Friday, December 14, 2012

Westmist Session # 28 - Looking for a Book

While Kern recovered from his ordeal in the Breeding Pits of Yg, Riley rallied Eirjay (with Foxy the Wardog) and Darnorth to delve again into Stonehell in search of the Cobra Codex. Reasoning the best place to start would be in the temple of Yg on the second level, the party entered through Slate’s secret entrance and worked their way through the old hobgoblin lair. Along the way, they encountered a band of gnolls hunting giant toads, whom Erijay convinced to let the party pass without incident. Heading into one unexplored section, they discovered an old food storage room and a second dank and wet room containing a gut churning stench. Darnorth decided to hold his breath and enter, taking a quick look around before having to take in a gulp of the foul air. He immediately felt extremely nauseous and collapsed to the floor. Erijay and Darnoth pulled him out and the dwarf soon recovered, but they began to plot a better way to see what was in the room. Taking Darnorth’s ball of string, they soaked it in oil and used it to run a fuse into the gassy room. Lighting one end, the party sheltered in the storage room, and moments later the burning fuse ignited the gas with a massive explosion.  Waiting a few minutes, the party entered the room, noting a lingering odor mixed with the burning smell. Searching for a short time (and finding nothing of note), they noticed the stench building up again. Surmising that it must be entering through some unseen cracks, they wisely choose to turn elsewhere to explore.

Encountering the gnolls again (now settled down to a meal of giant toad and in no mood to talk), the party moved into the old lizardfolk lair. Of note here was the discovery of a new cave off the mound chamber; a cave which everyone swore had not been there before.  Exploration of it didn’t reveal much, except a curious giant frog who Erijay distracted by tossing it food. They also noted that the mud on the floor appeared ‘new’ and undisturbed, unlike that in the rest of the cave system where it had been well trampled by countless feet.  The party checked one last unexplored chamber in the temple area, a chamber with walls covered in frescos of giant serpents devouring human sacrifices, the roof supported by two pillars carved as giant snakes and ending in a collapsed tunnel.  Here, Riley called on the mighty Habuu to help him locate the Cobra Codex. The cleric did not, however, sense the presence of the tome in this area. Stymied in the search here, the trio decided to head west into some additional unexplored spaces. 

On the way, they felt the characteristic rumble that indicated the nearby elevator room was in motion. Heading there at top speed, they arrived at what was once a dead end hallway, but which now contained a new room. On the north wall was a massive brass lever in the ‘up’ position.   Cautiously, Darnorth pulled it down slightly and the room sank a few feet. Slowly pulling the lever, the room sank further and the door they entered disappeared, only to be replaced in a few minutes by another entrance on a (presumably) lower level. Stepping out into the short hallway, Erijay started examining the walls, looking for some way to summon the elevator from the outside. At the same time Riley spiked to lever to hold it in position, to make sure the elevator didn’t ‘wander’ off. Darnorth stood watch, a good thing as four flying shapes now descended on the party from the room into which the hallway opened. The stone skinned beasts, with bat wings and fearsome claws and horns, tore into the party with their attacks. While the party was able to hold them off for awhile, the gargoyles soon started inflicting significant hurt. Deciding to make a run for it, Riley ran back into the elevator to wrench out the spikes and get back to the second level. Darnorth and Erijay tried to fend off the fiends, but one slipped by and took out the cleric with a fearsome claw. Luckily, Riley was able to get the spikes out and the elevator in motion, and Erijay and Darnorth were able to keep the remaining gargoyles at bay. As the elevator room rose and blocked off the door, the elf and dwarf turned their weapons on the gargoyle left in the room with them, and successfully destroyed it before the room stopped on the second level.  Having time now to tend to their comrade, they noted Riley still lived, so they bound his wounds and headed back to Westmist.  But only after Darnorth snapped off the gargoyles’ horn for a souvenir. 

