Friday, December 27, 2013

Realms Toowoomba Session # 38 [RPG]

[Flashback to 5 Kythorn 1372]

After several hours' ride, Markus realizes he's approaching the eastern edge of the Evermoors. In the distance, the tightly-packed trees of the Silverwood provide a welcome respite from the dreary grey moor. However, one last obstacle remains in Markus' path, as a quartet of rotting humanoid forms suddenly burst up from the ground. At first glance, they look like mere zombies, but the writhing mass of worms crawling in and through their skulls reveal them to be something far worse: Spawn of Myrkul!

Before Markus can react, one of the abominations spits a worm that flies through the air and lands on the adventurer's face. In seconds, it has crawled to the back of Markus' head and started to burrow its way into his skull! The arrival of other creatures spook Markus' steed. After enduring painful scratches from their bony claws, the horse rears up and gallops at full speed back to the west. Markus and his mount quickly leave the undead behind, but the damage has already been done. Markus feels the worm pierce his skin, and then start to gnaw through his skull! When the pain stops, the real danger starts: the supernatural worm has attached itself to his brain, and is draining away his intelligence and life force! Markus tries to remove the creature with his magic but fails, and as he grows more and more dazed and confused he opts for a cunning but spectacularly dangerous last resort: he sends his snake familiar to chase after the worm! Plunging its narrow head through the same wound in Markus' skull, the snake darts forth and clamps down on the worm, tearing it free and saving Markus' life. The wounded swordsman manages to stay on his mount long enough to spur the creature to head to the northeast, and this time escape from the Evermoors is unimpeded as the adventurer reaches the outer edge of the Silverwood. Danger remains, however, as Markus' mount did not escape the unliving grotesqueries unscathed . . .

[Flashback to 7 Kythorn 1372]

Ralkin, Flindle, and Katanya wake in the morning after an uneventful night's rest and continue on their journey.

[13 Kythorn 1372]

In the extradimensional space anchored above the site of a massive battle, Terreck proudly displays the spine of Aloysius which he has wrapped around his walking stick. Bearos is disgusted by the sight, but Fargrim takes it in stride: "interesting, very interesting", he says.

Meanwhile, down below, Sha'dar sets off north to find the bolted horses and Ellywick. Eve continues conversing with Mellia. The paladin of Ilmater asks the sorceress if the group has any other injured persons that need tending do. Mellia mentions that Bearos, Fargrim, and Terreck are nearby. She says that, although Terreck is a hobgoblin, he has helped the group fight slavers and is not necessarily evil like many of that race. Mellia calls for the trio to come down.

Fargrim and Bearos climb down first. Fargrim is wary of the newcomer, noting that "being trustworthy will get you killed in this place." Eve replies that her mission here is to hunt undead. Mellia speaks highly of Fargrim's bravery and skill in fighting against the slaving band led by the deceased Grim.

When Terreck climbs down, a cascade of dramatic events come quickly. Mellia sees the ghoulish walking stick wielded by the hobgoblin and is horrified, shouting at Terreck to explain himself. Terreck says he was only being true to the deceased gnome's acquisitive spirit, and Fargrim adds that "it is merely a spine on the end of a stick" and not something to get upset about. Mellia continues to vehemently argue that Terreck has acted in a grossly inappropriate way, and should think about leaving the group. Cain remains laying on the ground where Eve healed him and remains quiet, if perhaps slightly bemused by the drama. Eve, however, interprets Terreck's action quite differently. After putting some distance between herself and the group, she whistles to summon her pegasus mount (named Percy) and demands that the entire group drop their weapons, lay down on the ground, and surrender themselves for transport to Silverymoon where they will face trial. Spotting Sha'dar nearby, he orders the elf to do the same.

Eve's demands are initially met with uniform resistance. Fargrim defends Terreck and says there is no injustice in taking from the dead. Mellia, although aghast at Terreck's actions, tells Eve that what the hobgoblin has done may be disgraceful, but it is not illegal, and that there is certainly no reason to arrest everyone for his actions. Eve repeats her warnings multiple times and says that if the adventurers do not immediately comply with her orders, they will face "trial by combat." Mellia calls for a peaceful way to resolve matters, arguing that surrendering weapons would be tantamount to suicide in the Evermoors.

