Recap: York’s Pcon 39 scenario

First, Backstory: About a thousand years ago (long after the Night of No Stars, long before the invention of Aphar Clay) a largish group of refugees got booted out of Sitriph for being dissidents. (This was during the germination of the oppressive society encountered in the Con.) The dissidents had some clue that large groups of people could withstand the corruption of the Shroud remnants contaminating the wilderness, and they developed a fairly horrifying practice of human sacrifice to amplify and exploit this effect — imbuing the essence of humanity into the walls around them, through the blood of the sacrifices. It worked, but not well enough; one way or another each of their refuges failed and they would pack up and try to find a better location, each time going farther from Sitriph and heading for the legendary Shroud-free haven of Idyllicon Valley.

Along their way they discovered, but were refused entrance to, the Great Temple of Knowledge that had been built in the earliest years after the Night Of  No Stars, by clerics who wielded the burgeoning powers of the new Gods but still had access to the secrets of the old world as well. The Great Temple had been founded in the certainty that the Shroud would come again and all possible knowledge must be preserved against that dire day.

The Refugees (sometimes styled the Refugees of Blood) lost knowledge and numbers both in their string of forced migrations, and ultimately only a tiny remnant made the trek from their final refuge to Idyllicon (some records indicate only one Shroud-wracked individual.) The guards turned them away and the Refugees met their final doom in the wilderness.

Run 1: “Not a Ruin”
Premise was very simple – outriders scouting for the Horde spot a building that hasn’t been eroded to nothing, so maybe it has stuff. A looting^H^H^H^H^H^H^H foraging party is sent. They find a fairly complete walled keep, and also discover an out-wall suggesting that the keep had kept a couple of square miles under cultivation in its heyday. Attempting to enter, they are briefly delayed by the trapdoor grizzly bear that had set up shop in front of the entrance. Scrutinizing the structure, the detect a residue of some kind of unwholesome magic in the mortar, and come to the conclusion that it was made with blood. Skeletal remains of an apparent suicide — he had to dive headfirst down the narrow clear shaft at the core of the spiral stair — turn up in one of the corner towers, but nothing of interest otherwise. At the Great Hall, on the other hand, several mummified corpses are found, with an interesting variety of deathwounds. Further investigation is delayed when the mummies animate and attack the party. The mummies are eventually overcome; the party is horrified at the speed of progression of the variant mummy rot they inflict, but mollified when they discover that any kind of magical healing stops it in its tracks. Scraps of a journal are found and provide some clarification despite extensive smudging (the journal-writer knocked his ink bottle over onto it in his death-throes). The players can read enough to infer the basics: human sacrifice as a way to fend off Shroud-corruption, dwindling numbers, a grim certainty of encroaching doom. The last entry in the journal ends with “The burrowers beneath are …..”
Exploring the rest of the keep, the party resists the enticements of the ghost haunting the favored chambermaid’s bedroom (she projects a very alluring illusion to try to coax someone into her bed, but luckily for the party her haunting binds her to the bed and she can’t actually harm anyone she can’t reach). A large and detailed map is found in one of the master bedrooms and brought back to Hireling Hall. The party scouts the basements, notes that the mysterious “burrowers beneath” (who can drill through solid rock) seem to be returning now that there’s life in the keep again, and delay them by burning most of the combustibles left in the basement while making their own getaway. One of the items brought back restored knowledge of 4th-level Prayers to PCs.

Run 2: Shadows of Princecon Past
With all the clay running around I couldn’t resist throwing in a shout-out to Princecon 33: Ghost and Clay. Specifically, Terra Cotta Warriors. The next-oldest refuge of the  Refugees had been built with the bright idea of intensifying the protective “humanity” of the walls by making them look like humans; hence, the warriors made of fired clay, made to guard the walls. Unfortunately, the ritual of creating the warriors was too close to the (not-yet-discovered) Sitriph ritual for creating Aphar Clay, which *attracts* Shroud thread instead of repelling it. The clay statues became suffused with Shroud Thread, which animated them — and the ghosts of the people sacrificed to make them filled their nascent minds with horror. One night the guardian statues climbed down from the wall and started slaughtering the Refugees, who fled with scarcely more than the nightshirts on their backs. Once the murderers had been punished, the Terra Cotta warriors had a couple of centuries to calm down and get over their PTSD before the Players encountered them.
The party en route to the next refuge didn’t know any of this, of course. They did have an edifying encounter with a long-range patrol from Sitriph, a pair of two-pilot golems. (I treasure the look on Tim DeCapio’s face when his Gaia cleric used Lifesense to find out whether these odd monsters were alive or constructs and learned that each of them was alive twice.) After the golems were broken the pilots resisted too vigorously to be taken alive, except for the one who had succumbed to a Sleep spell while the golem was still functional. Interrogation of the pilot revealed some useful information about the Army of Salvation, Aphar Clay and the nature of its protection in the wilderness, but ultimately the pilot’s fanaticism and extremism grew so frustrating that the party put him out of their misery. (In fairness, it could be said this summary execution was what the prisoner wanted — he tried to commit suicide twice during the interrogation.)
The party proceeded to the keep marked on their map and discovered one much like the first-run keep, but obviously in better repair. In fact, they saw, it was obviously being repaired, with stone and metalwork of recent vintage patching decayed portions of the ancient structure. They also discovered that somebody inside was volleying arrows at anyone who came too close. Party withdrew to a dell out of LOS from the keep to rest for the night and plan. Winter’s Whisper, hobbit Gaia cleric, decided to make a lone scouting attempt to see if the cover of darkness would make it possible to approach the keep. He narrowly avoided being captured by a thrown net and hightailed it back to the campsite.
Shortly thereafter, the party discovered themselves surrounded by Terra Cotta Warriors with drawn bows, who had come up silently enough that no one noticed them until they broke the 60′ range limit of Darkvision. The party begged to talk with them, rather than fighting or trying to escape. This sufficiently intrigued the TCW that their leader got out a slate and a piece of chalk. (The TCW cannot speak–their faces are immobile carvings–and routinely communicate in writing.) In the ensuing conversation the TCW learned that the PCs were not descended from the Refugees (whom the TCW still hated) but instead from the people who turned the last Refugees away to die in the wilderness, which earned them a claim to at least minimal hospitality. (“YOU ARE WELCOME TO REST IN SAFETY WITHIN OUR WALLS. WE CANNOT OFFER YOU FOOD. WE DO NOT EAT.”) Subsequent negotiations provided the PCs with some useful items, the restoration of the Piety and Paladin feats, and some Terra Cotta Warriors accompanying them back to the Horde to teach the arts of steelworking and longbow manufacture (it turned out that these lost arts, however, had already been rediscovered by an earlier-returning party).

