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Thread: The SilverClawShift Campaign Archives

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    Troll in the Playground
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    May 2006

    Default Re: The SilverClawShift Campaign Archives

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    So this will be update twelve on my campaign.

    To start the session, we let the DM know about our finalized character sheets and sent him the updated ones to bring us up to level 10. I opted for the Walk Unseen as my newest invocation, because being able to fly and be invisible for 24 hours a day is basically what makes Warlocks so deliciously warlockish.

    Then we resumed our campaign exactly as we had left off. The four of us (and our undead dragon) are standing on a giant stone platform, with the bitterest of the bitter arctic winds whipping us over. We're stuck facing four doorways leading to "question mark", and a hatch we're afraid to open. And all of it relies on a magical mirror that we can't see them without.

    What do normal deity-fearing adventurers do in this situation?

    "Send the kobold first"

    Our reasoning is that he's smaller, sneakier, and faster than the rest of us will ever be by a long shot. He's going to trot through one of the doorways real quick. Just into the room and back, and tell us the scoop from the other side. If he can't get back at all, the plan is for him to go into hardcore-stealth-mode and try to find a way back to central island, one way or another (up to and including hijacking a rowboat and braving the open seas alone, though that's obviously the last on the list of options) while the rest of us do an about-face in the arctic.

    One way or another, we've established that me and the Dragon Shaman aren't going through the doorway. I don't want to leave my small undead army (not to mention the heap of trea-sha! we found here), and the Dragon Shaman doesn't want to abandon his ship to the icy waters. We feel we might be hamstringing ourself here, but we aren't so quick to give up our stuff if there's a way to avoid it.

    So the kobold takes the magic mirror and hops through the doorway (we picked north, no real reason). He goes through, takes a quick look around the room both with and without the mirror, and comes back our way. He's already established a few things. The doorway leads to a plain stone room with only one doorway in our out. The noteworthy thing about the single doorway is that, WITH the mirror it becomes a portal to the platform. Without the mirror, the doorway just leads to the rest of the structure. The second thing he established?

    Kobold: “Yeah, it's definitely a ziggurat. The doorway out led to a giant stone chamber, they're getting relatively familiar looking. I don't think it's either of the ones we've been to either.”

    Dragon Shaman: “How could you tell?”

    Kobold: “Well it wasn't full of giant murderous bugs. They might have cleared out of the jungle ziggurat, but I didn't see any insects at all. A few would have hung around, right?”

    Swashbuckler: “Could you tell where in the world it was? Like by temperature?”

    Dragon Shaman: “It'd probably be hard to gauge something like that inside a giant stone structure, especially if it's mostly underground. Especially because he's used to the whole "spit freezes in midair" temperature we're in right now.”

    Swashbuckler: “But if it's really humid, like a jungle, as opposed to a desert?”

    Kobold: “Ref?”

    DM: “You couldn't tell.”

    Kobold: “That's that then.”

    So we send the kobold through the other three, very scientifically. What he gauges is that, the one on the west probably IS the jungle ziggurat. It's got a lot of strange looking insects crawling around, that he avoided irritating by being able to hide in plain sight. The one to the south is like the one to the north. More old cobwebs and dust than any real activity. They haven't seen any use (at least, not like the other two). When he goes through the one on the east and looks around, he immediately comes tumbling back through the doorway to inform us that the east ziggurat is clearly the desert one, because it's brimming with black onyx bugs covered in golden runes.

    We're torn between examining that one first, and not bothering to examine it at all. We're curious as to what happened in the wake of our departure, but at the same time, "bugs everywhere oh god get them off".

    We know what to expect of the jungle ziggurat, so our plans it to examine the other two, find out where they are and what's the dealie-yo, and then double back and check out the Drifters base and see if we can't find anything relevant there. Once we have everything figured out, we'll come back to the arctic platform, grab our dragon, and head out and see how the world's been faring against the swarm of black onyx bugs. If we can establish where the other two ziggurats are, we can tuck our ship somewhere safer, knowing we have alternate means of travel.



    We press into the northern ziggurat. It looks to follow the same layout as the other two, but things look to be in different condition here. The main chamber was full of rotten wooden rubble, which closer examination revealed to look like a collapsed wooden walk (or specifically, a whole series of collapsed wooden walkways laying on top of each other). Nothing was living in the wooden rubble, we saw no rodents or insects.

    More noteworthy was the pillars. Everywhere in the chamber were great stone pillars ring with human sized boxes...obviously coffins. There were hundreds in this chamber alone. The coffin thing made us a tiny bit uneasy, but nevertheless, we were hit with a sense of calm peace. This seemed to truly be a resting place. The kobold did a knowledge (history) check, but came up with nothing. A knowledge (religion) check did verify that the place was consecrated though.

    The dragon shaman sighed, smiled, and said "good place to be". We all generally agreed, me included, if only because it meant we weren't in any real immediate danger. As we explored, some of the coffins did seem to be rotted open, but the skeletons inside were just collapsed peacefully in place. The swashbuckler commented that this would be a great place to return to when he leveled again, as he'd instantly have 20 skeleton warriors (and taking "Practiced Spellcast" for his archivist levels after that would let him have 40 HD of undead minions). The dragon shaman asked if he was honestly okay with regularly raiding a consecrated tomb, but the Swashbuckler said "Trying to save the world, ect, ect".

