Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Friend's Adventures (Elderglass)

With the new campaign, we ran a pre-made thing to get a handle on their combat abilities, and get them up to level 2. Then we had a session of building the city that they're from, just talking about their backgrounds, people they know and places they like.

That stuff is my favourite.

Yesterday they were leaving a bar late at night, going to a couple of places to get some information and noticed that the night had gone dead quiet. Even though there was no wind, the torches were guttering in unison and bits of dust were curling up off the ground.

Spooky.

One guy noticed that the corner of a building wasn't square, even though the walls leading up to it were. Then a strange guy comes out of the alley of the crooked building. Looking only at his body, he seemed like he should be walking in a straight line, but his actual path was erratic, and his features looked like the averaged features of a town of people.

He had an aura that was affecting their defences, and the effects on the torches was much more pronounced around him. He does weird stuff, like when he was stuck with a sword, he immediately struck back, in ways that seemed impossible. He also stepped through space and teleported oddly.

So, your boys attacked first? Can't say I blame them.

No they got attacked first. He had a weird gaze attack that could pull a character through space and daze you. He wasn't really dangerous, but he had tons of HP.

So they defeated him?

Yeah, and they noticed that his clothes weren't on correctly, so they stripped him and he had a weird red mark on his torso, like a circle, but the top and bottom were jagged. It was embedded under his skin, but it wasn't a tattoo.

The wizard, who's a bit of a collector took samples of the red material under his skin, then they went and got the guards and explained what happened.

Weird. Sounds like he was remotely controlled.

Then they had a skill challenge, which is a new way of using skill checks to resolve complicated things. They detected ritual magic on the guy before they killed him, but they also figured out that he was an animated corpse, but not like a normal zombie in that he wasn't animated by a human spirit.

Cool.

The skill challenge was to backtrack the zombie to where he had come from. It requires a certain number of skill successes before a number of failures, and they had to justify how they were using each skill, and everyone has to use a skill and it goes in initiative order.

Sounds a little complicated. A very cool adventure though.

It's actually pretty easy. The important info for this one was DC 15 with 10 successes before 5 failures. I made it quite complicated because it was okay if they didn't succeed

So they tracked this guy down?

They got really lucky and found the exact place. There they found some human cultist rabble with a priest and the aftermath of the ritual.

Perhaps he wasn't the only result of the ritual.

The priest turned out to be a hobgoblin, which is odd in the city, but they had heard that hobgoblins were getting more active in the north where the old religous capital used to be. And that's where we ended

Thanks for telling me about it. You'll have to keep me posted.


Have I told you anything about the game yet?

You said that there was an undead component. And that zombies could fuse together.

Okay, yeah. For the party composition, I said they could only be Human, Elf, Dwarf of Half-Elf. So the party is: Human Wizard (never played before), Elf Rogue (played maybe once, but is deep into the rules), Egyptian area sandals and kilts overweight Paladin of Ra with Cleric of Ra sidekick (played regularly, laid back about it, don't think he's DMed).

Overweight paladin. Ha!

Yeah, funny group.

So they go poking around the ruins of the Zombie apocalypse, vaguely looking for people who need help or for flashy loot. They stumble onto the site of a major battle. It's out of their league and they have to run from it. One dude was keeping back hundreds of zombies (an Epic Paladin). But they find a chunk of his armour, the shoulder piece with his personal symbol on it.

Then, unrelated, one of them spots a person moving through the burned out ruins in the part of the city most damaged by the cataclysm and they discover linked basements that lead into natural tunnels. In the tunnels there's an unnatural flowing pool/tunnel with maybe 10cm of air-gap at the top. It's passable but fucking nightmarishly claustrophobic.

And blind.

They ignore it at first because they don't want to put their characters through that when there's still the option of looking further down the big tunnel. So they go that way, find some lizard men in a weird ceremony, with a bonfire of human corpses. They ambush those motherfuckers, chase one into a secret tunnel (found thanks to the Elf in the party), and fight a chick who changes into a snake and escapes through a small hole. They get a map with writing they can't decipher and a journal in the same language.

It's a good adventure.

This is just the buildup to today. So as they go out they investigate the water tunnel, and it goes downhill but unnaturaly the water stays the same speed and height all the way down. They eventually find a large chamber with all the water sucking down the middle. It leads into a weird area with super advanced construction.

Gotta go.


Another excellent D&D session today.

Tell me about it.

You're a full session behind. I never got to tell you what happened after the water tunnel. So they went through the cramped water tunnel and reached a hallway that had perfectly smooth floors and metal walls. They got to a room with ancient piles of angular rubble and metal. They asked questions and came to realize they were ancient ruined gears and machine parts. Then they went off to a door on the left and found warehouses.

All underground?

