Feb 20, 2009

Delay

Sorry, I know I was supposed to have a new comic review up, but outside circumstances forced me to delay this review... I'll try to get something up soon...

Feb 9, 2009

Darkness and Light: Hidden Passages and Found Treasure

After the party found the passage into the hidden part of the temple, they began to make their way down the hallway.

Once again, they noticed how untouched this part of the ruins appeared. Magical light globes were still affixed to the walls offering illumination every 20 or 30 feet. Also, there was little in the way of dust and debris collecting in the corners and cracks--another testament to the undisturbed nature of this area.

Most of the corridors held little information on where the Gem of Amara might be located. A few areas were guarded by undead minions, a mix of human and gnoll corpses animated into zombie and skeletal creatures. The two forces that once fought to the death, now served together in unlife to do the bidding of some darker power.

One strange area held three vats (built into the floor) of a caustic liquid. Adow was able to determine that it had once been a powerful acid, and based on various wall carvings in this room, that this area was a preparation chamber for the monastery's dead.

Another room area held a black hexagonal pillar with daggers carved on each of it's six sides. After touching the pillar the carvings "peeled" off and became real floating daggers that began attacking the party. It took the players some time, but they eventually defeated the flying blades. The walls held some carvings and the symbol on the pillar seem to indicate that this chamber was dedicated to Hiddukel, one of the evil gods (while the rest of this underground lair seemed dedicated to a Fallen named DaiHauk).

Further exploration lead the party to an area that was once chambers for the head cleric of the order. There they fought the last of the undead constructs. Afterward they found a loose floor stone which seemed to cover a lock mechanism. Using the key they found on the corpse under the waterfall, they heard a grinding and shifting sound escape from beyond the room's walls. Further searching revealed a secret door to a natural passage that lead into a cave. As the party entered they could see the Gem of Amara in the center of the room.

the Gem of Amara

As the party went to retrieve what they fought so hard to find, they also encountered the spirit of the dead gnoll captain, the one who lead the raid on the temple, and who's only consuming obsession was to possess the gem. At first the spirit inhabited the body of the monk, until he was restrained, then the gnoll spirit jumped into Adow's body. After a brief hesitation, as the spirit gained control of the new body, it again went after the gem. As the gnoll touched the gem he had so longed to possess, a feeling of peace had washed over the mage.

With it's one goal finally complete, the spirit of the gnoll began to fade, it's grip slipping... soon it was gone, and the party was left alone in the chamber, now in full possession of the Gem of Amara.

Feb 6, 2009

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 16) - High Sorcery

Flesh and Stone

High Sorcery part 3This issue picks up right after the last issue, with a great splash page of a gargantuan Spyrus (in the form of a stone golem) towering over the party while lesser golems attack. The mages combine their power to keep the monsters at bay. Spyranus then manipulates this demi-plane to split the party up.

Myrella and Par-Salian find themselves falling down a huge canyon. Quick thinking on Myrella's part allows her to cast a Feather Fall spell in enough time. As the two begin to climb up the rocky walls, Par-Salian mentions that while these events are real, this is also considered her Test of High Sorcery. Myrella resolves to succeed, thereby earning the white robes she believes is her destiny.

Elsewhere Kal and Goldmoon are trapped in a ragging river. At first Kal tries to hold on the cleric and clutch a stray branch, till it breaks under the river current tugging against the two. Before the two get swept under, Goldmoon is able to cast a spell to part the river and allow them to get out safely. Back on shore, Goldmoon tries to help the elf, but Kal insists that only the Mindbender magic item can help him.

Meanwhile, Ladonna and Riverwind find themselves trapped in a room. As they try to escape, they are taunted and attacked by giant heads of Spyranus forming out of the walls and door of this room. Together, the mage and plainsmen combine magic energy and brute force to escape.

As they get outside, they regroup with the rest of their party. They soon realize that Spryanus has been bound to The Lost Tower for so long that he can't bear to separate from the tower, which is why he has yet to return to Krynn.

Spyranus attempts to pull the tower (and himself) back to Krynn. While the archmage is consumed with this, Myrella comes up with an idea. Binding the power of Par-Salian and Goldmoon with her own, Myrella is able to summon the Mindbender from Krynn. With this powerful item, she is able to separate Spyranus from the tower as well as place Kalathan/Thanakan within the tower.

Spyranus, now human, seems to have lost all memories of who he is, while Kalathan now feels at piece since the tower is somehow able to contain both personalities without affecting the other.

Myrella realizes that her place as a mage is not among the white robes of good, but the red robes of neutrality. Just then she hears a disembodied voice before seeing Az-araz-ar appear. Myrella realizes he is not a common wizard, but actually the god Gilean, the chief god of neutrality. Az creates a portal back to Krynn, allowing everyone to leave, except for Kal.

The last two pages feature a brief explanation of where The Lost Tower is located among the planes, and stats for Takhisis (which is very strange, since she doesn't appear in this arc at all).

Commentary

I really liked this issue, this was a good ending to the arc. I had wished for Spyranus to be more of a villain, and maybe escape (to return in another story), but it's still possible for him to be a threat at another point. I also liked seeing Myrella's story, as she realizes her path. Overall the story could have been better if some of the other characters had learned/grew over the course of the story, but instead the mages and the barbarians, all characters from the novels, seem to just be on hand for Myrella's story. It was as if the writer didn't want to do anything to the established characters (and that may have been a requirement from TSR at the time), so I won't fault him too much on that.

Art-wise I think Michael Collins did another great job. Myrella looks determined and strong, Kal has really strong elven qualities, and depicting various magic effects, like Spyranus being ripped apart from the tower, are very well done.

Overall this is my second favorite arc so far (my top favorite is still issues 1-4). Hopefully the next arc will at least maintain this level of quality.