Ground Zero

Empress to the Orc Nation! or not.

Prologue: Encounter with the Hooded Ones

We are at the World Serpent’s Inn. Maxximus is returning to our table after a visit with Struva. In front of him are a bunch of 5 of Tharziduun’s khelmane and a 6th person hidden in a hood. Maxximus feels a faint awareness that there is someone nearby — like the “buzz” in Highlander.

The five khelmane and the hooded guy sit at a table. An adventuring group lead by a cleric of Pholtus head toward that table. The cleric tells the khelmane to leave. Strega, the former Valkyrie who now runs the bar, warns everyone that fighting is not permitted in. The cleric
pulls the hood back from the hooded guy and then stumbles back in horror. The now unhooded man says “You will never sleep again.” and rehoods himself. The Pholtus cleric’s group leaves the bar area. Then a hooded female shows up in the bar and the khelmane and the hooded man leave with her.

As a bit of background: Only gods originally ascended from the Prime Material Plane can have their holy warriors (khelmane) show up on the Prime Material Plane. At least that was true when Fate was living in the World Serpent Inn. Who knows if that is true now? The gods we
know of that ascended from the Prime include Iuz, Sym, Hexus and various members of the Company of Seven such as Zagig, Keoghtom, Murlynd, Nolzur, Tasha/Iggwilv, Quaal, and Heward.

The Orcish Empire:

When Maxximus and Samshee investigated the Pomarj before, they found that Turosh Mak (a half orc) was having astonishing, unprecedented success uniting the tribes of orcs and half orcs and other humanoids. Turosh Mam’s two lieutenants are G’nort (half orc, half hill giant)
and G’rowl (half orc, half gnoll). The priests that surround Turosh Mac are priests of Lugrash. In the orcish pantheon, Grummsh is the chief and Lugrash is Grummsh’s strategist.

We ask Vijay what he might know about Samshee and her history that might explain why she had khelmane chasing her on the Prime Material Plane. Vijay thinks that Turosh Mak is Samshee’s father. Someone learned this fact and was trying to capture Samshee to use in a plot involving Turosh Mak.

Samshee thinks she can do best by revealing her kinship directly to Turosh Mak and the fact that someone was trying to capture her probably to use her against him. We think we might be able to get an audience with Turosh Mak by impersonating a hogoblin leader. We go to
Highport, near the Pomarj, and Anatoli makes us look like a hobgoblin caravan. We ride into hobgoblin territory with a wagon of beer laced with a mild sleep poison. We make our way to the camp of Ulan, and give out “free samples” of the beer we are trying to sell. The hobgoblins have a party. Maxximus has fun drinking and wenching. Some fall asleep from the beer. Aldeberon’s Sleep spell takes out some more. Samshee’s sap knocks out Ulan, the leader of this group. We pop the 12 highest ranked members of the group into Anatoli’s bag
(Bucknard’s Purse). Aldeberon Shapechanges into Ulan, and we walk out, looking like Ulan and his lieutenants. He tells anyone who asks that he is going for more beer and he will be back when he is ready.

Jet takes a Malta’s Carpet and Walks Through Trees to get near Turosh Mak’s court. The rest of the party Malta to join her. Anatoli makes us look like the 12 highest ranked members of Ulan’s clan. Al, of course, still looks like Ulan. We make our way into camp and G’rowl eventually finds us and asks our business. Al says we are there to discuss an alliance with Turosh Mac. G’rowl will only let a “few” of us in. Anatoli stays out in the outer area to maintain the illusion of the large entourage. The rest of us go in.

Al (as Ulan) negotiates a treaty with Turosh Mac – Turosh’s support against the other hobgoblins and recognition of Ulan’s territory as covering all territory held by other hobgoblins in exchange for Ulan’s support in Turosh’s campaigns. Ulan also agrees to pay taxes.

When the agreement is reached, Al gets close enough to whisper to Turosh that he has a secret to share. Turosh and Al and Samshee and G’rowl go into a private room and Al reveals that Samshee is Turosh’s daughter. Turosh is impressed because he knows Al is not Ulan, and he thinks Samshee manipulated Al into setting this up. Samshee describes the khelmane who were chasing her in Greyhawk. Turosh identifies the symbol on those khelmane as Clabash, a tribal insignia of orcs loyal to Sym. Turosh suggests that Samshee publically announce her lineage in front of the orcs. That would give her the protection of his name.
He also suggests that she could stay there and spend time with her people.

Back in the main room, Maxximus gets into a brawl with 15 or so orcs. He easily defeats them and goes back to drinking and wenching.

Turosh sends Al back out to the main room to have some private time with Samshee. He congratulates Samshee on her successful manipulation of “Ulan”. He knows that the real Ulan would never have dared to come here after sending Turosh’s envoys back with their eyes gouged out. Turosh offers Samshee a bone necklace with the symbol of House Mak. He
promises to tell his agents to leave Samshee alone.

Turosh offers us the hospitality of his camp. We go to a tent. Anatoli checks the bone necklace with True Sight. It appears to be a holy item of Grummsh.

Al uses Shapechange to investigate the camp as dog, orc, bat, and invisible stalker. He sees nothing unusual except Turosh’s magic spear.

Maxximus also takes a look around. His Detect Magic reveals that all twelve of Turosh’s generals have some kind of magic effect. Also, the generals’ tents all have some magic wards. G’rowl’s tent has a much stronger ward than the generals – the ward of a 9th level cleric.
Talking to the generals, Maxximus finds that each general was defeated by Turosh using a magic spear. The wound that each got from that spear has never healed.

Jet tries Commune with Nature. Nature asks permission to establish an orcish druid, since no other race stays in the area. Jet remembers her own long-ago decision to expel the orcs from her after Sym’s death directly from Grummsh’s hands. She decides she should demonstrate
that she does accept the orcs now as fully equal to the other sentient races and agrees to permit orcish druids.

Turosh invites Samshee back to his tent to discuss family matters. Jet tells Samshee that she will keep a surreptitious (shape-changed) eye on their meeting as a safety net to ensure nothing happens against Samshee’s will. Samshee goes over to Turosh’s tent. He pours her
some wine, pays her somecompliments. She asks about his spear. He says is is the Tear of Grummsh. It formed when Grummsh’s eye was destroyed by Corellon. It will kill any elf it touches. He says he also has another spear, which he hints is kept hidden by his brothers.
She asks how he came to be so powerful. He cuts his palm with a stone knife and drips his blood into a goblet. He adds some wine and offers her the blood-laced drink. He tells her it is addictive. She drinks. She does not remember what happens next.

When she wakes up a few hours later, she is naked and euphoric. She has a few cuts and bites. Turosh is sitting some distance away, clothed, staring at her. He says he is impressed by her strength and resiliency. He offers her a 1000 orcs bowing down. She says she is
not excited by that. He asks her what she wants and she feels some pressure in her head. He invites her to stay in his camp until she figures out what she wants. He says that the blood drink proved she was of the blood of the tribe Mac, since she did not die. He knows
she is not his daughter, because the pull is too strong. However, he thinks this is an advantage.

Samshee asks Turosh Mac for more of his blood to feed her wailing club. He leaves her a small vial of blood and tells her to talk to G’rowl who would be delighted to bless and seal her club.

She goes to visit G’rowl to ask for help with her club. G’rowl says she needs a high priest of Grummsh, and he is not a high priest of Grummsh. He still has both eyes, even though he wears an eyepatch that he pulls down to examine the club.

G’rowl tells G’nort that Samshee is family. G’nort hugs her. G’rowl promises to find her a high priest of Grummsh.

Samshee rejoins our group. Jet reports on what happened while she spied on the meeting of Samshee and Turosh. After drinking the blood, Samshee’s eyes turned red black and she attacked him ferociously with feet and teeth. He defended himself. She then kissed him and started to take her clothes off. He started to move toward the bed. She collapsed unconscious. After a little while, she woke up and attacked him again. Again he defended. Again, she kissed him. He started to respond and she went unconscious again. This happened one more time. He seemed to be waiting for something dramatic to happen, but it
didn’t. Its worth nothing that during their encounter Samshee bit Turosh’s right arm deeply enough to leave a wou**nd. She also at some point bit her own arm. She was slightly bezerk at times.

We head out. We drop the hobgoblins back at their own camp. Samshee put a couple of drops of Turosh’s blood on her club. A blood line forms. She talks to Fuqua (Sym’s orc shaman) and he senses something different about her. He tells her to keep her club nearby because she is now irresistable to orcs. He thinks a priest blessed her. She tells him about drinking Turosh’s blood. He tells her this is an orcish ritual to share the power in the blood. He also tells her that if she gets a priest to bless her club, she should afterwards bash
that priests head in. She gives her club to Fuqua and he chants over it. She thinks the club now feels good in her hands. He says he has to do some research, but he thinks he could seal the club, but it would be slower than if a priest of Grummsh did it.

Tharzidun Has Arisen:

Maxximus notices his Cold Obsidian rods need recharging from Tharzidun’s Obelisk. He last charged them at the Obelisk at the tom of Maxximilian Thornblade’s Mother, Ehlyssa Ironblade. We go there to find an encampment of khelmane around the Obelisk. The khelmane have apparently disassembled Alyssa’s house and used the parts to build the camp.