Run 3: Great Temple of Knowledge
The existence and location of the Great Temple were learned from contact with the Terra Cotta Warriors. An expedition went to see if they could loot^H^H^H^H retrieve the knowledge therein. Clever use of Gaia powers allowed the party to avoid all Army of Salvation patrols (the Great Temple is uncomfortably close to Sitriph) and make a quick approach to the Temple. Detect Traps revealed that the four pillars in front of the entrance would do Something Bad to anyone trying to force the door. After puzzling over the door for a while the party simply explained their plight and the need for knowledge, and the door opened. The party entered the antechamber within and were closely scrutinized by an entity who appeared to be an animated metal statue wearing a white cloak. They were then waved down a corridor which was filled with darkness impenetrable even to Gaia cleric Alist’s Continual Light devices. They emerged, after a time, to find that they were in a small chamber with a door at the end, and that the darkness behind them had become a solid barrier, forbidding return. Having little choice, they found themselves in a pitched battle between an attacking force of warriors in black coats and helmets, wielding powerful if strange weapons, and a defending force of civilians with improvised weapons behind an improvised barricade. Since the black-coats immediately attacked the PCs for being “subhumans” the party decided to throw in with the defenders. They learned that the defenders were led by Michael Theogenes, a human prophet of the Gods that had emerged since the descent of the Shroud had destroyed the evil Empire that was in the process of conquering the world. Michael and his volunteers were defending the last unblocked approach to a refuge that would be able to resist the encroaching Shroud (much reduced by the work it had already done), and they needed to hold off this remnant of the Empire’s armies long enough for the refuge to be sealed well enough to withstand the last surviving war machines.
The PCs enthusiastically committed their resources to the defense, in the process labeling the Empire’s hand weapons Great Unknown Noisemakers (G.U.N.s) and coming up with another phrase, which I sadly didn’t note, that gave the oncoming war machines the acronym T.A.N.K. The heroic sacrifice of Tristan Draelig, flinging himself atop Michael as four grenades exploded around them, saved Michael’s life; and the interposition of a Wall of Force at just the right moment caused the charging Imperials to be shattered by their own artillery. After the air elemental got into the last tank it was a matter of mopping up. As Michael expressed his gratitude the party saw the world around them fading and becoming translucent. They found themselves within a great hall of the Temple of Knowledge, filled with bookshelves and display cases — and still talking to Michael Theogenes, now manifesting as a translucent image of an ancient white-haired man. He confirmed that they had really been in the past, and had met and talked to him there, in consequence of which he knew that the Shroud would come again and destroy even that which had survived before. He had led the worshipers of the new Gods before they separated into individual churches, founded the Great Temple, and after dying at an advanced age was permitted by the Gods to linger as a spirit-guardian of the Temple. He pointed the party to the most immediately useful items and offered them help for securing Sitriph against the Shroud. He also promised that the Temple could ride out the Second Shroud but its capacity was severely limited.

Run 4: Relief Expedition
The party raced ahead of the Horde to the Temple of Knowledge, where they were provided with a self-propelled amphibious vehicle carrying 30 Ectoplasm Generators, devices that turned the Shroud’s own power against itself to create a barrier against its approach. They would not be enough to secure an enclave of useful size but could extend the walls that other parties hoped to form around Sitriph Fortress using Aphar Clay. After some discussion the party decided to use their vehicle’s amphibious capability not just to circumvent Army of Salvation patrols and checkpoints, but to cross the bay to Sitriph Fortress itself and mount an amphibious assault. Message via Stone and Message via Trees were used to alert the other expedition, aiming to rouse the disaffected population of Sitriph into an attack on the Fortress, about the timing of their attack.
A magical item in the party’s possession allowed them to conjure a ramp which allowed their vehicle to climb from the bay directly onto the first terrace of the Fortress. Furious combat ensued in which the party attacked with overwhelming force whenever possible. They were preparing for a potentially deadly confrontation with enemies who had concentrated multiple three-pilot Golems, backed up by infantry, spellcasters, and archer/snipers armed with Arrows of Human Slaying and Arrows of Dwarf Slaying, when the party in the “General Electric” expedition removed the power source from the Aphar Golems. At this point, resistance effectively ended for this party — while the other parties storming the Fortress had to deal with forted-up die-hards, the Army members who had seen that nothing short of a Golem could even slow down this deadly war machine were completely demoralized and either fled or surrendered. The party quickly pressed the surrendered into helping with cargo hauling as they deployed the Ectoplasm Generators around the north side of the island and then started hauling deactivated golems to continue the Aphar Clay wall. Cargo hauling was greatly facilitated when the mages spent most of their points conjuring Temporary Bags of Holding and set up bucket-brigades to collect golems in the interior (as well as the 5-ton blocks someone was teleporting in from somewhere.) (Reference note: 10 hobbits equipped with one Temp Bag of Holding apiece and one large cutting tool can collect 5 tons of clay in less than 5 melee rounds.) Although many others contributed to clay-hauling and wall-building, the efforts of the Relief Expedition were a vital part of the whole.

AFTERMATH
The Aphar Clay grew into mountains while the Shroud encompassed the world. The arc of Ectoplasm Generators to the north is the reason your new valley home opens out to fertile plains on that side. (With no more Shroud threads to spin into Ectoplasm, the Generators themselves are useless though intriguingly complicated devices.)  The Temple of Knowledge rode out the new Shroud as well, protecting a population of a few dozen Terra Cotta Warriors and some actual organic NPCs; its libraries and supernatural instructors are at the disposal of all who seek to rebuild a better world.

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Recap: California Jones and the Temple of Boom!

Temple of Spirits

NPC who leads the group to the temple: Coughlan, an elf perhaps 9.99 out of 10 years old, yet obsessed with the variety of ways by which he could die (other than the obvious).

Outer Inscription: “May the spirits of our dead protect us from the wasteland”

Interior: a magical gate transports the PCs into the temple, and when they arrive their souls are occupying new bodies. Over the course of traversing a number of rooms, most of them died. They determined that so long as one PC made it through the room, the rest would re-join them in the next room, their souls occupying new bodies (sometimes including the original bodies of other members of their group).

Rooms:

  • Elementals: “The elements power our quest to resist the wasteland”
  • Downtrodden: “The wasteland has trodden us down over our hundred years journey”
  • Killed: “Who will avenge our deaths, one by one, as we succumb to this wasted land?”
  • Evil: “We ask what evil wrought this waste, though we’re told it was created to fight evil”
  • Wronged by PCs: “How many innocents have we wronged, innocents whose only crime was to be shrouded”

Final Room: “See now, the knowledge we have collected here. Pray it will keep us safe.”
Holds an alter containing the Tome of Samedhi, and a place for something the size of a wand or flute, but presently empty (see Magistrate Nikolai Zed in Steven’s scenario).

Highlights:

  • With the help of the spirits, the Dodge and Sixth Sense feats were recovered
  • The PCs were so paranoid from their time in the Wasteland that at one point Thaddeus cast Sleep on Brother Sue, Poppy attempted to cast Sterilize on Brother Sue, Alaimir tried to stop Poppy from casting on Brother Sue, and “Team Shut The F*** Up And Let Me Sleep” attempted to stop Alaimir. These were all PCs, mind you.
  • One of the PCs actually opened the Tome of Samedhi, instantly converting her from a Cleric of Aru to the High Priestess of Samedhi.
  • This was the run where the GM killed 15 out of 7 players, including 5 at a time with a Mass Finger of Death from a Lich in the “Evil” room.

Temple of Thieves

NPC who leads the group to the temple: Klyptin, a hobbit who holds his cards close to his chest and seems constantly worried that “competitors” will get to the temple first. The PCs twice detected Locate prayers targeting him, and noticed that there seemed to be more and more zombies on the scene the closer they got to the temple. While at first it seemed like Klyptin’s paranoia was justified, the group ultimately became suspicious of him, especially when he cheerfully abandoned them mere hours from arriving at the temple. They were, however, able to locate the entrance without him, and headed into the temple moments before the mass of zombies reached it.