    We checked the rest of the ziggurat. The other rooms were more of the same. Lined up and down with coffins, all with no name and no noticeable markings or explanation as to what they were. When we reached the ziggurats exit, we found that it was sealed shut with stone. With great team effort, we managed to move the stone door...only to find a wall of dirt. This ziggurat, wherever it was, was apparently buried. We decided that in a few levels, we would set a small team of skeletons digging a tunnel out and up, but for now there was no sense scrabbling through the dirt.

    In fact, depending on where the Southern doorway led, we might rather keep this ziggurat buried and sealed off... a secret and fortified location that we could use as a base, and the foundation of an undead army if it came to that... it occurred to the Kobold Factotum that in one more level, HE'LL be able to cast Animate Dead too, to which the Dragon Shaman replied with an exasperated "Really? We're ALL going to be necromancers except for me, really?".

    The Factotum doesn't necessarily want to be a necromancer (especially when it comes to raiding blessed tombs) but is of the mind that we need to pick up any advantage we can, and having an army of 120+ skeleton warriors is not something to ignore outright.

    The Dragon Shaman agreed not to burn any of us to death over the issue, but has gone on record to say the idea makes him feel uncomfortable.

    So we returned to the portal room, exited the ziggurat back into the biting arctic winds.



    We entered less cautiously, feeling airy and calm from the sealed, blessed, and consecrated tomb. When we walked through the portal to the southernmost ziggurat though... well, we felt an instant weight drop on our shoulders. The Factotum did another knowledge (religion) check to reveal... yes... just as the other ziggurat had been consecrated, this one was indeed desecrated. I chuckled and mentioned something about this being useful too, because we could drag corpses to it to make our undead more powerful. The Dragon shaman glared, but nodded and said it was numerically sound for us, and it wasn't OUR fault the place was desecrated and unholy.

    We pressed on, being a little more careful than before. Whatever made this place unholy was probably not going to be to our liking... which we discovered was very true when we exited into the great chamber that apparently all ziggurats have, only to find a giant throne on a pile of human skulls, and what looked for all the world like a giant mummy sitting calmly on it. A closer spot checked revealed the mummy to be an ogre who'd been wrapped and bandaged and properly treated in a funerary procession.

    An Ogre Mummy. Adventurers don't have "lucky days", but this was the opposite of lucky. A mummified ogre? Great.

    And as we're processing how screwed we are, the ogre mummy just lets out a harsh gravely whisper, the first word spoke by dried vocal chords in god knows how many centuries: "Why are you here?"

    We all sit in awkward silence for a minute, hoping the kobold will say something clever (in real life. He's our best roleplayer, hands down), when the SWASHBUCKLER (great player, weaker on the roleplaying) says, "We're just poking around, sorry".

    Our whole table just stares at him, before the dragon shaman says "We're just poking around? Really? you reached down, and that was what you pulled up?"

    The ogre mummy doesn't move, and just replies "Weary. Rest. Never Rest." before going into some kind of fugue and saying "rest, rest, rest, rest" over and over. As we look around, we see corpses, looking dessicated but still intact... somewhere between a zombie and a skeleton, crawling around on the walls and glaring at us with somehow still-intact eyeballs. Some of them lick their lips. They look eager and full of hate.

    Dragon Shaman: “Okay... anyone have a spell that'll get us out of this situation?”

    Kobold: “Not high enough level yet.”

    Swashbuckler: “I mostly stab and heal”

    Me: “All of my powers are self only, and nothing helps here.”

    Dragon Shaman: “...these things are going to attack us. That much is obvious to anyone. Maybe WE should make the first move here?”

    *akward pause*

    Me: “Eldritch Spear, Mummy, Face. *rolls 7d6*”

    So my character makes her attack move, which by this point in the campaign I've decided is the "Rock On" hand gesture with an underarmed swing. The mummy takes a good rolls worth of damage, 30ish, and roars with a kind of dry high pitched whine through aforementioned unused vocal chords. At that, skelezombies start dropping off the ceiling and pouncing off the walls in attack mode.

    Our immediate assessment as seasoned adventurers is "HOLY CRAP RUN FOR COVER", which we do. The kobold springs his ridiculous move rate towards the exit to the rest of the ziggurat, hoping he can find a reasonable choke point for the swarm of wall-crawling skelezombies (our DM never named them, I'm guessing they were one of his little "I'm making this up, I am god" type monsters). The Dragon Shaman and me both fly, dodging falling conscious corpses, and, like the cowards we are, we leave our True-Striking swashbuckler on the ground by himself. In our defense, he's the most likely to fight through a crowd of the walking dead, which he proves by actually doing so with little trouble while the rest of us cover his movement with eldritch blasts, cones of fire, and the Kobold even broke out some of the spellcasting gems we harvested from the bugs to thin out the crowds on the Swashbucklers path to catch up.

