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"Out of the Frying Pan"- Book IV - Into the Fire [STORY HOUR COMPLETED - 12/25/06]

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Tony Vargas said:
I remember the Modron, but don't remember why they'd want to drag it along. Did they believe it could help them enter/navigate the Maze?

By way of (incomplete) answer I give you this from Session #51:
“I believe that creature, you know the one with the pyramidal shape and the horn-like nose and three spindly legs and arms is the key to finding the Maze,” Martin said. “I believe it came from there, and if I can examine it and try to communicate with it we may not need waste our time going to the Pit of Bones.” (1)

“It is gone,” Distelbowden said, coming back into the room.

“Gone?”

“It disappeared the night of the battle. We did not think of it that night, feeling it was best kept safe in its room, but the next morning when we went to give it some exercise and let it wander about a bit, it was gone.”

“I would bet anything that Mozek took it,” Kazrack said.

“Natan-Ahb does not approve of gambling,” Belear chastised.

“He probably used it to find the Maze,” Martin theorized.

“Or killed it to keep us from learning something from it,” Ratchis suggested.

As for this:

Tony Vargas said:
On a completely different subject:

37 rounds?

Wow.

One thing I like about this story hour is how far removed it is from some of the conventional on-line D&D community wisdom. Mention a 37-round, mid-level combat on the WotC boards and there'll be a greek chorus of folks telling you that you're "doing something wrong," and explaining that the 'right' way is for combats at that level to be decided in a round or three of mind-boggling damage-trading or a brief flurry of specific, unstoppable spell combos.

Makes me wonder how many people actually play the game.

And do any of them really think 2 rounds of "I cast quickened brokenspell + questionable non-core PrC ability: 4.687x10^9 damage!" is more fun that what we've just seen recounted above?

The funny thing is that is not even the longest combat in the campaign (though it nearly is) - but yeah I have even participated/started threads on the subject of average combat length (like this one and this one) and found my game's average (a little more than 13 rounds) was very high.

As for fun, well, it is certianly more fun for me and my group - but different people measure fun differently - maybe some people would be bored. . . And I would be too if it were not for the combination of factors I listed in my post above. But I'm glad you like it.
 
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Ciaran

First Post
This was an awesome fight. Stone shape spells everywhere, PCs climbing walls and bounding up stairs, blasty magic and invisibility and attacks from every direction and worries about being bull rushed off the tower's edge. I got to disarm an opponent with my wizard. I got to use a boat as a shield! Total, concentrated awesome.

Well, maybe not for Bastian's player. :cool:
 
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Gold Roger

First Post
Hmm, I somehow remembered it to have been identified as xorn, not modron.

Yeah, long combats are far better. My current campaign had some very long one, but thereafter we will try a higher level game (9th upward). Let's see if things will hold true then.

One thing I've realized is that it helps to not put to many offensive abilities on the NPC's and instead concentrate on a good defense first. If an NPC has one or two good tricks that's suffice and "3 round glassjaw opponent killed one PC in the first round in a really unfun way" combats are rather uninteresting.

It makes more sense as well. If you concentrate purely on offence, you may get lucky most of the time, but in the end it's those that know to return to fight another day who life through the levels. I remember comments from people that complain a 5ft level wizard that can't kill a 3rd level group is played wrong. Well, imc you can find 15th level wizards with trouble killing anything. Thing is, they have servants, far more better things to do themself and remain extremely hard to kill even at level 16+ (Yeah, I'm a fan of Dr. evil like villains).
 

handforged

First Post
Great job! I absolutely love this battle. I have always enjoyed the interesting locales in which you set your stage, and this is definitely one of the more vivid for me. Do you build models of any of these sets for use with miniatures or do you just draw it out? And my, is Tinka foul.

Enjoying it as always,
~hf
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
handforged said:
Great job! I absolutely love this battle. I have always enjoyed the interesting locales in which you set your stage, and this is definitely one of the more vivid for me.

Glad you like it! :D

handforged said:
Do you build models of any of these sets for use with miniatures or do you just draw it out?

I wish I had the time/resources to do so, but alas I do not. One of my favorite parts of playing Necromunda was making scenery.

handforged said:
And my, is Tinka foul.

She was foul, you mean. ;) - I'll probably be posting her stats to the wiki sometime this weekend when I take a break from writing the next update which is also on deck for the weekend.
 

