Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Dinner with Mokmurian (02/21/2014)

The heroes have been on the run as they hoped to reach Mokmurian and defeat him quickly, before his madness could bring destruction to all of Varisia. Conna the Wise had provided directions – “enter his chamber from the west” – but cruel traps and vicious defenders have slowed the heroes down all along the way, and now from behind some unknown number of defenders can be heard advancing in the darkness. And even if the heroes do make it through Mokmurian’s defenses and avoid being trapped between his eager minions, would they still have enough to overcome Mokmurian himself?

Having defeated the stone golem in the room with the giant Cauldron of Giantkind and having driven off the Forgefiend once again the heroes decided it was best to immediately press on. From behind they could hear a battle ensue – the five dwarven miners the party had rescued had stayed behind to engage whoever was coming from behind. The heroes were not sure how effective a defense the dwarves could realistically put up, but they knew the dwarves were extremely eager to get in some licks of their own while they could. 

Selinor picked up the still reduced-size Reynard and the party continued west into the next room. The chill in this room wasn't quite enough to frost the floors and walls, but it was certainly enough to frost the breath. The room itself contained several large suits of armor mounted on what appear to be frozen or preserved ogres, trolls, and hill giants, all staged as if rallying for war. Even though they suspected the worst the party decided to run for the passages on the far side of the room.
The Headless Lord
Five of the suits of armor in the room were in fact worn by undead guardians posted here by Mokmurian. The leader of these undead was a headless zombie lord Mokmurian created from the body of a powerful ogre warlord. This figure was nearly 11 feet tall, dressed in plate armor and wielded a wicked-looking hatchet in each gauntleted hand. The figure's most horrifying feature, though, was the fact that it had no head - only a raw, ragged stump of a neck. As soon as the heroes darted in to the room the five defenders stumbled to life and the party found themselves surrounded.
Reynard cast a Wall of Force that essentially cut the room in half, trapping three of the zombie giants away from the party. The heroes were able to quickly eliminate one of the remaining zombies and then was able to concentrate on the Headless Lord. The headless creature soon succumbed to the blows from Stike and Selinor’s magic, but precious time had passed.
Reynard had been able to shape his Wall of Force in such a way that it also covered the passageway into this room, hoping to further delay their pursuers. As the party ran on, continuing west, they were able to look back and could see General Galenmir with three stone giants coming around the far corner, likely reinforcements he had gathered after he had escaped from the heroes earlier. The fate of the dwarves was unknown, but their doom seemed to be the likely outcome.
DM Note: For both of these wall spells last time and this time we walked through the effect and the duration of the spell, so we have been keeping a turned-based running clock. Tick-tock – the party knew that something was coming and about how long whoever it was would be delayed.
The hallway continued west and eventually angled into a north and west direction. Another passageway led south, but the heroes decided to ignore that possibility for now. As they turned up the passage to the northwest the Forgefiend appeared again, but with the clock still ticking Stike delivered one massive final blow to finally kill the elusive fire-breathing beast before he could do any more damage.
At the end of the passage was a great hallway, running east and west. This long hallway had a looming ceiling forty feet above and was decorated with an intricate display of stone supports and beams. The walls were carved in long swaths of densely scribed runes - the seven-pointed star was repeated often. To the far west the hallway had caved in entirely - a battered door protruded from the rubble, but the hall beyond was completely filled with detritus. To the east the hall ended at an immense bronze double door that bore a huge mirror-like silver inlay of the ubiquitous seven pointed star. This set of doors had no obvious hinges, handles, or locks, save for a single tiny star-shaped indention at the center of the larger mirrored star.
Sihedron Rune
The heroes knew the protective wall behind them would soon be crumbling, so they ran to the east to inspect the huge bronze doors. Several of the party members had a Sihedron Rune amulet as part of their possessions, but they were of a different size than the indentation in the door, so at least these amulets didn’t double as a key.
There several other doorways along this long hallway, but from the yells and the trampling of large giant size feet the party knew that General Galenmir and his reinforcements were on the way, and the three remaining zombie giants would be right behind them. Stike and Kheo waited on each side of the passageway with the hope of getting in a quick blow on the attackers when they appeared. Reynard, still one-foot tall, found a darkened portion of the hallway where he could hide and readied his few remaining spells, while Selinor inspected a few of the other doors up and down the long hallway.
General Galenmir
General Galenmir was the first to appear and as planned Stike and Kheo pounced, and while they both delivered sturdy blows the general kept his feet. This allowed the three stone giant reinforcements to move forward and engage in the battle. Stike and Kheo fought hard and soon the giants were all defeated … although the three remaining zombies could be heard shuffling up the hallway behind them. These plodding creatures did their best to fight the heroes as well, but Selinor returned to blast them with undead affecting spells and soon quiet returned to the hallway.

