Saturday 21 July 2018

Jungle Trek session 7: blood for the blood god

Last time on Jungle Trek, the party exposed a conspiracy in the giant ruined metropolis of Pra'xi'rek. They were originally helping the Drow start a feud between different giant clans. Then they discovered that both Drow and Giants were being manipulated by snake-themed aberrations to fight each other and find a posionous artifact. Also, unicorn flesh tastes good.

This session lasted 3-4 hours and had a nice rhythm to it with a heist, some random murder to satisfy a new toy, and a rough spot with frustrations when clues weren't enough to solve a riddle. Said frustrations were aired nicely when a two-sided double cross went south for the snake-abominations. Riddle was solved in the end with some help from an artifact, but this still has me looking lovingly at Gumshoe.

Our band of explorers:

  • Indiana Gnoll - male Gnoll ranger with a whip, comes with gills and wall clinging suckers after experimenting with a mutating altar. Deranged laugh. Hankering for strange meat, tasted Unicorn and linked with its Nightmare mate. [player: Robert]
  • Woody the Warforged Wizard, a black-and-white ogre-sized bot. Albino body, shiny black scales, extra fingers and extra mouth, sticks to walls. Dude loooooves him a mutating altar. [player: Bas]
    dead - beaten to a pulp and then flamed to a cinder in spite of his regeneration and fire protection.
    mobile again after a deal with -- well, that would be telling, but suffice to say that he's rooting for the blood god now. This also involved his familiar turning demonic, which let me pull out a voice&character I have been saving for years.
  • Drake - male human healer [non-player character, hireling, idiot] dead - lured to Eorie's grave by Woody, then sacrificed to the rusty dagger. The first of many to fall this session. Truly, this team is playing the cultists.
  • 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

DM notes: my need for speed

I've been reading a lot of Night's Black Agents lately and it got me thinking of keeping up the pace during the session. Less poring over rulebooks, more interaction with the setting. Not enough info? Get out there and find clues. Looking back on this session, I think I need to improve exactly that aspect - my clue-giving. Players were legitimately looking for info that I was being too stingy with. I'll note that in between the session recap.

No forwarding address

Last session, the group proved that the high priest of Vulkoor the Scorpion was, in fact, a Rakshasa demon in league with nasty snake abominations from the deep earth. Matron Ghyrra steps in quickly and detains the entire sect for questioning. An enemy knows their location, so Ghyrra also starts prep for immediate relocation of the Drow camp. Meanwhile the characters have mostly free reign to go through high priest Vorruul's belongings and try to track him down. The Drow camp may not be here when they return (and no forwarding address will be given to the increasingly fucked up visitors), but there are spots that the scouts will monitor where the party can contact the Drow.

Somewhere in all that is the scorched corpse of Woody the Warforged Wizard. His flying squirrel familiar Ukkie ('tiny') is sitting on his chest, chittering at master's demise. Until the golem's eye gems flare and he returns to consciousness. First thing he sees? His familiar, gazing into his eyes - and slowly licking its lips. "Welcome back mortal."

I loved acting that out.

Sugar glider of Doom (source)

The bot is back and has a powerful need for vengeance - and sacrificing sentients to the dark master that returned him to life. Woody will be racking up quite the body count this session with his new sacrificial dagger. We're drifting to that oneshot / end-of-campaign feel where consequences start to mean less and less. Guess I'll have to have some paladins paratrooper in to fight the demon excursion. In the meanwhile, the party raids the temple and finds the box with holy symbols of the Silver Flame (demon-binding spiritual force) that's keeping their prophetic feather safe. This time, they'll start to put it to gooduse.

His head, on a stake

What will the party be doing this session? We run a list of possibles.