    Whether suicidal tendencies or tactical genius, we found an unoccupied room and used the choke point of the doorway to hack at the Skelezombies while they swarmed in at us, We couldn't take them all out, as they spilled into the room and gave us a decent fight, but we clearly had the upper hand. That is, we HAD the upper hand until the Skelezombie squeezing through started outnumbering us AND the ogre mummy started squeezing through the door,

    The fight got ugly, but with me sticking to the ceiling (mostly out of range, though some of the skelezombies could jump and hit me), the dragon shaman torching cones worth of the undead creatures, and the Kobold being wise and sticking to support and boosting the occasional attack or damage roll (while the swashbuckler naturally cleaved his way through anything that got close to him), we were doing alright. The mummy got in a really good lick on the Swashbuckler and sent him sprawling into the far wall and into negatives, but his healing familiar tucked him back up to positives and his next action was to cast Enlarge Person on himself and charge back at the mummy with a righteous roar.

    The Dragon Shaman wound up directing his cone of fire breath at the mummy and hacking at the undead harassing him. All in all, we took some solid licks, but we managed to kill the entire group like seasoned adventurers should. Without the choke point it might have been a different story, but we beat them into the stonework all the same.

    It was when we were all leaning against the walls, catching our breath and re-assessing the situation, we noticed some of the skelezombies we hacked up starting to...twitch. it took a passed spot roll to notice, but really subtly, we could see movement coming from the first ones who had dropped. By the time we were up and ready to react, the first of the fallen had started making a haggered hacking coughing noise and returning to unlife.

    This place wasn't just desecrated. It was...more intense than that. The dead did not rest here.

    We started fighting again, but when the Ogre mummy started making the same haggard coughing noise, we realized how bad our situation was. Rather than fighting an eternal and perpetually losing battle, we retreated further up towards the normal ziggurat exit. We found it rather suddenly, when the dragon shaman wrenched open the stone doorways to the outside only to be hit with a blast of heat so intense that it forced the rest of the party back away from it (even with endure elements up). The dragon shaman leaned out, being immune to fire, and smirked a little.

    The ziggurat was built against an active volcano (probably magically warded against being destroyed by it). The Dragon Shaman looked back at our party from the doorway leading out to the open air (the open superheated air with a pool of lava at the bottom) and said a single word. "Hide".

    The rest of us, seeing where he was going with this, tucked into the nearest rooms and took up the most stealthy positions we could, while our fullplated Dragonborn Dragon Shaman stood in the doorway with his wings outstretched, watching the twitching and slowly rising mass of the undead coming his way. When enough of them were up and shambling, he took a step back off the stone ledge and above the pool of lava, beating his wings.

    Ah. To be totally immune to fire damage.

    He flew backwards against the far wall and clung to it, keeping his eyes dead set on the shambling corpses and occasionally breathing fire at nothing to look intimidating and violent. The trick worked, and all of the undead marched blindly out over the ledge to fight him, only to trip and fall down into a giant pool of molten rock.

    All except the mummy. He stood at the doorway screaming angry (and simple minded) curses across the open volcano cone, at least, up until the Swashbuckler came running out of the room he'd been hiding in and bullrushed the unaware mummy out into the lava.

    The Dragon Shaman flew back to our group, and as adventurers are often called upon to do, we re-assessed the situation.

    Storm Clouds


    We could get in and out of the active volcano with a small degree of effort. The Dragon Shaman was fine, but the rest of us became a little fatigued from the sweltering heat of the open air. I could fly the Kobold out without too much trouble, but the Swashbuckler was too heavy for me. The Dragon Shaman had to take off his armor, fly the swashbuckler out, fly back, put his armor on, and then fly out.

    Fortunately, being immune to the heat meant the repeat trips were no great concern. Once we were out in the open air, we established that it was actually night time on this part of the world, and that we were very close to Central Island. Specifically, we were on one of the smaller offshoot islands nearby. We were basically within swimming distance.

    This was great news! We had ziggurat portals connecting the Jungle, the Desert, and Central Island! As well as access to a secret base somewhere underground, only accessible with the mirror itself. As long as we controlled the mirror, our travel options just got a lot more slick. We figured we would go check in with Macguiller and the captain of the guard while we were here, then head back, grab our dragon and gold, and sail back to the island.

    We got across the water without much trouble. We found a seemingly unclaimed rowboat of some kind and 'borrowed' it (we honestly had no intention of keeping it) and headed for Central Island. We opted to make camp and wait for daybreak as opposed to waking Macguiller up. Time was of the essence, but spellcasters need their rest if they're going to do their spellcasting thing.

    He was happy to see us in the morning. He'd been growing and breeding the healing bugs ever since we left, and had created a fair number of them. Unfortunately, even using the gem from the Swashbucklers stronger familiar only produced bugs that could cast Cure Minor Wounds. Apparently whatever power caused the bug to molt and become stronger wasn't something that benefited its offspring. Either that or being a magical familiar changed the rules somehow.

    Still, the bugs were friendly enough. They seemed intelligent enough that they were about on par with very stupid puppies. Macguiller had them in cages for convenience, but they didn't seem to mind, as long as they were well fed (he'd been feeding them copper pieces. The value of the metal didn't seem to matter, just the volume).

