The Thin World

2008 0412

Hi gang,

We had a trio of fairly short trips to Acererak's lair this time around.

We played a bunch with the stones surrounding the first smokey portal.
We were good, and had Nevermore and Brother Anathama use it only,
with a system of empathizing for primitive communication between
Anatham and Tarman via Nevermore.  We discovered that there are
at least 3 ways in which teleporting can happen.  With smoke filling
it, it takes us to the room of 3 levers.  If you press the three
glowing stones starting with the lower left in a clockwise direction
and walk in on the red path, it takes you to the room with the stone
gargoyle statue.  If you press them and walk through NOT on the
red path, it takes you to the entrance of the cave.  In both cases
you aren't stripped of your possessions.

Finished with that, we planned to go back to the lower hall with
all the colored orbs, but then we realized there might be something
behind the fresco in the hallway of a man in a prison.  We were
right – behind the plaster was a door.  Behind the door a room.  In
the room two more doors, and a badass gargoyle that kicked our asses
(and laid me out cold).  Thanks to Tarman the teleporter, we didn't die.

And after (again) a few days of recovery and additional spells and
potions and scrolls, we came back for more punishment.  This time
we used a Silence spell to head directly to the archway, and from
there to the room of the statue and then out to the "orb hallway".
First though we checked out the 3-armed gargyle statue, and noted
that the three attached hands were cupped into a shape that would
nicely hold a gem (the fourth didn't want to automatically re-attach
when I held it up into place).

We explored the two orbs we hadn't looked in before – one was
a series of arrow-trap filled secret door filled rooms, the other
a passageway to an evil temple.  We first went the temple route,
and explored the evil 70'x70' temple.  It had 8 large pews, an
evil altar, two urns, two candelabras, and the skeleton of a
dead human in chainmail pointing to the third smoke-filled
archway.  We did a careful and thorough search, and found a
small slot along the wall opposite the archway.  Putting a coin
in it resulted in no effect.  Perhaps this is where we have to
put the "band of magic metal".

Examinging the two urns, we found that one was buzzing, and had
something magical inside as well as two evil things inside.  So
we stood far back, Eversmall shot at it with sling bolts to break
it open, while Tarman readied a spell to attack whatever came out.
On the fourth sling bolt, it cracked open slightly, and two clouds
of insects spewed forth, which Tarman promptly Fireballed.  Eversmall
then attempted to turn them, and succeded in turning one cloud!
Tig and I threw holy water, acid, and oil on the other cloud that
was slowly moving toward us while Tarman used Scortching Rays to
kill it.  He then killed the other one (that was fleeing Eversmall),
while I checked out the urn.  I found an amulet – a gem on a chain.

We then searched the rest of the room, and found lots of coins in
6 of the eight pews.  We found two set of pews with 4,000sp in them,
two sets with 500gp in them, and two sets with 2,000gp in them.  We
also found two empty pews that had traps set on them.  More searching
and evil and magic detection turned up that the altar was both
evil and magic, the amulet magic (we knew that), and the smoke-filled
portal magic.

We left the room and returned to the succession of arrow-trap-filled
rooms connected by secret doors, and using the stoneskin scrolls we
worked our way through them to a final room with a real door.
We opened this, only to discover it was one of the two other doors
of the room with the original badass gargyle.  We slammed the door
shut, but he pulled it open – just as Tarman the transporter
saved our asses again.

After an overnight to regain spells, we headed back just to get to
the temple to grab all the coins (we brought sacks).

Back in Nordsea, we took the amulet to the Mages guild and found
out it is an amulet of wound closure, worth 15,000gp.


And thus ended our day of play.


We received 750XP each, and have treasure valued at:
 15,000gp amulet
 5,000gp coins
 8,000sp coins
-
 20,800gp loot

I'm guesing that we still have around 3,000gp unspent from our earlier
15,000gp (after getting +1 weapons for Tig & Eversmall: ~4,000gp; and
+1 armour and +1 shield for Eversmall: ~2,000gp; full set of masterwork
weapons and simple armor for Tig and various supplies and 3 sets of
1st level spell wands and 6x high level scrolls: ~4,000gp and a new
spellbook for Tarman: ~1,000gp + misc. ~1,000gp).  So assume 24,000gp
to spend on beefing ourselves up.

