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SolidSnake
Pie
(11/11/02 7:11:57 am)
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Session 12
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Session 12- Homecoming (or “THAT’S NOT A COCKROACH!!!!”)

The Main Gate, a portal that had stood open ever since the great battle with Strider, now stood closed. The Band had expected many things, but not such a sudden fortification by the enemy. Creeping up to the door, Merk noticed movement behind most of the arrow slits and heard noise beyond the doors. After informing the party of her discovery, Lathander offered to shape an entrance through the stone itself with divine power. Everyone agreed; however, that Lathander’s plan would be far too dangerous with each of the arrow slits manned by experienced archers. Many plans were put forth, including another variant on Lathander’s wherein he would drill a hole through the mountainside with his divine power directly into the Mines…but of all these plans Sentian’s produced the most commotion.

Sentian: “Why don’t we just go see if the door is actually locked?”

Stunned, the rest of the Band agreed that this would be the best course of action provided that it was quick and bloodless. Lathander quickly cast Silence upon Sentian and Sanctuary on himself to prevent the archers from harming him. The plan worked nearly as expected; the only surprising feature was that Sentian’s armor did not protect him from the incredible accuracy of the archers’ hail of arrows…the door was indeed locked.

The party retreated to a safer distance in order to come up with a better plan. Elias listened patiently to all the solutions, but decided on his own that action was the only real solution. Using ancient arcane secrets, the elf summoned his globe of fire and had it collide with the great doors again and again until it ignited in flame. With options quickly fading from their repertoire, the Band had no choice but to back up its most junior member’s decision. Bandar waited until the fire died down before pummeling it with powerful waves of psychic force. It wasn’t long before the doors were blasted from their hinges, exposing the familiar entrance to the Crater Ridge Mines.

The men guarding the entrance had not stood idly by while the fire raged, instead they had overturned a wagon near the entrance and stacked as many supplies as they had around its edges in order to create a makeshift barricade. The enemy did attempt to make a valiant effort to resist the righteous forces of good, but in the end it was utterly futile. Lathander opened the battle with a ray of Searing Light and things just seemed to fall into place from there. In a matter of a few minutes the enemy force had been reduced to three prisoners. Not one to be without mercy, Lathander attempted to warn the men what would happen if they were seen here again. The soldiers turned out to be mercenaries who were new to the organization…apparently times had become hard with many of the great Kingdoms waging war on Iuz’s dark Empire; men took the jobs they could. This gave the priest of Pelor much to think about as Merk grilled them about the “cargo” they were transporting into the temple. It was mostly food and replacement clothing, but the men did confide that they had turned over a corpse to a strangely robed a day from the Mines. After turning the prisoners loose, the Band went to rest up in the cave where they had defeated the Basilisk [DM Note: evidently they are beginning to think that staying in the same place every night may not be such a good idea…go figure:) ].

The next morning the party made its way down the tunnel they had begun to explore before Lathander was unceremoniously turned to stone. The tunnel had many branches that led to empty caves and even a few connecting passageways, which coupled it to a parallel tunnel containing similar tracks for supporting an ore cart. To make sure that all of the possibilities had been explored, the Band made every effort to check all of the branches so that they would not face enemies from the front and the rear should they ever begin a battle in these tunnels. On one such exploration, the group did not take the necessary precautions to ensure safety before heading down a passageway. This particular corridor was one of the few connections between the parallel tunnels and unfortunately housed a malicious life form. Bandar and Lathander only had time to look up as green slime sloughed off the ceiling and covered the pair of adventurers. Both men screamed in agony as the slime began to eat away at metal and flesh while they rolled about on the ground. Bandar had the right idea by scraping the substance off with his gauntlets, but it wasn’t coming off fast enough so Elias had to step in once again. Conjuring his burning globe of fire, Elias watched as the orb rolled over his companions numerous times to purge them of the ooze that was digesting their flesh [DM note: this was hilarious…I guess you had to have been there]. Needless to say after this confrontation much had been consumed by the slime: shields, backpacks, a spear, a crossbow, banded mail, some vials of holy water, Redithador’s note, and most importantly: pride. The bedraggled Band returned to Rastor once again to heal up and re-equip themselves with whatever was available in the village.

Once again, the Band of the Rising Sun entered the Temple of All Consumption to test their mettle against the forces of evil. This time; however, the Band chose an alternate tunnel to test their bravery. The path they chose didn’t seem any safer than the last one when armor-plated magma worms burrowed out of the floor directly beneath them in their explorations. Armor of any kind seemed to little avail against these fiery foes, but the Band soon left their burning blood to pool on the ground as they continued onward. The tunnel continued downward for quite sometime before it opened up into an enormous cavern. An overturned cart lay next to the tracks that traveled through the cave and a smaller cave was attached to the larger cavern a few paces from the tunnel. Directly above, the party noticed (through a rather large hole) that the parallel tunnel they had traveled before crossed over the one they were currently using. Spreading out the group began exploring the cavern…this didn’t last very long as everyone was abruptly jerked away from their respective examinations when a large scream erupted from the smaller cave. The party conglomerated quickly as a screaming Ettin emerged from the darkness wielding two impressively large clubs. Bandar had barely enough time to bring his shield up as the behemoth brought the club down on his shoulder, emitting a sickening crunching sound. Merk reacted quickly to the situation by planting an arrow in the ettin’s belly, while Sentian attempted to shove his enchanted sword into the giant’s leg. Sentian’s attacks were effortlessly blocked by one of the monster’s clubs, while it continued to pummel the retreating Bandar. Merk and Elias paid the ettin back in kind by peppering it with another volley of arrows. The battle became a bit more complicated with the emergence of a large cockroach. None of the party paid it any attention, as they were more concerned with the ettin…this proved to be a fatal mistake. With both Lathander and Bandar supporting him, Sentian began to find his rhythm in battle and severely wound the ettin. Before long, Sentian was predicting every swing the ettin could conceive of and counter it with swift sword strokes. The paladin barely noticed the insect’s feelers as they lay themselves upon his armor. The paladin watched in horror as the armor his family had handed down for generations dissolved into a pile of rust right before his eyes! Sentian remembered his father telling him how Heironeous himself had blessed the armor and that it was an invaluable heirloom only given to the greatest of champions the Thann family had to offer. The armor had not only absorbed the impact from many foes, but also served as a mantle of courage Sentian had always carried…he felt helpless without its comfort. In blind rage, Sentian lashed out at the creature that had robbed him of his heritage with Ice, the weapon taken from Strider’s fallen body. With a scream of anguish, Sentian saw the blade crumble before him as the metal touched the foul monster’s carapace. The ettin took advantage of his this distraction to inflict more pain upon the paladin and with his armor gone it was an easy task. It took all of Lathander’s healing powers to keep the great warrior aloft as the giant beat down upon him with a savage fury. Bandar attempted to reverse the tide of defeat by sending blasts of sonic power into both adversaries. This coupled with Elias’ most powerfully destructive spells were enough to send the Rust Monster back to the hell that had spawned it. The ettin succumbed shortly thereafter to Sentian’s mirage of steel and hatred.

With their most powerful warrior without any fitting protection, the Band was forced to return to Rastor to think of ways of overcoming their obstacles.

Elias: “Well, what now?”

Lathander: “We must travel to Greyhawk. There we can restock our lost equipment and maybe find something that will help us against in this struggle.”

Bandar: “That is foolish. We cannot leave this place for such a long time.”

Lathander: “What can they possibly do?”

Bandar: “Plenty and we would have no idea until it was too late. We have the initiative here, let’s not lose it.”

Lathander: “Sentian will not last out there without proper armor.”

Sentian: “I fear Lathander is right…I will be no use to you in our battles if I am dead.”

While the Band argued as to what they would do, Merk talked to Tymerian and asked her if Burne had been in contact with her. The great wizard had told Tymerian to inform the party that he had left for the kingdom of Furyondy as well as the fact that Aramek was on his way to Rastor. With this new information, the party agreed to let Sentian travel to Greyhawk to obtain new armor while the rest of the members waited for Aramek.

It wasn’t long before the familiar dwarf entered the village. With a warm welcome, the Band embraced their oldest member and dearest friend.

Aramek: “Sorry I’m late…had to pay me respects.”

Lathander: “It’s good to see you Aramek. What did you do with Dr. Noh’s body?”

Aramek: “I gave it to Yether like ye said…and I gave him the letter ya gave me. You priests of Pelor sure have strange burial rites…never known a priest ta stab the earth with a spear.”

Lathander: “What are you talking about?”

Aramek: “I found a spear with a note attached to it stabbed in Strider’s grave. I didn’t think it was proper for no Moradin-loving man, so I took it out.”

Merk: “We didn’t do that!”

After a slight uproar, it was determined that the spear belonged to the strange man known as Tresh who had disappeared after the initial encounter with the Band. The note was also his…

It was good traveling with you for a time. I am beginning to understand where Strider’s strength came from. Be careful because the Brotherhood is looking for your friend Eblis…I tried to delay them. Good luck.
                                                -Tresh


This produced even more confusion as the man had never met Strider before and no one knew what he was referring to with the word “Brotherhood.” This seemed to make little difference to Aramek as he informed the group that he was going to systematically destroy everything in that Mine. Lathander spoke up against this idea, citing Pelor’s scripture in reference to “mercy” and “compassion.” This didn’t sway the dwarf from his policy of “give no quarter;” he even threatened to go in alone if he had to.

