Last session in Belswick, the party returned from the dead and raided the tower of asshole wizard Vedric von Vermis after killing him in a bath house. The cost to breathe again? Mike the druid agreed to loan his body to Buddy the devil for five weeks. This session, the party first bickers about what to do - save Mike or do a delivery quest for the group's sharkling barbarian? In the end they decide to deal with their possessed buddy first, then deal with the fish's issues afterward.
LOOT150 gp worth of grave goods
a scrying basin
spoilers [ highlight to reveal ]
- Tilbørd, human Priest of The Authority who likes to make deals. Loads of them. And he likes to learn. Everything.
- Lomin Mor, an elf rogue who is as shady as they come. Masquerades as lady Olga of nearby Cullfield to run her estate, and always “finds” things to keep. Also keeps a masterful diary which will no doubt spin off into a lucrative book deal at some point.
- Mike, a human druid/fighter with the grand wish of starting a big animal sanctuary. Currently time-sharing his body with a devil, so Mike's player rolled up...
- Sydney, a green dragonling sorceror who traveled the world and is now looking for... Mike/Sydney's player absolutely worships chaos, and jumped at the chance to roll his stats with the DMs new d18. Intelligence 1? No problem!
- Aju, a hammerhead shark-fishling of the barbarian persuasion, looking for a magic amulet so an underseas wizard can complete turning him from a shark into a human. Not really sure what consequences will be should his allotted time of 1 year to retrieve the amulet run out.
- Guy, human diviner with a crippling 10,000 gp college debt to the Lodge of Augurs and Diviners. Does all kind of jobs for the local lord and his mentor Fergus in order to lessen said debt (absentee player)
The party, having returned from Vedric’s wizard tower carrying loads of goods, takes some time off to make sure a certain marriage happens. They assure the Lady Liselle that she will not be hunted anymore by presenting her with the wizard Vedric’s head on a silver platter, and then get to unloading said goods, making sure they get as much cash out of this raid as possible.
Gold is XP, after all, and one always needs more XP.
Furthermore, the deal Mike made with a certain demon named Buddy seems to have taken effect, which means Mike is no longer in the driver’s seat as to controlling his own body. He goes missing. The rest of the party decide to follow their friend hoping they can at least keep him out of some lord’s dungeon.
Mike and the party know that Buddy is here to "do something to a priest". [ Classic devil double-speak. Buddy is going after the tomb of the Du'van priest Umtak Ktharl, who is freeing himself from his bindings after a recent earthquake. Devils are basically black-ops angels in my setting, and Buddy wants to make sure the Burglar of Heaven's Library doesn't get free. But Umtak isn't the only priest that Buddy is gunning for: he hopes to tempt party priest Tilbord into trying to free Umtak Ktharl. ] The secrets he could learn... [ Tempted to highlight this spoiler yet, R? ;) ]
Which leads them right into a dungeon...
RETURN OF THE LIVING……DEAD!?The party was busy doing all sorts of stuff upon their return. One of these things was convincing everyone they were indeed alive.
Tilbørd found himself replaced by one of the mercs he brought back from the Witmarrow swamp. Father Eustace is training him military style. There must be something more in the past of that priest than reading books! Tilly is dumbfounded. But explains he really isn’t dead, yes that burial was a bit premature and of course, he’d like to continue his apprenticeship.
Aju has found that Tilly has the amulet he has so desperately been hunting for. He seeks to bargain with Tilly for its possession.
Mike is acting stranger and stranger. And is seen less and less. He finds he is lapsing, sometimes missing an hour, sometimes a day. It seems Buddy, the demon he struck a deal with, is emerging more and more frequently.
Mike made a deal to loan his body to Buddy the devil for five weeks, but didn't specify that they had to be consecutive. The devil is stealing hours here and there. I describe Mike as feeling haggard, as if he's holding down a second job at night. There's unexplained footprints in his house, burned letters in the hearth and a sense of slipping and going under. Time to introduce his back-up character.
Lomin Mor has visited Cullfield and sold off most of Vedric’s possessions. The deal with Vennax’s son takes the cake!
From The Diary of Lomin Mor
It has taken forever to find a decent buyer for some of the stuff we’ve looted. Luckily I was recently approached by a servant of a rich noble who had heard I had some interesting wares. After an appointment was made I found myself within the presence of none other than Lord Vennax’s son!
This was too good an opportunity to let pass. He was most interested in some of the art pieces I was selling, commenting they looked very familiar to him, and most pleasing to his eye. I remarked that I had come upon them through a recent passing, where the family had asked me to mediate.
He inquired further into this and offered the sum of 1250 gold for the lot. I knew their worth to be about a 1000, so I was tempted, but decided on a bit of a gambit. I remarked another noble had already offered 1800 gold, but should he be able to pay in cash right this moment the sum of 1500 gold, I would not only let him have the desired pieces, but also give him the information as to where the pieces had come from. He agreed, and after having received his money, it was most satisfying to inform him of the death of his father’s henchman Vedric which also meant he was essentially buying his father’s goods. Oh, the look on that boy’s face!
