Piratecat's Updated Story Hour! (update 4/03 and 4/06)

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Multimedia extravaganza!

Wanna hear what Kellharin sounds like? Here's a clip from their discussion! You'll have to imagine the eyeball, though.

Warning: 750 K mp3 contains 60 seconds of Ghoultalk (tm)... so you're probably not going to want to click it at work unless your co-workers are easily amused. Let me know if you find this sort of thing especially annoying or especially fun; it's a gimmick, but it's kind of a cool gimmick.
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Or, at least, illithids love everyone. Don't they?

They really do. It's just that their love isn't like human being love, all gushy soft and warm. Their love is cold, angular, sharp, and tastes like utter subjugation.

The illithids understand that they are the Good, and your weaknesses are Evil. They can help you with those, if you let them.

Oh boy oh boy, what a fantastic ghoul! I love their philosophy (rrrrrip)! --that was the sound of me stealing wholesale this idea

Of course, child murderers have philosophies and make 'choices', too, and we don't really agonize too much about mauling them, but I appreciate the sensitivity with which you present the bad guys.


First Post
Piratecat said:
It briefly flips its head upwards, trying to reseat the dangling eye back in the socket, and then looks around at the crowd as it continues to smile as if at a private joke.

Kind of like a bizzare game of cup and ball. Eeew.

He did do this voice for the entire game, but he has a pretty high tollerance for scratchy voices.

And as for the prophecy, I think it's entirely possible that they may be right. But I for one, resent their cheap attempts at trying to distract us with shinier evil. I'm an adventurer, and I want it all. I want to wipe out the white kingdom AND save the world. And I want a cherry on it.

War Golem

First Post
Jeremy said:
I seem to remember there being a tangent thread in which Piratecat explained some back story and history it was called something like Secondary Story hour and it had to do with the Defenders. I don't know how many boards ago that was though. :)

It was a while back, and the thread did exist. Here's a copy of what I saved from it... don't recall if there was ever any more:

Appendix A: Piratecat's Secondary Story Hour

Okay, here's what I have coming:
1. The descent into a lost academy of magic, and meeting the surprising instructor
2. (possibly my favorite game) The discovery of the time-locked Cirit Tordu, the Tower of Black Snow - and of Congenio Ioun, an archmage whose name may just be familiar
3. A summary of the grand honking epic quest that took 3 years, real time, to play out! (Yes, thank God, just a summary.)
4. A trek into flooded dwarven caverns to recover a lost artifact
5. The creation - and subsequent defeat - of a dracolich
6. The madness of King Josric
7. the use of ebon magerot to destabilize a country - and the effectiveness of improved doppelgangers therein
8. Encountering the orcish horseman of the Mang (or: mongol tactics, anyone?)
Should have the first one done today, barring complications!

It was three years ago in real time, four years ago in game time, and it's one of my favorite games I've ever run. I had just read an ancient Dragon module by Ed Greenwood, back before the Forgotten Realms had bee picked up by TSR. It was called "Into the Forgotten Realms," or something like that, and it was a relatively lame exploration of a lich's academy. But it was full of potential, and it started me thinking.
Here's the result.
The group (roughly 8th or 9th level) came to the port city of Oursk, the largest port city in this part of the world. They had come here hot on the trail of worshippers from the banned Church of Imbindarla. Imbindarla is the Goddess of the bad things that crawl in the night, and of Undeath. The Defenders had been fighting her cults for years, and they had just learned that the church was looking for a number of obscure prophecies. Why? They didn't know, but in a fit of prescience, they realized that this couldn't lead to anything good.
After a series of adventures and misadventures (including bumping up against a portly mind flayer, his pet intellect devourer Rex, and getting buried up to their necks in sand with the tide coming in,) the group learned the Imbindarlites' next step. The mind flayer had learned where another prophecy was, just north of Oursk. A day behind the mind flayer and his cronies, the PCs followed them to the ruins of the Celestar, an ancient elven wizard's academy now buried under tons of rubbish and trash from the city.
The Defenders made their way through the Rat Heaps, slogging through heaped refuse and past squeaking rat nests. The insects and garbage smells were horrible, and they thought they spotted something large moving through the garbage nearby. Skirting the monster, but not the biting flies or odor, they managed to trail their enemies to a makeshift tunnel burying down into the refuse. Holding their breath, in they went.
They entered what looked like the remains of an ancient school, now buried beneath the rotting trash above. It was clearly elvish design. Worryingly, right near the entrance they found two bodies of ruffians, both dead with horrified grimaces on their faces. What could have killed them? They panicked briefly when a third body, rotting and floating, slid towards them; after some hasty retreating and panicked spellcasting, they realized it was nothing more than a gelatinous cube. Phwew! Inside the cube was a third dead Imbindarlite. Worrisome..
They slowly explored the academy, crossing magically unstable corridors and finding nothing alive. Nevertheless, there was very little dust. In one classroom, they found several dozen skeletal hands, pinned in place, demonstrating the correct somatic position for various types of spellcasting. Likewise, they found several elven skulls being used in displays, or as decorations.
Someone noticed that the skulls, and the hands, were all identical.. as if someone had made many copies of the same bone structure. Odd. Many of the rooms had spell formulae scrawled in a consistent hand on all the chalk-boards.
By this time Dylrath (on point) had gotten a little blase'. For several doors in a row he had very specifically said, "I listen at the door. I peek into the room." At a third door, he didn't say this, and just opened the door and walked in..
.. to a room filled with undead. Several ju-ju zombies sat at small desks, as did the animated corpses of the remaining Imbindarlite thugs. A petrified mind-flayer (the party's enemy) stood in the corner of the room, wearing a Dunce cap. And at the head of the classroom, wearing tattered academic robes, was Hagiok, Librarian.
A lich.
[Note: ever seen the British cartoon "Dangermouse"? Hagiok talks a little like Baron Greenback.. rough and raspy, with little inflection, because his throat is slowly rotting.]
Hagiok called Dylrath "Otto," and commanded him to come sit down, asking him why he was late. Did he have an excuse? A hall pass?
"Err.. no, sir. I don't. It's outside. I'll just.. run and get it." And Dylrath turned and fled. Outside, the horrified party wizard Arcade used his wand of conjuration to start putting up prismatic walls, layer, by layer, in front of the door. From inside, they heard, "Ahh, an excellent example! Prismatic wall is a standard, if slightly disappointing and unimaginative, example of mixing conjuration and abjuration magic. To dispel it you are required to cast a series of spells in the proper order, as so..."
And from the other side, the walls began coming down. The party fled.
Unfortunately, in fleeing, they strayed into a room with an insane elf secured to a blood-soaked table. On the elf's hand was a ring, sovereign glued there. A ring of regeneration. In a flash, the group realized why all the skeletal hands and skulls looked identical. The group kept running.
And when they reached the entrance, it was blocked off by magical force.. and Hagiok stood there.
"Enough of this tomfoolery!" he rasped. "Tasha, you had better have completed that assignment I gave you. Now, you and Ioun and the others should march right back to class. We have a quiz coming up."
... to be continued