  • Matron Ghyrra continues to back the fetch quest for the Stinger of Vulkoor artifact. Not because she still thinks that the Scorpion has foresaken his people, but because she wants to keep it out of the hands of whatever cult "Vorruul" was serving.
  • In point of fact, if the party comes across Vorruul, dead or alive, Ghyrra would appreciate it if they brought it to her. Some digging turns up info that Vorruul is probably a Rakshasa demon, with animal features, shapechanging powers and quite the tough skin. Sanctified piercing weapons will do the trick, but the Drow confess they're not experts in that kind of magic and also don't have blessed crossbow bolts in storage.
  • Ghyrra could care less about the original request to start a blood feud between the city's giant clans.

This scene was a back and forth of rules-vs-story, with the players bringing up spells that could layer the "holy" power on a weapon, and me putting my foot down and telling them to think more myhical, less rules-as-written. I'm truly getting fed up with the tome-of-rules approach to roleplaying where you can only do what's written down and if it's written down as an option, you have a right to do it.

Options we found for getting weapons blessed:

  • steal the Sword of Dorraan in the temple/compound of the Dorraan giants (modern day Dol Dorn being a sun/strength/holy/paladiney kind of god).
  • climb the Tower of the Sun beacon and look for ways to transfer its power onto a weapon (but Woody already investigated two sessions ago and found it a pretty bare-bones deal with little clues on how to tap its power - the Giants mounted it to complete their city's mystic grid but didn't want much to do with blessing, cleansing divinities);
  • find the local shrine to the Silver Flame and get a spear blessed there (the Drow tell them the easiest way is via an underground stream);
  • find an artificer wizard or a priest of a deity with the domain of crafting magic weapons (none such amongst the Drow, but who knows what expertise can be found in the city?)

Downtime: whip it good

We agree to a day of downtime, in which baddies recuperate and players get to heal up, refresh spells and gather information.
  • Woody takes some nasty burns from the holy symboled holding box to find his prophetic feather scribbling furiously inside: "the fang is near the scale is near we are near the fang is near the scale is near..." When asked, the feather quickly informs him that "the Scale and Fang are at the Forge and the Feast". Indy deduces that this points to the temples of Onatar the Forgemaster and Olladra of Feast and Fortune. He overlays a map of the city with the traditional layout of the Sovereign Host symbol (an eight-pointed shape with every point corresponding to one deity). Conclusion: the Forge can be found in a jungle covered no man's land, the Feast should lie somewhere in the yet unexplored part of the city run by the barbarian Urggruk giants.
  • Indy decides to visit the now empty shrine to Vulkoor and mortify his flesh with his own whip to get closer to the gods of the Dark Six that he fancies. In particular, the Traveler is known to bestow strange insights and gifts on his worthies. Two hours of flagellation later, Indy wakes up from his trance with zero divine inspiration - and whip marks that form the symbol of the Silver Flame all over his body. He thanks the Traveller and proceeds to the party's room to find Woody all alone.
  • ...because Woody has pleasantly surprised his henchman Drake the healer by asking him on a trip to former henchman Eorie's grave. Drake thinks that they will be paying proper respect to their former comrade. Woody is testing out his new sacrificial dagger and sucks Drake's soul into the demon blade.

And now I get to break out a voice and character that I've had prepped and ready to go for seven years. Originally an imp bound in a summoning circle decades ago and bored out of his mind; will gladly serve and will positively purr when the new master does something to tarnish his soul. Voice notes: breathy, stretched vowels, wet smacking of lips.

With an oily voice and shivering with pleasure, Woody's familiar croons "yess master, do it again!" He'll keep egging "master" on during the session and will commit little acts of horror like breaking hatchlings' wings. 

Woody is fine with this shit. Woody has no clue how his new familiar works .

Giants, then Silver Flame, then fuck up snakeface

It's plan of action time. The party first want to score themselves a blessed weapon and they decide to go for their original quarry, the Sword of Dorraan. Where the damn thing is hidden in the temple compound is still a riddle, but they're sure they'll work it out. If plan A doesn't work, they'll head for the Silver Flame shrine to try and bless a weapon there.