BlackCat

Explorer
Alrighty, well, that part was one of the best D&D battles I've been in. Ever. Hands down.

You have a little to do with that, el-remmen. Nicely done.

But really, it's because Purpley-spitey-spiney-thingy failed the save versus my Roland's Holy Smite and Searing Ray spells. And for those that are curious, yes, I hammed that spellcasting up. I was excited about this, knowing that my spells were maximized.

So, naturally Roland's spells prepared were all either direct damage or healing. As soon as that thing entered range, I fired. Their ranges are pretty good, too.

I pointed out evil outsiders were hurt worse by Holy Smite a few too many times. You handled it very well, el-remmen. Sorry but I may have been a tad annoying. Again...excited! :cool:

So what happened to all the healing spells that Roland prayed for? Well, let's just say that if I were Bast, I would have been saying "Alright, already! I'll heal your stupid friends! Now stop calling on me!" Hissss /claws at the air
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Tony Vargas said:
37 rounds?

Wow.

BTW, having just completed writing up the combat I realized that I was wrong. It was not 37 rounds. It was an even 40, making it the longest combat in the entire campaign (if you don't count the first combat against the manticore which was 32 rounds interupted by 10 minutes of an obscuring mist spell.

Expect the next update before Tuesday.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #90 (complete)

“You have lost all of your companions,” Roland said, stepping upon Tinka’s shrinking corpse and turning his panther head to get a glimpse of where Mozek Steamwind might be. “Your odds are looking very bad. Why not just get out of our way like you should?”

“Hee hee hee hoo hoo!” Mozek giggled and he loped like an ape out from under the wall of ooze with evil mischief burning in his green eyes. His long arms brushed the ground to give him support and his green and black scaled back was hunched over as he moved towards Bastian’s paralyzed form.

Martin flittered over to Bastian with the weightless boat still in hand and propped it up in front of the paralyzed warrior to block the gnome’s access, but then Mozek disappeared.

“Where’d the f*cker go?” Gunthar cursed, jogging over and swinging around and suddenly Martin’s spell on his wore off and he was visible again. He turned to Roland and demanded some healing.

The boar moved in confused circles atop the pedestal as Ratchis moved to the edge of Kazrack’s impromptu steps. Everyone froze waiting for Mozek to make a move, or to hear him moving about. They hardly breathed.

“He may have teleported away,” Martin the Green offered.

Suddenly, Ratchis cried out in agony as he felt a great shock and looked down to see a stab wound appear near his groin.

“Mozek is invisible!” the half-orc cried out and he leapt down the stairs leaving a trail of blood and weaving to avoid the unseen little fiend, but unfortunately, Mozek was ready and he thrust out thrice more catching the friar in the outer thigh and the buttocks.

“Roland, please heal me so I may return to the fight,” Ratchis staggered over to the Bastite as Kazrack moved in hopes to block pursuit by Mozek. The dwarf swung twice defensively guessing where the half-fiend gnome might be, but to no avail.

Martin let go of the boat and readied his crossbow, while Roland healed Ratchis and Gunthar complained that he had asked first. The Bastite’s spell nearly completely closed the nasty wounds Ratchis had been dealt, and then the half-orc turned and called to Nephthys to deliver healing to Gunthar as well.

Dorn cried out as he felt Mozek’s blade cut him in the lower back. He ran across the top of the tower away from Tinka’s body where he had been standing, and Kazrack cursed knowing that that meant Mozek had gotten past him. The dwarf grabbed his pack off the ground and pulled out a small bellows and a sack of flour he had been carrying for a long time. (1) He stuck the bellows into the sack trying to suck up a good amount of the stuff, creating a white cloud that settled on and around him.

Martin dropped his crossbow and took up the boat again, moving to the vicinity where Mozek last was and swinging it around in a wide angle in hopes of clipping him.

“Hoo Hoo Hee Hee,” Mozek mocked and giggled, his voice was coming from down on one of the lower tiers around the corner from where Ajax had fallen. “It doesn’t matter if you know where I am. You cannot defeat me! You are out of your league! Give up now if you value your soul!”

“Thanks, Pussy,” Gunthar said, when Roland had followed up Ratchis’ healing spell with another. He patted the panther roughly on the head. “Now get out my way and let a real man handle this!” The Neergaardian hustled across the tower and leapt down to the steps leading down from the tower roof, swinging wildly, but making no contact.

