Thursday, February 17, 2011

SR35: Ghost Tower Conclusion

This session happened Friday, January 28, 2011, and was the only session I ran this past weekend.

Adventuring Group:
Su Bel (human cleric)
– Dame Yasha of Bereste (Su Bel’s human cavalier cohort)
Mog the Doomed (half-orc barbarian)
Tycho von Helmont (elf alchemist)
Agnes Sunbeard (dwarf rogue)
Thorngrim (half-orc sorcerer)
 – Kainen (Thorngrim’s human fighter cohort)
Sal Ty (elf wizard)

Note: the list of player characters is in player sitting order, from my left and then clockwise around the table.

Back at Drop-off Tower, Agnes received a cryptic sending from Su Bel, who appeared to need help.  She roused Tycho and Sal, both of whom were working on small projects of their own, and the trio prepared to go to the rescue of Su Bel and the others.  By the time that packing and preparations were finished, Su Bel, Mog, Thorngrim, Dame Yasha, and Kainen were returning to Drop-off Tower.

Su Bel attempted to explain what they had found in the ruins to the east, but with Mog interjecting tangents and the weirdness of what she was attempting to convey, Agnes, Tycho, and Sal were unclear on the situation.  What was clear was that certain preparation were needed before returning, notably methods for enduring elements without Su Bel using up all of her spells.  Sal got on that and started creating items to achieve the necessary effect.  This took a week, but in the end, the adventurers were ready to tackle the Ghost Tower.  Thorngrim was able to locate and purchase a folding boat back at the Iron Keep during this time.

After riding to the Ghost Tower and stabling their horses in the prepared room, the group made their way to the stairs up and ascended to the Lake of Fire.  Here they took the brass spiral stairs on the right up to see if they went anywhere different.  As it turned out, they dead-ended at the ceiling.  This would have been dangerous in the extreme heat of the chamber, but Sal’s amulets of endure element protected the adventurers from the heat.  Retracing their steps, they went up the brass spiral stairs on the left and entered the Jungle.

The group followed Thorngrim’s arcane marks through the maze of paths to the Shrine of the Ape God.  Agnes gave it a look-over and discovered a secret compartment in the side of the shrine.  Inside were 2 golden yellow topazes, 5 amber gems, and 5 low quality diamonds.  The diamonds were something both Sal and Su Bel were very interested in as spell reagents for some critical spells.  After verifying there was no other loot to be had (and getting a very fractured story of what the previous expedition had encountered), the group of adventurers ascended the vine-covered stone spiral staircase to the Mist Level.

At this point both Su Bel and Thorngrim attempted to explain the nature of the anti-gravity field in the center of this chamber, but Agnes remained very doubtful.  Thorngrim used the amulet from the manticore to peer around the chamber, through the mist.  He discovered that there were some flying saurons (pteranodons) in the chamber.  Su Bel summoned some celestial dire bats to combat them.  Thorngrim followed the complex aerial dog-fighting and saw that the pteranodons were slowly winning – until he threw a couple of fireballs into the mix, roasting the pteranodons and securing victory for the celestial dire bats.

Once the pteranodons were dealt with, the group approached the center of the room.  Checking the rope to the next level, the adventurers discovered that it was no longer tied off above and appeared to have been cut!  Using a combination of fly and feather fall spells, the group cautiously ascended to the next chamber.  [NOTE: It was discovered at this point that Su Bel is very afraid of water that is deeper than she is tall.  Special care was taken to keep her from plunging into the warm salt water that covered the ceiling of the next level to a depth of 30 ft.]

Agnes finally understood what Su Bel and Thorngrim had been trying to explain: gravity was reversed on this level, so the tropical “sea” (complete with coral reef and sandy island with two palm trees) was on the ceiling.  To ascend any further, the group had to find a way “down”.  On the sandy island, the adventurers discovered some tracks emerging from the water to where the rope was once tied off.  The tracks were identified as belonging to sahuagin.  Su Bel summoned some celestial dolphins and sent them to search under the waters for the exits, but they failed to discover anything.  The group stayed alert while Su Bel then attempted to divine the location of the exit.  She received indications that the exit was on the back side of the island and under the water, so she cast water breathing on herself and Mog and the two dove under the water.  [Not without some teasing.]

