The Festering Maze of Sloth

JordimandusRise of the Runelords Campaign Journal. Session Date: 17 April 2015. Continued from previous session

After spending several weeks in Magnimar resting and creating new magical gear, all that was left was to resurrect Nanali. The only cleric capable of performing a true resurrection was the high priest of Abadar, who agreed to lower his fee in exchange for a position for one of his clerics in Jorgenfist – bringing banking, religion and civilisation to the Storval Plateau.

Nanali’s resurrection went well, though a faint smell of smoke seemed to follow the shaman even after the spell was complete. She claimed to have spoken to ‘the spirits’ in the time she was dead, and insisted the party return to Runeforge to destroy all its inhabitants. The heroes didn’t need much convincing, and so they returned to Runeforge and entered the wing of sloth.

This wing of Runeforge turned out to be a festering maze of sewer-like tunnels, with an almost-overwhelming stench filling the entire area. The heroes encountered several disgusting demons and other creatures inhabiting these filthy tunnels. During these encounters they discovered that Nanali had learned some fiery new spells as she destroyed enemies with righteous fury.

In the depths of the maze, the heroes found a morbidly obese wizard with a heart of slime and tentacles, apparently being kept alive by noxious vapours from several pipes. He was not alone either, and was aided by four vrocks. Jordimandus used powerful spells against the heroes, and even managed to blind Nu, but once they worked out that his life force was tied to the coloured liquid in the pipes, they were able to cripple him, forcing him to flee elsewhere in the wing. Unfortunately his demonic heart could no longer sustain him without sustenance from his lair, and he was dead before the heroes tracked him down.

Fiery (NPC) Death

ThundercallerSession Date: Friday 27 March 2015. Continued from previous session

Having survived their encounter with the leader of the warriors of wrath, the heroes healed up and continued their exploration of the Halls of Wrath. They soon discovered a lab featuring numerous sinspawn and a vat of foul-smelling, twitching flesh. There were also about a dozen warriors of wrath in this lab, who were all too happy to have a break from their tedious work.

Although individually weak, the warriors of wrath had numbers on their side. They were tough enough to survive Ciaran’s first two fireballs, after which they reciprocated with their own. Radha and Cecil had no trouble dodging out of the way, but Ciaran and Nanali were not so lucky. Nanali was hit by 8 fireballs, which killed her instantly.

With their healer down. the heroes worked quickly to neutralise the threat before the warriors were able to throw more devastating spells at them. Ciaran eventually paralysed the last remaining warrior before disintegrating him at point-blank range.

With the warriors dispatched, the heroes returned to Athroxis’ chamber where the massive sihedron rune etched onto the ground, and finally figured out that it would absorb teleportation magic. They managed to open a portal to the mountain Rimeskull, in the centre of the circle of statues of the Runelords. From there they decided they had better return to Magnimar to resurrect Nanali – anything less would almost certainly cause a war with Nanali’s tribe.

The heroes also took the time to recover, upgrade their gear, and prepare to return to Runeforge and destroy its few remaining inhabitants. There were still three wings they had not yet investigated, but they were bound to contain evils to vanquish – and riches to claim for their cause.

The Halls of Wrath

highlady athroxisSession Date: 20 March 2015. Continued from previous session

After recovering from their encounter with the golem guarding the Halls of Wrath, and the statue of Karzoug, the heroes set about imbuing their weapons with the power of the Runeforge, creating dominant weapons that might be used against Karzoug.

Feeling prepared for whatever was waiting for them in the Halls of Wrath, the heroes ventured forward, ignoring the sense of unease they felt – the halls seemed too quiet. They stepped through one of the teleportation circles into a large hall, closed on one side by a wall of smoke. This wall turned out to be nothing but an illusion, but the enemy on the other side could see through it, meaning they were well-prepared for when the heroes finally stepped into the room containing a massive teleportation circle. This circle seemed to be the most likely way of escaping Runeforge, but it was well-guarded.

