Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Academae Campaign - Back to the Crypt

 [This Monday we once again fired up Roll20 and plunged back into The Academae Campaign.  This time we were pleased to have our friend Steve join us, his schedule having ultimately not worked out for the previous session.]

Having just dispatched several monstrous creatures we looked about the room a bit.  It was disgusting.  Filth of every description assaulted our senses.  We had however discovered several items of value hidden therein.  [It was here that our eager DM mentioned that my character, Prince Sanjay, was particularly filthy because he'd crawled around in the muck with his hands to find them.  I pointed out that he would never do such a thing, so we ret-conned it and the treasures disappeared back into the muck.]  Continued searching in the small place was a mistake because several of us reached our limits and added the contents of our stomachs to the already reeking mess on the floor.

Finally we gathered up the two severed well-tattooed legs of a youngish person whom we presumed to be the missing son of the Shoanti barbarian chieftain who we were pledged to seek out.  In search of more of the missing fellow the party backtracked and wandered in the cramped passages and small rooms beneath the ancient crypt.  Finally we emerged into an odd room, more of a corridor, stretching out to our left and right fifteen or so feet.  What made it odd was an array of skulls set into the opposite wall, mouths agape in obscene fashion.  Sanjay suspected some wizardry--likely necromantic foulness--and held back to study them from the doorway.  Several of the party cautiously moved into the corridor to investigate--when suddenly the skulls all spurted acid!  Our intrepid heroes were quite alert and managed to dodge the caustic liquid.  Then, with a strange crackling sound, two strange creatures which looked like a skeletal snake with a human skull, darted from the shadows. [At this point our buddy Steve made his appearance as well--but I'm sure it was just a coincidence.]

Crow-eye quickly summoned one of his faithful eagles to join the fray!  [Crow-eye summoning eagle swarms is quickly becoming a staple of our combats scenes; some might call it fowl play, but the fans seem to like it.]  The eagle immediately attacks one of the skeletal snakes, but does poorly. [We find Dan first needs to build an attack for the eagle in his Roll20 character sheet; Mike works with Dan to build it as we continue.]  The rest of our plucky bands sprang into action, but the weird skeleton snakes began a strange weaving dance and Ashe, Slade, and Talla became entranced by the hypnotic movements.  And suddenly a skeletal, cockroach-like creature scuttled out and nipped Talla.  And then another emerged and went for Ashe!  Crow-eye pushed forward into the corridor and his eagle attacked again, this time damaging the creature.  The young magus Axios, the latest addition to our band, crept up the steps into the corridor and surveyed the scene.  He quickly cast a spell on his longsword and started attacking. 

 Sanjay gingerly crept up on one of the skele-cockroaches, charged his hands with deadly arcane lightning and and destroyed it utterly with a clackling blast.  The snake-thing under attack by the eagle then bit our little feathered hero and killed it immediately!  Sanjay was sure it must have some deadly necro-venom.  Ashe was attacked next by the other bony cockroach-thing but only nipped slightly.  Axios pressed his attack on the snake, striking it with his ensorcelled sword.  Sanjay stepped forward again, mastering his fears, and again unleashed lightning, damaging it heavily.  But he felt a strange sensation, narrowly avoiding poisoning himself!  Axios was attacked next, slightly nipped, but that on top of his injuries from the earlier battle in the room of filth; Axios then is paralyzed by the poison!  Sanjay used his wizard's bonded wand to bring up the deadly Shocking Grasp once more.  However it went awry, missing the creature--but outlining a secret door nearby!

Ashe finally shook off his odd entrancement and brought his glaive into action.  Slade recovered as well and launched a magic bolt, finishing off the skele-snake attacking Sanjay.  Sanjay turned to cover Talla as she recovered as well.  Talla rushed immediately to attack the remaining skele-snake at the far end of the corridor.  Crow-eye commanded another eagle.  It maneuvered deftly around the remaining skele-roach and finished the crawling horror.  It's duty well performed it vanished whence it came.  Low on prepared mana for further lighting, Sanjay zapped the remaining thing for respectable but not terminal effect.  Talla drew her second gladius and double-attacked forcefully.  Finally Ashe stomped on it viciously, crushing it into bits.

