Sunday, March 31, 2013

Westmist Session #39 - Gargoyles and Information

Regrouping back in town, the first order of business for most of the party was healing their hurts. Followed quickly by a trip to Synthini to place an order for anti-venom. Thus prepared, Riley (and Gurruk plus wolves), Darnorth and Erijay (and Fin the new War Dog) headed back to Stonehell. With Kern, Bjorn and Turrick off on other business, the party didn’t feel up to tackling the strange temple again. Instead, they decided to search the third level for the stairway the of which the kobolds had spoken. One that descended straight down to the trolls level. Passing through the old hobgoblin fortress, they ran once more into Lachesis and her two henchogres. Asked what her business was in the area, the lady coyly answered she was simply meeting with some of her clients. She asked the party the same, particularly how well their search for Duncal was proceeding.  So Riley filled her in on all their actions and plans thus far. At which the lady and the ogres left, off to attend to their own business.

Descending to the third level, the party passed the still unlocked double doors and headed north. Passing areas previously explored, they entered large room with empty bookshelves and a lectern. On the floor lay a mosaic map of the known world, with a number of points connected by lines. Of interest to the party, one of these points lay to the west near the ruins of Mor. Erijay overturned the lectern, finding in the hollow base a plain ring hanging from a silver chain. Pocketing it, she next stepped into an alcove on the opposite side of the lectern, only to find herself falling through the floor and into a heap of hurt at the bottom of a 20’ deep pit. The elf maid cried out for help, which caused no end of confusion to the rest of the party as they couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from. Eventually, Darnorth, using his dwarven underground construction logic,  figured out that it was emanating from the alcove. By trial and error he and Riley discovered the floor was an illusion covering a pit, and so lowered a rope to bring Erijay back to the surface.
Taking a route north, next stop was a ruined sitting room with a large planter in the centre. Darnorth dug eagerly in the dirt, uncovering a wooden box. Thinking this is where Kern would come in handy, the dwarf carefully opened the box, ensuring that the lid pointed away from him. Luckily, nothing happened, except the discovery of a pile of gold and silver coins inside. Dividing up their find, the party was about to leave when they saw a band of bugbears approach down a narrow 5’ wide corridor that ran north. Fighting in tight quarters, two of the bugbears were slain, and the rest fled back the way they came. Stopping momentarily to loot the bodies, the party cautiously crept up the corridor, shortly emerging into a hallway of more typical dimensions. Kicking open a door on one wall, they ran into a band of the strange half mechanical baboons encountered on a previous trip. Remembering these were no easy pushovers, the door was promptly closed and spiked shut (with two spikes just to be sure). 

Following the corridor north and east, the party soon realized they were approaching the elevator from level two. And then remembered the gargoyles that guarded said elevator on this level. Which memory was reinforced by the appearance of three of the flying fiends who tore into the lead rank of Erijay and Darnorth. A brutal fight ensued, with the elf and dwarf being slashed and torn by the stony creatures. The two fought valiantly, while the others in the rear ranks could only watch. Except for Riley dispensing cure spells to keep the two demihumans alive. One gargoyle was slain by Erijay’s constricting sword, and the other two fell to the combined swords of dwarf and elf. But not before the two were brought to within inches of death.
With their heavy hitters exhausted, the party headed back to Westmist. Passing once more through the old hobgoblin lair, they encountered a lone hobgoblin. He was sitting on the ground, polearm over  his knees and head in hands. Startled by the party, he jumped up and took a defensive stance. The party started to question him, while Erijay quietly cast ESP to see what she could glean from the creatures mind. After some persuasion involving the flat of a sword, the hobgoblin told them his name was Ur’uk, and was a survivor of the Century wiped out by the party here in Stonehell. He was loyally biding his time until his comrades would return, and was very wary of the party. With further offers of food and gold, the party seemed to win him over to aid them. Erijay, however, knew from her spell that the hobgoblin was bluffing and would take the gold and run at the first chance. When told of this, Riley dealt with the matter exactly as Habuu would expect; a quick beheading.

