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January 29, 2000

Defenders Summary #78: Gee, It’s a Good Thing Chiaro Didn’t Make it Back for This

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, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 5th level illusionist, 9 hp, played by Aaron

When we last left the Defenders, they had just defeated one old enemy, the will’o’wisp. Almost immediately, the means arrived to defeat another. The Baron had ordered a one-shot item that removed all scents from the user for about 24 hours. It could be used on up to 8 people.

This gave us the opportunity to destroy the gnolls.

Our interest in the Khargish ruins had once again attracted our most successful thief, Alduin, back to the party. Alduin had gained 7th level and then read the Manual of Stealthy Pilfering in the meantime, gaining 8th level and a total of 39 hp.

[Out of character: The triumphant return of Vic!]

The plan was hammered out after Quentin and Kain scouted in crow form. We found that there were in total about 40 gnolls, an ogre in chainmail, 10 worgs, and 20 wolves. The worgs and wolves were in their forest, a significant distance from the gnoll camp where the gnolls and ogre resided. This was achieved party by having an invisible, silent, odorless Alduin scout the whole place out.

So we decided to split into two groups to deal with the wolves and gnolls. The timing of two groups attack would be done through the massive explosion of a Call Lightning.

(The trick here was that we couldn’t let any number escape without endangering the farmers in the area, so we had to make sure we hit them hard instead of piecemeal.)

The first group was the gnoll assault force, consisting of Kain, Quentin, Felix, Balinor, Alduin, and Albee. The party was in position and watched the camp until dusk, which is when most of the gnolls are in camp. There were 23 gnolls clustered around the campfire, picking bugs out of the air and throwing them into the fire. One of them picked up a really large bug, and threw it in.

Much to his surprise, the fire blew up.

Quentin’s Lightning streaked down and blasted the fire, instantly killing all 23 gnolls and sending the other fifteen or so into instant panic, running for the ogre cave (all the gnolls took 48 points of damage). Felix and Balinor invisibly followed them into the cave and surrounded the unknowing ogre. The ogre took massive damage and died.

The gnolls, wide-eyed with terror, somehow held their ground and faced off with Felix and Balinor, who proceeded to bash two of them into the ground, despite being scratched by the gnolls.

Several had broken and ran from the cave into the waiting arms of the ranged people. Two gnolls exploded in a gory flash as a second Call Lightning from Quentin hit them. The others were shot at by Alduin with his magnificent short bow, Kain with his sling, and Balinor with his crossbow.

Kain Held two gnolls, leaving only a few for the bloodthirsty ranged people. To add insult to injury, Quentin and Kain patrolled the immediate forest for more gnolls and found six of them eating pidgeon-on-a-stick.

They blew up.

Meanwhile, the Call Lightning from Quentin had prompted the other attack, which consisted of a heavily prepared Cassian, Donald, and Morgan. Cassian and Donald were Levitating at the upper tree level, and Morgan was Flying. There were seven worgs and 22 wolves near the den.

At the sound of the other explosion, Cassian slammed five of the worgs with her own Call Lightning (doing an absolutely sad 34 damage—don’t blame Katherine, I rolled it) and only killing two. Still, it looked bad for the wolves, and thing got considerably worse when Donald Slowed all the remaining worgs and a few wolves. The wolf pack took off for the gnoll village, but the Slowed worgs were in trouble. Cassian’s hawk was Silenced by Cassian and was flying over the worgs, rendering their spells useless. Morgan, a Flying and Silenced elf, descended upon each one and killed them one by one with his nasty longsword.

The wolves were headed toward the gnolls camp, and Donald polymorphed into a crow (the world needs another one) and warned the people at the gnoll camp. The wolves reached the gnolls… and began dragging them into the woods and eating them. We waited until they were finished and collected treasure.

There was actually more than the will’o’wisp had. We found about 5000 gp in cash and gems, potions of extra-healing, climbing and three healing. There was also a Wand of Magic Missiles (9 charges), a Brooch of Shielding (35 charges), scale mail+1, a large shield +1, and a Ring of Invisibility. We gave up the shield, the scale mail, and upgraded Donald’s 17 charge Brooch of Shielding. The Magic Missile is eventually headed to Chiaro. The Ring of Invisibility is on Alduin, and the potions were distributed.

About a week later, the Baron informed us that some bandits had settled in and had killed a caravan east of Restenford. Quentin and Kain found them camped about 2 miles east of Restenford, eight orcs around a campfire with the boxes of goods stacked nearby.

The party decided simply to sneak up on them and take them out.

Leaving behind Nakumanu and Bogomel, we took Balinor, Felix, Cassian, Donald, and Albee in an Invisibility 10’, and Morgan, and Alduin were Invisible due to rings on the far side of the camp. The attack would be triggered by Donald casting a Sleep spell. Kain and Quentin were crows overhead.

Donald appeared and cast a Sleep, but we never found out what happened.

Huge explosions went off everywhere, slamming every party member except Kain and Quentin with flames from the ground around us. Although no one dropped (35 damage, two saves for half of half), Balinor managed to incur five fire wounds and was unable to move without extreme damage.

All of the orcs were instantly incinerated.

