January 10th, 2016
Weather: Varied (light rain)
Characters (approximate net point total)
Angus "Mithrilbraid" McSwashy, dwarf swashbuckler (261 points)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (287 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (267 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (269 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (135 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (271 points)
Kenner Baumfellen, wood elf scout (250 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (252 points)
We started in the trading camp. Hjalmarr made the roll for Brother Iklwa Juma Deswayo N'Zinga ("Call me Brother Ike"), his new hireling cleric, to be available. Brother Ike dresses in the traditional garb of his grassland people, although he lives in this jungle area these days, and is a devoted healer in the service of Saint-In-Waiting Buyya Duad. The PCs also gathered rumors at Rumshackles. One especially amusing one was a man who told them never to speak of the gargoyle statues (meaning the ones in that domed building), as they are evil monsters. "You brought it up!" said Angus. Two others concerned the statues - one about the headless kings (sometimes they talk), another about how if you leave the guardian statue along, it'll leave you alone.
Meanwhile Gerry kept upgrading the gear on his skeletons, who now have a mix of arachno-assassin gear, better axes, better armor, etc. etc. They're getting better equipped than most still-living people.
Mo finished getting healed, and Gerry's arm was Regenerated as part of the deal for the sword traded for Resurrection but it was only half-grown back since that was less than two weeks ago.
They also plunked down 800 to get some sage advice - here, in the form of asking a few different older folks, local intellectual types, and of course, Dr. Nick Mako ("Free advice upon per-consulting payment!"). They found out a number of things about the Bells of D'Abo - you have to ring them with some kind of external clapper (doesn't seem to matter what kind, you can even use your fingers), they're not affected by magic, they have some kind of powers together and separately, and they chime differently when near each other. Chiming it in town set off a clear, sweet note that lingered for about 30 seconds and was physically felt across the whole camp.
Armed with that knowledge they headed out.
The trip to the city was mostly uneventful - only one person picked up Jungle Rot (which Brother Ike could cure), and their only encounter was a 15' long nearly 2' wide anaconda that snuck up on Hjalmarr during his watch. He was able to hack it to death and avoid its coils. Gerry happily cast Zombie on it (he has Huge Subjects 2 for that spell) and added it to his growing undead arsenal. They started to think about using the snake as a pack animal by feeding it treasure to retrieve later - Hasdrubel coined the term "Lootaconda."
The weather cooperated and thanks to a lot of Haste +1 spells they made it to the city near nightfall on day 3. Gerry and Hjalmarr (defaulting Stealth) snuck to the edge of the city and looked down on it, bringing the bell. They found it wouldn't go Invisible with Gerry. They watched for an hour, hearing noises and catching glimpses of movement on the East end of town but nothing really identifiable. Mo snuck up on them (with a 3), and tried to get them to ring the bell but he wasn't too insistent. Gerry didn't want to make noise and then stay in the same place. Overnight, Gerry pulled out one of his skulls and made a Skull Spirit.
Come morning, they decided to climb down the tree. Gerry tied off a rope. Angus jumped over; Mo climbed, as did Hjalmarr. As they went down, though, the harpy and her dire vultures flew over to investigate. A couple of Lightning spells by Hasdrubel drove them far enough up to be out of range. The vultures tried to snatch the helmets off of two of Gerry's skeletons, though, once the mages were down below and the skeletons were still being levitated down. The snake? It climbed.
The harpy and vultures circled around but didn't come too close, and the thick branches and leaves frustrated Mo's attempts to find a shooting vantage in the tree.
The reached ground and rested for a short time in a nearby ruined building. Their goal was to head to the "gargoyle statue" location, see if the bell would let them in, and if not, heal up (it's 6d damage, cosmically ignoring DR) and go to Rangol Grot's house. They rang the bell to see it sounded differently - nope. But it did seem to stir up some locals. They headed out, quickly, decided to take the main streets instead of skirting around the walls as usual.
