Nov 25, 2007

GS: Out of Bounds - Part 3

... waking up the next day, the party continued exploring this ancient underground complex, now recently the home of marauding kobolds.

Heading back into the row of jail cells, Arti was interested in exploring the one empty cell from the other day. He determined that there was a magical effect in part of the room, but couldn't tell just what it did. Testing the area on himself, he started suffering as though he were splashed with acid until he left that area.

At this point the party went all the way back to the large "trash room" and continued down the other corridor. They came across a statue embedded in the wall that looked similar to one they had previously seen. Before they had a chance to investigate further, several quick moving kobolds raced down a hall and began attacking. The fight was swift but after a few rounds of steel and magic, the kobolds were defeated.

The party was now able to concentrate on the statue and noticed that this new statue was more menacing looking (it's weapon was raised as if ready for combat and it's free hand pointed accusingly at all onlookers). Arti correctly figured out that the two statues represented different natures of the same being, though nobody knew who it represented. While looking at the statue both the goblin and Theo found themselves uncontrollably falling asleep. A few minutes later they awoke but in short order the goblin succumbed to the same magical effect again, leaving the party to drag him out of the room...

The next room was actually a huge pit with a crude rope bridge strung across it. As the party entered, the kobolds on duty started trying to cut the bridge down before anyone could get across. One of the three kobolds involved was able to activate some strange effect and created a cloud of obscuring mist around him. Unfortunately for him, Hunter was skilled enough in the bow to still hit his target to devastating effect and the others were immobilized before the bridge was rendered useless.

Traveling down a wide hallway, they entered a room filled with nooks. Each nook held an open upright coffin. Many of them also held kobolds that had been set up to try and ambush the party as they entered. The ranger, the kender, the mage, and even the goblin spread out and were able to defeat the kobolds without taking any serious injury. After the battle, they searched the room and found two secret passages, one lead to a new area while the other lead back to the statue room. (The puzzle that the party never really figured out was if they arranged the heads in a certain manner, it would reveal the secret passage)

The party then proceeded down the secret passage to a new area and found themselves in a strange room. On one wall was a large "mirror" that was actually a magical window that looked through the rock and shown nearby rooms. The device could also be moved along the wall to look in to other rooms, depending on where it was positioned. Magically suspended in the air in the center of the room was a huge glass container. It was open on the bottom, but the remaining 5 sides were solid glass. Also in the room was an old statue of a man in robes, though it was hard to tell if the statue was a mage or cleric.

After a few moments in the room, a small group of kobolds ran in and began attacking the players (what the party never figured out was that the kobolds were summoned by the tribe leader to come to this room). Once fighting broke out, the statue became animated and randomly attacked anyone in the room.

At one point Theo ran under the glass container, wherein it dropped around him. It did no damage, but trapped him inside for a little less than a minute. During this, most of the kobolds had been defeated, but coming down the hallway opposite the one they used to enter the room, Hunter noticed a horrible abomination of a creature moving closer.

It walked on two feet and bore some resemblance to a kobold, but it was much large, about the size of an adult male. It had four arms and wielded a deadly looking trident. It's worst feature, that Hunter and everyone soon found out, was the creatures ability to walk through walls.

Instead of coming down the hallway as Hunter expected, it soon popped out of a wall behind him and began attacking and using it's phase ability to it's advantage. In the ensuing melee everyone scrambled to attack the creature but at first it seemed too powerful, knocking Arti unconscious and bleeding to death, and almost killing the goblin with it's mighty blows.

But the conscious memebers all pulled together and did enough damage to force the abomination to retreat into the walls for parts unknown. With everyone exhausted and hurt, they decided to retreat to the statue room to rest, recuperate, and heal.

The next morning, everyone was feeling a little better and went back to exploring this ancient catacomb. Their first destination was to explore the hallway the kobold abomination had come from. The hallway lead to a room that Arti deduced was a casting chamber (and he was correct). Everyone was hesitant to stand atop the faintly glowing alter in the far end of the room, but as they explored around the area, they found a large collection of treasure -- piles of various coins and a few weapons littered the area (and represented the choicest items from the kobolds raids on unsuspecting travelers on the nearby road). Before the party could get away with this hard earned loot, the kobold abomination returned to try and feed off the party one last time. Time time, everyone was more prepared, and more effective in their attacking. After just a few rounds of combat, they wounded the creature enough to chase him away for good.

