View Full Version : We Ate the Real PCs - Cairn of the Winter King With Monsters

2014-10-13, 10:42 AM
Just started a fun little monster campaign here, with only the DM and me. We are playing fast & loose with the rules - we're 3.5 characters running a 4e campaign (Cairn of the Winter King) and our characters are nowhere near the right ECL for the campaign (or probably for each other). But it's still lots of fun.

Our characters:

Szsthrar'kek, my character, is a level 5 illithid telepath, Chaotic Evil alignment. Unbeknownst to me, my grub was placed in a drow host, and I preserved a bit more of my host's personality than I should have, making me Chaotic. I always tried to hide it and fit in, but then adventurers attacked my town and managed to capture and question me. I immediately cut a deal and betrayed the Elder Brain's location in exchange for them letting me go. Unfortunately for me, the other illithids managed to destroy the adventurers, and figured out pretty quick that I'd betrayed my people. I fled before they killed me, and ended up exiled to the surface world.

Gum-Gum & Thrak, our DMPC, is an 8 year old (teenage) level 3 two-headed troll (ettin/troll hybrid) fighter, Chaotic Evil alignment, with a sweet "hug 'em and squeeze 'em" disposition. They were orphaned by some unspecified calamity shortly before they found Szsthrar'kek, near death from dehydration. They felt sorry for my character and helped me, giving me the water I was begging for. Once I'd recovered, Gum-Gum and Thrak readily agreed to travel with me and protect me from danger, mainly because they were lonely.

The first session:

In the Cairn of the Winter King, an unseasonable winter, complete with howling storms that never end, has come across the land. The goal for the PCs is to stop the winter somehow.

The campaign has several suggested plot hooks, but all of them require talking to people who'd most likely run screaming at the sight of us, so we made up our own. Three adventurers - a barbarian, a fighter and a wizard - were sent by Lord Padraig of Winterhaven (which, ironically, has not yet been hit by the unseasonable winter storms, but they're expanding fast) to figure out what caused the storm and stopped it.

Unfortunately for them, they ran into two monsters unexpectedly caught out in the storm. I questioned them about their purpose, and then I ate their brains, Gum-Gum and Thrak ate the rest of them, and we looted their stuff. Two of the guys had belts of Cold Resistance, so we each put them on. (I think Gum-Gum and Thrak are wearing theirs as an armband or something.) The fighter and barbarian both had (Medium) two-handed axes, which GG&T are using as (Large) one-hands. Being part ettin, they can freely dual-wield with no penalties - Gum-Gum controls one, and Thrak controls the other. I looted a spellbook I can't use (despite having knowledge of the arcane, I'm not a spellcaster myself), a Ring of Feather Fall, and a tangler - an enchanted whip that has no damage but can grab like an extra tentacle. Then, since the guys revealed the presence of a town nearby, we decided to head towards it in search of shelter and a food source.

Just out of town, I started getting really cold, so we stopped to make camp. Gum-Gum & Thrak are carrying a pack and a chest full of a whole bunch of stuff and are still well below their maximum load, so they pulled out a tent from the pack and we set it up, then went inside to rest and warm up. We ended up falling asleep for a bit.

This is where the play session actually started. We get awoken by chanting and creaking and such going on outside our tent. I tell GG&T to be quiet, then peek out. Since the sound seems to be coming from above, I look up, and see a boat flying through the sky, oars rowing through the air. It lands a bit away from our tent, and I immediately try to detect thoughts in that direction. As a fairly large army of undead (immune to detect thoughts) disembark, I discover one thinking mind, Int 3, who is thinking over and over about how it needs to get back the ice scepter stolen from the Winter King, or the winter will never end. Meanwhile, GG&T have carefully stepped over me to stand in front of the tent, and I step out behind them.

We proceed to have a fairly brutal curbstomp fight, in which they deal a total of 8 damage to Gum-Gum and Thrak (who regenerate it in two rounds), while I stand around ineffectually watching GG&T destroy them, until I realize mind blast isn't technically considered mind-affecting. I stun a bunch of the undead, and then kill two with finger of fire while GG&T kill the rest. In total, I think he killed about 15 of them.

Then, since I detected thoughts in the general direction of the boat, I approach it. As soon as I get near the boat, the masthead (a carved dragon head) animates and says that the ice scepter must be returned to the Winter King or this winter will never end. And then it asks:

Masthead: Do you have the ice scepter?
Szsthrar'kek hesitates, then says: Yes, we do. (I was curious to see what the boat would do if we lied.)
Gum-Gum: But we don't have the ice scepter.
Szsthrar'kek: Don't tell him that!
Thrak: Yeah. Gum-Gum, why you so dumb? (This is Thrak's catch phrase, by the way.)

The masthead is fooled, despite Gum-Gum's interference, and instructs us to climb on. It asks us if we have enough people to row, and we say yes. (This encounter was supposed to happen in the middle of the nearby town, and the PCs are supposed to recruit a bunch of townsfolk to help row, but I figure GG&T can row enough for several townsfolk.) GG&T get on the boat and it creaks and tilts towards them, so I instruct them to sit in the middle of the boat, and they grab several oars in each hand and start rowing. I also grab an oar. The boat climbs back into the air, with the masthead guiding it while we row. It starts to turn very slightly to one side, so I switch to the other side to row, and then decide to take a break. (Note: I don't remember the next sequence of events completely, but I'll reconstruct it as best I can.)

Then the ride starts to get rough. It's bitterly cold, but our Belts of Cold Resistance protect us. (GG&T could've probably handled it anyway, since his Constitution is very high.) We get pelted by hail, but take no damage because of our belts. Then we see a whirlwind ahead, and I figure out a safe path to it, and go to tell the masthead. Unfortunately, the masthead seems to be unconscious. I realize (Arcana check) that a gem in the masthead was loosened by the storm, and push it back into place. The masthead wakes up, and I convince it to turn for the safe path. (It cares nothing for our lives, and the storm can't hurt it, but I point out that it can't bring the ice scepter to the Winter King if we die.)

We get through that patch, but it's not over. I think we get pelted with a bit more hail, and then one of the ropes for the rigging breaks. The masthead orders us to re-attach it. I try to climb up the masthead and slip on the ice, then fail my Constitution check and get a bit of frostbite on my fingers (4 damage). I try again, and this time I succeed. GG&T throw the broken rope up to me and miss, and I hold on as they try again. They succeed this time, and I retie it and come back down. Then GG&T have to row extra hard to recover the lost altitude. (Strangely enough, this is listed as a Swim check.)

Next comes the scariest bit. A powerful gust of wind catches the boat, and I fail my Balance check and fall off. I manage to grab a bit of the railing, but it starts to break. Just as it breaks off, Gum-Gum or Thrak (can't remember which one), let go of the oars and grabbed the broken piece of rail to haul me in. I use my improved grapple check and grip of iron to hold onto that thing for dear life, and GG&T get me back on. Shaken by my experience, I decide to hide inside the chest. I find one of our waterbags and try to moisten by parched skin (illithids are moist-skinned, like amphibians), but the water inside is frozen solid. So I just hunker down.

But I don't get to rest for long. Soon, I hear the unmistakeable sound of the rigging breaking again. I get out of the chest and start trying to climb the mast. This time, I repeatedly fail my Climb check, though luckily my belt protects me from any further frostbite. I finally make it, GG&T throw the rope and I catch and tie it, and then I come back down while they once again row furiously to regain lost altitude. I hide back inside the chest and use lesser body adjustment to heal my frostbite.

At this point, GG&T have had enough, and decide to row as hard as they can. The boat speeds through the air, the masthead begging them to slow down. But it steers fine, and we make it. The boat lowers down into a wet snowbank next to an enormous glacier filled with frozen corpses. (Including a giant, and even an illithid skull - I think the DM wanted our characters to be nervous.) Beneath the glacier, there's a passageway.