In the next instant, things went from bad to worse. Apparently the Invisibility hadn’t fazed our adversaries, as they started chucking bad things our way. A halfling popped out of thin air and shot his short bow, nailing Donald and almost dropping him. A camouflage cloaked man appeared and shot a lightning bolt into the air, which WOULDN’T HAVE HIT ANYONE, but came down and slammed Morgan.

Then things became intolerable as someone used a Potion of Half-Orc Control to takeover Felix, despite a valiant attempt from Peacemaker. The sword screamed out to everyone that Felix was going to kill them, but it was too late for the unfortunate Donald. Without giving him a chance to react, Felix swung about and skewered Donald, killing him instantly.

Horrified, Cassian dropped Felix with a timely Command, dropping him in a neat pile on top of Donald’s body. Kain landed on a rock as a crow. Both Quentin and Morgan noticed a mysterious blind that had appeared nearby (and within the last 48 hours, as this area is regularly patrolled). Morgan advanced that way, drinking an Extra-Healing potion as he went, and Quentin landed in that area and began to change back into a half-elf.

Cassian and Kain whirled on the reloading halfling and Commanded him. At the same time, a gnome appeared from thin air and Commanded Cassian. The halfling fell and Cassian stayed up.

Albee appeared and began to finish off the dropped halfling. Kain spun around and dropped the gnome with another Command (thus earning Kain the nickname “Fastest Mouth in the West”). Cassian and Albee were suddenly frozen in place by a Hold Person.

Alduin had snuck around toward the blind, when he narrowly failed to notice the jaw trap he stepped on. He took only minor damage, but black stuff squirted all over his boot, making that part of him visible. It was enough for another unseen opponent to drop Alduin with a Command. A fighter came out of the blind and began to finish off Alduin.

Quentin dropped a Faerie Fire, illuminating the combatants and thankfully finding no additional invisible people outside of the blind (which was now glowing with Faerie Fires as there were FOUR people in there).

Morgan moved onto the roof of the blind and slammed the man killing Alduin, dropping him with his Thunderstruck power. Balinor knocked Felix senseless and downed an Extra-Healing potion, then pulled the Ring of Health off of Felix.

Kain was turning back into a half-elf when another nasty guy in full plate attacked with a staff. There was a flash, and Kain was blasted. Worse still, the guy appeared to be Hasted and disrupted Kain’s Command, smashing him a second time and leaving Kain in bad shape. Desperate, Kain waited for him to miss.

The camouflaged mage came out of the blind and shot Magic Missiles at Morgan, who whirled and stabbed the mage, wounding him as he retreated back inside.

Miraculously, the staff guy missed Kain, who dropped him with his final Command. Kain whirled and dropped three Cure Lights on Balinor off scroll, who had just come up with the Ring of Health. Between everything, Balinor had been restored to 53 hp. Kain was planning to kill the fallen gnome and Balinor was going to mash the staff guy.

Alas, this was not to be as another Hold Person caught both of them.

At this point, the only active people on our side were Quentin and Morgan. Quentin realized that the situation had gone to dire and used his staff that he had received from the Druidic Court as a reward for the Kraken item. He jammed the staff into the ground and began an Entangle as the staff slowly turned into a tree.

Morgan had dropped off the roof and faced off with a longsword-wielding fighter in full plate. The odds didn’t look good, but Morgan made a good showing, whacking the man twice without being hit in return. Alduin finally woke up and tried to hand-off the “juice of goodness a.k.a. healing potion) to Morgan.

Quentin’s Entangle was disrupted by the halfling. Quentin turned and told the treant that had formed to smash the blind to bits and kill everyone inside. The tree moved quickly and began bashing the roof.

The guy with the staff had just woken up, as had the gnome. They both began to get up, when Quentin lobbed a second Entangle, this one successful. It caught the halfling completely, rendering him immobile, and messed up the staff guy in one bizarre way. He had to get up straight, putting him right in line with the Held Kain, his arm pointing at the staff man.

Although he couldn’t move, Kain had one weapon left in his arsenal. The man disappeared and turned into a small fox!

The roof of the blind began to buckle and rubble injured some of the people inside. The mage was throwing darts at Morgan, but missing as the squirmy Morgan had dropped a second man inside. But the longsword man was pressing the elf. Their sparring combat was at the entrance to the blind.

Quentin began a Dispel Magic. Suddenly, it was apparent that our Invisible cleric enemy was IN the Entangle! The cleric downed a potion of some sort and began ripping through it like paper.

Morgan was dropped by the longsword man. In the same instant, the roof of the blind collapsed, killing everyone inside except the longsword man. Morgan muttered, “Held just long enough…” and collapsed.

The treant turned to face the stricken longsword man (who had taken severe crushing damage in the collapse). Alduin backstabbed him from behind! The man was reeling and was pummeled into the ground by the treant, Alduin escaping.

Quentin directed the treant at the cleric in the Entangle, hoping to disrupt his spells. The cleric panicked and tried to use up his items, burning off what turned out to be a scroll of Heal. Quentin disrupted one of his spells with a timely spear thrust.

The treant bashed the cleric into the ground, leaving him bleeding but not dead. The gnome had long ago surrendered loudly and insistently, and the halfling was immobile. Quentin healed Kain and Morgan, bringing them up, and Morgan shot a humming bulb arrow into the air to signal Restenford. When Cassian was freed, she insisted that we save the cleric for questioning.

