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Sunday, 22nd August, 2010, 07:55 PM #491
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Speaking of which... I apologize to all of you for the drop-off in updates. I'm just going through one of those crazy-busy periods, with other stuff sucking away all of my free time. Although I left my old job back in February, I've recently taken on a regular contracting gig, which uses up most of the time I'm not spending taking care of the kids. On top of that, my lovely wife has scheduled me a busy weekend social calendar for the summer. (Just got back from a camping trip, in fact, which included Aravis and his family.) The result: not much time to write Story Hour. But I'm sure the wheel will turn eventually, and I'll continue writing. You all still have my promise that this Story Hour will someday conclude!
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Friday, 27th August, 2010, 06:22 PM #492
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
Don't bet on it. Sagiro's a great big jerk, and after what he pulled at the game last night we may throttle him before he has a chance to finish the story. We were forcibly reminded that if we like someone, they must be eeevil. It'd been just long enough that the rule had slipped our minds.
Friday, 27th August, 2010, 11:59 PM #493
Scout (Lvl 6)
Monday, 30th August, 2010, 07:36 AM #494
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
It's a short update, but after this long I wanted to post something...
Sagiro’s Story Hour, Part 316
The immediate problem, then, is that they must get past the closest goblin sentry without doing anything the other sentries will notice. Worse, the ridge grows narrower at the spot where the sentinel stands, its rocky top little more than a three-foot-wide fly-walk with a steep drop on both sides. The interposing goblin stands at the top of a thin switchback-trail which leads down into the goblin encampment.
After a quick discussion of options over the mind-link, Kibi casts charm monster. “This never works,” he grumbles as usual.
It works! The goblin blinks a couple of times and looks around in confusion. Kibi quickly puts on his semi-sentient Cloak of Diplomacy.
“Excuse me!” he calls. The goblin looks down and sees... rats? Talking rats? Is he going crazy? He had just been tasked with reporting anything unusual, and this certainly meets the criteria. But... but... that grey one in the front is his friend, he's sure of it.
“We're a special rat task force sanctioned by Maglubiyet himself,” Kibi explains. “We're here to help the goblin armies, but our mission is very, very secret. Don't look down, or make any sign that you've noticed us.”
The goblin, Margad, nods slightly. Kibi hears the cloak whisper in his mind: What Margad most wants is to be important. He's sick of being a grunt in the army. He wants to be an officer, and he's only waiting for a big break.
“If you help us,” says Kibi, “you will gain special favor with Maglubiyet.”
It's all Margad can do to stop himself from dropping to his knees in thanks.
“Are you a high priest?” he asks.
“My boss is a high priest,” Kibi answers. “He recommended you as someone we could trust. What are you current orders?”
“To keep my eyes open for anything out of the ordinary,” says Margad. “Which, I have to say, you are...”
“It's extremely important that you don't say anything about us,” says Kibi urgently. “You are the only one who can know. We chose you because we know we can rely on your discretion.”
Margad stands up straight. “I'm honored, sir. If I may ask, are you a rat, or a goblin disguised as a rat?”
“It's a disguise,” Kibi confides.
The goblin scratches his head. “Who are you trying to hide from? Everyone here is part of Glemiyal's great army!”
Kibi thinks for a moment. “We're preparing for the invasion against the halflings,” he ventures. “We hear they have many rats there, so...”
“Ah! I get it,” says Margad. “Clever. It figures the halfling cities are infested with rats. I hear they live in filth, and are little more than rats themselves.”
“Can I kill him now?” Ernie thinks over the mind-link.
Margad continues. “Does the fact that you're already disguised mean that the attack is imminent, or even underway?”
“Soon,” says Kibi. “You'll receive your orders when it's time.”
“What would you like me to do until then?”
“Continue as you were,” says Kibi, “and be sure to report anything unusual. Just don't mention seeing us, since we're secret agents. We wouldn't want you to get in trouble.”
“Of course, sir. You can rely on me!”
“That's why we chose to tell only you. Your loyalty is beyond question. Good luck, solider.”
The rats scamper off. Margad sneaks a peek at them out of the corner of his eye, then consciously turns his back on them with a self-satisfied expression. He makes a show of looking in a different direction with his spyglass.
