Abciximab's Shackled City

Session 27.
Lords of Oblivion.

Session 27.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (11th)/ Rogue (3rd)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (14th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull (Splintershield) the Dwarven Cleric (14th)
  • Pete – Zartan of the Smoking Eye the Human Ranger (7th)/Rogue (6th)/Fighter (1st)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (14th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (13th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant
  • NPCKazmuk Splintershield the Dwarven Cohort, Favored Soul (11th)

Exiting the library they encounter the floating globe-like creatures with multiple eyestalks in their heads they had observed through the windows. The party is blasted with eye rays and attacked by a suddenly very different looking Flava the Kobold Monk. The party is not surprised by this turn of events. After a brief melee the creatures, including the now revealed doppelganger in their midst, are defeated.

They continue through the house, but find very little of interest, but note many life-like statues. They eventually find a room with an illusory floor. A twenty-foot wide pit drops into darkness. Utilizing his Feather Fall ring Zartan drops down to the room some eighty feet below. He finds three zombies and discovers that when they are killed some type of acidic demon erupts from them and continues the fight. The party hurries down and the creatures are defeated.

The group finds another, even longer tunnel dropping downwards beyond the range of their sight. Using a combination of magic and ropes, they eventually come to a huge, round door with a stylized Beholder and multiple gems on it. They find the door locked and trapped. In attempting to disarm the trap, Zartan finds the door fires Force Bolts at those who tamper with it. Whisper examines the door and determines affecting it with a particular spell activates it. Token uses his ability to Deceive Magic Items to activate the door and open it.

Beyond they find a large hall with statues and a painting of a jail cell holding a woman that looks like Celest, the woman who had asked them to seek Zenith Splintershield. There are also two more of the large circular doors within.

They open one and come face to face with a large Beholder dripping acidic slime. An epic battle ensues. Party members are zapped over and over by multiple rays. Dispel Magic is cast over and over on Charmed party members who suddenly find themselves alternately liking and hating the Beholder over and over again. It starts to feel like they’ve taken part in an entire season of Greyhawk 90210. During the melee characters are hit for massive amounts of damage from disintegrate rays, three are turned to stone, party members are put to sleep only to be kicked awake by their teammates and Kazmuk Splintershield is disintegrated to dust. It’s a close battle but utilizing all their skills and abilities the Beholder, who they discover was actually Valanthru in disguise, is finally killed.

Much magic is expended in returning all but Kazmuk Splintershield to a healthy, unstoned state.

End of Session 27.

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Session 26.
Lords of Oblivion

Session 26 Recap

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (11th)/ Rogue (3rd)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (14th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull (Splintershield) the Dwarven Cleric (14th)
  • Pete – Zartan of the Smoking Eye the Human Ranger (7th)/Rogue (6th)/Fighter (1st)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (14th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (13th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant
  • NPCKazmuk Splintershield the Dwarven Cohort, Favored Soul (10th)

They case the joint and decide to enter through the glass observatory using a combination of stealth and magic. They sneak down the stairs and almost immediately find the room where the guests are all gathered.

Zartan listens at the door and hears a woman’s voice.

“More than five centuries ago, the demodands sent a few of their kind to our reality. Disguised as humans, they mated with humans and other denizens of this plane. Most of their spawn were stillborn, but a few survived. They mated and produced the next generation with demodand blood. As the generations passed, all obvious traces of their demodand ancestry faded away. Today, we recognize this sacred lineage by an invisible birthmark: the sign of Carceri! We call these honored descendants ‘the Shackleborn,’ and their sacrifice is key to unlocking a portal to Othrys, the first layer of Carceri. Here, demodands and countless other fiends have languished for near-eternity. In Cauldron, we have found more Shackleborn than anywhere else in the Realms, and in Cauldron, we have the perfect conditions for the Ritual of Planar Junction. For the past five years, the Cagewrights have labored in secret to build thirteen soulcages to drain the life energy from the Shackleborn. These soulcages hang from an artifact called the Tree of Shackled Souls-the device that gathers the life energy needed to unlock the prison doors of Carceri. All of the preparations are now complete. The Shackleborn are safely in our hands and ready to give their lives to change the world forever. All that remains is the ritual itself, and it is already underway. Once the ritual is complete, Cauldron won’t be the same quiet little burg it is today. It will be the unholy font from which darkness gushes forth, a roiling pit filled with doom and despair for our enemies. Almost immediately, fiendish armies will sweep across the land and lay waste to surrounding territories, enslaving the weak, and carving out new dominions. Naturally, we expect resistance on all sides, and that’s where you come in.”

