Sunday 20 September 2020

Belswick 23: kill all the elves

Last session in Belswick, our band of luminaries got rid of the Brent-clones infesting the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, and killed the original Brent the bandit where he lay in the fungal cloning chamber

This game, they get a loredump, find a scroll that would cause the Church of the Authority to eradicate all the elves, vandalize a priceless world map, and deal with a bound succubus and a talking alchemist's apparatus.

PLAYER REACTIONS 

SHAMS
Hilarious interaction in the party. Lomin on brand with an eye for loot and Tilbรธrd shaking his head about Lomin ruining the info on a priceless antique map.
The local potion maker trapped in this dungeon for a year and noone misses her. For shame.
If we keep on hitting necromancer / serpent folk tombs, people will start to talk.

MORTI
Our Dwarf has been impressive with the smart use of her Imp ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
Cool dungeon, lots of variation, great options for characters to shine. interesting fun hooks and most importantly: fun ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
Morti is spoiled for choice! ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

TILLY

YESSS, sending Ricky after Tilly was excellent! And a nosy Elf at the door ๐Ÿคซ๐Ÿ‘
Morti missing some parts - ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘€ all eyes immediately swivel to Lomin. ๐Ÿ˜‡ 'what?!'
An absent-minded talking pestle and mortar, a succubus who is a bit rusty in the seduction department, an easily distracted flesh golem...and a mofo-ing Lich! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿคค

DM
Let me tell you, it's pretty hard to seduce someone with your wife sitting right next to you ๐Ÿ˜…
Nice highlights, thanks! Lich: too much? ๐Ÿ˜‡ ...I mean, I'll be happy to turn it into a beholder or a dragon...

LOMIN
Holy Authority protect us.....
One big highlight. I think I hit my role perfectly, and so did the rest of the group. Loved the tinkering Gnome and the dealmaking priest.
(Me: I think it's a succubus. Tilly: Great. Time to take confession.)
And of course the Frankenbeast. After all the effort we took to go around it, Tilly points it straight for us. Nice cliffhanger though ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ˜‰

 


All the OSR blogs I read say to Jaquay the dungeon with multiple entries and exits - this one is very linear except for the twin stairs leading from the round library/lab spaces below to the square lair on top. It's just easier to plan when using Dwarven Forge - I don't have the material to make more extensive complexes :)


LOREDUMP IN THE CLONING ROOM

Morti the gnome Artificer is fooling around with the fungal cloning chamber (hey look, it's got all kinds of other options!) with the help of his Green Book of Inventation. He's seriously considering turning the dreadful thing into a cabin for a mech. It does seem to be missing some parts though, and full functionality will probably only be possible after those control gems are reinserted.

It is a this point that Lomin, while prying gems out of a wall, gives the performance of his life trying to convince Morti that no, he'd never take any gems that weren't his. Especially not from that funky fungus machine.

Player is pleading for a mishap table. Soon.

Meanwhile the party's two humans Tilly the cleric and Guy the wizard currently a psion investigate a bunch of scrolls and frescoes the bandits shoved into a corner. Working together, they discover that this entire complex was once a last outpost of the Du'van Serpent Folk that ruled the world before the Authority struck them down and turned their homeland into the haunted Nightlands. 

A great search check uncovers a list of the six Du'van lords and ladies that traveled far from the Nightlands to set up a colony here:

  • High General Cyris Maxiumus
  • High Mage Xiximanter
  • Dark Priest Umtak Ktharl
  • Mistress of Spirits Til Zheng
  • General Daevis Vek
  • Striking Shadow Idzara

Another scroll explains their goals. High Mage Xiximanter sited this specific complex to research ways of bringing the Du'van back to life. To keep their race's souls safe and out of the grasp of hell and heaven, he manufactured a new race to house the Du'van souls. Sketches make it abundantly clear: the scroll is talking about the elves. Enough information to start a crusade, if given to the wrong people.

Tilly's grin is positively ghoulish as he looks over to their elf buddy Lomin, who is busy prying gems out of a wall map that seems to depict the entire world. (Which is valuable information for rulers and traders alike!)

  • gems: green sphere big as your eye, 23 facets, 500 gp; two grape-sized gems worth 350 and 100 gp (because of chipping); three smaller gems worth 100 gp each 
  • scrolls: 250 gp for their age alone, much more to the right party 
  • world map: 3x2 yards, chiseled into the living stone - needs serious labour to get this out of the dungeon. A perfect copy would be worth upwards of 750 gp. Dito for the other wall map the party found in Umtak Ktharl's tomb.
  • fungal resurrection chamber: uses a programmable fungus to clone whoever is inside. Looks to have other options as well, such as "enhancing" subjects. Worth 5000 gp, weighs a ton and a half: 40 inventory slots


HOW ABOUT THE SINGING?

Shams the Dwarf is getting curious about the last hints of activity in the dungeon. She can hear something heavy stomping around to the north (the other party members have encountered a big snake-themed stone golem here), sporadic singing to the west, and beyond that bubbling sounds and rattling bones. Time to get the party moving.

In a long room turned into a grubby theater, Annabelle the deerling potion maker is manacled to the wall - for weeks now, she says; which must mean she's been down in the wonky time flow of the dungeon complex for over a year. So who is the Annabelle the potion maker the group have met in the village of Crossroads?

