Monday, June 1, 2020

Darvinin: Resurrections 3

Darvinin groaned as he forced himself to sit up. He was in an unfamiliar bed -- alone -- and there was sun coming in through the windows, bright enough to sear his eyes and worsen his headache. His eyes and throat were dry, his lungs scratchy, and his head pounding, but after the last few months he was used to that.

The room's single door cracked open, and Mistra leaned in. "You're awake?"

"Back from the dead, more like."

"Best get your money back from the cleric," Mistra advised. "You don't look raised, just reanimated. And poorly at that."

Darvinin squeezed his eyes shut.

"I'll get you something to drink," said Mistra, and disappeared again.

Darvinin just sat there, trying to catch up with what had happened. Thoughts that hadn't been anywhere in evidence last night were coming to him now. Shanna isn't supposed to be here, alone or with friends. Mistra's supposed to be guarding the king. And they've all obviously come looking for me, so of course they found me like this. I've been like this since it happened, maybe before. Maybe since Janbridge. Maybe since Tiatha was killed. He considered that. Maybe still.

Mistra returned with a pewter mug, and Darvinin drank it without bothering to taste it first. It was mostly water, lightly flavored with juice from some sort of citrus fruit. He drank the whole thing in three quick gulps, then set the cup aside.

"Better?" asked Mistra.

"Better." His voice sounded better, anyway. "What... What prompted all this?"

Mistra shook her head. "Later for that. I need you at least halfway back to yourself, first." She rose from the edge of the bed, and Darvinin forced himself to his feet as well.

I fear that's about the best you're going to get, he thought, as he followed her out into the common room.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Darvinin: Resurrections 2

The Lonely Ogre was a dockside inn, albeit one of the better ones. He barely noticed as he followed Shanna and the dark elf Sam across the common room to the stairs at the back; he was too busy concentrating on staying upright. Sam stepped aside at the bottom of the staircase and motioned for him to keep following Shanna. "Are you sure you want to be under me if I fall?"

Sam just chuckled. "I could carry you up if you'd prefer, big boy."

Darvinin shook his head and started up the stairs, keeping one hand carefully on the rail.

"Besides," added Sam, "the view is better from back here."

Shanna glanced back and smiled, but Darvinin just shook his head.

They reached the top of the stairs and Darvinin stopped, half-afraid to let go of the railing even on flat ground. Sam took his arm and guided him along, taking his weight easily when he swayed into her. The hallway wasn't too narrow, at least. They followed Shanna to a door, where she knocked in a complicated pattern before lifting the latch. She swung the door open and stepped inside.

The room beyond turned out to be a suite: several bedrooms and a bathing-room set around a central area which contained two long couches and a table. There was a halfling sitting in a wooden chair at the table, and a forest cat curled up on one of the couches.

Another familiar voice said, "Did you have any luck?" and then Mistra stepped out of one of the bedrooms. She looked just as she had when they were guarding the king; she still wore the uniform of the King's Own.

Darvinin stopped cold, forced himself upright, closed his gaping mouth, and said: "Mistra?"

Then he threw up all over the floor.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Darvinin: Resurrections 1


The true elf turned in his seat, keeping his brandy in the glass through reflexes refined by long practice. He knew that voice; he knew this face. "Shanna?"

"Wow. How drunk are you?" asked another voice, deeper but still feminine, and Darvinin tilted his head up to regard the darkest-skinned elf he'd ever seen.

"Well," he said seriously. "To the left, I'm entirely too drunk; I'm fairly sure that a newborn goblin could kill me, if the High Provost commanded it. To the right, I'm not nearly drunk enough; I keep remembering all the things I don't want to be thinking about."

The dark-skinned elf glanced down at Shanna. "He's cute when he's like this."

Shanna shook her head. "No, he's not. Darvinin, what happened to you? You were always the steady one."

Darvinin drained his glass and held it out behind him. Someone took it and handed him another. "Well, I mean, there was the rogue elvish army," he said, "and then there was the part where they murdered Tiatha. And, and the part where the left me to be questioned by the Duke of Janbridge's chief torturer, who was quite talented for a human. Then Ruin rescued me and we all escaped, and then... and then he died."

