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I had some minor surgery on my foot about a week ago. Nothing serious, just an outpatient procedure. I have to stay off of it for a few weeks during recovery. My job has allowed me to work from home for the duration. Fortunately, I am allowed to walk enough to go to the bathroom and the kitchen but most of the time the foot should be up. My job has allowed me to work from home for the duration. My kids have still managed to step on every part of my foot except the part that has the surgery on it. Am I paranoid or are they really out to get me?
We continued on our plan to fight the Red Sail pirates who, rumor has it, are working for Lord Scorpix. Everyone their own way in Jailynn. The Fighter went to hang out at the stables. The Sorlock studied the books on religion he had just purchased. The Swashbuckler prepared the gifts he bought, planning to leave them at the doorsteps of poor children during the night. The Paladin trained at the temple. The Wizard helped Row with his research on the staff. The Rogue looked into buying a building with access to the sewers. The Monk, I can’t remember. The Monk and the Rogue ended up in the bar where Someone Halfhand told them he had information about the pirates. They have been hanging out at an inn called the Reluctant Pig, newly built on the north road out of town. It was not on the river but had a jetty nearby where skiffs could be tied up nearby. The Fighter noticed 3 strangers pulling into the stable with a wagon. They seemed to have red armor hidden under their cloaks. When they went into the mercantile to purchase goods, he went searching for his comrades.
The Rogue used her Invisibility to hid on the wagon but it was too small. She got on the horse instead which did not like it but there wasn’t much it could do about it. The rest of the party gathered and we debated on what to do. We assumed they’d be heading to the inn in the north so the Wizard Messaged the Rogue that we’d meet her there. There was much debate about whether to get on the ship and sail north or get our horses and ride north. We decided to stay together and ride north after telling Commander Row to move the ship that way in case we needed it. The Rogue overheard enough of their talk to confirm that these guys were the Red Sail pirates and the seemed to be capturing specific high place locals for a booty paid by Scorpix. Unfortunately, they mentioned hostages already caught, being stashed at some nearby secret base. So that complicated things.
They arrived at the smithy behind the inn and unloaded. And then went into the inn for an ale, we assume waiting for someone. Most went in but the Swashbuckler stayed out. There were some suspicious looks and chatter with the bartender but no one forced any action. The Swashbuckler noticed our ship pull up near. Later he saw a ship with red sails sailing downriver, straight for it. He alerted the rest and everyone headed to the river bank as best the could. The Wizard, Rogue and Fighter grabbed a skiff and rowed out. The Paladin with his magic swimming gauntlets and the Monk chose to swim out. The Paladin had his horse swim out since it’s half movement swim of 30 was better than his. The Sorlock sprouted his angel wings to follow but ended up on the back of the horse as well. Before we could do much, we saw a wyvern with a rider fly towards our ship. The Swashbuckler took a shot or two but the range was too great for any else.
The relative movement rates of the players plus the movements of the ships and the distance made the start of the fight very complicated. It was sort of a jumble mess from there. The wyvern snatched Commander Price and flew her to their ship. The Wizard didn’t want to hurt her so he shot a Fireball at their sails, hoping to slow them down. A couple more long-range shots were taken. That fire occupied the pirates but there were plenty of marines with crossbows shooting at the skiff. Price was stowed below and the wyvern returned without a rider to attack the rowing Fighter. The Monk and Paladin managed to get to our ship just after a pirate caster fired his own Fireball at our ship’s deck. Luckily the crew was below deck from the wyvern attack. The Paladin lead them on fire extinguishing duties. The Swashbuckler and the Scorlock were the further behind and shot arrows and cantrips as the could. There was some debate on the skiff as to which ship to make for but with Price captive and they having a higher-level wizard than ours, it seemed like a direct attack was called for.
The Wizard shot another Fireball on their deck, targeting like 15-20 guys. It was a lot of damage, both to the men and the ship, but only a couple of sailors were taken out. The Rogue cast Grease to add to the confusion. Once besides their ship, the Rogue popped up to fire a Burning Hands and the Wizard did his last Fireball. Again, lots of damage but there were few deaths. The Swashbuckler did manage to kill their caster with his bow. The Monk made a mighty leap and climb to get onto their ship. As usual, Andy crit him with his first attack. Some of them started fleeing the burning, listing ship. The Fighter ran through the Grease to get in the middle of them and unleashed his Fear attack from his maul. Many missed their saves and dove for the water including the wyvern rider. The captain stood tall and unleashed his Polearm master attacks. The Monk hit a couple and headed down into the hull. He found Commander Price in a steel cage as the ship was taking on water. We fell asleep about there for it was 2 AM. Half of us are on their burning sinking ship. The Paladin is on our ship, ready to kill or capture any pirates that try to board it. The Swashbucklers are still trying to get caught up. I think the Captain is the only villain left on their ship but there are many injured marines and sailors as well. Somehow, we’ve got to get Price out of there before it sinks or blows up, without getting killed. And if we can find charts as to where their secret base is, even better.
