Dragons of Blackminster

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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Spelljammer 18 - Tentacles

After a tough fight with the githyanki zombies our heroes were victorious.
Ruruck sent his new familiar to investigate the upper tunnel but they heard a frightened squeak, then Mephistophalix was silent and didn’t return.

Before they could rest, long tentacles began to emerge from the tunnels ahead and above. The tentacles grappled and would have dragged the victims away, but each time somebody was grabbed, they managed to hack off the tentacle before it could reel the victim in.
Spririt guardians (cast be Clayton) proved to be the perfect defence as the tentacles regenerated each round, but were killed before they could do any harm.

Eventually they got close enough to the three Ropers to kill them.

The Ropers were growing out of a chamber where the dripping and pulsing blood seemed to be concentrated. Inside the chamber isa statue of the Dead God (on whose massive corpse thecity of the Githyanki is built and in whose floating heart the palace is built.

The upper tunnels are peaceful and free from the hideous whispers felt everywhere else in the palace.

Nb. They had learned more from Mephistophalix about the sleeping pods in some of the earlier chambers. These allow resting and healing. When the Lich Queen had been torturing the imp, she had put him in one of the pods so he couldn’t die.
It seems the Dead God might still be faintly alive and that Vlaakith, the Lich Queen is somehow using his blood to power her healing pods (and the whole magical palace).

Also in the blood pool chamber are two grills in the ceiling where the blood seeps down. Peering up they could see the right hand room holds mounds of glittering treasure while the other chamber is empty. There are massive ornate locks on both grills.

Despite having learned earlier that the Lich Queen’s phylactery is to be found in “an empty room in the ceiling’ Mulan was unable to resist getting into the treasure room. Diabalp, the Beholder disintegrated the grill and mulan climbed up to peer imside. She was immediately engulfed by a hideous, ornate carpet that seems to have drained her lifeforce! [doing PERMANENT hitpoin draining]

The treasure is clearly an illusion as the body of the undead tapestry moves through it as though it was a hologram.

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Spelljammer #17 - Blood of the Dead God

Our heroes came up with an excellent plan using more of the exploding terracotta warriors to defeat the two demons.
Rurick made a pact with the Imp – Mephistophelix – however, he didn’t give it any instructions, so it acted on its nature and backstabbed Clayton with its poisoned sting. In retaliation, the ranger/cleric slaughtered the imp – the last part of the key fell to the floor. The Imp’s spirit was drawn into the Palace Walls to join the tortured souls trapped there – until Rurick decides to spend an hour chanting his name to re-form him. The Imp will be obedient, but is an evil creature (a devil!).

There was some magical treasure in the iron chests within the Demons’ binding circles – Diabalo the Beholder demanded a magical Tome that grants the abikity to cast 3 additional Cantrips (from any class spell list).

They push on through another Zombie door at the back of the chamber of Terracotta Warriors into some windy passages where the walls are filled with veins of red. They notice tht the level of light emitted by the walls is slowly pulsating. It brightens slightly behind them and then the area of brightness slowly creeps forward, growing slightly darker behind them.

This appears to be a “pulse” and the Heart of the Dead God must still somehow be beating.

They follow round a few twists of the tunnel and more and more veins seem to be coming together.

When they pass through a wider section, Abraham notices a slight breeze – warm air is rising into the ceiling. Mulan want a boost up too reach the ceiling and the Beholder lifts her with telekinesis. The ceiling is an illusion and there is indeed a hole about 20 feet up, then a 10 foot section of vertical tunnel to a chamber above. She pushes her arms through the illusion and is grabbed and tugged upwards out of sight.

Unseen by the others, she has been grabbed by one of two floating Githyanki Zombies – the super-tough undead warriors they fought earlier. Diabalo shone his anti-magic cone up at the ceiling so they could see up there. Mulan wriggled free and fled further along the upper corridor where the veins seemed to plunge downwards (probably into a room about 120ft further on from where the others were. It looks like the pulsing light is oozing through the rock back down into the lower level. Mulan realises that up here, for the first time since entering the Palace (except for in the Skin tunnel of writhing ghouls!) she can’t hear the whispering of the trapped souls and it even feels GOOD – maybe even restful!

