Part 14: Filling in the Gaps 4: Neraka, Silver Dragons, Tanis Half-Elven, and More MagicFilling in the Gaps 4: Neraka, Silver Dragons, Tanis Half-Elven, and More Magic
It's been a crowded two updates, so there's a couple of things to talk about before we continue on with the story. First up, we'll tackle a bit of what might have been.
Neraka - The Maze
In the last update dealing with Neraka, I mentioned that you don't necessarily have to take Maya's help. You can walk to Neraka on your own, but if you do you end up...
Here. Neraka actually has two entrances, and you'll always go to this one if you don't have Maya with you. This section comprises three quarters of Neraka's above ground layout, and it's an enormous pain in the ass. Lots of small, twisty corridors, doors, and plenty of things to turn you around so you keep wandering in to random encounters. Also, there are no safe resting places.
There are two hidden guard posts like this, situated near the exits so that the draconians can jump out on people who think they're going to escape. They're not huge or terribly dangerous...
But they do include Kapaks, so there's a chance that one of your characters will get paralyzed and then knocked down to unconscious like Sam did in this screen shot. There are also creepy notes that can be found at various places, showing that this whole show is set up and run by the Prison Lord for his own amusement. Presumably he just likes being told about it after the fact.
There are also a few more hints about Sir Lebaum and the undead issue. If you think about it, it's kind of silly since it's not like he'd miss a single corpse but I suppose if corpse production slows down, it's good to have some scapegoats prepared.
In addition to the more intelligent guards, there's also at least one area with a nice clutch of monsters hanging about. It's one more way to grind down your resources, especially since it includes venomous giant centipedes.
A few people are stuck in the maze even as you enter it, but they are too far gone to actually be helped. You can't even do so much as point them toward the exit and say "Don't worry, we killed everything between here and the door. Get moving."
In addition to the hidden guard posts, there are also three points where you'll run into groups like these. They're similarly non-threatening, but keep in mind that this is already a total of 6 scripted encounters plus whatever random encounters you manage to trigger.
For added cruelty, there's one door like this .
Behind which lies a single green dragon. It's a death sentence for a prisoner, but still pretty dangerous for us. Especially in cramped conditions when only one or two party members can hit it. Since green dragons are noted for their cruelty, this arrangement probably appeals to the creature.
Finally, one of the prisoners lost in the maze gives you a clue about the jewelry and gems that we went after while freeing prisoners from the various torture chambers. It's a bit irrelevant since we already took care of it, but it's a nice touch.
At this point, if we had done this area first we could have still found the secret base and continued on. Without Maya we'd have had a bit more annoyance with the random encounters, but the scene with Sir Karl would have played out about the same. The only difference would be that Maya wouldn't take off afterward. Instead, if we came back later we'd have found that the body was gone. One thing to note is that once you've found out about the prisoners below, you can't back out without sentencing them all to death. If you leave without rescuing the prisoners, they're all killed and you basically get called a jerk. Anyway, speaking of Maya
Silver Dragons are the second most powerful type of metallic dragon, and are the ones that are closest to mortals. They are shape-changers from birth, and often prefer to spend more time as humanoids and in mortal company than in their own shape. They are highly intelligent and can eventually learn wizard and priest spells. Silver dragons can either breath a cone of frost (similar to a white dragon's breath attack, but much more devastating), or a cloud of paralyzing gas. Silver dragons and red dragons tend to compete over the same nesting areas, and are bitter enemies.
Now for the creepy part Maya's armor class, HP, and size indicate that she's an Age Category 2. The same 6-15 year old dragons we've been dealing with in all the other colors. The fact that she will use magic missile spells on the enemy suggests that she's at least Age Category 4, however, which would put her at between 50-100 and thus close to Sir Karl's age. I'll give the developers the benefit of the doubt and say that they just didn't want to give you an incredibly overpowered ally. Given that you only get to keep her with you for about half a dozen minor fights, however, I think they could have just gone with it.
In the Dragonlance setting, silver dragons have been instrumental in helping arm humans to participate in wars against evil dragons. Huma, the knight who brought the Dragonlances to humanity the first time, had a silver dragon as a lover and fought with her in battle until they were both killed. More recently in the War of the Lance a silver dragon again helped provide the secret of the Dragonlance to humanity and attached herself to one of the side characters, an elven prince. Their story didn't end quite as tragically, but still wasn't entirely happy either.