Once back in town and tidied up, they all headed to the Temple of the Three Virtues. Riley thought to ask if it was possible to recharge the now depleted Rod of Narissa. He managed to get an audience with Liphanes of the Highest Virtue, who greeted the cleric and his companions formally if not warmly. Riley then slowly played out the story of the Rod, and the corpulent churchman’s eyes widened when he realized the party had in their possession such an important artifact.  Liphanes made it known that he would not force Riley to give up the Rod, but the church would look favorably on him if he choose to donate it of his own free will. Figuring it was now of little use to the party, Riley turned it over to the Highest Virtue. In return, the cleric was promised he would always be able to access raise dead at the temple for free, and his companions would get a deep discount on the expected donation for the same service (now only 1000gp).  Riley also asked about his treatment at the hands of Lanthan, and was assured that the Undervirtue had been spoken to and Riley could expect nothing but a full welcome at the Temple. Before leaving the presence of the Highest Virtue, Erijay asked about the map they had seen with the lines. She was told they showed ley lines, lines that connected locations of great magical power.
Next stop was Westmist Keep to see the Baron, with Erijay again casting her ESP spell to try to figure out what’s really going on. Shown to a side building in the outer bailey, the party cooled their heels some time until Borphus the  Outer Bailey Bailiff appeared, accompanied by two men-at-arms lugging a midsized chest. Borphus regretted to inform the party that Lord Merdwyn was not immediately available, but had sent him to deliver the party’s reward (1500gp).  Borphus likewise informed them that additional reward would be provided once the current invasion crisis was averted. It was also Lord Merdwyn’s request that the party not speak of the mission they performed on his behalf, and especially to not tell anyone that it had been a success. All through this, Erijay learned nothing new with her spell, as the Outer Ward Bailiff appeared to know nothing beyond his immediate duty.

Last stop for the day was The Black Nobel Nymph to find Bazzrel and pump him for information on the Iza’Ka. The Flying Mage couldn’t offer much information, stating only that the race were known to be mighty sorcerers from ancient times. And were believed by many to be more legend than fact. Darnorth then presented the strange metal tube he recovered from Mor to the mage to ask his opinion of it. Bazzrel was much intrigued by the strange device, but could offer no immediate help identifying it. He did offer to take it and investigate it further, to which the dwarf agreed.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Westmist Sessions #38 - Oh the Pain!

Taking a day to recover from their travels and clean off the dust and grime of the road, Riley (with Gurruk), Darnorth, Erijay, and Kern (with Bjorn) headed to Westmist Keep to present themselves to the March Baron, and report the success of their mission. Upon arrival, they were quickly led into a small chamber off the main hall, and in short order Lord Merdwyn arrived with a pair of his retainers. While first somewhat surprised to see them, he listened intently to their story, and graciously accepted the head of "He Who Walks in Metal" and the red leather portfolio that contained the information incriminating the Earl of Neth. The March Baron expressed his gratitude, but regretted to inform the party that at this time he had no reward to give them, as resources were short given the military preparations underway. A reward had been promised, however, so a reward would be provided in due time.

A little miffed at their treatment, the party prepared to follow-up on the story they heard from Sir Janus, that Duncal, heir of the previous March Baron, still lived and was to be found in the depths of Stonehell. They discussed their plans with an increasingly skeptical Hafus (Sir Janus' man), who slipped out of the city that night to carry news to Sir Janus. Then it was back to Stonehell, in particular to find Lachesis and get information from her about Duncal. And so Kern could present her with the dresses he had had made for the veiled lady. Lachesis was quite touched by the gesture, but unfortunately could not offer any information on Duncal. She did agree to find out what she could (for a suitable fee), and so the group trudged back to town to cool their heels for a week before heading back for another conference with the spy mistress. This time leading Sweet Jenny laden with gold. Delayed slightly by a group of spitting beetles, they found Lachesis in conference with a slim elf. Introduced as Theosis, the elf eyed the party with a combination of fear, loathing and curiosity, before being led away by Rufus and Tusk.  Lachesis, waving off questions about the elf, told the party she'd learned that Duncal was a slave of the mountain trolls deeper in the dungeon. While she could tell little else, she could confirm that he did still live and was in reasonable good health.

Paying the lady her fee, the party headed down the only stairs they knew of to the next lower, and found themselves in large chamber with a sand filled fountain in the centre. As they approached, a scurrying sound brought three gigantic scorpions to face them and a fierce melee ensued. While the fight was soon ended in the party's favour, Erijay was struck by one of their venomous tails and met a poisonous end. Riley used the Rod of Narissa to bring the unfortunate elf back to the land of the living, but was distressed to see most of the gems remaining on the Rod go dim. That taken care of, the party decided to go west into unworked caverns. In short order, they encountered a four way intersection containing a small band of kobolds. These were at first reluctant to talk; it seemed some of the dungeon factions were starting to grumble about the kobolds getting too cosy with the 'outsiders'.  This chill was broken by offers of surface food and news that the scorpions were dead, allowing easier travel up and down the stairs for the little dog-men. Pumping the kobolds for information, the party learned the general direction to a route down to the trolls' level. They also learned that the level they were currently on was occupied by the "Gentleman Ghouls, ogres, and berserkers.

