Saturday, 9 June 2018

Jungle Trek session 5: treasure hunt in a ruined city

Last time on Jungle Trek, I left the party sky diving out of a flying giant fortress and into an even more giant ruined metropolis on the hell junglegarden continent of Xen'drik. They're still trying to get home after accidentally crashing a supremely expensive airship.

Our band of explorers:

  • Indiana Gnoll - male Gnoll ranger. Whip, gills, suckers. Deranged laugh. [player: Robert]
  • Woody the Warforged Wizard, currently a black-and-white ogre-bot. Albino body, shiny black scales, extra fingers and extra mouth. Dude loooooves him a mutating altar. [player: Bas]
  • Drake - male human healer [non-player character, hireling, idiot. But finally having doubts about his employers.]
  • Eorie - female human rogue [non-player character, hireling] dead - friendly fireball
  • Santash - male kalashtar psion who shoved his mind into his psicrystal [non-player character] dead - vaporised by anti-kalashtar/quori energy shield

Things that happened this session

  • Teleported into the area on board a hijacked Giant fortress/lab/tomb. Ejected when original occupant showed signs of being depetrified and revived. Landed safely in ruined giant city. The air is hot and humid, smells of decay and mad faith. There is a harbor, some large buildings are still standing. A collonaded hall floats above the city. Buildings have been shattered by the vast fallen sky bridges that used to lead up to the floating hall.
  • Woody recognizes the place from a magazine article. These are the ruins of the temple city Pra'xi'rek , where the Giants tamed divine magic.
  • Indy spots that the cities big avenues and landmarks spell out the symbol of the much younger Sovereign Host pantheon on the group's home continent of Khorvaire. What's odd is that even the Silver Flame (a faith maybe 700 years old on Khorvaire) is represented in this >40.000 year old city on Xen'drik.
  • A rescue from Giant hunters by Drow scouts turns into an ambush with sleeping poison. Woody fries a couple of Drow with a fireball, but kills Eorie and drops Drake to critical health with it. Drake gets better, buries Eorie later in the session. Eorie gets a "sorry kiddo" before the wizard moves on. And there drops the Morale meter...
  • Trying to stick characters with a slave collar (in the form of implanted burrowing beetles that can be controlled with the right poison) is easy. Preventing them from cutting the damn things out on the spot is a lot harder. In the end the party promises to help the Drow anyway. Players are sensitive about getting forced into things.
  • The party spends a lot of time talking with the Drow, scouting the city and gathering intel. They're hard at work charting power structures and agendas. 
  • At session's end, the group discover that their anti-scrying box with a prophetic feather inside has been stolen. They've used it once in session 1, then stowed it in a backpack and forgot about it. Of course, take it away, and they’ll want it back. More on that next session. 

Shrines and other encounters in Pra'xi'rek

  • Pack of tiny, alert dinosaurs guiding Hill Giant hunters.
  • Shrine of a carved stone face floating in basin filled with black liquid. The face's mouth is wide open and shows only darkness, the face's expression is of disgust. All around the shrine are the remains of refuse.
  • The huge Beacon of the Sun; still alight on top of its wireframe tower, but no clear way inside.
  • An oval megalith henge 70x100 m across with a unicorn inside. The creature appears trapped and has eroded a path into the ground in its endless circuits. An offering block at one of the oval's nodes smells of blood. (Indy pauses to wonder what unicorn tastes like, but keeps walking.)
  • A Cloud Giant drawing the city from the highest edge of the former sky bridges. He's using levitation magic not to stress the stone - Woody walking up makes the bridge creak until he too fires up a flight spell.
  • Tales of Crab Men in the harbor, where the docks float magically on the water surface.
  • A workshop and library in one, where custom holy symbols and deity statues can be altered to best draw power from obscure divinities. Being looted by three horrific skinless monsters who wear Drow skin suits and speak the underdark trade tongue. The Skin Stitchers end up dead after a long but not too eventful fight.

The Drow

The Ka'ki'kur tribe live in the old service tunnels below Pra'xi'rek. They consider the entire city their property since the Giant civilisation fell 40.000 years ago.

Matron Ghyrra leads the Ka'ki'kur Drow of Pra'xi'rek. Yes, there was an apostrophe discount.
  • She is occupied with the increased aggression of the Giants and with the religious crisis of cleric Vorruul.
  • Ghyrra's son Yruzel was one of the first Drow to fall to the new dinosaur packs the Songraa giants use. Ghyrra blames her sister Sorrla for her son's death, because she is head of the scouts and hunters where Yruzel was training.
  • Ghyrra wants to get the Giants off the Drow's case. The idea is have them feud amongst themselves. Could the visitors please steal the ceremonial sword of the Dorraan clan and murderify one of the kids of the dino taming Songraa?

