Ground Zero

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.

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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
stick.

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.)

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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.

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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.)
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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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The Order of the Stick

This follows directly after “Anatoli vs Jumper”. I am calling it “The Order of the Stick.”

Anatoli calls us over the link. We find him with burned clothes. His skin is not burned but is bruised everywhere. Two thirds of his bones are cracked, he has a severe concussion, and his overall condition is so bad, Tarl thinks that a Heal would fail because it would think he were dead. Tarl starts with Goodberries, and targeted Cure Light Wound spells, and works his way up to stronger spells and then a full Heal.

The field around him looks as if it were burned in a Meteor Swarm. There are a number of different types of terrain, as if a Chaos field had affected the area. Jet’s Detect Balance confirms that a Chaos field is still in effect. Her Dispel Magic can reduce the field in a limited area. There are also four Soul gems, which Aldeberon (later confirmed by Tarl) determines contain the souls of the four illusionists of the Order of Illusionists (Medeeka, Brandelon, Oto, Al-Uhir).

Anatoli tells us of the battle in “Anatoli vs Jumper”. We see that his Suelese Rod of Command has 4 new lines of runes down it. Samshee looks at the languages of the runes and determines that they correspond to the homelands of the four illusionists. Aldeberon looks at the area around the locations of the Soul Gems, and thinks the devastation was caused by the illusionists breaking their staves in retributive strikes.

Samshee goes to the nearby farmhouse, and finds a non-responsive mother and father, and two terrified children. Tarl uses True Sight and sees that a boy (maybe 14?) is stuck on the near Ethereal Plane. We use Plane Shift to get there. The boy, some cows and a plow are there, but turned to stone. Jet decides to push the stone boy, cows, and plow back to the Prime Material Plane (our plane, Oerth). She has just pushed the boy, when the rest of the party sees an approaching group of Kelmane. Jet decides to push a cow back to the Prime, while Aldeberon brings the rest of the group back to the Prime using Teleport, No Error. Maximus teases Jet about how good that steak is going to be — because it is well-marbled…

Aldeberon casts Stone to Flesh on the kid. The kid turns back from a statue, but dies from system shock. Tarl uses Raise Dead to bring the kid back to life. We head over to the farm house. The sight of her son rouses the mother from her catatonia, but the father remains silent with his eyes closed. Samshee pries open the guy’s eyes and
they are solid purple. Al gives the father an Elixir of Health. The father starts throwing up purple goo. The quantity of goo is greater than a person’s stomach, so Maximus cuts the farmer’s throat. The blood starts to meld with the vomit, and the vomit begins to move. Samshee pushes some furniture to block and contain the vomit’s motion. A psychic scream paralyzes all the party except Maximus and Jet. Jet uses Purify from the Aboleth harness and the blood stops melding with the vomit, but the vomit continues to issue from the guy’s mouth. Maximus uses his gloved hand to hold the guy’s mouth closed to stop the flow of vomit. Jet tries a Dispel Magic. The vomit stops moving. The paralysis lifts.

While holding his Rod, Anatoli casts the binding spell again — the one that the Order of Illusionists cast during the recent battle with Jumper. Four gem sized slots appear in his rod, lined up with the runes from the four illusionists homelands. Anatoli puts the Soul Gems in their corresponding slots, and uses the rod to vacuum up the vomit. The rod also sucks up more vomit from the farmer, leaving him a shriveled husk.

We think that Jumper is now bound into the Rod. It no longer radiates magic, but Anatoli can still cast spells from it.

Al wants to restore the farmer, but Tarl is exhausted from the Raise Dead on the kid. Al and Maxximus get into a verbal fight about it, with Maximus saying that if Al cares so much he should use Limited Wish. Al agrees and uses Limited Wish to bring the farmer back.

Anatoli thinks that this is no longer a good place for the farm family and gives them some money to relocate elsewhere.

