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Saturday, 17th April, 2004, 09:24 AM #81
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Originally Posted by omrob
Oddly enough, I'd never played PS: Torment till after I'd been running the game. However, don't worry, Clueless's stuff is rather different from the amnesiac plot of that game.
Saturday, 17th April, 2004, 09:31 AM #82
Superhero (Lvl 15)
Mmmm, the smell of orc, goblin and iron in the morning...
[This was written late in the week mostly, and I've not had time to edit it at all. Next week I plan on going back through to make some edits as well as revise the last update as well. But I figured you'd all appreciate an update now rather than waiting most of next week for me to tweak the grammer. Apologies if anything looks funky in the sentance structure.]
In an instant Sigil was gone and replaced with a singular moment of darkness, a sensation of weightlessness and instant, terrible cold. Barely a moment later and it was gone as they all emerged onto a surface of pitted iron, a patch of ground upon the flat surface of a massive cube floating in the endless expanse of Acheron’s first layer of Avalas. Overhead the sky was pitch black but dotted with distant cubes, all in slow states of motion hung there in the sky like bloated modron corpses under a new moon.
Fyrehowl shivered despite the warm temperature emanating from the metal underfoot. The celestial was clearly uncomfortable within Acheron, but she was not the only one of the five to appear so distressed. Both Toras and Nisha looked anxious to be gone from the plane and while the fighter did his best to stomach his discomfort, the tiefling was actively pacing and hoping from thin hoof to thin hoof. Her tail fully betrayed her feelings as it whipped from side to side fitfully.
“I really, really don’t like this plane… where’re we going fuzzy… you… celestial lady… Fyrehowl, yeah. Where’s the compass point?”
Fyrehowl smiled despite her unease with the conflict of her very being with the nature of Acheron. She took out the compass and held it in her hand, then spun in a slow circle before pointing off in one particular direction. That direction wasn’t to a point on the current cube, rather it went up slightly, roughly in the direction of another cube that drifted distantly in the sky. “That way, maybe that cube off in the distance. Shall we fly, or …?”
She let the question hang and looked at her companions. Clueless was looking away and towards a glimmer perhaps a mile distant that cut across the face of the cube, drifting more or less in a line towards the direction the lupinal was pointing towards.
“I think the Styx is over that way if we don’t want to fly, I don’t think all of us can.” Clueless said as he pointed towards the infernal river.
“I can solve the can’t fly part, but I only have so many of the potions for it. I don’t carry around more than I expect to use in a week or so. I work alone usually, no sense to carry more.” Nisha pointed towards the small satchel slung around one shoulder that dangled near to her hip.
They bantered some more, discussing the benefits and risks of going by way of the Styx. Fyrehowl seemed adamantly against it, but the others seemed to think it was best, despite the dangers involved. Finally, despite the lupinal’s ill ease with travel upon the black, infernal river, they set out across the warped steel surface of the cube face towards the serpentine river as it cut its way across the landscape.
Some twenty, uneventful minutes later the group stood upon the banks of the Styx where it had worn smooth and deep the metal of the cube by untold millennia of passage. The water ran unexpectedly fast, surging along in places to send up a mist of syrupy water. The water itself was black as the void above them, foul smelling and thick with hints of shapes reaching out of the currents to snatch at anything foolish enough to swim its depths. Nisha blinked hard and shook her head as they stood upon the bank, Toras and Fyrehowl both stood some feet back from the bank, while Clueless and Aren stood close to the edge, only inches back from the water. The mist off of the river made them pause and shift as its memory sapping influence sought to insinuate itself, only a few seconds of this made all of them step further back from the bank.
“So, what now? I don’t see anyone sitting around with a boat looking friendly and wanting to give strangers rides.” Nisha sat near the bank and questioned aloud to her companions.
Clueless looked back at her, then back to the river with a vague nagging feeling in the back of his mind concerning his own loss of memory. He said nothing, but at his pause, Fyrehowl spoke.
“You just need to stand near the bank and hold out a coin, the fiends know where you are. If they want to ferry you, they’ll appear. Don’t expect them to be trustworthy though.”