Deckard threw a grapple up there and Rurick started up the rope. The two levitating zombies drifted down to attack him – (held aloft by their Psionic powers – so unaffected by the anti-magic). As he was clinging to a rope, they creatures had advantage and hacked at him twice each – all hitting!

[that’s where we had to stop for the session – Rurick is about three-quarters dead after that single round and still dangling from a rope – 20ft up. Mulan is about 60ft along the upper tunnel. One of the zombies is about half damaged – only Abraham is still to act in this round, then back to the top – Clayton and his Skeletal Warrior. Deckard, Mulan and her Skeletal Warrior, Rurick and his Skeletal Warrior, Githyanki Zombies, Beholder, Abraham].

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Spelljammer 16 - Symbol of Pain

[GM:one player returns and another can’t make it]
Among the treasures found in the belly of the whale is a full length mirror. It was embedded in the stomach lining, and Deckard touched it before he realised what it was. Rurick, the red orc warrior fell out of the glass as Deckard vanished inside. Rurick had experienced no passage of time, so was confused by the change of surroundings.

They found a lot of money and jewels, and a magical bag that Clayton had to attune to in order to get at the contents. It was a bag of holding and contained a pair of tiny statuettes of golden lions.

They risked taking a long rest with Diabalo the Beholder keeping watch in the hall of corpses.
There was no way to get Deckard back until they could find another creature to touch the mirror.

They went back through the undulating membrane tunnel, with hundreds of ghouls and zombies pressing on the skin. From the chamber beyond they decided to enter the room with the terracotta army of githyanki surrounding a draconic sarcophagus, with huge red wings folded over the box.

Diabalo used his anti-magic ray to prevent the enchanted statues from doing anything and one by one they moved them out of the way. Mulan squeezed through and examined the sarcophagus itself and realised it would need its magic to open and there was draconic writing around it which Abraham could read – This was a tomb for the red dragon steed of the original Queen Gith -she and her steed had vanished mysteriously thousands of years back. Not surprisingly the tomb was empty, but when the wings curled back (after commanding them to “Take Flight”, a wraithlike serpentine form reached out and animated the nearest clay zombie. It lurched to the attack and when they struck it, it exploded. They concentrated on the wraith dragon and killed it before it could animate many more. They found more treasure – and another of the four keys.

Then using the anti-magic cone, they piled a few clay soldiers against the door with the Symbol of Pain on it and retired a ‘safe’ distance. The radius of the blast didn’t reach them, but the radius of the Pain Symbol reached everyone except for Diabalo and Clayton!

Abe, Mulan and Rurick spent the next hour writhing in utter agony. The anti-magic beam paused it, but the beholder guessed that they needed to experience the full hour of torment, so flicked it off again with a smile.

The chamber beyond the Pain Door (now blasted open), contained an altar and two magic circles. A vulture-headed demon was trapped in one circle, a toad-like demon in another. On the altar, an up-turned glass covered a 1 inch spider that strained to move it, its eyes and mandibles grotesquely magnified by the glass.

Remembering that they were looking for a ‘tormented devil’, rather than demons, they correctly guessed it was the spider they needed. It became quite chatty with them (via Abe who also knows the Infernal tongue and used a zone of truth spell!

It claims to be an Imp, and offers to bond with any one of them as a familiar if they will release it.
Sadly (for it) Vlaakith made it swallow the fourth key. It can only be retrieved by killing or banishing the Imp. Usually the Imp wouldn’t care, but a property of this Palace is that there is NO ESCAPE! The spirit of anything killed or banished from here is absorbed into the walls for incredible torture. Mulan panics at this and re-summons her familiar Mooshoo, who appears sobbing and terrified.

It appears that touching/moving the glass will release the demons, as will breaking the circles (although that would only release one at a time).

If they don’t make a deal with the imp, or manage to kill it instantly, it will probably go invisible and scuttle away – or transform into something even harder to catch.

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Spelljammer #15 - Eternal Voyager

They tossed the bodies of the two Githyanki Zombie Knights into the small room with the ice-cold mirror. Their red-orc warrior stumbled over a corpse and touched the icy glass. In a flash he was gone and the mirror became a plain mirror. [GM:the player couldn’t make it and this was a convenient way to get him out of the game for a session].

