At some point all the blood and destruction and broken homes and shattered economies and EVERYTHING crazy that your party's do and leave behind them is going to catch up. I've had it happen before and I always pay some attention to what decisions they make and hope to weave it into the greater tapestry of the world my character's live in.
And it just happened to work out that they faced and defeated three dragons in the period of 2 months in game time. Now, none of these dragons were at all very powerful: 2 of them were about 50 years of age, and the green was just about 130 - nothing to be considered awe-inspiring wyrm. Non of them had any spell power or dragonfear.
So it went to be that I wanted the equivalent of a powerful dragon to let them know that their foray's against lizard-kind were noted, disapproved of, and should be curtailed. So when I designed this adventure - I was running two concurrent paths for the party to explore - Aaron Skelt and the dead man's constant rising from the grave, and Myris the red dragon setting the scene for the party to be in a place far from help, weak from spells, and then eventually trapped underground while he ransacked whatever they felt was important to them.
The two themes went back and forth over each other but in reality had nothing to do with one another - it was two adventures at the same time in town.
And the group really came together for this one - I was proud of them.
Write up follows:
We gathered in the hall, readied our weapons and discussed quietly which of us was going to go on point and attack the volatile mage Fazon and his cronies in the next chamber first. It was decided that Bron would spearhead the assault, the master being the most nimble, speedy, and adept of us all in hand to hand combat. So Norris whistled up a silence charm on the monastic’s claymore while he downed a potion of Infravision and readied himself with Ironskin, Adrenaline control, and drew his blade free – going for a Sure Strike to end Fazon right out and once and for all. The rest of the group was going to follow a few seconds behind, hitting the guards within the chamber like a hammer to an anvil.
Bron nodded to us all, threw his armor class to the wind, and ran down the hall at full speed. He turned the corner and took in the surroundings swiftly – two tables up ended, four men behind with crossbows at the ready, a man behind them in full wizard’s regalia, and a bow wielding skulking figure near the end of the chamber by a crudely fitting door. Most of the men within were surprised at Bron’s charge, more so when the monk vaulted over the table with his pole arm as a lever, clearing the top by almost 6 feet. He dropped his staff, expertly drew his blade, and slammed it full force into the mage figure who was apparently ready for the monk.
He slammed his quarterstaff on the floor and the top burst into flame, which he tried to intersect Bron with. Fire laced about the area, setting the monk’s clothes on fire – but nothing else (Hooray for Ironskin). And then the claymore hit and clove the staff wielding mage figure almost in half and killed him instantly.
Of the 4 guardsmen, only 1 was not stunned into inaction. He dropped his crossbow and climbed over the table barricade, running for thesafety of the hallway and away from the terrifying monk. Only to hit the rest of the group coming towards the fight. He begged for mercy and Gwyn chopped him down, the dwarf proceeding past while Grid gave the bandit a whack to the noggin and ended his cries and begging.
Meanwhile, the skulking bow sporting figure was trying to wave his hands arcanically which seemed to piss him off (inside the silence globe!) so he drew a ring of keys and went to escape out the door. The party arrived at this point and Soren’s deadly bow skill dropped one of the guards who was going to shoot Bron in the back, the monk running to stop and intercept the fleeing skulking figure.
He kicked through the door and tackled the fleeing man who was still waving his hands wildly about as if casting some spells, but frustrated in the silence zone. As for the rest of the guards, they saw the writing on the wall and let fall their weapons, declaring themselves unwilling to fight any longer. We ran out past the door and watched as Bron was rolling about the ground with the wiry figure, eventually the group keeping him from falling off the edge and capturing him, bringing him into the room.