So it occurs to me that I should give a little bit of background on my campaign, so that these stories make sense. The PCs started off on one of their first adventures tackling a group called the Brotherhood of Night. This is a cult dedicated to the worship of a God of the Night. I made that god be Imbindarla, a Goddess of undead mentioned in a different Dungeon module, and the PCs proceeded to plague this cult and their nefarious plans for years to come.
Eventually, the church's leaders formulated a plan to do something really, really nasty.. and to achieve it, they allied with the church of the God of Murder, and started a war against most of the countries on the continent's eastern seaboard. They then used life energy from that war to power a ritual. The ritual ended up yanking a star from the heavens, and using the new comet to create an astrological conjunction that would otherwise be impossible. This conjunction was key to the church of Imbindarla's plan.
Into this mess stumbled the PCs, intercepting the church's quest for old prophecies and sussing out from Hagiok what some of these may mean. They learned of a set of stone circles more than a thousand miles away called "Tovag Baragu" where the conjunction would focus on, and learned that the church was trying to find an artifact which was somehopw related to these stone circles. The PCs determined that they better find the artifact first - either to stop whatever it was the church was doing, or to prevent the church from using the artifact themselves.
Eventually the PCs learned the awful truth - what was under Tovag Baragu, what the ritual was for, and their lethal back-up plan - and they damn near failed in stopping it. I was this close to destroying my whole campaign world. I'm glad the PCs prevailed!
And into this framework will fall a lot of the stories I'll tell. I'll try to match them up chronologically as we go.


-War Golem


First Post
high-level campaigns

Sorry for the disjointing rambling questions below, but I'm short on time and long on questions right now.

Piratecat, how "big" and important would you say the Defenders are in your world, right now? Considering the overall grand scheme of things.

They seem to be very major players in Eversink (I've read since the Dockside Royals stuff), but how about elsewhere? Are they in the top 1% of most powerful in your world?

How unusual (in your world) are things like a bard with flames for hair and a walking saint?

Are Mara and Malachite, and the others within some kind of heiarchy, more powerful (personally) than those who are considered their superiors?

How high in level and power can the Defenders grow before they reach the "top of the food chain"?

And if your world has enough super-powerful foes to keep the Defenders busy, how were these foes kept in check before the Defenders?

For instance, take the Dockside Royals: so many high-level (I'm guessing they were all somewhere around 10th) pirates on one ship/organization -- what prevented them from totally ruling the seas?

One problem I've seen with many campaigns that make it to really high levels (15+) is that the whole campaign world has to start bumping up in power to make sence for high-level PCs and enemies to be supported. [Suddenly grunt guards are 5th, 10th, 15th level fighters with templates instead of 1st or 2nd level warriors.] How have you balanced the increasing PC levels without increasing the overall power level of the whole world? (I'm presuming you have balanced this.)

Thanks very much for a great story hour. And thanks in advance for any answers you can give me (us?).




Superb questions. Let's take them one at a time.

> how "big" and important would you say the Defenders are in your world, right now?
> Considering the overall grand scheme of things.

Hmmm. Depends where you're using as a point of reference. In their home kingdom of Gaunt (a homey, backwater of a place), they're in the top .5%. In Eversink or Oursk (my answer to Waterdeep), they're in the top 5% in terms of fighting power, but less in terms of political power. In Sigil, the extraplanar city, they're in the top 10%. And if you look at the world overall, I'd say you hit it pretty closely with the 1% guess.

Mind you, this doesn't mean that in Eversink 1 out of 20 people they meet will be more powerful than they are - far from it. I'm just using those numbers to indicate relative buffitude as compared to the movers and shakers of the areas they're in.

And that's really a good measuring stick. The Defenders could probably walk into most cities nowadays and kill many (if not all) of their powerful defenders. It would ruin their reputation, but they could do it. Only the big cities and the little towns that attract "talent" for some reason could withstand them if they felt like flexing their muscles in a fight. I've never been a big fan of raising guard levels to match PC levels; grunt guards are still 1st lvl. In fact, many of the "bad guys" in Eversink (such as Lord Griggan Clearwater) are low level aristocrats. They've just got political power and hefty friends... and really, what else do you need? :D

> How unusual (in your world) are things like a bard with flames for hair and a walking saint?

Extremely. I mean, they've never met another one!

Seriously, for a long time one of my weaknesses was not showing the group other adventuring groups, both allied and opposed. I think I've gotten a little better at that. For instance, Stavros (their half-orc bartender friend back home) now makes his living financing and sponsoring young heroes. Neat, huh?