Highlady Athroxis was waiting for the heroes – it was the challenge she had been waiting for her entire life. She transformed into the guise of a fire giant and summoned a treachery demon to aid her. He in turn summoned two vrocks to face the heroes.

The fight was long and deadly, as Athroxis wielded both powerful spells and brutal melee attacks. Radha took a fatal blow from Athroxis’s flaming ranseur. Combined with the spores sprouting vines all over her body (thanks to the vrocks), Radha bled to death very quickly. Fortunately, Nanali had been watching the battle carefully, and dashed forward to cast breath of life on Radha before it was too late. By this time, Athroxis’s demonic minions had been dispatched, and Athroxis herself succumbed to the unrelenting attacks of Nu, Cecil and Ciaran – and Radha, before she fell.

All in all, the heroes were relieved to have survived facing the biggest challenge they had yet come across in Runeforge.

RotRL Campaign Journal: Golems are Scary

Pathfinder Campaign Journal. Session Date: Friday 21 February 2015. Continued from previous session.

Karzoug-golem1

After surviving their adventures in the Runeforge wing of pride and illusion, the heroes moved onto the halls of wrath – transmutation magic. They didn’t quite expect the magnificent marble entrance hall guarded by a massive iron golem wielding a huge bow which shot arrows of flame. The golem also happened to be standing on a platform 30 feet high, made of smooth – unclimbable – marble.

The golem’s location forced the Nu and Radha to move in close in order to damage the 12-foot-high statue. This opened them up to the golem’s devastating melee attacks, which had both the monk and the ninja seeing stars rather quickly. Fortunately, Radha was prepared for the golem’s tough exterior, and managed to deal a massive amount of damage with her adamantine kukri, bringing down the golem, but not before it set off the alarm which surely alerted the entire wing to their presence.

However, no follow up attacks came, and so the heroes investigated the room the golem had been guarding. They found a red circle and a blue one, carved with ancient runes which seemed to indicate that they were some sort of teleportation circles. Having read in Vraxeris’ journal that the halls of wrath contained a portal that allowed the user to exit Runeforge entirely, the heroes were hesitant to use the circles without knowing where they went.

Eventually they decided to send Ciaran through one of the circles, leaving his familiar Snappy behind to (hopefully) maintain contact with the others. Invisible, Ciaran stepped into the circle, arriving on what seemed to be another level of the halls of wrath. There, several warriors and monsters were waiting – Ciaran dispatched these with a few well-aimed fireballs. He then returned through the portal, remaining invisible to his friends and observing them.

The remaining heroes were unable to interpret Snappy’s communications with them, and assumed Ciaran had been lost through the portal. They decided to head back to the Runeforge pool and attempt to enchant their weapons before following Ciaran into the unknown. At least then they would have something that could help them stand against Karzoug.

Upon activating the magic of the Runeforge pool, however, the statue of Karzoug animated and taunted the heroes, claiming they would never reach his hidden city. The statue then attacked, very nearly making Karzoug’s taunt come true. It was only with the help of the magic of Nu’s newly-enchanted temple sword that they were able to destroy the statue – and some invisible help from Ciaran, who finally decided to reveal himself at the end of the battle.

The Shimmering Veils of Pride

VraxerisNext, the heroes decided to explore the wing of pride – illusion magic – in order to find a component to forge into a weapon to use against Runelord Karzoug. Unsurprisingly, the halls of pride were filled with floor to ceiling mirrors, and at their entrance was a very dangerous trap: two mirrors of opposition, which produced duplicates of the heroes each time they saw their reflection in these mirrors.

It was only after four copies of Nu and Cecil, and two copies of Nova, had appeared that Ciaran realised their only chance of survival was to destroy the mirrors and prevent any duplicates from appearing – the fight was already going poorly for Cecil and Nu as they struggled to defend themselves against their own impressive skills.