Still feeling parched, I roll in the snow a bit, coping with the cold just fine. I stand at the entrance and try to detect thoughts, but find nothing. Then we head in, GG&T going first. We find a door that's frozen shut, with the most delicious smells coming through it. I smell (or smell-taste, since I don't have a nose) fresh brains, GG&T smells yummy pork. They're eager to go in, but I make them wait and detect thoughts at the door. I find nothing, and we cautiously enter to see a banquet of our favourite foods laid out. Two dogs, a beautiful woman, and a kingly man are inside. (They were angled wrong to be in the cone for detect thoughts, so I missed them.)

The man greets us and asks if we have the ice scepter. Keeping to my lie, I say I do, and this time GG&T stay quiet. He asks us to give him the scepter, and invites us to eat and share stories of the world outside and what he's missed during his long sleep. GG&T are all for the 'eating' part, but I tell them to wait, and ask the guy how long he was asleep. He doesn't know how long it was, but it was a very long time. I ask him what he was doing before he fell asleep, and the woman interrupts to say that's private.

I'm getting really suspicious, having made a couple pretty good Sense Motive checks to realize the guy's hiding something. GG&T want to eat, but I tell them to wait. I casually touch the nearest table and use object reading to figure out who it used to belong to. I make my Concentration check to dispense with the usual display, so the guy doesn't know I'm doing this, and I soon learn that the owner of the chair is male, several thousand years old, and looks like an undead version of the guy in front of me. I stop at this point, then touch a plate. It belonged to a female elf, young adult, who I've never seen before. She was Chaotic Good. Then I get to the round where I find out how she gained and lost this object. For 'gained', I see her birth, and for 'lost', I see her getting unexpectedly hit on the head by something metal.

I puzzle over this for awhile, then suddenly realize that the 'plate' probably is the elf, or at least part of her. She gained it at birth, and lost it at death. I tell GG&T that we're not eating here.

Immediately, the illusion breaks. The food and cutlery turn into the gory remnants of previous adventurers (the plate was actually entrails), the woman turns out to be a gnome, and the dogs are Large vicious-looking wolves. The guy looks unchanged. (This surprises me - I was expecting him to look undead underneath the illusion.) Not expecting the illusion to break so abruptly, we are flat-footed. The guy jumps on the back of one of the wolves, riding it expertly while both wolves charge and viciously bite me. I'm instantly down to very low hp, and knocked prone. Meanwhile, the guy attacks GG&T, but does no damage. Then I feel a probing in my mind as the gnome attacks, but I expertly visualize myself as an octopus brutally devouring the tendrils of her power, and easily stop the attack. (Very high Will save.) She looks shocked, having seen my visualization. Meanwhile, I'm screaming for GG&T to help me because wolves are savaging me.

GG&T's turn comes up, and they pick me up and toss me sprawling behind them, then obliterate one of the wolves. I stand up, then aim a mind blast past GG&T to stun the guy and the wolf he's riding on. The gnome tries again to attack my mind and fails. Next turn, I use lesser body adjustment to heal so I'm not one failed Will save away from death, while GG&T kill the stunned guy. The gnome panics and flees. I consider chasing, but I'm badly hurt and tired, and the illusionary smell has made me pretty hungry. GG&T hold the wolf still for me as I extract its brain. (Being a Large creature, it's quite a meal.) Then GG&T skin the wolf and eat part of it. We notice some nice, comfy-looking beds, but I realize (Knowledge arcana) that they're cursed to give us horrible nightmares, and insist we sleep on the floor instead. We both wrap ourselves up in the still-bloody wolfskin and go to sleep.

2014-10-13, 02:03 PM
This campaign sounds morbidly amusing.

2014-10-20, 09:11 PM

We woke up, fully refreshed, and decided to go down the door the gnome illusionist had fled through. We found a long hallway, with our darkvision revealing three doors on the right and one on the left (the left one was across from the furthest right one). The left door and the first and third right ones were very big, well-built and closed, while the middle right door was ajar, showing what looked like alchemy supplies. The ceiling on the hallway was uncomfortably low for Gum-Gum and Thrak, requiring them to hunch over. (They're 13 feet tall, the ceiling was only 10 feet.) Szsthrar'kek recognized the design of the hallway and doors as dwarven-made (Knowledge dungeoneering).

First, Szsthrar'kek headed into the alchemy lab, and found three frozen health potions. I stuffed them in the inner pockets of my robe to thaw against my body. Seeing nothing else of interest, I went back to the first right-side door. It was a wooden door, and when I tried it, I found it was locked. I moved out of the way and asked GG&T to smash the door down, which they did easily.

As soon as we moved to head inside, however, three dwarven guardsmen ghosts attack. They are whispering what sounds like Common, but when I try to make it out, it causes a horrible pain in my head. (I took a small amount of damage for this.) Two of them phase into the walls on either side of Gum-Gum and Thrak, while the third phases past the doorway to stand in the hall.

Before we can react, one of them attacks Gum-Gum and Thrak. Suddenly, to my surprise, GG&T turn around and bash me hard with an axe. (Fortunately for me, they were doing a simple attack instead of a power attack, and they'd gotten a bad roll - otherwise they might have one-shot me.) As their minds clear, they realize what they've done and apologize profusely, while I hastily back away (I was at about half-health at this point). They attack the one visible ghost and kill him pretty easily, while I mind blast the one in the wall nearest to me. He's stunned now, but I'm still scared the remaining one will sic GG&T on me again. Meanwhile, the non-stunned ghost hurts GG&T with his whispering, and slides them back out of the doorway (and closer to me, much to my consternation).

GG&T can't see the two in the walls, and even though they saw them phase into there, they have no clue where they went (Int 5 - incorporeal enemies have got them really confused). I try to explain, telling them to smash the wall so they can hit the guys more easily. (The wall is hewn stone, but I figure GG&T are strong enough to do it.) But they get really confused, until finally I claim that the ghost is hiding in a tiny house inside the wall. This convinces them, and they set their axes down to avoid damaging them and start punching the wall. Meanwhile, I crawl under them to get to the other side, and brain lock the non-stunned ghost because mind blast is on cooldown. (To keep Szsthrar'kek from being too overpowered, we went off a source thing about illithids that claims they have a cooldown of 3-6 rounds on mind blast.)

I try lashing out at the ghost's mind, but it does a paltry amount of damage and I realize he'll be nowhere near dead when the brain lock wears off (five rounds because I'm fifth level). So I decide to lesser dominate him instead. He fails his will save, and now, with two rounds to go on his brain lock, he's dominated for the next five days. I spend the next two rounds healing myself, and glance over to see GG&T have broken enough to reveal the mind blasted ghost, but are ignoring him to punch more of the wall.

Szsthrar'kek: Gum-Gum, Thrak, stop punching the wall and attack the ghost!
Gum-Gum or Thrak (can't remember which): But we didn't find the little house yet.
Szsthrar'kek: You broke the little house. See, the ghost is right there! Attack him!

They pretty much one-shot that ghost, just when I was about to sic my dominated ghost on his friend. So instead, I make him stand aside as we head in. (This command goes against the ghost's nature, so he fights it, but fails his second Will save.) Inside, we find a circle of runes, which I immediately recognize as a teleportation circle. Unfortunately, it can only be used as a destination, so we can't go zip off who-knows-where. But I'm thinking this might be useful if I decide to take over this dungeon and set up my base here. My racial plane shift ability normally has very poor accuracy for where exactly I appear on a plane, but if I aimed for this thing, I would get there easily. Meanwhile, the ceiling's high enough that GG&T get a good stretch.

I tell the ghost to guard this thing and attack anyone who isn't the two of us (almost the same as what he'd have done anyway), and then we leave.

