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Monday, March 21, 2016

Nemesis - Shrine of Shaktari

We just finished Nemesis and it was a very good session. I changed a few things in the adventure. I junked a lot of the rooms in the yuan-ti dungeon because they felt unnecessary. I de-powered the marilith slightly, as I was worried she was too deadly. It turns out I probably should have left her alone.

I purposely had Raja Khan the rakshasa run away because.. well, I just don't like rakshasas. I don't know why, but they just don't appeal to me. I guess they feel too much like a Disney movie villain.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Drow Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin), Turia (Tiefling Fighter)

The Bloodsea

Shaktari, Queen of Mariliths
The heroes had come to the Abyss in search of four magic swords that had been stolen from people in the city of Sigil. They were sailing the River Styx to Kaliva's Island, one of many islands in the Bloodsea. The Bloodsea is ruled by Shaktari, Queen of the Mariliths. Each individual island has a marilith ruler of its own.

The heroes disembarked and headed onto the beach. To get to the jungle, they would have to climb up a slope.

Eyewing
As they did so, four eyewings swooped down and cried poison tears on them. The heroes made quick work of them.

The Taboolands

The group headed into the jungle. The insects there can give you the poisoned condition if you fail your save. The overall realm has this poisonous atmosphere - after 12 hours, you have to make saving throws or become poisoned.

The heroes ended up following the map that the dabuses gave them to The Taboolands. There they met a tribe of people who had been dragged into this realm by Kaliva's yuan-ti. They're sort of like the cast from Lost, but they wear loincloths and paint their bodies.

Once they found out that the heroes were here to kill Kaliva, they gave them a magic item - an arrow of demon slaying. Turia wanted it, but so did Theran. Crabby old Turia decided to have an archery competition with him to prove she deserved it. Theran won, and it wasn't even close (even though Turia is a fighter and Theran is a spellcaster!). For the rest of the adventure, Turia kept sarcastically calling Theran "Trick Shot." She was bitter that he had won.

The Halfling Traitor

Arjin the halfling, a cowardly member of the Alives, offered to take the group to get Shaktari's Ichor. When drank, the ichor could protect you from the poisonous atmosphere of the realm for one week.

What the heroes didn't know was that Arjin was actually Raja Khan the rakshasa in disguise. Over the course of the adventure, the group gave him a magic cloak and Theran's crossbow that shot flaming bolts, having no idea that they were actually arming their enemy.

Teleporter Chamber
"Arjin" led the group to a building in the base of one of the mountains where the ichor was. It was in a serpentine fountain. Theran used his wand of secrets to find a secret door. Beyond it was a hallway.

I had the group make a marching order, as they were about to hit a trap that I thought was cool. Bidam led the group down the hall, and a pit trap opened up beneath his feet. He made his save and hopped back. The pit was 20 feet deep and full of snakes! The group was able to go around it.

The group explored a side chamber and found a magic cloak that could protect against the poisonous atmosphere of this realm. They gave it to Arjin, who graciously accepted.

Then they made their way to a room with a giant statue of a 5-headed snake. Three yuan-ti attacked, and the group made quick work of them. They turned their attention to the statue.

Each snake head of the statue had a set of different-colored eyes. There was a lever below each head. Bidam began pulling levers:
  • Purple Eyes: It teleported the group back to the area with Shaktari's Ichor.
  • Red Eyes: A symbol of pain hovered in the air, injuring everyone.
  • At this point, it was decided that everyone but Bidam would wait out in the hall so only Bidam would have to take damage.
  • Blue Eyes: Bidam was hit with a lightning bolt.
  • Black Eyes: In 2e terms this energy drained you! I changed it to: Weakened until a long rest. Bidam made his save so it wasn't an issue.
  • Green Eyes: Teleport to Raja Khan's Lair. Poor Bidam picked the "correct" lever dead last.
The group headed in, pulled the lever and teleported to Raja's lair as well.

Raja Khan's Temple

Raja Khan lived in a small palace high up on one of the other mountains. The group had no idea that Raja was right there among them magically disguised as a halfling.

Outside the palace were dozens of poles, each holding a severed head. They realized that one was Llisian Slitterknife, the guy they'd been hired to find.

The group passed through the entrance, which were golden doors. Inside was a vast open area with two statues and a few side chambers. The statues:
  1. A cambion (I don't really understand who this is or why it is here)
  2. A giant two-headed tiger. This thing was actually alive - It was Raja Khan's pet, covered in a stoneskin.
So the adventurers checked out a bunch of mundane side areas and were stumped. How could the place be so empty?

Weirdly, the heroes asked Arjin to take a look around. This played right into Raja's hands. He hammed it up big time, walking around rubbing his chin and going "Hmmmm..." Then he walked over to the statue of the tiger, leaned on it with one hand and pretended to be deep in thought.

Suddenly, the statue came alive. It blew by Arjin and attacked the heroes! They groaned at Arjin, still thinking he was just some idiot.

To their surprise Arjin turned into Raja Khan and laughed at them. While the NPCs fought the tiger, Bidam ran over and sliced into Raja Khan. Raja magically dominated the dragonborn and made Bidam attack Theran! Poor Theran got hurt really bad.

Raja ran through a back wall. The group killed the tiger and cursed.

The Tiger-Ladies

They decided to try and follow Raja. They too ran through the wall - an illusory wall, it turned out. They ran downstairs and came to a hallway that had a floor completely covered in centipedes. They caught a glimpse of Raja going around the corner and through a door.

The group walked through the centipedes (if you walk carefully, they leave you alone) and listened at the door Raja had entered. They heard muffled arguing, and then saw a flash of light through the cracks.