At this point a second, deeper voice speaks up: “All eyes will be on Cauldron. We’ll have their worst fears to toy with.”

The woman continues, “Precisely, as kings raise armies to confront the legions of Carceri, your slavers, merchants, spies and assassins will methodically search for weaknesses from within, soften their resolve, and convince them that their only true choices are to yield or die!”

Having heard enough, the group busts in and completely dominates their opponents. Only a two actually reach the group to fight back. A few escape by magical means, but most are killed where they stand thanks to Chill Tentacles and a lot of area of effect spells. While the most of the group heals up and gathers the loot, Zartan jumps out a window and thrashes the Half-Orcs standing guard outside the front door.

They search the place and come across a room of small animals. A small monkey seems to become overly excited by the sight of Zartan. While, admittedly, this happens pretty much every time monkeys see the Ranger, something is different. Significantly less poop is thrown, for instance. Hoping they have found Yakov, Token casts Dispel Magic on each of the animals. It turns out that most of the animals are Halfings who were used as templates for the oddly docile Halfing servants the party has met. The monkey is indeed Yakov. One of the animals, a small weasel, is non-magical. Yakov just refers to it as his “little buddy” and tucks him into his pack.

Collecting their swag, the group heads back to the Temple to rest and rearm. Next stop House Valanthru.

They case the joint. Flying around and looking in the windows they see a number of orb-like creatures with eyestalks that seem to be patrolling a certain area. They determine there are at least 3. In another room they find a small creature ducking behind a bed. When they burst in through the window to confront it they see it is the long lost Kobold Monk Flava. He tells them he has been held prisoner in the basement of the house and only recently escaped. He says the usually busy house has been quiet as of late and this granted him his opportunity for freedom. The group flies down a level and enters the house through a different window into the library.

End of Session 26.

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Session 25.
Lords of Oblivion

Session 25 Recap

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (11th)/ Rogue (2nd)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (13th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull (Splintershield) the Dwarven Cleric (13th)
  • Pete – Zartan of the Smoking Eye the Human Ranger (6th)/Rogue (5th)/Fighter (1st)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (13th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (12th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)
  • NPCKazmuk Splintershield the Dwarven Cohort, Favored Soul (10th)

…Ok… Not five, but certainly one big Dracolich. It is a tough opponent, with an acidic breath weapon that knocks many of them prone on two occasions, but they finally defeat the huge creature. Looting the chamber, they find treasure and a jeweled box they assume is the creature’s phylactery. They destroy it and loot the last two rooms of the dungeon.

In one of the rooms they find notes on the nature of the pillars. Each contains the souls of creatures the Spellweavers deemed important or knowledgeable. Using the notes as a guide, Whisper places her hands on the pillars, makes contact with the imprisoned souls and asks a few questions.

Here is what is revealed:

The Cagewrights threaten Cauldron and perhaps even the world. Their plan is to create a planar gate between the Prime Material Plane and the prison Plane of Carceri. The key to opening the gate lies in some ritual involving the Soul Cages and the Shackleborn. There are thirteen Cagewrights and they operate in or around cauldron. Whisper also learns that Lord Vhalantru is either a Cagewright or at the very least in league with the Cagewrights.

The group heads back to Cauldron. They receive a Sending from Jenya informing them their home was attacked and Yakov is missing. They think they know where he is and the Striders are mounting a rescue. The next day they receive another Sending, Jenya is sending a mage to get them and return them to Cauldron.

They arrive at the Temple and Jenya informs them the rescue did not go well, Fellian was captured and Yakov has disappeared completely, probably hidden by magic. They are also told of a gathering at house Rhiavaldi. Known criminals and other ne’er-do-wells have been gathering at the home for the better part of a week. The party takes charge of all rescue operations.

First they go to the last known location of Yakov and the current location of Fellian, the Last Laugh Guild House. The guild is currently holed up in an abandoned tavern called the Brass Trumpet. Their assault on the guild is practically flawless, only one of the guild members manages to escape by magical means, the rest fall to the might and magic of the heroes. Fellian is rescued, but there is no sign of Yakov.

Next stop, house Rhiavaldi.

End of Session 25.

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Session 24.
Secrets of the Soul Pillars.