Well, we got the bandits.

In the end, we had done alright. Only Donald was dead, and he was Raised successfully in Barnacus. From our attackers we got Bracers AC 4/10 (!), a ring+1, a dagger of acid dripping, a scroll of Raise Dead, a longsword +2/+3 and some other items.

We discovered that the halfling and gnome were henchman of this evil party. They were chaotic neutral; in fact, the gnome was a cleric of Dionysus (god of mob rule and parties). But the other two clerics were of the Queen of Grottoes, our old nemesis.

Clearly the encounter had been heavily planned, as many of the items were specially designed for use against us. The lightning bolt, the blind, the half-orc control potion…

In the end, the cleric, the halfling, and the gnome were kept alive. They were questioned, and claimed to have been hired by these adventurers (who they knew were brutal) to kill pirates and bandits. The gnome said they told us that we were brutal, evil adventurers who had mercilessly slaughtered priests of the Queen of Grottoes and Hindus.

In a light note, after the halfling told us nothing useful, Balinor knocked him out with his hammer. Before we ungagged the gnome, Kain told him that he would tell us everything he knew in seven sentences or less, or the treant would bash his head in.

“Greetings, Defenders!” the gnome began.
“That’s one.” Kain grunted. The gnome blanched.

We haven’t fully settled this yet, and I suspect much information will be forthcoming next time.

Joel/Balinor (Cassian this time)

January 22, 2000

Defenders Summary #77: The Defenders’ Traveling Circus

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, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
Albee, 5th level monk, 31 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 3rd level fighter, 31 hp, henchman
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 5th level illusionist, 9 hp, played by Aaron

The party began by resolving some logistical issues. Quentin had reached the court of the High Druid and had given him the Kraken warning item. The Druid believed that the right choice had been made and that the party should not inform anyone of the item’s existence.

The party sharply disagreed in this issue, with the most adamant being Kain and Felix, although they also had sharply contrasting viewpoints with each other. Without going into the details it was generally agreed by all but Felix and Quentin that the very highest levels of the good churches should be informed (highest religiously, not politically). However, there is still disagreement about this, specifically about HOW to do it.

Leaving that aside, we resolved other issues. Chiaro trained and learned Wraithform, and there was a distinct slurping noise as Chiaro paid 4200 gp for Spectral Force. His training didn’t finish until after this game’s adventure, though. Also of note, in this year of 2183, the high illusionist of Koralgesh, Remtran (sp), died, and Lambu (sp) became the high illusionist. Chiaro is Lambu’s student, and as such was given a Philter of Persuasiveness from Remtran’s stuff.

Kain also trained and selected crow form upon attaining 7th level as a cleric of Silban. Kain returned in time to make the adventure that followed.

Finally, some held-back story award was handed out, meaning that Alduin gained 7th level (and immediately 8th level) rising to 35 hp! Also, Vic, if you’re reading, pick out weapon and non-weapon proficiencies for Alduin.

Treasure was resolved and salvage tax was paid in the form of a dagger+1, bracers 7/10, and a scroll of Protection from Plants. We kept the Amulet of Turning Undead, the Circlet to the Book of Infinite Spells, the Urn/ Portal to the Plane of Air, and the scroll of Magic Mirror (which Donald then learned).

We traded to the Portal to the School of Wizardry after Zalk identified it, getting the Arm-a-Armadillo (-1 AC, better sense of smell, jumping ability, look like an armadillo), the spells Fireball and Wall of Fire for Donald, and 5000 gp.

We decided that while we were waiting for Chiaro to return, we should resolve something had driven us (or at least some party members) nuts for years. The will-o-wisp near the old bandit fortress was going down. Hard.

This statement of firm resolve perhaps over-dignifies what followed.

We hired one of Peltar’s students, a stuffy and irritable mage named Filban, for 1500 gp to read scrolls of Magic Missile so that we could kill the super-fast creature before it escaped. But first we had to find its treasure. The plan was to talk with animals and plants in the area and use Locate Object—Coins to find the treasure.

Well, it was that simple. Sort of.

We set off toward the fortress, and on the second day out, about 20 bandits in leather armor came out of the bushes around us and ordered us to surrender.

Balinor, who now looked like an armadillo, immediately yelled, “I give up!” and started flinging weapons to the ground, making such a scene that the bandits didn’t notice the whole party laughing and casting various spells.

First a Sleep spell dropped eleven of them. Six others panicked and froze with horror. Several were Entangled. Three eventually tried to get away and two were Held by Cassian, while the last was running away successfully, or so it seemed. Kain transformed into a crow, flew over fleeing bandits, dropped in front of him, and Commanded him to Die while still a crow. The bandit dropped.

We questioned the leader as to what the heck he thought he was doing attacking a group of people in plate mail with short bows. He said that they planned to run away and have us fall into concealed pits and demand that we give them money. Apparently they thought we were a patrol!

We tied them up and had them fill in the pits while we searched them. We found 200 gp and a dagger with Continual Light on it.

During the conversation, the bandit leader looked at Balinor and said to someone, “He DOES look like an armadillo.”

Balinor sniffed and mumbled, “Got a bad cold.”

