Friday, February 9, 2018

The Pointless Tower: Death of a God

Dara 13-15; 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

Last we left them, the party was on the third level - a swampland. They explored a bit, and dealt with a Kelpie (a horse-like water creature). Then, they ran into nine lizardmen, camped on one of the larger islands. Quetgar was welcomed with open arms, and the rest of the party by association. Quetgar (and the others that spoke Thrassian) knew one thing for certain: these lizardmen were redneck! Their accent had such a twang in it, banjos were unnecessary. They spat into the swamp, had a boat up on blocks in their front yard, drank gray liquid-analogue they called "Swampshine" from a jug, and called each other the Thrassian equivalent of Jimmy-Bob, Mary-Beth, and Bubba. They even brought out instruments and gave a rousing performance of "Mama done raised me good" and "Muh Boat Sank When I Ran Over Muh Pet Gator," which Quetgar was kind enough not to translate. Quetgar thought it was real down home, while everyone else just tried not to lose their lunch when Mama grinned. Mama... was not a looker.

In friendly territory, the group decided to rest; Gróin built a wooden hut, and they slept in relative peace. The next... well, morning is a strong word; the light never really changed much from "darkish" to "grayish". After some friendly warnings, they left the lizardmen to continue on.

Past the lizardmen camp was the old lizardmen camp, complete with sunken boats, followed by a marshy dam. A few of the group picked up leeches, and had to smash the ugly things. A cloud of Stirge ("Skeeters") on the following island were dealt with handily by Caranthir's freezing breath. However, the black pudding that slithered out of the water was much harder to deal with. Caranthir ferried everyone to the next island as Gróin and his priestess burned the slimy thing to dust.

The next island had a large hut on it, and inside the hut were six Greater Thrassians and a Hag. After some negotiations, they began a pitched battle, which (of course) resulted in the deaths of the lizardmen and hag. The building cleared, they continued across a flat bridge to the final island. As the last of them crossed, the bridge was pulled back, and sank into the swamp...

A man leaned against a boat, smoking a long pipe; an elf, in fact. As he applauded, Caranthir (in Draconic) addressed him. The elf responded with a formal greeting, and greeted each of the party in turn, in their own native language. "You fight well! And hardly a smudge on the lot of you - well, at least the dwarf. The rest of you may need a bit of a shower!"

And with those words, a breeze kicked up, and tepid water rained down from the nearby trees, drenching them. The elf nearly fell over laughing. Finally, wiping a tear from his eye, he sighed. "Ah, but you've come to hear my story, no doubt. I am Manannán, Trickster God of the Elves and Gnomes," he said with a bow. "Loki, a rapscallion if ever I know one, hurled an uncouth creature into my realm. It seemed to keep to itself, but finally, I realized the Fair Folk had all but vanished from the swamps. I cursed the day I let the creature live, but in the time I lay idle, it grew stronger. I doubted I could best it in single combat, so I offered it a deal. It had eaten or driven off most of my followers here, so I suggested it find a greater host, and sent it east, to the towns of men. They like killing things over there, I'm sure it all worked out just fine."

For a moment, the trickster looked almost sad. "I know it spread wrath and ruin, for that is what it spread here, but I was not strong enough, and though I raised an army of the fallen, something tells me it would have turned them against me. Oh, which reminds me, there was supposed to be some sort of battle! Hold on a moment."

Green mists flowed across the bog, as a form stepped out of the swampy water... it was draped in kelp and swamp-weeds, though its form was familiar - a Mummy! A... swamp mummy? Laurita Gomez stepped forward, brandishing her holy item, and yelled, "Begone!" as holy light flowed from her grasp. The mummy raised its arms to shield itself from the light, and slowly sank back into the mire from which it came.

Manannán cheered. "Thank goodness that's over with. Well, I'm off!" He flipped his boat over, climbed into it, and sailed into the mists, leaving behind a small stoppered vial of faintly-glowing red liquid. One of the trees bent into a staircase, and so the party climbed...

