Posted on November 28, 2012
The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, LXXXII
I wish I’d been handing out fate cards from the start. I remember at first everyone was unsure about how they could be used, but I think the Dragonfight illustrates what they can achieve.
All right, a two-session summary because for a moment there it looked like it was going to go tits up. I’ve been reviewing the old posts (which now have the same fucked up format as the recent posts… don’t know why) and realised that two years ago you were liberating Fort Rannick from the Kreeg Ogre Clan. The party’s most well known act of heroism is about two years old at this point. Which means we actually started playing in May 2010. So yeah, this looks like it is going to take us 31 months to wrap this campaign up. Unless they all die in this fight with the dragon.
Do they? Oooh, let’s find out.
The party regrouped beneath the streets in the furthest recesses of the skulk domain. The skulks themselves were nervously avoiding the upper tunnels as the search parties of Giants probed deeper and deeper into the Slave Quarter. Rumours of tunnels beings smoked out and opened up by Rune Giants came and went. Despite the lack of comfortable places to rest, the party made do and recuperated their strength/spells.
Then out they went to the Entertainment District. Cutting across to the area of the city that they had not yet probed they found the Giant activity to be significant. While the giants were not searching as much here, this is much closer to the heart of Karzoug’s reserve of fanatical giants and their Rune Giant leaders. Slipping unnoticed through the streets they located the Ziggurat of Lissala, a monumental structure covered in carvings depicting the ancient worship of the long forgotten Goddess of Runes.
There’ll be time to make Unspeakable Brass Rubbings later, perhaps, but for now they were seeking a building close by the Ziggurat that the dragon Ghlorofaex was using as a lair. They found the toppled bastion, really now a mountain of masonry piled atop a fortified base. They scouted around but saw no activity and keen to get in off the street entered the structure.
The entryway was a hall, still in pretty good shape and had two exits; one an easily strollable hallway that turned towards the rear of the building and the other, a stairway with a portcullis barring passage. I don’t know what happened to Halvard. I don’t know what grievous injury happened to him at a young age involving a portcullis. I don’t know if he saw his favourite puppy get crushed by one or what, but a portcullis appears to be like a red flag to a bull to the Cleric of Gorum. Maybe it is nothing more than a deep seated need to test himself in a feat of strength, but then he doesn’t go around chopping boards in half or headbutting walls down. I don’t know why he has to lift every portcullis, but I think he’s encountered two so far and tried to lift both of them.
This time, despite the age and considerable weight of the portcullis (remember that any security measures in Xin-Shalast have to keep out humans and giants) Halvard was able to call on Gorum to help him raise the stiff iron lattice. Given that Halvard is already wearing a Fiat’s weight in armour, this is pretty impressive.
Anyway, through the portcullis and round the stairs they went. They found themselves in well appointed (albeit it very old and crumbly) rooms with several rooms seemingly devoted to counting. Or maybe some sort of abacus museum. Or a dentist’s waiting room, since that is the only place you ever see abaci/abacuses is on those play tables they have to distract children. Probably a counting room though, all things considered.
The guardroom, or so it appeared, since its thick walls had arrow loops, was the most interesting. Here, the walls were lined with scraps of paper, each one written on with a meticulous hand. Pages of text, skilful drawings and detailed maps filled the room. On inspection, the notes appeared to be organised and cross-referenced too. Dagfinn had a crack at deciphering the text and found that it was draconic, detailing research into the history of Xin Shalast, its architechture, its inhabitants and then an awful lot about the Men of Leng. As they perused the walls a man appeared in the room with them.
Impassioned yet dignified, the elderly gent addressed them in Common, first with a warning. “Your plansh to eliminate Karzhoug are shadly mishtaken.”
Look. I can’t do that many voices. I’ve got the high pitched and psychotic Goblins, the rambling Brodert Quink, the Ehrmagerd Ehrgers, that fast-talking Pixie, the super-ebullient Unicorn, the KFC Mashed Potato Bowl Skulks, Wheezy the rescued dwarf who talks like my old Headmaster (actually, I feel like dwarves are pretty securely taken care of…) and that one Frost Giant who talked like the Swedish Chef channeling Ed Gein. That’s it, that’s all the voices I can do. I’m thankful that Karzoug’s voice is utterly colourless, but that’s only because I can’t do a convincing Jeremy Irons, otherwise the Runelord of Scenery-Chewing would be popping in all the time to sneeringly dispirit you.
So yes, dragons sound like Sean Connery. All of them. It is just how they sound. House rule.
Anyway, the old man continued hish ecshplanashion… okay, I’ll stop…
Karzoug was – in the opinion of the old man – by far the lesser of two evils that the world faced. In the course of his research, he discovered that the Men of Leng have their own agenda: to sacrifice all of those uber-powerful Rune Giants squirreled away on Leng in a mass execution. That might seem like a good thing, or at least… a not-evil thing given that the Rune Giants would undoubtedly be the steel-shod boots that grind Varisia into the dirt should Karzoug reappear. But the sacrifice of the Rune Giants would be used to power the opening of the Mhar Massif.
The name “Mhar” is a corruption of an otherwordly name that the Men of Leng use to refer to the being imprisoned beneath the mountain when Golarion was still young. Mhar was derived from ‘Umr, from the name ‘Umr al-Tawil one of the many names of a deity (?) also called Aforgomon, the Lurker at the Threshold, Iot Sotot, the Key and the Gate. Should he be released, the world would be utterly destroyed by the freed horror. And the Men of Leng would be cool with that.
Yeah, she’s a weird one.
The man knew that the party had come to steal something back for the Men of Leng, part of a device that the man believed crucial to their plans for immanentizing the eschaton. In taking it back to them, they were dooming the entire world. This could not happen.
