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


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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
handforged said:
I don't have much time, but that was amazing. I was on the edge of my seat.

~hf

Glad you liked it - it was pretty dicey. It was one of those things where I was rooting for the players, but totally willing to have all the PCs die atop that tower.
 

Piratecat

Sesquipedalian
el-remmen said:
Glad you liked it - it was pretty dicey. It was one of those things where I was rooting for the players, but totally willing to have all the PCs die atop that tower.
I think that's the perfect DM attitude. It means that the players know you aren't going to screw them out of spite, but that it's all up to them. That makes for some amazing sessions.
 

Richard Rawen

First Post
It also makes for very fun reading! I'll just add my voice to the chorus here, that battle ranging up and down and around was really great mental exercise, I had a blast imagining it!
 

Ratchis

First Post
Best.Fight.Evar.

Or least 3rd best. ;) This was a crazy, amazing, and fun (and frustrating, that Gnome's AC was in the 30s for most of the fight!).

Let me put it this way: There were YEARS of expectations built up for this battle and it surpassed it easily.

And yes, maybe only 3rd best depending on my mood because there are two more "climatic" battles that were also great great great!
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Ratchis said:
And yes, maybe only 3rd best depending on my mood because there are two more "climatic" battles that were also great great great!

Emphasis mine.

I don't remember you guys battling the weather. ;)

But seriously, I am so glad it worked out and was a helluva lot of fun, because of those expectations (both mine and the players).
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Session #91 (part 1 of 2) (1)

“This door will not hold for long,” Kazrack said, pressing his back against it and feeling it shaking from the repeated roll of blows from the strange modrons outside.

“Hello?” Roland called through the door. “You are being addressed by Roland Eremicia of Bast and the Keepers of the Gate, Ratchis, Kazrack, Martin the Green of the Academy of Wizardry, Dorn and Gunthar… oh, and uh… Bastian, too…” He turned and looked around. “Is that everybody?” he whispered. He turned his panther-head back to the door. “Perhaps you can tell your master those names and that we have come to…” He turned to the others once again, “What have we come for again?”

Ratchis sighed.

“I do not think those creatures will listen to reason,” Martin said. “Or rather, their reason is so limited by the role they are created for they cannot conceive of things beyond that boundary.”

Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom! Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom! The door shook again and again. They grabbed some spears from the racks on the walls and Ratchis and Kazrack wedged them to hold the door the best they could. They also smashed up some of the weapon racks and Kazrack hammered the boards over the door with iron spikes.

Roland transformed back into his normal human guise, stretching out the aches of wounds closed in the process. He wandered over to a deep narrow window that looked down on the lower fortress and courtyard below. There were some kind of siege towers leaning against the outer wall by the gate, and he could see the pulped corpse of a mammoth near the center of the courtyard. There were small groups of orcs fanning out on the wall and they seemed to have had taken the gatehouse. Suddenly, he saw three of the pentadrones slowing making their way down to the orcs as swarms of arrows flew up at them in great arcs from the wall and beyond. He called out what he saw to the others.

Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom! Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom!

“That means there are only two out there,” Kazrack said. “Perhaps we should go take care of them now before the others return and figure out how to get past the door up there.”

“Are we sure that the door is the way we want to go?” asked Roland.

“Yes, I was thinking that,” Martin said. “The beam of light struck the statue and those creatures came from beneath the statue. I think that is the way we have to go.”

“I want to scout around this tower some more before we decide which way to go,” Ratchis said. He had just finished casting two cure light wounds in quick succession on Kazrack, and now came down the stairs to join the others. Kazrack remained by the door to watch it.

Roland looked back out the window and noted several hundred more orcs converging on the fortress.

“Oh boy! There are a lot of them big piggies down there,” the Bastite said.

“I want a chance to try to talk to those modron- things,” Bastian said. Everyone was startled. The bearded warrior had been paralyzed so long (2) that they had propped him up in a corner at the bottom of the stairs.

“Bastian! Are you alright?” Roland asked.

