« October 1999 | Main | January 2000 »

November 22, 1999

Defenders Summary #74: Thank You For Not Killing Us

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 6th level cleric, 43 hp, played by Jeff
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 7th level mage, 37 hp, NPC
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 4th level illusionist, 8 hp, played by Aaron

(Chiaro was reinserted into the adventure.)

The party had discovered an open space behind a lava flow past the cursed bone statue. First we Stoneshaped through the hole, and found a second lava flow, broke through that, and then found ourselves in a long corridor. We quickly discovered a large complex.

Strangely, in the corridor there was a jet of poisonous gas coming out of the wall, which everyone in the front saved against. We avoided it for the moment.

We found a number of rooms, including one that detected as entirely magical. There was a high magic book in a corner, a statue in another corner, several “drill bits” (large twisty bits of metal) hanging from the ceiling, near a black section of the ceiling. The drill bits were also highly magical. The floor was made up of connected lizard things. There were also two high magic frescoes on the wall, both of a sandy beach. In one it was day, the other night.

There were also three rooms with doors with runes of “names” on them. One was cracked open while the other two were sealed shut. We checked out the open one and found a number of niches with bones in them. After a brief argument, Felix picked up three gems from the bones. Nothing detected as magical or evil or anything.

The next door was picked by Felix, revealing a weird sight. In the room sat a balance on a slab. On the balance was a beating heart and a flame, keeping the scale in balance.

We shut the door.

Felix picked the last door, and then a hideous undead monster attacked the party, right on schedule.

Chiaro, Nakumanu, Bogomel, and Morgan instantaneously aged 3 or 4 years (Morgan aged 25). In addition Nakumanu and Bogomel went screaming down the hallway. Chiaro decided that wasn’t such a bad idea anyway and went to stop Nakumanu and Bogomel.

Felix stabbed the ghost while Morgan fumbled and Balinor hit it once, clearly inflicting some damage. Donald threw a Magic Missile at it, hammering it. Kain began a Flame Blade while Quentin pulled the bug helm over his head to avoid a potential sonic attack. It was rapidly discovered that Quentin, Kain, and Cassian were immune to the aging attack, but everyone else shut their eyes.

The partly insubstantial creature then swept at Morgan and disappeared into him. Morgan dropped Thunderstruck and tried to touch Felix. Kain shouted a warning, and Felix opened his eyes and punched Morgan in the face, sending him reeling. Balinor swung a meaty fist and missed though not before pumping his strength with Wrath. Quentin tried to Dispel it while Cassian tried Hold Morgan. Morgan drew a dagger and tried to slit his own throat, badly injuring himself. Finally Balinor jumped on top of Morgan and held down his arms. The Hold went off, freezing Morgan in his tracks, and Quentin Dispelled. The creature emerged from Morgan and hovered in the air for a moment. Felix stabbed it and Morgan used the Ring of Health to save himself. Balinor activated the Ring of Protection from Evil. It swung toward Albee, who moved to evade, then changed its mind and headed for Donald. We yelled a warning and Donald swung at it, stabbing it with Mindwaster. Then it was in him. Balinor leaped him, but not quickly enough as Donald shot six magic missiles at Balinor. The fighter charged and knocked Donald down, pinning him. This time Cassian Turned the creature out of Donald, and Quentin dropped a Faerie Fire on it when it emerged. Donald began crawling away, unable to look at the creature to target it with a spell, while Balinor and Felix faced off with it in the corridor. The creature swung back at Felix and Balinor who both hit it and it turned back after missing Felix. It came for another pass, and Kain hit it with his Flame Blade, as did Balinor and Felix. The creature exploded. Somehow only Balinor failed his saving throw and system shock, aging 3 years instantly.

That completely sucked.

No one had actually changed brackets, but the fight left Bogomel at 39 years old and Chiaro at 55, which is uglier.

Behind the door lay a slab with a skeleton on it. The room itself had a magic bookshelf, chest, and urn. We moved the stone slab aside and discovered a magic circlet. All four were trapped.

We Dispelled the trap on the chest and opened it, finding a few dozen gems. We also Dispelled the urn and moved it into the hallway. The circlet was Dispelled but the trap was permanent and returned in a minute. Even though we had moved the circlet, the trap remained, and the area around the circlet detected as magical within a few feet.

We were worried enough by the type 5 magic of the bookshelf to hold off on investigating it immediately. Donald cast a Comprehend Languages on the door and discovered the name of the tomb’s occupant. It was apparent that the body had been robbed earlier in time.

A spellshift allowed us to use a Stoneshape to seal up the poison gas hole in the wall. Donald cast Identify on the urn, and we think it is an Urn of Holding. It certainly contains an extra-dimensional space.

We walked past the poison jet and found another weird room with a fountain full of mercury and another fresco on the wall, this time of a large tower with two suns (one red) in the background. There was also an archway in the picture. The floor was tiled with blue and white, and the walls were made of some smoky rock.

The fountain and the archway detected as highly magical. Again, nothing was evil.

Beyond we found more passages and discovered a connection to the vampire’s tomb where we found it last adventure. We also found another corridor that led to one of the transporter rooms like the ones on the original Orc Isle. The black dot was on the wall. We touched it with the Cloak of Passwall and found ourselves looking from a hill at the temple complex village. We coming out of the side of an obelisk. We filed that fact away for later.

This left mostly risky options. First we decided to Dispel the bookshelf despite detecting all schools of magic except Necromancy and one other I’ve forgotten.

Kain attempted to Dispel it from the hallway with the rest of the party a significant distance away. Kain failed, but we nonetheless heard a hissing sound. A blue beam shot out of the room and into Kain’s forehead.

