Tuesday, 3 February 2015
LotFP Solo - Part the Thirty-Eighth: „Hinunter in der Erde Schooß / Weg aus des Lichtes Reichen“
"You see," explains the old wizard, surrounded by the instruments of his art, "I was... not always content to sit alone in my tower and contemplate the deeper mysteries of magic. And at some point, I picked up an interest in the manipulatio...n of Time. Pur...suing this line of enquiry led me to... the attention of a certain other guild wizard, a foolish and r...eckless chap, calling himself Itragad. He... too had theories of time, and I, intrigued be...yond all sense by his research, offered to help him in one of his mad experiments. Now... time starts and stops for me, seemingly at random. I don't see it, only the jumps and su...dden changes of the world around me. It has been, according to... my apprentice, more than two years since I've been this way, but to me it seems sc...arcely a twelvemonth. And in all... this time, I've searched for the answer, some way of undoing this curse which... that fool Itragad's dabbling has inflicted... upon me. I did discover the whereabout...s of an item that has the power to undo the damage, but I have had no way... of getting to it. Until y...ou arrived..."
Setup: Efalgyt's task
Characters: the Elders of the Elven Forest, Ranwitha the Pious Merchant, Siorighan MU12, Tibalt & Barnot, dwarven mercenaries, griffon, Reverend Father Gelnay de Val d'Oine, Reverend Father de Molleré, Brother Mundlo, Zuhal B'thallit, centaur lizard, Jola, Sir Gaunet, Jönnick, Baron Iehan Forzdeleu, Count Rotres d'Estancbel, Lady Delphinia, evil cult, Orezuthía the Wise, Cemmeret
Threads: help Efalgyt, bring the book back to Feyalldra
[The last post was a bit rambly and not much happened, so for this one I am cutting straight to the chase and (after a minimum of notes) jumping right into Adventure.
Efalgyt's reaction roll towards the party was an 11, so he was more than happy to see two elves show up at his door. A conversation roll from UNE came up with: friendly - support - current story; if the PCs help, he can teleport them to the Elven Temple in Feyalldra.
I think it was the d30 Companion that gave him a Curse, so lifting it provided a ready-made task to accomplish. I'm not great at coming up with curses, but I found this web page: http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/random-thursday-random-curses/
The game effect is that he has a 50% chance to be unable to act each combat round; I extrapolated the rest from that. To break the curse, he needs to recover the enchanted, golden torc belonging to a legendary king of the hill people, which was buried with him in a barrow tomb somewhere (roll for a random hex) in the forest south of Ullgrim.
The dungeon and its contents were determined with the Random Tomb charts in Best of Dragon Vol. 1 (which I had been wanting to play with), and the DMG random dungeon charts to fill in the blanks (and the map). The basic rolls for the tomb came up with it being the tomb of a King, comprised of 1d10 rooms with traps secret doors, and magical guard spells, and that it would be guarded by a creature from 6th level monster chart.
Efalgyt the Enchanter
10th level Magic-User
CH 12 CN 7 DX 14 IN 15 ST 9 WS 9
HP 25 AC 15
staff, leather armour
1 magic missile, mending, read magic, identify
2 continual light, levitate, detect invisible, web
3 gaseous form, gust of wind, speak with dead
4 minor globe of protection, protection from normal weapons
5 teleport x2
The PCs have spent a week healing up in his tower. On the morning of the expedition, he gave each of them a healing potion (reserving one for himself).]
All being prepared for their expedition, Efalgyt leads the two elves up to the roof of his tower, halting uncontrollably -- several times -- as the curse intermittently stops time from flowing for him. The elves are as patient as can be with the wizard, though they have grown increasingly eager to free him from his plight. As they emerge from the comfortable warmth of the wizard's lair, the biting cold of a clear winter's morning delivers a shock to their senses. They draw their cloaks around them and then take hold of the wizard's own cloak as he begins the words of a great spell. And in the blink of an eye they are somewhere else.
A storm is coming in over the isle from the southwest. The wind howls through the trees of the thick forest, and the snow falls heavy upon them. "This... is the place," shouts Efalgyt over the gale as he points toward a large, snow-covered mound, "I'm glad you... brought a shovel!"
He leads the elves round to the southern side of the mound, and indicates the slope. "The entrance is here." Lycinia wordlessly begins clearing the snow as Théscine and the wizard huddle in the lee of an obliging oak. Within an hour the stone-lined entrance to the barrow mound has been cleared, revealing a short passage [room 1] terminating in a wooden door which, though having blocked the tomb entrance for centuries, seems as new as the day it was made. Gilded symbols incised in the wood spell out the name of Gaen Cuhilluthan, an ancient high king of the hill folk.
Théscine and Efalgyt hurry inside as Lycinia lights her torch. She's feeling quite warm after the exertion of clearing the passage, but her compatriots spend a few minutes warming their hands around the brightly burning flame. When they are prepared, Lycinia speaks a charm over the door [casts Knock; Q: does this work? 50/50: 46, Yes.] which slowly swings inward, revealing a chamber beyond [room 2].
