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April 22, 2000

Defenders Summary #87: Bargaining with the Demon

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 (50) hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 (52) hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 8th level cleric, 51 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 9th level druid, 44 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 4th level fighter, 41 hp, henchman
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic (Dave this game)
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Albee, 6th level monk, 37 hp, NPC
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 6th level illusionist, 12 hp, played by Aaron

We last left our party having explored most of the upper level of the
Horn of Iguilve cavern. We decided to have Quentin cast Commune with
Nature on the lake to identify passages and trouble spots, including
predators. We discovered that the lake was full of elemental earth silt,
contained a nasty and very large snapping turtle, and that there several
streams leading out.

The snapping turtle was avoided with Locate Animal spells (being
invisible it would have snuck up on our intrepid explorer/fishbait and
killed him otherwise), and we found about 10,000 silver pieces. Whoopee.

Well, after exhaustive search, we had found little in the lake. We
checked out one of the streams, but something weird happened. The first
party members down the stream were overcome and fled from it, while some
of the others were able to remain but itched wildly and found the water
hideously unpleasant (they were Waterwalking).

Eventually we cast a Detect Magic and discovered a weird bubble of magic
in the bottom of the stream, in a 15' radius hemisphere. We determined
it must be some sort of fear effect. Cassian Lowered the water and
uncovered a genie, encased in some sort of shell, radiating fear.

The genie did not detect as evil (Chaotic neutral, in fact), and we
decided to free it with a Dispel from Cassian. This was successful, and
Cassian, Quentin, and Donald spoke with the being. It was haughty and
arrogant and of course laid down the usual threats, but eventually turned
out to be relatively benevolent, or at least unconcerned with us. It was
really angry that the original creator of the dungeon had sealed it here
with the help of four earth elementals, all of whom had ganged up on the
poor thing.

It thought the elementals might still be there, and it really wanted to
waste them, but we didn't know where they were. It thanked us (at least,
it didn't insult us) and disappeared.
We shrugged and moved on.

We were out of options, so we spoke with the "Ecks" in the corridor at
the beginning of the dungeon. This time we didn't bring a light, and
they were happy to speak with us. We proposed our plans of dropping the
ceiling on the guardian creature, and they thought it was really cool,
but wouldn't work. It turns out that the entire dungeon is virtually
indestructible, resisting fully Stoneshape and Transmute Rock to Mud, and
any burrowing creature. Only elemental earth creatures can affect it
significantly (though Peacemaker chipped the wall slightly).

They said it would be a 20 year project or so. We thought about it, and
told them we'd get back to them.

They told us we could bribe the guardian monster, but that only 3 of
maybe 15 adventuring parties had returned from down there (the last was
Ranore's, according to their sense of time).

The other interesting tidbit we learned-- the earth elementals are where
the "Antechamber to the Garden of a Thousand Delights" was. DOH!!!!!!!
We ran back to the river and yelled for the genie, saying we had his
information, but we couldn't get his attention. Oh well. Maybe later.

In any case, we were left with few options. We decided to bribe our way
past the many-headed guardian monster. The last time we had encountered
it, we had run, and it had yelled, "Come back, dinner!" as we fled. This
time, we determined to dump 1500 gp (or was it 1000 gp) in front of it

This worked! The thing even had a funny line about how we should go
quickly before its unnecessarily haughty demeanor required it to kill us
(or something along those lines). We went past.

Down we descended, perhaps 500 feet in altitude, and a half a mile in
corridor. We reached the lower levels, and here the walls were type FOUR
alteration instead of type 3. Otherwise, more cavern.

We think we spotted the poem that had so frustrated Ranore's group
before, and avoided those doors, believing that to be the way to a place
where all the treasure had already been looted. Instead, we wandered
around the caverns.

The first thing of note happened when we walked around a corner and
spotted a greater demon statue. It was holding some sort of chest.
Felix and Donald entered the room, and it animated and spilled the chest
onto the floor, dozens of magic items landing all over the place. It
said to chose one and leave one.

