Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Session 85, Felltower 58 - Rotating Statue Puzzle Solved

February 12th, 2017

Weather: Cold, windy, sleeting, snowing, and raining. Yes, all of them.

Currently Active:
Dryst, halfling wizard (435 points)
Hasdrubul Stormcaller, human wizard (296 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (304 points)
     Brother Ike, human initiate (148 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (326 points)
Vryce, human knight (493 points)

We started in town, as usual. The roll for Raggi revealed he was still on winter break, probably down at Rumshackles II, drinking out of a cup made out of the skull of a coconut monkey.

The group bought equipment, picked up some rumors, and otherwise got organized for a trip to Felltower. Hasdrubul met an old lady who'd found her son's old potions in the attic and bought them all - some were useful, some aged to uselessness, and one aged into poison. He kept them all.

Dryst magic'ed up some winter clothes for them because everyone is too cheap to spring for an actual coat and boots, and then headed up the mountain.

They got over the walls of the castle with Levitate and Walk on Air, finding no orc guards. From there they went down the main stairs. There was no "bridge" so they needed to ferry people across with, again, Levitate and Walk on Air. Once across they lifted the left portcullis, then hammered it open with a spike.

Getting the metal door past it open took a fair amount of time thanks to the difficulty getting a grasp on it - no handle, sits flush. They'd broken the locking mechanism so they eventually got in. They passed the pillboxes, passed the "gargoyle room" with no sign of gargoyles, and eventually headed to the metal-doored room with the headless statues. Still no orcs.

They tried to open the door but it took several tries. First off, because it locks itself, and second, because it's heavy and needs forcing. It took a couple tries but finally Vryce got it open with his crowbar . . . but there was a spark, and FWOOOOM. The door lit up in flames. Vryce was fine, though, thanks to his heavy armor, but his outer clothing got scorched and he needed to pat the flames down. (The PCs thought this was a very strange trap, which means I might not have explained it well. Also, they didn't really investigate until it was over, so some clues about it were gone.)

They went inside the room and put on the four-eyed, four-eared, bald statue head on the appropriate bust. The so-called Saints of Felltower spoke to them, and told them three more heads remain. They left the room, and heard it click locked behind them.

From there they headed to the level below. They reached one of the statue rooms. At Hjalmarr's insistence, they rotated the statue to face the false door in the room. Mo did this one, taking 1 HP of damage and 6 FP as well from "black fire."

From there, they tried the door towards the "orc hole" but it was barred. A Glass Wall spell showed them it was barred with a 4" x 4" bar and the hallways was strewn with caltrops, sharp rocks, boards with rusty nails in them, etc. They decided not to try to go that direction. Instead, they went via the "lizard man area." That involved squeezing through bent bars, squeezing a larger gap into a large portcullis they've never figured out how to open, and then opening the great doors to the temple. They moved into the temple and ran smack into three hunting slimes. The slimes rushed them to slam, overrun, and envelope. In a brief fight, Mo, Vryce, and Hjalmarr slashed up the slimes, although all three got smacked by the charging slimes. Has' electrocuted one of them as it came on, then the warriors sliced them up into immobile, dead slimes.

They moved on and forced open the moisture-stuck door near the spiral staircase, and went up the slick, age-smoothed stones. They passed through a room, reached a statue room, and had Vryce rotate the statue to face a blank door (he took only 1 HP and 1 FP, which Mo pointed out was clearly racist, as their hoods indicated.) Next, they crossed an old barricade (they climbed over), dug through a rubble-choked hall and reached another statue room. Again, they rotated the statue, this time Mo. He again took more FP than Vryce did (I kept rolling 1 HP of damage, though.)

Then they worked their way across more rubble, digging out a more recently re-blocked corridor, and into the final statue room. Vryce rotated the statue . . . and nothing happened.

So Hjalmarr strode over to the meteoric iron door, grasped its pull ring, and pulled hard (making a Forced Entry roll). Just as the dice hit the table he realized he was standing in a massive scorch mark - Mo's player said, "Too late, you rolled!" Heh. Nothing happened, except the door opened smoothly if slowly.

