Friday, September 10, 2010

Verden: Poking the Wizard with a Stick

This session happened Wednesday, August 18, 2010.

Adventuring Group:
Arthus (half-elf paladin)
Book (elf rogue)
Gilgamesh (uffnik artificer)

Despite agreeing that the hut should be left alone, Arthus and that walking carpet Gilgamesh decided they couldn’t let it go. Artemis and I were content with staying at the Gnome Hill Inn and refused to go with them, thinking that they would wise up and not go.

They went anyway.

After some time went by, Artemis and I got to talking about it and we decided that the two of them were likely to get themselves killed, leaving us without access to healing magic for the next two and a half months. Plus, Arthus is an easy mark in Three Dragon Ante. So we played a quick game of rock-paper-scissors to see who had to go after them and who got to stay at the inn. I lost.

It took me most of a day to catch up with the two and when I finally did, they were at the hut. They had also provoked whoever was inside already. I could tell this from the handful of blast marks on the ground inside the fenced area and on Gilgamesh. The marks on Gilgamesh were from magic missiles cast by someone inside the hut – I saw the last pair of missiles hit as I came around a final pile of war-debris. As the two idiots were just standing there in the open, trying to decide what to do, I dragged them off to one side, using the hillocks of debris that flanked the hut as cover.

They then brought me up to speed on what they’d done so far. I was stunned. Gilgamesh had decided that the warning sign’s message to “those who can read” meant if he couldn’t read, he’d be safe. So he blindfolded himself and stepped into the fenced off area…directly onto a series of explosive magical mines. He then cast animate rope to untie one of the two bodies hanging on the gibbet in front of the hut (the one in leather armor with several swords on its belt), which is when magic missile spells had started flying from the hut. He stepped out of the fenced area to discuss what to do next with Arthus and got hit again by magic missiles, which is when I showed up.

Seeing as they had already provoked the hut’s occupant, there was no longer a reason to not press on and I strategized with Arthus and Gilgamesh as to our next plan of attack. Gilgamesh wanted to cobble together a new device that would combine grease and burning hands and use that to set the hut on fire. He was a bit fuzzy (no pun intended) with the details on how he’d get close enough to safely use the thing, but it would take eight hours to assemble, so we let him get started on it.

To build another device, Gilgamesh had to take apart one of his current devices. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this always invokes a side effect of some sort. This time is caused grass to rapidly grow five feet tall, fifteen feet wide, and in a long straight line in the direction Gil was facing. He happened to be facing the front door to the hut, so there was now a swath of five-foot tall grass going over the hillock and all the way up to the front door of the hut. Perfect cover.

Barely hesitating long enough to tell Arthus and Gil to stay put, I quickly stepped around the edge of the hillock, hopped the fence, and advanced on the front door of the hut using the five-foot tall grass as cover. I set off three of the mines on my way, but was able to avoid the effects of two of them completely. I then ran part way up the side of the gibbet and slashed the rope suspending the body in half-plate armor. And I looked smooth doing it.

I immediately dragged the amazingly heavy corpse back through the grass, just avoiding the effects of a burning hands spell cast from inside the hut. The grass in front of the hut caught fire and started burning, blocking the door with flames. Idiot wizard.

Gil and Arthus helped me get the body back over the fence and into our impromptu camp, where I discovered why the body was so heavy – the back pack was full of rocks! I was livid. That SOB wizard dangles bodies and issues a challenge like that and then has the nerve to fill the backpacks with rocks! Oh, if I could catch sight of that arrogant wizard, I’d show him what for.

“Luckily”, he decided to come out and yell at us. I was so angry I picked up and threw a rock at him immediately. Not my most diplomatic move. The orc wizard responded by casting spells at us. Not the wisest move on his part. Arthus charged him and whacked the wizard good with his magical longsword while I pulled my light crossbow and started peppering the area around the wizard with bolts. These attacks (mostly Arthus, really, as I never hit him) convinced the wizard to turn invisible and retreat back towards his hut (which was now catching fire, by the way).

After a couple of ineffectual attacks, we were no closer to hurting the wizard, but we could tell he was trying to flee back inside his home. I did an end run around him, setting off a couple more of the mines in the process. Those things don’t do a lot of damage individually, but they really add up. While we had the wizard flanked, the reality was I was not certain how I was going to get out of the fenced area with my life.

Luckily, the wizard was thinking the same thing about himself and decided to parley. He had levitated, which lifted him out of the fighting, but he could not move otherwise and he realized when the invisibility ran out, I’d be able to pin-cushion him with my crossbow. So we tersely talked and agreed to part ways. He cleared a path through the mine field for us and we left, taking the half-plate and sword the body we liberated had on it but leaving the body. We marched an hour away and then camped.