    The Guard Captain was happy to hear from us too. None of the ships he'd sent out had reported back yet, so he had no way of knowing if the rest of the world was prepared in any capacity. We couldn't give him any insight to that, but we decided we were comfortable telling him about the teleportation platform we'd found. We discussed moving people off the island as a backup plan, but it was ruled out for two reasons. One was the difficulty in moving a whole population through an active volcano, and then across 500 feet of open arctic air. The second reason was that Central Island had some of the best militia the empire had to offer, since it was a hub and supply location for every continent. He'd had his guards practicing archery against small targets, and felt this was one of the safer places to be.

    We actually agreed with him that it seemed sound, and mentioned that we were planning on using central island as our base of operations for the time being.

    Which is when everything started to get darker. The rising sun disappeared behind a mass of black billowing clouds off on the horizon.

    DM: The captain of the guard says, "That's odd, there wasn't supposed to be a storm today." Everyone roll Spot checks.

    The kobold opted to boost his spot check with an inspiration point, and he was the only one that passed. I'm sure some of you guessed it. We pretty much knew without the spot check confirming it. They weren't storm clouds, it was a giant swarm of black bugs, rolling our way in a massive cloud. The captain of the guard shook his head bleakly, before barking out orders to round up every able bodied person on the island to fight. He apparently didn't realize how hopeless this situation was.

    Me: :We can't let the Drifter get access to the mirror. The kobold can outpace all of us by a ridiculous amount, send him running back to the volcano and through the portal. Wait at the doorway in the arctic for us and we'll try to make it in one piece.”

    The party agreed, and the kobold immediately started sprinting back the way we came. The rest of us got Macguiller, who started packing up his most essential gear and grabbed a few cages of the healing bugs. We were going for an evacuation, but the rolling mass of bugs came in really fast, and hit hard. It was like flipping a switch. One minute it was a peaceful and serene sunrise on the beach, the next minute we were in a complete warzone. Bugs were whipping through the air and taking pot shots at everyone they passed. For the most part you could shrug them off, and they only did a point of damage, but there were so many hitting so often that it quickly became a losing battle to keep your hitpoint total up. We sent Macguiller off running and tried to cover an escape for him by drawing attention to us. The dragon Shaman did good torching cones of the things, while the Swashbuckler was cleaving through the swarm. Instead of eldritch blasts, I tossed a few pints of flaming oil to catch any of the bugs that flew too close to it.

    We weren't at it for long though, before the cloud parted and three familiar shapes stepped out. Priest, the Changeling, and Therin all had been riding inside the thickest part of the cloud, like some kind of perverse chariot. Therin shouted at us to give up the angel, but I tossed an eldritch spear his way...just to have it arc into Priests sidepack harmlessly. He pulled the dark orb out of his sidepack and waved it at me, his horrible rictus grin never leaving his face. "Hmm, I wonder why it does that anyway? I mean, all I ever used it for was binding some souls from an asylum... Tell me girl, have you ever been committed?"

    The dark orb pulsed and my flight hiccuped for a heartbeat. My reaction was immediate. "We need to leave, NOW" and I started flying off in the direction Macguiller went. My party followed, but we didn't get far before my flight gave out entirely and I crashed to the ground helpless. The Swashbuckler tried to pick me up, but Therin made a sliding tackle and the two went tumbling off further along.

    The Dragon Shaman and Changeling stared each other down, and she pulled out a rapier and a short sword before striking an elegant pose with them. The Dragon Shamans response? "You don't have to do this. There must be some way to break your curse. Her pose drooped for a moment, and she looked down, obviously feeling some kind of shame, before immediately making a whirling, dancing leap across the distance between them, hitting in a flurry of light blows (that barely beat the Dragon Shamans AC, and barely scratched him from his damage reduction). On his turn, he just shook his head at her, which made her falter in her stance.

    Meanwhile, Priest had run over top of me, waving the orb at me and saying "Very familiar". I pulled out a poison coated dagger and sank it into the same spot in his shoulder that I'd hit when we ran into each other before, and said "Yes, very familiar".

    Priest's rictus grin didn't even falter though, as the orb pulsed and he hit me with my own eldritch blast, saying "You were in the asylum weren't you? Your soul works for me as sure as the other patients do... though yours seems much more useful".

    Therin kicked the Swashbuckler hard enough to send him flying through the air, before doing some kind of jump/backflip, flying easily 20 feet through the air and landing on the Swashbucklers chest with a crunch. The Swashbuckler was winded, but knocked Therin off of him with enough force to knock him prone, quickdrew his rapier, and got in a good piercing hit and a slash across Therins face.

    The Changeling dropped her swords and held her arms down at her sides, looking away sadly, before opening up with a ridiculously powerful punch clean across the Dragon Shamans jaw and tumbling a few feet back from him before putting up her fists and kissing one of them, dancing like a boxer. Binders usually do have a lot of tricks, after all.