We've invested first in general party consumables (wands, potions,
scrolls), and in ensuring all have some magic weapon, and in our first
fighter so he can have a good AC.

I suggest our next round of investments must first include a magic loop
of metal (which we presume will need to be sacrifieced to get through
the third smokey archway), as well as beefing up Anathama and Tig, and
perhaps Tarman.

Therefore, I propose the following purchases:

 2,000gp Ring of Protection +1 for Brother Anathama
 2,000gp Ring of Protection +1 for Tarman
 4,000gp Gloves of Dexterity +2 for Tig
 4,000gp Periapt of Wisdom +2 for Brother Anathama
 3,000gp Armor upgrade for Eversmall to +2 chain shirt
 —-
15,000gp total spent

That still leaves us with another 9,000gp unspent.  Places that money
could go (returning to us stuff we used to have):

 5,500gp Boots of Striding and Springing for Eversmall
 2,000gp Magic melee weapon for Eversmall (e.g. +1 sling)
 3,000gp Second armor upgrade for Eversmall (e.g. +2 shield)

 4,000gp Gloves of Dexterity +2 for Brother Anathama

 1,000gp/each for Pearls of Power 1st level spell for Tarman

 2,000gp Heward's Handy Haversack (120 lbs) for Tig
 2,500gp Bag of Holding Type 1 (holds 250lbs in 30cuft) for Tig

My personal votes are for the bag of holding (the 250lbs is more
valuable to us), improving either Eversmall's armor or giving him
a magic ranged weapon, and giving Anathama +2 to DEX.


Thoughts?

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Test from Brother Anathama
Yo baby

Yo!

View
2008 0301 recap

Hi gang,

Attached below is the story retelling for our play tomorrow (do we have
a final settled start time and end time?).


We have 15,000gp to spend on supplies for our presumed re-assault on
Acererak's stronghold.  With this, I suggest we purchase the following:

 1. A +1 magic weapon Tig & Eversmall (~2,000gp each)
 2. Masterwork weapon(s) for Anathama and perhaps Tarman
 3. Good armor for Eversmall
 4. Thieve's tools (masterwork?) for Tig
 5. Spellbook for Tarman
 6. Our usual complement of wands, cure potions, etc.
 7. The additional equippage we got for our last assault on Acererak's
   place

If we have significant money left over (we should), we might invest
in additional stuff: e.g. magic armor for Eversmall, magic protection
for Anathama (or a DEX/WIS boost).  We hope to get all our stuff
back of course, in which case we might re-sell the stuff we are now
buying and all.

We might also leave some "money in the bank" – we don't have to
spend it all after all.


Peter



=====================

Hi gang,

This is the first of probably two e-mails about our play last Saturday.
Here I'll cover a retelling of what went down.  Next I'll report on
the tallying of loot (which perhaps seems unnecessary, but I am hopeful
we may recover it…).  I'll also share some thoughts on what we might
do going forward…


So,

We did as planned before: teleported back via Eaglecrest (exchanging all
our booty into gold at that point), and thence back to Nordsea where we
paid our 4,800gp debt but with a 10% penalty (so 5,480gp), and finally
returned Father Duran to his parish.  We then did our training (being 9th
level now), Tarman got some 3 new spells, and we purchased some
magics: +2 robe of CHA for Eversmall (4,000gp), +2 Ring of Protection
for Tarman (8,000gp) and two new 5th level spells into the spellbook
(1,500gp).  Tarman also casts a Permancy Spell on a Resistance spell
on himself, gaining a +1 to all saves, permantly (at the cost of 500XP).


Then we all have this dream, 'cept for Eversmall it's a repeat, and then he
gets a bonus feature after.  In the dream 6 figures in cloaks are chanting
above/around a pool.  A 7th appears, she has the Beam of Pelor, the
chanting becomes screaming, and the Beam goes into the pool.  As it sinks,
the light of the world dims.  Eversmall's bonus feature is that we need
to obtain the Journal of Aisling, a crazy wizard's artifact, which will
somehow help us prevent the Beam of Pelor from being quenched (and with
it the Sun).