Overcoming our trepidation, we (Felix) left a Token of Arch on the floor,
and took the type 5 magic rod that Donald had spotted (it was non-evil).
Heck, even if it's cursed, we didn't give up much, and it seemed worth
the risk!

We then left, not wanting to push our luck by trying it again.

After more wandering, we reached a room with four portals, each of which
appeared dark from inside the room. Felix and Morgan walked in, but when
they tried to walk back, they found themselves coming out one of the
OTHER doors. After a few attempts of this failed, we tried guiding them
with rope. The first time, Morgan crashed into a wall and hurt himself.
Then they shut ththeir eyes and were guided, and this time they got
free. Weird room.

Finally, we rounded a corner and were breathed on.

By a mutant basilisk with wings.

Quentin and Albee immediately turned to Stone. Felix and Morgan charged,
yelling and hit the invisible cloud of poison around the creature.
Morgan dropped dead instantly, and Felix felt burning in his chest.

Cassian dropped her Dispel, and she and Kain began lots of Slow Poison
spells. Balinor skidded to a stop and fired his new repeating crossbow.
Alduin climbed up the walls and planned to drop on the creature while
holding his breath. Donald slammed it with Magic Missiles.

Felix stood against the monster, and hit it once. It struck back with
three claws, swiping Felix twice and he dropped dead.

This left Kain standing in front of Morgan, the only target for the
monster. At this moment, Alduin fell from the ceiling, jabbing a dagger
into the thing's back, but having his breath blasted out and inhaling the
gas. Fortunately, Alduin lived and rolled back to the side.

Kain dropped a Slow Poison on Morgan and he stood back up. Cassian
Slowed Balinor, and Kain Slowed Felix. Felix and Morgan, with a second
Magic Missile from Donald, killed the thing before Balinor ever got
there, including a powerful Thunderstruck from the elf.

Cassian dropped a Dispel Magic just in time on Quentin and Albee, freeing
them from the Petrification just before it became permanent!


And there was treasure.

We didn't find out what it was as it was 2 AM.

Next game is currently set for 3 weeks later, when we reunite at Cornell.


April 15, 2000

Defenders Summary #86: So Where’s the REAL Treasure?

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 (50) hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 (52) hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 8th level cleric, 51 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 9th level druid, 44 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 4th level fighter, 41 hp, henchman
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Albee, 6th level monk, 37 hp, NPC
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 6th level illusionist, 12 hp, played by Aaron

We last left our party flailing about the Horn of Iguilve, shoveling bat guano and stirge guano and just about every other disgusting thing you can imagine.

We checked out the remaining passageways before looking at the lake, but nothing was found. The dwarf we had defeated had a number of magical items including a magical cloak, which is probably where his wings came from. He possessed several weakly magical evil books, which turned out to be his journals, though we still have no idea why they are magical or evil. The journal revealed that the dwarf had been exiled from his community and wandered for awhile before ending up here, passing by a large monster that breathed fire. He also had a powerful magical non-evil tome, and two Auguries revealed little on whether Quentin should read it—the first failed and the second went something like: The flashing fish moves swiftly through the rapids unless he is a carp. What the heck?

We also found a repeating light crossbow (half speed)! Balinor is using this. The first six bolts are poisoned, and the current agreement is to fire them in this dungeon and get rid of them afterward if any remain.

We put the book away for later identification. Next, Quentin explored the lake as a crocodile, finding several other beaches and streams leading out of it. Every so often something would fall from the ceiling near Quentin, splash into the water, and sink like a stone, but there was little Quentin could do about it. It seemed that these might be the “ceiling slugs” from the journal of the dwarf, who encountered them when flying over a lake on his way here.

One of the slugs finally caught Quentin on his way back to the party, impaling him and wounding him. Quentin swam back, and Morgan pulled the slug out of his back, but not before the slug bit Morgan on the hands. The slug was killed in short order, and pulled out of Quentin.