Yeah, in a big cave complex. Think NORAD command center, only described from the point of view of someone from a non-technical society. When I explained doors where you push the bar on the door to open it and there's no way to open it from the other side (a firedoor) they had to puzzle over what the purpose of that could be, and I introduced an indestructible glass substance called elderglass. They find an elderglass bottle and a goofy glass battery thing. Later, they got attacked by some weird flying octopus.

Magical flight or flapping?

Magical I guess. Who knows? They're in the MM. I was doing this all with very little planning. Then they fought some goblins and rats, poking around this complex. Eventually they stumbled onto old living quarters with two Yuan-ti studying old fragments from the library. One was the chick who escaped from them earlier.

Quite the menagerie.

They dogpile the chick in the surprose round and just destroy her. They were pissed that she escaped before. The dude stands up and now they realize he's quite a bit less human than they thought. He was 8 feet tall and had a hood that flared like a cobras when he was angry. And a bite attack.

So they flank him (I pull some punches and say he's too angry to use his spell-like abilities) and they almost drop him. I check his list of spells and he has Deeper Darkness as a 7th level wizard (Darkness: 1 Day/Level). He drops this bomb in a cluttered library with a dead body and 4 characters. Cue the retard shuffle. He almost gets away but a character found the outside edge of the darkness the turn before he did so they got an attack of opportunity and dropped him as he ran out of the dark.

Very cool.

So then we have fun rolling his treasure on the random tables in the DMG. So they got some armour for the thief, a potion, some random artwork (I love those) and some old books. They decided to rest because they had no spells left (only 2nd level) so the cleric realizes he can do comprehend languages for the next day's spells and read the books.

Smart kid.

So I make up something about the books being sciency and they can understand words but not understand the content, like if I read a graduate physics paper. Across the hall there's a room similar to the one where they found the library, but this one's door is sealed with ten solid feet of elderglass.

What are the walls made of?

Elderglass, with a padding of stone 10 feet thick around that.

Tough.

Yeah, so they go back towards where they came in because there was another hallway. They follow it and find specimen tanks: eight feet tall, five feet in diameter, elderglass cylinders filled with mystery fluid. Suspended in the liquid are various things, for example a human corpse with a disease like ebola.

Very sci-fi. I like it.

Across the way, they find a morgue with bizarre floating slabs and magical cooling. The next room was a lab covered with broken alchemy gear around the outsides and one of the glass cylinders with it's bottom cut off. They assumed the tank had been open for hundreds of years, then one slipped on what seemed to be tank liquid still drying on the floor.

Now they're worried. On edge, they continued down the hall. This whole session they haven't fought at all. They go down the hall, find a janitor's closet with collapsed shelves and dust. Then the floor of the hallway for 30 feet is all torn up so there's a part thats a foot deeper and it's filled with oil. And there are scorch marks on the walls.

Creepy. Feels like action soon.

They go down the stairs, around the corner, and now they're sort of under the labs above. They find a big storage room full of the cylinders like above. They look around and suddenly one of the things in the tanks moves. The paladin starts searching for evil in all the tanks, casts detect undead (I've made mindless undead that aren't controlled, neutral not evil). There's a few spots of minor evil and two very very strong spots. Each spot is a cylinder.

Perhaps the one that is twitching?

They check out the guy who moved, his cylinder has blue rods like the batteries they found earlier sticking out and some are dark, so they replace those and he perks up, but he can't talk. He's not evil. They check out one of the very evil things. In the corner there are two cylinders: one looks like it was filled completely, not even an air bubble, with ink. The other has a large Gibbering Mouther (blob with infinite mouths).

Gak.

The gibbering mouther cylinder has all 20 of it's batteries fully bright (most of them have none). And as they check the back they find another yuan-ti. Then the mouther squeezes a tentacle out a cut in the top of its tank.

Begin action.

So they fight, and the yuan-ti falls back through an illusionary wall. They give chase, and drop him with an arrow. Excited about the monster in the tank, they forget to do a coup de grace attack to be sure, because there's still the monster behind them and they can now hear goblins approaching. They form up to face the goblins, but the goblins brought a 1st level cleric and he can cast 1 hp cures to pop up anyone who's in the negative hit points. He brings the yuan-ti up, which really pisses off the PC who dropped him with the crossbow just before, so in retaliation he decides to summon a celestial badger. The celestial badger has three attacks as a full round action.

Nice.

First round: drop yuan-ti, again, hit cleric once. Second round: wizard hits cleric with crossbow, badger gets attack of opportunity when cleric tries to cast a 0th level heal on the yuan-ti, again; disrupts the spell, then lands three more attacks, dropping the cleric. Badger spell expires. Goblins successfully bullrush the cleric out of the line, getting an opportunity for hitting the rogue. An entangle spell got dropped at some point, so nobody could move. This means that the rogue and wizard killed all the goblins with ranged weapons because only they had them. All the while, the gibbering mouther was spitting blobs of acid randomly through the illusionary wall. They make you go blind.

