November 22nd, 2015
Weather: Varied (mix of clear and some rain)
Characters (approximate net point total)
Gerald Tarrant, human wizard (285 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (257 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (258 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (259 points)
Quenton Gale, human druid (252 points)
Angus "Mithrilbraid" McSwashy, dwarf swashbuckler (250 points)
Dave, human knight (252 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Kenner Baumfellen, wood elf scout (250 points)
We started in the trading camp.
Some diseases were cured and Gerry had Restoration cast on his broken foot. He didn't have the cash for Regeneration for his mangled arm, so he had the rest cut off. He's still debating a zombie arm or a ghoul arm, instead. For now, he's one-armed.
They group heard some rumors: there some things called mowgli that climb like monkeys but are clever like men; there was a clutch of evil druids in the city in the past (Nobody knows who they were, or what they were doing); that the city was founded by demon-worshipers from all over the world; how princess Aivilo of D'Abo was sacrificed by the pointy-hatted priests of the city; and one about an elf who moved into the city decades back. The PCs spend some time tracking that down - turns out his name was Rangel Grot (it cost 20 sp to get Dr. Nick to confirm the full name.) The elf is apparently one-eyed and still in the city. Dr. Nick claimed potential doctor/patient privilege when asked if he removed the elf's eye. They also heard that there is a dragon in the city's lake, which instantly got Hjalmarr interested - his goal is a wall full of dragon heads.
Gerry needed some skeletons to replace the destroyed ones from his previous group. Gale was able to help, since druids have a great connection to The Dead. It cost him 240 sp, same as when he got them initially.
They bought up the available healing potions and headed out. This time, Gerry was able to put Haste +1 on everyone and keep it up, pushing their Move to 5 once they spread out gear. This made for a much faster trip.
The trip to the city had mostly amusing events. Very bad weather turned the trail into a river, forcing the group off the trail and around onto a newer one for a while. Some trail blockage and ants and rats caused some delays. And, of course, Hasdrubel immediately picked up Jungle Rot with a critical failure after some bug bites, leaving him in rough shape for the rest of the trip despite regular treatment.
But once they were stopping for a break when a column of army ants overran the group. Most of the group spotted them in time and got out of the way. Hjalmar didn't - and what's worse, he a) dislikes insects and b) blundered into the main group trying to avoid the fringes of the column. He got swarmed with ants and bitten.
Hasdrubel didn't bother to get out of the way. He whipped up a quick Windstorm spell to scatter the ants. Gerry put Missile Shield on himself.
Ants flew everywhere. Hjalmarr had some blown onto him (and some off, luckily). So did everyone but Gerry. Dirt, water, leaves, plants, bugs, beetles, stinging ants, etc. - it all blew around in the storm. At the end the jungle was a shambles, ants were everywhere, and Hasdrubel declared victory. Once Hjalmar was ant-free, they headed back out. Luckily nothing came across (despite a penalized Wandering Monsters check), and Hjalmarr was able to keep up with the pain of the ant venom.
That wasn't the end for Hjalmarr, either. He was later neck-bitten by a venomous spider. He couldn't resist the venom and no one had the tools to remove it. So he just sucked up four hours of worsening condition before the venom seemed to have run its course.
The PCs arrive at the city at night of the third day. They camped with a short hike of the edge, and took turns sneaking up to the edge and watching the city. The city really comes alive at night. They heard sounds of brief fighting, some cries of things killed and eaten, insect noises, monkey noises (oddly communication-like), slithering noises, dragging noises, and whatnot. They also saw a flash of light or two near the east end, and then later saw a silvery glow from a cul-de-sac on the east side.
In the morning, they took some extra time and worked their way to the tree. They secured a rope, climbed down (Levitate for everyone but Mo and Hjalmarr), summoned an air elemental ("Weezy"), and got organized.
The first thing they did was head to where the glow came from. Peeking in buildings showed them little of interest so they kept on moving. They reached the cul-de-sac. There was a pedestal there, but an empty one. There wasn't any sign of anything on top, use for sacrifice, or anything else. No other ways out, either.
There were tracks of a large snake, so they trailed that back with Mo's tracking skills. The tracks took them down the big avenue, past some broken-off columns.