Using a Flying Felix to clear out the piercers/ceiling slugs ahead of us, we Waterwalked under Cassian’s power to the other beaches. One beach led to a nest of cockatrices, which were defeated in short order after being Webbed by Donald. The rest of the party actually fired missile weapons and killed them before they could get out, although Bogomel contributed heavily with his spear.

Down another corridor we were extorted by some xorn (creatures that can walk through stone), though all they got were some of the thousands of silver pieces we had been accumulating. They also gave us some tips like: avoid the flaming monster with the heads, or you can bribe it for extreme amounts of money. The xorn lived in what was referred to as “The Gem Room,” which should give some idea of how tempting it was to ignore their warnings, but we stuck to it for now.

We headed down one of the swiftly flowing rivers and found a natural bridge, and then a manmade bridge. On one side of the bridge were two corridors—one led to the many-headed beast that spoke in many languages, which we ran away from at the sight of it. Just to note, the room with the many-headed beast contained all sorts of stuff, with weird colors and gems and other features that I can’t describe well from memory.

Down the other corridor, we came to a place appearing idyllic in nature. There were fine rugs and pillows and bowls of fruit and the works. There was also someone there. He claimed to welcome us to “The Garden of a Thousand Earthly Delights.” NOT “The Garden of TWO Earthly Delights,” mind you. One would never get bored, and would sacrifice only fame for a life of eternal bliss. Several party members wanted to go in, most prominently Morgan, Quentin, and Alduin. Several party members felt that the trade-off was bad: Felix, and Albee. Others were neutral. Balinor and Cassian didn’t believe the place was real, and were so dubious that they left. Balinor stuck his hand in a bowl of fruit, attempting to disbelieve it, and got his hand smeared with banana.

However, upon leaving, Balinor sniffed the “banana” and discovered that it smelled more like… oatmeal? It didn’t make sense.

Quentin engaged in a philosophical discussion with the caretaker of “The Antechamber” as the place was referred to. In the end, Quentin decided that he could likely return upon retirement if he wished, and the place would probably still be open, though “it could not be guaranteed.”

The party left and checked out the other corridors, finding little outside of one final dead end: one of the small streams lead to a cavern that had no landing outside of an entire island of gems. We stared at it suspiciously, and Morgan tied a string to a cup and began reeling in a few gems, when a loud booming voice came at us. It warned us to leave (“foolish mortals”) and that though we would be stupid and stay, tough luck, we were going to die, and this was a dead end, blah blah blah….

We backed out and went in again, this time prepared. Kain had a Prayer running, and Protection from Evil, while Cassian had a Detect Lie for the voice, and Donald had a Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Chiaro had Wraithform, etc.

As we began piling the gems into the bags, six undead things came out of the water, and the voice boomed the same thing again, apparently a recording of some sort. The undead things were identified rapidly as Cassian’s strength plunged at the sight of them.

They were the same things we had fought under the Phaulkonian Church (Summary #60), some sort of elder ghoul beings. That time we had a Crossbow of Disruption and had only fought one at a time—this time we had lots of spells. The results…

Felix was paralyzed instantly after a single attack, though he hit his opponent. He was covered for by Albee, and after that no one was paralyzed. Slowly Balinor, Morgan, and Alduin killed their opponents, while Cassian Turned two of them away at key points in the battle. Four were defeated, even more quickly once Quentin joined the fight with his Flame Blade, as did Kain, and Alduin drew his daggers. Balinor was saved from paralysis by one of Cassian’s Aid spells.

The carnage was complete when the other two rose up, and were killed. Kain Removed Felix’s Paralysis, and he was up for the second combat, which was short and brutal.

The gems turned out to be on the order of 1 gp in value, which was reasonable for now, and though the island was not solid gems (only about a few inches thick in gems), we still found several thousand and carted them off. Donald suggested that the REAL treasure might be somewhere else, and we searched under the water with Waterbreathing spells, and this revealed a small cave with lots of gems and gold and other stuff.