Selinor reported that three of the four doorways down the hallway to the west lead nowhere, but there was one, leading to the north, that likely was the way to proceed. After some quick healing from Selinor, the heroes moved down to this remaining closed door, and upon hearing nothing opened the door. This strange, empty room had been smoothed over to an even greater extent than the other chambers in this complex - every angle of the walls had been modified into a gentle arc, removing any element of harsh regular lines entirely from view. Patches of what appeared to be scorch marks stain the walls and floors here and there, especially to the south, where part of the wall had fallen away.
Hound of Tindalos
Seeing nothing, the party moved cautiously into the room. To the west of this room was another large set of bronze double-doors, but before the party could move further several dog-like creatures blinked into view. Each of the monsters was a gaunt, long-limbed quadruped with huge, soulless eyes and a toothy maw with both bite and claw attacks. Kheo attempted to use is Amulet of Animal Control to charm one of the beasts, but the extraplanar hounds appeared to be immune to mind-affecting effects.
The heroes were quick to fight back, but then the hounds disappeared – and then reappeared instantly elsewhere … which was which? They also appeared to have some sort of Gazing attack, but the heroes all resisted its effects. Once during the battle all three of the hounds disappeared for an entire round, only to then instantly reappear around the party members. However, they too were soon dispatched, leaving the party members facing east to a huge set of bronze doors.
The heroes took a deep breath, and with a firm resolve moved forward and pushed open the massive doors. This vast chamber might have once been a lecture hall, but now the place was now empty of furniture. Six five-foot-wide pillars, each carved with spiraling patterns of runes, rose up to support the hundred foot-high ceiling. Spread through the hall in neatly organized stacks and piles were arcane trappings, candles, books, scrolls, knives, and bundles of powders and ingredients - the entire place looked like an arcanist's laboratory or storeroom. At the east end of the room a wide flight of stairs rose up to a stone door in the wall, just north of a twenty foot-wide stage. Here sat a large mound of furs, an immense chair, and a table stacked high with more book and scrolls. An ironbound chest sat under the table against the far wall.
This room was once a lecture hall in which the Therassic wizard-monks expounded on their theories, debated the finer points of magic, and held symposiums to further their research; all of the furniture has long since crumbled to dust, leaving behind an immense chamber and a perfect fit for Mokmurian's inflated ego, so he had converted this entire room into his personal lab, workshop, library, and bedchamber.

Mokmurian was a powerful giant, though one would not initially come to this conclusion from his stature. At just over 10 feet tall he towered over humans, but in stone giant circles he was one of the worst things a giant can be: a runt. In many ways it was his height and the ridicule it provoked from his people that doomed him to his journey into the Kodar Mountains, where he became enslaved by Karzoug.

Mokmurian stood in the back of the room, his smile twisted in an evil grimace. As if he had anticipated the arrival of the heroes he cast a spell – a Solid Fog spell, a fog so thick that it not only hindered vision but movement and actions as well. Mokmurian then shot a Scorching Ray spell into the fog and hit Stike, much to the puzzlement of the heroes. Mokmurian's attack was amazingly accurate, yet the fog should have affected his vision as well.
Stike, Selinor, and Reynard plowed into the fog, knowing the only way to get to Mokmurian was to plunge ahead. Then the fog turned into a sickly yellowish-green color – Mokmurian had followed up with a Cloudkill right into the midst of the Solid Fog. Reynard took an unfortunate breath and lost a point of constitution, but Stike and Selinor were able to make it through unscathed. Kheo retreated, opting to avoid the potential further poison damage from the Cloudkill.
Now in the room the other three heroes could see Mokmurian in the middle of the room, flying, about ten feet in the air. Mokmurian laughed and taunted the heroes as they tried to mount their attack, and then he cast another spell at Stike – a Stinking Cloud. Stike reacted quickly, but not before he became nauseated and incapacitated for three rounds.
Selinor and Reynard started using the few spells they had remaining, although Reynard’s Fireball seemed to envelope Mokmurian, only to fade away with no effect, provoking more laughter and taunting from the floating giant. Mokmurian then attempted to use Telekinesis to try and push Stike back into the Cloudkill but Stike was able to resist its effects.

After much encouragement from the other party members Kheo did finally stumble through the fog – the Cloudkill had dissipated after a few rounds, although the original Solid Fog was still present. Kheo had a tough time hitting the flying giant with his arrows, so it was up to Selinor and Reynard to do whatever damage they could until Stike could return to the fight.

