Category Alastair

Completion of Temple of Black Earth and resumption of campaign

We returned to the PotA campaign and it took some effort to work out where we are…
In summary:

  • The lair of Marlos Urnrayle was looted. He is rumoured to have descended to the lower levels (Fane of the Eye?)
  • A deep gnome was rescued from imminent sacrifice to a black pudding and has joined the party, at least on a temporary basis. His name… Rukh Glitterstone.
  • A Dao and some worker Duergar were defeated in a forge and some treasure gathered
  • A prison and torture chamber were tidied up and four prisoners rescued. Two seem like innocents and are taken by the party to safety. The other two are left to fend for themselves
  • An ettin was killed in chillingly efficient manner
  • The party left via the main stairway that took them back up into Sacred Stone Monastery and then they went back to Rivergard Keep
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The Perils of Being ‘New in Town’

We stayed in the inn recommended by the outlaw geezers. One of their junior members came with us. He chatted with Stephan through the night and sketched out the local area. Magic is frowned upon and roving bands of ‘Diviners’ move around checking for supposedly ‘unholy’ behaviour.. He also gave us a sketch map of the area and indicated that the Master’s Temple is off to the west.
The cheeky little bastard then nicked some of our money in the night and buggered off!!
We journeyed on to the closest decent sized town and entered with no challenge from the guards. It’s the day before market day, so they’re dealing with lots of visitors. We establish ourselves at the ‘Newgate Inn’, which seems like a nice enough joint. Another merchant train arrived just before us, but we managed to secure a single loft room.
We eat a tasty dinner and supp some ale, but there doesn’t seem to be much action. I consider chatting to locals about any rumours, but Stephan is keen that we remain undercover. So we go to bed. And then the fun starts…
Alya and Magni have taken the first watch but both are unusually sleepy. Alya wakes to find that she’s been grabbed by an intruder!! Surely the door was locked, and we’d checked for secret passages and ceiling hatches!
She escapes the grapple and cries out. Vivec and Mordana are first to wake. They too find that they are being grappled by some sort of humanoid. Vivec is not happy about being grabbed uninvited and shakes off his assailant with some ease, he then leaps out of bed and roars in rage.
The seven (7!) intruders start to realise that things aren’t going their way and run for the door. Vivec grabs one and Mordana drops one with a Blight spell. Vivec punches the guy in the head a couple of times and in response he wriggles and transforms into a giant rat! The rat leaps out of Vivec’s arms and races for the chimney – Alya is now blocking the door. Vivec dives for the rat and manages to grab it again. After some more struggle, it gives up and morphs back into what is likely it’s normal form – a ratty faced, scrawny man. A wererat!
Alya and Mordana tie him up as the rest arise from their poisoned/drugged state. We’re all pretty miffed, to say the least. Vivec and Mordana head downstairs to find the innkeeper while Alya leads the interrogation/intimidation of our prisoner.
The innkeeper tells us a sorry tale of intimidation and extortion. He drugs new visitors and puts them in a attic room and the wererat gang robs them and leaves the inn intact. The prisoner doesn’t give too much away, and goes even quieter when Stephan casts Zone of Truth… The innkeeper is pushed into the zone and his story remains the same – he doesn’t know who leads the gang or where their hideout is. The ruffian is only persuaded to speak after Mordana cuts off his little finger with her silver dagger. He then agrees to lead us to their hideout.

We gag him and head out – I take the lead with Mordana, checking for watch patrols or wererat lookouts. Down the main street we spot two figures, and my innate urban knowledge guides me around behind them. I sidle up and drive my rapier through his chest. He drops in silence, his friend barely has a chance to react before Mordana fires an Eldritch blast in his face. He doesn’t drop immediately, but my superior reflexes allow me to skewer him in the blink of an eye.
Mordana and I drag the bodies down a sidestreet and dump them over a wall.

A few minutes later we’ve arrived at the hideout. Mordana casts Invisibility over the two of us and we check for more lookouts. There are two hapless saps waiting to be dropped.
Repeating our moves from earlier, I sidle up and execute my best assassinate move. My sudden appearance is the cue for Mordana to release another Eldritch blast. Again, it’s not quite powerful enough to drop the lookout, but he soon gets acquainted with the pointy end of my rapier.
There’s a hatch at the base of the wall of the hideout – this must be the entrance to the wererat hideout. Rat Catching Time….!!