Bandar: “You won’t survive alone. We need you just as much as you need us.”

Aramek: “A dwarf’s gotta do what a dwarf’s gotta do. If you don’t like my me methods then find yerself another dwarf.”

Lathander: “Is this what Strider would want…your death? You know it is suicide out there by yourself.”

Aramek: “Maybe…maybe not…who knows until ye try.”

Bandar: “Don’t do it. We need you.”

Aramek (with a slight grin on his face): “Alright lad, I’ll tell you what. You get Merk not to go in with us and I’ll play nice.” That one is for you old friend.

Bandar: “Fine with me.”

Lathander: “Thank Pelor you’re here!”

Elias: “Whatever.”

Of course Merk wasn’t too happy with these arrangements. The Band tried to comfort her with “important” jobs she could be doing in town to gain valuable information, but the perceptive elf saw right through the ruse. It took all the persuasion skills Lathander could muster to convince her that this was “for her own good” and that it was “what Strider would have wanted.” Her replies, when not in curses, alluded to the fact that “she was her own woman and not some dead man’s property.” However, at the end of the day Merk finally agreed to stay in Rastor on the condition that if she found out that the party died, she would go into the Mines by herself and finish the job. No one had any problem with that, as they would all be dead at the time.

Aramek (with Merk out of earshot): “Let’s go pick up another man…it’s suicide to go in there with just the four of us.”

Lathander and Elias had to restrain Bandar from throttling the headstrong dwarf. It seemed as if the dwarf’s trip to Hommlet hadn’t changed him one bit: he was still brash, lewd, and knew exactly what to say to piss everyone off…

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/11/02 8:12:15 am)
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Session 13
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Session 13- “The dead friend will not really die until tomorrow, when silence is round you again. Then he will show himself complete, as he was--to tear himself away, as he was, from the substantial you. Only then will you cry out because of him who is leaving and whom you cannot detain. “ -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (or “And another one bites the dust…”)

The search for an additional member to the party was more difficult than the Band had anticipated. Most of the local men had no wish to travel into the "cursed mines." Everyone was about to give up when a halfling melded away from a roving crowd of human loggers. With audacity uncommon for a man of that stature, the halfling walked straight up to the Band and introduced himself.

Halfling (addressing Elias): “My name is Stacy and I would be interested in joining your party.”

Aramek (between bouts of laughter): “Your name is Stacy??!”

Bandar (ignoring Aramek): “How do you know of us?”

Stacy: “Your fame has spread through the village like wildfire…the daring group of adventurers that continuously risks its life to quell the evil in the mines.”

Bandar: “Are you sure you want to join? It is no easy task and many of our members are dead already.”

Stacy: “I understand and accept this responsibility.”

Bandar: “What skills do you have that could be useful to us?”

The halfling seemed to ponder the words for a moment before his face contorted in a mask of distress at something approaching the group from behind. Needless to say everyone turned instinctively only to find that there was no danger at all. When their gazes came back to the halfling, he was gone!

Bandar: “He's in.”

With its newfound strength, the Band entered the Crater Ridge Mines once again. Their travels took them past the cavern where they had fought the rust monster and its ettin master, into an even greater cave containing a dwarven device used to scoop rock onto a raised track. A quick inspection revealed that someone had recently used the ancient track. The inquisitive party decided to continue onward past the great machine, but was stopped cold by a booming voice that spoke from the darkness ahead in Common.

“STOP!”

Elias was the only member of the Band who had a gift with languages and so it was he who recognized the accent inherent in the voice's pronunciation.

Elias (in draconic): “Who are you?”

Dragon (in common): “An educated man…impressive. However, your education has not prepared you for a battle with me. I suggest that you not jump to conclusions about your current predicament and proceed to attack me.”

Elias: “What would you have of us then?”

Dragon: “A simple sign of respect for gracing my lands would be sufficient to allow your passage to remain unmolested.”

Not wanting to do battle with another dragon, the Band quickly relieved themselves of a few choice gems. This seemed to appease the dragon and allow the party some respite against violence.

Elias: “I am curious as to what kind of dragon you are.”

Dragon (with a chuckle): “You mean what breed don’t you? Well I’m sure that I could teach you a thing or two about Dragon Lore, but I must say that I am a…costly tutor.”

Bandar: “Which elemental temple rules now?”

Dragon: “The fire temple of course.”

Everyone agreed that traveling towards the dragon was a mistake, so they took a tunnel that traveled in the opposite direction. The roughly hewn stone began to show growth as the party continued onward until the Band found themselves in a veritable underground fungal forest. Some mushrooms were as tall as a man; the Band gave those a wide berth as they traveled forward. The tunnel began to descend rapidly, until the party came across a narrow staircase. At the base of the stairs was the maggot-ridden body of a decapitated umber hulk. No one in the party had ever had any experience with the creature, but everyone was sure from Aramek’s stories that it was a monster not to be trifled with. The group huddled closer and pressed on cautiously, some of the members having second thoughts about continuing. These doubts proved to be well founded as the party rounded the bend of a rather narrow tunnel and found themselves in another cavern. The cavern was fairly sparse, save a huge pit in its center filled with bones and feces…but this wasn’t what attracted everyone’s attention. The sight of two giant scaly humanoids with razor-sharp claws and daggers for teeth was enough to cause the Band to forget their own names.

The trolls charged screaming into the party’s ranks. Aramek barely had time to raise his shield in defense as one of the troll’s claws ripped through his dragonscales, tearing bone and flesh indiscriminately. The sturdy dwarf retaliated by introducing his warhammer to the troll’s face, smashing its jaw into thousands of pieces. Elias attempted to burn the troll’s companion with a rolling ball of flame, but the creature proved to be too quick for his spell. Bandar’s powers shook the earth and knocked one of the trolls to the ground, buying time for the rest of the party to gain position. Arrows from Elias and a Color Spray from Stacy wore away at the troll’s resolve. Just when victory seemed eminent, the battle was joined by another troll wearing armor decorated in the religious symbols of Tharizdun. This creature carried a massive double-bladed sword that stretched nearly twenty feet in length! The confrontation became more desperate as the Band adjusted their strategy for this new enemy. Both sides spilled much blood, but the trolls seemed to have the advantage as their flesh instantly restored itself after every blow. Daggers and arrows protruded from all the trolls, but somehow it didn’t seem to faze them. Attempts by Bandar to scramble the troll’s molecules did show results, but it was not enough to destroy the creature. Eventually the Band was able to win the encounter by the sheer physical trauma they inflicted upon the enemy, but at the cost of a mortally wounded priest of Pelor. While some of the members cut the trolls into pieces, others doused the remains in oil and set them aflame. The armored troll; however, did not burn like the rest so the solution was to sever the head and chop the body into a fine paste. Bandar called a retreat knowing the situation the party was in: Bandar and Stacy had expended most of their powers, Aramek was exhausted after his berserker rage, and Lathander was unconscious. The plan was to allow Stacy to scout ahead, while Elias and Bandar covered Aramek as he transported Lathander.

Stacy knew that he was all but invisible and silent as he ascended the stairs past the dead umber hulk body, but it didn’t seem to matter. As he moved away from the top of the stairs, the wall behind him exploded in a shower of rock. The halfling reacted quickly by flowing with the force of the impact and rolling beyond the reach of the umber hulk that had now made its presence known. Yelling a warning to the other members of the party, Stacy ran, attempting to draw the umber hulk away from the party. The plan did not work as the umber hulk was interested in weakened prey. The colossal creature shambled forth, its mandibles clicking menacingly.

Elias reacted quickly, calling for both Bandar and Aramek to run past it while he would keep it busy. Aramek understood the gravity of the situation and did not argue with Elias on this point; tossing Tresh’s spear to Bandar, he heaved Lathander’s body over his shoulder and ran towards the stairs. Bandar followed him, but more slowly as he became fascinated with the lights that had begun to illuminate the haft of the spear. What is this? When both men reached the stairs; however, they simply stopped dead in their tracks. Neither dwarf seemed to care that a battle raged between Elias and the umber hulk.

Stacy came back to the party only to find Elias in single combat with the umber hulk and the dwarves essentially paralyzed in a stupor by the stairs. The halfling watched the elf dance about the umber hulk’s claws and land blow after blow in the creases of the monster’s carapace. Blood was streaming down the man’s arm and leg, but he didn’t seem to notice as he moved graceful from one stance to the next. Frustrated by the skill its prey showed, the umber hulk lashed out more furiously at Elias. The elf nimbly dodged both claws, but had not anticipated the speed of its mandibles. Stacy watched in horror as he saw the pincers rip through his new companion. Elias dropped his weapons in shock and attempted to free himself of the creature’s grasp, but it was too late…a massive claw ended the elf’s agony by tearing out his throat.