The others nodded and waited near the edge. Nisha began playing with the same copper piece she had before at the inn and Toras held a pair of stingers in his hand. Aren looked over at him, “They’ll take your money, but you do know that’s going to burn them to touch, yes?”
Toras smirked, “That’s why I’m paying in silver…”
“You try that at a few bars in the Hive I know of, wow… they won’t take kindly to you. Just don’t get us capsized ok?” Nisha mused up at the half-celestial.
Barely a minute had passed by when the waters some distance upstream seemed to flicker slightly and the ripples across the surface heralded the sudden appearance of a previously unseen skiff. Seemingly emerging from the river itself, or out of thin air, a slim, flat-bottomed skiff drifted with the currents downstream. Standing motionless at the back of the craft was a tall, rail thin figure wrapped in a tattered brown robe. It held a boatman’s pole cradled in its arms but the craft seemed to move of its own accord down the river without any action on the ferryman’s part.
“Why is it I suddenly feel more like flying?” Nisha’s tail twitched nervously as the boat drifted closer, slowed its approach and came to a silent rest on the metallic riverbank.
The boatman stood motionless in the skiff, only lifting its cowled head to reveal the jaundiced, skeletal face of a Marraenoloth. Twin burning reddish eyes seethed silent and malign from its skeletal eyesockets as it slouched forwards slightly, resting its weight on the pole in its arms. It seemed to be waiting for some word or request from the group.
Aren spoke first, “We need to buy passage from here to –that- cube there. Can you take us there?” she pointed up into the sky at the distant cube. The Yugoloth ferryman turned to look up in the direction of her hand, then back to her with its emotionless gaze. It said nothing, but stepped to the side and extended one of its hands out to her, palm up as if waiting for payment.
“Thank you.” Aren said as she nodded to the rest of her companions and placed a small gem into the palm of the Marraenoloth. It closed its hand and allowed her to step into the boat before repeating its stance for Toras. When it opened its hand for the fighter however the priestess’s gem was gone even though none of them had seen the fiend stow the gem anywhere visible.
Toras placed both of his coins in the palm of the ‘loth which then curled its hand around them and let him step into the boat. As he passed by however, its gaze followed him for a moment before it turned to accept payment from Fyrehowl.
The lupinal paid the fiend its money in gold and never once turned her gaze away from staring directly into its face, unwavering and slightly confrontational. The fiend said nothing, nor did it give her a response as it allowed her to enter the boat. Nisha paid next in a number of small gemstones that another ‘collector of donations’ might have noted to have apparently come from rings or other jewelry, pried from their original settings.
Finally Clueless was the last standing upon the bank of the river, waiting to pay the fiend for passage. He paused as his hand closed around his severed purse strings still hanging upon his belt. He stiffened and shut his eyes in frustration, only now remembering that he hadn’t a copper to his person. Still, the fiend was rigid with the same hand open for payment, two small discolorations on its flesh from where Toras’s silver coins had touched its palm.
“I can’t pay you, I don’t have any coin. Can one of my companions pay for me?” he seemed wary and self-conscious. The boatman didn’t move but kept its hand open for him as Fyrehowl began to take out several coins to pay for the bladesinger. As she did so, the ‘loth turned on her and shook its head. Angrily she put away her coin.
“How is he supposed to come with us if he doesn’t have coin, and we can’t pay for him?”
The Marraenoloth smiled grimly and touched its pole upon the edge of the bank as if to push the skiff off into the river and leave Clueless behind.
“Wait! I can’t just, I mean…” Clueless looked alarmed and so did his companions at the ferryman’s threat. Then, something odd happened. The boatman turned rapidly to look at Clueless and paused, gazing at him. He had the sudden impression that the fiend was looking -through- him, not at him. It canted its head slightly at an angle, blinked its crimson eyes and withdrew to the front of the craft to allow Clueless room to enter.
Not one to reject such an offer, he jumped about the ship and took a seat next to Fyrehowl. All of his companions looked curiously at the boatman’s back as the vessel moved away from the riverbank and rapidly moved downstream with the current.