The street-facing side of the columns depicted some kind of elongated human (?) figures. It was hard to tell - they all lacked heads, which had clearly been broken off and were totally missing. The figures had swords, orbs, scepters, staves, etc. and robes or long flowing clothes. Five fingers, since that was asked.
The PCs continued on, seeing what looked like a place for a tunnel out. Halfway down the street, though, they heard a voice from one of the statues. Its voice was breathy and low. It called them "mortals" and asked them to help.
Gerry said it could be spirits trapped in the statues - it was a reasonable claim.
It said the way out was unsafe, but they wanted help getting revenge. An elf, who dwells in a compound in the west of the city, keeps them trapped. If the PCs would destroy him, they could be free - and they would reward the PCs. The PCs questioned them about the bells. They were told the bells were a myth, and only the princess could lift the curse but she had been sacrificed. They asked about the elf, the way out, etc.
Once conversation died off, they continued on. They could see the lake, but didn't spot any dragon. They did find a tunnel but it was blocked off by a bronze-barred gate. They could throw rocks through it, but their air elemental couldn't pass.
They realized they couldn't get past, so they investigated a nearby cave. It stank close to it, and Gerry recognized it as the smell the apes had. So Mo snuck up close and heard ape noises, and not a few. So they backed off and away.
They went back down the boulevard and the spirits (many spoke now, or at least one did with a lot of breathy noises and echos) spoke to them again. They were told there is a key in the "towers." Gerry decided this was suspicious, because first they want revenge and now they're telling them the way out? But either way, they decided the elf has to go and the towers need checking.
But there was a "pyramid" to check. (At this point, it felt like a tour - "We should go to the hacienda." "No, I want to stop at the pyramid!" "Fine, but we're just going around the outside, and if there is a fee I'm not paying to go in!")
On the way they saw a big buzzard watching them. Hasdrubel tried to hit it with Lightning but narrowly missed. It flew off low.
Only later did they realize it was the first animal (and first bird) they'd seen in the city to this point.
They reached the "pyramid" and found it was more of a giant un-numbered tetrahedron. There was big hole in the tetrahedron, and cracks down that side. It looked like something either broke in, or broke out. (Table joke: "It's how the grain escaped.")
They couldn't find a way into the structure around the base. Mo climbed up and looked inside. It was dark but he could make out shapes below, including what could be trashed interior walls and a man-like figure standing up. He threw a rock at the man-like figure, beaning it and toppling it with a scrape and a crash. Mo defeated the magical guardian of the pyramid with a mighty rock, and that's how it's going down in party history.
They tossed in a light stone. It seemed light stone seemed dim. There was clearly stuff on the floor, scattered around with broken rubble and shattered wall bits, but it was kind of shimmery and dim. They sent down a skeleton with Levitate. It lasted a few seconds before it felt apart. Oops. Shortly after the light stone fully dimmed down and winked out.
Turns out the bottom is a No Mana Zone, and out to a few yards off the surface of the tetrahedron was a Low Mana Zone.
They lit a torch. Then, Hjalmarr and Mo climbed in and down - and immediately and regularly started to take damage. Breathing was tight, but it seemed more like a miasma of death than some poisonous air (magical experimentation proved that.) Their torch burned well but the light it cast slowly dimmed.
Even so, they located a large chest of stone (Hjalmarr also likes big chests, just like Bjorn did) and opened it. It was full of coins - in the tens of thousands. They started to fill a backpack, but then splat-splat - both had a slime drip on them from above! Lucky for them, it was only an "average" painful slime - so, HT-4 and Pain. Mo got angry but didn't go berserk. They managed to grit through it with High Pain Threshold. Hjalmarr tried to burn it, but the slime was fire-resistant! They cursed Kromm and finished filling their bag, and then jumped up to the rope and climbed out one by one.
Turns out they'd gotten about 40 pounds of copper coins - at 1/10th of a sp each, and 250 to the pound, this was 10,000 cp worth 1,000 sp.
They went down and got more, this time managing to dodge the slimes and got another bag.
With 80 pounds of coins in their bag, they decided to leave it for now. After the tetrahedron, they headed to the "hacienda." They stopped on the way in a walled plaza that housed a monument. Mo went in, and as he passed in he felt a warm feeling. He came out but seemed okay, and didn't feel it again. He went in and found the central obelisk was covered with runes, as was the structure it was mounted in . . . runes that he could read! He found the beginning and saw it was a prophecy. So he immediately skipped to the end to see what happens.
