Monday, August 31, 2015

The Gem Gates of the Wind Wizards of Foronaxos

The Wind Wizards of Foronaxos were a semi-mythical cabal of powerful mages, whose origins stretch back to before the Godwars that destroyed the first fabled civilizations of man. The last known member of the order was last seen several hundred years ago, and they would appear to exist no more. They specialized in teleportation, telekinetic and extra-planer travel. Many of the currently known enchantments related to such matters can be traced back to them. They are best known, however, for the magical gem gates they constructed, which allowed instantaneous travel between far distant points scattered across the world.

The gates are typically oval or round portals caved out of stone, but can take almost any form. The only constant feature is a series of peculiar slots or receptacles arranged around the perimeter. The gates are powered by precious gems; star ruby, star sapphire, fire opal, blue diamond, and star topaz. To use the gate, gems are inserted into the slots. Each gate is tuned to particular combination and number of gems; inserting the right number/types/order of gems into any other gate would allow travel to the gate defined by that gem combination. 
Gates have a variable number of slots or receptacles. It is not possible to travel directly to a destination gate if the starting gate does not have enough slots to accommodate the required number of gems.

Unless someone is left behind to remove them from their slots, gems must be left in the gate after the traveler has passed through; there is no way to remove them after passing through the gate. Eventually the gate drains the power of the gems and they will crumble to dust. How long a given set of gems remain viable is highly variable and also highly unpredictable. In general, however, a set of gems will power a gate for a period ranging from days to weeks.

Gate locations and gem combinations currently discovered by the party are:

Gate Location
# Gem Slots
Gem Combination*
Forbidden City
Land of 1000 Wizards
Wastes of the Loathsome Gods #1
Wastes of the Loathsome Gods #2
Wastes of the Loathsome Gods #3
* S = Star Sapphire, R = Star Ruby, T = Star Topaz, O = Fire Opal, D = Blue Diamond

Friday, August 28, 2015

Westmist Session #100 - Brigands and Nobles

As twilight descended, the still invisible Kern and Erijay scouted around the ruined keep. Apart from smoke rising from the interior, there was no obvious activity. No guards on the crumbling walls or towers, no pickets in the treeline.They did find the main gate,which was closed and presumably barred or locked. Rather than force their way in, the two decided to position themselves near the gate, and hopefully sneak in behind some returning brigands. It wasn't long before they indeed observed a small party of men emerge from the woods, pulling a cart loaded with firewood, some small game, and casks. When the reached the gate, they called out, and a few minutes latter a guard appeared in the tower above. After a short conversation in a foreign tongue between the guard and returning men, the gate started to open. As the foraging party entered, Kern and Erijay slipped in quietly behind them. They passed into the gatehouse and through another gate (each raised by a separate windlass). From there they headed down a narrow passage, open to the sky, that entered into the inner courtyard. Kern and Erijay did not follow, having observed a number of campfires and a significant number of brigands gathered there.
Now left alone in the narrow passage, they decided to check out the doors they'd passed on the way in. Using a combination of listening at doors and searching for minds using the medallion of thoughts plucked from Jax, they found that three of the four doors appeared to have no one behind them. On the opposite side of the fourth door a number of human minds were encountered, including several brigands and a noble or leader of some type. Sifting through their thoughts, Kern was able to get a rough layout of the keep, including the fact that the main living quarters were not in the keep itself. Not sure what to make of that, the two went to investigate the other three doors. Two lead into the defenses surrounding the gatehouse, while the third led into a small, bare room seemingly carved out of the side of the cliff. Erijay decided to search for secret doors, while Kern started the process of summoning with the censor of controlling air elementals, to have it ready to summon in case all hell broke loose.
Erijay found nothing along the walls, but deftly spied a suspicious flagstone on the floor. It was lifted out of the way to uncover a passageway 10' below, heading roughly north into the cliff. Kern, once more listening and brain prying, sensed canine minds in the passage below. Erijay cast sleep to take down the animals, and the two entered the passage. Stepping over the sleeping bodies of 3 wolves, they quickly came to a branching tunnel leading left, and a door straight ahead. The branch ended in a heavy leather curtain, while the door was locked with a massive metal padlock. Kern probed beyond the curtain with the medallion, detecting faint thoughts of men both awake and asleep. A quick look, however, revealed nothing but an empty room. Going back to the door, Erijay stood guard while Kern quietly picked the lock and opened the door. On the other side was a storeroom, filled with crates, barrels and a pair of small footlockers/lock boxes. Kern pried open one lockbox, finding it stuffed full of gems! As he went to check the second, however, Erijay passed a silent warning; men were approaching.  Erijay carefully shut the door and replaced the lock (but not locking it), hoping the brigands would pass on by, she being still invisible. As the brigands approached, however, the leader noticed the open lock and screamed a warning as he drew his sword. Erijay slipped the lock out of the hasp so Kern wouldn't be trapped, then dropped invisible to the floor. The leader swung wildly, but the spear-wielding brigand behind him struck the elf a hard blow. Kern, meanwhile, threw open the door , brandishing his somewhat worst-for-wear preserved medusa head, but to no avail. Erijay now crawled through the melee and behind Kern, to be in a better position to cast her spells from a protected location. A trio of magic missiles slammed into the katana swinging leader, and another spell hasted Kern and Erijay.  The elf next polymorphed herself into a giant python as Kern struck the patrol leader dead with a final swing of the great silver hammer of Lughrin. Erijay then struck at the remaining brigands, crushing and slaying two. The third, however, had already run off to get help, and the sounds of shouting and approaching reinforcements came from beyond the curtain in the passageway.
Kern, pausing only briefly to lift the shiny sword from the corpse on the floor, went back into the room and threw open the second foot locker. In it lay the books for which Toi !lo was waiting. Slamming the case shut, Kern threw it onto his shoulder and he and the snake-Erijay headed back from whence they came. Hasted, they were able to keep ahead of their pursuers and get back to the front gate. There they had to pause as Kern turned the windlass and snake-Erijay stood guard. He was just getting it open when a crowd of brigands burst into the passage. Erijay slithered into the gatehouse, switched back to elf form, and incinerated their pursuers with a  fireball. Throwing open the second gate, they fled into the night, dodging a volley of spears from the guard tower. 

