This was the group’s 2nd meeting and it was their first full one together (the prior one had been broken up by the rolling up of one of the new characters). I had made sure that they each had their own set of dice, purchased a pound of dice for $15 earlier in the week in order to round out an Amazon order I had made. It also refilled some of the spots in my own dice box that had dwindled over time (where do they go? Really? Does the floor eat them, one at a time like Lay’s potato chips?!?)
As typical, the first group of followers of the three gods the party meets is almost always going to be Gorm unless they stumble upon the stairs to the 3rd level beforehand. I have had more people than not be warm and receptive to Gorm and his followers and this group was on their way to being the same – although not at first due to the flaming wall of burning oil trick.
I don’t know how other groups do it, but typically abandoning your god and taking another is a big no no. But the player running the cleric was so smooth and cool about it, and it was such a great moment that it went off beautifully and we now have the undying adoration of the Gormites for now.
Write up follows:
Just before Delsin went down the hole, Volkan yelled for him to stop and that he had another plan. It seems the mage wanted the group to tie a rope around his shoulders and midsection and let him climb down. Then at the bottom of the hole but above the Fire Beetles, he would allow the two friends up here hold him in place and dangle while he cast Sleep on the three beetles; preventing anyone from having to fight them or risk getting hurt.
Not a bad plan.
So it went off as Volkan hoped, the mage was hanging by a rope around his waist and shoulders, going back up the hole, while he waved his hands and recited the words as needed to empower the forces he controlled and then…wham. All three fire beetles were rendered unconscious.
Delsin and Mark came down the ladder swiftly and although the Cleric felt bad attacking the sleeping beetle, the other two made short work of the bugs and killed them outright. At this point it was up to Volkan to look over the glowing Fire Beetles and see if we could use the bright spots on their body or not. While this was going on, Delsin and Mark gave the room a complete check.
There were three doors out of here, all closed at this time. The room held numerous parts and machinery for the moving statues on top of the ziggurat in addition to a small forge area (cold, no coal), and some clay pots that each help perhaps a pint of machine oil. Volkan had punctured one of the glowing sacks, noting it was about a foot deep, and the liquid was slimy and coated her hands and the dagger she was using, making them both give forth a soft glow.
Mark had felt bad about breaking the lever off one of the moving arms from above so he rooted around until he found a working lever, a replacement spanner, and a pin that would fit. Taking the small hammer and pliers from the forge area in addition to the glowing dagger Volkan lent him, Mark climbed back up the ladder until he arrived back at the statue area where he sat down and then worked on fixing the set-up he had broken.
As for Volkan, he had chipped out and away at one of the spot, snipping off pieces of the carapace until he was able to get to the muscled section that held the clear membrane of the glowing bag. Just before he was successful in extracting it though, the spot ruptured and the ooze spilled free. They also noted that the ooze lost its illuminatory aspects after it had been exposed to the air for 10 minutes or so.
Mark returned, giving the mage back his dagger (also no longer glowing) but now all three of them worked on the next possible glowing spot, hoping to be successful. It was one, and then a second, and finally after 30 minutes of hard cutting and slicing, they managed to gather 4 of the possible glowing sacks, the other 5 having torn, ripped, or been punctured during the extraction process. With the fire beetle glowing spots though, they could save on oil and torches for some time. To stave off their possible hunger later though, Delsin tore up one of the carapaces and sliced off the muscled meat from under the shell, holding onto 2# or so of raw beetle steak. We were going to look around a little bit and hope to find some water and then cook the meat while we still were able to.
Still thirsty though, they wanted to keep exploring and decided on the eastern door as the next best direction to go. Delsin gave it a good listen, pronounced it safe, then kept his body firmly behind the portal as he swung it back and open to reveal the hall past. According to our glowing bags, it went some 12 or 15 paces, with a door on the north and south walls, and then in the gloom beyond we could just make out that it “T’ed” in both directions.
