late. (Well, they could have taken another trip back to town, but there was enough hiking in this session already.) They've been carrying around jade harp strings forever, but didn't bother to make them into a harp before, because they didn't have the drum. It's often sound economics to postpone expenses as long as possible, but it can also make sense to do things when you remember, because you might forget later.
Player Characters:Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 235 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 272 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 256 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 294 points
Significant NPCs:Lady Chuntessa, Innkeeper and Historian
Elder Brother Sampson, Cleric of Elyr
Tyber Lasir, Half-Elf Arms Dealer
3 Giant Miner Stonebore Ants
3 Bat Swarms
2 Frog-Trainer Troglodytes
6 Giant Demon Frogs or Possibly Toads
1 Huge Troglodyte-Frog-Toad-Demon Boss
Carlia, Human Farmer-Prisoner
Jath, Human Child-Prisoner
The cold snowy weather weather continued in Cillamar. Winter is here in the northlands.
Elias went to Elder Brother Sampson to report the lich sighting and ask for paladins to help eradicate the presumably evil undead. Sampson told Elias that all the Holy Warriors were still stuck in the Warlands, probably for the rest of winter.
Tyber Lasir told Polly that he had heard there might be an excellent elven longbow available in the capital Galaron, and Polly placed an order and paid half the price in advance. Of course not many caravans move in the winter, so delivery might take a while.
Lady Chauntessa, having heard crazy rumors of the group's encounter with a lich's library, delivered a note to Seépravir saying that she would pay dearly for information about the secret Sleep of Ages spell.
Zaber went looking for his nemesis Lord Granger Flitwick again, but the lord was still out of town. Rumor said he was spending the winter somewhere to the south.
Garreth was nowhere to be found. Neither was Hugin. So the four remaining adventurers gathered their warm winter clothes and/or Warmth spells, and started trudging through the snow toward Castle Whiterock. They made awful time, but fortunately none of the creatures that prey on travellers wanted to be out in the winter either, so they made it to Lake Whiterock unscathed. At that point they had to choose between walking across the frozen lake or around it. Seépravir and Polly both thought they remembered an elven nursery rhyme that said that walking across lakes before December would result in falling through thin ice and freezing to death and being eaten by fish, so they went around.
Once they reached Castle Whiterock, the group decided to immediately go downstairs, where it might be warmer. They made it down to the cave where they'd killed the queen ant, because Polly thought the queen ant's head might be worth money. But the queen's corpse was gone. Whether it had been carried away respectfully by her surviving ant subjects, or eaten by random scavengers, nobody was sure.
Zaber noticed a suspicious stone in the ant cave, about 15 feet up. He and Polly climbed up the slippery walls, and found that it was indeed blocking a passage, but was hard to move. Seépravir threw a few Earth to Air spells under the rock, loosening its perch on a ledge, and it crashed to the floor with a mighty boom. While she was resting to recover from the exertion of casting the spells, a couple of giant ants showed up to investigate, but they immediately ran away when they saw the intruders, and the group decided not to chase them.
Seépravir Levitated herself and Elias up to the newly discovered passage, and the group walked north until they saw a large cave, featuring an underground stream, some giant ants, and a whole lot of bats. Both the ants and several swarms of bats charged at the intruders. Polly started shooting the onrushing bat swarms with cutting arrows, but each arrow only took out a few bats, so the swarms continued. One of the swarms attacked Zaber, but didn't manage to bite though his light armor. Seépravir dropped some smoke, which slowed down the bats, but they eventually came through it, and one swarm bit her pretty badly.
With no bat swarms in line of sight, Polly shot a giant ant instead, and knocked it out. One of the bat swarms reached Elias, but failed to bite through his heavy armor. Elias started smacking the swarms with both his Flaming flail and his shield, killing or chasing away many bats. Zaber stabbed a few bats as well with his knife, and then Seépravir cast Create Fire on the last swarm of bats and burned them away. The last surviving giant ant ran away -- apparently these ants were not as brave as the previous groups.
With the ants and bats gone, Zaber wanted to explore the stream, so he asked Seépravir for a Warmth spell and the Ring of Water Breathing. Seépravir cheerfully cast the spell, reluctantly lent him the ring, and Zaber went for a dunk. The stream was pretty boring though -- no monsters, no treasure, and it narrowed pretty soon, in both directions.
Elias cast Stop Bleeding to partially heal Seépravir's bat bites, and then the group continued exploring to the east. They found a lot of empty passages, and moved another big rocks, before Elias (working with only the limited light radius of his Flaming flail, rather than Dark Vision like everyone else) blundered away from the group. First he found a passage leading down to another level, and then he found a giant cave containing a stream and also some troglodytes and giant demon frogs.
The group eventually got back together, in time to face the trogs and frogs. The trogs unleashed the usual stench attack, and Zaber was nauseated (-2 to DX, -1 to defenses), but not actually retching. Then the trogs started encouraging the frogs to attack the PCs, while Polly started shooting arrows.