Ratchis moved to follow, but thinking better of it, he paused to call to his goddess for healing once again. Kazrack however, did not hesitate and soon he had leapt down as well, abandoning his flour and bellows idea. “Where is he?” he asked Gunthar, swinging defensively in a wide arc in hopes of keeping the demon at bay, the white powder on his face and beard speckled the drying blood there.

They heard some chanting from the next lower tier and they braced themselves, but nothing happened.

“He is down by the wyvern’s corpse!” Martin cried, pointing in that direction in case the others had not heard it. The watch-mage remembered the boar he had pulled from his bag of tricks and commanded it to come down and go after Mozek. However, it had to go the long way all the way around the tiers.

Roland made a spectacular leap, pushing his panther-form muscles and agility to their limits as he flew over the first set of steps and down to the lowest tier. He landed deftly and swung his head around trying to pinpoint Mozek’s location by scent.

“Taste my boots!” Gunthar said, grabbing the edge of the tier and leaping down the nearly forty-five feet to the lower tier. He stumbled and slammed back against the wall, grunting through the pain and struggling to get back to his feet. Less than a moment later, Kazrack was picking himself off the steps as well and looking around frantically out of instinct, as if that would make Mozek visible to his eyes.

“Heh heh heh, you are making this even easier for me,” Kazrack heard Mozek’s voice nearly in his ear as he got up, and then felt three sharp thrusts of a short sword. All went black for the dwarf.

Above, Ratchis finally leapt down to the first tier, but he totally slipped, slamming his lower back against the stone edge of the steps. He could feel the bruises already developing as he scrambled to his feet and made to leap again.

Roland caught Mozek’s scent and pounced at him, but he miscalculated and totally missed. He cringed to avoid Gunthar’s wild swings, one of which bounced off the tier wall and bounced back. Gunthar swore as his own sword clipped his face and slammed into his shoulder. Soon, blood was pouring off his chin and down his chest and arm. (2)

Ratchis came crashing down, catching his foot on the edge of the tier and slamming face first onto the steps. He lay there stunned for a moment. But Martin had maneuvered the levitated boat over where he thought Mozek was and he dismissed his spell.

“Ow!” Mozek cried out as the boat crashed upon him splintering in places. “Very clever.” The rowboat jerked up of its own accord as the invisible fiend got out from under it. Noticing this, Gunthar, who stood nearby, spun around.

“What are you, Jeremy’s evil twin?” Mozek giggled and there was a storm of blood coming off Gunthar in streams where an invisible blade cut him several times. He stumbled back toward Roland, but the Bastite was calling to the cat goddess to close Kazrack’s serious wounds, extolling in the effects of the incense of meditation. (3) The dwarf coughed and sputtered as he awakened, but Gunthar’s blood cascaded down the steps at a steady pace. He would not be getting back up on his own. (4)

Martin glided down next to Gunthar to check his wounds.

Ratchis scrambled to his feet shaking his head, while Kazrack reached into a pouch and pulled out a vial of the water he had collected from among Chochokpi’s roots. He gulped it down and felt a bit of his strength and vigor restored, making his deep exhaustion into mere fatigue. (5) Roland followed up with another curing spell upon Gunthar, and the Neegaardian grabbed his swords and got to his feet as they all heard Mozek’s voice moving back up the stairs and around the tiers. “Oooh! I wonder who I can kill up here?”

Dorn was the only one above, standing guard over the still paralyzed Bastian. The brown haired warrior loaded his crossbow and listened, ready to take a shot if he noticed the gnome. Martin the Green, still in Tanweil-form, took off and made his way over, landing beside Bastian, as the others came the long way around after Mozek. Kazrack left behind another vial of Chochikpi’s water for Gunthar to use.

The watch-mage had a handful of powdered corn extract (6) ready for use to reveal Mozek’s location if he heard him nearby.

“Rivkanal, I call on you to bind my wounds so that when we find this fiend I might better smite him,” Kazrack prayed in dwarven as he trailed behind Ratchis, who trailed behind Roland. Lastly came Gunthar who cast the empty vial off the tower.

Martin passed the Wurfel Craft cube to Dorn, indicating which side should be depressed if Mozek were to appear nearby.

“Use it to keep Bastian safe,” the watch-mage instructed.

