Weather: Very hot and humid
Alaric, human scout (293 points)
Dryst, halfling wizard (450 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (389 points)
Gwynneth, high elf wizard (262 points)
Hjalmarr Holgerson, human knight (370 points)
Brother Ike, human initiate (160 points)
Mo (his momma call him Kle), human barbarian (394 points)
Vryce, human knight (509 points)
We started off outside the hydra's cave. (The PCs at this point decided they should dip weapons into the toxic blood of the hydra. I ruled it was too late - last session they'd specifically done healing, washed off the blood, moved to the cave and gathered and sorted treasure, etc. The blood wasn't remotely fresh any longer.) They hiked away from the stinking cave and found a nice place to camp with clear lines of sight and a comfortable overhang, and rested for the evening.
The next morning they debated following the coast to hopefully find "a boat" to take them to the Forge of Eternity across the Sea of Chains. They ended up choosing to go straight to the Cave of Serpents to avoid the temptation to go straight to the island.
They hiked across the land, seeing horse and/or centaurs (hard to tell at a distance) and some distant houses. They could find no one to speak with that was on their convenient path forward.
They eventually came to a land with stunted olive trees bearing withered and wrinkly fruit, wild but fruitless grape vines, and twisted grass. In it were the broken remnants of Doric columns. They sent a Wizard Eye to scout. It found a ramp down into a column-lined hall with a fire at the end before it was destroyed with an arrow. ("Wheelchair accessible - they are far in advance of our culture!") They saw little else with the eye before it was destroyed with an arrow.
They formed up, put on some Missile Shield and Resist Poison spells and headed to the location and down the ramp. They used Create Object to make a mirror for Gwynneth to hold.
As they reached the bottom of the ramp they found skeletons and drying corpses, and saw a large amount of treasure strewn around the fire. The spread out slightly at the bottom.
At first, nothing came, but they heard the distinct rattle of a large rattlesnake. That was quickly followed by a rush of a half-dozen swarms of snakes, and four bit rattlers! As the rattlers came forward, the scouts loosed arrows at them and wounded a pair. As they advanced, the source of the loudest rattle revealed itself - a snake-bodied medusa with a composite bow!
She drew an "arrow" from her quiver and fired - it was a snake. The PCs had picked up the cues and were looking at the ground, which made spotting and defending against arrows difficult. Hjalmarr ate the first one in the vitals, takes 21 injury and only his Resist Poison stopped the venomous snake from doing more. He cut the snake's body off as it went limp in his chest, leaving the head in. He stopped another arrow, but quickly took a second. The scouts finished off a couple of the rattlers but found the medusa were under Missile Shield!
The spellcasters had started casting Explosive spells; but they were cut off when a medusa (which had been moving up under Invisibility) stepped out and threw a 6d Explosive Lightning spell at Hjalmarr. He failed to defend and it exploded. On the bright side, it seared some of the snake swarms to death, but it stunned Hjalmarr, stunned Dryst (who dropped his own Explosive Fireball and scorched everyone), wounded Gwenneth. The cascade hurt the PCs badly and wiped out their ability to quickly hurt multiple foes at once.
Gwynneth threw her own Explosive Fireball but clipped Dryst - luckily it was only 1d, and her played rolled a 1 for damage, harming no one.
Vryce hacked up a serpent, and then started in on the swarms. Mo hid behind a pillar waiting for a medusa or big snake to come by, ignoring the snake swarms that bit him in the feet and ankles and poisoned even his poison-resistant frame. But then one of the medusae called to Galen with Command - "Look here!" He failed to resist, and looked. Crackle - he turned to stone.
She turned on Mo. Mo failed next, a second later. The medusa repeated the trick with Gwenneth and Dryst but failed to overcome their resistance. The other medusa turned invisible as the snake-bodied one moved around slowly, shooting at each PC in turn, probing who wasn't immune to missile fire. Lucky for them, Ike was well in back and more dangerous targets were everywhere.
Gwynneth tried a few Explosive Fireball spells but mostly just missed, thanks to trying to avoid looking at faces and yet see past allied combatants.
Dryst became unstunned at this point, and threw an Explosive Stone Missile at the Command-casting medusa. She was injured as she dove prone to get out of the blast.
Alaric did himself in - he shot the fallen medusa, trying to crit and bypass her Missile Shield to no avail. She rolled over and looked in his direction. Since he was just looking at her as he fired he turned to stone.
With half of the group petrified, Vryce decided to take a risk and ran forward. As soon as he did, Dryst called to him and said to come back, he needed to Great Haste him. Sigh.
Vryce charged the medusa and ended up chasing her around. She moved away, dodged his blows, and kept shooting at other targets after missing him thanks to his Missile Shield.
Hjalmarr took another arrow sometime around here. He soon fell unconscious. Brother Ike desperately cast Awaken and got him up, and Hjalmarr barely held on to consciousness as he scrambled for a potion and drank it. He got up, eventually, with Shieldslayer in hand and readied his shield.
