Saturday, March 16, 2013

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

Well, we finally finished up this monster of a module. All in all, it wasn't nearly as deadly as it probably should have been. +Gabriel Perez Gallardi has already blogged about it, over here. I am going to steal shamelessly from his descriptions and add a bit of my own to them, as well as some thoughts about the the first playthrough of this module.

Our players this week were +Adam Muszkiewicz+John Iverson, +Gabriel Perez Gallardi, as I've mentioned, +Bear Wojtek, and +Wayne Snyder, each with 2 characters. +phil spitzer had a time conflict, and was not there for the final session, but we've got a bit of treasure for him. Phil, talk to the guys about your fabulous parting prizes.

The characters were:

Denny: 2nd level Thief
Jerkal: 1st level Wizard
Vane: 2nd level Warrior
Abel: 1st level Wizard (Abel was paralyzed. Bear went with Vane, only)
Banvha: 1st level Halfling
Aram: 1st level Cleric
Doug: 1st level Warrior
Chuck: 1st level Warrior
Formerly Ian: 1st level Wizard
Morfans: 1st level Dwarf
4 Urchins, a.k.a. "The Blue Vaners" (Don't ask me; I didn't name 'em.)

The PCs had ascended from Level 3, and had emerged once more from the secret door that led down to that level. Now on Level 2, they were in a corridor just outside of the Brooding Chamber. They had no idea what they might find, but something nasty was behind Curtain 2, or at least behind another high tech door. They crept up to the door and found another panel. Using the proper buttons, they somewhat recklessly opened the door. Occasionally these guys just do things. I blame Vane, the chaotic fighter (and now a youth mentor to four Urchins). 

The door opened on a truly frightening scene. There, before them, stood a monumental machine with a vast, central, egg-shaped chamber (about 40 feet high) full of swirling red plasma, atop a high platform, surrounded with six smaller chambers, also red and egg-shaped, but only six or seven feet high. A vertical pipe of black metal stretched from the central chamber up through the ceiling of the chamber. One of the players speculated that the pipe might lead up to the altar's drain. That was the correct answer. The blood of those children was fueling the fearful apparatus, which, now it can be told, was being used to create serpent men. The other monsters, like the Degenerate Serpent Men and the Chaos Serpent Blobs were mistakes, created before the Eternal Egg had been repaired and tuned properly. And who was doing this repair?

The Serpent Lich! This is the high priest of two-headed snake god of cyclopian visage, Sssaa'a Laasss (sounds snaky, doesn't it?). The Serpent Lich, of course, had plenty of minions on hand, including several True Serpent Men, 2 Chaos Serpent Blobs, and 3 Hunter Automata. Things looked grim indeed for the gang. Nonetheless, they (or at least Vane) were game.

Vane charged into the room. The Serpent Lich cast Spider Web to great effect. Vane was entangled, and the stair and hallway behind him were filled with webs. Some advocated to close the door and escape. The True Serpent Men were also spellcasters, and it could get ugly. Ultimately, though, they relied on... team work. What the hell? How did that happen. A combination of Strength Checks liberal application of flaming oil, Flaming Hands spells, and the span of only a couple rounds, and the webs were pretty much gone. So much for my early successes. It would only get worse for the bad guys after that. The players' rolls were just ridiculously good. Mine were, at best, mediocre, at least after the Serpent Lich went. However, not everyone was quite as lucky, or at least not just lucky. Occasionally things when the other way, and the PCs became their own worst enemies.

Gabriel said:

The Wizard Formerly Known As Ian cast 5 Sleep spells in a row, sending into a deep slumber between 2 and 4 serpent men each time. And grew five inches of hair too! That streak granted him the nickname of "The Sandman".
This was just sad to watch. After the wizard had Slept most of my bad guys, it was up the the Serpent Lich to hold down the fort. Unfortunately, he got made dead, but not before he had paralyzed Chuck. The Serpent Lich went POOF! and disappeared upon his defeat. If the Eternal Egg hadn't been destroyed, he would have respawned the next day, and resumed his grim work. I wasn't that lucky. Formerly Ian continued to Sleep the bad guys, and Jerkal the Blazin' lived up to his name by rolling criticals with his Flaming Hands spell. Fabulous! He was like a fucking napalm strike on a whole group of three enemies. Eventually Jerkal was taken out by a Hunter Automaton, and paralyzed.

After wiping the floor with the remaining enemies through a combination of swordplay and spellcasting, the PCs approached the Eternal Eggs, seeming instinctively to know What Had to Happen to Fuck It Up. Aram the lawful cleric wound up and smacked the shit out of it with the Frosthammer of Graki Deathstalker. It erupted in a gout of plasma, burning Vane pretty badly, but he rolled (yet another) saving throw, halving damage. Aram was protected from fire by the Frosthammer's magic. The Eternal Egg lay in ruins, and the threat posed by the Serpent Men had been averted. And they made it look easy. All my hard work had come to naught.

Curses, foiled again!

