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Here for a while
(1/1/03 10:46 am)
Session Eight
The Descent Into the Pit
The group decides to leave well enough alone and stop doing anything with the strange altar. They do, however, keep the items found in the statue. Upon reaching the pit room, Sylvan and Adriana immediately notice the missing statue. This was a stone block maybe one third the size of the pillar in the altar room, found earlier in the fight with Ysslansh and Geynor Ton. The missing item disturbs them. The circular stone plug still lies against the north well.

Verilia decides to keep watch on the top level of the moathouse with her animal companion, Swift, who is too large now to go down into the pit with the rest of the party. She angrily reprimands Sylvan on his comment, "Do you have a pooper scooper large enough for that thing?"

{DM Note: Verilia's player, my wife, had an emergency at work this night. Drat!}

Aldoroc pulls on the ropes in order to pull up the platform, hoping that it did not get seriously damaged in the fall. Previously, in an effort to dislodge Ysslansh from the platform, Kale had cut one of the four supporting ropes. Ysslansh, in response, dropped the platform to the floor below in order to gain surprise on his attackers above.

Once Aldoroc raises the platform to the floor level of the room, Kale holds the two ends of the rope together so that Adriana can repair it with mending. Sylvan offers, but the group does not want to wait the fifteen minutes for him to prepare an open spell slot. Adriana, the sorceress, on the other hand, has nothing but open spell slots.

The dwarven cleric of Moradin, Shangor, leans over the side of the pit and looks down. With his darkvision, he barely sees the top of the floor sixty feet below, but sees enough to note that it is convex and curves away from them, as if round. He also notices the two tunnels, one from the east emitting a stream of water that hits the top of the floor below, and one from the west. He surmises correctly that the stone plug could be fit in the pit and cause it to fill up with water, if further sealed by a stone shape spell, for instance.

As the group descends they decide to investigate the two tunnels. They try the one without the stream of water first. Using a shortened spare rope, Corwyn ties himself to the center rope on the platform and leaps across to the tunnel. Rather, he attempts the leap, but amazingly fails and drops five feet, swinging precariously from the rope. Aldoroc raises the platform enough to allow Corwyn the chance to just swing over into the tunnel. Shangor chuckles to himself, after seeing the elf safe, of course, "Come on, lad. Ye cannot e'en jump five feet! How do ye expect to be considered a respectable ranger?"

Corwyn mumbles disparaging comments about Shangor's lineage and searches to the end of the corridor. He finds nothing of interest down there, however. Further investigation of the tunnel with the stream is called off and they descend to the rounded floor below. On the way, Shangor notices a similar set of pulleys in the ceiling of this large cavern about 20 feet to the west. More ropes hang down, likely to another platform, although the platform is not visible.

At the bottom, the party notices a purplish tinge to the rock and the bulging veins. The convex surface is circular with about a fifteen foot radius. The chamber itself, however, is far larger, extending almost sixty feet away. Kale steps onto the surface briefly, "Do you think it's safe?", sees the movement in the veins and quickly steps back. "Guess not." The surface is so strange that even Shangor cannot discern the nature of the stone, if stone it is. It bears a strong resemblance to metal, something in the specular highlights. Adriana pulls her winter clothing tighter about her body, muttering, "It's ice cold in here! Brrr!" Everyone else mumbles agreement as they too feel the unnatural chill in the air. Even the endure elements spell from Adriana does little to ward off the freezing temperature.

In gratitude for being resurrected the previous day, Spugnoir furnished everyone with potions of levitation. He did this with the money he made from selling the stalwart eye. Kale pulls out his potion and drinks it, planning on levitating up to the pulleys on the ceiling. He moves quickly across the surface and steps off near the ropes that are hanging down. The veins move towards him, but he does not otherwise feel any effect. He levitates to the ceiling and takes a look at the pulley system. He then pulls off his gauntlets and boots, quaffs a potion of spider climbing, and starts moving across the ceiling. He positions himself standing upside down on the ceiling amidst the pulleys and yanks on the ropes until he figures out which one is likely pulling up the second platform. Eventually, his plan succeeds as Shangor yells up from below, "Aye, lad, that's enough."

Aldoroc says, "Wait here till I lock down the platform," then runs over to the second platform and ties it off. Suddenly, a gigantic grayish brain with an ochre beak and ten long spiked tentacles floats up next to the platform and attacks Aldoroc with a tentacle. It slashes across his unprotected face, but Aldoroc shrugs off the effects of the paralysis. In response, Kale levitates down twenty feet and pulls out Soulmover, his newly crafted composite longbow. Adriana glares murderously at the foul creature and fires a volley of magic missiles into it. Before anyone else can respond, however, the grell swipes with all ten tentacles at Aldoroc and follows with a vicious bite from its beak. A few tentacles bypass his armor and the stout fighter stiffens from the paralytic effect. Sylvan murmurs a magical incantation and manages to slow the grell as the others rush to Aldoroc's aid. The grell manages to flee further down into the chamber, suffering from many wounds, including an arrow from Kale and another magic missile from Adriana. Fortunately for the monster, it moves out of even the dwarf's visual range before getting killed, despite the slowness at which it moves.

After waiting for the paralysis to wear off -- Shangor was not prepared to handle such a contingency -- the group gathers on the second platform and continues down, with Aldoroc manning the ropes. Sylvan lights a sun rod and peers over the edge of the platform, trying to see down. Surprisingly, Sylvan is still under the fox's cunning spell and neither he nor anyone else comments on how excellent a target he makes of himself. The rest of the party peers around in wonder at the massive obelisk that they had previously considered the floor. They are even more astounded below when they realize the obelisk comes to a point, though they cannot see the point clearly. The cold still permeates their clothing and protective spells.

A hundred feet off the actual cavern floor, Sylvan fails to resist a hold person spell. Corwyn pulls the other elf closer to the middle of the platform and Aldoroc continues to lower it, slowly, to the ground. Shangor grumbles, "Bloody elf wizard cannot resist such a simple spell."

The Fight With Festrath
As the platform reaches the bottom, Sylvan is still held. A crazy fellow in a thick purplish black robe bellows, "Wilson! Kill them! You, too, my pets!" and casts bane. A mean-looking crocodile with red beady eyes and ridged back moves up by Aldoroc and takes a huge chunk out of his leg. A similarly fiendish large rat also moves up from a hidden spot and tries to bite Kale. Festrath himself then moves up in a flanking position with the crocodile and swings his short sword at the head of Aldoroc. The grell then comes around from the other side of the pillar that is holding up the obelisk and swipes a tentacle at Adriana. The tentacle hits, but Adriana shrugs off the effects better than Aldoroc could. Aldoroc stiffens in remembrance as Shangor applauds, "Aye, lass, that's how you do it." The grell, on the other hand, looks remarkably better than a few minutes ago; most of its wounds have healed.

Throughout the combat, Festrath mutters to himself, to his summoned monsters, and especially to Wilson, which is apparently the grell. The fiendish crocodile and rat do not last long under the attentions of Corwyn, Aldoroc, and Kale, especially when Corwyn performs an exceptionally powerful sneak attack on the crocodile. Two things are sure in life: death and you don't want Corwyn flanking you with both weapons in hand. Sylvan recovers from the hold person relatively early in the fight and helps Shangor and Adriana take on the grell. As Shangor makes the killing blow, Festrath freaks out. "Wilsooooooon!" He angrily and wildly stabs at Shangor a few times, but futilely. He soon meets the same fate as his strange companion.

The Unexpected Return
The group stops and takes a few minutes to recover from the battle. No one is seriously hurt. Sylvan, still fuming about his failing to resist the hold person, nevertheless helps the others investigate the symbols of the obex and the flaming sun. Both symbols seem carved into the rock and somehow colored jet black. They find a little plaque near the obex. Adriana casts detect magic and senses magic in both symbols, but cannot discern the school of magic. Sylvan then also casts detect magic, figuring that with his improved intelligence, he has a better chance. Alas, he also fails to determine the school and gripes about the cold interfering with his concentration. Also, he says the attack from the wraith must still somehow be affecting him. Shangor also tries, and fails. Sylvan now takes the time to cast comprehend languages and, steeling himself for a bad reaction, touches the plaque, reading it to himself quietly. He then steps back away from the obex and recites it to the group, "Speak here the name of the Dark Lord and be blessed." Unsurprisingly, no one decides to take up the offer.

Kale moves around the pillar to look at the small pool left by the waterfall. He sees a body half buried in the pool and moves closer to investigate. "Hey, guys, look what I found! There's a body over here...looks somewhat familiar." Before others can follow, however, the body stands up! Although Kale was expecting a reaction from the body, he is very surprised to find out it is Keth, his friend! Rather, it was Keth. This particular undead, now a partially eaten ghast, can no longer be called Keth. Grinning, the ghast whispers in an eerie, croaking voice, "Pleasure to see you again, Kale. Care to join me for a swim?"