Stacy: “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

The umber hulk had just enough time to turn so that it could see the dagger imbed itself into its compound eye. Stacy wasn’t sure if it was his scream that awoke Aramek from his stupor, but frankly he didn’t care. It was one of the greatest sights he had ever witnessed when the dwarf dropped Lathander’s body to the ground and swung his warhammer into the unprepared umber hulk’s back. He could hear the crunch of its armor even from where he stood. That pleasure was short-lived; with a casual swipe, the umber hulk dropped the great dwarven warrior to the earth. The monster grabbed Bandar’s still motionless form and proceeded to walk towards Stacy; it paid him no mind whatsoever, even as the halfling peppered the umber hulk with his remaining daggers. The umber hulk was about to enter its layer when the halfling managed to strike the creature in a particular sensitive area at the base of the head. The umber hulk dropped Bandar and rounded on the terrified halfling. A single swipe from its claw was enough tear into Stacy’s torso and fling him nearly ten feet into the air, but the halfling just laughed as his body rebounded from the ground. In its anger, the umber hulk had made a tactical miscalculation: it had presumed that there was only one enemy remaining, when there were actually two. Coming to this realization to late, the umber hulk only shuddered as Bandar’s new spear impaled it through the chest.

Both wounded men took some time to check on everyone’s status before hauling the bodies back to a secluded cave. Neither Stacy nor Bandar slept that night to ensure that nothing got the drop on them. Bandar wasn’t sure if he was hallucinating from sleep deprivation, but during the night he thought he saw Stacy weeping. Whatever the facts, Bandar was not about to inform anyone of this, so he simply waited until Lathander awoke before he passed out from exhaustion. By the time the dwarf opened his eyes, the rest of the party (saved Elias) was restored. No one talked as they marched Elias’ body back to the grove where they had buried Strider. Only one person had dared to interrupt their procession through Rastor, a strong-looking bald human man with strange tattoos covering his body. The man had asked to speak with the party, but Lathander informed him that they would be indisposed for the rest of the day and asked him to meet them tomorrow morning. The strange man obviously did posses some form of tact as he bowed his head with understanding and left the Band to bury its fallen comrade. Although Lathander was the only ordained priest in the party, Merk vehemently asked to give Elias the last rights herself in an elven tradition. Aramek relieved Elias of Shatterspike and his signet ring and sword were given to Merk to give to the Elven Nation of Celene along with his ashes. The Band had lost another valued member, but no one had lost the will to continue…in fact, Elias’ heroic death only hardened their resolve against Cult of Thazidun.

Siobharek 
Orc
(11/11/02 12:41:21 pm)
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Re: Session 11
Another splendid write-up. Really going through some PCs there. Hope Lathander soon gets to the point where he can cast raise dead.

Could you please give an indication of the classes and levels of the group? I've got Bandar pegged as a fighter with psionic abilities. Sentian is a paladin (duh), Lathander a cleric, Merk a wizard/rogue, Elias was a sorcerer, Stacy a rogue (duh-duh). I'm a little stumped about Aramek.

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/11/02 1:20:25 pm)
Reply
Party Makeup
As of now, I think the party looks/looked something like this:

Merk-Rgr1/Rog2/Wiz3
Bandar-Ftr1/Psion(Savant) 7
Lathander-Clr6/Radiant Servant of Pelor 1
Sentian-Pdn5/Templar 2
Elias-Ftr3/Wiz3
Stacy-Rog4/Wiz1
Aramek-Rgr1/Brb2/Ftr4
Gholoth-Mnk2/Psion (Egoist) 3
Strider-Rgr2/Ftr4 (I think...it's been a while)

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/11/02 1:26:58 pm)
Reply
Session 14
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Session 14, Part 1- Enter the Dragon (or “I came here to kick a** and chew bubblegum…and I’m all out of gum.”

Once the party had paid its respects to their friend Elias, they rested and prepared to return to the Temple. Merkaeytl updated the group on the happenings in Rastor, her job ever since the rest of the party insisted she stay at the rear (her fury over the decision had now abated). She kept an eye on the town with a small group of kids as her informants, and spent much of her time studying the books the party had captured from the Temple. Her most important news was about the strange man covered in tattoos.

A few days before Merk had been relaxing in Rastor’s dirty tavern, her ears perked for news, when news walked in. The stranger was bald with a well-chiseled frame and a very intense gaze. Most strikingly, he prominently displayed bright tattoos all over his upper body. Everyone in the tavern ceased what they were doing to stare at the newcomer – there had been plenty of strange events as of late, but this guy was a new category in himself. Nobody had ever seen anyone like him before. Merk slipped out of her chair and headed to the tattooed warrior, but she needn’t have bothered - he moved towards her immediately. As soon as the rugged men around them turned back to their previous conversations, shaking their heads, the stranger abruptly addressed Merkaeytl after pulling out an ancient scroll with seven distinct symbols on it:

“Do you know anyone who has a tattoo like one of these symbols?”

This guy is even weirder than I thought, Merk thought, as she responded “Do you always start conversations this way?” She noticed that one of the seven runes on the scroll was a red hand, like the tattoo she’d seen upon occasion on the nape of Bandar’s neck.

Merk got the man to sit down while he proceeded to tell her a totally new and interesting story that surprised her a great deal, though she tried not to show it. Her acquaintance was anything but subtle and spilled his whole tale in the course of a few minutes without hesitation.

His name was Gholoth, and he was a psion. He sought the Azure Emperor, the ruler of the psionists in the golden age of psionics long ago. He wanted to find others with the symbols he wore, who represented the Wards of the seven Broken Houses. According to prophecy they would be able to help him find the Azure Emperor so they could restore their great empire.

The tale would have seemed pure fantasy to her, but it was too outrageous to be false. Gholoth seemed very strong in his views and convinced of the critical importance of his mission in the world. Also, Merk had seen Bandar’s tattoo and knew that it perfectly matched one of Gholoth’s seven tattoos, so there must be something to this story.

Merk suggested that Gholoth keep his mission under wraps a bit more – after all, he had told her everything of importance without knowing anything about her. It was news to her that a psionic emperor ruled these lands long ago, and there are probably few left who would know anything about it. Even so, few people would want a golden age of psionics to return. There’s bound to be opposition, so maybe Gholoth should watch what he says? The monk replied that he isn’t on a secret mission and he isn’t worried about enemies.

Merk failed to interest Gholoth in the quest to destroy the Temple of All Consumption, though she explained how vile it is and how serious a threat it poses. The single-minded psion was not interested in a side quest that might distract him. To keep his interest, Merk mentioned that she knows someone with a tattoo like the ones Gholoth has. The monk insisted that he meet and talk to this Ward. According to Gholoth, if the ward knew of the importance of finding the Azure Emperor, he would agree to help. Merk wouldn’t say any more until she talked to her friends, and the strange conversation ended there.

After Merk recounted this meeting with Gholoth to the rest of the Band following their final rites for Elias, they spotted Gholoth again. The headstrong monk approached and explained his quest to everyone, exactly as he had to Merk. Bandar immediately recognized the tattoo of the red hand that matched his tattoo, but he kept the mark hidden by his clothing and armor. He wondered to himself if he were the “House Ward” for House of Faerst and if so, what did that mean? Was this man one of the ‘Brotherhood’ that Tresh had warned them about in his note? It did not seem wise to tell Gholoth about his tattoo until they knew much more about him.

Lathander told Gholoth that they have seen all seven symbols that Gholoth seeks before, on their friend Eblis’ sword. Hearing that news, Gholoth’s eye went wide. He exclaimed that the blade was the Sword of Ages, given as a gift to the Azure Emperor and wielded by his descendents. He must find this man! Merk sensed a way to recruit Gholoth without telling him about Bandar’s mark and having Gholoth try and pull him away from the group. She said that Temple agents captured Eblis long ago and the only way to find him is to go into the mines and free him. This could be true, but in reality the group had no idea where Eblis was, but they could use a new companion, so nobody objected to Merk’s fabrication. Gholoth was ready and willing to go into the Temple to recover Eblis, so he joined the group.

Merk winked to the others as they set out for the Temple. Then she turned solemnly to Elias’ body, and took it away from town to do the elven rites before cremating it. She kept Elias’ house ring, sword, and his ashes, and sent off a letter with a merchant heading toward the elves. The letter explained Elias’ valiant sacrifice and let the elves know to come pick up his belongings. Merkaeytl thought back to all the companions they had lost, especially Strider, and her eyes welled up with tears.

Meanwhile, Lathander introduced Gholoth to the Band’s rule: each member was part of the team and was willing to give up his life for the others. Gholoth would have to prove his willingness to follow this rule – he would soon be tested. Lathander cast Bull’s Strength on Aramek and Gholoth in preparation for whatever they might face.