Outer Inscription: “May the treasures of our peoples attract a guardian to protect us from the wasteland”

Interior: Full of traps. After passing each trap, a magic item with the appropriate defense was found in the next room. (Leading the players to ask what would have happened if they traversed the temple in reverse…)

Rooms:

  • Spear trap triggered by breaking a beam of light: “The wasteland stabs our hearts, leaving us cold”
  • Pit trap spanned by a Hallucination of a rope bridge: “Our lives are but a drop in the bucket of the wasteland”
  • Poisoned darts triggered by pressure panels in the floor: “Once the wasteland is in our veins, it burns us from inside”
  • Size Change (x16) trap in a narrow corridor: “The evil in this world grows, until we can no longer bear it. What will cleanse us?”
  • Water-filling room trap: “The shroud washed over this land. Perhaps it could wash us clean.”

Final Room: “See now, the treasures we have collected here. Come now, accept them, and keep us safe.”
Holds an altar containing the Tome of Sitriph, a magical book detailing the rulers of Sitriph from the founding to the present moment. It shows the Baylis dynasty ruling from the founding without change until about 250 years ago, whereupon the names change to be more Hobbit-like and no longer maintain any connection to House Baylis (the PCs would later discover part of the justification for the Army of Salvation ruling Sitriph was that they claimed to be an obscure branch of House Baylis).

Highlights:

  • The Sleight of Hand skill was recovered
  • Early on, one of the PCs was overheard saying “Always kill the guide.” Later they were heard to regret not taking this advice.
  • The PCs discovered Klyptin’s drowned body partway through, and took the small book he was always consulting and scribbling in. Upon discovering it had deeply religious overtones, the Aru cleric (a different one this time) opened it and instantly converted to become the High Priest of Ratri. However, after the way the rest of the run played out (particularly regarding disposition of magic items), the players agreed not to release Ratri to the rest of the host.

Temple of Fighters

NPC who leads the group to the temple: Sharpe, a dwarf who does things like practice flying by jumping out of trees in plate armor and attempt to grow a bigger beard by eating everyone else’s rations. (In other words, completely nuts.)

Outer Inscription: “May centering our souls purify us against this shrouded land”

The temple itself, once they get past the fact that Sharpe can’t read his own writing to find the way back to it, proves to be largely ruined. Of four original buildings, only one survives, and that one is the Hall of Heroes.

Interior: A different heroic tests awaits in each room. Each room has a sparring ring in which four heroes materialize and attack the PCs, and can only be defeated in some way particular to that room.

Rooms:

  • Quickdraw: “When the weapon at hand does not pierce our enemy, we find one that does” (the adversaries discard their weapons at the end of every round, and cannot be wounded by the same weapon twice)
  • Blind Fighting: “We strike even though we cannot perceive our enemy” (the room is in a clerical darkness)
  • Toughness: “Though we are constantly within the grip of our enemy, we must press on” (everyone in the room takes two points of damage each round until the adversaries are defeated)
  • Critical Hit: “We must strike at the heart of our enemy” (the adversaries are only killed by a Critical Hit, Called Shot, or Sneak Attack)
  • Multistrike: “We must not just strike our enemy, but those who support him” (the adversaries pair up and attack the clerics and mages, and are only killed if you do enough damage to a pair to kill them both)
  • Dodge: “We must avoid our enemy long enough to prepare a great counterstrike” (each adversary is defeated if he goes 5 rounds without harming a PC)

Final Room: A cavernous room with an alter holding the Tome of Heroes, describing a time whereupon a mighty and evil empire swept aside all resistance, and a brave group of unlikely heroes joined forces to cast a great magic to purify the land.

Highlights:

  • The Multistrike and Deadly Attack feats were recovered
  • By the end there were three different PCs at negative Hit Points (including the only Cleric). One of the other PCs managed to stabilize every one of them on her first try, despite having a Heal skill bonus of at best, two.
  • The final Dodge room was looking to be pretty grim for the remaining PCs, until the not-very-clever adversaries got stuck fighting the two PCs who were both Immune to Normal Weapons.

Background on the Temples

Many hundreds of years ago, a large group left Sitriph, setting out for “Idyllican, the Legendary Fortress of the East.” However, instead of pressing on through the wasteland until they reached it, they decided to stop and build their own haven to fend off the wasteland. Ultimately, it did not succeed, and they pressed on, only to repeat and attempt another haven, and so on. The temples in my scenario are the remains of their havens, and each represented a different way they attempted to resist the wasteland — first (to them) purifying themselves through devotion to specific arts, then hoarding treasure to attract a guardian to protect them, then using the power of spirits to shelter them. These were referred to in the quotes at the entrance to each temple. All of these approaches were “a little” successful, but not enough for them to stay there indefinitely (e.g. the spirits protected them within the temple, but there was no way to grow food inside, and the spirits did not protect them while hunting/farming/etc.).

York’s scenario shared some of the same background involving these travellers.

For what it’s worth, a very small group of them (including Azazel) did finally reach the Idyllican Valley, but they were too mutated by that point and were turned away at the Wall by the Watch (referenced in the fourth teaser).

The quotes on the rooms along the way described their journey, and the origins of the Shroud that caused the wasteland that was slowly mutating them and driving them mad.

City and Fortress of Sitriph

My final run took place as the host of refugees approached Sitriph, and needed to get through the City of Sitriph to the Fortress of Sitriph and set up their various mechanisms to protect the Fortress against the oncoming Shroud. The City of Sitriph is what we’d today call San Francisco (with the PCs approaching from the south), while the Fortress of Sitriph is on Alcatraz.

The first problem was getting the refugees into the city. Past a heavily corrupted swamp, there was a large cleared area patrolled extensively by the Army of Salvation, just outside a massive Dwarf-build wall protecting the city. The refugees had some contact with a “resistance” group inside the city, which was opposing the Army of Salvation and the way they treated the rest of the citizens of Sitriph. The PCs were told to contact the King of the Wolf Yards, just inside the wall. They had the book showing that the supposed legitimacy of the Army of Salvation was all a sham, and from Steven’s scenario they also had the last surviving heir to House Bayliss (the original ruling dynasty).

Some creative Gaia clerics and followers managed to establish that it wasn’t safe to fly over the wall, and found a wolf in the swamp who had come out through the wall. Her name was Soft Fur, and she offered to show them a way back in through the wall (she reported that, being dwarf-made, it was riddled with secret doors and passages). This was all on the condition that they set her up on a date with Long Tooth, one of the wolves inside. To their dismay, the PCs learned the hard way that the Army of Salvation had some sort of detect/locate on shrouded beings, and only narrowly made it to/through the wall at all. Soft Fur did not survive.

The PCs were able to contact the resistance, and while there was some repulsion at the sight of their shroud effects (and more so, at the hobbit among them), they came to agreement. Or at least, they came through with suitable bribes. (The “King” of the Wolf Yard seeming to be basically a criminal overlord who was willing to help if it seemed like the new regime would leave him with more influence than the old one.) He would sneak the PCs into the Great Marketplace, whereupon they could address a huge number of citizens of Sitriph, and with some help from various plants in the crowd, hopefully stir up serious opposition to the Army of Salvation.

