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I erred on my own timeline it seems. Still, we can chalk up Hinzackle's underestimation of how long it has been to madness. Laveness's journal suggests it has been at least a month. And Faenor knows of the Speaker through the letters, but knows nothing else, per the spoiler.
Professor Hinzackle beams with delight. "He found me. Here, in fact. Such fortune! Now you mention it, I truly am special." He contemplates for a moment, then looks as if he might cry. "So special..."
Sylvia - you sense he is bat-s+*+ crazy, but there are no signs of domination.
Caladrel may want to extend a few to Trina as well. She is down 17 hp. Even though I am going to move along, feel free to roll those heals with your next post, Caladrel.
You are knowledgeable of many mysteries, but have heard no mention of a Speaker fitting these circumstances. While no one can know everything, it also seems plausible that this title is of Hinzackle's own creation.
Professor Hinzackle seems to enjoy having students to lecture to about the Speaker. While he is eager to proceed, Sylvia's strategy definitely buys some time. "Oh, I am the foremost expert on the Speaker," he brags. "He has been guiding me for perhaps a fortnight. In that short span, I have expanded my knowledge of the metaphysical world more thoroughly than in the last twenty years! You shall see for yourself, you with your eyes that see."
"To prepare, all you must do is open your ears and receive like a pitcher that brims with wine only to increase in size. The Speaker speaks with many voices - all the voices of the world in the harmony of the stars themselves, and the space between them. I admit it is challenging at first, but rewarding to those who truly listen and seek to understand. The Speaker comes from a dimension beyond our own, where marvels we can scarcely comprehend are but carnival baubles given to children, and to merely scratch the surface - breathe in the essence of that understanding - is to understand the movements of the heavens themselves. Come, and you shall hear."
Chickenbone had assured you that you would have several hours of daylight remaining when you got to the necropolis. It was only about noon when you arrived, and it took maybe two hours to explore these crypts. You could be many miles from the necropolis by sunset. He made it clear that this is not a place you would want to be at night.
Indeed, there would be no way to detect a curse in this realm. As a side note, I just went ahead and listed the properties of the items assuming you would take the time to identify them eventually. I like to do that as a GM, as I find item identification tedious. Obviously, that would not apply to curses.
Feel free to divvy up later if you don't want to do so now.
Tybalt and Leandro:
Tybalt knows with that Knowledge roll, and Leandro knows for reasons:
Katalin Szabo holds a barony in the land of Dorvinia, east of Borca. She is known as an accomplished wizard, but also as a cruel mistress. Peasants invoke her name to frighten children into obedience. Those who cross her are rarely seen again.
That she is a vampire is not part of her public reputation, but such things are rarely common knowledge.
Tybalt inspects the wall panel and looks for a latch or release. He finds a crack in the stone that contains a switch, allowing the door to open easily.
The space beyond is more of a large closet than a real chamber. Stashed within is a collection of arcane items, a small chest containing coin and valuable items, and a prominent pedestal with nothing on top.
To also include what you found on Monerre:
The ancient door opens into a smaller chamber littered with bones. A heavy table stands in the middle, strewn with rusty tools, scraps of funerary wrappings, and stray bits of ichor. This chamber appears to have been used for animation work and necromantic research. The smell of grave dust lies heavily in the air.
Perception checks please.
"Far? The Speaker is in my office enlightening Professor Laveness right now." He gestures to the office door behind him.
Once again, you can hear the cacophony of voices coming from the office that never abated despite your noisy battle in the laboratory. Unless the office is crammed full of people like a carriage at the circus, something else is afoot in there.
The book contains:
All 0-level spells, plus all necromancy spells to 3rd level, and:
Apart from spells, there are notes about undead creation, preservation of corpses, descriptions of negative energy manipulation, etc.
Will save: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (20) + 1 = 21
The spray of arcane color washes over Hinzackle, but he is unfazed.
However, he does take pause at Sylvia's entreaty. He lowers his guard slightly. "You know about the Speaker?" He proceeds hesitantly. "Professor Laveness did not tell me to expect anyone. Are you here to hear the words of the Speaker?" He seems almost oblivious to the destruction of his laboratory.