    The Dragon Shaman ignored her, noticing me yelling for him, laying under Priest. The poison was clearly affecting him, he just felt like he still had the upper hand. Until the Dragon Shaman cleared enough distance to hit our area with his fire breath. He caught me in it, but I turned on my Fiendish Resilience to start healing the burns, and sunk another poisoned dagger (with a different poison) into priest. The second poison coupled with the burn was enough to stagger him long enough for me to crawl a few feet towards the Swashbuckler.

    Who was locked in an epic duel with Therin. Therin swept his legs around and took the Swashbuckler down in a grapple before trying to do the throat slash move he'd shown off before, but he missed from the Swashbuckler wriggling away from the blow. Then the swashbuckler headbutted Therin to break the grapple, and ran him clean through the torso with his rapier.

    The changeling did a tumbling roll over to the Dragon Shaman and took another bare-fisted swing at him. She missed, and took a hit from a bastard sword, before the Dragon Shaman flew over to me and started dragging me with him. He couldn't fly with me in tow, but he didn't drop me all the same, opting to run with me scrambling to keep up.

    Priest hit him with one of my eldritch blasts for the trouble.

    While Therin and the Swashbuckler continued to trade blows back and forth in a very bloody display of sheer testosterone. The Changeling opted not to persue the Dragon Shaman, picking up her swords and running at the two duking it out. The Swashbuckler seemed content to make this a fight to the death, and he might have insisted on it (despite our urging him to make an escape with us), until we heard a roar echo from deeper into the island. A dire tiger came running out...complete with a golden rune on its forehead. A look around revealed a lot of golden runes springing up in various locations... including the foreheads of some of the guard captains men off in the distance, who were busy fighting the men who'd been strong enough to not yet be infected.

    Dragon Shaman: This fight isn't going to get BETTER. We're losing here, and we're going to start losing harder.

    The Swashbuckler finally agreed, and started taking double move actions to escape with us. They both dragged me far enough away that I was out of range of Priests orb, and my ability to fly returned. I thought about hitting back with an eldritch spear at SOMETHING, out of spite, but figured it would be fruitless. Instead we just hauled as fast as we could towards the island with the volcano. Me and the dragon Shaman were flying, and when we got to the ocean, we saw Macguiller had already gotten the rowboat and was almost to the other side. The Swashbuckler didn't think twice, just dove into the ocean and started swimming for all he was worth, with the huge mass of black onyx bugs swarming above the water and dipping down into it after him.

    We were keeping pace ahead of the mass... barely. Therin was closest to catching up with us, he was a very fast and tireless man. The changeling was behind him, priest was nowhere in sight (my poisons probably finally caught up with him enough to make chasing too much of a fatigue).

    Underwater, the Swashbuckler had a bad run in. A shark with a golden glowing rune on its forehead swam at him and tried to take a chunk out, but his dodge bonus to AC let him flit off to one side at the last second and keep swimming. It took a few passes at him, but it didn't manage to connect before he got into shallower waters and ran after us.

    We were worried, since the Dragon Shaman couldn't fly the swashbuckler OR macguiller down, but macguiller cast feather fall on both of them, and they jumped down to the ledge and into the underground volcano/ziggurat.

    The bugs chased us the whole way. Therin and the changeling stopped at the lip of the volcano, despite the dragon shaman beckoning for them to follow with a smirk. He considered flying back up and trying to grapple one of them into the lava, knowing he could take it and they couldn't... but by this point, the black onyx bugs were basically forming a wall of chitinous shell that was hindering our movement. We had to book. We made it to the portal room, and the Kobold opened it up from the other side for us (despite the mass of bugs attacking). We all made it through safely, along with a few dozen black onyx bugs. In the cold, we had less trouble fighting them. insects do poorly in freezing temperatures, and we hadn't even killed them all before they started to just fall out of the sky. We stomped them all for good measure, harvested the black onyx gems from them, and escorted Macguiller and his cage of healing bugs (who were also freezing) over to the northern most portal.

    That was where we wrapped things up. Macguiller and a few healing bugs are safe in the underground ziggurat. How safe remains to be seen. The bugs seemed intelligent enough to know their allies and to escort them around. The infected seemed to have a clear idea of what they were trying to do. By this point, it must be obvious we have access to the mirror, and we know what it does. IF someone knows where that last ziggurat is buried, it won't be a secret base for long. If not (which we're hoping) it's now one of the two safest places on the planet.

    We leveled up to 11. The Factotum and Swashbuckler can both cast Animate Dead now, so it might turn into Bugs Vs. Skeletons here pretty soon. The Dragon Shaman can now remove diseases and other status effects with his lay on hands, which might come in handy. This was a great level for me. my damage reduction went up a point, my eldritch blast got another D6, and I learned my first Greater Invocation.

    Priest has my soul. I'm almost sure of that now. There's no way the DM was hinting at anything else. I sold my soul in that dinky tower chamber, and Priest somehow found a way to tap into the transaction and pluck it from its rightful owner.

    That works fine for me, because that means Priest has my soul instead of some demon lord. And now I have to go pluck it from HIM. My characters current main goal is getting my soul back, everything else is secondary until that happens.