The high king was once a renowned hunter; within the vaulted chamber are the decaying relics of his most prized trophies. The walls are lined with the heads of game, magnificent stags whose antlers touch the ceiling, when not crumbled to dust or fallen away with the passage of years. Amongst the stags are the tusked heads of wild boar in similar states of decay. On a rusty iron pedestal is the skull of what may be a horned ogre or giant. Unknown pelts cover the floor, squelching with dampness when trodden over. Pride of place is given to a taxidermied owlbear, stuffed and standing upright in a posture of menace. The smell of damp fur and mold is overpowering.
As the elves reach the middle of the chamber, the stuffed owlbear comes to life and rushes toward them, its hooked beak opening in a silent roar.
[Room contents were Monster Only, which I rolled on the dungeon level 5 wandering monster table in the Expert rulebook. An owlbear living in a sealed tomb made no sense, so I decided it was a trophy (which led to the rest of the room description) with stats as a living specimen: AC 16, HD 5, HP 23, #Att: 3, Dmg 1-8 /1-8 /1-8.
Surprise die for the party came up a 2; the MU is surprised but not the elves. PCs win initiative.]
Efalgyt is still in the doorway. A look of shock comes over his face, and he freezes, as the curse holds him still in time. The elves are unperturbed.
Lycinia does not hesitate, but boldly pronounces words of power; green sparks shoot from her outstretched fingers and tear smouldering holes in the lurching creature [her Magic Missile does 8 damage, leaving it with 15hp]. Théscine rushes to meet it, swinging her magical sword, but the beast knocks the blade aside with a sweep of its paw. It snaps with its beak at the small elf, whose armour keeps her shoulder from being pierced, but its paw smashing down on her shoulder causes her to stagger back in agony [4 damage drops her to 5hp].
Lycinia draws her sword, and advances on the beast, but cannot get close enough to land a blow. Théscine recovers and lashes out as it lowers its head in an attempt to bite her friend. The sword crashes down on its head. There is a muffled crunch of brittle, old bone and a glass eye is knocked loose to bounce onto the floor [7 damage puts it at 8hp; its attack rolls are a miserable 6, 4, and 6; sometimes it's nice to know that it doesn't only happen to PCs].
Lycinia steps in closer, intending to behead the thing with a well-placed backhanded swing. She is rewarded for her bravado with claws raking her neck and the beak nearly biting through her gauntlet [8 damage in total drops her to 8hp]. And she gets in Théscine's way.
Théscine manoeuvres round Lycinia and strikes out at the thing's neck. The head comes away, but the beast still rears up to attack [3 damage reduces it to 5hp]. Lycina takes advantage of its posture and delivers a solid blow to its side, splintering the wooden frame holding it together [5 damage destroys it]. The owlbear falls over in a particularly sad heap.
"Watch out!" shrieks Efalgyt suddenly, as he assumes a defencive posture. "Oh, how embarrassing. Was it a long fight?"
The elves cannot but smirk at the poor wizard, though Théscine's ribs are too sore to laugh. Each of them downs the healing elixir they have been given [Lycinia is back to 14hp, Théscine back to her full 9].
A thorough search of the room reveals nothing of value, but Théscine does find a part of the wall which pivots, allowing entry to a secret room beyond. Even she must duck to get through it.
The room beyond the secret door [room 3] is a bit larger than the trophy room, with wooden doors -- again seeming untouched by time and the elements -- on three sides. It is otherwise bare, save for an ornately carved obelisk in the centre.
Efalgyt studies the incised marks down the side of the obelisk for a while, then finally says, "it's a warning... not to distur...b the tomb." The elves look closely, but cannot see anything resembling writing at all. They shrug, and Efalgyt responds, "Well, it wouldn't be a tomb without a warning like that, I suppose." They decide to press on.
Opening the eastern door reveals a [room 4] short passage ending in a heavy door with iron bands. Lycinia takes a cautious step forward and feels the floor collapse underneath her. She jumps back just in time [saves vs. Paralyzation] to avoid falling in to a deep pit. Examining the door from across the pit, she isn't at all sure it will even open.
The door on the western side of the chamber leads to a storeroom [room 5], which seems to have held food and drink for the king to take into the afterlife. It possibly smells even worse then the trophy room, and no one feel particularly interested in rifling through its contents.
Behind the northern door is a low-ceilinged corridor leading east and west much farther than Lycinia's torch can cast its light. The elves look to Efalgyt for a suggestion. "Well," opines the wizard, "the mythology of the hill people pl...aces the land of the dead to the west. Perhaps that w...ay will hold the burial chamber."
They advance to the west down the long passage. Lycinia and Théscine must often pause to allow Efalgyt to catch up. The passage eventually turns back on itself in a sort of squared-off spiral, and in the centre is another large room with rough stone walls [room 6].