Beyond was a short hallway to a rectangular room with six chests in it. Four were iron strongboxes, one was a soapstone chest with no openings, and one was a wooden chest. The last two were slotted for carrying poles.

The PCs took the usual precautions - look at the room from outside, put on Mage Sight, sent a servant in to look around and jump up and down on the floor, etc. Eventually they decided there were no traps. They set Vryce to guard the statue room despite his utterly abysmal effective PER (he has a 10, plus a great helm that muffled hearing and restricts his arc of vision), and checked out the chests.

They used Glass Wall on the chests, noting the wood one was full of copper and silver coins, the soapstone one full of jewelry, two of the iron boxes half-full of silver coins, and two more impenetrable (so either meteoric iron or lead-lined, lead being opaque to magical vision in this game.)

They started to systematically loot. Mo dumped out the stuff from his backpack and put it . . . elsewhere (I can't remember) and put a chest in it. He tipped the chest, Dryst cast Lockmaster, they pried it open, and out dumped 10,000 sp, filling the bag to load capacity. Hjalmarr did the same, putting his stuff into a bag and handing the bag to Brother Ike, then filling his bag with silver. They'd later dump the empty chest in the treasure room.

At this point it became obvious that emptying containers of loot into other containers and having folks two-handed carry them was not as efficient as just carrying the original containers. So they set to work on that. Dryst created four brute (ST 16) servants and four 6' poles and had them pair up to take the two large chests.

At this point, the orcs showed up. They opened the door into the room (the "orc hole" is very close by) and charged in, two at a time. Vryce spotted them as they moved in and attacked. He made short work of them, shouting to try and intimidate them (it failed) and too alert the party (that worked.) The party ran back.

In a short, sharp fight, Vryce killed a few orcs, Mo pushed past him and tried to Cleaving Strike a couple in the hallway, and then the mages took over. Has' put up a Lightning Wall in the hallway. Mo smacked a stunned orc down. Then Dryst put up a Force Wall behind the Lightning Wall. The dragged in the orcs (Mo finished them off moments later), Magelocked the door, put up another Force Wall inside it, and then Mo piled the corpses in front of the door (minus a scimitar that they kept as loot).

Mo (I think) grabbed one of the iron strongboxes, and Vryce the other - each carrying one under an arm. They moved back the way they came. (This is amusing on the map, as the orcs occupy a short L-shaped corridor between where they were and where they wanted to go, and they made a huge detour to avoid them since fighting through wasn't the plan.)

It took a while and lots of jiggering around, but they made to the the spiral stairs - dragging chests over half-cleared rubble, handing 280 pound chests to each other, Mo carrying the two big chests down the stairs using Walk on Air to avoid slipping, etc.

Meanwhile the orcs organized.

The PCs had to force the portcullises they'd bypassed to allow big chests through. That took time and effort, even with two ST 20 guys. They finally reached the door to the first statue room - and found the orcs had barred it shut and manned the room with a dozen warriors (spotted thanks to Glass Wall).

The PCs set up, left the chests behind, cast Stench to drive the orcs back, Apportation to move the bar, and then kicked the door open and charged in. Has' dropped the Stench and the front-line fighters attacked. The orcs died pretty quickly, although Mo got chopped badly on the arm (and didn't go berserk), Vryce critically hit and hurt, and Hjalmarr actually hit with a thrown axe and didn't drop his weapon. He did lop off an orc's arm and cripple another. They finished the orcs and piled them up against the left door, Magelocked that, and moved to the stairs. They found first one, then another stone wall, both of which Has' had to dispel (it took three attempts in all). They went up the stairs, opened the door, and took arrows and bolts. They closed the door. Mo threw a pair of light stones down the hallway, taking arrows as they came. They didn't reveal any orcs. So they made Vryce Invisible and sent him down the hallway, sword away (since it glows) and without his looted chest (important later.)