After a few weeks rest, Riley was eager to again look for the Codex. Taking a different route this time, the party headed through the first level and down the stairs to the section where the strange people and evil fairies had been encountered previously. They were immediately stopped in their tracks by a new wall that had not been there on their last visit. So they did the next best thing, which was smash open a nearby door. Inside were four of the odd men, who were apparently unimpressed with the party’s manners and made moves to attack. Trying to avoid a fight, Riley pulled the door shut, but the men continued to try opening it while at the same time howling and screaming at the top of their lungs.  Accepting they had to fight, Riley released the door and the men poured into the corridor, only to fall quickly to the party’s blades.  A search of the room found nothing of interest, so next stop was the baboon room again. This time, the baboons were calmer, grooming and resting rather than fighting and eating. Riley dragged a couple of corpses along with him and tossed them in the rooms with the baboons. The primates fell on the bodies with glee, allowing the party to pass through the room and though the door on the other side. Alas, this room appeared to be a baboon midden, with an awful stench of baboon feces and urine. Deciding to leave well enough alone, they left the baboons to their gruesome feat and moved on.

In their attempt to get around the new wall, the party decided to try going through the room with the ragtag band encountered some weeks before. Darnorth, hoping to again distract them with shinny stuff, tossed a handful of coppers in the far corner of the room. Nonplussed, the ragged warriors fell on the party, likely aroused by the howling of their fallen comrades. A fierce fight was joined, with blows falling on both sides, and Foxy in particular eviscerating more than a few of their attackers. Darnorth was getting badly pummeled, a situation that only got worse when the door on the opposite wall opened and there emerged a massive warrior clad in chainmail and shield. He also fell upon the dwarf, and the unfortunate Darnorth fell to the blows of the crazed men just before Erijay, Riley and Foxy finished off the last of them.   

Checking first to see that there was nothing immediate that could be done for Darnorth, Riley and Eirjay searched the room from which the armored warrior had emerged. In there, they found a pile of rags and furs (apparently serving as a bed) and a huge multicolored box. Cautiously, Erijay opened the lid and out popped a puppet head on a spring! Puzzled, she looked inside to find a treasure of silver and copper coin, plus a single potion vial. The elf loaded up on coins, and then closed the lid and covered the box with the furs and rags. Riley picked up the fallen dwarf, and so the party returned again to Westmist.
Back in town, a trip to Synthtini identified the potion as another potion of giant strength. Then there was the familiar trip to the Temple, for an audience with the Highest Virtue to have their fallen comrade raised. Despite Riley’s frantic signaling to keep quiet, Erijay took the opportunity to ask the senior cleric about Malfreces.  Liphanes took the question with better grace than his Under Virtue had, but still refused to give details, stating only that the matter was closed. And the Highest Virtue made it clear than Riley was still welcome at the Temple, regardless of the treatment he had received from some of the lower ranks.

Leaving the many chinned churchman, and depositing the weakened Darnorth back at the house for Riker to look after, Riley and Erijay starting asking around town about other parties exploring Stonehell. They tracked down one party at the Stone Maiden tavern, a pair of lady adventurers and their women-at-arms. The scantily clad leader Orwyne, and Trinsa the moody fighter, were reluctant to offer much information. Riley questioned them about the Cobra Codex, and the evasive answers he received made his suspicious. So he excused himself to the outhouse out back, and cast locate again, thinking the pair had the book. But alas, they did not. The pair warmed up a bit after Erijay offered copies of some of their Stonehell maps, and agreed to consider a joint expedition to the dungeon in the future.

Meanwhile, the March Baron dismissed his peasant levies to their homes and farms for the winter, and similarly paid off many of the mercenaries gathered in Westmist. Whether he was broke, confident there would be no action from the hobgoblins in the winter, or if there was some other explanation, none in the town knew. Lord Merdwyn was still in no mood to talk.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Westmist Session #27 - The Charm of Snaking

After a couple of days resting, gathering supplies and planning, the party was once more ready to risk a decent into the Breeding Pits of Yg to confront the snake abomination and loot the treasure. Kern (with Cal and Norm and Sweet Jenny), Erijay (with Foxy the WarDog) and Riley headed downriver in the morning mist. Darnorth, his fears of snakes heightened by their last expedition, choose to stay behind and instead handed over his boots of levitation to the party as his contribution.

