Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Savage Tide Session 42

The rest of the party held off, as Mendel stepped forward brandishing the sun blade above his head, bathing the room in light and warning the vampire to retreat. The rest of the party stalled as the light from the blade grew. The creature spoke something, but Dacien's tongues spell had worn off and he couldn't translate. Instead, an answer came from a disembodied voice that echoed around the chamber. The vampire then backed off around the corner and out of sight. The two phanaton broke out a vial of stonebreaker acid and between them started dissolving the putty around the large red faceted window to flood the room with the light from the setting sun. Zhedd scrambled along the ceiling to do likewise with a stoneshape spell.

Back in the corridor, sitting in the silence area, Antony noticed a movement in the corner of his eye and spotted one of the large dog-like machines from the room to the north stalking along the corridor. Dacien reacted quickly and put a wall of ice in place to slow it down. Faldak, reluctant having been warned by Dacien that the creatures will take pleasure in ripping through his armour and weapons, took up a guarding position in the corridors as the other made their way into the main room, with the dire wolves from Zhedd’s summons squeezing behind the dwarf to offer support. The wall only delayed the creature for a couple of rounds as it tore through the ice and made short work of the wolves too.

Gerald conjured a blade barrier back in the control room, knowing that there were two of the dog-like creatures, to avoid being flanked. Mendel dashed after the vampire and found him in a small chamber in the centre of the control room, dominated by a large white ‘throne’. The vampire was stood at the back of the room, near some vents in the wall, from which came the sound of chittering and squeaking. Mendel’s blade dug deep into the vampire, and it fled as a gas through the ventilation shafts. Mendel then found himself flooded by hungry rats that poured out of the vents to carpet the room and the archer. The window now free of its frame, Gerald and Lenny began creating water to conjure jets to wash the swarms of rats into the blade barrier and clear the room. Dacien took more time to examine the throne – with comprehend languages he was able to decipher the writing in the room too. The throne had a red dial on the left arm with the words RECORD, REWRITE and REPLAY etched around it. The dial currently pointed at REWRITE. Inserted into the right arm was a rectangular object that had flashing lights within, and written on the edge of this was a name “Stephen ‘The Rock’ Rocklin”; similar cassettes lined the wall with other names (one of them was ‘Mendel’), but also ‘Temple Indoctrination 1’ and ‘Temple Indoctrination 2’. Dacien sat in the chair, moved the dial to ‘REPLAY’ and his mind was flooded with images from the life of Stephen Rocklin. This started with a ceremony in front of a large crowd and a large metal ship of some kind; a flight through space; a banner depicting the leaping frog they had seen outside, but with the writing now legible reading ‘Terraforming Horticultural Expeditionary Force: Rigel Outer Galaxy’; the metal ship taking damage and crashing in a barren rocky  mountainous area; an argument with another officer on the ship; Stephen leading an escape attempt with some other green-tinted skin folk in a smaller ship, which was shot down; Stephen meeting some native elves and humans, and showing them the frog symbol; the building of the frog-shaped temple; Holding some of the humans and elves down in the throne and pressing ‘rewrite’; seemingly years later, one of the strange golems the party met outside attacking the temple building and damaging the large white tank the party had seen earlier; the golem being slain and tied to the altar and its brain removed; the people fleeing the temple as Stephen tried to repair the tank (bent over the terminal that the party had found recently damaged); Stephen researching in books from the locals a creature that had a certain longevity and resistance that might allow him to remain and maintain the building despite the dangers; and finally, Stephen mulling over a decision. The onrush of the mental images dazed Dacien and left him confused for a moment. Fortunately he recovered his senses to aid Faldak in fighting the mechanical dog, and ended the combat quickly with a disintegrate spell. The second mechanoid has slink down a side corridor to the levels below. Feeling battered from the series of encounters, the party teleported back to Sasserine to rest.

Dacien spent the night pouring over the diary they had recovered, which mirrored the story he had seen upon the throne – that Stephen Rocklin was part of a horticultural terraforming crew looking for new planets to explore, their ship The New City was struck by a missile whilst scanning Mystara, and crashed; the prime directive of his training did not allow for engagement and interference with native creatures, but Stephen felt, in the absence of any hope of rescue in the short term, interaction with the locals was necessary. This led to a rift with his commanding officer, and Stephen led a mutiny to escape in a life boat. That was shot down by the main ship, and crashed in this swamp, where, using the frog imagery from their vessel, they convinced the locals they were agents of the Frog God. The explorers then used the brainwashing powers of their memory recording technology to indoctrinate the locals into working with them, and with the terraforming engine, building a community that would allow them to interbreed and survive. Things went well for some time, until a cyborg sent by the corps security force tried to destroy all evidence of their presence here. This damaged the reactor power source, making the area dangerous for his  colleagues. Stephen commanded them to leave and build a new life in the surrounding areas, whilst he remained and tried to repair the damage and keep the terraforming engines running. The locals had spoken of a creature that had very hard to kill and could grant this power to others, so Stephen set off to investigate. His last entry was simply ‘what have I done?’

The next day, several of the party woke up to find much of their hair left on the pillows, and a general feeling of lethargy. This struck Lenny the worst, who found his skin highly sensitive and fragile. Something about being in the area of the temple had a prolonged effect on her. Dacien decided to visit the Witchwardens to enquire about possible solutions to Lenny’s problem. He also mentioned that they had met a powerful undead who might need some guidance. Dark Priestess Annah Teranaki welcomed the visit and information from Dacien. She alluded to some interference from the ’fool’ immortal Ixion during the last war (~4 years ago) which had altered something Annah described as the Radiance to drain entropy instead of energy/magic from the plane. This was having damaging effects on the undead that the Witchwardens were trying to help – and the vampire in control of the Radiance energy here was a prime example of the short sighted effects of Ixion’s interference. Draining of entropy was weakening undead, and causing any hungers that they might keep in check to come to the fore and be much stronger. Annah did not know much about the Radiance itself, but alluded to more happening in Glantri, and claimed to be researching more now it was directly impacting them – but that its powers could transcend magical effects, and cause damage that might be resistant to normal magical healing. Dacien requested something for Stephen to help control his hunger, and Annah gave some bloodroot. Zhedd had heard that this could sate a creature’s hunger for blood temporarily, but also that in a distilled form it could enhance it and drive vampires into a raging bloodlust.

The party gathered, had a fleeting moral crisis, and teleported to the Temple to try and peacefully deal with Stephen. However, he was waiting for them and hit Faldak with the heat beam weapons the party encountered before on the golems. Antony swiftly tried to call a truce and managed to convince Stephen to hold off attacking further whilst Dacien telekinsed the bloodroot towards him as a peace offering. Antony’s words worked and gave the party time to explain that they were in fact here to help. Stephen confirmed the background, but added that there had been some pale elves here that had wanted to investigate the technology inside the temple themselves – likely the shadow elves that the party had heard of in league with Bargle. They had damaged the terminal in the main reactor room, which meant the power levels were running lower and that explained why the terraforming engine could not sustain the structures within Emerond. Their tampering had also alerted the security cyborgs to the existence of the temple here, and they had arrived recently to try and remove all trace of the technology from the area. Stephen could not face them alone, but the party offered to take them out instead.

(EDIT: Lenny also asked about having the damage from the radiation cured; Stephen knew of no sure way to do this, but did mention a 'game console' on the lower level that could help albeit with a risk)

Stephen called out to ‘Weewak’ and the same disembodied voice from yesterday answered. Stephen asked for a report on intruders, and pinpointed the location of the 3 cyborgs in the temple, as well as drawing a holographic map for the party. As the cyborgs were mainly on the lower levels, they then prepared t o assault the temple nave through the gap in the ceiling they had seen previously. The party spotted several of the black cylinders with glowing red gems they had also seen outside onthe walls, scatted around the supporting pillars of the temple. The cyborgs were slow to react, but again responded with their lasers when threatened. Faldak was identified as a novel species, so a preservation protocol was engaged and they trapped Faldak in an immovable force field. Antony tried to exploit this tactic but using his hat of disguise to appear as unusual as possible. Zhedd spotted a giant toad on the levels above coming to investigate the commotion, and conjured  a wall of teeth to catch the cyborgs. One was dispatched b y Dacien’s magic, and the one o nthe lower level fell to Mendel’s arrows. Before it died, it ejected a glowing green rod, which detonated in a crackling purple sphere. However, this explosion caught the other black cylinders in its blast, which set off a chain reaction of explosions, removing much of the floor and all supporting pillars from the temple. An ominous groaning sounded from overhead...

Images of the layout, and the effect of the explosions below

Friday, November 21, 2014

Savage Tide Session 41

The trees of the mangrove swamp began to form a 'V' ahead of the party, blocking their path forward and herding them back towards the perimeter wall. Duckweed and roots began to spout up between the trees making passage even more difficult. An ancient gnarled treant (known as a Gakarak) emerged from a nearby tree and demanded the 'sticking meatsacks' left its home, not wanting 'more intruders like the others'. The party paddled/few back a ways and discussed how to get around the blockade; they decided retreat wasn't an option and so planned a way to deal with the treants. When it reappeared nearby, there was a flurry of fireballs and flame strikes that drove it into a retreat and allowed the party to press on.