Session 24

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (11th)/ Rogue (1st)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (12th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull (Splintershield) the Dwarven Cleric (12th)
  • Pete – Zartan of the Smoking Eye the Human Ranger (6th)/Rogue (5th)/Fighter (1st)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (12th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (11th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)
  • NPCKazmuk Splintershield the Dwarven Cohort, Favored Soul (10th)

The party continues to explore the ancient site, Karran-Kural. They encounter and defeat an Iron Golem that appears to be guarding a pit that descends to the next level.

In the lower level they encounter a human wizard that gives them some difficulty and compounds this when he escapes before they can kill him. He disappears to places unknown.

Continuing their exploration they encounter and defeat some type of bulbous extraplanar fiend that is dripping in acidic slime.

In a large room they find two pillars that seem to have been made from necrotic flesh guarded by a Fiendish Orc and a Bone Naga. Once the guardians are defeated the party examines the pillars. They are unable to determine anything useful just by looking at them, though they assume these are Soul Pillars.

The party enters a new room that contains a number of corpses frozen in place. Five Dwarves, five Elves and five Humans are covered head to toe in blue runes. Whisper examines them and learns that Karran-Kural was built to explore the fundamental connections that exist between the magical essences of death and cold.

The group rests overnight since Zartan managed to acquire six negative levels from a trap on the door. Once he’s back up to speed, the party continues its exploration.

They find themselves in a large domed chamber. A broken walkway extends about a third of the way around the room. Five massive columns of necrotic flesh are in the center of the chamber and a bridge made of ice extends out into the room.

On a platform on the opposite side of the room they see five…

End of Session 24.

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Session 23.
Secrets of the Soul Pillars

Session 23.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (11th)/ Rogue (1st)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (12th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull (Splintershield) the Dwarven Cleric (12th)
  • Pete – Zartan of the Smoking Eye the Human Ranger (6th)/Rogue (5th)/Fighter (1st)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (12th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (11th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)
  • NPC – Kazmuk Splintershield the Dwarven Cohort, Favored Soul (10th)

Continuing the assault, they search the entire first floor of the Temple. The only real interesting find is the body of Todd Vanderboren. They move on.

They enter the base of the tower and search it floor by floor. They find papers indicating that Ike Iverson has been running the Temple for about two months as the head of the order, Embril Aloustnai, has been away on business. What this business might be is left unstated.

On the second floor of the tower, in what appears to be the Embril’s quarters, they find a stack of letters exchanged between Embril and a man named Fetor Abradius. Most of the letters are brief reports that allude to a continuing and taxing search for something unnamed. Each letter concludes that all remains on schedule, but that the final answers still elude the searcher. One letter contains far more detail.

High Priestess,

As many have heard me say, the cages alone will not afford the completion of the ritual. The Cagewrights have built a matrix on which to support them, but due to the shortsightedness of the others, I have been left out of these discussions. You are my only ally amongst the thirteen now. You must warn them that there is more hidden in the Soul Pillars that could prove of great import to their plans. What more is needed I cannot say and so I continue to explore the mysteries of the Soul Pillars at great peril. Vitriss Bale grows ever more restless and the insanity that lies frozen in Karran-Kural begins to stir. Yet I shall remain here until the end, in hope of unveiling the last of the weaver’s hidden lore. Still the risk is great. My price has doubled.

F. Abradius.

At the top of the tower they finally confront Ike Iverson, his horde of Gray Render Zombies and a Bone Devil. He was obviously expecting them and is well prepared, but all his preparation was in vain as the party proceeds to tear him down, along with his carefully laid plans.

Hanging in the huge chamber they find another of the strange cages. This one, judging from the amount of magic radiating from it, is not a mere mock-up, but the real thing. It radiates strong abjuration, conjuration and necromancy magic as well as strong evil.

As the group leaves they encounter a patrol of guards sent to investigate the strange happenings at the temple. Sergeant Krewis, trusting the party’s judgment and noting the presence of the bodies of stone giants, accepts that the temple was up to no good.

The group meets with Jenya and learns that the group called the Striders has arrived. The party is introduced to Meerthan Eliothlorn, the half-elven leader of the Striders. They also meet Fario Ellegoth, Fellian Shard, two of his Half-Elven agents and Shensen Tesseril the Half-Drow they met during the unfortunate incident at the Lucky Monkey. It turns out she is also an agent of the Striders.

The party presents the information gathered at the Temple. Whisper notes that she has, in her studies of all things magical, heard the name Vitriss Bale before. She believes it refers to an ancient Green Dragon.