Andy had all kinds of problems getting us logged into the game. This was particularly frustrating since it was working just a few days before. He rebooted and reconfigured and we were about to give up and switch to something else when he finally found a combination that worked. So, we finally started. We left off, freshly returned to Jailynn. But we also returned to the problem we left with, what to do about this evil sentient artifact staff. NPC Row reiterated that he did not expect it to be intelligent so he was unsure how to destroy it. He needed some research time which all agreed was reasonable. But what to do with it in the meantime. He wanted to leave it locked up in the vault at the school, figuring it would be less noticed here than back in the big city of Long Bridge. The problem was that anyone that knew we had it, such as Lady Arnow, would likely show up in our home town. We could hide it ourselves like in the ocean or in the sewers. Or keep it with us. It was endless. Eventually, Wade played the metagaming card, stating that no matter what we did, if Andy wanted to take the staff and start a plotline, he would. Better just do what the NPC (Andy) suggested and move on. This did not sit well with some but it was the only way to get past it. I think Dave dropped off around here. (Daniel: He seemed depressed about the future of Democracy and got drunk to deal with it.)
We noted that a new Lord had moved into town, bringing with him a new marshal and a bunch of guards/troops. We asked around and no one had anything bad to say about them, perse. It was just different. Crime was down but so was supervision. The sewers had been sealed up, much to the consternation of the Rogue who still planned to make it her base. We talked the halfling sheriff who had been made permanent in the 6 months we were gone but under the new marshal. She said that piracy was up on the river now that traffic had increased. The Red Dragons or some such. Rumor has it they are loosely affiliated with Lord Scorpix. They also periportally had a big lizard creature that fought with them. Some said it was a dragon but most dismissed that unlikely. We decided to do something about it. We went to our ship and talked to Commander Price. She seemed unconcerned. “There are always pirates.” But we informed her to make the ship battle-worthy. She said she had a commission in Long Bridge already lined up. So, we agreed to go with her, check on our magic item feelers, and if we were attacked by pirates, so much the better. A few of us had a couple things to do in town that day but after some wasted time, we left in the morning. (Daniel: Cedric mentioned "Gentle Repose" scrolls and the local priest overheard and took the opportunity to reward the party with two scrolls. Cedric inscribed it into his hybrid ritual tome and kept the other to put any dead party members on ice for easier resurrection.)
We had no problems getting to Long Bridge. The Wizard asked how long it would take and Price said just the day. If we wanted a ride back, she’d be leaving at sunset. The Wizard pointed out that this was still our ship and asked her to wait for us. We went into town to check on our magic item searches. Andy was not prepared for that Pandora’s Box so he said we had found nothing. Truthfully, our “reasonable” wants had probably changed and the “unreasonable” wants, we couldn’t afford and couldn’t just buy anyway. We milled around the market when the Wizard spotted Marisha the jungle girl watching us. She quickly ducked away and we decided to not pursue her. The Wizard found a diary in an estate sellers booth that was actually full of magical theories so he bought that. The Rogue bought a book about how-to pick-up women to aid in her pursuit of Commander Price. The Swashbuckler bought some small toys he intended to give to the kids in Jailynn. Eventually, we got back to the ship and sailed. (Daniel: Cedric bought a few books on religion in the hopes of beefing his knowledge of religion ie getting the religion proficiency. It appears he is the defacto party cleric.)
On the 3rd watch we were attacked by some snake-headed semi-aquatic creatures who climbed onto the ship. They had a snake bite with 2d6 of extra poison damage or a longbow or two scimitar attacks. Their to hit and AC were low but they had a lot of hit points to grind through. They also had an innate suggestion spell and advantage on all saves. That first round, Andy critted the Monk, doing near max damage. That was more than half his hit points in a single blow and he was stunned. (Somewhere along the way, the optional system shock rules got turned on. Andy didn't want to get into that argument so he just went with it.) The swashbuckler critted twice in his first round, tacking on extra smite damage but still didn’t drop one. The Wizard hit 5 of them with a Slow but two saved and with advantage, they others saved soon enough. But it helped. For the most part, Andy needed a crit to hit the 3 dex based melee guys but he managed to do so multiple times. It seemed like half his hits were crits but crits do a ton of damage. Some got hurt but no one went out. The Sorlock, who was eldritch blasting them off the ship, got targeted by that Suggestion power several times but used multiple powers like luck to fend most of them off. (Daniel: The first suggestion was to look at the rear of ship and to not look forward. Cedric tried to get around this by activating his divine soul, growing energy wings and flying up and then foward so he could attack while looking back. The next 2 suggestions were trickier like "don't speak for eight hours". It's a nasty spell that Cedric blew through all his luck and Divine Favor to resist.) The last two monsters managed to get away into the water. We got some longbows but that was about it. We continued into Jailynn without issue. Andy was unavailable in two weeks so we agreed to play in one week.
