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Briar Beast
(3/8/04 7:21 am)
Campaign Log: The Vampire Slayers
I figure it's about time that I start keeping a proper log, instead of littering the forum with individual threads after almost every session. So to start it off, I went through the archives (including ZansForCans' Page 21 archive), and collected an index of all of my previous log-like postings to the forum. Many of these are really threads where I ask questions about how to pull off various scenes in my game, but there's enough context in them to get a good background on the game to date.

Chat's tactics vs. Utreshimon
Foreshadowing Thrommel
Reinforcing the Moathouse
Doppleganging a player
Lost Jaroo -- what now?
Would Naquent send a second wave to Hommlet?
A different Nierethi Poscurian thread
Potion of Glibness in Verbobonc stores?
Mereclar's letter from Naquent
I talk too much
Which gate's really easier?
Assault on the main gate
Dueling for pinks in the earth temple?
Long lost descendant of Yan-C-Bin in the Earth Temple?
A nasty turn of events in Rastor
Ideas for the Air Temple/South Gate?
Loose threads dangling
"Radiation Incident" for the 3.5 switch
Identifying the Keys?
First contact from Varachan?
Trogdor the Frostinator
Getting back the Keys and the Sword?
Riu is way underrated
Tessimon killed without firing a shot! (archive)
Missed the Sword of Water (archive)
Side plot: selling the Amulet of Inescapable Location (archive)
Attack of the Demonstone (archive)
How to get a Demonic Arm in advertising... (archive)
The Restocked Earth Temple (archive)
Need background for Demonstone (archive)
PBEM interlude in my campaign (archive)
Thrommel's reaction to Fragarach? (archive)
Coded letter from Varachan to D'Gran (archive)
Need plot idea for alternative party (archive)
Ukemil attacking in Rastor? (archive)
Rewarding the party for the Dwarven temple (archive)
What's next for Hedrack? (archive)
Pushing forward the timeline (archive)
Nierethi Poscurian, Champion of Elemental Evil (archive)
Help with side plot for big beefy barbarian? (archive)
A Death in the family (archive)
The Vampire hits the fan (archive)
Map of the Outer Fane from Varachan (archive)
Two more deaths. (archive)
Where should Thrommel's new coffin go? (archive)
Planar Ally for the good guys (archive)
Jolene, Thrommel, and the King of Furyondy (archive)

Edit: changed links for a few expired messages to point to Zans' page 21 archive, and added archive links for the rest in advance.

Edited by: msherman at: 3/17/04 8:20 am
Briar Beast
(3/8/04 8:49 am)
Escape to Verbobonc
The next few log entries come from a PBEM exchange with Chase and Hamish, when they escaped to Verbobonc with Varachan after the events described in, "The Vampire Hits The Fan."

It's about 2pm on August 19th, when you arrive in the private shrine reserved for ranking priests at the Cathedral of Pelor in Verbobonc. Varachan lies unconscious on the floor, and his as-yet-unnamed slave girl clings weeping to Hamish's leg. Chase stands at the ready, Revenge in hand, just in case.

You are greeted by Father Ormalius, a relatively high ranking staff priest at the Cathedral. "Father Hamish! I am so glad that the scroll reached you in time to facilitate your escape. Your message had us very worried. Here, let me assist your friend."

He begins to cast a healing spell on Varachan, but Hamish quickly interrupts him. "Wait. My friend here is under the effects of mind controlling magic. We must dispel it before reviving him."

"Oh, thank you! That would have been awkward, indeed!" Ormalius casts Detect Magic, to identify the nature of the Domination. Then, he casts Dispel Evil, and touches Varachan. You notice Varachan's neck and shoulder muscles visibly loosen at Ormalius' touch. Ormalius then begins again to cast a curative spell on Varachan.

Varachan raises his head off the ground, and looks about with a bit of confusion. He fixes his gaze on the gleaming golden sunburst medallion hanging on the wall over the altar. He turns his stare first to Ormalius, then to Hamish. "Gods below. Fantastic escape plan you worked out for us there, fools. What in Carceri were you doing hiding in the armoire?"

Ormalius seems shocked by this disrespectful outburst. He looks to Hamish, for guidance in dealing with such blasphemy.

Chase: "We were waiting for you to get rid of that damned vampire, like you said you could. *I* wanted to fly out the chimney. Speaking of vampires, do any of you know just how we're supposed to fight them? I must have skipped basic training the day they covered that."

Varachan looks at Chase with disgust. "Get _rid_ of the vampire? I was pretty clear that that would not be possible, and that our only course of action was to get the hell out of there. The Prince is a Blackguard, for the Eye's sake! He can detect the stench of good at will! I'm sure he tracked Hamish's lingering stench through the Fane like a bloodhound on the trail of a butcher. Personally, I thought your chimney plan was brilliant; I can't for the life of me understand why you ended up in the armoire instead of executing it."

He turns his disdainful gaze towards Hamish, and scoffs. "Perhaps you should consider alternative employment, Chase."

Father Ormalius is completely stunned by this exchange, and that a respected ranking priest of Pelor would be treated with such disrepect in his own cathedral. He takes a moment to catch his breath, and you sense that he must be about to call for the guards to come throw this heathen in irons.

Chase: I gently take Ormalius aside, a little away from Varachan and Hamish. I tell him quietly, "He may be disrespectful and a heathen, but at the moment he's an ally, of sorts, and not a likely threat. And thank you for your timely assistance, we were in quite a bind, and I think we're all still a little jumpy about that."

