Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back into the Labyrinth (10/17/2010)

Everyone one was in attendance again this week and after having survived Paldemar's attempt at a trap the previous week was eager to follow-up on the new clues found in the captured scrolls. The clues included a map showing the location of the Well of Demons, but the party was well aware that in the labyrinth knowing where something was and then being able to find it were often two different things.

With a short rest behind them the party was able to dig their way out of the cave past the large boulder that was now blocking the cave's mouth. The party had decided to bring along the large bronze great axe of the now destroyed Bronze Warder. They had decided it if the Mages of Sauron got involved they might need some additional evidence to back up their claims.

As the party arrived back at the hall they entered through the northern door of the Seven Pillared Hall. Brugg, the ogre guard under employ to the Mages, happened to be nearby, and upon seeing the party immediately reacted.

"Hey! What are you scum up to now?" The ogre seemed poised to continue his string of insults when the bronze axe appeared, bring the ogre to a quick halt. Although temporarily stunned, the ogre stammered on by saying "Oh, you ... you've done it now! The mages aren't going to like this at all." With a spin the ogre turned and trotted off, looking much like someone who couldn't wait to tattle to the teacher.

Much like the previous day when the party had returned from the Horned Hold any hope of discretion soon evaporated. One, two and then a third mage (Orontor) quickly appeared. Rendil also ran to join in the confrontation, thus ensuring the volume level would be raised. Brugg also rejoined the group, and the never ending argument between Rendil and Brugg did little more then add to the confusion.

As the accusations and rebuttals started to fly it was Eldred who suggested that perhaps the Mages and the party should agree to adjourn to a quieter location for a more serious discussion. The mob moved to the Customs House to use the offices therein, but as before Brugg and Rendil were kept outside so that their argument wouldn't hinder the discussion inside. Oester provided the mages details about the tieflings, their offer, their proof of sincerity, and then how the trap in the cave was set. This then gave the party an opportunity to ask a few pointed questions of their own.

The first Mage of Sauron started to answer questions, perhaps somewhat vaguely, by stating that Paldemar had been a member of the Mages, but he had left on his own several months previous and no one knew of his whereabouts since, but yes, it was possible he was still in the labyrinth.

As for the Bronze Warder, the mage stated that they found the warders when they arrived in the hall many year ago and found the way to control the warders through the amulets. It was possible, and indeed likely, that more warders resided in the depths of the labyrinth. But without the amulet and the keyword the warder was not much more than a large bronze statue.

Then the mage asked for the bronze great axe and the amulet the party had acquired while in the cave. The party protested innocence as to the amulet, but the great axe was certainly available for a price. The mage insisted the party had the amulet because they were to clever to not have found it, but the idea of making a deal appealed to him.

So after some back and forth the deal was struck - the party would turnover the axe and the amulet and kill Paldemar and the mages would use their considerable magic abilities to benefit the party as a reward. Specifically, they would create an 8th level magic item for each of the party members of this whole Paldemar business could be eliminated. The party did find it peculiar that Paldemar's existence had barely been acknowledged originally but was now the linchpin to the deal. The consensus of most party members was that they'd kill him for free, but this deal was good as well.

DM Notes: This deal was essentially the same one offered by Menos for the Keep of the Shadowfell adventure, albeit at a higher level. The DM could easily adjust the GP and XP values according to our higher number of players, but adjusting magic items isn't quite as straight forward. I have been sticking to the magic items as provided in the adventure book, but then adding the option to acquire a magic item at the end as part of the reward.

Once the meeting adjourned the party spent a few minutes deciding how to proceed. They had several hints and clues that the next step was to find the Well of Demons and to find what answers lay there. A review of the map revealed a major passageway that would at least get the party near, although some dungeoneering might be required once the party left the main passage. Each party member had previously cultivated a contact in town so after a little sniffing around the party members found out the following:

1) There were certainly a pack of gnolls that ran in the labyrinth, one would assume they had a leader - Maldrick Scarmaker? Sure, why not?

2) The Well of Demons was some sort of ancient religious shrine, one of the dragon gods

3) It was an ancient minotaur training site, one of those "rites of passage" things

4) Demons - and worse - live there now

5) Pffft - there was no such place

6) Supposedly there were ancient relics that were required to open a secret door to some sort of inner chamber

It was early in the afternoon when the party began their trek to find the Well of Demons. The main passage was certainly not a straight one as there were plenty of twists and turns therein. The party moved a little more cautiously this time as well as they had been surprised several times in different passageways already, so travel went at a steady but slow pace. And as before, the ancient halls often reverberated with strange noises, random foot steps, chilling laughter, or a mysterious growl that would echo from some unknown location.

After following the map the party arrived at the junction that looked  to be the likely spot for moving into one of the smaller and more unkempt passages in the hope of finding the Well of Demons. Maive looked for tracks and while there were to be find in the occasional spot of gravel or loose soil, nothing specific could be gained. After some discussion it was decided that doorway #2 would be taken when Renny's dungeoneering skills came into play.

It was down this path that Krstic almost walked directly into the maw of a Gelatinous Cube. Krstic immediately yelled for the party to get back as he and Bogar stepped forward to battle the large opaque beast. The cube promptly engulfed both of them. The rest of the party, promptly ignoring Krstic, began to pepper the cube with ranged attacks, but the beast continued to charge, and furthermore, several black flying shadows could be seen flitting around behind the cube as if waiting to attack.

DM Notes: The discussion came up about Jenneth being able to set off spells in the area behind the cube. The DM decided that the cube filled up the hallway enough to hold back the still-as-of-yet-unknown flying things behind the cube, so Jenneth wouldn't be able to affect the area behind the cube.

Both Krstic and Bogar managed to escape their temporary imprisonment inside the cube and began to add their mighty attacks as well. The cube then managed to slam and immobilize Bogar, and of course since the cube got to automatically engulf any immobilized character Bogar got to go swimming in acid yet again.

DM Note: That was the DM's one goal for the night, to get the cube in a position to accomplish this. However, it was not the DM's fault that Bogar was still immobilized ~10 rounds later, even after receiving substantial magical saving throw assistance from several different party members.

Fortunately for Bogar the cube soon fizzled into a meaningless pool of acid and the wraiths that had been held back by the bulk of the cube were now free to attack. The wraiths flew at the party in a frenzy and did their best to inflict necrotic damage and to weaken party members, but it was too little too late and the party soon eliminated them as well. As the party looked around they saw:

1 Gelatinous Cube

2 Forge Wisp Wraith Minions

3 Wraith's

No magic or secrets were found and the monsters carried no GP. Each member of the party earned 165 XP for the encounter.

After a brief rest the party moved on until they reached two large minotaur statues stationed on each side of a passageway that lead into a large room. Had the party reached the Well of Demons?

Score Card: With the completion of this encounter the party had accumulated an additional 1005 GP, 578 SP, and 1400 GP in gems. With the 165 XP earned during this encounter the party had accumulated 7500 XP (7500 needed to reach Level 6). Including this encounter Renny was sitting at 4520 XP (5500 needed to reach Level 5).

Game Night - We will be back at RnJ's next week. Brian will miss this week, and possibly Dave.

Reminder: The original party members made it to Level 6 this week, so please let me have your Level 6 Utility Power choice and your Feat choice before Saturday. I will have updated character sheets in time for Sunday night.

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