They passed a three-step pyramid next to a grove of trees. They clearly heard monkey-like noises, and realized the Mowgli might be in the trees. But the pyramid was too tempting. They climbed up the first two levels via a front staircase, and found the top 20' x 20' x 12' section had a door-like opening. Looking in, they saw a large stone chest set into the floor. So they posted Mo and the skeletons outside and several of them looked inside. The walls, ceiling, and much of the floor were covered with crude paintings with primitive paints. They all depicted stick-figure types with tails, trees, lots of ones with a really big stick figure with a stick or club or something in two hands, and similar things. They all seemed to be layered on top of each other without much regard for order or sections, as if time after time more pictures were added as others faded without regard to what went before. It also smelled of monkeys. ("It's the monkey temple - we should defile it!" "You have to clean it to defile it." Cue "mop of defilement" jokes.)
They decided to check the sarcophagus-like chest. Hjalmarr tried to pry the top off while Hasdrubel waiting with Purify Air. He couldn't budge it - too heavy. Mo came in, though, and in two tries they managed to get it off. Inside was a mix of silver coins and hundreds and hundreds chunks of what Hasdrubel identified as lapis lazuli. With Mage Sight on, Hasdrubel spotted one faintly magical rock, which turned out to be a chunk of some dense rock, shaped like an eye. Maybe for the giant statue? They called in the lootaconda and a skeleton and started filling sacks.
As this happened, though, the monkey noises were getting worse. A lot worse. They started shrieking in a frenzy. Also, some weirdly layered cat calls started, and a ferocious bear-like growl. Uh-oh. The PCs didn't want to leave without their loot, though, so they hurriedly started to organize into a better formation. Too late, though, as mowgli started to leap from the nearby trees onto the pyramid.
Mo was outside by this point with his bow, and drilled one clean through while it was in mid-jump, killing it outright. More landed and rushed them. Two big cats also bounded out of the trees onto the second level of the pyramid. Hugely muscled panthers, each with five heads! Mo dropped his bow as a mowgli leaped at him with a wooden knife, and he fell (17 on Dodge) and was slashed with a clearly-poisoned tip! He grapped the mowgli in both hands, planning to squeeze him to death. But worse yet, one of the pentanthers jumped on top of him and started to bite, ignoring the mowgli in its way. Within a couple of seconds, Mo was badly wounded and bitten and being held (in the 26 CP range, not good even with Trained ST 18) and raked with claws.
The mowgli jumped all over the PCs, grabbing and throwing down nooses. Their envenomed wooden knives weren't much help against skeletons, and even thrown rocks didn't work so well (cloth armor and DR 2 makes them less fragile than you'd expect). However, the second pentanther jumped in and engaged Angus, driving him back and away from the downed Mo. Further, an almost man-sized mowgli (SM 0) dropped down into the doorway and transformed into a full-sized bear! It bit at Hjalmarr, who whacked it three times and did nothing except have his axe bounce off. Uh-oh, are weres immune to non-magic weapons? Maybe silver would work? Hasdrubel tried to help but accidentally zapped everyone in the room when he critically missed and put a 3d Explosive Lightning spell into Hjalmarr's back. He rolled 2 damage, though (3d-3, rolled a 5) and no one was hurt.
Hjamarr fought the bear, and saw it had something strapped to its back. He sliced at that, cutting a strap and causing a shield and axe to fall to the ground. The bear was still ignoring his strikes, though, and those of a skeleton in the room with him. Hasdrubel zapped the bear with lightning, and it seemed to hurt it but not too badly. The lootaconda was deployed. It bit the bear and held on. The bear bit back, though, and in a couple of seconds it smashed the snake's skull and tiny zombie brain, destroying it.
Meanwhile in a swirling fight, the skeletons kept the mowgli busy and one even managed to slash up the pentanther on Mo pretty badly. Gerry Great Hasted himself and then Angus, who then carved up a number of Mowgli (first cutting a noose one looped around him neck) and then carving the pentanther up next. The skull spirit pretty uselessly sparred with a mowgli, which dodged pretty easily and couldn't die so easily from 2 damage each hit.
Mo meanwhile was helpless - five heads bit him and held on, even as he tried to squeeze one of the mowgli to death with his left hand. The cat raked at him with its claws, wounding him fairly badly. But Angus managed to get off a Kiai and stun it, which kept it unable to respond until he and some skeletons could kill the pentanther.