Kain flew back to Restenford to martial Brillman and his patrol to come out to the wilderness and haul the bandits back to town. We waited for a day and a half for them to arrive, which led to another bizarre encounter.

Yes, a half-dozen stirges attacked the party at night.

This was getting pathetic. None of them hit, and Felix and Donald were killing them with melee weapons (Donald not deigning to waste a spell). One landed near Balinor, and in what was almost a cool move, without even getting out of his sleeping bag, he picked up his double-shot crossbow and shot it to death. Or at least stable consciousness.

To mess up this coolness, Felix picked up the flailing stirge and dropped it near Balinor, who tried to mash it with his hand. He fumbled and the thing latched on and started drinking his blood. After flailing about with his hand, Balinor finely ground the thing into a fine powder by smashing it against the ground really hard. He then went back to sleep.

Morgan slept through the entire encounter.

The bandits were hauled off by a pleased Brillman, and Filban merely shook his head at our antics and looked pained.

We moved on, reaching the bandit fortress the next day. The fortress now had a thatched roof, which was a sign that we had someone else to clear out. Scouting revealed that there were four sleeping ogres inside and a giant lizard with a spiked collar.

We approached the camp, and to assuage Cassian’s conscience, we threw a Detect Good/Evil at them. One of them actually detected as neutral!

Quentin cast Hold Animal, freezing the lizard, and allowing Morgan to sneak inside and kill the three evil ogres. He knocked the last unconscious and tied him up. We questioned the ogre, who turned out to an ogre version of Bogomel, really stupid and dependent on others for survival. We decided to haul him along with us and see if the Baron could do something with the poor guy whose brother ogres we had just killed.

Quentin cast Animal Friendship on the giant lizard (a skink, specifically) and took it along as well, and we rapidly began to look like a traveling circus.

We began chatting with animals in the area. First we spoke with a bunch of toads who eventually indicated that there was a spring nearby where a “goblin” would occasionally appear and grab toads. We know that the will-o-wisp can appear as small humanoids (we once saw what we thought was a halfling). The thing was also spotted near the rocky hills on occasion (we learned this from talking to a grumpy owl who refused to eat our iron rations).

We began searching the area and found a number of traps in the form of rockslides, sinkholes, etc., each baited with a few coins or a dead body. Locate Object turned out not to work through thick layers of mud and stone, and we were starting to get a little frustrated when Quentin cast Speak with Plants and chatted with a weird bush near the spring area (Balinor had nearly sunk into the mud the first time we’d gone there).

The bush had a soft seductive voice and kept trying to get Quentin to eat its berries, which were diarrhetic, but eventually we learned that something had been buried near its roots about three days ago. A xenophobic group of grasses claimed the same thing and there we found a rodent hole, so we weren’t entirely confident about the bush’s story, but thought we would give it a try. As a side note, Quentin took pity on the grass and moved them to another location.

Balinor, using his armadillo claws and a shovel, dug under the thorny bush, which had a weird sticky residue on some of its roots. Balinor accidentally pricked himself, and suddenly began convulsing wildly. It took Nakumanu and Felix quite a while to subdue the flailing fighter while Kain Slow Poisoned him.

That matter aside, Balinor finished digging while Morgan sunbathed on a rock. Eventually, Balinor uncovered a wooden chest and hauled it out. Inside, we found about 8,000 gp in jewelry and coins. Balinor suggested that we look for a false bottom, and we found one, which contained some papers with names of people who might have lived on Lendore.

We assumed that we had finally found the wisp’s treasure, and decided to spend a night in the fortress to see if we had angered it enough.

We had.

In the middle of the night, with Balinor and Kain on watch, Kain’s wolf Smoky was suddenly burned by something, nearly getting killed! We yelled an alarm, and Balinor swung at the general area, missing.

Donald awoke and cast Detect Invisibility and spotted the wisp at the ceiling. The creature would dart down every few segments and try to kill someone.

This went on for awhile with the fighters missing continuously and Kain and Felix getting hurt. Finally, Felix actually clocked the creature. Our goal here was to keep the thing occupied long enough for Donald and Filban to ready their scrolls and begin rapid-fire Magic Missile.

The spellcasters tried helplessly to affect the creature, but it was immune to almost everything. Interestingly, it didn’t seem to care about Thunderstruck either, which would indicate it isn’t lightning-based.

A Beneficent Polymorph from Kain failed to affect it, hitting the wall behind it. A Faerie Fire failed as well. Kain’s Cure Light on Smoky was disrupted by the wisp. Things were getting nasty.

Donald and Filban were at last ready, and they began reading their scrolls. The creature dove and nailed Filban, almost dropping him and blowing the first spell on the scroll. Donald was luckier and slammed the creature with four missiles. Kain also nailed it with one missile from the wand. They immediately read another missile battery and slammed it with 8 more.

The creature realized it was in trouble and tried to run out the arrow slits.

Donald and Filban fired one last round, and nailed it, and the thing exploded into little trails of ash. There was also a scarred skull on the ground.

There were little wisps of smoke drifting toward the ceiling, and Donald told us to bottle them, as they were worth money. Unfortunately, through bad luck we were only able to grab a small amount in one jar (we tried things like Kain and Quentin in crow form carrying a bag into the air to snag the stuff). Eventually, it drifted out of reach.

