Thursday, October 29, 2020

Duendewood: A Boat Full Of Spies

We're picking back up in the GozarTD campaign again, this time as our Elvish party. Geddy Lee Geddy, Gnome Bard, has come up to join us -- having saved his previous group sometime back by fireballing himself and a large number of undead, and then being raised from the dead -- as he's not coping entirely well with his resurrection and was fascinated to hear rumors of the "Twice-Born" among the elves. He's replacing our snake-obsessed cleric, Marshall Mercy, who's moved down to take a place with the King's newest Solari in the human-controlled area of the nation. 

We're in a council meeting, with Baethira (Ruin's mother - Ruin being the only True Elf in the group, and a Horizon Walker) The High Provost (who's also a servant of Vecna and who hasn't been murdered only because Baethira won't let Ruin kill him yet) and Joseph R Pious (Evil Human Paladin, reformed) with Bauregard (his rather devious NPC servant) behind him. The King and the Council want us to sail the Boner Galleon (the boat we stole from the Vecna cult when we killed their wizards and ran off with their skeletons) around to Wellfort to sign an alliance with the dark army in order to attack the humans. We have a crew, headed by a half-elf captain named Wyland, with his first mate Alarian and their crew of 18 sailors. They are combat trained, but they'll be relying on us for any serious fighting.

King Mithrandril would like us to stop at Lighthouse Point on the way and deliver a note. He in not subtle about it, and Martini takes the note to go along with the treaty describing how we can bargain with the dark army.

The note says, "Mind ye the wood supply. It is winter and fire burns cold. Know your duty and your identity. The lighthouse must burn bright to burn away the darkness."

The King then approaches, lights a little candle and rings a bell; but it makes no noise within the light of the candle. "Better," he says. "I have agreed to send you to treat with the dark army; but there is no hurry. I'd like you to buy me some time. And I'd like you to investigate the town of Amplovau, where the skeletons were supposed to go."

Also, OOC we're entirely sure what became of the skeletons we stole. Apparently we locked them away in some of the High Elf settlements, because keeping them in the Keep in Annun (where the High Provost and the King are both currently ensconced) seemed like a really bad idea. Then, back in character:

Also, in the Southern part of Duendewood the King would like us to visit the centaurs and see if we can recruit them as allies.

Baethira catches up with us as soon as we leave the room; she's sending us off with two wands of Cure Light Wounds, and one wand of Death Ward. She's very worried by the sophistication of the necromancy behind the skeletons. Her opinion as a high-level wizard is "Be very careful of high-level necromancy," and, "Don't die, my dears."

We depart the next morning. It's a two-day journey to get to Lighthouse Point, but we've taken off at last. Getty starts listening in and talking to people, and it takes him maybe five whole minutes to realize that Captain Wyland and the crew have clearly been planted by the council; the mate is in on it, and about half the crew is in on it. There are maybe seven or eight who aren't. They aren't hostile, exactly, they're just supposed to herd us directly to the rendezvous with the dark army, and report back on anything we do.

Two days pass, and we're approaching Lighthouse Point. Wyland and Alarian are looking for our contact. Darvinin is there, along with his cohort and about two dozen very tanned elves who look like sailors.

Ruin: "Martini, if you'd be so kind?"

Martini: "Absolutely. Pull over, Captain, the King wishes us to stop here."

Wyland rolls his eyes, but Martini notices it and intimidates him. We dock. 

Ruin offers his brother Darvinin the note, but Darvinin doesn't take it; instead, he waggles his fingers, and everybody who's tried to read the note immediately finds their hands glowing green... starting with the captain. Ruin pulls his massive curved sword and expresses his desire to have a conversation with Captain Wyland.

We swap crews. Our new captain is a true elf, named Helmar. With our new, less-respectful-but-more-loyal crew  (many of whom are "dark elves" -- followers of the hierophant Androw) we set out again.

We sail on to Amplovau. As we approach the town, we note that two large boats identical to the Boner Galley have been scuttled in the bay. These would, presumably, have carried the earlier shipments of enchanted skeletons.

The town itself is barely visible, hidden as it is behind mists. What we can see, out near the shore, are a handful of wandering zombies. The zombies aren't paying us much attention.

We don't have longboats, but we do have Airwolf. (Airwolf, you might recall, is the statuette that turns into a giant fly that can carry us around. Getty brought it over from the last party. It's loosely equivalent to a hippogriff, so its carrying capacity is limited... but it's a lot better than nothing.)

Before we go, Azrael the Goth Wizard looses his familiar owl, Horatio, to scout the hell out of this town. Horatio does.

