Monday, October 5, 2020

DnD 5e Interlude: White Plume Mountain 10

 So, the automatons are possessed by/merged with demons, and are unlimitedly hostile. They're resistant to a number of things, and they explode when they die; and we *really* need to kill them. We retreat to the main room, and combat begins. Snow does her usual: move first, charge in, do some damage (two hits, magic sword, sneak attack, plus gloomstalker ambushery), then disengages right back out. Jhuni follows up with some magic missiles, and Grey calls up an illusionary tiger, which moves up and menaces it. The construct attacks the illusion, but misses so completely that it doesn't realize it's an illusion. Thelmor moves in and pounds on it with Wave, then steps back; it tries to attack him as he retreats, but its metal jaws snap shut without connecting.  Perfect moves up, but doesn't immediately attack; he's waiting to help the rest of us. Nil moves in with Whelm... and Whelm releases a terrifying war cry: "In the name of the Grumblefoots, may your death come swiftly so that your evil will be no more!" Whelm smashes into the monstrosity's face, which crumples in a shower of sparks. The creature promptly explodes, burning Nil a bit.

Another one comes up to the corridor. Nine shoves it back, and Perfect moves in and shoves the door closed; the two of them are holding it closed. One of the wicks slips out, carrying a dagger back to Gossalen.

There doesn't seem to be more than one of them; and there doesn't seem to be much advantage in trying to hold it back. So we let it through, and close the doors on it. We have, somewhat miraculously, trapped it with its head through the door and its body still back in the corridor. It is screeching in infernal, and *not* happy.

Nil: "I didn't come here to be called an embicile by something with your level of intelligence!"

Creature: breathes a huge amount of fire.

Snow moves in, stabs the beasty in the eye, and withdraws. Jhuni moves in, but really isn't tall enough to swap places with Nil.  She advises Nil to duck to the side, slips in front of her, and fires off a spell with a bit of sorcery manipulatin behind it; Grey follows up with a thrown dagger. Thelmor switches to his crossbow, and puts a couple of bolts in the thing's metal face. The first is enough to kill it; the second knocks its head back into the corridor.

Nil and Jhuni shove hard on the door, and the explosion takes place on the far side.

We wait, listening to see if any more of the constructs are coming; they aren't. Nil heals us up, which takes about 20 minutes. We head back into the junk room; there's something, or somethings, or a *lot* of somethings skittering around in the equipment/scrap room. The wicks are still moving in and out too, retrieving equipment for the prisoners. They're not that strong, and it takes them a while. A pair of tiny mechanical spiders follows one of them out. They seem to have tiny spools of thread on their backs.

The first two look around; then more come out, using little blades on their back to carry a bolt of cloth. They seem to be taking it somewhere. Thelmor identifies them as clockwork weavers; they're artificial workers in cloth, and so far they aren't showing any signs of hostility. Thelmor says they can fight if they have to, but they're not really built for that.

Nil attempts to read one of their minds. They are... all about the cloth. They made it; now they need to take it to their master. Then they're going to come back and make more cloth, red this time. One of the spiders spells out an answer for Nil: the cloth is for Snarla. We approach the equipment room carefully, looking for threats, but we don't find any. We do find a loom, and seven spiders preparing it for the next bolt of cloth. Snow goes to help Nil look, and Grey settles in to detect magic.

There's a lot of equipment here, but the armor is mundane and no better than what we have already. There are some minor magical weapons, and more mundane ones. The miscellaneous pile includes ball bearings, candles, cookware, a few rolled-up kits for various sorts of activities; nothing special.

Jhuni's keeping an eye out for money; she stumbles on a bag of ball bearings and finds some coinage underneath. It nets her 5 SP and 6 GP, probably an emergency stake. We head back to the room of prisoners.

Tulgan is putting on his worn, barbaric get-up; he's got his own greataxe back and is looking it over. Gossalen finally seems to be calming down as she's gather her items and putting them in place. Turi has her armor on, and seems to be ready to go; she doesn't carry much. They all look like they're about ready to go.

