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(4/19/04 6:21 am)
Strange and twist-filled campaign log
This is the campaign where the party has done to Rastor what the cultists did to Hommlet. Very amusing.

We had our first session this past weekend. The players completely threw me for a loop. The group consists of

elven ranger 4 / druid 1
elven druid 5
half-elven bard 5
drow rogue 3 (disguised as an elf using a hat of disguise)

The bard player joined at the last minute, so, in my defense, I didn't know a bard was going to be playing until we all sat down at the table.

The fiction was that the characters had been bit players in the events of the original Temple (since everyone had played the original Temple), but hadn't been back to Hommlet since that time.

The group shows up in town, heads to the Welcome Wench and settles in for some serious eating and drinking. Chatrilon shows up and cozies up to them. The party doesn't trust him. The bard steps out back to
use the facilities, casts detect thoughts, then comes back in. Chatrilon blows his saving throw. You can see where this is going. They keep chatting Chatrilon up, picking his brain (literally), while the rogue goes upstairs to ransack Chatrilon's room (I had him staying at the Inn). I'd also given Chatrilon an alarm spell on his
room, so that clued him in that the group was onto him. He excuses himself to step out back to use the outhouse, turns invisible, goes back inside and upstairs to check things out. The rogue and Chatrilon hear each other on opposite sides of the door, then stand
there trying to wait one another out. Eventually some people go up to the common room and the rogue slips out and heads downstairs quickly when he sees no one in the hall. Chat's not willing to do anything with witnesses, so he turns visible again, goes downstairs,
engages in some witty repartee with the party, heads out front, goes invisible, and books for Dunrat to tell him they've got some problems.

The druid and ranger had visited Jaroo and were a bit suspicious that Jaroo's animal companion wasn't around. They also tried speaking druidic with him, which he fumbled badly, picking a few mispronounced words out of their heads, but basically pleading that he just didn't
use it much around Hommlet and preferred speaking common.

Everyone tramps out front. I'd started things in the middle of winter, so there's frost on the ground, but they're having a hard time picking out the prints in such a busy area. However, the bard had been playing chess with Chat a lot of the evening using his own set, so he pulls it out and has one of the animal companions with
scent sniff the black pieces. And they're off!

Between the scent and the ranger they track Chat to the mill. They go in slow and careful, but aren't aware that Dunrat could see them. Dunrat has Chat turn everyone invisible and they get ready. Again,
we have a quiet stand-off with the group waiting on the first floor in darkness and the gang of evil in the basement. Eventually Dunrat lights a large torch in the basement, because he doesn't really care if the place goes up, and he wants to be able to see. This touches
off a whispered debate with Chat, who cares very much about the place going up. The players hear some whispering, but it peters out. They finally crack the door open and the rogue goes partway down along with the cougar, owl and bear (a virtual menagerie). The melee
fighters down there jump him, Vacra magic missiles him, etcetera. Some good saves, and the rest of the party goes down. Chat stays invisible in a corner studying the ranger.

Bard goes to a corner, pulls a bear out of his bag of tricks, then casts detect magic and starts waiting. Everyone else melees around the stairs, and the animals fill the room and start tearing everyone apart. Dunrat tosses the bead of force, misses, and scatters mostly
into his own group, killing two of the fighters and trapping the cleric in the sphere with one of the bears, who eats her. The sphere did kill the cougar, though.

Vacra darknesses the room and tries to make a break for it, but gets cut down, since the sphere is blocking most of the stairs, forcing her to take a circuitous route and do some climbing. Party dispels the darkness. They cast light and snuff out the big honking torch. I'd been rolling every round to see if the place went up, but they were lucky.

The bard has located Chat via the detect magic at this point, and they mob his location. He tries to tumble out of the room, but it's packed with PCs and furrballs, and they pummel him into submission. They then charm him and grill him. Between the previous detect thoughts and the charm/interrogate, they get reams of information.
He holds back the doppelganger, though, and offers to give them this last juicy tidbit if they let him go. They agree, he tells them, and they let him take off with a bedroll and his clothes.

They then head over to the druid grove. The bard uses his hat of disguise to look like Chatrilon (along with a very good disguise roll) and is wearing hte ring of mind shielding. (They had Chat tell them what he thought the various magic items did, which also let them
find out about Dunrat's magic bird in the tree). Doppelganger is asleep, so they jump him and tie him up. Meanwhile, the apprentice druid has been alerted by the wolf to mischief, grabs Elmo, and the whole town guard shows up to find the doppelganger tied up, screaming
for help, and the party punching him to try to shut him up.

THis could have been very bad, but the party surrendered immediately and explained what was going on. Elmo gets Canoness Y'Dey, who casts a Zone of Truth. Doppelganger blows his save and has his mouth
frozen shut when he tries to lie. Party has no problems because they're telling the truth. Elmo carts the doppelganger off to interrogate, thanks the party for uncovering this nest of cultists, and asks Y'Dey to debrief them while he deals with the doppelganger.
Party goes back to the Wench, fills Y'Dey in, and heads to bed (the bard with Maridosen, that charmer).

