Yes, you can stand. But it will open you up to some attacks. Just to point out how devious Doug Niles is, he makes it clear that the bottom of the steps is in low light and the fighters are 'trained' to fight in low light conditions. I do not want to add that complication.
The glow from the light above is sufficient to see here.
Two spearman get awkward attacks as the barbarian rises to her feet.
Maggie takes a brutal shot from a spear to the abdomen before felling a spearman. (18 damage)
As I read this, Doug Niles was quite the sneaky guy. If he was modifying this, the spearman would probably have combat reflexes. Well they get an AoO and a regular attack each.
The front four tumble down the stairs and the spearman try to skewer them. They attack the group as they descend.
hitvsFF Felgarr/damage: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 151d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
hitvsFF Belrain/damage: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 4 = 201d6 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
hitvsFF Maggie/damage: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 71d6 + 3 ⇒ (5) + 3 = 8
The front four can make another DC10 acrobatics roll to end up standing and not be prone in the four squares in front of the spearmen. If failing, subtract four from your ff ac.
A man in a pointy hat gestures upwards, and the area under the Bizzlemont and Elgoron gets very slippery (Grease spell denoted in orange at DC 15 Reflex)
A grease spell covers a solid surface with a layer of slippery grease. Any creature in the area when the spell is cast must make a successful Reflex save or fall. A creature can walk within or through the area of grease at half normal speed with a DC 10 Acrobatics check. Failure means it can't move that round (and must then make a Reflex save or fall), while failure by 5 or more means it falls (see the Acrobatics skill for details). Creatures that do not move on their turn do not need to make this check and are not considered flat-footed.
The spell can also be used to create a greasy coating on an item. Material objects not in use are always affected by this spell, while an object wielded or employed by a creature requires its bearer to make a Reflex saving throw to avoid the effect. If the initial saving throw fails, the creature immediately drops the item. A saving throw must be made in each round that the creature attempts to pick up or use the greased item. A creature wearing greased armor or clothing gains a +10 circumstance bonus on Escape Artist checks and combat maneuver checks made to escape a grapple, and to their CMD to avoid being grappled.
Party up. Make those acrobatics checks to be standing and those reflex saves.
The party spends a damp, soggy night in the swamp and advances to what appears to be raised wooden palisade built to keep the mucky swamp water out. Everyone has wet boots as you wade in muck waist high, even higher for smaller folks.
There is about a fifty by fifty foot dry area inside the wooden palisade. At the end of the dry area a set of stairs descends into the depths. It is remarkably dry inside and the tracks of lizard-like feet lead inside.
Ramne points out: "This construction is not recent. This palisade has been here a while. It has restrained the incursions of the swamp for some years."
Strang carefully looks from behind the palisade into the dry spot, and has spotted nothing suspicious, creature or trap.
Any preparations. Are you stepping over the palisade and heading down the stairs?
The third watch notices a pack of wolves cross your trail. As day is breaking, they seem to melt away.
As the group resumes the trek, the ground gets softer, the forest darker, and the air soggier.
Ramne speaks up: "The locals call this the Dim Forest. An apt name."
Whiskers continues to find a trail through the forest and swamp.
Maggie Survival: 1d20 ⇒ 11
Helping the old man, Maggie notices that she can follow the trail of what look to be large lizard tracks that they are following now. The party completes a third full day of travel and Maggie finds one of the few dry spots in the swamp to camp. The water nearby seem to have a strange taste, but does not seem contaminated. Another night of watching is uneventful, though an occasional wolf is seen.
3d8 ⇒ (3, 6, 7) = 16
The fourth day of travel following Whiskers through the swamp leads to what appears to be a structure of some kind in the distance. Obvious man made straight lines are seen that blur the natural curves of the swamp.
3d8 ⇒ (5, 7, 5) = 17
It is well into twilight after four days of travel and you arrived at what looks to be a large man-made structure in the middle of the swamp.
Let me know if everyone has four days of rations. If not, Maggie will have to make some survival rolls and take some risks to find food with wolves stalking the party.
Whiskers leads you through a slight swamp, but it quickly gives rise to farms and ranches. Curiously many seem abandoned.
After an evening of camping, nothing happens, and day 2 starts out pleasantly. After only an hour of travel, Whiskers leads you into a gloomy wood. Moss hangs from the trees and the dripping of water seems everywhere. The forest is eerily silent.
Whiskers leads you through a hidden trail to the right around noon, and light is needed to see in this dark woods. Given the lack of underbrush in the light starved woods, the party can walk two wide easily.
The journey continues and at the end of day it is time to make camp again. Ramne seems to creak as he settles down. Although he hasn't complained, the two day trek seems to be taking its toll on his old frame.
