Friday, March 1, 2013

MGoU-H: Mysterious Temple of The Serpent God, Session 6

Oh, boy, did we have a hell of a session tonight. The players who were able to make it were Adam, Bear, Wayne, and Phil. John had to work, and Gabriel was on vacation. James is in school till May, and won't be able to rejoin us until then, which is sad because we found some stuff he might find... interesting.

So, we joined the party at the bottom of a long tunnel leading from the surface to the second level of the temple. They'd found the High Priest's secret entrance in the ruins on the surface, and, rather than face the stiff opposition they'd seen going down through the main tunnel, they went in through this backdoor. When we joined them, they had just finished killing a true (not degenerate) serpent man and a chaos serpent blob. The PCs consisted of:

Clave: 2nd level Warrior
Xalto: 1st level Cleric
Vane: 2nd level Warrior
Smolken: 1st level Cleric
Banvha: 1st level Halfling
Caifenn: 1st level Cleric
Vergil: 1st level Warrior
Klaus: 1st level Thief
4 Urchins (More about them, later.)

Immediately, I asked the PCs closest to the bottom of the stairs to make a Luck check. Two of them succeeded well enough to spot an older trail of blood and shit emerging from the western wall at the bottom of the stairs. They figured out that it was a secret door, and quickly learned how to open it by manipulating a wall sconce, Scooby-Doo style (as someone mentioned at the time). They didn't spend too much time exploring the corridor they were already in before opening the secret door. All they learned: The corridor went east quite a ways. They could hear water trickling down from above. So, they opened the door.

They found a long sloping passageway that led down to a landing with an arched doorway, about 30 feet deeper. The doorway led to a staircase that wound around and around to the left in a series of right-angle turns. It probably dropped another sixty feet. Along the way, Klaus the thief did a good job scouting and checking for traps. He found none, and no damage was taken. Eventually, the stairs ended and they found themselves in a long corridor leading to the east, and ending in a secret door. It wasn't so secret from this side, as a lever in the wall made the mechanism for opening it quite obvious. They checked for traps, found none, and opened the door.

The door opened into a large, square room with three major features: a gate of black metal bars in the east wall, a large, black metal grate in the floor, covering a cistern (the water they'd heard in the corridor upstairs dripped down into the cistern in a steady stream), and, most importantly, a large, black metal panel in the floor. The panel was about 10x10 feet, and marked with a dwarven hammer being constricted by a large, two-headed cobra-like snake. They had found the Vault of the Frosthammer! (musical interlude)

Songs about ancient relics make for great DCC fodder!
So fucking metal!

I was not, however, going to make getting inside easy for them. Vane, the big, dumb, chaotic lummox of a warrior decided to touch the door. He got zapped with electricity and knocked back about 10 feet, but made his Fort save. He took 3 points of damage. "Maybe it's discharged now," they guessed. Nope. Vane (or someone--can't remember who--got zapped again). After watching (with much amusement) as they attempted to figure out the trap, Bear (I think) came up with a plan: They would soak some rope in the cistern, and use it to draw the power from the trap. They soaked the rope, left one end in the water and threw the rest of it on top of the metal trapdoor. ZAP! The rope more or less vaporized, only the smoldering end emerging from the cistern surviving. The trap was disarmed. They opened it, and found a ladder descending into the depths, leading to a landing about 20 feet below. They descended.

Side note: Up to this point, there had been lots of jokes about throwing the urchins on the door to discharge it. They were kidding, of course, but the urchins were just sort of... there. We decided that they (for whatever reason) think Vane the chaotic warrior is The Shit. Strangely, he welcomes their attention, and clearly could be source of many wholesome teachings about life, love, and proper adventuring technique. Also, he could explain the facts of life, especially if those facts include hacking the testicles from giant apes and using them as trophies. It was decided that this could make a really cute family comedy on, say, the CW or ABC Family. We started thinking of names. Someone said "Vane in Charge," and then a meme was born: Witness this exchange from Roll20 chat:

Edgar J. (GM):Who's the Balls
Bear:"Who's the Balls?" Oh, fuck.
Wayne S.:check that shit out

Oh, how we laughed. I managed to choke out, at some point, "Failed... Will Save... versus... Funny." and then laughed some more. And this morning in my feed, Bear said, I'm going to sleep, dreaming of writing the pilot for "Who's the Balls?"