Satisfied, we headed back, uneventfully, to Restenford. We had made some money, in any case. The net treasure was probably about 8000 gp.

The papers contained the names of criminals and bandits from the previous century, the Baron informed us while chuckling. Still, the mission was a success, and an old nemesis was finally slain.

The skink will be set up as the house guard by Quentin. The ogre still needs to be assessed by the Baron.

Next time, we’ll begin the Khargish ruins.


January 15, 2000

Defenders Summary #76: Hit ‘Em When They’re Down

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
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Quentin, 8th level druid, 37 hp, played by Jeremy
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 bored, and that meant we had to kill something.

We settled for kidnapping an orcish “priest” or so we hoped. After waiting for a few days, our crack strike team of Morgan, Kain, and Donald spotted a large group burying two orcs that had been executed in front of the gravesite earlier in the day. Kain and Donald were hiding, and Morgan was invisible as he snuck up on the orcs. He spotted a holy symbol on the leader orc, and gave the ok by turning visible. The orcs turned and promptly all but the leader fell asleep, thanks to Donald. Before Morgan could have any fun (he had a Silence spell with him to ruin any screams or warnings), Kain Held the leader, and the battle was over without beginning. We Levitated the orcs and dragged them back to the party.

On the second Charm Monster we managed to “persuade” the orc that we were hired by the orcs to ferret out a traitor in the temple complex. We then discovered that we had badly underestimated the power of the complex. It apparently contains the high priests of all four major orcish religions and would likely have servants of the deities, even though many of the high level priests had been slaughtered by Dunstill and Illic at the harbor during the previous mission.

We decided that this was far too much, and set our eyes on another target. We found out from our orcish friend that the palace, our designated target, had drained most of its coffers replacing the water that had been lost when we destroyed the dams. The water was stored in gigantic barrels (8 feet tall) in two rows in a huge storeroom near the palace. We decided to make their lives miserable by destroying it.

The plan was masterful, if we do say so ourselves. It didn’t work out quite as well as we hoped, do to some bad luck, but in the end…

Kain and Cassian Flew to the storeroom while Balinor, Felix, and Morgan were blown there while Levitating using Cassian’s summoning of winds ability (as a cleric of Phaulkon). This cool method of travel allowed us to have five people present and VERY far above the roof of the storeroom.

Cassian landed on the roof under cover of a Darkness spell and cast a Dust Devil. Amazingly there were no guards outside or anywhere within 500 yards. The Dust Devil was used to correct the trajectory of our missiles: 200 pound rocks dropped from great heights by the fighters and Kain.

The smashes were not as good as we’d hoped (due to grossly incompetent d20 rolling) but nonetheless eight of twelve boulders crashed through the roof and nailed the major portion of the barrels on one side, leaving about 20 out of 110 barrels. Cassian dropped into the warehouse, discovering that there were a number of dead guards under the rubble, and apparently they were all completely drunk, or had been. No alarm had even been raised. We took advantage of this and cast a Control Temperature to freeze 18 of the 20 barrels to the point of explosion from ice, opened the spiggots on the remaining two barrels, and blew up the other half with a Wall of Fire from the Belt, thus totally annihilating the water supply!

The mission was a success, and the Belle Venture arrived and took us back to Carse. Quentin had meanwhile reached the Druidic Court with the Kraken warning system item, and had only needed to dodge an eagle once on the six week trip. Quentin’s fate is as yet unknown.

The party reached Carse and we avoided salvage tax there by chartering a passenger boat to Restenford. The Baron was happy to accept the tax, and discounted us a bit, especially considering that Felix had a baseball-sized diamond, which is virtually unsellable, though priceless.

We Identified our items, finding that we had an amulet that allowed any character to Turn Undead as a 1st level cleric with a –2 penalty. We also had a dagger +1, a scroll of Prot. Plants, Magic Mirror, (I may have forgotten an item here) and a circlet that connects the wearer to a Book of Infinite Spells! (You get spells of any type, and can use them a number of times)

The first spell in the book is Transmute Stone to Flesh (6th level wizard spell). This means Donald can use it once per day at a significant (~20%) chance of the page flipping when it is used.

The other we got was an urn which contained weird creature. The urn was sent to Zalk for identification and was discovered to be, you guessed it, a permanent gate to the Elemental Plane of Air.

We haven’t decided whether to sell it to the School of Wizardry. The offers are 15,000 gp or some really weird magic items including such lovely things as:

Arma-armadillo—Wearer looks like an armadillo, gains heightened smell from elongated nose, long jumping ability, and gets –1 AC bonus.

Staff of the Gnat—1 charge, kill all bugs in the area, or Finger of Death a giant bug of any kind (even insectoid), 2 charges, raise all dead bugs in the area, and 3 charges was really weird, though I can’t remember what it was. Someone remind me!

Hammer, +6 vs. dogs—no explanation necessary

…and so on…

We really didn’t decide this. Thoughts also include Donald picking up Wall of Fire/ and or Fireball in this trade.

Finally, Kain and Chiaro gained levels and somehow BOTH managed to roll 1s on their hit dice, Kain rising to 45 hp, and Chiaro rising to the “kill-me-now” “total” of… 9 hp, at 5th level.

