Ground Zero

The Siege of Critwall
Lets sack Critwall!

Since the experdition to Castle Greyhawk, Maximus has been crossing the DMZ and spying on the forces of Iuz in Critwall and other places on the southern border near Greyhawk’s northern border. This is due to him having relocated the former Iuz-priest Angela. Angela said that there were likely a lot of lower level clerics that were forced into the clergy that might wish a way out if it were possible. Maximus thought that a city or other location would be needed for these so called refugees since its unlikely that any city would trust their sincerity. He set his sights on Critwall because we knew the leader of the cikty Vayne and his 2nd and command General At Ur-Rehmat were both dead (by our hands of course). His spying also revealed that the city would probably be moved on by other Boneheart members in the near future.

So, he asked Ground Zero if we would assist in sacking Critwall. We temporarily put aside the quest of returnig the eye of boccob to the Grand Temple of Boccob in the lost castle of greyhawk due to the Druid not being able to accompany us at the time. So we thought at least looking into Maximus’ claims that Critwall was ripe for the pickings would be a good option.

Eljay hires the SeaMutts to enforce a blockage of the river that supplies both Critwall AND Amundfort/Greyhawk for as long as they can. Then all of Ground Zero visited the encampment of Prince Stephen in Amundfort unannounced with the hopes that the news of the blockage would encourage Stephen to launch his assault on Critwall without us asking him to do so. Thus, making it look like
his idea and making him very agreeable to the notion. Adrianna was asked along by Eljay because he thinks that the priests of Boccob don’t get out enough.

Ground Zero uses the Rough Riders Marine Division’s new Mark II submariner ship to travel to Amundfort. Once there, we visit the bivouaced troops and wait for Prince Stephen to find us. This doesn’t take long. He invites us to dinner with a few notable personages and announces that the time is right to strike. he asks Eljay, Maximus and Beodar to lead the Strike Force of Ground Zero (and whatever forces they need) to handle any "level"ed opponents in the city while he and his army handles the conventional forces. Eljay and GZ accept and start planning their assault.

Maximus’ contacts in the city is Angela and she learns that the rebels in the city are children between the ages of 5 – 15 that have managed to scrounge up some magic items off the corpses of the dead. Anatoli uses a Dream spell to emulate the druid’s commune with nature spell with respect to the city. Armed with this info, GZ creates the following plan.

We discover that there is a group of 15 charmed hill giants to the north of the city rebuilding destroyed walls. We discover that there are 6000 orc troops inside the city and another 4000 outside. There are four tribes of orcs including the Celebits and Jelibits and two others. We learned that there were several summoning circles around the city including a really big one in the city hall in the center of city. Most (over 2/3rds) of all the bldgs in Critwall are rubble. So the buildings that are left are very obvious and spread out.

Maximus uses the rebels to plant explosives made by Beodar on all the major bldgs. They also place metal “lightning rods” on the various buildings attached to the explosives to be used to set them off. Maximus also has the kids find the various summoning circles and sabotage them by erasing parts and covering them with chalk to make it difficult to discover from a distance. They also
poured a thickening solution/potion onto the arrow reserves so that they would be useless in combat. The children reached all of the circles except for one large one in City hall. Maximums took care of that. During this process, he discovered that the circle there had a center gem that was too big to be a diamond and had runes around it. After conferring with GZ, he learned from Beodar that it was a soul object and he should leave it there and get out immediately. Before leaving. he succeeds in destroying the summoning circle and gets a rubbing of the runes around the soul object.

Aldebaron, Maximus and Beodar disguise themselves with polymorph self as Orcs to sell wine to the troops as well as spiked wine to the troop leaders.

Anatoli planned on using Blindness to blind the leaders as orcs take being blinded without physical injury as a sign of displeasure from Gruumsh.

Anatoli uses a Major Creation to put a false drainpipe made of aluminum and filled with powdered magnesium with a wick on it. It runs the entire height of the city hall.

GZ agrees to meet on the top of City Hall once all the other plans start. Those plans are:

Eljay polys into a Hill Giant and Tarl into an Orc. They head to a large encampment of charmed Hill Giants that were helping to fix the city walls on the Northern side of the city. Eljay uses his sword to break all the charms. Tarl then aggravates the giants and makes it look like the orcs are doing it. Eljay then “herds” the giants through the city killing everything in their path.

Anatoli then creates an illusion of General At Ur-Rehman stating that one of the orc tribes leaders has been struck blind and has betrayed the others. and that all the orcs should go to war on that tribe to kill them for doing so. He then uses his Rog of Beguiling to “encourage” them to believe him. He then disappears via ring of invisibility and lets the orcs that are now whipped into a
frenzy deal with the chaos of the giants, the blind leaders and the tainted wine.

Aldebaron then kills an orc and polymorphs him to look like the General in a different part of the city and makes it sound like he has been slain by Gruumsh. The corpse is created to look as if it died of the “dreaded bleeding death” that orcs accompany with being punished by disobeying Gruumsh.

Things get chaotic here. For the orcs at least. The plan goes fairly well and as we expect. however, in city hall, some sort of continngency goes off and the demon that is attached to the soul gem is summoned. At the same time, GZ scatters and Antoli sets off the drainpipe. The resulting combination of forces creates a firestorm that incinerates everything within a 100 yards.
After the dust clears, we notice that there is a type 6 demon present in 17 foot height weilding a flaming sword and whip. We decide that we should leave except that it was uncontained and would decimate Prince Stephen’s forces when they got there…and keep going. So Beodar says that if GZ can buy him some time, he can use the rubbing (which is the demons’ true name) to create a
weapon that will vanquish the demon. So GZ engages. Anatoli casts a reverse Tempus Fugit so that GZ and the demopn are slowed to 1/10th of the time relative to Beodar who is outside of the area of effect. Beodar casts several spells including one that copies the runes from the paper rubbing to his Lawful Evilly aligned magic sword.