Clearly, we don’t the ability to carry all this and move fast, but we’re accumulating stuff!

All that remains now is to pass by the many-headed beast or the Ecks (pech?) of the original six corridors. The lower levels of the dungeon are dangerous and lie beyond the beast, so we hesitate, but we will have to decide this.

The Ecks may be pleased to receive all these mineral gems.


April 08, 2000

Defenders Summary #85: Morgan—Not So Squirmy?

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 (50) hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 (52) hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 8th level cleric, 51 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 9th level druid, 44 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 4th level fighter, 41 hp, henchman
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Albee, 6th level monk, 37 hp, NPC
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 6th level illusionist, 12 hp, played by Aaron

We had last left our party staggering around the Horn of Iguilve. The mashing continues!

The party continued to explore the dungeon, and I’ll hit the highlights. First up, in a second mushroom forest, we noticed a crack in the wall with a mummy like being in it, not moving. We had no time to absorb this, as the much of the green slimy stuff on the ceiling suddenly fell on Morgan, Felix, and Chiaro!

Complete catastrophe nearly resulted. Chiaro’s right arm began to melt off, as did Felix and Morgan’s heads. Quentin sprayed water all over Chiaro’s arm, but this only strengthened whatever it was. Soap from Balinor had an even worse effect as the soap began to change into the things, which attempting to climb the wall again (slowly). The creatures were identified as a green slime, which was only hurt by fire. Casting Flame Blade, Quentin and Kain surgically removed the creatures from Chiaro’s arm and the heads of our hapless fighters. Donald then roasted them all with a Fireball.

In the end, both Morgan and Felix lost their helmets. Worse yet, Chiaro’s arm was rendered completely deadened, unable to hold any weight. He can still do spellcasting, but picking anything up is a complete mess for him. Hopefully this can be fixed, but we won’t find out how until we return to civilization.

Meanwhile, Morgan’s elven chain was slightly damaged as well. A temporary fix was made with the unbreakable magic string we have, but eventually this will cause problems. Yet another thing we have to have repaired!

Shaken, we examined the “mummy.” It was completely unaffected by the fire, and we discovered that in fact it was a being encased in crystal. Balinor chipped away at it, and we discovered a magic iron bracer as well as other normal equipment.

In another passage, we thought we heard faint laughing, but a Detect Invisibility revealed nothing. This was in a large room with a “cow” skeleton in the corner. We moved to examine the thing, when once again the ceiling fell on Morgan.

This time some gray colored being had encased Morgan, slowly suffocating him. We stabbed it, but eventually stopped when we realized this was hurting Morgan badly. With Balinor’s hammers (which had greatly reduced effect against Morgan) and Donald’s Magic Missiles, we defeated the creature and rescued the barely conscious Morgan (who had used the Ring of Health to survive all the damage done by the fighters).

We identified the creature as a manta ray being, except one that exists in caves. I forgot exactly what it was called. The “cow” turned out to be a large minotaur skeleton. We found significant treasure after Balinor made an extra careful search. That left someone to deal with the unenviable task of searching the pile of feces in the center of the room. This distasteful task had no takers until finally Quentin did it, shoveling some of the stuff in the faces of the arguing Felix and Alduin. Point—druid.

We found five gems which Quentin pocketed.

We left some silver pieces for the “ecks” or pechs, or whatever they were, in one of the other passages. We’re not sure if they’re interested, but what the heck.

In another mushroom room, Balinor was levitated up a cliff and killed eight giant wolf spiders in melee combat, thanks to Slow Poison (though the fight was pretty close due to an early wound dealt to Balinor). And the fact that Balinor fumbled twice and dropped both his magical hammers into the guano below.

The spiders had a noblink body with a lot of treasure, strangely mostly in fire giant coinage and bracelets and such. This question was answered a bit later, sort of…

Behind the spiders was a small passage. Quentin checked it out as a mountain lion and discovered a raging underground river below, but nothing else.