{DM Note: Keth was a 4th level monk with very good stats. The ghast template made him very strong and, despite the recent battles, I decided the party could handle it.}

Keth gets the drop on Kale and places a spinning back fist across his face, but Kale resists the parlytic effect in the attack from the water still drenching the monk's fist. Kale also resists the stunning attempt made by the monk. Kale responds by readying his bow and firing an arrow, but misses the well-protected ghoulish monk. "What? Does everything paralyze you around here?" The rest of the party moves closer, with Adriana launching yet another magic missile, now resorting to burning her second level spell slots.

Keth grins at Adriana, "Ahhh...a tasty new treat. Let's have a sniff!" He then tumbles past Keth and Aldoroc and performs a barrel roll over Shangor to strike a knife hand at the sorceress's throat. Yet again, she succeeds at resisting the paralytic touch. Now that the undead monk is in the midst of the party, everyone deciphers the meaning of its words. The stench, however, fails to overwhelm anyone and the fight grimly continues.

Corwyn tumbles to take up a flanking position behind Keth, but provokes an attack of opportunity and pays for his attempt. However, he still manages an attack, and hits, but is rudely denied the extra damage from his expertise in sneak attacking. "Dratted undead!" Kale fires another two arrows into the middle of the melee, one hitting and one Keth knocks away.

Although the ghast primarily targets the weaker melee opponents, the combined efforts of his previous comrades proves too much. With a final hit from Aldoroc, the monk falls to the floor. They notice that his once fine robes of St. Cuthbert now bear a purplish tinge. Perhaps the robes are dyed from the pool of water. Perhaps.

The Blessed Fruit
A search around the base of the chamber reveals nothing else except the strange archway at the eastern end. This archway, carved to resemble a myriad of tentacles, leads to nothing but a black wall. After a detect magic reveals a strong aura, the group wisely decides to leave it alone. They divest the dead cleric of his valuables and finally decide to investigate the pillar.

A rusted metal rung ladder leads up the side of the pillar, about thirty feet to the top. Corwyn goes first, of course, being the expert in such endeavors. "It's odd," he calls down from the top, "the obelisk ends at a point maybe fours inches from the top of the pillar. I see nothing holding it up!" Kale thinks quickly, considering the facts, and concludes that the metal rod torch and the cone shaped incense might reveal something in the area. He lights the torch, noticing the ten foot radius of violet light, almost a blacklight, and passes it up to Corwyn.

Corwyn, still at the top by himself, views the large violet gem holding up the obelisk. It must be as big as his fist. No, bigger. He cannot even begin to appraise its value. He smiles. He grins. Then he chuckles to himself, "Now, that's more like it!" Shangor bellows from the base of the pillar, "What is it, lad?" However, in response, he hears Corwyn draw his short sword and then hears the torch hit the top of the pillar. Shangor makes it first to the ladder and climbs up, but he does not see his long time friend. In the purplish light from the dropped torch, he can also see the gem. "Oh, lad! Ye didn't!"

Fortunately, he doesn't have long to reflect on the disappearance as Corwyn yells out from the top of the obelisk, "I'm okay! I'm up here!" The party picks up the torch, and decides to leave the chamber. They have been in there for almost an hour and it is very cold.

Back in the pit room, Corwyn explains the spherical room, the fact he could see without light, the voice, and the fruit. Adriana obliges Corwyn with another detect magic, revealing the strong aura within the plum-like fruit. Shangor says that he detects no evil within the fruit, but grumbles about its origins and blessings from such an obviously evil place. While still trying to puzzle out the meaning in the words that were spoken, Corwyn decides that he shall accept the blessing and eats the fruit. The rest of the party gapes in shock at the sudden action, and again in surprise when the elf doesn't collapse over dead. Shangor angrily asks, "Are ye daft, lad?"

Corwyn, however, smiles and says, "Well, I don't feel much different. It's very tasty and sweet." Corwyn then points a finger covered in juice at Shangor, "I suppose, if anything, I understand him better." Shangor, still angry at the somewhat rash action of his friend with such an obviously evil blessing, replies, "The sweet taste of the fruit is surrounded by the foul taste of evil. I'd not take any such blessings." With the last word, Shangor spits on the ground.

They meet up with Verilia at the top and tell her what happened. She comments on the items found in the chamber, especially the purple robes from the priest. Sylvan suspects that they ward off the chill somehow. Verilia asks, "Anyone want to put on this robe and I'll cast creeping cold on you?" As everyone declines, Aldoroc and Kale reconsider and decide to go back for the blessed fruit. The torch is still lit, and they go through the same routine as Corwyn. For their efforts, Kale also feels wiser, but Aldoroc feels more agile. The others decide not to partake and they head back to Hommlet to rest and eat a good meal at the Inn of the Welcome Wench.

Here for a while
(1/7/03 4:47 am)
Re: Session Eight
Sounds like a fun session for everyone, Infiniti. I especially liked the party with Keth. I can just imagine the looks on their faces!! Also, I wish someone had taken more than one fruit. My party is the only one I know of that has eaten two or more, and it's fun watching them puzzle out how these things work.:lol Tell Adriana that the interlude is really good, too.

Zag:rollin ig

Here for a while
(1/7/03 1:59 pm)
Re: Session Eight
Thanks for the reply! I was mildly disappointed that no one tried two fruits, though they discussed it. The comments ran along the lines of "Eat another one? What, are you nuts? I don't want to be doubly cursed! Once is plenty." I'm surprised only 3/7 ate the fruit once they knew the reaction. I'm guessing that after a few months, some will make the return journey to get some fruit. Then, I'll surprise them with some more ghouls and ghasts and a few grells. What do you think of a ghoul setting of the grell portal? Multiple times? After all, the ghoul is immune to paralyzation, right? :evil

The guy from Belgium
Here for a while
(1/7/03 2:13 pm)
Re: Session Eight
same in my party, only 2 out of 5 ate the fruit...

and only one piece

but that's ok...

the fun part is, one of the pc's who ate the fruit was also the victim of saying 'tharizdun' while standing on the black sun. He was thus teleported away and said yes after the frist time Big T asked to be set free...

he told the party's paladin about the entire event and the paladin contemplated going to see Big T again by saying it on top of the black sun and when big T would ask HIM if he'd like to set him free... he'd say "go and f*ck yerself nutter"

unfortunately he didn't go through with it... not saying yes after the two questions would leave him cursed after he reached -9

BUT... even after two months, he's still contemplating it and i believe he's gonna actually go through with it one of the next sessions...

that'll bite him... being cursed by big T himself... :evil

Here for a while
(1/7/03 8:57 pm)
Session Nine
The Return to Hommlet
"That sounds much better," Verilia exclaims as she sits on Swift's back overlooking the frozen moat from the drawbridge. "I'm glad we won't be seeing that filthy dragon anytime soon. The birds and other animals are finally returning to the area, though slowly." Swift growled mute agreement with the idea of returning animals, especially those that taste good.

If her friends were listening to Verilia speak, they would hear nothing but soft grunting and growling, not unlike that of a wolf. She was, of course, using her torc of animal speech to communicate with her large animal companion in its native language. Kale was used to the odd conversations by now, but the others, especially Aldoroc, were still unnerved by it.

The party makes the uneventful though chilly journey back to Hommlet. First things first, Shangor steps into the Inn of the Welcome Wench for a spiced mead, the house special drink. The others join him and order a meal consisting of roasted pheasant and rum-boiled artichokes, fresh bread, and cheese. The fresh bread, of course, is being provided by the services of the new miller, recently arrived from Khorasan.

{DM Note: A reminder that Khorasan is the capital city that is nearby, equivalent to Verbobonc.}

In Hommlet, Adriana visits with her Uncle Otho Gyver, who offers wonderful baked goods for her and her friends. Everyone enjoys the desserts as they gather at Spugnoir's laboratory to identify new items and distribute treasures gained from recent explorations.

Everyone spends the following day in preparation for the cold journey to the Temple of Elemental Evil. Everyone is dreading this and although morale is currently high, they expect the worst. Sylvan meditates and arrives at the conclusion that Fate has decided that a member of the group will not return to Hommlet alive. He chooses not to share this knowledge with the party, knowing that nothing they do could alter the fact. Instead, it would only lower morale and cause them to worry about other things out of their control. It takes a special person, a spinner of fate, to handle knowledge about the future, and especially to manipulate it. Sylvan is such a person.

The Way to the Temple of Elemental Evil
The party leaves Hommlet the next morning in good spirits. Corwyn says that he will catch up near the temple as he has some personal business to attend to in the town. As Corwyn wanders away, Sylvan catches something in elven about raiding temples, but he's not sure. The adventurers decide to take the path through the woods, even though it will likely be slower and more dangerous. The benefit of taking this path, however, as Aldoroc reasons, is that they can more easily skirt Nulb. Everyone would rather encounter hobgoblins than the potentially unsavory elements of Nulb. "My longsword does not affect a wraith, or a ghost for that matter, as well it does a hobgoblin," Aldoroc comments. "Perhaps, at the temple, we can uncover more information about the cult activity."

As they approach the final bend in the trail that leads into the forest that evening, they spot a hill. Sylvan muses, "That looks like a good place to eye the surrounding area. We can even setup camp there after we clear the snow." Adriana and Verilia share a two-person tent while the others share a four person tent and Swift sleeps outside.