It turned out that Raja Khan had argued with his two concubines and then cast Plane Shift to escape. I decided that Raja ended up warning Kaliva, handing her the magic sword Starzad, and running away to parts unknown.

The group burst into the room only to find Raja's two concubines, Selinza and Thoebe, staring at them in fear. In the adventure these women are yuan-ti, but I decided to change them into tiger-ladies (who look like Tigra from the Avengers) from some far flung plane. Selinza was actually a white tiger-lady.

The group questioned them and eventually learned of a teleport circle in a secret room nearby that could take them to Khaliva's lair. They also found Llisian's magic amulet. They took it with the grim knowledge that they would have to give it to his sister and explain that he was dead.

The group needed to heal, so they took a long rest in the palace. They locked the poor tiger-ladies in a hanging cage just to be on the safe side. Fall From Grace was not pleased with this, and watched over them.

Once healed, the group teleported to Kaliva's lair.

The Four Swords
 
Kaliva lived in a cavern on the third mountain, in a building surrounded by a moat of sentient ooze. The moat could and did attack with pseudopods.

The group explored side caves. They found a long-dead wizard and looted both his spellbook and his wand of lightning bolts (!). Theran loves that wand and I think it has replaced the wand of magic missiles as his go-to weapon. I mean.. it does 8d6 and it has 7 charges!

In a fungus chamber they found a massive pile of gold. Sticking out of it was a magic horn of blasting! Bidam claimed the horn.

Stocked up on damage-dealing magic items, the group made their way into the shrine.

The Shrine of Shaktari

Kaliva knows the group is coming, so she has set up a trap. She has an illusion of herself prepared to go. The hope is that the group will waste their big attacks on the illusion (including the arrow of demon slaying). Then, the real Kaliva pops out from behind a huge statue and surprises them!

So.. the heroes go in. The illusion rushes them. Theran fires off a lightning bolt and is shocked when it passes right through her. Fall From Grace and Turia race forward, and their attacks pass through as well.

Interestingly, Bidam cast mirror image on himself (he's an eldritch knight). He'd never used this spell before. Bidam moved to the statue and used a bonus action to hack at the statue, thinking maybe the statue was the real threat.

Theran suddenly realized what was going on. He disbelieved - and indeed, it was an illusion.

Bidam hacked away at the statue. First of all, I had Bidam roll a perception check to see if he noticed the real Kaliva hiding right there behind the statue. He didn't.

Second, in the adventure, the statue comes to life if it is "deliberately defiled." It is 12 feet tall, has six attacks and breathes a cloud of poison that KILLS YOU if you fail your save ("after 1d4 rounds of helplessness").

I had previously decided to not use the statue as a threat because I feared that Kaliva alone was going to be tough enough. With the statue in play, the group would have been slaughtered. In retrospect I should have had the statue do something minor, like breathe a cone of poison each round or something.

So Bidam hacks into the statue, sparks fly, and suddenly Kaliva slides out from behind the statue in slow motion and closes in on Bidam. Kaliva had all four magic swords in her hands:
  • Starzad: Vorpal scimitar
  • Ffazablur: Sword of sharpness
  • Midnight: Sword of life stealing
  • Wizardbane: A magic, spell-casting sword
Kaliva kicked off her attacks with a critical hit from the vorpal sword! That means... it cuts off Bidam's head! Or, it would have, if it hadn't hit a mirror image instead.

Kaliva was a whirlwind of blades, but all she did was take out all of Bidam's mirror images.

Theran hit her with a lightning bolt (doing half damage because of the marilith's resistance). Fall From Grace ran forward and hacked into Kaliva.

Turia snatched the arrow of demon slaying from Theran, fired it... and missed. On her next turn, she ran over, did a forward roll, snatched the arrow off the ground and fired it from a kneeling position... and missed again. On the turn after that, she rolled, snatched the arrow and uttered a catchphrase: "Let's see you slither out of this one!" She fired... and missed again.

The marilith mauled Fall from Grace in a single round, nearly killing her. Fall From Grace used lay on hands to heal herself. Kaliva tore into her again.

Bidam sliced into Kaliva and then Fall from Grace landed the killing blow by charging her sword with radiant energy (divine smite).

Fall from Grace had just a couple hit points left. Her chastity bodice was sliced to shreds, but the magic kicked in and it repaired itself in moments - good as new. Unfortunately, blood poured out from the underside of the bodice, pooling on the floor. She was hurt very badly.

The place began to rumble. The heroes ran out of the shrine as it collapsed. They made their way to the massive treasure pile and dumped it in their bag of holding.

Escape

They used the teleport circle to return to Raja Khan's palace. No sign of Raja.

The heroes asked the tiger ladies to return with them to Sigil to work in their festhall. I decided that Selinza, the white tiger lady, is going to ask Theran to become his apprentice.

They decided to loot those golden doors from Raja's palace. Next time they'll have to work out the logistics of getting those doors through the jungle and onto that little ferry full of snakes.

I also decided that Fall From Grace is going to stay with the Alives, and escort them onto the ferry in groups. She'll take each group down the River Styx, journey with them through the Plain of 1,000 portals, and take them through the portal to Sigil. Then she's going to give them her share of the huge treasure pile so they can survive in the city. That's what a paladin would do, right?

We are going to play one more session of this. I want to see what the group does with Ash Vodiran, the thief who stole all their money last session.

I also want the group to go through a short adventure from Well of Worlds, where they actually break in to one of the Lady of Pain's Mazes.

When I read this adventure, I really didn't like the second half of it. I generally am not a fan of jungles in D&D. I also don't like yuan-ti or rakshasas. But this adventure was really good, pretty much awesome from start to finish. I actually liked this as much if not more than Umbra.

Click here to read the next chapter of the Planescape campaign.

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