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Session 132 - The Prestige

posted Sep 9, 2017, 11:49 AM by Will McCain

Team Callon raced towards the end of the labyrinth, powering through two dreadful encounters.

In the first, they faced an empty room with their entranceway turned into an enormous mirror. Magic damaged them anytime they look anywhere but into the mirror, so they closed their eyes and walked toward the exit at the far side of the room with one another providing directions. Once accomplished, they faced off against two undead. One was a huge mass of muscle and the other was a semi-corporeal floating menace. Between magical, holy, and bladed might, both were brought low.

In the second room, they found a small indentation in the center of the room and a slowly lowering ceiling. While Mistress Cordova was convinced that they were in no real danger, the party went along with the threat and chose her to rest in the indentation in case it was real and there could only be one survivor. Before the falling stone crushes them, though, it disappeared and their real challenge appeared in the form of a merilith demon. The many-armed snake woman tried to whittle away at the group, but found them steadfast in their own prowess. When Callon put her in dire straights, she summoned another of her kind to aid her. With dreadful efficiency (and many summoned monsters to take hits for them), the party dispatched both creatures and finally earned an exit from the gauntlet.

It was happy tidings, indeed, when they walked through the exit and found the rest of their friends waiting for them. All had faced terrible trials, but not one of the Maladroits or their friends had fallen. They spared a moment before continuing on to claim the Shard to celebrate their success. Mistress Cordova leapt up to Callon and wrapped her arms around his neck to surprise him with a kiss. Leaning back, Callon watched her happy and loving smile slip away and the life fade from her eyes. He caught her as her arms, now devoid of life, now fell from around him. 

Looking up in horror, the assembled heroes saw Watch pulling a gem back from where Cordova's back had been. Smiling cruelly at Callon, his form shifted into that of Jonid. With a careless toss, the gem with Cordova's trapped soul vanished, banished by the gnomeling's magic to parts and planes unknown.

Session 131 - A Party's End

posted Aug 25, 2017, 10:09 AM by Will McCain   [ updated Aug 25, 2017, 10:24 AM ]

Team Knox arrived at their last challenge. Hands that were patting the wizard's back for his clutch save earlier now moved to chins in contemplation of their new puzzle. It was a bare room with four torches lit, and some script barely legible on the far door. Elistra carefully made her way down and found a riddle: you must create that which is so fragile, to utter it's name would break it. Quick-witted as ever, she immediately deduced the answer and returned to her team, bidding them to produce what they needed: silence.

In the stillness, they could still hear the gasping of the flames on each torch, so they each took position by one and extinguished them quietly. When all was finally still, silent, and dark, they felt the room shift. Around them, they could hear (and feel) tiles of the floor falling away. At the same time, they saw the imprints of four hands begin to glow on the exit door. Knox tried to fly, but found his magic suppressed by a powerful Anti-Magic Field. They steeled themselves and began to carefully make their way towards the door while trying not to fall off their precarious paths. Qip was the first to stumble, but as he held himself on the edge of the remaining tile, he felt an illusion disperse from his mind and felt the original, unmolested floor beneath him. Again! Another false danger, just like the last room! He tried to call out his realization to his friends, but, like before, they could not believe without overcoming the spell themselves. He first helped McGraenge to see the illusion for what it was, then Knox. Elistra was more hesitant, but at Qip's rather unexpected urging to throw herself into his arms, she took the chance and also saw through the magic. With a wink, Qip reluctantly let her go and they made their way to join the others at the exit.

The lights returned, the anti-magic field lifted, and their foes began to fade into view. Horror fell upon Elistra to see the reanimated forms of the fallen Champions of the Realm taking positions on the opposite side of the room. No. This was too cruel. A hand upon her shoulder startled her out of her disbelief. Meeting Qip's solemn gaze, the Druid reminded her that they were in a place of illusion, and she should not hold back from fighting mere figments meant to unnerve her. She breathed deeply, nodded at the Akari, and slowly drew her blade. The others did was preparation they could, and battle was joined.

