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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.



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