It did seem wise to quickly take my leave thereafter...
Guy has contacted his mentor, and although there is initial disbelief, has convinced him that he is indeed still alive.
One day a travelling fair hits town. Amongst the arrivals is the bard Mireille, who has learned of our party and is most interested in their exploits. But before anything substantial can happen, our party is beset by a dragonling, introducing himself as Sydney, zookeeper in the employ of Mike. Mike has gone missing. Knowing what they know, demon possession and all that, the party decide to follow their comrade. (Aju not very willing, as he is aching to complete his own quest). Sydney the Dragonling goes with them, loyal as he is to Mike. Although he does first try to make woopie with the barmaid. Guy very much wishes to go but has other duties.
As is right and proper, a replacement NPC for 1-2 sessions gets to be played a bit larger than life. Sydney is a dragonling and a sorcerer, a race/class that were banned before but that are opened up to the group as of now.
Mike/Sydney's player is absolutely chewing the scenery and relishing that 1 point of Intelligence: he constantly forgets names, trips at the simplest leaps of logic and is always, always looking for another squeeze. It's lovely to see him change the dynamic of the group that way.
From the diary of Lomin Mor:
A most weird creature approached us. He most resembled a dragon, although he possessed hands and feet like all of us, he was huge and his head was a strange glistening orange looking colour. I could see Tilbørd and Guy exchanging a glance, as though they’d very much like to dissect the poor creature right here on the spot. We were surprised when the being began to speak. Apparently our friend Mike had hired him as zookeeper. And now Mike had gone missing. I immediately decided to join this creature who introduced himself as Sydney. That seems only right.
Mike had recently sprouted thorny bracelets after a sleepwalking visit to his mentor Litvars the Goblin Prince, and the party quickly spot some thorns left behind on the path, which gives them some idea in what direction their friend has gone. They follow the trail thus set for them.
[ How does the party track a demon in a druid's body through the wilderness? I've laid down a trail of bread crumbs for the group to follow. Buddy may have made a deal with Mike's mentor Litvars for a new magic item, but it seems Mike still has some control over whether he leaves tracks or not. Buddy doesn't mind, in fact he wants to lure along Tilbord and companions! ]
THE VILLAGEFollowing Mike’s trail leads our party into another duchy. Here they encounter a rather cranky hunter. He complains of lack of sleep and assumes our party is lost, off the beaten track as they are. Upon questioning he has seen someone resembling their friend. This person goes by the name of Mihael. Lomin can’t help but ask if this person was an elf. (Lomin had a bookish brother named thus). But no, it appears to be Mike indeed. And it looks like he has gone in the direction of the nearby village.
From the diary of Lomin Mor:
When we met a hunter following the trail of thorns, his reaction upon seeing us brought home the strangeness of our party. Tilbørd is our only human. A big man with a shark’s head such as Aju is weird, a huge man with a dragon’s head such as Sydney is even weirder. A magnificent elf such as I isn’t a sight they see daily here either.
On the way, there is a monastery, which of course has to be visited - Tilbørd insists.
The group are welcomed most heartily and the inquiring Tilbørd is given a lot of information by a priest called Alwin. It appears a recent quake has unearthed parts of an ancient tomb. Ever since the quake the people of the nearby town have been sleeping a lot worse and have been in a bad mood in general. Alwin has been performing extra rites at the old temple in the vicinity in order to quiet the restless spirits within.
Next stop, said village.
The locals are indeed a dour bunch. But at the local inn, Sydney quickly befriends a female dwarf, Merle. The dwarf likes a bit of drink as does our dragonling. In fact, her drinking holds a clue. While her daily alcohol intake is pretty massive, water doesn’t pass her lips. Could that be why she isn’t affected by the foul mood which has taken hold on the rest of the village?
Tilbørd uses magic to investigate, Sydney and Merle have it on, the rest sleeps.
DU’VAN. AGAIN.And yes, it turns out the water in the village brook is befouled by some kind of magic. In fact, it's turned unholy. Our party follows the stream back to its source. Surprise, surprise, it leads to the ancient temple. They search for the main entrance which Lomin opens easily. And in they go...
From the diary of Lomin Mor
I opened the gate of the main entrance. There was a hallway with an alcove. Inside a Du’van mummy!
Think bog mummy. Unanimated, by the way. There's some grave goods to be found but the party ignores the dead in their alcoves.
We encountered this strange race before, the snakelike people had a really large complex in the vicinity of Cullfield. More alcoves with more mummies followed. Another locked door was no problem for my skill. This time we discovered a statue of an ancient Du’van.
Another hallway, with more alcoves and more mummies. The trapped door at the end we recognized as the same type of trap we encountered in the other complex. If triggered a massive hammer smashes down from the ceiling, which is not good news if you are standing between it and the door. I took some pitons from my pack and with aju’s help tried to bolt the hammer mechanism down. After I was satisfied, Aju opened the door. We managed to get in before the hammer came down. Job well done. Again. Without me they’d never get anywhere.