The duo raced back to their horses, and galloped west along the Road of the High Sun, reaching the city of Kunth the next morning. There, they once more requested the presence of their minder "Perfect Spreading of Merit", who led them back to Toi !lo's library to trade the recovered books for more information on the Wastes of the Loathsome Gods. Toi !lo let it be known there was little left of civilization in the blasted wastes. A scattered of insular villagers and nomads, long tumbled ruins, and loathsome twisted beasts of chaos spawned by the pure evil of the place. He suggested the best place to search for the Fetters of the Gods would be in the ruins of the capital of the once dreaded D'war empire, which had risen and fallen in power along with the fortunes of the Loathsome Gods. At Kern's request, the slug man also researched some gem combinations for the gate which could get them to or close to the Wastes. Toi !lo came up with three that should lead to gates in the general area of the Wastes, but could not say for sure which would be closest to the ruined city. He also, once more at Kern's request (and in return for another gift), provided a gem combination to a gate in the Land of 1000 Wizards. Erijay, again in return for more gifts, was able to get information on the four artifacts listed in the book she had recovered so long ago. The "Golden Mask of Nythal" and "Skull of Chodak" could be found in the Land of 1000 Wizards, while the "Machine of Radioactive Light" and "Throne of the Ancient Ones" were both to be found in the Burned Lands.

