NobodysHome Presents: Trig's Journal: A Trip Through Shiro's AP

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So everybody other than Forth is running on all cylinders at this point?

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

So everybody other than Forth is running on all cylinders at this point?

As far as I can recall, yes. Trig was down a level for a week, but the trial and so forth took about that long so by the time we left town she was back to full.

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And I think the trial was my single-favorite Trig-defining moment: In spite of having something around a +14 Diplomacy at that point (I'd taken both the rogue talent Charmer and Skill Focus: Diplomacy so it was really high for our level), my two rolls were a 3 and a 4 so I was utterly unimpressive to the judges, and I was racking my brain for a reason for the poor rolls...
...then the accuser devil showed up and Shiro delightedly started regaling all the times I'd encouraged Forth to break the law, or told Llew the law was stupid, or whatnot.

And I had Trig just sitting there saying, "Yep! Yes, that's me! Oh, that is SO true! I had no idea I was so smart! Yeah, this is great!"

Had the table in stitches.

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Session 19, Played 15-Jul-2018

So, believe it or not, sometimes even Asmodeans can get things right. Once the verdict came out and the Jeggares were all sentenced to death, the temple started givin' out free booze to have a HUGE party in the square. 'Course, I didn't imbibe, 'cause I know what Asmodeus is like: "Here, have some free booze! Oh, are you good and drunk now? Why don't you go ahead and light that sketchy-looking park bench on fire? Aha! Vandalism! That'll be 200 gold and a public flogging!"
Yeah, Asmodeans know how to kill any party.

Seein' that the town was kind o' crazy, Alembic invited us to stay at his place for the night, if we wanted to. So maybe he's warmin' up to us, or maybe he had some nefarious scheme in his head, but we all wanted to at least check and see whether the Jeggares had skedaddled, so we declined so we could go check out Jeggare Manor instead. And what do you know? There's a guard standin' there, at his post, like there's not a care in the world 'bout the family he's workin' for! So we went up and Llew asked all diplomatic-like to see the master o' the house, and the guard didn't want to do anythin', but he didn't want to get in trouble either, so he did his duty and went in and told the master. And we got invited in!

Trouble was, it was Callum, and we weren't s'posed to kill him, at least as far as I could figure out. The law is hard! No wonder Lawful people are always so cranky all the time! So he invited us all in, and he was all cheerful 'cause apparently killin' off the rest o' his family put him in charge, and he cared more 'bout that than 'bout the impending deaths of all his relatives, which pretty much says all you need to know on the subject o' the Jeggare family.

Glad to be a gnome.

So Callum offered us some food 'n' drink, and I nibbled a little, and drank a little, 'cause sometimes you have to live life on the dangerous side, and besides, he was so happy we were goin' to kill his relatives I didn't think he meant us any harm. He chatted about how great it was that we were goin' to kill his family, and how nice it was of us to free up the girls so he could get rid o' the undead whorehouse, and how it was awfully nice of him to have a clue for us, all wrapped up and sealed in a bow! First things first, Llew said that if he was shuttin' the place down anyway, could she go kill all the undead in there, and he said sure. 'Cause apparently he didn't have sympathy for vampires, either. We took our leave from Mr. Jolly Gruesome Family-Killer and headed over to the Palace o' the Dead. Llew protected our minds and said she was shieldin' us from the vampire's drains, and that was a good thing, 'cause she whacked Forth a couple o' times and he just can't afford to get drained any more, but since she wasn't drainin' him we all just kind o' beat her down. She didn't even hide her coffin; it was right there in the room with her. Probably a turn-on for her customers, but not too bright once someone decides they're done with you. The zombies were less work, and Llew was obviously a lot more cheerful once the deed was done.

One job down, we opened our clue to figure out our next one. Apparently Rufus had fled the city on his "War Barge", which was either a really really fat horse, or some kind o' boat. Since it was already after dark, we'd have to wait 'til morning, but how fast can a "barge" go, anyway? So I figured he'd have hired some guards, and I'd have to stab 'em, and I didn't want any more arguments with Forth 'bout the whole thing, so I headed over to the temple of Asmodeus, where the party was still in full swing. It wasn't that hard to sneak in, cause I'm small and nimble and not a barge, so I got a cleric's attention and told him I wanted an indulgence for stabbin' people. He seemed kind o' taken aback, so I told him I had a paladin with me and I had to be all lawful, but I was gonna go kill Rufus and I needed to be able to stab anyone who got in the way. Well, I guess he figured givin' a gnome permission to just run around stabbin' people was probably a bad idea (and if I'm honest, I can't say I blame him), so he wanted 1000 gold just to stab ONE person! That would never do! I probably needed 'bout a half dozen o' those, just to be on the safe side, but I didn't have that kind o' gold lyin' around, and I didn't think Forth'd loan me money just for stabbin', so I told the cleric thanks but no thanks and went back to rejoin the party. (My fellow travelers, not the drunken bout o' depressin' lawfulness in the market square.)

Alembic made good on his promise to let us stay at his place, and since he was bein' nice 'n' all and I'm kind o' gettin' used to humans, I didn't leave him a single present. His house was one o' those big ol' stone ones with lots o' wood on the inside that humans seem to like so much, but if you don't have a dozen gnomes runnin' around in it playin' hide and seek or burn the goblin, then what's the point?

I think I'm losin' my touch!

In the mornin' we did all the stuff you do when you're about to assault a war barge. Which comes out strange, 'cause it's not like somethin' people do every day. I don't think grandma ever woke up one mornin' and said, "Hey! Let's go storm us a war barge!" But she might've. And she'd've bought the same stuff I bought for myself: A potion that lets you breathe water ('cause even if I didn't use it this time, how much fun is that?), another potion to let you move around in water like a fish (now I was gettin' all excited), and my various little accoutrements that I don't like to be without. A girl can't have too much fire!

Once I was done shoppin' we went over to the docks and Alembic asked 'bout the "war barge". Turns out just like everythin' else Rufus did, it was all wrong 'n' stupid and was probably unbelievably slow; we could just ride our horses alongside the river and catch up. Alembic's too fancy to ride horses, though, so he wanted us all to ride "phantom steeds" that cost a lot o' gold for just one day's ride, but they go much faster than horses! AND THEY CAN WALK ON WATER!!!! Alembic and Llew tried to explain that it was less expensive to get the non-water-walky types, but who wants THAT?!?!? They cost less than stabbin' ONE GUY, for gosh' sake! So I bought myself a scroll o' fancy water-walkin' horse and jumped up and down and skittered 'round 'cause I was so excited I was goin' to get to ride on the water on my own magical pony! I was actin' like a twenty-year-old, but I didn't care! Water-walkin' ponies in all kinds o' colors! What could be better!?!?!
Llew seemed a little irritated that I'd chosen the 'spensive one, 'cause she seemed to feel that it meant she had to get one, too. But Llew! Llew! It WALKS ON WATER!!!!

Once we'd all bought our scrolls, we handed 'em to Alembic to summon our horses (and my pony). I told 'im I wanted mine to be bright lime green with pink polka dots and a flame orange mane and tail. And he DID IT!!! Alembic's really turnin' out to be a stand-up guy. He's growin' on me. 'Course, it wasn't a pony. It was a horse. So it took a bit o' clamberin' up to get up on its back, and I started thinkin' kind o' sheepishly that I could o' rode with someone else, but.... GREEN HORSE! First thing I did was rode him(?) out into the river and I nearly fell off but it was so fun I didn't care; 'sides, I had a potion that'd let me swim! Then curiosity got the better o' me, so I took him(?) back to shore, hopped off, checked, and nope, there wasn't anythin' to bang my head against on the underside. 'Course she was so tall I wouldn't've banged my head on her baggage anyway, but it was good to know after all the trouble I'd had with Yellow. She? OK, I admit, now I was curious so I checked out the backside and became acutely aware that this horse had no, er, "orifices". So I decided to name it Greeny and solve my problems that way. Llew didn't like it and said I should name it Pestilence instead, so I did.

So apparently while Pestilence and I were gettin' intimately acquainted, the others had mounted up and were kind o' waitin' for me to do somethin' sensible, which probably would've been a long wait, 'cept I was feelin' polite so we set off down the river after Rufus. And sometimes ON the river, because my horse can WALK ON WATER!!! Trouble was, I didn't get to enjoy Pestilence for all that long, 'cause it took us all of about 10 minutes to catch up with Rufus' barge, all run aground or somethin' in the middle o' the river. So yeah, I was kind o' feelin' ripped off 'bout spendin' all that gold for a 10-minute ride. But it was an AWESOME ride! And Greeny was beautiful!

I was all rarin' to go gallopin' 'cross the waves to pronounce judgement, Llew-like, on Rufus' sorry butt, but Forth said that wasn't all Lawful, 'cause nothin' fun ever is, so we had to ride up, listenin' to Rufus yellin' at his crew, and announce that we had a warrant and anyone who didn't want to fight should just stand down. 'Course they all wanted to fight, so we had to fight 'em all anyway, so all Forth did was ruin a dramatic moment, but he's good at that kind o' thing.

We rode on in, and Shieldy didn't want to cooperate, 'cause Forth'd ruined the moment 'n' all. So since Pestilence could RUN ON WATER and all Rufus' guards were all lined up against the rail on our side, I decided I'd ride around the boat to the back side. While I was doin' that, Llew just rode right up to the boat and walked up the side like it was somethin' totally normal! She'd mentioned somethin' 'bout Spider Climb before, but I hadn't even thought about it 'til I was watchin' her walk up, and I immediately thought that I needed to be able to do that! Alembic made Forth fly, and o' course Forth flew over and landed right where I'd been plannin' on bein', 'cause Forth is in the way like that, so I had to figure out a better way to get onto the boat. I didn't mind that much, 'cause I was on a green horse that WALKED ON WATER, but I kind o' wanted to get a couple o' stabs in on ol' Rufus before Llew 'n' Forth were done with 'im, so I was a little irritated, too. By the time I managed to find a clean place and jump up onto the boat, Forth was bleedin' all over the place, like he does, and I found out that Rufus' guards were awfully hard to hit. Llew was off on the other side o' the boat fighting off one guy, while Forth 'n' I were dealin' with the other five. Seemed fair 'nough, 'cept I was worried I was gonna slip on Forth's blood or somethin'. Fortunately, we had Alembic on our side, and first he hit 'em with some lightnin', and then a cool big ol' blobby ball o' water that chased 'em around and swallowed 'em up. I'd say I wasn't hittin' 'cause I was too busy watchin' the blobby ball, and it's a good lie, but the guys were really kind o' well-armored and dodgy. I finally managed to drop one, and Alembic dropped another one into one o' his pits, this one full o' acid. And oh, the screams! It's not so bad droppin' undead or really horrible people in there, but this was just some paid hired hand, and we had to listen to him screamin' and moanin' and hollerin' as he slowly dissolved, and I know I was feelin' pretty nauseous 'bout the whole thing, and I couldn't figure how THAT was lawful, but none o' the stuff I wanted to do was, 'cause meltin' a guy in a pit o' acid sounds really bad, and once you're around a guy that's meltin' I can tell you it's even worse than you imagine!

So the fight was pretty hard. I finally dropped one o' the ones on me, and Alembic dropped that one in the pit, but they were all tryin' to gang up on me so I had to dance 'round somethin' awful. Llew dropped hers, Forth dropped another one, and one of 'em just hit himself in the face and knocked his helmet all askew so he couldn't see anythin' at all! I kept expectin' him to fall into the pit, but for bein' blind he had pretty good balance and didn't end up fallin' in. I was impressed. Forth put the blind guy out of his misery and we went after the last guy, who tried to shove me into the pit along with screamin' guy! Fortunately, he didn't get a good shove on me, but I was pretty peeved so me, Llew, 'n' Forth teamed up on him and dropped him just as the guy in the pit went mercifully silent. Unfortunately, the boat didn't. It started rockin' and heavin' and actin' like the whole boat was some kind o' construct that was gonna come up and kill us, and it was kind o' close 'cause this big rock statue in the image of Rufus came up to start beatin' on us. Alembic warned us that it was a golem, so I was pretty useless, and I was pretty hurt, AND the golem did somethingorother that made everythin' hard, so I just gave up and jumped off the boat. Everyone else was runnin', too, but I didn't much see where they ran 'cause it turns out that swimmin' while slow is really hard work. And it didn't help at all that the river was tryin' to steal me, constantly carryin' me back away from the boat so that every time I swam I lost about half my effort 'cause o' the stupid river! I knew that Forth and Alembic were flyin' so they'd be OK, but I was worried 'bout Llew. Fortunately, from the sound o' things, Alembic dropped the critter into a pit to slow it down. It must o' taken me a full half minute to get back to Pestilence and clamber up onto him/it, but I could at least call out to Alembic to come get my bag. I might not be able to hurt the thing, but Alembic could certainly use all the stuff in my bag to hurt it! I told him that the key to gettin' alchemist's fire was to tell my bag, "Boomy!"

So he started droppin' my fire on the beast, and I started healin' myself with Ornery, Then Llew shot me! I don't quite know what I'd done to deserve it, but I figured she had a reason, so I just stuck with convincin' Ornery that it was all OK and I probably earned it but he should heal me anyway and figured she'd tell me why later. In fact, right after she shot me she looked all horrified and told me she was sorry, so maybe it was a mistake after all. Anyway, Alembic used up the rest o' my fire just as Llew brought the big beastie down, so I figured I'd ask for my pack back.

I don't know how he knew, but Alembic decided to lighten the mood by sayin' "Candy" to my bag and eatin' my vomit capsule. I was kind o' mad, 'cause those things are expensive, but watchin' Alembic wretchin' and pukin' and spraying his guts everywhere while cryin' out, "Why? Why?" between heaves was worth it! I didn't even mind that he got me a bit, 'cause we were on a river and I figured I could wash off anyway. Trouble was, seemed like Alembic hadn't been plannin' on entertainin' us, and seemed kind o' mad. That's too bad, 'cause he was growin' on me, and that kind o' stunt would o' put him over the top. 'Course Llew was makin' fun o' him for eatin' anythin' out of a gnome's backpack, and she was so emphatic I just had to start gigglin' 'cause I couldn't think o' anythin' in my pack I'd recommend a human eat. 'Cept maybe the potion o' reduce person. But only if it was a cute human. With a taste for pink hair. And some chiseled cheekbones, and nice abs, and...

I climbed back onto the deck and Llew apologized to me and said it was a mistake and helped Ornery heal me, so we were square, and Rufus was still yellin' 'bout somethin' 'cause he had a set o' lungs on him, so at least we knew he was still around, when a door that was makin' all kinds o' clicky noises opened up and some big mechanical beastie reached out a claw and grabbed me! This one was even worse than the stone golem, 'cause it had a big open belly that looked like an iron maiden and it looked like it was gonna pop me in and grind me up like the pigs in the local sausage maker's factory. 'Cept I'd make a nasty sausage, 'cause I watch my weight so I'm all bone 'n' gristle and not at all what you want in a sausage, 'cause if they don't have enough fat in them then they don't fry, they kind o' dry up and burn in the skittle and you get all sad 'cause you were lookin' forward to havin' some sausage with your eggs and now you had this burnt tube o' sad and it was all the butcher's fault for not feedin' his pigs enough...
...anyhoo... looked bad for me, but Forth cast something that made me even eelier than I normally am, so I managed to get loose, and Alembic dropped it in a pit. Seemed like he'd recovered from his vomitin' ordeal, and was ready to start pittin' things again. Trouble was, the thing was a good climber and started comin' up again while Llew was shootin' it, and I was almost out o' consumable destruction. So I had an idea. I put a rope around my waist, had Llew hold an end, got out some alchemical grease, and started spreadin' it on the edge o' the pit. Trouble was, the mechanical maiden devoury thingy didn't have any trouble at all climbin' through my grease and just upped and grabbed me! Alembic was right there, but I guess he was kind o' scared 'cause he touched me and then teleported away! Hey! C'mon! The vomit capsule was just a joke! And just when I thought we were startin' to get along! Fortunately, since I'd just been usin' my arms an' bosom 'n' such to spread all the grease as far as I could (hey, YOU try spreadin' grease when you're under three and a half feet on your tippy toes! You gotta get creative!), so I was still a bit slippery, an' I managed to squip loose... barely. Its next step was to grab Forth so I jumped back onto Pestilence to regroup, and realized I still had my smoke pellet, and maybe that'd help make it stop hittin' everybody all the time.

Fortunately, Forth managed to get loose and we all withdrew to regroup, 'cause we figured it wouldn't come through the water at us, and we were right. So we got to heal up while it just stood there on deck waitin' for us, So Alembic went in as bait with all his Mirror Images up and distracted it while Llew and Forth went in to start hammerin' away on it, and I nailed it right in its beady little head with my smoke pellet. It swung blindly at Llew and missed! Good smoke pellet! So it got one more good grab on Forth, but between Forth 'n' Llew they dropped it, and Alembic was a useful distraction, which I'd say describes his life perfectly but I'm and honest gnome, and those pits saved our bacon. 'Cept the poor guy who melted in one. I'm gonna have nightmares 'bout that one for a LONG time. Gotta tell Alembic not to put people in those pits. Just Jeggares.

Once we'd killed that beastie Rufus surrendered, and then a bunch o' Lawful stuff happened that I didn't rightly understand. Forth promised Rufus that he wouldn't hurt him, and he'd take him back to the city for sentencing. So Rufus came on out. And he was a skittish sort; I tried to come near him to relieve him o' any troublesome doodads on his person, and he skittered 'round Forth like a big bearded boulder. So I figured we were done, but Llew was pretty pissed 'bout the whole thing so she stabbed Rufus. And Forth did that thing where he took the cut, so Llew basically stabbed Forth! I'd listened to all Forth's promises, and I hadn't heard, "And Llew won't stab you, either," so I didn't rightly understand, and Llew was even more livid, both at Forth and Rufus, and I figured if I said anything right then she might shoot me again, this time on purpose (aw, no she wouldn't've. But she WAS that angry!), so I decided it was shut up time on my own. Llew started talkin' 'bout rippin' out Rufus' eyes 'n' such, and it was all vivid 'n' gory, but Forth wouldn't let her, so Rufus hid in his beard like a little baby chick and I wanted to shove a vomit capsule down his throat but I couldn't 'cause I was out 'cause somebody already ATE mine! But it was funny, so it was OK.

So we hauled Rufus back to town, and I got to ride Pestilence on the water some more, but it wasn't as fun 'cause Llew was so mad at Forth, but we turned Rufus over to Farbridge 'n' we got our reward 'n' they locked him in irons. I didn't trust anyone where the Jeggares were involved, so I spent the rest o' the day keepin' an eye on things, and I was front 'n' center when they beheaded the bugger that evening.

Job done. Who's next?

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Trig the Gnome wrote:

Session 19, Played 15-Jul-2018

So, believe it or not, sometimes even Asmodeans can get things right. Once the verdict came out and the Jeggares were all sentenced to death, the temple started givin' out free booze to have a HUGE party in the square. 'Course, I didn't imbibe, 'cause I know what Asmodeus is like: "Here, have some free booze! Oh, are you good and drunk now? Why don't you go ahead and light that sketchy-looking park bench on fire? Aha! Vandalism! That'll be 200 gold and a public flogging!"
{. . .}

This sure sounds Lawful Evil . . . and disturbingly familiar . . . .

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Session 20, Played 22-Jul-2018

Once the deed was done on Rufus, we headed into the market area 'cause I had to restock; Alembic had used up all my alchemist's fire, plus my only vomit capsule, so I obviously needed more o' both. I thought of gettin' one all candy-coated 'n' shiny, but playin' the same trick on the same guy twice just isn't any fun at all. 'Cept it might be fun, 'cause it was Alembic 'n' all. Llew was still steamin' 'bout Forth protectin' Rufus, and laid into him 'bout makin' promises on her behalf 'n' such, and he argued that he'd only promised to protect Rufus so he hadn't been speakin' for her, he'd just been protectin' Rufus was all. The whole thing was kind o' unpleasant, and now I know how little kids feel when their parents are arguin'. I love Llew, and I love Forth, and I didn't care one way or the other who did the killin' as long as Rufus was dead, so I was just hopin' they'd make up before we had to find our next Jeggare. Fortunately, Llew 'n' Forth are sensible people, so after a bit they just agreed to disagree and we headed back to stay at the Wanderer's Rest for the night. Forth healed me all up and we sat down to dinner, and some guys showed up tellin' us how happy they were that we were after the Jeggares, and told us they had a present for us, and it was a big ol' box wrapped up with a big ribbon that just screamed, "I'm gonna blow up and spread poison all over this inn and kill all these innocent people 'cause Jeggare," so we didn't open it right there.

So I made sure it didn't look like it was going to blow up if we moved it, and we moved it on up to our room where we could examine it more closely, and where it'd only be us gettin' gassed if I guessed wrong. So I sniffed and I poked and I prodded, and if it was a trap I sure couldn't tell how it worked, so I stood back and let Forth open it, 'cause he kind o' likes the pain I think. But it wasn't pain at all! It was a nice bottle o' wine from Stan the Beer Man, happy that we'd kept his name out o' the whole thing. To be honest, I'd kind o' forgotten 'bout him 'cause I was really interested in stabbin' Jeggares, but hey, gettin' presents for bein' forgetful? I can live with that! So the wine was 60 years old, which was older'n me, an' the way Llew and Forth reacted I figured that was a good thing. I kind o' figure if the alcohol isn't pure enough to burn, then who really cares, but Alembic said it would probably be worth around 1000 gold on the market! Wow! Stan the RICH Beer Man! 'Course, there was no way we were goin' to sell it, 'cause it was a special heartfelt present 'n' all, and Forth 'n' Alembic kind o' wanted to drink it right there, but Llew wanted to save it for when we were on the road and all miserable 'n' such, 'cause it'd taste even better then. That's my Llew! Always thinkin' ahead to the worst! Forth and Alembic had to agree that that was a better idea, so Llew packed the wine up all nice-like in her pack and promised we'd all get a bit when the time was right. I was lookin' forward to findin' out just how bad things had to be before Llew opened the wine!

Another night in an inn, and another night with no attacks! I was gettin' downright spoiled! We went downstairs, lookin' forward to meetin' up with Iggy and his huge breakfast and findin' out what kind o' leads he had for us for the day, but there was no Iggy! In fact, we had no clues at all! Since we didn't know where the Jeggares had gone, and we didn't have any magic to find out, and it was the magic mart day in the square, we spent a nice day shoppin' and playin' with vagrant kids and gettin' bit by strange dogs and maybe someone might've tied a dog to a couple o' sheep and a chicken, but all in all it was pretty sweet. Would've been downright idyllic if it weren't for the fact that the Jeggares were gettin' another day ahead of us, and we couldn't afford to keep buyin' magnificent horses that WALKED ON WATER, 'cause they were kind o' 'spensive. So I'd restocked on extra alchemist's fire and smoke pellets and a couple o' extra vomit capsules, and I kind o' wanted to save up my money for all the Restoration spells we'd be buyin' pretty soon, so I just looked around to see what I could get, which is almost as fun as gettin' it, 'cept even in Logas they knew better than to let gnomes run off with their wares to "try them out", so it was mostly just hangin' around with Forth, Llew, and Alembic as they got whatnot. Llew got herself a nice adamantine spear and told me I should get a dagger, but I didn't see that little ol' me stabbin' a giant rock monster with a teensy little adamantine dagger would do one whit o' good, and they didn't have any nice adamantine Construct Bane slingstones, so I declined. I figure Llew 'n' Forth can deal with the constructs, and I'll deal with the stuff that has kidneys (or other stabbables).

Since we were in the market anyway and it was gettin' near lunchtime, we got ourselves some snacks, and just as we were startin' to eat we got approached by one o' the town guard, who said Captain Farbridge wanted to see us. Of course! Nothin' like startin' a fine meal to get people needin' your time to come crawlin' out o' the woodwork. 'Course Farbridge probably wouldn't be callin' us in unless he'd found somethin', so we figured we should talk to him. We went in, and got to see him in his office right away, and he didn't even have to offer us snacks 'cause we were already eatin', and I was wonderin' whether that was rude or clever of him, but I had a hunk o' some kind o' bird leg that was all sweet 'n' spicy at the same time and kind o' hard to eat without gettin' pieces of it all over myself, so I was entertained enough as it was and I didn't hold it against him. So he told us that somethin' strange had happened on the Riverbranch road the night o' the trial. All the guards had fallen ill at the exact same time, throwin' up somethin' awful. I was kind o' disappointed when not everyone turned to look at me, but they all knew I'd been at the trial, so it couldn't've been me. Still, it wouldn't been nice to have been accused of it, at least! Anyhoo, with all the guards pukin' their guts out, someone might have had a chance to slip through the gate! I started countin' time in my head... we had the trial, then the day o' chasin' down Rufus, then comin' back and shoppin', making this notice almost two full days after it happened! Someone needs to work on their reportin' structure!

So, first things first, we needed to be able to give chase, and those magical horses didn't last long enough. So Alembic bought himself a horse and named it Silversheen. Forth bought himself another heavy horse, but wouldn't name it "Doomed" like I wanted, so he probably just named it "Horse" again 'cause Forth. Since everyone else was buyin' horses, Llew grumbled about it and bought herself a horse, knowin' full well it was goin' to die, and named it Bane. Everyone started lookin' at me expectantly and Llew finally asked me where Yellow was. How the heck was *I* supposed to know that?!?! Oh, wait!
I figured I'd check the local stables of all the places I'd stayed, and finally tracked down Yellow in the stables of the Wanderer's Rest. So I paid *his* tab (stupid dangly bits I've got to dodge!), rode back to the others, and acted like I knew where he'd been all along. I don't think Llew bought it.
We rode up to the Riverbranch gate where we met the 4 guards there, and Llew started inquisitin' them. So, we learned that all 6 of 'em fell ill at the same time, and they felt really ill; like, "So ill I feel like I ate a handful of vomit capsules that Trig disguised as jelly candies" ill. So they didn't see anythin'. We saw a bunch o' kids playin' near the gate, so I tried to talk to 'em, but they didn't want to talk to me. Alembic grinned that squirrely grin o' his, about to show me up for makin' him puke the other day (Hey, bud! YOU ate somethin' out o' MY pack! It's not like I asked you to! And o' course, now if he asks for "normal rations" he's really in for it, so maybe I AM out to get him just a little for bein' mad at ME for eatin' MY vomit capsule, but... anyhoo...)
The kids liked Alembic better'n me, which just goes to show that human kids have no taste, but he got out o' them that while the guards were busy pukin' (which amused the kids no end, so I forgave 'em a little for ignorin' me), two really HUGE wagons drawn by eight horses had "sneaked" through the gates.
Matter of professional pride here, kids: Giant wagons being drawn by horses don't "sneak". They caused a "distraction" (such as a vomit capsule) and utilized the distracted nature of the guards (such as "pukin'") to escape detection by said guards. The fact that a bunch o' little Alembic-lovin' little ingrates who don't like gnomes could see the wagons plain as day pretty much PROVES they didn't "sneak".
Not that I'm bitter 'bout bein' ignored by the kids or anythin'.

So, Llew got out o' the guards that the road went to the capital. Brilliant lot, this. Alembic got that the driver of one o' the wagons had thrown somethin' at one o' the stone walls nearby and that's when the guards had started Worshippin' the Lunches Gone Past, and then one o' the kids called Alembic a paladin! Which made up for all their ignorin' o' me and everythin' else! If they think Alembic's a paladin, they obviously have no idea what the heck is goin' on! Heck, I'm surprised they can even dress themselves in the morning!
Anyhoo, with all our information gathered, Forth 'n' Llew went to go see whether they could find some big giant wagon tracks, while Alembic 'n' I went over to the wall to look for evidence. It was kind o' stinky by the wall, but nothin' I hadn't smelled before, and it wasn't hard to find a clay pot with some kind o' gooey stuff in the bottom. Bein' a sensible gnome, I decided not to touch it or drink it, but instead I pulled out my pot to put the whole mess into, and Alembic started going off 'bout where did I find a leprechaun's pot and did the leprechaun know I had his pot and he didn't know they made pots that small 'n' so forth. So, Alembic's bedroll will someday be visited by said goo, but all plans need time to ripen. Kind o' like fruit. Or bodies. 'Cept I think that's the wrong kind o ripenin'.
So I managed to behave myself and let Alembic sniff at the stuff without accidentally knocking any of it into his face, and he said it was a Stinking Cloud bomb o' the kind alchemists use, where you have to be an alchemist to use 'em 'cause you have to put magic into 'em, and that made me all kinds o' sad 'cause I couldn't make a bomb that made lots o' people throw up at once, but I'd ask around at the next market and see whether I could get somethin' similar, that maybe turned 'em purple instead or somethin'.
We reconvened with Llew 'n' Forth, and Llew had found the tracks and the whole group started talkin' sagely 'bout how slow the carts would be, and how much trouble they'd have goin' 'round other carts, until it became pretty darned clear that every single person in the group knew somethin' 'bout drivin' carts except ME! What's up with that? Why would an inquisitor or a paladin ever need to know how to drive a cart? Well, in Forth's case we know it's for loot 'n' victims, but what about Llew? Does she bring back the corpses of the inquisited to her temple? If she does, she's pretty sneaky about it, 'cause I haven't seen her do it yet!

Anyhoo, time was wastin' and we had a couple o' carts to catch, so we raced up the road. Or at least rode as fast as Yellow was willin' to go, which was a lot faster than I'd've gone, so I didn't complain. Much. We rode for the rest o' the day, figurin' we'd be able to tell pretty easily if the carts'd left the road, and just around sunset we came upon a nice little inn, lookin' like it was where it was just to catch all the stragglers who were too lazy to get out o' bed before noon and so couldn't get in a full day's ride. All the cart folk (that's what I'm callin' my party today) told me that no, it was because this was how far a cart could get in a day, but I liked my explanation better so I stuck with it. But they were right that there sure were a lot of carts parked out front. Whoever was rightest, the place was jumpin', and we were hard-pressed to get a table 'til Alembic payed some guys to vacate theirs. So, bein' on the small side, I like to let a man have his drink, and I would've preferred to have just joined 'em and bought 'em a round as a show of all-around friendship, but Alembic's a noble, so he shoos off all the peasants and gives 'em gold to make himself feel better about it. And o' course four of me could've fit in at that table really easily, but Llew and Alembic would've had problems, and Forth? Well, he's just a wide fellow, and that's not even coutin' the extra you have to give him because of his beard. I didn't really feel like sititn' at a table gained by takin' advantage of those who were down on their luck, so I wandered off 'til I found a few people my height, and it turned out that they were human kids, and kids who weren't swayed by noble gold, either, so o' course we had a grand old time hidin' among the adults' legs and stealin' stuff and puttin' it back in other places that were harder to find (always works best at a drinkin' establishment, but there's nothin' like sneakin' into someone's house and movin' their keys! The noises they make!). A few things may have gotten lit on fire, but I made sure the fires were small and didn't cause any permanent damage. I'm good at that.
So the kids told me that the wagons had come in 2 nights ago, which meant they'd left right about the time they learned about the trial. Guess they knew what the outcome was going to be, huh? Well, they were creepy people who never removed their cloaks, and I always love talkin' to kids about such things 'cause they have a good sense o' creepy, and they don't mind if you play an occasional trick on them 'cause they'll just figure out a way to trick you back, which is all kinds o' challengin' for all parties involved. Once I had all the information I needed, I tried to be all Alembic like and spilled out a piece o' gold for each of 'em, but they proved they were good kids by pickin' it all up and givin' it back to me, so I rewarded 'em all with a silver apiece. So I saved money, proved the kids were honest, and DIDN'T buy my friendship! Take THAT, Alembic!

'Course he wasn't lookin' at all 'cause he was talkin' to all the adults 'bout the same thing and getting all the same information without gettin' beer spilled down his backside or sneezed on or bitten or havin' to slip itch powder into Alec's drawers, but I bet I had more fun. But o' course adults pay more attention to the kind o' creep that comes through, so Alembic could even add that it was 4 guards and a woman, probably a Jeggare 'cause she had a noble bearing to her and all the guards were all obedient towards her. We asked to see their rooms, and a little more gold changed hands and the innkeep didn't see an issue, so we poked around. So yet again I didn't do much o' anythin' other than stand there and tell 'em there weren't any traps or secret doors or assassins or anythin' else of any interest, while Llew told us all that nobody'd slept in the beds, and one o' the rooms smelled like alchemy. She 'n' Forth did their weird trackin' thing that I don't understand and told us that there were 4 guards, 2 servants, and the lady. I believed 'em. I had no idea how they could do that, 'cause the chamber pots were emptied and everythin' was all cleaned up, but maybe they'd talked to the innkeep while I was distracted or somethin'. 'Cause nothin' in this room said, "Yeah, there were six of us sleepin' in this room and the next one over," and I'm pretty perceptive when I try.

The inn was still really busy when we got up in the morning, so we said our goodbyes, I had a runnin' breakfast while chasin' the kids around, and we set off. I even remembered Yellow! So we rode on, and it wasn't 'til about lunchtime that we started seein' people comin' the other way. I figured that only made sense: If the inns are a day apart, then each of you should have to travel a half day to meet each other, right? Llew 'n' Forth told me it didn't work like that, and I believed 'em cause I'm not a professional cart-driver or anythin', but as they came along we greeted 'em, and asked 'em where they were comin' from, and they were all comin' from the south branch o' the road; not a single person was comin' back from Eledir! So that would've been worrisome enough, even if I'd known where the "south branch" was. As it was, there was some mysterious place I'd never heard of that all the people were evacuatin' and we're already busy and can't Isger have just one big mess at a time, please and thank you? But Llew 'n' Forth said it wasn't like that, so I believed 'em, and we kept travelin'. The story was the same 'til we passed the dread south branch and all its perils, and after that we didn't see anyone at all on the road. As evening was startin' to set in, we saw another inn, with more carts in front, lights on, music playin', and everythin' else. Kind o' funny, since we hadn't seen any traffic come from this direction, but hey, maybe they had good beer!

We were all pretty on edge 'cause o' the lack o' people on the road, so I stuck close with Llew as she strode up to the bar (and she strides like nobody's business. Forth kind o' galumphs, Alembic lurches, but Llew strides. Me? I nimble. 'Cause I prefer it as a verb!). So she stared at him all intent-like and I knew she was inquisitin' him 'cause you can tell that kind o' thing, and she asked about the two big wagons, and he said sure enough they'd been through, and one o' the guards had hit one o' his girls, and they were terrible people, and were we friends o' theirs or what? Forth said somethin' about how we were huntin' the Jeggares and everythin' went all topsy-turvy, and not in a good way. Llew, bein' Llew, knew that somethin' was up before the rest of us and put her good ol' Magic Circle of Protection from Evil on us. And I'm givin' it its proper name, 'cause it was a life-saver! 'Cause the whole inn was a haunt, and it was a bad one! Everyone around us started dyin', cut up or meltin' or bein' stomped on or stabbed; even the little kids were cut down from behind! Lots of 'em hadn't died immediately, but had been left, lying there, bleedin' out o' all o' their orifices for minutes. Apparently the people at this inn had been a little bit too nosy about who'd been in the wagons, and the name Jeggare got mentioned, and Lady Jeggare had her guards cut 'em all down, 'cept the ones she chose to kill herself. It wasn't a fight. It wasn't murder. It was slaughter of the innocent. A little core o' rage burned within me, and I knew Calistria needed me on this one! I wouldn't rest 'til I'd tracked down and made sure that b*tch was dead! And if I had to do it, and it came down to it, I'd bring Llew back from the dead, too, just so Llew could make sure she'd never come back and get sent to the Hell she so richly deserved. The dead barkeep uttered some kind o' oath and told us we had to track down and kill the Jeggares, and Llew said he'd tried to lay a geas on us and her Magic Circle had protected us from the effects of it, but it didn't matter. I was going to obey anyway.
I wasn't the only one pissed as a gnome lookin' at a goblin with no fire available; Llew's eyes narrowed until they were nearly slits, and she looked daggers at Forth, and hissed, "NOW can we kill her?"
Forth didn't even hesitate. "She'd earned it."
I was suddenly in a better mood. Until Forth and Llew went and mentioned that that was probably why we hadn't seen any other travelers along the way: Every southbound traveler had reached the inn, stopped in for a drink or a meal, and been hit with the geas. 'Cause none of 'em came in inquisitin' like Llew was, and probably not many of 'em even had a circle to cast, even if they'd known what was goin' on. More innocent blood. I wasn't sure Hell was deep enough for Freya Jeggare.

So now that we could see the "real" inn, we got to work pilin' up the bodies out back and settin' 'em ablaze. "Campfire bead" my cute and pert heinie! It ought to be called a "pyre bead" for all the use we're givin' it. Forth used the horses to pull all the carts 'round back, 'cause apparently he moonlights as a cart driver and seems to enjoy the work, and also 'cause we wanted people to know that there was something fishy 'bout the inn. Alembic started talkin' 'bout keepin' all the stuff in the wagons 'cause the people weren't usin' them any more, and that was pretty low, even for him. Forth got what names or crests he could off the wagons, and said we'd do the usual: Try to get in touch with the families, let 'em know their loved ones were dead, let 'em claim the gear they wanted, and THEN keep all the unclaimed stuff. I'm not Lawful, but I know what's decent. And Forth's plan was decent.
Llew did her magic words o' no more undeaddy, 'cept we already had a big giant haunt we couldn't get rid of, 'cept Llew 'n' Forth said we had to feed it Freya Jeggare. I had no objections to that plan at all.

We camped away from the inn so as not to be affected by the haunt. So we were in the woods. At night. And nothing attacked us! Somethin' was really funny 'bout these woods! I didn't like 'em. 'Course, I didn't particularly like any woods, but these woods were 'specially spooky.

In the mornin' we rode after Freya Jeggare with murder on our minds. It wasn't 'til about 10 in the mornin' that we found the first victims o' the inn's geas. They were some ordinary caravan guards with horses, and someone had cut down both man 'n' horse. I didn't have any trouble recognizin' the cuts; someone with trainin' as a rogue had killed these men. Good. I'd do 'em a professional courtesy and show 'em how nasty it is when you don't get your precise strikes and a paladin and an inquisitor are rippin' you apart. I didn't expect anyone in the caravan would get any mercy, even from Forth. I was even kind o' hoping Alembic'd do another o' those acidy pits on the lot of 'em. As we rode on, we found four more groups o' innocents, hit by the inn's geas to go kill Freya Jeggare, but not powerful enough to take her on. Well, WE were, and WE were on our way like Calistria's vengeance on a spurning lover! 'Cept angrier 'n that.

Llew spotted 'em first, around 1/4 mile up the road from us, and movin' slowly. Alembic knew this was serious, so in addition to the stuff he normally put on Llew 'n' Forth, he made me stronger, AND made me fly (not quite as good as horses that walk on water, but really close!), AND made me invisible! O' course, he made everyone else invisible as well, so Llew did somethin' so she could see us, and she said she'd call out when we needed to do things. Seemed kind o' risky, but kind o' fun. I just hoped I didn't run into anyone or get run into on the way in. So we flew on in, and it wasn't as hard as I thought 'cause you could hear the wind whistlin' in Forth's beard from a mile away and I knew I was s'posed to stay behind him, but when he (and I assume the others) all pulled up at the back o' the wagons, I started wonderin' what would happen if they tried to run? So at that moment Thorn inspired me, so, figurin' the rest o' the group would holler if they needed a hand, I flew up on ahead o' the caravan and waited for Forth to make some kind o' commotion out back. It didn't take long to hear, "Somebody's here! And they're invisible!" so I took that as my cue and dropped the feather token I'd bought for Thorn in the middle of the road in front of the wagons. Up sprung the massive tree! I giggled pretty hard, but I suspect the sound of the giant tree growing instantly in their path kind o' muffled it. In any case, my work was done; the wagons weren't goin' in that direction, and almost certainly couldn't turn around in the middle o' the road, so we had 'em trapped. Hi, Freya! And I was still invisible! What a great spell!

So, like I said, I was in front o' the caravan, and everyone else was in back, so next thing I saw was Alembic appearin', wavin' his arms and callin' out his magic like he does, and this great big watery ball appeared and started chasin' the caravan guards all 'round, tryin' to suck 'em up and give 'em a good washin'. I loved it! The guards, not so much, so they all ran under the tree Alembic was tryin' to hide in, so he Fireballed 'em as well. What were Forth and Llew doin'? I have no idea, 'cause they were invisible and weren't doin' anything so's I could notice. 'Til Llew called out that the drivers were innocent folk who were trapped on booby trapped seats, and could I please save 'em, pretty please? So I'd been circlin' round the wagons, 'cause it seemed like a reasonable thing to do while watchin' Alembic and his watery ball and his fireballs and the unhappy guards, so the back driver was closer, so I landed next to her and told her to stay put and I'd have her out in a jiffy. Trouble was, I could talk to her, and I could tell her how simple-minded the dolt who built the pressure plate on this trap was, and how I could do it half-drunk and with one hand tied behind my back, but disarmin' a trap properly takes time, and she was awfully squirrely, and since she couldn't see me I couldn't use my big ol' Calistrian eyes on her, so I just had to trust she wouldn't do anythin' stupid 'til I'd gotten her loose. And even then. If you're tasked with savin' someone, even after you save 'em if they end up runnin' off and gettin' themselves killed through no fault o' yours you still tend to get the blame. So I told her to stay calm, and I worked on the trap, head down, focusing on NOT blowing us up or droppin' us in acid or whatever it was this thing'd do if I messed up. Seemed easy enough.

