Dragons of Blackminster

ToA 02 - Monkey Bridge
Bestial Rage & Lust

Ront and Gray carried the others out into the storm drains and waited an hour or two for them to wake up. It was about 3:00am when they clambered out (Gray now has a key to the grate padlocks). They decided to return to Tre’Max, the blacksmith.

[GM: Gray’s player couldn’t make it, so Gray (the ranger) went off on a private mission, arranging to meet them at Juma’s place the following evening.]

Tre’Max answered his door, pale and afraid. He told them he had had more visitors less than an hour before – two men, burly sailors who work for M’Bolla (a smuggler captain – known to be pretty tough). They were asking questions about an Elf called Ariel and a couple of Northerners!

It seems M’Bolla wants something back that has been stolen from him – and also wants some revenge for a couple of his men who were killed. He’s offered a reward of 20gp for information about these people.

An hour later, while Juma is meditating to attune himself to the magic staff, there is knocking at the door. It turns out to be Illidrian (another Elf, a friend of Ariel – they share an apartment in the City). Ariel had told his friend where they were, yesterday afternoon. Half an hour ago, Illidrian had been forced to escape through his bedroom window, when three “pirates” smashed in his front door shouting for Ariel to surrender. As they are both elves, it seemed unwise to reason with them that it was a case of mistaken identity, so Illidrian fled and came to find Ariel.

[GM: Illidrian is the character of a new player – a rogue with the entertainer background]

When Juma finishes his attunement with the Staff, he has some vivid visions. In the dream, he is a woman, leading a group of frantically-dancing native warriors -,fire-light, sweat and thumping drums. It is some kind of fertility dance, maybe a prelude to an orgy!

He learns that the Staff (when it is whole) can store spells. There is one spell still stored in this broken version (he hasn’t told the other players yet). He also learns that the Staff must be pretty ancient and powerful as it seems to be able to become a Warlock Patron (that means it is potentially mega-powerful when it is made whole)! It is clearly an artefact of ancient Kesh heritage, just the type of artefact that Wakanga Otamu (Merchant Prince of Antiquities) would want to remain in Kesh, and not allowed to be “culturally-appropriated” by the white devils of the north.

He also senses that the staff is “pointing” to something west of the City. There is only about 2 miles of jungle between the western gate (and Malar’s Throat – the shanty town where Juma lives) and the western shore of the peninsula.

They decide to sneak out to the west and take a look. Have to pass close to the wharf of the Anchorage and they see there are lanterns and much activity around M’Bolla’s ship – The Breath of the Wild.

Out in the jungle, past the shanty town, Juma realises they are heading for Monkey Bridge – a ruined bridge over a deep gully, close to the shore. He’s been there before, years ago and there is nothing of significance as far as he knows.

monkey_bridge.png

The road goes nowhere, the bridge is half-blocked by a statue of a stone baboon. The statue and the bridge itself are crude and rotten. The statue’s face has been eroded by centuries of rain.
Unusually – there appears to be a troupe of baboons, living under the bridge in a mass of twisted vines. They scream at the intruders and a couple climb to the bridge and throw a few stones.

Illidrian hurls a stone back at them and Ront rushes at them, hoping to scare them off, but the creatures are unusually brave. More scamper up and surround the half-orc, snapping at him. He backhands one of them off the bridge and then grabs another and uses it as a club to batter a third.

angry_baboon.png

Ariel attempts to cast animal friendship on one of them but the baboon resists.

Juma tries to communicate with the Staff, but it seems to be exhausted. He asks it what they are supposed to do – it is pointing towards the stone baboon on the bridge, but apparently too weak to speak.

Ront (enraged) finishes off the baboons on the bridge – only one manages to flee back into the vines below. There are more baboons screeching below (these turn out to be the females of the troupe).

Ront is raging and charges at the stone statue, smacking it hard with his hammer.

Juma hears the whisper in his head from the Staff “Now he’ll show his face!”.

A carved wooden mask of a snarling baboon appears instantly, covering the eroded blank face of the statue. The statue shakes free of the plinth and seems to be in a furious frenzy. From the mask comes a thunderous scream and the creature spins round like a whirling dervish, its scream damaging Ront and hurling Ariel off the bridge!

wongo_mask.png

Before he falls 100ft (likely to kill him), Juma casts featherfall to save him. The druid’s fall slows and he is able to grab at the vines below the bridge and wildshape into the form of a blonde baboon. While his friends fight the animated statue above, he engages the remaining baboons in the vines. He and the remaining male have a screaming contest, but baboon-Ariel grows bored with intimidation and knocks his rival off the bridge. He is left with the cowering females….

On the bridge, Juma is still trying to speak to the staff but all he can get from it is a whisper “the face…”. The baboon – clearly a representation of Wongo the Monkey God – is in a berserk fury, but so is Ront. He head-butts the baboon and knocks off the mask. While Ront and Illidrian fight the thing, Juma rushes in and grabs the mask.

It is a close run thing, but finally Juma finishes the creature off with a magic missile.

By the time Juma has finished examining the mask, Ariel returns from the vines below the bridge where the screeching continues even louder than before.

The Mask makes the wearer angry. Once per day it can cast thunderwave (either as a blast or by spinning round as a burst – victims who are pushed, can be directed). Once per day it can grant the wearer the RAGE of a battlerager – similar to barbarian rage, but even more mindless! If Ront puts it on, his normal barbarian rage will become “battlerager” rage. The thunderwave can be cast even by a rager. Ront takes the mask but has not yet attuned to it (will take an hour of sitting with it on).

The Staff seems pleased and now the tugging sensation points south into the jungle.

They decide to go back to Juma’s hovel, in the Malar’s Throat shanty town. They had agreed to meet Gray there.

They haven’t quite decided whether to follow the directions of the Staff (the Jungle is a dangerous place and they can’t tell how far they will have to go) or head back into town to deal with M’Bolla and his smuggling gang or whether to hand the staff over to Ambassador Vernicus.

baboon_with_ariel_junior.png

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ToA 01 - Smugglers

Juma – the young wizard, a citizen of Port Nyaranzu, looked at his new companions with some apprehension. How had he let himself become indebted to the Ambassador of Gard! But Ambassador Vernicus had provided him with his Book of Spells. This latest favour would finally cancel the debt between them.

He had met Ariel, the wood-elf druid, before. Although elves are rarely seen in Kesh, this one had been raised in the jungle by Grung (humanoid tree-frogs) and had recently left the Grung to come live in Nyaranzu.

The other two were fresh off the boat! Gray – a white-skinned man from Eastport in the Kingdom of Gard. It seemed likely that Gray had crossed the ocean to get away from some trouble, and it seemed to Juma that he would soon run into trouble here too. The last of them was Ront Rusthammer (named after the tatty-looking warhammer slung over his back). He was a half-orc with a mouthful of large, uneven teeth. He was from even further North, the land called Beyond. Still there were plenty of half-orcs in Kesh these days, in the Army of the Morningstars, fighting the hordes of zombies in the Jungle.

Vernicus was sweating even more than usual today as he hurriedly explained what was required.
It seems that some wizards from the Royal Academy (posh wizard college in the distant capital of Gard) had received a vision that a magical staff was about to be smuggled into Nyaranzu, through the sewers. Vernicus was ordered to obtain the staff (with a head carved into a Couatl – feathered/winged snake, and ship it north.

Juma scowled at this. Wakanga Otamu, Merchant Prince of Magic and Artefacts, would not be happy if he learned of this. The city gates had a property of magic detection and all magical items and historical treasures had to be declared. Otamu requires a tax to be paid for any items of this type that enter the city, and can confiscate any he deems to be part of Keshite Heritage. Still, a debt is a debt and must be paid.

