Elania 2: Session 11

After defeating the female spellcaster and the two animated statues, the party reviewed their options and status. While they did so, Talon did a thorough search of the walls of the small room, eventually discovering a mechanism which operated a hidden door at the end of the room opposite the hallway. Quickly figuring out the mechanism, Talon opened the door revealing a smaller room which contained nothing except an object that looked like a large mirror with a rippling, coruscating surface. Halmod immediately surmised that this must be a teleporting portal similar to the one they used to reach Grygsdraal from Elania’s mansion.

image

Unfortunately the party had been blindfolded when they went through that portal, and it took a while before Kugel managed to recall that the team members had individually teleported by uttering the word “Grygsdraal” while moving into the portal.

Still, having not yet found the Book of Ceorl, the party did not want to return to Grygsdraal, and they also lacked a suitable gem to activate the device. Eventually a more thorough search of the dead sorceress revealed some gems and a bit of paper in a hidden pocket in the hem of her robe. The paper had the word “****” (Need to retrieve word, doing this at lunch from work) written on it.

On a hunch Halmod took a gem and uttered the word while entering the portal. After some fits and starts the rest of the party managed to follow him, and they found themselves in a room similar to the Grygsdraal portal room. Doors on each side of the portal were closed. Opening one door the party found a large hallway with a door flanked by two statues similar to the ones they had just fought. Unwilling to trigger another such fight in their depleted condition, they checked the other door. That door led to a room with a bed, a desk and an armoire, all of which appeared to have long ago been thoroughly searched.

As they contemplated what to do, a voice suddenly began to question them. The voice indicated displeasure that the party had killed members of his family and warned the party to withdraw. A quick conversation about the “Book of Ceorl” and the looming demonic apocalypse finally convinced the voice to listen to the party. Soon a middle-aged man appeared at the door dressed in expensive robes. Claiming that the area belonged to him, he admitted that he had taken over the rooms after finding them abandoned.

The reason he decided to talk to the party was that within the center of a large room nearby, an apparition had been appearing for many years with a cryptic statement about “the red light will reveal the page’s secret” or words to that effect. In the past few days the growing light of the object in the sky had begun to rival the sun itself, and the party’s comments made him wonder if there was any connection between the strange message and the object’s appearance in the sky.

Kugel immediately surmised that the red light might reveal the contents of the strange empty page the party had found days earlier in a locked chest. Unrolling the parchment he was rewarded as the light from the “second sun” caused the words of a recalling spell to appear. Upon invoking the spell on the parchment, with a flash the paper was consumed and Kugel held in his hands a small box.

Opening the box triggered a minor trap that caused Kugel to feel weakened, but within the box he found a leather bound book with the name “Ceorl” written in draconic. Also in the box was a small cloth bag with a number of small but valuable gems. (15 gems in the bag, each worth right at 100gp.)

The man in the robes suddenly demanded the book from Kugel and the party refused. Angered again at the party, and professing to wreak vengeance for the death of his daughter, the man ignored Halmod’s attempts to negotiate a peaceful settlement and the party found themselves on the verge of combat.

Luckily though, before the man could get off a single spell, Halmod successfully hit him with a “Hold Person” spell, and the party headed back to the portal room with the book and gems.

Putting his memory to the test, Halmod managed to activate the portal by sacrificing a gem. The team observed that once activated the portal remained open for one minute, and during that time any creature uttering the destination word was teleported to that destination.

Thus did the party return to Grygsdraal, victorious and in possession of the much-sought after Book of Ceorl.

Appearing suddenly in the dwarven portal room, the somewhat shocked dwarf guard agreed to relay their message to the dwarf king. Soon the party found themselves summoned to the king’s royal throne room.

There they discovered that the town of Elania had been overrun and all contact with the outside world from Grygsdraal had been lost. Demonic hordes were attempting to invade Grygsdraal and nobody knew where Geltran Rovell was, or if he even lived.