Aisling, we determine, is like this kick-ass but crazy dude who was way
into extra-planar research.  An acolyte of Bocob perhaps.  Anyway, seems
his Journal is with the Demi-Litch Acerarak, on the Isle of Dreams.  We
do some more research (on litches in general, Acerarak in particular),
and think we need to be prepared for poison gas, attribute reductions
in general, and may need to attack him mentally as well as his corporeal
form (such as we may find it).  We also know that we need to prepare
to enter into a well guarded place – we expect to find traps and other
magics to prevent us from getting the Journal.


We equip ourselves for the trip: 5 scrolls of Restoration, 2 scrolls
each of Bull's Strength, Eagle's Spelndor, and Owl's Wisdom, 2 scrolls
of teleport, and 5 scrolls of Undetectable Alignment (to hide Eversmall).
Then after suitable study of the Isle of Dreams, on a early morning,
Tarman teleports the four of us there.

After adjusting to the change in climate, we scout a bit (and thanks
to Nevermore), find that we are on a hill in a set of rocks that from above
resemble a skull).  After searching for a bit, we find at the Northern
base of the hill, hidden by scrub, a hallway entrance.  We cast a few
spells to get the adventure off right – Mass Darkvision, Mage Armor
for Tarman & I (via wand), and Message so we all can talk.  We head down it
toward a pair of doors at the end, and as we get most of the way there
the wall behind us rapidly closes behind us, trapping us there.  I react
quickly, and manage to get a set of nunchaku I'd recently purchased in
between the existing wall and the closing wall, leaving a slight opening.
As Tarman & Tig look to open the doors at the end, Eversmall and I try
to pull back this wall.  No luck (even with Bull's Strength), and then
we have a new problem – the ceiling starts coming down onto us.  After
just a few moments more of this, we say "fuck this noise" and use
one Dimension Door charge of Tig's Spider Medalion to move back out to
the mouth of the opening.  The ceiling continues to grind down, where
it would have crushed us.

We do more searching outside, and find two more entrances to the
right.  The middle one is ornately decorated, the right bare and covered
with cobwebs.  So, we go back to the middle cave, with all the paintings
on the walls and floor.  I notice some writing, in common, on the floor:

 ACERERAK CONGRATULATES YOU ON YOUR
 POWERS OF OBSERVATION. SO MAKE OF THIS
 WHATEVER YOU WISH, FOR YOU WILL BE MINE IN
 THE END NO MATTER WHAT!
 Go back to the tormentor or through the arch,
 and the second great hall you'll discover.
 Shun green if you can, but night's good color
 is for those of great valor.
 If shades of red stand for blood the wise
 will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of
 magical metal – you're well along your march.
 Two pits along the way will be found to lead
 to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall.
 These keys and those are most important of all,
 and beware of trembling hands and what will maul.
 If you find the false you find the true
 and into the columned hall you'll come,
 and there the throne that's key and keyed.
 The iron men of visage grim do more than
 meets the viewer's eye.
 You've left and left and found my Tomb
 and now your soul will die.

This time we aren't taking any chances with traps, and so I click my
heels together and fly, holding Tig, as we carefully check out the entire
long and 20' wide corridor.  We find a whole bunch of pit traps, a
green face at the far wall, and a smoke-filled arch at the left side
wall just before the far wall.  Just a short way in on the right a
small box protrudes from a painting.  So we return there and Tig finds
and disarms a trap, which opens the box from below.  Nothing falls out.
She then finds a lever inside, and we remotely pull it springing the
pit below us – 30' down with spikes at the bottom.  We search it, and
find a pair of goggles that emanate slight magic (Tarman checks this).
No evil, so I put 'em on and notice nothing different.

We hed back to the mouth of the entrance, and I then lead the party,
kinda flying but putting my weight down enough to spring pit traps.
I try to spring each one we find, and in turn, find a few Tig missed
the first time! (bad Tig!).  We mark a path that we follow, all the
way to the end of the corridor – where the face & misty arch are.

