Monday, November 14, 2016

Contests, Teleporters, and Artifacts, Oh My!

This was an eventful session, with a lot going on! The Party:

  • Rig Bigny, Gnomish Beastmaster
    • Flit, the bat familiar
    • Clench, the Wardog War-Badger
    • Faufe Yitaw, Dogwere (Badgerwere?)
      • Rawf, Wardog familiar
  • Caranthir, Human Leader of Men
    • Rhea Trueheart, Elvish Nightblade
    • Lucille "Luce" Burwood, Fighter
    • Elenora Garrard, White Mage
  • Gróin of Norston, Dwarven Sapper
    • Zarc, Thrassian Gladiator
  • Llarm Paphyra, Elvish Polydoctorate
    • The Metal Man, construct
  • Airsen Birdmaster, Airwalker
    • Sara, Airwalker
    • Erik Stein, Dwarven Vaultguard
  • Sneakily, Spy
    • Dzixud, Thrassian Assassin

As you may recall, the adventurers returned from the depths of the tower to recover. The next morning, they awoke to the sound of running feet and shouting voices; thankfully, it wasn't an attack - it was a party! In fact, it was Guard's Day, named for those who served on the wall, in the mountains, and in cities everywhere. The party met up with Llarm and Rig (though Caranthir was still in bed for his week of bed rest). There were mini-potions to buy, events to participate in, and contests to win. The group tried their hands at a few of those.

Luce, Rhea, Zarc, and Erik entered a fighting contest; the rules were simple: with plate armor and a sword or other cloth-wrapped weapon, the first to strike the other gains a point; three points wins a match. Everyone beat thee guard they went up against; Luce placed third, winning 5 gp, and Zarc and Erik ended up facing each other. They matched each other point for point, with the third point being a tie - two simultaneous strikes! Zarc's natural armor and ferocity won the day, earning him 50gp, and the respect of the guards. Erik placed second, losing the tie-breaking round, though still earning a handsome 15 gp.

Next was an archery contest; Airsen, Rhea, Sneakily, Sara, and their old friend Leif Airson entered. The targets were worth 1 point (white), two points (red), three points (blue), or four points (gold). In round 1, Airsen, Sneakily, and Rhea hit red, while Leif hit blue, and Sara missed. In the second round, at medium range, Leif and Rhea missed, as did Sara; Sneakily and Airsen both landed their arrows in red once again. The third round, and long range, Rhea managed to hit white, while Airsen and Sara hit red. That left Airsen in first, Sneakily in second, and Rhea in third place.

As the sun dimmed, a final contest for the day was announced - a drinking contest! Rig, Leif, Gróin, Llarm, and many soldiers participated. One after another slid under the tables, until only Gróin, Leif, and Rig remained. Rig finished his last drink, snoozing gently as he was awarded third place; Leif braved two more before leaving the top of the table, and Gróin - inebriated but still standing - accepted his 50 gp prize.

The next morning, everyone managed to come out none the worse for wear. Good thing, too, because lunch-time entertainment was to be an eating contest! While most of the party's fighters bowed out, Llarm, the dwarves, Zarc, and the airwalkers joined in. Once again, Gróin took first place; one of the guard took second, much to the delight of the crowd, while third place went to Leif Airson.

As the festivities continued, the party decided to shop around; of particular interest were the mini-potions. Unlike a regular potion, these potions only last 1d3+3 rounds (though the interaction effect lasts an hour). Potions of mini-healing that heal 1d3 hp, potions of mini-poison that merely induce sickness for an hour, and so on were snatched up in great quantities. Normally, these potions would be much more expensive, but they were reduced to essentially "cost" for the mages and clerics as a gift to the guards of the wall - and their guests, luckily. Chances of finding mini-potions again are slim, unless they meet someone from the wall.

Once Caranthir recovered, the party journeyed to Riverbend, where Llarm learned a new spell, and the group heard a few rumors - smugglers in the area, and a job offer from the mage college. Rig, sensing an opportunity, asked about the offer; apparently, the mages needed living creatures to transport material, and material by itself was unable to be teleported. The mage assured Rig that no one had been harmed by the device for well over 6 years, and calculations show that it should work perfectly for at least the next eight years, two months, six days, and seven minutes. Give or take. Convinced, Rig gathered the team and announced his plan: carry the goods, and use the teleportation as payment, knocking weeks off their travel time. The team agreed.

