Monday, December 5, 2016

There and Back Again

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
    • Erik Stein, Dwarven Vaultguard
  • ???, Elven Ranger

In Roundrock, while the ranger found a trainer for her ferret, Gróin went looking for henchmen. He found a priestess, whose name I forgot to write down (typical). She does, however, speak both Common and Mejastan, which should prove useful if the party were to journey further south.

The ranger attempted to hire a sage to determine just what, exactly, the strange magical globe actually was. She forked over 250 gold, but when she handed over the globe, the sage quickly handed both back. "I don't work on items that far outside my power level," she explained; the globe is immensely powerful, but beyond that, the sage had no further information. That left only hiding it away forever, or actually staring into it; with a deep breath, the ranger held the globe aloft, peered into its depths...

...And suddenly understood everything. She felt information filling her mind; the fundamental workings of the universe were laid bare. She knew she could cast any spell, or summon any knowledge; she could see the strings of reality, and the weave of the universe. She quickly thought about the scales, and images flooded her mind: the silver Shield of Armies, hanging behind the throne in Slowhaven; the green Eye of the Golem, set in the great golem watching over Roundrock; the purple Sightstone, deep beneath the Mountain Dwarves' capital; the white Airstone, set on a grand plinth in the Airwalker Tower; the gray Mother Loadstone, hidden in a storage room in Falach a'Bhaile; the clear Faultless Diamond, secreted in one of the ancient elven cities; the black Gem of Darkness, still in place at the top of the Spire, in the Blasted Lands; and oddly, a strange, quick glimmer in Slowhaven. With that information, she also realized that the power of the globe was fleeting; this information would fade, and soon. Quickly, she sought information on the towers; what she saw, she did not remember, apart from a strange symbol. Before the information completely left her mind, she quickly traced out the symbol for the others to see, and explained the locations of the scales.

Not wanting to try to fight the great golem (the nearest scale), the group decided to return to the gnomes, and find the scale stored there. On the way north again, they stumbled across four small blue dragons - three spawn, and a young dragon. The beasts had brought down an antelope, and were busily devouring it, oblivious to the group just behind them. The party quickly moved into position, quaffed several potions (speed, and more importantly, dragon control - these were the tiny potions, so the effect wouldn't last long), and charged in, absolutely splattering the dragons! Before the four beasts had time to react, they were slaughtered. The ranger quickly attempted to harvest any useful organs (and we'll have the rolls for those eventually, to find out what was actually harvested!).

However, the dragons were not the only casualty of the battle. As the fight started, Airsen attempted to leap into the air, to no avail! His actions earlier - attempting to start a race war between dwarves and gnomes - had broken the (albeit lax) rules of the Airstone, and it had removed his flight ability as punishment! He knew he would have to find a cleric and Atone for his actions.

They saw a flight of 12 small Rocs pass by, on their way south for the winter; the next day, they were surprised by a flight of five hippogriffs! Only the ranger managed to spot them, and warned her teammates as she loosed an arrow. The first hippogriff slammed into Erik the dwarf, knocking him out of the battle immediately; another tore into Elenora, but she managed to remain on her feet. Caranthir and Luce managed to hold off the beasts, until Luce went down! Caranthir cleaved through one into another, killing them both, and rushed to Luce's aid in time to cut down the last of them. As Elenora and the new priestess looked after the fallen, the ranger busily dissected the hippogriffs, pulling their feathers. Luce groggily blinked awake - she was only knocked out, and needed but a hand up to get to her feet. Erik was lucky, too; though he was badly injured, he only needed a week of bedrest. And a small box, for his five missing teeth.