    I took Repelling Blast as my first Greater invocation (and Ignore the Pyre as my extra lesser invocation). Let's see if priest can hold onto the orb of his when it's forcing a reflex save to be knocked back 30 feet.

    I hope that works, in any event.

    And that's where we stand now.

    Holy Exterminators


    So we started off our session with a bang.

    We gave our DM our updated character sheets, established that the Swashbuckler took Animate Dead and Magic Vestments as his spells for 5th level archivistdom. We also established that he had an extra spell slot, and was going to use it to boost the AC on my leather armor/shredded dress combo, since my AC is currently the lowest.

    Then immediately after our DM said "Game on", the next words were the Swashbuckler saying "Okay, time for me to animate some corpses!"

    The dragon shaman was alright with us raiding a blessed tomb of ancients long forgotten and defiling their bones, but only if we were reverent about the whole thing. We walked quietly through the main chamber for a minute, running our hands across the coffins and saying out loud that we didn't mean any disrespect, but that we needed their bodies, and that the entire world was at stake.

    With that, we started wrenching open the doors and hauling their ancient carcasses out into the light of day (well, we couldn't animate them in the consecrated ruins, so we were actually hauling them out to the dark of an arctic night, but still).

    After harvesting the black onyx from the spellcasting bugs, we had way, way, way more than enough gems to animate them all, stuff our packs full of spare, and still have plenty for future animation. It occurred to us that even if the world pulled through, black onyx was going to become a very common commodity... undeath might be very common in the future. Bleak, but not worse than the alternative (a single hive mind becoming a deity. Or MULTIPLE deities at once somehow).

    We debated dragging them across the platform and trying to animate them in the Desecrated ziggurat, but a quick glance at doorway to it showed that the Drifters minions (Changeling, Therin, and an ill looking Priest) had all made their way down, and were examining the portal room. We noticed Therin say "They must have the mirror" to which the changeling made an exaggerated solemn nod and put her wrist to her forehead in the classic "Woe is us" pose. Priest ran his hand along the edge of the doorway, obviously knowing where the portal WAS, and said "We shouldn't talk in this room". They exited, looking like they were coming through the portal, but vanishing from view as they simply walked out into the rest of the ziggurat.

    The room was also practically opaque with Drifter bugs, which the trio walked calmly through. The question of the Drifters intelligence has been raised, but he's obviously still smart enough to recognize his allies if nothing else.

    We camped out in the blessed temple for a night in order to reanimate more corpses than the others would be able to raise in a single day. The Factotum got in on it too, so we now have 10 skeletons being controlled by the Swashbuckler (leaving him 10 HD for anything interesting he finds), and 30 being controlled by the Factotum (also leaving him 10 HD for anything interesting).

    While we were dragging the corpses out onto the snow platform, we noticed something though. The snow and ice that regularly settled, froze, broke off, and blew away, had formed a very obvious pattern. It had all settled in the shape of the jungle continent. Papa HeeNo obviously wanted us to come back around.

    Since we were just waiting around to raise more skeletons anyway, and knowing we might not get another chance, we took this opportunity to poke around the platform some more and see if we couldn't understand things better. We activated the magical mirror to check the dark chained hatch. The Kobold put his hand to the metal, only to discover "It's warm. It's not just warm, it's HOT. I don't think this hatch leads to HEAVEN guys.". We sat there processing that the hatch may very well lead to hell, when it hit us. If the hatch was a pit leading to hell (not confirmed, but, seems likely no?) then HOW was the angel planning on getting to heaven?

    So we circle under the platform and look up. Sure enough. Looking through the mirror at the underside of the platform? Another perfectly circular portal, this one producing a soft blue glow around the edges of the gold and pearl seal of metal, just as thoroughly locked as the hatch above. This platform was literally where the world ends. Follow your compass to the one spot it spins wildly with no direction, and you find a stairway to heaven, and a pit straight to hell. It made us wonder if the ziggurats were even man made, or were just some kind of fundamental aspect of this world itself. Two regarding life, two regarding death, two that made things stronger, two that made things 'different'.

    We still weren't opening either of these freaking hatches.

    So once we had all the skeletons raise, we armed them the best we could with what was laying around. I gave up a bunch of my daggers, the Swashbuckler gave up his old rapier, the Dragon Shaman gave up his old morningstar. The rest of them we armed with improvised clubs and staffs made from their own coffins.

    We took the whole mess of skeletons and opened the portal to the jungle ziggurats. We realized that if they know we have the mirror, heading to the arctic platform is probably the next step on their agenda, and it's time we start staying a step ahead rather than a step behind. The BUGS won't survive in the cold weather, but the drifter will undoubtedly find creatures to infect that WILL be able to.

    Knowing that, we couldn't be slowed down by escorting a small army of skeletons through the snow. We'd fly at rapid speed on the dragon, and leave the skeletons at the jungle ziggurat with orders to kill any bugs they see (bearing in mind, these are NORMAL bugs, not drifter bugs, he seems to have abandoned the jungle ziggurat), but not to leave the building. We'll sail there as quick as possible to catch up with them and go from there. Macguiller set up a small workshop in the blessed temple, knowing that we're (probably) the only ones who can get into the place, whether they reach the arctic or not.

