Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Session 44: Temple Desecrators-R-Us (Part 1 of 2)

"Well if that's the case, I go to town on desecrating this altar with my handaxe!"
--Dak the Younger

This session, played Monday 9/27/2011, included PCs Innominus (Clr 6), Yor (Dwf 5), Dak (Dwf 6), Vivuli (Assassin 5 / MU 4), and Uncle Junkal (Rodian Bard 4). While we missed Hazel, who checked in via Skype long enough to tell us she was too swamped with real-world work to join us, we were thrilled to hail the triumphant return of Uncle Junkal, finally back from hiatus after completing his doctoral dissertation. [Though he did arrive a bit late to the session so doesn't feature in the account of the first few turns.]

Underneath Kaminster's Country Manor.  The Fish-Man Temple is the square room near top center. Map scale = 20' per square.

We started off just outside the weird Fish-Man Temple that the PCs visited (and partially desecrated, at least via pissing) last time. The group decided they hadn't had quite enough of desecrating the Temple, and ventured right back in. Dak approached the huge Fish-Thing statue/altar on the west side of the room and swung his New Steel handaxe at its base. A chunk of the thing, solid stone with shell inlay, came off at Dak's blow. The dwarf then delivered the immortal line that has provided this post with its epigraph, and started hacking away with great gusto at the Fish-idol, sending stone chips flying into the 2' of water that covered the entire Temple floor.

Meanwhile, Innominus searched around the Temple, while Vivuli kept his x-ray vision trained upon the underwater entrance to the place, right underneath the altar Dak was gradually demolishing. Yor kept his handaxe drawn and his eye on the door through which they had entered.

Dak kept hacking away, and as he reduced the fish-headed statue to rubble, Innominus noticed (via his still-active ability to detect evil) that the evil energy around the altar / statue actually increased as the vengeful dwarf bashed it to bits. Yor, inspired by Dak's exuberant example, started hacking away at the base of the southwest pillar, nearest the altar. 

About this time Uncle Junkal the bard showed up, and, observing the mayhem ensuing in the Temple, readied a potion of gaseous form. He also attempted to read and decipher the etchings encircling the top of the pillar Yor was hacking down. Uncle Junkal was not able to read most of the strange runes, but one looked sickeningly familiar: it was the rune for Blibdoolpoolp, Sea Mother, a chaotic goddess whose name could not be uttered aloud without incurring dire retribution. Being a land of fisherfolk, most southern Arandish humans and all rodians were well aware of the taboo against uttering the Sea Mother's name. As a rodian bard, Uncle Junkal had been hearing terrifying tales about the lobster-headed sea goddess ever since he was a youngster. Without saying her name aloud, the bard conveyed to his fellows that the Temple must be sacred to (or at least partially dedicated to) the Sea Mother.

Innominus also made an interesting discovery during his searching of various areas of the Temple: the base of the altar had a small hole or niche in the front of it, about the diameter of a smallish gem or coin. With his x-ray vision Vivuli determined that this small niche went back 2" deep into the stone altar and stopped; it apparently led nowhere.

Dak had hacked the statue mostly to bits when he opted to take a break and plan his next move with partner-in-Temple-desecration Yor. The two of them began hooking up ropes and a block-and-tackle rig so as to be able to pull the pillar down upon the mostly smashed altar. During this brief break from wanton destruction, Dak also took a moment to poke a couple things into that small niche on the front of the altar: the end of a quarterstaff fit in the hole but provoked no effect; a gold piece slipped into it vanished completely! Even with x-ray vision, Vivuli could not see where the coin went; it seemed to instantly (magically?) wink out of existence.

Uncle Junkal did some more reading, visiting the door through which he and the party came in and attempting to make something of the fish-head rune etched there. Indeed, after racking his brain a moment, he came up with a name: Thoopshib. This was the name of a lesser water deity, a minion of Blibdoolpoolp's. The bard deduced that the Temple must be dedicated to Thoopshib worship, and realized that the statue Dak had just pulverized likely depicted the chaotic demigod.

The dwarves were on a desecratory roll: they pulled the southwest pillar down, toward the west, and it crashed into the altar, demolishing what was left of the statue, which wasn't much. The fallen pillar cracked upon impact but did not shatter or break; it now partially blocked the underwater passage leading west.

Once the pillar crashed down upon the altar with a bone-shaking crunch, a blackish energy began swirling around the area, swiftly materializing into a serpentine shape. The party leaped into action, Innominus casting Demon Bane right away as Vivuli and Uncle Junkal readied projectiles. Dak and Yor raised their handaxes and prepared to charge.