Waving the kobolds on their way, the party continued west. Here they crossed a bridge of worked stone that spanned a crevasse filled with a rolling purple mist. Reaching the other side without interference, they now found themselves in a large chamber. The walls and ceiling were of jagged red-black stone, and old bloodstains were evident on all surfaces. At the far side of the chamber lay a pair of double doors, embossed with a scourge ending in serrated blades. Immediately uneasy here, Kern carefully examined the door for traps. He sensed something was amiss, but couldn’t find any mechanical trap. Taking care to not touch the door, he picked the lock, and then stood back while Riley threw a dead giant scorpion at the doors to open them. Unfortunately, the arachnid battering ram didn’t work, as the doors were barred from the inside.  Instead, Erijay and Darnorth used a sword and brute strength to lift the bar out of it’s brackets, and then carefully pushed the doors open with a 10’ pole. 

Inside was a foyer decorated with frescos of a variety of races and beings under torture. Ahead an iron rail could be seen, which marked the edge of a balcony surrounding a large room below. A pair of staircases led to the floor of the room. Choosing to not descend just yet, the party moved around one side of the balcony. From there they could see the floor was covered in skeletal remains, and a blue black stone alter stood below them. Darnorth used his boots of levitation to descend towards the alter, but was immediately set upon by four incorporeal, shadowy figures. Fighting madly, he lured them back to the balcony so the rest of the party could join in the battle. The beings were defeated, but not before many of the party had been struck and had their strength temporarily drained by the chilling touch.

Figuring now the room would be safe, the party descended to the bone covered floor. Before they could investigate further, however, a sound of moving metal and faint screams and groans was heard from behind. Turning, they saw what looked to be two sets of animated platemail, which had moved to block their exit up the stairs. The armour, adored with barbed spikes, hooks and protrusions, bore faintly feminine features. And each was armed with a wicked 10’ long scourge.  In order to avoid being trapped in the room, the party attacked. The constructs flayed about the party with their scourges, hitting Erijay who became wracked with pain and unable to move. They didn’t stand up long against the party’s weapons, however, and the elf maid soon recovered. And in fact decide to don one of the now inanimate suits of armour herself.

Deciding there had been enough excitement for one delve, the party quickly examined a few doors, and then returned to house and hearth for rest and refit.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Westmist Session #37 - Run Away!

Standing over their fallen foe, the party’s thoughts turned to pressing matters; looting the body. Darnorth claimed the strange light-sword, Kern stripped the body of its jumpsuit, and Turrick proceeded to collect all the jeweled chains. And Riley claimed the head itself, as proof for the March Baron that their mission had been a success.  That done, Riley next used the Rod of Narissa to bring the fallen Bjorn back to the land of the living and from the halls of his fathers. Then it was time to get out while the going was good.  But first a stop was made at the chamber of the glowing green goo to see if it was still the same now that “He” was dead. It was, and some further fiddling around with it revealed no more information. Darnorth did claim the strange metallic cube and cylinder that sat on top of the brass plate, however. And at this point the sound of braying horns could be heard very nearby, an indication that perhaps the party had delayed too long and had best make tracks to get out of the fortress. 
Heading out into the foyer on this floor, they ran right into a squad of hobgoblins coming up the stairs. A flurry of fighting saw two of the creature’s fall, which panicked the rest into flight. The party followed, slaying one more hobgoblin on the stairs, before the guards pulled out of sight. The party continued to race down to the basement and the sewers, dodging a flurry of crossbow bolts as they passed through the grand hall where the hobgoblins had been reinforced and rallied.  In the basement, Kern, Darnorth and Turrick, using oil and arrows, set up a rearguard at the bottom of the stairs. Everyone else dropped one by one down into the sewer. The last to go was Darnorth, who took out one last hobgoblin before jumping down into the fetid water. With the sounds of more horns behind them, the party headed back through the sewers, emerging just a few hours before dawn back where they entered. There they were relieved to see the three orkin still waited with Sweet Jenny, who was luckily still standing and not in the stew pot. After squeezing a reward out of Kern for not eating his mule, the three melted into the darkness. A tactic which the party copied, heading back towards the breech, hoping to reach it before dawn.  They did make it to the barricaded centre of the city before the sun rose over the horizon, and then picked up the pace and to get out before it was too light. Just crossing the old palace grounds, they were found by a patrol of about 20 hobgoblins, which proceeded to alternate between chasing the party and firing on them.  Amid the hail of bolts, the party made it back to the breech. The folding boat was launched and the party and livestock loaded, and they soon pulled out of range of anything but hobgoblin curses and taunts. 