The Ambassador had somehow learned which sewer entrance the smugglers would use to get under the wall and that it would happen tonight or the next night. He stressed that he was not asking them to “smuggle” the item in, nor to kill any citizens – although it was clear to the insightful Wizard that the “white-devil” just wanted plausible deniability. He mentioned that snatching the Staff AFTER it had been smuggled in, would mean they hadn’t broken any laws.

They agreed to the mission, made introductions and Juma led them to the outer city where the sewer grating was located just outside a weapon-smith’s shop. They spent a few hours in the late afternoon and evening hanging about in the little marketplace. The new-comers stood out like a sore thumb!

They managed to notice that a Tabaxi (a cat man from the far south) who was busking (badly) was actually watching them and the grate.

They had some difficulty convincing Tre’ Max, the smith, to let them loiter in his shop, but money changed hands and Ront bought a shield at a higher than normal price (after a little wager). Because of their generosity, Tre’Max was willing to let them use his shop for their plan – to ambush the smugglers and drag them into the shop. He even invited them up onto his roof to drink Tej, while they waited for nightfall.

When Ariel, who could see in the dark, stayed in the marketplace he was approached by the Tabaxi, sneaking about, checking the alleyways. The cat man hissed at him that he should move along – so Ariel joined Ront in hiding.

Shortly after midnight the Tabaxi led a tough-looking human Keshite sailor carrying a rucksack, to the grate and unlocked the padlock with a key.

There was some confusion between Ront and Ariel and a momentary delay, allowing the sailor to drop into the sewer before they had time to stop him.

Ariel then cast Entangle, causing vines and grasses to spring from the cobbled streets. The tabaxi proved to be very nimble and wasn’t restrained. In the dark on the roof, Juma cast light on his spear tip and began to run downstairs. Gray was hidden in the shop – with Tre’Max watching him suspiciously, but it was too dark outside to get a clear shot.

Ront charged across at the cat man, but was delayed by the Entanglemand in frustration, leapt down the hole, crashing into the smuggler on the iron ladder, knocking them both to the floor. The smuggler had been about to light a lantern which smashed and they rolled about in the spilled oil.

The Tabaxi leapt down on top of them and soon Ront was fighting both of them, on his own.

One of his companions smelled the oil and tossed a match into the hole, which narrowly missed the oil! `Then Gray shot an arrow into the darkness (could have hit anyone!).

Despite all this “assistance” the raging fury of the half-orc barbarian seemed to be winning. He crushed the throat of the human and almost killed the cat man, who fled deeper into the sewer, passing through some tunnels that were clearly signposted as “UNSTABLE”.

They all followed, with Juma’smlight spell illuminating the bloody corpse. Gray searched the body. Finding the Staff – but it was only the head section, about 18” long and appeaer to have been snapped.

They managed to catch up with the Tabaxi and the half orc and knocked out the cat man. But not before he had shouted out “It’s me Six, help – I’m being attacked!”. There were noises in response from behind a wall blocking the sewer pipe.

It was a secret door with a small slot in it. Juma and Ariel tried to imitate the smugglers but Ront’ distinctive voice gave them away. The enemy wizard behind the secret door tried to lure them into sight. When Juma showed himself, he was hit by a magic missile spell. Throwing the limp body of the tabaxi in front of him, Ront reached the wall and pressed himself to one side, out of sight, struggling to force the wall to slide. It began to move but the unseen wizard cast Thunderwave through the slot and the spell smashed into them. Juma and Ariel were knocked out, Even Ront was almost finished and they decided to retreat, hastily picking-up their fallen companions and staunching their wounds.

Their first mission was a partial success – they have the Staff – at least they have some of the Staff, but they now have to smuggle it to the Ambassador themselves and they have probably made enemies of a local smuggler gang (our heroes are very easily identified!).

[GM: level-up to second level. Despite the Staff being broken – and only having the top section, you can tell it is still magical and could try to attune to it (takes one hour)]

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TOA 00 - Tomb of Annihilation

We’ll be starting the Tomb of Annihilation campaign.
I’ve modified this to fit into the JADE campaign world.
Please check out the WIKI for additional info such as…

JADE HOUSE RULES
JADE Background for Tomb of Annihilation Campaign

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The TARRASQUE

The Tarrasque (modified)

6 × 6 Monstrosity, unaligned, destructive

_HP AND Damage slightly reduced but more ways to grapple and restrain and more mobile (due to. Misty Step and Climb speed). Also, more effective spell reflection. I decided to only give it Legendary attacks against grappled opponents (and nobody was knocked over or grappled)
_

AC:22, HP:500

Speed 40ft, 30ft Climb, with Misty Step 60ft as a bonus Action

STR 30 (10) DEX 16 (3) CON 30 (10) INT 7 (-2) WIS 14 (2) CHA 10 (+0)

Saving throws: Int +5, Wis +9, Cha +9

Damage Immunities: Fire, Poison, Bludgeoning, Piercing and slashing from non-magical weapons.
Condition Immunities: Charmed, Frigthened, Paralyzed, Poisoned
Senses: blindsight 120ft, passive perception 10

Legendary Resistances x 3
Magic Resistance – Advantage on Saves vs Spells.

Reflective Scales – scales shimmer like a chameleon’s, each scale a glittering mirror.
When targeted by magic missile, or any line or spell requiring a to-hit roll, roll 1d6 (1-2 reflection on attacker, 3-4 reflection to other random character, 5-6 normal effect on Tarrasque). [GM:In the final fight only one lightning bolt was used and it reflected on Torkas who was immune to lightning]

In same squares (or within 5ft) of this monster, at start of its turn roll to resist being knocked prone and 28 damage (save for half) either Dex Save or Str Save DC20.

MULTI-ATTACK: 1 Bite and ( 2 claws or 1 Stampede or 1 Tongue if not biting)

Bite 10 to hit, range 10ft, 3d610 piercing and grappled & restrained. The damage sets the DC for any escape check that rd, then DC 20 for future rds. Subsequent rounds if already bitten, automatic chewing damage is Max = 28, subsequent round 38, subsequent round 48 etc. If the target is wearing non-magical armour, it loses an AC bonus each round of chewing. If the target is wearing magical armour or magical cloak or magical robe Dex Save DC20 to avoid its loss of magical properties.

Claw 10 to hit, range 10ft (advantage against prone or grappled). Damage 3d610, damage is the DC of a Strength check to avoid being knocked prone.

Stampede, 30ft move action in a straight line, auto-hitting all targets on the ground, un-impeded by anything large or smaller. Str Save DC20 or Dex save DC20 to avoid being knocked prone, damage 28 (half if saved). If the target was already Prone, damage 38 instead. The Tarrasque can choose to keep one prone target at the end of its move grappled & restrained under a foot (Escape DC 20).

Tongue, like a chameleon’s tongue – in case enemies are out of reach, Tongue attack is 80ft range, +10 to hit, 2d6 damage and reel in 30 ft, grappled & restrained (Escape DC 20). The Tongue can be attacked AC20, HP 50. If the reel brings the target into Bite range, counts as already in the bite for purposes of chewing damage. It can leap 20ft up, then Misty Step 60ft, then Tongue 80ft (so can reach enemies up to 160ft up if necessary) flying targets would get pulled down if attached by the tongue and the creature is falling. The Tarrasque only takes half damage from falling. As its body spreads out with glide-webbing between the limbs.

In place of Legendary Actions, the Tarrasque gets a free attack against any victim who ends their turn grappled. [GM: in the final fight, this never happened!]

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Spelljammer 25 & 26
GOD - At Last

Assault on the Sun Spire

After rescuing the Starwhale and learning more about how she got here (and that Torkas had been captured by the Vorandans), our heroes turned their attention to the great palace/cathedral of Voranda Prime – the Sun Spire.