I could still kind o' hear what was goin' on around me. Llew was up in the air, stabby-stabbying all the guards from above with her adamantine spear, and from the squeals and screams and sounds o' people droppin' to the ground I think she was havin' quite the fine time of it. Apparently there was no sign o' Freya yet, so Alembic wanted to force her out, so he called out that he was goin' to drop the other wagon in one of his acid pits. Didn't seem like a half-bad idea to me, since the wagon was too big to spin around so the driver'd stay on top, and as long as he or she didn't fall off her seat the trap wouldn't go off. 'Course, not fallin' off your seat after a long fall into a pit full o' acid might be hard for some people. But I had faith. Apparently Forth didn't, 'cause he yelled somethin' all heroic like, "No! I'll save you!" and then there was the big ol' unmistakable poof o' some kind o' gas cloud goin' off on the other wagon. Forth cast some kind o' spell, then went silent, so I figured he was in there doin' somethin' stupid, and I had work to do. At least now I knew what kind o' trap I was dealin' with. Thanks, Forth! I guess...
I finally got the girl loose without her runnin' prematurely (you'd have thought she was elopin' she was so eager to get off that seat) and she ran off into the woods, so I kind o' smacked my forehead and just figured I might have to go after her, 'cept I hadn't heard any yellin' for a while so I needed to know what was goin' on.

For the most part, everythin' was in control. Llew had taken out all the guards with her adamantine spear. Guess it was a good buy after all. Maybe I should get a dagger! Alembic was surprisingly healthy, considerin' all the spears I'd seen the guards chuckin' at him, but he'd had a bunch o' Mirror Images up and they'd done their job right well. Forth was still hangin' out in the gas cloud, and bein' awfully quiet, and I was beginnin' to worry 'bout him, seein' as he had a habit o' dyin' at the most inconvenient times. Freya still hadn't come out o' either o' the wagons, so, with Forth obviously not lookin' my way, I just lit the one next to me on fire. And out she popped, like a little badger! 'Cept she was invisible, and most badgers can't turn themselves invisible, and the ones that can, well, you don't really see 'em, so you don't know about 'em. 'Cept maybe you'd hear their chittery little spellcasting, and...
...anyhoo, Llew could see her and yelled out where she was, so I kind o' ran in that general direction and she hit me with some kind o' bomb that hurt like the blazes. But once she did that, I could see her. And my hatred burned hotter'n any bomb she could throw. I was gonna KILL her here and now!
'Cept she ran into the cloud. Alembic, continuin' his streak of bein' right useful and helpful, dispelled the gas so we could see her again. Unfortunately, we could also see Forth, who was lyin' motionless on the other wagon. Again, Forth!?!?!? I swear, that man needs a "Frequent Dier" card from the temple! So Llew shot her up a bit, I ran over to distract her, she bombed me a bit more (which really hurt, but I wasn't goin' to give her the satisfaction o' lettin' her know that), Alembic hit her with some Magic Missiles, and then Llew flew over and stabbed her with the spear and dropped her. I was all ready to slit her throat, but Llew reminded me we needed to hand her over to the haunt. That was a better idea anyway, so Llew made sure she wasn't goin' to die, and we stripped her down and hog tied her and made sure her ride to meet her doom would be as humiliatin' and uncomfortable as humanly possible, without her dyin' from her wounds, of course.

I started goin' through her stuff and found all kinds o' fun alchemical knickknacks, and I love my party 'cause they let me pocket it all and don't say a word 'bout it. Once I was done with that, I started usin' Ornery to heal myself and he was feelin' pretty helpful and Llew went off to get the girls. Trouble is, Llew was pretty pissed 'bout Forth bein' dead again, 'cause apparently this time it was his fault for tryin' to save one o' the girls in a stupid way (he apparently set off the trap then cast a spell to take all the damage for her, but the damage was, "You die," so he died. Not bright, Forth -- costs just as much to raise her as it does to raise you, and you're better in a fight). So angry, indimidatin' Llew couldn't charm one o' the girls into followin' her, and so she left her out in the woods to die. 'Course, Alembic and Llew said the woods were perfectly safe and the girl could just follow the road home, but I've tried to follow roads before and it isn't easy! You spot a neat-lookin' beetle, and you try to catch it, and then there's a butterfly, and you think you see a deer, and before you know it you'd in the middle o' the wilderness with no idea where the road went or what happened. So I went over and got her before she could get hopelessly lost further down the road, usin' my big Calistria eyes, just in case.
So Llew was mad. Really, really, really, mad. Teeth-grindin', bad-guy-stabbin', gnome-smackin' mad. So I stayed pretty quiet and just did as I was asked, helpin' get the wagons turned around after the inevitable argument 'bout how we were goin' to get my tree out o' the middle o' the road (Alembic 'n' I said people could work their way around it, and she eventually acquiesced, 'cause that's a good word.) We rode silently back to the haunt, and Llew turned Freya Jeggare over to the spirits o' those she murdered in cold blood. They couldn't kill her, so Llew did them a favor and beheaded her for them, for Justice. They all started cryin', "Justice" and moved up with long knives to desecrate her corpse. It was pretty gruesome watchin' each spirit float up 'n' stab her, but I knew she'd earned it a hundred times over, so I didn't even look away as they did it. Once every spirit had had its turn, the haunt dissipated, and Llew wrapped up Freya's head for the bounty. We burned the rest, right where we'd burned the corpses of her victims. If she ever DID try to come back, there were a lot o' real angry dead folk who'd have somethin' to say 'bout it.

Alembic went back to his classless noble ways in sayin' that now we could keep all the goods in the wagons, but he was right; we needed to pay for Forth's resurrection, so we plundered them, figurin' putting their spirits to rest and losin' one of our own in so doin' it was more than enough payment. We headed back to Logas and talked about the possibility of reincarnatin' Forth instead of raisin' him, but he seemed to like bein' a dwarf, and we didn't know what the race change would do to his paladinhood. So another Raise Dead it would be. Llew searched the wagons and found some correspondence from Saskiya sayin' somethin' that basically meant she was on her way to raze Gillamoor. Which wasn't really a great plan, since it was already a ruins, but she was a Jeggare.

We spent the night at the now-unhaunted inn. didn't get attacked, and returned to Logas, now in a race to beat Saskiya to Gillamoor...

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At this point Forth's player decided that Forth, traumatized by dying so often, yet duty-bound to keep returning every time we raised him, would become an alcoholic. You'll notice Trig occasionally mention it, but I was playing her as the clueless gnome she is, so while Forth's player really got into it and it was pretty spectacular to see, I'm afraid Trig's journals don't reflect the scope of it because she just doesn't pay a lot of attention...

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^He really does need a Frequent Dier card. All those negative levels have got to be adding up . . . .

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

^He really does need a Frequent Dier card. All those negative levels have got to be adding up . . . .

Shiro was beginning to wonder whether he'd written the AP to be "too hard", but then he realized that our main frontline fighter was routinely running around with 3-4 negative levels, which was surely causing massive issues.

This one was just unbelievable, because it was ALL roleplay on the player's part. Alembic and Forth are played by the same guy. He had Alembic roll Bluff to try to fool Freya into coming out of the wagon, and then he had Forth roll Sense Motive to know that Alembic was bluffing. Since he failed, Forth assumed Alembic was about to drop an innocent woman into an Acid Pit, so he tried to grab her off. Unlike Trig, he was not competent at such things, so he triggered the Cloudkill trap, or instant death for the NPC. He used Paladin's Sacrifice, which reads, "When a creature in range is hit by an attack or fails a saving throw, you can cast this spell and the wounds and/or effects are magically transmitted to you instead of the target. You are affected as if you were hit by the attack or failed the saving throw, taking all the damage and suffering all of the adverse effects."

Well, death is an effect, so he just up and died. The NPC was smart enough to run out of the cloud and survive, but this was definitely a "roleplay death".

NobodysHome wrote:


At this point Forth's player decided that Forth, traumatized by dying so often, yet duty-bound to keep returning every time we raised him, would become an alcoholic. You'll notice Trig occasionally mention it, but I was playing her as the clueless gnome she is, so while Forth's player really got into it and it was pretty spectacular to see, I'm afraid Trig's journals don't reflect the scope of it because she just doesn't pay a lot of attention...

I had the GMPC I was running become borderline alcoholic as well, but more because one player kept telling Prostitute Tales (with the prostitutes being the type that fetishists would likely be into) to his fellow adventurers and she was fairly innocent so she started drinking to forget the stories and then started getting hooked on the alcohol. It also didn't help that Essanne had a low-to-average Constitution so she couldn't hold her liquor. ^^;;

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Last alcoholic dwarf in one of my groups was because he succumbed to a rage effect and berserkered his way through the entire party. After he came to his senses and saw the carnage he had wrought to *everybody* he retired to the closest tavern and became a fixture in the corner. And so ended the campaign.

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Session 21, Played 29-Jul-2018

We didn't spend a whole lot o' time in Logas, but we had to get Forth raised from the dead again (and no discount! Boo!), we had to sell off all the stuff from inside the wagons to pay for it (I have to admit it; Alembic's pretty good at all that rot), we had to turn Freya's head over to the mayor to collect our reward (he didn't seem particularly displeased that it was only her head), and Alembic had to shop around for a couple o' scrolls o' teleportation so we could get to Eledir and get Forth some proper healin' (no offense, Father Farrington, but you take too long), and then get as close to Gillamoor as we could (turns out Alembic never made it there, so he'd take us to just outside o' the town proper). So yeah, "A few minutes," became, "A few hours," became, "We'd better rest 'cause not everybody has their spells," so we spent the night at the Wanderer's Rest, put up our horses, got up bright 'n' early, then all gathered 'round Alembic in a big koom-bah-ya moment as he read from the scroll and the world got all dizzy and...
...we were someplace I'd never been before!

Alembic had warned us that the scroll might mess up and take us somewhere wrong, but once he looked around he told us we were indeed in Eledir, right in the marketplace. Pretty darned nice way to travel, if you ask me! Hey, Alembic! When are you going to learn to do that without a scroll? Just a baleful glare? That's OK! I'm used to it! So, Eledir looked "new", since I can't think of a better way to say it. All the buildings looked clean and new. As Alembic showed us around, we could see there were a lot o' different temples around. Azmodeus was still #1, but Cayden Cailean was #2, and that was perfectly OK with me! I might be able to find a bit of rough-and-tumble drunken entertainment 'round here, 'cept we were on business, and then we were teleportin' to Gillamoor, which, last I checked, had nothin' but a bunch o' underage horny human paladins lookin' for a good time. Which isn't my idea of the same, thank you very much! So Alembic steered us right over to a little outpost o' Torag, sittin' right there in the city proper! I've never seen so many beards! I think I could've grabbed about half a dozen kids and played hide-and-seek for a week without runnin' out of beard to run through. 'Cept for the danger fleas, 'cause I'm sure those beards have fleas, and I'm sure they're dangerous, so I've named 'em "danger fleas", sight unseen.

So, the outpost o' Torag. OK. Lookin' at the beards and imaginin' fun stuff to do with 'em was kind o' fun... for maybe 5 minutes! But the dwarves had to do their big ol' dwarven greetin' for Forth, and he had to do his big ol' dwarven greetin' back, and then he had to report on everythin' he'd done, and all the times he'd died, and all 'bout the Jeggares, and all that, and he had to do it all Lawful-like, I'm sure, which I'm sure made it take MUCH longer than it should've. But at this point it was hardly a "chase" of Siskya, and more like a, "I hope the town's still on fire by the time we get there, and not all burned out 'cause we took too long!"

But Alembic said we had plenty o' time because Siskya didn't teleport, and I wanted to argue but that would've interrupted Forth's Lawful reporting, and even Llew was toleratin' the whole thing, so I just juggled a bit, and played hide the knivesies, and entertained myself as much as I could in a temple o' Torag. Which isn't much. But at least the Torag guys wanted to show us how good the walls were and how well they'd keep out goblins 'n' other attackers, 'cause dwarves are proud o' that sort o' thing, instead o' just not sittin' still so you can't get attacked in the first place, and the thing that was most interestin' to me was how few places there were outside o' the walls. The Torag guys said it was 'cause the city was so new. I bet it was because the city was so unpopular. But I hadn't looked around yet, and I don't think that many Cayden Caileanites would stick around a borin' city, so maybe the Torag guys were right.

So, after all that, the Torag guys couldn't fix up Forth, but they said the Cayden Cailean temple might be able to, and my jaw just about scraped dirt. Did a dwarf really just send another dwarf to a temple o' Cayden Cailean? I mean, I know dwarves like their drinkin', so I can see 'em likin' that part o' Cayden, but after Forth's stuffy lawfulness, I didn't think they'd want anythin' to do with a fun god like Cayden. (I'm Calistrian, so I get to call 'im by his first name, y'know.) We wandered over to the drinkin' hall, er, temple, and saw all kinds o' construction goin' on. Especially a lot o' new mansions. I felt kind o' bad. All that effort just about to get destroyed by an invadin' undead army! Ah, well, at least they had jobs for now, and if we did OUR job their work wouldn't go to waste. We went, had our obligatory drinks ('cause that's what you do at a temple o' Cayden, and I wouldn't want to offend), paid the cleric, and suddenly we had our big ol' burly Forth back, good as new! It didn't cost everythin' we had, either, so we went shopping.

The first thing we noticed in the market was that there were a bunch o' outlanders. Weird accents. Weird clothes. And more than one gnome! It was too bad we were in a hurry, 'cause there were enough gnomes around that we could cause some serious fun! Instead, we focused on gettin' what we thought we might need. In the fight with Freya, I'd seen Llew usin' these cool boots that let her walk on walls, and I didn't know that I wanted the boots, but I found a wand that did the same thing. The spell's name was "Spider Climb", so I named the wand Spidey. I hope he(?) likes it! (And no, I didn't check, 'cause I know that got Ornery all sore at me!) Then there were some "Boots of Elvenkind" that I asked whether they had in gnome sizes just 'cause I was feelin' ornery, but they did, and not only that, the boots are s'posed to make you better at tumblin'. And they were all pink and frilly and had embroidered flowers on 'em and looked just like a little girl's pretty little boots. But they were my size, so I was sure they were made for gnomes, so I bought 'em. I started talkin' 'bout how I was lookin' forward to havin' dinner at a tavern o' Cayden Cailean, and maybe wakin' up next to a gnome or two I didn't know with a poundin' headache, when Llew reminded me that we had some paladins to save. Hah! D'oh! Savin' paladins is funny. Havin' to abandon a temple o' Cayden isn't. 'Cept Llew said we'd have to come back after we'd caught all the Jeggares to make sure the city was saved 'cause we hadn't found all the zombie-makin' stuff yet, so I felt better 'cause I'd be back, but worse 'cause it might be a zombie wasteland when I got here. Ah, well! Just means we have to hurry!

Alembic did his scroll thingy again, and we were on some road in the middle o' nowhere. 'Course Llew immediately said we were in the right place, 'cause she's smart that way, and it was around lunchtime so we had a quick meal, but Alembic didn't want to share any o' my food for some reason, so after we ate we decided to go into town to see what was happenin' there. I've got short little legs, so I convinced Forth to carry me. It was fun! And I'm lazy. So we made our triumphant return to Gillamoor, 'cept no one was there. We checked Herrick's house. Nobody. We checked Ellis' house. Nobody. We checked the old temple o' Asmodeus. Nobody. We were beginnin' to wonder whether we were too late, and we just couldn't tell "destroyed Gillamoor" from "undestroyed Gillamoor" when Llew 'n' Forth got the idea to check out the barracks. Sure enough, we found some guards from Logas there, but we didn't know them but they knew us. In fact, a couple of 'em were Farbridges and knew Alembic, so we guessed they were OK. They didn't know 'bout any attack, either, but they were happy we were there to help if one happened to come along. Turns out all Harrick's 'n' Ellis' people had stuck around long enough to wipe out the cockroaches, which was about 3 days, tops, then skedaddled to places they hadn't been trapped for 10 years. Couldn't say as I blamed 'em, but it didn't seem all that Lawful to me. I decided not to ask Forth 'bout it, 'cause he probably would've given me a LOOOOOONG explanation as to why it was OK, and I didn't need to hear it.
We talked 'bout where we'd be stayin' for the night, and the soldiers sighed wistfully and said there weren't any taverns in town yet, and then Llew got all poetic and said, "A town without a tavern is a town with no heart."
LLew can be surprisin' sometimes.

Since the town wasn't under immediate attack, we went 'n' visited Cinderella 'n' Grace. The bleachling still creeps me out, but I was polite, and Grace is always fun to visit. I climbed Thorn's tree to say Hi to him and show him Thorn (the dagger). I figured he'd approve. But it was kind o' depressin' so I stopped, and went down and visited his grave like I was s'posed to (*I* knew he was in the tree, not the grave, but big folk seem to like graves). Grace and/or Cinderella had been takin' good care of it, and it looked really nice and had all kinds o' flowers on it, then Forth started talkin' 'bout how you're supposed to put rocks on graves, which just makes sense for dwarves, and everybody just started talkin' 'bout what was proper on a grave and what it symbolized and I just kept my mouth shut 'cause I'm smart that way.

Since there were people in town we didn't want to see killed, we decided we'd go back out o' town and wait for Saskiya on the road. That way we'd hear her comin' in plenty o' time, and stop her before she even SAW Gillamoor, much less laid waste to it! So we headed out o' town. And we waited. And we planned. And we talked about poison. Forth said he could protect only one person. I figure we all knew who that should be, Mr. "I die to protect peasants I could o' raised for the same amount o' cash anyway". I was out o' trees, so we talked about settin' traps or diggin' pits or somethin' to keep her from gettin' away, but we decided Alembic's pits were probably the way to go, as long as Forth could manage to get any innocents out o' her wagons before Alembic did it. So we waited. And waited some more. And I ran out o' tricks to do. And tumbles. And fun things to eat. Finally it was dinnertime and she hadn't shown up. Apparently teleportation was a lot faster than horses. I guess I should've known that. But it was still boring. We set up a cold camp and spent the night in the woods. And y'know what? Nothing attacked us! I was beginnin' to get worried that all these things that weren't attacking us now were goin' to attack us later, when we weren't ready for 'em. But at least I got a good night's rest.
Forth said he'd watch the road if we wanted to go check on the town again, so we went in and I played with Grace in the graveyard for a while, 'cause it was a LOT nicer'n waitin', but a bit before lunch I headed back out. And it was a good thing I did!

Someone was havin' a hot lunch in the woods a few miles out o' town. Either that, or burnin' bodies, but there was smoke a ways off up the road. We decided to investigate, and headed up the road. Trouble was, much as I hate trees, it would've been nice to have some here, 'cause once we could see 'em from a few hundred yards off, they could probably make us out, too. Sure enough, Alembic, Forth, and Llew started castin' spells to prepare for the fight, and we heard them doin' it to. So we headed in. As we got closer, we could see a big ol' palanquin bein' carried by 8 near-naked guys. They were buff guys, but they had ropes 'round their necks and whip marks all over their tops that said they weren't carryin' the palanquin willin'ly. And that was a problem, 'cause Forth'd object to droppin' the whole thing in a pit o' acid. Poor guys! There was a fighter guy among 'em, and I'm sure he was plannin' on carvin' up Forth, but I had plans for his kidneys, 'cause fighters in helms don't see too well, so I was lookin' forward to meetin' him. Shieldy worked for me, and Alembic even gave me Bull's Strength so I knew it was serious. As we got close, some guy inside the palanquin finished castin' a spell and some tentacly, eyeball thingy appeared in the road in front of us. Forth tried to run up 'n' meet it, but Alembic just dropped it in a pit, 'cause who wants to fight an eyeball anyway? Apparently whoever was doin' it summoned a second one, too, but it didn't last long, either.
Someone said, "Take the paladin first. He's the most dangerous," which I almost laughed at 'cause they hadn't met Llew, but I was happy they said it cause it'd make Llew mad. I decided it was time to go show fighter guy the pointy side o' Thorn so I slipped into the weeds.

And oh, man! What a tangle! Turned out the weeds weren't such a good idea, 'cause I couldn't move in 'em very fast without cuttin' my way through 'em, and cuttin' through 'em wouldn't be all sneaky-like. So another fight, another period o' time with me wanderin' in the weeds. This time literally. 'Cept I could see a little o' what was goin' on, 'cause someone popped up a big wall o' stone, and I could at least see it. And apparently Forth was on one side of it and the rest of us were on the other, which would've been bad if Alembic 'n' Llew weren't already flying. And I was in the weeds already, and even the wall didn't go into the weeds, 'cause I figure walls don't like weeds either. Ah, well! Carry on!

I finally got close enough to pop out o' the weeds and stab at the fighter guy, but he was too well-armored for me to to anythin' to, so he and Forth just stood there tradin' blows with me standin' there. So Alembic gifted him one o' those watery balls and off he rolled! Speakin' o' poppin' out, some guy with a scythe just popped in out o' nowhere and hit Llew somethin' awful. Alembic Magic Missiled him, 'cause Alembic was showin' off how useful he was, and Llew cast somethin' that made me feel better, but Fighter Guy in a Water Bubble just reached right out o' the bubble and beat on me somethin' awful! Who knew? People were yellin' at me to do something, but I was pretty darned hurt so I stepped back from the ball and whipped out Ornery and healed myself a bit, and told Forth he ought to heal us, too. Forth was arguin' that if he healed now, he'd heal the scythe guy, so Llew solved that problem by chopping him right in half! Told you Llew was mad! So Forth healed us, and Bubble Fighter got healed too, but he was kind o' wanderin' off in the bubble so we weren't too worried. In fact, he finally got out and took to just runnin' away from the bubble, so we figured we had time with him.

Trouble was, these were some really poppy guys. Another guy, this one some kind o' sorcerer, popped out from behind a wall and hit me 'n' Llew with some lightning. Or tried to. I dodged it, and since I had Ornery out already, I gave Llew some healin' and then ducked back into the weeds to try to find any more poppy guys. Llew shot at the sorcerer guy, but he had a bunch o' those Mirror Images and she just popped a few. Alembic tried Magic Missile on him, but he was immune. Forth, since he still doesn't have a bow and sorcerer guy was flyin', healed us all some more. Which I really appreciated.
So the guy hit me 'n' Llew with lightning again, but I avoided it again and it just made Llew mad. I threw a dagger at him to pop one o' those images, and that let Llew fly up and whack him really well and he dropped. Alembic did more missiles at the fighter who was still runnin' from the bubble and he dropped.

Siskya'd seen enough and made her naked guys run away, but they weren't very fast, so we chased 'em down, she surrendered, and we stripped 'n' bound her, as is the tradition with Jeggares. I enjoy it. So, sure enough, the carriers were all slaves, so we set 'em free and I gave each of 'em 10 gold pieces to get themselves set up again. Llew tried to pay me back again, and I kept tellin' her that freein' slaves is a Calistrian thing. At least I think it is. I don't care. I like freein' slaves.
So we rode triumphant back into Gillamoor with Siskya all bound up 'n' such, and we met up with the soldiers and they all cheered and then they asked how we were goin' to get her back to Logas.


So we worked on it for a while, but the best they could do was send a message to Logas to have stuff teleported to us, and that would be ridiculously expensive and wouldn't get us any closer with Siskya unless we paid for a teleport scroll, which would be even more expensive. So the soldiers gave us 8 horses to get us to Logas on the double (no ponies?!?!? Guess I'll be ridin' in style), and Llew suggested that the slaves set up a tavern in Gillamoor, which the soldiers heartily approved of. The captain of the soldiers said that if they were in Logas, he'd have to return the slaves to their owners, but since we weren't in Logas and Gillamoor had no laws, he figured they were free. Smart captain!

So we took the fighter, and the sorcerer, and Siskya, and traveled back to Logas. We didn't take the dead scythe guy 'cause SHE was an Urgathoan and Llew just made sure she'd never come back from the dead again and buried her in a bunch o' holy water, which was just as well, 'cause I didn't like her much, even though I'd never met her. Or even figured out her gender when she was alive. It took us 10 days, but we got to see that the logging camp we'd un-haunted was still un-haunted and startin' to do real business again, and the various inns that hadn't gotten themselves killed by recognizing Saskiya. Trouble was, that meant the Jeggare parents had 10 more days to get away. We turned her in to the mayor and got to see her beheaded, and lightning-bolty sorcerer guy was apparently an accomplice so he got beheaded, too. Fighter guy was let go, 'cause I don't understand the law, but he didn't seem to hold a grudge so I figured I'd let mine go, too. The priestess of Urgathoa wasn't even on their record books, which made them all concerned but I figure I'm probably not on their books, either, so who cares?

After the beheadin', which I watched, a town guard showed up. Turns out Calum's house is haunted. By the spirits of his dead parents.

Ah, well, at least we won't have to go searchin' for 'em. 'Cept their heads, 'cause they're worth money!

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What level is everyone at as of this point? Just realized that Alembic being scroll-dependent for Teleport gives a ceiling (unless he's a Thassilonian Specialist with Conjuration as a Prohibited School).

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If my entries are correct (and there's no guarantee they are, since I didn't track level-up points), we went from 9th to 10th level at the end of the last session (session 21).

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Session 22, Played 12-Aug-2018:

What with all the head-choppin' that was goin' on and it bein' after dark 'n' such, and not wantin' to go in to a big ol' haunted house in the middle o' the night all half-cocked, we decided we'd go talk to Calum in the morning, figuring if he'd been alive for this long, one more night probably wouldn't hurt him. And even if it did, he could rest assured we'd deal with his evil spirit hauntin' his manor for free, just as a personal favor for messin' up so badly. The guards told us he was livin' in his brothel 'stead of the haunted house, which either meant he was horny or he really thought the place was haunted. Could never tell with these young humans. We told the guards to tell Calum we'd call on him in the morning and spent a nice restful night at the Wanderer's Rest, which just goes to show it's a good name for a place.

In the mornin', we didn't see Iggy, so we had breakfast and headed over to see Calum. Sure enough, he was at his brothel. But it was all shut down and there were no girls there any more. Which kind of eliminated the "he was horny" angle unless he was one o' those guys who just likes to be places where girls used to be, but he didn't seem like the type, and even though it was kind o' weird it didn't bother me all that much 'cause if someone wants to roll around in my bed after I've left town and get all hot 'n' excited over me not bein' there, who am I to argue? 'Course I hadn't slept there so I could be pretty sure he hadn't been thinkin' bout me, and then I started thinkin' 'bout him fantasizing 'bout the dead zombies, and that really was pretty sick 'n' twisted, and...

...Anyhoo, we met Calum. He thanked us for comin', and assured us the house was haunted. And Llew started inquisitin', 'cause this was undead stuff 'n' she's good at it, and asking him clever questions like, "What did you see?" and "What time was it?" And the funny thing was, it sounded like a classic hauntin', with visions of his parents in their younger days arguin' all over the house (OK, he said, "Bickerin' in the living room", but I figure they probably did it all over, and that kind o' explains the kids), and they looked solid enough, except he knew it couldn't be them 'cause they were still alive and locked up in the sheriff's office!!


Yep. Apparently Justine and Algeron had just come back into town the same day we got back, and 'cause we weren't involved 'cept in getting 'em convicted in the first place, nobody had thought to tell us! So Mayor Muskgrove had 'em scheduled to be executed tonight, which kind o' put a time limit on our investigation. And most things in life shouldn't be rushed: A fine meal. Sex. An investigation. A good hearty crap. Er...

Anyhoo, since I couldn't figure out how even the Jeggares could be evil enough to be hauntin' their own son in advance, as it were, I suggested that maybe we ought to go see the people who were in the prison and figure out whether or not they really were the Jeggares. Forth agreed with me, and you could've bowled me over with a feather! I may be gettin' better at this investigatin' stuff! So we went over and met Sheriff Farbridge (it was kind o' funny; he told me that he wasn't a sheriff, he was a captain, but I figured if he ran the town guard he'd be a sheriff. But I don't understand the law, so today he's a Sheriff). He didn't rightly understand why we wanted to see the Jeggares, but when we said Calum said they'd been hauntin' his livin' room Farbridge decided he'd let us in. What were we going to do? Kill them?

So Farbridge led us down to the cells and we saw a couple o' old humans. One was male and one was female, and the female looked like the picture o' Justine I'd seen in Stan's place. That was about it for my part o' the investigatin', so I sat back to watch Llew and Forth take care of things for me. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses if you're going to be part of a team. And figurin' out whether a couple o' old humans are really Jeggares just wasn't my strength. Trouble was, Forth looked at 'em in that way he does and said, "Yep, they're evil." Llew looked at 'em in that way she does and said, "Yep, they're Lawful." Alembic looked at 'em in that way he does and said, "They had magic on 'em before, but not any more." They said themselves, "Yep, we're the Jeggares," 'cept they were more formal 'cause Jeggares are annoying that way, and we were kind of stumped. As were they. They said that they'd just been conducting "business" down south and had no idea what this was all about, and were sure their barristers would have 'em out in no time. 'Cept they weren't out yet, and they were going to be executed that night. That kind o' put a damper on their spirits.

We told the sheriff, or captain, or admiral, or whatever-he-was that we'd appreciate it if he'd put off the execution 'til we were done investigatin', and he said somethingorother that didn't sound all that lawful or decisive, so we figured we'd better head over to the manor right quickly, 'cause the maybe-Jeggares weren't likely to survive the night. As we were walking over, Llew said that the maybe-Jeggares just weren't right; unlike most humans, whose faces are all crinkly and ugly and asymmetrical (like Alembic's), the maybe-Jeggares had perfectly-symmetrical faces, as if one half was the mirror image of the other. So Llew figured they were probably some kind o' mimicking demon and the real parents had been murdered years ago. 'Cept I told her I was bettin' it was some kind o' devil and not a demon, 'cause the Jeggares were all Lawful-like, and I had a short shut-up time while we got to the house, 'cause Llew doesn't really care whether they're devils or demons as long as they're evil outsiders who need to be killed, and I figure that's a perfectly reasonable attitude.

Once we were at the Jeggare place I figured I'd probably want to be walkin' around on the walls 'n' such, just to show my disrespects, so I pulled out Spidey and he didn't want to work on me! The nerve! I paid a lot of money for him! I tried again and he still refused, so Llew asked to borrow him. I handed him over and she handed him to Alembic and Alembic used him on me with no trouble at all, then used it on Llew, too! Hey! That's expensive! Spidey cost me a pretty penny! Llew promised to pay me back, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to have Llew runnin' around on the walls as well. Before we got any closer Llew put a magic circle o' protection on me 'cause she said I'd be the most likely to be runnin' off on my own, and I thought I'd argue for a minute and then I remembered that vampire guy who let me past so he could do just that so I figured it was a good call. And sure enough, the moment we set foot on the grounds somethin' tried to play with my mind and Llew's circle protected me and I was feelin' pretty good 'bout tradin' one charge o' my wand for some high-powered brain protection. There was a faint mist floatin' all around the mansion that was new, and I didn't think it was the kind o' thing that even rich folk could afford, 'cept maybe weirdos like Alembic who'd pay wizards to put permanent mist 'round their houses to hide their depravities, and suddenly that sounded more like the Jeggares I knew, but Llew said that no, the mist was part of a haunt, and since it hadn't been there yesterday it meant the Jeggares probably died recently; say, yesterday! This whole thing was gettin' more and more confusin', but I figured the Jeggares were dead, the fake Jeggares were goin' to be dead tonight, and whatever spirits were hauntin' the house would be re-dead once we were done with the place, and everythin' would be a lot less confusin' and a lot easier to investigate once it was all dead. Or re-dead.

So I cracked my knuckles and approached the door, figurin' it was time for some enterin' (I *never* break), 'cept Llew had Calum's key! Neat trick, Llew! Oh, he gave it to you? Well, less neat, but still, good on you! So Forth stepped in first, and so the first haunt hit him, and I figured it would be all kinds o' fun and we could all take turns and see what kind o' neat stuff happened to us, but nobody but Forth wanted to play, so I figured he 'n' I could take turns. There was a big ol' main room with a balcony and chandeliers and stairs goin' up and doors all over the place and all the fun stuff humans put in their mansions to entertain gnomes, So Forth saw an image of Algernon and Justine when they were newlyweds, buyin' the house and Justine sayin' it was too small and Algernon assuring her they could build a cellar and that bein' kind of a clue that the cellar would hold all the really bad stuff so we should save it 'til last, 'cause that's what you do when you're investigatin'. 'Cause I'm learnin'.

So o' course we started in on the rooms on the ground floor. The first one was a dinin' room with a single place setting and it was my turn so I jumped on in to see what would happen. So I got to see an image o' the family sittin' at the dinner table as Justine Jeggare berated some poor serving girl, tellin' her that she'd just served up a terrible, terrible puddin'; the worst puddin' EVER! I wanted to tell Ms. Jeggare that I bet I could do worse but I didn't get a chance 'cause some giant black slimy thing tried to engulf me! What did THAT thing have to do with puddin's? Fortunately, I was too quick and too small for it, so it just kind o' blooped down next to me, 'cept it was still attached to the ceiling 'cause it was all big 'n' stretchy 'n' stuff, like you'd expect. Alembic ordered me not to eat it under any circumstances, which was pretty evil of him, any way you look at it, so I figured I'd get him back when we weren't busy. He cast that spell that speeds us all up, and Forth whacked the ooze somethin' good. 'Cept how do you know when you're hurtin' an ooze? Plus, his hammer started sizzlin' like the blob was all acidy. I got all dodgy and took a little slash with one o' my cheap daggers, and the good news was that it apparently didn't like bein' cut, but the bad news was that its answer to that was to split in two, one on top, one on bottom! It ate my dagger, too, but they don't cost much at all. Everybody yelled at me not to do that again, as if I needed to be told. Well, yeah, I probably needed to be told. The two new oozes looked 'bout as big as the original, and it got me wonderin' whether or not I could slash it so often it made the room burst, or blew up, or somethin', but since Llew 'n' Forth were askin' me not to slice it any more I decided I wouldn't. 'Cept that made me kind o' useless. I wondered whether it burned. I yelled at Alembic to Fireball the room so we could find out. I figured he wouldn't think twice 'bout fireballin' me, and hey, standin' in a room full o' 'splodin', burnin', smokin', ooze? I'd been in worse! When I hugged Forth, I touched his beard. I still have nightmares.

Anyhoo, Llew started askin' what it was, 'cause she needed to know what it was 'fore she could inquisit it, but I didn't know that inquisitin' a big black blob would do a heck of a lot, so I just made sure I dodged well when it swung at me and kept yellin' at Alembic to blow up the room. Llew shot it and Alembic finally got mad at me and did it and the oozes stopped movin'. And stunk a lot. And smoked a bit. And kind o' resembled Alembic with a hangover. On the bright side, the Fireball also destroyed all the nice furniture and pictures and Jeggare stuff 'n' such, and so I was standin' there, not a hair singed, in a room full o' burnt Jeggare finery.

Sometimes it's good bein' a gnome.

Heck. It's always good bein' a gnome.

I had so much fun with that room that I insisted on doin' the next one, but it was just a pantry with a bunch o' hooks on the wall. I hung myself up usin' my Spider Climb, but nobody bought it, so it was a pretty borin' room. But the pantry *was* stocked, and that meant Calum really had been livin' here up 'til recently. Or at least *some* Jeggare had been. Since nothin' happened, I called the next room, and it was the female servants' quarters. It was pretty obvious, 'cause the beds were crappy and all pushed together, and the clothes were women's servants' clothes, and it was really dim 'cause the Jeggares didn't want to pay to light the rooms for the help. It kind o' made me feel better 'cause nothin' hit me again, meanin' none of the servants were dead (I guess; I don't really know how these things work, but not gettin' haunted by the spirits made me feel better all the same). We searched around and found a few coins, but I'm not the type to rob servants so I left it in place. Heck, if I'd've thought they were comin' back, I would've left some more. Since I'd gotten to do three rooms in a row, I grudgingly let Forth have his turn, but I got lucky 'cause the next room had a double door so we each got to open one! It was a small ballroom; the kind you tend to learn to dance in; not the kind you really dance in. I know, 'cause my parents taught me a little bit o' dancin' before the war, and they insisted on me learnin' a bit 'bout human dancin' in case I ever needed it, and 'cause it was funny to have a gnome dancin' in a ballroom, 'specially with one pocket full o' marbles and the other full o' grease, but that was long ago and kind o' painful. But Forth's a dwarf and didn't know here nor there 'bout a ballroom so I raced in and started dancin'. Yeah, yeah. I was bein' a hog, 'cause that was four rooms in a row for me at the moment, but I figured I'd let Forth catch up eventually. Somethin' hit MY circle o' protection and slipped off, so I got to see Justine beratin' the kids for bein' terrible dancers, but since I didn't get to see 'em I didn't know whether she was right or wrong.

Forth's room was the male servants' quarters. And the servants were there. 'Course, they were dead 'n' all, but they were all lyin' in their beds. Kind o' obvious they were goin' to be undead, and I was kind o' curious as to what kind they'd be, but it turned out they were pretty borin'. They'd been plannin' a revolt against the Jeggares, so they'd been killed and left to rot. Something hit Forth's Protection from Evil, then the zombies popped up and we killed 'em. Uneventful. I claimed the next room 'til we saw that it was a war trophy room with all kinds o' animals. I don't do well with animals; just ask Yellow. Speakin' o' which, I've been gone for a while. I hope someone's been feedin' him...

...anyhoo, I let Forth go in and he saw images of Justine Jeggare beratin' Calum for bringin' home a fine-lookin' deer, while Algernon was sayin' it was a fine catch. Justine was sayin' that Rufus had brought down a wolf and a boar "with his bare hands", and all of us who'd met Rufus knew that was a lie, so Llew figured Justine'd been payin' hunters to help Rufus catch things, and was sore that Calum could actually do somethin'. So as Forth went in the haunt hit him, and the magic folk said it had tried to turn Forth into a deer. Not a bearded gnu? Weird! But I bet Forth would've made a cute deer! 'Course, then I'd be stuck openin' all the doors 'cause no one else wanted to, but still, it probably would've been fun.

My room was a sittin' room, so I jumped on in, and Justine was yellin' 'bout lawfulness and behavin' and sittin' here for 100 years, and I felt older, and older, and felt the color fadin' out o' me as the years piled on, and a hundred years later I stood up again and stepped out o' the room feelin' less fun than I've ever felt in my life. I would've eaten a vomit capsule, but even that didn't sound all that fun. Llew was really concerned, which was really sweet o' the young lass, but I could make it on my own with my cane and my shawl. And some fire! I burned the rocking chair! It made me feel a little better, but no color returned, and I didn't feel any younger. Now I knew why Forth was so grumpy all the time! Pushing 150 is just old!

We kept searching and found the stairs down to the cellar, had a short discussion, and decided to to things proper-like by goin' upstairs first and doin' the cellar last. I said I was goin' to burn all the Jeggare's smallclothes, 'cause it'd made me feel better. Forth said I could only burn 'em if they were possessed. I started tryin' to think Lawful-like: Since Calum owns the manor and the other Jeggares are dead, he owns everythin' in it, includin' his siblings' smallclothes. So all their undies are indeed possessed! I'll make a lawyer yet!

Anyhoo, we went on upstairs, and the stairs weren't even trapped, which was kind o' disappointin', but I guess Calum's got a little o' Rufus' cowardice in 'im and doesn't want to get caught by his own trap goin' to the loo or whatnot, so whatever. The first room we found was the master bedroom, and it was beautiful! A great big four-poster bed, silk canopies, feather mattress; the works! So o' course I had to run in and jump on the bed, 'cause who wouldn't, and so I got hit by the haunt, but I didn't mind 'cause I got to jump on a big fancy bed. I got to see Algernon and Justine, presumably on their weddin' night or some such, 'cause she was done all up pretty-like, and I gotta say: I've spent some time in temples o' Calistria, where human dads are tryin' to teach their sons how to be "men" 'cause they have no concept o' what women actually find attractive, so the humans are always findin' this or that or the other excuse to pay for it when a gnome or an elf'll just walk in and say, "Hey, I'm horny and I didn't run into any willin' women on the way over here, so how's 'bout I make a donation and we both go away happy?"
A lot easier for all involved, if y'ask me, but human, they gotta be weird about it. Anyhoo, Algernon looked just like one o' those sons as doesn't particularly want the "honor" of bein' deflowered by a professional, but doesn't have the spine to say, "Hey, Dad? Piss off!", so he's sittin' there on the edge o' the bed lookin' like, "Well, I don't really want to do this, but I guess I have to," and I can't really blame him, what with Justine bein' irrevocably evil 'n' all, and that's kind o' a turn-off, but I don't think he knew she was irrevocably evil when he married her, 'cause that's one of the things you kind o' have to consider when you're gettin' hitched, but anyhoo, Justine cast everybody's favorite Unnatural Lust on him to get him in the mood, which is kind o' sad if you've ever used it 'cause it doesn't last long enough to really have any fun, but I guess she wasn't lookin' for fun, she was lookin' for heirs, and I guess it can last long enough for that. But the spell hit me, too, and I'm sure Llew would argue that it was her Magic Circle that protected me, and I'd argue that the closest livin' thing was Forth's beard, and the notion o' THAT thing was what protected me, but I'm bettin' it's cause I've been hit by that spell one too many times in my well-spent youth. Or maybe it was 'cause I was old and cranky. Or maybe it was the circle.