Roland made it back up onto the tower roof, followed by the boar, which snorted loudly in its attempt to zero in on the foul-smelling gnome. Martin the Green noticed it turned and charged at some empty space near the top of the steps of the tower where it and Roland had just run past.

The Bastite called out in his human voice though he was in cat-form. “Oh great queen Bast! Lend me your aid in our hour of need to smite this fiend that is surely your enemy as he is ours!”

There was a crackle of divine energy, but no discernible affect to indicate that Mozek had been caught in the spell. However, as Gunthar came around the corner to the top of the tower he jerked awkwardly as more wounds appeared on him from out of nowhere.

“Amazing that your bitch-goddess takes time from licking herself to help you,” Mozek was heard to say. “But then again for all the good her help did, she might as well keep at it.”

Gunthar stumbled towards Roland, begging for healing again. Ratchis appeared on the roof. He had waited for Kazrack to catch up, suddenly afraid that the gnome was using a ruse to separate them.

Suddenly Mozek appeared as his spell’s duration had run out. His teeth were long jagged and black, crusted with yellow. His green eyes burned, and he held a silvery short sword with an unusually thin blade. Strangest of all, he was covered by a dim aura of cold darkness that shimmered and darkened in the sunlight, and then he spoke a word and suddenly there were six of him, leaping and shifting around. Sometimes three or four would all be doing the same thing in sync, while two others did somersaults, sometimes all six had different expressions. One of the mirror images stuck its black forked tongue out at Ratchis.

Dorn activated the cube and its glowing blue transparent field enclosed him and Bastian.

Ratchis swung his masterwork greatsword in a great arc and it flew through one of the images of Mozek and into another. They both popped out of existence, but the remaining five all leapt forward speaking an arcane word and touching the half-orc. He felt magic wash over him, but he was able to resist whatever it was. He tried swinging some more, but the many images leapt away laughing and waving their swords. Kazrack, however, thrust his halberd among the images and felt the blade strike something solid. Five Mozeks cried out as green blood burst from them. The dim aura shimmering against the demon’s skin crawled along the haft of the pole-arm and Kazrack felt a deep cold in his soul as it touched him. However, he was able to shake it off.

Mozek and his doppelgangers scattered as Martin had the boar charge into their midst. Gunthar hurried after one or two of them taking wild swings, but he could not reach any, and Roland called to Bast for her Divine Favor. The mirror images gathered together and five Mozeks, all facing to the north, pulled out a scroll and scrunched up their faces as if reading with difficulty. Suddenly, all of Mozek’s wounds were gone. Five fiendish face turned to the Keepers of the Gate and smiled once more.

“Your tricks will not work!” Kazrack swore.

“They seem to be working pretty well so far to me,” Mozek Steamwind winked with five eyes in sync.

Roaring with anger, Ratchis, Kazrack and Gunthar came swinging into their midst, but once again they all scattered and danced back together behind them giggling. Martin touched Ratchis and the half-orc benefited from improved invisibility. Roland pounced at where he thought the real Mozek stood, but landed on nothing at all, while the boar turned in circles snorting and confused.

At Martin’s command, Dorn moved the cubic field over to block the door on the pedestal, as the wall of ooze had melted away into nothing moments before, leaving Kazrack’s impromptu stone structures looking abandoned. He brought Bastian with him, of course.

There was a burst of greasy cloying darkness from one of Mozek’s images (ostensibly the real one) and Ratchis and Kazrack shuttered in pain as the unholy blight struck them. Gunthar was able to leap away and avoid its effects.

Clutching his chest, Kazrack retreated and called to Rivkanal to close his wounds the best he could, for he only had his weakest curing spells left. Roland slinked over and supplemented it with one of his empowered healing spells.

“Call to your weak gods all you want, help you they will not!” Mozek taunted, but his look of satisfaction became one of alarm as Ratchis smashed through two more of the remaining images, leaving three Mozeks dancing about. His unholy aura disappeared as well. “Hmmm, now where could the piggy be?”

Courageously, Martin the Green glided over to the melee, taking Kazrack’s place temporarily. He swung his staff at the remaining images, but missed. Gunthar swung wildly again, but tripped over the unseen Ratchis and nearly fell, stumbling to his right to keep his feet.