The top of the stair was stone; after exiting some sort of entry area, the party came upon the withered husk of a great copper dragon, pressed against a wall, its head covered by its decaying claws. Its hide was covered in crude, cruel, and inflammatory words of a very anti-dragon nature. Even non-dragons found the words offensive, and Caranthir was incensed. Gróin, at Caranthir's insistence, Spoke with Dead. The dragon's voice issued forth immediately, groaning and crying out. Caranthir asked, "What happened to you?" and the creature answered, "Killed, by the great darkness!" Caranthir asked, "Do you want to be resurrected?" and the dragon's corpse actually shuddered. The party could hear the bones shaking and the creature's voicebox tearing as it screamed, "NO NO NO NO NO NO!!" over and over again. Finally, Caranthir asked if the creature that killed it could be defeated, and it answered, "No, flee, FLEE!"

A little unsettled by what could make a venerable dragon terrified, even after death, the party continued on. The passage to the right seemed to be blocked off with towering green crystals that ran ceiling to floor; a small alcove contained a few copper coins, and a single lightning-bolt shaped wand. In the passage to the left, a few heard a dripping sound, but couldn't place the source. They found a blocked door in a chamber, and Caranthir immediately removed the board blocked it. Then, realizing how that could go terribly wrong, he quickly replaced it. Looking through the wood, he saw only stone behind it. Whew.

Next was a stairwell; the Fury, Gimli, was sent to explore, but came back in a moment - it was blocked at the bottom. Then came a room, with a stone golem with green eyes inside... and a forcefield of some kind, blocking the path. The golem was quickly dealt with, and the forcefield dropped as the golem's eyes shattered. Then, a fighter, who was quickly killed; the shield he was holding broke into dust, and the next forcefield dropped. However, a few seconds later, the man's body rose again as a zombie!

Finishing off the creature a second time, the party continued on. In the third room was... darkness. After contemplating how to find what was in the room, Gróin cast Continual Light... which cancelled out the Continual Darkness spell. The room was otherwise empty. The fourth room contained nothing but a single, small cube - a cube of force! Quetgar happily picked it up, but as soon as the cube reached the doorway, it shattered. The fifth room contained a staff, and as soon as the party entered the room, they felt themselves become the target of a Bane curse. Oddly, there was no more forcefield; the party looked at the next room, which contained great gears behind thick glass, and a single steel pole, with wires running to the wall. The last room's door was filled with a dazzling disintegration field. It was impassable, even with a protection spell, as there was a stone wall just behind it.

Gibs fired the wand at the metal pole, and lightning arced to the tip. Lights flickered, and the gears began to move.

Just beyond the seven rooms was another stairway, blocked again; another set of massive doors, and leading into (presumably) the inner room, a pair of doors with seven runes. Yet another blocked stairway, then several rooms that were empty, or filled with... strange things. One held a man, eating the rotting corpses from a pile of bodies; another held four men, who stared at the group with empty eyes, then attacked. The four men, once slain, rose again as zombies. The eating man, Caranthir slew, and he rasped, "Thank you..." as he died.

Finally, they returned to the last two puzzles. Gróin, remarking that perhaps the room was a puzzle like the light/dark room, cast Bless; the staff cracked in two, and the Bane curse was lifted. And, with that, the final puzzle finished itself; the disintegration field vanished, and the stone door behind it slid into the wall, leaving only some musty old books of little value. Likewise, the final two runes on the door went out, and it was easily pushed open.