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We hike down to the gnome encampment, attempting to project a friendly, non-threatening demeanour.
They walk out to meet us, with little bows drawn and their apparent leader approaches with what looks like a letter opener casually held in one small hand.
I attempt to make light conversation but they don’t seem to be in a chatty mood, and claim that they don’t have any food to trade. All in all they are quite stand-offish, and they don’t seem to realise quite who they are dealing with.
The shadows are lengthening, so we retreat from their miniature village and, as we are seeking a suitable camping spot, hear a faint cry on the wind. It seems to be calling ‘Mooordaaaanaaaaa’. It’s hard to tell where the call is coming from, but we veer towards the valley that it seems to come from. The cry is heard several more times and the search for a camping spot eventually finds somewhere. But not before we find the remains of  a mammoth that looks as if it was dropped from a great height. These are strange lands indeed….
We all quietly thank Leomund for his tiny hut and rest for the night. A mighty wind gets up and we consider the fate of the camels. Mordana muses on the fact that Leomund needs to work on a stable extension to his tiny hut.

The morning we must spent time gathering the camels. They have survived the night but look somewhat windswept!

We explore the various side valleys, and eventually find our way to a cave entrance which looks like it may lead us further through the mountains.

The tunnels wind through the mountain and eventually, after many turns, we find ourselves in a large cavern. To Vivec and Elune it seems to be beautiful, lit by glowing moss on the walls, there are pretty toadstools and frolicking woodland creatures. Several pale humanoids seems to be approaching in a friendly manner….

ZONK! Mordana removes the curse and barbarian and druid see the cavern the same way as the rest – a foul, ominous place. And the ‘friendly humanoids’ are zombies looking for a meal! They don’t find much to eat, and won’t be looking again.

We exit the cavern and continue. After many hours we camp out and wonder how bloody long these passages are.

The next morning, more trudging. Eventually we see light and emerge….
Into the SAME BLOODY VALLEY we left two days ago.!!!

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DM Catch Up

Following the battle on the beach, the party may or may not have taken a long rest. Let’s assume they did.
They then row up the underground river and discover a cavern. A battle on a quayside ensues. A Dark Tide Knight riding a shark manages to knock Erky into the water while another baddy discovers that the short, hairy armoured thing can’t be pushed into the water. Erky uses Fly to escape the water and then goes for a tour of the complex. He meets some aquatic ghouls who are very pleased to see him, and nearly persuade him to join them.
The party take a short rest and then continue their exploration. North of the quay they are ambushed by a fairly concerted force of cultists, roused by the Dark Tide Knight who escaped the previous battle. Predictably, our heroes outwit and out-think their opposition. Further exploration suggests that they have now cleared the eastern portion of the temple and they can now move into the central part.
Stealthy exploration finds them a smelly door with crude carvings scratched on it. Passing by, they discover a large hall and kitchen/canteen. Much planning ensues and the death of water cultists follows. One is kept alive and pumped for information. The party learn the following:
– Gar Shatterkeel has gone down below to a place called ‘The Fane of the Eye’
– His deputies are Thuluna (thought to be a hag) and Morbeoth (One Eyed Shiver)
– Cultists identify each other with a hand signal
– The Water Cult serve Olhydra, the elemental Prince of Water. Without him they are nothing, and they seek to bring him from the Elemental Plane of Water to cleanse the world of the weak and unworthy.