Ouch.

They win in the end and go back to investigating the mouther. They steal its batteries at the base of the cylinder and refill the ones in the base of the guy who moved a bit. They notice there are rails on the ceiling at this point and find a door high on the wall that they can't open.

They're distracted here and then they hear a motion in the back corner again, and there's a huge snake dude, upper body human, lower body giant fucking snake. He's got a crazy device, like a big gun almost, but it has a big spiral of the blue battery glass rods. He's using it to cut the elderglass on the mouther's tank.

They start shooting arrows at him and the paladin and the cleric charge in. The thing basically ignores them, but it does use spell like abilities on them, like cause fear and suggestion: "leave me alone for a few minutes".

Does it all work?

Most of it. The wizard was immune.

Outlook is bleak.

They were rolling really well, hitting its high armour class reliably. It was just about dead when it finished cutting through the top of the thing. It triggered its chameleon skin power at the same time as there was a metallic thump: the doors high in the wall that they couldn't open earlier suddnely opened on their own. The rogue jumped up to look inside and there was just the blue glow of the battery rods and two blue eyes.

Perhaps time to run.

Then this ten foot tall metal construct swings along the rails in the ceiling and rushes over to fight the mouther that is exploding out of it's tank. The construct looks at the characters, says something in a language they don't understand, manifests an ability and says to them in their language: "Run."

So three run like their asses are on fire but the Wizard (who has never played before) wants to stay and watch. At this point, the paladin and cleric think that the mouther has something like 25 hit dice (they misinterpreted how detect evil was waorking) so they thought that there wasn't anything 2nd level characters could do. The rogue isn't so much into just facing death so he bailed. Finally the wizard was there alone, and the giant snake dude ambushed him, using the chameleon power.

They're grappling, and the wizard pulls a dagger and they fight. The wizard makes some lucky rolls and I weaken the snake guy, not giving him his strength bonus to damage on his constriction damage. He had ten arrows stuck into him and was at 4hp. The wizard kills him with a dagger.

Nice work.

Yeah, so he ended up getting the fusion cutter. That's what they called the thing that was cutting the elderglass.

That will be helpful later.

Yeah. they're already thinking of cutting out the guy who moved around. They went back to check on the fight between the mouther and the robot. The robot was back in its alcove and the mouther was nowhere to be found, presumably down the tunnel behind the illusionary wall. They guy who moved is human looking but has white cataracted eyes. The funniest thing was when we rolled the treasure randomly, which I really enjoy doing because it gives me ways of giving them clues that they will definitely examine. The random result was 5000cp. What the hell is that?

Ha ha ha. Hard to carry. Do they cut they guy out?

We ended there. They haven't figured out what exactly they're going to do. They're hurt and they have used their spells.


-gap-


What was the last thing I told you? Had they left the city to go north through the forest?

I don't think we had got back to the city. They freed the plane shift guy, and then had an encounter.

Yeah, then they found a cave with a broken old city.

Big cave.

They failed to stop some snake people teleporting out, fought bug bears and an owl bear, and after that they decided against opening a big door with many bugbears on the other side. When the snake people teleported away, Nomad (the plane shift guy) was able to track them. It's a psionic ability. Teleportation is important in the campaign.

Ok, so, go home, rest up, hunt them down.

He told them where the snake people had teleported to so they left him at the church of Ra. But before they left he asked them to find a crystal at the place they were going, and he taught all but one of them how to tap their psionic potential, which would allow them to communicate with the non-men machines.

Golems?

Non-men are the ancient people who made all the technology. They're just called non-men. They weren't golems, but they built golems. Nomad isn't actually human, he's an Elan. He's immortal as long as he isn't killed and he can sustain himself without food or water, which is how he lived for 2500 years in the tube.

The elderglass can stop all teleportation or plane shifting, which is why he couldn't get out.

Why did he go in? Oh, you told me that. He was recovering from something, then everyone died?

Yeah, his eyes were destroyed by a disease that exudes an anti-magic field. While he was in the tube, the apocalypse wiped out the non-men.

So, the characters travelled through the forest, fought a bunch of spiders and then some ettercaps. They found treasure, which I rolled randomly and they got some fun stuff: plate mail +1, gloves of arrow snatching, ring of protection +1, and pearl of power. Then they got to the spire.

Man, this takes me back to the day.

They killed some ogres outside the spire. It was half buried in a hill but the entrance had recently been dug out. Inside they founds stairs going up and down. First they went up to the top and killed two more ogres and found a weird lens that they could move.

The spire had black glass columns that went up through each floor to a point at the very top where they met, and the lens was focusing the sun onto the point they met. They found one of the columns had a large crack in it.

Of all the PCs, only the elf rogue failed his check to unlock his psionic potential, so of course he was the only one to climb up to the lens and he couldn't hear the machine talking to him.