Looking into the main room, the party finally realized what this building was - a cathedral! The main chapel was filled with broken things - broken pews, broken glass, and broken people. Bones are strew across the floor. At the center of the floor, a sunken depression was filled with dark blood. At the end of the room was a large altar, and a man, slumped over it, his hands hanging down as blood dripped off his fingers. His eyes were wide and unblinking. As the party entered, he suddenly jerked upright like a marionette on a string, burst into an impossibly loud laugh, and began to babble, "He told me... He promised me... power! Wealth! Wine, women, and song! HAHAHA! But he lied Lied LIED! TRICKERY! Foolish mortal, FOOLISH MORTAL! Death, death, and blood on my hands," as he looked down at them. "I lead them, I brought them, I called them and they came, and death, DEATH is what they have now! And I have naught but ETERNAL TORMENT! Power, oh yes, wealth, certainly, but CURSED I am to live here! ETERNAL SUFFERING! And you," he cried, pointing at the party, each member in turn, "You come here, for power, for wealth, but at what COST!"

He looked towards the sky, pointing up, and screamed, "I bring no more sacrifices!" then at the party, "FLEE, OR FACE ETERNAL TORMENT!"

And with that, he fired a lightning bolt from his hand. The others attacked, quickly killing him, as he slapped ineffectually against their armor. He dropped a fireball, then was brought down. He body quickly burst into flame, and was burned to ash... then rose again, stepping out of the blood in the middle of the floor! The others quickly fired all they had at him, as he fired fireballs at them (even after he had been hit!). Gróin cast Bless on the altar as Rig tossed Holy Water onto it. The man suddenly dropped to his knees, sobbing, as the power of the altar lessened its hold on him. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... please... I'm so sorry," he cried, his tears mixing with the blood pooling around him. Gróin, realizing what that may mean, nodded toward him, and Laurita stepped forward. She prayed, and with her hand on his head, asked if he was truly repentant; the man nodded, miserably. She intoned a spell of forgiveness - Atonement - and immediately, the blood from the pool flowed away from him. He stood, a new light in his eyes... and then immediately flash-burned to ash.

The other explored, finding two rooms filled with gold , gems, and magical treasure. Gróin and the others scooped up the magical stuff, and sent Gimli to see what was in the third room. He returned, nonplussed, and mentioned that it was wet, and there was some scroll hanging on the wall.

Rig, Caranthir, Rhea, Elenora, Gróin, Laurita, and Quetgar crowded into the small room. Quetgar felt a drip of something cold hit his cheek (and, oddly, felt himself heal slightly). He looked up... and froze. Above them was a man, a young man, dressed in simple garb, wearing winged shoes, with an oak staff strapped to his arm. Hooks embedded in his flesh held him to the ceiling, as pinkish blood dripped from the hole in his chest where his heart used to be. It was his blood that was feeding the altar. And not just any blood. The blood of a god. This, then, was the Neutral god of Mareten, Viatoremus, the god of tricks, travelling, and treasure. What's more... that meant that the party was, at that moment, standing where someone had killed a god. This was once the neutral god of what is arguably the most powerful trio of gods in Mor-Thir, and he is dead. Not temporarily vanquished, not banished, not returned to the eternal plane, but DEAD. The party made a collective fear check at -20 and, of course, failed horribly.

Once they collected themselves, Caranthir realized what the vials contained - blood, from each of the gods (yes, Loki claimed it was his tears, but he's a trickster, what do you expect?). He had the party dump the vials into the flowing blood, and a moment later, they heard a CRACK as the altar split in two. Suddenly, the oppressive atmosphere was gone.

Caranthir saw the scroll Gimli had mentioned, and looked over it... and with that, he felt the compulsion to read it:

The Prophecy is Read, and woe to he, whose lips its foul words cross
But harken still, despite evil chill, for these words may stem your loss.
The Spirit of Doom to Mor-Thir comes, full power does it possess
In the scales of lore, it's power restored, no end in sight... unless...

The Protector of Hills defeated must fall, the Shield's bearer must die
The Revoker of Darkness must be bathed in light, and down the Weightless must fly
The Bringer of Undeath need be Blessed,
    and the Gatherer meet equal force
'Til alone at the end, the Cleanser will fail,
    and our warriors return to the Source

He continued reading, but the dark words that followed, no one understood. His lips began to blacked, and suddenly, he found himself, and the party, standing in the Street of the Gods.