Mozek’s delight at the clumsiness was short lived as Ratchis cleaved through the last two mirror images, causing the half-fiend gnome to duck to avoid the blade. He began to cast another spell, but now that Ratchis was invisible and so close he lost his concentration in an effort to keep from getting hit. He grimaced as he felt the bite of Kazrack’s halberd against his fine chain shirt. The dwarf was back in the melee, and all the Keepers of the Gate were pressing the attack. Roland pounced into their midst, but missed in the confusion of so many bodies and swinging weapons.

With a word, the unholy aura returned, and as Kazrack found his target again the darkness crept up the haft of his weapon and he felt his strength ebb. (7) Luckily, Roland had withdrawn from the melee and immediately cast lesser restoration to return at least some of that strength to the dwarf’s limbs, and also alleviate the last of the fatigue he felt from having been at death’s door only moments before.

Martin the Green also withdrew, taking to the air to consider the fight and figure out the best way to defeat Mozek. Gunthar over-swung his long sword and taking a wide step, tripped over the invisible Ratchis. Losing his balance, he slipped off his feet and slammed his head against the tower roof. He tried to get right back up, but stunned, he fell back to his hands and knees. (8)

Kazrack grunted as he felt the bite of Mozek’s thin blade again and again. The thing moved with such speed it was a silver and gold blur that hovered about the green gnome like a second aura. Again and again, the little blade knocked back Ratchis’ heavy sword and locked up the halberd blade, sending it off line. All the while, Mozek giggled.

Ratchis withdrew unseen to cast another healing spell on Kazrack. “Nephthys, though I call to you in a low voice as to not alert my enemy, I implore you to aid my dwarven friend so we may defeat this evil.” Taking up his sword again, he leapt into melee taking Mozek by surprise. The demon gnome barely got his own sword up in time to slow Ratchis’ blow, and even then it cut deep into his shoulder. Ratchis grunted in dissatisfaction, seeing that his blows did not see to affect the fiend nearly as much as Kazrack’s did.

Roland leapt back into the fray, but Mozek danced within the reach of Kazrack’s pole-arm and the dwarf tried to muffle his cries as he felt the bite of the fast blade thrice more. The dwarf was barely able to withdraw and get into an effective defensive posture, but it was too late. He felt a cold rush and looked down confused at his own blood pooling under him, and then, once again, he was on the ground dying.

“Uh oh!” Mozek mocked. “You are losing folks awful quick. There’s still time to give up and get away. Just tell me how to get in.”

Before any of the Keepers of the Gate could respond, they heard a great clash and clamor at the gates, and what could only be the death throes of one of the great mammoths the orcs brought with them. Martin the Green stole a glance down into the distant courtyard and saw the gates had burst open, but some great shadow had come out of the ground and was knocking orcs from the walls and smashing them into the earth.

Shaking his head and cursing, Gunthar was back into the melee, but Mozek was too quick. He sang a nonsense song, mimicking the tone of every ring of blade on blade. “Hey piddle-diddle! The orc and a fiddle! And a ding-dang-doong-dang-frong! Thruh-ring!”

Martin swooped down as best he could with his clumsy flying, trying to distract Mozek to allow Ratchis to get a clean blow in. (9) But it did not seem to be helping. “Urk!” Ratchis coughed as he felt Mozek’s blade slice his outer thigh a moment after the greater invisibility spell wore off. Roland came leaping back into the melee once again, but Mozek rolled out of the way. However, this gave Ratchis a chance to drop his own sword and take up Kazrack’s halberd. Mozek turned around just in time to have the pole-axe chop into his chest. The blade bounced off the silvery chain shirt, but it had landed heavily and the little gnome was knocked back a bit, startled. He grimaced through the pain, hopped back and grabbed a clay vial from his satchel, barely avoiding Gunthar and Ratchis trying to take advantage of the opportunity. He gurgled down whatever was inside and soon many of his wounds were closed again.

Martin took the opportunity to pull Kazrack away a little bit and begin to massage the dwarf’s throat as he poured a potion of cure moderate wounds into his mouth. He was happy to see that the dwarf had stabilized on his own, and in half a moment, despite sputtering and coughing and once again feeling the exhaustion of pushing his body despite the great strain on it, Kazrack was unslinging his shield from his back. He called to Natan-ahb for his divine favor and then hefting his flail marched back into the battle.