Kugel then decided to read the Book of Ceorl, which appeared to be a non-magical journal. The journal covered the heroic exploits of Ceorl and his group and ended with dire warnings about a future return of the demons. In the event that the demons did return, the journal revealed that Ceorl’s exhaustive research of ancient scrolls and texts revealed that the previous demonic invasion had only been defeated through some mysterious means that was associated with the haunted mesa of “Flattop”. The journal revealed Ceorl’s suspicion that Flattop contained a teleporting portal.

Geltran Rovell’s elf companion (*need to retrieve her name*) had long studied Flattop but was unaware that there might be a portal there, since the area was basically a bare and forbidding hunk of rock thrust out of the ground in eons past.

Kugel and Halmod decided it was worth a try to see if they could reach Flattop through the portal in Grygsdraal, and so after resting and healing overnight, they met at the portal room and attempted to reach Flattop by using Flattop’s draconic name. This resulted in opening a gate where they found themselves staring into a reddish light and a room full of demons.

image

Kugel immediately realized the danger of allowing dwarf-killing demons to enter the soft underbelly of the dwarf city of Grygsdaal. And so battle was joined.

The demons managed to rush through the portal into Grygsdraal, but the party held them at bay while the dwarf guard and Rovell’s elf companion went for help. A furious battle ensued with the party finally seeing the awesome power of Gregor’s “smite evil” ability while Malf’s arrows peppered the demons and Talon moved into a flanking position and dealt repeated deadly sneak attacks. Unfortunately Kinestarre, Kugel’s loyal eidolon, was soon beaten down and dispelled. Kugel summoned yet another rhinoceros to compensate while Halmod desperately hammered away at the demons with his quenching hammer.

The demons were soon routed and fled back through the still open gate, with the party hot on their heels. That’s where the game ended for the night.

Elania 2: Session 10

Wow. Double digits. We have actually played enough sessions that it takes two bytes to type out how many sessions we have had. Awesome.

Session 10 was, however, an abbreviated session due to time constraints of our new meeting format (Every other Thursday instead of the old process of whenever we can manage to get together). Anyway, getting on with it:

Talon considered the possibility of another blast of fire upon attempting to re-open the door. Halmod and Kugel quietly backed away from the area, voicing encouragement for Talon, or perhaps Gregor, to open the door. Malf suggested attempting to use a remote opening technique. Talon recognized the wisdom in this and rummaged around in his pack, emerging triumphantly with 50 feet of rope. Tying one end to the door’s lever, he moved fifty feet away and pulled it open. A moment later he had 30′ of smoldering rope and an open door.

“What is your purpose?” The door asked.

Talon responded “We seek the Book of Ceorl”.

“Enter, friend of Ceorl.” the door replied.

After some trepidation the party all decided to enter the hallway beyond the door. Traveling down the hallway they eventually encountered a small rectangular room which seemed to be a dead end. As they passed through the hallway, they noticed that there were alcoves on each side of the hallway with large statues of humanoids. A quick search of the alcoves provided no indication of buttons or levers, so they went on. As they gathered around the entrance of the small room, a robed female suddenly appeared in the corner the same moment that a blast of fire engulfed the entire party.

Immediately the party counter-attacked, but as they did so, one of the statues in the hallway strode into the hallway, blocking their path back to the cavern. Soon they were dealing with both the robed female and the statue. Each attack from the statue dealt both physical damage and energy damage, sometimes fire, sometimes acid, sometimes cold. It was also soon clear that the party had encountered something that shrugged off some of the damage they did to it. Talon took it upon himself to quickly search the room for secret doors, but found none.

golem

As Kugel began to summon a rhinoceros, Malf’s arrows sent the robed female crumpling in a heap on the ground. The party then turned all its attention on the statue. But just as they were fully engaged, the second statue also came to life, and advanced on the party. The first statue hurled some sort of splashing/exploding object into the room damaging several party members. Gregor decided it was time to channel positive energy to heal the party, but this also healed the robed female who suddenly turned invisible.

Halmod, also invisible (as was Kugel) snuck past the attacking statue in the hallway and attempted to locate some means to deactivate the creature in the alcoves, but found nothing. Malf cast “glitterdust” on the area where the robed female had last been seen, and managed to outline her invisible body, making her a target. Talon instantly attacked her with his short swords doing significant damage.