Watch is determined with Sylvan starting a 4 hour watch and each of the others with an hour watch. Near the end of Sylvan's watch, in the light of the campfire, he spots what resembles a large dog...flying! This particular creature is over four feet high at the shoulder, with dull black fur, and eyes that glow cherry red. As it glides in towards the camp at a height of forty feet, it bays shockingly loud, a sound unlike any the group has ever heard. The baying from the yeth hound frightens Kale, who decides to remain in his tent. It also wakens the party as they respond to the attack in force. Despite it's awesome defenses, the yeth hound is no match for a sorceress with a full complement of magic missile spells. The hound also made the tactical mistake of getting within reach of Aldoroc's magical longsword.

The rest of the night passes easily, and relatively warmly despite the snow on the ground. The snow is only maybe a foot deep, but over the past few days it has developed a crust on top that makes it difficult to walk through. Swift complains about this to Verilia and she performs a cure minor wounds on his front paws, which were starting to show bruising from plowing a path for everyone.

The party passes through the forest on the trail that heads towards Nulb. Halfway through, they hear a rumbling noise as an ankheg bursts through the hard-packed ground and snow, but it only grazes the thick armor on a surprised Aldoroc. As with the yeth hound, the ankheg is swiftly dispatched. However, a few preparatory and unnecessary spells are wasted as the group expected the fight to be far more deadly and longer lasting.

Further on the trail, nearly all the way through the woods, the party meets the roving druid Kella, as she transforms from a large white wolf (almost the size of Swift) in front of their eyes. They sit down and talk with Kella for a couple of hours and exchange some information on the moathouse and Hommlet in return for knowledge on the temple and Nulb. After hearing about the moathouse, Kella comments, "Apparently the dragon you chased from the moathouse didn't leave the area entirely. It has taken up residence in the temple. Almost a month ago, I heard a big battle by the temple so I took flight as a hawk to check it out. I saw the dragon lay waste to a number of goblins and hobgoblins, then take on the large dire ape. When he took down the dire ape, he called for the surrender of the hobgoblins saying he didn't want to kill them. Their leader, a fearsome hobgoblin with a two-bladed sword, surrendered and and now the hobgoblins serve the dragon. The ape was not killed, however, as the hobgoblin shaman was able to heal it quickly enough. The temple is a very dangerous place to go right now, so be careful. There are perhaps thiry or more hobgoblins with at least one shaman and the leader, the ape, and the dragon. I can offer you a little bit of healing for free, but if you need more from a wand I carry, I will have to ask for payment. If anyone has a blunt wooden weapon, however, I can also help you out with a spikes spell, if you so desire. It will last for most of the day." With this, Kella bids farewell and says the she will catch up with them tomorrow afternoon. She shifts into the form of a grizzly bear and swaggers west.

The Smoke Screen
The party slept fitfully that night, as all warriors do before a big battle. The group sets up a cold camp about 100 feet inside the woods, behind some trees. During his watch, Sylvan places Ace, his familiar viper, on a tree near the trail at the edge of the forest. The viper complains about the cold and the absurdity of the request. However, he capitulates, if promised a warm bed and a small rodent for dinner. During the watch, Ace notices a few patrols of hobgoblins moving along the trail, but none enters the woods.

During the early morning hours, the mostly sleeping party is attacked by a large group of monstrous centipedes. Although scary in their own right (four foot long centipedes, who wouldn't be scared), the intruders are readily dispatched. However, a few spells are utilized during the fight, and this might play a role later on during the day.

In the morning, with the information from the helpful druid, the adventurers decide against a direct frontal assault. Sylvan cleverly comes up with the idea of starting a smoky fire just outside the woods, on the trail towards the temple, but about a half mile away. The party will hide behind the trees and the smoke will hopefully draw a few patrols from the temple. These patrols can then more easily be taken out, thinning the defensive numbers at the temple proper.

First, however, Verilia wild shapes into an eagle to scout out the temple. She sees some hobgoblin guards at the gate and some shivering in the cold by the huge bronze double doors. One of them sees her flying only six hundred feet high and points out the eagle to the others.

After setting fire to some soggy deadwood, the group hangs back in the trees. About an hour later, a group of four hobgoblins and two dogs arrive to investigate the source of the smoke. Two of the hobgoblins stand back while the others move forward and the dogs move just past the fire. On the other side of the fire, one of the dogs notices a scent and starts barking fiercely at the trees. Thinking their cover blown, the party attacks. A quick fight ensues and the hobgoblins and dogs are killed. Two of the hobgoblins try to flee, but they cannot outrun Verilia riding Swift, or a deadly accurate arrow from the archer. Soon, the party drags all the dead bodies back into the woods and attempts to erase evidence of what really occurred.

Sylvan asks, "So did we learn anything?" Kale responds, "Yeah, don't give them a chance to get away." Verilia grumbles about the necessity for killing the dogs and blames it on their masters. "They'll pay for this!" She then points out that Adriana could turn someone invisible and have them wait on the other side of the fire. Shangor, the slowest member of the party, volunteers and Adriana accedes to the group's decision.

A couple of hours later, another patrol investigates the source of the smoke. This patrol seems more prepared and carefully approaches the area. They notice some bloodstains and lot of turned up snow. The previously crusted snow shows tracks leading all over the place. Although this group is more careful about an attack coming from the woods, they are not prepared for the onslaught of devastation from the trees and that the dwarven cleric of Moradin, Shangor, is behind them, invisible. This patrol goes down more quickly.

The Dragon Blizzard
The party prepares for one more patrol, thinking that another will probably not even show up. One does, however, in the early afternoon. Unlike the other patrols, this one seems to have a more intelligent leader, and two extra hobgoblins wielding greatswords. As they approach, he sends four of his hobgoblins up front with the dogs to investigate the woods. He motions off to the left and right to supposed invisible comrades, telling them to flank the area. More importantly, he also motions to the sky. This time, Adriana is invisible, hiding out near the trail. She sees the leader motioning to others and wisely decides not to join in the inevitable fight, thinking to gain surprise on any combatants that suddenly become visible. This turns out to be a poor tactical choice on her part as the only one who can see her is not one of her party members.

The battle is relatively quick. The two elite hobgoblin warriors charge into the fray with their greatswords swinging. They fail to even scratch the armor on Aldoroc or Shangor, and cannot withstand the return attacks. Kale fires deadly missile after deadly missile from the cover of the trees. Verilia moves out of the trees atop Swift, riding into the melee against the hobgoblins. Aldoroc cleaves a number of the dogs surrounding him in twain. Sylvan stays at the edge of the fight, guiding a flaming sphere.

Adriana keeps a vigilant eye skyward, to no avail. She does not spot Utreshimon as he flies downward, to hover just above her head. The blue dragon attacks ferociously, using all of his might in a powerful bite and nearly snaps Adriana's arm from her shoulder. She screams in pain, and her lungs fill up with powdered snow as the frozen rain is stirred up all around the dragon, obscuring all vision in a large radius. Hearing Adriana's yell, Shangor and Aldoroc move as fast as possible into the blizzard. Verilia also moves in and dismounts her animal companion. Swift, sniffing out the location of the hated dragon (he still remembers the smell of the dragon and the heated battle at the smelly stone house), moves away from Verilia towards the sounds of battle, without even her command. Kale picks off the last hobgoblin and then looks intently into the snowstorm, readying a shot with his powerful bow. Sylvan moves outside the raging winds into the trees and readies his shortbow. He does not hear the human sneak up behind a tree near his location, waiting for the right opportunity.

Adriana moves away, drawing an attack from the dragon and pays for it. She amazingly manages to concentrate and cast mage armor and get away. Swift attacks the dragon, and bites deeply into its leg, but fails to pull it out of the sky. Unlike the previous battle, Utreshimon is no longer as overconfident and remains hovering in the air in order to keep the missile fire and targeted spells to a minimum. In retaliation for the big wolf's attack, the dragon unloads the full threshold of his fury and nearly slays the wolf outright. Hearing the yelps of pain, Verilia hustles up to the dragon with her sickle, gets bitten once, then wild shapes into a wolverine to burrow away. Fortunately for her, Utreshimon is too interested in the other targets to chase after her through the frozen ground. Gravely wounded, Swift retreats.

Aldoroc finally reaches Utreshimon, and although he cannot see him directly he has a good idea of his location based upon the beating of his wings and the strength of force of the wind. Their fight is over quickly, however, as Aldoroc can no more easily stand up to the blue dragon while blinded than Swift. Fortunately, the combat takes long enough to buy Verilia some time to heal Swift, for Adriana to get away and quaff some healing potions, and for Shangor to move closer. A blinded dwarf in full plate does not move very fast. "Blasted snow! If ye'd stop yer hoverin' and fight me claw to hammer, I'd be happy to slay ye!"

Finally, Shangor reaches Aldoroc and miraculously manages to stabilize him despite the howling wind and the proximity of the dragon. Surprisingly, Utreshimon misses Shangor with all but a claw, and that does not draw enough blood to destroy the dwarven cleric's concentration. Alas, shortly thereafter Shangor also succumbs to the powerful dragon's multitude of attacks. Lacking an immediate opponent, the dragon decides to move off towards the woods and finish off the fleeing sorceress. As he does, the snow slowly settles back to the ground and those inside the storm rub their eyes, trying to alleviate the blindness. This is Utreshimon's tactical mistake number one.