Looks like they're going to haul along Redithoor, Xaon and a spell caster if they can find one to the moathouse. Talk about overkill.

The session went well, and I didn't want to punish the party for being clever, but it was NOT the fight I was prepared to run, and I was NOT prepped to spill so much so early, so I'm not sure how coherent I was.

Lot of fun, though. Party made no major tactical errors and had some very clever ideas.

(4/19/04 6:25 am)
part ii
The party woke bright and early, except for Desshin, who simply untangled himself from Maridosen’s drowsy limbs and made himself presentable. Even Xaod was present, physically if not mentally. Everyone tramped over to the Old General Store to do some dickering, selling off the various junk that had been picked up at the millhouse. They then paid a visit to the town scrollmaker, Zerosh, on Red’s advice. Zerosh turned out to be a man of few, poorly chosen words, but he was also a skilled, bored mage with a hard-on for the town’s elven priestess, so he agreed to come along in exchange for the group singing of his exploits to the priestess. A final stop at Spugnoir’s to pick up some consignment items (and discover that Spugnoir had been gone for several days and his daughter Renne was getting worried), and a brief meeting with Elmo (who informed the group that the town was picking up the tab at the Welcome Wench), and everyone was off. The hostler provided two horses and a mule, although only Red and Desshin rode.

The moathouse was only 10 miles east. Near the turn-off, the party ran into an old half-elven trapper named Del. Del informed the group that a blue dragon had moved into the moathouse recently and eaten some of the gnolls and people there. The party did a fly-over using the owl and the magic artifact which allows one to see out of its eyes and discovered that, although there was no dragon visible, the spoor was consistent with a dragon fighting and eating some things in the courtyard and dragging them inside the moathouse.

The group decided to take the secret entrance (a quarter mile tunnel into the dungeons). They found three cockatrices camped out in Lareth’s old rooms. The paladin got bitten but made his save. The main tunnel into the moathouse had been sealed with a wall of stone, but the party used a stoneshape scroll to get through.

The group then went into sneak mode. Kel and Gelmir (with a darkvision spell on him) went into the dungeons. They got jumped by a ghast but killed it in almost complete silence. They then explored the old well room. The old pool there had had a stone plug at the bottom, which had been removed, and a platform / pulley system installed to access a cavern beneath it. An unnatural chill emanated from the hole. Two clerics (a troglodyte and a human) were looking over a small square statue, arguing about whether it was worth hauling away. Kel and Gelmir went back to report, and the two clerics went back into the hole together. One was armored (the human) and one was not (presumably for digging).

Upon returning, the whole party migrated into the room and looked down. The underground stream which used to feed the pool poured down the hole now, and the ice and mist obscured vision beyond 30’ or so. Jordan cast Fire Eyes which allowed him to see that the platform was resting on a purple, marble like surface 60’ down. Gelmir was turned invisible and Zerosh (the mage) cast feather fall on him, and he jumped down. Unfortunately, a floating brain like creature with no visible sensory organs had been lurking around the top of the cavern and, ‘seeing’ a solitary target, swooped in. Gelmir found himself standing on a 30’ x 30’ purple marbled stone square in the midst of a vast cavern. The stream splashed down next to him and fell over the edge into space. A second platform was rigged at the far side of the surface leading down into the darkness and was currently lowered, presumably by the two clerics. Gelmir got attacked by the ten tentacles of the creature, but took only a minor scrape. Jordan tried to shoot it but missed. Zerosh cast his other feather fall on the paladin, who leaped down crying “For the glory of Heironeous!” Unfortunately for the paladin, the creature plucked Xaod out of mid-air, paralyzing him. It then wrapped him up in its tentacles and began to float away. Jordan dropped a flaming sphere on it, Zerosh put a fireball down the pit (hittng both Xaod and the creature) and Gelmir managed to kill it with a well placed arrow while it was still over the marbled surface. When Xaod landed on the marble, the dark veins being to writhe towards him, but Gelmir pulled Xaod to safety on the platform. Meanwhile, Desshin had been singing loudly enough to be heard 60’ down over the splashing of the waterfall, and others had heard as well.

Ghouls poured out of the warrens, killing Gelmir’s wolf companion (again), but were bottled up by the rest of the party and disposed of. Desshin kept an eye on the next room and, after some time, observed a large, vicious gnoll taking control of the unruly mob that had assembled and leading them back away from the party. The group moved into that barracks type room and looted it. Kel tripped a glyph (again) but escaped injury (again) on an iron lock box. Finally, noises came from down the corridor of many feet approaching quickly. Desshin disguised himself as Master Dunrat and moved into the corridor. He found 20 or so gnolls, undead and humans marching rapidly, led by the large, vicious gnoll. Desshin called out to halt, but the vicious gnoll roared back “Dunrat is dead! Kill them all!” Desshin tossed a bear behind him and ran back to the room. A melee began, with the bear bottling up the enemies advance. Zerosh tossed a well-timed fireball which killed most of the enemies. The remainder died quickly before the party’s blades.