Paralyse and EAT YOU
(found here)
En route, the pair find a couple of Carrion Crawlers noshing on paralysed giants in a broken temple to Eberron's many moons. After taking care of the huge corpse making/feeding caterpillars, Woody slits the neck of the surviving giant to get him out of his misery. And stocks up some more hit dice for the demon dagger.

Wrestle me up a sword

Scouting the Dorraan temple from the bushes shows that the giants have a noble wrestler vibe going on. Some ten of the brutes are oiling themselves up for bouts in the wrestling circle. Above it all is the empty-handed statue of Dorraan, on a 20m high building in the central courtyard. Every bout won or lost, in fact any reason at all has the giants shouting THE SWORD IS IN THE HEART at the top of their lungs. Making it worse is that the head of the tribe is carrying a humongous horn (but no sword) to sound the alarm. Ten giants plus however many more from the surrounding area is too much for the pair to take on. 

The players debate a bit how to tackle this - use a grease or silence spell and try to take out ten giants? Sounds a bit ambitious, however much help they can get from Woody's magic dagger.

The team lay in wait across the path to market to find a solo giant to talk to. One trader going to market tells them that the Sword of Dorraan is in the Dorraan's Vault under the statue. Freakishly, she gets to live.

Not so the trader coming back from market who ends up falling into a magical pit. After a couple of arrows in the face (finally Indy is doing some damage) he starts to talk: the sword is in the central vault, only the tribal leader can go in, and of course you can challenge the elder to a wrestling match, but...dude is BIG. Unsurprisingly, this guy doesn't get to live, as Woody sucks yet another soul into his dagger.

The thing is humming with power now and could turn one of the guys into a giant for a while. They doubt even that will make a wrestling match a fair fight, so they look for a sneaky way in. Indy gets turned invisible, sneaks into the central vault ("locked" only with a bolt) and finds only a smaller version of the same swordless statue, about a halfling high on top of a big stone base.

Bad clues - bad scene

It's here that I really should've given more specific clues.

The same magic phrase "the sword is in the heart" is running along the walls, but Indy cannot read Giant. Even so, he knows the phrase from Woody's translation but it doesn't occur to say the words out loud. 

It becomes quite frustrating for both of us: the player ends up flipping through the rule book looking for a magic answer while I'd like him to investigate the site more and get better clues. (Yes, I did try to explain about less-rulebooking and more clue gathering in the session and will do so again next session. For my part, will need to give more comprehensive clues a la Night's Black Agents in the future.)

Indy ends up leaving the shrine empty handed and asks Woody to investigate. Woody mucks about in the shrine, doesn't get any further and asks his magic prophetic feather for a clue on how to get the sword. Despite being told "take hold and speak the words" it takes a bit for him to decide to grab hold of the statue and state that "the sword is in the heart" - upon which, he can lift the statue-hafted sword out of its stone sheath. And gets a negative level for his trouble, because holy swords don't like evil cultists. With the last bit of his invisibility spell, he flies back to his waiting Gnoll buddy and they hurry back into the jungle.

Counter ambush with more snake dudes

Where to now? Indy is tempted to follow the Traveller's advice and head for the Silver Flame temple, but on the other hand the team now already have a blessed weapon to take on their Rakshasa - need to find him first though. They remember meeting a four-armed mansnakething in an underground hall that seemed linked to the snake cult. And so they head back to see if they can shake info from the snake.

I gloss over the trip, describing landmarks they take to find their way, and only after skipping the trip I realise after that this would've been a good place for Indy the ranger to shine as he remembers the way. Noted for next time.

The two-way ambush in the depths goes quickly against the snakebominations - a dude with fine scales all over his body, snakefaced and four-armed and brimming with force field wizardry, a thing wearing the skin of a Drow warrior over its own skinless form, and a freak with two long poisonous snakes grafted to his shoulders. This last guy guards Indy's way in and has sensed him long ago, but is faking out the ranger and his much shorter range darkvision.