This was the place where the ritual sacrifice of Prince G’Vrain took place and was the centre of the power of Arch Priest Bu’Tross. The Sun Spire itself was an open-topped tower and a vast straight staircase lined with statues, led up to the top.

It was pretty much guaranteed to be protected against teleportations, so to get to it, they would have to get through the city of 5,000 Vampire Spawn!

Using the Rod of Security, Mulan shifted the others into the rod and sneaked through the city [GM: not even bothering to use Invisibility spells!]. There was a 500 yard circle around the palace – a line of charred earth, passing through some newly-destroyed houses. None of the citizens was crossing the line (although people were wandering the streets on both side).

When Mulan sneaked across the line, there was an explosion of fire and the Vampire spawn converged on the spot, hunting for her. She survived the blast and crept on.
The great staircase was almost empty – just one Vorandan general trudging up there. Mulan sneaked after him and saw him show his tattoos to another glyph. She used an illusion of the tattoos to get through and arrived at the top at Noon (under the blood-red sun) – while a ritual was taking place.

The General waited patiently while Bu’Tross and some of his Vampire Priestesses performed their ritual – honouring the Red Sun. Mulan sneaked past and saw that Prince G’Vrain was there too, in heavy armour and apparently stitched together as some sort of zombie/flesh golem.

She pulled the others out of the Rod of Security and battle commenced.

Bu’Tross called down a dozen Vorandan Warshps, three were openly patrolling the city skies, others were concealed in a magical cloud. They floated above the spire, ready to open fire.
Abraham encased one of the Priestesses in a globe of Force and then summoned the fleet of Starwhales. The Star Whale paladin burst from a Gate above the palace and then smashed through the 500-yard sphere of Fire Glyph to join the battle in the spire. The rest of the whales emerged from the gate and destroyed the warships.

The Prince seemed to be obsessed with Mulan (blaming her for his torture and death!) and chased her around. Eventually he and all the vampires were taken down. The Vampires turned to mist and fled down into the palace. Abraham raised the Prince from the dead and the sun turned back from Red to yellow. Across the city many Vampires were caught in the open and perished. In the weeks that followed the majority of the populace reverted back from being vampire spawn with dim memories of the last 18 months.

Our heroes assisted the Prince in taking back control and eradicating the vampires nesting below the Palace (including Bu’Tross).

God of Storms…

They were offered rewards by the grateful Vorandans…

Deckard became Lord of Ember (a city of Dwarves). His adventuring days are over.

Rurick accepted lands and a title, becoming Lord Rurick of the Shard (a huge Earth Mote – a floating island – housing various Temples and a small city). He promised to return and retire to Voranda after finishing his Quest to locate his God.

Abraham accepted a gift of a suit of +1 Plate Mail imbued with Fire Shield spell (once per day) and granting Fire Resistance.

They brought the Hammership to Voranda and it was fully repaired and 18 Vorandans joined the crew.

G’Vrain will re-open the borders of Voranda and resume trade negotiations / reparations with he Rock of Braal, but the war with the Scro will continue to bubble on for years.
  • * * * * *
    They found out from survivors of the warships that captured Torkas 7 years ago…

Bu’Tross had been hunting Starwhals for many years and had developed the Ship-Cloaking spell (it needs human sacrifice!) but still not been able to catch one. He received a prophetic vision and led three of his best ships to a nebula in the Sea of Chaos.
They were cloaked and witnessed the end of the hunt – an archaic hammership being dragged about by a Starwhal.

They de-cloaked just as the giant viking captain of the hammership (a heavily-muscled man about 8 feet tall) floated across to the exhausted beast with a spear and then turned away from the kill.

With surprise they blasted the hammership with cannon fire, but even so the Viking and his Valkyrie crew – winged warrior women with lightning blasts and spears, managed to destroy one of the three warships before they were overwhelmed. The Valkyries fought to the death but despite his skill and strength, they managed to beat him into unconsciousness and captured the captain alive.

Bu’Tross had plans to tattoo him and make him a servant of the Red Sun, but found that he could not be charmed/dominated. They began to tow the Starwhal back to Voranda but she resisted and Bu’tross ordered her killed (he would ressurrect her when they got her to the Docks)

It took them a month to get out of Chaos and 8 weeks back to Voranda. About 3 weeks from the Vorandan Sphere, a small metal sphere flew onto their ship, un-winding spindly metal spider-like arms. Before they could do anything other than call Bu’Tross onto the deck, it seemed to sweep the ship with a scanning beam, bleeped a few times and they were suddenly boarded by dozens of mechanical creatures who shimmered into existence (plane-shift?) – mostly the same small spheres of iron and copper, but a few larger creatures – all weird geometrical shapes with arms and eye-stalks. Some of the larger ones appeared to have cannons or ballista built into them. Their leader was some kind of Iron Golem with three arms, three legs and three living faces.

All the creatures bore engravings of interlocking cogs.

The leader introduced himself (in Tongues) as “Thaldross the Tertiary” and demanded their prisoner, “Captain Tor Kasse” be handed over to them. They brandished an ancient, rusted iron plaque with strange runes and more cogs on it, claiming it was a warrant for his arrest dating back almost 7,000 years.

When a few of the crew attacked, Thaldross cast a blade barrier, a fireball and a stinking cloud (at the same time!), killing or incapacitating most of the crew in mere moments! Even the mighty Bu’Tross had to admit they were out-classed and reluctantly surrendered the captive.

As they left, a pile of gold and platinum bars shimmered into existence on the deck behind them – approx. 100,000 gp value – all stamped with the cogs symbol.

  • * * * * *

They also accepted a cargo of Vorandan Wine and took it to the Rock of Braal. They sold the cargo for a massive price (as the Vorandan Borders were closed and the wine was incredibly rare). Immediately after the sale, they delivered the message that the Vorandan Borders were re-opened and that Voranda would pay reparations for the attacks on the Rock of Braal and other systems. The Scro systems continue to make war, but the others accept the reparations.

Months of star travel, following the compass, eventually leads them to empty space, far from the Flows and floating in open space is some kind of triangular (pyramid?), rotating crystal 1,000ft per side. It is mostly transparent, just faintly visible as a ripple, but one side shows a scene of interlocking cogs and machinery – some kind of large floating city of glittering spires and cogs with many twinkling lights flickering about (probably flying creatures similar to those described by the Vorandans).

The compass points to a huge flat, slowly rotating cog with a Pyramid at the centre. There are two squid-ships parked on spokes of the cog outside a central triangular door 30ft high and 20ft wide at the base. There are Neogi crawling around the two ships with many Umberhulk guards. Small metal creatures are clambering about the ship – apparently cleaning, polishing, fixing things.

There is plenty of room on adjoining spokes to park the Hammership.

Clayton has learned something about these creatures and knows they are Modrons, servants of the God Mecchanus, dedicated entirely to LAW. They politely ask a flying sphere where they can park and pay a berthing fee.

The Neogi are apparently here to negotiate a peace treaty between two hostile clans of Neogi.
They ask for an audience with Thaldross the Tertiary and are granted one.

They decide not to try and sneak into the Pyramid through various steam vents.

When the audience time arrives, they are led into the Pyramid by a pair of Iron Golems and brought to a large office to meet the being called Thaldross. He has the body of an Iron Golem, but with three legs, three arms and three living “human” faces. He appears to be three separate personalities in one body.

Clayton is the spokesman and explains they want to visit the prisoner Torkas. It seems they can only visit him if they are either “Next-of-kin” or “His Defence” (possibly meaning his lawyer or acting as his Champions in trial by combat!”.