"Oh, it was our pleasure, Sir Chase. Given the scant details Hamish already shared in the note he sent with the Lantern, I can certainly understand why you'd be a bit on edge! Am I to understand that you were enthralled by a Vampire? How terrible!"

Meanwhile, Hamish then turns his steely glaze upon Varachan and says, "May I remind you that we did in fact save your life at great risk to our own with no demand of payment. While our execution of that escape may not have been as perfect as you would have liked, the fact remains that you are here alive and out of the grasp of the cult."

[ Diplomacy, +8 for Hamish, +2 for Chase's calming presence providing an aid-another bonus, Varachan is currently unfriendly; you need a 15 to make him indifferent, 25 to make him friendly: roll is 18+10=28. Remind me next time I roll a skill check for you, you like my dark green d20. :) ]

Hamish's strong words strike Varachan like a slap to the face. It's almost as though you can see him suddenly realize that the hell he has been living for the past 20 years is finally over. He's free. His jaw almost drops for a moment, as the realization dawns on him. "Oh... yes... of course. I suppose it did work out in the end, now, didn't it? You must please forgive my outburst... that confrontation with the Prince brought up some very bad memories. I can't imagine that's the last we'll be seeing of him; nor of Mas..." He catches himself, and starts again, dropping the honorific. "Nor, I dare say, of Hedrack."

Hamish calls upon Father Ormalius and asks him if he could find some accomodation appropriate for a guest of the temple (and no, that is not double-speak for jail). Father Ormalius is happy to oblige. He steps outside, and sends an acolyte to prepare a guest chamber for Varachan.

Hamish then requests an audience with Bishop Loridian. "Yes, of course," replies Father Ormalius, "we'd expected you'd want to speak with His Holiness. He'll receive you at 5pm. Until then, can I offer you a meal? You must be starving after the ordeal you've been through. And perhaps," he leans in, lowering his voice discretely, "perhaps you'd like to bathe?"

At 5, a well-fed and fresh-smelling Hamish is taken to see the venerable Bishop Loridian. They exchange pleasantries, and Loridian expresses his relief that Hamish and company were able to escape with their lives.

Hamish informs the Bishop of what Varachan has told him so far. "It appears that the cult of Tharizdun are more organized than we would believe. They are building up their forces in the old Temple of Elemental Evil. They already have the Fire Binder and the Elemental Champion and have used them to unlock the Fire Node and thus released Imix. They may already have other Binders and are most certainly searching for the ones they do not have. If they are able to unlock all of the Elemental Nodes they will be signficantly closer to releasing Tharizdun from his prison."

The Bishop shows quite a bit of interest in this tale. "So _that's_ what the Nodes were for! After the second fall of the Temple of Elemental Evil, many great wizards and priests studied the records of the nodes, and even made Communion with the Outer Planes, but we could not divine their purpose. It seems that where the Imprisoned One is concerned, even the Guardinals of Pelor cannot pierce the veil of secrecy on some subjects."

"I must admit some confusion, however; 20 years ago, when the temple was last occupied, apparently the nodes were unlocked. The records indicate that by inserting the Elemental Power Gems into the Orb of Golden Death, Y'dey and her party were able to actually enter the nodes themselves. There, or so the story goes, they did battle with all manner of Elemental Fiends, but nothing approaching the actual Princes of Elemental Evil. Perhaps the Nodes were constructed simply as a mechanism to unlock the Binders themselves?"

"Would this be one of the Elemental Power Gems?" And Hamish shows the Bishop one of the Elemental Keys and combines it with another to form a Greater Elemental Key.

"No, not by my recollection of the tales I've heard; they were described as actual gemstones, the size one might find on a garishly large ring. Perhaps they were made as analogs for the stones in the Binders, allowing access to the Nodes but not actually releasing the Princes imprisoned within the real Binders? Regardless, when the Orb of Golden Death was destroyed 20 years ago, the power gems were destroyed along with it."

Hamish continues, "Varachan has suggested that we invade the Inner Fane and eliminate the two members of the Triad that reside there, thus destroying or at least greatly impeding their ability to obtain the rest of the Binders."

The Bishop replies, "I would take any advice given to you by this Varachan with a generous grain of salt. His motivations may be personal; from your description, he certainly doesn't strike me as the sort of fellow to be counted on to act out of benevolence or concern for the greater good. It would seem to me that the clearest course of action would be to ignore these Fanes, and Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (bum-bum-bah!) to deny the cult continued access to the Nodes they are using to release the Princes of Elemental Evil. But perhaps Varachan knows more than he is saying? Further conversation with him would certainly be warranted."

Hamish: "Definitely. I shall be performing a Divination tomorrow morning to seek Pelor's guidance in my dealings with Varachan."

Loridian: "Ah, an excellent plan. I would recommend you not waste your time on any questions pertaining too closely to the Imprisoned One himself, though -- as I mentioned, even I have failed to pierce that veil in the past. It seems that by imprisoning him in the Far Realm, the Gods have created for themselves something of a blind spot where he is concerned."

The Bishop starts to rise from his modest throne, but looks uneasy on his ancient feet; he must be at least 90 years old. An attendant rushes to his side. "Is there anything I can get for you, your Holiness?" "Yes, yes my son, you know..." and he waves his hand suggestively towards a chest of drawers to the side of his desk. The attendant opens the top drawer, and removes a red cowl, embroidered with sunbursts in a glittering golden thread. He hands the cowl to the Bishop, who reaches over to drape it on Hamish's bowed head. "I am certain that I can trust you and your brave company with this most important task, Monsignor Hamish. Do not fail us."