More doors, hallways, alcoves and mummies. Finally our party find a secret door. Behind this door, a cracked basin with runes reading something like purity and cleansing. It is cracked and water is leaking away. The source of what is happening in the village!?
There is a crack in the wall which leads to another room. While Tilbørd is investigating the water Sydney decides to pass through the crack. And is instantly attacked.
The water is not holy or unholy, but very pure, Tilbord discovers: it washes away magic as long as you're wet. [ And as long as the water itself is untainted. This will become quite important next session. ]
Inside the room three dessicated snakelings turn their attention to Sydney, as does as a huge skeleton of the snake person persuasion. There are also 2 sarcophaguses and movement can be heard from within.
Sydney teleports away, an undead weapon hits nothing but air, and the sorcerer appears again on top of one of the sarcophagi. Aju rushes in, enraged and eager to fight. He hits hard, wounding one of the zombies severely and lighting up his destructive aura which deals some fire damage to everyone near him. Lomin sneaks in. Tilbørd is fascinated with the cleansing properties of the water and starts washing himself with it, ignoring the fight in the other room.
From the diary of Lomin Mor
That damn priest can be totally useless sometimes! As the sound of fighting came through the crack in the wall all he did was mumble and start sprinkling water over himself. I could almost see his holy power waning. I decided I had seen enough and carefully slid through the opening in the wall. First thing I saw was Aju wielding his enormous axe and hitting a zombie Du’van, his strike shoving it my way. I did not hesitate and plunged my dagger in its rotting flesh. It died instantly.
The sarcophagus Sydney isn’t standing on bursts open and a zombielike king charges Sydney, using a fear spell.
This frightens Aju, but Sydney is not impressed. “Is that supposed to scare me? You clearly haven’t met my mother!”, he says. The sorcerer throws a chromatic orb towards the king and utterly incinerates him. Woosh. And gone.
Meanwhile the large skeleton makes his way to Lomin, hitting him hard. Aju is having some problems with the 2 zombies, but manages to kill one. His fiery aura hurts the rest as well.
Lomin decides to hit back. And run. (He doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, a nice class ability) Lomin gets back to Tilbørd on the other side of the wall. Tilbørd has been washing himself this whole time. And now none of his powers work anymore. But he is very clean, also worth something...
Tilbørd chats with the mummies in Du'van and is slowly getting somewhere: the mummies seem to be playing the part of a Du'van king and queen, but they're also waiting for command words to unlock the deeper tomb where a Great Thief is being held. Alas, Tilly doesn't know the name of this prisoner, and so the fight goes on. (The party's random walk managed to miss all the rooms in the Tomb of the Serpent Kings where they could have discovered this info!)
Meanwhile the last zombie dies and Aju decides to grapple the skeleton. He tries to shove him in the open sarcophagus of the late zombie king. Sydney jumps off the closed sarcophagus, gets hit by Aju’s fire damage. He tries to use a poison spell, to no avail.
Lomin sneaks back in, stabbing the skeleton and kicking its sword out of the way. Sarcophagus number 2 bursts open, a zombie queen appears. Meanwhile Aju manages to wrestle the raging snakeling skeleton into the first sarcophagus, closing it and jumping on top of the lid. His weight is enough to keep it closed.
From the diary of Lomin Mor:
It was utter chaos. I decided to draw my bow and shoot the zombie queen. She exploded in a shower of fire. Once more I saved the day! All the undead were now truly dead. The queen was no more than a faint outline on the outer wall and upon closer inspection, I discovered a door there. This foray was not yet over.
In reality, as Lomin shot his arrow, Sydney launched yet another chromatic orb. This obliterated the zombie queen, just as Tilbørd came in with a lot of magic dampening water to throw. A nice thought, as things were indeed on fire. And from within the sarcophagus, enraged thumping shook the lid and Ajo atop of it. The decision was made to fill the sarcophagus containing the skeleton with the magic dampening water. This worked, as the skeleton first grew drousy and then no longer moved or showed any sign of (un)life.
The "king and queen" were actual mummies. The fear spell that Lomin mentions above is a dread gaze, but the rightly feared rotting touch doesn't come into play because Sydney takes action. Supporting the two mummies are a bunch of reskinned Gnoll witherlings and a minotaur skeleton, downgraded a bit. The party hits upon the mummies' vulnerability to fire, but don't think to switch to bludgeoning weapons against the raging skeleton. That means the fight starts to drag on: a raging barbarian halves all incoming nonmagical damage, and his axe's damage to the skeleton is halved as well. Luckily Aju's player thinks to switch tactics and wrestles the big brute into one of the open sarcophagi!
We decided this was a good moment to call it a day, and ended the session with scrapes and burns. Next time: into the depths!