Meanwhile... Midnight, Noona, Gimli, and Gibs were left staring at the treasure. Gimli and Gibs grabbed a bunch of gems and jewelry, then headed into the third room. As Gibs realized, and dealt with, the fact that he was standing in a room where a god had been killed... Gimli stole the god's shoes. And, in attempting to grab his staff, pulled the god from his hooks, and onto the floor. Placing his foot in the god's armpit, Gimli gave a good yank on the staff, and released it from its bindings. Gibs stared, open-mouthed. Gimli then pulled the scroll from the wall, and in turning it over, started to read it, with the same effect. Soon, Midnight, Noona, Gibs, and the confused Gimli were standing on the Street of the Gods as well. They turned to see the building behind them - the final building on the Chaotic end of the Street. It fell inward on itself, falling to dust, and leaving naught but a blackened slab.

Realizing this could be a bad place to stay, the party quickly left the Street, and found an expensive (and secure) inn to rest at. Along the way, they kept catching glances of red, black, and blue faces staring at them out of lampposts, or an elf with a long pipe winking at them, or a man dressed in a green-and-gold suit doffing his hat to them. Finally, they were able to rest. Quetgar stacked all the room's contents against the door, and slept fully dressed; Caranthir dumped all his treasure out on the floor, and slept on top of it.

Unfortunately, the treasure (at least half a million in gold, even platinum) was gone; scrying on it only showed foul creatures and horrible landscapes. Luckily, Gimli and Gibs managed to rescue a fair amount of stuff...

  • XP from Encounters: 22,686
    • 1 Kelpie (65)
    • 4 Leech, Giant (2280)
    • 8 Stirge (104)
    • 1 Black pudding (1,550)
    • 6 Lizardman, Greater (840)
    • 1 Hag (3100)
    • 1 Mummy Lord (4200)
    • 1 stone golem (3900)
    • 1 lvl 14 fighter (3800)
    • 5 zombies (133)
    • 4 cursed fighters (104)
    • 1 cursed eater (10)
    • 1 cursed, powered man (2600)
  • XP from Treasure (once sold): 85,550
    • 36 jade carvings gods (7,200 gp)
    • 3 amethyst cylinder seals depicting religious scenes (3,600 gp)
    • 2 alexandrite (1,000 gp)
    • 1 sunset amethyst (750 gp)
    • 1 opal regalia (1,000 gp)
    • 1 diamond (1,000 gp)
    • 1 baroque pearl (2,000 gp)
    • 1 Black pearl (2,000 gp)
    • 1 amber regalia (2,000 gp)
    • 1 opal regalia (4,000 gp)
    • 2 flawless diamond (8,000 gp)
    • 1 amber regalia (7,000 gp)
    • 1 ruby regalia (7,000 gp)
    • 1 emerald (8,000 gp)
    • 5 platinum reliquaries with crystal panes (22,000gp)
    • 1 Gold studded with topaz regalia (9,000 gp)
  • Total XP: 108236
  • XP per PC: 13530
  • XP per Henchbeing: 6765

Oh right, magical treasure! The party collected: 10 Potions, a Scroll of Ward against Elementals, a Scroll of Ward against Lycanthropes, a Scroll of Ward against Undead, 6 other scrolls, 3 Treasure Maps, 5 Rings, 1 Rod, 2 Staffs, 3 Wands, a Cube, a pair of Boots, a Cloak, a Helm, a Barrel, a Necklace, 4 Swords, 1 Sling, 1 Spear, 1 Axe, 1 Leather Armor, 2 Plate Armor, 2 Shields, 6 Arrows, 7 Crossbow Bolts, and a second set of 4 Crossbow Bolts. Oh, and a staff and a set of shoes from a god. You know, the usual.