Kain was being contacted telepathically. “As long as you don’t want to steal the books on the shelf, we can chat from the hallway came a surprisingly not hostile voice.”

Kain agreed and Quentin joined the conversation as well by moving with him. Inside the room were two, well, beholders. Or something. They had about a dozen eyestalks and a central eye and floated in the air.

It turns out that they are spectators, really powerful beings set to guard the place for the last 11,000 years. They only pop into the Prime Material plane infrequently and so haven’t discharged their duties, and don’t really mind anyway. They were generally good natured. They had been set by “dark skin toned” slight beings like Morgan. Take a wild guess what we think those might be.

11,000 years is just about the end of the era of the Kraken. Still, we couldn’t get much information out of them. They were fascinated by the room we described… but only by the décor. This didn’t really help. Still, they didn’t mind chatting, and eventually they asked the last question were expecting. “By the way, do you guys want any treasure?”

They didn’t want it, so they just gave it to us. A magic dagger, magic bracers, and some other jewelry. We wanted to offer them something in return, but they weren’t interested. We informed them that the island’s current inhabitants might be down here within a few years and they thanked us. We explained that our mission was to make sure that the books didn’t fall into their hands.

“Are they godlike beings?”

“Uh, no.”

“Then I wouldn’t worry about it.”

Reassured, we thanked them, explained that we rarely get this sort of warning from guardian monsters, and agreed to conclude our business in the room and seal it our first convenience.

A surreal experience, perhaps.

Finally, we checked out the fountain. Quentin decided to use it, and found himself talking with a being. It was humanoid with a fu-manchu mustache, named Shabrikar. It explained that the world would eventually end and warned Quentin, “Beware the beast around the corner, oh wait, that’s already happened.”

Quentin asked, “What does this fountain do?”

“It allows you to ask me a question once every ten years.”


Boy was that embarrassing. Oh well. At least we ruined it for the orcs. Before cutting off the contact, the creature warned Quentin, “When seven rivers run from a rock in June, if the Four Brothers meet catastrophe may result.” Or something cryptic like that. We wrote it down, and I don’t have the exact words with me. Someone may send out a supplement to the summary later.

That ends our gaming for the semester. We’ll resume sometime in late January!


November 15, 1999

Defenders Summary #73: Miss us?

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 6th level cleric, 43 hp, played by Jeff
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 7th level mage, 37 hp, NPC
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman

The Defenders reorganized slightly and rejoined in Barnacus in January 2183. Quentin, the original party druid, decided to rejoin the party once again, while the fatigued Chiaro took a well needed rest. Balinor found himself with a new intolerance for bad weather.

It didn’t take long for something to go wrong on Lendore Isle. On the section of road between Restenford and Garroten that travels through the Dead Wood (our old favorite place, with the undead infestation) was being taken over by a group of giant spiders. Evil and intelligent giant spiders. We were supposed to get rid of them one way or the other.

The party traveled to the site of the attack and promptly stuff went wrong. Albee, Felix and Morgan got tangled in the web spread across the road, while another web dropped from overhead on Balinor and Nakumanu, snuffing out Nakumanu’s torch.

Two spiders the size of a large sofa descended on the middle of the party, one successfully biting Donald and the other being held back by Bogomel’s spear. Balinor slammed the one on Donald, while Felix tried to cut his way out and have Morgan light a torch. Nakumanu lit a torch and brought the web around him and Balinor up in flames, injuring both of them. A third spider descended from above and grabbed the hapless Albee and began hoisting him up.

Quentin attempted to speak with the spiders, but we discovered that they were too intelligent for the Speak with Animals spell. Cassian dropped a Slow Poison on Donald and drew out her bow, as did the other fighters, hoping to save Albee. Suddenly the spider holding Albee was caught in the wire ball and crashed to the ground, immobilized.

With infravision Morgan was able to spot several others and we pelted them with missile fire while Bogomel finished off his and Morgan and Felix freed themselves.

In the end, there were half a dozen dead spiders and one tangled in a ball. We dragged the spider back to Restenford where Donald Charmed it. We then chatted with the spider via Tongues.

We learned that the spiders had moved over the road simply for food reasons. Apparently the old ruler of Garroten, the late “Lady” Arness, had had soldiers burn the vegetation near the road to prevent easy web stringing and keep the spiders away. This solution, while not loved by the druids, was implemented when no alternative could be concocted. However, we decided to search the area where the spiders kept the bodies (and loot). We discovered an entire three mule frame packs worth of merchandise, and, oh, 2 chaotic evil scroll tubes.

After easily determining that the scroll tubes were hideously trapped with incredibly powerful magic, we threw Dispel Magics at them until the traps went away. This lasted only a minute, as the traps were permanent effects (details forthcoming). Inside one was a scroll with Dispel Good, Slay Living, Blade Barrier, Unholy Word, Animate Object, Implore, and Harm.


Yes, that’s SEVEN spells ranging from 5th to 7th level. Hmm.

The other tube contained a nonmagical scroll that said something to the effect of: “This should help you take care of the trouble makers.”

Inside the tube was a vial, made out of a aluminum, a weird metal only found when magically extracted from ores at extreme expense that serves no useful purpose.

Just for that, we were worried.

We chatted with the Nevronians in Barnacus. They revealed that the scroll was made by Orcus, the demon prince. They destroyed it and gave us a scroll of Raise Dead in return.

The vial we took to Koralgesh at the start of the dry season. But first, Quentin picked up the “pet rock” from our earlier mission. It liked him.

It was named Ziggy.

