The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign continued the +Harley Stroh module, "Jewels of the Carnifex" on Thursday, and this is how it went down.
When last we left our heroes, the had recently defeated three mutant-looking dudes. Tough, ugly, and now very, very dead. Here's a report from Kormaki Lemmisson, 2nd level cleric of the Metal Gods (now only 3 XP away from 3rd level).
At this point we're trying to figure out where to go. There's a door with a chain and padlock (i.e., shiny red button) and there's a room that looks like the doors have been blown off their hinges. We went the "open" route, and found a corridor full of vines with a hole in the floor. Denny Smeds, our thief, went first. He found that the vines weren't dangerous, and that the hole in the floor went down to the first level (probably?). Then he discovered something weird. The vines on the other side of the hole kind of petered out, shriveled and dead. Beyond them Denny found a room with an overturned altar with a skull motif (very Metal). It also looks like there's a hollow under where it used to stand, in the shape of possibly a two-handed sword. The sword is long gone, though. I imagine we'll need to find it at some point, to kill the Big Bad (whatever it is).
On the wall behind the altar was a mosaic to some sort of death goddess. It seemed to be projecting some kind of mad juju, and that was killing the vines. Me, being the party cleric, went to check it out. It didn't seem to shrivel me, so good. I had an inspiration that the goddess might crave blood. The wizard, Formerly Ian, cut open his finger and flicked drops onto the mosaic, which sucked them up like parched soil. Nothing else really happened, though, as a result. It's a nice mural, though, and probably pretty valuable to the right collector, so we decided to maybe steal the mural by taking the panels off the walls. My thought was that we'd go ahead and kill off the vines with it, since it seemed to be killing them somehow. However, we then discovered a hole in the wall, or rather a recessed cylinder. Inside, there was some sort of pull-ring. We'd have to reach in to grab it. Dumb idea. Who has two thumbs and wants to keep 'em? This guy! Ain't no way I'm putting my hand in there. Nobody else wanted to either.
At this point, +Adam Muszkiewicz is all but laughing at us. This is probably the first time that words like "over-cautious" or "timid" would be good descriptions of us, we who style ourselves "The Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle." I mean, shit, we've had the sacred Purple Meat, and seen Muppets and Space Bowie, and smoked mushroom wizard brain. We've killed more apes and ver-men, and lizard people and serpent kin, and whatever else, than just about anybody. We ain't scared o' shit. This time, though, we're short a fighter, and our wizard has spellburned a LOT of stamina and agility. He ain't lookin' so good, at least what you can seen under all that hair. The goat hooves are kind of nifty, though. I wouldn't mind trading my one-leg-longer-than-the-other for a nice set o' trotters like that. They're pretty fuckin' Metal, you know? Hard to sneak around on, though. Maybe Formerly Ian the Wizard will need some special shoes to quiet them down. We could call 'em "sneakers" or something like that.
Anyhow, Crag Beerbeard has himself a hell of an idea. We jimmy up a combination of arrow, string, and rope. The arrow is used to get the string in the hole, the string gets fed through the ring and the other end dragged by out. Then we attach the rope to the string and everybody gets the hell out of the room. We give it a yank. No "BOOM!" So far, so good.
When we return, the mural has parted to reveal a reliquary, and some serious magic is coming off that thing, like the "stink lines" used in comic art to show that something smells awful. It projects a sense of dread. The reliquary is covered in gold and probably weighs about 500 pounds. No carrying that thing out, but maybe there's something inside. We hope so. There's also a shawl the color of dried blood. It's also magical. I can't remember exactly what happened, or how, but the mural or the reliquary, one of the two, fucked up three of the party members who failed a save, aging them magically. Denny Smeds, the thief, went from 21 to 42 years old in a moment's time. The two dwarves Crag and Grumble were also aged, though not nearly as much. Given Denny's advanced stage of decay, we decided the shawl was a fitting reward for him. Lucky bastard. It provides some protective magics.
Then we gotta figure out who's fool enough to touch that reliquary. So we stand around with our thumbs up our asses until Crag Beerbeard brings the awesome. He passes a very difficult Will Save to make this happen, and opens it. Inside, we find some vials (one of unknown properties, three of holy water) and a magical tome encased in a cundach (yeah, we had to look up the word, too). It's a metal case for a book, and this one was locked with three separate locks. After an inspection, Denny Smeds figures that each of them has to be triggered at the same time. Not sure what'd happen if that wasn't done, but nothing good, I'd wager. We decide to pack it along. I grab the holy water, that being my province, and we leave the room.