Anyway, the chat was concluded when he disappeared again and they figured he was an illusion. Halvard’s handy dandy True Seeing allowed him to spot an Arcane Eye that was monitoring them. They were not swayed by the man’s argument. I don’t think anyone even paused for thought at that point.
They continued on through the complex of rooms until they came to a room with two doors in the same wall. They opened on and found that it led into a large, pillared hall in which an ornamental fountain bubbled. Between the room and the door however, was a set of iron bars that prevented easy access between the two areas. I can’t remember the exact timing of it, but I’m reasonably certain that Arradin bent herself enough space to squeeze through the bars and everyone else was waiting to get through when the dragon appeared. Suddenly that room seemed a lot smaller. The terrifying presence of the being seriously shook Halvard, while the rest of the group grit their teeth and tried not to shit themselves.
The dragon’s mouth snapped open and unleashed a sizzling bolt of lightning, badly frying quite a few people who were waiting to come through the gap in the bars. The fight was on.
Battle was joined as the party split into two groups, one at a reasonably safe range away from the biting, clawing, flailing Ghlorofaex the other all up in his very proficient killing machine face. A few rounds were spent trying to land spells, to little effect, although Albedon’s efforts earned him a Baleful Polymorph, turning him into a toad. He barely had time to fall to the ground when Halvard reversed that. I’m not sure how he did that, break enchantment, dispel magic or what, but he did.
Not that the melee contingent was doing much better – hits were hard to land on Ghlorofaex too, what with the dragon being one of the increasing number of people with Displacement in effect. Honestly, Arradin cut the crap out of every square inch around that dragon, but had a hard time finding him. Kerplak summoned a Griffon, that managed to distract the dragon for a few seconds before it was ignored.
Arradin found herself in a tough spot – the dragon breathed another sizzling ray of plasma and caught some more people in it (although Ron had become really good at just getting out of the way of these things) Ghlorofaex dropped her to -1 HP, yet she found herself unwilling to go quietly into that good night. The dragon exhausted himself wearing Arradin down, but she just would not fall over. You know who kept doing damage, albeit small amounts? Halvard. He channeled and channeled and while it wasn’t causing jaw dropping numbers to fly out of the dragon, it was reliably whittling him down and it was something to which the dragon had no defense.
Albedon, meanwhile had had a second or two to think and having seen the modified Dimension Door spell work here in the place between Golarion and Leng. If he pictured the two dimensions as two bludgers … then the area where they intersected was Xin-Shalast so the reversed polarity of the… tachyon field must be… under twelve parsecs… then the timey-wimey… GREAT SCOTT! He cast a modified Dimension Door spell, ripping the very fabric of the universe so that he and a gnome would fit through. It was less a Dimension Door spell and more a Dimension Kool Aid-man sized hole in everything. Still, in terms of off-the-cuff theoretical breakthroughs that one went pretty well.
Ghlorofaex activated his aura of electricity, zapping everyone close to him a little but he fumbled his spell. A few seconds later he managed to get it off and Dimension Doored out of there. As everyone adjusted and some healing was passed out, the dragon used the opportunity to chide the party. They were choosing the oblivion of the entire planet over tyranny in one corner of it. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s what was upsetting Ghlorofaex. He though they were fools. Ron and Dagfinn countered that the binary nature of this choice was false. There was a third way that involved neither Karzoug’s tyranny nor Mhar’s planetary annihilation. There was… whatever they were going to do… which wasn’t either of those two shitty things.
As Halvard and Kerplak fanned out to find the Dragon it returned. Shortfang, scouting sensed it first, because dragons have Blindsense. The party knows this about dragons, because they have one in the party, but doesn’t seem to have generalized that knowledge.
Anyway what happened was that Ghlorofaex had strung a Wall of Force between two of the pillars, causing a few people to run right into it. Hilariously. And then Albedon breathed a cone of fire on it and then cast a Fireball, which of course, since early impact causes detonation, detonated when it hit the wall.
It was at this point that things got weird. Because a Ankylosaur appeared. Then a whole bunch of yeti. And an Ogre Plague Zombie.
Tersplink called up the Ankylosaur and Kerplak summoned the Ogre Plague Zombie, but the Yeti just appeared from nowhere and started attacking the Dragon. Ghlorofaex got out of there again, Dim Dooring away to another area, blasting with his breath weapon before doing so. The Yeti were mostly scared away by Dagfinn’s scary song and the plague zombie died, although I can’t remember why… I remember how: in a shower of rotten flesh.
Ghlorofaex returned and at this point Tersplink turned the ceiling above the dragon to flesh – shudder – with Stone to Flesh, causing the ruin choked roof of this building to weigh the flesh down, meaning it sagged down quickly. The dragon rolled out of the way, but Dagfinn was there, waiting and skewered it with Flametongue. The light went out of the dragon’s eyes and it fell to the floor, dead.
If I showed you a picture of Mhar, your brain would leak out your nose as you tried in vain to look away and cursed me with your last bewildered breath. This should achieve at least one of those things, so it is close enough.
I suspect everyone is going to take a few seconds before acting, just to see if anything else weird shows up for this fight.
I just really hope someone is going to drink a healing potion.
Compleat Adventurer. Halvard; easy. Everyone did their part in that fight, sometimes in really flashy ways. But no-one so implacably laid on the damage. It wasn’t always a lot, but it was relentless and got there in the end. In amongst that he found time to heal and get Albedon back in the game. Also, the suite of spells that Halvard had worked well and the Yeti fate card was funny.
Did I mention that Jokes baked cookies last week? And they were oatmeal and raisin and they were great. No? Forget I mentioned it then.
Great. Now he has to spend the afterlife getting airbrushed onto some douchebag’s car. Thanks, jerks.