An uneventful boat ride and a march overland found them once more outside the fane over the Breeding Pits of Yg. An initial survey showed nothing new in the upper works, so the party headed straight for the well. There, the sounds of hissing could be heard from the pits below. As a first step, Riley silenced Kern, who then donned the boots and descended into the cavern, finding it much like it was before. He dropped the cool stone (recovered from the hobgoblins) at the northern edge of the snake cavern, which drove the writhing serpents away from that particular area. He also dropped a series of torches around the cavern which likewise drove the snakes away. Levitating back up, Kern grabbed one end of the rope ladder (secured to the floor of the fane by Riley and Eirjay) and carried it down to the cavern floor, securing it there with some iron spikes. The vibration attracted a few snakes, but Kern was able to avoid them. The rest of the party (minus Sweet Jenny and Foxy who were left above) headed down the ladder to the cavern. Erijay drank her potion of levitation, hoping to take the easy way down, only to find it did nothing at all. 

With everyone now safely below, preparation for the assault began. Riley called on Habuu to bless the party, and Erijay drank her potion of giant strength (which thankfully worked) and picked up a few loose boulders to hurl at the snake creature. Kern and Erijay, cloaked in silence, snuck forward to peek into the creatures lair with a mirror, finding the great serpent-thing resting on its mound of offal and treasure. Gathering the rest of the party, they turned the corner and began their assault. As the beast moved to confront them, a hail of arrows (and a boulder from the strengthened Erijay) battered the creature badly. But then, things began to go badly for the party. The man-serpent turned its cold gaze on Erijay, charming her into submission. While the rest of the party attacked, she tried to get between them and the creature, protecting her new scaly comrade. After next attacking the henchmen, the creature next turned its gaze on Riley, attracted by the eyes of the viper the cleric wore. He too fell under the creatures spell, and likewise interposed himself between the two warring sides.

At this point, Kern, Cal and Norm retreated rather than fight their two charmed comrades. While they watched and planned, the badly wounded serpent crawled back onto the mound to rest and recover, while Erijay and Riley tried their best to help. Meanwhile, Kern prepared to sneak around behind the beast and backstab. Using pantomime and writing (as he was still silenced) he let Cal and Norm know they should charge in and attack as soon as they see him strike, whatever the consequences may be. Kern easily made it behind the beast, but had forgotten Erijay and Riley’s infravision. They spied him and roused the creature, who turned on Kern and with a deadly poisoned bite, slayed the merchant. While Norm obeyed orders and charged in to attack, Cal was disheartened by the sight of Kern’s fall, and turned and fled the cavern. Only to run into the snakes in the outer cavern and die to their venom.  Riley now found himself torn between his new friend and old. Grabbing the fallen Kern, he tried to carry him away to seek help. But at this point the snake creature turned on him and attacked the cleric to stop him. That was enough to break the charm, and Riley saw the vile creature for what it was. Erijay likewise threw off its mental hold and turned again on the man-serpent. It quickly fell to the now reunited party, the faithful Norm landing the killing blow with a cry of “for Kern!”.

Laying Kern aside for now, the remaining three began gathering coins and gems from the pile. This was loaded into sacks to be carried, by the still giant-strength Erijay, back to the surface.  The elf likewise claimed the longsword stuck in the pile. It had a hilt and crossguard formed of two intertwined snakes, and a snake engraved the length of the blade (this was later found to be a longsword +1). While Norm stood rear guard, Riley and Erijay carried the treasure (and Kern and Cal’s bodies) up the ladder. Which just barely held under the massive weight of the elf plus the 600lbs of treasure she carried.  The elf’s potion now wore off, so they loaded down Sweet Jenny (who luckily had not wandered off or been eaten by anything) with treasure and Kern’s body, while Erijay and Riley carried more coin and Norm carried his fallen comrade Cal. Before leaving, they stuffed the remaining treasure they could not carry into sacks and suspected in the well, for possible recovery latter.