The party gathered up all they could carry and left this ancient dwelling...
(It should be noted that the party chose not to investigate at least one area they knew about... and no one know who or what was back in that last area?)

Once outside they found that the horse and cart they previously left outside was gone (it had been about 3 days now since they first went in) and they were forced to try and walk back to town (a journey that would take about two days). As luck would have it, a local patrol from Flotsam was returning to town and had just enough room for the party and their goods, assuming they were willing to make a "donation" for the guards services. It was money well spent to get back to the city and the comfort of their homes that night.

(The "Out of Bounds" adventure took more than three sessions to complete, these entries combine more than one game session)

Nov 19, 2007

Useful DM Links

First in a series of posts on some of my favorite links for D&D.

The Hypertext d20 SRD

This is without a doubt one of the most useful links I have. I've just recently gotten back into the DM's chair (and my first time running a lengthly 3.5 game) and I find this site useful for so many reasons. The encounter calculator alone is worth this link being at the top of any DM's list, but the hyperlinked SRD content is also valuable when you need to look up a spell, feat, or almost anything else.

Granted, not everything in the D&D Core Books is in the SRD, but there's enough to satisfy most of your needs, and if you keep up on what didn't make it to the SRD, you shoudn't get too frustrated when you can't find it there.

Nov 16, 2007

GS: Out of Bounds - Part 2

... so the party was able to follow the track marks deeper into the forest. They tethered their horse and wagon before venturing further. After a short trip, the found the tracks going into thick overgrowth.

Clearing away the camouflage, they found the remains of what looked like part of an old room built into the hillside. Inside was a heavy, engraved door (that soon turned out to be a false door) and statues on either wall. The door showed what looked like a skeletal man cradling a sick and dying man while feeding him some liquid. It was clear from the engraving that the skeletal figure was not causing, but trying to easy the dying man's pain. The statues on one side appeared to be the skeletal man, while the opposite statue looked like the dying man.

After searching the room and trying to figure out where the tracks had gone, Hunter got the smart idea to pour liquid down the throat of the statue representing the dying man. The liquid affected a buoyant mechanism in the statue and released the lock on the hidden passage way.

The party moved in cautiously down the underground path and soon found themselves in a room with a bunch of kobolds. Most of them were busy playing a game with crude dice, while only one stood alert. Everyone rushed in and engaged the kobolds before they had a chance to arm themselves and organize their attacks. Many of them were dispatched quickly, but one managed to slip out an exit on the far side of the room. The party soon followed but there was no sign of him.

They continued down the hall and came across a statue, a shrine actually. Unfortunately there was no one in the party familiar enough with the various religions to determine who or what this represented. As they moved toward the next room, the escaping kobold tried to attack the party again on the stairs, where they had to travel single file and seemed a bit more vulnerable. This was not the case and he soon broke off his attack and ran away a second time.

The next room was very large, but was actually divided in two by a huge pile of debris piled in the middle like a great wall. The party was able to notice a small gap in the wall at one end, while Hunter was able to slowly and quietly climb the mound to get a look at the other side.

In the other half of the room were a bunch of kobolds drinking and throwing daggers into the corpse of a human male as target practice. Theo was able to sneak in a attack one of the kobolds before he was noticed, while Hunter used his position to rain arrows down and Arti wielded arcane magic to deadly effect. In short order all the kobolds in this room were as dead as the corpse they had been defiling minutes before.

Exploring further into the underground lair, they ran across a dire weasel and his kobold owner. The strange thing was that the weasel had the unusual ability to breath a cone of rocks and pebbles as a short range attack. Fortunately the party quickly dispatched the weasel and it's kobold master with little injury to themselves.

Further in the lair, they found a collection of jail cells, and at the far end of the hall, a female kobold, clad in robes, fixing a stew. The kobold turned out to wield divine magical power and attempted to use it against the party. Hunter was in the front line of the battle and along with Theo and Arti stopped her before she could do much harm. A search of her body revealed the keys to the other jail cells in the hallway.

In one cell the party found a small gaggle of strange dog-rat looking creatures (this wasn't some twisted magic experiment, but a unique creature to the Dragonlance setting that's more familiar to underground races, hence the reason the PCs didn't recognize them). The party chose to leave them in their breeding cage and checked the other cells. One was empty, one had two kobold prisoners. They were in tatters and malnourished, clearly no threat to anyone. Hunter wanted to release them, and everyone else agreed. Once freed, the kobolds began scrounging for food from the nearby kitchen. The last cell contained another prisoner, but this one was a goblin. He was in better shape than the kobolds, and once freed, seemed to want to follow the party. They gave him a crude dagger they picked up earlier let him follow along. Since he didn't speak the common tongue, communication was crude at best.