Under the water, Su Bel and Mog found two things: the exit (in the form of a water-proof hatch) and a swarm of sahuagin on the attack!  Unfortunately for the sahuagin, Mog alone was pretty much a match for them and while Su Bel was threatened at one point, she was never in any real danger.  After the fight, Su Bel opened the hatch and peered in.  The water continued “down” a shaft with handholds cut in the side to a mirrored surface that undulated.  Su Bel dropped a copper coin “down” the shaft and watched it sink.  At a certain point it reversed its fall and came to rest apparently floating in the water.

Su Bel had Mog get the rest of the adventurers and the group swam “down” the shaft.  Where the coin appeared to float, gravity reverted to its normal orientation and the adventurers were able to swim up to the mirrored surface, which turned out to be the surface of the water on the next level.  Climbing the handholds carved into the side of the shaft, the adventures found themselves in a domed chamber showing the starry sky.  Sal and Thorngrim used prestidigitation to dry off all the adventurers.  There was a large apparatus in the center of the chamber and the bottom three feet of the walls all the way around the chamber were bookshelves full of books and scrolls.

While Agnes and Sal checked out the books (Agnes for traps, Sal for contents), Tycho investigated the structure in the center of the chamber.  It consisted of two great arcs of metal, each three-quarters of a circle and attached at a right angle to each other, the main arc perpendicular to the floor.  Where the two arcs met was a reclining seat with wide arm rests.  The arm rest on the left contained buttons that were controls of some sort.  Tycho sat in the seat and started fiddling with the controls.  He discovered that the entire apparatus could rotate left-right and up-down.  Some of the controls allowed magnified viewing of the open space delimited by the tips of the arcs while another set blocked or unblocked the position of the sun in the sky.  This room was clearly an observatory as well as a library.  Tired (and with Sal wanting to look at ALL the books), the group camped here for the night.

During the night, Sal found a journal of the Tower’s previous occupant and learned that some devices found on a table in the Observatory were used to safely descend through the reverse gravity field.  The adventurers secured a couple of these for later use.  After Sal had packed away a choice selection of books in his handy haversack, the adventurers returned to the Water Level to see if there were anymore sahuagin (or some sahuagin treasure).  Using Thorngrim’s folding boat, the adventurers floated on the surface of the waters.  Su Bel cast water breathing and shield other on Mog, who then jumped overboard and started searching the coral area for the sahuagin lair.  He found several traps, including a form of pit trap that used loops of kelp to pull its victim onto sharpened spikes.  When Su Bel suddenly started taking damage from her link to Mog, the other adventurers realized he was in trouble and started entering the water.

Meanwhile, Mog discovered that the bottom of the pit he was in also flanked by tunnels with waiting sahuagin with spears.  Slipping free from the trap, Mog started to fight the sahuagin into their lair.  A sahuagin shaman was able to dispel the water breathing on Mog, but died shortly afterward when Agnes joined Mog and cut off the shaman’s retreat.  The last of the sahuagin fell to the assault of Mog and Agnes.

While Mog returned to the surface, Agnes (also under the effects of a water breathing spell) searched the sahuagin liar.  She discovered several coral necklaces and a small golden idol to a sahuagin deity.  She packed away the necklaces and the idol and returned to the surface, reporting what she had found.  Content that there were no more sahuagin, the group used the observatory devices (and a fly spell or two) to descend back down to the Mist Level.  They quickly made their way back down to the ruined tunnels under the tower stump and secured their horses for a quick ride back to the increasingly crowded Drop-off Tower.

*End of session*

[Players of the old convention module C2: Ghost Tower of Iverness should recognize the general levels of this tower.  I jettisoned the castle ruins, switched around the order of the Tower levels, and swapped out the monsters for most of the levels to things that fit the Southern Reaches.  I’ll discuss this more in a later post.]

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