Anyhoo, the bedroom was so fun I just had to check the closets and the bathroom. The closets were pretty much what I expected: All kinds o' fancy clothes that were a few dozen sizes too big for me, and about 10% of them men's clothes to boot, and none of 'em lootable 'cause we were in Calum's house. But the bathroom! Oooh, the bathroom! The toilet was all done up like a throne so I had to run in, and o' course I got to see some kind o' haunt 'bout Justine threatenin' Algernon to never, EVER mention her age again, but I was actually kind o' sympathetic 'bout that one, so I think the haunt took pity on me 'cause nothing happened to me. But I was old, and I'd found a grand toilet, so I shooed the rest of the party out and used it. It was way too big, but it still made me feel like a queen. And a queen has privileges.
So I'd jumped on the bed, I'd gone through the closet, and I'd used the toilet, so I figured I was done with the room and we moved on.

The next bedroom was all neatly made and looked like a man's room with an attached bath. How could we tell it was a man's room? I dunno; it just was. Forth insisted that it was his turn, what with me bein' old and gettin' both the ballroom and the master bedroom 'n' such, so I think he was gettin' kind o' jealous. So he went in, and he told us he saw a vision o' Justine beratin' Calum and tellin' him never to beat Rufus again, and that he was supposed to lose at everything he did from then on. And then Forth started gettin' withered, 'n' pale, and started lookin' just like he does when we raise him from the dead. So we all kind o' sighed, 'cause we knew what it was, and we knew Forth'd be all miss-y and weak and would probably die again if we fought anything nasty, but he'd never admit it nor let me go in front or whatever, 'cause Forth's a good guy that way. But Forth's gotta be a master-class drainy guy. Maybe we start calling him Forth the Plumber? Anyhoo, the bed wasn't made and the bathroom had been used and not cleaned up, so either some squatter'd moved in, or this really was Calum's room and he didn't bother cleanin' up after himself before fleein' from the haunts. Now that's cowardice!

We moved on and saw a lady's room (I said don't ask!). It was really opulent, which means done up all fancy, except for the dead fox in the cage, which seemed like a really weird decoration in what seemed like an otherwise-nice room. So Llew took a look at the fox, 'cause she's good with dead things, and she told us it'd starved to death a few days ago. I felt kind o' bad about that; innocent creatures shouldn't suffer 'cause their masters are right bastards. O' course, innocent creatures shouldn't be locked in cages in any case, so that was just the evil o' whoever's room it was. Forth figured he was near dead anyway, so why not go in and finish the job, so he got to see a scene play out that kind o' blew all our minds. He saw Freya and her husband, all ready to go on their honeymoon, and Saskiya was the one who gave Freya's hubby the poisoned wine! Saskiya then leaned over and whispered, "And if you ever come back, you'll feel pain a hundred times worse!" Then she went off asking Freya why she'd just poisoned her husband! So Freya, Mistress of the Silly Hidden Veil, really hadn't poisoned her husband! She'd been framed by Saskiya, then convinced that she'd done it, then turned utterly evil! Boy, humans have weak minds! Or maybe the Jeggares are just so bent towards evil that the slightest little push'll get them over. Makes me worry 'bout Calum. But the haunt tried to poison Forth, but he's a stubborn sort and wouldn't let it, so we got out of the room pretty unscathed. The bathroom had a scene of Freya sobbing in the bathroom, saying, "It was supposed to be a love potion!"
I'd have felt sorry for her, but she'd turned too evil for that.

The next room we found was a sun room full o' plants, and we were pretty sure they were going to be evil, but we're kind o' stupid that way, so we sent Forth in anyway and watched all the plants attack 'im and try to grab 'im and shoot poisony thorns at 'im and all kinds of hilarity like that, and we didn't even get a show for all that trouble. So we closed up the door and figured we'd tell Calum not to use that room, and I used Ornery on Forth and I'm beginning to think Ornery's a "she" and she has a little crush on Forth, 'cause she worked on him again. After that we found a war room, which didn't make any sense to me, but Alembic said that the room was for ALL the houses to meet and discuss battle plans, such as how to lose to the goblins 'n' such. Forth kept on hoggin' the rooms and went in, and he saw a scene of Saskiya insistin' on workin' with the Mother of Wights to restore the family to power. Algernon disapproved because it would be wrong, and I was beginnin' to feel sorry for the guy. Justine disapproved because it wasn't Lawful. I hated her even more. Saskiya told them that she'd succeed over their dead bodies, and Forth got hit with another thing that he ignored. So I guess gettin' drained makes him tougher, not weaker. But he was still hoggin' all the fun.

We searched the room pretty thoroughly and found plans goin' all the way back to the goblin wars. Someone (either Llew or Alembic) found a map that had been altered to show fewer goblins than there were, leadin' to Algernon's humiliatin' defeat. Man, the man couldn't get a break! Our next stop was the library, which wasn't haunted, but which was apparently a really well-organized library. I don't really get along with pretty much anythin' well-organized, so it didn't impress me, but Alembic practically started droolin', and Llew started talkin' 'bout researchin' some o' the undead she hadn't been able to identify anywhere else. To each his or her own, I guess.
The library had a closet with a bunch o' magically-preserved books, including the family history. That one had a permanent preservation spell on it, but it was weird; we looked for all the Jeggares we were killin' and they were all there, but Callum wasn't. Llew looked at the book really carefully, and said it had been very carefully pulled apart, a couple o' pages removed, and then bound together again. Now that's some serious hate there; botherin' to take apart a book just to pull a page out. Why not burn the book? Who cares? Ah, well, I'm just a gnome...

So, since we'd already found Freya's room, when we found another woman's room we knew it was Saskiya's, so we knew it was going to be nasty, so I gave Forth a dose o' antitoxin to drink before he went in. He was a bit leery 'bout drinkin' somethin' I offered him, and I pretended to be offended, but everyone knew I was proud, 'cause I couldn't hide it. Forth got hit by some kind o' spell, but he shook it off again, 'cause drained Forth is tough Forth, and we found Saskiya's diary. 'Cause I think she wanted us to find it, 'cause she was too proud o' all the evil she'd done to not tell someone. We learned all kinds o' horrible stuff. Really, really horrible. She'd learned how to make "simulacrums" from the Mother of Wights, or at least gotten scrolls to be able to do it, so she could replace the whole family. She'd locked Algernon away over a year ago and replaced him with a simulacrum. She'd done the same to Justine a month or two ago. And Calum.

Aw, carp.

The guy we'd been working with all this time was a simulacrum, under the complete control of Saskiya! And it only got worse from there! The Mother of Wights had given her a formula for becoming a lich, and she had the whole thing planned out, all the way up to her own public beheading, which happened what? Last night? Two nights ago? Oops.
Other than her diary, which she obviously wanted us to find as some kind o' warning, there was nothin' in her room or her bathroom. So we went on to Rufus' room, and we knew it was his room before we even got there 'cause he was the only one left. The haunt was pretty tame, with Justine tellin' Rufus that all he needed was a good cook (damned cook), a good wife (how do you get a "good" wife by kidnapping 'em?), and a good house. Poor mama's boy took it WAY too far.
Well, we were done with the upstairs. I was old. Forth was drained. But it was time to head down to the cellar.

We braced ourselves, opened the door, and headed down...

So... somethin' pushed against our brains as we were goin' down. Forth kind o' staggered a little, Llew made a face like she'd just tasted somethin' she really didn't like, and I felt the steps go all wobbly under my legs, but I kept my balance. Alembic didn't. He fell right over practically onto me, and I had to dodge a bit to avoid him! I figured turnabout was fair play, so as soon as he hit the steps I hopped onto his back and started doin' a little step dance. I kind o' felt a little bad when Llew looked back and told me he was dead. Both 'cause he was dead, and 'cause he wouldn't be able to appreciate my little gag. I took a couple more steps, just in case he was just fakin', but he didn't move and he sure seemed dead now that Llew'd mentioned it, and I figured dancin' on your dead friend is probably frowned upon in some circles, so I got off.

The room itself was pretty disgusting, too. It was all done up like a cellar, with shelves for pickled vegetables and casks for wine 'n' such, but instead o' pickled vegetables there were all kinds o' body parts in jars, and they were alive. There were a pair o' eyes lookin' at us, and Llew said they weren't undead, and Forth said they weren't evil, but Llew didn't trust 'em so she shook 'n' swirled the jar somethin' awful, 'til we saw a stomach over in another jar start heavin', so through experimentation we learned all the body parts were connected. Llew covered up the eyeballs so they'd stop starin' at us and makin' the stomach hurl 'n' such, and we checked around for any kind o' information. Wrapped around one o' the bottles was a piece o' paper. It was Calum's page from the family records! So we suddenly realized that all these body parts were probably Calum, and that guy we'd been dealin' with was a simulacrum. Crap!

Llew learned somethin' even more interestin' from the page: Calum was the son from Algernon's first wife, which kind o' 'splained why he wasn't irrevocably evil when all his brothers 'n' sisters were, and I figured we probably owed it to him to figure out how to put all his pieces together again. And once we did, maybe he'd be able to help us get Alembic sorted out as well, though, lookin' at his body lyin' all peacefully on the stairs with a few gnome-foot-sized bruises on his back, he seemed restful enough.
And just because if its name was Jeggare, it had to be evil, we found out that Algernon's first wife had died under mysterious circumstances just before Justine came along. I swear, if you ever meet a Jeggare woman, just stab her! It's the only way to be sure!

Just past the cellar was a converted storeroom. It looked like maybe it used to be a root cellar or somethin', but now it had a feedin' table with some choppin' implements, a little chest, and a couple o' cells. Forth went in, 'cause I just wasn't ready to deal with whatever we were goin' to see down here, bein' old an' all, and, er, yeah, mournin' Alembic's passin' 'n' all. In the first cell was Algernon, all dead 'n' shriveled up. Llew 'n' Forth looked at him and he wasn't undead, just dead. He'd died from lack o' water. So yeah, Siskya had been keepin' her whole gosh darned family locked up or dissected or whatnot, all locked down here, while she made simulacrums of 'em to do her biddin'. Reachin' through the bars, in a gesture that would've been sweet if she weren't so evil to the core, Justine's corpse was reachin' for Algernon's. Or maybe he'd just died first and she'd been tryin' to loot his corpse. That seemed more in her nature. So, even though Justine was evil, she wasn't as evil as Freya had become, or as evil as Saskiya had been born ('cept perhaps in givin' birth to her), so we decided they both needed a proper burial, plus Llew thought giving 'em a proper burial would end the haunts, too, and maybe fix my old age and Forth's drainage. She didn't think it'd fix Alembic's deadness, but it was worth a try. So I opened the cells for 'em, Llew 'n' Forth bundled up the bodies, and Forth threw 'em on his back 'cause he can carry things like that. Which is why I ride him whenever I get the chance. 'Cause I don't think he really notices. We looked at the table and all got a little sick, 'cause it was obvious that Saskiya'd been feedin' 'em bits and pieces of Calum all this time, and all the organs 'n' such we found in the jars in the first part o' the cellar were all that was left of him! I sure hope Llew can teach me how to kill a lich, 'cause I know one that needs killin'. Along with a queen, but I figure I can probably kill one o' those. Though I should probably ask Llew about the "wight" part.

Our next order o' business was to check out the small chest, so I knelt down and put my hand against it and... it stuck! And the little chest started tryin' to bite me! I was lucky I was old 'n' bitter and not in a better mood, 'cause that kind o' thing would've usually had me rollin' around on the floor in stitches, and I would've been an easy meal. Instead I was all cranky so I dumped a bunch of alchemist's solvent all over the thing, and that got me loose and made it pretty mad, I think! Forth 'n' Llew hit it a bit, and Llew complained that I wasn't stabbin' it so I did and it died. I guess it had a weak spot in some low area I couldn't figure out. I looked inside to get my reward and found... guts!?!?!? Who makes a bitey chest and fills it with internal organs?!?!? What kind o' prize is THAT?!?!?
So I kicked it a couple o' times in a spot where I could tell there was solvent (it's purple, which is why I like it, and how I could tell), but it didn't make me feel better... much. A more thorough search turned up a book made o' human skin with ancient writin's on how to become a lich. Llew figured the Queen of Wights had given it to Saskiya as a gift, and now Llew had to see that such an unholy text was properly destroyed. I didn't disagree, and neither did Forth.

From there on, it was just clean-up. Forth carried out Algernon 'n' Justine, and once they were outside o' the house we all felt the haunts lift. But we were still going to bury them properly, because we're good people. Forth went back down and got Alembic 'n' all the jars, 'cause Llew didn't want 'em in her bags, and my bags aren't big enough, and then we "borrowed" a cart from the estate to wheel it all over to Father Ferrington's. I figured we'd done at least enough work to earn a cart as payment, but Forth was bound 'n' determined to return it, so we borrowed it. So, the first order o' business was to get Algernon and Justine all arranged to be properly buried, 'n' Llew 'n' Father Farrington dealt with all that. Then Llew asked Father Ferrington to raise Alembic and it turns out he wasn't dead! He was just inside the eyeballs in the jar! I started thinkin' 'bout Llew shakin' the jar and the eyeballs swirlin' and the stomach heavin' and just started gigglin' up a storm. So all Llew had to do to let him out was open the jar, so she did, and Alembic popped back to life! And started whinin' 'bout little gnome bruises on his back. I was sure it was Forth, and he was just mistakin' gnome feet for dwarf feet. It happens.

With the bodies all set and Alembic back to his grumpy ol' self, Llew wanted to go back to the house to study simulacra so we could decide what to do with 'em. It was boooooooring, and I was worried I was gonna age some more, but instead the opposite happened, and I turned back into my bright, beautiful self again! Woo hoo! Forth got better, too, and that made me happy! So I danced and sang 'round the library a bit, but when I started streakin' Llew told me it was quiet time again so I put my clothes back on and entertained myself climbin' around the other rooms while they worked. So, what Llew 'n' Alembic figured out was that Saskiya probably wasn't a good enough caster to create simulacra herself, so kind o' like I do she tried to convince scrolls to work for her, and 'cause she's evil they probably were scared and worked better for her than for me. It'd be awfully expensive, but she had all the Jeggare money at her disposal so she could afford it. It turned out that simulacra were permanent, lower-level copies o' people, 'cept they were under the complete control o' whoever created 'em. That meant that our Calum, and the elder Jeggares in the cells, were all simulacra and Saskiya could make 'em do anything she wanted 'em to. So they all had to die. I didn't mind, 'cept Calum, 'cause he seemed like a decent sort. So we had a real moral quandary, and this time Forth wasn't goin' on and on 'bout what the law said. Accordin' to the law, the Jeggares were guilty and were goin' to get executed that night. 'Cept now we knew they'd been prisoners the whole time and hadn't really done all that stuff, so it was kind o' mean to let it hang on 'em. On the other hand, havin' seen their past, and knowin' that Justine had murdered Algernon's first wife in order to get her claws on him, it wasn't like Justine hadn't done enough to deserve to be beheaded anyway. Plus, there was that whole undead army thing we had to stop, and pissin' off our allies by first provin' the Jeggares guilty, then innocent, probably wouldn't have gone over all too well. We decided that since the Jeggares were already dead, and Justine at least had already done enough to merit execution, we'd let things lie and not get anyone any more confused than we were. Since Calum was "innocent", we'd have the temple of Asmodeus raise him, as long as he was wililn' to pay for it himself, which I figured he would be, bein' inheritor to the Jeggare fortune and all.

So, plan in hand, we first went to Mayor Muskgrove 'n' told him all about Saskiya's plan to be a lich, and simulacra, 'n' all that, and he got all mad and stabbed Algernon, who dissolved right nicely into a pool of water, so he stabbed Justine, too. Which kind o' messed up the whole execution thing, but that was his problem now. We told him Saskiya was our problem. Then he summoned Calum, and we laid out the whole thing to Calum, and he took it pretty well, findin' out that he was a lie and had to die but we were goin' to raise his real self. Llew said the Mayor had all kinds o' underhanded thoughts like takin' our rewards back 'cause we hadn't caught the real people or seizin' the Jeggare property while Calum was dead 'cause it didn't have any rightful owners, but with a paladin and an inquisitor in the room he didn't try anythin' funny, and I didn't stab him. Go figure. So we didn't want to kill Calum 'cause he'd been right straight with us, so a guard did it instead, and I was kind o' relieved when we were right and he really was a simulacrum. We took Calum's body parts over to the temple o' Asmodeus, and I was kind o' surprised that Archbishop Blackburn was willin' to raise Calum, but I guess money talks, and Calum hadn't killed any of his relatives or anythin', so he was a pragmatic man.

The new Calum didn't remember anything, and was kind of a jerk, but he offered to pay us. I listed what I'd used in his house, and it was 270 gold and he paid me back, but Llew 'n' Forth held out askin' for payment, figurin' they could get favors later. New Calum really was a pain. I was sure he'd be best buds with Alembic. So we left. But he followed us. Kind o' cause he wanted to know what had happened. So we had to go back to the manor, tell him all about his lichy sister 'n' whatnot, and didn't get out 'til really late.

I was SO happy to hit the hay that I didn't think about anything when I went to sleep, which made it even more surprising when I found Calistria in my bed again, smilin' that smile that says, "Either I want you to take me now, or I'm about to stab you in the eye," and you can never tell which. So, bein' a sensible gnome, I figured I was 'bout to get stabbed in the eye and gave her a courtesy.
"Trig, my dear. Are you sure you're worshipping the right god? You seem far fonder of freeing people than of pleasures of the flesh... or the blade... Are you sure you wouldn't be happier with Cayden? Or maybe Arshea?"
Yep. She was gonna stab me. I knew it.
"No, your goddessship. You're my goddess, and I'm gonna make you proud! It's just hard to get all lusty with so many undead 'n' rotting things about, and I figure I've been doin' pretty well on the vengeance side o' things. And I know all this Lawful stuff must be buzzin' in your head, too, so freein' those as have been wronged just seems right. But if you want me to stop... nah. I'm not gonna stop. I have to free 'em. It's what I do."
She laughed. And oh, what that did to me! I'm just not gonna go there, 'cause even a gnome can blush.
"Then, little Trig, continue to enjoy my favor, and perhaps one day you'll find that you're charming enough to find yourself a suitor... or twelve..."

I woke up in the morning and started getting dressed. And my top wouldn't tie. And I looked in the mirror. And my eyes were even more purple and deep.

Damn it, Calistria! I can't afford to keep buyin' new tops, and you're going to throw off my balance!

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Trig the Gnome wrote:

Session 22, Played 12-Aug-2018:

{. . .} we decided we'd go talk to Calum in the morning, {. . .} The guards told us he was livin' in his brothel 'stead of the haunted house, which either meant he was horny or he really thought the place was haunted. {. . .}

He'd never been so scared and so horny at the same time.

Trig the Gnome wrote:

{. . .} She'd learned how to make "simulacrums" from the Mother of Wights, or at least gotten scrolls to be able to do it, so she could replace the whole family. She'd locked Algernon away over a year ago and replaced him with a simulacrum. She'd done the same to Justine a month or two ago. And Calum.

Aw, carp.

I need to learn more about this Mother/Queen of Wights. Because something is fishy here.

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In case anyone is wondering how the lockdown will affect my journals:

(1) Trig's campaign is already over, so I'll continue to try to post those journals weekly.

(2) The Strange Aeons campaign is family-only, so it will continue, likely with longer sessions since the kids aren't as overwhelmed with homework and GothBard no longer has a commute.

(3) We're going to try to do the Shattered Star campaign using Roll20, but Shiro doesn't care for it all that much, and it'll be Lara Croft Guy's first Roll20 campaign, so we'll see how they react.

Stay healthy. ^Sounds like a good plan to do so (well, except for the sanity part with Strange Aeons).

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Session 23, Played 09-Sep-2018

It took a little doin', but I managed to squeeze myself into my top and go out to meet the rest of the group. I wasn't the only one who'd had an "interesting" night; Alembic was ramblin' on 'bout how he he'd learned how to teleport us from readin' those scrolls. I figured he was just makin' stuff up, 'cause those clerics of Asmodeus had made me read all kinds o' scrolls and I don't think I ever learned to do anythin' from 'em, 'cept to pretend I'd read some boring old scrolls, but that's neither here nor there, 'cause now we had a way to get to Eledir before the whole town was sacked! Good on you, Alembic!

I looked expectantly at Llew 'n' Forth; I figured Llew'd be able to sprout fiery undead-burnin' wings o' smitin' and Forth's beard would have gained sentience, but I was disappointed, or at least they hid their cool new powers from me. So I had breakfast instead, since I figured we'd be headin' for Eledir as soon as Llew 'n' Forth were ready, and they seemed awfully ready. 'Cept they were wonderin' what they were goin' to do with their horses. I figured they should just do what I do and leave 'em wherever they happen to be and then pay the innkeep double once you remember to go back, but 'parently that's a "gnome special" that isn't available to "people who have sense". Glad that isn't me! Anyhoo, Llew paid the innkeep a few gold pieces to look after Bane, so I figured I should do whatever she was doin' 'cause she's smart 'bout such things, so I gave the innkeep 10 gold to look after Yellow and both he 'n' Yellow looked pretty happy 'bout the whole thing, so I thought o' using my new special gnome power to cuss out Yellow, 'cause that'd be fun, but I figured we were headed into a combat situation, and you never know when you need to tell a cow to get out o' the way or whatnot, so I spared Yellow my wrath.

With all kinds o' pomp and circumstance and pompousness and general Alembicness, Alembic waved his hands all about and made us touch each other (I touched Llew 'n' Forth, thank you very much), and told us he was teleportin' us to the marketplace and there was a flash and a poof and it all seemed really special and spectacular... 'til I looked 'round and were were standin' in the middle o' the Logas market. I didn't know whether to giggle or say somethin' snarky or yell at Alembic or what, but people were in danger and undead were runnin' amok, so Forth 'n' Llew were pretty keen on gettin' goin', so I kept my mouth shut as Alembic made excuses and said he was goin' to try again. If we ended up in Haugin's Ear I was gonna stab him, just for pissin' off Llew 'n' Forth so much. I guess the implicit threat o' gettin' stabbed was good for Alembic's concentration, 'cause the second time we popped in to the middle of a different market, and something just wasn't right.
'Cause there were screamin' people comin' runnin' from one direction, and a bunch o' guys dressed up all cleric-like wavin' their arms in the square, and the people were gettin' all calmed down, and then at the other side o' the square there were guards tellin' 'em where to go to be safe. And I didn't care. I was perfectly calm and happy. I could've followed the instructions. I could've followed Llew 'n' Forth. It didn't really matter. And I wasn't even all that mad at Alembic. In the back o' my mind, I figured the guys wavin' their arms around were doin' somethin' to me, but I just didn't have it in me to be mad at them. But I was kind o' interested in what the guards were sayin', 'cause they were sayin' that the castle and the east gates were all secure, but the west gates had fallen. I figured that was probably bad, but it didn't really matter. Llew picked me up like a sack and put me on her shoulders, and it wasn't nearly as fun as it should've been, but she asked directions to the temple of Pharasma and as she carried me away from the cleric-y guys I suddenly felt like me again. I would've struggled down and gone back and stabbed a cleric just on principle, but they were actually doin' a right good job of savin' people's lives, so I couldn't really hold it against 'em. Not their fault I'm easily-distracted!

The guard she'd asked directions from asked whether we were lookin' to help, and we said we were, and he said that the west gate had fallen to skeletons and they were gettin' word of families gettin' carried off and whatnot.

It was going to be a long day, and a lot o' undead were goin' to have to re-die.

I figured Llew was our undead-killin' expert, and she said we had to go to the temple first, so we went there first. People were runnin' and screamin' and I wanted to save every last one of 'em, but I'm only one gnome; the best I could do was trust Llew to get us where we'd do the most good and save the most people. Llew's good people that way.
The temple was just as bad as the market: Clerics out front calmin' people, pretty acolytes in front tellin' desperate people that the church was doin' everythin' it could, and an overall feelin' of, "That's not goin' to be enough."

I wanted to help the pretty acolytes, 'cause Calistria'd blessed me 'n' all, and they were obviously pretty scared, but I figured Llew'd need me too. We got inside and could tell that it was far more military 'n' organized inside, and we were headin' to the heart o' the defense, 'cept we got intercepted by some sergeant-at-arms or somethin' who wanted to just throw us into some company and into some meaningless battle where our talents'd be wasted, so Llew pulled rank and said she was goin' to see the high priest. Forth wanted to deal with the military stuff so I had to climb off Llew and onto Forth 'cause 'parently gnomes are distractin' and Forth and I met the military commander while Llew and Alembic went to see the high priest.

I have to admit, I don't know a lot o' what Forth 'n' the military guy talked 'bout, 'cause on the wall was a HUGE map o' the city, all full o' pins 'n' daggers 'n' markin's 'n' all kinds o' stuff just beggin' to get rearranged into pretty patterns, so I had to fight real hard not to do it. But I did hear that there was a HUGE army o' slow-movin' undead comin', and a few hundred fast-movin' undead already in the city, and they needed people to close the three western gates 'n' kill all the undead before the big army came. Now THAT sounded like somethin' we could do! And he was nice 'n' melodramatic about it as well; "If those gates aren't closed by tomorrow night, the city will fall."
I appreciated the drama. I figured we should go to the middle gate, 'cause that way we'd be closer to each o' the other two gates, but Forth said we had to go to the southernmost o' the three gates first, and I wasn't gonna argue, 'cause Forth knows stuff like that, and killin' undead is killin' undead.

We came out of our meeting and met up with Llew 'n' Alembic, who'd reported to the priest and didn't have much new news, so we decided to head for the southern gate. Alembic reached over to touch me, and I figured I'd let him 'cause usually he gave me some cool new power, and this time was no exception. He made me FLY! I flew around in a few circles and let out a few whoops, then Llew told me to come near and she cast somethin' that she said'd make us invisible to most undead, but it wasn't nearly as fun as FLYING!!!
OK. I'll admit it. Sometimes Alembic is pretty cool.

So we flew towards the south gate, makin' good time over the crowds o' people fleein' the other way. Which kind o' made me wonder: Why were there still people runnin'? I mean, I was pretty young when the goblins attacked Umok, still in my 30s 'n' all, but once we heard the alarm soundin' we all ran fast as we could for shelter; we didn't dilly-dally 'round tryin' to figure out whether to take stuff with us or get dressed or finish fornicatin' or whatnot; we just ran. 'Course, it didn't help all of us; my parents didn't make it. But I did. And so the people still runnin' maybe an hour after the alarm sounded kind o' made me angry 'n' sad at the same time. Didn't they know to just drop everything 'n' run? The river o' people turned into a stream, then a trickle. Then we saw somethin' that just wasn't right, no matter what you thought o' the intelligence o' the people who were so slow to run that they were still this close to the gate.

Scurryin' around the road like a bunch o' sick 'n' twisted animals were more o' those giant hands we saw way back in the caves near Haugin's Ear. For a minute I started wonderin' 'bout the tribe o' giants out there somewhere with no hands, and why necromancers didn't just animate the entire giant instead o' just his hands, but I figured they probably had their reasons, so there were a bunch more hands down there. And the minute the first hand scurried over and crushed one o' the runners all thoughts o' anythin' but savin' the people fled my head. I spotted the wagons they'd been brought in on, 'cause it was obvious someone was just lookin' to kill people, and I was tryin' to decide whether to stab the hands, stop the next batch o' people runnin' towards the hands, or burn the wagons (and hopefully anyone in 'em) but Llew fixed that by yellin', "Trig! Stop those people!"

So no doubts there. I flew over the people 'n' told 'em to stop, but they were too scared to listen, and I could see why, 'cause a few hundred feet behind 'em were a bunch o' skeletons with murder in their eye sockets comin' our way. OK. I couldn't really see their eye sockets at that distance, but they were skeletons, so I figured I was pretty safe in assumin' they were out to kill us all. 'Cause that's what skeletons do 'n' all that. So I had to land right in front of 'em and yell at 'em real mean-like to stop (the people, not the skeletons, 'cause I'm not dumb), and I felt bad but it kept 'em from gettin' crushed, and that was what was important. 'Course, none of 'em looked like the fornicatin' type, so I was wonderin' what'd taken them so long to get out o' the city, but my yellin' 'n' such had apparently messed up Llew's spell on me and some o' the hands were comin' my way. Or the people's way. But better me than them, so I went ahead and started dancin' and stabbed a hand, just to make sure it knew to attack me. It sprayed goo all over the place, but I was too quick for it. Alembic flew on over and I told 'im 'bout the skeletons, but he couldn't see 'em 'cause he's a dummy. Llew 'n' Forth weren't as fast as me, but they followed the hands and started in on 'em.

So I thought things were goin' real well, with the hands tryin' to grab me 'n' all, but a couple o' the hands were still after the people. Thankfully, Alembic teleported almost all of 'em to safety, and this time didn't take 'em to the Logas market, though I figure they'd probably've been safe there. Unfortunately, one o' the guys who got left on the ground got crushed somethin' awful; I could hear bones breakin' and everythin'. But the rest of 'em were on the top of a building a bit away, and two of the hands went off to try to climb the building. Llew 'n' Forth helped me finish off the four that were with me, Forth healed the guy who'd gotten crushed, and Alembic greased the walls o' the buildin' he was on to keep the two that were chasin' him from climbin' up to get him. They gave up and came after us, so we killed 'em, too.
The people were all terrified 'n' such, but we couldn't put 'em down yet, 'cause the skeletons were comin'. It was a batch of over a dozen skeletons in armor, 'n' Llew said they were "skeletal champions" 'n' they'd cut us up pretty bad, but Alembic said he'd put 'em in a pit (talk about a one-trick pony!) so he did and all but one of 'em fell in, so Forth helped the last one over the edge.

Hate to say it, Llew, but nope, they didn't cut us up at all.

So Alembic got all the people he'd saved off the roof, and we told 'em to skedaddle towards the center of town, and they didn't need to be told twice, so we checked the wagons (no one there, all the horses dead, and everythin' else you'd expect o' some soulless necromancer), and moved on towards the gate. Well, we *almost* moved towards the gate, 'cept Forth didn't want us movin' on while there was a great big acid-y pit in the middle o' the road, so we had to wait a little while for it to go away. It didn't take long, and all the melted bones and weapons and armor were pretty funny 'n' all, but I was eager to get to the gate 'n' stop the killin'.

As we got there, it was obvious we were too late. There were torn up town guards 'n' clerics o' Pharasma strewn all over the ground like broken dolls. A few people were lyin' around, moanin' on the ground, all 'round the wide-open gate, 'cept it was obviously a trap 'cause there was a big floatin' skeleton husk thing among them all. In its rib cage was some hideous little critter, strugglin' to get out. Kind o' my size, but a lot uglier and more evil and undead-y. So... dead people everywhere, moanin' people lyin' around in an obvious trap, big friggin' skeleton-in-skeleton thing like some kind o' twisted kids toy... yep. I used Shieldy, 'cause I'm not stupid.

Trouble was, neither was big 'n' ugly. He saw me movin' in all cautious-like and reached down and touched one o' the moanin' people and the guy screamed somethin' awful for a minute and then stopped movin'. They weren't a trap! They were hostages! Llew wasn't goin' to take that from anyone, so she flew right in and got smacked pretty hard for her efforts. I can't says as I blame her; if I hadn't been screwin' around with Shieldy I'd've been right in there with her. She yelled out that the guy was a drainer, which was just all Forth needed, so I figured I needed to go in and be a distraction so he could get in. But Forth was too quick on the uptake and got up in his face, so there I was, watchin' my two favorite people in the world 'bout to get pummeled, and I figured I needed to do somethin' to save 'em, so I hit ugly in the face with a smoke pellet. Unfortunately, he just stepped on out and raised all the dead bodies around him as zombies. Fortunately, Alembic had been waitin' for just such an opportunity and dropped a Fireball on the lot of 'em, and they all died, and even the little thingy in the cage withered and wailed and faded away. Nice one, Alembic! I danced around to his back, and I figured we'd make short work of him, but he reached out and tried to tear out my soul! No; I'm not exaggeratin'! He just started rippin' it out o' my body like it was some kind o' handy tissue! It hurt like you wouldn't believe! So Llew 'n' Forth were left to fight him as I had to run away for fear of my very soul. Not by proudest moment!
Even after I was well out of his reach, he gestured at me and drained me even more! The bastard! Alembic, bless his heart, turned me Invisible, so I started usin' Ornery on myself to start tryin' to recover, 'cause I didn't like Llew and Forth's chances against him. Fortunately, I underestimated Forth. He Smote Evil on the bad guy (I'd totally forgotten he could do that) and ripped into him, and so did Llew, and once I was out o' the fight he just whacked them a couple o' times, but Llew's "no drainy" field protected 'em, and they made short work of him. When he died, a whole bunch o' souls went runnin' free (thankfully not mine) and we heard, "I have failed my mistress."
Damn right you have!

I kept healin' myself while Forth 'n' Llew made sure the right kinds of bodies were on the right sides of the gates and closed it up. The people who'd been moanin' healed up right proper, so we could have them start mannin' the gates. Ornery worked real well for healin' me for a while, then got tired so I started usin' the other wand (needs a name), then they asked me to make sure no undead'd be able to open the gate so I got to work and had Forth use Nameless on me 'til I was all healed up. He went a little overboard, but in cases like that, better over than under, in my mind.
So, all healed up and with our first gate closed, we flew back towards the center of town to report. Llew was lookin' a little peaked, but I was hopin' the clerics at the town hall'd be able to cure her right up. Sure enough, we flew back to the town center, and they were really happy we'd closed the gate, 'cause it was the only one to get closed so far, so we were ahead o' everybody else in gate-closin', and then Llew had me ask 'em to fix her up using my Big Eyes, and it worked, and they fixed up Llew. 'Course, they also offered to heal us all up, makin' me feel rather sheepish 'bout usin' all those charges from Ornery, but then again, I probably would've wasted 'em some other time on some horrible practical joke gone wrong. Now I didn't have to work as hard to figure out exactly what that joke would've been. The head cleric kept callin' me a little boy, but I figured he was either near-sighted, stupid, or senile, and I've learned you're not s'posed to point out any o' the three, so I let it go.

Forth asked about what was goin' on with the westernmost gate, which was kind o' strange to me 'cause it meant we were doin' 'em in some kind o' random order, which was nice 'n' all, but didn't fit my picture of Forth's Lawfulness at all. Did I miss something? Did he get hit really hard in the head by the soul-sucker? Anyhoo, the cleric said we'd be dealin' with big undead bats, and we all knew 'bout skavelings when we heard it, so I figured I didn't want to get carried off today (Alembic's Fly had worn off by then. I didn't check whether his fly had worn out, too, 'cause I didn't want to know). I started greasin' myself up and the cleric started sayin' I could stay with him to be "safe". Yeah. Old cleric. Thought I was a young boy. Wanted me to stay with him. Nope nope nope nope nope. I've heard those stories, thank you very much!

So we wandered on in, and started seein' signs o' bodies that had been killed by skavelings, 'cause Llew knows these things, and we saw a few skavelings flying about, and LLew said we had to make sure we took care of all the bodies 'cause otherwise they'd all rise up as ghouls at midnight. And that right there is another reason I hate undead. They can't be happy with comin' back from the dead just once. They gotta keep comin' back, and bring a bunch o' others with 'em in some kind o' giant undead reunion party, which'd be OK if they just got together and had a few drinks and ate some carcasses and stunk up the joint or whatnot, but noooooooo, they always have to go out and try to kill livin' people, 'cause that's just what they do.
So all undead need to die. I'm startin' to see where Llew comes from.

Anyhoo, Alembic decided to say, "Hi," to the skavelings with a Fireball, and they didn't like that too much so they came after us. I figured I hadn't been much use in the last fight with 'em, so I shot one with an arrow just to make sure it didn't do any good, then I started dancin' around and thinkin' mosquito-like thoughts and tryin' to get 'em to attack me 'stead o' firebally Alembic. Didn't do a lot o' good, but they did fly in close enough for Forth to whack on 'em (get a bow, Forth!), and Llew shot 'em a lot more effectively than I would've, and Alembic did some sorceror thingies that hurt 'em (the coolest was when he caught himself on fire. I was kind o' disappointed it didn't burn him even a little. At least his eyebrows should've singed of)), so all in all my dance didn't do a heck of a lot, but didn't hurt anythin'.
So the skavelings weren't much of a chore, but cleanin' up after 'em, well, hoo boy. Alembic and I had to wander all 'round, lookin' for bodies of those that had been killed. Then we had to call over Forth and Llew, 'cause they had the big weapons that could behead all the people. We talked a little 'bout draggin' 'em all to one place and burnin' 'em all, but there were DOZENS; maybe even over a hundred! My campfire bead is handy 'n' all, but it's a campfire bead, not a 'massive raging inferno burn a hundred bodies' bead. Though I'll have to find out whether one o' those is available. Sounds fun!

We kept goin' towards the gate, and saw that someone'd had the same idea as us, as there were lots o' beheaded corpses around. 'Cept Llew said they'd been beheaded while they were still alive, so either we had really stupid assistants or we were dealin' with more undead that did nasty things. Sure enough, as we were lookin' at the bodies, around the corner came three headless goblins, ridin' three giant undead dogs.

I hate dogs...

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Session 24, Played 16-Sep-2018:

I asked Forth if he was OK if I climbed up onto the roofs, 'cause I don't do well with dogs, and he gave me that long-sufferin' sigh and said, "You do what you need to do, Trig."

Which probably meant he didn't want me to do it, but I figured he's a lawful sort, so I should do what he says, not what he means, so I ran on up the wall 'cause dogs. I figured if I was shootin' from the rooftops I'd need to be extra-sneaky, so I drank my potion o' bein' teeny. Alembic looked at the undead headless goblins and said they were the 3 goblin generals who led the goblins in the Goblinblood Wars, so now I had to kill 'em. Just had to figure out how to get 'em away from their dogs. Llew climbed up the buildin' opposite me, 'cause I guess she didn't like dogs either, then Alembic teleported himself and Forth onto that roof. So we were one big happy roof family. One o' the goblins said to the others that we were the "heroes" they'd been told about, and they should go get reinforcements. Yeah, I speak Goblin. The Goblinblood Wars taught us gnomes a lot o' things. And I don't wanna talk about it. What I want to talk about is, how could they talk with no heads?!?!?!? It didn't make any sense! 'Cause they're ridin' around on these mangy undead dogs, carryin' around their big swords, but they've got no heads! So how can they talk?

Anyhoo, they left and we were left standing there feelin' pretty sheepish on the rooftops, 'cept I was a pretty itty bitty sheep, but we figured we should probably follow 'em, so I ran along and jumped to the next rooftop. And hoo, boy! When you're 6 inches tall and tryin' to jump 10 feet it feels kinda like flyin'! It was all kinds o' fun! I guess Alembic got inspired by watchin' my flight 'cause I heard a big ol' "thud" and turned back an' saw Alembic lyin' face down in the dirt. Guess he knows I keep a journal, 'cause he said, "Don't you DARE write about that!", but I knew he was only kiddin', 'cause that's exactly the kind o' stuff you're s'posed to put in a journal. Now if only his pants had gotten stuck on a nail at the top o' the building, and he'd ended up hangin' upside-down and pantsless in the middle o' the street, now then I'd've had to draw a picture, and I'm not very artistic but I think I could've done a decent job. But he didn't, so I didn't.

Llew, Alembic, and Forth moved up the street, and I stayed on the rooftops, then Llew stopped 'n' whispered somethin' to Alembic 'n' Forth, and gestured to me that the three little buggers were just hidin' 'round the corner, and hadn't run off at all. 'Course, callin' 'em little in my condition was a bit presumptuous of me, but they couldn't hear me. I guess Llew 'n' the others decided to lure 'em out, 'cause they started movin' forward carefully, waitin' for the goblins to strike. I ducked down and got my bow ready. I figured once I'd shot down all the dogs I'd go down and help.
So Round 1 went to the goblins and their dogs. They went ridin' by, hittin' Forth with their swords as the dogs carried 'em past, and neither Llew nor Forth laid a weapon on 'em, and I could tell they weren't close enough for me to do any good with my bow. Llew, Forth, and Alembic took cover in an alley, so the buggers buggered off again. As Llew 'n' Forth were discussing what to do and getting themselves into a better tactical position for the next attack, they heard skittering, and Llew said it was only the dogs; the goblins were missing! Fortunately, the dogs weren't as smart as the goblins (which is pretty impressively stupid, if you ask me) so they just ran up and tried to attack Llew 'n' Forth. I shot one, Llew 'n' Forth carved 'em up, and Alembic did some magic things to 'em. The goblins'd been tryin' to sneak up, but saw their dogs gettin' all cut up and ran in, and they got cut up, too. I tried to shoot a second dog, but you try poppin' up over an eave when you're only 6 inches tall! I got the bow all wrapped around a knee and pulled something somethin' awful! I had to use Nameless just to stop the hurtin', so by the time I was done flailin' around on the roof there wasn't much left to be done; Alembic had one of 'em in his big watery bubble thing, and Llew 'n' Forth had carved up the rest of 'em. I couldn't even shoot bubble bug 'cause the water'd've stopped my arrow. All that was left was to burn 'em, 'cause we couldn't exactly cut their heads off 'cause there weren't any. So Llew was cut up pretty bad so I used Nameless on her while Forth was healin' himself up. Nameless was behavin' really well; I think he knew we were in a bit of a scrape.

