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October 22, 1998

Defenders Adventure #41: The Island of Dr. Piggy Moreau

Party Roster:

Felix, 5th level fighter, 53 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 5th level fighter, 50 hp, played by Joel
Kodo, 3rd level woodsman, 36 hp, played by Rob
Morgan, 5th level fighter, 27 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 6th level druid, 25 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 4th level mage, 21 hp, NPC
Alduin, 4th level thief, 15 hp, played by Vic
Nakumanu, 2nd level fighter, 14 hp, henchman of Felix
Kain, 1st level cleric, 6 hp, played by Jeff

The party had just been left wandering confusedly about the tunnels. We had just defeated three pairs of crystal golems. Sadly, the hoped for exit was not beyond the door, and we continued wandering around. We discovered a rubble filled room, with a weird natural tunnel coming out of it. We had some hopes that it might lead out, but of course, this being our favorite compound, things just got even more bizarre.

We went down the tunnel, Balinor in the lead due to some nice healing on him. Suddenly, Alduin noticed a rumbling sound. It became much louder. We turned to run…

And a huge worm came whipping up the tunnel, opened its mouth and swallowed Balinor whole. Felix, Kodo, Morgan, and Nakumanu turned to fight the creature. Morgan yelled “Thunderstruck” and pounded it, and the fighters began ripping at it. The creature was enraged with Morgan and tried to kill him. Take a wild guess what happened.

Nakumanu discovered while swinging the magic falchion that it was +3 vs. regenerating creatures, which the worm was.

Even more enraged, it was beaten severely by the fighters, and died just before trying to take a final swipe at Morgan (having taken over 200 points of damage). Tearing at the front, Felix pulled out a sodden and paralyzed Balinor, who amazingly was still conscious and recovered quickly.

Then we made a strange discovery—the back of the worm had been damaged by several lightning scars, and the worm was injured before it ever attacked us. Donald identified it as a mottled worm, which is at least semi-aquatic.

Who was this lightning firing creature, and why would it try to kill a mottled worm?

We decided not to finish exploring the tunnel, fearing that the creature had come from down below. We checked out a number of other possibilities, destroying 6 more crystal golems in the process. We found a room full of hideous snakes, that suddenly activated when we opened the door. We shut the door rapidly. Alduin snuck through the stirge nest and found another entrance to the snake room there. In the room were murals depicting horrors inflicted on humanoids by dark beings.

Maryanne, the woman we rescued, had by this time slipped into a state of constant shock and distraction.

We found another passage that completely infuriated us by leading back to the zombie room, through the other door we hadn’t yet checked out. However, tracking revealed that someone had passed through the door from the temple complex toward the orcs, bleeding, sometime about a week earlier.

We found another passage leading to an underground fungal forest. There we established relations with the leader of a group of giant toads (ala Ring of Toad Control).

The toad told us that the fog monsters (we identified them from the description) were in the passage leading out of the fungal forest (not the one we came down). They were behind a strange spiked metal gate that would actually attack those who approached.

There was a second set of three thrones much like the first set, but a floor below them. In the center throne was a boar’s head amulet. The thrones and the pillars next to them were magical.

We headed back up and into the rubble room. Searching about we discovered a torn once-magic cloak, and a magic user scroll of Hold Person and Fireball in its pocket. There were weird swirling black patterns in it reminiscent of the mosaic in one of the rooms with the red dots on the wall. In addition there were lightning scars on the walls of the room.

Down the tunnel of the worm was a large cavern with several murky pools. This gave us some ideas about waterbreathing our way out. There was also a natural diamond resting on a stalagmite. Felix drooled at it, but we didn’t touch it.

Gambling a bit, we checked out the thrones. After some experiments, we eventually determined that 5 of 6 of them gave the user a scrying image of a particular room in the complex—the rubble room, the flaming lizard room, the spiky gate room, the mosaic room, and one other.

We decided to send a message to the ship and hope that it would remain a few more days, or at least return in a month or two, telling them that the mission had essentially been accomplished and we were still alive.

Kain cast Light on a stone, and we chucked it down the stairs. Most of the stirges went flying at it, and Donald cast Sleep at most of the rest, and Quentin’s crow Morris escaped through the top of the volcano (we presume the stirge exit) with our message. Hopefully he would find the ship. Realizing that we couldn’t rely on it, we looked desperately for a way out.

Then we searched the displacer beast room, and found that the mother had been sitting on a bedding made out of about fifty of the ripped swirling cloaks. We also found three serviceable ones, which were actually magical, and the swirling patterns actually moved.

Quentin took the risk this time, wearing the robe and pressing his hands against the red dots in the zombie room. And a tunnel opened in the wall, leading to a small room. The portal closed after five minutes. It was determined that on the other side there was a black square, and the cloak did not appear to let anyone back through it. However it could be opened seemingly limitlessly. We thought that perhaps Mr. Pig had been trying to build these robes, and that they were imperfect or flawed. So we decided to make only minimal use of the robes.

We went to the white dots in a room in the far temple complex, and opened that one. On the other side were the gorillas! One hurled a boulder at Quentin and hit him, but Quentin finished his Speak with Animals and talked to them. They said they would not attack, but that we could not pass through their lair because of the young ones, and how the last humans they had let pass through had killed many of them. We understood, but were rather frustrated. They did say that we could pass through at the beginning of the rainy season when their young were away. We could not determine if the portal was two-way.

We checked out the final portal, in the mosaic room, which was right next to the zombie room. This one opened out into the Trail of the Dead, as Alduin quickly verified, on the convenient swamp side. We had a way out!

However, that portal was not two-way.

So, we figured we had won. Kaal Na Ka would have difficulty in setting up his operation, but were had recovered great treasure and really mangled his operation. And we had rescued Maryanne….

Where was Maryanne?

We look around. She was gone. We all went cold. Was she Kaal Na Ka…?

Chester traced her right up to red dots in the zombie room. We decided to charge after her, promising to return within nine hours, and leaving behind Alduin, Nakumanu, and Kain with two of the three cloaks, who would open it every two hours.

We charged through, and almost immediately hit another long corridor. After an hour and fifteen minutes of walking, we came to a T-intersection. To the right was a door that Chester refused to go near, since it scared him. It was not displacer beasts.

We went left and soon came to another door. Kodo crashed into it, but it didn’t open. We realized it was Wizard Locked. Felix charged, and thanks to the Shield of the Stallion smashed the door down!

It was a large room, about a hundred feet long. Nearest to us were six of the weird greater zombie beings with the _Slow_ poison. Behind them were two huge pigs, and behind them, with a section of deck plating partially shielding him, was Kaal Na Ka. Mirror Imaged into three forms.