Sucks.

Then they went down to the very bottom and a snake guy saw them coming and sacrificed a snake chick and teleported away in a flash of purple light.

In the bottom floor, the four columns came together in a pedestal. The characters with psionics could hear the columns talking to them. Each column had four tiles in a slot at the bottom: red, blue and yellow plus clear or black (two with clear, two with black). By putting different combinations and then standing on the platform they could hear the device say either crystallize and then a colour (e.g. crystallize purple if they put in the two blacks and a red and blue).

Weird.

They figured out that if they aimed the lens at the sun there would be a countdown and then whatever was on the platform would be changed into crystal of that colour. The wizard got his right arm turned into purple crystal. Then they crystallized some stones for Nomad. Other combinations of colours gave names of places: the purple, where the snake guy went was Plain of Statues. There was also Reef and Forge. But the teleportation thing didn't work, even with the lens pointed at the sun.

So what about the wizard's arm? Won't he want to fix it?

At first he didn't, but then he realized he can't really cast spells properly. Nomad will fix it for him. He has the reality revision power.

Handy.

The wizard player is new. He didn't understand what somatic components of spells meant. I'm trying to make them not rely on Nomad too much, but they keep getting into trouble.

They got back to the city, and fought dire wolves on the way, which almost kicked their asses. In the city they gave nomad the crystal and he told them that he needed a day to align it so he could bring it to life and see through its eyes.

Oh, because his eyes are still wreaked?

And he also told them that the crack in the black column would stop it from working for teleportation. The crystal thing doesn't use them. It's more a function of geography.

Yeah, he can't see, so his teleportation is useless because he needs to know where he is. He also told them that the place they found him is the forge, which the teleportation spire was talking about but he didn't know the reef.

He said the glass columns are made from a black goo that hardens when exposed to air. It oozes out of the ground in tar pits. They decided they were strong enough now (level 5) to check out the bug bears they ran from before. The soldiers they had warned had build some light fortifications around the door but said they were welcome to go in if they wanted. They used a soften earth and stone wand they found earlier to dig through the wall around the gate and attacked the bugbears watching the door.

Smart.

The cave on the other side was realy noisy with the sound of forging. There were more than a dozen forges all working together, so the other bugbears didn't hear the alarm. They did some sneaking around and burned all the barracks with sleeping bugbears and then fought a few. About half the smiths attacked them but the other half ran away and collapsed the tunnel behind themselves. Once they took out the bug bears they found a fountain of liquid steel. When you took it out it stayed malleable as long as you were touching it but if you let it sit it would harden to steel hardness in about a minute, so you can sculpt with it. The bugbears were making swords, spear heads and armour with it. They'd make the shape roughly while it was liquid then use regular forging to finish it.

Sounds like they are mustering for war.

There were three buildings that were locked. Inside each was a ring gate. The ones on the left and right were just big enough to pass a sword through.

A ring gate?

A permanent gate to the matching ring, like a teleportation or a wormhole. You could stick your arm through it, but all you could see was the wall of the room it was connected to. The ring gates were floating in mid air and were immovable. Looks like a section of pipe about 15 cm long with diameter about 15 cm.

The middle locked room had a large ring gate that armour could be passed through but living matter couldn't pass (a safety precaution). They took a bunch of the liquid steel to sell in the city, and that's where they ended. Nomad will fix their arm and I hope one of them will realize that the location of reef is marked on the map that they can't read but it's pretty obvious.

How did they discover that living matter couldn't pass through the large gate?

The rogue tried to stick his arm through.

Ouch.

It was just like a wall. He had already safely stuck his arm through the smaller one.

They haven't really realized that the snake guys are behind all of it, but actually the snake guys were made by the non-men for a war. They use psi-like powers.

I've already decided that the non-men created diseases and modified themselves until they basically degenerated. So now there's three factions. Hags, Ogre magi and Mind flayers.

Decendants of nonmen?

Basically. They warped themselves for new powers and unleashed plagues on each other, and wiped out their own civilization. The Plain of Statues is going to be fun. That's were they're going to meet mind flayers for the first time.

I'd be afraid of mind flayers.

Yeah, they're pretty tough.

All the non-men descendants are going to have blue skin. The Plain of Statues is a huge fortress that was the last retreat for one of the non-men groups. The ground around it for a huge area is actually a grid with holes, and there's a constant heavy rainstorm, except over the actual fortress. The grid lets the water sluice away.

Anyone who doesn't have PP or psi-like powers has to constantly make progressively harder saving throws or turn to stone. That's where the statues came from. There are thousands.

So, your elf will be fucked.

Yeah, he's going away for a couple of weeks, so I was trying to think of a way to remove him temporarily.

That would be handy, if he had to stay in the city to look after something, or if you just wounded him badly and he needed time to heal.