We quickly ascertained that the figure we thought of as Fazon was a ruse and this man was actually the erstwhile mage. He was divested of his belongings, one of which was an enchanted set of leathers which the party took and donned – pleased to note that the hide was draconic in nature! We played question and answer with Fazon and the guards until we learned that Myris was definitely below and he contacts the 3 mages here at least once a day with some telepathic spell, and such contact was seemingly done already. We consolidated our prisoners and discovered that throughout it all we had the three mages (Fazon, Girk and the “other one”), and 5 brigands the mages were using as guardsmen. Coupled that to our own party of 5 and then the additional 3 still living guards (Grid, Ve, and Hagni) we were growing uncomfortable still being down here.
The decision was made to work our way out.
We were going to go back to the top, let the Captain of the guard know what was going on, and then get more men and come down here and storm Myris’ position. We trussed up our prisoners (both Girk and the nameless mage pretty hurt) and walked then back to the elevating chimney, rode the enchantment back to the 2nd level, and started our trek back to the main shaft. Along the way we did ask some of the talkative guards about the two rooms we had seen and not gone into. The room with the clay jars was from some other thief group that had used the caves some time ago and were brewing their own poison – it was very virulent and unfortunately air borne – so anyone who screwed with the covers usually got a dose of it.
As for the room with the sticks, that’s all they were – just sticks. ;)
At the chasm it was decided that Hagni and Bron would climb out, trundling up the 120’ of rope to the surface. Along the way Bron was going to also take the body of Bor out with him, the fallen guard strapped to his back and tied on with ropes. Hagni started climbing the rope first and after a few moments, Bron followed suit.
And about 20’ up the rope the strands near the top broke free and the entire length fell down the shaft taking Hagni, Bron and Bor with it. They screamed as they fell into the darkness with Bron using his preternatural monastic skills to kick off on the passing stone wall, his hands catching tiny indents and protuberances, slowing his fall slightly as he twisted in mid air, his still potion enhanced vision picking out a platform coming up fast. He pulled himself in and rolled over so that the dead body of Bor would take the impact from his fall and he struck with a bone jarring crash. His backpack made a crinkling sound as his potion bottles shattered within and the leather ties binding him to Bor burst upon impact.
The party heard the fall of their friends and then the screams of Hagni shunting off as the guard slammed into the positioned elevator far below, shattered the fragile stays holding it in place, and the entire mechanism rattled and clanged and roared as it collapsed the last 100’ to the floor far below with a choking spray of gravel, dust, and splinters. Then the squeal of excited bats echoed about and the party was frantic – what they hell happened?!?!
Eventually Bron let the group know he was alive. He took stock of his area – a shirt corridor leading down a dozen paces to a crudely fitted door – and according to what the group had learned, at least another pair of the brigand guards and a room with a portal to the 5th level. But he was wounded and pressed for time and the monk had to get the hell out of here now. The remainder of the party meanwhile happy to know that Bron was alive shoved and pushed and cajoled everyone back away from the chasm and back down the corridor to escape any spotting from potential bats as well as just getting the hell out of dodge.
And then we heard, “I know you’re here.” It sounded deep and from below and echoed as if by magic down every room, chamber, and corridor. “You’ve come a long way and it’s time that we finished this, Soren and company, Sundered Chains.” The voice was Myris and he then proceeded to detail some knowledge of the entire party – saying who they were, some of their recent exploits, and where they’ve been. He touched on everyone except for Bron and Brother Beren but did mention Olthar and Zoltan.
During all of this Bron was looking through his gear and unwrapped the Orcas created Book of Infinite Spells that Norris and Beren had trusted him with. Knowing that Henian had used the tome to learn magic on his own without a tutor and having learned from the bard that the book can provide “just the spell one really needs” if it is opened randomly (with the negative problem of awakening zombies in the process) – Bron drew a deep breath and flipped the pages open.
And it settled on a spell titled, “Fly”.
He read the words and then realized that he was able to soar with only his thoughts to guide him. Knowing the bats were getting closer Bron shot towards the chasm and then straight up and out of the hole, settling near wolverine “Digger” still waiting patiently above for the rest of the party to return. It was dusk now and the light was fading fast.