Adriana has moved near Kale, who upon seeing the dragon fires an arrow from his mighty composite longbow. The arrow cuts a deep gash in the dragon, who decides instead to concentrate on the archer rather than the weak sorceress. This is Utreshimon's tactical mistake number two.

He remembers this particular archer, who is a particularly difficult nut to crack. The dragon moves in, taking some magic missiles from Adriana and Sylvan, and bites deeply into Kale. Kale steps back five feet and fires two arrows into the dragon at point blank range. Another volley of magic missiles hit the monster. Verilia orders Swift to stand down and moves over to help Shangor and Aldoroc.

Suddenly, a dire hyena appears near Sylvan and a human cleric steps out from behind a tree to charge the wizard. Fortunately, with the help of Aldoroc, Sylvan manages to easily defeat the cleric, and the dire hyena is largely ineffectual for the few seconds it remains.

Meanwhile, as Verilia finishes tending to the fallen and moves up near the dragon with her sickle, Pop, drawn, she casts creeping cold on him. Utreshimon steps up to Kale and tears deeply into his flesh with a vicious bite, two claws, and two wings, all using power attack. It is not only amazing that all attacks hit, but that Kale remains standing! The dragon is astonished that a puny human can take such punishment. Hemorhaging from the attack and shaking in his boots, Kale considers fleeing but discards the notion and instead takes a five foot step back and launches two more arrows into the dragon at point blank range. Kale fully expects to die, but Utreshimon feels that he has had enough. Before he can flee, however, Adriana burns her last and highest level spell slot to fire a magic missile, and Utreshimon drops to the ground dead.

Here for a while
(1/8/03 12:59 am)
nice battle :D

Here for a while
(1/8/03 1:30 am)
Re: Session Eight
I guess your PCs are just not greedy enough to try more fruit.
Multiple grells to greet greedy fruit-seekers. Nice. Nasty.:evil

Awesome battle, BTW. Makes me want to be a player in your group. Did U. make those mistakes on purpose? They seem conviently well-timed.

Here for a while
(1/8/03 6:49 am)
Re: Session Eight
Thanks for the comments. I had Big U make those mistakes on purpose, though I reasoned that Big U wouldn't think they were mistakes. I decided that he couldn't hover in the trees and he wanted desperately to kill that archer! His goal was to kill Kale and then escape. I figured that Big U's overconfidence was lessened at his defeat by the party. I then figured it was raised again at defeating the hobgoblins and ape and making them his subjects. He did keep the hover going for a while, taking down Aldoroc, Shangor, and forcing Swift, Adriana, and Verilia to flee. He then nearly killed Kale. He was next in initiative after Adriana and was going to burrow (full move) 40', to escape. Unfortunately, he had failed his save vs the creeping cold, so he would have gotten away, only to die.

"Makes me want to be a player in your group."

Thanks a lot for the compliment! Next time you go through Orlando, FL, USA, send me a message. :)

Here for a while
(1/8/03 11:18 am)
Re: Session Eight
Really great read! I agree, it looks like you have a great group of players. Fun variety of tactics! I think you played big U perfectly. It's the same kind of thing I did in the moathouse: do plenty of damage, give the party an opening or two, try to flee. My group got a little more lucky and felled him there. I'm really wishing I had tried to preserve him a little more to keep him for the Temple now after reading a few of these great accounts :)

Can't wait to see how they try to clean the rest out...

"Next time you go through Orlando, FL, USA, send me a message."

Doh! I was just there for a meeting in November. And I was sans family and ate two dinners by myself... blast!

Group Editing & Authoring Support
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Here to stay
(1/15/03 8:37 pm)
Session Ten
The Recuperation
Silence. Near silence. All that can be heard is the hard breathing of the party and the thudding of Kale's heart in his chest, thinking he was to be Utreshimon's next meal. Snow, red with blood, still drifts slowly around the battleground, falling on the unconcerned adventurers and the dragon corpse.

Then, Verilia lets out a muffled, "Is it...?"

"Dead? Yup. Dragon steaks, anyone?" Aldoroc's feeble attempt at humor breaks Kale out of his daze. Aldoroc's chopping into the corpse with his magical battleaxe wakes everyone else.

As the heat of the battle dies down, the druid Kella and the ranger Corwyn hurries appears out of the forest. Kella offers a small amount of healing, but the group decides they need to rest for the remainder of the day and the whole night anyway. The noble adventurers then drag the rest of the corpses further into the woods and loots the bodies. Kella asks Shangor for some help with a desecrated shrine in the forest and they both leave shortly thereafter. Shangor speaks to his friends before leaving, "I understand if ye need to assault the temple in my absence, me friends." Then, mostly towards his longtime friend, Corwyn. "Just ye be careful."

The night passes surprisingly uneventfully. The group seemed to expect trouble, though, and maintained a watch outside the two tents. The two-person tent houses the two women, Verilia the druid and Adriana the sorceress. Verilia's animal companion, the large wolf Swift, remains outside the tent, of course. The four-person tent holds the others, with always at least one person on watch.

The Assault on the Temple
In the morning, the refreshed party heals up, and prepares for the battle ahead. Knowing that the remaining forces at the temple have similarly prepared, Corwyn takes his pots and cooking utensils from Sylvan's bag of holding and prepares a wonderful dragonmeat breakfast.

After eating, the heroes move nervously towards the dark and forboding structure. They approach the huge, bronze double doors of the temple carefully. Kale pulls out Soulmover, his hand-crafted mighty composite longbow, and steps closer to the doors. He struggles to push one open, lights up a sunrod, and tosses it into the vestibule. Nothing. Waving for the rest of the group, he moves further into the temple, until he can see the first set of columns. He turns his eyes away from the horribly grotesque pictures on the walls and the faces scultped into the stone of the floors and columns. Such things are not proper, he thinks, wondering how Heironeous could even let this place stand.

Unnerved by the leering demons and evil visages sculpted on the outside of the temple, Corwyn moves up behind Kale, lending his elven eyesight in support. As Kale kicks the sunrod even further into a huge room filled with columns, stale air, and the stench of decay, a hail of javelins fly towards them. Only two find their mark, however, and the battle is joined.

The hobgoblins maintain their ranks, throwing a second volley of javelins, as warrior hobgoblins move around the flanks, gaining position. The rest of the adventurers hustle into the temple, prepared to fight, as Corwyn picks out targets with his longbow and his enhanced vision. Suddenly, the battle gets fierce as a large primate with grayish hair, yellowed teeth, and huge muscles charges towards Kale. Aldoroc moves up to help, only to be surrounded by a number of hobgoblins, two of them wielding beautiful greatswords. Verilia rides Swift into the middle of the fray, bravely wielding her sickle. Kale steps back to fire a couple of arrows into the dire ape, and Corwyn fights off attackers on the left flank. Sylvan and Adriana stay in the back, lending spell support to their comrades. Adriana shoots a magic missile into the ape, and Sylvan commands a flaming sphere around the room.

As Aldoroc cleaves through a couple of hobgoblins, a particularly large and mean-looking hobgoblin with reddish hair steps up out of the darkness. Wearing chainmail and wielding a two-bladed sword, Rarkus viciously attacks Aldoroc. A female shaman steps from behind a column and casts burning hands on Verilia, Swift, and a fellow hobgoblin, seemingly unconcerned with her ally's health. Swift bites into the ape, but in return the ape tears deeply into the wolf, lifting him up, and nearly rending his front leg from the shoulder.

Sylvan casts slow on the group of enemies, affecting a number of hobgoblins, but not the ape or Rarkus. Normally a very powerful spell, Sylvan considers the aspect of fate that allows the dire ape and hobgoblin leader to throw off its effects. Aldoroc cleaves through a hobgoblin into Rarkus, injuring him. Rarkus, then unloads into Aldoroc with a double slash, one to the left shoulder and one to the right thigh. In the common tongue, Rarkus comments, "Do you think to match blows with me, human? I am Rarkus, the invincible!" In horror, Aldoroc and Verilia notice that some of Rarkus's wounds magically heal, without an apparent source!

Sylvan then steps closer and casts glitterdust in the area, attempting merely to blind Rarkus, the ape, and the remaining hobgoblins. Not only does everyone but Rarkus become blinded, but an invisible combatant is revealed! Adriana shoots a series of magic missiles into the hobgoblin leader as Kale continues his devasting volley of arrows on the ape, taking it down, while Verilia orders Swift away and then kills the female shaman. The previously invisible figure appears to be holding a wand of some sort and taps the fallen ape with it, awakening it into consciousness.

The shaman then manages to command Verilia to sleep and orders the ape to tear the halfling's head off. Fortunately, however, Kale and Adriana focus their combined missile might on the primate and end its threat for good. Meanwhile, Aldoroc and Corwyn take on the leader and knock him down. Corwyn moves over to help Verilia in her vulnerable state, giving Krebbich a chance to heal Rarkus to consciousness. However, the shaman's last attempt at mustering a victory is in vain as Aldoroc buries his axe into Krebbich's chest.

