Jack carefully peers at the stone slab, running his hands around the rim of the carvings and the covering stone. Not finding a mechanism, he carefully pushes at the cover-stone and, finding that it moves easily he begins pushing it sideways...
As the rock slab slides to the side you can see the light sparkle off silver, a dark coloured cloak and dark-red gems surrounding a naked corpse with dry drawn skin over its skeleton. However, as the lid opens wide, a sudden puff of smoke jets from within the sarcophagus, enveloping the room and filling your nose with a strange, acrid smell.
ALL Will Save DC 14
If you passed:
Colours seem to shift and dance in front of your eyes and the masks of your companions and the motionless guardians seem momentarily identical, your companions seeming to take on the appearance of the undead soldiers. Coughing, you manage to still your mind and shake off the strange effect. (no effect)
If you failed:
Colours seem to shift and dance in front of your eyes and the world seems to shift uncomfortably as each sound tears at your ears, seeming to morph into screeches which climb the scale into inaudible terror.
For a moment you can't remember where you are or why. You are simply surrounded by death, In the centre of terrifyingly emaciated undead creatures which seem a mix of man and bird. Two stand in the centre of the room motionless, three others crouch near you making screeching noises, their forms impossibly shifting from man to bird to skeleton.
Treat other party members as enemies the same as the unmoving soldiers but agressive.
You move carefully into the room, skirting around the edge to keep your distance fron the cadavorous figures. As you approach the first of the platforms, it becomes clear that the mounds on top of them are not corpses, but are instead intricately carved statues of naked dead elves of mixed sexes. The statues lie in the fetal position and are amazingly life-like, seeming almost as if an elf has merely fallen asleep on the stone.
As Jack nears the first platform he squats down, examining the top of the stone where a series of elven letters are carved into the stone. Looking up, he announces that there is a hair-line crack around its rim. The top is a seperate slab of stone.
The writing spells out a poem calling on The Raven to protect and guide the dead in their journey to "new life" and The Doe to bring them safely back into the world through birth.
Xerafine: The auras are coming from within the stone platform. You wont be able to identify their sources without opening them.
Finnabar conecentrates hard and lets his eyes lose focus, slowly bringing the auras magic present in the area into focus.
Five of the 11 platforms have a glow of magic about them, but whatever the mounds are on the table blocks your sight and you can't identify the school of magic or see the items themselves.
The six head-sized bird skulls shimmer with a faint aura. When Finnabar examines them closely he finds that each has a leather hood and a strap of leather attached below - possibly so that each can be worn as a helmet. After a minute or so, he looks up...
Each of the helmets has been enchanted with Hide from Undead, however, the effect is restricted to the adjoining room.
Going to assume Jack's actions might be different after Finnabar's discovery.
The skulls in the niches are larger than those of the birdlings and, now that you examine them closely, have a hood of leather attached at their base. The figures do not move in response to Jack's words - and remain motionless in the centre of the room.
Xerafine and Finn religion checks:
The motionless figures most closely resemble wights - but the bird-skull heads are suggest something subtly differnt - you are not sure what.
Knowledge (nature) DC 15:
The skulls in the niches and the heads of the motionless figures resemble those of crows or ravens.
Knowledge (religion) DC 16 if previous spoiler is revealed by anyone:
Ravens were, in the distant past, and in some druidic mythologies considered to be guides and guards of the dead.
You move around the room, placing the items in the strange statue's arms. As the last item is placed, the stone slab blocking the archway leading further into the mound slowely grinds open, releasing a shower of dust as it rises.
Behind the arch is revealed a smaller 10ft. long by 5ft. wide passage with three niches in each wall. Each of the niches holds what looks like a large (head-sized) bird skull. Beyond the small passage the area opens up into a larger dark space. On approaching closer you can see that the space is a circular room about 30ft. across.
Around the perimeter of the room are 11 platforms each of which has a man-sized shape lying down on it. In the centre of the room stand two motionless emaciated humanoid forms, their dry,gery skin drawn tightly over their skeleal forms. Each of the figures appears to have the head of a skeletal bird, and each holds a large two-handed curved sword.
As the last item is removed from its statue a huge stone door, matching the one blocking your progress forwards, slides down, blocking the arch leading back to the surface and sealing you in the corridor. Seeing nothing else to do Bein places the shield and the hammer in the arms of the Bull-headed and the Bear-headed statues respectively.
Which items are you placing in which statues arms?
INT or Knowledge (arcana) DC 15:
As you ponder the strange carvings and their possible uses a thought occurs,... The heads of the statues each conform to one of six ancient spells: Cat's Grace, Owl's Wisdom, Eagle's Splendor, Fox's Cunning, Bear's Endurance and Bull's Strength. These are amongst the oldest known spells - their names recorded in the earliest lists, and the animals depicted are ancient symbols for these traits of man, dwarf... and elf.
You know that many of the restless dead have evil auras which can be detected by those with the power to detect them. These creatures are generally able to see well even in the absense of light, they are immune to mind-effecting spells, and do not generally suffer from fear. They are said to stalk the tombs of the dead in some lands although many scholars doubt their existance. Nothing you have so far seen would suggest any particular type of undead, however the poem you recalled at the entrance did speak of "...Therein did fey-blood, helmeted,Scream their fey-blood cry. What thaose words might indicate, you do not know.
