Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

What a Way to Go

beast

Ahhhh. I can feel the strength slowly growing within me. These mortal beings are weak, but with enough of them, I can mold myself into my final form. The one that called himself Slitheral – he had power. Power that I now possess. But that next one – the Yuan-Ti – almost not even worth the effort.

Two more…

I am so close to being finished. Then I will throw off these puny elemental bindings. They think that they can control me. That fool Noomar and his slimy snake minions. Would they use me for their pathetic plots? I think not. I am the Beast. No one controls me. Just two more feedings and I will have my full strength. Then let the whole world tremble.

Two more…

But wait, what is this? Noomar dead? Invaders in my chamber? They have stolen one of the prisoners, and left me alone. Come back! Well, I can wait…

Two more…

Yes, someone is coming. More of those foul Yuan-Ti, and Noomar – I thought he was dead. I would eat his brains if he wasn’t protected by an amulet. And what are they dragging through that portal? Some sort of large bat-like creature? What do they hope to accomplish with it? I do hope they are not thinking of feedi…

Ack! Awful! Do not! They are feeding the bat creature to me. Tastes horrible! But I must feed. Must grow stronger. They will pay for their insolence. Fight against the Kengi army? Pah! I care not about the Kengi. I will fight against them all, Kengi, Yuan-Ti, it matters not!

One more…

What is that fool Noomar doing? Why is he burning up the crocodile? Smells bad…

One more…

Now who is this coming into my chamber? Those pathetic fools who call themselves adventurers. One of them does not bear a symbol of Zehir. I shall feast on him. Then, when I am free, I shall feed on Noomar. The smoke is bad – I cannot see clearly. The bat creature was not good. Uurp.

Now I can see – the giant Yuan-Ti – fights the human ranger – that one is good with a bow. I will be glad to absorb him. And the smart one, the female eladrin. Her brains would taste good. She burns the giant Yuan-Ti.

What does the Yuan-Ti say to the dwarf? “I will eat your brains…” Hah! He jests. No, little Yuan-Ti, I will eat yours!

One more…

I must get them closer so I can grab the dragonborn. Curse my puny little tentacles. Noomar, I command you – bring them closer! Ah, look at the fool run over – he thinks he is under his own free will. But I control him. More flames from that wizard. And the sorcerer – she strikes fear straight into their brains – we have something in common, her and I. But what is this, has the dwarf gone mad? He attacks the ranger but misses… Ha, this is a good battle. Why aren’t my tentacles longer?!

Now the dragonborn attacks the ranger. What kind of adventurers are these? Can not they fight a single battle without turning on one another? Ah, but wait, something rises out of the elemental pool – a vortex of fire – this will be good.

Hmmm. The wizard disappeared and reappeared. I must learn that trick. She attacks Noomar – wait, no, do not destroy him – I claim him – arrrrgh – there goes his head… He is no good to me like that. Wizard, you will pay for that.

The dwarf can summon axes from the sky? This is strange. None of the dwarfs that I absorbed could do that – most were afraid of magic. However, this dwarf seems to revel in magic. I will be glad to absorb him also. And that sorcerer – she directs those bolts of chaos straight into the minds of her enemies – she is clever, but not very attractive – no tentacles or eye stalks. Sad.

Now the bridge is on fire. The fire vortex is a joy to behold. Hmm. Could I absorb something like that? Perhaps not. Wait, the dwarf is leaping over the flaming bridge – ah, burnt dwarf? No, too bad.

I see that the magic arch has reappeared. More of the pathetic Yuan-Ti. All wearing symbols. Too bad. I must learn more of this magic arch. Perhaps that is my way of gaining the teleportation ability. I will have to try it out.

The dwarf is indeed brave. He brings all of his enemies to him, and then kills them. Well done. And the human ranger is brave too, to stand in the midst of his so-called friends who so recently attacked him. But he should not have drunk from that dwarven well. I could have told him that, if he would only come closer and take off his symbol of Zehir.

One more…

Now the battle is drawing to a close. They must come to me… The strike leader – she has been teleported by the sorcerer. The dwarf is hurt – he is crawling towards me. Yes, come closer. No, do not drink in the fountain. Do not heal yourself. Ahhh. Too late, why did you do that?

You, strike leader – bring me the farm girl – yes, through the magic portal. No, now the strike leader is dead also.

The dwarf throws his axe and hits himself in the face. Ah, that is what happens when a dwarf meddles with magic. That was funny. Ho ho.