The khelmane explain that Tharzidun awoke a few months ago. He has risen to establish the balance. They explain that Tharzidun has been misunderstood because he originally allied with evil powers to take out the good powers who were ascendant. When evil became in
ascendence, he started taking out evil powers. All he wanted to do was just maintain the balance.

Jet suspects that the time of the awakening of all these old sleeping god corresponds to Fate leaving the World Serpent Inn.

Maxximus goes into the room with the Obelisk. It is very cold, so he puts on his robes from Tharzidun’s temple. He touches his rods to the Obelisk and they are recharged. He kneels and meditates on the words of the priests. The supplicants around the obelisk are praying and he recognizes that all the worshipers have an overpowering hatred of something and want redress for the injustice that they have suffered. All worshipers have a rod of Cold Obsidian in front of them, but none of the rods are charged. In one corner, a diaper-clad old man in a huge metal horned helmet mumbles that the dark lord has returned. Dark incense is being burned in this room.

A priest tells us that Ehlyssa Ironblade’s grave has been moved. We know that Alyssa Ironblade had one son (Maximilien B. Thornblade) by her elven lover (Gideon Oakthorn) and another son (Oyo) by her human lover (Malachi). Malachi was a priest of Tharzidun, who sacrified Oyo to attempt to resurrect Tharzidun. Alyssa now has a massive mausoleum decorated with Alyssa’s art and filled with the smoke of more dark incense. The inscription on her tomb now reads, “Here lies the Holy Mother, Alyssa Ironblade, who bore both sons of Tharzidun.” Maxximus feels that the tomb is warm in the otherwise freezing mausoleum.

A hooded priest shows up. He gives Maxx the same “buzz” of awareness as the hooded guy in the World Serpent Inn. He lifts his hood. It is Antarcus, the anti-ranger whose previous appears drove Maxximus to homicidal fury. Now, Maxximus does not feel that rage. Antarcus greets Maxximus pleasantly. Maxximus asks Antarcus for his story. Antarcus says he lost his goddess’ favor because he murdered a man to get that man’s wife. Antarcus’ goddess (Beory) refused to allow Antarcus to atone. Antarcus no longer hates other rangers. Now he hates Beory. When Tharzidun manifests, Tharzidun will teach Antarcus (and the other knights of the Asitheri) how to kill gods. Tharzidun will have justice for his millenia of imprisonment. (Note: The foes of the Asitheri are the J’dai. Yes, gentle readers, this is a Sith vs Jedi grudge match.)

We head back to the World Serpent’s Inn. We take a look at the wall of gods. In the area of the sleeping gods, Tharzidun’s “picture” has disappeared. In a different area, a new unlabeled picture of a faceless swordsman has appeared.

Eight khelmane have a table in the Inn. On the table is more burning dark incense. Samshee goes over there, and at first feels the cold. However, one of the khelmane says she is balanced, and the cold sensation disappears. Samshee sits and talks to them for a long time.
Jet is astonished because khelmane have never before had personalities, individualized appearances, or casual conversations. Jet finds this to be beyond strange.

The Meta Magic Staff

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, Al was using the Metamagic Staff to cast 9th level spells as 8th level spells. Using the staff to cast the a spell as a lower level spell took three charges. Casting any spell into the staff charged the staff with the number of charges equal to the level of the spell. By Jet’s calculation, this meant three first level Light Spells would allow Al to cast the 9th level spell Wish which he could not cast before. Because of this power imbalance, Jet thinks the staff must therefore be receiving its power from some external force. Since it was a key component in an Infernal Engine, Jet thinks it is probably connected to an Abyssal Power. ( Either that or we are still trapped inside Aldeberon’s mind )

We are sitting in the Adventurers’ Guild bar, when Al receives a telepathic message from his Simulacrum in Questor. “There is a
problem.” His Simulacrums are dissolving into snow melt. We use our Sanctuary badges and tattoos to get to Questor. The sky is dark and there is a necrotic chill in the air. Large undead of many different types (some level-draining) are everywhere. Everyone there looks shadowy like on the Plane of Shadow, but we glow. We take damage every round. Jet feels disconnected from all planes and believes she will go incurably insane in 10 rounds.

Round 1: Al’s Metamagic Staff throbs as if about to overload. He casts Orion’s Missile using the staff to eliminate casting time and feels a sense of release. (What! The! Heck! is up with that? The staff automatically charges on Negative Material energy? Warning! Warning!) Maxximus destroys undead with his Cold Obsidian Maces. Anatoli’s True Sight reveals that we are on a brand new demiplane. The center of the new plane is inside Al’s tower. The demiplane is one of undeath, where the monsters have 10 times their normal hit points. Jet brings up a Wall of Fire.

Round 2: Combat occurs. We think that the people originally at the the keep have been converted to undead. Anatoli pulls out a portrait of Al’s wedding.

Round 3: We all walk through the portrait. Inside the portrait, an imaginary wedding of Al and Crysania is taking place. Anatoli
receives a Kodagnome of the wedding from a younger version of himself. We walk out into Crysania’s study, where the matching portrait is hung. Jet’s Wall of Fire is now a fiery halo over her head.

Round 4: Ice Demons attack. Possibly they are the undead form of Al’s Simulacrums. Maxximus’ Cold Obsidian Maces and Jet’s fiery halo take them out.

Round 5: We rush to the top floor. There is a demi lich with his hands around Crysanian’s throat. The demilich says, “I want to see who was playing with my things.” Anatoli with his True Sight can see that there are five gems in a pouch around the demilich’s neck. Four gems are the ones needed to recharge the Metamagic Staff. The 5th gem appears to be the demilich’s soul gem.

Round 6: Anatoli uses Nolzur’s Pigments and his True Sight to create an exact replica of the demilich’s soul gem. Anatoli then holds the fake gem up and says, “You have something we want. We have something you want.” The demilich reflexively reaches for the gem in his pouch, releasing his hold on Crysania.

Round 7: Samshee pushes Crysania out of the way. Maxximus uses his maces and Jet throws her fire halo and the lich’s skull explodes.

Round 8: Anatoli grabs the soul gem out of the pouch and uses Codex Killer on it. It was the focus of the creation of this demiplane, so it causes the bubble of undeath energy to pop. Jet feels her connection to the other planes restored. Yeah!

Anatoli summons Tarl (Class 6 emergency) to come deal with all the undead running around Questor. Al and Tarl look at the “fake” soul gem and see that it now contains the soul of the demilich. Tarl and Crysania ritually destroy the original soul gem and the “fake” soul gem. Al Disintegrates the dust. Jet uses a spell to lay the soul to rest.

We head to the College of Rel Astra and Lo Rel Tarma to find a sage or two on sleeping gods (Wotan’s awakening raises some questions in our minds), the Ace of Spades (the previous owner of the Metamagic Staff) and the Plane of Undeath.

Maxximus visits the Martial College to investigate an odd triangular scar. They tell him a triangle of bone was cut out of his skull, and then re-inserted. The meticulous work suggests elven craftsmanship. They speculate that the drow did it and that it potentially explains his extreme violence and hatred of drow. It would be part of the process of turning him into a perfect weapon against other drow.

Another sage tells Anatoli that his dagger, Codex Killer, is actually the tooth of a Tarasque. It was taken by some member of the Company of Seven and fashioned into a holdout blade. Since then it has been regenerating. It is already a large dagger.

Jet gets a list of some notable sleeping gods. Wotan (Norse, father of Odin), Cronus (Greek Titan, father of Zeus), Yung Lao (Chinese, predecessor of the current Jade Emperor), Gilgamesh (Babylonian, poisoned by Tiamat), Bryn Warr (Celtic, follower of Morrigan), Madrirappa (Indian, opposed the Trinity of Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva), Mikko (Finnish, gave other gods their aspects) and Cthulu.

The sages consider the Plane of Undeath to be a theoretical idea. It would need a Power, and the sages suggested Vecna or one of his acolytes.

Next Jet asks us to continue to look for Beodar’s most recent incarnation. Anatoli decides to Dream a path. He wants to use one of Max’s Carpets (Malta’s Pattern for Dyvers) and something from Beodar’s keep in Sanctuary.

We go to Beodar’s keep and find it furnished inside with sumptuous elven treasures. It is being maintained by six elven shield maidens (Beory, Elanwy, Oreanna, Deanna, Ayenna, Rhianna). This keep includes a temple of Corellon and a room with the Cavalier’s sword and shield to be used in defense of the elven lands. In the room with the sword and shield, Anatoli’s True Sight reveals someone whose touch leaves a visible signature has been touching the sword and shield within the
last month. There is also an extraordinary library of all the books an Elven Cavalier would need. The same prints are found in Beodar’s library, especially on a book on Elven bards. There are no elven bards as far as we know. We check out Beodar’s bedroom in the basement (straw pallet, niche shrine to Lyra Nevasere with a lock of red hair). Someone with red hair has been sleeping on that pallet.

We also check out the Honeymoon Suite. Someone small with red hair has been sleeping above the covers in that room as well. In the Temple of Corellon, there is a stack of chants written in Common that do not have a recognizable rhyme or meter. The brazier in front of the statue of Corellon (in his Redeemer aspect) is filled with ash. Al translates the top chant to Elvish (it rhymes) and then burns the parchment containing the chant in the brazier. To Aldeberon only, the statue of Corellon briefly appears to change and say “no”.

Jet tries a Sensitivity to Psychic Impression on a chant. She sees a long haired man being taught by the shield maidens. She tries again in the honeymoon suite, and sees the Queen of Selene, except the woman has red hair.