The last of the unnamed horrors dispatched, our heroes took stock of the situation.  Sanjay took advantage of the lull to show everyone the secret door he discovered.  Talla examined it, found no sign of traps and easily unlocked it.   [Here things went a bit odd with Roll20.  We suddenly all spotted a new character approaching in one of the previous rooms. For a moment we panic thinking it may be some boss NPC maneuvering for a TPK.  But it's merely that our plucky DM Kirk has the visibility set wrong.]  As Talla and Axios moved forward to explore the new room our mentor from the Academae, Seska [half-elf daughter of Elissa Leroung], emerged from the shadows behind us!   We greeted her and she explained that the queen sent her.  Seska passed on that the queen called a meeting of the peers of the realm.  She also remembered more about the suspect painter.  Seska also mentioned we will get 200 shiny gold coins for finding the painter.  Seska also brought a wand from the queen to help us.  Slade examined the wand and found, to his glee, that it can shoot out  a magic flame attack.. But he is confused a bit about exactly how it works.  Seska noticed Axion and our new companion introduced himself as Axios Leroung, his last name marking him as a relative of hers.

Talla continued exploring and found a set of stairs leading down.  We followed cautiously down the very narrow passage.  [Here again the beauty of the Roll20 "fog of war" feature and limited character view came into play.  Using just the screen view to explore, without the usual mapping on paper, led to more realistic confusion in the cramped, winding passages of the crypt.]  After a bit we found our way back to the main room where we entered.  We then decided to backtrack to the room of skulls to check out a normal door there which we had bypassed.  We found Slade waiting impatiently and we inadvertently blinded him a bit with our light as we returned.

Talla checks the door, finding it not locked.  We push forward into the room and find a room with tables with beakers and vials, three cauldrons along the far wall, one of the tipped.  We spot a fellow with grayish skin and while hair near one of the tables.  Axios suspects he is a race called Derro.  Talla greets him cautiously in Common.  The fellow, slightly surprised, casts a spell.  A blast of intense sound ripples amongst us.  We all suffer injury, plus Talla and Slade are stunned.  Crow-eye summons a small earth elemental under the enemy and it attacks!  Ashe reaches across the table with his glaive to attack but fails.  Slade hits with a force missile from the fiendish diadem strangely embedded in his neck.  Axios rushes up and attacks with his longsword with good effect, finishing the fellow off.

We search the body for anything of interest, but he has nothing.  There is a door to the south and a passage to the east.  Talla heads for a door to the south, while Slade and Ashe watch a passageway to the east.  Talla hears whistling, then examines the door and notices that it is boarded over.  Talla heads to the corridor instead.  Axios tries the door.  Talla wonders why he would try a door obviously boarded to keep something out (or in).  Axios asks whether or not we need to kill everything down here.  We explain that no, we just need to find the rest of the deceased son.  Independently muinded Crow-eye sends his little earth elemental to assault the door.  The door is easily smashed.  (Talla mentally does a face-palm.) We catch sight of something hideous in the new room.  [The dim visibility was excellent in this game.  Newly-encountered creatures would actually be only dimly glimpsed in dark rooms, sending shivers down your spine.]  We notice, horrified, this creature is holding an arm with Shoanti tattoos.  [Cue numerous jokes about the thing "being armed", "we need to disarm him", etc.]  The thing is a lurching, shambling mound of flesh, bone, hair, and who knows what else!!

Crow-eye sends his earth elemental in to attack and force the thing back.  Talla stubbornly decides to watch the corridor she sensibly wanted to investigate while the idiot mages deal with the trouble they've started on their own.  Slade launches a Scorching Ray at the thing for good effect.  [Steve suddenly realizes with amusement that he's only 3rd level!  The rest of us had recently leveled up to 4th.]  Sanjay also summons a small earth elemental, behind the thing, and it joins the assault.  The shambling thing strikes Crow-eye's elemental.  Axios observes the thing carefully--and realizes it is a magically constructed creature called a golem!  Ashe pauses to give us all a holy blessing.

We argue about whether or not to use the dangerous new wand of flaming devastation.  Slade is tempted but Axios argues against.  Slade instead launches a magic missile but the result is a bit disappointing.  I look on with pleasure as my little elemental smashes the disturbing-looking thing repeatedly for good effect.  The golem creature demolishes Crow-eye's elemental with one mighty blow!  Then it fixes its gaze on Axios, with beady red eyes!  Axios steps back, hoping to lure it into the cauldron room where we can hit it from all sides.  Seska casts a spell creating webbing to stop it.  Crow-eye shoots acid at it but misses.  Talla continues to look on in wry amusement.  Slade blasts it with a Scorching Ray again and destroys it with cruel flame.  Slade blows the smoke off his fingers with great satisfaction.  We retrieve the arm, but find nothing of value in the small room.

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