A few hours later, the party came to an island in the midst of the swamp. In the midst of the overgrown island sat a jade green building in the shape of a large frog, with two multi-faceted red eyes and an open mouth. Two stone walls enclosed an overgrown garden that led up to a gatehouse and courtyard around the base of the building. At the entrance to the garden, were two wooden jetties leading out to the swamp, with the bones of eels and crocodiles scattered in the water underneath. Beyond this, there were signed a other small jetties and buildings, a small settlement long since swallowed by the thick jungle.

Mendel and Faldak lead the party out onto the quays, which strangely quivered as they landed, and held them fast. Two mimics that were pretending to be the jetties, came to life and tried to grapple the warriors. With some frantic chopping and further magical fire, the two ooze-like impressionists were defeated, but the noise of the battle had drawn the attention of the gakarak which emerged from the trees and called upon more treants to join him. Gerald conjured a blade barrier to deal with animated trees, as Dacien blocked with retreat with a wall of force and Zhedd's summoned fire elementals hemmed them in. Mendel tried to attack the gakarak with his alchemical arrows, and Faldak used his potion of invisibility to catch it by surprise. The dwarven woodchipper launched into action, and in moments, all that was left was a cloud of splinters.

Antony scouted ahead through the enclosed garden, and spotted two humanoid figures atop the strange stone walls, moving in a strangely unnatural motion, and periodically bending down to examine the top of the wall. They hadn't seemed to spot him, so he pressed on. A drawbridge led from the garden into the main courtyard around the frog-shaped building. In the gateway, a red dome shaped object was on the inner wall, surrounded by a yellow and black striped panel. Antony snuck forward, and saw a set of large double doors between the frog's legs,with the a circular symbol above the doors depicting a frog in a helmet jumping on a starry background. Strange writing in an alphabet no-one recognised circled the emblem. The doors were ajar, and it was dark beyond. Somewhere in the dark a light was flickering, and an animal grunting could be heard.

Antony beckoned the party forward, and the noise alerted the humanoids on the walls. A burst of flame erupted from their back, and they leapt into the air to land in the courtyard ahead of the party. They spoke a strange language, but Dacien's tongues let him translate their odd way of speaking. He caught phrases such as "Target acquired", "New species identified, engaging containment protocol". The figures looked like humans, but with strange metal plates embedded in their skin, and an unnatural look about them. They lit up Faldak with a red light, and a tube appeared on one's shoulder. Mendel fired an arrow at that creature, and the response was "Attack protocol engaged, prioritising targets". A force field erupted around Faldak and tried to encage him, but he escaped. The other creature drew a strange dark rectangular weapon and fired it at Mendel, searing him with arcs of burning light. The attacks nearly brought Mendel to his knees, before Dacien warded him against fire damage. Faldak almost destroyed one of the creatures, but heard it call out "Critical damage - ejecting core!", and it exploded around him. The other was defeated but did not exploded. One the bodies, the party found various unusual objects. Mendel managed to get the weapon to fire after some experimentation, but put it away for now.

A buzzing noise above their heads drew the party's attention upwards. In the mouth of the frog, was a swarm of strange small winged lizards, buzzing about a trough of rotting meat which sat before a set of doors. Magical explosions and ice took care of the lizards, allowing the party to explore the doors. One was full of mangled bits of metal, which appeared to form a set of shelving, and hid a metal box which held bandages and alchemical type items. The other doors led deeper into the building. There the party found strange doors that were either jammed or flung open at their approach, and beyond were abandoned, well-appointed washrooms and bedrooms. Most of the rooms looks as though the portable contents had been removed in a hurry, although Dacien did find a book that Antony thought might be a diary - again, written in this new script. A further room held a series of metal cabinets, which made whirring noises and flashed their gem-like lights upon the party's approach. This had a strange effect on Antony and Faldak, who attacked the party until Dacien and Zhedd could ward them with a protection from evil. Mendel attached the largest cabinet in the room, and was struck by a bolt of electricity that somehow ran around him and flew into a door opposite revealing another room beyond. Concerned about the powers of the strange metal cabinets, Dacien used telekinesis to block the doorway with large wardrobes, which allowed the party to explore the other rooms beyond. Antony snuck ahead into a large room with a balcony filled with pews that looked down on a frog shaped altar - bound on top of the altar was the body of a humanoid figure, held down with ropes. Another room held a large white metal silo, covered in dents and with a yellow and black triangle painted on its side. Another metal cabinet was in this room, but smashed, and Mendel spotted traces of blood spattered around its base. White robes with blue brooches were hung on the walls - a white pattern on the brooches turned black on entering the room.

The party found some stairs leading up and there came across a large room with a hexagonal vat hidden under tarpaulin, guarded by two metal dog-like creatures that Dacien thought similar to extraplanar sentries that can rend armour and weapons with ease. Leaving that room alone, they followed some stairs leading up to the head of the frog - the room was caked in shadows despite the afternoon light filtering through the red faceted eyes. Two hovering metal creatures emerged form the shadows to attack the party, seemingly near invulnerable to most attacks until the party used light spells and the sun blade they recovered from the Isle of Dread  to hold them back, after Dacien had sent one to the Plane of Shadow. As the last automaton fell, a pale human figure emerged from a chamber in the centre of the room, looking at the party with tired red eyes. As it spoke, two pointed teeth protruded over its bottom lip - clutching a device at its neck it said "Please leave".

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Savage Tide Session 40

Dacien took the party back to the ship, where Captain Nosmo Beldan greeted them officiously. There was some discussion of visiting the tortles to explain recent events, but when Nosmo explained the winds would take them quickest round the western side of the island back to Farshore, this was soon forgotten. Back in Farshore, Lavinia listened with interest to the reports, and was grateful to have her 'tribute' to the dragon turtle returned - rewarding them all for their efforts. When talk turned to future plans, she left them to it, but not before a brief discussio nabout taking trade goods back to Sasserine to try and spark interest  in the trading port. Mendel did talk with Manthalay about less above-board trade, which Manthalay seemed to agree with Lavinia was not to be the focus, although he did leave Mendel with some samples of an exotic fruit that he suggested not be handled without gloves.

The party set off for Sasserine, and spent much of the next few days shopping. Aloysius had returned from his travels with a substantial return, part of which was reinvested in the tailors shopfront in Shadowshore. Zhedd took some time to visit the Witchwardens, and look for additional items to go with the gloves he had commissioned from them.When he realised he didn't quite have the money for all the items, he asked for a 'loan' to cover the goods. Dark Priestess Teranaki was open to the offer - on the condition that Zhedd would partake in a mission for them. At the next full moon, undead would walk around the ruins of Chekitewhan, and adventuring parties would often interfere with the rituals; the Witchwardens wanted someone to stop the adventurers from doing so. When Zhedd complained he couldn't think of a way to achieve this, and a lack of willingness to help the organisation, Annah Teranaki grew angry at his lack of effort and imagination to aid the Witchwardens, and sent him away.

The party set about collecting their goods, and planning the next stage of their adventure. Mendel had convinced the others to investigate the trade disruption in Emerond, so they first went to the Temple of Asterius and spoke with Lirali Woarali again. She explained that all caravans had been barred from entering Emerond recently, and exports of their prized alcoholic spirit had ceased. They were a secretive nation generally, but friendly and peaceful so this was unexpected. She described the Emerondians as similar in appearance to elves, but with a greenish tint to their skin, and living in strange cities that were grown within and form the forest trees themselves. Lirali put the party in touch with a caravaneer that was in the capital at the time the borders were closed. He had been trading metal goods with them, as it it something they did not generate themselves. He told a tale of the Emerondians being spooked by a comet falling from the sky, and parts of their plant-kingdom withering and collapsing. Antony asked around and also heard tales of some pale-skinned elves accompanied by a dark haired human with a goatee asking questions about Emerond - the party described Bargle form the wanted posters, and surmised this was he in the company of some shadow elves. Zhedd led the party to a small shrine to Ordana in the Sunrise district - there had been whispers that the Emerondians were followers of Mother Forest. However, the elven priestess they spoke to dismissed this idea - she claimed that whilst the Emerondians lived as one with the forest, it wasn't wholly natural; trees were grown out of proportion and beyond which they should be able to sustain themselves. She saw no sign of Ordana worship in their practices. Mendel gave her a donation for her time, and she clearly was surprised and unsure what to do with the money.