Anatoli Dreams, wrapped in the Malta’s Carpet, and sleeping on Beodar’s pallet. He wakes up and wanders into the kitchen to get some warm milk. The shield maidens refer to him as “My lord.” A mirror shows that he looks like a long-haired human man. He wanders into the library and finds notes about a traditional bardic journey. In the Honeymoon Suite, he sees the sleeping Queen of Selene with red hair.

He wakes her and she says, “I knew you would return.” She goes back to sleep. Anatoli turns around and sees Max’s brother Oyo (who we know is dead). Oyo says, “Why do YOU get to cheat death?”

The next morning we talk about it. We think the long haired guy looks like Vijay, except about 20 years younger We visit Vijay in New Critwall. We show him the picture and one of the chants and tell him about Max and Beodar and Jet’s vision and Anatoli’s Dream. Maxximus hoods Vijay and we take him to Sanctuary into Beodar’s keep. The shield maidens recognize Vijay as their lord, and present themselves to him by name and aspect, to serve him.

Anatoli casts True Sight and reveals Vijay as a 96 year old human bard, 22nd level. His name if Valifenor Jolen. He uses Druidic Shape Change to look different ages. He is the Grand Master of the bardic college MacFurmidh

Vijay says Samshee’s father is Sym’s half-brother, Turrosh Mak. Golgoth Mak was blessed by Grummsh with long life and fertility. Every woman Golgoth Mak had sex with had his baby. Golgoth was the father of Sym and Turrosh Mak.

Vijay asks what he can do to assist Ground Zero? Maxximus shows Vijay his scar. Vijay says Maxximus was a made into a Living Weapon to be used against drow.

Al asks about getting rid of the Curse of the Codex of the Infinite Planes. Vijay says Al’s spirit is tethered to the book. He needs to research the creator of the book and its first victim – The Mad Monk Tzonk.

The Krampus

Oh my goodness, it WAS the Krampus. He is the personal “pet” of Wotan, the now sleeping father of Odin and previous All Father of The Norse Pantheon. Somehow, Wotan has been awakened and with that, the Krampus. We managed through a serious of events involving a comedy of errors or is that an error of comedies to create a new Klaus who is the other side of the coin of Krampus who has the job of successfully targeting kids for the Krampus so he only takes the bad ones and then making sure that they are returned safe after they are punished appropriately.


After dealing with the events of “Inception”. We decide to head on over to our favorite hole-in-the-wall, The Crypt, for some cheap beer and free entertainment. Upon opening the door, we immiediately recognize that there is an issue because no one yells to close the door or throws anything in our direction. After entering, it is obvious the place is mostly desserted. The arkeep, Baldrick, explains that almost everybody that is anybody is off trying to complete a quest. Apparently some kids have gone missing. A few eye witnesses say that they have been kidnapped by something called The Krampus which is a beast from Nordic lore. A priest of Freya is offering a reard. The notice is posted at the Adventurers Hall so we head over that way. once there we read the quest:

Offering 5,000 gold pieces a person for up to 5 persons who are able to locate the missing children and clear the good name of the Norse pantheon. All or\ nothing. First one successful gets the reward. We decide to investigate and \ head to visit the priest. Her name is Astrid. She explains to her that yes, it does sound like them mythical norse beast but that the beast really is just a myth and doesn’t exist. Its a story used to scare children and that is all. She thinks someone is trying to frame the norse priests and make them look bad. She gives us the location of the last few missing children and we are off.

We then remember that we know a Norse cleric and go find him. We contact Fenris, a cleric of Uller who is training some acolytes north of Greyhawk. After we gather info from him about the Krampus, he volunteers to join us on this soiree. He said that his prayers said that he should help solve this problem but that he was to wait until the mystery came to him. He thinks we
are that sign.

After a lot of investigative work in both the Artisan’s Quarter and the Thieve’s Quarter with Fenris, we managed to find some kids that have actually seen what is going on and they give us more leads. Everything seems to indicate that whomever is taking the kids, is in the sewers. We head in. We are able to track over time slow. It takes both Maximus and Fenris skills to keep the trail. We eventually find a small shrine like area with what appears to be a door. Using Fenris skills to interpret, the thieves are able to disable all the traps that were around it. We then open the door. Which appears to lead to a pocket dimension. Maybe even totally off plan. We can see large footprints leading off into deep snow. Fenris recommends that we follow so that we don’t loose the trail. After a short discussion, we head in.

Its cold. And for some of us feels very familar, like we have been here before. BUt that could just be the eerie feeling that location was exuding. In any event, we travel forward following the tracks. We noted that the tracks got larger as if the creature were getting bigger, possibly a giant class creature.

We had a random encounter. out of almost nowhere, a very large wolf. I mean GIGANTIC appeared out of the snow in front of us. Maximus only came up to the first joint in his front leg. Maximus locks eyes with him to send the message that we are predators and not prey. The creature circles us a bit and stars at Fenris and then leaves. Aftwards, Fenris seems shaken. he mentioned that he had been thinking about his namesake, The Fenris Wolf from his pantheon and wondered if he were truly real. And then the Fenris Wolf shows up! He thinks we must be careful what we think about and believe in this place because it seems to have some affect.

Eventually we start catching up to the large creature. and it is similar to a satyr the size of a fire giant. he is mostly naked below the waste and is obviously male. He has large chains woven into his hair and a large sack thrown over his shoulder and we can hear the muffles cries of children from within.

We decide parley instead of fight. We ask the Krampus to let the children go as they are not nordic. The Krampus says that they must work in the mines for their punishment for being bad. It won’t kill them. After they learn their lesson, he will let them go. We explain that he has non-norse worshipping children and they aren’t as touch and won’t survive. He ignores us. We engage. The Krampus summons harpies to help him. But they were larger than normal and much more intelligent. We remembered that most creatures in the Argardian related planes are tougher and bigger than normal and we deduce that we are somehow close to that plane. We decided the goal is to get the kids, not to fight the Krampus so while Maximus and other engage him, the thieves try to get the bag. The Krampus’s uses his hair chains to enntangle Samshee when she approaches him from behind. Anatoli cuts Samshee loose with CodexKiller but she is still engangled. Krampus also exhibits other abilities that seem to indicate that
he is a power of some sort and not something we can just kill. While engaging him we talk and he gives us info stating that his master must tell him to stop and he is just doing what his master says. He says his master is Wotan and that he and Wotan were asleep. But somehow they were awakened and that is why he is snatching kids again. We decide to go and talk to Wotan. Samshee makes sure she takes the length of Krampus chain with her.

Since Wotan is a Norse we go to the World Serpent Inn to get some info on where he is. After talking to Hilda, she tell us how to locate Wotan’s Lodge. We go there and talk to him. He insists that lots of sleeping gods are awake now. Ant that he CAN’T stop the Krampus. the Krampus can only be stopped when the Klaus shows up signifying the end of their punishment. Wotan refuses to really help us further but complains that he was sleeping well and now has an
itch that must be scratched. He tells us to go talk to his Son, Odin now. Odin is the all father and only he can summon the Klaus. Wotan also warns us that other sleeping gods are shrugging away their slumbers but that all of them would rather be asleep.

We head to Big O’s place back at the World Serpent Inn. Odin doesn’t seem too happy about us telling him that Wotan is back and he seems even less interested in helping us with the Kringle. He finally gives us a scroll and says to take that his son and have him read it and everything will ok. We then go locate Thor. Who is in the middle of a serious drinking binge. Through some fast talking, Anatoli is able to get Thor to read the scroll. which summons a Santa hat. Basically the scroll says that whoever reads it must put on the hat and become the Kringle. Thor resists. And finally after exerting all his energy to resists, Thor reaches for his hammer. At that point, Anatoli grabs the hat and slaps it on Thor’s head. A transformation happens and the new figure is a much older, slightly chubby, and much more cheerful representation called Klaus. Klaus has a sword on his back. He looks at Thor’s hammer and then tosses it into the Lost and Found and then makes a comment about it being good to be back after so long and that there was much work to do. He then leaves. Within another week, the kids all show back up safe and sound. We are rewarded by Astrid and all is well.

Be careful what you ask for.

Maximus returned from his personal errands. He comes looking for Aldebaron to help answer some questions about some missing spells of his. After doing some digging, Aldebaron discovers that a number of spells no longer seem to exist in addition to the _Wish_level magics for magic-users and illusionists. The full list is:

Magic User
1st: Unseen Servant, Shield, Tenser’s Floating Disc, Armor, Taunt
2nd: Zephyr, Rope Trick, Deeppockets, Magic Mouth, Forget
3rd: Blink, Windwall, Phantasmal Force, Material
4th: Dimension Door, Hallucinatory Terrain, Massmorph, Rary’s Mnemonic Enhancer, Wizard Eye
5th: Animate Dead, Contact other Plane, Distance distortion, Fabricate, Leomunds Secret Chest, Rock to Mud
6th: Water to Dust, AntiMagic Shell, Geas, Legend Lore, Reincarnate, Stone to Flesh
7th: Limited Wish, Statue, Simulacrum, Phase Door, Mass Invisibility, Duo Dimension
8th: Clone, Trap the Soul, Sink, Permanency, Mind Blank
9th: Wish, Astral Spell, Imprisonment, Succor, Gate

All Bigby’s Spells as well. Doesn’t appear to affect all of any other “named” spells.

