Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Grab the Bell by the Horns

The pillars howled and the veil is breached

Even in their finest moment, the frailties of men are revealed.

I’m here in the tavern, again. Torben Eastlander, scribe to an odd quintuple of warriors, wizards and scoundrels. It is my duty to lay their deeds to parchment. Rift is across the room, cavorting with a well equipped band of adventurers and surely lightening things up, in more ways than one. Erik, Felsmon and Z’alden are no where to be seen. Perhaps they are too tired this night after relaying still more of their time in the Well of Demons. Yet Barrick remains at my table, sloshing more and more ale into my stein, laughing and pointing at a what I think is a female dwarf at another table. I try to concentrate on my writing…

Within the Well of Demons lay the minotaur proving grounds. The black stone walls magically glowed with a terrible light, casting tricky shadows and dread sense. The adventurer’s task was to collect four artifacts and place them in circles at precisely the same time. Through skill and might, they had recovered two: a mask and a blade. A bell and tome remained. Within the chambers were to be found alters and statues to the demon god Baphomet. The righteous Z’alden and Felsmon did try to desecrate these evil figures, yet some magic field of armor prevented this.

As exploration continued, the shape of the proving grounds became clear. A central room was encircled by a hallway whose floor was scraped bare by something massive. No sign of that something was to be found, but an even bigger mystery was the pit that sat in the central chamber. Flanked by alters, the jet black pit held a fearsome magical barrier. A coin. Rift’s toe. No sense would emerge to reveal what lay beyond the icy cold, black boundary. With heightened fear, the adventurers continued on in search of the bell and tome.

Barrick refills my mug and grabs me around the shoulders. He winks across the room to the female dwarf. I feel a little woozy. Continuing on…

Off to the side of the central chamber, a strange room was found discovered. Pools of strange liquid – red, green, blue and yellow. Rift identified the red as a “battle rage” concoction and tried the green, which proved to be potent against poison. Lucky for her, as her taste of the yellow was indeed poison. With the red green antidote, everything was okay and the group filled a flask and then water skin with ten doses. The blue liquid – only water with a slight bouquet of decayed flesh. I crack me up.

Venturing south, the party discovered a set of double doors, behind which could be hear terrible moning. Erik knocked back the doors and the hot blast of damp air was only made worse by the grusome sight of tortured soles, imprisoned within the chamber’s pillars. Surely these were the unlucky contestants in the minotaurs’ proving grounds. As the adventurers advanced, the lost souls shreeked and groned, spitting acid in spiteful anger at the free. But it would get worse. As Rift and Erik moved far into the room, the pillars vibrated with all that hatred, spitting out demons. But it would get worse. In the far reaches of the room Erik could see the bell upon an alter, but it was guarded by a very large, fearsom demonm. What was Erik do – fight or snatch and run?

Ahh, more ale from that darned Barrick. I am not a beer fish. Interrupting my story…

So in what Barrick would soon describe as Erik’s finest moment, Erik hesitated, for a moment. A frailty revealed. To weave through? To give in to fear? To be forever lost in this hellish abiss? With deft moves of a ranger, Erik did his best to run past the enemy and grab the bell, its hornd handle peircing his glove and hand. Running awa Upon escape he gave the bell a ring and it’s magic was let loose – a crimson wave of engery, eliciting a fit of rage to those within its reach. The guardians of the bell, lead by the elemental Barlgura demon snarled at the audacity of the adventurers. But the proud proud warriors were too smart for them. Soon the grasping claws of the pillars held the demons in place as the adventururrs attacked from afar. The bell was theirs.

At this point, Barrick noticed more strange markings on the walls.

Yes! More ale from my good friend Barrick! His grin is as wide as, well, I don’t know. The bosomy dwarf is also grinning. Life is good. Ah, I just remembered…

Within the bell room was yet another wonderful mysterious marking on the wall. My memmemonory has it as:

green wavy lines above four blue dots
red something above four blue dots
green wavy lines above an orange rectangle
a yellow triangle above an orange rectangle

And so now the adventurers returned to the room of four pools to rest.

Oh, I’m done. I don’t know why Barrick is laughing so hard. Did she wink? I must meet that beautiful dwarf.

Comments

DM: Current state of affairs:

Evil magic items retrieved thus far:
The Face of Baphomet is a mask carved from black wood. Anyone who wears the mask gains darkvision.
The Bloodhorn Blade is a +3 magic dagger. When it hits, it pushes a target 3 squares. When the dagger pushes a target, it emits the howling roar of a minotaur.
The Bell of Fury’s Calling is golden and covered with glyphs. Its handle is made of bone, and along its length are sharp bony spikes. When rung, the bell unleashes a burst of crimson energy. The creature that rang the bell and all creatures within 5 squares fly into a fit of rage; they take a –4 penalty to all defenses but gain a +2 bonus to melee attack rolls and damage rolls. These modifiers last until the end of the ringer’s next turn. A quick peek into the bag of holding shows that the bell currently has no clapper.