"Yeah, about that..." said the dark-skinned elf, but Shanna gestured and she stopped.

"I felt it," Darvinin said, so quietly that Shanna had to read it from his lips. "I felt him die." He shook his head. "But I can't shake the feeling that he isn't gone. I keep expecting him to speak to me. Or maybe just to step out of nowhere and start killing. How strange is that?"

"Not that strange, cousin," said Shanna. "Come on, you've had enough for tonight. We have rooms nearby; come back with us and sleep it off. There's somebody you need to see."

Darvinin looked from Shanna to her dark-skinned companion and back. "I... yes?" He set the glass down and tried to stand, discovering in the process that the bar stool was oddly taller than it had been when he'd sat down on it. The floor seemed to be swaying, too. "I'm done," he said, with an unexpected sense of finality. "Tell me what to do next."

They did.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Servants of Vecna: Kill the Solari

We're finally getting back to the GozarTD campaign in the nation of Sol Povos. This game started with one group of characters, flipped to a second (arguably more heroic) group, and then kicked over to a mostly-elvish party to get a bit of their perspective. At that point (just after Christmas), our DM took a break so I started running the Saltmarsh campaign; now we basically have three parties worth of adventurers, and we'll be switching off between them. In order to avoid losing focus (on the one D&D night where everybody can play) we're alternating storyline between the two campaigns. So, tonight we started in on the "bad guy" party; when we reach a stopping point with them, I'll run an adventure in Saltmarsh; and when we finish the adventure he'll run the next segment of Sol Povos with another group of our characters

Jenny, a human barbarian who collects men, from the original group of characters.
Chuck, our sorcerer from the original group, now a vampire.
Durest, a cleric with a serious interest in necromancy, also from the original group.
Hatch Firebrand, a halfling arcane trickster, new to the campaign. (This is 3.5, so to get to arcane trickster he's got a level of rogue, several levels of wizard, a level of assassin, and then the Arcane Trickster prestige class.)
Ramekin, Hatch's familiar, an imp.

We begin:
A Cassadia approaches Durest in the woods, where he's being cranky after being tossed out of a rather nice Chateau that the original group kept trying to lay claim to. Cassadia is a title among the worshippers of Vecna, so this one's name is actually Pascalina. She's come to recruit Durest to the Dark Army on behalf of Maodeus. He seeks to conquer Sol Povos and create a new, more accepting nation. She passes over a sack of black onyx, and Durest is in. (He needs lots of black onyx to make his undead.)

This is about the point when Jenny arrives with her harem, having received a letter about the invading army needing an elite strike force. She's brought Chuck in a large burlap sack, because he's a vampire and sunlight is bad for him and also because he got his brains scrambled in a magical duel a while back and is kind of a raving idiot right now. Pascalina (the Cassadia) is the chamberlain of the Baron of Springhollow. "Meet me at the Scarlet Queen tonight, and I will introduce you to the fourth member of your band and tell you of your mission. If you succeed, you will be well rewarded."

The Scarlet Queen is a bar/brothel/gambling den - basically your all-purpose House of Sin, very high class. There are a couple of fairly tough guards just inside the door. They're carrying magical greatswords and wearing mithril chain shirts. There's a counter with a guy behind it. "Can I help you?"

Chuck takes the lead, since he's A) a sorcerer, and charismatic, and B) a vampire and can basically make anybody believe anything. "You're probably expecting us. Chuck Dominguez."

Guy behind the counter, surprised: "We are, actually."

We are led to a private room. Inside is someone we've never met, along with Pacalina, two more of the guards, and a pair of jesters doing a very noisy act to discourage eavesdroppers.

Pascalina welcomes us. "Let me introduce the fourth member of your gang: Hatch Firebrand. He's a specialist."

Chuck: "We're not a gang, we're an organization. It's very important, for tax reasons."

This is not entirely true; Chuck actually does have a sort of criminal gang going.

Pascalina: "We needn't have the guards here for this, but they're expected for a private gambling room such as this one." She's a human woman, looking more than a little like Selma Hayek. "My master just moved a great army into this land -- some fifty thousand troops. But he doesn't have Solari. And the Solari are powerful. So he needs a group that can hunt Solari."

That would be us.