During the delaying fight, Antoli used an Alter Reality to pull the soul object to his hand and then fed it to his Gnomish Bag that devours gems. This got the attention of the Demon as apparently it didn’t kill the demon as Anatoli was hoping. Anaotoli is slain by the demon. By fire. His bag turns into a normal bag for now. Beodar was able to hit the demon with his sword which caused the demon to turn to stone.

The forces of Prince Stephen arrive and kick much ass aided by GZ. Lots of large area of effect spells go off. Maximus emulates a blender. Adrianna shows up and apparently resurrects Anatoli despite the fact that she doesn’t appear to be high enough level.

The captain of the Water Raven used his ship to help reduce the number of fleeinng orcs to the river. Afterwards he confessed that he is a displaced Shield Lander of the noble court and was going to be coming back to help restore Critwall land the Shield LAnds. However, Critwall is completely beyond repair after the demons arrival. Anatoli decides to recreate the foundations of the city with a central keep using an Alter Reality. After announcing his intentions to GZ, the other mages in the group including Eljay, Aldebaron and Beodar agree to lend Limited wishes to the effort. Beodar stays up all night and completely designs New Critwall. That morning before sunrise Tarl summons earth elementals to shape the earth and bring forth raw materials for the effort. Magic Ensues. New Critwall is born. And GZ rides off into the sunset.

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Treasure picks from the ruins of Castle Greyhawk
Player Pick# Item
Beodar 1 Tzilla’s Rod of flailing
Beodar 2 Ring of spell volley (21 charges)
Beodar 3 Longsword sword of ebon flame +2
Beodar 4 Stone of seeking +3
Beodar 5 +1 Short bow
Beodar 6 Amulet +4 chr to illithids
Anatoli 1 Max’s glass steel dagger
Anatoli 7 Ring of weakness and Ring of contrariness
Anatoli 2 small gun,belt,24 bullets/gloves of dexterity w/ prof in handgun
Anatoli 3 Miniature hat of disguise
Anatoli 4 Amulet of dimension door (6x per day)
Anatoli 5 Book of charisma
Anatoli 6 Minitature vorpal great sword
Aldebaron 1 Book of constitution
Aldebaron 2 Miniature vorpal great sword
Aldebaron 3 Adamantium
Aldebaron 4Miniature halberds (vorpal)
Aldebaron 5 2 statues (one crystal, one gold) spell components
Eljay 1 Magic crosbow (hand crossbow) +2
Maximus 1 Suelese battle harness
Maximus 2 Minor quiver of holding
Maximus 3 +2 axe of hurling
Maximus 4 Ring of fire resistance
Maximus 5 Earring of extended hearing (target with hearing vs vision) 5 charges 1 turn per
Maximus 6 Minitature vorpal great sword
Tarl 1 Ring of water elemental command
Tarl 2 +2 axe of hurling
Tarl 3 Amulet of protection from magic (gives save when no save)
Tarl 4 +1 Ring of protection
Tarl 5 Minitature vorpal great sword
Jet 1 Pearl of wisdom (in ear ring)
Jet 2 Ebony fly
Jet 3 Ring of charm monster (1/day)
Jet 4 Ring of shocking grasp
Tahlia 1 Wand of fireballs (melted tip) 12 charges
Tahlia 2 Ring of undead protection (5’)
Tahlia 3 Handaxe +1 on natural 20 slay living
Tahlia 4 Spiked buckler +2
Tahlia 5 Miniature murlynd’s spoon
Tahlia 6 Arrowhead of slaying (trolls)

Ring of greater boneheart and lesser boneheart (proof of death given to city)
Magical cloak of admiration (returned to greyhawk)
Statue for contingency

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Assault on the Greyhawk Mage's Guild

Hey, guys

I heard that on the last run, Eljay was given the task of finding the Temple of Boccob previously located in Castle Greyhawk and placing the Eye of Boccob on its altar. The Temple is supposedly somewhere in the Abyss.

You contacted Zarya Savendi of Rel Astra and Lo Rel Tarma. She said she could contruct a device which would locate the Temple, but she needed something from Zagyg’s Study in the Mages’ Guild in Greyhawk.

You went to the Mages’ Guild to find everyone unconscious. After investigation and combat, you learned that a Type 6 demon had been released (summoned?) from an artifact by a discontented student. Aldebaran made a bargain with the artifact to reimprison (dispel?) the demon. Eljay woke the unconscious people by cutting them with his sword (which had a dispel magic effect).

Question 1: What happened differently from this writeup?
Question 2: What else happened?
Question 3 (and most importantly): When shall we run again? I have plans for Jan 17, 18, and 24. But after that is currently okay.

Jeanette

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The Last Maxximillian B. Thornblade Story

Hey, guys. Here is the last run summary.

Before the game starts, we have just attended Max’s wake and the viewing for Sym. We are in the city of Greyhawk. Eljay has become a Storm Warden for the Temple of Boccob. He is apparently very friendly with Adrianna, the high priestess of Boccob.

Talia gets Beodar and Aldebaran to help her get Anatoli to go on a date with her. (The spells, Web and Geas, are mentioned.) Anatoli is out of game for the rest of the evening.