Cruddy stats being what they are, snake-shoulders doesn't stand much of a chance (but does have Indy blowing his entire spell budget of a Delay Poison after he gets injected with a paralytic Dexterity-poison). Woody, finding another way in for his much bigger body, surprises drow-suit with a web spell and then finds out this still allows for too much wriggle room to slash the thing's throat with his dagger. Four-arms encases Woody in a force field and hurries off with drow-suit to help snake-shoulders, but that guy is already toast thanks to the Sword of Dorraan. Woody uses a dimension door spell to teleport out of the force field and murder-fireballs the two remaining guys.

Both mooks dead, some first aid revives the four-armed caster (wisely bound and gagged) enough for a round of bracing interrogation. Not every lie given during the interrogation was spotted, so only highlight the text below if you want spoilers:
  • the wizard-thing is part of a snake-abomination cult and serves the deep master under the earth [TRUE]
  • the cult's stronghold can be found near the dinosaur pens of the Songraa [FALSE, they hold the God Forge of Onatar]
  • the cult is looking for the Fang of the Sky Serpent, an artifact known to the Drow as the Sting of Vulkoor [TRUE, but not complete: the cult is also looking for the Feather relic and already holds the Scale.]
  • two infiltrators were manipulating the locals: Whisper (familiar to the cloud giant Skyfather) and Six Glyph (posing as high priest Vorruul) [TRUE]
  • the fact that Six Glyph has been exposed and driven off was not yet known to the cult [TRUE]
  • Six Glyph has not made his way to the cult stronghold. His whereabouts are unknown [TRUE]
  • the Sky Serpent Cult is trying to reincarnate their dismembered patron, a custom made demigod crafted by the Giants but murdered as the Drow rebelled and the Dragons obliterated the ancient Giant Civilization, Christ that's a lot of Capitalisation [unasked]
  • the Sky Serpent and the Scorpion Vulkoor were crafted as a pair; the serpent as an assassin-seer, the scorpion as an infiltrator and spy. Vulkoor butchered its sibling and claimed her poison fangs as his stinger [unasked, can be found in the archives of the Giant city or by asking High Priest Vorruul - the actual one, who is a prisoner in the God Forge]

Next session: hunt down Vorruul/Six Glyph, find the Stinger of Vulkoor, and then look for a nice place to retire from all this madness.

Friday 13 July 2018

Magic item: knife of betrayal

Found here and cropped
Found by our party wizard during last session. Statted out for Pathfinder, but easy enough to translate to your own heartbreaker system. After writing this up, I realized the knife behaves like a variant on Dungeons & Druggies - check that out to hook your characters on sweet combat drugs.

Also: Jesus H. Christ this is longwinded. "Steals souls, each hit die stolen is a spell casting die you can use once" would work for a GLOG-ish item.

knife of betrayal - cold iron dagger +2

Rusty knife, doesn't clean up and smells faintly of blood. Sizes with its user down to medium size (the demon that powers it was aiming for the ancient giant civilization and their elf slaves. Doesn't size for smaller grubs but will work for them nonetheless.)

The knife is a gift from Jorr the Drinker, demon of murder. It's a loss leader for him to produce, and he first tests prospects by giving them a (true) vision of an upcoming betrayal. If the mark would kill to prevent it, they wake up from the vision with the knife under their left hand. Or appendage. Jorr tries to be inclusive.
  • bleed damage 2/round (doesn't stack with itself) if used on a flat-footed or flanked target
  • enhancement bonus & bleed becomes +4 if used on target that considers you an ally (obviously, for one attack only)
  • user can cast death knell 3/day as part of an attack (target must be at negative hit points, or running trauma or other injury from a death & dismemberment table
  • +4 to difficulty to resist a coup de grace with this weapon

soul theft
  • steals the soul of all sentients it kills via death knell or coup de grace. Track hit dice sacrificed this way
  • sacrificing a summoned sentient creature this way only nets you hit dice equal to the level of the summoning spell; in case of multiple creatures summoned, gotta catch 'em all
  • track only hit dice of sentient living creatures; ignore animals, undead, constructs, oozes, plants and other soulless critters

