This has been a good week so far, starting last Saturday. Yea, I’m lumping it in with this week. Well last Thursday as well. Because last Thursday, Ari called my phone and let me know he was in town for a suprise visit. Ari has been in the military since April and has been severely missed by a lot of ppl. So that good to hear. Last night, Ari and I ordered pizza, then jumped over to Blockbuster and picked up a video game to add to the stack we meant to play and a movie called Blood & Chocolate. It’s about werewolves; the theme of the night was werewolves because Ari had a red wine called Werewolf and it even had the claw markings of Werewolf: the Apocalypse (RPG), so how could we NOT try it. Ari’s dad and I talked about fish recipes and he made broiled basa and veggies, which was excellent. Next time I’m definitely brining him something to try. Anyways, the video game sucked, as did the next, and we never even touched Baldur’s Gate, so we jumped right to the movie. And I’m glad we did; Ari, his brother Josh, and I had a blast making fun of it the whole time, it was great. Half-way through, Derek and his cousin John joined us and did the same. Near the end Kath showed up as well and we all had a great laugh. After that, Ari and Josh declared they had an even worse werewolf movie called The Howling III, so we popped that one in. Wow. They were right. An 80’s movie about Marsupial werewolves; how could we NOT MST3K that one…Towards the end, I had to go, for it was 1 am and I had work the next day, and everyone else followed suit.
That Saturday, I ran game #3 of the D&D campaign I started at Ragnarok. Wow. That was a good session. Ran from noonish till just past 9 p.m. Let me break it down for you. Loooong post, so if you don’t care, stop here.
4 players. Eric (Greythore Bloodbeard – Dwarven Fighter), Bonnie (Learwynn – Elven Rogue), Kath (Xene – (disguised) Drow Wizard), and Derek (Dorian – Tiefling Rogue), and Derek’s hireling (Alden Firth – Human, played by me). All Chaotic Neutral, except Alden. Powderkeg waiting to happen. We recapped a bit, which I’m not going to post here since this session didn’t touch so much on the last few. Basically, an annoyed archmage Gated them to another plane since they accidentally foiled his plans but it wasn’t technically their fault. Either way, they try and get their bearings and I described a rather martian landscape, with twisted rock formations, hazy pink sky with twin suns, one red and a smaller yellow sun. As they struggled to get their bearings, the Elf tries to locate a sphere she was given two sessions ago and follows it’s roll marks around a rock to find a small black goblinoid holding it in his grimy paws. He gasps and drops it and starts chittering incoherently. The others surround him and eventually start to realize he’s speaking broken goblin. Basically, they get that he calls them “sky people,” and starts kow-towing and scraping. They get the idea to milk this and start playing the part of gods, and I have to say, they took it much farther than I expected, which was really cool. I’ll get to that later. Either way, they make travel with their new guide, Squizak, who after some questioning tells them his tribe, 2 days distant is the nearest civilization they’re gonna find. They manage to camp a night (but not without a peeping tom and other fun RP-bits), restock their food supply in an excellent battle with some sort of extraplanar rhino, decide NOT to swim in a river of acid, and catch a close look at a flock of creatures their guide only describes as “toothy horrors.”
Eventually, they get to the tribe’s mountain cave, and they demand to see their leader, have him come to them since Gods will not do otherwise. While Squizak goes in, they set up a nice impression; the two elves using illusions to improve their appearance (Squizak commented on the Drow’s dark skin earlier, how neat it was), the tiefling set some mushroom stalks on fire and held it in his bare, fire red hands, and the dwarf…Braided his beard impressively. So when the tribe leader and the rest of the tribe came out, they were nearly overwhelmed by their glory. Except the leader, who was a creature called a Barghest. It immediately saw through their ruse and tried to cow the raving goblins with a display of its own innate magic, but opposed Bluff/Intimidate checks with aid anothers allowed the PC’s to win by over 10 points and throw the tribe into a religious frenzy. The players started with chants of “destroy any nonbelievers,” and it almost got the barghest killed on the spot, had he not invoked a Rite of Challenge right there to decide the outcome. So into the cave they went. He tried to cheat the elf out of using her gear and brought his #2 into the fight, but at that point, the players decided to screw rules and whomp him right there, and did so. Although 50% miss chances are their bane. Not ONCE did they land a hit on the #2 barghest while he used his Blink ability. Once it was over though, he got stomped as well. Afterwards, they held a celebration where they held a ritual that made Squizak leader of the tribe and effectively their “prophet.” As I said, they did such an amazing job keeping up the godship I had to change the intended plotline to compensate for it. So treasure was gained, as well as an army of eager followers. They healed up for a few days, reveled, leveled, and explored a bit, finding a water cavern, a treasury, and a third passage with a set of pillars marked in various languages “Realm of the Shadow God: None shall Enter.”
Naturally, having killed two gods, what was a third? Despite the tribe’s warning of this Elder Shadow God being another “sky-person” and so strong, they pushed onwards, finding a spiral stairacase that led to a mass burial chamber with a pair of Otyguh’s (sp.?) who put up a token fight. Many mount spells were summoned and many a magical horse panicked and crammed themselves into a side passage, blocking it. They went down the other, and found that as they went around the bend, the air became hazy, dark, and chilling. They kept going and eventually all light extinguished, even Darkvision. They felt around a central chamber and were eventually greeted by an amused chuckle, having found “Lady” Tsabraxithyl, Shadow God (Dragon). Not that they could see to know that then. So they questioned her in the dark regarding a portal. She knew of one. They asked if they could use it. She said no. Until they started bargaining with her, which was quite interesting. The Elf rogue offered her 2,000 gold stash right off the bat, which got her and her alone safe passage. The Drow offered the human hireling off, which sent him running back up the stairs, but eventually settled on a potent gem that enhanced a magical weapon they didnt have. That’, and the tiefling said you can’t sell my hireling. Instead, said tiefling offered a +2 longsword as collateral until he could come back with 3 human offerings (not that he intended to ever return), which the dragon graciously accepted. And the dwarf offered 100 gold, which got him safe passage out of her cave, since he decided to mouth off once or twice, and eventually the 3-person offering was opened to include him as well in the bargain. Once the deal was sealed, the darkness dissolved and they were greeted by the sight of a young Shadow Dragon, who cheerfully offered to lead them to the portal for free. It bounded ahead and they followed the sound of it’s voice, leading to a lake with dark water and a blue glow coming from the bottom.