Kaal Na Ka’s held spell went off, and Felix, Morgan, Quentin, and Kodo were slowed. Fortunately, Balinor and Donald had not been in view of the door, and thus were not affected. Balinor held his ground, waiting for a good moment to charge across, while Donald pulled out the scroll of Fireball/ Hold Person.

Felix, Kodo, and Morgan moved forward to engage the zombies. Quentin began a Dispel Magic. Donald began casting Hold Person.

Unfortunately, Felix was triple teamed, and luck was on the fat man’s side. Soon Felix and Kodo were moving like slugs, and only the ever incredible Morgan was still moving at half speed. Felix and Kodo slew two in their initial shots, then became nearly irrelevant.

Suddenly a dagger sank into Balinor’s back, and he turned around to face Maryanne, apparently unarmed. However the damage was cosmetic and Balinor roared, bashing her twice, though she did not fall.

Morgan sliced one of the zombies up, but then Kaal Na Ka’s Lightning Bolt went off, slamming the party… or so he thought. Fortunately, we had anticipated the contingency and Morgan had given Thunderstruck to Quentin, who deliberately sucked down the bolt in his protection! Two of the zombies were damaged by the blast, and Felix went down bleeding, but Kodo and Morgan were unaffected.

Donald stepped out and threw the Hold Person at the mirror images, but unfortunately there was no effect. Maryanne, realizing she couldn’t even hurt the enraged Balinor due to weapon length problems, turned and tried to run. However, she had never seen Balinor sprint, and was terrified to see him dash after her, catch her, and knock her down bleeding. Now Maiden Basher was appropriately named. Growling, Balinor returned to help the combat.

Donald and Kaal Na Ka threw Magic Missiles at each other, but the fat man had four missiles, slamming the durable Donald, who was still standing.

Balinor ran forward to engage one of the zombies, and then Quentin Dispelled the Slow effect, bringing Morgan and Kodo back up near normality, though Morgan was still Slowed by the zombie effect, and Kodo was double slowed. Quentin was now unSlowed.

Donald threw the Fireball into the room, killing one of the pigs and injuring the other, and hurting Kaal Na Ka. However, he dodged the worst of it.

Balinor smashed a zombie, but was struck and Slowed by it. Quentin threw a Slow Poison, bringing Balinor back up to normal speed, and he trashed it. Kaal Na Ka threw another Magic Missile, sending two at each of Balinor and Donald, knocking Balinor to his knees and sending Donald to the ground. Quentin began a Cure Serious on Donald.

Balinor roared again and dashed across the room, running straight at Kaal Na Ka. The fat mage was dumping potions down his throat which appeared to be healing him, but Balinor caught him slightly unprepared and smashed him with Maiden Basher. Then Kaal Na Ka’s staff swung out. With a flash, Balinor flew back, blood flying everywhere as he collapsed onto the ground.

Donald stood up thanks to Quentin’s Cure Serious and Cure Light, and threw a Sleep catching the pig Balinor had been running past. Kodo took down the final zombie and began to move, but Kaal Na Ka threw a Sleep and caught Kodo, who fell snoozing in the middle of the room. Donald’s final spell, a Web, caught Kaal Na Ka partially, and Morgan shot him with an arrow. He noted that it appeared to have no effect on the fat wizard.

Once again it was up to Quentin to save the day. Donald ran to see if Balinor was still alive, Morgan drew Thunderstruck from Quentin’s belt, and together they advanced on Mr. Pig. Quentin cast a Flame Blade and lit the Web, catching the wizard, who was finally out of potions and was starting to look somewhat beaten up. There was no time to wake Kodo, and Donald began a desperate attempt to heal Balinor, who was on the edge of death. If the battle could be won, everyone might survive…

Kaal Na Ka threw a Charm spell at Donald, but it failed.

Morgan and Quentin advanced on the wizard. Kaal Na Ka swung his staff, missing Morgan. Quentin hit him with the Flame Blade and Morgan yelled, “Thunderstruck!” and slammed the wizard, who was definitely affected. He appeared to crumble, and suddenly a huge boar was in front of us, much larger than any other boar we had ever seen. Morgan and Quentin gasped with dismay. Suddenly he was very difficult to affect (AC 0) and began to kill Quentin with his claws. He ripped at the druid, doing significant damage and wounding him. Morgan and Quentin attacked back, Morgan hitting but Quentin having a very difficult time injuring the boar. The creature was slow, and Quentin hit it, as did Morgan for a second time. It looked injured, but it was not looking good as Quentin got slammed again. Finally Quentin was missed, but neither of the two could injure the boar. Quentin got hit a third time and was falling dangerously low. Finally, the enraged druid whipped up the Rod of Thorns, and said, “To hell with this!” Before the boar could react, Quentin trapped him in the Wall of Thorns, doing massive grinding damage.

The boar didn’t die! He was extremely beat up, but he ran through the thorns and tore straight at Quentin, missing. Quentin struck back, but missed, and backed away. The creature tried to run at him.

Morgan, face grim, slammed him full force with the longsword, and Kaal Na Ka finally keeled over.

Quentin Cured Felix, and saved him with healing. Kodo eventually woke up. Donald tried to save Balinor and did, but realized he was likely to sustain permanent damage. He pulled out Keoghtarn’s ointment from Balinor’s pack and spread it on the fallen warrior, preventing all permanent damage, thankfully.

Maryanne had bled to death in the meantime.

Extremely beaten (I don’t think anyone but Morgan had double digit hp) we returned to Kain and the others. Kaal Na Ka’s robe was two-way, and we explored the remainder of the area with Quentin Dispelling the Wizard Locked door at the back.

And we hit the motherload.

Forget what we found last time. This just blew us away. Before treasure, a quick resolution.

We found Kaal Na Ka’s journal. His real name was Tekmaas (I think—someone correct me). His story was bizarre and intriguing.

Kaal Na Ka was a Cromwellian human with extremely bad handwriting. He contracted lycanthropy at the hands of some sort of “Greater Lycanthrope,” a fact it appears he was proud of. He was certainly quite intelligent and fascinated by research of various morphing effects. Some of you out there MAY have heard of his employer: Skylltor Rhune.

For those of you who do not know, Skylltor is a powerful wizard living in the most heavily populated city in Cromwell, Melbonia. He has been known for a love of theatre and other civilized things, but many of his operations seem quite shady.

Skylltor contracted the wizard to work on displacement, and was impressed by his abilities, but worried by his problems with the law. There was one particular note in which Skylltor angrily describes some sort of 160,000 gp bill from Wilbar’s Fish and Critters he was presented with. Finally, the whole situation was unacceptable to Skylltor and he removed the research grant.