Yeah. If they don't get to the plain before he leaves I'll think of something else.


So I think the last I told you they were in the salt marsh?

I don't remember that. They were about to go to the plane of statues.

The teleporter thing didn't work, so they went back to the city, and they gave the crystals they made to Nomad who was going to take a day to attune one so he could see through it.

During that day of attuning, they went back down under the city to investigate the bugbears that they had to flee from before. They snuck in, fought a bunch of them, set some barracks on fire and chased off the rest.

Right, and found the liquid steel?

Yeah. Okay. So they talked to nomad and he told them that the cracks in the black glass columns in the spire were stopping the teleporter from working and that they needed to find black goop from the salt marsh south of Roses.

They went to roses, bought some masterwork weapons and armour, some other supplies, and hired a boat to take them to the town called Marsh. They got there and found out that one of the two tribes of lizard men had become way more aggressive and better armed lately.

Unlucky boatman.

They found out about the lizards in the town. They went out, met the nice tribe, got a guide and went looking for the black goo. On the way the encountered a woman being chased by three lizard men. They saved her, killing one and scaring off the other two, and the woman told them she had been on a ship that ran aground and they were under attack by lizard men.

Lots of loot in a ship.

They rushed off to help her, but the wizard was suspicious, so he cast detect magic and discovered illusion magic on her, so he just straight up blaster her with his crossbow.

She turned out to be a hag.

Nice work by the wizard.

She dove under the swampy water and swam away, but they managed to follow her and found a hag coven: two sea hags and a green hag, plus ogre guards. A couple of fireballs and some brawling later, they'd won.

They looted the place, found mostly gems, plus a cool magical crossbow. They collected their black goo and then headed back to the town. They also found a load of copper coins and steel weapons like the ones the bugbears had been making. They buried it all and told the nice tribe where they could get it to keep or sell.

They rested in Marsh, then decided they were going to take out the bad lizard man tribe. They convinced the nice tribe to provide archers and slingers as support because they expected about thirty fighters in the bad tribe.

Very altruistic.

That was a long drawn out battle without much reward other than people liking them. Then they went back to Oak, dropped off some stuff and went to the spire and teleported to the plain of statues. The teleportation circle they appeared in was in sunlight but all around it was heavy, pouring rain.

Is the non-psi character with them?

Yeah. The elf, but his player is away right now.

The ground outside the circle was a grid, so the rain could drain away. There were statues everywhere, all facing in one direction. They went that direction and the elf turned to stone after a couple of minutes.

Nice.

They fought a water elemental and then got out of the rain into another sunny area, where they found a huge fortress. The walls are 30 meters tall and 10 meters thick. The massive gate had been blasted open and two other holes knocked into the walls, one on either side of the gate a couple of hundred meters away on either side. Across the gate, the word Staberinde was written and below it, the words "is fallen" in different lettering.

Looks like the place has been sacked.

Nomad had told them he'd been in the tube for 3000 years, so they know this place is old. They went in cautiously and explored the grounds of the fortress. There were bones and steel triangles everywhere. There was a large natural stone outcropping inside the fortress walls and on top of that there were some structures.

At the base of the outcropping there were nine buildings, eight identical barracks type places. Seven of those had the doors knocked in and were in varying states of disarray. The eighth had the doors intact but was still mostly empty. They found a lot more steel triangles of varying sizes.

In the intact one they found a sort of metal golem made of layers of steel triangles. it was on a rack and about 6 feet tall but its rack was the smallest size of three and the largest racks would have held humanoids about 22 feet tall.

So the triangles are the remains of golems.

Yeah. The barracks were arranged in two groups of four. Between them was a lower building more square in shape. They went in and found a sort of lobby, with elevators (described so they didn't really get what they were until they forced the doors and found cables). The building had the same trick as the spire: looks like stone from the outside but transparent walls from the inside.

They found a big meeting room and a lounge type area. There was also a huge blast in the lobby where one wall was blown in. They went upstairs and found smaller meeting rooms and offices.

Eventually they found a different set of stairs and the construction of the walls changed from stone-like to a layered metal, everglass, and stone. It was all damaged by heavy fighting, but a long time ago.

They went through a series of defensive bottlenecks that were all torn up by fighting and strewn with lots of old bones and golem remains. They found a room with a map of the region inlaid into the floor and a closed everglass door. There was also a fresh corpse across the room. As they were about to cross the map to check the guy they noticed red lights glowing in the eyes of two metal silhouettes of soldiers on either side of the door.

Cool.

They argued about what they should do for a while then finally the wizard forced the matter by "falling" onto the map. Rather than the soldiers attacking them like they expected, the map pulled itself up out of the floor and became an animated blob of steel that they had to fight.

The paladin ducked out of the fight and checked the dead blue guy, who wasn't quite dead, healed him up, then checked if he was evil (bad order of operations).