The other two Zombies had fled because of Abraham’s Turning. They would be on the way back already and our heroes were worried that they might raise the alarm and return with reinforcements.

Following tracks down the corridor (in slimy mucus that thinly coats the floor) they followed into a vast chamber with a high-vaulted ceiling. The floor was littered with over a 100 corpses – humans, elves, giithyanki, dwarves, a couple of gith (hippo-men), goblins, orcs and others. Because of the strange time-flow effects of this region (that stop them getting hungry or healing naturally) they couldn’t tell how long the corpses had been dead.

Hanging above them was the corpse of a Starwhal, suspended from the ceiling by four massive chains. The Starwhal was clearly long dead too.

The low-level whispering and sense of being watched seemed much worse in here and Deckard couldn’t shake the creepy feeling – the dead were watching him and commenting on his short-comings.

Above it all they could hear a distant echo of whale song – mournful sighs and howls.

On the far side of the chamber was another one of the organic doors, but this one appeared to be dead and decayed (one of the Zombie Doors they had been told about by General Zetch’rr).

There were grime-covered huge stained glass windows. Mulan scratched a bit clean to peer out and found they were indeed in a floating palace (shaped roughly like a heart) – circling over a city – perhaps half a mile below, filled with twinkling lights. The city was built onto the titanic corpse of a roughly-humanoid creature, mostly around a jagged crater in its chest where the heart had been ripped out. Mulan jumped away from the window when a red dragon swooped by! It didn’t appear to have noticed her.

Mulan climbed a black pillar (like a warped stalactite that reached to the floor) and jumped onto the top of the Starwhal – she hid there waiting for the returning zombies to come back through the undead door.

Deckard hid behind another pillar, also covering the door and Clayton stood in the middle of the room below the whale to draw the zombies to him. Abraham and Diabalo the Beholder, remained in the corridor outside.

Suddenly the undead door snapped open and the two undead Githyanki were there – readied arrows flew at them, some hitting deeply, others clanging off their heavy armour. The two creatures ran at Clayton.

Diabalo, clearly a young and inexperienced beholder, tried a sleep ray first and then a ray of necrotic damage (which seemed to heal it) and finally blasted one with a petrification ray, slowly starting to transform it to stone.

Clayton fought bravely, with his rapier but was out-matched by the two monsters, despite lightning rebuking them when they hit him, and then a wrathful storm surrounding them when he hit [GM: the wrath of the storm let him do max damage]. Under the punishing blows, he collapsed and the zombies moved on to Deckard and towards the beholder.

Abraham used his Heal spell to restore Clayton [GM:70 hit points in one go!]. One of the zombies succumbed to the petrification. Mulan felt safe on top of the suspended whale until the zombie seemed to concentrate for a moment and then levitated up there!

Finally they managed to destroy it.

Abe then used his Awakened Mind ability to mind-link with the starwhal corpse.

It was undead but it believed itself to be alive and plagued by horrible nightmares (glimpses of its real situation). It seemed to be a “Paladin” of its species, on a noble quest. It had been ambushed by the Githyanki and finally defeated by the Queen herself. It believed it was flying through space on an endless voyage. In this room bodies would be piled up for months, then the doors to the south were opened and a horde of ghoulish naked githyanki undead flood out and devour them.

When Abe tried to explain that to the Starwhal that it was now undead and the “flying through space” was a dream, it seemed to panic and suddenly the entire palace jolted as it seemed about to fall from the sky! Clayton warned the inquisitor not to continue – somehow, the Starwhal was “flying” the palace/heart – they made plans to try releasing it from its endless torment when they had completed their task here.

Abraham had to summon his undead Skeletal Warriors so they could open the southern door.
Living minds could not command it to open.
The chamber beyond seemed to be a tunnel of stretched skin, a strong but flexible membrane on floor, walls and ceiling. All around them, pressing in against the skin were the ghouls! They could be heard moaning and seen writhing, trying to break through as Mulan went across the awkwardly tilting floor. The Skeletal Warriors walked across, not drawing as much attention as the living and opened the door at the far end. Within this “meditation” chamber for Queen Vlaakith, the sounds of the hungry ghouls blocks out the whispers of the tormented spirits trapped everywhere else.