So the pay is good, plus we can collect equipment from them. And Jenny can collect some fine specimens for her harem.

The forces of Vecna have balanced the human army against the elves, then brought in their own army which has now split into two, with the evilized dragon Maodeus leading one, and the Hierophant in charge of Vecna's church leading the other. The human king, meanwhile, has assembled an army of Solari to forestall Maodeus' advance, while the Western Army was sent to deal with the elves.

Pascalina continues, "We're in a stalemate. We're well supplied, but we need someone to take down the Solari so we can proceed. So the first mission my master has for you is to destroy Springhollow. Take the castle, kill the Solari, kill the royals, turn them into undead. We're behind their lines; Let the army at Renfall know that they don't have us trapped. When you take the castle here, kill everyone inside and turn them into undead; we must strike fear into the populace." She produces a large chest loaded with black onyx.

Durest: "Marry me."

Springhollow has a famous enchanting school known as the Crimson Staff, where Chuck qualified but never joined. "The most powerful Solari here is the artificer Ann Varone, one of the prime teachers there. She was serving her month in the capital when the army arrived, so she was taken into the king's army. The two who remain are her apprentices, Violet and Amelia. There's a rogue named Angelique who's almost as strong, and after that a ranger named Florian, an Orc Barbarian named Durax, a monk named Sophie, and another ranger named Joelle. Seven Solari in Springhollow total. And two of them are in the room next door."

Amelia and Violet live in the Crimson Staff, which is nowhere near so powerful as it was now that Ann Varone is busy in the army. "So Amelia, her husband, and Angelique here, then go to the Crimson Staff and kill Violet, and then there's basically nobody left to protect the keep."

"There's a sphynx that guards the front door to the Crimson Staff; if it thinks you're intruders it will roar, and then everyone inside will know. The tower has four level, and your targets are on the fourth. The top is a giant dome, and there are windows.

Pascalina departs, soothing the guards on her way out. We drop some buffs on ourselves and then get ready to tear through the wall to the next room. Chuck casts Protection from Energy on himself, then uses Gaseous Form to slide through the cracks in the wall. Hatch and Durest, meanwhile, walk around to the door -- Hatch in a spectacular display of stealth, and Durst clumping along behind him like a steel elephant.

Angelique hears him yells for Henry to get under the table. She runs to the door and opens it. Durest waves: "Evenin', lassie!"

Her: "Oh! Um... sorry."

Chuck materializes from mist form and drops a fireball at his own feet. The husband is immolated; the rogue (Angelique) is untouched. The wizard is scorched, as are the guards. Ramekin zaps the rogue with shocking grasp, and Hatch blasts her with scorching ray and takes her down.

Jenny rages and smacks into the wall before she reels back, cursing. Durests cast Hold Person on one of the guards, while the other moves over and tries to attack Chuck, but Chuck basically blocks with his bare hand and doesn't take any damage. Hatch moves into the room, not as subtly as he could have. He sneak attacks the mobile guard with a scorching ray. It hurts, but he doesn't go down. Ramekin uses a wand to cast Grease on the wizard, badly upsetting her balance; she manages to keep her feet. Jenny smashes through the wall and charges up to the paralyzed guard, and just slams her chain down on him. Durest steps in and takes down the mobile guard with Inflict Wounds. Chuck jumps up to the roof and sticks there, spider-man style with his face down, and then casts Acid Arrow on the wizard. She's still dealing with the grease spell, so she's not at her best, balance-wise. She's now damaged and coated with acid.

She tries Limited Wish to reproduce Circle of Death. That kills the second guard... and Jenny... and some revelers out in the main room... and maybe a few other people, too. Hatch finishes the wizard and we loot the bodies.

The rogue had 2 +2 daggers, a +1 shortbow, +2 gloves of dex, +2 cloak of resistance, +1 amulet of natural armor, and a +1 ring of protection. (Magic items in 3.5 are fairly easy to come by; all part of the economy.)

Amelia had Bracers of armor +3 Headband of intellect +2 Amulet of Natural Armor +2 Ring of protection +2 Cloak of resistance +3.

The guards had +1 greatsword and +1 Mithril chain shirts, plus 500 GP apiece. (So basically all that, doubled.)