Jenya summons the temples most powerful Mage to inspect the cage. He casts Vision and receives the following information. The Artifact is called a Soul Cage and it is associated with the prison plane of Carceri. It was forged by a Fire Giant named Dugobras (very likely the one they killed in Vaprac’s Voice where they found and destroyed a similar, but nonmagical, cage) and created by a cleric named Grehlia Cairnus with the aid of three individuals named Triel Eldurast (the woman the party met and killed beneath cauldron when they where searching for the lost wands of Control Water) Skaven Umbermead (the Halfling Mage killed at the same location and responsible for the death of Thedruid and Shade) and Tarkilar (the gnoll that was found in an undead state and destroyed during that same escapade). It also reveals that the cage has ties to something called the Soul Pillars of Karran-Kural along with a short quote from an anonymous source, “An ancient hate stolen from the souls of the dead, the cage is but a key to a greater evil.”

Further study reveals that Karran-Kural refers to a site that was part of a great Spellweavers city that was destroyed during some type of interplanar mishap, the cataclysm that created the Demonskar. The Striders volunteer to investigate leads in Cauldron while the party investigates any clues that might be collected from Karran-Kural. Jenya gives them a scroll of Find the Path and her Mage teleports them to a site near the Demonskar where they can begin their search for Karran-Kural.

Their search quickly leads them underground to a series of lava tubes with a small river flowing through them. They find an entrance to a cavern through a partially melted wall of thick ice. The tunnel leads to a hall where metal panels glow with soft blue light and the air is frigid. A round of Resist Elements (cold) is doled out.

The party continues through a set of double doors where glass tubes seem to hold the well-preserved remains of six armed creatures identified by Whisper as Spellweavers. As they move down the hall, some of the corpses twitch and move, one even opening its mouth in what appears to be a silent scream. Through another set of double doors, they encounter an Ice Devil. It is a tough opponent, but the party prevails.

End of Session 23.

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Session 22.
Secrets of the Soul Pillars

Session 22

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (12th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (12th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (12th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (7th)/Rogue (5th)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (12th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (11th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)
  • NPC – Dwarven Cohort, Favored Soul (10th)

Token notices an invisible orb appear above Adamo’s head but he is unsure of its purpose. Moments later a group of individuals appears in their kitchen and attack. After a brief combat that involves a lot of Voracious Dispelling, the assassins are defeated. One is kept alive for questioning and dragged down to the basement.

The group heals him back to consciousness and fails utterly in putting “The Fear” into him, though various other things do, in fact, make it into him. They heal him back to consciousness once again and he insists he will deal only with the Paladin. The group finally agrees to his terms and they fetch the Paladin from the kitchen where she is baking an apple pie. After deciding it may be time to put ranks into Craft (Pastry), she heads downstairs.

The prisoner spills the beans within a Zone of Truth. It turns out that their attack was nothing personal, just business. They were mercenaries hired by Ike Iverson of the church of Wee-Jas (Goddess of Death and Magic) to kill the heroes. He doesn’t know why, nor does he care. He then promises to leave the area, never to be seen again if the Paladin will escort him to the edge of town. She does so and he seems true to his word.

The party meets with Jenya, she tells them she has learned the name of the group that is the source of the trouble in Cauldron is called the Cagewrights. Their plan possibly involves creating a Planar Junction. Information is hard to come by, as many of their divinations seem to be blocked for the most part, but she strives to find the right questions to ask.

She also informs them that she has no news on Flava as divinations seeking answers of his whereabouts also seem limited. She mentions that the boy they rescued so many months ago, Terrem, is missing once again and there are no clues as to his whereabouts either.

The party proceeds to inspect the grounds and Temple of Wee-Jas. In talking to a Paladin of Pelor that runs a small shrine overshadowed by the huge Temple of the goddess of Death and Magic they determine that there has been little activity at the temple. The high priestess is away and a few days ago some giant-sized creatures entered the temple.

The group buffs and busts in the front door. They quickly defeat a cleric, his three Half-Orc guards and two stone giant guards. They prepare to continue the infiltration of the Temple.

End of Session 22.

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Session 21
Test of the Smoking Eye

Session 21.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (11th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (11th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (11th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (7th)/Rogue (4th)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (11th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (10th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)

During their rest they receive a Sending from Jenya. “The Lord Mayor has disappeared. Evil is afoot. Please return as soon as possible. May the Hand of St Cuthburt guide and protect you.”