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Anatoli versus Jumper

You regain consciousness lying on your back. As you struggle to arise, you realize that your clothing is badly burned but you are bruised instead. You are pretty sure you will be one ugly lump of purple the following day. If you didn’t know better, you would swear that you had been in a fist fight against a dozen opponents. At least if the bruising, the busted lip and the way you feel are any indication. In your left hand is the Suelish Staff of command. But it looks different. There are more runes on it. Tons more. And they are are in different styles. Further inspection show that runes near the top of it that originally indicated how many charges you had left are one solid burned out line. New runes run down vertically now. You struggle to your feet and survey your surroundings. You appear to be in a large field, or what used to be a farm. All around you for about 50 yards in radius is a smoldering, smoking landscape. It looks as if Chaos had thrown up on the ground and then been hit by a Meteor_Swarm. Strange multi-headed amalgamation animal remains lie strewn about. About 10 feet away you see 4 glittering gems that seemed to have defied the destruction. Your memory slowly returned. Yes, Soul Gems. They belonged to the members of The Order. Suddenly all your memories come rushing back, along with that vision of a hideous laughtng face. The face of Jumper.

Ground Zero had just transported away via Tarl’s plane shift. You had been left behind, or rather, you had stayed behind. You had been told that if Jumper ever showed up, to chant the signal and The Order would arrive. You trusted her. And They did. 4 Arch Illusionists. Medeekka, the black skinned, white haired illusionist from the Amedio Jungle. Brandolon, the Barbarian from the Corusk Moutains that were home to the Frost and Snow Barbarians, Odo from Suundi, and Al Uhir, from Tusmit. They had vowed to contain those that used the power of Illusion and Phantasm to rewrite reality for such magicks would eventually undo the very fabric of the world. Jumper had mastered this magic but not without a price. He was consumed by the desire to unweave reality and create it in his own twisted vision. What Iuz had done was soly based on Evil. Jumper would be 1,000 times worse.

They Order arrived chanting a binding spell. “In the name of Order we bind thee. By the powers of Chaos we confine thee. In the name of the primal reality, we challenge thee.” Each of the order held a staff. Eldritch energy wafted from them like smoke and formed a circle around Jumper. Jumper cackled.
“Oh goody. The Order has come out to play! I trust that you haven’t bought into their jibber jabber have you Anatoli? I mean, you understand what I’m doing is the most fun an illusionist can ever have right? Who are they to decide what the rules are? Our entire world is about breaking the rules!”

Jumper hopped back on forth on each of his legs as he spoke. A childlike gleam in his eye bellid the leve of sinister intent. His honeyed words hung in your ears and you found yourself gripping your Suelese Staff of Command tightly and whispering a command to yourself “Don’t blieve him. He twists the truth to suit his own reality and cares nothihng for yours.” \ The magic of the staff broke the hold and you were your won person again. Had Jumper just tried suggestions on you? No, that was stronger. Had Jumper just rewrote_your_will! A dread thought surfaced. Jumper’s radius of control of reality had gotten larger. And you were in it. The entire order was. And they didn’t know that it had changed. As the realization sunk in, you tried to warn the others, but it was too late. The Order finished their chants and magicks that they were summoning lept from their staves and struck at Jumper. Jumper held his hands up and said “No.”

The magicks froze in mid flight. Time Stop. Jumper had just stopped time. You fell back on your thief instincts and in desperation you hurled Codexkiller at him. He turned his attention to you and moved his hand as if to swat away the blade. And didn’t. It struck him soundly in the chest. Where it wounded him, he bled purple and yellow blood that seemed to boil as it bled. He screamed and grabbed the dagger to pull it out. As he did so, he lost his concentration and the frozen magicks struck him full force. Beleaguered on all sides by binding forces, Jumper faltered and fell to one knew. He managed to remove the dagger but quickly dropped it. his hand seared from touching the blades. He spat blood and spoke.
“Well it seems the cat has claws and isn’t afraid to use them. And he has chosen the losing side as well.”

Jumper slowly began to rise to his feet. The Order members all started chanting new spells, each one different. You notice at least one of them was trying to pull off a Prismatic Ray, another was doing Magic Missle (illusionist style) and the others were doing other fearsome high level magicks. Jumper slapped his hands together and eight copies of himself suddenly appeared and started shifting around. You thought that Jumper must be really insane if he was going to use Mirror_Image against other illusionists. Then you realized that you coudln’t see through them. Even with your innate skill and nature intelligence, the images were all indistinguishable from the original. He must be pushing it with stronger magics to make it more effective. Probably an Alter Reality. Your mind flashed to something that Medeekka had told you. "Only a fool casts Alter Reality in combat. Its too unstable and can’t be trusted. Another illusionist with enough skill can disrupt it. You focused your will. Started casting a spell and spoke with the Staff of Command at the same time, speaking calmly but quickly.