We found an interesting letter from Skylltor, telling him that he was shut down, and that he would settle the accounts with Wilbar.

Bitter and perhaps insane, Kaal Na Ka embezzled 60,000 gp from Skylltor, including all of the lab gear he had been provided, and fled, apparently looking for somewhere to gain the wealth to continue his research. He had heard of the Kara-kara and knew about the fog monsters, who had been living in a section of the island. They have a sort of society, and Kaal Na Ka charmed the key fog creatures and took over. He was always worried about them, and sent them on missions far away, hoping to keep them occupied and gain wealth, but wanting them far away from him.

The three people we had killed earlier were clearly pirates from the Northern Isles, based on the insignia on their arms.

Kaal Na Ka had sustained damage when he had been exploring the temple complex, and suddenly ran into the worm. He drove it off with Lightning Bolts but was injured in the fighting.

He discovered three original two-way cloaks, though we only found two. He had been attempting to copy them, but had only succeeded in the inferior one-way cloaks we initially found. When we burst in, he thought we might be “Skylltor’s goons” and were here to slay him. It appears that Kaal Na Ka’s biggest fear was for Skylltor to track him down. He believed that the wizard would not be interested in spending the time to go to such a remote place for “a mere 60,000 gp” and so felt fairly secure.

Maryanne was his daughter, and the only one who wasn’t charmed, and actually served him for the fun of it. When Maryanne informed him that we were not Skylltor’s men he assumed he could wipe us all out.

Finally, in fear of Skylltor gaining anything from his death, Kaal Na Ka burned and destroyed all of his research, relying on his memory to carry him through.

Astounded, we finished reading and took the journal and as much as we could carry of the treasure horde to the boat and sailed away. We are not yet sure how to return, but there is so much treasure it seems like a waste not to.

As to the treasure we DID get:

Falchion +1/+3 vs. regenerating creatures
Short Sword +2
Dagger +2
Medium Shield +1
Mace +1
Felcon Walking Stick
Elf mage’s spellbook including: Hold Portal, Continual Darkness, Detect Invisibility,
ESP, Mirror Image, Dispel Magic, Slow, Invisibility 10’ Radius
Bag of Holding 600/2000
Scroll of Dispel Evil and Neutralize Poison
Scroll of Flamestrike and Commune (both of these are Nevronian)
Staff of Cracking (Kaal Na Ka’s staff)
Ring +2/ Dagger +2 of Concealment (it can switch forms instantly)
Kaal Na Ka’s cloak
(15) Arrows +3
Plate Mail +2
Leather +2
(2) Boar’s Head Amulets (+3 protection, but only for lycanthrope wearers)
Kaal Na Ka’s spellbook, which had 4th level spells in it (and maybe even a 5th?)
Elven Chain Mail
Suit of Tugutan Commander Full Plate armor of quality (+1) and matching shield
Gold and platinum platter, from Skylltor’s house
Quality light crossbow +1
Lots of diamond jewelry
Kegs of spices
Gold precise hourglass
Gold scroll cases
Black Falcon statue
About 1000 platinum pieces
And all sorts of gold and platinum trinkets

Of course, much of this stuff has been stolen, and some is just useless to us. We will likely be returning a great deal of the stuff (hoping for some recognition of our existence and maybe making some friends).

There is a small chance that Quentin contracted lycanthropy from the hits, and so we will head to Carse first to make sure he is alright. Then we’ll head to Restenford for a salvage tax fest. And next time, training!

We FINALLY got off the island!


October 15, 1998

Defenders Summary #40: Interior Decorator from the Lower Planes

Party Roster:

Felix, 5th level fighter, 53 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 5th level fighter, 50 hp, played by Joel
Kodo, 3rd level woodsman, 36 hp, played by Rob
Morgan, 5th level fighter, 27 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 6th level druid, 25 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 4th level mage, 21 hp, NPC
Alduin, 4th level thief, 15 hp, played by Vic
Nakumanu, 2nd level fighter, 14 hp, henchman of Felix
Kain, 1st level cleric, 6 hp, played by Jeff

Our party had just trashed a trio of bad guys, an elven fighter/mage or thief/mage, a human cleric of the Queen of Grottos, and a human warrior.

We became un_Slowed_ and did some exploring. We still had an hour and a half of buffer time for the orc forces to swing around the mountain and cut us off. We intended to leave within a half hour or so to be completely safe (since neither the orcs nor the Defenders were crazy enough to wander around the Trail of the Dead at night).

The rooms coming off the weird lit room were quarters for the trio. In one was an insulting and highly intelligent, and bloodthirsty crow. It appeared to be the pet of the mage. Talking to it revealed that all three had been charmed by the fat guy (Piggy). He was apparently a powerful wizard of some sort. The fact that the elf had been charmed was rather disturbing, given elven resistance to charm effects.

The cleric’s room was glyphed, which Felix set off, and was paralyzed. He recovered a few minutes later.

We figured that we had bypassed most of the obstacles, and so we searched around. We picked up the mage’s spellbook! Indeed, it had Invisibility 10’ Radius and Slow, as well as many others, notably ESP!

Apparently the fat guy doesn’t live in this area, but instead comes in through the “inky black room.” We identified this as the same inky black room we had seen earlier, and so recognized another connection to the crystal room.

Through the final door was a room with weird light. The light rotated colors through the rainbow. We thought this might have some effect depending upon the color. There were two white doors in the room. Felix walked in, unharmed, during green. He tried the right door—the paralyzation effect failed, for once!

The party trekked down the corridor, leaving the other door for later. We came out into a weird lab room that had been trashed. Clearly our prey had destroyed the place on his way out, and had run about smashing everything and taking valuables.

There was a huge bronze throne in the center of the room, just like the one outside. Felix sat in it, and instantly was projected in the throne room. He got a terrifying glimpse—the orcs had reconstructed the rope bridge (probably with the aid of a Fly spell from a shaman) and had swarmed the area. They were attempting to destroy the crystal room, apparently with picks. The two orcs we had left behind were dead. Hundreds of orcs were waiting on the platform for us to come out!

Suddenly, Felix was Dispelled and returned back to us, presumably by a shaman.

Well, there were several months of food packed in the crates…

We decided to hope that there was another way out. Presumably Mr. Pig had escaped somehow!