Suddenly, there was another Quentin, thinking exactly the same thing, assuming that our Quentin was a pet rock. Quentin has theorized, as has the other one, that there is an alternate dimension with an half-elven druid who has a pet rock named Quentin. Hmm.

The abilities of the rock are as expected. It detects traps in a five foot radius and warns Quentin sometimes if danger is near (if he holds in his hand). Quentin can give it away freely, but then it is lost. If it is destroyed there is a small chance of Quentin being totally messed up as a result. Otherwise, it will save him once, leave a big diamond in his pocket, and appear somewhere else in Telvar.

Weirded out, we split the party. Quentin traveled to Koralgesh (as an albatross) and had the vial identified by Rotor Jones. We discovered that the stuff in the vial caused all good characters and neutral characters to be massively screwed up in all senses, etc. and slightly benefit evil characters in the vicinity.

The alchemist destroyed the stuff but did pay us for the vial itself. Augman also paid the Defenders for the magically trapped scroll tubes. We also found out the contents of the Smallsville Diary (to be released at some later point by Edwin).

Meanwhile, the rest of the party was in Barnacus and was approached by Dunstill and Illic. They revealed that although the mission was a success, the orcs had discovered that we killed the vampire and were exploring the ruins. Dunstill didn’t want the orcs to get their smelly hands on whatever goodies were down there and wanted us to get them first. We would have a month on the island, and would be picked up again by the Belle Venture, Captain Malmir’s cloaked ship.

While not as important a mission, it was still cool and we accepted, leaving Quentin to find us in Carse (our only stop). In Carse we picked up, well, odds and ends at Herman’s Odds and Ends. Our goodies (costing a total of 100 gp) included a tube with wheels that made strange noises when you blew into it; a set of tinker toys for Bogomel; and heavier than air flying dish for Morgan and Felix to play with. Oh, and a dozen strait-jackets.

We took our goodies and departed for the Orcish Island. We landed uneventfully near the southern ruin (where we landed last time) and walked up the stairs, first sending Quentin to scout as an albatross. Well, things didn’t go all that well.

We tripped a Paralyze glyph at the top of the stairs, and although Felix avoided its effects, a loud bang followed, and then a horn was heard. We ducked into the spire, with Kain in the lead wearing the Passwall cloak. When Kain touched the door, he avoided the worst of a blast of cold from another glyph, and then when he opened the door he was caught in the grip of exploding radiance bricks, barely surviving and receiving a good tan in the process.

The party staggered inside and shut the door. Quentin pretended to be an albatross caught in the paralysis trap. A patrol of forty orcs appeared and spotted the “albatross,” who flew off, looking flustered. They took a shot, and it hit and bounced off Quentin, who pretended to be injured and spiraled out of the sky into the water. Meanwhile, the orcs approached the door, and then left (we learned this from Cassian’s hawk on watch at the top of the tower). Worried, we spellshifted for Waterwalks, assumed a Divination would follow, and walked invisibly to the other side of the island. Hopefully that would confuse them, and we wanted to check out those ruins anyway.

Well, we were pretty surprised to find a relatively new structure sitting there amongst the ruins with a Welcome mat (in Common). Felix discovered that the place radiated Chaotic Neutral.

Oh wonderful, we found Bob’s spring home.


Quentin overflew the island and discovered about forty orcs in a permanent camp at the edge of the ruins, though not near the spire.

The party camped and spellshifted for more Waterwalks. During this time, despite being invisible, a number of fliers appeared above us (some floating) proclaiming the existence of the nearby casino. Smells from the door floated toward us and tantalized hungry party members. A tray of appetizers appeared with crackers and cheese and other items. Morgan and Felix ate them despite being refused Slow Poison spells from the clerics. We bodily held Morgan down from going into the casino. Eventually, we left and made it back to the spire once again.

The bottom double doors to the spire were glyphed, so we used the top, which was clear. We decided to do some excavating of the rubble piles on the lower floor. There were three areas. Two of them were quickly determined to be at least eleven feet of rock and probably dead ends.

The last involved walking by the bone statue. Augman had informed us that the statues were only a threat if you picked them up. If you did so, you couldn’t get rid of it, and a weird spirit would attack continuously until you died. If you killed the spirit, it would reform and attack before you could heal.

Ugly. Well, we walked by it and nothing happened, so hopefully we’re fine. We began excavating and discovered that there was indeed a passageway ahead, though it would take awhile to reach it.


November 08, 1999

Defenders Summary #72: Butt-kicking for Goodness!

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
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
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Donald, 7th level mage, 37 hp, NPC
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 4th level illusionist, 8 hp, played by Aaron

The party was spellshifting in preparation for launching the Plan. Morgan and Albee searched for secret doors and found one in one of the walls of the lower part of the complex!

The party decided to investigate it after an Augury revealed that “A narrow chance of great loss overshadows an otherwise good venture.” We intended to be cautious, but we’re risk takers, so hey.

We walked in and found a long corridor that branched. In one direction, the corridor had collapsed in rubble. In the other direction was an archway. Through the archway we found a room covered in spider webs and containing strange desiccated wood poles in it. The party looked but saw nothing inside through the webs and muck, so we decided to check with infravision, which was also fruitless. Chiaro then cast Detect Invisibility.

Crouched in the corner of the room was a five foot tall humanoid with angular features and scraggly hair. He was clutching something in one hand and the other was empty.

A drow elf!?

Chiaro cast a Phantasmal Force of the “elf” over the creature, which then immediately began charging at Balinor. The thing moved effortlessly through the webs and was saying things in the weird language of the tower. Balinor made emphatic gestures for it to halt and yelled things in dwarven, but it had no effect, and when the thing approached, Balinor hit it with his hammers.