“Looks like the stubbornness of the dwarves is no exaggeration,” Mozek quipped despite feeling the weight of the halberd on his shoulder again. Ratchis shuddered as the unholy aura shot up the weapon and sapped him of a tiny bit of strength. (10) The gnome followed this up with a deep stab into Ratchis’ foot, (11) and when the half-orc looked down he had to flinch back as the sword flicked up at him, catching his forearm, spraying blood.

Roland continued his support position, healing Gunthar some more, even though the Neergaardian seemed unable to score any telling blow.

“Oooh! It looks like its time to move over here!” Mozek said, side-stepping to meet Kazrack as he returned. Two thrusts of the quick blade and once again Kazrack lay dying on the floor.

”You’re bleeding! You’re bleeding! You’re bleeding! More healing you’ll be needing!” Mozek mocked, skipping back and forth to avoid Ratchis’ desperate attacks. “Now let’s see you get back up this time!”

“Come on, Ratchis! Take him out!” Martin the Green said with frustration overcoming his fear.

“Eenie-meanie-my-nee-moe! Which of you has got to go?” Mozek gestured with his blade at each of the four of them. He then shrugged his shoulders and thrust at Martin, who came back into the fight to watch over Kazrack. The watch-mage collapsed, his green reptilian form oozing out red human blood.

The boar rushed back into the fight, but once again Mozek deftly avoided its charge. However, this left him open to another blow from Ratchis. Roland prayed to Bast and once again Kazrack sputtered awake. The Bastite turned around to see Ratchis wince as the felt Mozek’s blade once again. The half-orc swayed like he might fall, but roared in defiance. Roland echoed the roar with his own panther’s voice and faked a charge at Mozek, causing the gnome to step to his right slightly and into Ratchis’ downward chopping blow. (12) The fiendbane pole-axe caught the gnome on the neck and shoulder once more and drove him down to his knees. Blood exploded from the fiend, and he looked up pathetically as he fell backward. “This wasn’t supposed to turn out this way…”

Ratchis lifted the halberd and brought it down again cleaving open Mozek Steamwind’s chest. The demon-gnome’s corpse sizzled and hissed, giving off the stench of sulfur and burning copper. It began to fold in on itself and shrivel.

“That’s for Chance…” Ratchis murmured, sinking exhaustedly to the ground. (13)

Gunthar grabbed Mozek’s short sword as Ratchis grabbed what he thought might be valuable from the former gnome. There were two rings. One was set with a large smooth sapphire and seven small diamonds (six above, one below), its band of white gold. The other was a silver ring is set with a golden emblem of a lion’s head. There was also a bone scroll tube and Ratchis tore the chain shirt off the smoldering corpse when Kazrack walked over and gasped, “Mithril…” And then followed it up with “Bah! It is elven in style.”

Roland used a cure light wounds spell to stabilize Martin, but the watch-mage did not wake up. The Bastite was about to cast a second one when suddenly there was the repeating sound like air being forced through a bladder. From down on the lower wall, or perhaps the rear buildings of the inner fortress, rose three of the strangest creatures any of them had ever seen.

They were drooping starfish with five swollen leaf-like limbs of pinkish-white flesh upon each of which was a large black eye and round mouths with thin black lips. They had five black spindly legs that ended in hooves, which reached down from beneath the strange limbs and they rose up awkwardly forcing some kind of gas out beneath them to gain loft. The creatures were about five and a half feet tall.

“What in Hells are those ugly things?” Gunthar swore.

“Withdraw. Withdraw. You are not welcome here. You must flee,” the things said with three of their facing mouths. They had flat voices that betrayed no inflection or emotion with the slightest hint of the mechanical in it. The rate of air they expelled slowed and they began to sink to the tower roof.

“We do not wish any harm upon you,” Kazrack called to them. “Please do us no harm in return.” He repeated his greeting in dwarven.

“Hey! How do I turn this thing off?” Dorn asked, still inside the cube with the still paralyzed Bastian.

“Martin, you can get up,” Roland breathed into the watch-mage’s ear. “We have a problem. Ptah’s servants seem to be here.”

“We mean no harm!” Martin coughed in gnomish, turning to take in the strange creatures. Two of the three creatures landed beside the still glowing cubic field, while the third landed in the corner overlooking the first tier of steps. The bulbous sacks at the center of their five limbs and between their five legs popped out at the top of their bodies at the center. They could see bone-like protrusion with a puckered sphincter on the end. It lowered and turned with the mechanical dexterity of an arbalest on turret. Martin turned to his companions. “I really don’t know much about these things except their names and some of their basic qualities. I hope they don’t attack us.”