We go towards the last door on the right (the hallway extends further, but we don't see any more doors in sight), and as we approach, we hear a feeble woman's voice calling for help. The door is made of iron and covered in bars, so I peek through, but see nothing. I aim a detect thoughts in the direction of the voice, and find three minds, one with Int 2 and two with Int 18. I stand back and get GG&T to rip the door apart.

Inside, we find a well and bunch of cages. Most of the cages contain dead guys (kind of resembling the undead who were on the boat, but apparently dead-dead rather than undead). One cage contains a large, furry creature who seems to be sleeping curled-up in a ball, and the other contains two starved-looking women. One of them whimpers in fear at the sight of us, while the other begs us for help, with the same voice we heard outside.

I talk to them, and the woman says she's the Winter Queen and the king betrayed her and has been keeping her prisoner. She seems legit, and I don't want to waste power points on my inquisitor feat when I'm pretty sure I can spot a lie anyway. She tells me the cowering woman in the cage with her is her sister, who has been working as her handmaiden. I drink a bit from the well as I'm talking to them, and contemplate throwing water on the animal to wake it up and get a better look at it, but the queen convinces me not too. She tells me it's an owlbear the king was planning on cooking up for dinner, and the noise it would make would interfere with our conversation. We talk a bit, and she says if I get her the scepter she can stop the winter, as could anyone in the royal family. I comment that her sister could probably do it, too. She agrees, but says her sister doesn't know how. I say we don't really need her then, and ask if she'd be OK with me and GG&T having her sister for a snack. She strenuously objects, so I decide to keep her sister around so I don't antagonize the queen, because she might be useful. I also admit that we don't actually have the scepter.

Queen: Then how did you get here?
Szsthrar'kek: Courtesy of an easily-fooled boat.

She has no idea who might have taken the scepter, but says it would be a better idea to kill the Winter King first and fetch the scepter later, because the Winter King might take the scepter away from us and use it against us, which would make him a lot more powerful. So, we head out and get the two of them to lead us towards the Winter King's throne room. Meanwhile, the handmaiden keeps flinching and whimpering in fear from us, and I'm getting really annoyed by this and contemplating ways to kill her without her sister realizing it was me. To pass the time, I ask about their combat abilities. The Queen tells me she has ice magic, while her handmaiden wields a knife.

We've almost made it to the throne room when I hear a sound. I look to see a half-elf sneaking along, and expecting him to try to run, I immediately mind blast him. While he's stunned, I search him and find the ice scepter on him (DM tells me OOC that he stole it, realized what he'd done and was trying to return it) as well as an ordinary sword. I put the ice scepter in GG&T's bag, and then ask the queen if she knows this guy and if she'd object at all to us eating him. She says she's fine with it, so I extract his brains, and the GG&T eat his body raw. The handmaiden faints.

After our meal, I'm trying to decide what to do with the sword. I ask the queen if it's better than her handmaid's knife, and she says yes. So I head over to the (still-fainted) handmaiden and slap her with a tentacle to wake her up. She wakes up and cowers beneath me, and I hand her the sword. "Wield this. It's better than your knife."

Next, we head into the Winter King's throne room. Inside, there's a shimmering pool filled with shadowy faces, and a bridge made of ice over it, which also has shadowy faces in it, whispering for us to beware the Winter King. Across the pool, we see a long-dead guy wearing a crown, frozen in a block of ice on a throne, with a carved-out bit of the ice where the scepter would easily fit into his hand. We cross the bridge with difficulty, and seeping energy from the bridge injures both of us, but leaves the queen and handmaiden unhurt. I call out to the dead guy.

Szsthrar'kek: You're the Winter King, presumably?
Winter King: I am. Kneel before me!
Szsthrar'kek: Why should I? I'm not a subject of yours.
Winter King: All must kneel before me!
Szsthrar'kek: Whatever. Do you want your ice scepter back, or not?
Winter King: Give it to me.
Szsthrar'kek: What will you give me in return?
Winter King: I will spare your lives.

With this, Gum-Gum and Thrak roar and run up the steps to the throne, then rip out a pillar near the throne and wave it around menacingly (Intimidate check). I tell the Winter King that he'd better think up a decent offer, or my friend will destroy him. He seems cowed by this, and offers me a job as his general. I figure he's being sincere (Sense Motive) but I doubt I'd like taking orders from him. I indicate the queen behind me.

Szsthrar'kek: Your Queen says if I kill you and give her the ice scepter, she'll stop the winter. Why should I chose you over her?
Winter King: I have no Queen.

I figure he's just mad at her. I suggest he give me some lands to rule on my own terms, not taking orders from him, and he hesitates, and suddenly winces in pain. I realize that he's held together by his willpower, and making him waver in his intentions has injured him. But then he breaks apart the ice and stands up, ready to attack. I glance back at the queen and handmaiden, to see if they're ready to fight, and see that they've been replaced by that gnome woman who escaped me (handmaiden) and another gnome like her (queen). (Yes, they successfully Bluffed an illithid with a +10 to Sense Motive - I really should've used inquisitor on them.) The owlbear and the dead guys (who turn out to have been undead after all) are there with them, all ready to attack.

I shout out a warning to GG&T, who are still waving around their pillar. They run to the stairs and throw the pillar down. It smashes through several zombies and breaks against the owlbear, with flying shards of pillar taking out the rest of the zombies. Meanwhile, a burst of ice magic comes out of the pillar and freezes the owlbear solid. "My ice scepter!" The Winter King yells, and attacks GG&T.

The gnomes run around making clones and teleporting and attacking us with mind attacks, while the Winter King phased through both of us and did a bunch of ice damage to us and knocked us prone. Despite my belt of Cold Resistance, I was really low health at this point. I also failed a Will save against one of the gnome's attacks, which did a bunch of damage as well. Then, a lash of ice power from the king got me into negative hit points.

GG&T got up and smacked the Winter King across the room, killing a pile of gnome clones. Then they noticed me lying there dying on the floor. "Daddy!" (Yeah, they call Szsthrar'kek Daddy.) They cried out, and ran over to me. They fumbled in my robes, threw my stolen spellbook haphazardly across the room, brought out a partly defrosted health potion, and forced the slush down my throat. I regained consciousness and told them to put me in their backpack. They did it a bit too roughly, causing me a bit of damage, but not enough to make me lose consciousness again.

As I hid in their backpack GG&T rush over and smack one of the gnomes, and luckily gets a real one. (The pseudo-queen.) The Winter King rushes him, and he gets an attack of opportunity and disintegrates the guy. Then the last gnome and all her clones flee. I ready a mind blast, and as soon as GG&T have moved to pursue the gnomes, I unleash it. I get all but one gnome, who gets away. GG&T destroy the others and find out that they're all clones (of course). Once again, I'm too wounded to chase after that gnome, even though I'm really mad at her.

I heal a bit, then notice that when the Winter King disintegrated, he left his crown. I check it over and find out nothing useful, then sit in the throne with the scepter and ask GG&T how I look. They comment that the throne is too big for me. (The Winter King was Large.) I laugh and agree, notice that it's gotten a little bit warmer, and then put the crown on. "How do I look now?" I ask. I notice that wearing the crown has made me feel a lot warmer - the crown confers a bunch of cold resistance. We decide to rest, and snuggle up together on the throne.

2014-10-23, 09:05 AM
A lot has happened in the past session.

So, last time, we'd just beaten the Winter King. We wake up to find that everything is thawing. The ice bridge we came over on has melted, leaving just a lake full of unhappy souls that would probably do something bad to anyone who's dumb enough to fall in. So, can't get out that way. Luckily, a tapestry made of ice on the wall is also melting, revealing a secret passage behind it. We easily break the tapestry and go through the passage (which fits Gum-Gum & Thrak, since the Winter King was Large).

