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Felix Summary #9: Drill Baby Drill

Party Roster:

Felix, 10th level dwarven fighter, 100 hp, played by Alex
Rathbane, 7th/6th level dwarven fighter/cleric (Clangeddin), 54 hp, played by Katherine
Hendel, 9th level dwarven thief, 52 hp, played by Joel
Gates, 8th level dwarven cleric (Moradin), 52 hp, played by Aaron
Donald, 9th level coastlander mage, 48 hp, NPC
Aral, 2nd level Northerner woodsman, 27 hp, henchman of Felix

[Events of 31 Dec 08 – 01 Jan 09 in Manhattan; Telvar date: January 2190]

(Joel’s and Aaron’s first game in over a year, since Superstar! Written mostly on the train from New York to Rochester…)

The very first thing we did was update characters (eyesight, weight, height) and gained XP from the last two sessions, which was something on the order of 6000-8000 for the main characters and something small for the frequently dead Aral). Aral has enough to advance to 3rd level but because of game-world time constraints that soon arose, he remained at 2nd level for the adventure.

A bit of treasure division from last game:

We gave up My Little Ponyslayer (hooved beings – slaying longsword), 2 +1/+1 quality shortswords, dagger +1, and two repeating crossbows. Rathbane is carrying the dangerous three elemental globes, and Felix has the Soul Brooch (that absorbs level draining attacks). With that bit of logistics resolved…

When we last left our intrepid group of ruins explorers, searching for treasures long forgotten and generally thought best left undisturbed (by the non-voting inhabitants of the region) the Party of Felix decided to go into the earthsblood industry.

Recall that the dwarves of the minisicule but unbelievably wealthy fortress kingdom of Arala had hired Felix and company to explore the caverns below to discover what creatures had moved into the ancient dwarven tunnels. In the process we discovered a wealth of partially intact machinery run by an oil-like substance known as earthsblood.

The trouble began immediately when the appearance of this old technology brought up the millennia-old rivalry among the dwaves about technology versus hand-tools (magic vs. technology had been an even older schism that led to the creation of the evil beardless dwarves). Almost all the current Arala dwarves (and for that matter, nearly all dwarves period) condemn technology, believing that it led to laziness and contributed to the downfall of the dwarven empires.

About 2000 years ago, a splinter group of about 200 dwarves from the then much larger but still small Arala kingdom (then about 3000 dwarves, currently 300) found some of the machines in Arala that had been lost and decided to revive the technology and went looking for a source of earthsblood. These dwarves, known as the Kagu, left the kingdom (and in fact were exiled) and disappeared into the depths of a constantly smoking but non-erupting volcano known as
[not sure; Little Tempestuous?] in the Yatil Mountains just south of the Cromwellian border (about a weeks’ journey).

In light of arguments that Felix’s group made in favor of the use of technology, the king used a legal trick. He made a formal request from the sage for the identified materials from the ruins, which would take 90 days to process, thereby giving the party a window in which to explore for more information on technology and earthsblood in general. Despite lukewarm at best support from Arala (the sage was mildly interested), Felix decided that the potential political turmoil this would cause would ultimately fall by the wayside when the machines were back in use.

The party decided to follow the path of the Kagu into the volcano in the glacier and see if there were any remnants of either the dwarves or their machines. The ice had shifted over time, so we knew that the exact entrance would likely no longer exist, but we felt we could explore the area and find a way in.

Given our time constraints we didn’t bother to prepare much additional firepower for the trip (our scroll library was in good shape) and we set off as soon as we could after the king’s request was filed. We left Arala on January 16th, 2190. Happy New Year. Dwarven New Year is very glum.

We flew to the Crevasse in style, using Donald’s elegant /spell flying feat spell (which makes any large flat surface weighing less than 900 pounds fly). We were shielded from the weather with /spell endure cold and hellhound cloaks. Aral was forced to give up the /spell boots of kicking for more applicable crampons like the rest of the party had.

