Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Pointless Tower: Not Very Towerlike

Dara 13; next holiday, Darkest Day, Dara 35.

The Party:

  • Rig Bigny, Gnomish Beastmaster
    • Flit, the bat familiar
    • Clench, the Wardog War-Badger
    • Midnight, the Panther
    • Noona, the Lion
    • Faufe Yitaw, Dogwere (Badgerwere?)
      • Rawf, Wardog familiar
      • Aroof, Wardog familiar
    • Llarm Paphyra, Elvish Polydoctorate
      • The Metal Man, construct
  • Caranthir, Human Leader of Men
    • Rhea Trueheart, Elvish Nightblade
    • Lucille "Luce" Burwood, Fighter
    • Elenora Garrard, White Mage
    • Gimli Trollriver, Dwarven Fury
  • Gróin of Norston, Dwarven Sapper
    • Laurita Gomez, Priestess
  • Quetgar, Thrassian Assassin
    • Zarc, Thrassian Gladiator
  • Sorvald, Thief
  • Mor Gibs, the Wonderworker

The party was lead by the Winter Princess to the secret opening of the Pointless Tower...

Legend has it that a man wanted to open what was then the Wild Tower; knowing great riches existed within, he figured it was a safe bet to make a deal with the Fae (or, possibly, the Gnomes). With their assistance, he indeed gained access to the tower. However, something went wrong; the Gnomes (or was it the Fae?) betrayed him, and locked him inside the tower, enchanting it so no one could rescue him. It is his laughter and screams you can hear, carried on the breeze, at the top of the tower.

As the Princess opened the magically hidden door, the party stepped into the hallway. In a moment, they were staring into a strange forest; they could see the forest stretching out in front of them, and could easily make out the trails and meadows within. Behind them, however, the door they walked through was nothing but a stone wall...

Sheltered under a stand of trees was a plaque, moss growing in the letters; or... perhaps making up the letters? The sign seemed to be discernable in any language, and read: "Before you lies tainted ground, tread by the Spirit, the Dark Soul, the Betrayer. Enter at your peril, for there is no return until the prophecy has been read."

The party started down the left path, heading into an area filled with dead ends. Investigating each dead end resulted in finding some mundane armor, cleaned and repaired; a Treant named Brushbeard, who seemed very confused; and Cla and his three friends (family, actually), all kindly brownies. Neither Brushbeard nor Cla were able to shed much light on the forest, though they both mentioned that it was not what it appeared.

Around a corner - warned by the brownies - they found a patch of stinging nettles. Rig attempted to investigate, and caught a slightly painful blast of nettles to the face! One potion of Command Plant later, and the path was cleared. Not long afterward, four dire wolves felt the sting of the party's blades (and claws, and teeth...). The party emerged into a glade, where four pools of water, surrounded by moss and clover, bubbled gently. Gróin, suspicious, walked up to poke the pond, and was rewarded with an explosion of movement - the clover reached up, bundles of tendrils tearing and pulling at him! He jumped back, and the others joined him in beating the strange pond-monsters back to dust. When the last one curled up dead, the brush to the right unfolded, revealing a wide plain. More brush moved, and the third meadow was revealed - and battle was once again joined! Three Arane began by trying to capture the party, as Spellwoods began creating grassy monsters!

By sheer luck, the third, more powerful Arane was interrupted in her spellcasting. As the spiders were dealt with, so were the feral trees, and soon the area was again quiet. The party explored the third branch, and eventually returned to follow the newest opening, to the south. After walking in relative peace, they came upon a great pond. Caranthir, in dragon form, began flying across it, but realized his reflection was laughing at him! The reflection grew and grew, until his eye filled the entire pond, which then bubbled up into an enormous mound... and began to shrink, and shrink, until it was small, and round, and plopped into the face of a strange creature rolling on the ground laughing.

Coyote, property of Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell

The creature, its tongue lolling out of its mouth as it laughed uproariously, crowed, "Oh ho! Hoo hoo! Ahhhahaha! Fooled! Oh dear! Oh my! Such foolish mortals!"

Finally, he finished laughing, and challenged one of the party to a fight. "Oh! Oh yes! A battle! Hooray! It's been so long since anyone fought me! Let me see... I shall be a tree! With rocks for teeth! And the rivers of the world will be my blood!"

Caranthir, sighing, prepared to face the strange animal... until he suddenly found himself staring up, a small, fluffy, dragon-tailed kitten! The being once again collapsed into a writhing puddle of giggles and guffaws, much to Caranthir's irritation. The animal laughed so hard, his mouth opening so wide, he suddenly flipped inside out! Luckily, the inside seemed to be about the same as the outside. He spit out his eyes, replaced them in his face, and winked. "Storytime! About me, of course."