While we are in Greyhawk, the Ambassador to Greyhawk from the Lands of Iuz (Lurch) is found dead with Max’s badge found near the body. Beodar was the last one to have Max’s badge. The Mayor of Greyhawk asks us to investigate.

Tirra (the elven thief who got us to steal the brass monkey from Zagyg’s study) drops by to say her underlings saw something jump the Ambassador. They “tried to help”. One was wounded, another killed, and the rest ran. By the time they returned, the Ambassador was dead – they found him in the catacombs beneath the city, not in the street where he had been allegedly jumped. Eljay is suspicious of the thief’s information, mostly because she volunteered it.

The Jewels of Greyhawk have a shop just beside the spot where the Ambassador was allegedly attacked. One Jewel (Alethia) says she heard creams, saw 5-10 people fighting, and left when she saw a wand emerge.

Maximus says the area of the attack is unnaturally clean. Jet uses Sensitivity to Psychic Impression. She “sees” the Ambassador, accompanied by two thief bodyguards, go into the shop of the Jewels of Greyhawk. He then comes out, and goes into the next door merchant’s shop using a key. After an hour, he comes out and goes into the alley. After 15 minutes, a flapping noise is heard. Shadow figures attack the ambassador and his guards. The ambassador uses a bone want on his attackers. The caped figure uses a wand of acid in response. The ambassador retreats through a locked grate (he has some device which acts as a key) into the catacombs. The caped figure attacks again. The ambassador says “please don’t take my soul” and dies. The caped figure appears to be a shade.

The merchant’s house that the Ambassador went into belongs to the merchant Othmir, an importer/exporter of exotic goods. Maximus interrogates the clerk. Eljay questions Othmir. Othmir says the Ambassador sells him cheap oil, and he provides the Ambassador with a special perfume to hide his rotting stench, and makes the ambassador special candles with blood.

We go into the catacombs to examine the death scene. Maximus finds tracks from the Amabassador, his guards, the city guards who found and retrieved the body, and the shade (whose tracks are very light and just start in the middle of the tunnel).

We go to the city morgue to examine the body. The ambassador apparently died from having a sword inserted into his chest and twisted. His skin reacts to milk as if he were an animus. He has a tattoo, which might be the holy symbol of Iuz, or Nerull, or Hexis (Iuz and Igwilv’s son, the god of corruption). Tarl uses Speak with Dead. After a few minutes of conversation, the body animates and Jet cuts off its head.

We go into the catacombs to find what the Ambassador was running toward. Eljay uses Mordenkainen’s Hound to find the Ambassador’s cache. Protected by a guardian familiar, the cache contains 3 scrolls, a robe with bloodstains, a cauldron, a crystal ball, and a skull covered with wax and a candle on top.

A separate box contains a diary. Lurch had lost his spells, and then he got spells back. He started having dreams asking him to betray Iuz. His spies (the Bone Shadow) had started disappearing. He planned to leave Greyhawk soon.

Beodar remembers that Max had created a simulacrum. Max’s staff, Umbra, has the ability to drain levels and transfer energy to the wielder. If it drains all a person’s levels, the weilder gets a permanent level.

We think that several prior murders have occured in the Thieves Guild. Unable to handle it themselves., the guild set it up to implicate Beodar to get us involved. So we call their bluff and throw Beodar in jail ourselves – after getting drunk at Sym’s favorite tavern first.

Tirra comes to us and tells us that someone else died last night (Sentel Nerev, guild seneschal). Before the ambassador, four other people had died. There was a fence, a recruiter for the Thieves Guild, and the assistant to Bubka, the mage of exchange. All were enemies or assistants of enemies of Max. She accepted that we called her bluff, and agreed to make the evidence against Beodar disappear. We agree to find the killer.

With Adrianna’s assistance, we set up “a special night of divination” and invite the head of the merchants guild and his friends. We believe they are the most likely next targets of assassination. The simulacrum of Max attacks and we kill him.

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Death of a God
End of an Era

First and foremost. WOW. I had some massive expectations and you people did NOT disappoint. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. One by one you go into the GodTrap to face an unknown foe only to be picked off one by one. Maximus challenges Maxx show his true allegiances and he chooses the IuzBane. Maxx meets his unavoidable end. Anatoli pledges himself in the service of Boccob and soon thereafter releases all the occupants of the GodTrap. Epic battle ensures in which many of us fall, Sym for the final time. A desperate battle with a desperate god. IuzBane triumphant. But at what cost? Sym slain by a vengeful god…Maxx’s soul forever lost..But much was gained: Robilar restored. The Iuzbane cursed removed. Iggwilv thwarted.

Oh yeah, and just so you know. I was fairly sure that the game was going to end with everybody being dead except for the Druid. But thanks to Anatoli’s quick thinking, the group managed to survive certain death. And we all live to do this for another 21 years :-)

And now, THE AFTERMATH!!!!

The backwash of energy from the deactivation of the GodTrap completely nullifies the magic of the templated ioun stones and anything created from the focus. All those items lose their dweomer and turn to dust about an hour after we make our way from the area of Castle Greyhawk.

Additionally, the World Serpent Inn has closed off most of its doors from the eyes of casual mortals. You can only enter through consecrated temples to Greater Gods. Certain lesser powers may allow transport but is is unknown how to ascertain which ones can do so.

