Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Festering Maze, Pt. 2 (09/19/2014)

Having fought and slogged their way through most of the swampy filth of the Festering Maze only a large wooden door remained unopened in front of them. A Quasit had been seen darting through this door as the party had approached, so the heroes knew it was very unlikely they would be able to surprise whoever – or whatever – might be awaiting them on the other side of that door. Listening at the door the heroes could hear the gurgle of pouring water, but no further evidence of who - or what - lay beyond.

Upon opening the massive set of double doors that party found this room reeked of strange chemicals. A five-foot wide metal walkway looked out over a large pool of foamy, filthy water ten feet below, from which five metallic pipes emerged through the walkway above. Four of these pipes were five feet in diameter and extended up in the four corners of the room to a height of about a foot above the balcony; each was filled with a different colored bubbling fluid. The fifth pipe was twenty feet wide and extended up to the north - this pipe was filled nearly to the rim with shuddering, glowing green sludge. Thin streams of fluid flow through the air from the four corner pipes to drain into the central one. A stone throne floated in the air above this slime.

While the water below was visibly no different from the water elsewhere in the maze, the fluid contained in the five pipes was quite different. Each of the smaller pipes in the four corners of the room contained magically replenished supplies of the four bodily humors - magical alchemical fluids distilled from blood, phlegm, yellow bile (choler), and black bile (melancholy). These fluids steeped in their pipes, then flowed through the air to mix in the central pipe and formed a magical fluid that sustained and bolstered the room's most dangerous occupant. Contact with any of these four humors has specific effects:

Blood (Red, northwest pipe): Blood filled those who touched it with overwhelming joy and mirth.

Phlegm (Brown, northeast pipe): Phlegm drove those who touched it momentarily insane.

Choler (Yellow, southwest pipe): Choler dissolved flesh at an alarming rate, and inflicted 6d6 points of acid damage to anyone who touched it.

Melancholy (Black, southeast pipe): Melancholy overwhelmed the target with paralyzing remorse.

Bloated Jordimandus, the only surviving Warden of Sloth, ruled from this chamber - although "ruled" was perhaps not the most accurate term, since he had been content to let events in the Festering Maze unfold without his intervention. Jordimandus wore a magical heart of slime. This heart, which beat slowly in his forever-opened chest, granted Jordimandus great defensive powers, but had also turned him over the years into a paragon of sloth - an obese monstrosity who wanted little more than to spend his hours sitting on his levitating throne above the alchemical soup that was now the sole thing keeping him alive.

Despite knowing they were coming the heroes were still the first to get off their attacks. Kheo’s arrows proved to be especially deadly, and one of Reynard’s blasts was enough to swallow up and kill Subloch, the quasit that sat on Jordimandus’s shoulder. Jordimandus summoned up a hill giant to guard the door and to throw the attackers into the toxic goo, but the creature slipped on the treacherous floor and instead it was the giant that fell. Another rounds of arrows and a blast from Selinor and the bloated lord began to plead for his life.

Jordimandus's had been content to spend most of the last few millennia lording over his foul realm, but had still maintained at least a minor curiosity as to what occurred beyond his scum covered walls. He told the party what he knew of the other halls and their lords:

The Abjurant Halls (Envy) (name mumbled through)
The Ravenous Crypts (Gluttony) Azaven, The Lich, mummies
Vault of Greed (Greed) Ordikon, The Mithral Mage, golems
The Iron Cages of Lust (Lust) Mistress Delhavine, succubus
The Shimmering Veils (Pride) Vraxeris, clones
The Festering Maze (Sloth) Jordimandus
The Halls of Wrath (Wrath) Highlady Athroxis, axemen

Perhaps more importantly, though, Jordimandus provided a note with his suspicion on what components would work best for the crafting of runeforged weapons. Jordimandus had hoped someday to forge multiple runeforged weapons, arm summoned champions with them, and take over all of Runeforge - he'd done most of the research needed to make the weapons, but, fortunately for Runeforge's inhabitants, lacked the energy and drive to actually follow through on the plan.

Weapon Components
With Jordimandus essentially forever trapped in his throne room the heroes decided to leave the blubbering lord to his own domain. It was a little tricky to get out of the filth-covered hall, but once out they sought shelter in the Vault of Greed and discussed their next actions. They knew some of the information Jordimandus had provided them about the Runeforge was true, so they felt they had at least some idea of what may lay ahead in the remaining unexplored areas. The heroes decided to visit the Iron Cages of Lust next, and to meet Delhavine, who Jordimandus had labeled as a Succubus.