In Falach a'Bhaile, the party quickly located the building with the Mother Loadstone: a storage shed, connected to the Gnomish Mage University! After a quick conversation with the, er, front door, they were joined by the bursar, who confused them for the junk removal society. After narrowly avoiding certain doom through wading into a room full of failed magical items, they managed to convince the bursar to let them see the loadstone. He took them to a Professor Thunderthistle, a busy research scientist, who then lead them, finally, to the storage room with the Mother Loadstone. The great scale was a dull gray, and roughly oval, with a rounded top. And surrounded by a red and yellow warning circle, with "Danger! Stay back!" written on it in a dozen languages. The professor demonstrated the power of the scale by flipping a gold coin - borrowed from one of the party, of course - towards the gray mass. It zipped towards the scale, landing with a 'ping' on the side. The party realized there were many other objects stuck to the scale, as well; fountain pens, small knives, other coins, and so forth. After some consideration, Caranthir asked the professor what they planned on doing with it, and if it would be possible to remove it. On the latter point, the professor explained that the scale was stuck to a vein of iron, and very difficult to lift. On the former point... he was unsure. He left - with dire warnings - to fetch yet another gnomish mage: the arch-chancellor himself! More beard than gnome, the arch-chancellor listened to what the party had to say, then shrugged; "If you want it, you can have it! It's done nothing but cause trouble, here!"

Luce, the ranger, and Caranthir removed their armor, weapons, and anything else with metal, then struggled to lift the magical boulder, to little effect. After a potion or two of Giant Strength, they managed - with much grunting and straining - to hoist the scale from the ground, and carried it, halting step by halting step, away from the vein of iron. The professor, eyes nearly bugging out of his head, quickly began moving magical items out of their way.

However, their progress halted when they neared the door - the doorway was only 10' wide, but the scale's influence was about 40 feet in diameter. And the lead-lined walls would surely be pulled towards it, or at least it towards them. Stuck, Caranthir suggested they put the scale in a bag of holding; the arch-chancellor thought it was a wonderful experiment, and brought an enchanted container (a large burlap sack), before hiding behind a plate glass viewing window. Luce, her loyalty unwavering, pulled the sack around the scale and closed it. Though the sack easily managed to hide the size of the scale, somehow, it was just as heavy. It tore out of the sack, falling to the floor. Gróin, realizing the only way to get the stone one was through a tunnel, pulled out his pick and went to work; the arch-chancellor realized this was likely the only way to get rid of the scale, and gathered a group of diggers to tunnel out.

Meanwhile, the three scale-carriers realized that they, too, had become magnetized! They took care to stay away from their items, for fear of damaging them (it wore off after 24 hours).

One purchase of a horse and cart later, and the scale was safely in place. With Erik still needing rest, the group decided to remain in town a few more days. They visited a local pub, where they learned of a new drink, as yet unnamed; it was blindingly expensive at 5 gold per mug, but Luce, Rhea, and Gróin were willing to try anything. They paid their dues, and chugged the amber liquid... and then the room started to spin. And dance. And sing. Luce and Gróin managed to hang on to their seats, but the elf, after calmly walking to a chair, keeled over, stiff as a board. Luce and Gróin saw the room go dark; they were suddenly surrounded by strange creatures with glowing eyes, ethereal bodies, and flowing movements. Just as suddenly, they found themselves rushing towards the forest with incredible speed; Luce was unable to avoid the trees, and was thrown onto her back, where she passed out. Gróin, meanwhile, saw himself rushing through forest, then plains, then jungle, before seeing tall mountains rise up before him; then, he was rushing through cool darkness, and out into the burning heat of the desert, before suddenly flashing over sparkling oceans. He flew faster and faster, until suddenly, he stopped; he walked through strange creatures: men, a bear, a coyote, a giant with a single eye and one leg, until he saw, seated at a wooden table... Thor himself!

As Gróin stood in reverent awe, Thor turned and spotted Gróin. "Not another one!" he grumbled, and threw his mug, hitting Gróin square in the forehead. Gróin blacked out for a moment, before coming to flat on his back, his friends staring down at him in concern. Groggily, and still in awe of his experience, he stood to his feet. To the cheers of the gnomes filling the pub, the barman returned his 5 gold pieces. Oddly, Gróin's forehead had a red mark, though his physical body had obviously never left the bar.

That night, Luce sat bold upright with a shout, "They're coming!" She stared around her, then mumbled an explanation: she had seen countless creatures, in full battle gear, standing in a forest, as if ready to invade. They looked like the creatures she had seen in the drink-vision... an odd portent.