Next stop was the room next door, the one chained and padlocked. We dithered a bit, but eventually opened it up. Inside we found a mad hermit of some kind (yeah, this is like the third or fourth mad hermit we've encountered in our time, and none of 'em has been good news). Experience dictates that we treat this bastard with a high degree of suspicion. Crazy bastard keeps inviting us to sit down and eat with him. Nope. Ain't happening. We listen to his crazy rantings for a bit, which keep circling back to some guy named Azazel or something like that, then decide that we don't want to mess with him any more. When we try to leave, he follows. Grumble tries to fool him into staying while we go and take care of some things, but he proves resistant. Crag then tries to cold-cock him with a crowbar, but fumbles. Ooops! So, Grumble picks up the slack and Mighty Deeds him with the shield bash. Poor fucker flies across the chamber and slumps to the ground unconscious. "Down goes Frazier!" as the sage once said. I took some time to deface the runes in the room, for they were an affront to me. I felt a stirring in the Void as my actions were noted by Powers Unknown. I fear them not, for I walk with Lemm the Iron Boar and Obhal the Steel Eagle as my personal saints, and the Metal Gods will guard me. We then left the room and locked it behind us. Nope. No mad hermits for the likes of us. We know better.
So up we went, the place where the three mutant-looking guys were beating the drum and also trying to kill us. Their corpses lie there still. Beyond them is a wide corridor almost filled with the roots/vines or whatever they are. I ain't a druid. I'm a city boy, so don't ask me. There's some kind of purplish-white energy roiling around in there, too, so I'm not too keen about just wading in to that mess. So, we check around the area to see what else there was to see. There were more carved murals in the rock here, and we didn't find any indications of a secret door (We were wrong about that, we'd find to our regret, later). So, the vines it was.
Denny Smeds, I have failed to mention, is in control of a skeleton. He found this whistle thing on the body of a sorcerer he'd backstabbed a while back, and he can use it to control the undead. I'm not sure how powerful it is, like if he can raise an undead army, but it seems to work. The dead don't always understand what you want 'em to do, though, so don't expect any complicated tasks from them. This, though, was just the sort of thing they're good for. We sent it into the vines. No long after, it encountered what looked to be about 7 of those mutant guys. The skeleton quickly died. Again, I mean.
Well, nothing for it but to go on through. The vines didn't appear to be dangerous, and we probably... probably could take what destroyed the skeleton. So ahead we forged. What greeted us was not promising. There were seven mutant-looking guys (regular), on larger one with a two-handed sword, and one god-like, majestic guy. That guy's gonna be trouble, we can tell. There's also this Wicker Man thing made out of vines and whatnot. We're still not sure if it's just an idol or if it's dangerous. We engaged them with firebombs and the holy water we'd found in the reliquary. These guys are clearly Lawful, and I never much cared for judgmental types. I try to maintain balance, but these guys clearly are trouble, and if a chaotic goddess's gifts can help deal with them, I'm all for it. I hope the Metal Gods understand that their humble servant is in need. The holy water clearly damaged them, including Mr. Majestic, but not nearly enough. Then, things got fucked up. Back down the hallway, some secret doors opened up. Damn, we missed 'em. Out pours about 20 more mutant guys. They'll take a while to get to us, so we'd best deal with these guys in here, especially Mr. Majestic. We also need to kill that bastard with the 2-handed sword. I got a feeling that thing will be handy, later. Roll for initiative.
Formerly Ian the Wizard went first. He bled for his magic, and spellburned 10 Strength, but only rolled a 23. Four guys went down. We killed a couple more, and wounded some, too. We also spotted a staircase, leading down. I began to marshal my brothers into a better formation. If we could use the stairway as a choke point, and get the dwarves to form a shield wall, we might be able to hold out, at least for a while. Formerly Ian Invoked the Metal Gods (they are his patron), and They heard him. We all heard the music, then, haunting strains of one of the Lost Songs filled us with the power of the Metal Gods. I then blessed Grumble the Dwarf, who was even more filled with the Power of Metal. There was, then, a bit of a kerfuffle 'twinxt the dwarves and the mutant guys, and the mutant guys suffered for it.
Meanwhile, Denny has descended the stairs a bit, and there found what we believe to the Jewels of the Carnifex, the objects (I presume) of our quest. His chaotic ass decides he might do a little "shopping," instead of helping us poor bastards with the killing. I yelled at him a bit about that, but a thief's gotta do what thieves are known for doing.
At this point, Mr. Majestic starts to speak with us inside our heads. These guys are apparently the Swords of the Pious, and came down here to desecrate this here temple. They seem to have encountered difficulties, and couldn't approach the Jewels. So... we can go down these stairs, but they can't? Nice. We may live after all. Anyway, this guy (Azazel's, his name. The guy the mad hermit was muttering about. Thinks he's some kind of god, he does) wants a favor. He thanks us for joining his group, and some crap about us helping him to complete his mission by smashing the Jewels to dust, and releasing him and his merry band of mutant-looking bastards.
Umm... hmm.... Nope. Not gonna happen. These assholes were trying to kills us just a minute ago, and now he thinks we're gonna help his sorry ass? Oh, hellllll no. If they can't come down the stairs, then they can't kill us. Smashing the Jewels would probably make that effect go away. Nope. Sorry, guys.
Still, maybe there's benefit to aiding them. Maybe the obvious escape route is not as simple as it seems. A quandary, to be sure, but not one we have time for today.
That's the story up to this point. I'll tell you more later, after it happens.