We moved on to the gate, only to see another goblin there, this one in full plate mail. From the number o' dead guards 'n' clerics lyin' around the courtyard, this one wasn't to be trifled with. Sure enough, Llew said it was another graveknight o' the type that killed Forth once before. (I know, I know, a lot o' things have killed Forth. But this was one of 'em.) He was standin' across a HUGE courtyard and he had a bow, so it just looked right stupid to try to charge him. So I pulled out a smokestick and threw it as far as I could and we ran to hide behind the smoke. Alembic wasn't as fast as the rest of us, which kind o' surprised me 'cause my legs are pretty short, so the knight shot at him but it whinged off some o' that magic protection he's always got up. Nice one, Alembic! I followed Forth and Llew to just behind the smoke and used Shieldy on myself, and I think my wands were pretty upset 'bout the whole "undead sackin' the city" stuff 'cause they were just workin' away with no complaints. 'Cept Ornery. Who was on time-out time in my Handy Haversack. I might've put him in my manure container by accident, but hey, I already used the manure, so it's OK, right? I didn't hear Ornery complain! Llew 'n' Forth moved through the smoke as Alembic shot some magic stuff at the knight, and I heard Forth get whomped on somethin' awful. From the amount o' blood that spewed into view, I'd've thought Forth was dead 'cept he was yellin' so much I figured even an undead couldn't make that much noise. I figured they needed my help fast so I ran through the smoke so I could see and Alembic came 'round and made us all fast and Forth 'n' Llew carved that knight up like, well, like, well, well, like some undead abomination that'd killed Forth and offended Llew's very goddess. So yeah. I just kind o' stood there. But I was standin' fast.
So, two fights, two times I just ended up standin' 'round watchin' mop-up. Llew could tell I was upset, 'cause she's good at that kind o' thing, so she said I'd done a really good job with the smokestick. Which is kind o' a compliment, since anyone can throw a smokestick, but only a gnome'd be carrying a whole smorgasbord o' alchemical gear in her pack. And a wand. In a manure jar. 'Cause it was bad.

Speakin' o' wands, since I didn't need to use mine Forth told me to "make sure no one can open the gate." When he kind o' looked surprised when I broke out the alchemical glue at the end of it all, and Llew was doin' that little smirk she does, I figured I'd done a good enough job. But I figured even with the solvent in my pack and my tool kit it'd take me quite a while to get that gate open again; I'd go over the wall instead. So job well done, Trig! By the time I was done they'd done some healin' and were discussin' whether or not Llew should send her raven to let the priests know we'd closed a second gate. Seemed kind o' silly to me, 'cause we were gonna go back there anyway, but she seemed to really want to use the raven, and I didn't see any harm in it, but Lawful Forth had to go and keep askin' her why she should do it when we were goin' there anyway, so she gave up and put her little silver raven away. I figure she'll get to use it later. We went back to the center o' town, and when we got there, a bunch o' the soldiers saluted us, and we got some applause. I figured they'd finally heard 'bout the first gate, but it turned out they'd had spies watchin' the second gate, so they knew we'd taken out two of the three gates. The head cleric was all grateful 'n' such, but I was wonderin' why he was in charge when he asked us whether we were sure we should go to the third gate without restin' first. Gee... put OUR lives on the line, or risk the entire city 'cause Alembic needed a nap? Didn't seem like much of an option. And it wasn't just Alembic; Llew 'n' Forth needed rest, too, but the people needed us more. And I'm just that kind o' girl. I did ask for him to heal up my leg, and he looked a bit taken aback that that was all I needed, so I asked 'bout alchemical supplies but o' course it was a temple o' Pharasma and not a funhouse supply shop, so they didn't have anythin' that would've been useful to me. Llew dumped the graveknight's armor on him, 'cause he was s'posed to know what to do with it, and the expression on his face was kind o' fun, but we were in a hurry so I didn't get to savor it for too long.

We headed for the third gate quick as you please and heard laughter up ahead. Llew got that look that said she was about to tell us somethin' bad. Sure enough, the only undead she knew of that made people laugh was the "harianaggo", an undead woman created when an innocent girl was murdered. Both me 'n' Llew wondered why you didn't find one o' these on every street corner of every city, but I guess undead have rules, too. Anyhoo, these critters giggle at you and paralyze you with laughter, and if that doesn't work they've got a couple of claws that can do it, too. They have living hair (I hate living hair!) with hair barbs that make people bleed. They can cast Unnatural Lust at will. I was beginnin' to wonder whether Llew was talkin' 'bout a stray Calistrian or an undead. But she finished it up with how they like to paralyze people with laughter, then make 'em bleed out while they're lyin' there laughin'. That's not Calistrian at all; at least not much unless someone was really a jerk. But the bad news was, we heard multiple people laughin', so we had to hurry. Llew wouldn't let us race in without protecting us: She put a circle on Alembic and protection on me before she let us try to save the people. I don't know how he manages to control Forth, 'cause if I'd've said that he would've run off anyway, but we got to the inn where we heard the laughter and Llew threw open the door, Forth ran in and channeled to try to save those he could, and she laughed one of the most beautiful laughs I've ever heard. I felt my mind goin' under, but then I felt Llew's spell protect me. I owe you one, Llew! Unfortunately, next thing you know she's hit Forth and paralyzed him, hit one o' the downed innocents and started him bleedin', and hit Llew and started her bleedin'. Pesky sort!

Since I was way in the back and I knew Llew could help Forth if she wasn't bleedin' all over the place, I used Nameless on her and he worked again! Good Nameless! Alembic shot her with some burny stuff, which made her stinky and less funny. Llew fixed up Forth and Forth hit her a bit, so she went and hit Forth again (this time he was ready for it and didn't freeze), tried to hit Llew again (this time she was ready for it and dodged), and hit another of the downed guys! Alembic burned her again and she dropped, so I raced over and used Nameless on the guy she'd just hit. And he worked! Good Nameless! Llew tried to cut her head off and she popped back up! Sneaky devil! She'd just been playin' possum! So Llew and Forth beat her to death, which was kind o' funny, 'cept standin' there lookin' at Thorn all clean and shiny for the third time in a day felt kind of awkward. Llew knew it, too, 'cause she thanked me for healin' her and said I'd done a right good job. O' standing there. And usin' wands. I'm like a low-rent version of Alembic. Next thing you know I'll be fallin' off roofs.
Llew cut her head off for real this time, and I stuffed some garlic in the hole. Not so much 'cause I thought she needed it, but 'cause I've been carryin' it around for a few weeks now and it's startin' to get kind o' nasty, so I figured that was a good place to throw it out without anyone sayin', "Hey, Trig! Why are you dumping rotten garlic all over the place?"
It works.

Of the 3 guys we found, two were still alive, and we sent 'em back towards the center o' town. Forth wasn't happy we'd lost one, but I have to side with Llew on this one; I'd've been rolling on the ground for hours after that giggle. We moved on and found a street full o' zombies. But this one was done all clever-like: There were half a dozen still-living victims (Llew told me, 'cause I couldn't tell), a bunch o' zombies among 'em, and a mohrg skeleton-intestine-tongue-thingy guy standin' amidst the whole lot. Llew told us he was doin' it 'cause every one o' those victims he killed would heal him and pop up as another zombie. And since Alembic couldn't fireball a bunch o' innocents he figured he had us. Fortunately, he doesn't know us very well; we don't know what we're doing any more than he does! The morhg moved towards us to stand over one o' the victims, so I threw a smokestick behind him to hide the rest. That's when Llew told me its tongue couldn't go out more than a couple o' feet, so I'd just wasted my smokestick, but I figured it'd been worth a try. And if that mhorg really COULD use its tongue like that, well then, I would've been a genius! Llew went up and whacked it to distract it so Forth could drag the victim out from underneath it, and Alembic put a big pool o' grease under the entire thing, just so we'd get almost every kind o' stink in one place. Now if I could only get one of 'em to vomit...

Anyhoo, the mhorg made the mistake o' grabbin' Llew, so she taught it what happens when a man makes unwanted advances on her. As the bits and pieces of mhorg fell to the ground, Forth 'n' I helped wipe out the zombies. So yeah, I finally stabbed something with Thorn. A zombie. I did not celebrate. But we did save all 6 people, so that WAS worth celebratin'. We were doing WELL!

We didn't run into anythin' else untoward until we got to the gate, where we saw a bunch o' people hangin' from webs, and a bunch o' webs holdin' the gate open. There were dead husks o' people on the ground, so I figured big spiders. I didn't see anythin' at first, but Llew pointed out the half-dozen big ol' spiders waitin' for us to come in, and I started tryin' to think of a plan to lure 'em to us instead, and used Shieldy, just in case. I handed everyone antitoxin, 'cause spiders, and waited to see whether Llew had a plan for us to lure out the spiders. 'Cept I travel with Forth, and there isn't much lurin' you do with Forth. He just rumbled on in and cut down the first hangin' victim, 'cause it's what Forth does. So yeah, plans? Those are for sissies!
The spiders acted exactly according to our "plan" and webbed up Forth and moved in to eat him. Since the spiders were gracious enough to all gather, Alembic fireballed 'em all. He's got some fancy staff that lets him exclude his friends, so it was kind o' neat seein' all the spiders burn, but none of the victims nor Forth. I pulled out an alchemist's fire, and Llew said it wouldn't be enough to burn Forth free so I tossed it at a spider instead. Didn't seem to do much, but I do like watchin' spiders burn. I didn't get to see what Llew did 'cause the spiders started beatin' on Forth somethin' awful. I don't know whether he lost more blood against the grave knight or the spiders, 'cause I didn't get to see him get hit by the grave knight, but he did go up like a gusher. I swear, if there's ever a need for blood in a city, we can just donate Forth. Alembic hit 'em with another fireball, but none of 'em dropped. I ran in to help and finally got in a good stab on one, but it didn't drop, either. I yelled at Forth to curl into a ball and protect himself, but he channeled energy instead. And three of the spiders died! Llew killed a fourth. One o' the last two webbed me (now you're on my list) and the other tried to finish off Forth. It failed, 'cause Forth is tough that way, so I just shed the web (webbing a greased gnome? What are you thinking, stupid spider?) and chased after it. It felt good. Llew came with me and she has longer legs so she cut it down, and Forth cut the last one down.

The rest o' the group set to rescuin' all the victims 'n' healin' up Forth 'n' getting a wagon to get everyone back to town 'n' such, and I set to burning the gate free o' the webs and then lockin' it up. It took us a LONG time to get back to the center o' town, but we got all kinds o' applause 'n' cheers 'n' it felt really good. We'd done it. We'd really, really DONE it! We'd closed all three gates in a single day!
I needed to find me a bath, a bottle o' good brandy, and a gnome!

'Cept it's never that easy. A raucous canard came flyin' in (now why am I not carrying any o' those?) and a woman's voice told us that she was goin' to finish us once and for all, and we should meet her at the west gate 'n' such. Yeah, good luck gettin' THAT one open, lady! But she signed off as "Sasskiya" and we'd all like to kill her again 'cause it's the right thing to do (and it's fun), so Alembic asked for two hours so he could recover his spells, and Forth asked for sunset so he could recover his spells, and Llew just looked a bit disappointed but like she was goin' to tough it out, so I figured I would, too: No brandy or gnomes for me 'til Sasskiya's dead!

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Session 25, Played 23-Sep-2018:

So, I'll admit it: The thought of a town that had actual, real-life, male gnomes in it, without devils hangin' around watchin' my every move, or poppin'-in-undead tryin' to kill me at every turn, or one o' the major town families havin' it in for me, was a bit distractin'. So Llew 'n' Forth started talkin' how to take down Saskiya, and I started daydreamin' 'bout what I was goin' to do afterwards, but then I got distracted 'cause Llew started talkin' 'bout important stuff, like how to kill her. Turned out she was extra-tough unless you beat on her with a hammer, kind o' like any other skeleton 'cept stringier, and it had to be a magic hammer. I didn't have anythin' like that, but I'd heard of a bard spell that'd make Thorn act like a hammer, 'n' I asked 'n' some friendly merchant sort rounded one up for me. Saskiya also apparently could now cast big boomy spells, so I asked Llew to get a scroll to protect us from fire, 'cause I was kind o' tapped out by buyin' so many alchemicals all the time. Her touch wouldn't drain us, but she'd use necromancy spells and that spell that killed Forth (one o' those times), and her touch could paralyze us permanent-like, so Llew handed me a scroll to remove paralysis. I pointed out that I already had a potion, but she said she'd rather I had more, and I wasn't gonna argue. Unfortunately, turns out liches have some kind o' fear aura that'll make you wet your pants, so I figured I'd just change into my waterproof skivvies before the fight, 'cause gnome brain. Just to make my misery complete, 'parently she could also sense me within 30 feet even if I was hidin' or invisible. Ah, well, I was plannin' on stabbin' her anyway.
Llew asked for a scroll o' Protection from Evil, and the high priest gave her one for free! I started pipin' up, but he kind o' gave me a look and said, "We don't give gnomes stuff for free."
Speciesist! Then he started claimin' that I'd start takin' offerin's 'n' random stuff off the walls and maybe some church bugs or their smallclothes out o' their cells, and I had to admit, he had a point. Hmm... wonder what Pharasman smallclothes look like...?

Anyhoo, we let Alembic sleep for a couple o' hours, and Forth did his prayin' to Torag (still sounds like growlin' at an angry rock to me!), but since Alembic was still asleep we started discussin' the possibility of flyin' up and attackin' her invisibly, and Forth wouldn't go for that. I asked him why he wasn't willin' to kill some woman who was so unbelievably evil when she was alive, and I was pretty sure turnin' into a lich hadn't made her any more pleasant. He said some Lawful thing 'bout bein' honorable no matter WHO your enemy was or whatnot, but I figured if we looked too scary she was just goin' to pop off and run away while he was ramblin' on 'bout Lawfulness at her. On the other hand, she wasn't exactly the brightest candle of the Jeggare line, so maybe she'd just shoot lightnin' at him while he was ramblin'. And I'm afraid that'd make me laugh. Even though I love Forth, I'd laugh.
Once we needed Alembic's brain we waited for him to wake up, 'cause he was the most likely of us to think like a lich, and we started talkin' 'bout where she might've hid her "phylactery" (no; it's not birth control (I asked), it's some thingy that lets the lich come back again and again and again, 'cause undead just do that to annoy you, y'know). I figured since she'd been workin' with the Mother o' Wights to become a lich, the Mother would have it. 'Cause if I were turnin' Saskiya into a horrible undead spellcastin' abomination, I'd want some insurance, too.

With as much of a plan as we could muster (I don't know why, but I just wanted to yell, "Get her!" and then jump on her and get scared and run away. Just one o' those random thoughts you get, I guess), Llew Protected my gnome brain (thank you, Llew!), Alembic turned us invisible and made us fly again! I don't know why Forth sounded so miserable! I was doin' loop-the-loops and spinnin' 'round and dancin' 'til I ran into someone else 'cause I couldn't see 'em, so Llew gave us all a rope to hang onto so I wouldn't do it again.

We got to the gate without seein' any undead, but there in the courtyard in front o' the gate were 4 more dead guys. It was a gate we'd already cleared, so we knew they were new dead guys, but Llew said they were still alive, and just paralyzed by the lich. Just how Ms. FancyEyeballs knew that I'll never know, but I've learned to trust her, so we settled down in the road just outside o' the courtyard and I let go o' the rope 'cause I figured we were done. Then Alembic went ahead to teleport 3 of the guys to safety, 'cause 'parently Alembic never wants to make anythin' easy, so I kind o' ran after him and was standing all alone. Then Alembic turned visible 'cause he had to grab the guys, then he popped out so I was alone again... I think. Then Llew turned visible and carried off the fourth guy. Still nothin' happened. She went in and looked around and said that Saskiya was flyin'. 'Cause Llew can tell anything just from lookin' at it. And that's why I hide my underwear from her.

Forth went over to the top o' the gate 'n' started yellin' for Saskiya, 'n' Alembic turned him visible, so everyone but me was visible, but still no Saskiya. We went back into the courtyard and Alembic 'n' Llew talked about startin' to make noise, so first I handed everyone antitoxin vials, 'cause poison, and then I tried to use Shieldy, but he was fed up with all the fuss and refused to help me 'n' shut down. Next I pulled out the bard scroll 'n' tried to use it. I was pretty worried, 'cause I'd never used a scroll before, but the shopkeep said I looked pretty 'n' ornery enough I could probably get it to work with just some concentration, so I kissed him on the cheek 'n' he blushed. He was human, and had one o' those bristly faces that feels like the scrubby pads the Asmodeans make you wash the pots with when you're bad (and your bum with when you're really bad), but he was a right nice sort. Anyhoo, the scroll worked, and Thorn started feelin' all wibbly-wobbly in my hands, like I could just make him act like anythin' I wanted to just by askin'. So I said, "Be a hammer," and Thorn felt like a hammer! It was really neat! And weird! And scary! And mostly neat! I need more o' those scrolls!

So apparently while I was distracted with wibbly-wobbly Thorn Saskiya finally heard us and started comin' a runnin'! We finally saw her a ways up the street so Alembic sped everyone up 'cept me ('cause I was still invisible to him), and she ran off to the side to dump off all the silks she'd been lootin'. Hey, Saskiya? Silk doesn't hide dead! Bony bone-headed girl! So she came back and did the big cloud-killy thing on us, 'cept I wasn't anywhere near everyone else, so they started coughin', but only a little, so I was pretty proud I'd given 'em all antitoxin. She said somethin' stupid 'bout the paladin havin' to protect "those poor people", but since there was nobody there I figured she was either stupid or hallucinatin'. Or maybe she hadn't noticed us ferryin' all those people to safety TEN MINUTES AGO!!! Since she was so far off, I figured I'd try to slow her down, so I pulled out a tanglefoot bag and started movin' into position. Forth just came runnin' out like a hasted dwarf 'n' smote her 'n' hit her right between the eyes, and it should've been all she wrote, 'cept she didn't drop 'n' Forth called out that she was an illusion! Alembic said he knew that kind o' magic and she couldn't be far away, so Alembic and I went up to the rooftops to try to spot her, 'n' Forth 'n' Llew took to the alleys. She popped up where Alembic and I were, and she dropped some kind o' ice prison on Llew 'n' Forth (kind o' like the one the guy with the weird hair had used, 'cept this one was a dome instead of a wall, and Saskiya wasn't grabbin' me with her hair or jumpin' through walls or anythin'). She looked at Alembic and said, "And now I'll deal with you," and she tried to be all menacing-like, but I was just lookin' at her mouth and her lips (or lack thereof) and wonderin' how she made such a perfect 'th' sound. Probably magic. Speakin' o' magic, her aura o' fear hit me, but it just had me all scared and full o' adrenaline, kind o' like the first time the Asmodean priest catches you in his underwear drawer with a box o' quills and some nice white ink, so I could bear it. But Alembic skedaddled down to ground level while Llew 'n' Forth were breakin' their way out, and Saskiya followed Alembic and tried to cast somethin' nasty as him, but he stopped her so kind o' nothin' happened. I had to follow slowly, 'cause not sped up, thank you, Alembic, so I was behind everybody else.

Forth tried to hit her again, but this one had mirror images up, so he was kind o' confused. Llew hit one dead center o' the forehead again (I was beginnin' to think that Forth 'n' Llew liked Saskiya even less than I did, and I didn't think that was possible), but it was too bad 'cause it was an image. But even Saskiya looked like she would've blinked if she'd had eyelids. Which she didn't. Which made me want to find some ants to throw in her face, but I didn't see any. So she shot somethin' else at Alembic that didn't work, so I figured he was doin' his job just fine, and threw my tanglefoot bag at her and it popped one of her images, so I figured it was a job well-done, but those images had to go. So I told Forth 'n' Llew to hold off as Alembic 'n' Saskiya kept throwin' magic at each other, then dropped my Dust o' Appearance on her so her mirror images went away. THEN Forth 'n' Llew beat her to death right quick.
Yeah, I didn't get to hit her at all, but it was still satisfyin'.

Llew 'n' Forth suggested searchin' her for her phylactery, 'cause it was the kind o' stupid thing she'd do to carry it with her, 'cept they were interrupted when a beautiful (for a human) woman came steppin' out o' the Cloudkill, smiled at us all lovely-like, and tossed us somethin' as looked like a phylactery. She said that Saskiya hadn't been a very good servant. No kiddin', lady! We could've saved you the trouble. Llew said she wasn't really a human, she was a samoya or a samosa or some such, and they looked human after they'd drunk blood, and she was probably a general in the Mother of Wight's army or somethin'. Didn't matter much, since Llew ran up and stabbed her, so I figured the fight was on. I couldn't get there in time, but Forth did and he hit her too, then Alembic tried the pit thingy on her but it didn't work. She looked at me with her big, beautiful eyes and tried to take control of my little gnome brain, but Llew'd seen to it that that couldn't happen, so I owed Llew a pint o' beer. 'Course whenever somebody messes with me Llew gets all pissed off (and I love her for it), so she took her spear and rammed it through that whole samosa, then pulled out a few parts that looked kind o' important (had samosa girl been livin' in the first place) and stabbed her a couple more times for good measure. She went down like a sack o' rotten bananas bein' hurled by an angry gorilla who was furious 'bout bein' tricked into tradin' his favorite shiny rock for a bag o' rotten bananas, then turned all withered and husky and proved she was undead. We looked at Llew to figure out how to kill her permanent-like, but Llew said that was enough, so we just tossed her in Alembic's acid pit for a bit just to be on the safe side, then started searchin' for goodies.

Alembic verified that what the samosa had tossed us was a genuine, bona-fide phylactery, and it was worth more money than any of us had ever seen, and he got that greedy look in his eyes that said, "Maybe, just maybe, just this once, Llew'll let us sell this."
'Course Llew, bein' a sensible girl, smashed it all to pieces and I put some holy water on it 'cause it's always a nice garnish on undead. The other loot wasn't great, but wasn't nothin': The samosa hadn't been wearin' anythin' that didn't get eaten by the acid, but Saskiya had some magic levitatin' boots (sold 'em!), a headband to make you smarter (sold it! Obviously didn't work!), a potion to make you invisible (why, thank you, Saskiya!), a protectin' ring that was better'n mine so the group let me take it, a scroll o' dominatin' people (sold it! I'll use my own natural charm, thank you very much!), and a scroll o' teleportin' we gave to Alembic 'cause we figured he could do with more studyin' o' that particular spell. Then it was time to carry all the paralyzed victims and the dead bodies back to the center o' town, and we got all the cheerin' and salutin' and whatnot you'd 'spect, 'cept it made me feel all warm 'n' tingly inside anyhoo. The high priest 'n' the captain were all happy to see us, and made us "saviors of the city" and gave us medals that said that, and told us we'd probably saved hundreds of lives 'n' given 'em a week to prepare for the oncomin' army. Jordan gave me his map, 'cause he's a right fine fellow, but once I'd pulled out all the pins 'n' feathers and markers, and put in my daggers 'n' chalk 'n' ink 'n' whatever else I could find to depict our epic win, whatever the map was made of was kind o' givin' out 'cause it wasn't made for gnomes. But it was fun while it lasted.

So it was nighttime and we'd saved the city and it was time to celebrate! First things first, I went to a shopkeep who'd stayed awake to watch all the proceedin's and proceeded to re-stock on all my alchemicals. Wouldn't you know he started makin' a list, 'cause he was goin' to tell the city what the "Heros of the City" bought to help them fight undead. I thought o' restockin' on my vomit capsules, just to give 'em a laugh, but I didn't have a lot of money at the moment and I had to see how the big-ticket items would divvy up.
Instead I looked around for gnomes, and spotted a few, includin' a few strappin' young handsome ones, so I grabbed one and told him he needed a sign that said, "Boffed a Hero o' the City" and dragged him off. He didn't object, and I had a grand old evening for the first time in AGES. And that's all you get to know 'bout that.

In the mornin', I met back up with the group, we divvied up our loot, and first thing first was SHOPPING! I pulled out my HUUUUUGE sack o' gold and... darn it Saskiya! Why weren't you richer?!?!?
After replenishin' all my alchemicals, I couldn't get much that was any fun, but I did find a nifty ring that you were supposed to put a poison pill into, but I figured a vomit capsule'd be a lot more fun, so I did that. I got one of them raucous canards like Saskiya'd used, 'cause it seemed like it might come in handy. Ah, well, maybe next time we'll get enough that I can do some real shopping!

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Session 26, Played 07-Oct-2018:

As we were wrappin' up our shoppin', and it was still pretty early (I hadn't seen Forth yet), a runner came up dressed all fancy-like, and I figured he was comin' from someone pretty mean to make him dress like that and try to run all over the city. 'Cept I didn't see any symbols o' Asmodeus on 'im, so maybe he was just a bit dim. Anyhoo, he spotted us right quick, 'cause it's hard not to see a big albino travelin' with a dwarf, a gnome, and a hunchback, even if the dwarf is missin', so he came on over and told us he had a message for us from the king! So, I didn't rightly know that we had any king, so I was startin' to wonder exactly which king and from where, but Alembic straightened his back on up (and I didn't hear any cracklin' or snappin', though I expected it so I kind o' covered my ears), and seemed all resentful 'n' such, so I figured it had to be a king Alembic didn't like, which probably meant I'd get along with him just fine. Alembic muttered somethin' 'bout "not a king", but Llew wanted me to look over the invitation with the eyes o' Calistria, which I didn't rightly understand but I did it anyway 'cause I like Llew 'n' such, and I got this idea that the invitation was bein' all polite 'n' such by tellin' us to come at our leisure, instead o' orderin' us to come. 'Course, if they'd ordered us to do it I wouldn't've shown up, or maybe I'd've snuck in and stolen his chairs, so it was probably smarter of him to be polite in any case.

Anyhoo, since we weren't doin' anything fun anyway, we decided to go pay a visit to the king. Whom I liked calling a king 'cause it made Alembic wince for reasons I didn't understand, which made it even more fun. Speakin' of fun, Llew gave me permission to go wake up Forth, so I went into his room (I forget whether or not he locked his door, 'cause it really didn't matter much anyway). It was kind o' hard dodgin' all the flagons 'n' barrels 'n' whatnot strewn about the floor, but considerin' the number of nekkid gnomes I might or might not have left strewn about my floor, I wasn't one to criticize. He was snorin' up a storm, and I realized he was sleepin' so deep he might not wake up in time to constrain his beard should it choose to assail me, so I first got out a bunch o' twine I carry around for no reason at all and made sure to tie off his beard all secure-like, but I was really careful so as not to wake it up. Once I was sure his beard was tamed and caged, I jumped up and started bouncin' on his chest. He groaned most satisfyingly and tried to get up, but I'd done too good a job on his beard so he groaned a bit more and told me he was up and would I please free his beard? That's what I love about Forth: He knows his beard scares me somethin' awful, so he forgives me my precautions. I cut his beard loose and it didn't even snap at me so I figured we were good for the mornin', and I let myself out so's Forth could bathe 'n' dress 'n' armor himself 'n' such. I didn't lock the door, 'cause I didn't know whether Forth'd be able to get out if I did, and I knew he didn't like ladders and I didn't want to stress him.

I went down and met up with Llew 'n' Alembic, and Forth came down a bit after that. We showed Forth the invitation and he didn't think it was a bad idea either, so everyone else started gettin' dressed up to go meet the king, and I decided on a nice fuchsia dress with lime green polka dots 'cause I figured it would offset my hair so nicely. Then I hid a bunch o' daggers about my personage 'cause a girl can never be too careful that way. We went to the castle/keep/whatever thingy (I'm sure Forth or Alembic would've happily told me what it was, but I didn't want to know, so I didn't ask), and we showed the soldier there our invitations, and he seemed all snarky 'bout the king calling himself a king, but what else would you call a king, and he let us in to go see King Hedvund VI. Alembic tried to explain that Hedvund wasn't really a king, but it was boring so I didn't listen. We went past the big hall where Hedvund was holding court, 'cept I guess it wasn't 'court' according to Alembic since he wasn't a king, so maybe it was 'curt', or 'ourt', or even 'urt' 'cause that's fun to say, but we got led past there and into some small side room that was all comfy and had all kinds o' squishy furniture to jump on but I didn't 'cause I knew Llew 'n' Forth wouldn't like it and I was feelin' like behavin' a bit that mornin'. Someone brought us refreshments and they weren't poisoned, so I relaxed a little. There was a really neat-looking maze outside, and I really wanted to jump out the window and run around in it, but I knew I was s'posed to stick around and meet the king. Eventually Hedvund came in and explained something about Cheliax and advisers and that people who were uppity called him a "Steward", and people who weren't called him "King". I asked whether I could call him "Heddy" and he said that was fine, so I decided I liked 'im, even if he talked too much 'bout things I didn't understand.

'Bout as far as I could tell, Heddy'd been in charge for a while, but some Cheliaxian guy'd been his "advisor" the whole time, and he'd skedaddled 'bout two weeks ago along with all the rest o' the Cheliaxians in town. Sounded 'bout right for Asmodeus and Cheliax: Put someone expendable in charge, pull out the important people, and you win either way. So Heddy'd been a rich local (non-Chelaxian) merchant and after the Goblinblood wars Cheliax'd put him in charge and given 'im a keeper. He complained 'bout Jacob, Jeremiah, and Jocelyn. Lots o' J's. I was pretty sure Jacob and Jeremiah we'd met at the temple of Pharasma, but I didn't remember a Jocelyn. We'd have to ask around.

In terms of defending Eledir, he was stockpiling water and bringin' in refugees, but he needed help and he knew it (see? Good king!), and gave us each a piece o' paper that said that anything we did was in the steward's name in defense o' the city and the country. Did I say, "Good king?" I meant, "Great king!" And I'm beginnin' to have a strong fondness for papers that give me permission to do things. Forth asked me to promise not to abuse the power, and I couldn't look 'im in the eye and make a promise like that, so I just told him so. I don't think he appreciated me bein' honest right then 'n' there right in front o' the king, but the king seemed pretty happy. So Llew did her alignment stuff on him and sure enough he was Chaotic Good, just like me! No wonder we were such good friends! I was glad Eledir had such a sensible guy in charge in its hour of need!
Heddy didn't know of any secret tunnels into or out o' the city, 'cause after the Goblinblood wars tunnels were a pretty stupid thing for humans to build, and dwarves'd built all the walls 'n' gates so they were guaranteed solid, too. 'Specially when glued shut, I'd imagine.

The king dismissed us after a while, and my first act in defense o' the city was to jump out the window 'n' into the maze. 'Cause security. So I wandered around for a bit, enjoyin' myself, 'til I got bored. Then I tried to find my way out. And I couldn't. Didn't surprise me much, 'cause I can't find my way out of a grassy spot 10 feet from a trail, so I wasn't really worried. I had plenty o' provisions, and a lot o' daggers, but I'd been hopin' to meet some groundskeepers or common folk to ask 'bout the king, but the place was totally deserted! If you'd put a maze like this in a gnome town, it'd have had 100-200 gnomes runnin' down every passage. 'Til it burned down, o' course, but that would've taken 5, maybe even 10 minutes!

Anyhoo, after a while o' searchin' for people 'n' not findin' any, and a while o' searchin' for a way out and not findin' any, I decided it was time to cheat 'n' leave, so I pulled out Spidey and put Spider Climb on myself and walked up to the top o' one o' the hedges. And there was maze in all directions, as far as the eye could see! No castle, no city, not even a sun in the sky to give me a sense o' direction. Just a big, infinite, featureless maze.
So I figured I was in some kind o' spell.
I'm a patient girl, so I just started doin' what comes naturally for a gnome, and runnin' in all directions screamin' my head off and slashin' at branches 'n' stuff. And apparently I got the maze kind o' mad at me 'cause it wasn't more'n a minute or two after I started that that it spat me out.

Gnomes. We know how to make ourselves unwelcome.

I found myself on the edge o' town, so I figured I had to find Llew 'n' Forth 'n' even Alembic, so I looked around and saw a human boy playin' with a dog. The dog looked 'bout big enough to ride, so I changed into somethin' somewhat resemblin' the uniform o' all the Eledir guards, and I showed my writ to the kid 'n' told 'im I was confiscatin' his dog in the name o' the city. He wasn't too happy with me, 'til I tried climbin' on the dog's back and it started runnin' off with me and I started screamin' 'n' holdin' on for dear life and suddenly the boy thought I was the best confiscator ever and started chasin' us, 'n' the dog saw the boy runnin' 'n' got all excited 'n' started runnin' in circles with me on its back. So after a while, we settled down to a game o' fetch for a bit, then I was pretty tired o' confiscatin' so I asked the boy to take me back to the center o' town and he did, and once I saw Forth 'n' Llew 'n' Alembic I went ahead and fell off the dog into the mud, 'cause it was comfier there.
So there I was, covered in scratches 'n' leaves 'n' twigs 'n' thorns 'n' mud 'n' hair, smellin' like dog, with a writ that said I'd done it all to defend Isger.
I love my king!

Apparently while I was gone, Llew 'n' Forth 'n' Alembic didn't sit around pinin' for me, which was kind o' hurtful, but they found out some useful stuff. Llew 'n' Alembic went to the temple o' Asmodeus and learned that the woman in charge there was named Jocelyn. Mystery solved! 'Cept there was more to it 'bout how all the Asmodeans'd been ordered to evacuate 2 weeks ago, too, and Jocelyn was the typical Asmodean sacrifice, ordered to stay in town and defend the city. 'Cause that way if she succeeded, Asmodeus'd look good. And if she failed, they could say they'd tried. Same thing with Cheliax. 'Parently they didn't like sharin' Isger with the neighbors, so they were hopin' the undead army'd succeed so they could declare Isger well 'n' truly conquered by undead, then come back in 'n' take it back all for themselves. They even had a fortress full o' hellknights all set up to do it. Citadel Altaerela or somethin'. Kind o' smart... if you're an inhuman monster who doesn't care a thing about all the people who are goin' to suffer and die 'cause o' your greed! I swear, all o' Cheliax must consist o' inbred Jeggares!

While Llew 'n' Alembic were visitin' the temple of Asmodeus, Forth was visitin' the temple o' Torag. He spoke 'bout as much as usual 'bout how he didn't learn much from 'em.
So Llew took us all to see Jacob at the temple o' Pharasma, and he seemed more upset 'bout my writ than anything else. There's no accountin' for taste! I tried to use the writ to make him have four of his men carry me around in a litter, 'cause I'd never been in a litter before, but Forth said if I'd stop he'd carry me around on his back in an old wooden box, so I got to ride around in my very own litter box, and it was fun enough that I wasn't mad.

We patrolled the city, me in my litter box, but we didn't find anythin' out of place, so it would've been really boring if I'd been walking. As it was, I got to change my outfit every block, and wave at the kids, and make faces, and juggle, and put on clown makeup, and it was pretty fun. Forth's a good mount. Eventually we got bored and went back to our inn to sleep for the night. I considered invitin' up a bunch o' gnomes "for the good o' the city", but I was kind o' tired, and doin' the same thing two nights in a row is boring, so I just had a bath and went to bed.

In the morning, Jacob came by. He looked awful, so Forth laid hands on him to heal him up. He'd received scouting reports he felt we ought to hear. So we came with him to hear 'em, 'cause it's what's done. The first team reported that there were 6 heavy barges about 3 days out, all carrying heavy catapults and special ammunition; they figured once those catapults got in range, the city's walls wouldn't stand a chance. Sink barges. Check. I figured I had a lot o' underwater potions 'n' scrolls left over from other adventures, so sabotaging a barge'd be easy enough. The barge was defended by zombies with bows, but you can't shoot underwater and you can't shoot what you can't see, so I was pretty confident we'd be able to deal with the barge.

The next report was from Beatrone, an angry human woman in a breastplate. Three o' the biggest stone giants she'd ever seen were approachin' fast from the north, all zombified, and likely to arrive tonight or tomorrow mornin'. Sounded like we were goin' giant killin'. Turns out she was angry 'cause they threw rocks and killed a third o' her men. I stayed quiet 'cause that was horrible and I didn't want to offend her. But she said the giants'd tear through the walls like they weren't even there, so they were probably our top priority.

The third guy was a sneakthiefy sort, 'n' he recognized me 'n' made some signals as to how dangerous his mission was, and how I should sit it out 'cause it was too dangerous, but he obviously didn't know me very well 'cause I've got a big heart and I'm not goin' to hide while innocent people are in harm's way, so I listened particularly well to his tale. 'Cept it wasn't very interestin'. Someone'd cut down a bunch o' trees 'n' set 'em in the river, 'n' a bunch o' rat swarms 'n' wererats were breedin' on the big pile o' logs, 'n' it was all unnatural 'n' stuff, and we probably wouldn't be able to stop it. 'Cept fire. So I put that one low on our priority list. It sounded like it was about 2 days out, which was plenty o' time to get fifty or a hundred barrels of oil to welcome them to the river.

The final report was from Sidley, the squeaky barbarian. Yep. I kid you not. The man was bigger'n Forth's beard, and probably could've taken everyone else in the room apart, Beatrone included, but he had a squeaky little girl's voice that made me want to giggle. 'Cept I didn't. 'Cause barbarian. His people had a bunch o' black undead unicorns tearing through 'em. And the unicorns were makin' a beeline towards the hole the giants were goin' to open in the wall. Coordinated undead. Again. I was gettin' tired o' whoever was runnin' this thing. They thought things out WAAAY too much. Anyway, the unicorns used darkness 'n' poison 'n' such, and I was feelin' better 'n' better 'bout my bag o' stuff, 'cause I knew I already had some "see in the dark" potions in there somewhere. And antitoxin. 'Cause antitoxin. He told us not to get hit by the horns, but we weren't stupid, so we didn't really need the advice.

Fortunately, everybody else agreed with me that the giants were the biggest threat, so first Alembic summoned us some phantom steeds (where's the water! I want to WALK ON WATER!!!!) and we rode towards 'em. My horse was sky blue this time, 'cause I wanted to be camouflaged, and everybody started laughin' 'cause the giants'd be lookin' down at us. So, whose fault is it that the horses don't fly? Mine? Or Alembic's? When we thought we were pretty close, Alembic put somethin' on us to protect us from gettin' hurt. Alembic was sure getting downright handy to have around. I guess I'd have to excuse his hunchin' 'n' moanin' even more, 'cause he was doin' right well by us.
Once we were in sight of 'em, they were pretty big all right; fifteen or twenty feet tall, lookin' a lot like the giant at Haugin's Ear, 'cept smaller. I started wonderin' whether giants kept growin' for their whole lives, and just how big they could get. But only Alembic would know the answer, and I didn't want him to get all full o' himself, so I didn't ask.

Alembic wasn't done bein' a stand-up guy, though. He flew up into the air to get their attention, so they all threw their rocks at him. Looked like it hurt a LOT! Good on you, Alembic! That was pretty gutsy! Forth got off his steed, and Llew just kind o' decided to fall off 'cause it was faster, then I tried to get my horse to move and it wouldn't so I had to get down and run to catch up with Llew 'n' Forth. I guess Alembic was done drawin' their fire 'cause he turned invisible, but it would've been nice to have some kind o' warning so we could be ready. The giants threw a bunch o' rocks at Forth 'cause dwarf 'n' all, but he's so used to bleedin' I don't know that he much noticed.
We did the usual: I ran in to distract one, and Llew went up and hit it. Worked beautifully. Forth came in and hit the same one, and Alembic dropped a Fireball on 'em from over our heads. Yeah, they didn't like that much so they pounded on Forth some more, but Alembic's spell kept him standin', so I owed Alembic even one more thanks. Seemed to be gettin' a bit old to me.
Llew stabbed another one so I came in and finished it off, then Alembic got one. Llew 'n' Forth did a bunch o' damage to the last one, it hit Llew a bit, then I ran up and killed it.

And Llew started yellin' at me 'bout it. 'Cause she hadn't killed any of 'em, and I guess Pharasma's book says she's gotta kill one o' everything she puts in there. So, lesson learned: Let Llew kill at least one o' everything. Not that hard; she kills most everythin'; I hadn't really noticed she hadn't killed any, but she sure did. But I'm not one to get in someone else's religion.
We searched the giants but they didn't have any useful loot. We talked about goin' back to the city to rest, but we hadn't spent too many resources killin' the giants 'n' we were worried the unicorns might be able to teleport or somethin' (Alembic said that unicorns teleported, and Llew said that if unicorns could then the undead version'd be able to, too, so it was trouble.)

It was time to kill us some undead unicorns! Sounded fun! And it sounded like there were plenty enough for all of us to get one!

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Session 27, Played 21-Oct-2018

We rode our phantom steeds 'cross hill 'n' dale 'n' river 'n' puddle 'n' any little spot o' water I could find (did I mention Alembic's help was growin' on me?) 'til we figured we were maybe an hour or so away from the unicorns' advance, then I handed out potions o' seein' in the dark 'n' antitoxin to make sure we wouldn't get poisoned, 'n' we rode a bit farther 'til we were pretty sure we were within an hour of 'em, then we drank all our potions. For the seein' in the dark it didn't matter much 'cause the vendor'd told me that potion would last hours, but for the antitoxin it was kind o' important to cut it as close as possible, 'cause the stuff only lasts an hour. Fortunately, it was a lot less'n an hour before Llew spotted 'em, 'cause they were just runnin' along in an open field, casual as you please, like some great undead horde o' death just comin' down to raze a city. 'Cept there were only eight of 'em, so they weren't so much a "horde" as a "mildly irritatin' flock". 'Cept I don't think unicorns come in flocks. Herds? No; sounds too mundane. I'll call 'em flurbellums!