“Jumper, you will spoil your appetite by having dessert first. Make the meal last longer.”

Jumper raised an eyebrow at you as the runes on your Staff burned bright as the magics sprang to life. Jumper shook his head and then smiled.

Then things get really hazy.

You aren’t sure what happened to the rest of The Order. You aren’t sure why your Staff looks different. And you don’t remember anything else after Jumper’s Very Wicked Smile. All you remember is waking up in this dead zone.

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At no point was Maximus in any danger

Hey, everyone. I don’t know what to call this run. Perhaps, the title should be “At no point was Maximus in any danger.” When last we left our intrepid adventurers….

Al was at home. Lossien Matandra (14th level elven cavalier, messenger of the Queen of Celene, Kymballah Matandra‘s brother) delivers a note from House Ilfaren – the house that adopted Aldeberan. It has come to the attention that Al is married to a vile drow. He must get a divorce or relinquish the title of Ilfaren Vizier. Al hands Lossien his Rod of the Magista (symbol of his status as Vizier) as his answer. Al is visibly angry as he says that House Ilfaren knew that he was married to Baroness Crysania Orion before they conferred the title on him. He suspects this was a political move by either Queen Yolande or Correllon or both. Al doesn’t care as he despises political games of any sort. He says “I’ll miss that wand.” kisses his wife and goes on about his life.

Jet attends board meeting at the University in Critwall. Vijay has stepped up to handle many administrative tasks in Eljay’s absence.

Samshee has been investigating in the DMZ. She has found that area is now being patrolled by groups of demi-humans (kobolds, hobgoblins, orcs, etc.) Unusually, these groups are organized, all wearing the same stained black armor and using oily black broadswords. Samshee acquires one of these swords. It is a cold-forged weapon, and stamped with a symbol of Chaos. Anatoli’s True Sight says that the weapon was forged by a person who was cursed. Even though the weapon is non-magical, it gives a weapon proficiency to whoever wields it. When Anatoli picks up the weapon, he sees a taint on himself. We think this taint comes from Hexus.

Maxximus drops by the orphanage. Angela has been missing for a couple of weeks. One of the kids (Tarak) has been running things in her absence. She left a message saying she was sorry, but she was the only one who could save “her”.

We find a note in her room signed by Sirrah, a well-known smuggler. The note says, I was paid to get this to you. A second note is there as well. It is in code, and cannot be interpreted either by Anatoli, using his thief skills or Aldeberon using his “comprehend languages” spell. Anatoli notices some folds on the paper, and Jet thinks it could be origami. Anatoli uses a spell to create a large-scale three-dimensional model of the paper. Using the folds in the original paper as a guide, he figures out that recreating the folds turns the paper into a 3D model of a skull. Now the message can be read. “Dearest Angela, I know I am the last person you want to hear from. I have done terrible things and I deserve my fate. However, our daughter does not deserve to suffer as well. The necklace you gave her still protects her. She is in the Re-education Facility in Molag.”

We know that the Re-education Facility in Molag is run by Granny Goodness, the woman who trained Helga and Althea, the former high priestesses of Iuz. Samshee tracks down Sirrah, who tells her that Panshazak (14th level cleric of Iuz) paid him to give the note to Angela. We decide to use the Scrying Pool in the basement of Critwall’s City Center Spire to find Angela. Al uses Teleport Without Error to get us in there as the mayor had bricked up all the entries for safety. Maximus’ Reflecting Pool shows Angela hanging by her arms in a dungeon. Pulling back, Maxximus sees that she is in a dungeon in Molag.

Maximus is certain that this is a trap, although he does not know if it was aimed at Angela or at us. Maximus goes to talk to the new Mayor of Critwall. The mayor is concerned with the level of fear and panic in the city. It appears to be directed against the former inhabitants of the lands of Iuz — such as the orphans and Angela herself.

Maximus also visits Dr. Derro, who has also heard of the rumors stirring up sentiment against the orphanage. Samshee goes to the Thieves Guild to see if she can find the source of the rumors, but does not get anything, except a warning that there is another
high-level assassin in the city. (The head of the Thieves guild is a woman, who is herself an assassin.) Also, people send to ask
questions in the lower level of the city are coming back with gaps in their memories. The guildmaster claims that Eljay is actually the head of the guild and she is meerly his assistant.