Zuggtumouy is distraught and blames the IuzBane for Iuz’s death. However, she has limited ability to affect the prime material plane. At least in theory…

Mordenkainen “leaks” knowledge of our encounter with minions of Iuz beneath Castle Greyhawk. He explains it simply as “on his behalf”. The ruling oligarchy of the City of Greyhawk hails us as heroes for our part in thwarting the invasion via the Underdark. There are no public accolades though as they do not wish to upset the general public with knowledge of a threat that they did not see coming. It would cause unnecessary panic. Each of us is awarded the title of Lord and is given a small 2 bedroom bungalow in the High Quarter. The title is meaningless outside of the city but grants some respect and some small amount of political clout inside the city. We still have to pay taxesto the city for the land of course….

Robilar gives each of you a gift from his cache of treasures:
Maximus: You are given a strange piece of leather like material with a beautiful tattoo of a bullseye on it. If worn for one month against your skin, the tatoo will transfer to you. It will allow you once a day to get a bonus of +6 on a hand held missile weapon either thrown, hurled or mechanically shot. When the ability is activated, the tattoo becomes indistinct. Over the next 24 hours, it becomes more and more clear as it recharges.

Tarl: You are given a_Phylactery of Divine Power_ . This small gem is attached by a silk cloth piece and allows you to recall any one curing or healing spell you have already cast, once a day. the spell must still be cast normally once it is back in your mind. It must be worn to be activated.

Eljay: you are contacted by Mordenkainen. He says that in thanks for helping him, he will help your “sword enchantment problem”. I’ll get with you one-on-one for more details.

Aldebaron: Robilar gives you a wand of polymorphing with 36 charges left in it.

Jet: Robilar gives you a Gauntlet of the Gladiator. 1/week grants the wearer the THACO of a warrior of equal level for 1 turn. However, you also lose 5 points each in intelligence, wisdom, and charisma for the duration.

Anatoli: Robilar gives you a Cloak of Protection +2.

Tenser gives you access his following spells:
Tenser’s Deadly Strike 3rd
Tenser’s Giant Strength 4th
Given your levels in fighter, he thinks these might help you.

Beodar’s gift is revealed at a later date. :-)

Sym’s Fate:
A hero’s funeral is given for Sym. He is declared The Forever Arena Champion and the title is retired. The new title for those that compete is Grand Gladiator. Sym is laid in state in Five Oaks Quarter for one week. He wears the cape of the Champion and his sword is atop his body.

After a week of such ceremony, his body is transferred to the Shield Lands. Prince Stephen makes him an Honorary Knight of Holy Shielding (which pisses off most of the existing Knights of Holy Shielding. Sym is laid in state in the current capital city of the Shield Lands for one week. To hide his face for the more delicate members of the elite, a carved wooden mask of his facial likeness is used to cover his withered/shriveled head. Sym is buried in the ancestral graveyard of the noble houses of the Shield Lands. His statue has one foot atop a bloody skull. He wears chaimail with no helm, his sword and a club in his off hand. It is an amazing likeness in the statue.

Afterwards, the campaign to retake the shield lands begins full tilt. Prince Stephen calls for an all out war to take back the Shield Lands. All the exiled Knighs of Holy Shielding jubilantly answer his call to arms. There is a large exodus from Greyhawk City as the drums of war start there steady pace. It is rumored that Sym’s will leaves all of his fortune to pay for mercenaries and such to fund the war.

Kymballa’s Nuptials:
Kymballa and Melf have been given leave to reschedule heir wedding at their own convenience. Out of respect for their dead comrades, they have scheduled for 2 months hence. Kymballa openly grieves for Maxx’s passing.

Tahlia’s Plans:
Decides to spend stay in Greyhawk for Kymballa’s wedding before heading back to Urnst. She says she will drop in from time to time but wants to spend sometime with her kids, Winkin, Blinkin and Chuck.

Eljay:
Mordenkainen gives you the ring permanently. Ring of the Faithful Companion. Summon’s a Mordenkainen’s Faithful Hound. Visible and audible only to the ring wearer. Can exist 4 hours a day in any increments. If the hound is dispelled, then the ring is inert for a week. The dog has memory between summoning and can be named. It cannot talk but there is a 75% chance that it is able to get its point across even if the information is more complicated than yes/no.

Mordenkainen also gives you access to his following spells:
Mordenkainen’s Emcompassing Vision 2nd
Mordenkainen’s Electric Arc 4th
Mordenkainen’s Faithful Phantom Shield-Maidens 4th
Mordenkainen’s Faithful Phantom Defenders 5th

The spies in the Lands of Iuz report that there is a major happening in the capital city of Dorakaa. No one knows exactly what is going on. It is rumored that a female has stepped up to assume leadership there. But no one can give an accurate description other than to say her skin is unusual in texture and color….

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Ruins of Castle Greyhawk Part 3

Hello, everyone.

We are playing dnd this weekend (where? who knows!) and so I am trying to post a quick summary of our last run.

We joined our intrepid adventurers camped out in the waiting room for the chamber of summoning. This is the room that gave us instructions for the safe phrase “I am a guest of Zagyg and I am allowed on the Promenade”, to be used before using gaseous form in the Chamber of Summoning.

We had decided to camp in this room. That night, we got attacked by
some oddly strong and oddly organized goblines, equipped (like the Kamikaze Kobold Korps of yesteryear) 1HD fireball beads. We kill them and collect the barrels of explosives they were planning on using on us.

We explore west and find a ?natural? cave covered with mold and fungus. A yellow musk zombie (a bullette in life) attacks, but Maximus kills it. He then kills the yellow musk creeper controlling it (in the bullette’s brain) with his bare hands.

Through the next door, we see what appears to be a picnic scene in Akbar in Tusmit. Anatoli’s Reveal Truth shows a pool of water, a banquet table, a bird cage, and many doors. The banquet table is covered with
rotten meat. One door leads to a room with a portal covered in blue mist. We do NOT go through the portal. Another door leads to a room that smelled of rotting meat and vinegar. We do NOT go through that one either. We do go into a hall lined with cells filled with components for illusionist spells. We loot whatever Anatoli wants, and destroy the rest.