The Surrender
Rarkus drops to his knees throwing down his sword, and surrenders. All of his hobgoblins lie on the floor dead, or bleeding. Even his pet dire ape is dead. "I give up! Don't kill me!"

Corwyn, with a rare frenzy in his eyes, steps over to end the life of the hobgoblin leader, only to be halted by Adriana. "Hold your sword, Corwyn, I think we should hear what he has to say."

"I don't want to hear anything. I'll have nothing to do with this."

Adriana manages to get information out of the leader, having him identify all of the equipment to the best of his ability, and tell the group everything he knows about the temple. He pledges to hold the temple for the adventurers, maintaining a force of hobgoblins -- after he builds one up -- to protect their interests. In order to better fulfill his role, he asks to keep his sword, but Corwyn rejects that idea. Instead, they let him keep all of the normal weapons and armor from his fallen hobgoblins, though not the finely crafted greatswords from the elite warriors. Rarkus then starts cleaning up the bodies, amazingly finding four hobgoblins that must have stabilized during the combat.

Adriana gives Rarkus final instructions, providing him with thirty gold pieces in order to help rebuild a force. Corwyn then threatens to kill Rarkus if he should attempt to double-cross Adriana, or otherwise show his face outside the temple. On that note, the party gathers their loot and begins the long, cold journey back to Hommlet.

Sylvan looks up at the dull gray sky. "Fickle fate. She's not smiling today. It's starting to snow again."

Verilia responds, "It's not fate, it's called nature. Come on, say it with me, nature."

Here to stay
(1/16/03 5:31 am)
Session Eleven
The Spies
The brave heroes left for Hommlet late in the day, so they only traveled a few leagues before stopping for the night. Corwyn cooks up the last of the dragon mean, and everyone dines in relative style in the deepening snow. Shangor is still absent, tending to sacred duties somewhere in the forest with the druid, but the group hopes they meet up in town.

During the third hour of the watch, a yell wakes nearly everyone up. Adriana apparently needs extra sleep, because she fails to hear the sounds of combat from outside her tent. Kella runs into the camplight from the east, yelling about attackers. Two humans wearing armor and a bugbear follow her to the edge of the light and attack. Corwyn looks around briefly for Shangor, not seeing him, and pulls out his bow.

The fight is fast and furious, with the bugbear going down quickly, Baugh going unconscious, and Fisturn attempting to flee into the darkness. Unfortunately for him, however, Kella targets an area of effect icestorm into the darkness and the party is gladdened to hear his dying screams.

Kale stabilizes Baugh, and the group throws the man onto the cart, intending to drag him back to Hommlet to face judgment. Of course, he is first stripped of his equipment and tied up. When asked, Kella informs the party that Shangor could not be interrupted from his work and he is not in danger. Kella says she was tracking the three spies, but was discovered and decided to get help from the party rather than risk fighting all three on her own.

In the morning, Kella leaves in order to continue helping Shangor, and the party continues their journey to Hommlet. On the way to the hill where the yeth hound attacked, the adventurers encounter a fierce dire boar. The battle is brief, but bloody, with Aldoroc losing a large chunk of flesh and clothing in the monster's jaws.

They set up camp just off the road, and spend a chilling but uneventful night under the stars. By morning, the snow has piled up to about two feet deep and the spy awakens. The group questions him for a little bit, learn little except that he works as an agent of Iuz in Kaldor, and his boss is Rethburn the Black. Aldoroc subsequently jams a piece of dirty loincloth in Baugh's mouth and the group makes their way back to Hommlet.

{DM Note: IMC, Kaldor is the nation to the north of Hommlet. Hommlet is actually in between Kaldor and Karacul. Both nations have given Hommlet its relative independence, and neither actually want to claim the land, due to the closeness of the temple. Unlike in Greyhawk, Iuz doesn't have his own nation. Instead, he leads a widespread, chaotic organization devoted to evil, located in little groups around the world.}

The Crafting of a Stone
Baugh is given over to Elmo and put into the dungeons until more information can be ascertained about his past, and his criminal behavior. The party spends a couple of days in town resting, identifying items, and distributing treasure amongst themselves. Verilia decides to purchase a scroll of restoration from Canoness Y'Dey, as a party item. She expects the 800gp to be returned, however.

While Kale is busy crafting some masterwork arrows, a strange man in dark clothes, black hair, goatee, and lavender eyes visits. He introduces himself as Patilion, a member of the Order of the Bow Initiate. "Kale, it has come to our attention that perhaps you might interested in learning the Way of the Bow. Should you feel yourself so inclined, please contact me through this message card while in town." The strange Patilion then hands Kale a small index card with nothing by a lavender arrow imprinted on it, and leaves. Kale carefully considers the offer to join the famous Order, but mulls over the 2000gp entrance fee.

Upon counting the treasure, Sylvan decides he finally has enough in his bag of holding to purchase the materials for crafting a luckstone. He spends a week and a half in Spugnoir's shop, and makes himself a stone that allows him to twist fate.

The Northeast Tower
Although Shangor has not yet returned to Hommlet, the party decides to Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil in order to clear out the tower in the northeast corner of the compound. When they get to the temple itself, Adriana checks on Rarkus and the hobgoblins. All four hobgoblins that were knocked down in the battle pulled through, and five more have joined up, either seeking shelter from the cold or seeking treasure.

Rarkus invites the party to come into the temple and stay out of the cold. He accompanies Adriana on an inspection tour of the "troops." Adriana looks over her band of hobgoblins and gives them the extra rations she purchased in Hommlet. Rarkus then tries to give her a few gold pieces, as fees taken from the new recruits, but Adriana turns down the offer.

The party spends some time examining the throne and the dais in the temple. They are unnerved by the overwhelming magical aura and decide not to investigate it until Shangor has returned. Perhaps the dwarven cleric of Moradin would know better how to deal with such religious relics.

The following day, the party clears a path through the brush in the rear of the temple and walks toward the tower. They tell the hobgoblins and goblins to give up, but their offer of parlay is rejected.

The hobgoblin yells out, in his own tongue, "Go away, we don't want none!" Corwyn replies in goblin, for the party, "Well, you're gonna get some. We have a delivery."

Then, a goblin throws down a flask of alchemist's fire on top of Kale. Immediately in response, Kale draws his bow and fires an arrow at the well-covered goblin. Unfortunately for the goblin, Kale is a very good archer, and the arrow blows through the back of the goblin's skull, launching brain matter and blood all over the top of the tower.

A battle then ensues, with Adriana using knock on the door, Kale stepping inside to draw the first round of attacks, then Adriana tossing a fireball on the hobgoblins behind the overturned table. The smaller goblins manage to get to the top of the tower through an arrow slit and one throws another flask of alchemist's fire on Corwyn. Unlike Kale, Corwyn drops into the snow and puts out the fire before it damages him further.

Verilia shifts form into an eagle and flies to the rooftop. The goblins, scared and cornered, attempt to fight off the eagle with their fists. In response, Verilia casts spells in natural form and kills all but one relatively quickly. The last goblin is spared, but made to flee. Given the environmental conditions, the "sparing" of the goblin could be said to be crueler than murdering it in cold blood. On the other hand, the goblin would at least die a natural death, a druidical death.

In the tower itself, Aldoroc stumbles upon the rats and dire rats. With a single blow from his mighty axe, Aldoroc cleft the whole pack of rats in twain. Corwyn moves up to help, but he is too late.

Besides what little loot the hobgoblins carried, they party finds nothing. Corwyn refuses to go into the goblin quarters, due to the gross smell and litter of debris on the floor. Kale searches briefly, but finds nothing of value.

Sylvan muses, "Well, that's it for the temple. Strange. So, what's with all the cultists then? Perhaps we'll find out more information in...brrr...Nulb."

Here to stay
(1/16/03 4:14 pm)
Session Twelve
The Well
Leaving all the burned hobgoblins in the tower, the group walks back to the south side of temple compound, where they find Shangor and Kella talking to Rarkus. Kale remembers the story about the well and the secret entrance to the temple, so the party trudges around the walled-in compound looking for some signs of a well or ruined building in the snow.

Corwyn spots what seems to be a bulge in the snow, maybe a quarter mile away, and looks to possibly be some rubble. The party spreads out and moves towards the ruined building. On the way, Corwyn spots a small object protruding through the snow. He moves over to investigate and clears the snow away. Underneath is what resembles a gravestone. On it is chiseled, "Here fell Lord Thrommel, Paladin of Heironeous."

Corwyn mutters to himself, "I wonder who that could be." Then, more loudly to the group, "Hey! Take a look at this. It seems like a gravestone, but this doesn't appear to be a grave. Anyone know a bloke named Thrommel?"

Kale, an ardent follower of Heironeous, and the only one in the party to worship the God of Valor, reads the epitaph and exclaims,"Lord Thrommel! I'm not sure if I remember him correctly, but I he was a great paladin, in service to the Emperor himself maybe a quarter century ago. He fought against the evil forces of the temple in the Battle of Em...wait, could this be Emridy Meadows?"