Searching the headless corpse of Monerre is uneasy work. Still, Eliva manages to find several items in his possession:
A particularly wicked-looking dagger, A small pearl covered in arcane markings, and two scrolls bound in black ribbon.
Angalia looks through the assorted materials on the heavy stone desk. There is a large tome, bound in skin and filled with arcane formulae. This has all the markings of the necromancer’s spellbook. Angalia passes over the foul book with distaste, but finds several other papers to be of interest. ”Look here,” she says. ”Looks like he’s been writing letters. Who knew that the post traveled this far.”
The letters, read in the order in which they are dated, paint a thorough picture, despite the fact that Monerre’s responses are unavailable. The oldest is written in a flowing hand that has become all too familiar by now:
Most Honorable Mage, I hope you forgive the abrupt quality of this missive. I know we have not had the pleasure of meeting, although your reputation for excellence in the necromantic arts has reached my attention over the long years. Ordinarily, it would be hard to imagine a circumstance in which we two should cross paths, but Fate works in mysterious ways. I have learned that in your noble pursuits, you have come into the possession of an artifact that is of great interest to me and my venerable kin. I speak, of course, of the Skull of Harrag the Defiler, an ancient magister whose learned pursuits are no doubt known to you. Well I know that such a relic must be treasured by whomever should possess it. Still, I hope that gentlemen such as ourselves may find an arrangement that may satisfactorily assure its transference to the care of my kin. Please do not dismiss this offer out of hand; you must know that my court possesses much in the way of resources, which you would no doubt prefer to have at your disposal, rather than at the disposal of those who would threaten your safety. I look forward to reading your response. With greatest respect, -T
The next bears the same hand, and dates some days after the first:
Most Eloquent Friend, I was pleased to receive your response so quickly, and delighted that the crows have been able to find their way through the Mists with our communications. Truly, you have a way with words that is remarkable; it delights me how one can craft such poetry while relying upon the invectives more often heard uttered by sailors and tavern wenches. However, I could not find within your missive any offer of terms for the transference of the Skull to our care. Please think on this omission, as I believe we have much to offer, and I do prefer to pay for the things I seek rather than acquire them by force. -T
Then, several days later:
Most Taciturn Acquaintance, In my last communication, I praised the dutiful crows for their faithful carrying of our correspondence, but I see that was premature, as they must have lost your last message to me which no doubt contained a reasonable price for which we could acquire the Skull. That is a pity. But do not despair, for I may know more of your desires than you do yourself. Long have you sought the ways of the lich’s phylactery; that prize of the necromantic arts that could preserve you forever. For why study the ways of Death if not to defeat it? Alas, I do not possess the secret of the phylactery’s creation. I have no need for such things, for I am possessed of a purer form of deathlessness than the eternal decay of the lich. This, I can give you: an eternity in which to grow your power. You will endure, and expand, and feed. You will look Death in the face and laugh, and your might will know no limits. I fear that should you spurn this offer, you may look Death in the face sooner than you realize, as it comes for all mortals when they least expect. Surely, triumph over Death will be sufficient payment for one old gravedigger’s skull. -T
There is one more in the same hand:
Most Delightful Friend, I am glad to hear you respond so sensibly to my last letter. I must apologize, as I am detained with matters here in the Court, but one of my dearest friends is already en route to your manse to deal with the particulars of our arrangement. Katalin Szabo is herself an enchantress of considerable power, so no doubt you will have much to talk about. In answer to your query, we will release you from servitude as soon as the deathlessness is extended; we have no wish to retain you as a spawn in our dull little Court. It is well that she is on her way, as we have learned there are others who are seeking the skull as we speak. They have nothing to offer you, and would no doubt kill you if you refused to hand it to them. Instead, your new Gift will assure a swift victory over the self-righteous crusaders should they arrive upon your doorstep. Most happy hunting, -T
There is another letter, in a different hand. It too bears an elegant script, but somewhat less arcane and ancient than the others.