Edited by: msherman at: 3/8/04 1:49 pm
Briar Beast
(3/8/04 8:51 am)
Conversation with Varachan, part 1
Anyway, the next morning, Hamish prepares Divination and casts it. He asks, "How can Varachan be of further assistance to our cause?".

You take your morning prayers in the private chapel, in the company of a small number of senior preists, including Father Ormalius. He greets you warmly, and informs you that the guards are seeing to Varachan's comfort, and he has been given his morning meal. Chase is with you in the chapel; normally, only preists would be welcome there, but as a Knight of the Hart in your company, he is afforded some lattitude. After your prayers, you light insense on the altar, and cast your divination.

You hear cosmic dice rolling, and the usual On Hold music for a few moments. After a short wait, a soothing Guardinal's voice intones, "The traitor has much useful information left to share. In fact, the fates may even have already prepared a multi-page draft email, ready to edit and send should you ask him the right questions, and engage him in an interesting conversation."

When the divination is complete, some of the other preists join you in conversation. Some rumours have circulated about the incident with Varachan on your arrival, and the priests are quite curious. Suddenly, you notice one of them seems to be staring at a point past you, in the middle of a conversation. "Curious, what's that?" He walks over to the pew, and looks aghast. "Monsignor! It appears that you are being scried upon!" He points, and you see a scry sensor, in the shape of a small black whirling cyclone.

Yay! :P Hamish says "Hi!" to the sensor and then casts Dispel Magic on it. If he flubs it, he looks embarrassed and asks for some assistance from the other priests.

Indeed, your attempt to Dispel the sensor fails; it appears to have quite a high caster level. Father Ormalius suggests that you wait patiently while he prays for guidance from Pelor, and prepares a Greater Dispel. That is effective, and the sensor blinks out of existence.

Once the sensor is gone, Hamish immediately proceeds to Varachan's quarters, stopping along the way to arrange some tea and biscuits ;)

The guards bring a tray, and then close the door, waiting outside. Varachan looks visibly relieved to see you again. "I'm glad that we have the opportunity to talk about these matters further. I'm afraid that I was perhaps a bit curt with you yesterday, and possibly missed some important details and information that will be invaluable to you in your quest to stop the Doomdreamers before they bring their horrible plan to completion. I hope you'll forgive me if I was perhaps somewhat rude yesterday; the past year has indeed been incredibly trying for me, and the time since I first made contact with you, waiting desperately for you to act, was nearly as maddening as the Dark God himself."

"So, Varachan, how are you feeling?"

He breathes a heavy sigh. "Better, now, day by day. My freedom is truly only just beginning to dawn on me."

"I was wondering if you could tell me more about the Temple of Elemental Evil and what is going on there? Do you know the layout of the temple?"

He seems a bit troubled by the fact that he can't really answer these questions satisfactorily. "I've never been there, so my knowledge is scant at best. I know that many of the Doomdreamers are there now, led by The Second, heading an excavation program to restore access to the Node Gates on the lowest level. As I mentioned yesterday, the ultimate plan is for the Champion of Elemental Evil to use the Nodes along with the Orb of Oblivion to release the Princes of Elemental Evil from the Binders in which they are imprisoned. The Princes, in turn, will complete the ritual to release the Dark God, Tharizdun, from his prison in the Far Realm. It is sheer insanity, but such is the way of the Doomdreamers..."

"Is there anything else we should know about Fanes? Could you draw us a map?"

Varachan seems relieved that you've changed the subject to one on which he is more authoritative. "Oh, yes, of course; have you a pen and vellum?" [I've uploaded the map he drew to ZansForCans' file archives.]

Varachan starts to tick off a mental list of the most significant residents of the Outer Fane. "Of course, you've met Prince Thrommel, and his thrall Aramil. I have not known the Prince to be at all loyal to Hedrack; rather, he serves primarily out of fear of Hedrack's rebuke. However, your betrayal of our deal to secure his coffin from the Fane may well be what it takes to drive Thrommel squarely into Hedrack's camp, at least until you have been made to pay for your insolence. Recently, Thrommel was commanded by Hedrack to ensure the security of the Air Door; I had cleared it of guardians for you, sending the Ogres who had been stationed there out to "meet" you in your shrine. There were only the Arrowhawks, who I'd judged to be no significant challenge, and the Invisible Stalker, who seemed happy to obey my command to watch for your arrival, but not attack. However, I could not exert enough influence to keep the door unguarded for long, and you took so long to arrive, that Thrommel sent Aramil and his spawn to take the Ogres' place. I wouldn't be surprised if, in the event of my treachery coming to light, Thrommel himself now assists in guarding the door; his fiendish bat Jolana can certainly be of much assistance in this sort of task."

"The earth door is guarded by an Elder Earth Elemental. Not much of a tactical genius, this one, but an incredibly dangerous brute, and unflinchingly loyal to Hedrack. This door is the closest to Hedrack's own quarters, so if you wish to attack him, it's probably your best bet. Of course, to get there, you must pass by the Assassin Bethe's room; she is quite eager to meet you, after you dispatched her lover, the goblin Gez."

