All told, it's up to your discretion, I won't fault you either way. The game still interests me, though Gemheart doesn't interest me much anymore. That's my fault, I have always had a case of new-character-itis and when it takes a long time to level up, things get stagnant and I get bored with the character. The other two have kept me interested. The NPCs are interesting, though there are too many for me to keep track of (not a condemnation of the game but rather myself).
Yea, I can understand that feeling. From my end, I don't really feel tired of the characters (one of the benefits of running the game is getting to switch characters frequently). On the other hand, I am sort fed up with the campaign itself. There are some things about the plot that I feel it is too late for me to change that I dislike. Moreover, the process of having to prep stat blocks for NPCs and maps before each combat encounter is not something I enjoy anymore. Any time I know or think a combat is about to start, I think "oh, s$~$, I have to prep another encounter." For other campaigns I'm able to get over that hurdle to get to things I enjoy more, but for some reason I'm having more trouble doing that for this game.
On its own, the game moving slowly isn't really a problem. I think for me the problem is the fact that it moves slowly, coupled with the fact that I don't really like some aspects of the game and want those aspects to be over quickly, but they won't be over quickly because nothing in this game is quick.
Jan Carpenter wrote:
I also like my character overall, though it sounds like basically there will not be any development of him and the adventure is designed to be completed by characters at our level. That's too bad.
Shortly after this game began, I considered where it could go after Karavakos was defeated. The Pyramid was designed and created by a pit fiend, for a specific purpose, to advance her own adjenda in the Nine Hells. Were the PCs to destroy the Pyramid and/or Karavakos, it would create a fallout in an ongoing infernal conflict. I also considered how I wanted to bring the family of Vyrellis and Karavakos into a sequel adventure.
Were we playing this as a face-to-face game with a much faster pace, I may well have wanted to continue the story past the Pyramid of Shadows. However, I decided about a year in that, given how long it would take to complete even this "short" adventure, doing a sequel properly was well outside the scope of what I felt comfortable doing as a pbp.
I want to express my frustration with this game.
I'm still getting some enjoyment out of posting updates and seeing how you three react. However, I've been getting much less enjoyment out of the prep work that I have to do. I'm also working more than full-time, which wasn't the case in 2014 or even in 2016, and there are other things I do for fun besides gaming. It's been quite awhile since I felt I was actually doing a good job running this game, largely due to these factors.
As you can probably tell, we are fairly close to the end of the campaign. You "only" need to find the last splinter of Vyrellis, beat the last splinter of Karavakos, and then defeat the original Karavakos. Due to the fact that we seem close to the end, I am very tempted to continue running this game as I have been, with all the delays. However, I feel like I would be stringing you along. And, given the slow pace of this game, the small amount of content remaining may well take a year of real time.
I've thought of taking a break and coming back to this campaign later. We could, for example, put the game on hold for four months, and come back after that. However, I don't think that that is a good idea. I expect to be even more busy next year than I am now. I don't mind that, since I like being busy, but it does mean that this game is unlikly ever to recieve the attention it needs from me.
So that's where I am. That's what I think about this game more than four years after starting The Pyramid of Shadows.
The dragonborn leads you north into another chamber. A tall, muscular blue dragonborn greets you.
"Hello. I recognize one of you, but not the other two. I am Gharash Vren, the leader of this group. We have been trapped in the Pyramid since we were pulled in from Sigil."
"Did you get the Tome of Vecna's Breath?"
Reminder: Way before Jan or Krezen joined the group, the dragonborn fought and took hostage a group of harpies who were allied with the original PCs. Garash offered to release them if the PCs brought him the "Tome of Vecna's Breath" from the Library of Whispers (where a splinter of Karavakos was). He also sent Hozela to help the PCs get it. Garash Vren at the time didn't say anything about where a splinter of Vyrellis was. A few real-life years later, after Jan and Krezen joined the game, you did find a book that might be the Tome of Vecna's Breath in the library of whispers, after defeating the splinter of Karavakos.
The NPCs aren't really strong enough to be very helpful in combat, so if that's all you'd want to bring them for you could probably just leave them behind.
You make your way back to the first floor, and head towards the dragonborns' area.
Before too long you reach a chamber which is guarded by a tall, slim, and armored dragonborn.
"Halt! Who are you and why are you here? Oh, it's you. You're the ones with whom Hozela left. Have you come back to tell my leader what you encountered in the Library of Whispers?"
Do you want to bring any of your NPC followers with you? In particular, you could bring Hozela, who originally belonged to the group of dragonborn into whose territory you are about to go. She's only a level 5 non-gestalt character, though, so she wouldn't be all that helpful in a fight.
Hathnor: An arborean fighter who is on less-than-friendly terms with the arborean leader (and everyone else in the Pyramid seems to be on unfriendly terms with the arboreans).