Bandar mused about what they had learned of the Temple after their last incursion. Before Merk had concluded that the Temple was a large loop with each of the four Elements ruling a quarter. In between each of the Elements were areas ruled by the Tharizdun cult overall – entrances on the east and west, and bridges to the center of the volcano at the north and south. Now they had found the South Western part mostly abandoned, and the dragon had told them that the Fire Temple was in the center of the volcano. So the Band had cleared the Western Entrance, the Earth Temple, the Northern Bridge Complex, and most of the dragon’s sector. The armored troll they had faced was probably from the Southern Bridge Complex, if their concept of the Temple was correct. Clearly, the water creature that had saved the party from the Earth Temple had expected them to destroy the Earth Temple and the Northern Bridge Complex and then prepare to go into the center. Instead, the Band had decided to clear the outer loop before going to the center. They could go through the Southern Bridge Complex, the Wind Temple, and the Eastern Entrance before encountering the Water Temple at the other side and deciding what to do next.

The group worked their way back through the tunnels of the Mines, checking the areas they had cleared before going any further. They went around the dragon’s lair and checked a side room they hadn’t explored the last time through. Inside they found strange hard animal droppings and a foul stench assaulted their nostrils. As they looked around, a sudden shower of acid from above surprised them. Gritting their teeth against the pain, the group looked up saw that there was a hidden ledge above them, occupied by a bizarre two-legged human-sized lizard with an acid-spouting snout. The group backed up, attacking the monster with whatever ranged weapons they had. Gholoth presented some new and helpful talent by using his mental powers to heal himself as he leapt back. The monk took note of Bandar’s mental blast of energy that pummeled the creature. The strange monster responded by jumping on Lathander and mauling him with its large claws. With great skill, Stacy came out of the shadows and tore into the beast with his dagger, then melted away again. Gholoth closed into melee with the beast using powerful kicks and punches, and kept it at bay. Aramek had earlier shaken his head that someone would go into the Temple without weapons or armor, but Gholoth was quickly proving why he had no need for either.

Now that the monster was amongst them, the party struck at it with their usual fervor. While Aramek and Lathander battered it with their weapons, Bandar fried the creature’s skin with psionic energy and Gholoth landed bone-breaking punches and kicks. Stacy would suddenly appear at an unexpected place and jab at the monster, then fall back and out of view. The monster managed another painful shower of acid, this time on just Lathander and Aramek. While they sputtered with pain, Gholoth did a series of powerful kicks that snapped the lizard’s neck in three different directions so it was utterly dead before it even hit the floor.

Bandar, in his usual understated way, simply said “I guess you don’t have to use weapons.” Gholoth pointed out that Bandar hadn’t used weapons either, and hadn’t said that he uses psionics. Bandar admitted that he uses psionics, but left it at that.

After ascertaining that the rest of the room was clear, the party healed and proceeded further. They passed through the cavern filled with mushrooms and explored a side cavern that they had bypassed on their last visit. There they found curious glowing fungi obviating the need for a lantern in the room. After a bit of searching they happily discovered a stash of gold and silver which they left so as not to burden them.

Beyond the Band found another large, fungi-filled cavern, this one littered with bones. In the lead of the group, Aramek and Gholoth discovered a deep pit the hard way. They were battered but alive. While the others readied ropes to drop down, Bandar noticed that a mound of mushrooms was moving toward the group, but nobody else could see it. By the time they could see the danger, it was too late – they glimpsed the creature’s eyes and lost control. Lathander sat down and began praying with his small shrine. Bandar felt as though he was wandering on a carefree night, and enjoyed the stars. Despair overcame Stacy, and he sobbed on his own. Aramek and Gholoth, busy climbing out of the deep pit, were disturbed by the sudden lack of communication with their companions above. Bandar thought that there was an “Orc” disturbing his peaceful nighttime walk, and attacked back, injuring the “Orc” with his spear.

Gholoth came out of the pit and saw what was going on. Thankfully, he resisted the fungi-covered Umber Hulk’s magical gaze, which had sent the others crazy. Aramek reached the top and resisted the magic as well, but the Umber Hulk ripped the dwarf with its claws before he could get to his feet. Stacy sat, jabbering in a foreign tongue while Lathander continued to pray fervently, both oblivious to the battle raging around them. Bandar snapped out of his reverie and tried to shake Lathander to his senses before blasting the monster with psionic energy. Gholoth and the Umber Hulk traded blows as Aramek flew into a rage and smashed the beast with mighty chops of his hammer. But the rest of the group were far less productive – Lathander thought Bandar was an unholy enemy disturbing his prayer and attacked him, but that was happily ineffective. Bandar returned to his dreamy star-lit walk disturbed by an “Orc,” and tried to impale his enemy, but thankfully missed.

Gholoth fell back from the fray to heal himself while Aramek went toe to toe with the Umber Hulk, trading blow for blow. Stacy believed he was in a dungeon, armed only with a dagger, and his jailer was coming. He attacked his jailer when he appeared…barely missing his own familiar with a stab of his dagger [again, thank goodness]! Aramek saved the group for the umpteenth time by crushing the life out of it with his massive hammer, which pulled the rest of the group out of their stupor. They sheepishly thanked the mighty dwarf and apologized to each other – though Stacy couldn’t find his cat anywhere (it wouldn’t return to him for hours). The Band decided to rest in that room and heal up until the next day. In the rear of the cavern, they found another large and heavy stash of valuables, including a 3’ copper statue of a dwarven warrior. They left these piles for later, but Gholoth kept a magical ring he found.

The night passed uneventfully. Gholoth and Bandar talked about psionics, including where they had found their powers and what they could do with them. Bandar was feeling more comfortable with Gholoth already, but certainly not ready to reveal his mark yet. Though when he mentioned the Brotherhood, Gholoth glowered – he’s pretty clearly not a member, which is good.

00Ash
Pie
(11/11/02 2:10:16 pm)
Reply
just...
...wanted to continue my support =]

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/11/02 2:26:03 pm)
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Thanks!
Thanks Ash! I know that writing should be its own reward and everything, but it is really nice to get positive feedback every so often...just to let you know that people are reading what you wrote:) Oh, and if you have any questions about the campaign, feel free to ask at any time.

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/11/02 8:50:31 pm)
Reply
Almost...
I have almost caught up with the logs from the time we paused playing...I need two more parts to session 14 to get completely caught up though. I think Part 2 should be coming along sometime this week, so nobody panic;) By the time I get the last part posted, I will more than likely be making new logs with a reunion of the old DnD group!

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/14/02 3:19:28 pm)
Reply
Session 14
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Session 14, Part 2- Trials and Tribulations (or “I know Kung Fu!”)

After resting a day the group was ready for another foray deeper into the treacherous temple. As they prepared, Bandar reminded everyone that they had cleared another quarter of the temple’s circumference, and would now probably face the minions of Tharizdun in the Southern Bridge Complex. The cavern where the Band had fought the trolls was probably the antechamber to the Complex, judging by the troll with Tharizdun armor that had emerged from the doorway beyond to help his fellow trolls. Though it seemed like every fight was extremely difficult, the fights against the Tharizdun fanatics at the West entrance and the Northern Bridge Complex had been particularly vicious and the party had barely emerged victorious. Another daunting battle like the previous ones probably awaited the group.

But there was some cause for celebration. Divine Pelor had heard Lathander’s humble prayers spoken from within this morass of evil. The God had welcomed his faithful cleric into the ranks of his elite as a Radiant Servant of Pelor. The handsome priest was shining at his impressive accomplishment that he had desired for so long. The others congratulated him, impressed by his aura of confidence and newfound power. Lathander was even more valuable to the party than before.

Proceeding cautiously, the Band moved forward past the scenes of its hard-won fights against the umber hulks and the trolls. Stacy crept ahead to the door from which the armored troll had emerged, and silently checked it for traps. As the party watched on in hushed anticipation, the halfling used his picks to open the door’s lock. With visible effort, Stacy cracked open the door without eliciting a creak from its hinges. The glow of a lantern beyond appeared through the ajar doorway.

As the small thief peeked inside, he got the fright of his life. Only his lightening reflexes, perfected over the years in a demanding and dangerous profession, saved him from being skewered by a gigantic blade that swept through the opening exactly where he had been a split second beforehand. The door flew from its hinges, revealing a massive troll bedecked in black armor encrusted with Tharizdun’s symbols, silhouetted in the light beyond. The creature carried a weapon with two ten-foot blades protruding in each direction, a twenty-foot long murderous monstrosity that no normal creature could wield. So much for surprise…

As Stacy tried to scramble to safety, the troll pounced and did a sweeping cut with its weapon. Stacy dodged as best he could, but the blade caught him and threw him across the cavern like a rag doll. The halfling recovered enough to attempt to cast a spell, but his pain ruined his concentration and the magic was lost. His friends rushed to the rescue – Bandar unleashed a psionic concussion, Aramek slammed the monster with his hammer, and Gholoth dared to engage with just his powerful kicks and punches.

Lathander trumped them all with a totally new spell: he summoned an angelic being from heaven! The lantern archon appeared, a globe of holy energy to help the group. It projected protective magic to good creatures nearby and disrupted evil creatures like the troll. The monster squinted against the new light nearby and swiped at Aramek, who miraculously remained unscathed from its gigantic chops.