The chamber beyond was a short hexagonal hallway. One walll held a large living Door, marked with a Symbol of Pain (deduced by Mulan’s detect magic spell). Diablo suggested he could neutralise the symbol with his anti-magic ray, but that would also negate the magic of the door.

At the other end of the hall it opened up into another vast chamber, this one holding a terracota army of 156 statues of Githyanki surrounding a central sarcophagus.

Further investigation of the hallway discovered a secret door in one of the walls. Working together, Deckard and Mulan managed to get it open.__
The secret door led to a small chamber, floor covered in white bones and an obsidian Sarcophagus The Glyph on the tomb nearly killed Mulan and half-killed Deckard too as they tried to disarm it. It went off casting a maximised BLIGHT spell. Clayton and Abe managed to revive Mulan.

Inside the sarcophagus was a regal-looking male Githyanki clad in golden helm, breastplate and bracers shaped like coiled dragons. The helm had a jagged triangle of dull grey metal stuck into it – like a torn-off quarter of a square, 18” across.

Abe used speak with dead…
Where is the phylactery ? In an empty room
Where is the room? Through the ceiling
What does the phylactery look like – don’t know – “I’m only the keeper of one of the four parts to the key”
Where are the other parts of the key? Where the statues gaze upon Gith, Within the Eternal Voyager, Where the Devil is Tormented.

They decide the “Eternal Voyager” must be the dead star-whale. Deckard climbed inside the Starwhal (through the rear entrance!) and squirmed along the twisting passage into the inner stomach. There he was attacked by another Zombie Knight who chased him out through the gullet and mouth. There was treasure inside there but he didn’t have time to examine it.

Mulan had to dangle upside down from the horn to see into the mouth to shoot the zombie. Deckard leapt away from the Knight and she trapezed him onto the horn’s tip. Then the knight tried to stamp on her fingers to shake her off the horn.

Clayton and Abe shot it and then Diablo finished it off with his petrification ray and Mulan pushed the statue off with one finger so it shattered on the floor below.

Inside the belly of the whale they will find various treasures including a second triangle of dull-grey metal.

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Spelljammer #14 - General Zetch'rr of the Githyanki

Warns them that the Lich Queen – Vlaakith – has decided she wants to capture their ship and learn its secrets, then copy it and make a fleet to invade lots of Prime Material Worlds. She is insane and wants to make herself into a God – seems to think this needs huge numbers of sacrifices and conquered worshippers. She has heard from the captives – Gaston and Magnus Ironhand and a couple of other Red-Orcs – that this is the fastest ship in space! Their spirits have been broken by a device called the “Will-grinder” and they are now Vlaakith’s slaves.

She will continue to send wave after wave of her Githyanki Knights after them in ever-larger numbers.

The_Lich_Queen_Githyanki.png

Zetch’rr has a plan and wants their help. In return for them killing Vlaakith, he will promise to never send any more Githyanki after them and their ship.

As children, all the Githyanki are forced into a ritual of homage to Vlaakith and they give away their right to resist her magic – they cannot oppose her in combat themselves – so Zetch’rr needs outsiders to do this.

There have always been a small number of EMPOWERED servants of the Lich Queens –
Zombie Warriors

Githyanki_zombie.png

and Wraith Warlocks.

Githyanki_Wraith.png

The process used to be done as an “honour” for particularly deserving githyanki. In Vlaakith’s reign this had been imposed on those who offend her in some way – turning them into totally obedient undead servants.

The Githyanki have always had a pact with Red dragons too, and have some beast-like red-dragon steeds for their elite warriors and a few intelligent red-dragon allies.
5 yrs ago Vlaakith learned from Tiamat how to make Dracogith – armoured skin, superior strength, fire breath and fire immunity. The process also left them with fanatic loyalty.
At first it was considered an honour to undergo the process although they have recently proved to lack discipline and cannot fire eldritch blasts and are prone to savage cruelty.

This year, the queen ordered all our females to mate with the Dracogith. eggs have been gathered and taken to hatcheries on the Prime Material plane and it seems they have bred a new race. Now females are ordered to mate only with the Dracogiths.

Vlaakith has finally gone too far for the General (and other senior Githyanki) !!!
The Lich Queen’s palace is the floating heart of a gigantic dead god.
It floats half a mile above the city of Tu’narath (which is built on the rest of the Dead God’s Corpse).