It leads to a bathroom in the Winter King's private chambers, full of melting ice furniture. We hear voices nearby, and I notice a peephole and look through it to see a conference room with two humans, four tieflings and a gnome (not the one who conned me and got away). They're discussing what to do. I detect thoughts and the ones who failed their will saves reveal to me that they know the Winter King is dead and they've been frozen for a very long time, and they're trying to decide what to do now.

I go out into a nearby hallway and go around to find the entrance to the room. I meet a human guard at the entrance, who seems pretty surprised to see an illithid and a two-headed troll. I explain that we killed the Winter King, and we understand that those guys are looking for a new job. I'm thinking of setting up this dungeon as my home base, and I'd like some employees. He leads me in to talk to the rest of them, while GG&T wait in the doorway (completely blocking it).

I negotiate with the guys, and things are mostly going well, but the gnome hid when I came in and I'm not sure where he is. Somehow, he makes it behind me and tries to backstab me, but Gum-Gum & Thrak react in time and take the blow themselves (Reflex save). I immediately turn around and brain lock him, and then GG&T hold him still while I eat his brain. GG&T eat the rest of him.

With that done, we turn to the rest. I explain that I won't tolerate attacks on me, but if they don't want to be employed by me, they can leave the mountain in peace. If they do agree to work for me, I will not harm them, as long as they stay loyal to me. They all agree to work for me, and I conduct job interviews. They wait outside with GG&T and I call them in one by one, ask each of them their name and useful skills, and then asking them to let me read their mind (deliberately fail the Will save for detect thoughts). One of the humans is imagining the two female tieflings engaging in kinky sex with my tentacles, but my character is just mildly amused by that. Another human is nervously cracking jokes with me (how many tickles does it take to make an illithid laugh? ten tickles!) which I chuckle at. Each of them are hired.

Last is one of the tiefling women, who introduces herself as Shakiro. Just as I'm about to ask her what skills she has, she flings a dagger at me. "This is for Pumi!" She yells. I pull out the dagger, heal myself, and yell for Gum-Gum and Thrak. They come in and one-shot her. (Not hard, since the tieflings in this bunch only have 1hp.)

We give each of the surviving guys a meal of rations (GG&T are carrying an enormous amount of rations), and then go in search of more minions. In the blacksmithy, we find a tiefling guy with fire-based powers named Anger, two blazing skeletons, and an ogre named Throk. The ogre is easily lured by the promise of food, and Anger agrees to work for me because this place is his home and he doesn't want to leave it. He controls the two skeletons, so they come with him. Anger tells me he was ordered to thaw the furnace so it could work, and he was finding that a very difficult job, but now that the Winter King is dead it'll thaw on its own. He also gives me a fire key, which is painfully hot to the touch, and I store it inside the empty potion jar.

Next, I check out the kitchens. There are three dwarves, a cold and cranky human caster guy, and some kind of monster in a pit. I talk to the dwarves and human, and the dwarves refuse to work for me and leave, while the human guy agrees. His name is Ravide the Black, and he's a transmuter, which seems to mean turning things into other things. I give him some rations, then check out the monster in the pit. It's an otyugh, and I stay well back because it wouldn't hesitate to try to eat me. Ravide says they use it for garbage disposal because it'll eat pretty much anything. I check out it's thoughts - it makes its' Will save, but an Int of 1 convinces me that it's not going to plot against me. I toss in some rations, which it devours eagerly.

Next, we go down a hallway and find a room full of frozen guys, including a frozen white dragon. The dragon has an ice key on a chain around its neck, so, curious, I take it. Immediately, the dragon awakens. He's about to attack, but I try to mindlink with him and he accepts, so I negotiate with him. He's willing to work for me if I pay him, so I give him 100gp and some rations, and we go on our merry way.

As we're going down the hall, I hear some humans guys talking about wanting to ambush the intruders and bring them to the Winter King for questioning. There's a pair of low, deep voices saying 'kill, kill', and at first the humans try to tell them that they're not supposed to kill the intruders, but then they relent.

We round the corner and see four barbarians and an ettin. Gum-Gum and Thrak's faces light up, and they start talking to the ettin in Giant. I catch the word 'illithid', and some laughter. I ask GG&T what they said. Gum-Gum tells me the ettin's names are Thunk and Thad, that they'll join us for food, and that they think my head looks funny. "Gum-Gum, why you so dumb? You're not supposed to tell the person whose head looks funny that their head looks funny." I laugh and tell them that to me, their heads look funny. Then I turn to the barbarians. Three of them agree to work for me, and the fourth, Winewald, seems to agree, but it's hard to tell because he's insane and both his speech and thoughts are quite disjointed (he talks like if you let autocomplete run wild). The other three barbarians all agree that "That's Winewald. He's always been like that." I give them each rations and direct them to where the others have gathered.

In the next room, we find three raised portcullises, with a lever and a door on the other side. I levitate up to examine the portcullis mechanism, but as I crawl along the ceiling, I trigger a bunch of darts and get poisoned. The portcullises also fall. I call Gum-Gum & Thrak to come help me out, but they get sliced up by a whirling blade trap and then fall down a trapdoor into a pit just barely big enough to fit them. I sit on their shoulders and remove their backpack and levitate it up to help them wriggle free, but when they pull themselves out, they trigger a second blade trap and get hurt more. (Not a big concern, given their regeneration.) I hide in the pit (seems to be the only safe place around here) and shake off the poison, then heal myself. Gum-Gum and Thrak discover that they're strong enough to raise the nearby portcullis, and it clicks back into place. Then they make their way to the lever and try to pull it to the side, but accidentally break it instead. The portcullises all close, the trapdoor shuts over my head and traps me in the pit, and water starts trickling into the pit.

I'm panicking a little, but I know I can plane shift out of there and probably make it back to the portal in the room with the wraith. I'd rather not do that, though, so I try to talk Gum-Gum and Thrak through rescuing me. They try to raise the portcullis, but they're wedged against the wall and can't get leverage. I suggest they go for the door, and they discover it's locked. There's some writing in Dwarven on the wall, using a script used by both Giants and Dwarves, so Gum-Gum and Thrak can make out a few words of it, including something about a dwarf and something about a giant's head. There's also a set of four rolling things that can be used to enter a four-letter word in that script. I suggest they try four-letter-words in giant, and they think of 'head', and it works. However, it's clear the mechanism needs two words to be entered, and none of the four-letter words GG&T can think of are working.

I ponder the issue (water up to my knees by now) and realize the second word is probably in Dwarven (I'm thinking maybe 'head' in Dwarven). I start trying to get Gum-Gum and Thrak to think of four-letter Dwarven words, but they don't know any. I get them to think of all the Dwarven words they know (a short list) and tell me the Dwarven and Giant versions of those words. It's clear the two languages are related, and dwarves often use 'k' where giants use 'g'. Unfortunately, the Giant word for head has a k and no g, so that doesn't help me. With water up to my chest, I realize that we have a sample of dwarven words right in from of GG&T, and ask them if any of the words they don't recognize in that passage are four letters long. They say there are two four-letter words, and I tell them to try those two. The first one works.

With the door open, Gum-Gum and Thrak can stand in the doorway and open the portcullis. They toss their pack at the pit, while I flatten against the wall of the pit. The bag triggers the pit trap to open, and I climb out carefully, then levitate the pack out. I'm just strong enough to drag the levitating pack along with me, and we get to the door and lever. I check over the lever, and realize it's not broken - it's designed to come undone if handled wrong, as yet another trap. I put it back together and slide it to one side to raise the portcullises again, and to the other side to reset the pit traps. Then we go into the room beyond, and find that it's a treasury. We notice one pile of 500 gold coins are set aside from the rest in a big pile, and have a few discarded white scales mixed in with them - obviously our dragon's hoard. The rest is organized and seems to have belonged to the Winter King. We start to gather it up to carry off, but then realize this is a pretty secure place to store it. We can see only two ways in - one that can only be accessed by flying (obviously how the dragon gets in), and a trapdoor that I can fit in but GG&T can't. The trapdoor leads into the sewers, and I follow it to find myself back in the Winter King's bathroom. I return and tell Gum-Gum and Thrak to go back through the traps (they can regenerate, after all) and I'll meet them in the Winter King's quarters. We do so.