Amazingly we had no encounters on the five-day journey there. We came up on the Crevasse in the freezing fog and began to search for tunnels in the glacier that would originally have been made by a large remorhaz (polar worm). Actual remorhazes are very dangerous to battle because of their tendency to incinerate party members and their magic items.

Almost immediately we spotted three tunnels above the Crevasse floor, with worn staircases built into the ice wall. We decided that the ones that looked the newest were likely frost giant outposts or something similar and thus less likely to lead to ancient dwarven ruins. We knew that the frost giant kingdom was somewhere very deep within the glacier, but they likely had no more than a few outposts in this area.

We sent Hendel up under cover of /spell silence to explore the most damaged/weathered passage. He snuck inside and almost immediately discovered a large number of creatures that had clearly been killed by a remorhaz. He called the rest of the party up and Aral determined that there were no recent tracks. The creatures were a mix of gnolls and frost giants. However, something had clearly been here more than a year ago; the bodies had been looted and partially dug out of the ice.

We continued down the cave and quickly found ourselves confronted by a deliberately collapsed ice wall at the back. Hendel determined that the wall was about twenty feet thick, and the party decided to use /spell wall of fire spells to melt the ice dramatically. The party failed to account for the massive amounts of steam this would bellow into the chamber and Crevasse, and so initially the party was incapacitated from the heat. The second time we decided to use /spell endure heat, which solved the problem. The third /spell wall of fire was sufficient to get us through.

Ready for a fight, the party was immediately set upon by a pair of ice spiders. One of them took a swipe at Gates, but they were dispatched in short order without damaging anyone. In the spiders’ lair was a room full of dead creatures, some humanoids but mostly large rodent-like creatures. The party retrieved 30 frost giant gp.

There were three tunnels leading out of the spiders’ lair. The leftmost branch had had no recent tracks in it and quickly led to a room with a single dead gnoll and a broken door.

The rightmost branch we never actually took. Mysteries abound.

The center branch eventually hit a T. Going left we had to burn through several webs, and eventually reached a large room...

…with a baby remorhaz! Fortunately it was just waking up as we arrived; I say fortunate because as it turned out the stomach took a while to charge up to full heat. The party decided to take full advantage of this. Also on our side was the fact that we were already flush with /spell endure heat spells.

Rathbane drank the /spell potion of stone giant strength and charged forward. Felix advanced and Hendel took a few shots. Gates dropped a spiritual hammer (missing) and Aral nailed it with his mega-crossbow. The thing came fully awake as Donald nailed it with /spell improved magic missile and Hendel and Felix reached the creature, instigating a quite unimpressive combat with four fumbles (including one by the remorhaz) in three segments, inducing two free attacks! Fortunately the creature just wasn’t very strong ( a mere hundred points of damage) and it went down under a hail of blows from Felix and Rathbane in short order.

Hendel’s love of carving open stomach cavities proved beneficial as the party recovered a 100 gp garnet from the worm’s stomach, although Donald blew the alchemy check to recover some components. We also found 230 frost giant gp from the various bodies in the room, some of which appeared to have been killed by something much larger than a baby remorhaz. The 230 gp, for example, came off of the top third of a frost giant. Yuck.

We took the other part of the T and came to a five-way intersection. The two leftmost passages appeared to have been trod by booted giant feet, so we took the first rightmost passage. Eventually it led to an icy cave where the only exit was fifteen off the ground.

This seemed like a simple enough task, and Hendel confidently climbed the fifteen feet and was promptly swallowed whole by a white mouth, and spewed out (thank you /spell ring of bad taste). He tumbled through the air and landed on the ground below (taking 8 points of falling damage!).


This time Felix and Hendel charged up the cliff face ready to attack, when they discovered a large ice toad awaiting them! It was yelling in some weird tongue at the party. We tried various languages, and once again the ever-useful Guardian Naga came in handy…

“Get out of my house.”