"The water door is guarded by a Tojanida, a patrol of Minotaurs, and Insentorix, the last remaining quasit in the Outer Fane. Insentorix is surprisingly tough for his kind, and also rather more loyal to Hedrack than the rest were; I was concerned that he was beginning to suspect my complicity in sending his brethren from the fane with messages for you. While it is possible to avoid the Earth Elemental by crossing east from the water door, I'd not recommend it; you'll likely fall prey to the Grinder, a vicious trap set in that hallway."

"To the west, you'll find the Nagas Mhunaath and Yklah, and the Oracle, Satau. It's an Illithid, and a most dangerous one at that. Satau is definitely not what I would call a loyal servant of Hedrack's; it was initially brought to the Fane to assist in discovery of the Champion, and seems most distraught that the reward and freedom promised have not be forthcoming. Hedrack has told it that if it assists in your capture or destruction, he will make good, but who knows?"

"Finally, there's Chymon, the guardian of the Fire door. She is a vicious and spiteful red dragon. Perhaps with Prince Thrommel fighting at your side, you could have defeated her, but alone? I should think not. She is not quite loyal, per se, but she does seem to have a very profitable arrangement worked out with Hedrack; he allows her to feed at will on invading do-gooders and the occasional slave, and amass quite a sizeable horde, which seems to keep her content. Should you give him the opportunity, I would imagine that Chymon would be the most likely avenue by which Hedrack would bring the fight to you."

"What would you like to do now that you are free of the cult?"

Varachan slowly considers the question. "I have been dreaming of my freedom from the Triad's grasp for over a year, since the moment when I broke the bonds of the Madness of Tharizdun. But I have not allowed myself to think of what comes next; it seemed.... well, I didn't want to tempt the fates too much. Dreams only exist to be shattered, of course. Hmmm... it's been a long time since I've been to Verbobonc, but I seem to recall there used to be a small temple of Nerull not far from your cathedral. Does it still stand? Perhaps the priests of The Reaper will have a place for a defrocked cleric such as myself."

Briar Beast
(3/8/04 8:52 am)
Conversation with Varachan, part 2
"Is this Orb of Oblivion related to the Orb of Golden Death that Y'dey used 20 years ago to gain access to the Elemental Nodes?"

Varachan nods. "Yes, yes it is. The Orb of Oblivion is the original artifact; the Orb of Golden Death was a copy. No one knows where the Orb of Oblivion came from; some say that it's been with the Doomdreamers since Tharizdun's imprisonment, and I've heard stories that it's actually carved from the mucous membranes sloughed off by the Elder Elemental Eye after Tharizdun plucked it from his skull. It's a clear, crystaline skull, with four sockets. The orb itself grants fantastic divinatory powers, the power to command evil beings by mass suggestion, and it's bearer is protected from any spell cast by a priest of Tharizdun. But the real power of the Orb is that it can be used by the Champion of Elemental Evil to unlock the Binders, when inserted into the sockets, and release the Princes of Elemental Evil into the Elemental Nodes."

"Over the years, copies of the Orb of Oblivion have been made, carved from various precious metals, to be used in various experiments and rituals by the Doomdreamers. One such copy was the Orb of Golden Death. It was used with specially crafted Elemental Power Gems to assist in the construction of the Node Gates below the Temple of Elemental Evil, which provide a gateway between the Elemental Nodes and Oerth. The Power Gems were essentially fake blanks used in place of the Binders; they allowed the Doomdreamers to activate the gates, and access the Nodes, but of course, the Princes could not be released with these artificial devices. The Orb of Golden Death, and the Elemental Power Gems it bore, were both destroyed 20 years ago in the second fall of the Temple."

"The Orb of Oblivion, as well as another copy, the Orb of Silvery Death, are kept safe in the Black Cyst. To find them, you must go to the Vestibule of the Greater Temple; this room lies just to the west of Hedrack's quarters in the Outer Fane. To safely pass through the hallway leading to the Vestibule, you must protect yourself from the cold with Purple Robes (you can find them in the vestry between the Fire door and the Water door), and you must annoint yourself in the Unholy Font, just to the west. You'll also need a torch of revealing to activate the devices here; you can find them in the vestry, along with a black thurible, which you'll also need to safely escape from the Cyst."

"Once in the Vestibule, light the torch; by it's light, you should be able to see the three switches. There's a great horn in this room; touch your master key to the horn, and pull each switch in turn,from left to right, blowing the horn after each switch is pulled. It's very taxing to blow the horn, and requires great strength; you should be able to manage it, Chase, or perhaps the barbarian could do the job. Once the third horn is sounded, the Purple Curtain will appear; walk through the curtain, and you enter the Cyst. There's an altar there; kneel before it, and say the Dark God's unholy name. You can then safely take the Orb of Oblivion from atop the altar. To leave the cyst, light the insence of dreaming in the black thurible, and twirl it in the air above your head; you'll be transported into the Greater Temple."

Hamish is repulsed at the thought of performing such unholy rituals, such as annointing himself in an unholy font, or kneeling before an altar of Tharizdun. You recall reading about the evil rituals required to create the Black Cyst many months ago, and the thought of entering one fills you with dread. You feel certain that if you were to participate in such dreadful ritual, you would be in need of hasty Atonement.

"Do you know anything about the Triad or the Princes of Elemental Evil? Do they have any weaknesses?"