Encounter: 3d8 ⇒ (6, 3, 1) = 10
Ramne leans on the strong barbarian and chats amiably with Maggie as they depart. The path you recognize as the one you were led on when the elves rescued you.
Whiskers, the badger leads you unerringly through the swamp, never seeming to lose the trail. Ramne feeds him the occasional treat as you wander slowly on the trail.
Ramne has a song he like to sing: "The ants go marching one my one hurrah, hurrah."
You cannot believe that he has made up his own verses all the way to a hundred by hundred, but he has. His singing voice is not all that nice either, but he makes up for it with determination.
Marching order is good?
When asked his name, the old man responds with the single word; 'Ramne'.
The trip back to the others is much slower as the old man leans on Maggie on the way back. As the returning group approaches, those left behind notice nothing amiss until the old man appears out of nowhere when the groups merge. He is quick to start speaking in a cracking voice:
A weasel stays on the shoulder of the old man, occasionally checking his two pockets for seed.
"Well, you are right about one thing. I don't want to wait until the cultists decide it is time for a recruiting visit. I am going to pack some things and move--maybe I'll be safer around a tough group of warriors."
The old man packs up some things and comes back with an embroidered cloak. The inside consists of three different shades of green with a clasp showing a green tree with a silver background. The outside of the cloak, however, seems to change as he moves through his cottage--blending in with the background and making him difficult to track with your eyes.
He puts out his arm:
Are you bringing the old man back? He is quite pushy. Your movement is slowed to 15' (unarmored is 30' typically).
The old man looks around and waves you inside.
"There is a cult base in the swamp. Only by decisively striking there can the cult be broken. From there, they can produce a limitless supply of thralls. When you are serious about taking out the nest, let me know, and I will show you there. I move a little slow, so it may take a while."
He looks around with a bored expression:
Opening the door is a short, octogenarian with a stoop. His face and hands seemed to be the color and texture of hardened, cracked leather. He slowly opens the door and looks out at his visitors.
Think slightly bigger and slightly younger than Yoda.
He speaks in a low voice: "You are not normal townsfolk. Maybe not even from around here. What brings you to my door?"
A weasel with thin brown fur is perched on the old man's shoulder. He looks at you with intelligent eyes.
1 bad: 1d8 ⇒ 6
Part of the group travels light to the west part of town, where the party originally entered and stayed at the Golden Grain Inn.
As the party heads north at the intersection where the Golden Grain Inn occupied the Northwest corner of the road, they feel the eyes of the entire town seem to be on them.
Moving north from the intersection about 30 feet, the path heads over a bridge over the river named the Realstream that was on the group's left as they entered town from the west over a week ago.
On the right-hand side of the road is an inn. A large colorful sign pictures a red dragon with its head resting contentedly on its paws. A plume of smoke rises from the serpent's nose and its eyes are closed. This inn is smaller and older than the Golden Grain Inn directly south. Several large flowers brighten the front, and a very large middle-aged woman cheerfully calls out, 'Well Met' and waves, interrupting the sweeping of her porch. In the back of the inn a millhouse on the lake is mostly covered by trees.
On the left, the narrow path winds among majestic elms, at times disappearing into thick shrubbery. The bushes are dense, rising to a height of eight to ten feet among stately elms that average 75 feet in height. They are widely spaced and deliberately planted to allow prolific sunlight to pour in between the ancient boughs. The path leads up to a ramshackle cottage.
To your surprise, the grove and the Slumbering Serpent Inn are only a few minutes walk from the site of your abduction, the Golden Grain Inn. There must have been a communications problem or a misunderstanding as the trip to the grove has taken less than an hour.
Okay, will move things along. We are at a pivotal decision point, so I will allow a whole day for it to be resolved. Let me know what you think so far about the pace and adventure so far. This module was ranked number 19 on the all time list--but very difficult modules are on the list. I think D&D players have a fascination with killer modules. Finish leveling and pick your spells.
Two weapon fighter build with classic fighter template is very good. Losing armor training with the massive dexterity of the build is often a poor trade many archetypes (which are not options here) provide.
The elves listen to the argument and nod. "Going in is the dwarvish way. Seeking maximum knowledge is the elven way. Both have their merits. Obviously we have been sneaking around, biding our time, and passing information to the mayor. We have only intervened when needed for your group, and Ratigan, who cried like a baby when they captured him and led him off to the swamp. We thought we were rescuing a woman or a small child when we freed him."
Ratigan turns red, obviously not wanting that story told.
I assume the clear out the temple crowd will have their way unless significant opposition is mounted to the clear out the temple plan.
The two elfs discuss things and question Cirilla about her ordeal. When she updates them, they talk together a short while and speak to the group:"We'll take care of Cirilla till this cult is destroyed. We hear there is a hermit that lives in the grove on the northwest part of town. You may want to visit him for more information. We talked to the mayor, and we think he is still untainted, but the town is more than half subverted. You will have to work knowing that cultists outnumber the regular townsfolk, and the numbers of cultists continues to increase as good people are taken to the swamp to be 'converted' at the secret base."