Wisely choosing to not land on the north shore, the party rowed across the lake to hide in the forest for the day. Setting up camp, they were interrupted by a group of giant ticks that descended from the trees. A short battle ended that threat, but not before one of the wolves and poor Foxy the war dog perished. Excitement over, everyone caught up on sleep, rising at nightfall. First order of business, Riley called on Habuu to heal the unfortunate Erijay of her mental affliction, which the mighty god was able to do.  Next, the party loaded up to head across the lake and recover their buried giant treasure. And spy on the ruins of Mor. Making it into the hills before sunrise, the treasure was recovered without incident. Gurruk and Kern crept to a good vantage point, and observed a huge amount of activity as patrols fanned out from the ruined city. Presumably to hunt for the party, who chose to sleep again for the day and travel back to Westmist by night.  Several nights of travel passed without incident, until just as the sky began to brighten on the 3rd morning. Over a low rise in the distance came a hobgoblin patrol of at least 30 foot soldiers, escorted by another hobgoblin riding a large bipedal dinosaur. Erijay and Bjorn neutralized the foot soldier threat with a pair of sleep spells, while everyone else aimed their missile fire at the dino rider, dropping him from the saddle with a flurry of arrows and bolts. All that was enough to scare off the rest of the hobgoblins, who fled dragging as many of their sleeping comrades as possible, with the dino trotting along behind. The remaining hobgoblins were put into a permanent sleep by the party, who quickly looted the bodies and then went in search of a place to spend the night.

Three more nights of travel found the party safely back under the walls of Westmist. Trying their best to enter without undue notice, the first day back was spent sorting and appraising all the treasure.  Darnorth experimented with the light-sword and discovered how it worked. And also discovered (due to a little altercation with Turrick) that it was a weapon of potent ability. The halfling then claimed the weapon as his own, in payment for his injuries. Kern meanwhile experimented with the woven jumpsuit, finding that it was a form of mysterious armor, vastly superior to his leather.  And now all that was left to do was meet with the March Baron with news of their successful quest and to claim their just rewards …

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Westmist Session #36, Part 3 - He Who Walks in Metal

Once again taking a cautious approach, Gurruk used Turrick’s potion of clairvoyance and sent one of his pit vipers into the fortress as a remote set of eyes. The snake found circular chamber containing a number of cells (one occupied by an orkin prisoner), a torture chamber, and a room full of strange machinery plus some strange amorphous blob. Plus a set of stairs going up. With no apparent danger in the room the rest of the party climbed out of the sewer. First order of business was release of the orkin prisoner. Once over his initial fright, the orkin told everything he knew. Captured to work in the kitchen, the orkin had been caught stealing bread and tortured before being imprisoned here. “Here” was the lowest level of Keep Tower, the main tower of the fortress. “He Who Walks in Metal” could be found on the upper levels of the tower. The orkin was also able to roughly sketch out the fortress layout before heading down the sewer grate and on to freedom.