“Don’t kill me,” she said. “I can help you find…”

Malf’s arrows cut her off and she fell dead to the floor.

Kugel summoned a second Rhinoceros and soon both were goring the first statue mercilessly. Still it took a long time to go down, and it took one rhino with it. In the tight quarters of the hallway, the summoned rhinoceroses kept the statue from attacking the party directly and while they missed more than they hit, when they did hit, they did massive damage.

Rhino-Charging

Eventually both statues were destroyed.

The party then realized the door to the cavern was shut.

And that’s where we stopped for the night.

Elania 2: Session 9

After defeating the lumbering fungi creatures, the party (Gregor the paladin, with his cohort Violet; Talon the rogue; Halmod the sorcerer, Malf the bard and Kugel the summoner) attempted to search the bodies, but found no clothing, pockets, belts or bags. Suddenly a writhing mass of tendrils rose from the ground and Malf felt a presence in his mind.

“I am ‘the one who is everywhere,’ what is your purpose here?” As these thoughts formed in Malf’s mind, an image was also presented of a being whose body permeated the rock below the ground, behind the walls and in the ceiling itself.

Malf had a short “conversation” with the being where it was determined that the party would attack no more myconids and the fungal being would let the party pass. Malf asked if the fungal mind knew where Ceorl’s summer home was, but the ‘one’ responded only with the impression that the location was magically hidden.

After making peace with the “one who is everywhere”, which the party perceived to be some sort of fungal superorganism, the party continued to head down the right-hand wall of the immense cavern. Eventually they rested to regain spells and heal up, then continued on to seek for the Book of Ceorl.

As they headed through the cavern, they encountered what looked like a solid wall of stone. However, investigation convinced them that the wall was a mixture of stalagmites and illusions, and they managed to overcome the illusion to continue on. Shortly afterwards the party encountered a group of humanoid spellcasters and warriors. The leader of the group was casting powerful spells and nearly managed to kill Violet.

cave wizard

After a long and difficult battle, the group’s leader threw up a Wall of Force and fled, leaving his comrades behind to perish.

Here is a list of the gear looted from the bodies of the dead (and the decomissioned construct):
scrolls of fly (2), invisibility (2), minor image (2),
wand of magic missile (CL 5, 50 charges, arcane bond item), wand of shocking grasp (50 charges),
tanglefoot bags (3)
potions of cure light wounds, darkvision, invisibility, levitate, protection from arrows, resist energy
2 each of the following:
+1 breastplate, +1 greatsword, +1 composite longbow (+2 Str) with 20 arrows,
10 cold iron arrows, and 10 alchemical silver arrows, dagger, silver holy symbol
+1 heavy pick, tarnished silver locket

The silver locket is worth 25 silver pieces.

The holy symbols are for Rovavug, a Chaotic Evil god of wrath, war and destruction.

After looting the still-warm bodies, the party left them to rot in the cave as they decided that the hidden door to Ceorl’s mansion must be nearby, and was likely being guarded by the group you fought. Talon methodically examined every square foot of wall he could reach, eventually discovering an area that felt smooth, but looked like rough rock. After examining this thoroughly, Talon and Gregor were convinced they had found a secret door, but the rest of the party refused to believe them. After deciding there were no traps present, Talon ignored the lack of faith and pulled out his thieves tools and went to work. The lock was designed to be highly secure, but Talon’s skills proved the better, and he managed to unlock the door.

Gregor then pulled the door open and he and Talon were engulfed in a ball of fire, but both survived. As they recovered from the near-fatal fireball, a mouth on the door asked them to “State your purpose.” Talon began to say “We seek Ceorl’s Summer Home” or something like that, but Gregor beat him to the punch by explaining that they were trying to stop the apocalypse. The door immediately slammed shut.

We stopped there for the night.

Elania 2: Session 8

I have to apologize for not posting this months ago. Yes, months ago. It’s been that long since our last session, what with me moving, people going on family vacations and one of our team being in the hospital for some surgery.