    So with the skeletons whack whack whacking away at any bugs they see, great and small, we set back off into the blistering cold of a lightless winter.

    Freezer Burn


    The dragon zombie was stiff and icy from laying out exposed for so long, but an endure elements spell had it back up and running normally in no time. The dragon shaman grabbed the ropes, and we set off flying for our ship with utmost haste. The trip back was uneventful until we realized (by terrain and pathways) that we'd reached the area all of the Fifth Mans crew had been slaughtered. And none of the bodies were there.

    Kobold: "That can't be too odd here? The near constant winds and billowing snow, they probably got buried by the elements relatively quickly."

    DM: "Sure thing. Spot checks."

    We all rolled, we all passed, and we all noticed a pack and lose gear from the body that we'd looted. But no body.

    Me: "Should we set down and investigate it?"

    Everyone else in near unison: "NO!"

    So we fly on as quick as zombie wings will carry us. Just when the drone of the arctic winds against our face begins lulling us into a false sense that we'd passed the danger, we hear the dull hurtful howl that had become familiar to us after our prior experience. The hollow cry of a wendigo... scratch that. The hollow cry of a CHORUS of Wendigos.

    Whether they were weaker, or because we weren't touching solid ground, they couldn't hammer us as hardly as the first one. It might have even been a combination of those two facts, as the first one may have been some kind of Wendigo Lord or something. Either way, this batch couldn't make us roll will saves. So instead they just engaged us in midair .

    They were fast. Not as fast as the first one, but still fast, and they arced through the sky in a furious assault pattern, leaving trails of fire everywhere behind them, slashing at us with burning darkness. I changed my energy resistance to fire and started popping them with eldritch blasts. I beat their spell resistance about half the time, so at least I was chipping away at them.
    The Swashbuckler had braced his heels against the dragons spikes growing off its spine, and was in an attack stance, slashing back at anything that tried to get near us (and doing a decent job of it). The Dragon Shaman was holding on to the ropes dragging him for dear life, so he couldn't do anything but bank left and right to dodge them and hit them with an occasional fire breath. Everything was happening too fast for him to tell if it was working on them or not.

    The Kobold at first thought he couldn't do anything either, since he was clinging to the Dragon Shamans neck and holding on to HIM for dear life. Then it occurred to him that, if these things were undead, he could hit them with an Opportunistic Piety. He single handedly 'blew up' three of them in flashes of holy wrath by hitting them with Turn Undead uses. I popped two, and the Swashbuckler hacked three, and the Dragon Shaman was finally vindicated when he roasted the last one and watch it fall silently out of the sky.

    Deep Rising


    The rest of our flight (and nights spent camping) were uneventful. Only so much happens in a frozen wasteland. When we made it back to the ship, we were relived to discover that it was intact. It had taken some beating from the elements, but it was in good shape. The skeletons with barge poles had done a good job of keeping it away from the wall, and it appeared to be unbothered by any manner of creature.

    So we lashed the dragon back to the bow and had it pull us towards the jungle continent. We could see, in some areas, dark clouds on the horizon. Everytime we saw them, we had to wonder if it was natural storm clouds, or the drifter coming our way. occasionally, stray Drifter bugs WOULD find us... small swarms that would scurry around the deck in a deliberate suicide mission, searching for a way below deck to the angel (not knowing there was nothing but a feather and a bit of golden hair below decks).

    We could fight the swarms without too much difficulty, but it made us feel caged and cornered, even though we were on the open seas. The bugs were spread out. Searching. They didn't all descend on us immediately, which was a plus. Maybe they couldn't pinpoint us instantly just by finding us. Just get a vague sense of direction and nothing more.

    It was halfway between the arctic and the jungle continent when it happened. The entire ship rocked with a horrible sickening lurch, and we leaned to one side before settling back on an even course. Naturally we all ran to the edge and looked over into the waters... at first it looked like nothing was there.

    That's how big the creature was.

    The waters were darker where it swam under our ship. Out a ways we could see the lighter waters, and we realized how screwed we were. It was a kraken. A giant squid that utterly dwarfed our ship. And as our vessel bucked and groaned under the pressure again, we could see a golden glowing rune just below the surface.

    Swashbuckler: "Roll initiative, I'm diving in."

    Kobold: "NO. We need to get on the mounts and take to the skies. It's sad, but it's time to abandon ship."

    Dragon Shaman: "I'm not willing to abandon ship. If you guys want to fly off, that's fine, but I'm staying to fight this thing, and I'm going down with the ship."

    I have the dragon bank hard left (as hard left as a zombie can turn anyway). The kraken veers off a ways slowly before jetting back and striking our underside, rocking us horribly again. Then it jets off ahead of us and turns around.

    Kobold: "You can't give up your life over a boat. It's admirable for the captain to go down with his ship and all, but there's obviously more important things going on. We need you."

    Dragon Shaman: "I shake my head sadly and lash a rope around my wrist before drawing my sword and getting ready to swing overboard for a hit at this thing when it comes back."