Despite being invisible it was substantial enough to be hit by magical weapons, and it took damage. Then it tried to touch Balinor and missed. Felix and Morgan struck back and wailed on it, as did Balinor. Donald let off a Magic Missile, blasting the creature. The elf tried to touch Balinor again and missed once more, and then Bogomel brought it down with his silver spear, which was the only weapon that did full damage to it!

It reminded us of the guardian monster in the Sarkian ruins (game 30-31). It was unhurt by magical weapons but was injured by silver. We have no idea what the creature was, but Balinor was quite happy not to have been touched.

We searched the room and discovered a secret door behind where the “elf” had been standing. We opened it, and a bolt of lightning forked out of the compartment, missed Felix and shot straight at Morgan, who took some damage to his body and pride. Further insult was done when some sort of skeleton lurched out at Felix from behind the panel. Felix swung and trashed the poor, dead, unanimated skeleton. Oh well, swing first and ask questions later.

The skeleton was clearly that of the elf and it clutched a weird pendant in its hand.

The trap “disarmed” we moved some of the people inside the room. We discovered a huge stack of gold bricks (about 20,000 gp worth!). We also noted that the door was a trap in the sense that it could shut behind the person inside, trapping them there. Presumably the elf died of suffocation or starvation.

We carted the bricks out to the lower level. Then we continued sleeping for the Plan.

The two orcish boats remained moored offshore.

As night fell, we were ready. We trekked down to the dam above the drydock village and surveyed the defenses. There was a watchtower with one guard, a palisade with four guards, and a cabin with an unknown number of residents, all on top of the dam itself. There was a slow torturous path up the dam to reach it. We arrived on top of a cliff about 30 feet above the dam.

Kain threw a Silence spell and Cassian threw a Hold Person spell at the watchtower guard. The guard was not held, but was in some trouble as Donald then shot him with a sling bullet, dropping him to stable consciousness. The guard desperately tried to reach for a useless alarm bell, but between Cassian, Kain, and Donald they took him down. Chiaro then cast a Phantasmal Force, making it look like the orc had not left his post.

Then the invisible and silenced Albee, Felix, and Morgan descended on a rope set up by Cassian (mountaineering skill), followed by the invisible Balinor, Bogomel, and Nakumanu. They landed on the dam and began moving across it. Balinor and company stopped at the palisade and the others continued to the cabin. Morgan and Albee climbed onto the roof of the cabin and Felix waited by the door. Morgan killed the guard on the roof from behind, which cued Felix and Balinor to start their attacks.

Balinor and Bogomel charged (though Bogomel had nearly blown their cover when he asked Balinor what he was supposed to do) and made short work of the four guards (one of which was a lieutenant of some sort, as Balinor BARELY brought him down on the first attack. Bogomel made a good showing as well (Balinor actually managed to get hit once), killing two orcs.

Felix smashed down the front door to find seven orcs in various stages of intoxication. Two of the orcs fell onto the floor trying to react, while all but one of the other orcs grabbed a chair or beer mug with which to kill Felix. One actually managed to grab a spear. The last one tried for the window, but was so drunk he couldn’t open it.

The carnage began. Blood flew everywhere. Unsurprisingly, Felix emerged unscratched.

We had taken over the dam!

Nakumanu immediately took off with a Fly spell from Donald, and headed to burn down the orcish capital. Donald turned into a bird after casting a Fly spell on Cassian, and they took off to the other dam. Balinor and Bogomel were posted as “guards” on the palisade. The rest of party set up shop and began to play some cards.

Donald and Cassian reached the second dam and discovered a slightly uglier situation. There were six guards spread out at very large intervals on the dam, and a cabin once again. The plan was simple—Donald would Sleep the cabin and hope that got everyone in there. Cassian would Hold three orcs and then began Commanding and attacking the next and Donald would Sleep and Magic Missile until they met in the middle.

Donald dropped his sleep, which took out the cabin, and another that took out the first orc on the dam. Cassian successfully Held all three orcs and moved on to descend behind the next one, which had failed to notice anything. She dropped it with a Command and then realized that she couldn’t kill it directly, and so sat over it shooting arrows until it died (which was rapidly).

Donald descended behind the last one, which had also failed to notice him. The buff wizard decided to have a little fun and drew his dagger+2. In the event, he managed to completely surprise the creature and took him down with two quick hits! Let’s hear it for Donald, master warrior!

Donald and Cassian passed in the middle, and Donald began to kill the Held orcs while Cassian was supposed to stand near the entrance to the cabin in case any orcs were awake. This proved to be difficult…

The door burst open and four orcs came out yelling. Cassian Held the first three, but the last one turned to reach for an alarm cord. Cassian managed to shoot him and drop him before he could do so. Then she fired all but two of her standard arrows in an attempt to kill the three Held orcs. As one of them had resisted Donald’s Sleep spell, it became obvious that one was much stronger than the others, but Cassian neatly killed them (leaving one like a pincushion) as Donald arrived from his bloody work.

The Plan was then implemented. Donald turned into a burrow worm and began wrecking the earthworks as Cassian Lowered the water for him. Although he encountered more a bit more difficulty then he expected in doing so, Donald was ready and Cassian let go of the Lower Water spell.

The results were spectacular as the waters rose high up once again and surged through the cracked earthworks, breaking the dam and sending a huge wall of water onto the marshes below.

One down!

Nakumanu, meanwhile had laid twenty-four fires all over the capital, and the place was blazing nicely as he left it behind.

The party reunited back at the first dam to complete the devastation. Cassian Lowered the water a second time and Donald wrecked the dam again, again encountering some resistance. Kain cast a Plant Growth and then dispelled it, further weakening the dam.