This story hour (and the campaign) tends to focus on the heroes, though. The proportional amount of other (mostly low-level) adventurers are out there, even if they don't always see them directly.

> Are Mara and Malachite, and the others within some kind of heiarchy, more powerful (personally)
> than those who are considered their superiors?

Depends. In Mara and Malachite's case, generally yes; most of their superiors in the church have less combat power. In Raevynn's case with the druidic council, generally no. In TomTom's case (he trains the psionic secret police in Gaunt), absolutely yes.

> How high in level and power can the Defenders grow before they reach the "top of the food chain"?

Discovering this will partially determine the longevity of the campaign. Their current adventures in a very dangerous underdark allows me to pull out a lot of the stops in terms of monster power, even though I'm still using primarily low-powered undead to threaten them. If they survive and make it back home, they'll have to see where they fit in. I think personally that when I begin to feel like I'm pulling improbable NPCs out of my butt, it will be time to wind down. I'm not there yet! It's plenty exciting and dangerous, and I think it's still both fun and interesting. My players can answer that better than I can, though.

> And if your world has enough super-powerful foes to keep the Defenders busy, how were these foes kept in check before the Defenders?

In the case of the White Kingdom, they haven't been kept in check since the mindflayer city that was blocking their progress got destroyed. But that's a bad example. *grin*

> For instance, take the Dockside Royals: so many high-level (I'm guessing they were all somewhere around 10th)
> pirates on one ship/organization -- what prevented them from totally ruling the seas?

I always try to give some thought to a bad guy's psychology. If they're the "rule the seas" type, you can be sure that they're out there struggling to rule. If you're the Dockside Royals type (carefully recruited lackeys who like to follow a strong leader), then you can be sure that they're happy following - and if there's one of them that's NOT happy following, then I'll try to work that into the plot as they explore selling out to the PCs.

In the Royals' case, they were hired to break bones and keep the machinery humming down on the docks. It was a fun job; good pay, cushy work, local fame and fear (if not respect), and the occasional extra mercenary job for pay. When they had that, they had no interest in ruling the seas. Some of them had tried that before; as it turns out, it involves a lot of sea sickness and salt pork. Bleah.

> How have you balanced the increasing PC levels without increasing the overall power level of the whole world?

Primarily by changing the nature of the challenges, rather than the specific challenges themselves. Angry or bullying guards are no longer a problem, although they give the PCs a very fun chance to show off. Dealing with the noble that the guards are working for - and his evil court wizard, and his shadowy compatriots in an elaborate blackmail scheme that the PCs might now threaten - may be more of an appropriate challenge.

Remember, events that challenge the players (puzzles, tricky tactics, politics, sneaky conundrums, obscure clues) are level-independent.

I hope that helps. If not, let me know! And a new update as soon as I can, hopefully by Thursday.
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First Post
PC mentioned several months ago that he would be considering ending the Defenders in another year to year and a half. So naturally I started thinking of what character I would start after playing Tao for ten years.
Then it dawned on me, I'm not done with where I want Tao to be. She still has so much growing to do as a character. She is just gotten over being left at the alter, not that she'll tell Dilly that.
We as Defenders are lucky because I don't think there are many DM's that could keep a game this exciting and new after this many years and with this much FirePower.
Just last game he scared all of us when he <deleted> and then Valendo had to say"<deleted>" which saved our butts. Just in time to get us back to <deleted>.
So you see, it is still a great time whenever we get together and game. And though we might not say it cause we're busy cursing his name PC is an amazing DM (so stop giving him any more ideas - Sialia).
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Piratecat said:
FLASHBACK: Three years ago, heading west.

The flashback posted on 7/14 was my memory of a scene that took place in February of 1997. i just found the actual text of what he said, so I'll post it while you wait for a real update! :) See that post for details of why the blind elven seer (the T'Pah) is talking. We did this scene by candlelight... it was creepy!


"I know who you are and what you have done. You have no conception of the consequences of your campaign against those who seek to bring darkness and terror upon the land. Now, time grows short and the omens worsen - with each coming day, the face of nature rebels against the currents of the fate it feels will come. Soon you will see it all around you.. one who is trained can see it already.

"Do you know why these puppets from the east wish to bring darkness upon the world?

"It is surely not for the reasons you think. I see only the shadows of reflections, yet as the end approaches the pattern becomes clearer, as it is heralded and echoed in the woods around me.

"I will tell you the oldest legend in the world. Before you humans were molded from the clay, even before Corellon Larethian shaped his perfect people, there are some who believe that the Old World was ruled by the Giantkin, the Dragonfolk, and the Scaled Ones in a time of High Magic. But there is a story that before the first dragon, and before the Gods of the Giants and the Lizards even arrived, the world was already here.

"Once it had been a home to races we can not even imagine, but that time had passed. For when the Gods first arrived here, brought by the voice of the last innocent screaming his death, they found a world in ruin. The whole world was worms, and worms were the world, and they cloaked it in darkness and foul vapors, and they ruled as Gods over the twitching bones of their dead victims. Ruins covered the world, but even the new Gods did not know who built them, and the worms had no Gods but themselves.

"So the Worms were foul in they eyes and nostrils of the Gods, and they took it upon themselves to cleanse the world. The worm spawn could not all be slain, so they were tricked, and banished through a hole in reality to a red prison beyond the stars. And around this hole the Gods set markers to keep the prison locked. When the Gods then set to rekindle the sun, it would not light, and when they looked they found that two worms had hidden from them. These worms were wrapped in bands of light and were cursed to stay bound and powerless while the new sun shone upon the world. Thus, the world filled with light and was remade in the name of the Gods, and was called Spira. In time, the world was cleansed enough for Corellon Larethian to shape his children, and in time the other people of Spira were shaped as well by their creators.