After preparing for another day of adventuring they enter the skull once more. After a brief battle with the Clay Golem it is finally destroyed and the cursed wounds it inflicted upon various party members are healed.

Knowing there is a Lich upstairs, the party cast some spells to magically enhance their movement. A few party members rush past the undead abomination as it stands within its protective column of negative energy and rush up the next set of stairs. It gets off a few spells with minimal effect as others run by and finally in an exasperated voice it calls out to the party, “Who are you People?”

A little diplomacy goes a long way and the party promises to let the undead being continue its research unhindered in exchange for passage to the next floor.

Once there they see yet another column of energy, only this time it’s a blood red column of energy that flows out of the socket of the massive skull and into the blood red sky of Occipitus.

The proctor appears and announces “Adimarchus, most potent ruler of Occipitus, bids you welcome to the final Test of the Smoking Eye. A worthy successor to the throne of Adimarchus must complete only one more task. To rule Occipitus – to grasp its power and use it for good or ill – means to sacrifice everything you hold dear. The final test is this: Sacrifice an ally to the plasma, and Occipitus is yours!”

Much discussion follows. There is talk of going back to drag the petrified remains of Kaurophon and casting him into the plasma. A few eyes are cast in Yakov’s direction and he nervously moves closer to his master. He then moves nervously away from his master.

Then talk turns to voluntarily entering the plasma and perhaps drawing straws. Finally the decision is made when Zartan steps forth and bravely volunteers to enter the plasma.

His party members are already laying claim to some of his equipment even as he removes it to step into the unholy flames. He steps in and his flesh burns with fire and unholy energy.

He feels the hand of death rip his soul for his disintegrating body. He finds himself floating in a realm he does not recognize, surrounded by what he identifies as avatars and servants of most, if not all, of the good aligned gods. They seem to be talking about him. The voice of Nidrama is heard, extolling those gathered of Zartan’s heroic deeds and service in the name of good. A loud voice speaks, “Then it is decided.”

The voices of those gathered ring out together, “It is our Wish that this human be returned from whence he came and fully restored to life so that he may continue in his quest against the evils that endanger the world.”

Zartan finds himself back with his friends. A wisp of bitter smoke rises from his left eye as it burns with the brightness of a candle but gives off no heat. He feels a subtle connection form with Occipitus and is able to draw on its power and protection. He knows he cannot yet exert control over the plane, but someday…

The other members of the party are only mildly disappointed as they hand him back his equipment. Their mission here finally complete, Zartan uses his connection to the Prime to Planeshift them back to their home plane.

They arrive near the re-established Lucky Monkey and rest for the night.

In the morning they travel to Cauldron. At the gate they see the town guard holding a discussion with what appears to be a cloaked female form. Behind this woman stands a huge creature that looks like a cross between a Minotaur and a Black Dragon. As it notices them it screams in rage, “You! You killed the Dragon Father! You have stolen my chance at revenge and for that you shall pay!”

Zartan quickly pieces it together. “By the gods this is yet another of the offspring of that damnable Black Dragon we met in the temple of the Kuo-Toa. I guess we should have known if he’d breed with a slimy Kuo-Toa he’d breed with anything.”

The huge creature quaffs a potion and charges. Around about the time the paladin and her mount find they must feign death to avoid the real thing, the party sees they are up against yet another heavy hitter. They quickly pile on the damage and a trio of Scorching Rays from Whisper finally drops the creature. They harvest the creature’s horns and equipment. Token labels Whisper as “The Bastard Slayer”. As this sounds more than a little like “The Bastards Lair” she is less than thrilled.

The group meets with the guards at the gate, Sergeant Krewis is there and seems genuinely pleased to see them. He tells them the latest news. The mayor has disappeared and Lord Vhalantru has taken over in the interim until a special election can be held. Taxes have skyrocketed and the guard has been flooded with “extra troops for security reasons”. These troops consist of Half-Orc mercenaries that seem to care little for the well being of the populous. The feeling in town is one of a city under extreme duress.

They meet with Jenya who tells them a similar tale. She informs them she has put out a call to all who might help, the heroes, the Chisel and a group known as the Striders. She hopes to have everyone together for an emergency meeting soon and will let the party know when.

The group returns to their home and almost immediately there is a knock on the door. A gaggle of Dwarves bearing the standard of the Splintershield Clan stands outside. They insist they are looking for Zenith and, after some confusing discussion, clarify that they are actually looking for the “Eldest son of Dahkved Splintershield”.