A well-aimed disintegrate destroyed the first mirror, taking with it the duplicates it had spawned. A fireball took care of the second mirror, saving the party from grim defeat at their own hands. The next room contained many more mirrors – fortunately none of these spawned any duplicates – and a magnificent illusory peacock in the centre of the room. There were also six identical men who attacked the heroes on sight.

After dealing with the strangely identical men, the heroes found a dead man in the next room who himself was identical to the men they had just slain. The magic of Runeforge made it seem like he had died only moments ago, when it could actually have been years – there was no way to tell. His diary did not mention dates, but it seemed he had succumbed to some sort of dimensia before he could clone a new body for himself.

Further rooms contained neatly stacked bodies – elderly versions of the dead man in the previous room. To add to the unsettling feeling of the place, one of the once impressive libraries had been torn apart, apparently in anger. The final room was perhaps the most dangerous and disturbing of all, for it contained six copies of the succubus that the heroes had defeated in the halls of lust. Though individually weaker than the real thing, six succubi proved difficult for the heroes to defeat – especially once one of them successfully dominated Cecil and ordered him to attack Ciaran.

Still, the demons proved no match for the remaining heroes, and the final one was forced to flee. With the succubi vanquished, Ciaran made good use of the confined space and created a resilient sphere around Nu, effectively blocking the way and trapping Cecil while Nanali cast a spell to break the charm spell that the succubus had cast on Cecil.

RotRL: The Iron Cages of Lust

delvahineAfter resting in the mansion that Ciaran had conjured, the heroes moved on to a new wing of Runeforge – that of enchantment, associated with Runelord Sorshen and the sin of lust in Thassilonian times.

This wing consisted of a single gigantic room filled with cages containing long-dead victims of the denizens of the wing. There was one crazed man still alive, but he was too insane to provide anything useful for heroes. In the centre of the room was a huge pavilion made of silk sheets.

Before the heroes could enter the pavilion, however, they were intercepted by four succubus-like demons who attempted to stop the heroes from interacting with their prisoner or disturbing their mistress within the pavilion. When the heroes would not comply, the demons attacked, using their ranseurs when their charm magic failed to sway the heroes.

After the demons fled, the heroes gained access to the pavilion, easily defeating the stone giant guards. Deeper within the pavilion, they faced the succubus mistress and her remaining minions. Her charm magic managed to affect Nanali, who turned her powers on Cecil before Ciaran trapped her in a magical sphere. The succubus proved to be a challenging foe, but she was not able to flee before the heroes cornered and slew her, despite the efforts of her minions and her shining children guards.

With one of the succubus’ toys in hand, the heroes returned to the central Runeforge room to recover before exploring another wing.

The Vault of Greed

250px-NalfeshneeAfter dispatching the mithral mage and his apprentices, the heroes moved on to the next room, which was full of golden statues in various combat poses. There was also a nalfeshnee demon present, who promised them “great rewards” in exchange for his freedom.

When the demon realised the heroes weren’t likely to free him – the monk was not fooled by his empty promises – the demon quickly summoned two vrock allies and attacked. Their screeches dazed Cecil, Radha and Ciaran right away, giving the demons the advantage. Their other demonic abilities further put the odds in their favour, but they did not expect the heroes to be protected from evil, and the sheer amount of damage done by Radha’s sneak attacks eventually wore down even the tough nalfeshnee demon. He would never have admitted it, but it was almost a relief to be released from his thousands of years spent guarding this room.

With the demons vanquished, the heroes thought they had probably dealt with the worst that the vault of greed had to offer, but in the next room they found a strange pool of water, pulsing with raw magical energy. They only realised the danger of the pool when it drained a part of Cecil’s life force (-6 ability drain to Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma). After that, they kept their distance as they tried to figure out just what the water was for. Ciaran successfully used mage hand to fill a flask with the water, after destroying a wand of scorching ray.

When they took the flask of water to the central Runeforge pool, it glowed with magic energy, but some components seemed to be missing. Ciaran conjured a magnificent mansion where they could all rest before attempting another wing of the dangerous Runeforge.