“You’re one with words, I just hope he doesn’t drown us all now. I’ve never known them to give free rides either.” Fyrhowl bared her teeth and silently scowled at the Marraenoloth’s back as the craft sped down the river. Beside her, Clueless sat and wondered what in the hells the last minute or so meant. He couldn’t well answer it.
The boat moved across the face of the current cube till the group could see the approaching end of the current face several miles downriver. At the edge gravity seemed to flip over to the new orientation and soon they made the transition without so much as a jolt. Unexpectedly though an hour later the vessel sped off down a tributary to the sound of raging water. The boatman gave no warning and suddenly the vessel passed through a pocket of mist and churning water. The boat rocked and there was the sensation of weightlessness for a moment of two before the skiff re-emerged onto the river seemingly on another cube entirely.
Toras looked up, “The sky is different, we’re on a different cube. What does the compass say?”
The tiefling took out the compass and glanced at it. “This is the right cube I think. It’s starting to get warm actually.” She turned around in her place next to Toras and felt out the compass points for a direction. Finally, she pointed in a place roughly fifteen degrees off from where the vessel was headed. The compass –had- been held by the lupinal, and she hadn’t given it up as far as anyone had seen. Fyrehowl said nothing but quickly checked her other pouches for their proper contents.
“This is our stop.” Toras said to the fiend’s back as the vessel was already slowing and drifting towards the edge of the bank. As the boat alighted on the bank and stopped, the Marraenoloth gestured to the shore and turned away from them, making as if to put out onto the waters again. The party complied with its unspoken wish and stepped out onto the shore of rough, knobby iron dusted with reddish black rust.
Nisha held out the compass again with a pointed grin at the celestial. “That way. Getting pretty close it seems.” Behind her, the boatman and its skiff silently glided away with the current. Almost imperceptibly it glanced in their direction as it drifted away without a sound, its eyes glimmering like hot steel.
As the group traveled further from the Styx, the steel of the cube became warped and disrupted. From a distance it might have seemed as if some massive hand had reached down and crushed and bent the surface. And considering the unending wars of extermination between the orcish and goblinoid pantheons on the first layer of Acheron, the cause of the damage might have been less natural than deific. Regardless of the proximate cause of the warped metal, the normally flat surface of the cube was folded and rippled into a series of sharp hills, valleys and vales. A perfect place for hiding troops from the sight of armies marching on the flat surfaces of the cube, or even from hostile forces in the next valley over.
An hour later, having traveled in the direction of the compass’s more and more urgent pushing, the five crept along the base of a series of sharp, shallow hills. Halfway along their length, the lupinal stopped and perked her ears. She signaled for the group to pause as she strained to listen to some otherwise imperceptible sound that eluded her companions.
“There’s something ahead, I’d guess a camp or a group of people. I can barely make out some fires, maybe some drums, pack animals maybe, iron shod boots on the cube surface… try and be quiet once we get near the top of the ridge ahead.”
Toras drew his sword as she signaled the possible danger ahead. Aren sighed slightly and took out her wand again as Clueless drew his own blade. Nisha played with the compass some more.
“Yep, whatever we’re looking for, that seems like where it is. Umm…” she looked at Toras specifically. “Yeeeeaaaahhh… it might be nice if we could be quiet and all sneaky like for this? I don’t do sieges, and well, even all of us couldn’t if there’s lots of people on the other side of the hills here. I can make us all invisible, and if you can fly, all the better.”
Nisha passed around a number of vials and potion bottles, all of them in a different style and color of bottle, none of them likely paid for in the first place. Clueless spread out his wings and muted their colors to a pure, deep black without any other illumination as Fyrehowl lifted slightly off the ground. Toras looked up at the both of them and smirked as he quaffed two of the potions Nisha had given him. He too began to hover slightly as he faded from view.
“Try not to bump into each other, invisibility doesn’t let you see anyone else you know. And there’s a story there I’ll have to tell you later.” Nisha likewise quaffed two potions and soon the entire group was aloft and hidden from view. Silently, riding the wind they edged over the top of the ridge.