The figments won initiative on them, and Volfeng the Half-Orc Cleric read a scroll of Time Stop. When the jar magic passed, the party saw that he had summoned a huge fiend to fight them, as well. Stonewall the Dwarven Abjurer cast Fly on Brushfire the Elven Fighter, who took the air in order to attack Knox. Trusting Knox to do to Brushfire what he had done to the Jub Jub Bird, McGraenge laid a withering salvo of fire into Volfeng. Elistra attacked the devil, who took appreciable damage despite his damage reduction. Qip shifted into a Dire Tiger in preparation to join McGraenge's assault on Volfeng, while Knox attempted a spell on Brushfire. The fiend, however, attacked during his casting, and he lost the spell. 

The false Champions continued their assault, and the party felt themselves waver, even as Volfeng fell to McGraenge, Qip, and Floofs. Knox was barely clinging to life from Brushfire's attacks. Qip saw the wizard's dire condition and cast a targeted Greater Dispel on Brushfire, removing the magic that gave her flight and resistance to magic. Finally, the bloodied Knox was able to cast Maze on the fighter, removing her from the fight. For a time.

Now left with the fiend and Stonewall, the part was still hurting. McGraenge and Elistra peppered him with shot and arrow, which mostly served to whittle away at his Mirror Images. Qip decided to try another Great Dispel, and succeeded in unsummoning the fiend and removing some of Stonewall's defenses. Panting but not yielding, the group finally felled the wizard, who faded away like Volfeng. Now with some time to breathe, Qip used Heal to remove the grievous wounds from Knox and McGraenge and Knox granted Elistra the benefit of Greater Invisibility. As everyone else took position, Qip healed himself a bit and poured as much buffing magic as he could into himself and Floofs. When Brushfire reappeared, she proved a formidable opponent on her own. She once more wore away at McGraenge and Qip, but Elistra carried the day. She forced herself to look at the likeness of her former friend as her invisible blade delivered the final blow. 

As the elven woman faded away, her face grew serene as the challenge she represented was overcome. Its purpose complete, the figment passed gently into the ether. Sheathing her sword, Elistra could only hope that the true souls of her friends knew such peace. And that one day, she would find it herself.

Session 130 - The One Who Knox

posted Aug 12, 2017, 8:54 PM by Will McCain   [ updated Aug 25, 2017, 10:19 AM by Paul H ]

Returning to Team Wizard, the Knox-led party found themselves in what initially appeared to be a barren room. Taking a cautious step forward, the ground disappeared beneath them and they fell a short distance into a circular room with several gaunt humanoids pressing themselves against the obsidian wall. In the center of the room was a stand with magical device. Looking upon it, Knox deduced that the item caused a fear effect in people, forcing them to flee as far as they could from it and find the nearest corner to cower in, much as many of his spells did. However, with no corners to be found upon the slick, black walls, the people in the room could do nothing but continuously shuffle against its edge. Doing so long without food had clearly led to their emaciated state. While the group puzzled over it, McGraenge was unfortunate to fall under its effect and backed into the wall, trying to find some purchase. They began tossing out ideas then, suggesting that perhaps erecting cloth barriers would could as corners for the spell and be enough to fulfill whatever bizarre conditions the puzzle required. It was then that, in examining the worn people moving along fearfully, Qip found his hand passing through one of them and saw through the illusion. The people, the item, even the walls and the fall through the floor had been fabricated. They didn't need to solve some cruel game. They simply had to break through the deception. Qip urged Knox to test it himself, and the wizard, too, saw the truth of things. Elistra followed suit, but McGraenge remained horrified at seeing his friends' hands pass idly through solid people. Working around the spell, they told him to try and create a corner by chipping into the obsidian wall. Obliging, he drew and dagger and chipped at it. The brittle material gave way easily, which was enough to dispel the elaborate ruse and summon their true test. 

