I am not sure when I started using this and then again when I stopped using it, it had to be many decades ago, but I have brought it back to bear recently (last 6 years?) and find it to work out really nice. Your Strength, Intelligence, yada yada represents your "at best" score and potential - the same way an IQ score represents your intelligence quotient - it is not necessarily how smart you are - but how smart you are capable of being. Many things can negatively impact this - and the same goes for ability scores.
I like the idea of the Intellect Devourer - but just don't like the way it is presented, especially in a non-psionic campaign. What I've done is I think, made it more inside the realm of possibility and made it that much more possible for a party to engage and resolve themselves with.
Of course getting brain-smacked down to an Int of 1 just takes all the "fairness" and "resolving" out of the equation. At least for the poor sod who was slapped upside the head.
Write up follows:
After healing and bandages were applied, the party discussed our next options. We were hurt and down some resources, but wanted to press on. Ben and Urthar were going to stay in the main room along with Rattirig and Bill, watching the grand foyer as well as keeping a ready eye at the stairs down and the unconscious Funtarig. From the main entrance chamber on the Lizard Man side (that had fought to from the back way), there were two doors on the north side, one of which had water at and around it staining the floor. We talked about it briefly and decided to check the other door first.
Once Fist’al pronounced it clear of traps, Tempi led the group in and we entered. It was a charnel house. Various goblin bodies were hanging from hooks above and their guts were stung out, stretched on complicated loom and braces to dry, and some crude unfinished bows and arrows were in here.
Tempi noted something on the opposite wall and it revealed itself to be a 4’ ambulatory pulsing brain on what seemed to be 4 muscular leonine legs. Arcanocere! The Half-orc stormed forward and was struck hard, the spectral whips flailing about his face and neck. He stumbled, dropped his sword, and fell barely breathing. The arcanocere then runs to the west, leaps, and hits the wall where it seems to phase right through it. A clattering of junk falls to the ground in front of the wall where it flew and then it is gone.
Flimflam and Fergus try to help Tempi who received a double blast from the Arcanocere. His intelligence has dropped to “1”, and he is effectively brain dead. They help him up and the group now needs to hole up somewhere and quickly, as without Tempi and Funtarig, we have no chance in a frontal assault with any future lizardmen.
Bill goes and checks out the things that the Arcanocere seemed to have left behind, a smattering of coins, a bowl of dog stew, a pipe, very good pipeweed, and a battered ships compass. What the hell? We gathered it up and it was decided that we should hole up somewhere now. What about Funtarig? It’s at this point that Ben (who was watching the front door) reported that he saw the arcanocere running past the Grand Foyer and seemed to phase right through the front door!
Fergus, Fist’al, and the lone goblin that stayed with us (not Rattireg Shoemaker) all hoisted Funtarig off the ground and proceeded to drag him towards the goblin area. Meanwhile the rest of the group led Tempi out of the lizardman area and eventually across the courtyard to the Chapel.
They went first to the priest’s quarters where they looked around carefully, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. Listening to the concealed doorway, they did hear some commotion in the chapel itself, leading them to believe the arcanocere had run there. Was it attacking the horses? Do they confront it? They discussed the matter for a bit (while Tempi was staring straight ahead and soiling himself) and then decided to frontal assault the brain beast. Weapons at the ready they tore open the concealed door and rushed the area…finding the horses here, two chickens, and near the front door, 3 bales of hay and a large bucket of oats. The arcanocere had gone.
Meanwhile Fergus and Fist’al had dragged Funtarig to the goblin side of the Foyer. The cart had been ruined, the bracings broken. Lizard man and goblin bodies abounded. A number of goblins were here and they wanted someone to be in charge. Fergus wanted to give Funtarig and leave but the goblins were clamoring for guidance. He gave them some suggestions such as block the door any way possible, maybe get the other door from the lizardman side and install it here, someone take care of Funtarig. Get the lizardman bodies now while they can.
Picking one goblin in particular, he asked his name, learning it was Meridint. And then he intoned by the power of the Doglords and the fact that Funtarig was currently out, Meridint was the new defacto goblin leader and Duuk Garthick should obey him. His charge executed, the paladin and thief tried to leave as fast as they could, getting to the front door where they opened it…
Face to face with the Arcanocere.
It brain whipped both of them, sapping both of the intelligence in the process (Fist’al more than the Fergus). Then it tried to run up the stairs while goblins ran helter skelter and Fergus was shouting at the elf to “Shoot it!” It careened up the steps where something started it with a hissing shriek (Sisspak?!?!?!) and then it came DOWN the other set of stairs with a rolling lope. Fergus swung at it, scoring a shallow cut while arrows rained all over the place. The Arcanocere turned at the landing and leapt – sailing into and through the western wall where it phased into the goblin area.