Lord Monerre, I expect to arrive in the span of two nights. I have been told the journey through the swamp is most unpleasant, but with the right arcane tricks one can make it bearable. When I set out to meet you, I did not know how our meeting was to unfold. Lord Tetslin tells me you have listened to reason. My torturers will be most disappointed. I am prepared to grant you the Eternal Gift myself, and will take possession of the skull to return it to the keeping of my kin. As an offering, I plan to bring a couple of these natives with me. One for you, and one for me as a palette cleanser. I have always detested the taste of necromancers. Yours Eternally, Lady Katalin Szabo, First Enchantress of the Crimson Court and Fourth Baroness of Arkamy
Jerry strikes the professor again solidly. He responds by smiling a crazed smile and breathing more fire.
Smitty, Trina, and Jerry take 2d6 ⇒ (2, 1) = 3 fire damage. DC 15 Reflex save for half.
Smitty save: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (9) + 8 = 17
All PCs are up.
Smitty and Trina swing at the mad professor, hoping to subdue him, but find him too difficult to pin down and swat properly.
Hinzackle just laughs at Sylvia's threat. "The committees and deans and department chairs are mere specks upon the surface of an anthill before giants that will swallow them up like the sea!" It is possible that series of metaphors made sense in his deluded brain.
Jerry is up.
The coffin lid is heavy, and heaves open with a rusty creak. Within lies Monerre, looking undisturbed, without even a scratch from the recent melee. His skin bears the pallid hue of death, and he lies absolutely still - without so much as the rise and fall of living breath.
Leandro drives the wooden stake into the creature's chest, and its eyes fly open with silent alarm. A gout of dark blood sprays across Leandro's arm as he drives the spike deeper with the heavy crowbar. When the stake is driven deep - striking the surface of the coffin bottom - the creature lies still and the bleeding subsides.
Still, the business is not done. Leandro saws at the ashen flesh of Monerre's neck, cutting through sinew and cartilage. When he has finally cut through all of it, the head remains, staring blankly at the ceiling in feeble imitation of its previous undead state.
Faenor's ray strikes the professor, leaving him fatigued. Meanwhile, Caladrel provides some healing to Jerry.
If anybody feels up to deciding actions for Smitty and Trina, I would appreciate it during this combat - especially since you have said you want to try to capture him alive. I don't want to be responsible for accidentally killing the professor or one of the PCs for that matter. If there are no takers, I will do the best I can.
Sylvia, Jerry, Smitty, and Trina are up.
Based on that check, Res certainly knows how a vampire is killed on Golarion. It is also enough that, in his time spent with Dr. Savarre and others in his time in Ravenloft, he has an understanding that many vampires in this realm have unique strengths and weaknesses, and therefore there are probably exceptions to the rule.
Posting for Res, since Tordek is traveling...
Res sees the mist drift into the coffin and says, "That is not enough to slay Monerre. We must drive a wooden stake into his heart and cut off his head. That, at least, works on most, although the creatures of the night in this realm may differ."
Anuqa, who has some experience hunting the undead with his mentor, Dr. Savarre, agrees. "It is true. Some of them require a particular material, or a ritual, or even a certain type of wooden stake. Younger or less powerful vampires are usually defeated by a stake of ash, like this one..." Here he produces a wooden stake from his pack. "Dr. Savarre always insists I travel with one."
Jerry strikes the professor with the flat of his blade. While hurt, the professor just grins widely in return. He steps back and takes a swig from a red flask. Then he quickly leans forward and spews a mouthful of fire at everyone close enough to him.
4d6 ⇒ (5, 6, 4, 2) = 17 fire damage to Jerry, Trina, and the wolf. DC 15 Reflex save for half.
Trina save: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (17) + 2 = 19
Eliva's arrow strikes Monerre, the silver searing at his undead flesh. Leandro follows that with a solid blow with his silvered sword. Then, Res's ray of holy light blasts the necromancer. He cries out as his form disintegrates into a cloud of vapor. The vapor snakes along the floor and into the nearby coffin.