Stretching out below them, situated on the other end of the small bowl of a valley was a walled encampment. Orcs sprawled across the camp and groups of dozens of them marched in squads outside the hastily erected fortifications. Each of the four corners of the site had a squat observation tower, more for noticing anyone approaching over the hills than seeing beyond them so as not to reveal the location of the camp itself beyond the valley. Disorganized clusters of tents surrounded cookfires and several small wooden buildings seemed to comprise the barracks of officers and perhaps weapons storage.
However, that was not the site that most garnered the group’s attention. Their gaze, and the pull of the compass in Nisha’s hand was drawn towards an iron building sitting on a small, artificial mound at the center of the camp. The building was surrounded by guards at its single gated entrance, and a great banner was erected overtop of it, emblazoned with a symbol of a crushed goblin skull within a field of red with black watery curls surrounding the primary image. Orcish runes recounted recent victories in battle by the Blood River orc clan.
Cloaked by Nisha’s potion, Toras’s voice whispered to the others, “There’s a lot of them, but I think we can distract them enough to get into the center building. Looks like their clan trophy room and treasury. Anything important would be there, and looks like our package is there as well. Any ideas?”
Aren spoke up, “They’ve got a mix of mortals and petitioners for what its worth. I can tell anyways.” Fyrehowl nodded unseen.
“Looks like there’s a number of clerics walking around as well. Hopefully they expect something large, like a siege, and not a smaller pack… group, like us.”
“Pack? We must be growing on you.” Clueless chuckled back and tried to reach out to poke the lupinal. He only grabbed on thin air though.
“Well, I think that…umm… what in the sodding hells is that?!” Nisha’s train of thought derailed suddenly as the far side of the camp erupted in chaos. Beyond the far wall of the camp the sky was lit with the telltale flashes of teleportation magic and screaming goblins and hobgoblins descended on the orc encampment. The companions could only stare and watch in abject shock as an explosion suddenly erupted on one of the guard towers and it toppled inwards. The camp became a mass of screams, shrieks and bellows as the goblin raiders poured into the camp to meet the larger, but haphazardly organized orcs. Blade met blade, and more often than not, flesh as the mixed mortal and petitioner forces clashed openly.
In the chaos, the guards surrounding the center building rushed from their posts to repulse those goblins that had breached the walls. As they did, a number of teleportation flashes burst near the rear of the building. The orcs seemed not to notice, but the companions did.
“Oh pike it! They’re getting in where we need to be! Best distraction ever, move!” Nisha lamented as she flew over the walls towards the fortified building with the rest of the party in tow.
They reached the outer door as an explosion shook the building from its rear and the sound of tortured steel rang over the din of battle. Hurriedly, Nisha picked at the lock for several seconds and it fell to the ground as Toras battered against the frame. Unlocked, the door fell inwards with the force of his blow, likely weakened in some way by the damage to other side of the structure. Several flashes of light washed over the group as they barged inside to nearly stumble over several dead orc bodies and listen to the scream of others outside rushing towards their location.
The inside of the building, peppered with soot and burning iron as it was from the explosion that had torn a rough hole in the back wall was a sight to behold. At least seven barrels sat on the ground, each of them packed to overflowing with silver and gold coins. Open crates filled with iron and gold ingots stood opposite them on the other wall. A pile of carved and decorated goblin skulls, each inscribed with the name of the former owner stood stacked above a pile of stolen weapons, heraldry, banners and standards taken in battle from a goblin clan identified on the banners as the ‘Venom Fangs’. The standards on the items on the floor matched those borne by the goblins currently attacking the campsite.
“What’s the compass say? Which of these is it?” Fyrehowl shouted as she and Toras moved to block the entrance against the group of five orcs rushing the hill to fight what they seemed to presume were goblins.
Nisha’s now visible face was a mask of large, overwhelmed eyes and a giddy grin as she looked at the wealth surrounding her. She blinked and shook off the luster lust as she examined the compass. Giving a confused look she glanced back to Clueless and Aren as she moved to the back of the room and stopped near to the hole blasted in the iron wall at the rear.