XP for the mission ranged from 7,000 for Chiaro to 18,000 for Cassian (with most party members between 9-10k) and the henchman with 1,000.

The general party concensus, minus Chiaro, is a mission to the Khargish ruins to begin clearing them out.


January 08, 2000

Defenders Summary #75: Wheel of Death

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

This may have been our most disturbing game ever.

When we last left the party, we had explored the overwhelming majority of the lower compound under the lighthouse on the orcish island. We had been sent to the island by Dunstill and Illic to clear out the treasure and keep everything out of orcish hands. Well, we did that, and had some of the more bizarre experiences in our adventuring career in the process.

The first of the remaining rooms that we checked out was the one with the high magic balance with a beating heart on one side and a flame on the other. Behind them were two sarcophagi, one evil and one good. The scale was lawful neutral. The ceiling of the room consisted of stars marking the location as at least approximately here, though something seemed “wrong.” There were cricket sounds in the room.

We were unwilling to fool with the scale, but Balinor and Felix did try to pry open the good sarcophagus in the hope of gaining information. All efforts failed. We have since assumed that the sarcophagi are directly tied to the scale by some powerful magic.

Next we checked out the really bizarre room. There were lizardlike Escher figures on the floor, weird twisty bits of metal on the ceiling, two golems against the wall, and a large book open on the table with weird swirling script. There were many mirrors high up toward the ceiling. Finally, there were a pair of frescoes of a beach, one in day and one in night.

We still hadn’t entirely given up on strongarming our way through, so we decided to pre-emptively kill the golems. We came up with a clever plan where Donald cast a Wall of Ice that prevented the golems from using their huge swords and merely pitted Balinor and Felix one on one vs. the golems’ fists. We would back up the fighters with healing and other fighters ready to jump in.

Felix and Balinor opened the attack by slamming their respective golems. Some sort of Stoneskin type shield effect dropped from the golems. In the same instant, ALL magic ceased in the entire room. All spells collapsed, including two Prayers, the Wall of Ice, Aids, Protections, etc.

The golems then swung their weapons at Felix and Balinor, each inflicting massive damage and wounds and holding the fighters at bay.

With few options, Kain yelled, “Break the mirrors!” Indeed, although the doors and the book had vanished with the first attack, the mirrors remained. It was unclear whether anything we had could now affect the golems, and so Albee threw a spear at the mirror, which developed a small crack. Balinor pulled his double shot crossbow and, ignoring the golem, fired into the mirror, and between those shots and the sling bullets of Kain and Donald’s Magic Missile, the mirror shattered.

The room was instantly restored to its original state and everything was magical again.

We fled the room and healed. With few other options, we decided to have Donald look at the book. Donald walked into the room (using Cassian’s idea of stepping on alternating color lizards) and reached the book. The flowing script was probably an illusion, we suspected, and this was confirmed when Donald picked up the book and began reading it intently. When he didn’t even respond to yelling at him, an ESP from Felix revealed that he was very interested in the book, but nothing more. We waited, checking Donald’s alignment every ten minutes, and let him finish the book.

Seven hours later, Donald put down the book. The statues raised their swords high, and a bolt of “lightning” shot at Donald and struck him. Donald looked disoriented. He was wearing a molten gold robe, which detected as abjuration magic.

Donald explained that he had passed a test and absorbed the leadership skills passed on by the people of the temple. He had learned from the beings and survived. In fact, Donald had gained 20,000 XP and a point of charisma!

And the robe, though we had no idea what it does.

Finally, we decided to check out the frescoes. Cassian went through the first one (after getting bounced out when we tried to attach a rope). She was gone for about twenty minutes.

Cassian found a man on the beach, with a deck of cards. He offered her a choice of picking one, two, three, or four cards. Cassian chose two, and first drew a card with a symbol of gems on it, and then a symbol of a skull. A nasty looking skeleton with a scythe approached Cassian out of the mists that had appeared. Realizing that she faced a minor death!

With few options, Cassian called on the power of Phaulkon to drive the creature back, and amazingly, it worked!

She popped out of the portal, gems and jewelry spilling onto the floor in front of the party. She also gained a large number of XP!

Next, we decided to further push our luck by checking out the night fresco. Felix ventured inside, and found himself facing a man. He asked Felix to what god he intended to swear either kinship, fealty, or leave the area.. When Felix, who has no religious inclination, didn’t know what to say, he was chosen for. Clangeddin, the dwarven god of battle, judged Felix… unworthy.

Felix was given the diamond from Orc Isle I (the big baseball sized diamond that we didn’t touch way back at the time of Kaal Na Ka). Since the diamond was what Felix coveted most, he got it, but suffered a weakness to stone thereafter. He would be really hosed by attacks from stone, or petrification.

Kain ventured in, and found that he was not in a position to need testing. He was deemed “earnest, but foolish,” by Silban. As Kain was not seeking kinship, he was told to leave.

We abandoned that portal further. It should be noted that originally all the frescoes had moving waves of water in them, but the daylight fresco had now frozen as a normal picture. The night one had not.

Finally, we checked out the fresco in the room with the fountain in it. In the fountain had been a being that had answered Quentin’s one question, and Quentin chose to venture through this portal as well. The picture was that of a world entirely of water except for the top of a large disk, with a huge castle sitting on the top. The sky was reddish, and their were TWO suns.

