May 21

Against the Giants: Session 207

map of khepri vault
Vault Explored So Far

They drag the dead creature inside, and dump it in the pit along with the remains of the golems– after looting it first, naturally. They set new guards and once more settle down to sleep… and the hours pass by without event, and in the morning everyone feels refreshed; except Halmary, who (although ready to adventure again) suffered from his usual nightmares and is too drained to pray and prepare his spells for the day.

After breaking camp they head back to the vault, Calibos pushing the door open to reveal a pair of the beetle-headed humanoids and yet another obsidian golem: the adventurers charge in, destroying the golem with ease, Calibos hitting it with enough force to send cracks splintering through its body, allowing Xellos to step up and shatter it with a swing of his axe. The undead Ruin guard then finds himself in combat with one of the humanoids, and gets struck by a Staff of Withering, that withers Xellos’ right leg, turning it to dust. He falls to the floor, but manages to hold himself together enough to blast it with a flurry of magic missiles, allowing Sindi to step in and run it through with her spear.

The other beetle-headed creature wields its own staff, blasting the party with a cone of cold before it escapes by means of a dimension door. The party regroup in the vault, quickly tend to what wounds they can, loot the body of the slain creature, and watch Ungrid as he begins to fight an imaginary fiend; whatever mental attack he suffered soon wears off, and he is no worse off for it. They set guards at the entry door, and Calibos checks out the other door in the room: this one explodes with fire as he tries to open it, but Halmary is able to lay on hands to ease the pain. Beyond that door lies a tunnel, heading directly east, and they decide to head down it, since it is what they were looking for and hoping to find.

They haven’t gone far, just barely started, when the from behind them the escaped creature returns, this time flying, and reveals its inhuman face to paralyse Calibos, Wulsted and Ungrid. It follows that with a cone of cold that causes some damage. Xellos quickly throws up a Ward vs Magic, and lobs his cube of frost by the paralysed party members to protect them. They drag Wulsted and Ungrid into the ward, but before they can help Calibos, and as Sindi flies in and charges the creature, it sends a lightning bolt down the corridor; thankfully, the ward protects most of the party, but Sindi and Calibos are shocked and both collapse, twitching. Halmary grabs Calibos and drags him to safety, but Sindi is too far away to help. Ungrid scares off the creature by hurling grontdrengi at it, crushing one of its mandibles in the process. The creature flees.

They check on their fallen comrades: Calibos is merely unconscious, and with a rest should be fine; same for Sindi, although she has burns to go with the scars she already possesses. They huddle together under the protection of the Anti-Magic Ward and try to figure out their next move.

End of Session

Kills: 1 obsidian golem, 1 Khepri.

KO’d: Calibos (merely knocked out), Sindi (in shock, needs a night’s rest).

May 14

Against the Giants: Session 206

khepri…and quickly retreating along with the others, Ungrid covering their retreat by hurling his mighty hammer and splintering one of the obsidian statues. The form their shield wall in the doorway, are hasted by Xellos and Ungrid and Calibos stand in the doorway, taking on the statues as they mindlessly advance one-by-one. In the hopes of making the battle go easier, Sindi unleashes her daily lightning bolt, but that proves unwise as the bolt is reflected back, shocking the entire party. This seems to invigorate the fighters though, and with the added punch of Halmary’s striking on Calibos’ hammer, the two frontline dwarfs managed to shatter the first statue. A second quickly follows, and even botched magic missiles from Xellos (also reflected back, injuring the undead Ruinguard) don’t hinder the fighters; a third, then the fourth fall under the two hammers and Sindi’s jabbing spear. And with only one statue left, the trio charge it, and smash it, Sindi’s final piercing stab sending obsidian fragments flying everywhere.

Wounds are tended to as the dust settles, then off exploring the party goes. There are more doors, each bearing the carved likeness of a scarab beetle. Calibos tries one, gets electrocuted by a glyph of warding (which he just shrugs off), and peers into a strange room with panels of crystals, a curved glass wall, another door, and yet another statue as yet unmoving. When the statue remains still, they creep in, see a corridor the ends in several alcoves, each holding what looks like a giant metallic scarab beetle, and decide to backtrack before anything happens.