Showing that even the littlest action can make all the difference, Stacy blocked out his pain and completed his Color Spray spell. The troll stopped its murderous sword sweeps to look at the pretty colors. The party was amazed and overjoyed at the troll’s vulnerability, and rushed to take advantage of the opportunity. Bandar unleashed waves of painful mental energy, Aramek repeatedly battered it with his hammer, and even the lantern archon did its share with small burning beams of light that raked the beast’s flesh. Gholoth was frustrated that even his best kicks and punches were useless against the stunned monster. Just before the troll came out of its daze, Lathander completed a Heat Metal spell, and started to agitate the enemy’s black armor.

Once the towering troll came to and registered the painful attacks from all sides, it retreated with bounding strides out of sight into the Complex. The members of the Band grinned at each other and pressed forward into the lit areas beyond. They were experienced enough to know that they shouldn’t get giddy over winning the first skirmish, and they checked the areas with quick precision as they moved into the unexplored areas. Led by Stacy (who was moving rapidly thanks to Expeditious Retreat), the party passed some umber hulk heads apparently kept as trophies. Gholoth healed himself with psionic energy and joined Aramek at the head of the main party. Lathander sent his archon ally ahead to follow the troll, and the floating being discovered the troll in a hallway beyond yelling into rooms for help. The holy creature fried the troll with its light rays while the monster’s armor continued to burn, leaving the troll screaming in pain. In the meantime, Lathander cast D -->>D ivine Power on himself, which literally made him shine with holy light and improved his fighting skills. It’s good to have a Radiant Servant of Pelor around…

The Band proceeded, checking side areas before moving ahead. They heard a clamor up ahead as the passage opened into a huge, wide, well-lit hallway extending hundreds of feet. Aramek peeked down a side corridor and groaned at what he saw – a pair of charging lizards with fangs and teeth barred (velociraptors). Lathander pulled up the rear, bringing D -->>D ivine Favor down on the group while his archon cast Aid on Gholoth.

The raptors collided with Aramek and Gholoth in a flurry of screeches, flying claws, swinging hammers, and mighty kicks. One beast clawed Aramek in the face, and he responded with a snarl and an angry attack that bowled the creature over. Gholoth’s fist loosened the other raptor’s razor-sharp teeth while the archon’s rays crackled through the air. Stacy fired on the monsters while Bandar started agitating their hides with psionics. Lathander completed Shield of Faith to boost his defense and smiled as he heard the troll with the scalding armor howling in the distance. Stacy noted with dismay that human warriors were pouring out of doors from the long hallway and converging on the group’s flank.

The Tharizdun soldiers closed in on the party but failed to do much damage, even though the group’s best fighters were facing the raptors on the other side. Some soldiers fired at the bright archon, a totally useless endeavor given the creature’s magical protections. Some swiped at Gholoth as he fought the snarling raptors, but the psionic monk was too quick for them. More soldiers were approaching from rooms farther down the hallway. Stacy and Bandar attacked the raptors from afar as the beasts ripped away at Gholoth and Aramek. One lizard bit the tough dwarf on the shoulder. Aramek angrily grabbed the monster by the neck, and with a crushing blow from his hammer he bashed in its skull in a shower of flying gore. Without hesitation, he closed in on Gholoth’s raptor and smashed it as well just as Gholoth broke some of its ribs with a strong kick. Lathander finished off his repertoire of preparatory spells with Fire Shield on himself, and his archon gave him Aid before its time expired and it returned to its plane of existence.

Tharizdun troops poured into the party’s midst, and more were coming. With enough targets in range now, Bandar let loose a psionically-charged Stomp that failed to knock any of the soldiers off their feet. Gholoth occupied the last raptor’s attention with several swift attacks before mighty Aramek killed the beast with another skull-shattering swing of his hammer.

Lathander then surprised the entire group with his next spell. He used Searing Light on the hallway of troops converging on the group, and Pelor had granted the spell tremendous power. There was a blinding flash of light and when it was gone there were just piles of ash where more than a dozen soldiers had been! The Band was left blinking, suddenly free of enemies. Unfortunately, that freedom lasted only a split second…

Down the raptor hallway a woman in dark robes stepped out of a doorway, followed by a half-orc in brightly-colored robes. They grimly unleashed powerful attacks on the party, which had already weathered several assaults. The wizardess sent a powerful fireball that exploded in the center of the group and only Gholoth managed to avoid with a swift jump out of the blast. When the flames receded, Stacy was an unmoving heap on the ground, with Bandar, Lathander, Aramek groaning with pain. Aramek’s groans turned to a howl when the half-orc shot energy into the wall nearby, spraying the hardened dwarf with a shower of stone shards that cut him deeply. Aramek was worse for wear, even with Lathander’s Shield Other spell (cast before the battle) absorbing some of the damage.

Yet the two new spellcasting foes were not all of the Band’s new troubles. The troll with the searing hot armor reappeared down the hallway, still furious and in pain. Now he’d brought his boss, though, who made the troll look downright friendly. Next to the towering troll was a huge ogre with bat-like wings, carrying a two-handed sword, and wearing a red gem necklace. (The hulking goblin-like spellcaster at the Northern Bridge Complex had a similar necklace). With a chuckle, the newest and mightiest foe sent a dark wave of power into the battered party’s midst. This time the group stubbornly resisted its effects, except Bandar, who was left in pain and retching from the corruptive power.

Despite the thorough pounding he had received in the last few seconds, Bandar ran up to the massive ogre and troll and launched his most impressive psionic attack, a deafening Cone of Sound. The Ogre shrugged off the ear-splitting attack, but the troll was in pain. Lathander cast Magic Weapon and gave his mace magical power for the coming fight. Aramek charged the hulking monstrosities towering over Bandar, falling into a rage. He ducked the troll’s huge blade and suffered a tremendous cut from the Ogre to close the distance and deal both foes some painful blows.

In the meantime, Gholoth took on both the wizardess and half-orc casters at once. Tangling with such powerful enemies alone would normally be the end of even an experienced warrior, but Gholoth was a cut above the rest. He ran straight through a magical barrier the spellcasters had created to protect them, and knocked the wizardess back with a punch. She reacted by running up the wall away from Gholoth and out of reach, apparently having cast Spider Climb on herself before the battle. The half-orc seared the psionic monk with magical rays from his eyes, but Gholoth countered the damage with a psionic ability that reduced its effects.

Normally the wizardess would be removed from combat, perched high on the wall as she was, and free to let loose deadly spells. Gholoth was not the least concerned, using his psionic powers to run up onto the wall to face her. He smiled to himself when he saw how perturbed the woman was. When she released a tremendous lightning bolt directly into the tattooed monk, he reacted instantly. Gholoth threw himself to the side (against the ceiling) and dodged the bolt utterly. If he had any hair on his bald head, it would be standing straight up. The powerful warrior did not change his expression despite his narrow escape from death, but the wizardess had changed her expression – there was a look of sheer terror on her face! [DM notes: This fight was straight out of “The Matrix,” I kid you not…]

Bandar stood next to powerful Aramek and let loose a Stomp that knocked the Troll to the ground but didn’t phase the mighty ogre mage. Lathander came behind Aramek and cast defensively, healing some of his comrade’s worst wounds (and still suffering from those Aramek had suffered before). He completed his spell in the knick of time, because both the recovering troll and the huge ogre worked together to chop into Aramek from both sides, leaving him staggering. Being hit with two ten foot blades by towering creatures would fell even a veteran fighter, but Aramek was made of sterner stuff. The others are always stunned at how much of a beating the great dwarf can absorb. Just as Aramek cried out, he heard an answering call from a strangely familiar voice. He thought his mind was playing tricks on him during what seemed his final moments alive.

Lathander had enough time to turn and see brave Sentien charge onto the scene, wearing banded mail and carrying his sword high. The sight of the mighty paladin arriving refreshed his sagging spirits in the desperate, losing fight for the Southern Bridge Complex. Lathander didn’t care why Sentien was there, he just felt overjoyed that their trusted companion had returned in the nick of time, even without new plate armor.

Aramek had already shown his mettle many times over in this battle, but he yet again proved his worth with another stunning deed. Covered in his own blood and that of his enemies, groaning from pain due to multiple horrible wounds, Aramek still managed another stunning attack. During the moment when the Ogre mage was distracted by Sentien’s arrival, Aramek lunged forward at its knees. The monster stooped low to fend off any crippling attack, unintentionally leaving itself open. Aramek lost no time in scrambling back and sending his warhammer home directly between the Ogre’s eyes with strength that would have made a giant jealous. For the third time in a minute, stout Aramek caved in the skull of an opponent, just this time it was the head of the enemy leader! The large beast collapsed with a shudder, spelling disaster for the troll that remained.

As only Aramek could do, he followed up the deadly blow on the Ogre with a bone-shattering hit on the troll, who was falling back in horror. It’s armor was finally cooling off, but it was severely weakened and suddenly outmatched. Lathander closed in with his mace, testing the creature’s defenses and not letting it get away.

On the other front, Gholoth was also in the midst of heroic deeds. The half-orc spellcaster had drunk a potion to levitate into the fight between the wizardess and the psionic monk. The wizardess ran off her wall, onto the ground, and then up on the other wall with her Spider Climb, and then unleashed another lightning bolt at Gholoth, around the same time that her companion released bolts of energy as he had done earlier. Impossibly fast and agile, Gholoth merely dodged both attacks completely, shocking both casters and filling them with dread. They had used up their greatest power without even singeing Gholoth, who had now avoided four powerful offensive spells! Gholoth coolly accepted his fortune and skill, and advanced undeterred. He ran off his wall, across the floor, and onto the wizardess’ wall, where he nearly broke all her teeth with a massive punch as she watched on in shock. The half-orc took stock of the situation, then turned tail and ran!