The group found on the gnoll’s corpse a small scrip (probably from a Quaal’s Feather Token – Bird) saying “The password is Dark Lord. All the agents sent to town are dead. Flee at once.” The gnoll, as well as the clerics in the moathouse, had a holy symbol for the fire temple. [Dunrat’s holy symbol was for the elder elemental eye] DM note -- I've made Maridosen a deep sleeper agent in this campaign. She's a high level shadowdancer who's been in the town for years, using it as a base of operations. I've also put some hidden gates to the plane of shadow near the moathouse, Rastor and a few other places of significance to the cult. These allow rapid transit (for the party now as well) and let me keep things focused in Hommlet to a large degree. Maridosen is the one who sent the feather token.

The party found a journal and was able to piece together much of what happened to this ill-fated expedition. Apparently the temple group moved in, excavated the pool, and then started running into problems. Festrath (a senior cleric) went into the deep cavern and refused to return. Then a dragon moved in upstairs and killed the group’s leader. The group tried to sortie against the dragon but was beaten back, taking further casualties. The dragon remained above, mocking them, while the group’s food supplies ran low. Apparently they also received word that the agents they had sent to Hommlet had been slain. Then, finally, the players show up. The final charge consisted of gnolls and undead in front, and two humans in back carrying the artifacts the group had collected, guarded by an ogre skeleton.

The party found Spugnoir hiding in the dungeons. He had been exploring things invisibly and had also been trapped by the dragon.

Finally, the party found a small shrine similar to those used by the drow in the campaign against the giants (and very familiar to Kel). They looted a few things from it, but touching it caused a visible reaction, and the party decided to seal up the small cave using stone shapes.

The party called out to Festrath, who responded in an insane fashion. He appeared to be flying in the cavern. The bodies of the two clerics were now visible directly beneath the hole. (The party had pulled the first platform up). There were no signs of violence on them, but they were definitely dead, and slowly being covered by ice from the splashing water. The rope to the second platform seems to have been cut, apparently trapping the clerics on the marbled surface. One severed end flaps into visibility occasionally. [I didn’t mention this last night because no one made their spot roll, but the cut rope should be apparent after the party spends enough time looking down] DM note -- Festrath cut the rope on the second platform while his two fellow clerics were one top trying to figure out how to get the top platform down.

Which is where we left things. The party will rest and look over the loot, while deciding what to do about the dragon and the mysterious cavern underneath.

(4/19/04 6:49 am)
part iii
So the party spent the night in the moathouse, resting and recovering spells. In the morning they decided to explore the hidden cavern. First, they tried calling and calling to Festrath, but there was no answer. Finally, they go down on the platform and loot the bodies of the two priests on the top of the obelisk. They string together a bunch of their ropes and tie them to the severed rope from the second block and tackle, then the bard and the drow rogue slide down to the bottom.

They find Festrath sitting in the middle of the obex symbol, dead. He's scrawled a message in front of him. "A final sacrifice for our true lord Tharizdun." Unfortunately, the players don't fall for it. I handed the PC the message written down, but he didn't read it aloud, and he told the rest of the players he'd tell them about it after they left the cavern. :(

I also put some gnoll bodies down there (one dead from a grell, one dead from a fall, and two dead from getting their souls sucked out by the obelisk). Festrath had taken a shoulder bone from one and carved an obex symbol on it to use as a holy symbol.

Party left the archway completely alone. Bard did a detect magic on the whole area before doing anything else. Since the water was giving off a strong necromantic aura, he decided to get a vial full. Unfortunately, he got his hand splashed (poor reflex save and no gloves). 9 points of con damage (failed fort save). That left him with 1 point. He screams for help. The wizard puts a feather fall on the ranger, who drops down and slaps a neutralize poison on him. Then they've got a problem, because he doesn't have the endurance to climb back out. The people up top could haul him out, but they'd have to drag him along the side of the obelisk, which would kill him. So they take the rope from the fallen platform, tie it to the end, the people up top pull it up, re-rig it into a loop, and then the others at the bottom are able to pull the bard to the top. This takes about 20 minutes. The neutralize poison is for 2 hours. The bard then hustles down the tunnel to where the horses were kept, gets on, and rides hell for leather for Hommlet. A hustling horse can go 8 miles in an hour, so he pulls into Hommlet with about 20 minutes left. Long story short, he gets a neutralize poison in time, does a little shopping, and heads back out. The rogue, meanwhile, gets his own vial of the nasty water (also blowing his save, but he was wearing gloves, so I let him get by).