The group had weapons out as they approached the 1st door. It was closed and seemed to have been so for a bit of time. Delsin was once more volunteered to open the door and it took a few hits with his shoulder until the portal shifted and the ancient wood opened with a squeal, revealing a long unused and dusty priest’s chamber. A simple straw mattress, chest, table and chair, and other basic furnishings were all that was there.
We looked the place over, opening chests, turning over furnishings, just looking everywhere. Inside the chest was a set of Gormian priest’s robes and below that was a prayer book of Gorm and a holy symbol. Mark gave the book a short look through and some of the teachings reminded him of Zeus, but without the rampant need for sex and a bit more of a militant bent. Could it be the other two gods we had seen outside the ziggurat were predecessors to other more contemporary gods? Possibly. We kept the book and left the priest’s chambers, heading back to the hall and the next doorway.
Once here we were going to give it a listen, but Delsin was feeling pretty bold and the sheer age of the place made him a bit confident. So it was boot to the door and when it banged open, it was another priest’s chamber, however when the door hit the wall, it startled a blue lizard the size of a puma from the other side of the bed who snarled and hissed at the fighter.
Our guy went in sword out and out of the corner of his eye, saw ANOTHER 6’ lizard on the ceiling dropping down on him! He managed to get his sword and shield up in time and fling the beast off and to the right. Mark drew out his war hammer and charged in swinging, attacking the original gecko as it came about and drawing it off of Delsin.
The 2 men were side to side, weapons swinging as they dodged and ducked the lizards’ bites. Volkan whipped a dagger in, but it clanged off her friend’s helm instead of finding lizard flesh. But then Volkan heard a sound in the hall, and south of us down the “T”. He looked around and saw a single figure in chainmail, holding a torch, and with a metallic face looking at him before it went back inside some open doorway and made excitable noises.
Company was coming.
He pulled out a flask of oil and liberally dosed the hallway at the edge of the T while Mark landed a lucky blow on the Gecko, wounding it greatly. The figures coming out of the doorway down the hall were calling out, “Gorm! Gorm! Gorm!” as they marched lockstep down the hall towards us, chainmail clanging and metal faces reflecting the wavering torch light. Their swords were out and one of them help a crossbow. Volkan hand his tinderbox out and quickly got a flame going which he then touched to the oil and WHOOSH! It went up and was blocking the hall. The men coming yelled “GORM!” and ran closer.
Hearing the Gormites coming, Mark redoubled his efforts and between Delsin and Mark, put the fear in one of the gecko’s who charged past the cleric and hit the hall, turning to the T and then charging north. He then told Delsin, “You’ve got this!” and left the fighter to face the remaining angered lizard he hit the hall and was fumbling for the prayer book he had taken earlier.
While this was going on, Volkan had gone back to the 1st priest’s chamber and was dragging the mattress with him into the hall, lifting it up and tossing it onto the oil fire…where it flattened out and then began burning merrily. The Gormites took advantage of the momentary drop in the flames and fired a single crossbow bolt at the fleeing gecko, hitting it and presumably putting it down!
Mark was standing in the hall and reciting words from the prayer book, about the glory of Gorm, which had the men approaching change their opinion and realize that Mark and his companions were FRIENDS and not to be killed. They wanted to help and one of them raised his hands up and was calling on Gorm to quell the flames…which muted down and reduced, allowing the 5 men to cross the flame barrier.
Mark had ducked into the priest’s chamber while this was going on, went into the chest and withdrew the holy symbol to Gorm from it. He then took off his symbol to Inti, gave a brief prayer to the god of his parents, and placed it in the chest and closed it carefully before rejoining everyone in the hall.
The arrived Gormites helped put down the final Gecko and greeted the trio as friends from “The outside and beyond the great desert”. They wanted to take us to their leader, Kanadius, and promised to get us food and water seeing as thirsty and worn out we were. We agreed and followed the 5 men south from the T and into the Gormite area.
There was a large statue to Gorm outside the doors here and once again we were recognizing the bearing and appearance to Zeus that this statue had. We then followed the men into two adjoining rooms and met Kanadius. As the others, he too was hearing a mask that looked like Gorm’s but his warm voice was friendly and he took the time to greet us all and learn our names.