Looking upon the creatures slowly appearing to face them, each member of the group felt a chill run down their spines as they beheld a khala and the dreaded jubjub bird. When battle began, they wasted no time. Since they recalled more about it, they decided to take out the khala first. McGraenge opened up with a volley of shots that left a number of gaping holes in its hide. Elistra followed up with a dashing sneak attack. Before Qip or Knox could add their own attacks, however, the dragon responded by laying several savage blows into Elistra and hit Knox with a freezing beam that encased the wizard in ice. For its part, the jubjub bird emitted a horrible shriek that stunned the party and stole their momentum. Knox was the only one to resist its effect, and saw the brave souls who had followed him now turned to prey.

Well that simply wouldn't stand.

Muffled by layers of magical ice, there was no way for the residents of the room to hear the words of power that froze time around them. Nor did they hear the other mystical chant that teleported Knox out of the ice to float freely once more in the air. He surveyed the scene briefly, for that was all that was needed. Correcting an earlier oversight, he summoned Mirror Images around himself. He then placed a barrier of fire carefully around the dragon to punish it for the umbrage of hurting one of his teammates. Finally, as he felt the flow of time begin to reassert itself, he readied a spell to dismiss the annoyance of the jubjub bird until conditions were more optimal. It barely had time to blink before it was transported away into an extradimensional Maze. It would only be gone for ten minutes, but that was more than enough to tidy things up.

Between the flames surrounding it and the renewed assault of the party, the khala quickly fell and disappeared. Knox handed out further magical enhancements while Qip tended to the injured Elistra. They all took their places around where the jubjub bird would reappear, flanked on either side by Qip as a Fire Elemental and Floofs, who were both now huge-sized. The dreaded fowl popped back into existence, but only lasted a matter of seconds under the withering assault of bullets, blade, flaming fists, and deadly magic. It, too, disappeared, and their way forward opened.

Knox smiled. All according to plan.

Session 129 - Bargain Teams

posted Jul 23, 2017, 10:32 AM by Will McCain   [ updated Jul 23, 2017, 11:55 AM by Paul H ]

Alera's team felt they were closing in on their goal. After several rooms with minor challenges, they arrived in one with a strange puzzle. In the center was a large pot sitting over a fire and filled with some kind of soup. None of the girls wanted to try it. To their right on the western wall was a simple wooden chair with one leg broken. Opposite it on the eastern wall was a rose bush growing from the stone floor. 

Before they could figure out what to do, Triss wanted to make sure none of the items were trapped. When she approached the pot, she was hit with a Shout spell. Fortunately, it didn't do much to her, so she tried to find the trigger she had obviously stepped on. After a few minutes, she was confused to find that... there wasn't one? Clearly it was a trap, but the trigger condition apparently only being in the vicinity of the pot. Shrugging it off for now, she examined the rose bush and the chair, finding no traps on them (though the rose thorns were poisoned). Curiously, the Shout trap didn't trigger when she was by the other items, so the party reckoned that the pot must be just within the radius of the Shout's cone of effect. They thought long and hard at the northern part of the room. Nothing seemed to fit. A seat to the west. Thorns to the east. Shout to the south. Ah ha! The directions were anagrams (the title = "anagrams bite") for where each item needed to be. After rearranging the room, their foes began to fade in. Time to fight.

They had two opponents, a nemhain and a rune giant. While everyone did their usual preparations, Alera case Holy Word upon her friends, offering them further defense against the creature's abilities. Pebble delivered the first blows, followed quickly by Amii and Triss. After their assault, the giant was nearly done for, but the <undead> still had some tricks. It tried to use one of its abilities on Pebble, but Alera's Holy Word had strengthened her mind enough to resist the effect. With Amii's final barrage, both creatures were reduced to smoldering ash. After healing, fist bumps, and lots of licks from Lickity, the triumphant women proceeded to their final reward.

Session 128 - Ice Ice Snakey

posted Jul 7, 2017, 11:41 AM by Paul H

Meanwhile, Alera's fellows found themselves confronted with a room filled with metallic spider webs. The heroes tried to advance, but it only drew the attention of clockwork spiders, the maw of each shedding sparks like drool. Amii was able to discern that the composition of the faux-silk strands was such that they must share a copper core. She asked her fellows to trust her judgment, and the group each advanced somewhat into the room. The spiders started to close in, and Amii used her magic to send an electric shock through the strands, harming the spiders. It was not enough to defeat them, but each spider reactively attacked the strands, sending a much greater current through the room which destroyed them all. Amii is no longer the frightened girl she had been.