We searched the area, and found a cowering woman in a bedroom. Her name was Maryanne, and she was the daughter of a merchant on Ventris Isle. She had been captured on a ship carrying her to Carse. She said that the Pig Guy had a black beard and was human, though he spoke in accented Common (we heard him say something in human earlier, which was interesting). He had been oddly kind to her, which made her suspect even worse. He had poked in a few hours earlier and told her to stay, and locked the door. There was a heated bathtub in the area, which was an interesting convenience.

We told her that we were “the good guys” and that we had deposed Kaal Na Ka (what the Pig Guy called himself) and were trying to bust out. She looked rather overwhelmed, but came along. We were picking up a real menagerie—two displacer beasts, an orc prisoner and now a human woman…

In any case, we had to get out. We traveled down a path for about 45 minutes, before discovering the back of a secret door. Inside was a weird room with boxes. We began to go inside, when Balinor, at the back of the party, was grabbed violently from behind. Another displacer beast! Defending three cubs.

Quentin yelled for it to put Balinor down, but it was clearly charmed. In some sense it wanted us to go away, and it was allowed three minutes to wait for optimal attack conditions, and it tried to get us to go away, but couldn’t release Balinor. It also mentioned that Mr. Pig had escaped through a portal in the wall, which could only be opened with something he had. In other words, we were in trouble.

Of course, we didn’t know this, and suddenly, it told us it had to attack.

It pounced at Morgan, raking him with its claws and strangling the completely disoriented Balinor.

Kodo, Morgan, and Felix went at it with swords and axes. Morgan’s sword glanced off Balinor at one point, who was still struggling unsuccessfully to get loose of the tentacles. They slashed it, but it completely took down Morgan. Quentin’s Cure saved Morgan, and the creature was destroyed, dropping the gasping Balinor.

The poor cubs wouldn’t leave the room, and would soon starve to death, but there was nothing we could do.

There was more stuff here as well, and several exits. We opened one, saw about a dozen zombies, and quickly shut it again. Hmmm.

Balinor was bloodthirsty, and so we got ready for them. We opened the door… and they sprinted at us. They weren’t zombies!

Felix tried to slam the door, but they were too fast, and attacked. Balinor and Felix went at them, hacking and taking the first two down, though Balinor’s weapons were clearly less effective. In addition, they were too powerful for Kain to Turn easily.

In addition, when they hit, they Slow you, and this can be LAYERED.

Pretty soon, both Balinor and Felix were moving at half-speed. After Felix nearly destroyed his magic sword, and threw it into the room besides, he backed off and Kodo came in (who was still down strength from the shadows). Within moments, Kodo was TRIPLE SLOWED (moving at 1/8 speed). Morgan shot one of the “zombies,” and shot Balinor, who growled a warning. When Alduin shot Felix, they discarded the bows and drew swords.

Finally, the bleeding Balinor and Kodo took down the last zombies.

Well, we are always interested in new and exciting forms of undead. Got another one for you, Gram!

In another room nearby, there was weird painted red circle on the wall, and a swirling mosaic on the floor. We figured that this did something, if you knew what the heck you were doing.

In the zombie room was another one of the circles, which had tracks leading up to it. The room was, incidentally, some sort of smashed up zombie lab.

Beaten up, Slowed, Strength drained, tired, and once level-drained, we decided to rest.

A quick check through the throne revealed that the orcs had given up trying to get through the crystal room (they had used their slaves to do it—about 50 were dead). A few hundred were swarming on the platform where the conductor had been, waiting to kill us.

We decided not to go that way, unless we absolutely had to. The Wall of Thorns from the staff might kill all of those, but it would still be quite ugly—survival would not be likely. Still, we had hopes that the Ancient Ones had a way out of here.

We camped, and healed up somewhat. Kodo’s and Donald’s strength had returned, and everyone was no longer Slowed. Spells were regained. We found a magic walking stick of the God of Travelers, Felcon, in the drawer of the mage’s room. Kain took the crow, and we went at the other white door in the color room. Again, Felix resisted paralysis, and we found a treasure horde. There was gold, gems, and spices. We couldn’t carry most of it, and only took the stuff with the best weight to gold piece ratio, and so left about 15,000 gp worth of stuff behind. In addition, we scooped up a heavy magic bag.

We explored the complex further (going through the zombie room doors), discovering an entirely new set of tunnels. An hour’s travel took us a considerable distance away, and we checked out the new place. We saw about 50 bronzewood doors, most of them smashed in this area.

We checked the alcoves for gelatinous cubes, but found none. A giant snake tried to bite Balinor, but Quentin calmed it down. It pointed out that there were holes to the surface through which it went to get frogs. How long were the holes? Quentin’s weasels determined the shortest to be about 250 feet long, or about 40 Stoneshapes to freedom. If we were completely trapped, that could work. Of course, the boat would leave without us before we finished.

We moved on, and explored more areas, discovering a weird grinning statue, mocking us. It had two glowing red gems for eyes. We didn’t take them.

We opened one door to discover a weird little skeleton statue thing in the center of the room. We shut the door and walked away.

Finally, this one takes the cake:

We opened one door, and a blast of heat hit us. Inside were a bunch of little fire creature things dancing around, and a weird lizard guy, on fire, working at an anvil at the edge of a pool of lava. He looked up at us.

We shut the door.

Deciding that maybe it could help us get out, Quentin re-opened the door and tried to talk to it. It pointed at us and appeared to tell us to go away.

We finally found some stairs up, that circled around the steam of the pit and presumably went up to the top of the volcano (by this time we suspected that we were in the OTHER volcano and had crossed entirely under the Trail of the Dead). A Continual Light revealed DOZENS of stirges on the ceiling. When they dive bombed, Morgan threw the light away up the stairs, and we backed off.

We tried another door, and discovered a bizarre stuffed bug zoo. There was a giant caterpillar, ant, and all sorts of creatures, completely freaking Morgan out.

By this time we were so confused that we weren’t even bothered by it.

What the heck was WRONG with this island?

We went through the bug room, and nearly walked into the entire stirge nest.

We backed up, and camped for an hour, waiting for nightfall for the stirges to leave, as they must if they want food.

They did, in fact, and we went up the stairs.

They went quite a ways up, but not to the top, and ended in another door in the volcano wall. Unbelievably, the next room managed to weird us out even further.

There was a strobe light.

Emanating from another huge gem in the center of the room was a flickering strobe light with all sorts of weird colors. Continual Light had no effect on the room. Apparently, the Ancient Ones liked disco.

Of course, the next room was even more bizarre. It was a weird room with beads everywhere, including hanging from strings. Apparently they were really into 60s stuff too. Balinor and Alduin got the sense that something else was in the room with them, but nothing happened. We moved on.