We then talked for some time while water and food was handed out. He was happy we had survived the attack with the beetles and indicated there are others in the temple. The Gecko’s too are a problem, and the Gormites make it their point to take care of them when they see them. He then talked about the hobgoblins that came in here a few weeks ago and the struggle the Gormites had.
Then it was time to learn what’s going on. The area above was a city once known as Cyndicia and they were in a nexus place on the world where not only trade came through, but was also a weak place in the world for other places not of this earth. The three gods, Gorm, Usimagarus, and Madera had leant their divine will to keeping the hole plugged and the city of Cyndicia well off. However, there was a dark force known as Zargon that wanted in. And as Zargon worked his malevolence on the world and the three factions began arguing with one another, the power of the gods waned.
And one day, that was enough to weaken the space between the worlds.
A mighty sand storm blew in and scoured the land around Cyndicia. A hole then opened and swallowed the city, dropping it down to rest deep beneath the earth. Zargon was able to send an aspect of his demonic will into the world and it took residence below the temple, filling the halls with corrupted creatures and monsters from all over the cosmos.
It has been over a century and the Cyndicians have all but given up hope. The 3 factions do not get along and without an outside influence, they are in danger of never solving their differences enough to put Zargon down. It would take an outside person or persons to find any of the legendary enchanted items that once were housed in the temple on its many floors and then take the fight to Zargon himself and end the fight once and for all.
To the party, it sounded like something that they were itching to do.
Kanadius offered one of his followers to join them, the archer naked Safir who also had a keen eye and steady hand for finding some of the traps that still littered the ziggurat. We shook hands and thanked Safir for joining us. We were then outfitted with a few days of food and water, given a few extra weapons, and went on our way. Safir was going to lead us to the stairs to go down to the 3rd level where we were warned the followers of Madera and Usimagarus were. The former would most likely assault us, the latter might be willing to treat with us. We’d have to see.
We went back to the hallway, traveled north to the former “T”, and then went left to the Fire Beetle Room. Safir was happy to be with us and away from Kanadius admitted he was not a brave man so would be more apt to follow than lead. We thanked him for his honesty and then Safir also admitted he was not as devout as Kanadius so we didn’t have to do the entire “praise be to Gorm” thing while around him. We were very thankful for that.
From here we went to the south door on the west wall and entered the hall, glowing sacks held aloft for illumination. As we travelled down the hall, looking around, Delsin stopped the group and paid careful attention to the north wall. He traced a single crease that ran from floor to ceiling and after we all looked it over, were convinced it was a secret door.
It was shoulder to the wall once, twice, three times until the secret door slid away and opened up; revealing a 20’x20’ room with something glittering in the corner. However what was the kicker was the flapping sound of feathery/leathery wings and some big beaked bird looking things as big as cats started flying at Delsin. The fighter was blocking the door with his body and shield, pulling out a torch and then waving it around to keep the flying menaces away.
Safir took one shot and pegged one, and then Volkan whipped a knife at one and wounded it. One of them made it to the hall and the ground ran around, stomping on it. Then they went in weapons out and starting lying about. The greasy winged menaces were being knocked from the sky as Delsin smashed them with his lit torch.
We were down to three of them, one wounded on the floor and two flying around trying to avoid Delsin’s flame. They them turned and struck: one on Volkan, the other on Mark. Beaks reared back and stabbed in, getting Volkan in the upper chest and Mark in the center of his torso, right around his liver.
And then the large beaked monsters…SUCKED. They started sucking the juices right out of the magic user and the cleric, making them scream in agony and the two scrabbling beasts to start to swell up. The one on Mark was torn off and hurled but it was spitting up his blood and liver juices as it spun about. The Cleric fell over unconscious and at 0 hp. Volkan was wavering but still upright when Delsin managed to get close enough to raise his torch high and try to smash the sucking monster off the mage with a single fiery blow.