Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Realms Toowoomba Session # 50 [RPG]

[26 Kythorn 1372 continued]

After descending the shaft, the adventurers find themselves in a large room brightly lit by magical lanterns. The walls are lined with metal desks covered by gleaming tools and blades. Three large steel pedestals are in the room as well, each connected through strange, segmented tubes to large vats filled with liquid. Grooves in the floor lead from each pedestal to a metal grate in the center. Moving into the room, the adventurers can see that on one of the pedestals is a humanoid shape covered in a white sheet. Ralkin and Dolcetto carefully examine the vats and tubes, and Dolcetto surmises it may be part of a process to preserve corpses in a life-like state after death. Daisy volunteers to lift the sheet, and finds the corpse of a strange elf with black skin and white hair. Dolcetto laments the fact that no one in the group possesses a spell to speak with the dead.

Daisy moves closer to the grate, and notices something shiny in the dark red pool below. She removes the grate and reaches in to grab the sparkling item, but her hand burns from contact with the liquid. Suddenly, the pool seems to ripple and rise up, spreading out of the drain. A tentacle of the viscous liquid forms and tries to wrap itself around Daisy, but she leaps away just in time. Daisy slashes at the pool with her greataxe, only to discover she's caused the pool to split into separate masses! Further attacks split it even further, until there are four puddles, each lashing out with pseudopods! Syd channels divine energy and manifests a huge column of fire in the middle of the room, destroying three of the masses instantly! Seconds later, Dolcetto summons a monstrous centipede, and the creature is able to destroy the remaining threat. Undeterred, Daisy peers into the pool under the grate and, with Dolcetto's telekinetic ability, retrieves five small garnets and 2 small, incredibly sharp single-edged blades.

The adventurers continue into a corridor lined with intricate tapestries and tanned leather hides of various animals and humanoids. Dolcetto and Ralkin decide to search for secret rooms, and together unearth a hidden chamber. While Ralkin sets about figuring out how to open it, Dolcetto advances to the end of the corridor, where a wide aperture, barred by a portcullis, leads to another room. Here, T'Klack stands ready for battle. He invites Dolcetto to enter the arena, and says that she honours him by her presence. He wishes her a long and glorious death and moves towards the lever to raise the portcullis.

Before he can act, however, Dolcetto opens a conduit to another plane of existence and brings forth a fiendish centipede to fight in the arena on her behalf! Soon, more monsters appear to do her bidding, and T'Klack struggles to escape their attacks. He does kick the lever to open the portcullis and moves to engage Dolcetto in hand-to-hand combat, but before he can reach the archway, he finds one of the centipedes has wrapped itself around him! T'Klack seeks escape the only way he can, and starts to slowly fade from the Material Plane. Trying to press her advantage, Dolcetto enters the arena and taunts T'Klack for fleeing. He promises to return as soon as possible, but after he leaves, a strange bout of insanity comes over Dolcetto, and she begins to attack her own summoned creatures! Seeing Fargrim watching this in the adjacent corridor, she even challenges the dwarf to enter and fight, to which Fargrim replies "I will strike you down!"

Once T'Klack appears again, Dolcetto once again orders her creatures to fight him. The four-armed foe grabs hold of the loremaster and bites her, but she manages to fight off the effects of the burning venom that runs through her body. Finally, the other adventurers decide to intervene. Realizing that Dolcetto must be affected by a powerful magickal field, Syd succeeds in dispelling it and then transforms into a massive lion to rush into the fray along with Daisy and Fargrim. With swipes from his massive paws, Syd easily decapitates T'Klack. Dolcetto keeps fighting, however, even charging Syd with the rapier she took from Markus. The others manage to knock her unconscious without further injury.

Meanwhile, Ralkin and Myst survey the contents of the secret room. Dusty shelves hold various pieces of armor and weapons, all jet black. Myst takes these. A chest, almost the size of a footlocker, lays on the ground next to the shelves, and appears to be made out of a heavy black stone. When Ralkin opens the chest, he spots a spider-shaped amulet inside but palms it and declares that the chest is empty. He then walks back and hides it under the corpse of the dark-skinned elf in the previous room! The kenku is then forced to hide, however, as Garry enters the room and seems hungry.

When the adventurers have assembled, Ralkin pulls the amulet from under the corpse and says it must have been hidden there all along. He and Myst decide to search T'Klack's body for useful weapons and equipment. Fargrim and Daisy decide to make sure Dolcetto has no weapons on her in case she is still crazed when she awakens. Daisy innocently tells Myst that Dolcetto has equipment belonging to Gelkar, and an annoyed Myst removes all of Dolcetto's gear.

Director's Commentary

This session had the big boss fight of the module, and as written it would have been pretty cool: T'Klack's chamber had some cool traps he would activate periodically through the fight to harass and disrupt his foes' tactics.  As played out, however, it was almost anti-climactic.  Once again, summoning and wild shaping are to blame, two of the most over-powered and annoying aspects of D&D 3.5 (a problem only slightly ameliorated in Pathfinder).  If it hadn't been for T'Klack's ability to shift to the ethereal plane, the encounter would have been a complete cakewalk for the PCs.  At least landing the confusion effect on Dolcetto added an element of fun.

Still, despite the lackluster ending, I really enjoyed incorporating the module into the campaign: it was nice to see some good, classic dungeon-crawling in a campaign that had turned into a sprawling RP and random encounter-heavy sandbox.

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