Currently at 5 encounters, 2 milestones.

Current map of the Well:

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

To Knock or not to Knock…

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

“Good Wizard, Rift, let us search for several minutes and see if we can find some mechanical way in, so as to save your valuable magical components. If we find no hidden lock or secret mechanism, then, as this would seem to be the door to the eastern item, the tome, let us be through it swiftly thanks to your arcane power.” Z’alden begins searching with his best perception all around the door frame and nearby walls for some means to open the door.

OOC: DM, he’ll search this portcullis room from the portcullis itself in the west, along the northern wall, along the eastern wall,and along the 5 eastern most squares of the southern wall. Any hidden keys, levers, or other secret anythings?

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DM: Nothing new is found.
DM: Reminder (if it makes any difference): Knock uses a healing surge…

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

“Rift, I say, let this door be no more an impediment to us!” Z’alden scowls as the door as though his very look could open it.

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Rift pulls out the proper components and reagents and sits quietly in front of the door. She mixes a few ingredients in a small bowl, tendrils of white vapour issue from the bowl. Adding the final component Rift pricks her finger and adds some of her own being to the mixture (Remember to subtract 35gp worth of components and 1 healing surge from Rift). The vapours from the bowl swirl up and, without any breeze, move toward the door, passing through even the smallest cracks.

Rift opens her eyes, “That is all I can do, if the door was locked it should now be unlocked.” Z’alden strides to the door and tries the handle. To his surprise the door does not budge. Neither push, pull, bang nor scowl do anything to open the door. Stepping back Z’alden sighs deeply, “My friends, I fear this door is not locked by any normal means, magic or other. We must find another way to open these doors and explore the other side of this barrier!”

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

Rift puts on the mask and stares at the door. Does she notice anything? She then says “Baphomet” in her best make-the-darn-door-open voice.

Failing that, she draws on her arcane knowledge, for any clues as to how to open such a door.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

Examining the the area and the door, and discussing their thoughts, the party comes to the agreement that powerful magic is preventing the door from being opened. Only through the completion of some sort of ritual or defined steps, will the door open. The door seems to be the final pass to something, probably something special, or at least something special 300 years ago when the magic of the place was created and refined. It also appears that the door has been open fairly recently, from which the party infers that whatever is required to open the door is required again once the door closes.

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“Bahamut’s Breath! But this is vexing. I say that we roll the heads of those making the sounds in the chambers to the far northeast of here. I would rather we ‘talk’ with what had sounded like leaders, but I would not want them to raise an alarm. So, I suggest we head back to the room in which we heard the sounds but did not open the doors and see what we can find there.” Z’alden scowls at the door as though the force of his will could open it.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

“Perhaps we should politely knock and ask kindly if they would be so good as to let us in?”, snarks Erik in his best high-elf accent. “What of the two small chambers – one with the odd ceiling and one with the odd barrier where the trail of blood started right at the entrance? Surely there is a solution to this puzzle.”

Erik lets it be known that he favors attacking that first gnoll room – perhaps from more than one door at a time.

OOC: Erik has 45 of 53 HP, 3 healing surges, all dailies and 2 action points.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

Z’alden does not want to go into the room via 2 doors unless we confirm that it is indeed 1 room. Maybe a sneak peek in the northern most door on the eastern wall, circling around what we think is a single large room?

OOC: 53 of 53 HP, 5 healing surges, 2 dailies, and 0 action points.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

Erik looks deep in thought. Finally he says, “Let’s go back where the trail of blood disappears into the small room. [The 3×2 room.] Perhaps now that we have three of the four items, we will be allowed to do the final challenge. We should all try to enter and hold the items out as proof of our worthiness. If that doesn’t work, then Z’alden can enter the other room with the strange ceiling. There too, he can hold the items as evidence. Perhaps he should take Felsmon or Barrick with him into the room. What do you all think?”

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“Good plan Erik! I am tired of waiting around twiddling our wands.”

Rift strides purposefully down to the 3×2 trail-of-blood room. Does anything happen as we enter the room with the 3 items?

How about the little tiny room? Anything? Anything?!