Jack Ciarathan wrote:
Can Jack read elven? As a half-elf he technically gets elven as a free language but I'm not sure how that works in a world where the elves are fairly isolated.
Whilst the elves are isolated, you have managed to pick up considerably more elvish than usual - including basic numbers.
the numbers read, moving from the center of the spiral outward as: 1,2,3,5,8,13 The spiral itself looks like THIS
Finnabar can attempt the spellcraft check too, and senses the vile and unnatural presence of two moderately evil auras from beyond the door.
Spellcraft DC 16, Finn only:
The auras are necromantic.
You begin to work your way down the roughly-hewn steps, into the huge burial mound. The walls of the passage are dry and no roots protrude through the stone walls. After descending about 20 ft. the steps level out into a passage that passes through a stone archway and then widens into a 10x35 ft. passageway.
At the far end another arch surrounds a doorway blocked by a solid wall of stone. Along each side of the passage, and recessed into its walls at 5 ft intervals, are 3 sinuously carved statues, each about 5ft high. The statues depict humanoids except that each statue has the head of a different animal and cradles a different object which is not connected to the statue itself.
Along the left hand side the first has the head of an eagle and holds an ivory shortbow, the second has the head of a fox and holds an iron hammer, and the third has the head of an owl and cradles a hide shield. Along the right-hand wall the first has the head of an bear and holds a heart sculpted from wood, the second has the head of a cat and holds a golden mirror, and the third has the head of a bull and carries a clay tablet depicting an expanding spiral with numbers in elvish.
Sorry for the long delay,.. I know that its getting frustrating! Unexpected issues at work have kept me from posting as often as i'd like.
In the future (if its OK with everyone) I'll assume some actions from PCs to speed things on a bit - which you're more than welcom to retcon if you feel you'd do something different. - I won't put you in any danger though.,... promise.
Xarafine scrutinizes the cave again, looking for something she may have missed the previous day. As she searches, she hums to herself, then begins singing the song of the buried dead, hoping the music will inspire her mind to find answers to her questions.
As the rain falls heavily outside, showing no sign of relenting, Xarafine searches the small enclosed space. Her humming fills the small space with warmth. As she draws closer to one of the benches, her melody skips and she draws in a small breath, noticing an irregularity in the platform: A small crack running around its rim seems to draw in smoke from the fire in a way that suggests that, just maybe, an empty space is behind.
Motioning to the rest of you, she begins to pull at the slab, hoping to shift it and, with some help, finds that the slab begins to move. Moments later, with a heavy crash, the slab falls to the floor, revealing steps leading down into darkness...
To clarify further, travel may well be dangerous during the storm - you certainly wouldn't want to sleep out in it! Rivers may well be flooded, sight will be limited, horses may scare. Travel NOT recommended!
25th of Pharast
Survival DC 15:
The bad weather is likely to continue for at least the next 24 hours
Survival DC 20:
The bad weather is likely to continue for at least the next 48 hours
Survival DC 25:
The bad weather is likely to continue for at least the next 48 hours. But should clear after that.
Survival DC 30:
The bad weather is likely to continue for at least the next 48 hours. But should clear after that. More bouts of bad weather are likely in the next weeks.
Despite being able to draw upon a great number of hints from old tales and legends, Xerafine can't place any details about the elves that seem to recall the burial chamber - that is until, remembering a scrap of an obscure ancient saga - Usually titled "Branfel" - In one of the many stories there is mention of:
Within the hills of fey-blood dead,
Branfel mighty, but with dread,
The saga goes on to relate a fight of some sort between Branfel and the "Fey-blood dead" - within, however he finds his mighty spear - "Theral", with which he goes on to mighty battles, defeating dragons, centaurs and other mythical creatures.
Jack and Bein make there way into the dank entrance of the cave. Inside is dark and musty. Loose soil flakes off the narrow walls as they pass through a narrow passage from which occasional roughly cut stones protrude. After 15 feet lie the remains of a rough stone wall which previously blocked the passage - from the rubble it looks as if the wall was demolished at least a few months, if not years ago.
Jack pushes a few of the rocks through to clear a wider entrance revealing a round chamber 24 foot in diameter. The chamber has a series of platforms carved into the wall - each about 2 feet from the floor and 6 feet long. The chamber is littered with ancient bones and scraps of white cloth amongst refuse piles which reek of guano, mold and rotting meat.
The chamber has no entrances and doesn't seem to contain any creatures.
24th of Pharast
You camp for the night and then head back towards the river obelisk the next day. The sky is cloudy and threatens coming rain. You pass through the shadow of the towering rock as a light but persistent shower begins, accompanied by a cold wind from the north which whips around your horses legs and seems to find its way through every seem of your clothes.
As dusk approaches you come to the vacated cave the birdlings stayed in for the night.
Are you planning to stay in/search the cave?