The three allies you just aquired: Harumon, the eladrin Ilyana and her brother Venali.
And three of the former PCs: Yessai, Mundarion, and De'Arv'Ki.
"I could not tell before, but I believe I can sense where my final splinter resides. It is in the northeast of the first floor, near the dragonborn that Hozela came with. I do not know why it is there or what might be guarding it."
There was an eladrin who lived in Thoraska's territory who asked you to help her brother, who was petrified. It was two years ago so it's understandable that you forgot.
And sorry for the delay, y'all. I got distracted by work. I'm going to try to speed things along with this update.
You lead Harumon back to the Blizzard Caverns. When you get there, the snow eladrin greets you.
"Oh! You have returned."
When the halfling nods, Ilyana leads you deeper into the cave, to the chamber where Thoraska herself resides.
Harumon approaches the statue and chants an incantation. At once, the marble turns to skin, and Venali is restored.
"I have not much to give," Ilyana says, "But you may have this belt. It was passed down from my grandparent, and it will make you stronger and more resilient."
Suddenly, from behind the eladrin, a deep rumble echoes through the cavern, and the dragon herself speaks.
"Now that that has been settled, I have something else that I think you want."
Thoraska holds a black gem between her front toes.
"This gem contains a piece of Vyrellis' life energy. One of my fey found it in the Library of Whispers."
Ilyana turns towards you, and asks
If you take then gem, a spark of energy arcs out of it and into the Head of Vyrellis.
"Thank you, all of you,"
From now on, whoever is holding the Head of Vyrellis gains the following benefits:
You make your way back to Harumon. I'll assume you also stop to rest at your base along the way.
When you arrive, the place seems mostly deserted: Harumon seems to be the only one there.
"Did--did you get it?"
If you hold out the orb, the fire arcs out of it and into Harumon, who seems to grow taller as his torso is surrounded by flames.
"A situation has arisen since I last spoke with you. My leader, the Otyugh Empress, has vanished. She said something about preventing Karavakos from leaving the Pyramid alive, and left. I do not know where she is, but I fear the worst may have happened to her."
"In any case, I agreed to aid you and now I will. Where is this person who you wish to have relieved of petrification?"
Jan Carpenter wrote:
Thoraska probably would. Some other faction leaders might (the arborean leader, maybe the dragonborn leader Garash Vren). It's obviously harder to trade/spend than if you could just go to a city, though.
Jan finds, upon searching:
--A quarterstaff with infernal carvings on the side
This is a +2 shock quarterstaff[/url]
--A bardiche with infernal carvings on the handle
And some art objects worth a total of 4382 gold pieces.
Is the site finally working again?
Krezen strikes at Tala twice, causing her to howl in pain both times.
Gemheart also strikes at Tala. The yuan-ti abomination collapses to the floor, briefly shrieking before she becomes silent. Tala's breathing then ceases.
At the same time that Tala dies, the wall of force that was blocking the door you came in dissolves.
Combat over! That was fast.
The orb Harumon gave you begins to shake. See here if you forgot what the orb is for. A moment later, a jet of fire arcs out of Tala's dead eyes and into the orb. While it still appears gray, a swirl of fire is visible inside the orb.
Yes, the shadow has reach.
Krezen uses Mirror Image, and Gemheart steps back.
With Gemheart out of the way, Jan charges forwards and attacks, giving the shadow a chance to attack him:
Jan misses, though.
The two statues continue spraying mist. This time, anyone within 10 feet of either statue takes 2 poison damage per statue you are near.
The creature you are fighting steps back and cackles.
"Now, now it is time for you to die!"
With a snap of the fingers, the creature begins to transform into a large serpent, though she retains bulky humanoid arms. She is a Yuan-Ti Abomination!
Gemheart grows large as well.
The map has been updated. Back to Jan, Krezen, and Gemheart.
Gemheart charges up to the creature and strikes, but finds his attack is resisted by your foe's sturdy body.
Suddenly, the eyes of the two tiefling statues begin to glow, and a thick green mist starts to come out of their mouths. At the same time, a black wall of force springs up right in front of the door, trapping you in.
Knowledge (Arcana) 16:
The wall of force can probably be destroyed by attacking it a lot. Moreover, if you spend one full round studying it with your arcane skills, you might be able to find a weak point that would make destroying it much easier.
The "shadow," meanwhile, pulls out a sword and starts swinging it at Gemheart:
1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16
Map updated,, back to Jan's turn.
The Head of Vyrellis whispers to you
"The Shadow" scoffs at Krezen's remarks:
Jan initiative: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Shadow initiative: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
If you are going to stay and fight, please specify where on the map you are standing.
You make your way north back through the maze. As the Shadow promised, the shadows do not attack you on the way. Before long you make it back to the door heading east. [ooc]AM7-AM10 on the map of the third floor.