Anuqa takes advantage of the chaos and lays his hand upon the remaining zombie, discharging his spell and destroying the creature.
Out of combat.
I think I may have missed something. Res could not have targeted all the undead from where he was standing around the corner of the hallway in S11. He had no line of effect. He would have had to move to T9 to do that. This is important because that puts him in the area of the lightning bolt. Res, if you are okay with that resolution, you also need to take 17 electricity, DC 18 Reflex for half.
Unless he does have line of effect from his old position... It's murky. Any thoughts?
Tybalt's whip misses its mark, but he creates an opening for Angalia. Alas, her attack misses as well.
Avoiding more attacks, he casts his spell while maintaining a defensive posture.
concentration: 1d20 + 14 ⇒ (10) + 14 = 24 to cast defensively.
He unleashes a bolt of lightning that races down the hallway in front of him. Leandro, Andrzej, Eliva, and Anuqa take 5d6 ⇒ (2, 5, 1, 5, 4) = 17 electricity damage, DC 18 Reflex save for half.
Anuqa save: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5 (hp 10 out of 27)
Anuqa advances on the zombie, a shocking grasp spell charged in his hand. He was in T11, which is why he was in the lightning bolt line, but then moved to S8 to deliver touch attack.
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
The zombie claws back at him.
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
I don't do anything special for a second 20, or critical fumbles for that matter. That said, it's a shame you wasted that on the ooze. That would have been devastating to Professor Hinzackle. The ooze didn't have nearly that many hit points left,
Faenor's fiery ray alarms all present with its intensity. It strikes the ooze globules solidly and they burn away, leaving only a harmless residue.
Smitty aims Bessie at the crazed professor and fires a shot.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Trina moves into position and adds jabs with her glaive to the attacks by the wolf.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
Both of them fail to strike Hinzackle.
Sylvia's bomb burns away some of the ooze swarm, but they are not destroyed.
Caladrel - Since Sylvia moved on her turn, you don't have to move to J15 to get to her. I have put you at G16. If you don't want to be there, let me know.
The wolf nips at Hinzackle, but the gnome is surprisingly nimble.
Faenor, Smitty, Trina, and Jerry are up.
The distraction quality is explained in the swarm subtype rules:
Swarms possess the distraction ability. Spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of a swarm requires a caster level check (DC 20 + spell level). Using skills that involve patience and concentration requires a DC 20 Will save.
Only applies to spellcasting. You don't need that last save and can lob a bomb without a problem.
There is no time for celebration. The eastern door promptly swings open, as a wild-haired gnome in soiled academic robes hurls an incendiary bomb into the middle of the laboratory.
Touch attack vs wolf: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (14) + 7 = 21
Trina Reflex save: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18
Tiny globules of yellowish ooze pour past the Professor's feat and swarm about Sylvia. Sylvia takes 1 damage plus 1d4 ⇒ 4 acid as they dissolve her flesh. Sylvia must make a DC 15 Reflex save or the globules attach to her and cause 1d4 points of acid damage per round and give her the entangled condition. Sylvia is also effected by the distraction ability of oozes. (Sylvia is entitled to an attack of opportunity when the ooze moved into her space.)
Anybody sickened is still sickened for this turn, but no future saves are needed.
As flames engulf the golem, it wails and thrashes its arms. It is slowed for 2d6 ⇒ (5, 2) = 7 rounds.
The summoned wolf gets a mouthful of rotting flesh, but the golem is too sturdy on its feet to be pulled down by the bite.
Smitty shoots at it again. The bullet strikes, but does not wound it much.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
Trina hacks at it again with her glaive.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
She cleaves into the abomination with her glaive and cuts it in two.
Jerry slashes at the golem, hacking at its rotting flesh. The golem swings back at him with both arms.
Attack 1: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (4) + 7 = 11
The dice love Jerry this day.
Faenor sends his arcane acid arrow at the golem, striking it solidly and dissolving some of its sinew.