Meanwhile the group had taken refuge in the room that had the quasit in it earlier, satisfied that they had given the bats the slip and hoping that Bron was away. Myris continued to talk to the group and was growing wroth that they were still “unfound”. So he said, “You have hidden yourself well, little mice. Let me see, since I know you did not dispatch any of my mageborn minions, I can assume they are with you. Ahem. ALICE,” with that the nameless mage lifted his head and the rest of the group muttered, “wait – his name is Alice?”
Myris continued, “Alice In Vas Flam Grav Por!!!”
And then the mage known as Alice looked down as his belly which suddenly glowed bright yellow and he exploded into a tremendous ball of gore splattered fire.
The fireball consumed the mage and filled the chamber without a problem, sweeping over everyone in its mad haste to escape. But the damage from the flames were more than enough to slay some of the brigands as well as fatally wound Girk, the 2nd mage.
Who muttered, “Oh…fuck!” a moment before the contingent fireball gem he had also imbibed some weeks unknowingly from Myris shattered on the passing of his hit point total from positive to negative – and a 2nd fire ball tore through the already oxygen starved chamber slaying the last of the brigands, wounding the hell out of the group, killing Grid the guardsman, and bringing Fazon to a dangerous low 2 hit point total (the last mage terrified at seeing what happened and not wanting the same to happen to him). We heard Myris chuckle, “Gotcha!” and then the sound of something flying in the distant chimney.
We ran out of the quasit chamber and down the hall toward the elevator – the squeal of bats funneling into the corridor behind up growin loud as well as the heavy sound of something with mass landing on the 2nd level platform area. Fazon was staying with us, begging for us to save him. Gwyn and Soren talked and it was decided that keeping Fazon with us was dangerous and too much of a risk – we needed to get rid of the mage and do it in a way that would not have him blow up around us. And that reminded the party of the room with the 3 casks filled with airborn poison.
Soren prayed to Frey, asking his god to grant Gwyn the ability to delay and poisonings he might encounter. The god replied in the affirmative to the ranger – and then said, “and tell the dwarf he’s fire retardant as well.” Soren paused. “What?” “”You know,” Frey quipped, “let the dwarf know he’s also resistant to fire.” Then he heard the god laugh in his mind and the contact seemed to break. Upon telling this the Gwyn both Soren and the dwarf felt that Frey was screwing with them and opted to treat the spell as poison resistance only, not fire resistance.
Gwyn shoved the mage ahead of him, the rest of the party going into the elevator area. Fazon wouldn’t let go so the angry dwarf lifted him up and hurled him into the room with the poison casks – and seemed to actually throw him OVER the casks in his fury. Fazon was thrilled to be alive and was trying to make his way back when Gwyn then took an iron bar and hurled it at the casks in an effort to break them – also missing the pottery jars. Fazon was screaming at him to stop and we heard the bats getting closer – time was about out.
So it was a steady throw one more time from the angry dwarf, this time ringing off Fazon’s skull with a hollow thwock, dropping the mage with a meaty thud. Gwyn ran as fast as he could for the elevator as Fazon exploded from his own swallowed gem and his negative hit point total, the wall of flame catching up to him just as he made a frantic leap for the elevator shaft, enacting the levitating runes, and the dwarf fell into the hole as the fireball washed overhead with a snarling roar.
The same fireball that burst all three poison filled cask, sending a wave of poison tinged air down the corridors, into the approaching bats, infecting them and then setting them on fire.
From above Bron heard first one blast and then a second, a bit of smoke trailing out of the hole. It was when the 3rd one sounded that he was going to go back into the hole that he beheld something coming out of the darkness.
It was a man, about 5’10”, a bit heavy set, black hair, ruddy complexion, and a sense of power about him. And he was floating as if flying without wings or support. He was frowning as he stared into the smoking hole and waving his hand to scatter some of the soot from him. Bron figured that this was Myris and confronted the flying mage.