I carefully start to poke my head into the arch, and am immediately
teleported into a 10'x10' room with three levers in it, all in a
middle position (not angled up or down).  I move out of the center,
and carefully examine things, listen, spot, etc.  I also try using
the Message that Tarman cast, but no luck communicating.  So I just
meditate for a while, expecting that at some point my companions
will eventually come through.

And sure enough, after a few minutes each comes through in turn,
starting with Eversmall.  Unbeknownst to me, Eversmall has the option
with his Dwarven Bracers to resist teleportion, and the first time
he choose to do so.  The second time he didn't, and arrived here.
At this point we realize Tarman should have sent Nevermore in,
who I can talk to and and who has an empathic bond with Tarman,
to effect some form of communication.  [note: this realization is
important, and alas we forget to use it later when we should have!]

Tig does the thorough searching thing, and finds the entire floor is
a trap, as is a small opening in the ceiling.  With our last Bull's
Strength & my second Fly of the day (thanks boots!), I have everyone
ready holding onto me (and Tarman is ready to Teleport us to safety),
and Tig pops open the trap door in the ceiling.  I head there first,
flying carefully to not touch things (which I mostly do), and find
my way back to one of the pits in the painted hallway we came in on.
I come back, we do the Fly thing, and Tig releases the floor.

We can't see the bottom, and so slowly fly down.  40' down, we see
some ~6 creatures at the bottom.  They are evil.  Tarman calls out
to be sure we don't kill things we can get info from, but when they
don't respond, he fireballs 'em.  One is barely left alive, but
we quickly fix that with Magic Missle.  We come to bottom, and find
that they were small, weierd, animated dutritis!  Careful searching
finds no openings.

So we head all the way out to back in front of the green face thing.
It has an open mouth.  Upon finding that it is evil, we step back
a distance, and Eversmall flings a blessed stone from his sling,
hitting it square in the nose.  No effect.  Then another into its
gaping (and pitch black) maw.  Again nothing.  So I want over and
stick a crossbow bolt into the mouth, routing around trying to
feel what is on the other side.  When I pull the bolt out, nothing
comes out – everything that was placed inside the maw is gone.

Seeing no way further, we temporarily give up and head over to the
third cave.  We check this one out, and partway in (going real slow,
with Tig checking very carefully), Tig tells us that the ceiling is a
trap – designed to cave in.  So we all get (quietly, carefully) out of
the cave.  She goes back in, ready to Dimension Door out at an instant's
notice, and disarms the trap from the far doors.  She then comes out,
Tarman Knocks them at a distance to open them up.  They open, and we
see that they are covering nothing but stone a brief instant before the
ceiling caves in.

Frustrated, we head back to the middle cave, and re-check practically
every wall, floor, and ceiling for secret doors.  And we find one!
It was in the crawlspace!

That led to a room with 3 chests in it – gold, silver, and wood.
Tig checked all for traps, and then we opened the wood chest.  Immediately
a giant skeleton appeared, and we had quite a pitched battle with it.
It had massive reach, seemed immune to Tarman's spells, was damn hard
to hit, and dealt massive damage in each of its 3 attacks/round.
He brought Tig down to near 0 HP, and hurt Eversmall deeply as well.
Eversmall's attempt (at my suggestion) to turn the skeleton failed.
Thanks to a Stoneskin spell from Tarman, I was able to withstand the
skeleton's blows.  Tig stuck it into place with a tanglefoot bag
(damn but those are useful!), and then while everyone gathered around
Tarman and prepared to Teleport away I let Stoneskin (and Mage Armor
and Dodge) be my protection while I finally managed to kill it.

So we healed ourselves (lots of CLW wand charges), and then arranged
ourselves to deal with any risks from the silver chest.  I opened
it, and found a crystal box inside with a ring inside that.  I then
foolishly opened the box (instead of turning it over to our master
trap-checker Tig), and sprung a trap of darts that went flying all
around the room (and hitting all of us).  Oops!