"If this is true, then what I see fits the pattern, for I believe your enemies found one of the bound ones some ten years ago. Perhaps it can do no more than talk.. but if sunlight is withdrawn for a time, nature fears it would go free. I can sense its wrongness all around me.

"This is what has gone before. What is to come is worse. I must guess that they have stopped trying to free the old master, and have decided instead to open the prison door and free the thousands of its brethren. If they did so, the Easterners would have no need to bring darkness upon the world, for the worms could do so as easily as... this. [Snuffs candle flame.] [sits in darkness] [relights candle]

"This is what the spirits show me. I sense many striving in many places to prevent this, but your group is what the spirits call a “kerngrun”, or pivot. So, it is to you I tell my dreams."

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Well, I'm not done with the story hour, but that's because we just finished a great game starring Lord Nightshade as Agar! That makes the Agar count...

James Garr (Gargoyle)
Mike Selinker (WotC author)
Dr. Rictus
Wulf Ratbane
Lord Nightshade
Inconsequent-AL (with Morrus as Splinder the dwarf)

He's communal!
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“Well, what do we do about him?” Agar sits down on a broken stalagmite as he lights his pipe and absent-mindedly swats invisible bugs. “It’s fascinating how he can project his intelligence through undead. I wonder how he does it?” He draws on his pipe again, lost in thought.

“It’s a good question.” Tao looks around. “Can we scry him?”

Velendo shakes his head. “I don’t think so. Someone of that power almost certainly has defenses in place to prevent that sort of thing.”

“But he knows where we are now,” argues Nolin. “It’s not like we’d be telling him anything other than that we can scry. Ooooh, big surprise.”

“How long would it take to cast the spell?” asks Mara. Luminor, her war horse, nuzzles at her shoulder affectionately.

“An hour,” answers Velendo. “That might be eno….”

He’s interrupted by a scream from Luminor as a wispy, translucent tentacle darts out of the floor. It unerringly sweeps across Mara’s belly and through her shield, plunging in to her gut and wriggling greedily. It pulses several times, like a snake swallowing a mouse.

Mara feels a horrible sense of pain and loss as coldness sweeps through her. Breath rasping, she doubles over in pain, and the long twitching tentacle disappears back into the floor before anyone can strike it.

“Tentacles!” thinks Agar in delight, clapping his hands together as Proty soars around his head. Wisely, he keeps his mouth shut.

“Mara, are you all right?” asks Velendo worriedly.

Mara straightens, pale. “I’ve been better. Where do you think it came from?”

“My guess?” says Nolin grimly, “Kellharin doesn’t like to hear the word ‘no’.”

“But what was that?” asks Tao. She draws both her swords with a rasp and looks around.

“Trouble,” answers Malachite grimly, hefting Karthos. “Some sort of wraith, I think. I’ve never seen anything like it before. They’re usually humanoid, and they don’t have tentacles.”

“Where did it go?” rumbles Splinder.

Before anyone can answer, the monster answers for them. Another tentacle swipes up from the floor, this time penetrating Splinder’s legs. He shouts and jumps away before it can pulse, and the transparent tentacle glides back into the floor.

“Form up for a mass haste!” shouts Nolin, his voice carrying. In the distance, he’s picked up the noise of dwarven weapons being drawn; apparently, the dwarves are under attack as well. Even as Nolin casts the spell, another tentacle twitches upwards towards Galthea, who easily dodges it. Then the group goes into combat mode, as the heroes who can start to fly or levitate. Up near the ceiling a tentacle slashes downwards at the flying Velendo, who is hit but who manages to shake off the feeding tube before it can drain his essence.

“This is frustrating!” says Tao. She takes a slash at another tentacle that emerges, only getting one stab in before it sinks back into the rock – and as several times before, her blade goes right through it. “I think there are four or five of them. Half the time I can’t even hurt them, but they’re using their reach to strike at us without letting us close on them! Should I turn them?”

“Better not,” answers Velendo from above. “Then they’ll just scatter. Better to kill them once and for all right now.”

“Well, one thing is for sure,” says Malachite. “They’re wraiths of some kind, and wraiths… hate… sunlight!” He swings Karthos over his head, and the light of Aeos illuminates the cavern. Pure sunlight trails after the sword’s blade, forming a sphere of light around the Defenders. As he does so, a tentacle emerges from the rock to wrap around his foot. It begins to smoke in the sunlight, and as it swipes at the Hunter of the Dead it passes through his body without even a tingle. Malachite nods once in approval.

“Oh,” says Mara, annoyed. “Well, I wish you’d told me that earlier. I can create sunlight as well.” Malachite just gives her a look. “If I go ethereal, can I fight them on the ethereal plane?”

Malachite shakes his head. “No. They aren’t ethereal. They’re insubstantial. Different things.” Mara scowls and twirls her mace, waiting for the next target.

Deprived of their foes, though, the tentacle wraiths move towards the nearest other source of life force that isn’t lit by sunlight: Newt, Tao’s pet riding lizard. He’s clinging to the cavern wall, and hisses in pain as a ghostly tentacle slices down across his back. “Newt!” shouts Tao, and readies a searing light. The lizard scampers towards her, pursued by several hungry wraiths. A ray of blinding light shoots from Tao’s hand, badly injuring one of the undead.

“Feh!” spits Splinder. “This is dumb. They can’t hurt us, but we can’t hurt them. I’m goin’ out there to serve as bait.”

“What, are you stupid?” asks Velendo. Then he turns his head up to the cavern roof above him and asks the same questions again, this time to his God. “Is he stupid?”

“Better me than the lizard.” Splinder strides forward with his axe ready, and by exiting the sunlight he triggers several attacks from the hidden undead. The Defenders have been waiting for this, though, and they unleash simultaneous counter-attacks, slicing off and dissipating two of the writhing tentacles even though several of their blows simply glide through the undead as if they weren’t there.