So, yeah... we now have a role roll model for our urchins, it's just that, well... it's fucking Vane fergawdsakes! This is going to be a running theme, I can tell already. I have so much fun in this game.

Anyhow, moving on...

There were more stairs, lots of them, leading down through a series of 90 degree turns to the left. Klaus the thief, once again, scouted the stairs and checked for traps. There were none. The stairs went down a long way. No traps, no distinguishing features, and eventually let out into a corridor leading east to a stone door, which was mortared into place.

At this point, I really have to pat myself on the back for designing this adventure the way I did. All of this time without traps had made the players just a little incautious. Three of them rushed down, including Vane (who led the charge), Smolken, and Xalto. Note: those last two were two of the party's three clerics. Well, of course they walked straight into the worst of the traps they would encounter (at least to this point). Even more hilarious... Oh, just read the description from the adventure text:

This trap is likely to be deadly, though it is, potentially pretty easy to spot, due to the sheer scale. The floor and ceiling both look oddly "constructed" compared to the rest of the natural stone which surround them. This is especially true of the ceiling, which might keep the PCs from looking at the floor. If the PCs look, they could see that both are a bit "off" pretty easily. DC 5 to spot (Intelligence mods apply).
The trap itself consisted for a 20' pit below, and a whole bunch of falling rocks from above. Vane (the guy who triggered it) managed to jump back at the last second, but both clerics dropped, got rocked, and I rolled for damage: Dead as doornails, the both of them. Here's the thing, though. They didn't actually die. Because of this rule (from DCC Core Rules, p. 93):

Recovering the body: If the body of a dead ally can be recovered, there is a chance the ally may not be truly killed. He may have been knocked unconscious or simply stunned. If a character reaches a dead ally’s body within one hour, the dead character may make a Luck check when his body is rolled over. On a successful check, the dead character was badly injured but is not permanently killed, and the ally is able to keep him alive. The “dead” character was simply knocked out, stunned, or otherwise incapacitated. Once an ally shakes the downed character awake, he recovers to 1 hit point. The character is groggy for the next hour (-4 penalty to all rolls) and sustains a permanent injury of some kind, reflected as a permanent -1 penalty to Strength, Agility, or Stamina (determine randomly).
*sigh* They both made their Luck rolls. They both survived 5d6 points of damage that should have smashed them like bugs. They totally deserved to die for being stupid, yet they survived. IIn most rulesets, they would have been dead, but not in DCC. This doesn't seem very Metal to me. From now on, new house rule: Recovering the body is not going to be a thing in my game. If you die, you die. The other players can quest to resurrect you or get you reincarnated or whatever, but recovering the body is just ridiculous in this context. I mean these fuckers were smashed to Hell and back, and they really, really deserved it! I really don't mean to be a psycho GM, but fair is fair. Playing dumb should get you killed, and from now on it will.

In a spirit of fairness, the players decided that those two were not going to be able to continue the adventure this evening, and they were sent upstairs to meet up with the rest of the party, up in the main temple. Denny the theif and Abel the wizard were sent down to replace them.

The party crossed the pit, and were able to chip free the sealed, stone door. Inside they found an altar surrounded by a bluish glow. On top of it... THE FROSTHAMMER OF GRAKI DEATHSTALKER!

Go listen to that song again. I'll wait. ... Okay, now on with the adventure.

This was a very, very special trap. It more or less created a sort of Spell Duel situation, but was not a spell duel: It was a test of wills. From the adventure text:

This altar has a magical trap. If triggered (This will happen if someone attempts to force it), it will do Chain Lightning damage to all within 30 feet of the door. This version is more deadly than the spell of the same name.

Chain lightning! A single lightning bolt that jumps between up to six targets. The lightning bolt cannot loop back to a prior target. The first target takes 4d8 damage, the second target takes 3d8 damage, the third target takes 2d8 damage, and the fourth target takes 1d8 damage. The final two targets take 1d6 and 1d4 damange, respectively.

Once triggered, it will take 1 hour to "reset," at which point it will be fully armed, once again. Only a wizard may attempt to disarm this trap. Treat the attempt by the wizard to unseal it as an opposed casting test with the door itself: The door's check is 1d20+6, and wizard may act to counter with a straight casting roll of 1d20+Personlity Mod+Caster Level. The wizard will be hard pressed to succeed without either help or Spellburn. He must make three rolls in this Spell duel, and the door makes three opposed rolls. Each other spellcaster helping adds his or her caster level and Will mod to the total. If the door "wins" after three rolls, the spell is triggered as normal, plus the wizard (and any helpers) takes attribute damage of 1d8+total difference in rolls made.