1st: Gaze Reflection, Spook, Light
2nd: Whispering Wind, Misdirectin, Hypnotic Pattern
3rd: Delude, Non-detection, Continual Light
4th: Emotion, confusion, phantasmal killer
5th: Tempus Fugit, Summon Shadow, Magic Mirror
6th Phantasmagoria, Mislead, Conjure Animals
7th: Astral Spell, Weird, 1st Level Magic-Use Spells

There was no easy connection between all of them but they seemed to cross divination, resurrection, reincarnation and communication. But it wasn’t consistent across MagicUsers and Illusionists.

While we are investigating the missing spells, Angela, the person that manages the orphanage in New Critwall comes and notifies Maximus (and us) that something really crazy is going on in the Lands of Iuz. There are reports that a large physical gate (that might also be magical) has appeared in the capital city of Dorakaa. Hundreds of humanoid golems have come through and are decimating the city. The golems look familiar to us as they are identical to the ones that the doppleganger to Jet sent in a while ago. These dopplegangers were full of evil squirrels but so far the golemns that have been reported have not seemed to disgorge them. Reports say that the center of Dorakaa has fallen including the physical buildings as well. Anatoli uses the Eye of Thera to scry one of the clerks in Dorakaa that he remembers from the time we rescued Angela’s daughter from there. He confirms via scying that City Hall has been razed to the ground and all individuals inside appear to have been slain.

Other information also makes its way to us. Apparently the 8 tribes of Orcs in the Pomarj have voted Turrosh Mak to be the War Leader for a great assault on the surrounding lands.

At this point, Maximus calls “shenanigans” and says that this can’t possibly be true. Its just not possible. Orcs are Chaotic Evil, not Lawful evil. The world may be screwed up magically but there is no way that all the Orcs would change since they aren’t inherently magical in that way. Anatoli suggests that perhaps we never left Al’s head.

As we began to discuss this in earnest, one of Al’s highest level simulacrums came in and acted oddly and then collapsed and turned into a pile of snow and slush. That was odd enough and then apparently, it happened again. And again and again, the exact simulacrum did the exact same movements and the exact same motions. After doing this 5 times, it stopped. This further made us indicate that the world we were in wasn’t real.

At this point, Maximus put forth the concept that the reason we are trapped in Al’s brain is that it’s the only place that he can completely control everything and be able to cast 9th level spells. Maximus posits that if Al accepts his limitatins and that there is nothing special about him that should allow him to cast 9th level spells if no other elf can do it then they will be released. It takes a while but eventually all accepts that at least the current scenario won’t work but never quite accepts that he is just another elf like all the others. Apparently this was enough to get us out of the Ego World and back into reality. Mini, the psychic warrior that had brought Maximus into the Ego World then proceeded to remove a psyhic spike from Al’s brain. She said it was the psychic remnant of a powerful Psionic entity and was most likely what was interfering with the original surgery. The scarring that it left makes it extremely unsafe to do any more psionic surgery on Al and they are lucky to have escaped as it is.

Al still cannot cast 9th level spells. However, he has discovered that the Staff of MetaMagic that we retrieved from the Elven Graves Adventure can let him cast 9th level spells as 8th level spells at the cost of some charges from the staff of meta magic. All has also determined how to recharge the staff using the gems that were also found with it. its not obvious as yet as to where the energy is coming from.

After this was over, we did some tests to verify that we were indeed outside of Als’ brain. Once we were satisfied we decided to celebrate surviving by going to one of our favoriate bars in Greyhawk: The Crypt.

insert writeup of The Krampus here

Aldebaron's Ego Trip
Everything has a cost

When last we left our intrepid adventurers…

Samshee completed her training with Mama Zuzu to learn the Dance of the Seven Veils. Mama asked her if she would like to learn pole dancing, and Samshee said yes. Samshee has visions of opening a combination strip club, gambling den and brothel. She asked Anatoli for advice on running a business.

Al wanted the additional point of intelligence to be able to cast 9th level spells. He looked into Psychic Surgery at the Guild of the Mind (the psionicists guild). The Guild of the Mind leader asks to join the\ Mage’s Guild in exchange for doing the surgery. The Mage Guild leader(Kiren) says only mages are allowed to join the mage guild. Kiren
offers Al the name of a back alley psychic surgeon, but Al decides not to go that direction.

Anatoli uses Dream to look for a way to help Al gain his ability to cast 9th level spells using food. The next day, a gnome approaches Anatoli to give him a box. Inside the box is a prickly pear and a note in Anatoli’s handwriting. The note says take this to the Guild of the Mind. Jet identifies the prickly pear as native to the area
associated with the goddess Xinye, the psionicist goddess (sister of Xanye, the monk goddess).

Anatoli goes to the Guild of the Mind leader and shakes his hand, with the prickly pear hidden in Anatoli’s gloved hand. The spikes from the pear are poisonous, and the leader collapses. Anatoli asks for his help with Aldebaron, and the leader agrees just as he goes unconscious. Jet casts Neutralize Poison on the guild leader and he

The guild leader identifies the fruit as being from Xinye’s garden. It is sometimes given as a boon for service. He calls it the Philosopher’s Stone for psionicists. Eating it will increase psionic abilities.

Anatoli asks who Xinye’s favorite servant is. The leader directs us to the laundry lady, Ratri. Ratri is a beautiful 60 year old Indian woman. She does not accept the fruit. She offers to wash our clothes. Anatoli, Al, and Samshee get their clothes washed. Ratri says she can’t wash Jet’s clothes (which are druidic vestments).

The guild leader says that Ratri can psychically remove Al’s limitation. However, he will need his comrades to fight the part of his mind that will resist being removed. The guild leader will monitor us. He gives us each a bell, to ring when we wish to leave Al’s mind.

They prepare the prickly pear as a chutney. Each of us get some chutney and get stuck with a spine. Al also gets slammed in the head with Ratri’s laundry stick.

We wake up in Al’s mind in a room that looks like the laundry room in the basement of the Guild of the mind. We look different. Anatoli is 1 foot tall with fairie wings. Samshee is 6 feet tall with laceup boots, guilded armor, and fangs. Jet has a halo, dragon wings, and a flaming tulwar. Tarl is an earth elemental version of a dwarf. Al looks like the high priest Corellon.

We head outside. We see three towers, 1 huge (id), 1 tall (super ego) and 1 more normal (ego).

Anatoli casts Faerie Protection. Al casts Teleport No Error to go to his research laboratory. All of us (except Anatoli) end up in a Force Cage in that room. Al uses his ring to absorb the Force Cage, which does release us. The six Aldeberon Simulacrum ignore us and continue working.

We look for Al’s 9th level spellbook. It is on a shelf too high for Al to reach. Samshee pulls it down for him. The chained Codex of the Infinite Planes rattles in the corner but stays chained.

We hear knocking. Al opens the door and it is Ego-Al. He is angry that we are here. Anatoli and Jet attack the Codex. Ego-Al threatens to break his Staff of the Magi, in a retributive strike. Al casts Stun at Ego-Al. Ego-Al brings up a Prismatic Sphere. Al opens the box that Ratri said to open when he had no choice. Inside is a ring (Al’s wedding ring?). Al takes his own wedding ring off and puts the ring from Ratri’s box on.

Tarl throws his hammer at Ego-Al. Samshee throws a flour dust bomb at Ego-Al, effectively keeping him from seeing us. Anatoli backstabs the Codex with Codex Killer. Jet hits the Codex with her flaming tulwar. The Codex erupts into black tentacles. Al attacks the tentacles, and they dissolve into black goo.

Tarl wades through the Prismatic Sphere, and hits Ego-Al three times. Ego-Al had Frost Shield up, so Tarl is encased in ice. Ego-Al Teleports away (Contingency, perhaps?). The touch of Jet’s flaming tulwar causes the ice on Tarl to shatter.

Al opens his 9th level spell book. A tingle runs through him. He puts the book back on the shelves, but within reach.

Tarl casts an Augury to see if Al can now cast 9th level spells. The answer is Yes. Tarl casts Divination. We learn that in order to get the best outcome, we still need to do something in all three towers, including something additional in the current tower, and repairing something.

Al looks at his newly donned ring. It is a symbol of his devotion to Zagyg.

We head down to the courtyard. On the way, the 6 Simulacrum threaten us, but they back off when Al says he just wants to talk.

In the courtyard, we are confronted by Ego-Al, Superego-Al, and Id-Al. Al points out that they had controlled the book, not the other way around. He shows them the ring of Zagyg. Al says all three of them are needed to become a full mage. Ego-Al tells Al there is always a price and the three (Ego, Superego, and Id) disappear.

The large tower becomes smaller and the more fantastic tower becomes more realistic and crisp.

We return to reality. Al is unconcious. We revive him. Anatoli tries True Sight. Al is covered with black tentacles. Ratri breaks open the seed of the prickly pear and blows the dust across the tentacles. The tentacles disappear.

Anatoli sees the Codex of Infinite Planes under Al’s bed. His True Sight tells him that the number of “read” pages is counting down from 7. He waits until the number is 1, and starts to stab the book again. Ratri holds him back until the count reaches 0. Then Anatoli stabs the book. Tentacles erupt. Ratri tells the tentacles to shush, and they
go away.