What is this? They are all dead. The adventurers have won. Now how will I feed?

But wait, what are they bringing? The magic portal? Oh joy! They wish to teach me the secrets of its use. Yes, activate the portal. I will go through it and conquer all. But first you must unbind me. I am trapped. Do not force my head through the portal. I do not like that. Wait, you do not want to do that. I must get free. Do not collapse the portal. Do not…

Alas. No more…

Comments

After defeating the Giant Crocodile, the Valers overcame the healed Yuan-Ti Master Noomar and the Yuan-Ti Strike Team, preventing them from completing the Beast. The Electric Firelasher, Noomar’s failed attempt to bring his beloved Thunan back as an undead elemental under his control, received a cold shoulder from Rift and arrows to the heart from Erik (Does an elemental have a heart?)

For these accomplishments, (Crocodile: 1000; Yuan-Ti – Noomar: 1200; Strike Leader Issiel: 1000; great sword-wielding Nathis: 400; Sharp-Eyes-2: 1000; Noomar’s servants-3: 450, and the Electric Firelasher Elemental: 700, Minor quest XP for destroying the Beast 500 = 6250), each player receives 1250 XP. Each player previously had 24,096XP, so everyone now has 25,146 XP. Each character is less than 900 XP per player away from 11th level and the Paragon Tier. Also, everyone receives an action point after the completion of a short rest.

What a Way to Go
 

Tira’s mind is drawn sharply to their victory. It is as though the Amulet is giving her a pat on the back for a job well done. The feelings are warm and supportive, like a caring parent praising a grown child’s accomplishments.

DM: All Amulet powers are fully restored, including any spent daily powers.

Then, her mind is wrenched from the battle to the image of the chain wielding devil Ichyrot. A sense of impending doom fills her heart. The Amulet will stand for nothing less than immediate action to eradicate from the Material Plane the horror that is Ichyrot.

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“Rift, do you still have the sphere with the red beams pointing to the chain devil? We need to go after that, and soon! Although first I feel we must return this farmgirl to her home.” Tira fingers her amulet and mutters, “Soon, soon.”

Tira looks around, “Does anyone remember the way out of here and back to someplace safe? This smoke is starting to do bad things to my hair.”

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“Wait!”, exclaims Erik, “What about the dragon? We must rescue it and rebind its tail.” All the while, Erik thinks of riding the dragon back to Fort Dolor – what an amazing experience that would be. “Felsmon, would you like to carry the dragon’s tail? And while we exit, we should think of a plan to that deals with Snorbaugh. Come, Xeriope, let’s be gone from this vile place to the sunlit earth.”

What a Way to Go
 

Felsmon will carry the tail and also ask if anyone has picked up the ore that we need for the sheild

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Erik asks his companions if anyone knows where to repair the shield. “Do we have to descend back to Warbella?”, asks Erik.

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Rift pats her pockets, then looks in her backpack. “I know I had that sphere around here somewhere… Hmmm.” Then she reaches into the backpack of holding – “Ah ha! Here it is, you little devil, you.”

Does the sphere tell Rift anything interesting?

“My friends, you are worried about Snorbaugh? You forget that our good friend Prescott went out ahead of us. I am quite sure that he and old Snorbaugh are sharing a nice MLT right now – that’s mutton, lettuce, and tomato.”

“Let’s go!”

We head out, carrying the loot, the dragon tail, some of the elemental ore, and the girl.

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I think we need to go back to warbella to repair the sheild

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“Back to Warbella? Well, OK, but my amulet will not be happy, and the last time it was not happy it cut us off from some of its powers.”

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Well, it would be very, very nice to get the shield repaired. But since Tira’s amulet wont like that and we need to rescue the dragon as quickly as possible we should probably just skip the shield.

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Following Rift, Tira and Felsmon settle their difference in time to keep up with the wizard and the others. The party exits through the blackness of the door from the inner sanctum of the temple to the guardian snake room. Xeriope starts to shriek at the form of the giant crocodile, but Erik’s presence quickly calms the farmer’s daughter. Passing quickly through the archway, the cultists bodies and the blood from the bowl have already started to smell.

Now, at the final door of the inner temple, the blackness of the portal to the exterior temple seems even darker than before. As you step onto the stone dais, you remember what it last looked like, with Snorbaugh and Prescott having roast mutton. Now, to your left about 3 staff lengths, you hear the sound of something like logs being sawed. But, the most pervasive sense is of an oily darkness.