I like Dave's blogs very much. They are fun and they give the ephemeral feelings of the weekly games the illusion that they can last forever. So I was able to coax Dave into unearthing more stories of bygone eras. The Archives are open and I hope that Dave will supply us with more memories in the future!
As a side note, if anyone else wants to use the site as records of their adventures I am completely open to that. Basically the Blogs in the accounts are completely open to anyone, though use of the "Read More" is a bit quirky. Adding header Pictures is tricky, though embedding them is trivial. Likewise, Articles are just like web-pages and can be linked to each other... just like standard webpages.
We started by taking a short rest, figuring we’d already taken a couple of rests so one more wasn’t going to hurt us further. We weren’t really down many powers but it allowed the 2-3 characters that were beat up to get some hit points back. Next, we did an inventory of our gems. The had gems labeled 1, 3, 4 and 5 so it seemed like we were missing number 2. We then discussed where we found the ones we had, assuming a missing one would be in a room where we found none. That could only be in 2-3 places and although we were fairly certain we had done a thorough search, we decided to invest the time to make sure we hadn’t missed one. We didn’t want to cause the end of the world for the lack of one gem. Unfortunately, that took much longer than it needed to but eventually we concluded that there was no more to find. We headed to the final doors to find 4 recesses in the door in the shapes of the gems we had. (Circle, triangle, square, and pentagram to correspond to those numbers, as it turns out.) If we had done that first, maybe it would have saved us an hour searching.
With an eye towards caution, we had the Rogue use her Mage Hand to place the gems. Once in place, they started to glow and the doors swung open. In the room, we saw a large 20 sided crystal hovering just above the floor and rotating randomly. We could see numbers (in this ancient language) on each facet. 1-20. Above that was a sarcophagus, also hovering. It was covered in art and words and such. Also in the room were 4 stone chambers(?). We did as much investigation as we could without entering the room. We arrived at no solutions when the Swashbuckler bit the bullet and entered the room. Some complained about the harshness of that action but it was going to have to happen at some point. The chambers opened and each held a giant scorpion. We noticed that also inside each was a pedestal that looked like it could hold a gem. The sarcophagus opened and a mummy emerged. The gems fell out of the doors but at least they stayed open. Initiative was rolled and our Wizard went first. He shot a Fireball into the room and we were happy to see that the mummy took double damage to fire. People piled in, basically targeting the mummy at range or engaging a scorpion.
However, things quickly went south. We “killed” the mummy quickly but it didn’t seem to notice, being already dead. The scorpions got 3 attacks a round. Two claws that did decent damage and then grappled for free. And a stinger that did modest damage but then did 6d6 of poison damage on a missed CON save. Those that missed were also blinded and if you missed by 5, also paralyzed. And to make matters worse, because this was unholy ground, we had disadvantage on all our saves. So the Monk was hit, grappled, blinded and paralyzed. The Holy Paladin was hit, blinded and paralyzed. And it was only round 2. The Rogue used her Mage Hand to place 2 gems on 2 pedestals. On her next round, she did the other two and the scorpions at least went from huge to merely large. The Fighter used a bonus action to try to fling the Monk out of a claw but couldn’t best it's STR. The Sorlock cast lessor restoration on the Holy Paladin and since both conditions stemmed from the poison, he managed to end both. Our Wizard cast Slow and thankfully all 4 scorpions missed their saves, limiting them to 1 attack. That may have kept us alive even though 2 saved their next round and another the round after that.
The one with the Monk fell back and another also grappled him. Between the 2, they took him out, still blind, paralyzed, and grappled. The Swashbuckler Paladin cast a Moon Beam which was a sustained small AOE that managed to get 3 of them. Somewhere in there, Row got hit by the mummy and cursed with mummy rot or something. Despite all this and the mountain of hit points on the scorpions, they started to drop as the mummy was pretty much ignored. We hoped that taking the scorpions out would somehow help but it did not. The Holy Paladin finally got to act and did a turn undead on the mummy however before he could go, he had to save against the smoky cloud the mummy had released. He missed that save but used inspiration and rolled a 20 this time. The mummy missed his save and had to flee from his Holy power. It’s quite a power in 5.0. The level of the undead does not matter and it doesn’t get another save. It was out of action for 10 rounds as long as we didn’t attack it. We quickly finished off the scorpions. On to the puzzle.