The grand cathedral of the Iron Cages of Lust could be called nothing less than opulent. The floor was covered in polished red and white tiles. Thick pillars carved into the likenesses of the same beautiful nude woman with long flowing hair circled the room and supported a ninety-foot-high domed ceiling, where a gargantuan mural depicted men and women engaged in all manner of carnal acts. Numerous plain ten-foot-by-ten-foot cubes lined the outer ring of the cathedral, while at its center stood a pavilion of opaque silk sheets. Near the walls of the cathedral stood several delicate-looking cages, their sides more decorative than practical. Some of them contained what appear to be long-dead bodies, although one body in a cage in the chamber's northern corner seemed to be clinging to life.

This wing consisted of one room - an immense cathedral lined with ivory pillars carved into the likeness of Sorshen, the Runelord of Lust. The pillars were made of iron inlaid with ivory, which depicted her in various lewd positions. The cages were display cases of a sort for several of Delvahine's “conquests” from a long, long time ago.

As soon as the heroes entered the great hall four of Delvahine's alu-demon children swooped in to defend their mistress. The four sisters were named Eryalla, Lelyrin, Voivod, and Zevashala. They resembled strikingly beautiful human women, save for the horns on their brows, their fangs, their taloned feet, and their bat-like wings. Each wore little more than a few pieces of magical jewelry and flimsy garments, but before they had come to investigate the new intruders they take care to retrieve their ranseurs.

They reacted to the arrival of party with excitement, flying into the air and circling overhead, making lewd and frank appraisals of each character’s appearance and possible sexuality. Stike had cast his Protection from Evil and the party was able to resist the Suggestion and Charm spells the four sisters threw at them, but failing that the alu-demons swooped down to attack. The party was able to cast their spells, although some of the magic seemed to have been somewhat resisted, but from their height the sisters were able to avoid Stike’s mighty sword and in turn were able to use their polearms to gang up of the heroes. Kheo was the first to go down, but without much else to do Stike was able to begin to actively Intimidate the demons into staying away. Some of Reynard’s and Selinor’s spells began to take their toll by this time, so with a swish all four of the sisters vanished, leaving the heroes to investigate the great hall further.

They inspected the first cage that was closest to them. It was little more than a human-sized birdcage with flimsy silver bars decorated with delicate golden birds and flowers that stood on four slender legs. The cage didn't seem to have a door. These cages were in fact much more solid than they appeared, for each was a permanent forcecage with a decorative metal shell built around it. The forcecages themselves were solid cubes, and the air inside refreshed as it did elsewhere in Runeforge. No practical way to enter or exit these cubes could be found.

Inside one of the nearby birdcages lay a shivering man that wore little more than a set of chains and a thick leather collar. A pair of clay bowls occupied one corner and a pile of straw sat in another. A young Thassilonian soldier named Nelevetu Voan earned the enmity of one of the caretakers of the Cathedral of Lust a few weeks before the fall of Thassilon. He had been imprisoned here as punishment, and for the last 10,000 years has remained a prisoner. Over those years Delvahine and her daughters had visited him countless times, to the extent that he was little more than a shuddering animal, energy drained to the brink of death yet unable to die as long as the cathedral sustained him and the demons don't push him too far. The sisters had taken to calling him Mr. Mutt and thought of him as their pet. Nelevetu was a broken shell of a man, and his madness was so profound that he was little more than a toy for the sadistic temptresses now. The heroes discussed rescuing the pitiful being, but decided to wait until after they had finished their business with Delhavine and her protectors.

In side of the other corpse cubes the interiors were thick with the stink of death. Nearly skeletal human corpses lay in the middle of these cells, surrounded by a stain of corruption and ancient rot. These bodies were all at least hundreds of years (in a few cases thousands of years) dead, past victims of the succubus whose bodies were left to rot after they died.

In the center of the hall was Delhavine’s pavilion. The pavilion, contrary to its looks, was not a fragile thing of fabric. The sheets of cloth were fashioned of tough silk harvested from behemoth spiders that dwelled in the Outer Rifts of the Abyss. Each of the pavilion walls took a great deal of effort to push through or break down and was resistant to most physical and energy attacks, bludgeoning and piercing attacks dealt no damage at all to them, and they were immune to electricity and cold attacks. Fire dealt half damage - only acid and sonic dealt normal damage, and even then the not-inconsequential hardness of the fabric still applied.

And we will pick it up there next time. For tonight’s effort the party earned 14,200 XP, giving them (584,150 + 14,200) 598,350 XP earned so far, with 635,000 XP required to reach Level 15.

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