We go back to Haven to get a good night’s sleep. Al dreams that he wakes up in bed with his Ego, Superego and Id. His Ego reminds him that there is always a price. When he finally wakes up, he heads to the beach and tries to cast a 9th level spell – Shape Change. He is successful.

The black soul of Tsunk, the Mad Monk, and the first reader of the Codex, shows up to warn us that we have gained the attention of interesting people.

Al checks his spellbooks. Three books have a trace of black slime on them. When he checks those books, he sees three spells have been replaced. 9th level Wish has been replaced with Temporal Stasis. 7th level Limited Wish has been replaced by Vanish. 1st level Unseen Servant has been replaced with Jump.

Al goes to the Temple of Corellon in Celene and makes a donation. He also goes to the Shrine of Hana-li in Questor to make a thank offering.

Then we head to the World Serpent Inn. Anatoli pins a Kodagnome picture of himself and the black goo of the destroyed Codex on the shadow box which represented the Codex.

Al uses a Sending spell to send a message to Mitchifer, “The bar has new management. Please come home.”

That night, Jet dreams that a squirrel in her druid’s grove asks her, “Where is the third one? Max was the first. Beyodar was the second. Where is the third?”

In the morning we head to the Loom of Fate room in the World Serpent’s Inn where the Infernal Device was. Al casts Temporal Stasis on the Infernal Device. The device stops working and we stop being able to move. We can talk to each other over the link, but nothing else. After a while the loom starts working again and we start being able to move.

Al scouts out the inside of the Infernal Device using Wizard Eye. He locates the center control area about 130 feet in. Jet goes in. When she gets to the center, Anatoli Shadow Moles her a Delayed Blast Fireball (cast by Aldeberon). Jet drops the DBF and some FireSeeds and heads out at full speed as a hummingbird. Anatoli also sends in 7
barrels of Holy Water.

Jet is not quite out of the device when she is trapped. She goes Ethereal and finds the skeleton of the Infernal Device on the near Ethereal. She tells the group over the link and Tarl Plane Shifts to her. They head for the center of the device on the Ethereal. The DBF goes off, setting off the Fire Seeds and Holy Water. Tarl takes out the skeleton sitting in the center of the device on the Ethereal with his hammer. Jet uses Lightning Strike from her staff to take out the beating heart attached to the sitting skeleton. Type IV demons start showing up.

Jet Plane Shifts herself and Tarl to the Plane of Earth. Then she Summons Rockon (the elemental assigned to her by Stonedar). Rockon arrives just as Type IV demons start to appear. Tarl uses a Dispel to break the connection between our previous location and current location. Rockon takes out the two Type IV demons.

Back in the World Serpent’s Inn, Aldeberon puts a Wall of Stone up to seal off the Loom of Fate room from the rest of the inn.

Jet tells the rest of the group about her dream, and asks the group to\ go with her to collect 20 different sticks from places meaningful to Max and Beodar. (Dyvers, Greyhawk – Jebediah’s house, Celene, Jet’s original grove, Max’s mother’s home, etc.) She wants to make Ogham rune sticks (each rune is associated with a different tree, so she
needs a stick from each of those types of trees). She locates a Celtic diviner, and they work together to create the rune sticks and divining cloth. We focus on the question, “Where should be look for the third incarnation of Max?” We get the answer, New Critwall.

Tarl asks to go first to the graveyard where Beodar was buried. He tries to Speak with Dead with Beodar and gets nothing. He tries to Resurrect Beodar, and gets nothing.

We head to New Critwall. We announce a huge party (free beer, free food – food supplied by Anatoli) at the Adventurers’ Bar to remember our absent comrades. We post the portrait of Max’s mother (Alyssa IronBlade) and Jet wears the dagger which was the symbol of Alyssa’s house. We spend 12 hours telling the stories of Sym and Max and
Beodar. Other people tell their stories as well, include One-eyed Jacks. He said that Beodar taught him that every life matters. Vijay writes down all the stories.

After the party, we are no closer to finding the 3rd incarnation than before. We decide to ask Vijay if he noticed anything.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dragon Bones Part 2
Wherein we clean up a few dangling threads

At the end of "Dem Bones, Samshee had determined where the shipment of stolen Dragon Bone sticks were going to be delivered. Tarl is taking care of the newborn twins which have yet to be named. Samshee is undercover in the Lands of Iuz,
trying to find the source of the tainted weapons. The rest of us leave for the delivery point, which is up the Retensa River, at the boundary of the Horned Society. This area was originally controlled by a lawful evil society that was rumored to worship devils. However, it was overrun by the forces of Iuz in the last war. With Iuz’ defeat, the area seems to be slowly, cautiously starting to recover.

At the delivery point, we find a small dock, at which is moored the pirate ship that Samshee identified to us. It had a manifest that listed the Dragon Bone sticks. Jet (invisible, on an Aldeberon’s Disk, in lizard form) investigates the ship hold. She finds 12 boxes that smell of the Dragon Bone. The pirates cover 8 of the 12 boxes with pitch to make them water proof and presumably odor-proof. The 8 pitched boxes are unloaded, and transferred to some mercs/soldiers guarding a wagon convoy. Anatoli investigates the convoy… 24 well-trained mercs, lead by a captain, Agamemnon. The chuck wagon has a symbol — a painted bear with silver claws.

A young, clean cut guy in new starting adventurer gear and a backpack oversees paying off the pirates and goes off to the convoy. They call him Davros.

Jet asks the rats in the pirate ship to keep an eye of the four chests left behind. She promises to check back with them regularly. She leaves an Aldeberon Coin in a rat hole to make sure that the ship is easily tracked.

Anatoli stays with the chuck wagon. The rest of us follow behind by about an hour. When they set up camp that night, an armorer sets up a table and starts repairing chain mail using a dry welding process. Anatoli casts True Sight. The armorer is an ogre magi in human form. Agamemnon is a 7th level fighter. The armorer is welding the rings together using Dragon Bone ore. Davros is a 9th level mage, without any apparent spell books or magic items, except for a scroll.

Davros tells Agamemnon that the count of the boxes is off. However, the Mistress will handle it.

Jet stakes out the pirate ship in rat form. Four days later, a short woman (approximately 5’5 height") holding a staff and floating in midair attacks the boat. Three lightning bolts handle the main mast, the pirate captain, and part of
the upper deck. Arrows from the crew apparently bounce off. She floats down and looks into the hole in the deck. She targets the four boxes and cast another lightning bolt. It apparently ignites the boxes and the ship is totally destroyed. Jet lays in the water, playing dead along with all the other dead things floating there. The woman flies straight up, chants, and disappears. Jet rejoins the rest of the party.

We follow the wagons to Molag. It is an extremely orderly but repressive society. Maximus has done some scouting in the conquered lands of Iuz since the war and he tells us how to behave. We go in disguised as normal humans in the area. Agamemnon and Davros present papers to some guards and split up. We follow Agamemnon and the wagon of Dragon
Bone. He goes to a light manufacturing area of the city, and stops at a building with an old sign, “Cobblers”. He delivers the boxes to six guards out front. Jet (in dog form) notices that all six guards have the same smell, as if they were the same person. When the door opens, Jet can smell Dragon Bone.

We backtrack to where Davros split off and Jet scent tracks Davros to City Hall, and then to the Mayor’s Office. Jet shape changes to a mouse and makes her way into the office. Davros is reporting to the Mistress, asking for guidance. She tells him to use less greedy humans next time. She says they now have enough of the materials. Apparently Iuz Bane did them a favor by shutting down the pipeline. They will have to seek a new power source, just as New Critwall will have to do.

We decide to leave Molag alone, and head for the World Serpent’s Inn. We walk into a dramatically re-organized Inn, a huge circular room with high beams, reminiscent of Valhalla. There is a circular bar in the center. A lot of adventurers are sitting around. Samshee is there with See-more (Boccob), eating fries and gravy. Some Kelmane show up and charge Samshee. She starts running, and Anatoli casts a Prismatic Wall between Samshee and the kelmane. Jet moves and casts Anti-Animal Shell to be between the khelmane and Samshee. About 4 kelmane go through the wall and disappear. the others managed to stop in time and try to go around. but they cannot penetrate the Anti-animal Shell. The new bartender, a tall woman with white hair, tells the kelmane, “Not in my bar.” One kelmane objects. She blows a puff of air and that kelmane disappears. Another kelmane objects, and the bartender puffs another one away. The remaining kelmane meekly back away and leave.

The bartender comes over to us. She is Strega, the Valkyrie that Maxximus killed and Aldeberon raised back with a potion. She tells us that Struva was dying because she lost her heart. Strega came to the bar and asked how she could save Struva. A woman with a cruel face told her she had to take on a task she would not name. Strega agreed. She started knowing things about the bar, and her hair turned white. Struva was saved, and became a full Valkyrie, but does not know what
Strega did.

Strega says there are new rules. Everyone can see invisible, astral, out of phase and ethereal. No fighting is allowed. Spell casting is difficult. Spells to do harm do not work. Healing is improved. Entry to the Inn is determined by the god who grants it.