Basically, you can release the demon-god and control it, and if not, everyone is doomed, and if that happens only the princess can save you and remove the curse. ("Not just another snake cult!" warned Mo, who warns that pretty often.)
The others eventually joined him with all but Hasdrubel feeling the warm glow. Annoyed that he couldn't read the runes, he went and studied some other writings. He could follow some of it - clearly normal city history kind of stuff. But one pillar was written in the Elder Tongue, and had lots of six-fingered hand symbols. He took some rubbings of the bits that seemed connected to doom.
They moved the the "hacienda." It was wrecked - difficult to enter, with a crushed main gate and sealed side gates, lots of nasty-looking plants on the inside, spiked wall tops, etc. and a dilapidated and old central building.
They decided to try to pry the gate apart anyway. That's when they found it was a Perfect Illusion. They couldn't remove it, but there was a real bronze gate. They tried many times to pry it apart, but even their best effort only budged it a little. Sending in the (newest) air elemental didn't accomplish anything, either.
As they wasted a lot of time trying to figure out a way in, and/or challenge "Rangel Grot" to come out and fight (or talk, obviously a ruse with this group), they attracted some attention. They spotted a flock of birds coming down together. As the birds got close (and the group moved towards the giant statue building for cover), two larger ones shrieked out a fearsome cry. Harpies! The cry was terrifying, and a couple of the party were stunned . . . and Hjalmarr blew his roll badly. He fainted dead away, falling sideways in a swoon with a hand to his forehead. A terrible case of the vapors!
Mo drew and quaffed a pint of jungle juice, making his roll to get it down and immediately he felt braver. Even so, he rolled terribly at the next cry and was shaken for a few seconds.
As the party scattered, a couple of the buzzards (dire vultures, actually) landed near Hjalmarr and grabbed some of his more prominent small items - his silvered small machete and one of his potions (turned out to be his oil of puissance. They flew off.
Gale sent Wheezy II up to attack the birds, and it engaged in a whirling (but largely hopeless) struggle against them. It was tough for them to kill but not to hit, and Wheezy II couldn't do any damage of note (1d-5 crushing is bad.)
Hasdrubel had enough and made a Lightning - and rolled a 4. He instantly created a 5d one for free. So he stopped, turned, and a second later blasted one of the harpies out of the air. Flying, moving targets at range aren't an easy shot, but he nailed it with a 7 and it failed to defend. He did 18 damage (on 5d-5, not bad!) and fried it badly and stunned it. It fell and smashed into the roof of the tower building.
At that point the rest scattered - they had enough of effective retaliation with that one-shot, two-second kill by Hasdrubel. They left. Mo climbed up the building where the harpy had crashed and found it, badly battered and probably dead. Even as Gerry was yelling, "Save it so I can zombie it!" Mo smashed it in the head with a 4. I declared a 4 vs. a prone, unconscious target to be max damage, and its head was smashed into a shower of gore.
While up on the building, Mo inspected the towers - they had narrow stained glass windows, and some high windows that might be tight but also had a frosted-looking glass or glass-like covering. No easy way to climb in or peer in.
They regrouped and had a quick confab. What to do? Gerry persuasively argued for going for more loot from the tetrahedron. But they needed more torches . . . and there was wood in the old armoury. They woke up Hjalmarr (we ruled a Druidic Esoteric Medicine kit includes a fan and smelling salts specifically for fright vapours.) They headed that way.
They spotted some vegepygmies and thornies moving down the street a couple hundred feet away. Hjalmarr use Tactics to position the PCs to ensure the vegepygmies saw them but only those they chose to expose. They moved on the PCs, thumping their chests rhythmically - summoning reinforcements? Probably.
As the pygmies advanced, Hasdrubel had a plan - he and Gale would both create large Windstorms and send them down to sweep the pygmies aside. Then they could follow up and finish them off.
They ended up just sending the storms down the street. The vegepygmies ran, but the storms pursued. They turned a corner but the casters bent their storms around it and blindly tried to steer them down. They heard lots of destructive noises but not much.