Honestly, I’m glad he decided to talk. Arthus and Gil used up all of their healing magic in the fight and we were still pretty beat up.

The next morning Arthus and Gil used up almost all of their healing again to bring us close to whole again. We decided to march to the cemetery and hole up for the day. We really could not afford to run into anything dangerous without any healing back-up and the cemetery was only two hours away. We marched there as quickly and as cautiously as we could.

When we arrived, we discovered that the markings above the door of the mausoleum had changed. Gilgamesh used his read languages/create water gizmo to read it (plus refill all of our waterskins). It now said "For shame! The peace is ruined! He shall never be allowed to enter again!" Ominous. We decided to not mess with the mausoleum. Arthus spent part of the day doing maintenance on his “new” armor and getting it properly fitted. After that we played Three Dragon Ante to kill time. All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon.

That night, while I was on watch, I heard scraping and moaning noises from inside the mausoleum. I immediately woke up Arthus, thinking his ability to beat down undead might be necessary, and then opened the door to the mausoleum. Collapsed inside was an unconscious human in armor, wearing the crest of Sarenrae (honest sun guys, big on redemption from what I remember). We hauled him out and closed the mausoleum door (locking it) and pulled him over to our fire. He was obviously injured, but still living. Arthus used the last of his healing on the guy (which mostly closed his wounds) and we made him comfortable.

In the morning he woke up and was a bit skittish. We talked with him and learned that his name is Jonathan and he is a cleric in the service of Sarenrae. He had followed his employer out here into the wastes a while back after his employer’s wife had been kidnapped (although he specifically said “stolen”). They had been following leads and entered the mausoleum. His employer had disturbed a coffin and things got hazy after that. Jonathan appears to be missing some time. Could be trauma, could be something else. I’m going to have to watch this guy, follower of Sarenrae or not.

After some discussion, we all decided to head down into the mausoleum to see if we could find Jonathan's employer (or at least that's what Gil and I told Arthus). I reopened the door to the mausoleum and we filed down a flight of stairs into the ground. At the end of the stairs was a room with a stone sarcophagus in the center. The walls were a huge mural, showing the history of the Necromancer Wars, from start to finish. Part of the mural was actually on a tapestry. I checked behind the tapestry and found an open door leading to a room with four coffins. The walls here were bare and two of the coffins were open and empty – the lids of the opened coffins showing deep scratch marks on the inside. Jonathan vaguely remembered this room, but not very well. He thinks this is where his employer started messing with things.

There were stairs out of this room, heading further down, but not as far as the first flight of stairs. These stairs ended in a chamber with three other exits (one on each wall) and a short (three foot) pillar in the center with a domed top. Sitting on the pillar, perfectly balanced, was a gold bowl. I was first in, so I also was the first to notice the two zombies animate and move to attack. I fell back to the rear while Arthus and Jonathan took out the zombies.

Jonathan can read Celestial and the pillar had writing that said something to the effect that anything poured into the bowl would become holy. We tested that with a full waterskin. Seems blessing the water also depleted the magic balancing the round bowl on the round top of the pillar. We flipped the bowl upside down and left it on the pillar in case the magic came back.

We explored the three short corridors leading out of this room. Two were trapped, one by a spear trap I found the hard way and the other with a stone slab dropping from the ceiling, which Arthus found the hard way (after I tripped it – I'm so embarrassed). There were rooms at the end of each corridor, but we avoided messing with the contents, except the third room which contained two ghouls. Those attacked us and we (eventually) put them down. Arthus was paralyzed early in the fight and I took a lot of damage before Jonathan put them down. Handy guy to have around it turns out.

After that, we decided to leave and head back to Vestige. I did take the golden bowl, seeing as it was no longer working. On the way back, Gil finally identified the last of the magic items we found earlier (a pair of eyes of the eagle, which we agreed Artemis would be able to put to best use).

When we got back to Vestige we sold the gold bowl and the sword from the corpse at the hut. Richard paid us REALLY good money for the sword, much more than it was worth. He showed us a sunburst symbol on the sword, identifying it as belonging to a member of I.C.E. and he was really wound up about the orc wizard stringing up I.C.E. members. Richard offered us a 500 gold mark bounty to bring back the other body for burial and the wizard's head. Yes, the paladin leader of I.C.E. put out a hit on the wizard.

We decided we were good with that.

*End Session*

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