DM Note: These fights are usually determined by how well the DM rolls against DC saves, and usually the DM rolls extremely poorly. Today the DM was extremely effective at minimizing damage, much to the chagrin of the rest of the group.

Just as Stike got back to his feet Mokmurian came down to the ground and delivered three solid blows from his huge club. Mokmurian’s laughter and taunting continued as the heroes noted he seemed somewhat healthier after having done so. Selinor was able to step forward and do some healing for both Stike and Kheo, but in doing so put himself in the range of Mokmurian’s Mass Reduce Person spell, although it was only Kheo that found himself to be about one-foot tall, just like Reynard.
The party continued their attack, but their affects continued to be minimized. Mokmurian then cast Enlarge on himself, and the giant moved forward to swing his mighty club at Stike again, hoping to transfer another large set of hit points from the huge fighter to himself with the Vampiric Touch effect of his club.
Before he could so a figure emerged from the fog and leveled a blast of arcane energy that struck Mokmurian in the chest and knocked him to his knees. Mokmurian’s face turned into a grimace of twisted rage as he spat out “Conna! You have betrayed me.

Conna The Wise
Mokmurian's body suddenly went rigid. He spasmed a few times, and then his head turned to face the heroes, mechanically and clumsily, as if being forced to move by massive invisible hands. In a strangely accented voice, a voice that sounded almost human, he spoke as his eyes flared with a soul-searing emerald radiance. "So these are the heroes of the age. More like gasping worms to me - worms to be crushed back into the earth when I awaken the armies of Xin-Shalast, when the name Karzoug is again spoken with fear and awe. Know that the deaths of those marked by the Sihedron - the giants you have so conveniently slain for me - hasten my return, just as yours soon will. Fools, all of you. Is this all you could manage in ten thousand years?"
At that Karzoug/Mokmurian laughed a final cruel, mocking laugh that echoed and faded – and Mokmurian died, his soul snuffed out as the link between him and Karzoug ended.
As the quiet returned to the room Conna spoke quietly and firmly. “You have saved my people, and yours. This is a debt that can never really truly be repaid. Please – rest – I will watch over you.” Conna was able to enlarge both Reynard and Kheo back to normal, Selinor did some additional healing, and the party opted to take Conna up on her offer.
For tonight’s efforts the party earned 31,600 XP, giving them (316,800 + 31,600) 348,400 XP earned so far, with 445,000 XP required to reach Level 14 (Level 15: 635,000 XP).
DM Note: The party will do a further inspection of Mokmurian’s quarters next time, so to expedite things the DM will move the story along a little bit here.
The party awoke to find themselves alone in the room – Conna was gone, but several piles of treasure had been added to the room. Besides finding the head of the Headless Lord the party found the following items:
General Galenmir’s Gear: +2 Breastplate, +1 Light Steel Shield, +3 Heavy Pick, Cloak of Elvenkind, 19 PP, 18 GP, 13 SP.
Headless Lord’s Gear: +1 full plate, Two Runechill Hatchets. The nine suits of armor on display there were all large. Four were Masterwork half-plate, while the remaining were Masterwork full plate.
Mokmurian’s Gear: Scroll of Limited Wish, Wand of Bear's Endurance (13 charges), +1 Defending Spell-Storing (Vampiric Touch) Club, Bag of Holding (Type II), Fog-Cutting Lenses, Robe of Runes, a Sihedron Rune amulet, 500 GP in diamond dust, and spell books.
Spell books: Mokmurian kept his spell books in his Bag of Holding. This extensive collection also contained most of the spells in the Core Rulebook, up through and including 6th level spells.
Much of the treasure Mokmurian had gathered over the past several years (in particular, the riches he gained from his trip to Xin-Shalast) had long since been distributed to his minions and army as payment. Still, a relatively impressive collection of loot remained here as his personal wealth. Apart from his impressive collection of books on spellcraft and all of the spell components and laboratory equipment scattered throughout the room (which was worth a collected total of 1,500 GP, but weighed several hundred pounds), the chest under his desk contained the bulk of his remaining wealth, including 12,000 GP, 1,100 SP, an amber and sapphire necklace worth 4,000 GP, a set of ivory runestones worth 1,400 GP, and a scroll of Contact Other Plane.
In addition, scattered among the stacks of Mokmurian's invasion plans, battle tactics, and research notes was a single piece of paper depicting a map of the Lost Coast region of Varisia Four points along the coast have "X" marks on them - three were placed some distance out to sea along the coast, but one was right over Sandpoint. A note on the map, written in Giant, read "Hellfire Flume ruins - foundation stones from each would know where the traitor Xaliasa dwelt, and perhaps where he hid his key to Runeforge."

Mokmurian's Notes

And we'll pick it up from there next time.

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