We explore a bit more, but don't find anyone else of interest. Since we have two keys, and that deceiving gnome had told me something about the keys unlocking a temple of Moradin, we go find that temple. At the temple, I see a ghostly dwarf frantically trying to tell me something, but he's unable to speak. He seems to be gesturing towards a couple of keyholes, so I hold up the ice key, and he points to one keyhole. I put the key in there and the door to the temple opens, revealing a mass of ice completely covering the alter. The ice key vanishes I take out the fire key (which burns me a bit) and put it in the other keyhole, and the ice melts while the fire key vanishes. I see a dead dwarf, obviously the one whose ghost was gesturing to me. His ghost looks really happy and then vanishes in a shining light, and both me and GG&T are healed. We look over the temple and realize Moradin probably won't like us, and neither will his worshippers. (The ones who aren't ghosts incapable of properly perceiving what we are.) However, it would be pretty easy to repurpose this altar to honour a god of our choosing. Since Szsthrar'kek doesn't worship any gods, he promises Gum-Gum and Thrak that this altar will be devoted to Vaprak, the Big High War God of the trolls. GG&T start doing a happy dance and cheering Vaprak's name.

Afterwards, we meet up with everyone and give them a list of jobs to do tomorrow. First on the list is to clear a cave in leading to what I'm pretty certain was the dwarves' sleeping quarters, because we need beds for everyone. While I'm talking, the three Giantkin (GG&T, the ettin and the ogre) start chatting in Giant, and then wander off, and I don't see them for the rest of the evening. For now, I sleep on the Winter King's half-melted bed.

There's more to the session, but I've got to go, so I'll finish it later.

2014-10-24, 03:37 PM

We hear some loud banging noises in the night, but think nothing of it, and soon they stop.

When we wake up, we head to the cave in and discover that GG&T and the other giantkin have already cleared out the cave in, and seem to have gotten into a rock-throwing contest outside with the stones, before they got tired and went to bed. Now they're sleeping in. (Oh, and the boat is dead - it's life force was tied to the Winter King.) So, with that done, we move on to the next order of business - food and other supplies.

I check the room full of frozen guys first, and find that an obese elf has thawed out. He tells me he's nicknamed 'Earlobes' (fat elves apparently get enormous earlobes) and he was the Winter King's cook. He hated the guy, and is glad I killed him. I gladly recruit 'Earlobes' as our cook.

The barbarians all have ranks in Survival, so I send them out to hunt. Meanwhile, I get the guards and tiefling hoodlums to head to the nearby town. I give them each 100gp from the coffers, and a list of useful stuff to try and find for us - including potential recruits, training and information as well as actual stuff. I tell them they can spend whatever's left over on themselves. The tieflings seem overwhelmed - they're mostly street urchins and they've never had this much money. But off they go.

Ravid the Black is put to work tossing bodies in the pit with the Otyugh, because he's got a spell that's pretty handy for doing that safely. Anger, meanwhile, since he has two skeletal minions, I ask him if he can do something about that wraith in the portal room, so it won't attack us indiscriminately. He says he can, but it'll take about a week.

Four more barbarians thaw out later that day. Ramoran, who's really into training, Ush, who's a closeted gay with a crush on Ramoran, Gali, who's afraid of his own rage, and Budan, who's an excitement-seeker. I recruit them all and send them out to hunt as well. I also mention that I'd like to know the lay of the land.

The barbarians return later that day with a bunch of venison and reports of some sort of small humanoid tracks all over the mountainside. Shortly afterwards, the tieflings and guards come back with some supplies, a book on Dwarven for me, and two new recruits - a disgraced town guard (he saw enemies and sounded the alarm, but it was just an illusion, and now everyone makes fun of him) and his tiefling adoptive daughter. They also learnt about a 'hidden master' guy who'll gladly train anyone who pays them 50gp. Since the tiefling hoodlums (and the newly-recruited tiefling) are all minions with 1 hp, I send them off to get themselves trained, using what's left over from the 100gp they each got (quite a lot, actually - they're skilled pickpockets). They got us some sheep as well, so I get the giantkin to build a sheep pen out of the rocks they didn't fling off the mountain, and I eat a sheep's brain. Then it's time for bed.

The next day, after sending the tieflings out to the trainer and figuring out a guard rotation for the town guards (one guarding the main entrance and one an entrance revealed by clearing the cave in, a third patrolling along the hallway with the room of frozen guys and the room with the portal, and the fourth resting), I head out, with GG&T, Ravide the Black, Ush and Ramoran, and the dragon Thrymzen. The two barbarians lead me to a cave that the small footprints lead into, and we head inside.

Pretty quickly, we find a bunch of goblins. I try to recruit them, but they spit at me and attack. We kill several of them quite easily (Thrymzen and I each ate one), and the rest flee. We're pretty confident - these goblins don't stand a chance.

Soon, we've followed them into a large cave, where we find 26 goblins. They all fling javelins (except for three in the back, who start chanting) and one-shot Gum-Gum and Thrak. (If he hadn't had regeneration, he'd have died right then, because they got him below -10 hp.) We're pretty freaked out. I feed GG&T a health potion to get them back up, and send Thrymzen to use his breath weapon on them. He kills a pile of them, gets hit with a bunch of javelins, and is now bloodied. We decide it's time to retreat, so we get out of there, with GG&T in the rear so he can take javelins for us and Thrymzen ready to drag him out.

We get back to the entrance of the cave, and now we're at a stand-off. The goblins have followed, and are hanging back just out of range. Thrymzen isn't strong enough to fly us all out (he's only a young dragon), and if we flee on foot, the goblins will follow and swarm us in the open. We sit around several rounds and desperately try to think of a plan, while GG&T heal almost to full health. I send the barbarians off to scout out other exits, in case the goblins try to flank us, and to see if we can try to hold them in a siege. Then, Ravide the Black notices something - he can only hear two goblins chanting.

I suspect some guys are sneaking up on us, so I do one round of detect thoughts at some trees near the cave entrance, and find nothing. I turn around and detect thoughts at the next patch of trees, and get a hit (at least one creature with Int over 1). I just barely manage to shout a warning before a bunch of javelins put me in negative hp.

Immediately, Thrymzen moves in to attack, while GG&T have their hands full with the rest of the goblins, who've decided to advance. Ravide feeds me a potion, and I wake up, and immediately start healing myself. Thrymzen, meanwhile, uses his breath weapon to wipe out several goblins and chases the rest back into the cave, but they're running as fast as they can. GG&T have gone in the main entrance and are smashing goblins. I want to capture one for questioning, so Ravide heads over and transmutes one goblin into a chicken. But the surviving goblins grab their transmogrified friend and get out of there before we can catch them. We don't dare chase them into the large cavern, because we have no idea how many more they might have.

Instead, we collect our barbarians (who tell us there were several more cave entrances - the siege idea was futile) and start to head back, but a sudden storm forces us to spend the night out. The next morning, we head back, but to our dismay, we find a bunch of goblins and a bugbear at the entrance to our base. Staying out of javelin range, I get ready to try to negotiate.

The bugbear speaks first, and to my relief, he's acting pretty friendly. He says that his people, the Crapslinger Tribe have long been enemies of the Manyjavelins Tribe, and we destroyed most of that tribe, so they will be no match for his tribe for a long time to come. In thanks, he and his companions have come to offer their services to me. Unlike the Manyjavelins Tribe, the Crapslinger tribes specializes in slingshots, and their name came from their favourite way of taunting their enemies. They offer to demonstrate, but I tell them that's fine - I get the picture. I check out each of them, and gladly accept them as employees.

