Part 17: Its Okay Because Theyre Evils Okay Because Theyre Evil
Did I ever tell you about the time I died in the first session of a 7th Seas campaign?
Isnt death supposed to be impossible without consent in that game?
So its not just me, right? So heres how it starts: its my first year after transferring colleges, and I see theyve got an RPG club. Good place to make friends and meet some like-minded folks, right? Of course, when I get there, it turns out to be mostly a front for a bunch of graduates and dropouts to keep playing their long-ass campaigns in a nice venue. I mean, Ive been in a long-ass campaign, I can respect that, and Ive lived in a dinky one-room apartment, too, but come on guys, you look kind of pathetic.
Still, there were a few people there I had met earlier, plus there were a few new games starting up, so I stuck around. I saw a 7th Seas campaign starting up, I never played that before, and I admit, I was getting pretty into it during character creation. A little of the old Yo Ho Ho, a little Errol Flynn, that sort of thing. The GM told me to knock it off, and I did, but I guess that wasnt enough for her.
So my character concept was basically a deserter from the Fantasy English Navy. I figured, you know, Age of Conscription, press gangs everywhere, whos gonna miss one little deserter? Well, apparently they missed me a great fucking deal, because just about the first thing that happens after we get off the boat in Fantasy Italy is half the goddamn police force jumps me, and two failed rolls later, Im caught. None of the other PCs care enough to mount a Daring Rescue, so thats it, stick a fork in.
I found out later that apparently one of the other players had literally sold me out since their next destination was Fantasy England (and if Id known that, thered have been a couple changes to my character sheet), and the others didnt want to be seen with a deserter. Given how glad the GM was to hear I wouldnt be coming back, I get the feeling that, under other circumstances, the wording would have changed only slightly.
Still, I learned my lesson from that experience: I never joined another campaign at that club again. Enough about my old shitty sessions. On to Bobs shitty sessions!
Ha, ha. Now, as I recall, you were going back to town to identify your loot and read Romags diary.
Hold on, arent we forgetting something?
I could have sworn there was one group of enemies we walked past without murdering. We should probably get to that before proceeding to the second floor.
Lets see oh, there was a group of gnolls you passed by earlier. I dont think you ever doubled back to kill them.
In that case, its time to get our murder on. Buffs up, everyone! Suzie, start us off.
This combat was a good example of the benefits of preparation. The first time I tried it, things werent going too well and Hardboot got crushed by an ogre. The second time, however, I liberally sprinkled all those lovely up arrows on everyone, and the gnolls didnt know what hit them. The screenshot above shows off a couple new spells: first, theres Ice Storm, which deals a set amount of Bludgeoning and Cold damage to anyone who enters the affected region for a single round. The second is Spike Growth, which deals 1d4 damage for each 5 feet walked to each creature, plus they have to save versus Reflex or drop to half speed.
Anyway, enough description. Just assume a bunch of inventory juggling and spell selection goes here.
So did you finish reading the diary, Lewis?
Yes. Essentially, the four Elemental Temples are at each others throats. Thats good news for us, since it means they wont interfere as we cut them all down one by one, though I assume it would mean something more if we had decided to help one of the Temples instead. In terms of power levels, the order seems to start with Earth as the strongest, followed by Water, then Fire, and finally Air as a distant fourth. Theres also the Greater Temple to consider.
The actual leaders of the Temple of Elemental Evil. You didnt think the whole place was divided against itself, did you? The infighting is really more of a way of proving oneself to the actual movers and shakers. If one of the Elements were completely defeated, the Greater Temple would probably just rebuild it. Still, it sounds like the Elemental Temples consider the Greater Temple to simply be another faction. I wonder if the Greater Temple feels the same?
Oh, I bet theyll all feel the same once were done with em. I got my Wand of Fireballs, I got us some more upgrade goodies, so how about we get going?