After a hard march through the marsh and a night of rowing back to Westmist, the party slipped into town at dawn the next day. Heading first to the Temple of the Three Virtues to have Kern raised (again), Riley also made an additional offering and told the tale of their great deeds against the evil Yg, hoping to get back into the Under Virtues favor.  Alas, it was seen more as boasting and sucking up, and Riley remained the black sheep of his order.  From his recovery bed, Kern arranged a funeral ceremony and  feast for the fallen Cal, which particularly impressed and comforted his remaining henchman. Erijay and Riley meanwhile exchanged the recovered gems for coin. Except for the one star ruby they found, which they instead tried in the gate in the cellar. With four of six slots filled with star rubies, the view through the gate was starting to clear, showing a verdant green forest or jungle on the other side.

Meanwhile, the March Baron arrived back in Westmist, at the head of a shattered army.  He had led his force into the Unknown Lands to harass the hobgoblins, only to decimate it in assaults on the hobgoblin boat encampment on the upper reaches of the Great River.  While rumors and worry spread through the town, Lord Merdwyn retreated to his keep to brood over the defeat.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Westmist Session #26 - Snakes and Treasures

With Kern and Riley now recovered from their demises, the party turned their attention to hunting down the treasure of the Cult of Yg.  Asking around town and temple, they didn’t learn much more about the Cult or the “Breeding Pits of Yg” mentioned in the book. They did locate a pair of good ole boy giant toad hunters, Seth and Jongo, who knew where to find the hidden fane. They agreed to lead the party there for a suitable fee.  So Kern (with henchmen Norm and Cal, and Sweet Jenny the mule), Erijay (with dog Foxy), Riley, and Darnoth headed out to grub for treasure once more.

After an uneventful trip downriver in Kern’s folding boat, and a short march overland, Seth and Jongo dumped the party on a low hill and pointed them towards the small mist shrouded valley below. “Ya’ll find what you’re looking for down there. We ain’t going no further”. And at that they headed back to their own boat and left the party thankful that Riley had thought to mark their trail on the way in. So into the valley they descended, soon coming to a worn path of hexagonal snake inscribed tiles, which ended at a squat structure of cyclopean blocks with a pair of massive stone doors. The lintel over the door, supported by two columns carved as giant snakes, was inscribed “for he who slithers”. Carved on each door was a coiled snake. It would seem this was the right place.

Opening the massive portals, the party passed into the nave, stopping briefly to examine an old fountain before pressing forward through the pews and into the crossing. Here they found a cobra statue with mouth open wide. When Darnorth looked inside, he spied to gilt of gold. Suspecting a trap, Riley’s solution was to bash off the head of the statue to access to treasure inside. A good idea, as the mouth was found to be spring loaded and razor sharp when examined by Kern. Once the party had scooped up the gold and platinum coins, they entered the nave and found a well, behind which stood an altar. Beyond in the semidarkness could be seen a statue.  From the well came reptilian odors of rot and decay, as well as a cacophony of hissing. By probing with rope and poles, the party found the well was at least 50’ deep and was wet at the bottom. On the altar was a silver cloth, embroidered with coiled snakes. Carved on front of the altar was a triptych of three different snake creatures. These were a great snake like creature with catfish-like tentacles around its face; another snake with the head of a man, and the third a humanoid with the head of a cobra and tentacles or snakes tails in place of the lower body. Moving deeper into the nave, they found a massive 20’ tall statue of the man-serpent seen on the altar. Darnorth, using his boots of levitation, floated up to examine the statue and discovered two dark gems for eyes. Pausing briefly to consider the wisdom of removing them, greed soon overcame caution and he plucked them from the statues head with no apparent ill effect.