So while the Holy Paladin kept it at bay we searched and thought and tried and argued. We did not have any success. We tried everything we could think of. About the time Andy warned us that the turn time was up, the Rogue suggested pushing all 4 gems onto facet 13, the sum of the 4. (I think the Monk had suggested the sum might mean something earlier.) When she simply touched the number 13, the crystal shattered, spilling a bunch of treasure on the floor. And the sarcophagus fell open. And the mummy charged to attack. We rerolled initiative and this time it actually took damage. It did not last long. The Swashbuckler grabbed the staff which started to talk. It tried to convince him to run away but he managed to save. The Rogue took it from him with her Mage Hand which then expired and it fell to the floor.
So we ignored the evil staff and searched through the treasure. We then realized Row was taking continual damage. A survey of our abilities revealed that we had no way to remove a curse. The offer of help from the staff was voted down. We determined that the Crown of Wound Closure would keep Row alive, hopefully until we could get him to a Cleric. So we took a short rest to allow him to attune to it, pumping healing magic into him to keep him conscious. While that was going on, our Wizard identified the magic items we’d gotten. A +2 long bow that went to the Swashbuckler. A set of +2 AC bracers that went to the Monk. And a venom dagger that went to the Rouge. We left the dungeon and got to our supply train. (We probably should have done something with the mummy.) We can place Row in the wagon along with a wrapped up evil staff. That’s still going to be a problem. Do we give it to Row so he can research how to destroy it? Is he one bad save away from becoming a corrupted 9th level Wizard? I think we stopped there.
Andy gave enough experience to make 6th level. People started leveling up as the chronicler went to bed.
We started with a bit of a rehash of the item distribution but ended up with what we had said last time. We did figure out how many charges the stun staves and the wand had. There was one scorpion item that was slightly more interesting than the rest of the miscellaneous loot that we gave to our Wizard. Next, we advanced to the altar area where the cultists that charged us last time had been hiding. But there was nothing of interest there so we created a marching order and headed down the stairs into the dungeon. A couple of light spells were cast in order to see. There was barely enough room on the map to get us all in before we came to an intersection. Corridors to the right and left and then forward was a large brazier on a scorpion floor mosaic with ornate double doors behind. As we debated how we’d check for traps, sneak, etc an enemy mage popped out and shot Row with a full load of magic missiles. We rolled initiative. A couple shot at him and others advanced to the corridors to find more cultists waiting there. So then the Swashbuckler Paladin charged towards the mage. After failing a WIS save to spot the trap, he triggered a trap door and after failing a DEX save, fell in. At the bottom, 30 feet down, were 2 hungry carrion crawlers. He made his acrobatics roll and landed on his feet. With a bonus action, he cast Misty Step and instantly got out of the pit. He didn’t have the range to get on the other side so he ended up in one of the corridors. It was quite a turn. Then their mage went again and cast an AOE zone that did 2d6 (or more?) of damage if you started your turn in it and caused darkness from the ash. That plus the rough terrain of the broken stairs and Andy said it was half movement.
Everyone blindly stumbled forward which took most of that turn but after an ineffective round, most everyone was out. The Fighter charged and leaped across the pit and tried to engaged the mage but a crossbow cultist was in the way. Our Wizard cast Ice Dagger on the cultist which then exploded into a small AOE which got the fully covered mage and the Fighter. The damage was minor but enough to finish off the mage. After that, it was quick clean up however the Monk was dropped again and the Swashbuckler Paladin and the Fighter were down to a handful of hit points. So we were immediately back to the “rest” debate. And since we did a short rest last time, we didn’t have the hit dice left to do anything but a long rest. Row spoke up and said he was confident only he had the knowledge to unlock the tomb and get the staff so a long rest wasn’t going to make any difference. So we would erect a Hut at the entrance so that we could see anyone going in or out (no one did) but first we couldn’t leave the carrion crawlers alone, with dreams of riches down there. After debate, the cantrip casters started blasting. Eventually one figured out what was going on and spit acid on the Rogue. But they were killed and we found nothing but junk down there. Time well spent.