Meanwhile, Sentien stooped over Stacy and brought the downed adventurer back to consciousness with a Cure Light Wounds spell. Further down the hallway, the troll tried to avoid Lathander, who was sheathed in magical flame from his earlier spells. The troll couldn’t connect with the two dwarves, and was hard-pressed as the group focused on it now – Stacy fired with his crossbow, Bandar prepared an attack, and Aramek was doggedly on the monster’s heels. Behind the troll, a group of eight gnolls charged into view, but they stopped ten feet short of the group for some reason.

In the meantime, the injured and desperate wizardess begged for her life from impassive Gholoth, whom she had tried to kill several times. As the psionic monk considered his options, Stacy relieved him of the choice. The halfling saw what was going on and ended the spellcaster’s life with a well-aimed shot to the head. Her body fell limply to the ground. Stacy nodded to Gholoth and turned his attention back to the main fight. The tattooed man shrugged and walked off the wall.

Sentien charged into the fray with the armored troll, who reminded the group that he was still very dangerous by carving into the paladin with his twin-bladed sword. Sentien grimaced, wishing he had his armor back. Bandar stepped forward to face the gnolls, bursting a Cone of Sound over the group of monsters. Despite the well-placed attack that made the air course with waves of potent psionic energy, the gnolls seemed utterly unaffected. Bandar growled in frustration, having expected that attack to finish the gnolls off. Yet Bandar’s attack and Aramek’s brutal attacks against the troll convinced the beasts to make a hasty retreat. Gholoth returned to the group from his little noticed but amazingly successful side battle where he bested two powerful spellcasters without even suffering a scratch.

Now the Band faced just one injured troll, exactly as the battle had begun. Sentien failed to penetrate the beast’s considerable armor and Stacy missed from afar. Bandar used some of the last of his mental energy to knock the monster off its feet with Stomp after it hit Aramek yet again. In his final revenge, Aramek nearly knocked the troll’s head off, snapping its neck. [Talk about doing most of the damage for the group...]

Gholoth sprinted to the troll’s corpse while Lathander healed struggling Aramek. As Sentien made sure the beast stayed down with chops from his blade, Lathander lit the monster’s body on fire. The Band saw a door fly open and the half-orc go scurrying across the wide hallway up ahead with a tome tucked under his arm, but nobody wanted to pursue another enemy. They watched with satisfaction as they ended the armored troll’s life...then noticed with surprise that the supposedly dead ogre mage was slowly dragging himself away. His ugly head no longer seemed so caved in – he must have regenerated! As the Band moved to make sure the ogre stayed dead, it turned to gas and dissipated. They reacted with groans – why couldn’t it stay dead? Who wanted to face that thing again?

Regardless, the immediate fight was over, and the group fell back quickly, remarkably intact given the foes they had just overcome. As they jogged back through the passages to the surface, they asked Sentien why he had returned.

“I came back from my quest for new armor because I couldn’t bear to leave my friends to face the Temple. Staying here and helping was more important than getting new armor. It’s good to be back.”

The whole Band agreed that it was great to have Sentien back, especially in the midst of this tough battle. Stacy was especially grateful, since he would have perished without Sentien’s healing. Lathander formally introduced Sentien to Stacy and Gholoth, new since he had left.

The group camped outside that night, regaling stories of what had taken place in their momentous fight against the Southern Bridge Complex. They agreed that what Aramek and Gholoth were incredible and probably saved the party from destruction. Gholoth had already earned a very respected place in the Band of the Rising Sun.

They healed and rested, preparing themselves to return yet again; this time to finish off the slaves of Tharizdun in the Southern Bridge Complex.

Siobharek 
Orc
(11/15/02 12:27:53 am)
Reply
Re: Session 14
Hah, I read this with the "Gladiator" soundtrack on. Good stuff...

Siobharek
...it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/15/02 5:46:51 am)
Reply
Re: Session 14
This is always the story of my part...life and death battles that either swing one way or just barely in their favor:)

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/15/02 7:53:38 pm)
Reply
Anyone else notice this?
I realized that Aramek was key to the party's survival many times, but I hadn't realized how much of a monster this guy was! I mean in every fight he is dishing out a sick amount of damage!!! I don't know if anyone else has a guy like this in your party, but it is manditory for this type of adventure:)

Killiak
Pie
(11/16/02 2:38:10 am)
Reply
Re: Anyone else notice this?
Hack and Slash, min-maxed powergaming the way it should be ;)

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/16/02 6:45:07 am)
Reply
Re: Anyone else notice this?
"Hack and Slash, min-maxed powergaming the way it should be."

The funny thing about Aramek is that neither his stats nor his classes are really "maxed out." It's just that he rolls at least two criticals every time we play so everyone just assumes that this guy is 100% badass...I think the entire strategy behind the party is to keep him alive so that he can kill everyone:) He's a really fun character too.

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/17/02 3:30:33 pm)
Reply
Session 14
Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Session 14, Part 3- Return to the Southern Bridge Complex (or “Fight to Death scene, Take 2…and ACTION!”)

The night outside the Temple was restless. The Band of the Rising Sun constantly heard ear-splitting howling from the surrounding hills that disturbed their sleep. Even so, by the morning they were fully healed and had their spells prepared. They ventured back in to finish off the Southern Bridge Complex.

Deep into the Mines the Band crossed the threshold into the Southern Complex, where they had originally faced the armored troll. Stacy scouted ahead, looking for any signs of movement, while the rest slowly and carefully searched. The area was eerily, deathly silent. Listening behind doors and looking down hallways, all the group found was piles of ash of creatures they had incinerated. The raptor cage was empty except for old droppings and some bits of torn meat. Stacy moved down one hallway and found an empty armory and a maze of other hallways as of yet unexplored.

The main body of the party happened upon a large, plush bedroom with two doors on each side. The room was filled with sweet smelling incense, and brightly colored glyphs decorated the walls. As the Band examined the place, Stacy was some ways beyond, moving down the long, brightly lit hallway. He found a bridge over water, but that wasn’t what surprised him. Lying in wait were a group of gnolls, the half-orc spellcaster, and a hulking Giant with a huge club! Stacy took one look and turned to run, but found himself facing the Ogre Mage, which materialized before him with a grin on his face. With a yelp, Stacy sprinted away, ending up in the hallway beyond the room where the party was still poking around.

Gholoth went out the door the party had come into the room and found some gnolls gathering there (the enemies were surrounding the group). He took off down the hallway and arrived just in time to see a batch of gnolls closing on poor Stacy in the passage beyond. Hearing Gholoth’s warnings echoing through the walkways, Aramek opened the far door to the bedroom and found a Giant and some growling gnolls beyond.

A flurry of events quickly followed. Lathander summoned another Lantern archon to help the group. The Giant pummeled Aramek with its enormous club, eliciting some strained grunts from the hardy dwarf. One group of gnolls surrounded Gholoth and Stacy outside and tore into Stacy, but were unable to make a mark on the psionic monk. Half a dozen other gnolls poured into the Band’s room but didn’t disrupt the group with their opening attacks. Two gnolls around the Giant fired on Aramek from afar, but his black dragon scale armor fended off their arrows. Sentien methodically went to work on the gnolls in the room, dispatching one quickly and wounding another, making such attacks look easy. Bandar was less successful neutralizing gnolls with a Stomp, but Stacy did quite well with his magic. The diminutive halfling tumbled away from the wicked flails the gnolls carried and rapidly let loose his Color Spray, which left most of his opponents unconscious, but stunned Gholoth unintentionally.

Aramek, as the party’s front-line fighter, went toe-to-toe with a Giant twenty times his size. He gave the monster a reason to howl with some wallops from his hammer. Yet he had new adversity to deal with when the half-orc appeared and fired off a spell, which failed because the dumb Giant was in the way (thank goodness). As Lathander’s lantern archon arrived it brought magical protections and boosts for the adventurers and restrictions for their opponents within the small confines of the strange room.

Meanwhile, outside in the hallway, Gholoth suddenly returned to the fight with the pain brought about from a gnoll’s swinging flail and saw his helpless, stunned opponents. With a rapid flurry of kicks and punches he pummeled two of the stunned enemies before him, ignoring the gnoll that had brought him out of is magically-induced reverie. Aramek dodged the Giant’s terrible club and smashed into its side with his weapon, but didn’t emerge unscathed – the spells the half-orc cast had begun to take their toll on the sturdy dwarf. While Lathander’s archon killed a gnoll with its magical rays, the priest took a daring chance and cast Shield Other on Aramek. Now, if either Aramek or Sentien, the group’s frontline warriors, suffered any wounds, Lathander would absorb half the damage! Very selfless, but very dangerous (Lathander soon had to drop his connection with Sentien because he was suffering too much through his connection with Aramek). Among the remaining gnolls one ripped into Bandar and another into Gholoth, but Sentien reduced their numbers further with more impressive swordplay. In the hallway, Stacy did the same with a coup de grace against a stunned opponent. Continuing to wipe out the gnolls, Bandar knocked another over with Stomp.