Eve gives the adventurers another chance to comply, and then, astride her flying mount, charges into battle with lance at the ready. Cain tries to deter Eve with a wall of flame, but the paladin flies right through it. Terreck quickly turns himself invisible, but Eve dives towards his last known position, and, with Tymora's luck, impales the hobgoblin through the throat, killing the already-wounded adventurer instantly! Cain remains laying on the ground, ostensibly complying with Eve's demands, while Fargrim drops his weapons but challenges Eve to attack. Mellia sits on a nearby rock, but repeats her assertion that she will never voluntarily be bound. Cain tries to talk Mellia into surrendering, but Mellia replies that Eve must be insane. Sha'dar tries to parlay with Eve, but meets with little interest. Soon, the elf decides to comply with Eve's orders, partially out of a desire to be close to such a marvelous creature like a pegasus.

Interpreting Mellia's actions as a failure to comply, Eve charges towards her and smacks her hard on the head with the blunt side of his lance. Mellia responds by launching unerring spheres of pure force and rays of fire, and then turns invisible. Ellywick stumbles into the camp from the north, witnesses the strange scene, and then decides discretion is the better part of valor and withdraws. Cain remains passive, and eventually agrees to give Eve all of his weapons. Sha'dar does the same and starts playing fetch with his hound. Fargrim climbs up into the extradimensional space, climbs down and picks up one of his weapons seconds after Eve has picked up the other, and then climbs back up. It remains unclear whether the dwarf plans to fight or not.

The battle of wills (and combat prowess) between Eve and Mellia continues, as the paladin tries to have her mount sniff out the invisible sorceress' position. Mellia manages to move with expert stealth and climbs up the rope to the extradimensional space. Seeing the swinging rope and realizing her prey has temporarily eluded her, Eve shouts up that she is willing to wait them out and that if they do not turn themselves over voluntarily, she will have no choice but to kill them.

In the space of just a few short hours, the two newest members of the adventuring party have been killed, and now a dangerous stalemate has begun. Who will be the first to crumble, either through concession or defeat?

Director's Commentary (Jan. 8, 2016)

This was one of those unforgettable sessions that makes gaming worthwhile!

Spawn of Myrkul
First, there was the encounter between Markus and the Spawn of Myrkul (renamed from "Spawn of Kyuss" in the Monster Manual II).  These nasty undead spit worms that crawl into one's brain cavity and drain intelligence.  When Markus got hit by one, and didn't manage to remove it immediately, his intelligence score began to slowly but steadily drop towards coma and death.  Since he was out there all alone with a worm in his brain, we were all certain he was dead.  But Markus' player hit on one last plan, sending his snake familiar into the same hole in his head that the snake crawled into to try to ferret it out--the plan was doomed to familiar given the enormously high AC I gave the worm, but a natural 20 is a natural 20 and the attack succeeded!  Markus lived to fight another day.

Just like in the Garden of Eden, Eve caused a whole host of troubles!
Second, the phrase (spoken with a German accent) "Drop your weapons and lay on the ground" is remembered with shudders by many in the gaming group.  This was the constant command of Eve the Paladin when faced with an adventurer's spine wrapped around a stick thanks to Terreck.  All hell broke loose and eventually resulted in the first fatal PVP combat I can remember in a long, long time of gaming.  Although Terreck cleverly turned invisible, Eve knew the hobgoblin's last known location and rolled a critical hit (with double damage from a charging lance) and instantly killed him.  This was met with gasps both in-game and in real life, and I think probably led to some personal animosity between the players running the respective characters involved.  I think Eve was one of those Paladins that make all Paladins seem virtually unplayable, but I have to give the player credit for sticking to his RP guns.

Tune in next time for the even-more dramatic conclusion of the stand-off!

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