“Who the hell are you?” Myris asked, snarling at the monk to get the hell out of here he had things to take care of. Bron then flew off the side of Murderer’s Hole and blasted as hard as a blow he could against the mage’s head, attempting to knock him out but failing. The two of them struggled in mid air for a few moments until Myris grappled with Bron and tried to drive the mage against the cliff wall by flying the two of them there furiously fast. Bron twisted in mid air and slung Myris ahead of him, driving the mage against the rock face and bloodying his face with scratches and small cuts.
“Enough of this,” Myris growled and hissed some arcanic words making a fiery bow and arrow appear in his hands – shooting the burning brand at Bron who dodged barely in time, whacking Myris along the head with his polearm.
The rest of the group once again on the 4th level spent a few moments healing up with what little healing was left and then made their way back towards the main chimney area.
Myris effected not knowing who Bron was, saying that he was taking care of some verminous adventuring group and had no time to waste with the flying monk. He snagged his hands together and sent a fireball coursing towards the now rapidly retreating monk. Bron escaped just ahead of the blast and went low to the ground to avoid being seen.
Satisfied that he had gotten rid of the annoying monk, Myris settled himself over the hole and dropped down into the darkness. Bron slowly flew back in see what was going on.
The party was back in the room they had fought Fazon in, turning the tables around so they can use it as cover, Norris hiding in the corner hear it so he could attempt a surprising blow should the mage come through. We heard Myris say through his augmented magical voice, “Sorry about that, I was distracted. Hmmm…you took out my bats, clever. Makes it hard for me to find you.” He paused. “But it matters not because I can already tell where you are.”
He then went on about killing his family and how they couldn’t expect to do that and get away with it. He’s spent almost a month studying us and learning about us and what we were capable of doing so he could set up this lure here and take the group out correctly. Who did we kill? The party was wracking their heads trying to figure it out. And if he wanted to take us out, why the convoluted plot?
Myris informed us that he didn’t want us dead, not just yet and not for some time. He just wanted us to know the horror of having our lives torn down around us. Then something heavy landed on the other side of the 4th level landing and we heard Myris’ voice much closer. “Time to get this over with.” The door was locked and he grew wroth. “You fools, you can’t keep me out!”
Then we heard a whumphing sound and something leatherine and cracking and the door bulged inward until it burst with a wrenching sound – revealing the snout of a furious and scarred looking red dragon!
Shit! Fuck! Myris was a big assed angry red god damned dragon!
He took a breath in to breathe and Soren plugged the beast from the other side of the cover. Norris unfurled the scroll of “Ice Wall” we had picked up earlier and the bard poured the enchanted icy wall right over the dragon’s snout, filling up the corridor, and taking over 2/3rd of the volume of the room. Myris exhaled and his inferno released his jaws from the ice, melted most of the local ice around him, and tore down about 60% of the compacted ice wall leaving only a thin 4’ ribbon of dense blue ice between the party and the dragon.
The group grabbed their gear and ran back down the 4th level corridor away from the dragon and once more towards the back of the area near the elevator.
Bron looked down the hole and saw the dragon in the gloom, fire coursing past its jaws, the great beast taking up the entire bottom of the shaft. He took a deep breath, withdrew the Orcus Book from his pack, flipped it randomly opened and read the spell that appeared there. Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere.
An absolute zero temperate ball of intense cold ice blasted away from the monk, ripped deep into the column, and splattered with moaning power against the red dragon pinned inside the area. Myris screamed terribly and looked up, fixing Bron with a single baleful eye. The monk took off at a tremendous pace and flew towards the safety of the wyvern watchtowers.
Myris polymorphed himself back into his human guise and popped out of Murderer’s hole looking around with death in his gaze. Bron was calling out to the guards manning the tower that the flying figure wreathed in smoke and fire was a magical wyvern like threat. The guards were shocked at what they had been hearing so far for the last 20 minutes that they fired the ballista at the flying Myris – hitting the soaring mage and dropping him halfway to the ground. Bron was pumping his fist and snarling “Yes!”.
