2019-03-10

DF Whiterock Session 41: Return to the Aboleth's Cave

Date:

2019-03-08

Weather:

Below freezing, overcast

Player Characters:

Elias (Wiggles), Wood Elf Cleric, 274 points
Garreth (Zuljita), Half-Orc Fighter, 335 points
Ibizaber (Demented Avenger), Human Thief, 332 points
Polly (Kalzazz), Wood Elf Archer, 316 points
Seépravir (Archon Shiva), High-Elf Wizard, 350 points

Significant NPCs:

Aboleth Wizard
2 Giant Leeches
Lady Chauntessa, Innkeeper and Historian
Quintus, Alchemest and Wizard


We started in the town of Cillamar, on a cold late winter day.

Garreth received a letter saying that the party at the Lord's Gate Citadel (at which he had previously been invited to sing) is next Thursday and to wear red and arrive early and sober.  He asked Lady Chauntessa where the fancy tailors are, and ordered some fancy red clothes.

Seépravir researched the Wight Lady's holy symbol, a skull with a blade through one eye socket, and found that it belonged to the evil god Mulgrim, and probably wasn't a good thing to be carrying.

Zaber went looking for Lord Flitwick again, and found that his town house was occupied, but didn't actually spot him.  Zaber heard a rumor that the Lord Mayor Franz Mentzer killed a dragon in his youth but never talks about it.  Garreth heard a rumor that Master Naburu once defeated eight opponents while totally drunk, and bought a bottle of the hardest liquor he could find as a gift for Master Naburu.

Garreth and Polly both managed to special order rare items: Garreth a suit of Epic Plate of Weightlessness, and Polly a Penetrating Edged Rapier.

Having concluded their town business, Seépravir cast Warmth on everyone (with one critical success, which I ruled didn't count as a spell on for that session), Levitate on herself, and the group traveled to Castle Whiterock.  They made it there unmolested, though did hear some wolves howling in the distance.  At that point Seépravir dropped the Warmths (except the free one on herself) and cast Dark Vision on everyone.

After some debate, the consensus was to go back to the underground river level, and try to explore the hidden underwater passage off the room behind the illusory wall, where the leeches and skum had earlier been defeated.  A brief trudge through the empty upper orc level of the dungeon, one elevator ride, and four Boating rolls later, the group was at the illusory wall.  Everyone carefully headed down the slippery waterslide passage.  Garreth failed his DX roll and went down it a bit faster than intended, ending up in the cold water at the bottom.  Fortunately it didn't contain any monsters, and he made his Swimming roll, so he was just embarrassed and cold, not hurt.

Garreth asked Seépravir for the Ring of Water Breathing and a Swim spell, then swam over to the secret underwater passage to the northwest.  Seépravir Levitated over to a small rock island near that passage to provide support if needed.  Garreth asked Zaber to throw over some of his twine, and used it to connect himself to Seépravir, saying he'd yank twice if he were in trouble.  Then he went into the underwater passage -- and saw two huge leeches.

Garreth drew his knife and waited to see if the leeches would come at him.  They did, so he backed up into the room where his friends could see (and Polly could shoot) to see if they would follow.  One of them did.  Polly managed to put a couple of arrows into it, despite the penalties (-4 to hit, half damage) for shooting at something underwater.  At that point the leech retreated back into the underwater passage where Polly couldn't shoot it.

Garreth followed the wounded leech back into the passage, and stabbed it with his knife.  Combined with the arrow damage, that was enough to put it under 0 HP, and it failed its consciousness check.  Garreth kept stabbing it until he was sure it was dead.  The other leech was in the back of the cave, not coming forward to fight again.  Garreth swam at it.  The leech had taken a Wait maneuver to bite him when he got into range, and rolled a 4 for a critical hit.  Garreth used his Luck to make it reroll, turning that critical hit into a miss, but that meant his Luck was gone for the next hour.  Which was important, because the Invisible Aboleth Wizard in the cave behind the leech decided that was a good time to use its Mind Control power on Garreth, and became visible in the process.  Garreth got a Will-1 roll to resist, and rolled a 5, resisting easily.