Rift remembers stories of an ancient city, Mondinium, whose legendary fog was thicker than burnt umber soup. The unnatural fog in front of the party is thicker than this. Somehow, the darkness that Lacertil would spread has been turned into a cloud. The air is heavy and thick. The light from Erik’s sunrod goes only 3 staff lengths before being enveloped.
Far off down the path to the left, in the direction you recall Aurumendor being chained, a low rumbling laughter can be heard. It is as much joyous as it is mirthful.

DM: What does the party do?

Snorbaugh_and_bloodtrail

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Rift whispers, “Let’s head down towards the sound of that laughter. But quietly!” She cautions Erik to cover the sunrod, to not give away our presence. Then we slowly and cautiously make our way down, presumably towards the lake with the dragon.

Once we’re close, Rift and Erik will stealthily sneak ahead. Rift will use her low-light vision to try to see through the mirk. Can we make out the form of the dragon? Who else is there?

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In a whisper, Erik asks Rift if she can cast an invisibility spell on him. Erik’s two swords are drawn in anticipation.

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Rift summons her mental reserves, whispers some arcane words, and voila! Erik is now invisible!

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Does Erik feel any different? It matters not. He moves forward. Through the darkness. The inky black fog darker than double umber soup served with shavings of angkeg manibles on top. A rare bowl indeed. Rarer still to be eaten. Onward to the joyful laugher, which surely was given out at the wanton torment of the dragon. Erik moves with stealth.

What a Way to Go
 

The Ranger invisibly moves forth in the dark fog. The dark light is so peculiar, Erik can barely see, but he can see dimly. The color is strange to the human’s eyes but not unknown. Erik has seen this before. It is the color one sees after a blow to the head just before dropping to the ground. Just thinking about it is painful. No, the pain is real. It is coming from where the fog touches the skin. The fog burns. Necrotic energy seeps at the Ranger’s life force, as it does the whole party’s. It is small but over time could become a real threat.

DM: All members of the party take 3 hp of necrotic damage.

Erik realizes that he can only see dimly about 2 staff lengths ahead of him without using a fully exposed sunrod. He extends his preternatural senses and realizes that his hearing is unaffected. Unless an enemy moves as stealthily as he does, no one will get the jump on him. A sound rattles him for a split second until he realizes it is only the Paladin Felsmon several staff lengths behind.

The laughter begins again and then a taunting, haughty voice begins speaking just up ahead of the Ranger,
“Ah, Aurumendor! Meesa thinks you bein’ more like an ashen dragon than a gold one now. Good thing you pappa can’t be seein’ you. Heesa was a great warrior. Yousa being pathetic. Meesa be thankin’ you, though. For three hundred years Meesa, the Great General Guano, been waiting to smash up Kengistan and Nerrakis with Zehir’s army. Now, thanks to yousa, the army be returning and the smashin’ be starting. Be holdin’ on just a few more moments Tailless while Meesa suck out everything left in you. Meesa be wanting the Cloud and the Army be all ready for marchin’.”

More laughter. Erik estimates that the voice is about 5 staff lengths directly in front of him, but the fog is too thick to see through. As he has advanced, a ghastly green glow has permeated the oily fog. It is coming from where the laughter originates ahead of him and from off to his right in the distance. It reminds Erik of the glow in the hall to the chambers of Lacertil, Lorvas, and the Troglodyte quarters.

Ugh, that stench of the Troglodytes! That is what the nauseating smell is. But, even worse then before. As though someone had taken all of the Troglodytes the party has encountered, left them out to rot, and then stirred them into a soup with a swamp water base.

The perceptive ranger realizes that the smell is not pervasive but instead is coming from in front of him and off to his right. If his memory serves, the edge of the lake cannot be more than 4 staff lengths away to his right. He is just a bit closer to the edge of the jungle than he had thought, he realizes, as he can hear the lakewater moving with the slight breeze.

He notes in passing that the jungle trees are just two staff lengths to his left. He is almost amused as the idle thought crosses his mind that these tall trees have wood that is too soft to be useful for bows or arrows.

DM: The rest of the party is at least 6 staff lengths behind Erik. The voice was muffled but discernable.

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Rift is trying to remember – where was the lock that was holding the dragon captive? Is it around his neck? Could she reach it (perhaps via teleport) without touching the water?