Pascalina is waiting for us in the hallway (having very luckily not died) and unlocks a door to lead us out. She departs, and now it's time to go to the tower.

We leave Bob the Frost Giant Skeleton out front with orders to kill anybody who tries to leave, then Dimension Door up to the top of the tower, where Jenny smashes through the roof and surprises Violette. Well, sort of surprises her; Hatch turns invisible, and Violetta throws Chain Lightning at Jenny, which then spreads out to the rest of us. Also, her prepared defenses kick in and mirror images of her appear around her.

Chuck responds by dropping a fireball on her and all her little images. This does not dispel them, but it helps. Durest casts Fly on himself, and Jenny leaps down into the room. She lands painfully, but crosses the room and attacks, dispelling an image.

Violette dominates Jenny; Chuck attempts to counter-dominate but fails. Durest hits Jenny with Hold Person, because even after raising her from the dead he really doesn't want her trying to carve us up. Hatch steps off the wall and drops to the ground, buoyed by his Ring of Feather Fall.

Hatch manages to hit Violette with a ray of frost.

She tries Bigby's Grasping Hand on Durest. It grabs him; he's grappled. Chuck drops an array of magic missiles, and wipes out the rest of the images. She glares at him.

Durest attempts to teleport free and fails. Hatch does an empowered scorching ray as a sneak attack, doing a hideous amount of damage, then follows it up with a quickened Ray of Frost and takes her down.

We loot her corpse. And honestly? We don't think anybody heard that, at least not enough to be alarmed by it.All the apprentices are still downstairs. Chuck, our vampire sorcerer, drains her. "Remember me?"

Bracers of armor +3, Amulet of Natural Armor +2 Ring of Protection + 2, Cloak of resistance +3, headband of intellect +2.

We start searching this lavishly appointed room: gold cloth, carved wooden statues, ermine tabard inlaid with oricalcum, a decorative silver broadsword; it's about 10,000 GP worth of art, and we take it. Hatch checks the first of two chests for traps, finding one; he disables it. He then unlocks it.

1. Arcane Scroll (Shocking Grasp (25 gp), Command Undead (150 gp), Knock (150 gp)) (total 325 gp)
2. Divine Scroll (Cure Light Wounds (25 gp), Animal Messenger (150 gp), Barkskin (150 gp)) (total 325 gp)
3. Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (300 gp)

He moves on to the second chest, disables it and unlocks it: 2,750 in gold and gems.

We continue on, looting as we go but staying to the top floor. We find the married couple's bedroom; it's every bit as opulent as the last room, and the art is worth about 10,000 GP. Hatch checks over the armoires.

Fine nobleman's clothes and 410 GP worth of gems; the other has fine women's clothes , 5,000 gp, and an arcane scroll of ice storm which Hatch promptly claims for his spellbook.

The last door is *very* locked, but Hatch and his imp familiar manage to open it. The room beyond is larger and even fancier. Hatch searches the desk: 5,000 GP raven statue, ring of animal friendship 10,800 GP. Hatch takes them, and dragon statue shoots a bolt of lightning at him for considerable damage. The dragon's eyes are glowing, and Hatch heads for the door -- but not fast enough to completely escape the next lightning bolt.

Durest pulls the doors shut, and the dragon annihilates them. A few seconds later it blasts a hole through the wall beyond them. Durest heals him and then follows up with a bit of cure light wands.

Hatch goes back inside to try to disable the dragon. Chuck drops some elemental protection on him and he attempts to disable, but fails and sets the dragon off. It zaps his shield, but he tries again. He fails again, and flees the room.

He attempts to disable the thing at range (arcane trickster) and we cower in the hallway while the dragon blasts things.

Chuck heads into the bedroom in gaseous form. The bed is a levitation field: sort of a medieval magic waterbed.

Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, we decide to go take the castle and come back for this place. It's going to be our new headquarters sooner or later.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

RoH: Subtlety

Doblim was a hill town, nestled at the nexus of forest and grasslands and mountains; its production was a mix of mining, logging, ranching, and farming, supplemented by a host of local crafters and brewers and artisans. It had survived the war in part due to an active and well-trained militia, but also because it had been small enough to avoid the dark lord's full attention. In the aftermath, with the dark lord dead and its armies defeated, Doblim was well on its way to becoming a city-state, mostly by virtue of having had the luck to come through the Great War intact.