Having examined the fane from north to south, the party next moved east to examine one of the transepts. Here in the unnatural cold and darkness, they found a stone alter, on which sat a small statue of the great snake creature. This creature was crushing bodies in its coils and others hung from its maw. Checking the west transept, a similar alter was found, this one with a statue of the snake-humanoid. In front stood a stone stand and bowl, filled with a viscous black liquid. Erijay cautiously prodded this with her 10’ pole, at which point the liquid rose from the bowl and lashed out at the elf with a pseudopod-like limb. The rest of the party rushed in with weapons swinging to help the elf, only to find their blows did nothing more then split the creature into smaller versions that continued to attack. Kern and his henchmen started running back and forth to pull more flasks off Sweet Jenny, which were then rushed them forward to the front line to hurl at the creatures. These were eventually defeated by this judicious use of oil and torches. 

After briefly checking around the altar for secret doors and compartments, the party opened a door passed earlier in the nave and found a set of stairs heading down. The odor of rot, decay and reptile was getting stronger here. Exploring the first few rooms, they found robes woven in a snake scale pattern similar to that found on the prayer mats in Stonehell. In the same rooms were some boxes of sickly looking green incense, oddly shaped musical horns, and a shelf of decaying books detailing the rituals of the Cult of Yg.  In one book, Erijay found reference to an item called the Cobra Codex. This tome gave the wielder power over serpents, and it seemed to be located somewhere in the old temples of Yg in Stonehell. Likewise, Darnorth recovered a small ebony tablet, inscribed in red with a series of short prayers of epitaphs to Yg.   

Moving on, the party explored a few monastic cells before entering a room that showed frescos of strange half man – half snake creatures wrapping bodies in linens, and then carrying them through a door. Looking around the room, they realized the door pictured in the frescos was on the opposite wall, bared shut on their side by a massive wooden beam. With great boldness, Kern had his henchmen lift the bar out of the brackets, and the door was opened. Inside, the smell of decay was mixed with that of spice. Along all the walls were small fired clay plaques, carved with an ouroboros. They did not have long to look, however, as two of the plaques were pushed to the floor and a pair of frightful mummies emerged to attack the party.  In the fight than ensued, the party dealt quickly with the undead, but both Erijay and Riley felt the chilling touch of the creatures from beyond the grave. Riley in fact found himself with some horrid rotting disease which resisted all his clerical skill at healing. None the less, he bravely chose to push on with the exploration. First order was to search the rest of the niches, but no undead or treasures were uncovered. After next examining some sort of ruined lounge, the party found themselves in front of a pair of massive locked bronze doors covered in verdigris. Listening carefully, Kern could hear hissing on the other side.  Hoping to avoid further poisonings, Erijay suggested a course of flaming oil under the door, a plan quickly endorsed and put into action. Once the flames had died down and doors cooled, Kern tried his luck at the lock. Alas, it was beyond his skill, and instead Erijay used here newly learned knock spell to open the portal.

On the other side, the short (and now fire blackened) corridor ended in a portcullis. Beyond could be seen a large cavern. Most of the cavern was filled with a pool of water, with a rocky islet in the middle. All of it was covered in snakes, hundreds of them, including at least two giant marsh snakes. Overhead could be seen the opening of the well in the nave. Not keen on crossing through the slithering masses before the, they party first tried a combination of an unholy symbol of Yg, prayers and incense to control the serpents. When this proved futile, Darnorth instead used his boots to levitate to the top of the cavern. Pulling himself along the roof, the dwarf found several side caverns.  These contained more snakes, and one had an odd statue of a rat. One side exit, the largest, was unusual in that the filth and debris found everywhere else appeared to be missing from here. The dwarf entered here carefully, slowly proceeding deeper until forced to pass through a relatively narrow opening. On the other side, he was confronted by a creature that looked like the great statue in the nave above; a huge serpent with the head of a man, sitting on a mound of bone, filt and glittering treasure. The creature uncoiled and rose up so its unblinking gaze met that of the dwarf. Darnorth, shaking off a powerful urge to stay, turned and fled back to meet the rest of the group as fast as his arms could drag him. But not before the abomination took a bite out of the dwarfs behind.