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Rift ponders for a moment. The last time they saw Aurumendor, he was mostly submerged in the Lake of Dreams. The bright silver collar around his neck had a lock on the left side of his body. A long chain extended from the collar to the black Obelisk covered with serpents and lizard-like folk which Rift now realizes were Troglodytes.

If the Dragon’s head or some other part was above the water, she could conceivably teleport to that part and manipulate the lock. She expects whatever is above the water would be slippery.

At the moment, Rift cannot see the Dragon through the Fog, only a dim green glow in the general direction she recalls the Dragon being in the lake. Studying the glow further, she thinks that is above the Lake and does not seem to be down to the surface. She is fairly confident that the Obelisk’s previous location was about 10 staff lengths ahead of where she is now.

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Erik’s mind starts to race. He wishes that the others were beside him. Two thoughts flash by: run headlong into the fog and bullrush “Meesa”, drop-kicking him into the water; or lie in wait to catch “Meesa” or the troglodites from behind, with surprise, when melee has started with the others. Erik recalls that the water renders creatures unconscious, but would it do it to “Meesa” or is he invulnerable? The adrenaline is really pumping! Erik’s senses are on absolute maximum. He’s ready to charge! Where’s Barrick when you need him? There’s no time. What about attacking from the jungle? No, he must seize the moment. Erik crouches forward like a cat on the hunt, still moving stealthfully but ready to explode into action.

What a Way to Go
 

Rift will quietly get the golden key from whomever currently has it. Then she will very carefully sneak forward until she is close to Erik. She gives Erik a sharp tap on the shoulder, hopefully not stopping his ranger heart with the shock. She motions with a finger to her lips, then points forward into the fog, using the universal signal for “bull rush”. Rift nods her head in encouragement, then gives a shrug which means, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

What a Way to Go
 

Erik blinks. Twice. He could hear Rift approaching and that’s not good. Her foolishness is now jeopardizing his stealthiness. Unfortunately that foolishness is infectious. He motions for her to stay put and wait for the others. Erik then creeps forward…

[DM: When Erik comes into sight of “Meesa”, he will do one of two things. If Meesa is at the water’s edge and no other enemy creatures are apparently close by, Erik will attempt to bull rush Meesa into the water. Erik will take great care so as to not be splashed! If Messa cannot be bull rushed into the water (he’s too far away or something) or if nasty trogs are deemed to be nearby, Erik will move past Meesa and into the trees – staying at least one staff length away so as to not provoke an attack. While moving past, Erik will try to distract and draw Meesa away from the the adventurers. He will do this with taunts… “Your mother was a halfling and your father smelt of apple pie” (vulgarities left out).]

What a Way to Go
 

Erik is able to hear the water and make his way around to bull rush the location of the voice of General Guano. Though the Fog obscures his vision past 2 staff lengths in all directions, and makes the area within 2 staff lengths dim, the Ranger works hard to smash into the creature. In an instant, he is off to push Guano into the Lake. As he barrels in, he realizes that five other disgusting smelling humanoids are off to his left. He could not hear them well enough before over the Lake and the General. Even as he collides with Guano, his sense of smell is overwhelmed by the stench. Just as he gets close enough to see a skull-covered club and the wide-mouth reptilian grinning with razor sharp teeth, covered in a hideous set of scales that are rotting and smell a grotesque stench that extends 2 staff lengths away from the General, his exceptional senses take in the sounds and smells of the others, even as he can only faintly see one troglodyte figure holding a spear. The skin of this spear-wielding reptilian is nearly falling off. Bones and rotting flesh are visible in the weak light. The stench is similar to that of the General’s and extends just as far, assailing the Ranger’s noise and causing a distraction of no small amount to his attack. Even if he couldn’t hear the others, just by smell he could discern their location.
In that instant, the Ranger makes contact with Guano. The chill of an undead creature is unmistakable. Even as he confronts this surprise, Erik remains as calm as always. The creature can be pushed, but there is an element of it that is not completely present. Part of it is spectral. It reminds Erik of the wraiths in corridors of the Labyrinth. How long ago was that? He remembers how a sword would go through them, wounding much less than it would have a living enemy.
Regardless, Guano moves and is shoved into the lake. The undead Troglodyte cries out in surprise and makes a large splash, as its large belly goes underneath the water. It immediately bobs up. In the dim light, Erik still deftly avoids the enchanted water. He is disappointed to can see that Guano is unperturbed by the enchanted lake’s slumbering effect, though he is prone in the water, and has dropped his club.
Off to the east, Erik can see the ashen green glow of a dragon shape extending some 4 staff lengths above the water, with a thin glow extending from the neck another 2 staff lengths. This last vestige of the great gold dragon Aurumendor is completely still, wings drooped, hind legs just below the surface of the water. Behind Aurumendor, the massive form of the Obelisk looms like a darkness that makes the obscuring Fog seem bright. The Obelisk appears to span at least 3 staff lengths in width. It is unclear how high it goes. Previously, it was only 1 staff length wide, and perhaps two or three tall, and seemed small next to the form of the dragon when the Valers first encountered it.
Further back, Barrick, Rift, and Tira can each see clearly in the dim light that surrounds them out 2 staff lengths in all directions, but their vision is obscured past that distance. Like his Ranger comrade-in-arms, Felsmon is in dim light. As Erik pushes the General into the water, all four can hear the grunts and the splash. All four can see the dim green glow of the combined Obelisk and Dragon and recall the general shape of the lake shore and jungle.