One by one, the Defenders leave the globe of sunlight that Newt has now entered. In a frustrating game of cat and mouse, they poise themselves, striking at the feeding tubes whenever they show themselves. Finally, the last of the wraiths is destroyed by a positive energy burst, and the dwarven soldiers run up to report.

“Killed one creature, Sir, using standard tactics of shuffling troops. Got a few men in bad shape, but no one dead. And we need more magic items.” Splinder nods, and Velendo congratulates the dwarven troops.

“Good job. Let’s drink to it.”

Everyone gathers in a group, and Velendo casts sovereign wall in a hige sphere around them. “Pick up your feet, everyone!” he calls, and as they do the wall fills in where their feet used to be. Now the heroes and their troops are standing inside a large, clear bubble of force that can only be pierced by a wish, a miracle, or a rod of cancellation. Velendo then casts Calphas’ Comfortable Castle, and the group files into the warm, safe, food-laden main hall.

“I’ll stay out here a while,” says Priggle Gembreath, their svirfneblin scout. “It won’t hurt to keep a watch. Come get me in a bit.” He looks worriedly around the silent and darkened cavern.

“Fair enough,” says Velendo. “I’ll bring you some food.” The magical door closes behind him, leaving Priggle alone with his thoughts.

To be continued….
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Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Here's a small preview of things to come; I hope I'm not giving too much away, as the Story Hour is still a few runs behind.

Lest anyone forget that Piratecat is a right rat bastard, consider the following. Velendo is a 17th level Cleric with a 20 Wis, and as such gets a big ol' pile of spells every day. Seldom does he come close to using them all up, especially as he is very conservative, and almost always saves spells in case of dire emergencies. He also has only one magic item that will some day run out of charges, and is extremely stingy with that one -- it's a Wand of Maximized Dispelling (yes, despite the usual fact that Dispel can't be Maximized). It had seven charges when he found it, and up until recently it still had seven charges. Like I said: stingy.

Anyway, I thought I'd share with you a list of the spells Velendo has cast in the last 24 hours -- almost every one, especially at the higher levels, was spent in fairly desperate circumstances. I'll start with the small, and work upward:

Endure Elements: Cold
Endure Elements: Fire
Endure Elements: Electricity
Bull's Stregnth
Bull's Stregnth
Owl's Wisdom
Invisibility Purge
Magic Circle vs. Evil
Searing Light
Searing Light
Unfailing Endurance
Mirrored Wall (like a Wall of Force, but with one side mirrored)
Dispel Evil
Flame Strike
Positive Wall (a wall that only hedges Undead)
True Seeing
Flexibile Wall (like a Wall of Force, but infinitely shapable)
Blade Barrier
Greater Dispelling
Calphas' Comfortable Castle (essentially Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion)
Holy Word
Summon Monster VII
Iron Body
Mass Heal
Sovereign Wall (like a Flexibile Wall, but larger, longer lasting, and even harder to get rid of: it's the 9th-level spell in his Wall Domain.)

In addition, Velendo used a Miracle to spoof the druidic spell "Spellstaff," and has kept another Mass Heal in it. And he used that.

And, he felt compelled to use two of the seven charges from his Wand of Maximized Dispelling.

And, after having the horrible experience of [details redacted to preserve suspense], he had to use his power of Disbelief, which he only gets to do every three months.

Also, Velendo was not the only one similarly taxed. That same period has included, among many other spells, Agar casting Disintegrate, Limited Wish and Cone of (Sonic) Cold; Nolin casting multiple Mass Hastes, multiple Healing Circles, and Fire Seeds; and Tao casting multiple Flame Strikes and Gate, with which she called in a [details redacted to preserve suspense] to aid us, though in hindsight I wish she had saved it to help us fight the [details omitted this time because I haven't the slightest idea what it was, other than unspeakably horrific].

And Malachite used up all of his Positive Energy Bursts.

Piratecat has, of late, been voicing concerns about it being difficult to challenge a party of 15th-19th level characters.

It doesn't seem to be a problem, really.


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As always, the Calphas’ Comfortable Castle provides a restful sleep and delicious food, and the group is refreshed when they awake the next morning. Velendo drops the sovereign wall, and dwarven troops scatter through the cavern to serve as scouts. There’s a momentary scare inside the Castle when the group hears Agar scream. Running to his room, they see TomTom Badgerclaw standing on the bed looking confused. “He just appeared in a prismatic display!” exclaims Agar. “I think my theory was correct.”

“Where are we?” asks TomTom. “Or rather, how did I get here? I was in Eversink a second ago.” He suddenly twitches and spins, reaching behind him and pulling something off of his back. A large, crystalline spider hits the floor. “And WHAT is that?”

“I don’t know!” says Agar, reaching for a specimen jar before anyone can step on the slow-moving crystal spider. “But it’s fascinating. I’ll do some research on it as soon as I can.”

The group explains to TomTom that he’s suffering from a side effect of their earlier trip to Kodali’s Retreat. TomTom looks aggrieved. “I had tens of thousands of gold pieces invested in Eversink. Please tell me you cashed out our investments.” No one meets his eyes. “Oh, for crying out loud.”

“One thing is important, TomTom,” says Tao. “Give us all of your magic items in case this happens again!” Instead, TomTom gives her a vaguely obscene gesture, and the group settles down to a hot breakfast.

“What were you saying yesterday about The Narrows, Priggle?” asks Velendo.

“It’s an extremely tight section of the cavern. There’s about enough room for me to get through without crouching too much, but a man in armor would be in trouble. I’d guess that maybe Malachite could squeeze through, if he wasn’t armored. It’s an excellent place for ambushes, because people crawling have a hard time fighting.”