“I am now,” He stretched and yawned as if he had been sleeping. He called mentally to his familiar, and the hawk alighted in the window Roland had been looking out of moments before.

“Bastian, do you know about these things?” Roland asked.

“No, afraid not,” Bastian replied. “But…”

“Did you see everything?” Ratchis interrupted with his question.

“Huh?”

“While you were paralyzed, could you see what happened?” Ratchis asked.

“Some of it,” Bastian frowned. “When I was pointed in the right direction.”

Ratchis nodded and Gunthar chuckled.

“As I was saying,” Bastian cleared his throat, but his voice was no louder afterwards. “I want to tell them of the patron creature I can summon. They might know his name and we could work something out.”

“Oh, plan to name-drop, huh?” Roland winked.

“Uh…”

“If you think it will work, I give you free reign to try to tell them whatever you please,” Ratchis said to Bastian.

“Oh, how righteous of you to give him freedom, Nephthys-follower,” Gunthar smirked.

Ratchis growled in response.

Martin the Green decided to change some of his prepared spells, (3) while Ratchis scouted around downstairs, and everyone did their best to catch their wind and prepare for whatever might happen next. (4)

Ratchis checked the stone door for magic and found none, so he opened it slowly. Beyond was a narrow circular stairway around a broad cylindrical center. It coiled in both directions, up to the right and down to the left, out of sight. The half-orc crept up a bit first and found exactly what he thought. This led to the door at the base of the pedestal at the top of the tower. Martin and Roland had been right, the party needed to go down the passage beneath the statue above. The cylindrical section these stairs coiled around must have been a second narrow spiral staircase that went down into some other part of the tower, or perhaps even into the lower fortress itself.

He crept down past the door in the other direction. These narrow stairs led down to another room similar to the one he had left his companions in, so he went down another level, where the stairs ended in a broad L-shaped hall. There were other stone doors leading off this hall.

Each door connected to long barrack rooms, but the bunks were stripped bare, and there wasn’t so much as dust upon the open and empty footlockers at the foot of each one. Some other doors led to smaller rooms that held desks and wardrobes, all empty.

Ratchis realized that all of these rooms, corridors and staircase seemed to all be made of the same stone. There were no bricks and no seams and no chisel marks from carving. It was as if the place had been molded into its shape.

There was another open stair at the end of the perpendicular hall, and Ratchis had barely crept halfway down it when realized he was reached the bottom floor. The ground floor had a marble fountain and small benches and plots with small trees and flowering plants. There where double doors out to the upper courtyard, and beside it the wall was made of what could only be described as transparent stone. (5)

Ratchis could hear the cries and curses of the orcs out at the gate across the lower courtyard.

There was a sudden flash from out in the upper courtyard and Ratchis was forced to cover his eyes. It was followed by a horrible scream of agony that was cut frighteningly short. The flash made Ratchis note a stone statue standing atop a niche that looked it was reach by two shallow steps. It was over nine feet tall and was carved to look like a broad bald man in a skull cap, bare-chested and with a sash about his waist.

Ratchis stopped short at the bottom of the steps. He thought he saw the statue move and did not think about it twice. He rushed back up the stairs as quickly as he could as his foot wound still ached. Hustling around the narrow stairs, he burst into the room.

“I think I woke a stone statue!” he warned his companions. “I hear breaking stone down there, I think it is slowly climbing up here.”

“Oh no,” Martin the Green said.

“Will it fit in that narrow stairway?” Bastian asked.

“If it is a stone golem it will break through eventually if it really wants to get up here,” Martin said. “This is a creature like the dog we encountered in the dwarven temple beneath the Pit of Bones.” (6)

“A dwarven creature?” Kazrack asked coming down the stairs.

“No,” Martin replied. “We need to get out of here.”

Ratchis nodded.

“Okay,” Kazrack agreed. “But we need to move as a unit and push our way past those creatures and to the statue.”

“It is good to stay together so I can activate the cube around us if needed,” Martin said. They came up with a plan using the cube and some longspears they collected from this armory. Martin the Green began to show Ratchis how to use the cube when the stone door into the tower at the stop of the stair burst open, sending shards of spears, boards and iron spikes in all directions.