Following the ‘interview’, the cultist was put to sleep and placed under the other dead bodies in a disused storeroom.
The party decide to head north to check out the Water Shrine which is just across a bridge. To either side of the bridge are culverts pouring water out into the canal. Erky sends Blinky the owl up one of the culverts to see what’s what.
Blinky telepathically communicates to Erky that the Water Shrine is here and that 5 Lizardfolk are on guard. Then communication ceases – Blinky is spotted by the guards and a hail of javelins sees him return to his own plane of existence…
Erky is cross and leads the party through the double doors….
A huge explosion is triggered by the doors and everyone is injured. With the noise of the explosion echoing through the halls, the party surge forward to engage with the lizardfolk, concerned that the noise will have alerted others in the complex.
A large, fearsome creature emerges from the water behind the lizardfolk, and suddenly the battle doesn’t look so simple.
Erky hangs back to attempt to distract any backup…
Spike Growth stalls the lizard folk for a moment, but they improvise by using a dead comrade as a stepping stone to leap out.
Meanwhile, Arielle and Thorg engage with the mighty beast – mighty blows are traded and in the end, Thorg’s persistence and powerful sword thrusts prove to be too much.
Feyabelle gets a shock mid-battle – she is hanging back on the bridge, firing arrows into combat. Suddenly a HUGE terrapin surfaces and attacks. HOLY SHIT!! IT’S A DRAGON TURTLE!!! Nursing her battered shoulder, she dived into the room and shuts the double doors.
Meanwhile, Erky sees a hideous female humanoid, a couple of ogres and more lizardfolk hurrying towards the market hall from the south. He scatters ball bearings and preps his pipe of Smoke Mephits..
Those in the shrine are now feeling bruised and scared. The party is separated and the temple is on full alert!

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The low view – obviously he skipped the poetry lectures

We search the rift to no avail. Garret is so unobservant he barely notices that there are rocks to be looked under.
Aeldrin sneaks off up another passage while the rest of us ponder on the meaning of existence.>He returns and reports that he’s found another cavern and a locked door. Behind the door he thinks is a dwarf, In the cavern is an elf and two large goblinoids. We wonder if it is yet another doppelganger, but still formulate a plan of attack. The first part of this plan being that Garret and Aramil return to the glowing brazier to recharge a few items.
This done, the rest of the plan follows – sneak up to the cave, smash the place up and kill everyone.
In actuality, it was somewhat different.
It seems that this is the real Black Spider as he went into a BBEG type speech about having to deal with us himself.
Garret missed with his crossbow and was promptly jumped by a giant spider which squirted him with webbing.
Elaina managed to cast Magic Missile and hit BS. Aeldrin followed up with a well placed arrow and BS looked shaken.
Aramil cast his Bane spell on BS and the two bugbears, then looked to defend Garret. The musical halfling spent most of this battle either escaping from webbing or being squirted with more. He did manage to critically spear a bugbear in the goolies which cheered him up no end.
Having been rocked by the attacks from Elaina and Aeldrin, Black Spider promptly disappeared, thinking that his four pet spiders would do the job for him. Despite Aeldrin’s inner fears, we eventually won out, although BS did make a decent attempt to escape. A Shocking Grasp momentarily disoriented Aeldrin enough for Black Spider to slip past down the corridor. However, an arrow between the shoulder blades did the job and the usurper of Wave Echo Cave was no more.
We got some decent loot and even found that the Staff of Spiders that Black Spider carried would enable Elaina to cast Web or Spider Climb multiple times per day. There was also a key which allowed us to rescue the third Rockseeker brother and we took a long rest in his cell.
Next day, we returned to the Rift. A night’s rest clearly sorted Garret out as he spotted a dwarven skeleton instantly, and found it was wearing some Gauntlets of Ogre Power. Aramil now sports these and feels confident he will be able to bash the shit out of anyone with his magical mace!!

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What’s new pussycat?

We continue to explore the labyrinthine tunnels. Occasional bellows (not the fire pumping implements!) can be heard. Gradually they get louder and we know we are getting closer to the beast.

We turn a corner and see an open room up ahead. Within is a HUGE figure – half man, half bull, all badass!! It stands 10 feet tall and wields a giant rusting axe like a hatchet. Minerva and Morgan step back and set spears, anticipating a charge. However, no charge comes.. What a let down!

Amber looses an arrow and Varys casts Magic Missile and the battle begins.

It seems that while the Minotaur is great at bellowing, looking imposing and swinging it’s big chopper it is not actually so great at fighting. Minerva and Morgan hack it down and only Morgan suffers any damage in return.

Victory is sweet. Certainly sweeter than the axe, which is definitely not magical. Everyone advances into the room to check for any other treasure and suddenly there is a flash of blue light.

When our sight returns it seems we have been teleported into another room. It contains a small (5 feet high) crystal obelisk and has one exit. Rob examines the obelisk and finds he is unable to touch it. It is clearly magical but we can discern little else about it so leave the room to attempt to find out where we are.

