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Monday, December 21, 2015

Dead Gods - The Bottom of the Multiverse

I knew tonight's game would be tricky. I wanted us to get through this whole chapter in one sitting, but as written this dungeon has a lot of combat.

I really liked this dungeon, so I decided not to change much. We got about halfway through it.

This place is called Tcian Sumere, and it is located in the Negative Material Plane. This plane has a few environmental properties that made the PCs lives more difficult:
  • There was no gravity in the dungeon
  • All healing effects, both natural and magic, were cut in half
  • The undead here innately sense the living. Living beings actually glow here.
The Heroes

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled  Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Drow Wizard

The adventurers came home from Crux, having learned that the mysterious bad guy had some kind of base in the Negative Material plane. They knew they could get to this place through a portal in the weird, deadly temple on the dead world of Ranais.

But first, we went through some quick downtime stuff in the festhall.
  • Their modron ally, who they named Trictaculus 2, came up with a way to make more money by offering microtransactions during client visits with their prostitutes (like a free to play game, but more sweaty).
  • A dabus showed up and began hammering nails in weird places (this is foreshadowing for an idea I had, which will kick in at the end of Dead Gods)
  • An adventurer asked to join the heroes. She's an NPC bard, wearing all white. Her features were concealed with a hood and a mask. The heroes took her in, not realizing this was an NPC with an agenda!
The adventurers took the portal to Ranais. They found the temple. Remember, this is the royally whacked-out place where, if you fail your save, you just die if you go in the building.

But the mysterious bard, Skara Brae (a name I took from Ultima), had a bardic power called countercharm that gave the heroes advantage when they made their saves.

The visages scattered. Theran used his magic to discern the key to the portal, and in they went.

They found themselves hovering (no gravity) in a circular room with four exits. Here is the map to the dungeon:

Tcian Sumere
Each room is a globe. The "hallways" are tunnels. Once you enter a tunnel, you are sucked through, launched into the next room.

It was here in this first room ("A", in the center of the map) that "Skara Brae" threw off her mask and laughed. She was actually Srivlanka Flumph, the rich daughter of Gronard Flumph. The heroes had basically run her out of Sigil in a previous session. Now, she explained, they were going to record a new sensory stone of her being a hero.

Bidam and Theran seriously discussed killing her right there in room "A." Srivlanka was filthy rich. She told the heroes if they killed her, she had an ally in Tradegate ready to cast wish to bring her back to life.

There was more, though, that the heroes didn't learn. Srivlanka is with the heroes so she can record a sensory stone of her own, revealing to the people of Sigil that the adventurers are scum. So she is going through this dungeon, behaving like a friend and ally and is hoping to catch them doing something very bad.

I also put this NPC here because this dungeon is deadly. I loaded her up with healing spells and a bag of holding full of potions of healing. She's a level 7 bard, more or less.

She told the heroes she'd been trained at "The Academy for Planar Damsels." I made that place up. I figure somewhere in the planes, there's this place that rich people send their daughters so that they could learn to defend themselves, cast spells, and also learn how to behave in high society.

Guard Posts

A whole bunch of rooms (all of the "1"'s on the map) in this place are exactly the same. There are ghouls floating in zero gravity that turn and attack the adventurers. When they are all slain, their spirits merge into a spectre that also attacks. The bulk of the evening dealt with these rooms.

The heroes didn't take a lot of damage in these battles, but they took a claw swipe here and there. The healing penalty in this place is really nasty, and Flumph was burning through her healing spells very fast.

To speed things along, I had made a player map of the place to help the heroes navigate. I was worried that room after room of ghouls would be frustrating or boring. Also, with all these globular rooms with 5 exits, it would be too easy for them to get lost.

The drawback of giving them an unlabelled map is that as soon as you look at the layout, you know to head toward an edge. The group ended up heading straight down. That makes sense. It did actually lead right to the final rooms.

Sepulchral (Workroom)

So after a few battles with ghouls and their spectral spirits, the heroes came to this room with an operating table and some mummification books. I didn't even realize it until we were playing, but this foreshadows a flesh golem elsewhere in the dungeon very nicely. It is also the place where he turns demons into visages.

The adventurers found a secret tunnel under a table/slab. It lead to... a throne room!

The Master's Chamber

I decided not to use room 12.
There was a throne made of skulls, a pond, a floating chessboard, a weird plant and iron doors. Theran immediately figured correctly that the pond was a scrying pool.

He stirred the waters and saw an image of a prisoner elsewhere in the dungeon. He was a drow glaring at a visage. This drow is really who they are looking for.

The chess board had pieces carved like important NPCs. The throne had a black gem on it. This gem is nasty! The bad guy can see through it, and he can even summon whoever holds it right to him! They made a fateful decision. They gave it to Srivlanka to hold.

They found a map of a place called Pelion, and then Bidam messed with the plant. This plant is nasty. It shoots tendrils into you, puts you into a coma, and slowly sucks the blood right out of your body! It also has a fun name: Tri-Flower Frond.

It attacked Bidam, but the dragonborn made his save and the heroes destroyed the frond.

Srivlanka picked the lock in the iron doors. It lead to a Treasure Vault!


3rd edition version of The Orcusword from Dragon #359.
In here were a number of things. There were four five-foot tall urns. The heroes assumed that gas or monsters would come out of them if opened, so they left them alone.

A sword was mounted on the wall. Bidam recognized it. It was The Orcusword. Seriously! It's in the adventure! I changed its stats a bit. It is a +3 sword that crackles with lightning. On a critical it does maximum damage. It can cast the spell lightning bolt once per day. Bidam was ecstatic.

In the adventure, it says that The Orcusword is all banged up. If you roll a one with it, it breaks. I changed that. If a one is rolled, I'm just going to narrate some kind of flavor dent. If the sword is subjected to many repeated traumas, then maybe I'll have it break.

Then there was a chest. On the interior lid is a warning: "Claim what's yours, now and forever." In the chest are two slots. Each one holds a wand.

The heroes got excited. Was one of them the wand of orcus?

Theran pulled out a wand. He was given an electric shock as he drew it out, taking 3d6 damage. It was a wand of magic missiles. After a bit of thinking, he figured out the deal with the chest.

In order to take a wand without taking damage, you need to declare that the wand is yours. Literally you had to "claim what's yours". He did so, and pulled out a wand of secrets and took no damage.

The heroes have jumped right to the treasure room, which was unexpected and fun. They hit one more ghoul room, and then we had to stop. We should finish this chapter when we play again in two weeks. 

I should note that I cut out room 12 entirely. It is a weird room that creates a monster double of a hero, and I felt it was too odd and probably more trouble than it was worth. The PC shares a mind between the two bodies, and will go insane in a few months. Worse, if either body dies, the other one goes into a coma for 2d4 weeks.

Click here to proceed to the rest of Tcian Sumere.

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