Vryce felt his way down the hallway from light source to light source, looking for orcs. Nope. The group advanced down the hallway to a T-intersection and took fire - literally, fire - a Fireball hit Mo and arrows flew past him. He got burned (9 damage!), and threw an alchemist's fire for light and possible harm. It revealed some orcs who backed off. They PCs realized the orcs wouldn't come within a short move of the edges of their light sources, allowing harassing fire without worrying about counter-attack.

So the PCs worked their way to the way out . . . but then realized Vryce had never gotten his chest. No one else mentioned it at all, and everyone else was full (which is why he had it in the first place.)

So Vryce had to run back, invisibly, but holding the Sword of Valmarr to see by - a big glowing sphere of nothing coming down the hall. Orcs shot at him (Missile Shield stopped that) and he reached the end of the hallway - and found six orcs with the chest. He cut down five before one fell back, and more heavily armored, larger, well-armed orcs piled up the stairs. He scooped up the chest and ran. The orcs kept pace all the way down the 100 yards of corridor, but Vryce jumped through the door at the end, the PCs slammed it, and Dryst Magelocked it, then IIRC he put up a Force Wall to seal it.

They fled to the main entrance. There, they tried to quickly un-spike the portcullis, but could not, even with Mo smiting it. It's hard to break a heavy iron spike halfway into a narrow slot. They started to ferry people across the pit as the orcs opened the arrow slit shutters and shot arrows. Hjalmarr blocked for the servants, who would cost a lot to re-create. Has' put a Stench spell in each pillbox, driving the orcs back.

They made it to the surface, and then over the wall (with magic, once again cursing their lack of foresight in breaking the gate in the down position), and headed slowly back to town.

They got back late (slow drag, icy path, snow, cold, fatigue, etc.) but with a lot of loot.

But most of the loot was still in a few boxes. They basically put every detection and buff spell you can think of on Dryst, except See Secrets and had him open the locked boxes and shape open the soapstone chest, pulling out a lot of loot. But the lead-lined iron boxes stopped him. What to do?

The group wanted to have Naida River open the chests, but Naida's player didn't show, so no - PCs are not standing resources for each other waiting back in town. They wanted to hire an NPC thief or locksmith, and I said they could spend some time finding one, and the expert would demand a fee and/or a share, whichever was higher.

Instead they wanted to spend 1000 on the best lockpicks possible, meteoric if possible ("meteoric iron lockpicks" has become "lockpicks that don't set off magical traps" in gamespeak). Dryst made a default Streetwise roll and found some +1 lockpicks. Then they put a max-strength Grace spell on Vryce and had him try. It took a few tries and Luck rolls to get both open, and even downtime getting a Power Item recharged - this was a multi-day process, which all of the PCs armed and ready for action when attempts were made.

Once they got them all open, they found one was compartmentalized like a minis case and full of 200 gems and a magical gem, and the other padded and holding 2000 gold coins (yes, 8 pounds of gold)

They got to identifying magical items and counting loot. They got something like ~140,000 silver worth of bronze, silver, and gold jewelry, cash (including 40,000 cp, 30,000 silver, 2,000 gold), 200 gems worth around 200 each, a Gem of True Healing, and Iron Ring of Endurance, a Ring of Protection, a Necklace of Fireballs, and a gold ring set with three diamonds - a Minor Ring of Wishing. (details on that tomorrow)

The take was north of 20,000k each, including selling a sword, the empty chests, and some other miscellaneous stuff.

See Secrets turned out to be a critical forget. Or maybe not - as thorough as people were, they weren't thorough in searching the chests. So overwhelmed by the money they found, no one noticed the discrepancy of having, say, a 25 pound full chest, taking out 8 pounds of coins, and having a normally 15 pound strongbox that weighed 2 pounds thanks to a thin lead lining and some padding. The next owner, though, pulled out the padding and found a hidden bottom packed to immobility with 100 gold sovereigns (10,000 sp). The spell wouldn't have found it, but if the padding was pulled aside it would have needed a good Per roll to spot and See Secrets would have spotted it. No one was really sad because they made so much . . . good for them that I didn't stick the magic rings in that box's secret bottom.


It's rare for Raggi to miss easy loot. Just saying - kill some orcs, get loaded? Kill some dragon, get loaded? Kill some lizard men get loaded? That's when Raggi shows up. Vacation must be sweet.

