Novemeber 16th, 2014
Weather: Cool, cloudy.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Asher Crest-Fallen, human holy warrior (250 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (374 points)
Father Keef, human initiate (125 points, NPC)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (454 points)
Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (unknown point total, NPC)
Antonios, Demitrios, Leonatios of Meepos, human spearmen (unknown point totals, NPCs)
George Greenbow, human archer (unknown point total, NPC)
Still in town:
Al Murik, dwarven cleric (252 points)
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Mark Strawngmussel, human laborer (62 points, NPC)
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (372 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
We started as usual, in Stericksburg. The group gathered rumors, restocked, and otherwise made plans. Most of these involved finding something to do in the dungeon, and how to ensure the orcs weren't able to bother them. They also picked from a large crop of volunteers and would-be junior partners.
One special note - Vryce broke his original sword, the one he had since game 1, to recover the Undead Slaying tassels from it. He put all three on Gram, which is now +3 Puissance and Slaying versus Undead on top of its other abilities.
The rumors included a few good ones, such as the rules of world warping the deeper you go; something about the "blue ribbon" of Felltower being a metaphor, not a real key or ribbon; one about the orcs shaking down the independent farmers and trappers for protection payments, and a couple others.
They headed up the mountain and into the dragon cave. Signs of even more recent passage were there. Booted feet stomping around, lots of camp fires, brush gathered and fallen branches all scooped up as fuel, etc. Nothing was waiting within, although the group moved in carefully to ensure they weren't ambushed.
From there, they began some steady, careful exploration of the area around one of the cube-shaped rooms and the so-called banana shaped room. Mostly they closed off some map errors, but they also found a "dead end" was a mapping error. They headed down that tunnel, and found it ended in a dead end cave. The cave was holy and sanctified, and Asher sensed this immediately. In it was a pool of cold, clear water surrounded by scores of mushrooms, all 6" tall and in single file around it. Naturally, in the face of peace and calm, they sent in a servant to kick over a mushroom. It did, sending it flying into the pool. Asher sensed the holiness and calm fade a little. So he stopped them and took the mushroom out of the pool, and felt the calm return.
They scooped up a few mushrooms, took some of the water, and left the peaceful place behind.
Some more exploration found another 20' wide corridor ending in a dead end, and then a smaller side passage. They followed that and found a semi-circular cave. At one point was a statue - a big, squat, intimidating thing with a axe-like blunted two-handed sword sculpted into it and a demonic visage. At either side of it was a weapon stand with a weapon on it (one side, a flamberge, on the other, a y-tipped yari). When they advanced a little, it spoke to them they could trade any magical items they had, and take their pick from others left by previous visitors. At that, a chest appeared full of armor, weapons, wands, rings, amulets, a staff, etc. in front of it.
Of course, this was a magical trap. Everyone except Vryce (who used Luck on his resistance roll, and got a 3) and Asher (a high resistance roll, +8 for resisting Evil Supernatural Powers, and this was) was taken by this. They dropped their ready weapons and shields and crowded forward to find a good item to trade. Even a magical servant came forward, offering its Continual Light stone. Meanwhile, the statue disappeared, and a quiet stone-on-stone clunk, clunk, clunk was heard by the non-greedily pawing characters. Asher backed off, trying to use his Detect to spot it. Vryce started slapping Dryst, hard, to get him to snap out of it. He did, thanks mostly due to Dryst's strong Will.
The statue (golem) attacked from behind, invisibly, striking one of the Meeposian brothers down. Thanks to solid HP and scale armor, Antonios went to -17 but didn't die, and didn't actually pass out for a few seconds. Vryce moved up, but the golem disappeared again. Dryst slapped See Invisible on him even as Vryce slapped at Raggi, who wasn't fazed - in fact, he said, "Wait your turn! I'm next!" as he kept pushing to the chest. The golem stepped up and struck Raggi, and knocked him back, down, and unconscious. Vryce finally moved up to engage.