spell gift
  • as a standard action, you can have the dagger cast a spell for you from any spell list or level. Casting a spell this way costs [2x spell level] of hit dice sacrificed - deduct from the total. You can request a spell that would cost more than the amount of hit dice stored, but there will be consequences. Hit die debt = spell cost - hit dice stored
  • in addition, asking for spells of higher level than you can cast yourself, or from outside your spell list, forces a Will save, DC 15 +[2x spell level]. The spell still works, but there will be consequences. Hit die debt is equal to spell level
(highlight to read; players beware spoilers)
All options only work for negative levels gained because of the knife of betrayal. No luck getting rid of vampire suckage this way.
  • gain a temporary negative level for every hit die of debt to the dagger. For every negative level, save Fortitude against difficulty 15 + 2x spell level at the next midnight or turn this temporary negative level into a permanent one
  • can sacrifice 2 hit dice to turn a permanent negative level into a temporary one; and 2 hit dice to lose a temporary negative level.
  • murdering summoned creatures sours their attitude. Make a spellcraft check (difficulty 15 +2x spell level) when summoning them again or have them turn hostile and indismissible. Creatures summoned by a spell cast from the dagger do not turn on you
  • when you have as many negative levels as you have levels/hit dice, you die and your soul goes straight to hell - no resurrections. When you die of other causes after having used the dagger to sacrifice at least one person, likewise go straight to hell.

Sunday 8 July 2018

Jungle Trek session 6: murder conga

Last time on Jungle Trek, the party was trying to figure out who was setting the Drow and Giants on edge in the giant ruined metropolis of Pra'xi'rek. I had thought they would continue on that path, helping the Drow start a feud between different giant clans via a series of heists and looking for clues to a lost artifact in the mean time.

When did a session ever pan out right like you thought? (And when was that ever better than glorious scrambling improv?)

(Edit: As much as I liked the session, writing up this report was a chore. And it shows in the writing. This happened, then this, then this. I could edit it down and make it fun, but eh -  let's write something else instead.)

In this case, random stocking tables and planned-out relationships between the main factions let me have the party run wild a bit while still seeding hints back to the "main issue" in the scenario. One more party member bit the dust - this time, one of the two player characters. It doesn't look like death will stick though. "Can I make a pact" bargaining is running a fever via private messages.

It was a long session - write-up below, settle in with a drink before you start. The group did uncover a couple of good leads, uncovered a conspiracy in the Drow temple and maybe they'll actually follow up on that next session. Or maybe they'll start a scheme where they try to sell fakes of the scenario's macguffin to every interested party they can find. Gods only know. In any case, turns out that damage resistance is this group's achilles heel. Had a blast in two combats with an Udoroot and a Marai Rakshasa.

We'll wrap up this short campaign in a couple of end game sessions, after which I hope to be a player for a quick summer break. After summer I'm thinking of starting a Call of Cthulhu, Night's Black Agents or Vampire campaign, possibly even adding new players to the group.

Our band of explorers:

  • Indiana Gnoll - male Gnoll ranger with a whip, comes with gills and wall clinging suckers after experimenting with a . Deranged laugh. Hankering for strange meat, tasted Unicorn and linked with its Nightmare mate. [player: Robert]
  • Woody the Warforged Wizard, currently a black-and-white ogre-bot. Albino body, shiny black scales, extra fingers and extra mouth, sticks to walls. Dude loooooves him a mutating altar. [player: Bas] dead - beaten to a pulp and then flamed to a cinder in spite of his regeneration and fire protection. update: currently stirring again after totally innocent private messages about a deal with -- well, that would be telling.
  • 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

