Deranged_Maniac_Ben's page

2,416 posts. Alias of 137ben.


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I marked this campaign as inactive. Thanks for keeping this game going for more than four years.

Tenro wrote:
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.

Krezen wrote:

I guess it is a fair analysis of the game DMB and Tenro - ever since I started, the pace was never amazing - sometimes the players would not post, sometimes the GM would not post - all put together it makes for a game that instead of being slow, drags itself along...

And people tend to get detached from games like that I think - I think this is what happened here. Even if the interest is not lost, the enthusiasm is...

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.

"Yes, indeed."
Garash Vren smiles,
"That is the book I wanted. I shall have your harpy friends released at once. Now, is there any other reason you wished to speak to me?"

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.
"I believe my final splinter is in the eastern-most chamber of Garash Vren's territory,"
Vyrellis explains as you go.

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.
As a reminder, the other NPC followers you have are:
Sorjla: a grig cleric loyal to Thorsaska, who is aiding you because Thoraska told her to.

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.

Vyrellis responds,
"If you are able to recover the last piece of my spirit, I think I could hold on to this semblence of life for a little bit longer. At least long enough to help you defeat my brother. "

"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."


So, where are you all going next?

Jan wrote:
1. Do you need to actually hold the head in your hand to use it, or is carrying it enough?

You do not need to hold it in your hand.

Jan wrote:
2. What is Vyrellis' caster level for greater invisibility?


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."
Turning to Harumon, she asks
"My name is Ilyana. Are you one who can reverse petrification?"

When the halfling nods, Ilyana leads you deeper into the cave, to the chamber where Thoraska herself resides.

Ilyana pulls a marble statue out from behind a pile of silver. The statue resembles a short, slim eladrin.
"This is my brother, Venali. Can you help him?"

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."
She holds out a Belt of Physical Might which grants +2 to strength and constitution.

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
"Can you understand? Lady Thoraska believes you should have that gem because it contains some part of someone named Vyrellis. I don't know who that is."

If you take then gem, a spark of energy arcs out of it and into the Head of Vyrellis.

"Thank you, all of you,"
Vyrellis says,
"Now there is just one splinter of my life remaining in the Pyramid. Once I have that, I will be able to move on to the afterlife. Also, as I am stronger now, I will be able to help you more."

From now on, whoever is holding the Head of Vyrellis gains the following benefits:
--You gain a +4 on Knowledge (Arcana, History, or Religion) and can make these checks untrained.
--Once every five minutes, you can teleport up to 35 feet as a move action which functions as a (Su) ability
--You gain a +2 to Will saves
--Once per day, you may cast Greater Invisibility as a spell-like ability.
You do not need to be holding the Head of Vyrellis in your hands or in any particular slot, you just need to be carrying her in some capacity.

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?"

Okay then. Where are y'all off to next?

There's a bardiche that I accidentally put inside the spoiler box for the quarterstaff by messing up the spoiler tags.

Jan Carpenter wrote:

Is there anyone in the pyramid we have met who would give us anything useful for this?

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

spellcraft, 23:
This is a +2 shock quarterstaff[/url]

--A bardiche with infernal carvings on the handle
[spoiler=spellcraft, 22]This is a +1 Tiefling-Bane Bardiche

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.

Jan? Krezen? I know the website's been spotty so it's okay that you've been delayed posting.

Whoops! My family took up a lot more time than I expected, and I was bogged down by one thing after another. I think things should be back to normal now.

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:
Shadow's AoO: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (19) + 15 = 34
crit confirmation: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (16) + 15 = 31
2d8 + 12 ⇒ (8, 6) + 12 = 26

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.
So, Krezen takes 2 poison damage for being within 10 feet of the north statue. No one else takes any poison damage this round.

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.

My family is coming into town tomorrow, so I am going to be slower at posting for the next week or so.

Since Jan is holding, it is now Krezen's turn, then Gemheart's.

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 + 15 ⇒ (9) + 15 = 24
1d8 + 6 ⇒ (1) + 6 = 7

1d20 + 10 ⇒ (6) + 10 = 16

Map updated,, back to Jan's turn.