Determined to get to the top of the tower as quickly as possible, the party sent the pit viper up the stairs to scout once more. The next level consisted of a single chamber with a set of double doors leading out into the fortress, and a large round table and a throne. Plus four hobgoblin guards and a mountain lion. With a rush the party surprised and eliminated them before sending the snake up the next set of stairs. This floor was bisected by a single corridor, off of which was a ballroom and a chapel or temple. This the party skipped completely, and instead headed up the stairs (since by this time the potions effects had worn off). Confronted by a number of doors, they party wanted to make sure their backs were secure before heading any further up the tower. Although the clairvoyance was now worn off, Gurruk sent the snake under each door and had it return and tell if anyone was inside. In one room, two hobgoblins were seen, so the party bashed in the door and charged in with swords swinging. Unfortunately, one of the hobgoblins was able to grab a horn and blow the alarm before the two were cut down by the party. The party couldn't rest for long though, as another 4 hobgoblin sergeants burst out of the other rooms (the snake didn't mention the other doors in those rooms). Several more were slain, but the last two chose to surrender. With a sword to his neck, one hobgoblin was forced over to the window to shout out 'false alarm' to the troops racing towards the tower. These backed off and returned to barracks after just a little bit of grumbling. 
The prisoners reveled that the last two floors were the private apartments and chambers of 'He Who Walks in Metal". They also revealed the presence of further guards, not hobgoblins but mechanical and magical beings.  Quickly locking the prisoners in the basement dungeon for safe keeping, the party headed up to the next floor. Entering a foyer, they spied two metal man-like constructs guarding a pair of double doors. They attacked immediately with swinging fists when the party approached, and in short order were a collection of metal parts on the floor. Exploring beyond the double doors, a hall, a study and a bedchamber were found. In the study Darnorth recovered a red leather portfolio, as well as a small gem and strange metal cylinder (narrow with a point). The bedroom showed little sign of use, but in another adjoining room (through a trapped and locked door) was a most unusual sight. In the centre sat a 5 foot tall, 3 foot diameter glass cylinder. Inside it was a smaller cylinder, this one filled with green glowing goo. On top sat a brass plate with curious round and square patterns, plus a small cylinder and a cube made of metal. Debate ensued over what it might be and what should be done with it, but in the end the decisions was to press on to confront ‘He Who Walks in Metal”.  So out the door and up the stairs they went.

Here the party found itself in a corridor to seem to go around the outer perimeter of the tower. On the inside was a curved metal wall, which formed a tall hemisphere in the centre of this level. Access was via four unusual doors; they were round and in the form of an iris. Further investigation was delayed when Bjeorn was suddenly struck from behind and slain by a gelatinous cube that slid up behind the party. With half the party still on the stairs, it was a tight fight. But the cube was soon destroyed, and Turrick picked a few handfuls of gold coins out of the remaining pile of ooze. With no time to morn for Bjeorn, the party turned its attention again to the doors. Kern examined them, and found them locked, but could see no way to unlock it. After some fiddling around, Riley’s solution was to simply knock. From inside came a low hollow voice: “Enter”. The door opened and Riley, Darnorth and Kern entered before the door once again closed behind them, leaving the rest of the party in the outer corridor.  Here they saw, sitting on a metal throne and flanked by two metal-man constructs, “He Who Walks in Metal”. “He” was a tall and slender humanoid, with faintly red skin and vaguely hobgoblin features, wearing a tight fitting mesh jumpsuit. Back and forth questioning began, the the party learned a little about the strange creature. “He” told the party he was an Iza’ka, an ancient race from beyond the stars. In ages past, his race had used this planet as a battleground against another race from beyond space and time, and in the aftermath of that titanic battle (which in human legend was known as the “Godswar”), the Iza’ka were stranded here. While most of his race was indifferent to and, except as a source of slaves, ignored humans and other sentient life, “He” burned with a hatred for them. And so he had raised this hobgoblin army and now was going to use it to crush the lands of men.

Tired of talk, “He” moved to confront the three. His throne transformed into a man shaped, walking construct in which “He” sat. Instead of fists, the construct (and the other two in the room) had round tubes that glowed inside with a red plasma flame. With these, the three constructs opened fire on Riley, Kern and Darnorth and a desperate battle started. Outside, Erijay had hauled out a black and tackle and with the assistance of the rest of the party was trying to break open one of the doors.   Luckily for those inside, she was successful, and soon everyone was in the thick of battle. Erijay caste her haste scroll, Darnorth chugged a heroism potion, and  Riley cleverly got himself between two constructs and managed to get them to shoot each other a few times.  As the battle started to turn in the party’s favor, “He’ unleashed a mental attack. First, Erijay was reduced to a metal invalid, her mind destroyed and able only to perform basic actions (which thankfully included swinging a sword). Next, several wolves, Foxy the dog and Gurruk became confused and started either attacking their friends or ignoring the battle altogether. Before “He” could cause further damage, however, a last few blows destroyed his construct/chair, and “He” was forced instead to focus on defending himself.  Rising out of the wreckage, “He” levitated up above the party. From a strange cylinder in his hand there leapt a 4’ long beam of light which he proceeded to use as a sword against the party. Darnorth, using his boots, levitated up to face “He”. In thankfully short order, Darnorth and the rest of the party were about to destroy “He” and the body fell to the floor …