A while later, the team arrived in a room featuring a pedestal. On that pedestal was a complex lure appearing to be a pentacle, each point of which indicated a certain symbol. The heroes triggered traps inherent to the engraving before they realized to rotate the pentacle in its tray. When they'd pointed it at the exit door and depressed it, the puzzle faded from view and monsters faded in: a frigid, long-taloned undead and a gargantuan triple serpent. This winterwight and xacarba were a true challenge, but eventually proved no match for the (admittedly Constitution-drained) team. More details forthcoming.

Session 127 - Down with the Sickness

posted Mar 31, 2017, 12:39 PM by Will McCain   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 11:29 AM by Paul H ]

After resting up, Lucas rallied his party and led them deeper into the depths of danger and illusion. 

At one point, a mysterious shapechanger blocked the party's path. He challenged them to a one-on-one duel in order to proceed, though he would take the form of whoever faced him. Nico strode forth without hesitation and quickly stripped out of her armor and clothing. Taking a simple dagger, she squared off against her confused double. The two Nicos began to trade blows of equal force, but Nico used her Lay on Hands to mend her wounds. Without the blessings of a paladin, the other Nico could only desperately struggle against her withering vitality. It was quickly defeated, and a nonplussed Nico donned her armor again and bid the rest of the party continue on. Such things had to be done sometimes, after all.

In another room, the party found two complicated metal structures affixed to either side of the wall with chains running along the ceiling. After checking that they held no traps, the group was unsure what to do with them. Finding what amounted to small bear traps in their folds, Yanjing tested one by allowing it to clamp down on his arm. Pulling on it revealed that it was attached to the mechanism that opened the door. Without hesitation, he let the other three pairs of metal teeth bite down on him. Then, he pulled them taught towards the door, opening it enough for the group to pass through. He then pried them off and ducked under the passage himself. Shrugging off his wounds, he pressed onward.

Finally, Lucas' band found themselves in a room covered in an ornate mural depicting, of all things, the time when the Guren uplifted the various races of the continent. There were pieces of real material worked into it in certain places. Found no mechanisms or traps, so they checked the door at the far end of the room. When they opened it, they were greeted with the sight of their own backs. The door, it seemed, was a portal linked to the entrance. Indeed, when one of them stepped through it, he appeared at the other side of the room. 

Not seeing this as helpful, they looked for other, hidden passages. Lucas found another door in the floor that led to its sibling at the ceiling. Once more, they acted as a pair of portals. The one of the ceiling, however, was surrounded by a curious part of the mural. A gnome was situated near it, and all around was the outer border of a thought bubble used in comics. It was as if the entire room existed in the imagination of the gnome, except for this door. The party felt there was meaning here, so they tried testing the portal. Nothing knew was found until Master Morvant decided to take some of the wood and flint from the mural and strike it alight. Holding it up to the doorway didn't do anything on it's own, but it did allow them to see the smoke from the flame passing away from the portal and towards the corner of the room. Inspecting there, they found a fifth portal. After passing through it, they felt the weight of familiar magic upon them, and a fell beast began to appear before them.

This time, they found a singular, enormous dragon. It was a taniniver, a strange, seldom seen type that Morvant had only read bits and pieces about. It was by nature diseased, and in constant search for a cure to its suffering. Lucas contracted mummy rot from merely attacking it, while the other fighters had to be careful of its pestilence. Their battle was a straightforward one of cuts and strikes. Nico, in particular, did much damage with her paladin ability to Smite Evil. For his part, Master Morvant was able to stun the beast for a few moments. It was enough time for the three fighters to finish it off without having to worry about suffering any other attacks or illnesses. Afterward, Nico tended to Lucas' condition, and they all breathed a now-healthy sigh at a battle won.