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You put your horned bell in, you put your horned bell out, you put your horned bell in and you shake it all about…

Walking in or out of either small room, with any combination of your three objects, produces nothing new, or at least nothing your senses detect.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

“Okay, so much for that!”, exclaims Erik. “What about going back to the pools and taking some of that blue liquid and pouring some of it in and over certain things? Maybe start with the pool of blood room. Pour some in. Then try it on a blue floor circle or two. Next sprinkle some on the statues in the blood-altar. Sprinkle some on the double doors we were unable to open. Finally, pour some down into the black pit. Maybe drink some and then walk around to see if anything looks different. Maybe it gives powers to see something – let’s look at the statues, blue circles and double door right after drinking some.”

Grasping at straws here… anything happen?

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Nothing happens when using straws to drink the blue liquid; nor when trying anything else mentioned, other than things getting wet (the water disappears below the black pit dark level).

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

“Vexing beyond belief. By the Breath!” Z’alden turns to Rift after all of these trials. “Rift, could I have the magic dagger? In our encounter to obtain the bell, I could really have used something that would move enemies when I smite them with Bahamut’s blessing of righteous brand.”

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

Rift hands Z’alden the dagger. “Smite away!”

“What else should we try?”

How about this? Someone stay by the locked door to see if anything happens. Meanwhile, the others go into the two weird rooms – the 3×2 and the tiny room. Does the door unlock?

Next, have 4 people stand on the blue circles without holding any of the 3 items. If nothing happens, then have 4 people try pushing on those 4 mysterious markings in the different rooms. Anything?

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As Z’alden takes the dagger from Rift he feels the evil flowing through it, or maybe it is just the evil of the area manifesting itself in the dagger; either way, Z’alden is wary. Conveying this feeling to the others Felsmon replies, “Now that you mention it, I do feel a little strange with this mask on.”

DM: I am not sure how you are going to go about the communications whilst apart, e.g., how to know when to push on the markings simultaneously, or step into the circles, but I will let the details slide, for now.

The bad news is that assuming the party can make all this happen, nothing happens.
The good news is that all this running around, trying this, that and the other thing, takes up quite a bit of time. Luckily nothing happens to wander by as everyone is moving back and forth throughout the Well. Enough time has been used up that by the next time the Seven Pillared Hall is reached, the group will be able to begin the rest needed for 6th level.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

“Rest? Who needs rest?”

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Z’alden says, “Ah, Rift, you High Elves are amazing. But that my blood flowed pure like yours. I need quiet to pray to Bahamut for renewal, and if my prayers are answered, for new powers that will aid you and our friends while harming our enemies. Yes, let us returned to the Seven Pillared Hall for a respite. I am hopeful that the key to this door can be found in one of the unexplored rooms, but I would rather explore those rooms after 6 hours of prayer and meditation.”

Z’alden smiles, “Additionally, while we are there, perhaps we can purchase many water skins to fill with the potions from the potion room.”

OOC: DM how many full water skins could fit in a bag of holding, i.e., what is the volume of water skin and what is the density of the potions?

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Rift is happy to take a rest. During that time, she will meditate quietly on her new powers. “I have decided to master two different spells from the ones I had said before. In my spellbook, I see that I can now master Dimension Door and Invisibility. Since Erik is so good at stealth, I figure that I can aid him even further by making him invisible as well…”

“Also, I grow tired of the jets of blue flame (Burning Hands)... I will learn a new spell – Fire Shroud. Along with dimension door, I will appear in the midst of our foes and scorch all within my reach. Together, we will melt the flesh from our gnoll enemies and take their heads as trophies.” Rift smiles sheepishly – “Whoops, starting to sound like Surina there. Sorry about that.”

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Invisibility! For me? Oh yes, I agree, we should head back to the Seven Pillared Hall to rest immediately!” Erik winks at Rift. He is glad of the possibilities her powers bring. As a child, Erik would study the art of moving through the forest without making a sound. He would stalk animals, to observe and learn their secrets of silent movement. Now he finds himself within a dungeon – a foreign environment, devoid of natural concealment.

Erik thinks back to the ancient teachings of the ancient master Goblin warrior, Tzugrot Moonclaw… “O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands.” Erik has endeavored to apply Moonclaw’s large-group tactics to that of the individual.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

Felsmon would also like the chance to train with his new powers.

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how many full water skins could fit in a bag of holding?
DM: 20 1/2 gallon water skins will max out the weight limit of the bag.
Note: Each skin holds the equivalent of 8 flasks/bottles of potion.

DM: So are you leaving the Well now or exploring more before you go?

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Barrick could also use some more practice on his nascent Inspiring Word power. As Erik was hit on his way to retrieving the bell, Barrick had intended to inspire him with a shout of, “C’mon, Erik, grab the bull by the horns!”, but it came out “C’mon, Erik, grab the bell by the horns!”. This worked out OK, of course, but it could easily have been a disaster.