    Kobold: "It will swallow you WHOLE if it gets a chance, look at the size of it! It's five times the size of the SHIP, which is twenty times the size of US."

    The Kraken jets back at the bow, and I order the dragon to fly straight up. The ship rocks back as it it hit a giant wave and groans horribly from the shift in weight. The kraken clips the underside of the stern before the weight of the ship causes the dragon to crash back down to the water, and I order it to resume flying straight. The Kraken is behind us now, and circling around at another strike on our left.

    Me: "Why in the world doesn't it just wrap its tentacles around the boat and capsize us?"

    Kobold: "Same reason the dragon didn't ram itself through the hull and tear us apart from the inside out. It doesn't want to risk killing the angel that isn't actually there."

    The Kraken jets forward at us, and I have the dragon bank hard right. The Kraken clips the back left of our ship and tears off a great portion of the wooden planks all along the side in the process. The Dragon Shaman swings down and plunges his sword into the beasts side, and the DM decided that do to circumstances (the squid moving multiple hundreds of feet per round with a sword being raked down its side) that the hit was triple damage. We could still tell it barely scratched the thing.

    Dragon Shaman: "We're not going to be able to kill it, are we?"

    Kobold: "It tore open part of the hull. We're going to sink."

    Dragon Shaman: "We already know the dragon pulls us above the waterline. We can take on water and still sail fine as long as the Dragon's pulling us."

    Swashbuckler: "Wait! How strong is the dragon? Can it lift the ship?
    DM: Not a chance."

    Swashbuckler: "What if the bat helped? The bat's pretty darn strong too, right?"

    DM: "Even with both of them you're looking at 1/5th the carrying capacity necessary to lift, let alone fly."

    The Kraken jets at us again and tears off another section of the hull. Its tentacles grope around inside for a minute before it swims off for another strike.

    Kobold: "...What about just the deck?"

    DM: "...Huh?"

    Kobold: "We go around smashing at the support struts and the planks below the deckline. If we can get it weak enough, the kraken will just tear the entire bottom of the ship clean off when it hits. Can the dragon and bat combined lift just the deck, us, and some cargo?"

    DM: "Hold on *scribbles some notes before smiling* Yes. Actually the dragon himself should be able to do it."

    Kobold, looking at the Dragon Shaman: "....Captain?"

    Dragon Shaman: "Yeah. Let's do it. I swing over the edge and start kicking planks loose below the deckline."

    Swashbuckler: "Me and the kobold will go start chopping at the struts
    Me: I'll call the dragon back and start roping it to the deck as centered as I can."

    The Kraken strikes us again, tearing off another huge portion of the hull and groping around inside for a target that doesn't exist. I popped it with an eldritch blast and it jetted off to the side in anger, preparing another strike.

    By the time it circled and jetted at us twice more though, the kobolds plan went perfectly. With a ragged cracking tearing sound, the entire hull of the ship came clean (well, pretty ragged actually) off from the rest, leaving nothing but the deck, the captains quarters, and the dazed looking crew cheering and flying off into the sky. The Kraken made a lunging strike at us with its tentacles, but it was nowhere close enough to knock us back to the waters. I still hit it with an eldritch spear out of spite.

    The upside is our ship is now... well, one of a kind for sure. The downside is that the feather was below deck, so now the Drifter knows it was chasing nothing. Which PROBABLY means it's going to be heading for the jungle too. Can it sense the angel somehow? If it can, it's going to tear the feather apart and head in the same direction we are.

    We spent the rest of the flight towards the jungle carefully cutting loose the jagged planks and making the bottom of the deck as smooth as possible for landings. Along the way, I also turned to the two remaining skeleton crew, and said "I suppose you're not needed any more. Jump over the edge. If you survive the fall, destroy each other".

    The Kobold responded with "Wow, cold", but agreed that we didn't need a manned crew anymore, and I might as well have the extra room in my controllable undead capacity.

    The DM let us transfer control between the undead creatures, so I gave up the sole remaining bat to the swashbuckler. It's officially his mount, his property, and under his mental control now. We're going to try to find a flying mount for the kobold too, hopefully by next level when the Dragon Shaman will be able to fly constantly under his own power. Then we'll all be airborne effectively as much as we want.

    We've also started modifying the deck of the ship to get ready to install metal grips for the dragon in the center of things. That way we won't have to rope him to it, I can just make him grab or let go as the situation calls for. That way we can land, take the dragon with us quickly, and still just fly back, grab ahold, and take off with relative speed.

    When I asked the Dragon Shaman about installing the grips on his deck, he just shook his head and said very solemnly "yeah... about that. I can't be captain anymore. I'm relinquishing command to you, it's your ship now."
    We were all quiet at that for a minute. I just said softly "I'm sorry", but the Dragon Shaman said not to be. That sometimes the wrong course of action might still be the only way to lead to the right result.

    We re-christened the ship with one of the bottles of rum we'd taken from the decrepit ship in the arctic. Since we had a blue dragon as our central power source, I wanted to name the ship the FS Bluebird. The party liked it, so we christened it as such and sailed/flew on to the jungle.
    Last edited by 13_CBS; 2009-07-06 at 10:56 PM.