Vryce came close enough to Dryst and was Great Hasted, and the snake-bodied medusa shot Dryst but he blocked with his shield. Brother Ike cast Stone to Flesh on Galen, but failed by one! (He could have stepped sideways and gotten closer, but only realized that after he cast. I don't allow retroactive actions, so . . . )
Meanwhile the lightning-casting medusa had turned Invisible and re-appeared with a full-powered Lightning spell into Vryce's back - but Vryce had earlier paused to crush a Resist Lightning spellstone and was unharmed! He moved in on her kept his eyes on her feet and swung for her legs, chopping both off in a single blow. He hit her again blindly and cut off one of her hands. Gwynneth missed with another Explosive Fireball but clipped the fallen medusa and set her on fire (which damaged her jeweled necklace, and destroyed the value of her head.)
Vryce managed to cut up the snake-bodied medusa badly with a sword cut, but they continued their running (snaking) battle. The medusa who had been wounded and petrified Alaric was killed around this point by another spell from Dryst (I can't recall what).
Dryst took a critical hit from the snake-bodied medusa, and one of her snake arrows slammed into Dryst's vitals and knocked him out cold (he missed his stunning roll by around 9.) He was hovering knocked out in the air thanks to Levitate.
In a few more moments Vryce managed to close in on the snake-bodied medusa and cut her down. She fell.
The finished off the snake-swarms. They cast Flesh to Stone on Galen, who promptly got to work sawing the heads off of the two intact-ish medusa. The others healed up and gathered loot.
They found a lot of treasure - 22,000 sp and 74 uncut gems and 13 pieces of gold jewelry - plus the enchanted bow of the medusa. Alaric tried the snake arrows with his own bow and hers and found they stiffened into arrows. He didn't fire any, though.
They also found two side chambers - one for the two medusa, one for the snake-bodied one - lined with statues of past victims. They didn't see any that looked especially heroic, or rich, so they didn't revive any of them.
Once they fully recovered, they put the heads in sacks (which Galen carried, being a veteran medusa-head wielder.)
They made their way to the coast, noting thick storm clouds over Mt. Oympus. Uh-oh, better keep moving.
They reached the shore and found only tall cliffs - 90-120' or so to 150' or more in places. They moved along and eventually saw an isolated beach. On it was beached a trireme with a ram, its prow painted with a stylized eye on either side. They used Walk on Air, Flight, and Levitate to get everyone down.
Mo and Galen argued about the boat. Mo contended that it had no sail, they'd need to figure out a way to row it, it's too this, it's too that, no one has any skill. Galen stated that it's a supernatural trireme, and all they need to do is get on and it'll sail for them. They climbed on. The boat shipped its own oars with a ghostly glow and backed the vessel out into the water.
"See?" said Galen.
Mo was properly chastened.
The ship created a sail with a stylized U-like shape on it and took them to the sound side of the isle of the Forge of Eternity. It sailed smoothly and easily.
Once they arrived on the island, they climbed off and headed toward the central of the three volcanos on the island. Tracks showed only sheep - big ones - had been wandering around.
They hiked to the base of the volcano and found a gigantic fissure - many yards high and wide. They hiked in, and dealt with the heat and vog (volcanic fog). Ike and Gwynneth were overcome by fumes and felt dizzy; soon enough Gwynneth needed to be carried by Mo. They heard a rhythmic ringing inside, and saw a distant orange glow.
They reached the source of both - a vein of lava with a forge next to it, being worked by a gigantic cyclops. A glimpse of sky above told them the vent was directly overhead. The cyclops was working on an enormous spearhead, and ignored them at first. Hjalmarr tried to speak to the cyclops, in his usual polite fashion.
The cyclops spoke in a deep voice and asked why they came, and which god or titan they served. Hjalmarr said they were travelers, and were essentially neutral. The cyclops said, "So then you are cowards." He went back to work. Mo weighed in, and said they sought him out with a gift, as he needed a special weapon forged.
Mo did much better, asking for something to fight The Lord of Spite (whose nickname they won't even use, for fear it'll invoke him). After some discussion, the cyclops told them to leave the fleece - which Mo offered as a trade - on his table and return in the morning. He warned them not to molest his sheep, but they could stay on he island.
They did this, ignoring the delicious, fattened sheep that wandered around their camp, past them, rolled in mint while at play, etc.
In the morning they returned, dealt with the vog again, and retrieved the weapon they heard being forged all night. It was a SM+1 fine dwarven orichalcum all-metal morningstar. It wasn't enchanted, which Mo had requested, as the cyclops said his enchantments would not travel to all worlds. Mo asked for his name, to tell all who forged his weapon. The cyclops said, "I need no fame." They took their leave with thanks.
They climbed back on the trireme and it returned them to the mainland, again with a perfect wind behind them.
From there, they hiked to the Fissure of the Underworld. It was easily found - a big slope down into a maw into the earth. It narrowed as they walked in. It was silent except for water dripping in an inexplicably ominous way. After a time, they heard a set of growls.