The leech tried biting Garreth again, and he retreated and dodged.  The Aboleth tried another spell and rolled a 5, a critical success.  This meant no chance to resist, but Garreth's Bless intervened to deny the critical success, and then went away.  So now Garreth had neither Luck nor Bless active.  He fled the underwater passage and fled back to the big pool outside, where his friends could see him.  Neither the aboleth nor the leech followed, so there was a break in the combat.  Garreth climbed back onto the short and asked Elias to cast a new Bless on him.  (Only +1, as +2 costs 50 FP so involves a very long and elaborate and fatiguing ritual and a full power item and Seépravir casting Lend Energy a lot, that is best done somewhere safe.)  It took 3 tries (Elias's spell casting rolls are not great while he has -3 for 3 other Blesses up) but neither sea monster interrupted, and eventually Garreth was Blessed again.  Polly had been standing guard with her bow pointed at the entrance to the underwater cave the whole time, and her arms were getting tired.

Garreth tried taunting the aboleth into coming out by saying rude things in Undercommon, but that didn't work.  The group talked tactics for a while.  Sending one person in alone with Swim and Water Breathing didn't seem ideal.  Those spells were too expensive to put on everyone at once, plus bows don't work underwater.  So Seépravir came up with a plan B: dig a dry tunnel to the cave behind the underwater passage, using Shape Earth.  If they had the distance and angle right, it would take a couple of hours of casting and resting to regain FP to make a 6' wide by 6' tall dry entry to the cave.  Before she started digging, Zaber asked Seépravir to cast See Invisible on him, so he could watch for the aboleth sneaking up on them Invisibly.  They decided the best place to start the tunnel was back up the waterslide to the northeast.  Garreth went with Seépravir to guard her while she cast Shape Earth and rested, while the others stayed near the bottom of the waterslide to watch for monsters.

Sure enough, when Seépravir only had the tunnel about a tenth done, a huge Invisible head slowly peaked out of the underwater passage.  Zaber had managed to stay alert enough to see it, despite guard duty being boring.  (I made him roll Will to be a good sentry, since he has Laziness.)  He aimed his crossbow and alerted Polly.  Polly didn't have See Invisible, but fired blind anyway at the area where Zaber pointed, and managed to hit even with the -10 for not being able to see the target.  The aboleth used Deflect Missile to parry it.  But Polly has Extra Attack, and blocking spells can only be used once per turn, and the second arrow was also on target, so the aboleth had to dodge the second one.  Somehow it did, with a huge splash.

The aboleth retaliated by using its Mind Control attack on Polly, figuring her rapid and accurate archery would better be used on the other puny invading land-creatures than on himself.  Polly made her Will-1 roll to resist, by the skin of her teeth, needing both the bonus from her Bless and the bonus from her Cloak of Resistance.  This attack dispelled the Invisibility and let Polly and Elias also see the aboleth clearly.

Zaber decided to join the missile party and fired a crossbow bolt at the aboleth's huge eye.  His shot was accurate, but it dodged.  Polly followed up with two bodkins with Continual Light on them, also going for eyes.  The aboleth Deflected the first one and dodged the second.  (It was rolling really well on the dodges so far.)

The aboleth tried to Mind Control Polly again, and she resisted again.  The leech swam towards the human and elves on the shore.  Garreth headed down the water slide to join the fun, and this time didn't fall.  Seépravir moved down a bit too, and cast Great Haste on Polly to increase the rate of fire from silly to ridiculous.

Zaber put his hand crossbow away (since it takes forever to reload) and drew his knives.  Polly fired four arrows at the aboleth's eyes.  It Deflected the first one, but then its luck ran out with dodges, and it took the other three arrows to its eyes.  The first eye hit caused a stun check, but no stun.  The second arrow, in the other eye, rolled maximum damage and crippled an eye.  The third hit, back to the first eye, caused stun and knockout checks.  Somehow the aboleth made all its rolls and was not stunned, but it was down an eye, slowed (half move and dodge) for being below 1/3 of its HP, and making a knockout check every turn it did anything for being below 0 HP.

The aboleth all-out defended and retreated back into the underwater tunnel, out of line of sight.  The leech kept coming, and attacked Elias.  He had taken a Wait, though, and got to attack first.  He smashed the leech up with his Flaming flail, taking it to 0 HP and also stunning it.

Garreth kept moving closer.  Seépravir cast Great Haste on Garreth.  Polly put some arrows into the leech and made it bleed more, but it was still thrashing.  Elias smashed the leech with his flail again, but didn't quite kill it.  Garreth took the Ring of Swimming from Zaber.  (He still had the Ring of Water Breathing on.)  Zaber moved into Elias's hex to get within knife reach of the leech, and stabbed it.  Then Elias hit it for the third time, and that was finally enough to finish it off.  Blood everywhere.