They then bought horses and set out to the south, aiming to make the border to the kingdom by nightfall. They rode past the plantations that surrounded Sasserine, and skirted the mountains to the east. The land broke into boggy swamp, where the rain run off from the mountains had collected, and thick verdant jungle, with the southerly caravan route dividing the two. In the distance, a rusted chimney bellowed smoke and flame above the mountains to the west, and a dark obsidian stone tower rose above the jungle to the east - the party guessed this was Chekitewhan. Zhedd, flying on Banshee above the party, dropped to meet the others when he and Faldak heard a strange voice in the trees. It was a manic, alien tongue that neither recognized. As Zhedd flew up to investigate, dark beams of energy flew out form the trees and struck Banshee. A pair of Beholders were in the canopy of the forest, and turned their antimagic eyes  on the path. Mendel and Gerald tried to make blind shots with bows and magic in their direction, as Dacien froze the air in front of them. Faldak and Ji charged  into the fray. In a moment of premptive karma, Ji fell foul to the disintegrate ray of one of the creatures. Faldak was charmed, but the rest of the party managed to kill the bests before anything further happened. Looking at the jungle from above, and the scarred bodies of the beholders, it appeared as though they had been squabbling and fighting each other - Dacien confirmed it was unusual to find them in this terrain, and their insanity meant they practically never worked in teams unless a Hive Mother guided their actions. Finding no sign of how they got here, the party set up camp and continued  in the morning.

Come dawn, Zhedd spotted the kingdom of Emerond a few miles to the south. it's border was plain to see - a ring of trees that were taller, lusher and a more vivid green than the surrounding jungle. The border traced a perfect arc, from what Zhedd could see. After a brief ride, the party came across a guard post on the trail - three of the green skinned folk standing with halberd drawn to block the path. Their weapons and armour were made from wood and hardened leaves. Behind them, a large snake sunned itself on a tree branch and a pair of giant flies waited with wickedly sharp forelimbs and saddles on their backs. The guards commanded the party to stop, but in discussion, when they heard the name Bargle and shadow elves mentioned along with an offer of help, they agreed to report back to the capital and see if they could be admitted. Eventually they were, and met by the High Councillor in the capital, who informed them King Jerem Rhody would meet with them in the baths presently.

The capital was an incredible feat of horticultural engineering - buildings formed from and within giant trees that spanned scores of feet across. There was preciseness to the growth of the trees that spoke against their natural origins, but at the extremities of the plants, blight and withering was clearly visible. The king met the party in a baths - a pool of sweet liquid fed from the phloem within the centre of the trunk of the largest tree. King Rhody listened to the party's tale and offer of help, and came round to the view that outsiders might be best placed to help with this situation. He was hesitant at first to describe in detail what he felt the problem might be, but as his story went on, probed by the party, it became clearer. He explained that a great power source - analogous to what the party would know as magic, but instead powered by technology, lay at the centre of the kingdom, and it was this that sustained the foresthome as it was and allowed the Emerondians to use the trees and plants as they did. The people of Emerond had long forsake the ways of the technology, and the king alluded to a great tragedy and sacrifice that was made long ago that precipitated this, and the centre of the kingdom was now off limits and potentially hazardous or toxic to enter. He feared something had recently happened to the power source that had weakened it, leading to the blight and affliction affecting the kingdom now. Two other things may be connected to this
- a group of shadow elves had been introduced to the king by Bargle, petitioning to access the technology. The king heard their plight - that the ancient forest home of the elves (Alfheim) had been invaded by the shadow elves and left a dark barren ruin, and the shadow elves were looking for a means to regrow it. The king had not granted them access, but he did not explain how he knew of Bargle
- a comet was seen falling from the sky and landing in the centre of the kingdom. King Rhody alluded to the fact that his people were not originally of this planet, and it may be that safeguards that were put in place to prevent his team interacting with natives could have been enacted.
If the party were willing to investigate the problem, the King would offer what he could in return. Only a small cadre of close advisers still knew the ways of technology, and he feared sending them would cause too much fear in the city at their disappearance, but they could be called upon at the right time if others were needed to solve the problem. He agreed to trade, special goods, and education as a reward, on the condition that the party not return for fear of spreading to much knowledge of the origins of his people amongst his subjects. The party agreed and enjoyed the rest of their bath, Antony feeling quite light headed by the end.

The following day, the party ventured beyond the tick wall of vegetation that hid the centre of the kingdom, and were given two canoes to navigate the mangrove swamps that lay beyond. They had barely left the Emerondians for 20 minutes before and dry booming voice rang out form ahead in Sylvan. "Leave my trees alone! Leave this place!" Zhedd replied that they were determined to press on through, and the trees, which had seemed to flinch at the party's presence, began to uproot and move closer.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Savage Tide Session 39

The party stood on the deck of the leaking ship in the still waters of the cove. The northern coastline of the Isle of Dread was visible in the distance to the south, but spoiling the view was the belly-up bloated body of a dragon turtle. Mendel set about examining the ship for damage, and found as intact as could be expected for a wreck that had spent much of the last few months torn open and beached on a reef. Zhedd asked his crocodiles to examine the body of the turtle for treasures, and finding none, then sent them into the waters below to look for any dropped rings or jewellery. A few moments after disappearing beneath the waves, some thrashing and and blood appeared in the water under the ship.

A few moments later, Mendel noticed the water levels in the bilges rising, and all on deck felt the ship lurch to port. Gerald and Faldak went to help deal with repairs, whilst the others on deck kept an eye on the water below. Antony spotted a tortle swimming in the sea off the port bow and being casting a spell.

Antony and Ji were caught by surprise when a woolly mammoth appeared on deck in their midst. The ship lurched suddenly as the beast wrapped its trunk around the main mast and tried to keep balance. Antony tried to keep out of its way and watch the tortle, as Ji used oil to unbalance the beast, and send it slipping off the side. The ship was almost pulled to its side, and below deck, Mendel and Faldak saw signs of a tortle boarding party ripping apart the warped planks at the keel. Dacien set about leading the offensive above decks, once Antony had held the tortle druid, by using a wall of force to make a bridge from the sinking ship to the corpse of the dragon turtle. The party made a retreat from the ship, leaving Faldak as honorary captain to do the noble thing. Ji was caught by a spell as he leapt from the ship, and polymorphed into a pteranadon. Dacien caught the tortle in a resilient sphere to give them some breathing space, and prepare themselves. Faldak finished off the tortle boarding party, and joined the others. Dacien and Zhedd were the only ones able to tackle the tortle without entering the water themselves, and eventually finished him off, but not before many of Zhedd's metal items had been transmuted into wood.

With the ship on its side and sinking, the party used water walking to make their way to shore, and then up onto the cliffs. Zhedd communed to identify the location of the dragon turtle's lair, which lay 6 miles to the south. But as the party started their trek, Faldak spotted signs of a roc, nesting on the side of the cliff. A little drained from the earlier battles, the party decided to retreat to Farshore. They dined with Lavinia that night, and planned their expedition to the turtle lair.

Knowing they were facing coral golems, and neither Zhedd nor Dacien recalling much about them, the party decided to visit Sasserine and ask for help of the libraries. Zhedd visited the Witchwardens, whilst Antony and Dacien went to Blenak's Bazaar, the home of a noted sage. Zhedd's research took long in part due to an elderly gnome not being the quickest bout his work, but was asked to meet with Her Dark Priestess Teranaki, head of the guild. She praised Zhedd again on his work bringing them the zombie from the Isle of Dread, and claimed to have learnt much already from its construction. Also, a local artifact of Nyx had been recovered. She asked Zhedd to look out for other specimens of unusual undead, and refrain from attacking intelligent undead if possible - using the Witchwarden's name if it would help broker a peaceful encounter. She also mentioned that they could use some help with the up coming full moon in guarding the undead at Chekitewhan, a local vault, where local 'do-gooder' adventurers would attack the undead guardians that the Witchwardens wanted to protect. Finally, as an enticement to make Zhedd a more proactive member of the Witchwardens, she asked about his retraining to become a necromancer.

Dacien and Antony has a less unnerving meeting, and afterwards they pooled their knowledge about weaknesses of the golems. Armed with this knowledge, the party made their way to the lair, navigated their way past a wall of dispel magic, and set about ransacking its loot. The two coral golems were contained by some careful tactics and preparation, and quickly dispatched. This left the party to recover the crates and chests of treasure the dragon turtle had collected over many years.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Savage Tide Session 38

The party left their rooms at the Silk Purse (after a disturbing night's sleep thanks to Mendel bringing a barmaid back with him), and headed downstairs. Awaiting them was an Ethengari-looking gentleman with glowing blue eyes (a Arcane Sight spell), who introduced himself as El'Ariah from the Krondohar province of Glantri. He expressed suprise at seeing the party, having heard that some Glantian nobles of the von Drachenfels family were meant to be using this accomodation to take part  in the golem hunt, and El'Ariah was hoping to meet his fellow contestants.After the party explained they would not be taking part, he seemed disappointed, and left them to go about their business - but not before mentioning that the von Drachenfels were supposed to have some 'edge' they were bringing to the tournament.