They head back to the entry hall, and through the doorway where the long, long tunnel stretches off into darkness beyond an archway. Sindi goes first, invisible and scouting, and as soon as she passes through the archway, the floor opens beneath her and she plummets into a pit, too surprised to activate her boots of levitation; at the same time, the long, long tunnel is reveal to be an illusion, and a dead end lies on the other side of the pit; at the same time, two lengths of the walls are also revealed to be illusions hiding alcoves full of scarab beetles, which swarm out!

Xellos, reacting swiftly, destroys a swarm immediately with burning hands, but the other one engulfs Calibos and Halmary, the beetles crawling under their armour. They start to rend and eat their flesh! The others try their best to help, but their weapons only kill a few at a time, and each swing and jab also wounds their allies: by the time the swarm is destroyed, Halmary is lying on the floor, fate unknown, and Calibos is suffering badly. Thankfully for the former paladin, his ring of regeneration begins to heal his wounds, but Halmary is unconscious. Luckily, timely intervention with potions of extra-healing reveal that he is merely in shock, and after a night’s rest he’ll be fine. Phew.

They make camp, setting guards, in the entry hall. They shut the doors, and settle down to rest. A couple of hours later, Sindi– on guard with her back against the door– is knocked out of the way as the door is forced open, revealing two more of the obsidian statues, and something else: an obsidian-skinned humanoid, tall, dressed in ancient clothes, and in place of its head is what looks to be a scarab beetle! The new creature shimmers and is difficult to make out. It tries to grip Sindi in a choking grip, but she resists and is instead engaged by the statues. The others wake to see a battle taking place, and rush to Sindi’s aid. Xellos fells the first, shattering it after a few blows from himself and Sindi; the other is splintered and crushed by Ungrid’s and Calibos’ hammers, leaving it open for a final strike by Sindi; she follows through with a well-aimed thrust at the creature behind them, wounding it.

Then the carapace of its beetle-head opens, revealing an utterly inhuman, alien face swarming with larvae: the sight of it paralyses Calibos, Xellos and Wulsted (Eshan is keeping out of the way, Halmary sleeping off his injuries), but Ungrid shakes off his revulsion and whacks the creature, paving the way for Sindi to step in and stab it straight through its alien face, killing it!

End of Session

Kills: 7 obsidian golems, 2 scarab beetle swarms, 1 khepri.

KO’d: Halmary (in shock, gruesome scars).

May 8

Against the Giants: Session 205

map of the blackened spire
The Blackened Spire

Halmary and Eshan make their way to the wooded slope, where a tree stands burning away. There is no sign of life and in the night, there is little to see beyond the fire. They search the woods, and come across a clearing of charred earth, with a 20′ spire in the middle, surrounded by a patch of wild grass dotted with daisies. It’s hard to make out, but there seems to be a door in the spire. Leaving Eshan to watch and guard, Halmary attempts to cross the charred circle, but as soon as he crosses the threshold he feels intense heat; so hot, that his clothes begin to smoulder and his hair singes, even with the Ring of Fire Resistance he wears. He steps back, and the heat dissipates. The cleric sets his own beacon by placing a continual light on the edge of the circle, then the two of them huddle down amongst the trees and wait to see if anyone comes looking: as someone set fire to the tree and Halmary’s goddess did say that he would meet his party here (as this seems to be the place she mentioned).