The high ridge continues its vertical undulations, but stays perilously narrow for another mile or two, Eventually the grade opposite the preponderance of goblins becomes gentle enough for the Company to travel a bit faster on the left down-slope, though the stealthy Dranko, who has little trouble skirting the sentries by himself, stays on the high ridge to better keep an eye on goblin activities. Minute by minute the pack of rats progresses unseen across the high hills of the Crimson Maw; the light never changes, and the murmur of thousands of goblins becomes an ambient noise as persistent as the ocean. After several hours the ridge tilts steeply upward; Dranko takes point while the rest scramble behind. There are a few false summits but Dranko finally gains the peak, and his breath is taken away. Below him, on a huge plain at least two miles across, camps the bulk of the goblin army, at least twenty thousand strong. Rising up from the center of the army is a craggy mountain, and atop that mountain Dranko can see what is surely the Iron Tower.
The Tower is a tall black-iron cylinder, seemingly jammed straight down into the sloping side of the mountain. From this distance its windows are thin vertical lines of glowing red. Its top is flat and unadorned. An enormous wide staircase rises from the flat rocky ground to the massive tower gates, a two hundred foot ascent at least. The goblin army sprawls right to the foot of that staircase. Dranko squints, but doesn't see any goblins marching up or down the stairs, or stationed on them.
“That’s quite a staircase,” he opines.
In fact, at a normal walking pace, it would take a good five minutes to climb them. Not wanting to waste the effort, and put off by the thousands of goblins standing in the way, Aravis casts teleport to get them all to the tower’s roof.
It fails. It would appear that in addition to preventing flight, the Crimson Maw also prohibits teleportation magic.
Faced with this new tactical conundrum, the Company brainstorms. Once they get to the stairs, Morningstar could block pursuit with a prismatic sphere. Walls of force would be similarly useful. It’s the getting there that’s the problem. Illusionary party members could serve to draw off enemy forces, but not enough of them. Can they bring sufficient firepower to bear, to simply blast through the goblin hordes? Probably not. Aravis jokingly proposes that they gate in the dwarves from Gurund, and have them dig them a tunnel to the Iron Tower. Afterward they can stay in the Maw until they’re angry enough to march out and destroy the Guild of Chains.
Edghar offers to scout for them. “I look like a rat and move like a monkey. Who’s going to catch me? And I’ve got my Horn of Fog to cover my escape, if it comes to that.”
Grey Wolf finds that unacceptably risky.
Perhaps they can cast reduce and invisibility on everyone except Dranko, who can use his Robe of Blending to look like a goblin. Then Dranko could just carry everyone to the tower. But even with someone riding in the Flask of Body Pouring, that’s too much weight for Dranko to bear.
Could they summon magical horses and pound through the army before it knows what’s happening? Stylish, yes, but only Grey Wolf is an expert enough rider to be confident of staying in his saddle.
It’s a thorny problem, and it takes them a good half an hour before Aravis hits upon the simple solution. They can’t fly or teleport over the goblins, and it’s too dangerous to go through the goblins – so they’ll just have to go under the goblins instead. All kidding about hundreds of gated dwarves aside, he realizes that he himself is the key to the plan -- he can shapechange into a Digger, the void-mouthed tunnel-making creature employed by the orcs of Nahalm!
The Digger claws away rock like it’s butter, scooping the fill into its huge black maw and seemingly annihilating it. It’s the perfect tool for a job like this one. The party moves down the far side the ridge, gathers behind a stand of boulders, and spends a few minutes working out the details before putting their plan in motion.
First, while the others keep a careful eye out for sentries, Aravis uses a Rod of Greater Metamagic silence to quietly shapechange into a Digger. (Inside his face, the sucking black void-maw feels alien and a little bit scary.)
Then he starts to dig downward at an angle, intending to start with a 20’ descent so that the long tunnel ahead won’t alert any goblins on the surface. The Digger’s technique back in the orcish territory naturally made a arched and relatively stable tunnel, but Aravis is no expert. Scree suspects that Aravis’s tunnels will collapse quite readily, but Kibi – who is an expert – corrects Aravis’s technique.