Next was a scroll library—three of them were magical. Unfortunately, they were so old that all three crumbled when Quentin tried to take them. We didn’t touch the rest.

Finally, we came to a stairway leading up, with three landings. On each was a pair of crystal statues—crabs, birds, and frogs.

They were, of course, crystal golems. They had a grappling attack, and blew up when they were killed, and were immune to non-magic weapons. We made short work of them.

That’s where we stopped, camping and healing. Hopefully next time we’ll get off this island! But perhaps to return—it’s so messed up!

The time deadline to escape is about three days.


Log Supplement QQ: QQ

On an interesting note, I should add that the collapse rate is way down recently.

* 1.48 collapses/ game
* 0.35 fatalities/ game
* 0.28 permanent damage / game

59 collapses, 14 fatalities, 11 instances of permanent damage.
Log Supplement QQ: QQ

Here's an odd stat I thought I'd share:

There have been 24 members of the Defenders. If we establish four outcomes:

1. Active
2. Retired by choice
3. Retired by damage
4. Permanently slain

Here are the results:

Of those 24 reaching level 1, 12/24 have come to a bad end (3 or 4)

Of those 12 reaching level 2, 1/12 have come to a bad end.

The 10 reaching level 3 and above have all come out well...

October 08, 1998

Defenders Adventure #39: Feline Loyalty

Party Roster:

Felix, 5th level fighter, 53 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 5th level fighter, 50 hp, played by Joel
Kodo, 3rd level woodsman, 36 hp, played by Rob
Morgan, 5th level fighter, 27 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 6th level druid, 25 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 4th level mage, 21 hp, NPC
Alduin, 4th level thief, 15 hp, played by Vic
Kain, 1st level cleric, 6 hp, played by Jeff

Special Thanks to Chester, Quentin’s bobcat, and Lenore and Morris, Quentin’s crows

When we last left the Defender saga, the party was planning to take out some orcs. A shaman and 8 of his servants were in a room through which we intended to go. First, we decided to finish exploring, and we moved through the dark room with the pits—in one was 3 Kara-kara, but they were blue instead of green, and were cowering, starving in the corner. In the other were some bones.

Ignoring them, we noted two exits. One, we suspected led back into the shaman room. The other led somewhere close to the ceremony. To confirm, we opened up the first door a crack. Unfortunately, the perceptive shaman noticed the movement, and motioned for us, who he thought were servants (the door wasn’t fully opened yet), to come in.

Oh well. Donald began a Sleep spell, while Balinor, Kain, and Quentin rushed around to block their escape from the other side. Morgan continued to slowly open the door.

The Sleep spell went off, catching all of the servants. We threw the door open and charged. Unfazed, the shaman yelled something and drew his mace. Before we could reach him, one of the statues from the previous room burst through the door. Another quickly followed, and soon we couldn’t even get a shot at him. Felix charged the first golem, and stabbed it—but his magic sword got stuck in the creature.

Kodo went to work on another with normal axes, which also got stuck. The thing grabbed Kodo and began to headbutt him. Morgan sliced at one with Thunderstruck, yelling the name and blowing the thing up! He turned to kill another one along with Kodo. Morgan lost Thunderstruck to a golem, but yanked it out. Felix had meanwhile finished off his golem and was moving toward the last one. Then the shaman’s Hold went off, catching Felix and Kodo.

Alduin had his bow out, but couldn’t do much to help, and Donald was preparing to cast a spell. Morgan was injured but still fighting.

Then Balinor burst through the back door. The shaman was not expecting an attack from that direction and thus was not guarding it. Kain told him to “Die!” but he didn’t understand the command well enough (weird orcish dialect). Quentin began to sling bullets at him. Balinor reached him, and ruined his spell. When the shaman missed with the footman’s flail, giving Balinor four attacks before his next swing, it was over.

As soon as he died, the two standing golems stopped.

We took from him a mace, some jade (including an amulet) and some other miscellaneous equipment in a bag, including some nails. The dead golem that hadn’t been blown up had a good amount of jade on it. We suspect that what the shaman had yelled was a command word, through the jade amulet.

We then made a nasty discovery. The golems had shut the secret door. We couldn’t get out without a Stoneshape, and then the door was no longer reclosable.

Seeing no options, Quentin Stoneshaped it open. We checked out the other door in the pit room.

This time, the five alert guards on the other side spotted us doing so, and we were in combat. One orc broke for each of the two doors. Felix cut one off, but Kodo was hit and held back by spears and could not pursue the other one. Fortunately, Donald threw a Web, but it didn’t catch the escaping orc fully.

The one Felix had blocked lunged left. He was not going for the door, but for the cord. Felix gutted him as he leapt away… to slow to reach the cord.

We lit the Web quickly, and with loaded ranged weapons shot the escaping orc. We then finished off the other three quickly.

Next, we decided that we would go for the gusto. Our explorations had turned up little enough information, and it seemed like our best chance was to strike at the Pig avatar itself. If we could cut the bridge to the other side (the one across the lava), we could delay pursuit by the thousand orcs for half a day. We would then just have to kill the eight drummers and their conductor, plus the Pig Guy.

We decided to free the three blue Kara-kara after they volunteered information. We tossed the bodies of the shaman and the guards into the pit, and called down to the orcs. The most vocal one said his name was Naku-maru. They told us what little they knew about the tribe, noting that they were POWs. We lowered a rope, and they climbed up. We gave them a bit of food, armed them with spears from the armory near the guards, and they decided to at least support us. Naku-maru indicated that prior to the arrival of the Pig Guy, no one had dared go behind the throne, supposedly the domain of the Ancestors.

We decided to make the attack.

Balinor, Alduin, Felix, and Kodo poured out of the doors into the orcish ceremony. The eight drummers raised their mallots, but looked panicked. The Pig Avatar spoke a single word in Human, a word that Quentin understood, not as the Word of Power we were expected, but a simple and yet elegant phrase that summed up his feelings about the situation:


Then the Pig Guy vanished into thin air. Ha!

Balinor had cornered all of the drummers while Felix, Kodo, and Morgan ran for the rope bridge. Huge numbers of mean-looking elite troops were charging across the bridge. Felix and Kodo each took down one of the four supports.

The huge number of mean-looking elite troops turned around and ran the other way.

One drummer had leaped at Balinor and been turned into paste. Another one had been too slow to get out of the way. Kain took one down as well.

The conductor, realizing he had only one chance, earned our sincere admiration. Showing amazing athletic prowess, he leaped off the platform, dodging a shot from Alduin, and landed past Felix on the bridge. He then began running up the bridge, hand-over-hand.