Very well. Welcome, folks, to the Temple of Elemental Evil, Level 2. By the patterns on the floor, it appears that Fire lies to your right, Water to your left, and Air is straight on. Which way do you go?
Past the large troll, you see one that towers over even its fellows. The troll stands in a room lined with skulls, presumably trophies the troll chief collected over the years. With a deep, booming voice, the chief addresses you. WHO DARES DISTURB THE GREAT AND UGLY TROLL CHIEF OOHLGRIST!
Why are you looking at me?
YOU STAND IN FRONT! YOU SURELY IN CHARGE?!
Ugh, fine. Fear me, troll guy, for I am Big. McLargeHuge.
GREAT CHIEF SHALL SPARE *cough, cough* Man, I cant keep that voice up. Great Chief shall spare your life if you pay small ransom, Big McLargeHuge.
Well, fuck you, buddy.
Roll Intimidation Oh, I see. Um, go away, and Great Ugly Troll Chief spare you.
What, just like that? Some ransom.
Great Chief not hungry, and Great Chief have other things to do. Go away.
Oh, really? And whatll you give us for going away?
Roll Intimidate again hot damn. You realize your gnome only comes up to his knee, right? Er, Great Chief too busy for this nonsense. Great Chief make deal. Great Chief give you a ruby necklace if you go away. Here. You go now!
Ooh, isnt this sounding familiar all of a sudden? Bob, move Meleny and her panda to block the exits. We wont want to be interrupted.
That reminds me, Bob. Shes past level 5 now, and so she should probably be spending most of her time as a brown bear at this point.
Wouldnt that be too easy, though?
Oh, if only it were. I dont quite understand why, but theres some sort of bug that slows Bear Meleny down to something like 5-10 feet per round, even though brown bears can normally move faster than most player characters. As such, it becomes almost impossible to get her into melee combat, which is the biggest reason to turn her into a bear in the first place. She also deals nonlethal damage normally with natural weapons, even though there are explicit rules countering this, which confused the hell out of me. Dont expect to see her as a bear too often after this update.
Oohlgrist runs past the fighters and moves to attack Hardboot, who rather obviously appears to be a Wizard. Hes no idiot, you know.
Well, Im no idiot, either. I take a 5-foot step back and cast Invisibility on myself. Good luck killing me now, asshole!
Whoops, looks like the north troll succeeded in killing the panda bear.
Kung Fu, no!
Im up next, correct? Ill move to hold the north door. The rest of you can manage this without my help.
Oohlgrist is down, but thanks to his Regeneration, not out. Garrett goes next.
Can I finish him off with a Coup de Grace?
Yes, I believe so.
(Dont you need a weapon that deals lethal damage to off a Regenerator?)
I heard that. And yeah, normally you do, but this module is prepared to throw trolls at you as early as on the journey to Nulb, where you basically have no hope of having enough fire weapons, so I decided to cut you guys some slack.
Two dead normal trolls later
So what stats does the bone armor have?
Its basically a suit of Full Plate Mail that Druids can use, assuming they take Heavy Armor Proficiency.
A shame our resident Druid doesnt have nearly enough strength for it, plus its not quite as good as my Full Plate now that Hal has enchanted it to +2. Should be worth enough to sell, at least.
And while the prisoner looks especially shady, he is quite clearly suffering from the effects of multiple beatings.
How many of these prisoners are we gonna find before the end?
I untie him and ask him what happened.
*Cough* My great thanks, stranger. You have given me hope when I thought none was left. I have been imprisoned down here with these two merchants for months. It was not so bad at first but then the beatings began.
How were you all imprisoned?
The merchants angered a man from Nulb, by the name of Wat, and were captured in the night. As for me, I came to this Temple in search for lost treasures. I was doing well for myself until I reached the Fire Temple, where I accidentally set off the alarm and got captured. Their leader, Alrrem, is quite insane, by the way.
Well, youll be glad to hear that we have come both to rob the Temple of all its worth and slay the evildoers who seek to see it rise again.