So this flurbellum o' undead unicorns was comin' at us, and o'course Alembic doesn't care for subtlety, so he started castin' right away, so I figured the jig was up anyway and I used Shieldy on myself. Sure enough, the unicorns turned and headed towards us. Alembic made us all fast, then flew up outta reach. I'd call him a coward, but I didn't particularly want to get trampled so I'd probably've done it too. Forth moved up like he was goin' to take 'em all on himself, leaving Llew all alone in the back, so I moved up behind Forth 'n' ducked down in the grass so they couldn't see me, figurin' if one ran past Forth and towards Llew I'd be able to get in a stab or two before it got her. Llew started doin' some magicky inquisitor stuff that I don't understand.

Sure enough, the first unicorn spread darkness in front of itself, which didn't work all that well 'cause o' my potions, then it came runnin' right past Forth 'n' he hit it, then it kept on goin' past me so I got in a couple o' stabs, and its dead-undead corpse went skitterin' all the way back to Llew. She didn't yell at me, so I figured it was all right. Once we were all in the open, though, four of 'em came runnin' up to attack Forth, two of 'em came for me, and one of 'em made it all the way back to Llew. They used their glowy horns on me 'n' Forth, but other than tinglin' a bit it didn't seem to affect me all that much, which is really kind o' weird 'cause everything affects me.

Llew just out-and-out killed the one that'd run up to her, so I figured the rest of 'em were probably fair game. 'Course, I guess the one that had attacked her had a moment to regret its unlife choices, but it wasn't very long. Alembic dropped a Fireball on the rest of 'em, and I was all ready to try to dodge it 'cept it kind o' went around me 'n' Forth, and just hit the unicorns. Neat trick, Alembic!

Unfortunately, Forth's head just wasn't in the fight. I mean, what with unicorns bein' a dwarf's natural enemy 'n' all, I could see him bein' a bit discombobulated, and I'm sure undead unicorns made it even worse, but he barely even tapped one. I figured he needed help so I waved my dagger at one o' the ones in front o' me and danced over to help him. 'Cept I didn't know they were smart. Until they all ignored me and ganged up on Forth. Oops. A couple of 'em did their horny things on Forth, and he suddenly paled a bit and said he'd been poisoned somehow. A couple o' the others stabbed him a bit, but he didn't seem to mind much. Llew did some more magicky stuff 'n' it healed Forth, Alembic Fireballed 'em again (and it went around us again), and they started droppin' like undead unicorns. There were only three left 'n' Forth finally got into his groove 'n' killed two of 'em, so I checked in with Llew and she said it was OK so I killed the last one.

We spent about an hour gatherin' up their bodies. OK, yeah, it's the royal "we", 'cause I didn't even help 'cause I'm not big like that, so Llew 'n' Forth did almost all o' the heavy liftin' 'n' draggin'. I didn't ask why Alembic wasn't helpin', 'cause I figure he's got back issues or somethin', but eventually we got 'em in enough of a pile to make a pyre 'n' burn 'em. While they were workin', Forth got out his keg o' ale and started drinkin' like it was the hottest, thirstiest work he'd ever done. I figured once we were back in town I'd get him somethin' nicer, 'cause he's earned it, and I know dwarves like to drink a lot. I figure their beards must absorb a lot o' the alcohol so they have to drink more'n the rest of us. Llew said that their horns (the undead unicorns' horns, not the dwarves' beards' horns) were evil 'n' corrupt 'n' wouldn't burn (though I'm bettin' you could say the same thing 'bout dwarves' beards), so she carefully cut 'em all off without touchin' 'em and put 'em in a bag for safekeeping 'til she could get to the temple and turn 'em over. 'Cause apparently the temple o' Pharasma even knows how to deal with undead unicorn horns. Versatile folk! I should hang out there more often!

With our immediate work done, Alembic teleported us back to town so we could all take care of our business before we had to go deal with the rat raft tomorrow. I replenished my stores, and Llew 'n' Alembic donated so I'd carry a little extra. Since that didn't take a lot o' time and I was bored, I went over to Jacob and convinced him that we needed to organize a bunch o' marchin' bands to wander 'round the city, playin' cheerful music to frighten off all the evil spirits. He knew it was a lie, and I knew it was a lie, but he was a good sport about it and started gettin' it all organized, and I figured people were goin' to need all the morale they could muster come the day after tomorrow, so a bit o' pointless lively music in the middle of the night'd be just the thing. I know it cheered me up to hear it, and it helped me sleep like a wee angel!

Once I'd arranged for the bands to play, I started askin' where I could find good dwarven liquor, and it turns out dwarves drink a LOT more'n I thought they did -- everyone just told me to go to any old tavern and ask for dwarven liquor 'n' they'd have it. I tried askin' 'bout good dwarven liquor, but apparently dwarves can't taste all that much through their beards 'n' all, so the quality doesn't much matter. So I went to a tavern and asked 'em all charmin'-like to give me the best dwarven liquor they had, but it was still only 50 gold pieces, so either dwarves are really frugal 'n' don't like to spend money on alcohol like humans do, or more'n likely dwarves'll drink anything. Watchin' Forth, I figured it was the latter. So I got the keg all done up in a bow all nice-like, then let myself into his room. I figured I had the permission slip from the Asmodean temple in Logas in case I got 'caught, and if it didn't apply I'd just tell 'em that as a gnome I have the right not to know what the heck is goin' on with the law, 'cause I think that's the honest truth. Anyhoo, Forth wasn't any more perceptive'n usual, and his lock wasn't any better-made 'n' usual, so it was easy enough to put the big ol' keg on his bed so he'd find it when he went up to his room. Really, for all that effort the hardest part was carryin' the darned keg. Alcohol weighs a TON! And Forth'd probably drink the whole thing in a day, the way he was guzzlin' the stuff. But I figured he knew better'n I did what was good for 'im, so I'd leave it for him and consider my good deed done for the day.
Plus the bands.

I woke to the lovely tune o' marching bands, but then I realized they'd probably been up all night playin' away, and that wouldn't be good for their morale, so I thought o' askin' Jacob to swap 'em out and choose some more players who might not be as good, but who might be better-rested, but I figured the town'd had enough music for now, so I sent a runner to tell Jacob that morale was probably fixed at the moment, or whatever it was that I told him the night before when I convinced him to do it. Forth was really late to breakfast again, but all we had on our agenda for the day was the raft-o-rats, which is a lot more fun to say than to deal with. So while we were waitin' for Forth we started talkin' 'bout it. I didn't like it at all; every attack so far had been well-planned: The giants to knock down the wall. The unicorns to teleport through the wall. The ballista to break down the wall. And this one was just... rats? Somethin' was awfully, awfully wrong here. But I couldn't figure it out and breakfast was tasty so I soon forgot about it, and Forth got up and Alembic made us phantom steeds and I made mine brown with green stripes 'cause we'd be in the forest and I figured eventually I'd figure this 'camouflage' thing out!

We rode up the river towards the logs all cocksure of ourselves, and as soon as we saw 'em Alembic made sure we could all fly, then let out a Fireball to let 'em know we were coming. We flew over to the logs and pretty much saw nothin'. Llew 'n' I looked real hard, and thought we saw a couple o' rat swarms, but they didn't seem like a heck of a lot; certainly not enough to be much of a threat to a city. There were probably more hidin' down below, or maybe under the water, but none of us wanted to go down there and find out. So we kind o' hovered there, wonderin' what to do. I suggested gettin' some scrolls o' Control Water to drain the river so the rats'd have to come out, but nobody liked that idea so we didn't do it. Alembic didn't want to waste more Fireballs on rats he couldn't see, and Forth couldn't do much of anythin'. So we kept lookin' 'round, and eventually some o' the logs got caught against a bank, and a little guy with a pole started pushin' it back in. Alembic, feelin' downright ornery at that point, shot the little guy and he turned into a rat and ran back into the logs!! So, I knew there were s'posed to be wererats on the logs, but I'd never seen one before, and it kind o' takes you aback a bit when a little guy turns into a little rat and scurries off. After all this time, more 'n' more rat swarms were showin' up on top o' the logs, so Forth flew down low and channeled energy at 'em. I was openin' my mouth to tell him that wasn't goin' to work 'cause rat swarms aren't undead, but the swarms keeled over 'n' died so I guess Forth knew undead better'n me. Go figure. He called out that somethin' was speakin' in his head, so I ran over to Llew and asked her (OK, kind o' "Screamed and begged her") to protect my brain, 'cause gnome 'n' all, and she did. Then the voice called out for all the rats in the surroundin' wilderness to help, and thousands and millions o' rats started comin' off the banks and onto the raft, so Alembic figured it was worth another Fireball, but we were dealin' with somethin' that could summon more rats than Alembic could kill in a day, and we still hadn't seen hide nor hair of it to figure out what the heck it was! I was gettin' pretty frustrated, but Llew was just starin' intently at the raft, tryin' to figure out where the voice was comin' from. Forth was detectin' evil, and at the same time callin' out that anyone who wanted to surrender could, and he could cure 'em of their lycanthropy, so one guy stood up and said that sounded good to him, and all the rats around him swarmed over him and ate him down to the bone. So I guess we were gonna see more o' Forth drinkin' that night. Glad I got him a good keg!
I was bored, 'n' I spotted the other wererats hidin', so I hit one with some alchemist's fire just to give us somethin' to do, and he started shootin' back, so at least the two of us weren't bored. But Llew pointed out that Forth'd be unhappy if I killed him before giving Forth a chance to cure him, so I just kind o' dodged arrows.

After a couple o' hours (OK, maybe a couple o' minutes, but it sure as heck seemed like hours), Llew finally spotted what was causin' all the trouble: It was some kind o' giant rat swarm, in the sense that it was a good 20' across, and full o' undead rats. Alembic Glitterdusted it so we could all see it, so I hit it with some alchemist's fire, but it didn't bother it, 'cause o' course not. Once we could all see it, LLew 'n' Forth put their heads together, and the news wasn't good: This was some kind o' god-sent swarm summoned by Urgathoa herself to kill things. It can constantly create rat swarms, and it can't be killed unless you disperse it, then cast a real powerful Cure Disease on it so it doesn't come back. Forth didn't think he could do it. It'd 'bout half-kill us every time it bit us, meanin' common soldiers had no chance (we're tough little buggers), it could run faster'n me, and if it bit you at all you'd become a wererat under its control, kind o' explainin' all the boathands. (Loghands?) Since we didn't have the means to kill it, we fled back to town, figurin' we needed some heavy-duty firepower.

Llew 'n' I went to see Jocelyn, the priestess of Asmodeus. There was a hellknight out front, so I teased him and he glowered at me so it was all good, 'n' Llew told me not to tease the hellknight but it's what you do; I know, I was raised by Asmodeans. I started talkin' to Jocelyn 'bout Asmodeans 'n' scarrin' and showed her that I'd learned how to do the greetin' right 'n' everythin', but Llew actually wanted to talk 'bout business 'n' such so I let her. Once Jocelyn heard what was up she was happy to help. I figured it was 'cause if she died she'd be a hero, 'n' if she lived she'd be a hero, and sure enough all she wanted from us was to let people know an Asmodean was helpin' us. Typical stuff. Like I wouldn't have blurted it out anyway. "Yeah, we brought an Asmodean with us, but she slipped on a rock and fell into the rats and got eaten before we could get out a, 'By your leave,' so we had to order a new one."

She knew what she was gettin' into when she told a gnome to tell her story. It meant she was confident. So I liked her.
We left an' I told the hellknight I hadn't broken anythin' and gave him a big wink. Didn't get him to attack me, but I think I was pretty close. Gotta test their discipline; it's good for 'em. We met up with Alembic and he'd been lookin' for a staff o' fireballs or some such, but nobody wanted to sell him one. He was sure there was one in town, so I figured as long as we were gettin' fire I might as well go all in and I asked 'bout a Necklace o' Fireballs. You'd've thought a gnome was askin' 'bout purchasin' a Necklace o' Fireballs within city limits or somethin' the way the vendor paled 'n' screamed that there were none in the city. So that didn't much help my case when I asked 'bout the staff 'n' he told me there was nothin' that made fire in the whole town. Yeah, I didn't call him on it.
Forth met up with us 'n' told us the clerics o' Torag could help with the healin' and the disease-removin', but they were no match for the rat thing comin' our way. Looked like it was Jocelyn or no one.

Alembic was still obsessin' 'bout his fire staff, so we decided to go talk to Jacob. He'd never even heard o' such a thing, but Jarrod (the high priest) had, 'cause it's what King Heddy was usin' as a sceptre. He wished us luck gettin' it out o' Heddy's hands, so we thanked him. We headed over to the castle, an' I told everyone to avoid the maze 'cause we were in a hurry. The guards let us in right quick but they seemed a bit out o' sorts; I have to remember to send a marchin' band their way one o' these days. On the other hand, Heddy was happy to see us, and I was happy to see him, and he'd heard 'bout my bands and he thought it was a marvelous idea! He asked what we needed, 'n' I told him we needed his sceptre 'cause we needed to burn rats 'n' save the city 'n' make him the hero of the city (nice one, Llew!), and I called on Calistria and turned my eyes on as big 'n' deep as I could possibly make 'em and I felt Her magic passin' through me 'n' into Heddy 'n' he just said, "OK," and handed me the staff. Said I was very convincin'. So we thanked him and headed out, 'n' I gave Alembic the staff and he straightened right up 'n' started walkin' proud 'n' the staff started glowin' 'n' such. Geez, if he'd just needed a back brace I could've confiscated one for 'im.

I wonder if that supernatural maze is going to turn out to be important . . . .

I'm curious what classes/levels the various characters are at at this point. And for that matter how Trig is doing that periodic Charisma bonus. ^^;;

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I'm guessing we were still level 10.
Forth: Dwarven paladin of Torag 10
Alembic: Human sorcerer 10 (I never did figure out his bloodline)
Llew: Human inquisitor of Pharasma 10
Trig: Gnome rogue 10

So, when we realized we had no one who could be a 'face man', Trig dumped all of her skill points into Diplomacy, maxing it out, then took Skill Focus: Diplomacy as a feat, then Charmer as a rogue talent. So it went something like +1 to +13 with two rerolls from levels 8 to 9, then to +20 with three rerolls from 9 to 10.

It made absolutely no sense gamewise, so I attributed it to Calistria.

EDIT: The best part was that the dice ludicrously agreed with my roleplaying. At the Jeggare trial conducted under Asmodean auspices, my two rolls were a 2 and 3, which is appropriate for a gnome attempting to make ANY argument in a court of law. When Trig asked the Chaotic Good King Heddy for a staff of Fireballs, I rolled an 18 and a 19, indicating that the king REALLY wanted some mayhem...

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Wait . . . Sorcerer couldn't do the face role? Admittedly, so far, by the descriptions, Alembic doesn't seem very charismatic, even allowing for considerable bias due to Trig being the one describing him while mostly not getting along with him.

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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Wait . . . Sorcerer couldn't do the face role? Admittedly, so far, by the descriptions, Alembic doesn't seem very charismatic, even allowing for considerable bias due to Trig being the one describing him while mostly not getting along with him.

Only 2 skill points per level. He didn't want to "waste" one on Diplomacy.

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That is why I think classes should not have less than 4 skill points per level

Haldrick wrote:
That is why I think classes should not have less than 4 skill points per level

We've been trying various variants of that. For my current Shattered Star game PCs got one free "flavor" skill (such as Profession: Stonemason) and one free "any" skill (such as Stealth) where both are class skills and they get 1/2 their level as free points in each.

It's better, but most skills are so fundamentally "flavor" elements to the game that I agree; at least 4 points per level for every class would be a vast improvement, plus "obvious" skills such as Knowledge: Religion for clerics or a single Perform skill for Bards should come with the class.

Yes, I wish they had come out with a Sorcerer Unchained. This would be mostly for cleaning up the Bloodlines (a horrific mess -- no wonder you and Alembic's player can't figure out which one to use), but bumping up skill points to 4 + IntMod (except probably not for Sage Sorcerer) would be welcome (also do this for Cleric, Fighter, and WarPriest, as well as non-Int-based archetypes of normally Int-based casters). Then again, instead of 2nd Edition, I wanted 1.5th Edition (equivalent to D&D 3.875).

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UAE, you probably want in on

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Session 28, Played 28-Oct-2018

Once we had the staff, we had to wait a couple o' hours 'til Jocelyn could pray for her magic, so Llew decided she was goin' to take a nap. I wandered off to purchase some alchemicals, including a cool little bead that'd protect us in a wall o' force if things went bad, and a wayfinder, just 'cause they look cool and I wanted to try one out. Once we were reconvened, Llew asked Alembic if she could try out the staff, but it didn't glow for her. She said she was an orphan, so she was just curious. Hey! I'm an orphan to! I asked Alembic if I could hold the staff and he just said, "No," not even a good lie or anythin'. So I figured it was another "gnomes and fire" thing. As we approached the temple, Forth suggested that I order the Hellknight to stay in town 'n' guard the temple, so I figured I would. And I even remembered to! I pulled out Heddy's writ 'n' all, and showed it to the Hellknight, 'n' asked him if he could read, 'n' he could, so I had him read it and then ordered him to guard the temple. And he said he didn't have to obey the king, but he'd guard the temple anyway, so whatever. This Lawful stuff never ends well.

We got Jocelyn and she was all dolled up Asmodeus-style with spiky armor 'n' such, and I started tryin' to be all nice 'n' chatty with her, makin' my armor look like my old orphanage clothes and givin' her the proper greetin's 'n' such, but Llew said it was Quiet Time 'cause she needed to talk to Jocelyn. I hate Quiet Time. But Llew only asks me when it's important, so I managed to stay quiet for a minute or two.

While I was quiet, Llew told Jocelyn she had some kind o' draught of Pharasma (at least I think that's how to spell it -- maybe it was a draft, but it looked all liquidy 'n' stuff, 'n' not all all like a "draft"), and it'd make sure the Remove Disease worked on the rats the first time. Something'r other happened between 'em, but I'd been tryin' to lick my eye so I wasn't quite sure, but the gist of it was that if Jocelyn didn't drink the draught and we still won, then the gods'd take notice of us or somethin'. But if she did drink the draught 'n' we won, the gods wouldn't care. Considerin' how much "notice" I was gettin' already, I wasn't sure I wanted any more, but I figured the others were closer to their gods than I was to Calistria ('cept Alembic, whom I suspect worships a sock in a drawer in his manor somewhere), so I figured they'd decide 'n' let me know. Jocelyn made sure she had her scrolls o' Control Water, Alembic had his staff, and the rest of us, well, we were ready as we were ever going to be. So Alembic summoned some o' the Phantom Steeds I like so much (this time I got purple, 'cause we weren't tryin' to hide or anythin'), and even Jocelyn got one, and she knew how to ride 'n' everything.

So it was pretty easy ridin' out to the log jam, even at night, 'cause there was a moon 'n' such, and even Forth couldn't much miss a big ol' pile o' logs in the middle o' the river, and we heard it before we saw it, so we could start gettin' ourselves ready for the big fight. Alembic made us fly, Llew gave me a circle to protect my brain, and Alembic put that stony skin stuff on us to protect us a bit, then we flew over to take a look-see. Unfortunately, the pesky rat-thing'd found some captives, and there were four people tied down on the logs strugglin' to get loose, and occasionally rats would bite 'em. Yeah, I know, I know. "How did the rats tie knots?" I was wonderin' the same thing. But there were those wererat guys, and I was bettin' either they weren't nearly as willin' to turn over a new leaf as Forth thought, or it really could control 'em and it made 'em do it. Either way, 'parently it didn't care for Alembic's fireballs all that much and had done somethin' about it.
Well, people were tied up, so I knew it was my job to get 'em out o' there, even if it got all squirmy 'n' bitey 'n' wet and all kinds o' other adjectives. So I flew down low to see how hard it'd be, and it looked like I could just cut 'em loose, so I greased up, landed ever-so-gently on the first prisoner's log. Worked great! Right up 'til I cut the ropes and the prisoner was loose. *I* was quiet, but the prisoner? Not so much.

So... imagine someone's playin' a practical joke on you. And they've glued pine cones all over your body, and I mean all over, and not the nice squishy pine cones that you can crush in your hands, but spiny, sharp, nasty, hard pine cones. Then they kicked you off a steep hill through a bunch o' cactuses. Cactuses covered with thick spider webs. With spiders. Bitey spiders. And you had asthma. And had to pee. OK. Maybe not the having to pee part.
But that's about how much gettin' swarmed by a bunch o' god-sent disease-carryin' maybe-undead-maybe-not-'cause-I-really-don't-know rats bitin' you all over every part o' your body 'cause you had the audacity to free one o' their prisoners hurt.

It wasn't fun. If it hadn't been for Alembic's protections, I think it might've been lethal.

Forth did somethin' that made me feel all paladin-y, 'n' it was kind o' cool, 'n' I heard a Fireball go off so I knew Alembic was helpin', and since Llew wasn't makin' any noise but I heard a bow goin' I knew she was in there, and the whole log jam stopped so I figured Jocelyn'd stopped the river up. The rats kept up their chewin' but I managed to pick up the guy 'n' get him out alive by flyin' out o' their reach, 'n' blissfully once most of 'em had fallen off, Alembic's stoneskin thingy kept the rest from hurtin' me at all. As I was droppin' my guy off in a tree, Forth used some kind o' spell to free a gnome all done up in Asmodean duds (so wrong I didn't even want to ponder it), but he couldn't even run across a series o' logs without fallin' over. Sorry excuse for a gnome. I told him to be better, but he just spewed some obscenities at me, so I was done with him. Forth, bein' Forth, flew on in and started bashin' at all the rats. Seems like a dumb idea to me, too, but with his smitin' and his magic hammer 'n' his bein' a dwarf 'n' all, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, o' rats dyin' with every blow. Llew was bein' more sensible and shootin' the thing with arrows, and maybe she was killin' tens o' rats instead o' hundreds, but she wasn't gettin' eaten, either. Alembic was droppin' Fireballs all over the place, and they were the special kind that didn't hurt Forth, so he was doing almost as good as Forth was, or maybe better.
'Cept Forth was lookin' bad. I landed next to the second captive I was goin' to rescue (not the gnome!) and tried to taunt the rats to come get me again (not my smartest idea ever), but they liked Forth better 'n' kept biting him.

We kept fightin', 'n' Jocelyn called out that the god-rat-thingy wasn't doin' so well, so should she drink the draught or not? Llew asked Forth how long he could hold out, and he said he could last a little longer, but then she made the mistake of askin' him what he thought we should do, 'n' he said we should kill it. So Jocelyn drank the draught, Forth, Llew, and Alembic dropped the rat thingy, and I didn't even manage to make it to the second prisoner. Jocelyn flew in and did her thing and killed it permanent-like, so I figured we'd won, but Alembic 'n' Llew 'n' Jocelyn seemed a little disappointed it was so easy. I was just as happy not to get covered with rats again.
We freed up the prisoner, 'n' me 'n' the gnome didn't kill each other, so there was that, 'n' we took 'em all back to town on our MAGIC HORSES THAT CAN WALK ON WATER!!! And no, the gnome didn't get to ride on MY horse. 'Cause he was a cuss.

The first thing I noticed when we got back to town was that there weren't any bands playin'. I was kind o' disappointed, but it was near midnight, so I figured the humans'd probably objected, what with them wantin' sleep 'n' all. I yelled out to try to start 'em up again, but Llew clamped down 'n' told me it was "Shut Up Time" again. She then thanked each and every one of us personally. Jocelyn smiled at me and tried to get a rise out o' me by tellin' me that I do a great job o' followin' orders. It was a good play for an Asmodean, but she just doesn't get the gnome mind. Neither do I, but I figured all I was doin' was listenin' to sensible advice, not followin' orders, so whatever.

We napped for a couple o' hours, but then it was time to get up 'n' go find out what new bad news Jacob had for us. I found one o' his runners 'n' tried to pull a fast one on Jocelyn by usin' my writ to order that she get all her mundane stuff for free for a week, 'cause I thought Lawful people'd hate that, but even I figured I'd messed up after only a few minutes o' thinkin' on it. Oh, well, Heddy's problem, not mine!

We met up with Jacob 'n' Jeremiah 'n' went over all the reports that came in, and there wasn't any terrible new news, but as I was over at the map lookin' it over 'n' writin' "Trig ate a bug here" on it 'n' tryin' to figure out a color they hadn't already used to add 'n' such, I noticed there were two big circular areas where all the reports were comin' back hunky-dory, which really didn't make any sense 'cause there was trouble everywhere else. So we had somethin' new to look into! 'Cept first we had some catapults to deal with.
Once we'd got the reports, the two of 'em looked us over, 'cause two o' the prisoners had boobonic plague, which apparently makes your boobs fall off, but I didn't figure guys'd have trouble with that, but they were checking us. Good job it wasn't a touchy kind o' thing, 'cause humans aren't my type, but apparently my girls were safe.
I went to resupply and get some grease 'n' antiplague, 'n' Alembic shelled out for the antiplague. Y'know, he really isn't such a bad guy once you get over the hump, and now that he had that staff even that was gone...

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Session 29, Played 11-Nov-2018

So, I think my favorite part o’ bein’ with this group is tryin’ to figure out whether we’re sleepin’, or eatin’, or settin’ out, or washin’ our socks, or whatnot. It was the middle o’ the night, and Llew said she’d get her spells back at dawn, but Forth got his at sundown, and Alembic got his whenever he was lazy, so you’d figure he always had spells, but apparently there’s a special art to bein’ lazy enough to get your spells back, and that takes some real peace and quiet. Kind o’ explains why he doesn’t seem to like me all that much. But like I said, he’s gettin’ better. Once you get to know me you can’t help but warm to me.

Anyhoo, first we were goin’ to nap for a couple o’ hours and then head out. Then we were goin’ to wait ’til dawn. Then we were goin’ to wait ’til later in the day. Then we were just goin’ to go on a bender and fall asleep drunk in a gutter somewhere (oh, sorry! That was just Forth!). I watched the whole thing with glad amusement; I figured they MUST be doin’ it for my entertainment, ‘cause it was all kinds o’ fun! Eventually sense won out: We wanted Llew to be in top form and we didn’t want to fight the boats in the dark, so we waited ’til mornin’ and I got a couple hours’ rest, and Llew got to pray or kill undead or do whatever it is she does to get her powers back from Pharasma every day. I don’t know why she had to; if I were Pharasma and I saw all the undead killin’ Llew was doin’, I’d just say, “Here, have the lot of ‘em!” and be done with all that prayin’ ’n’ stuff. But I’m not a god (yet), so I figure there must be some reason for it, so we waited for Llew.

Once we were up and Llew was done, we headed downstairs for breakfast. And there were PRESENTS! Waiting for US!!!!! The innkeep gave Forth and Alembic theirs first, ‘cause they just got flowers and thank-yous, and everyone knows that’s what you get men when you can’t think of anything else to give ‘em ‘cause they don’t know what to do with ‘em and they stand around lookin’ abashed and awkward with a bunch o’ dead plants in their arms and it’s all kinds o’ fun! I wish I’d thought of it! Then he reached down behind the counter and brought up this HUGE ol’ basket o’ fancy fruits ’n’ jarred stuff ’n’ preserved meats ’n’ who knew what else, and I was sure it was for me, ‘cause it’d take me all day to open every jar and taste it and mix ‘em together to see what colors I could make and what every color tasted like and which ones were nasty and which were poisoned and which burned and I was gettin’ all excited but then he said it was for Llew and I was kind o’ disappointed ‘cause I would’ve been busy all day with that big ol’ basket, but it was probably better that Llew get it and not waste time. So by that time the innkeep knew I was itchin’ to see what I got, so he tried to pretend I didn’t get anythin’ but even *I* could see the twinkle in his eye ‘cause he wasn’t tryin’ very hard, but I loved him all the more for it, ’n’ he pulled out a fancy scroll tube for me ’n’ gave me a couple o’ magic scrolls! I was all excited, ’n’ read the note ’n’ it was a merchant who’d liked the bands, and asked me to please please return the scrolls if I didn’t use ‘em, so I figured he was one o’ those practical Asmodean or Abadarian types, but I figured he was doin’ his best to mean well so I didn’t hold it against him. ’Til I opened up the scrolls and they were a couple o’ Death Wards. Can’t get much more practical than that. So I turned on the charm and acted like I was all happy ’n’ excited, and I figured Llew could probably use ‘em better ’n’ I could, but I’d carry ‘em just in case the merchant was watchin’. But I’ve been trainin’ real hard at lyin’ and bein’ charmin’, so I’m sure he (or she) was convinced I was ecstatic with such a practical gift.

Practical gifts make children and gnomes cry.

But I didn’t, ‘cause I’m good that way.

I even did what the Asmodeans taught me was right ’n’ proper and wrote a thank you note in crayon, with lots of misspellings ‘cause “adults like that and think it’s cute”, at least that’s what the Asmodeans say. I tried usin’ my left hand to make it messier, and I didn’t know what language to use so I thought ‘bout usin’ goblin, ‘cause goblins don’t write so I’d be makin’ up my whole own personal language, but then I figured Common’d be better. I gave the note to the innkeep to give to “my benevolent benefactor” (see? I can be fancy when I want to!) and we headed for the gates.
I gotta admit, Alembic’s almost as clever as I am! He didn’t want the flowers any more than I wanted the scrolls, and the flowers weren’t even practical (I tasted one of Forth’s and it wasn’t worth eatin’), so he started actin’ all magnanimous and givin’ flowers to all the pretty human ladies we passed while ridin’ out o’ town. I had newfound respect for the man — he got rid o’ the flowers and made people like him for doin’ it!

Alembic summoned us some more Phantom Steeds, but I was all out o’ camouflage-y ideas, so I said I just wanted it plain brown, just ‘cause it would be fun to see the looks on everyone else’s faces. Alembic made it brown, but with lighter and darker stripes so it looked all exotic! It was awesome! Told you Alembic was gettin’ better!
We rode up the river for a while, bein’ careful to look for stuff so it was pretty slow, but it was OK ‘cause I was on a horse that WALKED ON WATER, and eventually Llew spotted a bunch o’ ghouls comin’ along the river the other way, ‘cause her special pink eyes are real good at that stuff. Girls with pink or purple eyes. We’re better than the rest o’ the world!

Anyhoo, once Llew pointed ‘em out I could see ‘em too, but Forth ’n’ Alembic still had trouble, so we were goin’ to have to move forward for ‘em. Before we went, Alembic put the stony skin stuff on us, which I appreciated, and then made us fly, which I also appreciated. So I flew up to take a look-see, and it was really strange; the ghouls were all movin’ along in a line along the river, careful-like. I couldn’t see all of ‘em, but fillin’ in the holes I figured there were 3 ghouls on each side of the river, each about 100 feet from the next, and all six of ‘em formin’ some kind o’ skirmish line. So… the big question was, skirmish line for what? Even 6 ghouls weren’t much of a match for a well-armed patrol, and there weren’t any people still livin’ on the river between them and the town (we knew ‘cause we’d just rode along (or in) it). And spread all apart like that they were safe from fireballs, but easy pickings for anything else that might come along… like us!
Since we couldn’t figure out what the trap was, we figured we might as well spring it, ‘cause we’re dumb that way. ‘Cept us gnomes call it “fun”! Alembic hit a ghoul with Magic Missiles and it dropped, so I shot one but it knew I was there so I didn’t so much of anythin’ to it, so Llew killed it for me to make me feel better. She’s nice that way. Forth still doesn’t have a bow, and his breath doesn’t reach that far, so he just kind o’ floated ‘round, like a great bearded beer keg with feet and a smelly beard. Speakin’ o’ such, it was probably time for me to trick him into fallin’ in the river again, ‘cause that’s how you get a dwarf to bathe. Handy that we were right above one!

The trap sprung, and I gotta admit, none of us were ‘specting it. ‘Cause we heard some whistlin’ and then some great giant rocks came rainin’ down from the sky on all of us! It hurt. A LOT. In fact, I figure if Alembic hadn’t protected us all, we might’ve died right then ’n’ there. All the ghouls around us sure did. ‘Cause when you’re undead you don’t care if you hit your friends, ‘cause you don’t have any. Which is why they’re angry all the time, I figure. Our phantom steeds all got blown up, too, but I was flyin’ now so I really didn’t need Brownie any more.
I figured the best thing to do was take cover and head for the direction of the barges so I did, but Alembic had different ideas and put up a bank o’ fog and told everyone to get near him so he could Dimension Door ‘em all to the barges. Llew called for me to come with ‘em, but I was a long way away already and they were already in the fog, so I figured I’d catch up with ‘em and I called out the same.

Big mistake. I don’t know who was listenin’, but I got hit by another barrage o’ rocks. I figured at least I was keepin’ ‘em from hittin’ anyone else, but hoo boy did it hurt! I was bleedin’ all over the place, so I tried to get Ornery to work for me, but he was mad ‘cause he kept gettin’ hit by rocks and I had to fly through the trees ’n’ stay hidden. The next time the rocks fired most of ‘em missed me, but a few more hit me and I was beginnin’ to think I was in real trouble, so I hid better and moved farther and hoped they’d miss me next time. They did. Which made ‘em stop shooting for a minute.
I *finally* heard fightin’ in the distance, which meant Forth ’n’ Llew were at it, so I figured it was time to go airborne and figure out who was where.

All the rock-throwin’ things (I’m gonna call ‘em catapults, ‘cause no one can stop me) on the ends were firin' at the catapults in the middle, so I figured that was where Llew and Forth were. I drank a potion to make myself invisible and flew towards the front barge, figurin’ I’d drop a Bead of Force on the main deck just to gum things up, help Forth ’n’ Llew out a bit ‘cause I’m sure they didn’t like gettin’ hit any more than I did, and stop up the whole flotilla. While I was flyin’, I pulled out Healy ‘cause Ornery was mad and Healy worked just fine. I was feelin’ pretty good by the time I got within range o’ the first barge, and then it blew up. Dang it, Alembic! All the zombies on it died, and there was one guy still standin’ but he didn’t look like he was goin’ to be doin’ much all by his lonesome, so I headed for the second barge. As I headed to the second barge, Alembic blew it up, too! I got pretty mad so I started flyin’ in to kill the guy on it who’d survived, but Alembic Magic Missiled both guys to death at once, then the other catapults blew up the front barge. What the heck!?!?!? The other catapults didn’t sink the second boat, so I landed on it and started tryin’ to steer it, but there was no steerin’! I was ‘bout to set the whole mess on fire, but then I figured Llew ’n’ Forth’d get mad at me if I destroyed stuff they might be able to use, so I just waited for ‘em.

Eventually they caught up with us, and they were all beat up and bloody just like I’d been, but we’d won! All but two of the barges were destroyed, and all the undead were dead! We could let those two barges float on down the river to the city and they’d get some extra armaments, and no one’d be breachin’ the walls from this side!

So I might’ve been useless, but we won anyway, and that’s what counts. Right, Alembic?

Alembic teleported us back to town, and a whole bunch o’ people started cheerin’ for us ’n’ such, ‘cause they figured we’d done a good job before even askin’ whether we’d won, which was kind o’ silly, but kind o’ nice ‘cause it showed they had faith in us, and everyone else in the group said they were goin’ to rest ’til evenin’ before goin’ and investigatin’ that “invisible” spot to the north.
So we reported in to Jacob and Jeremiah and Jocelyn and Jacoby and Jo Jo and whatever other Js happened to be around, just ‘cause, and I refilled my alchemicals, and this time Llew helped me out (I love my group!), so I had a day to wander around town doin’ whatever I wanted. Trouble was, I was pretty tuckered from gettin’ no sleep the night before, so I couldn’t think of anythin’ fun to do with King Heddy’s writ, which was a sure sign I was feelin’ low, so I napped for a few hours.

I (and everyone else in town, I figure) got woken up by alarm bells just after sunset, and just outside the walls was a HUGE horde-o-undead (have you horde o’ undead? ‘Course I’ve horde of ‘em!) that came down from the north through the invisible spot. Fortunately, since there were no catapults to help ‘em, they just kind o’ milled around. We still figured we needed to check out the invisible spot, and I wanted to go at night when we’d be able to hide better, but Llew ’n’ Forth had more sense ’n me and reminded me that undead are more powerful at night ’n’ see better, too, so unless anything more dangerous came along we should wait ’til mornin’. Since I’d just finished a nap, I found a big stock o’ small arrows for myself and entertained myself for a bit shootin’ zombies ’n’ skeletons (I got pretty good at poppin’ up, shootin’ ‘em, and poppin’ back down again), but after a couple o’ hours that got borin’, so I wandered around town, had somethin’ to eat, reassured everyone that was worried that we were on it and they’d be fine, and just tried to help town morale, ‘cause they needed it. Then when I figured I could probably sleep some more, I went to bed. Seemed like a kind o’ borin’ day for me, all in all, but it was different, and different’s more important than “not borin’”.

We got up at the crack o’ dawn, did whatever it is Llew ’n’ Alembic have to do, and Alembic Dimension Doored us way past all the undead, then summoned Phantom Steeds for us. I asked for one that was hot pink with purple hearts, and he gave me one! I figured the best defense against invisible stuff is to be extra-visible. We rode north for a while ’til Llew spotted a camp up ahead. Alembic wanted to just Fireball it from a distance. I figured that wasn’t a very bright idea ‘cause we knew some of our guys were out here, too, and it didn’t seem like zombies and skeletons needed campfires and food. But Llew ’n’ Forth also assumed they were bad guys, so maybe I was wrong. There was some debate as to whether or not I should scout ahead. I thought I wasn’t s’posed to ‘cause I was small ’n’ easy to lose, but they finally told me to go ahead so I did, and it looked like a bunch o’ town guards. Win for Trig!
I went back ’n’ told the group, ’n’ they came with me as we walked up to talk to the guys. Everything seemed totally normal to me; they just hasn’t seen anythin’ was all. I mean, they missed me sneakin’ right up on ‘em; they probably just weren’t very good was all. Llew ’n’ Forth did a bunch of magicky stuff I didn’t understand, and the guards didn’t understand it either so they didn’t mind. But once we moved away from ‘em Forth told us they were evil, ’n’ LLew said there were zombie tracks all through camp, but they really honestly didn’t know about ‘em. In fact, she said they were dominated, and her Magic Circle Against Evil hadn’t helped ‘em, so we were probably up against somethin’ that was pretty good at messin’ with people’s minds. I stuck close to Llew ’n’ her circle.

We talked about whether or not to take ‘em out peaceful-like (I don’t do “peaceful-like” very well), but they decided it was better to leave ‘em alone so they wouldn’t report anything unusual, such as bein’ unconscious and tied up. We kept scoutin’ around, and found three more camps that were pretty much the same: Evil guys, dominated, zombies had come through and they hadn’t noticed ‘em. I had no idea what to do with all of ‘em, so I kept my mouth shut. We came on a fourth camp, and I didn’t notice anythin’ different, but once we’d done all the usual stuff and gone out o’ camp Llew said that this group was different: They were all disguised shapeshifters (how Llew could tell that I didn’t even want to ask), and they weren’t dominated this time. Forth told us they were still evil, so we decided it was time to buff up and go in.

Unfortunately, they were expectin’ just that, so as we headed back in we didn’t even get halfway back before all four of ‘em teleported all around us (always a bad sign, since as far as I know town guards don’t teleport), plus three more things that didn’t look undead ‘cause they didn’t look human at all — they were all gaunt, skin-n-bone things with hooves and claws and pointy teeth. I figured they were some kind o’ evil outsider, but heck if I knew any more’n that.

So they’d surprised us ’n’ we were all surrounded, so first things first was to make a safe space for everyone to get to so we could watch each others’ backs. I got all dancy and moved to a clear space, ’n’ they didn’t even swing at me ‘cause they probably figured I was dancin’ too much. I told Forth to follow me so we could set up a defense, but he saw that Alembic was in trouble and instead o’ movin’ away from the guards ’n’ demon things he stepped into the middle of them! Worse’n that, he didn’t even try to defend himself; he just started whackin’ on one like he hadn’t a care in the world. So they tore him up somethin’ awful. Llew tried to help, but they were tough buggers, ’n’ Alembic stepped back and got off his rolly waterball spell, but it only got a couple of ‘em, and we were facin’ 7: 4 guards and 3 demon-thingies. ‘Cept the demon-thingies seemed to be affected by one o’ the circles but not the other. Can’t say I understood it at all, but one is better’n none.
So I managed to get a flank with Forth, ’n’ I stabbed one of the guards and willed his protective spells to go away (it’s something I can do if I’m feelin’ ornery, and Forth was bleedin’ so much I was feelin’ awfully ornery) and he turned into some really pretty demon-lady in guard’s clothing. So I didn’t feel so bad ‘bout stabbin’ her at all. But she had that tough skin that said it was goin’ to be a looong fight.
O’course, then they all started tearin’ up Forth again, and he dropped again, and considerin’ all the blood ’n’ pieces I figured we were out a few thousand gold again, but it was startin’ to happen so often I couldn’t even really get mad about it any more; just more of an, “Oh, there he goes again,” moment. I’m goin’ to have to talk to that dwarf. Once he’s alive, o’course. Talkin’ to him when he’s dead doesn’t do much good to anyone.