Once it was down, they went to Hjalmarr's aid. The bear had transformed from a bear into a bear-mowgli shape, and crouched down and readied its shield and axe while still ignoring lightning and axe strokes. Worried by the axe, Hjalmarr decided to disarm him. Two strokes failed, but a second later he rolled a 3 and I ruled that was good enough for an instant disarm (otherwise, the werebear's ST-based Axe/Mace was a lot better than Hjalmarr's score to disarm). Then Hasdrubel nailed it with a 6d Lightning spell and stunned the bear. Hjalmarr dropped his axe and fished for the bear's dropped weapon, in case it was magical.
At this point, Angus got behind the bear and swapped his rapier to his left and then drew his silvered falchion, picked up way back in Lost City 1. A second later, still Great Hasted, he attacked and slashed the bear badly for a couple of seconds. Silver clearly worked. It became unstunned, turned, and double shield-bashed him. Angus Dodged one but not the other, which randomly hit left hand . . . and did exactly 2x what was needed to cripple. Worse, the shield had an embossed tiger head on it, which pushed out of the shield and bit. Angus's hand was bitten off at the wrist and eaten. His rapier (Signature Gear) fell to the ground. Angus wasn't stunned, though, and sliced it back with the knife. More lightning and then two more slashes killed the bear, and it dropped.
With the penthanthers dead and the bear down, the mowgli panicked and fled. Few were left, though, as Hjalmarr had readied the bear's axe and attacked some mowgli ripping at a skeleton, killing four in two seconds. Hasdrubel blasted one into cinders as they ran for the trees, and perhaps 4-5 escaped out of 20 or so that had attacked.
Angus sliced off the dead werebear's left hand/paw, because Pirate's Code of Honor says to avenge insults. Someone, I think Mo, decapitated the bear, who by now had turned into a somewhat Weismuller-looking man with a bad case of back hair.
They quickly huddled up on top of the "monkey temple" and finished gathering the loot. A quick glance at the shield showed it didn't detect as magical, but it was clearly good (it's a Targe of the Tiger, a variation of something in DF6), and the axe seemed normal. Now convinced that "doesn't detect as magical" means "actually an artifact of great power," Hjalmarr kept the axe.
We did some emergency healing, and as it was clear the whole place had been stirred up, the PCs got ready to leave (or stay, you never know.) Meanwhile, Gerry ripped off a couple of Zombie spells, bringing back the two pentanthers but skipping the were-bear (it wasn't clear if it would retain its were-powers, and they were inclined to think not.) I needed to roll to see if anything came after them, so we decided this was the place to cut it. Next session in a few weeks, resolving Part I of The Lost City 5.
I have some pictures, I'll post them later. (Editing Later: here they are!)
Late start today because I wasn't ready for game, I was actually trying to reorganize before I did my stocking, rumors, etc. We ended our usual time, too, so it was a little less gaming.
The PCs had a multi-pronged "to do" list so I expected they'd want to end in the lost city and not run back to town at the end, especially because this trip is the last safe and easy trip. Once the Spring rains start and the pilgrims head back to more civilized lands, they'll need to go back, too. So I was expecting them to want to stick this out as long as their PCs have resources in-game, and I prepared for that.
To add some drama to poison, I just have people keep track of how many times they've been hit with poisons, if those poisons aren't instant effect. Then as cycles come up, I'll have them roll for resistance and effect. That's why Mo was cured of it - no one wanted to wait around to see if that scratch was really okay.
This was our first 4e Skull Spirit, so I had to answer a lot of questions. They aren't nearly as nasty as 3e ones, but in some ways are a little more reasonable. The template in GURPS Magic needs a little tweaking for my game - it lacks some traits it really needs to fit how undead work in my game in general.
Pentanther, my players decided, would be a good band name. So would "Lootaconda" and "Mo and the Skeletons," in my opinion.
No XP for today, because it's not a complete delve, but MVP was Angus for the Kiai, fighting with his hand bitten off, and killing the man-mowgli-were-bear.