Row revealed that his research showed that we would require keys in the form of gems to open the tomb. We went left and the first room had scorpion statues with ruby eyes. We all assumed a trap. The Rogue used her improved Mage Hand to remove the first gem which engulfed the room in fire. She managed to use it 3 more times to get the next 3 gems however the 3rd statue was out of reach. She attempted to do that one from as far as possible but still triggered the trap. But with a DEX save and her uncanny dodge, she only took quarter damage. One of those gems had a number on it. The next room was littered with bodies and there was a statue of the scorpion prince in an alcove. There was some cryptic phrase on the floor about worthy bodies or something. We assumed it would come to life but we started to move the bodies and soon enough it did. It was a construct and two giant snakes appeared with it. One snake was killed but it turned to mist and returned to the prince. His next turn, the snake returned. He took magic weapons to effect but almost everyone has one at this point so it wasn’t much of an issue. Andy couldn’t seem to hit and it was destroyed. It had a gem with a number on it as well as a crown that we later detected as magical. The next room had a pile of bones and debris on the near end and an overturned urn carved to look like an open mouth on the far end. The walls had evidence of wear so we assumed it would gust wind or something. Since we figured the right-hand corridor at the start would lead to the urn side of this room, we deferred it and went back.
The first room on the right was spherical with tiny holes along the walls. And a gem on a pedestal. Again the Rogue used her Mage Hand to grab the gem but the doors closed and we could hear a great wind. Eventually, the trap reset. The Wizard then cast an Unseen Servant and as it grabbed the gem, the Mage Hand replaced it with a stone of equal weight (a la Indiana Jones) and that worked. That trapped defeated, we moved into the room. When the 3rd entered, the doors slammed shut and a great wind threw the Wizard, Rogue and Swashbuckler into the tiny spikes that had emerged on the walls. And then two Sand Cloud formed and attacked. There was a bit of a panic, being split up like that but the Fighter, assisted by the Monk for advantage, managed to make a DC 20 STR check and rip the doors open on his 1st try. With the full party in play, the Sand Clouds did not last long. Next was a twisty corridor. The Rogue and the Wizard, searching for traps, snuck in and triggered an earthquake. Those few in the room made their saves and stayed up. Then a bunch of giant scorpions emerged from the cracks and attacked. The Rogue was hit and the 6d6 poison damage knocked her out. But then she successfully argued that her uncanny dodge should have applied, making the stinger a glancing blow, and wasn’t out. But she disengaged and got out of there. The Wizard with the highest initiative was Row so he let loose with a Fireball and toasted them all. The last two standing were wiped out by the Fighter and the Sorlock. Another gem was found.
We then came to the urn room again. We debated and decided we could reach the center room without having to mess with yet another trapped but discovered that the ornate doors in the first room were not actually doors. More trickery. So back to the urn. The Wizard used the Unseen Servant, hoping to redirect the urn. With a mighty STR check of 20, it shifted it enough to triggered a flood of slimy water down the corridor. So we avoided that but in addition, an undead slime thing came out and emerged from the bones on the other end. It was so horrible, it caused fear in a 60 radius for anyone who was aware of it. Everybody, including Row, missed their save. So we had disadvantage to hit and couldn’t get closer to it. That was a bit of a pain but its AC was low so people could still hit it. It just left some out of the action for a round or two if they weren’t in hand to hand already. Andy misread that we got a new save at the end of our turn but it was only around a couple of rounds regardless. Just before it dropped, the other one showed up but we saved much better this time. Andy couldn’t seem to hit and it was quickly over. We got one more gem which, based on the numbers, means that we’ve got 4 out of 5?
Based on the map we could see, that leaves one room in the center. We did not turn that corner however, calling it a night. That crown was a Periapt of Wound Closure. Once attuned, the wearer automatically stabilizes on his turn if he’s unconscious. And rolls 2 dice for the price of 1 when doing the selfheal thing during a short rest. It would be of use to most anybody however since the Monk has likely gone out more than everybody else combined, he was the logical choice.
Andy started us on a huge battle map with the ruins in the distance. We could see them, hiding behind pillars and statues but they could also see us, standing in the desert. We had no cover and since they could already see us, any plans of sneaking seemed unrealistic. We threw out some ideas but then Andy rolled initiative and set forth the large lion headed beast things at us. Despite their 40’ move it would take a while for the two of them to get to us. Those with ranged weapons (including the Fighter with his strong bow) moved forward in hopes of getting a shot or two at them before they were upon us. The fast moving meleers moved up and prepared to meet them. That left the Holy Paladin sort of in the back. He’s not built for speed. That all worked well. One of the lion giants was killed before reaching any of us and the second only got one claw on the Swashbuckler Paladin before falling. Meanwhile, the rest of the cultists charged from their positions and approach in a continuous wave. And there were a lot of them. The good news is that by charging us, they gave up their cover whereas we had none anyway.