He began his tale: "One lovely century, I was strolling through my woods - they're all mine, you know - and I saw a nasty spirit thing. He was happy to see me - everyone is happy to see me, of course - and asked if I wanted to become overwhelmingly wealthy and powerful. How I laughed! I already own all the gold in the world. I keep it in other people's pockets! And the trees are my bones, and the stones my teeth! What other power is there? Well, he was very upset with me. He hissed and shouted, but I just winked at him, because I was the moon."

Thoughtfully, he added, "I'm always the moon, of course."

"But he wanted to stay in my woods, and he was eating all my children, so I barked at him. He grew angry, so I picked him up and put him on a mountain, but then he was too big, so I had to travel there myself and make sure he was the right size. Oh! But let me tell you about the time I was a dead goose! No? Some other time, then! Oh, but before you go, I have a gift for you!"

He tossed a small flask onto the ground. The liquid within is black, red, blue, and white, much as the Coyote (for, indeed, that is who he was - the trickster god of the forests!) is; shaking the fluid causes the colors to swirl, but never mix. It's vaguely unsettling, and the party had the strangest feeling they were being taken advantage of, but abandoning their gift seemed... imprudent. Coyote bowed, motioning to the twisting staircase.

As the party climbed, the sky turned to walls, then to stone, and finally, to the top of a mountain! They could see a few nearby peaks, and a twisting set of stairs leading peak to peak. They could see a few problems, not the least of which was a crowd of four stone giants, nudging each other and hefting huge stones. Caranthir tested to see if he could fly over the chasms - no such luck. A powerful downdraft threatened to suck him into the void below. The party was forced to cross carefully, avoiding the thrown rocks. Of course, it's always nice to have a sapper along; each broken path and rickety plank was replaced with a sturdy wooden tunnel-bridge, much to the annoyance of the giants. After quickly tearing through a series of gargoyles, the party reached a safe spot. Only one giant managed to hit anyone before Caranthir reached them; his armored hide blocked many of their blows, but a few got through. Finally, the giants were dead.

Past the giants, the party were surprised by two huge, grey-skinned worms, which they defeated handily. The two stone giants they faced met a similar fate, though they were much harder to hit, with their powerful stone skin.

Winding around the mountain, the party finally crested the top, to find a man seated on a golden throne. The man tossed the chalice of wine he was drinking over the edge, and greeted them with open arms. "Friends! I thought you'd never make it! After my dear friend, that old deceiver Coyote, told me you were on your way, I was simply delighted! Why, I've even prepared a welcome gift for you!"

And with that, he suddenly turned into a very large giant. A frost giant, of course. The party attacked quickly, and though Loki cheated once or twice, they eventually brought him down. When defeated, Loki changed back into the form of a man, laughing. "Such fun! Oh, your faces! If only you could see them - you look like this!"

His face changes into a row of faces, perfect duplicates of each of the party's, except each face has crossed eyes, its tongue stuck out, or some other goofy expression of fear. "Ah, but perhaps you'd like to hear my part of the tale! As I'm sure Coyote told you, a dark creature attempted to live in his woods, and he most graciously carried the hideous thing here. The creature offered me a deal - power, wealth, anything I'd like, in return for my assistance, and the ability to live in these lands. I, of course, refused; I needed my followers, and he seemed intent on eating them. We fought, and thankful was I that he had little time to rest since Coyote brought him; the battle was difficult, even for one such as myself. I'll tell you, by the time we were through, I was quite Thor!"

"I booted the foul thing from my mountains, into... into... into the lands of the elves!" Loki guffaws, unable to continue. "Oh! Their faces! Such a terror! Oh, me!" With a wink, he tosses a small vial to you. It contains a glistening liquid. Loki bows, and announces, "My tears! I have only cried thrice, so those tears are certainly worth a fortune! But now, I am afraid you have somewhere else to be. Up, up and away!"

The earth surged beneath their feet, flinging them into the air. Instinctively, they braced themselves for impact with the invisible ceiling, but instead, they found themselves falling onto soft, grassy earth...

  • XP from Encounters:
    • 4 brownies (peaceful)
    • 1 Treant (peaceful)
    • 4 dire wolves (140)
    • 5 Cloverfield (325)
    • 2 normal Arane (2140)
    • 1 magic-wielding Arane (1570)
    • 4 Spellwood (3280)
    • 1 4HD bat swarm (peacefully spoken with)
    • 1 Coyote (survived)
    • 3 gargoyles (405)
    • 4 stone giants (2800)
    • 2 Caecilian (570)
    • 2 stone golem (7800)
    • 1 Loki (as a huge, tricky Frost Giant) (1700)
  • XP from treasure: N/A (oddly, usually the creatures carry or horde things)
  • Total XP: 19030
  • XP per PC: 2537
  • XP per Henchbeing: 1269