Sure enough, after a few hours, he is discovered by an invisible Sindi, who scouted ahead as they rest of the party waited on the edge of the woods. After their devastating attack in the foothills, they decided to break camp and make their way to the woods where Sindi had lit a tree on fire. Reunited, they swap stories (albeit briefly and without going into too much detail), and Halmary shows them a map he found in the caverns he was trapped in, which seems to show the place they’ve now found, and which seems to be the place that the nomads told tales about at the camp; to quote:

Legends dating back to before the Suel Imperium speak of gods that once walked the land, subjugating the savages and tribes that lived in the region now known as the Sea of Dust. These tribes rebelled when they discovered that the gods bled and could die, and became hunters and slayers of their former deities. Those gods that survived did so by retreating and sealing themselves in vaults hidden beneath the earth, where they placed themselves into hibernation, waiting for the right time to awaken and reclaim the land.

One such vault is said to lie beneath The Blackened Spire, a shrine of rock, blackened as if from intense heat, that stands in a clearing of charred earth, amidst some woods on the slopes of the mountains to the east. There is said to be a tunnel leading from the vault, which cuts through the rock beneath the mountains, coming out into the jungle on the other side of the volcanic range. No one knows what lies within the vault, but the passage through the mountains is said to have been dug to allow the sleeping gods a safe egress should they ever been found and hunted again.

The Blackened Spire lies directly east. If you point towards the sun as it crests the tallest peak in the morning, after a day or two of hiking through the foothills, you come to a wooded slope that climbs the foot of the mountain. There, in the centre of a charred clearing, lies the shrine.

They settle down for the night, setting guards as usual, and refreshed and undisturbed, they awake next morning and investigate the blackened spire. After probing, levitating and throwing sticks, they quickly deduce that the spire is enclosed by a hemisphere that contains immense heat: enough to incinerate a thrown twig, cause clothes to smoulder and burn, and would no doubt cause some nasty burns to anyone who tried to walk across the charred ground. Calibos again tests it using Halmary’s Ring of Fire Resistance and quickly steps back, armour heating up and his hair smoking. Halmary tries to dispel magic, but it has no effect. They then search the woods and immediate area for alternative ways inside, or secret doors, but find nothing. They break for lunch, Halmary conjuring food & water, and afterwards Calibos remembers that he has a scroll of Ward Against Magic. They try it out, and success! The circle of anti-magic allows everyone to cross safely. At the door, which bears an engraving of a scarab beetle, Halmary Finds Traps and identifies glyph of warding on the carving. They dispel it, and Halmary forces the door open.

Inside is a small chamber, tapering to a point 15′ up. Along the wall, in niches, are tall obsidian statues of scarab-beetle headed men, similar to the golem that they fought in the nomads’ camp. There is also a pit, 10′ wide, descending as far as they can see. They drop a coin enchanted with continual light and the shaft goes 120′ down before it opens into a room or corridor. Sindi and Ungrid, using their Boots of Levitation ferry everyone down, into a corridor capped by stone doors, again with scarab beetles engraved on them. Five alcoves line the corridor, each with an obsidian statue, 10′ tall, beetles for heads. Halmary detects no traps, but everyone is obviously wary of the statues; prior experience has earned them the right to be wary. The air is chilled, and as they crossed the threshold of the pit, everyone felt a shudder through the stone, their flesh and bones, that was there and gone, leaving them feeling like they were trespassing.

Guessing that the tunnel through the mountains lie east, they head to the eastern door, arranged in battle formation. Calibos opens the door: beyond it is a corridor, that stretches 30′ to an archway, and beyond the arch, the tunnel goes on for as far as the eye can see.

And as soon as the door swings open, the statues come to life and move to attack!

One of the statues punches Wulsted, but the barbarian rolls with the punch and bounces back to his feet, merely bruised. Xellos and Eshan hurry through into the new corridor, as the others cover the retreat and fail to land a blow, their weapons failing to cause a dent in the thick bodies of the statues. Then another statue pummels Halmary with both its fists, almost forcing him to his knees. Something cracks, and Halmary has to lay on hands as he struggles to stand, feeling those punches…

End of Session

No kills, but no deaths either, and both NPCs still alive.

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May 1

Against the Giants: Session 204 – Sindi, Ungrid, Calibos and Xellos

Six of These!