Before leaving Alchemos, the party visited the Temple of Koryis to send their message to Farshore, explaining their absence, and speak with the deceased spirits of Stefanie and Rissashtak. Stefanie confirmed that she did not wish to return, having given her life i na glorious battle, and Risasshtak stated that whilst there were still demons to fight in his homeland, we wanted to be there to continue the battle. Zhedd argued that the party should only use a cheaper reincarnate spell to bring the warrior back, but the others felt this an insult to how Rissashtak had fought for the party in the battle and resolved to raise him back in Sasserine.

Dacien used his newly acquired spell Greater Teleport to more accurately transport the party back to Sasserine. They headed for the Church of the Whirling Fury and met with Lady Silvermane there. She listened with interest to the report from the expedition on the Isle of Dread, and still expressed her concern over not fully knowing what Demogorgon was up to. The party discussed the next plans, and she agreed that hunting down the source of the pearls with the Crimson Fleet seemed the only avenue left to understanding more about their nature. She offered to take the pearls from the party to study them, but Dacien wanted to hold on to them as a potential bargaining chip in the future.

When the party mentioned the intelligent bow they had found, Lady Silvermane offered to introduce the party to the immortal Ixion to discuss its future. She was a priest in part in his name through his presence on the Council of Intrusion, and so was able to gate the party to Pandius, city of the gods, where they could meet the Sun Prince. Stepping through the portal, the party arrived in a large chamber, seated opposite a table from the follow powerful immortal 'deities'.

Ixion (Otzitiotl) appeared a a young man with eyes of flame, Ka  (Kalaktatla) as a large dinosaur, Odin (Oloron) as an old man with an eye-patch and a raven, and Protius (Manwara), who appeared as a porpoise swimming in a pool to the side, seemingly disinterested  in the entire event. Ixion explained that he had convened the others as their powers had also gone in to the creation of the bow. Ixion seemed the more personable of the four, and claimed to be aware of the party's activities through Lady Silvermane and the Council of Intrusion. When the issue of what should be done with the bow came up, several options were raised, where the immortals might reward the party for delivering the bow to different destinations that might better suit its purpose.

  1. Ka and Ixion both mused delivering the bow somewhere that might suit its purpose of defending the Oltec empire perfectly. They revealed to the party that the planet was in fact hollow, and in the Hollow World at its centre, fallen empires from history were stored and preserved so that knowledge might be saved, in a 'living museum' of delicately balanced lost civilisations. They explained that the Oltec Empire that had once spread across the now Isle of Dread was represented in the Hollow World, and there the bow could meet its goal of defending the empire. They seemed cautious about the bow knowing too much of the nature of the destination, and explained that certain magical effects ceased to function in the Hollow World due to its nature - severe restrictions on conjuration, divination and enchantment magic. But in return for taking the bow to the seat of the Oltec Empire, they would reward the party each with an item. Should the party choose this course, they suggested heading to Barleycorn Monastery in the Broken Lands north of Darokin, where the priests might be able to help with transport.
  2. Odin seemed more matter-of-fact, and wanted to see the bow  in the hands of a warrior. Acknowledging the strong nature of the intelligence in the bow, he suggested the bow could actually be given to the spirit that possessed it! Odin explained that the civilisation on the isle of Dread now revere undead but this once once a form of undead called Deathless powered by positive energy. Corruption at the heart of the empire that contributed to its downfall led the shamans away from this practice. Several Deathless, including Macutotnal, the king inside the bow, lay in slumber guarding the source of this undead corruption. If the party could remove the need for his guardianship, destroy the corruption, the Deathless might take the bow and return to rebuild the Oltec way of life  on the Isle. In return for this deed, Odin would reward them with one item of more power.
  3. Protius only chipped into suggest giving it to the aquatic races, or detroying it do the power invested in it could return to the immortals.
Mendel also asked about the Eye of Arik they were carrying. Ixion was surprised at its existence, and gave some background. Arik was a guardian created by the immortals to act as a sentinel on the look out for intrusions in to this dimension from Outer Beings, and to stand as guard and warden over the Pits of Banishment, an 'inescapable' prison dimension where dangerous creatures could be locked away. Arik had been tempted by the powers that the outer Beings offered, and so had to be locked away in the Pits himself. Dacien asked about the need for a guard at the prison, and Ixion explained his surprise at the existence of the Eye - that the only escape was by a creature 'opening the door to its cell from the other side'. The Eye contained some vestige of Arik's power, and so if brought to the Pits of Banishment might be used to free him.
Back in Sasserine, the party left Aloysius to sell their loot, which should take a fortnight. He was operating form an abandoned tailors in Shadowshore. On the docks, Mendel, Faldak and Ji spotted the crew of the ship they had visited in Farshore harbour carrying the Shadow Elves, surprisingly already in Sasserine. It became clear that the first mate did not recognise them, and from Antony's questions and pub crawl, it seemed their memories had been modified. Dacien scryed for the albinos and found them in a smuggler's cave to the west - in fact the one they had first encountered the evidence of the danger of the black pearls.

Zhedd then persuaded the party to help him retrieve a sample undead from the Isle of Dread - his long overdue mission from the Witchwardens. The party travelled to Mora, and met with the Witch Doctor there, and thanks to Antony's skilful negotiation, a large amount of alcohol, and Mendel's offer of exchange of the secrets of their power (training etc), Zhedd was handed a topi zombie in a box. It was clear the locals revered the undead as 'Walking Ancestors', and the witch doctor hoped for the return of the zombie in the future, but understood how it might have much to teach the outsiders. Zhedd and Dacien delivered the zombie back to the Witchwardens, and were met by the Dark Priestess Annah Teranaki who was very interested in the party's work. Before the party left Sasserine, Mendel visited the temple of Asterius, and spoke again with the priestess Lirali Woarali. She confirmed that the assassins had retreated from the city, and in response to Mendel's offer of assistance, the church and the growing thieves guild would benefit from an exclusive trade relationship with the nation of Emerond to the south - all trade had recently been cut off and if this could be resolved  in the Church's name, they would benefit greatly.

The party still had time to kill whilst waiting for the funds from their loot, and so decided to deal with the dragon turtle on the north of the Isle of Dread. Back in Farshore, Antony's sea Captain Nosmo Beldan had reported sightings of the turtle near the harbour. Some of the locals had also claimed to see a red falcon in the sky to the east, and Mendel spotted this at night - a giant red falcon seemingly made from wood, lit up and hovering over the islands where they met the Hulean preists previously. They party spent some time planning how best to approach the dragon turtle, and decided to repair the Sea Wyvern they left wrecked  on the north of the island enough to limp around in the the cove and use as a platform for their attacks. A carpenter helped with the makeshift repairs, with wood shaping spells from Zhedd. Nearby they met with some tortles, who reminded them of the dragon turtle being worshipped by some of their kin, and it guarding the birthing grounds they used. After some trade, they also revealed the dragon turtle had coral golems to add to its defences.

They limped the ship into the deep waters of the cove, and used the horns to attract the dragon turtle's attention as they had done before. It emerged moments later with a sneer, and was caught by surprise as the party attacked. A vast amount of magical firepower was unleashed from Dacien, Zhedd and Gerald to attack the creature as it tried to capsize the ship, and eventually Zhedd's summoned crocodiles tore it to pieces, leaving the body floating in the bloody waters. Somewhere below was its lair and collected treasure....

Monday, August 04, 2014

Savage Tide Session 37

The giant eel-like demon thrashed in the chamberer, as Faldak and Ji were thrust aside by its sudden appearance. Zhedd quickly teleported Banshee out of harms way, as Dacien racked his brains to identify the creature - a wastrilith, an aquatic demon that usually avoid direct combat, and has a vulnerability to fire. Before they could act, however, a wall of ice appeared between the demon and the bulk of the party. Quick thinking from Mendel saw him use the arrow of disintegration to blow a hole in the wall and press the attack. Soon after the creature was dead. There was no sign of the two headed creature returning, so the party started to explore the area. They found a statue of Demogorgon in a side chamber, with a fragment of a gold annulus held in its arms - similar to the one the party had found in the village of Mora.

Antony found a passageway south, and Dacien confirm with a use of locate object that the kopru had fled in that direction. The party found two pools which appeared to lead to underwater passageways, and signs that the two remaining kopru had come this way. As the party prepared to enter, there was a ebllowing roar form the main chamber - the two-headed demon had returned. The party returned to the room, and spread out along the walls to attack. The beast was in the centre of the chamber looking healed form its previous wounds but drained of energy. Wary of the original encounter, the party feared it may be an illusion. Faldak and Ji hurried forward, and spotted the real demon hiding in one of the rooms. As the party tired to pin it down in the room, it teleported behind Mendel and attacked. This allowed the rest of the party to close in. Driven by an desire for vengeance, the beast would not flee, and the party soon brought it down. A it died, the body collapsed in on itself in a bubbling mass of black ichor. Dark smoke rose form the putrefying corpse, and coalesced into the image of Demogorgon, whose gaze fixed the party. One head snarled in anger, whilst the other hissed "You have my attention!".

