I had reminded the group a few times that Mahr's Tower is not a "destination adventure" - you know, designed for 4-6 players from 3-5th level. There was a serious mix of dangers and challenges within that did not scale and their exploring of it was at their own risks.
Which they finally seemed to realize when meeting Mahr finally. The venerable mage gave a number of hints as to his recent (and not so recent) history and the group quickly surmised that he was probably far above their skill set. So they left.
Without giving anything away - DAMN SMART!! :)
Write up follows:
Hundreds of spiders erupted like a fountain, crawling all over Fist’al as the elven thief skipped and leapt, trying to get away. Auri gave single sweeping hack of her blade and then tried to move back towards the door to escape. Mummus warded the doorway, yelling for everyone to hurry up so he could slam it closed. Flimflam was calling for everyone to escape, make their way out of here and down to the 4th floor. Fergus ran into the chamber, trying to help Auri in their combat against Grongellar.
The spiders were biting Fista’l, their poison slowing him down, making his movements stilted. Fergus was bitten as well, the paladin’s limbs stiffening up. Blows were raining on Grongellar and his shadowdogs, but not enough to slow or stop them. The thief stumbled out of the chamber and made his way slowly to the stairs.
The combat in the chamber was stealing strength and mobility from Auri and Fergus, the two of them barely making it out of the chamber as Mummus slammed the door closed, trapping half the spider swarm inside the rapidly reeking chamber – the scent of feces swelling terribly. We heard many barks and howls inside, and Grongellar phased through the wall, attacking the group again. We formed up battle lines at the top of the stairs and plied out attacks against the shadow mastiff.
Meanwhile, down below on the 4th floor, Marcus was playing around with an idea. He took one of the Bunsen burners with the thick fuel inside of it and shoved a flask of oil deep inside, using a bit of cloak like a wick. Link reminded the elven mage that the fuel in the burner was pretty volatile and most likely explosive. Nodding happily, Marcus crept back up the stairs with the intention of helping somehow with his improvised bomb.
The combat continued along, Grongellar portalling his mastiff’s into the fight every few minutes until the shadowfiend finally fell and the struggle ended. Healing was passed around and we had to wait for Auri, Fergus, and Fist’al to regain full range of motion as the spider’s venom eventually faded. We were running low on spells and resources but wanted to press on and look around.
We snuck back to the 5th floor and took stock of the landing once again. The door to the north had led to the chamber with the skeleton, spiders, and Grongellar – so we checked out the eastern one instead. We testing it completely, until sure it was trap free. After that we pushed it open to reveal a chamber/corridor maybe 25’ or so long, an ornate double door on the north wall. A single wooden stool was there. Once more Fist’al entered.
He gave the chamber a good once over, eventually convinced that there was nothing for it except for the door. So with great care he approached and the party watched on. It was as he got within a few paces of the door itself that he seemed to have a surprised expression and then…disappeared.
To Fist’al he fell…15’ straight down, just missing impaling himself to death on a floor of spikes. His infravision kicked in – 5’5’15’ pit, sealed ceiling top... Great. He yelled and yelled and yelled – and heard nothing, including his own voice.
We were worried (those up top).Especially since the door slammed closed and we heard the unmistakable sound of Grongellar storming about the chamber and many howls and cries. After 4 minutes it ended and we were able to open the room – seeing nothing (except for a ruined stool). Fist’al was shouted for, but no answer. Where was he? Do we rush in? How to find? What happened? We all agreed it was the door that had him disappear so we approached with care, spears being used as poles as we tested the ground every foot with undue diligence.
In the pit, Fist’al tried using grapple and rope, but only went straight up and rang on the ceiling. The wall was not climbable (slippery) and there seemed to be no way out. In his searching, he noted that 3 of the spikes did move on the floor, one on the north, one on the south, and one in the middle. Lighting his lantern, he was able to note bloody hand prints on the walls but nothing new. He moved one spike – nothing. Moved a second – and the ground opened up beneath him and he fell another 15 down. His lantern shattered on the wall as he plummeted to waiting spikes…again, coating the wall in a streaking line of oily fire. There were skeletal remains here though, maybe half a dozen of them. Pretty hurt, Fist’al took the time to look the bodies over and loot them for what trinkets and armor they had.