He was, but he helped them fight the blob and got his ass kicked again in the process. They healed the blue guy again, a bit, so he was conscious for interrogation. He was an ogre mage.

Didn't he look evil?

He claimed to be a non-man.

Very old then.

He looked like a really tall blue human, with a giant sword. He told them a bit about the fortress, how the ogre mages were fighting the tentacled ones, who were a weapon created by the non-men to fight the mechanists, who built Staberinde originally.

The Organics (the group of non-men the ogre mage claimed to be part of) wiped out the mechanists but the mechanists had engineered a plague that stopped the organics from using the devices they had built.

Like a machine plague?

He don't know. But Nomad was infected by a disease developed on a specially germinated demi-plane that he stumbled across. That's what destroyed his eyes.

Okay.

When they were talking to the blue guy, they could hear the buzzing sound of a device talking to them and when they went near the closed everglass door it annouced that it was the "Command Center".

The door opened for them, which amazed the blue guy. They went in, and the room was all black (screens that weren't working) and had a telepathic interface.

What about the evil oger mage?

He said he owed them a favour and warned them not to go to Limbo because his people were dangerous. He wouldn't attack them because they saved him.

The interface allowed them the options of soldier control (offline), labyrinth access control and armoury. The labyrinth access doors were jammed open so that didn't work, but the armoury worked and a hidden elevator opened.

The wizard took it down into a buried spherical chamber that had another psychic interface. This one had options for Animator (offline), Tesselator (online), Artillery (offline) and Converter (ambassador option). The ambassador option makes amulets that shield the mind and allow people to cross the plain of statues safely.

Very useful.

The tesselator breaks metal things into smaller triangles that hold together magically. If you can interact with the psyichic interfaces you can cause the item to assemble or disassemble and it becomes much smaller, like a sword becomes a bracelet, armour becomes a belt, but it's only marinally lighter.

So they tesselated their weapons and armour, and that's where they ended.

Why tesselate their stuff?

They can hide it and draw it as a free action (for weapons) or a standard action (for armour). That means the paladin can put on his full plate armour as a single action instead of in ten minutes.

Okay cool. So does that mean that your stuff can turn into a pile of trinagles, and then resume its proper shape? Or is it just stretchy?

Basically, but they can mentaly shape it into a smaller thing by commanding it to disassemble. That's how it changes from a suit of plate armour into a belt. It also makes heavy armour count as medum and medium as light.

Well, it sounds like a good quest.

It's been fun. What they don't realize yet is that the "tentacled ones" that the ogre mage was hunting are a group of mind flayers that have taken over the castle, and that the castle on top of the natural outcropping can fly.

Flying castle: very dangerous. After they fought the map, was it destroyed?

Yeah, it just fell to pieces.


So, did I tell you about them going through the Labyrinth?

No. Last I remember was crossing the plain of statues. And triangle golems.

Okay, so they investigated in the citadel and found old barracks, which were mostly broken into and had seen combat. And they found a big map that turned into a blob, and they rescued an ogre mage.

Right.

Yeah, so they sleep in the control chamber, then they go and get the elf who turned to stone, because they found an amulet to change him back. Then they decide to go through the labyrinth. They know that's what it's called because the control chamber had an option to open or close the door to it.

They walk in and are going through a ten foot wide, ten foot high metal corridor. Suddenly the elf (who had been turned to stone) is in a different, identical looking corridor. Teleported.

Spooky.

They figure out that he's on a lower level. The main group gets to the end of their passage and they're about 20 feet above the floor level. The elf runs around, looking for stuff. The guys up top have the monk jump over to a catwalk and they string a rope across for the rest. The wizard makes it, but the cleric falls. There's water between the paths on the lower level and he lands in it. Immediately giant metal tentacles rush for him but he makes it onto the land.

The elf goes to check out a treasure chest that was slightly lit, opens it, setting off a gas trap, knocking him out. The cleric goes over and pulls him out, revives him.

Lucky escape from the giant metal tentacles.

They go over and find a way to activate a sort of forcefield ramp letting the other guys get down to the lower level. They go down and there's a large square area with four metal minotaur statues.

Dangerous.

They walk past those and there's a long stretch of metal floor. The wizard and monk decide to go down it, but halfway along the floor starts to ripple, threatening to knock them into the water. The monk clears one ripple but not the next. The wizard just runs back. Now the minotaurs come to life and they have a fight.

So the wizard is between the minotaurs and the rippling floor?

Yeah, but they all get into the fight eventually. The wizard has an 18 con, so he has tons of HP.

They go to investigate a dead body they found and a series of wall pushing traps push them into the water a bunch when they keep failing their reflex saves and sneak checks (it's sound activated). The monk has to jump into the water to break the grapple of the tentacles because he's grapple focused and the others aren't

He does this about 6 times. We were all laughing pretty hard about it at the time.