Nervous about confronting all these scaly foes at this point, the party elected to return to Westmist to rest, refit and plan. And to have the rot on Riley’s arm looked after.  After quickly dealing with a wandering band of lizardfolk, they unfolded the boat and embarked to head back to town. There, Riley had the mummy’s curse removed at the temple while everyone else started to prepare for their return to the Breeding Pits of Yg.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Westmist Session #25 - What the Heck Was That All About?

While Riley lay in bed recovering, Kern and Erijay decided to delve once more into Stonehell to try their luck. This time they were joined by the burly fighter Edward, and Kern also picked up a pair of henchmen fighters, Cal and Norm. And, of course, Foxy the dog and Sweet Jenny the mule were there to round out the party. After some debate, they chose to revisit the areas west of the hobgoblin and lizardfolk lairs, where they first entered the second level of Stonehell so long ago.

First stop was a room full of hooting higher baboons. Seeing nothing of interested in the filth and feces , they left  the primates to fight over whatever meal they had before them. Moving on, Kern triggered a spear trap as they approached a four way intersection, which luckily both he and Erijay were able to dodge. At the intersection, Kern scouted ahead and observed a light to the west. Going that way, the party first passed below a dry well from the upper level, which proved to be the location Turrick had been lowered down many moons ago. After cutting down the suspended tarp and collecting the handful of coppers on it, the party moved forward and entered a room where a dozen men and women, dressed in ragged clothes and equip with a mad selection of cast off armor and weapons, awaited them. These were not at all acting normally, talking to themselves and imaginary others, staring in a catatonic state and other odd behaviors. Kern was able to convince them to let the party pass in return for a handful of copper pieces, and the party moved down a corridor running north. Here they found a room with frescos of sunlit fields and pastoral scenes painted on the walls, with a small sack sitting in the dust in one corner. After much poking around, Kern eventually recovered the bag only to find it contained nothing but a selection of fingers. Disgusted, he dropped it all to the floor, but Edward thought to check the fingers again and at least recovered a nice gold ring for their trouble. At this point Cal, who had been watching their backs, called out that a small girl was standing in the corridor, just at the edge of his torchlight. They tried talking to her, and when Erijay came to investigate, she identified the girl as the one Turrick had scarred away on the upper level so long ago. The girl still would not speak, only shake or nod her head, and when they tried to approach her, ran away again. 

Rather than chase her back towards the other creepy people, the party moved on to new areas. Encountering more strange sights along the way (the return and departure again of the little girl, an overturned hobby horse, a room with an intricate labyrinth painted on the floor, a basket weaving room, and some sort of a therapy circle), they met their first big challenge when a pack of blood thirsty ghouls trapped them in the end of a corridor. With the party unable to deploy properly in the tight quarters, Erijay and Edward hard to face the full pack. Erijay was able to stand up against them with little to fear thanks  to her elven immunity, but Edward was soon hit and paralyzed.  While Kern and henchmen tried to fight back with a barrage of oil, Erijay decided to use her ward from undead scroll to hold the foul creatures back, and then cast a web to entangle all but one. The web and ghouls were then burned, which convinced the last ghoul to go looking for easier prey.

Pressing on, the party found a room with a pair of pools and a boiler for heating water. In one pool was found the parboiled remains of an elf dressed in armor and adventuring gear. Cautiously, Erijay stuck one finger in the murky water, which immediately boiled up to scald her.  Still determined to reach the body, she teamed up with the burly Edward to lever the body out using a pair of 10 foot poles. Searching the body uncovered some silver coins and a wand (which was later found to be a wand of magic detection). Leaving the pools behind, they next stopped at a door, on the other side of which Kern could here sounds of faint movement some overhead. Suspecting spiders, they decided to pour oil under the door and then light it on fire. After listening to the screams of some roasting creature, they waited for the door to cool and Kern then Edward opened the door while Kern cautiously peered in. He was not cautious enough, however, as a very charred giant black widow spider scuttled across the ceiling and dropped on the surprised merchant. Kern unfortunately felt the sting of the spiders poison, and he fell to the floor, joining the list of party members felled to venomous vermin. After the rest of the party finished off the spider, there was some debate about going back to Westmist right away to have the merchant raised. However, the party decided to push on ahead in the hopes of finding enough treasure to make the already deadly trip worthwhile (and maybe find enough to pay the temple bills). Cal and Norm readily agreed that their master would approve, although they were probably more worried about getting paid than anything else. The party was at least able to recover some gems from the charred remains of the spider’s lair.