The remaining three drummers decided to rush Balinor and overbear him, but they only managed to hang on to him. He smashed one, and the other two fell off.

Felix and Kodo cut the last two bridge supports. The bridge collapsed and swung toward the other side, carrying the still climbing conductor. It slammed into the other wall, and the conductor lost his grip. He made a grab for the ropes, but missed, and plunged screaming into the lava. Too bad, at that point we were rooting for him.

With a sniffle, Balinor smashed another drummer, and the last one actually jumped into the lava.

Ignoring the milling and confused crown on the other side, we charged toward the huge bronze throne. Tracking from Kodo and sniffing from Chester was inconclusive, and a quick test revealed it was hollow. There were two passageways leading back from the throne.

We followed the near one, and it led to a strange bronzewood door. We assume the door had been built by the Ancestors. Balinor opened the door, revealing a weird room.

There were crystals everywhere, and five other identical doors leading out. Balinor tossed a rock in, but realized that he couldn’t actually locate the rock in the room. It had some weird scrambling effect that we concluded was created by some sort of Magic Mirror spell. Alduin attempted to mark the door with chalk, but suddenly a beam shot out of one of the crystals, injuring him and completely and seamlessly erasing the chalk mark.

The other passage led to a similar door, which led into the same room. We tried leaving one door open for orientation and opening the other, but there was a weird delay as the other door closed automatically before ours was allowed to open.

We decided to navigate the room anyway. Naku-maru wanted to come, but the other two orcs were skittish and stayed behind to wait for us. Prior to this and with the help of the Kara-kara, Felix gave a brief speech to the milling orcs, telling them that their false ruler had run from us. Whether his speech fell on deaf ears, we don’t know, but we hope we’ve messed things up. With Quentin’s direction sense and amazing wisdom, he was able to navigate the room a bit, and shuffle through the illusion toward a door. Without him it would have taken much longer even to make that step. It was clear that the room could be learned. This would take Quentin a few days (due to wisdom, intelligence, and direction sense), while it would take most of us between a few months and a year (for Felix). It should be noted that under infravision, the doors appeared to jump around, though the crystals were invisible.

We tied ropes together, and despite some confusion, managed to move through a door. We marked each passage with chalk as we went through. The first of the four new doors led to another door, behind which was a room with mirrors on two walls, and a blank third one. Infinite Balinors appeared on the walls every 20 feet, from the mirror effect.

We rolled stuff into the room, and it didn’t explode or disappear or anything. Balinor fired a sling bullet into a mirror, through which it rippled briefly and vanished. Seemed like some sort gate, especially from the sucking effect. When we cast a nail at the end of twine into it, Balinor felt it pulled, and let go. This was consistent with Nbod’s portals.

We decided to not jump through random portals, and went back.

The next passage led to another door, on the other side of which was blackness. Continual Lights couldn’t even light the area. However, with a pole we determined that the corridor just continued. Again, since our Blind Fighting abilities were poor, we decided not to continue.

The third passage led to a storeroom of some sort. Lots of useful but inexpensive stuff from plundered ships was here, some of it still packed neatly in boxes. We noted names of the ships, and moved on. The back door to the storeroom was opened slightly. On the other side was some sort of glass furniture set, which seemed odd. Chester shivered, and we quickly shut the door. He told us there was another cat on the other side.

We knew that the Mouse of Cats could be used on a very large variety of cats, including hobgoblins, which are vaguely descended from cats. So the thing on the other side could be anything. Quentin spoke to it around the door, but we couldn’t see it.

The “cat” was fairly dumb, but really wanted us to come inside. It had a problem that it couldn’t break “the rules.” It wouldn’t admit to much, so eventually we threw it some food, which it sat on. It wanted something with pointy ears, preferably alive. It liked weasels, but its favorite dish was black squirrels. It tried to convince Quentin to come inside, indicating that it was smarter than him, and they could chat much better from inside the room, but Quentin somehow was unconvinced.

The final corridor led to another mirror room. It seemed to be just like the other one, but it was different since our stuff was not lying there.

Having explored all the rooms, we thought about what to do. Eventually we decided that since we could at least talk to the creature, the glass room with the cat seemed best. Especially since someone specifically put them there to stop people like us.

We returned, and Quentin began a long but outstandingly clever conversation with the cat. Despite the fact that the cat couldn’t tell us what the rules were or who made them, and it denied everything except a desire to have Quentin come into the room, Quentin tricked it into revealing a lot of information. There was a female cat in the same room with him, who kept trying to tell him to shut up, though we couldn’t hear this. A fat man who was not a Kara-kara had given them orders to guard the place. Our Pig buddy had probably run through the room. They had not been free in several years, but were bound to service through some “Way of giving rules,” a spell-like effect. Eventually the other cat must have gotten our friend to quiet down, since suddenly he wouldn’t talk to Quentin. The cat had two tentacles that were not used to bite people. A quick look in the Bestiary indicated that there were two displacer beasts in there.

With few options, Quentin threw a hopeful Dispel Magic. The lights went out, but Quentin asked the cat if it was there. The rules were gone! Quentin told them we would lead them to the forest again. They happily agreed and came out of the room. They were indeed displacer beasts—weird flickery things that seemed to be everywhere at once. They were catlike with several tentacles.

We led them through the room, back to the door to the swamp, and pointed the way for them to go. For the first time, the female spoke, saying “I understand,” and they went gallivanting off into the wilderness.

Well, that went swimmingly.

Having removed the guardians, we moved through the glass room. There was a lot of weird glass furniture, and a door on the far side. We passed through, into an even weirder room.

The walls of the rather large room were covered in reddish-yellow gems that gave off a faint and eerie light. There were four translucent columns in the center of the room, each that had a swirling group of shadowy beings that seemed constrained by the columns. We tracked around, and noted that this passage was used regularly.

There were five additional exits out of the room: one additional one on our end, three on the left wall, and one at the other end. We began to track, and discover which doors were commonly used.

Suddenly, Kodo, Balinor, Felix, and Donald were assaulted by shadows. They hit Kodo and Donald, draining their strength. Lights flared from our pouches and we clocked them quickly.

Just as the last one fell, there was a weird popping sound, and then it was quite bad.

There had actually been three people on the other end of the room, invisible and behind a Silence spell, preparing a lovely ambush. There was an elf in field plate, an elf in green robes, and a warrior in full plate wielding a falchion.

The cleric, in field plate, threw a Hold Person that failed to catch anyone, but the mage Slowed Balinor, Felix, Morgan, Kodo, and Alduin.