In the end, two wizards took it on. Abilities were spellburned. The halfling added two points of Luck, and they succeeded in disarming the trap. Whew! It could have been ugly.

Host: Edgar! Tell our players what they have won!

Me: It's a handsome Frosthammer of Graki Deathstalker!

The Frost Hammer of Graki Deathstalker:
Warhammer; Atk +1 (+2 against coldblooded creatures); damage 1d8+2 (+1d4 against cold-blooded creatures); AL L; Bane: Serpent People; SP  natural 20 and the target must make Fort Save or be frozen solid. Only useable by Lawful PCs. If not Lawful, take 1d4 cold damage per round.

The hammer is about three feet long. The haft is made of a grayish, ivory-like material (actually frost giant bone), and set with a head of opalescent star metal which ripples with colors like the aurora borealis. It is clearly a masterwork of dwarven make, and designed such that each striking surface of the hammer is in the form of screaming dwarven warrior rendered in a compact, blocky style, almost like a tiki, but more, well… dwarven.

But there are some complications. Did I mention that everybody in the party is chaotic or, at best, neutral? That's a problem. I rolled some stats and alignments and HP for the urchins. Two were Lawful. Crisis averted. Francois the (French) Elf is also Lawful, but has a Strength of... wait for it... 5. Oof. Better leave it to the urchins, then.

Also in this chamber, they found a secret door. After entering the door, this time, they remembered to check for traps. Good thing. Spike trap was disarmed. Inside they found the following:

Inside the treasury is the corpse of a gigantic snake. Mummified and inscribed with arcane writing like that which covered the body of Balas Forktongue, the creature's belly bulges with its contents. If investigated, the PCs will discover that it contains the mummified corpse of an armored dwarf. These are the remains of Graki Deathstalker, still in his armor.
By freeing the body of Graki Deathstalker, the PCs each gain 1 point of Luck, permanently. Lawful characters gain 2 points of Luck, permanently.
The writing on the snake's body is a spell. If Read Magic is cast it is revealed as the Binding 3rd level Cleric Spell.
The Armor of Graki DeathstalkerThis armor allows the wearer (who must be a Lawful dwarf) to receive an automatic "3" result on a mighty deed of arms once per day, and to reroll (without penalty) a "1" on an attack roll once per day. Otherwise, it's a suit of dwarven plate mail made from an unknown, nonferrous metal of bluish-white opalescent hue, which gives it the the encumbrance effects of banded mail (+8 to AC, -6 to Checks, -5’ movement, d16 fumble die).
If the wearer is not a dwarf of lawful alignment, the metal will affect the wearer as if it was iron and the wearer was an Elf.Other treasure
There are several metal caskets here.
Casket 1: This is the largest one. It contains ingots of black metal (weight: 250 lbs). There is twice as much of it as in Casket 3.
Casket 2: This is the smallest one. It contains 5d30 cut gemstones worth 1d100 silver pieces each (weight negligible).
Casket 3: This medium-sized casket contains ingots of mithril (weight 100 lbs).
Casket 4: This one is flat and just a bit larger than Casket 2. It contains a grimoire made of thin plates of black metal. The cover is decorated in blood-red gemstones and graven with enchantments in the script of the Serpent Men. ... However, anyone who attempts to pick it up and read it must make a Will Save at DC10, or will be put in stasis (duration as per 3rd level Cleric spell, Binding—assume the maximum result of 34+)

The wizards, Jerkal and Abel (bless their hearts) tried to read it and failed their Will saves (hehe). They are in stasis for 7 and 8 days, respectively. Once again, impatience leads to bad outcomes. Yep, the wizards are furniture now, at least for a while, and will need to be carried by someone. At the end, the players were trying to figure out if a period of rest would be wise. I'm gonna go with, "Yes."

So, they're gonna be rich, but first they have to get a whole bunch of really, really heavy treasure out of here, through the jungle, and back to Samsara. They'll have to be carrying the static wizards. Also, they need to avert the impending Serpentkin Crisis. Please also remember that these Serpentkin are spellcasters in many cases, and now the party is down some wizards. Oops. Oh, and don't forget, they're on an "Instant Death Countdown" due to the poison with which they are infected.

They set the urchins to carrying treasure up to the main temple, where the rest of the party is, and that's where we ended.