While Aravis continues to dig, Kibi casts an extended persistent image to mask the hole with an illusion of seamless, unblemished stone. It’s not long before Aravis is ready to start the long horizontal bypass beneath the goblin army.
Kibi can’t stop grinning as he follows behind Aravis. “This is great! Why haven’t we been traveling like this all the time?”
Aravis would be happy to explain why not, but his mouth is not made for speaking. Also, he’s shoveling rock into it as fast as he can. It’s tiring, but he soldiers on, the others trailing at a respectful distance. Every few minutes Scree makes a foray to the surface and pokes an eye out, sending course-corrections to Aravis via Kibi.
“There’s something you don’t see every day: a thousand goblins doing jumping jacks.”
It’s a slow hour of trudging in the dark, the scraping of the Digger’s claws on the stone the only sound they hear. They pass the time wondering where the rock goes when Aravis eats it.
Dranko hazards a guess. “Maybe the rock gets stored in an extra-dimensional stomach.”
Morningstar blinks. “Did you really just say the words ‘extra-dimensional stomach?’ Have I mentioned that our lives are really, really weird?”
It’s a bit daunting to think that thousands of goblin soldiers are gathered only twenty feet above their heads. But finally Scree guesses that they’re directly beneath the Iron Tower, and Aravis starts to dig upward, leaving a succession of ramps for the party to use for the ascent. They have to gain about three hundred feet of elevation, since the bottom of the Tower is embedded high on the mountain. By the time Aravis runs into an inedible iron ceiling, he’s bone-tired. He turns into a rust monster but finds that the underside of the Iron Tower is impervious. (On the other hand, all of the metal on his friends’ gear smells like mouth-watering steak. The rest of the party sidles away nervously.)
“Can we use discern location on Maglubiyet’s Fang?” Ernie asks.
Morningstar shakes her head. “Not enough information.”
“Same problem with locate object” says Kibi. “We don’t know what it looks like.”
“Maybe passwall will do it,” Aravis suggests.
“We won’t have to,” says Scree, who’s been scouting around beneath the tower’s bottom. “I’ve found a chamber in the rock, directly beneath the tower. That room has an iron ceiling, with a trap-door!”
Aravis tunnels to Scree’s discovery: it’s an ancient and long-disused dungeon. Rotting skeletons of long-dead victims are still chained to the wall, though most of the bones lie in dusty heaps below the shackles. A stone staircase rises up along one wall to a clear trap-door in the iron ceiling. Ernie goes up to listen, and hears a faint chanting from somewhere higher in the tower. The trap-door is barred from the other side, but it’s nothing that a knock won’t foil. Dranko slowly pushes open the trap door as quietly as he can and pokes his head up.
He’s in a uninhabited storeroom with iron walls. The chanting is now clearer, still above them, but not too far away. There’s another door at the far side of the room. He pokes his head back down and grins to the others.
…to be continued…
Tuesday, 31st August, 2010, 08:18 PM #495
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
Awesome update! Brilliant work on the part of the party, tunneling through to their goal - the resourcefulness of the players never ceases to amaze!
Tuesday, 31st August, 2010, 08:36 PM #496
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
double post - eliminated
Last edited by SolitonMan; Wednesday, 1st September, 2010 at 09:46 PM.
Friday, 24th September, 2010, 04:29 PM #497
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
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ø Ignore steeldragons
Saw you were next to last on the list! *gasp* (bump.)
Hope you get a chance to leave another update...soooon.
I've read all of parts 1 and 2 already. Fantastic. If you won't novelize it, I'll do it for you! lol. Or better yet, a series of graphic novels.
As always, keep up the remarkable play.
Thanks for the adventure.
Tuesday, 28th September, 2010, 02:44 PM #498
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
Sagiro has been absurdly busy, and due to Otherworld (there's a few spaces left! For goodness sake, come!) we've even had trouble scheduling the next game. Looks like we get to play twice in October, even if they're both at the end of October.
- Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.
Thursday, 30th September, 2010, 05:49 PM #499
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Sunday, 3rd October, 2010, 04:14 PM #500
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
One month since an update from Sagiro. I'm sad.