After another bit of healing, we arranged ourselves for the third
and final chest.  Once opened, a dozen or so snakes appeared,
writhing on the chest (and moving to attack us).  Another Tanglefoot
bag (did I mention those are handy?) trapped most of the snakes in
the chest.  The few that got out and attacked Eversmall were quickly
dispatched by him.  The remaining in the chest we picked off (kinda
like fish in a barrel – or maybe snakes in a chest?).

>From here we found another secret door, leading to a 5' diameter
tube-like passage.  We followed it, and reached the second long
corridor of this adventure.  Like the first (perhaps somewhere up
above us in the mountain), it is filled with paintings, and has
a smoke-filled arch inside it.  We come out into the corridor
through a red colored hole held by a painted figure.  There are
a lot of other painted figures, each holding a colored sphere.
We check each one, and find that many are passages like the one
we came through (and many are not).  We check each one along the
far wall – two need to rooms, and two to doors.  Going right to
left, we find a room with a 3-armed gargoyle statue.  We decide
we dont want to fight it and leave that room.  Next is an opening
leading to a door, which opens onto a wall (with no secret door
on it).  Third is also an opening to a door to a wall.

The forth led to what appeared to be a somewhat trashed Wizard's
lab.  The only thing of immediate note in the room was a jar in
the far right corner, with something sloshing a bit in it (and
which Eversmall determines is evil).  While taking this all in,
something tries to mess with Eversmall (he succeeds on a Will save).
Then Tarman gets hit by something from behind.  Only Tig is behind
him, which quickly leads us experienced folks to think she may
be possessed (sigh).  I get hit with some sonic damange, and then
I move to be far away from the room (but with my eye on Tig), and
call out to folks that there is a problem with the room. Then
Tarman gets hit with sonic damage.  Tarman heads away from the room,
and when he passes Tig, she knocks him from behind (for non-lethal),
and succeeds in knocking him out.  Meanwhile, Eversmall put the
jar with what we now realize is a brain in the crystal box, and then
turns to look at what is going on behind him with Tig & Tarman and
such (turning his back on Evil – something we soon realize was a
bad idea).  I rush Tig to knock her out, and tell Eversmall to
KILL THE BRAIN!  Eversmall turns back, and finds the brain, the
jar, and the crystal box are gone!  But he quickly finds it, floating
in the air up in the near left corner of the room (out of reach).
Tig runs, I catch her, grapple her, and start rendering her unconscious
(interspersed with stuns to keep her from having a chance to use
Escape Artist to resist me).  Then the EVIL BRAIN attempts to Turn
Eversmall! (to an EVIL CLERIC BRAIN like this brain is, a Paladin
is perfectly turnable).  Fails, and so Eversmall does a "counter-turn"
and explodes the brain!  The crystal box falls, and quick thinking
(and reflexed) Eversmall catches it as it falls.  Meanwhile I finish
rendering Tig unconscious, and we all meet up outside the room (near
Tarman's unconscious form), and reconnoiter.  We restore Tig & Tarman
to health, and then check the room.

We find in the room little more of interest than an eye, and figuring
it to be some spell component, leave it to focus on the smoke-filled
arch.

Here – I realize in hindsight – we made two mistakes.  First, we went
to the arch next, without exploring the other rooms (especially the
one behind the black sphere) before tackling the arch.  Second, we
forgot the advice we gave to ourselves, to send me and Nevermore
in first – allowing me to talk with Nevermore (in Draconic), and
Nevermore to communicate empathically with Tarman.  Instead, Eversmall
heads through – using his Dwarven Bracers to "not be teleported"
in order to ascertain that it is in fact a teleportion device,
and then upon determining that, he and the rest of us quickly in turn
head through…

...and are deposited at the outside of the middle cave, naked.  Yes,
naked.  Without our clothes, without our gear, without our Spider
Medalions, without Tarman's spellbook – with nothing!  Well, at
least Nevermore still had his clothes (er, feathers).  And – while
counting our ass…ets, we also had our lives.  And thanks to Eversmall's
foresight, we still have the Beam of Pelor as it and Ferrix (and
Eversmall's lance) remain safe on the Astral Plane.

With little to lose, we went naked through the dungeon and back to the
second arch and tried going through the arch again – in hopes that this
time we'd get something back.  But no luck.