Loading Kern’s body onto the loyal Sweet Jenny V, they explored some additional rooms and battled series of giant beetles. Additional creepy finds included the gnawed corpse of a gnoll hanging in a gibbet, odd paranoid inscriptions, several pointless traps (a gas bag behind a door, a magical flash of light) and a room cloaked in absolute silence and darkness. In one room they recovered the long dead body of a cleric of the mighty Habuu, which joined that of Kern on the mules back for the journey back to town. In addition to disturbing a crazed keg party, the party also broke into an alchemical laboratory of some sort. Here, they gathered a pile of glass bottles containing a range of liquids, oozes, dusts and herbs to haul back to town for Synthini to sort through to find the ‘good stuff’.  And back to town they now headed. First stop was Afflain the Fence to cash in their gems, and then it was off to the Temple of the Three Virtues. Here they were able to meet with the ugly Lanthan the Under Virtue, who was happy to see that the inquisitive Riley was absent , and that the party had returned the body of one of the temple’s fallen brothers from the depths of Stonehell. This was enough to get them in to see Liphanes of the Highest Virtue, and have Kern raised in return for a smaller than usual donation. With Kern deposited in bed to recover alongside Riley, the rest of the party used Erijay’s new wand to check the recovered treasure for magic. One of the bottles recovered was magical, and with help from Synthini they determined they now owned a potion of extra healing.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Westmist Session #24 - Why Does it Always Have to be Snakes?

Having vanquished the hobgoblins, the party’s next goal was to finish exploring the area around the lizardfolk lair. Erijay, Darnorth and Riley (accompanied by Erijays’ new dog, Foxy), entered Stonehell through the main entrance, and after dealing with a trio of crab spiders, found themselves back at the bottom of the spiral stairs. Heading north, they encountered an octagonal room, this one with a large four-headed cobra statue on a pillar in the centre. After a quick check of the doorway for traps, they examined the statue more closely, finding two 6 inch deep holes in the pillar just below the cobra. Placing several different objects in the holes to see what would happen proved unsuccessful. While caught up in examining the statue, the party was surprised by a pack of bright yellow and red giant frogs, which largely ignored the party and hopped through on their way elsewhere.

 Leaving the pillar and statue, the party headed out themselves (in the opposite direction). They explored a pair of rooms, fought some giant carnivorous flies, and liberated a pair of gems from a hobgoblin corpse. The next room encountered was an unusual storeroom, with a selection of tools such as rakes and brushes on 15’ poles and a portable winch and pulley system. Puzzling over the meaning of these items, the party continued east and was surprised to find a set of stairs going up. Thinking they were head back to the crypts, the party headed up cautiously, but  the stairs climbed only about 20 feet before opening into another room. This room, once opulently furnished with fine plush couches and divans (now ruined), and with statue-filled niches in the walls, was occupied by a band of heyna-headed humanoids pulling a sledge loaded with junk. While they stood with swords ready and growled at the party, the gnolls let them pass unmolested out the doorway in the opposite wall. 

Here, the party descended another set of stairs and ended up in a large room set with stone tables carved in the shape of great serpents. Also in the room was a band of lizardfolk, who moved to attack the party. Erijay tried a sleep spell on the scaly ones, but that dropped just one foe. The rest had to be taken care of the old fashioned way, with mace and sword and fangs.   While the fight was going on, another brightly coloured giant frog wandered into the fray, but stopped to feast on a fallen lizardfolk rather than get involved in the fight. After finishing the lizardfolk, they explored the eastern extension of the room, where they found a raised dais with another large cobra statue and a floor covered in prayers mats woven with a snake scale pattern. Also found was the freshly shed skin of a huge serpent, lying in the hallway that exited the room to the east.