Remant rode in at the back of the caravan, just another guard doing just another job. The wagons split in the merchant's square, with the Mornmith family and the handful of other travelers going their own way, while the four wagons belonging to the merchant Teldis pulled up in front of a large warehouse that bordered the square. Ikara motioned them over, then distributed them around the wagons while Teldis' servants unloaded the wagons. It was tedious, but necessary: the odds of crime were low, but they would increase spectacularly if it looked as if nobody was on guard.

When they were done, Teldis herself emerged. "You're welcome here tonight; there are rooms off the stables, and my cook will have dinner sent down. I have your coins here."

Remant joined the line and collected his pay, adding it to his wallet. It would support him for several days, even if he ignored the offer of food and shelter. He intended to be traveling out on another job well before then.

"You never take those gloves off," Itren observed quietly, sitting beside Remant while he ate the breaded pork and baked vegetables that the cook had sent down.

He shrugged, as if it were merely a quirk of his personality. He had never been a particularly good liar, and that was a problem. Dandris knew his secret, but Dandris was further down the table and didn't seem to have noticed the question. There was no help to be had from them. "I don't want to be caught unprepared."

She chuckled. "It's not the best of table manners," she said, ignoring fork and knife to raise a piece of breaded pork in her bare fingers and bite into it directly.

Remant looked at the fork and knife in his gloved hands, and chuckled. "You mock me."

Itren shrugged. "Not intentionally. I merely think you should know that you aren't as discreet as you hope. Beyond that..." She turned her head, met his eyes with her own piercing pale blue ones. "I'd only wish to thank you. If there's anything I can do to help, let me know."

Remant glanced around the table, but Ikara was absorbed in her food and Javill was asking if she had a line on future jobs.

"I'll keep it in mind," he said. "All of it."

He slept alone, and in the morning he rose and saddled his horse and went out and got arrested.

Monday, May 25, 2020

RoH: Identities

"Two days out," said Dandris, and Remant nodded. They'd come off the high road that crossed above the thress-grass a day earlier, and were following the cruder paved-stone way that led on towards Doblim. The way here was hillier, and the road twisted and curved, rose and fell, while the sky alternated sun and cloud-shade overhead. In addition to the cover of the hills, there was more shelter here: patches of brush and low trees, following the lines of streams and rivers. The grasslands had held their own dangers, but if they were going to be ambushed by bandits it would be here: far enough out from the city to be unnoticed, but near enough that the bandits could sell whatever they took.

Ikara rode up beside them, her domek towering over their horses. "Worried?" she asked, and they both nodded. "I'll take lead. You two scout ahead."

The domek was thick-skinned and heavy, strong and difficult to injure. It couldn't match a horse's speed, but then Ikara's job was to stay steady and call orders, not to charge into battle. Remant checked his weapons, then strung his bow and nodded to Dandris, who had done the same. They nodded back, bow in one hand and reins in the other, ready.

They nudged their horses into a trot, moving up the road and extending their distance from the caravan.

"Ikara expects us to scout and report back," observed Dandris. Their expression was neutral, their voice quiet.

"You have another idea?" asked Remant.

Dandris nodded. "We go forward, draw any trouble to us. We clear the way." Dandris glanced at him. "You may need to do things you don't want the others to see. I may as well."

Remant felt his shoulders tighten. "What is it that you think I'm going to do?"

Dandris raised one shoulder, then let it drop. "When we served under the mage-lord of Kordiva," they said, "we were put into crystals and given new bodies, each with its own crystal. I am Botur, who speaks to you now. When my companions' bodies were slain, I gathered their crystals and added them to my flesh. The mage-lord is dead and her growing-tanks demolished, so here they remain. I am not one; we are many. And we think we recognize you."

Remant said, "Ah." He'd been introduced to Dandris as someone whose gender was fluid; he hadn't realized that it was because they were a collective, their gender varying by which individual had taken the lead in any given situation. He doubted anyone else in the caravan knew either. "One of you is a sensitive."