Quentin ventured through and discovered himself near the ruins of the castle on the disk. He saw a being of skeletal appearance, who was deemed likely to be the same being who answered Quentin’s questions in the fountain.

Quentin was in the CENTER of multiverse.

The world, the being said, was lost. The Kraken had all but destroyed it. There was a small amount of resistance, but it was losing rapidly. Quentin learned several things:

First, the Kraken that attacked Telvar were merely foot soldiers on a side trip, effectively. They were totally insignificant compared to the might of the Kraken.

Second, the longer Quentin stayed in the world, the likelihood that he would discovered by a Kraken and followed increased, so the conversation had an edge to it.

Third, long before, the drow (black elves) had come through the portal to confer with this world about tactics used to fight the Kraken.

Fourth, the portal opens VERY rarely, perhaps on a timescale of hundreds of years.

Quentin returned, disturbed. He carried with him, wrapped up carefully, a green object. It would, Quentin said, light up when a Kraken approached, and represented perhaps the only early warning system in the multiverse that could prepare defenders against the Kraken.

Obviously this was of some importance.

Quentin immediately changed into an albatross and set off to deliver the object to the Grand Druid at the court.

Well, so much for the druid in the mission. We searched for secret doors and discovered one set and found a magical good circular object of low magic, as well as a number of rooms that may once have served as living quarters.

We plan to attack the orcish temple through the two-way portal we discovered. This would allow us to inflict additional damage and perhaps capture the orcish spell library, while we wait for the Belle Venture to arrive.

The plan is to capture and charm a low level orc cleric and use him to learn about the traps and layout of the compound.

As I said, bizarre. We played with a nasty wheel of death, and in general, we won.


January 01, 2000

*Alegra/Rangorn* Stone Soules Sequel: Alegra's Company Saves the Roc

Party Roster:

Theo, 8th level fighter, 74 hp, NPC
Rangorn, 6th level woodsman, 56 hp, played by Joel
Alegra, 9th level cleric, 40 hp, played by Kyle
Aria, 5th level cleric, 31 hp, henchman of Alegra, played by Alex
Sean, 3rd level ranger, 29 hp, henchman of Alegra (and Aria's husband),
played by Aaron
Han, 1st level woodsman, 11 hp, henchman of Rangorn, played by Katherine
Luke, 1st level woodsman/reincarnated eagle, 9 hp, henchman of Rangorn,
played by Joel

The advancement of Alegra continues!

The time: May 2187, just after the end of the Brothers' Quest with
Warwick having brought the evil cloud giants to justice, Alegra returns
home to Tan-El to deal with the rebuilding process. Things do not remain
peaceful for long

The great roc that lives in the area between Miles High, Sairt, Middle,
and Kelburn has always been a minor nuisance, not a threat to life and
limb, causing small damage and occasionally carrying off an ox or
something. Recently, however, the roc has attacked and completely
annihilated several caravans, leaving no bodies. A group of powerful
knights were sent from Kelburn to "deal with the problem" and didn't
return. As a first alternative to hiring the Daring Dozen to destroy the
roc, Alegra was contacted in the hopes of resolving the problems with the
great bird peacefully.

The druids theorized that roc had mated, or at least the pattern was
consistent with that of hatchlings. Still, no male roc had been in the
area for any length of time, and mated rocs tend to raise their young
together. The situation seemed suspicious. Was someone attempting to
frame the gigantic bird (the size of a 727)?

In order to tackle the problem, Alegra needed to determine if a fight
would be necessary. She rallied her henchmen followers and was joined by
Rangorn, fresh from the return of the Daring Dozen in the City of the
Gold. Theo stated that he would come if a fight was likely, but not
otherwise, as his duties at Tan-El keep him busy.

First, Rangorn's reincarnated henchman, Luke (Lumpur Kuala) was sent to
talk to the roc and get some answers. He was Imbued with Cure Light
Wounds and Speak with Animals.

Luke flew through the day up to the top of the high mountain where the
roc nested. On his approach Luke noted a large cave with some sort of
avian creatures in it. He continued and found the nest, and waited for
the roc arrive.

As night fell, the roc arrived and dropped food for its "babies." The
little creatures tore into the creature viciously. Ignoring this for the
moment, Luke cast his Speak with Animals and spoke to the roc. He could
get virtually no information before absolutely everything went completely
and hopelessly wrong for Luke. The roc seemed confused and stupid, and
Luke soon found out why.

The "babies" looked up and had humanoid faces twisted in hate. Luke
turned to fly away when a horrible song rang out and held him
enthralled. He watched as the harpies circled and attacked, injuring
Luke. Blowing two more chances to break the charm, Luke took damage and
was temporarily saved, and cast a Cure Light Wounds, reviving himself.
Alegra knew that Luke was in trouble from the spell, but she could do
nothing. Luke attempted to fly but was instantly enthralled again. He
was attacked, twice more, and spiraled out of the sky. He could have
landed smoothly, but failed to do so and nearly killed himself landing.
His final chance was to evade the harpies in the rocks, but he picked a
bad spot and they descended upon him.