Since the bugbear and higher-level goblins all have ranks in Survival, I ask them to go out hunting - but for humanoids to bring back as prisoners, not for animals. I give them a description of that annoying gnome (who I've been told by the ex-Winter King guys is named Zanna) and say that if they see her, I especially want them to get her. Apart from that, I don't really care who they bring. We have eight cages, and only one of them is broken, so we could imprison at least 14 Medium-sized prisoners for me to eat. Meanwhile, Anger is done making the wraith his, and I realize the wraith can spawn other wraiths, and control up to seven spawns. So if the goblins bring me excess prisoners, I'll turn them into wraiths.

The goblin minions, meanwhile, stay behind. I work them into the guard roster, taking orders from the human guards. At each of the two entrances to my dungeon, I post one human guard and one goblin, and I have teams of two goblins patrolling the inside of the dungeon. They have orders that if attacked, one goblin flees to get help, while his human or goblin partner kites until reinforcements arrive.

I check the room with the frozen guys, and find a lizardfolk guy named Sllag. Being cold-blooded, he's pretty groggy, but he tells me he's a blacksmith and asks me to bring him to the forge to warm up. We bring him there, and I conduct his interview (he is obsessed with blacksmithing, and wants to become metal instead of flesh someday) and decide to hire him. I give him rations and tell him that once he's warmed up, I want him mending broken metal stuff, especially the eighth cage.

With that, we head to bed, and end the session.

Oh, and by the way - I forgot to mention earlier that GG&T levelled up after the first session, and I levelled up after the second session. This third session gave us enough xp for me to level again, and GG&T to level up twice. Since we've started running a base now, I grab a level of thrallherd and GG&T grabs the leadership feat and two levels of warlord. As of now, Szsthrar'kek is a level 6 telepath/level 1 thrallherd, and Gum-Gum and Thrak are a level 4 fighter/level 2 warlord, and we'll both start gaining our own special followers in the next session. GG&T also got some really neat skills involving protecting and buffing teammates, including the ability to heal allies 2 hp per round as a swift action if they're close enough to him and the ability to give enemies a debuff to attack rolls to attack anyone other than him. So, that'll be fun.

2014-10-24, 09:02 PM
This is the kind of D&D game I need to get involved in - half plain ruleset, part DM's mad skillz, and a whole lot of stronghold management. Looks like a fun ride, and I'm anticipating the next update. Cheers!

2014-10-27, 10:26 AM
OK, I really want a dark cleric. So, I ask Lireth (the guard from this era) about large towns in the area, and he tells me about Hawkreach. I wrap myself up in a disguise of a heavily-bandaged person in a robe. My first disguise isn't as good as it could be, so I keep working at it for a bit. (Take 10.) Soon, I'm set. I decide to bring Anger with me, because he's a good fighter and would be reasonably good in a city. (He has pretty high Bluff, and tieflings aren't too unusual.) Gum-Gum and Thrak are very disappointed that I won't bring them along, but there's absolutely no way they could be disguised enough to wander around a city without causing a panic.

It's a long walk to Hawkreach, so we get Thrymzen to fly us there. We land a bit away from town, and I tell Thrymzen he can go off and have fun, as long as he keeps away from heavily populated areas. We arrange to meet at the same spot in three days time.

Closer to the city, we're stopped at the gate, because there's a pile of refugees waiting to get in. We but in line and go talk to the guards. I mindlink with Anger to give him instructions, and otherwise I keep quiet. Anger tells them his wife is sick, and the guard believes him, but isn't very sympathetic - there are a lot of sick refugees. Anger kind of takes a guard aside and starts getting ready to offer the guard a bribe, when I try to lesser dominate him and fail my concentration check to dispense with displays. Everyone around feels a mental 'ping' on their awareness, and the guard makes his Will save and realizes I just tried to use a psionic attack on him. He shoves me away and calls me a witch, and tells me I'm lucky he doesn't just run me through. Anger apologizes in a not-very-apologetic manner, and we hurry away.

Next, we follow the wall a bit, until we manage to find a tiny hole in it. Anger crawls through easily, but I get stuck, and need his help to pull me through. In the process, my disguise slipped a bit and revealed my tentacles, and as I'm rearranging it, I hear a gasp. I look to see a ragged, dirty, underfed child staring at me in horror.

I immediately brain lock her, but I don't quite react fast enough and she gets off a piercing scream. No time to kill her so she won't talk - we just have to run. Anger and I get out of there, and head off towards what Anger thinks (based on memories from thousands of years ago, and a general understanding of cities) would probably be the slums. In the slums, pretty much everyone is staring at us like we're complete outsiders, but at the very least, I doubt they'd sell us out to the town guards.

I get Anger to ask for directions to a clothing store (thinking of getting a better disguise) and we bribe the guy 5 gold pieces. We follow his directions and end up at an empty lot. Thinking we got lost, we ask for directions again. This time, we're certain we followed the directions, but we still find nothing. I'm suspecting that these guys are leading us astray, so I start looking for a guy alone.

We follow a guy into an alleyway, and I use detect thoughts at him. To my surprise, I detect about three guys, and they all fail their Will saves and reveal to me that we're about to be ambushed. I alert Anger, and then feel a prick on my neck and start feeling woozy. I fall unconscious.

I wake up hanging upside down from the ceiling with my ankles tied by a rope, no longer in my disguise. Anger is unconscious and hanging near me, and we seem to be in a dank cellar, with a rat scurrying around looking for food. There's a small window that does little to illuminate the room (good thing I have darkvision). I can see a table not far from me, and a chair that, oddly enough, has been moved to be near the back wall. In the back wall, there's a door.

I use detect thoughts, and find three minds. One of them is the rat, who's thinking about how happy he is about the really yummy morsel of food he just found. The other two are Int 13 and 18. The Int 18 guy makes his Will save, but the Int 13 guy doesn't, and I learn that he's freaking out - who would have thought that the guy he jumped would've been an illithid?

I call out, and the Int 13 guy comes in, but stays out of mind blast range. I start trying to negotiate with him, but he's not falling for any of my Bluffs, and reveals that they're being paid a lot of money to bring in an illithid. He comments that they had no idea where to find me until I just showed up. I ask him if the guys who want to find me are illithids, and he confirms that they are.

Now I'm kind of freaking out. Recall that Szsthrar'kek's backstory has it betraying the Elder Brain to adventurers and having to flee when the adventurers die. Obviously, the other illithids want revenge. This is something Szsthar'kek has been worrying about the entire time, and is my main motivation for taking over a dungeon and getting a bunch of minions.

I continue talking to him. I ask him who his organization is, and he says he doesn't see a problem with revealing it to a dead guy, and turns into a bipedal rat creature. Szsthrar'kek has no clue what wererats are, but it recognizes him as a shapechanger, at least. (Out of character, I was suspecting this ever since I saw the rat, because I'd been begging my brother to put wererats in the story because I find them interesting.)

At this point, Anger wakes up. I mindlink with him, and manage to make my Concentration check to do it without any obvious display. We have a bit of a telepathic conversation, in which he reveals that he can probably get out of these ropes. Obviously, he's not going to do that right in front of the guy, but if diplomacy fails, we have another option. Reassured, I go back to trying to talk my way out.

I comment that the illithids who hired him would just take their money and go, while, if they helped me, I'd be willing to help them. I think desperately about what they might want that I have to offer, and then hit upon an idea, and offer to read the minds of guys they want information from. They ask why they should bother with that instead of just torture, and I tell them that torture doesn't give you reliable information. I know, because back home it was common amusement to torture guys, and one game was to make them say stuff we knew (by reading their minds) wasn't true. (At this point, the DM asks if this is a Diplomacy, Bluff, or Intimidate check. I tell him my character is telling the truth, and mostly intending this as a Diplomacy check, but kind of hoping to Intimidate a little as well.)

