Thursday, February 9, 2012

Don't Look Up!

Bazil the Dancing Sorcerer's Journal - Entry 3

The party searched the apprentice area which had seemingly been co-opted by the bugbears, finding nothing of interest we headed further along. Heading down one corridor, we noticed movement in a room ahead of us. Readying our weapons we found a small room that was mostly dark but covered with geometric shapes and symbols from floor to ceiling. Moving within, were child-sized men or maybe gnomes. They seemed oblivious to us and used glowing chalk to draw the symbols upon the walls.

Somehow the small men floated easily to reach high upon the wall, levitating. Nain and Ozmo thought the chalk was fascinating and asked the monks for some. We tried drawing some geometric shapes ourselves, they did not pay this much mind. However, when Ozmo attempted to write to them the monks rushed over and erased what he had done and confiscated his chalk. Fascinating as it was, we decided to move on.

We explored further and met with some conflict here and there, giant beetles spring from a refuse pile, a sloppy bugbear ambush. Other than the mute and slow monks, we were finding little other clues that this was where we’d find the Plated Mage’s research.

Continuing on our band entered what appeared to be a small chapel. Eerily quiet and peaceful it struck us as odd compared to the rest of the area we had explored. We entered cautiously with myself and Ozmo bringing up the rear. As the tail of our party came into the room, our curious halfling magic-user looked up at the ceiling. He let out an exclamation, which warned his compatriots, but also drew the beasts which he saw above upon him.

Two stalwart gargoyles had separated themselves from their perch above and dove onto Ozmo. Before anyone could react he was torn limb from limb. Everyone sprung to action and we assailed the grotesque stone devils. In the aftermath piles of rubble lay among the pool of blood and flesh that remain of Ozmo.

I wholeheartedly believe that Ozmo’s scream saved my life. Curious little bugger that he was, may he rest in pieces, err peace. Dan Ger spoke to the Iron God for his safe passage, and we brought his body and belongings to a storeroom we passed earlier and barred the door for the night. In the morning Ozmo’s head was gone and we suspect our psychopath dwarf is the culprit.

Leaving the room the next day, we found a note on the door. I don’t remember exactly what it said but the gist of it was: Something something meet in the map room at noon if you want an audience with Lachesis, the map room is to the north. Having heard of Lachesis and feeling a bit dreadful with the loss of Ozmo, we settled on finding the map room and meeting this character Lachesis.

Trying to find our way to the ‘map room’ we continued discovering new chambers; the group entered a small room with a cistern in the center. We heard our dwarf cleric yell out ‘Drink!’ and rush forward toward the seemingly full pool. Something grey and magical slid onto his hands and face and we began to see the telltale smoke of flesh burning. Acting completely out of character, Klint rushed forward and struck at the grey ooze. Much to his puzzlement, his sword of magical darkness immediately began to smoke as well. We used magic and other means to dispose of the grey ooze before it ate away at Nain’s face but Klint’s fabled longsword, the one we wrested from the undead guardian, dissolved before our eyes.

We continued on, hoping that the meeting was not to be a nefarious ambush. Stepping quietly after each other in the corridors, we began to hear animals hooting and calling to each other. Soon we saw the cause of the ruckus as a pack of foul baboons rushed at us. As they entered our light we could see that something was definitely wrong with the creatures as all of them had gleaming metal limbs or jaws. The metal limbs and jaws moved as if the were part of the monkeys bodies and were wickedly pointed, sharpened or bladed. The baboons attacked us with a rage.

After a loud and unpleasant battle which I oversaw from the back ranks, we were able to pick through the corpses of the baboons. The limbs were definitely part of their bodies and the monkeys notably did not bleed a red blood, but a foul clear liquid instead. Wondering if this was part of the Plated Mage’s experiment we continued again.

The next room that we found was dominated by a large painted map on the floor and we also found some furniture. To our delight we found a hollow chamber in the podium of the room, within which was a delicate ring on a silver chain. Twitch volunteered to try the ring on and immediately disappeared from sight! What a find for our stump-legged companion!

The party had some time to burn before our appointment with Kazaia. We continued a bit north and found a potted plant that seemed out of place. Smashing it we found gold and silver hidden in sacks at the pot’s base. Lastly we had another encounter with some bugbears, obviously they claimed this area as their own.

Now equipped with the ring and a bit higher spirits, we headed back to meet Kazaia.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Jungle of Stonehell

Bazil the Dancing Sorcerer's Journal - Entry 2

Dwarves are heavy, especially corpulent ones who are dead drunk. Nain lie unconscious after that last ounce of alcohol. Most of the party was happy with leaving Nain to a(forseen) pool of vomitus, but for better or worse, he is our faithful healer.

We spent some time attempting to wake the dwarf but decided it was best to backtrack and wait out his ‘alone time’ with Agradelous. Luckily our persistent barbarian, Bloodmallet, is very strong and was able to heft Nain’s person along. We locked ourselves within the storage room and barred the door with that ever useful bar.