Gossalen comes over: "Sounds like there were troubles, but it's gone now... and we can leave?"

Thelmor: "The clockwork spiders only attack if provoked, leave them be."

Nil offers that we could escort them back to the second level; one of our comrades has a familiar that can guide them back from there.

Thelmor talks to Turi a bit; now that she has her sword back, she's happy enough to return his aces. Tulgan: "Ready to go? Can't wait to get back to the open air."

We make a quick jaunt back up to the main hall, passing the clockwork spiders along the way. We get them up the ladder, and take them back up to the entrance of the cave; it seems to be afternoon outside. Gossalen is openly thrilled; the other two more reserved. They thank us and go on their way. (Tulgan's got a stock of silver for travel expenses.) Turi blesses us in the name of her pantheon.

We take a brief moment to consider the possibility of just walking away after them. Then we turn back to go murder a possibly-undead wizard. As we turn back, we notice that the steam is swirling around some sort of air elemental.

Thelmor: "This fucker again?"

It stops.

Nil, in primordial: "What is it you want?"

Its dialect is strange: "It is my duty to kill you; then I may be free." Nil is pretty much the only one that understands it.

Nil tags it with Suggestion, and uses her knowledge cleric schtick to read its mind. It... hates its master. A lot. Violently. Nil suggests that it could wait out here while we kill its masters.

This is, oddly, within the bounds of its orders. It will remain here and kill anyone who approaches; we can pass. Also, Nil's accent is boring, which is sad. (OOC: I have never in my life seen *anyone* negotiate with an invisible stalker; this group has done it twice.) We re-locate the invisible trap door, and go back down.

We take another rest in the Tiny Hut.

We somewhat arbitrarily proceed through Door #2 (middle door on the west all). The light strip follows the walls here, just as it does for most of this level. The light is broken up by something against the middle of the far wall. On the floor there are rotten pieces of cloth, moldering pillows... but there's a peculiar arrangement to it; the pillows look like you might kneel on them while regarding the dark... altar? It's carved with dragon claws, dragon wings unfurled; there's a bowl gripped by carved dragon claws, overlooked by a dragon's head. It's a particularly individual dragon; there are specific details.

This is not an altar to a god; it seems to be worshipping dragons. The bowl is metal, well-used, with a symbol on it: the symbol of Keraptis. The altar is potentially an altar to Keraptis; in which case he might actually *be* a dragon.

Nil: "Whelm, did you ever meet Keraptis?"

Whelm: "My creator did."

Nil: "Dragon?"

Whelm: "Yeah... big black one."

Thelmor: "It could be worse. Could be a dracolich."

Whelm and Wave: "Dracolich?"

Thelmor: "Undead dragon."

Nil: "Have you heard the term before?"

Wave: "What we fought was not entirely alive. A dragon whose scales and skin hung from its flesh like drapes."

Whelm: "Any chance we can get rid of it now? It was gross. We sealed him away so he wouldn't do anything worse."

Nil: "How did you seal him? Is he trapped in some way?"

Wave: "We did not know how to end it. We feared it would not stay dead. So we sealed his essence away."

Nil: "So the statue in the crystal cave is...?"

Whelm: "Oh, yes. Actually Keraptis."

Thelmor: "Okay, so has anybody seen a phylactory?"

Jhuni: "I would hide something like that in with a lot of other stuff."

Nil: "Yes, but we used Detect Magic in the junk room. It would have shown up."

She turns, looks at the altar, and walks over to inspect it. The altar is smooth underneath the dust, like it saw a lot of use a long time ago. The bowl looks like it can be slipped out of the claws, and Nil wonders if that's a trap or if it's for ease of cleaning. There don't seem to be any secret pockets in it.

There is an inscription, in several languages. In draconic, "Praise to the all-powerful Keraptis, king to all who live or die."

Grey recalls detect magic. The altar has seen some magic, but isn't any more magic than this whole area; there doesn't seem to be a phylactery hidden inside. We back away from the altar, and use mage hand to work the bowl loose from the carved dragon's hands. Nothing happens. Grey suggests reshaping the statue; Nine rushes over and smashes the head off it. We all congratulate him on a good job. He claims the bowl, which is the first thing he's ever owned.