Thanking the illustrious slug-man, Kern and Erijay took their leave. Kern, recalling the treasure they'd recovered from the Hanging Tree while crossing the Untamed Lands with the barbarians, showed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" the signet ring recovered with the Kunth woman's skeleton. Examining it, he told Kern the wearer had been a member of the "Pearl" clan, a powerful human noble family in the city. In fact, the patriarch of the family was one of the 11 nobles who ruled the city in the name of the slug-men. The ring in fact had belonged to the patriarch's daughter "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". The young woman had disappeared some years ago, supposedly kidnapped and carried off by a secret lover. Kern, sensing the chance to do the right thing to get a powerful ally in Kunth. asked "Perfect Spreading of Merit" to get them an audience with the family so he could return their daughter's remains and belongings. Their minder complied, and several days later Kern and Erijay found themselves at a palatial manor house in a rich part of the city. Led into a great hall, there they found, sitting at the head of a long table, was the clan patriarch, "Unchanging Noble One". Behind him stood a grim faced guard, and  to each side sat a woman. The lady to his right was obviously his  wife, while the relationship  of the other was uncertain. Kern explained who he was, how he had come into possession of his daughter's remains, and returned her bones, clothes and jewelry to the family. Glancing around, Kern was a little startled to see that of the four, it was the guard captain and the second woman who seemed most upset to learn the fate of  "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". He did not dwell on it long however, as the patriarch thanked him for finally bringing closure to the family. He presented Kern and Erijay with rich robes of fur, fish-scale and gems in thanks for their service, and then signaled the guard to take the them away. The guard led them though the manor to the front gardens, and to Kern and Erijay's surprise, there rushed "Perfect Spreading of Merit" out the door. The guard then very quickly spoke in broken, heavily accented Common, asking if the body of a man of Kunth was found with "The Radiant Pearl of Kunth". When told there was not, he grunted and sent the duo on their way. Puzzled, the two headed back to the Forgein Quarter to wait for Bjorn to fully recover and begin their search for the Fetters of the Gods.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Far Isles Session #6 - Blob go Kablooie!

Gormus (Thief/Specialist 1), with henchman Villius Paticus (Cleric 1)
Azimer (Calmonari 1)
Vort (Dwarf 1)

Treasure seeking was temporarily put on hold as the party focused on finding a way to destroy the blob. A cunning plan was hatched requiring sailcloth, tar, timbers and manual labour. All of which required the acquiescence and assistance of Thorgrim and the crew of the "Serpents Revenge". The Captain was reluctant to put resources and risk his crew on a hair-brained scheme. Why not, he pondered, just go in there and wrest the treasure from the monster like good adventurers are supposed to do? Gormus and Azimer argued that more treasure could be gained if the blob was taken out first, a fact which Thorgrim was willing to accept. However, in return for the use of more of his supplies and his crew, he negotiated a new arrangement for splitting the treasure from this voyage: 50/50.

That done, the jolly boat was loaded with supplies and crew and all were set to work on the beach. At one of the cave exits, the crew set to work building a 20' extension to the tunnel out of wood, old sailcloth and tar. With the project completed, the crew headed back to the ship and the party headed into the cavern to lure the blob towards their feat of engineering. But they were barely out of the sunlight when a trio of gliding lamprey descended on the four. Two latched onto Gormus, and in less than half a minute had drained the thief of much of his blood, leaving him unconscious on the floor. A flurry of flail, trident, and belaying pin destroyed the three beasts (which Azimer scooped up and popped into his/her backpack). Gormus, his wounds bound, was dragged back to the beach to rest while the remaining three adventurers started off once more. They did not go far, as the ruckus with the lamprey must have attracted the blob's attention. They encountered the amorphous thing advancing towards them a short distance down the passage. Villius and Vort ran back to the new construction, while Azimer lured the creature onward, taking care to stay out of pseudopod range. The blob advanced to within 15' of the end of the tunnel, stopping at the point at which fresh air and sunlight was entering. Azimer shouted to Vort and Villius, and the calmonari then dove into the ocean. In response, the cleric and dwarf yanked on strategically placed ropes, pulling the tarred cloth off the wooden frame and exposing the blob thing to the air and sun. It started to hiss and steam, and retreated back into the safety of the cave. Disappointed that it was not destroyed, Azimer stood watch while Villius and Vort rebuilt the tunnel. The calmonari also placed the three dead lamprey in the tunnel, hoping that the dead flesh and Gormus's blood might attract the blob. But no luck; it advanced to the edge of the timber tunnel but would not enter it again.