Varachan looks lost in thought for a moment, but he can't come up with much in the way of details. "I have met all three of the Triad, but know little of consequence that I can share with you. The First, ultimate ruler of the Cult of Tharizdun on Oerth, is a human who is said to favour death magic. Before Imix was freed, he wore the Binder of Fire, and drew great power from it. The Second is an Aboleth, a huge aquatic creature which sustains itself on dry land with a self-contained force-sheath of water. The third is a half-breed Air Elemental, a woman borne of a human mother raped by a creature from the plane of air. It is said that her half-elemental nature gives her great powers to command weather, and call forth chain lightening."

He pauses for a moment, collecting his thoughts. "As for the Princes, I know very little. Up until recently, I wasn't even sure that they existed. Of course, now that Imix walks the earth, that much has been proven. It is said that the Princes are Elementals, but they are to the oldest of Elder Elementals as that elder is to the tiniest mephit. I'd imagine that the Princes share the same vulnerabilities of a standard elemental of their type, but I have no real way to know for sure."

"Could you tell me more about Bethe? Assassins make me uncomfortable -- there's far too many of them around and the more I know about the ones I may encounter the better."

"Yes, of course," answers Varachan. "She's a half-elf, fond of using poisons and stealth, rather than direct attack. Her weapons of choice are the Rapier and the Crossbow. When forced to fight, she's been known to disarm her enemy so that she can take his life while he bends down to retrieve his weapon. Definitely not someone you want to meet in a dark ally."

"You mean Hedrack would send Chymon after us, outside the Fanes?"

Varachan nods. "Yes, that wouldn't surprise me. Chymon wouldn't be eager to leave her horde unguarded for an extended period, but she does owe a certain fealty to Hedrack, so if he ordered it, she would probably comply. While she is a huge beast, she wears an armband which allows her to reduce her size for a short period of time each day, which allows her considerable mobility in the halls of the Outer Fane. Of course, she'll be much more in her element attacking you out in the open, where she'll have the advantage of command of the skies."

"Could you tell me more about Hedrack and Naquent themselves? Do they have any weaknesses?"

Varachan answers quickly; clearly Hedrack's tactics and strategy are a topic he has been considering for quite some time. "Hedrack is, first and foremost, a skilled manager. He will avoid facing you directly, instead sending lackeys and summoned help, until he is ready to do so at a time and place of his own choosing. You can be sure that he will choose that time and place for his own best advantage, and your worst inconvenience. When you finally do meet Hedrack in person, you will find him a most dangerous opponent. While it is true that his growing insanity has dulled his wits somewhat over the years, he still remains sharper than the average fool off the street, and his command of the magical gifts of Tharizdun has only grown stronger as the madness progresses. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as Destruction, Disintigration, Phantasmal Killer, a Tentacle Rod, an almost fanatical devotion to the Triad, and nice Purple Robes of Tharizdun that protect him from the paralyzing frigid temperatures in the holiest areas devoted to the Dark God."

"You must know by now that Hedrack has been watching you. He delegated most of the scrying to myself, and the Crystral Ball, so I was able to control the flow of information to him, to an extent. However, he does have access to Greater Scrying, and occasionally used it to check my work, so to speak; so I could not completely obscure the truth about your abilities, preferred tactics, and vulnerabilities from him. He has in his possession a sample of your blood, Hamish; this prize was indeed the only reason the Assassin Gez was allowed to live after your first encounter with him in Verbobonc. So be certain that before he meets you face to face, Hedrack will prepare himself with defensive magics tailored to protection against your own best attacks. To have a hope of success, you must mix up your tactics, to throw him off guard. And of course, Hedrack will not just stand around and let you kill him; if losing the fight, be certain that he'll escape if given half a chance."

He pauses, waiting for your next question. Then, almost as an afterthought, he continues. "Oh, yes, you asked about Naquent as well, didn't you? That bitch must certainly be proud of herself now; she's been after my job for quite some time. With my.... absence from the Fanes, I'd imagine that she's quite thrilled to now be second in command. To be honest, Hamish, I doubt you'll find her much match for yourself. As long as you stay clear of her touch, to avoid Slay Living, you should be fine. One thing to be careful of; she bears a rod which allows her to call forth Tharizdun's blessings at an alarming rate; but if you can snatch that rod from her, I think you'll find her quite weakened, indeed."

Briar Beast
(3/8/04 8:53 am)
Conversation with Varachan, part 3
Chase: "The Orb of Oblivion isn't with the champion and the expedition to the old Temple? And what purpose does the Orb of Silvery Death serve?"

Varachan looks a bit sheepish. "Well, yes, I suppose that the Champion would have taken the Orb of Oblivion with him, in order to release Imix from the Fire Binder. I should think that it would have been returned to the Cyst for safe keeping, until such time as another Binder is found and the corresponding Node Gate excavated, but to be honest, I'm not sure. It's been some weeks since I was last in the Cyst myself, to be honest."

"As for the Orb of Silvery Death," he continues, "it serves much the same purpose today as it's golden predecessor did in days of yore. It was used during the excavation, before the Champion was found, to enter the Node and prepare it for the coming of the Prince. Currently, it only bears a Power Gem of Fire, but I believe that the Doomdreamers have contracted with a Demon to provide new Power Gems for the other three gates, when they are required."

"Does Hedrack tend use a small, black cyclone as a scry sensor?"

Varachan nods. "Yes, indeed he does. Has he been scrying you recently?" He looks somewhat deflated. "I must admit some surprise; I'd have guessed that I would be the first target of his attentions."