Straightforward enough. But Hendel’s ego was bruised. We tried the diplomatic approach. “You owe us some information for that whole trying-to-eat-me thing.”

Surprisingly it worked. The ice toad, despite being antagonistic, told us a bit about the passages. There were apparently several other toads around, and in addition an “air giant.” We suspect that referred to the leftmost passages at the five-way intersection… could it have been a cloud giant?

We also asked if there was a passage to the volcano – it pointed us to the remaining untaken passage from the five-way intersection.

Chiaro shouted from a void: “Find out more about the ice toad!” Hendel suggested to Felix that he try a Detect Evil/Good from Peacemaker. The results were interesting. Felix detected evil, and then was instantly blinded by a flash of movement. The ice toad appeared to blink forward, appear in front of Felix, shove him off the cliff, and then blink back, all instantly. Felix took falling damage.


We decided to leave.

We took the passage and found a downward shaft about 100 feet deep with warm air rising out of it. We dropped a /spell continual light coin to the bottom where it vanished into something. We climbed down as a party and reached an awful stench. It appeared we were descending into a cistern. Was the ice toad messing with us?!

Apparently not. We managed to swing over away from the piles of feces and were promptly attacked by a carrion crawler. Hendel, who was the initial target, sprang out of the way and let it go after Felix, who took one small hit and resisted the paralysis. The creature was killed instantly.

Poking at the pile of feces revealed nothing interesting, including the light coin, which we speculated would be a bizarre surprise for anyone searching the pile.

There were two exits from the bottom, one of which had many tracks, and the other of which had none. We took the tracked direction first.

We soon entered a huge cavern with a finely built citadel in it. It appeared to be of dwarven manufacture, if dwarves were ten feet tall. Hendel was invisible thanks to Felix’s ring, and he snuck forward and spotted, across a huge river of lava, a single fire salamander standing guard. There was no apparent connection between this side and the other. In the citadel were in fact a pair of giant dwarves! Donald had no idea what they were.

We backed off and decided to hold off dealing with these people and headed down the unused passage. The corridor quickly led to a mushroom forest. At this point we weren’t sure which path to take. Which was more likely to yield information about the dwarves? Strangely we decided to walk into the mushroom forest.

As we walked through the mushroom forest we began to notice that various creatures were scampering around the edges of our vision. We decided to camp, and switched to infravision. It immediately became clear that they were giant crickets.

We camped and waited. Eventually a party of giant walking mushrooms came up to us. A single red mushroom came forward and showered Felix with spores. One-by-one they showered each of the party in turn. Gates and Aral deliberately resisted (and only Gates succeeded); the rest of the party let the spores take them, and knew no more. Gates pretended to be taken and went along with the party as the mushrooms marched us deeper and deeper into the forest. Eventually they came to a cave with large numbers of mushrooms that began to dance. The party danced with them and Gates played along until he was starting to get exhausted, whereupon he stopped dancing. He was immediately grabbed by some giant mushroom people and showered with spores that knocked him out.

Gates awoke back at the campsite. He dusted himself off and charged back to follow the party, but found the corridor blocked by two fungus-zombified humanoids and he set off a shrieker mushroom alarm. Thinking of the numerous ten-foot tall mushroom guards down below, he decided to return to camp and await the party. The party appeared about four hours later, unconscious and being carried by mushrooms. About four hours later the party awoke refreshed, and remembered only hazily what had happened.

There had been some communication; the mushrooms discovered what they wanted to know from us (we were not a threat) and told us a very small amount about what we wanted to know, essentially boiled to “we can’t help you” and “find roots in the earth and be happy”. Nevertheless we sensed that the mushroom people were not peaceniks, but in fact quite willing to snuff out the party if they sensed a threat. In any case, they were correct; we were not going that way.