Struva comes in. She does not recognize Strega. She was told that Strega made a great sacrifice for her, but she knows nothing more. Struva says she has to go to work now, but she will find Maximus later. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Samshee reports that people’s lives are better now in the Lands of Iuz. Farmers are getting loans and work crews (enslaved kobolds, apparently) but are not allows to leave their farms. They are also getting potions to assist in reclaiming previously unfarmable land. It is unclear if the land was unfarmable due to mundane means such as salt or magical means such as curses. She also reports that Golgotha Mak (Sym’s orcish father) and Turosh Mak (Sym’s orcish half brother) are busy putting together the Orc Empire in the Po Marj. They apparently have the assistance of a third half orc/ half gnoll, who appears to be a cleric wearing the perverted holy symbol of Sym.

We head back to New Critwall to persuade the Mayor to stop using Dragon Bone. Maxximus and Aldeberon paint a vivid picture of the city being eradicated by berserker dragons and he agrees. Next we head to the Bottoms. Jet lends her Aboleth Janitor Harness to Aldeberon’s Simulacrum, and he spends the next week casting “Purify” on everything and everyone to get rid of the stench of burned Dragon Bone.

Jet asks Stonedar about moving the Dragon Bone material back to the plane from which it came. He gives it some thought and tells her that would need the permission/assistance/intervention of the Prince of Elemental Earth. She asks Stonedar to look into that.

We go talk to the dwarf (Waldorf) in charge of engineering to find out how the city was getting power before they started using Dragon Bone It seems there is a magma elemental in a chamber below the city. Every six months, Beodar would create some powder. He would summon an earth elemental to knead some clay, a water elemental to make a slurry, a fire elemental to bake the slurry, and an air elemental to winnow the dust. Jet thinks that creating a substitute will require a mage and a priest. Jet agrees to help Dharma with the twins to give Tarl a break so he can help with the investigation. Tarl eagerly agrees.

First we try whether mundane materials will work, such as powered diamond. That works but flares too hot, too quickly. Next we try a mixture of diamond dust and powdered granite, using the mundane equivalent of Beodar’s process – diamond dust and powdered granite, mixed with rainwater, heated till dry, ground down, and sifted using an air based winnowing process. The resulting mixture works, but the magma elemental shows a pattern of addiction, needing ever greater quantities to get the same effect, and having violent withdrawal when more was not forthcoming.

Next we try the same process with materials retrieved from the appropriate elemental planes by Jet’s elementals. Just a tiny amount of that has an enormous result. Finally we dial it down so that we use just a touch of elemental materials with a whole bunch of mundane materials. It works a little better than Beodar’s original formulation.

Stonedar finally returns. He has secured the agreement/intervention of the Prince of Elemental Earth. The Dragon Bone has been moved to the plane of Earth and a very dense coal has been put in its place.

Maxximus tracks down the Tiger Nomads to try to replace his cheetah fetish. He brings Goodberry Tarts to the tribe and assists in the hunt. He kills two antelope at a great distance. One night, he meets a huge mountain lion (The great cat spirit, perhaps?). She refers to him as a kitten and tells him to thrive. If he needs a rock, then he should go find a rock.

Back in camp, the matriarch of the Tiger Nomads gives him a wooden face of a mountain lion.

A Hero's Quest
There is no such thing as time travel.

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, we were investigating the chest we took from the temple in the drow keep. (We suspected that temple was also a gate to the Demon Web Pits.)

The chest was opened by tracing a sigil. Opened correctly, the chest opened into a 20′ × 20′ room. which appeared to be a temple to the entire drow pantheon. We had no idea there even was a drow pantheon.

We took the box to Al’s wife. She sent us to the Drae Matron Mother. The Matron Mother told us the room was an Augury Chamber. We visited the drow librarian who maintains the Grayhawk Mage’s Guild. He tells us it is a graveyard of dead gods. He identifies Vhaerun (god of thieves), Karath (god of war), and Ellistrae (a.k.a. Aaye, goddess of forgiveness and combat). The librarian suggests we sell the box to a collector. Jet suggests giving it to Blackmane.

We decide to go to the World Serpent’s Inn to leave Blackmane a message. While there, a guy comes running through the bar, chased by other guys with light sabers. The running man reminds us of Max. He tells us to leave immediately. The light saber wielders are from Atlantis.

We leave for Bubble World (aka The Sanctuary that Anatoli created for us), where Maximus has been drinking with determination. The running guy identifies himself as One-Eyed Jax, a former henchman of Max’s. He says we have to stop Max before he touches the Yellow Skull (the cursed artifact from the Temple of Elemental Evil, whose maleficent influence destroyed Max’s whole life). Jax had gone to Atlantis to steal a time machine, to prevent the third incarnation of Max from becoming a demon lord.

Jax tells us that 30 years in the future, he is retired. Max is an insane tyrant, Maximus is Max’s general and most of us are dead. Jax said he got a gem
called “Failsafe” that tells Jax how to get to Atlantis, steal the time machine, and kill Max before picking up the yellow skull.

As a gesture of good faith, Jax tells us how to save Tarl’s wife from dying. As
we weren’t aware that Tarl’s wife was in danger, we go to Tarl’s home. Once there, we discover that Tarls wife, Dharma Coppervein, is very sick, carrying twins (possibly conjoined). We asks Jax for the Failsafe gem. He had swallowed it. He passes it, and it is a very spiky amethyst. We immediately think of the Eye of Boccob.

Anatoli uses True Sight and sees 3 lives in Dharma’s womb, with the sick one strangling the other two with the umbilical cord. Anatoli touches the Failsafe gem. He sees a vision of Max, saying that Jax has to go back in time and prevent Max from touching the Yellow Skull. Jax says that the three components are: 1) The Rose of Celene, a rare flower only grown in the garden of the Queen of Celene 2) Hair from the mushroom men that live deep in the underdark and 3)

We split up to collect the components we need to heal Dharma. Aldeberon and Samshee head to Celene to get roses of the Queen of Celene’s garden. Al goes to House Ilfaren and asks for guidance on asking politely for the rose. Ilfaren’s steward gives advice. He goes to the Queen and pledges his loyalty. The Queen accepts and Al is adopted by House Ilfaren. The High Priest Correllon meets Al on the way out and suggests that there is more to him than Correllon thought. Al,
being Al, asks if the position of Vizier is still open. Al misses his

Anatoli and Maxximus head out to collect the mushrooms (musconoid hair). They get directions from the Rough Riders to a Musconoid camp. The Musconoids have been using crystal chips to defend their homes. Anatoli and Maxximus collect some of the crystal chips. Maxximus offers them some of his own hair in exchange for their hair. They are surprised but agree. (Anatoli also secretly pickpocks some Musconoid hair.)

Jet and Tarl go to Blackmoor to get volcanic glass from inside a volcano. She asks a fire elemental to retrieve it for her. It was very anti-climatics.

Al and Jax work on the potion with the ingredients we all retrieved. Dharma drinks it. She sleeps for 30 minutes and then goes into labor. Two healthy children are delivered. The third apparently dissolved.

We talk to Jax. He does not know why the time machine brought him to us, but he wants to continue going back in time to just before Max entered the Temple of Elemental Evil. Anatoli gives Jax Codex Killer. Then we all go visit Zarya Zavendi of Rel Astra and Lo Rel Tarma, priestess of Boccob and sage of planar travel. Her alethiometer, Anatoli’s alethiometer, and Jax’ time machine (also an alethiometer) have some interaction with each other.

Zarya cast a divinatory spell. Her eyes roll back in her head, and she apologizes to Jax. She presses a button and we (not including Zarya) travel back in time. Jax’ alethiometer start beeping. It seems to be tracking something. We follow the beeps (fast for closer, slower for further away) toward the Temple of Elemental Evil. Jax gives Anatoli the amethyst crystal.

The beeping leads us to Hamlet, a tiny village outside the Temple of Elemental Evil. Jet dons a brown cloak and Samshee uses the hat of disguise to look human. We go to the bar. There’s a ranger with a bottle of wine and his three companions. They are celebrating because Max saved the day. Max singlehandedly defeated the hill giant using a yellow skull of death which granted Poison Touch.

Jet speculates if perhaps we should embed the amethyst in Max’s eye? Perhaps that is how the fragment of the Eye of Boccob got into Max’s eye in the first place? Anatoli holds the amethyst and prays to Boccob for guidance. “What should I do next?” The spiky amethyst shatters into many shards, one of which has a fleck of white. We collect the rest of the shards into a vial.

Samshee disguises herself as a beautiful red-headed elven girl – one of Max’s known weaknesses. Max picks her up in the bar. Samshee takes the drunk Max back to his room. He passes out. Anatoli uses Dream to put the white-flecked shard of amethyst into Max’s eye.

We leave Max’s room by the door, headed for the World Serpent Inn. Mitchifer gives us drinks. Mitch offers lemonade to Anatoli, but Anatoli refuses it. Jax drinks it instead and dies painlessly.

Anatoli shakes the amethyst shards into the Lost and Found box of the bar. He also drops the Atlantean alethiometer into the Lost and Found box. Finally, he uses a communicator that Samshee stole from one of the Atlanteans to summon the Atlanteans ato the bar.

As we leave the bar, we see Boccob headed for the Lost and Found box. We go to Tarl’s to check on them. We bury Jax. We go back to the World Serpent’s Inn to meet Blackmane. She does not want th box herself, but she will pay us to deliver it to Eclavdra. We agree, and do so (with Shadow Mole, I think.)

2014 Holiday Run: Slay Ride Part Two
ok, they have jackhammer's too.....

Hello, everyone. Here are the words I know you have been longing to read …

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, we had just slain 5 Type V demons in what appeared to be a temple to Lolth (and potentially a gate to the Demon Web Pits – a plane of the Abyss).