"It's often difficult to judge ourselves fairly, or to recognize our own limitations. Anything you could point out to us about tactics we tend to fall back on, and Hedrack would be prepared against, would be helpful.

Varachan is eager to assist. "For one, you should warn your brother that Hedrack is well aware of his ring, and will be prepared with Invisibility Purge. Hamish, he has seen you continually use the same few spells to good effect. You can certainly expect him to be protected by Spell Immunity. Thankfully, that cannot protect him against your most potent magic, but Spell Resistance and Dispel Good certainly can."

"Anyway, looking at the map, it seems we have a choice of five entry points, when we to return to the Fanes. Well, seven, if you count flying into the Inner Fane. We've got the four doors, plus the sticks of returning that will takes us to your old room. If the goal is to storm the Inner Fane, it seems the most direct route is to use the sticks, take a quick jaunt to the Hall of Priests, and then through this door here. Is someone likely to take over your room, or can we expect it to remain empty for some time? What's the Hall of Priests used for, and when would it be most empty? Are there guards roaming the halls? Is the temple quiet during the night? During the day?

"I'm not certain about my room; Master Ukemil's room, adjacent to mine, has stood vacant since the time you killed him and his disgusting cats, but that was at least partially my own maneuvering to keep the access to my room relatively clear for you. I wouldn't be surprised if Hedrack were to command some occupants of the Fane to change their living arrangements to better cover the breadth and scope of the complex. Of course, Hedrack himself would never move, he so dearly loves his quarters just outside the Greater Temple."

Varachan considers the implications of your questions for a moment. "I'd be wary of striking directly at either the Inner Fane or the Recovered Temple, while leaving Hedrack alive at your back; up until recently, most of his effort was concentrated on the search for the Champion. Now that that task is complete, you have his full attention; his primary assignment is, in fact, your own death. I'm sure that the humiliation of my treachery and escape with your aid will only strengthen his resolve in that respect. He is a powerful enemy to have, doubly so when you give him the advantage by turning your attentions elsewhere."

He returns to the point. "The Hall of Priests is a gallery of statuary and mosaics, constructed to honour those who have served Tharizdun well. Before you began your rampage, when the fane was more alive with activity of the junior priests, it was a common meeting place. But with Ukemil and Dunrat both dead, and myself... absent, I can't imagine there will be much activity there most of the time now. The guards tend to be active most of the time, day or night. The one time of vulnerability in the Outer Fane is midnight; this is the prescribed time of daily prayer for the priests of Tharizdun. Of course, Hedrack keeps the guards on extra-vigilant watch during these nightly prayers, for just that reason."

"There are three ways to access the Inner Fane from the the Outer Fane. The easiest way is from the Hall of Priests. First you'll need the key, which is a gemstone kept in the Chamber of Hate. Be wary of The Attendant, the demon who watches over Unariq's clones. Take the key to the Hall of Priests, and search the east wall for a secret door. Touch the key to it, and it will open. There are a further series of secret doors you must navigate; these doors can be opened normally, once found, and eventually you will find yourself in a cave opening onto the blasted yard."

"Uh, the *what* who watches over the *who*?"

Varachan seems a bit annoyed at the interruption. "The Attendant, the Succubus who tends to the clones of the late Master Unariq. Unariq was once a great Doomdreamer, a disciple of the Triad. He had discovered a ritual which he thought would release Tharizdun without need of the power the Elemental Princes, but it failed; he is now imprisoned with our... excuse me, the... Dark Lord. His body lies entombed in the Grand Crypt, out in the Mines, but here, in the Chamber of Hate," he says while pointing at the map he drew for you, "the Doomdreamers keep an array of his lifeless clones, which they use as a conduit to his prison with Tharizdun. The Clonestone, the gem I mentioned earlier which serves as the key to the secret door in the Hall of Priests, also acts as a focal point for this energy. Through it, a Priest can draw magical power, much like from a Pearl of Power. It's strange; even though my own magical ability has been denied to me ever since I threw off the yoke of Tharizdun's Madness last year, I could still draw power from the Clonestone."

Varachan continues. "The second way into the yard is from the Vestibule of the Greater Temple. A hallway lies to the west, through the veil of darkness. This hallway is blocked by six walls of force, every 10 feet. Each wall is guarded by a statue, which will ask you a question. The questions are but a single word, but they stand for a real question, which you must answer truthfully to pass. The questions are:
1. Who: Who are you?
2. What: What do you bring before the Dark Lord?
3. Where: Where are you now?
4. Why: Why have you come here?
5. When: When will Tharizdun be free?
6. Who: Who is the Dark Lord?"

"Finally," continues Varachan, "if you have acquired a Tentacle Rod, simply standing in the black circle inscribed on the floor in the Greater Temple will allow you to teleport to the ground floor of the Black Spike. You can't bring anyone with you, though, so unless you can procure four tentacle rods, which I highly doubt (I'm not even sure that four exist!), this method will not be of much use to you."

"Once in the Inner Fane, it looks like we can reach the Vestibule pretty easily, but if we wish to reach the Black Cyst, someone will need to fetch the things we need from the Vestry, which means either what could turn out to be a long, running battle, or a lot of sneaking (and not past the dragon). And what's this Black Sun room just outside the Vestry?

"The Black Sun is a manifestation of Tharizdun's will. Some say it was a tear shed by his Elder Elemental Eye. It is a great sphere of horrible black flame, which can consume even the strongest man or beast in an instant. The strongest and most learned among the priests of the Fane can actually command it to obey their will, destroying their enemies. It is housed in the Shrine of Dark Communion, where the priests contemplate the true nature of their dark lord."