At this point with few other options we debated using detection spells to determine the nature of the giant dwarves, but ultimately we just decided to go with the least deceptive method and simply walk up to them. Felix approached and hailed them in dwarven. He saw a single creature at the top of the citadel who responded to us in a language we didn’t understand. After emphatically gesturing and checking common languages (but avoiding evil humanoid languages), Gates came forward and after hiding behind Felix, cast a /spell tongues spell.

The creatures identified themselves as “Azer.” One of them was playing with a ball of lava in his hands, and Hendel astutely concluded that they were rather fire resistant. We indicated that we wanted information about the area and possibly about other creatures like us that may have passed through. They asked what was in it for them, and Gates offered what he thought was a lowball 300 gp bribe. To his surprise they instantly accepted it and told us that a group of dwarves had passed this way down the lava river (!) in a stone boat that they had built with the Azer’s permission. The fire salamder, whose name was Khalid, was referred to only as “a jerk” but it was mentioned that the had many siblings or relatives that he could pull forward in the event of an attack. The Azer were unconcerned with what was beyond their large cave. The Azer were initially defensive and we had to assure them that we had no hostile intent on their territory, and refused to tell us if they had contact with others of their race.

During the entire conversation the Azer had been arrogant and rather demanding of visual surrender, but otherwise cooperative. We asked about rubies for /spell firewalk components (thinking it was the easiest way to follow the dwarves) and the Azer said they could obtain some given a week or so, but eventually they offered to build us a stone boat for another 300 gp, which would take two days, which just seemed like a more feasible plan.

We agreed, and were about to leave, when suddenly an ogre came running out from the fortress, yelling, “I’m enslaved! Help me!” The giant on the wall smirked, and hurled a rock which dropped the ogre to the ground, apparently still alive. The party shrugged and wandered back.

A couple of days later we came back to find the boat finished on the shore of the lava river. We spent a very long time figuring out a routine by which /spell endure fire spells could be chain cast on the party and also combined with /spell resist fire in such a way that the party would not be destroyed if a single burst fire effect removed all of our /spell endure fire. Eventually Gates and Rathbane took turns spellshifting as the boat moved at a hilariously slow rate down the lava river.

Just as we set out, the fire salamander Khalid, being a malevolent sort, threw flaming rocks at us, bashing them off Felix.


We set off down the river, and after about 10 hours, things suddenly got interesting. The lava began to burble, and eventually we saw that an eddy had formed in the middle of the river, which would suck in the boat! We considered options but ultimately the best thing was for Donald to plant a /spell wall of force that would divert our boat around the eddy.

A bit later on we entered a large cavern full of geysers shooting rocks in the air. At this point we tried to steer away with a /spell stoneshaped oar created by Rathbane, but Gates rather ineptly steered rather close to the geyser of lava. This resulted in unfortunate things happening to our protection spells as everyone other than Gates was nailed by flaming rocks!

The official term was designated “lava loogies.”

Gates—“Wow, you guys sure got the worst of that, huh?”

We rapidly replaced the protections with more /spell endure heats and continued on.

Next we were jumped by a fire elemental! The creature nailed Hendel and Felix athough all this did was cost them their fire protection, causing them to slow-cook and requiring even more spells from the poor clerics. The fire elemental was quickly destroyed.

Fortunately we made it past the remaining geysers without incident, and eventually came to a large shore, containing a larger stone boat that had clearly been there for some time. The party got off and a xorn (weird earth elemental creature) phased through the rock wall and approached us!

It told us that some other people had paid it not to tell us about them, although it was originally confused because we “looked too similar.” It seemed we were on the right track. The xorn also mentioned the presence of a portal to the Elemental Plane of Earth. We paid it to go away for 20 gp worth of gems, which brought our bribe expenditures to EXACTLY the amount of treasure we had found on the adventure. Yay for efficiency.

We found a single corridor off the shore, but it dead-ended after a short while. A search for secret doors and traps failed to find anything at the end of the corridor, and so we turned around and went back home.