DM: Position of PCs, aside from Erik, is approximate to within 2 squares. Any PC can adjust their current position within that constraint. All PCs can take a full set of actions.

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Environs of the Lake of Slumbers

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The Rise of Guano
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DM: Rift cannot see Erik, Guano, or any of the enemies. She can smell their general location.

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Though the stench of the undead is utterly repellant, Erik’s mind calms and focuses in anticipation of the battle that has just begun. Such enemies are worthy. They make one stronger. With that, Erik strikes at the prone General Guano after quarrying him (Ranger’s “Hit and Run”, 16 v. AC, 1d87 + 1d6). The attack then allows Erik to move as if the first staff length was a shift. Backing up, he moves toward Rift’s current location, to her southeast. As he moves back, he shouts for all his comrades to hear… “Troglodytes! Five or six. Undead!”

[DM: Did Erik get any sense that the dragon Aurumendor was in immediate danger of death, perhaps by some ritual that General Guano was performing or damage that the obelisk was delivering?]

What a Way to Go
 

Being so close to the prone Guano, despite the horrific stench, Erik just manages to strike true and avoid the splash as Guano moves to deflect the blow. Erik can see a ghastly green ichor flow from the undead Troglodyte’s wound.

Even as he moves, the Ranger steals a quick glance at the suspended form of the dragon. Aurumendor remains obscured by the fog, just a green outline. Only the Ranger’s superior hearing and his sense of nature that tells him the mighty Wyrm is very near death, but from what source, a more intent study of the magical energies would be necessary. At a distance, Erik wonders if even Rift’s abilities could discern anything, but the Ranger knows so little about these things.

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The Ranger in motion
Lake_of_Dreams_rd2z
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A golden glow surrounds the Dragonborn Paladin. In fury, he moves as rapidly as possible past the Rift (not seeing Erik) and charges at the Trogolodyte undead. The radiance from his sword cuts through the Fog, weakening it.

DM: All squares are now dim light but heavily obscured. Everyone can see the limp form of the dragon, even if only dimly.

Despite the incredible stench that extends out at least 2 staff lengths from his enemies, Felsmon’s swings his radiant sword and rips off the head of the 2nd Spear wielding troglodyte, whose limp body collapses to the ground.

The Paladin can see another spearwielder to his northeast and three other troglodytes with rotting flesh and exposed bones. Their flesh seems as though it is burning, perhaps from some acid. In the dim light, the Dragonborn is at a disadvantage but his resolve is no less firm.

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After the Paladin’s charge

Lake_of_Dreams_rd2_2

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Barrick and Tira contemplate how to react to the dying dragon, the awful stench, and the several Troglodyte undead. Though they try to focus, each is distracted.

Tira’s mind keeps returning the form of the chain devil Ichyrot. She feels a sense of urgency to press on. She can almost hear a voice, or a dream of a male voice,
“Dearest, time is dear. He is winning.”

Barrick, too, is distracted, but in a different way. The form of the Obelisk draws his attention. The Key of Bonderstrong radiates heat against his chest, even through his mighty armor. He dimly hears a female voice, not unlike that of Warbella,
“Valiant dwarven warrior, you can fell the horror.”

Barrick has the distinct sense, guided by the voice of the Key, that if were next to the Obelisk he could discern how the Key might be used to topple the structure.

What a Way to Go
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