We also ran into one of the Heroes of the Lance in the Neraka prisons, freeing the prisoners. Tanis (full name Tanthalas) Half-Elven is possibly the most respected of the Heroes of the Lance and was the leader of the group from the beginning. Tanis was the result of a highborn elven woman being raped, and was raised in elven society as part of the household of the Qualinesti leader. When Tanis was about 50 his childhood friend Laurana (full name Lauralanthalasa), the daughter of the Qualinesti leader, asked him to marry her. Tanis accepted out of spite, touching off a series of events that led to him foiling an assassination attempt on the entire Qualinesti royal house and then leaving town. His fiancé didn't consider this to mean that he had broken off the engagement.
Following the War of the Lance Tanis was made an honorary Knight of the Rose and granted awards from just about every civilized nation. In all fairness, he did kind of go into the enemy's stronghold and kill the leader of the Dragonarmies. He also married Laurana, and the two of them began working to promote peace between the various factions and ensure that the fragile alliance in the face of the Dragonarmies didn't fall apart afterward. This could provide an explanation as to what he's doing here in Neraka chasing down rumors. At this point, he's also more than a century old.
Spells - the Fourth Level
Now that we've got two characters at 7th level, we've reached the final tier of spells available in Champions. The spells are as follows:
Cure Serious Wounds - Hooray, our first new healing spell since Cure Light Wounds! This one heals more than twice as much, which is a good thing since our characters now have about 4 times as much HP as they did at first level. It's probably the best of the fourth level cleric spells.
Neutralize Poison - revives characters who have been killed by poison at 1 HP. Very handy, and it never hurts to have at least one memorized at all times. You can get by without it, though, since you can always rest and memorize it when you need it.
Protection from Evil 10' Radius - Same as the first level spell, only it affects everything adjacent to the target. There are better things to use a spell slot on.
Sticks to Snakes - creates magical snakes out of nearby snakes and uses them to keep the target from attacking or casting spells. I've never used this one, so it might be worthwhile but probably not as worthwhile as another healing spell.
Charm Monster (White) - makes any living creature switch to your side during a fight. Severely limited in that it will only affect one creature with more than 4 HD. Pretty good at turning large swarms of enemies against each other, though.
Confusion (White) - A little bit better. This spell affects between 2 and 16 targets, and each round the spell is in affect they have to make a saving throw or be subject to a random effect. Can essentially disable a large number of creatures at once.
Dimension Door (Red) - allows for rapid movement on the battlefield, letting mages teleport short distances to either make an escape or position themselves for a better shot at the enemy. This is less useful than it seems, since the mage will be done with their turn following the cast and will be essentially a sitting duck.
Fear (Red) - makes everything within its range flee in terror. This could be useful if the enemies can get away, but in confined areas just means that you'll have to chase them down.
Fire Shield (Red and White) - probably our first decent protective spell, fire shield causes any melee attacks to take twice the damage they cause in retaliation. It can be set to either hot or cold, providing half damage (none if a saving throw is made) and a +2 saving throw bonus against the opposite attack. Being able to nearly immunize yourself from fireballs is pretty priceless. Unfortunately, enemies will eventually use this too and that really causes problems.
Fumble (White) - have you gotten the idea that the white mage spells are kind of pacifistic? Fumble makes the target unable to move or attack, but they can save and only be affected by a slow spell. I suppose if you had nothing else to do, this would be a good option.
Ice Storm (Red and White) - causes 3-30 damage to all targets within the area of effect with no saving throw. Despite what you would think, the damage is actually non-elemental. That said, fireball and lightning bolt tend to overshadow it since they are scaled to your level. By the time you get this spell, those two are already doing 7-42 damage and can hit more targets. Still, this is the default spell to memorize.
Minor Glove of Invulnerability (White) - makes the caster immune from first, second, or third level spells. Really handy, but it does nothing to protect you physically. Enemy mages will eventually get this in later games, but for now it's good if you have any white mages.
Remove Curse (White) - an invaluable spell if you're not playing with a guide, this actually lets you get rid of cursed items should you be unlucky enough to equip them. Still not one to keep memorized, but definitely worth keeping around.