Garreth swam, quickly, toward the underwater tunnel and the badly wounded aboleth to try to finish it off.  When he got to the tunnel, he saw an amusing sight: the aboleth was unconscious.  (After retreating out of sight, it wanted to cast Invisibility again, but that required a HT check to say conscious first, and it rolled a 16.  Oops.)  Garreth finished it off, with no more dice rolls needed.

Behind the underwater passage was a dry-ish cave, with some stale humid air, and a bunch of glyphs on the walls in an unknown language.  Some of the glyphs appeared to involve precious metals.  Garreth, who was wet and didn't have a Warmth spell on, was getting pretty cold.  He went back to the others, and Seépravir cast Warmth on him to stop the freezing, and then they discussed whether to have everyone swim over, passing the rings around, or whether to finish the dry tunnel.  Everyone swam over, with Polly packing her bow in oilskin first to protect it.  While sliding past the aboleth's corpse, Polly found a magic amulet, and took it.  And Elias found a (non-magical) pearl on a chain, and took that.

When the whole group was in the aboleth's cave, Elias cast Gift of Letters on Seépravir, allowing her to read Aboleth, and she found that the glyphs on the walls were spells.  A lot of spells.  Seépravir cast Warmth on the other three (starting a fire in the cave seemed like a bad idea since there wasn't necessarily a lot of air), then decided to finish the tunnel from this side, avoiding digging through any of the glyphs.  Eventually she finished it, which solved the air problem and also allowed walking rather than swimming out.

Unfortunately nobody had any dry paper to write spells on.  Also, the group suspected that some aboleth bits might be worth money, but nobody was sure which parts.  So, rather than just going back to town and asking and then coming back next week, they decided to have Seépravir cast Flight and Invisibility on Zaber and send him back fast.  (She has Flight at 20 but not 25, so it costs her 1 FP per minute to maintain, so she can keep it going for a while on one person using a combination of FP and ER and Recover Energy, if she's not doing anything else.)

Zaber flew out of the dungeon (at Move 10) without encountering anything, then flew all the way back to Cillamar unmolested, then entered the Inn of the Slumbering Drake, still invisible.  He surprised Lady Chauntessa, who recovered and asked some questions about the aboleth.  Zaber decided to slap himself (gently) to make the Invisibility go away to stop freaking people out, then discussed things further with Chauntessa, then walked over to Quintus's tower and asked if he wanted any aboleth parts.  Quintus said that he'd like the aboleth's head, but that it must be kept wet and cold, and provided some notebooks as a down payment.  Zaber asked if Quintus could make him Invisible again for the return trip, and it turned out that Quintus did know that spell, and grudgingly complied.  

Zaber flew back to the dungeon, Elias cast Gift of Letters on Seépravir again, Seépravir used the Copy spell to copy the spells from the glyphs into a notebook (translating from Aboleth to Common in the process), and then Seépravir made a Surgery roll (using Garreth's Penetrating Katana rather than a puny little scalpel because aboleths are big) to remove what was left of the head in one piece.  Everyone headed back to Cillamar with the aboleth head in a wheelbarrow.


GM's Comments:

The aboleth was the nastiest foe the party has fought so far.  Though less nasty this time than before, since they killed all his skum minions last time, leaving him with only a couple of leeches.  Not having a huge group of skum to command greatly reduced the penalty on his Mind Control ability, though, making the resistance roll Will-1 this time, pretty nasty.  Fortunately for the group, Garreth only failed his resistance roll once and his Bless prevented it, and Polly never failed hers.  Also fortunately for the group, the aboleth didn't know Missile Shield or Reverse Missiles, only Deflect Missile, which only stops one arrow per turn.  Once Polly got some eye shots though, the aboleth was in deep trouble.  Then it rolled horribly on its consciousness check before it could enable its last ditch defensive plan: turn Invisible, make an illusion of itself, send the illusion out to fight and "die", and then sneak out to hide somewhere else on the level and heal and recruit more minions.

Now the PCs think they've totally cleared the underwater river level.  So they get to choose between going back to the pyramid, exploring the rest of the huge cave, or messing around with the alleged dimension gate to some forest realm.  We'll see what they pick next time.

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