It was not a good time to be a fanatic gnoll footsoldier. Sentien continued his steady pace of killing one gnoll every few seconds while Gholoth killed two of the stunned creatures outside, continuing to ignore the ones that could defend themselves. The archon finished a wounded one off with its rays, and Stacy stabbed a still standing opponent with his dagger. Whatever footsoldiers were left did nothing to the Band. Aramek suffered yet another smashing blow from the Giant and didn’t get past its thick hide to return the pain. The half-orc aimed beyond sturdy Aramek and hit Lathander with its magical missiles. Bandar responded to the pesky half-orc with a bruising wave of Concussion that sent it a few steps back.

If it weren’t for the Giant and the party being split in half, they were doing quite well so far. The half orc had felt enough pain (again) and turned tail and ran. Gholoth killed the last stunned gnoll and kicked another so hard it was reeling. Aramek snarled and rushed between the Giant’s legs, nearly taking off a kneecap with his mighty hammer swings.

Just when things looked good, the Ogre Mage appeared in the rear door and immediately unleashed a Cone of Cold on the unsuspecting room, which sent ice shards all over. The last gnoll in the room died instantly, and the archon was so battered it returned to its plane. Lathander, Sentien, and Bandar managed to avoid the worst of the effects, but that still left them torn by sharp ice and chilled to the bone. Lathander yet again thought of others first and cast Shield of Faith on Aramek to continue his fight with the massive Giant. Yet despite the dwarf’s size, thick armor, and spell defenses, the tremendous monster let out a howl and bashed Aramek another terrifying blow that would have killed another stout hero. Thanks to Lathander, Aramek didn’t feel the full force of that Olympic swing. Outside the room, Stacy fell under the vicious assault of one of the remaining gnolls, leaving only Gholoth to face of the rest and to defend his fallen party member.

But the news turned good again almost immediately. Sentien shook of the terrible cold and charged the Ogre Mage head on, his sword held high. Avoiding the monster’s skilled defenses, the paladin cut deeply into the beast with his shining blade bright with power. Bandar helped return the onslaught with a tremendous release of his mental power, which caught the Ogre off guard and tore through it like a storm.

While outside Gholoth finished off one of two remaining gnolls around him, Aramek roared and blasted into the now weakening Giant. The dwarven warrior was aided by some powerful healing from Lathander. The Giant repeated its mighty swings at Aramek, but the dwarf deftly dodged and the hulking monster bashed in the doorway as it missed. The Ogre Mage was again bested, turned to vapor and disappeared, much to Sentien and Bandar’s disappointment. Bandar turned his attention on the two gnolls next to the Giant that he could glimpse, and slammed one with a Concussion. Sentien swiped at the air where the Ogre had been as he charged out of the room and around to the hallway where Gholoth was fending off his opponent. The paladin passed that side battle and approached the Giant from its flank, to help Aramek in his key contest.

Gholoth was tired, fighting with yet another footsoldier after a vicious battle with a large group of gnolls that now lay dead at his feet, next to Stacy’s unconscious form. He was nearly done and felt close to a break, when suddenly a hulking wolverine charged into view and rushed at the psionic monk. Only Gholoth’s quick reflexes saved him from the wolverine’s bite. Aramek, now utterly enraged, had chased the wounded Giant out into the hallway, ripping into it and accepting the brute’s powerful blows. Lathander followed, healing Aramek, though he had to concentrate through a hefty blow from the Giant and a strike from a nearby gnoll. After absorbing so much damage on Aramek’s behalf, Lathander was tottering with overwhelming pain.

Yet the group continued to concentrate on the Giant, sensing that victory was near. Bandar ignored the gnoll to his side as he too stepped into the hallway and assaulted the Giant with a powerful Concussion, weakening it further. [DM note: I could almost see the words “DIE, DIE!” being chanted inside my PCs heads…] Sentien carved into it with his shining blade, bringing the beast to one knee. Gholoth finished off his gnoll opponent with a kick to the head that snapped its neck. Aramek pulled the tottering Giant’s legs out from under it and bashed in its face with a move now known as the ‘Aramek special.’

Unfortunately, the battle was far from over. The wolverine was still tearing into Gholoth, two gnolls were pestering Bandar, and the Ogre Mage was still alive. Far, far worse, a thunderous roar filled the hallways, and a new opponent rushed into view and would soon be in the fray – another massive hill Giant! The party’s hopes of surviving the desperate fight intact began to sink – they were already battered, and killing the first Giant had been a feat when they were still fresh to the fight. Now they were all hurting and not ready to feel the monster’s huge club. Lathander kept himself conscious with a light healing spell while Sentien stepped in to help Gholoth and chopped into the wolverine. The gnolls missed Bandar, but required his attention enough so that he felt it necessary to knock one over with Stomp.

Gholoth summoned the last of his energy and battered the wolverine with his fists and powerful kick. The wolverine responded by taking the psionic monk down with its raking claws and powerful bite, then it clawed into Sentien for good measure. Gholoth had bravely protected Stacy against half a dozen gnolls and then a large wolverine, and now fell where Stacy was motionlessly lying. Aramek put the last two gnolls facing Bandar out of their misery with some idle swings of his mighty hammer.

Meanwhile, the new Giant entered the fray, bowling into Sentien and nearly knocking him sprawling with a sweep of his tree-sized club. Sentien recovered as best he could from the Giant’s terrible blow and attempted to finish off the wolverine with a series of expert chops from his blade – the beast was certainly hurting, but stubbornly held on, perhaps sensing that the Giant had turned the tide of the desperate battle. Bandar closed with the Giant and put to use some of his dwindling mental energy to try and knock the Giant over with Stomp, but the angry monster easily avoided the psionic effects. Though Aramek was battered from facing down one Giant already almost single-handedly, he steeled himself for another similar fight and all the ensuing pain. Lathander helped by using one of his last spells to heal some of Aramek’s harshest wounds. The old friends exchanged knowing looks – taking on a fresh Giant when the Band was so worn down did not bode well, but they had no choice. Lathander was also badly hurt from all the pain he had shared with his comrades through spells, and knew that he may not survive this fight.

The battle had entered its final and most desperate stage. Aramek charged the huge Giant and somehow avoided its club as he moved in and tore into the creature. Aramek ducked under another one of the Giant’s attacks, but didn’t avoid the club when it came crashing down on him yet again. He and Lathander shuddered with shared pain. The ragged priest used his final spell to heal himself so he could share more blows with Aramek, and wished with all his heart that the amazingly hardy dwarf would somehow finish off the hulking Giant before it killed them all. In another last ditch effort, Bandar closed in with the Giant and used the final surge of his mental reserves to try and knock it down. His heart sank when the trembling ground failed to faze the huge creature.

Sentien fended off the wolverine’s snarling maw and raking claws as it tried to finish him off, but he had the last word. Sentien distracted the wolverine with a grazing blow to its flank, then used that split second window of time to cut through its defenses. The mighty paladin’s sword tore through the beast’s throat and then plunged deep into its body, ending the vicious monster’s life.

Aramek moved as close as he could to being between the Giant’s legs to avoid its worst attacks. The tactic worked as the Giant tried to move and bash the dwarf but Aramek doggedly stayed underneath. The sturdy fighter had to avoid the Giant’s huge feet nearly crushing him, but still managed to bash the monster’s legs repeatedly so it howled in pain. Demonstrating what dire straits they were in, Lathander had only a Cure Minor Wounds to use on himself so he could help absorb Aramek’s damage. Sentien, in one of the smartest moves of the whole battle, laid hands on Gholoth and cured the psionic monk back to consciousness. Gholoth gave the paladin a look of thanks and stepped away from the fray to cure himself using his strange powers.

Bandar was desperate to draw the Giant’s attention away from Aramek by presenting himself as a target. Having no psionic power left, Bandar attacked the huge monster with Tresh’s spear, not really expecting to penetrate the beast’s thick hides. The spear gave him a tremendous surprise. As Bandar struck, the weapon drained some of his energy in a rush, then shone with power a split second before it unleashed the energy in an explosion that tore into the Giant. The psion was pleased at the unexpected power of his new weapon, despite the drain he felt. What perfect timing to discover a new and powerful attack!

With single-minded intensity, Aramek ripped into the Giant again. By now the creature had managed to keep the pesky dwarf out from under its bleeding legs, and it bashed Aramek with its club. Both Aramek and Lathander groaned with pain, both barely holding on. Lathander didn’t even have minor spells to cast any more, and could only load his crossbow and hope to help in a little way. He knew that one more shared blow with Aramek would be the end of him. Sentien gave the group some hope by closing to engage with the Giant. Despite his grievous wounds, he wasn’t as badly off as Aramek! Gholoth continued to heal himself with his inner strength, knowing that the battle might rest on his shoulders when Aramek fell. Bandar continued to try and get the big brute’s attention with his attacks, but failed to hurt it or draw its concentration away.