"Kila was our mage-ensign," Dandris said. "You were... unmistakable."

He would be, to even a half-competent battle-mage, if they were paying attention. And a mage caught in a single body with several other individuals might choose to turn their attentions to the more esoteric aspects of the world around them, rather than trying to assert control over the body or the group inside it. "I'll keep your secret if you'll keep mine," Remant said quietly.

"That," answered Dandris, "was the plan."

They rode in silence for nearly an hour before they came to the place where a tree had been felled across the road. Remant didn't need more than a glance to see that it had been cut; he'd been expecting something of the sort. Stones, perhaps, if the hills had been higher around them. He sighed and raised his bow, picking out targets in the brush. A dozen, two... a handful more than that.

He exchanged a quick glance with Dandris, then lifted his bow and began killing. Dandris was doing the same. Between the two of them, he thought they took down six before the others charged and he had to draw his sword.

Dandris had been right. It was better that they were alone. When the robed figure stood and called forth some horrible shade, Remant was able to throw himself in front of it and let his blade carve into it as if it were ordinary flesh, while Dandris speared the mage with a lance of fire from their hand. When two of the bandits caught him at once, Remant was able to catch a blade in his left hand and wrench it aside so that he could cut its owner in half. Dandris fought behind an odd, blurring effect that made them hard to see and harder to hit. And when the last half-dozen bandits broke and fled, Remant and Dandris were both breathing hard and looking satisfied.

"It's good not to have to hide," Dandris said.

"Dangerous," said Remant.

"But good," said Dandris, and Remant found himself nodding in agreement.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sol Povos: We Get Our Bodies Back

We had traveled to a world that seems to be trapped in the Eye of Vecna, where we learned that Vecna probably wasn't actually Vecna, but he was an advisor who betrayed the king and brought darkness to the land.

Meanwhile in Duendewood there was an army of elves marching west, which wore Aramar/Annun colors -- official Elvish colors on a very dodgy army. We'd been addressing attacks from human forces coming through gates; they seem to originate in the Bambridge castle basement.

There are an undead T-rex and and an undead cloud giant in their own area. The priests are dead, because we set off some sort of device.

We end up with sixteen phylactery gems (worth about 5,000 gold pieces) and six costume gems. Azrael looks over the gems and declares that they've been treated with a Soul Trap spell, probably augmented by an unknown spell that pulls the souls in to populate them. Marshall hangs on to two of them; Ruin looks around and finds a bag for the rest.

There's a lot of equipment, including gem extractors; everybody gets a gem extractor.

There's a small table with a cystal on it, which seems to be a portal crystal to the world in the eye. (Phanaxia? Or something phonetically similar.)

Marshall: "Should I touch the crystal?"

Martini: "Go ahead."

Marshall takes the crystal. Just for once, nothing horrible happens. The other skeletons are just sort of standing or shuffling around.

The route deeper into the mines is closed off. We take the one open route out. There's a skeletal dragon, and we definitely don't want to go past it; we head south instead. Ruin's medallion shares a vision of his mother and her entourage being ambushed by the dwarves; Ruin shares this with the party.

Continuing along, we reach a door. We hear something crunching around on the far side of the door. Now Ruin get another vision, this time of two dwarves dragging his mother down the hallway. We proceed down a faily long staircase, and arrive on a lower level.

We've found the jail cells. There's also a Greater Shadow here, but it ignores us. We proceed, and Ruin has yet another vision - this time of his mother behind bars, probably for a long time. In one of the southern cells we find Ruin's mother. Ruin: "Hi, mom."

Ruin's mom: "What? How? Wh-???"

Ruin: "Long story, lot of Vecna priests and undead, let's talk later and get out now."

Ruin's mom: "Wha-?" (She appears to be the only survivor.)

We exit, maneuvering Baethira around to avoid the shadows and go back up the stairs, then detour around to the kitchen. Martini casts Invisibility on Baethira, and we slip past the skeletal dragon to to the dining area.

Marshall tries to eat, and it doesn't work. Baethia eats and drinks, for the first time in weeks. The castle is Janbridge, occupied by an anti-elf house ruled by a Duke.

Mom: "So they must have... huh. This is kind of like a Magic Jar spell, so if you're close enough you can probably repossess your body. So right now you're probably just too far away."

