The Star Mounts are a boat ride north from Amanitas' place, although I had to pause before actually reaching the place to get this shot for reasons.
And also for snakes.
"I think I see why they don't have many birds around here."
Despite being giant, the snakes are not terribly threatening. They could very well be poisonous, but they're inaccurate enough that it's not much of a problem. If they were, however, we'd be in some serious trouble since nobody in the group has access to Neutralize Poison.
For unknown reasons they also drop a huge amount of leather armor when they're defeated. Perhaps because they're snakes? Or perhaps because of who they ate speaking of which!
"Nature can be so cruel sometimes."
"Never mind that, I think that bird has fingers at the ends of its wings! That might actually be a person!"
In addition to the various snakes, we've also got Shambling Mounds for the first time in the game. They've got an absurdly low armor class, and take half damage from piercing and slashing weapons and no damage from bludgeoning weapons. They take no damage from fire, half damage (none with a good saving throw) from cold, and get an additional HD for every lightning spell used against them. They can also engulf characters, which will kill them in a few rounds if the shambler isn't killed. These things are actually enhanced versions of the standard entries from the Monstrous Manual, which only have an AC of 0.
They also drop a huge pile of magical loot to go along with the leather armor from the snakes, which are evidently also occasionally magical. The loot is prime, as well, with the plate mail being +3, the composite longbows being +2, and the cloaks being cloaks of displacement. The shields are +1, and the Ioun Stones are apparently wisdom enhancers.
"Ooh, dragons! Take us, please!"
"Forget about that, what kind of maniac designs a place around their own initials?"
"I think you'd have a hard time stopping some of us from going even if you weren't offering us a ride."
"No problem guys, thanks for the lift. And watch out for snakes."
"You're being pretty optimistic by assuming there's another safe place within the mountain."
"I think I'm in lust. You all can go back, I'll handle this one by myself. If I don't come back, a search party would only be interrupting."
"Nice try, but we're coming with. You can go in and distract her while we rummage through her strongboxes for the Statue."
"Well, that door didn't take long to find at all."
"Wrong door! Wrong door! Bad puppy!"
"Okay, you're probably right there "
"Well, this one's not much better but at least those sound like feathered wings instead of dragon wings."
"You wouldn't think that griffins and dragons would actually get alon wait a second, there's something else here!"
Surprise Medusa. It's a choice as to whether or not to put on silver shields for this one, but if you move quickly enough you can put an end to the medusa before it gets a gaze attack off.
"Something tells me she wouldn't be taunting us if we were actually going the right way but there might be loot here."
"We might just have to check in both directions to be safe. And kill anything we find, of course."
"She's going to have a hard time riding you into battle when you've been turned into a deluxe set of dragon scale armor."
Black dragons still look intimidating, but with our spells and magic weapons they're not really that dangerous unless they use their breath weapon. You only have to kill one, however, because as soon as you do and the second one gets a chance to act...
"Ych messy. Y'know, we could have talked that out."
"Hmm. So, is she actually watching us or are these set spells that activate when we pass them?"
"I would feel awful about barging into your house, if you weren't a bunch of homicidal murder-beasts."
"That does relieve us of some of the responsibility, yes."
"Thank you for sharing now, how could we add a Z to that pattern?"
"Good news I don't see a cliff for them to commit suicide with."
"What came first, the Ceptienne or the dragons?"
"A good question, but it's a pretty sure bet that she was involved in bringing these ogres here."
By far the least dangerous thing in this dungeon. And they're loaded down with heavy silver to slow us down.
"You've got to be kidding me . we walked right past this place on the way to the rest of the crap we've been dealing with."
"Hopefully the rest of them aren't nearly as well hidden."
"If we're counting, I think that's 10 doors left and man, I have to wonder how the griffons felt about being locked up in here."
"Wait, hell hounds can talk?"
"I think that's the ogres with them but either way, none of them are going to be talking anymore."
"Ygh, and I thought that the rooms where the griffons were in smelled bad."
"I'm just hoping that the griffons didn't have anything to do with their conception, because I really don't want to imagine that."
Harpies are pathetically weak, but they have a natural ability to charm characters and can make battles hectic. You can fix this with dispel magic, but we only have so many third level spell charges. It's much easier to just kill them quickly.
"Ceptienne, darling, don't be this way. Can't we talk?"
"Geeze, how many visitors does she get that she felt the need to keep these many monsters around? They can't be cheap to feed."
More medusas. This is a pretty good place to drop a fireball spell or two, and it turns out that hell hounds aren't even fire resistant.
"If the ogres make you worried about the origins of the harpies, the good news is that now that I think about it they actually reproduce without need for males at all."
"I'd say that we're definitely getting close, judging by her reaction."
A few steps further...
"Yeah, I think we've struck a nerve. Pucker up, Zanros. You're gonna have to talk quickly."
"Unfortunately, I don't think she's going to listen to sweet reason."
Ceptienne is just past that illusion, and is accompanied by a representative sample of all the female monsters in the area. She's also right in the front row where Kedzie can get a good swing at her, which means she doesn't even get a spell off.
She drops a good sample of loot once she's been dealt with, including a wand that would have been REALLY useful dealing with those shambling mounds. The Necklace of Missiles contains three charges of fireball that are actually just as powerful as what our mages can throw.
"You know, I don't even know how the Zhentarim would have been able to get up here and get this one. Anyway, let's beat it."
"That'd be great. And you might want to move in here, now that we've cleaned out the nasties. It's kinda cozy."
One uneventful trip back later...
"Besides, I wouldn't even consider that. Nothing good comes from a talking weapon. Now, what are we supposed to do with all of these statues?"
"You mean we had all the time in the world before we got that last statue? We should have spent more time enjoying ourselves before it was time to go save the Savage Frontier."
Levels for Galen, Kedzie, and Krevish. With this and the awesome equipment from the shambling mounds are party has taken a huge step forward and is now a brick wall for ordinary encounters to shatter themselves against. Not to worry, though, as the game will try it's best to throw something challenging at us in the last two updates.
Next update: Illusions of a dead city.