The trio convened a quick conference on the beach and hatched a new plan. Propping the barely conscious Gormus up in the sand as a decoy/lure, the trio stripped the tarred canvas from the wooden frame and rolled it up. With Vort walking point, and Villius and Azimer carrying the bulky canvas, the three headed to a previously explored entrance to the cave. They looped around trying to get behind the blob and catch it in the tunnel, It, however, nearly caught them in an open cavern; Gormus was apparently not much of a distraction. A mad rush by the bearers, however, allowed them to roll out the canvas in the tunnel in front of the blob before it could emerge into the cavern. With fingers and fins crossed, the three waited in anticipation, hoping the blob would move onto the tarred carpet. Which it did! Before it could advance too far, Azimer and Villus, using a trident and musket respectively, lifted the near edge of the tarred canvas and flipped it onto the blob. With impeccable timing and perfect aim, Vort hurled with torch at the now inflammablly wrapped blob, and it went up in a burst of flame and smoke. Villus then ripped the black powder filled apostles from around his neck and tossed them into the inferno to add another serious of explosions and more flame. This was too much for the blob, and it withered into a blackened mass of goo on the tunnel floor.

But the battle wasn't over yet! Even as they watched, the blob began to come together and reform. Desperate, Villius and Vort swung again and again with flail and belaying pin, beating the thing into submission. Meanwhile, Azimer grabbed the iron helm off Vort's head, and scooped up as much of the goop as possible. Then running at tip speed, the calmonari headed for the beach. There, the goop was hurled into the sand, where it smoked and hissed into oblivion. Azimer continued scooping and running, while Vort and Villius continued to smash at the creature to keep it from regenerating and reforming. This worked well for a few trips, but after the third or forth run to the beach, the oozy materiel ate through the bottom of the helmet. Nonplussed, the clamonari grabbed the dwarf round metal shield for the next 'scoop and run'. This, unfortunately, caused the dwarf to miss his timing when swinging his flail. Villius likewise missed, and in the confusion the blob began to grow large and strong again. The quickly strengthening monster lashed out a pseudopod at Vort, and the unfortunate dwarf was hurled across the room, his rib cage shattered. He held precariously onto life however, as Azimer and Villius tried to beat the blob into submission again. But when Azimer took a hard blow, both decided it was time to cut and run. The slowly expiring dwarf had to be left behind, as he was lying on the opposite side of the blob.

Calmonari and cleric run back to the beach, the blob following close behind. The two turned to face their foe once they were in the sunlight. Villius, grabbing some powder from Gormus (still sitting, sunburned and suffering in the sand), loaded his musket and fired at the thing. And struck it right in the centre, blowing to smithereens in a spray of hot glop. Wasting no time, Azimer rushed forward and using the shield again, started scooping the remains out into the sunlight until all of the deadly blob was gone. At last, their amoebic foe was vanquished!
After a brief rest to bind wounds and catch their breath, the two ran back to where Vort lay, Alas, the dwarf had expired before emergency aid arrived. They carried his body back and lay it in the sand for Gormus to watch over. The remain two adventurers decided to make one last foray into the cavern to look for easy treasure. But at the first sign of trouble, the plan was the hightail it out of there and come back with reinforcements another day. Back at the intersection containing the crystal prism, they took an as yet unexplored tunnel. Which ended almost at once in a pile of stones. Villius looked closely, and noted that it didn't look like a collapse. Instead, it looks like something or someone had deliberately pilled the stones there to block the tunnel. Thinking they didn't want to actually meet that who or what right now, they backtracked and choose another tunnel to explore. It led to another intersection, this one with a large 10' diamater black basalt pillar in the centre. After a cursory examination, this was bypassed and the duo moved on, coming to a large cavern. This was filled with pillars of purple and white quartz, stretching from floor to ceiling.  Looking around, Azimer also spied another pillar, only five feet tall, but topped with a crystal skull. The calmonari approached and examined it for traps. Finding nothing, Azimer moved around behind the pillar and tried to lift the skull. No luck; it appeared to be firmly attached. Upon touching it however, the calmonari's hands began to sink into the skull until she/he could feel a slippery, soft mass. Oddly enough, Villius at that same moment had the sensation of someone sticking fingers into his brain, a feeling which disappeared when Azimer pulled his/her hands from the skull. Villius pondered hard on the matter, but for some reason could not make a reasoned mental investigation as well as he once could. Curious ...

