Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Shadow Rift (05/16/2010)

A couple of notes to start – first of all, in the previous post I stated that the players were all back for the week when indeed this was not true. Mark had to miss, so my apologies to him. Secondly, I apologize for the lateness of this report. This past week was very busy and then I have been fighting a cold on top of that.

Now that the adventurers have killed the last opponent in the Cathedral of Shadows the eerie quiet resumed, broken up only by the occasional drip-drip of blood from the altar or from around the pit. Still leery of other enemies in the dark the party did a quick sweep of the room, poking into the darkened areas in the corners of the cathedral and into the rooms in the area behind the altar. No secrets or magic were to be found, so the party’s focus turned to the pit in the middle of the floor.

A desecrated body on the altar still dripped blood, the precious drops of life spilling onto the floor and wending its way around to grated area that surrounded the pit. As the party looked down into the pit they saw four blood covered chains secured to the pit walls, and maybe fifty feet below sat a shallow pool of blood on the floor of a lit room.

The dark feeling of foreboding the party had felt for the last few days had not abated, and if anything possibly was felt even stronger as they stood at the top of the pit. The decision was made – down. The chains were slippery, and Jenneth and Eldred took some damage from falling at least partway to the floor below.

Once the party arrived they saw the hellish view of the shadow rift. Perhaps a dozen large torches illuminated the area. The shallow pool of blood they stood in drizzled off in different directions towards grates in the floor. On the north wall was a black pulsing and swirling maelstrom contained within the bounds of a large stone hewn mantle. In front of this a large runed covered section of floor that glowed bright blue. On the south wall stood a huge statue of Orcus pointing a skull capped wand in the direction of the rift. On a raised dais to the east stood two smaller statues of Orcus and a gaunt looking character, a Deathlock Wight. To the west stood four Skeleton Sentinels providing a guard for a solitary human that stood in front of an altar surrounded by large pillars, reading from a book, and muttering fervent prayers – the party had no doubt that Kalarel had been found.

Unhappy at being disturbed Kalarel spun around and directed the troops to attack. The party was still ankle deep in the shallow pool of blood and had to move carefully to avoid slippage, and the battle ensued. The four skeleton minions were quickly taken down and Krstic and Oester rapidly advanced on Kalarel only to have Kalarel teleport himself to the runed floor area in front of the rift.

The wight approached from the east and as he reached the middle of the room began to engage Bogar. After a round of fighting the skeleton minions suddenly arose and continued their fight  …

DM Note: I screwed up. In preparation for the evening’s action I had reviewed the monsters and tactics in the PDF version of the adventure booklet I downloaded from the Wizards website. It is slightly different that the book version I happened to have in my hands when actually DM’ing. The PDF version used Skeleton Sentinel minions, the book used 45 HP Skeleton Warriors, the difference being the wight’s reanimation ability isn’t supposed to affect minions. Given that I had stated with minions I preferred to continue, so the DM ruled that for this battle the wight would be allowed to reanimate the minions. This worked for the sake of the battle, and while reanimating minions were definitely a nuisance to the party, in the long run it was probably a little easier on the party than reanimating non-minions.

With the combatants otherwise occupied Atka spent a turn and determined that the blue runes offered some level of defensive support and that it could be destroyed, but that destroying it would take awhile. By this time the skeletons and the wight were making their way toward the runed area in support of Kalarel so Akta was forced to resume his fighting, although Krstic did manage to shove Kalarel off the runed floor area for a turn.

As Oester moved across the blue runed floor in an attempt to sneak up on an opponent the wight suddenly turned a used his Horrific Visage ability to push Oester three squares and into the black wall of the rift. Temporarily stuck in never-never land of the chaos world it took several successful saving throws before he was able to claw his way back out.

As Krstic and Kalarel fought several other things occurred. Jenneth set his semi-permanent but movable fireball next to Kalarel to keep up the damage, but tentacle like arms began reaching out from the rift, slapping at anybody who got to close. They did some amount of damage and if the character got hit just right they were drug toward the rift itself.

DM Note: In Krstic’s case, the “thing in the portal” missed its attacks on him eight consecutive times.

The battle raged on, but the party soon killed the wight, the minions stopped reanimating, and eventually Kalarel himself fell. As the quiet resumed the party looked around and saw:

4 Skeleton Sentinels, each wielding a longsword and carrying a shortbow and a quiver of 30 arrows.

1 Deathlock Wight

1 Kalarel, Scion of Orcus, wearing scale armor and carrying a rod.

The battle had just finished so the party has not had a chance to do further inspection in the room, but each party member earned 150 XP.

The enemy combatants may all be dead, but the horrible pressing feeling of gloom has not yet disappeared. Next week the party will learn the fate of the black swirling mist that is the shadow rift.

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