In another room we find Loris Racnian, reigning champion of gladiators in Greyhawk. He was rumored to have made a deal with Nerull, to sacrifice his foes to the god of death. We kill him and his two arumvorax pets.

Mazier starts throwing up and teleports away. Sym shows up. We head back toward the Chamber of Divination. Beodar asks the name of the Iuz’ prist who died under Maximus’ questions – Renar. Beodar also asks for Vayne’s current location – the Chamber of Summoning.

We head for the Teleport Room, and go to Zagyg’s Prison. Anatoli uses the Obsidian Key to get in. 4 Type 2 demons (Hezrou) attack us, and we kill them.

In another room, we find what we think is Shindra’s gear.

In a desecrated temple of Boccob, we see an undead Ravel about to sacrifice a blond priestess. Anatoli uses Reveal Truth, to find that the priestess is the demoness Levashti. Sym dies when he attacks her, only to discover that she is protected by ice shield. Eljay uses giant growth and Tensor’s Transformation, and strikes her down using a desecrated statue of Boccob as a weapon.

In the next room, we find 9 cells, and a work bench with materials to repeat a simulacracum, and 2 books on making Zagyg’s prison and using a Force Cage (like the one Eljay has). The 9 cells contain materials for spells for the nine schools of magic. We loot them.

We find doors of strange purple metal engraved with pictures of Castle Greyhawk. Inside 2 crystalline statues of warriors attack us. Beodar destroys them using Shatter.

We find a pool of “blessed water” in the next room. We use it to clean the desecrated temple, purify Ravel’s body, and restore Sym. We create a sarcophagus for the body of Ravel in the temple, and Beodar blesses the temple in Boccob’s name. Boccob’s statue smiles

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Ruins of Castle Greyhawk Part 2

Here is a quick summary of our last run.

In the previous run, Ground Zero had spent some time in a room where divination spells were apparently cast for free. We agreed to leave there and go to the room where we had rested the previous night.

When we got to the rest and recreation room, it did not respond to Aldebaran’s commands as before. Anatoli used Reveal Truth to show a beautiful sea-elf lady in fine garments. She murmured something about her mistress summoning her, and used a spell to take the energy of the spell casters present. (All mages and clerics except Jet lost memorized spells of level 5 and above. Anybody recognize that spell? Anybody got any ideas about why Jet was not affected?) Then she disappeared.

We spent the night. All the mages spent at least some time researching information in the library in the back of the rest and recreation room. On the table were several books on the creation of life.

The next day, we headed back down to the treasure rooms. We tried a passageway, which had two alcoves – each filled with amazingly detailed miniatures. The miniatures included two groupings of Ground Zero. The first included the people and equipment from the first time Ground Zero came to Castle Greyhawk. The second was the people and their equipment from this time. The mages took their figurines. The rest of us did not.

Continuing down the hallway (ignoring the graffiti which warned us to not go on), we ended up teleporting naked into a tree-lined avenue. Apparently, we shrank as we teleported, and the miniatures remained the same size. Tarl arrived behind an amazingly convenient boulder. Jet came through with her dragon scale armor, and the appearance of her torc worked into the armor (but nothing else).

The people who brought their miniatures quickly dressed and armed themselves from the miniatures. Since Anatoli had brought his miniature, he had access to his gnomish pouch, and brought out robes of Hieronymus for all the naked people. Beodar and Anatoli armed all the naked people.

Jet used the torc on her armor to summon birds. They told her of the castle ahead, and that in the castle there was a black shard that we could use to leave.

We apparently were in Wonderland. Some people with the bodies of playing cards saw Maximus and ran away. (Possibly that was because he was naked!) We followed them to a red and white striped palace with heart motifs.

Inside we heard a shrill female voice. “You burst into my palace! You start talking! When will you learn — knock, then supplicate! Knock! Supplicate!”

We followed the voice to find the queen of the card men. Upon seeing us, the red queen screams “Off with their heads!” The fight begins. The seven red guards are armed with vorpal weapons. The queen is a magic user, casting through projected image. Also, concealed in the room is the alterkin of Murlynd (Dnylrum?)

The fighting was very intense, but the puns were even worse. Maximus got depressed because with only one sword, he’s not doing as much damage as usual. Anatoli told him to “deal” with it. When a card guard got damaged, Anatoli said “he folded”. I forget the rest, though. Jet used the claws built into her dragon armor and turned into a Celestial cloud dragon. When she hit Dnylrum with both claws (being Jet, that took her five rounds), she unexpectedly got a bite attack. She also got a breath weapon attack greater than normal on the next round (killing Dnylrum – Anatoli took a Kodagnome picture) and a constriction attack on a guard on the round after that. Weird. Aldebaran Itemizes Dnylrum.

Anatoli who is holding the Obsidian Key, feels a tugging toward a black shard. When he gets close, the shard merges with his Key. Anatoli uses the Key to draw a door, and we walk through that, back to the passageway. We are naked again, but we find our stuff on the floor where we teleported away. Oddly, we have the loot from Wonderland, but it is all miniature sized, except for the picture that Anatoli took which is normal size, and inside his bag. Tarl Raises Dead on Dnylrum, and we use the Orb to send Dnylrum away.

Finally, we go to the last unexplored door, which has a picture of an ape on it. Inside we are apparently at the beach, with a small, empty boat on the shore. A bank of mist hangs off shore. A few people get in the boat and the boat heads for the mist, but another boat comes out for the rest of us.

