Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Session # 6 [RPG]

[27 Rova 4707 continued]

The adventurers set off towards the basement of the Glassworks, planning to explore the recently-discovered tunnels branching off of it.  On the way, Xeveg shares what he knows about quasits, a type of creature mentioned in Tsuto’s journal: that they are tiny winged demons from another plane of existence and are resistant to fire.  In the basement, the adventurers see the sentries posted by Mayor Deverin.  The sentries say they are stretched thin guarding the multiple approaches to Sandpoint, as there’s only a dozen guards in the Town Watch.  One of them, Jodar Provolost, says that if things get worse and Sheriff Hemlock hasn’t returned from Magnimar yet, Mayor Deverin may have to call out the citizen militia.

A sinspawn!
The adventurers face a choice of three directions when they enter the tunnels: northeast, east, and west.  Xeveg suggests the group choose the west route, and they do.  A rough-cut passageway, it meanders for about fifty feet west before turning north for another hundred feet and continuing down through a torn-down brick wall.  From a side-chamber barely visible in the light of Oliver’s everburning torch, a monstrous form suddenly appears!  The creature, a hairless humanoid with back-bent dog-like legs, tiny arms with three-fingered hands, and a mouth full of sharp teeth immediately leaps to attack Felix.  The Shoanti warrior is scratched by one of its claws but he fends it off and then pummels it to the ground as Oliver’s greatsword and Bey’s bardiche slash it to pieces.  The terrifying incident is over almost as soon as it has begun.  A search of the rough-hewn chamber reveals nothing of interest.

The tunnels continue north but also branch off to the east.  Choosing east, the adventurers discover a solid, worked stone wall that has been torn down to reveal a finished underground complex.  Still filled partially with debris, a heavy stone door is pushed open to reveal corridors winding north and east.  The adventurers again choose east, and as their footsteps echo heavily through the ancient darkness, they come across a small shrine to an unknown entity.  Steps lead up to a platform of gray stone, and sitting atop the platform is an altar, little more than a jagged block of black marble with a shallow concavity on top of it.  The basin is filled with what appears to be filthy water, but Xeveg insists it is, in fact, holy water.  Oliver decides to drink some and immediately becomes queasy and ill.  After he recovers enough to continue, the adventurers examine a locked set of stone double-doors leading off of the shrine room.  Oliver spends several minutes loudly picking the locks, but finally a rusty tumbler turns and the doors open.

A large underground cathedral reveals itself.  With small stone doors hanging just ajar on either side of the main entrance, the walls of the cathedral are carved with strange, spiky runes.  In the center of the room is a large pool with a ring of polished human skulls balanced on stone spikes around it.  At the far end of the room, a pair of stone stairways lead up to a dais on which sits a second pool, this one filled with churning, glowing orange liquid.  But what demands the adventurers’ attention is the sudden appearance of a quasit hovering above the pool.  “How dare you intrude in the Mother’s sanctum!” she shouts before slashing the palm of her hand with a dagger.  Blood drips into the churning pool, and the quasit becomes alarmed as the orange glow diminishes noticeably.  But from out of the pool, another monstrosity like the one that guarded the approach to these catacombs emerges.  It sniffs the air and moves to attack the intruders.

Erylium is far more trouble than her size would indicate.
An epic battle begins!  The monstrosity is soon felled before the adventurers’ might, but the wily winged quasit flies out of reach and turns invisible at crucial moments.  It hurls spells and charms to vex the adventurers, such as magically compelling Felix to flee twice!  The quasit, whose name is revealed to be Erylium, shouts that the adventurers are committing blasphemy merely by setting foot in her “empire” and that she will punish them on behalf of the Demon Mother.  Xeveg is the subject of several magical attacks but manages to fight them off, and then, through either desperation or mistaken strategy, decides to cut his own hand and drip blood into the cauldron of bubbling orange liquid!  Another abomination emerges and attacks the young wizard, rending at him with claws and teeth!  The adventurer falls to the ground, unconscious.  As the battle rages on, a stalemate begins to show: Erylium has exhausted most of her magic and has only a tiny dagger to harm the adventurers, but her ability to fly out of their reach combined with demonically-strong skin and the ability to slowly heal wounds means neither side can gain an advantage.
Bey, realizing that Erylium is paranoid about protecting the pool, conjures a rush of water into it to force it to overflow.  Erylium screams in rage that if the adventurers do not flee, she’ll slit the throat of their downed companion.  But the remaining adventurers keep fighting and Erylium follows through on her threat!  In seconds, Xeveg’s lifeblood splatters the floor and walls of the cathedral and he dies.  Recognizing that Erylium is both visible and near the ground, Felix leaps and grabs the demon before she can escape!  He squeezes to crush her frail bones and punches her repeatedly in the face, and it looks like she’s about to succumb until somehow she squirms free of his grasp and flies away!
Poor Xeveg, the first to go.
The adventurers give chase as she hurtles out of sight into the darkness.  They hear her shouting at someone to “gather everyone to repel the invasion!” and, after a few moments’ equivocation, they decide that a retreat is in order.  The adventurers make their way back to the Glassworks, with Oliver dragging Xeveg’s body with a loop of fishing line around the corpse’s neck.  Jodar Provolost is sent to get reinforcements as the adventurers spend tense moments wondering whether an attack is imminent.  He returns with the skeleton crew that had been manning the garrison, and says that Mayor Deverin is calling out the militia.  Meanwhile, Oliver starts stripping Xeveg’s body of wealth and possessions.  A couple of hours later, Mayor Deverin arrives with several townspeople serving as volunteer soldiers.  Felix notes that an attack hasn’t come yet, and suggests another expedition into the catacombs.  Mayor Deverin, worried that an attack could come from anywhere, says she can spare two members of the militia for the scouting mission.  The group select Vachedi and Sabyl Sorn, and prepare to set forth again.

Director's Commentary (26/02/2017)

The big event in this session, unfortunately, was the first PC death of the campaign.  Although Erylium is extremely hard to kill (fast healing, flying, invisibility, DR), she does an incredibly small amount of damage with a Tiny-sized dagger.  The reason Xeveg died was that the players at the table, other than the one running Xeveg, either didn't know about or forgot about the coup de grace action, and thus didn't take Erylium's threat to slit Xeveg's throat seriously.  The dagger did 1 point of damage, doubled to 2 with the automatic critical hit, resulting in a DC 12 Fortitude save for the wizard to live or die.  Alas, the check failed.  It was sad at the time, and still a bummer, as I thought Xeveg was a really interesting character with a lot of potential, and having a full arcane spellcaster is something that would have made subsequent encounters later in the campaign *much* easier.

I had to improv, of course, Mayor Deverin's response when the PCs retreated, but I thought it worked out pretty well.

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1 comment:

Juricon said...

Always tough to lose a player early on, especially one newer to the game, but it's a better policy to let the dice fall where they may. I'm hoping in my game that the players begin to get attached to their characters and the rest of the group so while the threat of dying is real they truly want to avoid it and not just see each character as a collection of stats on paper but something meaningful.

Doesn't always happen that way ... but I can hope...