The elves look around. "We will continue to spy and report to the mayor, but we were right about that temple. It must be cleansed completely of evil."
Felgar adds: "There is a basement in the temple too past the hall of statues."
Where to next?
Ratigan adds: "Remember, you are a long ways from the Free City of Greyhawk. You are in the backcountry. I make my living finding things to buy and sell no one else can. My master called it 'Scrounging'."
Note: If you don't own the hardcopy core rulebook, and you like the ogc website as much as I do, CRB are the three letters you need to see to show that they are from the Core Rulebook. This works for feats, equipment, spells and more. Anything else is from another source and not available.
A reminder: the elves took you three days away to shop, and it was three days back. Ratigan seems to access to other sources, probably a black market connection in town. Now that you know people are being kidnapped from their homes, spending the week to save 20% may not be what you want to do.
The human returns with the horse the elves donated to transport the stature, his eyes alive and his body posture such that he seems unable to keep still.
"The negotiations were dicey for a while. But the cultist bad guys really liked the statue. I had to explain that the horse was trained to run away and never to return if they stiffed me when it looked like they were trying something funny."
He produces 40 gems of jade worth 100gp each and 400gp in cash as your share all in a backpack. He has managed to procure all items from the core rulebook, including magic items, but had to pay 20% extra, if you added items to his list. The remainder of the loot is in a ratio of 10:1---10 parts 100gp jade gems to 1 part gold pieces.
"Well, how did I do?"
The group eats a meager breakfast of rations augmented by Survival: 1d20 ⇒ 15 some delicious blackberries discovered by the new barbarian. Shortly after breakfast, the elven tandem discovers your camp, and announce their presence. With them is short, wiry human with a very ugly, ratlike face.
"My name is Ratigan, and I was rescued by these elves from the clutches of the cultists."
His darting eyes quickly pick out the hidden statue, and he gives it an approving stare. "Worth a pretty penny. I would sell it in this town--they appreciate this type of thing."
The elves smile when they Cirilla. "I thought you lost. What has happened to you?"
After she recounts her story, the elves nod. "You probably want to sell this and buy some supplies. Ratigan, how much would this fetch?"
He squints and adds: "Anywhere from 2000gp to 6000gp I would think. Depending on the negotiators on each side of course and finding the right buyer. Yes, finding the right buyer is sometimes the most important part of the 'Gray society of Nimblefingers'. I would hire a reputable agent down on his luck after having all his profits stolen by cultists and offer him 20% of the gross to sell this."
1 is bad for random encounter: 1d12 ⇒ 10
The three warriors drag the statue out of town rather than be seen parading through the town with it. A quiet thicket is found, and it is quickly concealed. Around the campfire the group exchanges more information, learning the story of the recent additions, a paladin and a barbarian. Or at least as much as a dwarf and barbarian are willing to share, as they can be known for their reticence.
The evening passes uneventfully as the group awakes confident in their new abilities. At the mystical time of dawn, when divine and arcane energy is refreshed in the world and old enchantments tend to fail, the spellcasters feel ready to pray and study and revel in new powers discovered. Maggie seems content to polish weapons confident that she can rage for longer intervals than before.
We are doing it semi-old school. You can level after an evening's rest.
Bizzlemont is sure the creature is called a naga and it is quite a formidable creature that is in appearance similar to a large serpent. That is the limit of his knowledge.
The statue is quite heavy (750 pounds gross weight), and will fully encumber three very strong characters, but it is quite valuable. No magic is detected in the room. The chests are searched, and turn up 12 gold 14 silver and 29 copper. Cirilli informs you they recently transferred some treasure to the main base in the swamp that included loot from some hapless guests in the inn. You also recall being marched toward that base after your abduction, but freed by elves on the road.
The trap door opens into the quarters of the female cleric in far southeast corner of the building. The trap door was unnoticed as it is quite difficult to detect when closed. The two doors in the room below lead to the hall of statues already explored and to the antechamber for the female cleric with three benches (that then leads to the very large room you had the fight with Junip and the evil female cleric).
Cirilla points to the four statues of a crocodile, two lizards, and a coiled serpent. "Abramo smashed a statue of Gozreh and converted it to these three hideous statues."
Depleted of many spells and resources, I assume leaving is a priority. Are you carrying the statue? Which characters are sharing 750# of encumbrance if so?
Maggie breaks the lock and the girl free.
"My name is Cirilli. My entire family was captured and marched through the swamp to meet the Explictica Defilus three months ago by townsfolk in the night. Explicta Defilus is the snake queen those b*stards worship. The b*tch charmed my entire family but I resisted. The wicked priest took me to be his slave girl for three months. Do not trust anyone charmed by that snake."