The party then return to face the kopru, cowering in their flooded cavern. Gerald warded Faldak with a freedom of movement spell, and the dwarf used his necklace of adaptation  to breathe under the water. Zhedd conjured a pod of dolphins to guide them, and turned into a dolphin himself to tow Faldak along under the water. Together, they cornered the two remaining kopru and between a wet dwarf and some summoned crocodiles, they managed to defeat them. The cave contained lots of furniture carved from coral, and appeared to be where the kopru kept most of their treasure. One chest was chained to the floor and trapped, and Anthony soon found out why - one trap caused him to grow gills, and an innocuous handbell inside the chest dropped a fireball when accidentally rung. The party were then more cautious retrieving a set of bellows form the chest - which Dacien later identified as Bellows of the Fascist Swarm that could summon a swarm of bees to attack hippies (CG creatures in preference).

The party then spent a day ensuring they had cleared out the complex. They found no sign of other kopru, but did find underwater routes that lead into the main lake. A small fish informed them a large predator guarded the lake, and as a shadow loomed overhead, the party quickly retreated. Zhedd wanted to approach the treants again before he left. Zhedd communed  again, and picked up the treants trial, as well as spotting that several demons still plagued the lands around the plateau. Mendel accompanied him, and, dodging a flock of wyverns, they managed to find the treants. Zhedd informed them that the island had been cleared of skinwalkers, and the treants again thanked him for removing the taint of civilisation form the plateau. They seemed resistant to accept any further help, and eager to see the party leave so that they could reclaim the land for nature themselves without man- or elf-kind.

Dacien gathered the party to teleport back to Farshore, focussing on Professor Aldwattle's laboratory. As the spell neared completion, a fly darted up his nose, causing him to lose concentration. The party vanished and reappeared in an alchemical laboratory - but not the one they intended. As a bookcase golem started to move to defend its masters room, Dacien quickly dimension door'd the party out to the street. They found themselves in an immaculately kept cobbled road, an avenue with well kept plants and topiary. The smell of smoked haddock and hot metal filled the air. A passing dwarf with a wheelbarrow informed them they had arrived in Alchemos, on the continent of Bellisaria in the Empire of Alphatia - a great many hundreds of miles from their intended destination. Alchemos was the home of the Alphatian School of Alchemy, a prestigious site of learning.

The party started looking for somewhere cheap to stay, when Mendel decided to pick somewhere more upmarket, and spotted a lavish inn named The Silk Purse. At the door, after an initial look of derision, the proprietor seemed to mistake the party for some expected guests that were due to take part in 'The Hunt'. The party happily went along with the ruse, and were shown to a lavish suite of rooms. The next day, Dacien and Zhedd did some research at the library and Mendel and Antony did their 'research' at the taverns. They found out that The Hunt was actually an annual event where the  Alchemists Guild would unleash a hellish alchemical golem of their own devising upon contestants trapped within a maze of invisible force fields. There had only been 2 winners in recent years, and taking part was seen as an act of desperation by down-on-their-luck mages looking to get their hands  on the 100,000 gp prize for defeating the golem and leaving the maze. The party (almost universally) began to think taking part was a Bad Idea.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Savage Tide Session 36

Zhedd's Escape
As the rest of the party disappeared with Dacien's teleport, Zhedd and Banshee were left behind with two mocking baboon faces leering hungrily at them both. Zhedd quickly dimension door'd  the pair of them upwards and out over the lake on the surface. Using illusions, Zhedd kept the two of them hidden as he sought out a refuge to hide and await contact from the others. He found a crevasse on the sheer cliffs that surrounded the plateau, and created a ledge to rest upon. Having rested and memorised new spells, Zhedd communed to get a feel for the creatures that lived nearby, and identified a powerful unnatural creature living in the lake on the plateau, and the treant he'd met earlier currently somewhere  in the forest to the south. Zhedd searched the forest for some time, luckily avoiding any encounters, until he found signs of the treant's passage. The treant recognised Zhedd, and agreed that the druid could accompany him to a meet with his grafted partner for safety. In return, the treant explained he was distraught at the 'two-legged civilisation' that had come to the plateau and cut down trees to build structures, and exacted a promise from Zhedd that the druid would destroy any further spread of this 'civilisation'. In the meantime, Zhedd found a pool and, after failing to contact Dacien, managed to scry Mendel and pass on the message about where he was hiding. Dacien came up with a plan to retrieve Zhedd, and after a series of teleports the party were reunited in Farshore.

Catching breath in Farshore
The party had filled Lavinia in on what had occurred and looked to return to Sasserine to get supplies. Getting an update on events in the settlement, it appeared that Manthalay Meravanchi had started an operation to source criminals from the natives and ship them back as slaves, to keep a trade ticking over for the growing operation. Lavinina also introduced the party to two phanaton that were seekign adventure with the party in return for passage away from the Isle of Dread - Gerald, a reincarnated dwarf, and his companion Lenny. Three new ships were in harbour - one of Karameikan origin, looking to resupply on the voyage south, a ship of Vanyan pilgrims heading south, and the other a strange ship of dried aged wood with rigging and sails made from webbing. Of the latter, there had been no sign of activity on the ship, save for a pteranodon which had been caught in a spider-web bag on the central mast, and was fluttering listlessly.

The Karameikan ship Ekaterina was strange for not docking at one of the jettys and remaining further out in the harbour - also, all windows were blacked out. The crew had made little contact save for the first mate Ivan Ivanov who was overseeing supplies. None of the crew had been ashore for leave. Mendel spied on the ship from one of the clifftops and saw a pale figure hiding in the shadows. When Ji and Faldak escorted the supplies to the ship, there as resistance to let them board, but Ji persisted, drawn by the smell of stale sweat, and also spotted the strange figure. Slipping the first mate some coin, Ivanov let slip that he was carrying a cargo of strange albino humanoids he'd picked up from the caves to the north, at the behest of some shadow elves  form the nation of Aengmor.

Mendel spoke to the head of the Vanya missionaries, Heinrich, who spent most of their time in weapons training by the docks. They were headed to Raven's Scarp on the southern continent of Davania as part of a pilgrimage to a place called Vanya's Rest. They suggested approaching Steefanie's mercenary contingent for burial rites, but felt that the death in battle against a major foe would suffice.

The webbed ship caused more interest, and the part approached it. Strange metal plates adorned it surface, and after hailing the ship, something from within tapped on the metal sheets. After contact was made, a group of large dark spiders emerged on deck and spoke in piping voices. The leader introduced himself as AckAck, of a race of planar spiders known as Chak that called the Astral plane home. They often travelled as merchants, picking up exotic wares and information to trade. They explained that they had been drawn here following ships from the Material Plane that were sailing on other planar seas, and they were curious who and how. The ships carried flags of a skull over crossed swords on a red background - the same flag the party had seen carried by the Sea Reavers of the Crimson Fleet. After exchanging tales, and signal books, the party were able to trade with the Chak and get the supplies they needed.

Round Two on Taboo
Once the party were rested and prepared, and items identified or traded, the party returned to the temple on the plateau. They gathered at the top of the stairs descending to the chamber filled with mud pools, and cast their spells in preparation. The chamber below was empty, so the party hurried through the broken wall as they did before. In the main chamber, four kopru, a crocodile demon, and the two headed beast waited for them. In the arms of the statue now rested the defiled bodies of Stefanie and Rissashtak. Battle commenced, and the party fared better this time, as they resisted more of the attacks and ere able to focus on dealing damage to the large creature. Some of the party succumbed to the confusion, including Banshee, and were caught in melee with the beast. Then, with the kopru killed or driven off, as the demon was looking increasingly beaten, it suddenly vanished, and in its place, conjured forth by some demonic pact magic as far as Dacien could tell, appeared a large thrashing eel-like demon. It wasn't over yet...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Savage Tide Session 35

The party gathered at the steps down to the steamy cavern full of pools of bubbling volcanic mud. Feeling emboldened by the Heroic Feast Stefanie had conjured for them earlier, they set about planning their approach to tackle the kopru base of operations. Dacien and Stefanie drew up wards against evil mind control, and the party huddled in a protective circle as the descended the stairs. The cavern was very large, with thin, slippery mineral-encrusted walkways criss-crossing the pools. The heat was nearly unbearable, and each of them was covered in sweat within seconds; sweat that had nowhere to evaporate to in the humid, sulphurous foetid air.

Stefanie took off her armour to avoid sinking into the pools, as the more nimble team members scouted ahead. The occasional bubble of boiling mud burst over a party member, and more than once Rissashtak and Faldak lost their footing and fell in. They knew the kopru were in hiding, and it was Antony who spotted them first, as two muscular kopru swam at them through the mud. Throgiff was caught by surprise,  and crushed by its muscular tentacle. Mendel was caught too but managed to escape. The halfling was overcome, as his skull was crushed and his body dumped in the pool of mud. Taboo temple had claimed its first victim of the day. But not before a quick acting Ji retrieved the body and its goods.