As Nisha fervently looked for the object they had come for, orcish bellows at the main entrance were suddenly cut off as Fyrehowl and Toras turned visible, their swords impaled solidly in the chests of two orcs. Those behind them screamed curses and rushed the doorway. Three fighters fought against the lupinal and half-celestial, hard pressed despite their larger numbers. Behind them however a single orc dressed in vestments of Shargaas the Nightlord pointed into the room, directing a towering, heavily tattooed companion that hefted a massive greataxe.
Aren turned visible as she stared intently at one of the orcs. He blinked, suddenly confused and looked at his sword then up at Fyrehowl. He started to apologize for mistaking her for a goblin when Toras cleaved through his arm and into his upper chest, dropping him in a bloodied pile.
Fyrhowl had slashed one of the other remaining orcs as the larger one laughed and approached, greataxe in hand. Behind him, the cleric was waving his hands and chanting a spell in deep, intoning language. Shouting a curse he hurled his hand out towards the party as a black wave burst outwards in the center of the room. Fyrehowl faltered and her defense dropped as she grimaced in pain from the spell, Toras seemed to mostly shrug it off as he parried the first whistling cleave of the largest orc’s axe. Clueless likewise seemed to mostly shrug off the spell’s effects as he rushed forwards, flying over the heads of the orcs at the door in an attempt to reach the spell hurling cleric.
Behind them all, Aren and Nisha seemed to be out of the range of the spell’s effect. Over the fighting Nisha shouted in frustration. “Pike it all, they took it!” She glanced at the ground and several items scattered there, then back to her party.
Back at the door, Fyrehowl, sickened by the cleric’s spell, took a spear jab in her left shoulder as one of the several thrusts at her broke through her defense. Toras bellowed and swung at the orc chieftain, wounding it heavily and wiping the smirk of arrogance from its face.
Clueless dove at the cleric, slashing his sword up the length of its forearm and disrupting its spellcasting. Landing behind the wounded orc and ducking into a crouch, several upward thrusts silenced its screams to its patron deity as it slumped heavily to the ground.
The death scream of the cleric gathered the attention of the chieftain, and with its brief look of concern behind it, its greataxe dipped slightly as Toras jabbed his blade between its ribs. It jerked and turned to look at him, then the blade lodged in its ribs. It seemed incredulous as it tilted forwards with blank, glazed over eyes, dead.
As the cleric and chieftain lay dead, the resolve and moral of the remaining two orcs failed and they died by Fyrehowl’s blade as they turned to run. Toras touched some minor wounds he had taken in the fight, then helped steady Fyrehowl who grimaced at the wound in her shoulder. Aren touched the wound and whispered a soft prayer to her patron, calling on her to close and heal the wound. Her hand began to glow with a pale rose light and in seconds the wound had vanished.
“Better?” the priestess asked. Fyrehowl nodded, “Thank you. We should hurry though, they’ll be sending more soon.”
Outside the battle still raged and dimly, the lupinal’s ears perked to listen for the sound of other approaching orcs or goblins. “We need to leave now, there’s more coming this way. What’s back there Nisha?”
The others glanced warily at the door and approached the tiefling where she crouched on the floor next to an iron ring in the wall. A broken length of chain and a single snapped leg shackle dangled from it next to a small spattering of blood. The compass in her hand flashed with an intermittent light.
“The what was a who… and the goblins took her.” She frowned and her tail jerked side to side in irritation. A chorus of disappointed groans echoed from the others.
“Does the compass point to where she is now?” Clueless asked with some concern in his voice.
“Yeah, looks like they teleported to another cube. More flying for us at the very least, and it’s down.” She pointed towards the floor. “Either the bottom of this cube, or maybe even the next layer of the plane. This isn’t going to be as easy as we’d hoped.”
Nisha stood up and held out a long wooden case with a lock dangling open at its side, “This was chained to the wall too. The compass hums when it goes near some of the stuff in here so it looks like it was the stuff of the prisoner here. Grab some of the gold and we should leave.”
The inside of the case held several items lain over the top of a folded black robe that swirled with runes burned into the dark velvet. A long, golden etched sword and a matched, red bladed dagger lay on top of the robe along with a set of simple but visibly glowing bracers and a pair of sparkling rings. Nisha pushed the robe to one side to reveal a slim leather spellbook or two underneath the robe.