As well as the Zombie Githyanki and Wraith Githyanki spellcasters, the palace also holds a few warlock/priests who already worship Vlaakith as a goddess. The leaders of the sect have been promised Lichdom when she becomes fully divine. This includes her high priest Xam Kras.

Zetch’rr has not seen much of the interior of the palace. Most of the doors are semi-sentient living valves that you open by concentrating and thinking “OPEN”.

ectoplasmic_door.png

There are some other doors that seem like undead versions of the same thing. Zetch’rr was not able to open those, but they apparently open for Vlaakith’s undead servants.

Teleporting anywhere from within the palace redirects to the Entry Chamber except if you are in the Entry Chamber and teleport outside the palace.

He can provide a magical Torc (a sort of horse-shoe-shaped collar).
The Torc is a particularly powerful two-use item (in and out) and SHOULD be able to override the teleport restriction but it would be best to get to the Entry chamber before you try to leave – just in case.

You will need to explore the palace (quite a large area) and find Vlaakith’s phylactery – some item that is the anchor for her spirit. Our oracles are convinced it is within the palace somewhere.
Then when you kill Vlaakith, she will die the True Death – if you have not destroyed her phylactery, she will reform within a few hours.

There is no true flow of time in the region containing Tu’narath – no hunger/thirst, no natural healing. No NEED to sleep but you can to get Short/long rest, but you will get no hit points automatically from resting – you will need to spend hit dice or be magically healed.

The spirits of those broken by the “Will-grinder” are embedded in the walls of the palace and the whispering of them may cause you to become shaken [GM: this happened to Jake’s character – so he has -2 on ALL Rolls]. The whispers become stronger in places and are weakest in the Entry Chamber.

They agreed and were teleported into the Entry Chamber.

After a bit of experimenting with the living door-valves they discovered some chanbers containing pairs of large 8ft by 5ft pods grafted into the walls of the palace. These seemed to hold sleeping (regenerating?) githyanki. In one room they found an empty single pod and a red-dragon wyrmling that was lying on a small pile of gold and jewels. They shut the door before it could attack them and it seemed unable to get out. Each room seems to be totally sound-proofed if the door is shut.

They then found the chamber of the “Will-grinder” and surprised a group of 4 Zombie Githyanki and one Wraith Githyanki who were busy torturing a young beholder (medium-sized) who was trapped inside the Will-grinder.

Abraham managed to turn two of the Zombie-like creatures and they fled from the chamber. The wraith was fortunately killed before it could do too much damage, but it did cast a spell of complete darkness that then damaged the people within it with cold and then acid. The Zombie Githyanki were wearing plate mail and had tough skin and were very resilient.

When they managed to kill the two zombies, the released the Beholder and agreed to a temporary alliance. It wanted to teleport out, but needed them to use the Torc to get him out. They agreed to get him out if he agreed to assist in their fight.

They then explored further, finding a chamber with a cold-radiating mirror – probably some sort of scrying device.

Clayton tracked the turned zombies through a door and into a corridor, found a couple more chambers with pods and a secret door leading back into the Entry chamber (and also having a peephole into the Entry chamber).

They believe the turned zombies ran into the larger portion of the Palace (to the south east) and will be back in about 1 minute!

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Spelljammer #13 - Watchers at the Gate
  1. – Watchers at the Gate

The ship is quickly surrounded by flying Githyanki Knights.
Bloody struggle – our heroes were victorious.
The Red-Orc crewman in particular was heroic – snatching-up a Silver Greatsword to draw their attacks away from Abraham who was helming the ship.
At the end, silver swords gathered-up and discarded tied to the bodies of the slain knights. One Knight plane-shifted away with a few other swords.
After the fight they drifted through the rear-side of the Chaos Portal , emerging into normal space. After a few minutes, their chart worked out where they were and showed they were to the east of the Chaos Sea, a few days (at current speed a few weeks) from their usual emergence point.
Approaching with a hand raised and a white flag was a solitary githyanki knight – clearly a commander of some kind. He asked if he could come aboard to parlay. Seems he had waited to see how they handled the disposal of the swords before deciding to parlay.