About this time the PCs received magical messages from another group of PCs, saying “Attacking the Fortress at dawn. Arrange your operations accordingly.”

They proceeded to present their case in the marketplace that afternoon (as well as a large part of the surrounding neighborhood via some timely magical enhancement), and while it was well-received, it wasn’t quite enough to tip the scales. Until the Army of Salvation showed up in giant Clay Golems crying “Mutants! Mutants herein!” and indiscriminately blowing the crowd to shreds. The end result was city-wide rioting against the Army of Salvation, only a half-day ahead of schedule.

At the following dawn, the PCs proceeded to a tunnel dug most of the way to the Fortress of Sitriph by the resistance. With the help of some summoned Earth Elementals, they completed the tunnel and invaded the fortress. They were met with stiff resistance from the Clay Golems, though they managed to turn the tables by Possessing one of the pilots, thereby turning one of the golems to their side. They occasionally noticed other PCs invading the fortress, via fighting and explosions off in the distance, the entire fortress shaking when certain supplies were destroyed, and etc.

Looking for a way to avoid fighting an unceasing series of golems, they PCs hatched a plan to send the possessed golem to the General of the Army of Salvation and (using a special-purpose magic item) kill him. This might have worked, but at that exact moment another group of PCs disabled the power source for the golems and they all collapsed into immobility (accompanied by hobbit-sounding calls of “Oh, SH*T!” from inside the golems).

Instead, the group used more Earth Elementals to tunnel through the fortress to the command center, where they found the Lieutenant General of the army huddling miserably in the corner. He nearly had them convinced that the General was out of their reach, until they Possessed him and discovered that the General was simply hiding behind a secret door, hoping to wait out the whole assault.

With the command of the Army of Salvation in their “possession,” that pretty much spelled an end to the army’s resistance in the city and fortress.

Meanwhile, other scenarios managed to transport the refugees to the swamp just south of the city, to provide sufficient food and supplies, and to install a number of shroud protections around the fortress.  (Plus, as mentioned before, disabling the power source for the Clay Golems, allowing the refugees to actually reach the city wall.)

All together, this enabled the refugees to get through the City of Sitriph, enter the Fortress of Sitriph, and huddle safely for the forty days and nights it took for the Shroud to pass.

On a final note, the Gaia cleric on this run ended up using a magic item that granted a single Wish to raise Soft Fur from the dead, reuniting her with Long Tooth, and bringing them both into the Fortress of Sitriph. (They needed no convincing to commence repopulating their species…)

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PrinceCon 38 recap — Chris’s scenario

Lucius Gaius was originally supposed to be very Winston Churchill, but a lot of Tony Soprano and Malcom X got mixed in when I actually ran him.
First run 
Players are sent to discover why the Senate has ordered the masters of the Hall arrested. They find out the senate is mainly controlled by two people, Aimale Arathorn, wife of the just assassinated First Citizen and Lucius Gaius, a Hogbound Senator. They have to meet with them to try and convince them to revoke the arrest order and free the masters. Aimale will refuse to help them, Lucius will help; but only after the players wipe out a Daglirae gang that has taken over the docks. The Daglirae have imposed their own cultural rules on the area and pushed out 3 hogbound gangs that used to control it.
 The party did a decent job getting in to see Gaius, and he sends them off to the docks with very little explanation in order to see how they do. They use massive disguise skills and invisibility spells to get into the dock area and check things out. While half the party is in disguise and stuck during the Drinking Time, pouring ale over themselves to try and fit in without getting too too drunk, the invisible half of the party decides to take advantage of the absence of guards and steal with the two person gimbal-mounted heavy crossbow turret and run for it. Of course, the guards notice the missing weapon and set off an alarm. The invisible ones decide that they have enough loot for one run, and take off. The disguised ones look at all the guards starting a search pattern, searching for anything suspicious, like disguised adventurers, and decide that running away is the better part of valor. They do a decent job, up until the one with the slowest move ends up getting stuck alone in an alley, with guards about to discover him. Did the rest of the party fight? Make a distraction? Maybe grab him and try and pull him along? Nope! Truly this was a weekend of Friends like These.  Luckily that guy had a great disguise skill and successfully pretended to be a dead guy suffering only minor trampling damage when the guards marched over his “Corpse”
So in the end, the party did not drive off the Daglirae, but they got some clues as to their routines, and weakened their defenses for the next group.
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Brunhilda’s Guide to Drinking in the Nymphidae Ghetto (+Zombie Cults)

Or, The Player Report to Alex’s Friday Evening Run

Five tall, hooded (hallucination-wielding!) undead charged into the Nim ghetto and stole the body of a Nim (Thorn) who was murdered at the same time as the First Citizen, in the same way.  They have been kidnapping Nymphidae for the past 6-8 months (today Gilly & Willow) and performing strange rituals on them in (shoddy) underground tunnels beneath the Olivine that lead to a lost Nymphaea, buried 300 years ago.  The entrance is in a building in the ghetto — beware 4(?) pit traps in the tunnel.

** Did I mention undead? **

Thorn’s spirit wasn’t able to leave her body (as Nim spirits usually do).  The bad, tall fellows (cult followers? see sketch of their tattoos) were carrying spirit swords – directly attacking Nymphidae.  Sextus examined Thorn, says no danger of her body contaminated w/First Citizen’s madness, and claims it was a “copycat” killing.  We followed tunnels to catacombs (w/ Goldberry, a Nymphidae Cleric)  FULL OF UNDEAD  “City will feel the wrath of the undying one” cult.  Preacher w/pope hat.  Kneeling people.  “Fed to the Baron!”

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PrinceCon 38 recap — Alex’s scenario

Backstory

The people of the Republic long practiced ancestor worship, calling upon a variety of tutelary deities to intercede for them.  Though active worship has waned, these spirits continue to protect the people and places to which they have become attached.  Some watch over the great families, while others literally strengthen the walls of the cities.

Now, though, the nymphaea (places where ancestor worshipers can commune with tutelary spirits) of the Republic are being corrupted by the Walkers in the Afterworld (a group of Thoki-worshiping OrcTuskan Inferii left over from the destruction of the City of Troll), and lure spirits into a trap that forces them to fight in the new “virtual arena” of the Colosseum until destroyed.

Some of the Gwhi’s ancestral spirits have been trapped, too, and once the Gwhi figured out that the problem was coming from inside Clio, they invaded.  Unfortunately, many more of Clio’s spirits have been destroyed — the Terminus of Walpole was destroyed shortly before the invasion, and Walpole’s walls fell too easily before the Gwhi’s onslaught.

Additionally, the pieces of the destroyed spirits are being used by to create a “master spirit”, Baron Samedhi, which could try to challenge Ronkel’s position as god of death.

Runs

“The Refugees”

Dramatis Personae

Alissandra, Nymphidae Guardian
Brunhilda, Daglirae Hero of Daglir
Corwin, Human Hero of Ratri
Rasha, Human Mage of Magus
Uig Scolari, Human Guardian of Janda

The hook: In the late afternoon, the PC’s are put on “dead Nim cleanup” and told to deal with a Nymphidae named Goldberry, who has been asking around the Hall of Heroes for someone to come see to a refugee from Walpole who has died.