“Somebody had themselves a wizard…and our employer evidently wants them. I’m not so sure I want to meet them though.” The tiefling frowned as she closed the case and slipped it into her satchel.
“Why is that?” Aren asked curiously.
Nisha pointed back towards her satchel as she moved to quickly dump coins from one of the barrels into it. “Because that robe was a black Archmage’s robe. Doesn’t do a think for a mage who isn’t evil, in fact, I think it hurts anyone who isn’t. And the dagger was poisoned. Lovely huh?” Then Nisha’s greed quickly got the best of her.
For a frantic minute or two, the group gathered as much of the gold and silver as they could before they rapidly bolted from the building. Outside the orcs were beginning to rout the goblins that had begun to teleport back from where they had come from. Presumably they had spellcasters with them capable of the task. In seconds though, the five had flown beyond the range of the archers and any spellhurlers from the orc encampment and were moving with rapid speed to the east across the face of the cube, skirting the land as much as possible.
The compass drew them onwards and as they approached the rim of the cube it became readily apparent that their target had been taken to another cube entirely. In fact, based on the direction the magical bauble was pointing them in, their path led down into the void past the point where the cubes hung solid and whole. Down in the darkness, the cubes began to appear broken and battered, incomplete and unwhole; somewhere in the depths of Thuldanin their quarry was waiting.
Last edited by Shemeska; Saturday, 17th April, 2004 at 09:41 AM.
Saturday, 17th April, 2004, 02:13 PM #83
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Ah, an update! Nice way to start the weekend.
As I mentioned before, I'm running a planar campaign too and am thinking of allowing some of the spells from the 3e MotP, with a few tweaks. One which I can see being very helpful for (and detrimental to) both PCs and NPCs is Zone of Respite. I put up a question about it here. Care to comment?
Monday, 19th April, 2004, 01:53 PM #84
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Shem I am curious, did this adventure start at level 1? I assume this is before savage species came out, so are these overpowered PCs (as in high ECL so it takes more xp to level) or did you use something similiar to Savage Progression?
Keep up the good work.
Tuesday, 20th April, 2004, 02:48 AM #85
Novice (Lvl 1)
I've followed your posts here at the EN boards and at WOTC's MotP and Planescape boards.
For quite some time now I've read your story here and I really love it!
My party's just escaped Ravenloft (well 2 out of 4, the others died in the final battle against Azalin's most powerfull allies over the Rift Spanner) and are up in the planes now.
I will DEFINATELY use some of your masterful ideas here...
Keep up the good work! I'll check this page 2 to 3 times a week.
Last edited by dal673; Tuesday, 20th April, 2004 at 02:49 AM. Reason: spelling errors
Tuesday, 20th April, 2004, 04:55 AM #86
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Started at level 10 roughly - 10 to 12 along those lines.
And for all over a year and a half plus change playing... we're level 22 now.
Tuesday, 20th April, 2004, 05:50 AM #87
Superhero (Lvl 15)
I am the very model of a 'lothy individual...
Odd, for whatever reason I've not been getting the reply notifications for the thread here. Otherwise I would have responded before Clueless did.
Yes, they started around level 10 or so, and I did my own little ad hoc ECL determinations for some of the characters. The lupinal and the succubus being the prime examples.
And don't worry about checking so often, I'll only have the time to update 1/week at the moment, though I might speed up over the summer. We'll see. *grin*
Last edited by Shemeska; Tuesday, 20th April, 2004 at 05:51 AM.
Wednesday, 21st April, 2004, 12:13 PM #88
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Topic notification has been disabled.
Sunday, 25th April, 2004, 11:12 AM #89
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
This is unacceptable Shem! Update!
Sunday, 25th April, 2004, 02:14 PM #90
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
We've kidnapped him. If you want to see updates... deliver 20 million jink in unmarked coinage to a small hovel in Plaguemort, you will find the address attached to this scroll. Do not go to the Sons of Mercy. Do not go to the Hardheads. Do not contact celestials, if you want to see Shemmie alive.
Last edited by Clueless; Sunday, 25th April, 2004 at 02:15 PM.
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