We check Angela’s office to see if she left us a note. Under the infamous comfy chair is a small box which levels the chair like a
shim. Inside the box is a message. “Maxximus, I didn’t tell you because I thought my daughter was dead. There is a deadline, so I
have to go now. If I am not back in two weeks, I am probably not coming back. Do not risk your own life.”

We go back to the Scrying Pool to look for Angela. Anatoli uses Prestidigitation and Alter Reality to bring Angela to us, and leave a
complex illusion in her place. Jumper shows up and applauds Anatoli’s use of the Alter Reality with his spell and asks how he does it. We are all a bit perplexed and terrified. Aldebaron Teleports away (that is, we bravely tucked our tails and fled) but Anatoli is left behind for some reason. Maximus contacts Anatoli by the link. Anatoli tells us that he is fine and to evacuate the building while he and the Order (a group of high-level illusionists) handle Jumper.

Lights cascade from the Phoenix at the top of the City Spire. The spire shimmers out of existence and then shimmers back. Anatoli says over the link that they are taking this elsewhere. 10 minutes later, the Book of Infinite Spells (in travelling spellbook form) returns to Al. It has a yellow post-it note on the cover, " If you are seeing this, the page has flipped. We don’t know when Anatoli will be back. The Order is trying to contain Jumper."

Angela is exhausted and we see that the same taint that affected Anatoli is on her. She tells us she saw her daughter in Molag. This
daughter, Teresa, was the result of rape. She was raised in the Duchy of Tenh. The child had a protective spell on a necklace which protected her mind in the Re-education Facility.

Maximus still thinks it is a trap. After discussing several options, the group decides on a plan. Angela sketches out a rough maps of the city with the approximate location of the Re-education Facility. Al uses Telepathy on Angela to find out what Teresa looks like and then shows Jet using an Illusion. Jet Walks Through Trees to just north of Molag. As a bird, she scouts out the city and finds the Facility. Looking around, she notices a rat-sized, unobtrusive entrance to the building, and transforms into a rat. She talks to some other rats, who guide her to the dormitories. She waits until Teresa is in the room alone, and shapechanges back to human (dressed in court robes, not her trademark armor and hierophant garb). She doses the girl with Sleep dust, and planeshifts with Teresa first to the Plane of Earth, and then back to Critwall.

Angela is delighted to see her daughter back. Al gives her a Sending stone so that if she needs to contact us, she can. The mayor shows up with his own bodyguards and a pair to guard the orphanage as well. He wants to leave 2 guards at the orphanage, so
that they can protect us. Maximus invites the Mayor to go to a bar with us to celebrate Angela’s and Teresa’s rescue. While we are at the bar, Samshee does some investigation at the Drummer’s Beat bar to see if she can find out where the rumors are started.

Angela activates the Sending stone, “Help, he has come for her.” We rush over. Some kids are paralyzed, and others bleeding. We spread through the mansion, but do not see Panshazak. We eventually find Teresa, and Angela. Tarl stabilizes/heals the hurt kids.
Jet Summons a pack of dogs to scent track the guy who attacked Angela. If they lose the scent, she asks them to cast around til they find the scent concentrated.

Al casts Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion so that there will be a safe place to keep them while we look for Panshazak. Jet uses Detect Magic to screen the kids and Angela as they go into the mansion to make sure no bad guys sneak in. She sees one kid radiating magic, so she pulls that kid aside. Jet tries to cast Dispel Magic on the kid. However, the kid casts Unholy Word and transforms into Panshazak. Everyone is slowed and stunned except Tarl who uses his Amulet of Protection and some good luck to ward off the spell effects. Maximus uses his sword’s telekinesis to keep Panshazak from moving and Tarl lays an insane Dwarven Ass Whooping on Panshazak, killing him in two rounds. A Type IV demon shows up and takes Panshazak’s soul.

The dogs eventually find the room where Panshazak was staying. That is where he stashed the kid he was impersonating, so we rescue her as well.

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Who killed Anatoli Bridgewrecker?
The Jokes on You!

Sven (Anatoli’s second in command of the Rough Riders) summoned Ground Zero to the center of Grossetgrotel. There in the shadow of Tahlia Terrorkin’s clock tower, (the famous clock which counts down the seconds to the end of the Year of the Practical Joke), lies the mangled body of Anatoli Bridgewrecker. His corpse, blasted by electricity and pierced by darts, is not regenerating even though his famous Ring of Regeneration is still on his finger. His Amulet of Life Preserving is still around his neck, but does not hold his soul. Murder most foul has been committed.