The group exchanges glance. “And incorporeal undead could easily move through stone,” concludes Malachite. “We’ll have to scout it first.”
As the heroes discuss the relative merits of etherealness versus clairvoyance for such scouting, they’re interrupted by a dwarf entering the main hall. “Found something interesting,” the soldier says. “Message plaques from a dwarven outpost less than a day’s march away. Looks like the dwarves tried to send several messengers to get help.” He looks sorrowful. “None of ‘em got any further than here.”

The group reads the stones. The first reports that the dwarven city of Mrid has fallen, and the dwarven outpost of Mridsgate is receiving refugees. It is expected that the ghouls will arrive before long, and reinforcements are needed from anyone on the surface who can help. The second reports that the ghoulish army is closing, renewing a plea for any refugees on the surface to return and fight. The third reports that the ghouls are less than a day away, and survival seems slim, but that they will defend the fort to the last man. As the Defenders piece together the picture, the dwarf shakes his head, beard wagging. “We found some mostly-eaten bodies,” says the soldier. “I think the ghouls somehow got some troops up here to cut off messengers or escape. That must be what we fought yesterday.”

“How far to this outpost?” asks Velendo.

“Most of a hard day’s march,” answers Priggle.

“Then let’s go.”

To be Continued….

Next: Negotiating the Narrows! Drums in the deep! And an overwhelming foe….


First Post
::chuckle:: You'd be surprised what an advanced, ethereal, psionic, undead, half-troll, negative-energy infused KOBOLD can do!!! BWAAAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!! :p

Erp - sorry, PC, I did not mean to give away your surprise..... :(



Oh, you mean Klixxit!

  • Klixxit, male ethereal psionic ghast half-troll negative-energy infused kobold Sor20: CR 27; Size S (3 ft., 6 in. tall); HD 22d12; hp 146; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 23 (+3 Dex, +1 Size, +9 Natural); Attack by weapon +17/+12/+7 melee, or +11/+6/+1 ranged or 2 claws +17 melee, 1 bite +12 melee; dmg claw 1d4+7, bite 1d4+3; SV Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +14; AL CE; Str 22, Dex 16, Con --, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 25.

    Languages Spoken: Draconic, Infernal, Undercommon.

    Skill points: Sor 92
    Skills and feats: Craft +9, Hide +14, Knowledge (arcana) +11, Listen +5, Move silently +14, Profession +2, Scry +20, Search +5, Spellcraft +26, Spot +2; Craft wondrous object, Empower spell, Enlarge spell, Heighten spell, Lightning reflexes, Scribe scroll, Toughness.

    SA: Rend 2d4+9, psionics, spellcasting, paralysis, negative energy infusion, create spawn

    SQ: Regeneration, undead, turn resistance, stench, manifestation

    Possessions: 220,000 gp in gear.

    Sorcerer Spells Known (6/7/7/7/7/6/6/6/6/6): 0th -- Arcane Mark, Detect Magic, Flare, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Read Magic. 1st -- Change Self, Chill Touch, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Shield. 2nd -- Blindness/Deafness, Blur, Flaming Sphere, Knock, Melf's Acid Arrow. 3rd -- Dispel Magic, Fireball, Haste, Lightning Bolt. 4th -- Charm Monster, Emotion, Polymorph Other, Solid Fog. 5th -- Dream, Permanency, Summon Monster V, Teleport. 6th -- Acid Fog, Analyze Dweomer, Mass Suggestion. 7th -- Shadow Walk, Simulacrum, Teleport without Error. 8th -- Demand, Horrid Wilting, Mass Charm. 9th -- Energy Drain, Shapechange, Time Stop.

    Psionic powers known: charm person

    Special attacks

    Rend (Ex): If Klixxit hits with both claw attacks, he latches onto the opponent’s body and tears the flesh. This attack automatically deals an additional 2d4+9 points of damage.

    Paralysis (Ex): Those hit by Klixxit’s bite or claw attack must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 28) or be paralyzed for 1d6+4 minutes Elves are not immune to his paralysis.

    Negative energy infusion (Ex): Those hit by Klixxit’s bite or claw attack must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 28) or suffer 2 negative levels per hit from the negative energy that has infused the kobold's being.

    Create Spawn (Su): In most cases, Klixxit devours those he kills. From time to time, however, the bodies of his humanoid victims lie where they fell, to rise as ghouls themselves in 1d4 days. Casting protection from evil on a body before the end of that time averts the transformation.

    Special qualities

    Regeneration (Ex): Fire and acid deal normal damage to Klixxit. If he loses a limb or body part, the lost portion regrows in 3d6 minutes. He can reattach the severed member instantly by holding it to the stump.

    Undead: Immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and disease. Not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, or death from massive damage.

    Turn Resistance: Klixxit possesses +2 turn resistance.

    Stench (Ex): The stink of death and corruption surrounding Klixxit is sickening. Those within 10 feet must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 28) or be wracked with nausea, suffering a –2 circumstance penalty to all attacks, saves, and skill checks for 1d6+4 minutes.

    Manifestation (Su): As an ethereal creature, Klixxit cannot affect or be affected by anything in the material world. When he manifests, he becomes visible but remains incorporeal. However, a manifested Klixxit can strike with his touch attack or a ghost touch weapon. A manifested Klixxit remains on the Ethereal Plane but can be attacked by opponents on both the Material and Ethereal planes. When Klixxit is on the Ethereal Plane, his spells cannot affect targets on the Material Plane, but they work normally against ethereal targets. When he manifests, his spells continue to affect ethereal targets and can affect targets on the Material Plane normally unless the spells rely on touch. His touch spells don’t work on material targets.

    Darkvision 60 ft.