The PCs made it to the armoury and found it was badly looted, but they still rounded up enough spear shafts to make torches with the help of some flammable oil. They headed back to the tetrahedron.
This time they posted guards, and did some quick runs for treasure. But first, they wanted to clear the ceiling of slimes. Hasdrubel leaned in to look for them - and one dropped right onto his face. But he managed to just barely made his ridiculously hard Dodge and it missed! From then on, he kept blasting with Lightning spells to drive slimes off and keep them away from the guys below, who held their shields overhead.
Hjalmarr filled their last sack with coins, and Mo did two trips to gather random junk. They netted another 40 pounds of coins (and noted they hadn't even gotten halfway down in the chest) and lots of junk - but also two dried-out potions, one grenade-sized potion, a spooky half-man half-snake statue of soapstone ("Soap? Druids and Barbarians have to make Fright Checks!" - Gale) which scared Mo, a snaky necklace ("Ah, just another snake cult!") of some odd metal, and lots of junky bits.
Gerry's experimentation with Apportation and rocks determined the bottom isn't No Mana, but rather No Mana because mana is draining out of spells. It wasn't clear what the source was, but it's clearly something odd.
After this, the PCs headed back to the tree, back up and out (there were some gasp-inducing rolls).
They camped close to the city another night, and spent it scoping out Grot's hacienda, hoping to catch him coming out ("It's almost recycling day!") but they didn't see anything of note.
The trip back was basically uneventful - some nuisances (like rats disrupting their camp) and more disease problems, but nothing lethal.
They got back to town, divided up their loot, and otherwise got settled. They found no one wants the creepy statue or necklace, so they'll bring them back to civilization when they leave. They also found the potion was Weakness, and Gerry and Hasdrubel tried to reconstitute the dry potions. Amazingly, they managed with one (a Perception potion) and sort-of managed with another (a miss by one, getting a probably-okay Wisdom potion). They kept both - Gerry wants to find out the side effects of Wisdom when he quaffs it.
Long, good session. I probably missed some details, but I think I hit everything major.
Rumshackles only serves drinks in cut-off coconuts and hollowed-out pineapples. With little umbrellas made out of leaves and with straws.
(We also decided there is a town populated by vegepygmies and coconut monkeys, with a bar called "Vegshackles.")
What do you call a group of druids? I tried cache and clutch. Gerry's player suggested "A murder of druids." Gale had the final word - a circle. A drum circle of druids. That stuck. What's a flock of buzzards? A shitwagon of buzzards - so says Mo's player. Hard to argue with that, either.
No one really has a good Observation skill. I don't know if anyone has Search. Since they're used to unlimited time to find things in bright light, they generally get by with the default and time. In the tetrahedron, that wasn't really possible and it made it tough to turn up useful material.
Hjalmarr claimed he need a quirk of "Doesn't like to be below maximum HP." This lead to a lot of great quirk suggestions. "Hates failing death checks." "Hates missing defense rolls." "Dislikes failed resistance rolls." "Doesn't like being poisoned." "Dislikes damage." Heh.
We had the usual "the elemental will do X" thing, where an IQ 8, Per 8, Impulsive, 40-point elemental was used to scout, used to stand guard (they realized that was a terrible idea pretty quickly), etc.
The decision to go back to the "pyramid" was driven because it was 6 pm, and we wanted to wrap up by 8 at the latest. Gerry's player argued the strongest that if the towers were empty, it was a waste of time and not worth going. If they had interesting stuff in it, it might be a fight, and that meant no time to get treasure from the "pyramid." The "pyramid" won out with that excellent logic.
We now know that Hjalmarr has some post-adventure anxiety issues. Hasdrubel needs a week off to recover from Jungle Rot. Hjalmarr needs a week off to de-stress.
Great session - the group stayed focused and organized. The explored a good amount, found a significant spot (combined they netted a 1 xp), got 4 for sufficient loot, and got 1 for a "clean run" - none dead. Total 6, with MVP for Hjalmarr mostly because really funny stuff kept happening to him and Vic was more than a good sport about it. In fact, he ran with it and that made all the heaped-on misery so much more fun.
And before you ask, I hope to get those harpies in print sometime, so I won't post the stats . . .