Wayne observed in a comment:
I was feeling pretty kick ass last night when I maxed out the rolls for Jerkal the Blazin's Flaming hands spell. Twice! Dude was a virtual walking flame thrower. Awesome. Only to be completely side lined later in the same turn when The Wizard Formerly Known As Ian cast Sleep and his mighty dice had him sleep every enemy in the room (5) who wasn't already asleep from his previous Sleep spells. The blood fueled sci-fi and sorcery birthing chamber of the hideous serpent men was looking like "serpent man sorcerer sleep over party" and we calmly walked through poking holes in the sleeping snake men like it was nothing. Ian is the sleep master. When it's good, it's so good, and when it's bad, he's in a magical coma for a week.
The party could, at this point, have left the Temple behind and returned to Samsara. They did not. This proved consequential. Entering another passage to east brought them to another sci-fi door. They opened it and found more enemy. It was a little crazy for a short while, but they eventually defeated them. This was, I believe, when The Wizard Formerly Known as Ian had a bad outcome with his final Sleep spell, putting himself into a coma until magical healing could be effected. On top of this, Aram the cleric had some trouble Laying on Hands, and incurred Deity Disapproval, putting his healing checks at -4 for the rest of the session. He was out of commission, and Vane who had (once again) charged into a meat grinder, was badly wounded. Banvha the Halfling also had depleted her Luck supply for the interim. Things were starting to turn my way again. Mwahahaha!

Then it got better. They opened another room, finding a large chamber with rows of Serpent Man-sized holes about 3 feet off the floor on opposite sides of the chamber. At this point we lost about 5 minutes to jokes about glory holes. I observed that the holes were pretty damned big, and they were about to get fucked roughly by the now-enraged True Serpent Men. This was, it was now revealed, the barracks for the True Serpent Men (and an Armory, as well, though the PCs had to run before exploring it).

The problem started when Vane decided to throw flaming oil into one of the holes. This activated about nine more enemies. They fled the chamber, and kept heading north. They found a locked door and activated the panel to open it. A tunnel led toward a chamber they'd been in before, the one with the first machines they'd encountered. Unfortunately, there were also two hidden rooms that suddenly opened, revealing 6 Hunter Automata. Things were pretty grim for our PCs, at this point, and they started getting a little whiny about it. After killing my guys and destroying a very, very expensive machine? The gall!

I reminded them that they could have gone through safe areas to escape, but they'd gotten greedy. Not satisfied with the treasure they'd gained already, they wanted MORE. Now faced with overwhelming odds, they ran away.

Yep, pretty much like this.

They broke the electronic panels on two of the doors, and escaped through the safe areas of the temple. Then they used Ward Portal to block the other entrance, from under the Snake God Statue cum Laser Turret, in the main temple. This was pretty awesome, as their result on that spell made the door simply disappear for several weeks. WTF? So, the pursuit had been neutralized for all intents and purposes. That's what you call lucky.

Gabriel observed:
Having defeated the serpent men and destroyed their wicked breeding machine, the party, instead of leaving the place (Chuck and Jerkal were paralyzed, and Vayne badly wounded), decided to keep exploring for more treasure. That's when Wizard Formerly Known As Ian ran out of luck or lost the favour of the Metal Gods. He fumbled a Sleep spell and fell into a coma. With the serpent men closing in the group grabbed their out-of-action comrades and ran the hell out of the Mysterious Temple of the Serpent God
We sailed all the way back from Samsara to Ur-Haddad avoiding a huge storm. Upon arrival, we handed the Eyes of the Serpent to Amor Ba'Gish, the wizard who employed (and poisoned) us, along with the chest  full of platinum bars we were supposed to give Balas Forktongue (who we found dead, tortured and killed by the Serpent kin) as payment for the Eyes. After receiving the antidote and a succulent reward we headed to celebrate, with the promise of more jobs from the wizard.

They got their treasure. Instead of keeping what they knew to be 50,000 gp worth of platinum bars (and this is a silver standard monetary system, mind you), they returned the unused payment to Balas Forktongue. This was the right choice. The Wizard, Amor Ba'Gish, would have killed them if they'd attempted to hide it from him. They got their payment in silver from the Wizard, for which they'd already been contracted. In addition, they were given 25 of the platinum bars with a total value of 2500 gp. That's a shitload of money in this world. It would be a shame if something were to happen to it. 

I think this would be a really, really good time to continue working on the faction rules we've only playtested once. Adam, please send me your notes from the playtest.

So, that was The Mysterious Temple of The Serpent God. This is one of the most intense projects I've worked on, and I got a chance to do some really fun and interesting (to me) things. Once again, I used the "song titles to name your scenes" method to write this. The band High on Fire were the stars this time. It was incredibly challenging to conceive a story that only used those titles as prompts. It often drove the story in ways I hadn't intended, to begin with at least. For example, this was going to be in the frozen north, but "Snakes for the Divine" precluded anything but a jungle adventure, in my mind, conjuring visions of blocky, jungle temples, huge snakes, high priests and sacrifices, and other neato stuff like that.

I'm not really "done" with it at this point. There are a lot of rough patches in the written material, partly because I had some better ideas as I went along. I also forgot to do some of the things I had planned, or had to adapt the plan a bit to make sense of things that I hadn't anticipated. All in all, I think the module has a lot of promise. I'm going to continue to polish for the inevitable Kickstarter (Yes, I'm kidding). However, I will actually try to get it into shape for other people to try out. I had fun running it, and I hope my players enjoyed the experience of running through it.

Next up: Adam will run a zero-level funnel for us. We're all gonna die! Fun!