The chamber before you is a well-appointed study, with two lit candle holders, a pair of finely crafted statues of elegantly clad tieflings, and a table piled high with books.
Right in front of the table in the southeast corner stands the Shadow of Karavakos, again!
"What are you foolsssss doing in my lair?"
A faint hissing noise is coming from the statues in the west corners of the room. The mouths of the statues are cracked and may allow something to come out.
Sense Motives 20:
"The Shadow" in front of you is not who they appear to be.
Reminder: You originally came to see the Shadow because Harumon, the half-fire-elemental halfling, asked you to help restore him after his fire was sucked out of him by the shapeshifter Tala, and you needed to kill Tala to get it back. Harumon said that Tala has recently allied herself with The Shadow.
Krezen can't tell any lies in the Shadow's words, but he can sense that the Shadow has some sort of ulterior motive. You can't tell what it is, though.
"I do not know exactly what would draw him out,"
"But, I would caution thee not to try anything as foolish as letting demons into the Pyramid. It would probably hurt you far more than Karavakos. My brother may be easier to tempt out of his lair now than he was 100 years ago, for he is stronger now that you have destroyed two of the splinters."
Acknowledging Gemheart's weakened condition, the Shadow pulls out a scroll.
Jan is unable to detect any hint of dishonesty in The Shadow's voice.
As you speak, the Head of Vyrellis emits a piercing sob.
"Yes, he doth speak truth,"
The Shadow's eyes widen, and then the voice of the shadow speaks:
"There is another way,"
The shadow replies,
"While you or I cannot open the door to the Sanctuary of Light without obtaining the three keys, Karavakos himself can. He has the ability to leave his lair and move elsewhere in the Pyramid. If you can find a way to lure Karavakos to come to you, then you could fight him without destroying his remaining Splinter. As you have already destroyed two Splinters, Karavakos has regained a majority of his full power, but not all of it. The fact that he is close to full power may make him overconfident, and may allow you to more easily tempt him to leave is stronghold. Unfortunately, I do not know exactly what you could do to persuade Karavakos to leave the Sanctuary of Light while he is still weakened, but I know it is possible."
Since none of you speak out immediately, the Shadow continues
"I speak, of course, of Vyrellis Isigonin, the eladrin whose head you carry. She ought to have died centuries ago, but, due to the meddling of her brother, she remains here, in the Pyramid. Did you not find it suspicious that both Karavakos and his supposed enemy, Vyrellis, were encouraging you to destroy the Splinters? "
"Yes, indeed. You seek to reach Karavakos in the Sactuary of Light, by obtaining the three keys needed to open the door. But each time you destroy a Splinter to take its key, you empower Karavakos."
The shadow's eyes narrow,
The Shadow materializes in the chamber above you. He stands 15 feet off the ground, looking down. The face of the Shadow resembles that of Karavakos, but he glimmers and twitches like a gray shadow. The Shadow is also smaller than Karavakos, standing barely three feet tall.
"I want your assurance that you will use any information I give you to destroy the original Karavakos, and that you will not empower him any further than you have already done."
If the map is correct, B1 could make an AoO at Gemheart, but not at Jan since Jan has cover from B1.
Thanks, you're right about that.
B1's reflex save: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
The bat is blinded, and the three of you escape down the corridor!
Okay, the combat is over.
The dimly lit corridor streches for 50 feet to the south. The walls are carved with decorative abstract patterns, and closer inspection reveals that the walls are actually made of dark, brown diamonds. And the end, the corridor opens up into a small chamber.
To your right is a closed door. Ahead of you, in a chamber at the end of the corridor, dark blue curtain hangs from the ceiling. The image of a spired castle is woven into the cloth with silver thread. To the left of the curtained area stands a black stone surrounding by four pillars.
From the chamber, a voice echoes into your ears. The voice sounds somewhat like Karavakos, but the tiefling's cackles are replaced by hissing.
"So you have arrived in my home. I see that you have met my guards, who may have roughed you up a little bit, but let me make clear that I have no intentionsss of fighting you."
The Shadow's voice seems to be coming from every direction in the chamber, except the hall you just came through.
"You, like myself, stand opposed to the one whose form I take. Though I cannot strike him directly, I know sssecrets that Karavakos holds in his heart. Knowledge you can use against him."
The voice then goes silent, awaiting a reply.
Jan tries to blind the second bat:
Gemheart also makes it to the door, although his attack flies flat into the floor without touching the bat at all.
Krezen darts past both bats, eating an attack of opportunity from the one who can still see:
The first bat follows and strikes at Jan again:
The second bat also tries to bite Jan, despite being blind:
The map has been updated. Unless you want to stay and try to destroy the shadows, you can all make it into the corridor, though B1 will get one AoO off.