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Spelljammer #12 - Black Tendrils

Jock (now a Dwarf) suddenly became possessed by the spirit of Arghul Norrimass (the Lich Priest who is his Warlock Patron). Arghul is displeased with recent events. In life he was High Priest of Torkas and had dedicated 30 years on preparing the Hammership to fly and take him to meet his god.
Arghul’s dry, cracked voice emerged from Jock’s lips while his eyes sparkled with malevolent energy.

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“Three months in space and you have got no nearer to the God! I will bring Jock’s spirit to my realm, for instruction – it will be returned in 3 weeks. He must understand my displeasure and also learn to face what is to come.”

“Meanwhile, because I do not want my ship destroyed, I have a warning for you – Beware ! There are Watchers at the Gate”. They saw an image flash through their minds of the hexagonal Portal, turning slowly in space.

Then Jock’s lifeless body collapsed on the deck.

Inquisitor Abraham immediately cast Revivify on him, dragging him back to life. Jock woke screaming – even that 1 minute of time with his Master had been horrifying.

“Ya crazy Sassenach! Arghul is not going to be happy that you called us awee afore he cud INSTRUCT us!” He swore at everyone and then stomped off to his cabin to sulk.

The ship sailed-on and Skizz the goblin warlock/engineer continued working to fix the damaged connections and restore some speed and agility to the ship.
They gave Skizz the magic carpet to fly around on (as they had left his mechanical fly behind on the Beholder’s asteroid). Slowly the ship began to improve. To enable Skizz to work efficiently, they had to tell him the secrets of the Hammership – its unusual Helm and its mystical Chart/Compass that lets them navigate through Chaos and always points towards the “god” Torkas.

They flew on through a set of massive, randomly-accelerating asteroids, barely managing to navigate past them. A day later, passing through a similar area, three circles of writhing black tendrils appeard on the ship – two on the bottom deck, clawing and grasping at one of the two remaining red orc crewmen and one by the Helm, attacking Abraham and trying to distract him from steering through the asteroid field!

The circles had similar properties to the Black Tendrils spell, but also seemed to be emerging through a hole, linked by a wormhole to a larger circle of tendrils that floated half a mile away in space. The angry red orc, leaped through the tendrils and emerged on the spinning disk of writhing blackness. He struck it again and again with his greataxe. The outer tendrils were spells, but the central disk was some kind of monster and it was wracked with pain from the mighty blows.

On the ship, Abraham became trapped in the tendrils but Deckard and Mulan fought to break him out so he could keep steering. Skizz shot the creature through one of the lower circles, using his eldritch blasts.

Clayton used the ships’ cannon to blast the distant creature (almost killing his red-orc crewman!) and then he and Deckard tried to harpoon it from the ballistas.

Eventually they managed to slaughter the massive creature and Clayton just managed to pluck the red orc from it as they shot past. They cleared the asteroid field and stopped, seeing a cloud of glittering gems in the remains of the monster. Using the little runabout (dragonfly ship) they floated back to collect them. It was hugely risky as the little dragonfly would have been utterly destroyed if struck by one of the asteroids, but they managed to collect the gems which turned out to be the same dark, dark green as the centre of the tendril monster. Perhaps they are its eggs!

A couple of days later (with some of the speed and agility of the Hammer restored) they approached the hexagonal Chaos Portal. As the portal was currently just a black hexagon (not showing the space beyond) they knew this meant there was no other Helm within a mile. They flew towards it until it opened, then swung around to approach from the reverse.
Suddenly a Githyanki Knight, sitting cross-legged on a 2ft diameter silver disk appeared from the shadowy edge of the Portal and sped towards them.

Moments later about a dozen more, each standing on their own silver disk, silver swords raised, swooped towards the ship. These must be the Watchers at the Gate!

[GM: Because of Arghul’s warning, I expected them to send an invisible scout a bit closer, spot the solitary Githyanki and find a way to take him out silently before he could call in the troops…]

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Spelljammer #11 Battle of the Beholders

[GM:They had a plan, a nice simple plan. Now we’ve finished robbing the place, trigger the distraction and then RUN. I will remind you of this later! To give the players some incentive to play the Beholders as ruthless self-centered monsters, I offered an extra level to the character of the player whose Beholder was the last one standing.]