So, this will be a much less detailed post since I am going from memory that is somewhat ragged and faded.

This session began with the team resting after their encounter in the large cavern with the giant flying tentacled snake thing. After looting a hidden chest containing some sovereign glue and other stuff, they also contemplated a rather unusual find. A completely blank sheet of parchment which rather inexplicably radiated abjuration and divination magic when examined with “detect magic.” Although the party tried several ways to determine if the parchment was not blank, nothing they did succeeded in revealing any potential contents.

old cracked sheet of parchment in a grunge style

Malf dug deep into the recesses of his bardic memory and managed to dredge up an ancient rumor that the great wizard Ceorl had once created a spell which could hide any writing on paper or parchment. This caused the group to suspect that the paper might once have belonged to Ceorl. Gregor seemed convinced that uncovering the paper’s content might help locate Ceorl’s secret summer home, and then to locate the item that they had been sent to recover.

After resting and regaining spells, and wasting a few hours trying to tease some information from the parchment, the party continued along the cavern following the right-hand wall as they had been advised to do. After a few hours of hiking in the dark, they encountered a lone stumbling skeleton. Gregor quickly disposed of the skeleton, but they soon encountered another. Halmod suggested moving away from the wall, but that just brought them into contact with more skeletons. Soon it was skeletons and zombies and while the party had no problem disposing of the roaming undead, the increasing density of them convinced the party to return to the wall as before.

In short order they had left the undead minions behind, but then they noticed points of blue light ahead in the dark. Carefully moving forward they discovered that the blue lights were coming from small mushrooms emerging from the ground. Eventually curiosity got the better of them and someone touched one of the mushrooms, which immediately went out, along with several other lights nearby.

glowing mushroom

Unsettled, but undaunted, the party continued forward until they encountered a creepy looking pale greeen glowing stalk growing from the ground about even in height with Halmod the gnome. As they got close, the stalk turned a yellow color. Kugel suggested attempting to work around the thing, but as they moved away from the cavern wall, more glowing stalks were encountered. Finally the party simply walked up to the stalk, which turned red and emitted a cloud of choking dust.

But still the party decided to move forward, encountering more such bizarre sentinels but giving them a wide berth. Nevertheless, as they moved, more of the sentinels turned red. So the party was not surprised when they finally encountered the small army of mushroom men.

myconid

The ensuing battle was hard-fought on both sides. Some of the walking mushroom beasts emitted clouds of choking, debilitating spores which caused some members of the party to feel weakened. But in the end the party was able to kill most of the creatures and send the rest into a rout. As they did, all of the glowing mushrooms went dark.

The session ended for the night at this point.

Isms

I’ve been watching a debate unroll (unravel?) on the Paizo messageboards on the subject of whether Pathfinder’s official world (the “Golarian” world) is “ethical” or not.

This all stems from a person who had been at a Pathfinder official gaming event where they had a poster up that was supposed to be advertising opportunities for adventurers in Golarion. The map was annotated with text suggesting that adventurers could find fame and fortune by going to different areas and performing different acts. Apparently the person found the Golarion map to be similar enough to our own world that he was able to identify potentially insensitive (or outright offensive) racist stereotypes in play. Here’s a generic Golarion map and below it a map of the modern world, done in similar style:

golarion

map

Now I don’t find the maps to be all that similar, but then again I’m not out looking for reasons to be offended either.

Still, the comments he made could be divorced from the map itself and examined on their own merits.

Basically his complaint is that the Pathfinder Golarion world perpetuates a colonial mindset with strong “European” (meaning “white”) powers dominating colonial (meaning “non-white”) populations. As if that isn’t alarming enough, the “non-white” populations are typically represented by gnolls (walking, talking hyenas), orcs (the racist implications of orcs have been well-documented in the media) and perhaps worst of all, a race of talking gorillas.

In other words, Pathfinder isn’t merely racist, it is dehumanizing non-white races in the worst way imaginable.