After looking in the cells, everyone proceeded down the new corridor near the kitchen. This path was strange in that there was little evidence of traffic in this area, as if the kobolds avoided the whole area. At the end of the corridor, the party found a strange room full of statues. Each held a different weapon in it's hand and while the statues were on opposite sides of the room, none of them actually faced each other. Also strange was that the heads of the statues could be rotated, but that was all. Everyone thought there was some trick or puzzle to the statues, but after some time they gave up and used this undisturbed area as a safe spot to rest, heal and regain spells...

Nov 10, 2007

Game Session - Out of Bounds

It had been a couple of weeks since we finished up the first adventure (real life schedules getting in the way) and now we were about to start the next one. In between sessions we exchanged some emails to deal with the treasure, cost of training (they were both now level 2) and some other mundane matters. The party was still in possession of a book ("The Way of the Unspeakable One") that no one could comprehend, and some ceremonial swords cult members had on them (some were sold for coin).

The original job that they were hired to do was to deliver some papers to Herrick Mendon, a merchant who worked out of Flotsam and Dun Eamon (aka The Grey Citadel), so they still had that task to complete. Before they could do that, an agent for Herrick approached them with an offer. Delay your trip to Dun Eamon for a few weeks and escort a special item to The Grey Citadel along with the papers, for an additional few. The PCs agreed as they didn't have anything else pressing at the moment. The downtime allowed them to train and gain more skills.

When the package arrived, the PCs were met again by the agent and another person going along with them on the trip; a mage named Arterion. (The PCs didn't ask but the reason was because of recent attacks on lone wagons on the roads around Flotsam).

The party now consists of:

  • Hunter - half-elf ranger
  • Theodonis - kender rogue
  • Arterion - elven (Silvenesti) mage
The trip to Dun Eamon was about 6 days and there were no real incidents along the way. Hunter used his bow skills to bag fresh game when possible and the party met a lone traveler (spice trader) one afternoon. They shared a meal and exchanged information. The traveler had heard mention of the trouble around Flotsam but little of what was going on at the Grey Citadel. After a fine meal, they both went their own ways.

At Dun Eamon, the party met Herrick Mendon (and older, dour sort of fellow) and learned the package was for the mage-in-residence, Elinda Bannon. They received payment, and even had to correct Herrick when it appeared he "accidentally" short-changed them.

They headed over to the Market Tavern (the nearby Tavern and Inn) and talked a bit with the dwarven bartender, Flitch, about Elinda. She wasn't in the bar at the moment but was often found in her tower or playing a game of Khas with her friend Brother Cael.

She wasn't at Brother Cael's, but they learned that Cael was Cael Angus, brother of Arb and Bron Angus, who were the town ruler and captain of the watch, respectively. After going to her town, but finding no way in (her magic obscured any possible enterance inside), they were lucky enough to run in to her outside her place as she came back from some errands.

They chatted for a bit on the street corner. Then, with a wave of her hand, an enterance appeared and she invited them inside for some tea. They showed her the book regarding the "Unspeakable One" but she was as much at a loss as they were regarding the exact contents. Her specialty was in ancient and complex magic devices, not dark divine powers (as she deduced from the book's title). The party soon left and retired to the Market Tavern to get a room for the night.

The next morning they set off for the return trip home. The first few days passed without event, but then in the forested area, about a day and a half outside of Flotsam, they found an overturned wagon and a dead horse. The horse had been carved with some sharp blade and not simply eaten by a savage animal. Hunter was able to see tracks that looked like a body being dragged away and the footprints of about a dozen or so small shoeless bipeds. They all followed the trail deeper into the forest...

Nov 8, 2007

Game Session - In the City

With the PCs back on ship and the Eye of the Sea Dragon in their possession, only one task remained... to return the gem and Captain Fletcher's bones to the Temple of the Pirate God...

As the ship sailed into Flotsam and the PCs got to see construction on a nearby island of a large building (they would later learn it will be a massive lighthouse for the port city). At the docks they saw all manner of ships from elven and minotaur ships, to merchant vessels from all around the continent dropping off and taking on passengers and cargo. The ghostly Captain Fletcher gave the PCs directions to the Temple and promptly disappeared, so as not to frighten the general populace.