I moved into the middle o’ the group of ‘em ‘cause I figured that was the only way to protect Llew ’n’ Alembic, ’n’ they got all grabby at me but I’m pretty dodgy when I want to be, so it all seemed pretty good… ’til Alembic said he was goin’ to drop ‘em all into a pit around me and I said that was a fine idea, ‘cept he did it when I was only on one foot so I ended up fallin’ into the pit with one o’ the demon guys. So I don’t rightly know what was goin’ on topside after that. I know that Forth was dead (or near enough not to matter), Llew was busy choppin’ up 6 guys (she’d dropped one of ‘em while I was watchin’), and Alembic had just dropped me in a pit full o’ acid.
So, the fall didn’t hurt ‘cause I can make myself fall all light-like, but the acid hurt like heck, and I was swimmin’ in it ‘cause I couldn’t touch the bottom! Fortunately, I’m a pretty good swimmer so I could swim ’n’ pull out Spidey, then use Spidey ’n’ start climbin’ out. The demon guy tried to grab me ’n’ hit me ’n’ such, but I’d used Shieldy ’n’ Llew’d used some spell on me, so he really didn’t have a chance and I left him in the pit.

Once I was topside, Forth was still dead, Alembic was nowhere to be seen, and Llew was takin’ on the other 5 guys alone. So I helped her out. Her circle was holdin’ off the demon guys, so she did something so I could hear her mind, which was really pretty cool, and that helped us wipe the walls with the last three demon ladies, and durin’ that time the other demons vanished, so we ended up winnin’. ‘Cept dead Forth. Once everythin’ was dead Alembic showed up and claimed he’d been killin’ invisible demons. I’m gullible, but not that gullible.

I tried to cut off all the demon-ladies’ heads, but I couldn’t cut through their skins, so Llew did it for me. Made me feel better. Then we searched the camp and found all kinds o’ incriminatin’ evidence: Apparently the demon-ladies were succubi, and they could make people their willin’ slaves if the people’d accept a “profane gift” from ‘em. And they’d convinced all kinds o’ people to accept their “gifts”: Not just the guards, but several o’ the high-up Cheliaxians in town, including Heddy’s advisor and some higher-ups in the Asmodean temple. In other words, all the people who’d skedaddled at the first sign o’ trouble. I didn’t know much about how the rest o’ the law worked, but I did know that Asmodeus wouldn’t take kindly to his clerics acceptin’ profane gifts from demons, so I figured we at least had to show the books to Jocelyn, ‘cause it’d make her happy, and I liked her, evil ’n’ all.

We teleported back to town with the records, and the people all started wailin’ when they saw Forth dead, but we reassured ‘em he did it all the time, and it was part o’ his combat tactics, and then we started countin’ our cash to see whether we could bring him back again; I figured the clerics’d probably be willing to cast the spells for free, but there was still 6000 gp worth of diamond dust to round up…

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Trig the Gnome wrote:

Session 29, Played 11-Nov-2018

{. . .} But I’m not a god (yet) {. . .}

That's a scary thought for the future . . . .

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You guys really needed to invest in some truly heavy armor and a good shield for Forth. That boyo keeps getting mauled to death!

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So if you ever want to feel like a schmuck, spend all your money on little doodads like the really cool Bead of Force I’m carryin’ around, but then look at your big dead friend ’n’ his floppy lifeless beard ’n’ watch the tray goin’ around gatherin’ donations to bring him back, and know that you can’t put more than a few hundred on the tray ‘cause you spent too much on toys. Then watch everyone else pony up, and loot the dead guy’s bag for gold and find out that there’s more than enough, and feel much better ‘bout your toys!

Trouble was, we had some news that couldn’t wait, so we ended up cartin’ Forth’s body ‘round town as we checked in with Jacob and Jeremiah and showed ‘em the list o’ Friends o’ the Succubi so they’d know who not to trust, then we had to show it to Heddy, who didn’t seem all that surprised to see that his chief advisor was on the list, ’n’ then we had to go see Jocelyn ‘cause it’d be fun but we didn’t want to drag Forth’s corpse around her temple ‘cause he wouldn’t’ve liked it and she would’ve and I don’t like her THAT much, so Alembic watched over Forth’s body while Llew ’n’ I paid a visit to Jocelyn. The same ol’ hellknight was there, but heck if I could find a way to irritate him, so I’d kind o’ just given up and Llew asked politely to see Jocelyn. He seemed displeased to see me, so there was at least that; that cheered me up a bit.

Jocelyn had us in and we showed her the list and at first she just started talkin’ ‘bout the weak-minded needing pacts with demons to get stronger ‘stead o’ doin’ it themselves the proper way, so I pointed out all the clerics of Asmodeus on the list. I swear I expected her to titter. She didn’t, ‘cause she was all right ’n’ proper, but I know she wanted to. I would’ve. I told her I didn’t want to know what would happen to ‘em, but I expected she’d be doin’ a Sendin’ to Cheliax ’n’ causin’ ‘em some troubles, but she said it’d be better to wait ’n’ got an evil gleam in her eye that only clerics of Asmodeus can really get right and I almost felt bad for the other clerics. ‘Cept they’d first started worshippin’ Asmodeus, and then turned from him to make deals with demons, which kind o’ meant they deserved whatever was comin’. And now I really didn’t want to know. ‘Cause it wasn’t gonna be “just punishment” nor “just” punishment; it was gonna be really, really awful. And I just didn’t want to know. We finished our tea and cookies, and I figured now Jocelyn owed me, but I’d have to work out with Llew how to ask for a favor without damning my soul, which is apparently pretty hard, but first we had to go raise Forth.

This time we let the temple o’ Torag raise him, ‘cause it seemed kind o’ appropriate, ’n’ he got up all dazed ’n’ confused ’n’ I almost played hide ’n’ seek with him in his own beard but I figured Llew wouldn’t’ve approved so I stayed out. Besides, he’d been dead. Who knew what kind o’ zombie lice were livin’ in there, just waitin’ for some innocent young gnome to crawl in and be consumed, never to be heard from again?
It was still pretty early in the day, but I didn’t have enough gold to buy anythin’ fun, and Llew ’n’ Alembic ’n’ Forth all needed rest, so I joined ‘em at the tavern ’n’ did some drinkin’ ’n’ dancin’ ’n’ whatnot ’n’ turned in early to prepare for another day o’ killin’ necromancers.

In the mornin’ I popped up and found Forth and it didn’t seem like his latest death had done his brain any good at all. He was havin’ some kind o’ beer or somethin’ for breakfast, which I didn’t think was dwarven custom but I’d never much paid attention, but he also wasn’t all that excited ‘bout killin’ necromancers or anythin’ else for that matter. He just seemed down Even his beard wasn’t its usual dangerous-lookin’ self. Trouble was, the only ways I know of to cheer someone up involve property damage or bodily injury (or both), and I knew Forth wouldn’t’ve liked either o’ those, so I thought that sittin’ quietly and behavin’ myself might help. I did my best! I think I was still and quiet and good for at least 44 seconds. But he didn’t seem all that much cheerier after it, so I figured cheerin’ him up was beyond me, and Llew’d take care of it, ‘cause Llew can do anythin’. Eventually Llew ’n’ Alembic came down, but they didn’t do anythin’ other than put up a Magic Circle ’n’ teleport us to the succubus camp; I figure Llew figured killin’ some necromancers was what was needed to make Forth right. ‘Cause Forth is all dour ’n’ serious all the time anyway. Being even more dour’n that was just depressin’.

It didn’t look like anyone’d been at the succubus camp, but we decided we should be careful anyway, so I snuck on ahead to lead the way while everyone else came up behind. ‘Cept apparently walkin’ in a straight line in the woods is impossible. I’d cut ahead, go under a bush, duck past a log, and slip through some rocks, then pop up to look for everyone else, and either they were wanderin’ all zig-zaggy through the woods, or I was. And bein’ a gnome, I know that whenever anyone gets accused o’ bein’ zig-zaggy, it’s probably the gnome. So we gave up on that idea and I was a little miffed that I couldn’t even walk a straight line right. But a little proud, too.

As we got closer to where the necromancer camp was s’posed to be, the bushes got thicker ’n’ tanglier so we had to clamber over ’n’ under ’n’ around ‘em, and it was a grand ol’ time, ‘cept I kept gettin’ lost ’n’ havin’ to find Llew. Llew was surprisingly nimble, but you kind o’ expect that she can do anythin’. Alembic managed to keep up, and even Forth made a good go of it. I was proud of him! Even if he was so sad I wanted to think up a new name for him! For some reason I kept thinkin’ either “Eeyore” or “Marvin”. No idea where those came from!

Once Llew figured we were about half an hour out, I tried to use Spidey on myself but he decided he hated me (probably for not usin’ him sooner and havin’ all that fun without him), but Alembic made him work, so now I could stick to all the trees ’n’ bushes ’n’ it was almost as fun as bein’ dipped in glue and chased by a bear, but probably not quite as much fun. I handed out antitoxin to everyone ’n’ they drank it down without a thought, so it looks like it’s about time to test out that vomit capsule on Alembic again. Gotta teach people to be careful what they drink!

We moved forward again, but pretty soon Llew ’n’ I spotted a skeleton lookout in a little crow’s nest in a tree. It was kinda cute, if kinda creepy undead cute. I told everyone I could just go up ’n’ kill it quiet-like, but they wanted Alembic in range in case things went wrong, ’n’ he needed to be a lot closer. And Forth was gettin’ through the bushes, but it wasn’t graceful. Kind o’ like a whale givin’ birth to a giant hedgehog that then rolled down through a slope o’ brambles and landed on a beehive in the mud. So Alembic turned him invisible so the noise wouldn’t sound like it was comin’ from anywhere, and I had to admit, it seemed to make him quieter. Though less fascinatin’ to watch.
But we made it close enough that Alembic could see the skeleton without it seein’ us, so I snuck up to the tree ’n’ started climbin’ the back side of it. ’N’ that special sense I get when somethin’ isn’t right went off, and I concentrated like I do, and there was some kind o’ spell protectin’ the tree. So I took it off ‘cause I’m good at that kind o’ thing and kept goin’ up the tree. Once I was behind the skeleton, I popped out ’n’ stabbed it but good, but it just kind o’ dangled ’n’ rattled around. It didn’t seem all that dangerous to me. So I gave Llew the thumbs-up ’n’ came down ’n’ told her I’d killed it, but she said it hadn’t been a skeleton, and I said it sure was ‘cause it had bones ’n’ everythin’, so she said it hadn’t been an animated skeleton. I couldn’t argue with that one.

Alembic got that constipated look he gets when he’s concentratin’, and he said that we couldn’t be more than a couple hundred feet from the camp, ‘cause the Alarm spell I’d taken down didn’t go all that far. So we looked around Llew said she could hear the camp nearby. We backed up quite a bit and buffed up. ‘Parently I’d done so much to impress the group in my battle with the inanimate skeleton that they decided to make me a front-liner. I got my own Magic Circle, and Bull’s Strength, and Fly, and Llew used one o’ the scrolls o’ Death Ward on me, so I was feelin’ pretty good ‘bout stabbin’ things. We moved back toward the camp as quickly as we could without bein’ stupid-noisy, and once I spotted the camp (I figured I had an unfair advantage over Llew ‘cause it was disguised as bushes, and I’m always on a wary relationship with bushes so I notice ‘em) I pointed it out to Alembic and he Dimension Doored us on in.

I was all ready to just start stabbin’ anyone in creepy robes who wasn’t tied up, but before I could do anythin’ Forth told ‘em all that they could surrender and they wouldn’t get hurt. So I was stuck waitin’ for ‘em to do somethin’ stupid so I pulled out Shieldy and protected myself, while Alembic Hasted all of us to make the inevitable killin’ go faster. Llew was doin’ Llew stuff; all I know is that she was doin’ magic out o’ respect for not killin’ anythin’ ’til Forth told us it was OK. Then Forth just started whacking on one of ‘em! I swear! That dwarf! Just wants to hog all the glory and then die in every fight! As if to prove my point, he moved deeper among all of ‘em to draw their fire. ‘Cept when you’re a flat-footed slow dwarf makin’ yourself the target of a bunch o’ casters isn’t particularly bright. So at first count I saw 5 or 6 guys, but as they moved around and shot a bunch o’ acidic arrows at us and summoned some black tentacle thingies, we got up to 8. So the tentacles weren’t much of a problem, but I know all of us got hit by at least one o’ the arrows, and they stung. Another guy tried to do somethin’ to Forth but it didn’t work. Llew told me later it was ‘cause of her anti-death field. Which just sounds cool. So Alembic got grabbed by the tentacles, ‘cause Alembic, so since somethin’d actually touched him he teleported away, ‘cause Alembic. I figured we probably wouldn’t see him again, so Llew ’n’ I flew over to help out Forth and together the two of us dropped one of ‘em. One down, seven to go! And one of ‘em was caught in his friend’s black tentacles! Then Forth started showin’ off and just pulped one of ‘em inside his own tent! I was glad I couldn’t see it all that clearly, ‘cause the smacking sounds were… bad. Guess Forth doesn’t care for necromancers! Can’t blame him!

‘Course, the necromancers now had all of us ‘cept Cowardly all lined up in a nice little bunch. A whole bunch more black tentacles popped up, ’n’ Forth ’n’ Llew got grabbed, and I was only safe ‘cause I’d been dancin’ up a storm so they just barely missed me. Things were lookin’ ugly, ‘cept then a HUGE Fireball nearly blinded ’n’ deafened me as Alembic dropped somethin’ really nasty from the sky. From where I could see, I think he got 3 or 4 o’ the remainin’ guys, plus about 3/4 o’ their big tent, plus a bunch o’ the little tents, plus lots and lots of black tentacles (not to self: They don’t burn). OK. I don’t get to call him Cowardly any more, ‘cause that was pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, I know my job. I had to grease up either Llew or Forth to get ‘em back in the fight. And sorry, Forth, lookin’ at that beard, I just wasn’t goin’ to touch it. So I stopped dancin’, knowin’ full well I was goin’ to tentacle town, and greased up Llew. And yeah, I got grabbed, so I didn’t see much o’ what was goin’ on after that. I know Forth got loose first ‘cause my grease wasn’t good enough for Llew (need to get better grease), and I figured I’d just squirm loose and… HEY! You do NOT put a tentacle THERE, mister! I was a little too flustered and indignant from their impropriety so I didn’t quite get loose, but I heard Alembic’s Lightning Bolt go off and some Forth bashing (that is, bashing bein’ done by Forth, not TO Forth), and then it was quieter and I extricated myself from the oh-so-inappropriate tentacle and Llew did the same (though I didn’t see whether hers were so bad).

So we started cleanin’ up, makin’ sure bodies were really bodies and not just undead horrors playin’ possum like we’d seen before, and checkin’ in the big tent Alembic blew up and whatnot. There were the remains of a desk in the tent, and desk meant paperwork, ’n’ Llew was pretty peeved ‘cause any paperwork that’d been in there really wasn’t there any more. The rest o’ the destruction was a bunch o’ broken lab equipment ’n’ burned up bodies, but I figured they were probably zombies that never got a chance to come out and harass us. Forth gave us some healin’ ‘cause he’s good that way, and Alembic set to tryin’ to use magic to bring back the biggest o’ the burnt-up books he’d found while Llew ’n’ I stood watch when we heard another guy comin’ through the bushes. ‘Cept he knew we were there, too, ‘cause he sent a big ol’ cloud o’ somethin’ our way. I didn’t get to find out what it was, ‘cause I was too far back to get hit and Alembic dispelled it before it could spread out ’n’ get me, and I have to admit, even as a gnome I really didn’t feel like I’d missed out on anythin’ by not smellin’ it. We all charged towards him ’n’ he had three prisoners chained up in front of him to try to protect himself, but we were flyin’ so they weren’t goin’ to do much good, so he cast somethin’ at me and for a moment I started to feel all squirrel-like but then the fancy bead the man’d said would protect me from bein’ turned into anythin’ (like a squirrel) broke with a loud POP! and I stayed normal. So I figured that was a thousand gold well spent! ‘Cept now I needed another one! I hoped these guys were rich!

Alembic sped us up ‘cause I think he’s gettin’ impatient with how slow we kill things so they always get a chance to grab him and he doesn’t like that ‘cause he’s not the huggy sort, ’n’ we all flew up ’n’ started beatin’ on him. ‘Cept Forth, who first healed the prisoners, ‘cause Forth’s a good guy that way. Our bad guy tried to do somethin’ all black ’n’ dark ’n’ nasty, but Llew had somethin’ up that protected both us and the prisoners. And no, sorry. I can’t be more descriptive. I didn’t know what the heck was goin’ on! I just knew my stabbin’ target was tryin’ to fly away! So me ’n’ Forth ’n’ Llew went up and hit him some more, but sometimes we hit and sometimes we missed and it was pretty irritatin’, and he dropped a Fireball on the prisoners ’n’ Llew. Forth did his “save the innocents” thing and this time he didn’t die, nor did any o’ them, so good on you, Forth! Alembic shot the guy a little more and he dropped.

Llew started strippin’ him down and tyin’ him up all rough-like, and Forth started checkin’ on the prisoners, and Alembic was busy tryin’ to pat himself on the back with both hands, so when I came down I noticed the bad guy looked a lot like Forth on a bad day, so I asked Llew whether we were goin’ to let him die. I figured it was a rhetorical question ’n’ all. I mean, he’d just been usin’ dark magic ’n tryin’ to kill his prisoners, and I suppose tryin’ to turn me into a squirrel was mean, but I figure it probably would’ve been fun for a while, but anyhoo Llew gave me a look that said, “OK, you pointed it out, you save the man’s life.”
So I used Ornery, ‘cause I figured Ornery wouldn’t work on him, but he did, so I don’t understand Ornery at all.

Once everyone was safe ’n’ sound and those that needed to be were all tied up, Alembic got back to fixin’ the book, and eventually he got it done and it was some kind o’ borin’ plans for some borin’ fortress. And I knew, I just knew, that those plans meant that the fortress was already built and that was where we’d be goin’ next. But first we had to get the prisoners to safety, and the necromancer in nice bonfire. Oh, what? Jail? OK. Apparently jail.
While Alembic was fixin’ the book, Llew ’n’ I looked around for valuables, and I found quite a few rings ’n’ potions ’n’ whatnot that seemed valuable, so I gathered ‘em all up in a bundle and waited for Alembic to finish what he was doin’ so he could tell me what they were so I could sell ‘em. Llew got all stiff ’n’ quiet, but I figured it was ‘cause I’d found more loot than her, ‘cause she’d spent more time in the burnt-down tent. But we had extra time so we talked to the prisoners for a bit and, sure enough, the big tower was already built, and it even had a boss guy (apparently the general of this army, ‘cause apparently they needed a LOT of generals. I guess undead are like that). They’d been paraded in front of him, he’d picked a few, and the rest were brought here, presumably to be turned into zombies and sent at the town. Alembic guessed that they’d been able to create around 6 zombies an hour in this place, and they’d had a LOT of hours!

Alembic summoned horses for us (I chose yellow, ‘cause I didn’t remember choosing yellow before) and then he teleported back with the prisoners and the necromancer. We rode back, and it was a pleasant ride, though Llew was even quieter’n usual and Forth had an amazing amount of alcohol stashed away on his person, so he drank more’n he talked. OK. Maybe it wasn’t all that pleasant, but I was on a yellow horse so I had fun.

Once we got back to town, we found Alembic (I was kind o’ hopin’ he’d gotten lost on the teleport, but that would’ve been mean to the prisoners) and he’d debriefed Jacob and Jeremiah and we were all ready to interrogate the prisoner, which sounds an awful lot more fun than it is. ‘Cept Llew thought about it for a little while, and then told me I could actually DO somethin’, which really surprised me! But she said that she’d go in and be all mean and torture him a bit to get out whatever information she could, then I could go in and be all nice and mend his wounds and use my big purple eyes to get him to tell me stuff. It was a brilliant plan, ‘cept I didn’t want to be nice to him, so I was pretty relieved when he spilled his guts the moment Llew started askin’ him stuff. Heck, she didn’t even use pliers!

We didn’t learn a heck of a lot we hadn’t already figured out, though. He gave us a good description of the boss guy, and he’s definitely a demon of some kind, and the succubi looked up to him, so he’s a powerful demon. He’d choose some prisoners to do some pit fighting for his entertainment, and sent the rest on to become zombies. Once the necromancers had created all the zombies they could control, they’d send off the batch to the city and start on a new batch. A horrific, ruthlessly efficient operation we needed to shut down. Oh, wait! We had! Or had we? There was a big question as to how many o’ these camps there were. Necromancer boy didn’t know of any more, but I wouldn’t’ve told him about any more, either, so maybe his bosses were just smart 'bout that kind of thing.

We did get some ugly names, though. The demon’s name was Cargan, but he went by Carg. The Mother of Wight’s name was Ilkanya Alonore, and the necromancers worked for her, but had been ordered for work for Carg, but they didn’t like him. Ilkanya was called the Mother of Wights ‘cause she’d created the first wight many years ago (‘parently she’s hundreds of years old, at least), but wouldn’t that make her the “Maker of Wights”? I guess it depends on how she made ‘em, and once my brain went there I just didn’t want it to go any farther so I started thinkin’ ‘bout daisies. There was some other stuff ‘bout Carg bein’ the guy who summoned the succubi, the Mother of Wights bein’ in the mountains somewhere but I didn’t catch the name, and the exact location of Carg’s place so once we were done shoppin’ we could go chop him up.
Llew came out and I was wonderin’ whether it was goin’ to be my turn, but then we heard some hideous screamin’ and ran in and the guy was dead. Alembic said it’d been a Phantasmal Killer, which to me just meant, “Don’t go anywhere without Llew protectin’ your brain.”

So, the group handed me all the stuff so I could sell it off and, “Do what I do,” which is apparently shop. I wasn’t gonna argue. So I went to the market and I sold all the stuff that looked like it was worth sellin’, and kept all the stuff that looked like it was worth keepin’, and I got myself another bead, and replenished my alchemicals, and started thinkin’ ‘bout how to spend the rest o’ my share. But I figured I should talk to everyone else first.

I found Forth over at the temple o’ Torag, but he was havin’ some kind o’ deep conversation with his cleric. I was bettin’ it was on which beer was best or somethin’, but I didn’t want to be rude so I only interrupted long enough to tell Forth everythin’ I’d sold, who I’d sold it to, how many pretty things I’d seen, how bad daisies in the market taste ‘cause I guess dogs pee on ‘em, and once he started rollin’ his eyes in that impatient way o’ his that say it’s time for me to go so he can get back to drinkin’, I moved on.

Llew ’n’ Alembic were deep in conversation, too. She was sayin’ somethin’ ‘bout him needin’ to be more careful about blowin’ stuff up, but I got that lecture every day when I was growin’ up and it never took, so I figured I could interrupt OK. She just stopped and told me we were fightin’ a manatee demon, and it had big blubber and tusks and was so stinky it made you stupid (I think she said sick and feebleminded) and we needed good-aligned weapons to take care of it so I had to borrow some money from her ‘cause those wands are ‘spensive and I left her to her talk with Alembic, though I knew it wasn’t goin’ to do any good, and then I thought, “Gee, if the manatee casts Feeblemind, wouldn’t it be great to have some o’ those rings o’ Counterspell I’d just sold?”


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I'm now kind of regretting having my GMPC slowly become alcoholic for a silly reason instead of dramatic and significant reasons like being killed time and time again while fighting horrific necromancers and the like.

Thank you for sharing these journals, btw :)

Trig the Gnome wrote:

{. . .}

“Gee, if the manatee casts Feeblemind, wouldn’t it be great to have some o’ those rings o’ Counterspell I’d just sold?”


Actually, depends upon whether the Manatee(?) Demon's Feeblemind ability actually counts as a spell, or as a Supernatural Ability (or even poison).

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Pretty sure it was a nalfeshnee demon, so a spell-like ability.

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Session 31, played 02-Dec-18

Well, it was too late to do anythin’ ‘bout the rings, ‘cause I’d sold ‘em fair ’n’ square, so we all went ‘bout our business, figurin’ we’d need to rest for the night anyway. I did some drinkin’, and some dancin’, and some cavortin’, but nothin’ serious ‘cause I was on the job ’til the siege was lifted, but I had a good time and went to bed happy. And did not get attacked by undead!

In the mornin’ we were all gettin’ up and doin’ our things ’n’ Forth was lookin’ even worse ’n usual so I offered him a drink ’n’ he said, “No,” so I knew somethin’ was wrong with him, but I was too polite to ask. ‘Sides, I knew he wouldn’t tell me anyway. So anyway, some page guy showed up and told us that King Heddy wanted to see us, and I got all excited and happy ‘cause Heddy’s a fun king, and he gave me that writ that let me make people do fun stuff, but nobody else seemed all that excited to see him. So I kind o’ had to lead them to the castle, and reminded ‘em not to go in the maze unless you like bein’ bored, and I said, “Hi,” to all the guards and they all waved me in ‘cause they’re good that way, and there was Heddy doin’ all kinds o’ good kingly stuff like makin’ arguin’ farmers fight it out (‘cause gettin’ out your aggression’s good sometimes) and lettin’ guys standin’ in line make decisions for other guys (‘cause “Justice o’ the People” ’n’ all that) and otherwise just bein’ a swell king, but when he heard we were there he stopped all that ’n’ put some random guy in charge and came back to see us. ‘Cause we’re important.

So Heddy was worried ‘cause Cheliax had send him a Sending telling him that they had a big ol’ army o’ Hellknights just waitin’ in the fortress east of us to help save the city and all we had to do was ask, and he wanted to know whether we needed ‘em. Now, I don’t much like Asmodeus, but I can work with him when I need to. Cheliaxians? They make Asmodeus seem like a drunken party-lovin’ pink unicorn in comparison! I told Heddy he should just give ‘em marchin’ orders… eastwards, where they wouldn’t cause anybody any trouble. ‘Cept I guess the people east o’ them. But hopefully it was mountains or wilderness or just a big ol’ cliff into the sea so they could test their Lawfulness, but nobody liked my idea. Llew ’n’ Forth just suggested that he thank ‘em kindly and ask ‘em to stay put, which was definitely more diplomatic than my answer, but not nearly as fun.
Eventually sense won out (Boo!) and Heddy decided he’d just politely ask ‘em to stay put.

Once that nonsense was all done with, I asked Alembic for a white pony with a sky blue mane and floofy hooves ‘cause I was goin’ to be stabbin’ a demon and everyone knows demons hate unicorns, but Alembic wanted to teleport all the way to the succubus camp, ‘cause he’s lazy that way and gets a sore butt real easy. Fortunately, after arguin’ ‘bout how long it would take to ride the whole way vs. how long it would take to teleport, then ride, Llew ’n’ Forth sided with me to save Alembic’s spells for when we needed ‘em, so I got my pony, complete with a little icicle horn ‘cause Alembic’s really a good guy when he’s not bein’ lazy or slouchy or tryin’ to get rid o’ flowers he didn’t want on unknowin’ ladies or things like that.

So we rode on out to where we expected the tower to be, ‘cept there was no tower to be found! We were confused for a bit, then Llew said she wanted to look at the plans again, and I got to be helpful ‘cause the Asmodeans had figured that ‘bout the only use I’d ever be would be stabbin’ goblins in their warrens, so they taught me a bit ‘bout readin’ maps ’n’ plans ’n’ the like so I’d know where to go to do the killin’, so I knew what a lot o’ the symbols meant and I could help Llew ’n’ Forth read ‘em and I got to feel all smart. ‘Cept I couldn’t read the writin’ and Alembic cast a spell and could read it, but I figured usin’ magic was cheatin’ anyway so I still felt good ‘bout it. See? The Asmodeans can be useful on occasion!

So, the tower was s’posed to be 70-90 feet across and 150 feet tall, with 9 stories, each one with an unfun theme like “poison” or “fire” or whatnot, so it wasn’t like we could possibly be missin’ it, so what gave?
Alembic figured it out from the writin’: The guys who’d built it had liked playin’ with dimensional stuff. Not only was there some kind o’ weird dimension-y stuff happenin’ in the middle shaft o’ the buildin’, and maybe some weird teleportin’ stuff (I wouldn’t’ve understood it anyway, but I don’t know that Alembic did, and he was the one readin’ it), but the whole buildin’ itself was hidden in a pocket dimension, which kind o’ explained why we couldn’t find it. We were wanderin’ around, lookin’ for a big ol’ buildin’, and what we were really s’posed to be lookin’ for was a little archway. Worst of all was the description of what the buildin’ was used for: They’d take 100 prisoners and let ‘em in on the bottom floor, and if they could make it to the top they’d get their freedom or whatever. But o’ course that’s always a trap, and any time someone tells you, “Do this to be free,” you know it’s the last thing you want to do, and sure enough they’d kill off a bunch o’ prisoners on every level, either by havin’ to fight demons or by trapped stairs or by fire or acid or poison, ’til by level 7 or 8 there’d be only one prisoner left, and that prisoner would get to face off against Carg the manatee demon and get gored ’n’ squished ’n’ stuff. Not very nice. Even the necromancers were decryin’ it as a waste o’ resources, ‘cause they were losin’ 100 people a week they could be “processin’” themselves, but all it said to me was that everyone and everythin’ involved in makin’ the tower, or livin’ or undyin’ inside of it, needed to die (or re-die).

Once we knew what we were lookin’ for, Alembic flew on up and told us he couldn’t see anythin’, and Llew looked around in the woods a bit and couldn’t find anythin’, so I suggested that since Llew was so good at trackin’ and all these necromancers had been runnin’ 100 guys a week to the tower, maybe there was a trail. Everyone acted like I’d grown a second head ‘cause I’d come up with a sensible idea. Some girls might be embarrassed, but I know my brain. Yeah, it surprised me, too.
We moved on up to where we expected would be a straight line between the necromancer camp and the tower, ‘cause if necromancers are anything like Alembic they’re lazy as sin and wouldn’t bother makin’ a path with turns in it if they could help it, and sure enough Llew found the path right away. We followed it and found this giant clearin’ where they’d quarried all the rock for the buildin’ and cut down all the trees ’n’ such, and all I can say is that I think Alembic’s been gettin’ into Forth’s stash, ‘cause how he missed it from way up high is beyond me.

Anyhoo, the arch was in the middle o’ the clearin’, and it had a pair o’ big bronze doors leadin’ in, and there was a big ol’ dragon-lizard-reptile thingy with a lot o’ heads on it chained up in front o’ the door. Fortunately, it was asleep, so I could count all 11 heads. It gave me a headache just thinkin’ ‘bout tryin’ to move around with 11 heads on, ‘cause Head 1 might want to go this way, and Head 2 might want to go that way, and Head 3 might want to lick itself, ‘cause animals do that a lot, but Heads 4 and 5 might be in the way o’ that kind o’ thing, and Head 6, and see? I’m gettin’ tired o’ thinkin’ ‘bout it and I’m not even halfway through the heads. Anyhoo, the beastie was asleep, and Alembic told us it was a “pyrohydra”, and any heads we cut off would just grow back two at a time, so we had to cut off heads one at a time and immediately seal them with acid. ‘Cept I was only carryin’ 3 bottles of acid, and I counted 11 heads. And Alembic, bein’ Alembic, didn’t have any acid-y spells that’d hurt the critter, ‘cause he likes fire ’n’ water ’n’ ‘lecricity instead, and the only acid spell he’s got is the pit spell for throwin’ in gnomes he doesn’t like and makin’ ‘em swim in it, and he claimed that spell wouldn’t fit the hydra. Or maybe he was just savin’ it for when I wasn’t payin’ attention again. Fat chance!

So since we didn’t have enough acid, and it wasn’t likely the necromancers would be bringin’ any more prisoners today, seein’ as they were all dead (the necromancers, not the prisoners. We saved a few o’ them!), Alembic teleported us back to town to stock up on alchemicals and spells, rest up (for no reason I know of, ‘cept Alembic’s lazy), and try again the next day. I didn’t feel much like carousin’, so I just commandeered a few random animals and tried to ride ‘em around town, and learned that pigs’re pretty smart ’n’ you can tell ‘em what to do ’n’ they’ll do it, but pig farmers are an ornery lot, even when you’ve got a writ from the king sayin’ it’s OK. They ought to be more loyal. Or maybe not. That one pig ran into so many boxes while I was tryin’ to cling to his ears that I might’ve messed up his meat somehow.

Anyhoo, next mornin’ we teleported back to the tower, all stocked up on acid, and had a plan: Llew ’n’ Forth’d chop heads, and Alembic ’n’ I’d acid ‘em. So Alembic put Stoneskin on us, ‘cause no matter what I say about him, he’s willin’ to spend cash to keep us all safe, so I ought to be nicer to him. But nah.
Then he protected us from fire, so I was beginnin’ to feel downright friendly towards him, and we flew in with our plan, and Llew chopped off a couple o’ heads and I threw some acid on ‘em and… what’s that?!?!?
Turns out my little acid pots weren’t enough to disable a head, so I had to hit a stump *and* Alembic had to hit a stump, and even then the chances were iffy, so we managed to disable one stump but the other one just popped out two heads fresh as daisies and we were back to square one. Y’know, Alembic, it would have been nice to know that we needed more powerful acid before we were in the middle o’ the fight!
I hated to do it to poor Forth, but I was goin’ to have to replace his stash with somethin’ weaker so that when Alembic snuck off with it he wouldn’t be quite so addle-brained. “I didn’t see any giant clearing! I forgot to mention that you need really strong acid!”
Sheesh, Alembic! I’m dryin’ you out!

So Llew was as sick o’ the plan as I was and she just started stabbin’ the thing’s body, and just like most critters when you mince its body up it stops movin’ around so much. Yeah, it was tryin’ to regenerate all over the place, but with Llew stabbin’ it constantly it couldn’t keep up with her, ’n’ Forth could cut off the heads easy-like, ’n’ Alembic ’n’ I could acid ‘em and make sure the acid was effective, so once we took the, ‘Kill it, then kill it” approach it worked out real well.
I checked the doors and it was a bunch of amateur stuff: An Arcane Lock and an Alarm spell, like a wizard who’d never met a rogue before. So I took off the Alarm spell, and picked the Arcane Lock just to be ornery, then Alembic cast Open on the door from a safe distance. Nothin’ came out.

We went in, and I’ll admit I’ve got a pretty strong stomach, but this was somethin’ else. There were literally hundreds o’ bodies piled in the middle o’ the room, and even as we watched another body came fallin’ through the ceilin’ to land on the pile. Alembic mentioned that that was probably that weird magic he’d been readin’ ‘bout on the center shaft, but it was the kind o’ thing I really didn’t need to know ‘bout, ‘cept on higher levels not to step into the middle o’ the chamber. There were flies buzzin’ all over the bodies, includin’ a few king-sized flies that were bigger’n I was, so I figured our first task was goin’ to be to kill them. ‘Cept since we were lettin’ light into the room we heard a bunch o’ cries, and we saw that throughout the room were cages crammed full o’ prisoners, packed so tight they couldn’t so much as turn around. So no Fireballs, Alembic.

It looked like we had a few dozen prisoners to free, with maybe 8 cages of 10 prisoners each, but I didn’t count ‘em all, I just got to work on the locks ‘cause it’s what I do, and everyone else started lookin’ round for other stuff to do. Forth decided I was too slow for his tastes, so he just started smashin’ away at the locks with his big ol’ axe, and all I could think was that I may be slow, but at least the people I was letting out were goin’ to have all their fingers and toes when I released ‘em. And gee, if there weren’t all these Arcane Locks I might be able to go a little faster. Yeah, I can get through ‘em, but I’ll admit, they slow me down quite a bit.

So things were goin’ just fine, with the flies buzzin’ and me pickin’ and Forth smashin’, and maybe it was like a song that some halfwit drunken orc worshipper o’ Rovagug might o’ come up with, but I didn’t think so. But then a new guy popped out, all impeccably-dressed and lookin’ like a nice maitre’d at some posh place like the Outsider Inn or some such, ‘cept he had a fly’s head ‘stead of a human head, and ‘stead o’ bein’ all welcomin’ he popped out and stabbed Forth with a knife and sucked on him with his proboscis, and Forth started lookin’ even worse’n usual when he’s drained. Plus his buzzin’. It was maddening. I just couldn’t focus on what I was doin’, and it looked like everyone else was havin’ the same issues, spendin’ half their time coverin’ their ears ’n’ swattin’ at imaginary flies ‘stead o’ tryin’ to kill nicely-dressed ugly-faced boy.

I got enough of a glance at his first swing to know he was rogue trained, and I was better, but I knew better than to tell Forth to get near me, ‘cause we all know how well that ended up. But someone called out that we all needed Good-aligned weapons ’n’ I had the wand for it, ‘cept I was havin’ all kinds o’ trouble tryin’ to do two things at once so I’d only just managed to get it out when Alembic did somethin’ and it was easier to move again. Sounded just like his Haste spell, but I don’t know why that helped with the distractin’ noise. It just did. So the little bugger (OK, he was taller than me, but shorter’n anyone else) kept turnin’ invisible and poppin’ out to backstab people, ’n’ he was smart enough not to backstab me, so I just make Llew’s weapon Good, figurin’ she’d do better’n me at hittin’ him, ’n’ Forth smote him, and I figured it was curtains for him, but he kept turnin’ invisible.

Finally he made the mistake o’ stabbin’ Alembic. ‘Cause Alembic’s a coward. And a sorcerer. And if you want to see the full fury o’ magic unleashed on your sorry butt, make Alembic feel endangered. So the guy did his stab-n-hide thing at Alembic, ’n’ Alembic lit up the entire area with a Glitterdust ‘cause he was scared. And there on top o’ one o’ the cages was fly guy, all conveniently blinded ’n’ everything. O’ course, Alembic’d blinded himself as well, but now that bughead couldn’t go invisible, I figured his job was done anyway. So I walked up and stabbed him (the bug, not Alembic, ‘cause I’d used Spidey before we came in.) So did Forth ’n’ Llew.
He decided he hated me the most (I was proud) ’n’ tried to stab me, but I was dancin’ and he missed, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth took him down. We chopped off his head ’n’ everythin’ ‘cause who knows what you’re supposed to do with fly guys. We didn’t happen to have a giant toad handy to eat ‘im.

We spend some time freein’ up the rest o’ the prisoners ’n’ makin’ sure Forth wasn’t too bad off, ‘cause he gets hit by everythin’, then we checked our map ’n’ it looked like the next level was the level o’ acid. So Alembic protected us from acid ’n’ I gave everyone antitoxin just in case ’n’ we headed up the steps, with Forth in the lead ’n’ me followin’ along to check for trapped stairs, ‘cause the map’d warned us about that kind o’ thing. The map lied.

There wasn’t any acid to be found; instead a big ol’ grey hand popped out o’ nowhere ’n’ grabbed Forth ’n’ banged him against a wall. I drank a potion o’ Darkvision to figure out what was goin’ on, and there were these big guys who looked kind o’ like elephants with no trunks and bitty little tusks. So faceless elephants, so I’ll just call ‘em “phant demons”. Llew ’n’ Alembic started helpin’ Forth, but near as I could tell two o’ the phant demons were just hangin’ back dispellin’ all our magics, ’n’ the other two were grabbin’ Llew ’n’ Forth and bangin’ ‘em somethin’ awful. With them grabbed, I couldn’t do much o’ anythin’ ‘cept grease up Llew ’n’ hope for the best. Alembic put up some kind o’ magic wall to keep the two in the back out, but they just teleported in. It wasn’t a bad idea, but I thought Alembic knew about demons. Guess I was wrong. Llew started choppin’ the livin’ daylights out o’ the one that had her grabbed, then Alembic shot some weird green beam at him and he just crumbled into ash. Nice one, Alembic!

Then the lights went out again. Stupid dispellin’ phants!
So it took me a minute, ‘cause I could tell I was kind o’ in danger, then I heard Alembic turn another one into ash (why didn’t he do that against the hydra, I wondered?), and I heard Forth gettin’ beatin’ on somethin’ awful, so I knew all was right in the world, then I fished out another potion o’ Darkvision and put it up again, ‘cept the fight was almost over by the time I could see. Forth was nearly dead, but NOT dead, which was a plus, and Llew was so sick o’ bein’ grabbed she was cuttin’ up the remainin’ guys like they were perverted drunkards at a seedy tavern, ’n’ Alembic tried the greeny beamy again but this time it didn’t work, so I figured it was runnin’ out o’ steam, but me? I didn’t do much o’ anythin’ other than watch Forth get beaten on.

Once the final guy fell, Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic all said they were pretty tapped out. Guess the fights are a lot harder when I can’t see anythin’. But there was an ominous door on one side o’ the room labeled “Acid”.

Do we go in, or do we let everybody recover?

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Tangent101 wrote:
You guys really needed to invest in some truly heavy armor and a good shield for Forth. That boyo keeps getting mauled to death!

I'll put in my belated but wholehearted agreement with this.

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The guy who played Forth is in love with reach weapons, which is bizarre because he doesn't use them to trip opponents. There are three inevitable results:
(1) His AC is extremely low for a front-line fighter (high teens or low 20s)
(2) He is constantly out of position trying to make use of his reach
(3) His PC dies a lot.