Clayton claims to be Next of Kin and Thaldross agrees to let them speak with the prisoner.
It seems Thaldross is undecided what to do with Torkas. Captain Tor Kass is sentenced to death for his crimes. 7,000 years ago, he helped four evil gods escape from the wrath of their pantheons. They had done something so wicked that they were sentenced to destruction. Kass had the fastest ship in the galaxy and also had the ability to navigate the Sea of Chaos. He took them into hiding.

Thaldross the Tertiary is only authorised to pass judgement on Mortals and Kass claims to be a God. However, he does not display the powers of a God, but on the other hand, he is telling the truth (so he believes he is a God). The three personalities are divided. One believes Torkas to be a god, one does not and the third is undecided.

The best way out of this quandry would be for them to fight “unbeatable” odds and if Torkas is truly a God, they will win.

They go to discuss this with Torkas himself – held in a mechanical prison, engulfed in an anti-magic field.

The “god” is an eight-foot tall viking, heavily-muscled, apparently aged about 50. He seems confused, with partial memories of his time as a “god”. It seems that while you are a god, you don’t experience the boring parts of life, just existing in the significant moments (like being a player of Skyrim?).
The rest of the time is spent dreaming.

He had always yearned to return to the freedom of the space lanes, leaving his divine nature behind. However, as his powers faded he realises that real life is not so great – the Star Whales he longed to hunt again, turn out to be sentient so he feels guilty. He now wants to return to Jade and take up the mantle of the God of Storms again.

Clayton and Rurick give him a very stirring and inspirational speech to try and kick-start the return of his powers. It doesn’t quite work, but he seems keen to face whatever challenge Thaldross wants them to fight.

Clayton and Rurick are fully-committed to join him in the combat. Mulan and Abraham agree to help their friends.

They are led into a huge natural amphitheatre to face the “unbeatable” foe – a TARRASQUE!

[GM: the Tarrasque is one of the toughest monsters in D&D. I had modified this one slightly, reducing its hitpoints a bit, but had given it some extra abilities to make it even tougher – The Stats are listed in a subsequent post. It should have been a blood-bath for the characters, but Torkas was fighting with them and the two worshippers – Clayton and Rurick – were able to grant him spell-like abilities by sacrificing their own life-force. I had determined that a number of such sacrifices (or a sacrifice that caused the person to actually die!) would trigger his transformation to gain more god-like powers, making it a fairer fight. I didn’t explain this to the players in advance.]

The Tarrasque is a giant lizard (often depicted as a sort of dinosaur). In this version, it looked more like a gian chameleon, with glittering mirrored scales, reflecting the environment, so mostly green. It stood about 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide, towering over the heroes. Its movements were fast slashing the air around it with sharp, spiky scales.

Rurick charged at the monster! Fearless.

Torkas, gritting his teeth and muttering “A fair challenge! What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger!!” And hurled his heavy spear. It struck and drew blood, exploding with lightning as it hit.

Immediately Clayton decided to sacrifice himself completely, agreeing to take 24D8 damage (each sacrifice was 4D8 off the giver’s max hp – he had 112 hp and took 114 damage, killing him). This sacrifice caused Torkas to grow to about 12 feet tall and crackle with lightning sparks. The “demi-god” also gained the use of Legendary Actions, one of which was the ability to raise his slain allies as Valkyrie. Clayton (the player character) was now finished, but his spirit rose as a male Valkyrie (with all Clayton’s abilities and personality, plus Wings, plus lightning resistance, plus all his weapon attacks count as magical).

Mulan hid behind some bushes and then shot with her flintlock pistols. These should have done big damage, but merely bounced off the creatures scales. It cannot be harmed by non-magical damage.

Abraham cast Bless, granting all combat and save bonuses.

Then the creature charged into the space occupied by Torkas and Rurick, they were both damaged and had to struggle to keep their feet [GM: this may have been the critical moment of the fight – both saved STR DC20, and so weren’t prone and grappled/restrained. The monster also bit at Torkas, but rolled a “2” and missed]

Rurick then struck at it again and again [using all his Martial Superiority dice for extra damage, all three attacks and then using his Action Surge to hit another three times – his first attack tripped the monster so all subsequent attacks were at advantage and every attack hit]. He took some damage just from being in the creature’s aura, but only 28hp.

Then Torkas used another spell-like ability, to Haste all his allies, so they get an extra attack, then he struck it three times [GM:actually doing slightly less damage than Rurick’s 6 attacks!].
Mulan tired shooting again, and as a Legendary Action, Torkas granted her missile attacks the “Lightning” property, so this time she did damage.

Abraham then bravely ran in and touched the monster, using the Contagion spell. [GM:this was a brilliant tactical decision! The Tarrasque has lots of immunities and has Legendary Resistance (so can automatically make certain saving throws) but Contagion takes effect without a saving throw and causes the creature to become stunned if it takes any damage.] With his extra action from Haste, Abraham hit it with his magical quarterstaff doing just 2 damage, but enough to trigger the Stunned condition!.

It lay there helpless while our heroes pummelled it again. [GM: it does get to make saving throws to shrug off the effect, but needs three of them, so even though it auto saves, it is helpless for three rounds].

Everybody struck again but it was Abraham who finished it off, burning all 19 charges of his Staff of Power to do 20d6 damage in one hit.

The Tarrasque was dead, proof in the eyes of the Law, that Torkas is indeed a God. Thaldross had to let them go.

They flew back to Jade, with Torkas (faded back to mortality again until they reached the Portal to Jade).

Clayton was now his number one servant and as they passed into Jade, the god and the valkyrie faded from view as the storm clouds gathered overhead.

In accordance with Clayton’s wishes, they delivered Cannons and Gunpowder to Eastport along with the secrets of their manufacture – tipping the balance of power in the war with the Orcs. The remaining red-orc crewmen, led by Magnus Hammerhand and crewman Staines, returned to the Citadel of Shar Gazoth to rally the Red Orcs and throw off the oppressive rule of Lillith’s White Orcs.

Abraham was Excommunicated for his dealings with Dark Gods and Heretics, and forced to flee from Jade, accompanying Lord Rurick of the Shard on the Hammership, back to “retirement” on Voranda Prime where the Hammer of Torkas will join the on-going war against the Scro Empire. The ex-Inquisitor will become a leading diplomat in the service of Voranda, using his mindspeaker abilities to make treaties with the Star Whales.

Back in Jade, Mulan joined the King of the Gnomes in Tangleheart Forest. On their wedding night, they danced all the way from the Forest to the Mountain with flowers growing in their footsteps, re-uniting the Dryads and other female fae with the male fae. The forest quickly spreads to the foothills again and an army of enchanted trees, led by Mulan on her blue dragon steed, drive the white orcs out of the area.

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SpellJammer #25 - True Love and the Whale

Under cover of Clayton’s Pass Without Trace spell, they sneaked round the city outskirts to the edge of the Docks/Shipyard. There were two new Sky ships in cradles – only the empty hulls built so far. Carpenters and blacksmiths swarmed all over the place and they realised that these skilled workers – although they had Tattoos, did not have glowing tattoos. Perhaps the madness induced by becoming Vampire Swarm, made it too difficult to do skilled work.

In the blood-stained marshes east of the Shipyard, they could see the carcasses of dozens of star-whale calves – stripped of their horns and bones – covered with flies.

There was a large hill at the edge of the Shipyard with a huge iron double-door in the side.
This must be the place where the Starwhal (daughter of the Voyager Admiral) was being held.

Rurick sent his Imp Familiar (Mephistophelix) , invisible, in through a chimney at the top of the hill. The heat was intense as it led down to a forge in a workshop below. A couple of shipwright/smiths were working at tables down there. A couple of flesh golems were lumbering about carrying long heavy rods of bone and iron.