Finally, we were ready. Cassian let go of the Lower Water, and… nothing happened.

Uh oh.

The dam would clearly go within a few hours, but it was holding for the moment. Instead, some water was pouring over the top of the dam, which would be noticed in the village, as the water levels rising during the dry season would not be an expected event and would be sure to cause a panic and mass evacuation. We really wanted the orcs in the village for the disaster, so we thought.

Finally, Cassian came up with an idea. Cassian flew to the dam, attached ropes to a rock, and we pulled. With Kain’s help she selected a rather critical rock, and we yanked it out.

The dam exploded. The tidal wave of destruction washed toward the unsuspecting orcish drydock village.

We didn’t stay around to witness the effects, and headed back to the spire. This turned out to be fortunate, as Morgan was contacted again soon after. With Felix ESPing, we discovered that the contact was from Illic the Grey, who warned us that they had been so successful in their mission that the navy was chasing them and they would have to pick us up at first light.

We were supposed to meet on the docks invisible, which could just barely be done by Donald, who immediately went to sleep. The party moved the gold and elemental radiance bricks down to the lower levels and piled a mixed set on the party members. Illic said that he had a containment device for a quick transport.

As the night began to wane, the party activated the lighthouse to complete the illusion of haunted ruins to scare off any orcs. When dawn broke, the party was standing out on the beach with Chiaro, Felix, Morgan, and Cassian carrying radiance bricks. This proved particularly special as the first rays of dawn hit the invisible and hapless Chiaro.

The radiance bricks Chiaro was carrying exploded violently. Chiaro then failed his saving throw, and once again became “Charro” as he was dropped to an immediate near-death state. The explosion blinded Balinor, Kain, Bogomel, and Nakumanu. The only reason Chiaro was still alive was the red cloak he was wearing that we had taken from the room with the gate!

Donald leaped at him and began a desperate healing check, which proved ultimately successful, leaving Chiaro incapacitated and badly burned around the eyes, but alive.

Now that three party members were visible, the two orcish boats began heading vaguely toward the shore to see what had happened. Kain threw his bricks as far away as possible, and the bricks not in bags also exploded safely away from the party. The problem was that the remainder of the bricks (gold and radiance) were stored just inside the double doors. We had opened the doors the night before and discovered that floodlights were activated in front of the doors as they opened. The crab golems didn’t attack, surprisingly. Of course, the ships could see that and we quickly shut the door.

Now, the problem was that if we opened the doors, all the radiance bricks would explode. We weren’t sure what to do. The boats were approaching and we were exposed on the beach.

One of the boats fired a ballista shot at Cassian, but it sailed harmlessly away.

Then the other boat was suddenly covered in a green cloud and split in half. A longboat descended from nowhere and began rowing toward shore. The other ship turned away from the shore to observe the new threat, making it the unfortunate recipient of a huge gout of flame, lighting the sails and several crew, and bringing the ship to a halt as enemies descended on them.

The longboat rowed to shore and Illic got off along with several men. We explained the situation to him and he lent us a Potion of Flying to get inside the complex from the other side and prepare the gold bricks for transport, but dropping them into Illic’s portable hole.

Overjoyed, we did this, and stacked the radiance bricks in front of the doors so that if the orcs open them during daylight, they will receive a last little gift from us.

The party got in the longboat, and saw a flying carpet take off from the ship just as the party arrived. Chiaro had Cure Critical Wounds cast on him by Lupus, the ship’s name level cleric. The party regained its vision and remained on deck, while Cassian helped Raise Winds to get us out of there faster. About ten minutes later, Dunstill arrived on the flying carpet and told us that the destruction was obviously devastating and congratulated us.

Apparently Dunstill and Illic had been surprised that the conference had gone so successfully and ended so early. They were forced to take action sooner. As the diplomats bearing the ceremonial standards shook hands and prepared to get on the ships, Dunstill and Illic appeared and attacked the docks, killing the entire upper hierarchy.

So the mission was a double success, and we caused severe damage to the orcish infrastructure (although the sheer number of low-level shamans remaining in the temple village will make the water loss less important). However, we destroyed the entire shipyard and killed almost 2,000 orcs! We also ruined their food supply and hopefully will force mass abandonment of the island as well as numerous power struggles among the middle hierarchy.

Unfortunately, Chiaro had not escaped unscathed. Though he avoided really nasty damage (like permanent blindness), he lost one strength point.

We sailed back into port at Teft to negotiate items. Dunstill and Illic offered us some of their items in exchange for some of the stuff we had found and we achieved what we believe to be a fair split.

The two coolest items we gave to Dunstill and Illic. They were a suit of armor AC 3/3 that can be worn by ANY class except monk! However, it has a spell failure chance and weighs 450 coin weights. It is ideal for a strong thief, and we didn’t have one, so we traded it. The other item we gave up was an Amulet of Wizardry which once a month doubles a wizard’s 1st level spells. The vampire’s evil staff was destroyed. The eight radiance bricks we took were given to Illic. The Protection from Ghouls scroll was given away in salvage tax.

In return, we got these benefits:

We paid no salvage tax at all.
Almost 29,000 gp.
Scroll of Dimension Door, Run
Potion of Invisibility
Potion of Water Breathing
4 sling bullets of Explosive Force
Bracers AC 6/6
Spear +1
Ring of Protection from Evil (once a day, at 12th level)
Ring +2/ +4 on saves
4 hellhound skin cloaks (protection from fire, radiance, etc.)
4 “welding glasses”
The weird stone pendant

The weird stone pendant detects as good and evil, lawful and chaotic, and neutral. It is clearly intelligent and is looking for an owner.