In our Shattered Star campaign, his frontline fighter died again because of exactly the same reasons.

If you're not tripping and you don't have support, you shouldn't be using a reach weapon.

Well, unless you're fighting giants or other Large-sized foes with reach of their own. Or you have someone who summons things to help in a fight. In fact, someone who summons a swarm of low-level fodder to help the front line can do one of two things with it - either create a flank to help fighters and rogues, or a front line to slow things down while the reach fighters strike over it.

The barbarian in my old Reign of Winter campaign (which I'm now a player in and assistant GM instead of running) has a Lucerne hammer that they'd bring out frequently... because snow would make it difficult to hit foes. That extra five feet would allow them to not waste an extra round of combat to reach enemies. But the barbarian also had his preferred Greataxe so it was more a support weapon rather than the primary weapon.

Then again, RoW also has seven PCs, including a summoning Druid (and my currently-dead Bard), so that's not nearly the issue you've had. My own Hell's Rebels group is fortunately only five PCs, and none of them are into reach weapons.

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Session 32, Played 09-Dec-2018
I’m gonna come right out and say it: I was proud. The group just couldn’t resist the door labeled “Acid”, ‘cause it was kind of a challenge lookin’ us right in the face. ‘Cept before we could go in we kind o’ noticed all the people whinin’ ’n’ moanin’ ‘round us ’n’ askin’ to be let go. ‘Cause it turns out they were kind o’ scared o’ the demons ’n’ didn’t make a lot o’ noise while they were alive, but once we finished ‘em off and they were sure they were dead they all asked us to let ‘em go.

So, I hate shackles more ’n’ just ‘bout anythin’, but I also know that in places like this sometimes you gotta leave ‘em on, so I waited for Forth ’n’ Llew to do their usual checks, and I got the usual answers: Some of the prisoners were evil, some of ‘em were neutral, and a scant few of ‘em were good. But none of ‘em were undead or demons so I went over to get to work but Forth started gettin’ all existential with ‘em and asking ‘em why they were there and whatnot. Now I’m no philosopher, but askin’ someone who’s been chained up, “Why are you here?” isn’t goin’ to get you some deep, meaningful answer; it’s going to get you, “‘Cause some so-and-so chained me here, you idiot!”
And that’s kind o’ what he got.

But he seemed happy with the answers, ‘cause it was the usual for this place: The demons’d knock people comin’ up the stairs out ’n’ chain ‘em to the wall, and once they were done bein’ chained to the wall they could challenge a demon to fight and if they defeated one they got to go on. ‘Parently these demons weren’t nearly as tough as they seemed to us, ‘cause a lot of people got past ‘em. Some guy whispered somethin’ to Forth, and I wouldn’t’ve even noticed ‘cept Forth told us: Some guy killed a demon ’n’ went up, but before he did he predicted that Forth was comin’.
But I was bettin’ he just predicted, "Some surly dwarf with a beard is goin’ to come,” ‘cause that’s a sure bet no matter how far in the wilderness you try to hide, so I figured it was just some guy tryin’ to be impressive ’n’ mysterious ’n’ such, but he had beaten a demon one-on-one, and I couldn’t’ve done that, and he’d moved on, so why was he goin’ ‘round sayin’ things ‘bout Forth behind his back?

The demons in here’d been pretty lazy; all the prisoners were just done up with simple manacles, so once I got the go-ahead it took me no time at all to get ‘em all free. I tried to count ‘em ‘cause I thought it’d be fun, but I got bored less than halfway through so let’s just say it was around 60 people we let go. And I figured all they’d done was got captured and eaten a bit o’ dead person, so they weren’t so bad. One of ‘em was even nice enough to point out a hidden cabinet to me, so I found the silly little poison trap, disabled it, and got us some nice healing potions out o’ the deal. Forth channeled to heal ‘em all and they all headed out.

We had Alembic’s protection from acid up, so we opened the acid door, and the trouble was his spell wasn’t, “Protection from Stink,” so even though the acid wasn’t hurtin’ us (and there was a lot o’ acid), it was stinkin’ up a storm. Didn’t help that we could see various puddles that looked like melted people, ’n’ I kind o’ felt bad for ‘em ‘cause they’d gone ’n’ beat the demons ’n’ such, and then tried to go on up when they were so tired that a bit o’ acid (well, OK, a LOT o’ acid) did ‘em in. Fortunately, the acid wasn’t too deep (‘course, I was walkin’ on the wall to try to stay out o’ the worst of it), so we got to the next landin’ without any trouble. And there was a big ol’ door with two tests on it: There was a little door ‘bout my size with an intricate-lookin’ lock on it, then there was a big bar ‘cross the whole big door that some huge guy might be able to just lift. So I could recognize an invitation when I saw one ’n’ I got to work on the lock. Turned out it was just for show, ‘cause I opened in a heartbeat, but I nearly lost one o’ my picks ‘cause Forth was feelin’ all show-offy ’n’ lifted the whole big stupid door over his head.

We could see into the room, so we could tell there was a big pool blockin’ the entrance, with dissolved bodies floatin’ ‘round in it. Acid-proof or no, I didn’t particularly want to go swimmin’ ‘round in that, so I scurried in along the wall. Llew skittered on in along the other wall, ’n’ Alembic floated on in ‘cause Alembic. Forth, bein’ Forth, just stepped in ’n’ plunged into the pool, ‘cause Forth. It was deep all right; Forth went up to his neck, so it was deeper ’n’ I wanted to be in. I crawled over ’n’ used Spidey on ‘im, ‘cause I figured he didn’t want to be wadin’ all the way ‘cross, ‘specially if it got any deeper. And no sooner had I gotten the spell on him than three skeleton guys with leathery skins (trust me, you had to see ‘em) popped up across the pool from us ’n’ started hurlin’ Dispel Magics at us. How did I know it was Dispel Magic? ‘Cause one of ‘em got me and I dropped right into the pool I didn’t want to be in! Yecch!

Fortunately, I’m not a bad swimmer, so I managed to keep my mouth out o’ the yuck and I got to hear Llew tell us they were “babau” demons, which kind of reminded me o’ sheep, ‘cept they didn’t look anything like sheep, ‘cept maybe sheep after they’d been shorn a bit too much by a drunken ogre farmer, ’n’ “Drunken ogre farmer shorn sheep demon” is a mouthful, which is why I suppose they were just called “babaus”. Made sense now. So as usual, I was s’posed to stab ‘em with cold iron, ‘cept they were summoned so they couldn’t get near us as long as Llew’s Circle was up, but they could sit there ’n’ try to dispel it all day, so we should probably kill ‘em first. So Forth ’n’ I swam over ’n’ climbed out while Llew ’n’ Alembic shot at the babaus. Ok. That’s fun to say. Babau. Babau. Babaubaubaunanoobeboo ba bow wow. Babau.

Anyhoo, everyone started yellin’ warnin’s at me: Forth said there was somethin’ in the water with me, and Alembic said there were prisoners on the walls o’ this floor too (kind o’ busy here, Alembic), so I was waitin’ to see what Llew would warn me ‘bout when something popped out o’ the water and dragged me under. The good news is, the water was clear down below the surface. The bad news is, Mr. Grabby was pretty ornery and I had to work pretty hard to get loose from ‘im. Plus, he was all ooze ’n’ such so I didn’t think I’d be able to hurt him much, and bein’ in the water washed off all my precious, precious grease, so I needed to get away from this guy. By the time I got back to the surface, one of the babaus was down and Llew ’n’ Alembic seemed to be holdin’ their own or better, Forth was bein’ all sweet ’n’ holdin’ his axe down for me to climb, so I went ahead and did it, ‘cause I didn’t want him to feel useless.

Trouble was, Mr. Grabby figured if I was too slippery, he’d just grab someone less slippery so poof! Just like that he popped up, grabbed Forth, and both of ‘em vanished. Like magic! Llew said it was magic, and probably some other choice words for my intelligence I chose to ignore, but she said he was probably down in the pool somewhere with Forth, so I figured we’d wait to see which one of ‘em came up. Llew killed another babau, ‘cause Llew, and the babaus (well the last babau) was beginnin’ to see the hopelessness of his predicament, but he kept right on fightin’, ‘cause summoned.

When Forth didn’t pop up after a few seconds, I grabbed a potion o’ Water Breathin’ and forced it into Llew, figurin’ I couldn’t hurt the blobbo guy, but she sure as heck could. ‘Cept he was feelin’ all chummy towards me and popped up ’n’ grabbed me again. He pulled me under again ’n’ I could see Forth all stuck to the bottom ‘cause Forth (I think all dwarves sink like rocks, honestly. It’s probably the beards). This time as I struggled to get out he turned even gooier ’n’ started oozin’ in my nose ’n’ mouth.

So. Just NOT goin’ anywhere with any comparisons or metaphors or anythin’ there. Just. No. It was DIsgusting. With a capital D, and a capital I, and I don’t know ‘bout the rest ‘cause I’m bored with spellin’. But suddenly I couldn’t breathe ’n’ my lungs were fillin’ up with ooze and I knew if I didn’t get out o’ there I was done for. So I struggled like my life depended on it, ‘cause my life depended on it, and I got loose again and got to the surface ’n’ started hackin’ him out. ‘Cept he was dancin’ all ‘round out o’ Llew’s reach, so I had to go under one last time to give her my potion o’ Slipstream, and once she could keep up with him she ’n’ Forth killed him right quick, lettin’ me vomit out the rest o’ the pieces of him. I thought ‘bout eatin’ my vomit capsule, just to be sure, but I didn’t want to worry Llew or Forth, and who knew when Alembic would ask me for some candy again?

Speakin’ o’ Alembic, once everythin’ was over and we were surfacin’, he jumped into the pool. Guess he didn’t want to be the only one who wasn’t wet or somethin’. So all four of us climbed out ’n’ started doin’ the usual with the prisoners: Askin’ ‘em who they were, how they’d gotten there, ’n’ so forth. Forth was a little less philosophical on this level, but I think he was still tired from goin’ swimmin’, ‘cause water isn’t a natural habitat for dwarves. We freed the prisoners, ’n’ Alembic offered to protect ‘em from the acid on their way down, but all of ‘em ‘cept one said they weren’t afraid of a little acid, so I trusted that one little guy more ’n’ the rest of ‘em, but once we were done talkin’ with them Alembic protected as many as he could anyway and they headed down. Seemed like ‘bout thirty of ‘em this time.
And their story was pretty much the same one we’d heard on the floor below: They’d come up, get drowned, wake up strapped to the wall, and they could go up to fight whenever they felt strong enough. So the next level was the test of fire. They told the same story ‘bout the guy who’d come through ’n’ said Forth was comin’, so if this guy was so all-knowin’ and all butt-kickin’, why wasn’t this tower destroyed yet? Guess I don’t know ‘cause I don’t have a beard and wander around mutterin’ nonsense.

Anyhoo, those as needed to refreshed their spells, we ‘specially made sure Alembic’s protectin’ us from fire was still up, ’n’ we headed upstairs. The next level was kind o’ funny, with a bunch o’ open space, some circles carved in the floor, and a couple o’ guys fightin’ to the death the the middle o’ one o’ those rings. One was a big burly guy, and the other was a little dodgy guy, and there were a bunch o’ guys chained to the wall watchin’ the whole thing. There was a third demon-lookin’ guy watchin’ the two of ‘em and Llew said he was an “incubus”, and I figured that probably didn’t mean you put chicken eggs in his belly and he pooped out little chicks ‘cause that’d be cute and she said he was a demon and demons don’t tend to do cute things like poop out baby chicks, but we really didn’t have much time for conversation ‘cause Forth just walked in and started hittin’ him with his hammer.

At least I didn’t have to worry ‘bout subtlety.

‘Specially when seven more of ‘em showed up ’n’ they all started castin’ somethin’ together and Alembic decided he didn’t like it and blew up the whole room with a giant Fireball. Well, it was the test o’ fire, so you’d think these guys’d be better-prepared for it, but even the ones who were still standin’ were lookin’ pretty darned singed, and a few hammer blows, sword slashes, and a bit o’ dancin’ by yours truly later ’n’ they were all down. ’N’ no baby chicks. So Llew must’ve felt bad ‘bout yellin’ at me for takin’ her kills, ‘cause she tried to let me kill the last one of ‘em, but I’d been busy the whole fight dancin’ ‘round ’n’ makin’ ‘em miss me so they wouldn’t bloody up Llew or Forth (or, I admit it, even Alembic), so I was still dancin’ when I swung ’n’ I missed the guy by a mile. So Llew took ‘im out for me, which was quite kind ‘cause it would’ve been embarrassin’ to miss and then get conked on the head for my troubles.
So these guys’ story (and there were around 15 of ‘em, so I was startin’ to see the pattern, bein’ a clever girl’n all) was that they were welcome to go up any time they wanted to, they just had to pick another guy on the level ’n’ fight ‘im to the death. Kind o’ sick, so I respected the guys on the wall a lot more’n the guys who weren’t on the wall.

Anyhoo, we let ‘em go ’n’ they left, but before that they told us that our “friend”’d been through, challenged one o’ the demons instead o’ one of the humans (clever!), and he’d said somethin’ ‘bout having to go “kill his kid” and gone on upstairs, ‘parently mentionin’ Forth but not ramblin’ on ‘bout him, makin’ me kind o’ wonder whether he was really a dwarf. Llew said that incbui’s kids’re called “cambrian demons”, which makes NO sense at all (‘chick demons’? ‘Hatchlings’? ‘Cockadoodles’?), and they’re blue, which makes even LESS sense, so I figured we just had to kill ‘em cause they weren’t right. But they’re just fighter types, so seemed like they wouldn’t be much more trouble than their pas, ‘cept Llew said they could look like anyone ’n’ use fear to make people run away, so I figured I’d just be runnin’ around for a while once they came out.

I was ready to go up, but everyone else said they were pretty tapped out and this seemed like a good place to rest. The guys said no one from any other levels ever visited. I wanted to stay in the acid room ‘cause it seemed safer, but everyone else complained ‘bout the stink so we decided to stay in the fire room. I searched around for the secret cabinet with the potions ’n’ found it, but this one wasn’t trapped. I was confused, but I kind o’ liked the asymmetry, but I didn’t trust the potions ’til Alembic did his magic stuff on ‘em to make sure they were OK. Go figure.

We gathered up the incubi’s weapons ‘cause they looked valuable, then spent a LOT of hours just sittin’ in a big room. I had some jugglin’ balls ’n’ some cards, and I did some tumblin’ ’n’ dancin’ ’n’ singin’, but eventually I got tired ’n’ bored so I just had some gnome rations ’n’ got lucky ‘cause it was one of the ‘splodin’ bags ’n’ I got hot gruel all over my face and it hurt a lot but it was funny and tasted good ‘cause it had lots o’ honey in it, ’n’ then I slept ’til they woke me up to go on.

Once we were ready, everyone else started castin’ their spells, so I greased myself up and, as usual, offered to grease anyone else up who wanted it. ’N’ Llew accepted! So I greased her all up good, ’n’ she looked awesome, ‘cause grease’ll do that to you. Then I used Spidey on myself ’n’ o’ course everybody wanted Spider Climb, ‘cause I guess walkin’ on walls is so much more glamorous than bein’ covered with a thin layer of slick odorless goo. There’s no accountin’ for tastes.

We went up the stairs and, sure ‘nough, it was the fire version o’ the acid stairs. There were shoots o’ flames hittin’ us from both sides, then the closed door with the big bar on top and the little lock on the bottom. ‘Course Alembic’d protected us from fire so none of it bothered us, but as I started lookin’ at the lock I saw that they’d actually bothered to trap this door with a Fireball, so I took it off. And right there and then, without so much as a “by your leave”, Forth reached on over me and lifted up the door before I even got to pick the lock! Showoff! Next time I’ll leave the trap on while I work on the lock just to slow him down. I swear, you bring a girl in to open doors for you, and you don’t wait for her to open the door, and…

Anyhoo, this room was different. There were a bunch o’ women chained to the walls, all starkers, and none of ‘em lookin’ like they were tough enough to have survived the lower floors. Sittin’ at a table in the middle o’ the chamber were two guys, one buff, one weasely, kind o’ starin’ at each other. There was a tray o’ food nearby. After what Llew’d said ‘bout the cambrian demons lookin’ just like people, I figured we were lookin’ at two of ‘em, so I wanted to start stabbin’ ‘em to find out, but Forth wanted to talk. So I’m beginnin’ to like Forth more and more ‘cause I can’t figure out what the heck he’s goin’ to do from one level to the next, but I thought the whole point o’ bein’ lawful was bein’ predictable, and that Forth wasn’t.

So the guys wouldn’t let me stab ‘em or Alembic throw acid at ‘em or anythin’, ‘cause they were all grumpy. I didn’t like ‘em. I even told ‘em I’d heal ‘em after I did it and they still said, “No,” so I was sure they were cambrians. But the story on this level was that you had to rape one o’ the girls to move on, but these guys weren’t willin’ to do it, so they were stuck here. I decided I liked ‘em a little bit more just for that, but I felt even worse for the girls, ‘cause they were just stuck here and hadn’t even fought their way up voluntarily. I tried to feed one of ‘em, and the guys told me not to, and she refused to eat, and that’s when I saw the little murder hole behind her head: If we misbehaved, she’d be killed and there wasn’t anythin’ we could do ‘bout it. So I gave up on tryin’ to feed her, and started lookin’ for a way out.

This floor was split into chambers, and this room took up only around a quarter o’ the floor. There was one door with a Forth bar, and one door with a Trig door, and the idea was that you’d rape a girl, open the right door for you, ’n’ move on. So that’s where I started gettin’ confused. What happened when a woman got this far? ‘Cause I’m not naive; I was raised in a temple o’ Calistria, and I knew all the various ways a woman could please another woman, and heck, if I’d come of age before the goblins’d come I probably would’ve done most of ‘em, even though my proclivities don’t tend that way, if you get my meanin’, but there, right there and now, they were sayin’, “Trig, you gotta rape that woman over there,” and heck if I had any idea at all what they meant for me to do. So I figured it had to be a free pass, so I told ‘em since I couldn’t figure out how to do it I was just going to go over and unlock the door anyway, and before I even started over they got all mad and killed the girl I’d been tryin’ to feed.

Damn them. That was gonna cost me a heap o’ coin, ‘cause I’d gotten her killed, and heck if I wasn’t goin’ to make up for it to her. I wanted to scream. I wanted to rage ’n’ track ‘em down ’n’ kill ‘em all slowly. ‘Cept that might get more o’ the girls killed, and that would’ve broken my heart. So I had to stand there, helpless, shakin’ with rage, needin’ to kill some demons. Alembic started ramblin’ ‘bout somethin’orother and I wasn’t payin’ much attention, but suddenly he had one o’ the girls free and the spears just bounced off the heads o’ the other two! He’d Stoneskinned two of ‘em and teleported away the third! I could’ve kissed him right then and there, and that’s Alembic we’re talkin’ bout! It was time for some killin’!

Llew ’n’ Forth started smashin’ the bonds on the trapped ones so I used my gloves to look through the wall to see the perpetrators, but it was just a bunch o’ mechanical stuff someone was usin’ from another room.
Alembic decided he was tryin’ for “10 best men I’ve ever met” list ’n’ Glitterdusted the two guys at the table. Why? I have no idea! But it was hilarious! They got all mad and started threatenin’ to kill us ’n’ all, which was even funnier, ‘cept only the big guy had gone blind ’n’ the little guy was throwin’ all kinds of sharp things at Alembic, ‘cause he was pretty mad. I figured he was mad enough anyway, so I stabbed him just to make sure he was human, ‘cept he moved the wrong way at the last minute and I stabbed him a lot deeper’n I’d intended. That, or I was laughin’ too hard to aim straight. But he bled just like a human, so I apologized, but he was havin’ none of it.

Well, I figured we’d just beat ‘em unconscious, carry ‘em out, and turn ‘em loose of their own recognizance later, but Llew was pretty sore at me ’n’ Alembic for havin’ a bit o’ fun, and she turned on her big scary voice ’n’ told the guys to surrender. So they did. ’N’ I did. ’N’ we all behaved ourselves ‘cause she was scary mad. I offered to heal weasely guy, but he was still pretty sore ‘bout bein’ stabbed, so I guess he hadn’t hung around with too many gnomes before, so I let him go.
As they stormed out the door, a bunch o’ blue guys teleported in all around us and started stabbin’ us. Their weapons were cuttin’ right through Alembic’s Stoneskin, meanin’ they were probably adamantine, so all I was thinkin’ was that we were gettin’ revenge for the dead girl and all the raped girls and I was lookin’ at enough money to raise her, all in one big gangly gang of blue soon-to-be-dead demons.
I was still happy.

The moment Llew dropped one I moved in and started dancin’ to distract ‘em from cuttin’ Forth to ribbons, ’n’ learned that my cold iron dagger worked on ‘em just fine. It made me feel good to cut up these so-and-sos! I think everyone else agreed, ‘cause the blue guys didn’t last very long ’n’ Llew made sure every last one of ‘em was good ’n’ dead and I made sure every last one o’ their weapons made it into our loot stash, ‘cept Llew wanted one for herself and I figured that was always a smart thing.

I used one o’ the scrolls o’ Gentle Repose on the dead girl, ’n’ apologized to her all formal-like ‘cause it seemed like the right thing to do, ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth ’n’ Alembic talked to the other girls and they were all farm girls who’d been kidnapped with the rest of ‘em. The two guys we’d chased off had been Asmodeans with some kind o’ code o’ honor against rapin’ the girls, so I thought more of ‘em, even if they were awfully grumpy just for gettin’ stabbed.

We decided to move on, and I was still on the poop list for gettin’ that girl killed, so Forth got to show off again and lift the big heavy door to the next room. It was another quarter-floor room, ’n’ we found two livin’ prisoners (one man and one woman) ’n’ a bunch o’ ghouls. ‘Parently the man ’n’ woman were “spares” for the main room, ’n’ the ghouls were the sex toys o’ the day. At this point I figured Llew ’n’ Forth’d already decided that anyone they found after this floor had to die, ‘cause fightin’ each other to the death in an honorable way is one thing, but rapin’ helpless farm girls ’n’ then goin’ on to rape helpless ghouls is just, just…
I’m an eloquent woman when I need to be, but I have no words for how bad that is.

Forth couldn’t lift the next door so Llew did it for him and I didn’t even snerk all that hard at him (at least loud enough for him to hear) ’n’ we found all the ropes that prisoners would pull to kill girls. So someone’d pulled the rope that killed my girl ’n’ then gone upstairs. If he wasn’t dead up there, he’d have some awful good ‘splainin’ to do to me to keep on livin’.
We opened the last o’ the rooms and it was all symmetric, which just rubbed me wrong ‘cause even I wouldn’t’ve made a symmetric floor, ’n’ these were demons we were dealin’ with, so what gives? But Llew killed all the ghouls, we freed the other man ’n’ woman for 8 freed prisoners total (includin’ the dead girl), ’n’ we decided what to do next.

What we knew we weren’t goin’ to do was send all the girls (and the two guys) out with Big Angry and Little Angry out there. So we told ‘em to wait for us with all the food ’n’ such, ’n’ we’d come back for ‘em.

I sure as heck hoped…

Trig, Trig, where are you Trig?

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LOL. Sorry. I'll try to get one up today or tomorrow! Thanks for reminding me!

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Session 33, Played 06-Jan-2019

So, with nothin’ better to do than keep headin’ up and killin’ evil, I went over and checked the door that led to the stairs up. At least, I figured it was gonna lead to the stairs up. Now if a gnome had designed this place, the door’d lead to a slide that whirled you ‘round and ‘round and down the whole tower, passin’ through honey ’n’ candy the whole time, ’til it dumped your sticky sweet butt into a pit full o’ hungry spiders. ‘Cause spiders’re scarier ’n’ ants, ’n’ poison, ’n’ it would make less sense, so… gnome.

Anyhoo, it wasn’t a gnome. The door wasn’t trapped, wasn’t locked, and led to stairs goin’ up. Demons may claim they’re chaotic, but I was beginnin’ to think we gnomes had ‘em beat down pat. And that made me kind o’ proud. No; really proud! So Forth led the way up, ’n’ Llew followed him so she could see stuff at the same time he could, ’n’ they put me third so I couldn’t see anythin’, ’n’ Alembic was behind me ’n’ could still see over me, slouch ’n’ all (though he still had the staff, so the slouch was noticeably improved).
Forth got to the top o’ the stairs and peeked up into the next floor, and hissed down to us that there were four guys up there starin’ at a birdbath, ’n’ the bath had little pedestals ‘round it with ropes on ‘em, ’cept once Forth started hissin’ I s’pose they were probably starin’ at him instead o’ the birdbath, like some kind o’ great bearded kettle that was on a too-hot stove just waitin’ to burn some unsuspectin’ little kid who wanted nothin’ more than a bit o’ tea with his cookies. Bad Forth!

Anyhoo, with Forth hissin’ ’n’ all, he ’n’ Llew ’n’ the guys started talkin’, ‘cept it got a little confusin’ ‘cause apparently there was a big giant demon in there too that Forth hadn’t mentioned so Llew had to, but these were more rope-pullin’ guys. The demon told ‘em to tell us the “rules”. They were s’posed to pull the ropes when the demon told ‘em to or they saw somethin’ or some such (I’ve seen plots o’ Asmodean clerics less convoluted than whatever the heck this “plan” was), and those ropes’d tell the guys downstairs which ropes to pull, and those ropes’d push the spears that killed the girls… wait a minute!
So the rule was, “IF you feed a girl, she gets killed, and IF you open a door without rapin’ a girl, she gets killed,” but I hadn’t done either o’ those things! So I called up ’n’ asked which guy’d pulled the rope that killed my girl, ‘cause he’d gone early and if they were goin’ to go to all that trouble to set up some kind o’ convoluted rules thing that hurt my brain to think about, then they could at least follow ‘em, or I’d just have to start stabbin’ all of ‘em ‘cause they weren’t makin’ any sense. And they couldn’t even get who went early straight, ‘cause ‘parently “Terence” told “Bobby” to pull the rope that killed the girl, but neither one of ‘em wanted to admit which of ‘em had gone early. So Alembic and I came up to get a good look at all of ‘em, and the demon let us up and I figured he was just about as confused ‘bout the rules as all the rest of us, and he was probably pretty happy I was there to clear things up.

I told Terence and Bobby that my rules were simple: I’d take the girl back to town, pay to get her raised, and if she was OK with it they were off the hook. But if she didn’t want to come back ‘cause of all the bad memories ’n’ such, I’d hunt ‘em to the ends of Golarion and make ‘em suffer before they died. They didn’t say anything, so I figured they were OK with it. The demon offered to raise the girl for me, but I said, “No,” ‘cause I already had a devil followin’ me around forever watchin’ my every move, ’n’ that was creepy enough, so the last thing I needed was some twenty-foot demon tryin’ to cohabitate with some four-foot devil under my bed, and I didn’t want to see the droppings NOR the babies. Ugh!

Llew told me she was proud o’ me, ‘cause I was learnin’. I think it’s more I didn’t need any more outsiders followin’ me, but I didn’t tell her that. I kept ‘specting the demon to attack us, or Forth to attack the demon, but the demon was happier to just chat with us, and I was kind o’ ‘specting him to put on a little apron and serve us tea ’n’ biscuits ‘r somethin’. Turned out he was happy ‘cause everyone who wanted to move on had to wish it, and he was the wish granter, so he had all kinds o’ beds to hide under when this was all over. Forth tried to push things a bit by askin’ the guys to help us (nope!), then he started smashin’ up the fountain thingy, cuttin’ the ropes, ’n’ otherwise causin’ trouble, but the demon didn’t do anythin’ to stop us, ‘cause it wasn’t against any rules HE had to enforce. Honestly, he seemed pretty pissed ‘bout his whole job, and I could understand bein’ a slouch. I hate to think o’ some o’ the things the Asmodean clerics unknowingly ate after I’d “cleaned” their dishes, ‘cause I was good at slouchin’ that way.
The guys figured the jig was up and there was going to be violence, so they wished themselves outside o’ the tower, so the demon teleported ‘em right outside… 80’ up and in the pocket dimension. Note to self: Don’t wish for anythin’ from demons!

Llew didn’t particularly feel like makin’ a wish, nor acceptin’ that there wasn’t another way, so she suggested that we just go ahead and cut a hole in the wall right next to the door the demon was supposed to wish us through. The demon smiled and thought that was a fine idea, so Llew ’n’ Forth set about doin’ it. As the pieces started fallin’ I noticed that there was a latch on one of ‘em that indicated Llew ’n’ Forth were hackin’ up a secret door that was there all along, but I didn’t have the heart to tell ‘em. Once they’d cut through, we saw a corridor full o’ lightnin’, which was good, ‘cause that’s what the door told us’d be there, but it made me think the demons were even more lawful than they were lettin’ on, so Alembic protected us all from lightnin’ (he’s a handy man, Alembic is) and we started up. I was a little hesitant; wasn’t Forth s’posed to kill demons? Wasn’t the demon s’posed to kill us? All this paladin/demon chumminess was startin’ to worry me ‘bout Forth’s mental state o’ health. But Llew said her beef was with undead, not demons, and Forth said that killin’ a demon that was trapped in its own pocket dimension and that wasn’t doin’ us any harm would be a waste o’ resources, when we had the big boss to take on later on. I figure with that kind o’ reasonin’ you can pretty much talk yourself out o’ killin’ anyone, but if Llew ’n’ Forth didn’t think the demon was a problem, I wasn’t goin’ to pick a fight with him. HE hadn’t pulled the rope early!

The lightnin’ corridor was all kinds o’ fun, ‘cause even though we were protected it made all our hairs stand up, so mine was even standier than usual, ’n’ Forth’s beard looked big enough to scrub both walls o’ the corridor at once. I had some fun makin’ the sparks dance ‘cross my fingers and between my fingers ’n’ my nose ’n’ such, and probably started gigglin’ a bit, but we were still in an Evil Tower so I got a look from Llew ’n’ Forth that said, “Shut up and pay attention,” so I did. Sort o’. Though I did try to light one o’ my farts on fire. Didn’t work.

The next floor showed that even the builders were gettin’ lazy, ‘cause there wasn’t even a door any more, just an archway that read, “The Finish Line”. The room was lit by torches, ’n’ had weapons ’n’ armor hangin’ on the walls, dust on the floor, and an altar to a bunch o’ gods in the center. Llew said all the ones she could see were evil. Around the altar were two beat-up lookin’ guys who looked like they’d made it through the entire gauntlet, but hadn’t quite figured out how to go on from here, and one robed guy who looked for all intents and purposes like an Asmodean cleric. I figured I’d try to test him in a few ways, but Llew was tired o’ all the games so she just out-and-out asked him how we were s’posed to get past the room, and he said we had to embrace evil. So she went on over and hugged him, and that worked.

I love me some Asmodeans.

I sauntered over, gave him my winningest grin, and told him I loved Asmodeans ‘cause they were so predictable, and started tellin’ him ‘bout the orphanage and Jocelyn and he knew Jocelyn and he was a cleric too and we got on just fine and I gave him a bit heartfelt hug ‘cause Asmodeans need ‘em. And I was free to go!

So Forth ’n’ Alembic, they aren’t the huggin’ types. So o’course we had to spend a bunch o’ time chit-chattin’ with the cleric, ‘cause Forth ’n’ Alembic had to work up enough manliness to hug another man, which is kind o’ sad. And no, I couldn’t hug the cleric again in their place, it had to be them!
The two guys were pretty mad ‘bout the whole “hug” thing, but I figure they just weren’t huggers either ‘cause the clue was pretty obvious, but one of ‘em hugged the cleric (the cleric didn’t like huggin’ him as much as us, but I’m bettin’ me ’n’ Llew were cuter ’n’ smelled better) ’n’ started headin’ up, and we told him to hold on a minute ‘cause we still wanted to talk. Or at least wanted to give Forth a little more time to build up the courage to hug another man. The other guy just rejected huggin’ entirely and tried to leave anyway, and keeled over dead on the spot.

Not my fault! I’m not paying for it!

Nobody else wanted to pay for it, either, so I didn’t bother castin’ Gentle Repose on ‘im. He’d reaped what he’d sewed, which never made any sense to me anyway. If you sewed it, shouldn’t you “scissor” it? Or hem it? Or somethin’. I’m no seamstress, but I know no one’s ever “reaped” one o’ my skirts! I’d’ve known!
So we spent a while talkin’. The Asmodean, whose name I never got so now he’s George, so George had been forced to come in, but, bein’ an Asmodean and knowin’ that demons aren’t that bright, tried to negotiate his way through. So he got assigned to this floor to cast some kind of “toning” spell on people to make ‘em evil and in tune with one o’ the gods on the altar. Forth said it was Atonement, just like for paladins, but I’ve never heard o’ paladins usin’ spells to make themselves worship evil gods, so I think he was wrong. ‘Cept the cleric said he wasn’t, and I could have a scroll of it as a free prize for my hug, ‘cause my hug was so nice (I’m sure), so I took one, ‘cause I knew Jocelyn had loaned me a scroll o’ Control Water and we could’ve used it about a half-dozen times since then and I always regretted givin’ it back.

Anyhoo, he said some more stuff ‘bout how the demon upstairs was a manatee, but he mispronounced it somethin’ awful, like, “Nalfeshnee” (gesundheit), and he couldn’t be free ’til the nalfeshnee (I’m gonna call him Mel) either gave him permission to go or got killed, and Jocelyn wasn’t very bright and made lots of enemies (aw, she’s just like me!). Forth ’n’ Alembic’d finally worked up enough courage to hug him, and he didn’t like it, and they didn’t like it, and it was all silly and awkward and pretty much the funniest part was that he didn’t like huggin’ Alembic even more than he didn’t like huggin’ Forth. I considered gluin’ him ’n’ Alembic together, but their hug didn’t last long enough for me to get in there. As consolation prizes for bein’ such bad huggers he offered ‘em scrolls of Atonement, too, and ‘cause he wasn’t a jerk and he realized that Llew really was a pretty good hugger after all he gave her one. Forth didn’t want one, ‘cause Forth had post-traumatic hug syndrome or somethin’.

The huggy guy (not the dead one) was perfectly willin’ to let us go upstairs first to see what was about, so we all buffed up and then went up. As usual, I was behind Forth ’n’ Llew, so I couldn’t see much o’ anythin’ when Forth said there was a cage in front of him. I couldn’t see any of it, but from what I saw later I can say that there was a cage in front o’ the door so people comin’ in could be ogled by the people in the room without any touching, then there was a big trap door in the middle o’ the floor (the disposal chute we’d been avoidin’ all this time), then a throne with the sneezy demon in it across the way, plus two guys in smaller chairs on either side of the demon; a guy in armor and a weaselly-lookin’ guy.

Bein’ mushy-brained, I didn’t particularly want to see the demon ’til I had to, so I was stayin’ in the hallway, but apparently armored guy was “might” and weaselly-lookin’ guy was “treachery”, and they were wonderin’ whether we were gonna replace ‘em and it was some kind o’ formal challenge ’n’ all that nonsense that evil guys seem to really like ‘cause it makes good guys’ brains hurt or somethin’. But whatever nonsense they were talkin’ ‘bout Might decided he was gonna take us on, so he started walkin’ round the room ramblin’ ‘bout this ’n’ that ’n’ the other thing and doin’ some kind o’ ritual, and I figured we oughta shoot him or somethin’ but Llew ’n’ Forth were just watchin’ him and I was stayin’ hidden so he got to drag his sword around and mutter and such, and I’m sure it made him feel better ‘bout about to be gettin’ beat ’n’ such, then he opened the cage so Forth ’n’ Llew could get at ‘im. But they just stood there ’n’ let him finish his ritual, but he wasn’t done yet ‘cause Alembic ’n’ I hadn’t come out yet, and he told us he could sense us ’n’ ordered us to come out, so Alembic did ‘cause Alembic’s compliant that way, but I didn’t feel like comin’ out and I figured it we were gonna fight anyway it didn’t much matter how mad I made him first, and he didn’t have any hostages to kill so I was feelin’ pretty safe.

The demon asked how many people were goin’ to die, and Might said that 2 people were goin’ to die, which meant he couldn’t count all that well, but then he surprised pretty much everyone in the room by turnin’ around and attackin’ squirrelly guy! Squirrels. Weasels. They’re all nasty sly little animals that’ll bite you as soon as look at you the moment you start tryin’ to steal their food or squeeze ‘em to make ‘em squeak or stuff ‘em down someone else’s pants. OK. I’m lyin’. Squirrels and weasels are all kinds o’ fun. I love ‘em. So it’s really not fair that they’re used to describe treacherous guys. You know who’s treacherous? Well, no, neither do I. I kind o’ get along with animals, now that I think about it. And I even get along with Asmodeans and they’re not particularly lie-y. But Treachery’s just too long of a name so from now on I’m calling him “Gil”, the gill-y guy. Ah! Fish! He’s fishy!

Anyhoo, Might hit Fishy Guy (I like it!) ’n’ Llew ’n’ Forth raced in to help him ’n’ Alembic started castin’ to help out and I… got into the room and used Shieldy! Stupid short little legs! Forth ’n’ Might got bloodied up pretty bad, but Forth ’n’ Llew were bloodyin’ up the demon ’n’ Might was bloodyin’ up Fish Guy (yeah, lots of blood), then Alembic went ahead and Disintegrated Fish Guy, which was really kind o’ funny ‘cause he was s’posed to be all dodgy but instead he was all dusty, but then the demon did somethin’ and the world got all queasy ’n’ nasty ’n’ spinny…
…’n’ I woke up and we’d won! Good job, us!

So Might took off his helmet ’n’ smiled at us like we were s’posed to remember him, ’n’ he looked awful familiar, then he told me I should’ve gone on that date with him and I recognized him: The pervy paladin from Gillamoor! Barrett! Human tryin’ to get into gnome pants! Yeah, I knew him! In addition to survivin’, he’d been givin’ the demon tactical advice; in particular, how to space out the attacks just right so we’d be able to get to ‘em all in time ’n’ save the city. Nice job, Barrett! No, that still doesn’t mean I’ll date you!

So, while we picked up and searched ‘round for loot he started tellin’ his tale, ‘bout how he’d been captured with the rest of ‘em, but worked his way up just to kill this demon, but he was waitin’ for us to show up ‘cause he knew we would. (OK. I’ll admit, he’s cute when he has faith in us. But he’s human. And Lawful! Blecch!) Considerin’ what people’d had to do to get here, when the sneezy demon told him to challenge ‘em and they didn’t try to kill the demon he could kill ‘em, and he put all their gear in a big pile in one corner and salvaged the best for himself. The pile-o-dust-that-was-Fish-Man had a bandolier o’ daggers, but too big to be of use to me and too small to be of use to anyone else. I sorted through the pile o’ stuff Barrett’d made and got everything that I considered valuable, while Llew found some kind o’ secret compartment in the throne that had some nice scrolls, though I don’t know what good a “limited” wish is. Isn’t that kind o’ like a “somewhat” promise. “Oh, I promise I’ll do that. Unless I don’t.” But Alembic seemed to like it, so I let ‘im keep it. There were a couple o’ books on improvin’ yourself, includin’ one on makin’ yourself faster, and I asked pretty pretty please if I could have it and after a bit of back-n-forth they let me.

We went back down to the cleric and I asked his name and it was Alistair Blackburn, just like the guy in Logas, ’n’ maybe Asmodeans were just all so cranky ‘cause they were all inbred. I wanted to set him free ‘cause it’d’ve been funny, but Llew beat me to the punch ‘cause she’s all straightforward ’n’ such.

Once we had him, and we’d checked and he had the demon-banishin’ spell all ready (surprise surprise. Plannin’ somethin’, Asmodean? I’d’ve been disappointed in him if he hadn’t had it ready, ‘cause even I’d thought of it, and I’m just raised Asmodean, not born that way). So I went down and, even though I didn’t know whether or not it’d work, I turned on the big eyes on the big demon down there and asked him to please, pretty please let himself be banished back home so we wouldn’t have to deal with him any more. And it worked!!! Who knew? Alistair banished him back home all good ’n’ proper, ’n’ we were able to save the girls, ’n’ I gave ‘em some o’ my food (the bags that I was pretty sure were safe), which wasn’t much, but I was feelin’ bad for ‘em and I was happy with ‘em ‘cause they’d been watchin’ my dead girl so well.

We went on down ’n’ out o’ the tower, then Alembic told us all we had to do was break the archway ’n’ the tower’d be trapped in its own pocket dimension forever, so we did. Well, Llew ’n’ Forth did. I just rooted ‘em on. Outside the tower were around 90 people just waitin’ for us to come out ’n’ rescue ‘em! Even the guy I’d stabbed was there! He was still mad. Which just goes to show some people are just born angry.

So, I’d like to say the trip back to town was easy, but it wasn’t. I was worried ‘bout my girls ‘round all those evil guys, so I had to watch ‘em all like a mother hen, ‘cept when I was practicin’ all the weird balancy-mumbledypeg things in the book, or climbin’ trees to get down stuff Llew or Forth said were edible, or goin’ into brambles to get stuff Llew or Forth said were edible, or gettin’ generally convinced that Llew ’n’ Forth’s idea of “edible” was, “Anything we can send Trig somewhere nasty to have to go ’n’ get.”
But we kept the people fed ’n’ watered, though it wasn’t easy, ’n’ Alistair didn’t want to feed ‘em for free ’n’ such, ’n’ I trained, ’n’ we moved, ’n’ I occasionally slept, but at the end o’ the week we got to town with me feelin’ more tired than when we’d started the trip.