Through the mist, we come to a lush, volcanic island. The jungle heat and insects are oppressive until Jet uses Control Temperature and Repel Insects.

On the shore, a 20 foot tall ape is feeding on a dinosaur carcass. Following Maximus’ advice we act non-aggressive. The ape acts suspicious, but then ignores us. He walks into a cave, and we follow into a long natural tunnel.

The tunnel opens out unto a natural savanna, surrounded by volcanoes, some of which appear to be active. Browsing dinosaurs and pterodactyls are visible in the distance. We also can see a purple ziggurat in the distance.

Anatoli feels drawn to the ziggurat, so we head that direction. As we draw near to the ziggurat, we see it is covered with arcane runes of binding. From the top of the ziggurat charges a huge dinosaur – something like a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Anatoli distracts him with an illusion and lures him into an area where Jet has cast Rock to Mud. Maximus goes around to the top of the ziggurat, sees a cloudy pool, and dives in.

The rest of us follow (“Ground Zero doesn’t split the party.”) and we end floating in a dark space with moving spheres. Aldebaran touches one and is sucked in. He confronts himself, and immediately engages in combat (a bit Freudian, now that I think about it). The victor (we assume the original Aldebaran?) emerges from the sphere, holding another black shard.

Anatoli touches the shard with his key, and the key absorbs the shard. Anatoli has a vision of three shards merging to form a pyramid headed key – the form of the Obsidian Key artifact, held by Boccob. Anatoli’s key now looks a little more like the key in the vision, but not entirely.

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Jet's Musings

Jet has been troubled for quite a while by the sense that powerful, unseen forces have been manipulating us. The attack by what appeared to be Shaitan and Shalimar (but were really strangers under illusion) has confirmed her suspicions: somebody/somebodies wants/want to aim us at the Lands of Iuz and at the forces of Greater Aerdy.

However, the last run has really confused her, in that a different “style” manipulation suddenly appears to be going on as well. We seem to be getting clues that we are being sponsored/used/positioned by Boccob too. The confusing part is that Boccob is called the Uncaring for a reason.

Jet is working on two hypotheses.
1) One of the unseen forces has changed tactics. Since pushing didn’t work, they are trying to lure.
2) Jet got involved in the recent ordination of Boccob’s high priest, agreed to carry a focus object for Boccob before that, got involved in a quest of Kelanen (an associate of Zagig, associated with Boccob) before that, and was friends with Ravel Desander (high priest of Boccob) before that. Maybe, just maybe, we really are being positioned by Boccob or his emissary Zagig.

What does this mean? With the addition of a patron force (or even just the illusion of a patron force), Jet is willing to go into Zagig’s tower (which is where the game seems to be leading us.

Assuming we survive that, she is also ready to more directly confront the forces of Iuz. (Anybody willing to head over to the Shield Lands to reinforce Sym?) Of course, she still is unwilling at this point to lead the Druid Council when she goes to fight in the Shield Lands. So this probably means Jet stepping down from Grand Druid. (Bye, bye, 1 MILLION, 4 HUNDRED 54 THOUSAND experience points.) (Of course, she may learn something in the Tower that makes her willing to lead the Druid Council to war. Scary thought!)

Also, Jet sees the Iuz Bane being reassembled to go into the Tower. That makes her wonder about asking Sym to come with us. (Vernard may have some objections. At this point, the NPC load is getting really, really heavy. Also, which Sym would we bring? His spirit has been split into several parts.)

More later,
Jeanette

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Ruins of Castle Greyhawk Part 1

Okay, quick summary.

Ground Zero decides to go to the location near Castle Greyhawk indicated during Beodar’s divination. Beodar divines again, and learns that the information came from Boccob. Beodar also learns “The Circle is broken. It must be restored.” and “Your other half holds answers.”

Anatoli casts Dream, and dreams of Castle Greyhawk. He sees someone who looks like a younger, darker Ravel Desander, playing with a Ruby Skull, and wanting the key to open it. The dream character asks Anatoli if he will find the key. Anatoli dreams of a pyramid-headed headed key with 8 bits. (Hey, I looked it on Google. That style key is called a skeleton key, and the protruding parts are called teeth or bits.)

When Anatoli relates the dream to the rest of us, Jet is reminded of an artifact known as the Obsidian Key. Created by the God of Portals (whose name is Dor, go figure), the Obsidian Key reputedly can open any lock. Boccob is supposed to hold the Obsidian Key himself, and is rumored to be able to create minor copies of the key (called Shards) which last for a limited amount of time.

Then Anatoli wanders off into the druid’s grove (leaving his clothes and dignity — what dignity? — behind) where he meets a gnome playing Dragon Chess. The fellow introduces himself as Uncle Grezayne. Grezayne says the “Dream” was blocked, and he was asked to deliver a message. Anatoli needs to learn to play Dragon Chess. (Brief summary: the board has 3 levels, different pieces have different powers, there are multiple winning conditions, and different rules hold for players with different skill levels.) He gives Anatoli a Beginner’s Guide to Dragon Chess. He tells Anatoli that the person who holds the key plays Dragon Chess although he doesn’t know it. Anatoli’s answers are in the forgotten part of his life (Anatoli thinks of the Focus, and of the explosion at Dorakaa that sent us to the Abyss, where we made a deal with Dispater tp return.) Grezayne says not to forget those who brought him where he is.