A Commune spell asking whether it would be a good idea for Morgan to use it failed completely due to some sort of future prediction problem.

Dunstill and Illic said their goodbyes to us and we split up.

Experience points were very uniform, with Bogomel picking up 1000, Nakumanu getting 2000, Albee 4000 and everyone else between 5000 and 5500 XP.

Balinor trained to 7th level in Barnacus, gaining 14 hp to stand at 70!

However, as the end of his training grew near, so did Balinor’s 40th birthday. The apparently extreme wear and tear from oh, six or seven different level drains broke Balinor’s body down a year before it might be expected. This had little effect on attributes in general (strength went from 18/33 to 18/17 and con went from 18/65 to 18/33). Balinor became even UGLIER (comeliness 5!). Though his hair inexplicably failed to go gray or fall out (the ring of heroism’s lack of hair mussing ability, maybe?) Balinor put on 18 pounds of fat, bringing him up to a nice sprightly 282 pounds!? Finally, Balinor developed an intense hatred for something, as yet undetermined (ideas include: silverwear, kids, thin people, etc.). I still have to think about that one.

In December of 2182, we spoke to Augman about the pendant. He managed to discover the identity of the item. When held in the fist, it assesses the holder, and either rejects them doing large damage and nearly killing them, become just a rock, or likes them and stays around them and pulses when danger is near. The story went that when the party was about to be killed, suddenly they were no longer in danger and a huge diamond was found in the pocket of the holder of the pendant. The pendant had vanished.

Apparently they reappear randomly and have showed up in very strange places.

Felix was having severe difficulty concentrating on the conversation and went outside for a moment. Augman said there was no way the pendant could do that from inside the box and we became extremely worried.

Peacemaker reported that he could easily take Felix over. Apparently, Felix had become stupid! (his intelligence was 7)

It had happened over the past several weeks. Peacemaker hadn’t noticed as they had been fishing a lot.

We checked out everyone, and it appeared that Felix had a large amount of lice in his hair, and Chiaro also had a few. Still, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them, and neither could the Nevronian Church, who received a tidy sum of money for a useless Cure Disease spell (we didn’t want to wait for a spellshift). We were forced to do so anyway, and Cassian went for Remove Curse and Cure Disease. Chiaro got Detect Invisibility and threw it.

There were about ten weird orange bulbs on Felix’s head, out-of-phase with us. We had no way of harming them with weapons. We also got a mirror and discovered two on Chiaro’s head! Chiaro’s intelligence had only dropped one point (to 16) so we hadn’t noticed.

The problem had intensified on Felix recently, and we now saw why. Apparently they were in the process of reproducing! We looked up the things in the Bestiary and found an entry on Cerebral Parasites, which fit the description. Fortunately, as they were extra-planar a Protection from Evil spell threw them off the two party members and sent the beings into the air, slowly phasing farther out.

Though Chiaro recovered in five days, it took Felix several month to fully recover.

We were then reminded of the vampire’s statement to us on the first day—“Bugs in your hair,” he had said, pointing to Felix. He had also made comments about oranges, which could certainly refer to the things.

Given that the vampire saw them, either he created them, or we had obtained the earlier. The Bestiary entry said a lot about the creatures’ attachment to psionic beings, so we figure Felix contracted them from the dark dwarves! Which could mean they are being hosed badly right now!

We leave the party at beginning of 2183.


November 01, 1999

Defenders Summary #71: Be Vewy Vewy Quiet, We’ah Huntin’ Vampiahs

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
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
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Donald, 7th level mage, 37 hp, NPC
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 4th level illusionist, 8 hp, played by Aaron

We last left our valiant Defenders of Good healing wounds and scouting the orcs.

In accordance with our plan, we agreed to blow day 4 and 5 on exploration of the ruins, pending results of course. Among other things, we really wanted to kill that vampire once and for all.

First we checked out the weird spire (which stood about 100 feet up, by the way). We entered through the main door using the Passwall cloak from Orc Isle and found ourselves in a room with four statues of something like steam, lightning, and some other elements. The reason I don’t remember is that this was probably a riddle of some sort, but we never figured it out. Light flickered on and off in the room like a strobe, a phenomenon we had also seen on Orc Isle.

On the floor and ceiling (15 feet up) was an asterisk symbol about 10 feet in diameter, which we eventually hypothesized would unfurl into a spiral staircase, presumably upon solving the puzzle of the statues. Oh well.

There being no exits, we poked around and discovered that the asterisk in the ceiling was some sort of illusion and it was possible to climb up to another floor. We threw a grappling hook up and climbed. Up there we discovered a whole new room with about a thousand weird glowing bricks of all colors stacked in the corner. There was also a staircase leading up and a door with a single rune on it that Kain identified through Runic Literacy as an abbreviation for something. Great.

Kain put his hand on the knob of the door, when a voice said something in a weird language no one spoke. He took his hand off the knob. We shrugged and went up the stairs instead.

There we found another room with an asterisk on the ceiling. We climbed through and reached another room, this one with the ceiling about 60 feet up!

Weirder than that was the presence of three, well, exercise bikes near one of the walls!

Also, a forty degree arc of wall was one-way transparent to the outside, allowing us to view the shore and sea easily. These islands are SO weird.

Seeing little else to do, we peddled the bikes. One at a time at first, and they made a clicking sound. Then we tried all of them simultaneously and the sounds blurred and suddenly there were noises from overhead. We stopped and so did the noises. We tried again, and something happened up there.

We stopped and noise continued for several minutes before stopping.