Vorruul is Master of Scorpions, high cleric of Vulkoor the Scorpion.
  • He claims that the Giants hunting the Ka'ki'kur is a sign of Vulkoor's displeasure. There will be no divine aid to the Ka'ki'kur except to protect the integrity of the tribe.
  • The Ka'ki'kur can regain Vulkoor's favor by finding the Stinger of Vulkoor artifact. If the players find it, they will be rewarded handsomely.
  • Below ground, there are temples to the darker forces of the divine realm - a sketch in the sand convinces Indy that the temples spell out the sign of the Dark Six, the shadow pantheon of the Sovereign Host that makes up the surface city layout.
Sorrla is Mistress of Ambush, the leader of the Ka'ki'kur scouts and hunters.
  • Her scouting form is that of a scorpion - what else would a Drow druid use?
  • She lives in half-exile after Sorrla's son Yruzel died on her watch.
  • Sorrla is very surprised to hear that the reason the Giants are so restless is the hunt for an artifact. The fact that the Giants and the Drow started a treasure hunt at the same time cannot be coincidence.
  • She mistrusts Vorruul, but has had severe issues tracking the cleric on unexpected trips into the city. Can the players track him and provide information?
  • Sorrla's scouts can help create a diversion to help them infiltrate the Songraa compound.
  • It is good to know that Ghyrra is a skilled diviner as well as stealthy warrior.
  • The four named Drow are close to each other in skill and age.
Larruuz is Master of Visions, head of the Ka'ki'kur mages and diviners.
  • He and his cabal are running themselves ragged scrying for incoming Giants and dinosaurs, and trying to find the Stinger of Vulkoor.
  • Larruuz is eager to trade spells with Woody.
  • He is convinced that Skyfather is a minor sorceror only, with some power in the blood but no real skill. The Giant now wielding advanced magic thanks to a familiar is very puzzling and disturbing. Can the players find out more about this familiar and how to bind it?

The Giants

The overall ruler of the city's Hill Giant tribes is Skyfather, patriarch of the Cloud Giants in the flying hall above the ruins.

Skyfather and the Cloud Giants
  • Skyfather is an immense creature, with the same blueish skin as the wizardess in the floating fortress. 
  • He can use magic, but uses a hidden wand to throw lightning - his personal power is probably limited, although the Drow claim it has increased recently.
  • Woody flies up to the halls and learns that Skyfather is very interested in the magic fortress that the party teleported in on. Woody says he has the magical amulet that will drop the fort's defensive barrier, but will need to retrieve that from the city below before he can trade for it.
  • Whisper the giant air-swimming snake is Skyfather's new familiar since a few months. The creature can talk and has a hypnotic gaze. It allegedly boosts Skyfather's magic.
  • Skyfather is looking for an artifact called the Fang of the Sky Serpent and has the surface giants hunting for it. This Fang will help the Giants drive off or kill the Drow.
The Dorraan - disciples of strength and protection
  • The Dorraan are the smallest giant tribe. They are noble savages that center around the temple of Dorraan, a spitting image of a god the party knows as Dol Dorn of Strength and Protection. 
  • The titanic statue of Dorrraan looks like it should hold a sword, but apparently this ceremonial sword is kept inside the temple.
  • The Dorraan don't appear to be hunting for magical relics themselves. They trade goods and food to the Urggruk to get the minimum tribute to appease Skyfather.
The Urggruk - barbarian scavengers
  • The Urgruk are the largest Giant tribe. They are barbarians that dig into the city ruins at random in search for magical tribute to Skyfather.
The Songraa - dinosaur tamers
  • The Songraa are the second largest Giant tribe and live near the old temples of Agriculture and Hunting.
  • They have learned to tame small and large dinos a few months ago and are using the beasts to hunt the upper city and lower catacombs where the Drow live for magical relics. 
  • The camp is well guarded by packs of tiny dinosaurs with sharp eyes and noses.
  • An enormous beast is being tamed inside a newly erected palisade.

The others

In the library/workshop for custom deities, three Skin Stitchers are surprised by Woody and Indy. They can smell Indy's skin (Woody, as a sentient golem, has none), but find the ranger hard to spot. A fight (not too interesting - just a hit point slog) erupts when it turns out the pair don't work for the Deep Master.
  • Great, yet another faction. But this is the last one.

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