Finally, the wererat offers me a deal. He says he won't just let us go, but he'll give us a fighting chance. We'll get dropped in a part of the city we don't know, and the wererats will tell the other illithids where to find me. If I can escape them, the wererats will be willing to make deals with me. I insist that they make sure I have my disguise, and then agree to this. They immediately dart me again, and everything goes black.

I wake up in a garbage bag. I completely fail my escape artists check, but Anger cuts me loose. We were in a dumpster, and our eyes are unaccustomed to the bright light, so we're kind of blinking and such, but we can tell this is a more prosperous area than before. We head towards the sound of water, and find an aqueduct. There are two guards and a bunch of commoners waiting to get water. We hang back and hide nearby, and then I detect thoughts, and fail my Concentration check to hide displays, so everyone feels a mental 'ping'. By now, they know full well that there's an illithid in town, thanks to the guard at the gate and the little street urchin who saw my tentacles, so this causes a panic. The commoners all clear out, and one guard starts looking for us. I try to dominate him, but fail and cause another mental 'ping' (fortunately, this doesn't make it easier to find me). I'm wracking my brain trying to decide what to do - we might be able to fight these guards, but more will come, and worse, the other illithids are coming and we're not far enough from the dumpster to be safe. When the guard finally spots us, I panic, grab Anger's hand and plane shift.

We end up in a plane full of psionic power. Everything is floating, with translucent figures trailing streams of light. In the distance, I can see elflike figures mining on some sort of large island. They're too far to see clearly, but I have a bad feeling they might be Gith, who would not be very happy to see an illithid. Meanwhile, Anger's freaking out, but I reassure him that this was deliberate and we're safe for now. But, although my curiosity is piqued, I decide we should probably head back to the Material Plane.

I try to aim for the portal in our dungeon, but I actually have no clue how to do that, and instead we end up in a random patch of forest. By looking around, we readily spot our mountain, and have a three-day trek back there.

When we get back, we hear that Thrymzen returned and told everyone I was missing. In response, Gum-Gum and Thrak, along with the other two giantkin, went off too look for me. The goblins have brought me back captives, and I gladly eat one. Another two guards have thawed - one refuses to work for me and leaves, the other one, Brynnjolf, accepts my offer of employment. The tiefling hoodlums have also returned, and are now pretty decent at using swords. I put them on guard duty.

Now, I'm kind of panicking. I tell Thrymzen to go find Gum-Gum and Thrak and tell them I'm fine, and then start preparing for the other illithids to come. The goblins have the weakest Will saves, so I tell them that if illithids attack, they should hang back and stay out of range. I also feed two prisoners to the mad wraith, who has the create spawn ability. (We're using a rule that caps the HD of spawns he can control. I can't remember the rule off the top of my head, but the wraith can only control 7 HD worth of spawns, so I can't get an endless army of wraiths.) Then, I go to sleep in the treasure vault, because I figure it's the safest part of the dungeon.

I wake up when Thrymzen returns. He says he couldn't find GG&T. I head out and find our guards talking to some gassy-eyed goblins from the Manyjavelins tribe who have come in search of 'the Master'. The Crapslingers want to kill them, but I say no - they're under my thrall. The Crapslingers relent, and now I have a few goblins following me around and obeying my every order. I also send a barbarian out to track down GG&T.

Later that day, a wealthy landowner from the little town, named Armos Kamroth, comes to our entrance. He's heard that a dragon lives here, and wants to meet him. I send a goblin to fetch Thrymzen, and tell the guy that yes, indeed, there is a dragon in this dungeon - a young white dragon named Thrymzen. The guy says he's a cleric of Tiamat, and he longs to see an actual dragon. At this point, I get excited.

Thrymzen shows up, and with his support of me, Armos agrees to let me read his mind. He's legit, so I chat with him a bit about the town. He says some strange guys who act like they're in a daze have been asking around to find an illithid. The townsfolk are scared of these guys. I tell him those guys are under the control of enemy illithids, and ask him to go stir up a panic about those guys and see if the townsfolk can find a way to get rid of them.

Meanwhile, the goblins have brought me more prisoners - people from the town. I question them, with a mix of detect thoughts and lesser dominate, and they tell me that Hawkreach has been under attack from four rampaging giants looking for an illithid, who have apparently destroyed part of the wall and a sizeable sector of town. Three of them match the descriptions of Gum-Gum and Thrak and his two buddies. I have no idea who the fourth guy is, but how many two-headed giants would be out looking for me? I tell Thrymzen exactly where to find the giants and get him to go out and tell them I'm fine and they need to come back.

There's several tense days, and then Gum-Gum and Thrak return. They're very excited to see me. I talk with them and find out they were asked for directions to find me by one of the illithids, but it said it wanted to kill me, so GG&T smashed it up good. Then I notice the new guy, a troll, and GG&T convince him to let me check him out. He's a level 4 troll fighter named Gorb, and he's really inspired by Gum-Gum and Thrak and likes to smash stuff with them. (He's also 10 Int and not very strong for a troll. But still, pretty strong.)

I notice that GG&T seem to have a new confidence around them, and they seem to inspire others. I realize pretty quickly that they can boost their companions' willpower (I tend to randomly use detect thoughts when others aren't paying attention). I talk with them about the illithids that are coming, and arrange for them to help with guard duty.

The next day, we're going about our business when a goblin comes running in to say that illithids are coming. He rouses a bunch of guys and they head to the entrance, and I mindlink with him and ask him to go watch and see how the fight goes. I dare not go and help, because the illithids would focus on me if they saw me, and I'm squishy.

Fortunately, the fight is going well. There's Gum-Gum and Thrak, the ogre, a human guard, one of my newly-trained tieflings, a flaming skeleton and Ravide the Black, against three illithids and a bunch of thralls. Ravide drops AoE damage on the thralls by moving the earth beneath them, and at the same time he gives GG&T a pile of attacks of opportunity, which wipe out a bunch of them. The orge throws a javelin at one of the illithids and hits, and the town guard and skeleton both hit the same illithid with their ranged attacks (a crossbow and a ball of fire). The tiefling (one of the Winter King's former servants, named Alanna) cuts a thrall into ribbons. The illithids all try to mind blast, but GG&T's aura of resilience has boosted everyone's Will enough that none of them are stunned. The thralls move to protect their masters, but most of them get cut down, and two of the illithids die to Ravide and GG&T. The third runs for dear life, and everyone chases. Ravide hexes the illithid, then turns it into a chicken. It runs around a bit, confused, and just as it gets out of the polymorphing, Ravide switches places with it, putting it right in between the orge and GG&T. The illithid dies instantly. Meanwhile, the tiefling killed the last thrall.

So, with all of them dead, the warriors come back in and we have a big celebration. I'm pretty relieved, though I know this probably won't be the end of it.

2014-10-27, 02:06 PM
Is it weird that I'm finding the sense of camaraderie between your evil fortress family really, really adorable?

2014-11-23, 11:02 AM
OK, next session. (Sorry this took so long, we had the session done ages ago but I had a paper due and didn't have time to finish writing it up.) In this session, a friend of ours wanted to play a guest character, so we have a new PC:

Firemire - a My Little Pony style alicorn half-golem, with a homebrew class focused entirely on using fire in various ways. (Fire God.) Firemire is from a long and convoluted MLP fanfic our friend is writing. I don't know all of the details, but his story is pretty dark, with war and betrayal and him getting murdered horribly and resurrected several times, as well as losing several limbs. (Hence the half-golem part.) He ended up in the D&D world because he was tricked into a portal by an enemy of his. He has no idea where he is, and just wants to go home.

We'll be seeing him in a bit.