Cool.

They figure out how to disable the ripple floor (the rogue and monk jump across the water and do it) so they all get out, but another unmarked teleporter gets the elf and he has to jump down from a raised catwalk to a point after the teleporter.

This brings them to the end of the labyrinth. It was probably the best series of puzzles and encounters I've ever run. It worked out well.

The labyrinth sounded really cool.

Now they're able to get to the top of the plateu that has the actual castle. Up there, they find some of the snake dudes on a broken down wall keeping watch. They fight them but one runs to give the alarm. Behind the wall is an area covered with standing everglass spikes about 40 feet tall.

As the snake guy runs past there there's a weird sound and a cone of dust kicks up and the snake man goes down.

Dies?

Yeah, and they don't see what nailed him. The others are all worried that it's some sort of trap but the wizard just walks up to check it out. He finds the ogre mage is there, who tells them that they should check out the pyramids south of the castle before they try to go inside.

There are other ogre mages as well.

Okay. Cool.

The ogre guy also tells him that the spikes of elderglass were feeding tubes for mechanical flying monsters. There's a magical flight suppression field in effect all around the fortress which was a defense mechanism. The non-men who made all the devices had mechanical flying monster as weapons.

So they check out some busted buildings and find the other end of the ring gates they had found earlier, which had the swords, spears and armour coming through. They also find a stockpile of weapons and put them all through the ring gates after yelling through one until a soldier from the city, who was guarding the area they had cleared out before came over to investigate. They paid that guy to get some friends to move all the weapons and armour out of the cave and into the city. Then they killed some more snake dudes in a barracks.

Good haul so far.

They went to investigate the four pyramids and found a lot of snake men sacrificing various monsters. Four of them were the big ones who are mostly snake and about a dozen of them were the regular human sized ones with snake features.

They watched while a doppelganger was sacrificed. The large snake dudes were holding up the glass rods that powered the thing they used to cut everglass and when the doppelganger was killed the rods started to glow.

And the snake people have always been our enemies?

Yeah.

And they're gathering life essence or something.

They don't know this, but the snake men are harvesting psionic energy to recharge the rods. They can't use true psionics anymore because of the plague the artificers unleashed.

Around the area where the sacrifices were going on, there were cages: one had a large blue and white spider, one had a big bug with feathery feelers under its eyes and the last had a large, purple six legged panther with tentacles.

Displacer beast.

Yeah. The snake men started dragging the displacer beast towards the sacrifical area so the elf snuck around the cages seeing if he could open it, but as he did, the spider looked right at him and said, in his mind: "Free me!"

So as the others attacked the big snake dudes, the rogue freed the spider, which immediately went for a snake guy. The wizard dropped a fireball on the smaller snake guys dragging the displacer beast, effectively freeing it, and in the mayhem they managed to kill all the snakes dudes.

Awesome.

The spider and the displacer beast ran off, though the spider told them it couldn't plane shift there (phase spider) and took off for the teleport circle they came in originally.

They needed rest at this point so they went somewhere. The next day, they went to the castle.

Quite the adventure.

Yeah, it's been going really well. The castle is elevated above the plane on what looks like an inverted, stepped pyramid, so the base is smaller than the top. It has a bunch of scaffolding that was obviously added on after the initial construction.

Oh yeah, I forgot, they found 120 charged glass rods.

Very useful.

They went up to the castle and entered the front courtyard. The walls are odd in that they don't have crenelations or battlements or anything. They're just smooth, black thick walls with flat tops.

Weird.

There's an upper courtyard ahead of them, a large building on the left, and two smaller but taller buildings on the right. They went to the closest smaller one and they found a huge, relatively intact metal triangle golem. Its lower body had collapsed a passageway down into the foundation of the castle. as they walked by, the thing came to life and tried grabbing them, knocking the wizard off the stairs. It managed to grab the paladin and steal his bag of glass rods (so they're down to 90). The monk ran ahead and found controls for a sort of crane thing and accidentally dropped a load of scrap metal on the wizard and paladin.

Ouch!

They managed to use the crane to hold off one arm of the golem to let them get by and they went on up to the top of the building and found some storage spaces and laboratory space. There's a locked closet they haven't been able to open yet because it needs a password.

At the second level, when they had just escaped from the golem they found a door and the rogue checked it out and found a door into the other small building. He opened it up and saw that the catwalk in front of the door was covered in a thick trail of blood, some of it fresh.

There was a huge cylindrical tank, extending all the way to the top of the building, made of pieces of everglass badly fused together. The tank was entirely filled with a massive brain and from the cracks in the glass there is a clear, viscous fluid leaking.

He ran away.

Smart rogue.

So when they get to the top, they go across to the brain building and they see the huge brain. There are two guys facing away from the door, they have pale blue skin and no hair. He's about to sneak away when the brain makes a weird buzzing sound and the two guys turn to look at him. They're mind flayers.