At the nomads’ camp, Sindi observes the nomads set guards as the boats come in. She reports back to the others and they make a plan: with Xellos, Calibos and Sindi invisible and everyone else reduced to 6 inches tall with potions of diminution they sneak back to the camp, steal a couple of boats, and as the nomads react, Xellos uses his wand of illusion to cause a distraction amongst the tents (attacks by shadowy monsters), allowing the party to escape without much fuss.

They sail and row out into the darkness, tying the boats together and taking turns sleeping as they take several hours to cross the lake. Around mid-morning the next day they reach the opposite shore and disembark. Sindi levitates up high, but can’t see any sign of Halmary. They make camp, lighting a fire in case the cleric is able to see it. They spend time discussing and discarding options (such as searching the entire lake), but eventually settle on heading to the mountains and the place where the nomads said there was a tunnel; hoping that Halmary also remembers the tale. To help them decide, Xellos Contacts Other Planes and manages to get some ‘yes’ answers to the following questions: (1) is Halmary alive, (2) is he at liberty, and (3) is he making his way to the mountains.

They head off into the dunes, straight east, Sindi managing to more or less keep them on track. A dust-storm slows them down for a few hours, but thanks to Xellos and his Wall of Stone, no one suffers. After several days they enter the foothills of the mountains and make camp, lighting a fire to keep warm and drive the wildlife way. While the others settle down to sleep, Sindi turns herself invisible and scouts ahead. She finds a wood higher up the slope, a few miles east, and decides to set a tree on fire, hoping that it will act as a beacon for Halmary if he is heading the same direction. Then she heads back to the others.

Sindi arrives just as half-a-dozen ankhegs burst from the earth!

She alerts the others with a well-aimed lightning bolt, wounding two of the creatures, and allowing Ungrid to smash one to pieces with his hammer. But it is too late to help Illinoss, the last gnoll, and Dara, all of whom are grabbed and pulled below the ground by one of the monsters. Calibos too is grabbed, but Ungrid manages to reach him before he is pulled under, and crushes the monster’s head. The rest of the monsters retreat, burrowing under the ground and taking their meals with them.

Of all the allies they helped escape from the prison, now only Wulsted remains.

The set guards and settle down for the night, keeping an eye on the darkness and the ground.

End of Session

Kills: 2 ankhegs.

Losses: Illinoss, Dara, and a gnoll.

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May 1

Against the Giants: Session 204 – Halmary & Eshan

Caves of the Meenlocks
Caves of the Meenlocks

After exploring the tunnels and caves (moss-lined steep tunnels, taking some effort to climb) Halmary and Eshan managed to find their way out: a stone trapdoor leading into some ruins that slide off into the dust-lake. They decide to leave the caves behind and hike a few miles north along the shore, digging a shallow pit and draping Halmary’s tent over it to make a shelter. After laying out a glyph of warding to protect themselves, the pair settle down to sleep.

In the morning Halmary waits for a few hours after setting a globe of darkness high in the air, in the hope that one of his fellow party members will spot it. When nothing happens, he divines with his goddess and asks if he will meet up with his comrades anytime soon: the goddess basically says yes, by finding the circle of charred earth and the blackened spire. This rings a bell: at the nomads camp they told of a tunnel that cut through the mountains, hidden beneath the blackened spire. If he followed the sun due east, aiming for the tallest mountain peak as the sun crests its top, then he should find it (presuming the tale was true). Eshan agrees, having no better ideas and no desire to be left alone, and the unlikely allies head off towards the mountains.

For the next four days they hike across the dust dunes and make their way into the foothills of the mountains. A dust storm almost stops them, but they huddle under the tent and survive, digging themselves out after the storm passes. A few times they have to divert off their path, but manage to reorientate themselves as they reach the hills. There they find a sheltered gully and make camp, Eshan standing guard so that Halmary can rest for his spells in the morning.

Sometime during the night, Eshan nudges Halmary awake and points to the east. A couple of miles away, something is burning. In the light of the fire it looks like a wooded area. They break camp and head towards it.

End of Session

# days in the Sea of Dust: 20.

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