After even more very confusing discussions, it is realized that Bondar is the one they seek and he is labeled as the new lord of the Splintershield Clan and they are at his service. They inform him that they have purchased Keygan Ghelve’s Locks and hope to have the way to the Malachite Fortress cleared soon. The fortress shall be the seat of Splintershield power once more.

They also learn from these dwarves that Dahkved Splintershield is dead, he never journeyed to Cauldron to find his son and none of the Dwarves has seen or heard from Zenith since he left the Malachite fortress and ran off into the Underdark on his foolish crusade. The party quickly realizes it had been duped into finding and handing over Zenith for some unknown reason. Woe to those that fooled them should the heroes ever determine who it was.

Remembering the oft-true idiom, “Follow the Money”, the party decides to do a late night recon of City hall and attempt to steal the logbooks from the tax office. They are successful and return home to begin to pour over the complex tomes that contains the financial records of the cities bankroll. They find that the books would be a nightmare to comprehend even for a trained accountant. They settle in around the kitchen table, prepared for a late night of cumbersome deciphering and math. Someone at the table asks if anyone knows the cost of an abacus.

Eventually, they determine that a lot of the cities funds goes toward something called the Cauldron Defense Initiative. The costs associated with this program seem to be incredibly high and are not itemized or broken down in any way. Who runs this program and who receives its funding are not noted either.

They are about to call it a night, when all of a sudden…

End of Session 21.

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Session 20.
Test of the Smoking Eye

Session 20 Recap

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (10th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (10th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (10th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (7th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (11th)
  • Gretchen – Human Paladin (8th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)

After resting once more on Occipitus, the group encounters a large Black Dragon on the prowl. After a short battle, it is defeated. The party follows the path as directed by the lantern and arrives at the base of the massive skull in the center of the plane. There the beam of light shines directly at an ulcer-like bubbling pool of reddish smelly fluid. Next to it they find an angel-like being staked to the ground with iron shafts. They release the creature and, noticing that it still lives, heal it back to consciousness.

They note he is covered head to toe in thin scars that form an intricate pattern over his skin. He says his name is Saureya, thanks them for their help and offers to answer what questions he can.

He tells them he’s a fallen angel and in the past he helped Adimarchus create the test of the Smoking eye and that the test has a flaw, you only need to finish the third part, the first two just point the way. He also tells them only very powerful beings have any hope of controlling Occipitus. How powerful do you have to be? He’s not sure, but it’s something they may want to research.

He urges the group to hurry if they wish to catch up to the Rakshasa and his Fire Giant servant and then flies off, thanking them once again.

Swimming through the disgusting acid fluid the party finds themselves in a smooth tube-like hall that curves upward. They encounter the Rakshasa and the Fire Giant. Zartan is kept on his feet by copious amount of healing until the Fire Giant is finally defeated. The Rakshasa turns invisible and flees.

The group pursues it up the corridor until they lose sight of him and then finds themselves in a throne room under assault by a Clay Golem. Thinking they may bypass it (and not remembering clearly which part of the test this is, “Is this the test of resolve where you ignore your enemies?”) they run up a circular staircase that stands just north of the throne. At the top, standing in some type of negative energy nexus they see a Lich. The party decides to retreat as quickly as possible. Only the Golem chooses to give chase. They discover the acidic pool heals the Clay Golem as they swim out of the chambers.

Well hidden by the time the slow moving Golem emerges from the pool, Zartan observes the Clay Golem until it retreats back into the pool. With many in the group suffering from the cursed wounds inflicted by the Golem, the party decides to rest.

End of Session 20.

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Session 19.
Test of the Smoking Eye

Session 19.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (10th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (10th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (10th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (7th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (10th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)

Entering a room beyond, they find the proctor of the test holding a lantern.

“Heed the words of Adimarchus! You have passed the Test of Judgment. Attend to the wisdom of Adimarchus! Always deal with rivals first and enemies second.” He presents the group with a bulls-eye lantern hanging from a staff. Whisper accepts it as the mummy continues, “This lantern shall guide you to the second test: the Test of Resolve.” The mummy then disappears in a flash.

The heroes rest once more on the 507th layer of the Abyss. When they awake, they follow the beam of light from the lantern back out of the Cathedral of Feathers, rejoin Kaurophon and across the forsaken landscape. After a days worth of travel they find themselves at a plain covered with cyst-like growths. Kaurophon explains that the growths are the result of the plane of Occipitus trying to absorb the fallen celestials from the battle long ago.