The two creatures by the cube of force began to spin, slamming their limbs against the left side of the cube, and Dorn willed it to move away. The bizarre guardians moved to block the now uncovered door.

The watch-mage told Dorn to press the depiction of the still pond upon the Wurfel Kraft when he was ready to turn it off.

“We need to get into Hurgun’s Maze,” Kazrack said to the creatures in dwarven again. “Can you show us the way?”

“No invitation. No entrance,” the three creatures said in unison in their flat voices. The Keepers of the Gate were all taken aback as the eastern wall of the statue’s pedestal became a fifteen foot long set of stone steps that led to the top. The great statue atop the stone pedestal swung out over the tower and two more of the things Martin called ‘pentadrones’ came flying out from beneath. They emitted the nasty sound of rapidly flapping flesh as they expelled gas beneath them to grant them lift. The statue swung back into place, but the stairs remained. “No invitation. No entrance. Leave now.”

“Invitation?” Roland said. “I assure you I am not one to crash parties. Who is in a position to issue invitations? Mine was probably lost in the mail.”

The cube scooted along slowly as two of the pentadrones knocked against it futilely. Gunthar stepped toward the door with his sword drawn. “Don’t we have to go in there?”

“Gunthar, we don’t want to fight them,” Martin said. “Stay back.” He called the boar back into his bag of tricks. He laid the pouch on the ground and the bristly swine walked up to it and then rolled up back into a tiny ball of fur and rolled back in, disappearing.

“Get out. Get out. You must get out,” they said, each taking a turn with a word but all saying the last one together. They turned their bodies after each third syllable, flaring their strange limbs out a bit when they did. They did not blink.

Ratchis grabbed the quiver of arrows that Tinka had dropped when she died as three of the five pentadrones now moved in to corral them and drive the party towards the steps, separating them from the cubic field.

“Perhaps we should make our way down the stairs and into the tower,” Kazrack suggested. “We may be able to bide some time and devise a plan while not being out in the open and seen. If we are attacked, we can use the cube to make our way down.”

The Keepers of the Gate marched down the steps. Ratchis took the lead, still hobbling from the wound dealt his foot. Kazrack and Gunthar took the rear keeping an eye on the three pursuing modrons, with Martin the Green right near them to advise if necessary.

The other two pentadrones drove Dorn towards the edge of the tower overlooking the stairs.

Ratchis stopped when he came to the shriveled remains of Ajax’s body. He took up the battle-axe with its blade of red-tainted steel and its black metal haft…

”You can just kill them all with me. It would be easy… You can carve a kingdom of blood…”

Ratchis dropped the axe and shook his head. He stepped past it and called to the others to not touch it.

Dorn looked down and saw his companions below him. Pressing the side of the stone cube he held that depicted the pond, the field disappeared with a hum and a pop.

“I need to drop Bastian down to you,” he called to Ratchis. The half-orc offered to climb up to help.

“Naw, these things might think you are trying to get in with an invitation and attack or something,” Dorn said. “Just catch him, and then I’ll climb down.”

”Hey! What’s this battle-axe?” Gunthar said as he came to it. He scooped it up. “Ain’t ya gonna take this Snuffles? It seems your style…” Gunthar’s face paled and he brought a second hand to the haft of the axe.

“Gods damn it, Gunthar! Drop that axe it’s evil!” Kazrack swore, grabbing at it. Gunthar pulled it away.

“It is whispering to me,” Gunthar said with a faraway look in his eyes.

“Drop it now!” Kazrack commanded as the pentadrones came awkwardly down the stairs after them.

Gunthar shook his head vigorously, but did not drop the axe. “It can’t tell me what to do,” he said.

“Just drop it!” Kazrack lashed out with his halberd and suddenly the axe was askew upon the steps again. Gunthar rubbed his hands and cursed. He reached down for it again, but Kazrack placed his halberd blade over it.

”If Kazrack says it is evil, it is evil,” Martin said.

“I was just going to throw it over the side,” Gunthar said.

Kazrack snorted his dubiousness and then shoved the axe into the chasm far below through one of the arrow slits in the low wall with his pole-arm.