The warrior was invisible and appeared next to Donald, swinging the obviously magical falchion. He clocked Donald, but being the buff wizard he is, Donald didn’t fall. The other two calmly began advancing.

Well, we found our people. The question was, would we live?

Felix drew out the Horn of Valhalla and began blowing, so we scrambled to protect him for the full round it took. Alduin shot the wizard, Quentin sent his birds to distract the cleric, who was casting a spell. Kain began casting a Cure Light, as did Quentin.

The elf fighter/mage, who was in some sort of armor, drew a glowing short sword and began casting a spell. Slowed, Alduin could not fire another arrow before it went off.

Naku-maru advanced toward the wizard, staying out of the combat, but hoping to help. He is a second level fighter and wants to be Felix’s henchman.

Slowly Balinor closed with the falchion warrior, who slashed Quentin for significant damage, and Balinor clocked him once with Maiden Basher. Kodo moved toward the cleric in field plate, brandishing his hand axes. Donald received a Cure Light from Quentin and threw up his Shield spell to protect him from the mage, and jumped back from the falchion man.

The wizard threw a Sleep spell taking out Chester and Kain, who lost his Cure Light and collapsed.

Alduin held his shot, waiting for the wizard to start a spell. The falchion man smashed Balinor twice, holding him at bay. Kodo closed with the cleric and disrupted his spell with a whack from a hand axe.

The falchion man finally missed, and Balinor smashed him once again. The wizard began casting, and Alduin shot him. The arrow nailed him, and the wizard Magic Missiled himself!

The falchion man and Balinor missed each other again. Alduin was not going to be able to stop the next spell…

The wizard began casting. Nearly forgotten in the slow combat, Donald threw a Magic Missile at him, disrupting his spell, and taking him out!

The cleric walked away from the slow-moving Kodo and moved to help the mage. Naku-maru moved to harrass the cleric, who threw a Command, and he fell over.

Then the right wall shimmered, and wind chimes were heard. Out of the fog came six weird swordsmen with bastard swords. Felix grinned and drew his short sword.

Four of the swordsmen ran at the cleric, while two attacked the falchion man. The four swarmed over the cleric, who took a bunch of hits and injured one, but was doomed. The warrior resisted for a long time, but continued to miss Balinor and between Balinor and four swordsmen, he finally went down.

Then we hit the motherload.

A Detect Magic revealed:

Short sword
Mace (off of the shaman earlier)

In addition, the elf wizard was wearing a suit of elven chain mail! He also had three rings with words inscribed on them in elven, saying Life, Death, and Beauty.

There were numerous other valuables as well, including a hundred platinum pieces.

We piled the stuff on us. We were so close. None of these people matched the description of the fat man, but we were simply out of resources. He was probably nearby, but we couldn’t afford an extended fight and couldn’t decide which door to go through. We decided to get out of the place, since our window of time was running out.

The plan is to exit the catacombs and cross the Trail of the Dead at first light, using Levitate, and get far away from the orc village, taking the direct route to the boat. Evasion seems likely, since they don’t know even where we’re going.

In two weeks, we will resolve the adventure!


October 01, 1998

Defenders Summary #38: Impudently Walking Down the Forbidden Path

Party Roster:

Felix, 5th level fighter, 53 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 5th level fighter, 50 hp, played by Joel
Kodo, 3rd level woodsman, 36 hp, played by Rob
Morgan, 5th level fighter, 27 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 6th level druid, 25 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 4th level mage, 21 hp, NPC
Alduin, 4th level thief, 15 hp, played by Vic
Kain, 1st level cleric, 6 hp, played by Jeff

Welcome to the Island of the Kara-kara! See… tangled jungles filled with Morgan loving bugs! See… lightning give Morgan a special greeting! See… an orcish party! See…

The Defenders do the island!

When we last left, the Defenders were plotting an ambush against an unexpected obstacle—actual guards. Donald threw a nasty sleep spell, catching all but one of the 6 orcs, and everyone fired their missile weapons while Felix ran madly at them. Of course, all six were grunts and the one we all shot fell over from damage. We quickly dispatched the rest, dropped the bodies in the swamp for decomposition purposes, and moved on.

We reached the village at about noon, and discovered that we had a big problem. The drums were quite loud and being played by large numbers of orcs at the temple near the other edge of the town. The temple was in a cave dug into the volcano, supposedly dormant for hundreds of years. However, there were still about a hundred guards ringing the village, making it impossible for us to sneak inside without the aid of invisibility effects, which we don’t have. So we decided instead that, being adventurers, why not walk down the Forbidden Path, also known as the Trail of the Dead, presumably where the shadows had come from? This seemed perfectly logical, and we walked down the path, cheerfully ignoring the many statues with upraised hands in a “Halt!” position.

Most of the statues were very crumbled, but one mainly intact one suddenly spat a lightning bolt at… Morgan! (Thunderstruck strikes again) He saved and survived the blast with room to spare, actually shielding Alduin, the real target of the bolt. Morgan decided that it would be dangerous to use the sword for now, and handed it over to Quentin for the remainder of the path trip, but it turned out to be a moot point. One statue sputtered a lot but did nothing, and another actually blew up, making some noise, but not nearly enough to penetrate the intense and catchy ritual drum beat.

We suddenly reached a crossroads, and discovered a bamboo gate blocking what could potentially be the back entrance to the temple, from the other side of the volcano. There was a knot of some sort holding the gate shut, which Donald replaced after we passed through. Moving stealthily, we found a decreasing width chasm that led to some sort of wall, according to Chester the bobcat. We walked down and reached an iron door, which was also tied with a rope. We untied it but realized that it was magical in some way, so the best we could do was fake it being retied from a distance. Quentin’s ferrets reported that there was a giant spider in the corridor, on the order of the size of the one we fought in our earliest adventures. Larger than us.

We moved down the corridor and went down a different passage, dodging the spider. Alduin discovered a muddy trap, probably a pit of some sort, which we deftly avoided. We soon reached a door. Alduin noted that the handle was trapped, and that turning it one way set off the trap. He successfully disarmed it, however, and we moved through uneventfully. From the other side, we determined that it was likely an alarm or something, since it was rigged to something from far down the corridor.

We moved along, traveling almost a half a mile down the tunnel before coming out into a valley. The section of tunnel appeared to have been regularly used, primarily by barefoot people. Coming out of the tunnel into daylight, the party noted that the northeastern swamp was in view, set against the background of the jungle and the ocean, and it was almost panoramic, if you like that sort of thing. To our left was a set of three archways. Each appeared to have a door of some sort. Partial translation of the orc writing revealed that the doors were opened by some sort of secret action. Kodo, making fun of the silly dance positions on the right door, accidentally opened it by mimicking the motions. With a smile, we looked in. There was a coffin and a statue inside a small chamber, and it was clear that it had lain undisturbed for some time.