"How would we gain entrance to the Black Spike, once in the Inner Fane?

"I don't know much, as I've only been there a few times. It's a most unholy tower, built into the centre of the inner crater; that's called the Blasted Yard, and you must take care to avoid the Dark Wights that patrol the yard. The door into the tower is a living construct; it only opens for the Doomdreamers, or those invited by them, unless you can convince it otherwise. The main floor is guarded by great lizards, the likes of which I've never seen before; they must be the result of some terrible breeding experiment.

Once inside, there are stairs which lead up to the Doomdreamers' quarters. What lies above, I cannot say, having never been there myself. But I have been below, for the tower extends deep into the volcano itself. To get below, you must find the secret panel opposite the door; behind it, you'll find a black stone. Press the stone, and you'll be transported to the level below; below ground you'll find similar panels, only also with a second stone, which sends you back to the level above.

You'll pass through the torture chamber of Yrthuk Innar, the skilled craftsman who broke Prince Thrommel. Below that lies the Tourbillion. I have heard it said that this is some form of teleportation device used by the Doomdreamers, but I'm not certain; I know that Hedrack has occasionally been granted access to it, though, so be forewarned. Below that, the Dire Library contains the most complete collection of Evil works I've ever seen; you could waste years of your life just reading. The fourth sub-level was my destination, in my few trips to the Black Spike; the Reliquary of Evil. There, you'll find a device which I had a hand in securing for the cult many years ago; a Talisman of Pure Good. The Doomdreamers have been trying many experiments to pervert this item into a Talisman of Ultimate Evil, but to date they have not met with success. Perhaps if you reach it in time, you could use this trinket for it's original intent."

"How are the sentry positions equipped? They seem to be limited in the range of their lightning bolts, but they also seem to be able to see past invisibility illusions. Is that an enchantment on the post itself, or are the guards enchanted as they go on duty? Or were we just unlikely and hit the one paranoid sentry of the bunch?

Varachan nods. "Yes, the Lightning Towers are indeed themselves enchanted to grant all who stand astride the parapets the ability to See Invisible creatures, as well as the keenest of senses, allowing them to see unnaturally far and with the greatest clarity. Each tower is manned by a single Sorcerer, charged with defence of the tower, command of a squad of Spider Eater Riders, and of course the care and feeding of the Shockers imprisoned within, which power the lightning itself. The sorcerers communicate with each other, and with Hedrack, using Contact Medallions."

"Hmm. Another possibility, if we wish to enter the Cyst, is to enter through the Fire or Water Doors, fight our way to the vestry, then use the sticks to get to Varachan's room, which would hopefully put us behind the onrush of guards, with a clear path to the Inner Fane. How old is Chymon, anyway? Does she inspire fear in all who face her?

[You hear a die roll as Varachan concentrates on his Knowledge (Arcana). You feel the characteristic *whoosh* of good fortune as the die comes up a 20.] "I believe that Chymon is about 95 years old; I think, in fact, that she was hatched from an egg procured by the Doomdreamers as part of the celebrations accompanying the securing of the Crater Ridge Mines from the Dwarven Clans. If I'm not mistaken, Draconologists would classify her as a young adult. She does, indeed, have a most frightful presence. She is quite skilled in the Draconic Arts of Sorcery, knowing how to cure moderate wounds as though she were a priest, and with the ability to make herself invisible."

"Also, once they discover what we've taken, they may deduce our plans and fortify the Vestibule. Or, they may think we're too holy for such insanity, and instead think our plan was to steal the stuff to deny *them* access to the Cyst. Hmm. There's an interesting idea. If we did take everything in the Vestibule, do they have spares lying around?

"Yes, Hedrack does have a Purple Robe of his own. I would imagine that, if needed, they could procure more Robes, Torches, and Thuribles from the Doomdreamers, but going hat in hand to the Black Spike would certainly not be a wise career move for Hedrack!" With that, Varachan chuckles.

What if we destroyed the Unholy Font, or mixed some Holy Water into the Font? Would that deny them access to the Cyst for a time? Enough to help us? I imagine Hallowing the Vestibule would piss them off to no end, if we had the time."

Varachan nods as he considers the plan. "It might hinder them, but not deny access altogether. Those not anointed in the unholy font are attacked by the guardians, golems constructed from the choicest cuts of flesh of the fallen. The golems are, indeed, possible to defeat by mundane means; in the past, there used to be three of them, but only two survive today."

Briar Beast
(3/8/04 8:54 am)
Conversation with Varachan, part 4
"Varachan, are you planning on staying here in Verbobonc? It's quite likely that we'll need your council again, before this mess is over. I suspect that, for the time being, you'd be safest here, at least until we manage to deal with Hedrack. I doubt that we would have much difficulty in arranging for you to keep these quarters, at least not for a little while longer. Of course, you'd be free to leave at your discretion."

Varachan thinks for a moment, looking a bit uncomfortable. "Thank you for the offer, Chase, but I don't think I'll be all that... welcome... in the Cathedral of Pelor for very much longer. I certainly don't feel at all comfortable here, myself. No, I think I'll seek my fortunes with a temple more in line with my own philosophies and way of life." He nods at Hamish. "No offense intended, Monsignor."