Anatoli turns away and when he looks back, Grezayne is gone and the Dragon Chess set is packed to go. He brings the book and chess set back to Caer Laforce. There he reads the book. It is written in gnomish by Zagyg, and describes the history of dragon chess. It is signed “to my newest student of dragon chess.” In the book are references to other volumes in the set.

(Note: Zagyg is the name of the god of magic, and the insane archmage who founded Greyhawk and build Castle Greyhawk. It is rumored that even though Zagyg the god is older than Zagyg the mage, they are the same person because the mage mastered time travel.)

We travel to a spot near Castle Greyhawk. A party of clerics of Boccob guard the entrance to the main tower of Castle Greyhawk – Tower of Zagyg. The other two towers are called Tower of War and Tower of Magic. The leader of the clerics wears both the symbol of Boccob and of Zagyg. He is called “Grandfather Magic” and he looks like the guy in Anatoli’s dream, and he is looney. He says he was told to guard the tower until he was brought the key to open the Ruby Skull. He brings us to his tent, where he offers us tea. Anatoli notices that his collection of tea pots is arranged in a formation resembling a dragon chess game. Grandfather Magic mentions a dragon chess player at the adventurers hall in Greyhawk who he thought had information about the key. The guy would not talk to him because he did not play dragon chess.

We decide to go to Greyhawk to talk to the chess player. When we get there, we are given a hero’s welcome by the owner of the club, Ricard Demaris. We laugh and drink and tell stories of our adventurers. We talk to Captain Galanz. We learn that the Circle of Eight was broken when Rary was caught trying to booby trap the hall where the treaty to end the Iuz War was to be signed. Ottiluke, Bigby, and Tenser were killed. (Otiluke was killed permanently, because Robilar had made arrangement to destroy any clones of his that were set to be created.)

Anatoli discovers that Captain Galanz is really Robilar under an illusion.

Anatoli engages the dragon chess player, Kalek, in a series of games and conversation. Kalek is in town in order to try to get access to the books of Zagyg on Dragon Chess. Anatoli shows the “chess” position from the teapots in Grandfather Magic’s Tent. Kalek identifies it as the Twin Bishop strategy, where a doppelganger clones a bishop and goes to hell taking the clone with him. The original bishop on earth summons a celestial to earth, and the bishop in hell then summons it to hell, clearing the hell level. The gambit is rarely played, because it is massively destructive, so only desperate people who expect to lose play it, but it has to be set up almost from the beginning of the game.

Eljay shows up and joins the party.

Maximus get hit on by a Rhenne woman, Amalia Mezaros, who is being watched by three Rhenne guards. They leave for some privacy, but are followed by the three guards. Amalia asks him to help her lose the guards, so they duck and run. The guards keep up, so Maximus tells Amalia he does not need the drama, and returns to the bar.

After several hours, Shaitan, Shalimar, and several other show up. Maximus grapples with Shaitan after his weapons have no effect. Eljay, Jet, and Anatoli are all killed by Energy Bolts (Shalimar seems to be under the effect of Tempus Fugit). Anatoli’s last act, Reveal Truth, shows that the villains were actually under an illusion, and we see there real faces. Beodar Waypoints us back to Caer Laforce. Jet and Eljay are brought back by Death’s Door, followed by Heals. Anatoli is being regenerated by his ring. We scry the Adventurer’s hall, and see the villains interrogating Ricard. We use Kodagnome to get pictures of their faces. We buff and go back, but the villains are already gone. We heal the bleeding Ricard.

Eljay, Aldebaran, and Anatoli go to the Magic Users Guild to research the Obsidian Key. Zagyg supposedly had a Shard of the Obsidian Key in his study at the top of the Magic Users Guild. Only archmages are allowed to attempt entry (there is some kind of test). Aldebaran drops a note to Tensor, who comes and gives them authorization to attempt entry.

Maximus stays at the bar, and the Rhenne woman, Amalia comes back. He shows her the pictures of the villains, and she recognizes them as people who do business with her husband, Janos Mezaros, Rhenne lord of 11 barges. He encourages her to spy on them the next time they visit her husband, under the pretext of playing music. He gives her some money.

Jet visits Adreanna at the Temple of Boccob. Adreanna is distraught, so Jet takes her for a drink at the World Serpent’s Inn. Adreanna becomes more distraught, as she apparently sees the patrons as they really are. Jet then looks for Boccob’s table and takes Adreanna over there. Adreanna apparently can’t recognize Boccob though. After food and drink, Adreanna calms down. Adreanna asks Jet why she cares. Jet explains her philosophy of balance, her need to preserve the circle, and that love is one of the powers that holds everything together. Then Boccob asks Adreanna why she cares, and she says learning is the point of life. Reinvigorated, Adreanna goes back to the temple, and Jet goes to settle her bill with Mitchifer. Mitchifer says he will take care of it for her, since we had done him a favor recently.

Maximus does some reconnaissance near the docks. A lady elven thief named Tirra offers him knowledge of the Obsidian Key’s location in Zagyg’s study, in exchange for a brass monkey in Zagyg’s study. He says he will relay the offer to us. She gives him a marked arrow. He can attach his answer to it, and leave the arrow at any of the shops in Grayhawk.

Anatoli goes over to the chess player, Kalek.

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Unified Theory of Evil

“The Unified Theory of Evil” — that was a phrase that really captured my attention.