Choosing to avoid the passage with the snake skin, the party headed south to connect up with the lizardfolk caves explored on previous expeditions. They then looped back to the west, fighting more carnivorous flies, and again attracting a single giant frog which stopped to eat the fallen insects. Leaving the frog to feast, another room was found which appeared to be an old barracks with sleeping mats on the floor.  Below one mat, Erijay discovered a hole containing a large sack. Pulling it out and opening it, the party found a pile of silver coins, a potion bottle and a curious wooden box. Riley carefully opened the box, to find inside a pair of crystal lenses sitting in the velvet lined interior.  Intrigued, they decided to head back to the four headed cobra statute to see if the lenses were related to it. First they explored a little further, encountering a blood spattered room familiar to Erijay from her earlier fall down a pit in the crypts.  Just beyond this, they encountered a room with the skeletal remains of some huge unidentifiable creature, and fought another swarm of carnivorous flies. After defeating the buzzing horrors, they picked through the skeletal remains and some decomposing corpses of hobgoblins, kobolds and men, to recover a bejeweled orb and necklace, a well as an earring and chain. They also noticed a raised balcony at the north end of the room, which according to their map was likely an extension of the room with the gnolls.

Back at the four headed cobra, they tried to fit the lenses in the holes, but they proved much too small to sit properly. Backtracking again, they decided to risk the hallway with the giant snake skin, finding two rooms. The first appeared to be the remains of a library or scriptorium, filled with webs. Cautiously, they looked up to see three giant black widow spiders crawling through the webs. Determined to explore the room, the party attacked, and this time Erijays’ sleep spell was successful in eliminating the crawly opposition. Clearing webs out of the way, they discovered most of the books had been destroyed by damp and mildew. One was relatively intact, and described the rituals and history of the cult of the Children of Yg, Father of Serpents. This section of the dungeon (as well as another on a lower level) formed a major centre in the cult, a cult that dated from times primordial and focused on the breeding and worship of great serpents and other abominations for the glory of Yg. The book also described how, when it became apparent the forces of law were about to invade the dungeon to wipe out the cult, their treasures were relocated to another location known as the Breeding Pits of Yg in the Marsh of Whispering Mists.  

Packing away the book for future reference, the party searched the next room, which appeared to have once been an expensively appointed private chamber. Of primary interest in this room was a large stone ring near the south wall, in the shape of a serpent with its tail clenched in its mouth. After cautiously examining this ouroboros, Riley placed the recently discovered lenses in his eyes to see if they revealed anything. While showing nothing different about the gate, he did find he now had the power of infravison, while Darnorth and Erijay noted his eyes had taken on a sinister, snake-like appearance.  Stymied, Darnorth pressed the serpents’ eye, which caused a shimmering green light to appear briefly within the gate before disappearing. While pondering this, Darnorth noted his back pack starting to move around, and a half dozen snakes burst out and tried to sink their fangs into the dwarf. He was able to drop the pack before they could connect, and the party proceeded to slay more serpents. But alas, not before the brave Riley was bitten and succumbed to the poison. That brought an end to the exploration, as Erijay and Darnorth gathered up their fallen comrade and headed back to town to get help in bringing the cleric back from the dead. Incidentally, Darnoth noted he was now missing 6 torches when he repacked his backpack. 

Back in Westmist, Erijay and Darnorth first visited Aflain the Fence to cash in their newly acquired jewels to raise cash to raise Riley. Then off to the Temple of the Three Virtues to first meet with the grotesquely ugly Lanthan the Undervirtue. He arranged an audience with the Highest Virtue, and the fallen Riley was brought back from the dead in return for a modest donation to the faith. While they were there, the party took the time to question Lanthan about the cult of Yg, and he gladly and chattily confirmed and expanded on much of the information found in the book. Riley then asked about Malfreces, at which point the Undervirtues’ mood changed dramatically and he brushed off the question. When Riley asked again, Lanthan brusquely informed the cleric the matter was not open for discussion and terminated the interview. All of which left Riley which much to consider while he recovered from the effects of his trip to the great beyond.