Session 126 - Death Defying

posted Mar 30, 2017, 12:40 PM by Will McCain

Emerging from the darkness of the previous room, Lucas led his posse through a number of less challenging trials. In one, they were confronted by a large beast that Master Morvant recognized. It offered no signs of aggression, but he was still careful in approaching it. When he had gotten close enough to pet its head, he used his magic to slay it in an instant. They had a mission, after all.

Eventually, the group reached another room similar to the one with the ankou. In the center there were four plates much like the ones they used when first entering the labyrinth. Lucas once more set himself to disarming any traps that might be present while bearing the trickiness of the previous room in mind. After doing so, all four adventurers took a place on one of the plates. The plates disappeared and they saw two terrible creatures begin to fade into the room: a Nightshade and a Lesser Death. 

Yanjing began to pour damage into the larger Nightshade (or was it the Lesser Death?), with assistance from Lucas. When Nico engaged the Lesser Death, however, it struck her so viscously that she fell to ground dying. The rest of the party was horrified by this (particularly because Nico was their source of healing, so what would there be for her if she fell?). Thinking quickly, Master Morvant cast Irresistible Dance on the Lesser Dance, since it would affect it for a few moments even if it resisted the spell. He then ran up to Nico, narrowly missing an attack by the Nightshade. Grabbing her, he used his Rod of Quickening to cast Dimension Door and remove the two of them to the far corner of the room and away from danger. 

Desperate to tend to their paladin friend, the other adventurers redoubled their efforts to dispatch the enemies while Master Morvant took Nico's Wand of Cure and managed to stabilize her condition. The foul creatures could not resist the combined attacks of Yanjing and Lucas. The rogue ran over to Nico once the room was safe once more and used his own want of curative magic to help along Nico's recovery. 

Afterwards, some rest in Morvant's Magnificent Mansion was warmly welcomed.

Session 125 - Rogue : 1

posted Mar 29, 2017, 1:45 PM by Will McCain   [ updated Jul 7, 2017, 11:27 AM by Paul H ]

Lucas' team set foot into the room of their first challenge, and found themselves standing on a strip of floor between two pits of spikes. Lucas, ever careful, made sure to check for traps. He found one in the floor and disarmed it, then told the group to proceed. When they stepped forward, however, a different spring trap triggered. While most of them avoided it, Master Morvant was rocketed into the ceiling where he was punctured by invisible spikes. Coming back down, he returned to the group as they pondered Lucas' apparent oversight.

After investigating once more, Lucas saw that disarming the first trap had set the second one. While he tried to disarm the second one, Master Morvant pondered the spikes on the ceiling. If they were glamoured, then what of the spikes to their side? He tossed a rock over the side, and saw it pass through them and hit a stone floor. Alerting the rest, they decided it would be best to simply ignore the traps and climb down to wade through the illusory spikes. Once they had reached the other end of the room, the spikes disappeared, the lowered sections of floor raised, and numerous magical beasts began to appear before them.

One was an vilderaven, and the others, a pack of ankou. Just as they were beginning to lay into the vilderaven, magical darkness fell about the room. Master Morvant attempted to dispel it, but was rebuffed. Lucas stayed focused on the enemies, opting to take out the weaker enemies first by sounding out where they were between the members of the group. When he slew one of the ankou, the darkness suddenly vanished. They realized that the original ankou had created weaker doubles of itself, and used them to create the darkness. With the handicap removed, the remaining enemies were quick work. The next room beckoned.

Session 123 & 124 - Liars, Triggers, and Bears, oh my!

posted Feb 10, 2017, 8:45 PM by Will McCain   [ updated Feb 12, 2017, 1:04 PM by Paul H ]

Callon's team strode confidently towards their first trial, with the surprisingly talented voice of Desangriev serenading Callon and Mistress Cordova with unsurprisingly bawdy songs. Sheathing his sword to shut it up, the group found before them four tiles much like the ones they stepped upon to gain entry.