In the centre of the vast hangar, a female Starwhal was chained to the floor. She appeared to have been stitched-together (like the Flesh Golems) and there was a huge wound in her flanks and blood stains across the floor.

In a corner there was an archway leading to a dark cave. The imp spotted a dead horse on the floor, its guts spilled out. Then there was a sudden flash of blue, fangs and raging eyes in the shadows, then a lightning bolt. The imp managed to dodge it and fled back up the chimney without looking back.

The lightning was audible outside, but the ship-workers barely seemed to notice it. It must happen often enough to not raise an alarm.

A minute later, a blue dragon opened the door to the hill and began to look around. Mulan’s familiar – Mooshoo was keeping watch from a long way up and wasn’t noticed. After looking around for a while, it went back inside.
Later Deckard arranged a distraction for the ship-workers while the others snuck to the door and Abe managed to decipher a glyph on it while Mulan disabled the trap and unlocked the door. The Dragon had been waiting inside, invisible and blasted them all with lightning the moment they stepped inside.

There was a battle with a Blue Dragon and two Flesh golems. The dragon’s lightning seemed to repair the damage to the Golems. There were other golems in cells around the walls, but they managed to prevent them from being released by killing the two human shipwrights.

The Dragon was cunning, blasted them, and then fled into hiding until its breath weapon recharged. It also seemed to be able to see invisible creatures!

It attacked Mulan, separated from the others, almost killing her. In desperation she finally used her Circlet to cast the Gnome King’s Love Spell. Only then did she discover its true effect.

She fell deeply in love with the Gnome King and he with her. The sudden unconditional love gave her a huge boost in confidence and power. She danced with joy, around the Dragon and where she danced, the flowers of the forest sprang from the ground. When they formed a complete ring around the dragon, the area inside the circle erupted with huge roots grappling the dragon, and dragging it down and away. As the ring closed, the Gnome King could be heard, declaring his love.

They were victorious and finally discovered what had been done to the Starwhal. Inquisitor Abraham used his Mind-speaking powers and Clayton cast Tongues. They got some of the story in crazed images, as the starwhal was totally insane at first, but they killed her, then raised her and Healed her in order to get the full story…

… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
She had been near to the time of birthing, when an ancient star ship had chased her in the Chaos Sea. This was a craft like a thing out of legend [GM: they realised it was the God, Torkas’ ship, when he escaped from Jade about 8 years before]. Torkas harpooned her and she dragged the ship through an asteroid field, smashing it almost to pieces [GM: clearly Torkas is no so powerful now he is outside Jade!].

Eventually she weakened and the remnants of the crew and the Captain (a 10-foot tall viking) managed to reel her in.

For several minutes, Torkas just looked at her, his arm drawn back with a lightning spear crackling in his hand. She heard his voice in her head, saying something like – “You led us a fine chase, but now it is over, noble beast”. She spoke back, begging him to spare her child and saw the look of shock on his face. He dropped his arm and reached forward to lay his hand on her swollen belly. At that moment , three Vorandan War Ships un-cloaked and blasted the whaler’s ship to bits with cannon fire! They captured the Starwhal and the whaler captain but killed all the winged crew [GM: Valkyries].

She was then killed by some necromantic spell cast by one of the Vorandans.

She doesn’t know what happened to Torkas. She awoke to find she had been raised from the dead by Bu’Tross the Arch-Vampire and high priest of Voranda. She had been torn to pieces (in order to get her inside the Shipyard Foundry) and then stitched back together at the very edge of life. For a moment she was relieved to find her child lived too.

She had her baby ripped from her and she died again as they dragged it out and slaughtered the helpless creature, ripping out its bones and heart.

Then she was regenerated back to life (restoring her child too!). This seems to have involved some necromantic spell cast by Bu’Tross and then repeated lightning strikes from the dragon’s breath to regenerate her and her child.

Every three days for the last 7 years, she has gone through the pain of childbirth and death!
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …

They stayed there another day so Abe could rest and re-learn spells, but the Shipyards were clearly used to the sounds of lightning coming from the hill.

There was some strange, jewelled boulder that prevented scrying and teleporting, but they dragged it away from the starwhal and the hangar was just big enough that its 100ft diameter effect could be avoided.

Using Abraham’s Planeshift spell, they managed to teleport away into the wasteland and let her re-join her Father (in high Orbit above Voranda Prime).

They also recovered some treasure from the Dragon’s hoard…
A ring of Shooting Stars.
A potion of Superior Healing
A Belt of Etherealness
A Rod of Security (a mega-powerful item!)

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Spelljammer 23 and 24 - Voranda Prime
Planet of the Red Sun

The Rebel Base

Deckard is able to describe the underground bunker of the Vorandan Resistance to Inquisitor Abraham. Abe uses his telepathic power to see it in the dwarf’s mind. The image is clear enough (Deckard spent much of his childhood there!) so they can Plane Shift directly to it.

The Bunker is covered by a Private Sanctuary spell so you can only travel to it if you know the secret password. It has no physical entrance.

The heroes arrive in the Teleportation Circle in one of the bunker’s larger chambers. Things do not look good – there are bloodstains everywhere and two guards – Vorandan Knights with glowing red tattoos of Pyruss the sun god. Their eyes go red with fury and they leap to the attack – stronger, quicker and tougher (they regenerate!).

By luck and skill, the two Knights are killed before they remember to raise the alarm. The Vorandan troops are clearly insane – explains that one section of this room used to be a low cage where they kept a litter of puppies – all that remains are torn and bloody shreds.

In the silence following the fight, they hear a thud (maybe a slap) and a grunt of pain – Deckard recognises his mother’s voice. They creep out into the tunnels and find that the cells, where they once held prisoners, have been boarded-up. His mother’s sobs are coming from behind the boards – there is another way in, beyond a portcullis, further into the bunker.

Ignoring the urgent cries, Mulan and Deckard sneak forward to scout. The tunnels are being patrolled by a couple more Knights, marching up and down. They time the pattern and sneak past. Mulan sees into some conference rooms where there appear to be skulls on the tables with candles inside. Just in time she notices these are actually Flameskulls – floating undead, capable of hurling fireballs and shooting beams of flame from their eyes.

Our heroes spring an ambush, killing three of the four flameskulls before they even get to use their fireball spells. The rest of the Vorandans and the remaining Flameskull are soon slaughtered.

In the prison cells, they find one last Vorandan, torturing a middle-aged female dwarf (Deckard’s mother) and they soon finish him off.

Rachel explains that the Vorandans must have somehow learned the secret password and teleported in a few weeks ago. Fortunately a couple of days before the attack, the Rebel Leaders from all the cells (including her husband) had been summoned to the Manor of K’Rakus, the wizard whose message said he had found a way to reverse the Red Sun.

They could either go to the Manor to try and find out more, or go straight to the Palace of the Arch Priest Bu’Tross who is the evil mastermind behind the Red Sun. They decided to go to K’Rakus Manor – as soon as Abraham gets a long rest, to enable him to cast Plane Shift again.

K’Rakus Manor

Perhaps it was no surprise, but K’Rakus Manor, on the outskirts of the capital city on Vorandan Prime, has also fallen to the Evil Empire.

In the courtyard, where they arrive, they see for the first time the oppressive red sunlight – the sky seems streaked with blood.