So, yeah, the seven-pillared hall sounds good.

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

DM: OK, no one has actually made a move toward leaving the Well, but I will assume that is what you are going to do…

As you enter the first room of the Well, the room with the rat pit, the three obtained items, the bell, the mask, and the blade, start to feel odd, almost like they are vibrating. Moving closer to the north hallway, and the exit from the Well, the items all begin to actively resist your movement. As you move closer to the hallway the items resist more strongly; however the resistance is not sufficient to stop or slow your movement.

DM: Does the party continue into the hallway and out of the Well of Demons?

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“My friends, I would hate for these hard-earned items to vanish out of our possession as we seek our rest. Let us pause for moment and consider our options.” Z’alden does not like these feelings from the dagger nor from the bell inside the bag of holding.

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Erik asks, thinking he already knows the answer: “Do you think we can rest down here? Perhaps we can stay in one of the small rooms. Will the apparitions prevent the calmness necessary for proper reflection and advancement?”

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Felsmon leans over to Z’alden and mutters. Z’alden perks up, “Masters Paladin and Ranger, you have hit on the same idea. Let us try to be cozy in the small square room in which only I see the roof waver. It seems as safe as any in this Well hole.” Z’alden turns around and begins heading to that room, just north of the area where the adventurers met the challenging spirits. He pauses, Masters Ranger and Paladin, would you care to lead and I’ll take the rear?” Felsmon gets near Erik and motions to be off.

“Rift, Surina, how about you take the middle position and Barrick and I will form the rear guard.”

OOC: assuming the others concur, do we make it to the room safely and rest without incident by squeezing all 6 into the small room?

Grab the Bell by the Horns
 

DM: You may not squeeze all 6 characters into the small room for 6 hours unless 4 characters squeeze (in the case of an encounter, squeezing grants combat advantage to enemies and forces a -5 to attack rolls until each character can occupy a single square).
Is this still what you wish to do?

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OOC: DM, is there a way to indicate on the map (above) which areas are lit and which aren’t?

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DM: Everything in the Well is magically lit with the exception of the first room with the pit, and the hallways leading from it until either a door or the central area is reached.

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Z’alden says, “Friends, the little room seems a bit too tight for my prayers, Rift’s and Surina’s meditations, and the blades of Erik, Felsmon, and Barrick to be swung in practice. Let us be off to the potion room, and hope that no more Demons come through from their world to ours whilst we rest.”

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Erik interjects: “How about the 3×2 room where the blood disappears? Kinda creepy, but everything here is creepy!”

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“On second thought,” Erik continues, “perhaps this 3×2 room teleports the sacrificed to some other place. Easy disposal. If we stay in there, we might get teleported! That may be good or bad.”

[DM: If the group decides not to stay in this 3×2 room, then Erik will place some kind of ordinary looking small scrap in the room behind the door. He will check for it when they next return.]

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Erik leaves a scrap behind the door in the 3×2 room. He fully expects it to be gone in a few hours – teleported to some gruesome pile of the unlucky and unskilled.

[DM: We’re off to the potion room to rest. How long until the first demon appears? ;-)]

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The party enters the room with the 4 coloured pools of liquid. The doors are shut, Rift positions herself such that she can see both doors and enters her Eladrin trance, nonresponsive, yet alert. The rest of the party sits down with their backs to the walls, weapons laid out in easy reach and begin to relax. The minutes tick by; after an uninterrupted hour, the adventurers begin to think that some sleep might be possible.

Barrick nods off first. Suddenly Barrick awakes and sits up straight, “By my beard, I’ve just had the strangest dream. First a priest, and I think it was a minotaur, was giving me last rights, even though I was standing and fully alive. I turned around for a second and the priest turned into a ghost. Then the ghost asked me what I wanted. Before I could answer three dead prisoners ran through the room, screaming at me to jump. Blast, but the memory is already beginning to fade. If only I had a stiff drink so I would not forget so easily!”

The group discusses the dream for a bit, then returns to individual quiet. Again the minutes tick by. With a slight jolt, Rift returns from her trance, and standing, takes watch whilst the other 5 in the party continue to rest, power returning to the tired bodies.

Six hours pass. Other than one odd dream, nothing of note happens and the party members all stand and stretch, feeling new powers and feats flowing through their veins.
DM: All 6th level abilities are now in play.

Erik returns to the small 3×2 room, opens the door expectantly, and disappointingly find the scrap, right where he left it.

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DM: Everyone now has 1 action point.
Rift needs to roll for the effect of the disease, but that could be a fun way to start the session on Friday…

Grab the Bell by the Horns
rplayer SirEdward

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