Last session, we had that big fight with the illithids, and so we kind of were celebrating in the morning. Then, Szsthrar'kek got down to business. First, I decided we needed more troops, so Szsthrar'kek had a talk with Gum-Gum and Thrak's buddy Gorb, and decided to send GG&T and the other giants off on a giant-recruiting mission. They'll be gone for quite awhile. (My brother asked me to DM GG&T's adventures with the giants, rather than have us timeskip or have a storyline I'm not involved in.) This has the added benefit that I could be delayed without them going into a frenzy.

Next, there's the portal. If I could get myself able to plane-shift accurately to it, I could easily get to safety if I ran into any danger away from my dungeon. So, I decided it was time to risk another visit to Hawkreach - this time, to the mage's library to research portals and plane-shifting.

I decided to take Ravide the Black along, because the guards might recognize Anger and Ravide, as a mage, would be less out of place at a mage's library. I also decided to enter the town from the opposite direction. Hawkreach is a next to a river, and the bridge is on the side of town opposite from my mountain, so I got Thrymzen to land us there. I also have a different disguise - person in robes with a creepy mask on instead of bandaged person in robes.

This time, we were a lot smarter about our entry. I just got Ravide to bribe the guard, and we were in. We stopped to ask a person for directions to the mage's tower, and he pointed to a building visibly towering over all the others. (And seemed to think we were dumb for asking. Ravide was pretty embarrassed.)

Meanwhile, Firemire was entering at the other end of town. Seeing all the refugees there, he stopped and asked around for some food, cooked it up into something yummy, then gave it back to the guys who'd given it to him. (I'm not sure exactly why.) Then he came up to the gate and talked a guard into letting him inside. He asked around about who might know about travelling across dimensions, and was directed to the mage's college. Meanwhile, everyone he saw was staring at him, because after all, he is a miniature talking horse with metal prosthetic wings and a horn on his head.

We both end up at the mage's library. As soon as we come in, we're immediately shushed by an unpleasant librarian. Firemire starts trying in vain to ask her for teleportation-related books without making noise, by using some sort of magical communication she's completely insensitive to. I'm curious about him, but Ravide recognizes the filing system in use, so we head off to find books.

Meanwhile, Firemire gives up and (verbally) asks a random student, who gives him directions. We meet in the stacks.

I immediately try to mindlink with Firemire, and he accepts. I comment that we're both looking for teleportation-related
information, and maybe we could pool our efforts. (Meanwhile, I'm putting books in my cloak to sneak out with.) He's suspicious, but tells me he's trying to get home. He also reveals that he can do within-plane teleportation. I tell him that I can plane-shift, though I'm not very good at it, and maybe I could try to find Equestria for him. (Szsthar'kek has no idea that it's not one of the standard planes of D&D.) In exchange, I'd like him to do me some favours - I want him to let Sllag have a look at his prosthetic limbs (because I know Sllag will like that and do something interesting with it) and I want his help getting my portal attuned. Throughout this whole conversation, Ravide has no idea what we're saying, because he's not part of our mindlink. But when Firemire asks, out loud, which one of us he's talking to, Ravide correctly guessed that he's talking to me.

Meanwhile, I've managed to find a book on the planes (I'm disappointed to find no mention of Equestria in it) and a book on ancient Dwarven teleportation magic. So, I arrange for Firemire to meet us near the bridge at sundown, and we split up.

Since the wererats said they'd work with me if I managed to survive, Ravide and I head to their neighborhood to talk to them. We just barely arrive when we're darted, and once again wake up hanging in a dank cellar. Despite the uncomfortable circumstances, though, we have a fairly friendly talk, and I get the wererats to agree to spy for me. I'm parti cularly interested in whether the guys in Hawkreach have figured out where GG&T came from. If so, we could be in for big trouble. I also tell them that if any more illithids come and offer them money to hand me over, I'll pay them even more if they warn me and keep quiet.

With that sorted out, the wererats blindfold us and lead us out. I try to keep track of the route, but it's complicated, and once we're outside all I can tell is that we came from one of several nearby warehouses. We head out.

Meanwhile, Firemire didn't have anything planned, so he decided to fly up to the roof of the mage's library to wait. He'd just barely settled down when he was accosted by some crazy rambling mage guy trying to sweep him off the roof with a broom. He sets fire to the broom, and the mage guy doesn't seem to notice, so he flies back down. Some guy at the bottom, watching the whole thing, comments that 'that's so-and-so for you'.

Firemire, meanwhile, heads off to our meeting spot, and is surprised to find a young white dragon there. Thrymzen is equally surprised to see him, and asks him who he is. Unfortunately, Thrymzen speaks only Draconic, which Firemire doesn't understand, so Firemire has no idea what he said. With a bit of conversation, he manages to figure out
Thrymzen understands Common despite not speaking it, but he can't figure out if Thrymzen is with us or just here by coincidence. However, Thrymzen's not that interested in him, and finally Firemire just settles down for a nap.

We show up and introduce Firemire and Thrymzen to each other, and then get on Thrymzen's back. Firemire flies beside us, and since his flying speed is slower than Thrymzen, the dragon slows down to let him keep up.

Back at base, Thrymzen heads off to sleep, while I remove my disguise and reveal my true form to Firemire. I insist that Firemire let me detect thoughts on him, just to make sure he's trustworthy, and Firemire reluctantly agrees. With that done, we head in. Since Firemire has no food, he's very hungry, and he joins in supper at the mess hall. Meanwhile, I head off and eat a prisoner's brain, and rejoin him while still cleaning blood from my tentacles.

We head off to meet Sllag. Firemire is fine with Sllag examining him, as long as Sllag makes him a weapon. Sllag is quite happy to do this, and proposes a sword specially balanced to be particularly effective when moved telekinetically. The lizardman smith is also amazed at Firemire's mechanical limbs, and starts muttering to himself about wanting to make some of his own, so he can become 'one with the metal'.

When Sllag's done his investigations, we head off. I fetch Anger and tell him to get the wraiths to let Firemire in, and we examine the portal. I quickly figure out that all I need is an amulet with a particular rune carved on it - it doesn't even need to be made by an actual mage - so I make myself one. Now, we need to test it. I ask Firemire to teleport me somewhere nearby, and I'll try to planeshift my way back.

We end up in a patch of forest. I touch Firemire and planeshift to a plane full of screaming and strong wind, that I recognize from my book as Pandemonium, then planeshift back to the material plane, aiming for the portal. Success!

Sllag isn't done yet, so we head over to the well and I wet my skin, and then notice a passageway I'd forgotten to check out. Firemire and I decide we may as well explore it together. I tell my thralls to wait for me, and we travel down it.

We find ourselves in a cave full of zombies. Most of the zombies just shamble towards us and try to claw and bite, but one of them backs off instead. I'm thinking this one is probably a necromancer or lich or something, so I mind blast all but four of the regular zombies and then go past them to approach the strange zombie. While Firemire backs off and summons a pillar of fire that the two zombies are stupid enough to attack (dealing damage only to themselves), I put a psionic shield on and call out 'why are you different?' to the strange zombie.

To my surprise, the zombie shimmers and turns into an emaciated pale-skinned, white-haired woman with white eyes ringed in black. (Our DM decided her shapeshifting looked just like Mystique from X-Men shapeshifting.) I as the player immediately realize she's a changeling, but Szsthrar'kek just realizes she's some kind of shapechanger. She introduces herself as Jixen and reveals that she got lost down here and posed as a zombie to trick the zombies into
not attacking her. I ask her if she'd like to work for me, and she says she will if we kill the zombies and give her some food. (She's been down here for awhile.)

So, we kill the zombies, slowly. (They're tanky and my only damaging move on them is finger of fire.) Then, we head upstairs, I do my job interview on Jixen, and I give her some rations. By now, Sllag is done the sword, so Firemire takes it and leaves.

2014-11-24, 01:03 AM
Is it weird that I'm finding the sense of camaraderie between your evil fortress family really, really adorable?

It is, but I especially find the relationship between the Mindflayer and GG&T adorable.