Since the bikes were elf-sized (or half-elf) this meant that our best climbers were also the best bikers. Leaving Balinor and Felix and Nakumanu to hand peddle them, Cassian, Morgan, Kain, and Albee went up the grappling hook to the high ceiling (using the Ring of Featherfall for safety). Reaching the top they discovered that a weird “machine” was standing over the hole in the floor (the asterisk pattern). Around the backside were two panels with handles to open them.

First we tried to peddle the bikes, and the thing began to shift, and a shutter opened and bright light flared out of the front of the thing. It began swinging in a 270 degree arc, shining light out to sea and possibly visible from the orcish drydock village.

“Turn it off!” we yelled, but we couldn’t do anything. A few moments later it stopped.

I should note that the top room was clearly the top (the ceiling came to a point) and the walls were ALL transparent (one-way).

Hmm. We decided to poke around some more. We opened the lower panel and found some sort of grinding/ compressing mechanism with bits and shards of stuff in it (glass, we thought). The upper panel contained three switches all flipped to the right, and a baseball sized diamond held by a mechanical arm that could be retracted by a handle.

Ahhh. We decided that, first of all, this was a weird lighthouse. The gems downstairs probably powered it and the diamond focused light or something. It seemed like a shame to wreck the obviously magical device, but greed and all laws of adventured dictated that we should take the fist-sized diamond.

First, we tested the glowing brick hypothesis. We stuffed a brick (blue) into the crusher and stepped back. Morgan decided that he wanted to see what would happen and so left the door open.

He flipped the switches to the left and the panels descended to the brick. Then a HUGE burst of light streamed out of the compartment. Albee and Cassian managed to shield their eyes, but Kain was instantly blinded and badly burned. Morgan, on the other hand, suddenly turned into a living torch before their eyes! He shrieked and closed the door. The lighthouse began to swing and Kain desperately tried to heal Morgan but couldn’t see him. They got out of the way and put the elf out, leaving Morgan damaged but intact (and he MADE his saving throw!).

The lighthouse began to swing again and Albee made a grab for the door to try to shut the lighthouse down, but was knocked aside by the swinging. He jumped onto the platform and held on, and tried to open the panel to shut off the light. Light streamed out, burned him, and shrieked and shut the panel again.

Felix and Balinor remained happily uninjured downstairs, drumming their fingers and wondering if there was anything they could do. Nah.

We healed up some and the lighthouse stopped swinging an hour later. Well, the orcs probably saw that. Hopefully they’d just interpret it as another sign of the haunting of the ruins.

We camped and healed in the exercise bike room, still plotting to take the diamond.

The four party members assembled on top once again, and Kain opened the door to the upper hatch. The diamond was still there. He pulled the retractable arm back, reached out, and took the diamond.

A section of floor detached itself into some sort of ruby golem and sprang at Kain. The hapless cleric jumped off the platform, but before anyone could interpose, the thing struck Kain, injuring him and immediately turning him to stone! It then took the unaffected diamond in its hand, put it back, and vanished back into the floor.

Cassian Dispelled Kain, and we decided that it was just too much this time.

We decided to spell shift for Polymorph Self so Donald could burrow down to the tunnel below the ground that the mole had indicated to us earlier. In addition, we got Comprehend Languages to understand to door’s rune and a Tongues spell to understand the warning on the door.

The rune was the symbol for danger.

The voice said, “Danger. Authorized personnel only.”

We went in. Inside was a fairly normal looking room with a cabinet and an ominous black curtain covering a section of the room. We searched the cabinet and found four sets of, well, REALLY dark glasses. And four red robes. None were magical.

Morgan, Kain, Cassian, and Felix put them on, became basically blind, and opened the curtain. Some sort of tremendously powerful bright light came out (enough that they could clearly see by it) and they could see some runes around a glowing portal of streaming brightness.


Someone threw a bit of food in wrapping in front of the light. It blackened and drifted backward into the wall.


Well, it seemed we had a permanent gate to the Plane of Radiance. What we were going to do with it… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

We decided to shut the curtain and finish our exploration of the ruins. Donald began digging a huge hole in the ground and we discovered another complex. We immediately noted that one direction linked back to what was probably the large double doors on the beach where we had landed. There were four of our favorite crystal crab golems there, facing the door and surrounding another asterisk symbol. This one couldn’t be used as a hole, but the one in the ceiling led right back to the first room in the spire (the crabs didn’t activate, probably being triggered to the doors opening or something). We felt incredibly stupid and continued our exploration the other way.

First, as we were crossing a corridor two panels opened from the walls and ten wights streamed out of one of them at the back of the party! Cassian and Kain Turned them back, but we needed a plan. So we followed them to their corridor and pressed them against a wall, breaking the Turn. Donald launched a Web, catching all of them!

As the first broke out, Nakumanu and Bogomel met it with spears, followed by Balinor and Morgan with longswords. Using hold-at-bay we managed to keep them back, though Balinor was swung at TWICE and Morgan was swung at once (all missed).

Satisfied, we looted the ten coffins behind the fighting area. We also checked out the other panel, but here the coffins had fallen into the ocean. Three were visible but buried.

Simple math: seven plus three is ten! The seven wights that attacked us on the stairs (and emerged from the water) were the missing wights from this room! The other three were trapped in coffins. We made short work of them by opening the coffins just slightly and stabbing at them through the hole until they died. Well, we weren’t playing fair with the level-draining monsters, but who would?

Continuing down the rest of the passage, we found ourselves at a pair of staircases leading to a catwalk. Under the catwalk was a collapsed section of wall that had partially buried… another bug-eyed statue. We had seen one of these on Orc Isle (with two huge red rubies for eyes and a hideous grin) and hadn’t touched it then. Felix noted that the statue was Chaotic Evil, and we left it alone once again.