The comments are on both sides of the issue, with perhaps a majority defending Paizo and pointing out the great lengths Paizo and WotC have gone over the years to de-stigmatize racial choices (goblins can be lawful good paladins, and orcs are now among the most common character races chosen). But the bottom line to the whole thing is that there is something fundamentally racist about the entire pursuit of fantasy RPGs. Is there?

Entering the realm of bard-dom…

halfling bard

I’ve played a lot of characters in D&D or its variants. Fighters, rangers, wizards, druids, sorcerers, rogues (or thieves), clerics, even a witch now.

But there are two classes I have rather deliberately and pointedly avoided for decades. Yes, decades.

One is the paladin. The other is the bard. I avoid them for entirely different reasons. I avoid the paladin because I find the role playing constraints and GM or other player expectations to be too severe. I’m not much of a “black and white” morality kind of guy, and paladins are all about that. But I haven’t played a bard because… well…

Bards suck.

I mean even in the Order of the Stick online webcomic (online webcomic, that’s redundant isn’t it? Oh well…) the bard is the comedy relief of the party. Even the fundamental concept of the bard strikes nothing but laughter into the heart of most gamers. “Look out, he’s going to … SING!”

But I’ve decided to take the plunge and will be playing a bard in an upcoming campaign, assuming we can find a time when everyone can play. Yes, a bard. A halfling bard at that. So I’ve decided not only to play a class that is woefully unsuited for combat, I’ve picked the least combat suitable race too.

“Sparky” is his name. I haven’t yet created a miniature for him, but I will. Hopefully it will turn out better than my crappy miniature for Gil the Wonder Gnome. It almost has to, really.

So, why a bard? Well, mostly because the party we have already has all the other standard roles all filled, and I just wanted to finally take the chance to play a class I’ve avoided forever.

I am doing what I can to make him a competent member of the team, but mostly his focus is going to be on performing, diplomacy, bluffing and sneaking around in the dark. In combat he’s mostly going to hide behind the big beefy dudes and fling a sling stone out from time to time. Having picked the “detective” archetype, my bard won’t even have the ability to buff the party with the bard’s signature ability, the “sing a song to buff the party” ability called “inspire courage.” That’s sort of deliberate, and I certainly won’t miss the taunts of “fight fight fight the ugly ogre” from the rest of the team. But without that ability Sparky will have to make up for his limitations in other ways.

To make this work I’m going to have to be quite clever and resourceful. I’m looking forward to it.

Elania 2: Sessions 6 and 7 (cont)

After defeating the Drow and routing the Drider, the party continued down the tunnel eventually reaching a large open chamber, much larger than the Drow encounter chamber. The tunnel walls adjacent to the large chamber were marked with “lizard men” symbols. Upon entering the area the party encountered a couple of snake-like beings with arms and humanoid heads, but no legs and long snake-like tails. These asked why the party was in the area, and upon discovering that one of the party spoke draconic, one left to seek a superior to interact with the party. After a short wait the initial snake-man returned with two distinguished looking snake-women. One of them addressed Kugel, who spoke draconic, and discussed the party’s intentions.

naga1

Gregor did not like the evil nature his paladin powers revealed. Unable to understand the snake-like beings, he relied on Kugel’s translations, although he repeatedly urged a less diplomatic approach to the endeavor. Kugel explained to the snake-lady that the party was attempting to pass through the area and had no desire to enter into hostilities with her people. The snake lady replied that the area was home to an entire village of her people but that for a mere 1,000g she would ensure the party’s safe passage to the other side. Kugel mentioned the party’s recent experience with the Drow and the snake-lady’s response was full of hostility for the spider-worshipers. Sensing a possible advantage, Kugel mentioned that they had recovered two Drow blades which intrigued the snake-lady who asked to see them to confirm that they were actually Drow blades. Upon examining one she agreed they were likely “Drow captain” blades and modified her offer to two swords and 300 gold.