Deciding they'd pushed their luck enough for one day, the two turned back to the beach and the ship. They did not get far before encountering a pair of fish-men. They looked just like the remains found the previous day, except these two still had legs and lower torsos. The two were emaciated and looked weak, but upon seeing Villius and Azimer raised their tridents to attack. Azimer tired to use aquatic telepathy to communicate feelings of love and friendship, but the two creatures were unresponsive. The calmonari then used aquatic charm to bend one to his/her will, which did succeed. The charmed creature was able to convince it's companion to not attack, and the two followed Azimer and Villius back to the beach. Once their, the charmed fish-man signaled goodbye to Azimer before it and it's companion dove into the ocean and disappeared. Azimer and Villius, meanwhile, signaled to the jolly boat to return to the safety of the "Serpents Revenge"  


nil. nadda. zilch.

The Guardian AKA The Blob
3 gliding lamprey

Vort the Dwarf
lots of canvas and tar

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Westmist Session #99 - Kunth to Westmist to Kunth to Westmist ...

Having received and studied the pilfered volumes, Toi! lo proceeded (through his human intermediary) to lecture Kern and Erijay on Yg and how to defeat the aspects of the god. Only after first going into an in-depth and esoteric exposition on the  non-existence of the gods, of course. That said, Toi! lo noted that Yg was one of the so called “Loathsome Gods”, those first foul gods to be worshiped by mankind.Yg was particularly interesting as it consisted  of the three aspects of Yg, who could combine into one  super-powerful god with the abilities of the three individuals. Of the aspects themselves, he could find little of specific powers. Very large and very strong. Some of the old texts told of sacrifices  swallowed whole, of poison bites and venomous spit, of the ability to charm  weak-willed humans. The three aspects were very difficult to fight, as all would  regenerate when injured.

As for the motivation of the god, it's immediate goal would be to seek the third aspect. The real  driving force, however, would be the cult of Yg. It’s goal was to enslave the world in their dread god’s name, and although much weakened, the cult survives to this day (a fact neither Kern nor Erijay needed to be told).
Historically, most of the Loathsome Gods were bound and imprisoned with magic specifically designed for such a task. In particular the items known as “Fetters of the Gods”. These were powerful
artifacts which could place the god/creature in a magical stasis, unable to be  harmed but likewise unable to harm anyone or anything.  Destroying Yg would be  difficult, as it was one of the gods the heroes of old could not kill. However,  locate these “Fetters of the Gods” and it may be possible to re-imprison it. Each of the aspects need to be imprisoned separately; try to use one of the  artifacts on a combined Yg and it will split, leaving only one aspects bound. The final battles against many of the the gods and their cults took place in  what is now known as the “Wastes of the Loathsome Gods”, a land of bleak moor, hills and bog between the Black Spine Mountains and the Skaarl Sea. That  would be the most logical place to start looking for traces of the “Fetters”.

Erijay and Kern pondered this for awhile, and proceeded to ask the mighty slug-man a few more questions abut the “Wastes of the Loathsome Gods” and where to start their search in that barren land. Answers, however, were curtly not forthcoming. The great Toi! lo had kept his part of the bargain; any other questions would require further services! With little choice, unless they wanted to stumble around lost in a haunted land, the pair agreed. Once more Toi! lo asked them to recover some books, but this times from bandits rather than a rival ("Perfect Spreading of Merit" looked very relieved). A merchant caravan, carrying among other things books purchased by the slug-man from one of the arcane inhabitants of the Land of 1000 Wizards, had been ambushed 2 days ago on the Road of the High Sun. A pair of bearers had escaped to bring the news to the city, but the rest of the people and goods were lost. And Toi! lo wanted his books. Kern and Erijay had "Perfect Spreading of Merit" track down the bearers for questioning, and the two impoverished men confirmed the slug-man's story. They could provide little detail on the bandits other than they saw only men, no monsters. Kern paid the two men for their information (unintentionally once more committing a social faux pax), and they returned to Toi! lo's archive.  Kern and Erijay agreed to the job, but informed the slug-man they had some personal business to attend to first.