While I was watchin’ my girls ’n’ trainin’ ’n’ fetchin’ food, Alembic was studyin’ the other scrolls. Turned out the Mother of Wights had summoned and bound the itchy demon herself, just to cause trouble in Eledir. There were more details of the Jeggare’s failed plot to take back control of Isger, includin’ plans to corrupt the clergy ’n’ a list o’ names o’ people who’d made deals with the itchy demon or the succubi (who the itchy demon had brought in), ’n’ the list matched the one we already had, which was nice, ‘cause neither Jocelyn nor King Heddy were on it. The one new thing we learned was that the Mother of Wights had left a nice undead army sittin’ between Eledir and the Hellknights’ castle so if they tried to help they’d end up wiped out. Joke’s on them. ‘Cept we have to tell ‘em even if we don’t like ‘em. ‘Cause we’re good that way.

Once we hit town, we told ‘em they had to first help out the refugees, then they could start celebratin’. We had to run a few quick errands, like I had to sell some stuff to get enough cash together to go get my girl raised, and then I had to do some hagglin’ to get the clerics of Pharasma to do it at cost. Guess I didn’t have the pull that Llew did. ‘Cept I have the Big Eyes, ’n’ I used ‘em ruthlessly, ’n’ the girl came back, which was good, ‘cause I didn’t have to track down Terrence and Bobby, but bad, ‘cause I was kind o’ low on cash. Unfortunately, turns out that when you raise a commoner you can’t fix the negative damage like you can for most people, so she’d always be a bit weaker and sicklier than she’d been before, but bein’ alive probably made up for that quite a bit, at least in her mind, and in mine. I got her name, just in case I ever needed it: Jeannie Simmons.

Once I had that taken care of, it was time to tell King Heddy what we’d done. So I got everyone together and told ‘em we had to go back to King Heddy and give him back his scepter (or staff, or specter, or whatever) and tell him what was goin’ on, and Forth ’n’ Llew didn’t think it was all that important, ’n’ Alembic didn’t seem to want to go at all, but I kind o’ wanted to see what Heddy was up to ‘cause he’s the best king I’ve ever met (OK, he’s the only king I’ve ever met, and I like him. Maybe I just like kings!). So we walked right in the main entrance to the castle and there was this big ol’ line o’ people waitin’ to see Heddy, ’n’ I could kind o’ see that, him bein’ a great guy ’n’ all, but heck if I’d wait in line to see him. So I told the guard we were here and we wanted to see Heddy, and he asked whether we had an appointment and I said, “Of course not!” and he told us we’d have to wait in line, so I told him we didn’t do lines and he said then I should try again tomorrow.

So, he got my dander up, so I pulled out a bit o’ my hair and wrote a little note that said, “We’re here,” and I asked the guard if he would kindly give it to the king. So he did, and got beat up a bit for his trouble, which I kind o’ felt a teensy bit bad about, ‘cept he’d tried to make me wait in line, so he kind o’ deserved it. But he came on back and brought us to see King Heddy, which was all I’d wanted in the first place. The king told a bunch o’ people to do some random stuff, so I handed a guy my juggling balls and told ‘im they were very important, ‘cause it seemed like somethin’ Heddy’d do, and then we followed Heddy into his chambers. Complete with chamber pot, ‘cause I checked. ‘Cause those things can be scary.

We told Heddy what we’d done, and about the tower ’n’ the refugees ’n’ such, ’n’ how we figured we’d saved the town and now we were after the Mother o’ Wights, and Llew even remembered to tell him to warn the Hellknights ‘bout the ambush, which was good ‘cause I’d probably have forgotten, and then felt bad about it. At least a little bad. Hellknights’re people, too… I think.
So Alembic had to give the staff back, and it made Heddy all happy but Alembic put on a big sour face while he was doin’ it so I think the staff just makes people happy. Maybe I’ll have to buy one. I heard there’s a Rod o’ Wonder made ‘specially for gnomes. I’ll have to look for one!

But the best part o’ the whole meetin’ was the cookies! There were sour ones, ’n’ hot ones, ’n’ ones that tasted so bad they made you want to throw up, ’n’ even some with little rocks in ‘em. And somewhere in there was one good cookie! So just to be fair to make sure Heddy didn’t know I mixed ‘em all up so we both had to take our chances. Everyone else ate from the bottom tray with “normal” cookies. Bleah.
At the end of it all, Heddy declared that he figured he’d made us do somethin’ right, so he was goin’ to take credit for the whole affair, and I figured that was only right ’n’ proper, him bein’ king and all, and no one else objected so I figured it was OK. Since we were goin’ to have to be fightin’ the Mother, Heddy figured he’d better fund us, so he gave us a big ol’ chest full o’ diamond dust. He claimed he’d made it himself, but I was skeptical. But it was around 60,000 gp worth o’ loot, and it wasn’t even trapped, so I wasn’t arguin’.

On our way out, I told Heddy ‘bout the guy with the jugglin’ balls ’n’ Heddy ordered him to learn to juggle in a week or he’d be put to death. I didn’t think it was very funny, ‘cause death isn’t fun at all and it’s pretty expensive, so I hoped Heddy was kiddin’.

Anyhoo, we divvied up all our loot, then went our separate ways to go shopping. I replenished all my gnome food, ‘cept this time I had to ask for the “old gnome” food that didn’t ‘splode in case I had to feed some more humans; one o’ the girls took a jellyfish to the face on the trail home and she wasn’t happy ‘bout it at all, so I figure I gotta be a little more careful. Then Alembic came moochin’ for some money to buy a wand o’ Fly, and I wanted to know why he needed a wand if he could cast it on his own, but everyone else was chippin’ in so I did too, bein’ a good teammate ’n’ all. I finally got my own personal godforsaken scroll o’ Control Water (bought it off Jocelyn, just to show her I was lawful ’n’ all. And it made me giggle.), and while I was there I figured it wouldn’t hurt to pick up some Freedom of Movement as well. Then I replenished all of my alchemicals, ’n’ that’s always an expensive trip but the halfling guy who runs the place is downright pleasant; always has cakes ’n’ sweets ’n’ a kind word for me, and flirts me up somethin’ awful, though I’ve seen a couple o’ bruises on his face that say his wife don’t like it so much. Doesn’t matter. He’s a halfling. I’d break him. He knows it. I know it. She knows it. So it’s all in good fun.

I couldn’t afford any o’ the “important” big-ticket items like better armor or a better belt, so instead I looked for “interestin’” big-ticket items. I found a couple I figured’d be useful in the long run, picked ‘em up, put ‘em in my haversack, ’n’ got ready to go Mother huntin’.

Now where did I leave Yellow, anyway?

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Session 34, Played 20-Jan-2019

So, we all knew we were goin’ to go kill the Mother of Wights, and we knew she was in Finder’s Gulch, but we didn’t have much of an idea how to get there. So we found a nice table at our tavern, sat down, and spat out what we knew about the place. I said, “Nothin’,” which wasn’t all that helpful, but at least it was truthful. But everybody else had some better ideas, ‘specially Alembic since apparently it was a Big Thing back when it wasn’t infested with wights ’n’ such. So, what Alembic knew was that it was up in the mountains (kind o’ not surprisin’, since it was a “gulch” ’n’ all, and you don’t tend to find people callin’ things “gulches” in river valleys or plains or such). There were paths to it from both Logas and Eledir, but the path from Logas was shorter ’n’ steeper. (Again, kind o’ made sense that the shorter path into the mountains was steeper, but Alembic was on a roll so I let him ramble.) Alembic knew the one from Logas was more popular back in the day, but he couldn’t say why, though I thought that maybe bein’ SHORTER had somethin’ to do with it! Everyone knows that people like shorter things!
So, the history was kind o’ creepy. 100 years ago, Finder’s Gulch was a diamond mine. For whatever reason, a cleric o’ Urgathoa showed up, killed everyone, then gave herself a bunch o’ diseases, cut herself up, and forced the survivors to eat her. Yeah, yeah. I know. “If she killed everyone, who did she feed herself to?”, but it’s Alembic’s story, not mine! Anyhoo, the people she fed turned into the original wights, ’n’ she died but impressed Urgathoa so much that she came back as a daughter of Urgathoa, which is apparently some kind of really nasty maybe undead maybe not undead thingy that we’re going to have to figure out how to kill. Maybe 20-30 years later, Isger started worryin’ ‘bout all the wights up in the mountains and built a bunch o’ iron golems and put ‘em up there to block up all the roads. If they had that many iron golems, why they just didn’t go on in and kill her I’ll never know, but humans don’t think straight a lot o’ the time. Kind o’ like Alembic ’n’ his stories. Anyhoo, the Goblin Wars came along and ended all that, and we knew what was goin’ on now: The Mother of Wights had gotten in touch with the Jeggares, some o’ the clerics o’ Asmodeus, ’n’ a bunch o’ other people to convince ‘em all to turn a bunch o’ people into undead in the hopes of “saving” the country ’n’ coming out on top, ‘cept the Mother of Wights was plannin’ on double-crossin’ ‘em all and killin’ every last one of ‘em.

Gotta admit, at least she thinks these things through.

Llew said that was all good information, but we needed more, so I told her I could hit up my alchemist for information, and he’d probably point me to some o’ his friends, then they’d point me on to their friends, then I’d have to find ‘em all in the various taverns ’n’ such in Eledir, so it would probably be a few hours and I needed to know whether we had any kind o’ time limit. Alembic got all irritated ’n’ said that maybe I didn’t have to do all this alone, ’n’ everyone else could help with the research ’n’ askin’ around, and I kind o’ felt bad for him ‘cause we all knew he was unpopular, but then I realized he probably meant he’d go to some kind o’ library and that would work ‘cause books don’t hate. So Forth said he’d go talk to the dwarves at the temple o’ Torag, Llew said she’d check the Pharasman archives, I’d ask around the taverns ’n’ such, ’n’ Alembic’d do somethin’ so he didn’t feel all lonely.

So my first stop was my alchemist buddy, and I asked him whether he knew anyone who was maybe 130, 140 years old who’d remember what it was like in the old days, but he just kind o’ laughed at me and said that humans didn’t live that long, so I told him I already knew that and maybe he could stop bein’ a smart-ass and point me to some non-humans, but he wasn’t any use at all, ‘cept he said that maybe the temple of Asmodeus’d have some records I could look through. Well, I didn’t particularly want to look through a bunch o’ dusty old records, but I figured if I asked Jocelyn real nice she’d set one o’ her acolytes to it for me, and that was OK with me ‘cause if you sign up to be an acolyte of Asmodeus you kind o’ deserve to get treated that way, so I headed over to see her. Out in front o’ the temple was some chopped up guy with his head on a pike and his body in pieces on the ground, with a bunch o’ rocks around him, but I didn’t know who he was, and I need to ‘cause it’d tell me whether Jocelyn was in a good mood or a bad mood, and it turned out the hellknights’d tracked down the old high priest ’n’ handed him over to Jocelyn for punishment for consortin’ with demons.

Good mood it was.

So I headed on in, and ‘course the acolytes know me ‘cause I’m there a lot ’n’ I’d just bought a scroll ’n’ such, so they got Jocelyn right away, and I was right, she was all smiles ’n’ such, and her robes looked finer ’n’ made me wish I’d actually paid a little attention when they were tryin’ to teach me the clerical ranks ’n’ whatnot so I could congratulate her properly, but I just rambled on a bit ‘bout how good the new robes looked on her and congratulations ’n’ such ’n’ she smiled even wider, and when I said I was lookin’ for information she got all happy ’n’ asked me whether givin’ me the information would repay the favor I’d done her ’n’ I said sure ‘cause I had no idea what she was talkin’ ‘bout but she definitely didn’t want to be in my debt any more, ’n’ probably didn’t know that I had no idea what she was talkin’ ‘bout. ‘Cause I’m a good liar. Learned from that halfling girl in Gillamoor, and have been practicin’ ever since.

Anyhoo, since it was repayin’ a favor o’ some kind, Jocelyn took me to the archives herself, and she read all the dusty books so I didn’t have to, ’n’ it made me like her even more ’n’ wish she wasn’t a stuffy old Asmodean, ‘cause I knew if I crossed her she’d kill me as soon as look at me, and it’s hard to have friends you can’t play harmful practical jokes on.
Jocelyn knew a lot, ‘cause Asmodeans like their records ’n’ such. In addition to what we already knew (and I was polite enough not to tell her I knew any of it, and to pretend to be really interested even when she got all borin'), she first told me that the paths up to Finder’s Gulch were full o’ bandits who’d managed to survive all the undead passin’ through their lands ’n’ were comin’ back stronger’n ever, which wasn’t surprising; look at how strong we were after a couple o’ months o’ fightin’ undead! ‘Course, all the outlands were full o’ bandits, so we were likely to run into some. I asked her whether it was Lawful for me to kill ‘em, since I figured she was probably more Lawful than King Heddy, and she got even happier and told me that if I knew they were bandits then I was welcome to kill ‘em. I like Asmodeans. They’re lawful, but they’ll answer yes/no questions straight up. Sometimes. OK. Hardly ever. Maybe I just like Jocelyn. ‘Cause she doesn’t mess with my brain.

Anyhoo, she continued with current events by tellin’ me that some o’ the golems we’d killed in the river (we did what now?) were “corrupted” Isger golems. I pretended I was smart ’n’ didn’t ask what “corrupted golems” were, but I figured I’d better ask Alembic ‘bout it, but she said we should be really careful travelin’ in the mountains ‘cause the golems wouldn’t necessarily behave like normal golems. I figured that wouldn’t be much trouble for me, since I didn’t know what “normal” golems behaved like in the first place.

Once she was done with what was goin’ on now, she started lookin’ at the history. The old path was a horse path that’d had carts on it, so it was probably still a pretty decent road, ‘cept there were a few bridges along the path that were probably collapsed since then, so we should be prepared for some climbin’. I smiled and thought of my brand new Boots of the Winterlands, Immovable Rod, and my old rope, and figured I’d be able to get the group ‘cross any ravines. The old record talked about the mountains near Finder’s Gulch bein’ infested with “redcaps”, even before the Mother o’ Wights came along, and this time I’m sure Jocelyn saw me writin’ it down on my arm along with the rest o’ the notes, but she just smiled a little ’n’ didn’t say anythin’ ‘cause she’s nice that way. The more important stuff from the archives was that while normal wights aren’t anythin’ a well-trained group o’ soldiers needs to fear, the wights the Mother o’ Wights created could single-handedly take out a platoon o’ soldiers, explainin’ why they’d gone to all the expense to create all those golems. Even worse, the wights o’ Finders Gulch ‘re clever: They hunt in packs, use sound tactics, are stealthy ’n’ clever, and are dedicated to makin’ livin’ people into more wights. Basically no fun at all at parties. As if hidey smart wights weren’t bad enough, early reports out of the village were that once it was destroyed, some o’ the dead villagers came back as vengeful ghosts, so now it’s a haunted village full o’ ghosts.

This trip is lookin’ less and less fun!

Once Jocelyn’d told me all that she asked me whether my favor was repaid, ’n’ I said sure, and she smiled, but I figured I’d probably end up doin’ her some more favors in the future by accident, so I’d keep harassin’ her for stuff. What’s the worst that can happen? I get followed by another devil? Get in line, chum!

I met up with the others and we learned a little more. At the temple of Pharasma, Llew learned ‘bout the wights ’n’ ghosts too, but also learned that the temple’d been looking to destroy ‘em for a while now (no word of a reward… yet). The Eledir road was for food goin’ in to the village, and the Logas road was for diamonds comin’ out. Forth didn’t learn much other than that the dwarves were pretty angry with the humans for settin’ up a diamond mine without them, then losin’ it to a single priestess. They kind o’ had a point. Alembic didn’t say what he’d been doin’, but he definitely smelled more girl-y than book-y, so I’m pretty sure I know how he spend his hours in Eledir. But he’d volunteered to do the legwork in Logas, so I didn’t hold it against him.

I may tease him mercilessly about it later, but I won’t hold it against him.

Speakin’ o’ teasin’ Alembic, the moment he teleported us to Logas I changed my outfit to look like a homeless orphan, then tousled up my hair a bit (more), rolled in the dirt, ’n’ started followin’ Alembic ‘round, snifflin’ at him and lookin’ at him with big eyes, scared ’n’ obedient at the same time. I like to think I was puttin’ on a good show. Then he had the nerve to order me to get him a beer! So I figured I had a writ to break into any place in Logas that I hadn’t yet used, but I wasn’t allowed to take anythin’, so I started wrackin’ my brain tryin’ to figure out how to get into someone’s house and get them to give me beer after admittin’ I’d successfully broken in and not taken any stuff. Seemed like a LOT of work for a joke, and jokes that take work aren’t funny unless fire or pain is involved. So I got bored o’ thinkin’ and just fetched him a beer, ‘cause I wanted to keep up the act. But after handin’ it to him, I pretended to trip ’n’ scrape up my knees ’n’ sniffled a bit, and people started lookin’ at Alembic approvingly like he was doin’ the right thing. Stupid Asmodeans!

So while Alembic was sittin’ there enjoyin’ his beer, ’n’ people were tryin’ to bump into me and knock me over again all subtle-like, and I wasn’t stabbin’ ‘em ‘cause I hadn’t bought that particular indulgence… yet, I asked Alembic ‘bout redcaps. And basically they’re angry gnomes in steel shoes. You’ve got to use cold iron to cut ‘em (check), they like to stomp ’n’ kick people with their steel shoes (whatever), their caps are red ‘cause they dip ‘em in the blood o’ their enemies (which means they’ve got to have a LOT of enemies, ‘cause I don’t know that my cap’d be all that red if I did that), you can take their caps away to make ‘em weaker (OK, that sounds really fun), and they hate religion. In fact, they’ll run away from any “true believer” presenting their god’s holy symbol. I started thinkin’ ‘bout how long it’d been since I’d paid Calistria an obeisance, and started thinkin’ it was probably time for me to visit the temple, and not just for information.

First, though, it was time to visit Alembic’s cousin or brother or uncle or whatever-the-heck-he-was, Brighton Farbridge, Captain o’ the Guard (or whatever). He seemed happy enough to see us, and when Alembic started askin’ him ‘bout the road he could tell us a bit about it from the Logas side o’ things. The Jeggares got their wealth from the diamond mine at Finder’s Gulch (the plot thickens!), and rumor has it that the people up there unearthed somethin’ that attracted a cleric of Urgathoa named Ilkanya Alanar, who went on to do all the disease-castin’ and hostage-murderin’ and so forth to become the Mother o’ Wights. So, I don’t care much for “Alanar”, but Ilkanya’s got a nice ring to it. Couldn’t she have become, “Ilkanya, Mother o’ Wights” or somethin’? Ah, well, there’s no accountin’ for taste! It’s not like I’d go around cuttin’ myself into pieces and feedin’ myself to other people for an accursed diamond, either. Farbridge specifically said Urgathoa’s “wrath”, so while other people were thinkin’ ‘bout something Ilkanya would’ve wanted, I was thinkin’ maybe it was somethin’ she wanted to destroy, like maybe a diamond that cured all diseases or made you immune or somethin’. But it doesn’t much matter, ‘cause we don’t know what it is ’til she’s dead. But in general, the people of Logas figured the Mother of Wights was someone else’s problem: They weren’t buggin’ her, she wasn’t buggin’ them, ’n’ there were golems between her ’n’ them. ‘Cept they were kind o’ forgettin’ her whole plot to wipe the city off the map with an army of undead, but humans are stupid that way.
On the sly, Farbridge mentioned that there were actually Urgathoans in town that he was tryin’ to root out, and they were probably another reason the townsfolk weren’t so keen on bothering the Mother. Before we left, he said the same thing ‘bout the golems: They’d seen some “corrupted” ones, so if we were plannin’ on headin’ up, we had to watch out for ‘em. He even told us they were iron golems, but Alembic didn’t know anythin’ about them, so we decided to go to the library.

Once we were there, I was gettin’ pretty bored so I offered to play hide-n-seek with the head librarian. He thought it was a great idea ’n’ he started showin’ me all the best places to hide, ’n’ he said he’d search for me really hard but I knew he wouldn’t so I kind o’ look forward to him gettin’ to explain to the angry moms how those drawings got into those kids’ books. ‘Cept I used chalk, ‘cause I’m good that way (and I didn’t have anything better to write with) so I didn’t ruin anything. And I was tired o’ bein’ a waif so I came out all dressed noble-like, and the head librarian didn’t even notice, makin’ me sure he was lyin’ when he said he’d looked all over for me, ‘cause he obviously didn’t even know what I looked like. Alembic said the library didn’t have any useful information, but I was beginnin’ to think it wasn’t the library that was the problem here. But the head librarian did tell us that the Guild of Magicians probably built the golems, so we could ask there, and Llew’d spent the time learnin’ ‘bout daughters o’ Urgathoa, ’n’ of course she learned everything there was to know ‘cause she wasn’t Alembic.

They’re basically adopted daughters o’ Urgathoa (which kind o’ explains the name), ’n’ they look like the people they were from the waist up, but from the waist down they’re twisted, deformed things. I really didn’t want to ask, and Llew didn’t elaborate. They’ve got all the stuff they knew in life, so the Mother o’ Wights would be a high-level cleric, plus a nasty claw that had a “devastatin’ attack” that didn’t sound all that fun, and that caused all kinds o’ nasty diseases. Other’n that, you just kill ‘em like any other creature, and they’re evil so Forth’s smite’ll work, as will Llew’s protection.

At this point Alembic was plannin’ on goin’ to the Guild o’ Magicians to talk to THEM and read MORE books and I was pretty much done, so I told ‘em I was headed to the temple of Calistria to find out whether there were any elves or gnomes there old enough to remember the path before the Mother of Wights, ‘cause we all live to proper ages, not like humans who breed like rabbits ’n’ die like ‘em, too. On the way all these people were noddin’ at me and bowin’ to me, and some o’ the merchants were givin’ me free candy ’n’ stuff, but it didn’t ‘splode so I knew they weren’t lovin’ me ‘cause I was a gnome, they were lovin’ me ‘cause I was dressed all noble-like, so I snubbed ‘em, and apparently that made me even more important so it was all I could do to avoid havin’ a retinue by the time I got to the temple.

I figured I could kill two birds with one stone real quick-like, so as I walked in I looked around for a likely candidate for my obeisance. And maybe Calistria was just smilin’ on me or maybe she was punishin’ me, but there in the waitin’ room for the servicin’ area was a group o’ halflings who couldn’t’ve been more’n an hour off the farm. They were all done up farmer’s-weddin’ style, with fineries passed down from their granddads or their great-granddads, and smellin’ like manure ’n’ hay, ’n’ some of ‘em still had hay in their hair to prove to anyone beyond a doubt that they were yokels, ’n’ they had a big ol’ bag o’ coins that I was sure were all copper ’n’ they were mutterin’ ’n’ gigglin’ ’n’ obviously wonderin’ what they could afford for the would-be groom for what was obviously a year’s wages for them.
So I just waded on through ‘em, still in my noble’s outfit, ’n’ grabbed the groom (I presumed) by the hand, ’n’ dragged him off, and found a room, and got to work.
‘Cept whatever acolyte was in charge o’ this room’d really fallen down on the job; it was really small to begin with, and then it was cluttered with brooms ’n’ mops ’n’ a couple o’ buckets, ’n’ there was no bed ’n’ no light, so I had to set my ioun torch goin’ cause farm boy had no idea what the heck he was doin’.
And yeah, he was bad. I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever had worse. Maybe he was nervous, or stupid, or used to tied-up sheep or somethin’, but I started to really pity his would-be bride. But I know what Calistria says: “If you’re not enjoying yourself, at least make sure your partner has the experience of his lifetime. Or make him suffer such agony as he will never forget.”
I figured since this was an obeisance ’n’ all I should probably do the former ’n’ not the latter, ’n’ I think I did a pretty good job ‘cause I left him lyin’ there semi-conscious in the dark room with the brooms and his trousers half-down ’n’ the door ajar, but I figured an acolye’d find him ’n’ get him all fixed up.
Trouble was, now I smelled like hay ’n’ manure so I had to go to baths before I saw the priestess, so that was really nice but took a bit o’ time ‘cause I hadn’t had a hot bath in a LONG time and I really needed one.

Once I was all cleaned up I went to see the priestess. I turned on the charm (though I didn’t dare use the Big Eyes on her, ‘cause I figure Calistria’d poke ‘em out for pullin’ that kind o’ stunt), and she admitted that she hadn’t been around for all that nonsense, but there were a few elves in the temple who were old enough, ’n’ she’d ask around for me. So I waited in the waitin’ room, gettin’ some sidelong glances from the other halflings who were probably wonderin’ when their turn was (considerin’ your friend’s performance, I think it’s safe to say, “Never!”, and that’s why I don’t do halflings!), but eventually the priestess came back and told me I could see “Greenbrow”, a male elf, which kind o’ surprised me ‘cause I was kind o’ ‘specting to get information secondhand, as it were, and I didn’t know miners to swing that way, at least publicly. But whatever, I went in to see Greenbrow and he was a handsome enough sort, so I figured if I’d been a miner with those tendencies I’d’ve jumped him on the spot, so no harm there. ‘Cept Greenbrow started talkin’ and it turned out he was a guide. I keep forgettin’ that elves’re good for other things, but when the only time you see ‘em is in your dreams o’ Calistria, you start gettin’ biased, y’know?

Anyhoo, turns out he was a fantastic resource, ‘cause he’d been up’n’down that path dozens o’ times, and he was still pretty young for an elf so he could remember it all real clearly, and since I’m all charmin’ he was willin’ to talk me all the way through it all. So, there were five or six serious gorges on the way from Logas to Finder’s Gulch, and all of ‘em used to have bridges on ‘em that Logas had paid to have built, but having been on ‘em, Greenbrow didn’t think they’d still be around, so we’d have to have some way to cross the gorges — either flyin’ or bein’ real good climbers. He recommended flyin’. Once we were past the gorges, there weren’t just redcaps, but other creatures as well; there were rocs flyin’ round in the high mountaintops who had a solid taste for horse meat, and if they happened to take the rider too that didn’t bother them at all. There were all kinds o’ other nasty critters, but they were all the kinds you usually see in the mountains, so the ones we really needed to prepare for were the redcaps and the rocs.

Once we got there, we had to be ready for Finder’s Gulch, ‘cause it wasn’t a normal village. It was built all secure-like, so most of it was underground, and nobody who wasn’t mining or involved with mining was allowed down there, so Greenbrow’d never seen it. On the surface was a simple wooden village with stores ’n’ inns ’n’ the like for travelers coming to and from the place, but the live-in people were mostly underground. The above-ground part was well-defended, too, with ballistas and a couple o’ towers (one for each entrance) and otherwise set up to hold off an army. Too bad it couldn’t keep out one cleric o’ Urgathoa. Probably wouldn’t keep us out, either, but good stuff to know! But the whole thing was built into a ravine, so one more time flyin’ was probably the best way to go, ‘cept for the rocs that’d try to eat you out o’ the sky if you weren’t flyin’ carefully.

So once he was done, I figured since we were in the temple ’n’ all I should offer him thanks in kind, and imagine my surprise when he took me up on it! And oh. My. Goodness. The halfling might’ve been the worst I’d ever had. Greenbrow was better’n any dream I’d ever had! I had the momentary thought that maybe he was just doin’ his obeisance, and choosin’, “Please the other one,” ‘stead of, “Pain beyond imaginin’,” but at that moment he did somethin’ and I just plain didn’t care any more.
Once I could stand up again (and believe you me it took a while), I knew why Calistria was always surrounded by elves, and I had to admit I was pretty jealous. I decided I liked elves. I really, really liked elves. Greenbrow deserved another visit. Or twelve.

Anyhoo, the acolyte at the front was kind enough to remind me I was starkers before I went out on the street (and the stupid halflings acted like they’d never seen a naked gnome before, and unless they’ve never been near gnomes, they must’ve), so I did myself up as a noble again and started lookin’ for the rest o’ the group.
You’d think askin’ ‘bout a dwarf, an albino, and a hunchback’d either get people waitin’ for the punchline or sayin’, “Oh, yeah, I saw that group!”, but it took a surprisin’ amount o’ time to track ‘em down in front o’ the mayor’s office. They were waitin’ to see him, ’n’ Llew told me she’d heard ‘bout the same thing from her temple, ‘cept they said 4-5 gulches (I figured it had to be 5), Finder’s Gulch’d produced around 10,000 gold pieces a day in diamond dust plus a few fine diamonds, and the Mother o’ Wights’d turned the entire thing into a “wight’s hoard”, where if you accepted payment in diamonds you’d be cursed until you returned the diamonds to the hoard in Finder’s Gulch. The rest o’ the party was all worried ‘bout the diamonds Heddy gave us, but I was sure they were fine, ‘cause Heddy’s an upright sort. But I’m bettin’ the Mother o’ Wights paid the Jeggares in those kinds o’ diamonds. But Llew said we shouldn’t accept diamonds as payment any more ’til this mess was all cleaned up, and I figured it wasn’t too likely someone else was goin’ to offer us diamonds so I agreed.

They’d also gone ’n’ seen the rest o’ the families ‘bout gettin’ permission to get into the Guild o’ Magicians, which I figured was a waste o’ time ‘cause I had permission to break in anywhere I wanted to, but they just shushed me and kept tellin’ me more news. They’d visited old Calum Jeggare and he’d given them some 80-year-old book tellin’ how his grandparents’d helped finance the golems and there were two kinds: Iron golems and some custom-crafted golems called “stalkers” that were shaped like big wolves. I didn’t like the sound o’ that already, ‘cause I don’t like wolves. The good news was that there were only 2 of ‘em. The bad news was that they were made of adamantine and there was one guardin’ each path, so we’d have to figure out a way past ‘em.

We finally got into Mayor Muskgrove’s office, and imagine my surprise when he pointed me at Father Ferrington’s chair! They DO care! All the traps were set ’n’ such, ’n’ there were a few minor modifications, but I set to twiddlin’ ’n’ testin’ ’n’ tunin’ ’n’ makin’ sure none o’ the other builders’d messed anythin’ up, but other than a lot o’ gnomish obscenities and one clever wit who just tried to put a splinter in my butt, there wasn’t much harm done. The rest o’ the group was talkin’ some nonsense ‘bout how they’d got permission from the rest o’ the families to go into the Guild, ’n’ they needed his permission, but I was more interested in how Forth’d reacted to meetin’ Blackburn. Guess I’d never know. Anyhoo, he gave us permission to go to the guild, but he was kind o’ disappointed that I didn’t do anythin’ to the chair. I figured it didn’t do anythin’ to me, so fair’s fair, but he said that every other gnome had added somethin’ to it. I was ‘bout to go off on how if he was goin’ around predictin’ gnome behavior then obviously there was somethin’ wrong with those other gnomes, but Llew put some gum on the chair and Muskgrove was happy, so we got to leave without any incidents. It was late enough in the afternoon that everyone wanted to go first thing in the mornin’ so they’d have plenty of time. That idea did not bother me at all. After assurin’ the party I’d be OK, I went back to the temple to spend the night. And if you’ve gotta ask why, then you gotta work on your readin’ comprehension. ‘Cept while I was there I also asked the priestess whether I was cursed, ’n’ she said I wasn’t, so I figured I was right; Heddy was a solid guy.

In the mornin’ (and yes, gettin’ out o’ bed was hard), I met back up with the group ’n’ we went to the guild, but the old guildmaster said I wasn’t allowed to touch any books, on account o’ bein’ a gnome, but he had a puzzle he was hopin’ I could solve for him. It sounded fun, ’n’ then he handed me a roll o’ scrolls and an ornate wooden box ’n’ I was lookin’ forward to seein’ what it was. Then I pulled open the first scroll ’n’ it was carefully-scribed animal outlines, like you give to kids to color in. The box was full o’ colored wax crayons. So I started writin’ some obscenities in Sylvan, but I saw that some other gnomes’d beaten me to it. I figure I got my “Llew karma” for the day by not stabbin’ him then ’n’ there, but Llew said I should go shoppin’ with Forth, but not spend any diamond dust. I told her I’d already spent all o’ mine and the priestess said I wasn’t cursed, so she got happier and gave me a shoppin’ list ’n’ some stuff she needed, too.

Shoppin’ with Forth was all kinds o’ fun. ‘Cause I had Llew’s money so I kept talkin’ ‘bout buyin’ silly stuff with it, like some string or a little pull horse or maybe some hot pepper taffy, ’n’ Forth kept patiently lecturin’ me that I shouldn’t misspend other people’s money so I’d back down. It was a fun game, ‘cause Forth’s all serious ’n’ he tries to be patient with me, but sometimes I think I see his beard twitch a little. But in the end I spent Llew’s money right ’n’ proper on the ointment she’d asked for, ’n’ I even made sure to ask around to make sure the vendor was well-regarded, and that seemed to cheer Forth up a bit. ‘Cause I like to think I brighten his day every day by lettin’ him reform me a little. ‘Course, then I call back to my old habits, but then who would he have to reform?
Trouble was, I also happened to mention sneakin’ into the Guild’s library ’n’ markin’ it up with chalk ’n’ such so I’d be within my rights o’ indulgence, but Forth didn’t like it ’n’ told me not to, ’n’ I didn’t want to hurt his feelin’s ‘cause I like him, but I still wanted to break into the vault ’n’ vandalize it. I figured I’d do it once Llew ’n’ Alembic were out, ‘cause Llew’s got sharp eyes, ’n’ I can deal with either one of ‘em bein’ mad at me, but havin’ both Llew ’n’ Forth mad at me at once’d be sad.

The news wasn’t good. The golems were all paid for with diamond dust 80 years ago. There were 16 iron golems that cost 150,000 gold pieces apiece to make (why am I writin’ this? Why should I care? Shut up, Trig, Llew’s talkin’ some more and it may be important later), and 2 adamantine golems in the shape o’ wolves that cost 600,000 gold pieces to make. The really important bit was that there were 12 iron golems on the Logas passage, and only 4 on the Eledir passage, makin’ our choice pretty clear. Even better, every family had a password, and we had all five of ‘em, so if we all started yellin’ at once we might be able to get a few o’ the golems to stop tryin’ to kill us.
In terms of fightin’ ‘em, both Alembic ’n’ Llew figured a single iron golem’d be a pretty tough fight for our group. You need adamantine weapons to hurt ‘em (check), but they’re strong fighters, they can breathe a cloud o’ poison gas that out-and-out kills you in under a minute, fire heals ‘em (so no alchemist’s fire), and electricity slows ‘em (‘cept I don’t have any). The best way to fight ‘em is with a rust monster (didn’t see any in the pet shops, and I’m sure I’d’ve noticed) or Rusting Grasp. I could at least ask around ‘bout that.
The adamantine golems’re another kettle of fish. We can’t hurt ‘em, even if we do they’re unkillable without a miracle, wish, or adamantine vorpal weapon, the only spell that hurts ‘em is Transmute Metal to Wood, which I’ve never heard of, ’n’ if they hit you it destroys all your gear. I kind o’ rubbed my Handy Haversack when I heard that one. I have SO many nice things!
Llew told us about ghosts ’n’ wights, ’n’ we knew most of it (ghosts are incorporeal ’n’ they damage you by agin’ you, while wights’re just grunt troops that drain your life force), ‘cept the specialized wights we might fight can channel their drains through weapons, or maybe even arrows, so we need to protect ourselves from arrows to boot!

Now that we knew it was OK to spend the diamond dust that I had already spent, both Llew ’n’ Forth bought new armor for themselves, which made me happy ‘cause I’m tired o’ watchin’ Forth bleed. If Alembic bought somethin’, I didn’t see it, but o’ course I wasn’t payin’ attention. But then he said it was time to teleport us back to Eledir before I got a chance to vandalize the guild! I would’ve argued, but I didn’t think Llew or Forth’d listen to the merits o’ vandalizin’ a library.

Since I had no more money ’n’ everyone else figured they were ready enough to get started, ‘cause Alembic could always teleport us back if we needed more stuff, we got our Phantom Steeds and headed west out of Eledir. ‘Cept I’d almost forgotten but when Llew mentioned questionin’ the brigands I ran and bought a sap. I asked Alembic to make my steed look like an undead unicorn ’n’ he did, so I decided to be nice to him for the day. It only took us a couple o’ hours to get to the first inn, which was s’posed to be a day’s ride out o’ town, but phantom steeds’re pretty fast. Once we got in, I started chattin’ up the clientele, ‘cause it’s what I do, ’n’ we started learnin’ ‘bout the state o’ things. With the undead invasion, all the farms had been abandoned ’n’ then trampled, so even those farmers who’d come back were just tryin’ to make do with whatever’d survived, ’n’ there’d likely be a bit of a food shortage in Eledir this year. The inn was barely open, and just got alcohol a few days ago, and had to pay for a couple o’ burly armed guards just in case o’ stray undead wanderin’ in. I bought the guards a round, ’n’ they proved they were serious by refusin’ ’til they were off-duty. Good crowd!

But the big problem, and the thing that was going to plague Eledir even worse if nothin’ was done, was that there weren’t enough workers to tend the farms that were tryin’ to grow stuff. The lands were full o’ brigands who’d survived the undead horde, and who were the stronger for it, and were now just takin’ anythin’ they wanted ‘cause there was no law in the land. I asked the innkeep whether it was lawful in his land to kill brigands, and he said, “Yes,” so I’d heard it from both Jocelyn and the innkeep so I figured I was safe stabbin’ people. Or at least sappin’ ‘em. But with the brigands about, and ‘specially the brigand lords, there were too few workers ’n’ almost no travelers, so the land was dyin’.

It seemed like we needed to take a detour and take us out some brigand lords.

Llew ’n’ Forth said it was probably smarter to keep goin’ ’n’ wait to be ambushed, so I figured that sounded fun ’n’ we rode on. So, I don’t know whether the guy was ‘specting nothin’ but tall people, or he’d never dealt with gnomes before, but up ahead of us about a hundred yards was a guy whose upper body was all well-hidden in a bush, but from my low-down angle I could see the rest of ‘im plain as day. A ways behind him was the rest of his gang, hangin’ out and totally unaware that we were comin’. Talk about a sad lookout! So I pointed him out to Llew, ’n’ she pointed ‘em out to the others, and they all decided they just wanted to walk straight into the ambush ’n’ see what happened. I’m a delicate girl, so I popped off my steed ’n’ into the weeds, and pulled out my brand-new sap ‘cause I figured I was gonna get a chance to try it out.
So the rest o’ the group rode forwards slowly so I could keep up, and the “lookout” started wavin’ a red cloth towards his friends ’n’ they finally started stirrin’, ’n’ Llew told ‘im that he’d better start wavin’ the blue flag or whatever the other color was, ‘cause otherwise there’d be trouble. Unfortunately, Llew’s kind o’ scary, even when she’s tryin’ to be nice, so he up ’n’ skedaddled on us, screamin’ his head off.

We moved on towards the rest of ‘em, and we heard the guy tellin’ ‘em that we were on flyin’ horses, and that wasn’t normal, and apparently Llew, Forth, ’n’ Alembic’d just walked right over some pits without even noticin’, and I was in the weeds so I hadn’t seen ‘em either, but Llew demanded to see their leader ’n’ after a bit more hemmin’ ’n’ hawin’ they sent out a guy. Forth asked me to call out my name again, and I don’t know why he does that, but after he called, “What’s your name?” I called back, “Trig!” and all the guys got scared ‘cause none of ‘em had seen me. I was thinkin’ less and less o’ these brigands. Forth rolled his eyes like he does when we play this game, and then he asked the leader what his name was and he called himself Banewielder, which was a mighty big name for a brigand who was too scared to admit he was their leader.

So they didn’t want to do anythin’ but talk, so I put my sap away and I was kind o’ sad I didn’t get to use it, but they were bein’ polite ’n’ I said so, and that cheered ‘em up so they started talkin’ more, ’n’ pretty soon we figured out these were the very farmers ’n’ laborers we were lookin’ for, ‘cept they were payin’ tithes to a pair o’ bandit lords, one to the north and one to the south, and they had to be bandits ‘cause otherwise they’d get killed. But Llew pointed out that it was pretty silly that they were stealin’ their own silverware to pay the tithes, and they had to agree.

We asked ‘em ‘bout the road, and all they really knew was that it was too dangerous to go up, but there was a miner named either “Old Filbert” or “Philip Dren” or somethin’ like that, who had a cabin about a day’s ride past here, and if we could find him he’d probably know more ‘bout the roads than anyone. The farmers-turned-brigands just knew that there were lots o’ rocs in the mountains, so we had to be careful.

We all agreed that the first thing we needed to do was get rid o’ the bandit lords so these gents could get back to farmin’ and laborin’ ’n’ such. Llew checked for the tithe-takers both north ’n’ south, ’n’ she could see the tracks o’ both set o’ bandits clear as day, so once we learned that the last tithe-takers came from the north, so we headed south to head ‘em off at the pass, so to speak.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I love the whole thing with the bandits being farmers forced into banditry! Well played, sneaky GM. Well played indeed! :)

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