Sunday, 12 April 2015
LotFP Solo - Part the Fifty-Sixth: „Nur der Irrthum ist das Leben / Und das Wissen ist der Tod“
setup: casting speak with dead on head of wizard (in the abandoned church)
Frère Ambrosius gives last rights to Orst whilst Gerdie and Emmeline are busy lighting candles. Lycinia finds a still-serviceable chair and deposits the wizard's rotten head atop it. She waits until the cleric has finished his obsequies and Manfred has mostly stopped sobbing to address the assembly.
"We were expecting a spellbook, but there wasn't one," she says.
"Just that flask," answers Gerdie.
"Right. This scroll," says Lycinia, holding up the reddish-purple parchment she took from the defeated cultists, "has a spell should allow us to get the information we need from our wizard friend over there. But depending on how long hes been dead, we'll only get one question, or two if we're lucky."
"Well according to the date on the grave marker," says Manfred, snapping suddenly out of his misery, "he's only been in the ground a year."
"Splendid!" says Lycinia, "But we should decide our questions in advance. We only have two."
"If I may interject," says the confessor heavily, "I am rather uncomfortable at the thought of this necromantic ritual. Though I allow it is necessary, I feel I cannot fully condone it. Might I at least request that it not be performed within this sacred edifice?"
Lycinia brings the chair with the skull on it outside and sets it down on a level bit of the path. The others gather round her and watch as she chants the strange rhythmical syllables of the invocation written on the old parchment [casts Speak with Dead. She can ask 2 questions since Zarhusvosstek has been dead less than one year. He does get to save vs. spells, but fails (rolling a 5!)].
Lycinia lowers the now nearly-blank scroll. For a few moments it seems as if the magic had failed to work. Then a grating voice issues forth from the maggoty skull. "Who dares call me back from the eternal Void?"
"It is I who shall ask the questions," states Lycinia firmly. "The cult which plagues the house of the Marquess of Limenne has summoned a frightful creature from beyond. What is this thing?"
"It is a mindless horror of filth and putrescence. They draw their power from its corruption, and mistake this for enlightenment. It is a slow poison! It will consume them all from within! They worship it as a god. Yet this monstrous foulness is no more a god than you or I! [UNE: insane-turmoil-power]"
"So how do we kill it?"
"Burn it with cleansing flames! The brazen flask within my tomb contains a creature of raw elemental fire; a trap for would be thieves! Unstopper it beneath the beast, and run before one or the other devour you. [UNE: insane-chaos-weapons]"
And so saying, the skull falls silent forever.
setup: back to town for healing (two unaltered scenes in a row!)
The party spends the night in the church. In the morning the cleric performs some curative magic. They walk back to Threeder's Mill, where they receive more healing from the waiting priest. They decide to rest up there.
setup: Interrupt (was: head back for final confrontation) NPC Negative - Gerdie - Trust / Enemies
At eventide the party are relaxing in the inn's common room. Manfred and Lycinia are keeping Lady Margiste and Emmeline (respectively) under close wraps. Frère Ambrosius is nearby, but mostly lost in quiet contemplation of the missal he salvaged from the ruined church. Gerdie, on the other hand, takes great delight in carousing with the locals. In contrast to her more distrustful companions, she is happily engaged in drinking and dancing with all and sundry. Thus it is that Gerdie accepts a drink from the wrong bloke...
[Somebody slips something in her beer. She will need to Save vs. (1-3 poison, 4-6 magic; 4) magic or suffer the full effects of the horror. She rolls a 1 for her save; the d30 Phenomena table comes up with: Transformation. I rolled her up as a random monster using her level (3) as the base hit dice.]
Suddenly Gerdie starts to cough and choke. She drops her half-empty mug on the floor, spilling beer everywhere. The music and laughter stop as one of the farmers rushes to her aid, thumping her on the back. She doubles over in pain, and then a terrible change starts to come over her. She begins to swell, her limbs and torso thickening, her skin turning purple and distended. Her clothes shred as she bloats to thrice her normal size. She throws her head back in pain, and then a long and sinewy column erupts out of her mouth toward the ceiling; it seems to be made of an implausible number of vertebrae, and the tip bristles with bony spines. The rest of her head collapses in a rubbery mass. One of her eyes shrivels, the other falls out on a long red nerve, and begins to loll round on its stalk of its own accord.
HD: 6+1 (31hp)
Attacks: 1 thrasher, gaze
Damage: 1-10, special
Notes: each attack is against a (probably) separate random target each round.
Gaze attack stuns 1-8rds (save v. paralyzation or suffer -4 to hit, -4 AC, -4 saving throws, movement reduced to 1/3 (Stun effect as per D&D Rules Cyclopedia))
[Surprise round + Round 0]
The spiny bone thrasher whirls about angrily, smashing the life out of the nearest patron at the bar, who falls to the ground as his bones -- and the wooden stool upon which he sat -- are splintered [10 damage dropped the 0-level human to -8hp]. There is a general panic as most everyone begins to flee the building. Even Lady Margiste and Frère Ambrosius rush out in the general tumult [failed Morale], leaving only three of their companions to face the unearthly monster.
Moments later the room is nearly deserted. A single peasant is still running for the door, having been caught by the dreadful gaze of the wandering, beady eye. Lycinia, Manfred, and Emmeline stand firm, swords drawn, as the Gerdie-thing plods forth furiously to meet them.