On the run: Goldberry escorts the PC’s to the Nymphidae ghetto on the northwest side of the Olivine Hill. As they approach the gates to the community, they are met by Rowan, who says the ghetto was invaded by 5 strangers in dark grey cloaks who killed several Nymphidae and kidnapped two of the Walpole refugees, Gilly and Willow, along with the body of Thorn, the dead refugee. No one is sure where the intruders went.

The party tracked footprints to a dead-end at the other edge of the ghetto, in an area that has been mostly deserted, where they stop dead at a wall.  Quickly checking the other side of the wall, they see the tracks don’t continue.  They eventually discover that the alley is covered in a hallucination, and find that the real tracks lead to an abandoned building with a trapdoor in the floor.

Travelling as quickly as possible through the tunnel they discovered (Brunhilda noting that it was cleverly, but sloppily, built), the party missed the pit with poisoned spikes at the bottom… and the second… and the third, though to be fair, after the first they put a Levitate upon Corwin, who was taking point.

They eventually end up at the bottom of a dried-up well, at the top of which was a lost Nymphaeum on the eastern side of the Olivine, which had been buried under a landslide long ago.  The PC’s send up Corwin, invisible and with blindsight, who sees 3 tall, man-sized figures in robes standing around two unconscious nymphidae, with the dead body of Thorn nearby… and two more figures, taking up a position watching the well.  They take a few moments to prepare, hasting the two heroes, then while Brunhilda comes charging out of the well, Corwin sneak attacks the two watchers, expecting to drop them because of his 3 levels of sneak attack.  (Unfortunately for Corwin, his targets are undead).  In the ensuing battle, Corwin is knocked unconscious and Brunhilde is brought below negative hit points, and the spellcasters are nearly out of spell points(see below) and low on HP themselves.  Fortunately, the enemy heroes and two of the enemy spellcasters (including the cleric) had dropped, leading to a grappling attempt by Rasha (a mage) and Alissandra (a strength 8 guardian) on the last enemy spellcaster as he tried to escape with one of the Nims down a hidden tunnel (hilarity ensued).  Uig, who had the very last spell points in the party, played the part of a cleric by casting Enhance Ability (Constitution).  Corwin became conscious, and made short work of the final enemy.

Signature moment?: One of the enemy spellcasters was focused entirely upon counterspelling; unfortunately for him, the players had already blown nearly all of their spell points prior to the battle.  However, it was dark up there, and only Brunhilda and Corwin (and their opponents) could really see what they were doing.  Alissandra (who was completely out) hit upon the idea of casting the cantrip Mage Light, and since it was the only spell being cast that round, the enemy caster counterspelled it (and then prepped snowball the following round).

With only 40 minutes before Brunhilda and Corwin would become unconscious again (when Enhance Ability stopped), the party made their way back to Goldberry in the Nymphidae ghetto with the stolen bodies — Gilly lived, Willow died shortly before the party arrived — and the party notes that the wound on Thorn is the distinctive ‘X’ wound on Julius Augustus Arathorn.

Sensing this is important, the party reports this to the Ronkel church.  They are shocked by the news, and want the body immediately brought to the church; the party demures (Goldberry said something about wanting to send Thorn’s and Gilly’s spirits back to their ancestors), but then word comes from Sextus that he will go alone with the party to the Nim ghetto in order to examine the body.  He declares it to be a copycat killing (never mind that the death occurred around the same time as Julius’s murder) and says there is no danger of the madness spreading from this body.

Goldberry thanks the PC’s for their help, and invites them to the ceremony to send Thorn’s and Gilly’s spirits back to their ancestors.  Gilly’s goes smoothly, but Thorn’s is unable to leave.  Communing with the spirits, Goldberry declares that Thorn’s body needs to be returned to Walpole (next run!).

However, this party wasn’t finished yet.  Not by a long shot.  There was still the matter of that tunnel the last enemy tried to escape down.  Returning to the scene, they found that the tunnel had been filled in while they were away.  Apparently, there was a larger organization at work that didn’t want to be followed!  In a fit of conscientiousness that could double as a nomination for Death Wish, the party rounded up a group of Daglirae workmen and had them reopen the tunnel, then followed it down into catacombs of the undercity (using ropes instead of a Levitate because, in Alissandra’s words, “short ropes don’t cost spell points”), where they witnessed more of the “tall men in gray” meeting with some human followers.  The party debated whether to fireball the meeting, but eventually decided to simply observe and then return home after discovering there were dozens of undead wandering the crypts.

“Walpole”

Dramatis Personae

Horace Worthington Gruntworth, Hogbound Guardian Mavors
Horvot, Hogbound Guardian of Gaia
Jonicus, Human Hero (Ancestors)
Lorenzo Domenico, Nymphidae Mage of Magus
Lunarius Tau, Human Guardian

The hook: The PC’s return Thorn’s body to Walpole, where her spirit can then inhabit a nymphaeum.

On the run:  While exploring the destruction of the city, they encounter a horse that appears to have more than human intelligence.  It calls for a group of the Ghwi rearguard, essentially an NPC party of player-level characters from the Ghwi equivalent of HH.  Some of the adventuring Epon have ancient crystal weapons, passed from parent to child, that have the odd inscription “Induemus Lancea”. The Ghwi have no idea what this means.

The party surprises the Ghwi with 4 fireballs, but some of the Ghwi heroes survive to charge the party and inflict serious damage before dying.  The party completes its mission to return Thorn’s body to a nymphaeum, and learns from her spirit that the tutelary deities from the Republic are under attack from unknown sources.  From other statements she makes, they also begin to suspect that her father might have been the Julius.

Also see Steve’s take on the events: http://princecon.org/pcon38/steve-2.pdf

 

“Walkers in the Afterworld”

Dramatis Personae

Holly Wood, Human Hero of Gaia

Horvot, Hogbound Guardian of Gaia

Jaysa Windwhisper, Nymphidae Hero of Gaia

Jonicus, Human Hero (Ancestors)

Puddlebee Hogsworth, Hogbound Cleric of Gaia

 

On the run:

The PC’s are asked to investigate strange disturbances on the property of a leading citizen.  They discover that the grounds contain a nymphaeum.  They also discover a group of undead that bring a kidnapped citizen to the nymphaeum, and battle and destroy the undead.  Retracing the path that the undead took to get to the nymphaeum, the party determines that they came from the triumphal arch.  Worse, there appeared to be traces of many different groups leaving the arch.  The party spent the night following these paths and cataloguing the battles taking place at nymphaea around the city, helping out where needed.

Also see Steve’s take on the events: http://princecon.org/pcon38/steve-3.pdf

“Ritulo de lo Spiritual”

Dramatis Personae

Archion, Human Mage

Crankul, Hogbound Mage of Aru

Falken, Human Mage of Aru

Razyz, Human Cleric of Gaia

Titus Agrippa Postumous, Human Hero

Wrenn, Hogbound Mage of Mavors

In their words:

Acting swiftly we set 4 Walls of Fire trap on the Arch, through which the undead spellcasters are sending in additional forces.  It, the arch, is probably fine.  The undead were destroyed.  The Arch opened to a grey mist-filled area that closed before we could explore, the Ruby of Control on our side appeared in the stone, not a normal spot.