Pondering that question, the adventurers continue towards the rubble. When they get there, Corwyn starts examining the ruined building itself, digging away at some of the snow. Kale walks around the structure, jabbing the ground with a javelin. As he pokes, he dislodges some branches covering a hole and the branches, snow, and Kale fall twenty feet to the bottom of the well. Thanks to his armor, though, Kale is barely injured from the fall. "I love this armor! Thank you, Heironeous!"

At the bottom, Kale sees a rope ladder fitted with wooden rungs and tosses the lead rope up to Aldoroc at the top of the well. Aldoroc pulls up the ladder and hooks it onto the latch at the edge of the stone, after digging it out of the snow. One by one, the party climbs down. Verilia tells Swift to guard the entrance to the well, or go find something to eat, but be careful.

Adriana casts light onto the tip of Corwyn's sword, who takes the lead through the open wooden door into a small tunnel. The corridor is barely three feet wide, roughly hewn from limestone, with a series of 8x4 timbers shoring up the walls, spaced every 30 feet or so. The passage starts at about 7 feet high, but quickly drops to 5 feet high after 100 feet, causing Aldoroc and Kale to slouch. Kale comments, "Lousy dwarf must of made these tunnels, except for the fact that it's not done well...maybe a halfling then..."

The hewn tunnel runs south about 100 feet and then west another 200 feet and opens up into an oval chamber maybe 40 feet across east to west. In the western wall, opposite where the party emerges, the passage continues. As Corwyn enters the chamber, he immediately notices a concealed stone door in the southeastern wall. He moves over to the door and pulls at the thin limestone slab, which pivots aside to reveal a rough tunnel leading south and down.

Unlike the previous corridor, this tunnel is very cragged. They decide to investigate this passage first and after about 600 feet, find a well constructed corridor that runs east about 30 feet and then south about 20 feet before ending in a cave-in. Kale asks about the depth and Shangor estimates that the party is about 120 feet deeper underground than the bottom of the well. Verilia looks decidedly uncomfortable and keeps massaging her ears.

Corwyn and Kale search the rubble and find nothing. The party then backtracks to the oval room, searches it more thoroughly, and still find nothing. Intrigued by the concealed passage, but having nothing else to search, they continue to the west.

After almost another 600 feet, the passage opens up into a small room with a wooden table in the center. On the table are a bronze coffer and a small iron box, both with inset locks. On the opposite wall, a series of iron rungs lead up to a hole in the ceiling. The built-in ladder goes up another 20 feet above the 10 foot high ceiling.

Corwyn first examines the wooden peg in the wall next to him, however, and determines that it might only be a coat peg. He examines the coffer and box carefully and then picks their locks quite easily. Startled, he pulls out the coins and potions, wondering why they were left here unattended. As Verilia walks past the table, she notices a small piece of parchment tacked to the bottom of the table. Examining it, she finds the word "Heffel" written in the common alphabet.

Corwyn then examines the iron rungs, feeling confident that there will be a trap on them protecting the treasure. However, he finds no trap and climbs the ladder. When he breaks the plane of the ceiling, he gets an awful whiff of...something really unpleasant.

Correctly guessing the location of this trap door, the elf nevertheless proceeds to open the door. As he does, down fall several hunks of goblin excrement and refuse, hitting Corwyn, Verilia, and Aldoroc, who were at the bottom of the ladder, preparing to lend a hand. Several of the party members decide to go up the quick way, despite the stench, while others go the long way, collecting Swift on the way back to the temple compound. Eventually, everyone meets in front of the temple again.

The Night at the Temple
Standing outside of the tower, with snow above her waist, Verilia shivers and says, "Well, I guess it's time to go to Nulb."

To which, Kale asks, "Why Nulb?" Shangor looks at Kale as if he were talking to a stone brick, and responds, "Because, lad, it's there."

Verilia, looking exasperated, shrugs her shoulders and shivers again. "It's just wrong, it shouldn't be there."

Corwyn looks at Verilia in confusion, but comments on what he thinks Verilia means. "The town should be there, just not the dead, er, undead, things."

However, Verilia clarifies the comment, "The town shouldn't be there; it should be a forest."

Both Shangor and Corwyn roll their eyes and respond, in unison, "I don't know about that."

The party decides to head for Nulb in the morning due to the cold, stormy weather. However, with Shangor in their presence, they decide to investigate the throne more closely. As Kale bravely, or stupidly, steps up onto the colored slabs of stone, Shangor casts detect evil. Sylvan also steps onto the dais to get a closer look at the throne. Momentarily stunned by the overwhelming evil aura, Shangor yells out, "Get off the floor, lads! I don't think anyone should go anywhere near that throne!" After that, no one investigates it any further, though Kale has Rarkus sit on the throne. The hobgoblin leader does so, with no ill effect, though Kale, standing next to the throne, gets a mild stomach cramp as Rarkus sits down.

The adventurers spend a restless night in the temple, keeping watch despite Rarkus's reassurances that his men will keep watch for them. By morning, the temperature has dropped significantly, making any lengthy journey outdoors dangerous. They decide to wait a day or two in the hopes that the temperature will rise. However, it doesn't and the party chooses to travel the hour or two to the dark ghost town anyway.

The Journey to Nulb
Adriana, Sylvan, and Verilia cast endure elements on everyone, including Swift. Kale leaves his horse and cart at the temple and orders Rarkus not to let his men eat the horse. With the help of the ranger and the druid, the party protects themselves as well as possible against the below-freezing temperature and wind and struggles against the snow towards Nulb. They approach the town, noting the strange dark clouds above it. In the two hour walk, Shangor Steele, dwarf cleric of Moradin, of all people, becomes affected by the chilling weather.

Nulb is deserted. The buildings, or what's left of them, are crudely made of sod, mud bricks, rough logs, and used timber, possibly taken from other buldings or various passing ships. Most of the buildings have collapsed and lie buried in the snow. As the group enters the town and nears the main street that runs northwest to a bridge over the frozen Imeryd's Run, and southeast to the edge of the little town, they see a nearly intact structure with a small sign.

The Hermit at the Herb Shop
Sitting on the porch in a rocking chair and smoking a pipe, is a man wearing a black cloak, long blond hair, and a hideous scar on his face, as if a mace had been implanted there. As he sees the party, he pulls his bare feet off the porch railing, grabs his staff, and steps inside the shop.

The adventurers move slowly towards the shop, waiting mostly for the slow dwarf in heavy dwarven plate armor. Due to his fatigue from the cold, Shangor also can't run. Unknown to them, this gives the bare-footed cleric time to prepare defensive spells. Nearly a minute later and a little over half the distance to the shop, the strange hermit comes hauling out of the building, with an incorporeal harrier beside him. Battle ensues.

{DM Note: This gave Lareth enough time to cast, in order: spikes, web from the cloak, invisibility purge, protection from good, shield of faith, regnerate light wounds, resistance, guidance, divine favor, harrier, rage, and divine power. At this point, he had 95 hit points, his AC was 17, and his attack routine was +16/+11, damage 1d6+24/19-20x2. He puts all five of his BAB on power attack. Previously, he had cast bull's strength, endurance, and owl's wisdom. Note, the rage spell does not say he loses his ability to act rationally or cast spells, unlike a barbarian's rage, so I still allowed him to cast spells, in particular the confusion and divine power.}

Kale manages to fire an arrow before the oncoming cleric pauses to cast confusion at the advance group, affecting Adriana, Aldoroc, and Verilia's mount Swift. Verilia shrugs off the spell and manages to dismount, also casting harrier, instructing it to attack the cleric's harrier, not knowing who it is going to attack.

The hermit runs up to Sylvan, but not quite reaching him. Now in range, his harrier charges the dwarf, provoking an attack of opportunity from the other spell. Kale fires three arrows at the hermit, only striking with one. Clearly, his fingers are too cold to operate the mighty composite longbow.

Sylvan, startled at the ferocity in the man's eyes and the enraged, frozen spittle around his mouth, hustles away and behind Kale for protection. The cleric then charges up to Kale, taking only one more arrow in the process, and smacks the archer viciously with the spiked quarterstaff. Kale, amazed at the extraordinary amount of damage from the staff, reels from the blow, wiping the blood from his face and shoulder. Corwyn tumbles past into a flanking position and sneak attacks the cleric, hurting him badly. The cleric, however, barely responds to the short sword, seemingly only concerned with turning the archer into paste. Sylvan attempts to use slow on the cleric, but to no effect. The wild man shrugs off the transmutation easily, some inner strength easily defeating the extra fate that the elven wizard threw into the spell. Kale steps back five feet and launches three more arrows at the dangerous, staff-wielding priest, and only hits with two. In return, the cleric attacks the archer twice, hitting the first time, and barely missing with the second. Kale is critically wounded; if the second strike had connected, he would be dead.

Meanwhile, Aldoroc wanders away towards the south, with a vacant, confused expression on his face. Adriana turns and casts a magic missile at Verilia, and Swift attempts to bite Verilia, but misses. Sensing the confusion in her animal companion, Verilia moves away to help with the others on the cleric. She casts creeping cold to little effect, and then body of the sun and flame blade, and bravely steps forward. Seeing the huge gashes in Kale, she expects to die in the battle.