During their watch, Solmil and Ozmo complained of piercing screams which nearly made their ears bleed, but that was nothing compared to what slid under the door shortly after. A slick puddle seemed to pool from under the barred door but quickly we realized the danger.

The grey ooze shot out a mass of itself and attempted to envelop poor one-legged Twitch. We quickly began to try and burn the thing off of him but it seemed to dodge away preternaturally. The ooze seemed to be burning into Twitch’s skin and armor and we tried to douse it in oil and then light it again (which succeeded, to a degree), tried to shoot the main mass of it with an arrow, scrape it off along the wall, blast it with magical energy...finally Bloodmallet scraped the last large mass of it off of Twitch and we managed to save him with only minimal horrific scarring.

Crisis averted, we healed, kicked around Twitch’s smoking armor, and attempted to finish our rest. Memorizing my spells for the day the group complained of some other noises during the night but mentioned nothing interesting. Finally Nain returned to the land of the living and we determined to set out towards the domain of the Plated Mage.

We reached a room dominated by a large stone shield design in the floor, a statue, and a small group of hobgoblins. Pretty excited to finally fight something that wasn’t grey ooze we lay into the poor beasts and dispatched them. We puzzled over the statue for a bit and eventually decided to topple it to see if there was anything interesting inside. Sadly there was nothing of the sort.

Finally we had found the stairs down that we had been looking for. These would lead us almost lead us directly to the area where the Plated Mage’s experiments could be found. Unfortunately we were soon to be disappointed.

Descending the stairs we felt the air grow hot and humid. Solmil and Dan Ger commented aloud that they caught the unmistakable smell of a forest or glade. Intrigued, we found emerged from the stairs into a room choked with greenery and dripping pipes. A large machine was installed in one side of the room with a multitude of tubes and pipes heading off along the ceiling. These pipes seemed to be dripping with condensation or steam. We fiddled with the levers on the machine a bit but nothing interesting happened so we continued.

Following the rough map we had we continued through these corridors but were soon prevented with an obstacle. A collapse had blocked the path we had planned out and we were forced to take an unknown detour deeper into the heart of the plants. The party came to a room with a lovely statue of an elfish maid or priestess, choked with vines. Solmil felt at peace here so we quickly ushered ourselves out. Another room we ran across held a gigantic cabbage the size of which we’d never seen before.

What was all this plant life doing so deep in the earth? Something related to that machinery or the statue of the elf certainly. We had come into large hallways, hundreds of feet long, with planters built into their length. Exploring these we noticed full grown trees and ferns reaching towards the ceiling, we moved along and explored a small room.

So far our travels in this level had been pretty peaceful, but then the plants started to attack us. I’ve read of the exotic plants of the jungles, known to eat whole cows and mules; I never expected to find them hundreds of feet below the earth in an ancient prison. But this is Stonehell and all preconception must be thrown to the wind.

Within the room we had entered were a few walking mushroom men known as ‘myconids’. They seemed to be shoveling manure and were startled when they saw us. Not knowing any better we tried to communicate with them, everything seemed really peaceful at first as we stared at eachother for a moment. Then the little bastards bombarded us with spores of gas.

Nain and Bloodmallet charged into the room and engaged the myconids in melee. Before we knew it however the myconids threw another spore and a wall of vines separated the party in two. Those on the outside attempted to claw their way in as our friends fought the myconids inside.

As we attempted to re-open the doorway Dan Ger noticed that one of the ferns we had seen earlier was much closer than we remembered it. Moments later it’s branches shot out and assailed us with dagger-like leaves. Having dispatched the myconids, and hearing our screams of panic, the few inside attempted now to extricate themselves from the room and aid us. Luckily we were able to defeat the animated fern and soon cleared the last of the vines.

I remember clearly looking inside, seeing the last of the vines pulled away. Within was Nain happily eating away at one of the myconids. He actually attempted to dip a piece into some of the manure they were moving, eating it as one would a hummus. Disgusting and certainly fatal, one would naturally assume. Alas, something is magical about this dwarf’s constitution, he survived his appetite once again.

Our attempts so far to reach the Plated Mage’s whereabouts had been unsuccessful but we kept heading in the direction we believed they lie. At the end of one of aforementioned massive halls we found a large rounded room, greenery was extremely abundant here but the most notable feature was a giant mushroom at the far end of the room. Standing before it was a female elfish form festooned with thorns and vines, protected by a dozen more of the myconids. We were instantly confronted by what we called, the ‘Thorned-one’.

Knowing that our resources were already depleted some, we decided that a peaceful route was appropriate. The Thorned-one demanded what we were doing within her territory, bristling at our intrusion. We simply stated that we were to find the Plated Mage, and had no quarrel with her (she didn’t see the myconid crumbs in Nain’s beard). After pondering this for a moment she ushered us out of her territory with myconid guards to watch over us.

The guards led us out of the Thorned-one’s territory, reaching it’s boundaries we noticed a number of giant myconids guarding the last room; the lush vegetation had ended and we continued on.

Our search in the new area, on the opposite side of where we entered the Thorned-one’s territory, revealed a room full of gigantic frogs. Using our best judgement we shut the door. Continuing on we started to recognize some of the layout, we had found what we believed to be the ‘apprentice’ section of the Plated Mage’s domain!