Over the next three rounds, the serpentine energy gradually solidified, coalescing into a gruesome creature with a long, slithery, eel-like lower body, four arms ending in slimy, tentacle-fingered hands, and a massive head like a horrible fish. It was twelve feet tall (would have been larger at full tail extension) and moved fairly swiftly around the watery chamber once it became solid in round two. It was greenish-black in color.

The first round of the fish-monster's solidity, it attacked: greenish slime shot forth from its snaky fingers, coating Dak and Yor from head to foot. The slime instantly hardened into a shell around each dwarf, rendering both of them immobile -- for now.

Vivuli applied black widow poison to an arrowhead, biding his time . . .

With Dak and Yor neutralized, Innominus and Gorgo rushed the grotesque fish-creature, swinging mace and dwarven axe.  Their valiant offensive distracted the thing from its dwarven quarry, giving Uncle Junkal and Dak's follower Rodney a chance to reel Dak in with a rope and to begin chipping away at his slime-shell with a dagger.  That technique seemed to work, though some of the slime chips that hit Rodney in the face burned him a little, as if the hardened slime-substance were acidic.

Vicious combat continued between the party and the fishy demigod, with Gorgo getting slime-shelled just about the time Dak got freed. Vivuli made masterful longbow shot with his poison-tipped arrow, rolling a "27" on his nightly d30 roll "to hit." However, I used my DM's nightly d30 roll for the creature's save vs. poison, and it survived!

Mobile again, Dak the Younger rushed into melee combat with the thing, going toe-to-toe with it for two or three rounds until it finally felled the dwarf with a vicious double-claw attack, for which I rolled the maximum damage (two 20's on 2d20!). As Dak died, he let off a long and extremely vile-smelling burst of flatulence, which, as his final gesture, he aimed in the direction of his fish-like killer.

Its vengeance partially sated, the eelish monstrosity went looking for Yor, himself finally freed from the slime-shell by virtue of his own brute strength -- after several tries, the powerful dwarf burst it apart from within.

Innominus and Yor pressed the attack, while Uncle Junkal made a remarkable handaxe throw, rolling his nightly d30 for damage and getting a "29." Nevertheless, the deity was still going strong, attacking Innominus.

Meanwhile, Vivuli had been hiding in the shadows behind the northwest pillar, and when the creature slithered close enough, baited by the embattled yet stalwart cleric, Vivuli sneak attacked the thing, making an assassination attempt! For that attempt he rolled "00" on his d%, and the gruesome fish-deity instantly vaporized in a burst of greenish-black energy!

The party's next immediate step was to head back up the 500' shaft to the Manor house, to see if anything could be done for Dak.

However, before leaving the Temple completely behind, Innominus cast Dispel Magic onto the altar area, including the top of the pillar. Green sparks shot out of the runes atop the pillar, and the cleric felt a wave of sickening nausea wash over him, and he saw -- or at least imagined he saw -- a vision of a terrible, humanoid female figure with a lobster's head and claws:

The Priest of Endra sensed hatred from the figure in the vision, and it "zapped" his mind, causing momentary, excruciating pain (and damage) to the cleric. Then it winked out. The somewhat dazed cleric joined his companions upstairs.

While the party had been underground, Father Azamondius of Kaladar had arrived at the Manor. Now, upon hearing of the party's brave deeds in eradicating chaotic forces below, Prince Arkus (still bedridden but improving) implored Azamondius to raise the fallen dwarf, offering a generous donation to the Kaladarian Temple of Carcoon in exchange for the service. It was done; after thanking the Prince, Dak was transported via wagon back into town, to recover at the party's rented home there.

The party puttered around Fortinbras for two weeks, waiting for Dak to fully recover. The snow continued to fall during most of that time, though not nearly as thickly as on the first day of the party's visit to the Country Manor. Uncle Junkal busked in the streets, Innominus healed the sick and diseased, and Vivuli used his street contacts to acquire a black-market version of the spell Conjure Vermin. The party also eagerly awaited the return of some scouts that Grand Vizier Krock had sent to investigate rumors of a plague in Farn Junction; they waited in vain.

More to come in Part 2 . . .


  1. Readers should note that we spent a day or two having Beastarr the Bobcat familiar chase Vivuli's rats up and down the street to cull the slowest and stupidest ones so only the most talented vermin remained in the pack.

  2. Yes, sorry, that wasn't in my notes. No offense meant toward Beastarr.

  3. Long ago, amidst the wastes of Mt. Greystone, Beastarr learned of the vile human tendency to underestimate contributions of bobcats (and others!) to so many historic campaigns. Consider yourself on notice, Mr. Carter!