  • asked one of the players to start with a recap. Good way to get everyone up to speed again and make them think of where to go next.
  • got surprised when "next" turned out NOT to be the quest given by the Drow Matron to start a feud between two Giant clans, but go back to the enormous henge with the Unicorn trapped inside. Indiana Gnoll, you see, had a hankering
  • On the way to the Unicorn henge, Woody spots a demonic throne and immediately sits down on it, gets a vision of being killed by Drake with some weird anti-warforged device, asks what can be done to prevent this and gets a second vision of killing Drake with an iron dagger. Wakes up and finds iron dagger beneath his left hand, pockets it of course.
  • A heavy scene followed where Indy browbeat the unicorn into letting him kill her one last time, and then set her free from the henge and its sacrificial altar. Sure enough, that worked; and after the slaughter (and Woody claiming the unicorn's horn, to give it back later), Indy glutted on sparkly angel horse. And heard mad neighing that sounded decidedly not like a unicorn. Party wrecked the altar as promised.
  • had fun stalking Indy with the dead Unicorn's mate, a hefty nightmare who had been broken free of the henge long ago. (And, for a bit of background info, had been used to protect sleeping Giants from invading nightmare spirits from the Plane of Dreams.) When I turned the stalking into the first of a couple of hit and run attacks, Indy's player surprised me again by trying to intimidate and bond with the beast, not kill it. Allowed it to chew down on his arm, fed it his blood, named it Six after his religion [Dark Six - violence and untamed things], pointed out that its mate was already resurrecting, and now free of the sacrificial altar - and came away with an understanding and wary respect. We'll see how that works out in the future.
  • allmost kill, the first: turns out the Nightmare had Indy on his last couple of hit points before it calmed down.
  • extra bonus points to Indy's player for dominating not only the Nightmare but also this DM by blasting some random metal song at me at full volume until I caved and switched from combat to, ehrm, social interaction with added bite damage.
  • laughed my ass off when Indy, now full of Unicorn meat and tainted with Nightmare blood, was magically blocked from leaving the henge. In the end, Woody teleported them out, although just carrying the Gnoll across the threshold would've worked just as well.

Opening hour and a half: heavy roleplaying, lots of fun, but no closer to the big plot in the background. Random encounter to the rescue! After all the noise, the party spotted a Drow courier moving through the jungle city to the entrance of an underground tunnel. Decided to follow.

  • underground tracking scene was uneventful - the party ranger could hang back far enough that the Drow didn't spot them while still tracing his scent. Even a hard climb down was not a problem, what with the entire party now being able to stick to walls after sharing mutations in the flying Giant citadel.
  • after some trouble getting their plus sized wizard golem through a tight squeeze, the group finds their Drow courier in an abandoned, vine covered meeting hall. It's talking to a figure in a hooded mantle, delivering a package (that Woody promptly steals via Unseen Servant spell) and giving orders. Why is a Drow priest taking orders from some weird flowe thing instead of being at temple?
  • when the party makes itself known to catch the two conspirators, it turns out the figure in the circle is a projection made by the circle of big flowers in the middle of the room - sort of like sunflowers if sunflowers were red/purple, animated all the vines in the room, tracked your movement, and hit you with everything from psychic strikes to lightning bolts and telekinesis to smack your Gnoll into the floor. Also: damage resistance, which means that Indy's already pitiful damage with his whip has almost zero chance of hurting them. It's a long, painful fight with Indy taking flight and smacking into walls when the telekinetic flower fixes on to him.

  • allmost kill, the second: Indy and Woody are both barely standing after the fight, and that only because Woody now regenerates (thanks again, mutation altar), and Indy has fast healing for a couple of hours because he ate Unicorn flesh.

Yes, I know, these guys are running the cultists, not fighting them. In a good Warhammer 40k story, I could've strung them up for being vile Chaos worshipers, but we're playing in Eberron and things are more relaxed here vis-a-vis unnatural urges. Anyway, we're due a short break and the party hunkers down in a side room.