Experimentally stepping on them, Callon found that the orange tile resonated with him as it had before. Beckoning the group forward, each found the tile that felt the most right for them. When all were standing, the floor near running the width of the room next to either door fell away into darkness. When shouts of alarm caused more tiles to fall, the group fell silent and waited for the trap to present itself. A wisp of light appeared and told them than any sound not said in answer to a question would cause more floor to fall away. It would ask each of them a question, and the rest of the group would respond with a tilting of their square on whether they trusted the answer. 

First, Callon was asked how to intended to make sure his companions survived the encounters ahead. He replied that he trusted his companions with his life, but was also willing to lay down his own for their sake. Sighing at his willingness for self-sacrifice, Cordova tilted forward, as did Boken. Wotch, however, looked aghast at the fighter and tilted backward. No questions could be asked, however, so Callon could only stare at the kobold in confusion.

Next, Mistress Cordova was asked to reveal how she truly felt about Callon. She replied that she enjoyed his company and looked forward to breaking him of his more rigid tendencies. Callon and Wotch titled forward, but Boken declined to answer at all at such a vague answer. No tiles fell, but the voice declared that Cordova had one more chance to convince her fellows. She angrily dismissed being forced to reveal more, saying that she wasn't beholden to bear her heart to an undead of all things. Boken sighed but accepted the answer, as did Wotch. Callon considered the elven woman he so fancied, and chose to lean back in disagreement. Nonetheless, the test passed on to the next member.

Wotch was asked "How do you hope this story will end?" He ...?

For his part, Boken was asked whether he wanted to return to being human. After some thought, the happy-go-lucky bard replied that he wasn't in any hurry since being a juju zombie wasn't too bad. Wotch and Cordova leaned forward, but Callon looked around the room for a moment, then leaned back with a smirk.

Boken didn't have long to be confused before the tiles vanished and two undead with hooks in their chests appeared. None among the group could identify them, so they readied themselves as best they could. Wotch began summoning, Boken passed out his bardic inspiration, Callon engaged his Ring of Blinking, and Cordova readied her spells. Once they appeared, one of the creatures attached Wotch, which disrupted his summoning. The other creature produced a chain and bound up Boken. Rushing to his aid, Callon assaulted the creature. Cordova cast a Holy Aura upon them all before she, too, was bound and pulled aside by the other undead. 

Finally, Wotch was able to summon his dire bears. Callon barely avoided being bound in chains himself by virtue of blinking free of them. He rained down blows upon the undead holding Boken. Once it fell, he turned to face the remaining monster that had been assaulted with Mistress Cordova's channeling of Positive Energy and the ire of many very large bears. It tried attacking Callon, but he blinked trough the strikes and landed killing blows of his own. The threat gone, he freed Cordova from the chains, who playfully chided him for taking his sweet time.

During both this fight and the one Alera's party faced, the howl of the Windigo echoed through the strange twisting space. The other two groups fared better than Knox's against its effects. More importantly, they learned that they weren't so alone and separate as they thought. Even if it was the horrific shriek of a monster, it was still proof that none of them would go down easy.

Session 121 & 122 - Oozey Does It

posted Feb 10, 2017, 8:03 PM by Will McCain

Alera's team of all-girl badasses entered their own room. In dimensions, it was exactly the same as Knox's group. However, laid out before them was an empty space three tiles wide by three tiles deep surrounded by a number figurines. There were all one of nine types, one for each found Shard plus an axe and a shovel. 

After some thought and moving them around, they realized that they had to place all of the figurines in the empty space so that none repeated.

Magic Sudoku.

After a great deal of thought, trial and error, they managed to get all the pieces in their proper place. The pieces disappeared and a Plasma Ooze, the heart of a dead star, began to appear in the room. Amii groaned as her knowledge of the beast returned to her. Immune to acid, fire, electricity, piercing, and bludgeoning damage, only Alera and Amii had any chance of damaging it. Pebble and Triss ran interference as best they could. Pebble helped pull out any unfortunate member who were pulled into the ooze's superheated core, as she had no metal armor or weapons it could attract with its magnetic pulse. 

After a drawn-out fight, Amii's cold evocations and Alera's divine strikes managed to defeat the magical monstrosity. A bit of healing from Alera, and the group was on to the next challenge.

Girl powah!

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