A passage leads around a corner and branches – both branches lead to a door. One is locked the other not.
We open the unlocked door and find that from the other side it is covered by wall hangings – a tapestry maybe. We hear voices but cannot make out what they are saying.

We check the other door – Amber and Rob manage to pick the lock. It contains two sarcophagi. No one is keen to investigate further so we retreat and re-lock the door.

After some debate we enter the first room and attempt to strike up a conversation.

This attempt doesn’t go well – the Rakasta accuse us of defiling their temple and get quite shirty about it. I forget the details, but it ends in a fight. One runs for the door after casting a single magic missile at Morgan. A return volley of a double MM from Varys and a thrown dagger from Amber mean it will never learn the skills of higher level casting.

In order to gain a hostage, Varys casts Web, which entagles the Rakasta as well as Morgan, Minerva and someone else. The Rakasta is tied up but still doesn’t want to be friends.

We exit the room, dragging out the living and dead Rakasta. The plan is that we spike the door shut and try to get some rest before making a break out.

Legend tells of a famed elven interrogator by the name of Morkel. Sadly he isn’t here but we try to question the Rakasta anyway. It seems that the two we met before have been executed for being weak and a similar fate is likely for us. It can’t understand how we got in but is deeply offended at our violation of the temple.

We settle down to rest, but within an hour are alerted to sounds coming from the opulent room beyond the door. It doesn’t take long for them to try to open the door we spiked shut and once they start properly hammering on it we call out for a parley, mentioning our hostage.

They are supremely confident of their position (as well they might be) and aren’t that interested in any negotiation. They are interested in our talk of a giant black pearl though – could this be our ticket out of here?

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The House of Blue Light

We march to the blue light curtain to undertake our water based experiment.
After we pass through the light Isis casts Create Water and our water bottles fill up and indeed water splashes on the floor as she creates too much. However, within seconds we notice it starting to disappear and within a minute or two it is all gone…

Nevertheless, we continue down the passage to see what we can find.

Eventually we come to a pair of doors. Behind one we hear a rustling sound so we open it. Within are three short humanoids. Bael and Amber try some friendly opening gambits as we would prefer to avoid combat. They seems suspicious. Bael offers to sing a song of greeting. Within the words he weaves the magic of his Charm spell. One of the humanoids falls for it and becomes more friendly. Isis attempts Charm Mammal and one more becomes more friendly.

We chat for a while and gain some key pieces of information:

  • the old city lies ahead
  • there are ghosts and shades and deadly traps in the old city
  • there is a magical artifact within the old city that keeps the old ones in a long slumber.
  • only a few remaining evil servants of the old ones seek to remove the artifact, hoping to resurrect the old ones.
  • they are called kopru
  • the artifact creates the blue light and the associated dryness keeps the kopru out

The humanoids also know of a route out of the tunnels up to the ‘sky grass’, but they say Morgan is too fat to fit through. They take us there, and it is confirmed to be a very narrow tunnel.

Consensus seems to be that we will have to fight our way back out past the kopru. Hopefully forewarned is forearmed. We can focus ranged weapons against it. They are weak to cold and dry, but these are things we are not able to generate!!

We decide to return to some of the other tunnels we have explored, namely a door with a steel bar. We open it and have a mooch around. Varys recalls ancient stories of a place called Knossos and wonders if a Minotaur hangs out around here…

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Too hungry and thirsty to write much down

We continue to explore the maze of tunnels and spirals that we have found.

Key discoveries are:

  • Some tunnels lead to a ‘curtain’ of blue light. We seem to be unaffected when passing through. The tunnels and chambers beyond the blue light are notable for being incredibly dry. We then notice that our water bottles are empty!
  • We have found an old kitchen with a working water tap. So, we figure we can survive
  • There are patches of green slime in some areas which do no one any good.

Another abandoned kitchen has a chimney. Rob decides to climb up as it must eventually lead out.. He is gone a long time so Bael attempts to follow. However, bards are not as good at climbing and he falls and knocks himself unconscious! We rest for several hours and then Isis uses the staff of healing on all. Bael regains consciousness.