23rd of Pharast
The grisly work of burying the birdlings complete, you set off to return to their cave. The journey is uneventful and, late the next day, you arrive back at the cave entrance. You prepare yourselves to enter and slowly work your way into the cavern system, hunching your way through the tight passageways until finally it is clear that no birdlings remain within. - It seems that it has been abandoned and stripped of almost all its contents. - All that is left is decaying piles of rags, old, crude wooden furniture and piles of mixed compost, old bones and dung.
It looks like the birdlings were killed within the last half-hour and the tracks are easy for Jack to read. It appears that the birdlings were ambushed by a group of Kalds at least 20 strong, and including a magic-user of some sort. The Kalds were lying in wait as if they were expecting the birdlings to travel this way. The Kalds' tracks indicate that they both came from,, and left towards the south.
Once you've drawn closer it's clear that the bodies have been seriously defiled. Several of the birdlings were decapitated after they were dead and more than one shows evidence of torture - probably whilst wounded - one appears to have had a leg hacked off whilst it was still living and weaponless.
Jack leaves the party and continues forward on foot with everyone else following at a distance (it's still a 1/2 hour ride so I'm assuming you're staying close!) after about half an hour of slowly moving forward following the birdlimg's tracks, Jack reaches the crest of a ridge and signals everyone else to stop. After a moment of scanning the area he waves the rest of you forward. When you crest the ridge you are confronted by the sight of 10 bridling corpses hacked into pieces lying in a small stream which winds between the strange mounds, staining the stream red with blood.
You continue onwards through the mounded landscape which seems to stretch to the east as far as you can see. The mounds vary from only a few meters across to over a hundred meters, and the birdsong tracks wind through them. After 2 1/2 hours. Jack stops the party, indicating that you're getting close. You should catch them in about 1/2 an hour....
what's the plan to approach? Scouting forwards? Just moving at full pace? Etc..?
Jack Ciarathan wrote:
You saddle up and, once again, begin moving to the South-Southwest. (assuming that they stopped at daybreak you should reach them in 5 about hours, based on your relative speed.)
After 2 hours of travel, Jack spies several horse-tracks crossing over the birdling's tracks from the West towards the Southeast (towards hex 31). The tracks were made by about 7 horses and were made some time before daybreak - about 4:00am. One of the horses appears to have been being lead by the rider of another.
22nd of Pharast
The night passes uneventfully, however, when morning comes, newly formed tracks leading further to the West-Southwest. Clearly the birdlings managed to move out without being noticed. On close examination, Jack announces that the tracks are approximately 8 hours old. - The birdlings probably left soon after sunset.
You manage to find a position in the lee of one of the mounds where it angles inwards in a kind of large trench. The position is shielded from the wind and several large rectangular rocks provide a good position from where the cave can be observed. The night closes in and, without a fire, is cold and uncomfortable.
Bein: Roll perception
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (16) + 10 = 26
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (4) + 10 = 14
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (15) + 10 = 25
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (9) + 10 = 19
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30
You continue further on between the mounds, following the birdlings' tracks as best you can in the half-light. Fortunately, Jack's keen eyes are able to locate the signs of their passing even as the sun passes below the ridge of the mound above you. After only a few hundred yards the tracks veer towards one of the mounds, climbing up its edge.
perception DC 17:
The tracks seem to lead to a small entrance half way up the mound.
You follow the tracks to the west, occasionally having to stop to check that you're following the right route. As you head west, the land slopes gradually downwards and you enter a region of strange artificial-seeming rounded mounds. As night falls you find a small stream which runs quick and clean in the lee of a strange black-stone obelisk which towers over 30 ft above the ground, sitting in the center of the stream itself which winds southward between the strange mounds.
After carefully burying the birdling's small body you pack up the camp and begin traveling back to the cave complex in the hot day. Night comes before you make it back to the tree and you set camp. The darkness passes uneventfully and the next day (The 21st of Pharast) dawns even hotter than the day before, and you break camp early to avoid the heat of the mid-day sun.
Eventually the tree comes into view in the distance and you make your way carefully towards it. As you approach the entrance it is clear that there are a number of tracks around the entrance....
Survival DC 15:
The tracks appear to mostly be heading away from the cave towards the west, they are smaller than a human but might be either Birdlings or Kalds
Survival DC 18:
The tracks appear to mostly be heading away from the cave towards the west, they were left by at least seven birdlings.
Thanks very much guys,... I think my Archetype was not as good as any of those that got through to the 16 so I'm not too disappointed... Well maybe a bit.
Strangely, I think my monster (which is mostly complete) was easier to do - Archetypes are HARD! - balance issues are very hard to calculate across all 20 levels + multiclassing etc. Still, I learned heaps working through the comp. and the feedback was awesome. - I think I now know a bit more about what type of thing's likely to get past the public vote and hopefully i'll do something good for next year's competition.
The game'll restart ASAP....
Thanks to everyone who voted for my Skipping Stone in round 1. And especially thanks to those who provided feedback in this thread. Its been very helpful and will hopefully increase my chances next round and (eventually) next year.
Contestants are advised not to comment on archetypes whilst voting is happening so I won't be posting here until its all done. Feel free to leave comments or questions and I'll try to get to them as soon as possible.