The two kopru were killed, and Antony saw another in the distant shadows disappear back into the mud. Macutotnal's anger against the kopru came to the fore, as the intelligent bow took control of Mendel, and argued to press the attack. The rest of the party managed to counsel caution. From then on the party decided to travel together. They explored the northern half of the chamber and found, encrusted in a large stalagmite, a skeletal body sat upon a throne. Macutotnal/Mendel explained that this is where the king of Thanaclan would receive guests before entering the temple to the west. The body bore a ring - the king's insignia with a power of telekinesis - and a bronze bastard sword with a sun emblem, that was strangely light for its size.

Ji used the telekinesis to move an arrow with a light spell cast upon it about the chamber and assess the layout. A well of boiling water lay on the southern wall, and Antony's keen eye spotted a buried box containing several emeralds. They also spotted a breach in the western wall, from where Ji had heard a bestial roar earlier. The party headed there next, narrowly missing a walkway that almost collapsed under them, which Zhedd then filled in by turning the mud to rock. The crevasse led to a small cave filled with the skulls of many different humanoids. Each skull bore signs of the brains having been scraped out through the nose. A passageway led out to the west and drier ground, so Stefanie set about putting her armour back on, whilst Ji did his best to give the skulls a more dignified send off. Faldak moved up to fire an arrow around the corner to the west, only to see a terrifying beast staring back at him; a disturbing cross between kopru and baboon in a twisted semblance of Demogorgon himself. A demonic crocodilian creature was entwined around his legs.

Ji tried to speak but Faldak had fired an arrow. The party geared for battle, only to find the creature was an illusion, which was still able to cast spells! Ji, Mendel and Faldak fought through into a large partially-flooded temple, where they were swarmed by six of the crocodile demons. The soundd of hawking and snorting came from the north, and a viscous acidic glob of snot and bile flew from the darkness to cover the trio, burning their skin and very souls. Mendel fired a light arrow back in that direction, and illuminated the real creature, stood in front of a fractured statue on a dais where there was also a melon-sized black pearl throbbing with eldritch energy. Zhedd conjured a solid fog about the creature to buy time whilst the others fought off the crocodiles. The wicked barbed tails on the demons caused wounds to bleed heavily, and Faldak and Ji began to struggle under the pressure. Suddenly, the large demon appeared in their midst, bringing an aura of fear and confusion with it which scattered the party immediately. It's tentacles carried a rotting power that caused flesh to slough off and decay.

A frantic battle was fought. Antony almost died, but managed to skip into the water ans swim to the pearl, which the party washed free form the bile and semi-digested brain matter around it, and slip into his haversack. He was met with a glob of energy draining snot for his efforts. Ji found a pile of treasures in a side room in which he was hiding in fear - likely the possessions of Noltus Innersol, given the blood-stained symbol of Ixion in their midst.

Once the crocodiles were dispatched, it left Stefanie fighting a vain battle alone against the beast. Rissashtak was being crushed by one of its limbs, but managed to escape. Ji, Mendel, and Rissashtak rushed to surround it, but the demon lashed out at all of them in a flurry that caught them all by surprise. Rissashtak and Stefanie felt their hearts rot from the inside before the life ebbed out of them. Two more victims to Taboo temple. Ji fell to the floor convulsing, and bleeding his last.

Dacien finally realised the game was up and called for retreat. Zhedd swapped a rat from  bag of tricks with Ji and the party desperately ran into Dacien's teleport spell back to Farshore. The beasts's mocking voice followed them "I will kill either your healer or your means of escape! I will find out where you live and kill everyone there!"

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Savage Tide Session 34

Before the party could rest, they were alerted by Dacien's alarm. Looking outside their chamber, nothing was visible, but Zhedd could make out the sounds of someone casting invisibility spells. The party crowded around the doorway, as Stefanie tried to use a jet of water to find the invisible foes - a couple of feet were spotted, but quickly retreated. In the end, Zhedd launched off the balcony on Banshee to locate the enemies, and was pounced on by two Vrocks that appeared mid air. Soon after, a skinwalker appeared near the column of flame, and launched a fireball into the midst of the party. Two more skinwalkers started to move to flank the party but Faldak cut them off. The vrocks spread their toxic spores amongst the party, and leapt into melee.The foes were soon brought down, but the spores continued to eat away at the party. Eventually, all were healed and managed get back to rest.

The party decided to venture to the lower levels via the main steps they had seen to the west, and found themselves on a landing. to the east there was a flooded murky chamber with a large snake motif running around its walls. Antony snuck down a corridor to the south and found a storage area - urns, crowbars and fishing equipment, next to a large underground oyster pond. As Antony beckoned the others to join him, three Hezrou teleported to flank the party and attacked.

Their stench sickened several of the party, but Dacien and Stefanie acted quickly to use their magic to send two of the toad-like demons back to their extraplanar holes. The third was killed off soon after, allowing the party to continue. The urns held strange substances - a quivering red mud or planar origin, and disturbing headless insects, not immediately recognisable as being of this planet. Stefanie and Zhedd went to explore the oyster pond, but Ji noticed Zhedd starting to behave strangely - under the influence of kopru mind control. Before they could command him to act, Dacien used protection from evil to ward off the kopru influence, but by the time the party ran across the chamber to find the beasts, they appeared to have disappeared into an underwater tunnel. The party did their best to block the tunnel, finding another that led into the lake outside too, and returned to the oysters. Six of the creatures were abnormally large, black and pulsating with red veins. Cracking these open with the crowbars was difficult, and caused the oysters to shrill and shriek with an unearthly keen. Inside each of them was a large black pearl.

The party set off back to the north, and followed a flooded corridor west. Antony stepped into pool that contained a green slime, and had to be rescued by Ji burning the slime off as it ate away at his legs. Whilst ji set about clearing the pool of the rest of the slime, the rest of the party bound and gagged Zhedd in case the kopru mind controlled started again. What they hadn't factored in was his ability to shapeshift, and so, under the kopru influence, Zhedd turned into a squid to escape the bonds and flee. Mendel quickly pinned him to the wall with some well placed arrows, allowing Dacien to break the enchantment the kopru had on the druid, leaving a sullen Zhedd to skulk back to the party.

In a room at the end of the corridor, the party found an old library of wax tablets, that had long since lost their writing for the most part other than a carefully bound section of stone slabs. An obsidian dagger was also hidden in  a stone drawer, and seemed to draw shadows into itself as it avoided the flickering torchlight.

In another corridor, the party were attacked by a large ochre jelly, but managed to fend this off to battle out of the water. Antony cleverly spotted the risk of opening doors in flooded corridors and cut off the top half of another door to access the chamber beyond, without washing themselves away. This led to a steam vent that the party bridged, and beyond that a statuary. Mendel entered first to investigate the room, only to be trapped by a falling portcullis, as four of the statues moved to attack. Zhedd summoned a wolverine to swap places with Mendel, but it was taking too long and Mendel was being beaten heavily by the statues, so Dacien dimension door'd him out. The statues were relentless, and bashed down the portcullis to pursue the party. It became clear the party's weapons were not harming the creatures, so they retreated, laying a trap by the steam vent. Ji acted as bait to lure the statues forward; the first one fell intothe steam vent and backed solid, and the next two got swept away by the on rush of water as they broke down Antony's dam. This left one for the party to defeat in melee. The wounds the statue caused itched and were difficult to heal, draining the party of much of their remaining healing to finally cure them.

A set of stairs led down, and Antony went ahead to explore. The stairs opened up into a large chamber filled with bubbling pits of boiling mud. Anthony felt a kopru invade his mind, and managed to break free before it took real hold. Running back upstairs, the party decided to avoid this for now, and find somewhere to rest - the kopru would wait for another day...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Savage Tide Session 33

Cleaning themselves off the ichor from the flesh jelly, the party pressed on deeper into the dungeon. The chamber that housed the fleshy monstrosity was empty, save for the putrefied remains of various humanoid bodies. Antony spotted a trap by the main entrance to the dungeon complex, so the party headed south into a larger chamber. Steps led down to the west, descending into the darkness from where a warm, damp sulphurous smell wafted. The chamber itself was bare, but the floor was covered in hundreds of crude flat metal rings, each of which bore 4 sigils carved on each face. None of the party could decipher the sigils, so the party snuck across the chamber best and quietly as they could, until Stefanie kicked up  a ruckus in her metal armour and all sense of subtlety was lost. Some of the discs were pocketed to examine later.