Deckard’s father steps out from behind a bush – a short middle-aged dwarf with hugely-muscled arms. Rachel runs to embrace him but Deckard pushes her behind him and his voice cracks as he says. “Look at his arms mum, the tattoos! He’s one of them…”

Harrison’s arms are indeed glowing with newly drawn tattoos and his eyes glitter with fury as he pulls a machete and hacks at his horrified son. His other hand swipes across Deckard’s face and they see that the nails have grown into talons. Where they scratch, the wound darkens and fills with blood and the victim feels some of his life-force being temporarily drained [GM:the damage comes off the victim’s max hp]

The insane dwarf (Harrison, not Deckard) raises the alarm and soon the elderly Wizard, K’Rakus opens his front door to look out. They first try to reason with him – Rurick even picks him up and puts him down in the little herb garden in the courtyard – but they don’t immediately attack him.

This turns out to be a bad move, as K’Rakus smiles and tries to cast Dominate Person on the red orc warrior, pointing at Abraham and telling him “Kill that Priest”. Rurick’s eyes begin to glaze over, but he snaps out of it [GM:his high-level fighter ability giving him a second save].

K’Rakus touches an emblem on his velvet robe and vanishes, teleporting (misty step) back inside the building. Three more Vorandan Knights are in the building and rush into battle.
Abraham firestorms the building, killing a couple of the knights and setting the manor on fire. Mulan leaps through a bedroom window and chases K’Rakus.

Outside in the courtyard Clayton, Deckard and Rachel manage to take down Harrison, but not before he manages to slash Rachel, almost killing her and starts biting her neck (seeming to regain strength from drinking her blood). They manage to kill him (further traumatising Deckard) and prevent Rachel from bleeding to death. Just as Abraham finally understands the true nature of the enemy, Mulan is inside with K’Rakus, realising it for herself!

The plucky rogue uses an alter self spell to disguise herself as one of the remaining Vorandans, hoping to trick K’Rakus. As she follows him into an inner room, the wizard has cast mirror image on himself and she sees the firelight flickering off the extended canine teeth of the various images.

She cunningly says something like “I heard them say they know how to end the red sun, they can’t do that can they?”.
The Vampire K’Rakus says “Not while Prince G’Vrain remains dead”.
Confused, Mulan says “But he is dead isn’t he?” And this seems to warn the wizard that he’s been tricked.

There is a fight in the burning building with the Vampire being forced to turn himself into smoke and hide in the real smoke. Eventually he re-forms in the courtyard and, before he can obliterate the heroes there, Rurick rushes him and hacks him almost into pieces and the others manage to finish him off.

Now that they realise the enemy are actually Vampires, Abe knows how to permanently kill K’Rakus – they make sure the coffin in one of the other rooms is burnedntoo. It seems the red tattoos are turning the people of Voranda into Vampire Spawn, which finally explains their increased physical abilities, regeneration and fearless fury.

From beyond the Manor’s front gates they hear (and see) hundreds more tatooed citizens rushing toward the burning manor. In a weird role reversal, a horde of vampire townsfolk with pitchforks are clamouring outside the burning manor while our heroes are trapped inside!

Deckard unlocks a back gate and they run out into the sunlight-starved, withered farmlands around the city, using Clayton’s pass without trace spell to throw off pursuit. They have to wait another long rest for Abe to be able to Plane Shift them to the Palace, but at least they now know what to expect there – Vampires, in a world where the sunlight doesn’t harm them!

While waiting for his spells to return, Abraham is contacted by a booming telepathic voice – a Sending Spell.

MINDSPEAKERTHE VOYAGERS ARE READY TO AID YOU IN ANY BATTLE ABOVE THE GROUNDNIF YOU WILL TO DELIVER OUR DAUGHTER FROM HER TORMENT BELOW THE GROUND…

They realise the Voyagers is the name the Star Whales give themselves – the trapped Starwhal Paladin they “released” from the Lich Queen’s palace had been called “Eternal Voyager”.
A month ago, Abe told one of the Starwhals to come and investigate Vorandan Prime, because Deckard had seen hundreds of slaughtered (filleted) corpses of baby whales in fields near the city docks.

Abe guesses that the “daughter” must refer to a trapped female starwhal being held in a dungeon near the docks who is somehow being forced to produce babies. The bones of Starwhals are a key component in making Spelljammer helms and ships, so this explains how Voranda manages to have rapidly built a fleet in the last few years.

Abe replies to the Sending “I swear it” and receives a telepathic link to the Starwhal leader – another Paladin and knows he can use it too summon the “fleet” of Starwhals currently in high orbit above the city.

They could now either go to the Palace, or go and try to rescue the trapped Starwhal from the docks.

Just to be clear, this is a Palace run by Vampires, at least one of whom is a high level Priest (higher than Abe) in a city teeming with hundreds of Vampire Spawn on a planet where the Red Sun means the vampires have no obvious weaknesses. They also have a few Vorandan Starships floating overhead. The key location of the Red Sun magic appears to be a high open-topped tower, rising above the city and Palace, where they have been told the ritual sacrifice of Prince G’Vrain took place, triggering the Red Sun.
Branding or Tattooing somebody with the symbol of Pyruss (the sun god of Voranda) seems to trigger the instant conversion into a Vampire Spawn, loyal to the Arch Priest Bu’Tross.

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Spelljammer 22 - Neogi off the starboard bow!

They had returned to the ship, said their farewells to General Zetchr’r and made ready to sail on.

Jock decided to accompany the General back to Tunarrath, city of the Githyanki. His master, the Lich Arghul Norrimass, had commanded him to investigate this “dead god and the Lich Queen’s scheme to transform into a god!”.

Deckard, after crawling naked from the bag of holding, explained to them that, while he was dead, he had spoken with the spirit of the Dead God and received his blessing for getting rid of the Book of Vile Darkness. This blessing seems to have made him more confident and charismatic, granted his words the effect of the Inspiring Leader feat and also enables him to cast Healing Word three times per day (replenishes after a Long rest).

As a result of their recent experiences, Inquisitor Abraham realised he had now got access to more powerful divine magic, including a spell called Plane Shift, that can take him and 8 companions almost anywhere instantly!

Skizz, the goblin warlock/engineer was still working on the ship, reconnecting magical conduits between the Helm and the embedded starwhal bones. He should have restored enough speed in a few days to make them equivalent to a MEDIUM ship but to go faster, or to get the ship’s handling sorted out will require more crew to manage the rigging.
Before Skizz had finished reconnecting (while any ship manoeuvring would be risky), a huge ship was seen passing by.

octopus_spelljammer.png

It was shaped like a monstrous wooden octopus, perhaps 5 times larger than the Hammership. It seemed to have been in a recent battle as many of the forward tentacles seemed damaged. It was towing an even more badly damaged Vorandan Warship.

vorandan_warship_1.png

They had the chance to turn and head back through the Chaos Portal, but decided to set a collision course and ram!

Rurick scanned the oncoming leviathan through his spyglass and saw it was full of Neogi – small creatures, a cross between spiders and moray eels.

neogi.jpg

These things had mind-control powers and each one seemed to be carried by some sort of larger monster – Umber Hulks (large humanoid insects), Manticores (winged lion-headed scorpions) and the captain was carried by some sort of Oni (Japanese ogre with magical powers) – as well as the Neogi and their carriers, there were lots of human and orc crew running about.

There was an exchange of long-range fire – Clayton risked double-shotting the cannons and scored a hit on the enemy captain’s deck. The Neogi ship flung some odd-looking magical artefact and after a couple of near misses, managed to land one on the deck. The next round creatures began to materialise next to the artefact – two Umberhulks carrying their Neogi masters and one Manticore with a Neogi in a saddle.

The fight was on!

Abraham managed to guide the damaged Hammership through the wooden arms of the Octopus, jamming the ramming horn deep into the wreckage. The impact catapulted Mulan (invisible) aboard the enemy ship. [GM: Sadly I forgot the Umberhulks had tremorsense and she managed to make her way undetected to the Oni and the Neogi Captain].