Like a set of elven chainmail. And what seemed to be ensorcelled bracers. And a strange stiletto. Maybe half a dozen or less rune encrusted crossbow bolts. Feeling better with his finds but only sporting 4 hp, he gave the chamber (also 5’ square) a good look-see and found a small door – 3’ tall, and just a bit under 2’ wide. Gathering himself he opened it and crawled in to the narrow dusty corridor and tried to find his own way out.
As for the rest of the group, there was nothing for it but to approach the door again. But no one wanted to chance it. So we actually popped the hinges off the main door to this corridor, slid it across the floor, and shoved it at the door on the north wall. And the sliding door disappeared as well. The hinges still on the frame made a whirring sound for 4 minutes but eventually quieted down.
We didn’t know where Fist’al was, and thought maybe we’d try to find him elsewhere in the tower. A look on the 4th floor showed nothing, and back to the 5th was a blank. So we were going to reopen the door to the former spider/feces/grongellar sitting room. Weapons ready, we gripped the handle and pushed.
And saw a 4’ tall humanoid figure made of feces stumbling towards us. The reek was unearthly and we all bolted, running away down the stairs away from the foul, feculent golem like creature.
Meanwhile, Fist’al crept through the confines, hearing strange giggles, and too many spider webs, and the reek of urine. A few “T” intersections and he were unsure of where to go. He opted to pick one and came upon a slumbering beast. Naked, hairless, maybe 5 long and bipedal. Stiletto drawn he lunged and the two of them scrambled in the dark, biting and stabbing and snarling at one another.
And Fist’al finally slayed it but was down to 1 hit point. He needed a plan to get through this. And maybe skinning the beast would work. So he began the gruesome work of slitting its guts in the dark with some hope of wearing it’s carcass like a 2nd skin.
As for the rest of us, we retreated to the 4th floor and the crap golem was still in pursuit. Unable to navigate stairs properly it sort of rolled down them, leaving greasy brown stains behind it. It was here that Marcus had his brain storm. He took his Bunsen bomb and a 2nd one, placed it at the base of the steps on the 4th landing, made a trail of oil to the room, had Link light it, and yelled at Auri to slam the door closed now.
The golem rolled onto the bomb just as it went off and the tower shook from the blast. 40+ points of damage later. The impact powerful enough to tear the door open and send Auri flying backward 8’ to land on her ass slightly stunned. We looked outside and saw no sign of the beast again – only smears on the wall.
As for Fist’al, the concussive blast was felt by him as well but it dislodged loose stones from above and he was brained, knocked unconscious.
We went into the chamber that had the golem before and looked again more. We did note the south wall had a strange section that seemed too perfect, almost like a step and repeat pattern. We tested it – illusionary wall.
Following along, we were now in a kitchen area. But there was sort of recent foods in here – nothing older than a week or so it seemed. Looking about the chamber we did find another illusionary wall – this one on the east side. Entering here was a dining chamber with seating for 12. We entered and smoky servants appeared, taking cloaks and packs, and seating us at the table to eat. Food was being prepped in the kitchen and a meal was coming in to us here to eat.
It was about half way through the meal that at the head of the table a smoky mostly solid figure of a man appeared. Advanced age, worn and tired. He identified himself as Mahr and informed us that he had not been here for 30 years or so – exploring the Shadow planes and furthering his knowledge of the cosmos. He had his attention brought back here slowly from people around his tower and old wards he had placed were bringing him back here. He was tired and weary from his journey and would love for the group to finish eating and then come upstairs to chat. Especially Marcus. Oh, and hey, Flimflam and Fergus too!
We had some back and forth with him and learned that he was able to absorb spell power with a handshake – taking two from Marcus, 1 from Flim, and 1 from Fergus – and this was to find and bring Fist’al to the group from where ever he was and boost his hp to 1. Each time he took a little power, he seemed to become more confident, more sure, and more alert.
We finished dinner and said we’d see him soon, as he faded away. And then with no hurry but with deliberate steps, we left the tower from the way we came in, got Codron and Thrish and our horses, and then we left Mahr’s Valley and camped two hill tops over where we talked about what happened and nursed Fist’al back to positive hp’s and wakefulness.
We detected some magic and found the armor, bracers, ring, and bolts to be magic. Some further testing was done on the bombard potion vials we had, getting a mix of effects from boils and fire to healing and smoke.
It was 10:30 PM now and we wanted to rest but it seemed there was some fury on Fist’al’s part on what he had found, sharing with the group, and being left alone in the hole with no one finding him.