Ruin: "Can we find your spellbook?"

Mom: "Maybe. You're in the royal halls here. My rooms were to the west, for honored guests or well-to-do commoners."

We decide to check out the nearby area, since this is where the Vecna priests were located and we might as well loot their stuff.

Nearest door: no locks, no traps. Next door beyond it: there's what looks like a bedroom: bed, armoire, and a keg from the kitchen. The Armoire is trapped. Martini disables it. Inside is a candle of truth and 250 PP.

These were probably the rooms for Igor and Moses, the lieutenants.

Martini tries the next door in the sequence. Nothing much seems to be locked or trapped, but they probably weren't expecting anything.

We head off to the north wing, having looted the heck out of the eastern doors. Martini finds a trap on the door... the hard way. A block of stone falls on her head. These were the king's rooms.

We scrape her out from under the stone block, and few seconds later she reassembles. There are advantages to being a skeleton.

Martini checks for traps again but doesn't find anything else. It's still locked, though, and well beyond Martini's abilities. Ruin chops his way through. It seems to have been recently occupied, possibly by the necromancers.

We check the room; Ruin moves to guard the one door out of here.

Martini finds a trapped sack. It doesn't really work, so she just sets it off. Martini takes no damage; Marshall gets caught in a massive pillar of flame. It also sets the bookshelves on fire. We loot everything we can find.

The armoire has some really exquisite clothes worth 1200 gold. Martini searches and finds a scroll wrapped in a very nice bow. This... this is the missing spell:

Lv 6 spell, combines with animate dead casting & soul-binded gem (lv9 spell) that hasn’t been fully completed. Sucks a soul from somewhere (they are using Fanaxia, the world trapped inside the Eye of Vecna) and puts into the Sun Ruby (material cost 5kgp) to create a regenerating undead.

Ruin opens the door he'd been guarding. It's a storage room. There's an open chest (trapped) and a closed chest. She tries to disarm the trap; fails and sets it off. Fortunately, the poisonous fumes are a completely moot point. It's full of gold: 42,000 gold.

The closed chest is not trapped, but may be made of enchanted wood. Martini tries to unlock it, but it is simply beyond her. However, it's only about 50 pounds; Ruin could easily carry it.

The next door is unlocked. Martini screams anyway, just to freak everybody out. It looks like a waiting room: carpet, desk, couch. She moves through to the next door.

It looks like a meeting room. We loot it and move on to a library, which has a rod on the table which is surrounded by a prismatic sphere.

Ruin cuts the table out from under the sphere, and the rod falls out. It's a control rod for controlling large numbers of undead. It allows you to go up to ten times your level instead of the usual 4. It also allows you to attempt to control undead: 1d20 + level + cha bonus vs 10 + HD of whatever you're trying to control.

The books appear to contain detailed histories of the dwarves; they seem to be very recently written.

The west wing was a museum, but it's essentially been razed at this point. We check in with Baethira, then go to see about collecting a skeletal T-rex.

We go back and Marshall takes control of the T-rex. Then he takes contrl of the cloud giant. Which is utterly insanse, but here we are. (That's 35 HD out of 80 total possible.) We release them, and send the cloud giant to go make friends with the dragon.

The cloud giant keeps it occupied while we slip past with Baethira and the t-rex. The hallway beyond is magically lit, making the dried blood on the floors really obvious. We take a side-passage to the north to get out of sight, and start opening doors.

It's skeleton storage, all with rubies. Martini shoos them out the door and leaves them just wandering around outside. Marshall starts collecting undead troops. We proceed north, collecting more of them. LOTS more of them.

Bloody footprints lead into the last door. Martini checks it for traps.

There's the body of a dwarf inside; he seems to have drug himself. This is Jondur -- he was the lord chamberlain; Baethira recognizes him.

A final room is a pile of bodies. The dwarves were in various outfits; the elves wear the official colors of Aramar.

We head back south and start checking doors in the westbound passage. It opens into a kitchen, and it's exceptionally bloody. Baethira and Ruin both receive visions: this is where they slaughtered the civilians.