Each round more monsters teleported to the Hammership until Mulan shot the Captain through the brain, breaking his concentration on the spell. His Oni slave tried to shield him and he did manage to cast another spell, missing the stealthy rogue, before she shot him again and finished him.

On the ship the umberhulks proved tricky to fight as they had to look away from their glittering multi-faceted eyes or become confused. The Neogi all seemed to be spellcasters and unleashed Hunger of Hadar.

Clayton met this with his Spirit Guardians while Abraham blasted the enemy ship with a Firestorm, setting it ablaze (and almost killing the invisible Mulan!). She got a message back and the Inquisitor began withdrawing the ship’s ram. Deckard protected the Inquisitor while he concentrated on steering the ship – only just managing to do it without blowing-up Skizz’s jury-rigged controls.

The enemy crew were fully occupied fighting the fires. The Oni suddenly seemed to shake himself out of his mental confusion and shouted that he was taking over and they should disengage and retreat. He managed to bully the remaining Neogi into accepting his leadership and the two ships drifted apart.

Mulan managed to disconnect the captured Vornadan Warship and the Octopus ship fled.
Back on board Clayton, Rurick and Deckard managed to kill the last of the attackers, but not before one of them killed Magnus Hammerhand – recently returned Red Orc Priest of Torkas.

Abraham’s revivify spell restored Magnus to life just in time.

They have now got the abandoned Warship which they can scavenge for supplies.

There are three captured, chained-up Vorandans – humans, covered with magcal tattoos of the sun god, infected with the berserker madness. It looks like they have been interrogated by the Neogi but the magic of their tattoos means that they regenerate.

Abraham manages to read their minds a little and between the mindless rage and hatred, learns that this ship “Blazing Pride of Battle” was one of three that was bringing a “Fire Seed” to the nearby Scro system “Scrovania”. It was their intention to drop the Fire Seed into the Scrovanian sun, turning it red and spreading the power of the Red Sun madness. They have branding irons aboard that look like they would burn the Pryuss symbol and were going to brand all captives to expand their armies. The other two ships had continued on to Scrovania, leaving the Pride to delay the Neogi. They were a week away from Scrovania (approaching it from the unprotected Portal).

local_space.png

Distances shown in Weeks for a FAST Ship in a good “Flow”. Normal ships take TWICE as long. Slow ships take FOUR TIMES as long.
Distance FAST (without a FLOW) 1 (week) 7 days (70 days)
MEDIUM (without a FLOW) 14 days (140 days)
SLOW (without a FLOW) 28 days (280 days)

After much debate, they decided that the three main options for them were…
1) Ignore the interstellar war they triggered and sail on to find Torkas. They now have enough materials to do their own repairs in about a week.
2) Head to Scrovania and try to stop the Vorandans from triggering the Red Sun there. They might be able to get repaired by Scro and even pick up some additional Red Orc crew.
3) Planeshift back to Voranda Prime and defeat the mad High Priest behind the whole Red Sun plot. They should be able to Planeshift back to the ship as long as it hasn’t moved.

They have chosen option 3 so will be heading to Deckard’s homeworld, hopefully to a stronghold of the Resistance.

What they know of Voranda…

Single Human culture – worshippers of Pyruss, god of Fire and the Sun.
There are Dwarves – maybe 1% of the population, most living in the underdark – even the allied clans are second-class citizens.

Prince G’Vrain’s father, R’Treel, King of Vorander is very old and came to increasingly rely on his First Minister Bu’Tross, making him Lord Protector about 8 years ago. The Lord Protector was a high priest of Pyruss who decided to close the borders of Vorander 5 years ago to avoid getting dragged into the war between the Elves and Scro. Once the borders were closed – the regime became more and more severe – executing people who tried to communicate with the worlds beyond and spreading the belief that all outsiders are Infidels who will burn in hell.

Prince G’Vrain led a faction “The resistance” that opposed this isolationism. G’Vrain needed the help of the Dwarves and so made promises of equal rights once he had been placed on the throne.

With G’Vrain dead and the Lord Protector Bu’Tross in charge with his fanatic regenerating troops, Deckard is worried that the Resistance will have collapsed.

Possible locations they could Plane-shift to…
a) Secret underground base of the resistance – used for meetings ? Has teleportation circle so you can get to homes of some other Rebel Leaders
b) Manor House of K’Rakas (G’Vrain’s old tutor – a powerful wizard who was in fact the Prince’s trusted advisor and secret leader of the Rebel forces)? The Manor House is on the outskirts of the Capital City.

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The Lich-Queen’s End
DEATH OF TWO HEROES

Planning where to fight – they were unsure whether to attack her in her Throne Room (later learning why that would have been a terrible idea! Or to let her come to them in the Blood Chamber (also a bad idea as she would have been able to collect her army of 666 ghouls on the way!. Finally they decided on the massive chamber containing the corpse of the Starwhal. Theyremembered to remove all the other corpses from this room – so Vlaakith wouldn’t be able to animate them.

Sacrifice of Deckard (nat 20 on Will Save to avoid being possessed by the Book – rolled in the open!) The first HERO to die this night.
Clayton promised to scatter his ashes on Mt Arkin. Diabalo disintegrated his body into fine dust and Clayton scooped it (LOOSE!) into his bag of holding.
The destruction of the book stripped away half of Vlaakith’s hit points and removed all her 9th, 8th and 7th level spell slots, and reduced her spell save to only 17 (instead of 21). It also woke her up from her slumber in one of the Palace’s dream pods. Furious, she and her servants raced from the throne room.

The Red Dragon – wingless and unintelligent, but adult and nasty
Gaston – ditto
The Lich Queen – unknown to our heroes went invisible and then TK flew into the room a couple of rounds into the combat.

Clayton, Mulan and Abraham hit the dragon with arrows and spells from the Staff of Power while Rurick kept it bottled-up in the doorway. The creature’s toughness protected it from most of the beholder’s attacks.

Gaston charged in and engaged Rurick too.

They managed to do massive damage to. the dragon and in desperation it breathed fire, catching most of them (and accidentally hitting Gaston – well I say accidentally, it did know him, so who can really tell!). The breath weapon destroyed all three of Abe’s skeletal warriors.

Rurick used everything he had (all his superiority dice and his action surge) and just managed to finish the dragon and then he and Clayton almost finished Gaston.

Mulan managed to Phantasmal Force Gaston (with a handful of hit points left) and did 1d6 psychic damage with a hallucination of herself offering him a passionate embrace and then being horrifically killed just before they could kiss. The HERO of his own story, died screaming.

The Lich Queen, finally working out where Mulan was hiding – inside the mouth of the starwhal corpse. Managed to cast a Cloudkill so it caught her and Abraham, the damage almost killed them both, but Abe managed to Heal himself and Mulan skulked back into the Narwhal’s mouth.

The beholder blasted Vlaakith with three beams, forcing her to use all three of her legendary saves in a single round. In desperation, she tried to disintegrate the beholder, but Diabalo fluked his saving throw and managed to glare at her with his Anti-Magic eye beam. Unable to cast more spells or benefit from her magical protections, she was hit by all of them and finished off by Mulan diving past her and firing both her flintlock pistols. The first one took her down, but she was death-warded and only the fact that Mulan hit her again with the second shot, tuly finished her off. It would have been her turn next and she was going to offer Diabalo a pact if he turned on the others.

In the immediate aftermath, it seemed Vlaakith had been too furious and too confident (probably because of Gaston telling her how feeble his old companions/“servants” were without him!) so she had not raised a general alarm and other troops had not been called-in.