Just kidding.

We found a secret passage at the close end of the corridor, and Hendel opened it to reveal a small chamber with a second similarly hidden door at the far end. The door itself slid up into the ceiling like a garage door, although there was some /spell stoneshape required to free it.

We pulled a bellpull that was hanging from the ceiling and the back door closed behind us, while the far door opened to reveal a vast chamber. Inside was a 120’ empty square room that we passed through. When we walked into the center of it, a large section of the far wall opened (8x30’ door!) and a hemispherical metal droid thing came whirring out at us.

First it rotated a turret toward Felix and plugged him with four crossbow bolts, although only one actually hit him. Next it sprayed the party with an enormous cloud of steam! This would have done horrible things to the party but the /spell endure heats mostly soaked it, other than in the case of Felix, who took half-damage based on the /spell resist fire.

Hendel decided not to wait and charged onto the top of the giant roomba. At this point it tried to spin fast to shake him off, and he clung to it for dear life rather than attacking it. Donald fired a /spell magic missile at it for unclear effect. It nonetheless easily threw Hendel across the room and he slammed into the far wall, where he slid down with a broken limb.

At the point the party heard dwarven voices!

Hendel yelled, “Turn it off!”

A dozen dwarves came out of a side passage and ran forward. “Did you hurt it?” they questioned as the creature suddenly stopped moving. “It hurt ME!” Hendel shot back.

They pretty much ignored the party initially and hovered over the machine, examining it. Eventually a female dwarf came out and introduced herself as Gisteld, leader of the Plumline Clan. It appeared that we had somehow found our quarry, and they were still alive and kicking.

After some initially awkward introductions, the Plumline clerics came forward and healed us of our remaining damage. They were quite welcoming considering the situation and we ended up staying in one of their guesthouses, getting a full tour of their fortress and situation.

We had to assure them that we were coming in peace because of their initial dismay at the sight of us. They had been assured that they would be left alone by Arala (two thousand years ago). When we told them that there was some renewed interest in machines, they became much more friendly.

This truly was the remnant of the Kagu, and Gisteld was the daughter of the last leader. They were down to about a hundred dwarves and the machine that attacked us (called a borzog) had only been activated once before in their history, when an evil mage and gnoll servants had attacked the colony looking for earthsblood, or perhaps for the elemental plane portal. It used about 5% of their total supply of earthsblood to activate the creature.

The dwarves seemed quite content with their situation in general; the location provided everything they needed – earthsblood, pure water from the glacier, and heat from the volcano for forging.

They had small and dwindling supplies of earthsblood because their main supply of about 90 barrels was denied them by a swarm of earth elemental creatures – strange rock spider/crystal spider type creatures. The dwarves had sealed the passage to the creatures with nasty glyphs.

They were building a second borzog, and other machines like fire catapults, auto-crossbow traps, and a central engine that was actually modified from a subway train-style machine. The central engine had actually been the cause of Gisteld’s father’s demise, in an explosion, and they had put up a blast curtain for protection. They had slowly deciphered the advanced texts that they possessed (Felix had acquired one in the previous mission but the sage had been unable to decipher it in any useful way). Felix had volume 30, while the dwarves had volumes 1 and 7. Their gear was Arala quality, ie. Strewn with mithril and adamantite almost carelessly.

At this point, many questions remain? What should the party do about this situation? Can the party clear out the crystal spiders and free the 90 barrels worth of earthsblood, plus the 1 barrel/decade drip which would provide a tiny but sustainable supply? How will the Aralan dwarves react to this new knowledge?

Find out when Alex returns from Sweden!

Questions for dwarves:

-What machines can you build? How long could the subway run on the 90 barrels?
-How did the earth elementals attack, when how many, how powerful are they? Are they sentient? can ESP work on them? Can they move through stone?

Questions for sages or Communes:

-Is the conflux of elemental vortexes required for earthsblood generation? Where else would we find this?



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