Mulan and Deckard were floating silently on the little magic carpet, with the last of the treasure lying between them. They started less than fifty feet from the exit to the cave and only 150 feet from reaching the ship.

Skizz, their crazy goblin warlock ally, cast dispel magic on the four captive beholders, releasing them from their petrification – in which they had each been trapped by Gravallax the Beholder Lord. Skizz had been enslaved by Gravallax for many years and knew the only chance they had of getting away was to release his captives and hope they could kill him.

As soon as the magic shimmered and faded, the Beholders snapped back into screaming fleshy reality,

Mulan cast invisibility on Skizz and his mechanical fly (because Skizz’s legs have wasted away and he is strapped into the saddle of this clockwork contraption). They need Skizz to complete the repairs on their ship, so are keen to get him out with them. The terrified goblin scuttles out into the tunnel, but then, unseen by the others he slows his mount to a stealthy crawl and directs the fly to crawl up the wall and then along the ceiling, hoping to avoid the notice of the beholders. He knows that Gravallax will see everything within his lair and that the lair itself has eyes and defences, he hopes that his new expendable allies will attract more attention than he does.

Mulan floats the carpet out of site behind a bend in the tunnel and tells Deckard to peek around the corner and keep an eye on things. [GM:Remember that PLAN I mentioned?]

The Beholder SENITNELAV took in the situation at once, he and the other captives had been vaguely aware of each other for the last few decades. Gravallax had used his magical Dreamstone to torment them in nightmares. This had prevented them from fully fading into stone. The torture had knocked out their ability to use their Central Eye and left them with imperfect control over which of their eye beams they could use. [GM: 50% chance they would fire a random eye beam rather than the one they wanted]. Normally any other beholder would be either a slave or a rival and target for instant destruction but Senitnelav muttered that they had better kill Gravallax first and should consider themselves in a temporary truce.

The Beholder CARPACCIO seemed to agree and floated out, blasting an approaching Troll with a Charm ray, totally dominating the creature for the next hour. “Kill Gravallax” he hissed.

THE ULTIMATE BEHOLDER, for that was the only name it allowed, floated free of the chamber next, blasting a second troll with a petrification ray.

Finally the beholder, COPRAPHAGE floated free and joined the fray.

Gravallax approached, enraged by the betrayal of Skizz (apparently fully aware of what was going on throughout his lair). He seemed to radiate a wave of wild magic, much stronger than the one he regularly pulsed every hour. Skizz had protected the heroes from this effect, but the over-dose of the effect threatened to overwhelm his spell. [GM: they got Advantage on the save].

All the people and monsters with some spell-casting ability suffered a kind of magical surge with chaotic effects. Senitnelav swelled up to a huge size, struggling to squeeze through the narrow tunnels. Carpaccio began to exude bubbles, showing his innermost thoughts in a chaotic pattern of random images. Similar chaotic effects plagued the heroes who remained aboard the hammer-ship, waiting for their friends to come running out, so they could cast off and get away to safety.

Then an eyestalk emerged from the floor of the landing pad area. It used a telekinetic eyebeam to trigger the release of the two undead monstrosities in the covered cages. These were zombie-bird-men (half man, half vulture, and all rotten worm-infested corpse). They began squawking and flapping towards the ship.

Clayton fired the first of the forward cannon – for a moment a spark leaped from the gun towards the powder box, but it didn’t blow them to pieces [GM: first roll of the night was a 1, which would cause a black-powder mishap, but Clayton has the Lucky Feat and used it to re-roll!]. The cannon smashed into the first of the flying zombies but amazingly only half killed it. The disbelieving ranger stepped to the next gun and triggered that too, smashing the injured monster to pieces.

The second one flew to the ship and began clawing at Clayton, scattering wriggling infected worms all over the prow. He pulled his rapier to defend himself and ordered the red orcs Staines and Shebb to drag the stoned beholder from the prow and toss it off the back of the ship – if one of the other beholders emerged and flickered its anti-magic across the creature, it would pop back to life and was too dangerous to risk.

Jock, now a gnome because of an unfortunate earlier incident with the wild magic surges managed to fire a ballista into the zombie but it wasn’t as effective as the cannon. He scampered across to the second ballista but before he could fire it, he felt the familiar spasm of wild magic overwhelm him and he died screaming AGAIN. [GM:he will wake in an hour in another new body]

Abraham the Inquisitor was flying the ship and for some reason, decide to float the ship further towards the lair, unknowingly pushing it within the range of the Lair’s eye beam attacks. Soon there were eyestalks popping up all over the place and firing blasts.