There's an abandoned market area; dead soldiers and militia; something that might be a warehouse, a manor, and a mess of scorch marks where a bunch of soldiers got fireballed. There's a larger, stranger undead in the cemetary not far from city hall, which is a larger building on the east side of town. There's a dead body in one of the boats.

We use Airwolf to ferry us over to a relatively isolated spit of land on the far side of the dock. A single zombie wanders over, and we put it down. Then we mosey quietly forward. Well... most of us. Getty is not being as quiet as he thinks he is, partly because he's trying to practice his scales -- sneakily. "La-la-la-la-la-la-la!"

This, of course, draws the attention of other zombies; but we start taking them out at range with arrows, and manage not to attract *too* much more attention. They're not hard to hit, and Ruin's ranger background makes him  surprisingly formidable with a bow. (Note to self: I should make more use of this, and maybe pick up a magic bow at some point... especially as the Horizon Walker build brings me nearer to being able to teleport essentially at will.)

Just beyond the falling zombies, another monster appears; everybody but Azrael sees it. Martini finishes off the last of the regular zombies. Getty calls the monster to his attention: "So that big thing with the extra set of arms is a Devourer; he attacks with his claws, can pull an energy drain, but the thing to really fear is an attack that sucks you into his ribcage; you need to destroy him to be freed. He can absorb spells onto the little person inside his rib cage.

Getty... renders us invisible with Invisibility Sphere, and sends Airwolf to hover 30' off the ground. We try to sneak away...

...but not very quietly. This time it's Azrael stumbling over his robe that gives us away. The devourer comes straight towards us.

Azrael casts False Life on himself, making him at least a bit harder to kill.

Ruin: "Move towards the door."

Martini casts False Life on herself, so we move as a group towards the door. We shuffle into the building and find ourselves in a kitchen, with a dead chef on the floor. Lovely.

The devourer is outside the door, scratching at it. The door opens inwards, so... Azrael grabs the nearest piece of furniture and tries to block the door. Specifically, he grabs the nearest table, strains mightily, and utterly fails to lift it into the air. Martini moves to help... and between the two of them they lift the table and push it against the door. In her ball gown, yet.

Even better, they manage it quietly. Azrael crosses to the far door and listens; there's something shuffling around/pattering around out there, making odd little grunts.

The door opens in, smashing the table back; we push it back into place and the devourer hisses in frustration. Azrael's of the opinion that we should just risk the next room.

The next room looks like some kind of dining hall; there's a thing on the table. It's... not a monkey. Maybe a flesh golem? No. There's some intelligence there, and it has the look of a surgically modified undead.

Martini moves up to flank Azrael, and Geddy uses the Death Ward wand on Ruin.

Ruin sneaks up on the thing on the table, but waits until he can make a full attack. The beastie smashes in through the door, and Martini unloads her prepared attacks on him. Of her four stabbing attacks, three hit; she's basically a sewing machine, though she's not hitting terribly hard.

Azrael steps back and blasts him with a scorching ray; Martini follows up with another attack, but now that he's reacting he's a lot harder to hit. She isn't intimidated, and stabs him three times before she misses with her shortsword and stabs Azrael instead. Geddy is the only one who's still invisible, but he steps back and casts Haste, which is a badass buff.

Ruin moves back in and slams his falchion into the nasty not-golem. Meanwhile, the devourer tears his way in from the outside and licks his lips, looking at Geddy.

The in-building nasty slashes Azrael, doing strength damage and dropping him before he can cast the Fireball spell that might have saved us.

Martini steps back and turns invisible.

Geddy moves away from the devourer and drops Grease on it; Ruin attacks the nasty undead and hurts it; the devourer tries to suck out Azrael's essence, but fails as Azrael goes fully boneless-kitty in his hands. The nastybeast tries to bite Ruin but misses.

Martini moves to a flanking position on the devourer, hasted, and attacks with both weapons. Unfortunately, this thing is ridiculously tough; of the four attacks she makes, only one actually penetrates.

Geddy tries Rainbow Pattern, and fascinates them. The devourer drops Azrael on the floor. The smaller one, the nasty one, is too strong to be affected as well; but Ruin cuts him down moments later.

Martini considers the fascinated undead horror, and does her best stab the actual heck out of him. This time she gets better penetration; four of her strikes get through.

He no longer fascinated, but he is damaged... and pissed. Geddy takes the opportunity to make Helpless Azrael invisible.

The devourer devours Martini and tries to flee, but Ruin cuts it down on the way out.

This was... not an optimal outcome; we withdraw to the Boner Gallery to let Azrael recover.

On the minus side, this was not how this battle was supposed to go; on the plus side... we didn't all die?

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