This is evidently the treasury, though the fine fabrics and rich tapestries have long since mouldered away. In a low trough, however, silver coins glitter in the torchlight.
[room contents - treasure only: 9000sp. Protected by a gas trap: fear gas, save vs. magic or flee.]
"We can come back for these lat--" begins Efalgyt, but this time he is not cut off by the curse freezing him in place. This room, unlike all the rest, smells faintly of cinnamon; a not at all unpleasant and indeed welcome change. But as the three all breathed deeply of the fragranced air, they unknowingly inhaled the magical gas hanging in the atmosphere of the treasury. The magic took immediate hols, and filled them all with praeternatural dread of the treasure. When the elves have come back to their senses, they are back in the obelisk room, out of breath from their panicked flight [saving throws were 4, 9, and 4!].
"Oh, hells," curses Théscine, "the wizard..."
They duck back into the hall. As if on cue, they hear the patter of footsteps, then silence, then the footsteps start up again. The frightened wizard is soon back in the torchlight. "Thank you," he pants, "for coming back with... the light."
The eastern corridor turns sharply to the north, rises about 10' then descends for 20' before emptying out into an immense tholos tomb [room 7] with a deep well in the centre.
As the explorers peer down into the well, straining to make out the bottom in the torchlight, they do not notice a spectral shape coalescing behind them, until one of its skeletal hands grabs Efalgyt by the shoulder. His flesh begins to wither under the phantom's touch [PCs surprised, Efalgyt takes 7 damage, leaving him with 19 hp. I rolled 25hp for the monster].
No. Enc.: 1
Movement: 150' (50')
Armour Class: 14/7
Hit Dice: 5+2
Treasure Type: Nil
Undead, high intelligence, only hit by silver/magic, destroyed by holy water
[round 1 - PCs win initiative]
Théscine summons the magic within her to throw a shower of green sparks at the phantom, which whizz around the helpless wizard and cause the spectralform to waver [8 damage drops it to 17hp]. Lycinia slashes at it with her blade, hoping to dislodge its diaphanous claw, but the sword passes harmlessly through the ghost. Poor Efalgyt has frozen again, and the necrosis spreads underneath the phantom's grasping hand (5 damage drops him to 14hp].
Théscine goes for its arm with her magical blade. The sword slices right through it as did Lycinia's but leaves a ripple in the shape as it loses some coherence. It darts back its hand from the wizard's shoulder as if in pain [2 damage put it at 15hp]. Lycinia draws her silver dagger [-2 to hit this round for drawing; she misses] as Efalgyt snaps suddenly into action. He whirls about, waving his arm in a gesture of power. A crimson flash erupts from the circle described by his hand, tearing through the phantom which dissipates with a screech [he cast Magic Missile; 10d4 = 26 damage].
After the battle, Lycinia lights a second torch and throws it down the well, which proves to be only 30' deep. The elves carefully descend using a rope and grappling hook, Efalgyt levitates downward by means of his magic.
The skeleton of the high king lies exposed on a slab of stone. Time has not been kind to the king; all his finery has rotted away, and even some of his jewelry has corroded and fallen in to the dirt. But a few pieces still glitter, as does his sword. The eyes of the two elves glitter back when they behold the treasure, but they make no move towards it.
"I don't think we should be taking all this," says Théscine.
"Suddenly I feel like a grave robber," adds Lycinia, "and not in a good way."
"Nonsense," answers Efalgyt. "High King Gaen Cuhilluthan was a wicked man in life, and it is said he murdered all the wizards who had laboured to prepare this tomb for him."
"So who gets first pick?" ask the elves in unison.
[The treasure tables for the random tombs are a bit excessive, so I reduced the value of the gems & jewellery to 1/10 what I rolled. This still resulted in--
Gems: 1x 1000sp, 3x 50sp
Jewellery: 3000sp total
Misc. Magic table II: this will be the torc.]
Magic item: sword - I keep rolling +2/+3 vs. Lycanthropes; I've come up with a different version of this rather than the standard B/X jobbie. I was saving it for something special but I might as well get it into play now.
Also -- Q: Does Efalgyt keep his word? Likely: 25, Yes.
The golden rings and bracelets and the three small opals are split evenly. Efalgyt claims the torc as it was the object of his quest. Théscine takes the enormous emerald as the sword is obviously magical, and she already has one. The three do admire the sword in the torchlight for a few moments. The long blade is broad and sharp, and gleams like silver. The hilt is all of the same metal, ornately worked, and the pommel is in the shape of a man's head, with long hair and beard. "It almost looks like you, Efalgyt," laughs Théscine, "only angrier."
Having completely denuded the wicked king of riches, the three carefully ascend the rope and exit the tomb. Once outside, the two elves take hold of his cloak,and in the blink of an eye they are standing on the gleaming marble steps of the magnificent elven temple in their forest home. News of the arrival flies from mouth to mouth, and the temple attendants come running, curious to meet the returning elves, and hear tell of their great Quest.