Finally, we had to search all the bat guano and stirge guano. It was a demeaning awful experience, improved somewhat by Locate Object, Cassian’s suggestion. In the crap in the spider room we found a couple of dead fire giants (skeletal) and some stuff, though little was gained. There was nothing but a pair of dung encrusted shovels in the stirge room.

Finally we had checked every passage outside of the one King Ranore had gone down so long ago (the first right). We squeezed through the super thin corridor and then ran back when we spotted a million sleeping bats (literally!). We let them go out, and then we walked past. Beyond them we turned left and a found a strange area, where the river flowed into a lake, and there was a cave across the room. There is a cryptic drawing on our map that Balinor thought might correspond to the room, but it doesn’t work out very well. We left the lake crossing for later.

We went straight up the bat corridor, and were attacked by weird bat eating slug creatures that slid out of the walls and banged into Felix’s shield, then retreated back instantly.

There were several, and they were too dumb to talk to each other, but Kain convinced them as a group to stop it, that we were metallic and inedible. Only one was dumb enough to attack, and it banged its head on a shield very hard.

We passed by the dozen or so sluggies, and reached another set of corridors. Down one of these, something bizarre happened.

A puffball thing jumped from the ground and landed on Felix’s armored leg. He sliced it, and it popped loudly. We turned the corner and saw a large “bed” of these things. Donald shrugged and lobbed a Fireball, and bad stuff happened.

The fireball detonated only a few feet in front of the party, bouncing on something. The explosion did amazingly pitiful damage (only 17 out of a possible 48) and mercifully Chiaro saved and was still standing. We discovered that were Forcelike walls in front and in back of us, and a weird gas cloud was descending on us.

Cassian recalled an old tale about a weird evil dwarf that was served by puffball mushrooms that put people to sleep. This seemed amazingly relevant as sure enough a dwarf sized being with wings flew around the corner and grinned, while the army of puffballs advanced toward the Wall of Force, waiting to kill us.

Well, someone eventually dispelled the Cloud and the back wall, the front collapsed shortly thereafter and the puffballs advanced threateningly. Chiaro dropped a Hypnotic Pattern and suddenly 50 of the 56 puffballs froze in their tracks!

Everyone began spells to hose our dwarf friend, when in particularly bad taste the dwarf dropped an Ice Storm on us! It was a really quick, presumably mental, activation time, and every spellcaster except Quentin lost their spell. Again, the damage was pitiful (6 out of a possible 30) but Chiaro fell unconscious, the Hypnotic Pattern collapsed, and the puffballs began to advance once again.

Realizing that to allow another spell was bad, Balinor shot him with his crossbow but missed. Donald realized that no one could stop the thing, and acted.

Donald activated the Ring of Jumping, springing in the air and smashing full force into the dwarf, whose wings suddenly vanished, and both smashed hard to the ground, taking crushing wounds!

Way to go Donald!

Alduin leaped over the puffballs and charged, as did Albee. Morgan tried to follow suit, but once again the result was catastrophic for the poor elf. Three puffballs latched onto Morgan, and one bit him, and Morgan collapsed to the ground, buried under a dozen puffballs.

Kain lobbed a flaming oil flask, damaging Morgan, but killing his assailants. Alduin stabbed the downed dwarf, nailing him for huge damage and three wounds. Albee kicked himself (fumble), and then stabbed the guy with a spear. Felix and Balinor just gawked at the carnage being wreaked by the thief, monk, and wizard, and realized they probably wouldn’t be relevant.

This was made patently clear when Quentin finished his Wall of Fire, blowing all the puffballs and Morgan to kingdom come, clearing the room. He then dropped the spell and advanced to save Morgan.

Meanwhile, the dwarf stood no chance. He tried to stand up and draw his weapon, but with five wounds this was a painful action. Alduin stabbed him again, and he reeled. Donald decided not to move and further injure himself. Finally, Alduin stabbed the guy again, and he went down, dead.