The golem kept up its rhythm - attack, turn invisible, move and attack again. But Vryce could see it, and was able to force it back and beat down its defenses. A number of hard blows later, and it broke up and fell apart.
Once that was done, it was just a matter of time to snap everyone out of the spell . . .and naturally the loot disappeared too. As they got ready to rest up and heal up, they heard scraping sounds and figured it was the gargoyles. They set up for combat and waited. The gargoyles came, pushed the servant guard aside, and came into the room. They didn't attack. They simply asked for gems. Their massive leader tried to convince the PCs to give it the gemstone eyes of the golem, but they wouldn't. Dryst tried to intimidate them off, but they weren't impressed. Sometimes, being a SM-2 halfling isn't an advantage. Vryce offered them a pair of gemstones, though, from a trio he took way, way, way back from the Caves of Chaos. He offered two to the leader if they'd not attack the PCs "forever." The gargoyles agreed, although it's not clear if they know what "forever" really means. Whatever - Vryce is convinced keeping the orcs at bay is important, and the gargoyles can ensure that just by being roving annoyances who are effectively immune to non-magical weapons. The gargoyles left them, and they waited for a while to get wounds tended and energy recovered.
Next, the group moved up carefully, loaded to crush the orcs by surprise. No need, though - the orcs weren't there, the warning gong was gone, and it turned out the orcs (or someone else) had blocked up the stairs up to the level above (were the PCs fought last session.) Their rear secured, the PCs headed to the so-called evil temple.
The altar they'd moved was back in place, so they shoved it aside, stationing the Meeposian brothers to try and shield them. That worked, sort-of, by adding them to the targeting list from the energy blasts from the pillars. Everyone was hurt, but no one seriously. They healed up and sent their top guns down. Raggi, Vryce, Dryst, and Asher went down into the connecting passage, and back up into the evil temple. With Walk on Air and Dark Vision on everyone, they didn't fear the weird darkness, Blackout spells, or cursed floor tiles of the far temple.
Raggi and Vryce came up, and immediately saw some black beings (no one asked, but they were Demons From Between The Stars, from DFM1). Others attacked them from behind, striking them with armor-ignoring life-draining touches. Vryce and Raggi engaged. Raggi moved forward, Vryce backward, but the attackers kept close and Dodged well. A few stepped out of view and disappeared. Raggi managed to get a few together and went for a Cleaving Strike but only clipped one, and then got mobbed and badly life drained. He went berserk. Vryce hacked one badly, and it went berserk.
A confused melee followed, as the DFBTS kept ducking into shadows and re-appearing behind people and double-draining them. Injured ones quickly went berserk, however, and even a wizard DFBTS who covered itself with Blur was clipped and went berserk. Raggi was mobbed, and engaged in a point-blank battle of berserkers with the blurred one. Vryce took down a couple. Asher joined the fray and wounded one, then started doing some serious damage once he was Great Hasted. Dryst got drained, Raggi took more damage (and this damage healed the berserker attacking him), and the PCs whittled down the DFBTS one by one. Dryst used his magical wand to shock and stun one who was trying to reach cover so it could backstab again, and then Vryce killed it. Asher struck one attacking Raggi, but then critically failed and dropped his sword . . . only after clipping and injuring Raggi, forcing him to make a death check (he passed.) Dryst finished that DFBTS with an amazing lightning bolt (6d-6 for 25 damage!)
All seven of the DFBTS were banished. That done, they investigated the temple, after sending Raggi (who was awake, thanks to a 3 on a consciousness roll) back to the rear for healing. In it was an altar with assorted valuables on it, along with the expected bloodstains. The altar had some big, heavy brass candle stands (like, 100 pounds apiece!), a gilt brass bowl full of black opals, a chaos symbol made of blood-rusted twisted spiky metal, and a sacrificial knife decorated with gems. Beyond it was not a painting like the "other" temple but rather a larger recessed area. That seemed oddly 2D sometimes and 3D other times, and like it sloped in from all angles. Dryst's analysis was that it wasn't wholly "here" or "there" but simultaneously both. Not only that, but there was a secret door at its apex, visible to Dryst's See Secrets. To figure out what's up with it, Dryst created a halfling-sized servant and Vryce tossed it into the "special" area. The servant slowed down oddly and then disappeared, either destroyed or dispelled. A tossed slingstone hit the secret door, but did nothing.