Thinking better of our actions, we reshut the door and moved to the center one. It had three symbols in five different orders on it, and we tapped the symbols on the top in the sixth order, the one not listed, and the door opened. Inside was more musty tunnel.

However, this section had definitely been traveled, though rarely. We moved down the passage and came to a room with four alcoves, two of which appeared empty, and two of which had a pile of bones with two gold bracelets in each of them. We resisted the temptation immediately, and decided to wait for “later.”

We continued down the passage and reached some wooden doors. Felix knocked down the first one, but due to a poor precaution on our thought, we wanted to be able to observe the Kara-kara on the other side, rather than them spotting our intense Continual Light. The strategy backfired when, instead of Kara-kara, ghouls came running at us.

Several ghouls jumped Felix, paralyzed him instantly, and began dragging him back. Then, a horrible chilling scream came at us—RANGED LEVEL DRAIN.

It was really bad.

Guess who the only person who blew the saving throw was.

The now 4th level Balinor grew extremely angry and tried to push to the front, but Morgan and Kodo was engaging the ghouls at the front. Morgan was struck on multiple occasions, but it rapidly became clear that he was immune to the paralysis effect. However, there was another screamer back there. The things were differentiable from ghouls in that they appeared to be less muscled and much more dead in appearance.

Although we tried desperately to get to him first, the other screamer got off a yelp too, and this one was more devastating. Balinor, Morgan, and Quentin all lost a level, though fortunately Kain did not (being 1st level). Quentin lost his 4th level spells, which meant Cure Serious Wounds and Dispel Magic were gone, which was quite bad.

Balinor finally pushed up to the front and bashed one ghoul into the ground with the help of a timely shot from Alduin. Having slain the front line of ghouls, and noting that two were busy eating Felix, Kodo and Morgan each moved to confront one of the screamers. Morgan continued his usual fun and stabbed at his, which of course missed on six consecutive attacks. Kodo fared well initially, and injured his, but then missed, and the thing struck back, double energy-draining Kodo back to 1st level. There went the boating proficiency.

Balinor rushed Kodo’s screamer, and smashed it twice, destroying it utterly. Morgan continued to stab his, and Alduin shot it as well. Donald held Magic Missile, hoping he wouldn’t have to use it, and Quentin remained back, hoping Flame Blade wouldn’t be necessary. Quentin did cast Faerie Fire on the screamers and assorted ghouls, making them much easier to hit.

Balinor turned to help Morgan, but then his silver hammer, Thud, broke its handle. Alduin shot the creature and it fell over, and Balinor turned to engage one of the ghouls eating Felix, while Kodo slew the other. Balinor once again hit, but this time, against all odds Maiden Basher’s handle cracked. Then the ghoul smashed Balinor, who fell over paralyzed, and totally humiliated, realizing that it DEFINITELY wasn’t his day.

Morgan finished it off.

However, we had lost tons of levels. We really hoped it was temporary. After a look into the Bestiary, the party consensus was that the screamers were “elder ghouls.” Nothing else seemed to fit. There was some gear on them, which we took.

The party decided to head back and deal with the bracelets before moving on. Balinor and Morgan stood by while Felix reached for the bracelets. Suddenly, Felix couldn’t move.

Balinor felt something enveloping his right arm. He swung Thud with his left arm and it bounced off of some substance.

Morgan sliced at it with Thunderstruck, but it didn’t seem to have any effect. Then he just stopped moving, like Felix. Balinor yelled for help, that something was killing them, and then he was sucked in as well. All three appeared to be hanging eerily in the air.

Donald yelled, “Gelatinous cube!” and Quentin cast a Flame Blade. Kodo went to grab pieces of the wooden door near the ghouls to light on fire, since Balinor and Felix were carrying the torches.

Quentin ran up to face one of the two cubes, and slashed at it. Two nice strikes by Quentin took it down, freeing Felix and Morgan, who still were unmoving. He whirled to face the other, with Balinor in it. He swung at opened part of it up, and then slashed it further, though this time it didn’t fall.

Then he missed, and was paralyzed, though not dragged inside because the Flame Blade damaged the creature when it tried to pick him up. Fortunately Quentin could still maintain its power since he was conscious. Donald ran up behind him, and used Quentin’s arm to hold the thing at bay.

Then Kodo arrived with the torches and went at the creature. However, he missed and was caught.

Now it was up to the combat power of Alduin, Donald, and Kain.

Alduin ran at the creature, sticking it with the torch, and hitting it repeatedly, and it finally collapsed.

With Balinor’s soap helping to remove the acid, damage was minimized and everyone was healed. About that time everyone’s levels returned, thankfully!

In addition, we discovered the back entrance to the left archway, the one we had been able to open, and it connected up with the central archway. It appears that only the right one was disconnected.

We rested for about 8 hours, healing and re-memorizing spells. Then we marched forward. It was about 2 AM on the night of the ceremony.

We traveled down the tunnel for about 20 minutes, and reached the back of a secret door. The drum beat, which had become too quiet to hear before, was now getting louder again. We opened the secret door and emerged into a room with two exits, symmetrically placed. The drums were quite loud, and we cracked each door carefully open.

On the right side was a room laid out for 3 people, with one exit out. It was empty. The left side room was occupied by a single well-dressed orc, presumably a shaman or chieftain, being attended to by 8 frightened servants. We took the other passage and noted a room with a pit crossed by walkways in one direction, but we moved toward the source of the drums. Reaching a door, we cracked it open an inch.

We got a view of the ceremony.

There were hundreds of orcs across a rope bridge, clearly the “mob” of the setting. We had come out behind the drummers, who were loudly banging them, though they shielded us from view. There was a giant bronze throne, and perched on it was some sort of pig being. It had some weird spectral appearance, and Donald told us that it couldn’t be reproduced by a Polymorph effect.

However, since the thing had apparently gored orcs on occasion, we aren’t quite sure what we’re dealing with. It could be a mage with some illusion ability, or an incredibly powerful illusionist, or perhaps something else…

However, we were out of range for a Dispel Magic, so we attempted to reach a better location, perhaps the tunnel leading up to the throne that we could see the edge of from our vantage point. We backed up to the room with the two entrances, and realized that the only option to go that way was through the shaman and his servants.

The plan was for Donald to throw a Sleep spell catching the servants, while the rest of us poured out and killed them before they could escape. The noise from the drums would prevent them from being heard.

Next time… will we kill Mr. Pig?