It dropped a variety of goods and gear, some of them hinges and even a set of master craftsmen tools. Fergus took the tools and then gave the hinges to Meridint with instruction to fix the doors now on to their side and block the entrance any way they can. They the two of them left and returned to the party at the Chapel.
Together again, we talked about what happened and checked on Tempi who was smelling bad and standing around. The party stripped him of his armor and corralled him in a makeshift area surrounded by pews, treating the barely cognizant half-orc the same as their horses. They used the hay and oats to make the horses’ paddocking more healthy and Tempi grabbed one of the two random chickens and proceeded to eat it, raw and alive. Feathers, beaks, and all.
The group locked up behind them and went back to the keep to meet with Meridint and discuss finishing off the lizardmen and Korlok the Devil’s Fang below. In the Grand Foyer the goblins were very industrious, already dismantled both doors from the other side and had dragged them over where they were trying to get them to fit their own side. It was slow and difficult going but they were employing typical goblin ingenuity for making a problem work with whatever they happened to have on hand.
It was during their proud discussion about how one door fits but they were going to shove the oak tree in the other side and brace it there that Flimflam gave a surprised, “WHAT!?!??” and told them that he had given orders to Funtarig never to cut the tree down in the garden. Meridint replied that HE was the leader now and FERGUS had told him to fill the hole any way possible.
Flimflam was wroth and raced down the goblin hall toward the garden, learning that 3 goblins had been sent there already with axes. When he got to the garden though, he found two goblins sitting there sort of wandering about, the third one missing. He told them to go back to the door and help and then looked in the garden. The oak was still there, a single notch was at its base. Creeping up to it, Davers the Dryad stepped out, her leg bleeding and very angry. Wanted to know what happened and Flimflam told her about the change in goblin leadership.
He did another plant growth in the area, growing and strengthening the tree and making the cucumbers and other vegetables go wild in their fecundity. Then Davers wanted more time with the venerable gnome and he felt his will failing as his clothes slipped away. And then he was in the throes of passion and ecstasy with the Dryad and time lost all meaning. Whenever someone wanted to go check on Flimflam, as soon as they got to the garden, they had a change of mind and turned away, heading back the way they came and decided to wait.
The party helped the goblins drag bodies, fix the door, and eat, eat, eat. About 8 lizardmen had died in the conflict in the goblin halls and some 20 goblins met the same fate. The wait for Flimflam lasted this time 8 hours until 7 pm when the gnome druid emerged drained yet very happy. We set up with Meridint that we hoped Funtarig got better during the night and we would regroup for the final assault in the morning about 9 AM.
We went back to the Chapel and checked on Tempi who was still the same. He was terribly foul as he had soiled himself over and over. Strays were drawn…and Fergus drew short one. Sighing the paladin used his knife to cut the half-orc’s clothes free, and then paid Etterig (my name is Link…oh, wait, it IS Etterig!) the linkboy to help him out, one noble! The two of them used lots of water and wiped most of the half-orc clean, noting he was getting rashes and chafed from the mess he was wearing.
The group went to sleep and we rested without issue, waking the next day where we restudied spells, prayed, and went over our equipment for this last assault on Korlok. Tempi seemed unchanged, and Fergus was much better from the Arcanocere’s attack (although Fist’al was still reporting a sort of “fogginess” to his thoughts).
By 9 AM on the 24th of Birthmonth we were at the new doorway of the goblin halls where we met with Meridint who informed us that Funtarig had a relapse during the night and died. Apparently no one had noticed the two knife wounds to the back of his head. Surprised, but not totally shocked at this change of events and leadership, we made the acceptable noises of sorrow and decided to press the advantage from yesterday and demand some goblin help.
Meridint informed us we would be getting 5 goblins armed with lizardmen bows and 1 giant rat. Unlike yesterday’s assault, the goblins would be primarily an archer unit, not a melee unit. This did not go well with the party and we had much back and forth until we got him to agree to each of them taking a spear and shield, with a 6th one coming along as “front line” fighter only.
It was 9:40 when we returned to the lizardman hall and checked out the stairs down. Fergus felt a sensation of evil, the same spotty one he had felt here and there over the last day or two – he suspects it is Sisspak or another of the possible yuan-ti here. It is ahead and most likely in the secret hall. He speaks to it and it is started, moving away until it is gone from his sense.
As for the stairs down, they look dangerous and foreboding. No one wants to chance it, suspecting lizardmen not too far away. Bill solves the problem by summoning a monster – getting a 6’ tall orange-haired green skinned hobgoblin to appear. He points down the stairs and gives it orders to go ahead and engage anyone it finds down there. The hobgoblin snaps to attention and takes off. We follow a few steps until the hobgob trips over some simple alarm trip wire, dropping some metal and wooden pieces propped up there. This signals the foes down the hall and three arrows later he falls over dead.
Knowing that there is at least 1, maybe 2 lizardmen down here, we draw up into marching order and ready ourselves to go down and brace our foes.