To the south lay a large vaulted circular chamber. Statues the party recognised as representations of Ixion/Otzitiotl (Sun), Odin/Oloron (Moon) and Protius/Manwara (Star) stood around three concentric circles of depressions in the centre of the floor. In each ring was a ball, bearing a symbol of a sun, moon and star. Pillars bearing an engraved snake, likely a depiction of Ka/Kalaktatla flanked each statue. Around the walls of the room was a fresco that showed the rise to power of a skilled Oltec archer with a bow made of lightning, who with support from his patron immortals, ascended to become ruler of a great empire, and fought off the threat of a plague of wingless dragons known as linnorms. Mendel was struck by the similarities between himself and the likeness of the archer, even though there was none. The party debated for some time whether it was Mendel’s density to travel back in time and save this great empire. Eventually, they recognised the similarities between the stone amulet Noltus Innersol had acquired and the layout of the chamber, and surmised that the balls should be moved around the circles of depressions according to the hidden code. Once they had worked out the sequence, the chamber filled with light and a bow crackling with energy appeared in the centre of the chamber - the Nimbus Bow.

Reaching out to collect the bow, the other saw Mendel drop his current bow to the floor as his fingers touched the Nimbus Bow. Mendel started referring to himself as 'Macutotnal', and cast a wary eye at the party if they dared to desecrate of loot the complex. Mendel had acquired an intelligent item, and so far, it was dominating him. Most of the party seemed happy to welcome their 'new' companion. Faldak snuck behind and quickly picked the holy bow up from the floor.

The next chamber was filled with mummified bodies, still in their finery with gold visible in the torchlight beneath their wrappings. Mendel/Macutotnal waned against looting the bodies, but Stefanie, sensing undead, joined Rissashtak in calling to their immortals to banish the  creatures. Eight wraiths emerged from the bodies and besieged the party, but through faith, fist and fabulous fighting were fought back.

A long winding corridor took the party deeper into the complex. A small alcove contained some offerings to a statue of Demogorgon, which Stefanie found to be cursed before they could destroy it, and was nearly left unable to cast the spell to remove its influence. Around the corner, Faldak's keen eye spotted the flagstones seemed loose, and he called Antony to a half before continuing. After much prising, they managed to lift a flagstone, only to cause a whole section of corridor to collapse into  a chamber below. For now, the party use the rope of climbing to move across the gap, and left the lower levels to explore later.

The noise had alerted the guards in the next chamber - a large vaulted entrance hall with a large pit containing a column of flame. Poking his head around the corner, Antony was spotted by another skinwalker who cast a spell to flood the corridor in a mind-befuggling gas. Dacien was quick to counteract the magic, as Ji dashed forward full pelt into the skinwalker and landed a kick solidly in his chest, sending him flying back into the flames. Battle began as a mob of skinwalker archers attacked Ji, and the rest of the party hurried to form a line at the entrance to the room. Stefanie cut the battlefield in half with a blade barrier, allowing the party to focus their efforts on the skinwalker chieftain and his pet ape. Ji and Faldak were almost brought low by the skilled warrior, before Stefanie used an expensive scroll to restore their health. That turned the tide of the battle, and as the chieftain fell, Zhedds summoned wolves allowed the party to pick off the remaining skinwalkers. All save another mage, which fled through the exit.

The party set about looting the chambers, and found several magic items and ancient relics in the chieftains chamber, which Dacien set about identifying. Another room held a defiled alter, its walls papers with the stretched skin of countless victims, and covered in obscene runes. Peering out the exit, the party saw something glowing on the floor of some steps leading down to the waterfront; fearing it a trap, they retreated and Dacien warded the corridor with an alarm spell. A final room was bare, it's floor covered in dust which the party then found concealed a trap door. No one was able to open the door on a few tries, and weary from battle, the party rested up for the night.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Savage Tide Session 32

The party continued to explore the 'taboo' island. Skirting around the eastern side before heading towards the cliffs, they encountered more skinwalkers, who had prepared an ambush. Faldak caused the undergrowth to entangle them as Antony's snuck by, and the party soon managed to turn the tables. T othe sourtheast they found another ziggurat - this one collapsed and inhabited by spectres. Antony, who had reluctanly clambered down into the ruin in the first place, bore the brunt of their attacks until Stefanie called upon Vanya to hold them t bay whilst the others sent them back to their graves. This ziggurat bore the markings of the immortal Khoronus, and it appeared the others were also dedicated to members of the Council of Intrusion; matching the deities they had seen on the artifact in the aboleth city deep below them.

Finally the party made their way to the cliffs where they had seen a large entrance previously on the shorefront. Another ziggarat rested here, inscribed wit hthe sigils of all the council's immortals, and just beyond they heard the shouts of a skinwalker (strange as they had seen these creatures use telepathy earlier), answered by another muffled voice in the same tongue. ANthony scouted ahead and saw a cluster of huts with a lone skinwalker on guard duty. Under a greater invisibility spell, he left the rest of the party hidden by the ziggurat and snuck forward with Faldak and Mendel to launch an attack. Antony used a wand of fireballs to sow confusion as Mendel sniped at the skinwalker guard and his companions emerged from the huts. A powerful skinwalker spellcaster emerged and Faldak was the unfortunate victim of a feeblemind spell, taking him out fo the fight as suddenly the soil become far more interesting. Seeing the flames, the rest of the party rushed to join in the battle, but Zhedd too was feebleminded. Antony continued to spray fireballs around - even launching on inside a hut from where he'd heard voices before. Mendel was suprised a a red-headed halfling appeared behind him and planted two arrows in his neck - but his return volley gravely injured the halfling and caused him to surrender.

Soon, the skinwalkers were defeated, and the party gathered round their two feebleminded companions and the strange new halfling guest - whose skin bore the same ruddy tone they had seen on the Crimson Fleet pirates. He introduced himself as Throgiff, a member of the Crimson Fleet from a land he called Cimmaron. He was apparently exiled here after embarrassing his captain Longshanks LeShiv in a game of cards; left on the island to oversee the slaves that were sent here, and the delivery of the shadow pearls from the skinwalkers to the korpu, via a tunnel hidden at the ziggurat's peak. He was completely disillusioned with his lot, and his only interest was to get off the island and escape back home. He said he had a ledger monitoring the number of slaves sacrificed and shadow pearls delivered to the Crimson Fleet's base in Scuttlecove; but the ledger had been destroyed when Antony fireballed the hut in which he was staying. The leader of the fleet, Cold Captain Wyther, kept in touch with Throgiff via a crystal ball with telepathy, but had not been in touch for a week or so; and Throgiff had no knowledge that Vanthus had died. After some debate, the party agreed that Throgiff could accompany them if he helped them confront the skinwalkers in their base. He agreed; but had not been inside their lair. Still, he happily showed them the secret entrance they used, hidden in an alcove to the north of a large set of broken double doors built into the cliff face.

The party rested, and the next day entered the structure carved into the cliff. It appeared an ancient but well built structure, and showed signs of a lot of use by the skinwalkers. The secret door led to long corridor that ended in another secret door, which was easily located and opened. Beyond was a small chamber with a carving of a ziggurat on a pedestal in its centre. An inscription in abyssal, which Throgiff translated, read "The blood keeps safe the flesh", and indeed there were signs of dried blood in channels around the surface of the carving. The warning became clear as the party headed south, and triggered a trap which sent a giant boulder rolling down the corridor towards them. Zhedd quickly shaped a stone lip across the corridor behidn them, and Dacien created a wall of force to divert the boulder safely to the side.

At the end of the corridor they found a chamber with an altar soaked in blood, much of which was pooled around the southern wall; searching here, Antony found a secret door which opened to some stairs leading down into a waterlogged passage. Ignoring that for now, the party continued east, and saw the rear of the broken double door in the distance. Before they coudl aprpaoch, they were overcome by an awful stench of rotting meat and decay; as a giant flesh jelly emerged from its lair at the sound of approaching meat.

This oozed from its pit towards the party, the stench becoming unbearable so that ll but Fladak's strong stomach emptied. They fled, a hastespell adding speed to their staggering, and launched fireballs from affar as the corridor filled with flesh behind them. The session ended as Zhedd appeared behind it and his last fireball blew it to pieces; spattering the rest of the party in gore.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Savage Tide Session 31

Peering out the window of Dacien's hut on last watch, Zhedd and Antony spotted movement in the long grass of the swampy savannah of the plateau. Using the spyglass, they appeared to be lizardfolk. Waking the others, they ventured outside and called out. A cautious reply came back in broken common, as a large lizardfolk warrior stepped forth, with some smaller companions behind him. He introduced himself as Rissashtak, a ranger/cleric of Ixion and part of a warband led by Noltus Innersol. As Rissashtak became assured the party were not part of the evil on the island, he explained that Noltus had led a warband of humans, lizardfolk, phanaton and rakasta to the plateau to confront the dark machinations of the kopru. They appeared to be operating from an island in a lake at the centre of the plateau, and Noltus had led a scouting party there, planning to rendez-vous with the band last night on the northern shore of the lake. The lake was seen as taboo by the lizards, for Kalaktatla himself guarded its waters, so Noltus only took a select few lizardfolk warriors with him that were willing to risk the wrath of their patron deity. But he had not returned. Rissashtak offered to escort the party back to camp to wait for Noltus, or to visit a human village on the southern shore of the lake that might hold more information. The party decided to follow the lizardkin to their camp first.