When the party arrived at the Temple of the Pirate God, they found the ghost of Captain Fletcher already there and talking to his old friend, Peg-Leg Peligro, commonly known these days as Father Pete, head of the church. He was glad for the return of the missing item and thanked the party for their great efforts. Leading everyone to the back of the church, Father Pete revealed a trapdoor that lead to the temple's basement. Down there, were all the church's treasures and offerings from it's more successful parishioners, from bags of coins of all denominations, to precious works of art and exquisite jewerly. But the center piece of the room was the huge statue at the one end of the room. On top of a high base, was the bronze statue of a dragon turtle, in repose. It's head reared up and looking down benevolently. One eye of the statue was a large spherical ruby, while the other eye socket was empty. Father Pete deftly climbed up to the top of the statue and placed the returned gem in the empty socket. He made a small parting prayer before escorting everyone topside.

One back upstairs, the ghost of Captain Fletcher starting making his goodbyes, prepared for his journey on the River of Souls to the afterlife. But before he could depart the mortal coil, there was a loud crash coming from the basement. Peg-leg Peligro raced to the back of the church to investigate the strange noise. When he opened the trapdoor again, smoke and dust caming billowing out of the basement. As it cleared, Father Pete went down for a better look, as did the party.

Once down there, everyone could see that the statue had be toppled over, and that now both eye sockets were empty of the precious stones that made up their visage. It appeared that magic had been used to allow thieves entrance into the lower level of the building and had also resulted in knocking over the statue. Everyone searched for some trace of a clue to show who might have taken the stones, or where they might be. With all other avenues exhausted, everyone helped replace the huge statue back on it's base. In the empty eye sockets, Father Pete placed lit candles and made a prayer of guidance to his god. The smoke from the candles coalesced into a wall of vapor and showed brief images to all who were in the room. In the vapor was a warehouse door, with a strange symbol above it, people in a cavern wearing robes and chanting around a stone altar, and both "eyes" on top of a crude flat surface.

Father Pete was able to recognize the symbol and the door as part of a building in the warehouse district. He gave the party directions to where it was located this building.

Hunter, Theo, and Royan staked out the place for a while and saw no activity in or out of the place. After a while the entered to investigate further. The large warehouse appeared empty and dimly lite. As Theo moved in closer, one of the hidden guards tried to attack. Combat ensued for a while as Theo and his assailant faced off and Hunter tried dealing with a second hidden person, this one wielding magical power. The two guards fought fanatically to their deaths.

Afterward the party had time to search the warehouse where they uncovered a hidden entrance to a natural underground cavern. They slowly and softly proceeded down in the depths.

The stone was rough and natural rooms formed down here. As they proceeded down the hall the found a storeroom with spare supplies in one area. In another "room" there was a sleeping pallet, a small chest, and even a table and chair. On the table they found a strange book. The writing was unknown to any of the party, but the title was in common for all to see, "The Way of the Unspeakable One". Theo grabbed the book as they all made their way further into the cavern.

Just rounding a corner, they all started hearing chanting in the upcoming room. As they turned another corner, they could see the unholy site. All around a central stone dais were several robed figures chanting, one clearly leading the others in some unnatural prayer. Dim torches lit the full room and a light haze of smoke filled the air with a sweat, pungent aroma. Atop the dais were the two stones missing from the statues eyes.

Theo, and Hunter were the first to rush into the room, attacking the cultists with drawn weapons. Royan followed just on their heals. Most of the cultist stopped their chanting and unsheathed their own ornate short swords. The cult leader continued chanting while the other members were able to press the attack against Hunter and Theo. Surrounded by cult members, Hunter and Theo fell unconscious from the attacks. The last thing either of them could see before passing out was Royan tring to fight through the cult members on his way over to their leader...

A few hours later Hunter and Theo awoke to find themselves still in the lower cavern. Next to them was the dead body of Royan, having been run through with several swords. Looking further around the room, they were horrified to see all the bodies of the cult members savagely dismembered and scattered around the room like so many broken toys. Then they noticed on top of the alter the two stolen jems still remained, untouched and otherwise undisturbed amidst all this carnage. Hunter and Theo gathered up the gems and carried the body of their fallen comrade back to the the Temple of the Pirate God. They were able to take sidestreets and otherwise remain out of view of the local guard.

Back at the temple they were able to return the stones and allow the ghost of Captain Fletcher to continue his journey on the River of Souls. For the living left behind, more questions than answered remained. Who is the unspeakable one? What exactly happened in that cavern? And will it come back again?
(end of session 3)