Here comes the pain.

Yeah, so immediately it's "will save". Fails it. Paralyzed.

The paladin charges in (good saves) and he nails one. The monk and wizard come in and engage them but a bunch of snake dudes come charging up.

Not looking good.

Long battle. They kill those guys but then another group of snake dudes come, this time with a couple of big ones, and they start throwing out their spell like abilities. So now the rogue, when he's finally not stunned is unable to go within 20 feet of a snake as is the wizard.

Two more mind flayers come and this time the paladin fails his save and they're trying desperately to kill these guys. They got really lucky with the mind flayers. The wizard made his spell penetration rolls most of the time so they went down. The brain wants them taken alive because it can sense that they can use psionics a bit, but the players don't realize this.

The big snake guy left to prepare a better way to capture them alive, so they managed to kill the immediate threats, but just before he left, the snake guy managed to nail the paladin with a spell-like-ability. The pally had made a ton of saves up to that point so it was funny that the one he failed was baleful polymorph (snake).

Ha ha ha.

That's where it ended. They're out of spells, the paladin is a snake (permanently! until a dispel magic is successful at least) and neither the rogue nor the wizard can come within 20 feet of the paladin.

Lots of fun using the suggestion at will spell-like-abilities of the mind flayers, because when the rogue hit them with a crit or a sneak attack he'd disable their abilities, starting with the most powerful. It's what he can do as a sort of consolation prize for not having the psionic thing.

That's cool. It's a really awesome adventure.


So can you refresh me about the last thing I told you?

The second last time was the map thing. After that they went through the labrynth. They entered the actual castle and saw the big brain, and the one guy was turned into a snake, and everyone was hurt.

Yeah, so they were on the run through the castle and they got ambushed by a wizard in the courtyard. He blocked their escape, so they ended up running around the castle, but they were herding them, not trying to kill them.

In the end, the wizard found a sercret door that the snake guys couldn't open and hid in there to heal and regain spells.

Lucky.

They managed to remove the snake spell and they were planning on sneaking out, but first they went back to check the giant brain. It started talking to them and revealed that its name was ego. It talked to them and answered their questions.

So it wasn't hostile?

Nope, it talks to anyone who wants to talk to it, and it had been there for a long time but couldn't actually do much to affect its surroundings. It revealed that the mind flayers were created by the non-men as a weapon.

A weapon that got out of hand.

Exactly.

They found a passcode for a locked door and there was a console that let them activate an elevator. They went down the elevator and put some of their charged up glass rods into a big machine and switched off the flight suppression field that Ego told them about. The castle shook, and when they went back up to the main level, they head out to the courtyard and see the wizard there, and there's a bunch of snake dudes standing around in the courtyard with bows drawn. Then a swarm of ogre magi fly over the walls and start a huge brawl with the yuan-ti.

Nice.

They're thinking about running away, so they go to the back wall and climb up, look over, and now the castle is floating about 800 feet above the plateau. So they can't really get down from the castle. Instead they go back to watch the fight and hopefully let them all kill each other.

The wizard is handing people their shit but the ogre magi are killing the other snake dudes. They decide to get into the fight but they get hit by a fireball (except for the rogue).

Ouch. Which side are they fighting on?

Kind of roughly on the ogre magi side, because at least one is marginally friendly with them.

Fair enough.

So they're getting hurt now, and there's a big ripple in the fabric of reality and a booming sound. Almost everyone falls down, and then nomad steps out of nowhere and cooks a bunch of the ogre magi and the snake dudes.

Wow. I'd forgotten about him.

Yeah. He tells them that he's broken the plane shifting forbiddance and that they have to leave, right away. He opens a portal to the city of Oak and as they're going through it about 100 mind flayers plane shift into the castle.

Bad news. So when he says he's broken it, he doesn't mean he's broken a rule, he means he has dismantled whatever was stopping everyone from shifting.

Yeah, all teleportation was blocked. They vaguely knew because the phase spider they released told them it had to get to a circle to teleport.

Right.

So they get back to Oak and Nomad tells them that he found some old allies on the outer planes, and they have been trying to keep the control system for the mind flayers in check - a thing called the overmind.

So Nomad is asking them to prepare themselves to break into the overmind's cavern and destroy it, while Nomad and his allies distract it. The wizard in the group also went and talked to his old master (the court wizard) and the duke.

Oh, so the control system for the mind flayers doesn't inhibit them, it drives them.

Yeah. It gives them purpose.

They got letters of introduction to the majordomo to the king, the court wizard and an artificer in Roses, the capitol city.

All in preparatation for the attack on the overmind?

Yeah. They go down there, and find out that they need to get some crystal lenses from a mine near the city of Granite to get darkvision goggles. They also need mindblank amulets but the aritficer had to take some time to think about that.

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