Line of the night for me? Paraphrasing - "What's the sale value of the wishing ring?" Hjalmarr: "NO, we don't even want to know."

This was a rare session where I actually voted on MVP. I didn't want it to be forgotten, and I said, "MVP has to be Hjalmarr for insisting on trying the statue puzzle." Which is true. He suggested it, and the response was something like, "We thought about that and decided it wouldn't work." He insisted they try. That made all of the difference. Once before the PCs almost solved this puzzle, but failed because they didn't get to all of the statues. In any case, my vote didn't count, but it was unanimous. Who says the guy who set the plan and insisted on seeing it through doesn't deserve MVP when that turns out to be the mother lode?

Lockpicking by Vryce was funny. Just goes to show what good rolls, Luck, and maximized buff spells can do. Even so, he failed a couple of times.

I'm not sure why, but my players got the impression that Power Investiture comes with Detect Unholy or Detect Evil. No, it doesn't. You can sense Sanctity level changes, but there is no "Magic detection, but for holy or evil." That's a feature of items (strong holy aura, can be sensed) not of Power Investiture. This came up 2-3 times on Sunday.

Yes, Has', I checked, it was The Inn of the One Good Wheel. I'd forgotten.

Good session, lots of fun, and lots of loot. A major puzzle was solved, progress made two other multi-delve problem, all with excellent rewards. It would have had more impact earlier, of course, but now the group is flush with money. Given the flurry of "here is how I spend most of it ordering special-order custom magic items" I expect they'll be back to broke in no time, but with (eventually) better loadouts.

You can once again see the benefits of a megadungeon - lots of work to make one, but that treasure room I wrote up like 5 years ago finally came into play now. You can also see the importance of fresh eyes - someone who didn't see this as an unsolvable puzzle unrelated to the iron door. Good stuff.


  1. This was a fun session and only seemed "easy" because the delvers had cleared this area so many times and we had a wizard with a 6FP energy reserve to restore the fatigue drained from moving the statues. It would have been worse if the statues moved back quickly (we had to negotiate over several barricades to reach all 4) or if we pointed at the wrong door the first time, etc.
    It helped that we had two ST20 meat heads who can carry 480lbs, bend bars, brute servant litter-bearers, and 3 fighters who can slaughter light orc patrols at one or two per round. Without Mo carrying the chests with Lighten Burden AND Walk on Air down the steps, Vryce carrying them across the pit...
    Another "challenging puzzle for 250-300pt characters that got left alone until we were 325-500 points"

    1. Yes, you needed what you had. But when first discovered, there were fewer orcs with less animosity to the PCs, less blockages, no need for a detour, a scout and several strong fighters, etc. So the difficulties created from play would not have needed to be overcome.

  2. So the solution to the statue puzzle was to find them all, turn them to face... doors?
    Did they all have to be turned to face the door with the scorch mark?
    Turned to face the next statue in a row?

    It is great to see a puzzle solved after such a long time. Especially when in most cases it will be long forgotten by then.

    1. Each room had two real doors, an exit without a door, and a false door. Ultimately, each of the statues had to be pointing to the false door in the room, and that unlocked the meteoric iron door in the last room.

  3. I'm guessing there also exists an amulet, glove, etc that protects you from the cosmic damage the statues inflict. Could be the "lightning gloves" we find on the six-fingered cultists, or something else. Matters not, now...

  4. How did XP garnering go this session? Enough loot even for Vryce? And how well did newly shuffled disads work out?

    1. It was sufficient for all to get 4, plus 1 for a new area. The new disads were fine; they reflect as-played better than before and that was improvement enough.

  5. That sounds like a really awesome adventure. Treasure chests!

  6. I know its poor tactics (get out with the loot!), but I wonder if the PCs should have engaged the Orcs more. They must be whittling down their numbers

    1. I thought that was really good play. Good tactics. The goal is "get the treasure" not "kill annoying orcs", as proven by the high emphasis in experience awards on getting enough treasure and NO experience for killing things.


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