So we resigned ourselves to our situation – we'd have to return to
Nordsea, re-equip ourselves (and borrow as needed to get there), in
order to make another (and perhaps more careful) attempt.  But before
we headed back, we did a last walk-through of the dungeon to grab anything
of any possible value, to at least have some funds to trade at least for
clothes.  We grabbed the two scimitars that the giant skeleton had,
we tried (and failed) to move and take any of the chests (especially
the gold one), and then just before we left, we took the eye from the
wizard's lab.  Then Tarman teleported us – in the buff – back to a
private corner of the library in the Mages' Guild in Nordsea (a place
where there might be a tapestry or two we can use).


This is a semi-failure of ours (failure 'cause we didn't succeed and we
lost almost all our things, including the very important Spider Medalions;
only semi- 'cause we didn't loose the Beam and we kept our lives and we
gained a lot of useful information about Acererak's lair & style).
But, we got familiar with portions of his lair beyond the upper
large hall (which perhaps will place us behind some of his warding
areas [e.g. the face at the end of the first/upper hall], meaning that
he might not be (as) aware of our penetrating his lair a second time…

Also, we had one last bit of luck: the eye is actually the Bodack's
Eye, a very special (and nasty) magical device that is worth 25,000gp
(and the Mages' guild will immediately give us 15,000gp for it).  This
means we have capital to mount our second assult (though not to completely
replace our valuable and lost gear).



Now we have to decide what we do next…

(I have some thoughts about that, which I'll share in another e-mail).


But I would like to share a few reflections now about this adventure.

First, we played a long time this time.  I found that that was cool, but
that might not work for everyone else.  Second, Welcome to 9th level!
It feels to me like we've almost started playing a different game.  At
1st level our world pretty much ended at the end of our fists (or
arrows).  We were worrying about things immediately around us.  As we
moved up in levels through 4th level, this world expanded (and the power
of our fists grew), and we started thinking about issues like the
growing Kobold threat to Nordsea and the surrounding area.  Then our
world changed – welcome to 5th level.  Hello Fireball!  Hello serious
damage dealing.  Hello thinking about bigger issues – like what is this
Beam thing? and traveling across the countryside to Eaglecrest and
more.  And following a Quest.  We approached problems differently -
knocking folks out and interrogating them (vs. just killing them).
Strategies toward larger goals.  Tarman's spells increasingly included
non-damage spells (Tongues, Message, beef other folks up).

And now, welcome to 9th level.  We're dealing with issues of Gods!
(who the heck cares about Kobolds?).  We're teleporting across thousands
of miles!  And maybe our tactics and strategies need to change some
again…  5th level Wizard spells add very little to damage dealing;
instead they are about a grab bag of many different and useful (and
powerful) things.  Things for dealing with the very different situations
we are now starting to encounter.

And speaking of different situations, how about the Acererak lair?
Instead of spending most of our time fighting, we spent most of it
searching for and largely avoiding traps.  This is very different from
the kind of ways we have done dungeoneering previously [and I noted
that it seemed kinda boring for Paul & Alan for those couple of hours].
I dunno how much 9th level & beyond will be like this (I suspect that
much of the specifics are due to the nature of our task – breaking
into the well guarded/warded/trapped lair of a demi-litch), but
certainly we should think a bit about how the game is changing,
and how we might change with it (especially in ways to maximize our
enjoyment).


And finally, speaking of enjoyment, I really appreciated Wes' new
initiative system.  Having initiatives written out on the mat with
our names next to them definitely helped keep focus on what we needed
to be doing.  I dunno about the +2 bit for waiting – didn't make use
of that to any kind of specific advantage – but I think we should
keep that aspect a bit longer to see how it works.  I do miss the
ability to hold an action; perhaps we might work that in some way
(e.g. write the action off to the side and put a name next to it),
or perhaps in practice I'll find it doesn't matter.  Anyway, thank
you Wes for introducing this.



Well, I've written more than enough for one e-mail.  So, more thoughts
later on how we might mount another assault on Acererak and retrieve the
Journal of Aisling (not to mention our stolen stuff!).

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