Sneakily, borrowing Sara from Airsen, left to report in to the Assassin's guild; however, before he managed to get there, he was ambushed by a swarm of carnivorous flies! The flies tore into him, overcoming both he and Sara in a matter of seconds. When they didn't return for several hours, their friends went looking for them; a bystander mentioned that they had been taken to the Sisters of Hope nearby. Caranthir barged in, demanding to see his friends, brandishing his sword. The proprietor, Sister Marge, disapproved, and called her friend Edgar in to assist. Irritated, Caranthir continued waving his sword around... until Edward lifted him bodily into the air. Rhea attempted to hold a knife to the Sister's throat, but found herself suddenly with a knife at her own! They were ushered out, and Airsen politely asked forgiveness for his friends, and asked to see the injured.

Sister Marge lead him to them, sadly explaining how she had tried her best, but the two had died from their injuries. They had both lost all the equipment they had, apart from armor, and the treasure map, tucked into Sneakily's shirt. Gróin paid for Sneakily to be resurrected; even so, he needed a full two weeks of recovery. The party left him to recover as they attempted to teleport to the Pointless Tower. They met a young elven ranger, who joined the party (Sneakily's replacement). Dzixud stayed behind with Sneakily.

The teleportation was simple enough, leaving them high in the air; careful work allowed them to lower their two horses and cart down the side of the tower. Rhea and Erik were picked to return with the various notes the mages had taken, studying the tower; they arrived, but instead of the two young mages, they saw two tottering, ancient mages. The two mages explained that they had arrived 150 years in the future; Erik, realizing that most of his friends and family were dead, was overcome with grief, but Rhea was a bit more stoic - it's only half a lifetime for an elf, after all. Finally, the two mages could hold it in no longer, and burst out laughing, as the two original mages entered the room, laughing so hard tears rolled down their faces. "Oh! You should have seen your faces! It works every time!"

The two were sent back, slightly miffed, and the journey resumed. Halfway to the marked treasure, the party found a group of 9 thoghrin, and were joined in combat! First thing, Erik was slashed with a paralyzing touch; Llarm Sleep'd three of the creatures, and Airsen quickly slew them... only for them to stumble to their feet as they healed! Zarc was paralyzed next, then Luce, then Fawfe, as the thoghrin bounced up and down from death to life. Finally, after Llarm and Rig torched two, and Airsen poured acid on two more, the remainder fled. The rest of the journey was uneventful, and the party arrived at a low hill, guarded by a middle-aged man. He calmly allowed the group to enter, refusing to answer any questions about possible death inside, only saying that none had yet to succeed.

The first room, perfectly round, had exits north, west, and east - or south, back the way they came. Large block letters on the floor read, "Invisible color leads the way, if you but follow the magical way." Gróin quickly cast detect magic, and easily saw the middle trail glowed with a magic aura. The second room was shaped like a diamond; a poem on the wall read, "Always staring, never shut, silken bindings, join them up." On the wall were four objects: a heavy pair of handcuffs, a needle and thread, a silk rope, and a marble. Rhea grabbed the silk rope - which immediately bound her wrists. Luce snagged the handcuffs, but they snapped to her wrists. Attempting to "join them up," the two touched them together, and they indeed bound themselves tightly... but nothing else happened. With reckless abandon, they grabbed the marble, which suddenly grew larger, sticking to them and anything they touched. Caranthir began to hack at it with his sword, but the elf ranger stopped him, and carefully grasped the needle and thread. The eye of the needle, staring forever, and the silk thread to join things up, unlocked the next door.

The third room was oval, with elaborate runes covering the walls; as they entered (leaving the stuck Luce and Rhea behind), the door slammed shut! An apparition wavered into view; pointing a bony finger at them, it moaned, "All have entered, none will leave, until one lifeline you do cleave!" Gróin and Rig inspected the runes - as it turns out, they were ancient elf runes, somewhat close to Gnome. Rig couldn't quite make them out, but Gróin managed to decipher them, at least enough to describe them to Llarm. Most of the runes protected the room, or were exploding runes, but one seemed to be linked to an illusion; Erik swung his heavy mace at it, but didn't managed to damage it until Llarm cast Sharpness on his weapon. The rune cracked and faded out, and the apparition's lifeline was severed. The door ahead opened.

Finally, they entered a square room. In simple common, a phrase on the wall read, "He who prays earnestly, keeps his head." As the door closed, a sand-timer began to count down. Instantly, everyone hit the floor; when the time ran out, an enormous blade whipped out of the wall and slashed across the room. As it reset, the door ahead opened into the last room...

The room, triangular, was empty but for a table with five boxes on it: square, round, diamond, triangle, and oval. Five cubby-holes graced the wall. A voice suddenly intoned, "Heed this tale... Priestess, pious, and magical..."