Polly's first arrow was critically dodged by a trog, but there was a frog right behind the trog, and she scored a lucky hit on it. Seépravir cast Great Haste on Polly, increasing her rate of fire from a ridiculous 2 arrows per second to a downright stupid 4 arrows per second. Elias waded in with flail and shield and did some blocking and some bashing. Zaber threw a knife at a trog and critically hit it for moderate damage. Zaber also heard a human woman screaming in Common to the north, but didn't have time to go that way yet.
While Polly kept shooting things, Elias smacked a stunned trog twice with his Flaming flail and killed it. Seépravir put a Great Haste on Zaber too. The last badly wounded frog passed out, and then the group turned their attention to the screams to the north.
Getting to the north required crossing a stream. Polly and Zaber and Elias all jumped over it. Seépravir Levitated instead. Eventually they all reached a cave, where three more demon frogs were menacing a woman and a child. That meant they were facing the wrong way, so Polly started shooting them in the back. She took down two, Zaber killed the third one with his knife, and then the two humans were safe from being eaten, at least temporarily. But before the group could rest, the woman yelled to Polly to look out for the big one behind her.
In the stream to the north, there was a huge troglodyte-frog-demon-something, about twelve feet tall. Polly ran around a bit to get a clear shot, then fired some arrows at it, but it dodged and dove under the water, making it much harder to hit. Seépravir cast another Great Haste on Polly, who had used her 10 seconds of super speed. The huge thing advanced underwater, while Polly plugged it with mostly ineffective shots. (-4 to hit and half damage due to water, plus the creature had a lot of DR and a lot of dodge and also regenerated.) Eventually the frog thing reached the edge of the water closest to the party, then popped up and threw an ice ball at Zaber. He failed to dodge it, used his Luck, failed to dodge it twice more, and got smacked for 11 points of cold damage, enough to force his Bless spell to save him. The Bless was gone, but Zaber was miraculously unscathed.
Next, the creature jumped out of the water at Elias and attacked him with its huge tongue, but he managed to block the tongue with his shield before getting to learn what kind of horrible damage that would have done. With the creature finally standing up out of the water where she could get a clean shot, Polly shot it once in each eye. The first shot was a critical hit, working around the creature's inhuman dodge. And once it took an arrow through the eye into its brain, the death spiral began. The stunning and slowing from the first arrow caused it to fail its dodge against the second arrow, for still more brain damage. It rolled a 17 on one of the major wound checks for a brain injury, resulting in a knockout. But, while knocked out, it was still visibly regenerating.
And that point the whole party pitched in to carve up the monster. Polly gave the kid they'd rescued (named Jath) a souvenir arrow, which the kid immediately started stabbing the creature with. Elias used his Flaming silvered flail, but it didn't stop regenerating because of fire or silver. Eventually they stopped trying to think of good ways to stop regeneration, and just resolved to keep chopping until it stopped healing, which eventually worked.
Zaber had spotted some coins and gems in and near the stream, so as soon as the trog frog demon was dead, he went collecting treasure. Among the treasure was a jade drum, which the group had been looking for to help free the air elemental a level up. There was some natural light filtering into the cave from the north, and the woman (named Carlia) said their home was that way, so the group decided to go that way for now, and head back to Cillamar later.
Garreth wasn't available this week, and the party also failed their availability roll for Hugin, so no truly beefy melee fighters were around. This didn't seem to matter a whole lot though, as Polly kept pumping out damage, and Zaber and Elias also got a good few shots in. Seépravir, as usual, didn't bother fighting but just buffed everyone else.
The bat swarms presented some challenge, since nobody has any really good anti-diffuse attacks, but they only rolled decent damage against a lightly-armored character once. The miner ants and frog-trainer troglodytes were pretty wimpy. The giant frogs were not as tough as I expected, probably largely because a Great Hasted Polly kept shooting them before they reached melee range, and they kept failing their Stay Conscious checks. The giant trog demon frog thing was a real challenge, but with all his allies dead, the PCs all ganged up on him, and once Polly got a couple of eye shots in, it was all over.
Besides fighting, the party found a few interesting things this week: a way down to possibly a new level, a deeper entrance to the dungeons, and a jade drum that may be the third musical instrument they need to free the air elemental. Plus of course there's still the lich librarian they found last week.
Testimony of the Order’s Investigation of Castle Whiterock and Efforts to Slay the Wyrm Benthosruthsa
This book was found in a secret room inside the hidden shrine of Justicia, in the underground river level of the dungeons under Castle White...
Date: 2018-05-18 Weather: Cool, cloudy Player Characters: Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 150 (+15) points Garreth ...
Peter mentioned that he was trying to coordinate more stuff with his Felltower group between game sessions over email, so that more of the t...
Date: 2018-06-29 Weather: Hot, partly cloudy Player Characters: Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 196 points Ibizab...