By this time, Ratchis had caught Bastian still stiff form in his thick arms, and Dorn climbed down. The two pentadrones up top came to the edge and angled their strange black eyes to look down at them.

Round and round they marched with the pentadrones at their heels, still repeating, “No invitation. No entrance. You must flee. You must flee.” They had to squeeze past the steaming wyvern carcass, while the modrons took to the air again with loud blasts of gas.

Ratchis stopped at the unmoving pyramidal body of the modron Mozek had brought with him. (14) He was sure it was the same creature the party had met back in Garvan so many months before. The half-orc tried someway to check for a pulse, but there was none (though he was not sure if it ever had one). Its three eyes were glazed over. He noticed a black manacle and chain locked tightly around one of its three legs and he shook his head angrily. He went over and waited by the door.

Roland stopped at the dead modron and gave a silent prayer to Bast, sorry that his powerful spells had inadvertently led to this innocent being’s death. He then turned to the pentadrones and said, “This one had our invitation but the evil gnomes killed him.”

“Tridrone must be re-assimilated,” the lead pentadrone said, and the other two echoed it. The two left atop the tower, flopped an eye and mouth-bearing limb over the side and they said it as well. “Tridrone must be re-assimilated.”

“We opened the Key Room, does that win us an invitation,” Roland tried, suddenly changing his tact. The pentadrones pressed in and one kicked the tridrone body back away from the party.

Impatient, Gunthar pushed open the heavy steel door that led into the tower at this level.

“There may be a ward on that door!” Martin warned. “Or just inside of it.” He reached into his bag of tricks and threw a ball of fur towards the doorway and it grew into a black bear that roared and charged into the room beyond. Ratchis followed the bear into a great chamber that spanned nearly the enter width and breadth of the tower. It was an armory with countless spears, arrows, bolts, crossbows, long swords, maces and the like on racks along the walls and creating aisles in the room. There were also wooden shields on one partial wall of the room that cordoned off an area behind another metal door. This area seemed to be directly beneath the stone pedestal and statue above.

A narrow stone stairway led down from the door to the tower roof down into the armory, and the bear bounded down them followed by the Keepers of the Gate.

“You must flee! You must flee!” the pentadrones continued to say, seeking to enter the tower as well, but Kazrack pulled the door shut and dropped the bar on the inside.

“I need something to wedge this closed so they do not come in!” Kazrack said, holding the door closed.

“Nooo!” Roland moaned and buried his snout beneath a paw.

“What is it?” asked Martin.

“I just wish we could get back to those monks we saw crushed on the cliffside,” (15) Roland explained with a sigh. “I just realized, I bet they had found an invitation, but not the way in. They may have one.”

End of Session #90
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
-------------------------------------------
Notes:

(1) These had been bought in the general store of Ogre’s Bluff soon after the part first met Richard the Red.

(2) DM’s Note: Gunthar fumbled and rolled the result “Reflex save (DC 15) or hit self, critical hit” – the critical hit did “double die damage” (which means the damage die is rolled twice and any bonuses are added once to that total. He took 22 points of damage.

(3) DM’s Note: Much as with damage spells, cure spells too were automatically doing their maximum.

(4) DM’s Note: Gunthar took 55 points of damage total from those attacks, and thus was very close to death.

(5) See session #84

(6) DM’s Note: Powdered corn extract is the material component for Rope Trick, but since Martin did not know that spell, I am not sure why he had the component.

(7) DM’s Note: Kazrack lost 6 points of strength.

(8) DM’s Note: Gunthar fumbled getting the following result: Trip. Make Reflex check vs. DC 20 or fall and be stunned for 1d3 rounds.

(9) DM’s Note: Martin’s player was using the aid other action, which is actually something players used quite a lot of in this campaign.

(10) DM’s Note: Ratchis lost 1 point of strength.

(11) DM’s Note: Ratchis suffered a critical hit: Foot Wound, Speed Reduced to ½. Save vs. Knockdown.

(12) DM’s Note: Once again the aid other action.
(13) Mozek killed Chance and ate his brain way back in Session #17

(14) See Session #89

(15) Again, see Session #89
 

Manzanita

First Post
With Mozek dead, we're really getting somewhere. He was tough. Good thing the party has three clerics. They sure did need a lot of healing.
 

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