Additionally we observed a sacrificial ritual under Beacon Hill, and bravely watched a person die while also watching them “fight” via the Slate, thus proving they’re evil (the Slate, not us).  After our totally required sacrifice of the townsfolk, we chased the undead, firing shark after shark into the water and tracked them underground via Locate until they vanished under the Capitol.

You’re welcome,

Archion

On the run:

Based on the discoveries of the previous run, the party planned to ambush undead as they came through the triumphal arch at night, and managed to prevent a group of undead from entering the City.

They also went to the nymphaeum at Beacon Hill, in order to try to gain evidence that the Slates were tied into the disappearances of citizens.  The nymphaeum is built into the sheer side of the hill that faced the river, and the entrance was overgrown with vegetation.  Inside, they found piles of dead bodies of citizens, leading the the exchange:

“Shouldn’t we bury these bodies?”

“We can do that… after…”

So the party exited the shrine and lay in wait at the top of the hill, until two undead arrived carrying the body of a kidnapped citizen and entered the shrine.  It was difficult for the party to observe what was happening, so to overcome this problem, Razyz summoned a rat and they cast clairsentience on it.  Through the rat, the party observed a ritual in which the kidnapped citizen’s life force was used to power a Slate match.  Unfortunately, the undead discovered that the rat was enchanted with clairsentience, and killed it.  As the party prepared to charge into the nymphaeum, the undead leaped into the river below, and escaped into an underwater tunnel that led under the city.

 

“It only thinks it’s happening”

Dramatis Personae

Brunhilda, Daglirae Hero of Daglir

Hagrador, Human Hero

Holly Wood, Human Hero of Gaia

Jaysa Windwhisper, Nymphidae Hero of Gaia

Jonicus, Human Hero (Ancestors)

Mungo, Human Hero (Ancestors)

Puddlebee Hogsworth, Hogbound Cleric of Gaia

 

With solid proof that the Slates were tied not only to the disappearances of citizens, but to the destruction of tutelary spirits, the PC’s went to investigate the Colosseum.  They are given immediate access to Eidolinger’s office in the hypogeum, but it turns out to be a trap, and the party is transported to the spirit plane, where they find themselves pitted against a group of spirits in a game that is amazingly similar to the first match that Flynn plays in TRON.  The ball of energy dropped into Holly’s cesta.

And this is when the longest and loudest argument of the weekend occurred, as the PC’s decided whether to passively resist by refusing to play.  Finally, as Holly prepared to start the match…

Jaysa: “Are you throwing the ball?”

Holly: “I’m not serving the ball an onside kick!”

And so begins another argument over who should throw the ball, during which it’s determined that no one has the acrobatics skill.  It finally ended with:

Holly: “I wanted to take acrobatics, but you guys told me it was stupid!”

After winning the match, the party is set up to play another match; this time one of their opponents is not a spirit, but Ke’Flyn, a daglirae of the Daglir church who was trapped in the spirit plane when he discovered how the Colosseum was being used.  Together the PC’s and Ke’Flyn escape the spirit Colosseum, and return to the living world through the beacon at the spirit Beacon Hill.  Brunhilda left the following checklist for the Sunday run.

To Do List

1. Kill Samedhi (evil spirit; use my sword / entrance badge to Colosseum)

2. Kill OrcTuskans (overly tall pointy-eared creatures bent on destroying Clio)

3. Find Nymphaeum under the Colosseum (follow directions) & clean it up.  This is the most important spirit kill site.  The others are feeders.  FYI: this is where Samedhi is.

4. Read Clue Board for info (I put stuff there)

5. Find out who Markus’s father is

Love, Hilda

 

Also see Steve’s take on the events: http://princecon.org/pcon38/steve-5.pdf

 

“Baron Samedhi”

Dramatis Personae

Alissandra, Nymphidae Guardian

Archion, Human Mage

the Auditor, Nymphidae Cleric of Mavors

Cadfael, Human Cleric of Aru

Crankul, Hogbound Mage of Aru

Spirit, Human Cleric of Gaia

 

In their own words:


Our mission:

The prior expedition shut down the Colosseum, but did not destroy the Spirit that was being created with all of the pieces (Samedhi), as well as probably who was creating it.  (Hierarch Daglir — was a sap/dupe.  He was fed some ‘research’ which he misrepresented as his own… but he’s dead now.)

OrcTuskan “Walkers in the Afterworld” .. tall, humanoid (brown robes) — don’t bleed / are undead (carrying potions of cause) .. an old, secret race which was wiped from history.  (Kill if any escape BobWest’s run); this was a great civilization which had a city here in Clio which was buried in a cataclysmic civilization-ending event by Ronkel followers.

It is believed that there is a connection between the Catacombs and the Nymphaeum (temple of Ancestor Worship) which includes a ritual (tied to the Games) which brings forth a Spirit (source of spirits for the Games).  A winning spirit would be kept around; a losing spirit is destroyed.

Descending to the Nymphaeum under the Colosseum, a crystal is broken, which released a ‘mist’, apparently of spirits — and of Samedhi?  Will saves are made, except for our 10th level Mage, Crankul, who casts a Teleport, which we were not able to disrupt.

Find Being on our compatriot reveals his location back above the city; we chase at 360’/round flying.  Back above ground, we find a tremor has leveled the Nymphidae ghettos.  Flying above the city is Crankul, who then descends to the ground (face down, gentle landing), but the FELON Samedhi is now separate from his location.  The FELON possessed a child and was ‘playing’ a very fatal game of Tag on other small children.  Dispel Evil failed and Hold Person (success!) immobilized the killer-possessed child.

Possession-hop to Alissandra … some fighting.  Then Alissandra flies into a wall to kill herself and force her possession to end.

Before Alissandra was possessed, he was willing to chain-lightning a group of small children … but while he was possessed, he chose to fly into a sharp pointy wall.

Another jump… and a Phase-In finally allows conventional combat to finally begin.  Spirit wades in and swings the +0 Soul Sword, buffed by Flame Weapon… quite well.  Other join in and engage — an Air Elemental and even the Auditor successfully attacks and hits.

Summoning for more alliances (Fire Giant & Wyvern) … tendrils from Samedhi attach to the Fire Giant, turning him for a moment; the Auditor works to cut the tendril and possession.

Coming over the side of the building … blue silvery figures (with tails that stretch back to the Nymphaeum) which take the form of galloping Gwhi that charge down the wall, finishing off Samedhi.  VICTORY!!

So noted in the grey leather tome of the AUDITOR

 

Read More

PrinceCon 38 recap – Steve’s Scenario

PrinceCon XXXVIII Summary

The Cursed City of Xeraneum

 

Aderea 04-05-13Overall Summary:  Members from the Hall of Heroes explore a hidden underground city to discover how the plot of the First Citizen’s murder is connected with the city’s strange inhabitants.