Also, while Vryce was near the altar, a telepathic message to each of them told them they could sacrifice a member of the same race on the altar, and the first one to do so would receive a bonus to their strength, agility, mental acuity, or health. But only the first. They all got them strong sense this was a real offer - it felt true. Evil but true.
A vote of 2-1 went for "ignore the door, exorcise the cursed evil temple," once they figured out it was an either/or thing (go into the "special area" and into the secret door, or de-curse the place and know that would go with it.) They called Father Keef over, and he used a complementary skill roll to help Asher do the three-hour exorcism. It was tough, but Asher made his roll by 9 and beat the Will of the evil force that tainted the temple. The 3D area snapped to pure 2D. They started to check out the altar's loot . . . and the back wall went fuzzy, and the chaos symbol because to warp and twist of its own accord. They grabbed stuff, more quickly as the floor, walls and ceiling started to get fuzzy and blurry at about an inch a second. They sped up as the fuzziness sped up. Vryce grabbed a brass candle stand, Dryst the bowl of gems, and Asher the knife, and they started to run. Even then, a weird buzzing noise was sounding in their heads. The fuzzing sped up, to over a yard a second. The PCs sprinted, the cursed floor ignored thanks to Walk on Air. They ran down to the 'tween temples area, and then up into the other cursed temple. They started to run from there, too.
The fuzzing stopped at the other temple, but the back wall picture stopped being weird and changing, and the paint peeled off of it. The altar they'd shoved with so much trouble crumbled into rubble. It felt back but nothing seemed to go down the hole. A few of them were deafened, too, with severe tinnitus, from the sound of the shredding, twisting, shrieking end of the temple.
With that, they walked the terribly wounded Raggi between two of the Meeposian brothers and managed to get back to town safely. They kept a careful watch as they went, and scouted for ambushes outside - good idea, even if this time there was none.
Eventually, the sold most of what they took (including 88 x 2 carat opals at 420 each), and the haul was close to 10K each (half that for the Meeposian brothers, who take a half-share.)
First, a personnel note. We've temporary lost Galen Longtread's player due to a medical issue. While Galen's arrows are missed, mainly we miss his player's pithy comments, casual contempt of the orcs, and fist-bumping with Raggi after killing things. We're holding his spot for him and looking forward to his return. So for folks playing along at home, no Galen for a while.
Asher is buying the Cleric lens piecemeal, right from the start. After this session he purchased IQ +1, his first step to the full lens. He didn't get the price break for reduced Per, but I don't generally allow that when going for something piece by piece.
HP 30 is just stupid. Vryce drank a Minor Healing potion ($120, 1d HP) and rolled a 6 . . . and got 18 HP back. His player had some comment like "Normally being down 6 isn't a big deal, but this might be a big fight, so heal me up." Also this session Raggi has 22 HP and took 70 injury in that big fight and was making his usual death checks. If he was a HP 10-12 guy, he'd be dead from that, not just injured.
XP today was 6 for everyone, 7 for Asher. It was a profitable trip (5 each), +1 for the exorcism, and +1 MVP for Asher for performing the exorcism. Had they gone for the secret door instead of the exorcism, they'd have gotten +1 for that as it would lead to a "special area." It wasn't possible to do both, though, and it was possible to do neither.
Not sure what they'll do next time, in two weeks, but we'll find out.
Pictures tomorrow - Asher's player took a few good ones. I just don't have time to edit and add them right now. I'll post something tomorrow and then update this, as well.