Aramek took the Giant to one knee by crushing one of its kneecaps with his hammer. The badly wounded monster still managed to slam Aramek, who had already absorbed countless blows from massive clubs during the battle. Miraculously, Aramek stayed standing, mostly because Lathander had helped take the blow. The good priest’s eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed – it was remarkable that he had lasted so long as is! Sentien repeatedly slashed at the Giant and Bandar attacked from the other side, but neither could hurt the mighty beast. Gholoth came flying into the fray with a powerful kick that broke several of the Giant’s ribs and caused it to gasp for breath.

The last foe’s time was clearly short, and the party sensed it. They closed in and took risked they normally wouldn’t have dreamed of, getting very close to the terrible club to find any sort of opening that might finish the battle. Aramek found the opportunity first and sent his hammer into the beast’s windpipe, snapping its powerful neck. It collapsed with a tremendous thud, leaving the Band gasping from the exertion.

The Band was in no mood to celebrate. They knew that even a small group of enemies might finish them off in this state. Not even stopping to search for any valuables on their fallen foes, they scooped up Lathander and Stacy’s unconscious forms and left the Southern Bridge Complex in a hurry – the second near death battle in the same place! They had fought with every ounce of physical, magical, and mental strength they had, and had barely squeaked by. Later they would remember in stunned amazement how Aramek slew not one but two Giants in back-to-back, toe-to-toe contests! Was there anything this hardy dwarf couldn’t kill?!?

One matter was clear: if the Band had another ‘clean-up’ fight like that, it could very well get wiped out!

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/17/02 3:43:31 pm)
Reply
Done aaaaand done!
I'm finally caught up with the story line...WOHOO! This week we play again!

Next time: Bandar's past revieled and the past revisited!

Killiak
Pie
(11/17/02 3:57:07 pm)
Reply
Re: Done aaaaand done!
.......Damn.......... Holy.............. Wow............

SolidSnake
Pie
(11/17/02 4:09:13 pm)
Reply
Know how you feel Killiak
Yeah...that's how I felt too when that fight was over...like I needed a smoke or something to calm me down;)

SolidSnake
Here for a while
(2/3/03 7:33:37 pm)
Reply
Rizzen's Interlude
[Note: I had given my player the notes for the last five sessions and thus far he had been too busy to complete the assignment. After much pestering, I finally got him to cough up something constructive to the story writing process. This segment introduces the background of an important figure in the campaign...although my player was supposed to write up the sessions, I guess he got a little carried away. Anyway, without further ado: the first installment of many subsequent posts!!]


Millennia ago the race of elves, driven by internal conflict and war, divided. The nation of fare-skinned, nature loving feys was tainted with hatred and malice and those with such sinister hearts journeyed underground away from the light of the sun and the cheer of their brethren. The darkness in their souls eventually manifested itself into their very appearance and the race of drow was born. For all of their infamy and treachery the history and culture of the drow is a sad story. Lloth pits her children against one another forming such a society of chaos that life is but a dream…survival is reality.

My name is Rizzen and this is my story:

I was born a male. My father was executed because he did not produce a first born daughter, but me instead. My mother, losing status in not producing a female, was assassinated by a competing house when I was but a toddler.

I remember nothing else of my young childhood.

I was sent to the school of arcana when I was 17, the youngest student the academy ever had. As a product of drow society, I shared many of my brethrens traits. I had killed several students who were outperforming myself and even silenced one of the professors. Such discourse was common if not expected. Of course, one must realize that every victim of my treachery would have done (and was in fact going to do) the same to me. My professor had in fact been paid to slip a lethal lotus poison into my next edible spell component But I digress, I will not bore you.

After several years of training I came across a book from the surface, from the nation of elves. It was written in a rare combination of ancient elvish and draconic, entitled The schism. It outlined the entire history leading up to the civil war among elves. I never learned who wrote it, whether the person was an elf or a dragon. However, I suspect that only a dragon could have provided such wisdom and insight. More than a factorial account of what actually happened leading up to the creation of the drow, the book provided insight as to why it happened. Perhaps most importantly, the book gave a detailed account of how things could have been different: if the King had shown mercy to the assassin that murdered his son; if the bastard daughter to the heir had not coveted the power of the crown so; if Forgive me, I, again digress.

The book was really quite influential in my life. It provided an outside perspective to my own life and empowered me to step outside the box that was my society to see it for what it really was a perversion of competition. It is interesting that there is no direct translation in the drow language for the word you would call trust. Rather the word we use would roughly translate to the condition for which one is unable to betray. A drow would trust his servant as a tyrant would trust his subject in that when one is powerless to betray whether that be from fear or weakness, the one which holds power over that person can trust that person. Now that I have both understanding and realization of the original (elvish) meaning, I can almost laugh at the fact that the Drow’s translation is by its very nature oxymoronic almost.

I bring up the word trust because it reflects my life, at that time I could trust no one in either sense of the word. I most certainly could not trust Kelim, the son of the assassin of my mother. My aptitude for magic angered the head of the house that assassinated my mother especially with my scores always surpassing that of her sons. Her bitterness and her sons jealousy quickly ejected me from the school, a story I do not wish to recount here in detail. Suffice it to say that I barely escaped with my life.

Surface elves have an interesting conception of what it means to be alive. Ancient elvish actually has two completely separate definitions: one relates to the physical biological aspect of what you might say it means to be alive: breathing, eating, drinking,sleeping, reproducing, etc. The other is what I believe warrants attention. To be alive To experience love, to experience pain, to experience joy, to experience sadness, to run, to stand still, to sing, to dance, to unite with nature, to be free, to learn, to, the list goes on for 4 complete pages in what I would consider the authorative version of the dictionary of ancient elvish.

As I stated earlier, to survive is reality. Well, more appropriately put it is to survive or to perish. It would be misleading to say that I was living in both senses of the words. Rather, I was surviving. I was the prey, the entire drow society the predator. I quickly learned the art of evasion. I became good, I got better, and eventually I dare say I was the best, at least in my city. I could disappear faster than a genius could think of a way faster than what I just suggested. I was so good and so conditioned to being on my own that I, in effect, became a nobody. Unfortunately that in itself was power and where there is power there is danger. My limited magical skills and my reliance on the mundane for invisibility could not shield me from the eyes of those with more mighty magic.

I often wonder how things would have turned out if I had just decided to leave my forsaken homeland rather than hold on. I don’t know what influenced me to continue to play cat and mouse when I could have just left so much earlier. Perhaps it was the sadistic version of competition that was so engrained in me. Whatever it was, it doomed me to the fate I recount below.

I was summoned to the ruling house of the city. They politely requested that I act as their house assassin. I had staged my own death earlier and as a result, virtually on one knew I was even alive and anyone who did thought I was somebody else. It was explained tome that I was the perfect assassin and for the ruling house, I was it did not matter whether I was successful or not because I could not be traced. With all of my efforts to hide, I was found and I was turned into the houses puppet with little choice. The alternative to doing the houses dirty work would be an eternity of pain and torture whether in this life or the next. You can guess which route I chose.

I was given the most powerful of tools and for several years lived a reclusive life fantasizing about the intricacies of magic and a world different than the society of the drow while my blade gave eternal slumber to those already asleep. I killed male or female, adult or child, slave or noble, resident or visitor…it did not matter. When a mark was selected they were as good as dead. They would have died by another if not me. I feel nothing when I recall that time of my life. I did not even have a choice.

Several months ago I was given a special assignment. This was handed down directly from the head of the priesthood and I knew that to fail this meant worse than death. I was told that two drow had forsaken Lloth in favor of some long forgotten god named Tharizdun. I was to find these two drow and kill them using a sacrificial dagger blessed by a recently summoned yochol. I was driven to my knees by the power of this dagger. It practically crackled with raw deity-infused power. This was no simple task…I recognized the two names given to me, the most powerful wizard in the city and one of the highest ranking priestesses. I was given a suicide mission.

I reluctantly accepted, given a battalion of some of the finest warriors the city had to offer and several wizards. Remarkably, all the drow in this war party were male, something I still don’t understand…perhaps it was to add insult to the targets deaths to be killed only by males. We traversed the underdark for two months suffering minor casualties as we went. I actually was surprised that we had made it so far. Perhaps it was by design or perhaps by luck, but my tracker eventually caught sight of the signature magical residue left by drow magic. I presume it was by design, whether on the part of our ambushers or someone else, because that trail passed through a hive of hook horrors and they were prepared for us. Scores of chitinous bodies littered the ground before my last warrior fell.

They had surrounded us, so escape was never an option. The battle attracted the attention of worse denizens of the underdark and using the third parties as a distraction I narrowly managed to escape. Between several acid splashes by some of the hook horrors pets, 3 cave-ins, and melee, my equipment was destroyed. All the vials of specially prepared poison were ruined, spreading over the rock strewn ground. I was alone, I was unequipped, I was in trouble, I was scared. To fail this meant worse that anything I could imagine and my imagination has been tempered by decades of life in one of the most ruthless societies known in the multiverse.

I reverted back to the unseen shadow that had kept me alive for so many years past. I could not turn back so I pressed forward.

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