Nah. He's just a mascot. :D
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Tokiwong said:
Good Lord!!!! that thing is mean machine... mascot indeed... Awesome critter Piratecat, very awesome... suprised you were not crucified for that one. Rat Bastard DM's everywhere applaud thee I am sure... I know I do.

Klixxit is just a joke. :D I whipped him up after I read Ashy's post, adding template after template until he toppled over from the weight and lay there squeaking and waving his little claws. Maybe he lives somewhere in the underdark, but blessedly, my players can rest assured that I'd never use him after displaying his stats here. Poor little fella; now he feels all abandoned and rejected. Sniff.

I tend to reject too many layered templates as inherently silly, although I'm willing to make a rare exception.

What my players DID fight was somewhat more off-beat.
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The Narrows are no problem at all.

After worrying for hours about the tactical nightmare of fighting incorporeal foes in a small space, the Defenders of Daybreak have considered almost all of their possible resources: extraplanar travel, wind walk, teleporting, dimension doors, reduces, and many other possibilities. These turn out to simply not be needed. Arriving at the narrowing end of Funnel Cave, TomTom and Mara both turn ethereal to scout the cascading tunnel carefully, and they find that the narrow and winding tunnel is completely unoccupied other than by beetles and rats. No ghouls, no ghosts, no wraiths – nothing.

A small dwarven guardhouse deep within the difficult passage seems to be abandoned as well. Tao uses her helm to double-check, and the group concludes that it seems safe to pass. The passage is a bit difficult – horribly claustrophobic for those who don’t like tight spaces – but uneventful. Soon the entire company is safely on the other side of The Narrows and headed down an uneven, dank passage towards the dwarven outpost of Mridsgate.

“Shhh! Did you hear that?” Nolin holds up his hand in caution. The company slows and stops.

“What?” Mara asks. All she hears is the ever-present trickle of water, her own heartbeat, and the heartbeat of her warhorse Luminor.

“Drums,” answers Nolin. “Very distant. Let’s get moving.”

Several hours later the passageway dead-ends in a solid wall. “Rubbish,” says TomTom. "It’s dwarven make. See? The outlines of the door in the stone are right here… and here.” He looks for a keyhole on this side of the door, but doesn’t find one.

Tao concentrates, touching her helm and focusing its power. “There’s a dwarf in there,” she reports. “He’s asleep, and looks exhausted. The door is doubly locked and barred. He’s got a few weapons as well.”

“We can knock down the door,” someone suggests.

“Hmmph,” snorts Nolin. He casts detect thoughts while Mara and Malachite simultaneously try to detect evil and undead. No one gets anything; apparently, either the dwarf is dead or the stone door is especially thick. As a result, Nolin knocks on the door.

“That woke him up,” reports Tao. She’s interrupted as a hitherto undetected peephole rasps open.

“Who’s there?” asks a rusty, strained voice. “Who are ye?”

“Friends,” answers Nolin in dwarvish. “We’ve come from the surface to help your folk.” The dwarf is silent for a few seconds, processing the answer. He finally responds.

“From the surface? Stick yer hand through this slot.”

“Don’t do it!” someone whispers.

“Don’t be silly,” says Nolin, and pushes his hand into the dark rectangular peephole. He feels something touching his skin.

“Yer flesh is warm! Yer alive!” comes the dwarf’s muffled voice, followed by the clanging of iron bars bouncing off of stone. A minute later, the heavy stone door swings open, and the tired dwarf looks out over the group. “Where’s the rest of ye?” he asks in confusion, trying not to sound disappointed.

“This is it,” says Nolin. “But we’re really good at fighting undead.”

The dwarf shakes his tired head. “I sure hope so. When they ordered me up here, the ghouls had camped outside of the walls, screaming and smelling. Morale was bad; they had a few of our dead from Mrid with them.” The dwarf shudders involuntarily. “That was yesterday. They might have already fallen, I dunno, but I don’t think so; no refugees yet up the tunnel. Can ye go and help?”

“That’s what we’re here for,” answers Tao. The dwarf fishes in his belt pouch.

“Then here’s a key to the back gate,” he explains, quickly handing over a heavy iron key that TomTom eagerly grabs. “When you go through it, turn right, then right again. That’ll lead ye to the courtyard. If ye go straight, ye’ll end up in the outpost proper. I wish I was going with ye… but I have me orders. Moradin speed ye!”

On the other side of the guard room, the rhythmic beat of the drums is much louder; the faint noise throbs, echoing deceptively up the stone passageways. Once they hear a bugle blast as well, and the tired group trots even faster over the uneven ground. At long last they reach the back gate, and TomTom opens the door without effort. There is no guard there, and the heroes run through echoing corridors as they race for the combat. They know they’re close because they can hear it now; screams and howls, chanting and the clash of metal on metal. One last corner, hearts pounding and breath rasping in their chests, and they burst out into a small gatehouse overlooking the courtyard. Anxiously peering through the arrow slits, the Defenders look out into a vision of Hell.

To be continued….
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First Post
When I read that last line I pictured the Defenders hunkering down on a high wooden catwalk, watching a rippling horde of grey beings undulate in a fiery light.


It reads like a good movie.


First Post
Piratecat said:
Anxiously peering through the arrow slits, the Defenders look out into a vision of Hell.

To be continued….

Ah, but what Pkitty hasn't told you is whose version of hell it is. What the Defenders are currently seeing is Nolin's version of hell. The plain is littered with countless karioke machines, each manned by a squadron of drunken louts singing off key and forgetting the words. Behind the drunken karioke shock troops come rank on rank of angry husband cavalry backed up by the the shrill pregnant girlfriend rocket troops. All commanded by General Hairloss Potbelly, the middle aged lothario.