Anatoli and Samshee found some secret doors. One lead to a treasure room, with a padlocked chest with a demon head on the lid. There were also metal webs on the ceiling. A bowl and knife sat on a shelf dug into the wall. Chains hung from the walls. Al Itemized the chest, and Presented it, so that he did not have to go into the room. He put the itemized chest in Anatoli’s bag.

The other secret door lead to a room with priestly robes. Maxximus shredded them.

24 drow come down the stairs, and use their innate ability to cast Darkness. Anatoli went through the ceilling to come in the floor above and behind them. Jet followed him. He used Minor Creation to create 16 cubic feet of Jet’s dust of Sneezing and Choking. Jet used a Gust of Wind to blow the dust over the drow. Al used an Ingot Storm to pummel them. Anatoli cast Boom Tube to open on the depths of the Nyr Div (an inland sea) to hit the drow with a water hammer.

While Tarl and Maxximus slaughtered the remaining drow, Jet (who had been watching the stairs) Conjured a fire elemental, and got an Efreeti to help her out.

Next we went to the west tower and freed some slaves. Jet made Animal Friends of some T-Rix dinosaurs. In the basement of this tower, we found two drow females behind an impenetrable force field. Al tried to take it down with his ring of force, but the field sucked charges out of his ring of force instead. A voice said to Maxximus, “You do not disappoint.”

In another room, a human female was aggressively interrogating a hobgoblin. Anatoli backstabbed her. She turned out to be a succubus, and disappeared. We freed the rest of the prisoners, and Anatoli sent them to Al’s keep. Before they left, one of them told us he was brought here 3 days ago, and he had been one of the people abducted in the raid on Ehlonna’s temple. So we knew that Maxximus’ brother was here somewhere … if he was still alive.

On the next level, we found an albino male drow. He asked, “Parlay?” We agreed. He told us that the matriarch (Alevolenz) can cast clerical and magic user spells. Also, she is not House Vrama, but House Vrama does exist. He asked Maxximus to kill him, and Maxximus did. Samshee looted his body. Anatoli picked up the book that the guy was working on. The drow male wore the house symbol of Everhate. The Efreeti looked impressed by Maxximus’ deeds and offered to assist him. Maxximus agreed to a hug from the Efreeti, and his swords began to act as Swords of the Ebon Flame.

Having finished the tower, we went to the west opening in the cave, where we believed that the prisoners were. We were attacked by guards, whom we killed. We also killed a kharga and a female fighter with a lance on a dinosaur and her guards. (Anatoli backstabbed the female, but her Stone Skin protected her. So he pulled out a garotte and choked her to death. Go, Anatoli!)

We headed down to the slave pits, planning to act as if we were buyers. There were 3 drow men and 3 drow women. Maxximus saw his brother and was overcome by rage. He attacked. (Anatoli turned one to stone. Samshee backstabbed another.) One woman was wearing a holy symbol of Lolth. Al touched it and was paralyzed. Tarl knocked it out of Al’s hand, and Removes Paralysis. Anatoli Boom Tubed the imprisoned humans (and some dwarves, I think) back to Al’s Keep.

We headed further down. The next pit was guarded by a blind drow fighter. Aldeberon killed him with Melf’s Minute Meteors.

The Efreeti talked to Samshee about seasoning her club. She agreed and he knelt in front of her and she clubbed him, and he exploded into flame and runes were etched into the club.

Anatoli Prestidigitates the last three prisoners to Al’s Keep. We went back into the tunnel. The dead drow had been raised as undead. Maxximus destroyed them. Two dryders showed up. Samshee backstabbed one, and Anatoli glued another’s feet to the ceilling.

Jet asked her T-Rix to sniff out our enemies. Behind the undead were two humans, a gnome and a two-headed troll. Jet used Firestorm to take out the undead and do some damage to the party behind them. Samshee engaged the cleric. The gnome illusionist cast Mirror Image and got six images. We fought for a while but eventually prevails. The corpses were popped into Anatoli’s bag, for later looting.

We went back to the cave with the three towers. Anatoli cast Invisibility 10’ Radius. There appeared to be some drow on top of one of the towers. One of them Summoned an Efreeti, and told him to “Kill them all.” Anatoli used his Magic Stick of Jumper Imprisoning to apparently Summon another Efreeti. My Efreeti says, “We could all fight and maybe die OR we could all go home.” Anatoli’s Efreeti said, “Fight AND Die! Fight AND Die!” Unwilling to engage the apparently insane Efreeti, the other two looked at each other and popped out. Anatoli’s Efreeti said, “Suckers!” and popped out.

Over on the other tower are 4 drow (2 male and 2 female). Al Polymorphed An Object to turn the top of the tower into a gold dragon. The drow fall.

Next round, Al dropped dead (apparently a victim of a Scarab of Death put-pocketed on him in the previous combat). Samshee and Maxximus disappeared and did not answer on the link. Tarl cast Hammer Barrier and did a bunch of damage. Jet summoned an Air Elemental to attack the drow. They got away using Word of Recall.

Stonedar showed up. He had been busy fighting a bunch of fire elementals. He created a pocket in the stone to give us a chance to regroup. Tarl used Augury. “Are either Samshee or Maxximus alive?” The answer was “No.”

Tarl raised Aldeberon. Aldeberon used a Limited Wish on a scroll to bring Maxximus and Samshee back with all their stuff.

We later heard that House Vrama was reborn due to the unprovoked attack by adventurers.

2014 Holiday Run: Slay Ride
That man has a jackhammer

When last we left our intrepid adventurers, they were about to track down the delivery of dragon bone ore…

But Maxximus gets a note from his mother in the Duchy of Geoff. The note says, “Something Terrible has happened. Come home as soon as possible.” Al uses Teleport without Error to get us there.

Maxximus’ mom says that Maxximus’ younger brother is missing and so is Beauregard, a 20th level ranger and coincidentally Maxximus’ mentor. She send us to Therence Thelonius, a half-elf priest of Ehlonnna. At the temple, we see signs of a massive assault. Therence said may 30 drow showed up, and slaughtered the 50 people celebrating a ritual at the temple. Therence was away, and his friend Darnesthes, a retiring paladin, was officiating. 43 bodies were found, and 7 people are still missing, including Maxximus’ brother. Ranger lord Beauregard found some tracks leading away from the temple, and followed them. Beauregard has not been seen since.

Searching the site, we find a dried mushroom in the shape of a skull with a dagger pushed into it. We examine some of the bodies that were left behind. Darnesthes was killed by a Slay Living. Some of his adventurer friends were killed by having their throats cut. Many celebrants were killed by drowic crossbow bolts. Some of the items formerly hung on the walls of the temple apparently were taken by the raiders. Those items include a Quiver of Ehlonna, some magic arrows, a
chalice of reeds, and a silver circlet (magical, +4 wisdom).

Maxximus follows signs left by Beauregard, until he comes to a boulder with Maxximus’ symbol, and an arrow pointing straight down. We take that to mean that Beauregard believes that the raiders have gone underground. Jet does a Commune with Nature, and finds a large community of drow, several miles deep underground.

We bring out the Eye of Thera, using the lotion from Veejay which allows a magic user to “view history”. (Without the lotion, a dual-class cleric/magic user is needed.) Aldeberon looks into the past to find Darnesthes preaching. Suddenly, darkness falls. He hears the sound of many crossbow bolts, perhaps of archers using one crossbow in each hand. Someone brings out a rod and dispels the darkness. There are 16 or so drow. 4 are women (3 fighters, 1 cleric wearing a breastplate), and 12 are men (2 magic users, 10 fighters). The fighters are carrying bucklers with the house symbol of a skull pierced with a sword. The common people fall to crossbow bolts. The adventurers in the congregation engage the drow. The drow cleric
speaks in Common, “Slay them all.” She wears a Holy Symbol of Lolth. She takes an arrow (later we find it was a holy item of Ehlonna) and destroys it and the scrying fades to static.

Therence sends us to talk to a local sage, Kardelayan. The sage says this symbol is from the drow house, Vrama. The house Vrama was destroyged 500 years ago, in the city of Erelhei-Cinlu. There is an old drow fort, Uldraken, deep in the earth below them. Uldraken has three towers, one for the drow elite, one for the rest of the drow and training, and one for slaves. He has heard that the drow priestess, Alevolenze, has reunited the remnants of other houses there.

Aldeberon asks his wife (and then his mother-in-law) about the house Vrama. He learns that when the elves were still united, their gods were known as the Celderine pantheon. Corellon ruled the Celderine. Corellon’s consort was Aurashnee. When some of the gods became discontented with their lower position, they broke away to become the Dark Celderine, gods of the drow. One goddess did not pick a side in the schism, Eilistraee, daughter of Corellon and Aurashnee. She became
the goddess of the drae.

Beauregard returns. He had gone after the raiders, and on the way, rescued a former slave, Thesea. She had been a captive in Uldraken who had escaped. She gives us information about the layout of Uldraken.

Maxximus says that killing drow is our priority on this mission, followed by rescuing the captives. If we do not agree with this, he tells us to stay home.

We go to the area above the drow concentration. Jet asks her earth elemental, Stonedar, to take us straight down to the drow fort. We think that will be much faster (not to mention safer), than following the caves and tunnels after the drow raiding party. Potentially we could reach the fort before, or not long after, the drow raiding party. Travel this way takes 2 days.