At first, we were keeping up. The first ones were relatively weak and Row hit them with some AOEs to soften them up. We killed a bunch without taking any real damage however they started to get tougher. The last to arrive was a mage and a high cleric who started casting spells. In addition, there were 3-4 acolytes who also had spell slots up to 3rd level (although limited choices) and 3 guys with stunning staffs that cause paralysis on a failed CON save. Things started to turn when we couldn’t keep up. Then the Swashbuckler Paladin was hit was a Command and fell prone. As people moved to help him, the high priest hit him and the Rogue with a Hold Person. That causes paralysis which means advantage to be hit and an automatic crit if hit. Anybody that could, tried to break the concentration of the caster from range but he made 50/50 roll after 50/50 roll. Somehow the Swashbuckler managed to avoid getting hit too much despite his state but the Rogue was not so lucky. She fell as the Monk tried to charge the caster only to be stopped by a foe with the Sentinel feat. Meanwhile the Holy Paladin finally got into the action and quickly found himself surrounded by 4 foes and no allies. Luckily their damage was low and with his 3 points of damage reduction, he managed to take blow after blow. The Fighter finally switched to his maul and started to clear away the wounded but with two of us down and many more foes still closing, it was looking dicey.
The Fighter was hit by one of those stunning staves but saved on the next round so he only lost one action. The Monk managed to finish off the high priest with a handful of hit points to spare. Our Wizard hit theirs with a Hold Person but unfortunately we had no one who could get to him to get that guaranteed crit. But it did stop him from shooting at us for a couple rounds. Then the Sorlock healed the downed Rogue and Swashbuckler. The former finally got to act after spending most of the night prone, paralyzed and/or unconscious. And the later managed to get to their wizard and crit him with a sneak attack since he was still paralyzed. When he was dropped, the tide had turned. The acolytes were still casting and there were still guys left but it started to head towards clean up. A couple fled and were run down. An acolyte hit the Fighter with an Inflict Wounds as a last act and drop him but the Rogue finished him off with some supporting spell fire. The Holy Paladin was still swinging but with allies helping, his foes were cleared out as well. And we were done. Most were down to a handful of hit points. So much for the prelude to the “actual” dungeon.
We search them and found various bit and pieces plus some magic items. We did a detect magic and identifies. A potion of healing which the Rogue took to replace the one he used 2 games ago. A scroll of Unseen Servant which we already knew. Maybe we can sell it or trade it. 2.5 of those Scorpion staves. They’re a +1 quarterstaff. They do that paralysis on charges which recharge at dawn. One of them is out of charges so it could turn to dust on a 1. The Monk took one as he can use it as a Monk weapon. One went to the Sorlock since he can declare any weapon to be his Hex blade and use his CHR to attack with it. Lastly was the wand which Andy created. It has 3 spells in it that are powered by common charges that recover at the dawn. Don’t know how many it has. It can cast Dust Devil (2nd), Thunderwave (1st) and the Burn Flesh that we saw used (probably 3rd). Despite the fact that the Wizard just got a magic cloak, it was a better fit for him over the Sorlock. Another spell pool will be welcomed since long rests are becoming harder to get.
We debated the long vs short rest as always. Eventually we realized that with a short rest, we’d actually be in pretty good shape. Most characters mostly reset with a short rest. Of the part time casters, neither Paladin seemed to have used many spells. The Rogue didn’t use any. The cleric less Monk version no longer has any long rest powers at all and the Sorlock is mostly getting his powers from the Warlock class which doesn’t need long rest either. The only ones really affected are the Wizards however our Wizard cast mostly long ranged cantrips due to the size of the map. With the arcane recovery, he’s almost full up. Row used more spells but he recovers more from the same arcane recovery and has more to start with so while depleted, he should be okay. So we took a short rest and burned through most our healing dice. (The next rest will likely have to be a long one as a result.) Only the Monk rolled poorly on that and will be going in hurt with the Holy Paladin yet to roll.
We came upon some ruins in the sand. There was a tower and some pieces of walls visible. We could also see a cave in the side of the hill. The pseudo ranger (Swashbuckler) called a halt to the column as his spider-sense was tingling but it was pretty evident to all of us when grids formed under our feet, we could expect trouble. We decided to roll initiative to avoid talking over each other but that’s a bit problematic when there were no foes on the map. The bat was sent aloft to look for ambushers on the dunes. The Wizards armored up. The Swashbuckler moved forward towards the cave and could see boot-clad footprints going in and out of it but in this desert, it was hard to determine how old they were. Suddenly an ankheg burst forth from the ground and attacked. Ultimately there were 6, I think. The Swashbuckler and Monk got grabbed and several took an acid stream. The Sherpas also took some acid but thankfully the damage roll was low and they survived.