The party had been talking about using the torch down there after the wizard identified it, but after the bard's experience they decided to leave well enough alone.

The group then decided to just leave the dragon alone and go met the wagon from Rastor. They camp out at the crossroads near the moathouse and wait. That evening a large wagon comes up from the north driven by a surly dwarf with black stained teeth and bloodshot eyes (visible signs of tanbrosh addiction). The wagon has a sign on it saying "Rastor Mining Company." He pulls up and says "YOu Dunrat?"

The bard's disguised as Dunrat using a change self and a disguise kit. The party loads their loot on board, has the dwarf haul them to town, and puts the dwarf up for the night at the Welcome Wench. They then sell stuff, get stuff identified, and split loot. Xaod immediately takes his share and heads off to get drunk -- drinks on him for everyone! Maridosen gets a room for herself and the bard, who once again unknowingly sleeps with the enemy. Xaod keeps telling them all that Maridosen is evil, but they think he's just saying that because she keeps cutting him off at the bar when his tab gets too high. ;)

The next morning they set off (minus Xaod, who's passed out). The dwarf takes them north of the moathouse, then drives into a hill, which turns out to be a gate to the plane of shadow. There are a handful of faint silver tracks. He follows one to another gate near Rastor. Party has him drive them to near the temple and drop them off. They then go into stealth mode and scope the town out. Bard goes in disguised as Dunrat and checks out the Gray Lodge. Others go in hiding, shape-changed, etcetera. In my campaign, Rastor is an almost pure dwarf community, with some orcs and half-orcs and a handful of humans. Two thirds of the people are addicted to Tanbrosh. The town is the logistical supply center for the temple. They (and the orcs) farm and hunt, and also serve as middlemen for anything else needed. All of the orders flow through Tal. The priest of Moradin is a drunken, dispirited addict. A dirty, poor, angry town, suspicious of all outsiders.

After getting the lay of the land, bard (Dunrat) spends some time chatting with Tal, gets some tanbrosh, and has the druid spend some quality time figuring it out. They then go back as a group, charm Tal, and have him invite them back into his rooms. Tal lives in a stone box (think drug house - with barred windows, steel door with sliding shutter, etctera). Half-ogre bodyguard in the front room, which is bare stone except for a desk with many drawers, a stool in the corner for the half-ogre, and two wooden chairs in front of the desk. Tal's rooms are in back. His one extravagance is good liquor.

The party uses detect thoughts to augment the charm and grills Tal for quite a while. They then spike his drink with the water from the obelisk. He keels over dead and the bard uses his hat of change self to impersonate Tal. The wizard starts going over Tal's books with a fine toothed comb, and the ranger, rogue and druid head into the hills to scope things out.

Party is kicking around a variety of plans. One includes chatting up the village elders and using neutralize poison to free promising ones from addiction, starting with the cleric of moradin. Then adulterate the drug supply with the methadone type substitute, weaning the population off the drug slowly. They also want to start skimming from the temple's orders, which may be their downfall. They came within a hair's breadth of just killing Tal and leaving town, which would have resulted in two thirds of the town dying within a few days (unless the temple acted in time to get a new supply down there, which might or might not have happened). Instead, they've taken over the local drug trade. ;)

I told them I was going to have to send them an extensive set of e-mails on what the characters learned over the next few weeks. I don't see any real reason they can't keep going this way for some time. Should be verrrrry interesting.

(4/19/04 7:00 am)
Re: part iii
Got a question about that sphere. I had almost the same thing happen to my party, but the AC 5 is very hard to miss with Dunrat (he rolls a 1 or 2 to miss right?) so how did he manage to miss that? Not important. Maybe he aimed for the player instead.

But the question about the sphere is this: Can it 'conform' to the shape of the area or does it not work if it hits a barrier. The sphere has a 20 foot diameter (I think) and so that's way too big to fit on the stairs. In the PH it says a spell that can't fit into the area it's cast automatically fails. How did you handle this? When it happened in my game, I ruled that the sphere just encompasses everything inside, and some objects (like the stairs) were halfway in, halfway out. But I wasn't really happy with this explanation.

(4/19/04 7:42 am)
He did in fact roll a 1, so the target issue was moot. He was aiming for the corner, not for a player.

I ruled that the sphere appeared centered on where the bead broke and that it simply conformed to any solid obstacles. Living creatures or movable objects got shunted to one side or the other. Basically a curved wall of force. There's precedent for this in the 3.0 wall of force - hemisphere. Since it can be planted on the ground (which is generally an uneven surface) the implication is that it can conform its edges to a surface. Similarly, other wall spells like wall of stone can conform to uneven edges.

Rules are unclear on the subject, though. Pretty much a house rule whatever you do.

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