Of course it was to be inhabited by something, foul bugbears which we dispatched quickly. We searched the rooms but found nothing of interest. We were much closer to our goal though, or so we thought.

A Dwarf's Limit

Bazil the Dancing Sorcerer's Journal - Entry 1

My name is Bazil Eisen, known as the Dancing Sorcerer. This is my simple journal, beginning with our trek into Stonehell. These observations and experiences come at great cost; should we fail, maybe our legacy will live on for those who stand against evil. To think that we began this quest simply to restore our compatriots lost limbs...

My memories of the begining delve into Stonehell are fading fast. With only the some rough notes we purchased and the account of one Deacon Silver, we entered the former prison. Within we skirmished with a small group of kobolds. I charmed one of these filthy beings in hopes of discerning some information about the area; he was a sorrowful little shit and, once ensorcelled, had a bright spark in his eye that I knew might prove fruitful to our endeavor. As Nain spoke some of the kobold tongue we beseeched him to confer some simple instructions to the wretch.

That's when the little bugger grinned like a cheshire and bolted. As Nain's quick hammer took the kobold in the back of the skull, I wondered how could I have been so mistaken that the kobold had been enchanted? Had I made the sign of the monkey rising rather than the horse a-gallop? Oh well, it was just a kobold.

We explored further and found a deep well, knowing that hope of restoring our friends, as well as my personal compulsion from Xyrlac lie deeper in the depths of Stonehell, we descended. We were soon surpised to come upon a room of humans. One instantly took a liking to our night cap bedecked halfling and we began to notice that none of these humans were of sound mind. Had they descended from slaves of Stonehell? We began to ask them questions, of the plated mage, of this 'Lachesis' mentioned in the scribbles, of anything. The most reoccuring theme we could tell is that they all paid homage to someone known as 'big daddy'...

Sadly we soon set them off into a cacophony of screams, jeers, wails and lamentations. One ran off to a large 'jack-in-the-box' type chest and began turning a huge lever omniously. As Klint slew his would-be mother, Big Daddy appeared and was revealed to be a huge crazy in full armor. The giant of a man charged out and struck down poor Rhodor, Ozmo's charmed guard. Soon though he fell to the blades and spells of the party. Within Big Daddy's box we found disgusting living conditions, excrement and a handful of coins and rinds of bread.

Pushing on further we discovered a fascinating room, scrawled with equations and diagrams on every surface. It was so obvious a sign! I studied it and attempted my best to discern where the inevitable conclusion of the formula would end up. It spiraled and weaved, dodged and blurred, every next line revealing a new clue yet contradicting something previous. If I only had more time! Alas, my compadres pulled me from my study and we crossed into another room where they found a bonepile chained to the wall. Of course this attacked, it was a bonepile, duh! Sadly we were not able to discern the cause of this and after being assailed we moved on.

Delving deeper we found more chambers and passages, we discovered a statue's head inside a room impossibly small for the results of such a beheading. Past which we found a trove of foul urns, goblets and jars. As Klint, Bazil and Ozmo discerned that we may have found clues to where we lie in relation to our goals, Nain rushed forward...

I must take a moment and mention that I've begun to study the fortitude of a dwarf, namely the constitution of one Nain Bloodclotter. I've never seen someone as compulsed to put anything and everything into his mouth and gullet. Nor have I imagined those things that he has survived. Upon finding these vessels of putrid alcohol he began chugging. Disgusting does not begin to describe the scene. Amazingly enough at the bottom of the jug that he drank from he found a gold coin. We began to pour out the rest of the rotten liquid and found a treasure of coin within, Nain did his best to catch as many drops of the drink as possible.

Beyond all understanding, the dwarf was able to keep his stomach as we exited the resting place of the head. We passed a scrawled message on a nearby door 'Disturb not the slumber of it', paying heed (and following a drunken dwarf) we made haste to sections of the prison we believed our purchased map had outlined. Rushing onward we entered a gigantic hallway or room with ceilings far out of sight, and, as is common with rooms such as these... were attacked by giant spiders descending from above.

Bloodmallet, Dan Ger and Twitch made short work of the arachnids and we soon discovered to the south the remains of a fallen dwarf under some rubble. As a party we tend to follow our clerics in situations such as these, we looted his corpse and I think Nain may have taken another swig (against all known medical advice given his state of intoxication).

Quicksilver. Mercury. Vaedium. A fountain bubbled full of the precious material. As a student of all things arcane I cannot say that I've ever seen such amounts of it, nor can I say that I remember much of my studies of it. Sadly we attempted to push further forward and a few of us were only able to fill some small containers of the stuff.

I believe it was just past this time when Klint and Solmil were encouraging us to strike further along the path on the map, when our fully filled dwarf found some sorry sod's meal forgotton on the stone. Being who and what Nain is, he ate the lunch without thinking twice and quaffed the flask within the small sack.

This is the first time I've ever seen Nain Bloodclotter, priest of something or other for winos, pass the hell out. Hard.