Stonedar allows us to peek down into the cavern of Uldraken from above without being seen. We see the three towers. The tallest and largest one stretches from the floor of the cavern to the ceiling. We get Stonedar to let us in to the top floor of the largest tower.

We walk from the top of the tower to the bottom floor, killing as we go, and wasting no time with searching or looting. At each door, we cast Detect Enemies and Find Traps. If we detect enemies and find traps, Anatoli and Samshee find a way in. If we detect enemies but no traps, Maxximus just busts down the door. Maxximus is in a drow-killing frenzy. Maxximus, Tarl, Aldeberon make a straight forward assault. Samshee comes in on the ceiling. Jet watches for anything
coming up from behind.

In various rooms, we kill:

  • a mind-flayer (Anatoli captures a mysterious floating ball in this room, and collects what might be a hat of shape-change).
  • Some statues (there is a clay golem here which pulls open its chest to release 7,000 spiders. Aldeberon seals it in with a Wall of Force and we retreat).
  • What we think is a lich, but actually turns out to be a skeleton, luring us into a field of brown mold. (Maxximus uses his rods of Cold Obsidian, charged by Therziduun, to repel the brown mold.)
  • A party of drow fighters, magic users, and a cleric. (the cleric gets away. one of the bodies had the insignia of the third son of the house. Anatoli tossed that body and the body of the magic user into his bag.)
  • The guards in the armory
  • 2 statues guarding the entrance to the temple on the ground floor (Anatoli uses Wraith Form to investigate the impenetrable darkness. The next thing we know, the area is lit and two statues are now beheaded.)
  • A drow and 5 demons. (The door to the temple is protected with a glyph. Anatoli draws a lightning bolt on the door with Nolzur’s Pigments. The lightning bolt becomes real. It blows the door off its hinges and pulps the drow (magic user? cleric?) behind it. We see 5 Type IV demons in the room. Maxximus kills one, Al and Tarl kill one, and Samshee annoys another. The annoyed one draws a Symbol of Discord, and we all become angry. Jet draws her scimitar and calls on
    Ogma – who long ago had blessed her sword at that time to never miss. Jet makes a solo kill. Everyone, including the remaining demons, is stunned for the rest of the round. Then we resume our killing.)
Dem Bones, Dem Bones, Dem Dragon Bones

We never did figure out why people were losing some of their memories, like a Forget spell, in the Critwall Bottoms. We decide to go back to Critwall, taking the cow brought back from the Ethereal (which Al obligingly transformed back using Stone to Flesh) to the orphanage cook. The Orphanage cook graciously cooks us steaks, using the rest of the carcass for the orphans.

We rest for the evening and the next day head down to the Bottoms. We decide to go to a bazaar on the lowest level of the city. Some magical items are sold there for unbelievably low prices. The smell is really bad down here. Many people are wearing masks.

On our way, we run across a guy who collapsed in the stairwell. We rouse him. He remembers that he was on his way to the bazaar to buy some metal roses for his sweetheart, when he met a man and woman. He does not remember anything after that, but he does have the roses in his pocket. He had not however had his sweetheart’s favorite perfume applied to the roses, so we follow him back to the bazaar to have that done.

We wander around the bazaar, disguised by Anatoli to look like regular inhabitants of the Bottoms. We notice that off in a side corridor, a pipe is leaking a cloud of steam. It appears to be an intentional breach in the pipe. Anatoli closes the valve and the steam stops leaking. Samshee finds a chisel and hammer that seem to have been used to cause the breach. She also notices a puddle with tracks leading out of it.

The ranger refuses to track the prints. He says the mage should use Limited Wish to do it. Jet transforms into a large rat. Anatoli puts an illusionary leash on the rat, and an orange vest that says “Safety Rat”. Jet pees on Anatoli’s boot.

In rat form, Jet can detect a perfume on the tracks, so she follows the perfume. It seems to be the same perfume that she remembered tracking during the Founders Festival Stone Carving Contest when we were investigating the murder of a stone carver. At that time, we tracked it to a young female thief, who was hiding in her uncle’s bar
basement. (The uncle was a higher level thief.)

We track the scent to a work crew. The one with the perfume looks like a half hobgoblin/half orc cross. Jet “points” to her. Aldeberon casts Detect Magic. The crew gets upset that he is casting, and start to rush him. Tarl blocks them. The perfume girl is holding back and to Al, she is glowing with magic. Al then casts Dispel Magic, revealing the half elf, Stacy, that we tracked before. Tarl uses the Command, “Sleep” and Anatoli creates “Fog”. Samshee grabs Stacy (illusioned as a bag of trash) and we retreat to one of our apartments.

We wake up Stacy, and ask what has been going on. She has heard the rumors that some people have lost short sections of memories. She also tells us that workers in the Bottoms get a smell that can’t wash off. It started when they started mining the land below the city. They found a combustible ore, that they started burning to provide heat for the hot water for the city. (Previously, the hot water had been provided by using fire elementals summoned by Beodar.)

We investigate the mining operation. The rocks with veins of whitish ore are mined, then crushed and made into a slurry. The ore is heavier than the surrounding rock, so a slurry and shaker separates out the white ore. The white powder is then dried, heated and compressed into white sticks. The white sticks are burned in a furnace to heat the water for the city.

Tarl thinks the white rock might be dragon bone. His mother told him that dragon bone was not to be mined and burned, because the smell roused the wrath of the dragons.

We decide to use Jet as bait for the people using Forget. She shapechanges to a half hobgoblin and wanders around the bazaar. She goes to the potion seller’s stall. He sells her “something to make her beautiful”. He is so slick fixing her hair, that Anatoli’s suspicions are aroused. He comes up to the potion seller and says “impressive” in thieves cant. The potion seller groans and closes his stall for a few minutes while he and Anatoli speak privately. It
turns out that the potion seller is actually a bard. He has heard that there is a ring of people stealing the dragon bone ore.

Still shapechanged as a half hobgoblin, Jet wanders around the bazaar, dreamily buying more stuff (first a hand mirror, then a ribbon here, a bracelet there, shoes somewhere else). Nobody else arouses suspicion, so she then wanders in to the corridors, humming and admiring herself in the mirror.

After a while, she is passed by a set of clockwork driven carts holding ore. The work crew tell her she is not supposed to be there and she should go back. She agrees and starts back the way they came. They go on. Then she runs into a human man and a human woman. They are not dressed like “Bottomers”. Jet plays the bemused hobgoblin. “See how pretty I am?” The woman says, “You just need makeup” and pulls out a wand and casts “Dazzle”. Jet saves versus the Dazzle but plays dumb and looks in the mirror. She pouts “You didn’t give me makeup.” Anatoli casts an illusion giving Jet clown makeup. Jet starts to cry, “you meanies.”

Samshee knocks down the woman. The man evades. Tarl’s Hold Monster captures the woman and Al’s Force Cage gets the man. Samshee pulls a wand and dagger off the woman. She starts poking with a staff at the guy in the cage. He pulls out a scarf and drops it to the floor when Samshee insists. The scar starts getting bigger. Anatoli puts the
scarf in his bag. The guy in the cage does something which fills the area with smoke. Samshee hears someone running away, so she uses her slingshot to bring the runner down. Jet uses dragon breath to blow the smoke away in the cage. This also slams the man against the cage walls, knocking him unconscious.

Samshee pulls a roll of needles and a dagger off the unconscious guy in the cage and binds him to the cage bars. She drags the guy who ran away back and ties him up to. She pulls a dagger off him. She ties up the woman, has Tarl lift the Hold Monster, and take her ring away.

Jet resumes her normal shape. She asks the woman if she knows who Jet is. The woman nods. Jet asks what they were doing and the woman says they were stealing the dragon bone sticks and taking them to the merchant Trammel. We tell the three that they should leave and keep their mouths shut. We let them go.

We head to Trammel’s office/warehouses. As a lizard, Jet searches the warehouse for the smell of the ore. She finds the smell around a metal cover set in the floor. We go to Trammel and ask him about the ore in his warehouse. He seems not to know what Al is talking about. We take him to the hidden metal cover, and he is surprised. Tarl’s
Find Traps reveals a mechanical trap. Anatoli thinks the trap is magnetic and best removed from underneath. Tarl uses an angled PassWall to get Anatoli into the underground cache bypassing the trap. Anatoli disarms the trap (set to explode using the combustible ore).

We all go into the underground cache. There is a lot of contraband — addictive herbs from the northern lands of Iuz, silks from the Great Kingdom, the dragon bone sticks, and so on. Trammel sends for the Chief of Police to take the contraband. The City Comptroller also eventually arrives and takes Trammel away to give his statement. Al Itemizes the chest of the potentially explosive dragon bone sticks and we take it with us.

There was a shipping label on the side of the chest with a number, 7435. Al checks with the Harbor Master, but does not find anything. Samshee sneaks around the ships in dock checking manifests. She does find a manifest, with the number 3574. She decides to check the Captain’s quarters for that ship. Inside is a noisy parrot. When he starts to speak, Samshee bags him, and squeezes until he is dead. She grabs the Captain’s records, along with the bagged dead parrot, and runs away. The records say the 3574 box was supposed to be dropped off 4 days north on the river, and put on a caravan going to the Lands of Iuz.


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