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Defenders Summary #61: The Plan, as Usual, Goes to Putty

Party Roster:

Felix, 6th level fighter, 59 hp, played by Alex
Kodo, 5th level woodsman, 59 hp, played by Rob
Balinor, 6th level fighter, 56 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 6th level cleric, 43 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
Morgan, 6th level fighter, 35 hp, played by Alan
Donald, 6th level mage, 33 hp, NPC
Alduin, 6th level thief, 26 hp, played by Alan
Nakumanu, 3rd level fighter, 25 hp, henchman
Narahn, 2nd level fighter, 11 hp, played by Dave

When we last left the party, they had just regrouped in Restenford at the beginning of June, 2181. Cassian had just gained 7th level and so we were interested in clearing the talking evil skull room below the Phaulkonian Church in Restenford, and in testing our mettle against the giant skeleton (B.A.S.T.A.R.D.—Big Ass Skeleton Thingy And Really Dangerous) in our old favorite location, Hafney Hill.

First, Narahn made a cameo appearance after an update. Narahn, a halfling bow specialist who had been with the party from 2175-6, had been patrolling around Restenford, working for the Baron. He and his patrol had encountered quite a few nasty creatures, including groups of ogres and spiders. He had gained 3rd level (and 5 hp) in the intervening period.

We decided to tackle the weird skull room. With Protection from Evil on all party members, we approached the shaft with the skulls and cast Augury on Dispelling them. The result was that the effect was superficial—indeed, all we did was remove the “alarm system” for the crypt. However, Cassian’s hawk was able to discover a small room about 60 feet down the shaft. Lowering ropes and using mountaineering equipment, we descended into the room. The entire room was magical, and contained a sarcophagus as well as all sorts of skull decorations on the walls and various assorted furniture.

An Augury on Dispelling the room: “Only a fool takes the boards down as the eye passes.” In this case the “eye” almost certainly referred to the eye of a storm. Our conclusion was that the Dispel would have no immediate effect but trigger disaster soon after.

An Augury on rummaging around ready for a fight, but not touching the sarcophagus: “The grim consequences that will follow are beyond your sight.” Uggh. Seems like something would happen, either somewhere else, at some other time, or at a level beyond our “sight,” or simply something invisible. Either way, it didn’t sound productive.

An astrology on leaving the place alone after sealing it with Stoneshapes: “The sign of the scythe is obscured.”

We decided to march on Hafney Hill in an attempt to kill the BASTARD and make sure everything was clear there. On the way we got jumped by a volt drawn to Morgan’s Thunderstruck. Donald Slept it, and we threw it in our Volt Box and tucked it on the cart, and continued on our way.

We approached the back door that had a wraith behind it the last time we came there, and when Felix opened the door he was hit by a VERY powerful “cold” trap that did 50 points of damage, or would have if he hadn’t saved. Then it shot two silvery birds into the air which made a resounding bang.

We ducked into the bushes to wait and see who came by. Suddenly we turned around and saw a 17 foot tall humanoid with spikes, with hissing snakes coming out of them. The being spoke in Common. It demanded to know what we were doing there, and we explained that we had come to rid the place of bandits if they had returned. It claimed that they had not. It said its name was Lord (something) (a demonic name out of Northlander mythology) and it had made its home here. When we asked about the giant skeleton, it said, “I will not cross the seal of power.” We responded, well good, and then the guy disappeared with a rush of wind above us.

Well, whether it was an illusion or not, we needed to get input on the runes that had blasted Felix and learn what others knew about this. Unfortunately, our main source would legally be… the Duke of Kroten (Benct). That option flew out the window fast.

We asked the Baron and Peltar about the creature we had encountered. They said it fit the description of a “gaunt,” a creature of near demigod power that killed anything that bothered it at all. Since we hadn’t been attacked, we were quite dubious of this creature’s nature.

To find out about the runes, we decided to travel to Seapoint to visit the Seapoint Lightning, and particularly Kerr, the druid/mage who specialized in the use of runes. The trip was fairly eventful, especially when Kodo’s entire sleeping bag with Kodo in it was dragged underground by a burrow worm. It was handily defeated by Balinor, Kodo, and Donald with help from Kain, Cassian, and Quentin.

We had the bug head turned into a plaque in Barnacus and agreed to pick it up on the way back. On the way to Seapoint we encountered a peddler with oddities for sale…

No, not that one.

The guy had a complete load of stuff, all sorts of gear and utensils and other odds and ends (like a portable Herman’s from Carse). We eventually made a deal. The merchant had a warhammer with EXACTLY the same runes on it as our “cursed” dwarven battleaxe from the party’s earliest adventures did. It was found in a river north of Barnacus, completely not rusted despite being in the water. It detected as neither magical nor evil, but we are still wary of those things. Nonetheless, we agreed to cast Continual Light on it and pay 170 gp for a really good puzzle box with something in it (the merchant was unable to open it) and a bowl. Why a bowl, you ask? Because Felix had wandered over and Detected Good/Evil on the stuff in the cart with Peacemaker. The bowl came up as good, and we later confirmed was Type 1 magical. We got the bowl for 20 gp!

We couldn’t open the box, but it is clear that Alduin will be able to open it sooner or later. No, it is not actually addictive. Really.

We continued on to Seapoint, where we learned that the exploding birds were “fireworks” from Southern Cromwell, a sort of Orient. They were expensive. The runes that created the cold damage were very powerful, probably created by a 4th or 5th level clerical spell.

Interesting. With this information, we returned uneventfully to Restenford. We sent out mail to a mage of Peltar’s acquaintance in Serin (sp) in Cromwell, the center for elemental lightning research, offering the volt. This was our alternative to selling it to the loathsome “enterprise” of Wilbar’s Fish and Critters. We would rather kill the volt than sell it to them. We’re just hoping to break even on that.

Finally, we went for another expedition to Hafney Hill, this time for more information. We approached to within two miles (yes it was the RIGHT hill!) and cast Divination with 1000 gp plus of jewelry (we’re almost broke). The result were, well:

NE worshippers of the dim gypsy goddess of greed are but shadows here.

The LE clergy of the Lord of Lies is significant and dangerous.
The forces of the CE Demon Prince of the Undead are overwhelming and entrenched.
This area contains a permanent, stable link to Pandemonium.
The treasure in this area is vast and impressive.
The chances of incurring the wrath of supernatural forces:

Prince of Lies—low to moderate.
Demon Prince of the Undead—low unless the obvious warnings are ignored.
NE Gypsy Goddess of Greed—negligible.

This was quite consistent with what we believed, except for the bit about “a permanent, stable link to Pandemonium.” Gee, what fun.

Here is our analysis (or at least mine):

The Prince of Lies represents some clergy of LE clerics that have illusion powers. Ok, so it wasn’t an illusionist, but a cleric with similar abilities. They have taken up residence, and are dangerous, but I suspect we can defeat them in a hard battle. However, the main evil of the place is still the evil temple underground. Clearly it is even worse than we anticipated, and “obvious warning signs” COULD include 10 foot tall skeletons telling you to get out. The Gypsy Goddess of Greed may refer to some remnant of the halfling group we defeated seven years earlier.

It is most of the party’s opinion that there is probably some treasure owned by the LE illusion clergy, so it is worth another surface sweep’n’slaughter like last time. Clearly we are totally unable to deal with the evil down below, which is unfortunate. Heck, what’s another evil clergy that hates us anyway?

I do suggest some minor information gathering on issues like: How powerful or widespread is the clergy of the Lord of Lies? What sorts of specific powers do they have? Have they been in this region before? Does the Baron have any specific requests on how we deal with them?



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