Gregor’s frustration with the situation was growing, so Kugel suggested that Gregor consult with Violet for a moment. As Gregor’s back was turned, Kugel handed the snake-lady a small bag of gold and told her to keep the swords. Gregor demanded to know what was happening, so Kugel explained that the snake lady was expressing her desire to conform to Gregor’s demand for safe passage and a desire to repent her evil ways. Suspicious, Gregor then demanded that the snake lady prove her words by leading the party on. Kugel then, in draconic, requested that their payment be accepted and safe passage be granted. She agreed and turned to lead the party through her village. Gregor was pleased with the result of his request and the party moved through the village without incident. The party continued on for hours more, eating as they walked, until they eventually came to the end of the tunnel as it opened into a vast underground cavern.

cavern

Talon ventured into the cavern far enough to listen, where he heard in the distance the faint sounds of water dripping into water. Gregor and Kinestarre then moved further into the cavern, with the light from Gregor’s shield providing dim illumination. Soon the entire party had entered the cavern. Suddenly Gregor and Kinestarre were attacked by swooping winged snake-like creatures with prominent horns. As the party reacted to the surprise attack, two large lizard-men appeared on the edge of their light.
flying snake painted front

As the battle was joined, a pit suddenly opened underneath Violet, Talon and Malf, but all three managed to avoid falling in. Just as they dodged away from the pit, a stone wall appeared between Malf, Halmod, Talon and the rest of the party. The two large lizard men moved in and attacked Gregor and Kinestarre. Malf helped Halmod and Halmod clambered over the wall, landing on the other side. One of the flying snakes dove behind Malf, attacking him and hovering over the newly formed pit. Talon and Malf then scrambled over the wall as well.

Kinestarre and Gregor faced down the giant lizard men, but Gregor suddenly found himself in the constricting coils of the larger of the two giant snakes. Halmod managed to get off a devastating fireball, but while it left the lizard men and snakes smoking and burned, did not kill any of them. Kinestarre and Kugel continued to exchange blows while Malf pulled out his bow and Talon moved into position to sneak attack.

Gregor found himself lifted off the ground and as the snake carried him off, his shining shield revealed the presence on a high rock of a large tentacled spell-casting snake. Talon delivered a brutal sneak attack on one lizard man and Malf tried to bring down the snake carrying Gregor, but was unable to stop it. Violet and Kugel healed the massive damage Kinestarre was taking from the Lizard man and Halmod triggered another fireball.

Soon the smaller flying snake was down, Gregor was fighting the large flying snake alone next to the tentacled snake and Talon, Halmod and Malf were dealing with the remaining giant lizard man. Just as it seemed the tide might be turning in the party’s favor, a barrage of spells erupted from the tentacled snake resulting in Talon being paralyzed, Kugel being dazed and Halmod being blinded.

Malf’s bow finally got the attention of one lizard man while Kinestarre continued to whittle down the other. The large snake then dropped Gregor and charged Malf, doing massive damage with his horn. Halmod found himself grappled and carried off by one lizard man but the other lizard man, badly damaged by Kinestarre and Halmod’s fireballs, finally dropped. Gregor went after the tentacled snake and using his “smite evil” power drove the snake off the rock where it healed the remaining lizard man and suddenly vanished. Halmod managed to get off a suggestion spell to cause the lizard man to drop him, and then turned invisible and moved out of danger.

The large snake delivered a deadly blow to Malf, who fell bloody and unconscious to the ground. Talon recovered from his paralysis and attacked the large snake while Gregor dove off the rock, bouncing off the invisible tentacled snake, and then rushed to heal Malf. Violet attempted to reach Malf but was tripped by the remaining lizard man’s tail. Talon bravely faced the large flying snake and his deadly short sword drove the snake into retreat. Violet finally reached Malf and once healed, Malf rose and with well-aimed arrows, slew the fleeing giant snake. The final lizard man was dispatched, and as Kugel summoned a pterodactyl, the invisible tentacled snake fled from the party. Halmod’s sight was restored.

After a short time and some necessary healing, the party scouted around and discovered two rock outcroppings with small caves. Further searching turned up a hidden entrance to a small alcove under the large rock where they discovered a chest. Talon quickly opened the chest and they discovered some bottles, some gold and a small tube with a blank piece of parchment which radiated magic. At this point we stopped for the night. The players were rewarded for their success by reaching level 9 with their characters.