The Elf rogue immediately went for a swim. That’s when the Tiefling asked her where the portal led and the dragon stuck her head out of the ceiling shadows, smiled, and responded with “ah, now there’s the right question.” Simultaneously, the rogue heard the tiefling call out “STOP!” underwater, turned to look, then turned back to find herself staring in the blank eyes of a zombie. Initiative was rolled. The rogue went first, and decided to swim for the portal. The zombie couldn’t stop her and she made it, taking herself out of combat. The others started decimating zombies and the dragon eventually made a comment about them destroying her guardians and their gear being appropriate restitution, so she strafed them with her breath weapon, healing the zombies, and as an unfortunate side effect, bestowing negative levels. They decided the deal was off, so they started heading back for her lair to collect their gear (greedy, greedy adventurers!), which got her off the ceiling, into the tight passageway, and into a tough fight. Shadow Dragons can become invisible when they’re not in full daylight and as I said before, 50% miss chances screw these guys, as it started to once again. The drow tried a fireball scroll, which washed over the dragon’s spell resistance to toast the dwarf, but eventually saved the day (quite literally) by outlining the dragon in faerie fire, so no more miss chance. Still, it was a long fight, but eventually the dragon was overcome and looting was done, which the elf was unanimously voted to be excluded from since she was not present for the fight.
Meanwhile, the Elf, on the other side, found herself in a very, very dark place. Completely barren, save for a few rocky outcroppings, the pitch black sky and grey-black color of everything, including her gave a very depressing feel to the environment. She also saw shadows of various sorts flitting just outside of her vision, and usually from behind, so she wisely decided to wait until the others showed up and hid nearby. Eventually the others gathered their crap, counted everything, and went through the portal. They were greeted by the same picture, only moreso. The elf sees the gear the dwarf is lugging, and realizes they spent their time looting instead of coming for her (that and they didn’t look too hard for her), and gets angry and keeps hiding, following their heels once they start moving again. They heard all sorts of grunts, growls, and moans just outside their vision accompanied by the occasional stone being disturbed and even a large whoosh as something unseen took to the air. Think Pitch Black, if you’ve ever seen the movie. Eventually things quiet down and they make camp, and the dwarf keeps first watch. The elf sneaks up on him, places a knife to his throat and starts demanding why he and the others left her. A few words were exchanged and the dwarf head-butts her in the face, breaking her nose. The elf, however, still gets her dagger across his throat, not managing to outright kill him, but does manage to sever his vocal cords. Initiative was rolled, and a few blows were traded before the rest of the party awoke. The tiefling and drow tried to talk her out of her anger, but Learwynn would have nothing of it, and strode purposefully into the dark, away from the meager, gray campfire. As she left, two formless shadows molded into the shape of humanoids, looked back at the others with pearly white eyes, and melted back into the ground and slithered after her like snakes. Still, no one wanted to go back for her. The damage had been done. While the others tended to Greythore, the elf heard sobs and whispers of loneliness coming from further in the dark. She followed the noise, and after a few moments, lost the others completely in the darkness. She then encounters a shade known as an Allip. The Allip changed its face, eventually settling on a tortured variant of her own, and then used it’s hypnotic powers to hold her enthralled while it eased her pain (and drained her Wisdom to 0, killing my first PC ever).
After wandering seemingly aimlessly for hours the next “day,” the group came across a very familiar looking mountain. Closer inspection revealed that it was a dark duplicate of the mountain they stayed with the goblins in. They started the climb up to the top, and were greeted by the spectral remnants of what was once Learwynn (still played by Bonnie, and quite well, I might add), sobbing and demanding how could they leave her alone like that. Initiative. And so the party’s true colors shone through once more. Dorian and Alden failed their saves vs. her hypnosis and found themselves enthralled while she charged Greythore and drained two points of Wisdom. Keep in mind he had a grand total of 4 points, uninjured. And she was rolling 1d4 points a touch. That sent him running to keep up with the drow who had sprinted ahead at the beginning of initiative. He followed the shadow passages, noting the beady eyes of shadowy goblin-like figures tracking her movements and ran to the lake, where a gray light shone from within it’s depths. As Greythore arrived, he found Xene deep in concentration, having cast an Analyze Portal spell. 5 rounds later, quite a few Wisdom points lighter, Dorian managed to break free and run ahead, leaving Alden to contend with Learwynn. However he managed to break free next round and sprinted away, with her hot on his heels. As the sounds of Learwynn’s anguished cries grew closer, Xene, having trouble seeing the portal’s destination (couldnt beat a DC 17 caster level check) decided to abandon the spell and go for another swim, with the others right behind him. As they all made it across, Dorian panicked at the sight of Learwynn behind him (rolling a Nat 1 on his swim check) and floundered just outside the portal, costing him a few more points of Wisdom as she grabbed him again. However, a new check sent him through the gray light, all abandoning Learwynn to her grim fate as a Shadow plane native. They found themselves weary but in a beautiful, sun-drenched forest, amonst the sounds of birds chirping and mossy green rocks, and that’s where we cut.