Faenor posted early, so I am inserting his declared action into his turn. (Especially since it was rather successful.) Let me know if you are unhappy with this resolution.
Monerre save: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Monerre yells defiantly as the holy light sears him, but it is nothing more than bluster as he bears the full brunt of the blast. One of the zombies does not fare so well, as it crumbles to dust.
Since Eliva is full of knowledge skills, she'd tap her others when the first one failed...
Eliva's Knowledge (religion): 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (5) + 13 = 18
"He's a vampire," the inquisitor says grimly. "I can see it in his complexion."
Eliva is now using undead bane on her arrows. That's also a good enough check for her to grab one of her silver arrows.
She lets loose the arrow and it strikes Monerre in the thigh. He thrashes in agony. Eliva taunts as she readies her next arrow, "That looks like it burns."
Res, Andrzej, and Leandro are up.
To be clear, the rotting humanoid parts stitched together in this laboratory do not look much like an elf lady.
Trina init: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Trina save: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (12) + 6 = 18
"Ach, that stench is fouler than last summer's haggis!" Smitty moans as he retches ungracefully. As if to punish whatever so offended his nostrils, he aims his weapon and shoots the thing.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
The creature is not even slowed by the bullet wound. It is clear that bullets are not likely to be of much use here. (DR 5/bludgeoning or slashing)
Trina approaches and hacks at it with her glaive to no avail.
1d20 + 7 ⇒ (3) + 7 = 10
Monerre grins at Tybalt - a toothy, almost too wide grin. "I knew where it was, yes. Sadly for you, you are not the first to come for it, and I am glad I accepted their offer rather than yours. It suits me well." Just then, Angalia's dagger hurtles at the necromancer and her aim is true, but it is cast aside harmlessly by his magical armor of force which surrounds him.
He turns to Angalia. "This is beyond you, girl..." and with an arcane word and a gesture, strikes fear into her heart.
Cause fear - Angalia must make a DC 16 will save vs fear or be frightened. On a successful save, she is still shaken for 1 round. It looks like she gets +4 on the save due to Leandro's aura.
Anuqa hastily dons his defenses. Casting mage armor.
The two zombies shamble to Leandro and Andrzej and rake at them with their rotting hands.
To hit Leandro: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
Knowledge (arcana) DC 17:
This thing is a carrion golem. It is a construct made of dead body parts, animated by chemical and alchemical means. Unlike the more familiar flesh golem, the process used to create this abomination was more rudimentary, leaving the parts less protected from ordinary decay.
You understand basic construct traits. This creature is slowed by cold and fire, while electricity will heal it. Contact with it could spread filth fever.
As the foul construct begins to move about, it eminates a horrific stench, which is all but insufferable.
All must make a DC 14 Fort save or be sickened.
The creature finally lumbers to its feet.
Sorry for the delay. It always takes more time than I think it will to be ready for a new combat.
You make your way around the bend in the corridor and see before you a well-lit chamber. It seems to function as both a living chamber and a study for its occupant. An old, rumpled bed sits in the corner. Strangely, an old coffin lies beside it. On another wall, an ancient stone desk is littered with yellowed bits of parchment and a number of crumbling old scrolls. A brazier illuminates the room warmly, but several small candles also occupy the desk to facilitate reading.
Clad in old robes the color of charcoal, a balding, middle-aged man busies himself frantically, apparently finishing the casting of a spell. He glares at you all with fiery, almost neurotic intensity. "I knew you would come," he rasps, "but you are all too late. And never have I been better prepared to dispatch of such easy prey."
Beside him, two rotting corpses stand awkwardly and gaze mindlessly in your general direction.
Spellcraft DC 16:
The spell he was completing as you entered was protection from good.
Roll initiative, please.
Sylvia hears some movement beyond the next door - someone is moving about, but not necessarily speaking. The more distant cacophony of voices continues to drift from the room further through the suite.
As Jerry and Sylvia meander through the laboratory, the unbreathing figure on the table slowly begins to sit upright. Its dull eyes seem to look with purpose at all of you intruders.