Run 1: First Encounter with Xeraneum  (Crankul, Erau, SallieAnn)

Members of The Hall of Heroes are given a mission by Sextus to determine what the last sane orders of the First Citizen were.  They travel along a magical lost road powered by a slow song with a scholar named Coburnicus with the hopes of finding evidence of the party of twelve adventurers that left a year ago and were never seen again.  The small search party arrives in the dark buried fabled city Xeraneum of and after a small snake attached to a severed Nymphidae’s head sound an alarm they do battle with the Ophions, a race of snakes that are able graft living body parts onto their sinuous forms.  Although one combatant had multiple bird parts attached, their main adversaries had parts from the party sent a year ago seamlessly attached and fought with the skill of the original possessors of the limbs.  SallieAnn talks to them with the aid of a Comprehend languages spell as they fight and find that the creatures refered to some one or something as ‘Mother’.  When the fight was over, the Aru worshippers and the one Gaia worshipper took away the weapons from the unconscious snake people.  Although they had only been in the cursed city for about fifteen minutes, they decided to return on the ‘road that was’ to the City of Clio.  Before they left  Coburnicus alone in the dark city, they gave him as many protections as they could give and made off for home with the small snake attached to the living head in a sack to show future adventurers from the Hall of Heroes what they had found.

Run #2:  Return to Xeraneum (Crankul, Galen, Krag Maga, Mungo, Wilbur)

Without going to Sextus, one member from the small earlier mission, Crankul, to be exact, decides take another excursion to Xeraneum to discover more secrets, find Cobernicus and return the small snake attached to the Nim’s head. Once they arrive the new party chooses to follow the directions to an attuned penny given to Cobernicus and the smell of baking bread and arrive in the bakery district. They are ambushed by a group of Ophions but the party works well together and they quickly start destroying their assailants.  Krag Maga goes to kill a small Ophion wizard who is trapped in a web.  He discovers he has the arms and mouth of Luno Lunestro, the Hogbound sorcerer who disappeared a year ago grafted to him.  The Ophion using the mouth attached to his neck begs with Krag Maga not to kill him and that he will tell him where ‘he’ is being kept.  When the small Ophion blurts out he is in a wool dying vat in the market part of town, Krag kills the helpless creature.  The party decides to hold up in the bakery while Galen does some scouting.  Galen returns with information that the prisoner is exactly where he was told but is kept guarded.  The party hatches a plan to rescue the prisoner with combination of stealth & magic.  Crankul and Galen get close enough to see the gigantic snake with the single head and five bodies slithering back and forth.  Crankul dimension doors into the giant vat and begins pulling the man into the next dimension door when he realizes this man is not Cobernicus!  He knows the prisoner is alive and he can’t stop the plan now.  On their way back to the bakery, both Galen and Crankul recognize the man as Ulysses (Yule) and was one of the members of the party of twelve that left for this place a year ago.  He is not in ill health but is being kept asleep with a sleeping poison.  They rendezvous with the rest of the group and make it to their exit from the city.  On their way back on the road-that-was they discuss what they should do with the liberated prisoner and where they should revive him.

Run #2.5: Awakening the Prisoner (Crankul, Galen)

Although originally meant to be a small run by itself, time did not allow for anything more than an exchange of information.

Since Sextus sent them on the mission, Crankul felt it was very important to awaken Yule in his presence.  Galen and Crankul go to the temple of Ronkel and interrupt Sextus in a religious ceremony.  Upon seeing them he allows an acolyte to continue and he takes them into a private room with their sleeping witness.  Crankul, who possessed knowledge of poisons, awakens the prisoner as Sextus takes a position behind Yule’s chair.  Yule awakens and he is told he is safe and in the city of Clio.  He explains he was tortured and taunted by the Beast of Lengend, Aderea!  Even though she lacked eyes, she still seemed formidable and possessed a mind staggering intellect.  Through a haze of pain, Yule mentioned she had been poisoning the Laurel tree that feeds information to First citizen though his golden laurel crown and had driven him mad.  She knew the first citizen was finally dead because she was in contact with the murderer though silver scroll which allowed two way conversation.  Galen immediately asked who the murderer was.  Yule was just about to tell them and a surprising thing happened.  In a spray of blood and gore, snakes burst forth from his body and face.  Sextus, who already had his dagger out, joined in the fight but as aech snake was severed, it regenerated into two new snakes.    Acolytes arrived with torches grabbed from the walls and discovered fire was the solution to keep the snakes from regenerating.  When the fight was over, the body was not allowed to be disturbed as set forth in the laws of Ronkel.  Sextus explained the ordinances of his church are to ‘Let the dead stay dead and not disturbed or revived for any reason.  Crankul shared his information with the hall of heroes.

Run #3: Silver Scroll Quest (Holly Wood, Horvat, Jaysa WindWhisperer, Jonicus, Puddlebee Hogsworth)

This party’s mission was to recover the silver scroll and discover the murderer’s identity.  They arrive in the city and after examining the vat that held Yule, they hear the tolling of a bell.  First fearing they have been discovered, they realize the Ophions are being summoned to an amphitheater to witness something wonderful thanks to a series of comprehend languages spells and the murmuring of the crowds.  They arrive to the perimeter of the amphitheater and see the monsterous five-bodied snake shedding its skin to cheers from the Ophion crowd cheering out to thye sanke they called the ‘Wearer of The Dead”  When the crowd dispursed, four Ophidians with grafted with multiple bird parts carried the gigantic shed skin to the ‘Scroll Guardian’. The party stealthily follows and enters the mansion house when the four enemy creatures leave.  The courtyard is littered with cast off snake skins. A light wind arrises and a voice beg them to leave.  When they do not leave elemental storm energy fills each of the snake skins and when the constructs physically hit they realease thjeir lightning attack.  The party defends themselves and talks with the disembodied voice but does not attacke the strange ‘storm skins’.  They try to locate the creature animating the skins and search for the silver scroll when they notice some of the skins did not move away from the pool in the center of the courtyard.  Just as the number of animated skins increase to fatal numbers, Jonicus pulls up a metal plate under the water and a jar bobs to the surface. Puddlebee opens the jar and all the skins fall limp.  The air coalesces into a female form of an air nymph, specifally, Aderea’s sister.  The party names her ‘Bella’.  ‘Bella’ explains that Aderea used to be an earth nymph until a mortal’s sexual assault on her centuries ago forced her to become flesh without the hope of ever merging with the earth again and it is likely that she only works with the killer because it only helps her gain her revenge on every living mortal.  ‘Bella’ hands the party the silver scroll that Aderea uses to communicate with the murderer of the First Citizen.  ‘Bella’ explains that the only possibility of allowing her sister to attain her spirit form is to destroy her  form of flesh with the hopes that her spirit is strong enough to survive.  The party agrees to send more people from the Hall of Heroes to help Aderea return to her spirit form.  They forge a message from Aderea with the hopes that the assassin will reveal his identity and then they sneak back to the road-that-was and return to the city of Clio.  The following morning they receive a return message on the silver scroll identifying the killer as simply “-S”.