Theo instantly knew of his death from the Locket of Life Detection. He
couldn't have been killed by the roc, as it was much too slow (several
minutes had passed). Something else was there. We realized that the
appropriate information could be gathered by having Dari (the druid of
Middle) scry on the area. So Guile (Alegra's hawk) dropped Dari's item
in the nest, and Dari discovered that there were at least seven harpies

This required a mountaineer, and fortunately, Alegra had two: Sean and
Aria. The plan was to climb the mountain in three days, hide from the
roc by virtue of Invisibility on the non-mountaineers, and attack the
harpies under cover of Silence spells and fog summoned by Alegra's
Weather Summoning spell. Our ears would initially be stuffed.

Well, the climbing was nearly fatal, as usual, for Rangorn. The first
day resulted in a close call, and on the second day Sean was attacked by
a snake that he fought off with Aria's help. On the third day we
discovered that Luke had in fact spotted a griffon nest containing at
least a dozen griffons, which we completely avoided without hesitation.

We camped in a cave four hundred feet under the nest of the roc. We
turned visible, and camped for the night. We used all of our 2nd level
spells to climb to the top under Silence. However, the danger was not
over as Rangorn was nearly plunged to his death by a mistake by Sean.
Still, we reached the top and managed to crest the ridge without shaking
the nest and waking up all the harpies. The four fighters (Theo,
Rangorn, Han, and Sean) snuck into position and began to silently kill
the harpies, which was awkward due to the nest.

The area was a complete mess with bits of carts and wagons and ships and
other materials strewn about and built into the walls of the nest.
Everything smelled extremely bad. There were a dozen sleeping harpies.

Initially things actually seemed to go well as everyone slew a harpy.
Then things got really bad again. Theo killed a second harpy, but
everyone else's harpies woke up!

Rangorn stabbed his twice and inflicted good damage and a wound. Sean
held his at bay, as did Han. Theo moved to help Sean, and Aria did not
notice what was happening due to the Silence. On his second swing, Han
missed and was attacked by the harpy, but was miraculously uninjured.

Then one of the other harpies began to stir.

Sean dropped his spear and moved to encompass that harpy in the Silence
spell (along with the remaining four). Rangorn fumbled and was struck
four times by the harpy he was fighting. Han's was defeated with help
from Theo.

Then Rangorn tried to kill Sean, stabbing him with his falchion
Gruntender. Fortunately, Rangorn's harpy was dropped moments later, and
whatever charm had taken over Rangorn disappeared after a moment.

The last four harpies were dispatched in the Silence, and the fight was over.

We searched the area for the body of Luke, but it was unrecognizable in
the general filth. We collected as much as appeared to be valuable. The
only incident of note happened in one of the ruined huts:

Sean picked up a glowing longsword. Suddenly, he unlooped his
Phaulkonian holy symbol, looked around, tossed it to Alegra, and said
something no one could understand in Cloud Giant. Alegra Commanded Sean,
who fell, and we moved the sword away from him.

The climb down was uneventful, and we returned triumphantly to Middle.

Salvage tax was paid. We collected three magic items, but all of them
are very cool:

-Full Plate+1
-Medium Shield+2/+5 vs. missiles, and 20% Magic Missile absorption
-Ascension, +2 Korian longsword (fanatically LG), +3 vs. avians, can
detect elevators, stairs, etc.

Good stuff. We gave Faranyn the full plate+1, returned Ascension to
Kelburn in exchange for recognition of Tan-El (this has not occurred yet)
and kept the Medium Shield, which is at the moment on Alegra's Guard
Captain, Wren.

A successful adventure. Rangorn will, of course, never live it down.


The results of the "Alegra Fest":

It appears that we have been successful. The Roc had to increase its predation to feed
the twelve harpies (its "babies") who shared its nest. It was completely unaware of their
cuckoo-like behavior. After the intrepid adventurers retreated from the Roc's nest in
great haste (to avoid the arrival of the Roc) and spent night in a sheltered cave, Alegra
consulted with Phaulkon. It was clear that the "Chaotic Evil abominations greatly
displeasing to Phaulkon" had been eliminated to his satisfaction. This would have allowed
the very reasonable predatory nature of the Roc to return to normal and achieve the
important goal.

Other notes:
Alegra had thrown a couple of Divinations on the area prior to leaving to investigate it,
in which she had learned though the "holy animals of Phaulkon" were highly dominant,
that "chaotic evil abominations to Phaulkon which were greatly displeasing to Him" were
significant in the area. This allowed Alegra, in consultation with the bestiary to suspect
three main creatures: harpies, manticores, and perytons. We had suspected manticores
(that had coincidentally "framed" the Roc by increasing predation in the area). Though
many possibilities were suspected, the "cuckoo hypothesis" was novel to us until our loss
of Luke and our scrying on the site. Alegra had in her possession several trinkets which
had been previous "memorized" by Dari, back in Middle, for scrying purposes. Alegra
had Guile drop one into the Roc's nest, and Dari observed at least 7 harpies in her field
of vision. (Alegra and Dari communicated with birds and the Messenger spell.) And
Alegra was actually picking off rousing harpies when the fighters couldn't reach them fast
enough. She picked off the one which charmed Rangorn so that he could be useful
again. We managed to kill the harpies very quickly, considering. The search of the nest
had to be cursory, but it was overall reasonably successful.