The chief investigator for the Rough Riders is Reginald. He comes to examine the body. Samshee investigates the inside of the clock tower, avoiding the many traps and collecting the gruesome bits and pieces of bodies and clothing (presumably from those less successful in trap avoidance) that horrifically decorate the interior. Tarl casts True Sight to assure us that the body truly is Anatoli. Tarl also determines that the many doors into the tower have Glyphs of Warding of the type that appear to have killed Anatoli. Samshee investigates the tower roof, and sees a huge spider image that reminds us of Tahlia’s spider “golem”, Gurg.

Reginald notices that Anatoli’s body is dressed in his current clothing choice – the pantaloons and vest of the Year of the Practical Joke. However, his hat is the older Rough Rider hat, not the current gold turban.

Shamshee carefully pries up some of the roofing material to investigate the inside top of the tower. She sees what appears to be a massive booby trap against investigation, a binary explosive (two sets of liquids) inside a mass of nails. Tarl puts up a stone berm around the tower so that if we accidentally set off the explosion, the town will be protected against the shrapnel. Shamshee investigates the leaderboard display on the tower (which shows the current top three point holders in the Year of the Practical Joke contest) an gets a list of all the participants in the game. Unusually, one gnome, Reginald Goodbody, has zero points.

Reginald interviews bystanders and find that there were no witnesses to the death. A watchman heard the explosion just before 7 am, and found the body, and called Sven. Maxximus determines that Anatoli was leaving the tower when he died.

Reginald casts Magic Mirror to try to scry for Anatoli’s missing turban. It appears to be in a root cellar. Al casts Locate Object to
find the turban. Eventually, he tracks it to a clothing store. With the store owner’s permission, we check out the root cellar, and
eventually find a secret entrance to a small room. Inside the room is a miscellaneous collection of items: hats, scrolls, daggers… One of the scrolls is the Gnomish Rules of Acquisition. The other is research about ghosts.

Inside the secret room, there is a secret compartment. The trap to the secret compartment is a tiny binary explosive, seemingly the same liquids as the clock tower. Inside is a sketch of Tahlia’s three kids (Winken, Blinken, and Chuck) and a pipe for smoking tobacco.

Reginald takes the binary explosive vials outside and throws them down on the street. The resulting explosion creates a 7 ft crater and breaks windows for 30 feet. The only person who is moved by the force of the explosion is Jet. She suspects that there is a psionic component to the explosion.

We head to the bar where Tahlia hangs out. We tell Tahlia about Anatoli’s death. We show her the picture and the pipe. She says she gave them to her husband, the scoundrel who abandoned her and the kids 48 years ago. She says her husband was Tiniekin, nickname Tiny.

Tahlia asks for the items from the secret room and gives them to Gurg to track. He leads us to the market area, and the clockwork show where Tahlia had bought several components for her tower. According to the shop clerk, the owner of the shop (Terrell) has sent word that he was sick. We head to Terrell’s house.

Terrell is not home, but Maxximus says the most recent tracks lead down into the root cellar. Inside it, we see a laboratory, and in one corner, a rune-inscribed sarcophagus. The runes are gnomish and Dwarvish and deal with rejuvenation and regneration and death. There are also vats of the the binary explosive liquids. The lab notebooks deal with experiments that reverse the effects of aging caused by a ghost.

Inside the sarcophagus, we find Anatoli’s body. The death wound appears to be a stab to the heart. Inside Anatoli’s mouth is a parchment with runes of regeneration and transfer of energy. We suspect ritual magic. Al Itemizes Anatoli’s body to take with us.

Maxximus thinks that a set of tracks from an old gnome goes down into the basement and a set of tracks from a young gnome comes up from the basement. We begin to suspect that Anatoli’s death was used to rejuvenate Terrell, who then posed as the shop clerk. We read the lab notebooks. We think that Anatoli was killed to provide the inital energy for the ritual. The clock tower explosion will provide additional energy to make the rejuvenation permanent.

Maxximus searches the house. He finds a box of Tahlia’s love letters to her missing husband. Tahlia is enraged.