Isis transforms into a bat and flies off to seek Rob. Within the hour she returns and explains that she found him, resting out in the open. The chimney leads into a fissure, which he followed and it eventually leads out onto the plateau. Rob looked exhausted but alive. Based on Isis’ description we wonder about how to get out…

Bael manages to charm Amber and release her from the power of the hideous frogtopus. She talks of what she felt – a voice was telling her to go deeper, to seek out the giant black pearl from the dry place.

Our priorities have changed!! It seems that down beyond the blue light are the remains of an ancient city and within them is the legendary black pearl. The frogtopus cannot pass the light barrier so attempts to charm passing adventurers into doing it for him/her/it.

First step is to test whether Isis can Create Water after passing through the light curtain.

While this key exposition is occurring Rob returns and everyone agrees they are hungry. We had heard scuttling noises behind some doors earlier – possibly it is rats that we could eat. Varys readies a Sleep spell and we go hunting for food.

We manage to catch 12 rats which we butcher and roast over a fire of burning furniture under the handy chimney. The meat doesn’t taste great, but it fills our empty bellies…

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Zork II

You are standing at the end of a tunnel in a sheer 500 ft cliff face. Jungle stretches out before you with mountains in the background. Exits lead back, and technically down.

Bael instructs Isis to change to bat form and work out where we are, go and find the tiger and try to get back here with it. Still under the effects of his charm she happily does so and flaps off.

Meanwhile the rest decide they need to find a safe way down and return to the room with eight exits. We take the one between the two we’ve already passed through, to finish off that corner!

It leads off and gradually bends to the right and descends in long, shallow steps. After maybe half a mile we come to a huge fissure in the rock but the path continues down the side of the fissure. We descend…

Eventually we see a blue light in the distance. We approach it and pass through with no apparent ill effect beyond a slight tingling. We are now at the bottom of the fissure and there isn’t too much to see beyond some boulders. It is quite dry down here. This cavern seems unlikely to yield much of interest so we return to the path and ascend. Someone notices that all our water bottles are now empty!! Could it be the effect of the blue light?

We get back to the eight arched room and go for the arch opposite where we first came in – it opens into another circular room with a dais at the other end but nothing else of note.

The arch one to the right of the spiraling upwards path seems to lead us spiraling down, which is a good sign. At the first of the inevitable side passages to the shaft we drop a copper piece, it falls for a while and we hear it hit something but it’s too faint to be sure if it’s rock or water. We descend another circuit and drop another – it hits rock. We also notice that there appear to be huge iron girders across the shaft. No one is too sure what they might be for.

We get to the bottom of the shaft. It is smooth stone with no boulders. Morgan notices that the walls appear to be have been scorched sometime in the past. Again, no one is sure what that might mean.

There are two other entrances/exits here – one smells of very little, the other has an unpleasant, acrid smell. We opt for the dry one. We find a row of cells, still populated with skeletons, what may be a guardroom and a small kitchen. Within the kitchen is a tap, and after running water through for a couple of minutes it seems drinkable. Hurrah!!

We elect to rest up for the night by our water source and continue exploring in the morning.
Bael takes first watch and is alerted by a scuttling sound – a huge tentacled centipede type creature drops from the ceiling. He grabs his sword and kicks Morgan awake. Lucky he did for the tentacles manage to paralyse Bael. Morgan jumps up and draws his sword and lets out a battle cry which awakens Minerva and Varys. Morgan lands a mighty blow and then is promptly paralysed! Minerva manages to land a hit on the beast but strangely fails to cut off any tentacles. She is then paralysed!!

Varys the Nervous girds his loins and casts Magic Missile. What a spell!! The Carrion Crawler collapses and everyone is saved. After a half hour or so the paralysis wears off and everyone has a laugh about how funny it would have been to be killed off in such a way. Then we all go back to sleep.

In the morning(!) we continue to explore south. The passage continues for a while then we see a blue light. Bael has an idea and walks up to it and passes his arm through, holding his full water bottle. It comes back empty. We head back to the bottom of the shaft, pausing while Bael fills his bottle.

We take the acrid smelling passage. The smell gets worse, and suddenly we are attacked in our midst by six troglodytes. No wonder it was so smelly!!