The next day was Beastnight; Luce and Rhea needed a full day of rest to recover from their rather impressive hangovers, and Caranthir wanted to add a symbol to his shield and armor:

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Later, during the festivities, the priestess overheard something about a scale - as it happens, she was knew about the scales; she had been in Roundrock to study them, and was overjoyed to have been a part of uncovering the Mother Loadstone. Caranthir, too, overheard something from the same group - something about the Seekers. He approached them, and asked about the scale, and the Seekers. The group - three gnomes, not that that means anything in Falach a'Bhaile - seemed a little hesitant, but the more talkative of the bunch, a gnome with a deep, rich voice, cautioned Caranthir about the Seekers. "A dangerous bunch - they seek knowledge no matter the cost. We too seek knowledge, but carefully." The second member, a flighty fellow who kept pulling on his ear, mentioned that they had heard of a scale being found locally. Caranthir explained how he had come to own the scale; suddenly very interested, the three began to whisper to each other in a language Caranthir didn't understand. Eventually, the third member, who had previously remained in shadow, leaned forward. In a gravelly voice, he suggested a deal: they had access to many magical items, and would trade some for the scale; the party had little use for it, but their organization would be able to study it and learn its secrets.

They met the next morning to trade. Deep in the Last Bank of Falach a'Bhaile, the four strangers pulled out various strange and magical items. After passing up the Sword of Domination, due to it being a chaotic sentient weapon intent on taking over the mind of the wielder, they left with the Haunted Sword, a shadowy blade that grows in power with combat; the Thieves' Gem, which can summon various tools of the thief's trade; the lawful Searching Club, an ancient sentient club; an odd map with a symbol in the corner, that reveals the paths the holder has taken; and a wand, supposedly able to charm humans and demi-humans, though as yet untested.

Meanwhile, the ranger has increasingly growing agitated; she feels she must search out knowledge. Finding the scale helped, but as time goes on, the urge will only grow stronger.

  • XP from combat:
    • 3 blue dragons, spawn (29 xp each)
    • 1 blue dragon, very young (190 xp)
    • 5 hippogriffs (65 xp each)
    • 12 small rocs (0; bypassed)
  • XP from Treasure: none
  • XP from other sources:
    • Finding a scale (1000 xp)
  • Total XP: 1602
  • XP per PC: 229
  • XP per Henchman: 114
  • Drinking Ale of the Gods:
    • Rhea: 15 xp
    • Luce: 50 xp
    • Gróin: 100 xp
  • Ranger only:
    • Using the globe (100 xp)
  • New Character Starting XP: 5614

GM Notes

The globe is immensely powerful. It features a snapshot of the entirety of the universe, giving a glimpse of how the strings of reality are woven. In the brief moments the effect is active, the wielder can do literally anything. Want to teleport to an outer plane, with 100% accuracy? You can. Want to return a fallen friend from the dead? You can. Want to instantly cast a spell, even a ritual spell, even though you're not a spellcaster? You can! Any spell, any knowledge, anything is possible. However, the globe is only temporary; spells lasting longer than an instant will continue to function, but any control or concentration will be lost (careful summoning creatures). Knowledge gained through the globe (as opposed to Scry, etc.) will fade; if not communicated or written down, the knowledge will be lost.

All this power comes with a cost, however: a geas, driving the wielder to find knowledge. If not properly followed, this geas can become an obsession...

Meanwhile, choosing knowledge over spells was a smart move. Mechanics-wise, casting a spell takes the full round, while accessing knowledge allows for two questions to be answered, and answered in a helpful way, neither the dangerous nor the "fuzzy" way other spells work. And, asking about the scales and the towers was an excellent use.

Speaking of scales, the Mother Loadstone the party discovered is simultaneously useful and useless, and both methods are dangerous. Like a real magnet, the Mother Loadstone attracts metal and magnetizes things in contact with it. Unlike a real magnet, the loadstone magnetizes everything - metal, wood, even flesh. And, also unlike a real magnet, the loadstone attracts any metal, including silver, gold, and lead, as well as magic. Carrying the loadstone, or even having touched the loadstone, makes you a target. Swords and arrows are pulled towards you; magical effects will seek you out over your companions. Good for treasure-hunting, bad for not dying.

And what was all that with Luce and Gróin, and the strange mystic ale? Was it real, or just their imagination? And why can elves never hold their liquor?