The group interrogate poor Annabelle and don't seem to trust her. She breaks down and explains she's been forced to dance for the bandits - and the goblins before them - for weeks now. Can they please free her from this totally innocuous rune-covered manacle around her ankle? Morti plays his Wisdom 4 to the hilt, and picks the lock. The manacle opens, sputters some last binding magic and Annabelle gives him a hug and a kiss...Lomin's player looks on with bated breath, but nothing untoward happens.

Tilly isn't very surprised when Annabelle asks to give confession before returning to Crossroads. She explains to the young priest all the things she was forced to do...until he calls her on her bullshit five minutes in. The deerling shrugs, drops an illusion to reveal a succubus called Baltoplat, and it's time to talk in earnest. Lomin glues himself to the door but can't make out the exact words; he does pick up surprise, confrontation and then the unmistakable sound of Tilly giving a spiel and making a deal.

Morti wanders off to tinker with the fungal cloning device some more. If he takes apart his mechanical "unicorn" (miniature rhinoceros), he should have enough gear to slap some crab legs on the damned thing and have it walk itself out of the dungeon...


DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

"You don't seem troubled by dealing with a devil like myself, young priest."
"Lady, I have zero qualms about unleashing anyone or anything on the world. Let's do business."

It's about that point that Tilly asks Shams' invisible imp familiar Ricky to join the discussion. Damn that low stealth roll...

It turns out that the real Annabelle is a middling potion maker at best; she deals with someone in the dungeon who makes most of her brewings. Tilly suggests that Baltoplat take Annabelle's place in Crossroads, which she will agree to do until she's no longer interested. No formal soul-bargain is made; Baltoplat is happy to be released. (Counting his two browbeaten spined devils, there are now three devils in Tilly's employ. He's level six and has scared me to no end since the first session of play. ๐Ÿ’Ÿ)

Ricky having heard the discussion presents a complication. The little imp has been caught in a Du'van trap since way before the Du'van assaulted Heaven and murdered the Creator; he behaves more like an army scout than a tiny tempter, and he's let Tilly know before that he doesn't understand all this temptation business. Who needs mortal souls cluttering up the Fort Below when there's a war against the Outsiders to fight? Ricky would love to find out, but can't plane shift to hell on his own.

Tilly wouldn't be Tilly if he couldn't make a deal out of this. In return for Ricky keeping mum, he will persuade his master Shams to spend one of her Six Questions to Hell, allowing Ricky to plane shift there and do some recon on the side. The deal is off when Ricky decides any of this could harm Shams, though.


LET'S HAVE A BREWSKY

Confession and deals complete, the party heads for the last unknown in the dungeon: skeletal bone rattling and weird bubbling sounds. They uncover a mini-dungeon run by a sentient alchemist's apparatus. 

I finally get to put on the personality I've been looking forward to since session 1: a happily condescending and forgetful horcrux-type that greets any non-Du'van with a cheerful "Hello, bipeds! My, aren' you splendid-looking mammals. And an inheritor (elf) as well!"

The cheerfully condescending pestle and mortar at the heart of the contraption introduces itself as Xiximanter the Alchemist, a soul fragment split off by Xiximanter the Wizard to take care of mundane affairs in the dungeon. The alchemist has been happy to brew all kinds of potions for visitors in return for livestock and test subjects. (Explaining nicely why Annabelle the potionmaker often takes a pig along when she visits her herb garden near the dungeon entrance.)

Xiximanter chatters along and convinces Morti to become an apprentice. ("Who's your owner? Yourself, you say!? Wonderful, what a joke! Now make a note, we'll need to research a new kind of grammar to distinguish between myself and Xiximanter the wizard. That's just too much of a mouthful.")

The players chats a bit about how Xiximanter could still be alive. Ghoul, wraith, vampire? I just smile at the camera when they say "lich".

Entrance from the larger dungeon top left; then stairs down to the alchemy lab, library and meat locker.

 

Patient conversation with a 5000 gp alchemy lab shows the group that Xiximanter split his mind and soul into multiple parts to multitask more efficiently. The body and arcane soul are busy working on the cloning and resurrection of the Serpent Folk. Meanwhile the alchemical intellect and social skills are stuck in the alchemy lab - happily so, the Alchemist confesses: he's lukewarm about the whole resurrection thing anyway. Much cooler to invent new potions.

Behind the Alchemist's back, Shams, Guy and Lomin are exploring. They find a big staircase to a hall with green-glowing cobra statues and four seemingly lifeless bodies in large glass vats. The place turns out to be boobytrapped; as Ricky the imp flies in, four giant claws lift the cilinders and a wall of fire springs up at the end of the hall. The bodies flop to the floor - four mutations of Brent the bandit, bred for stealth, brute force and something else, it seems; they must've died when Tilly promoted Brent Prime to another plane of existence last session. 

The wall of fire is still active, though. Asked how to pass beyond it, the Alchemist says that Xiximanter the Wizard doesn't like company; the only way in is with an amulet around one of their servitors' necks. Sure enough, in a meatlocker behind the alchemy lab is a flesh golem with a beautiful amulet around its neck. Morti turns invisible to steal it, Tilly does a "behind you!" in Du'van as the golem grasps for the invisible thief - and off the golem is, to a stairway leading directly to Lomin, Shams and Guy. We'll pick up right there next session!

I don't know why the players want to bother a clone-happy lich, but I'll be happy to oblige once they get past the golem guard and wall of fire...