The purple is a curtain. It blocks line of sight, but not movement.

Gemheart's turn.

Oops, sorry, I forgot to answer that. No, Shillelagh would not still be running.

Jan reenchants his weapon.
Krezen's turn.

Initiative order:

Here's a map of just this chamber.

Jan's turn.

The Head of Vyrellis whispers to you
"If you couldn't tell, this isn't The Shadow that you met a few minutes ago. This is a shapeshifter masquerading as The Shadow."

"The Shadow" scoffs at Krezen's remarks:
"HER last chance? No, I think it is YOUR last chance."
and prepares to attack.

Jan initiative: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Krezen initiative: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Gemheart initiative: 1d20 ⇒ 18

Shadow initiative: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
Trap initiative: 1d20 ⇒ 17

If you are going to stay and fight, please specify where on the map you are standing.

"Do not play dumb with me. You know the Splinters have their own personas, for you already met at least one of them. He went by the name Arat Karavakos, did he not?"

The Shadow's voice seems to raise in irritation.

"Now, I will ask you one more time only: leave my lair or I shall destroy you!"

"Pffft, I am not a Splinter, I am The Shadow of Karavakos. The only splinter left is Kravik the necromancer, and he is on the west side of this floor. Now, I must ask you to leave my home, or I will destroy you."

Jan or sense motives 20:
This person is still lying about being The Shadow.

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?"
The Shadow hisses.

Perception, 21:
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.

"Yes, I know Tala,"
the Shadow responds.
"She has recently started calling herself my ally, but I know that she intends to betray me soon. You may find her by travelling back through my maze and heading east. "

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.

"Well then,"
The Shadow interrupts your discussion,
"Before you leave my chambers, is there anything else you seek from me?"

"No, there is no existing portal to the Abyss, he aimed to create a new portal."
Vyrellis answers Jan.

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,"
the Head of Vyrellis answers Krezen.
"The last time he left the Sanctuary of Light, there was someone who, well, he tried to open a portal to the Abyss. Such a portal would not have allowed anyone to leave the Pyramid, but it would have let a horde of demons enter from the Abyss. Maybe Karavakos was afraid that too many strong demons would destabilize this demiplane. Or, mayhaps he simply hates fiends due to being trapped here by a pit fiend. Whatever his reason, he left the safety of the Sanctuary of Light and killed the man who sought to open the portal."

"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.
"I can restore your lost strength, and I can guarantee that my shadows will not harm you as you leave."
With an incantation, Gemheart's weakness fades.

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,"
Vyrellis struggles to speak between her tears.
"Karavakos is my younger brother. And to answer thy questions, young Jan, we were both adopted. And yes, he is my enemy, he killed me 300 years ago."

The Shadow's eyes widen, and then the voice of the shadow speaks:
"Ah, so there is a bit of truthfulness in Vyrellis yet. Now, to your own question, the spell used by the Pyramid's creator to split Karavakos' power into fragments prevents him from directly attacking any of his Splinters, or me. Likewise, it prevents me from attacking Karavakos."

"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."

Okay, thank you for the heads up!

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? "

Psst, players?

"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,
"That is the course of action that Karavakos wishes for you to take. It is also, no doubt, what you have been encouraged to do by Karavakos' sister, whom you have unwittingly been carrying with you for your entire journey!"

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."

Jan wrote:
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:
B2's reflex: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (2) + 7 = 9
the bat is blinded, and Jan makes it to the door.

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:
B1 AoO (Touch): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (3) + 8 = 11

The first bat follows and strikes at Jan again:
B1's touch attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13

The second bat also tries to bite Jan, despite being blind:
B2's touch attack: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
miss chance (51-100 is a miss): 1d100 ⇒ 31
strength damage: 1d6 ⇒ 3

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.

It's a new page, so I am reposting the initiative order:
Bat 2--9
Bat 1--8

Still Gemheart's turn.

If you are attacking the shadow, please roll for your attack.

Orange is a door. Although, the door can be opened just by pushing (it isn't latched), so you should be able to just move through it.

Okay, thanks for the heads up!

Map updated, Gemheart, Krezen, then Jan.

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