"On the other hand, if you do decide to leave, would you mind leaving a forwarding address with Father Ormalius (the nice priest you met when you first awoke here), so that we may find you should we need your assistance?

"Oh, yes, of course, as soon as I'm settled in I'll be sure to let Ormalius know how you can reach me." In fact," he says, reaching for the jewelled curved knife at his belt, "take this." He uses the knife to cut a lock of hair, handing it to Hamish. "Should you ever need to locate me by Scrying, this should make it easy. And of course, you can always reach me with a Sending." You notice that the pommel of the knife appears to have been damaged. Chase easily determines that a stone Obex has been smashed out of the pommel, and from the rough edges, it looks like the damage was recent.

"Whatever you choose, you've been a great help to us, and we appreciate that. I just hope that, if you do decide to follow the Reaper, you aren't led down a path that brings us into conflict in the future."

Varachan chuckles. "Oh, no, Sir Chase, I'm certain that regardless of what the future holds, we'll remain fast friends. Gentlemen! I propose a toast." He raises his glass, from which he's been drinking wine most of the morning. "To the end of the Doomdreamers."

The conversation has been going on for quite some time. At some point, the guards had come in, and served lunch to the three of you. Sensing that the conversation is drawing to a close, Varachan finishes his meal. He wipes his greasy fingers on a cloth, dropping it to the floor. He gets up, and holds a hand out to Hamish. "Well, it's been quite a pleasure having this little chat with you, but I must take my leave."

He pauses for a moment, thinking back to your first conversation. "Listen fellows, yesterday, before all that unpleasentness with Prince Thrommel," he rubs his neck, still scarred from the Vampire's bite, "I hadn't quite finished my thought. You were talking about heading directly to the Recovered Temple. Yes, it might be true that a quick attack on the Recovered Temple would catch the Doomdreamers off guard, and slaying the Champion would certainly delay their plans. That might have the opposite effect that you intend, though; for now, it seems that the Doomdreamers are content to wait until they have the means to release all four Princes before beginning the ritual to release Tharizdun. But if you force their hand, they may attempt the ritual prematurely; I'm not sure if it can be done successfully without all of the Princes, but who knows?"

He walks towards the door. "Would you gentlemen care to walk me out?" He opens the door, and the guards outside it jump to the alert. "Now now, boys, Hamish and Chase were just taking me out. You can put those swords away."

You walk him out of the cathedral. As the main doors open, bright midday sun streams down. He shields his eyes from it. "It's been quite a while since I've been outside in a civilized land, you know. The sun, it burns rather bright these days, doesn't it?" There's some distaste in his voice. "Well, it's been fun, gents. Good luck saving the world and all that." He turns, and walks into the crowd. You see him heading in the direction of the Temple of Nerull.

Briar Beast
(3/8/04 1:47 pm)
Pit fighting in Verbobonc
Gah. I hate ezboard. I just accidentally deleted this entry by trying to edit it.

Anyway, the short story is, the party went to the Temple of Kord to have some illusory practice fights against elementals and a young adult red dragon. The fight with the dragon was very close, but they ended up killing it.

After that, they tried scrying on Thrommel, and discovered that he's asleep in his new coffin, still waiting to acclimatize to it after they destroyed his last one. They correctly guessed that Bethe lies in the second coffin beside him. They saw the coffin hidden inside the Infernal Device, though they don't know what the Device is, yet. They plan to hire a wizard to teleport them in to the ID room to attack Thrommel the next morning. Should be fun.

In another thread, I'm asking for advice on how to run the mechanics of waking a sleeping vampire.

Edited by: msherman at: 3/11/04 7:37 am
Night Beast
(3/17/04 12:00 pm)
Re: Pit fighting in Verbobonc
Just so you know, I'm reading this, but slowly. Your last message requires immediate feedback though. DO NOT type up your posts in ezBoard. Type them up in a different editor and post them here (copy & paste). You've learned this the hard way, I guess, like I did.

One question about the scrying. Did they see the coffin or Thrommel? I would place the scrying point inside the coffin so that they could see the target. Too late now, I suppose. :)

Briar Beast
(3/17/04 12:19 pm)
Re: Pit fighting in Verbobonc
About ezBoard editing, yeah, this isn't the first time I've learned that lesson. I usually use a text editor, but this was "just a quick edit". Gah.

About the scrying, the sensor started inside the coffin, which was how they recognized that he was in a "stuporous" state while acclimatizing to the new coffin. Then the caster asked if he could pull the sensor outside the coffin to see where it was, and after reading the spell and noticing the part about seeing the surroundings out to 10', I decided he could pull the sensor out of the coffin 10'.

So now they've seen the Infernal Device, but they have no idea what it is. Varachan never told them about the Device, and it wasn't included on his map; he didn't think it was important to tell them about it, because they have no reason to go there and it's not en route to anything important in the Outer Fane. The party has already met a bunch of Infernally Deviced people, including the raised trog leaders from when the Earth Temple was restocked, so I'm looking forward to running the scene when they teleport into that room.

After I described the room to them, and showed them the picture in the module, they decided it was probably the Grinder room, which Varachan did warn them about. :)

Intellect Fortress
(6/18/05 6:38 pm)
My log! My beautiful log!
I'm having trouble finding info about the aftermath of the attack. Is it safe to say that the rest of my log is gone forever, or are they still restoring stuff for this board?

Ugh, I was just debating calling up the players in my game and telling them that we probably weren't going to get around to finishing the game, so they should read the log...

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