Ratchis moved to the bottom of the stairs and Gunthar joined him on his left.

“No invitation. No entrance. You must leave. Entrance is barred,” a pentadrone said as it came down the step blasting gas and flaring its leaf-shaped limbs to steady itself.

Gunthar thrust his sword at it, but it turned the blow away pinning it for a second between two of its limbs. Kazrack stepped over as another pentadrone floated off the steps to land beside him. The dwarf ducked to avoid one of its limbs slapping out at him. Roland and Bastian moved in close, as did Dorn and Martin and Ratchis activated the cube so that it held out living matter.

The Keepers of the Gate began the slow awkward climb within the cube as it scooted along, feeling the strange sensation of their boot soles going through the cube and stopping when it touched their feet within.

“Please let us pass,” Bastian said to the modrons, hefting a long spear he had taken from one of the racks. “There is one who expects our arrival.”

“No invitation. No entrance,” the pentadrones said. There was now one in from of the cube and one behind it, twirling with great speed to slam all five of their limbs into the cube’s field over and over again.

“His name is Torzig,” (7) Bastian said. “Do you have a way of talking to him before you make your judgment?”

The pentadrones both paused.

Ratchis readied to attack with his spear as the cube’s progress was very slow because of the blocking modron, but Bastian laid a hand on the half-orc’s arm.

“It looks like they might respond,” Bastian said.

“How can you even tell?” Roland asked, twisting his lips in disapproval.

“We are running out of time,” Ratchis said. “We need to get inside the Maze.”

“Servant of Torzig, you will not fool our master this time,” the two pentadrones said in their cold flat voices, taking turns at words and turning their bodies to speak with one, two or three mouths at once.

The others looked at Bastian who shrugged his shoulders.
“What can I do to redeem myself?” Bastian was asking when the other door into the armor began to crack from the blows of something on the other side.

“The golem!” Martin cried.

The Keepers of the Gate arranged themselves in the cube. Kazrack was in front with Gunthar, while Ratchis stepped in behind the dwarf ready to attack over his head with a long spear if necessary.

“This is your last chance,” the pentadrones said, as the party got the cube to the top of the stairs and at the lip of the door back outside. Martin looked back and saw a huge stony hand trying to tear open the lower doorway into the armory to widen it.

Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom! Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom! The pentadrones slammed against the cube. Gunthar thrust with the spear he had picked up, but these creatures were very resilient. The sharpened points of the weapon slid off of them to little or no effect, and even Ratchis’ great troll-belt augmented strength did little to make the wounds more deadly.

“These things are tougher than the scarred clit of a Zootsburg whore!” Gunthar swore. Kazrack thrust his halberd and scored a deep hit, catching the edge of the modron’s mouth and yanking it hard to the right. The creature’s blood was pus-like yellow grease.

The Keepers of the Gate stumbled over themselves repositioning to turn the cube round and get up the stairs. The pentadrone in front of them withdrew. They did this again and again, and soon they were just one level below the top of the tower.

“Invaders,” it said. “This is your last chance to retreat.”

With a ‘pop’ the boney gas-expelling tube appeared at the top of its body. The party moved forward and it expelled a noxious cloud of the gas that passed through the cube with no trouble. (8) Everyone fell into a fit of coughing and when the gas dissipated Gunthar and Dorn were paralyzed.

Bastian grabbed Dorn by the collar and began to drag him along. Martin did his best to bring Gunthar along as the cube slid forward again. Again, Ratchis and Kazrack attacked, and this time the dwarf’s halberd pierced the gas-filled sack atop the thing’s head. There was a loud ‘pop’ and a hiss and the thing drooped down and dribbled its yellow blood from all its orifices.

Ratchis pressed the pond-etched side of the cube, deactivating it.

“Make a run for it!” the half-orc said, and everyone began hustling up the stairs, Roland pausing just long enough to assume panther-form again. However, soon his muscled feline legs pulled him past everyone else. Na’kron took off from Bastian’s shoulder.