Sylvan casts dispel magic, targeted on the evil cleric. It's a great idea, but unfortunately, he barely affects the spells loaded on the priest. Kale wisely moves away, not daring to stay for another attack. Corwyn courageously blocks the cleric's advance on the archer, breaking him from his one-track plan of killing one victim. With Verilia's presence, Corwyn is able to flank the hermit and sneak attack him with both short swords. The cleric, however, returns the favor and nearly kills the elven ranger.

{DM Note: In point of fact, the dispel magic only got rid of the guidance and resistance, both of which were to expire in the following two rounds.}

Aldoroc continues wandering south, towards some ruined buildings. Shangor battles against the harrier, losing the fight due to his inability to hit the incorporeal creature, but gaining help from the other harrier that Verilia had summoned. Swift, in his confusion, tries to bite Adriana and misses. In return, the sorceress stands up, backs away and angrily tosses a magic missile at the large wolf. Swift misses his next attack, and Adriana summons a smaller wolf to help her in the fight.

Not fearing an immediate death, Kale moves to an advantageous position and fires another masterwork arrow at the raging cleric. Corwyn stabs another short sword into the priest's abdomen, and Verilia slashes him with her flame blade. Sylvan then drops a flaming sphere on top of the crazy hermit, who fails to move out of its way. As the cleric strikes Corwyn once more with his spiked staff, nearly tearing off the elf's head, his rage wears off, and the crazy hermit falls to the bloody snow, dead.

Heaving a sigh of relief, Sylvan moves over to where Swift and Adriana are fighting, and drops another dispel magic. This time it terminates the confusion in both party members, and Adriana dispels her summoned monster. A few seconds later, Aldoroc comes back to the party.

The body of the cleric is looted, and they find the spiked quarterstaff, a black cloak with light gray stripes in a crossing pattern on the inside, and bracers. Adriana casts detect magic and also notices an overwhelming aura eminating from the hermit's chest. Ripping open his shirt, Corwyn finds a large, metallic symbol of the Elder Elemental Eye, roughly eight inches across, buried in the man's sternum. While watching, the symbol slowly dissolves in a small cloud of smoke and burning flesh. After a minute, all that is left is seared flesh and a hole in his chest in the shape of an upside down pyramid.

Corwyn is stunned. "Whoa. What in the name of Corellan Larethian was that?"

Shangor thinks it over for a few minutes. "That was the Mark of Apostasy, lad. Tis a symbol given as a gift to evil folk by their dread deities. Yer not wanting to touch it nor the body, lad."

They leave the body alone and walk over to the herb shop to investigate it. However, upon looking inside they see that it is full of webs. Sylvan takes a closer look with his spellcraft ability and notes that the webs are actually from a web spell.

The mighty adventurers decide to wait out the web spell, rather than attempting burn them away without including the building. What will they find?

Here to stay
(1/16/03 4:26 pm)
Caught Up
*phew* Sorry for the sporadic dumps of the log, 3 updates in 24 hours is a lot to write (for me) and lot to read (for you). I hope you enjoy them. We play again on Saturday night. They will investigate the Herb shop, and I think I will have Lareth do a Dying Curse on one of the party members. If you read #12, I'd appreciate suggestions. I'm thinking of the curse suggested for Dunrat (which I forgot about), Night Be As Day. In this case, a "ghost" form of Lareth will stand up from his body, walk over to the targeted PC, and lay down the curse.
Foolish mortal! You dare to strike against the ultimate Darkness? I am the darkness! Walk the world using my eyes.
Anyone have any ideas on what the shop might contain? Do you think he would have a letter from Hedrack wishing him a speedy recovery? ;)

Here for a while
(1/16/03 6:56 pm)
Re: Caught Up
Wonderful read. Can't help you with the curse. However, I did describe the herb shop IMC. It is a small building consisting of one large empty room with a few shelves on the walls and a counter at the back (this is where the herbs were sold) connected to a set of three rooms behind it. The center of the three has a stove, table and chair, and a bed (this is where Lareth lives). The other two rooms are empty (they used to be bedrooms for the two ladies who ran the herb shop). I did not give Lareth anything else and definately would not have a letter from Hedrack there as I think Lareth hates the cult at this time.

Zag:rollin g

Still here? Wow.
(1/17/03 1:31 am)
Re: Caught Up
Somehow that curse seems to imply bitterness and paranoia and not being able to regocnize a friend for a friend or pleasure for what it is. I am not sure how good a roleplayers your players are, since the suggestion is mainly a role-playing curse. Though perhaps you could also attach game mechanics to it, like a reduction of charisma by 8.

Here to stay
(1/17/03 1:55 pm)
Re: Caught Up
Yeah, I guess you're right, Zagig. No letter. It's just that I just got a new color printer... :)

Hmm...I like that idea, madfox. I agree that the one you describe should be a role-playing only curse. I don't want to modify anyone's stats, especially since it would adversely affect the sorceress and the ranger/rogue already has a charisma of 7. I might use it. We play tomorrow night, so we'll see who gets affected. I might do it to the first person to touch the body now that the Mark is gone.

Here's the current party, in alphabetical order:
Adriana, (F) human sorceress 6
Aldoroc, (M) human fighter 6
Corwyn, (M) elven rogue/ranger 3/3 (planning on custom PrC)
Kale, (M) human fighter 6 (planning on Order of the Bow Initiate)
Shangor, (M) dwarven cleric of Moradin 6
Sylvan, (M) elven wizard/fatespinner 5/1
Verilia, (F) halfling druid 6

Here to stay
(1/31/03 8:18 pm)
Session Thirteen - Part 1/3
The Herb Shop
The adventurers look in frustration at the web spell inside the herb shop. Not wanting to burn down the building, they wait outside in the freezing cold. After maybe half an hour, a trio of insubstantial, floating undead surprises them. Verilia, Adriana, and Corwyn are each attacked by one of the shadows. Although both Adriana and Verilia lose some temporary strength, the fight is brief as Shangor destroys them easily.

The web wears off, which prompts Corwyn and Verilia to investigate the herb shop more closely. The rest of the party follows once Corwyn pronounces the building safe. They find a small pouch of a dark red weed, a couple of jars of what look like a humanoid tongue and small floating eyeball, and a small wooden device with a screw. Verilia takes all of it, seemingly interested in the wooden device, and curious that she cannot identify the herb.

The party discusses burning the shop, but choose to do it later. Badly wounded from the fight with the evil cleric, they decide to return to the temple to rest for the night in the safe hands of Rarkus and his hobgoblins, and return when the weather improves. Kale, however, has other plans and lingers near the body of the fallen cleric until the rest of the group is out of town. He tells them he will catch up in a moment. Kale then grabs the body in an effort to drag it to the shop and burn the whole thing down.

Upon touching the corpse, Kale sees a ghostly image stand up from the body, very closely resembling the hermit in real life, although with a twisted, somehow more evil expression on his face. The image speaks to Kale, "Foolish mortal! You dare to attack me? You think you know darkness? See the world through my eyes!" Kale feels some terrible pressure upon his mind as his mortal senses are assaulted by the evilness in the ghost figure's proclamation. He shakes off the mental attack and flees the town before further harm can befall him. Running past his comrades, he shouts, "Watch out for a ghost!" Kale soon leaves the party behind.

{DM Note: The player was downright scared witless! Actually, most everyone thought he was a goner. I planned the dying curse, gave it an unbelievable save DC of 22, told him what it was, then he rolled a 20! It was great! The flood of relief was immense, and then he took off! Wait till the next session notes, to see what happens...sorry, already had it. :) }

The group spends three days in the temple and the weather improves. While certainly not warm, it is no longer immediately dangerous to be outside. Everyone has sufficiently healed and the spell casters prepare spells appropriately for gobs of undead. The return trip to Nulb is uneventful, though the ghost town still looks dreary with the overcast sky.

Edited by: Infiniti2000 at: 1/31/03 8:29:27 pm
Here to stay
(1/31/03 8:21 pm)
Session Thirteen - Part 2/3
The Hostile Waterside Hostel
The adventurers first decide to investigate the largest remaining building in town, the inn near the bridge spanning the frozen Imeryd's Run. The other remaining structures are the herb shop and a listing ship in the icy bay. No other buildings really stand up anymore, and nearly all the rubble is covered in snow.

Corwyn closely examines the entrance of the hostel, but finds nothing out of the ordinary. The inn has many chimneys visible from the exterior, and only part of the second floor remains, maybe two or three rooms. The windows no longer contain glass, and the shutters bang feebly in the winter wind.

The party enters the ancient hostel and explores the first floor. Corwyn immediately hears a low moaning sound, like that from the wind, and the sound of shutters banging from upstairs. The banging sounds like more than a couple of shutters, however, and Corwyn moves cautiously further into main room. As the party spreads out, examining the main room, some private dining rooms, and the kitchen, Adriana looks behind the bar.