The proctor reappears and speaks to Whisper, “Welcome to the Test of Resolve. For this test you have been designated as the Lantern Bearer.” The party decides to sleep on this information.

In the morning the group notices the lantern seems to illuminate a fifteen-foot wide path through the plain of cysts. They decide to follow the path. A short time later the group stops so Zartan can attempt to slice open one of the cysts. For some unknown reason the group finds themselves back at the beginning of the path. They try a few different things and each time they find themselves teleported back to the beginning. They are unable to determine exactly why this keeps happening.

They decide just to attempt the test and follow the path. A large eight-legged lizard attacks the group. During the battle Kaurophon and Token are petrified and Whisper and Bondar are teleported back to the beginning. The creature is eventually killed and Bondar uses his magic to restore Token.

A short time later, the group encounters a huge spider-like construct. It is a long battle during which many things happen. Zartan is killed and Whisper, Token and Adamo are teleported back to the beginning once more. A Hound Archon and a Tauren fighter offer their assistance but the creature quickly kills the Hound Archon. There is a lot of running away strategic repositioning until the bulk of the party is finally reunited and the creature is at long last destroyed. After this encounter the party has an epiphany. It would appear that Whisper, the Lantern Bearer, must keep moving along the path or she (and those close to her) will be sent back to the beginning. The sound of five palms hitting five foreheads echoes across the plane.

The group rests after which Bondar raises Zartan from the dead. The group sets out once more with their new understanding of the parameters of the test. Ahead they see a winged serpent encased in a cyst. It seems to twitch. They cut it free and heal it. The Couatl thanks them for their assistance, tells them to call on him if they need help and plane-shifts away. Whisper just keeps moving.

A short time later, the party comes across a small group of humans excavating one of the cysts. The only female looks up from the skull she holds in her hands and yells to her male companions, “Kill them!”

The combat is short as the heroes easily defeat the small group. Whisper does not take part in the melee. Instead she focuses on moving along the path. Searching the remains the party finds a few magic items as well a holy symbol of Wee-Jas on the female.

Finally they reach the apparent end of the maze-like path and step into a large circle at the end. They are teleported to a clearing in a fibrous forest where the proctor awaits.

“Heed the words of Adimarchus! You have passed the Test of Resolve. Attend to the Wisdom of Adimarchus! Let neither riches nor weaponry, neither allies nor enemies tempt you from your course. Instead spread such distractions before your rivals. The lantern shall guide you to the final test: the Test of Sacrifice. Your ascension to the throne draw nigh!”

The party decides to sleep on this information.

End of Session 19.

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Session 18.
Test of the Smoking Eye

Session 18 Recap.

  • Adam B. – Adamo Preda the Catfolk Swashbuckler (9th)
  • Adam J. – Token the Catfolk Warlock (9th)
  • Ben – Bondar Ironskull the Dwarven Cleric (9th)
  • Pete – Zartan the Human Ranger (6th)/Rogue (3rd)
  • Seth – Whisper the Human Duskblade (10th)
  • NPCYakov Smirnoff the Goblin manservant, Warrior (1st)/Scout (6th)

The characters rest overnight in the desert and in the morning Kaurophon Planeshifts them to Occipitus. Once there, he tells them their destination is the Cathedral of Feathers, an ancient Cathedral left over from when this region was part of Celestia and the location of the first part of the Test of the Smoking Eye.

On the way they are confronted by a demon that speaks a Blasphemous word, causing the heroes to be Weakened, Dazed and Banished back to the Prime Material Plane. After resting overnight on the prime Kaurophon once again Planeshifts them back to Occipitus.

They finally reach the Cathedral where they face and defeat two Driders, a Succubus, a Noble Salamander and their summoned Huge Fire Elemental. They also find an enchanted library where they are assaulted by flying books.

Once downstairs they find a mummy. Apparently the mummy is the proctor of the first test. He welcomes them to the Test of Judgment and tells the heroes that beyond one of the two side doors in the room is an angel and behind the other is a demon, they must choose a door and defeat the occupant.

They choose the demon, a Bebilith. The huge spider-like beast proves difficult to defeat. It is finally killed but not before Bondar and Token are both poisoned. The secondary effect of the poison kills Token but he is revivified.

End of Session 18.

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