When referring to the snake, the girl points to the statue, which now you notice swirls hypnotically in the dim light.
"Behind that statue is a trap door to the first level. Abramo escaped through it as you bashed the door down. Do not return me to my family, they would just take me to be charmed again."
Moving the story along quickly after that epic fight. Rather than do many small combats, my adjustment for PbP is to do larger, more epic fights, as combats consume so much real time. I threw the goblins, a few zombies, and the boss together.
Note: This module is quite difficult, and the cleric was originally slated to be level 7 (what was Doug Niles thinking there). I toned him down to what I thought was a milder but reasonable level, but rolling max on a d3 summon made him much tougher as he popped out some nasty little devils.
Anyway, a well deserved level 2. My memory of this module as a player was, 'this is a nasty one'. For hp we will do HD/2+1 like the PFS.
As much as Belrain and Ama can provide.
Strang declares the door free of traps, but the door is locked and barred from the inside. Nevertheless, the barbarian and Terion manage to bash it down as Strang picks the lock.
In the secret room: This large room is dirty and unkempt with shards of rock lying around the four huge granite statues standing about the room in a haphazard arrangement. In the SE corner is a polished jade statue of a snake with a beautiful female human head that is set apart from the other statues by superior craftsmanship and material. Near it, a small cage with iron bars holds the listless figure of a beautiful young woman clothed in tattered rags. In addition, two brass bound chests sit next to the east wall.
Investigating the desk in the other room: the desk is full of insane scribblings like 'snake mother' 'the croc has many teeth' 'I had to keep a slave girl for myself' and 'the demons can stink up a room when summoned'.
Note: I am moving the action along to speed things up due to the PbP format. Feel free to discuss the healing and recovery after the sudden retreat. Also Maggie can introduce herself after a will save or five rounds whichever comes first.
After the group recovers from the fight, they cautiously push on to the priest's room through an antechamber:
In the antechamber: The walls of this chamber are scratched, stained, and covered with strange markings. Loose chips of stone lies scattered on the floor. Aside from the southeast exit, the room is empty.
After pushing SE: This room is decorated in a bizarre fashion. There is a dirty straw pallet on the floor, yet two soft and expensive armchairs rest at a low table. A beautiful robe hangs on the wall above a battered, locked chest, while the floor is strewn with muddy rags. An exquisitely crafted wooden desk has been placed near the northeast corner of the room. At various points around the walls, small iron hooks for hanging tapestries have been set into the stone.
4d20 ⇒ (2, 15, 10, 11) = 38
Maggie notices one of the tapestries is slightly moving and suspects a door behind it.
In the habit of moving things along on Monday.
Maggie tries to resist the evil magic but fails.
Her body locks up and an ethereal serpent seems to writhe around the barbarian, holding her in place.
The prone devil rises, and avoids a shot from Felgar but Terion 13 rolled hits for 1d4 + 4 - 5 ⇒ (4) + 4 - 5 = 3
The badly battered devil is clinging to the mortal plane as ichor streams from his wounds. The two devils and demon attempt to strike at the brave barbarian. devil clawsx3: 3d20 ⇒ (6, 13, 13) = 32
The demon joins in as the cleric attacks with his mace and makes his escape, laughing at the mauling about to occur.
mace/demon claws/bite: 4d20 ⇒ (19, 14, 15, 9) = 57
Maggie is clawed for 4d4 + 4 ⇒ (2, 2, 2, 1) + 4 = 11 hp piercing and bashed for another 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9 hp bludgeoning
The demonic and devilish creatures seem to fear the dwarven paladin and do not like being left behind as cannon fodder.
Party up, full attacks even from little guys can hurt. Goblin is awake but blinded.
Terion Stoutheart wrote:
Terion put a hit on one of the devils, but it seems to be resistant to his weapon. I did miss that, sorry.
The evil cleric smiles as a demon appears through a dimensional portal. He seems quite slovenly in appearance and looks at the small devils with disdain. He waves his hands and a cloud of noxious gas appears in the room affecting all but Elgoron who is in the corner. Fort save DC13 vs the cloud or become nauseated for 1d4+1 rounds. The demon then moves next to Maggie as the small devils and the evil cleric encircle her.
small devil claws: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 111d20 + 3 ⇒ (9) + 3 = 121d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 81d20 + 5 ⇒ (10) + 5 = 15
The flurry of claws completely misses the barbarian.
Upset, the evil cleric steps back and casts. He attempts to hold the barbarian helpless with a spell. Maggie feels a paralyzing magic try to hold her in place.
Hold person Will DC 15
Party is up. Fort save or be nauseated all but Maggie and Elgoron. Will save for Maggie. Odds are improving :-)