We unleashed some firepower. The Fighter critted 3 times in a row. The Swashbuckler critted also and added smite damage. Our Wizard did a Fireball and a Shatter and the NPC Wizard did a weak Fireball and then a Cone of Cold near the end which about finished them off. (5th level so he’s at least 9th.) No one went out and we used up some daily powers. We searched the cave but found that it was really not much more than a dugout to get out of the heat. There was some confusion when some of us thought this was the final stop and started doing extensive excavations, looking for the dungeon entrance. Andy was perplexed/annoyed as to why so much time was being spent on a random encounter in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, we sorted that out, stopped searching (found nothing) and bedded down for the night.
The next stop on the map was an oasis which thankfully was still there. There were two groups already encamped. Since the heat of the day was approaching, everyone minded their own business and made camp. They eyed us and we eyed them. At sunset, as we prepared to leave, the captain of one group approached and talked to the pseudo bard (Swashbuckler). Both sides tried to get information but neither side revealed much of anything. We did get the impression that they had more experience in the desert so perhaps they were traders and not treasure seekers (or cultist) but we couldn’t be sure. When we realized the other tent didn’t seem to be with them, he and Sorlock went to talk to them. Again, not much was learned. That guy claimed his lady patron was tired and they’d be staying a bit longer. The Paladin can cure disease and maybe poison but it was just exhaustion so no help was wanted.
We left but the keen-sighted spotted that last guy paralleling us from a distance. The Paladin sent his warhorse over to learn what it could. It got beyond his range to communicate with it and did not return. He re-summoned it the next day. Zephyr said that the guy met up with others at the ruined towers at the end of the canyon, about a half a day from our destination. Plans were discussed but ultimately we decided we’d rather face an ambush we knew about than face them in the ruins at the end. However, when we got there, no one was there. More discussions. Row gave us a bit more information. He thought that in the sarcophagi of the Scorpion Prince, was a powerful magic staff that could be used to bring back the evil sultan. So our main goal was to stop that. He felt that only he and his research knew how to open it and had the right gems to do so. So despite their lead, they wouldn’t be able to finish without us. Plus, maybe they could clear out the traps and undead for us. (yeah right) It was mentioned that perhaps bringing the ability to open it to them was a bad idea but it was full speed ahead. Action over inaction.
So we took our rest. We moved up to the last ruins before the last one and left our noncombatants there. We proceeded on foot, with heavy armor on and came upon the ruins. The module Andy was using describe it but didn’t provide a picture. He tried to create one but it was incomplete and he was dissatisfied. Perhaps he’ll have a better one next time. Basically it was your standard ruins but with an enormous stone scorpion built upon the mountains behind it. Just under its mouth was an entrance going down. We could see that gems had been removed from it. We could also see lots of bad guys hiding in the rocks awaiting us. (We assume cultists but they could be treasure hunters or bandits, I suppose.) We stopped there, prior to starting a big fight after 11. This time we’ll have to be economical with our powers as I suspect we’ll have several fights without a long rest in order to save the world this time. Next game would be Friday.
We did a side bookkeeping run for a couple of hours. Andy expressed his dislike of familiars so Dan will go with the ritual book feat plan (allowing this feat in lieu of Book of Ancient Secrets) for his character modification. We met with Captain Harken and got paid for our efforts to rescue her crew. The Monk overheard Marisha talking to Captain Harken about passage back to Long Bridge where she was hoping to re-engage with her life. A fee of 25 gp was requested but she didn’t have it so the Monk paid on her behalf. We later agreed to give Marisha and Commander Price an equal share of that reward (not the treasure) so we had to juggle our money sheets a bit. We debated what to do with the ship. The upshot was that we hired Price to find a place to store it for now.
The Rogue and Swashbuckler went with the Monk to his temple to see about the Greater Restoration. That was no problem but he wouldn’t state a price. Just “whatever you feel is appropriate”. Andy would not help either and it wasn’t defined in the books. Player opinions varied greatly but all agreed it should come out of party funds since it could have been any of us. Eventually, the two of them paid out of their own pockets, what they thought was appropriate and put the discussion out of our misery. The generous-minded Fighter donated some of his money on his own. The Rogue attempted to impress Price by giving her a tour of the undercity only to discover that all of the entrances had but spiked shut. We assumed that was the city’s doing. We also noticed an increase in the guards and soldiers in town. I guess that happens in up and coming towns.