  • the package delivered to the telepathic plants (basically a dead drop that can take a message) bears a magical bracelet with symbols of the four winds, and a message saying that Six Glyph has found a powerful twin to the Fang of the Sky Serpent in the packs of travelers to the city (yes, the party lost their prophetic feather artifact after being ambushed by the Drow) and will be bringing it down to Deep Master in person. Seems like there's a mole in the Drow camp.
  • it's nap time to recover spells and hit points, and the pair move to a side chamber. In the middle of their sleep cycle (ha! no spells refreshed) they spy on yet another messed up creature from the deep caverns - this time, a four-armed spindly humanoid with grey-purple skin and no eyes, that wants to bargain with the party and leaves after agreeing to bring its Deep Master to this site in a day to meet with the explorers.
  • back on the surface, the party random encounters a couple of drow working for Sorrla, Mistress of Ambush. The scouts are holding two crab men at bay, who are working to break a canal's side wall and flood the underground tunnel system where the drow hide out. Some intimidation and rubble clearing sees the crab men off and then it's time to negotiate with the drow. Again.
The party now have some indirect evidence that there's a mole in the Drow camp. They suspect Vorruul, high priest of Vulkoor the scorpion, who is withholding divine magic from the Drow until they find and bring the Stinger of Vulkoor artifact. Before the group confronts the cleric, they want backup and they make a deal to meet up with Sorrla near the temple of the Sun in a couple of hours.

But first, finish that nap and let the wizard regain spells.

  • back at the drow camp, Woody takes his nap and refreshes spells for the day, the pair catch up with Drake who is seriously ticked off that his two employers don't care about henchthief Eorie's death last session.
  • Impromptu decision: talk with Matron Gythra about the suspicions against her high priest. Gythra is not all that happy that the players are investigating conspiracies instead of starting a blood feud between giant clans, but she gets interested when she hears that Vorruul may be plotting against her - fine, the players can talk to the high priest.
Remember the players' plan to get backup from the drow scouting faction to take on the priests? Yeah, neither did they.

  • asked the players to draw the underground area set for the temple of Vulkoor. Added little side rooms and back passages and threw them into a talk with Vorruul. Who initially isn't that phased about the zero proof accusations, offers with a smirk to help the visitors find their magic feather they so carelessly misplaced, but starts to get a bit worried when there is talk about messages exchanged between 'Six Glyph' and 'Deep Master'.
  • Vorruul sends his acolytes out and seals the entrence with a silence spell for privacy, banters a bit more and concludes that the players cannot tie him directly to any conspiracy. Woody isn't taking that and drops a fireball in the middle of the room.
Fine, it's been a long, long session and a good fight to finish up sounds like just what the DM ordered. I ask for a spell resistance roll - the priest is resistant to magic of course. And I'm quite surprised (as is Vorruul) when the fireball actually breaks through.

  • The fight was quite long - damage resistance again, pitifully weak damage, invisibility and indirect damage spells made it very hard to pin down the cleric. A web spell is keeping the acolytes out of the room, Stinking Cloud spell takes Drake out of the fight puking in side corridor. Woody and Indy hit back with Black Tentacles spells to grapple anything in the area and try to dodge flaming spheres until the priest's invisibility spell runs out. When he finally shows himself (and since when do clerics cast invisibility?), his arms split into many-colored serpents, his face turns half-snakey and he cuts loose with energy beams for extra, extra damage and status effects. Marai Rakshasa suck (especially once I tweaked the thing's spells) but the party sucks harder up against this guy.
  • Both characters are now down and slowly regenerating; but Vorruul / Six Glyph is at the end of his spell list and the acolytes are bursting into the room - he needs to grab the stolen magic feather from a cupboard and get out, but that means crossing the damned grabby Black Tentacles and in the end, there just isn't time. The Rakshasa turns into fog and drifts into a hole in the wall, but not before being seen in his true form by the drow priests.
  • And a flaming sphere takes out Woody's regeneration right before it can save him from death. Exit character.
To summarize: players find hints to the shadow figure that is manipulating the drow and giants to get its hands (we're hoping for hands) on some poison stabby artifact. Players oust this figure's mole in the Drow camp but have now lost one player character and one henchman out of a 4 people party.

Next session - who knows?