Jet also believes that many of the recent events are connected. Many of the out-of-game things Jet has been up to, have been directed at trying to find out who/what is behind all of this. To Jerry’s list, let me add
1) “the fight between the Boneheart and Iuz Bane”. None of us were planning that, and none of them (boneheart) seemed to be planning it — but someone sure tried hard to make it happen.
2) “the divination of Boccob’s priestess” which suggested a connection between Shaitan (connection to Hextor), and Mindbender (connection to Boneheart and Iuz)
3) “possessed people”, possessed by MEDIUM level priests of Iuz whose bodies were stored in a city historically controlled by the Scarlet Brotherhood – who were devil worshippers. (Although the city recently came under the political control of the Lands of Iuz, Jet thinks the influence of the Scarlet Brotherhood is probably strongest there.)
4) “the treaty banning the Iuz Bane from the lands ceeded therein to Iuz” – this weird treaty provision makes no sense. Why would the “good lands” (Furyondy, Geoff, etc.) agree to go to war if we went in? Why would the “bad lands” care? After all, at that point when the treaty was signed, we were theoretically dead from the attempted destruction of the Codex of Infinite Planes and the number of retributive strikes from mages breaking staves.

Anyway, Jet suspects a conspiracy. Here are the players she suspects.

1) She thinks Orcus himself is behind the whole weird-stuff-happens-when-we-die. (Orcus is aggravated because we have poked into his “turn all the leveled people in Aerdy into undead” plot – notice I did not say stop his plan or disrupt his plan or even slow his plan down).
2) She thinks the Horned Society is directly behind goad-Iuz-Bane-into-a-fight-with-the-Boneheart. (She thinks the Horned Society wants to weaken the Lands of Iuz, to regain their control over their own lands.)
3) She thinks Shaitan (patron diety Hextor) and Mindbender (patron diety Iuz) are conspiring to get us killed (Shaitan wants revenge for his brother, Mindbender is making a power play). She thinks these two are the focal points in the stew (sewer?) of plots swirling around us. She thinks these two connected when Mindbender noticed somebody high-level and unencumbered with other plans our guts. These two then seeded/fomented/abetted the rest of the stuff. This is Jet’s Unified Theory of Evil.

At this point, Jet wants to follow the lead from Lyra Nevasere. When a deity who is positively inclined towards us takes control of a divination and tells us “Go here”, Jet thinks going there is a good idea. Seriously.

So, I have used my allotment of punctuation for the rest of the month. Until I get another shipment of quotation marks and dashes, this will be all. Later,
jeanette

Well, since Jordy sent me some !’s and some -, I will say a few more things.

THIS IS WHAT JET THINKS IS GOING ON. (this is all supposition, based on inference and indirect evidence.)

Jet believes that several gods are truly pissed at us. On that list is Orcus, Iuz, Hextor, and Lolth. (well, okay, Lolth primarily hates Aldebaran, and probably is indifferent to the rest of us.) Hextor and Orcus are connected through a pact they made four generations ago with Ivid the First’s father to give Aerdy domination over the continent of Greyhawk.

Although these gods would gleefully subject us to unending agony, they mostly can’t interfere directly. However, they can encourage their followers to work against us.

So, assume for a minute that Mindbender (an ambitious genius, with skillz in plotting, skullduggery, deceit and manipulation) sees damaging us as a way to gain favor with his god and temporal power in the Lands of Iuz. However, for maximum benefit, we have to be actively doing something against the Lands of Iuz. As a side benefit, we could be manipulated into taking out some of Mindbender’s competition for power and prestige in the Lands.

So, Mindbender arranges for our inclusion in the treaty, as “persons banned from the ceded lands”. He assumes we will get mad, go rushing in, kill off some of his competition, but be ultimately defeated by Mindbender.

However, the Archdruid does NOT want to get pulled into a political struggle. In her mind, it would be like the Pope leading the Swiss Guard into the fighting in East Timor. (Actually, there are multiple points of similarity in this analogy.) Political struggles are NOT what the Archdruid is willing to do, because she is the leader of the Druid Council. As a 14th level druid or as a 1st level hierophant, Jet would be willing. But not while she heads the council. She would voluntarily step down to 14th level (yes, losing the million and a half experience points) before she would lead the Council to war on a non-druidic issue. (Umm, Vernard, turning the Kingdom of Aerdy into a land ruled by undead with no druids allowed in came VERY close to being a druidic issue that Jet would lead the Council to war over. She is still debating.)

Okay, back to Mindbender. So, Mindbender’s plot does not work out as he originally planned. Too bad, but he has hundreds of plots going on at any point in time. So what?

A year or so later, Mindbender (who keeps surveillance on all his enemies) notices that we made a permanent enemy out of Shaitan by permanently killing his brother (a priest of Hextor). At this point, Shaitan is leading (an? the?) army of Ivid IV. His failure to track us down and kill us leads to him being stripped of his command. Now, he and his high-level companions have NOTHING better to do than dedicate their lives to our destruction.

Mindbender starts talking to Shaitan. Consider the plot about Kym’s death, rebirth as psychic siamese twins with Althea and the clear evidence of Orcus, Iuz, and Hextor working together. This plot was way too complicated, subtle, and indirect to have originated in the mind of the hack-and-slash (thanks, Jordy for the dashes) general who had relied for twenty years on his priest brother for strategy.

Having developed a working relationship with Shaitan, Mindbender then reactivates his old plan of luring us into an attack on the Lands of Iuz. (See my previous email.) Iuz, Orcus, and Hextor reach out to Lolth, for a little more support, given her well-known hatred of Aldebaran. The gods just want us destroyed, but don’t see a direct path to it. Mindbender wants to use our destruction to also enhance his plans in the lands – which is why we are not already dead.

So, that is the connection that Jet suspects — a high-level coalition between evil gods, and a lower-level coalition between evil npcs.

See you guys tomorrow for the run on Castle Greyhawk.
Jeanette

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