The lizardfolk camp was little more than a camouflaged set of mounds dug into the swamp to hide them from observation. There was no sign of Noltus here, so Rissashtak offered what hospitality he could, before pointing the party in the direction of the human settlement. He promised to try to contact the party if Noltus should return.

Heading west, the party came upon the settlement only to find it deserted. Crude huts were left abandoned, and Faldak saw signed of combat - humanoids attacking the village from both sides whilst something snake-like emerged form the water. Approaching the central hut, that was built out over the lake, a strange mist started to form around the party. Suddenly, a telepathic voice entered all their minds, accusing them of hiding their true nature and demanding they leave the sacred site. Realising that Antony's ring of mind shielding might be what the creatures referred to, Antony removed the ring and managed to placate the invisible assailants. They turned out to be couatls, servants of the immortal Ka or Kalaktatla, the protector of lost cultures.

They had been summoned here by the chieftain Űmläüt, who had called upon them for aid the battle that took place here, but sadly too late. The cleric was one of Ka's most favoured, honouring some of the most ancient practices of his worship on Mystara, and so his body was being treated with the reverence it deserved. The couatl allowed the party to speak with his body and question him, so the party rested whilst the couatl finished their ceremonial preparations of the body. The next morning, as Stefanie prepared her spells, the other found a small pteranodon in the village, clutching a stone upon which was written the letter 'N'.Stefanie used a sending to clarify that this signified the return of Noltus to the lizard camp. Pressing on withthe questioning pof the priests body, the party learnt that a band of skinwalkers had attacked the village, led by a strange demonic ghoul-like creature, and aided by a bulbous-eyed eel demon. Dacien recognised the description of the eel creature as a wastrilith, a most evil and magical aquatic demon. Űmläüt
 also informed the party that he realised now in death how the kopru had manipulated the villagers their whole lives, leading many to the island  in the centre of the lake, but for what reason he could not say.

As the party set out to retuirn to Rissashtak, they were set upon by a flock of wyverns, which were quickly fought off, although Stefanie too a viscious poisonous barb to the stomach. Weakened, she pressed on wit hthe others into camp, where they met with Noltus - a loud brash Ostlander cleric, who warmly welcomed them and bade them to share a feast. Bulgan, Noltus' bloodhound wombled over, and started sniffing the party members, particularly the spell casters, as Noltus explained he had been well trained to sniff out necromantic components to help the righteous missionary hunt down evil dabblers in undeath. Stefanie grew suspicious, and moved to the side to cast a divination, but Bulgan followed her. in the midst of her spell, the bloodhound suddenly transformed into a horrific giant babboon-like creature, which proceeded (and succeeded) to chew her face off.

Noltus suddenly vanished, and the band of lizardfolk set upon each other - with Rissashtak looking horrified and confused in their midst. It appeared 'Noltus' and his band of lizardkin had used some power to shapeshift, and were in fact a demonic party from the island on the plateau. A drawn out battle ensued, which left only Rissashtak from the warband standing. Stefanie's death was a blow to the party, and they decided to return to Sasserine to have her raised. Rissashtak vowed vengeance on the skinwalkers and, picking up Noltus' weapon, asked to come with the party.

In Sasserine, Lady Silvermane/Gwynwharwf brought Stefanie back whilst Mendel sought out Aloyisus to have some goods fenced on the party's behalf. The party then returned to the plateau to explore the island. From the shores, they could see an entrance built into the cliffs on the western face of the island, looking like some ancient temple. The water around the entrance was interspersed with floating pontoons. The party decided to fly over the lake and into the jungle behind the cliffs. The thick vegetation here showed little signs of habitation, bar some ancient abandoned ziggurats and other more tumbledown stone structures. The party encountered another band of skinwalkers on the trail, which they dispatched, and made preparations to explore the island further.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Savage Tide Session 30

Before the party left for Sasserine, Manthalay Meravanchi asked for a letter to be delivered to an Emil Draskus in Shadowshore district of the city. In return for a letter of introduction to Zasker Grankus, a former mercenary that now runs the arena in Sasserine, Mendel agreed to deliver the letter. Dacien collected the group, and then teleported them all to the docks of the city. Most of the party had shopping on their minds, and set about equipping themselves for the expedition to the centre of the Isle of Dread. Mendel visited the temple to Asterius to speak with the head cleric, Lirali Woarali, about his investments. As Mendel entered, Lirali quickly ushered him to one side, and gave him a warning - assassins had been hired to track down and kill Mendel and Zhedd! The order had come out from the Taskerhill family, in retaliation for the death of their child to some archer bushes that Mendel and Zhedd had been responsible for planting in their gardens - itself, a retaliation for some underhand business practices in the logging industry. Lord Taskerhill was also financially backed by the Kellani family, who still bore malice to the party for their part in the death of their daughter Rowyn in the Lotus Dragon affair. Lirali had instructed city residents faithful to the church not to pursue the bounty, but knew there were plenty of local Hinterlanders desperate for coin that would take their place. Before Mendel left, Lirali also offered to have the not to Emil Draskus delivered - warning Mendel that Emil was the less-than-reputable lord of the Shadowshore district, and that little good could come from a partnership between Mathanlay and Emil.

The rest of the party shopped for their goods - finding the magic items they were after, but not the rarer materials, which seemed to only be available to those with the right connections or who could pull in the right favours. Zhedd visited the Witchwardens, who still harangued him about the missing sample topi zombie they had requested from his adventures on the isle of Dread. With a warning that membership was not to be taken lightly, Zhedd sought to rejoin the others. Mendel and Stefanie visited the arena, and with the letter of introduction, met with Zasker Grankus. Initially distracted and blunt, he soon came round to the idea of large specimens form the Isle of Dread being put on as spectacles in the arena. He offered to reward them for any creatures they brought back, even aquatic ones where the arena could be flooded for the entertainment of the crowd.

When the party rendezvoused in the evening, Mendel passed on the warning about the assassins. The next morning, the party went together to visit the Church of the Whirling Fury and Lady Silvermane.The silver chains that barred the strange building melted away as they approached, and the doors swung open. The interior was largely bare, and Lady Silvermane stood in its centre. As the  partystarted to fill her in on events on the island, particularly what they had found in the aboleth city and the kopru's plans, she paled and bade them silence. A portal opened in front of them, and she ushered them through. The party emerged into a giant forest full of lush foliage, on a plane that Dacien assumed was aligned with Brynn - the plane closest aligned to the Sphere of Matter. Lady Silvermane revealed that she was in fact an exalted celestial creature called Gwynharwyf, and Lady Silvermane was a mortal identity or avatar she had created for herself. This allowed her to pursue her goals, following the immortals Djaea and Khoronus in protecting Mystara from interference of immortals, but also keeping a wary eye out for signs of Outer Beings making incursions into the Prime plane that might threaten all of creation. Gwynharwyf also alluded to a long, bitter enmity with Demogorgon that meant she was especially interested in the activityies of the kopru on the island. She asked the party to return to the aboleth city to confront Rakis-Ka and ensure the safety of the artefact there so that the dark secrets of the aboleth, themselves servitors of the outer beings, could not be reclaimed. The party also mentioned the strange stone flask they had found, emblazoned with the insignia of both Djaea and Khornous - their turned out to be an artefact sacred to the Church of the Whirling Fury that allowed drinkers to rethink or re-imagine choices they had made  in their life - much as Djaea herself mulled and agonised over every decision. The party gave Gwynharwyf the flask, and in return, she used some of her celestial power to infuse Mendel's bow with holy energy. The party left, promising to return to inform Gwynharwyf/Lady Silvermane of what they found on the central plateau, and just what Demogorgon's plans might be.

The party then made their was back under the Isle of Dread to the aboleth city. The shimmering blue curtain that held back the water was not in the chamber where they last found it - but in the corridor a mile or so further on. In the cavern itself, they found Rakis-Ka by the artefact, larger than before, and glowing with a crackling blue light. They party had carefully prepared themselves, and through a combination of  resisting the barrage of spells, and battering through his defences, managed to cut Rakis-Ka down, resulting in a large explosion of arcane energy. Amongst his belongings they found some detailed mathematical theorems on the nature of the universe which could provide incredible knowledge and insight - but Rakis-Ka's last words that he 'would still destroy them all' hung in the air.

Over the next couple of days the party made their way to the surface and then used Stefanie's air walk spells to whisk them to the plateau. The climate here was much cooler, and the air filled with drizzling rain. They landed at the lip of a grassy plain, and could see forests in the distance to the south. heading  in that direction, Zhedd spotted a treant uproot itself and head away. Hurrying forward, Zhedd questioned the treant about what was happening on the plateau, but it had little insight - save that there was a village of humans by a lake in the centre, and he had heard the screams of his brothers from an island in the middle of that lake. Dacien decided to summon a shelter so the party could rest and investigate in the morning.