Only Morgan is unaffected by their terrible BO issues. However, he is at the back and currently unable to engage. To summarise – Bael has an absolute nightmare and it unable to land a blow. Minerva does a good job. Amber and Rob are attacked while still tied up (why didn’t Bael Charm them at breakfast time!!). Varys has to attempt some dagger action.

Somehow we survive the battle; Varys is able to swap places with Morgan so he can get involved. Rob’s bonds are severed and he is able to land a blow before being nearly killed. Magic Missile again proves it’s worth.

As the dust settles we realise Rob is missing. Morgan charges after him and is able to catch him before too long, given that he is almost dead and is only running from sheer effort of will…

Bael and Amber are also severely wounded, and questions are asked as to the wisdom of sending off the only person who could use the Staff of Healing on a scouting mission.

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We rope up and Rob leads us across the narrow, slippery ledges that make up the only passable parts of this hellish cavern.

We pass several pools of boiling mud when suddenly several things happen at once. A hideous head with a tentacled mouth appears from a pool to our left, Varys starts to chant an incantation and Amber stabs Bael in the back!!

Quick to react, Morgan turns and punches Varys square in the face, knocking him out. Bael yelps while Minerva clonks Amber over the head with the flat of her sword. Rob looses an arrow at the monster, but misses.

Isis suddenly realises that the monster is her master and she must subdue Minerva so that she will recognise it as her master as well. She attacks Minerva, but fails to pierce the fighter’s armour. Rob manages to graze the monster with an arrow but Bael misses.

Now, Rob also realises that the monster is his master and he turns and looses an arrow at Morgan at point blank range. Morgam responds with a tasty left hook and Rob falls over.
Amber too is suffering at the hands of Minerva – she slips over and then takes a boot to the head which knocks her out.

At this point Bael feels it might be time to attempt an exit. Morgan feels the call of the monster but manages to resist. The party are all still roped together and luckily the three strongest members are still compos mentis. They are able to slowly drag the prone bodies and the struggling Isis through to the nearest ledge. Unfortunately this is not the exit and so our intrepid heroes must delve deeper into the mountain caverns… We bind the arms and gag our ‘charmed’ companions and wake the unconscious ones so that they can walk.

The path descends and and the first fork we take the passage on the level (the right hand passage). It soon turns back on itself and becomes worryingly steep so we backtrack.

The other path (the left fork) continues to descend and then we come to a three way fork. For want of a better method of choosing we take the left passage. It descends and ends in water… Backtrack.

We take the middle passage. It veers to the right and then ends at the opening of a huge fissure – no way through here. Backtrack.

We take the right passage. It leads to the top of a scree slope so we descend it. It goes a long way down but eventually we get to the bottom and figure it’s time for a rest and some water. Isis is indignant that we attempted to attack her master and curses us. She says she cannot hear his voice any longer but knows that she serves him.

Bael attempts his own Charm. Firstly on Varys and then on Isis. It works!! They smile happily at him. Varys says that it was the little statue that first spoke to him…

After some rest we press on and and come to a lake. Bael wonders if there might be a small pale creature with lamp-like eyes living on an island in the middle. There is no sound of anything however so he decides to don the cloak of manta ray and explore. After 200 yds the water is only up to his shins so the others all join. The water briefly makes it to knee depth and then gets shallower again. At the far shore the ‘beach’ slopes up and we appear to be walking up a dried river bed.

In the cavern wall we spy an archway. Not a natural arch but one carved out of the rock. Morale rises and we pile on through.

After a while we pass through a vaulted chamber with ledges on either side of the passage. At times it seems like the DM is making it up as he goes along…

We eventually reach a circular chamber with 8 exits. The passage 90 degrees to our right appears to smell fresher so we eagerly enter. It rises and turns to the left. A passage heads off to the left – it ends at a huge shaft that both descends and ascends into blackness. We continue to climb the sloping passage. After what may be another turn of the spiral we find another passage to the left. Again it ends at a shaft. Back to the spiral. After a while it strightens out and we see the glimmer of day light!!!

We reach the end of the tunnel and find ourselves about 500 feet up a sheer cliff. Looking out on jungle below and mountains in the distance.

While the evil in the mud pools must be defeated, we need to gather strength and hone our skills before we return.

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