Run #4: The Beast of Legend (Brunhilda, Falken, Rasha, Razyz, Titus Agrippa Postumous, Uig Scolari)

The next party returns to Xeraneum to confront Aderea and release the Laurel Tree of the Republic from her control.  They arrive in the Xeraneum and narrowly escape having the alarm sounded by the little Ophidian in the hanging Nim head.  They kill it and wished they had read the past run reports warning them of the alarm system.  Bella had told the earlier party that Aderea lives on the palace grounds.  The party sneaks their way to the gates of the palace courtyard and Mindblast the monsterous Ophidian known as the ‘Wearer of the dead’ who is acting as guard.  When they finally enter  they are spotted and a battle ensues.  They fight well together and finally defeat the four or five snake-like guards.  When the battle is over, the wind picks up and ‘Bella’ arrives at the gate with the ‘Storm skins’.  She asks to have the gate opened and the party is reluctant.  She identifies herself as the one that the earlier group had named ‘Bella’ and that if the gate was not opened she would have to destroy it and that would be most unfortunate as the gate was crafted most beautifully.  This wins over the Daglirae, Brunhilda.  They let her in they prepare to enter the palace.  They cross the palace and fight along the way with the minion snake beings of Aderea.  They open the large doors and are almost blinded by the brightness of sunshine as they enter the Hanging Gardens of Xeraneum.  Despite what their senses tell them they are actually inside a great dome built before the city was buried.  Inside it shines with the light of the cloudless skies above them.  There are fields of wheat, birds, rivers of water and lava and almost every kind of plant.  On an elevated platform is the yellow leaved Laurel Tree of the republic strangled with vicious vines.  Peppering the beautiful landcape are the hissing fdorms of the Ophidians and along the far wall is Aderea on a raised platform.  She does not seem to be the ‘Beast of Legend’ described in the Epic of Deniya and Aderea, but a beautiful young Nymphidae with writhing snakes for hair.  Her mouth is pursed in anger and her eyes are closed. There is an unmoving shadowy form next to her chair.  Aderea seems prepared for an attack but when asked why she was aiding a mortal murderer, she explains that if she can aid in the instability of the Republic she would.  In her sweet voice she xplained that her ultimate goal is to see that the land is purged of all the races of men so that nature may prevail again in all its wild beauty so that the child Gaia may smile.   But first all mortals must die.

As if in response, Brunhilda, enlarged by Rasha, races forward with Rasha attached to her leg and Titus at her side.  The rest of the garden erupts into combat.  The charging combatants encounter a giant mirror in ther way but it only slows them down as they change direction to face Aderea.  Titus, as a historian looks into her now open eyes and sees something he recognizes.  Set into each of her empty eye sockets is set a crystal shard of the recently stolen Staff of Transformation.  The legendary staff was the one used to transform Tremyrus’s crew into the first Hogbound.  With her innate abilities and the power of the broken Staff of Transformation, Titus starts to feel himself slow as the stiffening stone begins to take over his flesh.  While he can still move he grapples with Aderea while Rasha Mind Blasts her.  She falls over limp in the arms of Titus the statue.  The other fighters fight for quite some time but the party aided by ‘Bella’ and her ‘storm skins’ finally win the day.  They behead the ‘Beast of Legend’.

Razyz, being a Gaia cleric, talks to the Laurel Tree of the Republic.  He learns how to coax Aderea’s ivy from off and within the tree for it had laced iteself through the core of the tree.  He restores the tree so that it can think again.  The Golden Laurel crown can be used once again without driving the next First Citizen into madness.

They see now that form standing behind Aderea’s chair is that of Coburnicus, the man charged with delivery of the shards as payment for her aid in driving Arathorn insane. The scholar was the first victum of her returned powers.

With Titus resored to flesh, the party returns triuphantly to the Hall of Heroes knowing that they have confronted a legenary creature and defeated her.  They are truly heroes and have restored the honor of the Hall.

 

Facts that may not have come out in game:

Aderea was an unaging former nymph constrained to physcical form by an act of sexual brutality.  She sought help from the childlike form of Gaia to seek vengenace on the mortal world.

The Ophions are the cut hair of Aderea.  Once they are cut they gain independent thought and though some show reverence for their mother, other are just as likely to hate her.  Evil families can be quite dysfunctional.  This is why all the Ophions were missing the last chunk of their tail.  Their natural form never had that piece of tail.

Sextus was a collector of antiques and discovered one silver scroll.  With it he was able to communicate with Aderea.  This was how she was aware that the plan had succeded and that the First Citizen was dead.  As payment for her part in the plan, she had demanded pieces of the Staff of Transformation.  She knew that it would give her the ability to turn people into stone again if inserted them into her eye sockets.  Sextus used a member of his congregation who worked in the Museum of Antiquities to deliver the shards.  However, as her children may not actually listen to Aderea and they craved more body parts, Sextus needed some adventurers to keep his delivery boy alive until he could get to a place in the city whre he could locate the secret passage that would take him to Aderea directly.  She of course needed to test her returned abilities and seeing that the Ophions were part of her and thgerefore immune to her gaze, she used Coburnicus.

Crankul brought the rescued prisoner to Sextus to awaken him.   Sextus was honestly surprised to see Crankul alive.  Sextus took them to the most quiet, well sound insulated room in the Temple of Ronkel.  And when the prisoner, Yule, started to give out too much information, Sextus drew his dagger in preparation to kill the three people in the room.  Thankfully Aderea had left a surprise in Yule.  Anyone who would awaken him from the sleep poison would also awaken the Lemaen serpents within him.

Aderea was using a duplicate crown of ungilded leaves to ‘feel ‘the citizens of Clio.  She knew what was happening in the empire just like a First Citizen.  She removed the duplicate from her own brow when she started planting paranoia and insanity into the broadcast thoughts about 18 months ago.

I am not sure if the original destruction of Xeraneum in 79 FCR was a natural disaster or if the embittered Aderea, who used to be an earth Nymph, afterall , had a hand burying the city that Dinaya had at one point called home under tons of volcanic ash.  What do you think?

I was disappointed that there were no Nymphidae or Hogbound in the last party.  I thought it would have been great to have Aderea banter with another immortal.  Also, any attempt to use her returned powers on any Hogbound, would have no effect whatsoever.  Once transformed through the power of the Staff of Transformation one could not be affected again.  The Hogbound were examples of the power of the staff.

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This was my first attempt at being a Gamemaster in many many years. I had a wonderful time and I want to thank all of my players who made this a memorable experience.  You showed me what incredibly creative people can truly do.  Please feel free contact me via Facebook if you have any further questions regarding my scenario or anything regarding PrinceCon in general.  Again, thank you.

 

Steven H Wolfson

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The Road That Is.

When the crown of gilded Laurel leaves was placed upon First Citizen Scipio’s head at the coronation, he immediately felt thoughts hopes, desires and fears of his citizens.  He had the forgotten road cleared and unburied to be walked upon normally.  The Daglirae from the provinces of Gruumgard flocked to the city of Xeraneum to see the wonders of a bygone age.  They expertly continued the sloppy excavation process and within fourteen years had the entire city explored but still covered.  Xeraneum became the southern capital of the Republic again.  The work force that built the massive stone bridge across the Strait of Grimaldi set them on the deep old foundations of the original ancient bridge.  Some even called it the Bridge of Brunhilda, named after the celebrity who helped discover and liberate the city.  The Nymphidae conclave found near Ga-ur set made a piligrimage to Xeraneum to worship what they called the ‘Sisters’.  They paid tribute to the air spirit known to some as ‘Bella’ and over the next short fifty years their worship near the mouth of the extinct volcanoe brought about the manifestation of shy Aderea, the Spirit of Legend.

-SHW

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