Well, in that case, Id love to join you if youll have me. Id appreciate wreaking some havoc down here.
Ive forgotten just how many of these NPCs can join the party. I dont think well have him, though; as I recall, hes surprisingly low leveled for this deep in the main dungeon.
He and the merchants thank you again, then make for the exit.
Well, lets see whats behind door number 2.
I have no idea why my only two options are so mean-spirited. I know the party is only Chaotic Neutral, but Josephus is Chaotic Good, and the Chaotic Good vignette is aimed at finding and freeing these very elves.
She explains with some pride that she is Countess Tillahi, imprisoned here with her consort, Sir Juffer.
A pleasure to meet you, dear lady, though it is under such unfortunate circumstances.
Shes grateful for the rescue, although she seems upset that it took so long. She asks you if you had spoken with Black Jay, who resides in Hommlet?
Lets see *flip* *flip* Oh, right, hes the one who had hemlock dropped in his sheep pasture.
Old Emo dude! Ha, I remember him!
Yes, well, the Countess had been visiting him when they passed the Moathouse on their way back home. Unfortunately, when they skirted around the building, to avoid the residents, they fell into an ambush and wound up here.
Sudden tone shift much, game?
Your people must miss you dearly by now. Here, now, I shall set you free!
She promises to arrange for a reward once she makes it home, then leaves, following the directions you gave her.
Oh, a Carrion Crawler! I havent seen one of those since that first dungeon we were all in back in high school.
Yeah, I remember killing it in one blow then, too.
At least it was more impressive, then. We were all only 1st level back then.
How packed are they? Id say its time to break in my new Wand of Fireballs.
Three for four! Oh, Wand, you and me are going to do some damage, I can just tell.
That was enough to bring Meleny to level 7 now, which means she gets 4th level spells. I think shell go with Flame Strike, always a favorite, as well as Blight.
I thought that was only good against plant monsters.
Itll get more useful as you go down the floors, trust me.
And just beyond the fallen bandit, you sense something off about the wall. Its a secret door!
Whats behind it?
A room full of dudes!
Not for long.
Screw the haters, heres why I loves me some Fireball: this is the initiative order before the Fireball hits home
And here it is afterwards. Keep in mind that Dying (as opposed to Dead) enemies still take up a grayed position on the initiative order.
The Commander looks around at the pile of dead bodies where his minions used to be, and cries out for a surrender.
We may as well see what hes got to offer us this time.
We are bandits, this is true, and in the service of His High Holiness Hedrack himself. What is your business here?
Looting, maiming, slaying evil because we can totally get away with it, the usual.
I see. I am Feldrin, the leader of this band of men and half-orcs. As you have bested me in combat, I am compelled to yield this area to you.
Whats this, some minions not stupid enough to fight the adventurers to death for once? Will wonders never cease? So what good is this guy? What can he offer us?
Feldrin can show you exactly where the three Elemental Temples are on this levelreluctantlyand he also goes on about the Greater Temple and the rise of its mistress, the Lady of Fungi.
Woo, fungus, best of all gods right there. Does he have anything actually valuable or not?
Well he does have a SMOKEBOMB!
This part is kind of annoying. Once you start asking the commander questions, you cant go back and try and kill him, and instead he fades away, never to return, leaving you to face his mutinous lieutenant and whatever remnants of their forces are left.
So its not a total loss, at least.
Plus you get plenty of goodies from his chest here.
Then there was the fight with the ogres and an ogre shaman (not to be confused with the much more dangerous ogre magi)
And even though the Wand of Fireballs only killed one ogre, the other two were so damaged that Alistor took them out with a Sound Burst. How embarrassing.
I cant believe we spent all night wandering around the 2nd floor and didnt find a single one of those Temple things.
Well, we have the locations now, so we should be able to prepare for the hardest fights on this level. Ill try and think up some strategies before next week, and well take them all on one after the other.