We went up the stairs, traversed the catwalk to another stairwell, and found ourselves looking at our worst nightmare. Another small bone statue held by mithril strands lay innocently in the center of the floor of the room, with piles of bones around it.

We had also found one of those on Orc Isle and hadn’t gone near it. We could see that the only exit from the room collapsed within a few feet, so once again our motivation failed and we left the room in piece (though we did note that the statue was type 4 magic).

We were out of options, and a secret doors check of the place turned up nothing. We spell-shifted once again and decided to Stoneshape and chisel our way into the two buildings mostly buried by lava with no apparent entrance to them.

The first Kain Stoneshaped, but recoiled as some sort of yellow gas seeped out of the building. We waited a moment until it disappeared and we found nothing but a small area with a normal stone bench in it.

The second we chiseled. Badly. Hours passed before we finally broke through.

While we were doing this, Morgan felt himself contacted telepathically somehow. He resisted the effect and it vanished. We were unsure of what it could be, though hypotheses of a Charm Person and Contact Other were popular, as well as a psionic attack or contact of some sort. We were unsure as to whether his elven resistances helped here.

We finished digging and discovered a recently slept in bed and a burrowing hole. Something had left very recently, probably due to the racket we were making.

We heard a voice in orcish. Something wanted to talk to us. It claimed that the master of the undead and the orcs were our common enemies and that he could help us find the vampire for a fee of a potion. He refused to let us see him (he threw his voice extremely well and we couldn’t figure out where he was), but he did let us send Kain’s wolf to verify that he was not undead himself, or really bizarre. The wolf reported that he was humanoid and smelled like vines.

Didn’t sound too bad, so we agreed to shut the hole with a Stoneshape, and left some food and a Potion of Gaseous Form and he led us to a snake hole by NOT throwing his voice. When asked if he wanted to leave the island with us, he claimed that we would not take him due to his unusual looks. He said that he made his living by stealing from the orcs. He claimed to have been on the island for five decades. We shrugged but didn’t’ press the point.

When asked if he was the one who tried to contact Morgan, the creature claimed to have no idea what we were asking. It was unclear whether he was just avoiding the question or not.

We dug out the hole with Donald the burrow worm and reached some flagstones, which Donald couldn’t knock out. Balinor used a crowbar to pry the stone loose, attached to a rope. However, the fall of the flagstone still caught him by surprise and the fighter slipped and fell, swinging wildly, nearly knocked Kain down, slammed into a wall and then hung dangling with his head two feet from a huge sarcophagus.

Balinor was hauled back up, though his canteen and crowbar had fallen into the tomb. Suddenly snakes emerged from all over the place. Donald dropped a Web and we torched them all. Finally, Balinor, Felix, Cassian, and Morgan were lowered into the tomb, with Donald, Kain, and Nakumanu watching from overhead with holy water ready.

Balinor pried open the lid of the sarcophagus, and then dozens of spiders streamed out. Morgan shrieked and managed to get bitten by a spider, but no one else was harmed. Balinor turned to find a half-dozen shadows attacking and he ran at them madly. Thanks to his spiffy new hammer, Wrath, Balinor was totally immune to the shadows and began clobbering them! Cassian then turned them, and they disappeared back into a pair of swirling pillars, which we had also seen on Orc Isle, as they generated shadows there as well.

The spiders, and Felix and Cassian were blown up by several flasks of oil but the room was clear of enemies once again. Singed but still healthy Cassian dropped a Slow Poison to make sure Morgan didn’t keel over from the spider bite, but he was too traumatized from the “bugs” anyway.

Balinor leaned over to pry open the wood coffin in the sarcophagus. Inside was a set of equipment with nothing in it! We dumped holy water on it, but nothing happened.

We raised the sarcophagus out of the tomb and into the light (or relative light) of the jungle. We took the equipment out, which included a weird staff with a gem on the end of it. The staff detected as evil, but nothing else did. It should be noted that the vampire’s “bamboo” pole dropped when he went Gaseous after we defeated him the second time, and was discovered to be a non-magical stone pole, made by ripping it from a statue!

We suspected that this was not all to see and we checked for and found a false bottom on the sarcophagus. Down there was ANOTHER coffin. This one contained nothing but a shadowy outline of a humanoid figure, slowing forming in the coffin.


We tried dumping holy water, lighting the thing on fire, and decapitating it, as well as using garlic. We tried EVERYTHING. Nothing seemed to happen.

Finally, we realized what to do. We hauled the box off the to the spire and opened it in front of the Plane of Radiance gate! The shadow vanished, but the evil of the coffin remained, only slightly charred by the light.

Balinor broke the coffin up a bit, but there was still no effect.

So we threw the coffin into the gate. It vanished immediately.

We went back to check out the other coffin, and discovered, much to our consternation, the shadow now forming THERE inside the equipment. Drat.

Rinse. Repeat.

We dragged the second coffin back to the gate and threw it in too. We even searched all the wight coffins, but found no sign of the shadow. We also noted that the tomb was no longer consecrated evil (only the pillars).

We decided to camp and rest up for the final attack plan on the orcs, having exhausted our exploration possibilities. We knew we had missed something (shouldn’t the vampire have a horde of treasure?) but we just didn’t know what to do. We spell-shifted and Stoneshaped the hole shut again. While shifting in the exercise bike room, we noticed that two orcish warships (smallish) were hanging out about a mile out into the sea off the coast. Realizing that there was a possibility of a landing party, we collapsed the hole to the spire complex and continued shifting. The boats didn’t leave, but neither did they approach overnight.

Finally, on the afternoon of day six, we were ready.

One footnote: Morgan was again contacted during the shift. His reaction has not yet been determined….