In the lair, Mulan and Deckard continued to watch from hiding as the Beholder floated about balsting Gravallax and the Trolls and finally each other! [GM:Reminder – after about 4 rounds they had travelled about 20 feet – either of these rogues could have reached the ship in one round if they had stuck to the PLAN!]

Carpaccio managed to blast Gravallax a couple of times, doing a lot of damage and dragging the monster closer with his telekinesis. One of the magical surges re-activated Carpaccio’s anti-magic central eye, but before he could use it, “The Ultimate Beholder” put him to sleep with an eye beam of his own, fired as an attack of opportunity when Carpaccio moved away.

Copraphage managed to get a few more hits onto Gravallax and then tried to attack one of his fellows too. Senitnelav managed to paralyse “The Ultimate Beholder” and then used telekinesis to smash Copraphage into TUB’s paralysed form before charming him and ordering him to go outside and deal with any threats out there.

Unseen, but just heard, Skizz was blasted by an eye stalk emerging from the ceiling. The invisible goblin was turned to stone, but his mount continued to crawl along the ceiling. Mulan eventually followed and groping about, managed to unstrap invisible Skizz from the invisible fly and carry him to the ship.

Abraham and his Skeletal Warriors managed to finish off the zombie-bird-man before its worms could infect Clayton (which would have turned him into another worm-infested-zombie within moments).

When Copraphage floated out onto the landing pad, Clayton shot him with a massive cannon hit, almost killing him. But then Copraphage managed to dominate him and ordered him to kill Deckard (as the only character close to Clayton on the ship).

[GM: this was an amusing chain of events as Senitnelav and Clayton were played by the same player, so Senitnelav sent his charmed beholder out, knowing that Clayton was ready with another cannon at point blank range. Also Copraphage and Deckard were played by the same player, so Senitnelav (played by Cookie) charmed Copraphage (played by Frank), who then charmed Clayton (played by Cookie) and ordered him to kill Deckard (played by Frank)!]

Not knowing exactly what was going on in there, Abraham sent his two Skeletal Warriors back inside with orders to “Kill Gravallax” and then navigated the ship away from the asteroid.

Sadly, for the Skeletal Warriors of Mortus, Gravallax was killed before they got there and, without further orders they soon fell prey to the victorious Senitnelav who swiftly re-stoned the sleeping, paralysed and charmed beholders and cowed any remaining trolls and goblins into submission.

An hour or so later, Jock returned to life in the body of a mountain dwarf.
The next day, Abraham will be able to dispel the petrification of Skizz and set him about repairing the hammer ship.

Their plan is to exit the Chaos Portal via the other side – going to “god knows where, but it is probably safer than anywhere we’ve already been!”.

Clayton assured Staines and Shebb that he still intends to fly the ship after Torkas – Lord of Storms, but they probably have a few more ordeals to overcome before they are worthy of an audience with the god.

It occurred to them as they floated away with a massive haul of treasure, that they should have brought some of those vials of blood so that they could use the Dreamstone to communicate with Gravallax’s contact on the Rock of Braal to find out whether it had fallen to the attacks of the Vorandan Invasion Fleet.

They left behind two Helms and Starwhal horn and bones on the asteroid – items they had traded with Gravallax in exchange for him helping to fix their ship. There was also the broken helm of Prince G’Vrain’s dragonfly mini-ship.

Apart from that, and the few items Gravallax had on him, they cleaned out the entire base. If only Deckard had waited a few more days the ship would have been fixed too, but who knows if the same opportunity would have arisen again.

Somewhere, out there, is a Vorandan invasion fleet, an endlessly tumbling beholder statue, Senitnelav the Beholder (who will want his Staff of Power back and Gravallax’s Dreamstone), a missing storm god, a Starwhal sent to investigate Voranda Prime to look for hundreds of dead infant Starwhals and some Githyanki Knights who will have tortured the secret of the Hammer Ship out of their captives by now and will, most likely, be hunting for them.

All-in-all, not a bad couple of months work.

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