They saw Cerberus, the legendary three-headed dog. Galen advanced toward it, going "Nice doggie." As it growled and looked at him, he pulled out bigger of the two medusa heads. A crackling heralded Cerberus turning to stone!
They decided to hurry, as they weren't sure the petrification was permanent on such a being.
Beyond the triple-headed dog was a river. Mo held out a pair of coins, expecting a boatman to come. Nothing happened. Hjalmarr called for one.
As they waited, Mo decided to dip his hand in the river (hey, maybe it would make him invulnerable!) It was terrifically cold, and sent a chill through his body and made him feel light and less substantial. He suddenly realized he wasn't hand-deep in it, but had waded to knee-depth and was sticking his arm all the way in. He stumbled back, and Hjalmarr dragged him out.
Meanwhile the boatman came, a blank-eyed man with a beard, cape, and a brown skirt-like wrap.
He asked for payment, and Mo coughed up a gold passage coin he'd been carrying around for a while.
The ferryman asked where they wished to go.
"The underworld!" said Alaric.
"Yes, the underworld," said Hjalmarr.
The ferryman asked the others. "Home," they all said in turn.
The ferryman waved Alaric and Hjalmarr on board, and said he would return for the others.
Alaric and Hjalmarr changed their minds. The ferryman wasn't very happy with the change, but eventually was persuaded to take them all, "Home." The ferryman took them down the river, which seemed to take a long time but no time seemed to pass. They came to an open marsh of greyish reeds, with rivers spilling from between rocks (possibly from caves) into the marsh. The ferryman turned them right, and headed to the river to their immediate right. Mo asked where the other led, but the ferryman would not tell.
They looked into the water and saw tendrils of black plant roots entwining dead beings of many familiar races. They didn't ask and the ferryman didn't tell. He took them into a cave mouth and up the river and brought them to a beach. He pointed and told them home was away from the river.
When they beached, Alaric asked, "How does he know where our home is?" Someone pointed out that this was a good question, but too late.
They climbed out, and headed away. Eventually they saw a shimmering ahead. Dryst cast Scry Gate and saw Felltower beyond. They climbed through.
They basically made their way up the way they came, dealing with a lot of close air that lacked vitality. They aren't sure why this is becoming a standard feature of this level.
They climbed up and out of the dungeon, and walked out of the gate. They made their way back to town and found it was 9/3/2018, and they'd left for the dungeon on 8/6 and spent what felt like only a couple of days in Olympia.
Mo got right to work on his new morningstar, dropping it off with an enchanter for enchantment. He found it was easy to enchant with Puissance - half energy for that enchantment, and therefore half cost! He plunked down $10K on the spot to get it to Puissance +2 . . . that will take until 12/24/18 to complete . . .
Overall, a very nice haul for the PCs. They gave the bow from the medusa to Alaric, along with the nine snake-arrows. Mo had a morningstar made for him. Vryce had his nameless longsword from Valmar and Hjalmarr Shieldslayer dipped in the blood of the two alpha Colchis bulls and made both fire-proofed and corrosion-proofed. They also took home a lot of cash - enough that weight of silver was a problem.
The medusa fight was a lot of fun. Gwynneth carried the Create Object mirror around most of the fight and didn't use it. They had some vague plans for her to hold it, point it at the medusa, and someone else who use it for targeted. Luckily they didn't try, because I can't even imagine how you coordinate that in a fluid battle with one-second overlapping turns against mobile foes! Especially since the would-be targeters are mostly Per 10-12 knights and barbarians.
Although I didn't really intend things to be this way, the players went about dealing with Olympia in a very explicitly video-game fashion. Talk to the seer. Take the first challenge. Figure out which challenge probably unlocks things you need for the next challenge. Go to that. Keep going until you've cleared the game. It worked, but like I said, it wasn't intentional. There were multiple ways to deal with some or all of the challenges presented.
That was a close call on the ferryman. Alaric and Hjalmarr were pretty clear about wanting to go to the Underworld. It's only everyone else refusing that changed their path, and their refusal to go along with their initial request. Be careful what you ask for, eh?
Is that it for Olympia? Not necessarily. Chronos is still out there. There are many more monsters and events from Greek myth and my own version of it - and from movies we loved - that adventures there could be expanded greatly. I expect a lot of "and we'll bring that to the cyclops in Olympia and get him to make a weapon for you!" discussions from now to the end of the campaign. Will that work? Perhaps. The only payment they tried was a wholly unique item thematically linked to the world they were in. If something from another world, or something more mundane will do as a gift - that's unknown at this point.
Someone asked, and since it doesn't matter I'll reveal it - the estimated value I had for the fleece was between $30K and $50K, depending on how it was dealt with in town. Trading that off with what Mo got was probably a good idea.
MVP for session 1 was Dryst; for session 2 it was Vryce.
XP for the two sessions was 7 xp for Vryce (3 and 4), 9 for Dryst (4 and 5), and 10 for everyone else (5 and 5). A couple of players were a bit disappointed they didn't get a +1 for going through a gate, but I pointed out that was intended for the first gate, not every gate the first time.