The Swashbuckler Paladin rode his newly summoned horse to the temple and got his strength restored. He and the Rogue continued to vie for Commander Price’s attention. At the mage school, that adventuring Wizard, Row showed up and wanted to talk to our Wizard. He had heard of our exploits, recovering the pirate ship and defeating a demon wanted to make us an offer. He then told him and the Rogue, and eventually the rest of the party, a bit of history. In the north there was a Sultan and the Scorpion Prince who allied their kingdoms by marriage and then invaded the humans and elves to the south. It was a long war, hundreds of years ago. A group of heroes snuck north and managed to kill the Sultan. His death caused darkness across the land for a week, the whole region to shake with earthquakes and sink and turned the once-powerful kingdom into the desert it is today. The Wizard’s history and lore skills confirmed these legends.
But there was a prophecy. One day he would return. There would be more earthquakes and the ancient land would reemerge from the desert. Evidently that has started to happen. Row has been doing research on the matter and knows that adventurers have started heading into the land, looking for treasures in the purportedly newly uncovered ruins. His concern is that they (or someone else) may unwittingly (or on purpose) unleash (restore) the evils of the past to wreak vengeance on the present. He had pieced together a map which showed the location of an important ruin and needs heroic adventurers to help him get there and … do good, I suppose. There was some lengthy confusion about the map and how it relates to the world map but basically the path would be up the river to Long Bridge, then due north into the mountains to the Deep Valley Inn. From there, a couple days northwest and into the desert. With any luck, and assuming his map was accurate, several weeks across the desert to the ruins.
Some of us expressed concerns over such a dangerous endeavor but heroic evil smiters won out (plus that was the adventure presented). The standard “treasure found” fee was agreed upon or at least accepted. Row would be coming and paying for provisioning. We took the ship to Long Bridge, leaving Price in charge of crewing it, guarding it, storing it. There, Row purchased camels for all, a wagon and a yak to haul it, supplies for a couple of months including water caskets and some hire hands to help. While in Long Bridge, the Holy Paladin and the Monk spotted Marisha eyeing them in the market. She had had no luck finding her former friends. The Monk extended an offered for her to come with us, pending approval, much to the chagrin of the Paladin who’s detect evil still could not get a reading on her, but she turned him down. She had feelers out for her former crew and couldn’t be gone that long. The trip to the Deep Valley Inn was uneventful, traveling through civilized lands. Along the way, Row gave our Wizard the Tiny Hut ritual so that we could have 2 huts and accommodate everyone in the desert.
The inn, keep and village were very nice, up in a valley in the mountains. The Rogue claimed it for her own thieves’ guild and the Swashbuckler mused about how hard it would be to take over completely. Some suits of studded leather armor were purchased so that the heavy armor wearers wouldn’t bake in the heat. That night, we heard an explosion and felt some extreme heat from the north wing of the inn. (Row’s fireball.) As we scrambled, we saw Row running off into the forest, after some bandit types. (So much for being his guards.) We later learned they had broken in and were rifling through his possessions. We gave chase and ended up on a battle map next to a pond. So it was 3-4 thugs who turned out to be very tough, 3-4 guards, 2 bandit thieves and one priest. The priest cast Hold Person on Row and then the thieves grabbed stuff off him (map and notes and such). However, armed with our 5th level firepower, they didn’t last long. Some 3d6 sneak attacks, a couple of Fighter crits, extra attacks from the fighter types, double eldritch blasts for the Sorlock and a Slow from our Wizard and they were vanquished. The last, poisoned himself rather than be captured and to save us an hour of fruitless questioning.
About the only thing of interest on them was some scorpion bracelets on the priest that seem to function as his holy symbol. Row said that there were legends about a Scorpion Prince cult but he assumed it had died out over the centuries. Evidently not. We decided to stay an extra day so we could get a long rest in and proceed fully loaded in case there were more of them. The Swashbuckler and Fighter searched the area and found what they thought was their camp but no useful information was found. The Holy Paladin and the Wizard talked to the keep lord and asked about the cult. He didn’t know anything about that but he did say there had been an increase in traffic of late. Mostly treasure hunting adventurer types. He also confirmed the recent earthquakes and gave us a heads up that the desert floor was indeed a 15-foot drop. But the trail was being cut by the traffic and we could get down if skillful and careful.
We headed out, paranoid as ever, but spotted no one. We passed by the massive twin dead oaks on the map and entered the desert. We decided to travel in the morning and the evening and rest and sleep in the night and mid-day. The Tiny Huts made the first stop quite pleasant. When Andy tried to bring up a battle map, he closed the whole thing by mistake. But it was after 1AM his time, Jon was signing off anyway and we decided to call it an early night. We’ll go again on Saturday since we’re all stuck at home.