They had time to search other chambers and rescued Magnus Hammerhand and three more of their original red orc crew. Vlaakith had kept them alive (although exhausted) to become enthralled crew for her when she captured the “Hammer of Torkas”. It appears Gaston had thrown in with her immediately to avoid torture in the Willgrinder. He had become her plaything and hated his former companions for failing to come rescue him. He told Vlaakith everything about the Ship.

They moved the weary captives into the Entry Chamber while Diabalo blasted the Wilgrinder over and over with his disintegrate ray, until it was destroyed.
They broke into the side chamber they had seen earlier and killed the baby red dragon in there and stole its treasure – mostly just gold and jewellery worth 20K. There was also a puzzle box with a carved feather on each side – but they didn’t have time to examine it.

Then they broke into the Throne Room – apparently safe. It was a huge chamber, with three massive pillars of glistening black. Behind the ornate throne were 8 massive chests.
Mulan did some magic detecting and found 4 glyphs on the throne room armrests, the pillars were magical and each chest was magical. The glyphs had to be touched to trigger them so Clayton sat in the throne while Abe drew a sketch of him as a souvenir.

Then Mulan got the beholder to Anti-magic the first chest and tried to unlock it. The moment she touched it, the three black pillars collapsed into massive Elder Vile Black Puddings (their damage would be permanent unless healed in a Hallowed area).

Seeing how dangerous the three monsters were – 360hp each – and how much permanent damage they could do, our heroes fled out of the room. Due to unlucky positioning, Diablo was the nearest target and got mobbed by the monsters and grappled. To add to the beholder’s misery, Abraham used the Staff of Power to seal him in the room with a wall of force and then made obscene gestures at their trapped former ally.

For a moment it looked like a bad idea, as the anti-magic eye swept over the wall, blinking it out and three deadly eyebeams lashed out at him…
But the insane beholder, true to form, wasted his last actions as the magical eyebeams failed to work in his anti-magic cone and the three black puddings engulfed him and dissolved him.

Then they fled through the halls, pursued by the slow-moving monsters, gradually killing them with ranged attacks. This took so long (and they no longer had anti-magic) that they agreed mot to try stealing from the Queen’s chests (good decision as many were trapped with Symbols of Pain and Death and others had Cerebral Mould Spoors – but the actual treasures in there would have been phenomenal)

Their final act was for Abraham to mentally contact the Starwhal and convince it that it was truly dead and to stop “flying through space”. When the creature stopped flying, the entire palace began to fall the mile and ahalf down to the githyanki city ot Tunarrath, far below. They just managed to make it back through the tumbling palace to the Entry Chamber (only place you could teleport from) and activated the Torc of Teleportation, returning them all to the deck of their ship.

General Zetchr’r was there to greet them – they had only been away a few hours (time ran faster in Tunnarath so it had seemed like many months for gaston and the other captives).

Zetchr’r thanked them for toppling the Queen and promised them that the new rulers of Tunnarath would not pursue the Ship. He didn’t even seem to mind when Mulan told him they had crashed the palace into the centre of the city – apparently, the ring below the palace was occupied by the Queen’s most loyal supporters (including most of the hated half-draconic githyanki hybrids – the Dukka-gith).

Abraham can Hallow a section of the Ship and use it to heal the Vile damage done to Mulan and Rurick and they decided to continue their quest to find the god of storms, Torkas.
Everyone goes up a level and everyone gets Inspiration.

Coughing and wriggling from the bag of holding, caught Clayton’s attention and he cautiously opened it. The Voranndan dwarf, Deckard, back from the dead, clambered out. His eyes now glitter with silver flecks and he spoke with the Dead God who had been impressed with his self sacrifice and grateful that they had destroyed the corrupted heart (the Palace itself was the Dead God’s Heart – corrupted by the presence of Vlaakith’s Vile Book).

No game this Wednesday due to Holidays.

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Spelljammer 20 - book of vile darkness

Mulan ripped herself out of the grasping tapestry and clambered back down from the grille. After a desperate struggle with the vile thing, they discovered radiant damage was twice as effective and managed to kill it before it could drain any more permanent life.

They decided to take a long rest (as this was the first place in the palace where resting was possible, due to the influence of the dead god’s blood).
They were briefly disturbed by a wandering Githyanki Wraith who damaged the Beholder and destroyed the three Skeletal Warriors.

Abraham worked out from his religious training, that the permanent damage done to Mulan might be healed, if they were in a church or hallowed ground. He can cast the Hallow spell but would need another long rest before he could swap his miracles.

They all took a drink of the dead god’s blood and were empowered – gaining 2 attribute points.
They decided to not try and take a second draught.

After the long rest, Abraham (whose wisdom is now 24!) discovered he could fly by an effort of will. Soon the others were doing it too – all except for Deckard whose will seemed to be too weak.

They pressed on into exploring the “empty” room. It had tiles ( the same size as the completed Key they have collected).

Mulan was lifted up by the Beholder’s telekinesis to investigate. It was a tiled room with Infernal glyphs all over the place. Abraham the Inquisitor can understand Infernal and was able to translate it. It was some sort of riddle requiring the right tiles to be pressed in the right order.

Clayton got it wrong and was instantly killed by the backlash of necrotic power from the tile!

They were able to revivify him using one of Abe’s spells. Even being dead for less than a minute had seemed like days of torture with his spirit trapped in the Palace walls.

They managed to work out the right sequence (almost just one minor mistak but Deckard saved to half the 100 hp of damage and was able to carry on eventually Deckard managed to key it in and one of the tiles began to glow. He touched it and the spell backlash nearly killed him too before they remembered the Key and placed that on the glowing tile.

A magical book – looking like the Book of Vile Darkness but with the Githyanki Lich Queen’s face on it, appeared floating next to Deckard. It seemed to call to all of them, promising great power to the first person to touch it.

Before anyone could stop him, Deckard, aided by Rurick, touched the book and power and knowledge flooded into him.
He now counts as Attuned to it (although somehow Vlaakith is attuned to it too as the Primary User).

The book revealed Vlaakith’s Plan (in that initial moment of insight the character could have chosen between that knowledge or “Knowing the nature of the Gods of Jade” or “Understanding the Red Stars” (the evil magic fuelling the interstellar war). [GM: that flash of insight is a one-off ability for the first person only.]

The Book is Vlaakith’s phylactery and its influence corrupts all around it.
It will take centuries to convert the dead god’s power to evil and grant control over it to Vlaakith – at which point she will become a goddess herself.
While the Book exists, she cannot be killed.
If it is destroyed, she will be greatly weakened (losing access to spells of levels 8 & 9 and reducing her hit points) and she won’t be able to respawn.
The book can only be destroyed by its current Attuned person declaring that they wish to sacrifice themselves for that purpose – this is the True Death (no revivify, raise dead, resurrection, reincarnation etc) [GM: I don’t think I made that very clear at the time, but the point of this is to be willing to give up the character in order to give the others the chance to defeat Vlaakith. It is a no le deed anyway as it will prevent Vlaakith from corrupting the remnant of the dead god and achieving godhood]

While the book exists the attuned secondary person can give up their attunement to allow another to attune.

The attuned person can cast…
Dissonant Whispers as a cantrip.
Arms of Hadar once per short rest (it is the book that needs the rest)
Hunger of Hador once per long rest (it is the book that needs the rest)
Each time they kill a person with one of the spells or the Cantrip, the level at which they cast the spells becomes higher (up to 9th)
Each time Arms and Hunger fail to kill a person, their effective level falls (down to the minimum level for the casting)
The spellbook enables an attuned spellcaster to concentrate on TWO CONCENTRATION SPELLS at the same time but gives disadvantage on Concentration checks if you try to hold onto more than one spell.

For an existing spellcaster, you also Know additional spells that you can cast with your existing spell slots…
Arms of hadar
Hunger of hadar
Animate dead
Create undead
Blight

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