CH CN DX IN ST WI ML AC HP
Lycinia 11 14 16 16 15 9 -- 14 16 sword
Manfred 5 17 8 12 12 10 8 11 30 rapier
Emmeline 16 11 8 14 8 9 7 11 4 rapier
[round 1 - it wins initiative]
The Gerdie-thing's spiky protuberance overextends as the beast shambles forward. It catches Lycinia by surprise, but only tears a bit of flesh out of her shoulder [3 damage puts her at 13hp]. Emmeline is caught in the gaze of the horrible eye, but she looks away just in time [saves vs. paralyzation]; though as she does so, she loses her opportunity to strike back [missed]. Manfred has to duck very low to avoid the whirling spines, and nearly falls on his face [also missed]. Lycinia lashes out with her silvery sword; the blade strikes true, and perforates the thing's distended hide. A gritty, yellow gelatin-like substance oozes forth from the wound [6 damage puts it at 25hp].
Lycinia parries the bony spines [it misses], but the force of the impact nearly wrenches the sword from her hand, and half twists her round as she fights to keep a grip on it. She staggers several feet to recover her equilibrium [she missed]. The roving eye glares at Manfred, but he is unshakable in his resolve [saves] and lops off the lower half of the Gerdie-thing's swollen arm. More of the sandy goo plops out of the stump into a quivering mass on the floor [7 damage drops it to 18hp]. Emmeline lunges forward like a champion fencer, skewering the beast through the midsection [7 damage leaves it with 11hp].
But as Emmeline retracts her rapier, the spiny appendage swings at her in greater fury. The spikes crash down upon the crown of her head, and come away covered in blood and hair. She falls back over a chair, bloody fluid oozing from the top of her shattered skull [9 damage drops her to -5hp]. Manfred is shocked by the death of one he's known so long, and his feeble riposte is knocked away by the flailing appendage [miss]. Lycinia scarcely notices what has transpired; for she has met the gaze of the sickly eye, and her whole perception vibrates and shudders as if under the spell of powerful drugs [failed save, Stunned for 3 rounds]. She swings her sword weakly, the air dragging against her like water. The blade barely comes within three paces of her adversary [missed even without the -4 to hit penalty].
The bony spines swing right for Manfred's face. At the last second he brings up his sword, and the thrasher ricochet off the basket hilt [miss]. Fortunately blocking his face also saved him from the staring eye [makes his save], though he cannot muster a decent attack [missed]. Lycinia is still reeling, and swings in a wide arc nowhere near the beast. But as she stumbles trying to recover from the swing, she slashes across its shoulder in a lucky backhand stroke, causing a nasty seeping wound [rolled a natural 20; 5 damage lowers it to 6hp].
As Lycinia staggers backwards, the spiky appendage whistles through the air before her, ripping just a tiny hole in her tunic [roll 3+6=9 vs. ac 14-4=10 just missed]. The eye yet glowers at Manfred, who avoids its gaze [saves again]. Neither he nor the confused elf can get anywhere close to the flailing beast [both miss].
Manfred is forced back as the spines leave many bloody punctures in his abdomen [9 damage leaves him with 21hp]. As he winces, he sees the eye, the terrible eye, which forces all other thoughts and sensations from his mind, so that only the eye remains [failed save, stunned 1 round]. He forgets to raises his sword against the creature, for who can think of battle when there is the eye [missed]. Lycinia feels her vision clear and her limbs become her own once more. She stabs cruelly at the Gerdie-thing, and opens a deep and dripping wound in its centre [5 damage drops it to 1hp].
It strikes back in anger at the elf who hurt it, but only bloodies her knee [2 damage puts her at 11hp]. The eye holds Manfred's rapt attention [fails another save, stunned 8 rounds]. The eye is his master. The eye is his god. The eye is his soul... "NO!" shouts Manfred, as he suddenly remembers himself. He lunges, lunges straight for the thrice-damned eye, and buries his rapier up to the hilt in the body of the creature. The thrashing spine jerks once and flops over. The rest of the corpse starts to deflate, collapsing into a gruesome pile of flesh, leaking a viscous jelly.
Lycinia runs to the fallen Emmeline, kneels beside her, takes her in her arms and tries to rock her gently awake. She whispers some soft words of elvish in the dead girl's ear, earnestly repeating her entreaty several times until she can no longer deny poor Emmeline's decease.
Lycinia's screams can be heard even outside.
setup: Altered (was: head back for final confrontation)
Manfred storms out of the inn, gory sword still in hand. The crowd of villagers looks expectantly to him for information, but he ignores them in favour of addressing his sister. "See if you can reason with her," he says. "I tried to get near, but she went for her sword and hissed at me."
Lady Margiste timidly goes inside, already steeling herself against the scene she knows she shall see. She walks slowly and deliberately through the upturned furniture and broken crockery. Lycinia starts when she sees her, but Lady Margiste meets her gaze. As the elf's expression softens, the girl loses all resolve, and she collapses to her knees in tears. She crawls over through the muck, and the two of them tearfully cradle the dead Emmeline.
Outside, Manfred is mustering the villagers to action. He orders two funeral pyres built, one for Emmeline and the slain villager, another for the thing-that-was-Gerdie. As they were all slain by unnatural evil, there must be no chance of any remaining -- or returning. He also organises a work detail to pull up part of the inn's floor; everything polluted by the foulness shall be burnt. The confessor and the village priest will watch over him and the elf tonight, lest their wounds develop into something unholy.
Manfred waits as long as he can stand it, then goes back into the inn to confront the two in mourning. He is pleased to find them calmly and rationally discussing the revenge they shall take on the cultists.
[Q: Did the poisoner slip away unnoticed? Unlikely: 66, Yes +Event - NPC Negative - cook - Cruelty / Weapons]
As the villagers hurry about their tasks, the body of the cook is found, run through with spears, and propped up between buildings. Her body is added to the pyre.