Jhuni gives him a half geode; it's the second thing that's his.

Nil: "I'm getting the flesh golem a kitten if we ever get out of here."

We head out, and check door #1 (southwest). There are still footsteps behind it, still; we sneak in with surprising skill. (Well, surprising for some of us.)

It's a large room, partly partitioned off. Two bugbears are sleeping on cots. There's also a door on the far side, to the southwest; it's closed. Grey and Thelmor move up and take them out. There's a brief moment of struggle, and then they settle back. Nil moves to the far door and listens there.

There's water moving, probably natural; not much else. She motions us up, and opens the door. There's a man-made hot springs, carved out of the stone; there are rough toothbrushes in custom-carved niches, made of bugbear and boar hair. There's a bar of rough soap... these are oddly kempt bugbears. There are even some cloths piled off to the side, like towels.

There are more etchings here, along the same wall as the cubbies, in gnomish and draconic. Whelm: "Grandpa Keraptis had a lot of gnome followers." Jhuni reads the draconic.

It seems to be an affirmation: "A clean life is a happy life. A happy life is a productive life."

Nil: "Did this asshole make them carve Live Laugh Love in the hot tub room???"

Thelmor picks up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Gnomish Soul, grimaces, and puts it down again.

We give up and head across to Room #6 (southeast). We can still hear clockwork gears behind it, and the rustling of papers. (OOC: "This dungeon supplies all the affirmations in Mega City One. We have to shut it down!")

Jhuni takes the lead on this one.

It's very clean; there are huge bookcases, shelves built into the walls. Some of the books and scrolls look very old and very used, while others are freshly bound and new. A bunch of odd little mechanism are walking around, books and scrolls floating around them. They have a single eye at the top, and seem to be using telekinesis to hold the books so they can read.

The books look like magic and magical theory. Jhuni spots one by a very famous dragonborn sorcery, and then it's carried off out of sight. Jhuni: "No fire in there. No fire in the library."

Nil: "Do we need anything out of there?"

Jhuni: "Not until after we deal with Keraptis."

After bringing us up to speed, Jhuni goes back in. "Hello?"

Robot voice: "How-may-I-help-you?"

Jhuni: "Anything on phylacteries?"

Robot Librarian: "Of-course-follow-me."

It leads her to a book on liches and phylacteries. Jhuni: "What about Keraptis' phylactery?"

Robot: "My-knowledge-is-of-the-library-and-its-books."

Jhuni flips through the book to be polite, and finds a section on dracoliches. "Could I get a copy of this section, the bit about dracoliches."

Robot: "The-book-cannot-leave-the-care-of-the-library-autonomons."

She negotiates for a reading room for us, and we all troop in.

The account is a mix of common, draconic, gnomish; it has quite a bit of information on dracoliches. Only the most narcissistic dragons choose this past, as it severs their connections to their gods. They are cunning and manipulative. There's a ritual that involves a special brew and cultists or mages; it produces a gem that functions as a lich's phylactery.

What sort of gem? Well, black, for a black dragon. A black pearl, a bloodstone. Jhuni starts pulling out semiprecious and not at all precious stone. Somewhere in there the robot librarian gets very excited about meeting non-gnomes. Nil and Jhuni are both ready to adopt them. It sounds like they were built by gnomes, and the gnomes set the rules.

Robot librarian: "I-can-technically-do-what-I-want."

Nil and Jhuni at the same time: "You should come with us!!!!!"

Gods, we've adopted a mechanical librarian and it's CUTE. It has a name in the machine language, but it was fifteenth in its line so we can call it fifteen.

Yeah, we've adopted a librarian. Does Jhuni have Find Familiar? Not really. But Fifteen has a book with that spell, and she adopts him as her familiar. His telekinesis doesn't affect anything except paper and books and scrolls and such; but that's still a lovely quality in a familiar.

We stop there.

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