Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Academae Campaign - The Darkness at the End of the Tunnel

[Our Pathfinder game run by the redoubtable Kirk, dubbed The Academae Campaign, reconvened in Roll20 on Monday.  Our discomfited band of heroes continued with their second venturing into the nasty old crypt in the graveyards of Korvosa on a quest for the remaining body parts of the son of a Shoanti barbarian chieftain...]

Our group pauses to regroup and assess the situation after a short but brutal fight with a hideous flesh-thing.  Talla claps for our little victory, won despite her sensible advice, and asks sardonically "Was it really necessary to do that?"  Slade points out, correctly, that nobody got hurt.  We debate leaving the damp miserable crypt to rest up, a suggestion which Sanjay supports.  Axion suggests scouting a bit more and first.  Talla suggests scouting might not work well for some party members.  [At this point we notice that our characters have visibility only in a 90 degree sector to the front, but for a very, very long distance.  We discuss whether that is a proper setting or whether we should have a full 360 degree lighted area but only out to torch radius.  We decide that the 90 degree is more realistic but experiment for a bit, moving the characters around to try out the view areas and viewable distances.  After an attempt at scouting through corridors with the limited 90-degree view we decide it's too much of a nuisance and go back to all-round vision, limited to light source distance.] We debate for a bit then go find a reasonably clean room in which to rest.  We rest for some time in the oppressive dimness of the rough-hewn chamber but it is enough for us to recover our mana.

Rested, we resume cautiously exploring--and soon encounter a tall, odd-looking, monstrous fellow in yet another miserable rough-hewn chamber.  Axios, leading the way, quickly steps forward and channels his arcane power to breath a gout of flame all over it.  The fellow is burned horribly and his meagre belongings catch fire.  Axios yells "Run!" at his victim.  "You foul ogre, run!"  The creature shrieks in charred pain, but un-intimidated yells back "You go in pit now!!"  Talla quickly relays what she can see of the scene to the rest of us, and Sanjay is not encouraged.  Talla leaps forward and takes up a defensive stance, crying out "Why, Axios, did you do that?"  Axios is impressed with her badassery.  "Cabbage-head angry now!!" the creature bellows.  He attempts to seize Talla but she deftly avoids him.  The narrow passage leading to the room where "Cabbage-head" was waiting prevents us from attacking as a group, leaving Axios and Talla at the front.  Axios and Talla withdraw a bit into two side-passages to draw it out and allow room for others to join in.  Axios breathes deadly flame again, but the creature endures the injury returns the favor, slamming a huge fist into the young magus.  Sanjay squeezes forward with a mix of exasperation and desperation and blasts the thing with vicious crackling lightning.  To Sanjay's great relief it collapses to the floor, charred and smoking.
We look into the room and peer a short way into a couple small side passages.  Exploring the room a bit more we find three deep pits, two with with malnourished, sickly persons in them.  One identifies herself as Tiora, and admits she was caught, well, trying to take things which didn't belong to her.  She promises if we rescue her she can repay us later.  We pull her out.  She explains it was "Cabbage-head" who threw her in here.  In the second pit we find a male beggar, who collapses and appears dead.  We pull him out, and find that he is actually dead. Axios offers Tiora a bit of bread.  She slumps, exhausted and limp in her ragged clothing, almost too weak to eat.  Ashe applies healing to the woman, alas out of entirely selfish motives.  Seska reminds Ashe that we are here on a mission to retrieve the body of the young Shoanti, not to "help" random women.

Slade checks the third pit, finds nothing, then re-checks the other two pits again.  We debate what to do with the dead man, finally agreeing to leave him here for someone to recover later.  We leave the room, bringing the semi-conscious woman with us.  We explore a narrow side passage but it soon ends in a cave-in.  We back-track and head in a direction which might be north.  [At this point we struggle a bit with moving all the character icons through the narrow passages in Roll20.  Realistic, perhaps, but still rather obnoxious.]  Talla, up front, comes to a door.  Opening it carefully she finds another rough-hewn room with a stench of decay and glistening tools for carving and slicing flesh and bone.  On a table is a large corpse made of parts of other corpses stitched together--and it has the garishly tattooed head of a young Shoanti man attached--likely the head of the fellow we've come to retrieve.  Axios strides forward and begins carefully cutting the stitches to release the head from the corpse-doll.  We enter and look around, noting two or three side passages.  Crow-eye finds a door and listens carefully for any activity on the far side.  He hears nothing and notices it does not have a lock.  Talla peers into another room, spotting a large four-poster bed, a desk, and a large mirror; there is also an opening into an adjacent smaller bedroom.

Talla suddenly hears strange incantations called out by someone nearby.  Slade hears something going on there as well and moves to join Talla.  Talla peers around and spots one of the strange little people-things which were playing the cruel game with the rats in the maze on our previous visit.  Talla realizes the incantations were the strange creature casting some spell.  Slade joins her.  Talla decides to smile as broadly as possible, then says "Hi!"  [The GM now urges Crow-eye to go through the door to really split the heck out of the party.  Crow-eye totally doesn't go for it at all.]  Axios continues his careful cutting of the crude stitching to free the head.

Slade notices the creature--he's floating up near the high ceiling--and blasts it by evoking massive flame.  Crow-eye dashes in to help, as do Axios, Ashe, and Sanjay.  [Numerous jokes about tubby Sanjay getting stuck in the narrow passage like Pooh bear.  Sanjay sees no humor in the situation at all.]  Slade shoots flame again, but misses his target.  Talla drops her torch, draws her second gladius, and attacks, scoring two hits on a summoned zombie as it shambles forward.  Crow-eye assesses the situation and summons two fierce celestial eagles to attack the floating wizard.  Axios launches a magic missile, wounding the wizardling.  A zombie comes at Axios and they battle in the doorway to the small bedroom.  Sanjay finally makes it into the large bedroom and hops on the bed to see better.  Slade blasts with flame and Talla slashes expertly.  One zombie falls.  Crow-eye now summons a small elemental to battle the remaining zombie, which is blocking the doorway to protect its master.  The celestial eagles continue their attack, screeching, clawing, and biting with righteous fury.  The wizard, whom we think is called a derro, dies screaming and plummets onto the bed below.  Ashe charges up with his glaive to engage the zombie.  Sanjay finally manages to focus and zaps the walking corpse with a ray of bitter cold and it collapses.  Talla swiftly moves to the wizard and slits his throat just to be sure he's dead.

We examine the two chambers, finding some skulls and a tattooed torso with an arm still attached.  The arm and torso twitch and thrash occasionally.  Sanjay is reminded is why he swore off necromancy forever when he settled on his course as a wizard.  We check for any valuables, finding a wand, a dagger, some poison, a robe, and a ring; there is also the wizard's spell book.  Sanjay eagerly seizes the book, then realizes it's probably full of hideous necromantic foulness.  He is conflicted but decides to examine the contents later in case there's something decent tucked away inside.

We now argue for a bit over who will he carrying the various bits of the Shoanti back to town, then realize we haven't found the last missing leg.  We decide to check the room which Crow-eye found earlier, back in the room where Axios retrieved the head.  Talla checks for traps, then cautiously enters.  It is a library filled with interesting-looking books and scrolls.  Slade notices there are many on diseases and plagues.  We gather them up.  Suddenly Slade spots a secret door!  We find the last leg.

We return to town with our loot and burdens.  The woman we rescued is good to her promise and gives Talla a wand of healing powers.  We drop off our stuff and go to see the queen.  Instead we meet a guard at the castle and he says the queen has incited a mob to go after the painter earlier suspected of poisoning the king. <party mass facepalm>

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