It stopped, and the first cubby-hole begins glowing dimly. They tried the oval box, but the light went out; when they took the box out, the voice repeated the line again. On their third try, they managed to place the round box in the hole; the voice continued, "...sought to live life unending. She cast unholy spells, to bind..."

It stopped again; they tried the square box, but the light went out. Suddenly, they realized these shapes were familiar - the shapes of the rooms they had gone through! They placed the diamond-shaped box, and the voice went on: "...her soul to her body, everlasting, undying..."

They placed the oval box. "Enraged, her god cast her out and blinded her; powerless, she prayed..." The square box. "But to no avail. Cast out, blinded, helpless, her tale came to an end."

As they placed the triangle box, it suddenly clicked, then popped open, revealing a black felt liner, embroidered with a person's face; though one eye is embroidered, the other is a real eye! Green, and apparently the right eye. Gróin offhandedly joked, "Oh, you're supposed to cut out your eye and put it in." Then everyone saw the drawings on the top of the box: a sketch of a man holding the eye, then stabbing himself in the face, then a closeup, with mismatched eyes. Huh. As it turns out, Gróin's joke may have rung true after all. And, as it happens, Gróin was missing a right eye.

After much argument - including every other member of the party chanting, "Stick! It! In! Stick! It! In!", Gróin attached the eye to his empty socket. And, after a moment, felt a cool, calming sensation, then suddenly experienced a vision of the eye's previous owner: Ajeela, the blind priestess, whose story they had just heard. He also felt as if the eye had some magical effect; he covered his face, trying to activate it. He wondered, briefly, where the treasure was; in response, he suddenly could see the area around the cave! He thought of home, and of Morthor, and of Sneakily, and saw one after the other; Norston, from high above; Morthor, talking with someone, and Sneakily, wrapped in shadowy blankets and resting peacefully. It seemed anything Gróin wasn't familiar with was wrapped in shadows. Finally, his visions ended; he realized that his new eye could cast Scry, once per day! Fancy!

Searching for other treasure, the others lifted the felt, and found a handsome bonus: 6,000 gp! As they gathered their stuck henchmen and left the cave, the man waved them over. "I'm afraid these must remain," he said, and gently lifted the rope and manacles off, grabbing the marble as it suddenly shrank. The ranger, recognizing the symbol the man wore around his neck as matching the gnomish map, asked him about it; he responded that it was a symbol of his order: the Seekers. Airsen showed him the map, and the man passed his hand over the blank spot, revealing a glowing sigil: the same O-with-a-dot-in-the-middle as was on his pendent, and elsewhere on the map. He wished the party good fortune in their treasure hunting, and hoped that they would find that which they sought.

  • XP from encounters:
    • 5 flies (0, defeated)
    • 9 thoghrin (80 each)
  • Treasure:
    • Blind Ajeela's Right Eye (Gróin)
    • 6000 gp
    • Fancy triangular box the treasure came in
    • Embroidered picture of Ajeela
  • Total XP: 6720
  • XP per PC: 707
  • XP per Henchman: 354
  • Treasure per PC: 1000 gp
  • Additional XP and gp from Contests:
    • Luce, Rhea, Rig: 5 gp, 5 xp
    • Erik, Sneakily: 15 gp, 15 xp
    • Leif: 20 gp, 20 xp
    • Airsen, Zarc: 50 gp, 50 xp
    • Gróin: 100 gp, 100 xp

GM Notes

This was a great session; not only did a lot happen, but a few more plot hooks were activated. The mysterious Seekers are sure to show up again...

There was also a bit of PC drama: Sneakily, raised from the dead, will likely return as a henchman; Morthor's player isn't returning for at least a few weeks, which leaves Morthor and his small army out for a bit.

Meanwhile, the players had no idea how poorly things could have gone. As it turns out, Sister Marge not only has three levels of healing... she's also a level 9 assassin. And her henchman, Edgar, is no meaty fighter; he's a hill giant, raised by Sister Marge from infancy. Not too bright, but he's got a heck of a right hook. Granted, apart from his red-rimmed eyes, he doesn't look much like a hill giant; he wears a suit, and wields a heavy cane instead of a club - Sister Marge taught him to be presentable and gentlemanly. He's also quite short, for a hill giant at least, at only 10' tall.

The players also came upon some luck with the puzzles; each step of the final puzzle allows only two mistakes, and the players rode that edge hard. Not that the result is particularly horrible; the room resets and disallows access, forcing the participants to retreat.