About ten healing spells brought Morgan up to consciousness, but he was amazingly unlucky once again. The puffball that infested Morgan’s leg suddenly exploded, nearly killing the elf. He was saved only by the pair of Cure Serious spells from Cassian and Quentin. It was clear that Morgan’s leg was all messed up, and Quentin, the walking hospital, used his Cure Disease to fix Morgan up.

Next time, the remaining passages will be explored, and we’ll see if we can rack yet more problems. To take stock:

Felix—cursed, down 20 hp, no helmet
Balinor—cursed, down 18 hp
Chiaro—one mangled arm
Morgan—roasted by his own party repeatedly, damaged elven chain, diseased, no helmet



April 01, 2000

Defenders Summary #84: Go to Exotic Places, Meet New and Interesting Monsters, and Kill Them

Party Roster:

Felix, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Alex
Balinor, 7th level fighter, 70 hp, played by Joel
Cassian, 8th level cleric, 51 hp, played by Katherine
Kain, 7th level cleric, 45 hp, played by Jeff
Quentin, 9th level druid, 44 hp, played by Jeremy
Donald, 8th level mage, 43 hp, NPC
Bogomel, 4th level fighter, 41 hp, henchman
Alduin, 8th level thief, 39 hp, played by Vic
Morgan, 7th level fighter, 38 hp, played by Alan
Albee, 6th level monk, 37 hp, NPC
Nakumanu, 4th level fighter, 30 hp, henchman
Chiaro, 6th level illusionist, 12 hp, played by Aaron

We set off from the site of the devastation of the hobgoblin tribe, whose souls had been lost to the demon, as well as their money and magic items.

That’s a great opening line.

One thing not mentioned last time: prior to the expedition many members of the Defenders got suspicious of Spittle the crow, who continuously turned up evil on all scans. We ESPed him while saying things, and found out that he understands significantly more than it would appear, including at least dozens of words in Common.

We didn’t know what to make of this, and we still didn’t the when we encountered the dwarven party marching down the slopes. They were a huge expedition of about a hundred dwarves in banded mail, including five different standard bearers. We hailed them and asked about dangers up ahead. They laid down the usual “don’t release any demons” warning and told us of a large tribe of a few hundred noblink in the valley that would extort food and money. We told them that a hobgoblin tribe had planned an ambush for them, and they were dead now.

They began to march past, and then suddenly called a halt. A wizened and ancient dwarf wearing a skull cap helmet came forward and asked us sharp questions in dwarven, which were translated to Human by another dwarf (although several members of the party speak dwarven, this just didn’t seem a good time to point that out). He asked about the elves, the orc, what we were doing, etc. Kain explained that we were trying to "help him." The dwarf said sadly, "We tried that with the spiders, and it didn't work."

We trekked past and into the valley with the noblink, prepared for a battle royale. Instead, when a group of noblink appeared out of the bushes (noblink are primitive hobgoblins who look apelike), we realized that we could placate them at absolutely no loss to us, and we gave them the remainder of the day’s Created Food and Water (we had been using that since we got to Cromwell since we couldn’t afford to do otherwise). They snatched eagerly at the food and we moved on.

We then encountered a group of Northerner tribesmen. Balinor spoke with them (he is a Northerner) and we traded them 3 quality crossbow for some useful information. There were wyverns here and we should camp in caves, they told us. They also said that if we laid down an offering to Lludd immediately and praised him, we could get off with half as much loss. They finally said that the Horn of Iguilve was in the same mountain where Lludd lived, though he did not live in the Horn (the cavern) itself. There was also a cave, once occupied by giants, that is no longer occupied by them (instead something more hideous that no has ever returned to tell about).

They also offered shelter at their village out of respect for killing the hobgoblin tribe.

We thanked them and moved on. An interesting note: many Northerners despise the ones that live here, as they work as vassals of the dwarves and farm for them, and are not fully independent.

We camped in caves for the next few days and after a few weeks of total travel in the mountains, we reached the Horn of Iguilve, an almost stereotypical evil dungeon cave. The entrance did look suspiciously like a fanged mouth with eyes. We went in.