Maxximus and Gurg track young Terrell back to the Clock Tower. Reginald uses Fear on the tower. A whole bunch of gnome sightseers run screaming from the tower. Reginal then casts Rainbow Pattern to get these innocent bystanders out of the way. The tower starts to expand, adding another floor with glass observatory windows. The tower now looks like an airport control tower with 4 spider like legs.

Reginald casts Hopelessness on the tower. Then he casts Suggestion, “Come out now”. Young Terrell comes into view, screaming “You are ruining everything”. Reginald then casts Maze to get Terrell out of the way which is successful. Maxximus throws Samshee up into the control room ala Fastball Special. Tarl casts Dispels Magic on the binary explosive liquids which causes them to change color.

Reginald pulls what appears to be a ceremonial dagger from the control panel. Al Disintegrates one of the two liquids. The remaining liquid starts to glow. Jet asks an air elemental to take the other liquids to an unpopulated spot.

Terrell returns from the Maze. Reginald stabs Terrell in the heart with the ceremonial dagger. A light comes out of Terrell’s mouth and into the dagger. The tower explodes, but the damage is limited by the stone berm that Tarl put up earlier.

Anatoli’s soul is now in his Amulet of Life Protection.

Terrell’s body is now that of an old gnome. He has a holy symbol of Urdln, the Crawler Below. Reginal uses Hypnotism on Terrell to find the locations of other caches. We neutralize the remaining 7 caches of explosives with Jet’s Purify Water. Tarl Removes Curse from the catalyst rocks being used to make the explosive.

Tarl goes back to his temple and performs Raise Dead to bring Anatoli back to life.

Player Note: Anatoli was a ghost during this run. He was setting up a prank with his own “dead body” and all his gear… and he got killed. He became a revenant, possessing Reginald and then Tahlia, and then Reginald, in the quest to find his murderer.

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Downtime
2014-08-16

Anatoli did some research and investigation on Alter Reality. He has noticed that the ones coming from the Book have suddenly been coming easier. Also, the ones cast from his head, considering the consequences from the alternate prime, seemed like there could be some more he could learn about how to cast the spell.

Anatoli reached out to the senior illusionist in the Camera Guild, the female Amazonian caster from the Amedio Jungle (please insert name here). She’s the one who originally sold Anatoli the spell.
Over dinner in Greyhawk she gave Anatoli some insight into the spell, the different portions of the mind that can cast it, and the dangers of letting the more cautious area of the mind take the easy way out with the spell. She also showed him a way to focus the mind for the spell using a powder mix of ginger and nightshade from the Amedio which she says the druid should be able to help obtain).

At the mention of Jumper she talked to Anatoli in private, revealing the existence of a group of illusionists operating independently from the Circle of Eight. They have only four members, and they call themselves The Order.

The Order rather than worrying about all of the world is only focused on keeping in check those who can unravel the world.‎ Currently that is only 2 people, both other illusionists (no, not yours truly). The first is Jumper. Anatoli learned a few things about him. Basically without Iuz to give him a purpose he’s gotten very dangerous. The Order is monitoring him.

The more dangerous th‎reat is another unnamed illusionist in Theocracy of the Pale (lawful neutral land). They’re not sure that he even has a name. He’s been brainwashed since birth by the Theocracy. The Order says that he’s known to be powerful enough to have changed the history of the Theocracy several times when things didn’t go well for them. He appears to be acting only within the Theocracy so far.

Anatoli offered to help the Order if needed, and he thanked her for the Alter Reality tutoring.

Samshee and Al did a bit of adventuring. After presenting her a finely created club, Backbreaker, it seemed it wasn’t quite right for the half-orc. Didn’t feel right and wasn’t something she could use. Al thought about selling it, it would bring a hefty price, well over 150,000 gps. Al also worked on commissioning a Shrine for the Fist of Corellon (the Armor and Swords of the 3 Brothers).

Still wanting to create a club for Samshee, Al began asking around about creating a club. After getting strange looks from humans and dwarves, they finally went to the peg-legged Orc Shaman whose name escapes me and asked him about creating a club. He mentions a wailing tree, where you beat the club against it to bring out its essence, along with using it in combat. Getting the femur bone of one of the giants we slayed in the monster preserve, he gives it to Samshee. Samshee goes back over to him and began challenging other orcs. Al, realizing this was going to take a while, went back to work on his shrine. The story of the shrine and Backbreaker’s fate is in the Obsidian Portal Forum.

I’ll let Samshee talk about her “seasoning” of the club.

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