  • For folks who are curious, go fetch your copy of The Stronghold Builders Guidebook from WotC, and flip to the sample dwarven outpost near the back of the book. I used this map for Mridsgate. The Defenders came in the back (on the far right of the map) and ran down the corridor to the easternmost guardhouse overlooking the courtyard. Incidentally, there is nothing more fun than taking a jar of pennies, dumping them on your battlemap, and saying “Here is your enemy….”
The dwarven outpost of Mridsgate is normally close to impregnable, so long as it’s manned by enough dwarves and not facing any truly powerful magic. It’s been crafted by the finest dwarven engineers, designed to withstand spells and armies, engineered to let the dwarves kill their foes without taking any casualties of their own.

The ghouls have breached it.

As the Defenders look out, they can feel palpable evil seeping into their veins. Vision is obscured by clouds of greasy smoke that drift across the courtyard, but even with limited sight it’s clear that the dwarves won’t stand for long. A single breach in the wall has allowed more than a hundred orcish and goblinoid ghouls access into the inner courtyard, scuttling up and over the wreckage of the wall. The first undead through fell like hewn trees before the dwarven soldiers, but the ghouls just keep coming and coming, often using the paralyzed bodies of living dwarves as shields – and field rations – as they push their way forward. The Defenders of Daybreak quickly realize that at the moment the odds are about even, and every second makes the odds worse and worse for the dwarves.

Nolin casts mass haste, and Agar opens the door to the gatehouse and steps out of the way. The other heroes run past him along the narrow wall platform or down into the surging, screaming melee below. Tao pauses at the door, looks down in revolted anger, and turns undead. She feels the power of Galanna surge through her with the same force that drives a tree root through rock, and three – only three! – undead explode into dust beneath her. Worried, she casts flame strike into the ghoulish line, and is somewhat more rewarded to see charred, twitching carcasses after her pillar of fire disappears. Even there, however, the holy energy seems to be somewhat subdued.

Agar has arcane sight up, and sees what caused it. “It’s that wall!” he yells over the cacophony of gurgling undead and ripping flesh. “It has unhallow cast on it, along with some spell that ruins morale! It’s suppressing holy energy!” Velendo’s head snaps up.

“What?” he asks in shocked disbelief. “WHAT! Those… those bastards had the nerve to unhallow a WALL?” His face narrows to an angry grimace. “I don’t think so.” Pushing his way through the door, he steps out on the wall, and he immediately feels the cloying foulness trying to worm its way into his soul... feelings of hopelessness, of surrender, of defeat. Defiant, Velendo stands on the unhallowed wall, and heedless of the ghouls around him he raises his voice in a prayer to The Wallbuilder. Then Velendo’s hands slap down onto the mortared stone, and his dispel evil reverberates throughout the bastion.

There is a bright flash, a sound something like a gong, and the insidious sense of evil simply disappears.

“Hah!” shouts Velendo triumphantly, his old voice cracking. “Defile a WALL, will you?” He turns and casts positive wall directly into the breech to his left. The space instantly fills with sparkling yellow energy. A ghoul finds out the hard way what it does when it scuttles through, hunger in its rotting orcish eyes, and falls into a pile of steaming bones on the far side. “Nothing’s going through there,” mutters Velendo in a pleased tone.

As soon as the unhallow is gone, the rest of the Defenders work to clear the courtyard. Malachite runs carefully along the ledge, finally unleashing a positive energy burst for maximal effect. Luminor quickly solidifying beside her from his gaseous form, Mara leaps down and begins to lay about her with her holy mace. The ghouls which surround her are still smoking from Malachite’s attack, and they leap at the beautiful paladin with a ferocity born of desperation. Blond hair flying, Mara slams her shield against an encroaching ghoul and swings Lightbinder into its stomach with a crackling burst of light. The undead hobgoblin dissolves like tissue paper under her blow, and she spins to continue sweeping her mace around her. Every single ghoul she hits is burst into two, and within a few seconds there are no enemies within 5 ft. of her. “Luminor!” she calls, and her horse coalesces into flesh in time for her to mount.

Near her, Galthia spins his quarterstaff of disruption with perfect precision, dropping two ghouls and blasting two more into golden dust. Galthia’s eyes dance, but he never smiles.

Up in the guard chamber, Nolin opens up with two fireballs in a perfect spread pattern, catching the ghouls without hurting any dwarves, and the Defenders of Daybreak maneuver (or gallop) through the courtyard cutting down the injured ghouls. The dwarves, now regrouped, join in the fight, and very quickly there are few ghouls let in the courtyard to fight. Twitching limbs and crawling maggots abound, but no ghoul who crossed the breached wall still stands.

“Watch out for a leader!” calls Nolin. “There will be someone giving them orders!”

From his vantage point atop the wall, Velendo and Nolin suddenly catch a glimpse of something disturbing through the drifting smoke. A squat ghoul shambles forward into view… a ghoul with glowing red eyes, like Kellharin’s when he held his parley the day before. “You showed up a little before I expected,” he admits. “If you’re sure we can’t be friends….?” Then the ghoul’s mouth opens impossibly wide, and hideous syllables issue forth from it, infernal words that no man should know. The ghoul finishes the spell as it holds something over its head, smiles sublimely, and then his head explodes. The body topples backwards, whatever he was holding skittering a few feet away.

“His head exploded!” says Nolin in surprise. Then Agar points, and Nolin sees the hideous rip in reality that has opened up above where Kellharin was standing. It squirms, twists, and ruptures open into a circular inferno of fire and brimstone.

Out from the gate slithers a 12 foot tall serpent creature with a woman’s body and a woman’s face. Coiled, hellish armor adorns her otherwise naked chest, and six scimitar sheaths line her scaly flanks. Her eyes catch Velendo’s, and they look to him like burning coals.

“Kill everyone in the fortress?” The demon’s voice sounds like dragon scales dragged across stone. She sounds amused. “I accept.”

To be continued….
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