Keeping an eye out, Verilia sees a horrifying, ghostly form materialize next to Adriana and stick a longsword through her kidney. Verilia jerks away from the undead creature in mortal pain from its horrific appearance. She groans in agony, but still musters the courage necessary to face the unnatural monster. Fortunately, the deadly attack fails to kill Adriana, but it still wounds her badly. She stumbles backward in agonizing pain, cursing at the undead creature that attacked her, and says, "No one get near the blasted thing!" As usual, her party ignores her and moves up to attack the ghost. Consequently, she places a fireball on top of the creature, injuring her nearby friends and not even harming the undead monster. In reply, the ghost disappears into the ethereal plane. "Damn!"

Expecting another attack, the adventurers gather near the bar, readying attacks on any manifesting ghost. Shangor moves closer and casts healing spells on Adriana, who also quaffs a potion of cure moderate wounds. Adriana takes the time to cast mage armor. Corwyn stands nearby on full defense, hoping that the ghost attacks him instead of the more vulnerable sorceress. And Verilia takes this time to scratch Swift's ears.

In what seems like minutes, the ghost rematerializes and attacks Adriana again, missing! No one spots the ghost materializing, however, so they do not react before it strikes. Before it can disappear again, however, it is badly damaged from a volley of magic missiles from Adriana and Sylvan, and attacks from the magical weapons of Corwyn, Kale, and Aldoroc. Shangor's turning attempt is futile. Verilia casts harrier to attack the incorporeal ghost, and injures it, but not badly.

In another twenty seconds, the ghost once more reappears, stabbing Aldoroc with its longsword. Aldoroc also fails to succumb to the deadly attack, and responds in kind. Verilia's harrier continues its attack, another volley of magic missiles hit the ghost, and whopping blow from Aldoroc's magical battleaxe penetrates the ghost's form, causing it to evaporate for good with a stunned express on its fleeting face and dropping the longsword to the floor in a spattering of Aldoroc's blood.

Corwyn searches the area and finds a suit of masterwork studded leather armor and a few mundane items, apparently belonging to the deceased ghostly figure. Corwyn also searches the kitchen, while Aldoroc and Kale search the private dining rooms. The kitchen is empty and stairs lead down to a caved-in cellar, containing nothing but rotted provisions, worn-out tools, and a small, silvered goblet.

The adventurers then decide to investigate the strange sounds coming from upstairs. Only one room seems to be left intact, with its door closed and stuck somehow. Corwyn cannot seem to find a way to disable the mechanism on the door, so Aldoroc uses brute force. With Kale's help, it only takes a few seconds, and the sight of a strange, shadowed woman, assaults their senses. The pain stricken undead creature starts babbling incoherently, causing a multitude of emotions to crop up within the heroes. Fortunately, most shake off the effect, though Adriana stands still as if hypnotized.

Kale, Corwyn, and Aldoroc promptly charge into the room, hitting the undead creature with magical weapons. Verilia and Sylvan blast her with spells while Shangor emits a powerful positive energy from Moradin. Everyone in the room easily avoids the flying objects and only Kale is slightly affected by the touch of the allip, suffering temporary damage to his senses. After the undead figure is destroyed, a quick search of the room by Corwyn reveals a potion, some gold, and pair of beautifully crafted and very expensive jeweled earrings.

Here to stay
(1/31/03 8:24 pm)
Session Thirteen - Part 3/3
The Listing Ship
Successful in their encounters in the wayward inn, the party decides to explore the final standing structure in the ghost town, a ship in the bay. Approaching the ship, Verilia instructs Swift to wait behind on shore. Sylvan also waits, though only momentarily, while Kale and Aldoroc walk down the pier. Upon seeing that it is safe, Sylvan joins his companions when they step over onto the main deck.

The main deck and forecastle are empty. All of the storage compartments lining the rails are also empty, or filled with now worthless equipment. The adventurers decide to delve into the cabins below the poop deck. A short flight of stairs leads to a small hallway with three doors. The doors to the left and right open up into small cabins containing bunk beds, a desk, and chair. They are otherwise empty. The door straight ahead opens up into a storage room encompassing the entire rear of the ship, about fifteen feet by fifteen feet. A breach apparently has opened in the aft starboard section of the cabin, where the ship is listing, because it is filled with water that has iced over, except for a hole in the foot-thick ice, maybe four feet in diameter. Large crates and barrels are in the room, though trapped partially in the ice.

Corwyn steps into the hold, drawing his weapons. Kale stays near him, but the quarters down the hallway and up the stairs are very cramped. It is difficult, if not impossible for anyone on the deck to see into the room. As Corwyn moves closer to the ice, pale yellow ooze flows out of the hole, forming a blunt appendage, and striking Corwyn a furious blow. To add further injury, the ochre jelly secrets an acidic substance that burns the flesh. Corwyn suffers the pain induced by the acid and says out loud, "At least it doesn't seem to affect my mithril chain shirt!"

As Corwyn prepares to counterattack the ooze, he is further surprised by a pair of floating, dark images, in the shapes of long dead pirates, wielding cutlasses, eye patches, and grinning like maniacs. One attacks Corwyn from inside a barrel, easily bypassing his armor. The other, emerging from a crate, swipes an insubstantial cutlass at Kale through the corner of the wall, bypassing his powerful magical chain shirt.

Corwyn attacks the ochre jelly, successful only in splitting it into two halves. Dismayed, he then tumbles out of the cabin and onto the main deck. Kale pulls out the new longsword acquired from the ghost and starts attacking the wraiths. In turn, the wraiths badly damage Kale, who drops to the cabin's deck, bleeding from previous wounds. Shangor, fearful that the archer might become a wraith himself, bravely steps in to haul him out of the hold. Shangor absorbs a few more attacks, but is able to bring him safely to the deck and heal his wounds. Fortunately, Kale was suffering mostly from normal wounds and the supernatural ones inflicted by the wraiths were not sufficient to end his natural life.

The wraiths continue their offensive, only to be eventually destroyed by magic missiles from Adriana and Sylvan, and magical weapons from the rest of the party. During the fight, one of the wraiths picks up the longsword that Kale dropped and retreats into the cabin. As Corwyn reenters the room, he fights and destroys the wraith, which foolishly keeps attacking, nearly uselessly, with the longsword. However, as the undead creature perishes, he drops the magical weapon into the icy bay through the hole. A fireball from Adriana rids the threat of the ochre jelly.

Jumping through the ice, Verilia wild shapes into a seal. She finds the longsword at the bottom of the bay, and then searches under the ice in the cabin itself, finding a rusted iron lockbox. Verilia brings up both and shifts back into halfling form, shivering and fatigued from the frigid water. Corwyn takes a few minutes and eventually opens the lockbox, revealing a pirate's trove of treasure: a lot of money and an absolutely stunning black opal ring, engraved with feathers of various birds. No one can discern the engraving and Adriana does not detect any magical aura on it.

The party searches the rest of the ship to no avail and eventually decide to head back to the temple. They spend a restful night at the temple amidst Rarkus and his growing hobgoblin band. In the morning, they leave for Hommlet. Adriana asks Rarkus, "So, do you need anything from town?"

The hobgoblin leader responds, "Sher do, ma'am. P'raps yewd see fit in getting some ale for da boys. Also, I don't s'pose yew culd find me a dubble-bladed sored? One more thing. We looking for some ... entertanement. Can you animate dem bodies ...?"

Thoroughly disgusted, the otherwise tough woman shakes her head and moves quickly away. The party gathers their equipment in a hurry and travel to Hommlet. Corwyn mumbles to Shangor, out of earshot from Adriana, "We need to kill those filthy buggers." Shangor nods once, briefly, "Aye, lad."

In Hommlet, the party distributes the treasure, except for the ring. When the halfling owner of the Old Trading Post agrees to pay full value, the group decides to bring it to Todariche Nem for evaluation. The old sage copies down some notes about the ring and then the adventurers sell it to Joman Dart. Consequently, they purchase some more equipment, horses, potions, and scrolls. Most of the treasure, however, goes to the Church of St. Cuthbert to pay for the many restoration spells to cure the damage from the wraiths and the ghost. While the group prepares to go back to Nulb and burn it down, Sylvan decides to stay in Hommlet with Spugnoir to learn haste and possibly make some minor magical items for anyone who wants them.

Sylvan's first night in Hommlet, however, does not go well. While sleeping at the potion seller's shop, he wakes up in a cold sweat. Almost sleepwalking, he goes to the front door and opens it up. There, he sees a woman, at least he thinks it's a woman, covered in an ochre robe with a deep cowl. She reaches out with her right hand, but instead it is a fiery red and black crablike pincher claw. She grabs Sylvan by the throat and whispers in a hoarse voice, "Thought you could get away from me did you?" Suddenly, Sylvan wakes up for real, shivering in the cold breeze fluttering in through the open window. The thudding in Sylvan's chest eventually subsides and he lies back down. He is not comforted by a last thought before finally drifting back to sleep, "I thought I left that window closed?"

Edited by: Infiniti2000 at: 1/31/03 8:26:13 pm
Here to stay
(2/4/03 7:08 am)
Re: Session Thirteen - Part 3/3

This has always been a good read, but the description of Sylvan's nightmares...

That's just awesome.

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