Myris shook his head and growled out, “Ok, enough of this shit!” and then polymorphed back into his dragon form. The local wyvern towers were ringing the bells and calling out, “Dragon!” while they shot at the 200’ long hovering beast. Bron dodged away, flying for the next wyvern tower at Myris took a lungful of air and breathed 126 hit points of red dragon breath at the tower our monk had just escaped from. The three guards were immolated instantly and the finger of flame crashed wildly about as the 40’ tall wood, stone, and leather tarped structure was consumed.
As the dragon dove towards another tower Bron wanted to get the hell out of here. He streaked away to the south and then back around towards Cornblood Keep where panic was beginning to set in. He pointed out to the Captain of the guard the dragon and was assured that the militia was getting their men together and crossbows to the ready. However we had another problem as more people were streaming in and crying about the seemingly multitudinous number of ghoulish creatures popping up for the last 10 minutes and attacking the citizenry.
Myris meanwhile loosed his breath weapon on the animal paddock, setting the horses and cows within ablaze and forcing the beasts to stampede, taking down fences and setting other local thatched roofs on fire. The dragon seeing the massing of people near the town square winged over and strafed the ground, breathing out yet another fire blast. Over 60 crossbow bolts were shot skyward, most of them hitting the prodigal bulk of the dragon but few of them seeming to actually hurt the creature. Meanwhile his latest pass set the town square, the stocks, part of the court house, the militia, a section of Falconhand park, and finally Three Finger Weaver’s on fire and killed at least 2 dozen townsfolk, sending scores more fleeing in dragon born terror.
Bron was horrified. As the beheld the dragon winging over and taking up position near the northern part of Broken Hills, ready to blast his way down Main street, he grit his teeth and took out the damned Orcus Book one more time, tearing it opened and reading the words that appeared: Monster Summoning VIII!
A 35’ tall gigantic figure appeared with electricity running across it’s bluish white skin, a terrible glower in its eyes. Storm Giant. The townsfolk nearby screamed, and Bron felt himself twist inside, his skin growing pale, and hair and eyes changing – a crueler outlook on life taking over his mind set as the evil of the damned book took a piece of him. The giant looked at the monk and Bron pointed at the dragon diving fast now, saying simply, “Kill it!”
The Storm Giant replied, “Yes, Master,” its voice like an avalanche of boulders, and it channeled a blast of lightning into its hand and sent the bolt tearing upward to slam into the dragon’s side. Myris dropped lower and that allowed the Storm Giant to leap, grab the wyrm by the hind leg, and drag it down to earth where the two titanic bodies smashed into the cistern and sent 50,000 gallons of water to sweep across the fire scarred ground near the town square.
And then we heard alarm bells ringing on the north end of town as the guards and watch up there were fleeing from the cemetery and the people were crying out, “Shadows! Sweet Thor save us! The dead are arising! Shadows!” Flying up to get a better vantage point Bron watched as a black wave emerged from the graveyard and undead shadows swept into buildings, homes, and through cracks, draining the strength and life from the populace there. He then looked at the Orcus crafted Book of Spells he had been using and felt terrible remorse, knowing that his constant use of the cursed tome had made this latest evil befall the people.
While the dragon and the Storm Giant rolled across the ground, knocking Rainbarrels’ Ale and Spirits flat and caving in half of the Swaddling Goose Inn, their wild titanic battle also killed what populace was nearest to them. And to Bron’s horror he watched the recently slain dead arise as shadows themselves and tear off through the town for more prey. The militia was torn between holding off the mounting undead and stopping the dragon and giant.
The monk then took off as fast as he could southward, sweeping far outside the borders of town before coming back to Murderer’s Hole and dropping down to find his group and try to not only link back up, but also explain the terror that was befalling Broken Hills above; the weight of Orcus’ damned spell book weighing heavily on his back…and on his heart.