Inside was a wide corridor that stretched to a long stairway. We descended into a corridor. To the left was a room full of stirges, which we eliminated with a single Fireball. Unfortunately there was no way we could search the room then due to the level of guano and dead stirges.

Up ahead was a room with six additional exits. There were faces in varying states of sorrow (diseased, sad, grumpy, etc.) above the doors that seemed to move their eyes when you looked at them out of the corner of your eye. Tricks with a mirror revealed nothing useful. The entire place detected as Alteration, and as a trap.

Using our poem (from Kaal Na Ka’s journal) we came up with all sorts of wild conjectures and wasted a great deal of time. Eventually we tried backing into the passages while looking at all the faces. Each time we attempted to go into a passage, all the other faces looked at the nearest face, which opened its mouth (revealing a gem on its tongue) and spoke in the native tongue of the nearest person, saying, “Turn back. This is not the way,” over and over again. When all were attempted simultaneously, the voices said the same thing in a garbled chorus.

We even searched for secret doors on the walls of the previous corridor, and found nothing.

Finally, we decided that there was nothing to do but head through one of the passages. We mapped out the beginnings of a few, and three of them lead to thin corridors, thereby making them less attractive.

One corridor had a number of voices screaming in many languages. We picked out dwarven, yelling, “Shut off the light! You morons!”

We chose first to go down the diseased face corridor. After some turns and other corridors we came to a room with two daggers, a bastard sword, and a battleaxe on the floor. Unfortunately, Chiaro’s Detect Invisible had run out long ago, and so we got hosed.

As Felix entered with Donald behind him, part of the wall detached in the shape of a humanoid and flew at Felix with unbelievable speed. It slammed into Felix, inflicting a triple wound, and nearly pinned him to the floor. He rolled out of the way and Quentin hit it with his spear+1, which had no effect.

Morgan hit it with his longsword+2, which also did nothing. Balinor charged forward and got clocked, but hit it with Wrath, which actually affected it!

The hammer+1 (Maiden Basher) affected it as well, and Kain dropped a Cure Light on Balinor to keep him going longer. Quentin dropped a Cure Serious on Felix, but mysteriously it didn’t heal most of the damage.

Donald cast Transmute Stone to Flesh out of the Circlet and the thing was suddenly softer and hittable by sharp weapons! It was greatly reduced in effectiveness and Felix, Morgan and Balinor cleaved it apart.

Unfortunately, there were two things that happened as a result. The Book of Infinite Spells flipped (on an 07) from Transmute Stone to Flesh, to Magic Mouth. Whoopee.

Secondly, Felix and Balinor’s damage done by the creature when it was stone REFUSED TO HEAL. Uggh. We eventually determined that they were cursed, and that even Cassian was not powerful enough to remove it.

So Felix is now at 50 hp, and Balinor is at 52. By the way, one dagger was magical.

After a spellshift during which hundreds of bats flew out, pasting Felix, we checked out the corridor with the voices. We swapped to Starshine, which is a sad spell that produces a light half as a bright as a dead firefly. It was still enough to annoy the creatures. We learned that they were pech, earth elemental kin creatures that search this plane for mineral wealth. We agreed to go away.

We saw few options and continued exploring. Balinor’s suggestion to touch the gems in the faces was tried, and it was discovered that the jaws were really nasty as they shut. A twig was made into sawdust!

We checked out the rest of the diseased face corridor and completed it. Another corridor led to an area of a mushroom forest, where some toads lived. In a nearby section, we bumped into a troll den, as four of the creatures ran out of the cave, obligingly one at a time. They were easily cut down by Morgan, Felix, Balinor, and Nakumanu (Balinor had the acid dagger and Nakumanu had the regenerator hating falchion). Quentin and Albee helped keep them down while Balinor killed them with the acid dagger.

In their lair were some potions and money, which we took.

We continue the exploration next time!