Martini checks the far door, and finds it opens to a cross-passage. Martin starts just opening doors. There's a dining area, where prisoners were fed potions under the instruction of an elegant woman. "Almonda!" said Baethira. "That was Almonda!"

Almonda was a very power human Solari, working under Duke Corbin of Janbridge.

Ruin: "Almonda! That was the bitch who had Devonin tortured!"

Baethira: "Wait, WHAT?"

We check a few more rooms, dining areas mostly, and find the one where the Dwarven king and his troop fended off their attackers.

We move on, finding the ultimate dead body storage: bodies, skeletons, and a pit of acid to turn one into the other.

We finally reach the front gates.

Marshall, meanwhile, tosses one of the gems into the vat of acid. Nothin happens, so he steps in for a quick bath to get the soot from the flamestrike off.

We have keys. We exit, and find our way down to the boat. (It's the Black Betty, Bam-ba-lam.) We march up, and then Azrael drops stinking cloud on the living and we start the battle.

The leader charges out of the cloud but trips and falls prone. The rest of us move up, and Azrael zaps him with Enervation. Marshall steps in and hits him with an axe. The leader stands up again, and Marhsall and Ruin both miss him. He attacks Marshall, doing a lot of damage; his lieutenant steps in and attacks, striking Marshall again.

More guys spill out onto the deck, but they're stymied by the Stinking Cloud and decide on archery from the deck. The nauseated guys run into the cabin. Two more run out and shoot at Martini with a ballista.

The skeletal T-rex chomps the heck out of the leader, and the other skeletons move in to surround us and just brutalize the lieutenant. Martini moves up and attacks the leader, and Azrael follows up with Scorching Ray and takes him down. Marshall damages the Lieutenant, who strikes back in return.

Martini and moves in misses. Ruin hits. The dinosaur finishes the job, and Marshall calls on the other living folks to surrender. The four archers jump ship and swim for shore, but the two at the ballista continue firing... until Azrael blasts them right off the boat.

We catch up with the three nauseated crewmen and make them our new crew. We now have a boat. We search but do not find any more control rods. Marshall goes looking for charts to see where they were going. We load all the skeletons on board and head off to go get our bodies back.

250 PP
Candle of Truth
14 gems worth 5,000 apiece or 1,000 apiece
Wand of silence (5 charges) worth 450 GP.
2 potions bear's endurance
1 potion of blur
1 potion of bull's strength
o Arcane Scroll (Ghost Sound (12 gp 5 sp)) (total 12 gp 5 sp)
o Arcane Scroll (Magic Aura (25 gp)) (total 25 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Mage Armor (25 gp)) (total 25 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Magic Weapon (25 gp), Shield (25 gp)) (total 50 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (2 x Mount (25 gp), Ventriloquism (25 gp)) (total 50 gp)
Bottle of wine worth 900 gp.
o Wizards’ clothes
o Arcane Scroll (Endure Elements (25 gp), Enlarge Person (25 gp), Magic Missile (25 gp)) (total 75 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Eagle's Splendor (150 gp)) (total 150 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Levitate (150 gp)) (total 150 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Mirror Image (150 gp)) (total 150 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Animal Messenger (200 gp)) (total 200 gp)
o Arcane Scroll (Identify (125 gp), Mage Armor (25 gp), Owl's Wisdom (150 gp)) (total 300 gp)
Silk robe trimmed with leopard fur.
Ring of feather falling
wand of darkness (26 charges) worth 2340gp
2x +2 Amulets of Natural Armor.
2 Adamantine Battle-axes.
Wand of cure critical, 34 charges, 15080gp.
Bunch of burnt scrolls.
really exquisite clothes worth 1200 gold.
Porcelain statue of mastiff, 1,500, traveling clothes,
scroll with a bow tied around it.
Scroll of Create Lesser Phylactery (combines with Animate Dead; it's the soul-sucking component of the process).

o Potion of Lesser Restoration (300 gp)
o Potion of Neutralize Poison (750 gp)
o Potion of Nondetection (750 gp)
o Potion of Remove Paralysis (300 gp)
o Potion of Shield of Faith (+4) (600 gp)
o Potion of Undetectable Alignment (300 gp)
Chest of 42,000 gold
Mystery Chest of magic wood.