Martin the Green was slowed by the weight of Gunthar’s inert form, and Kazrack, not a fast runner anyway, took Dorn off Bastian’s hands. Free of his burden, Bastian was able to nearly catch up with Roland. Ratchis seeing that no one was helping Martin with Gunthar, hobbled back, (9) cursing under his breath and threw the Neergaardian over his shoulder.

Roland with his great speed was the first to reach not only the top of the tower, but he hustled up the stairs that had appeared when the second wave of pentadrones had arrived (10) and was beside the statue.

The pentadrone following on the stairs caught up to Ratchis and slammed the half-orc as he spun around to try to defend himself. He fought to keep his breath as he felt his ribs contract, and lowered Gunthar’s paralyzed form to the ground and drew his sword.

“Secondary defenses!” the pentadrone said, its cold voice actually increasing in pitch and volume, as Ratchis cut into one of its black legs, tipping it over despite its five-legged stability. (11) “Secondary and tertiary defenses!”

“Hurry! Find the way down! There may be more coming!” Ratchis called to his companions.

As if in response, another pentadrone landed on the tower trying to cut off Kazrack as he made it to the corner of the stairs. Bastian and Martin had hurried past the dwarf and were already at the top of the tower. “Invaders. Invaders,” it said.

Kazrack dropped Dorn and cut the creature deeply, making one of its limbs a ragged sopping thing that whipped its pus-like blood in all directions.

“I can’t see how it would open,” Roland said to Bastian, leaping off of the statue pedestal. The bearded warrior hurried up and looked himself, and immediately noticed a round metal seam beneath the statue. He called down what he saw to Martin the Green, but was forced to draw his hammer and ready his shield as still yet another pentadrone landed on the steps behind him. Bastian spun around, catching a whipping limb against his shield.

“Invaders. Invaders,” it said.

“We are not trying to invade,” Bastian said to it. “We are just trying to make our scheduled appointment. We do not want further hostilities.”

Tha-tha-tha-tha-thoom! Bastian stumbled back as he felt the five heavy blows against his head, chest and legs. He tried in vain to move his shield into position to blocks the blows, but the pentadrone limbs flew up and down as it spun. He stumbled, nearly falling, and for a moment the world seemed to spin as well. He was gravely wounded, and tried a weak counterattack that the modron easily avoided. Martin the Green waited at the base of the stairs, unsure of what to do. He noticed a whirlwind forming in the air above the statue. Finally, sighing, he began to load his crossbow.

Kazrack cut the limb from the pentadrone he fought, and it collapsed, gurgling. The dwarf hurried back to support Ratchis, whose blows despite his great strength were not doing nearly as much damage as the magical halberd. Gunthar and Dorn began to stir.

“Ugh, that smelled worse than a she-troll’s gash!” Gunthar swore. He drew his swords and made for the top of the tower. Dorn stood where he was, waiting for Kazrack and Ratchis, and then moved cautiously towards the melee when he saw Ratchis stumble back from two blows on the chin and collapse, unconscious.
 

el-remmen

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

(1) DM’s Note: This session was played on April 3rd, 2005.

(2) DM’s Note: Poor Bastian was paralyzed early in the combat in session #89, for all of Session #90 and did not recover until the beginning of this session.

(3) DM’s Note: In Aquerra, wizards may change spells they have already prepared but have not cast yet, but this takes fifteen minutes per spell level in order to do. They still have the normal total of spell cast per day.

(4) Remember, Martin and Kazrack were still exhausted from having dropped to negative hit points, and Gunthar was fatigued.

(5) DM’s Note: This was a permanent Glassee spell.

(6) See Session #61

(7) Torzig is the dao (an earth jinn) that Bastian summons to learn spells and gain information from.

(8) DM’s Note: Ratchis took a critical hit to the foot in the previous session as was still moving at half speed.

(9) The cube was set to only keep out/in living matter.

(10) See Last Session (#90)

(11) DM’s Note: Creatures gains a +2 stability bonus to their save vs. knockdown per extra leg beyond two.
 

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