Friday, November 17, 2017

They Were Nearly Killed by a Percy Shelley Poem

Image by Odobenus
Campaign: Scarabae (open table, Google Hangouts).

Characters: Traviata (human artificer), Crumb (kenku artificer), Khajj (minotaur cleric), Dr. Aleister (human fighter), Viktor (dragonborn sorcerer).

Objective: Enter the jungles of Hygea and rescue Yuriko from the Children of Fimbul cult.

Events: The party arrived at the city of Zarubad via steamship, in hot pursuit of the Fimbul cultists who had abducted Yuriko in the last adventure. Before setting off into the jungle, the party bought provisions, including a barrel of water, additional rations, insect repellent, fishing tackle, and a canoe. 

They also learned as much as they could about the jungle: it is rife with disease and insects, undead servants of a fallen paladin prowl within it, there is a fabled "lost city" somewhere therein that is a likely location for the Children of Fimbul's ritual involving Yuriko. 

Finally, they hired a woman named Salome to be their guide; Salome told them that the other guides were either incompetent or charlatans, and that they she knew paths through the jungle unknown to anyone else.

The group departed Zarubad, choosing to canoe down the westernmost river to navigate their way more quickly through the jungle in hopes of finding the basin where the lost city was said to be located. The first noteworthy site they encountered was a camp at the foot of a massive statue of a man carrying a crocodile on his back. The camp was in ruins; there was evidence of both a fire and claw marks on the shredded tents.

The statue had an entrance built between its feet that was a passageway that led to a stone door within the statue. The group managed to guile their way past a pit trap and a scything blade trap, but when the stone door was pulled open it cause a magical explosion to erupt. The party all managed to flatten themselves against the wall and avoid the explosion...except for Salome, who was thrown through the air and nearly killed.

There were piles of large bones inside the revealed chamber that seemed to belong to giant lizards, as well as a carved central pillar with a set of stone stairs wrapping around it. Fearing that the bones would animate, Viktor conducted a magical detection ritual; the bones were not magical, but several of the stairs were enchanted with abjuration spells. Those stairs were avoided, and the safer stairs were traversed. 

At the top of the pillar was an enchanted earthenware jug. When Viktor removed the jug, pieces of the statue began to rain down upon the party; the statute was crumbling with the adventurers within it! A mad scramble to escape ensued, and it was a particularly fraught exit as several members of the party were knocked unconscious by the falling debris. Khajj's healing magic and everybody still ambulatory dragging their knocked-out compatriots to safety managed to avoid fatalities by a hair's breadth. As the unconscious party members were revived by Traviata's healing draughts, Khajj's holy magic, and Aleister's medical training, the statue was reduced to nothing but a pair of feet upon a rocky dais. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

The party made camp and explored the rest of the surrounding carnage. Crumb was lowered into a horrible latrine because the corpse of a mercenary was discovered down in the pit; he retrieved a bag of gemstones from the body. A hatchling axe beak was found in the camp's animal pens; it was made friendly with some fish and kind treatment--now the party has a (dangerous) pet named Halberd.

After resting and recuperating in the remains of the camp, the party once again began traveling by canoe. The "river" they were on emptied out into a swampy basin rumored to be the home of lobsterfolk. (In truth, Salome had made a wrong turn down a tributary of the river instead of the main branch.) Beyond the basin was a plateau with a sheer cliff-face that rose above the jungle canopy. Using his magical slippers, Viktor was able to walk up the cliff with ease. He discovered rotten doors set into the cliff with a ledge running along it like a porch. Viktor attempted to use magic to open the doors, but they crumbled...and aroused someone from their slumber within.

A wizened, hunchbacked, and blind-looking old woman emerged asking who was at her door. Viktor introduced himself and the old woman wondered if this was the Viktor who used to deliver the bread. The old woman couldn't remember her own name and preferred to be called "Nanny." The rest of the party had arrived by this point, and Nanny was ranting about the "god-damn birdmen" in a nest on the cliff that were bothering her (she said this within earshot of Crumb, a kenku) and may have dropped some not-so-nice comments about "beasts" in front of Khajj (a minotaur). But she's blind and couldn't possibly be racist on purpose, right?


Nanny also talked about her days as a young hellion practicing "dark magic," and when the group asked for any help she could provide finding the missing child she began to lick her lips hungrily. She offered to give the party a map to the where Yuriko was being kept if they agreed to bring her back some of the child to eat. The party agreed, Nanny went back into her cliff-side home to scry, and Traviata hatched a plan to poison her after she handed over the map.

Nanny eagerly drank the vial that Traviata claimed was wine and was duly poisoned...but the poison didn't kill her. It soon became apparent that Nanny could see just fine, as she attacked the party. It also turned out that her wizened old hide was as tough as iron; even Aleister had trouble piercing her flesh with his singing spear. Khajj leaned that she was incredibly strong; she easily broke the minotaur's attempt to catch her in a bear hug. Nanny put up a tough fight, but ultimately it was Salome, the guide the party had largely discounted, who executed a perfect spinning slash that sent Nanny's head tumbling down the cliff. "And that's how the sausage gets made," she said, feeling that she had proved her worth to these naive city-folk. 

The party decided to make camp and heal up from the hideous wounds inflicted by the hag. Next time they may ransack her home and get on with the map Nanny had drawn for them.

Treasure: One 10 gp eye agate each. Alchemy jug.

XP: 1033 each.