That business was to go back through the gate and recover Bjorn's body, and hopefully have him raised from the dead. After confirming with "Perfect Spreading of Merit" that such a service could be found in Kunth, the duo had their minder take them out of the city and they headed up through the fields back to the magical gate. First, Erijay cast invisibility on herself and Kern. Then, inserting the gems, they once more activated the gate and passed through into their ruined cellar. Above was a small hole through which daylight filtered and rubble could be seen, and the sounds of someone moving around could be heard. The sounds were far off, so Kern boosted Erijay up to climb out of the hole. Unfortunately, the elf grabbed a loose bit of timber and a pile of wood and stone tumbled down on the pair. This attracted some attention, and a trio of grimy and grim faces soon appeared above. Obviously townsfolk and obviously much worst for wear, the three peered into the hole for a bit, but moved on when they saw nothing of interest. Once the coast was clear, Erijay and Kern climbed out of the cellar and looked around. The scene was one of almost total devastation. On the hill to the southeast lay the tumbled ruins of Westmist Keep, and on the southwest hill was the ruins of the Temple of the Three Virtues. Much of the rest of the town was likewise in ruin, and a significant portion of the northern and western walls were destroyed. A few clusters of townsfolk seemed to be working on repairing the wall (one led by the unmistakably ugly Lanthan the Undervirtue), and a few others picked through the ruins. But there were not many to be seen.
The two did not linger long, however, but made their way quickly to the Keep. Luckily, Bjorn still lay where they'd left him, wrapped in his cloak. The picked up the rather ripe body and made their way back to the gate. There, they first disguised the gate it as best they could, to prevent any one else from finding it, and then slipped back through the portal to Kunth. Making their way back to the city, they were met by "Perfect Spreading of Merit", who led them to the high philosopher of the "Path of Truth and Knowledge to and of All". Kern was a little underwhelmed when he was presented to a short dirty man in a loin cloth, living in a filthy hovel in  slum. However, the merchant was convinced to turn over the requisite gift of jewelery and gems to the little man, who proceeded to burn incense and chant of the magic users remains. And it worked, for Bjorn was drawn back from the dead once more, arriving spitting mad, plus dazed and confused. Kern explained where they were and what had happened, then they brought him back to the Foreign Quarter and rented rooms so he could rest and recover. Knowing the lawless nature of the Quarter, Kern also hired a pair of big Skaarling mercenaries to guard their countrymen while he and Erijay went about their business.

That business involved going back to Westmist once more, for the pair had remembered the pit full of gold left behind in the ruined Yg temple. After first spending a few days in preparations and shopping for some spell scrolls, the two set off once more to the gate and back to Westmist. They went invisible once more, which was good as the town was not as quiet this time. Arriving back in their old cellar, they could now hear screams and faint sounds of battle in the ruins above. Climbing above ground, they could see the barbarians of the Ram tribe moving through the ruins, cutting down anyone who resisted and hauling away others as prisoners! Kern agonized over intervening, since he was the chief's brother in law. Erijay pointed out that given his wife's history of offing unwanted husbands, he might not be welcomed with open arms. Especially as the tribeès relocation didnèt go quite as planned. Agreeing with the elf, Kern went along with the original plan: looting. They headed back to the Keep and the temple. Erijay took the magic chest from Kern. The elf flew down into the pit recently vacated by the aspect of Yg, and started to shovel coins into the chest until full. This was repeated twice, which the first lot getting hidden in the secret safe back in the old cellar; for future recovery. On the second trip, Erijay was attacked by a shadowy snake-like thing as she flew out of the pit, but was able to soar away safely on the wings of magic. With the chest now full, the two took care to avoid the fighting, and scurried back to the gate. There, Erijay used a scoll of hallucinatory terrain to disguise the ruined cellar to avoid it's discovery, and the two then headed back through to Kunth.
There, they finally headed out along the Road of the High Sun to recover the books for the slug-man. Purchasing a pair of horses, they made it to the ambush site in a single day. At this point, the wooded hills came close to the river, forcing the road into a narrow defile between high land and water. Kern looked around, and was able to find traces of tracks heading up into the wooded hills. The two hitched their horses to a tree, and followed the faint traces into the shrubs. On the other side, they found a rough but clear cart track winding its way up the hill. Following it for about an hour, the trees thinned and they could see above them a ruined keep nestled at the base of a high cliff. There were no sign of of any occupants, but they were pretty sure they'd found the bandit hideout ...